Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes
Mate Ka Moris Ukun Rasik An
Dickheads shit-talk huddled and single-file. First-world frat-boys and prairie skinheads who will never walk a mile or mourn a murdered friend in this tiny woman’s shoes. Drink up and mumble your abuse. I’m still humbled by it all: around the same time that i was riding with no hands, busting windows and getting busy behind the sportsplex (with Labonte’s older sister decked out in her Speedos), Bella was flinching from the sting of a Depo Proveran “family planning,” her own Pearl Harbour and a holocaust spanning 25 years to the rest of her life. A prison my country underwrote in paradise. And in the shadows of Santa Cruz, she crossed her fingers behind her back. Built Suharto a Trojan horse and lay still till the motherfucker sent her north where as night fell she emerged with a box under her arm that held her pledge of allegiance and her uniform. She laid it at the gates of the General’s embassy and her whisper echoed into dawn as she disappeared: The truth will set my people free.
This song was inspired by the real-life story of Bella Gahlos. We met her in 1997 at an East Timor Alert Network benefit in Winnipeg. We are humbled to have crossed paths with her. This is her story:
Bella Gahlos is one of three East Timorese who have defected to Canada. She was only three years old when Indonesia invaded her country. Her two young brothers were beaten to death and her father was thrown into jail when the Indonesian military entered her home in January 1976. After the Dili massacre, her older brother was jailed and brutally tortured for having made a “Free East Timor” T-shirt worn by some of the demonstrators.
Although she focused on her personal experience as a young survivor of the Indonesian occupation, Bella also addressed U.S. complicity in the invasion and occupation of East Timor and the United States government’s continuing military and economic support for the brutal Suharto regime.
In her talks, Bella often recounted her experience with Indonesia’s forced sterilization of Timorese women and girls. She was only thirteen years old when the military came to her school and asked all the young women to line up after forcing the boys to leave the room.
“They told us we needed to be injected to stay healthy,” she explained. “I was frightened; I didn’t trust them. Five of them had to hold me down, and they had a very hard time. Then they came to my home the same week and injected me again.”
Much later, with the help of Bishop Belo, she discovered that she and her classmates had been injected with Depo-Provera (a birth control drug).
Bella also spoke of living under a constant fear of being raped: “Women in East Timor are raped all the time by the military. They just come into your home and force you.”
Bella began to work with the underground resistance in 1989, helping to plan demonstrations and convincing other women to take an active role in the movement. In 1991, Bella helped to organize the peaceful march to the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili. When the Indonesian military opened fire on the demonstration, Bella managed to get herself and her pregnant aunt over the high cemetery walls to safety. More than 250 of her friends were not so lucky, being brutally killed in the massacre.
In the aftermath of the massacre Bella joined the Indonesian military youth corps to mask her involvement in the demonstration. For three years the Indonesian authorities trained her to fight against her own people. During this time, Bella secretly used her army salary to help the resistance movement.
In 1994, after months of interrogation and instruction, the Indonesian government selected Bella to represent East Timorese youth in the Canada World Youth program. She was well trained to speak to the Canadian media and to portray Suharto’s propaganda machine’s version of a “typical” young Timorese - educated, successful, and pro-integration.
Bella defected after her arrival in Canada with the help of her uncle, Constâncio Pinto, who had escaped East Timor shortly after the Dili massacre. Since then, Bella has been perfecting her English and touring Canada to speak for her country’s freedom. To learn more or to join her struggle, visit the East Timor Alert Network.
Fuck the Border
A friend of mine dropped me a line, it said, “man, I gotta run to the USA. I got no money, got no job.” She skipped out of Mexico to stay alive. You’ve got a problem with her living here, but what did you do to help her before she fucking came? What did the country do? What did the people do? I stand not by my country, but by people of the whole fucking world. No fences, no borders. Free movement for all. Fuck the border. It’s about fucking time to treat people with respect. It’s our culture and consumption that makes her life unbearable. Fuck this country; its angry eyes, its knee-jerk hordes. Legal or illegal, watch her fucking go. She’ll take what’s hers. Watch her fucking go. Fuck the border.
Some people have to stay and fight for survival in the country they live in while others have to leave to survive. Corporations cross international borders all the time in search of people to exploit for profit and no one stops them. They call it globalization. On the other hand, the victims of corporate domination are told that they can’t cross borders in search of better lives, and are forced to stay and deal with the social, economic and environmental messes the companies leave behind when they inevitably move their operations to places with even more “favourable business climates” (re: lower wages, lax environmental laws, tax breaks). Looks like capitalism and human-rights don’t mix.
Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes
The tangled webs they weave span from Pine to Ruby Ridge, way back from Shay’s defeat on up to Gustafsen (now cue the ass parade of ditto-heads and commissars and pricks to drown out this faintest threat of commie faggot heretics). Conclusion: the nail that sticks up gets hammered down and the master’s finest tools are found slack-jawed and placid amidst the cacophony of screaming billboards and Disney-fied history. Sometimes the ties that bind are strange: no justice shines upon the cemetery plots marked Hampton, Weaver or Anna-Mae where Federal Bureaus and Fraternal Orders have cast their shadows; permanent features built into these borders. But undercover of the customary gap we find between History and Truth, the Founding Fathers bask in the rocket’s blinding red glare. The bombs bursting in air. One nation. Indivisible? The truth is when the back-country learned of ratification the People had a coffin painted black and solemnly borne in funeral procession, they buried it deep in the earth as an emblem of the dissolution and internment of their Publick Liberty. Someday, somewhere, today’s empires are tomorrow’s ashes.
Back to the Motor League
I like to party fucking hard. I like my rock and roll the same. Don’t give a fuck if I burn out. Don’t give a fuck if I fade away. So back to the Motor-League with me before I’m forced to face the wrath of a well-heeled buying public who live vicariously through tortured-artist college-rock and floor-punching macho pabulum. Back to the Motor League I go. Once thought I drew a lucky hand. Turned out to be a live grenade of play-acting “anarchists” and Mommy’s-little-skinheads, death-threats and sycophants and wieners drunk on straight-edge. Fuck off. Who cares? I’d rather hi-lite Trip-Tiks than listen to your bullshit. Fuck off. Who cares about your stupid scenes, your shitty zines, the straw-men you build up to burn. It never ceases to amaze me and as I’m suffering your perfection it reminds me of my own race to redress my own sad history of mouthed feet. Eaten hats. Teated bulls. Amish phone-books. Drunken brawls. But what have we here? 15 years later it still reeks of Swill and Chickenshit Conformists with their fists in the air; like-father, like-son "rebels" bloated on korn, eminems and bizkits. Lord, hear our prayer: take back your Amy Grant mosh-crews and your fair-weather politics. Blow-dry my hair and stick me on a ten-speed. Back to the Motor League. I guess life is just a popularity contest. Success, the ability to perform within a framework of obedience. Just ask the candy-coated Joy-Cam rock-bands selling shoes for venture-capitalists, silencing competing messages, rounding off the jagged edges. Today is good day to die.
In which god’s name will we be killed? Who’s most righteous? Who’s most terrified? When your parents left the house we would creep up to their room, to the drawer beside the bed. We would pull out the shining dildo. One side dink, the other side Jesus. Not hedonists. Not atheists. Churchgoers. Blockparents. I wonder what lurks in neighbors’ drawers? The most pristine are hiding everything. Is this our “decaying society”? These are the married ones. What about the others? Don’t condemn your life to be riddled with shame. Everyone’s hands cause natural disasters.
With Friends Like These, Who the Fuck Needs COINTELPRO?
With friends like these, who the fuck needs COINTELPRO? I’m punch-drunk on the sickening cadence of iron-fists in velvet gloves. The Cheshire grins. The crippling Judas kiss to christen thee a sinking ship and "the purpose of this new counter-intelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize" any parades that you can’t jump in front of. Any long years of hard work that ain’t yours. Sometimes I wonder if you just can’t help yourself? Overhead bloodthirsty vultures circle patiently. They offer condolences (and whisper bitter eulogies). Yes, “comrades” come as thick as thieves. But you got another thing coming. With friends like these, who the fuck needs COINTELPRO?
Albright Monument, Bagdhad
Wadia’s best friend’s youngest sister was denied a proper burial because for two days they couldn’t douse the flames the allied planes had showered on her tiny body. And all the paper trails that lead to all the roads that lead to all these Basras make it seem like we’re all just “collateral damage” waiting to be happened in some unforeseen Pentagon budget-drill. Today’s Ba’ath regime is just the Red Scare of yesteryear. And I drink myself to sleep because I’m losing faith that any of us will ever amount to anything more than reluctant human subsidies, the moving parts in a death-machine, protesting their complicity, but waiting for somebody else to throw their body on the churning gears. I drink myself to sleep because I’m losing faith that we, here in the Cradle of Affluence can cease this sickening drive for individual strength through state-powers’ swinging fists or that we’ll ever look back and laugh at the irony that is: an atomic murderer is enshrined in Independence, USA while 8000 miles from here (back in the Cradle of Democracy) it’s another banner year for a cottage industry - a ritual at the corner of George and Constantine - as foundries scramble to recast his decapitated monument.
Ordinary People Do Fucked-Up Things When Fucked-Up Things Become Ordinary
Words can’t do justice to pain. Seems like they can’t feel a thing. Ordinary people do fucked-up things when fucked-up things become ordinary. I can’t promise utopia or a better world. I have no clever lures. No harsh punishment if you don’t bite the hook. It’s a world of shit or bust. There’s no escape from disappointment. When you commit heart and soul to earning your place, someone else will have to cheer you on. What are you capable of? You can be the one to string them up and beat them to death. When you cut the bodies down, you’ll see the face of your failure and shame. This is a world of professional liars: a bleating chorus of tempered truths, who like pealing church-bells echo its’ virtues sung over and over and over again. Rotting at the bottom is better than living as a fool. I can’t find the meaning in the great achievement. When you commit heart and soul to earning your place, opportunity kills common sense.
Ladies’ Nite in Loserville
Drains her fifth and spits out a greek translation*. She slurs “how much more bullshit you got left? Cuz you been feeding me this crap about 'free speech' and 'thought-police' like I’m supposed to sit and swoon”. It takes three more rounds till the subject changes and in that time she lays it down: “Fuck Larry Flynt and any campaign to silence women standing up and fighting back. And I fuck to cum, so don’t lay your 'repressed' shit on me. I fuck to cum. Fuck your blessed Trinity. I’m so sick of needle-dicks and (selective) first-amendments. I can out-think, out-drink, out-fuck-you-all so fuck your bullshit 'femi-nazi' crap, no needle-dick’s gonna silence me. I fuck to cum.”
*graphos = graphic depiction; pornos = female sexual slave
Ego Fum Papa (I Am The Pope)
“Live like an angel, die like a devil.” Don’t let it worry you, we’re down here together. We’re all here: heathens, heretics, kids with blue socks. I asked some questions and wasn’t satisfied with the answers. It seems that’s the biggest crime since not fitting in. But we’re all here: King Diamond, todd’s mom, fallen angels, the decimated cultures, the kid in the corner in sweat pants. We’ll find our own way.
New Homes For Idle Hands
Suburbs tremble again, fearing the have-nots at the window, collecting their fair share. Guns and alarms aren’t enough. They demand justice, and every criminal locked away, as well as any kid who might do something wrong. There’s a jail out of town with fences so high we won’t think about who’s inside. Neighbours are disappearing behind the bars. Kids are doing time for petty crimes. It don’t matter who they are. It don’t matter that they’re alive. A warehouse for victims of circumstance. Cops are rounding up slaves; workers that can’t complain or come late. A workforce behind bars. They’ll make gadgets, circuit boards or fix cars. It don’t matter who they are. It don’t matter that they’re alive. Crime pays, ask the bankers floating bonds to build cages for the inner-city’s “idle-handsÃ® instead of schools. Factories with fences meet the prisons without walls. We shall have your skulls. They’ll kick you to the ground. You’ll find yourself employed again. On the inside.
Every fucking day our cities tell us what they think of justice. They lock the courageous away as the cowards plaster the cracks spreading through the monolith. But if this man isn’t freed, this city burns. “On this Day of Remembrance let us not kneel and pray for the dead. Let us stand and activate for the living, to rescue those about to die” at the hands of bullshit politicians; bloated pin-dick motherfuckers who bow and curtsy to the seats of power. We’ll never learn and nothing will ever change as long as we stay this course of followers and slaves. I can’t believe we’re still content reshuffling the same old decks of kings and queens and faux-democracies. I say we hand it back to the bullshit politicians. Brick by brick, wall by wall.
March of the Crabs
We stood our ground waiting for the fight to begin. My eyes squinted at the sun, wondering if they’d swing or run. I tell no lie: jackknives in socks, they’re all gonna die. Tensions rise. Pre-pubes swarm the hill like flies. Get the caskets ready, we’re going to tear right through this city. That’s if the anger don’t, that’s if the boredom don’t, the drinking don’t intercept this north-end horde. Who am I? Fighting a war that I can’t win. Swelling with things we try to hide. You never leave anyone behind. A harsh return that slaps you in the face. For one last chance, we leave this place. We’re all packing up and moving on. I’ve got a war in the head. Fear our lives won’t pass as great events. A better prospect hides up ahead. Do you feel it in the air? We’ve been crushed beyond oblivion. Farce and death walk hand in hand. Graves and memorial walls hold my family name. Pills and bottles do the same. I hope that freedom’s coming our way. The fight never happened. The crowd petered out. We all dribbled home. Mission accomplished.
Purina Hall of Fame
Sleeping masters roused to burning homes from beds. Steeping toddlers plucked from their watery deaths: ribbons, plaques and soft soap are the ephemeral rewards paid to the slaves whose selfless acts accord a higher value to their masters, while parting gifts (bolt pistols) console the rest. The remainder. Too bad the tributes paid to lives that relegate these thrones to lives spent valuing the runners-up, are known to be neither fleeting nor desirable. But nothing surprises me these days. I just sit and watch the boxcars roll by and wait. Patient. Unattended. A package under a terminal bench. A short fuse to scatter steady hands if I forget to remember that better lives have been lived in the margins, locked in the prisons and lost on the gallows than have ever been enshrined in palaces.