Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Bajskorv Remix Album is Available

(Bajskorv is a band I started in 2003 and have played many live shows for, toured with, and self released four albums under. It's official site is here and its myspace site is here. Lots of nice pictures on the myspace site, and all four albums we've done are available for free download on the official one.)

*****For Immediate Release******

Cybernetic Overload, the long awaited remix album, is finally done!

We had originally tried to get all remixes in by November 2007, in order to get them mastered and have hard copies available for the Scars tour, but that was not to be. While the wait may have seemed long to some, there were a few good things to come of it, such as meeting All Ties Severed in El Paso, who over the summer contributed not one but two outstanding mixes to the cd. Everyone should check out his site, because his music is incredible.

We've spent a bit of time coming up with the right track listing. What we have we're proud of because it scatters our favorites throughout, giving the album a good flow as a whole. Head on over to the music section of the official site to download a copy. It's available as individual mp3s, or you can get the whole thing as a zipped file. We'd like to thank all the artists who contributed. They are an eclectic bunch, from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, states and even continents. What they have in common is musical talent, and you're encouraged to check out their own projects via the links we've posted.

* * *

As this marks the first Bajskorv release in almost exactly a year, you may be wondering, what the heck are we up to these days? Well, musically, we have mostly been focusing on side projects, Impulse Control (Juan) and Savage Ideal (Christian). Christian is long gone from the Mid Atlantic industrial scene, having relocated to Denver, where he has so far written two new Savage Ideal albums to be released sometime within the next year. You can still catch his writings on music, politics, and most anything else at Wounds of the Earth or Laughing Fish. Juan is back in DC and can often be seen around the district spinning old school and good new school industrial as DJ Fix, as well as singing for impulse control.

Conceptual talks for a new release are ongoing. Release date would probably be sometime in late 2009.

Enjoy the music!

-CW, Jan 25, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Amazing What Donating Lots of Money to the Obama Campaign Can Get You

This is the email code pink sent out. Yes, it is right about the mood, which is more optimistic. But I also think it is a very clear and sad example of liberals shirking their responsibility to their causes in favor of "influential" "seats at the table". Not a word here about Palestine... Obama has been vigorously defending Israel's right to kill whoever of its neighbors it wants whenever it wants all throughout the campaign, and has done nothing to avert the deaths of 1,300 Palestinians this past month...

Yes, getting rid of Guantanamo and taking rhetorical stands against torture *are* good things... but for the millions of Iraqis and Afghans who can expect at least over a year of continued American occupation, will that really make a difference in most of their lives?

I think it's wrong for antiwar activists to become part of the festivities for an administration that *is* continuing to wage a war, and whose silence just allowed a major escalation of it in Gaza. Getting Obama to "keep his promises" sounds great... until you realize those promises include sending more US troops to Afghanistan, and sending just as much, if not more, money and weapons to Israel.

January 23, 2009

Dear Friend,

Four years ago, CODEPINK founders spent inauguration night in a miserable jail call, charged with disorderly conduct for unfurling a "Stop the War" banner during the ceremony. This year, instead of handcuffs, we got front row seats--and hugs and kisses from the crowd as we unfurled peace banners, danced the can-can while singing "Yes we can-can end war" and handed out thousands of pink ribbons calling on President Obama to keep his peace promises.

As The Washington Times noted, "You know things have changed in Washington when CODEPINK gets seats up front at the inauguration." You know things have changed when Army Chief of Staff General Casey enthusiastically let us tie a Promises for Peace ribbon on his wrist and pledged to join us in working for peace. You really know things have changed when Obama, on day one, started addressing some key promises--#2 (Shut down Guantanamo ), #3 (Reject the Military Commissions Act) and #4 (Stop Torture). Thanks to everyone who participted in a hunger strike until Inauguration day to make this a reality!

It's a new era indeed, and your activism helped make it so. And thanks to you, CODEPINK just received a thrilling honor from The Nation Magazine--being named the Most Valuable Progressive Organization of the entire Bush-Cheney era!

CODEPINK was never merely a protest group. It was a community of hope, and the election of Barack Obama serves as least to some extent as a realization of that hope. But CODEPINK activists have always leavened their hope with realism. They know that Obama will need prodding. So the Most Valuable Progressives of the Bush era are already putting their mark on what will be the Obama era.

Please help us make that mark by pledging to remind Obama to keep his promises, including an end to the occupation of Iraq and direct talks with Iran, and then invite five friends to join you.

Check out this week's USA Today editorial by Medea Benjamin called 'End the Occupation.' After you read it, be sure to sign our pledge and pass it along!

Thank you for being one of the Most Valuable Progressives of the Bush years. Here's to a brighter four years!

Keeping our promises for peace every day,
Audrey, Dana, Deidra, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Janet, Jean, Jodie, Liz, Lori, Lydia, Medea, Nancy, Paris, and Rae


* Check out the inspiring photos of the hundreds of CODEPINK women who streamed into DC to join us for this historic inauguration!
* We're also inspired by all the CODEPINK women who gathered in their own communities to celebrate the inauguration and renew their commitment to working for peace!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Know Giallo


Denver Event: From Stonewall to Gay Marriage with Sherry Wolf

I hope everyone can come to this event. It will be lively and the discussion that follows is likely to be even livelier!

From Stonewall to Gay Marriage: The Fight for LGBT Liberation
with activist and author Sherry Wolf
Wednesday Jan 28, 2009
6:30 PM
Regis University. Denver, Colorado
Adult Learning Center: Amphitheater

Discussion will follow the presentation.

Map to Regis:

Her Bio:

Sherry Wolf is the author of the forthcoming Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of Gay Liberation (Haymarket Books, 2009). Wolf is an associate editor of the International Socialist Review and has written for Alternet, Znet, Counterpunch, DissidentVoice, MrZine, New Politics, Socialist Worker, and many other progressive publications and Web sites. She is a popular public speaker on campuses nationwide and has appeared on radio shows from Pacifica ’s Democracy Now! to NPR-affiliate KALW’s Your Call. Wolf is a long-time social justice activist since her student days in the anti-apartheid campus divestment movement through to today’s struggle for equal marriage rights. She graduated from Northwestern University with honors in Philosophy, yet adamantly agrees with Karl Marx: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Selected articles by Sherry Wolf:

Teamsters and Trannies, Unite!

Stonewall: The Birth of Gay Power

The Roots of Gay Oppression

The Myth of the Black-Gay Divide

The Unapologetic Case for Gay Marriage

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Woah, look who's published!

I wrote a short poem while driving through the highly bleak landscape of rural Missouri on the way to Springfield back in March. All of a sudden there was this huge prison right there in the middle of it all to put the final nail into that coffin of desolation. Some east coast journal just ran it:

Ammo Box John

"Did I tell you about Ammo Box John from Cisco, Utah yet? That guy does that... he has a wife and 2 small kids and they live in a ghost town the middle of nowhere in eastern Utah near the Colorado river with a yard full of about 2 dozen half broke cars and trucks. The guy is this ex- military mechanic with chicken coups who just builds up cars and sells surplus ammo boxes in three different sizes in the middle of nowhere in this desert where clouds in winter hug the earth and block out the sun and it hasn't been above 15 degrees in a month. His wife says to the kid, 'Don't cry honey, your tears will freeze.'"

Anyways if you need ammo boxes he'd the guy to talk you. There are three different sizes, and he has hundreds of them, for some reason.

Friday, January 9, 2009

If You're Visiting Denver

----------------- Original Message -----------------
Date: Jan 9, 2009 3:28 AM

I'll be in denver this weekend f-m. Whats there to do? You mentioned hiking but i think its too cold for me.


(hmm... this is a long list... but it was a good opportunity for me to get to write... I may post it somewhere so other people can read it too)

Let's see... if you're staying in the city, during the day there are plenty of museums just around down town, like, around 13th and Broadway there's a sweet Colorado History Museum. They can tell you where other museums are if museums are your thing. The Natural History Museum has grizzly bears and wolves and pumas and dinosaurs and exhibits about africa. It's at 17th and Colorado and if you're there near closing time (4-5pm) and you look West from the big windows on that side of the building, or stand in that park there (city park) in front of it, you get some of the best sunset views in the city of the whole front range lit up.

For stuff that involves music and drinking...

The Backwards records people in Denver do a night on Fridays (tonight) at the Cosmos lounge at W 14th and Klamath, where they spin decent music and sometimes have local bands play. The turn out isn't always that great though. It's more of a place to hang out and have a beer than it is a dance club.

Saturday is one of Denver's biggest club nights at a place that was called "The Shelter" but now is called "The Milk Bar" because they made part of it look like the milk bar from Clockwork Orange. The address is 1037 Broadway. The entrance is through the back, in the North-South running alley there behind and South from the drive through of the Arbys. You should see it by a buncha people dressed in black smoking on the patio outside. Well there are hot goths there, PBR is I think $1 before 10, and admission (doors open at 9) is free before 10... It's your usual mix of generic new school 'industrial' crap you can't distinguish but they do play some good old school now and then, puppy, revco, etc... You can also request things and they may play it. Incidentally this same night occurs at the same place on Wednesdays as well.

Sunday night at the Church is kinda the same deal as the shelter. The church was an old church that got turned into a club, so it has two levels. You want to enter the lower level where goth stuff happens. It's at 12th and Lincoln. Enter on the Lincoln street side. Some dude will be standing there checking ids by the open door. It's also free before 10 (doors at 9). They rip you off on beer prices (like $5 for a bud, crazy) but well drinks are only $2. Woohoo! You'll figure it out pretty quick if you go there, but the main room you first enter downstairs has shitty acoustics that kill the low end on everything they play, and they mostly play generic new school 'hard' 'industrial' that isn't too good... the other room is darker, has very good acoustics, and they play more of a mix of goth stuff/old school industrial stuff/ cheezy new school 'industrial' stuff that gets people dancing to it...

Cafe Netherworld has pool, plays goth/industrial/punk music 24/7, has the internet, coffee, and good drink prices. They also serve food until 1 am, but be careful because like many denver bars they set their clock 15 mintues fast. It's at 13th and Pennsylvania.

Check out the Wax Tracks Records, just East a bit on 13th street from Netherworld. Also, farther East up this street there are some of those stores that sell 'goth' looking clothes if that is your thing.

"Benders" has a bar and a dance club area. It's got a great mix of people between hipsters, goths, punks, rockability people, and random normal people. They have 24 oz PBR cans and some of the nicest, friendliest people in any bar in Denver. Monday is open mic night, and Tuesday and Thursday they do Kareoke.

Also The Sputnik, in the "south of colfax" night club area ( ) is a nice bar, which also has food. They own the high dive next door which has live music from time to time.

Other things...

Never go to the pep boys at Alameda and Broadway because they rip you off.

The only 24 hour internet cafe/restaurant is called "Leela's European Cafe" on 15th street downtown between stout and champa. They serve good food all hours and are always open. Coffee is 2.50. Sometimes they play bad music and the bartenders may have attitudes, though lately they have hired some nicer ones. Some sketchy folks hang out there but there are many nice people there too. Be careful if you park late on the street because they have street sweeping from like 2am-4am and you can get a $25 ticket for parking there. Also if you think you can sleep on the couches in the back think again because they kick people out for doing that.

Other internet/coffee places are 'hooked on colfax' on East Colfax between Adams and Steele, 'fluid connect' at 19th and Pennsylvania, and well, there are a buncha other places too. Here is a list:

For 24 hour food you just drive up E colfax and see the following places:

Tom's Diner, on E Colfax right by Washington or Clarkson Streets, on the left (N) side of the street.

Pete's Kitchen (probably best food, usually no wait if you just eat by yourself at the bar. Try the chicken kabob sandwich) further up Colfax, at Colfax and Race (1962 E Colfax Ave), on the right (S) side of the street. The Mexican place next door is owned by the same people and also pretty good. They are open late but not 24 hours.

Directly across the street from this place is "Mama's Kitchen". The food is cheaper but less good.

I also think there is a 24 hour diner around colfax and W 14th but I forget the name and exact location....

If you like to read check out the central library at 12th and Broadway. The western history reading room on the fifth floor down the hall to the left from the elevators is pretty cool.

If you like art galleries the 'art gallery district' starts at around Alameda and Santa Fe, and runs North up Santa Fe to about Colfax. Santa Fe incidentally is a one way street.

Other cool stuff:

Start at about Colfax and Broadway and walk East on Colfax and see what kind of drugs you get offered. The first time I tried this some dude paid me in xanax to drive him to his house. Wild...

Other drug dealers apparently hang out in Civic Center park, around Colfax and Broadway, just across from the state capital, apparently.

Mezcal around E Colfax and Steele on the right (S) side of the street across from the 'blue bird' night club and has good dollar tacos from like 10pm to close (1 or 2 I think) and cheap beer as well as great tequila.

The "Hipster Bar" is across the street is called "the rock bar" where you can pay $3 for the privilege of drinking PBR among other equally hip suckers.

And, I know you didn't say hiking, but, some cool stuff:

If you drive to Golden on Hwy 6 (at the base of the foothills) you can climb up North or South Table Mountain, which are the big flat mountains formed by ancient lava flows. They are only about 1,000 feet higher than the surrounding plains, but they have a great view of the city of Denver from their Eastern Edges, and herds of deer and birds of prey live on them.

Driving up hwy 6 into the foothills a little bit looks pretty cool. There are casinos up that way at black hawk and central city. Be careful though because there are a lot of deer in the foothills now who've been driven down from higher elevations by the snow and you can accidentally hit one on those roads if you're driving too fast at night.

And lastly....

The best, biggest, and cheapest liqour store that I know of in Denver is called Argonaut at Clarkson and E Colfax. They recently expanded into a huge new building and they have everything.

The cheapest shittiest motel I know of in Denver is called "Motel 5" on Alameda, just west of the traintracks, the hwy, and Santa Fe BLVD. For 30 something a night you can sleep in a room that smells like it's been cleaned with human piss disenfectant. There is another cheap motel thing on Broadway somewhere south of downtown on the left and before the cross streets stop having numbers.

There are a lot of neighborhoods that don't seem to mind you sleeping in a car by them. If you're going south on Broadway, between 3rd street or so, and Alameda, just turn R (West) a bit and find a dark corner somewhere. It's also convenient to sleep in your car off Adams or Steele by the hooked on colfax. Just make sure you wake up before the sun rises.

Here is the Denver weather forecast.

here is the Front Range mountain forecast.

Have fun!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Conceptions of Fantesy and Escape

Y'all remember back when I was writing the lovely new album "Ghosts Dance Lightly on the Puncheon Floor" for Savage Ideal? Yeah... that thing is like done.... just final mixing stages... which I'm taking time with and not rushing. I've trying to give my ears plenty of time to relax between mixing sessions so I'm not constantly undoing and then redoing the same bits....

Well, that's cool... and that will either get picked up by some kind of better distribution than I alone can facilitate, or not... but either way that's not really the point of making this post.

I sold this powered speaker and used Christmas money to pay the rent and once again I'm contemplating the possibility of postponing job finding for another month. You must understand it has been rather cold lately in the mountains, windy and snowy, and I haven't gotten out there much... so I have this big drive to do that, live out of a car for a while, and cook stuff...

Temperature being a factor, as well as my own personal interest; I am drawn further South and West to the deserts. My favorite ones so far being located in Western Colorado, Eastern Utah, most of the state of Nevada, as well as the Mohave in the environs of Las Vegas and extreme Northwest Arizona... if any of them get visited it will probably be the more Southerly and Western ones, off the Colorado Plateau, that are warmer this time of year. Though I am a big fan of the Mt Taylor/ Northern New Mexico area... it's snowy there right now, and I need a break from that...

There's something else though, beyond just a repressed itch of climbing mountains I haven't done in a while. I think it's a schizophrenic, political question I'm struggling with, here in these weeks of gaza bombings and economic collapse... It's probably the same reason most of Savage Ideal has been "folksy" and "esoteric" and inspired by history and nature... As I contemplate the next Savage Ideal and/or Bajskorv album I am compelled to extrapolate, politically, this muddle from my head.

Life Pushes Down...

There are many responses to challenging political conditions... but I feel most strongly drawn to two of them. The first is "serious" political activism, which occupies that realm of meetings once a week, following up with people about what they're reading, making phone calls, editing list serve memberships, maintaining websites, reserving rooms, sending press releases, going to and organizing protests, sit ins, etc..., and all the while reading as much as you can about history, theory, and economics, in order to better understand and thus fight the system...

If you're in the mood for this I think the ISO is probably the most intelligent and serious group out there on the American far left with good, sober heads on their shoulders, and whose ideas about radical, "structural"/ revolutionary change are the most coherent.

There's another response too though, which I used to be a lot more likely to totally dismiss, but which I'm finding myself more and more drawn to. This is the urge to just not want to deal with any of it...

This feeling is born out of frustrating periods in which one tries to organize against inflexible and repressive political establishments. It's strengthened by a perpetual months' kaleidescope of news: always bad. I mean, every single day and night for practically the entire past year the economic news has been bad... The political follows... No one cares what the president thinks... no one trusts the people with the most power over the economy... and waiters are concluding they really ought to work as little as possible these lean years because there's far less motivation each night to show up, set up, and wait around reading the paper while former customers cook at home.

Everyone knows they're getting screwed, everyone sees the government bailing out the rich to the tune of inconcievable sums of money, everyone acknowledges how absurd and unaccountable it all is, and many people are just totally disgusted with the behaviors of politicians, bankers, "wall street types", and the like. Obama inspired many people with his messages of "hope" and "change"... We all thought, or at least "hoped", that he'd be different from the same old corrupt, Clintonoid, warmongering and corporate domination that has consistently been in control of this country's politics for longer than I have been alive.

It didn't even take him being inaugurated to dash those hopes with a series of horrid cabinet appointments which have proved to the establishment than he is more or less assembling exactly the kind of executive branch he railed against during the primaries...

Oh yes.... and there's still wars on... remember? Anyone still care about that?

There's a point where you read and hear so much of bad news that you stop caring. You're not just numb to it... it's something else... some kind of mixture of rage... but it's as much directed against the very inertia of the whole, teetering, mess as it is against the mess itself. Following politics, and being really engaged in what's going on in society becomes a lot less attractive, to say the least. Maybe mess is not even the right word... it could be "mass"... for there is the germ of misanthropy somewhere in there to be sure.

Outside of the System

I'm sure everyone, including every activist, has felt this way from time to time. Throughout the history of the American left, those who have managed to defy and in some way live "outside of" the system have about as often been idealized as heroes as have been those more directly engaged in day to day struggles. The Wobblies probably did more than anyone else to create a cult of appreciation around the "hobo", who, despite forgoing obvious material comforts, was at least able to live without bosses lording over him all day... if at least for a while... If you add a guitar to this hobo and produce some kind of Joe Hill... or perhaps, a Nightwatchman, well, that's like these people's king!

Modern day "trainhoppers", often donning the garb of "crusty", political punks, "hippies", and "anarchists", keep this tradition alive. It can of course easily be mocked for the obvious irrelevance it has on altering the course of those mundane day to day struggles the rest of us are forced to deal with, and I can see quite clearly numerous political problems emanating from this tendency. Murray Bookchin's short pamphlet, Social anarchism vs lifestyle anarchism- even if you're not an anarchist- is a great polemic against the more narrow minded adherents of escapism, and I endorse much of it.

Yet, the "escapist" tendency does exist, nonetheless! The simple condition of *not* being at a job, behind a counter, or in a kitchen; with no one to yell at you and no machine to have to punch and no one's permission to have to ask for anything is incredibly liberating. Add to that the mystery and the romance of travel, and it's pretty easy for even self identified Republicans to agree with me that sitting behind the wheel of a car on the highway is the most free I've ever felt.

Examples of people trying make a living, or at least a hobby, off indulging this urge as much as possible abound. Some are more directly related to politics, such as living "off the grid" alone in a mountain survivalist compound, a hippie commune, or in a tree in a redwood forest to protest logging.

Others involve a more traditional system of "work" and "bosses", but at least compensate for them with non-traditional (or confining) work conditions. Seasonal park rangers, trail maintainers and brush clearers, or even carnie folk (who yes, do still exist) occupy the intermediate territory between those of us with rent to pay and pay checks to collect, and those of us who, through some combination of savings or inheritances, or perhaps as often, proficiency in moochiness, petty theft, and/or street performance, are for a while at least totally free of such trappings... preferably in proximity to as much outdoors as possible.

Closer to actual civilization, yet at once apart from it, and very acceptable to "transience" would be the restaurant/ hotel industry. If you work for the Ritz Carlton you can pretty much live in any city you want, as long as you work there at least 6 months before moving again. If you don't mind finding new employers, this interval can be much shorter.

* * *

While material and political factors prevent everyone from adopting such a personal change in lifestyle to express their political frustrations, what *everyone* has been able to do is explore these feelings through art and literature. You may recall for example the popularity of early western trappers' and explorers' journals in the cities of 19th century America. In burned out, post-revolutionary France in the years immediately after 1815 and 1852, pastoral novels that emphasized the role of nature, religion, and mysticism soared in popularity. Perhaps the most well known such author to me is Chateaubriand, who as a political activist- college freshman I attacked in an essay for drifting too far out into this mush several years ago. Another could be George Sand (circa La Petit Fadette). A third, and much more readable author, would be Isaddore Ducasse/ "Le Comte De Latreaumont" of "Maldoror" fame.

Even goth culture in the United States during the late 1980s through the early 2000's is representative of this. Whether you're a "Mansonite" getting your culture from Hot Topic, or a "real goth" complete with Bauhaus posters, tight corsets, or frilly looking, Victorian shirts; what you are trying to do is immerse yourself into a dark mythology of the past. Hanging out in graveyards, dressing like people did 100 years ago, obsessing over "death", and trying to separate yourself as much as possible from "normal" people by wearing dark / vinyl / rubber / bondage clothes as much as possible is in the last analysis a rather consistent attempt to hide from, shall we say, the "stifling political reality" of the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush corporate culture of conformity, dollar-worship, pop culture, and all around intellectual stagnation.

The late 60's, early 70's experiments in communal living were another example. Even better though might have been the general over-indulgence in sex and drugs that repressed generation saw necessary for its own spiritual development. Both cases had beautiful beginnings... and perhaps as well, tragically predictable ends?

I always thought goths and rivet heads (and more obviously, punk rockers) could be a great constituency for radical social movements, because all these people at least have some kind of ideology about society being "screwed up" that they believe in strongly enough to wear it on and with their bodies every day- social consequences be damned. The problem with this is that most of these people are so far involved with the tendency of trying to be "separate" and "apart" from the mainstream, "fucked", culture, that it's pretty hard to get them involved at all seriously in trying to change it through some kind of day in, day out activism... and not to mention, in a way that involves them having to compromise their own energies and ideals with those of others.

Bajskorv was for me an attempt to unite those two cultures, rivetheads and political activists. It has had mixed results so far. Playing at a "seriously political" fundraiser is hard. "Normal bands" bring bigger crowds and more money for causes, and doesn't tend to scare them off after the first song. There are some self identified "fascists" who have enjoyed Bajskorv shows for the music, while simultaneously telling us they wished we weren't trying to be so "political" all the time. Bajskorv's biggest crowd at a live show ever was at a goth night called The Church and the club, the Lizard Lounge, in Dallas. There were some good political conversations that night... mostly rhetorical agreement about how fucked up the war is... but the general sense of that entire crowd was that they wanted to dance to Combichrist or whatever... and us being weird, having songs without 4/4 beats, and vocals with ideas that you could actually hear... seemed to break that crowds' patience pretty easily.

There were better moments... getting a copy of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal into the hands of a resident of Columbus, Mississippi, who might otherwise not ever have heard of it, was certainly great to get to do. Some songs, like "Pais de Sangre" I think helped, albeit in a modest way, weigh in strong on a national debate with an articulate passion that a lot of people who bought Scars and Stripes or saw the live show might not have otherwise been exposed to.

In general though... results have been mixed. I'm feeling less punky and less energetic these days... I don't think a song like What Side You On or Birth of a Nation could be written today. It is time to write more songs though... innovation always happens... people's sounds never stay the same... But I can't quite get my head around what Savage Ideal is doing politically... I may ask,

"Is removing yourself from society, and writing songs that don't have anything to do with it, a form of musical "resistance" to the banality of the status quo, or is it basically just political backsliding into an accommodation with it?"

If nothing else... it does fill a need. When times are bad, people don't want realism. That's why we have fiction, romance novels, sci fi, and fantesy genres... I seem to have been leaning further in this direction lately in those creative endevours I undertake. I mean... writing a guide to ghost town exploring, or running through forests with a video camera to sample the sounds that streams and old mining equipment make, is a little more serious of a commitment than just playing guitar in the park once a month, eh?

Commercially you might say, my plans of writing albums about the tragic history of the American South, or what I am now thinking about: the beauty, desolation, and dramatic, empty waste that is the desert... might be exactly what people need. People already know politics are fucked up. They don't need a musician to tell them that. But when people know politics are fucked up, not because they're read it in a book, but because they are living it in their own lives, what they need most from art is something different, special, beautiful, and hopeful to think about for a while.

Does this justify the banality of pop music? I'd like to think not.... for I feel that what "unreality" most pop stars have to offer in their lyrics is simply an idealized version of the current [economic-political] reality, in which we can all, allegedly, be happy, fall in love, and not worry about the fact that the factory got outsourced. The music's repeated melodies aren't designed to open minds, stimulate imaginations, or inspire the listener. They're designed to rudimentally correspond those mathematical formulas our own brains equate with dancing.

Mathematicians encourage their students to listen to classical symphonies, because they "open the mind" to be more imaginative, and thus, they are more likely to be able to figure out arithmetical problems. It seems the purpose of "pop music", in its crudest variety, is precisely the opposite. The "unreality" of glitz and glam and the ever-present predictability of lyrical content forces our minds into boxes, with high walls over whose boundaries we're taught never to explore. The "bright lights" disilluminent the pain of everyday life...

To put it another way.... the dichotomy is not between "political" vs "non-political" music, as that crude, mechanical, way of boiling all things down redundantly would have it. Music serves political functions, but it doesn't do this simply by having lyrics or samples or song titles about overtly political things. No song or artist "starts" a social movement. Artists are inspired to write political songs because a social movement already exists which has touched that artist. Maintaining one's involvement in that movement requires a lot more than just repeating its core, theoretical mantra over and over. It requires passion, imagination, and hope...

In this sense I feel that it would not be political "backsliding", for me to write an album about the desert... The desert is a source of fantastic inspiration and beauty. John Westley Powell's account of his exploration of the Colorado River is I think about a thousand times more attractive a thing to read than is today's copy of the Wall Street Journal. Times are bad and people need something to lift their spirits and raise their imaginations a little. What they decide to do with those spirits is the job of politicians to convince them of. But the fundamental act of that uplift, and that opening of the mind, is itself a radical act, and one that is inherently at odds with both ideological conservatism and "pop culture".

What do you think?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Denverites Protest Israel's Bombardment and Invasion of Gaza

According to the Denver Post, which is not known for being a pro-Palestinian journal, the state of Israel had by January 3rd "killed more than 460 people and left 1,700 injured..." through air strikes alone. Deaths resulting from the ground invasion are as yet unclear, though it is obvious the above number is now outdated.

Less apparently newsworthy is the fact that by January 3rd, 2009, only FOUR Israelis had been killed by Palestinians' Quassam rockets. Yet this is claimed by Israel to be sufficiently outrageous to justify unleashing one of the world's deadliest and best equipped militaries upon the people of Gaza, who reside in one of the most heavily populated areas on the globe.

The proportion since the "cease fire" ended of 115 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military for every one Israeli killed by Hamas' generally ineffective, home made rockets does not even tell the whole story, as absurd and enraging as that statistic alone may be. Almost entirely missing from every American account of the conflict is the fact that residents of Gaza have been living under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade for years. There is no convenient way to tabulate the deaths, not to mention the far harder to measure emotional trauma, inflicted upon these people by Israel's methodical destruction of their economy and infrastructure. The Israeli Navy's recent decision to ram and threaten to sink a private ship attempting to deliver medical supplies to the besieged gazans graphically illustrated the reality of this blockade. Were it not for that incident millions who heard about it on the news might very well not have known that a blockade even exists at all.

On January 3rd, for the second time in less than a week, Denverites of conscience added their voices and their solidarity to the wave of worldwide protest which erupted in response to Israel's recent escalation of aggression. Approximately 70 people assembled in front of the state capital from 2 to 4pm to make their voices heard. The crowd was about 60 percent persons of middle eastern and Palestinian descent, with the rest being made up by members of Denver's progressive and activist community. The political composition of the crowd was quite diverse. It seems every shade of ideological perspective, organization, and non organization was represented, from anarchist vegetarians, to liberals and pacifists holding UN flags, to toddlers barely young enough to walk unassisted and everything in between. Clearly the sign of a healthy and a broad movement, albeit of rather modest size.

The fact that snow flurried intermittently throughout the day, and the temperature was 25 degrees F at 2pm ("feels like: 18 degrees", according to, seemed only to harden their resolve, and emphasize the seriousness of the situation. As one clearly under dressed protester put it, "We're here to show solidarity with the people of Palestine. What's going on over there is really fucked up. Holding a sign isn't much but it does say something when you're out here in the cold."

The solemness of the occasion was broken by a series of chants projected from a megaphone obtained by Food Not Bombs. A young speaker in his teens led the crowd,

"Free Free Palestine/ End this Genocide"
"Shame Shame Israel / Shame on Arab Leaders"
"What do we want/ Peace - When do we want it / now"

Cars passed, several hoking their horns in support, to the welcome surprise of many protesters. While a video crew did show up to take pictures and conduct interviews, sadly neither of the city's major dailies felt compelled to cover the demonstration in their Sunday issues. This is of course not to say the crowd had nothing worthwhile to say, as I soon found out by taking the opportunity to speak with several of those demonstrating whom I did not recognize.

Adel, a Lybian by birth who has lived in Denver since 1983, took pains to express the fact that he was by no means an "activst", or even a generally "political" person. In his words, "This is the first time I come to something like this, in my whole life. I used to be a regular guy, keep to myself, and not get involved. But I saw on the news... Yesterday I went to the mosque to pray, and heard about [the protest]. Coming here to stand with the people is the least I can do."

Najah, a woman of Palestinian birth, who attended the rally with her husband, Hassan, and two children, was representative of much of the crowd. Not an "activist", she like many others heard about the demonstration by word of mouth, and was determined to add her voice to those assembled.

"I'm here to say end the war in Gaza... They kill people... and to demand protection for Palestinians in Gaza, especially for children and women, and to call for an intervention to stop [the war]."

After translating for me, her husband added, with approximately one hundred times the degree of intelligence evidenced by any of the commentators allowed on major new networks:

"I believe the US has the power to stop this. Unfortunately the American actions so far have been to support Israel, and to justify war crimes... It's a one sided, immoral, inhuman war. Even if we accept retaliation it should be in equitable amounts. So far Palestinian rockets have killed four Israelis. Israel retaliates by dropping "bunker buster", 2,000 lb bombs on a mosque and an orphanage. If this is the land of the free- all Palestinians have been supporting for years is their freedom. I wonder if Americans are truthful to their own principles, to their own moral imperatives. "

For further reading:

Israel's War of Terror
(Haidar Eid, Palestinian activist and Gaza City resident, discusses the airstrikes with Eric Ruder)

Molten Lead in Gaza
(Uri Avnery, Israeli peace activist, discusses the role of the continued blockade in the collapse of the "ceasefire")

America Must Stop Shirking its Responsibility on Gaza
(Ralph Nader calls out the American Political Establishment)
(has several good articles over the past few days)

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Have Two 300 Watt (each) Powered Speakers for Sale

A Peavey Pr-15 (300 watts) for $240 (orig price $400)

and a Gemini GX-450 for $175 (orig price $300)

Each of these powered speakers put out 300 watts. They sound pretty good. The Gemini has been gigged about 10 times and the Peavey's been used about 4-5 times. The Peavey is a little more bulky but it is lighter. These together are great for a small-mid sized club, or as monitors. I can sell these either separately or together. Due to the size I'm only doing local pickup for cash. And yes they come with power cords :)