Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Robot Lifeguard Electrocuted Everyone

Here's the deal. The above is a four-color, hand-carved, linoleum print. Todd made 25 of them for what we shall call the FIRST RUN (note the numbers in the corner). Limited edition and all that. We'll do more should demand supply it, but that would be what collectors call a SECOND run. As you see I've done with this first one, I will write out the entire story by hand...huff, puff...on each one.
If you would like one, that'll be $75 which includes shipping and handling.
We also have a few two-color artist proofs, and you can have one of those for $40.
You want a t-shirt? OK....$25.
Shipping and handling included in those last two.
E-mail me at david dot dark at vanderbilt dot edu and I'll give you the mailing address for your check or money order.
Thanks everyone.
UPDATE: My goodness, you kind people are quick on the draw. One specification on the t-shirt, it'll be a pre-loved/pre-washed shirt so as to better accommodate the iron-on. We'll also sign it w/ a sharpie (unless you don't want us to).
Thanks again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Write It Down!

I was talking to an older, cooler guy about Talk Talk one time. I was in my twenties. I knew the “It’s My Life” single from having held tightly to whatever MTV offered me in my early teens, but I didn’t know how to respond when he spoke of Spirit of Eden as a work anyone who knew anything about music would revere. Needless to say, I got on board at the first available opportunity (found it used) and felt relief when I discovered it was something I could listen to with pleasure. I’m really getting into it! I probably exclaimed the next time I saw him. There wasn’t much in the way of decipherable lyrics, but it got through to me, deepened my take on all sorts of things—however it is these things work—and opened me up to receiving all manner of weirdness even when, perhaps especially when, I couldn’t quite say what all I thought it was saying. It helped me to not have to actually.
I’m in Talk Talk territory again with Aaron Roche’s Plainspeak. Plenty of songs with lyrics though. Lyrics which deepen, rather than halt, the get-fresh flow. What we’re getting, Plainspeak says to me anyway, is what we’re seeing (and vice-versa). There’s a liturgical groove going on, but liturgical in the sense that it’s the work to be done by the people, the work the music does even as it urges us to keep doing it. “Write it down!” is the most ecstatic vocal moment (on “Fiction”) and it comes to us as a kind of poetic-prophetic summons. Take the raw data of your experience, what you’re seeing, and deploy it creatively, creatively and therefore redemptively. This is the work there is to do. Get busy.
And with this sensibility concerning the earthbound “What we have is who we are to each other right about now” fact of the matter, there’s also a sad lamentation that is nevertheless strangely sweet. No more big deals or big splashes. Just people. Unless what we mean by big is the very good news of a few people getting through to each other, taking the edge off, the rare event of someone listening to someone else. It’s “A Weaker Vision” I’m talking about: “Fell the tree of the punk poetic….Someone important isn’t listening/We’re all the same around here.” And I haven’t even said anything about Tim Hinck’s wind and string arrangements yet, because I don’t know how to. It enriches. All of it. And it signals a different way of looking at each other and thinking about ourselves. I suppose this is what I’m looking for whenever I tune in to anything at all.
There’s so much more to say, and I might have put it out of order. Aaron’s in New York City now with his genius partner Whitni, but they remain part of a Nashville-ish collective I’ll always associate with Nathan Phillips of the Winston Jazz Routine & Choir at Your Door, Julie Lee, Action!, and—if I can take a deep breath and feel this cool—Sarah and myself. I now direct everyone who still participates in musical culture by performing the cultivating work of buying music to do so with Aaron's. And for those nearer (but not necessarily dearer) in the driving distance sense, let it be known that Aaron’s bringing the Plainspeak to Downtown Pres. this Sunday night at 7 in the pm. It will mightily rock. We know it will. Insert souls there.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

It's Complicated

"We must break our dependency upon foreign turmoil," announces one S. Colbert (thank you, Adam Ellis).
Sometimes a joke is the only way to break into a conversation (thank you, Kurt Vonnegut).
It's complicated, so complicated, and I don't know exactly what I'd do right now if I was a famous gov't employee whose job appears to require what is sometimes referred to as diplomatic posture, the skill of awaiting the right moment to speak and act decisively as nonviolent witnesses to the hope of peace, love, and understanding are imprisoned, beaten, and killed. But because this job isn't my job and because my mind keeps going back to Peter Gabriel's 1982 song, "Wallflower" ("I will do what I can do"), I've undertaken a couple of embarrassingly uncostly efforts in bearing witness. I held a sign with a few dozen Egyptians and their children yesterday. And I hereby post the up-to-the-minute latest from a very articulate, on-location blogger called Sandmonkey. As I write this, his blog remains suspended following his arrest, but he's been tweeting again and promises to return to his interrupted story soon. A recent recorded interview with the man is available here. Presuming an interest in the civil rights of human beings animates us (That's Brand America, right?) and we're moved by the politics of nonviolent engagement undertaken most famously by Jesus of Nazareth, I reckon the least we can do is pay attention. Here's Sandmonkey...

I don't know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one's friend house to another friend's house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.

It didn't start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.

That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn't go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.

Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what's right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn't believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak's departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime's ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn't nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.

Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because "we got what we wanted" and "we need the country to start working again". People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it's time for Unity under Mubarak's rule right now.

To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn't caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren't the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn't enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it's not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.

Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.

You watched on TV as "Pro-Mubarak Protesters" – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID's on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn't give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it's the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.

Now, just in case this isn't clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it's one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won't say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay "because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people". This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can't allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn't over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak's gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.