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!

 

 

James and Jamesy – Incredibly Special and Deliciously Rare.

Imagel

I haven’t been posting blogs lately as I have not been inspired to write about anything.  Everything that has been going on around me has only made me grumpy and want to complain.  Everything that I was writing about was becoming hard to live with so I just decided to stop.  I decided to live inside of that platitude that if I couldn’t say anything nice I wouldn’t say anything at all.

I figured I just needed exposure to some talent, so I decided to go out and see stuff.  However, I haven’t been having a lot of luck watching shows lately.  I have been disappointed almost all of the time.  Two nights ago I went to a show and was left so drained for the experience, I was ready to leave town.  I was looking at my watch, making mental notes about how bad the script was and yawning at the plethora of tired old gimmicks being employed to make the audience feel as though the had not wasted their money.  I left the theatre depressed and started to believe that innovation was truly dead, at least here in this town.  After being here for almost a year I had yet to see anything that filled me with the euphoria I have only known when something truly original and inspiring comes my way. It seemed as though Vancouver was devoid of any real talent.

As a performer and artist I am always looking out for that special something, a show like no other that ignites the imagination and keeps you transfixed for how ever long it is.  I give really bad audience.  I have seen too much.

Last night I went to the In Jest Clown Festival at Russian Hall in Vancouver expecting more of the same.  The evening started with a red nose clown doing some pretty rudimentary stuff that the kids who were in attendance seemed to be indifferent about. Some of what he was doing in terms of technique I had seen the previous night but in a slightly different form.  It was unclear if what he was doing was for adults or kids.  After about 10 minutes, I started looking at my watch and trying to figure out how to gracefully exit the premises. I simply couldn’t do this to myself two nights in a row.

However, the clown then did something that took me by surprise.  During the course of his camping excursion show, he had befriended a puppet squirrel.  The kids who were at the show came to like the squirrel and found his antics amusing.  My heart had been won and I was actually enjoying myself.  Then, owing to a complication in his script, the clown got hungry and without much warning, broke the neck of the puppet squirrel, skinned it, cooked it and ate it, all in a cartoon fashion but graphically enough to make everyones heart stop.

I looked to the kids sitting beside me to see their jaws drop and their eyes bulge out of their head.  Although the clown technique and the story were under developed, the artist had succeeded in grabbing my attention.  His show ended and I decided to stay for the next show to see what else might happen here.

 

After a short break, The comedy duo James and Jamesy took the stage with their new show “High Tea”.  From the moment the lights went up and the first character took the stage I felt a familiar electricity in the room and found myself sitting on the edge of my seat.  It only took about 30 seconds to realise that I had a huge smile pasted on my face and felt I was about to witness something astounding.

 

The physicality and eccentricity of the short lean and lanky character Jamesy juxtaposed against his foil the practical, pragmatic and rather imposing James, while the former serves the later tea, was an absolute joy from start to finish.  The attention to detail, the choreography, the unexpected twists and turns of the script, the audience participation and the over abundance of fabulous ideas left me with a serious lack of superlatives with which to describe this show.  Conventional accolades simply will not do.  All I can do here is to tell you to go and see them when they come to your town, if you are looking to be a part of something incredibly special and deliciously rare.

I left that show filled with a renewed lease on life, a jump in my step and an inspiration I had not know for quite some time.  I owe a big thank you to the people who produced the inaugural “In Jest Festival of Clown and Play” for showing me some compelling stuff.  You can find out more about the festival here:  http://injestfestival.com.  Creativity is not dead, it is alive and well and living in Vancouver.

 

If you are in Vancouver, you can see James and Jamesy at the Revolver Festival May 13 through 18 at The Cultch, 1895 Venables St, Vancouver.   Check the website for show times:  http://www.upintheairtheatre.com/2-tea-vancouver.  If you are not in Vancouver, they will be touring across Canada, if you are not in Canada, call them, invite them over and pay them to do their show for you.