Monday, November 29, 2004

Sleep Now in the Fire

So where does Rage Against the Machine fit into the Matrix?

I started wondering today at the gym. I was struck by the immense irony of listening to their thunderous call to revolutionary action (The Battle of Los Angeles) while running in place on an elliptical trainer. Somehow I doubt keeping my heart rate in the high end of my target zone (and exceeding it quite often...this is Rage, after all) for a half hour was really what they had in mind when they created that music and those words.

I'm listening to the same music that was played over the sound system at the Counter-Inaugural I marched in four years ago. I'm feeling so lefty and great but I am running in place on a damned piece of gym equipment. This has got to be exactly what the right is counting on. It has also got to be what Sony, the major label Rage was on, counted on when they released their music -- that it would sell, and make them lots of money, but that nothing would happen, and the corporate/governmental fifth estate would be completely unscathed by it because Rage's listeners won't Do Anything as a result of their message.

They've done their research and they've gotta know that I (a representative of my Gen X demographic) put in massive hours every day trying to get the bills paid, create my art, and maintain my sanity. I work from the moment I get up to the moment I go to sleep and there's no time left over to Do Anything -- and I don't even have kids!

And even if I contribute whatever I can to an org whose mission is to Do Something -- the last election proved that money and mobilization isn't necessarily going to win the day. Donations poured into the Dean campaign, and later the Kerry campaign, from people who realized how high the stakes were and who had never given to a political party before in their lives. And the bad guys still won.

What threat could Rage Against the Machine possibly pose if their millions of records were bought by people like me?

The Matrix has me.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The first rule of Fight Club... you don't talk about Fight Club. But I'm going to talk about Fight Club anyway! I think it is a really, really good movie. I got a chance to see it on DVD last night. I'm really impressed. It is dark and fascinating and Gnostic. It is right up there with my other favorite movies, which are The Truman Show, The Matrix (the original), and Donnie Darko.

Speaking of Gnostic, I have been telling a few people lately about my trip to Scotland and how the first place I went was Rosslyn Chapel. They ask me why I went there, and the easiest way to explain it to people who haven't studied Gnosticism and Grail mythology in depth is to reference The Da Vinci Code. It seems a great many people have read it and can grok the Grail references. I haven't read it yet but I know what the gist of it is, and I feel good about how the author has found a way to get that mythos into the public consciousness with a work of fiction.

Monica says that they are going to make a movie of The Da Vinci Code, and that Tom Hanks will star in it. She says he is not dashing enough to play the main character, and that she would prefer Russell Crowe in the main role. He' s certainly dashing.

In other news, I've been asked to contribute a track to an anti-Bush compilation CD upcoming from Pax Recordings. I've submitted one, and I hope it will be included. It's short and to the point (1:23) and I call it "Cold Blood". I wrote the words in one afternoon while hiking Sweeney Ridge. I'll let you all know if it is added to the complilation CD and how to get one if so.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but nobody alive today remembers how the Romans watched the Senate become ineffectual, and the Emperor become a dictator...certainly I don't, but I read about it somewhere. Seems to me there may have been many, many regular Romans who were uncomfortable with the way the Emperor's military campaigns depleted the treasury and left problems unattended to at home, and with the way the Emperor went on and on about Family Values.
I also bet there were many regular Germans who were puzzled and uncomfortable with the Nazi Party's rise to power, and didn't participate in it, but had to live with the consequences. I bet they wondered, at the beginning of it, what the next few years would bring.

A friend of a friend of a friend, named Paul, sent out the following email which was forwarded to me and I offer it for no reason other than I can't come up with anything near as good, in my present state of shock and hurt. (not awe). It's his advice about how to go forward in this time. Even with the San Francisco Bay Area-specific stuff, I think it's relevant enough to post. Here goes:

1. Everybody gets money. Every payday (if you're lucky enough to still have paydays), write a check, even just a small one. Today I started off the next four years by giving money to a local strike fund (hotel workers are striking here in SF). Next payday, I renew my ACLU membership. After that, it's NRDC, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, etc. The great thing is that once you send that first check, you'll get all kinds of convenient postage-paid return envelopes for next payday's check. Do it; you'll feel like you're doing something and that alone will help.

2. If you haven't already, shift your phone service to Working Assets. It's easy, it costs about the same, and they give part of your money to good progressive causes. Better that extra little bit go to the Sierra Club, for instance, than to SBC profits.

3. Nourish the bubble. For those of us fortunate/determined enough to live in the Bay Area bubble, remember how lucky we are. True, it is a bubble, a veritable echo chamber of progressive viewpoints. True, it is cut off from a lot of the country. But it isn't cut off from all of the country (see below), and there are things we get to do in the bubble, things that make life worth living, worth treasuring, things that point the way to a better tomorrow. You have to have laboratories in order to figure out what will work. We live in a left-wing laboratory. Keep the lab clean, make sure the apparatus are in good working order, check to make sure the supply room is well-stocked, and remember that publishing the results is an important part of the process.

4. Remember that we are not alone. There are at least 56 million people here who roughly agree with you. That's a lot. It's a whole lot. It was almost enough. We Are Not Alone. And because we are not alone, despair, cynicism, defeatism, hopelessness, and withdrawal are Not Allowed. You don't abandon the team just because we lost the game. Show up for practice with your cleats on; there are more games on the schedule.

5. Remember that we are, despite everything, fortunate. We were born and/or live in a very rich country, one with an enormous amount of power in all senses of the word. We have a responsibility to each other and to those around the world to do whatever we can to try to ensure that that power is exercized for the good whenever possible. We couldn't quite make it this time; that doesn't relieve us of the responsibility to keep trying. One of the other side's Big Lies is that they have a monopoly on morality; giving up the game lets them continue to believe that.

6. We haven't lost everything, and it isn't all hopeless. 5 isn't 9. 55 isn't 60. If you don't know what those mean, find out; it's important.

7. Take care of yourself, your friends, your family, and your communities. This is closely associated with Nourishing the Bubble, but even closer to home. Keep volunteering with your theater company, your BDSM social organization, your domestic violence hotline, your gay rights organization. Keep doing pro bono work. Keep holding social events. All of this makes a difference, and usually a bigger difference than most things coming out of Washington.

8. Finally, keep thinking of other ways to survive in the darkness and let people know what you come up with.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

You ARE going to vote today, right?

If you're from the States, that is. You're registered, and you're going to vote? You know where your polling place is? You know when they're open?