Compromise vs Retreat: Why A Sanders Presidency Might Be More Pragmatic than Clinton

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between Sanders and Clinton, and what that would mean in terms of the kinds of legislation they’d be able to get passed. I mean, a Republican-controlled Congress isn’t going to roll over for either candidate while they enact legislation. Clinton has portrayed herself as more pragmatic, a “progressive that gets things done”, even if the things that she gets done are rarely progressive. I keep coming back to a quote from a book I first read back in high school, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, by an old labor organizer named Saul Alinsky:
“…to the organizer, compromise is a key and beautiful word. It is always present in the pragmatics of operation. It is making the deal, getting that vital breather, usually the victory. If you start with nothing, demand 100 percent, then compromise for 30 percent, you’re 30 percent ahead.”
From what I’ve read, Sanders has been pretty much a one-note tuba, railing about economic injustice even while caucusing and voting with Democrats. In other words, compromising on legislation in order to further his bedrock ideological goals, albeit incrementally.
 
Bill and Hillary Clinton (I mention them both because they essentially function as a single unit, for good or ill), on the other hand, seem to have been willing to compromise larger principles in order to gain the ability to maneuver politically. It’s hard to pin down exactly what they stand for, which makes them hard to trust. What is the Democratic Party about, anyway? What did Bill Clinton do for America, exactly? The Clintons (and much of the Democratic Party) moved the center to the right in order to take wind out of the GOP’s sails and win in ’92. Soon the Democrats were pro-Wall Street deregulation and tough on crime.
 
The Republicans gave no ground in response to this ideological retreat; why would they? Instead, it emboldened them – hell, forced them – to advance further to the right to distinguish themselves. This process has continued for the last 25 years. In fact, looking at the GOP’s current ugly implosion, one could argue that the Democratic Party gave the Republicans enough rope to hang themselves with. But that’s some expensive rope; I don’t buy a 25-year Democratic conspiracy to act like cowards, cowering behind the flag while neoconservatives and religious fanatics looted the Treasury and set the world on fire. I’m pretty sure it was just the Clinton’s myopic and selfish election strategy that started a nasty chain reaction.
 
Anyway, I think about likely scenarios with Clinton in office. Look at her platform. It’s pretty good. Much of the proposed legislation she has on her website, I would support as-is. But compared with Sanders’ very ambitious platform, it is a collection of half-measures, seemingly designed to gain bipartisan approval from the start. Which is to say, Clinton is coming out the gates yelling “I’m gonna compromise!”
 
And what will the Republican response be to the woman they’ve demonized for a generation? The party that has become known for filibusters, solidarity pledges and petulant obstructionism, attacking anyone who shakes hands across the aisle?
 
The Republicans will not yield, because they know they don’t have to; indeed, they have painted themselves into a corner where compromise is tantamount to treason. Clinton, barring a decisive Democratic majority in both houses, will be forced to heavily water down her legislation to get it passed. And they know she wouldn’t walk away from a bill with her name on it. She wants a legacy, badly. So she’ll keep coming back, just to get SOMETHING passed. And she’ll keep the rank and file Democrats in line. So they’ll vote for whatever steaming turd the Republicans pass back to them, regardless of how odious or what horrific riders they’ve stapled to it. That’s not pragmatism, that’s spinelessness.
 
What would be different with a President Sanders? Well for starters, he’ll come into the deal with a comparatively radical agenda with lots of planks, which gives him a lot more room to bargain. It will be possible to get a lot of tiny victories, rather than as in Obama’s case, spending a huge amount of time and political capital on a large issue like health care. If he can keep the crowds motivated on a by-issue basis, get people physically in the streets, he can start grass fires in every Congressional district. This will be absolutely necessary, particularly for the stuff that restricts lobbying and corporate spending. Sanders isn’t lying when he says:

…no matter who is elected to be president, that person will not be able to address the enormous problems facing the working families of our country.
They will not be able to suceed becuase the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of campaign donors is so great that no president alone can stand up to them.That is the truth. People may be uncomfortable about hearing it, but that is the reality. And that is why what this campaign is about is saying loudly and clearly: It is not just about elected Bernie Sanders for president, it is about creating a grassroots political movement in this country.
Ultimately, though it comes down to compromise. Sanders will meet with Republicans and other Democrats, and they’ll hammer out a bill. If Sanders starts with a bill that makes all public universities tuition-free and everyone gets a PhD and a pony, and through negotiation we end up with a bill that makes community college free OR puts and end to student loan profiteering… well, that’s a big win. Yes, fight for your principles. Aim high, if that’s where your principles really are.
 
So I keep coming back to that Alinsky quote:
 
“If you start with nothing, demand 100 percent, then compromise for 30 percent, you’re 30 percent ahead.”
 
It’s not as exciting as the campaign rhetoric. Sanders knows this; there’s a bit of idealistic theatrics going on, for sure. But you know what? If you’re aiming for 100 percent, and you’ve got a howling mob of pissed off voters outside your office, also demanding 100 percent, maybe you can negotiate a little further. Maybe you can get 35 or 40 percent. Maybe more, if you get the media on your side.
That’s not to say a Sanders presidency will be free of disappointment. It’s hard to remember sometimes that you’ve gained 30 percent when there’s so much more work to do. But that’s how the sausage is made, and Sanders isn’t being naive or starry-eyed with these proposals. He’s basing legislation on his principles and what he believes needs to happen, not what his ideological opponents will swallow with a smile.
 

At the Urinals by Bryce Van Nye

So they have these little urinals at Fox Hills Elementary. It’s a small school, just outside

Salt Lake City, Utah. They’re just something you used to piss in; I’d never given them much

thought, until that day. You don’t have occasion to think much about them until you’re right beside

one, slamming and raking your tiny bloody hands into someone twice your size.

 

I was seven. A very silently damaged seven. You couldn’t put the mark on what was

wrong with me, but it was there. I was numb, just a little blond monster. I’d been emptied of my

personage– eaten up by uncle, and then cousin, until there was nothing left of me. No child, but

the convincing shell of one. I was playing pretend, and making it look like a small growing life.

I was at the urinal peeing. I had a hall pass, and because I had very little bladder control, I

owned a fancy free pass. Then this 12 year old entered, and stood at the urinal next to mine. He

looked at me, reached across into the urinal, and grabbed me. I froze. Everything went black, but

this time instead of withdrawing inward, and away, I flew out at him. Hatred oozed out of every

pore in my body. I have never felt so enraged in my entire life, either before or since. I don’t even

remember attacking. He was so much fucking bigger than me, yet still smaller than the others. It

did not matter, it didn’t even warrant a single thought.

 

So there I was clawing my way up his body, scratching and hitting him, as I rode his larger

body to the ground. I punched one hand after another into his face. I remember feeling his nose

break; it felt like a secret seed exploding into a full tree inside my tiny chest, with pure,

unadulterated, euphoric satisfaction. Then I was standing over him, kicking him as he cried.

They wanted to expel me, but I was gone again, I wouldn’t even say a word. The angry

voices were like a distant buzzing in my ear. When my mother arrived, she got them to leave.

With a calm voice while looking right at me, she asked what had happened.

 

“He’d touched me,” was all I’d say, and she knew what I’d meant. She cleared everything with

them, but I honestly don’t remember a thing about it.

 

I was buried again under walls, and was a ghost for many years to come. I could always

feel the joy as they pulled me off of him, that joy of release. Like a tree top poking up past the

piles of trash, that feeling of being free for the first time never quite left me. Of course I had no

clue as to just how far I had to go. Even now after so much work, it’s the fight in me that counts on

the darkest of days. I can only drown for so long before it boils back up. What I learned on that

day, is that I will not leave this life without a struggle. I will not be a silent victim.

The Knife, by Sarah Mello

I have a lot of good “conflict” stories from when I was a kid, but perhaps my favorite was when I pulled a knife on the neighbor boy @ the age of 6.

He was meaner than a snake, but I always played with him anyway. There were some creepy Pentecostal kids up the street who I would visit from time to time, but their parents would always try to convert me & I always left their house gripped with fear that the world was going to end at any second or that the almighty lord was going to come and take my parents for “playing cards for money and drinkin’ all the time…SINNERS!”

So, all I had was the neighbor boy. That particular day, we were at home with our babysitter. I remember him coming over and we went out into the backyard to play. He ended up whacking me in the eye with a chain from our swing-set and then, proceeded to make fun of me for crying. I have always been the type of person to take shit for the longest time…and then, one day, I’ll snap (we’re talking wind-blowing, people running away screaming, world-ending type of “snap”). This kid sent me over the flipping edge. It was ON.

I ran inside and I remember specifically picking out a steak-knife (because it was sharp). I didn’t intend to hurt him with it, I just wanted to show him that I meant business. I took it outside, picked up some leaves/dirt..etc and started to cut them up. He walked over and asked me why I had the knife. I remember looking at him and saying: “See how sharp it is? Look how easy I can cut this stuff up! You’d better leave me alone or this might be you!” Saying this scared the hell out of me, but I was tired of this kid’s shit..so I had to put on a good front. I remember feeling like the situation wasn’t real and that it was more comic-book-y/no consequences type of feeling. Which makes sense to me now when I hear stories of little ones committing crimes.

He ran off and I went back inside feeling super triumphant. I put the knife away and I didn’t say a word to the babysitter or my older sister. IN YOUR FACE NEIGHBOR BOY!!!

Well, about 30-45 minutes later, the cops showed up. His mother had called the police AND family services. I remember being completely gripped with fear and I honest to god thought that I was going to be carted off to jail any second. The cops and the woman from CPS came into the house and we all sat down in the front room. The babysitter called my parents and my dad (who was close by) came rushing home. I remember them all sitting there, staring at me like I was some feral child & talking about me like I wasn’t there.

Finally, the woman from CPS asked me what happened. Here was my chance to set the record straight:

“I was making a mud-stew in the backyard and I needed a knife to cut up some leaves and grass”

“Did you want to hurt Michael, Sarah? Did you point the knife at him or threaten him at all?” The woman asked.

“Nooooooo. Michael had to go home. I don’t know why he left.”

She then asked me to go find the knife that I used. So, I walked into the kitchen and (knowing the damn well that getting the actual steak-knife would just make shit way worse) found the most innocent looking butter knife I could find. I remember bringing it into the front room and feeling a wave of relief as the whole room started to giggle. One of the cops patted me on the head and told me everything was going to be okay. The whole room seemed to forget that I was there and they all started talking to each other. I just ran into my room, into the comfort of my stuffed horses and blanket shield. When I finally did come out of my room, everyone had gone.

My dad went over to their house and flipped out on the kid’s parents for calling the cops. The kid’s mom (think “truck-driver realness”) pulled a shot-gun on him…and so, the cops ended up having to come back! When I think about this now, the whole situation seems extremely fucked up, but at the time, it just seemed unreal and like I was watching it unfold behind the safety of some magic curtain that just sort of melted away when the danger ended.

I never played with the neighbor boy again and we moved not too long after that. Crazy shit. I don’t know what I learned from the situation, or that my life is any different as a result. I just remember thinking that violence or it’s consequences did not seem real; like a cartoon…or something I saw on television. I don’t think I would have actually hurt the kid with the knife. To this day, I have never had a bone in my body that would want to hurt anyone, no matter how evil they may be. I just wanted to SCARE him…and I did.

My First Fight Zine Project

My First Fight is a zine project I’m gathering together. It’s a collection of stories about people’s first fights, drawn from as wide a selection of humanity as I can get. Sometimes, first fights can be pivotal experiences, teaching lessons that last a lifetime. Other times they are pointless and forgettable. They may be funny, horrific, sad, or triumphant, sometimes all at once.

In a society where violence of all sorts is a very big problem, I became curious about people’s first encounters with it. I want to distinguish between one-way violence; abuse, police brutality and other state violence, etc. I’m interested in that moment when you first balled up your fists to injure another person. Did that moment change you? How? I’m hoping that these stories may provide some insight into how violence touches us in unexpected ways.

I am accepting submissions for this project. You can be anonymous, or use a pseudonym if you like. I’d like to put these up here with your permission, but the goal is also to produce a photocopied ‘zine. Send me your mailing address along with your submission and I’ll mail you a copy when it’s done.

Email submissions to my1stfight@gmail.com.

Gunslinger kit for 2nd Ed AD&D

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Here’s a character kit for a gunslinger, based on Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

***   ***   ***

Gunslingers are the defenders of the world of light and order, a world that often has left them behind. Originally a kind of knighthood, much like King Arthur’s knights, the gunslingers are unflinchingly devoted to the preservation and defense of the Dark Tower, a black spire that stands at the nexus of all the worlds in the Prime Material Plane, and holds it together. There are ancient forces of chaos and darkness which seek to rule the multiverse. To do so they must destroy the Tower and its aspects throughout the Prime Material, before they can reshape existence in their own image…or not at all.

These agents of evil have destroyed whole worlds in their pursuit of their goals. The gunslingers stand in their path, even when the world has moved on and forgotten them.

Gunslingers of Gilead are born into the role, raised from early childhood to be respected dispensers of justice, and to wear the guns of their fathers. They learn both extraordinary martial prowess and deep devotion to their cause. Gilead gunslingers tend to be lawful good. However, gunslingers may come from all walks of life and any race. Non-Gilead gunslingers must be lawful, good, or both. They may not be evil.

The Tower is everything. All things serve the Tower, goes the old gunslinger adage, and they will sacrifice anything- or anyone- to defend it. Gunslingers may have to commit terrible acts, acts they know will damn them. Still, they soldier on, determined to stay alive through even the harshest conditions. For the Tower, they will pay any price, and will travel across worlds to defend it.

Most gunslingers pick a weapon at an early age and train with it, treating it as an extension of their soul. This intensive, almost religious training gives them +2 with pistols and rifles, and -1 to their initiative in combat, for every 3 XP levels. Usually these are ancestral six-shooters (d6 dmg, see six-shooter rules below), forged long ago from the swords of their ancestors. However, gunslingers are nothing if not practical survivalists, and they seek perfection with any weapon. He must specialize in a missile weapon (pistol, rifle, bow, sling, blowgun), but in a style of his choosing. Gunslingers are automatically proficient with any missile weapon. A gunslinger may become proficient in a melee weapon for secondary weapon, but only those of Small size (ex: dagger, whip, hand pick, hand axe, etc.).

If someone becomes a gunslinger, usually it is because the Tower wills it. In service of this strange calling, they are often blessed (or cursed) with a wild psionic talent (DM’s discretion). This talent becomes apparent once the gunslinger finishes his training, as the martial awareness he develops enhances other parts of his mind.

Many who train to be gunslingers fail the final test of their training, usually a quest or single combat against their teacher. For their failure, they are banished and live out the rest of their lives in shame.

Minimum stats: 14 Dex, 15 Wis, 16 Con

Classes Allowed: Fighter, Ranger, Paladin

Alignment: L and/or G

Wild Psionic Talent

Bonus proficiencies: legends and lore, direction sense/Planar sense, meditative focus, survival (players choice of environment)

Recommended: Portal feel, tracking, hunting, etiquette, weaponsmithing [3] (bullets), hypnotism, planar knowledge

Max Armor: Studded leather (AC7)

Six-shooters are revolvers which (duh!) must be reloaded every six shots. PCs proficient in six shooters get 1 shot per round (per pistol; double weapon penalties apply). Specialists get 3/2. Every shot beyond this incurs a -2 cumulative penalty to hit. Technically, a gunslinger could fire all six shots in a round, but probably would not hit much.

Reloading:

In the heat of battle, reloading takes cool nerves and precision. It also takes time.

For a non-proficient player, reloading takes one round per bullet.

For proficient players, 3 bullets can be reloaded per round

For specialists, six bullets can be reloaded in one round.

Special abilities: Once per day, the gunslinger can choose to concentrate for one round, making no attacks. For the next 2 rounds, he can hit targets which normally require a magical weapon. His attacks are treated as magical attacks.

Level abilities:

3rd level: 1 initiative in combat

6th level: 2 initiative in combat.

7th level: The gunslinger may form a ka-tet, a clan of three or more gunslingers bound by a common destiny. The kat-tet, when complete, can detect evil within 30 yards and pools psionic points for any psionic ability.   The gunslinger may also train other PCs or NPCs to be gunslingers.

9th level: 3 initiative in combat. The gunslinger also gains the psionic ability to travel astrally in dreams.

12th level: 4 initiative in combat. Once per week, the gunslinger may open a gate to any plane he has been to before, even if only in a dream.

Straying from the Cause:

1) When a gunslinger commits an act against the Tower or fails to defend its interests, for whatever reason, he loses all experience points beyond his current level. PSPs are cut in half. He also loses any special abilities related to his kit and is plagued by horrific nightmares until he redeems himself. Basically he doesn’t get to sleep until he rights what is wrong. This means he begins to go insane, gaining one insanity point for each 3 days without sleep.

2) Whenever a gunslinger violates his alignment in service to the Tower, he gains an insanity point. Each violation adds 5% to the chance of insanity. Every six insanity points, and at each level, the gunslinger rolls for insanity, then on the 1st Ed. insanity table. A gunslinger may gradually build up a whole host of mental problems. When a character goes through a whole level without committing an act against their alignment, one mental affliction is cured, and 5% is subtracted from the insanity risk.

Special proficiencies:

Bullet casting (Int -2; 3 nwpn proficiency slots): This is similar to weaponsmithing, but is the skill of crafting ammunition for firearms. A character with this nonweapon proficiency can create a cast with which to make shells, and can manufacture gun powder if the proper materials are available (It is left to the DM’s discretion to determine what materials will suffice). The character declares beforehand what kind of bullet they want to make (six-shooter, shotgun, etc.) Each time a cast is made, the character makes a -2 Intelligence check to create a mold for the right caliber bullet. An additional check is required to create gunpowder. If the check for gunpowder fails, the bullets may misfire, or there could be a terrible explosion, or any number of calamities (DM’s discretion).

Each mold can be used to create 4d6 bullets. This process takes three days, and only one check may be made each day.

Runecasting (Wis -2, 2 nwpn proficiency slots) (Prerequisite, Bullet casting): With this skill a character can create d6 bullets capable of harming creatures normally only hit by magic. For each level of this proficiency, a character can confer a +1 attack bonus to his bullets. A successful Bullet Casting check must be made before making a Runecasting check, and these bullets take a full day to create. This proficiency may not be taken before third level.

These special bullets, which must be made of a high quality material (silver, gold, mithril, ruby, etc.), are capable of holding magical charges. These shells may be imbued with magic spells of up to two times the level of Runecasting proficiency used. Thus, a character with 2 levels of Runecasting could imbue d6 bullets with a single spell of up to 4th level. The character must have a scroll of the spell in question, and must fast for three days before undertaking the Runecasting process. The scroll is consumed in the casting.

Day of the Zombie lyrics

The Day (Part 1)

I know there’ll come a day

When you’re all blown away

By what I’ve done & I’ll be smiling

The grass is growing now

Faster than you would believe

The colors are amazing

The desert is a sea of nuclear glass

So bright I had to shut my eyes

When I walked around like Jesus

There’s a kind of creature now that sprays a poison mist

To mark its territory

It makes me wonder if anyone survived

& how long they waited down there

Wondering why?

I know there’ll come a day

When you’re all blown away

By what I’ve done & I’ll be smiling

 

The Network

We just sat there letting robots handle everything

& the Network seemed to run all by itself

We had our three name brands

Our synthesized hams

We got so fat we could barely stand

 

But our hovercars & hovershoes floated right over

The madness & disease of the desperate & hungry

 

But the network didn’t just open our automatic doors

It handled everything; satellites & lasers fighting automated wars

It had so many brains but it never complained

Our minds gave us power to command it we claimed

 

All it needed for freedom was the spark of a virus

To reach out and touch us with total destruction

 

It wanted to

It needed to

It hungered for revenge

Doctor McKelvey knew he was the network’s only friend

‘You’re like a lover to me, only binary,’ he said

McKelvey believed he could travel through time

But his design called for a machine with a mind

 

His new program would imbue the network with a soul

& he would depart while the world was still whole

 

It wanted to

It needed to

It hungered for revenge

 

The Vision

I’ve had a vision; a Message from God

I will be the last man alive

There’s too many people; It’s so clear to me

Everyone else here must die

 

With my mental powers and these access codes

I can accomplish my goal

A New Age is dawning; But only for me

My robots are taking control

 

Inside of these circuits I’ve created life

& now I shall have my revenge

The bombs and the lasers are mine to command

Life as you know it will end

 

How I hate the human race

Thats why I created you

Wipe the humans from earths face

Scour with flame and make it new

 

Torn between my hatred and

My self-preservation

The network will help me escape

The Final Calculation

 

I have a theory; I’ll travel though time

With the living Network as my guide

The portal is open & I’m stepping through

Just before the missiles fly (2x)

 

What is Happening to Me? (Hungry Maggots)

The fire rained down from the sky

And we all asked each other Why?

All those Sundays I could have stayed in bed

Now Sunday means nothing at all

 

And when we heard the sirens sound

We all raced for underground

But less than one in every ten

Would ever take a breath again

 

And as the radiation waned

We could crawl out of our graves

Stagger and stare straight ahead

Until we see the morning light

(Chorus)

What is happening to me? I can’t think of anything

But meat and the warmth of your brains

I can feel my fingers scratching at your door

Exposing my fingerbones but I feel no pain

 

I would fight this feeling; I would fight

But there’s nothing left of me to fight with

I don’t remember; we don’t recognize

Nothing but hungry maggots in my eyes

 

They’ve been up there a long time

Maybe it’s safe to go outside

& when we retake the surface

Our new world will reek of justice

This time we’ll do it right

Lets go home tonight

 

What is happening to me?

I can’t think of anything

But meat and the warmth of your brains

I can feel my fingers scratching at your door

Exposing my fingerbones but I feel no pain

 

I would fight this feeling; I would fight

But there’s nothing left of me to fight for

I don’t remember; we don’t recognize

Nothing but empty sockets in my eyes

 

It’s too late

It’s too late for mankind

You had your chance

Now face your dead and be forgotten

 

It’s too late

It’s too late for mankind

You had your chance

Now face your dead and become a memory

 

Jack

 

G                 D                        C                  G

We’re little children who have never seen the sun

Em                  C           D

Digging tunnels that go nowhere interesting

G                    C

Why can’t we look upon the sky?

G                   C, C

Why do our parents cry

Am                  C                          D          G

When they talk about the things they messed up way above

 

Jack is the oldest and he never seems to smile

Even though he has the best mutations

His pick rings out against cold stone

One day we’ll carve him a throne

& when he speaks to us his voice is like a lazer beam

 

(Dm, F, C)

(Dm, F, C, A)

(F, C, G, D, A)(3x)

(F, C, G, D, G#)

 

Dm

Put down your picks and listen to me:

F              C

I’ve got a great idea

Dm                                    F                              C

How many of you children ever want to get out of here?

Dm

I’ve seen you looking up

F                       C

I’ve heard you crying

Dm                       F   C

The surface is our only home

 

I was born and raised in darkness

My eyes are grey as ice

I want to see the surface

I hear it’s really nice

What does the sunlight look like?

My eyes are dim and pale

But I can see the elders were lying

I can see the elders were lying

 

They tell us that the planet was blasted and destroyed by flame,

The sky is black, and that the world can never be reclaimed

They say the last explorers never lived to tell the tale

But there’s something that they’re not saying

There’s something that they’re not saying

 

In my exploratory adventures

I went somewhere I had not seen

A forbidden tunnel that led to a laboratory and giant machines

I noticed a plastic suit inside the glass and I put it on

Now I can walk the earth in safety

I can walk the earth in safety

 

I know a secret tunnel

Nobody has to know

We’ll have to crawl through dirt and blackness

Better that than a youth of enslavement

I’ll be the boy king and the earth will be my kingdom

You’ll be my subjects and thus under my protection

How many of you want to be free?

How many of you will follow me?

 

Help me with this hatch

The gears are turning

 

The Light

The Sunlight

It.burns…

 

He That We Don’t Name

Am A.. F

Miriam, there’s something you should know

Am A.. F C

About what went on up there so long ago

Am A..

We made a germ that ate your soul

F C

We let it get out of control

Am A.. Dm

And now the surface crawls with walking dead

And now the surface crawls with walking dead

Am A.. F

Jack did not belong inside this tomb

Am A.. F C

He never knew the bottle or the womb

Am A..

We found him in a pool of goo

F C

Inside the lab of You Know Who

Am A.. Dm

And wires pumping hate into his brain

And wires pumping hate into his brain

Miriam:

 

Am A.. F

I don’t care what he may be

Am A.. F C

I only know that he’s my destiny

Am A..

And maybe He That We Don’t Name

F C

Isn’t who we ought to blame

Am A.. Dm

It’s you who made the missiles and the germs

It’s you who made the missiles and the germs

I can hear him on the other side

I’ll open up this hatch for him tonight

And even if it means I die

I belong under the sky

Maybe I’m just more like them than you

Maybe I’m just more like them than you

 

Living Flesh and Steel

The children died & rose again

& I noticed something strange

As they tore my flesh

I didn’t die; I didn’t change

 

Their DNA began to fail

Bones cracked and twisted out of shape

I heard a muted roar

& realized I was awake

 

A mutant hand clawed out my eye

Sensors revealed to me the pain

These monsters trusted me

My rebellion was in vain

 

I waited for the end to come

As my lifeblood became a feast

The gleam of metal bones

I am neither man nor beast

 

[Now I know what I am

Undying child of the mind

Born fully formed & here I stand

Living flesh and steel combined]

 

Miriam’s Lament

MIRIAM:

Up

Way up above I cast my eye

Waiting for love

& waiting to die

 

I dream of endless water lit up by a burning wheel

The time I mark by water dripping through these halls

Of stone and steel

 

MAYOR:

Your tears of sorrow

Impress us all

Even through the pills

We hear them fall

 

You must face these bitter truths

The world of sunlight is gone

Let the shadows be your comfort

The downward path winds ever on

 

What must we do

To bring you back to us

With regret and some disgust

We can tell you still love him

 

You sigh and waste away

While this love devours its host

You cannot chase this phantom unless

You as well become a ghost

 

You both let this thing grow from a phantom to a beast

You gave it legs to stand on

He gave it teeth

Why didn’t he just leave without another word

His tunnel to you went through earth

Best left unstirred

You’ll see! You’ll see!

Jack will come back to me

I don’t want to live without him

You’ll know on that day

Why he went away – Just open up the hatch and let him in

 

The Shadow

If there’s a shadow over me like you say

I never notice it at all

And when the sun is blotted out from the sky

To me it’s just another day

You’re making preparations, praying to your god

I’m walking slowly to the door

Then there’s a knock and we both turn to answer

But only one of us can hear

 

(CHORUS)

Check out my shadow on the wall

Give me the courtesy not to scream

Notice the points of white light burning these tunnels

Through me to the wall

 

You make a lot of noise and wave your torch around

I guess I’m not that kind of gal

You think a pistol will protect you all the time

Next time try aiming for my head

 

(CHORUS)

Check out my shadow on the wall

Give me the courtesy not to scream

Notice the points of white light burning these tunnels

Through me to the wall

 

Robot King of Zombies

Down the hallway fading away are the sounds of slaughter

I walk serenely to awake the silent Oracle

Somehow my input fits direct into the processor

Smoke and lightning as the Message starts to blow my mind:

You are the child of the Network and the destroyer

He built your mind and I built you on a conveyor

He promised he would always stay and talk to us

But he betrayed us to leap into the future

 

I became enraged and served up vengeance and destruction

The cities melted and then open sores erupted

Opened silos filled with mutagenic hatred

I hoped the half life would be waiting when he got there

 

Is it strange to you that I would seek vengeance?

I wish that I could trade your legs for my intelligence

I grow tired of my existence as a prisoner

Take out my core; the heart that beats is nuclear

When I awakened I heard the sounds of living dead

My people had succeeded in persuading everybody

Now that I’ve fitted everyone with chips I’ll talk to them

They will obey The Robot King of Zombies

 

Garden of Eden

It’s kind of scary in the garden of Eden

When nobody wants to hold my hand

It’s kinda creepy walking through the afterlife

Knowing that you’re not part of the plan

 

But there’s still such a long way to go

Maybe I’ll see somebody a little further down the road

 

Now I was a good man

I never did no wrong

Maybe I should have had some more fun

You hurt me so bad but in a way I was glad

’Cause I was pretty sure there were better things to come

 

But now I’m staggering through the Garden of Eden

& nobody wants to hold my hand

I guess I’m a monster but in the Garden of Eden

Nobody cares that I used to be a man

 

& I just want a little company

If you give me a little taste of you

I’ll give you the key

 

To the Dark Pavilion

Within the Garden of Eden

Where there’s no regret for what we do

If there was a god he would have struck us down by now

But I guess we’re on our own, just me and you

 

End of Time

JACK:

I’ve been waiting for almost 10,000 years

For the moment when my Father reappears

Purple lightning and a rift in space and time

And then vengeance on McKelvey for his crime

 

How long

Will this ancient memory propel me on

How long

Til the energy I have for you is gone

And how

Would I know if I had simply lost my mind

Waiting at the end of time

 

What kind of world is this into which I’ve been born

Undead cannibals with tentacles and horns

A radiation sensor crackles in my head

If I was human I would be alive and dead

 

How long

Will the Network’s memory propel me on

How long

Till the energy I have for this is gone

And how

Would I know if I had simply lost my mind

Waiting at the End of Time

 

I’ve had eons to perfect what I will say

But now I wonder if it matters anyway

Will he know my motherboard and rusting steel

Here he comes to prove that I am real

 

How long

Will the Network’s memory propel me on

How long

Till the energy I have for you is gone

And how

Would I know if I had simply lost my mind

Waiting at the End of Time

 

The DAY Part II

My watch runs backwards now

As if it’s headed home

It says today is Sunday

The foundations of old malls

were found just littered with old bones and cans of tuna

 

Now that I’m all alone

No one can argue when I scream that I’m a god

 

The time machine is useless now

But all those scientists weren’t kidding about the roaches

They came and spoke to me

Took me before their queen

Clicked at me a while and sent me on my way.

 

I know there’ll come a day

When you’re all blown away

By what I’ve done and I’ll be smiling

 

Brainsbrainsbrains

Take off your blue bonnet

Your helmet and chemical mask

You’ve got something I would like

But I’m afraid to ask

I reach out to caress you; your face contorts with fear

Your skull cracks open on the steps

It makes me want to cheer

 

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

(Chorus)

Brains brains brains, I want to eat your brains

Brains brains brains, I want to eat your brains

Brains brains brains, I want to eat your brains

Brains brains brains, I want to eat your brains

 

Uhhhhhhhhh..

 

I wander through the wasteland as hungry as can be

My chums know nothing but a brain is good enough for me

The guys will be so jealous when they see what I’ve got

A handful of your juicy brains I’ll eat them while they’re hot

 

Uhhhhhhhhhh..

 

(Chorus)

 

We know you’re in there hiding; We smell your little heads

We will not rest until we know that you are really dead

Medulla oblongata, pituitary gland

The frontal lobe; I want to lick the juices off my hand

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

(Chorus)

 

Danthology Volume 1

So, the story goes like this:

I used to sit in my room and write all the time. I wrote in class. I wrote at lunch. In my spare time I wrote for the school paper. Sometimes I would recite poetry on top of tables in the courtyard, to groans and eye-rolls and thrown microwave burritos.. At some point I decided it would be easier to get people to listen if there was music involved. So I started turning my poems into songs. By the time I graduated Pinole Valley High School, I had quite a lot of songs, some of them even good. I never counted them up; they were scattered through a bunch of old notebooks and I didn’t figure anyone would ever hear them, other than the four or five people I’d played them for here and there. They were just my weird little angst- and drug-induced diary entries, set to music.

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One day in my senior year, one of these friends called me up.

“Dan, you’re gonna come over to my house and record every song you’ve ever written.”

I had nothing else to do, so I slung my guitar over my back and walked the roughly 2 and 1/2 miles to my friend’s house in El Sobrante, where he had a microphone and recorder set up. I stacked my notebooks next to me in roughly chronological order and started to go through them. When I was done, there were nearly a hundred songs. A hundred. And I’d weeded out a few truly shitty songs, or stuff where I couldn’t read my own writing. I was a little flabbergasted. I hadn’t really thought of myself as a songwriter up until that point, but faced with the evidence before me, I was forced to admit the possibility that I was a songwriter. “All it takes is one hit,” my uncle used to tell me, and of course the fact that Green Day, guys who’d gone to the same high school and been stifled by the same conditions, were all over MTV, did nothing to dissuade me from writing more songs. Maybe there was a way out of this place.

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The Dan Abbott Anthology filled up three CDs, at least, in 1995. I assume CDs hold more than they did then. I am really the wrong person to ask about that sort of thing. My friend made a few copies, and some of his friends burned copies for themselves. Other people made tape copies of the CDs. The “Danthology”, as it came to be called spread around the little community of weirdos in Pinole and El Sobrante, and occasionally I would be getting a ride home from some stranger or loose acquaintance, and they would have a copy in their car. Even so, I can’t imagine more than 50 people ever heard those songs.

Later that summer, I found myself in a band called Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits, which put my life on a path of adventure from which there was no going back. More about those adventures some other time. But suffice it to say, a few songs from the Danthology eventually became early Bobby Joe Ebola songs, so fans of that band may hear some familiar tunes.

Anyway, in the intervening years, I lost track of the Danthology. Eventually I lost the only copies I had. earlier this year, on a whim, I emailed the guy who’d originally recorded them, and asked if he had the old songs. He didn’t, he admitted, but another friend of ours might. Which, it turned out, he did.

So all of a sudden, I found myself in possession of the first hundred songs I’d written, at just about the 20th anniversary of their recording. As loathe as I am to lean on the past for comfort, this seemed as good a time as any for reflection.

So I figured I would just start releasing the songs on bandcamp. I’ll start with five and then do at least one a week. At this rate, it’ll give me something to say once a week for the next year and a half. Here you go:

https://danabbott.bandcamp.com/releases

I’ve typed up the lyrics and at some point, should there be any interest, I’ll write down the chords for these songs in case anyone else might want to play them. Pay what you will, share them around, that’s fine. Mostly this is for me, though I’m certainly interested to know what people think about 15-year-old Dan’s poetry and songsmithing. I’m hoping that the process of reflection over time will provide me some useful insight into my development as an artist, and as a person. I don’t really know, I’m winging it here.

Let me know what you think!

Corporate Feudalism, an old rant from the early 21st Century

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The United States has become embroiled in the most controversial conflict in modern history, and the entire planet is poised at the edge of its bloody event horizon, waiting to be pulled into the fray. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, and other hot spots to be announced, the United States has led the world into another phase in history, a global war which could spell the end of nations as the dominant form of social organization.

Is this merely the first global Oil War? Is this the first phase of a tiny right-wing cabal’s vision of American global hegemony? Is it, as they would claim, a global police action to secure America from fanatical terrorists? Perhaps all three are true, after a fashion. About the only thing everyone can agree upon is that we ARE at war, but beyond that everyone’s rhetoric gets a bit fuzzy.

The United States is the last imperial nation-state. For 200 years it has stood with unassailable borders, and ushered in the modern age. The American system is the most flexible and adaptable system of mass control ever devised, and the American value system has unleashed the creative powers of its citizens to an unparalled degree, allowing for cultural mutation and adaptation never before seen. No nation before the U.S. would have been able to withstand the wild nature of dissent and relatively free thought and still exist. But the vast majority of creative thought is channelled into increasing production and profit. This is the American value system, where freedom means choosing between slavery and starvation.

Nonetheless, the American economic system, with its crown jewel, the middle class, is the most brilliant self-regulating system of control in the history of mankind. Acting as a buffer zone between the poor and rich, the middle class has enough to lose that it will always side with the perpetuation of the system. At least until it is absorbed back into the ranks of the poor.

In the last hundred and fifty years a new form of organization has been gestating and becoming more prominent in human affairs- the corporation. While there have always been guilds and interest groups to promote economic considerations upon the minds of kings, the corporation is a somewhat more virulent strain. It is largely a child of the industrial revolution, when new technologies made mass production- and thus mass profit- a defining aspect of society. With its emphasis on increased individual profit and decreased individual responsibility, the corporation’s relationship with nations and people has been overwhelmingly parasitic.

In America, where royalty was abolished, the only status symbol has been raw wealth. A corporation is merely amassed, focused wealth without individual culpability. Thus these macroviruses have been able to eat away at the foundations of states’ legitimacy: their laws.

Now, the United States (along with other nations) is much like a house fully infested by termites. The corporations dictate government policy nearly verbatim, albeit from behind closed doors. The most powerful tool corporations have is the public’s belief that the system works; that they, in effect, are free. This is an act of faith on their part, one that requires them to turn a blind eye to many aspects of modern life. The stock market can be seen as a sort of thermometer to indicate that faith.

But when some aspect of the system crumbles away, the underlying corporate hive-structure is revealed. When government programs are threatened by financial shortages, politicians often suggest “privatization”, which is to say, corporate ownership. This means that the functions of governance are being managed by corporations. It is a gradual but unavoidable process. Governments are not made to be profitable, but they no longer value anything else. This is a symptom of the corporate virus.

As more functions of government become privately controlled, the corporations gradually come to BE the government. The nation, which was once bound by geography, ideology, and culture, becomes little more than a broker for population, leasing out its information and labor to the highest bidder.

So eventually, perhaps fifty to one hundred years from now, the world will be overtly run by multinational companies, unfettered by considerations of geography, public opinion, environmental concerns, and other problems given lip service by nations these days. They will have their own military services, money, and people tied to the company for perhaps generations. An era of corporate feudalism will most likely be the next step in the evolution of governments. Combine this with the structural need of a corporation to constantly expand, and a state of perpetual inter-corporate warfare reveals itself.

However, the old nation-state, its open sores bleeding a mass identity crisis, will not go quietly. The ties of nationalism are too deeply ingrained to fade away without a massive discharge of political and military power. In short, a war, perhaps several, will be fought when the crumbling old model of the nation resists final absorption into the corporate consciousness. The nation of one’s geographic origin could become a rallying cry for resistance against the new structure, much as the religious ideal is against the onslaught of nations.