Thursday, August 21, 2008

Odds and Sods: Leave the driving to us edition

In 1981, I ran away from home (haha, joke, I was 23 years old) and rode a Greyhound bus for three solid days, from Columbus, Ohio to San Francisco, CA (approx 2500 miles). It was one of the major turning points of my life.

The AA part of the story is that I promised myself: not a single sip of alcohol, NONE. NADA. ZIP.

I lasted until Cheyenne, Wyoming.

At this point in my journey, some nice ex-Vegas showgirl (obviously recognizing my increasing agitation for what it was) sympathetically and politely passed me some vodka in a Mountain Dew can. I remember that she was listening to Kenny Rogers' THE GAMBLER on her boombox, and I thought the song was just so apt as my accompaniment for falling off the wagon, yet again: I was gambling. I gambled frequently in those days. AA people would later compare it to playing with a loaded gun: just one sip. And yes, there I was on that Greyhound, unable to stop spinning the cylinder.

But I loved the trip, as only a young person could.

I also took long Greyhound bus trips in 1999 (1000 miles) and 2003 (700 miles), and the last one nearly did me in. Sitting on buses for long, long periods is actually painful after you develop arthritis and other aging issues. (Have you ever tried to SLEEP on one of those things?)

And so, I swore off the Greyhound, after I limped off the last one.

And now, Bamboo Blitz finalizes the decision for me, by reporting the following incident. Good Lord in HEAVEN!

40-year-old suspect held in gruesome Manitoba bus killing

Passenger decapitated, witnesses say; story contains graphic details

A 40-year-old man is in custody in Manitoba after a young man was stabbed — and, witnesses said, decapitated — aboard a Greyhound bus travelling through the province overnight.
[Passenger Garnet] Caton, the driver and a trucker who had stopped at the scene later boarded the vehicle to see if the victim was still alive.

"When we came back on the bus, it was visible at the end of the bus he was cutting the guy's head off and pretty much gutting him up," said Caton.

The attacker ran at them, Caton said, and they ran out of the bus, holding the door shut as he tried to slash at the trio.

When the attacker tried to drive the bus away, the driver disabled the vehicle, Caton said.

"While we were watching the door, he calmly walks up to the front with the head in his hand and the knife and just calmly stares at us and drops the head right in front of us," said Caton.

"They did an awesome thing, holding him in there, because if not, what would have happened?" said [Passenger Cody] Olmstead.
I can't believe this happened in Canada and not the USA. The next time the Canadians sneer at us for being trigger-happy, uncivilized brutes, we can sneer back and say "Does the word GREYHOUND mean anything to you?"


(Graphic at left from Radical Women.)

Winter writes a fabulous post titled What do I want? on TEXT AND THE WORLD:
A de-centring of the word “feminist” from actions/campaigns/events etc. in favour of re-formulation in terms of women’s rights/liberation. This should be rooted in an appreciation of the fact that a feminist identification is not possible (and perhaps not even desirable) for many women, but this does not mean that they are any less concerned about their rights.

A move away from protecting the identity and towards protecting the work -- whatever we call it. Feminism is not a religion and we shouldn’t be thinking in terms of conversion. If we do the work and we do it well, people will be inspired to join us. If people are not inspired to join us, then we need to work harder.

A general rejection of “I can’t work with anyone who disagrees with me on such-and-such an issue” or “”I don’t want to work with anyone who isn’t the right kind of feminist” type thinking. How privileged do you think you are if you can choose who you work with? Ok, there may be a few cases in which certain individuals working together would be impossible, but most people on the planet struggling against oppression do not have such luxury and in general I think we should get over ourselves.

Rigorous effort to ensure that no one type of person’s experience/positionality is being constantly centred, along with awareness that this will be hard and will require a heck of a lot more than lip service to achieve.

Actions/events/campaigns/discussions that result in something concrete. I don’t care whether it’s a zine, newsletter, leaflet, getting chained to some railings, invading your MPs office, just as long as it’s something tangible that has some kind of impact. Sitting around talking is enjoyable but what does it really achieve?
READ IT ALL, right now. (Winter also writes astutely about recent "feminist" attacks on Madonna, which you must also read immediately!)


OPEN LEFT educates us about DEAD ZONES worldwide. Yes, it's a depressing and scary phenomenon, as befits anything named after a Stephen King novel:
[Fertilizer] runoff from industrial agriculture and fossil-fuel use are causing catastrophic "dead zones" in our oceans, "killing large swaths of sea life and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage," according to Scientific American.

It's Agribiz vs. Aquabiz, and at the moment, the farmers are beating the waders off of the fishermen. Scientific American notes that "there are now 405 identified dead zones worldwide, up from 49 in the 1960s." And once a marine habitat falls victim to hypoxia, i.e. oxygen deficiency, the outlook is grim [...]
You are hereby ordered to read all of this, too. And you are also ordered to STOP EATING FISH and DEPLETING THE OCEANS, which I know you carnivores WON'T DO, but I will issue this executive order anyway.

But before I get too righteous in that direction, The Partial Muse provides us with the pertinent reminder of how goofy, obnoxious and even violent, some animal rights activists can be.

Existential note: The Middle Path, people, the Middle Path. Extremes will eat you up and spit you out! AVOID!


Left: Fired Up Creative Lounge, Asheville, NC.

And finally, an article titled Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization (which is of course why I saved it for last) has garnered an astounding 1560 (!) comments, over at the Adbusters site. The comments are as good as the article. I love to see people seriously engaging this topic. The article by Douglas Haddow is deliberately provocative:

[After] punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of “counter-culture” have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster.”

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.
With nothing to defend, uphold or even embrace, the idea of “hipsterdom” is left wide open for attack. And yet, it is this ironic lack of authenticity that has allowed hipsterdom to grow into a global phenomenon that is set to consume the very core of Western counterculture. Most critics make a point of attacking the hipster’s lack of individuality, but it is this stubborn obfuscation that distinguishes them from their predecessors, while allowing hipsterdom to easily blend in and mutate other social movements, sub-cultures and lifestyles.
The dance floor at a hipster party looks like it should be surrounded by quotation marks. While punk, disco and hip hop all had immersive, intimate and energetic dance styles that liberated the dancer from his/her mental states – be it the head-spinning b-boy or violent thrashings of a live punk show – the hipster has more of a joke dance. A faux shrug shuffle that mocks the very idea of dancing or, at its best, illustrates a non-committal fear of expression typified in a weird twitch/ironic twist. The dancers are too self-aware to let themselves feel any form of liberation; they shuffle along, shrugging themselves into oblivion.

Speaking of decapitation, several of the comments seem to be unapologetically demanding the head of Douglas Haddow:

Again the disdain for anysort of "movement" or "anti-movement" is shat upon by a fool who denies being apart of the very thing he wishes to be.
No, they don't have the solutions, the answers, but at least they don't pretend they do. Hipsters, then, are the great barricade, the strikers that will not be moved. No, we're not making specific demands for employee benifits (we know that doesn't get us as far as we really wanna go). So, call it the forming of an army via blog, an international coke-disco V.I.P. list for future e-mails to be sent.

Call it what you want, but please don't waste another tank of natural gas insulting another harmless part of culture where the real criminals go un-blamed.
One of his points was, hipsters are harmful BECAUSE they're harmless. Every other subculture in history has had something to say - even emo kids!

My favorite part of your post was where you tell him to stop insulting your culture because you have no voice. Even better, if you distrust the revolutionaries so much and their worldview is so 'skewed' - why not do it yourself instead of being a slave to whatever mass media tells you?

Conformity is not a culture. Ignorance is not strength. Slavery is not freedom, despite what you see on TV.
This is some great conversation, highly recommended!


*For non-baby-boomers, the title of this post is from the famous Greyhound bus advertising slogan of the 50s and 60s (possibly even through the 70s?). My newest TV addiction, MAD MEN, has me remembering all the innovative advertising of the era. (See #54 here.)

Listening to: The Breeders - We're Gonna Rise
via FoxyTunes


white rabbit said...

The reference to Douglas Haddow stopped me dead. Years and years ago I bought an original watercolour by a Scottish artist called Douglas Haddow. I'm looking at it hanging on the wall now. Could it be the same guy? Maybe life is too short to work this one out ;)

Daisy said...

WR, don't think so, this guy is Canadian. But check this out, the nasty comments about his Adbusters article have spilled over onto his web page at The Aesthetic Poetic!

Hipsters gonna eat him for breakfast! Growl, bark, snappppp!!

Tracey said...

You were a Columbus girl?! That's where I live!

Daisy said...

Yes, born and raised there. I moved to the south permanently at age 29.

JoJo said...

"Go Greyhound! And leave the driving to us!" Oh yeah, I remember that slogan. I took a wretched trip from Yonkers, NY to Cape Cod. Smelly, wretched, weirdos...this was in 1986. A normal 4 hour drive, turned into 8 as we wound our way thru residential streets of CT, on the way to Hartford. I vowed NEVER AGAIN!

Heard about that beheading a week or so ago. Greyhound spent a bunch of $$ on new ads, that said, "no one's ever heard of bus-rage". Then that guy goes nuts on a bus.

I think you need to take Mr. Daisy to SF. Yes, it's changed and yes, it's hard to see the way it's changed. It's one of the reasons I've avoided going back since we moved, but I'm glad I did.

What's an "emo kid"???

Daisy said...

Emo kid: Urban dictionary

The best prototype in popular culture might be the Ally Sheedy character in the John Hughes movie THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

My daughter had this patch on her punk hoodie during high school: Cheer up emo kid. (I think that might have been a song title, too?)
ho0w to spot an emo kid

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

But wait -- how did this attack happen? I can totally picture all the passengers sitting and acting like nothing was happening the whole time...

eclexia said...

meh. I'm not a fan of most emo, it's punk without the unf and tends to be a bit annoying to me... but I dislike how they are made fun of (It reminds me of how the same basic stereotypes were heaped on the goths)

I've never been fond of the hipsters myself, I find them far too caught up in their image to enjoy their presence too much, but that may be my prejudice as much as any reality. I'm sure there are people in that group that I'd enjoy as much as any group.

I've recovered from my most (warning: loud) angry and most destructive tendencies, but I still feel like I am the other side of the cultural coin from the hipsters... Function over form, and meaning over irony...

Either that, or I've got a distorted self-image. Feel free to speculate on which is more likely ;)