Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Photography, Globalization, and Empire

History’s long march towards globalization has been aided in recent decades by accelerating change. Be it computers, weapons, aerospace, or digital cameras, technology has brought about profound change to the planet as a whole. The prevailing “boom and bust” economic model of global capitalism has developed concurrently, arising with the Industrial Revolution and the wage system, enabling the United States to opportunistically seize fully half the world’s wealth after World War II and become  the most powerful economic and military empire the world has ever seen. Along with its hundreds of military bases around the world, the U.S. has also achieved a cultural hegemony of sorts, with its movies, television programs, popular music, fast food, brands, and logos found in even some of the most remote regions of the planet.

In the realm of photography, globalization has, of course, brought about dramatic changes. Camera technology has developed rapidly. Digital point and shoot cameras and DSLRs are fairly affordable (especially for those in affluent nations such as ours). The vast majority of cellular phones include built in cameras with high resolutions. Smart phone technology connects users to the internet, allowing them to share their snapshots, meals, pets, and selfies with audiences around the globe. This democratization of photography has been nothing short of revolutionary, changing people’s lives and the way we interact with each other. This newfound ease in making and sharing images has also contributed heavily in activism, in movements which seek to cause social and governmental change through direct action. Activists have relied heavily on websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter in organizing and sharing information. Recent examples include The Arab Spring movements in the Middle East and North Africa and Black Lives Matter in the United States.

As the idea of  the “neutral vision” of social and scientific photography was challenged in the last decades of the 20th Century, the  increased availability and decreased price of picture-making technology led once marginalized segments of society, such as Native Americans, to begin making their own photography, reclaiming their own cultural identities in the process. Neutral vision continued to be an influence over photography, but was supplanted in some places, such as Chile, by photography which expressed opposition to the status quo. In 1973, the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was brutally overthrown – with the help of the C.I.A. – and replaced with a reign of terror under the government of the dictator Augusto Pinochet. Chile’s U.S.-aided coup d’état was paralleled by similar American-backed atrocities throughout Latin America during this period, and funded by the U.S. Taxpayer thanks to the Army’s terrorist training camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, the School of the Americas (renamed WHINSEC – Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, in 2001).

The Fall 1993 Time magazine cover, with its digital hybrid of a woman’s face, is indicative of many aspects of globalization. It blends several ethnicities in a realistic way using computer technology. In spite of the fact that there were people in the Americas with a greater claim to the land than the European settlers who arrived in the 17th Century to massacre them, steal their lands, and spread their foolish superstition and sexually transmitted diseases to them, the United States of America has always been something of a promised land for immigrants. The face of America is a truly global face, and that’s what you see on that cover. I must take issue, however, with the line of text at the bottom of the cover, which refers to the United States as "the World's First Multicultural Society," for it ignores the existence of India and its millennia of multi-culturalism. 


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Democracy Is Not What Happens in the Voting Booth

Democracy is not what happens in the voting booth. Let that sink in for a minute.
Democracy is a messy process enacted by people who value things like justice, freedom, equality, and so on, over the rule of law. History demonstrates this point quite adequately.
Without going into a long critique of our fabulously wealthy, hypocritical, slave-owning founding fathers and the rabble-rousing rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, it may be stated that the American Revolution is the classic example of democratic action, whereby the rule of law was flouted in favor of independence. The Boston Tea Party is a good example of Civil Disobedience, an act of protest that could not be ignored.
Every single right that we have in this country has been achieved through the blood, sweat, and tears of people who had no choice but to act in such a way. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, as inadequate as it is, wasn't just gifted to African Americans from a benevolent white government. It was fought for with numerous acts of Civil Disobedience, from sit ins to marches to bus rides and everywhere in between, and met with hatred and violence every step of the way. The same can be said of labor. If it wasn't for organized labor unions, we would not enjoy a 40 hour work week, paid vacations, sick leave, or any other rights of the American worker. Child labor would still be a thing. My daughter Beatrice, at 7, would be old enough to work in a dangerous factory under the old system.
All of that is why stopping traffic isn't only understandable, it's inevitable. It's mandatory. Last year, Bree Newsome committed one of the boldest, bravest, and most inspiring acts of Civil Disobedience in recent memory when she climbed the flagpole in front of South Carolina's statehouse and pulled the Confederate Flag down. She's an artist and an intelligent woman. She knew that she would be arrested as soon as she climbed down from that flagpole, but she did it anyway.
Black Lives matter protesters march down College Street in Greenville, SC in an attempt to block interstate 385 on July 9, 2016.
Black Lives Matter protest, Greenville, SC July 9, 2016

Blocking traffic is a dramatic act of Civil Disobedience. Black Lives Matter is a movement that arose as a response to police violence against black people. It is now an organization that holds non-violent direct action as one of its core values. Its primary goal is to end the murder of black people by police, and the systemic racial profiling that causes it. Black Lives Matter continues the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his spiritual antecedent, Mahatma Ghandi. You break the law in a non-violent way in order to cause discomfort to an unjust power system. It's a way to combat oppression in which the weapons are non-lethal.
Looked at through a critical lens, the United States is not a democracy. Its form of government is more of a plutocracy and an oligarchy. Our system is sometimes referred to as a "representative democracy," which means we elect people to make the big decisions for us. I maintain that so-called "representative democracy" is no democracy at all, that it is, in fact, an oxymoron, for the will of the people is hardly considered, as the voting records and resulting approval ratings of our elected officials bear painful witness to:
"A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 11% of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. That’s unchanged from February. Fifty-seven percent (57%) say Congress is doing a poor job, down slightly from 60% in February, but generally in line with previous surveys. (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/congressional_performance)"
So if democracy doesn't happen in the voting booth, what can we do? We can and we must make things uncomfortable for the institutions of oppression. We can and we must continue to orchestrate and/or participate in large-scale acts of Civil Disobedience. We can and we must fight those who would divide us and keep us down. We can and we must win.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shaman w/o a Tribe

I regularly visit the underworld to bring back useful knowledge of human existence. But these trips are only valuable if I spend significant amounts of time back here in earth, in this physical world, sharing what I've learned and putting to use the information my many helper demon friends lead me to. I need to draw, write, paint, make songs and poems, photos and so on.

Without delivering knowledge to others, I'm just a shaman without a tribe. No one gets healed. My wild descent into chaos needs to be put to work right away, so the percentage of time spent in contact with the galactic center needs to shrink in proportion to time spent communing.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dream 3

I tried to work crossword puzzles shortly after awakening on a bright and clear autumn morning and found them impossibly frustrating.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dream 2

A lone tower of stone broke through the tops of the pines, piercing the sky like a syringe. Its stone was uniformly gray and there was no sign of its ever having been a part of another structure.

As we approached, we all saw another building in the distance, through the last stand of trees, at the bottom of the rusty needle strewn forest floor that sloped almost imperceptibly. It was a mansion, sprawling, with fairy-tale, Châteauesque architecture. 

A field opened to one side of the house. A stage was set up at one end of the pasture, with a local bar band tiredly rehearsing their worn repertoire of classic rock and AM gold to a small but disinterested crowd of onlookers.

Monday, October 5, 2015

LIMBS on BANDCAMP and

My new band, THE LIMBS, now has a bandcamp.



Oh, and also go give our facebook page a like.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dream 1

I slept dreamlessly for years. But now that's changed. Now I'm having vivid dreams every night. So, I got a small notebook to keep by the bed and now I record them every morning. Here's one:

I was drawn to the apartment like an onlooker to a crash. Its rooms spoke to me of pain, cruelty, decay, death. I knew we had to move in as soon as possible.

It was sort of an attic space, an add-on, addition, an extra, an afterthought, not conforming to the complex's usual floorplans. Irregular ceiling heights, warped floors wtih narrow hardwood slats, and an assortment of oddly shaped rooms.

One large room, with a hidden passage off to one side I immediately designated as a playroom for the children. A small one with a toilet closet at the back I claimed as my master bedroom. The rooms were full of the leftover belongings of previous tenants: furniture, clothing, toys, books, electronics, and I felt as if we were breaking and entering while they were away rather than touring a vacant space we planned to soon occupy. It would be quite a job to move all of that shit out of there.

The space had also once housed a seafood restaurant. The entrance was through the kitchen after innumerable flights of stairs. Two corridors divided the space into three main sections. There were rooms enough to sublet to multiple boarders if I wanted. 

My neighbors were a youngish African American couple with several children - playmates for mine - living in a space on the other side of the kitchen and stairwell, separated only by a curtain. The place was rife with old feelings, every room storied. I wanted badly to live there right away.

Monday, September 28, 2015

SCI-FI MIND UPDATES

It seems some of these records are never finito. I update them every once in a while like software, and right now I'm going back and fucking with SCI-FI MIND. It took forever to write and record the thing - owing to a busy family/work/school schedule - but I finally got it in a state almost worthy of listening to in mid-2013. But some of the sounds are still troubling to me, so I'm repairing them now and updating as I have new mixes. Here's the latest version, but more updates will be happening in the next few weeks.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kill a Deer


I'm feeling a strong urge to kill a large animal. Deer is the obvious choice, as I can murder one with impunity. I've never hunted before. But with the arrival of autumn I'm feeling the bloodlust. I want to end the life of a large animal. I want to bathe in its blood. I want to taste the blood. I want to skin it, to clean out its organs, to make steaks and roasts and sausage of the muscles, to feast upon the organs with relish and merrily share it with friends. 

Hunting season is upon us. Anyone else in the mood to kill?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

LIMBS - CREATURE AFTER ME (Music Video)


LIMBS - CREATURE AFTER ME from Microwave Eyes on Vimeo.

I haven't been bloggin much this year, but I have been busy. Here's a little something I made the other day - a music video for one of my nightmare songs, "Creature After Me," from On the Banks of the Old Black River, released on Halloween last year.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Showtime

I got shows coming up!

Saturday, February 21 Ground Zero Spartanburg, SC with Ghost In The Machine, Daggers, Italo and the Passions, Masonjar Menagerie , Shoot the Blitz, The Boo Jays, Zin Vetro
Friday, March 27 O-Cha Greenville, SC
Wednesday, April 15 Radio Room Greenville, SC with Nervosas, Neon Knives, Alias For Now
Saturday, April 25 The House, Simpsonville with Dables, Fed to Lions


That's all so far, but more to come. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Music Video Time

This evening filming began for a new music video and got off to a good start when I got a string of briars wrapped around my neck. I love living!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Four Feedback Compositions

A.  All four pieces are based on the following gear setup. Place guitar or guitars on stands, plugged into an amplifier system. Turn volume up loud enough to produce feedback. Wear hearing protection, if desired. Position guitars and amps in room for increased resonance, if desired.

1. Place an ordinary houseplant in proximity to the loudspeakers. Water regularly. Allow the plant to to be exposed to sound for 2 to 4 weeks. Does the plant continue to thrive? What effect, if any, does prolonged sonic bombardment have on a plant?

2. Brace guitars so they are not easily overthrown. Throw objects of varying size and hardness at the guitars' strings, causing an attack. What emotional response is elicited from the thrower? Does the piece continue to be enjoyable to perform?

3. Place an ordinary housecat in a cage in proximity to the loudspeakers. Water and feed regularly. Allow the cat to be exposed to sound for 2 to 4 weeks. Does the animal continue to thrive? What effect, if any, does prolonged sonic bombardment have on a cat? Repeat this process with a deaf cat. Note differences in response.

4. Turn off all lights in room. Wearing night vision goggles, direct a group of people into the room, and have them walk about blindly. Lock doors. Observe their emotional reactions as they stumble over instruments, hit walls, fall to the floor, and realize they are trapped. What emotional effects are produced from the combination of guitar feedback, blindness, and accidental injury?




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Last Year's Music, This Year's Plans

Last year was kind of tumultuous for me. I took it all in stride though, with my usual cool, calm, and collected demeanour intact. Lotsa bad shit happened, but I still managed to put out some music. 

First came Bad Luck, a broken-hearted yet spirited little comp with a couple new tunes and a some older ones, all done just with my voice, electric guitar, and drum machine - no synths no organs, no bass guitar, no effects except dirt boxes, no real drums. It was the rawest, most expedient way I could document how I felt about things at the time.


Then Max and I recorded a set of 5 trailer-park gothic songs concerning the murder of a Sheriff's daughter and the supernatural justice wrought upon the miscreant perpertator, set in a fictional South Carolina town and put it out on Halloween. Max played drums, percussion, mandolin, guitar, bass, and I did the vocals, and played a pair of archtop acoustic guitars and layered a few tracks of additional noise and feedback with my Jazzmaster and Max's Tele. Here's what that project sounds like:



I did a few shows last year, but the most enjoyable one was at Drone Fest in Clemson. It was a hot mess of a performance, but fun, mostly because I got to tell bad jokes to college students between howling blasts of fuzz and feedback noise.



Then there was Sumpatheia, an exercise in layered feedback recorded at volumes intended to produce permanent hearing damage to any innocent bystander unfortunate enough to be in proximity to my house at the time (I wore earplugs throughout). This droning noise juggernaut features six tracks of electric guitar feedback courtesy of a Jazzmaster tuned EG#EEG#G#, two amplifiers, five loudspeakers, one condenser microphone and an array of distortion pedals.


The remainder of the music from 2014 I "released" consists of previously recorded material that either hadn't been put out in any form or stuff I merely repackaged. I uploaded to my store this collection of old songs that didn't fit anywhere else:


Also from the vaults are these three recordings Lily and I did with the infamous Kris Hyatt: three little uncut garage rock gems that I packed up with a nice construction paper cut-out for a cover.


And finally, three rock and roll songs Max and I recorded  at Black Sneaker Souls but hadn't officially released:



This year, of course I have big plans. Not the kind of big plans I normally make at the start of a new year, but big nonetheless. All self-mocking sarcasm aside, I'm finally, actually getting treatment for my mental health. I've been a mess of a person, a bad friend, a bad husband, a failure, full of self-loathing and self-pity for so long I don't know what to do with myself. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve the gift of existence. So my therapist is a god-send.

This year my plans are simple: get my head screwed on straight, continue going to school, the emergence of my new band with Max Price and Raleigh Knights, love my children as fully as I am able, and to get divorced.

And maybe, if I get a minute, I'll write a few new tunes about it all. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drone Fest at Murder Planet



This is a recording of a show I did in Clemson recently. Don't listen to it. It's too rad. But at around 14:00 I let some other dudes play my guitar, so it gets even more rad. I controlled the amp's eq-tion* though.

*An inside joke between one of my best ever friends, whom I horribly mistreated and probably doesn't read my blog, and myself. 'Sup dude!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Don't Practice Yr Guitar

Whatever you do, don't practice your guitar.

Don't learn scales or arpeggios. Don't learn chords.

Instead, hammer it with all of your experience. Pour your blood into it. Pour your sweat and tears into it. Play every lick as if you're about to go to the gallows. As if it's the last riff you'll ever play.

Turn your amp all the way up. Turn the treble, midrange, and bass all the way up. Bask in the resonance as the feedback makes all of your windows and the corners of the room vibrate uncontrollably.

Throw your guitar at the amp. Step on it. Hump it.

But whatever you do, don't practice it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ares

Turn back,
Go back to your mountain.
Leave this world now -
you are not welcome here.

Leave now with your sword
   and your shield
   and your rocket propelled grenade
   and your tank
   and your rubber bullet
   and your tear gas.
Leave now and never return.

This world will have no more of you,
   you who run rough-shod over our cities
   and our countrysides,
you who extinguish our friends
   and our neighbors,
   our elderly
   and our children.
This world is not your playground;
our lives no mere sandcastles for you to kick over.

Leave now,
   and take with you our presidents
   and our prime ministers
   and our other false leaders.
Get out of here.
Go back to your cloudy peak.
We don't want you here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stop Tryin' to Tell Me How to Internet!

People love sharing their views on facebook, tumblr and other social networking sites. People love blogging. People love posting pictures of their kids and their meals. People love doing selfies.

Other folks love criticizing them for any and all of these activities. They love to call out others for their "vanity" or "narcissism" because they like to put a bit of their personalities on the internet.

Well, guess what? Just about everybody's at least a little bit vain. If you're not in the least bit concerned with your physical appearance, your manner of dress, hygiene and so on, then you're probably either a monk of some sort or a type of socially maladapted person that no one wants to be around or follow on twitter. Either way, you surely smell really bad.

If not, shut the fuck up. There. I did it. I told you how to internet.

Because if you don't like my crooked teeth or my big nose or my ultra-leftism or my songs showing up in yer newsfeed, then don't look at them. Unfollow. You, yourself, are also a vain person, a little narcissist. Because you look nice. You brush your teeth. You have mirrors in your home. And you smell good.

The way we present ourselves to the world via our physical appearance - our style - is an opportunity for self-expression. Dressing well can be empowering. I know a few people who have developed incredible senses of style since I've known them. It's always fascinating to see what they're going to do next. It's a window into a person's mind. What could be more interesting than that?

Cypress Suite - Pts. I, II

I. Alone in Bed

I lay alone in bed one frosty night
And sleep refused to come; my thoughts were filled
With questions and such fascinating sights -
I saw a girl thrown from a car and killed
Become a bird and fly over the hills
And wondered where her disembodied soul
Had fled now that her corpse lay cold and still.
Is there a heaven as I have been told
Where angels sing with super-human skill?

The room was scarcely lit and icy blue
But my pupils had adjusted to the dark
And took in shifting shapes that without hue
Showed silhouetted outlines clearly marked.
Plastic sacks of dripping fluids, clinical and stark
Appeared where my stuffed animals had been
And machine-like breathing I remarked
Which seemed to originate from within;
My room had transformed into a NICU ward.

Then I noticed an inch-wide tube my throat
Accommodated; it inflated my chest
Like a balloon. A petroleum jelly coat
Was on my lips and I was only dressed
In a gown of lightweight cotton I confess.
But then I heard a lupine howl that called
Me from afar to end my rest.
And from my still position I rose tall
And saw my supine form receive its final blessing.

II. The Dead Forest

I slid the door of double-strength, clear glass
To quit those sterile quarters, and padded down
The cold tile hall whose other rooms I passed.
Then I stopped to take a look around
And found the scene had changed again without a sound.
I stood within an avenue whose trees
Had shed their leaves upon the snowy ground.
Old rusty cars and other junk were seized
By winter freeze and still as a ghost town.

Just then the wolf's cry called to me once more
And I perceived a blood trail in the snow.
I followed those red drops of fresh-shed gore
Down the avenue through the lonely hollow
Where ghosts appeared and time was slowed.
Cypress trees, green and majestic formed
A wall at this crossroads and proudly rose
From the dead earth. A monstrous hound
Blocked entry from the Cypress Grove below.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Won't Die

*** Sharing this again since I recorded a quicky demo of it this after. It's a first take, so don't ask me where the missing fourth verse is! ***



I could be killed out on the road tonight
or end my life in a drunken fist fight
or be gored in the running of the bulls
or even torn apart by rav’nous wolves.
But none of that will ever mean a thing
if I can’t learn to love you once again.
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to live –
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to love.

I could meet death blasted by a grenade
or I could swallow poisoned lemonade
or be bisected by an anxious train
or crushed beneath the weight of heartbreak pain.
But what would be the use in such a death
without your lips to draw my final breath?
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to live –
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to love.

I could fall victim to a police truncheon
or suffer a stroke at some genteel luncheon
or be permafrosted on subarctic tundra
or silverbacks could tear my limbs asunder.
But all my blood and sweat will just be wasted
if the lips I’ve long for I’ve not once more tasted.
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to live –
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to love.

I could be stewed by hungry cannibals
or struck upon Achille’s heel so fallible
or be dashed on the rocks while river rafting
or have a scissor accident while crafting
I’d gladly suffer any sort of harm
for one last moment with you in my arms.
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to live –
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to love.

I could be tasted by a great white shark
or robbed and cudgeled in a darkened park
or pulverized by a jilted jackhammer
or crucified for errors in my grammar.
Though none of these would ever aggrieve me
I’d be bereaved if you would not receive me.
But I won’t die before I’ve learned to live –
No I won’t die before I’ve learned to love.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wine

For now I'll steer clear of beer.
Fruit of the vine, I'll make you mine;
your sinewy tendrils
I let wrap my mind -
my insides become your trellis.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's OK to Grieve for Robin Williams

People are sad about Robin Williams' death. I too am sad about Robin Williams.

A friend of mine posted on facebook something to the effect that it's not OK to be sad for a dead entertainer, but you really ought to be be doing something about a lot of the other misery that goes on in the world and be sad for other, bigger, more valid reasons. I'll quote him.

I feel terrible for the family and friends of Robin Williams, as losing loved ones to suicide is awful .(I've experienced it. ) There are however, 18,000 kids who die of hunger each and every day. They may not have lived to be multi-millionaire entertainers, but they had big dreams and big hearts too. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself over someone you never met, try and make the world a better place while you're alive by donating to causes that make a difference. Trade the energy you put into grieving for one entertainer and think of our men and women in uniform. And lastly, there are thousands of animals that need your help all over the globe. Perspective, perspective, perspective.

He makes a valid point. Putting effort into making "the world a better place" is a good thing. But why should we invalidate what we feel about this person we "never met?" This person we watched for countless hours, who made us laugh, who suffered just like all of us, who lived with the real pain of mental illness just like countless others but managed to use his suffering to make others laugh, to forget for a minute how wretched existence can be. I do not agree that we should put much into grieving for our military - all volunteers - who in this age of easily procured information rain death and destruction around the globe at the behest of a government beholden to Global Capitalism. I definitely feel for them, especially the impoverished ones with little other recourse to financial survival, but while we're at it, we should grieve for their victims as well, who outnumber American casualties exponentially.

Robin Williams' life and death didn't change history, and it pales in comparison to the numbers of people dying of hunger or under the heel of the U.S. military daily, or the decades-long wholesale slaughter of Palestinians by U.S.-armed Israel, or the innumerable women who are victims of domestic violence, whose death rate since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom has far outpaced the number of dead military personel in our Middle Eastern resource wars, or the mounting numbers of young black men and women routinely murdered by our police officers or disproportionately incarcerated, or the escalating threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming, or mass extinctions. But his chosen profession was all about bringing laughter to others. He brought joy to millions of us. He helped us all to suffer a little less. It's O.K. to grieve for Robin Williams' death. We need people like him to help us laugh through the tears. There's already enough sorrow in this world; a world without Robin Williams in it is a world that is worse than it was before.