Sunday, November 23, 2008

RIOT GOING ON



(Thanx to G. Lain for the Basement 5 tip-off)

In 1970's England a weird hybrid of punk rock and dub reggae started playing in the underground. The two genres have alot in common: heavy bass, stacatto guitars, fast beats, and players who indentifiy as marginalized political malcontents. What is called "Post-Punk" these days often owes more to dub reggae than punk rock.

Below is Basement 5 's "Riot" played over footage of "The Battle of Grosvenor Square", an anti-Vietnam War demonstration that turned violent in 1968 London.

I like that the guitar mimics a police siren and that the "My Sharona Bassline" is put to better use.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Structural Adjustment



The second Zeitgeist film, Addendum, was released last month. A portion of the film is above. Turns out war, in the conventional sense, isn't always a necessity for continuing colonialism...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Drive In Saturday, 10/25/08


Rico/Man From Wareika

One of my favorites; good fidelity too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

After Tomorrow


Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Richard D Wolff, with an anti-capitalist analysis of the current market crises, via Lenin's Tomb

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Under the Big Black Sun


Pauper's Cemetary, NOLA. Photo by Bryce Lankard

5 Pieces of Advice for the New Paupers
By John Dolan, AlterNet
Posted on October 15, 2008, Printed on October 15, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/102992/

Little did I know that when I lost everything last year, I was doing research. At the time I thought it was just stupidity or bad luck or both. But now that the economy's crashing, it turns out I've been out there gathering valuable tips for millions of new paupers. And let me clarify, I'm talking real poverty. My wife and I fell through many layers of poverty in a few months. First we revisited the genteel poverty known to grad students, the sort of poverty where you have scary dreams about the rent and eat a simple, wholesome diet toward the end of the month. But we fell right through that into the sort of Dickensian privation that spoiled first-worlders like me never expected to experience. That's the kind of poverty a lot of people are going to be experiencing soon -- and I'm here to tell you, it can happen here and it can happen to you. And it's remarkably unpleasant. You may be saying "Duh!" here, but you're probably not imagining the proper sort of unpleasantness. So I'll try to lay out what to watch for, how to hunker down when it's not just a matter of cutting back or selling your second car but having no car at all, having no money for heat or food.

All the things we learned are going to seem pretty obvious, but remember that it's very hard to think clearly when your life has collapsed. These are what they call the old verities, the truths of life before the middle class was (briefly) in session:

Warmth

Above all, you need to have a dry, warm place to sleep. We had only an unheated boat, and that was not enough. We woke up to the thump of sea ice banging against the hull and realized that the old world was still very much in session. When we finally fled to stay with family, we stayed in our blankets up against their gas fireplace for weeks. You won't even want food much after a while. You'll want heat itself, not the chemical middleman. You are going to realize that cold is the most frightening thing in the world. In older English dialects, "to starve" meant "to freeze." You will see why.

Car

Got one? Maybe you should sell it. Cars drain the last dollars out of you. And there's something worse: Cops can smell desperation, and they hate the poor. I didn't hate cops as much before, except drug cops, but God, I hate them now. The real purpose of cops is to keep poor people off the roads. That's their only real goal. On my way to an interview for a job that could have gotten us out of the gutter, a cop stopped me because my insurance was two weeks overdue -- for the simple reason that we didn't have money to pay it. She gave me a $600 ticket for that, plus $120 for not having an updated address on my driver's license. Then she called for a tow truck and told me, "So, a lesson learned here today!" as I watched my car get towed away and trudged off with our terrified dog down a typical Western suburban road: four lanes of fast traffic with no sidewalks. Are you poor? The cops are your enemy now. Accept it. The car is how they'll try to get you. Sell it if you can -- which is to say, if there's any decent public transportation -- hah! -- where you live.

Shame

As in, forget about it. Shame is an affectation. I don't even need to say this, really. Once you've experienced actual cold and hunger, your good old Olduvai Gorge mammal body and brain will take over, and believe me, shame won't be a problem.

You'll also find that most of the social stuff is easier than you'd expect. These people are in show biz in a way; they have to be, just to survive. It makes them lively. And though I suppose it all depends on where you are when you lose out, in my experience they're not especially violent. They talk about it a lot, but so do all the white jocks I ever met, and in neither case does anything actually happen. They're flinchy people, mainly, who spend a lot of time waiting for things. When you're waiting, you get very frustrated but you don't want to shake things up. So they're tense, bitter, sociable, gossipy and treacherous -- a fine cross-section of the population. After waiting around with them in line at the local food bank, sharing "how I ended up here" stories and hanging out with them around a propane heater trying to stay warm, I relaxed a lot. They're not going to mug you. They are going to try to get any cash you have, and God did they get a huge chunk of our last resources, but it was friendly, schmooze-based extortion, just like in the middle-class world. All that was missing was the deodorant.

Food Banks

These places, usually in the basement of a church (because churches are the only public institutions in the new suburbs of western North America) hand out baskets of groceries every week or, more often, every two weeks. You have to wait a long time, so learn your refugee skills. Come early, get a number first, and be nice but pushy. It's a delicate operation, being nice but pushy, but you'll learn it. The "nice" part is because you need to ask people for help and advice; you're not rich enough to be solitary anymore. The pushy part is simple: It's to prevent you from being ignored. So always talk to people, but never show money or mention it, if you have any.

Antidepressants

Get on them right away, if you're not already. If you are, up your dose. Because it's going to hurt. It doesn't matter how much Marxist theory you've absorbed; it doesn't matter that you can put your fall into global context; it's happening to you now, and it's going to hurt like you wouldn't believe. You're an American, and you share that culture's values whether you like it or not. So you define yourself by your job, car and house. When they go, you're going to hate yourself. Don't even bother arguing about it. It's going to happen. Just take the damn Prozac. Would you refuse a coat in Siberia? Refusing Prozac after falling into poverty makes about as much sense. Tom Cruise can go fuck himself. Prozac saved our lives. I won't go into the sordid details, but really, I don't think we'd be here now if Saint Prozac hadn't extended a sacred hand to us.

So the second you slip beneath genteel poverty toward the street, find the nearest free clinic, and don't be deterred by the smell of the crowd in the waiting room. Smell is going to be a problem for you at first, but after a few weeks you won't mind, because you smell too, and so does everyone around you. If you want a break from the relentless olfactory fact of being around unwashed large mammals, sidle up to somebody who smokes. That's the one good thing about cigarettes, and it may be why losers all smoke. Don't smoke just for that, though. Cigarettes are insanely expensive and turn lots of poor people into cringing beggars.

How do you tell your story? That's going to matter, because you'll be brooding about what went wrong 24/7, whether you want to or not. And you'll find that explaining one's great fall is a vital skill among the fallen, as well as a deeply satisfying pastime. This raises the issue of denial, a vital and deeply misunderstood mechanism. Denial, like Kurtz said about Terror, is your friend or an enemy to be feared. You need some denial to keep your ego from being crushed completely. Your ego is going to get very sick, now that you're nobody. It's easy to be polite and self-deprecating when you're winning. I used to be like that. You can't afford that when you're being crushed. You have to demand respect if you expect to get it. The alternative is to dwindle away and disappear. Those antidepressants will help you deny the facts, but don't be shy about doing ego-exercises, boasting practice, to reawaken that playground ego that so many of us polite middle-class types allowed to atrophy. You're going to need it.

On a practical level, the question is what to jettison -- and I'm not just talking about things. If you have kids well, God help you; I can't give advice here, because luckily we didn't. But we did, unfortunately, have a dog, a big clumsy puppy we got just before everything fell apart. We probably should have given her up. Growing up in an atmosphere of terror and cold and self-hatred, she turned out to be a very weird, unhappy dog. I've had lots of dogs before this, back when I was comfy, and they were all nice suburban dogs, Frisbee-catching pals. This one's a feral freak. Now that we have a warm place to live, it's almost fun watching her reactions, the way she flinches and sniffs at every noise, smell or flash of color, but I know she would have been happier getting adopted by some family that complains about what a pain it is having just four bedrooms.

Besides, if you have a dog, you're cutting down on your chances of getting a job. This one howls when she's left alone, another legacy of her traumatic puppyhood, so one of us had to stay with her most of the time. It was like being handcuffed to the wretched unheated ex-fishing boat we were living on.

The boat was another contributor to our debacle; it was something else we should have sold off right away, even at a 90 percent loss. The idea behind that damn boat was that instead of paying the insanely high West Coast rents, we'd live on the boat for free. This is a very bad idea. Any idea you have of retreating to some simple, free habitation should be regarded with deep doubt. The thing is, you can't get back to the comfortable, heated world from a place like that boat. No Internet. You need the 'net if you're ever going to claw your way back. You need a working shower, which that boat lacked. Otherwise you develop that look, that smell you first encountered in the free clinic waiting room. It's not a good look, jobwise. Maybe if we'd gotten rid of the dog I'd have had a chance.

But you lose more than that. You change completely, more than you realize, to the point that even if you get a break you can't grab it. After months of applying for teaching jobs without even getting answers, the perfect job opened up for me at a local college. It was half creative writing, half teaching literature and composition -- all my specialties. But when the interview started I realized I was no longer someone who could talk the quiet, polite, oblique version of self-promotion demanded by academic hiring committees. I was too deeply, permanently spooked by our condition. I was just plain wrong, unhireably wrong in every way. No hot water on the boat, and I needed to shave the graying wisps of hair on my big bald head, so I'd shaved in the McDonald's men's room on the way to the interview, with a cheap Bic shaver. You can guess the results: I looked like a bobcat had tried to roost on my scalp and been evicted after a violent struggle. The used sport coat we'd spent our last $20 of Visa credit on at Value Village didn't seem to fit nearly so well once I was inside that humming, immaculate classroom where the interview was held. And I had become a louder, more desperate, excessive person. When I tried to sound positive, it came out furious. When they asked me, as I'd known they would, why someone who'd taught at bigger universities wanted to come to this small rural campus, I said truthfully, "I'd rather teach here in the forest than at Stanford." It didn't come out enthusiastic; it came out strident. After months of being a bum, I was the wrong volume, the wrong temperature. I could feel the job slipping away, and in fact they hired a local guy who was friends with the director, even though my resume kicked his resume's ass.

You'll find that if you want to get back into that quiet, odor-free, polite world, you're going to have to decompress for a few months. What happened to us is that we fled, found a basement apartment on borrowed money, and stayed there, keeping the heat on high for months. Then we were ready to try again for a job.

It took that long to calm down, quiet down, lose a little of the bitterness. Yes, you're going to be very bitter. You can't hate yourself all the time; you have to switch off now and then and blame somebody else. In fact, somebody else may damn well be to blame. Just make sure the bitterness doesn't keep you awake. To enable yourself to sleep, take long walks. Shout curses at the world if you need to; just keep walking. And no matter what, don't sell your sleeping bag. I had a North Face down bag, and I learned to love it way, way more than I loved myself.

Sleep is an antidepressant almost as good as Prozac. And it's free. The time to worry is when you wake up after a couple of hours screaming. That happened to me after five months, and that's when I broke down and asked my brother for a loan. That's where this story diverges from a real street story: I had an out. And believe me, I took it. I should have taken it sooner, in fact.

If you have an out -- a relative or friend who can lend you money to find a place to live -- take it now. And as soon as you get an offer -- some old friend has a ski cabin nobody's using, or a small unit behind their house -- take it, as long as it's heated.

The old world is very much alive, and has it in for you. Do anything to keep it from killing you. The only reason I haven't endorsed crime here is that from what I saw, paupers are not in a good position to try it. Like so much else, crime is for the big people.

John Dolan is a contributor to eXiledonline.com. He is the author of, most recently, Pleasant Hell (Capricorn, 2005).

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/102992/

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Writers Living in Economic War Zones

Harold Bloom just published an article about how the lessons learned from an economic meltdown informed his writing. The writer? Ralph Waldo Emerson.

While Emerson is a great source for "self-reliance" and "transcendence" in a country gone mad from greed and power, other writers -- like Walt Whitman (who can teach us about transcending war) and Henry David Thoreau (who can teach us about transcending both greed and war) are Emerson's equals -- not his pupils, as Bloom suggests. (Bloom does love a hierarchy!)

               

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hope


Image by Shepard Fairey.

Here is a link (posted without comment) to a Wired feature on street artist Shepard Fairey, who has been hired by the Obama campaign to create images for their theme "hope."

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Return of History



Commentary by Richard Estes on the recent, unsanctioned market interventions by the US govt:

the global neoliberal era that commenced in the late 1970s, implemented by figures like Reagan, Thatcher, Pinochet and Deng Xiaoping, among others, is now officially over

in the short term, investors and the financial sector will be winners, having pocketed outsized returns, bonuses and transactions fees, with a government backstop, but, in the mid to long term, they will be losers, as the consequences of their actions are visited upon us

it might be called, "The Return of History", in juxtaposition to Fukuyama's famous declaration, "The End of History", in the early 1990s

class conflict is going to return with a vengence, when people realize that they are being brutally subjected to the discipline of a market administered by politicians and corporations that not only exempt themselves from it, but require everyone else to pay for their mistakes

You can read more of Estes' commentary at his blog American Leftist.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Looking for a New York Reading!

One of Harold Jaffe's scheduled readings in NY, at the Brooklyn Public Library, had to cancel because of withdrawal of city funds!

He will be in NY between Oct 8-13, reading at the KGB Bar on October 10, but he's looking for another reading venue to replace the cancelled Brooklyn Library reading. Can any NY fans help?

SARTRE ON LIVING IN NAZI OCCUPIED FRANCE

WE HAVE NEVER BEEN SO FREE AS UNDER GERMAN OCCUPATION.  We had lost every right, and above all the right of speech:  we were insulted every day and we had to remain silent;  we were deported as laborers, as jews, as political prisoners;  everywhere, on the walls, in the newspapers, and on the screen, we saw the foul and listless face which our oppressors wanted to give us.  Because of all of this we were free.  Since the Nazi venom penetrated our very thoughts, every true thought was a victory.  Since an all powerful police tried to force us to be silent, each word became as precious as a declaration of principle.  Since we were hounded, every one of our movements had the importance of commitment.  The often atrocious circumstances of our struggle had at last put us in a position to live our life without pretences--to live in this torn, unbearable condition which we call the human condition.  Exile, captivity, and above all death, which is ably disguised in periods of happiness, became the perpetual object of our concern; we discovered that they were not inevitable accidents or even constant but external threats:  they had become our lot, our destiny, the source of our reality as men.  Each second we fully realized the meaning of that trite little phrase "All men are mortal."

--Jean Paul-Sartre.  From his essay, "The Republic of Silence."


Monday, September 1, 2008

Always war

As a preliminary contribution:

"There is a War" by Leonard Cohen

There is a war between the rich and poor,
a war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
and the ones who say there isn't.

Why don't you come on back to the war, that's right, get in it,
why don't you come on back to the war, it's just beginning.

Well I live here with a woman and a child,
the situation makes me kind of nervous.
Yes, I rise up from her arms, she says "I guess you call this love";
I call it service.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be a tourist,
why don't you come on back to the war, before it hurts us,
why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get nervous.

You cannot stand what I've become,
you much prefer the gentleman I was before.
I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control,
I didn't even know there was a war.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be embarrassed,
why don't you come on back to the war, you can still get married.

There is a war between the rich and poor,
a war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the left and right,
a war between the black and white,
a war between the odd and the even.

Why don't you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden,
why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get even,
why don't you come on back to the war, can't you hear me speaking?

What type of "Artist in Wartime" are you?

Traditional Battlefield-Style Warfare?


War Re-enactment?


War metaphors?


Cold War?


Guerilla War?


War of Words?



War of Wills?


War as "hot, man-on-man action"?


Submissions are now being accepted for Fiction International's "The Artist in Wartime" issue.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Guernica


What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who, if he is a painter, has only eyes, if he's a musician has only ears, if he's a poet has a lyre in each chamber of his heart, or even if he's a boxer, just muscles? On the contrary, he is at the same time a political being, constantly alert to the heart-rending stirring or unpleasant events of the world, taking his own complexion from them. How would it be possible to dissociate yourself from other men; by virtue of what ivory nonchalance should you distance yourself from the life which they so abundantly bring before you? No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. It is an instrument for offensive and defensive war against the enemy.
Pablo Picasso, Les Lettres Francaises, March 1945

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

General, your tank is a powerful vehicle



General, your tank
is a powerful vehicle
it smashes down forests
& crushes a hundred men.
but it has one defect:
it needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful
it flies faster than a storm
& carries more than an elephant.
but it has one defect:
it needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly & he can kill.
but he has one defect:
He can think.

Bertolt Brecht (February 10, 1898 – August 14, 1956) was a Marxist dramatist, stage director and poet.

Post via erasmuspc

I have been here

The following photographs are the work of Iranian artist Tooraj Khamenehzadeh, from his series, I have been here.




Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Art of the First World War



Otto Dix, Selbstbildnis als Soldat (Self-Portrait as a Soldier), 1914, ink and watercolour on paper, on both sides, 68 x 53.5 cm, Municipal Gallery, Stuttgart.

The aim of this exhibition is not to review the facts of the war, but to show how they were portrayed by artists on either side of the front line, and indicating the difficulties involved. Amongst the millions of conscripts there were painters of every nationality and every school of painting. Those who were born around the year 1880 belonged to the generation that was called up immediately on the outbreak of war. The war held no secrets for men such as these – they were the ones who did the fighting. Boccioni, Macke, Marc, La Fresnaye and Gaudier-Brzeska died during, or as a consequence of, the war. Only the citizens of neutral countries (for example the Spanish nationals Picasso and Gris) were not called up. Many enlisted out of patriotism or because they could not bear to be away from the action. Until now, with very few exceptions, artists and writers had witnessed wars without actually becoming involved. In 1914, for the first time, they all had to take part: Germans, Britons, Italians, Austro-Hungarians and Frenchmen. Léger became a stretcher-bearer, Kokoschka a cavalryman, Beckmann a medic, Derain an artilleryman, Camoin a camoufleur, Dix a machine-gunner. Many of them drew and painted what they saw and lived through. From the sketchbooks of pencil drawings done at the front to the canvases painted on returning home, theirs is an intense and accurate testimony.

And yet, many of these works have been little researched, if not altogether forgotten. Because they recalled painful memories they were not much looked at once the war was over. Even the men who painted them - with the crucial exception of Otto Dix - had grown away from their work, and made no attempt to exhibit them. For example, Beckmann and Léger were no sooner demobbed than they set to work painting very different subjects, such as contemporary life and the city. Others went even further in making a fresh start. Among those who were called up were Braque and Derain, who left Avignon station together on August 2nd 1914 to join their regiments, accompanied by Picasso. Braque took part in the fighting during that autumn and winter. He was seriously wounded on May 11th 1915, was trepanned and, after a long convalescence, returned to his workshop a year later. He left not a single drawing or canvas alluding to what he had been through and no representation of the war is present in his work. Derain was attached to an artillery unit and served in the Champagne region, at Verdun, on the Somme, and on the Chemin des Dames until 1917. He was not demobilised until after the armistice. Of this five year period there remains no trace, apart from the title of one painting, the Cabaret on the Front seen by André Breton in Derain's studio in 1921, but which disappeared and was probably destroyed. Kirchner, Schmidt-Rottluff and Kokoschka also refrained from painting what they had seen and experienced...

Nevertheless, new art works did appear, and in larger numbers than might be expected. They expressed violence, fear, exaltation, suffering, pity and disgust. They appealed to the persistence of the human conscience at a time when it was being enslaved and ignored by war. Some of the older ones, those most set in their old ways, tried to do this with the tools of pictorial realism handed down from the previous century. They observed biplanes, artillery guns and soldiers in close detail, and equally methodically reproduced what they saw. Illusion and illustration were their main resources. However, their themes, being all about movement, speed and the instant, were bound to suffer from being fixed as if suspended in a still picture. These works still have their documentary value however, which today is heightened by their picturesqueness from another age.

Younger painters trained during the last twenty-five years of the nineteenth century, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, attempted combinations which nowadays we find surprising, such as bright, sharp colours and macabre subjects, or cut-out shapes and white light. Whether they were painting the ruins of a bombed-out church, a mountain artillery post or two bodies lying forgotten in a trench, Vallotton in Argonne, Horovitz in the Alps and Orpen on the Somme introduced purple shadows, sinuous lines and Japanese-inspired flat tints - as if it were still possible, a quarter of a century on, faithfully to apply the lessons of Gauguin and the Nabis...

The artists belonging to the European avant-garde movements - the German Expressionists, French Cubists, Italian Futurists and British Vorticists - rejected once and for all the rules which had previously governed the painting of battle scenes. They worked to overcome the difficulties involved in devising new themes and methods suited to the monstrous new reality. Those methods were largely those of Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism and Abstract Art. In May 1915, Léger was in Argonne from where he wrote to a friend: "All the same, it is a funny kind of war (...) This war is the perfect orchestration of every means of killing, both old and new. It is intelligent to its fingertips, which actually makes it damned annoying as there are no more surprises. We are controlled on either side by very talented people. It's as linear and as arid as a geometry problem. Such a large number of shells in such a short time over such a surface area, so many men per metre and in order at the specified time, it is all triggered off mechanically. It is pure abstraction, much purer even than Cubist Painting "itself". I can't deny my allegiance to this method (...)" (6). In devastated Verdun, he discovered "completely unexpected subjects to gladden (his) Cubist soul" (7). Drawings and watercolours are the satisfactory result of these new contacts. Léger portrays dehumanised automata serving the machines that crushed them. He brings out the collapsed shapes of his ruins and the broken lines of a shot-down plane.

Dix, Nevinson, Severini, Wyndham Lewis, Nash and Grosz also came to understand that modern warfare needed to be painted in a modern way. The time for heroic realism and patriotic allegory was up. To interpret the explosions of shells, the all-powerful artillery and total war demanded transcripts and not imitations. In order to convey a feeling of its inhuman violence, rather than represent the particular details of the battle, lines had to be broken, and colours had to burst out.

From the website The Art of the First World War

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Harold Jaffe, in Rain Taxi

Author Harold Jaffe just posted an interview he did with Larry Fondation for Rain Taxi, which is being published Summer 2008. In it he defines 'docufiction,' discusses his newest docufictions, and offers observations about contemporary society. An excerpt:

Official culture's facility to deceive is infinitely more advanced than in the Sixties. Successful revolutionary models are either not represented or brazenly misrepresented. And Americans are trained to rely on official representations far more than on their unmediated experiences.

Among other lies, we are told that the worldwide student revolt in '68 was a failure, that revolution as such has lost its purchase, when in truth revolution and the ethical dissent which leads to revolution are ongoing, perennial.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pornography... and Censorship

Editor Harold Jaffe just posted a 1992 interview he did about Fiction International's Pornography & Censorship issue. The interview, conducted by Janice Wynborne of KPBS Radio, highlighted the difficulty of conducting an "adult" conversation about what consitutes pornography in our society.

The issue is still for sale - and, in fact, is now 50% off. See http://www.fictioninternational.com for more details.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Harold Jaffe's "Revolutionary Brain"

Here's another docufiction from Harold Jaffe's latest collection, Orfeo, called "Revolutionary Brain":


It has emerged that the brains of three leading members of the violent revolutionary group, the Red Army Faction (RAF), including its co-founder, Andreas Baader, have disappeared after being preserved for scientific research.

*

The grisly revelation comes just days after the twin daughters of Ulrike Meinhof, the other RAF founder, finally won permission to have her brain returned for burial.

*

Meinhof's brain was extracted after her alleged suicide in jail in 1976, but for years its whereabouts remained a mystery.

*

Last month it was revealed that the brain had been secretly preserved in a scientific laboratory in Frankfurt.

*

The RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, began a campaign of political killings and kidnappings of senior business leaders in the 1970s aimed at overthrowing the German state which they called "Nazi capitalism."

*

Meinhof allegedly hanged herself in her cell in Stuttgart's Stammheim Prison on May 9, 1976; her comrades Baader, Ensslin and Raspe were found dead in their cells in Stammheim Prison on "Death Night," October 18, 1977.

*

The official report states that Baader and Raspe shot themselves to death and Ensslin hanged herself.

*

The Red Army Faction cell block had been touted as the most secure prison block in the world; the press was filled with accounts of lawyers interrogated and searched for an hour or more before being admitted to visit their clients.

*

When it was announced that Baader and Raspe shot themselves with guns smuggled into their cells, it was cynically assumed that the authorities assassinated them, as well as Ensslin and very possibly Meinhof the year before.

*

Their dead bodies were promptly autopsied and their brains extracted and donated to "Science."

*

Gottschalk König, CEO of the Neurological Research Institute of Heidelberg University where initial tests were done, admitted that he could not account for the whereabouts of the brains.

*

They might have been moved to make way for other organs and finally burned, he said, but he would not rule out theft.

*

Now Ulrike Meinhof's brain has suddenly reappeared, in the possession of a medical pathologist who insisted on anonymity.

*

The anonymous pathologist said that Meinhof's brain surgery in 1962 in which a benign lesion was removed very likely contributed to her becoming one of Europe's most feared urban guerrillas.

*

Her slide into "terror" would then be explained by her brain illness.

*

Moreover, the anonymous pathologist claimed that clinical tests on Ulrike Meinhof's brain soon after her death cast doubt on her fitness to stand trial.

*

Meinhof was considered the intellectual head of the Red Army Faction, a left-wing revolutionary group that spread fear across West Germany in the 1970s and into the 1980s, after her death.

*

The anonymous pathologist confirmed that he carried out the research on Meinhof's brain over the last ten years primarily in a laboratory in Frankfurt.

*

He told a news conference on Tuesday that he gained possession of the brain in 1997 after applying for permission to examine it.

*

Previously it was held by a Stuttgart neurologist named Muehl who had conducted the autopsy after her suicide.

*

The anonymous pathologist said that although there may have been other factors, the brain surgery in 1962 could have led to behavioral changes that turned Meinhof from a talented and ambitious journalist to co-founder of the revolutionary Red Army Faction.

*

The RAF carried out a campaign of killings and bombings against leading industrial figures beginning in the 1970s.

*

Many of those figures had been influential Nazis in the Third Reich.

*

The anonymous pathologist’s involvement came to light last week, when Meinhof's twin daughters, in a law suit, insisted that her mother's brain was removed without the family's permission.

*

Meinhof's twin daughters have also filed a criminal complaint against the anonymous pathologist, accusing him of disturbing the peace of the dead.

*

They are seeking to have the brain buried with their mother's remains in Berlin.

*

But the latest revelations indicate the medical authorities also had a morbid fascination with the revolutionary killers.

*

An unauthorized plaster death mask of Andreas Baader had evidently been made by one of the anonymous pathologist's medical team who had mixed his own semen with the plaster.

*

The anonymous pathologist claims not to know who was responsible.

*

German authorities were said to be conducting DNA tests to uncover which of
the anonymous pathologist's medical team's semen was involved in Baader's death mask.

*

Andreas Baader was a telegenic Brando-type bad boy who had turned to political terrorism for the methamphetamine-like rush it gave.

*

The news of the plaster and semen death mask of Andreas Baader comes amid official concerns that a series of recent videos about the violent 1970s have portrayed the terrorist killers as pop icons.

*

Celebrations of revolutionary violence unsettle German authorities who are always on the lookout for a resurgence of Nazism.

*

Prosecutors are now examining documents from the time of Meinhof's death to establish how her brain came to be preserved for 30 years and whether any offence was committed.

*


After the Revolution


MLF With Bad Nosejob Gets Huge Cum Facial 3 Blow Job WMVs
Teen Slut Swallowing Globs Of Hot Nut Butter 4 Latina MPEGs
Blonde & Jap Swap Ass Cum 3 Anal And Ass MPEGs
Vintage Sex Vids & Big Hairy Bushes 3 Amateur MPEGs
Pee Lovin Chick Asks For Mo' 4 Piss WMVs
Mex Babe Spreads Pink & Gets Meatstick 3 Hardcore MPEGs
Kinky Shaved Chubber Whips Her Whip 6 Big Tits WMVs
Thick Latina Pissed Then Boned 3 Hardcore MPEGs
MILF In Pantyhose Gets Phat Ass Stuffed 4 Mature Ladies WMVs
Big Mamma Wraps Her Boobs Round A Stiffy 6 BBW WMVs
Shaven Head Babe Takes Cock for the Rock 4 Hardcore MPEGs
Cougar Stalks Son's Pal & Fucks Him With Strapon 5 MPEGs
Hardcore Electrical Lesbo Bondage 6 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Dominatrix Drills Fem Slaves Snatch 6 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Bound, Gagged & Helpless 6 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
2 Young Cunts A'Cookin In The Kitchen 6 Fetish/Bizarre WMVs
Texas Twins Dip Their Honeypots in a Bubble Bath 2 WMVs
Babe Tossing Her Man's Salad 3 Fetish/Bizarre MPEGs
Samantha Slurps Every Last Drop Of Goo 4 Porn Stars MPEGs
Tiny Titted Megan Takes Two Big Dicks In Pooper 3 Latina MPEGs
Bianca Pornstar BJ, Piss & Browneye 3 Porn Stars WMVs
Lesbo Amateurs Squirm In Threesome 4 Lesbian MPEGs
Fisting Hard A Shaved Wet Puss 4 Fetish/Bizarre WMVs
Slutty Granny Does Herself With Baseball Bat 4 WMVs
Twelve Dudes Jizz On Blondes Face 3 Cum Shots MPEGs
Cheating Wives Do It For $$ 4 Amateur WMVs
Monster Black Cock Gives Pearl Necklace 3 Inter-Racial MPEGs
Mature Brit Bitch Milks Black Cock 4 Inter-Racial MPEGs
Lesbo Threesome Chain Pussy Licking 4 Lesbian WMVs
College Babes Fucking Sex Machines 3 Young Ladies WMVs
Two Muscle Bears Eating Each Other's Ass 5 Gay MPEGs
Horny Tranny Pleasures Two Studs 4 Trans WMVs
Roughneck Irish Man Jacks His Cock 6 Gay MPEGs
Naive Blonde Giving Backseat Blowjob 4 Cum Shots MPEGs
Ebony Plump Rumps Getting Humped By Horsedick 8 MPEGs
Phat Slut Tugs On Cock Till She Gets Her Face Painted 3 MPEGs
Stranger Licks Granny's Snatch In Graveyard 4 Hardcore MPEGs
Phat MLF Boned Hard On Bar Stool 6 Mature Ladies MPEGs
Cutie Daphaney Gets A Long Hard Bonin 4 hardcore WMVs
Tiny Asian Girls Smoke Huge Cigars 4 Inter-Racial WMVs
Kinky Lesbo Powerplay 6 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Uh-Oh A Dominatrix Wearing Glasses 6 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Chick In Chains Gets Her Snatch Stretched 6 Fetish WMVs
3 Young Babes Play With Mud 4 Young Ladies MPEGs
Tranny Porks Her Eager Boyfriend 6 Trans WMVs
Brunette & Redhead Trade Anal Creampie 5 Anal And Ass MPEGs
Wifey With Huge Melons Facialized 3 Big Tits WMVs
Skinny Goth Does Gloryhole In Raunchy Loo 2 Blow Jobs WMVs
Kristina Flashing 32ddds In Convenience Store 4 Big Tits WMVs
Asian Beaver Balling Big Dick 9 Asian WMVs
Anime Hardcore Action 6 Anime MPEGs
Milf And Young Hottie Share A Big Cock 3 Hardcore MPEGs
Hot Pigtail Pisses Boyfriend 3 Hardcore MPEGs
White Boys Work Over Busty Nubian 3 Inter-Racial MPEGs
Nice Nanny Gets Rammed In The Browneye 5 Hardcore WMVs
Wrinkly Phat Granny Drilled On Barstool 3 Mature Ladies MPEGs
Mesh Covered Ebony Gangbanged By Rednecks 3 Black MPEGs
Tiny Little Ripe Rump Slathered In Cream 3 Young Ladies MPEGs
Indian Chick Gobbles Three Dudes Creamy Curry 4 Asian WMVs
Twink & Bear In Raunchy Suck N Fuck 6 Gay WMVs
Busty Pregnant Babe Gets Her Milk Pumped 4 Fetish WMVs
Sperm Spitting Bukkake Fetish Panic 4 Asian WMVs
Euro MMF Cumshot Extravaganza 3 Group WMVs
Hot Brunette Gets Nasty Rimjob 3 Anal And Ass MPEGs
Blonde Pigtail Chick Getting Monster Facial 4 Young Ladies WMVs
Mature Street Skank Plays Suck And Tell 3 Hardcore WMVs
Slave Slut Gets It In Bdsm Dungeon 6 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Chubby Using Toes To Diddle Hard Cock To Cum 4 BBW WMVs
Asian Squatting & Peeing 4 Fetish/Bizarre WMVs
Dutch & German Milk Enemas 5 Fetish/Bizarre WMVs
Naughty Girl Spanked & Pissed 4 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Big Breasted Jane In Titty Torments 6 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Wrestler Gets Cameltoe Puss Licked 6 Lesbian WMVs
High School Hotshot Bones Bubble Booty Cheerleader 5 WMVs
Petite Lisa Loves Black Ghetto Cock 3 Inter-Racial WMVs
Preggo Babe Squirting Hot Milk From Nips 4 Amateur WMVs
Poon Hounds Jacking Clits And Puss Squirting 4 Lesbian MPEGs
Peeing Amateur Filmed By Voyeur Cam 4 Voyeur MPEGs
Crazy voyeur Creaming On Sleeping Girl Boobs 5 Voyeur MPEGs
Hentai Girl Getting Pussy Hammered 4 Anime MPEGs
Natasha 3 Porn Stars MPEGs
Cute Redhead Jerks Sperm From A Cock 4 Cum Shots MPEGs
Zitty Bitch Rides The Sybian 4 Amateur MPEGs
Exploited Chick Forced To Swallow Monster Dong 3 Cum Shots MPEGs
Hairy Bus Driver Gets Good Student Pussy 3 Young Ladies MPEGs
Goth Babe Gets Ass Slammed And Gaped 4 Anal And Ass MPEGs
Naughty Blonde Licks Black Guys Ass 4 Inter-Racial MPEGs
Ass Worship Facesitting 3 Fetish/Bizarre WMVs
Lady Sonia Ass-Smothering 5 Bondage/BDSM WMVs
Sweet Tiny Pornstar Monalisa Doggiestyle 4 Young Ladies MPEGs
Creamy Nurse In Homemade Hardcore 4 Amateur MPEGs
Petite Chicks Swapping Cum 4 Blow Jobs And Cum Shots MPEGs
Young Cutie Gets Double Dicked 7 Anal And Ass WMVs
Milf Double Penetrated In A Threesome 4 Mature Ladies MPEGs
Blonde Cougar In Hardcore Threesome 3 Mature Ladies MPEGs
Cumaholic Babe Doing Deepthroat 5 Fetish/Bizarre MPEGs
3 Jap Chicks Assboned & Creamed 4 Group MPEGs
Housewife Taking A Huge Schlong In Butt 6 Inter-Racial WMVs
First Gay Experience 4 Gay WMVs
Lola Sucks A Priests Holy Rod 3 Porn Stars MPEGs WMVs
Guy Eating Carrot Out Of Her Ass 4 Asian WMVs
Petite Blonde Chewing Mandingo Nuts 4 Inter-Racial MPEGs

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Video Writing

Writers, take note -- here's some kick-ass art:



Watch him make his point in 2:20. Notice the quick-cuts which simulate a too-slow-internet-connection effect. Observe his hip-hop presentation -- poetic, with a beat.

Observe, too, how the 2:20 is a complete story, as it is divided into scenes by: 1) a change in camera angle; and 2) Jay Smooth's change in body angle (turning to presumably work on his computer).

All the result of good and thoughtful writing. Genius!

See more at illdoctrine.com.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Herbert Marcuse Documentary

This documentary examines the turbulent life in California of political philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), author of One-Dimensional Man, Reason and Revolution and Eros and Civilization, among other books, professor of philosophy at the University of California San Diego, and a visionary and influential force for the student movement worldwide during the Sixties and Seventies. Blending archival footage, interviews, re- created scenes and voice-over narration, the video profiles not only the life of Marcuse but also the history of student protest and social activism. The video features interviews with Marcuse's student Angela Davis, former UCSD Chancellor William McGill, colleagues Fredric Jameson and Reinhard Lettau, and rare footage of Marcuse and former California Governor Ronald Reagan. Directed by Paul Alexander Juutilainen.

Makes "Reefer Madness" Look Intelligent

Take a look at the government's latest attempt to scare children away from cannabis: http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/stoners/.

The site does convince one that marijuana decreases intelligence -- in drug haters.

Please, send every American to this site. After all, it was paid for entirely by your tax dollars. Remember that the next time you vote for someone like Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens or California Rep. Randall "Top Gun" Cunningham, who treat our government as their personal cash cow and set up fake "wars" so their friends can also enrich themelves at our expense, this is what you are getting for the money.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Hijab," by Harold Jaffe

Here's a docufiction from Harold Jaffe's latest collection, Orfeo:


French bureaucrat and Muslim teenager at the entrance to the lycée outside Paris.

     Bonjour Mlle.
     You are required to remove your headscarf.


     Bonjour Monsieur.
     I never remove the hijab in public.

     This is a state-supported lycée, Mlle.
     It is not a mosque.
     It is not a souk.
     In France we maintain separation of church and state.
     That is the established policy.


     We understood the established policy to be cohabitation.
     Former colonies are encouraged to cohabit with their benefactors—you white French—with their native customs intact.
     Cohabitation you virtuously opposed to assimilation, such as the United States promotes, where everyone is expected to suppress their native language and staple the American flag to their forehead, indistinguishable one from the other.

     Mlle, the correct opposition is not between cohabitation and assimilation but between a secular state such as we have in France and a theocracy.

     Is the US then a theocracy?

     Without question.


Two global reprobates slouching outside the Bourse, in Paris.

     Who set the Reichstag fire in 1933 and as a consequence facilitated Hitler?

     The Jew.

     Who toppled the World Trade Center in 2001 and as a consequence facilitated Bush?

     The Muslim.

     Who "emigrated mentally" while living unmolested in Nazi Germany and Austria?

     "Aryan" intellectuals and artists.
     With the exception of a very small minority.

     Who, post 9/11, duct-taped US intellectuals and artists into the condominiums of their minds?

     The crusading US government.
     Taking a page from the Red-baiting McCarthy era.
     Even as the US government was apologizing for actual McCarthyism as a shameless departure from capitalist democracy's firmest values.

     The US also apologized for interning Japanese-Americans, then did it all over again with Muslim-Americans.
     9/11 gave them the excuse to reinvent history.


     As farce.

     Farcical genocide.


French bureaucrat and Muslim teenager at the entrance to the lycée outside Paris.

     Mlle, the ordinance is in place.
     Nor does it refer exclusively to Muslims.
     Conspicuous religious items of various kinds are prohibited.
     Jews are forbidden to wear skullcaps.
     Hindus are forbidden to paint their faces.
     Christians are forbidden to wear visible crosses larger than three centimeters.


     Are Catholic nuns forbidden to wear head coverings?

     Catholic nuns would have gone beyond the lycée, Mlle.
     The ordinance does not apply to education beyond the lycée...


     Why not?

     That should be self-evident, Mlle.
     The intention of the ordinance is to instill the ideal of secular education in the young.
     Before religious habits or customs become irreversible.
     Our obligation is to attend to children who enter the French public school system, and the fact is that young Muslim females are often coerced into wearing the headscarf.


     Wearing the hijab is a fundamental principle of Islamic teaching, Monsieur.
     To assert that the hijab is forced on Muslim females is both ignorant and paternalistic.
     The "secularism" you are attempting to impose is to us another sign of intolerance towards the growing Muslim community.

     I refuse to engage in an argument about semantics, Mlle.
     That is the way the ordinance reads.



Two global reprobates slouching outside the Bourse, in Paris.

     When I say hijab what comes to mind?

     The veil.
     Taking the veil.
     Entering the convent.
     France, for example, is proud of its various orders of nuns, "les bonnes soeurs."
     The sisters are picturesque; they don't disrupt the body politic; they have an esthetic dimension.

     Gliding about in their habits noirs.
     Esthetic, bien sur.


     I think too of raising the veil, uncovering.
     Which invokes the practice of clitorectomy or infibulation.
     What percentage of Islamic females worldwide are subjected to this practice?

     Legitimate numbers would be hard to come by.
     I wouldn’t trust whatever estimates the "First World" puts out there.
     What percentage of males worldwide are subjected to circumcision?


     Are clitorectomy and circumcision comparable?

     You tell me.

     Couldn't the veil also be identified with movement induced by natural forces.
     The aeolian harp stroked by the wind.
     Creative imagination without artifice.

     There is artifice in the construction of the harp.
     Winds are increasingly produced by global warming disruptions of the weather cycles.


     What does hijab signify to you?

     The sacred prepuce of its white male leaders.


French bureaucrat and Muslim teenager at the entrance to the lycée outside Paris.

     France--before Sarkozy--officially objected to the invasion of Iraq.
     France objected to Israel's violent annexation of Palestine.
     But what France is doing in its own country to its female Muslim minority is no less prejudicial.

     One thing has nothing to do with another, Mlle.
     The ordinance is unambiguous.
     Islamic females of lycée age are required to remove their head and face coverings while in the lycée or on the grounds of the lycée.
     Once you leave the lycée you may dress and do as you please.
     So long as it is within the law.


     Senegalese and Ivory Coast former subjects of lycée age are not required to remove their dashikis and bubas.
     Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan former subjects of lycée age are not required to remove their kaftans and jubbahs.
     Caribbean former subjects are not required to undo their dreadlocks.
     It is just your orthodox Muslim females of lycée age who are required to remove their hijabs, correct?
     What is it about young Muslim females that intimidates their former colonial occupier?

     You are imagining things, Mlle.
     The official ordinance reads as I indicated.
     I do not propose to argue with you over niceties.



Two global reprobates slouching outside the Bourse, in Paris.

     Except for its Muslims and Jews, France is officially uncircumcised.

     What if someone not Muslim or Jewish elects to be circumcised?

     Unless for reasons of health, which must be officially vetted, he will have to do it outside the law.
     Hijab—as a so-to-speak implied prepuce--can also signify the formal body coverings of its political leaders, graduates of the same elite écoles.
     Have you noticed how indistinguishable France's presidents and prime ministers--Giscard, Pompidou, Mitterand, Chirac—look in their somber double-breasted suits?
     Pale, stiff, fastidious, marmoreal.


     Sarkozy isn't marmoreal.

     Sarkozy is arboreal.

     Was it William James who remarked that the sheerest of veils separates the mundane, agitated, war-making world from the world inhabited by the higher spirits?
     Yet this sheer, transparent veil is so infrequently parted.

     William James was American.
     I don’t read Americans.


     William James's younger brother Henry's platonic version of himself was as un Francais de plaisir.
     The father, Henry senior, was an internationalist and a Swedenborgian.
     Alice James, like Proust, was bedridden.
     Why don't you read Americans?

     They are without history.
     Virtually no lived history from which to draw.


     Is that less privileged than having a long history but drawing the same opportunistic conclusions?

     You mean the French?

     Not exclusively.


French bureaucrat and Muslim teenager at the entrance to the lycée outside Paris.

     Mlle, I will not stand here arguing with you.
     The ordinance is clear.
     If you or any among you wish to dispute it, that must be done formally and lawfully.


     You've repeated lawful several times.
     To you, law precedes justice; to us it is the other way round.
     Isn't it a fact that you formulate then implement laws as you choose, according to your own advantage?
     All the time professing that these laws are immutable, engraved in stone by your Christian god?

     Mlle, I have done my best to be courteous, even as you have insisted on arguing.
     Now you have come dangerously close to blasphemy.
     I hereby terminate this discussion.
     Good day, Mlle.


     You white French fuss about courtesy, which you use to mask your hypocrisy.
     We wonder whether you've considered the repercussions your anti-Islamic ordinance might produce.
     Good day, Monsieur.


Two global reprobates slouching outside the Bourse, in Paris.

     We were discussing the images invoked by the hijab, or veil.
     We've cited nuns; prepuces; the somber formal wear of our leaders; music stirred by the wind; clitorectomy and circumcision; the sheer veil which according to William James separates elevated vision from the every day.
     What about the now-defunct Red Chinese and their Bamboo Curtain?
     The now-defunct Soviets and their Iron Curtain?
     The privileged quartiers of Paris?
     The gated communities globally, with its tiny minority of nervous rich?


     And with its exponentially multiplying oppressed Muslim underclass.
     Enraged and desperate behind their Muslim curtain.
     Which could end up being the most horrific "veil" of all.
     Agreed?

     No.
     I believe the greatest horrors will be inflicted by the other side.



***


A French woman who alleged she had been the subject of an anti-Semitic attack invented the story, police sources now say.

The admission came shortly after the she was taken into custody--four days after the alleged assault on a commuter train south of Paris.

The 24-year-old woman claimed six men accused her of being Jewish, then forcibly cut off her clothes with sharp, long knives and spray-painted swastikas on her nude body.

The woman, who is not Jewish, has been detained for falsely reporting a crime, state prosecutor Didier Merleau-Ponty told AFP news agency.

She could face up to six months in prison and an 8,000-euro ($13,000) fine if convicted.

The case has sparked widespread condemnation amid concerns that anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in France, which of course has a long and sordid history of anti-Semitism.

The men, described as of North African appearance and indeterminate age, are also said to have deliberately upended the woman's 8-month-old infant from its stroller.

The child fell on its head but was reportedly uninjured.

The woman claimed that about 20 people witnessed the attack but that nobody offered her support.

However, investigators, studying footage from surveillance cameras at the Gare d'Austerlitz station where the six alleged North African attackers were supposed to have exited, found no evidence to support the woman’s claim.

Nor has a single witness come forth even after urgent appeals in the newspapers and on television.

Now police sources who requested anonymity say that under "firm questioning" the woman has recanted her accusations. She has admitted cutting off her own clothes and spray-painting the swastikas on her naked body with the help of her boyfriend who is also in custody. Like her, the boyfriend is neither Jewish nor North African, but French and white.

Le Monde, the left-leaning French daily, reports that the same woman had filed several complaints in the past about being the victim of racist or fascist violence.

The reported brutality of the attack on the woman, its anti-Semitic character and the fact that no one came to her help provoked outrage.

It also added to the growing concern over racist and anti-Semitic attacks.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who condemned the alleged assault as "pitiless and reprehensible," said he would deny clemency to any prisoner serving a sentence for a racist or anti-Semitic crime.

Government spokesman Jean-Francois Irigaray told RTL radio that the rising trend of anti-Semitic attacks was "a genuine evil" in France, even though the woman's case "proved to be imagined rather than real, as such."

JG Ballard Exhibition in Barcelona

Heads up from Boing Boing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mark Twain and the (Spanish-American) War

Finally -- nearly 100 years after his death -- the MSM feels brave enough to acknowledge "the man Ernest Hemingway said all of modern American literature could be traced back to," Mark Twain, and how he utilized his art (writing) to thwart war and oppression.

His humor, Arnold sniffed, was "so attractive to the Philistine." It would be truer to say it was attractive to anyone who valued plain speaking and the kind of deadly wit that could cut through the cant and hypocrisy surrounding any topic, no matter how sensitive: war, sex, religion, even race. Twain was righteous without being pious, angry for all the right reasons and funny in all the right ways. You might say he gave virtue a good name.
Contrast this now-reverential endorsement of Twain's wit with NPR's and Fox News' reaction to comedian Al Franken's run for Senate.

Just as in Twain's time, conservatives have a love-hate relationship with artists (love making money off their product, hate their unconventional lifestyles). When it comes to art and politics converging, Americans have always hated the left-of-center artist who becomes involved in political campaigns or causes but love, and even elect, conservative "artist"-politicians.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Orfeo" by Harold Jaffe


Image via bldg blog

The following is from Harold Jaffe's forthcoming collection Orfeo:

Orfeo
I am of the race that sang under torture.
--Rimbaud

I was about to exit when I felt the heavy hand on my left shoulder.

I knew it would be the left shoulder.

I’d been caught shoplifting the electric razor from WAL* MART.

I was handcuffed then maneuvered through the dazzlingly illuminated aisles, a burly plainclothes security guard on either side.

Shoppers turned to look, perfunctorily.

I caught the eye of a shopper’s child, a small dark-skinned girl.

She gazed at me, alarmed at what she took to be my plight.

Not wanting her to see my manacles, I didn’t wave but winked at her.

She looked uncertain.

I was led into the vast warehouse-like back area.

Seated on the straight-backed aluminum chair with my hands cuffed behind me under the glaring fluorescent light.

The security guard who’d put his heavy hand on my left shoulder wore a large heart-shaped orange nametag on his chest which said WAL* MART.

His head was shaved and he wore a musk-based cologne.

He turned his back to me and spoke into his cellphone.

I heard him say “shoplift.”

He slipped the cell in his pants pocket, turned toward me and held out a wide palm.

“Identification.”

I shook my head.

“Driver’s license, social security card, credit card, something with your contact information?”

I shook my head.

“US citizen?”

I nodded.

“Born in the US or green card?”

I nodded.

“Which is it?” he said.

“Your call,” I said.

He shrugged his heavy shoulders.

“You have a salt and pepper beard.

“That’s what it’s called, right?

“Salt and pepper?

“It’s all over your damned face.

“That’s green card, okay?

“What I want to know is what’s a salt and pepper bearded green card planning to do with a WAL* MART-brand electric razor?”

He took out a toothpick from his shirt pocket and picked at a tooth.

He put the toothpick back in the same pocket.

He said, “You’re not a salt and pepper terrorist, are you?”

I looked up at the sardonic flat face.

“I’ll tell you,” I said.

“If you tell me.”

He rubbed his thick palm on his beardless face, grinning.

“No salt and pepper here, bro.

“Smooth all over like a baby’s ass.”

“I can see that,” I said.

“I’m guessing you’re a baby’s ass who carries a sidearm, right?”

He glared at me then raised his right pants leg just high enough for me to see the ankle holster and semi-automatic.

It looked like a new-model Glock.

I said, “If I tell you I was planning to transform the stolen electric razor into a smart bomb and blow up WAL* MART would you unload on me with your Glock?”

He narrowed his gaze.

“Even a green card shit-eater would know not to even think of stealing from WAL* MART.

“Our security is flat-out number one in the free world.”

“I understood that Target’s security was flat-out number one in the free world,” I said.

“With Costco firmly in the number two slot.”

“Okay. Enough jerking off,” he said.

“You’re in deep shit, green card.

“I don’t think you realize how deep the shit you’re in is.”

“You married?” the other plainclothes security guard asked me unexpectedly, in a loud voice.

He wore a close-to-the-scalp crewcut and WAL* MART nametag and stood behind and to the left of the first guard.

“You have a wife and shit?” he said loudly.

“You look spooky with that beard sticking out your face but you don’t look gay.”

“Are you saying I look gay?” I said.

“I’m saying you look like a freak,” he said.

“A little crazy.

“My guess is you’re married with kids.”

I nodded vaguely.

“Well, congratulations, you just fucked your life up,” the first security guard said.

“How does it feel?”

“You want to know how it feels to fuck my life up?” I said.

They both glared at me.

“Give me your cellphone number and I’ll get back to you.”

“There won’t be any getting back, freak,” the first security guard said.

“Not where your green card ass is going."

They separated me from the chair and marched me, still cuffed, through the back area and outside to one of a series of unmarked orange customized SUVs parked abreast.

It was raining lightly, which for some reason surprised me.

I smelled the ozone.

With one hand on the top of my head I was pushed into the rear of a vehicle.

That was how it was always done on cop TV programs; I never understood why.

The rear was un-windowed and barred with low wooden benches on either side.

They sat me on a bench with my hands cuffed to a steel pole that ran above the bench from front to back.

Whichever WAL* MART security male drove, drove very fast.

I could hear them talking on their cells or listening to talk radio and wisecracking.

After about an hour the SUV stopped and they got out.

Ten minutes later they were back with fast food; I smelled the burgers and fries and heard them eat.

Even eating they drove recklessly fast, veering from lane to lane on the freeway.

After some time the driving changed and it felt like we were out of the city.

After another hour or so they stopped.

One of them separated me from the steel pole, relocked my cuffs and pushed me outside.

It was dusk, raining harder.

We were in front of a bunker-like concrete structure, in what looked like a deserted lot with tall weeds and rocks.

I couldn’t see clearly in the rain, but the structure looked as if it was built into the ground.

Two burly males in uniform grey shirts, pants and caps emerged from the structure.

They weren’t wearing nametags.

No words were exchanged between them and the WAL* MART males, who backed up then drove off rapidly

The two uniform males said nothing as they transported me in a freight elevator underground.

The elevator traveled slowly and I felt the air changing.

When the elevator opened, they put leg-irons around my ankles.

“Aren’t you going to remove my shoelaces?” I said.

“I tried to shoplift an electric razor from WAL* MART.

“I might want to hang myself.”

They ignored me.

They pushed me through a narrow corridor of cave-like cells which may or may not have been occupied.

They locked me in a small, low-ceilinged cell at the end of the corridor.

All around was the damp sweet-sour stench of earth.

“Have to pee,” I said as they were leaving.

“Your prob,” one of them said over his shoulder.

I shuffled to a corner of the cell and peed.

Then I removed my shoes and sat semi-cross-legged (the leg-irons impeded me) on the dirt floor against the wall in the opposite corner.

After a time I slept.

I dreamed of eight bighorned sheep-like animals cropping--or trying to crop--the hardscrabble grass.

The horned sheep moved with extreme caution even though no hunters were in sight. Close-up, the animals’ faces were bruised, even torn, with caked blood and what looked like rough sutures .

I was thinking--in the dream--about the number eight.

Why were there precisely eight of the gentle beasts?

I was awakened by a female voice haranguing me through the bars of the cell.

It was my wife; I wondered how she knew I was here.

I opened my eyes partially and rattled my leg irons but otherwise didn’t move.

She demanded why I would try to steal an electric razor from WAL* MART.

She said the cell stank of piss.

She demanded again why I would try to shoplift a razor from WAL* MART.

She seemed more chagrined than angry.

She said despite my “background” and education I’d always been a loser, but this was the last straw.

This was the lowest I could sink without being in hell.

She’d consulted an attorney and now she would sue me for divorce and custody of our daughter.

She said I’d dug my own grave and as far as she was concerned I could rot in it.

A grey-uniformed guard looked on expressionless.

After she left I closed my eyes.

I slept.

I dreamed of eight large pelagic, albatross-like birds with their majestic wingspan flying in formation, not over ocean but desert.

Moreover the desert seemed to be on fire, or blazing fires were scattered over the desert.

The birds would gaze down occasionally but kept flying because there was no habitable place to land.

From where I was located below I could see the great birds’ faces which weren’t the faces of pelagic birds but rather the round faces of infants such as barn owls resemble.

I was awakened by someone rattling the bars of my cell.

He spoke my name.

I opened then closed my eyes.

He was an administrator from the company where I worked.

A small, pale male, vaguely rat-like: I didn’t remember his name.

I remembered that he always seemed to be sweating.

As with my wife, I had no idea how he knew of my whereabouts.

The message he delivered was brief: the company would not employ thieves who attempted to steal from WAL* MART and so I was thereby terminated.

Whatever salary was owed to me would be transferred to my wife.

Then he left along with the expressionless guard.

I shouted after the guard: “Toilet.”

He didn’t respond.

I struggled to my feet and peed again in the far corner, though in truth there was no far corner since the cell was cramped.

I had to squat so that my head didn’t hit the ceiling.

Because the floor was earthen the pee soaked into the hardened dirt.

I noticed a soiled straw mat rolled up against the wall.

I unrolled it and lay down on my back gazing up at the low ceiling.

From every side the damp earth was palpable.

Occasionally a sliver or even small clod of earth would fall from the ceiling.

Moreover there was vermin, and why shouldn’t there be?

Neither the wrist nor the leg manacles hindered me overmuch.

I was having a small problem drawing breath.

I thought I could hear cell doors clanging open and shut down the corridor and on the floor above.

Maybe it was the floor below.

I think it was below.

Which would make it Hades.

Where Orpheus descended.

I will miss my daughter.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Paris 60




Excerpts from Harold Jaffe's new collection "Paris 60" have been posted at the Starcherone Books blog by publisher Ted Pelton.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Drag Your Boomer Parents Into the 21st Century

Tired of listening to the same pathetic, decades-old music options from your Boomer -- or Gen Xer -- parents? Technology has several answers for you!

The article offers several possibilities, but I recommend Pandora.com. It's so easy even your parents can figure it out!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Artistic Pirate

Anyone who has taken one of Prof. Harold Jaffe's classes is familiar with his motto: Find a seam. Plant a mine. Slip away. Repeated on his website, the motto exemplifies his commitment to the artist's role as society's Trickster-Hero. Why Trickster-Hero? Because the old images of the artist as Warrior-Hero, like Hemingway, or Romantic-Hero, like Marilyn, can be too easily faked or too readily co-opted. The Trickster-Hero can evade such capitalist traps -- for a while, at least.

The Trickster-Hero is the topic of Matt Mason's The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism. Mason's "pirates" -- graffiti artists, music and film samplers, information appropriators -- don't resemble Robin Hood or Captain Jack Sparrow. They are artists: their "thievery" consists of excluding those who would exploit that art for money. Hence, they "reinvent" capitalism.

Why do artists now live like "pirates"? Because they want to decide how their art is used. They have seen artists treated as product, overworked, used up and killed off by agents, companies and corporations created to maximize profits from that art. They have seen idealism being rebranded to sell erectile dysfunction remedies. They have seen "rebels" who became rich for being rebellious work to stifle that same instinct in their audience.

"We live in a world where things we used to pay for, such as music, movies, and newspapers, are now available for free. But things we used to reproduce for free, such as seeds and pigs, have to be paid for. This is a world where we need to understand the finer points of the pirate mentality...."
Mason's book contains useful how-tos for aspiring pirate-artists, plus bonus real-life examples of famous pirate raids on corporate culture, including describing how Madonna was punked. Yes, that Madonna, once celebrated for her ability to market rebellion, is now poster girl for a failed Warner Bros. pirate-squashing. When she f-bombed a downloading site, workers retaliated:
"Frustrated by a globalized music industry force-feeding them plastic pop music, hackers, remixers, and activists began to mobilize within hours against Madonna.... Days after the decoy files were released, new versions of Madonna's a capella outburst started springing up.... Madonna's official site was hacked and every track from her new album, the real tracks, were pinned to the home page free for anyone to download. Across the top of the page, the remixer posted a response to Madonna, the music industry, and everyone else threatening to stand in free culture's way: THIS IS WHAT THE FUCK I THINK I'M DOING."
Way to go, pirates!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Have you been --

Rick Rolled? Too bad if you haven't.

What I like about Rick Rolling is it's a meme but also an example of musical "stickiness" -- the tune, once heard, replays in your head for hours... days.. maybe even weeks. So by tricking someone into hearing it you have altered their mind for ... you know.

It's also a video by Rick Astley, who was hot-hot-hot on YouTube's progenitor, MTV, when it was the hot new thing. As such, the video is retro-geek-chic.

People send a Rick Roll by links because the "embed" function of this particular video is disabled. Usually the links don't tell you it's a Rick Roll (like the one in the first paragraph).

You are reading an innocuous-seeming blog entry, you come across a word or phrase that looks interesting, you click it, and --

Rick Roll!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Drive In Saturday, 4.26.2008


Bill Withers/"Use Me"

Gang of Four/"Armalite Rifle"

John Foxx/"Miles Away"

Discharge/"Does This System Work?"

X/"White Girl"