HOME LYRICS/NOTES MUSIC MIXES ABOUT RESOURCES CONTACT

 



 

EARLY LABYRINTH ANNOTATED LYRICS


NO GODS, NO MASTERING [DEMO I]

  1. Living Proof... (The System Works For Them)
  2. Letter From the McDonald's on Guantanamo
  3. Pillaging the Ripe Orchards of Faith
  4. Goodnight Tschernobyl
  5. Guns Don't Kill People, Cops Kill People
  6. To My Unborn Daughters
  7. Severed Heads Can't Sing
  8. Ballad For An Ex-Teenage Revolutionary
  9. Sleeper Cells (We're Older Now)
  10. Wasteland
  11. Lonely Leviathan (You & I)


NECROPOLITICAL (DIS-)ORGANIZATION [DEMO II] (Forthcoming)

 



Living Proof (The System Works For Them)


The tree remembers what the axe forgets1
A culture tried to hitch-hike to Funky Town2
but ended up on Rikers Isle 3
Yeah we can laugh about it,
laugh about it, laugh about it now.
(uncomfortably.)

A sick fixation on migration of the traumatized from countries with death squads
that you funded 4
now you act surprised
It's only natural somebody's gonna have to try
to sanctify by TV dy-no-mite5 6

Cuz violence is as American as cherry pie7
as syphilis8 and burning crosses in the night9
as ouija boards10 and waterboards11
and dollar signs
the ones in your eyes...

Living Proof the system works
the system works for them12
spend your hard-earned money
to help support their death machine
I can't believe the apathy
the Nazi sympathies...
enough analogies, I miss it
back when all the punks were singing:

"Living Proof the system works
the system works for them
spend your hard-earned money
to help support their death machine"
I can't believe we're still beneath
this corporatocracy13
almost embarrassing to listen
now that all you hypocrites are singing...

Give me your14 zealots, opportunists
and their kidnap victims
Give me your cruelest
your most ruthlessly religious visions
your biggest suckers, motherfuckers 15
we've got land to pillage
your treaty-breakers,16
oh, those natives?
simply burn the village

And now today, you wanna murder?
well we'll pay for college
You get impunity17
We get whatever we can salvage18
Can almost hear those white supremacist
founding fathers19 laughing bout it now


Living Proof the system works
the system works for them
spend your hard-earned money
to help support their death machine
I can't believe the apathy
the Nazi sympathies...
enough analogies, I miss it
back when all the punks were singing:

"Living Proof the system works
the system works for them
spend your hard-earned money
to help support their death machine"
I can't believe we're still beneath
this corporatocracy
almost embarrassing to listen
now that all you hypocrites are singing...

^TOP


NOTES:

1. A proverb from the Shona tribe, Zimbabwe.

2. “Funkytown” is a 1980 hit single by the Minneapolis disco/funk act Lipps Inc., about the dream of moving away.

3. Rikers Island is an infamous prison island in New York City known for its abusive treatment of prisoners. See the tragic story of Kalief Browder who was imprisoned there without trial for nearly three years (two of them in solitary confinement) for allegedly stealing a backpack.

4. The U.S. and its allies have supported and directly trained countless right wing death squads and paramilitary groups in Latin America, yet this lyric is mostly in reference to those in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in the 1980s. Listen to the story of the Dos Erres Massacre.

5."Dy-no-mite!" was the catch phrase of J.J. from Good Times, the first African-American two-parent sitcom on televison. Side note: Jimmie Walker, who played J.J., is a conservative who has a close (and much scrutinized) relationship with far-right commentator, and possible demon, Ann Coulter.

6. Two very different examples of the many domestic bombings in American History:

- Weather Underground bombings of US State Dept, US Capitol, Pentagon, etc. which symbolically tried not to injure anyone.

- The bombing of the MOVE house by Philadelphia Police
which killed 6 MOVE members and 5 of their children and burned 65 houses in the predominantly Black neighborhood. Let The Fire Burn is a great documentary about it.

7. “Violence is as American as cherry pie is a quote from H. Rap Brown, former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and prominent Black Power activist.

8. See the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, in which hundreds of poor Black share-croppers in Alabama were unknowingly part of a forty year clinical study by the US Public Health Service on the effects of untreated syphilis.

9. Cross burning by the Klu Klux Klan began in the early 20th century as a means of racial intimidation.

10. The Ouija board was introduced as a parlor game by US businessman Elijah Bond in 1891.

11. Waterboarding, widely considered today as a form of torture, was used by the US as an “enhanced interrogation technique” up until the end of the last Bush administration.

12. The System Works For Themis the title track from the first LP by seminal Pittsburgh anarcho-crust punk band Aus-Rotten. The chorus here is an homage to that album and their “Fuck Nazi Sympathy” 7-inch.

13. Corporatocracy is a type of Plutocracy in which politics and economics are controlled by corporate interestes.

14. Cf. "The New Colossus" poem by Emma Lazarus on the Plaque on the Statue of Liberty.

15. See American Nations by Colin Woodward for a breakdown of the original colonization of the US (Puritans in New England, merchants in New Netherland, Scots-Irish borderlanders in Appalachia, unlanded gentry in Tidewater, slavelords in the Deep South, etc)

16.See Trail of Broken Treaties protest in 1972 as an attempt to address the long standing injustices still perpetrated against First Nations and Native Americans.

17. War crimes such as torture, extrajudcial executions and murder by US soldiers rarely go punished. In 2020 Trump has taken the incredible step of sanctioning members of the International Criminal Court who are investigating human rights abuses in Afghanistan. For a particularly glaring lack of military accountability, see the My Lai Massacre of 1968 and the aftermath.

Also of note is the U.S. doctrine of qualified immunity, which was enstated to shield law enforcement from frivolous claims, but which since has been used to make it almost impossible to punish police brutality and civil rights abuses by police officers.

18. "Of course it's about oil; we can't really deny that," said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Also see extensive private military contractor involvement in US wars including Halliburton's "Sweetheart Deal".

19. For example, see this detailed account of Thomas Jefferson's involvement in slavery.




Letter from the McDonald's on Guantanamo



Dear Mom, Dad, Peg and Jackson,

I'm sitting here at the McDonald's on Guantanamo.1
I'm not sure if this letter will make it, or thsat I'll send it, but I wanted to write this out for a while now.
████████████████████████2
Yeah so, we had him in the cold, chained to the floor. Haha. We had a hood on his head, and then we beat him some more.
████████████████████████
All this torture, and I just went along.
From behind this Cactus Curtain3
I'm not sure whose side we're on.
At least war crimes qualify me for
a decent job at the Pentagon.4
███████████████████████
We were drunk, singing Guantanamera5,
holding in our laughs
during the mock executions;6
Retribution, we said.
Laughing as we pissed on the Quran in his hand,7
laughing like hell as we ripped off his pants,
Nine hundred and eleven8 ways to die without a trace
we rubbed his face in the particulars

████████████████████████
and I heard him as he wept alone
A sudden pang of conscience
as I destroyed interrogation logs.
Will these war crimes qualify me for
a discharge or just a disorder?9

I've been longing for
Sundays sitting in church
back in East Tennessee.
"Infidels,"10 we joked.
But now what's haunting my dreams
are all the ghost detainees.11
███████████████████████

I know that Uncle Mark's
probably calling me pussy now.
I got the black-site blues and cold feet...
he'd say pull out all his teeth
and drown all his children
a watery grave down in the Caribbean
but we were arming these guys
when they was Mujahideen.12
███████████████████████
███████████████████████


Like we gave two shits about New York before,
singing "send me to hell or New York City"13
Momma, I don't care no more.

Anyway, how's everyone back home?
How's grandma?

Love,
your son

^TOP

NOTES

1. The McDonald’s on the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base is the only one on the island of Cuba.

2. This song is based partly on the book “Guantánamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi who was held by the U.S. without charge for fourteen years. His heavily redacted memoir was released in 2015 and is highly recommended. The song is also based on the infamous Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal which saw several soldiers court-martialed, yet who returned to their Appalachian hometowns as heroes. The name of the soldier who initially reported the abuse to his superiors was intentionally revealed by Donald Rumsfeld, leading to threats on his life.

3. The Cactus Curtain is an 8-mile long barrier built by the Cuban military from opuntia cacti to keep Cubans from seeking asylum at the American military base at Guantánamo Bay. Named in allusion to Europe’s Iron Curtain, it was at one point filled with over 55,000 landmines by both sides.

4. The current director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, was previously the director of a U.S. Black Site in Thailand where she oversaw the torture techniques used against prisoners, recordings of which were illegally destroyed, leading to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights pressing criminal charges against unnamed CIA operatives.

5. Guantanamera is a famous Cuban folk song, composed, or at least popularized by Joseíto Fernandez in 1929.

6. Mock Executions are a type of psychological torture in which prisoners are made to believe they face imminent execution. At Guantánamo Mohamedou Ould Slahi was cuffed, blindfolded, made to drink sea water, then brought out to sea on a small boat to supposedly be thrown overboard. Confessions made under torture are not admissible under international law.

7. In 2005 an international scandal broke when it was revealed interrogators at Guantánamo intentionally desecrated a Quran by flushing it down the toilet to torment Muslim prisoners.

8. Lest we forget, the 9/11 Attacks on New York resulting in 3,000 civilian deaths marked the start of a continuing “War On Terror”. So far 10,000 US military personnel or contractors have been killed along with over 200,000 civilians in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan alone. Some estimates put the direct and indirect death toll at 1.3 million. The financial cost of the war is in the multi-trillions of dollars.

9. Between 12-30 percent of US military veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For former prisoners interrogated at Black Sites during the war on terror, the statistic is closer to 100percent.

10. “Infidel” (literally “unfaithful”) is a popular self-proclamation in the American Nationalist right-wing community. You can find a disturbingly wide array of Infidel motif t-shirts on pro-military and anti-Islam websites, mostly produced by U.S. “Veteran Owned” companies.

11. Ghosting” detainees is a U.S. intelligence practice in which prisoners are not registered and anonymously moved to secret prisons located around the world. This forced disappearance allows them to be kept hidden from humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross. There are likely over 100 ghost detainees today.

12. In English, Mujahideen (literally, someone engages in Jihad) commonly refers to the Islamist fighters in the Soviet-Afghan War (l979-l989) who were armed and supported by the United States. See Operation Cyclone. Among other Jihadist groups, al-Qaeda was formed by Arab Mujahideen volunteers.

13.
“If Heaven ain’t a lot like Dixie,
I don’t wanna go
If Heaven ain’t a lot like Dixie,
I’d just as soon stay home
If they don’t have a Grand Ole Opry
Like they do in Tennessee
Just send me to Hell or New York City
It would be about the same to me”
- Refrain from Hank Williams Jr.’s 1982 country music track
If Heaven Ain’t a Lot Like Dixie
”,
summarizing the enduring resentment of the U.S. North by the South.




Pillaging The Ripe Orchards of Faith

Well their death cult's on the rise1
Pillaging the ripe orchards of faith
smothered under history's weight

Inhumanity defined
Man, they're worshiping a torture device2
praying for the skull and scythe3

They've instrumentalized our
inability to comprehend our demise
our natural fear of the truth
omnicide in their eyes
byzantine4 in their tools

Dance through the fire and the brimstone5
burning in their minds6
They wanted blood
but only holy water's raining from the sky7

We're their children, ostracized
Hey Hosana, whatcha want me to say?
Blame it on your judgement day

Coveted it once or twice
but damn, people love a beating drum
People want a smoking gun

They've institutionalized
our mythological fears8
the flickering shadows thrown on
the cavern walls made of mirrors
hastening death9 with their lies
the burning up atmosphere

Dance through the fire and the brimstone
burning in their minds
They wanted blood
but only holy water's raining from the sky

Yeah they're just sycophants
claiming falsehoods to hide behind10 11

Dance through the fire and the brimstone
burning in their minds

^TOP
NOTES:

 

1. Apocalypticism is a core tenent of all major world religions, and often the central focus of smaller cults. It often overlaps with the politics surrounding Climate Change as well Biblical prophecies relating to Israel and Palestine. Incredibly, 40% of Americans believe that Jesus will return to earth by 2050. Many Christians believe this will eventually lead to the rapture.

2. Side note, see debate over whether Jesus was crucified on a stake, a T, or a cross.

3. See Grim Reaper.

4. byzantine (adj): of, relating to, or characterized by a devious and usually surreptitious manner of operation a Byzantine power struggle - or - intricately involved

5. “Fire and Brimstone” is an expression referring to God’s wrath, brimstone being a synonym for sulfur. This song seeks to emphasize the unholy alliance between climate denial and homophobia and imagine a defiant dance party in th fictitious, psychological hell of the Christian right.

6. In many Christian ideologies natural disasters and other tragedies are considered direct retribution from God for the supposed total depravity of humankind. Among the most vocal groups in the US is the Westboro Baptist Church, who picket funerals of children, soldiers, mass-shooting victims, etc. because of their belief that God wills these deaths out of his hatred for homosexuality. Although they are perhaps the most extreme in their rhetoric and actions, similar views are common, or even mainstream, among Evangelicals and other Christian fundamentalists.

7. See: Raining Blood

8. “The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth.” Recommended reading: “The Power of Myth”, an extended interview with Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers. Some video excerpts of the exceptional interview here.

9. Climate destruction or Evangelical Chirstian support for the occupation of Palestine as manifestation of the death drive.

10. See Climate Change Denial and its taxonomy.

11. For an in-depth argument on how organized religion is inherently violent, invested in ignorace, and allied to bigotry and tribalism see God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (full audio book).


Goodnight Tschernobyl


Goodnight Tschernobyl1
drifting off to endless sleep
drifting off to endless sleep
Goodnight Tschernobyl
blowing through your empty streets
blowing through your empty streets

Waiting up for her touch
the western world won't stop pretending, will she?
sighing out to that half-life of desperate sky

Rising up from decay
the crucible inside you set alight
throwing off that blanket of April night

Goodnight Tschernobyl
drifting off to endless sleep
drifting off to endless sleep
Goodnight Tschernobyl
blowing through your empty streets
blowing through your empty streets

Neutron pain in your bones
that sour ache that keeps you awake at night
pining for times preindustrialized

Science can't wish her back
and Perestroika2 left you in the dirt
hearing something that almost
sounds like words
it must be birds
between the trees
you're running, screaming:
They've returned! They've returned!3
But so alone you can't be heard

Goodnight Tschernobyl
drifting off to endless sleep
drifting off to endless sleep
Goodnight Tschernobyl
blowing through your empty streets
blowing through your empty streets

 

^TOP

NOTES:

1. At 1:23am on April 26,1986 the reactor core of the Tschernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine exploded, leading to the worst nuclear disaster in history. The nearby city of Pripyat is still a ghost city.

2. Perestroika was a 1980s political reform movement in the USSR which incorporated liberal economic policies into its command economy system.

3. In addition to the wildlife that has reinhabited the area, humans are also offering tours to the site.


 

Guns Don't Kill People, Cops Kill People


Guns don't kill people1
Cops kill people2
so let's kill that evil beast inside of ourselves

People love them some
Stockholm Syndrome
when you think that your oppressor's
there to protect you3

Oh, that's state control:
Blue Wall of Silence4
like a dam on a blood reservoir
Oh, those bullet holes?5
they're just the punctuation
on the statement
that this racist system's making:

Thoughts and prayers 6and shallow sympathies
calls for calm restraint...
Well, there ain't no need for nuanced niceties:
Fuck this police state.7

Oh, sorry to let you know
there ain't no accidents, the program's running
just like it's supposed to

You say ya hate cops but if you're ever in a
scary situation who's gonna show up
two hours later all condescending
and never follow up ever?8

Guns don't kill people
Cops kill people
so let's kill that evil beast inside of ourselves

People love them some
Stockholm Syndrome
when you think that your oppressor's
there to protect you

Thoughts and prayers and shallow sympathies
calls for calm restraint...
Well, there ain't no need for nuanced niceties:
Fuck this police state.9

 

 ^TOP

NOTES:

1. “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Do” was a popular National Rifle Association (NRA) bumper sticker among U.S. Gun Control opponents in the 1980s and 90s. See this article debunking that myth.

2. Over the last 10 years police in the US have killed over 1000 people per year on average, 4-8% of whom were unarmed. By some estimates, more than 1 in 4 Americans who are killed by a stranger are killed by a police officer. Black Americans have a 2.7 times higher chance of getting killed by a police officer.

3. For an entertaining overview of Police Brutality and its ties to white supremacy, see this video by John Oliver.

4. The Blue Wall of Silence refers to the social code among police officers not to report each other’s misconduct including corruption, police brutality, perjury, etc. It effectively enables wide-spread, systemic organized crime.

5. On February 4, 1999 an unarmed Amadou Diallo, 23 years old from Guinea, was shot at 41 times by four plain-clothes NYC police officers as he returned to his Bronx apartment. 19 of the shots struck Diallo. All four officers were acquitted on all charges, and one of them, Kenneth Boss, who had previously shot an unarmed Black man in 1997, was later promoted to Sergeant.

6. See the politcal use of the phrase "thoughts and prayers" in relation to mass shootings. Also this story which deals with innercity gun violence.

7. The police are the front line responsible for enforcing the rules of the system through violence or threat of violence. See "The End of Policing" by Alex S. Vital, free ebook from Verso Books.

8. Line inspired by this viral post. The saying "All Cops Are Bastards" is often disputed by police apologists who believe that there are "some good cops". Recently when two Buffalo police officers were suspended for pushing protester Martin Gugino and fracturing his skull, 57 of their colleagues resigned in support of thier fellow officers as if to say, "No... it's all of us."

9. And of course...

 

 


 

To My Unborn Daughters


To my unborn daughters
who will one day know the pain
of their mother's mother's mother's mothers
pressed like dried flowers
between the sky and the ground
it's in your blood now

And to my unborn daughters
who will one day learn the secrets
of a world that lingers just beneath the surface
and that for all its pain and hurtin'
humanity ain't nothing but a bloody curtain

And I promise that your mother
is the most beautiful woman you will find
for I chose her as a gift to you
that you may look and speak like her in time

Don't hold your ghosts inside you child
Cuz their darkness is better shared
with the sun
and live a life of kindness, love
cuz the world is sleeping
and needs the summer of your eyes
to wake it up

I will be there with you
the very first time that you hear
the boiling kettle of the ocean's ocean's oceans
but I will not be with you
when your heart first learns to open
and to love another one
outside your bloodline

and I know that you will struggle
to understand all of the horrors in this life
But that you'll carry on regardless
when death takes me and your loved ones
from your side

Don't hold your ghosts inside you child
Cuz their darkness is better shared
with the sun
and live a life a kindness, love
cuz the world is sleeping
and needs the summer of your eyes
to wake it up
it needs the summer of your eyes

 

^TOP


 

Severed Heads Can't Sing


Batten down the hatches on
your country club, your second home1
We're taking your colonial war trophies and your hoarded spoils
We've infiltrated your bunkers2,
your panic rooms
your off-shore3 is our backyard
we are your children sleepwalking
through your halls
we are your circuit boards

So wheel out the guillotines4
we'll drag you out from your limousines
You think you've earned it,
that you deserve it
and that's the worst part
so hush now you philistines

You know the words by heart
but sadly severed heads can't sing
We're melting down your driveway for tar
and gathering feathers from your duvets5

The rising of these corporeal waves6
the consequence of wars you've waged
Amnesia of the culture's blamed
but weapons deals you've brokered
have your name engraved7
and your beach-front property
is not a defensible position8
and as you're rambling about your philanthropy9 shhhhh...
you can hear them coming if you listen

So wheel out the guillotines
we'll drag you out from your limousines10

You know the words by heart
but sadly severed heads can't sing
We're melting down your driveway for tar
and gathering feathers from your duvets

 

^TOP

NOTES:

1. See Tupac's thoughts on excessive wealth accumulation.

2. See luxury doomsday bunkers.

3. See Panama Papers, the Mossack Fonseca off-shore files which leaked to the press in 2016, revealing billions in money trails of the super rich for tax avoidance and other likely crimes. Though it made major headlines at the moment, there were few systemic repercussions and the practice continues today.

4. Though written after the lyrics to this song, see this interesting take in Parker Richards' article The Fall and Rise of the Guillotine

5. Tarring and feathering is a medieval form of public torture and humiliation, later popular in the Wild West and also a common metaphor for mob justice.

6. See European Migrant Crisis and Viacrucis del Migrante

7. See: Iran Contra Affair for an historical example of the connection between covert arms deals, regime change and money. Also of interest: the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database

8. “As I like to say to my American hedge fund friends, The Hamptons is not a defensible position ... it’s very hard to defend a low-lying beach. Eventually people will come for you.”
-Scottish political scientist Mark Blyth in this enlightening interview about economics and the Eurozone.

9. See article "Against Big Philanthropy" by Alexis C. Madrgial

10. For further reading on the functions of ideology and revolutionary terror, see In Defense of Lost Causes by Slavoj Žižek


 



Ballad For an Ex-Teenage Revolutionary


Pissin' in the wind of violence
bracing for end times
Your friends are all out drinking
you're home writing party lines
They're probably all informants anyway
I wouldn't be surprised
what with all the threats and hatred
the mass incarcerations

When beating all the ideology
out of them gets tired
You're singing about ambitions
whether noble or otherwise
talking about hostages in basements
and then going into hiding
but we're coming out complacent
with kids and renovations

And praying for a war
to take us away from here
The belly of the beast
has stomach pains my dear
Well if we can't have self-determination
an island will have to do –
some isolation

Scapegoats prying at the gates
getting close but no cigar
Our friends are all out voting
we're here sorting body parts
We were sexual, we were revolutionary
picture perfect stalwarts
who gave up all that liberation
for a cheap package vacation

They're praying for a war
to take us away from here
The belly of the beast
has stomach pains my dear
Well if we can't have self-determination
an island will have to do –
some isolation

 

^TOP





Sleeper Cells (We're Older Now)


Suicided our old selves to find
a paradigm a kid could believe in
we wrote away for books and vinyl
delivered to the woods

Threw away my old youth Bible
sick and tired of how it portrayed women
threw out my rap tapes while I was at it1
sold my sell-outs second hand

Our mothers cried when we went vegan
hard to relate when kids are just
so far from death
Ripping out those Nazi teenagers
like wisdom teeth with righteous wrath

and I know you'll say we're older now
and I know that all those vivisectors
have retired
But I hope we've just gone underground
That this boring adult life ain't mine,
it can't be mine

Smashing glass with baseball bats
is a natural right of youth born in this
dumpster fire2 of a culture mired in its superficial shit

We brought the Weather Underground3
to speak to our high school class about Mumia4
Salvadoran death squads5 and Monsanto6 on our lips

For all these homophobic heathens
was it ever even possible to proselytize?
Even with all these open secrets
somehow a person with a brain can still trust the FBI7

and I know you say we're older now
and I know most of those whaling ships8
are mothballed fleets
but I still hope we've gone underground
That this boring adult in the mirror isn't me

Consider going along for the ride
or suicide but there's no use in leaving
waiting for the chance to die
or show how real you used to fake

What will the woodwork reveal
when drawing lines in the sand of convenience?
Sleeper cells9 of moms and dads
with some tough decisions to make.

 

^TOP

NOTES:

1. See: Misogyny in rap music

2. Notes on the term "dumpster fire"

3. See Naomi Jaffe, a former member of Students for a Democratic Society and The Weather Underground who struggled within those groups due to her feminist convictions. She continues to organize for social justice today in Albany, NY.

4. Mumia Abu Jamal is a former Black Panther and radio journalist who was tried and convicted for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer. His death sentence and irregularities in his trial attacted international attention. He was on death row for 20 years until his death sentence (but not his conviction) was overturned in 2001.

5. See: The attrocities commited by U.S. trained death Squads in El Salvador

6. In the 1980s and 90s Monsanto became a symbol of coroporate controlled food through its extensive development and patenting of GMOs as well as a major producer of carcinogentic pesticides. Also see Monsanto legal cases in this suspcisously cleaned up wikipedia article.

7. See List of FBI Controversies

8. See archival article "How to sink a whaling ship"

9. See: Clandestine cell system




Wasteland


What a waste
what a waste
what a waste
what a wasteland1
what a wasteland we're living on


Been too long
we're wishing on our satellites2
savagery always projected elsewhere
but barbarism's here
your head's the wasteland
this is where your fear really lies3

Love's out the window
love's on the way out

Sages say we are the plague
the pestilence4
Darkling plain5, a sterile rain of shrapnel
Yes, barbarism's here6
your head's the wasteland
vast in its cognitive dissonance,7
its mercenary state-sanctioned violence

 

 

 

^TOP 

NOTES:

1. "The Wasteland" by T.S. Elliot was originally titled "He Do The Police in Different Voices". This website has built tools to dissect the poem.

2. See lyric from the Billy Bragg song "New England": “I saw two shooting stars last night, I wished on them but they were only satellites, is it wrong to wish on space hardware? I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care”.

3. See Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents” (Das Unbehagen in der Kultur). “The Narcissism of Minor Differences” is a theory that neighboring communities are especially likely to engage in feuds due precisely to their close similarities and their need to establish an identity based on a superficial sense of one’s own uniqueness. This can apply to macro (ie. the human species) and micro (ie. personal relationships) levels of society, and our attempts to establish a border of “otherness”.

4. It should be noted that this song was written before the Corona Era when dialog around humans being a virus developed in more complex directions.

5.See the lines from the poem "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

6. This song, and perhaps others here, are largely influenced by Fredy Perlman’s 1983 book “Against His-Story, Against Leviathan”, a critical analysis of civilization. pdf here.

7. Humans constantly seek to resolve the psychological discomfort (cognitive dissonance) of holding contradictory beliefs or engaging in behavior contradictory to their values by adding elements to their justifications or by avoiding information and situations which may increase its magnitude.

 





Lonely Leviathan (You & I)


Fragrance of smoldering pyres
architecture consumed in vines1
Lonely Leviathan,2
that world-eater, waiting

Before humanity destroys itself
we'll find a way to melt between
space and time
The only thing beside the birds and trees
that will remain the same
is you and I

Nascent armies descending
vexed to nightmare,3
she's screaming somewhere

 

^TOP 

NOTES:

1. Imagining an abandonned tropical city some time in the future. See the Helicoide in Caracas, a modernist spiral pyramid originally designed to be a gigantic mall of the future, a monument to the excesses of global capitalism. Never finished, it was most recently used as a prison under Nicolás Maduro where political prisoners were (and likely still are) systematically tortured.

2. This song is partially inspired by Fredy Perlman's Against His-Story, Against Leviathan.

3. See the poem "The Second Coming" by Y.B. Yeats, quoted in part by Perlman in the epigraph to Against His-Story, Against Leviathan.

 




Skeletons Without Borders

Dethrone the sovereign of the skull1
disembodied from the soul
colonizer2 of your skeleton3
cease to desire
that great equalizer4
He who decides
who lives or dies
those Necropoliticized5

Oligarchs of euthanized truth
candidates can't canvass their tombs
At the border check6
who owns your skeleton?

And they’ve designed this Frankenstein7
of fortress border walls
Baby boomers with Cold War trauma

and their alarmist racist garbage8
beaten back by apocalypse9
it shows they're the real criminals
sinking boats10

Dethrone the sovereign of the skull
disembodied from the soul
colonizer of your skeleton
cease to desire
that great equalizer11
He who decides
who lives or dies
those Necropoliticized

Oligarchs of euthanized truth
candidates can't canvass their tombs
At the border check
who owns your skeleton?

 

 

 

 

^TOP 

NOTES:

1. See the universal use of skull symbolism.

2. Achille Mbembe states in this wide-ranging interview: "Colonisation is going on when the world we inhabit is understood as a vast field of data awaiting extraction."
Also see this essay: The Biopolitics of Settler Colonalism by Scott Lauria Morgensen

3. Foucault's term Biopower refers to the practice of modern nation states and their regulation of their subjects through "an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations".

4. In general, death is considered "the great equalizer". Side note: an article entitled Stop Calling Coronavirus “The Great Equalizer” addresses the fact that even pandemics do not affect everyone equally, as evidenced by the disproportionate death rate of Black Americans.

5. See Achille Mbembe's hallmark essay Necropolitics (Full text pdf). Necropolitics is the use of political power to determine how some people may live and some must die.

6. See article "We must resist death-dealing borders" subtitled: "Borders are not merely barriers to movement. As inscriptions of colonial projects and power, intended to spatialise race and racialise space, they must be contested and rethought."

7. See article "What Frankenstein means now" by Jack Stilgoe for a quick look at some of the connections between Shelly's Frankenstein and bioethics.

8. There are countless references here for the rise in xenophobic rhetoric in the last decade as evidenced by the growth of nationalist parties. A slightly more historical example is Enoch Powell's 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech. In an alarming development, Eric Clapton, a white musician who had made his fortune copying Black Delta Blues singers, went on an extended tirade against "wogs" and "coons" live on stage in 1976.

9. The line "war beaten back by apocalypse" is lifted from Susan Sontag's excellent essay "Regarding the Pain of Others"

10. See video of Greek coastguard shooting at raft of refugees

11. Also see Danse Macabre.

 




Suicided

The dead hand1 of the state
phantom limb2 controlled doom
decide to self-immolate3
only way to make the headlines

Face of God in the sky
smoke of smoldering truth
that daily eternal life
incantations for the bread lines

Cuz genocide is in denial
while it's sleeping with you4
and misery is only canonized
when it's in your rear view
but oh it's all around you child...

(Who)5 Set themselves alight
(Who) claiming something
that the world denied them6
(Who) sticks and broken bones
(Who) a life of prostration
(Who) seemed to offer less than suicide did
it seemed to offer less than suicide did

When you hear "improvise",
what image springs to your view?
An explosive device, culminating in a
red night?

Got the youth mobilized
and killing softly ain't new
a crowded market place aisle
perfect place to air their brains, right?7

Cuz ideology is probably
all that's strapped onto you
and all that martyrdom8 will get you
is all over the room
oh, and the suffering just continues like...

(Who) Cannon fodder for
(Who) a never ending off-shore doom deposit9
(Who) what's the difference between
(Who) war and terror regimes
(Who) when both manipulate
the youth to fight it
yeah both manipulate the suicidal

Cuz war and terror are the bearers
of the same strange fruit10
Only disparity is budgetary, tantamount to
a mom & pop vs. a corporation killing you

(Who) Under Lockheed11 key
(Who) Konsumterror12 is the new messiah
(Who) blood and gasoline13
(Who) petrol refugees14 (Who) the world has finally murder-suicided

(Who) Cannon fodder for
(Who) a never ending off-shore doom deposit
(Who) what's the difference between
(Who) war and terror
when it's you who is dying
and they've finally murder-suicided
the world has finally murder-suicided

^TOP 

NOTES:

1. Dead hand is the ever-present, oppressive influence of past events. Dead Hand was also a fail-deadly automatic nuclear control system used by the USSR.

2. A phantom limb is the sensation that a missing limb is still attached.

3. Self-immolation is the extreme form of protest in which the person sets themself on fire. Thích Quảng Đức famously self-immolated in Saigon in 1963 in protest of the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. Oral accounts say that they saw the face of God in the sky that day.

4. See The Ten Stages of Genocide

5. The "Who" motif of the song is a tribute to Amiri Baraka's "Somebody Blew Up America". Highly recommended reading.

6. Street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in Tunisia in 2011 was part of what lead the the Arab Spring uprising. His action was in response to incessant harassment and humiliation by local authorities.

7. See this insightful article Understanding the Suicide Bomber by Noam Shpance in Psychology Today.

8. See Christopher Hitchens' take on suicide and martyrdom.

9. For just one example see military contractor Haliburton subsidiary KRB's use of Cayman Island shell companies to avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes on income they made during the Iraq War.

10. See Strange Fruit, one of the most important songs of the 20th century, popularized by Billie Holiday in 1939 and covered by Nina Simone in 1965. Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry J. Anslinger famously targeted Holiday as part of his explicitly racist campaign against drug use. She was handcuffed to her deathbed by his agents.

11. Lockheed Martin and similar companies not only profit immensely from war and invasions, but actively lobby for it. For example, in 2010 the defense industry gave $22.6 million to congressional candidates and spent $144 on lobbying. See war profiteering and the military industrial complex.

12. Konsumterror is a German term with no English cognate but which roughly refers to the intense pressures of consumer society, often embodied as a fear that one is missing out by not buying something.

13. See article “Blood for Oil” Is Official U.S. Policy Now

14. See Environmental migration and the Resource curse


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sanguinary

Bracing for the marching soldiers
the village tries to catch its breath
The killing machine has a gender1
can't you smell him digging ditches,
dishing out death

When pulling bodies from the rubble
please don't accept that fate's to blame
Those murky forces that torment you
have a face, a mother, father and a last name.2

How long will the undecided
keep company with death?
And how can this unearned freedom from dread3
still pass for enlightenment?
Zip-tied to the chair of survival
or in the car trunk of government4
Do you wanna be part of the crime
or part of the punishment?5

Days so very sanguinary
brings me to my knees
the ground that we're sleeping on
made of mutilated bodies of war

Q: And babies?
A: And babies.6
If it bleeds it leads!7
In the name of napalm8
let's spin another massacre yarn9
and take the last plane home

If you return what fate awaits you?
A ticker tape? A movie scene?
Why don't you go ask the homeless
about a hero's welcome –
veterans make up one in three10

They'll leave you to your brand new demons
abandoned in PTSD
Wishing for a time machine
to talk yourself out of enlisting
back in nineteen
39
1962
1993
Funny how the past
has a way of catching up with you.

How high can we pile civilians11
til the noose is around the drone?12
Your own son, just another skull
on the spike of a known unknown13
How can they eat their dinner so calmly when there's brains splattered across the room
Yeah they keep talking
and pretend that they'll knight you
with the sword that they run you through

Days so very sanguinary
brings me to my knees
the ground that we're sleeping on
made of mutilated bodies of war

Q: And babies?
A: And babies.
If it bleeds it leads!
In the name of napalm
let's spin another massacre yarn
and take the last plane home

^TOP 

NOTES:

1. "...the killing machine has a gender, and it is male." is lifted from Susan Sontag's essay "Regarding the Pain of Others"

2. This stanza is adapted from Bertolt Brecht's poetic visual and lyrical attack on war under modern capitalism War Primer (full pdf), written during WWII.

3. "...unearned freedom from dread" is borrowed from Greil Marcus' essay on Punk and The Clash.

4. This highly questionable character explains how to break out of both zip ties and a car trunk.

5. This line is attributed to The Mekons in Greil Marcus' excellent collection of essays In The Fascist Bathroom, Punk in Pop Music 1997-1992, but there's no documentation of it online.

6. From the famous Anti-Vietnam War poster designed by the Art Workers Coalition which featured a line from a TV interview with private Paul Meadlo who participated in the Mỹ Lai Massacre:

Q. So you fired something like sixty-seven shots?
A. Right.
Q. And you killed how many? At that time?
A. Well, I fired them automatic, so you can't – You just spray the area on them and so you can’t know how many you killed ‘cause they were going fast. So I might have killed ten or fifteen of them.
Q. Men, women, and children?
A. Men, women, and children.
Q. And babies?
A. And babies.

7. The news media axiom which designates sensationalized violence as headline-worthy. The supplemental axiom is "if it thinks, it stinks".

8. See the story of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, often referred to as "the napalm girl", who was photographed running naked and badly burned after a South Vietnamese napalm attack in 1972. The image became an iconic represenation of the horrors of the Vietnam War. As an adult she started a foundation to assist child victims of war.

9. Again, a line from Susan Sontag's essays on war photography.

10. Statistics on homelessness are always approximate due to the precarious and transient nature of those being counted. By most estimates US war veterans make up between 9-15% of the US homeless population in a given year, though some estimates are much higher.

11. See statistics from Action on Armed Violence.

12. For example, see this incredible interactive timeline documenting drone strikes and their casualties in Pakistan from 2004-2015.

13. See then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's famous "Known knowns" answer to a question about the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction whose supposed existence was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in which half a million Iraqis died, and which later led to the rise of ISIS in the resulting power vacuum.