4. BEATBEAT WHISPER / 5. THE OLYMPIA ALL AGES PROJECT / 6. HIDARI / 8. SUPPORTING LOCAL AGRICULTURE / 9. COMICS NIGHT @ DANGER ROOM / 10. PEAK OIL / 12. POWER TOOL DRAG RACING / 13. OUR ♥ FOR YOU / 14. MORE THAN A FEELING / 18. JOKER AS NEITZSCHE / 19. OLYMPIA ♥’S WEIRD AL / 20. POETRY & FICTIONS / 21. SHOOTING AT MYTHS / 22. D. DELANO FLASK / 23. ENVY
CONTRIBUTORS: Chelsea Baker, nicki sabalu, Charlie Daugherty, orion moon, Andrew Ebright, Casey Jaywork, Otis Pig, Jason Slotkin, Samuel P. Sloane, Erin Birgy, Julius Martin, Seth Vincent, Erin Tanner, Sarah Macaulay, Becca Taplin, Samantha Sermano.
3 New Zine Collection in Olympia Reference Librarian Kelsey Smith is sharing her love for zines in a big way. After months of diligent organizing by Smith and zine-loving allies, a new zine collection was brought into circulation at the Olympia Timberland Library this past Spring. Zines can be checked out for three weeks at a time. For more information on the collection, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the library’s reference desk at 313 8th Ave. SE. Food Co-op Forms in Spokane West Main Street is home to numerous community treasures including the recently resurrected Magic Lantern Theater, Thin Air Community Radio, and a family of grassroots organizations hosted in the appropriately named Community Building. Soon, the newly forming Main Market Co-op will become a neighborly
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addition. In its future location of 17 W. Main, the co-op will provide a space for local farmers and vendors to sell their goods and a “community table” for members to meet. To learn more, visit www.mainmarket.coop. Free Herbal Care For Olympia is Forthcoming Local botanical and alternative medicine enthusiasts are coming together to “offer education and personal health consultation free of charge.” Operating under the fiscal sponsorship of Done & Done, the clinic will “serve to empower people to take charge of their own health by making low/no-cost natural medicines available” to community members. Find out more by emailing email@example.com. ~ nicki sabalu
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THE FINGER and transcribe into notes and words as accurately as possible. We write music that we want to be hearing.
by nicki sabalu Tapping toes on a rare sunny afternoon in Olympia, I was introduced to the music of Ayla and Davyd Nereo. With a slight but endearing buzz carrying from their microphones to my headphones as we gathered to record a performance at our community radio station, their voices easily persuaded admiration for their musical project, Beatbeat Whisper. Proceeding their recent travels along the West Coast, I was delighted to ask them about their music and their history. The following questions were answered collectively by Ayla and Davyd. The Finger: You’ve mentioned that you grew up together in a musical family. What kind of musical endeavors were family members involved with as you were growing up? Beatbeat Whisper: Our brother Falcon was in a band for a long time, called Mom’s A Hippie, so I think that opened up music as something we could pursue, it was a normal element, like drum circles at family gatherings. Our parents really encouraged us towards music, we had a big basket of instruments and a piano, and there was always good music
on, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, Dire Straits, Beethoven... When did you begin writing music together? We both grew up playing a lot of music around the house, but not much together... Davyd started writing and performed an original song with his first band during his senior year of high school, then continued writing, recording, and playing with friends through college. Ayla wrote piano compositions when she was young, but didn’t write songs again until she got a guitar in college. Then one rainy night we wrote a song together at home and submitted it to a college music compilation. When it got picked, we realized we had to play more than one song for the performance! So we learned some of each other’s songs really quickly. In this whole process we decided to be a band, ‘cause it just made sense and we were having fun. How would you describe the music that you make together as Beatbeat Whisper? Sometimes if feels like a mash-up of little pieces of inspiring songs we’ve heard, folksongs and ‘60s-rock, and some kind of mathematical synopsis of classical sonatas... but usually we’re just trying to listen,
Ayla, a tiny dragonfly told me that you were once afraid of singing? What helped you to become more comfortable with singing and sharing your music? When I was little I somehow got into my head that I was tone-deaf and no one was telling me. So I never sang much. But then in college I was learning guitar, and a friend and I went to Davyd’s and we all got drunk and recorded music together, and the next day they played it back and said “Ayla, you never told us you could sing.” So it was mostly because of that nice little uninhibited playing, and the encouragement I got from them and others about singing. In general, the encouragement I had from friends and family really pushed me to sing out my true voice, that gave me so much confidence to keep playing and writing music. What is the story behind the name of your new album, Wonder Continental? The Wonder Continental is a recurring theme/train/idea that has been in two or three songs that I’ve written (plus a drawing), and we both liked the words for an album name. As the songs came together, the train image and what it stood for in song became more relevant in relation to the tracks on our album. So the name came about before the album itself, but sort of grew into a full meaning for all of the songs it represents. Your new album has help from many musical friends – how did these collaborations come about? We met so many wonderful musicians around Santa Cruz and the Bay area, and have been so lucky because they offered to help us record songs or lay down drums or bass on songs. Our good friend Brian plays cello, and recorded on a few tracks of the album. It was so beautiful we stole him and made him tour LA with us. We are always trying to capture the many sounds that we hear when writing songs, so when someone offers to play trumpet or violin,
THE FINGER we’re so excited! It’s really amazing to get to collaborate on music with others. Are there new projects in the works? Yes! Right now we’ve been playing a lot, just finished our Northwest tour, the album’s finished... and already there are plans for the next Beatbeat Whisper album. Then we both have our own solo projects, to share the other songs we’re always writing that don’t make it onto Beatbeat Whisper albums. Davyd plays in a band called That Blasted Hound, and has released two full-length albums, The things we know how to love, and Tingling arms and the scars in the fog, as well as the Towards the land of Jennifer EP. Ayla released Play me a Time last year, and is currently finishing recording her next full album, Floating Felt. Always more to come... What inspires you most about your community in Oakland? There are so many people around us living their own lives in a genuine way, and then welcoming us into that. People finding out for themselves what they believe in, what it means to be a human interacting
5 with this planet. People seeing what is possible, and creating art and life out of that. It is continually inspiring. Davyd, I’ve been listening to a fabulous mix you’ve made, Throwing Rocks at a Honey Hive. What’s been motivating you to make and share mixes? I’m glad you liked it! Throwing Rocks was my idea of a way to bring on tour the music my friends in Oakland have been making, without each of their CDs. I recorded most of it in my living room in one elongated afternoon. The name came about during the recording process because there was natural sound elements (doors, footsteps, street noise, etc.) that everyone thought worked well with the timing in the recordings, so it was kept. All of these musicians are doing things I admire and I wanted to connect our music community with musicians and friends along our northward path, and I think it worked out well. I hope that people liked what they heard and were encouraged to come to play with us as well as our friends in the East Bay.
What did you enjoy most about your recent travels along the West Coast? It was amazing to meet such good people in all the places we went, generous and kind people being honest to themselves. I learned so much from each place we visited. And being among the forests and mountains and oceanside... the West Coast seems endlessly beautiful. When you were in Olympia, did you drink from the Artesian Well? Heck yeah! We filled up two big jugs for later. You guys will never go thirsty! That’s so awesome. Legend says that if you drink from the Artesian Well, you can never quite escape Olympia forever. Thankfully, the water is on our side and Beatbeat Whisper shall be destined to return. To learn more about Beatbeat Whisper, visit beatbeatwhisper.com or take a listen to their song on the Finger Finger Comp Comp CD. You can also learn about their solo projects at www.aylanereo.com and myspace.com/thatblastedhound.
Olympia All Ages P r o j e c t For at least a year, downtown Olympia has been lacking a consistent all-ages venue. Mariella Luz of K Records is about to fix that. “Back in April I was at a Mount Eerie and Why? show at the VERA project. I was chatting with Phil (from Mt. Eerie) and Kevin Erikson from the Department of Safety in Anacortes – and we were talking about how Olympia didn’t have an all ages venue,” said Luz in an email interview. “There have been lots of good ones over the years but there isn’t one at the moment.” The Eagle’s Hall and the Midnight Sun still do occasional shows, the Black Front Gallery held all-ages shows for a short time but is now being replaced by a shoe store, the Manium had an increasingly inconsistent presence up until about a year
by Seth Vincent
ago, and the Yes Yes has been closed down for a number of years. “We were all talking about how stupid that is because Olympia has historically been such a musical town and we don’t get many touring bands to come through anymore. We agreed that someone needed to do something about it,” said Luz. “The next day I decided that would be me.” Currently given the working title Olympia All Ages Project, Luz and crew are looking for a space to use, a real name for the venue, and eventually, volunteers. “Painting the walls, hanging art shows, working the door, doing sound. The venue will be completely volunteer run for at least the first couple of years,” said Luz. “The most exciting thing for me is to see how so many others in our town are excited by this project. I have had people
come up to me on the street and introduce themselves and tell me they want to get involved. That just blows me away.” Catch irregular updates on the Olympia All Ages Project at olyallages.wordpress. com. A number of benefit shows are being held before the venue opens.
GO TO THESE SHOWS: Oct 1 - Bright Black Morning Light and guest - @ Eagles Hall Ballroom Oct 4 - LAKE, Desolation Wilderness @ The Big Room Oct 16 - Good Luck, Paul Baribeau, Bridge and Tunnel and Kickball - @ the ABC House Nov 5 - Guy Blackman, Opaon - (hopefully this one will be in our venue! but if not) @ The Art House
Bands from other Lands: It’s a Hidari! In a downtown city sprawl lies the coastal city of Kobe, Japan. Across the street from a convenience store and up a spiral staircase is a lounge where the sounds of something unique linger. Sometimes these resonances can be heard on the street in ill-shaped stone-covered parks. Wherever heard, the band Hidari is sure to follow. Some of their songs, although seemingly shallow, have deep and rich soundscapes that pull the listener in with their smooth lyrics and atmospheric tunes. Driven by rock music foundations, the songs have a bite that doesn’t falter even on top of the synths and catchy sound effects. The band consists of three members: Hiroshi Ohta, guitarist and vocalist; Daisuke Kozuki, bassist; and Justin Bacon, known in Japanese as the Mecha, or producer of beats and sounds. Having formerly lived in Olympia, Justin is the band’s newest
by Charlie Daugherty member, and his foreignness is occasionally exploited as one of the selling points or novelties of the band. Although this is mostly a promotional contrivance, you can find Justin ejecting random gibberish in English as onlookers stare in fascination. Justin is also the pioneering individual introducing the band to an international audience. They can be found stomping Internet playgrounds like MySpace, Last.fm, and thesixtyone. You can also find them at their website, hidaridesu.com. Recently, I had a chance to do an email interview with the band, highlighted as follows (some of the responses have been translated from their original Japanese): Charlie Daugherty: So Justin, com-
pared to music you’ve done in the past, what’s unique about being in the band Hidari? And what does being the Mega mean? Justin Bacon: First of all, it’s actually ‘Mecha,’ and it is proficiency in building, using, and repairing machines of all shapes and sizes. It is augmented by my intelligence score. Before joining Hidari, I’ve always been a solo artist focused on recording and never played my own music live. Now I am doing shows on a weekly basis, and all across the country. In terms of recording, I am focusing more on composition and sequencing since I don’t have to worry about trying to play guitar or bass with my hamfingers or getting a decent and in-tune take for a lead vocal with my wobbly vocal chords. Which is nice. CD: My bad… Before I ask this next one, it is correct of me to say that
THE FINGER people call your music Japanese pop rock, right? JB: You can call it whatever you like. Nobody ever knows what to call it. CD: Given that problem, what do you yourself call it? What kind of walls do you run up against when compared to other music in Japan? JB: Oh, I don’t know. Not to be too pedantic, but I always resist classifying music unless it’s clearly idiomatic and the musicians seem to be intentionally trying to replicate something else or create something that fits into a particular genre. Our music is definitely rock, it’s got a certain retro bent to it, it’s catchy, so I think power pop is pretty accurate. But there are also elements of chiptunes and classical music (mostly from me). The other day we were called Techno Pop. Our label calls us Shibuya-kei and Japanese New Wave. Which is fine. They all have elements of truth, I suppose. But one consequence of not being easily categorizable is that the label doesn’t seem to be quite sure how to market us, and we get booked for extremely odd shows. We play with everything from prog and punk bands (generally our friends who we play with locally are more on this side of the spectrum) to cutesy pop groups and generic J-Rock outfits. The oddest show we’ve played would have to be the time we opened for the insipid girl pop group, Perfume, who have since taken over the airwaves in Japan. We sold a lot of CDs and t-shirts at that show, though, so apparently there’s some crossover. CD: What kind of exposure have you gotten overseas? Do you think a Hidari avalanche is possible? JB: Sure. We tend to attract foreigners when we play downtown, and I think our music is quite accessible... excepting the lyrics, of course. All of our exposure outside of Japan thus
7 far has pretty much been through websites like thesixtyone.com and, to a lesser degree, MySpace and their ilk, and we’ve had a decent response. One barrier in the U.S. is that people generally seem put off by things that aren’t in English. How else do you explain Hollywood spending millions of dollars to remake Japanese films almost shot for shot just so audiences don’t have to strain their eyeballs reading subtitles? Personally, I think we have a better shot in Europe. CD: Do you ever have communication issues? How do you get along outside of doing sets?
ONE BARRIER IN THE U.S. IS THAT PEOPLE GENERALLY SEEM PUT OFF BY THINGS THAT AREN’T IN ENGLISH. Daisuke Kozuki: There aren’t really any big communication issues. It’s a matter of perspective, I guess. Justin is serious about music and friendly, so I would have to say no. Compared to way back when we were young, we don’t hang out nearly as much, but rather than being due to bad relations it’s just become less of a necessity to be together all the time, I think. When we’ve already been together for a long time and know
each other real well, for example. We like taking advantage of meeting new people and trying new things. However, even now we’ll occasionally go out partying or end up doing birthday parties, which is always fun. It’s definitely one of our specialties. CD: Daisuke, you’re always the one with the highest energy at shows. Where does it come from? DK: Originally, I was never the type to show off on stage. I didn’t really like that. But I can remember seeing ourselves on TV without any movement. It gave too much of a visual like we were detached and unfocused. I thought this was a problem, seeing as when we played on the street not very many people stopped to listen. So I thought, “Let’s stop some people,” and that’s when the crazy movements started. CD: This one’s for Hiroshi. As the vocalist, what was it that pushed you to join a band and sing? If you weren’t in a band, what would be taking up your time? Hiroshi Ohta: It wasn’t about wanting to join a band and singing. Casually, I tried writing some songs, and since they turned out pretty well that started me in music. As for becoming the vocalist, there weren’t any other singers in the band. If I weren’t in a band I’d be leading a more serious life, I believe. CD: Okay. Well, finally, is there any cryptic news about the release of a new album? DK: Naturally our music now, compared with our previous albums, is a little different. Justin is included in the new album, for one. This time around, challenging ourselves with something different has been important and interesting, I think. Just producing art that’s been well-crafted has always been our one vision.
Farms after Floods: Suppor ting Local Agriculture by nicki sabalu From seed to harvest, so many of my childhood memories are entwined with farms. Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, my neighbors were farmers and the majority of my first eighteen years were informed by experiences among pumpkin patches and apple trees in rural Eastern Washington. When I learned that farms near my current home of Olympia had been immersed by flood water last December, I thought of my former neighbors. What would it have been like to not only lose a home, but to also lose a livelihood responsible for sustaining so many families in the region? In December 2007, parts of Lewis County were victim to an enormous downpour. The Chehalis River overflowed as the surrounding wetlands quickly filled, leaving surrounding towns submerged. On a frosty morning soon thereafter, I left my home equipped with heavy boots and snow pants serving as mud-guards. Nickel-sized snow flakes melted on my nose as I headed to meet fellow volunteers departing to the Boistfort Valley Farm in the tiny town of Curtis, Washington. Together, we planned to help with clearing mud-coated debris. Upon arriving at the farm, my boots impressed footprints into the inches of silt that had been carried to the area by flood water. Mounds of belongings
rested outside of the farmhouse, most of which would be deemed unrecoverable from water and mud damage. When I recently asked about the impacts of the flooding, Heidi Peroni of Boistfort Valley Farm explained, “we had about four feet of rushing water and mud through the driveway -- the highest spot on our farm -- and two feet of water in the house. Our structures were relatively unharmed, although we pretty much had to gut all our buildings to clean them up.” I recalled the flood-stained walls in each room of the house and the rustbound tractors near the barn. “We lost a lot of things that were washed away, and many of our farm implements and equipment have required a lot of clean up/maintenance. We lost seven vehicles, including our two commercial trucks, and all five of our tractors were submerged to varying degrees.” Nearly nine months after the flooding, Heidi reports, “we’re finally moving back into our house this month.” Kim Langston, Produce Buyer and Local Farm Coordinator for the Olympia Food Co-op, has traveled to local farms on many occasions to help clean debris. “I’ll never forget Jim at Rising River [in Rochester] gingerly trying to salvage all his glued together puzzles that he hangs in the packing shed. The farm was trashed and there was debris and muck everywhere. I mean everywhere. It was so gross. Yet, I found him
crouched down in the mud fishing these puzzles out, wiping them down and putting them up to dry. Each time he saved one from the mud he’d comment on how it’s not that bad. He saved one of the puzzles. I wanted to give him a big hug but instead I just helped him clean up the puzzles. I think I understood him on such a beautiful level that day.” Helsing Junction Farm in Rochester also suffered water damage in several buildings and the loss of large pieces of equipment. Each August, the farm organizes a three-day sleepover in conjunction with Olympia’s K Records. This year, the event raised funds for relief efforts. Over the weekend of August 15-17, campers danced to live music, rested in the shade alongside bales of hay, swam in the Chehalis River, slept between pear trees, and learned about the effects of the flooding. Numerous funds were established following the flooding to assist local farms. The Olympia Food Co-op’s relief fund has raised roughly $42,000. The fund will continue to operate at least through November 2008, and donations can be made to cashiers at both Co-op locations. Non-cash donations may also be mailed to the stores and Co-op staff will deposit the money into the fund. The Olympia Farmers Market relief fund has raised approximately $75,000. Donations can be made to the Famers Flood Relief Fund at Heritage Bank in downtown Olympia (201 5th Ave. SW).
Charlie Haney of the Olympia Farmers Market expressed immense gratitude for the support of our community following the flooding. “I myself must have cried through most of December. I actually had a family with children that had a family meeting and decided that they would forgo presents that year to help the farmers. There is nowhere like home and that is what Olympia is to this Market.” Heidi Peroni of Boistfort Valley Farm also shared her gratitude. “We were blown away by the amount of community support that we’ve received. I think more than 50 people showed up to help the first Saturday after the flood. The Farm Bureau, Tilth Producers of Washington, the Boistfort Valley Community, and far more people than I could even begin to name helped us with tools, supplies, and donations. It was life changing.” When asked about ways that our community can best assist farmers, Heidi encourages “everyone to buy local, not just your veggies, but everything that you can.” Along with many other local farms, Boistfort Valley Farm sells food at farmers markets, the Olympia Food Co-Op, and a Community Supported Agriculture Program. Heidi adds, “I cannot imagine what we would have done without the community that we live in, and it really touches my heart when people stop by our market stand and say, ‘I’m so glad you’re back.’”
Local Farm Information Where to Donate:
Olympia Food Co-op Farm Relief Fund Westside location: 921 Rogers St. NW Olympia, WA 98502 (360) 956-3870 Eastside location: 3111 Pacific Ave. SE Olympia, WA 98501 (360) 754-7666 Farmers Flood Relief Fund Heritage Bank 201 5th Ave. SW (360) 943-1500
Boistfort Valley Farm Curtis, Washington (360) 254-2796 boistfortvalleyfarm.com Helsing Junction Farm Rochester, Washington (360) 273-2033 helsingfarmcsa.com Rising River Farm Rochester, Washington (360) 273-5368 risingriverfarm.com Wobbly Cart Farming Collective Rochester, Washington (360) 273-7597 firstname.lastname@example.org
Panel me this!
Comics Night at Olympia’s Danger Room by Charlie Daugherty Sitting down in a comfortable chair, I’m handed a pencil and a piece of paper. On the paper has been drawn a small box. In the box is a drawing of a screaming head with large incoherent text lying behind it. I am told to continue this story however I see fit. Laughing at the absurdity of this drawing I pause to scratch my head. A smirk crawls across my face as I think of something to add to this drawing while unfolding its absurdity. As I finish, I begin giggling like a schoolgirl wondering where
it could possibly go from here. This is called comics night. In the Danger Room comic store about once a month explosions occurs of completely random proportions. In the wake of this mess are murderous cops, horny platypuses, angry burritos, cute kitties, and popes with boxing gloves to name a few random drawings. These characters are the creation of various “comic jams”. Similar to an exquisite corpse these comics are drawn one panel at a time and then handed off to another person to finish. The end result is often a surprisingly coherent and funny creation. The disparity between
drawing styles of a handful of people, rather then subtracting from its impact, gives the comics personality. At its core, the comic jams are a way of conveying the power of illustrated narratives, sequential art, and comics. There is no requirement to be an artist, no real rules, just the ability to drive pencil against paper that brings people to this event. So if you’re interested in making art (highbrow or low) or just want to chat about the paneled pages that are comics I highly suggest visiting. Dates for comics night can be inquired at the Danger Room comic store in downtown Olympia.
Last Days: Why the Price of Gas is the Least of our Worries by orion moon 2008 may well be remembered as the year that our collective global dependence on fossil fuels, specifically petroleum, finally obtained our undivided attention. The price of a barrel of crude oil quadrupled between 2002 and mid-July of this year, temporarily topping out at $147 before receding. The cost of food staples and other commodities rose dramatically as well, in many cases as a direct result of oil’s skyrocketing ascent. A number of theories have been advanced to explain the increases, from future-market speculation and price manipulation by OPEC to the falling value of the US dollar, the standard currency with which oil is traded worldwide. The reality is that demand for oil has finally begun to outstrip the available supply. At the core of the supply problem is a geological phenomenon known as “peak oil.” This refers to the point at which roughly half of the recoverable petroleum in world reserves have been extracted and consumed. The extraction and refining into distillate products (such as gasoline) of this finite resource follows a bell curve, with the midpoint at the peak, the maximum annual production of crude oil by volume that the world will ever reach. Production of crude oil and related liquid hydrocarbon fuels has remained flat at roughly 86 million barrels per day for over three years, while global demand has increased to 87 million barrels a day and is still rising. The weight of the evidence suggests that the peak is already behind us, and that the inexorable decline characterizing the downslope of the bell curve
is immediately ahead. It is reasonable to expect that global oil supplies may contract by as much as fifty percent by 2015. That irreversible decline means that the gap between energy supply and demand will grow drastically wider with each passing year. The implications for agriculture, food supply, and the entire project of human civilization are catastrophic.
Much of the public discourse regarding environmental, energy, and resource issues has been devoted to the adoption of renewable sources of electricity and fuel. While technologies exploiting wind, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric sources, and sunlight are incredibly promising and constantly expanding, together they only meet a few percent of the
world’s energy needs today. The problem of scale is insurmountable for the foreseeable future. No combination of alternatives to petroleum will be able to replace it in time to offset the effects of its imminent scarcity. To illustrate both the astonishing energy density of oil and the difficulty of replacing it, consider the fact that the world consumes 21 billion barrels each year, an amount roughly equivalent to one cubic mile of oil by volume. To equal that amount of energy 1,650,000 wind turbines, 200 Three Gorges dams, 365,000,000 solar panels, or 2600 nuclear plants would be required. Another important consideration is that each of those sources is a means of generating electricity. We live in a nation that has 200 million internalcombustion gas or diesel engines, and transportation represents 35 percent of our total energy use. At this point an average of approximately ten calories of fossil fuel energy are expended for each calorie of food we consume. The so-called “Green Revolution” of the 1940s to the present day artificially boosted food supply and hence human population far beyond a sustainable level with massive inputs of oil and natural gas-based fertilizers and pesticides as well as energy-intensive pump-driven irrigation and mechanized harvesting, processing, and transportation. This does not include petroleum-based packaging and energy consumed while shopping and cooking. Our dependence on hydrocarbons for food is difficult to overstate. I don’t wish to ignore the value of local, organic farming practices that minimize their use, but you should know that the crops grown using organic techniques are a tiny fraction of world food
production (roughly 1-2%), and are unlikely to increase substantially in the foreseeable future. That future may be unspeakably grim. The foreshocks of what the mainstream press has eloquently called “the silent tsunami” of food shortages have been evident worldwide over the first half of this 2008. Riots have exploded across dozens of countries, from the streets of Port Au Prince, Haiti to the densely populated cities of Spain as soaring energy costs have more than doubled the price of grains. Rice has increased by 217 percent, wheat by 136 percent, corn by 125 percent and soybeans by 107 percent on average since the start of 2006. By some estimates, a hundred million additional people worldwide are already going hungry. That number will only continue to increase rapidly, and those of us living in the deteriorating US empire will not have to wait long before we experience hunger on a scale far worse than during the depression of the 1930s. The United States is particularly vulnerable, importing more than sixty percent of its crude oil and utterly dependent on a “just-in-time” food delivery system dominated by diesel-powered trucking along its interstate highways. The US has also invested much of its material wealth and natural resources to the construction of vast, sprawling cities indentured to the automobile for their very existence. Even the relatively modest increases in gaso-
line prices of recent months have had dramatic socioeconomic effects. Actual shortages will be devastating, resulting in widespread unrest and violence. Prolonged shortages of as few as ten days could result in mass starvation in many places. Because the US has failed to undertake any reasonable effort toward mitigating the effects of peak oil, much less have any open public discussion of the subject, it is essentially driving off the edge of a cliff. Additional factors are certainly contributing to this imminent crisis. The accelerating effects of climate change are marching in lockstep with peak oil, with devastating storms, drought, and flooding obliterating crops with ever greater frequency. The diversion of corn from human consumption to make ethanol is an attempt to offset stagnant crude production, and is starving people in the process. Still worse are the vast and grotesque meat and dairy industries. In addition to the horrific suffering of animals and environmental destruction caused by the gross overconsumption of animal products, the use of massive quantities of grain better suited for human consumption weighs heavily on the availability of food for the vast majority of the world’s people. The present economic structure of the US is beginning to unravel, and the interconnection of the world’s economies ensure that decline will have severe financial effects globally. The criminal
misallocation of resources under capitalism in general is a root problem underlying all of this, and will unfortunately continue even as the pressures grow. It’s important to understand that these are not temporary problems. We are entering an age of scarcity, with dwindling availability of food, water, and energy with each passing year. The crisis is pervasive, systemic, and permanent…a direct consequence of our species living drastically out of balance with our world. The age of cheap and abundant hydrocarbon energy is drawing to a close. No combination of alternative energy sources or emerging technologies in the decades ahead will allow humans, especially those living in the industrialized nations, to continue to live as we have on anything like the present scale. The transition to a post-carbon future will be abrupt and unremittingly brutal. It’s unnecessary to mince words…the Earth will not continue to support a population of nearly seven billion, much less allow it to continue to grow exponentially. This is not something our grandchildren will be dealing with. This is now. The urgency of confronting problems of such enormous magnitude and immediacy is obvious. The American government has been aware of the risks of peak oil for at least thirty years and has failed to act, and the American public by and large would rather not know, much less make the crucial adjustments of lifestyle that might soften the impact. In the next decade, our lives will change radically. Many of us will not live to see the results of the transition. An open and brutally realistic conversation needs to happen, on a community level, in each of the places we live. Nothing can be done to salvage the wasteful, ruinous whole of our supposedly “non-negotiable” way of life, but there’s so much that can be accomplished in terms of preparation, and ultimately survival, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city. Nothing will matter more than our relationships with the people immediately around us.
Abusing Power: Power Tool Drag Racing Reinvents the Wheel ... & the Sawblade by orion moon Seattle-based Harzard Factory is a politically active Industrial Arts outfit co-founded in 2000 by Evergreen graduate Rusty Oliver. In keeping with its mission of advancing “high risk” forms of collaborative artistic expression, the group began organizing Power Tool Drag Racing derbies for the Georgetown neighborhood’s annual Artopia festival in 2006. While power tool racing has been happening in various forms across the country since at least the 1980s, the Seattle events have attracted considerable attention, including profiles by Make magazine and Popular Science. Hazard Factory took the event overseas for Amsterdam’s Robodock festival in 2007, performed an encore at the local Critical Massive Burning Man gathering, and expanded the races to Olympia in April for the Downtown Art Walk, drawing many entries from the community. Participants construct racing vehicles using belt sanders, chainsaws, weed whackers, or just about any imaginable finger-endangering piece of electrified equipment as the drive
trains, then tart them up with a kaliedescopic array of absurdities running the gamut from human skeletons to My Little Ponies. The resulting fusions of machinery and demented whimsy are then propelled down parallel sixty-foot plywood tracks as fast as their parts (and their designers’ ingenuity) can carry them. Variations include deliberate head-on collisions in a sort of demolition derby, jumping the vehicles off a ramp into a rotating oil drum rig, and plowing them through the windshield of a car. The races are announced in manic play-by-play fashion through megaphones, even during the lulls as the racing teams struggle with broken parts and tangled extension cords. Disclaimers regarding personal safety for spectators adorn the metal railings bordering the miniature speedway, and although no serious injuries have occurred at any of the Hazard Factory events, some of the better-engineered entries have ripped through the barriers at the end of the tracks at what appeared to be freeway speeds, and small fires occasionally erupt from equipment that’s
clearly being used in ways that violate the manufacturers’ warranties. The combined elements of DIY engineering, artistic design, and the use of recycled components obtained cheaply are perhaps the most compelling aspects of this expanding sport. Power tool racers are often constructed as group efforts, and contributions have been made by people of all ages. Parts can be gathered from thrift shops, scrapyards, dumpsters, and garages, and the decorative flourishes have incorporated astroturf, lawn gnomes, hairdryers, model rocket engines, squirt guns, mannequin parts, and just about anything can be nailed, glued, or screwed. At such tiny scales, aerodynamics aren’t much of a factor, and a crowdpleasing racer doesn’t need to win when it combines form and function in something that’s just plain fun to watch. Expect to see races in Olympia (April) and Seattle (June) in 2009, consider making your own entry, and visit www.harzardfactory.org for details, images, and video.
13 our ♥ for you:
The Finger Complex
For Sleepwalkers is an organization, a group of friends, that work together on projects like The Finger, The Finger Complex, Timefighters, Olympia DIY and others. We release the work of folks like Otis Pig (writing) and Queen of Refuse (music). We cook together. We don’t usually bathe together. We’d like to offer you a concept named teamwork. We’d like to give it to you in the form of support with publishing, recording and performance, and web space. And food. Go here now: forsleepwalkers.com. We’re not kidding anymore.
The Finger Complex is not static in location or design. It’s had a home in the same house for the past two years, but that comfortable place is by no means the final space that the complex is to occupy’. Our dreams is to have a place in downtown Olympia that can act as a newsroom, office, lounge and venue. Something outside of the living room that is currently used for Finger production. Do you have dreams, too? Don’t be shy. Maybe you’re in our dream, just like we might be in yours. Email us right now: email@example.com.
N industrial M
N the finger’s finger complex compilation cd M
For the past year The Finger Complex has been a home for shows in Olympia, WA. And each band that’s played has been as special as a Care Bear. Every late-night of too-loud noise, every beer can on the lawn, all the good songs, all the evil songs, all the complaints from neighbors and that one time someone puked
in three places in our house: this shit has been worth it. To commemorate a year of rocking out in our home please find attached to this publication a dynamic and representative compilation CD, so you can rock out in your home the way we rock out in ours. We do this because we love you.
THIS IS “4” YOU
THIS IS FOUR “U”
FINGER FINGER COMP COMP
THE FINGER a half-lie about real life, hate, & the belly of the world 5
More Than A Feeling Being out of breath, I merely walked up the stone steps. In fact, halfway up I stopped. I bent forward to straighten my nerves, which led to my kneeling down against the middle step and holding my knees in my arms. I leaned my spine against the stone side of the little stairwell. My head hung low against my chest, not supported by anything. There were pebbles which dug into my vertebrae, and for a while I could think of nothing but that pointed little ache. At least being huddled like that took the weight of myself off of myself. I apologized for that lightness later. I shut my eyelids to the sound of quick and dire steps behind me. Just give me one moment, I thought. That’s all I need. An unfamiliar person shouted, “Get to Fifth and Adams, quick!” in a hoarse, emergency-toned voice. From where we were, the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Wylie Street was only one block away. I wondered why he needed to shout it, being so close. If it were me doing all of the shouting, I would have said, “we are so close,” or “you can start to catch your breath now.” Instead I was on these steps, daydreaming about what it had been like to dream. It was in this state that I took departure, asking, what part of the beast do I belong to? I may have fallen asleep, but not enough to notice. My body ached from standing in the rain all night—winter was starting to happen. To the passersby who may have heard my deep and dreamless breaths, I’m sorry: Did it stifle the cause, or was it just something that didn’t belong inside the setting, like a giraffe with a dumb smile emerging from a subway entrance? More urgent steps passed by. Some-
one with a soft voice stopped and leaned over me, asking, “Do you need a medic?” I shook my head. My eyes stayed closed. “I’m fine,” I said, “Just give me a minute, okay?” “I’m not your mom, dude,” the voice replied. She went on her way. I began to rub the potential sleep from my eyes. Within seconds they were burning severely. It seemed there were still traces of mace left on my hands. Temporarily blinded, I began to crawl up the stairway, pawing ahead with my hands to find the end of it. I emerged on a strange, grassy platform. I stretched out on my back for a few minutes, waiting for my eyes to feel like opening, and documenting the spread of wetness from the grass onto my clothing. One thing I noticed, lying on my back, was how listening to the sounds of chaos in the distance (violent shouts, heavy bits of metal being drug against pavement, horns honking) while closing one’s eyes has the exact same effect as watching television. Eyelids, screens, with each there’s only one degree of separation. For fear of having to sit through a commercial, I opened my eyes. They still burned some, but at least they were working. I climbed to my feet very slowly––all of my joints were stiff from the cold and rain. When I stretched my torso left and right to release tension from the muscles in my back, I suddenly felt very ashamed. How did I have the right to try and feel good? I realized that the platform I was standing on overlooked the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Adams Street. I
could watch the event from a distance if I so chose (which I did choose). This made it less like watching television, which I felt good about. Now it was a live performance. The dim, towering streetlights cast the whole scene in a grainy orange. Good lighting, I thought. Great for the mood. I soon apologized. About fifty protesters were scattered across the sidewalks of that intersection. They were trying to build a makeshift barricade on the north side of Adams Street to prevent the military stryker vehicles from passing through the city. The protesters drug dumpsters out of alleyways, to add to the structure, and whatever pieces of stray metal and wood they could find. Some of the protesters were in disagreement about the most ethical way of erecting this construct, taking respect of others’ property into consideration. A protester wearing all black with a bandana covering his face started to scream at an older man with long hair and a fleece jacket for trying to prevent a particular set of wooden crates from being added to the barricade. He pushed the older man onto the ground; the older man’s head crashed against the curb. He cried out in a deep moan, cradling his head in his hands. That sound caused about six protesters to abandon their progress on the barricade in order to scold the blackclad person for what he had done. Those who had remained working on the barricade then abandoned their progress to scold the six or so who had left before for leaving. Commuters who had been stopped in traffic due to the barricade were pounding their fists against their car horns vehemently. A few middle-aged
men left their vehicles to argue with the protesters, who mostly ignored them. Irate and frustrated, one commuter spat at a protester’s chest, then proceed to call him a Taliban. The protester pulled the bandana from his face and spat back. Who are these people, I wondered, playing bystander from my distant vantage point. Everyone I was looking at seemed twice as ugly as anyone I had ever seen. In the middle of the street, about thirty protesters sat on the pavement with their arms linked together. They seemed to believe their own humanity was enough to keep the drivers of those stryker vehicles from running them over. They were making a dangerous assumption, that the people inside those vehicles would still be human, too. The line of protesters in the street swayed back and forth, chanting old activist mantras from the nineteensixties. They were trying to laugh and make jokes about things, but each bit died prematurely. When the police sirens began sounding in the distance, the protesters became incredibly distressed. Some paced back and forth with their hands at their foreheads saying, “Oh shit, oh shit!” while others rushed to complete their barricade in time. Within seconds, about seven police cruisers arrived from the west on Fifth Avenue, with their sirens howling and their red and blue lights flashing. All doors opened at once, and about twenty-five police officers in riot gear stepped onto the pavement. With no hesitation, they advanced towards the line of protesters linking arms in the street. One officer raised his weapon and began firing rubber bullets at the seated protesters without any discrimination. They let out shrieks of pain and confusion. I couldn’t tell if it was more brave to keep watching or to look away, but those were the only two options which presented themselves to me. Bravery seemed out the window at this point.
All I had to fall back on was truth, which I was failing, too. When the police officers moved to spray mace into the eyes of the seated protesters, some of the commuters who had stepped out of their vehicles began to clap and cheer. The black-clad person pulled a glass bottle from his backpack and broke it against the sidewalk. He charged toward one of the officers with the bottle raised above his head. A rubber bullet struck his face and he fell to the ground instantly. An officer drug his writhing body to the closest police cruiser, handcuffed, and locked him inside. Who were these people? These wild losers, they were my enemies. These rocks with fists, they were my enemies. Everyone in the world was my enemy.
better luck next time
I imagined every one of them was doing the best that they could, which broke my heart completely. Now that the seated protesters had been disabled by the mace, the officers proceeded to tear them from each other, dragging them onto the sidewalk by whatever means available. Some of the protesters refused to part. They embraced each other as tightly as lovers just discovering that one will undoubtedly die before the other. There was so much noise that I had a hard time differentiating between the screams, the shouts, the sirens, and the cheers. It all amalgamated into one voice, mouthing ominous presages in a very ancient language. The officers unsheathed their nightsticks and beat at those who remained.
16 The protesters cried out more. They were all blind, and just holding onto each other. They didn’t know what to hide from. I dropped to my knees, and covered my mouth with my hands. “What the fuck is happening?” I bellowed. I imagined all the blows that were being dealt before me reverberating through the air. I could feel them whizzing past my ear, propelled outward from wherever hate comes from, to wherever hate goes. The blows passed through limbs of tress, they passed through walls like ghosts, but not through me. “Why not through me?” I shouted, “Why the fuck not me?” Once the intersection had been cleared, the police officers created their own line to keep the protesters from advancing any further. They stood in a postured row with their weapons in hand, waiting for someone to dare to approach them. The sheriff motioned for the stranded commuters to turn their cars around, ordering them to head back the way they came. “You all are doing good work,” one woman assured the officers with a chuckle. The sheriff nodded, waving her along. The protesters shouted curses at the officers, but nobody stepped off the curb. The sheriff spoke into a walkie-talkie while street medics poured water into the eyes of those who had been blinded by the mace. Someone shut the sirens off, leaving a strange kind of peace. On the platform I was having a hard time figuring out who I was, and who I was letting down. When I looked at my hands, I imagined them losing opacity, and eventually being carried away by the wind, making me limbless. Unfortunately they stayed where they were, looking just like regular hands. “What part of the beast do I belong to?” I asked the World, “Because surely I cannot be apart from it. Am
THE FINGER I one of its fingers, or just the fingernail? Am I the liver? Am I the space just below it’s left nipple?” I rose to my feet and began pacing across the grassy platform. I held my face in my hands, and moaned unusual noises through them. Something I’d never noticed before was that on the eastern wall of the apartment building attached to the platform was a gigantic Star Wars mural. Han Solo, Obie-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker––everyone’s best friends––they were all so still, bearing witness, just like me. I walked up to the mural, and ran my hand across their image. “What are we doing wrong?” I asked. “What
I could feel them whizzing past my ear, propelled outward from wherever hate comes from, to wherever hate goes was so different in your story? Aside from the X-Wing, what did you have that we don’t?” “I don’t know, kid,” Han Solo started. “That was a long time ago, and in a galaxy far away. I doubt any of it is really all that comparable.” “Well, how did it start?” I urged, “Like, when did you decide it was time to actually fight back?” “Yeah, I don’t really remember how that went,” Princess Leia answered. “I showed up late,” Luke Skywalkers added, “By the time I got there, everything had been pretty much set into motion.” I sighed. “It’s just, there doesn’t seem to be any way to defeat these people. They’ve got all the weapons,
and they just don’t listen to words. They could kill us all if they wanted, and there’s nothing we could do to stop them. I mean, shouldn’t we have weapons, too?” “Yes,” Han Solo answered, “Get a blaster pistol.” “No,” Yoda countered, “Use the force you must.” “But what is the force?” I asked, “I don’t know if we have a force. Maybe we used to, but we don’t anymore. All we’ve got are weapons and will.” I leaned my head against the mural, in the space between Lando Calrissian and R2-D2. “Maybe we should have weapons. Maybe then we’d have a chance at defeating them. But then I think, if we all came here to try and stop violence from happening in some distant part of the world, can we really stop it by creating more violence? I mean, doesn’t that just breed itself ?” R2-D2 beeped and whizzed––maybe he had the answer––but there weren’t any protocol droids around to translate what he was saying. “I’ve been down here for almost two weeks now, every single day. I’ve been sprayed with mace and beaten with nightsticks just for refusing to move. I can’t seem to get this fear out of me– all of the violence I’ve witnessed in the past few days seems to be manifesting inside of my body–” “The dark side,” Yoda counseled. “Sure, the dark side,” I conceded. “I just don’t know what to do, you know? Or what to believe, even. I’ve got this feeling, like I’m supposed to be here. I feel like I have to be here, because I can’t really justify my existence as a human being otherwise. Not when people in other parts of the world are dying for my benefit. I can’t justify a thing until I’ve done all I can to stop these things from happening. “But then I show up here, and it’s like a war within itself. We’re screaming in each others’ faces and knocking each other onto the ground. We’re demonizing people, and hud-
stop reading, now dling under weird ideologies that end up having nothing to do with the war, or anything at all. We just end up breathing out as much hate as we breathe in. “So what good is it for me to be here? What am I doing that’s good? Most of America hates us for what we’re trying to do, and I kind of hate us for it, too. But still, I’ve got this feeling, you know? Like I could actually change it, if only I knew how. But how?” “What you have, it’s more than a feeling,” Luke Skywalker sighed, “but that is all I know.” I turned my neck to the sound of sudden impact. At the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Adams Street the first of the stryker vehicles were passing through. They had simply crashed through the barricade without any trouble. After all, that’s one of the many things they were built to do. Debris still clinging to the vehicles shrieked against the pavement as they were drug away. The strykers were shaped like mutated turtles with guns barrels and antennae sprouting out of their shells. There were still ground up bits of hope stuck in the grooves of their eight tires. The protesters watched in desperate silence as the strykers haunted the intersection. Every unit that passed before my eyes was another person I’d never meet whom I had murdered. I apologized for the murder later. I heard the sound of footsteps behind me. My hope was that Chewbacca or Obi-Wan Kenobi had detached themselves from the wall and were advancing in my direction to offer some kind of solace. Instead it was just another protester like those before me. His eyes were red, blistered, and coated in Maalox– he had to squint to see what was happening. He was completely out of breath.
He trotted up beside me, and then leaned forward with his hands rested against his knees, breathing heavily. “What should we do?” I asked him. “What can we really do?” “You know, just––” he was panting like an old greyhound., “We’ve got to... you know, just––yeah.” For a few minutes the two of us just stood in silence watching the bitter procession. We watched the protesters waiting at the intersection leave, one by one. The man beside me began making deep, groaning noises from within his chest. I imagined he was trying to conjure something within his body out, so he could hold it in his hands. The man stood erect, and his chest caved out a deep war cry. He began
“Hello, World,” I said to the World. “Hello, Otis Pig.” running toward the ledge of the platform. In that moment he seemed to stop being human, the fool. Or maybe he was turning into the greatest human specimen the world had ever known––I wouldn’t know the difference. At the ledge of the platform, the man jumped. With all that passion, I imagined that he might never hit the ground. I was right. Only a few feet from the ledge, the man seemed to lie suspended in his place. He flailed his limbs about to no avail. There was no controlling it. Some of the officers in the line noticed him hanging there, and approached us from the street. The man shouted inane curses as more and more officers approached. The officers spread one long grin across their faces, as they lifted their weapons.
The sheriff counted it off, “Three, two, one!” The force of everyone’s hate dismembered his body upon impact, as I sank to the bottom of the World. • At the bottom of the World, I was made very comfortable by the way that the cushions of earth shaped themselves. I apologized for that comfort later. Who knew the roots of trees could travel so far downward? Fossils and basements, too. “Hello, World,” I said to the World. “Hello, Otis Pig.” “Thank you for pulling me under, and out of that bad situation.” I apologized for that gratitude later. “It’s no sweat off my back,” the World said. Then it held my hand, and told me something about hate. It said that, despite what most people seem to think, Hate had to be born, just like anything else. Hate was a just little baby once. You could hold it in the palm of your hand. “All monsters grow from babies,” the World said, “you never know what to expect with babies.” The World told me how, at the end of life, we will all look down upon the broken bits of Hate scattered across the valley floor. They will stretch on past the horizon––what an enormous body, what a Goliath we will eventually have to face. At the end of life, doves will be the vultures, pecking Hate’s bones clean. No one will hate Hate. No one will love Hate. At the end of life, we will hold hands with all of our ghost friends, like at the end of Return of the Jedi, and watch Hate decompose into bone. We will have to clap our hands, because we won. We will have to feel good about that. Still, it grew from a child, just like anything else. That much we can mourn.
18 you take his place. Batman became what he is by slamming headfirst into the reality of a callous world, and survived by creating justice ex nihilo. The Joker is his inverse: a mad clown embracing the bedlam he finds around him, joyously demolishing the dishonesty of ‘sane’ people. As he puts it: “See, their morals, their code: it’s a bad joke… When the chips are down, these, uh… civilized people, they’ll eat each other.” And: “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules… See, I’m not a monster; I’m just ahead of the curve.” And: “Schemers try to control their little worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.” Like Fight Club’s Tyler Durden, the Joker strives to shake things up, snap people
Batman = God. Joker = You by Casey Jaywork
The Batman is a walking paradox: A criminal crime-fighter, a protector of the status quo who, like all rebels and vigilantes, undermines it by example. The hero we know today was born twenty years ago, when Frank Miller reinvented “the great detective” from a caped Boy Scout into a cold, driven force of nature. But aren’t there more effective, holistic methods of crime fighting – like building schools or financing a citizen police academy? Batman’s commitment to law and order is as much a smokescreen as his Bruce Wayne-persona; he is protecting a society to which he does not truly belong and cannot understand. “My parents taught me a different lesson... lying on this street – shaking in deep shock – dying for no reason at all – they showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to.” And that’s what Batman boils down to: God is dead, Bruce Wayne’s parents are dead, and Bruce himself is an increasingly hollow corpse. Only the Batman, the manifestation of Bruce’s will to power in a capricious world, remains. As corrupted District Attorney Harvey Dent says in Dark Knight, “We thought we could be decent men in an indecent time … but we were wrong! The world is cruel.” How do you live in a cruel world? How do you live without God the Protector? For Bruce Wayne, for the Batman,
out of their assigned roles, “introduce a little anarchy” as a way of compelling individuals to be individuals, rather than cogs in the machine. With Durden, it’s all for the creation of a new world (dis)order; with the Joker, it’s raw compulsion. But the result is the same: ordinary people are thrown into disastrous situations with impossible decisions, which no one else can make for them. One pivotal scene from Dark Knight, ostensibly bearing out the innate goodness of humanity, really only drives this point home: ‘good’ people condemn others to death for the sake of their own hides (all the while hiding behind the excuse of collective decision making), and it’s only by the weakness of their stomachs that tragedy is averted. Simultaneously, a ‘bad’ character sacrifices himself rather than murder an innocent. Another scene shows Gotham’s citizens caving to the Joker’s public blackmail by calling for Batman’s unmasking; never
mind that it’s the Joker, not Batman, doing the killing. Ultimately, the Joker charges all of us with hypocrisy: “They’re only as good as the world allows them to be.” How much does our good behavior count for when it’s never put to the test? The Joker, then, is a radical individualist, forcing honesty in others, emancipated from a hypocritical and self-defeating moral code. This is obvious Nietzsche: indeed, the first shot of the Joker’s face in Dark Knight is accompanied by a misquote of the mad German. “I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.” Heidegger is here, too. While Batman and Commissioner Gordon have resorted to grandiose lies by the end of the film in order to save their cause, the Joker is essentially honest throughout, the only truly authentic character. “I’m a man of my word.” Batman and Gordon’s fiction might be interpreted as a veiled stab at Christian myth. They resolve to cover up District Attorney Harvey Dent’s post-traumatic killing spree (as Two-Face), blaming it on Batman to maintain the image of “Gotham’s White Knight” as a blameless savior, martyred and unblemished. So if Dent is a faked messiah, then Joker is Lucifer the Rebel, rejecting what Nietzsche called the Slave Morality in favor of the freedom of sin. And while it’s easy to condemn him, we must ask ourselves: is the Joker evil, or just honest?
Talkin’ with Slotkin: Olympia Musicians Rap About Weird Al by Jason Slotkin Weird Al Yankovic, heir by name alone to the polka throne long beheld by the unrelated Frankie Yankovic. A man who has taken many pop forty hits and replaced their lyrics and motifs with more food, absurdity, and Star Wars themed versions. A vegan Cal Poly graduate whose Hawaiian shirts and exuberance has made him the goofy uncle to a generation of goofy uncle-deprived children and adolescents. He got his start by sending tapes to Doctor Demento, and eventually ended up as the Grammy-winning subject of the least depressing episode of VH1’s Behind the Music to ever air. What effect has the constantly jovial Yankovic had on our lives and society? As a pre-tween I made friends through a common admiration of Weird Al. The Weird Al Show provided a new man-child to idolize during Saturday mornings. Weird Al is different things to different people. For some, he’s annoying. For Coolio, he’s the man who ruined his song. For me, he’s still a subject. Andrew Dorsett of the bands L.A.K.E., Desolation Wilderness, and other musical projects compares Weird Al to Dadaists and Pop artists. A man crafting songs, not for throwaway laughs, but pure absurdity. “I think if you have an appreciation for absurdism it can deepen your understanding. Certainly it can cheapen it too,” said Dorsett.
Can this absurdism be vital to both the world and music? “That’s kind of the downfall of [music], it takes itself too seriously. It’s definitely healthy,” said Evan Hashi about Weird Al’s parodies. Hashi, a member of Desolation Wilderness and Hobby Hobby, believes that Wierd Al’s approach is more “slapstick” and “easy to get into.” “ I think there are people who do [music parody] more subtly.” Could Weird Al be the gateway drug for irreverence? First Weird Al then Ween. Without slapstick artists such as Weird Al and his predecessor Spike Jones, would the subtler artists not be as appreciated as they are? Weird Al parodies seem to take on an artistic life nearly independent from their original subjects. His fans may not enjoy most of the artists he parodies, but they love his work. They buy his albums and go to his shows. After hearing his versions continuously, the originals seem like copies themselves. Andrew Ebright from Tiffany Amber Thiessen says he has heard the Weird Al parodies before many of the originals.
“When you hear the original version after the funny version so many times, the original seems less serious... When you hear the funny songs you’re responding to the same rockin’ rhythm,” said Ebright. “[ The parodies] are a reflection.” Much like Christmas, Weird Al seems to be able to bring people together. Most everyone I spoke to was excited about this article. It’s hard to let go of someone with such vibrant shirts, an accordion, and a goofy face. He will always be the kind of person any eight year-old would want for a dad. Weird Al is almost an institution. There have been many parody artists before and after him and not many of them have been blessed with the same career longevity. Something about him seems more interesting than the artist who changed the words of “Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer” to celebrate the capture of Saddam Hussein. Maybe Weird Al is not as opportunistic, and writes these songs for the same reasons the original artist write their versions.
Closing Time Fantasies by jason slotkin “You stand behind that register with a laconic vigilance,” my last customer of the night said as I handed her the sandwiches she had ordered. She smiled shyly. I had been standing behind the register before retrieving her food. All the sweeping, cleaning, and stocking that needed to be done that evening had been finished. Now, after this last customer, I would be allowed to leave. “Word of the day. From a calender,” she said, putting a dollar in the tip jar. She left and I locked the door behind her. As I walked back toward the kitchen, I tried to determine if any minute facial gesture of mine might have made the customer uncomfortable. Did I make her feel insecure about the syntax of her newly acquired words? I dropped the thoughts rather quickly, determining it best not to feel distraught over a potentially non-offended customer. I clocked out and passed the cooks in the kitchen. The cooks were two middle-aged women who came in a half-hour before the restaurant opened and left ten minutes after it closed. They had also finished their work for the night and their eyes were fixed on a Vietnamese soap opera playing on a TV next to one of the fridges. During slow periods, the cooks would watch every soap opera, sitcom, game show, talk show, or news cast that Vietnamese-language station would play. “Good night,” they said in near unison while keeping their attention on the TV. I gave a wave and a quick smile. Seeing the cooks and the television shows influenced my own career aspirations. Every time I walked by the television in that kitchen I knew what I wanted: I wanted to be like them. I had this life all planned out in fantasies. These daydreams usually involved working in a restaurant kitchen similar to this one. I would start working at 11 a.m., six days a week. During the busy hours, my time would be spent impetuously chopping, sautéing and assembling various dishes and sandwiches; these times would seem both frantic and arduous. However, during the long hours between peak times, I would watch television and nap on a nearby cot. I would do this until nine every night. This routine would continue every day until my mind had gone senile and my hands were stiff and arthritic.
mr. flood, i am safe by erin birgy
i’ve slept with eyes open ended with claim to two thousand pounds callused towards shrinking beauties i’m looking towards a sunset in a wizard’s saloon talking about sheep skin and a blue air turning gold in a white eye foaming sincerity and blood cakes flaunting a hiss in the stone walls a hum’s growing faster fills you with fainting fits that slap your fists upwards clenched and sobbing when my house was taken from me i wanted to drop from sill and bird my will indelible with some pegasus or luck dragon two years later i was a shape in 4 o’ clock so early with a lens stalking mountain hoping it feels, me shows an able cavity on its tooth to suck up sentimental hemorrhage one i will breath well one i will worm i built a dungeon but she has too much light
The Time Ad
by Julius Martin A celebration. I want to know what I am. You came down from the longest biggest bough. From the Logo tree. Walk beside me. Okay, I will. But I cannot stray too far from my memories, you understand? But we will visit the Logo tree, high in the little maple locks of Siva’s hair. This is our world. We built it ourselves. Did I love you? We were free; does the pit grow dim when Siva loses his map of the Steleqiuem? I have lost my map too. But it doesn’t matter. There’s always maps. Look above.
by Seth Vincent Joe Washington held his hands out from his sides and said, “Stand like this, facing the wind.” I stood that way, mimicking him, looking into the wind. “If you really pay attention to what you’re doing,” he said, “and listen to the sounds of the willows and all the sounds out here, it becomes music.” Joe smiled at me, squinting his eyes and slowly twisting his upper body toward me and said, “And then you can start to hear the laughter.” Joe looked like he was about to burst with the biggest laughter ever, and asked, “Am I joking?” I wasn’t even sure what joking was just then. “I’m not,” he said. “I’m serious.” “Who’s laughing?” I asked, then accidentally laughed out loud as Joe shrugged. We were standing between two lakes, called Clear Lakes, and we would not visit their beaches, only peek at them from a distance. “I saw the biggest fish ever go right by in that lake over there one day,” Joe said. He stretched his hands out about four inches, and layered them over the lake from a couple hundred yards away, making a big fish like other people squish heads with their thumbs and pointer fingers from across streets. “I’m not sure which lake it’s in,” said Joe, “but these people were picking berries one day down by the beach, and the biggest fish ever just jumped out of the water and grabbed ‘em up with its mouth. “So they got the harpoons out and made a decoy and set it up, waiting for the fish to come back, “said Joe. “It did,
and they got it.” “See your shadow?” asked Joe. I looked down where Joe was pointing and found my shadow. I nodded. “Some people were in an airplane out in the Yukon and were going over a lake just like this one. Some of the passengers were looking out the window and saw the plane’s shadow, just like yours.” Joe stopped to breath, and in the air he drew the paths of the fish and the airplane’s shadow with his fingers. “And those people saw the biggest fish ever swim right by that plane’s shadow, and it passed the shadow right up, just swam right by it.”
“WHATEVER,” HE SAID, “JUST FOR FUN. SHOOT WHATEVER YOU WANT. Joe waved the lake away, dismissing and affirming its myths simultaneously. “Let’s shoot the rifle,” said Joe. “Close your ears.” I wanted to shout, “Hey, there’s a truck over there on the other side of the lake, be careful of the trajectory of that bullet, Joe!” But it was too late. Joe shot the rifle. Joe asked, “See that truck over there?” “Yeah.” “Want to shoot the rifle?” “Sure.” I grabbed the rifle. The truck was gone. I was about to shoot a rifle at a lake.
“What am I shooting for?” Joe looked at me out of the side of his head. “Whatever,” he said. “Just for fun. Shoot whatever you want.” I didn’t tell him, but I was aiming for the creature in the lake. I wasn’t sure which lake to shoot, so I picked the one I was already looking at. My ears were ringing, and through the riflescope I saw the splash the bullet made in the lake. Joe saw it, too. “Cool,” he said. He chuckled. “Got it,” I said. But unless the creature sank, I missed. As we were walking back to the fourwheelers, Joe told me about the little people. “There’s little people in these willows,” said Joe. “If they catch you when you’re a baby they won’t hurt you or anything, they’ll take care of you.” “Is that who’s laughing?” I asked. Joe stopped and turned to me, “Are they laughing at you because you missed?” I smiled, and thought about how a bear could pop up out of the willows at any moment. I wondered if Joe or I would be able to hit such a target. “We couldn’t even come up here in these willows before,” said Joe. “Why not?” “Because of the creature and all that,” he said. “We couldn’t come up here until one Korean man started hunting up here, and then we all started to come up here.” “This is a weird place,” he said. “A nice place to be.” I nodded, and kept turning my head, looking for a few seconds at each of the two lakes. “Ask me questions,” said Joe. “I’m your guide.”
An Interview with
D. Delano Flask
by Samuel P. Sloane D. Delano Flask is not yet widely known in the fine arts. He may never be. But I have paid him close attention for a month now, and his work has seldom lacked qualities worth explicating. His art pieces combine image and text in ways that, however dull visually, create an unseen unifying aesthetic across the disparate mediums. A simple example: a tough-looking, black and blue-eyed thug is accompanied by the story of a kidnapping. A more daring example: an earnest depiction of Mr. Potato Head is accompanied by a passage from A.P. Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism. The work is, overall, amateurish, but D. Delano Flask is an artist of recognizable ambition and versatility. I recently spoke with him at a café in Olympia, Washington over coffee and scones. Sanuel P. Sloane: “I hope you don’t mind my getting right into the interview. I’ve been following your work for over a month now, and I’ve noticed certain trends. Your early drawings – the pencil drawings – are somewhat straightforward. You use lots of thin, heavy lines and you use shading and texture in unexpected places. But your colored work, especially, has become increasingly grotesque: eyes replaced by abstract shapes, facial structures artificially geometrical, haphazard mixing of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional elements. Even when you draw from source material, as in your portrait of Frank Sinatra, the result is a bit twisted and unreal. But it’s not twisted and unreal in the manner of, say, George Grosz or Ralph Steadman; your work is twisted by a feeling of competing aesthetic urges, irreconcilable artistic aims. Does this, to you, mirror the current art scene? – the conflict of
styles, the seemingly innumerable artists who are all ‘doing their own thing’ with no clear formal grounding?” D. Delano Flask: “No, I don’t pay much attention to other artists.” SPS: “Okay. Let’s talk about your writing. The text for each drawing gives the piece a sort of coherence. You don’t juxtapose styles in your writing as you do in your drawings. Let’s take, for example, the untitled piece you’ve priced at $240. The face on this piece is disjointed, with whimsical exaggerations of shape and color. But the accompanying text is a straightforward narrative, a memory. This bizarre-looking person is simply telling us a tale from his childhood! The words allow us to sympathize with the character, while his image bewilders us. And, in my opinion, this is precisely what words do: they clarify ambiguities; they reform weird, subjective experience into objective terms; they render the five senses intelligible. Your art always combines these two things: the easily-distorted, sensible image of a thing and its textual correlate.” DDF: “Yeah, I see what you mean.” SPS: “Good… You use an old, manual typewriter to write on these pieces. Why? Are you skeptical about computers and word processors? Does typewritten text complement aspects of your drawn work? I have my guesses about this, but I’d like to hear your reasons.” DDF: “I’ve got a typewriter handy. I don’t have to plug it into the wall. And I like how it sounds when I type – clackclack-clack! clack-clack! Plus, my handwriting is pretty bad.” SPS: “Ah. The typewritten words also
have an interesting sensual relation to your drawings. The texture of the type is much different from what a computer would print. On your work, there are sometimes typos that have been corrected by superimposition; some letters have that peculiar ghost that typewriters can leave; some of the periods punch right through the page. Your images often appear trapped between realism and imagination; the typewritten text appears trapped between the uniformity of spell-checked, digital print and the rough imperfections of handwriting.” DDF: “I don’t have spell-check on my computer, though. I make lots of typos there, too.” We returned to sipping our coffees and gazed out the café window. Mr. Flask seemed to relax a little, knowing the interview was over. He talked about the rain falling outside on the street, and then left me with a handshake and a curious half-frown. I stayed in the café a while longer, fingering the handle of my coffee mug and considering all that he’d said. The art of D. Delano Flask and my responses to his work can be seen online: http://ddelanoflask. blogspot.com/