Showing posts with label Kentucky Muck Podcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kentucky Muck Podcast. Show all posts

19 July, 2016

Dirty River on the road: selfie activism

Quality is the greatest enemy of mass-leveling. -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Polar Protesting: Near Quicken Loans Arena
I spent yesterday in downtown Cleveland trying to find the dire narrative the political extremists on both ends and all major media outlets have been pedaling. True to the old adage "If it bleeds, it leads," it seems as if FOX, CNN, and MSNBC are determined to create a causal connection between the recent killings and the implosion currently happening inside the GOP.

I saw one mini van full of guys in olive drab who were clearly not military, not police, and not connected to any government agency. There were a few people taking advantage of Ohio's open carry law, and if you follow the media story about the "rally"*  in the Public Square, it would be easy to believe that downtown Cleveland is looks like the setting for a Phillip K. Dick novel.

People deserve better than the narrative they're being fed about the actual state of things. 

Yes, there were a lot of cops around. A few of them were wearing bullet proof vests. Most of them were wearing their regular uniforms and carrying their normal firearms. There were also the usual brand of Jesus freaks, megaphone doomsday preachers, and political protests. As I mentioned in one of my video updates yesterday, the polar bear is probably my favorite. Not only is it on message, but I have to give kudos for the person in the suit's dedication to the cause, because not only did that person walk around for several hours in a hot polar bear suit in July, but that person did so around Public Square and E 4th Street -- the hub of activity outside Quicken Loans Arena.

There were a few radical speakers at the free speech mic, some hate mongers posing as Christians, and
two other protest marches against Trump and the GOP: a pro-immigration march that made creative and not market intended use of a sex blow-up doll, and a parade of women wearing pink in protest of Trump's outright misogyny. There were some lone protesters, each with their own cause, ranging from a call to treat Syrian refugees fairly to one of the sanest people I saw, an old man with a t-shirt that read  "END POVERTY NOW."

I was also hoping to find a few of the more radical left marches to include. Tom Morello showed up to wear his IWW hat and punch the air with the Northeast Ohio Wobs... but the march took place at 7pm -- long after any delegates, GOPers, and major media outlets had filed into the Quicken Loans Arena compound to listen to Chachi spout and Trump's wife plagiarize. Moreover, the march took place from E 47th to E 12th Streets.

The hub of pre-game activity for Day 1 of the convention happened between 8am and 1:30pm at the Public Square and E 4th Street. 

Free speech is crucial to a free society, and dissent is the marrow of a healthy democracy. But I have to wonder about the purpose of a protest no one sees except those who would know about it anyway.

I've participated in marches and protests before because while voting is a civic duty, it is the exact opposite of revolutionary action. When people are organized and have a unified message, dissent can change the direction of The State run amok. But the most successful protests, the most successful forms of dissent, also take risks. 

If the radical left is serious about changing the direction of things and taking on the damage done by late stage capitalism, then it's not enough to march somewhere "safe" because they buy into the media myth of a militarized zone at Public Square. Having a radical message means doing more than bird calling it back and forth with people who agree with you. That's the failure of social media activism. 

People deserve better than dissenters who don't want to take a risk for what they believe. If we leave the megaphones for the hate mongers, we are enabling the hate and violence, not standing against it.

*If the media outlets covering the "gun rally" had used a wider camera angle, they would have had to tell the story of five people that no one paid any attention to. But a close camera angle is the best way to create a crowd to fit the narrative they walked in wanting to tell.

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15 December, 2015

Being a fish along the dirty, sacred river; or piscean mind puzzles

I've been fighting the wallpaper in the dining room. I promised this time last year that we would tackle the project. Neither of us are sure exactly how long the dingy, annoying stuff has been stuck to the walls, but since the house has only had 3 owners and WE didn't do it, it at least narrows the field. Our initial impulse is to blame the most immediate former owners, the Beamus's. Amanda's been living in this house for about 10 years and whenever we run across something that is rigged, rushed, or done incorrectly, it almost always traces back to them. We curse them regularly.

The wallpaper appears to pre-date them, however, so we cannot curse their name. This time.

Removing wallpaper is a frustratingly slow process. Having never done it before, and having only an abstract notion of how to do it, naturally I did research first. What I found quickly was there is no one correct way to strip the awful stuff; there is, in fact, a host of moderately successful DIY methods that no one can make up their minds about. There are manufactured chemicals, of course. Then there's the diluted fabric softener method*, the vinegar water method**, the patch and paint method***, and the dynamite method+. All of those (except the dynamite method, though my impressions are hypothetical) pale in comparison to using a steamer.

The work is still tedious, but it moves faster. Unlike the first day, when I wasn't entirely sure we would ever be able to finish it, I can see a tangible time line -- though a much longer one than I originally thought. ++

I've also been working on the technical aspects of podcasting. The talking part is easy. Finding news is
even easier, although I have to rebuild my credibility as someone news sources need to talk to.+++  I'm not too worried about it, though I am anxious to record. There are some real stories going on that need to be told and told better than they are being told now. The advantage of the podcast is that I can dig as much as I like and tell the story that insists itself instead of being beholden to mediocre editors.

Teaching myself the technical aspects of podcasting and remembering how sound recording equipment works has kept the prospect of actually DOING the podcast in the abstract -- much in the way that spending a year talking about how great the dining room will look once the wallpaper is gone and it's painted kept the project in the abstract.

Abstract is easy for me.  I could spend all day, everyday, lost in the visionary mist of the abstract. I lose track of time. I lose track of myself. I imagine, if there is a Heaven,it feels something like that. Within the realm of abstract thought there are no creative delays. Creation is as simple as letting go of the interior time clock and seeing what happens.

Delving into the abstract is the work of poets, sages, and visionaries. Genius^, however, is the ability to manifest those abstract thoughts into tangible life -- into the now. The wallpaper will come down and the paint will go up. I'm preparing a podcast that will come out soon, as a test to see if the feed will work. In addition, there are poems to write, a chapbook -- Cortez Eating the Sun -- to prepare and publish under the banner of Dirty River Press, next semester's classes to prepare for, and query letters to write.


*1 part liquid fabric softener and 4 parts warm water in a spray bottle. In theory, after you shred the paper (scratch a bunch of holes in the surface plastic with this nifty tool.) the fabric softener will loosen the glue. Mostly I find that getting it wet does the same thing, sans the chemical clean smell.
** Vinegar and warm water. See above.
*** This entails covering each seem with Spackle and painting over it. While this seemed less tedious, I had images of newly painted walls peeling. 
+I have threatened to do this. Amanda is not on board with this one. Yet.
++If you have to remove wallpaper, and if dynamite is not an option, skip all the above methods and get a steamer. You will thank yourself.
+++Thanks again, LEO WEEKLY, for being one more job that believed I was good enough to fuck but not good enough to marry.
^ Genius, as it is classically understood, is not a personal adjective. A person is not a genius. The work brought about is an act of Genius.

04 December, 2015

Dirty River Media: An Argument For Muckraking

You can't buy a bag of peanuts in this town without someone writing a song about you. -- Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane, 1941)

There are a lot of ways to practice the art of journalism, and one of them is to use your art like a hammer to destroy the right people — who are almost always your enemies, for one reason or another, and who usually deserve to be crippled, because they are wrong." - Hunter S. Thompson

Julius Chambers, maybe the first muckraker

The first reported use of the term "muckraker"* was by no less than President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. During a speech, he used it in reference to William Randolph Hearst and Hearst's brand of yellow journalism**. Usage of the term grew and came into include Julius Chambers -- maybe the first real muckraker -- Nelly Bly, Upton Sinclair, and Ambrose Bierce, among others.***

Muckraking is part of the grand tradition in journalism that's dying at the hands of corporate owned media. Keep in mind, Dear Friends and Readers, that no less than 6 corporations own most of the large market media in this country... and that's just TV and radio. Newspapers are corporate owned as well, split between Gannett, The McClatchy Co., Hearst, Cox Media, Media News Co., and Village Voice Media (which has eaten up most of what used to be the alternative weeklies.

Part of the problem is people sometimes confuse muckraking -- which sometimes rears its head under the more polite hat of "investigative journalism" -- with yellow journalism^ -- which is alive and well, as well as well funded.

Another problem is people -- including some who claim to be journalists -- buy into the idea, often espoused by anyone who doesn't agree with the particular brand of facts^^ posited by a reporter or talking head^^^, that journalism ought to strive to be "objective."

That, Dear Friends and Readers, is complete rhetorical bollix.

Journalism can't be objective because its first allegiance ought to be to the truth. The role of the 4th Estate is to drag stories out into the light and hold our elected officials' feet to the proverbial fire. It should not ever be Public Relations for any political party or politician, and should look at everything through a critical lens. And regardless of what anyone tells you, being critical means having an agenda. 

My recent split with LEO Weekly (one of the few alt weeklies not owned by Village Voice Media) occurred over a disagreement on how a particular story ought to have been portrayed.  Another aspect -- which I will call coincidental because it's more of a feeling than something I can document -- is that from their perspective, I got greedy. My work was considered exemplary by the managing editor until I had the temerity to ask if I could be more than a freelancer. After that, all of a sudden, I was breaching journalistic standards.

I'm a contrarian. I'll admit that. But having a natural tendency to disagree is not the same thing as a breach of "the basic tenets of journalism"+ On the contrary, it makes me a good muckraker. You have to have a contrary personality and a solid sense of self to be willing to rub academic department chairs, deans, editors, and politicians the wrong way. A good friend of mine once called this my tendency to "poke the bear." 

And that, Dear Friends and Readers, is what I intend to continue doing.

That's why I'm going to be finding my own press credentials and starting my own endeavor, called Dirty River Media. This will include a few projects, including publishing and podcasting, and other enterprises will hopefully add to the already existing push back against monopolized media and milquetoast reporting.  One project, The Kentucky Muck Podcast, will be a weekly show about local, regional, and state issues, as well as arts and culture, that need to see some light. That's what muckraking is, and that's what I do better than most anyone around. 

I promise my reporting will be honest, authentic, and researched; and I hope it will be entertaining. Stay tuned.
*Defined as - raking through the muck and finding the real story.
**Hearst more or less invented large scale yellow journalism, the tradition of which is carried on by Fox News, HLN, and MSNBC most effectively.
***People like this are my heroes. So are Ida B Wells, Walt Whitman, Utah Phillips, Hunter S. Thompson, and Pete Rose. Not necessarily in that order. Look 'em up.
^ I just felt like using a bold yellow font. That's one kind of editorial decision that even schooled journalists are comfortable making.
^^ Facts are difficult to find and almost always difficult to use in any critical sense... and generally get confused with "opinion" which everyone has according to one smelly metaphor.
^^^ Talking head -- no, not the band. talking heads read you a news script that they may or may not have had any part of putting together. Probably not, more than likely.
 + The same editor who accused me of breaking faith with "the basic tenets of journalism" is the very same one who quoted HST to me by saying "objective journalism is bullshit."  You can't have it both ways. Either you write something honest and authentic and true, or you write shit. 

01 December, 2015

Compassionate City, Continued and Gator Man Strikes Again

Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others. - Ambrose Bierce

Compassionate city, continued

The thing people need to remember is Louisville is, first and foremost, a port town -- spawned by the river and maintained by the descendants of slimy critters that crawled out of it. There is no amount of brand-name creating, gentrifying, or white-washing in the name of economic development that will remake this town into anything but the den of vice, passion, and delusion that it is. Someone really should tell the mayor he can change the window dressing all he wants, but the actual nature of River City is what it is -- beautiful and perverse, both corrupt and incorruptible.

Of course, if someone did tell Mayor Fischer all of that, he'd just run out and buy more paint to cover it all up. The most popular color used to cover Louisville's swollen twigs and berries is police blue.

This past Sunday I went the folks at Fed with Faith to deliver food, sleeping bags, sterno and propane, and thermal underwear to River City's homeless population. We went to a new camp* with supplies, and took down their information. I rode around with Jean, one of the founders of Fed with Faith, and did what I could to help. He's either discovered the secret to endless energy or he mainlines coffee, but I did have a good night anyway.

The people living in the new camp ranged in age from their late 40's to barely 20. Some of them had family -- we ask in case they turn up dead and someone needs to be called -- but most of them didn't. A couple of them are in the process of finding housing, and there were some other issues around self-medication that always rings familiar to me.**

We ran into another guy who was eating out of garbage can near the downtown convention center. He said he used to play in the NFL. He also said he lived in New Jersey in 1988 during an earthquake that opened a hole where the Taliban was. We also ran into a kid who couldn't get into the shelter because he didn't have any ID, but who had no business being out. We had to hang around a bit to make sure a group of guys from the shelter didn't jump him for the food and stuff we gave him.

I also met Bob and Chris, and Prince Albert^.

One interesting tidbit I learned about our "compassionate city." It's illegal to move a camp. If you're caught moving a camp, you get cited form illegal dumping. Let that one sink in for a minute. So, while being homeless isn't technically illegal, according to the LMPD Press Information Office, they manage to criminalize everything BUT, and dehumanize their fellow humans in the process.

But it's all about the brand... right?

The gator man strikes again

As a result of me posting the article LEO refused to print and me accusing them, rightfully so, of wanting homeless porn^^, I no longer write for them. I wasn't full-time anyway, just another hired gun, working piecemeal and being told to wait for the sweet by and by.  Of course, my work with them was getting hyper-scrutinized anyway, ever since I asked to be more than the mixaphorical+ brides' maid. The truth about freelance writing is the same truth about being an adjunct college instructor --

why hire you on full-time when they can screw you for pennies?

This isn't getting me down, however. Thanks to my break-up with LEO, I've decided to break out on my own. Just because I'm not getting underpaid by them to drag important news out of the muck and into the light, doesn't mean I can't underpay myself.

This time, however, it will be in form of a weekly podcast, The KENTUCKY MUCK. We're still putting our pints and quarts together, and you can expect to get word of it soon. The Kentucky Muck Podcast will cover News, politics, arts, and culture that need to be dragged out into the light. We will be engaged actively in #bevinwatch, as Matt "no-cock fight is too dirty for me" Bevin takes the oath of office and starts doing to Kentucky what Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin -- but with that carpetbagger flair that only comes wrapped in a flag with a prayer on its lips.+++

I'm also closer to announcing the first release of Dirty River Press, which will probably be a chapbook.

In our little south end bunker, we're also working on a storytelling podcast concept called Falls City Storytelling. That one will be fun of a different sort.

And there's more... but I hate to spoil a surprise.

You may have noticed I've put a donation button on the webpage. Back when  I wrote under the American Re:Visionary blog, I had a tip jar. At the time, I used the tip jar for travelling money. Now, I'm asking that if you like what you read that you help me continue to write it. The more you give, the less I have to work a day job and devote to you, Dear Friends and Readers.

Thanks. Expect more soon.
*Nope, not going to tell you where, and for all the reasons I mentioned in my previous post.
** I have gotten away (for the most part) from daily self-medication. But if there really was salvation in a bottle, I'd have found it by now.
^Prince Albert says he's a direct descendant of King Edward. He also claims to have walked 43,000 from Florida to Louisville. Having travelled and lived out some myself, I can see where it would fee that way.
^^I apparently impugned the "integrity of the paper" and probably hurt the feelsies of the gatekeeper in calling them out publicly. But since the current publisher claims to be a Liberal and does business like Jay Gould++, I feel less than terrible about either. Their current cover story -- about the methane plant deal in the West End -- misses the mark by about 20 football fields. But the lead is journalistically "correct." And, their concert listings will be spot on. In a related note, there was a huge Black Lives Matter protest at the Old Jail House in downtown Louisville yesterday. They protested in support of Judge Olu Stevens and his reported decision to dismiss a jury during a drug case on the basis that the jury was not racially diverse enough.
+ mixaphorical, adj: an apt mash-up of generally isolated metaphors. From PDOUWP, Compendium Ed.
++Jay Gould was a rank capitalist most famous for saying "I can hire one half of the working class to shoot the other." He did. It worked. It still works to this day, since capitalists and powermongers are not so much creative as they are repetitive.
+++ i.e., fascism.