Lyrics: Failed States
Note To Self
“We view ourselves as rational creatures. But is it rational to wait like sheep in a pen as [they] steer us to mass extinction? Why continue to obey the laws and dictates of our executioners?” — Chris Hedges
No-fly list. No-drive list. No-walk list. No-talk list. No muckracking journalist left to take stock of the wholesale omission of outside perspectives. How does it make you feel to know that you voted for this? So much for your hopes and your dreams and your children. You just sat there believing in this bullshit system. Just wishing the mob would magically come to its senses. How does it make you feel to know you just stood by and watched it? Dazed. Numb. Powerless. Stunned. As we frantically click our heels, already home. The bands. The sports. The booze. It’s all that’s left of you. When the cops and the courts refuse to confess the sins of the few, what is there left to do? The answer’s there right before your eyes: rise.
29 years in human history: the total duration of time without war. What the fuck am I acting so surprised for? If I had a dime for every single idiotic time I felt like strangling some goof on the street, I could afford a business class seat on fucking Soyuz 13. Straight sandwiched between Tom Hanks and Lance Bass. Already fighting, nowhere near space. Each of us a failed state in stark relief against the backdrop of the perfect worlds we seek. Perfect world. Fantasy.
Take me back to those sweltering summer days. Bike down the gravel road to the creek outside the base. Sun on skinny arms, chin on knobby knees. Squatting in the cool of the rotting of the reeds. Enveloping. No one here but me. Never understood the other kids. The adults even less. So I hung out by myself in a backroad drainage ditch. I called it Devil’s Creek so it wouldn’t seem so sad. When you can’t have what you want, you learn to want what you have. These adaptive preferences have their way with you. Shape world events. In the wake of an ancient, shallow late Cretaceous sea – just this side of a clay-packed extinction boundary – a biome breathing, buzzing, humming in the heat. If I seem like I’m somewhere else, it’s Devil’s Creek.
Accept this moment, your spiritual cleansing. As your hair falls to the floor consider this your conversion, your final warning. Recite these words as we clean you of your filth. Are you defying God? What are you trying to prove? Spare your family the shame and yourself the sting of a rattan cane. This is the last night you’ll sleep corrupt and naïve. You’ll wake before the sun for your first steps down the path. Your childish dreams are gone, this time must come for everyone. You think you’re one of a kind? I see your type here all the time. I am patient, I am fair, but I am tired of you. Your treatment is just, our conscience remains clear. Let us be judged in the ever after. I look at you and I see nothing but a fool. To help you understand, your roommate will tell you about his journey to free his soul. While you’re listening take a closer look at his arms and his face, the gaping holes if he happens to crack a smile.
Dedicated to the “emos” in Iraq and the “punks” in Aceh Indonesia.
Ride fucking free, forty below, it’s the car that kills the punk. Pedal for momentum, feel the fucking vibe, blaze through traffic, burn the red, push my luck. There’s not much I need, I ride a single speed, my toque and mitts protect me from the freeze. Hadron Collision. I’m ripping through a cloud of exhaust. A fucking conniption, in their cages on wheels they fucking rot. I might be trapped in a world going backwards but nothing’s in vain – right now I’m happy just to clog up your lane. There’s not much I need, I’ll leave you with your greed to wallow in your shit ’til you can’t breathe. A head-on collision, a species that’s lost all control. We’ll learn by extinction: we don’t need all that shit we’ve been sold. We might be headed for the brink of disaster but nothing’s in vain – right now I’m happy just to clog up your lane. If all that I can do is just stay on the move, keep a few cents from your grasp – that’s all I need to prove. I’ll see you on the bus. It’s the car that kills the punk.
It’s like I’m a fucking fuse and you’re a fucking hot flame. And now I’m daring you to step up into my path. You’re a billboard in my face. A bullhorn in my ear. Thanks for the status update. You’ve made it crystal clear. I’m a fucking fuse and you’re a big, dumb flame. And now I’m daring you… You’re a bullhorn in my face. A billboard in my ear. Thanks for the status update. You’ve made it crystal clear.
You were a flash of light across a sky of total dark. You saw their shocked and gaping jaws then it all returned to black. There was a brief surge of panic, their eyes pressed tight. You brought a swarm of confusion to their bleak but simple lives. Cognitive suicide. Insular, pathetic minds try to cut you off at the knees so they won’t be left behind. If everything is bland and unambiguous, maybe they can understand how they fit into this place. Every time they fail they seek a victim for their spite. Some dismal need to crush someone beneath their feet. All their acrid words can’t ease their wounded hearts. Despite their claims they have no maps, no keys to any gates. Cognitive suicide. Insecure, regressive minds try to cut you off at the knees so they won’t be left behind. Petrified, frozen to imaginary times. Pay no mind, I hope they pass you by. Live your life and don’t apologize to the cowards of this world, they’re a waste of time. Everything’s in between. Are they terrified of unobscured and brilliant colours? Perhaps you cracked the door to their own forbidden worlds. Everything’s in between.
This song is dedicated to Caster Simenya, a middle-distance runner who was subjected to a public and humiliating “gender verification” after winning the 800 metre World Championships in 2009; and Eudy Simelane, a footballer on the South African women’s national team who was beaten, raped and murdered as a “correction” for being a lesbian and LGBT activist. While Eudy’s life was tragically cut short, Caster perservered and continues to compete in track at the highest level. “Coward” here refers to those who are afraid to think, learn and look critically at themselves, not those who may hesitate, are afraid, or are too physically weak to “fight” in the traditional sense.
Things I Like
I like Kurt Russell as Captain Ron. Grace Under Pressure on in almost any circumstance. I like dark planetariums. I like when she wears them low-cut shirts and yoga pants. I like unbroken snow on lodgepole pine boughs. The rusty pump of a jay’s forest communiqué. And I like a rowdy fuckin’ Pride parade. I like how Hedges tells it like it is. I like the sciences. I like profound mysteries. I like The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” and the emergence of competing histories. And I like the Maple Leafs cuz they remind me of me: inconsistent, fragile, internationally reviled. I like allegories. Cinderella stories. Ahow ndinawemaaganiidog (Hello my relatives). Wabanakwut ndigo (My name is Grey Cloud). Aapijii iinzan miwenzha kete-Anishinaabeg gii-soongide’ewag (Long, long ago the old Aboriginal people were strong hearted). Kii-gichi-anokiiwag, gii-jiikendamoog (They worked really hard, they were happy). Aapijii iinzan gii-chikinaagoziiwag (They really looked the way they moved). Kete-Anishinaabeg ogiiwiidookaawaawaa’ shaganaashiiwag (Those old Aboriginals supported and helped the Europeans). Gegoo wiin wiikaa oniikesiidaa (Let us never forget). Pizaanigo Nagamok (Go ahead and sing you guys). Nagamog isa naa! (Sing you guys!) I like speculative fiction – dark narratives of the future that looms. Of our impending doom.
We describe the sensation as a tearing in our chests and there is a quality in Freiburg’s father’s post-war wail that reaches through the world’s worst speakers and beseeches anyone who happens by, on their way to somewhere else – clicking through the endless screens for the garbage on the shelves (reflections of ourselves) – to consider the cost of all this shit we seem to think will fill our perforated souls. We’re more hole than human being, can’t wash away that stink. 13 billion years in the making: a live, unfiltered moment. An unscripted encroachment upon the province of routine evil – of all-too-human people. So pious, so peaceful. So quick to turn on you. Thought I was fucking outta here with two middle fingers in the air. Then like a mile-wide meteor, he came crashing through my door. That’s just how it goes. And everybody knows ain’t too much can be done. All the avarice and greed and puny human hatreds that dare to come between two human hearts. I try not to live in fear and I’m truly grateful for every happy moment here. Upstairs I hear her voice softly singing to him and I come undone. Something wicked this way comes. That’s just how it goes and everybody knows ain’t too much can be done.
For H and FR: my two most favourite unscripted moments.
Another day of life, I was drifting off in thought but I can’t escape this nightmare very long. Young girls flag the johns who troll the block in circles, waiting for their moment to take the plunge. All of us crossing paths. We’re all in the same place but it seems we’re living in parallel worlds. I try to imagine the predator’s stinking breath, his body against mine, the foulness when he’s spent. All of us passing by. Somewhere in the alleys of our minds we all have our secret worlds. Some are haunted by memories, some have an impulse to be cruel, and they’re watching intently to see who they can use. You don’t know who’s a freak, and on this street they’re out here lurking all the time. Amidst the swirling snow I saw a friend out jonesing and cold, she was pacing and waiting alone for an unknown. I guess that life has taken its toll. The vultures circle close. At any moment we might slip and fall. The jackals are waiting, waiting for us all.
I have this recurring nightmare: flailing pigeon, her broken feet frozen solid to the freezing pavement. I turn away as if I do not see. I have this childhood memory of my old man screaming from the driver’s seat to turn away from an unfolding horror, but he could not undo what I had seen. We never spoke of it again. Two more hapless citizens of the new post-traumatic stress worldwide disorder. A stockholm syndrome fifth estate, desperate to batten down the mounting horrors and shuffle on in a global lotus gait. Content to marinate in the plasma glow of the home entertainment prisons we commune before like dime-store shrines. Are these but votive lives? It’s a strangled, twisted truss that shores-up each of us. So anything to dull the pain of a splintered lotus gait. As for me a filigree of psychic police tape tends to cordon-off off the darker scenes. But the wandering mind stumbles through it and relives them all eventually. Pries open wide your eyes and shines a painful light on the guilt, the fear, the shame. The courage never came from the plasma glow of the home entertainment prisons we cling to like dime-store shrines. Are these but votive lives? Conservative at heart. A conformist from the start. A stockholm syndrome fifth estate. A staggering lotus gait. It’s a strangled, twisted truss that shores-up each of us. So anything to dull the pain of a self-inflicted, crippling lotus gait.
Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)
A primordial flow across the blood-brain barrier. Cryptic ring structures bind to receptors. These duplicate keys throw the floodgates open on a raw datasphere of pure information. An inner path to outer space or a facile article of faith? Falsifiable fantasies or freestanding parallel realities? We’re so frequently seduced by such novel, exotic views. Our confirmation biases leverage everything we perceive. Visions so astonishing, preposterous, impossible. A cosmic lattice of calligraphies, geometries unthinkable. Infinite Jaali screens, alive, florescent/fluorescent as I shatter, melt. Annihilation. Rolling hills. The water flows. The flowers bloom. There is no me. There is no you. There is all. There is no you. There is no me. And that is all. A profound acceptance of an enormous pageantry. A haunting certainty that the unifying principle of this universe is love.