Attention Whoring, Indignant

Thoughts of a Hardened Criminal III (There will only be IV)

The minute I was permitted to prison, I was pained by the possibility of public pooping.

I didn’t want to be the first occupier to occupy the half stall in the back of the cell, but I was aware that the two servings of yogurt that I had scarfed down to start the day were finding their way to the bottom of my large intestine. The farts that were sneaking out somewhat embarrassing, but I felt the farts were really just warnings of a more embarrassing situation. As I peed in anticipation of a more significant bathroom experience I noticed that there was no toilet paper sitting next to the toilet, but I didn’t want my last sentence in this paragraph to have a different form than the other two.

“Mic Check!” “We need to ask for some toilet paper.”

A few chuckles followed, but everybody knew I was deadly serious. A few people hugged me and told me that they were proud of me for speaking up.

This is what the Occupy Movement is about: reveling in the small victories that good communication affords us. We live in a world where shame rules our conversation – where we sometimes refuse to say what we want to say solely because we’re scared that people will be scared about the way we say it or the place we say it. Opinion is simply opinion – it isn’t fact. No one’s opinion is true. Just as no one’s opinion is false.

On my trip back to New York after Thanksgiving I found myself in Baltimore’s downtown just after I got off a bus looking for another bus that would take me out to a suburb where another bus that took me to NYC awaited me. As it was downtown in a major American city, there were people milling between the buildings – all with a better understanding of the public transportation of Baltimore than me. Instead I opted for trying to read maps that were new to me as my ride stopped and left. I called after Bus 35 to White Marsh, but it was too late. The next one was 20 minutes later. Just late enough to make me miss the third leg of my bus journey. Well, that was only half of it. The other half of it was that I got off three stops too early because I was too scared to ask… anything. I had overheard someone say they were going to White Marsh and just got off with them, but there were multiple stops in White Marsh and I was left with a 15 minute walk to catch up to where the bus would have taken me in 2 minutes. Once again I found myself unable to find the correct bus. It wasn’t until my third Magellanesque trip around IKEA I finally asked someone for directions. They quickly directed me toward my final leg and I was in New York 4 hours later.

My inability to create dialogue with my fellow man left me $23 poorer, an hour later, and a pound of sweat weaker.

Somehow in leaving New York I forgot what I had learned in my occupy days. I forgot to ask questions and listen for the answer. We do not live in this world by ourselves, so to think that we can solve the world’s problems by ourselves is absurd. We must work together.

Sometimes it is nice to be alone though. To allow yourself to think on your own can sometimes lead to positive results. Like this joke I thought of on my journey to the bus:

I think the existence of IKEA has to make us question the very fabric of our government, I mean now socialists are better at even capitalism.


Thoughts From a Hardened Criminal 2

The cop looks at the five of us standing – somewhat smiling – hands strapped behind our back – trying to force the monologues we have racing through our head into soundbites so that the reporter will quote us in their indy internet newspaper. He knows we’re human.

“You should be in the NBA.” he says to Jacob. Jacob is 6’5″ and tired of that statement. He never wanted to be pigeonholed into being a basketball player. You can tell by the look on his face. Or maybe he’s just tired from being arrested. It takes a lot out of you.

I spend most of my time in the occupy protests on the edge of the masses trying to talk to police officers to try to convince them that we are all human. They don’t respond because their freedom of speech has been infringed upon by their commanding officers who have their freedom of speech infringed upon by the commissioner who has his freedom of speech infringed upon by Mayor Bloomberg, but the cops can’t help but listen. I talk about sports, or food, or love. Not about the occupy wall street, or wealth inequality, or the right to peacefully assemble. They know I have thoughts on these issues, but they also need to know that I go home and eat tacos while I worry about my fantasy football team and worry that my girlfriend is ignoring my texts.

This is what the police officer is trying to do. He knows he’s arrested 5 people for irrational, immoral, and illegal reasons and wants us to know that behind the riot gear is a human who likes to joke around and wants to talk about sports, or food, or love.

But it’s not fair: Is how I immediately feel. We’re tied up – unable to gesticulate our feelings, and we’re scared that if we are to respond incorrectly further punishment will be enforced. When I try to joke around with the cops they still have the gun, baton, mace, and power and are therefore still able to respond.

But it’s not fair: Is what I realize after I write this. They’re hands are placed firmly on the baton that they have to hold out – unable to gesticulate their feelings, and they’re scared that if they are to respond incorrectly their boss will find punishment. When they try to joke around with us we have our full freedom of speech and are therefore still able to respond.

When Zuccotti Park was first closed and the police were forced to occupy it I was on the front lines again. I was standing next to a member of the National Lawyers Guild, crammed up against an unlawful barricade  next to a police officer.

“Can I joke around with you for a bit?” The NLG guy asked the woman with weapons.

“You can say whatever you’d like.”

“You’re from Brooklyn North, right? Because it says BNPD on your uniform.”


“Do you ever give the Brooklyn South Police shit for being the BSPD?”

She laughed at first then a fellow police officer whispered something in her ear and she turned to avoid eye contact and stopped responding. There is no weapon like the weapon of free speech.


The Thoughts of a Hardened Criminal

It smells like urine and I’m sitting uncomfortably on a seat made of what seems like hell – hardened. Surrounding me are depressed souls staring down at their own individual void as they wait until they are released. I want to go back. I wish I had never gotten into this box-of-sadness. I want to scream out “All day! All week!” but I know nobody will respond because I’m on the subway.

Seven hours earlier I was sitting with the same physical uncomfort at the back of the jail cell – near the toilets. Jacob, a fellow Mainer who had been arrested with me strolled back and sat on the floor.

“I keep drifting off, but immediately wake up in order to cheer.”

This is the refrain of my time here. I’m exhausted from being arrested, from being tossed to the ground, from only eating stale bread with stale cheese and stale mustard. But the second a new prisoner/brother enters our room, I cheer. I clap. I’m excited. Because it means there’s another person who wants to talk – who is interested in changing the society that we live in.

I served time talking to a boy who had to blackmail his way into an honorable discharge from the Iraq War because he refused to fight.

I served time in a discussion of how currency as a concept could be changed.

I served time singing listening to a man sing made up love songs out the little holes in our cell to the female officer on the other side.

I served time talking about how art can grow in an activist movement.

I served time talking about what the spring held for the Occupy Movement.

I served time chanting and clapping and hugging and laughing and giving twinkle fingers and and wishing that dude would just stop rambling.

I served time.

The attitude was never despair. We felt only excited that we were in this moment in history and we were together – together with a common mission. A mission to listen and learn. Each of us has something to say and it’s important to listen to everything you can listen to before a decision is made. You cannot stop discussion by putting that discussion in a jail cell.

You stop discussion by putting people in a subway with Angry Birds and tell them to not talk to strangers.

I say “We are..” under my breath and no one responds.

Media, My favorites, Selfish

My Therapeutic Review of Childish Gambino

My dad attacked me with his hypothesis. This is a sentence that could begin many of my stories, but in this one his hypothesis had clearly evolved from our previous conversation. Yet this conversation is new and, potentially, so mind expanding that you may feel pain from the thought of it. That’s the way conversations with my dad feel: like he’s constantly teaching you a new secret form of mind exercising that he, only now, at this exact moment, feels you are ready for – that you have finally proven to be competent enough for this burden. So, conversation from last night was fodder for mind altering conversation. He approached with his idea of “Genius vs. Talent.”

Talent was what conveyed ideas and Genius was where the ideas were from.

THUS: Childish Gambino. Aka: Donald Glover.

My dislike was born out of like. His taste was so great, and he was a vehicle of such            , but it felt like nothing was behind it. There was no human element. If the truth will set you free, than he was still enslaved by the shackles of his desired self-conception. He wanted to be Tyler the Creator meets Drake meets David Cross. Those are all people I wanted to be so I respected his desires, but with success comes a new formation of desire – a self reflection and understanding that one’s wants must change with one’s current situation. Donald Gambino was obviously talented, but his genius was in question.

Genius comes from a complete and honest awareness and explanation of who you are in your art.

That’s what I thought before. That’s what I assumed was the reason that Gambino’s music resonated hollowly – that I seemed to  echo back hatred. But Childish Glover kept performing his therapeutic self-controlled-self-awareness. And, in a sense, it kept getting better. It got more pointed and controlled. He understood who he was by analyzing who he was. But it was simply therapy. For him, and people who want to be him.

I was sitting shotgun in the car parked in our driveway and my dad turned off the car which turned off the CD of Beatles-Soundtrack-Remix-Cirque-de-Soliel album. I was back in Maine with my financial, artistic, and social tail between my legs. I wanted to make comedy, but didn’t know what that meant. I attacked him with a hypothesis. Art needs an audience, without an audience it was simply therapy. Not that there was anything wrong with therapy, but the lack of public display makes writing, painting, yelling, artistically expressing purely a therapeutic act. He responded with the appropriate defensiveness of a person who has a novel he’s never shared with his only son and has been editing and re-editing for 40 years.

Gambino, Childish is a self-therapist not an artist. I understand that he has an audience. A much larger audience than I have or will ever have. And that jealousy is an important part of my motivation for writing this. Art needs that audience because both audience and artist should be going on a journey of self discovery. CG/DG hogs that journey. He selfishly refuses the audience to join him in self-analysis by covering all basis of self-analysis himself. I say this in order to selfishly self-analyze my own feelings of jealousy toward a pop-icon that was born from New York sketch comedy. He refuses vulnerability/critique by self-congratulatory defenses of his past and future actions. He asks for constant pity in his constant response to the haters when he shouldn’t be fucking bitching because he’s accomplished all of his dreams. His raps are simply cover letters to apply to be your idol, and he seems to be getting the job.

I hated Aaron Kane, but respected him. In middle school I was a crybaby who would trip and fall emotionally every day. The response from my friends was to push me back down emotionally. Aaron always threw himself down before anyone could push him back down and by doing so everyone was satisfied because young boys are only interested in making all of their friends as miserable as possible, and yet he was in control. My response was simply to flail to point out that I had been pushed down because I thought everyone needed to be acutely aware of the actions they were making and supporting. It wasn’t fair that everybody laughed with Aaron and only laughed at me.

Death, Gender, Lonely, Math, Media, My favorites, race, Socialism

In Which I Qualitate/Quantitate

Don’t read this until you are ready to READ this. By that I mean, click on all links. You don’t have to read them, but they are an important part of the narrative. But do read the last link. It is the most important and is a news story and provides context.

c) I’m pretty sure that everything I think has been thought before.

That is simultaneously comforting and terrifying.

Often times our world is misled by what we think we think though. We then suffer under the great injustice that is our own misconceptions of ourselves. Specifically, the fact that 4 million more people watch Modern Family than The Middle. Both shows analyze the changing definition of the American dream, but one does it through shallow analysis of obvious xenophobia and one does it through thoughtful revelations about the inhumanity inherent in a capitalist society that refuses to empathize with struggle. Modern Family is a person who has not listened’s analysis, The Middle is someone who paid attention’s analysis.

1. I have had arguments with three people who have stated their frustration with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Each of them went like this:
Them: “I agree with what they’re saying, I just don’t know what they’re saying.”
Me: “Have you been down to Zuccotti Park?”
Them: “No” and a bunch of more words that don’t matter.

2. I have a belief that Taylor Swift is doing the more harm to American society than Lady Gaga – specifically that Taylor Swift is doing the most harm and Lady Gaga is doing the most negative harm (negative used in the mathematical sense). This belief is challenged often. Typically those conversations go like this:
Me: “Don’t ask, don’t tell would have been repealed 3 years earlier if it weren’t for Taylor Swift.”
Them: “That’s ridiculous” They’re right “Lady Gaga isn’t even saying anything. She’s just the same mindless pop that we’ve had forever.”
Me: “Have you heard her new album?”
Them: “Um..” and a bunch of defensive lies about how they have an appropriate sample size that don’t matter.


2. Frankie Heck – Patricia Heaton’s character on The Middle is a true hero of the Michael Moore union version of socialism. She is a lighthouse that shines light through all the cracks in the American Dream. Hard work equals hard work, but having money equals having money. Surrounding her is pain and suffering that is solely the gift of a desire for things she is told she deserves. And yet this could all be solved with a simple sharing of some wealth. It doesn’t need to be opportunity because we don’t all need to the freedom to try. We need the freedom to succeed. And success is not defined by being in the 1%. Then only 1% of us, necessarily succeed. I aim for 100%.

I like to play a game called turn concepts into rants for socialism in as few sentences as possible.

Indignant, Socialism

Occupy, In Which I Say…

b) I’m tired of our forced hatred of numbers. As artists, numbers are the enemy, right? They make emotion seem irrelevant, right? They make people seem like quantities, right? Wrong, they allow us to see the world in a way in which analysis becomes possible. Analysis without numbers is not analysis – it’s speculation.

Here’s some numbers:

There are 11,000 people who are considered to be a part of the wealthiest 0.01% of Americans.

The poorest of that group of people makes $8,579,000 a year.

The average person in that group makes $35,473,200 a year.

Now, let’s let emotion creep in. Specifically the emotion of empathy.

44,000,000 Americans make less than $36,000 a year

Does anyone really need to make more than 8.5 million a year, when almost half of our country lives on $3000 a month? What’s the point in that? What good is their 9th or 10th million doing? Is it actually incentivizing anybody to let millionaires keep their 12th million dollar?

If we took all of the money that people make past 8.5 million dollars per year and gave it to the government that would give us $295,836,200,000. That’s without raising any current taxes, just taking away any money that anybody makes past 8.5 mill in a year. At 8.5 you get cut off. We only implement a new tax – I call it “The Max Tax.”

If we brought that cut off down to the top 0.1% income earners – in other words the top 110,000 people in America in terms of money made – the cut off would be at $1,532,400. It would also bring in $686,891,700,000 (aka: the bank bailout – aka: the money we gave to the people in this income bracket).

If we split that money evenly between the bottom half of America’s income earners, we would be giving them each $12,488.94.

I’m not suggesting we do that, but we should do that.


comedy, Gender, Indignant

Where I Say Things Over Again

a) Comedy, Women

The greatest trick the devil ever played was not convincing a bunch of assholes that Kevin Spacey’s performance in The Usual Suspects is hands down the greatest acting performance that has ever fuckin’ happened, it was convincing people to argue about whether or not women are funny. I once got in an argument with a sadly misinformed friend who was claiming that men were funnier than women on average and I defended my opinion by using this graph:

I was wrong. So wrong. I was trying to say that there are a group of people that are super funny and they are evenly distributed between men and women, and below that are just people forced to be where they are on the funny line by social construction. Funny isn’t so continuous. It’s a word. Either funny or not. It’s binary.

90% of laughter is forced because we feel it socially demanded of us. This is the true construction that keeps this argument going. All the people below that dotted line do not deserve to be laughed at, but we have decided that it is important that women laugh and men get laughed at (e.g. All Sitcoms). Therefore we force laughter when we see a man do something that we know he thinks is funny and we force criticism when a woman tries the same thing. Stop forcing laughter.

My favorites, Nostalgia

Nisse Goes To Rural

The back of my woods seems like a safe place to write. Had I artistic intentions as a adolescent this is where I would have wrote. I should make up for lost time. I used to read out here. I once ran neck first into a newly installed electric fence because King Arthur’s journeys were so enthralling. The tree I sit in now was the homebase of my reading adventures. I had built ladders up to branches of the tree. By “I” I mean Alf, my mother’s father, Morfar. By ladders I mean that on one side is a series of skinny tree trunks nailed together to look like set dressing for a movie about gnomes. Hanging from the other side is a rope and two by four creation that could easily act as a 4th grade science project explaining the pulley in an interesting way for fellow classmates of the wilderness academy. The project would have gotten a C+.

This tree became a key point in my detour walk created in defiance of the concept of paths. This detour was not created by me, but co-opted by me in a self deprecation act of declaring equality to animals. An act that correlates to deer droppings lining the path in front of me as I mount the gnome ladder.

It’s an animal trail and it sucks, but it meets up with the real trail, surrendering its usefulness to an overgrown fern path surrounded by a thicket of maple, birch, and cedar all on the verge of death. I’m walking down the hallway of a retirement community for poor trees, but upon collapse they serve nicely as bridges that might be accidental. I know they were stacked next to each other over boggy areas as protection for a traveler’s feet, but without that knowledge, an outside viewer might question the concept of coincidence as these fallen trees seem to create a perfect path across moss. How beautiful is nature that even the members of its collective who’s life ceases to exist maintain their worthwhileness? An ignorant but well meaning wilderness wanderer would remark at the sight of these purposely placed bridge-trees. In front of me is the environment of discovery, centered around what looks like a the ruins of a sad native tribe, one who consisted on berries and their salamander recipe known only to he four archaeologists who studied these people and the twenty annoyed friends who had to bear through stories of the ingenuity of the extinct tribe whenever salamanders were brought up in conversation. Luckily that was rarely.¹

I know this to be my 7 year old version’s attempt at a fort. My mom probably helped me build it. She’s from a tribe of Swedes whose ingenious methods of putting wood together comes from a poverty induced lack of childhood toys and a rural induced plethora of childhood trees. The roof has caved in, in what would sprained the ankle of one of its three inhabitant if this truly were an archaeological discovery that I was in the midst of.

I scream.

The scream was not blood curdling, but it was the type of scream that you wouldn’t put in your blood because just by smell you could tell it might curdle. It was the type of scream you’d only use if it were too late to buy other screams and you only had beer and blood cereal in the house and it was just not the type of blood cereal that you ate dry.

The scream was because of a frog. The frog had leapt into my path, and then out of my path. A path that I had considered too mainstream as a 10 year old and had to create a detour homed a frog.

In Brooklyn, the home I now call home a man walked across 4th ave into the establishment at which I barista. I barista because I’ve baristad – a past tense verb that does not imply that I know how to spell the correct past tense verb to describe my former and current employment. The man was spewing both in literal act and in reference to the vitriol with which a racist diatribe came out of his mouth. Also possibly in reference to the way in which he attempted to pay for a small coffee with an assortment of change from his pocket. He was $0.15 short, but the $0.15 was a small price to pay to help a man full of spew get on with his day and life and therefore get out of my day and life as quickly as possible. I didn’t scream.

1. Adverbs!

Attention Whoring, comedy, Indignant, Lazy, My favorites, Pathetic, Selfish

Honesty: My Excuse

I’m often reassured that I’m the only one that enjoys myself. The mirror is the only audience I respect because it is the only audience that reacts appropriately to my misfortune. I see myself as powerless not because I aspire to be the victim, but because I aspire to fit in with the majority’s perception.

These oversimplifying statements of self deprecation mixed with self pleasure aimed at analyzing my neuroses are necessary cathartic lies.

After every sentence I want to stop writing because it feels like saying anything more would be giving too much away – taking away the journey that a reader has the opportunity to go on and making them see what you see as an author, as a creator of this story that you are supposed to paint a picture of because you have taken up the responsibility of leading this audience and asked to be paid attention to – to take time away from others’ lives in order to participate in your own because you believe your’s to be far superior, at least for the time being, and with that great demand comes great obligation to maintain enjoyment, but isn’t giving them, the audience, an invitation to join you as the creator the most selfless way to enjoy an art with someone? Probably not.

I ask myself stupid questions about when form and message intersect because I’m a stupid person with stupid thoughts. My answer is always that they do, but typically it is not a premeditated desire. In my case it is nearly always an accident. I’m still pleased with the result.

My work is almost always reddild with mistakes. ecause I only want to write about what I’m writing aboute. I start feeling dishonest when I’m presented art that has been edited. If that art is about me, ten it must be about me. I typed this entrie paragraph with my eyes losed.

Mrs. McIntire was my typing teacher in high school. Later she would become the vice principal for a year, but for now she only taught typing – a class where maintaining a watchful eye over child-soldiers completing mindless, useless tasks is your only duty. I was and am a good typer (or typist depending on which one is correct) and was/am able to complete my tasks at such a speed that large portions of class time would be/are dedicated to me finding other ways to occupy my time besides staring at completed assignments. This led to the game Wiz3. Whose instructions read/read: Guide Wizio the Wizard as he journeys through a magical land. Collect the potions as you go to create spells that will help you on your way. Use the keys to enter locked doors and hidden treasures. Throw the levers to get to reveal new routes and bonuses. It was a great game that I played/play well and played/play loudly. I liked/like perceiving the anger Mrs. McIntire directed towards my playing loudly as jealousy towards my playing well. That made/makes the competition more fun. She won/wins of course. She was/is the teacher. She instituted/institutes a rule wherein every time a student finished an assignment she would have to check over their entire homework before they could play games. Those two minutes of class where she would be/is hunched over my shoulder breathing in my oxygen displaying my total inability for full control were the worst two minutes of school every day.

I struggle with tense often in my writing, which I think is because I’m never sure whether I’m reliving by writing or perceiving by writing. My biggest struggle with writing is which version of myself am I. Since I can only comprehend the idea of writing through a self-manufactured lens that looks upon myself, my goal becomes to bend the funhouse mirror in a new and interesting shape. It’s selfish: the inability to focus the mirror elsewhere, but focusing it elsewhere sounds mean. Maybe that person doesn’t want to see themselves in a funhouse mirror. I’ll take the bullet. The selfish bullet.

I worry that humans won’t exist when I die, but that’s only because I define humans as me.

Math, Socialism

Why Math Can Save Me From Having Babies

I liked how math was always a discovery and never an invention. I preferred when people say that Newton “discovered” Calculus as opposed to Newton “inventing” the mathematical system. Discovery implies that this system of numbers and operations was inherently true in our world, but had not yet been found until Newton started drawing graphs. Mathematicians were talked about like explorers – they were Magellans of the mind – and that seemed cool.

That’s what I wanted to do.

I wanted to be an old timey explorer with a couple brass’n’glass instruments that helped me draw maps of the new islands I discovered filled with animals and plants that I discovered, but the more school I went to, the more I felt like everything on the globe had been discovered. Our world was finite – even if we hadn’t discovered every island or every canyon or every tributary, soon we would. But in Math! In math the exploration was unending – numbers were infinite. They were the first thing that was ever infinite. But to me it wasn’t just numbers. It wasn’t just adding, subtracting, and super-exponenting. To me it was about ideas. Mathematicians were explorers discovering new ideas and then sharing them with the world. They found how numbers worked and then they told everybody without patenting or protecting because these ideas could be used bye everybody to further new ideas.

This is where my issue with intellectual property comes in.,. As a struggling, starving, strangely shaped artist, I obviously believe that I should be paid for what I do, and more importantly have a say in how my art is presented because, after all, it’s MY art. But the idea of art is that it is a way to inspire ideas – that it is ideas, and how can you claim ownership over ideas? Don’t they just exist in the ether and someone was smart enough to discover them? How can one hold back idea from the rest of the world? What right do I have as an artist to do that?

Maybe I don’t believe in invention. Maybe I think of invention as the literal creation of tangible objects – the assembly line worker is closer to the inventor than the idea man.  Discovery is still important, but we have this cultural fetish with inventing. Inventing is a more tangible thing to pay someone for. This is why capitalism fails. Ideas are not sellable because ideas are not created. They are found. It’s rude to discover something and then sell it.

Magicians buy tricks. They spend uncomfortably large sums of money on a trick at a magic shop that they then perform in front of people without telling them how they are doing it. This insures that people will keep coming back to them to see the trick. This insures that they can be the government that regulates their own economy.

We need to stop living like magicians. If we live like magicians, we’ll never get male birth control.