Month: November 2011

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly…or Suicidal

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(Make no Mistake, These People are Scum)
It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
 First of all, let’s not assume that suicide rates actually rise during the holiday season.  Read the linked article.  However, the article might be interpreted to say the suicide rate rises right after a holiday, and so the holiday is still to blame, having built someone up, so that they thereafter fall harder.
However, perhaps this is a myth put out by desperate journalists.  Holidays are, nonetheless, a time to get together and make racist jokes, bash the poor, wonder why we aren’t bombing various resource rich nations, watch your alcoholic uncle blurt out evidence of his affairs in front of his wife, and make fun of elders who seriously want to say grace by saying, “Grace,” and then immediately shoving mashed potatoes into your mouth, and smirking.
Also, Vic Chesnutt killed himself on Christmas.  So, that’s enough for me.
 However, if you’re planning on killing yourself this holiday season, don’t.  We need more people like you around because, let’s face it, you’re right, the holidays are pure evil.  Perhaps you can’t articulate why, but you know in your black heart it’s true.  As Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Iraq’s former Minister of Information, said of George W. Bush’s invading army: “They are stupid… and they are condemned.”  “They” totally ripped Iraq’s defenses apart like so many perforated paper tigers, but he was right.  Let’s look at why he’d also be right about the holidays, even though they continue to shred the human psyche.
Holidays serve several purposes, all of which are potentially negative.  Firstly and worstly, they almost always commemorate some cesspool-spawned religious tradition that continues to insist on clamping its fecal hands on your beautiful mind, and twisting out its luscious reason, and inculcating that you should spend some time with your jaded, treacherous, inheritance-rapining family.  These religious ideas were usually birthed in the mind of some psychotic cult leader, took hold in the popular imagination of the desperate, degenerate and fascistic, and were thereafter utilized by despots for the purpose of nullifying freethinking.
The 4th of July may seem an exception, lacking as it is in mangers, foolishly generous Native Americans, or fertility-symbol bunnies.  This holiday is more about stirring up a nationalistic spirit whereby the red, white and blue, mindless agreement with federal policies leading to warfare, and becoming inured to the shock produced by sudden loud noises, are all glorified and linked with hormonally massaged pleasure pathways associated with familial bonding, horse play, and the launching and destruction of phallic objects, you know, rockets and firecrackers.  Still, after this holiday, suicide rates, therapy appointments, and morbid thoughts increase.  Therefore, let us declare nationalism to be religion’s ugly sister, and put a bag over her head and suffocate the bitch.
Sure, religion and nationalism are the wicked step-sisters and you, my suicidal friend, are perhaps clinging to some vestige of your reason despite the most powerful propaganda machine in history, the United States corporate media, bashing your reason at every opportunity with the notion that Christ died so that the rich wouldn’t have to pay taxes.  You were on your way to the ball of free thought and then your chariot of expression turned into a pumpkin, hollowed out with candle-lit, cross-shaped eyes, mocking your humanity, stuffing it, and hanging it on a tree like so many other trivialized ornaments.  You’re pissed off, and you should be.
And so, I’ve devised a formula to help you deal with the anger, having suffered from it myself and been forced to transcend it.  What you need to realize is that you can make your own holiday.  For instance, I’ve renamed Thanksgiving “Vegan Atheist Day” and I celebrate it by mocking and feeling superior to the meat-eater who surround me. Secondly, you need a mechanism to defuse your anger.  Depression is anger turned inward.  How do we smooth out the anger?
Well, observe your anger.  It starts with thoughts of people or events not going how you’d like.  This is followed by a rapid-fire assessment of the details which leads to a characterization connected to an explosive, emotional burst.   For instance, you think of your sibling who tells you you need Jesus because things aren’t working out for you at the moment, and this is given as proof that God is punishing you.  The moment you start thinking about the creep, say these words:  Relax.  Let it go.  Move on.
This is the opposite of the anger reaction.  Instead of getting tense, you relax.  Instead of making an assessment, you don’t even ponder it.  Instead of dwelling on it, you go to the next thing.  Even if that next thing is putting one foot in front of the other.  Of course, without the distraction of burning resentment, you will also manage to tackle more complicated things.
The more you practice this, the better it works, in my experience.

Occupy Fort Myers Undaunted: Moving On

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(Danielle and Jeremy, power couple, at General Assembly)

Despite apparent setbacks, members of Occupy Fort Myers at their new location evinced optimism and determination, even with moments of disagreement and frustration among them that come along with forming a consensus.
They’ve been driven from their original and secondary locations by the threat of fines and arrest, and they’ve momentarily settled at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Daniels Parkway.
They’ve also had some recent success.
At a long general assembly, they showed a great deal more organization than when I last attended several weeks ago.  They discussed short term and long term plans, and they even discussed how to discuss long and short term plans.
The purpose of occupying public space took up most of the time.  It was decided that a new location near downtown Fort Myers would be scouted out.  They also discussed a Black Friday demonstration and other corollary matters.
I included some highlights below where members introduce themselves and their concerns, and where opinions are voiced in short clips.  Included is a speech by PGA golf pro Michael Nunnink.

Food not Bombs Serves Up Nonviolence in Downtown Fort Myers

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(serving the homeless free vegetarian meals)
With a large homeless population for motivation, several locals have started a local chapter of the worldwide Food not Bombs project.
Madison Dickmon, 21, was on hand to answer questions. She prepares dishes and helps to serve the homeless.
“We do actually have a lot of days where food is given out in some kind of area to the homeless,” she said. “I heard on Sundays there’s not a lot of food anywhere to be found for the homeless.”
Food not Bombs was started in 1980 by anti-nuclear activists, including Keith McHenry, and has since spread globally. It has about 500 chapters now.
Food Not Bombs is based on 3 principles.
1: Food is always vegan or vegetarian because of violence that occurs against animals.
2: Each chapter is leaderless and independent. All decisions require unanimous consent.
3: Dedication to nonviolence. Food is provided to the homeless and protests. Art and creative strategies are encouraged.
The group believes that food is a right, not a privilege, and that corporate power skews the distribution such that, though there is enough food for all, not everyone eats. The food is available to anyone.

“In my eyes, Food not Bombs is about changing people’s minds, making a difference,” said Dickmon. “How people see things. People who have joined Food not Bombs now work with other organizations like Heartland Gardens or Occupy and they started out seeing that Food not Bombs can make a difference here and it changes their minds about how they see things, where they can put their time and effort.”
(Food not Bombs volunteers serving homeless at Centennial Park)
The volunteers usually serve by 6 PM at Centennial Park on Sundays. So far, they’ve been getting between 10 and 25 people, but Dickmon thinks the numbers have been increasing since the service was started.
Madison Dickmon is also a musician and is putting on a benefit concert called Metal for Moustaches. It will be at Cool Hand Luke’s at 9 PM on Sunday, November 27.
Another volunteer present, PJ Simone, said she was involved with Food not Bombs for 6 years, and had been homeless herself.

“I’ve been involved because there needs to be more people understanding the lack of resources when it comes to food. Instead of using resources for war that we don’t really need, we can use our resources for the actual community. As someone who lost their food stamps for not working enough hours, I think it’s great having that meal.And I know, other people can have a meal too.”

Food not Bombs will continue to provide meals at Centennial Park in Fort Myers at 6 PM every Sunday. A variety of tasty, fresh dishes are provided.

Bring your appetite and maybe your curiosity.

Occupy Fort Myers Operating in Hostile Environment

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By Carl-John X Veraja

When Occupy Wall Street was thrown out of their camp in Zuccotti Park, they were able to immediately muster a massive rally and march.  Occupy Fort Myers was also driven from its home base.  However, OFM does not have such a sizable population of the like-minded to draw upon, but they still made a respectable showing today.
Those sympathetic with OFM and ready to march showed up around noon at Centennial Park.  Some 50 people were there, from a wide range of backgrounds and age groups.  I did some short interviews with several attendees which you can view below and hear individual voices.
While purportedly against the greed of the 1% of the wealthiest Americans, the movement has yet to clarify or condense its message to a set of specific demands.  Some people involved in the movement feel it is time to do so.  Others are frustrated about a lack of direct action and too much emphasis being placed on defending the right to camp on public property.  Whoever is correct philosophically on the issue of occupying public space indefinitely, clearly doing so now would result in enabling the police to round up protestors.
Despite setbacks, most of the original campers, who have relocated to the Unitarian Universalist Church on Daniels Road, are still as gung ho as ever.  After several speakers presented at Centennial Park (some of which you can view below), they marched to the Thomas Edison Fountain where speaker Ro Boggs, a union organizer, expounded on the need for more action.  Among possibilities, it was decided that a demonstration would be made on Black Friday to encourage a general boycott.

Some videos:
Ro Boggs suggests action and Jeremy Walker expresses outrage, having lost his job due to his involvement.  Below that, I did one minute movies of various protestors explaining their rationale.

Here’s to Infinite Speech

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(Danielle Quina, Occupy Fort Myers)
 In downtown Fort Myers, most of Occupy Fort Myers had already left for their new encampment location at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Daniels Road.  Several protestors were still at the Old Federal Courthouse where they’d spent one night after being driven by police from Centennial Park under threat of arrest and the confiscation of their property.  These remaining few were charged with watching over supplies awaiting the return of moving trucks. One man, not necessarily part of OFM, became incredibly agitated, claiming his bag was missing.
“I’m going out of my mind,” he screamed. Police took him aside while several bystanders suggested he needed to be “Baker Acted.”
Danielle Quina, who has been a part of OFM from the beginning, was lying on the ground, feeling unwell, sleep deprived, holding the sign in the photo above. “I got about 4 hours,” she said. A passerby, who appeared intoxicated, proclaimed she felt that the Occupiers had no gratitude. “Try living in England, and you’ll see how good you have it,” she spat, marching off indignantly. Several news vans were present, and Quina made small talk with a reporter.One of the policemen came over and made a rare display of police curiosity, though it was tinged with skepticism.