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A Romance By The Wings Of Icarus April 25, 2011

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“As the flame of the candle stands still in the biting air, and the silhouettes of a broken man crash to the floor, he rues the day he flew too close to the sun, recalling her smile, as his wings melted and he descended to the depths below. She had spoken of things all too impossible for hearts to behold. Her beauty beckoning his soul, defenseless he fell enamored by her intoxicating charm. She had spoken of things, which he began to believe. This was not supposed to be, screamed the temptress. Empathy being her only vice she constructed a heart shaped tomb, there she swore she would lie and perish, with his wings charred and the pieces of his heart lying in ruins on the floor. She had spoken of things all too impossible for hearts to behold.
He dreams of a day when the candle would begin to flicker in the cold night air, perhaps then he would fly again. He will fly again…”

For the mental. October 20, 2010

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Excerpt from The End Of Faith, by Sam Harris – Chapter One, pages 11 and 12

The young man boards the bus as it leaves the terminal. He wears an overcoat. Beneath his overcoat, he is wearing a bomb. His pockets are filled with nails, ball bearings, and rat poison.

The bus is crowded and headed for the heart of the city. The young man takes his seat beside a middle-aged couple. He will wait for the bus to reach its next stop. The couple at his side appears to be shopping for a new refrigerator. The woman has decided on a model, but her husband worries that it will be too expensive. He indicates another one in a brochure that lies open on her lap. The next stop comes into view. The bus doors swing. The woman observes that the model her husband has selected will not fit in the space underneath their cabinets. New passengers have taken the last remaining seats and begun gathering in the aisle. The bus is now full. The young man smiles. With the press of a button he destroys himself, the couple at his side, and twenty others on the bus. The nails, ball bearings, and rat poison ensure further casualties on the street and in the surrounding cars. All has gone according to plan.

The young man’s parents soon learn of his fate. Although saddened to have lost a son, they feel tremendous pride at his accomplishment. They know that he has gone to heaven and prepared the way for them to follow. He has also sent his victims to hell for eternity. It is a double victory. The neighbors find the event a great cause for celebration and honor the young man’s parents by giving them gifts of food and money.

These are the facts. This is all we know for certain about the young man. Is there anything else that we can infer about him on the basis of his behavior? Was he popular in school? Was he rich or was he poor? Was he of low or high intelligence? His actions leave no clue at all. Did he have a college education? Did he have a bright future as a mechanical engineer? His behavior is simply mute on questions of this sort, and hundreds like them. Why is it so easy, then, so trivially easy — you-could-almost-bet-your-life-on-it-easy — to guess the young man’s religion?

Banksy. January 17, 2010

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“People are taking it out of you, every day. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.”

Ok, so, I apparently forgot how to blog for a week. Nice. My apologies. April 12, 2009

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Spent some time at Barnes & Noble Friday night. I had just finished eating a late lunch/early dinner with a friend, didn’t particularly feel like heading back to the house, so I did what I usually do in those situations: surround myself with books and/or music, either at Barnes & Noble or at Hastings. That night, it was B & N. I headed up there with the intention of just chizlaxin’ (“chizlaxin'” = chillin’ + relaxing), scoping some books for a little while, and trying to decompress a bit. I, of course, should have known better. It’s never that easy.

So, I get there and start looking around for some interesting reading material. What did I find? The books I checked out and spend a bit of time with are as follows (titles are linked to the Amazon page):

God’s Problem

Atheist Delusions

Columbine

Critique Of Pure Reason

I’m not entirely sure how many other guys around my age spend their Friday nights at bookstores with reading material like that, but I do, apparently.

 

Here, for no particular reason other than my being a longtime fan of it, is a quote from Charles Bukowski:

“There’s nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death. They don’t honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can’t hear it. Most people’s deaths are a sham. There’s nothing left to die.”

Tupac had more fire than anyone. April 4, 2009

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“Imperfection is inherited, therefore we all sin, but fighting the war of sin is the greatest war of all because we all die in the end no matter how hard we fight.”

“If you walked by a street and you was walking on concrete and you saw a rose growing from concrete, even if it had messed up petals and it was a little to the side, you would marvel at just seeing a rose grow through concrete. So why is it that when you see some ghetto kid grow out of the dirtiest circumstances, and he can talk and he can sit across the room and make you cry, make you laugh, all you can talk about is my dirty rose, my dirty stems, and how am leaning crooked to the side, you can’t even see that I’ve come up from out of that?”

sweeping up a life. March 13, 2009

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Excerpt from Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama – Chapter Thirteen, pages 249-251

 

“I’m telling you, man, the world is a place.”

“Say, the world is a place, huh.”

“That’s just what I’m saying.”

We were walking back to the car after dinner in Hyde Park, and Johnnie was in an expansive mood. He often got like this, especially after a good meal and wine. The first time I met him, when he was still working with a downtown civic group, he had started explaining the relationship between jazz and Eastern religion, then swerved into an analysis of black women’s behinds, before coming to a stop on the subject of Federal Reserve Bank policy. In such moments his eyes would grow wide; his voice would speed up; his round, bearded face would glow with a childlike wonder. That was part of the reason I’d hired Johnnie, I suppose, that curiosity of his, his appreciation of the absurd. He was a philosopher of the blues.

“I’ll give you an example,” Johnnie was saying to me now. “The other day, I’m headed for a meeting up in the State of Illinois Building. You know how it’s open in the middle, right . . . big atrium and all that. Well, the guy I’m supposed to be meeting with is late, so I’m just standing there looking down at the lobby from the twelfth floor, checking out the architecture, when all of a sudden this body flies past me. A suicide.”

“You didn’t tell me about that —”

“Yeah, well, shook me up pretty good. High up as I was, I could hear the body land like it was right there next to me. Terrible sound. Soon as it happened, these office workers rushed up to the guardrail to see what was going on. We’re all looking down, and sure enough the body’s lying there, all twisted and limp. People started screaming, covering their eyes. But the strange thing was, after people got through screaming, they’d go back to the railing to get a second look. Then they’d scream and cover their eyes all over again. Now why would they do that? Like, what do they expect the second time around? But see, folks are funny like that. We can’t help ourselves with that morbid shit. . . .

“Anyway, the cops come, they rope things off and take the body away. Then the building crew starts cleaning things up. Nothing special, you know — just a broom and a mop. Sweeping up a life. Whole thing’s cleaned up in maybe five minutes. Makes sense, I guess . . . I mean, it’s not like you need special equipment or suits or something. But it starts me thinking, How’s that gonna feel to be one of those janitors, mopping up somebody’s remains? Somebody’s got to do it, right? But how you gonna feel that night eating dinner?”

“Who was it that jumped?”

“That’s the other thing, Barack!” Johnnie took a drag from his cigarette and let the smoke roll from his mouth. “It was a young white girl, man, sixteen maybe, seventeen. One of these punk rock types, with blue hair and a ring through her nose. Afterward, I’m wondering what she was thinking about while she was riding up the elevator. I mean, folks musta been standing right next to her on the way up. Maybe they looked her over, decided she was a freak, and went back to thinking about their own business. You know, their promotion, or the Bulls game, or whatever. And the whole time this girl’s just standing there next to them with all that pain inside her. Got to be a lot of pain, doc, ’cause right before she jumps, you figure she looks down and knows that shit is gonna hurt.”

Johnnie stamped out his cigarette. “So that’s what I’m saying, Barack. Whole panorama of life out there. Crazy shit going on. You got to ask yourself, is this kinda stuff happening elsewhere? Is there any precedent for all this shit? You ever ask yourself that?”

“The world’s a place,” I repeated.

“See there! It’s serious, man.”

for your mental. February 28, 2009

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“Our society is run by a managerial bureaucracy, by professional politicians; people are motivated by mass suggestion, their aim is producing more and consuming more, as purposes in themselves. All activities are subordinated to economic goals, means have become ends; man is an automaton — well fed, well clad, but without any ultimate concern for that which is his peculiarly human quality and function. If man is to be able to love, he must be put in his supreme place. The economic machine must serve him, rather than he serve it. He must be enabled to share experience, to share work, rather than, at best, share in profits. Society must be organized in such a way that man’s social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it. If it is true, as I have tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, then any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature.” – Erich Fromm

“The skylines lit up at dead of night, the air-conditioning systems cooling empty hotels in the desert, and artificial light in the middle of the day all have something both demented and admirable about them: the mindless luxury of a rich civilization, and yet of a civilization perhaps as scared to see the lights go out as was the hunter in his primitive night.” – Jean Baudrillard

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“I don’t give a fuck if you don’t know what I’m talking about – this is art. When you go see a painting on the wall and it looks bugged out because you don’t know what the fuck he thinking, because he ain’t got no benches, no trees there, it’s just a splash. The nigga that did it know what the fuck it is.” – Ghostface Killah

man-crushes February 20, 2009

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So, my friend Jeremy and I were talking the other day. Music is the sun to his earth, just as it is with me, so we were discussing which musicians we have man-crushes on. I immediately threw in John Mayer (seriously, just listen to “In Your Atmosphere”, “Hummingbird”, and “Tracing”) and John Rzeznik (frontman for The Goo Goo Dolls, for the unaware), because, well, they’re both amazing. Actually, speaking of John Rzeznik, here’s a quote from him that’s one of my favorite quotes from anyone ever:

“I’m amazed that I can sit down, put a guitar in my hands and start playing kind of free style, and it will be four hours later and it will feel like it’s been five minutes. I think that adds depth to your being, when something in your life can do that for you. Everybody should try to find something in their life that can do that for them. People find really elaborate self-destructive ways of killing time on this planet. That’s why they take drugs or drink, trying to alter their state of being. If you can find something that doesn’t destroy you, but deepens your character, you’re really lucky.”

fantastic. absolutely fantastic. couldn’t agree more.

So anyway, I then started trying to think of metal musicians who go in the “man-crush” category. On that note, I give you Mike Smith, drummer for Suffocation. Brief history lesson first: back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the blast beat was mainly used in metal the way Napalm Death used to rock it, with the bass drum and hi-hat synched together and alternating with snare hits. Then Mike Smith and his boys in Suffocation came along and changed all that. He started syncopating EVERYTHING together – the bass drum, hi-hat, AND the snare. Lots of bands do that now, but back then, no one else had done it as prominently as he had, and especially not syncing the hits together while still keeping everything powerful and not losing the punch of strong snare hits. To see what I’m talking about, check the video:

So yeah. AWESOME.

word up. February 8, 2009

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“I like to inspire and to be inspired. Connecting with people is something I enjoy also, because life is fleeting. We should build each other up and fellowship and enjoy one another.” – Kevin Brewer

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Cornel West September 30, 2008

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Here’s Cornel West, Professor of Religion at Princeton, being interviewed in Rolling Stone last fall. The interviewer has just asked West whether or not he is optimistic about the future …

“The categories of optimism and pessimism don’t exist for me. I’m a blues man. A blues man is a prisoner of hope, and hope is a qualitatively different category than optimism. Optimism is a secular construct, a calculation of probability. Black folk in America have never been optimistic about the future – what have we had to be optimistic about? But we are people of hope. Hope wrestles with despair, but it doesn’t generate optimism. It just generates this energy to be courageous, to bear witness, to see what the end is going to be. No guarantee, unfinished, open-ended. I am a prisoner of hope. I’m going to die full of hope. There’s no doubt about that, because that is a choice I make. But at the same time, the end doesn’t look too good right now.”

Now, I don’t agree with some of West’s views, but that is nothing close to an opinionated invalidation of all of them, and his clarity and honesty here are just fantastic. In my most recent example of biting off more than I can chew, I bought The Cornel West Reader the other day, and I hope to be able to start digesting some of that soon. It’s the kind of meal that requires many sittings to polish off. At over 600 pages total, and around 550 pages of legit content, it’s quite the tome, but it deserves to be, as the material encompasses decades of essays and interviews. You might (heavy, heavy emphasis on “might”) see some thoughts on his ideas in this space at some point, but don’t quote me on that one.