RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Monday, July 29

what I read in bed last night

Today's cavalcade of links is depressing, and yet uplifting, or at least I hope so. Individual results may vary.

WILDCATTING: A STRIPPER'S GUIDE TO A MODERN AMERICAN BOOMTOWN from stupid Buzzfeed
Perhaps this has already made the circles with you, but if not, you should check it out. All too often in our condemnation of the corporate kleptocracy, we tend to dwell on shit like the environment or how the earth will be unlivable and shit like that. But forget the future - in the here and now, for most everybody who breaths oxygen and is an upright human being (in physical sense, not moral sense), life can be a pain in the ass. And the wonderful promises made by the Demon Beasts of Capital very rarely add up in the end.
Williston, North Dakota, freaks me out. I was contemplating a bus trip out there earlier this year, just to vibe on the vibe, because I know a few people who have justified to themselves working there. And this article by this stripper chick is a good example of that as well. She was drawn by money. (By the way, any overarching condescension displayed by me the curmudgeon known as Raven Mack, is in no way a negative perspective on this article - this is one of the more enjoyable reads I've had in months, and it's always nice to read a writer that I don't think I'd want to stab in the fucking laptop if I sat across a kitchen table from them.) She was in the trenches of trying to make money in an American way, albeit along the edges of what is acceptable and proper. The thing is, pretty much all of us are operating along the edges of what is acceptable and proper. And the fact this article does nothing with regards to arguing against fracking or corporate systems, and just lays out the realities of getting by as a stripper in Williston, it's a much stronger argument against capitalism. We're all spinning our wheels nowhere. And the author is right - the CEOs of these corporations extracting oil will never live in North Dakota; they'll never have corporate headquarters in Bismarck; this is an extrapolation of resources that will tax the area (literally at times, figuratively mostly), then leave it a battered mess. It's like a game of musical chairs, but as an economic policy, as all these people roll in looking for easy work, many get it, and at some point the shit will dry up and boomtown will go bust, and there's going to be a sad batch of fuckers stuck in North Dakota, begging for bus fare back to parts unknown. The author is right (her name is Susan Elizabeth Shepherd, by the way, and she's some sort of stripper blogger) - this is more like the Grapes of Wrath than people would have you believe. This whole fucking deal is exactly like the Grapes of Wrath, and it's getting more like the harshest parts of that book every month.
Economic indicators keep telling us shit is kosher - profits are way up and consumer confidence (aka desire to use consumer credit) is on the upswing like a motherfucker. But actual people - if you bother talking to them - are kinda fucked right now. People are pretty fucking tight at the time. Perhaps you are tight right now; I know I fucking am. Stretched thin, and one bad accident is gonna fuck my family right over. This is the actual American way - living check to check, hand to mouth, and hoping the worst doesn't happen. If it does happen? Oh well, you probably won't have internet any more so nobody will know about you.
It also is interesting to note how the stripper is already losing its luster by the time the public knows about Williston, or has seen the CNN story where strippers allegedly (meaning no they don't) make $3000 a night simply stripping. This is the nature of what we live - prospectors and those tapped into what's going on (often times in nefarious ways) get in on things in the beginning, and by the time the public is made aware of it, it's already peaked and shit is going downhill. Look at Facebook stock. Shit, look at Facebook. Look at anything. If you are not tapped in so as to know beforehand, you will find out afterward, and you will be fleeced, chasing last year's American dream. Or you will be crushed by it moving onto the next thing.
There is this accepted notion commonly used by our leaders that when you allow for economic growth, those who build that growth and are the corporate structures that benefit from it happening then spread the wealth and "create jobs" that give the rest of us great benefits to our weekly lives. We all allegedly (meaning we don't) have an overall increase in our quality of life by these job-creators and economic heavyweights. Any maybe that's how it happened at one point - I don't know, I only live at this point - but that's not what happens nowadays.
Look at this shit...

A SHUFFLE OF ALUMINUM, BUT TO BANKS, PURE GOLD from The New York Times
In a nut shell, this article lays out how investment groups bought up aluminum companies, sat on aluminum, shuffle it between warehouses in Detroit, and drove up the price, all of which happens unnecessarily but creates billions in additional wealth, spread paper thin across the entire planet, so that when it's a tenth of a cent per aluminum can, the individual doesn't notice it. This is called skimming, and it does nobody any good, at least no living person, other than those sitting at the top of the pyramid scheme called capitalism as it is known in 2013. These efforts are expanding into our mineral resources, and were a major contributor to food price spikes a few summers ago. In fact, similar hoarding of the seed industry by Monsanto has led to rising food prices rather than increasing efficiency and making everything more plentiful for everybody. I understand making an honest dollar off what you are adding to the overall pile of bricks called civilization, but when you get into establishing rules of law and ways of doing things that don't actually add to the overall pile of bricks, and instead are shaving an unfair sliver off of everything, simply because you have figured out how you can, well that's not right. And again, illegal and legal have little to do with right and wrong at this point, and there's a lot of wrong shit happening legally, and a lot of right shit being outlawed, all so some corporate citizen motherfuckers can fleece the fucking human race of their abstract wealth built off the plunder of the earth ball's limited resources.
"But wait Raven Mack, these rich assholes give back to us in many ways, and aren't actually rich assholes but great men of vision who help out all the rest of us." Oh yeah, motherfucker? Well look at this op-ed piece by Warren Buffett's (he's the rich old dude who knows everything and is tapped into it all more than anybody else who makes themselves publicly known) son...

THE CHARITABLE-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX also from The New York Times
Basically, charity makes the ultra-wealthy feel better about their ultra-wealth by fooling themselves into thinking they are making things better for the less fortunate. And ultimately, whether you are signing up to work in North Dakota oil boom or a billionaire giving out a couple of inner-city scholarships, we are all trying to justify the fucked up ways we make money. I mean, that's what it comes down to. We've been completely pushed into this philosophy of capital at this point - because even if there are people flying different flags, the Russian oligarchs or new Chinese businessmen or whoever is considered an alternative to American capitalism, they are all buying into (pun intended) the same philosophical system of wealth and how it is distributed (or not). It's fucking weird.
Real talk: when I was a house painter, I ended up going into business for myself because I had a ton of work to do at John Kluge's Virginia estate. Mr. Kluge was at one point the wealthiest man on Earth, and even at that point he was still high as fuck on the list. I met him a number of times, and was very impressed by him, even in his old age. He was not an outright evil person, and thus, he did a ton of philanthropic work with his money. In fact, in his death, that's where most of it went. But he still was rich beyond any human necessity, and I can imagine might have found philanthropy as a way to potentially do something with all that money just laying around breeding itself into more money like abstract rabbits in a vaulted hutch.
The help - meaning contractors like myself as well as estate staff - were regularly cycled at his place, and that tends to be the case, because the wealthy assume the non-wealthy are trying to take advantage of them. And they're right a lot of times. The reason I did well for myself before the economy bottomed out was I tended to be honest. I charged more than most painters, but I did complicated work (as complicated as painting a fucking house can get, granted) and could be trusted. Still though, I had to work my ass off in order to make money. Hustling was easier. Hiring a few dudes to work where you bill more than you pay, and you also make money off the completion of projects, that makes more money. But the quality was less, so I never could roll that way. And thus if I wasn't working, I wasn't making money. It was honest, but it wasn't the American dream.
As a worker, whenever I'm not working for myself, I assume my employer is taking advantage of me. And I'm right a lot of times. The business of business is to make money off of everything, increase the efficiency of how shit works so that you can smoothly skim off the process. If you can shave a nickel and two dimes off of material costs, you make that as profit. If you can shave half a dollar off labor costs, that becomes profit, according to our thinking now. That does not get returned in lower cost any more. The price of gas went up astronomically after Hurricane Katrina. The price of gas after Hurricane Katrina is still cheaper than it is today, or where it's been at its lowest in the past six months. There's a reason corporate profits are higher than ever - they've squeezed nickels and quarters off processes and dollars off labor, and the price has not fallen. On top of this you have speculation and profiteering by investment groups that make the price even more arbitrarily northward. It's fucked up.
So philanthropy is basically the perverted capitalism version of socialism. The wealthy give back to the poor through charitable deeds, instead of everybody having what they need to start with. The wealthy take all they can, and then look around them to see where shit is most fucked-up, and then hand out some token payments to make those things more improved, though still broken, and get their name on something associated with good.
Peter Buffett is very right in this op-ed piece when he says we don't need a 2.0 or 3.0 of this system - we need something completely new. This shit is fucked. But we still try to convince ourselves that we can progress our way out of how fucked up it is...

O.K., GLASS: CONFESSIONS OF A GOOGLE GLASS EXPLORER from The New Yorker
So what has bothered me a ton after this whole Edward Snowden leak thing is how people are clamoring to be living in a benevolent panopticon. How so many people have been so trained to be afraid of a non-existent terrorist threat that will dirty bomb all your babies forever that we willingly cheer on being watched, and even manipulated (propaganda being disseminated by government was legalized on American soil for first time starting July 1st, although with the blurred lines between corporate influence over government and corporate media's influence over people, it can probably be argued this has already been going on... still though, giving themselves legal approval to do things makes them less self-stifled in how they do it).
This Google glass article is no different, and honestly, fuck this guy. I know he's being clever and whimsical and shit, but fuck him, and fuck what he's doing, and fuck Google. This is a process of making self-surveillance seem cool and trendy. In fact, there's even a Cuban lady in the article taking part in the fun of using Google glass so that you can contrast that with the real evil of having lived in oppressive evil ass Cuba. Fuck these suggestions and insinuations and straight up propaganda. I know this is a real author and all he wrote about is most likely real shit that happened, but being it COULD be straight up propaganda but is real doesn't mean it's not fucked up. We are basically being conditioned to accept our own stifling ass, domesticated ass, wage slaving ass, bullshit. We are being trained to think being stifled and domesticated and operating hand to mouth is a great thing, and we should wear fucking CCTV cameras on our forehead and gladly not only live in the panopticon but be a living breathing snitch as part of that eyeball. Fuck that. Mother fuck that.
But hey, people know the deal I guess. It's easy to feel lost and crazy with the way the world is full-court pressing up upon our collective hearts, but there are comrades. And even though there's a lot of banter in this thing, check this out...

QUESTION IN THE FORM OF AN ANSWER: AN INTERVIEW WITH RUN THE JEWELS from Passion of the Weiss
Run the Jewels is Killer Mike and El-P, and though I've had stylistic qualms with El-P over the years, I enjoy what these two are doing together. And reading this interview, I enjoy the mental make-up of the two dudes doing what they are doing together. There's a ton of great parts to this interview, from both guys, so I just suggest you read it (which is the point of all these article links anyways). But between these guys, and the stripper writer in the first article, I feel a little at ease even amidst the worry that, you know what, motherfuckers recognize the bullshit. People will always recognize the bullshit, no matter how hard the bullshit propagators try to explain away your doubts. You can fool most of the people for a little while, but you can't fool them forever. You can engineer diet and media and systems of propaganda and patriotism to have them believe the unbelievable and unsustainable and non-true for a long ass time, but people - by way of living their life and seeing the real every day shit they see - realize when you are full of shit. And a lot of people realize what's going on right now is full of shit, even if we can't put our finger on it more specifically or even figure out a way to do anything about it. You don't have to do anything about it in any grandiose way though. Just live your life as right as you can. Don't justify bullshit actions on your part as making a dollar to do something else. Don't complicate your morality to incorporate immoral behavior that is justified by a more complicated long-term plan where the ends justifies the means. The ends doesn't justify the means. The means could be the ends, none of this is permanent, and what you are doing today is who you are. If you don't like it, do it different. Today, even if only in little ways. Unfuck the world however you can.

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