Saturday, December 24, 2005

The System & The Condition of Post-Modernity

One well-known critic by the name of Mike Lwin had this to say about my recent blog post on God & BIBLE:

"I don't think God arose in human consciousness because people started to understand morality as a guiding force--rather, I believe that the concept of God was created as a coping mechanism for humans to deal with two things: One, to explain things in a prescience world they could not understand, and two, easing the finality of death with a promise of an afterlife. Morality wasn't taken into account until much later is "God"'s development, in my view. Additionally, how is the outcast so successful? What are you doing that is so much better than the system at hand? Furthermore, and this is what so many outcast-outsider-wanderers don't take into account--let's say you DO cause a revolution and overthrow the current system. What system do you implement, and how is this system going to be significantly better? The problem with any outsider discourse is that, while being intelligent and independent, its actual implementation may not exactly produce a better society (by all accounts, such "enlightened" outsider attempts have resulted in *poorer* ones), and in the end what you may visualize as implementing never gets implemented in actuality the way you imagined it. In other words, it's easy to talk about bringing down the system. It's another thing to actually do it, and it's a WHOLE other animal to actually make a better system. Whenever you deal with large masses of people, compromise is involved, which destroys the fundamental credo of the outsider philosophy. What is good for one is pretty much never good for all."

Well, I don't have many answers to the questions above, but I will start to address them herein. In this so-called post-modern civilization, we have many times attempted to overthrow the "system" that regulates our biological, social, and economic existence. Individuals and groups frequently become obsessed with the notion that they have the inertial capacity to combat the entirety of this all-encompassing system. Shall we view such audacity and hubris from a cynical perspective, believing that individuals cannot effect social change, or shall we embrace the optimistic and humanistic ideal of individual empowerment in the face of nearly omnipotent societal forces?"

Does the easy answer lie in submitting to the sacrosanct powers that govern our human universe? The combined might of god, government, and social convention (which establish hierarchical authority structures in order to control human behavior and regulate the ebb and flow of human irrationality) is indeed awesome. To go along with subjugation and allow ourselves to be controlled by the herd is certainly the path of least resistance. To exist as mediocre, average, and common is to place oneself no greater or no lesser than fellow human beings. Is this desirable?

Thursday, December 22, 2005


The following text is excerpted from an email written to my father upon arrival in New Orleans on October 29, 2005:

I'm not certain what to think about an enlightenment type of rationalism, which was always prevalent in american history (ie founding fathers and DEISM). I professed adherence to this sect in middle school when mr. clapp demanded to know what halloween costume i was wearing, and i replied philosopher and then proceeded to name which philosophies i followed. however, i experience a marked shift in my ideological bent after 7th grade, when i definitely grew cynical of the power of enlightenment rationalism, humanism, classicism, etc. Turning towards postmodernism, surrealism, existentialism was a response to the failure of pure rationalism in desribing the world and making sense of it.

So, i definitely have a problem with coldy scientific-rational atheism because it is rootless and ultimately unfulfilling. i'm currently reading thru this tikkun magazine to determine whether spiritual progressives are on the mark. i dont think faith is bad. i think faith is good for society, as long as its progressive, open, tolerant...i think it gets people into trouble when they push their system onto others and develop attitudes of spritual and ethical exclusivity. but in terms of the philosophy we want to push in the new BIBLE (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), i think we just need to go shopping to see whats out there intellectually. because utlimately we have to place our system in the spectrum somewhere. while its nice to feign neutrality, objectivity, pure rationality, atheism, etc, i think this is an ill-advised course, replete with spiritual alienation and disingenuous motives.

Human life is ulimately and profoundly self-regarding. we exist to propagate ourselves. as an extension of this, we seek to reproduce our intellectual systems by spreading our cultural moeurs and ideas. so we certainly do have a stake in it all, and theres no sense pretending we don't follow a god (god being either the guy in the sky, one's guiding principle of PI, or just the admission that we can't really figure out WHY). so while logical humanism, positivism, and all those beautiful western constructs are certainly a central part of our social and emotional universe, they're so full of incorrect assumptions about human nature, economics, world history, civilizations...regardless, GOD is just an excuse that gives people a justification for how they wish to act. in that way, i wish fundamentalists would just admit that they personally dont like black, Arab, or gay people, rather than pretending that their authority is based on some textual or holy precept that issues them the right to exert moral suasion...god just describes anyone's vision of a controlling identity/entity, the super mover and shaker, intelligent design, original energy, higher power...but in an everyday sense, it desribes SOCIETY and the SUPEREGO.

Saying that god does not want me to steal just means that my society has a law forbidding this. god arose in the human consciousness when people began to understand morality as a guiding force and the idea that maybe their past and present actions had an effect on the present and future. so essentially, i dont think you can eliminate the word GOD from the discourse. to do so would be myopic. it doesnt matter how much people talk about god if their morality and worldviews are progressive. it's just that fundamentalists have monopolized the discussion of god. its the same thing with regards to "values." in america, values connote this traditional sense of nostalgia for some mythical past in which the family, state, and society were so much better. when it comes to rational-humanist discourse, the vocabulary always comes down to the words pragmatic, practical, secular, etc...i think this hurts the discourse because leftists and progressive try so hard to be objective, practical, idealistc.

But the truth is, leftists are pushing values too, they believes in a certain code and have a specific vision for human society. this is wholly subjective and a function of cultural, psychological, and personal background. i think we have to be partisan in this discourse. and not exclusive, hardheaded, arrogant like the traditional leftist-secular-atheistic-rational discourse. the leftist-secular-atheistic-rational creed implies a GOD no less than any other creed. it's just that this GOD is certainly contained in us all, since in the lockean-jeffersonian code (derived from a blend of renaissance neoclassical philosophy and protestant theology,) we are all created equal with the same ability to reason. so in our new BIBLE, our god might instead be some type of earth-shattering and novel conception. i think its just being honest to say that one's outlook, motivation, sense of purpose, equivalent to god. god is internal, external, everywhere. dont bother excluding god. its not only a waste of effort, but its embracing a different lie. while that lie isnt as blatant as the religious-fundamentalist-originalist lie, its a lie nonetheless. atheists just have a different god. they worship (among other things) civic duty, science, western culture, neoprimitive culture, etc. god is just a way of naming what is considered most important in life. if YOU believe that a viable, progressive code of ethics, personal happiness, and future generations are the most important things to you, then this is your god...that god happens to be more individualistc, compassionate, progressive, etc than the typical western-christian god, but this is nonetheless a god.

The fact that 90% of americans believe in god just means that 90% of americans enjoy being part of the herd. its just a group mentality. despite all the dispossession, spiritual dearth, and cultural alienation of modern life, people like to feel that theyre a part of something greater than themselves...and this manifests itself in a romanticized conception of the past (family, morality, country) and this has been monopolized by the religious right. americans are so outwardly religious because they are so overworked, brainwashed, burnt out that they must desperately proclaim faith in something in order to die knowing that they lived for some greater good. i read a great article a while back saying that bush won because people are way too overworked and that people wish they had more free they dont have enough time to think thru the issues and they vote for a simpler, manichean, binary candidate who addresses their spiritual needs. thats the republican way. brainwash people so they can all be your corporate slaves then in the little free time they have, make sure they worship the god of free markets and god of white christianity a little bit more and then they can die happy.

The western corporate-governmental-bureaucratic-media-entertainement-legal-medical-scientific-intellectual power structure has gotten so much more exponentially powerful every single year for the past 100 years, especially in america, that people have no choice but to turn to the irrational, the faith-based, and the frankly stupid answer because it comforts them. and which side of this power structure are we on? do we side with the corporate-governmental-bureaucratic-media-entertainement-legal-medical-scientific-technological-intellectual elite? i think its comforting to identify with the dominant culture because it involves the path of least resistance. however, we both certainly have innate tendencies to resist this conformity. yet, insurrectionary intentions are not rewarded in our system. i tend to give credit to people who are individuals and can resist this power structure. i believe that this is what makes people unique, when their energies, creativies, imaginiations, can resist the allure of our oppressive social order. even if there cannot be a revolution at this point, there are little ways in which all of us can be progressive, compassionate, unique. i just fear that i will ultimately succumb to this power structure because it is indeed a mammoth. in my capacity as intellectual-journalist-activist-artist-social scientist-humanist-existentialist-postmodernist, the behemoth SUPEREGO is my enemy. my freudian ID does not appreciate the absolutist-totalitarian controls that the MAN imposes. but, the truth is, the only way to understand, then critique, and then vilify the SYSTEM is to get inside of it...

And the only way to get inside is to be a part of it. so my answer is to be simultaneously inside and outside. Is my perspective useful to the system in that its criticisms are constructive and can be used merely to strengthen the systemic controls over ordinary people? Or is my perspective parasitic in the sense that it attacks intellectually the source of its own material, social, and cultural heritage? perhaps this is eternally the role of the outcast-outsider-wanderer who is simultaneously so successful at beating the system, being the system, and bringing down the system.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hood House Holdings, LLP

If y'all didn't already know, Gabe Nelson and I are highly interested in undertaking a business venture called Hood House Holdings, which would invest in a blighted block somewhere deep in the hood. Our goal is first to identify a place so immersed in blight that other real estate sharks have not beat us to the punch. It's very important to get a good value on a purchase. Thus, we would like to avoid locations where demand for hood houses is already elevated. In addition to having deep hood status, it would be optimal for the location to be near somewhat commerical amenities and also in proximity to some sort of green space.

Second, upon identifying our block of interest, the next task is project financing. We intend to keep the city abreast of our plans, but we are not certain if we could cut a deal with the city for a whole block of abandoned, city-owned property. Either way, we would be shopping around to banks for a competitive loan for our Hood House Holdings venture. It's a shame that interest rates have gone up several percentage points on commerical loans in the past two years. It's not quite as cheap these days as it was when interest rates bottomed out. Regardless, other sharks face the same market pressures, as the money supply is tightened and less projects in general seek financing.

Third, after ascertaining a solid plan for financing this venture, the perfect opportunity would arise to design a block-long hood house with amenities never before seen in an American hood. Upon assembling a team of certified Hopkins engineers, the house would get severely tricked out. I suppose the security system would first need to be tweaked, since such a feature would prevent future loss of goods from the Hood House. The exterior of the dwelling would get tagged up by our team of graf artists, and we would commission the city's gayest landscape designers to spruce up the sidewalk and generally spruce up the Hood House. Internally, we would definitely require some rather serious renovations to the existing property. Hipsterites and like-minded folk would be promised a spot in the dwelling complex if they agreed to participate in the project.

Overall, the general concepts have been described for our plan to enter into a serious process of Hood renewal. We are interested in this mission to create an oasis of different culture in the otherwise-blighted Hood. Moreover, it'll be an affordable place to live and a solid real estate investment. In our process of detournement, we seek to extend the Situationist ideal to the hood. Spontaneous injection of postmodern attitudes and contrarian sensibilities into the Hood will be a way to address the outrageous separation that characterizes our divided society. We aim to counter the trend of gentrification with our brand of residential and commerical life, which not only respects Hood hospitality but actually integrates the finest aspects of Hood life into the fabric of our venture. We extol certain aspects/virtues of hood culture and seek to live on the fringe of bourgeois society, forming a link between the outcasts of the Hood and the card-carrying bourgeoisie.

Hood House Holdings is gettin' busy. Watch out now, we're bringing the whole crew in for Situationist instigation and exaltation.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

musical genius

Here are 3 musical geniuses who are blowing UP. Cop their shit, the block is hot, tell P we ready!

Scullin already registered a blogospheric comment about Spankrock yet I need to add that Naeem got soul. Just had a few vinyl tracks released on Big Dada, but look for the LP comin' soon.

J-Ro 3000 cooks up mean beats, and word on the street is that the man will be hittin' the studios again with pen, pad, and peroxide. This harmonic sleuth lays down tracks like Three 6 Mafia lays down the law-breaking.

Sir Anand Wilder likes his brew brothy and his broads, well, uhh, broad-minded. His folk-soul Coal Miner Musical is set to hit stores some time in December '07 if Anand ever comes back from the Motherland.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Baltimore Club Music: Suburbs to the Tenement

Going to Mo's was like visiting a tenement party, sweaty, filthy, lewd as a LowerEastSide tenement project circa 1920. Mo's was the holy land. Mo's was our own private Garden of Eden, located northeast of White Marsh and its lovely avenue. It was everything and all things that we could ever have dreamt of.

A shrine to the sanctity of primeval enchantments, lasciviousness, and driving percussion that turn young human beings dancing machines. The music is of proletarian origins, that B-more Club sound. It dates back to "Doo Doo Brown" and "The Perculator" and has most recently derived most of its musical influences from motown and contemporary hip-hop tastes. The B-More Club DJs exhibit fervent devotion to the Supremes, the Marvalettes, and (Lil' Jon &) the East Side Boyz. Guys and girls grinding their gizmos together, all the while frollicking about to a throbbing backbeat and kick drums that propel your inner rhythm towards percussive paradise. . .

Mo's was an escape from the confines of day-to-day anti-Mo life. The concept of Mo's, was for us, something that allowed savage displays of pelvis-to-pelvis art. B-More club music was the enabler.

Here's an article I wrote for the Baltimore Sun when I did news reporting in Baltimore County over the summer of 2002. This was the summer of White Trash Anthem and lots of Mo's recollecting. My middle-aged, bland editors did not agree to publish my story on B-More Club. They were too square. The Sun did not actually end up reporting on B-More club for another 3 years, when two halfway decent articles by guys who had clearly never actually lived the B-More Club experience got on the cover of the Sunday Arts & Society section. August 21, 2005, was the first time that the Sun allowed B-More club tales to grace its pages - three years, two weeks, and one day after I initially submitted my B-More club story. The version below is the first version of the story that I pushed to my editors. I made considerable changes to the piece three days later, on August 9, 2002, but the final version disappeared in the vast Sun story database, never to be found again.

Hooray Hooray to B-more Club! I'm planning a 20th Anniversary bash for B-More Club to be held June 14th, 2007. It'll be magnificent circus of Mo's memories and funky number sixty-nines.

Anyway, here's the text of my feature on B-More Club. Good night from the suburbs. Good morning to the tenements.

Shawn Caesar nonchalantly picks up the phone at his cluttered desk to call DJ Spice, one of many DJs signed with Unruly Productions. Shawn informs the affable DJ about an upcoming soiree at Club Choices, where club music will be the primary mode of entertainment. For these promoters, club music is a way of life.
Club music is an ill-defined term for a very Baltimore genre of music. Resoundingly percussive and primordial in spirirt, club music drives the nighttime scene in many Baltimore-area clubs. As an art form native to Baltimore, many locals see the quirky jams as cause for intense local pride.
"It's mesmerizing, the energy that it makes people exert is unbelievable," said DJ Spice, an Annapolis native who has played at most Baltimore-area nightclubs.
An American urban underground culture that has not been tarnished by the grip of international music conglomerates, club music has hundreds of thousands of listeners, according to Pork Chop, director of Club Queen Entertainment, Unrulys biggest competitor in the club music business.
When in Baltimore, the phrase club music does not just mean any type of music played in a club. It denotes Baltimore's unique form of house music. Basic, repetitive drum beats mixed with idiosyncratic sounds combine elements of the Golden Age of DCs go-go with Miami's bass music and Chicago's trax. DJs often sample popular rap songs by the likes of DMX and Ludacris. Also, the unusual breakbeat construction with 4-4 analog kick drums facilitates dancing in a "sexually provocative way," according to Pork Chop.
"If any other city tried to make this sound, we would know where they got it from," chuckled Pork Chop, who added that expansion into other East Coast cities is on the horizon for club music.
The most popular club music compilations are released by DJ Rod Lee, DJ Reggie Reg, K-Swift, and DJ Quicksilva, although these artists do not always produce the music.
"Rod Lee has recently become the pre-eminent creator of club music's signature Baltimore sound," said Shawn Caesar, Unruly's owner.
In the past, DJs relied on an Ensoniq sampling machine called the ASR 10 to compose club music. However, with the advent of convenient computer software, the creation process has become much simpler.
Many DJs borrow from the immense pool of existing club tracks when putting together albums or spinning at clubs. Thus, the licensing of club music tends to be ambiguous, according to DJ Spice.
Some critics assert that the music lacks aesthetic beauty and possesses solely entertainment value. DJ Spice answers that club music just provides a rhythm to let people shake their bodies.
"Men and women between the ages of 15 and 30 listen most to club music. I like the beat, it gets everyone dancing," said Kia Willis, a 21 year-old from East Baltimore who enjoys club music on Sundays at Hammerjacks. Kia believes that club music is the only way to excite a crowd of her peers.
Though the market for club music is predominantly black, white suburban kids are catching on, especially on the east side of Baltimore County. DJ Spice, who is white, estimated that half of all club music listeners in the Baltimore metro area are white.
"Its got huge crossover appeal," said DJ Spice of club music's ability to transcend racial boundaries.
Distribution of club music takes many forms, yet the most lucrative is through record sales, said Shawn Caesar, whose Unruly Productions has formed a marketing partnership with Downtown Locker Room. Club music also sells at Inner City Records, Metro II, and Sam Goody's.
"Club music gets its most exposure to the public through radio and clubs," said Caesar.
Club jams can be heard blaring out of soundsystems during rush hour Baltimore traffic, when 92.3 W-ERQ airs the hottest new tracks.
The new X-105.7 also has caught on with club music, with DJ Spice and DJ Quicksilva playing club music several nights per week.
"Two of my favorite recent club mixes sample oldies Ding-a-ling (from the Chuck Berry song) and Mr. Postman (from the Supremes song)," said DJ Spice. Another that has been popular is Latin Groove, which highlights an eccentric Brazilian samba sample.
In clubs, the music enables freaking, in which male dancers grind their pelvic regions into the posterior sections of females to the rhythmic bass sound. "The dancing allows for individualized style and improvisation," said DJ Spice, who has played at most Baltimore clubs, including Mo's Deep Six, Generation Xtremes, and Hammerjacks.
The infamously violent Tunnel night club on Eutaw St. is another place where club music defines the atmosphere.
Pork Chop, Club Queen's 29 year-old director who has lived club music since its genesis, said that the genre was incipient around 1987 in Baltimore clubs. He explains that the hypnotic, nocturnal music gradually rose from an experimental fad to a permanent and central aspect of Baltimore's musical landscape.
However, many promoters contend that club music has prevented a rap scene from establishing a solid foothold in Baltimore. DJ Spice said that virtually no nationally famous rappers have emerged because, rather than staging hip-hop shows in clubs, Baltimoreans prefer club music that they can dance to. Thus, though infectious and often witty, the audio-visceral club music competes for popularity with local underground hip-hop, suggested DJ Spice.
Nevertheless, the optimistic DJ is certain that club music has yet to reach its potential.
"In five years, Baltimore club music will be a format of music recognized in the mainstream. It will keep spreading like wildfire," said DJ Spice.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Persian Weblogistan

I just read in this month's Wired magazine that Farsi (the predominant language of Iran) is the fourth most widely used language in blogs. Anonymous, tech-savvy Iranians vent about the oppressive theocracy in cyberspace. For all of you with Persian aversions, that should assuage your deepest-rooted fears about the malice of the Iranian populace. The government in control of Iran is clearly in bed with a backward class of religious zealots even more than Dubya's faithful caste lives off Pat Robertson's grundel sweat. Regardless of how much I vent about our president, he's certainly leagues better than Ahmadinejad.

Iran is ruled by a scary, fundamentalist crew of primitive ideologues. However, the strength of the current government followed a coup to overthrow a rather dictatorial pro-American shah, who himself wallowed in the legacy of an American-lead coup in 1953 that actually deposed a democratic regime. The CIA, in the interest of American big business, has lulled America into lots of situations where our Presidents (both Democratic and Republican) have authorized overthrowing demcratically-elected governments. Iran, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile...We don't fully support democracy! Surprise, surprise. We are merely in favor of relatively republican and Westernized regimes that allow American corporations to run amok. I guess that makes Dubya disingenuous.

Tickle my e-spot! The Weblogistan doesn't fib! So, what to do about these two maniacs in power? Bush and Ahmadinejad would probably enjoy a good spar (and I think the cowboy would win, in'ch-allah). Most of the rest of the world doesn't want a war because Iran is a big seller of petroleum and a relatively significant consumer of weapons. Looks like the US, EU, and Zion have a problem on their hands.

Too bad for Ahmadinejad, the Germans, Austrians, Canadians, and Americans didn't want the Jews setting up shop in the West. So, the West gradually has lent approval to the Israeli mission of establishing a stable, Western society in the midst of the Arab and Muslim sea. Frankly, I don't much approve of any of these race-baiting, Bible/Torah/Koran-toting zealots. Disarm Ayatollah Bush and his mullahs. The redneck Republicans are a bunch of mujaheedins, and I'm not interested in fighting their holy war. The universe's higher power clearly does not support any of these entity's against another. I wish people would just start being honest about their feelings. Instead of an Islamist saying "Allah does not will for the Zionists to control Palestine," can't he just say "Fuck Israel, I support Palestine." And rather than Rick Santorum talking about whether God hates fags, why doesn't he just admit that he personally doesn't like fags. Everyone could save a lot of time by removing the code word "God" from the equation. God doesn't care if Iran gets nuked to New Orleans or if the American empire declines and then dies.

It's at least amusing political drama to watch these comics throw around slogans about good and evil. When nuclear exchange becomes an Olympic sport, I'll be watching from the Weblogistan.

Ayatollah Ibn ben-Bloggah signin' off, B-more stays on top!

America's Next Top Ford Model: Andrew Lebson

Ford Model
I had to say it. Andrew Lebson is my hero. After implementing an exercise and diet regimen that slashed upwards of 25 kilos from his frame, this Baltimore native is blowing up in a different way. Having signed with the elite Ford Agency, Andrew continues his ascent to the top of the game.

Lebby, as we so affectionately called him in the halls of Gilman, is a professional trainer and certified hot body. He has also starred in a few episodes of The Post Show, baring his irresistable chest on multiple occasions. New Yorkers (even residents of East Williamsburg where Andrew lives) routinely stop the dashing young man of Mediterranean complexion and request at least a polaroid. Evidently, three teeny boppers in midtown spontaneously disrobed upon entering the stunning Lebson's presence. Even Gilman graduate/Towson bar patron Aaron Nocar lauds Lebson for turning his life around: "How the hell did that fat ass become this?"

After two years of rigorous sun-bathing on the Gulf Coast at the University of Tampa, Lebson primed himself for a life of runway-strutting and Tommy Hilfiger photo ops. His girlfriend of almost four years, Taylor, declared her utmost and eternal love for her brawny sextoy just days after he was signed by Ford. Andrew and Taylor share many of the same ideas about weight and beauty, having met several summers ago while mentoring obese New Jersey youngsters at a pricey Northeastern fat camp for lazy suburbanite children. As recovering horizontal challengees, the two plan on starring in several feature length films directed by Lebson himself about obesity and self-image. Eventually, they plan on starting up a camp of their own, on the shores of the Caribbean, says Lebson, who adds, "I've realized my life-goals, dude. I really am a model for fat kids in the sense that I'm a Ford stud and that those camp kids admire me for keeping those pounds off."

We're all so proud of you, Andrew! Keep up the strutting, and make sure you get Ford to post a prettier picture of you next time. There have been some mumblings on the internets about your low quality pose. Oh, I know das right!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stop Snitchin

Ok, I think by now everyone is familiar with the Stop Snitching enterprise. I jumped on the Stop Snitching bandwagon last spring, with a purchase of the DVD on the internets. For months, I basked in the glory of the street motto, throwing around the hoodrat banter because it's catchy and rebellious. To revel in the popularity of Stop Snitching is to identify with the "street" - a lifestyle, mindset, and society that exists outside the bounds of white-dominated, middle-class, standard law and order civilization. Hip-hop derives its credibility from its subversive ability to mock a set of bland bourgeois values in favor of a flashy, rhythmic, and unruly culture.

However, it is a mistake to suggest that the Stop Snitching creed typifies all of hip-hop culture. This creed is undoubtedly highly pervasive in a large segment of the population that identifies with hip-hop. Yet, at some point, the line between foul, gangland violence and stylized urban garb becomes blurry. Does donning the Stop Snitching uniform imply that one embraces witness intimidation at its ugliest?

Currently, three Bloods are standing trial in Baltimore for firebombing a snitch's house. This sinful snitch happens to be the Harwood Community Association President, Edna McAbier. After years of watching thugs take over her neighborhood, McAbier began contacting the police more and more. Because she threatened the turf and thus profits of neighborhood dealers, Snitch McAbier got Molotovs launched at her crib. Does the Stop Snitching credo truly intend to silence innocent civilians on the sidelines of the drug war? Or ought it apply only to those who are part of the game?

It seems to me that some mafias respect their community fabric to the extent that no elderly lady would ever need to rat them out. However, so much gang violence in American cities has reached the point where ferocious kingpins or even minor wankstas feel menaced by geriatric neighborhood residents. Where's the justice? Stop snitching, both in video and t-shirt formats, is filled with humor and cultural nuance. However, the witness intimidation problem has become too severe to condone the whole phenom. On the one hand, I seek to extol the virtues of a rebellious subculture. On the other, I realize that too many people suffer unnecessarily when thugs tip the scales of justice in their favor.

This is not to say that I wholly empathize with urban law enforcement. I am adamantly opposed to the drug war for so many reasons. I think the so-called war on drugs is misguided, ridiculous, and inappropriate. So, perhaps law enforcement has pushed drug dealers to resort to such vile tactics. The police, in many instances, are equally a band of street thugs. I resent the tactics of both the legally-sanctioned enforcers and the illegal street soldiers. Neither side is willing to step down at this point. And, consequently, we all lose! Innocent lives are lost in the hood due to gun clapping and all manner of street antics. The civil liberties of young men are compromised across the country because law enforcement seeks to weed out the gangstas among us. Drug addicts are prevented from attaining optimal health because we have criminalized their medical problems. Law enforcement funds and other public resources are squandered on an endless battle to up the violence ante and to shower us with government propaganda.

The time has come to halt both the government gangs and the street gangs, for both are complicit in an undying war. With steady demand for hard drugs, the supply will always be available from somewhere. Regardless of how many open-air drug markets are shut down or how many drug dealers are locked up, the scourge of drug addiction will remain. The link between violent crime and psychological/medical deviance must be severed. Addiction is a medical problem, and violent crime is only necessary because dealers seek to protect their territory.

George W. Bush, come out of your rock house and tell your federal boys to start selling rock on the block. Put the dealers out of business by undercutting them - with your treatment centers dotting every major city in the country. Too many people have a vested interest in this game. Too many people have too much pride to snitch and too much idiocy to change.

I'm not sure what percentage of urban GDP is illicit drug sales. The jobs provided by this industry are indeed sought after. Profits can be enormous, but death or incarceration is virtually certain. Talented young men are lost to the drug trade when they could be excelling in other more healthy pursuits. Resources should be poured into shifting dealers into legitimate employment. In any event, jails are a short-term solution for a society that has no regard for long-term consequences. Jails provide us with tougher and tougher thugs.

Law enforcement needs to put down its big guns, too. The whole law enforcement industry (corrections, local police, DEA, FBI) has a vested interest in maintaining the current level of funding and support for the drug war. Many in this community derive profit from this sinister process. The pigs need to cooperate with the dealers and save the lives of innocent bystanders. And, the dealers cannot enforce the Stop Snitching code on those who remain outside the game, who have not agreed to abide by the street contract. Either way, drugs will eventually be taken out of the street game and pushed by medical staff in scrubs. And, I suppose, the thugs in their long white tees will ultimately find other poisons to push, once this urban pharmaceutical hustle dries up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The 'Nolia

Some of America's worst living conditions were present in erstwhile New Orleans. The Magnolia Housing Projects, once home to Master P and Juvenile, are currently inhabitated only by vagrants and a few of those rendered homeless by Katrina. A terroristic feeling pervades this nasty low-rise public residential complex, which saw some of the highest concentrations 0f poverty, addiction, and violent crime.

I don't think it would be a particularly stellar idea to relocate the Magnolia residents en masse to a single locale. Maintaining a high density of gangstas, winos, and elderly would not lead to any increase in quality of life, even if the physical space were more sterile and fresh. 3rd World conditions, as they existed in many pockets of New Orleans, are fun to rep if you're trying to be tough, but they're certainly not fun to be subjected to. The NOPD, a notoriously corrupt and inept law enforcement institution, was certainly always perceived as an imperial foe uninterested in amerliorating the conditions of the natives, who lacked economic and political capital.

The hard-scrabble ghetto life of the 'Nolia produced culture, an ethos born of tremendous anguish and unending peril. The reason why Juvenile put "my trust in my 9 and myself first" is not that he thought guns were amusing. Dog-eat-dog values ensure survival in the projects, with access to financial and reproductive always insecure. I'm not going to pretend that I understand the extent of life's bounty or lack thereof in the hood. However, as an interested observer and experientialist, I would say that the hood produces culture because it's on the edge of Western civilization and it challenges the typically accepted nature of Western life. Doing away with the hood and assimilating the ghetto to middle-class Western society would most likely make us all safer (current hood residents most notably). But, ghetto communities, despite their defects, do usually have a redeemable social and cultural fabric that we destory with every extra step the giant of gentrification takes, whether in New Orleans, the Lower East Side, or West Baltimore.

Twisted Sister!

Below I have posted some pictures from my trip to New Orleans with a few explanations. During a 3-week stint with the American Red Cross, I experienced the fragility of human civilization. The massive amount of destruction, coupled with the bizarre mix of forces already present at the mouth of the Mississippi, ensured that my adventures were fraught with both awe and calamity. In line with our organization's purpose, our supply distribution mission across the city provided victims with short term aid.

Luckily, I had sufficient time to explore my various fascinations with the Cajun homeland, the Magnolia projects, and Vietnamese shrimp boats. Though 34 years of solid waste need to be removed from the city of New Orleans, within a few years' time, the city will be greener, safer, and richer than before the disaster. Vast numbers of poor, black residents have already been dispersed to other urban areas where such folk are ostensibly welcome. The newly gentrified city will be more accomodating to tourists and less of a gansta-town. However, the city will most certainly not be host to American musical innovation, as during the inception of blues, zydeco, jazz, and southern hip-hop. Thus, street edge will be exchanged for a more sterile urban geography of French colonial charm and Cajun eateries, mixed in with seedy Bourbon St. bars and some authentic locales.

New Orleans is situated in a largely impoverished, uneducated, and ignorant region of the United States. Perhaps dispersing the poor and indigent is a way of giving them access to more resources. Hopefully, federal money rejuventates the region in a way that incorporates local traditions and communities. Nevertheless, the future of New Orleans will be more spectacle and less real. More to come on the spectacular Magnolia Projects!

Stoop to the sky.

Typical scene of destruction. Merciless flood waters toppled homes, destroying many that were not covered by flood insurance.

New Orleans is under a state of emergency. Louisiana Army National Guard patrols through the devastated and depopulated Lower Ninth Ward encountered relatively no danger relative to their comrades' patrols through the chaotic streets of the Sunni Triangle. Local gangs and other enemies of American imperial law and order will most likely never return to this neighborhood, as the city will probably turn the wrecked area into green space that will be able to absorb flood waters in future hurricanes.

The aftermath of the hurricane was incredibly racialized. White political pundits often lambasted black looters for seeking to obtain items necessary for survival. FEMA was incredibly slow to respond to the disaster, and huge numbers of people suffered for days in horrid conditions. Indubitably, certain individuals looted luxury goods from stores and homes, but most seem to have been acting on survivalist instincts.

Even residents of multi-million dollar homes on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi keep stores of ammo. The 2nd Amendment exists so we can all be equal as citizen-soldiers?

ya mama got nice box

Does our legal system entitle hurricane victims just compensation for the failure of local and federal government officials to protect their homes and lives?

Religious allegory on the side of a church in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, one of the most crime-ridden and desolate places in the United States prior to Hurricane Katrina. The area is currently an uninhabitable wasteland, having been inundated by waters surging in through busted levees at more than 150 mph on the east side of the Industrial Canal.

This humanoid was once Donald Rumsfeld's personal assistant. Watch out for those shape-shifters!

As a budding anthropologist, I felt compelled to break the Red Cross ban on client photo ops, and snap a pic of a local resident with a truly shrunken head. Ripley's Believe It or Not already notified me that they are willing to purchase this specimen.

You are what you eat, especially in the dirty dirty.

Blog me silly

Greetings everyone! I have now decided to initiate a blogline that investigates various reptilian shapeshifter bloodlines. Though my b-spot won't be stimulated solely by such inquiries into such conspiracy theories, wild pseudo-scientific rant could pepper these pages. As Ben Blog-ill, I intend to give the world at least as much dictator chic as my North Korean namesake.

Because I harbor lots of skepticism, my ideas may sometimes appear outrageous. I try to keep my steez pragmatic most of the time, but this b-spot is all about capturing cultural angles, exposing presidential sexcapades, and escalating all manner of e-lationships. I won't pretend that the internets constitute a higher reality. However, my e-scribbles aim to provide psycho-social insight and to engender discussions of progressive, avant-garde things. Blog me or blog me not, I will stay spontaneous, while attempting to uphold proper e-tiquette. I loathe blogs that limit their scope to lengthy, monotonous monologues, so I'm trying to start up a multilateral inter-blog approach in this google-owned, citizen-regulated forum. Please subvert me if you so desire, and I will make sure to stay on point with it.

It's 2005, and I'm gainfully unemployed. I am using this here blogline as an outlet for creative ideas, photos, and stories. Let's think of this whole operation as one giant system of blog camps so we can all be saved in life after death up there in blog heaven. Scribe me your comments in any format, code, or tongue. Either Ben Blog-ill or Whodisan215, my alter ego, will respond in due time with due blog process. Keep it blog-ill!
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