Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Anarchy Shmanarchy

Every year around this time a swarm of anarchists come together for a variety of events, well namely the anarchist bookfair. The bookfair, going on for its eleventh or something year, is an extravangaza of AK press titles on three fifths of the tables, swarms of crusty punks guarding the entry and boring loafing about. In many ways its like hanging out at the mall, but without the movie theatre, and food court. This year the attendance was significantly smaller than last year. Begging the question... "Is anarchy dying?" The answer.... yes.
Some of my friends organized some events that coincided with the dates of the bookfair. The "8 days of Anarchy" started off on tuesday at the weekly bay area reading group held at the long haul. The discussion was a simple one based on people's ideas of anarchism. Most of the discussion centered around problems of abuse in relationships. This tends to happen any time a violent example is brought up, or even semi violent. Eventually someone starts talking about how unprepared we are for abuse in our community, and how terrible it is that people hit each other.... blah blah blah blah blah.
The next event that I went to was a game night at Gilman street. Playing Sabrina at chess was actually pretty fun, mainly because it was relatively quick, but not painless. My uncle Tony is an avid chess player and taught myself and my siblings all how to play chess when we were young. Many of our times together were spent playing the game. Its been sometime since I've played chess mainly I've been focusing on go, poker, and other games. Sabrina beat my pants off, and it made me feel even better when she beat several other dudes. At least I lost to a girl who wins a lot. Eric and I played a game of go which was fun. I hadn't played go in quite some time as well. Eric hosed me in go which was annoying. I did give him a handicap, and he has been reading some go books....
Friday was a derive, (http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/314) Which was pretty fun. Eric and I walked around with a kid from St. Louis named Jennifur. He was one of the more interesting kids that I met over the weekend. He regaled us with tales of being a taxi driver, a bus boy, and living very cheaply in St. Louis. We met up with Aragorn at a chinese vegetarian place, that was run by a cult then wandered into china town. I had to work so I split early.
Saturday night was a fun party at my place. Sasha had everyone dancing, and it was a good time. It was especially fun seeing some out of town friends, such as Anita and Esteban.
Sunday was the BASTARD (Bay Area Students for Theory And Research Development) conference which had some interesting discussions. I particularly liked Mike E's discussion on being involved in martial arts. Some of the things that I enjoyed hearing him talk about was that there seems to be an arc of wanting to get into fights and being non physically confrontational. His place on that arc has swung through out the years. A lot of what he said as well about how physically training with someone will help you get to know them in a way that you usually don't was interesting, along with how martial arts enables you to think in different ways. For example now that I know how to fight people, I actually have a choice as to whether or not I want to be in a fight, rather than being in the default position of always having to avoid the fight because I'd lose it.
That pretty much summed up my 8 days of anarchy. Or rather that's the brief version. Its always rad seeing friends from out of town, picking up the one or two new magazines, or pamphlets, and engaging in ridiculous amounts of slander/gossip with comrades.

Hopefully I'll get to doing weekly fictional installments soon but we'll see. I'm training to fight again. My next fight is on April 14th.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shalon's First Fight

Shalon is a good buddy of mine that I met some time ago at Pacific Ring. Here she represents what being vegan is all about... and its about being TUFF! She does a pretty good job of keeping her hands up and firing back. While it might be hard to see on the tape she really got her opponent with her right cross. Stepping into the ring is hard, its scary, intimidating and can be not only physically draining but emotionally as well. Here she is one of the proud members of the VEGAN MUAY THAI DEATH SQUAD! Fuck Yeah!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reflections on You Just haven't earned it yet

The original idea for this story came out of an incident of jealousy that arose in my life. A brief flare, but still an emotion that doesn't come to me that often. Largely there is little romantic jealousy in my life due to my constant single status. Jealousy isn't a very pleasant feeling, and there seems little that one can do about it. Ignore it, accept it, indulge it, but the base feelings of insecurity within the relationship usually don't go away... or at least immediately. While the symptom of the jealousy may disappear, in this case the symptom would be the picture, the underlying problem that causes the jealousy isn't even addressed. Instead the main character gloomily goes along with his working life.

Which is the second thing that I wanted to try to write more about. There are few modern authors who address the day to day lives of workers, or even depict work. Work while omnipresent is never addressed. Television sitcoms are particularly adept at showing the main characters rarely ever toiling, and why? Because work is boring, its dreary, its soul sucking, is as healthy as eating shit. I'd recently finished B. Traven's Trozas. What Traven does, unlike most authors, is to address work, and painfully so. One of his more famous books "The Death Ship," is so inscrutiating about the details of work that the book is almost unbearable to even read. Anyways it made me think about work so I wanted to try to write about it more.

I did a fair bit of plagarizing in this one; there is a section of an Emma Goldman letter to Ben Reitman, an excerpt from "the end of restaraunts" by the people at http://prole.info/ and an short paragraph by Raoul Vaneigem from Revolution of Everyday life www.nothingness.org
Not feeling the need to be original frees me up to reuse, and recontextualize other's words. The reason why I searched out that Emma Goldman letter was because I'd read an essay about jealousy that she wrote, or perhaps she addressed it in her essay about marriage. Regardless while pubically she was for free love, her private life was a tangle of emotions. Her relationship with Ben Reitman, a free love hobo, was often torn by jealousy. The prole info people do a good job of depicting working at a restaurant, and so I figured why waste my time when someone else had said it so well. The Vaneigem piece I put in for its poignancy, its poignant about the aliennating sense of isolation, and depression that people feel (I particularly identified with the person Vaneigem wrote about) and for its scene at the bar. Most of my characters will probably be alcoholics for a while.

On completely unrelated topic, I got my vasectomy.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

You just haven't earned it yet. pt. 3

Luckily the bathroom is unoccupied. and sun shines onto the tiled floor from the window. I turn the shower on as hot as possible hoping to scald out some of the alcohol. Stepping into the heat my body is soon drenched with the a hot fountain of water. The nozzle to the shower is old and the hardness of the water has made the head clog in different areas so that rather than an a constant even flow of water, you have a jet here and a trickle there. Its irritating, but neither my roommate nor I have gone out to get a new shower head.

The hot water is sobering enough to show that my previous eloquence in my letter to Katie was pure drunken imagination. What was written instead was a tangle of slurs, insults and badgering.
"Katie, I don't understand why you'd be so callous as to put a picture of you and that douchebag on your refrigerator. You know that I come over and that I'd be likely to see it. Why would you do that? I know that we've agreed to see other people, but we've also been dating consistently for a while. Why would you flaunt this new "love?" You're don't care about me? This new beau is so much better than me? Regardless you are an insensitive shitbag."
I'd written it on a small piece of white paper that night and this morning put it in the post. We don't live far from each other so I suspect she'll get my short note in a few days. In the mean time I have my anxieties to deal with.

Trying not to think of the situation I put on my black pants, the same ones from last night and pick out the least wrinkled white button down shirt in my closet. After slipping it on, my search for a suitable tie begins. Most of my ties have been handed down to me, from friends, or stolen from thrift stores. Finding a old navy blue tie and slipping it around my neck I grab my keys and head out the door. It only takes me fifteen minutes to get to work, today I walk, thus taking me a half an hour. The drive isn't that long but finding parking ends up taking ten minutes, plus the worry of having to feed the meter every hour or so. If the time on your meter runs up, you pay $50. There is no public parking in the downtown area, especially not for workers. Another way the working stiff is getting stiffed.

My eyes are a bit off from the sun and the lingering influences of last night's drinking. Despite my desire not to think of Katie and my feelings, they seem to come up again and again. The problem with jealousy is that it does no one any good. How is it helpful for me to be jealous? How does it help Katie, or anyone else? Katie is not necessarily to be blamed for my feelings, they are my feelings. Her actions certainly invoke feelings, but they are mine still. Yet jealousy seems to be as "natural" as any emotion I have, as natural as the joy I have when I'm around her, the contentedness, the slight moments of anger, or frustration. I could take the higher path and recognize that jealousy won't do much good and by behaving in a 'noble' manner. Perhaps to ignore my feelings, pretend things are okay, or have a long talk with Katie about the whole matter. Yet I cannot endure this wallpaper style, coating everything over; nor its vulgar ambition to possess generous feelings. This desire for helpfulness, a constant altruism, how weary.

What angers, no perplexes me even more is that our relationship isn't based on anything core, there is no natural right, or contract to which I can claim, other than a default of social habit. We'd been dating off and on for quite some time but our ability to create conditions for the relationship is virtually nonexistent. Thus there is no valid reason for blame. Still there seems to be the lingering social pressures. Laughingly my mind comes across to the image of my exchanging my wrestling coat, and my class ring to Katie in exchange for her devote, unwavering pledge to be going steady with me. Those rituals are arcane now, and increasingly I find my relationships, not just dating but all of them, to be ephemeral. We move around, our jobs are precarious, our emotional lives are dictated to a large extent by our ability to economically survive. There is no bastion of stability for us anymore, we work, we grow old, we die. As a young as I am I know that I'll never be able to support my parents as they grow old, and if they aren't able to retire, how can I believe that I won't be working until the day I die? Is my frustration over this affair of the heart about the instability of my relationship with Katie? Is it because of my own instability? The spectacle of love is one of undying commitment, of being there through think and thing and to never stray nor sin. Yet already that sacred image is coming crashing down, so quickly, and full of hubris.

Clocking in I look at my section. At the restaurant we are given ten table sections, some sections of course draw more business due to their location. Mine is mediocre, and although its nice out now the weather looks a little ominous, so business is likely to slow down even more. Molly the waitress who had my section before I arrived transfers a table over to me.
"They've sat down and I've given them menus, gave them their drinks and they should be ready to order soon. I gotta get out of this place." Molly says.
Molly has been working for at this place for about 6 months, she's waited other places, and despite her degree (an english major) is unable to find a job other than hustling the tables.
"The money isn't bad, but the repetition always seems to get me, and this place is managed horribly." She always tells me when we'd eat our staff meal together.

Work goes by painfully slow. There are few tables, especially as it begins to rain. The bartender starts to pour some drinks for the staff and I quickly get a buzz. I go into the men's room and take a few vicatin that I've been saving from my wisdom teeth extraction a month ago. My body has a slow numbness to it. The kitchen closes and I close all my checks. By eleven o'clock I'm walking to the nearby bar. Its a dive bar, with a clientele composed mainly of old working men. They haven't retired yet, but are obviously too tired to be working day by day. Taking a seat by a window I drink a pint of beer. Outside I can see that its begun to rain harder. My agitation at having to walk home in the rain begins to grate on me. I order a shot of jagermeister and another pint of IPA. Sullenly I look out the window. Across the street is a homebum covering himself with some newspaper as he scuttles to a store overhang where he lays down, the newspaper still covering his dirty body.

In this gloomy bar everyone seems bored to death, I take my empty glass and push it off the table, watching it shatter. I pick up my other pint glass and smash it against the wall. Nobody gets excited; disappointed I let myself be thrown out. Yet everyone there could have done exactly the same thing, if not today, tomorrow. If not because of the jealousy felt due to a nebulous relationship, nor due to the stress of the job then because of something else. Something else that is equally common, and painfully mediocre. I made the thought concrete, crossing out of interior isolation, the introverted separation between self and outside world. Nobody responds to a sign which I thought was explicit. I remain alone like the hooligan who burns down a church or kills a policeman, at one with myslef but condemned to exile as long as other people remain exiled from their own existence. I feel suspended in a zone of zero gravity. All the same, the indifference which greets me allows me to hear the sound of my own cry; even if this revelation tortures me, I know that I will have to start again, more loudly; with more coherence.

The end.