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Issue #1 Vol. 2

Top 3 Incoherent Movies (page 33)

Revolution (page 2)

What I Love About Metal (page 15) Cultural Appropriation of Yoga (page 27)

Northern Gateway Pipeline (page 10)

Cover photo by Michael Cuthbertson


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REVOLUTION

There’s going to be a revolution! By Nicholas Marlatte - ASSOCIATE EDITOR Earlier in the week Russell Brand shook up public media in an interview with BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, in which Brand agreed that he was “making a call for revolution.” The English comedian, who was interviewed for being invited to be the guest editor of the New Statesman validated his cry for social change in the face of the staggering promotion of social division, inequality and environmental degradation under our current capitalist regime.


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REVOLUTION The radical nature of his position was met with ardent criticism by Paxman who saw Brand’s history of not voting as a disqualifier to his position. Paxman claimed that “In a democracy that’s how it works . . . if you can’t be asked to vote why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view?” To this, Brand shared his discontent with the formal workings of our ‘democratic’ system and the “tacit complacency” that is expressed by voting. This echoes with Trotsky’s position that it is necessary to reveal “the hard kernel of social inequality and lack of freedom hidden under the sweet shell of formal equality and freedom—not in order to reject the latter but to spur the working class into not being satisfied with the shell, but rather, by conquering political power”.(1) Brand can easily be criticized for his complete disengagement from voting and his expression that others should do the same, especially given its power to show discontent, but it cannot be doubted that he recognized the severe and serious nature of the problem our planet faces. The system is not working and Brand thinks that this will lead to a revolution. Barring his optimism that a revolution is inevitable, it is evident that a revolution is necessary. Discontent in the political system, due to its inability to truly represent the majority of people who find themselves in the lower classes, is not only a result of the inability of politicians who have been tailored for office to relate to people but also of a systematic dismantling of our legislative bodies to have any power to represent us. This arises out of the growing advancement of policies

November 1, 2013

“Discontent in the political system, due to its inability to truly represent the majority of people who find themselves in the lower classes, is not only a result of the inability of politicians who have been tailored for office to relate to people but also of a systematic dismantling of our legislative bodies to have any power to represent us.” for ‘liberalization’ that sees our regulative bodies being subordinated by the interests of private corporations and the solidified regimes of capital. Most concretely looming is the pending Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which has been proposed and marketed as a means of promoting free trade between Europe and Canada in a manner that will have mutual economic benefit. Purposefully omitted is the means by which trade agreements such as this promote financial gains by undermining the regulatory forces in place within countries, ultimately giving private interests the ability to punish governments for imposing leg-


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(Above: Protestors highlight the myopic, money-centred interests of our current capitalistic system.) islation upon them for reasons such as Aboriginal land agreements, environmental protection or promoting public health. Through agreements like these, Canadian mining companies have been capable of destroying labour and environmental agreements in foreign countries so they can protect their own greedy interests. And under the currently enforced agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico, the North American Foreign Trade Act (NAFTA), the Canadian government has been pressured by numerous private corporations through NAFTA tribunals to change reasonable public policy and in raising litigation have sued the country for more than $160 million for expropriating their profits. For example, in 1997 the chemical company Ethyl overturned public

health legislation because of its claims through NAFTA. The company was shipping the neurotoxin methylclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) to Ontario where it was being mixed into oil and sent to gasoline refineries. MMT had been used in fuel production for a few years after the Clean Air Act in 1970 required the transition to unleaded gasoline, thus it was used as a substitute means of increasing the octane of refined fuels. In the mid ’70s this practice had been barred by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to potential environmental concerns. For decades Ethyl applied for waivers seeking permission with cases arguing against the legitimacy of the environmental concerns until it was finally concluded that MMT did not pose an issue with emissions, however


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REVOLUTION the practice was still not allowed by the EPA out of public health concern. This was ultimately overturned due to Ethyl winning a legal battle with EPA, claiming that they had no authority to make decisions based on public health. As Ethyl began re-implementing this practice and increasing its activity in Canada, the Canadian Government recognized the public health concerns and a bill was created to regulate MMT. In response Ethyl threatened litigation against the country through NAFTA. Despite this intimidation, legislation was passed in Parliament and Ethyl submitted a lawsuit in a NAFTA tribunal against the Government of Canada for $250 million. The suit claimed that Ethyl was facing an expropriation of its assets, that it was inappropriately being treated as a foreign company—given that no Canadian companies were using MMT—and that there were unnecessary “performance requirements” in the legislated safety measures. Within a year of raising this case, Ethyl was capable of overturning the public health legislation that was restricting their free enterprise and received a settlement of $13 million.(2) Such a conclusion exposes a dangerous reality of the state of regulating foreign investments under NAFTA and other trade agreements, as private companies are tacitly given the means to combat legislation that close off markets and industries they wish to exploit. Through this legal mechanism, corporation have been capable of implementing the agreement to successfully threaten litigation against legislators in an attempt to prevent them from ever passing reg-

November 1, 2013 ulations, while further being capable of undermining existing legislations and ensuring that the companies that aim to violate these laws are to be reimbursed for it by the country. These practices sound almost conspiratorial as those in Government make agreements to limit their own power and to undermine the political system’s effectiveness, but this is not a matter of reasonable policy but one of imposed dogma.

“Free trade agreements like this poison the well for future regulations and thus have an effect of allowing Harper’s postulated policies to persist even when other parties are in Government by preventing them to overturn policies and instead giving power to unaccountable corporations who can then threaten the political system.” Neoliberal ideologues such as Harper are more than willing to reduce the power of government in the face of its destructive effects on our democracy in an attempt to extend the “liberalizing” of the market. Even further,


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(Above: An advertisment protesting FIPA, a piece of legislation that would see corporations be made even less accountable to regulations.) free trade agreements like this poison the well for future regulations and thus have an effect of allowing Harper’s postulated policies to persist even when other parties are in Government by preventing them to overturn policies and instead giving power to unaccountable corporations who can then threaten the political system. With the impending power of foreign investment that looms as the current government aims to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between a number of countries in North and South America, Asia and Australia, the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China, and CETA shows the dire situation our democratic political system faces against the death grip of private capital. With there being no legal framework within the system that can be used to overturn these agreements, our solutions necessarily have to be radical. And given their ability to undermine our current ability as citizens to democratically vote for policies vital

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for ensuring environmental protection and the mitigation of the impending ecological crisis, there is no choice but that of revolutionary actions and development outside of the political realm. As we head towards catastrophic environmental destruction and the resulting social degradation, rising sea levels and temperatures will force mass displacement of peoples, food scarcity and rampant disease which will kill millions. At the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union last year in San Francisco, complex systems researcher Brad Werner’s presentation, “Is Earth F**ked,” attracted attention as the University of California:San Diego geophysicist outlined a complex analysis of the feasibility of environmental management and sustainability. His conclusion directly found that the depletion of resources in our global capitalist system was happening too rapidly for there to be any chance of sustaining ourselves on this planet. However, Werner also found there to be an effective alternative within the system to futilely accepting oblivion in that forms of “Resistance” offered hope in promoting sustainable living. “Resistance”, Werner defined as, “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”, including “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups.” Werner was not necessarily making a call to action as Russell Brand


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(Above: Movements such as Idle No More represent the sort of “Resistence” that Werner sees as being capable of offering an alternative to accepting humanity’s race towards oblivion under the current, unsustainable system of capitalism.) is; scientists do not usually make prescriptive claims like this, but Werner simply sees that there is genuine effectiveness in popular uprising in that it offers a means of slowing the cannibalistic growth of capitalism. “[If] we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics,” which Werner considers to amounts to “really a geophysics problem”.(3) This prescription gives us reason to hope and to commit ourselves as movements like Occupy, Idle No More and environmental activism give force to

discontent against entrenched forms of oppression and imposition upon the people and planet. And pushes towards localization and sustainability of resource shows a radical shift from international market economics. In describing the nature of revolution, Noam Chomsky invokes Rosa Luxemburg’s critique of Leninism by holding that “a true social revolution requires a “spiritual transformation in the masses degraded by centuries of bourgeois class rule . . . it is only by extirpating the habits of obedience and servility to the last root that the working class can acquire the understanding of a new form of discipline, self-discipline arising from free


The MC Press consent”. And as part of this “spiritual transformation”, a true social revolution will, furthermore, create—by the spontaneous activity of the mass of the population—the social forms that enable people to act as free creative individuals, with social bonds replacing social fetters, controlling their own destiny in freedom and solidarity.”(4) And through these movements we are seeing a spiritual transformation in the understanding of what is politically possible after centuries of capitalist and colonial rule, and the necessary rebuilding of social relations that are sustainable and aiming to cease the destructive momentum of our current regime. Unfortunately the elites that continue to rape the planet and its people have not felt the full force of discipline. They see apathy within the system as convenient and unchanging. There is an incredible ease through which resignation and escapism can be an easy solution to the daunting adversity of the entrenched power of capital that the planet currently faces, especially given the multitude of exciting alternatives to caring. Brand himself spoke of the boring seriousness that is taken by those attempting to address political issues, and that activism needs to be made fun and sexy. “Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto.” In this vein, French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir masterfully articulates that in seeking self-determination, “in order for the idea of liberation to have a concrete meaning, the joy of existence must be asserted in

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each one, at every instant; the movement toward freedom assumes its real, flesh and blood figure in the world by thickening into pleasure, into happiness.” The rebellion that is vital for our continued existence must maintain and promote our vitality as people. She continues, “if we do not love life on our own account and through others, it is futile to seek to justify it in any way.”(5)

Capitalism has been a radical force that has created and overturned the power of democracy and rapidly changed the world in mere centuries, but its momentum is towards a bleak decline that will unquestionably destroy any real capability we have of justifying our lives with the joys of life and will degrade human existence with a revolutionary force. It then is just up to us to ask ‘when are we going revolutionary in return?’ Given the necessity of radical change in the way that we as people relate to the environment and each other for us to continue living on this planet, there


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is no question that our lives can only be justified by acts of rebellion that assume our significance and promote it. Capitalism has been a radical force that has created and overturned the power of democracy and rapidly changed the world in mere centuries, but its momentum is towards a bleak decline that will unquestionably destroy any real capability we have of justifying our lives with the joys of life and will degrade human existence with a revolutionary force. It then is just up to us to ask ‘when are we going revolutionary in return?’

“in order for the idea of liberation to have a concrete meaning, the joy of existence must be asserted in each one, at every instant; the movement toward freedom assumes its real, flesh and blood figure in the world by thickening into pleasure, into happiness.” -Simone de Beauvoir

Works Cited 1. Rosa Luxemburg, “The Russian Revolution and Leninism or Marxism?,” University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1961, p. 77. (Written in 1918.) 2. “NAFTA’s Corporate Lawsuits” http://www.citizen.org/documents/ Fancy1.pdf 3. “Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt” http://www. newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt 4. “What does revolution mean to you?” http://www.newstatesman. com/2013/10/what-does-revolution-mean-you 5. “The Ethics of Ambiguity.” http://www.marxists.org/reference/ subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/ambi-

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NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINE

‘Line in the Sand’ Digs Under Headlines of Northern Gateway Debate

(Above: Tomas Borsa and Skyler Flavelle conduct an interview for their independent media project ‘Line in the Sand’ which seeks the perspectives on individuals living and working along the path of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.)

(Photos courtesy of Line in the Sand)


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November 1, 2013

By Michael Cuthbertson EDITOR-IN-CHIEF While most Canadians have some opinion on pipeline development in this country, far fewer Canadian citizens actually live directly along the route of an existing or proposed pipeline. Unfortunately, the views of the latter group have been largely omitted from media coverage of this hot-button debate, which asks: Should

we build pipelines through delicate ecosystems?


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One pipeline which has garnered much media coverage is the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline which would run through Alberta and British Columbia. However, as an independent journalist following the pipeline’s proposed path, Tomas Borsa believes that mainstream media outlets have missed the mark on telling the real stories and opinions concerning this massive project. “The perspectives presented in the media were really polarizing,” says Borsa, who goes on to explain that mainstream media has depicted a far too dichotomizing portrait of the multifarious groups of people affected by Northern Gateway. While the media could have highlighted the common interests of these groups, Borsa points out that the media chose instead to paint the various groups and their interests as being completely ad odds with one another. “Rural versus urban, economy versus environment, first-nations versus non-first-nations and Alberta versus British Columbia,” Borsa notes, are just some of the divisions created in the media’s portrayal of the story of public debate over the Enbridge pipeline. Feeling that this treatment of the Northern Gateway story was simply not sufficient, Borsa, having just completed a political studies degree, decided to help found “Line in the Sand,” a project which aims to catalogue the perspectives of people living along the pipeline route and put these views out in both book and documentary for-

NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINE mat for the general public to see. Borsa founded the group alongside friends Tristan Becker and Skyler Flavelle, who took B.C. in 2012 to start their grassroots journalism project. Since then, Becker has bowed out of the project while former Vice contributor Jean-Phillipe Marquis has come on board as the group’s videographer and photographer. Borsa hopes his team’s project will serve as a compliment to the Joint Review Panel process, which sought to provide a non-partisan environmental assessment on the pipeline’s impacts should it be approved.

“[While] the Joint Review Panel was as good as it could have been, it was still bad,” - Tomas Borsa “[While] the Joint Review Panel was as good as it could have been, it was still bad,” he explains. Significantly, the panel was held after the passing of Bill-C38, which had major ramifications on the approval process for projects such as the Enbridge pipeline. With Bill C-38, Borsa says, “The Environmental Assessment Act was essentially thrown out the window [and resulted in] a huge loosening of restriction on industry.” In addition to holding the JRP after the passing of Bill C-38, the legitimacy of the JRP appears to have also been threatened by the way in which the meetings were


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held; the panel sessions were held during the daytime (when most people typically work) and took place in urban centers, far away from many of the more remote communities that would be affected by the development of the pipeline. A truly unique and exciting thing about Line in the Sand is its focus on reaching out to the wide variety of communities situated along the pipeline path. When considering the inability of the JRP, as well as the media covering the debate, to seek out these individual voices, the importance of Line in the Sand becomes quite salient.

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for an answer” on the subject of the Keystone XL pipeline. In light of all this pro-pipeline sentiment from the ruling political authorities in Canada, it seems the Northern Gateway pipeline may indeed move forward. Regardless of the outcome, Borsa says he hopes to use Line in the Sand to show the public that numerous people along the pipeline route “feel an incredible sense of connectedness to the land and that all this is put at risk if the pipeline goes through.” He elaborates that the pipeline “could be endangering the fundamental belief systems [of those

(Above: the route of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.) The JRP ended on June 25, 2013. Following this, British Columbia officially rejected the proposal. Nevertheless, B.C. premiere Christy Clark proposed five conditions to Enbridge for approval of the pipeline to be granted. Similarly, Harper, following his typical policy of refusing to seek any opinion beyond his own, remarked he, “won’t take no

along the route].” Indeed, the ecological catastrophe caused by an oil spoil in any number of the sensitive habitats which the pipeline crosses, would be devastating to nearby communities. After following the story of the Northern Gateway, Line in the Sand will only have more opportunities to spread the stories of people


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affected by similar projects. Saskatchewan has oil sands of its own up north and Borsa suggests that, in the near future, protecting Saskatchewan and Alberta from the potential harm caused by pipeline development will be a huge issue. And even though Northern Gateway, and oil sands transportation in general, may seem like a story only of interest to regions directly impacted, Borsa points out that there are some fundamental, even universal, moral problems posed in the case of the Northern Gateway pipeline. He recalls interviewing one philosophy professor along the route of Northern Gateway, who painted the pipeline’s development as a classic utilitarian problem, namely, whether it is morally okay to harm a small group of people in order to benefit a larger group of people.

“[one interviewee] painted the pipeline’s development as a classic utilitarian problem, namely, whether it is morally okay to harm a small group of people in order to benefit a larger group of people.” Similarly, there are questions concerning economics and risk management that the explosive, and apparently imprudently hasty,

NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINE

(Above: The Line in the Sand crew preparing for an interview.) development of pipelines such as the Northern Gateway, poses. The Northern Gateway proposes to ship raw bitumen—an unrefined form of oil from the Alberta tar sands—to Asia. As Borsa muses, “this violates economics 101, which says you should always sell the highest quality product that you can.” While the decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline should be made sometime in the coming months, it is clear that the bigger story is only beginning to unfold. The film portion of Line in the Sand will hopefully be out in December of this year, though Borsa says him and his fellow documentarians have a lot of footage to pour through. In the meantime, people can contribute to Line in the Sand’s Kickstarter campaign, which runs until November 13 and needs $6000 dollars to make the project a reality.


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METAL APPRECIATION

November 1, 2013

What I Love

About Metal (Above: Good, clean fun.) By Michael EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Cuthbertson

(Below: Yngwie Malmsteen, master shredder.) -

Metal is a divisive genre. It’s right up there with country and classical as a decidedly “love it or hate it” style of music. I happen to love metal. I should qualify this by saying I far prefer fast, technical metal—like thrash or death metal, genres more in the tradition of prog-rock—to the slower, “cookie monster vocal” styles of metal. Primarily, I appreciate metal that is intricate but still something you can mosh to.


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(Top: Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Middle: Mille Petrozza of Kreator, Bottom: Black metal band, Dimmu Borgir)ees attempted suicide by

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Usually I try not to proselytize people to metal who evidently have no interest in the genre. People who dislike metal have often told me that they don’t like how religious metalheads get about defending metal. I happen to think this overt zeal for heavy music is just the result of people really enjoying something and being happy to express that enjoyment. Much like with country and classical, many people, including some intense and eclectic music lovers, will turn something off the second they realize it is metal and will as a hard and fast rule avoid any show if the bands playing are metal bands. I think for some people this is a result not only of a genuine aesthetic disliking for how metal sounds, but also a disliking of the all-ornothing culture surrounding metal. Case in point, at many metal shows I’ve went to, non-metalheads—who to their credit do show up to expand their musical horizons and (heaven forbid) are not wearing black t-shirts—always tell me somewhat cheekily how they “don’t feel metal enough to be at the show.” I happen to think this perception that metalheads are othering non-metalheads at shows is exaggerated, but if it is true, let me as a metal fan say that I think those people persecuting other concert goers are not earnest metal fans and are, on the contrary, into the scene for something other than the music. I give you this lengthy preamble because I do not want the following description of why I think more


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people should give metal a college try to be taken as some sort of “you suck if you don’t like metal” speech. I do not think metalheads are any better or worse than the rest of the world, but I do think that metal is, like country and classical, too frequently written off based on outward appearances before individuals can experience for themselves the emotional and, dare I say, spiritual phenomena associated with really getting into this music. A recent experience I had at this explains the often dark as well as epic lyrical themes of metal music). Eventually shoving began and, like a levy that had been waiting to erupt, the more enthusiastic listeners up front began bashing into each other. A large circle formed front and center before the stage and the mayhem began. The frantic thrash grooves pummelled away while people likewise pummelled into each other, shoulder-checking with an intensity that only a citizenry raised on hockey could muster.

“The frantic thrash grooves pummelled away while people likewise pummelled into each other, shoulder-checking with an intensity that only a citizenry raised on hockey could muster.”

November 1, 2013 People wiped out on beer and other moshers helped their brethren up to keep the carnage roaring away. For people who haven’t moshed, it might all look a little funny or scary perhaps. Perhaps it looks like some tribal cultural dance, with the tribe butting into each other like deer as a sort of symbolic plea to have the gods above bless their tribe’s ensuing venture into battle. Personally, I don’t care what it looks like, but rather what it feels like to mosh to great metal. It is, to borrow a lyric from the punk band Propagandhi, a “rhapsodic, transcendental state.” I feel lifted off the oppressive face of the earth. I feel free and, despite the fact that to the outside observer I appear to be antagonistic with other moshers, I actually feel as though we are united in something bigger and higher than the usual drudgery of humanity’s vapid, modern-world existence. I feel a oneness with the music to a level that cannot be aroused in me by standing with my hands in my pockets while bobbing my head gently to the beat of the song. I feel that music does have an immense, visceral power and that, in the mosh pit, that power has been imparted unto me. The mosh pit might not look like a political act, but when I see bodies flying out of the corner of my eye, while I myself shoulder-check the sweaty, beer-soaked backside of another mosher, I think that here, perhaps more than anywhere else in my town, is a non-hierarchical human society really


The MC Press getting together with the kind of aggression and inner-flame needed to tear down the malevolent and warped powers we live under.

“The mosh pit might not look like a political act . . . but I think that here, perhaps more than anywhere else in my town, is a non-hierarchical human society really getting together with the kind of aggression and inner-flame needed to tear down the malevolent and warped powers we live under.” If nothing else, in the mosh pit I feel alive, not merely as a biological organism whose heart is still pumping, I mean really alive. Metal gives me something so humanizing and so inspiring and so rare. I admit when I first encountered it I mostly heard the “angry singing” and saw the apparently reticent fashion and behaviour of guys with long-hair and a wardrobe of exclusively black t-shirts and I didn’t really see what it was all about. But once I actually bothered to go out

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Essential Heavy Bands for Moshing 1. Megadeth: A band of “truly angry young men” as Alice Cooper once said.

2. Kreator: German thrash with vocals and guitar riffs that really grab your attention. 3. Slayer: Influencial on the rise of thrash, moshing and heavy music in general.

4. Propagandhi: Technically punk, but definitely some of the most mosh-inducing tunes out there. 5. Destruction: More methodical and evil German thrash (no implications about Germans intended).


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CRISIS IN SYRIA

November 1, 2013

The Humanitarian Intervention in Syria

By Nicholas Marlatte - ASSOCIATE EDITOR

(Top: A map of present-day Syria, Below: An overcrowded refugee camp in the Syrian province of Idlib.)


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1429 deaths of men, women and children were the result of a Sarin gas attack that devastated a community outside of the Syrian capital of Damascus on August 21, 2013. Due to Sarin being a highly potent nerve agent that can within minutes inhibit the nerve activity of the body— eventually resulting in death by suffocation—it has been deemed a weapon of mass destruction since its use by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Gulf War. So naturally, the international community has turned their focus to upholding the UN sanctions that were infringed upon by taking measures to protect the people of Syria by ensuring that similar attacks are not possible in the future. Most notably taking the lead is the leviathan the United States, which is being led by Barack Obama who is beating the drum of war. In an address to the Nation on September 10th, 2013, Obama argued that: “As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians.” He qualified his position by ex-

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plaining that: “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective: deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad’s capabilities.” Further, Obama asked: “What kind of world will we live in if the United

“What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?” -President Barack Obama States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?” This remark is a seemingly insubstantial upholding of the law, given that the U.S. has previously used chemical weapons such as Agent Orange in Vietnam— which they escaped litigation from due to legal loopholes that allow its production as a herbicide—as well as the fact that they would likely


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(Above: President Barack Obama’s words concerning Syria have, in a similar vein to the words of past Presidents, painted America as a moral guardian over the middle east. contains depleted uranium. Tomahawks have been shown to considerably increase rates of cancer and childhood abnormalities where they’ve been deployed. Because of this, the UN General Assembly has attempted to criminalize the weapons but has never succeeded because of the potential sanctions also being opposed by the countries of France, the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States. In pushing that there was a necessity for action, Obama expanded by claiming that, though “America is not the world’s policeman,” in recent history it has been the “anchor of global security.” Because of this, he concluded that “terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed

to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.” Despite his best efforts, Obama’s campaigning for military action has since been overshadowed by the unprecedented and potent Op-Ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Within this piece, the former highly-ranked KGB operative bolstered the structure of the UN as a basis for reasonable interaction and legislation of the international community that needs to be followed for there to be any reasonable diplomacy— a call for structure given the U.S.’s plan to take military action would be going against the Security Councils decision to not intervene. One that mirrors Obama’s own concerns about how the world may be if Assad is not punished. The bitter


The MC Press such international sanctions such as in the example of the Iraq war. This is further made farcical by, their most relevant ally in the situation, Israel, given its dozens of violations—several of which have been committed against Syria itself.(1) Putin, to conclude his piece, chose to take personal offence against a long held identification as an exceptional country born out of, and encompassing the spirit of, liberal thought and democracy, which it is then supposed to help spread throughout the rest of the world. He remarks that: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”(2) Such a foundational attack on the rhetoric used and propagated to legitimize war in the U.S. has proven to be successful in deterring any form of military intervention, for now, as both Putin and Obama have joined to push for a diplomatically agreed upon disarmament of chemical weapons in Syria. This alternative allows Obama to save face in retracting his position on militancy, as support in the U.S. of an intervention is low. The the U.S. is experiencing a fatigue from being at war for over a decade, since the

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attacks on 9/11. Obama knowingly admitted this in his National Address as he quoted a veteran that he had talked to who expressed “This country is sick and tired of war.” This is coupled with the general demystification that has arisen concerning the government’s past attempts to justify military action, for instance its utter failure to provide or create substantial justification for the conflict in Iraq. All of which is undermining the goals of the Obama Administration with Syria. The truth is however that the war that Syria is facing is an incredibly difficult situation to address since it has the potential to destabilize the area and lead to further death and destruction. It cannot be guaranteed that military intervention would benefit the people of the area by helping to expedite the conflict

“Since the beginning of the war, over 1.9 million refugees have flooded over the borders to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, while 4.25 million Syrians are displaced within the country.” to a state of civility by helping remove the Allawite Assad Regime. This indeterminacy has many Syr-


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to act—though the Syrian people surely would like to be involved in the decision—given that the examples of Iraq and Libya both show that there will be an extension of violence whether the U.S. remains involved or if a power vacuum is left for the country to resolve itself. Regardless of the action, Syria is and will continue to be messy, and tens thousands of people will further die. Since the beginning of the war, over 1.9 million refugees have flooded over the borders to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, while 4.25 million Syrians are displaced within the country. The UN currently has nearly 7 million Syrian people under its care, while the funding that countries have committed to it for humanitarian activities only slowly trickles in. Only 1 per cent of the eleven million dollars promised to

“it is obvious that the U.S.’s desire to intervene in Syria is not defined by a humanitarian moral necessity, if it were they would perhaps be more willing to correct their own promotion of violence and immoral use of non-conventional weapons.”

November 1, 2013 supplying food and 3.7 per cent of the roughly 343 million dollars committed have actually been transferred to the necessary channels to provide aid. While it is estimated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that 65 per cent of Syrian refugees are not having their basic needs met. With such a significant lack of resources being committed to the well-being of these displaced Syrians, it is likely that we will see tens of thousands of them die from unfit conditions. This is in addition to the approximately hundred thousand deaths that the violent conflict has already inflicted upon the country(3)—a sad reality that contradicts Obama’s narrative of the U.S. acting to provide humanitarian aid and security. Given the hypocrisy and incoherence of their position, it is obvious that the U.S.’s desire to intervene in Syria is not defined by a humanitarian moral necessity, if it were they would perhaps be more willing to correct their own promotion of violence and immoral use of non-conventional weapons. However, their lack of ability to be the exceptional beacon of democracy that they use to judge the actions of others gives evidence to an ulterior motive in determining the fate of Syria. It is indisputable that the U.S. is strongly interested in maintaining a level of control in the Middle East, and Syria is right at their focal point due its proximity to Israel. The security of the U.S.’s sworn ally is paramount to their motivations in Syria given


The MC Press attack with there being chemical weapons produced so closely to their country. However the U.S.’s lack of effort towards stabilizing the countries accepting streams of refugees, and Obama’s lack of concern for the stability of Syria, shows a desire for instability in Israel’s neighboring Muslim countries— likely in the hope for regressive internal strife, much like Syria’s, that creates a focus for radical fighters in the region that away from Israel. Works Cited (1) Rogue State: Israeli Violations of U.N. Security Council Resolutions http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/01/27/ rogue-state-israeli-viola-

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tions-of-u-n-security-council-resolutions/ (2) A Plea for Caution From Russia: What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria http:// www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/opinion/putin-plea-for-caution-from-russiaon-syria.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (3) Letter to a Syrian Friend Who Said: ‘Your Opposition to the US Attack on Syria Means You Support the Asad Regime’ http://therealnews.com/t2/component/ content/article/132-more-blog-postsfrom-vijay-prashad/1729-letter-toa-syrian-friend-who-said-your-opposition-to-the-us-attack-on-syriameans-you-support-the-asad-regime#. UjPWZGVMeIA

(Below: Young victims of the sarin attack in Syria.)


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MUSIC REVIEW: CALVIN LOVE

November 1, 2013

Calvin Love is a lounge singer from the future, a silk heart throb. Dressed in an all navy-blue suit he croons frost melodies. This is Pop Music in the shadows. Vents blasting fog on a dim lit lover. Love, the man, is a drifting soul, through cities of the night. Calvin, the boy, is a romantic dreamer, Edmonton raised, biting winter throughout. The AM station New Radar has commissioned Love to write music for the late night travelers.


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MUSIC REVIEW: CALVIN LOVE

The frequency is only picked up in the dead desert. From dusk to dawn these twelve songs keep drivers rolling. Sentiments of nostalgia, mystery, and hope are perfectly portrayed by doo wop rhythms, satellite synths, and wet beats. Music for the left behind. Hard luck on planet earth in the space age. Calvin Love sooths the frigid wanderer, his bones dance for you.� - Peter grier


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RELIGION AND CULTURE OF YOGA

November 1, 2013

Yoga: The West’s Cultural Appropriation of an Eastern Religious Tradition by Vanessa Corkal

(Above: a statue of the Hindu god Shiva, in yogic meditation, in Bangalore, India. Below: A modern yoga studio.)

About a year ago, one of my WWOOF hosts invited me along to my first yoga class at Bikram HotYoga in Wellington, New Zealand. Not knowing anything about Bikram, I went along, mostly to appease my lovely and encouraging host. I left the 40-degree room feeling refreshed and relaxed. . .


The MC Press 28 RELIGION AND CULTURE OF YOGA It was a thorough, well-guided Without really thinking criticlass, and after leaving I felt recally about it, I started droplaxed in some ways but deeply ping in to hot and eventu- conflicted in others. I appreciated ally “regular” yoga classes the meditation aspect of the class, whenever I could along my but I couldn’t even understand New Zealand travels, from the chanting around me. I felt like hot yoga centres to YM- I had attended a mild religious ceremony, but instead of simply CAs. It was simply a form being a curious and appreciative of exercise: no chanting, spectator, I had play-acted as if I no meditation, few (if any) knew what I was doing. I wouldn’t breathing exercises, and no feel comfortable showing up to a discussions about mind- mosque and bowing to an Islamic prayer that I could not underfulness or spirituality. Other stand, so why was it okay to do than an occasional “namaste” at the end of the class, every place I went to was an extremely secular experience. Oddly, this is exactly why I didn’t mind going—this sort of yoga was so far removed from its cultural history that it was essentially guided stretching, just mislabelled. It took a drop-in at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in New Plymouth to remind me of yoga’s origins as a religious practice, not a physical one. One of the first forms of yoga to be introduced to a Western audience, the Sivananda approach incorporates pranayama (breathing) as well as relaxation and meditation (dhyana), and encourages students to practice a yogic lifestyle outside of class (for example, a proper diet and positive thinking). Less than half of the class I took in New Plymouth was focused on asanas, the physical aspect of yoga (postures) that Westerners typically associate with a yogic practice.

the same at yoga, even though the studio was not a religious temple?

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable showing up to a mosque and bowing to an Islamic prayer that I could not understand, so why was it okay to do the same at yoga, even though the studio was not a religious temple?” The following day I launched into a heated discussion with my boyfriend about the merits of going to this sort of class as opposed to a


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November 1, 2013

(Above: A calm environment to do yoga in, free from a soundtrack comprised of Arcade Fire and Michael Franti.) “yoga” fitness class that didn’t even acknowledge its own cultural history. Suddenly I didn’t want to go to yoga at all: I would feel like a disrespectful poser going to another Sivananda-style class, yet by going to completely secular classes I’d surely be taking part in an even worse form of cultural appropriation. I felt like it was all or nothing: either I don’t take part in yoga at all, or I dedicate a lot of time and energy to learning about yoga’s anthropological history and place in religious practice before even beginning to try downward dog. However, my self-imposed yoga exile barely lasted a month. I went through a rough patch a few months ago where I was essentially crippled

both physically and emotionally by anxiety. Desperate to try anything that might make me feel calm and normal, I went back to yoga. It was ninety minutes each day that I could focus on being mindful, respecting myself and teaching myself to be calm. Though it definitely wasn’t a cure-all, it sure didn’t hurt, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Since starting up again, I’ve noticed a few questionable things about the way we practice in Western culture—cultural appropriation being just one of them. All of my yoga classes in New Zealand were silent, so when I found it nearly impossible to find a class without music in Saskatoon I was rather stumped. If the idea is to fo-


The MC Press

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RELIGION AND CULTURE OF YOGA

cus inwards, isn’t music an innate distractor? Sure, by this point I’ve learned to tune out the new age-y pseudo-world music, even though it further exoticizes yoga in an unhealthy way; but pop music? Trying to meditate and focus on one’s breath while Arcade Fire plays in the background isn’t just frustrating, it’s counteractive. How am I supposed to still my mind when I can’t even hear the instructor over the blasting Michael Franti soundtrack? The omni-present soundtrack speaks to the fact that yoga as Westerners see it is a mostly physical experience. Having come back to yoga for different reasons than flexibility or toned muscles, I am more aware of this now. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that I can now reach my toes without even trying. But when an instructor has their classes doing crunches and push-ups to dance music, I wonder how I accidentally signed myself up for an aerobics class. Yoga to me seems like one of the most accessible forms of physical activity and meditation out there. So why is it, that out of the four studios I’ve visited here in Saskatoon, only one has a clientele that can be described as even moderately diverse? The majority of any given class seems to be thin, white, middle-class women between the ages of 20 and 40. Most are touting the latest in expensive, fashionable, hyper-sexualized yoga gear. Lululemon, I’m looking at you. This stuff does not come cheap. The other day I saw a woman wear-

ing a back-less Lululemon skin-tight onesie, and I overheard her say to her friend, “I got it in black to hide any bumps.” You can’t even buy Lululemon clothing in sizes larger than a women’s 12. Let’s not forget the average women’s dress size is a 14.

“When an instructor has their classes doing crunches and push-ups to dance music, I wonder how I accidentally signed myself up for an aerobics class.” I’d like to see yoga in my community truly be for every body. I want a non-intimidating, inclusive yoga where people of all ages, body types, genders, ethnicities, and physical abilities feel welcome. I want this in practice, not just in theory. Who cares if you have to take modifications to your poses while the person next to you is doing contortionist-style backward bends? Thinness does NOT equal flexibility or strength—neither the physical nor mental kind. That’s not to say there aren’t some interesting initiatives out there. “Karma” classes are rising in popularity—a by-donation class, sometimes to raise funds for charities. But I’ve even seen Karma classes with “minimum” donations, which seems to me rather contradictory. The proceeds go to a char-


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RELIGION AND CULTURE OF YOGA

ity, sure, but what about providing options to the underprivileged? I find the commercialization of yoga deeply disturbing. The mat, blocks, and clothing have become iconic, as have the images of young white women sitting serenely in lotus pose. While I recognize that people are making a living off of their studios, the idea of franchising yoga seems ridiculous. Yet it keeps happening—Moksha and Bikram are just two examples. Dare I say there are cults of personalities around certain “yoga” leaders such as Baron Baptiste (who runs yoga “boot camps”) and Bikram Choudhury, who tried to copyright a series of poses and was recently in the news for accusations of rape and sexual harassment. As his estranged former student Greg Gumucio says in an investigative ABC News piece, “the very idea of copyrighting a five-thousand-year-old Hindu discipline is absurd.” Fortunately, India fought back, and started to catalogue the thousands of yoga poses found in ancient texts in order to block those trying to profit from the region’s traditional knowledge. I come to yoga (and this article) as a classic overthinker who just wants to do the right thing. I don’t study religion or cultural studies academically and am far from being an expert on the themes I touch on briefly in this article. I’m not Hindu and there is not a speck of Indian blood in me. But yoga intrigues me, and it makes me feel good. I have had some wonderful experiences at

November 1, 2013

(Top: Lululemon’s yoga pants. Below: “Yoga” leader, Greg Gumucio


The MC Press

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RELIGION AND CULTURE OF YOGA

yoga, with educated, well-rounded and humble instructors. I want to be able to practice some form of yoga in a respectful way, while paying tribute to its cultural heritage. So here’s a plea to instructors and studios: Spend some time getting to know your students, and their reasons for coming. Don’t just focus on your advanced students—give newbies the support they need. Recognize the cultural roots of yoga, do so respectfully, and please spend some time explaining this to your students. How many first-timers even know that the word (and sound) om is one of the most sacred symbols in the Hindu religion—a prayer in itself?

“How many firsttimers even know that the word (and sound) om is one of the most sacred symbols in the Hindu religion—a prayer in itself?” And here’s my plea to you, the curious and the experienced: Yoga is a wonderful way to learn more about yourself, and I whole-heartedly encourage you to do it. Of course we should strive to be mindful during our practice, but it’s just as important to be mindful about our practice. Spend the time to find a studio or instructor that works for you, and

don’t hold back from asking questions. Acknowledge that yoga is a gift shared with us by a culture that is very much alive today. It is your and my responsibility to practice yoga in a way that respects its complex diversity and history.

Further readings: “Out of India.” from YogaJournal.com written by Indian-American writer Marina Budhos. An excellent and well-researched article. http:// www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/672 “My Practice: Yoga & Cultural Appropriation.” from ElephantJournal.com written by Canadian yoga instructor Andrea MacDonald. A fantastic piece about addressing cultural appropriation in her practice. http://www.elephantjournal. com/2012/10/my-practice-yoga-cultural-appropriation-andrea-macdonald/ “Shunning Plus-Size Shoppers Is Key To Lululemon’s Strategy, Insiders Say.” from HuffingtonPost.com written by Kim Bhasin. An enlighten-


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INCOHERENT MOVIES

November 1, 2013

The 3 Most Incoherent Movies I’ve Seen By Benjamin Turnbull FILM COLUMNIST

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(with special guest contributor Chester “Old Man” McGillicutty) Hey there folks! Ever see a movie that just plum didn’t make sense? A film that left you scratching your head in confusion like a character in the funny pages? Well I sure have, probably. But I’m a film student . . . for me, incoherence is to cinema as not having a face is to a person who got their face cut off in an industrial accident. So I thought I’d bring in a ‘fresh’ perspective for this list by reaching out into my community for an older, wiser contributor to add a steaming slice of class and astuteness to the proceedings. Loyal MC Press readers, please welcome this article’s very special guest author: retired shoe shiner and draft dodger, Chester “Old Man” McGillicutty. (Above: Turnbull & McGillicutty)


The MC Press

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INCOHERENT MOVIES

3. Memento (USA, 2000, Dir. Christopher Nolan)

Well I’ll tell ya one thing, ladies and germs. I’ve seen a barrelfull of picture shows in my day and am damned qualified to learn ya whethers or not they’s coherent. Back when I was a workin’ man, I ran into many a cinematic celebrity. I dun shined the shoes of Mary Pickford, Humphrey Bogart, and Klaus Kinski. Hell, I even shined ol’ Fatty Arbuckle’s penny loafers the day before the coitus crushing. Anywho, what’s I’m tryin’ to say is if there’s one “Old Man” you should trust the filmic opinions of, it’s Chester McGillicutty, consarn it! I know a helluva lot ‘bout incoherence too! ‘Twas just last Christmas that my family “forgot” me at church so they didn’t have to hear my old shoe shinin’ stories no more. Well excuse this

old man, but if you don’t find wax and tallow int’restin’ than I got’s no more words for you, sir. Where was I? Reviewin’ movies? I dun know shit ‘bout movies! Can’t you just let me die, Ben? I’m old and tired and my fingers hurt from the typin’ and I’m not entirely sure where my angina meds is at. Aha, angina! I used to be engaged to a German princess named Frau Angina. “Ver isch mein angina meds?!” she would always holler, ya see ‘cause she also suffered from angina. Ah, memories. Memories?! Ah, of course, Memento, that’s the nickelodeon I’m ‘sposed to be reviewing! Damned incoherent I tells ya. The whole spittin’ picture is backwards! Back in my day ya had a beginning, a middle, and an end and in that or


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INCOHERENT MOVIES

der, goddammit! That snarky Godard Frenchman don’t know shit from Shinola, and I should know ‘cause I rubbed that tar all over his fancy ass shoes at Cannes back in ’59. This here Memento confuse-fest was directed by Christopher Nolan, the man behind those dreadful Batmen films. It’s told in reverse chronological order because it’s the early 2000s and there’s no damn room for linear storylines or common sense or visiting ol’ Chester in his nursing home that he hates. Folks these days are too focused on their

November 1, 2013 printing presses and alternating currents to give a damn about fine storytellin’. I’m serious folks, this Christopher Nolan fella don’t know shit from Shinola. And I should know ‘cause I rubbed that tar all over his fancy ass shoes at…oh, deary me, Chester, you’re repeatin’ yerself like the ol’ useless codger you is. Ohhh, God take me now. What I’d give for my liver to fail…oh well, at least there’s time enough between reviews for me to get a sponge bath from my nephew Roger. That’s it boy . . . nice and spongey.

2. Vanilla Sky (USA, 2001, Dir. Cameron Crowe)

Ahhgha, I’m back. Thought ya’d gotten rid of me, didn’t ‘cha, ya ungrateful ingrates. Well I’m still alive, aha, and there ain’t a nothin’ y’all can do about it. What was we talkin’ ‘bout? Ah, yes: shoe shinin’.

I knew from the moment I was thrust outta my momma’s cahooga mukluk that my purpose on this stinkin’ space rock was to shine the footwear of my social betters. I worked my way up the shoe shi


The MC Press nin’ ladder until I reached the top. I shined the sandals of Jesus Christ himself, goddammit, and he tipped me with eternal life and crotchetiness. Oh . . . no, that’s not true, that was just a dream. Ah! Dreams! Vanilla Sky that’s . . . that’s why I’m here. Ohh, no one wants to hear about my life and my polish and my shoe rag, they just want to hear about how poorly Cameron Crowe can remake a decent Spanish film. In Vanilla Sky Thomas Cruise plays a wealthy, I dunno, architect or book publisher or somethin’ who’s casual coitus partner purposefully crashes the car they’re driving in in a fit of female jealousy that reminds me of my ol’ demon snake of an ex-wife, Deborah. Deborah . . . oh Debo-

“Thomas Cruise plays a wealthy, I dunno, architect or book publisher or somethin’ who’s casual coitus partner purposefully crashes the car they’re driving in in a fit of female jealousy that reminds me of my ol’ demon snake of an ex-wife, Deborah.” rah why’d you have to leave. Was it ‘cause I was ’motionally distant? Was it ’cause I was a drinker? Was it

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’cause my willie didn’t work after the war? Well I already told you, Deborah, I lost erectile function in ‘Nam when I went to visit after the war ended to see what I missed on account of my draft dodgin’. Stepped on an unexploded landmine I reckon…don’t rightly remember, nor do I care to, scudflummit! Speakin’ of not ‘memberin’ that’s exactly what happens to ol’ Tommy Cruise after the accident. He’s disfigured, similar to, if not exactly like, my twig n’ berries after ’Nam. He doesn’t know whether er not he’s in a dream or somethin’ and it’s damned confusin’.

“He doesn’t know whether er not he’s in a dream or somethin’ and it’s damned confusin’. Director Crowe fills the soundtrack with a load of “popular music” from the time (early 2000s again, the death of both common sense and my third marriage). This makes Vanilla Sky feel more like one of those Music Television song-reels that all the youngins is always talkin’ ‘bout. Well beans! A satchel full of moonpies! Hooey is what I’m tryin’ to say. My feet are cold. I can feel death’s wintery embrace enveloping my very essence. Take hold, mysterious stranger! Bring me back to the void so that my weary soul may rest. Please, Ben, don’t make me type anymore . . . my fingers are raw and bleeding . . . oh Lord save me from this fabulous hell.


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November 1, 2013

1. Up (USA, 2009, Dir. Pete Doctor)

“Up? What could you possibly not understand about Up? It’s a movie for children, ya ancient knuckle fart!” Well I’ll tellya what . . . this is just ’bout the most confusin’ picture reel . . . nay the most confusin’ thing, period, I ever seen (and I seen the bottom of Bette Davis’ high heels in the middle of Ju-ly). There’s an old man, not unlike me, Chester “Old Man” McGillicutty, whose wife dies. Now if I had my way with picture editin’, that’d be the end of the whole damn affair! There’d be no stinkin’ bloon ride, no fantastical jungle adventure, no flying dogs, and no pudgy boyscout with daddy issues. It’d be real, budslubbit! There’d be life, love, marriage, and then DEATH. Cold, unremorseful

death. And the old man would sit in his house filled with memories of his lost love and he’d stare at a wall. He wouldn’t cry, because he’s run out of tears. He’d just sit there, the ol’ codger, staring at his wall, waitin’ for his turn to ride the Black Scythe Railroad to Rot City. And we’d hold the cinematograph on his sullen face for the entire runnin’ time of the picture . . . watchin’ . . . waitin’ . . . hopin’ for the sweet relish release of Lady Deathrattle. But it never comes. His miserable existence goes on. He’s forced to write articles for a zine by some glasses wearing hepcat with a pube beard. He’s poked and prodded to deliver fresh content from his weary brain straight to the reader’s eyeholes.


The MC Press He waits every day for a bus to hit him or for an ungrateful grandchild to poison him with arsenic, but the day never comes. He lives on, floating through his “life� until one day he musters up the strength to buy an old, rusty revolver. He stares at his wall, pulls out his new toy, points it as his wrinkled temple, and pulls the trigger. *click* He pulls again *click* *click* *click click click* With a look of contempt for himself and every damned living creature on this godforsaken spitbucket, he realizes he forgot to buy bullets. Unphased, he proceeds to bash his head in with the butt of the gun. He anticipates each hit with glee, laughing mania-

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cally as the warm red stuff oozes out of his leathery skin, covering him in his own life essence. He thinks of his caretaker, Chad, and how awful it will be for him when he discovers his body. The thought excites him. He pulls out his member and begins to pleasure himself. His temple hits and groin tugs fall into a beautiful backbeat rhythm; his laughing becomes a lilting melody. Thirty eight minutes later, he is dead. His member has released its payload, his head is a jelly donut, and his bowels have been voided, but he has a sweet smile of relief on his unrecognizable face. Roll credits.

The MC Press Volume 2, Issue 1  

yoga, revolution, metal, thrash metal, pipeline, northern gateway, punk, hippie, incoherent movies, indie-rock, zine, underground, d.i.y

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