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,

Starbucks to suffer yet another Boycott.

It seems like there is a call for a boycott of something or someone, just about everyday. Now the self-proclaimed, “socially responsible” Starbucks is a repeat offender that has been added to that list yet again.  This time it isn’t over their support of gay rights, rather it’s over the company’s adherence to state and local law concerning gun control. Starbucks just can’t seem to win, but boycotts don’t seen to dampen their ability to continually satisfy their customer base.  Apparently customer service is important to some businesses. Now, it appears this boycott against Starbucks is set to start on Valentine’s Day.

Who is the offending party? National Gun Victim’s Action Council, an organization known for their tolerance of individual rights and common sense; just not for this issue and second amendment right. This is yet just another example of what has gone so wrong with an understanding of political ideology and force nowadays. Disregard protection under the law when you don’t like it, or call for more law when you feel someone is doing something they shouldn’t be able to do. Please, give us yet more of typical cultural hubris.

While this doesn’t set legal precedent, it still sets another precedent. That is the notion of using good intentions and just concerns to influence businesses into violating the rights of their customers if a particular group believes those concerns to be important enough to trump the customers rights. In fact, it’s this kind of action, behavior, and thinking that labor unions, local regulators, and federal agency bureaucrats with no accountability to the voters have been fighting against for a long time.  Behold another example where the issue and situation trumps one’s rights.

This whole line of thinking is something that needs to be opposed and revealed for its disturbing and dangerous nature. Freedom is freedom. Rights are rights. You don’t make exceptions, no matter how valid, just, and good the reasons behind said exceptions may be.  History has shown us just how easily a Stalin, a Hitler, and a Wilson can easily use those exceptions to create precedents that can be used to justify even the most heinous of actions.

What’s particularly fascinating is that Starbucks is taking what is almost a neutral stance on this issue. Shockingly, they are deferring this whole sidetracking issue of individual gun possession and carrying to whatever the state and local laws regarding gun laws mandate for wherever that particular Starbucks location is.

Badly mistaken organizations like this one should attempt to at least be tolerant of the few rights we still have left, the second amendment being one of them.    Sure, you might not like guns and what can result with their use, but the right is there for a reason.  Isn’t this what tolerance is supposed to be all about? Apparently not, if you think you know how to better protect someone than they do for themselves.  (In fact this issue is yet another example of just how much base assumptions will affect one’s regarding “gun rights.”)

If recent history has taught us anything, just one citizen armed with even a .22 could have put an early end to the VA Tech massacre.  Or the campus could have waited for law enforcement to arrive, which they did, and suffered  30+ deaths of their fellow campus body on that horrible day.

If only we applied sangs like “I disprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” to issues such as these.  I, however am applying that to even this ludicrous boycott. Consistency can be a b**ch, but is an absolutely essential concept when examining one’s assumptions about freedom and liberty.

I would urge everyone of us to go Starbucks in the upcoming weeks and support their stand to actually respect our constitutional rights. When you go through that drivethru and enjoy that hot beverage, do remember – it’s not coffee, it’s Starbucks.

Red Tails ultimately fails. Badly.

If you’re looking for a movie that is well written, inspirational, and filled with characters that will draw tears from your eyes and future admiration for their courage, then Red Tails IS NOT the movie you are looking for. It’s not even close. Not even a strong performance by Terrence Stamp, a badass pipe and bomber jacket wearing Cuba Gooding Jr, and a series of actually well cinema-graphed battle scenes would be enough to save this forgettable film.
What should have been an inspirational epic about the courage of a group of men to stand up for their beliefs, their families, and their united fight against the depravity of racism instead turns into a film filled with horrible dialogue, bad plots, and misplaced star roles.

I don’t know exactly what went wrong when the script was written, but never has it been so evident. The absolutely horrid and cheesy dialogue punches you in the face with one of the very first line’s in the movie, “Germans!” scarring what was a rather well shot battle scene. The fighters racing to and fro and bombers crumbling into fiery pieces in a tracer filled sky wasn’t enough to redeem this first scene as it was literally ruined by line after line of bad dialogue. It seems that the dialogue was written by 5th grade students writing their initial first drafts of their first attempt at a fictional short story filled with lines that the character’s were forced to say in a manner that were as cheesy as possible.

The question I ask myself is, “How can anyone mess up a story about the valor of the Tuskegee Airman this badly?A flight-leader who is a struggling alcoholic, his brother who is a rebellious ace in the making, and a grinning Cuba Gooding Jr. whose voice and lines just doesn’t match his part detract so badly just 30 minute in that you may just want to walk out and demand a refund. Don’t even get me started on the love story. The horrid side plots look like they were thrown in posthumously and mar already non-believable characters.  
Remember, all you struggling script writers desperate for originality -lines thrown in for comic relief should at least live up to their purpose once or twice in a film. Bad writing has turned Red Tails into what appears to be a a bad B movie with no Quentin Tarrentino to redeem its cover. Seriously, how one make the characters in this film so inconsequential to their own stories? 
If you are really desperate to hear the story of the Tuskagee Airman, then for once go do the unthinkable; read about it. Or if you’re attention span can’t handle that, Glory, or more specifically Morgan Freeman, will at least deliver some of the elements of courage and justice that should have been manifested in this excuse for a film.
Red Tails is a film that will and should be remade. Forget my attitude toward the lack of originality in Hollywood and the resulting remakes.  It is beyond me how a tool, yet brilliant producer like George Lucas managed to mess up this film so badly. It’s like being let down Stephen Hawking who suddenly can’t fathom long division.  Forget that Red Tails was ever made. Forget about seeing it. Save yourself. 
– 120 minutes of 1 star quality. 

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.

Song of the day: “Downbeat” by The Ghost Inside

When you want something uplifting that packs a punch and gets you shouting out those lyrics, I end up turning to what has become my favorite album of all time – “Returners” by The Ghost Inside.  In a genre populated by beatdown hardcore and deathcore with bands like Emmure and The Acacia strain encouraging you to smash someone’s face in, there are alternatives.

The Ghost inside provides that alternative with a message that isn’t about hate-moshing the 15 year old in front of you who isn’t moving, rather it embodies the feeling of the downtrodden human soul and a persuasive chorus to get back up. This band promotes a worldview with principles of self sustaining drive and motivation for the hopeless. While this may not be the specific Gospel that people need to hear, the message is one that resonates in us all. What can I say, I do like alot of the elements of the worldview expressed by this maestro of melodic hardcore. Behold, my favorite song on the album, and one of my personal top 10 favorite songs of all time.

From the band themselves describing what was on their mind when they wrote the song:

– Life is hard sometimes, there’s no denying it. I wrote this about the times that you hit absolute rock bottom and having the strength to not only not allow it to overwhelm you, but to overcome it and persevere entirely.

Days can fade, and lives can slip away. Any song can be silenced.
 It’s time that we start this over. I know what it’s like to fall face down. We’ve all been there before, with no life in sight. When it feels like the world just gave up, with no strength to see it through. Raise a fist up to the sky, scream it loud, “I’m not ready die.”
 A hymn for the hopeless, my song to the deaf. I learned to push past the pain. I’ve seen it before; it’s never the same. Aim an ear to the heavens still waiting for a sign of life. I’m gonna build this wall from brick, twice as thick, so you cannot tear it down. 
And then it rang in my head, “Love is what you make it. Some hands we have to fold. And the hardest lessons you will learn are the ones you’ve been told.” I’m face to face with death himself. I know this won’t be the end of me, I just know it. You always will be my enemy. I control it.

I feel like one of those 12 year old girls who just can’t get enough of Black Veil Brides, except in this case its a great band like The Ghost Inside and I’m listening to the album every night at work for the past two months.  I even throw caution, impressions, and other people’s grinning faces as I scream the lyrics out loud in the cereal/coffee and tea isle.  

California pulls a “Texas” in it’s educational curriculum.

Remember when certain folks made a very big deal about how Texas was going to include in their educational curriculum material that displays the contributions of conservatives to history? Now naturally, those on the progressive side of the spectrum saw this as an outrage.

Now California has passed legislation which has just gone into effect in the new year will make it mandatory for schools to include educational classes and material that will talk about the contributions of gays in history.  I wasn’t aware that they had actually done anything of major note-worth, but I’m sure they can find some civil servants, doctors, ect who rocked it in the closet unknown to others.  

On Jan. 1, California becomes the first state to require public schools to teach the contributions of gays and lesbians… It bans instructional materials judged to reflect adversely on gays or particular religions.

Neo-cons and many conservatives will not like this. I’m not talking about the ones in California who will raise hell and continue propositions for a new state in Southern California.  National groups will go berserk. I can only hope that those conservatives who supposedly espouse small government will actually stick by it. I’ve already seen some conservative sites which essentially issued a call to arms. PLEASE,  don’t succumb the hypocrisy of the supposedly tolerant left. Liberty is liberty, regardless of the ideology that is being practiced and endorsed. Remember, small government is small government, regardless of whether it’s being used to promote something you don’t like! There is no picking and choosing. 

The one prominent truth concerning education is that it is essentially propaganda. Negative connotation put aside, the term is appropriate.  I tire of hearing, “Oh those home-schooled kids have been brainwashed.”  You mean to tell me that you haven’t been? Remember, if someone disagrees with you and you can tell their education has something to do with that disagreement, they must have been brainwashed.  Let’s be honest and each pick our own poison.  For the last time, education  is in no way, shape, or form – neutral.

For some odd reason, there seems to be this line of thinking in which one group of people in one state think they should be able to tell the people of another state how to live.  Granted the constitution does this on a national level, but it is for a good and obvious reason that it leaves the primary role of education to the states.  To all progressives and neo-cons, remember a federal government that has the power to enforce your favored ideology on your neighbors has the ability to enforce the ideology you despise and dread on you.  This is however a big issue, as education always is, and those who aren’t shooting up at home, playing Modern Warfare 3, or getting their daily dose of Adele probably realize this.

My favorite quote from the article is just below:

“We’re talking about teaching historical facts at a grade-appropriate level. That’s all it is,” said Equality California spokeswoman Rebekah Orr, who represents California’s largest gay-rights group. 

Yea, I’m sure we are. Someone took their PR classes, or at least understands the basics. That’s exactly why no one really understands the precise meaning of this statement. Draped and covered in subjectivity as to what “grade appropriate” historical material will be, we can only hope for the best concerning the well-being of the children in California who will be subjected to more then just vivid images of anal sex in their safe kindergarten classroom.

There is of course a homosexual agenda, as there is any agenda concerning education.  You’ve got to hand it to those sneaky homosexual advocacy groups though. In order to move society toward a more “tolerant” view of homosexuality, they need to grab hold of the kids at a young age when their worldview is still malleable and can be shaped.   Convince the children that homosexuality is a normal lifestyle and should be met with praise, the word “faggot” is wrong, and the use of the phrase “that’s gay” isn’t appropriate and they are well on their way to molding society in their own image. Education is the key, always has been, and always will be.

This kind of crap is appalling. But then again, education in any form is never neutral. This is why NCLB was a horrible piece of legislation, and the lack of local control over education would earn the praise, revelry, and adoration of every State controlled educational system since the 1900s. 

The homosexual agenda irks me more than most, and no it’s not because I am a Christian,  it’s because it doesn’t allow for local control of education if it doesn’t like what the locals want to teach. (Christians have committed this same hypocrisy.) The state of California won’t be enough. These fellows never rest, and they will be back in the courts ever damn day till they get a court decision that finally grants them a win with enough ramifications to gain the control over the educational system they have always wanted. The rest of the country will need to comply and the Federal government will be the tool used to crush those intolerant Christians and force tolerant education upon their demonspawn. Don’t be surprised if they want to start burning Bibles, closing churches that won’t marry homosexual couples, and suing businesses who won’t serve certain customers based on religious conviction. 

SIDE RANT – Since when did we start picking and choosing what was is considering discrimination and what isn’t?  Since when did “discrimination” become used as a guise to tell a business owner what he or she can or can’t do? How did this work it’s way into legislation?   “Points to the gays”   Remember, business owners have rights…. as long as you approve of which one’s they choose to exercise.

I’ve seen some interesting comments regarding this whole debacle on a few different websites:

“Discussions about gay people don’t always have to focus on sex acts!”   

–  That’s why they always do. Why can’t we just do the smart thing and save the five year olds from ANY discussion on sex acts? That would probably be intolerant.

“Using gay history in context could actually SAVE LIVES.” 

Here’s logic for you. That would save as many lives as the injustice of the criminal law system’s prisons bars would for those who just can’t afford that good lawyer. To each his own, I suppose.

“Political correctness” is a made-up term by a certain set of people that define the term as “I’m offended that people get offended about issues other than all the issues I get offended by.”  

A valid point. Hypocrisy is rampant, especially when it’s your ideology vs someone else’s. The court system is never far behind because people can’t simply learn that freedom of speech is freedom of speech. There are no exceptions. (The very concept of “Hate Speech” should bellow TYRANNY at the top of it’s lungs to anyone who has actually bothered to read their history, rather than texting on their Iphones in class.

P.S.  I’m sure I’ll probably offend someone, so considering how easy it is to do just that nowadays,  Get over it.  I’m sure you can think of things to say to offend me. Do it.  We all have middle fingers. Use one if you feel the need.  Do remember, disagreements are just that, not restraining orders. 

A new hope for the music scene in 2012.

In this state for that matter, there hasn’t been much in the local music scene that has stood out.  Let’s reflect on some of the events I actually remember:

-For All I Am getting signed. Here’s to another catchy, yet generic core band getting signed. Best of luck to them though.
-Elysion Fields releasing a surprisingly good album.
– Monsters and Demolisher breaking up. There are some things that need to happen in the music scene come 2012:
– Nothing else.

Sworn In needs to get back to the beautiful writing of their Carthasis EP, rather then the brutal stuff that we’ve been handed and expected to throw down to. Granted, it wasn’t bad, but when you can write melodies like Ex and Welcome To The NHK, can you really go back from that?  The melody on that EP was better then anything I’ve heard in this area, Glaciers included. I actually still hold it to be one of the few breaths of fresh air around here, regardless of how many people liken Sworn In to Kingmaker.    Considering over half their members left and were replaced, I have no idea of what to expect from them in the future.  Hopefully their new vocalist is as good as Tyler Dennen was, because regardless of how “Bro” people described him as being, he was damn good.

Eva Galley needs to get more exposure. The three times I’ve seen them live, they’ve kicked as, considering those times have been at the Oasis and Swingstate.  (I love both of those venues and the people who work there.)  I still can’t quite place my finger on what it is about their sound that I like the most. Perhaps it’s the fact that their music simply isn’t predictable and that the man behind the keyboard knows how to fully utilize it, even he does look like he’s 15.  If only the recording on their facebook sounded better…

Waking Giants are one of the few musical upstarts in our area that put on impressive live shows. It’s hard to sound good at the Oasis, ( I love all the people who work there, but the truth is the truth.) but they pulled it off.  An interesting post-hardcore feel with a unique vocal style and some song structure that deviates from the traditional metal-core, breakdown, beatdown, hardcore, ect feel that dominates much of the local scene here is a most welcome addition.  Hopefully re-recorded songs on their facebook can bring out their true sound to those who haven’t been able to hear them live yet.  

We Came As Romans needs to get rid of Kyle Pavone. He’s a nice guy, but he can’t sing live.  At all. As much as I hate to admit it, he would sound much better with autotune. Let’s not go there and simply replace him with a new singer.

– More house shows! Put simply, the one that I was at only last month kicked alot of ass. When you can make a show in an oversized garage that fun, you must be doing something right.  Next time I plan on buying about 20 pillows, and bringing them there for a pillow fight to commemorate Lake County Kids.

For Today follows up with an album that packed the punch of “Breaker”.   It’s been very rare to seen album with that kind of message and lyrics that packed even more of a punch lyrically.  The hardcore presence in this album re-defined this band.

– An actual decent music venue in Lake County which can hold over 500 people, refrain from having bruiser style bouncers who practice choke slams on 14 year olds, and a sound system and staff capable of letting a band actually sound their best. Remember, awesome sound systems are only awesome if the”sound guy” knows what he or she is actually doing.

– Respect. People not moving at show can be such a horrible affront to our music senses, but to each their own. Sometimes I feel the need to go nuts and throwdown, but if someone doesn’t want to to be in a hardcore dancing pit, there is no need to go smashing into them.  I am no cooler, tougher, more “brootal” if I knock over the 14 year old standing near the outside of the pit, then if I take a huge hit from the 6 foot 5 metalhead who doesn’t like hardcore dancers.  Respect people.   If we want certain venues to actually allow moshing we will have to prove at shows that we are respectful toward each other and the staff there.  Respect and courtesy can go a long way.

Season Six Finale of Dexter proves that it is the best show on TV

The season finale of season six of Dexter has proved one thing to me and many others; Dexter is the best show not only on Starz, but perhaps on TV.  Perhaps mistakes might have been made in this season, but the ending of this season gives us the fresh start that the creators of Dexter promised us this season would.

Not many shows can turn a vigilante and renegade serial killer of other killers into a character that we can sympathize with, root for, and await his every reaction as he tries to account for his Dark Passenger.  What surprises me most about the show, is that it is only getting better, something few shows can do after concluding its sixth season.  Not many shows can make the act of murder something so alluring that not only can you not take your eyes off the screen, you are rooting for Dexter to enact plastic sheet line vengeance.  One question that keeps popping up in my mind is why we love a show like Dexter?

At first I feared this new season was going to turn Dexter into yet another show with portrayed Christians as insane radicals who used the name of God to justify heinous acts of murder, but the inclusion of Mos Def as Brother Sam in this season alleviated my fear.  

The character development of Dexter proves to be some of the best I’ve ever seen in a TV show.  Seeing Dexter go from a lone wolf on the prowl to a family man struck by tragedy and coping with the responsibility of raising a young son did not actually hurt the plot, theme, and feel of the show; it made it even deeper and disturbing then it ever has been.  This is exactly why people love the show.

Dexter reflects something much deeper then just vigilante justice, it reflects the American culture’s attitude toward justice. If it can’t be attained legally, it may just be attained outside the law. This really isn’t something new in popular entertainment. Whether it has been the classics like Macguyver, Batman, and the A-Team to Dark Angel, Jericho, and Knight Rider, justice is served.  It’s even being served with much better plots, action, and bad-assness of all sorts with more recent films like Kick Ass, Law Abiding Citizen, and Iron Man.

One thought that keeps lingering through my head is that it may be just a fantasy that is acted through Dexter, but when justice is not served, something deep down angers us to the point of doing it ourselves, regardless of the consequences.  This is what Dexter himself has turned out to. The code protected him, but it didn’t account for the situations he would find himself in the later seasons.

For all budding script writers, take note: Dexter is the perfect balanced and smooth blend of plot, character, and story that contemplate each other in a manner that is essentially art. Remember, good plot inevitably sheds and reveals layers of a character that we never knew existed. Dexter has done just that. Even with this brutal, yet stunning and incredible cliffhanger, the setting of the plot for the next season will be one to cherish and remember.

– I was kind of hesitant to check out the show, but after seeing the first episode, I got hooked.

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.