Category Archives: Prose

THE HORROR COMES HOME


 

THE HORROR2

So attacks in Brussels by ISIS or ISIL or so-called affiliates or whoever the fuck is todays boogeyman are all over the news today… And the faux shock of chickens coming home to roost begins one more time… How could this happen…? How could our white superiority be attacked yet again…? And the talking head faces of white supremacy all say the same thing… Don’t these sand niggers know there place is beneath our heel…? Don’t these camel jockeys know that we can blow them back to the stone age…? Don’t these A-rabs know who they are fucking with…? Of course they don’t use those words but the effect is the same…

How many people on Facebook will change their profile picture to a Belgian flag in solidarity…? Will there be an app that Facebook will make for it…? Will we all feel better now that there is…? Will it assuage the guilt of living off the constant and consistent misery of almost everywhere outside the US, UK and Europe…? Will you donate to the GoFundMe page…? Or send out a tweet with whatever hashtag that comes with each and every act of first world terrorism …?

Every terror attack in London or Madrid or Paris or San Bernardino California is just an occasional appetizer in comparison to the constant feast of violence that London and Madrid and Paris and San Bernardino are serving up in places like Syria or Libya or Nigeria… Terrorism is just another tactic of political negotiation… And the US, UK and Europe have set the terms… They set the terms in 1492 with their racism and their slavery and their imperialism… They set the terms with their settler colonial mentality of white supremacy as their politic… And when that supremacy is challenged using the same tactics that created that very same supremacy the surprise is overdone to to insure that no one sees past the shock to see the guilt…

And for over half an eon the blood bath has been clogging the pipes and overflowing onto a killing floor… And when we try and get out of the tub to reach for a towel to wipe away the horror we slip and stub our toe and scream, ‘who left this blood on the floor where you can slip’…? And then we blame Bin Laden or the Taliban or Al Qaeda or ISIS for stubbing our toe on the history we spilled with the horror we let our democracy create…

In less poetic terms and to make it plain… We vote for Cameron and Bush and Berlusconi and Merkel and Putin and we toy with the idea now of voting for Trump or Clinton (again) and we wonder why they hate our bullshit democracy… We wonder why they hate our capitalist thirst for more than we can need and more than we can hold… We wonder why 99.9999% of them want us to get the fuck out of their country and just just leave them the fuck alone…? And you wonder why 0.00001% of them strap a bulletproof vest on with a thousand armor piercing rounds or drive a car full of explosives into into a cafe, a subway, an airport, a nightclub, a restaurant…

The problem with our bewilderment is that it’s only awakened by acts of terrorism that are close enough to ring in our ears, close enough for us to smell, close enough to choke on the smoke of burning rubber and plastic, close enough to mop up, close enough to bury… Our bewilderment is only shaken when the terrorism is visceral for us… When it’s around our corner, when it’s at our door, when it’s in the cloud of smoke that just won’t clear outside our broken windows, when it’s the sirens we can only see because our ear drums are shattered and we have to pick glass and shrapnel from our body before we bandage our wounds… This is the only time we wonder why… This is the only time the veil of our bewilderment can be lifted…

When the news cameras showed us the refugee grandmother carrying all that she could of her belongings while she held the hand of a child or the crying baby being pulled from the rubble in Libya, or the father in Iraq covered in blood carrying his son into the street, the veil that protected our bewilderment could not be lifted… When Boko Haram slaughtered 2000 Nigerians that was Nigeria, not us, when 147 Kenyans were killed at Garissa University College that was Kenya, not us, when 142 were killed in Sana’a in Yemen that was Yemen, not us, when 22 were killed in the Ivory Coast were slaughtered that was Ivory Coast, not us … The Facebook app to change flags doesn’t come in “African” and the hashtag never went viral on twitter…

Do we remember Aylan Kurdi…? No…? We don’t remember the name of the lifeless three year old refugee boy from Kobanî, Syria, found washed up on the shore of Turkey…? Then i guess we won’t remember Gelani or Rheana..? His five year old brother and his mother who also drowned off the coast of Turkey either… But we remember the Eagles Of Death Metal…? The american rock band that was playing in Paris the night of the attacks… Of course we do… The Eagles Of Death Metal were able to lift that veil that kept our bewilderment under wraps but when the Muslim Mandera Heroes of Kenya stood up to protect Christians on a bus from slaughter by Al Shabab the veil of bewilderment remained because it’s  Kenya… It’s over there… It’s how things are over there…

And now the delayed shock and the bewilderment of the war as it comes home… The karma comes home to nest… The horror that we sent into the world with our democracy, the same democracy that brought us Cameron and Bush and Berlusconi and Merkel and Putin and even our beloved Obama… The most advanced democracies in the world that can only find solutions in misery and terror… The horror returns home like a prodigal son, and we shun it, bewildered at how something like this could exist, unable to recognize that which we created…

We gave birth to this horror… What can we expect when it comes home…? Instead of taking ownership of it we turn it back out into the world to reek more havoc thinking surely this horror doesn’t belong here, surely this horror isn’t ours, surely that belongs somewhere else, surely that belongs to someone else…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1Dp

2nd Hand Tuxedo Tails


1989 Do The Right Thing Party
1989 Do The Right Thing Party

i’m 20 years old… Do The Right Thing is the second movie i will have worked on in my life… i went to the premier in 2nd hand tuxedo tails bought at a thrift shop on East 3rd street between 1st and 2nd Aves called B’s… i wore a T-shirt i made with markers, a pair of shorts, white socks and NaNa creepers… NaNa was store in Soho that used to sell Punk and Rockabilly clothes and shoes… Both B’s and NaNa’s are gone now…

B was Black girl from down south, she found all these great vintage clothes that she bought by the pound from secret locations and sold them in her shop… i would go in there and buy odd bits of clothes… i still have a brown leather vest with no pockets somewhere… B’s was downstairs from the production office of Bailjumper, the third film that i worked on… But they changed the name of the film to Mercury and Retrograde…

It wasn’t really an office it was the director’s apartment… An old tenement building with the bath tub in the kitchen… i met Ishmael Reed on that film, he had a cameo… It was the day that we shot locusts attacking a car… i chased grasshoppers around all day and i remember Ishmael being very patient…

At the premiere for Right Thing i rented a limo with Eddie Joe who was a PA and we pulled up to the red carpet in front of the Zeigfield with my 2nd hand tuxedo tails, hand-made T-shirt, shorts, white socks and NaNa creepers and got out with the paparazzi taking pictures and shouting at me and asking who i was as i got out of the limo… i told them i was the intern and they stopped taking pictures… i smiled because it was just as i had dreamed it…

Wynn Thomas was at the door to the theater having trouble getting in… They said his name wasn’t on the list to get into the premiere… i told them he didn’t need to be on the list, his name was on the poster… Wynn was the production designer…

i waited for my name in the credits… First name under interns… It felt good… i made no money on Right Thing but it changed my life…

i take the limo to the after party at the Puck Building and then tip the driver because i can’t afford more than four hours… Everyone is shocked to see that i can dance… They all thought of me as some punk rocker who wore a red Aunt Jemima handkerchief on my head and wore funky plaid old man shorts with boots… They didn’t know i could get down and cut a rug…

In those daze i was in and out of my mom’s house couch surfing on the Lower East Side… i came home looking for my 2nd hand tuxedo tails but couldn’t find them… My mother said she threw them out… i asked why… She said it was shabby, it had huge holes in it, it was torn it was a mess… i loved those shabby 2nd hand tuxedo tails… they were elegant with satin collar and satin lining… i loved them… shabby holes and all… They were tuxedo tails fit only for an elegant rogue, the only true formal wear for a vagabond…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1mk

Capitalism: It’s The End Of Your World As You Know It And I Feel Fine


FUCK THE SYSTEM  by vagabond ©
FUCK THE SYSTEM by vagabond ©

“Behold Your Future Excutioners”
– Lucy Ella Gonzalez Parsons

The Mayans predicted 2012 would be the end of the world. Maybe they’re right. Maybe it is the end of the world. Not in a global catastrophic natural disaster kind of way or a nuclear war armageddon kind of way… but in another way…

The African Spring (Algeria, Egypt) followed by the Arab Spring, followed by the unrest of the European Summer to the occupations of the American Fall of 2011, are the preview trailers for the upcoming feature…. All of these resistance movements are realizing that the cozy bedfellows that politrixters and banksters make, leaves little room on the bed for anyone else. And so the rest of us are left out in the cold occupying a space on the floor to sleep… Where we dream of improvising the world into a new existence…

Maybe the world of capitalism is falling like the Berlin wall fell in ’89. Maybe ’12 is when the wall on Wall Street comes down. Maybe it’s the end of the world as capitalism knows it… There isn’t much time left… Someone tell them, someone tell the capitalists that they might want to get their affairs in order and not to worry about writing a will, it was written somewhere that meek shall inherit the earth…

i’m not afraid of a world without capitalism… are you? It could be that these are the last daze… The final chapter and verse being written… Capitalism’s judgment day… And it could be that the apocalypse is just the screams of labor pains as the world gives birth to something new…

http://youtu.be/DvV1cBYRIoc
The Call from 1984 doing The Walls Came Down live on Swedish Televison

Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They’d all been warned
And the walls came down
They just stood there laughing
They’re not laughing anymore
The walls came down
Sanctuary fades
Congregation splits
Nightly military raids
The congregation splits
It’s a song of assassins
Ringin’ in your ears
We got terrorist thinking
Playing on fears
Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They’d all been warned
But the walls came down
I don’t think there are any Russians
And there ain’t no Yanks
Just corporate criminals
Playin’ with tanks
– The Walls Came Down by The Call

The image at the top of this piece is a remix of Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton holding a shotgun and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask… The text on the design – FCKTHSYSTM is a discreet way of saying FUCK THE SYSTEM…

You can get a T-shirt or 5 pack of 1″ buttons (to share with friends) of the artwork above from my design company Audio Visual Terrorism
And as always, much thanx for the support, until we find another way out of capitalism i’m forced to exploit my art in this way… Trust me when i say i’d feel better if i could just give it all away…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-pd

Forty Four


Forty Four Self Portrait by vagabond ©
Forty Four Self Portrait by vagabond ©

A few things you should know about me…

i want to be an artist… i am an artist but being an artist is to be in a constant state of creation… being in a constant state of creation is to be in a state of desire, so i want to be an artist… i don’t want a career… i don’t even know what a career is… i heard it has something to do with money… but i hate money, money can go fuck itself… it’s a waste of fucken time… it’s a hamster wheel… a greyhound chasing a mechanical rabbit while the big boys place bets… a merry-go-round they won’t let you get off and the dj only has one record and he keeps playing it over and over… besides i want to be good and the hate of all money is the root of all good…

i fear, fear…

if i wasn’t so talented i would have killed somebody or a few somebodies long ago… someone important, someone who has it coming, someone who knows they should die for the shit they’ve done, someone who went out of the way to make the world worse than it already is because they’re better off for it, that kind of somebody, the kind of somebody that when they’re killed the other somebodies start to get scared but not scared enough to stop making life a misery for everyone else… ok, maybe not scared but at least nervous… it’s a long list i keep and someday i’m going to write it down… (it’s not safe to do so now you can be arrested for that kind of thing and me and authority had a bad break up years ago and prison would only bring us back together – but not in a good way)

art is the process of me trying to figure something out…

i’m not that smart but i try… i only finished high school and only on the advice of my parents who love me. but i didn’t let it stick… i took m. twain’s advice and didn’t let my schooling interfere with my eduction… i stay restless, do my best not to respect borders between nations, claim no destination, although i have been known to check my baggage and claim it later… curiosity has corrupted the better of me. the other parts are wanted by the cops and the tax department but i’m doing my best and leading by example by ignoring them… hopefully they’ll get the message and give up one day… there are few floors that i will not sleep on for a sunset in another part of the world or to see the moon from another angle on this blue-green marble. what i’m trying to say is that i like to travel… my chosen name is vagabond – no it’s not legal and if i had it my way nothing about me would be legal, legality is for those who don’t know better. i’m not smart but i know better and i try… schooling is a building with walls and doors and floors and windows and labs and gym and cafeteria and an auditorium and a principals offices… education is an open road and you learn something every time you’re on foreign ground… sometimes you’re asked to show your papers or your passport or your identification… sometimes you get lucky and they treat you like a human being and they just leave you alone to wander and wonder… and without a set destination the journey can take you… as opposed to you trying to take it…

when i die play the mix tape i made just for the occasion…

i want a jazz funeral and a second line parade with um-ber-ellas and hired professional mourners to make it look good, to fill the street, but don’t get a permit, just take over the streets, encourage others to join in as you pass them by, invite them to partake in the joyful defiance of traffic regulations, but for god’s sake don’t tell them it’s a funeral, it’ll only confuse the proceedings… scatter my ashes off the coast of coney island, let me become a part of the ocean, let the riptide take me to places unknown… then take three rides ride on the cyclone. once to shake the sadness from your bones, a second to shake the melancholy from your souls and a third time just to shake the happiness of living back in… and remember me only when you ride deno’s wonder wheel at that magic hour when the street lights come up but the sun hasn’t dipped below the ocean just yet and the orange at the horizon fades to light blue and then to ink blue and when you reach the apex of deno’s wonder wheel look out toward the atlantic…

you may see me in silhouette dancing on the razor blade that divides the sea from the sky…
– vagabond

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Qe

Enjoy Capitalism


ENJOY CAPITALISM by vagabond ©
ENJOY CAPITALISM by vagabond ©

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
– Edward Abbey

On February 1st, of 1968 Associated Press photojournalist Eddie Adams took a disturbing photo of an execution in the streets of Saigon, that would go on to become an iconic image of the horrors of the Vietnam War. It’s a photo of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon. When i was thinking about trying to create an image about the dynamics of Capitalism this photo came to mind.

Capitalism is ubiquitous. It can’t be escaped, everyone is forced to participate. There’s not a single aspect of our life that goes untouched. It affects the fundamental aspects of survival, where we live, what we eat, access to medical care, the ability to educate ourselves. It affects our relationships with family, friends, life partners. It limits our ability, constrains our creativity and dictates our potential. It’s inescapable, if you don’t cooperate with it you die. Capitalism is a gun to the head. The dollars coming out of the gun of the executor are multiplied as they come out of the head executed. Killing or dying it’s all profit for capitalism.

The fact that this photo came from the Vietnam era was also something that fit perfectly into what I was trying to do. The Vietnam War was framed as an ideological battle between democracy (dressed as capitalism) and communism. (As a side note communism is actually a democracy, but i digress.) The idea was to frame this gruesome image into an advertisement for Capitalism.

Advertising is the creation of seduction for the purposes of profit. Seduction is the emotional mortar that hold the building blocks of possibility in place long enough to promise some kind of fulfillment. So i flipped the dynamics of advertisement to soften the mortar to bring down the structure of a promise that can never be kept.

Coca-Cola is an avatar for Capitalism. Using the Coca-Cola typeface to advertise Capitalism made sense since everywhere you go in the world you can find Coca-Cola. Since the only rule in Capitalism is profit at any cost… mixing that up with the phrase “By Any Means Necessary” made infamous by Malcolm X completed my visual critique of Capitalism.

If you like this image and want to spread this critique of Capitalism around check out Audio Visual Terrorism… i designed it as a t-shirt and as a 1″ button… And no that doesn’t make me a capitalist… The definition of capitalism is here… i’m still the same struggling artist i always was and like everyone else i’m stuck in the shitstem of capitalism… Until capitalism is gone i’ll be forced to use capitalism against itself…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Ll

The Rising Phoenix of Malcolm


From Little to X to Shabazz by vagabond ©
From Little to X to Shabazz by vagabond ©

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.” – Malcolm X

From son to orphan to hustler to convict to revolutionary, the constant and consistent personal rise of Malcolm is what made his ideas so politically dangerous. If the sum of his life were just his political work it would be brilliant enough, but his personal life gave his politics a greater gravitas. When Malcolm spoke of oppression he wasn’t just speaking from some far off detached perspective that had to imagine the full spectrum of that oppression but spoke from the physical wretchedness of personal experience. A personal experience of oppression that he wasn’t supposed to survive much less conquer.

His life is an epic poem that encompassed the full arc of possibilities. From those early years when the agents of oppression burned his family’s home, to the murder of his outspoken father, to the scattering of his family after his mother went mad from it all, Malcolm was forged in the fire. From the orphanages, to the streets, to the prison and the pulpit Malcolm was in the process of not allowing his oppressor to define him. From his tour of African nations and African leaders to his pilgrimage to Mecca his metamorphosis seemed to never cease. He reversed the polarities of macrocosm and microcosm. Turning the machinations of his personal life into a grand microcosm of political oppression and using it like a weapon in his political life as a minor macrocosm to feed his ongoing metamorphosis. It was this process of defining and redefining himself to both his oppressors and the oppressed in which Malcolm declared his victories.

In Egyptian mythology the Phoenix rises from the ashes of the fire. It recreates itself, gives birth to itself from within the adversity that’s tried to destroy it. Each time it falls, it rises and it rises from it’s own will. It’s the cycle of life and death and life. Malcolm was a Phoenix rising from the ashes of his home, from the death of his father, from the oppression induced madness of his mother, from the orphanages and schools that furthered that oppression from the streets where he hustled, from the prison where he studied, from the pulpit where he preached, from the betrayal of his mentor, from the pilgrimage of his faith… Malcolm rose again and again like a Phoenix giving birth to itself, refusing to cool in the ashes… Malcolm isn’t dead… his life is a shining example that finds new life as we rise from the ashes of a fire that tries to destroy us and fails time and time again…

Shorlink: – http://wp.me/p1eniL-JS