Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Dick in a Mousetrap"

So recently, I attended my first hardcore show in at least a year at a local venue called the Nerve which was surprisingly quality. Not that I have time to keep up anymore, graduate school has pretty much killed my ability to remain culturally literate (at least in the contemporary). Also attractive hardcore boys who all homosocially mingled and meddled with each other (one running around in a full spandex skiing outfit) reminded me of why I moved to Portland in the first place--because in contrast to what the Christian Right claims it is incredibly difficult work to "convert" the straights (a few tips on this from vice)

Two bands that stuck out to me were Drunkdriver a kind of drudgy punk without too much of the stereotypical sound that tends to make the Crusties wet,

and also Realicide, a kind of industrial, gabber, noise-punk take on hardcore. Realicide was incredibly sincere and kept invoking us to rennovate our lives in opposition to the system, which made me nostalgic for days of anarchism, vegan potlucks, and endless insider jokes.

(note: the DrunkDriver video is the live performance of a single song, the Realicide video is a full set on this show entitled Debunk Punk).

Monday, May 11, 2009


So in order to deal with chronic pain in my arms, shoulders, and back I've decided to heed the calls from the deep believers in my family, who tend to see yoga as a curative for everything. My first impulse with any Eastern semi-religious, cultural practice taken up by middle class folk from the United States is to see it as suspect and part of some search for "depth" elsewhere, when Western culture seems to them parched for meaning amidst rampant consumerism. Also, I didn't really want to get involved in discussions of "downward dog" over family visits.

But after some desperation feeling like the chronic inflammation of my tendinitis was not going to let up despite months break from bicycling, wrist braces whilst typing, and regular stretching I committed myself to a few classes to see if I experienced any change.

At first I felt as if I was aggravating the problem, I was sore the next day after a few sessions, moreover the instructor began and ended class with a chant of "om", at times she leads some meditations, and would sing songs about the "light within"--all laughable crap as far as I am concerned. But my neck and shoulders have started to feel significant relief, and some of the knots that have been cradled beneath my shoulder blades have for several days let up. Five has told me that I am much less grumpy after attending a class (is grumpy my usual state of being?). Taking a class is essential because the instructor tends to move you around to best achieve the stretches.

I think bicycling up hill almost every day with a timbuk2 shoulder bag and too much weight can be ascertained as a significant contributor for my pain, so I am attaching some links to yoga for bicyclists:

Yoga journal

Kundalani Yoga

Friday, May 8, 2009

Money Shots

"Perhaps in the money shot's repeatedly inflated, 'spending' penis we can see condensed all the principles of late capitalism's pleasure-oriented consumer society: pleasure is figured as an orgasm of spending."

--Linda Williams, Hardcore: The Frenzy of the Visible, 1999.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Institution and the Queer

The other day I overheard some discussion by a new PhD student talking to others about how before the moment of the AIDS crisis in the '80s and '90s the gay rights/liberation movement looked exactly like it does today. I blundered into the conversation reminding him that he needed to look further back to the Gay Liberation Front in the 1960s and 70s--who were much more radical than most of the mainstream organizations right now.

He later came up to me and said I was correct that he needed to look further back and I apologized for jumping in uninvited to his conversation. Then he, I, and another graduate student turned to the topic of gay marriage (yawn). He was making this asinine argument that marriage is not an institution, that somehow 1 marriage is not related to another in any particular way. I was taken aback by this neophyte's presumption to just deny the role of marriage as a kind of institution. The non-gay graduate student suggested that to include gays in marriage suggests that heterosexual people would have to rethink the meaning of marriage in a positive way.

My vanilla-ass colleague's logic might make sense if:
1) marriage is somehow not defined by a series of laws that govern how you might enter and leave the arrangement and associated rights and privileges (e.g. citizenship and immigration).
2) somehow culture did not help perpetuate some idea of and function of marriage or any other arrangement, civil, political, etc.
3) every couple is a singular manifestation of a purely unique interaction, which if Freud teaches us anything is that certain familial dynamics perpetuate particular patterns of interaction.

But I realized this will probably this gay-establishmentarian's dissertation topic, and I also realized these are the logical absurdities to which gay marriage advocates will insist on in order to make their case.

I've concluded that actually this sort of logic is exemplary of what is going on with the gay rights establishment. It is a turn to empowerment through member presence in institutions (civil, economic, religious, political). This institutional activism is related to the contradictory importance to the practice of "coming out." Whilst this act is certainly a public acknowledgment and therefore identification with being queer, it also provided for some a sense of safety in numbers--the fact that we are everywhere means that we cannot be eliminated. This practice can be very powerful and important for gays, which depending on community of origin and religious background can be a rather lonely, tortuous, and difficult period of anyone's life.

At the same time this act, for many, functions as a political act in itself which indicates affiliation with a stigmatized group. Now that gays are attempting to enter the sacrosanct realm of marriage this is considered to be the apex of queer political acts for the gay mainstream. I, along with those from organizations like Gay Shame and sometimes even people like Judith Butler and Leo Bersani, have insisted that this cannot be the limit of queer politics, that we need to embed ourselves in the history of non-heterosexual movements to give ourselves a clearer sense of political purpose and clarify our goals.

But the difficulty is knowing or entering this history, it is much easier to "come out" without some knowledge of the struggle, which may or may not be harder to disregard in other marginalized and oppressed groups. Also, the ambivalent "internetization" of gay interaction by sites like manhunt, etc., tends to atomize the community more so than its middle-class, entrepeneurial exponents already are.

I guess I don't necessarily see much hope for a movement beyond this point, particularly if gay marriage finishes off what might have been a much more interesting political emergence, however short-lived it was.

Men's Recovery Project

I love Sam McPheeters.

Goats from Raio Verde on Vimeo.

Monday, May 4, 2009

David Harvey on Democracy Now!

Reminding us to ask the big questions. I can't figure out how to embed Democracy Now! videos so go to this link.