The Media Jungle

This weeks song was an epic creation.  More so than any of the others, We used the green screen in my garage studio and pretty much decided it was all going to be single takes. Only one chance to get each shot right  There ended up being 14 shots.  As usual, the song was written this morning around 9 am.  Audio recording from 10 until 4, camera from 5 until 8 and then editing from 8 until 3.  Outputting the video and uploading to YouTube takes about an hour and it is in that time that I finalize the blog and hope that nothing goes wrong, like titles getting misspelled, because at hour 16, fatigue starts to get to you and you stop seeing everything.

I just felt that I needed to tell you that.  I don’t get to sleep until 5 am on production day, so the whole thing takes about 20 hours. And so, with out further delay, i present this week’s musical news recap titled “Media Jungle”.  Brian got a haircut for this video and, of course, I fed him a sandwich for his incredible bass playing skills.

There are 6 songs in this playlist now…listen to them all!

OK., I’m going to say it, it has to be said

The Dumpster, whether intentionally or not,  stumbled upon the perfect formula for the perfect reality TV show. By seizing the White House and the presidency of the United States, he has managed to put himself in the next logical place for anybody who pursues a career in the entertainment industry.

What better place to launch your next show then from the White House of the government of the United States?

Since his arrival, Artists all over the world have answered to the call. He has made it so inexorably impossible to deny the creation of the messages that must be sent to counter his reckless acts.  Every day provides new inspiration, comics can’t help but feel a misplaced gratitude for the audaciousness of this period in history.  There is a lot of shitty stuff going on.  For me, the only way to deal with it is through comedy.  It’s kind of like therapy.

Saturday Night Live has a bigger viewership than ever before. The blogosphere has erupted in a frenzy of activity, satirizing, analyzing, commenting, condemning or commending his very actions. Musicians, Cartoonists, Animators, Film Makers and creators of every sort have all taken to speaking their minds through their art. Even the Republicans have joined the show by claiming to be offended by The Duminator’s actions.  We all know it’s a set up for the next President to replace him, Vice President ProPensity.  It is every writer’s dream.  A story that writes itself.

I am certain that many artists ask themselves, “How can I create a show that dominates the world stage?”

“I want the top players in my show, people at the top of their game. People who other people respect and want to listen to or hate with every ounce of their being.”

The Biggest Show on Earth

Princess Dumpolina has, whether we want to believe it or not, activated the artistic integrity of every artist on the planet.  Maybe, just maybe, he’s not as stupid as we think. Perhaps this was his plan all along?  Of course, none of us would ever want to admit that. Is his crass, seemingl uneducted exterior merely a cover?

It is here where I disappear into the ether as a puff of smoke. But not before saying this.

I’m a writer  and creator and am always looking for my next big break. I want to believe that the collection of stories and projects that I have accumulated will help me to realize that end. Of course I don’t have the money that old Dumpy has to buy the advertising. But if I did, would I not try to attempt the same thing, just for the sheer audacity of it?

What a cool thing to talk about with your friends at the bar while you knock back beers and say “Yep I opened my biggest show from the White House to a global audience”. I don’t really know how much bigger you can get in the entertainment industry.

But the question will always remain, is this how we are now going to govern?

God, I hope not. Entertainment is not and never will be a guide to good governance. Well… maybe it is… in a dystopian novel about the de-evolution of humanity.  If it really has to be this way, can we at least have Jon Stewart as President?

Handcrusher

It’s been a month since I started blogging.  I decided this week to stay away from news, but, despite my efforts, I still had some things get in my face.  My favourite event of the week was the handshake showdown between The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and that thing down in the States that they are calling POTUS.  This week’s song is called “Hand Crusher” and once again features Brian Knox McGugan on bass.

So today’s blog is a follow on from my first blog of four weeks ago, “My Digital Future” where I talked about “the paradox of progress”.  In the month that has elapsed I have, of course, had to use computers and devices because, whether we want it or not, these infernal machines and the industry attached to them, foist their will upon us.  It is increasingly difficult to exist without one.  I can’t make songs and videos or write this blog without one, so I am self flagellating in that regard.  If I had the cash,  would probably drop out in a heartbeat to live in a little solar powered cabin in the forest some where.

This week WordPress decided to update it’s interface and once again I have spent hours trying to find out where everything is.  My iPhone constantly asks me if I want to upgrade to the latest version.  The only options are “Yes” and  “Later”.  If you click on “Later” it brings up another window asking for your phone’s password so that it can update, later, while you are sleeping.  “No thanks” is not an option.  Push notifications always cover something I am working on.  If I don’t get the swipe right, it takes me away from what I am doing and forces me to look at it.  But enough of that.  Let’s just get on with some good old time solutions, shall we?

The Dungeon in my Mind

As I wrestle yet again with another wave of upgrades, website and software failures I discover that my subconscious has started to build a room.  It is a dark, dank room deep inside the basement of my mind.  It is lined with ancient bricks and has an iron maiden hanging in the corner. There is a table or workbench that contains a whole host of 9th century torture tools.

As I encounter each new electronic incursion into my life, I imagine having a dungeon full of shackled app and software programmers, each waiting to be introduced to Dave’s Digital Inquisition. My questions are simple and freedom is imminent if the answers prove truthful or helpful. Else wise I seek to change their approach by subjecting them to the very frustrations I have, 10 fold.  It’s my imagination, I can do what ever I want in there.

I ready the fire and place the pokers neat to the embers so that they can’t actually get hot.  I don’t actually want to hurt anybody, I just want to know if these people feel anything.  Do they think of the ramifications of the paradox they are building?  How do you make them think about it?  How do you make them feel even just a tiny bit guilty and make them care?  And then it dawns on me…well torture, of course.

We know that torture doesn’t actually work. When subjected to agony anybody will say anything just to get out of the chamber. But still, there is something satisfying about watching a good revenge movie that I think everybody likes.  So before you start freaking out, understand that there is worse stuff on Netflix than is presented in my little foray into darkness here.  I watched the first episode of “Santa Clarita Diet” with my wife last week and it ended with images that put her off the show completely, so we won’t be watching that again.  But hey, I guess you gotta sell that kind of gore to get viewers in the 21st century and so…

I bring my first digital transgressor to the table.  I have readied “bamboo shoots in the finger nails” for this guy.  He’s the one who decided it would be acceptable to make gifs and movies go full screen in Facebook on a second tap instead of stopping, which is what we all want to happen.  The button choice to stop the playback is a smaller button and harder to hit.  Every time I want to stop the playback I am required to add 2 extra taps to my task.  With each unwanted full screen playback the desire to plunge my steel pokers into the fire and actually make them hot, increases.

I ask my question; “Why?  Why do you make me do all those clicks?  My wrists hurt and the additional clicks are exacerbating my shoulder injury from when I was using  a mouse too much”.  I need an intuitive interface, not a forced compliance interface.

The reedy bespectacled techno dweeb just looks at me with a blank stare while he soils himself, not because he is afraid, but because I haven’t let him use the bathroom yet. The place stinks, but its my own fault, I should have been a more compassionate torture chamber master.  With a smarmy grin on his face he says,  “We need YOU to use all of your data bundle on your cell so the phone company can charge you for extra data AND we must somehow force you to watch the ads.  Even if you don’t see the whole ad it still registers as a click through and a view.  The advertiser is happy and then I get paid”.

His answer leaves me empty.   I think to myself, “How much of my data bundle is sucked up by ads?  Am I paying to watch these ads?  How twisted is that?”.  I continue my interview. “Do you love your job?”  I ask.

“Yes, I love it”, he spurts, a little bit of spittle hanging off of his chin.  Seized by an uncontrollable reflex, I gouge out his eyes with my thumbs. For some reason he doesn’t scream but just laughs at me, so  I cut off his thumbs, knowing how important they are to his use of a digital device.

He sniggers at me and, in between maniacal screams, blurts out “Siri”.  My phone answers him “How can I help?”   With that, I become completely numb and cut out his tongue. For some reason there is no blood and he just continues to snigger and chortle.   In my frustration, I blurt out more questions to my imaginary tongueless, thumbless, eyeless computer dweeb.  “Who gave you the right to do that, or was this a unilateral decision?  Is that your thing? Subjugation?  Is that the kind of person you are? ”

I ask him “do you have any understanding of ‘elegant degradation’?”  To which he responds with undecipherable gobbledygook gook because I have, after all, removed his tongue. And so I give him back all of his body parts and release him knowing that he will tell probably the police and my days of freedom will come to an end.

I snap out of my dream state and take stock of what this reality is doing to me. I wonder if I am alone in this or if others experience the same ennui.  This constant, ever shifting library ladder of life that only seems to move sideways.  I want to go straight up, not sideways.

I want spend less time on machines.

The Path of Least Resistance

All those years ago, I had an objective in mind and I plotted a path on how to get there.  I never expected that I would encounter so many forced deviations that would derail my chosen path and force me to select a new one that is no where near the objective I had in mind.   It feels like cultural appropriation at the hands of programmers.

You see, I want human connectivity to be free because, before the internet came along, it was.  The internet and the people who run it, are intent on making us all miserable for their personal gain.  Connectivity is what keeps us all sane and healthy. As this video explains, addiction in our society (to drugs, to phones, to sex, to whatever you use to fill the gap) is caused by a general lack of connectivity.

I don’t want my audience to grow because some click farm in The Phillipines has given me 250,000 likes for a price.  I want to develop my audience old skool, person to person, but the internet won’t let me, it’s profit model is constructed around isolating people under the illusion of connectivity.  My accessibility to a public is completely dictated by how much money I spend on any one of a number of advertising services. Today you have to pay an admission fee to get social connectivity and that fee is not only paid in cash but time as well.  Those who can’t afford the price of admission are more than likely going to become addicted to something. So my imaginary torture of the aforementioned dweeb programmer was really in the best interests of humanity because the programmer is the pusher in our school yard.  It’s time to stop the programmers from destroying our world while they proclaim that they are actually saving it.

When I was young, I used to hand out flyers and mail parcels to people to get them to come to my shows or book me on tour in far off lands.  There was something real about a piece of mail and a phone call.  But today, every way I turn, it’s all, “You don’t want to do it that way, you want to do it this way”.

But I don’t want to do it their way.  In the creative world, forced compliance is not an option, it stifles innovation.  I will not be assimilated.  Of course, i haven’t worked out my alternate plan just yet, but I become increasingly more motivated to do so with each day that passes and every upgrade I must endure.

If anyone has ideas about this, I am all ears.

In the Lie of the Beholder

 

When confronting things that challenge me I often turn to song because the words flow out pretty quickly when I latch on to an idea.   Put on your headphones, turn up the bass!

Lyrics also help to keep things compact, useless words get dumped to meet a rhythmic need.  Syncopation is everything.  So, without further delay, here is my song for this week.  20 minutes to write it, one topic.  I asked my friend Brian Knox McGugan to come over to my micro studio and play bass. He’s a really great bass player and it was a great pleasure to have him on this.  McGoog, I still owe you a sandwich.

 

Meanwhile, in Canada…

I have been going on about American politics in these last couple of blogs because, well, some things just can’t be avoided.  The Dumptard dominates the news cycle no matter how much I try to adjust my algorithm by searching for pictures of cats and sour mash recipes.  The behaviour that takes place in the American political arena often goes on to be emulated in other nations.  It’s been going on for decades, but this recent shit show, which started with Brexit, is now trying to make a guest appearance in France, Germany and Holland, and a few other countries like some sort of idiocratic infection.  Is this the zombie apocalypse?!

Even here in polite, easy going Canada we have people who are eager to cash in on the new fear of chaos craze.   I don’t mention their names because I choose not to give them and their ideas any publicity what so ever.  It’s as if some stranger is standing in the middle of the street, yelling, “Let’s replace one group of rich liars with another, different, group of rich liars because the first batch of liars can’t be trusted to lie correctly anymore”. And the crowd is going “what?  Yea? Yeah!”.  People on that side if things believe it to be a working class revolution, but I think it is just a transition of power from the political class to the financial class, if there even is a difference beyond the lack of manners the latter seems to celebrate jubilantly.

Which brings me to the recent actions of our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to whom I would speak directly should he ever read my blog.  I have been a big fan of Justin because, in the beginning days, he made good on a lot of the things he promised.  I’m a Dad, so I wanted to believe. His behaviour filled me with hope and joy that my kid would have a chance at growing up in a tolerant and responsible Canada that celebrates it’s diversity.   Many good things happened in the wake of the election, the most relevant of which was his promise to bring 25, 000 Syrian refugees to our shores before a specified date.  He missed the date, but still managed to get that, and many other seemingly cosmetic things, done swiftly.  There were great photo ops of him greeting the refugees at the airport and we cheered him on.  They were great days because we all felt that our national identity as a peaceful and loving nation had been rebooted after the decimation wrought by Sinister Stephen The Dark.  But there is always a huge difference between the small short term stuff and the big long term stuff.  Justin is tripping over the big stuff.

First Past the Post

Justin decided, last week, to say no to electoral reform even though it was central to his being elected.  Here is a video from last October of him declaring he will end first-past-the-post over and over again during the election cycle.  The thing to observe is how sincere he sounds and how nice his clothing is.  All very convincing.  However, despite the media image, sometimes Justin’s speaking ability sounds a little stilted and rehearsed, as if coached.   When juxtaposed to his current position, he just sounds like a big fat liar, albeit a nicely groomed one who is getting better at convincing people that his pants aren’t actually on fire.

Yes, we all hated the Mad King Harper and wanted him gone, so Trudeau could have said almost anything and gotten elected.  As Canadians we had a mission to dethrone a destructive despot, have decency reinstalled as our central virtue and unity as our collective objective. Even though I am an NDP supporter, I gave Justin my vote, strategically, along with many of my fellow Canadians, so that he and The Libersls could put an end to The Harper Scorched Earth Regime.

But, for most of us, who are to Liberals, electoral reform was top of the list and I believe we have consensus here, on this. Electoral reform was the most important promise because it was about changing the system that allowed our previous tinpot dictator to stay in power for so long, repeatedly proroguing parliament with a minority of votes and wrecking our country like some spoiled child.  Ejecting Harper, his cronyism and the system that put him in power remains at the top of our countries priorities.  The challenge is that, now Justin is in power, he seems bent on taking up the same dishonest position as Harper in order to hold onto power.  Don’t they all?  Have we been here before? Duh?!

What is Leadership?

My question will always be; is this the kind of leadership our children should be exposed to?  Is it, in fact, a statement by the current government that lying to get what you want is okay?  The American Trumpocaplyse is a direct result of people being fed up with the limited selection of creatures crawling out of their two party swamp.  The election of the Dumpomaniac has exposed the core of America’s soul.  That lying is not only necessary, but expected.  The ongoing cries of disgust and protest seem to me to be ill founded when it is, and always has been, in America’s nature to lie and deceive.

As Canadians, we have constantly suffered from the cultural onslaught created by  “American Exceptionalism”.  When I was a kid, American television programming was so successful that when I was 16 years old, I once asked my Dad when Canada would finally become one of the United States.  Only when I was 20 did I begin to understand how manipulated I had been.  It has been said that whatever happens in America happens in Canada 10 years later. The same is true of Australia, although it takes longer there, probably because of the heat.  I’m not interested in following America on its current path.  People are getting hurt and having their rights taken away.  Whatever it is that they have incubated down there is not, in any way Canadian, and should be kept contained.

Justin has argued briefly, in this video, as to why he is now against pursing Proportional Representation (PR), every Canadian’s preferred system. He went  into it more in-depth here when speaking at a town hall in Yellowknife earlier today, but I remain unconvinced.

He speaks of a three party system being the strongest way to represent individual Canadian voices, but his reasoning doesn’t make sense to me.  It would suggest that you must join one of the three parties even if none of the parties offer policies that you can get behind or disagree with, like the ongoing violation of indigenous land rights.  He says this system allows our individual voices to be heard, but as long as oil and the private interests of millionaires continue to dominate our political system, those of us who have reached real consensus about how  our country should be governed will NOT be heard.

Canada has 18 registered political parties.  I favour the idea of rule by coalition governments because those kinds of governments, made up of smaller groups of people, MUST cooperate in order to advance.  There is a simple truth that Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Once in power, people like to stay in power and then they begin to make it harder for the people they serve to remove them from power.   21 of 28 countries in Western Europe use Proportional Representation, including Germany, which, last i looked, was the most powerful nation in Europe with the most prosperous economy.  There is no reason to be afraid of this transition, it has been proven to work.  And they have accepted over a million refugees.  If anything PR brings us closer to unity because so many of our allies use it.  The only reasons to deny it would be opportunistic.

Confront Anxiety, Deal With Root Causes

Finally, like all politicians, Justin has decided to use fear to justify the reversal of his promise.  He is now suggesting that it will fragment our democracy, giving rise to ultra right parties that may well pursue Trumpian Policies.

I don’t buy tickets on the fear train.  As Canadians, I think we are better than that.  I am disappointed that Justin has decided to turn to fear as a motivator.   When he spoke to the UN for the first time last September, he warned repeatedly about politicians exploiting anxiety for personal gain,  He said, speaking of initiatives his government had taken, “We have done all of this…because we believe we should confront anxiety with a clear plan to deal with its root causes”.  And yet, fear and anxiety is what he cultivates now to explain why he changed his mind.  The root cause is directly in front of us and I’d like to know what Justin thinks the clear plan to deal with this is.

We are supposed to teach our kids to be good people and to tell the truth. Maybe we need to reassess that outlook.  Perhaps we should explain to our children that if you are rich and come from a privileged background, lying is okay because you can afford nice clothes and buy your way out of trouble.  Should we explain that only people who are NOT millionaires must always tell the truth?  I want a system where every vote counts.

That is the only real democracy.

 

Welcome to the Trumpocalypse!

I managed to write a musical news recap about an hour ago and decided, for the second week in a row to open my blog with it.  So here goes…

Woo Hoo, week 2 of President Trumpocalypse’s America has passed and we have ever so much more to talk about! If you are up for talking that is… my discovery this week is that many out there are angry, but nobody wants to talk. All they want to do is rant and rave and belittle people who don’t agree with them instead of engage in some sort of constructive dialogue that might see us coming up with some sort of solution.

What is ‘Agent Provacateur’, for 500 points?

Robert Reich, Former United States Secretary of Labor, has told us that he believes the violent demonstrators at the Berkeley protest on Wednesday were in fact, right wingers who had infiltrated the left.

Dario Fo wrote about it in his 1969 play “The Accidental Death of an Anarchist”. A great play to read because it has two endings and you have to decide for yourself which one is more effective. Synopsis and Spoilers are here. There are several film versions on line, this one seems quite good.

It is a standard tactic of the right to use the ‘agent provocateur’ to create circumstances where the state can demand greater repressive power. I have no doubt that this is one of those situations and that we will see more of them. We must always see violent acts like these for what they are, an attempt to destroy the credibility of the left by right wingers passing themselves off as left wingers.

My Encounter with Sean

“Sean” is an angry guy. His profile picture says “Fuck Donald Trump”. Apparently he is left wing and believes that we need to be as violent as the forces we are fighting. He believes that you have to attack in the same manner as your adversary.

If you are a left winger who believes that there are other more effective ways to fight this battle, Sean won’t listen to any of it. He’s made up his mind and his catch phrase is “We disagree. We should agree to disagree”. He said “I dont know you. Your point of view is yours and mine is mine. I’m not hear to change your mind”. Such a position is a complete denial of what it is to be defined as progressive left. He also said “I’m too sick to do this with you today” which led me to ask him why he was here, ding this. I mused to myself that he was getting paid to enter conversations and disrupt them, which is a tactic straight out of the CIA’s 1940 manual on “Simple Field Sabotage”. He gave me the laugh emoticon and said “I’m still waiting for that cheque.”

To me, Sean is a strategic instrument put in play by my adversary, whether Sean realizes it or not. In order to win the day, I need to neutralize his effectiveness at disruption through an alternative, more covert means. Of course his presence needs to be scrutinized so that we may discover, once and for all, if he is a member of the Black Bloc, that mysterious group of hoodlums that show up at every protest to make sure it turns into a riot that gets blamed on the Left.

I asked the host of the thread if she knew this guy, which she did.  In the world of social media we can only trust that our friends are real friends, vetting their own friends so we know who we are dealing with. Which reminds me, mental note…*go back, look at friends list, cull where necessary*. I have many known right wingers in my feed. I keep them there to keep my news feed balanced and provide me points of views I would not normally have exposure to.  It is very educational and gives an understanding of what is actually going on out there. On occassion, I jetison a few of them because there is only so much engagement you can endure before it becomes counter productive.  I’ll do it as long as it is fun.

I believe that debate is what makes us stronger, particularily with strangers.  The ability to stay open minded is the challenge, you have to do it all the time.

I’ve said it before, it is my mantra, “my mind can be changed if you present an irrefutable argument”.  Not knowing someone and having an exchange gives me greater insight into the challenges we face as a species.  If Sean “doesn’t have time for it” and is incapable of changing his mind, then perhaps Sean should change his profile picture to say  “Fuck Sean” because he behaves exactly as Donald Trump does and, in the end he ends up being no better than the person he is condemning.

True or False?

Fear as a Motivator

We all know that Fear is the single most destructive tool by which to try and sway public opinion.  We know it can be effective.  Students of history have countless examples of how despots manipulate populations. Chile, Argentina, The Phillipines, and 33 other countries have had their governments overthrown by the USA.  It seemed inevitable that the American government would one day be overthrown, what goes around comes around, I guess.

I myself have witnessed numerous points in history where some sort of calamity has been thrust upon the public consciousness, finance plunged into chaos and long term personal objectives decimated. Naomi Klein tells us in “The Shock Doctrine” that these “shocks” to the system always generate emotional reactions that lead to a change of power. By design, these shocks allow government to introduce unpopular legislation that people don’t notice because they are too busy picking themselves up and rebuilding.

There is even a list you can reference. My first shock came at 26 in 1987 with Black Monday, in 1992 with Black Wednesday, 9/11 in 2001 , The Financial Crisis of 2008 , and, in 2016, The Election of a Dumpster. It is interesting to note that all of these events occur between 6 and 8 years apart as if to subjugate any new optimistic 25 year old that may be around at the time..

I’m a comedian, so I’m always looking for a reaction. My approach, during times like these, is to call out anyone I know who feeds the cycle of fear and question the rationale behind their actions.  Why create an echo chamber for information that is designed to incite fear?

My Friend Steve

My Friend “Steve” recently re posted an article published by the Independent that had the headline “China says War is a practical reality.”  I commented on his post and asked him, “What are we supposed to do now? Crawl under our beds? Huddle together under blankets? Fret, Lament? What good could that possibly do anyone? What do you hope to achieve by reposting this headline?”

He responded “fear has always been a good motivator, knowledge may help us. Awareness is necessary”. I agreed with him on the last two points but the fear thing, well, I’ve never been sold on the fear thing. I told him what i think in a short play:

Steve: “The world is going to shit”
Me: “Is that what you want?
Steve: “No, of course not”
Me: “Then why give that idea publicity? You only publicize something when you are trying to sell it.”

Just like the Agent Provocatuer, The Fear Monger is operating using the same skill set as the adversary, which, once again, puts them in the same category as the person or people they are supposed to be against.

Maybe we shouldn’t define people as right or left any more because these are old 20th century terms. I don’t think Conservative or Liberal work any more either, because both sides of that coin provide similar results; profit at the expense of the human condition.

I think it would be better to  refer to people Harmonists or Exploitationists.  It’s a far more revealling definiton and much easier to identify who is who simply based on behaviour.  Up until this point in history the more you defied nature, the more money you made.

If you are have a closed mind and choose to use violence in any form to push forward your ideas, you’re an exploitationist and that puts you in the same league as the people you’re fighting. The Exploitationists should open a club and call it “You’re hitting yourself, You’re hitting yourself”.

Brighter Futures

On the brighter side of life, I saw many moments where humanity celebrated itself despite all efforts of the dark side to rain on the parade. Christians and Jews formed protective rings around Mosques.   A friend of mine recounted an inspirational story on FB about how young students at the school he teaches at rallied to assist a young Syrian boy who had just arrived and couldn’t speak english yet. And then there this was this ad from Danish Television, which chokes me up every time I watch it.

My advice, when engaging anybody in a potential debate, is to frame the investigation of controversy as a question.  It lets the other person create an argument and is less likely to result in pointless ad hominem attacks and potential de- friending (is that even a word?).  Ask questions and listen.  Too many people are members of the knee jerk reaction club, waiting to speak but not hearing what is being said.  We need to unify if we are going to make any progress.  Remember, it’s time to stand up and fight, in a peaceful, non violent, don’t get arrested kind of way.

See you next week!