“It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now? Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
Allowing my last post to bleed into this one, here’s a quote by Howlin’ Wolf given in 1968, shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Somebody has been cashing checks and they’ve been bouncing back on us, and these people, the poor class of Negroes and the poor class of white people, they’re getting tired of it. And sooner or later it’s going to bring on a disease on this country, a disease that’s going to spring from midair and it’s going to be bad. It’s like a spirit from some dark valley, something that sprung up from the ocean…Like Lucifer is on the earth” (Gates, 2004).
At first I was not quite sure how I felt about the whole “Occupy Wall Street” movement and could certainly understand the frequent critique that they did not express a clear “message” nor provided direct, and comprehensive “solutions” to their myriad grievances. However, as I was discussing the topic recently with a good friend of mine, I realized that the message might truly be a simple “Shit is fucked up!” It might not be eloquent—or serve well as a slogan for a Shepard Fairey poster—but I believe that this is what it all boils down to…somewhere back there we made a wrong turn, and we all need to register that fact first before we carry on with finding the right way forward.
Sometimes, “solving problems is not good enough or even the point, when the hardest task is not to denounce evil, but to see it” (Marcus, 1975).
Some suck their teeth and deign to say, “Get a job!” Sure, but then what? Particularly when in the grand scheme of the here & now, regardless of what you might think of your position and the comforts it affords you, we are all essentially shoveling shit in some debtors’ prison to please some plantation warden whose name we never even caught, nor knew we were indentured to. We are on the cusp of 2012 and still we live in a world where there are divergent rules and regulations for a particular set of privileged individuals, while the remaining masses are relegated to a servant-class status at best; at worst are horrors too innumerable to begin to list here.
Several months ago, a Polish émigré who abandoned a career in L.A. and now lives as a masseuse/farmer in Costa Rica said to me (after divulging her admiration for Alex Jones) “C’mon guys, we are living in the future; we should be building cathedrals of music, not fighting stupid little wars all for somebody else’s wallet.” Next she advised me to “throw out your television,” something that I admittedly am not quite ready for, but I do believe she has a point; shouldn’t we be somewhere else by now, somewhere other than here?
V For Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Alan Moore, the man (along with David Lloyd) behind the mask that has been co-opted as a symbol for much of what these movements represent, recently gave an interesting interview to Honest Publishing (2011) in which he discusses the Occupy movement, and the fascinating idea of ideological change. I have posted some excerpts below:
Alan Moore [photo by Mitch Jenkins, 2010].
“As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re ‘too big to fail.’ I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way […].
“What do you think needs to change in our political system?
“Everything. I believe that what’s needed is a radical solution, by which I mean from the roots upwards. Our entire political thinking seems to me to be based upon medieval precepts. These things, they didn’t work particularly well five or six hundred years ago. Their slightly modified forms are not adequate at all for the rapidly changing territory of the 21st Century.
“We need to overhaul the way that we think about money, we need to overhaul the way that we think about who’s running the show. As an anarchist, I believe that power should be given to the people, to the people whose lives this is actually affecting. It’s no longer good enough to have a group of people who are controlling our destinies. The only reason they have the power is because they control the currency. They have no moral authority and, indeed, they show the opposite of moral authority.
“With politics at the moment seemingly determined to keep ploughing on their same destructive course because they can’t think of anything other to do, when we’re facing the possibility of an economic apocalypse, of potentially an environmental apocalypse, we don’t necessarily have an infinite amount of time. I think that since our leaders are not going to address any of these problems then we really have no choice than to attempt to wrest the steering wheel from them. If they’re aiming at the precipice with the accelerator pedal flat to the floor, then we don’t have any other choices left. Do it now, in this generation, because we don’t how many more there’s going to be.
“So something has to be done […]. I would suggest beheading the bankers, but while it would be very satisfying and would cheer us up, it probably wouldn’t do anything practical to alter the situation. Behead the currency. Change the currency, why not? It would disempower all the people who had bought into that currency but it would pretty much empower the rest of us, the other ninety-nine percent” (Honest Publishing, 2011).
I think at this point in time it is quite obvious that we need something new, something other. In an attempt to be clear as to where I position my ass in relation to the fence, I am not opposed to civil disobedience, and I am certainly not advocating that we find recourse in performing pagan rituals with menstrual blood and hallucinogens “on the endless expanse of a Nevada prehistoric lake bed” (Grigoriadis, 2006, p.90), but perhaps we need to occupy our heads with new ideas about what it is we think we are doing here, and just why we are doing it?
There is a tendency in society to firmly believe that what there is, is all there is, forever, and ever, amen; close the book, grit your teeth, and shrug your shoulders. However, a mere glance over those shoulders back into history reveals countless worlds firmly fixed within the confines of their supposed reality: realities that today we either reject wholesale, or vivisect for whatever bits we wish to cling to…and sometimes those realities only linger because they’re making someone money.
Our current financial system, now seemingly entrenched into even every little spasm of our synapses, appears to work exceptionally well. Unfortunately, it does so only for those who were designated heirs-apparent during the design phase of this system’s architecture. Whether this lineage is through actual bloodlines or more of an inheritance through mutual ethics (or lack thereof), for the rest of us it’s a mug’s game. We’ll never get ahead this way. If the game has been bought, sold, and won a long time ago, perhaps it is time we invented a new game? It’s either that or one day we’re going to kick the whole board over in a fit, and if that day comes you better take shelter.
Gimme Shelter By Cal Tjader—————Click To Listen
Like it? buy it.
Callen Radcliffe Tjader, Jr. a.k.a. Cal Tjader (July 16, 1925–May 5, 1982) was a vibes player who played with Dave Brubeck and in George Shearing’s quintet in the early fifties before forming his own group and going on to gain an international reputation for his distinctive musical style that encompassed Latin, jazz, and soul music (McClellan, 2004). Signing to Fantasy Records in 1971, Cal Tjader released Agua Dulce with its hypnotic rendition of The Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter.”
Arranged by Ed Bogas the song features: Cal Tjader, vibes; Rita Dowling, Moog Synthesizer; Micheal Smithe & Pete Escovedo, Congas; Coke Escovedo’ Timbales; and either Richard Berk or Lee Charlton, Drums.
To stay within the theme, here’s “Mr Guy Fawkes” performed by the Australian psychedelic rock group, The Dave Miller Set. Originally written by guitarist Mick Cox of the Irish group Eire Apparent (who opened for Jimi Hendrix’s America tour of ’68), Dave Miller remodeled the song to be his group’s single in 1969 (Kimbal). I love Dave Miller’s proto-Layne Staley vocals atop this orchestrated ballad with a boot-stomping backbeat.
“Mr Guy Fawkes”
by The Dave Miller Set: Dave Miller (vocals), John Robinson (guitar), Leith Corbett (bass), Mike McCormack (drums). Produced by Pat Aulton.
Although I’ve by no means reached a terminus to my thought processes on these matters, I remain firm in my belief that there is much more than just all this.
Cox, M. (1968). Mr. Guy Fawkes [recorded by The Dave Miller Set]. On Mr.Guy Fawkes (single). Spin Records. (1969)
Gates, D. (2004). Delta Force. The New York Times. Retrieved Dec. 22, 2011 from http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/13/books/delta-force.html
Grigoriadis, V. (2006, September 7). Daniel Pinchbeck and the new psychedelic elite. Rolling Stone, 1008, 89-90, 114-117.
Honest Publishing. (2011). The Honest Alan Moore Interview. Honest Publishing. Retrieved Dec. 23rd, 2011 from http://www.honestpublishing.com/news/the-honest-alan-moore-interview-part-2-the-occupy-movement-frank-miller-and-politics/
Jagger/Richards. (1969). Gimme Shelter [recorded by Cal Tjader]. On Agua Dulce [CD] Fantasy. (1971) BGP. (2011)
Kimbal, D. (n.d.) The Dave Miller Set, Sydney, 1967-1970, 1973. MILESAGO: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975. Retrieved Dec. 23rd, 2011 from http://www.milesago.com/artists/dms.htm
Lawrence, K. (2005). John Lennon: In His Own Words. Andrews McMeel Publishing.
McClellan, Jr., L. (2004). Tjader, Callen “Cal” (1925–1982). The Later Swing Era, 1942 to 1955. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 2004. 303. Retrieved Dec. 23rd, 2011 from Gale Virtual Reference Library at http://go.galegroup.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX2891100647&v=2.1&u=cuny_queens&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w
Marcus, G. (1975). Mystery train (4TH ed.). New York: Penguin.