Archive for December, 2014

The Mall At The End Of The World

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Eaton_Centre_HDR_style

With the calendar winding closer and closer to the official birthday of the Baby Jesus, I took to the streets for that most American of traditions — buying stupid shit that no one needs or wants. Parking my car, I sauntered through the pockmarked asphalt lot of my local mall, which is filled with holes that look ideal for taking cover from mortar fire. Passing the gout-ridden woman exiting the Chinese buffet on her fat-scooter, I slinked into the double-doors that hold, in their depths, pure materialistic hell and small town-misery. From the face of the first passing shopper that I saw, the message was clear: fuck this place. Fuck the holiday season, fuck spending money you don’t have, fuck malls, and definitely fuck working in retail.

 

It has been nearly ten years since a new enclosed mall was built in America, and for a good reason. We have long since passed the days when our own narcissism and addictive desire to possess consumer junk was charming or endearing. Somehow a book like: Confessions of a Shopaholic does not have the same mass appeal when over half of the country is stuck working for a soul-sucking corporation that struggles to supply toilet paper to its employees, let alone health care. When your president’s biggest gaffe is getting caught sticking a cigar into a fat intern’s twat, Old Navy could almost be considered a nice place to be. But when your tax dollars are being used so a “liberal” president can play a constant game of bomb the brown people, and the world is spiraling into financial chaos, the mall is just pure depression.

 

I saw it all ring clear on the face of the corporatized mall-Santa, who was plainly another out-of work millennial who had been forced to blow a few lines of Adderall so that he could muster up the courage to sit in the middle of a concrete hell wearing a fat suit for eight dollars an hour. Entering a cooking store I witnessed more unfortunate souls who looked like they had been driven from their homes with cattle prods after being implored to keep the country’s economy running.

 

Two elderly gentleman, nodding off into space while staring at three different iterations of juice mixers, each second trying not to grab a bottle of tabasco sauce and rub it in their eyes for some excitement.

 

Staring off across the road as I left, I witnessed another semi-fast semi-cultured restaurant chain that I didn’t even know had existed. Maybe it had simply exploded out of the surrounding environment’s desire for something just a few degrees classier than McDonalds, or maybe it didn’t need to be there at all.

 

If there is one thing to be said about my mall-going experience, it’s that the real tragedy of the day hit me with no small sense of irony. The newest fast food joint to sink its claws into our decaying mall had yet to open. Fucking stupid… all I wanted after my Dante-esque descent into hell was a standardized frozen-to-grill greasy cheeseburger.

 

-J.A. Young

The Torture Retort

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

When you think about the scariest, most terrifying, characters from popular movies or books – who comes to mind? For me I think about Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, Leatherface, or Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery. These are characters that have the ability to make my skin crawl and my stomach turn without being even the slightest bit real. What is that old saying? Truth is stranger than fiction – or something like that? In light of the recently released Torture Report I can firmly state that one person in our collective reality is far scarier than anyone cooked up in a spooky novel or dark movie. That person is none other than Dick Cheney.

 

 

If you took Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars and meshed him with Freddy Krueger, what you would get would be close to Dick Cheney – but still not all the way there. Rumor has it that when Dick Cheney was a child – he would pull the wings off of butterflies until they screamed out what their true motives were. When Dick Cheney was a teenager he was probably the one running to parents whenever the cool kids got together to smoke pot or drink beers. Dick Cheney has had numerous heart troubles because his ticker cannot continue to supply enough pressurized blood to keep his dick hard when romanticizing the torture of other human beings in the name of American “freedom.”

 

 

Well great job Dick, I’m glad you can sleep soundly on your big pile of blood money while your actions cast one of the largest, most-shameful shadows over the United States in history. Cheney, in an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, defended the CIA’s illegal kidnapping, torture, and negligent homicide of a wrongly accused “suspect.” With a werewolf-esque type scowl and an imaginary splatter of blood on his face Cheney, confirmed that he was far more worried about the “bad people” the CIA didn’t torture enough and let go instead of a few “innocents” that were subsequently tortured to death. Jesus Christ, man, do you really have no soul? That is rhetorical, I already know the answer.

 

 

Dick Cheney is an evil man who should no longer be given any air time, credibility, or respect in any avenue of the media. This has nothing to do with partisan politics – anyone who is an advocate of fear based torture that uses rape, physical pain, emotional abuse, and tactics that occasionally result in death has no place in the modern world. If any other world leader came out and advocated his support, we’d be calling for their head. But no, Dick Cheney will be allowed to live the rest of his, hopefully short, life in relative peace without ever having to face retribution for what he has done. If America still had some semblance of a moral compass – we’d be putting Cheney on trial and refusing to allow money, influence, and corrupt power run our country.

 

-Spencer James

Our Dark Human Comedy

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Our Daily Obsession

 

We love our movies and our television. Is there nothing we enjoy more than vicarious escapism? That everyday heroin-fix that is so flimsy, that we know is intangible. We love it because it takes us to a place where the real dangers of the world are not so important. Heroes always prevail, villains are vanquished, and we are entertained. We know that the stories are all fading, that they have been created from imagination, but that makes them no less real.

 

Fading Realism

 

From one day to the next none of us can decide what is truly serious, important, funny, or worth living for in our lives. Our priorities float in the ether of change, evolving along with us on fleeting whims and impulsive decisions. We justify this by telling ourselves that we are the masters of our own destiny. There can be no doubt that we matter.

 

But there comes a day when we all must be ferried across the river of life. On this day we will realize that we are just like the entertainment that we enjoy—fleeting and silly. From any view other than our own, life is a comedy, and from our view all others are the same.

 

The Truth

 

Psychedelic drugs, rational inquiry, religious experience and introspection all provide us paths to a pleasantly unconcerned view of humanity. In the words of Carl Sagan: “The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

 

 

-J.A. Young

Food Waste in the U.S.

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

food waste

Food is a basic necessity at the heart of human existence.  Where our food comes from, and how it is labeled, are two vital issues in the raging debate over food production in the United States.  Corporate leviathans like Monsanto are dumping pesticides into our food chain and altering the genetic composition of the sustenance we consume daily.  Admirably, new campaigns have emerged that revolve around sustainable, locally sourced, organic, and properly labeled food.  “Slow Food Nation” has emerged as an answer to the powerful fast food chains that have spent generations digging into our pockets and expanding our waist-lines.

 

The food debates will continue to rage in this country as our citizens wake up to the unhealthy conditions and inefficient production that have become legitimized by the industry.  No matter what your position is on food, one issue, which gets very little attention, is the inordinate amount of food wasted on a daily basis in the United States.  From the farms that produce our fare through the journey that food takes on highways to supermarkets and eventually into our bellies, over 40% of our food is wasted.

 

We are pouring out massive amounts of labor and natural resources for a life or death commodity just to waste nearly half of it.  50% of our land is dedicated to food production while it soaks up 80% of all fresh water in the country.  How is it possible to lose so much?

 

Unfortunately, in the United States, food represents a small enough portion of household budgets that people still choose the convenience of wasting food over the time necessary to eliminate waste.  Additionally, it is profitable for some companies to produce more food than the market needs for consumption.  As a result, major players in the industry are unconcerned about waste because the purchase of excess food means potentially higher profits.  These are just two of the many factors that add up to wasting nearly half our food.

 

Well, what can we do?  Many experts agree that a sizable percentage (some estimate up to 20%) of food could be saved if we simply had a better grasp of food labels.  Many packaged foods are trashed simply because they have exceeded their “best by” label, but they are still perfectly fine for consumption.  One example of how I save is by shopping at salvage stores that sell past date foods and items salvaged from closed supermarkets and mega-pharmacies.  This is advantageous because I consume food that would be normally destined for the landfill while saving money (I usually get at least a 60% discount on the salvaged goods I buy).  For more information on the growing salvaged food industry check out www.bananabox.com for an example of a wholesaler that sells salvaged goods.

 

If we can reduce our wasted food it will mean more hungry mouths will be fed.  At the same time we will reduce our consumption of precious resources such as the fresh water used in production and the fuel needed for transporting these goods.  It is simple to be more mindful of how we preserve our excess food and how we store it while paying close attention to our how we are spending our food budget with an emphasis on efficiency.  This is a small way that we can make a difference on an individual level that will make a better collective reality for all.

 

Loren