"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

The Big One

Things are coming uncorked. 1,325 words; chew before swallowing. And there's more about my personal life here.

It's raining in Frisco, and I'm struggling. The most important thing is to stop struggling. Don't forget to breathe and when in doubt chant the almighty Ohm. I did some of that when I was going to the big anti-war protest in NYC. Things were getting tense and hairy. I was carrying a boombox which was broadcasting updates from WBAI as the Cops kept shuffling us around and blocking our ability to get to the site of the protest. The Workers of the World guys -- black cat logo, "no bosses" -- were the first to step off the sidewalk and onto the street. Me with my suit and tie and fluffy mad bomber hat and radio, following along them cutting out with gut breath and sonorous ohms. We made it to the site ok; everything was cool for us.

So what the hell does that have to do with where I am now, almost a year later?

So last night I watched Steal This Movie, the Abbie Hoffman biopic. It's a fun film; I will watch anything with D'Onofrio in it -- he's a fucking amazing actor -- and Jenneane Garaffalo turns in a remarkably sympathetic performance, dropping a lot of the cynical armor that marks her stand-up work.

But the subject matter of the film hits close to me as well, it being similar in some respects to what I am attempting to do with my life.

It was before I was born, but there was apparently a time when FUN and MORALITY coincided, where Rock and Roll was both about shaking your hips and saving the world. Where did that go?

Struggling with the opposing pulls of the professional and the radical. There's something inside me that's holding back. Ginsburg (who posthumously turned me on to the Ohm) said that the only way he had any indication of whether or not what he was working on was any good was when it scared him. My job scares me.

I have this pretty deeply ingrained fear of being pretentious; this is in and of itself somewhat pretentious, I know, but there you have it. The point is I tend to worry more than maybe I aught to about hubris and things like that. It's frightening for me to think that I'm important, yet I know without a certain measure of self-confidence it's tough to get anything done. Like I said, struggling.

Think big, we say. Driving on the 101 from home to office, there's a giant vacant office complex just north of Oracle with that slogan posted up in giant white on red letters. "Think Big! Think 81,000 square feet..." A daily reminder of what happens when your big thinking becomes too detached from reality.

There's an element of potential madness to any ambition. Some people have vision, others visions. It's a fine line. We're in this to affect the 2004 election and something more, but why? And what happens afterwards? You say you want a revolution...

How radical are we? Are we for the elimination of poverty? Global equality? Are we for a cultural shift that moves away from television, fear and blind consumption and towards something else?

Marshall McLuhan was right that the medium is the message. However, he -- like many others, including my man Bucky Fuller -- profoundly misunderstood how television would play out. He believed that TV was connecting us. It's certainly made us more alike, but at the same time it has driven us further from one another. It is an atomizing force in society; breaking media consumption down into ever more specific niches and psychographics, and separating these different elements from each other by class and as individual atoms. We are becoming, to our detriment I think, a society of noble gasses.

The internet, on the other hand, is a whole different thing. At its heart it's an expressive medium, a connective and amalgamative thing. It's about the participation, not the interactivity. It's not about pushing buttons, it's about expression -- ideas, emotions, memories -- creating a public record of one's existence. It's about generosity; only connect.

See, internet people aren't glued to their screens the same way as couch potatoes. We probably spend a lot of time in front of the keyboard, but the whole thing is ultimately a driver of experience, not a flickering electronic sedative. We're hungry to do things, to make things, to have feelings and thoughts. We are active, dynamic, pretty enough to take pictures of, interesting enough to write about, and perhaps even possessed of valuable tidbits of wisdom. None of us are all-knowing, but many of us are smart and some are even experts.

Of course, the whole works could be used for pure evil too. Big brother and all that jazz. Don't think that little dream is dead just yet.

We need a missionary movement, something to tie it all together the Right way and start spreading the Word. When I talk politics, I inevitably slip into religious or spiritual metaphors. Why fight it? Participatory democracy is the American religion; the net is driving a revival; truth and justice stand to win a few rounds. Fuck it: I'm a believer.

If we can learn to share a little more -- physically and metaphysically -- things will be so good you wouldn't believe it. When we enter the paradigm of material plenty, when we wake up as a species and realize that There Is Enough To Go Around, things can be pretty different.

The question is how? Do we wind up lean and bright eyed seekers of adventure and knowledge, or just fat and happy. Or both?

I mean, we might end up a big sloppy world of franchises and ennui; consumer paradise minus the Democracy. Something like China's seems to be turning into. Life is pretty good all things considered. There's a lot of prosperity, so why bother with how the government works; let the party take care of that, I'm going clubbing. You know, self-censorship and indirect government pressure...

In an effort to defuse the controversy, Ms. Mu said she quit her columnist job in early November and voluntarily shut down her Web site. She said she had other offers and hoped to continue writing, assuming the government does not ban her writing altogether.
-- From an article about China's most popular blogger, a woman who publicly recounts her sex life.

In an effort to diffuse controversy, she quit her job and shut her site down. Yes. To diffuse controversy.

It doesn't have to be like that. Maybe we can end up in some emergent utopia. Maybe we'll build spaceships instead of bombs, an exploratory/industrial complex. Maybe we'll make reaching out to the world, to the universe, a central part of how we live; quit dwelling in caves, you know? It might be really grand fun. Wire (or rather, unwire) the world, make it all equitable and efficent, an end to meaningless toil. Forget opening new markets to Wall-Mart; let's go build fuel-cell powered internet hookups in Africa, start a whole new thing.

The internet is the single best short-term project our country could concentrate on; bringing peace and net access to the world. It's a certain kind of hegemony, true, but it's awfully light-handed and doesn't require franchises or bombs. It encourages qualities like creativity, inquisitiveness and entrepreneurialism. I mean, people can go back to living in trees if they want to; just make sure someone's got a laptop and a big antenna. It's not that everyone has to be on the computer, just a certain social critical mass so that enough communities are connected.

Expanding the global communications network should be a core part of our plan for foreign policy. We're either going to get more integrated on the planetary scale or tear each other to pieces. Utopia or Oblivion, no joking. If we're connected, we're more likely to take care of each other and less likely to fight. More likely to realize what the hell is going on and less likely to be duped into fear and loathing. More likely to make it as a species and less likely to vanish in radioactivity or rising tides.

It can be a part of domestic policy as well. Investing a few billion in a federal expansion of open last-mile internet infrastructure would do a lot to bring the economy back into action. There's a whole lot of people who can work at building networks. Just like roads, networks need maintenance, and they become avenues for new kinds of commerce. It would open a world of information and opportunity to communities that are currently cut off; juice the economy and drive public education, civic participation and creative expression. Sounds dope to me.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey, happy turkey day to everyone who celebrates. I'm going to be taking it easy this weekend, working on some writing and probably watching a bunch of movies. Blogging may be light or may be heavy, depending.

Thought for the night: anyone who seems to be doing magic either has sufficently advanced technology or is praciticing the art of misdirection.

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I got your participation mistique right here...

Check it out; here's a guy from Oregon, just a regular guy, who's decided to run for the state senate house. Participation at the highest level! Go John! Do I have any readers in Southern Oregon? Help this guy out!

Update: since John is running for the house seat, it's even harder. I'd been thinking he'd be able to draw on the Ashland contingent, but apparently not. Help a brother out.

Oregon fucking rules right about now. Portland is teeming with youth and talent, and someone came up with this. And they called it "secretplan.org"! Genius!

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Two Years!

In the midst of all the hubbub, I missed out on the fact that I've been at this for more than two years now. The site started back in November of 2001. Anyone up for some Outlandish Classic?

...apparently I am. May of 2002 sure was an interesting month. Or what about back in september 2002, when I was freaking out about a lot of things.

To read through the archives is a strange experience being where I am now. Strange indeed.

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More Dean Things

I know this bores the hell our of some of you, and I promise to talk about my nonexistant sex life as soon as I think of anything interesting to say, but I came up with a decent distilation of the "Dean Thing" while posting on the ol' Kos during my lunch break today.

There are a lot of people who are political vetrans, but still don't "get" why Dean is the frontrunner. Many of these people live in a world of fear, visions of McGovern dancing in their heads. I try and turn them on to the best of my ability. Here's what popped out today. Consider it a counterpart to my ideas about the candidate himself.

  1. The Dean campaign is being run around traditional media. They still pay for ads, but the focus of the campaign is on driving one-to-one interactions. This happens online and offline and includes blogs, letter-writing, door-knocking and a host of other activities. No other campaign has as many volunteer hours to spend or is spending them as effectively.

  2. The Dean campaign is being run as a decentralized network and not as a top-down organization. The dominant message from the campaign is "just do it." There is a hierarchy (multiple hierarchies in fact) but that is not the organizational trope that dominates. Without getting into the math of things, networked organizational models allow vastly greater scalability for participation than hierarchies. Greater participation, which equates to better fundraising and most importantly higher voter turnout, is the single most critical factor in outsing Bush from office and maintaining that momentum to get the US and the world back on track. If we get 60% voter turnout, we win.

  3. Howard Dean as a candidate represents a novel phenomena in that he seems to be less spin-centric than any mainstram candidate in recent memory. The era of heavy spin began in 1992 with Clinton's campaign and has reached an apotheosis -- almost unadulterated doublespeak -- now with Bush in office. A break from this tradition represents a chance to not only bring the national dialogue closer in line with reality, it also represents the best chance to break through the near-50% approval barrier. You cannot always fight fire with fire, and you can never fight it with fire alone.

  4. As a fundraising apparatus, Dean's campaign represents the best chance for fiscal parity with Bush. With point #1 in mind, money still matters hugely in any poltical campaign. No other campaign has as deep a resource pool to draw on or is as thrifty.

  5. By capitalizing on a latent capacity among the body politic for social connections (do you have 150 friends? I don't, and I'm pretty connected), the Dean campaign drives itself with a process which is strengthening communities all across the country. This seems critical if we're to beat Bush and maintain the momentum afterwards to freshen up Congress and generally revitalize this American life. If we play by the standard campaign tactics, I believe we're more likely to loose, and even if we win it will be more difficult to maintain energy after the election.

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A few things

Two good things came my way so far today. First I got word that Dean For Jobs is up for testing. This is a deanspace offshoot that's aimed at getting all the Dean fans out there personally engaged in getting the economy back into high gear. You sign up to teach or learn, or possibly even to employ.

Secondly, I saw this. Nothing like a shot at ol' Ann Coulter to brighten your morning.

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Just back from the Dean Grassroots Summit here in SF. Good times and good vibes. It's a big tent. I got a few nods for being involved with Deanspace (though I think the real credit belongs to on Neil Drumm, who I'm going to send a fruitcake to for the holidays, and then some) and met with some new allies. I also got to meet in person some people I've only seen online (Steve, Christian, good to meet ya). It was too bad there weren't (girls) more people my age there, but I suppose that's a matter of marketing more than anything else. At least, I hope it is. Don't know what I'll do if it turns out all my peers are apathetic layabouts.

Also, check out DeanPix, which is being run by Christopher Dye, the guy who set up the housecall flash ad on such short notice when I was in Burlington those months ago. He's created a flash information kiosk, which is a pretty innovative use of the tool.

And Deanspace is going 1.0! I have to fix up some database things to go in there so that 1.0.1 is nicer.

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Multimedia Brainwash

A while back in Brooklyn I audio-recorded some of my performance text on a layabout morning. Recently I was talking with some of the heads at MfA, a little bull session about the Movement and my predilictions for poetry. It reminded me of some of the stuff I've done on stage, so I tried to modify things on the fly to specify the trip for them.

It got me thinking, and I had this song stuck in my head, so Friday night on my way home from work I stuck the song and the audio together and found the match to be tight. It needs some work, but maybe you'll dig it. Here's an Mp3 version of ...and I'm not Fucking Around with musical backup from Radar (which I picked up off a random comp CD from 2001).

This is the text that got me labelled "the Tony Robbins of Burning Man." I want to stick it into a subversive flash animation; kind of a blueprint for a revolution. Let me know if it hits.

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Statue Antics

Just in case you didn't make the connection; try contrasting the statue that went down in London today with another statue that went down a while ago.

The point isn't that Bush is worse than Saddam. He's not. More dangerous to world peace, probably, but Saddam was a very very very very very very very bad man. That being said, the point is that the Bush modus opperandi is falshood, deciet and deception. They made that statue going down in Iraq look like some kind of popular mass rally. They're also pretending an actual popular mass rally didn't happen. From the NYT:

Asked about the protests during the visit, Mrs. Bush said she hadn't really seen any. "We've seen plenty of American flags, we've seen plenty of people who were waving to us," she said. "Many, many more people in fact than we've seen protestors."

And this, of course, has been pretty much ignored or buried by the national press in the US because they've already bought their tickets and now seem unable to jump off the ride. So it goes.

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Dean on Gay Marriage

To the commentor who asked what Dean's position on the recent ruling in MA to allow homosexual partners to marry, here's the word from the horse's mouth.

"There will be those who try to use the decision today to divide Americans. Instead, this decision should be viewed as an opportunity to affirm what binds us together -- a fundamental belief in the equality of human beings, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation."

Right now it looks like a done deal. Full civil rights in Mass! Unless someone comes up with something that might derail this process, it's unlikely that many politicians will sing its prases too loudly, as Gay Marriage (as opposed to Civil Unions) is statistically unpopular in the US.

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