Connect with us

Creative Writing

Black Lives Matter and So Does Their Art – Violent Expression vs. The Plutocracy III

Published

on

I’ve been on a break from my ‘professional’ writing of late for a few reasons. I’ve begun my second novel: a Sci-Fi opus of cyberpunks, hyper hippies, oppressed Mandroid’s and a phantasmagoria of other cultural/social/artistic squeezings from a vicarious soul and motley mind that only I could write – it might be finished by the time I could actually attend a forbidden jazz club for droids, borgs and allies. I’ve been co-editing Cape Magazine, mine and a fellow friend/writer/campfire soul’s project of passion that will showcase voices too long buried beneath academic assimilation and banal literary expectations. But my month-long hiatus from writing directly into the vein of our pain is because of this article, and the fascistic flames of the dumpster fire world that inspires it.

Since the murder of George Floyd by U.S. police policy – this isn’t a pun, but a puerile punchline to America’s founding and enforcement of White Right – and the subsequent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement (founded in 2013, sickeningly needed since 1619), a pandemic within a pandemic, I’ve wanted to curate an article that shares my rage, empathy, heartache and hunger for systemic change this bleached world over. But as a white man who literally looks like Clark fucking Kent, grew up in Wales (our dragon may be red but over 93% of our population is white); a country within the CUNTRY of Brexit Britain, and, in spite of hitting a line in Label Bingo with being severely working-class, neurodiverse and battling depression and anxiety, I was able to leave the joyrider’s haven of Townhill, and have always masked much of my neurological diversity to others.

Aaron Farrell Camp #1

Not being black meant that despite what possible disadvantages I suffered, I was still free and able to reinvent myself and actually smith those things into swords which I wield with Bride-ian fervour. There’ll be many black people who have my disadvantages but can’t just save up, get lost, find themselves and pursue their passion because the white world does not allow them. This is the predicament which I’ve wrestled with for years: what right do I have to speak for anyone else? In spite of being raised by the strongest person I know who happens to be a fiercely, independent warrior woman, it still took me too long to outwardly declare that I’m a feminist – because I didn’t feel I had the right. And with saying that, and having been one my entire life, perhaps my white privilege is that I can utilize that white guilt to declare that I am an Ally. Whilst I’ve always been mentally strong, physically able (yes, I’m talking about fighting unfortunately as that was the lingua franca of my childhood) and vehemently outspoken, I know that has led to me outwardly defending oppressed, bullied, profiled people in the past with either a Black belt in Kung-Fu or a tongue nearly as violently expressive as the spiritually loquacious lovechild of Cupcakke, RZA and Killer Mike, I now claim my allyship to the world.

The true beginnings of my physical allyship started in 2013 when I partook in Camp America. With my background of rising from deprivation, and then feeding back into those in the same shitty boat through an array of roles as Youth Worker, Teaching Assistant and Support Worker, I was cherry-picked for Camp Top of the Pines/Camp Vacamas. The former is a sister camp specializing in the hardest to reach, most severely deprived and at-risk young people from the Bronx, Harlem, Queens, etc. Naturally (and inversely to my childhood experience), over 95% of these young people were black. But so too were they poor, underrepresented, underappreciated and dismissed for their dire socio-economic backgrounds – and, I learned, for being black.

Aaron Farrell Camp #2

Without bursting into a 300-page memoir of my tumultuous but no less terrific time during that summer of 2013, I must say that I learned so fucking much about the black experience. As Sports Coordinator during the first two week ‘trip’ of 90+ kids, I had a few flat basketballs and American footballs, cones, some baseball bats and whatever else I could find in the dusty and underfunded attic that was the storeroom. I delivered five sessions a day to groups with this equipment, and whilst I taught touch rugby to an audience who didn’t have much of a clue about rugby, or much else when it came to the tiny lake-sized country I’m from…

–SIDEBAR: ‘Do you all live in castles in Wales?’

‘Is there McDonald’s in Wales?’

‘Is there internet in Wales?’

‘Is there Whales in Wales?’

‘Are you Macklemore?’ – whilst I think I look nothing like Macklemore as he’s a pale ginger white dude, and I’m tanned, dark and often mistaken for Italian/Spanish/16th century pirate white dude, it reminded me of the movie Role Models when Bobb’e J. Thompson tells Paul Rudd, “You white, then you Ben Affleck.” Which, like all the above questions, isn’t just heartrendingly humbling, but a fucking due-time (and funny) reversion of that most heinous allusion that all Black people/Asian people/anyone-who-isn’t-white look the same. For fuck sake, have you looked at mainstream music/TV/Film etc, WHITE PEOPLE LOVE TO FUCKING LOOK LIKE CARBON COPIES OF EACH OTHER BECAUSE THEY’RE BORING TWATS WHO CHERISH THEIR ASININE COMFORT ZONES MORE THAN EXPANDING THE SPIRIT!

Aaron Farrell Camp #3

…I was then taught American football in kind. But during an International Day where all the motley counsellors and staff offer insight into where they’re from to an audience who’ve never strayed (poverty is imprisonment) further than NY City, apart from this getaway to Bear Mountain, NY State (I know right, who the fuck starts a children’s summer camp on BEAR MOUNTAIN!) once a year, I was shocked. Where I saw a lot of similarities between these children and all the mad-bastard Townhillians I’d worked with for six years prior, these kids, by default, were more articulate, had broader lexicons, and even broader minds. But damn were they indoctrinated. One kid who brought two pairs of pants and socks with him for a two-week stay was telling me how America is the greatest country on earth. It still shocks me. From here on out and for the rest of the summer, I did not stop asking questions of my kids – after the first trip they were in need of another counsellor (basically the staff member who parents a group of 6-8 kids at all times and for all things) who could handle an unruly bunch so that was me, apparently – and built some resilient, beautiful bonds with them.

Where, at the beginning of the summer, I was a gutted I wasn’t headed to a Californian camp with a fucking water park within like a friend who applied at the same time, by the end of the summer, I was so earnestly appreciative that I got to meet, talk, share, learn from, teach, and live with my fellow poor folk, who happened to be young, black Americans.

Aaron Farrell Camp #4

One of the main things I learned is that racism will end with white people dismantling it. The system is so stacked against black people that it doesn’t even allow for them to end their oppression. This list/article (I’m aware of the word ‘listicle’ but more aware of the fucking beige squares that use terminology that mars communication) is my minuscule effort at trying to rally more of my pigmentally-challenged sistren and brethren into proclaiming their allyship. None of this is definitive. None of it is said with any authority, but simply appreciation. It is not extensive even because who the fuck can truly collectivize the art that pumps their heart? ADHD and solid memory do in fact kick each other out of bed for farting. This is merely a rundown of Black Art/Artists that helped a white man see, feel and seethe at their plight. I’m going to miss more than I catch so please, please, chime in on the comments and social media to add to the list and invite others to do so – like those abundant bedtime conversations I had back in summer 2013. I am going to assume we’ve all seen, cried and talked about 12 Years A Slavewhich rightfully seemed tectonic at release – and so that is why it’s not in the list below. That’s not to say Steve McQueen isn’t a boss ass bitch at showcasing the overtly oppressed black experience in Slave, and the marginalised one in Widows.

The Spotify playlist, “Black Lives Make Music,” that I’ve curated just below is also a minute slice of life from Black lives, but one I will be adding to often. Without further tangential wanderings, here’s “Black Lives Matter and So Does Their Art.”

Jay-Z & Linkin Park – “Points Of Authority” / “99 Problems” / “One Step Closer”

One of the first pieces of black art that shocked me into disbelief. Growing up deprived but mostly white meant that apart from a brown best friend, I was never really a part of any sort of black community. There were French black siblings in my school, and I saw much resentment toward them from all those white kids whose stuck-in-the-mud families were resentful to themselves. “Points of Authority,” especially Jay and Mike’s interplay of white cop and black man pulled over by white cop, unlocked something in me, the potency of rap to reveal poetic prose. And the scabs it rips off to reveal the soft pink flesh beneath that we ALL bear.

I was into Linkin Park (naturally, as an angsty teenager with too many feelings and too little outlets) and I will be forever grateful to them for introducing me to Hova, one of the quintessential Black New York rappers risen from the realms of slinging drugs to spitting beatific poetry. Jay-Z gifted me one of my thirteen-year-old self’s favourite puns: “I’m not a business man, I’m a Business, mannnnn.” He proved to me he could handle his business, damn. The entire Collision Course EP is so tight. A communal amalgamation of styles, genres and people. Listen closely and you’ll simultaneously headbang and jig like a motherfucker.

Jordan Peele – Get Out / “Replay” (The Twilight Zone)

I’m not going to wax lyrical about what Get Out did for the zeitgeist’s discourse toward how black people face intrinsic racism from even ‘Liberals’ because I, thankfully, think many of us were involved in that discourse. Though it must be acknowledged as it did teach me, and perhaps informed the aforementioned internal struggle of calling myself an ally, that white people can be the most manipulative, hypocritical cunts on Mama Earth’s skin.

“Replay,” the best episode of Jordan Peele‘s re-issuing of Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone, relates to the black man pulled over by white cop from Collision Course. Selwyn Sefu Hinds’ sci-fi tinged script and story prove that even in the Twilight Zone, the persistence of racism, prejudice and white authority perpetuates. A truly harrowing Twat and Mouse thriller steeped in racist overtones and undertones.

Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk

Jenkins’ follow up to the elegantly elegiac Moonlight undid all of the good will the Academy garnered with Moonlight’s (muffled) Best Picture win. For me, possibly the better film, with an even more poignant and profound soundtrack by Nicholas Brittell scoring harsher spirit-stabbing racism. The heart-hugging community of Black families just trying to do right by their own, let alone a do right against a system – nah fuck that, let’s call a pale hand on a pistol a pale hand on a pistol – against a country whose self-aggrandizing ethos only applies to white folks. This hurts as much as it heals. I still can’t believe how few people watched this even after claiming to be fans of Moonlight. For all the pain in this movie, there are some scenes of artistic creation and genuine discourse that are simply abundant in humanity and our desire to create and connect.

Ava DuVernay – 13th

And with that point above, please see 13th, Ava DuVernay‘s expose of the American (in)justice system and hear the stories of black people incarcerated for lifetimes that a white person probably would have received bail for. Prepare for the anger you’ll have by end credits, and if you’re not African American, prepare some more for the confrontation with the fact that your anger is a child’s tantrum compared to a Black Hulk’s (Marvel, hire me, motherfuckers because you can bet I’ve got a refreshing reboot idea for the modern Hyde-ian duplicity of man and monster) rage that can never be allowed to manifest itself. The title is a reference to the Thirteenth Amendment which apparently abolished slavery. I don’t think the politicians got the memo. And if you haven’t seen DuVernay’s Selma, surrounding the legendary Martin Luther King-led march, then fucking get to it, sister.

Kenya Barris – BlackAF

This mockumentary finally lends the meta nature of self-reference/reverence to an affluent artist who happens to be Father and Husband to a boisterously beautiful black family. Barris writes and stars alongside the role we’ve all wanted for Rashida Jones since Ann Perkins. It does familial in-fighting so well, whether it be about a young woman’s sexual and spiritual freedom from her overprotective father, a boy’s innate gentle kindness not being conducive to growing up black, or how an at-odds couple manages six kids, two careers and the mammoth pressure of being known the world over as the successful black family with a 100 million dollar Netflix deal. Oh, and every episode proves that all plights within American society stem back to slavery with some hilarious, touching, Larry David-esque stepping in shit and spreading it on the carpet antics. Much maligned for not being black enough apparently, but it taught me quite a lot, and I don’t just mean the sheer import of celebrating Juneteenth, but how a Black family unit functions and doesn’t function – regardless of being the most affluent family in the neighbourhood.

https://youtu.be/O-LtbHykms0

Killer Mike, Run The Jewels – Trigger Warning with Killer Mike

Anyone who knows me knows I love RTJ. For their violent expression, steezy beats and the idyllically colourful coalescence of Atlanta-born Killer Mike and Brooklyn-born, El-P as contemporary rap kings showcasing the magnificence of human chiaroscuro. But also because all of the above is so needed right now. Check out my review of their 2020-busting album RTJ4 to hear more of the gospel, but please also find Trigger Warning with Killer Mike on Netflix. The documentary follows the messiah that is Mike through six episodes as he wrestles with the socio-economic issues and political prejudice that Black people live and breathe. Episode One sees Mike travel the country trying to “‘live black,” meaning he can only buy food, shelter and most importantly weed, from black folks. And that means from seller to CEO, black money must go into black pockets. It’s funny, irreverent, touching and insightful. And you’ll sometimes see Mike’s tongue so far in his cheek that it looks like he’s giving the universally dire symbol for a blowjob as he utilises the porn industry to teach people how to change a lightbulb, and fittingly starts a nation called New Africa.

Boots Riley – Sorry to Bother You

Sorry To Bother You did a lot for restoring my faith in cinema. When I watched this in my local back in 2018, I was fucking howling. Some of the funniest scenes in recent memory are the adhesive to a scathing satire where LaKeith Stanfield’s call centre worker uses “White Voice” to become the top salesman, leaving his contemporary artist girlfriend played by a ferocious Tessa Thompson on the bottom floor. This is just the tip of the horse person’s veiny dick (don’t worry, it’ll make sense when you’ve seen it) as Boots Riley dissects being black in modern America with so much wickedly weird irreverence that you’ll be screaming “what the fuck have I just watched!?” with disbelief and adoration. I’ll say no more as not to spoil the chaos but look out for Armie Hammer’s magnanimous line of cocaine being the greatest snort of cinema history.

Donald Glover – Atlanta

Years before Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino gained the platinum trophy for blisteringly brutal music videos in This Is America, he made Atlanta. It follows Glover’s Earn as he tries to manage his rapper cousin, ‘Paper Boi’ played by the brilliant Brian Tyree Henry, whilst being a boyfriend, a dad, a friend and an individual in his own right. Both seasons are essential viewing, not only for the navigation of deprived black communities like Atlanta, and the modern gangster rap scene, but because it’s also wilder than a feral manbearpig. It continually strays from formula, doubling-down on its playful weirdness when it comes to story, structure, form, medium. It’s an untameable, unforgettable, impossible-to-label series that put talent like Glover, Henry, Stanfield and Zazi Beats on primetime TV. Some of the imagery on show too could be framed and hung on walls – a scene of white Frat initiation from Season 2 stopped me in my tracks. Also, the pulpiest, most satirical adverts this side of Rick and Morty.

Htiekal aka LaKeith Stanfield – Do Better

With Get Out, Sorry To Bother You and Atlanta all featuring the dextrous genius of Lakeith Stanfield, it’s a wonder he had the time to start a music career but that’s what he did as Htiekal. Do Better features Stanfield wearing black face in a mirror, singing ‘I don’t wanna be black no more.’ In the immortal word of Stan Lee, “Nuff said.”

https://youtu.be/9Sq-SS9EtkY

 Spike Lee – Chiraq

Because there might be a smidgeon of justice in the world, most of us know and love director provocateur, Spike Lee. Though more recently known for Da 5 Bloods (it’s at the very top of my film watchlist but I’ve heinously not yet gotten to it) and Blackkklansman, and regarded as one of the most important black directors of all time because of She’s Gotta Have It and Malcolm-X, the man speaks for the many. But he did something bombastic in Chiraq. Taking the classical Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes (women utilise the little power they have against their men – Sex – and deny it them until they stop their wars and find common ground) and colliding it with Englewood, Chicago and its infamous gang violence, Lee makes a two hour rap musical that’s as sassy and substantive as it sounds. A truly unique watch, even for Lee fans, the brilliant cast led by Teyonah Parris deliver on the promise of music as they rattle through issues not just of being black in America, but being a woman in America.

I saw Lee’s challenge and met it with a review in lyrical form, when I used to waste my time on LetterBoxd. https://letterboxd.com/aaronfarrell/film/chi-raq/

It’s a bit of a mess but still one of the funnest reviews I’ve written. And yes, I like the imagery of scabs.

Maya Angelou – Still I Rise, Caged Bird

This magnificently myriad woman’s poetry resonated with me when I was about fifteen. Still I Rise, was and still is such a pivotal poem in my discovery of self. At a time where I felt misunderstood, unliked, swept aside and chastised for being an empathic, imaginative, sensitive weirdo in a mass-production line of football fan furore and neutered, ignorant prison prospects, Still I Rise taught me that I could go above what the world wants and expects of me. It’s of course so much more than one chubby teen’s spiritual liberation, it’s a poetic penis-punch to a white world that thinks so little of black women. And then there’s Caged Bird. Just read this goddess among humans to have your emotions rebooted.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/maya-angelou

Toni Morrison – Beloved

I was pretty pleased with myself that I’d read this before I got to Uni and was told to. Granted I was 26 starting Uni, so I’d had a head start on many classmates, but I was the first in my family to ever even toy with the idea of higher education, and that’s probably due in small degree that I have read, cried and felt utterly enraged and inspired by authors like Toni Morrison. Beloved is unlike anything else you have read. It’s magical realism, horror, history, and a horde of other things. It’s not an easy read, for both its agonising story which takes place during the mid-1800’s Kentucky, but also it’s narrative perspective, ethereal descriptions and unrest in its magic, and its realism. It’s agony that’s wholly worth it as Halle, Pauly D, et al, are about as humane as humanity comes.

Wu Tang Clan – Of Mics and Men/ Discography/ Afro Samurai

As last year was the 25th anniversary of the Colourful Council of Cerebral Colloquialisms, Wu Tang Clan, the documentary Of Mics and Men is a testament to why I’ve always loved these geeky gods. Though they lived forced lives of hustling drugs and dodging slugs around Staten Island and beyond, RZA, Method Man, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, et al, became THE royal troupe of Rap. If you can’t see their Kung-Fu Film meets lyrical swordplay in my writing – especially poetry – then you probably haven’t listened to enough of the Wu. This docco recounts their individual lives as children, their coming together over Kung-Fu films being the few movies that don’t have White Saviours, the realisation that their voices don’t just matter but must be heard, and then utilising their street skills to proliferate a new mode of Hip Hop. Their approach to form and freedom of speech was revolutionary, and they really helped sculpt me as a teen, man and writer. Proof that some of the greatest contemporary poetry comes from Hip-Hop, they’re one of the main reasons I believe in Violent Expression. And also, one of the best bands to listen to high.

This isn’t strictly Wu-Tang but this RZA collab with MF Doom and Omegah Red has been a recurring song in my playlist since my friend, Arthur, played it in first year of Uni – consider we’ve just graduated. The beat is as sultry as Hip-Hop gets but pay attention to those verses!!!

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal – Blindspotting

I knew I had to see this – a friend and fellow critic said it was his favourite of the year, 2018. And what a choice. This is a seemingly slice-of-Oakland-Life buddy comedy that mutates with aptitude into a Rubik’s cube of genre fluidity, social issues, racial identity, to name a few of the many. It’s a mind-blowing exertion of talent by writers/stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. Halfway through the film, I needed to know who the fuck wrote (it’s a writer’s film) such a funny, painful, authentic film, and was in awe that it was these two brotherly chaps I’d been watching on screen. The less you know the better, as just the first ten minutes are proof of the aforementioned tonal dexterity. I’m already wanting to watch it again as it’s about as exuberant announcement of new age voices as a green bulb-headed broad landing in a spaceship proclaiming she comes in peace. And the real kicker of the humane stories within, two years ahead in 2020, is that they’ve only become more relevant. I’m so pumped about Blindspotting that, between writing this article and it being published, I’ve come back add this to the list as, since watching it two nights ago, it has not left my head or heart.

Jean-Michel Basquiat – His entire body of art (as seen on my shirt – a Billabong curated, posthumous collab between Basquiat and Andy Warhol)

Basquiat was not only testimony to the real American dream as his birth right was being part of the eclectic cultures of Puerto Rico and Haiti, but one of the most eccentric critics of America’s treatment of black people. His art is singular, immediately recognisable but densely indecipherable. Tragically part of the 27 club (I inadvertently and independently adore most of its genius members), Basquiat still left a cool motherfucker silhouette on the art world and the real one which inspired it. A king who made his own crown 

Ryan Coogler – Fruitvale Station  

A sad refrain of theme, this film details the last day of Oscar Grant III, played with aplomb by Michael B. Jordan, as he meets his destiny on New Years Day with bullets from a cop gun. It’s a quiet film, cut with character throughout, but one that is tectonic in the grief it portrays. This is a dehydrating crier, so be warned. But shit, is it also non fictional prophecy for the life and times of young black men in America. But thankfully it was also the calling card of directory Ryan Coogler who would go on to make the best movie in the Rocky franchise with Creed, and then literally rewrite the superhero genre with Black Panther.

Zeal and Ardour – Devil is Fine, Don’t You Dare, etc…

So, if this article has left you feeling frustrated, angry, or in need of some thrashing, look no further than Swiss-American Experimental Metal band, Zeal and Ardour. Led by Manuel Gagneux, who brings a refreshed meaning to Black Metal, he utilises white appropriations, slave songs, and the entire historical zeitgeist of the Black American experience to keep old flames raging, and kindle some new ones in you and me. If the band’s symbiotically metal sound with Gagneux’s ferocious voice don’t leave you in awe of the sheer talent, I will fart on your pillow. Seriously, this dude’s voice is beserk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFGU0g1LA9I

And these are just a few slices of Black art that have affected who I am, infected my artistic output, and prove (not that it ever, ever fucking needed it) that Black Lives Matter. As I said in the intro, I’ve missed thousands of pieces of art that may be more pressing, more prescient or more important, but this is and always was a subjective piece of which art helped shape me from ignorant-by-default white boy into an ally all too willing for atrocities against his pigmentally challenged kin that would bring an end to apathy, and herald a new age of communal empathy.

Sound off in the comments, add to this list, fuck, make it definitive. Teach me more, utilise whatever privilege I have, leverage my ability to spinning kick people in the face by placing Trump, Johnson, their cabinets, and their cohorts of the Fascistic League of Unwiped Assholes in front of me so I can help destroy what I detest. My name is Aaron and I’m an ally. His name is Killer Mike and he says, ‘Kill Your Masters.’ Well, let’s get to it.

Here’s a list of honourable mentions from allies in art:

Bobby D – Hurricane

Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained (I know of the controversies but fuck, man, if it isn’t nice to have your gut-churning mandingo fights and lashings ending in fairy-tale fashion with Django taking all the fucking names of the conspirators of Kandyland. The fastest gun in the south is a black superhero without the latex).

Gilbert King – Devil in the Grove

Norman Jewison – In The Heat of the Night

Rachel Dretzin & Phil Bertelstein – Who Killed Malcolm X

Harper Lee – To Kill A Mockingbird

David Simon – The Wire

Damon Lindelof – Watchmen (this quasi-sequel in series form to the 1986 graphic novel -my favourite of all time! – opus by Alan Moore literally opens with the Tulsa Race Massacare)

Michael O’Shea – The Transfiguration

Joe Cornish – Attack The Block

2K Games – Mafia III

Peter Ramsay (who is black and co-directed with) Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Insomniac Games – Marvel’s Spider-Man (this for their handling of Miles Morales as a secondary character that is taking the webbed spandex – like he did for Spider-Verse above – as the titular hero in the next game).

Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon – The Central Park Five

Chris Morris – The Day Shall Come

Rage Against The Machine – Discography

Katheryn Bigelow – Detroit

 And here’s Black Lives Make Music. The user is my fiancee as we share a Spotify because, addoooyyy. As I said, it’s continually being updated.

Aaron uses words as weapons because he understands that the pen is mightier than the fleshy sword many other white men have written with for time immemorial. He also uses literal weapons as a Black Belt Third Dan Kung-Fu instructor, falls off his skateboard often, denies his working-class rites to explore this pale blue dot, and writes about it all - whether poem, novel, or article - with vehemence. He believes in violent expression, exuberant individualism (he's co-founder/editor of Cape Magazine) and the omnipotence of marijuana.

Creative Writing

New Years’ Revolutions – Violent Expression vs. The Plutocracy IV

Published

on

brokenadjective — bro·​ken | \ ˈbrō-kən  \

Definition of broken

1violently separated into parts
2damaged or altered by or as if by breaking such as:
ahaving undergone or been subjected to fracture
bnot working properly

Synonym: Government, Capitalism, Society, Plutocracy, (Current) System.
Antonym: Whole (also see: Community, Unity, Citizenry, (Future) System

We could have any world we wanted. If you don’t believe in fate or religious faith or fascism, you must be able to see that this global society we now live in, here in 2020 – the time of a global pandemic, gaping class divides, insidious socio-political polarity, economic recession, hyperbolic sex, lies & video-rape, normalization vapidity and anti-intellectualism to name but a few of our dystopic descriptors – is broken. Broken things are either mended or replaced. So, we’re clear, I don’t mean, let’s fix this like we’re Bob the fucking Builder. I mean it’s time to overthrow a system that is, by design, oppressive, unfair and favouring the white folks that decided on it. Some will think this naïve, as if change (borne by awareness) isn’t the catalyst for growth. Some will think this impossible because they only believe in repetitions of the probable. Some will decide that this is offensive to their patriotic duty of being bound to what is and not committed to what should be – think me a traitorous commie Dalton Trumbo and themselves the infallible HUAC (House of Un-America Activities Committee – I know, what a dumb fucking name, right?) deciding on my character, creativity and core beliefs because I question my prescriptions and inventory my subscriptions. Some will need to hear this, however. Just because things are, does not mean they should be. If we truly cannot act upon what needs to be changed and showcase morality and integrity in the face of ignorant, righteous hate, then fuck it. I hope Gaia mutates the coronavirus into a zombifying pathogen that allows us all to live our prepped-for apocalypses, ultimately resulting in the human race binge-eating itself into history.

In the age of information, ignorance is a choice. I’ve spoken these lines many, many times. I believe them still, years after my attentive mind summoned them as a mantra for my myopia. As a severely working-class boy in a severely working-class environment, I never had a deal of choice as a kid. What Mammy says, goes. She was single, serious and not be fucked with. She still is, but we’re best buds now too, with her supporting and enabling my every desire and telling me how proud she is that I did things differently, clawed my way out and am trying my best to be better and do better. Alas, as a child, choice was not something I could afford. Though I could learn things. Apply myself to all of my ‘weird’ ‘spazzy’ ways of loving art and sleeving my heart. To condense a Mike Leigh film, I got out, I’m now living in Barcelona with a First-Class degree, teaching English to Chinese children, skating everyday, sometimes signing copies of my poetry collection and novel, smoking legal weed, and sharing it all with my soon-to-be-wife. It is in this account I can see that I didn’t choose ignorance. I didn’t choose to be like everyone else – it is only in the past year I’ve found out my being a ‘strange spaz’ is actually a culmination of neurodiversity: Autism, ADHD, Anxiety and some Depression for good measure. That’s my journey though, not yours. Although this might be the long-awaited answer to those that questioned my collection’s title ArtBeat: The Ekphrastic Spastic for its flagrant ignorance and depravity. Ultimately, I am saying that I chose to be an author, a poet, an editor, a heterogeneous person dusted in cultures the world over. Sure, I worked too hard, mentally self-harmed too much, and wasted time worrying what the autonomous others thought. But as my Mammy so eloquently states, ‘Fuck them, boy. Fuck them all.’

Fuck You Columbus – Caption: ‘We cherish our new home in Barcelona, but you can’t not match the phallic aggrandizement of Slave Master General, Christopher Columbus with some high flying birds.’

If my mantra stands correct, we really could have had any world, any utopia, any fiction we’ve imagined, as a reality. From the beginning of our amphibious journey to land, there’s been unwitting choices as much as there has been morose decisions. We chose lines in the sand, killing ‘the other’, landowners, kings in crowns, religious zealousness, pomposity and privilege, white righteousness, black enslavement, capital superiority, hate, countries that are ‘Great’, dominance, pride, fear, hate, fear, hate, and the mundane state of comfort and conformity to whoever screams loudest and pretends to wipe our drooling lip. This might sound like a liberal flower’s humane take on Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire,’ but it’s simply the truth. And we all know flowers have thorns and that the truth be a massive prick. The problem is however that we as a bloated society want to risk nothing – if we’re privileged enough to have anything – but be rewarded with tailor-made trite that dampens insecurities. If you find this slice of Violent Expression is making you feel uncomfortable right now, then please continue to read (if you can manage it) because you are who I’m speaking to. Listen up, you fucking maggot *hear Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’s voice*. Your comfort zone expands every time you toe, step or leap past the line. Get up, get out and get some fucking self-awareness. We chose this. We can choose something else. What better place than here? What better time than now? So said, Zack De La Rocha in the mid-nineties.

Stop snoozing, start losing. I’m sick of it. I’m repelled by the facts that we could have changed at so many (too many) pivotal points in history and didn’t. Chart the history of civil rights, whether they be the African American journey from slave, to segregated, to still-hated for reclaiming identity and righting your wrongs. Or Alan Turing’s chemical castration after saving the world from the 20th century Screaming-Man-With-Villainous-Plan. I’d ask ‘Why can’t we learn from the earliest yet most morosely obvious example of subjugation, oppression and (Yes, you guessed right with the top two answers, dear reader) hate and fear. But if I asked that, I think I’d give up hope, turn my laptop off and MacGyver myself an armoury of instruments that will be all the better to lop and chop your groaning head off with. I do have fibres of hope in witnessing the zeitgeistal changes: that give voice to so many who had theirs taken from them; that embolden identity from diverse artistic representation; that a seventeen year old girl with Asperger’s is the passionately inspiring mouth of dying Mother Earth. All culminating to make our globalised society produce tastier honey for cultural cross-pollination. But that the Black Lives Matter movement is so needed and relevant right now, 2020, this long after Malcom, Martin, Rosa and Angelou is sickening. A pivotal factor in Black Lives, like any other Lives, Genders, Creeds that aren’t middle-to-upper class white-folks without brains, is our system. I can’t and won’t synopsise seven seasons of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, but I can and will say capitalism, especially this deteriorated, crumbling version, keeps so many underfoot of the gold-rimmed boots of those that were born into money, and money that came from Empires, Landowners, Royalty and Church. It was never and will never be dispersed. If your family could afford slaves, you probably still benefit from them.

“This is how potent cultural & artistic cross pollination can be to the spirits it get’s bopping and the structures it screams at.”

Coronavirus aside, 2020 is like the season finale of a manic satire of modern life and antiquated values. The fallacy of the system has been proved by the phallacy (see; phallic) of those in charge of it. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. The world leaders of arguably the world’s worst-led c(o)untries. I don’t say that with ignorance toward dictatorships, poverty-stricken nations and Russia, but because Britain and America have always thought themselves the unofficial Double Dragon of the English-as-lingua-franca, ‘first-world’. The mentors of how dumb shit is done. Their connection, and influence to other countries sharing the same low-functioning brain isn’t some Power Ranger morphing into a Megazord but a directed-by-Brian-Yuzna Society orgy of deviant dicking inside a grotesquery of flesh and faecal matter. Trump and Johnson were voted in by a lot of people. Cool, democracy. Trump and Johnson were voted in by a lot of people whose interests, backgrounds, and dearest beliefs are antonymic to surviving in their society. Cool, mass-media lies, reportage via shared capital interest, technological subterfuge utilising the streams of data you willingly give. But you don’t care if Alexa listens to you, you’re not bloody James Bond. But you will buy the Bond Boxset on Black Friday because you’re told to.

Let’s take 2020’s most vile talking point – Donald Cunt, sorry Trump. The questioningly-organic(?) FAKE-news agent with a mouth like a flatulent feline’s puckered little bum hole and skin like the stitched prepuce’s of Rabbi The Hutt’s entire congregation. That he got in after the videos of his prideful pussy grabbing, ridiculing of republicans as an easy votership, and general incestuous, molesting, desperate façade of man-shaped waste material from the Paper Street Soap Company was unbelievable. Now, we’ve just had four years of that bullying, unloved cretin getting stiffies every time literally anyone says his name, regardless of context. It was another Roast all over again, but we can’t dash and run after the appetiser for real entertainment. We are the contestants of his desperate show. We’ve had to sit through every excruciating mouthful of narcissistic, spiteful, dollar-eyed shit that perverse and prideful Bruce Bogtrotter has vomited. And what a gleeful time he’s been having force feeding us. This detestable, horrible, revolting predator with the brain power of a land-locked Magikarp has been The Most Powerful Man In The World for four fucking years. Yes, Biden won and it felt good, real good, to feel like a victory has been had for sense and progress but he is just another old rich white dude but that’s for 2021.

“Celebrating a victory.”

Over 70 million people still voted for Donald fucking Lannister. The system remains in the same awful way, and God forbid it change in the ultimate Age of Hypocrisy we live in (see; The News for the past ten years). Trump being Hypocrite 001. Fake News! Says a neurotic liar. Make American Great Again! It hasn’t been great since the First Nation’s lived peacefully with the land – so for good measure he’s been the most harmful president in history to indigenous peoples. I’m a businessman! Says the guy who was handed millions by Daddy only to go bankrupt several times and star as a caricature of capitalism – little did we know this jerk didn’t have a modicum of self-awareness. What Trump has done – other than make me realise, for all of my gory talk, desensitised morality toward mortality mixed with integrity, justice and some squeamishness: I could kill a human being (from the guy who will never go fishing except in a Zelda game because he couldn’t murder Nemo); kill him with righteous fucking aplomb – is show the world the American Nightmare: truly anyone can become president in these here United States of America.

I think the reason why change hasn’t come sooner, even in the face of overwhelming far-right zealousness, is that liberals are soft as baby shit. The far right is contemporary fascism. The far left is contemporary modesty. It’s all so idiotic. Politics is supposed to be about the coming together of those THE PEOPLE employ. Not allowing despots to run amok. But that amok state happens because people have never been so polarised. Of course we don’t want to acknowledge the myriad cracks that proves our system is broken beyond repair. There is no middle ground now. The right picks its nose, rubs it in the left’s hair and laughs. The left reacts by chopping off the snobby lock and trying to show the world how good they are that they won’t let the right affect their vision, in spite of enabling them. This toxic culture we live in of: mine is better than yours, the red team beats the blue team, this is the greatest [insert film, game, book, person…] ever!, this is the worst [insert film, game, book, person…] ever, you can’t say that because I believe in my right of free speech… etcetera, is not only exhausting but it enables all the wrong people. If someone rubs snobs in my hair, and, after questioning their motives, they continue to pick their nose and look at my salon-quality locks, I’m breaking that nose with a sharp straight jab.

Blind Foresight: A poem I wrote during the planning of this article.

The left want to be seen to die on their shields (fuck me, man, I hate twitter for this reason, especially trying to be within a community of wonderfully open-minded writer’s without an actual writer in sight, only academics and people who think writing is transcribing their every nubile thought) whilst the right live by the fleshy sword and think that means they’ll never die by it, because they’re immortal. What’s immortal is the insistence that antiquated parameters of governance is the only way. But, like I’ve been screaming for years – simply repeating Ginsberg, Thompson, Angelou, Moore, Hicks, Atwood, et al – words are weapons. The greatest piece of technology we ever mustered. All modern tech is is just a glitzy, exploitative, and expensive way to refract words. Words can’t be unseen, or unfelt. And it’s this belief that I hold most dearly. I have a superhero complex. I am Quixotic. I believe in the power to change the world. But my spirit’s HP gets ever lower in seeing it change for the worse, time and time and time again.

We’ve identified that our world is really fucked up. We’ve identified that we could have had a utopia, or a world at least where humanity understands that humanity, by very definition, incorporates ALL humans. We’ve identified the systems like capitalism, two party politics, poverty (never forget that it’s man-made), governmental/corporate institutions (and their institutionalised bigotries) all perpetuate what needs to die. And for all you Leftist twitter twats, ‘amwriters’, vampiric academics and gullible, gawping agents of believing what’s right is what your teacher tells you, I’ll put it in terms of a franchise I used to love as a kid but you have since ruined for me for pure negligent reading awareness: we won’t defeat Voldermort (capitalism, fascism, authoritarianism, bigotry, conformity, nationalism, neo-liberalism are the horcruxes) if we don’t say his (their) names. We must bellow them. We have to not just say they’ve done a bad thing and not repeat the bad word. We owe it to any who don’t want to live in Aaron’s New World Order of a Romero zombie-post-capitalism world. And if you’re on the other side of the ruined flower garden (because we all know the true pussycats of politics are, in fact the bratty, spoiled, childish Right), then don’t call a Black person a spade because you believe rhetoric is regal, but call a cunt, a cunt. Including yourself. A lot of my mental health issues over the past few years have come from trying to be the writer the modern world wants but doesn’t deserve. Fuck that. If I get a Delorean, I’m going back to the Beat. If I don’t, I’m not gonna take this shit anymore. I’m learning to love being the outlier, the one who writes earnestly, honestly and wildly, the man many judge as being an aimless handsome shell, but since learns is so dense in passions, interests, talent and love that he still surprises himself. And that’s what I won’t take. A world that pats itself on the back for so much that it makes us fervent and frantic workers cower at ever saying we are worth something, or that we’ve done a good job.

Someday, this will all be yours: via The New Yorker

I’ve given up on looking at the news as a looping scroll of mundane, brash, puerile end-of-the-world scenarios as I’m finally getting a hold of who I am, how I am, and what the fuck I can do – hence, after eight years of writing, I now have my own column titled Violent Expression where I discuss this shit!. Identifying as left and liberal when all these labels do is dissect our collective selves deeper into mineable data is futile. I will always try my best to be polite (yes, I swear and summon sweetly sickening images, but am a polite, mannered man who always has time for people), offer help, compassion and encouragement. But fuck forgiving fuckers that don’t deserve it. The most dangerous thing in this neutered but no less Neanderlithic world is enabling. And by not saying something, not standing up for you and yours, trying to be right to be right – and never, ever wrong –, allowing your racist family to get away with it for an easier life, and feeding into monopolies that want to rule the world when they’re just a website for searching porn and that actor’s name you can’t remember, we are enabling. Whilst many people say they no longer want to bring a child into this world because, well, have you seen it, I am the inverse.

I didn’t want kids until about two years ago. One of the reasons is because I won’t deny myself the chance at family fulfilment and being the father I never had. The other is that I’m sure we (me and my fiancée) will raise an astounding human being(s) that will help heal the world we scream that is broken – and if not, they’ll be an excellent swimmer in the inevitable Waterworld. They’ll be utterly colour blind for the ever more diverse society we are living in – in spite of the best laid plans of lice and men. They’ll have an autistic sense of moral, mental, spiritual integrity. They’ll skate, create and practice martial arts better than me because they’ll start young and I’ll be their teacher – always reminding them that care, understanding and knowing your worth (understanding your weaknesses is a true strength) creates a more just society. Or they’ll be none of the above but still be a human being raised right and believing they can change the world. But before then, we all have a lot of work to do. Defund the companies that control you as much as you can. Support independent EVERYTHING – not after Christmas but now! Don’t buy in to buying-in. Learn to appreciate conflict for the chance to grow AND learn. Stop waiting for your turn to speak and retort to what has been said. Stop saying, ‘Oh yeah, I knowwwwwwww.’ See the words in the day-to-day (adverts, chain emails, product descriptions) and realise they are the arsenal of capitalism, and the plutocracy that controls it. Be kind, especially with words. I love to tell my loved ones I love them. Skaters can’t help but know I’m at the park when I’m ‘Yas Kween’ing’ their steeze. My friends will always be enabled by my belief in them because I can’t function otherwise. We are in the time of eclectic, diverse, heterogeneous voices becoming the norm. Take it from this working-class Welsh boy who’s been through the ringer to negate his demonic privileges and guilts, now a working-class writer who’s as vocal as his motley minds and realises that seeing the varied perspective is his super power, and that words are his cape.

A quote from A Word’s Worth: Be

Of course, our revolution is televised, broadcast, live-streamed and used to sell Coke. But we always, in every single second, have the power to re-appropriate what’s been stolen from us, embolden our identity, and enable (yes, you heard that right) our loved ones in feeling loved and supported. I kind of wish I had a clean equation for revolution and upheaval but I wouldn’t be me then as I’m shit with numbers and don’t believe you can quantify feeling. It’d be nice to finish this article with a tick-list that leads to anarchy – again, re-appropriate these words, relearn meanings and understand that, like ‘communist’ ‘terrorist’ and ‘patriot’, words are dressed in drag nowadays thanks to the masters of marketing, rhetoric and policy subverting, and thus, negating meaning. If 2020 isn’t the year when all of our neuroses and negligence came to a head, then let’s not allow it to get worse. We will come out of our collective lockdowns and curfews, and there will be the need for control to be taken back. Like we saw with many governments fumbling the ball (and continuing to fondle the balls of their sponsors) during this pandemic and the subsequent fallout of socio-economic ‘norms’, there’s no going back. Try as your neighbours might to do everything as before, but just with a facemask on and clean hands, it isn’t going to work. Too many of us are jobless – I was until very recently with the teaching job – unable to feed into a system based on capital that has been hoarded by the scaley Smaug’s we allow to govern us. There is no normal anymore. And anyone (British folks, I’m looking at you) who just wants everything to revert back to finishing work, coming home, putting your feet up and rinsing and repeating every fucking night, it isn’t going to happen. It can’t happen. As I said, the fallacy of the system is phallic. We do need to tear down the statues, defund the authorities, redistribute wealth (if we choose a form of capitalism) and stop holding the mic for morons. Action is needed. An easy life can’t be had, try as your comfort and boredom might. As a writer, I’ll write. As a fighter, I’ll fight. As a teacher, I’ll right. But I need a whole civilisation of people willing to do the same as I’m shit at everything else – seriously, I don’t know if I’m given the right change and I can’t put a bookshelf up correctly. Broken things aren’t losses, they’re lessons. And if they can’t or shouldn’t be mended, we can get creative together and start designing anew.

Continue Reading

Creative Writing

“Always Orbed”

Published

on

“Always Orbed”

Sitting in my chair,
I gaze upon the sky.
She’s scarred and yellow
Like the whites of my eyes.

I’m pondering the thought
Deep, down inside,
Yet, no answers are found
To turn the tide.

I’m getting stiff,
My eyes are dry.
The world is waiting
Yet, should I try?

I feel her power,
As the thunder cracks again
And finally realize,
That to try is sane.

It’s a world we live in,
Of chaos and mistrust.
I have the friends,
Relationships through lust.

My heart is bleeding,
I need some sign.
To show me how,
To regain my mind.

I do one thing,
And my friends do another.
I immediately switch,
So that they can call me brother.

The world, she’s turning,
The planets, they’re revolving.
I can’t quench my yearning,
Why are we de-evolving?

Originally written: July 8, 2002

Continue Reading

Creative Writing

“Quiet Man in a Loud World”

Published

on

There is something to be said about someone who does not say much.  It could mean that a person is a complete fool and has nothing at all to say, or that he is an extremely intelligent and pensive man who only speaks when he knows something needs to be said. It’s a true yet sad fact that far too many people talk without thinking or listen without hearing, and I am sure that many of us have met people such as these.

Grandpa, I am not sure whether your silence was a gradual thing or if you were always like this, but it is an excellent quality to have or to have gained. Why say something when it does not need to be said? Why bother to hurt someone’s feelings when one’s mouth could have remained shut? People such as these (unfortunately there are too many of them) do not even realize what they are saying or who they themselves are.

So, continue to enjoy your time in silence and surround yourself in deep thought, for this simple procedure makes time slow to a crawl, keeps unpleasant people and feelings at bay, and makes life linger a whole lot longer.

Written: September 19, 2001

Continue Reading

Trending