Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wounds of the Earth!

Wounds of the Earth is an industrial music webzine and net label started by D4N B4RR3TT in Baltimore in the early 2000s. D4N has been the leading force behind a few bands such as Worms of the Earth and Ghosts in the Clock Tower, and sometimes plays keys live for Vicious Alliance.

The website used to be located at and older works are achieved there.

However, due to time pressures on D4N and everyone else who works for the zine, it has been experimentally moved to blog format and can be found here:

In addition to facilitating faster/easier updates, this format also allows readers to comment on articles more easily which we hope will facilitate a richer, more horizontal communication across the scene.

Most writers are members of Mid-Atlantic industrial bands (such as Bajskorv, Worms of the Earth, Vicious Alliance) and many more are active supporters of local scenes, in that region particularly but also elsewhere.

Bands interviewed or reviewed thus far include Alter Der Ruine, Autoclav 1.1, Bajskorv, Dahlia's Tear, Embodi, Engelmacher, Experiment Haywire, Glacial Movement Records, Gross Prophet, Lord Leviathan, Project: Wiretapper, Razing Darkness, Re: dux tion, Scrap.edx, Stigmata NL, To Mega Therion, Velvet Acid Christ, Vicious Alliance, Viscera Drip, Xaos, A Crown of Light, Alien Vampires, Circle of the Weak, Dawn of Ashes, Detritus, Grendel, Failed Utopia, It- Clings, Manufactura, Necroanal, Netherworld, Total Pain Kollapz, and many more...

Friday, May 30, 2008

VAC's Biggest Hit

Fun With Knives has to date been Bryan Erickson/Velvet Acid Christ's best selling album. In one of those back alley corners of the net I recently found myself sitting at a table with a few other insomniacs trying to figure out why this was. Was it the production? The promotion? The composition? I thought long and hard... I decided that while personally I think Calling Ov the Dead is a better album musically, there's something else, beyond the music, that has insured a very special place for FWK in the hearts and memories of everyone who was part of the scene back in '99.

The year it was released, two students who went to school a few miles away from where FWK was written showed up for class one day with guns and proceeded to shoot a bunch of people. Starting that night in the press, in politics, in our parents and school administrator's heads, it became open season on the weird kids. No one wanted to talk about what kind of life or future kids today are looking at, or how poorly their schools fail at inspiring them to become anything, or how maybe their parents and families are fucked up because America fucks up its parents and its families. It was all just blame music and blame Marilyn Manson and kids getting yanked out of class for wearing trench coats.

I was yanked out of class the year after because there was a rumor I was going to kill people because I wore a trench coat- which I purchased after the Columbine shootings to protest the subsequent stupidity of everyone. A year after that I was taken to a meeting with the principal, the guidance counselor, one or two other administrators, and my parents, because I read Maldoror for summer reading (you can still read my origional report here ). They sent me to be examined by another psychologist... who concluded I was perfectly fine. Yet I still had to sign a piece of paper saying I wouldn't bring guns to school or shoot anyone- Jesus F. Christ- Like that would stop anyone... how many pieces of "international law" have we signed and has that ever stopped a tank or a plane with an American flag on it?

Two weeks later terrorists flew planes into the world trade center and 90% of America was in favor of giving the dumbest executive in history weapons and letting him use them to kill whoever he wanted so we could feel better about ourselves. The final nail in this coffin of irony was seeing the psychologist I was sent to again... It was a completely chance encounter. He came out to the protest we called for the day bombs started to fall in Afghanistan. A more throughly Calargian experience I've never heard of.

I have my own highly personal post-columbine experiences, but I'm sure that anyone in school at that time who knew what Industrial Music or Metropolis records was could on cue recall several of their own.

Then FWK came out, and it was like: BAMB!

It was like discovering Punk Rock for the first time. Finally- something that takes everything I'm feeling but I'm afraid or unsure about how to express and warts and all with no makeup somebody is finally IN ESTABLISHMENT'S FACE!

Maybe Bryan just wanted to write a fun serial killer album because that's a popular theme in this culture... but all of a sudden it became a political album because of the context in which it was released. You blasted it because it was the biggest Fuck You to all the BS about cracking down on weirdos and attacking alternative music. In the early 90s Christian Slater could bring a gun with blanks to school to freak out bully jocks with.... We can't do that anymore without being arrested but we could blast fun with knives....


That's the middle finger that album was for me at that time.



Apparently Colorado has learned absolutely nothing about school and children in the past decade. Today with my own eyes I learned that in the town of Kremmling in Grand County, CO, on the field in front of the Grand County High School there is a fucking Apache attack helicopter mounted on a stick aiming for the school right beside the American flag. I am not fucking kidding these kids are fucking doomed...

We love guns... we love killing people... we train our kids for and instill what they are there for in their heads every day BY MOUNTING A FUCKING ATTACK HELICOPTER IN THEIR YARD!

Incidentally I'd really like to do a Laughing Fish you tube TV documentary interview with this school. If anyone out there wants to be my photographer/videographer and help me do a story on this I would really really really like your help.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scars and Stripes review on Chain D.L.K.

"The solution to reach an authentic sound output can't be found in to copy just another Hellectro act"

Looks like our little album has crossed the mighty ocean and wound up on a German industrial review site. Sweetness!

Artist: BAJSKORV [ cawright2007 {at} yahoo {dot} com ]
Title: Scars And Stripes
Format: CD
Label: Buried Electric
Rated: 4/5 stars

Releasing under their own label moniker Buried Electric, we like to welcome this newcomer duo. Though the band name sounds quite Russian, they are hailing out of the North-Eastern area (VA, DC, MD) of the United States. Consisting of Christian Wright (machines and programming) and Juan Monarez (lead vocals and lyrics), this duo produces a rough sort of Electro/Industrial music dealing with influences of classic Industrial acts like THROBBING GRISTLE or CONTROLLED BLEEDING, mixed with the harder Electro-sound of the early 90ies like :WUMPSCUT:, SKINNY PUPPY or VAC. And indeed, BAJSKORV offer a very explosive sort of music, which at times drifts between a straight and dancefloor-oriented attitude (“Kapital”, “Side Effects”) to a total chaotic wall of noise, which interrupts one or another song extremely (“No Escape”). That’s a quite interesting kind of work, it seems that they build a lot of content by chance and with an improvisational intention. So some of the songs have to walk a hard way to get back on track. That’s surely not really a smooth form of ear-candy, but it has its own rebellious kind. I would suggest them, to polish here and there some aspects of their production, but if this means, that they would cut out their Punk-like attitude, then this can’t be a serious recommendation. These talented musicians have recognized it right, that the solution to reach an authentic sound output can’t be found in to copy just another Hellectro act, so let’s congratulate them to this convincing album. Good, poisonous, but also addictive, I like to encourage them to keep on this way. And they are doing live performances, so if they invade in your area, make sure to check them out.

Review by: Marc Tater

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Statement

I love the outdoors and cookouts but there's a meaning to today's holiday and I intend to challenge it. This Memorial day I am not hanging up a flag, or a yellow ribbon, and I am not running around talking about how we need to support the military. Quite the opposite- the military budget dwarfs all others. We support the military by refusing to support children struggling with failing schools, or hard working Americans who can't afford privatized health care. America outsources every job it can and busts the unions at the ones it can't and has been lowering most Americans' standards of living for decades. Instead of decent jobs it gives us prisons or enlistment bonuses to repress people somewhere else.

I don't support this America at all.

I agree that it sucks to be in Iraq and soldiers over there totally get shafted with multiple deployments and having their PTSD classified as a "pre-existing condition" by pentagon doctors when they get back home... I want to recognize and support those people in some way...

But I completely disagree that our military is "defending our freedom". Our military is every day knocking down doors and kidnapping and interrogating and attempting to destroy any sentiment in Iraq or Palestine of Afghanistan that supports those countries being free, i.e., sovereign and unoccupied. The war was completely based on lies and was completely unnecessary and is a humanitarian disaster. Iraq is the biggest refugee crisis in the world. And for all the families from that country who can barely survive on the streets; the US has slammed its doors shut tight and is letting almost zero refugees in... countries in Europe who denounced the drive to war from the start have absorbed most of this burden without a bit of thanks or humility from the US.

I love living in Colorado but I'm not proud every time I see a homeless Native American with a sign and I think about how the US military kicked them out of their homes and shot them if they resisted before condemning them to barren reservations of poverty and despair. I'm not proud of our military killing 2 million southeast asians from 1945-1975 in order to manipulate the political future of a tiny, strategically insignificant nation.

Some of the people I miss the most in DC moved there with their families in the 1980s to flee a brutal dictatorship in El Salvador which Ronald Reagan was giving millions of dollars, military equipment, and intelligence to prop up. I'm certainly not proud of that, and I'm also not proud of the many similar interventions in central and south America we have conducted for two centuries.

One of the things I miss the least about DC is working in Georgetown. I'd be waiting tables making really good money... but some of the people who came in really challenged my sense of dignity to have to work for. One example is that on at least three occasions I can remember, a contingent of American military officers and Saudi Arabian military officers, with a politician or two sprinkled in, would come into our fancy restaurant and spend lots of money on nice wine and endangered Chilean sea bass. We're told everyday by pentagon spokesmen that the reason we are spending a billion a day in Iraq is to support "freedom" and "democracy"... But who are our allies in this endevour? The Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian hereditary monarchies! These are Islamist dictatorships where women can't drive cars, and democracy is tortured out of anyone who speaks out against the status quo. Great company we keep... I'm sure the leaders of our country and these can find a lot to agree on in their vision for a new Iraq.

I'm not proud of how the military is used at all. I'm also not proud of the fact that our economy sucks, the dollar is week, it costs $4 a gallon to fill up a tank of gas while minimum wage is only increasing to $7 by 2009. I'm not proud of the fact that in Oregon last November a 70 year old couple committed suicide along with their three dogs by running the cars in the garage because they were being kicked out of their home after they had gone bankrupt for the third time.

I'm not proud of the fact that the American military is one of the biggest sources of pollution in the entire world, and I'm also not proud of the fact that people are literally starving in third world countries right now because free trade agreements have driven local farmers out of work and replaced them by American agricultural imports whose prices for things like corn have drastically risen so that corn can be bought and made into ethanol in order to comfort Americans with a false sense of environmentalism.

I'm not proud of the role of military recruiters who turn our youth into mercenaries signing up to kill and die for something they don't believe in in order to get $20,000 signing bonuses, and not because of any sense of "patriotism", or because "we the people" actually believe the war is good or necessary or worth getting behind. I think for us to wave flags and celebrate this killing machine is completely absurd.

Our military is in the wrong. The myth that our country stands up for freedom is no longer believed by most of the world. We have a responsibility to confront and reign in the sickening spread of militarism and national chauvinism which like a cancer has been chewing away at every decent value left in America since 2001. Waving flags doesn't help this... Unthinkingly saying we need to "support the troops" doesn't help this either... it doesn't help them, marching off to historically high suicide rates, alcoholism, and PTSD (not to mention death), and it doesn't help anyone in the middle east, to who in every nation from Afghanistan to Palestine we're seen as the oppressor.

The soldiers I support are the ones with the courage to actually confront the war and break with the convenient conformity of unquestioningly marching off to it. The soldiers I support believe democracy lies in the every day actions of people making their own decisions, and not letting FOX news make up their minds for them. Those I support are today realizing that what they think is more important than what some president with the lowest approval ratings in history and a teetering cabinet of liars, torturers, and resignations thinks- or what any gaggle of fancy educated, big lettered yes-men from DC colleges living out their power fantasies by pushing pens in a think tank behind a safe desk in the beltway thinks.

The military stands above and lords over the people... it is not a lever of democracy. It does not defend freedom. It is not the "ally" of anyone who dreams of freedom in their heart, who detests oppression and ignorance, and who believes in humanity and truth. That flag doesn't represent me, and that military doesn't represent me. And I as a citizen of an increasingly authoritarian government masquerading as a "democracy" feel it is completely appropriate for me to make my thoughts known today.


Lucid Dream 5-17-08

The hens roosting between the roofs of my house share with myself and the impressionable younger brother of my best friend and former gang leader the view overlooking the prairie to the mountains whose peaks collapse to gentle slopes' eroded beds that twist and gnarl.

I recall to this audience the last time I was in Atlanta, to try and make sense of it all, maybe just for my own understanding, as for him it may already be too late to use anything of value from my telling, and these hens won't be around for long to share their side of the story, if we want to eat tonight that is...

To awaken on the wrong side of some racially historic interstate in day old dusty pajamas and white undershirt with a dried out brain of spent wine and dim memories of the night before... Beneath the hot sun I may as well just strip bare and walk to the nearest thrift store forsaking my bike in nearby storage to push this mickey mouse baby carriage along instead. Its necessity would not be reveled until later.

Making my way beneath the curtains and the beads of gypsy moth spotted assorted colors, fabrics, appliances and attitudes I pick up these fluttering shards of plastic clinging about my ankles and pull them up over my bare skin to cover at least enough though I doubt the old woman watching things would care.

Drifting further through the chambered, layered, dimensions of this grubby retailer I find clothes tight and fashionable better suited to my own purposes. Walking forth clad in plastic precious few pockets exist in which to store any currency. However I have conveniently hidden away some change inside my socks. It must have been mid day before I arose or else the nearby fusion reactor in the sky would not have had enough time to motivate me protect my bare soles from this sidewalk scotching heat.

Spare change of 50 cents or less nickled, dimed, etc., for my 35 cent bill... which is presented to me as a credit card receipt for $35.00, which I do sign, instinctively, as all unquestioned, undebated, unforeseen service charges of late. Some wise mechanic's recommendations...

Upon realizing my mistaken naiveté at the hands of this chained, pierced, tattooed vendor I stare at the receipt for what I knew not. The off green skin and impenetrable maze of fashionably cropped black hair stared back at me while I wondered if whatever x-ray vision the eyes on the other side of that barrier had evolved in order to see out were observing now as well.

Coming away from that argument, wheeling these many boxes of bulk and nasty clothing through the streets on my baby carriage, my corner eye's disconcertion pulls me from the two AM switchblade degrees of shifty to a whole new level of deepest fear. Not of passing social phenomenon, but unavoidable self destruction whose timing in no way could I control. No one quick dodge, or well placed blow, or effective argument from my own tried and tested repertoire is going to work out here. Nothing it seemed could gaurentee my or anyone's safety anymore.

The first of these women of endearing or not faces and proportions that I spotted in a pink pig suit complete with nose piece and hot pink shoes coming at me, not in panorama or stampede, but slowly and unendingly; a wall advancing breaking up to sack the aisles of torn consignments, my own as well perhaps...

Out on the street well on my way I abandoned all thought of retrieving my bicycle from storage, which given my load could not have been ridden while carrying all this anyway.

The stream continued but was no longer uniform, of any one color or design. A vested, collared, black tie hat and mustache predominately female contingent appeared next, followed by other, happy, laughing, mostly clad in old halloween costumes, or their own designs which copied the same with better, more durable, street tested fabrics and armour. Green lizards, firemen, white ghost facepaint long since marooned patiently behind some dumpster of passing goth hyperbole on tour through the late 90s...

The jovial nature of those surroundings qualified by concealed weaponry marched calm and uniform through the streets and laughing indeed. But in that touch of sea green beneath the clouds blowing in off the coast the water always turns to soup; the fish to toxic, tentacled, beasts; and the foul to shitting, diving, menace...

A shot may have rang. Or the weaker of one tribe, surrounded by his own- and beyond them- the indifference of others' say. Too late, all too late, in the eyes of his or her comrades having tasted the blood of their own for the first time. Overcome. These beasts are unable to stop themselves until each had drunk their fill, which afforded me the diversion needed to extract myself.

* * *

I think your better judgment might take away something of the positive from this recent confrontation. I hope and pray- with all the fearful, cynical, hope (against hope!) that was taught to me by those I have come to know who served on U-boats, were bombed and divided, spied for by the cold war, and finally scattered away at once too weary to defend anything anymore...

My guilt, years ago, in advocacy of such behavior, which you yourself, and your peers, seem to have imitated, innovated, and perverted since then...

When we founded the _______ punk rock street gang no one else was in a punk rock street gang. No one cared. People still believed that street gangs were violent, murderous, and bad. Our rehabilitation of the mentality was always inspired by a desire to appropriate the organizational form for something more positive, meaningful, and politically responsible. It was not dozens, but hundreds, of flags we burned that autumn of black, throat slitting, jingoism. It was the pillage of Native American lands, recounting the interventions abroad of this nation across two centuries of puppet republics' never ending appetite. We read Malcom X and Howard Zinn beside the train tracks in their summer shade of overpasses, breeze, and burritos. Or up all night @ the Innovox down beneath the Ford Factory lofts; where everything I hoped and thought was revealed, and was denied. By the farce, historical, determination of things...

I hear the reports today on the radio of what you're doing now. Cocaine, killing each other, automatic weapons modification, turf war in your clown suits- as regular and predictable as the full moon or a Friday night.

Scared young bodies, serrated, buried...

The organizational form, imitated, put in motion, without the application of conscious political leadership, eventually and inevitably disintegrated back into its basest, primordial, level. In less than six years of absence... Was it inevitable? Should I be blamed for the final result of naive, youthful, gang advocacy?

In the desert man has a way of hiding from things. It takes a lot for a cause or a reason to drag itself across everything and over here to make itself felt. We're looking at the sky on fire twice a day with the rise and setting of every sun.

I don't think the way you came here really has much chance of any better answer getting weaseled out of me.

Are you going back?

If you do, bring me news of the ones who were everything, but who today do not return my texting or myspace messages.

Letter to a Myspace artist

(Originally published on MS, May 12th 2008)

Promoting yourself on MS seriously fucks with your identity as a musician.

I have a friend on here, who will call "Barlow". "Barlow" is not this friend's real name... Barlow is the name of my awesome friend who lives in New Orleans and lets me borrow his video camera from time to time. I am using "Barlow" instead of this other friend's actual name because I don't want to publicly criticize him, as I think he's a great musician. I do however, want to publicly discus what I have to say to him.

Anyways, I went to high school with "Barlow". He has since been doing music more and more and seriously promoting himself online. I talked to him on the phone, once and only briefly, since high school. Today I have no idea who this person is.

I'm making my letter to this individual public because it raises a lot of questions I'd like us to think about and maybe discuss (ideally not on here, but in real life). I'm thinking that myspace and the net in some ways might be more of a bad than a good thing for music. But that's a whole other story...

(A few other minor details have also been changed from my original letter for the sake of privacy, but this is 99% of the original).


Dear Barlow,

Ok... so myspace is weird.

Our identities are totally fucked up by it. Am I some badass industrial rock star because my pictures look like it, and on a few occasions I- who am usually introverted and don't approach women I think are really hot- have been helped with the ladies by having a mohawk? Or did I just spend all weekend studying Italian wine and food because I got a job at a restaurant because I don't make money off music? Am I a musical fuck up or musically up and coming? You can get paid really well in restaurants... if I made $28-$40k a year in one am I part of the modestly successful "middle class" or am I a fuck up with a worthless degree buried down deep in the service sector?

So much of doing music, and then getting on MS, is hype & bullshit. You gotta write your own press where you write about yourself in the third person because no one else is doing your website/PR for you. There's no accountability at all. When we were on tour we decided that we could have just stayed home, laid low, and "made up" a bunch of venues all after the other and say we toured, make fake press releases and flyers with fake bands' names on it and fake addresses of fake venues, and then try to fool people into thinking we were bigger than we were. We didn't do this, but if we did- we could have saved a fuck ton on gas money- and who at home would have been any wiser?

You're another example of this. I mean- I went to high school with you. We might have even gone to middle school together too- that is getting foggy. But I honestly don't know if any of your "bio" is true or not. A lot of it sounds fake, but some of it might even have been real. And the big parts I know about your life that are real- why aren't they on there? Why aren't you proud of who you are, where you're from, and what your life's journey has been?

Your music and voice sounds like it could be really powerful... but a lot of YOU that is public doesn't sound like it's real or from the soul at all. It sounds like a gimmick and fake and to me that really turns me off from wanting to hear what lyrics you have to sing about the world.

Your location says "Atlanta, NYC, Memphis, Vegas, LA, Miami, Montreal". But what does that mean? Have you ever been to Montreal? Did you go there once to play a show? Did you go to college there and were you part of a band? For all I know you could either be some super successful musician, or you could be living with mom and working in retail. You could have a $60,000 car or you could be taking the bus. I have no idea.

When I went to school with you, you were Barlow- this kinda geeky kid who plays the viola and talks about modern classical music. I never knew if you really felt the music that much and were really into the viola, or you just pretended you were because (seriously- who the fuck plays the viola?) it gave you some little bit of 'quirky', 'interesting' personality that might have helped you fit in a little better at a school. I certainly found my own pigeonhole like that to lie in with spiky hair, punk rock, and dark jackets...

But reading your stuff you don't sound like Barlow from Atlanta. You sound like a bullshitter from LA or Vegas. Like every other word out of your mouth is so uber-cool and poetic I wonder if it's covering for something. You talk about drinking a lot. I never saw you at a party or with a drink or even heard you talk about drinking in school. Are you an alcoholic aged beyond his years by the whiskey? Can you control your drinking, or do you have a long line of burnt bridges and pissed off ex-friends behind you? Or are you just playing with the hype?

I certainly talk up bourbon a lot and defend my liking of Guns N Roses, swimming in rivers, and shooting stuff, because a lot of times I'm worried someone is going to call me a redneck or look down on me for being from the South, so I put that up there as a way to deflect it. Whiskey is sexy I guess... it makes people seem old and wise, dramatic and potentially violent... like the Mississippi delta or the womanizing of Elvis Presley or Gary Thomas Rowe or the bootleggers who started NASCAR. There's something so sexually attractive about it's association with the South...

But at the same time... some of my best friends in the South are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics and I don't find that sexy at all. It doesn't make me want to have sex with them or go out drinking with them or party with them at the dance club or the concert... It makes me want to give them a hug, or a phone call, and have a serious conversation.

Your you-tube videos have a heck of a lot of hits... Do you have a full time publicist? Are you on a label with people that promote them for you? Do live in your mom's basement and spend 14 hours a day promoting them all over the net? Do you have a huge persona online but really only have less than five real life friends you can call when you need someone to talk to? Shit... My profile says I have "338" friends. My band's profile says I have "3390" friends, and my solo project says I have "527" friends....

But when I'm feeling down- usually over a relationship that's going rocky- I don't know a single goddamned person I think will let me call them any time of day and will help me out with an ear... Maybe there are like 2 people like that.... MAYBE... but still... my birthday came and went this year and I don't think I had anyone at all notice or call me. I spent my birthday not with anyone I care about but by being the only guy on I-85 driving from Atlanta to DC on New Years' Eve getting ready for tour. Clock struck twelve at the Kannapolis rest area and I saw more deer than people all night. Maybe I'm someone, even a little someone, on MS... I sacrifice my damn birthday and don't party at all for that band- for that image- and no one in real life gives a shit.

Your music is good. Your voice is really fucking good. I had no idea your voice was that good. And your guitar playing is very good. I had no idea you even played the guitar.

Part of me doesn't even believe it's you recorded there... like maybe those are someone else's songs and your whole music profile is just some big joke you made in your free time.

Your new post about having an EP out says it was produced by "Bill Palmer". Who the fuck is Bill Palmer? I don't listen to any of the artists you say he has also produced, so I have no idea if he's real or not. I did a search online and I find a Bill Palmer who's the Mayor of a city in North Carolina, a Bill Palmer whose a painter, a jazz pianist named Bill Palmer who taught for 30 years, and a Bill Palmer who's an executive producer of soap operas.

Finally after lots of searching I found someone by that name whose got a lot of pictures of them with a guitar in front of some crowds. That's probably who you're talking about. But even there, it says his age is 71 but he's obviously not that old. And I don't know if the pics are of him or if they're made up. Once again that's not really my music scene so I'm at even more of a disadvantage.

For all I know Bill Palmer is your cousin and does drums on fruity loops and records through a crappy Mic on a crappy M audio soundcard and mixes poorly on crappy M audio speakers. Or he's some famous touring guitar player who threw down a couple thousand for you on pro studio time (in which case why do so many of your videos look like you recorded them yourself at home and why is there any background hiss at all in them?).

So dude- buddy- Who the hell are you? What are you doing with the internet? What are you off the internet? Are you as confused about these questions as I am?

Your friend and fellow myspace artist,


Misanthropy vs Activism in Industrial Music

(originally published April 29, 2008 on MS)

Thus, then, in Strategy everything is very simple, but not on that account very easy. Once it is determined from the relations of the State what should and may be done... then the way to it is easy to find; but to follow that way straightforward, to carry out the plan without being obliged to deviate from it a thousand times by a thousand varying influences, requires, besides great strength of character, great clearness and steadiness of mind, and out of a thousand men who are remarkable, some for mind, others for penetration, others again for boldness, or strength of will, perhaps not one will combine in himself all those qualities which are required to raise a man above mediocrity...

-Carl Von Clausewitz, On War

Deciding what to think about the world is one thing. Being able to consistently act on such deduced principles is quite another, and far more difficult. I agree that some sort of upsurge from below is necessary to shake our country's politics up from the severely deranged state at which they're presently arranged.... and I also feel that in the United States where organized opposition to the status quo is very weak, and recent political periods have seen very little in the way of any sort of collective struggles from below doing much or getting anywhere, it's pretty hard for a lot of people to figure out what- if anything- they can do upon deciding that revolt "ought" to happen.

What do you do with yourself if you think society ought to be changed and people ought to do something for themselves, but it appears that not everyone agrees that this should be done or is even possible? Do you attempt to substitute your own particularly radical and militant actions for a mass movement that does not exist? Or do you bow down to the current level of prostration and just wait on the sidelines to eventually cheer lead whatever movement (plagued of course by all sorts of inevitable missteps and manipulation) may eventually arise?

Even if you can find a good, honest, serious group of people to work with, being a political activist with a longer term perspective for years at a time is a very difficult commitment... particularly in the US where there's such mass alienation from political participation. Any political group you take your pick of tends to be approached by most Americans in the same way and with the same gloves as they would approach any other beggar. With or without the stench of liquor and lack of deodorant; someone is asking for you to part with some money or time (which are one and the same, really) for something they want that they may or may not convince you to totally support or believe in and you're most likely to either ignore them, or to just give them a small donation- not to affect any real change in condition- but to feel better about yourself.

Take a look at most people out there on the street with a table and some lit they're pitching... a lot of them are getting paid to be there whether they believe in it or not and if they want your vote for a candidate today they're probably not interested in talking to you tomorrow.

What the hell does this have to do with industrial music?

Industrial, like the punk scene it came from, has always been a bit of a magnet for people rebelling against the status quo. It has always contained images and lyrics that attack established political systems and religions, and young people already estranged from mainstream society find in it a very welcome and all too rare affirmation that they’re not the only ones who are seeing through society’s hypocrisy and looking for alternatives. The music is almost always upbeat, energetic, and confrontational. You hear this stuff and you go to these clubs and this scene becomes one of the few places in most cities you can go to be surrounded by other people who also think like you.

One band whose political honesty and commitment I’ve admired for a long time is Velvet Acid Christ. Not only do they often sing about poignant political issues, but they do this in a way that never appears "forced" or "mechanical", and is always very well integrated into the art. Earlier VAC may have done this a bit more prominently ("Revolution 101", "Intussisception", "Satan Complex 42", etc...), but the thread of political confrontation has run throughout its entire history.

This is one of the things that sets them apart in the best way possible from a scene whose lyric content has for years been ripped to shreds through countless blasts of mindless sexuality to rival the worst of 80s hair metal

escapist fantasy,

and the utter hopelessness of advocated do-nothingism/glorification of feeling sorry for yourself.

Even where tiny bits of political metaphor do work their way into the 'industrial scene' aesthetic it's almost always completely devoid of content.

That's a cool looking flyer, right? With this soviet realist image on it, looking perhaps a bit "industrial" and "hard" and "authoritative". It looks interesting; but what does it mean? Does it mean "let's have a conversation about revolutionary socialism"? Does it mean "Stalinism is socialism and that is better than what we have so let's fight for it"? Does it mean "Communism is evil like Capitalism is evil and fucked up images of the fucked up world are cool on flyers for fucked up music?" Does it mean "Fight the power"? Or "forget about fighting"? Nobody knows. It's just this generic thing.

When bands bring real politics and issues into music and treat them seriously, it helps to give confidence and validation to some of society’s most creative and thoughtful people, who often have the right political instincts, but who are often isolated and think they're the only ones thinking what they're thinking. Insofar as this occurs I think bands like this are fulfilling a positive political role.

But beyond that, I think more often than not the kinds of answers you get from many "political" industrial bands to the above questions about where you can put your energies to contribute to some kind of positive change are usually pretty discouraging. Misanthropy, defined by as "hatred, dislike, or distrust of humankind", seems to hold sway over the minds of many (if not most) bands in this scene. This in turn influences fans, and often does far more to re-enforce than it does to challenge the ideas we're taught by schools, politicians, churches, and the media from the day we're born: That "experts" of people smarter than us are running the world, they're the only ones who can or ever will, and we'd best stay out of their way and not try and resist when they seem to be driving us over a cliff.

Misanthropy is very seductive, usually very painfully learned, and hard to break out of. It's also a bit of a cop-out in that it's a lot easier to adopt than is trying to answer in practice the eternally difficult questions about how do you put yourself out there in the real, political world, in a way that isn't a waste of time and actually has an impact.

Regarding the example of VAC I love his music, but Bryan Erickson is probably the crankiest cynic about humanity I've ever met. Like him a lot of goths and rivetheads seem to dismissively blame “humanity” in general for the arrogance and destruction which only a relatively small handful of decision makers are actually directly responsible for. Rather than seeing themselves as partisans in a fight to open humanity’s eyes and discover its own potential, too often members of this subculture seem convinced that they can somehow live “outside of” or “above” it, and that it’s everyone else’s passivity that to be blamed for all that’s wrong. Double standards and elitism are not unique to any one music scene. But for this genre- which is already so overtly subversive, and whose members are often so intelligent- this is a big disappointment to have to slog through whenever it crops up.

Of course no one is to be personally blamed for their individual shortcomings of not being able to Byronically break out of a 30 year political deep freeze alone on a rock star motorcycle like Eddie in Rocky Horror... Individual willpower can never fully transcend economic and political realities. But what is true about artists is that they have fans looking up to them for a lead and they take what they see and adopt it. Whether they like it or not bands set the tone for the way a lot of people view the world, and if their members are content not to take that responsibility seriously, their fans will continue to suffer for it.

Art and Activism

Artists can't give a political lead to their scene through their actions alone. A movement must exist that they can relate to, interact with, and participate in. This is because artists like anyone else are products of a historical period. They can't operate outside of it any more than anyone else. Ultimately, it’s what is happening politically in a society-not just what any artist is saying or doing- that determines how far and how deep their influence has a chance of spreading.

Think about what it meant for the Clash to play at Rock Against Racism in 1978, or for Rage Against the Machine to play to a crowd of demonstrators and get pepper sprayed outside the Democratic National Convention in 2000. Think about the people who looked up to these bands and what sort of political conclusions they were drawing at that time. The mass movements of the Anti-Nazi League and the Global Justice movement that were aggressively moving forward at these times were able to give these artists more relevance than they ever could have had through their own efforts in any other time.

With regards to my own work with Bajskorv, the song "Blood, Like Rain" would never have been written if kids at Seattle Central Community College didn't protest and kick out military recruiters in January 2005- and help inspire similar actions across the country, including at GWU in DC where I was involved in this when I wrote it. Similarly I don't think "Pais de Sangre" would ever have been written, and certainly would not have been recorded with so much passion, if Juan Monarez didn't have the experience of participating in the immigrants' rights marches in April 2006 in DC. If either Juan or I were writing songs in the USA in say 1997 or 2008, it's quite doubtfully that they would be as politically moving. And if there wasn’t an antiwar or an immigrant rights movement that millions of people knew about and had been a part of, these songs would never have connected with people as deeply as they have.

Today things appear superficially stagnant... though I wouldn't say hopeless. For the past eight years I have been very actively political- always part of something- and riding all the ups and downs alongside others who also had faith and determination. In that time I saw a lot of things come and go and a lot of people's hopes not pan out. In light of all that time it is hard for me to figure out what to do with myself and how to keep my faith in ideas I feel are morally right, and which historically make sense, while every day I'm bombarded by ideological bullshit from every angle, and painful life experience drags me down into thinking that the few great inspiring movement and events I have been able to be a part of are simply exceptions to a general rule: that people are stupid and bad and vice-ridden and I should try and have as little to do with them as possible.

But the point I'd like to emphasize, and argue through with people in this scene, is that there is a value to getting involved, getting out of your comfort zone, to talking to other people, to dropping your egoism and pride and sitting down in a room like someone else's equal and having a conversation with them about what you can do, and trying to build events and movements today even though they may appear futile and even though they may experience setbacks and defeats while you're with them.

Through my experiences with life, politics, people, and the world, I've definitely fucked a few things up, and I’ve definitely had my share of disappointment. But I've also been able to see people at their very best. I've seen change happen and I've seen things I never thought possible occur. Some people can say "people will never change", or "no one cares", but I will never be able to say that because through my own experience I know this isn't true.

When I was 16 like most artsy punk rockers and rivetheads I felt depressed, powerless, and alienated. But then I did something not everyone does and it profoundly changed the way I was able to get through the next few years, as well as what conclusions I was able to draw about Americans, humanity, politics and change: I got into a car and I got out of my neighborhood and the parties and the hanging out smoking cigarettes outside of school, and the petty personal dramas and the bad TV, and I went downtown where things were going on, where there was organizing and people inspired by the Seattle WTO protests and political debates, where there were meetings and forums at 24 hour cafes, and free entrance to an exciting artsy-political cinema run by punk rockers, anarchists and socialists at Georgia State University. I've been in those circles ever since. If I had never taken that first step beyond just reading online about what other people were doing- and actually went down to Little 5 Points to join a march against the Carter Center which presided over undemocratic elections which kept Nader out of the debates in 2000- I never would have met that world and I never would have had the following transformative experiences of

-Marching against a horrible war with 11 million other people on Feb 15th, 2003
-Seeing hundreds of thousands of women and men amassed on the Washington Mall in April 2004 which sent a message to the country that people are tired of sexism and ignorance and the inaccessibility of sexual health care.
-Organizing with other Georgians and reaching out to communities I'd ordinarily never interact with to build a demonstration to tell the Nazis to fuck off in Gainesville, Ga and Little Five Points, Atlanta
-Making a republican GWU student who interns at the white house cry and appear completely discredited when veterans came back at her contempt for people who die in wars at a panel of 50 people I helped organize to let antiwar activists, Iraq and Vietnam war veterans tell their side of the story.
-Giving Bush the middle finger and yelling "fuck you" as his motorcade drove by at his second inauguration with thousands of others saying the same thing right next to me.
-Standing outside the White House with ~250,000 angry antiwar demonstrations in September 2005
-Getting on the news for being part of a demonstration at college graduation where we turned out backs on the speaker (the first president bush) all during his speech, in the course of which me and the other guy in the action looked at hundreds of angry conservative bourgeois and stared them and security down and we were not moved.
-Working with people who are very different than myself at jobs where we've been able to come together and take small- but meaningful- actions to get a little better deal when the managers have tried to pull bullshit on us.
-Working in a restaurant with a predominately undocumented immigrant workforce, where every day we had to watch Lou Dobbs' bullshit on the bar's TV while making food for DC policy makers who think people who work there shouldn't be allowed to visit their children who they haven't seen in years while they've been toiling away- and then finally standing up one day in April 2006 when we didn't work and instead we marched through the streets and demanded amnesty and equal rights for everyone.

I guess that is a partial list of things I've done in my life that really stuck with me. Some things had more of a direct impact than others... but even where movements have come and then gone back into the shadows for a while (ex, where the hell did the antiwar movement go? Abortion rights are still under fire, why no sustained activism or organized clinic defenses?), there's something psychological that has stuck with me and transformed who I am. Seeing that many people take time out of their lives for such important causes on so many occasions, seeing that many people in a numerical superiority to their oppressors- hiding behind security- knowing that it's possible for people to give a shit and to do something about it, seeing people overcome racial and national and sexual barriers to fight the people that hold them both down- I've learned to be a lot more confident, to be unafraid to stand up to bullshit, and to be unafraid to take those small leaps of faith now and then when your heart is telling you to do something but your mind is telling you you're afraid or you can't or you're not sure how people will react....

And most importantly I've seen change happen. I saw abolitionists plugging away against the death penalty for years in relative obscurity until Stan Tookie Williams was about to be executed and then all of a sudden people all around the country blew up at the injustice of this crime. I sat in tiny meetings of sometimes 2 and sometimes 3 and sometimes 5 people to try and pull together some kind of organization against the war... and then I've seen the seemingly impossible happen when ~70 people I've never seen before came out to an action we called in September 2005 which was only made possible by that long, hard, unfruitful work of preparation beforehand. Today the death penalty is on the defensive nationally, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who still believes in the war who doesn’t also believe that God created the earth and man in 7 days. Who would have ever thought this would have been possible in the late 90s, or in November 2001?

My ability to have this perspective about change, and to have participated in these movements, has been largely due to coincidences of time and history. Of course, people who grew up in different times and places may have had different experiences and that will have a big role in determining how they view politics and activism. But when I look at the history of any genre of music, and at industrial in particular, I’m always surprised by how many exceptions there have been to this rule, and how many of the strongest political acts made their mark at times when it wasn't necessarily so acceptable to be outspoken. Here’s just a few examples off the top of my head:

-In the 1980s in Maggie Thatcher’s England Test Dept. took at a stand for numerous marginalized struggles, such as the Miners' strike in 1984, or the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa throughout the decade.
-In addition to its well known positions against animal testing, Skinny Puppy denounced the Iran-Iraq war, which the US was instrumental in perpetuating and which few seemed concerned with at the time, in the song VX Gas Attack.
- Laibach denounced ethnic fighting in the Balkans in no uncertain language in 1994 with its album "NATO", and played a show in Sarajevo where they gave out NSK passports to people who were able to use them to flee the country.
-Leaetherstip's "White Disgrace" is probably one of the most powerful antifascist songs to ever have come out of any genre, and Claus Larsen’s bravery in coming out about his sexuality, enduring the abuse of people who turned his back on him, and writing a very powerful song about it (“I was born that day”) is incredibly moving and inspirational- whatever your own sexual orientation.
-In the early 80s, while the president of the United States was convinced that AIDS was God's punishment for homosexuals; Coil produced a dramatic and moving cover of Soft Cell's "tainted love", and they donated proceeds from record sales to medical research on the virus.

You Can’t Keep Dancing...

Industrial today, in the era of "This Shit Will Fuck You Up", is a sick and confused genre. Increasingly devoid of any meaningful content, it all too often seems like actually giving a fuck about the world is as big a faux pas to some people as is wearing blue jeans and a Marilyn Manson shirt to a goth night.

The point of this article and the point for me of doing Bajskorv has been to make the case, through art, that there's a value to being social, to going to events, to working with other people, and to getting to where you can see a bit of your own power, and keep some of that hope alive.

If anyone out there in the scene today were to sit down and read every book about politics or philosophy ever written and become completely sure of the 'correct' political ideology they probably wouldn't feel any less isolated or mopey. But if we get the hell away from the computer, the drugs, and the drink for a while, and take a chance here and there to reach out of ourselves to act in the real world on our convictions, whenever the opportunity is present... I think we could all find plenty reasons to be a bit more hopeful about things.

If we're not doing that, and we're not trying to integrate our art and music with socially meaningful themes that have a relation to what’s going on in the here and now, I want to ask the scene: How much longer can we keep pretending that looking sexy, having a strange hair cut, eating the right food, or knowing how to dance well is going to count for a goddamned thing when the sea levels swallow New York and Miami, when we can no longer afford the cost of transportation to and from our jobs, when people we know are still being sent to Iraq, when jobs continue to be outsourced, when our kids are getting asthma from breathing in our cities' air, and the only advice we get from the "professional" commentators is to tighten our belts, scapegoat immigrants, blame Muslims, and obediently vote for this or that bought and paid for politician so they can "fix" things for us?

Like Jello Biafra said, "You can't keep dancing when your legs are blown off". It's time industrial artists heeded these words, and get a little more serious about being relevant.

This blog

So I stopped writing on this blog because no one reads it and I just posted on myspace because there I actually know people and they actually read things...

However my MS is set to private because I only want people I actually know there to be able to see all I read and write... however, sometimes I want to be able to share things with other non- MS using people (yes they DO exist!). So I am bringing this site back to life... I'll start by reposting a few noteworthy things that were missed here. Too much has passed since then to go over it all... in brief: I finished traveling and got back east... I lived in New Orleans for a month... I repainted my old apartment in DC and closed the lease though Horning Brothers is a dishonest company and is trying to steal my deposit from me which sucks. Then I did music tour with Bajskorv from Jan-March. Then I lived in North Georgia for a while and wrote some songs and hunted the wild turkey. Then I went to Atlanta for one day to see Abiku's show where I met a very very beautiful French Canadian woman that I spent the rest of my time in Georgia with. However I can't live there... so I packed up one last time and moved out here to Denver, Colorado where I live now. This was my favorite place of all I visited over the past 7 months/ 29,000 miles. I'm very happy here and I like it a lot.

I'm working on some more permanent housing before I set back up the studio and finish the new Savage Ideal album, which D4n from Worms of the Earth is collaborating on a few tracks for (they sound awesome!). In further musical collaboration news I wrote a song, "Annihilation Day" which is the last track on Experiment Haywire's new album. It's fun so pick it up. Abiku has two new albums out, both of which rock... Worms of the Earth's new Album had 500 copies pressed before it was realized that the mastering was totally horrible so those are now to be thrown away and it has to be remastered and repressed. Also I'm not getting paid at all for the track on the Experiment Haywire record as she like me and probably like D4n has sunk way more on her album that she will ever get back... but you should buy it anyway to support her. I didn't invest at all in the mastering or packaging, just wrote and did production on one track.

The last two pieces of all this is that I'm now to be writing for Wounds of the Earth webzine, and Brian Minton from B.E.C., my old post-high school band, is moving from Winnipeg back to Colorado in the fall so we should be able to jam some shit out together.

That's about it. I need to fix my car and the economic stimulus check had a malfunction with direct deposit so I'm anxiously awaiting a hard check. Also there are no Banks of Americas out here which sucks so I need to set up a new bank account with someone.