Monday, September 22, 2008

Army Begins Active Duty Assignments in the Homeland

Look the fuck out-- this seems bad!

I haven't found any other articles, but this comes straight from the horses mouth, as it were. Has anyone else seen anything about this?

Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1

from the Army Times, September 8th, 2008

some choice excerpts:
3rd Infantry's 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping 'people at home' may become a permanent part of the active Army.

"The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they're training for the same mission — with a twist — at home." .......

"In the meantime, they'll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack." ....

"The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

" 'It's a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they're fielding. They've been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we're undertaking we were the first to get it.'

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets."


Gee, I am feeling safer already. Nothing says "I care" like a boot on the neck.

Monday, September 08, 2008

On Broadcasting Dada, and Narrow-Mindedness

KBOO broke ground again last week when we cleared the schedule for a special called: 101 Hours of Innumerable Small Events Which May or May Not Be Related to One Another-- A Celebration of Dada and Surrealism. We had ran a three day Dada special six or seven years ago, and while it had impact, this event generated MUCH more feedback.

For the whole of the two business days of the festival (which began Wednesday evening, August 27, and ran through midnight, August 31), our phone rang off of the hook. Primarily people were confused, though many were very upset. There were also those who phoned to praise us, but they were a decided minority, at least at first. KBOO received emails from volunteers, friends and listeners, asking why, in these important political times, we were choosing to run this "puerile, self-indulgent noise". Don't we realize there are elections, and conventions, and wars, and stuff? My god, what have we done with Amy Goodman??? The calls continued throughout the weekend, taken by the various deejays, who explained things in very different ways....

A few members swore they would never support us again, though I know more than a couple of folks who said if we played this experimental stuff more often, they would support us again.... hmmm, tricky balance that. I understand if Dada is not your cup of tea. I understand you turning the dial and not giving it 101 hours to grow on you (though by at least a couple of friends' accounts, it did grow on them by Saturday afternoon). It's the tendency to insult that which we do not understand that dismays me--- I had thought that KBOO listeners may be a bit more open than that. After all, our program charter says that "KBOO's arts, cultural and music programming shall cover a wide spectrum of expression from traditional to experimental, and reflect the diverse cultures we serve. KBOO shall strive for spontaneity and programming excellence, both in content and technique." I guess that this was just too experimental for some folks.... I can almost here it, "We support experimental arts and spontaneity, just don't fuck with Democracy Now!" Or, "Hey you bohemians, you already have programming 3.5 nights a week in the wee pre-dawn hours-- don't get greedy."

There is a troubling lack of understanding, both of our charter and of the Dada arts movement, that clearly shines through in the comments chastising us for airing such material during such a politically important time. Having the festival run the hours it did, meant that we forsook traditional public affairs programming for TWO DAYS! Don't get me wrong--- I love KBOO public affairs, I have listened to KBOO's public affairs since the late '70s, when I was but a tadpole. And I am a political junkie--- I really do love following news and current events, and do so pretty constantly. But please! A little break is good for the soul-- and if this wasn't the time you wanted to take a break, you can inform yourself in any of a number of ways (for two days, love of Pete, just two days), and end up at a coffee shop with friends to actually process some of the information we are endlessly taking in.

The irony that slaps me in the face about this is that Dada is an anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-establishment art movement, born of the disillusionment following WWI. This is what really saddened me when I received emails from liberals and progressives taking the station to task for being so self indulgent when there were important political events to cover. Do they not think art can be political? Is art not an important part of our culture, and does it not inform our politics? In fact, far from being irrelevant as some claimed, I can't think of any more relevant programming to broadcast at this time that no sense makes sense. When life is absurd, only the absurd will do. I am going to guess that most of our disgruntled listeners have no idea of the history behind Dada, and some might not care. For those that do care about the history of this brilliant movement, I want to share an excerpt from the preface of the program schedule for the special:

It's 1918. You're young and living in Berlin. You're a little dazed to have survived the mass-slaughter of World War I. You feel sorrow and anger that so many of your friends and family were killed, mutilated, driven mad by the first mechanized war with weapons of mass slaughter, the first with a new mental damage called "shell shock."

Like your surviving friends, you have only contempt for your "civilization" and its masters whom blame and condemn the structures of your culture: the state, the church, the press, capitalism, the academies, the arts -- you ridicule them all.

Your friends are pacifists, artists, communists, anarchists, all shades of ists; but you have gone beyond them to question reason itself. Because you have no idea why the war was ever fought. For what?

You uneasily recognize the great fearful and violent unconscious of humanity has surfaced catching everyone, including yourself, completely unaware. You see that visions of mass-annihilation have entered the European imagination. You sense even worse atrocities to come.

You gather with friends at clubs and to write and perform satires, poems, manifestos and attacks, writing them in violation of all the rules. You print art and writings on cheap paper for mass distribution. You develop an anti-art, anti-rules, anti-logic, anti-reason, anti-structure approach to artistic creation, calling Dada; scraping away surface consciousness to uncover and probe what lies beneath. A basis for a true art of the people?

You notice as your Dada festivities progress, you all become a little more than just giddy. It begins to develop some purpose, generating explorations of altered states of consciousness through art and sound. Your friends talk of achieving the "marvelous" and "fields of light;" it would sound mystical if you weren't so dead set against religion....

Imagine: The Marvelous!!!"

That's why I think that this Celebration of Dada and Surrealism, at this time-- conventions, and all-- was actually a critically important thing to do.

This special brought together scores of volunteers and guest artists who began collaborating on pieces last spring-- creating original music, recording plays and poetry, producing audio, arranging and creating simulcasts on cable access, and showing rare surrealist short films in the KBOO lobby late one evening. In short, it gave reason to create a community of artists who inspired each other to do excellence, and to reach further. That is a political act, and that is one of the essences that blends into the whole of a great community radio station.

Viva Dada.
Viva Art, Truth & Beauty.
Viva KBOO.

Happy Lammas, Y'all

In honor of today being the euro-pagan day of Lammas (well, it was when I wrote this, some five-weeks ago,on Aug 1st), I am going to focus on the wheel of the year, and what this time of year means to many of us. Watching the earth through the pagan year's holy days is one way to see ourselves connected to a recurrent cycle of birth, growth, diminishment, death, rest and rebirth. Today is Lammas, which is the half-way point between Beltaine and Samhain. This is the first celebration after the summer solstice, when the year is at its peak of solar energy-- the god at his zenith of power. This marks the god's
aging, and as John Barleycorn, he is cut down in the gathering of the grains.

Let's pause for a moment and look at this in context-- how the year's cycle and changing of the seasons can be told in one story or myth:

Lammas is celebrated August 1st. It is the festival of the first harvests. It is a very opportune time to assess what you are manifesting, how is it coming in? What do you need to prune, adjust, reshape? This is the time that the god grows older, waning in energy,
while the goddess as mother harvests the seeds and nurtures the god growing within her, awaiting his re-birth.

The next turning point is Mabon, or Fall Equinox, a time to celebrate balance. Projects and goals that were dreamed in the winter and started in the spring come to fruition. It is a time to give thanks for what has come into your life and to prepare for the more introspective times ahead. The god, old now, rests after harvest-- preparing for his death.

The last turn of the year is Samhain, better known in this country as Halloween. This is a time of dreaming, of communion with the dead, and those spiritual allies that are not incarnate. The veil separating this physical world from the land of the dead and the faery grows the
thinnest at this time of year, making it a great time to gain advice and contemplate visions to guide you through this dark and introspective time. The god dies on this day, and old year passes
away. The world lies fallow, resting until the god's rebirth.

And the re-birth happens at the Winter Solstice. The new year, full of hope and potential as it stretches out ahead of us. It is time to do deep introspective work to make clear your own intentions and goals to your own self. As the new sun grows in strength, what aspirations
do we want to grow into reality? What can we do to give strength to that new world that has justice, love and laughter at its core?

Next comes Imbolc. Traditionally, this involves a feast dedicated to Brigid, on February 1st or 2nd. This is the beginning of spring, as the lambs are born, and signs of life begin to appear in earnest, giving hope that the greening of the year is getting under way. This
is a time of beginnings, and initiation. The god is still in infancy, but gaining strength, the goddess rests after birth, readying herself for the Rites of Spring, celebrated at the next turning point.

Ostara, aka the Spring Equinox—the Rites of Spring. This is a time to celebrate the fertility of the goddess in her Maiden role, and the god grows well into his youth. This is a time to nurture and feed what we have started, and see what else needs to be manifested in our lives.
This is the time of the planting—laying tangible foundations for your ideas and projects.

Beltaine is a celebration of sexuality, and the year turns to early summer. Traditionally celebrated by erecting a Maypole, and dancing during the day, giving way to bonfires and sex at night. This is the time that the god becomes a man through his union with the goddess.
As the poem goes: "Hooray! Hooray! for the 1st of May, Outdoor fucking begins today!"
Alright, it's probably not an ancient poem, but I have to say, I like the sentiment.

Then we move into Summer Solstice, or Midsummer, which was the last holy day before today. This is the time of the god enjoying the apex of his power. A time of great expansive energy and celebration. This is the time to focus your power to give your dreams "lift off". Play
hard. Think of the energy as a drum circle reaches that fevered frenzied climax. Manifest!!!

Which brings us back to today.

I thought it important to look at the full year, as often people ask me how they can strengthen their connection with the earth, how can they feel more like they are a part of that big cycle. To me, one of the best ways to do this is to go out into a place during each of these turning points and to observe the changes, season by season. It doesn't matter if that spot is in a forest, a park, or your yard-- what matters is that you spend a little time, at least every six weeks, getting to know it. Watching how the plants change, which birds are there-- how the place sounds and smells, what the vibe is, through out the year, and how those changes relate to your own life.

So a little more about Lammas. As I mentioned, it is the celebration of the first harvests – the cutting of the grains and the corn. This is a holy day of transformation, for after the grains are cut, they are milled into flour and turned into bread to give us all sustenance. In a more mythic take, the god's sacrifice is seen through the personification of the grain into John Barleycorn, and his sacrifice. Another way to see it is that the bounty of solar energy is embodied in the grains now ripe for harvest, and it is time to prepare for the leaner months, which lie just ahead.

For people interested in holding a simple ceremony to mark this day, a great way to do it is to bake bread. While you are kneeding the dough you can focus on the connections within your community/ friends and family-- those with whom you will be eating the bread with later. Kneed thanks into the bread for the harvests, for sustenance, and for the love and connections in your life.

Invite loved ones over to eat this bread with you-- reflect on how much you have accomplished this year, and what more you need to do to feel satisfied. It is the holiday to assess how you can best adopt, adapt and improve your plans. While sharing the bread, don't forget to toss a chunk out for spirit-- making offerings is another way to experience deeper connections.

You can decorate your table with stalks of grains, and ask yourself and others what you need and how to support one another through the coming winter. Are there sacrifices that you need to make now to be reaped in the future?

You can braid those stalks of grains and keep them through the winter to keep the spirit of the harvest present until the next growing season.

So I want to hear how your year is going-- what are you harvesting, and what do you want from your community? What are you giving to your community? I am also interested in hearing about your celebrations-- what traditions do you keep?

Change Now!

It's my 42nd birthday (rather it was six-weeks ago, when I wrote this on July 18th), and I have very recently returned home from the Oregon Country Fair. As I assess my life at this turning point in my year, I am overall very, very grateful for the community of which I am a part, for love and laughter, for food and shelter, for right livelihood, for the spark of divinity we all share, and for the beauty of the earth surrounding me.

To all of my friends, family, community cohorts--- I thank you for enriching my life.

Let's look for further and deeper ways to create the new world founded in compassion, truth, & beauty. Let's make this week's headlines the impetus to do it now. Why not?

Big news of economic hard times this week-- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in a bad way. Huh, who'da figured? Some people seem surprised, others wryly cynical, but no matter your attitude, in the end we need to strategize a way through the collapse of this system.

But wait, what if this isn't really the big, BIG collapse.... you've heard it before--- people are always crying the end of the world, and all. What about Y2k? The nuclear doomsday clock? It's tiring to live with an impending apocalypse. Still, here is another moment that the old system teeters.... we know, absolutely, that empires fall; they are like a house of cards-- I propose that we withdraw more of our support from this empire's base, and be ready when the house comes down. We know that this system is not sustainable, as no other empire has lasted, neither will this one. So why wait? It does little good to visualize radical transformation of our society and then be unprepared for the moments that are ripe for further transformations to unfold.

So how do we ready ourselves for the transformation? How can we work together to make a new community that is far more self reliant than the community we woke up in today? We don't need external experts, but we do need to be smart about organizing our resources. What networks and support systems can we help to form now? What do we take for granted? How much non-perishable food do you have in your house? What's your access like to fresh produce? Does the food you eat get trucked in from around the globe, heavily dependent on the oil industry to reach your table? What very practical skills do you have that you can share with your community? Can you make medicines? Build shelters? Clothing? Can you entertain, make music, spin stories and create the new myths to weave together our new world? How's your water use going? How are you at gardening & identifying edible foods? Do you know how to preserve foods? If you know how, do you do it?

It's time to put solidarity into action-- being kind to each other is not only pleasant, but will actually increase our viability-- we are stronger together, than alone. We must stand strong together-- lest we be vulnerable to being swept up in xenophobic propaganda. It is crucial that we deeply listen to each other, so that we can actively support one another. To work in solidarity with each other pivots on our basic understanding of each other's issues and needs, and to find how they connect with our own.

How's your consumption lately? I know that I am mending more things than I had been for a while. Remember the WWII jingle: Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without-- that certainly has a place now.

On the fourth of July, Cicely Rogers joined me on the talk radio show. She emphasized the importance of doing the work of readying ourselves to take advantage of opportunities to transform. I want to suggest that the time is now, right now, to engage in solidarity. Check in with those around you-- what needs aren't being met? How can you organize people to meet them? Is there a need to care for kids while some work? Is there a need to have help in a garden that folks without land can share? Do people have enough to eat? If not, can you organize feedings? It's time to get down to basics.

Check into our history-- there are brilliant examples of community defense and mutual aid. Check the actual history of the Black Panthers, of the Wobblies and late 19th century anarchists, of the 17th century Diggers. What can we learn and take with us. What do we want to create fully new?

What am I going to do differently, starting today, to help actualize this world? What are you going to do?