Arguements with a personal twist.

Mittens Romney. Barrack Hussein Obama. What do these very politically charged “nicknames” have in common?  They are the constant recipients of personal attacks of every kind. Nothing seems to be off-limits these days for any political candidates, as Sarah Palin’s family found out the hard way.  The question that we must ask ourselves is, “Why do engage in these nasty portrayals of people’s character?”

Strong disagreements will always occur, but what matters about political positions are the ideas behind them, not specifically the people advocating them.  In today’s culture it seems we are dedicated to winning any debate, regardless of the casualties left behind.  You may be able to “win” the argument on a forum, in a conversation, ect, but the person you debated may be even more firmly entrenched in what they thought because of the conduct of the conversation.  Ideas have consequences, but the ways in which those ideas are endorsed, proposed, and manifested have consequences as well.

I personally tire of hearing rather personally charged attacks on Romney and Obama. If you disagree with them and those supporters behind them, which I do as well, discuss the reasons for your disagreement.  Insults like Liberal Whackjob, Bible Thumping Fundementalist, Liberal Nutjob, Ignorant Bigots, ect do nothing to make one’s argument and his or ideas more valid, rather they simply make the issues more polarizing to discuss then before. This is why it so hard to talk about controversial issues and ideas in today’s culture because everyone is afraid they will be branded and their reputations ruined. Calling someone a racist or an ignorant bigot today has rather disturbing consequences concerning how someone may be treated by society.

I reject the notion that people are ignorant. Instead I propose that people have reasons for how they think. Don’t bother with name calling, personal attacks, ect; get to their base presuppositions. Racists are racists because of their core ideas, the experiences that they have had, and the condition of their hearts. (And who knows how many additional factors…) Legislation can never change that. What can change that is the communities and families around them and conversing with those around them who have very different worldviews.

We need to get opposing worldviews and ideas into the open, not relegate them to the shadows. Someone may be afraid to discuss their thoughts and ideas openly, but this simply ensures that they will continue to retain those said thoughts and ideas. State what you believe and discuss your ideas with others who challenge them, regardless of whatever those ideas are and how politically incorrect, offensive, and shocking they may be.   In otherwords, show some real tolerance. 

As I Lay Dying rises to greater heights with “Awakened”

William Faulkner continues to strike from the grave. Not by any recent literature releases or people still enjoying his works, but rather by a metal band that is named after his famous book, As I Lay Dying.

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It appears As I Lay Dying may have released their best album yet to date, something that may incur the wrath of hardcore fans who rightfully point to the masterpiece that is Frail Words Collapse.  I primarily have made the above rash assertion because this album actually seems to improve upon what As I Lay Dying has done so well for over 10 years; making metal that is brutal, beautiful, catchy, technical, lyrically rich, and pit/mosh worthy for all ages. Oh and one last thing; Josh Gilbert.

Awakened features what I believe to be greatly improved vocals by their basist Josh Gilbert, whose voice (cleans) on previous records was still rather effectively used. It appears his pop-punk sideproject, Year One, may have improved his vocal abilities and brought them to the next level.

If anyone is familiar with metal-core and metal in general within the last few years, they are aware of the rather abundant amount of clean vocals employed by vocalists who  seem to sing at tenors so high that only dogs can hear them.  Notable bands who we can throw loosely in the metal genre that employ such vocals include I See Stars, Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, We Came As Romans, The Devil Wears Prada (Who I like very much.), Blessthefall, For The Fallen Dreams, For All Those Sleeping, I The Breather, It Prevails, ect. Even Spencer from Periphery falls into this category, though he can actually sing.  And, no, I am not ashamed that included Blessthefall, but I digress.

 

Well whatever happened to sounding like a man? Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Bury Tommorrow, All That Remains, and even new Attack Attack seem to have been able to pull it off.  Josh Gilbert, however, has made proven with his excellent clean vocals that not only is As I Lay Dying in this category, but that they are in the top of the pack even if they aren’t as raspy as Scot Stapps. (Shudder.) Luckily for us, AILD are rather talented musicians and have been able to ensure that Josh’s cleans actually fit well into each song that they are utilized so that it stands out, but doesn’t detract from the heaviness of the songs.

In the first song on the album, Cauterize, we see AILD brilliance at work in an over-saturated and breakdown dominated metal-core genre. As soon as I heard the breakdown in the song followed by a rather astonishing solo, I realized the album would be headed for even greater heights. Did I mention that I almost always hate solos? Color me deeply impressed.

After getting my hands on the leak and having listened to the album three times through, I’ve realized there isn’t a single song on Awakened that is weak; its everything I’ve always expected of As I Lay Dying and more. It has every necessary ingredient: emotion, lyrical beauty, well composed songs, powerful screaming, excellent and effectively placed clean vocals, technical riffs that don’t bore you, and a bit of a new feel that works perfectly.  Is this their best work yet? Only time and repeat playing of this album will tell.

– I’m still shocked by how much this album has and is impressing me. This hasn’t happened with metal as of late for myself.

Statism and the “Mandate”

At about 5 AM with my brain still awake  and tweaking from the effects of a monster and coffee, I was further stimulated the welcoming cold air of my store’s frozen section which I had been asked to help “face”.   It was around this time that I got into a conversation with one of my co-workers about those exciting topics like the election, what and why the presidents actions have occurred, and the the question as to what is a “liberal”.   Well “liberal” means so many different things depending on your ideology, so we ended up discussing this much more in-depth.

Well the subject of the healthcare bill and its mandate came up and my coworker said something like this; “I like the mandate.” It was at just about this point that the conversation wasn’t able to continue much further due to a commotion at the other store which turned out to be someone having a heart attack in another department.

The quick statement made about the “mandate” made some thoughts run through my head during the rest of the morning, my ride home, and even now. Subsquently, my mind has been besieged my a domino effect of thoughts.

If a mandate for national healthcare is something to be advocated, then what other topics, issues, ect are mandates acceptable to advocate for?  One is forced to pick and choose what laws will mandate and what they won’t. Most progressives/liberals today will insist that morality, if it is religious in nature, should never be legislated. (That doesn’t make sense.) However, the nature of law itself is enforcing morality on the general public. Well, why choose this? Apparently the notion that healthcare is a human right is one of the prevailing reasons for the advocacy of this.  The question then arises: What is a human right? Who determines human rights? Where do they come from? Can we vote something into being a “human right”?

One thought that particularly interests me is in what both political parties would support/advocate when it comes to mandates. Depending on the issue one will insist something should be mandated and the other that it should not, usually regarding the social issues.  Another question to consider: Would a mandate banning abortion be appropriate, as many conservatives would insist that it is? Progressives would insist that it is not. However, they’ve continually opened that door when they advocated for a healthcare mandate.

The fact that we are so willing to mandate anything today in our society, specifically on a national scale indicates how much we’ve all become advocates of centralized power.  To put it more bluntly and efficiently; statism.  How could this have happened? It appears we’ve all bought into the notion that not only do we know what is best for people, we own them to a certain degree.

 

Saturday, June …

As you all know, Saturday, June 2nd, was a day/night filled with short tempers, angry words, and the eventual fights that broke out that brought out the Gurnee police at the Gurnee VFW.  This has hopefully cooled down a bit after over a month of trying to refrain from contributing to the drama. However, the facts and the implications of what happened need to be relayed to the rest of the scene. This kind of nonsense has not been forgotten, nor should it be.  Beware, I’m about to rant.

The best part about this fiasco was that everything that went down Saturday took place at kids benefit show right during which the Mayor of Gurnee was present.  So a few broken tables later, bloody faces and bodies from unnecessary fights, and a complete lack of respect for everyone involved, all of us “hardcore” kids and otherwise all seem like unruly brutal hedonistic selfish hooligans that “Don’t give a shit.”  The drama really still hasn’t stopped, regardless of efforts to do exactly that.

I feel quite bad for the people who set up the show, most specifically Jonathan Schiffley.  Elysion Fields who waited there the whole day to play didn’t get to play, due to the fights breaking out before their set.

Simply put, the fight(s) should never happened. What happened to Mikel, should never have happened. However, it did happen. These fights at shows continue to be provoked, to almost occur, or to actually occur and end up stopping the show and depriving bands like Elysion Fields from being able to play that night. Testosterone was running quite high though. Apparently, so was some of the estrogen levels as there were one or two girls who threw a punch, though this was supposedly a misunderstanding. No idea what the truth is there though.

This is so hardcore!

The question we need to ask ourselves is: What is causing these fights? Immaturity? People’s desire to look tough and badass in front of their friends? Apparently, it’s possible for people to regress, specifically when feeling very mighty with fellow comrades in arms. Seriously, this mini-gang mentality has seemed to leak into every aspect of society and culture in some sort of desperate endless dance for community. I guess our “hardcore” community is no exception to this.

We really don’t have much of any “community” in Lake County, nor the surrounding area. The excuse for community that does exist seems to be limited to a few of the crews, who insist that they aren’t crews. It’s a great joke, but the fact that these crews end up beating down people with frequent 5 to 1 odd simply isn’t funny anymore.  If anyone gathers the balls to say anything to them, pushes them away, or try to fight back/say something after getting crowdkilled, they are subjected to being “defended” against by these crews .

That’s obviously not “friends defending each other”, as someone on facebook tried to insist, rather its an un-motley crew  intimidating , beating, and bringing a Taste of Chicago/Wisconsin State Fair to anyone who dares to do anything after getting hatemoshed during the duration of a show. (Yet another example of failure by our public school system.  Curse you John Dewey and your social norms for society.) Who knows, maybe we can introduce flash mobs of brutality to the scene to bring it to the next level.

What is attracting crews to shows? It’s no coincidence that they come out to “mosh” when bands such as The Acacia Strain, Emmure, and even Whitechapel are playing. It really shouldn’t really surprise anyone that the crews do come out and essentially viciously attack people in the pit when that behavior isn’t only just vocally encouraged by the bands there, but is prevalent in their lyrics.  Granted the fore-mentioned bands aren’t really hardcore, but they attract avid “hardcore” kids and crews to their shows consistently.

Is this really what our hardcore scene is about?  This of course assumes that we have one, which I’m not sure is a completely accurate conclusion. Most of the “hardcore” we have isn’t really hardcore, but rather a bunch of bands chugging along with some 2-step riffs, beatdown yells, and some random breakdowns thrown in there for pit calls. I reject that notion, by the way.

We should still ask ourselves; what is hardcore in Lake County about? Jesse Barnett from Stick To Your Guns has asked this same question:

“What is hardcore? I need someone to clear it up for me. Because I thought it was a community where every walk of life who felt alone, broken, and shattered could come and feel accepted. I thought it was less about the band name on your shirt and more about loving the music. Less about what comes out of your mouth and more about what you do. Not giving a fuck about what people think and doing what you know to be right in your heart. Yeah, breakdowns are cool but hardcore is about way more than that, so get your shit straight.”

The biggest problem facing our  “hardcore” and now defunct scene is a lack of respect. The lack of respect for each other, others, the venue, ect.  This lack of respect is quite obvious to those around Lake County, as the number of venues who hear the word “hardcore” cringe and refuse to allow hardcore bands or fans near their expensive establishments.  If we are lucky, they hire bruiser security guards who take no mercy in providing security who avidly execute their job description in the form of headlocks. Those of you who remember Clearwater should have fond memories of the bruisers a.k.a  rather large security guards in that venues employment.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wWM3x5fGGY]

It’s hard to specifically call out anyone for what happened at Saturday’s show, because of something my best friend, Tim Sheridan of Widower pointed out, “If your at a hardcore show, expect to get hit.”  To a large extent, that statement is true. Now to what degree is that true?

At a lot of hardcore shows in the area, Lake County included, I’ve seen a very certain group of kids, or rather now adults, show up and consistently crowdkill and hatemosh those around them, specifically those not in the pit. It’s not as if there is no pit space at the shows, rather quite often there is a ton of it. But many seem to choose to simply veer off/crash into the crowd on the far outskirts of the pit when they throw down so they can hit someone. Steve Mrozek put that kind of feeling and adrenaline quite accurately at a Monsters/Oceano show years ago, “I just want to hit someone.”

When one goes into the pit, they can expect just that;  to be hit. Usually people will just shrug off getting hit and keep going.  There are then those on the sidelines, in front, in back essentially – not near the pit, who get hit and get pissed about it. Is their feeling, attitude, and reactions regarding getting hit while not being in the pit justified? I would suggest that it is.  The issue here isn’t that people are getting mad about getting hit in the pit, in fact far from it.  It’s rather the people getting upset when you stand in the back of the room and take a windmill to the face.

There seem to be two lines of thought regarding specifically hardcore shows:

1. The whole floor is essentially a pit, and you should expect to get hit, crowdkilled, hatemoshed, ect. regardless of where you are.

2. The pit is where you throw down and get your aggression out, not the crowd nearby. Crowdkilling should never happen, and neither should hate moshing.

The pit, at least in Lake County has in some ways become a place where you can legally badly hurt someone, quite deliberately, and get away with it. When does passion, energy, and aggressive actions – hardcore dancing, throwing down, whatever –  cross over into deliberately trying to break someone’s face?

Now, I’m sure everyone has “hatemoshed” at one point or another, especially in this scene. I was guilty of it last year and Warped Tour where I spent a majority of the day in an angry and pissed mood, but that’s no excuse. In the words of Jock from Finding Nemo, “I am ashamed.”

I’m sure some of you know Anthony Hauser, who remains one of the nicest and respectful moshers I know. No, don’t laugh. Respect in this scene? SHOCKING! I was chatting with him a few weeks back about what happened on Saturday and he wisely pointed something out:

“Stuff like that doesn’t need to happen. I’ve been to ‘real’ hardcore shows and the shit they say happens only happens if the band is encouraging it like assholes. I’ve been to new york hardcore shows where it’s ‘violent’. Yea, they mosh hard but its never a 10 one 1 situation. If people had beef they left the venue and solved it. They at least respected the place.”

Considering the 6 on 1 “fight” that occurred Saturday, there wasn’t much respect of any kind, specifically for the people there or the venue.  Now here is a VERY  radical notion; maybe it’s time for bands to condemn this kind of crap that happens during their set. Until some of them grow the balls to do that, I will simply have to avoid going to shows where this kind of behavior is continually encouraged. I guess that means I won’t be seeing any shows where Sworn In, Barrier, ect. are playing.  Perhaps its time to bring some actual hardcore and some metal back to our scene.  It would be nice after all to mosh and not fear being deliberately hurt when you have to wake up for work the next day.

I plan on going to the Milwaukee Warped Tour on August 1st, and I expect to see kids with Kingmaker, Sworn In, Terror, ect shirts doing what “they do.” So if any of those kids really want to take a shot at me, feel free. I plan on throwing down for The Ghost Inside regardless of what happens, but don’t worry, I don’t fight back, I simply run away and avoid possible legal repercussions that face grown adults in the real world.

School sexual harrasment policy harrases six year old.

I saw this rather amusing, yet disturbing article from the Washington Post a week back on Drudge concerning the supposed sexual harassment of one student by a fellow student who is six years old. That’s right, six years old. What exactly did he do? Nothing. It’s what he said to his fellow female student.

“I’m sexy and I know it.” quoting a line from that pop/hip hop sensation LMFAO. The schools policy regarding lyrics such as these expressed at school is quite rigid.

School officials issued a statement saying they couldn’t discuss the case, but they pointed out a school board policy that defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance. There is no age limit.

From my perspective, this is quite interesting. Philosophically or at least specifically in the matter of jurisprudence, I strive to be a kind of “All or none of the above guy” concerning actions and speech.  However, this isn’t a legal matter where exceptions make for bad law. School policy with no flexibility where six year olds are concerned is disturbing.

Ideas on school policy always have unintended and unforeseen consequences.

What does this tell us about the relationship between modern culture and the middle-school and younger children? Apparently, they are now quite aware of what sex is at their age, as well as what constitutes sexual harassment. No tolerance policy means no tolerance.  Even though the school is obviously going to need to take another, much closer look at their sexual harassment policies, they probably aren’t too off in setting policy that will be effective for the future.  Just imagine the lawsuits that are about to take place concerning every possible angle of this policy, sexual harassment in general, and the money certain lawyers are about to make.

Believe it or not, young kids these days, and I’m talking about your 7-10 year olds have a pretty good idea of what “sex is” thanks to our over-sexed culture. The self-proclaimed 7 year old on 4chan isn’t too far from gaining a very deep understand of the concept of sex, and I’m pretty sure the 10 year old on xbox live threatening to doggystyle my mom after a loss in Modern Warfare 3 has a pretty good idea about the topic now.  I used to think they were just spouting insults they had heard, but more and more, the innocent nature you want to believe is there has been forcibly perverted. I’m personally going to blame Glee for this growing epedemic, but there’s plenty of blame to go around.

South Park has yet again called this issue way in advance with the most effective and humorous commentary about “sexual harassment” in schools. In fact, they called this over 10 years ago. Witty, raunchy, over-the-top, but the points made are note worthy.

Seriously, why it is so hard to distinguish between actual sexual harassment and a six year old who doesn’t know what sex is? The waste of tax-payer dollars both through lawsuits and misspent “education” budgets, rash and under-thought policies by school boards, and reputation/avoidance of bad publicity isn’t just going to plague our schools in the near future, it’s going to scar kids like we never could have anticipated.

Instead of calling for some sort of regulatory or further oversight from some educational Czar, we need to encourage accountability in a much more important and close fashion.  The only real solution is for communities to come together and address these issues themselves. Perhaps stories like this, and the numerous that will undoubtedly occur will cause school boards and their perspective teacher’s unions to finally realize the impact of not letting parents have a substantial say in determining their own schools policy.  It seems only a matter of common sense that if you are paying tax dollars into a district, you should at least have a say in the policy and in how those funds are spent.  Radical, huh?

Franziskaner: A good beer for real men.

It was by accident that I discovered one of the best beers I’ve ever had.  A month back, I as at the Bay Billiards in Fox Lake to watch the UFC fights, and I was in the mood for something that wouldn’t taste like it came in a 12 pack for 6$.  I noticed several beers on tap, saw what looked like a monk on the handle, and at the suggestion of the barkeep, I tried a glass of  Franziskaner. I took several sips of it, savored the flavor, and had to ask him a few times what it was called again.

What does it taste like? Well it tastes a bit like Hacker-Pschorr, except a bit sweeter, smoother, and has a kind of “full” feel to it. Don’t worry about the sweet taste though. It is what makes Franziskaner have such a smooth aftertaste.

I’ve had the fortune of bringing a 12 pack of this to a few different places, and it’s been met by the same impressed looks every time. The only problem I seem to run into is that only the Lake Villa Liquors seems to actually sell 12 packs of it.  My work, Marianos, sells 6 packs of it, or a build your own six pack for about 9$ with a large selection of beers to pick from in case you just want to get one bottle of it to sample.

It’s a real treat on tap though. So if you’re in the Fox Lake area, God forbid, stop by the Bay Billiards and get a glass of it. You won’t be disappointed; you will be astounded.

Another plus for me personally is the manly vibe I feel after taking a swig of one of these, something that is always important for the self-esteem, especially after listening to one of my many guilty pleasures, Vanessa Carlton. I don’t always drink good imports that cost 5$ for a glass, but when I do, I prefer Franziskaner,

Hard Working Homeless Teenager overcomes subpar Long Island education.

Samantha Garvey, a 17 year old senior in Long Island, became a semi-finalist in what is apparently the “highly prestigious Intel Science Competition”.  I’ve never heard of it before, and I’m sure a lot of us simpletons and ignorant libertarian buffoons haven’t, but apparently it’s a big deal in the science community.

The most important part of this story is that she is homeless, or to be more matter-of-fact, lives in a homeless shelter with her family.  That’s right, a homeless shelter. This story which broke on Friday feels like it is something out of Touched By An Angel. This tearjerker, and rightfully so, is a high-point and something to be fondly remembered, just like the Packers unexpected and welcome loss in the playoffs.

Samantha Garvey and her father at Brentwood High School –
Brentwood, NY – Jan 12, 2012 (credit: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880)

Let’s however give credit where credit is due, and I’m sure almost none of that credit really belongs to the school system in Long Island. Most schools across the country aren’t lucky/blessed/fortunate enough to  have the “Freedom Writers” experience happen.  In that movie, the kids actually decided to try to further their education, which as we know, is more often than not the case anymore. Why?

 Broken families across the country that haven’t managed to instill into their children the concept of just how important a good education is to their futures, and I’m not just talking about nearby Waukegan. Instead our parents are desperately trying to work with their promising youth of tomorrow who can barely read and spend their time cussing 12 year olds on Xbox live, developing early drug habits and slacker tendencies, and becoming media addicts who think tweeting about Glee is the most important part of their life as well as everyone elses.  I guess substituting An Inconvenient Truth for actual grammar lessons in English class just isn’t cutting it.

 This all being said, one very important point needs to be acknowledged; it is the students who ultimately determine their own success. Consider the rather lackluster amount of competent students being pumped out by their assembly lines a.k.a schools who aren’t ready or able to compete for a job against the 50 year old’s now working minimum wage positions, and count your blessings. Hard work with even just a bare amount of skill and talent may be enough to outshine the “socially conscious and aware” students that have been fed a steady dose of, “We’re all winners.”  I suppose losing horrendously at Modern Warfare 3 to their fellow trashtalking ADD ridden pupils should easily dissuade them from that nonsense. Kid’s can be cruel after all,  and the trash-talking in Modern Warfare 3 isn’t a far cry away from becoming a digital version of Lord Of the Flies.

Surprisingly, this story clearly demonstrates that hard work, being studiousperseverance, and devotion to one’s education, are useful and plausible tools to pull one up by their bootstraps. How improbable! Her 3.9 GPA proves her diligence which has now given her the opportunity to possibly win a prize of over 100,000$  Stories like this are what America used to be about, but more and more are becoming an unfortunate rarity in a society dominated by phrases like, “You have too much money!”, “Mine!”,  and “I deserve this, it’s my right!.”  Sowing the seeds of nasty notion of entitlement in our youngsters is bound to have ugly consequences, but proper education is apparently just that.

We don’t see enough Samantha Garveys these days. Why? Because the very notion of hard work has become a bad joke. In all fairness, a society which consistently rewards the lazy and punishes the hardworking, takes away most of the incentive to even bother to try, yet we wonder why entrepreneurship seems to be a thing of the past.

While this story is heartwarming, we shouldn’t forget the reality of the events that have produced this kind of situation; It seems twisted financial priorities are a common occurrence nowadays and “accountability” is a very dirty word. I know we’d all love to see many more Samantha Garveys, but I wonder just how realistic that hope may be. Consider the politicized minefield that public education and education reform has unfortunately become. Until we address the fact that our money seems to end up going into the pockets of teacher’s union bureaucrats and politicians, instead of to the schools, students, and teachers themselves, stories like this won’t continue to occur. What will continue is stories about bad teachers receiving six digit figure salaries, even after being convicted of sexual mischief with their students.

Millions upon millions of misspent foreign aid dollars may perhaps buy the goodwill of other countries who already hate us due to our imperialistic tendencies, while our homeless starve and the nations’s poorest schools become havens for drug trafficking, gangs, and corruption.  On the domino effect of thought that my reflection of this article has taken me on, one thing still remains clear; we must break the bureaucratic nature of the teacher’s union and remind them that their duty is to teach rather then to lobby.

While this inconvenient truth may wear down our desire to make something of ourselves, just remember, success is still there for the taking. All you have to do is give it your all and dress like you want the job, instead of talking in ghetto speak with your pants hanging down to your knees.

Occupy Wallstreet Chicago: My experience and analysis.

When you have to run to the bathroom in desperation and see a toilet with plastic rim coverings surrounded by stains all around you that look like someone either died, or experienced massive bladder problems and misdirection, you know you are in Union Station.   For many reasons, including time and money never well spent, I hate Chicago. When I finally figured out that not only had I walked the wrong way, I had taken the wrong street, and I wasn’t on Jackson.  After about two hours of walking around and making it look like I had a purpose with my direct and forceful steps, I followed the drum beats and finally found the corner of Jackson and LaSalle.

I arrived in the eager expectation that I would see something controversial happen. I was hoping for yelling, screaming, shouting, lots of fist pumping and shaking, blood,  and shocked Kent State looks on people’s faces.  What can I say? I was hoping for a little bit of entertainment, because I wasn’t expecting 6 or 7 hours of protesting to not bore me.  (I’ll admit it, I love controversy. It is one of the most entertaining concepts out there.) Protests are supposed to be a place where you can feel the energy in the air.  It’s almost a kind of substitute for the concert atmosphere, except all the wannabe hippie hipsters there wouldn’t like the idea of a hardcore moshpit.  Someone there told me there that moshpits were the creation of capitalists and the corporate machine, no joke. There were some “hippies” there to the point that it was almost like a scene straight out of Southpark  with the college know-it-all hippies.

First off, I’m surprised there hasn’t been any cases of serious “nerd-rage” out, about, and around the corner of Jackson and LaSalle. I’m shocked that nearby residents haven’t mugged the protesters banging on drums throughout the night. Since I suck at breaking the ice and initiating conversation, it probably took me 15 minutes to talk to some of the scrunched up faces there.

People were angry. Even if they weren’t, they made sure to look at it. Some didn’t even know why they were angry, but it feels to good to smash on a drum, call attention to the protest and occasionally get reaffirming honks of support or middle fingers from nearby vehicles. Someone was going to pay.

When the Fox News folks showed up with their cameras, they were one of the first to pay. Some protesters near me made sure to drop plenty of F-bombs directed at them and two of them even jumped up and down with middle fingers extended in view of the camera.  I guess there’s nothing like making a direct impression to the rest of the country watching about what kind of maturity level we are all at.   Furthermore, it isn’t just Fox that deliberately misleads, its MSNBC, ABC, and CNN as well. It’s too bad that some people there had bought into the progressive nonsense that targets just the network they don’t like, rather then the networks who frame the news in a way favorable to the progressive agenda.

For all intensive purposes, the protesters were “trolled” hard the previous week.  Even I’ll admit, those fliers that flew down with the words,” We are the 1%” were a badass idea.  Well, when I got out my sign, I did get a bit of a “What are you doing here look?” from a few people, but that did go away shortly. What initially surprised me was the amount of media attention of all sorts to the protest which maybe had a 100 people there tops when I first arrived at the scene. I had the original perception that the protest was alot bigger.  Its a bit odd considering alot of people thought the movement was either being ignored by the mainstream media or being hyped up and exaggerated by it.

The occupy movement is what people have made it out to be; a smorgasbord of people from varying political and philosophical ideologies who had gathered to protest the power that Wallstreet and the Financial sector have over our government and economy.  Now this movement really is made up of alot of different viewpoints and ideology all across the spectrum. This is one overall picture of the movement that has been accurately portrayed. There were angry die-hard anarchists, socialists, libertarians, independents, people who protest everything, ect. essentially a lot of angry people who have have every right to be.

There were also signs like “Chicago Teachers Unions Supports Occupy” and “LGBT for the 99%”.  I can only hope they don’t hijack the movement and turn into attempted political action and talking points. (Jesse Jackson showed up one night himself. That media hogging racist…) After talking to a lot of people there, particularly interesting to me was the surprising variety of groups there – everything ranging from radical Marxists progressives to independents and Ron Paul libertarians like myself.

Now the protesting situation in general there reminded me of Pokemon. You initially didn’t know much about it, but everyone else thought it was cool as hell and either had the trading card game, Red or Blue version for the gameboy, or had really creepy plush toys of Pikachu in their room. Either way who didn’t want to catch them all? No one wanted to be left behind who has something to protest about.

This movement is somewhat similar, thought not everyone there falls into that generalization. There are some people who really know why they are there. What particular irks me about this is that these people seem to be largely ignored by the mainstream media, especially Fox which has potrayed the overall amount of protesters as dumb-asses, which is far from the truth.  There were however people who just showed up because “protesting is cool”,  people who wanted to be apart of something, and the people there to make some noise with an almost ADHD like fury because they ” can”.

During some of the “educational” sit-downs that occurred throughout Saturday, I noticed that disagreement among protesters there was widespread.  There was however agreement on the problem: The current economic problem, and who has benefited from it.  What did however remain up in the air, was any kind of real agreement on how to fix the problem, the root causes that have led up to it, and how to turn the movement into a political force, something the neo-con elements of the Tea Party were able to do with the movement.   Do be assured though, almost everyone of the protesters there wanted to end the Fed. (That’s most certainly a good sign.)

My initial perception concerning the movement still remains -There will be some major problems on the horizon concerning the ability to turn into a political force. Doing that could however cost the movement supporters, as its overall lack of direct organization and leadership is what constitutes part of its strength. Because of this it really does feel like a movement involving everyone under the sun from the overall populace. The moment it does gain an overall face, the movement will probably split off into different directions.

I personally showed up with a lot of disagreements with the more Marxist and progressive elements in the crowd which keep emanating out the woodwork- they literally had a donation box there. I did however have one thing in mind when I did come down; to show my support for those who recognize the current situation and problem in the country right now. It was my effort to show some solidarity.  I am however very worried that this movement will be hijacked by the progressive elements who will most certainly turn into another supposed” grassroots” support group for the Democrat party.  I do plan on going down again to protest, and this time, I’m going to take tons of pictures.

Note the “Progressive Stack” wasn’t implemented, which surprised me considering this is Chicago.

Anyway, around maybe 2 PM or so in the afternoon, if I remember correctly, we engaged in a sitdown across the street where the supposed leaders of the movement there made announcements. Some supposed “leaders” made announcements of various sorts, and they proudly  introduced some sort of old African American speaker, an Civil Rights ex-icon of sorts who had been in some competition and situation involving the Olympics down in Mexico during the civil rights movement. No one including me, had heard of him, so they the introduction took a few minutes.  Seriously, where these people who we are supposed to have some sort of respect for come from?

This ex-icon fellow went on a rant that included a fair amount of hostility toward the “right wing” and encouraged us in our protests and told us just how awesome Obama was, to keep supporting him, and to hate the evil republicans and the evil “right wing” who were blocking the great leader at every turn. He made sure to mention that all the resistance toward the president was because he was black. I kind of turned off my attention after he got to this point, as I’m sick of people looking at his race, first and foremost, instead of his policies and positions.

I thought to myself, “Great, just what the movement needs. More political pandering, divisive speech, and plenty of hate.”   The word itself is losing the kind of connotation it used to hold because of the frequency of which people are misusing it. You can now just throw it around when you can’t actually point holes in someones position, so you just tell them they are a hater, and that their argument/position is now therefore invalid. It’s almost like the race card.

I just kept my mouth closed, stared on at him, and proudly stuck out my chest with my anti-Obama t-shirt on that I was wearing. That shirt turned a lot of heads. I made sure to wink at the heads that were girls that I thought were hot, even giving courtesy smiles and a wink here and there to the hippie like ones who hadn’t bathed in days.   I did receive some compliments from some of the protesters on the shirt though, including one who informed me that he regretted voting for Obama back in 08.  I even saw some signs demonizing Obama for not giving out enough handouts. The poor guy can’t win can he?

This speaker in  particular irritated me, now that I think more about it.  I love how some ideologues are so far in the progressive’s and democrat’s pocket that they can’t think for themselves and differentiate between the neo-cons and libertarians in the supposed right wing. I noticed he had absolutely nothing bad to say about the President who he portrayed as a messiah that we are all supposed to love, cherish, and respect.  Maybe he should look further at the president then the fact that he is black.  (Obama isn’t even black, just supposed civil rights advocates still have assumptions that are drenched in the racist principles of the “One drop of black blood rule.”)

Furthermore when did libertarians get thrown in with the right wing? Got to love how your political opponents can simply change the definition, demonize you, and throw you into some political wing.  There are a lot of similarities between Dennis Kuccinich and Ron Paul. Its called an advocacy and support of the principles of liberty. But since people still can only look at things through party lenses, they get thrown into the perspective jokes of the two party system we currently have.

Later on around 5PM, the crowd of protesters seemed to quadruple to the point where it was hard to move back and forth on the sidewalks. Almost out of no-where, I noticed a set of large loud speakers which had the consistent phrase of “Tax The RICH!” barking from them.  This seemed to be the agreed upon solution to the our current problem by the protesters who had control of the speakers.

“Tax, tax, tax the rich!”  When a question was asked on the loudspeaker, this was always the response. World hunger? Tax the rich. Baby crying? Tax the rich. Girlfriend broke up with you after you only just “made out with that girl”? Tax the damn rich. It was as monotonous and bland as listening to Jet Li talk in Kiss Of The Dragon.  It unfortunately made everyone there look they were a bunch of highschool kids protesting their schools recent new policies on bumping and grinding during prom dances. The calls for “Less Cuts, and more taxes!” seemed foolish, considering it seems half-assed to only demand taxes on the rich, while ignoring the obvious implications of a bloated and abused welfare state.  It just goes to remind us of how easy it is to whip up people into a frenzy where they say things they really haven’t thought about, but just go along with whoever’s shouting at the time.

Yes, the banks have robbed us blind. Occupy Wallstreet Chicago

Something that comes to mind from this repetitive slogan/mind-numbing chant is the lack of common sense. The more you take from people, the less they have to invest in the products, services, hiring new/additional labor – the market. Politicians just don’t pass tax-cuts to look cool and stand out as a “man of the people”, they shockingly realize that usually cutting taxes spurs on consumer spending, thus benefiting everyone else in turn. It does however matter significantly of what kind of taxes they are cutting, whose taxes they are cutting, and who is eligible for said tax cuts.  The current system seems to endorse specific tax cuts for  corporations, banks, certain sectors and businesses in the industry that have made the right campaign contributions, ect.   It is of course crony capitalism at it’s finest.   The banks did rob us blind. They used the government to do it.

There were oh so many signs criticizing capitalism as if it was a concept from hell itself. I in particular couldn’t understand what was with all the signs hating on capitalism. This indicated that the majority of the protesters haven’t the slightest semblance of what true capitalism actually is.  Crony capitalism and actual capitalism are very different things.

Greed does suck, but what sucks more is embracing the polar opposite which would put the power into the hands of a very few select greedy people.  Human nature is very very greedy.  True capitalism understands this and uses peoples greedy natures to exploit each other and create competition that directly benefits everyone, specifically the lower class.

Many protesters however did realize that corporations have vast influence and power in the political process and legislative action.  They just fail to recognize true capitalism vs. the fake system of capitalism we have now.

Unfortunately the protesters are yet again succumbing to encouraging politicians to legislate insane economic policy for the sake of political pandering.  Remember, politicians will do anything to get your vote, and its going to end up spiraling to the point when Peter will be all of us, and Paul will be those who made the most donations to their campaign.

One conversation in particular, I remember well. It was with a public school teacher.  He was probably the only person there which I initially was turned off by. During this particular conversation, I remember, marching toward Grant Park and talking with a teacher in Chicago who kept trying to trap me in my words with a hidden amount of hostility behind his questions and answers, which I did resent.   He dropped those words like “them” so much that I realized he essentially bought into that bogus democrat ideology of “the other side are evil.”

I kept thinking to myself, “Really?” as he lashed out at the other side for everything you could imagine.  Once I told him that I was interested in dialogue with him, rather then debate of any sort, the conversation became much more cordial.  I wanted him to realize that I wasn’t talking to him to point out that he was wrong in anyway, just that I was asking questions, Cartman style, to see if had thoughts things out and followed them to their logical conclusion instead of subscribing to party talking points.

I did however have an awesome conversation with a dude in Guy Fawkes mask. (Anyonmous FTW) who understood just how important freedom of speech is. He also understood something most don’t; the difference between equality and liberty and just how important liberty is.

Now, to a certain extent, alot of people there seemed to be asking for a handout.  The most frequent request was for money of some sort, something I can Understand.  There was one fellow there who kept insisting we should fork over money for batteries for his megaphone.  “I need batteries. Someone should get me some.” It’s hard to really want to provide someone with batteries when they shout out unintelligible things with their megaphone in your general direction.

If anyone feels like going down to protest in Chicago and freezing their asses off, I’ve come up with a list of pro-tips:

– Make sure to bring a camera with you. A nice Iphone or Android phone with decent video quality that I only wished I owned will suffice.
– Cigars. Something to smoke. It feels good to be smoking around all those other people smoking. Solidarity eh? You’d be surprised by all the conversations that will be encountered by simply lighting up.
– Beverages.  Be careful about how much you drink, and I’m not just referring to beer.  There is almost no where in nearby locations where you can go to the bathroom without having to pay to use the bathroom.  Part of the blame lies with the homeless who consistently try to shower in the bathroom as you hop up and down outside holding yourself.
– Ipod or Mp3. At some points you will want to just chill and listen to music as you hold up your sign. I personally chose Legend and The Acacia Strain to make sure I kept up my angry state of mind against Wallstreet.
– Bring two coats. You’ll probably need them when it gets colder later at night.
– Go ahead and march on Grant park if that happens when you are there. Just get out before the Police start arresting people when they won’t leave the park.  Some of us couldn’t afford to get arrested and miss a day of work, but that doesn’t seem to matter to some protesters who don’t realize that some of their fellow protesters have bills and rent to pay.
– Point out the things you have in common with other protesters. There is strength to be attained in even the most vague displays of solidarity. Sure it’s hard to stomach some of the ideology that is spewed by some of the progressives there, but remember, they are there for several of the same reasons you or anyone else is.
– Ignore the temptation to be divisive because of political differences and biases and look at the overall big picture.  Engage in dialogue and conversation. Sure, people might have reasons for being there that you or I think are dumb, but they are reasons nonetheless, and we should try to understand where people are coming from, not just dismiss them.  There are people there with common sense, and they are your friends, neighbors, ect, even if they are demanding for insane governmental action that will just worsen the problem.  If you desire to point out the problem with that, just carry that line of thinking to its logical conclusion. Also, ask questions. Lots of them.
– Don’t bring too much stuff with you. It really sucks when you have to carry around two bags of stuff and have to watch it like a hawk when you set it down.

I still have a lot of reflection to do on this whole movement. Don’t dismiss it off-hand like many conservatives have done. That pompous ass Gingrich needs to learn that people there at the Occupy were looking for jobs, and weren’t all lazy protesters who wanted handouts.  Unfortunately, the extreme progressive elements appear to be hijacking the movement as I saw with some of the SJW types that were there.

I do tire of those who dismiss the movement right off the bat.

There is a lot more then meets the eye to Occupy. The only way one will learn this is to talk to and engage with the people at the Occupy Protests.  Let’s for once not pull a Herman Cain and talk to people to see why they are upset and the reasons behind them, instead of “Get a job.”  Also, lets hope that political hypocrites and fake witches like Pelosi and Obama don’t try to hijack Occupy and turn into a supposed political force for them. These people, myself included want answers, not hypocrites like Obama who take the most money from Wallstreet lobbyists in the history of any presidential campaign history, proceeds to advance their agenda, but then yet pretend to support the Occupy movement.

Big house shows are the flavor of Lake County

So, I went for the second time last Saturday to the “house” off 83 near the Walmart for not just a party this time, but a show as well with four bands playing.  A house show eh? Its going to suck right? Nope, not at all. It ended up turning into one of the best ideas for local shows I’ve seen all year.  It was so awesome in fact, that I lost my phone and most likely my dignity, because I’m positive I probably said some stupid things brought on by a somewhat inebriated stupor.  All that night, I kept going back to my car to grab the beer I had locked in there, and I am shocked that I didn’t lock my keys in the car, nor do several faceplants in the rough gravel/grass parking lot that is really hard to see in the dark.

I walked with a beer in one hand, a cigarallo in the other, and plenty of excitement as I tried to figure out how I was going to get into the garage where the music was coming from. After me and Ricardo managed to open one of the garage sliding doors, I discovered a garage that was almost three times the size of a normal garage, filled with a ton of people all having a great time.  For a free show, the sound wasn’t bad at all.  Somehow I can actually remember all the names of the four bands that played: The Cheyenne Line, Vanitas, I Made You Myself,  and Waking Giants.  This is strange, considering my memory of the night is slightly fuzzy.

After the bands played, we were going to party inside the house, so I decided to make sure to start drinking early so that the alcohol induced state would make me more likely to mosh. Well, it worked, and I went nuts, or at least I think I did.  I was also suprised by Vanitas. I liked what I heard. There was also a cover that night of a Blink-182 song. I can’t remember who did it nor which song it was, but it was awesome.

Now I went to this show with a plan to mosh. Moshing for me is always easier when you just aren’t as aware of the flying kick that is aiming toward your face. It almost feels like slow motion.  You get hit, a drunken laugh comes out of you, and you get up and keep going.  I’d like to point out that this is an accomplishment for me. Especially me.  As a small 5 foot 7 guy, I usually get knocked across the room when someone rams into me. Sometimes I imagine what taking a Steve Mrozek tackle would feel like, specifically with his bear suit on.  Who knows, the fur might cushion the hit a bit.  He still scares me in the pit though.

This is the first show that I’ve actually gone all out and thrown down since Warped Tour back in the summer. The garage got pretty crowded for the first two bands, but it died away a bit for the last two bands that played unfortunately. Still however, the energy was there in a way I haven’t seen at a local show before in a while. It felt good to be surprised.  Since when does anyone expected a garage show to be awesome and filled with energy?

 Waking Giants kicked some ass that night. For some reason, I kept doing power-jumps to them before I would throw down.  Whenever I do power-jumps of any kind, it means that I’m really feeling the energy, and that I’m going to feel the bruises tomorrow. (I can’t even remember the last time I did power-jumps at a show.)  I would have loved to taken some pictures and video of the night, but I have a crappy flip-phone which I can’t find a cable for to connect to my laptop to get the pictures and video off of it. I know some people took some pictures of the show, perhaps they will put some of them up.

I really hope to see some more shows here.  Hopefully the owners of the house will have some more shows put on, as long as house and the outside doesn’t look like Woodstock the next day. We just have to hope the cops don’t show up and a bunch of people run toward the forest in the back because of the numerous drugs their on and/or are carrying on them.

Let me emphasize it one more time: an awesome show, with a beer in your hand, and a smoke in the other, moshing to what you love, and an after party to make you forget your bruises. This doesn’t happen often in this area. So next time, come out to a free show like this, and don’t bother wasting your money at Clearwater where you will probably be roughed up by angry security wannabe bouncers.   Mark my words though, at the next show like this, I’m going to pick up change in the pit. That’s right, I’m bringing it back.

Sworn In: A Welcome Suprise to the Lake County scene.

 Originally I kind of passed these guys because someone, you know who you are, described them as Kingmaker 2.0.  That was a poor and inaccurate description as Sworn In sounds nothing like Kingmaker.

Anyway skip the first song, Catharsis and listen to it last. I frankly don’t know why they chose it to be their first track off the EP uploaded on to Facebook, but the other four songs easily make up for it.  In terms of listening carefully to their stuff, I’ve been to their shows both as Sworn In and Buried By The Ocean.  They didn’t shock me live, but then who does at The Oasis?

Some of the jazzy feeling ambient riffs are actually quite well done and well placed, which I can appreciate. You eventually tire of the “Hey, let’s throw some cool sounding ambient riffs in here so people will think we are melodic and talented, as well as extremely hardcore.”   Throw in some promotional spinkicks, middle fingers, and thumping of the chest woven attire with catchy slangs such as “Snappin’ necks and cashin’ checks”, crossed out Juggalo long-sleeves, and Lebron James jersies. Bad-ass right?

That said, the sheer well composed nature of some of the ambient melodic riffs could have these guys hire themselves out to Restaurants to play groovy jazz music and excel at it. I’m convinced of that.  That said, this is probably some of the best ambient riffage I’ve heard in the scene. Misery Signals and FFTD might have nothing on these guys provided Sworn In keeps up this kind of writing.  Yea, I’m still quite surprised by that.

Don’t worry or be thrown off though, the heaviness is definitely there. Plenty of two-stepping bro-core riffs abound pleasing even the most picky scenester or bad-ass hardcore kid, your choice.  Breakdowns? Yea, they got those. Some fast ABR/TGIish feeling ones, some of the Oceano/TAS slow-paced breakdowns.  There is a chaotic feel to this as well, which isn’t actually thrown off by the synth, which really fits in well and give the EP a great catchy feel to it.  I’ll point out again, I’m really shocked by this.  The original stuff I heard by Buried By The Ocean never really stood out to me, but this EP is as if they somehow improved 100-fold.

 My personal favorite is “Welcome To The NHK” which bathes the listener with over six minutes of beat-down riffs, a catchy heavy screaming chorus consisting of the very legible, “Take, take It all from me, I’ve given so much, when you will you see?”   Now I’m not looking for anything remotely resembling lyrical substance in our scene considering 95% of the songs are all about someone’s relationship, how it’s broken, and how they hate them/love them, ect. This EP isn’t really an exception, but the music makes up for it. Besides who really thinks about the lyrics when they are throwing down and sending the 12 year olds nearby flying?

My second closest favorite was ex, a song completely devoted to you guessed it; how much said ex sucked, horrible, ect. All that good stuff. Overlooking that, this song has some of the best ambient melodic riffs I’ve heard from any local band around here, or for most bands around for that matter.  Specifically I was enraptured by some of the piano/snyth work in the song and was even further surprised by a well developed solo that resisted the urge to wreck itself with plenty of shredding so that the metal kids could headbang to it and twaddle their fingers in idolized awe. Remember, I hate solos.

If you haven’t download their five song EP. They’ve provided it free via mediafire, which makes me quite happy so I don’t have to hide my illegal piracy ninja skills from Josh Woods who will troll me to the end of eternity if he catches a breath of my devious and decrepit activities.

Anyway, check this out. I’ve been recently looking for a local band to stand out from the crowded and rather disappointing metal/hardcore Lake County scene and these guys just might be it.