Federal Bureau of In Your Face Book

The F.B.I. has entered the social networking space creating phony profiles in an effort to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize dissidents.

Distant acquaintances and “friends” who post: at the gym; waiting in line; guess who got tickets to the Superbowl? or other insufferable humble brags and literal “in the moment” activities, attention seeking narcissism or uninformed political bating while sharing pictures in grammatically/syntactically incorrect prose are, quite possibly, bored and overpaid analysts @ Quantico.

Printed in Pacific Review 2011: Revolt

Available at Amazon

*In light of the Edward Snowden’s revelations last year regarding the NSA’s massive data collection program, this piece, though speculative when I wrote it, can easily be edited/redacted in a few places. For example, F.B.I. changed to NSA and Quantico, changed to Fort Meade.

Facebook_welcome

 

Revolutionary Brain “An Insurgent Text” – Reveiw

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Revolutionary Brain by Harold Jaffe

Harold Jaffe, author of 20 books, including Terror-dot-Gov, Beyond the Techno-Cave and 15 Serial Killers, turns his critical eye to America and global media culture in his latest collection of essays, quasi-essays and “docufictions,” Revolutionary Brain. These 19 texts, written with Jaffe’s confident élan, range stylistically from interview, to reportage, to the use of an extensive list of pornographic keywords in the text, “Revolution Post-Mill.” The result is a book composed and organized much like an album, each text a song to be listened to individually, or within the context of the whole.

Revolutionary Brain interrogates our collective amnesia in relation to our obsession with technology, with all the attendant contradictions. We live in a time where we are increasingly aware of looming environmental catastrophe, yet our awareness of global warming is sublimated by the use of the term as a semantic palliative.  Despite real social progress towards diversity, class inequity is worsening dramatically. The news media profits from diverting attention from crucial news to corporate-sponsored blandishments. Jaffe’s writing addresses these issues, deftly intermingling relevance with irreverence, juxtaposing pain with beauty and conveying serious thought with brevity. These aspects are perhaps best depicted in “Crisis Art.” Jaffe writes that “crisis art” is situational, “hence created rapidly rather than painstakingly revised and refined,” and Revolutionary Brain, though clearly refined, addresses crises while also being “keenly aware of text and context” (Jaffe 25). The prerogative of the activist/socially conscious writer is to reconfigure, interact and integrate information and deliver the result in a text that vibrates, bears witness.  “Crisis artists must swallow the poison in order to reconstitute it. Expel it art…The poison, currently, includes our crazily spinning, electronic-obsessed, war-making culture and its profit-mad institutions; along with the rapidly worsening environmental crisis.” (25)

Though the bulk of this collection includes longer essay-esque pieces, instances of compressed writing also appear as shorter, micro texts like Fear and Pet Girl. Fear is a dialog between two unknown individuals discussing the use of cognac to alleviate fear. The final line is expressive and taut. “After cognac you feel clear. Unafraid. Only then will you permit yourself to be merciful.” ( 45) “Pet Girl” describes a relationship between a submissive and her master who leads her around in public on a silver leash. When questioned about the dynamic, the girl, explains it is her choice and she isn’t harming anyone. A few other interludes appear in the form of actual To-Do lists, these serve as reminders, ostensibly to readers, to embrace pleasure.

Additional fictive exchanges between the author, and an artist or celebrity are used effectively to frame a concept or theme. In Weep the author “interviews” the actor Marlon Brando months prior to the actor’s death, discussing Brando’s propensity to weep. Notably, Brando was one or perhaps the only Caucasian to pay his respects to slain Black Panthers leader, Fred Hampton. He wept openly at the viewing. This segues into a close inspection of weeping as a social act. The author is careful to make the distinction between the tears of the bereaved and those who experience “despair without fear,” and the crocodile tears of televangelists, politicians and billionaires embroiled in scandal.  Finally, the title acts as a mantra and also a challenge:  to weep is to feel.

Truth-Force begins with a repetition of dialog between los pobres (“We, The Poor Ones”) and an unidentified interlocutor aboard a train as they discuss the ultimate fate of a junta torturer captured by revolutionaries.  During the exchange is a coded sentence, “I’ve read the report,” which triggers a yes or no vote by the compañero. Votes tallied will determine whether or not the torturer is to be executed. A detailed account of torture by electrocution experienced by one of the compañeros follows: “You’d expect the electric shock to feel like catching hold of a live wire with your fingers. One might tolerate that. This is a hundred times worse… I didn’t know until inmate compañeros told me afterwards that they wept to hear me tortured. I screamed and wailed, they told me,” and it ends with a wrenching, “pain beyond pain” (69). Just as there are images that can’t be unseen, there are texts that, once read, cannot be forgotten. Revolutionary Brain infiltrates the reader’s mind, resonating long after reading.

Salvation Mountain is a docufictional account of “Dewey Birdsong” and his testament God is Love in the form of a mountain made of adobe, paint and various debris sourced from the Imperial Valley desert in Southern California. Dewey—the fictive incarnation of Leonard Knight, who began building Salvation Mountain nearly thirty years ago—explains that while he may make a hundred mistakes, that with Jesus he can start again with the same enthusiasm. The prose here is spare and beautiful.

The book’s title is inspired by the real world events involving members of the notorious Baader-Meinhof Gang, a group of German anti-imperialist revolutionaries, and the abuse of their corpses by authorities. After the apparent suicides of imprisoned gang members (including the bizarre “self-inflicted” gunshot wound to the neck and four stab wounds to the heart) in May 1976, German authorities extracted their brains for study, with all but Ulrike Meinhof’s having since been “lost.”

In Revolutionary Brain, Harold Jaffe shines light into the gaps in the official discourse so as to find an opening, plant an idea and let it grow, positing that critical dissent never becomes extinct in the mind and passions. This is powerful writing from a mind that refuses to remain silent, that continues to bear witness.

Copies available at Amazon

Hit the Ground Running in 2014 – Does It Explode (music)

I’ve been working on a project with Gary, my editor for Caustic Soda, on a new musical endeavor called Does It Explode. Mark, with whom I played in Cabron is also in the band as well as my friend, Veronica. Veronica did a few covers with Awakeners, including a slamming version of Portishead’s “All Mine.”

When Gary and I began writing for this project we both wanted to do something outside our comfort zone. Gary is a lead guitar player mostly but plays bass in D.I.E. and I am a mostly rhythm guitar player, but in D.I.E. I’m playing my version of “lead” guitar.

Earlier this month we did a rehearsal studio recording with my friend and creative collaborator, Dan Maier. The tracks turned out quite well. In fact I’m really proud of it. Demos are great because they are raw and help formalize the songs as well as create ideas for refinement of what eventually, will become studio tracks.  No overdubs. We did several takes and on both songs, used the third. Minimal editing. You can hear one ‘wrongstring’ flub in the pre-outro in Pink Crosses.

LISTEN at http://doesitexplode.bandcamp.com/

*Photo courtesy of Charles Shannon

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Spider Fever, Retox, OFF! Live at the Casbah, Monday May 14, 2012

Spider Fever Shredding

Mario Rubalcalba has constantly established himself amongst the breed of rad humans who can do just about anything awesome (Dave Grohl, Joss Whedon, Danny Way). Professional Skateboarder? No fuckin’ prob bro. Musician? Easier-said than done. Owner of a record store (Thirsty Moon in San Diego, CA)? Check. His resume is long and fortified with the likes of legendary bands 411, Clikatat Ikatowi, Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, Earthless, and of course, OFF! However, his latest project, Spider Fever, takes him out from behind the drums and plants him squarely in the center with a guitar and a microphone. The band rips through tracks off their eponymous debut. It’s powerful pop-edged, skate rock with big choruses and tasteful solos. At the show I picked up their Long Player. Favoring side two right now, especially “Simply Nervous,” which they closed the set with that night. About 5 minutes in the band hits the extended bridge and it’s a ferocious, driving beast of riffage.

JP mid howl.

Justin Pearson’s Retox played second. Justin’s been in his fair share of San Diego bands as well (Struggle, the Locust, Some Girls, Swing Kids, etc) and with each project he leaves an indelible mark and Retox is exceptional. Blast beats, noisy guitar, galloping bass and JP caterwauling and screaming his way through a blistering twenty-five minute set. Chatting with my friend at the show we commented that JP has always been involved in projects that are 5 minutes in the future. Somehow he harnesses the sound of rocks pelting police shields and windows breaking. And it’s short, brevity being one of his strong suits. Retox is the band William Gibson wishes his character Hubertus Bigend would’ve discovered then made into some sort of anti-marketing phenomena, something to broadcast at a televised riot.

Punk rock is sprinters music for the non-runner and OFF!’s abbreviated mechanics utilize short explosive bursts of kinetic energy. Volume and bombast. Fuck dynamics. Theirs is the “run with your fist in the air while donning a military surplus store Israeli issue gas mask, an old Black Flag t-shirt used as a wick flaming from the neck of a two-buck-Chuck bottle directly toward the riot shields and batons” brand of music. Keith prowls the stage between the two Viking-sized four and six-string players (Dimitri Coats and Steve McDonald) with a controlled, lightning-in-a-bottle intensity. He’s gregarious. Funny. Enlightened as only someone with his thirty years of playing in punk bands and seeing much of the world, exposing it, and indicting it can be. He absorbs the energy from the room and channels it back into the crowd. The in-between song banter was nearly as long as their set (Keith was free associating up there, getting all chatty with the drunks in the front), which was brief-brief, giving drummer Mario Rubalcalba enough time to catch his breath and Dimitri and Steve a chance to tune. “If your girlfriend dragged you here, thanks. [To the ladies] You better tell him he better get into it if he wants to get into it. I had to suffer through Death Cab for Cutie to get into it.”

Frankly, I was disappointed when no one made out or conspicuously shoved fistfuls of pills into their mouths during “Wiped Out.” Kern’s video of the same song raised my expectations much too high and now I feel the icy burn of viewer’s remorse. Actually, I couldn’t really see much from where I was so it is entirely possible there were people making out and taking drugs. There were a fair share of bad neck tattoos, which seems to be more and more common (or maybe that’s a SoCal thing), but the worst was all the tattooed cleavage. Why the fuck do some women tattoo a place that gets enough attention without a colorful clipper ship, sugar skull, or sacred heart? It’s a tramp stamp for your boobs.

The teachable lessons from an OFF! show: make out more, wear earplugs, go outside, support your local skateboarder, practice tattoo-free boob stewardship, stay rad.

Check out Rat Trap and Wiped Out

Black Thoughts, Darkness

NOTE: This article was initially published on noisey.com.

Mexican Shoe Thief and Mexican Camel Tow

Here’s a two fer free download of Cabron’s magnum opus’ Mexican Camel Tow and Mexican Shoe Thief.

Mexican Camel Tow: http://www.sendspace.com/file/0qru6e
Mexican Shoe Thief: http://www.sendspace.com/file/ixlk5q