Tuesday, September 13, 2011

civil OBEDIENCE will kill us if we let it.

After reading this article in the New York Times' 9/11 supplement: "Civil Liberties Today" by Adam Liptak -- I've been thinking a lot about our currently wayward democracy and the widespread youth apathy epidemic.

After reading an article from 1970, titled "The Problem is Civil Obedience" by Howard Zinn -- similarities between now and then are scary.

I was inspired to write this essay in response to a prof question.

What are the implications of Zinn's argument regarding the law and its relationship to powerless groups?

Zinn is quite clear in his message – those rendered “powerless” by the political system itself are in fact well-endowed with the power of opposition. As we read last week, “America is a country founded on dissent” (Haynes). The power of opposition is the power that wrote the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. Just plain power – as the government would have us believe in these times – is something that comes from money, clout, and peer support. That means someone like a politician. This is a convenient and self-establishing definition.

But where do these politicians really come by their power? The doctrine meant to limit government powers (Bill of Rights) is where they take their authoritative roles from, written both implicitly and explicitly and further defined/assigned by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is supposed to be a detached body – and historically is seated by fogies far older than popular opinion. Due process seems to flow at the same speed as it did when the Bill of Rights was written. The Internet generation can’t even comprehend such ineffectiveness in their video games, so watching the snail’s pace of politics has left most of them a bit bored.

What I wish I could tell the rest of my generation to try and wake them up, to demand a government that reflects the speed at which they think and grow: The same words used to tell the government what they cannot do to us (and therefore what they can do to us) are the same words used to defend and protect all that we can do as citizens – we all share the same source of power. And we’re all promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And as a society it’s obvious we settle for 1 out of 3.

How does the government exercise power? They influence our lives oppressively with taxes and policing, and positively by providing socialized services like public transportation and fire stations. It’s important to remember, however, when the government tries to use social works as a bargaining chip –that they are humans too. Politicians have families and homes they wouldn’t want to see burn to the ground because they couldn’t afford to hire fire fighters.

Politicians are citizens that directly benefit from the same services they demand praise and votes for providing to society.

This game of ideological tug-of-war between who knows best, the people or the government, has existed as long as politics itself. Somehow, over hundreds of years, societies managed to evolve and progress, to demand better qualities of life and better government… The existence of social democracies like France and the United States, the most progressive form of governance to date, proves the effectiveness of rebellion, opposition to government, and social revolution.

Tracing history from Hellenic Greek times proves that it isn’t the state leaders who enable progress within a society –but rather it is the opposition to political leadership, the People, who fuel progress. The People have consistently reformed government just as consistently as state leaders have overstepped their totalitarian roles throughout history.

One of the most hard-hitting points Zinn makes in The Problem is Civil Obedience, is the mass devastation caused by civil obedience, by following the demands of government without opposition. His example is Hitler – and I think that says everything that needs to be said about that.

When we adhere, and obey, it’s much like settling into a cubicle knowing you’ll never take a greater role within that company. We must constantly push our government, and encourage our fellow citizens, to demand progress -- because despite apathy being “the new black,” history has taught that it’s up to us, the “powerless,” to improve society for all living humans, and for all future generations to come.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I've been listening to my compilation of Canyon's Tame Impala remixes since I discovered their version of 'Half Full Glass of Wine' (Canyons Drunken Rage) on grooveshark back in December.

My grooveshark Tame Impala Remixes playlist was the first thing I listened to whenever I hopped on the computer while traveling in St. Maarten during the end of December and beginning of January, so now these tunes bring me back to that sexy, care-free island, sipping my very own half-full glass of wine...
You should check out that playlist, it's also got Bonobo, Fat Freddy's Drop, Shapeshifter, Pond, Warpaint...

Sint Maarten, Jan 2011

I've never liked a remix of any song as much as I do H.F.G.W., and I usually hate electro remixes of rock'n'roll songs. Plus I LOVE Tame Impala like a freak, so I was extremely skeptical until I listened.

H.F.G.W. Canyons Drunken Rage Remix

Canyons really impress me; But I can't find much info about them online, other than they're signed by Modular (Australian label), and are also connected with 'Hole in the Sky' - the HITS website says 'DJ/Producer duo Leo Holiday and Ryan Sea-mist are better known as the collective unit Canyons.'
Their C A N Y O N S V I S I O N website is really confusing, but also weirdly awesome.

*Connect yer dots: Pond (Jay Watson from Tame Impala's other band) is affiliated with Hole in the Sky, and Tame Impala and Canyons are both affiliated with Modular and Hole in the Sky.
So, a big happy family. Get it? Good.

Hole in the Sky MySpace bio: "Hole in the Sky is a little record label based in Australia that releases all kinds of music every now and again. "
But they haven't logged in there since September 2010... So I guess I'm slow to find these remixes. They're still fucking great!

Here is the rest of the collection:

Tame Impala 'Solitude is Bliss' Canyons Remix

I found out you can download 'Solitude is Bliss' Canyons Remix
mp3 free from RCRDLBL.com

Tame Impala 'Sundown Syndrome' Canyons Remix

The 'Sundown Syndrome' remix starts off with added sitar, which is great, but the song is wayyy slowed down. Then, around 2:40, after a gradual build up, REALLY picks up and makes the wait worth it for the rest of the song. Guitars are inserted back in, and the vocal dub is so smooth it sounds like this could have been an original composition. Canyons really understand Tame Impala and their sound and vibe. It's cool 'cause they enhance the psychedelic element with electro-modification, staying true to the TI spirit without sounding too hi-tech.
The kazoo around 6:10 is icing on the cake.

Tame Impala 'Skeleton Tiger' Retamed by Canyons Remix
02 Skeleton Tiger (Retamed By Canyons) by RestlessNomad

You should boink around your room like you want some whip-lash to the 'Skeleton Tiger' remix. It's got a driving pulse and some other crazified percussion... the first lyrics they give you in the remix: "Count the number of beings you are... see how long it takes you..."
Perfect. Favorite line of the song.

This next one is a remix of 'The Sun' by Tame Impala - called Fred Cherry's Eclipse by... Fred Cherry. Not Canyons. Still, awesome, keeping the comprehensive Tame Impala experience vibe.

Tame Impala 'The Sun' Remix (Fred Cherry Eclipse)

this from filestube.com and 4shared.com where you can apparently download it for free if you sign up. I haven't, but I'd consider it - yahoo answers had reviews of the site saying it was safe...

And the most recent Canyons TI remix:
(posted on modularpeople.com March 4, 2010)

Tame Impala '41 mosquitoes flying in formation' -
'41 Mojitos' (Poolside Dub Canyons Remix)

From KeepReal.org
Best part about 41 Mojitos: Modular has it up for free mp3 download, straight from the site!

I wonder why most of the remixes are of songs that begin with 'S'...hmm.

It took forever to find all of these in embeddable formats, I could have just made a grooveshark playlist and posted it in here, which I will do also, but wanted to outsource for the project and get an idea of who/where these tracks are being shared.
Enjoy! Viva la vida sound lovers.

We'll finish off with Tame Impala - 'Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?' (Erol Alkan Rework)from January 28, 2011
Tame Impala - Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind (Erol Alkan Rework) Radio Edit by Erol Alkan

AND the Tame Impala music video for 'Expectation'

Tame Impala - Expectation from Modular People on Vimeo.

Posted on ModularPeople.com December 3, 2010

what a trip. not for those with weak stomachs.

Friday, January 28, 2011


link to WikiLeaks Egypt Cables

This picture from Al Jazeera's "Egypt protests in social media" blog - originally from Twitter, via @Abo_Mazen (Abdul Rahman) posted January 25, 2011.

following the January 28 story through AL JAZEERA:
Al Jazeera English live news broadcast - I highly recommend tuning in to their coverage.


Protesters are described as:
- demanding President Mubarak step down after 30 year reign
- angered over unemployment, corruption and poverty
- inspired by the recent downfall of Tunisia's president Ben Ali

There is no definitive leader of protest -- people speak in a loud and unified voice.

Photo by Goran Tomasevic/REUTERS

"Riot police clash with protesters in Cairo January 26, 2011. Thousands of Egyptians defied a ban on protests by returning to Egypt's streets on Wednesday and calling for President Hosni Mubarak to leave office, and some scuffled with police."

Picture and Caption from "the Egypt Protests" on TotallyCoolPix.com
(An informative collection of photos from Reuters)

- Police "seem to be absent" from streets of Cairo, Alexandria; presence of Army in street being celebrated by protesters - people hope Army will protect them from police.

- NDP headquarters on fire.

Clinton: "The Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away."




Listening to an interview on Al Jazeera, the discussion about Egyptian government having shut down the Internet in much or all of the country directed focus to social media websites. While some assert that the youth of Egypt are not the same youth of Facebook, this was disputed with the following argument: it is said the youth of Egypt IS the youth of Facebook because Facebook and social media sites allow them freedom of speech and expression that they don't have in the streets of Egypt.

From Al Jazeera's Liveblog:

7:46 pm [EGYPT] 12:46 p.m. EST - Internet in Egypt, as far as we can tell, has now been disabled for a full 24 hours. Arbor Networks, which has been monitoring traffic in and out of the country over 80 service providers, has released an updated graphic.

Photo taken from Al Jazeera's Egypt Protests Liveblog

Al Jazeera follows protests through social media here.



"Outside experts and people living in the country say the government has coordinated a blockage of certain communications websites and unplugged internet access entirely to parts of the country."



Global Post has a series briefly detailing the the leader, the "gripe", the protests, the timing and the stakes at risk for each country. Great resource linking the unrest across boarders. Stories by Jon Jensen.

Click a country's name for more about uprisings there.
Here is Global Post's page for Egypt.

Online activism fuels Egypt protest by Fatma Naib for Al Jazeera

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tame Impala kicks off US tour – And this is them on a MONDAY

They come with an oscilloscope, beat-necked sweaters, and a bright green kazoo.

It’s confirmed: The psychedelic desert boys from Perth are more than a studio band. And when Tame Impala takes the stage, none of them stands center.

Their humble presence and sense of humor allow for songs’ impact to hold up in a live setting. When you finally peel your eyes away from the foursome at work, you realize they’ve sent each audience member into a lustful daze – no two facial expressions or bodies grooving alike.

“I really don’t consider myself a rock star,” guitarist Dom Simper bashfully insists, after a love-struck Boston fan ambushed him with a bearded, bro-love kiss on the cheek.

“We’re not really from Australia… I’ve been saying that the whole time,” quipped lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin Parker, inciting laughs with playful banter, as the crowd called out declarations of love for the boys’ home place.

Humor is one of Tame Impala’s rock’n’roll virtues. So is the human connection they achieve through songs that communicate emotional identification with listeners.

Parker’s lyrics speak to personal reflection as their music distracts from external pressures. His words and dreamy delivery disarm anxiety (“space around me where my soul can breathe, I’ve got a body that my mind can leave/nothing else matters, don’t care what I miss, company’s OK – solitude is bliss”).

But Tame Impala’s greatest gift to music is the sincerity of their live performance.

'Expectation' from Innerspeaker live at the Paradise (available in HD - see my youtube channel for more videos, including 'Desire Be Desire Go'):

Opening with ‘It is Not Meant to be’ and ending with a non-encore medley (“We don’t know any encores… So after the last song, that’s it,” – K. Parker) of ‘Remember Me’/’Skeleton Tiger’/’Half Full Glass of Wine,’ they played a mix of songs from their 2008 EP, 2010’s Innerspeaker and singles like ‘Sundown Syndrome.’ (Comment for full set list)

‘Remember Me,’ a Blueboy cover, carried into ‘Skeleton Tiger,’ which fell into the final chugs of a gritty ‘Half Full Glass of Wine.’

Talking after the show, Dom said bands don’t make money from record sales anymore, and that any earnings come from touring. Boston fans watched Tame Impala accepting this challenge during the fourth gig of their first US headlining tour. Dom also said the band is always working on new material, and that they plan to release another album next year.

“We sold out two Bowerys,” he adds, explaining the group’s collective exhaustion.

Both their Bowery Ballroom NYC shows (11.18-19) sold out in weeks prior. By Friday the 19th, their Facebook status read, “Voice box broken last night due to crookness caused by Endless Touring Fatigue (ETF)…”

You heard Kevin straining himself a few times during the Paradise set, but his vocal persistence just made them more endearing. However, it did sound like Jay Watson (drums) slowed down most of the songs intentionally.

But the Endless Touring has only just begun - with New York on Thursday and Friday, Philly Sunday, Boston Monday, Montreal Tuesday, and Toronto Wednesday - before getting a break.

When I asked Dom for recommendations of good rock he named the newest Ariel Pink album, Before Today, and Warpaint, a female rock outfit from LA.

“They’re [good rock bands] out there, you just have to look…” Dom said with a smirk, before retiring to their red tourbus, ready to leave Boston and make a Canadian border crossing at 6 a.m.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

all photos by ariel shearer

I'm still sorting out my feelings about the whole thing, so that chunk of words is still to come. Bottom of the line, group therapy for sensible humans striving to maintain balance. Loved every minute.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cambridge Shop Haven for Graffiti Artists and Free Speech

By Ariel Shearer

CAMBRIDGE -- The shelves behind the counter are lined with jars full of different spray can nozzles, and the display case is full of colorful markers. Proletariat looks like a clothing store that caters to skateboarders, but the T-shirt designs show that Kerry Simon is selling more than skate gear. He’s selling ideas to wear, along with an array of graffiti supplies.

"We can’t promote graffiti … This is really like my community disservice,” says Simon, shop owner and artist. “I like graffiti. I want to see it keep going. It’s free speech; it’s art. It’s the only art that’s not for sale.”

Simon has catered to the counter culture since opening the Harvard Square store in 2004. He produces his own clothing and a version of Krink brand markers. But with plans to leave Massachusetts at the end of the summer and put the store to new hands, his loyal customers hope the shop doesn’t change.

“The store isn’t going to be the same … [Simon] said he was going to open a shop the next place he lives. I think he’ll definitely have as much success as he has here,” says Peter Davidson, 17, who started hanging out at Proletariat while living in Cambridge last year. “It’ll be interesting to see how the clothing changes, because some of the stuff here is Boston based. It’ll be interesting to see what he can think of from the other places he goes.”

Simon designs T-shirts that he says satirize the ills of society.

“The graffiti stuff sells like crack; you just don’t make any money on it,” Simon says. “Clothes are what pay the bills.”

Some of Simon’s T-shirt designs depict conspiracy theories, like an image of the moon landing being staged by photographers. Others poke fun at American consumer culture, such as one image of the Iwo Jima flag raising a McDonald’s sign. A special design just for Boston mocks the darker side of the city, featuring images of homeless people and syringes.

“It’s like something you’d buy at Faneuil Hall, except it’s all the messed up things about Boston, like dog crap and rats and Mass-holes,” Simon adds.

Although his T-shirt designs may point out societal ills, Simon sees himself as a patriot.

“Everything here is American made, down to the labels inside the shirts,” Simon says. “I have a kid that comes in once a week and sews the labels in so that it’s still American working, even on the small stuff.”

Simon says many of the people who spend time in the shop are loyal customers and friends.

“Everybody who comes in here thinks they’re really funny,” says Ellen O’Regan, a sales associate who works across from Proletariat in the Garage Mall at Newbury Comics. O’Regan stopped by to visit Simon on her work break. She says she wears Simon’s designs all the time and would love to work at Proletariat.

AJ Lee, a 16-year-old from Cambridge in the store buying a new skateboard, considers Simon a friend.

“Kerry’s laid back, and it’s a comfortable store to be in,” Lee says.

Simon’s relocation is due to his wife finishing grad school at Boston University this year. He says they plan to drive across the country and relax for six months while deciding where to live next. Although he plans to keep his website and the Krink makers, thick pens made of ink that create a dripping effect and made in vibrant colors special for Proletariat, Simon says his ideal business venture would enable him to participate in what he calls ‘socialism through capitalism.’

“I want to have the same shop, but I want it to be a non-profit,” Simon says. “If it was a skate shop, I’d want all the money to go into a skate park.”

No matter where he ends up, Simon’s T-shirt designs and countercultural art supplies will have a presence where they started, in Boston.

“There are very few places I think in the U.S. that we could have done this. But because it’s a very open, liberal type place, it’s a good place to start it out,” Simon says. “I wonder where else I could live besides San Francisco or Manhattan that would have enough liberal people who like to wear what they believe … There’s nothing more American than saying what you mean.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spare Change Not Just for the Homeless

By Ariel Shearer

CAMBRIDGE -- Spare Change News, a Cambridge-based street paper, has recently changed its slogan from ‘Helping the Homeless Help Themselves’ to ‘Helping People Help Themselves.’

“In the last couple of years we have seen an influx of middle class vendors,” says James Shearer, a co-founder of the paper and current board president. “It is a myth that Spare Change is only for the homeless, it is here for anyone that needs it.”

As the economic recession in our country has touched individuals of all walks of life, Spare Change News has changed its slogan to adequately describe the people who sell the paper in efforts to better their financial situation.

“It’s difficult to categorize the vendors in any unified way,” says David Jefferson, editor of the non-profit paper. “They range from people who are very involved and sell seven days a week … Some of the vendors sell a very small number of papers … All of them are very diverse in terms of experiences that led them to become a vendor.”

Spare Change News is a volunteer based publication that focuses on poverty issues while providing the poor with a product they pay 25 cents for and sell for a dollar.

Jefferson says the paper aims to combine the idea of social enterprise with civic discourse and civic journalism. It has been affected by the economic recession in who is selling the paper, but also in how the paper receives funding.

“[The recession] made it more difficult to get funding … Charities have a limited amount of money to give,” Jefferson says.

The paper has recently seen an increase in the number of vendors from the unemployed middle-class.

“We've been affected deeply by the recession,” Shearer says. “We are more engaged with our own survival. We need to be here, because now more than ever, people need us to be.”

The vendors are not always homeless, but people seeking any chance to earn a profit.

Jefferson wrote in a March article, “A subset of our newest vendors represents a manifestation of modern economic reality—they are the unemployed who have been out of a job for an extended period of time, who may have lost or are at risk of losing assets, such as savings and homes after a lifetime of work.”

Jefferson says Spare Change News allows people unable to find jobs due to situations of a criminal record or being disabled, opportunities they would not otherwise have. Even people receiving unemployment benefits are selling the bi-weekly papers to earn extra income.

Shearer said the recent influx of middle class individuals working as vendors has not taken away from the number of homeless vendors.

“I think that the most effective part of what Spare Change does is the direct economic benefits, of selling and the psychological support it provides,” Jefferson adds.

Jefferson is a graduate student in psychology at Suffolk University. He took on the position of editor after the paper had to lay off the editor in April. Jefferson says he has seen lives given meaning by Spare Change News.

“We were all homeless when we were approached by someone to create a newspaper,” Shearer says. “But more than just something to sell it was to give us a voice, an opportunity to help ourselves.”