I think I'm brave enough to try some of that!

So I belatedly discovered the new Closure in Moscow release this week, Pink Lemonade. I was very excited about this band when First Temple came out, but for anyone keeping track that was in 2009. It's pretty uncommon for a band to release a sophomore album after 5 years, so I sort of stopped following at a certain point and assumed that the drugs took effect and they got lost in a desert somewhere. They do live in Australia after all, so there is plenty of desert to get lost in.

Anyway needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Pink Lemonade, but elated to find out how much they had evolved as a group between bands. First Temple seemed on some level to be a reaction to Bedlam in Goliath, which is my favorite TMV album so I'm not complaining, and you can still hear some TMV emulation in Pink Lemonade, but they definitely have gone pretty far down the rabbit hole to find themselves. There is almost a punk vibe mixed in with the heavy psychadelics, noise metal right alongside disco grooves, it is very hard to put a finger on exactly what their style has become, and really that's what makes the greatest bands. The ineffable essense.

As a side note, I started digging into this album on the same day I discovered the Antemasque CD, which I may write about seperately, but let me say that even though Closure in Moscow is the protege and not the master, you wouldn't be able to tell that listening to this two albums. Pink Lemonade stands head and shoulders above Cedric/Omar's new attempt at erasing the board, and I'd like to think they'd be proud of what they inspired.

Did it for the Lulz

Just finished the book "We are Anonymous" by Parmy Olson which was a good read, good look into a more progressive form of terrorism. It's interesting because before I read this book I had a more respectful opinion of Anonymous, because the media that they get typically is related to the political activism side, and the Guy Fawkes quotes, and the sense of purpose. LulzSec on the other hand got a bad rap more or less because it didn't seek to proclaim some sense of purpose or something that it was fighting against, it was literally a group of people doing this stuff because they could.

After reading this book my opinions have been somewhat reversed. For one, I feel like a more true explanation of what has gone down with Anonymous is less noble and organized then the media would have it appear. The media wants people to be scared that there is this organized cyber-crime syndicate out there wearing masks. But most of the people involved are just a bunch of kids messing around because they don't have much to do in the real world anymore, there's not a lot of purpose in the world for kids and so they create this sense of non-purpose that is fulfilling in a way. Really only the outliers are true political activists, usually these people are not the instigators but rather the clean-up crew who frame what happened in a meaningful light.

That being said, it actually boosts my opinion of LulzSec for taking the voice from these outliers. Topiary really did some profound when he spoke to the world and explained that there was no purpose whatsoever for any of it, it took a lot of courage and I commend him for it.

The other thing that I became more conscious of reading this book is how invasive the internet can be. It's always been that way, potentially your IP address can be tracked back to you so a person in the right situation can find you if they want to, but also the statistic that something like 60 million PCs in the world are infected by botnets, so they can be used at any time to hold a company ransom by taking their site down, and you would know nothing about it unless you had the right security software. It's something that I've been vaguely aware of, but reading this book brought to the front of my mind how scary the internet can be.

Yet that's the direction the world is heading, and at this point part of why it is so scary is because public awareness is so low. A very small percentage of people online are actually tapped into the potential of information gathering and manipulation, most run around obliviously clicking on links and tweeting about their day-to-day life. Inevitably, unless the course of human evolution changes dramatically, the internet is going to be playing a larger role in our lives year after year, and to not fully come to terms with this or educate ourselves on the danger and potential therein is reckless. It would be like taking a job as an engineer without ever learning the math behind it.

While I'm pretty bad at math, I still do want to learn.

The Endless Struggle to Classify

This post was originally inspired by the release of "Like Clockwork" by QotSA, which is an excellent album by all rights, and I'm incredibly satisfied that one of my favorite bands of all time has not completely lost it. There are many bands that I feel lose their edge, or simply run out of material after a couple albums, and then their ongoing attempts seem a little pathetic. Of course everyone WANTS them to come out with something great, and has that little place in their brains where hope is stored that tells us maybe this time, against all odds, they have fond the font of creativity again and it's all going to be alright.

Maybe Maynard has it figured out, Tool has already made it to the status of legendary in the rock and roll community after only releasing four studio albums (and one kickass EP). They haven't released an album in 7 years, and Maynard is busy selling organic produce. The cult of fans he's raised may be upset about that, but maybe Maynard is one of the most honest rock and roll musicians ever to hit the stage, and he just realizes that he doesn't have anything else truly great to offer in the form of Tool. I wouldn't mind being proven wrong, I would love to see another album from them, but if they stayed away permanently they would still live on as gods.

That brings me around to the current project I've been working on. What are the greatest albums that have come along in the 21st century? At this point I'm limiting this mostly as an examination of rock music because that's just my style and I don't think I'm much of a judge of pop music. It sucks, I don't get it, w/e. One band that has truly stood out as I've run through all the existing lists and my own personal preferences is Dream Theater. Thus the featured song today.

Dream Theater is one of those few bands that has grown in power as they move along, almost as if they somehow gain more inspiration as they go. Part of that is what I believe to be the anathema of the rock and roll star, substance abuse. Based on the stories of James LaBrie, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci and the rest of the gang, they have really managed to conquer their demons in a way most stars haven't. Not that they haven't been tormented, but they have grown and adapted throughout their now venerable careers, and that personal growth has found its way into their music.

Anyhow, I'm not going to stack my mental list of great albums with just Dream Theater, but not going to lie, Octavarium is in the running for the best of the best.

That's all, now go ye out into the world and jam.


The Red Keep

I don't know if you've been keeping up with the Game of Thrones show on HBO, it's currently to Season 3. Before you start judging me, please let me say that I'm not a hipster in any other way, but now that everyone seems to love GoT because of the show I sit and whine to myself that I read the books over ten years ago, have been the biggest fan, and hate that these people who probably would never pick up a book in their life are hopping on the bandwagon now. I'm the GoT hipster.

Anyway, the most recent episode had a segment where Sansa was mourning to Littlefinger about how when she lived in Winterfell she always wished she could be in King's Landing and go to the parties, and see the Red Keep and be part of of "real life", the center of the world as it seemed to her then. Now that she's there, living in the Red Keep, all she wants to do is go back to Winterfell. That's actually a fairly accurate depiction of life in general, but it matches the sentiments of a book I just finished reading, so it resonated with me.

I just finished up Prague by Arthur Phillips, which was an extremely well written romp around Budapest in 1990-1991, right after the collapse of the USSR. Even the title matches the "Red Keep mentality" as it were, as none of the book takes place in Prague (they do go to Vienna for a minute) but there are constant references throughout about how Budapest is basically the backwater substitute Slavic metropolis, and all the real happenings are happening in Prague. The thought process is best articulated by one of the characters Mark, who is an academic expert on nostalgia, and is on a quest to find its true source, chancing madness in the process. He summarizes the process on how coffee shops or "cafes" became popular. Down-on-their-luck artists from every century migrated to coffee shops because their most revered heroes went to coffee shops before them. But those said heroes went to coffee shops because their heroes went to coffee shops, and so on and so forth. It turns out the original heroes went to coffee shops simply because they needed a place to be warm, because they were poor, which is the most rational explanation for any of it, but over time it turns into a mythical Valhalla of creative potential.

Anyhow, in application to real life, a lot of times we are willing to turn a blind eye to all of the good we already have in our lives because there is something on the other side of the hill that seems more remarkable. The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we that remarkable? If changing lanes was a sign of some fated destiny, wouldn't it be a little less common? As I look around at the people I share the world with, I see serial monogamists, 50-year old pizza delivery boys and plenty of starving artists.

It makes me think that the resistance against doing what life tells you to do is what's common. It's a rarer thing to find someone accepting what life hands them without a struggle.

The Desert Road

The cover art for this new album takes me back. I remember I had just recently purchased Songs for the Deaf but I was too busy to listen to the full album much. I was a senior in high school that year, I delivered pizzas like 3-4 nights a week, I was writing all my final papers and generally just being a kid, running around all the time. Anyway, we were going on our Senior trip and it was like a four hour bus ride, and so I got on that bus and just listened to that album from start to finish four times back to back.

Songs for the Deaf was I think the first CD I truly fell in love with. It brought everything that was going on in my life together in one sweet car-crash, the pain and pleasure of frustration, the desire for escape, the adolescent f-it mentality, all enveloping me as I sat there in my only world with the rest of my class around me. The funny thing is that I think of myself before that point and I know that I "liked" music before then, but I can't recall a single album that did to me what they miraculous music from the gods did to me that blissful afternoon, and I think the distinction is that for the first time I was experiencing music as one does as an adult. Not just imitating the catchy tunes but really trying to understand them and how the people who created this art must have been thinking when they found the music in their heads.

On the other side of that coin is the bitterness that I feel, a few years down the road, knowing that I will never truly love an album like that again. I've heard too many patterns in my head, had too many reflexive experiences of finding "the album that changes the world" and then growing bored of it eventually. There's a certain cynicism that comes with this realization. I think now, I probably could have been listening to a lot of different things during that trip, and maybe I would have gotten obsessed with any of those other CDs instead of "the one". Maybe my idolization of QotSA and Josh Homme is completely arbitrary, and I might have been obsessed with...Kid Rock if that happened to be the CD in my disc-man that afternoon.

But I wasn't, so when I listen to Josh Homme moaning in a swirl of humming static it brings to me a shadow of the vitality that I felt when I was young; that pulsating, never-quenched desire to feel consumed and worshipful of life itself.

I hope I never lose that.


State of the Mind

Politics are the accumulation of all human behavior. Politicking is the acceptable social mechanism for trying to coerce others to believe what you believe. In this there is a very fine line between politics and religion, as ultimately the same end result is desired. The system desires to control how we act. However politics act on empirical behaviors, whereas religions more work towards the domain of what is "felt", which is a more internal behavior and so has less objective proof of success or failure.

Take a convicted murderer who finds religion in prison. There is no way of empirically weighing how the religion has affected his soul, that is truly only a perception the prisoner is aware of, and has little effect on how the rest of society perceives the man and his actions. Politics however has a more tangible effect, because politics are the vehicle by which each society has created law, and so whether or not this man is affected by capital punishment, whether he lives or dies, is ultimately decided by the politics that have made an effect on whatever society he acts within. This is an effect that all of society can perceive.

Coming back around though, I feel this is why I fixate so much on politics in my writing, because ultimately it is the one true thing that matters in society. An argument could be made for art, but once again art evokes feelings, which can produce action, but ultimately the vehicle the action would come through would be politics again. A piece of art could make you feel, for example, that murder is awful and should never occur, but without politics to turn that sentiment into law, it remains an impotent feeling.

The thought behind this tonight actually has nothing to do with murder, that's just a powerful example of the distinction between what produces results and what produces ambivalence. The thought behind this is the giant gulf that exists between the powerful and the powerless, and how the only true way to remedy this is with politics. This creates possibly one of the greatest conundrums of modern society, because it is obvious that there is an imbalance of wealth and resources, however those with power (ie wealth and resources) are those who make the decisions. These are the ones who put politicians in power, and so it seems unlikely, if not impossible, that these wealth-driven individuals would ever make the conscious choice to endorse a politician who would intentionally threaten their excess.

The action wouldn't make sense, it would defy self-preservation, which is one of the most powerful responses a human feels. So how could a society muster up the politics to make a wealth changing play with enough backing to be enforced, without it being backed by the wealthy?


Road full of/promising Danger

Yeah I know, it got stuck in my head. Avett Brothers are some really interesting stuff. Such positive negativity. Jim here, on the other hand, is just high.

I decided to write something down again because I recently finished the book Constantine's Sword. Even then it took me a week or so to gather some thoughts and make it here. The reason for that isn't actually apathy or indifference, though that may be the impression. The fact is after reading a book so dense it's hard to come right out and say what you thought of it. A book like that can't be melted down to a simple "I liked it" because I didn't really like it, but it was thought-provoking.

I suppose to really be honest to the book though I have to pay attention to my own life and perspective in reading it. I was raised in a Christian church that was, doctrinally speaking, pro-Jewish. In fact the leaders held the Jews up on a pedestal, something to do with Revelations prophecy, the witness, etc.. Carroll mentions a similar phenomenon several times in reference to Catholics, sans the reverence. My biblical channeling is a little fuzzy but I think it was something to do with a special place reserved in heaven for the "chosen" people, that being those true Jewish followers who believed in God without fail. Now naively when I was a kid I believed that Jews were more a race than a religion, which also ties into this book a little, but based on that I thought that the reverence my church held for Jews was almost a sort of envy because they couldn't be Jews. Now I understand that you can simply convert to Judaism, which muddles the whole thing a bit.

I could continue on about strange hybrid-religions that I've had altogether too much experience of, but the point is that I came from the place of a Christian who held no animosity for Jews. If anything it's my political experience, rather than religious, that taught me any sort of negativity towards the Jewish religion, but that's a side-track as well.

Now on the other side of this, because I was mostly emotionally detached from the Jewish condition, I also had no feelings of guilt or shame in regards to the holocaust (or the Shoah I suppose, if I want to try to be culturally sensitive). In fact in reading that book I learned more about the context of the holocaust then I'd ever known. In my head the Nazi treatment of Jews was more an isolated event, surprising and in dramatic shift from the normal thought-patterns of the time. Now of course I can see that logically that makes no sense, the Nazi party was made up of real people who had thoughts and opinions, the hatred of Jews couldn't possibly have been magicked into existence.

At the same time, by the time I was socially conscious I saw no evidence of this antisemitism that plagued the world for hundreds of years. I was a child of the 80s-90s, significantly one of my earliest memories of society was the Berlin Wall being torn down. The world to me as a kid was in this sort of pleasant pre-utopian state where things weren't perfect but all the most disagreeable stuff about the past had been resolved. Of course 2001 was a rude awakening in more than one way. Not only showing that the United States wasn't above the past, but also that the world was probably even more dangerous than it ever had been. I mean, who's idea was it ever to stick thousands of people into tall precariously built structures anyway? More than anything though it showed that racism wasn't dead. Not just the generalized racism that was scripted to "southerners" but the society-infecting panicked racism of the 1930s-40s. It was still very much alive. Also the ability to lump a religion in with a race was back, without even blinking America as a society generalized all Arabs as Muslims, then at that point Arabs were dangerous, or Muslims, or who cared they were basically the same thing.

I don't believe those things, but my point is that until I read James Carroll's book I never made the comparison, never examined how alive hatred and xenophobia still are in society, and was never truly worried about how that could effect our future. Now I can see that dystopian future that we lumber into, the heavy steps of the unwitting public trekking further into the inexcusable.



It's the cover of Tremors.

Every now and then you have those weeks where you examine every little bit of yourself and find the places where you're lacking. That was my week, and it's only Monday. Fortunately Louisville claimed the #1 overall Seed for the NCAA Tournament, so I can't doubt my faith in a college sports team yet.

I'm beginning to become dissatisfied with my position at work, I want for a challenge and I know I'm certified for a greater level of responsibility. Also I'm beginning to suspect I developed tardive dyskinesia somewhere along the road, which ironically might improve my typing skills but overall makes me afraid that I come off as a twitchy spaz as opposed to the professional go-getter I try to resemble. Fortunately I found someone who loves me for all my glitches.

Anyhow, I haven't had that feeling for a while, but every now and then it feels like the ground is moving a little under my feet. I look down and think "Oh no, I forgot the world was crumbling around me. Now it's too late to prepare, too late to protect myself and my love, I wasted my edge, distracted by the small stuff." Then that creature eats the ground and it's all over, there's no hope when you're falling into jaws that big.

Oh, and then I remember that Johnny Depp made it out alive.

Going to go see these gentlemen sometime soon, I have more formulated but tonight isn't the night for that.

Said Dynamite (II)
So a quick follow up to that, my thoughts got a little muddled towards the end there, I had taken a benadryl and that stuff knocks me out like a flippin' child.

The point that I was trying to point at last night was that the renaming of the feed here was mainly to refocus or rebrand this project. I know I can wander quite a bit topic wise, but the initial point of all of this was political commentary. That's what gets my juices flowing, and is one of the few things anymore I feel is important enough to write about. Someone does have to write about it, otherwise our progeny might never know what a disaster 21st century American politics were.

Also, just to mock myself for just a moment, the real reason behind starting this blog in the first place was to experiment with a webisode style fiction project. Inspired by this but I actually can't even find the story I was reading at the time that inspired that crazy idea. I was reading it at work and I thought, "that's pretty cool I could do that." So then I tried to prove that and I think I had a total of like 3 or 4 submissions.

Just checked, 3 submissions total. It's still there if you ever want to wade through a sea of BS to see my original posts. 9/15/08, this blog is the longest on-again off-again relationship I've ever had. I did rebrand once before when I realized that I was never going to do webisodes and my only real ability was snarky commentary on current events.


That's John Stewart by the way.....and yes, that was the whole joke.

There was another webisode idea I had too, that one just died completely (I actually did finish Asylum that first project, but now it just sits around on my hard drive with a sad face). I used to have quite the feel for fiction but it's drifted away from me. Life has grown up around me and all the childish innocence that had me believe that pounding on a keyboard in adrenaline fueled binges would magically make money appear...that innocence is dead. I shot it in the head with my finger pistol and then I put on my fancy pants and tried to take my actual job seriously.

Which is neither here nor there.

Here is the bizarre reality that I live in here in 2013. I have come to the conclusion that no fantasy world I could concoct in my head could ever be as twisted as the world I live in. Begging for a sick burn, and that's really what it's about anyway. I am after all a victim of my culture. What makes sense to me is an ADHD barrage of social criticism that if you read it would just absolutely FORCE you to go out and vote Libertarian in 2016.

Or maybe I'll rebrand again next year, who the f*&^ knows.

Meanwhile how about some tunes? I'm really digging Queen lately so how about a song from a simpler time.

Said Dynamite

New from How to Destroy Angels, one of the pies Reznor is cooking.

Figured I would mention the source of the new blog title. I was reading a book recently, The World that Never Was, which is the story of the Paris Commune, or anyhow what the Paris Commune started, and how those very well-intentioned ideals were gradually twisted by the complacency of the international power culture. Eventually something that started off like a dream of being free essentially forged the railroad spike that was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which made mobile the fascist terror that plagued Europe throughout the 20th century.

Ironically then the dream of self-government turned into its own worst nightmare, simply because the general public wasn't willing to peacefully transition into anarchy, and so the young and impatient (basically the body of anarchism) took matter into their own hands, and the reaction bred was fascism. If anarchism had never become so violent there never would have been a reactionary movement, and the world might be an entirely different place right now.

Anyway, if you've never even heard of the Paris Commune of 1871 educate yourself. It's one of those things everyone should know about, like the Philippine-American War, but it seems to miss history books for some reason. Also, I wonder if back in 1932-33 there were a whole bunch of newspaper articles about "fascist spring" that had the whole world rooting for those crazy kids.

But yes, dynamite. Despite any negative associations attached to the acts or beliefs that would cause a man to blow himself strapped with explosives just a prove a point, the act exists, and there are enough people with that belief or act to have changed the world. Dynamite rebalanced the world. Now every small man can feel powerful, and every powerful man can feel afraid because nothing is certain when there are people blowing themselves up just because. Dynamite has done more to create social equality than hundreds of years of protests and bloody revolutions.

Wait, though, here's the twist.

The dynamite is all in your mind.

Think about it, men were always equal, the potential was always there, but rules were created from even prehistoric times that protected one class of man and abandoned another. When Alfred Nobel (by the way same Nobel to fund the Nobel Prizes which include the "Peace Prize") invented dynamite the world didn't change. The world simply remembered again how small it was. This same feeling was evoked again with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Seemingly it takes momentous destruction to create true empathy for fellow man.

So dynamite as a symbol is freedom, liberation and equality. This is why I think it was the rallying cry of the socialists and anarchists of the French Commune, because of what it stood for, the equality of man.

We still live in a time of incredible injustice and social imbalance, in some ways it seems like the world never changes. However that would be a lie.

The world does change, it's just changing slower than we are.



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