Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Will We Mobilize in 2009?

(Obama + election analysis + case for activism rather than people sitting on their hands waiting for a new president to fix everything for them)

"Expecting that voting democratic is going to end the war is like drinking light beer and expecting to loose weight"

-Adam Jung, Tent State University

People who don't have a lot, and who work harder for what they have than those who work rather lightly for an abundance, have resentment and distrust drilled into them from day one. In a time of economic or political crisis, capitalist politicians will acknowledge that, and speak more candidly to us "Joe the Plumbers", and tell us that they feel our pain. Usually of course they try and do it in a way that diverts our attention from the real problems (such as unemployment, losing a war, or falling wages), confuses the issues (like pretending the economic woes of an aspiring small businessmen who fits into a $250,000 tax bracket are essentially the same of those who are broke and jobless when rent is due) and tries to offer us some kind of panacea (such as bashing immigrants, bailouts for wall street, "tax cuts", militarism, etc...) instead of getting to the real root of the problems.

It took defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the financial crisis, for the arrogance of the American ruling class to become tempered, and for it to remember "soft power", and to look back nostalgically upon the years of its influence and international stature under the days of Clinton.

The Bush dynasty, like all hereditary political systems, demonstrates once again the negative effects of inbreeding on mental development. The more consolidated opinion became, in the executive branch and simultaneously amid the general society through media mergers, the dumber America became, and the easier it was for all to march united behind a lie; or if not, to want to throw up our hands in exasperation.... to grumble, to hide, and/or to not particularly threaten the status quo.

The economic and the military crises demonstrate the long-term failure of American political consolidation and rigidity. Dissenting voices were marginalized and ignored. Disastrous interventions were undertaken that any expert could have predicted the failure of. Banks were allowed to "self regulate", and wound up throwing all caution to the wind. Policies responsible for this have been building for decades, through Democratic and Republican congresses and Administrations. Bush does not deserve all the credit, but when the house of cards fell apart he was the one left holding the bag. Certainly what was bad policy only accelerated under him, and he is worthy of whatever retribution that may come his way, in this life or beyond...

At this point it is no longer possible to rule in the old way. The authoritarian and militaristic tendency represented by George Bush and his hangers on has brought the country to the brink. If Obama did not exist he could have been invented. But bourgeois democracy is still well enough alive that, at the moment pretty much everyone saw change as necessary, he was waiting in the wings, and stepped forth to make himself available.

Yet the Democratic congress has one of the lowest approval ratings of any congress ever. Protest against it has been muted by a greater hatred of the President among liberals, and the hopes that many have placed in getting Obama elected. But it's an important development that shouldn't be ignored. Democrats may well sweep in this election, but what reason do we have to feel their record would shift in any significant way from what it has been?

The Democratic voting base is unhappy. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi was really the political love child of a Hamlet and a Kerensky: domestically unwilling to fight either Bush or Wall Street on any matter of substance that would actually resonate with their voters; while simultaneously promising to a war-weary electorate that they would not only continue to fund the wars, but indeed, they would Win them (or at least, one of them).

Obama echoes this stance on Foreign policy. Domestically he's quite capable of inspiring "ordinary" Americans that a new era of openness, honesty, and "fair play" is right around the corner. His speech in Denver at the Democratic National Convention, and the tales of Job loss and health care abuse that preceded it, have made this clear. That this is a message Americans have been ready for some time is reflected in his standing in the polls, and presumably at the time of this writing, will be so in the election as well.

This may tempt many to ignore, or at least, be polite enough not to bring it up at the dinner table, that Obama wants MORE Americans to be recruited into the military, be trained in how to kill people, and then be flown into a middle eastern desert with assault rifles, tanks, and explosives to impose the same agenda George Bush first sent them there after. If you are an Iranian or a Pakistani Obama does represent a continuation of saber rattling against your national borders. If you are a Palestinian you can be pretty well assured that Israel's occupation of your country will continue, with all the home demolitions, economic blockades, "Apartheid Wall" erection, orchard destruction, and refugee camps that entails- the resolutions of the UN General Assembly be damned. If you are an active duty Iraq Veteran Against the War currently deployed you need not expect to be coming home any sooner than you were before the election.

JFK was too an idealistic, inspiring, young American president who seemed to breathe a breath of fresh air into a suffocating political climate when he was elected in 1960. His picture today is likely to appear next to that of Martin Luther King, Jr., as a "leader" of the civil rights movement. That he escalated the intervention in Vietnam, or organized the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba to overthrow a popular new government, is generally left out of such official histories...

Yet one of the many ironies of the 1960s was that thousands of young people, who had once found themselves "turned on" to politics, change, activism, and involvement by JFK himself, would some years later find themselves protesting his successor, demanding his resignation, and a halt to the destructive foreign policy that JFK, along with general media ignorance and goodwill, had quietly escalated while he was president.

"Rich White Men" do run the world. But they're smart enough to recognize it will take a Black Liberal to re-sell endless war to the American people. At the moment the needs of the Democratic Party, and by extension (quite clearly visible through a look at the names of large campaign donors) the more intelligent and far sighted elements of the American ruling class, are coinciding with a general desire for change, new ideas, and fresh approaches, among much of the electorate. Yet how far in the development of such a new political paradigm most "ordinary" Americans may be willing to go is likely to prove quite different from the caution- particularly on foreign policy- that an Obama administration would exert.

Take health care for instance- millions of Americans are convinced by Sicko, their own life experience, and even their own interpretations of the words of Obama himself that For-Profit, corporate health care is ineffective at best and an abomination at worst. Yet the Obama platform envisions a continued role for the private insurance industry: the very root of the problem!

The presidential debates as well reveal, like most mainstream sources of information, more by what they do not say than by what they do. The Candidates were asked, "What might you cut from your program for 'change' given the state of the economy?" Of course, as to be expected, they both responded evasively. But what was shocking was that no one mentioned cutting the war in Iraq.

Obama's plan for withdrawing a few combat units at a time over a period of 16 months is not based on any military assessment of what is needed, nor is it based on respect for the political disposition of Iraqi citizens. Least of all is the terrible (financial and human) cost of it all factored in. It is essentially a stall for time, that allows both Obama and Maliki to appear to be "ending" an occupation unpopular in both their countries, while (ideally) the Iraqi military might be able to build itself up to point where that state could survive with a limited (though not eliminated) American presence.

America is ready for political change. The ideologies of this country's inhabitants are in a state of flux. Textbooks on Free Market Economics that were printed only a few years ago can no longer be taken seriously by college students, let alone the "man on the street"... But this process is not complete, nor is it self-fulfilling. The confidence of stock market boosterism is gone; and while the same writers search frantically for answers in the very pages where once they cheer led the invasion of Iraq and the deregulation of Wall Street, the structure that keeps them as writers and keeps you as passive recipients of other people's news remains intact, albeit a little shaken. Ears are certainly open.

Are your mouths?

The Antiwar movement, with notable exceptions (particularly the role of IVAW, and the march in Denver after the Rage Against the Machine show), has pretty well shut itself up over the summer. It was great that Code Pink came out to protest at the DNC, but many of their members have also been donating a lot of money to Obama. High level members of UFPJ were on the conference calls in weekly meetings in the lead up to the protests, but there was no effort put into making Denver the sort of mass mobilization that has occurred time and again in the streets of Washington, DC, New York or San Francisco (geographic isolation and high gas prices notwithstanding).

What kind of message does that send?

In the lead up to an election the contradiction between promises, both inferred and spoken, and actual candidates' behavior may be well overlooked by their own supporters, for whom a presidential election may appear as one of the only tangible levers of power they will ever have the opportunity to pull. But in office it is unlikely that such a coalition of the people, and their new president, will be as solid as it has been in the lead up to November 4th.

Ideas are in flux. The old ones are being daily broken down and the new ones are for most intangible and only perhaps half ways developed. It is precisely here that our voices are crucially important. Will we mobilize in 2009 or will we "wait and see"? Is it possible that enough domestic reform might take place within the US for a public that deep down knows better to give the new Administration the benefit of the doubt with regards to foreign policy? And what are the costs of the left, and the antiwar movement, continuing to silence itself, particularly when the far right is passing anti-immigrant statues right and left at the local level across the nation?

No one who has lost their job, or who has seen their savings wiped out, will cheer the crisis. But no thinking leftist has any business to ignore the opportunities it provides. What new political alignment may emerge from an Obama administration will depend in large part on whether or not the left will point out the gap between rhetoric and reality and consistently push substantive change via the construction of responsive, independent, and grassroots sources of power- regardless of whether or not it they have already have any advocates in Washington.

The case for activism is easier to make now than it ever has been. Millions wait and hope, unsure if it is as yet a necessity. It is the job of a left to be there, "out and proud", listening and speaking alongside those whose condition is increasingly pushing it to be one.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Deer Hunting in the Rockies pt 2


But it was pretty.

This is the railroad just a mile or so before it enters the Moffat Tunnel, which cuts under that 12,000 ft mountain and comes out the other side. They had signs up asking you not to park by the rail yard, but there was a small forest road in good condition just off to the side and presumably off railroad property as well, so I camped out there.

If you have never been to the Moffat tunnel and you have a chance to check it out by all means take it. This tunnel is LONG and sees a lot of traffic. After every train goes through it, enormous fans turn on to blow out the bad air. The sound of them is impossible to describe correctly... At first you think it is an air raid siren, but in stead of cycling once it's reved up it hangs for a few minutes at the same pitch. Some folks might not exactly expect that on their alpine camping trip but I thought it was rather novel.

Looks kinda like a Batman movie or something, huh? All I can say is... that is pretty fucking goth-industrial.

There were many aspen trees for fires and they burned warm but the air was rather cold. As well it became rather windy at night. There was also an old, leaning over, abandoned house, and an old mine. The mine was open but was flooded. Still, neato.

In this area there was a lot of deer sign, and freshish tracks in the snow. In one area the snow was melted in three areas near each other where maybe deer had slept?

The other place I tried this out, also in the front range, was by this lake. This is the front of Mt Eva.

James peak is not visible but North (right) a little bit out of the frame. There were no deer here but there were a lot of bighorn sheep. One day there were three, crossing the front of this mountain right where you can see pathways. One had a radio collar on. The next day there was a herd of a half dozen or so up in the basin on the right, eating grass. I can now very well tell the difference between what deer poop and what sheep poop looks like.

More mountains:

It snowed in the middle of my week long permit. Driving back to Denver at that time the clouds looked like this:

While we are on the subject of front range mountain photography, here are pictures from attempt no 2 on Bard peak. According to SummitPost:

"At 13,641 feet this high thirteener is the 176th highest peak in Colorado and the 12th highest in the Front Range. Due to the relatively low peaks that surround Bard the views from the summit are excellent in all directions. Another advantage to Bard is the lack of people that climb it. For being so close to the interstate it’s rarely visited. The neighboring peak to the west, Mount Parnassus, sees about three times the amount of hikers on its summit, plus Bard provides better views than its neighbor. The only complaint I could think of about this wonderful peak would be the freeway noise, but from the summit the noise was nonexistent."

Not the steepest or most glamorous by some standards, it is a very nice mountain, and access to it is pretty easy, though you have to bushwack near vertical terrain for two miles from the highway to the summit, undertaking 3,840’ of vertical gain. Quite similar to my first attempt on Bard peak, I got about 500 feet from the summit, got tired, and took a nap. Then I walked back down. As this is not the most sought after peak I guess it doesn't matter too much, besides, this way I have a reason to come back later. There were plenty of deer trails up the pine forest and some are better walking than some human trails I have seen. Also, from the meadow at the base of the summit I saw elk on the very top! Elk are pretty cool.

Anyways, the coolest part was coming back down in the evening, and seeing the beautiful views of kelso ridge (left) and Torreys' Peak (right) with fresh snow through the pine and fall aspen.

I was on top of that thing!

Other highlights...

Trying to hunt deer with a shotgun out west is a a difficult idea. They ought to allow that during archery or black powder season because you have to be almost as sneaky and get close.... but I'm not the one deciding those things. So I guess you just gotta do what you gotta do, and I cannot afford a proper deer rifle at the moment. Yet this was quite an experiance. I put a scope on mine and sighted it in for hollow point rifled slugs at about 70 yards. By the time that was done I tell you my shoulder was pretty sore. A slug for 12 gauge is the equivalent of shooting a .69 caliber rifle, and the kick is pretty rough. On the brighter side, shotguns with shorter barrels and scopes on them look awesome.

So on the way back from the last day of not successfully hunting big game, there was small game running through the forests. Luckily with shotguns you can pretty quickly just pop in a lighter load of shot and there you go, meat in the pot. Anyhow I guess I did my counting wrong. I was looking forward to the nice quick pop of a 7 1/2 shot target load I brought along for the purpose. Yet a slug was in the chamber. So here I was all relaxed with no worries of a flinch and pointing this thing at about a 70 degree angle into a tree taking aim and off it goes. Man that was a bit of a nasty surprise. Thank god it missed what I was aiming for because I doubt there'd have been much left had it hit.

Anyways, no harm done, except to my shoulder. But once again the lesson here is that you never point even an unloaded gun at anything you do not intend to kill because sometimes you count wrong and it is loaded, or at least loaded in a different way than you had figured.

So that's that for deer hunting. Were there any deer in the forests? Ironically, yes. On pre-season looking around at about 6 am a very nice large buck ran past my car on the streets of Alice, a sleepy collection of cottages in the high foothills. Then on another day en route to the Moffat tunnel area about three deer were eating grass just off the road, but they were doing it in someone's yard and it would have been really bad form to pursue...

Maybe next year I'll have money and go out to Craig or Meeker... or even the San Juans... I think this scouting for deer in the basins of the high country is a little over rated, especially when it has snowed and my boots are not waterproof. If things get really bad I could probably just drive up and down country roads for a while and hit one, but I hesitate as the car has had enough abuse for a while. Recently the electrical has been acting up again and the break and yellow front parking lights stay on even when they are switched off and the key is out of the ignition. So I have to use this wrench to pull a fuse out of the fuse box each time I park and then put it back in again.

I tell you what though... I had a good time nonetheless. It was fun, and very beautiful out there. I'd have done it again... though preferably with a Remington 700 in 30-06!

Next time: Denver, a party, signs, Sexy Pizza, and songs...

Higher Education is the Coffin of the Self Made Man

It started with a conversation this morning with someone I knew in college... went into something else... and came out a bit of a statement against the status of "higher" education these days.

In a world of robotic shut ins, it would be quite possible for millions to convince themselves that the sky is really green, should a work of fiction, placed in the wrong aisle, be picked up by some prolific and oft-quoted scribe. Of course we are not robotic shut ins, but the right wing tendency in Academia can give you the impression that it wished we were. The more class conscious, threatened, and/or conservative directors of universities do their best to "seal" their campuses from the rest of society, and to impart to their students the idea that some kind of wall needs to be erected from the "bad" outside and the "good" inside. Poetry clubs babble on and at great length about "reality"- and for good reason- for most of their "higher" education they are genuinely quite confused as to what it is!

The entire structure of higher education in the United States is organized in a fundamentally aristocratic way, which sadly is quite fitting at a time when European countries are experiencing greater class mobility than we are. Uniforms may be gone from most colleges but the condescending and unwarranted sense of entitlement, of existing above and over the great unwashed, is strong as ever. In its own subtle way, this can perhaps best be symbolized by the recent decision of George Washington University, one of the nation's foremost alleged centers of political enlightenment and (not alleged) of connections, to name a new dorm "The Ivory Tower". There is something Orwellian, and of disbelief, in that, for it has been precisely through these years of George Bush, Paris Hilton, and Desperate Housewives, infotainment and endless war; the elevation of vice to a smirk, and finally, proclaimed in stone as some kind of flashy, yodeling, accomplishment, on the lips and over the heads of thousands of students every day.

Anyone who has ever tried to host a public event on a campus, and has gone through the maze of paperwork to register an "official" student organization to do it, knows quite intimately the contempt for "non-students" that infests the offices of (even the student government!) bureaucracy. Any student activist can tell you of the paranoia other students and administrators can induce in them should the full extent of their plottings (!) on campus with non-student friends and fellow activists (!) be known. The constant need to classify people and events as being either "student" or "non" is pathological and has no educational merit. Where I went to college a fee (which should really be called a tax) is still leveraged against student groups who dare to host a meeting on campus where greater than 50% of attendees are non-students. Heaven forbid "ordinary people", without paying, would like to watch a film, discuss current events, see a concert, or hear an interesting speaker's opinions on some pressing matter!

With modern technology, and card swipe access for university buildings, authoritarianism is sadly becoming more and more of a reality on many campuses. It was very distressing for me, as a student, to learn that a "non student" friend, who was himself a student at a different college just a few blocks away, was not allowed accompany me into a library, or a computer lab, to help me with a project.

Students kill themselves, sometimes literally, to be able to afford tuition- whether by working long hours that takes time away from studies, or by signing up with the military for college money. ROTC exercises at the crack of dawn leave students exhausted, and working students cannot afford to pay their rent and take unpaid internships that can help later with jobs. The "unpaid internship" is far more than an exercise in corporate bootlicking, and the exploitation of unpaid labor. Its value on a resume and in personal connections amounts essentially to a form of job discrimination against people who began their lives with less money.

The machinery of student loans is a financial perversion. Money is invented by bankers typing numbers into a computer. It is then "loaned" at interest to students. Several years later, the bank has profited off this "loan" of money that no one knows whether or not it ever had to begin with, while the student starts off on his career tens, and sometimes hundreds, of thousands of dollars in debt. Where does all the money go? A lot of universities don't even use it for plenty that is needed (health care for teachers and staff?)- much of it is invested- not in new books or the minds of the young, but in pro-profit enterprises. The university, like America, becomes a business. That the lights still manage to come on when you flick a switch around here is really quite a wonder.

Almost as bad, and in an even more insidious way, is the beast known as the "partial scholarship". Partial scholarships are often conditional on the student maintaining a certain grade point average. However the scholarship itself, along with whatever the family can provide, does not cover all the costs. So the student gets a part time job. Their job deprives them of the time they need to study to keep their grades up, yet the job is necessary to stay a student. Caught in an impossible bind, the student cuts out most any extra-curricular activity that is not directly tied to academics. They suffer socially, and their political development is stunted, for how many of us learned just as much life and the world after class with friends, or at an event, as we did from our textbooks?

In the United States thousands of students go into debt to buy books they do not have time to read. Illegal drug use is the only way many (most?) have been able to defy sleep and finish their papers. For many as well selling drugs is a principle source of tuition money. More broadly an occasional speculation in pharmaceuticals, prescription and otherwise, can be a vital supplement to one's food budget. That respected university presidents and boards of directors can draw six figure salaries, live in university owned houses, drive university owned cars, and calmly preside over and maintain such a delinquent, broken system, is a greater indictment of the failings of official education than is anything I could write.

The comfortable defenders of this system may endeavor to hide their guilt beneath the coffin of the self-made man. More often than not, there seems to be a linear relation: Those who most loudly proclaim their pride in having "worked their way" through college were often helped quite satisfactorily through the process by Mom and Dad. Their job was part time and went more often than not to that weekend's beer money. Neither does their education appear to have been well versed in the classics: for in Greek mythology it was a SENTENCE for a CRIME to have to push a boulder endlessly up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again. In the United States every student every day could live out the fate of a Sisyphus. What parent would willingly choose such an existence for their child? The real tragedy is that students will most likely never have the time to read the origional story in full.

The student and teacher rebellion will not be a mere passing incident of "campusy" youthful idealism on behalf of some far off suffering population. It will raise very fundamental ideological questions about our nation's priorities. Is education important? Does it matter? Should it be available to all who want it? Should it be designed in order to serve the needs of students or of profit hungry bankers and administrators?

-A former student who is a socialist and believes all education (and health care) should be free to everyone

I support:

People talking to each other about their common problems
Grassroots movements

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fuck "Joe the Plumber"

(from the reference to third pres debate)


So, FUCK joe the plumber.

I actually have nothing against the real Joe, but these campaign attack ads are getting ridiculous. It was dumb enough in the presidential debate, where it's like, woah, the rich candidates actually know ONE American who is troubled about things, and isn't totally rich. Whoop de fucking do.

But here there was just a McCain attack ad against Obama with like, 5 different republicans with money that I assume are aspiring to start businesses to get more money and they were all like, "I'm Joe the Plumber, and Obama is bad, blah blah blah..."

Well, thanks for weighing in motherfuckers. I 'm glad your opinion is throughly represented in politics. Now I can sleep easy. Only I can't sleep easy, because while I can pay the rent and the electric bill, I will also have Fourty-Six dollars left after I do that, so I don't really give a fuck about some dude whose got thousands of dollars and about to open a business somewhere.

Guess what candidates, we're not all upwardly mobile aspiring small businessmen! We're not all about to open some business somewhere. In fact, a lot of us don't even have jobs, and when you don't have a SOURCE OF INCOME besides episodic bullshit here and there, Tax cuts don't really have as much of an impact on helping you out.

So stop fucking talking about how tax cuts are going to fix everything, and how Joe the Plumber is like the only fucking American that matters. I am not Joe the plumber. I resent the condescending approach to "identifying with the people" that invoking his name over and over again implies. Why don't we fucking elect a plumber to run the country if plumbers know everything? Oh wait, it's because just because you work with your hands for a living, it doesn't mean you automatically know every answer to every question. And by extension, just because you met someone on the campaign trial once who works with his hands, it doesn't mean you know everything either.

So how about this:

1) Throw the bankers in jail

2) Have an immediate moratorium on all home foreclosures.

3) End the wars and withdraw all American troops immediately from foreign soils. The United States has no right, moral authority, or even ability to occupy other countries and tell them how to run things any better than the people there can figure out how to run them.

4) Use the war budget to give another FAT economic stimulus check to unemployed people and people who make less than $40,000 a year. Also, invest the rest in social infrastructure, schools, and renewable energies that are clean and don't pollute like oil and ethenoyl do.

5) Stop talking about 'the middle class' like we're all middle class. Talk about the working class.

Woah Sarah Palin, according to you, "Joe the plumber says that sounds like socialism". Only you never talked to Joe the plumber. You just made that up to sound smart, but too bad because there is NOTHING you can say to convince thinking people you are smart, because you are a FUCKING MORON who doesn't even believe in evolution, and by extension, no one should ever vote for you or take anything you say seriously.

And good damn it that's not like socialism enough! I haven't even started talking about all power to the soviets yet, or confiscating the mansions of the rich, selling their shit, and using it to buy things like FOOD and ELECTRICITY.

Wow holy fuck I didn't have to crawl under a sink at all to think of that! God damn, why aren't I running for president?

Oh and while you're at it, stop saying "Obama doesn't have executive experiance". EVERYONE WHO HAS EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE IS FUCKING EVERYTHING UP. Remember George Bush, that guy? He has like EIGHT YEARS of executive experiance, and has fucked up everything he touches.

So I say, the less experience you have being a tool for corporate America, as an "executive" or other wise, the better!

Which my friends, is probably why saying "Joe the Plummer" over and over again, sounds so goddamn catchy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

National Forecast

National Forecast
It's Kaput
We are moving toward very dangerous grounds
When the needle hits red
You might like
The respected, stinging tentacles
I was under.

For ill-considered American Actions
In the foreclosure machine
Tag along with excess
As you stretch mentally
The politicians are beating
The racist deathbed to give
The usual attack weapons
Against embattled immigrants.

Official Washington is striving
To avoid a melodious howl of protest
And death, from revolution.
I am stricken with shocked, spurned on
And intimidation through the roof
Even if night footsteps on the staircase
Never explain anything...

Fears have built the culture I find so dangerous
And distasteful.
As declining health sweeps you up
In its nostalgic sweetness.

In his book, Coughlin and
A whiff of desperation
Can translate into feeling superior.
The perfect society dominated by sharks
Can disrupt hormones,
Cause allergic reactions,
And damage cells
To mentor an oversimplification.

We are seeing a rise in fascist
Political activity
And violent racism.
All is forgotten.
In a coma
To blur her vision.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blogger Discovers Mule Deer Hunting

Briefly, in difference to the uninitiated; let me mention that the mule deer is a larger relative of the eastern Whitetail which lives in the Western half of the United States, Canada and Mexico. It's called "mule" because it has bigger ears, that people think resemble those of a mule. It has a goodly bit more meat on it, it tends to stop and look back when spotted instead of just running away, and it doesn't have as a good a sense of smell as the whitetail. But rather than sitting there all morning in a tree stand enjoying chirping birds and your clothes' new Doe urine flavor, the most common method of Mule deer hunting in this land of sweeping vistas and fewer trees seems to be just walking around a lot, the higher the better, looking through binoculars, and then walking towards where the deer is, and ideally with a high powered rifle making a shot from 50-300 yards away (for the everyday marksman).

Solo Mule Deer hunting, on public lands in the Rocky Mountain west, is possibly the most challenging outdoor activity in the United States. At least that I've discovered... Far more so than "bagging 14ers", or even rock climbing, in this "sport" the elements of endurance and self discipline tend to supersede all others; while simulatenously requiring a well rounded skill set of experiance with camping, backpacking, map reading, mountaineering, marksmanship, etc... all for a goal that may ultimately elude you after several days of effort, and send you back empty handed and apparently as some kind of failure to the long faces of disappointed friends and family you used to talk excitedly about venison with.

Doing a day hike, of say, a 14,000 ft mountain, can have all sorts of challenges. But it is a relatively straightforward affair. You eat a nice big break fast, you go up, it may be trickier the higher you go, you take your time as you acclimatize, and then you come back down, get in the car, put some nice fresh socks on, and go find a bar.

Now, say we knock 2,000 feet or so (though I have seen elk at 13,600 feet)- give or take- off the maximum elevation of that climb. But repeat that climb several times, in perhaps slightly different directions, for several days in a row. With summiting a 14er, or even a 13er or 12er, there is a certain objective in mind, and a certain sense of accomplishment. With deer hunting, assuming you are able to park the car or camp relatively near to decent deer habitat, you may wake up at least by 4:30 am, be hiking by 5, be in the area you want to hunt in by first light, and then hang out there all day. If nothing good is happening, maybe switch areas, climb that ridge or check out the neighboring basin, and hang around until the evening when wildlife gets more active again. All that hiking, lugging a backpack and a heavy gun around, and the odds are that you'll return to camp that night empty handed- all that effort having been apparently for nothing. Mule deer (or elk) hunting in Colorado is the only sport I know of where you seem to work harder and longer than any other athlete, cover more ground over more days, and you still have a 50% chance (according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, or 75% chance for elk) of being "unsuccessful". Imagine for a minute, if most people, after going through a maze of regulation and applying for a chance several months in advance, spent 2-7 days trying to climb Mt Evans or Long's Peak, with a summit attempt on every day, and only half of them made it... you begin to see the picture.

You might have seen plenty of deer all year around but now you're where they supposedly live and you don't see one all day, or for two, or three, or more days. You're straining yourself more than you ever have. It doesn't take long before you realize this is a most precarious way of obtaining meat. Sure, maybe back in archery season, or if you were a poacher/wildlife observer even before the season began, the deer were more plentiful and much less wary of people. But now all you can think about is how great burger king chicken fries and hot coffee are, or Japanese hibachi grilled chicken & steak, with hot sake, fried rice, and those delicious vegetables!

And heaven forbid, that unlike the out of state trophy hunters who can afford things like $250 non-resident tags, round trip airfare, guides, and all the best equipment- you are of a somewhat more "popular" background; have a basic set of outdoor gear in various states of condition and applicability, and are in these troubled economic times actually seeking to gain more in saved meat-cost than you're able to spend on high tech clothes, or brand new top shelf weaponry, optics, gasoline, or, heck, at least a pair of hiking boots that's actually water proof and doesn't threaten to turn your toes into frozen, soggy mush every time you have to traverse a snow field!

Instead of horses and hired help* to chop the firewood and cook your breakfast you now find yourself totally alone, as the sun is setting, in a 12,000 foot basin that you've been walking around all day, looking in vain through your binoculars in the vague hope that you might get to walk another mile or so away to kill something, skin, clean, and quarter it (as night falls, natural light is gone, and the temperature drops back down to below 32 degrees F), and then carry well over of a hundred pounds of the mess, plus your water, gun, extra layers of clothes that you need to put on if you stop to rest but which are too hot if you're walking, knife, hatchet, tarp, etc... down a steep precipice in the dark and about 3 more miles back to your car.

Woah, and I only *weigh* like 150 lbs!

Of course that's not some kind of perverse punishment for convicts or anything, that's what "winning" here looks like! And as you try to beat the crowds, you're probably not by the most famous peak or sought after, well advertised wilderness. You're way off the beaten path, and the boulder fields and gullies you have to traverse might have seen very few- if any- human feet before yours, leaving them far more wobbly and unsettled. Should an emergency occur and your means of communication fail you, it's far less likely anyone would ever chance upon your position.

Here's an article Mercy just sent me about the kid who twisted his ankle on a mountain in Oregon, and who lived off of centipedes and insects for five days and nights alone at 11,000 feet until a rescue dog found him. Awesome.

In the morning it's between 18- 26 degrees F when you start out so you're all layered up. All day long you're constantly changing out of and putting on more layers in response to more or less sunlight and wind. But here of course it has to be even more difficult than regular mountaineering, as you are wearing camo + a reasonably priced pull-over blaze orange vest. So you can't just put an extra jacket or sweater on. You have to take at least two things off first to then put something on, and then get all dressed back up again.

Most mule deer hunting experts discourage people from trying to fit their hunt into one weekend. Most encourage getting at least five days off if possible. Granted, it is possible that the first day in the early morning you'll get your great shot and it'll all be over. But assuming that doesn't happen, which statistics strongly favor, the tendency toward general demoralization if not giving it up all together becomes tremendous. Sure, in the long run you can save money if you have a freezer full of deer. But when you're up there, and it's cold and windy, and you're worrying about your feet getting wet from all the snow you walked through, you hardly care, and mostly likely would much rather just cut costs elsewhere and deal with the grocery store rip offs as they come.

In the off season, in the pages of industry magazines, hunters gaze longingly at the latest technologies, argue over the best calibers, and think about picking up some of the latest products. Should you see a deer, and be able to get within range, all of this might matter...

Far more likely, however, is that the two most important things any mule deer hunter must have will have been given insufficient attention- by you or by anyone else- until you're actually in the field. It's there that physical fitness, and a most stoic mental stamina, are really the most important things you can have. On the bright(er) side, they weigh very little to carry in, and don't have to cost as much financially as anything else you carry with you. But they are most unglamorous and difficult to develop! I mean, seriously... imagine all the above hazards I have just described, and for say, a 48 or 72 hour period the highest point of your day is when you get to see freshly laid animal poop. Not exactly the kind of thing most people send postcards home about...

FOR THE ABOVE STATED REASONS, I believe, as a semi-fit person who for the next week is participating in a mule deer hunt, that the most important thing any hunter can take into the field is good food. Good, warm food, somewhere nice, is most what I think about when I'm in the field, tired from hiking all day, low on snacks, and I have a pair of underwear over my head secured by a baseball cap because the one thing I forgot to pack before I drove an hour and a half away from home was my warm winter hat. For people backpacking into somewhere rather remote this is harder, as weight and lack of a cooler shrink your options. But I almost think it makes limiting your hunt to a day's hike from the car worth it, to be able to have every night a nice cooler of steak, some good bacon, biscuit mix, butter, seasonings, and fresh vegetables besides just an onion or potato to make a really good, hearty stew with. A glass of wine or a shot of whiskey to spice your evening tea up with doesn't hurt either. What you need is something to look forward to when you make it back to camp, besides that tired old kind of generic, flavorless gruel and the knowledge that the pine sap in the fire will soon be stinging your eyes and that trying wash yourself and your dishes soon will make your hands much, much colder than they already are.

Here again, of course, being solo makes it even harder. When you're waking up early to strain yourself all day, and it's below freezing outside but at least semi-warm inside of your sleeping bag, the last thing you want to do is the dishes from last night, or spend a long time making a dish with multiple ingredients. The same goes for the end of the day- just throwing some rice, lentils, some jerky, a bullion cube and some salt with a few onion slices into a pot and letting it boil over for a half hour is knocking out all the prep in one step, and the carbs will help you stay warm at night- but I tell you it sure doesn't taste like much!

Which may be why today was the first day of the open (second) season, and I just came back from Burger King. You can have all the best camo and fancy rifle accessories in the world... but if you can't keep yourself in the field, the deer will win every time- and your freezer will stay empty!

* * *

Maybe hunting would be easier if I lived in a city, far back east somewhere, and all my pent up energy for the outdoors and extreme alpine environments went unfulfilled for a year at a time. Were this the case I might have a lot more willpower to deal with things as they are... but actually living here, having my life incorporated with the general goings on of these outdoors, and being rather intimately familiar with things like snow, the cold, loss of body temperature and not enough firewood, etc... my instincts are present are actually to avoid high elevations in the months of October-April as much as possible. The pursuit of food is pushing me towards them, far more than I myself get pushed towards the pursuit of food as some kind of extra (benefit or burden?) of getting to play in the nice forests for a while...

* this author has nothing against hired help, and believes all hired help should be respected and well compensated. Unfortunately it has fallen to him to note that the number of people who can afford it is tending to dwindle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Songs

It's really tempting to leak everything before the album is finished in that, 100% way...

But two new songs are up here.

Apparently Heroic Wars + They Take Their Stand

Interesting stuff. Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole...

I borrowed a Banjo from my friend this thing is fucking awesome. Rather soon I plan to try and record with it.

My landlord is having our apartment sprayed for bugs, so I had to leave for a bit, but it's good because it's giving me an excuse to run errands.

I seem to have very little energy... I'm pretty much un-addicted to caffeine and energy drinks but I'm just lethargic. How much of it is chemical/nutritional and how much of it is political? Economic news is of course horribly depressing... even the left wing news, while it's honest and generally right, can't offer much for inspiration, at least at the moment. There is a feeling that the walls are closing in. Tunnel vision... The weather is getting cold... and you don't even feel like taking off your clothes to have sex with someone when it's really cold inside the house. Being broke and jobless in a new town where you know few people, even if the town is decidedly hip and friendly, and be quite a challenge.

I'm trying to pass myself off as a writer to various places that are hiring. This seems to be the least worst professional option. I looked at truck driving a lot but most well paying gigs need CDL and/or Hazmat certification and that's a bit more serious of a commitment than I'm ready for, plus those people get to travel but they're always running around to beat a clock, and have very little time to enjoy where they travel to. Just driving a 20 foot box truck around the front range for deliveries at $11 an hour has very little romance or long range prospects...

I'm sort of caught here between my background a serious political activist and my desire to hide from politics and the world and have as little as possible to do with them... I'd rather not return any phone calls and just try and survive myself, even if I have to do it in a snowy forest living off deer... but this is a dead end and only makes me want to come home and take a shower and cook over a nice stove where I don't have to be all hunched over all the time. The gloves I have with fingers aren't warm enough... the warm gloves I have don't have fingers... and I can't afford new gloves. At any rate... artistic inspiration and decent writing only comes from actually interacting with the world and getting influence from other people, or at least in the echoes that come with bouncing your ideas and positions off theirs...

Somewhere there is a quote about the world being full of impoverished, well educated, smart and creative types... and how self discipline is really more important in the financial long run of success than any creativity... and of course people who obediently follow directions and say yes to everyone ranking above them tend to get promoted better and have more job security. I'm inclined to agree with he who writes that Wanderlust is the kiss of death.

Yet even today the economy's collapse shows what a dead end Prussian obedience to established, corporate authority is... so here we are stuck, between one failed economic-political reality and the inability of confused, artistic radicals like me to come up with much that's serious and well laid out in a timely, effective manner.

So I'm inclined to spin off into all sorts of contradictory directions like a broken compass... One minute: fuck music, sell all the studio and get rid of it once and for all... but then what? Next minute: finish the album, get it out there, make sampler CD's for buried electric records and hand them to people outside of night clubs... Maybe I need to sit and think calmly... maybe the last of that trucker speed is what I need to finish mixing this thing.... or to write something with more of a pulse... maybe I should join that metal band, even though I don't really like metal that much, and who the fuck is going to invest in new bands right now?

As always, the struggle continues...

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Been pushed too far?
I consider escape
Into a Bullet.
My illusions
Leave the realm of the living
To roam the Underworld
And roll away the pain
Of America.

You're invited.

Returning to Heaven,
The rare but deadly
Ladies in the sexiest lingerie
Take faceless marauders
In uncharted territory.
All looked nervously upward,
Close to decision...

We are produced in limited quantities
To deal the heavy reprisals
And to kill
Elite American racism.
We are executing
The insurgency
In a simple tool...

Transform your anger
To bits by a car bomb.
Do it violent.
As a hustler- killer
Enlist gold torches of war.
Plentiful sunshine is
"Amply justified".

Why in the world would prospects for help
Reverse the process?

(this is not an advocacy of anything... it is a poem I wrote from words cut out of a newspaper. I'm trying to understand resistance movements, particularly those against the United States' occupations of other countries)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lakes are nice

There is a lake in Wheat Ridge

I tried to see if I could bike from Denver to Golden. Mind you my bike isn't too great... I got as far as Simms & 32nd Ave, after starting from 23rd and Clarkson. I don't know how far that is but it felt far. Anyways it got to be evening so I turned around and came home.... nice thing though is if you bike west around here at all far, most of coming back is downhill.

That's that... the new album is almost done... most of the jobs I applied to were scams... my family thinks I should become a lawyer... the LSAT tests make me not want to be a lawyer... I still have plenty of food.

So tomorrow I am going to backpack into the James' Peak wilderness for a few days and hang out. I don't really want to deal with stupid failing economies, bland presidential debates, people I don't know calling me on the phone, and all of that, right now.

Man this backpack is pretty heavy... but I've been trying to get better in shape lately so I'll see how far I can carry it.