Nav Info

NCAA: “Fuck The Kids,” Literally

Like most American institutions, NCAA football is a pretty good showcase for how the influence of capital will always supersede any notion of human decency. Shit, this is an organization that has big-name teams pay out for wins. Which, in and of itself, is dumb for the sake of the game; but at least it isn’t anything serious. You know, like raping kids.

As the hoopla on any and all sports-related programming across any and all media outlets takes place for the College Football Championship, let’s all take a moment to remember how the NCAA rescinded all sanctions against Penn State for knowingly operating and supporting a program run by a child rapist.1 This was one year after the scandal—just long enough for public outrage to have run its course and the news to focus on the rapist running for President.

Every now and again I get shocked at things like the extent to which Americans will support sweatshop labor and gulags for kids but then I realize none of these children likely have a shot at a Nike endorsement and so of course the powers that be would consider them worthless.

      Notes
  • That’s like a ten-page Wiki article that gets one paragraph about how the NCAA basically decided none of it matters. The lunacy in all this makes me sick.

18:00 / 7 January 2019
Posted to Opinion

Tagged:



The Other Half

The Saturday morning cartoons that began the weekends for kids in the early 90s may have aged only to create modern memes, but I distinctly remember the source of this was all well-intended: an affirmation that knowledge is power. Knowing, as GI Joe put it, was half the battle.

Nowadays I wonder exactly what the other half is. Though I doubt anyone writing up these cartoons imagined the ascent and implications of the internet, but these days knowing something isn’t too difficult.1 In fact, the juxtaposition of a wealth of information with such ineffectual leaders necessitates the question Why bother with any of it?

For the children

If the republic system was run to an ideal, an informed public would be able to vote representatives in to office who would then facilitate a state of governance as near as possible to the demands of the people. But in this day and age that sentence is so far-fetched that it almost makes one wonder what the definition of our modern state truly is.2 The influence of money cannot be understated: between American children being slaughtered and immigrant children left for dead, the cruelty of capitalism has shown neither of the major American parties will cater to overwhelming populist demand.

It’s no wonder why people get outraged at the news; the world keeps spinning—seemingly out of control—and all that grows among the people is a sense of powerlessness in averting disaster. The political systems seem to operate in a one-step-forward, eight-steps-back loop. And the more you know, the more hopeless the situation seems.

I guess John Prine was right all along.

      Notes
  • Not that it ever really was; it was simply less convenient to go to a library and find a specific page in a book or load up a microfiche than use Google.
  • Kudos to some of the new leftists in the House looking to fuck with the standard liberal agenda, though. (That being said, nobody seems to think a second term by Trump is possible, but if the moderate left doesn’t adopt some of the demands of the activist left and the party splits, there could be a free-for-all in 2020.)

12:15 / 6 January 2019
Posted to Opinion

Tagged:



Domestic Gross

Nobody releases decent movies in January even though it’s cold as fuck and pouring rain and there’s nothing to do because films all get dumped off at Christmas since a) the end of the year is the deadline for Academy Award consideration and b) why would anyone want to actually spend the holidays with family. So now weeks pass without any damn reason to go waste some time in a warm theater, furthering the proof that those in charge of national entertainment have put zero thought into the idea of when and why people need to be entertained.1

      Notes
  • I understand Vice isn’t supposed to be all bad, but I’m just not ready to go and see something about the Bush years in the theater. Yes, The Big Short was awesome, and the financial crash was infuriating in many respects, but in terms of man-robot mass-murderers on screen I’d like to stick with Star Wars.

01:00 / 6 January 2019
Posted to Personal

Tagged:


XX

By crossing into a space whose curvature is no longer that of the real, nor that of truth, the era of simulation is inaugurated by a liquidation of all referentials—worse: with their artificial resurrection in the systems of signs, a material more malleable than meaning, in that it lends itself to all systems of equivalences, to all binary oppositions, to all combinationary algebra. It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real, that is to say of an operation of deterring every real process via its operational double, a programmatic, metastable, perfectly descriptive machine that offers all the signs of the real and short circuits all its vicissitudes. Never again will the real have the chance to produce itself—such is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection, that no longer even gives the event of death a chance. A hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imaginary, and from any distinction between the real and the imaginary, leaving room only for the orbital recurrence of models and for the simulated generation of differences.

—Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation

Twenty years. Some people spend that time raising children; I’ve spent it using the various incarnations of this web site in an attempt to better understand both myself and the shifting scope of the world as it has occurred over the past two decades. I wonder now, what, truly, have I learned?

What Baudrillard spoke of, or perhaps threatened, in Simulacra and Simulation, was almost the current state of social media. That all of the opinions, in their state of memes and the aggregate superiority complexes of strictly defined opposing sides, take themselves so seriously that it becomes a massive detriment to the reality of our social fabric. That, though everything is political at some level, the mistrust of some forms of information give way for all to claim a distrust in anything that does not serve their individual narrative.

Fake News

Haters gonna hate

—Taylor Swift

If there has been one consistency on the internet over the twenty years I’ve been observing it through this lens, it is the vicious nature of comments. Our society has shifted into one of a nature of self-definition by attacking any idea that doesn’t align with an individual narrative—and the market has profited massively from reinforcing that very belief.

The idea that any concept counter to the opinion of an individual, whoever that may be, should be outright ignored is the basis for two of the most popular phrases of the defensive over the past five years: Haters gonna hate and Fake news. Like all great lies of propaganda, they each begin with a seed of truth. Yet their utility is predominantly to reinforce a will of ignorance beyond apathy—an actual desire to not acknowledge a point of opposition to the extreme that it has no basis in reality. This is incredibly dangerous to any free society.

It isn’t the fault of any singular entity: Fox News, Taylor Swift, Facebook, Donald Trump, Amazon.com, Hillary Clinton, et cetera. It’s all of them and more—combined with the willful ignorance of a mass amount of humans invested more in their immediate presence in the digital space. Over the past decades the internet has shifted from a place of relatively anarchic conversation spaces to a bottleneck of controlled avenues for discourse.

What This World Needs

Whereas once humans had to farm for the harvest, suddenly a business came along with a store to provide the convenience of food for a price. The irony of the internet is that the ‘convenience’ of our social networks for communication—unlike, say, grocery stores for food—is not a necessity. Using Facebook instead of literally almost anything else to communicate with people is, at best, a ridiculous luxury.

And so to keep the market for this unnecessary harvest of information alive, those who control it must misdirect attention. Public distrust of one another stops any given momentum for actual populist cohesion. Facebook doesn’t change for the better user experience because if it did, it puts its very nature at risk.

The corporate nature of the modern internet was an inevitable result of western capitalism, however the dissatisfaction among many—online and off—about our current state of these realities should showcase the need for change. That the internet at one point was beloved, the way that at one point more people felt free, should be sufficient evidence that the powers that be have overplayed their hand and overstayed their welcome.

In twenty years I’ve watched this digital world shift from one extreme to another; hopefully in the next twenty this pendulum swings back the other way.

15:30 / 5 January 2019
Posted to Opinion

Tagged:



Insomniac

PDX 2016

… the days have passed but their feeling remains. I’m returning to Portland for the first time since moving out—sleep has become a dream and being awake seems to be a non-stop anxiety attack, blurred vision and counter-intuitive feelings …

01:15 / 3 January 2019
Posted to Personal

Tagged:

Once and Future Monopolies

Archimedes once said, “Give me a place to stand and I will move the world.” Today he would have pointed to our electric media and said, “I will stand on your eyes, your ears, your nerves, and your brain, and the world will move in any tempo or pattern I choose.” We have leased these “places to stand” to private corporations.

—Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media

It seems a week doesn’t pass without some nostalgic write-up about the ‘original’ internet—loosely defined as the pre-Facebook era, when the closest things to social networking were AIM away messages and WebRings.

I miss this time as well; I was an artist in one of the first online comic book publishers and reveled in early phpBB forums for art and design, found new music on Scour and Napster. The possibilities seemed endless—and though my teenage mind wasn’t necessarily parsing the idea of who owned what, in retrospect it’s incredible how much was DIY.1

Though many of us curse the internet of today, where it feels like the intangible version of the Mall of America, I wonder if it really could have been any other way. I look at our real world and see that even with the behemoth box stores, overpriced boutiques and farcical advertising agencies, the good stuff still exists. Kids still haul amps into basements, artists still hang saran wrap from ceilings, we’re still carving out a minor refuge of truth in the shadow of glistening skyscrapers full of horseshit.

Yet the majority of people do not seem to want that truth. It’s no secret that global-fortune technology brands like Apple and Amazon all have atrocious labor practices. Facebook seems to constantly apologize for one fuck-up or another. Similarly in the physical mall, sweatshops couldn’t stop the popularity of The Gap (or Nike).

Like our current reality, though full of corporate control and political hell, the internet still offers incredible things run by independent people or groups. Plenty of artists, galleries and venues have domains outside of the grasp of Facebook, Tumblr or Squarespace.2 But like the real world, it takes the action of people to visit the local market—the action of people to delete Facebook, to not choose corporate convenience over local support—to maintain this movement. And it’s more important now than ever before, as these choices are setting up the foundation of the world to come.

      Notes
  • Of course, it had to be. Online access, the ability to code and make graphics, the time to burn … all of the early internet had certain links to both opportunity and dedication. Markets always play catch-up to a good idea.
  • a.) Granted, the former content streams tend to steal from these to fill their feeds, but b.) I would be a fan of this being the root of a WebRing revival—sort of how small businesses band together, small websites ought to as well.

19:30 / 2 January 2019
Posted to Opinion

Tagged:



The Sounds of Time

The tools that built this

For quite some time I’ve been working on a new musical project and have started 2019 with its release. Stream a preview above, “Artists in Times of War.”

Stream and purchase “Home” here. More information on the record will be released in the coming days.

12:00 / 2 January 2019
Posted to Work

Tagged:

Red Sky

(Almost. Just one more day would have done it. Instead, Elizabeth Warren had to announce her candidacy for President in 2020 on December 31, meaning we couldn’t even get to 2019 before starting the conversation about the 2020 election. Goddammit.)

I don’t dislike Warren; she hates Wall Street and Wall Street hates her, which automatically grants her some favor. But to me, getting behind her candidacy—as well as those unannounced but probable campaigns in O’Rourke, Harris and Biden—is a lot like listening to Thrice.

Allow me to explain.

Mac · Seattle 2007

In the spring of 2007, my buddy Mac and I hopped on a Greyhound for an impromptu trip to Seattle from Portland. We had only known each other about a year at that point, but had become fast friends over a mutual affinity for leftist politics and the punk rock shows that can sometimes come along with that scene. Like most who believed in socialist politics—or in punk—we’d each found our way to the left of the middle by a different path.

In Seattle, Mac and I met up with Megan and we did what people do in Seattle: get coffee, play pinball and go record shopping.

I was thumbing through some vinyl at Easy Street Records when it happened; all of us in our own spaces, Megan came up to me with a straight face and said, Hey I found your favorite record while sarcastically pulling out The Artist In The Ambulance—the major-label debut from the band Thrice. I, with a not-sarcastic-at-all straight face, replied, Yeah I already have that.

Megan’s jaw dropped in disbelief and she instantly turned to Mac across the aisle. You do realize your friend owns a Thrice album, right? Mac replied with a line that has impacted me to this day, saying, Yeah, but if I judged all my friends based on their music collection, I wouldn’t have any friends. Megan laughed and shelved the album.

Megan with sandals on her hands outside Easy Street · Seattle 2007

This is the first thing that came to mind when I read about Elizabeth Warren and her ambitions for the Oval Office. It’s what comes to my mind when I talk with most of the people I know about politics. I don’t necessarily dislike Warren—she’s certainly better than the last woman with liberal establishment support. But when it comes to who I would actually vote for, she doesn’t make the cut.

Like the Thrice record, Warren is a glossy, approved-for-the-mainstream rendering of idealism and vision rooted in a much more uncompromising place. The Artist In The Ambulance found its thesis from pages of DIY zines the way Warren’s fight against Wall Street may hold hints of Marx. But looking good on paper rarely appeals to a mainstream audience.

Now, looking out at all the crowds of liberals and mediocrity of their 2020 ambitions, the pro-capitalist nature of neoliberalism and its farcical claims of ‘consumer protection,’ I can’t help but think of those who support such a vision, You’re all just listening to Thrice.

10:30 / 1 January 2019
Posted to Personal

Tagged:


A Season of Loss

Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one.

-Capt. Willard, Apocalypse Now

I have worked diligently in my life to avoid responsibility—to not be tied to places or people or things by way of mortgages, marriage or consumption. It would seem now that, outside of a large collection of books kept mostly in boxes, this is now truer than ever.

Casey

Casey in the studio · September 2018

In the past months I have lost both my beloved cat and place of residence & work to the unstoppable force of time. Both were bound to happen, yet with all loss the moment itself always weighs more than any prepared strength can hold.

My cat had been ill for some time, to the point she couldn’t even live with me in the Warehouse due to its nature: a confined space littered with various chemicals and too many uneven surfaces for such an aged animal with weak legs. Yet still I had her for 15 years; she moved with me from Savannah to Portland to Austin to Boston to San Francisco and finally back to Portland again, riding alongside me in the car the entire way. Where once there was the necessity of care, a reminder of the good in the world, or simply something to be an excuse to not talk solely to myself, now there is not.

The Warehouse

The Warehouse on First Friday · December 2018

Nobody really knows who tipped off the Portland Fire Department to The Warehouse, but upon his visit the Fire Marshall said he’d never seen so many violations in one space and we had 72 hours to, at minimum, remove any trace of people living there. It’s understandable only to the extent of blame passed around in Oakland after what happened to the Ghost Ship—yet at the same time, we’re all adults who chose to live in this space knowing the risks.

The Warehouse is still working with Portland Fire to get, well, legal, but I’ve already left Oregon and that part of life behind. Now with no cat and no rent, I’ve lost the last two things I felt an unconditional love for in this world. I will still try to show art as long as the Warehouse can remain open; I have a small piece of foam with my cat’s paw imprinted upon it.

Yet now there is now nothing holding me back from the world, except for perhaps the general necessity to make money and feed myself. This is a tomorrow full of potential, but for today, looking back on the past few months and year and years, I’m just sad.

09:00 / 31 December 2018
Posted to Personal

Tagged:


Late Expectations

I don’t remember many of the conversations I had on election night of 2016; on one hand I was drinking pretty heavily and on the other I was resisting the urge to text everyone in my contact list and say I told you so. I do remember getting more than a few messages saying something along the lines of Well at least this will be good for your art. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

A 2018 anti-Trump protest in Portland

Since November 2016 it seems people have still not adjusted to—and perhaps still cannot comprehend—the new normal our society has been born in to. Children are dying in detention centers. Outside of a mildly successful summer blockade in Portland, ICE and the Trump administration have had little problem in executing this horrific agenda.

Throughout the 2016 election, Trump was constantly pushing the boundaries of how a candidate can run for office in America. While some might say the disgusting fashion to which he accomplished such a feat should be the focus, I disagree. With his campaign and subsequent victory, Trump didn’t just adjust the borders on the field of America’s institutions: he changed the game completely.

The fact that this ‘wasn’t supposed to happen‘ is now why the absurd and grotesque is met with ambivalence and inaction. American society for so long has been regulated by the standards of traditional power that it is now subscribing to the whims of an unregulated force. Protests against all administrations since Vietnam have been students parading in the street on police-approved routes: while this administration is different, the dissent remains the same.

A 2007 anti-war protest in Portland

As Trump disregarded the traditions of the institutions facing him down, so must those who would fight against his agenda. (Of course, he had the benefit of finance and power to provide a safety net with the prospect of failure while any subversive practices would surely be met with imprisonment.)

And so with the world of art, it is unsurprising that most news caters to multi-million dollar pranks and record prices at auction as opposed to anything significantly pushing back against the global spread of nationalism. Perhaps it is because Trump, Brexit and the like represent the same level of absurdity as Duchamp. Perhaps it is because even in the face of social justice-related work on a massive scale, all that results is jail time. Perhaps it is because our ‘good’ leaders still respond to nonviolent movements with the opposite.

Or maybe everyone just got too self-obsessed, sacrificing any notion of true social fabric for the facade of social networks.

Whatever the reason, whatever the response, the fact is that the norms of American society and its adjacent institutions are irrelevant. The psychic death of neo-modern marketing, the plague of individualism and disregard of corporate power all tie back to that which allowed for a man like Trump to be elected in the first place: a society unable to control the beast of capitalism it has unleashed into the world without any sign of art to save it.

16:30 / 30 December 2018
Posted to Opinion

Tagged: