Monday, October 27, 2008

The Experiment.

All of these interviews started with some version of this information:

"I have a friend right now in Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Is there anything you would like to say to a future army infantryman? Any message you would like to send him? From Civilian to future soldier?"
My words are in italics.

I. Little Miss Molly

"Good luck. And I thank you for your... I don't know. I don't know. Very profound. Let me think about it, let me sleep on it and you can record me tomorrow."

II. Ben, a Freshman (I believe) who unluckily sat across from me.

"I have three friends that have already been over there, and two more that I already know are going. I guess the biggest thing would be, how are you preparing yourself to, uh, for like, the complete lifestyle change."
"They tell him when to take a shit."
"Anything you want to send to him? You can ask him questions but, if you could send him any message when he's sitting in basic, what would it be?"
"Send any message to him? Um, like, I don't know, thanks for serving our country, thanks for..."
"I don't know."
"Thanks for serving our country?" (me, laughing)
"I guess, I don't know him so, the question is why did you decide to go, what do you think of the war."
"Not questions: A message."
"Ummm, my message is, come back safe. Come back, do your job. Do what the United States is hoping to do. What the rest of the world... I mean, spread democracy. And, do what you can. Protect your friends, protect your family. Do what you can while you're there."

III. Cassandra

"... (a small burping sound) (laughter) Thanks..."
"Thanks, bye!"
"Thanks, byyyye! (laughing) Thanks but no thanks... I don't know, Josh Zeis did it for money for school."
"That's not why Colin did it."
"No, I know."
"He turned down 40,000 dollars."
"Really? why? What do you mean?"
"You can sign on with different options and colin had some pretty high options in the military, and potentially..."
"See that's the thing, cause Josh Zeis, got training in computer stuff, and what did he do? He was like out doing one of the most dangerous jobs ever. He was disarming bombs. That was anything that they said he was going to be doing, and he couldn't do anything about it. That's what so shitty about it, they tell everyone they're going to be doing this really safe thing."
"They told him he had special forces written all over him."
"I know, that's what they told Josh Zeis. And he's like, "that's totally sweet, I'll sign up if that's going to be what I'm doing, and he was blown up like three times. You know, he never got hurt, but he couldn't believe he got that close to it."

III. Chelsea, a girl sitting in front of me before a documentary film shown on campus about racism after 9/11 with red hair. (somewhat attractive)

"Should there be? What am I supposed to say?"
"Does it make you feel anything?"
"I don't know. No?"
"Does it make you think about anything?"
"What is that?"
"Patriotism is honoring our country and loving-our-country-sort-of-thing, right?"
"What about shooting guns at brown people? Is that patriotism?"
"Um, not necessarily. I mean we have to be fighting for a cause in order for it to be
patriotic, right?
"What cause is that?"
"It all depends upon the cause."

"It's really hot right there, right now in Georgia. Lots of flies. He gets up and runs at 6am.
"Yes, it is. It's probably very miserable."
"He's got one hour of free time to himself. And the only book he has; is the bible."
"Why don't you send him a book?"
"They won't let me."
"All he wants is the Bible?"
"No, he doesn't want the Bible. Just any book he can have."
"What form of the Bible?"
"They also tell him when to take shits."
"That's nice."
"That's nice? How does that make you feel?"
"It makes me feel really bad for him."
"But, he chose to do it, so..."
"What percentage of people who go into the army choose to go into the army do you think?"
"Don't they all get a choice in one form or another?"
"Well, I suppose on some level we all have the potential to chose to do anything at any moment, but..."
"Hmmm... (taking a bite of my crispy, cold apple) Anything else?"

IV. Matt

"Is there anything you would like to say to a future GI right now?"
"Maybe after this glass of scotch I will."
(Proceeds to drink glass of good scotch)
"So, he's getting shipped off right away?"
"He doesn't know when he's going."
"So he's getting shipped off right away. That's what they always say. They said to my cousin."
"So you're recording now?"
"Is that alright?"
"I'd say first off, don't give a shit what I say. And totally fucking ignore what I say. Cause I'm not in that situation, and I'm not feeling what you're feeling in that moment. But I would say honestly, if I was in that situation, and I had to be in that situation, I'd protect my ass."
"That all anybody does."
"But isn't that the nature of being a soldier? I mean, honestly...
"How many dying men and women think of their flag or their country."
"I'm sure none of them do. I'm sure it'd be like, I want to live, I want to get back home, but that's not going to happen if this doesn't happen right now, so... I mean, that's the soldier's dilemma, I think."
"That shit (your "shit") should be voluntary at any point I think."
"It should be, but war isn't fair. Fighting isn't fair. It's not going to be fair. It's not going to be a rational decision if bullets are flying at you. At that point, it's a primal instinct, and you're going to do what you need to do to live."
"Maybe you to say... alright, maybe you don't have to say this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is true: That war helps societies function. That there are people who want to kill other people and want to enforce their will on another person."
"I totally agree with that."
"And to have those types of people go out of this country to do that to other people who want to force their will on other people, and kill each other? I don't know."
"I agree, but at the same time, military... culture."
"This is probably not a good conversation to be having at the VFW."
"Probably not. But maybe it's a good conversation to be having at a VFW. I think military culture is probably aimed towards that goal."
"What, killing each other off, or having long conversations at Veterans of Foreign Wars Bars?" (laughter)
"If all your soldiers were asking questions, why should I be doing this? Would there be any real action happening? Probably not. There probably wouldn't be."
"Well, that's what basic training tells you not to do."
"Well there it is. Your conscious state of mind is turned into the military's conscious state of mind. And their perogative. But then again, does that perogative help you? Or does it hurt you? Think if you were a military person right now over in the middle east thinking, "Should I really be doing this? Oh no, these people are awesome!” But then you’re trying to be the good samaritan and trying to change the world and all of a sudden, they push a button and you and ten of your friends die. That’s what I’m saying, I can’t elaborate or say anymore on this because I’m not there. I've learned it from my family and everybody else. I have these spectacular ideals that i want to live by, but you know what? As soon as I have a fucking gun pointed at my face, I'm not going to say a word. And that's why it's hard. I think that's why it's really hard."

V. Jenna, a film major and insane person.

"Can I say, "I can see Russia from my house!" (quoting Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin) (laughing)
"There you go."
"That's all i have to say. Have fun in basic training."

VI. Cody Arso

"Fuckin ruuun! And never look back.
Run run run. Run run run, run run.
Keep shooting bullets and run.
Away from the bullets.
Keep runnin'.
You don't even have to run as long as you get away.
Doesn't matter what it is, just run and get away.
And keep shootin' bullets."
"That's it?"

Guardian Article that's provocative.

This was posted by Bezdomny in reaction to a Guardian UK piece highlighting an interview with a biofuel plant worker you can see here. Apocalyptic thinking in our society intrigues me. You wonder what sort of effects it has on our worldviews.

Oct 27 08, 11:47am (about 6 hours ago)

If it makes any of you feel better, I recall getting a mass e-mail from an organization called exegesis about 10 years ago when I had first started university. In this newsletter the editor blamed Bill Clinton for the burning of black churches across America and later stated that Bill Clinton was the Antichrist. I argued with this individual for some time, mostly though I just asked him to provide sources for any of his information. Talk about screaming at a wall. I don't know if the organization is still around, but being a reformed agnostic who came from a fundamentalist Christian family, I can tell you that this mentality is deeply imbued with apocolyptic thinking. When I was a child I often feared that demons would take me away at night, we were told stories at church of demons dragging people off into the woods and if their faith wasn't strong enough they would not be spared. I was also told that if Jesus wasn't in your heart demons could posess you. As I got older I began to fear being left behind. The reason why that left behind series became so popular was because the idea was deeply, deeply ingrained in many American people and many secular movies also embrace the theme. Just imagine being 12 years old, your neighborhood is oddly quiet, a storm is brewing, the sky is overcast and dark and your mother, father and sister are all gone. Most people think, hmmm, they must of gone off somewhere and it's going to rain. I thought, holy fuck, I've been left behind because my faith wasn't strong enough. Honestly, living in Red State America is like living in a primitive world with modern conveniences, invisible forces are everywhere, governing your life, punishing and rewarding the wicked and righteous. You show any fundamentalist some national geographic special about tribal people in Africa, South America, Asia, etc. and they will life and think of the people as backwards although their mentalities are very similar. It is something akin to magical realism, although not the kind that Kafka invented.
Obama has no hope with these people, they have been artfully manipulated by the elites who control America, who conquer and divide the middle and lower classes through wedge issues like guns, gays and abortion. Social issues are popular because they galvanize people without affecting the actual structures of power. Whether or not abortion or gay marriage is legalized is of little concern to those in power, but if you start asking what is the legal or constitutional basis for the federal income tax, why does the Federal reserve actually charge interest on the money it prints, why do corporations have the same legal rights as individuals, why has the same magic wand of deregualation that has lead to the solvency crisis in our financial sector also been used to consolidate our media into the hands of a few multinationals, and why is shock and fear being used to reduce or constitutional rights (especially in regard to the 1st and the 4th). Every 4 years we are presented with 2 establishment guys and the generated fear and rhetoric of both parties makes us think that the actual policy differences are monumental. They are not. Both McCain and Obama support wiretapping without a warrant, both support violating Pakistan's sovereignty in order to hunt down Bin Laden, both falsely believe that the war against Georgia was started by Russia, and neither one of them will face up to the fact that our defense industry advertises with fear like other companines advertise with sex, buy Ax body spray so women will F@*k you, spend hundreds of billions of dollars on defense so you won't be F@*ked. I would tend to support Obama over McCain, as Chomsky said, in a system of immense power small changes can have huge implications, but that being said, I come from a country where a political moderate like Obama is seen as a socialist, a terrorist, an antichrist. What do you even do with that?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rough Day.

yeeeesh indeed.
i'm at work all alone this morning, because my coworker showed up with bleary blood-shot eyes and still drunk and the power goes out while I'm making coffee. Electronic locks in a power outage= no doors open.

i get locked outside of the hotel which i am the only one on duty.

so, i SPRINT to the only business i think might be open on a sunday mornin, (not thinking of atomic) which is the red raven. this is all during that fucking blizzard, too. i speak to eric meyer's parents who are outside the raven and they get him to come down. i try to 411 info my manager and owners phone numbers so somebody can bring a key to open up the hotel which has trapped its guests. they're both unlisted.
so now i sprint back to the hodo cause i'm thinking that i'm too far away from the place i work and there's a chance the power could come on any second. i stand on 1st ave n and whistle up at the hotel trying to get a guests attention to open the door.

ITS NOT WORKING. i bother some people standing outside the women's clinic for their cellphone and try to get the listing for one of the hotel guests. finally someone sees me and opens the door. i also continue to valet (SPRINTING back and forth from the radisson parking lot) 3 cars that morning and check 12 rooms out, while there is no power. finally, after about 2 hours, the power comes back on. did it go out for you too? tell me a story.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Wikipedia Watchlist.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Media-Hyper Day.

Circle Football. New-Age Sports?
Moped to South America. Rummaging through
Umeric, Digital Designer.
Ryan McGinley, still making beautiful nostalgic art.

All of these things helped distract me from my homework.

I thought Tom Waits dropped out of nowhere when I was in high school. I remember getting to college and seeing that Tom Waits was a pretty well-known guy. I had not frame of reference.

Something like this.

This is what I might like to emulate myself after, what this man has done.
He lives where his art and money meet. He's also incredibly talented.

Flash Site.

Dumb dinosaur.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reaction to "Journalism’s State of Emergency" by Sean Condon from the Adbusters 2008 Big Ideas Edition #75

Sean Condon is an elitist according to John Vivian, the author of my Intro. to Mass Comm. Textbook. That just means he regards pluralism as a utopian ideal, and thinks that the group of educated or privileged group of journalists has social responsibilities to uphold. Not the pejorative connotation of the word today meaning something like the individual thinks they’re more important than other people and puts themselves before others. Understanding this word and its two connotations, one political context and the other a journalistic context are crucial to keeping Condon’s pontifications underfoot.

Condon is right in saying that the climax of American journalism was Watergate. At least, a climax in the large media networks which most Americans tune into. It was a success, something to be registered on the credentials of print journalism. However sometimes Condon draws broad strokes. “The media’s success quickly made it bloated and cocky and in the 1980s it began to act less like a public trust and more like a business – selling its independence to promote the views of its advertisers.” Broadly sweeping past integral elements in the development of the modern climate of journalism. Like many things, the idea that modern mass media became bloated and cocky is more complicated than it seems. So many other elements go into a trend in a constantly changing, highly competitive industry. Things like professors, textbooks, public opinion, advertisers, company consolidation, markets, politics, as well as the general reliability of the field go into telling how a field gets “bloated and cocky”.

Poignant arguments were made elsewhere in the article. The quote by Robert W. Chesney from Urbana-Champaign was important to Condon’s elitist points. “It’s a social and political crisis. In the United States, our whole constitution is founded on the idea that there will be a viable press system so people have the necessary information to govern their lives. Without the press system, it makes a whole mockery of the constitutional system because people in power will know things that the population won’t.” The press should help uphold and facilitate equality, honesty, and information. Not to control information or content or distribution but to foster conversation and dialogue, which is a key element of our democratic process. Those exchanges of ideas and viewpoints are crucial to the press’s role in a healthy democratic system.

It is true (but a bit discouraging) that if the press will continue to exist in the future that newspapers will need to be affordable. The New York Times released its entire database to the public for free online and newspapers across the country have taken a punch in the gut from websites like Craigslist that offer free or low-priced classifieds which illustrates the proliferation of information the internet has brought about. Indeed, it has been the greatest single invention in human communication since Gutenberg came up with the moveable type printing press and most of the media hasn’t been able to keep up very well.

Condon’s is correct that Mother Jones, Harper’s and NPR are all producing some of the most important work in American journalism today along with many others. The thing that makes them stand out are their elitist view of the media’s role in society reflected in the poignancy, urgency, accuracy, and relevance of their content that’s not distracted or controlled by people (or media conglomerates) that have agendas other than being a service of integrity and a watchdog to power.

This is that article.

Reaction to Elizabeth Malkin’s article, "Mexico’s Court Limits Reach of Big Media" in the New York Times June 8th, 2007 Edition

Collusion, proliferation and disputing of how “Big Media” south of the US border takes it shape will need to be monitored and encouraged and aided as Mexico (as well as many other Latin American countries) continue developing. Since diversity and plurality are not promoted by duopolistic media initiatives, this Mexican Supreme Court voted the new “Televisa Law” unconstitutional.

Televisa, the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world has come under criticism for being especially light on the Institutional Revolution Party, which governs states in Northern Mexico, along the Gulf of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. Though there are many things being done to help stifle monopolization and duopolization in many parts of the region, COPPAL (Conferencia Permanente de Partidos Políticos de América Latina y el Caribe) is an important part of how Latin America (as well as other countries in the Caribbean) help facilitate communication between governments while giving “priority to the theme of sovereignty while at the same time supporting the establishment of a more just and equitable international order.” COPPAL and Mexico’s Supreme Court’s interests cross in the prevention of heavy media conglomeration and encouraging a democratic mass media.

Although the court only struck down one clause (allowing the broadcasters to offer Internet or telephone services over parts of the spectrum that would be freed up as they convert to digital programming.) this move by Mexico’s Supreme Court could be indicative of a change in how “Big Media” interacts and sometimes controls the developing nations to the South. Giving new authority to an antitrust organization in a developing country is always a good idea. It encourages more competition, creates more jobs and education and begins to create an atmosphere and appreciation around the plurality of ideas that are available to the citizens of the country.

The article's right here.

Hemingway's House

Hemingway's House
In Havana, Cuba.