Thursday, October 29, 2009


started with hammers and we moved to spears
each step punctuated with fear
we went from gunpowder to wiping this whole planet clear
steady driving the herd towards the cliff
tomorrow’s starving hunter’s gift
haunted by the ghosts of our best mistakes

every outward thrust and every forward stride
progress and our survival collide
the truth's new face is the same old lie
haunted by the ghosts of our best mistakes

fire, water, air, and earth, I am the fool*
burned through the sky and its shield
and salted the roots in every field

like a mother feeding on her yet-to-be-young
is the smoke of convenience
that I’ve forced into tomorrow's lungs
haunted by the ghosts of our best mistakes

we have met the enemy and he is us**

each of us is at the mercy of a sunrise
regardless of portfolio size
or race or faith or tongue
for we are, every one, parts of a greater sum
and our kingdom has come
but for some problems nature finds solutions
perhaps the next step in our evolution
will find us with no more than eight fingers
lacking the digits to pull a trigger***
stripped of arrogance, filled with foresight
fully understanding there’s but one life
and there’s never going to be another one

*X-clan, Verbs of Power
**Walt Kelly, Pogo (earth day, 1971)
***too bad evolution doesn't really work like that Colin. nice try though.

The problem with writing an album about humankind's arrogance is that you run the risk of sounding misanthropic, and not just a little cynical. I don't really want to come off like that. I'm hardly a misanthrope - everyone I love is human. And while I may harbour some cynicism in these aging bones, it's not a part of me that I like. Cynicism, after all, is the brother of hopelessness. And me, I’m crawling with hope for the future. With this album, I'm not trying to suggest that humankind is inherently selfish or egotistical. We undoubtedly have the potential to be better. Evidence of this is everywhere. From the people that have spent the majority of their lives feeding and nurturing those less fortunate than themselves to the men and women who choose running into burning buildings as a career, compassion, intelligence and charity are as much a part of us as greed, ignorance and hatred. My point is just that we have done a great job of championing the latter three traits.

Now, I'm no zoologist, but I think it's pretty safe to say that human beings are the most successful species on the planet. We're at the top of the food chain, and we're masters of our environment, in that we have been able to manipulate it like no other animal. Our current status on the planet can be attributed to several unique characteristics, but primarily it is our ability to problem solve and our capacity for invention that has set us apart. We were hungry so we figured out how to hunt more proficiently. We were cold so we made clothes. We were comfortable and bored so we invented television. Along the way, however, we made some bad choices, ones that had painful ramifications. Early on, for the most part, we didn't realize what we were doing, and couldn't see how we were fucking ourselves. Any step forward seemed like a good one, even when we weren't looking ahead. But a lot of our most destructive mistakes have played out a multitude of times during the short period that we have been around. For all our advancement, and professed superiority, we are slow to alter our behaviour and abandon our more destructive pursuits. Progress is a word that, for most of us, brings with it positive connotations. When we consider social progress we think of the movement towards an egalitarian society in which race, sex and age do not limit a person. When we consider medical progress we think of the discoveries that will ease pain, cure disease, and extend life. Progress isn't always so pleasant though. The combustible engine seemed like such an awesome, practical and helpful invention last century. But now as we choke on the air it has spoiled and send our children to die in fuel wars, this scientific advance doesn't seem so great. The splitting of the atom was an enormous leap forward for science, a milestone on our road to understanding the universe. It unfortunately led to the advent of nuclear weapons and made it possible for humans to erase all life from Earth, save for a few cockroaches. A great deal of the important decisions our species has made regarding this planet and its resources have been made with only a concern for the present. With an alarming frequency, all we've cared about is how something will affect us here and now and how we will benefit from it as individuals. Forget the future. Forget our neighbors and the creatures we share this space with. Often what has been lofted as progress has done more to set us back. With only a concern for the immediate, we have made decisions that have destroyed our habitat, stunted our learning, and threatened all of our lives.

This selfishness and lack of foresight has seemingly been with us all along. The first 'modern' humans, Cro-Magnon man, drove entire herds of animals over the edges of cliffs, killing them all and providing the hunters and their families with an abundance of food. It seemed like a great hunting technique, the only problem was that after a few days all the corpses began to rot and became inedible. Without the knowledge required to cure the meat or store it, the hunters and their families were rendered hungry once again and left with little to hunt. A parallel between this behaviour and our current treatment of food resources is easy to draw. We've over-farmed, over-hunted and over-fished. It's that simple. In order to make a quick buck some of our fellow primates have polluted landscapes beyond recognition and wiped entire species from existence. Convenience spurred us to embrace an addiction to a fuel that has corrupted the very air we require to exist. What's worse is the fact that we know all of this - nothing I am discussing here is hidden knowledge. We've poured ourselves three fingers of poison and demanded a refill and a chaser.

Our concern with the present and our own well being is most apparent in the human being's lust for material wealth. Most of our fucking over of the planet has been done, and continues to happen in the name of greed. So many of us have caused irreparable harm to the planet and each other just to make a buck; to live in bigger houses; to drive faster cars; to eat more food. The joke of it all is that the effects of our greediness and disregard for the planet's well being will be felt by everyone. Pollution does not care how much money you have. Every person on this planet, from the richest to the poorest requires clean air and clean drinking water. Granted, wealth can help you avoid the affects of famine and drought, but it will not protect you from skin cancer when the last bit of the ozone layer vanishes, and it won't help you much if the polar ice caps melt.

This type of blundering was a part of us long before we worshipped any gods. Before we invented the idea of pleasing a man in the sky, we were consumed with pleasing ourselves solely. We had to be. Life for our oldest ancestors was no doubt littered with fear and confusion. Every morning ushered in new obstacles that needed to be overcome in order to survive. Imagine how frightening lightening must have seemed. How mysterious and awe-inspiring the sun must have been. How twigs breaking just beyond the glow of a campfire would have rippled the flesh with fear. The success of our evolution as a species is measured in our unraveling of these mysteries, and understanding of those fears. The most cynical of us like to think that humans are inherently savage and concerned only with their personal well being, but that isn't even what our ancestors were really about. They learned, through experience, that it was easier and safer to live in a group and share their daily spoils than it was to sleep unaccompanied in the wilderness and take on entire herds of game alone. Solidarity is part of our shared history and indicative of the type of animal we are. Our ability to work together made us efficient hunters, then farmers and builders. The amount and sheer variety of ways that we have learned to communicate with one and other is testament to our evolutionary need to be united as a species. Don't get me wrong, I don't see human history as some long, monotonous hippie drum circle with everyone hugging and sharing icy treats and fruit drinks. I'm well aware that we have a great capacity for brutality, hatred and violence. My point is that we're still working on it. We're still trying to figure out ways for us all to get along. Life now is infinitely less shitty and brutal than life in the dark ages*. It is our fear, and the misconceptions we have about each other and our place in the universe that encourages us to fuck everything up so drastically.

To digress for a moment - I'm not talking about immediate situations. I'm not suggesting that the guy who commits murder when he walks in on his spouse having sex with his best friend does it because he believes that he is god's favourite person. I'm talking about a much larger story. The one about us as a species. I'm talking about our big, big, big decisions. And our predilection for making the wrong ones.

A lot of our bad decisions can be chalked up to ignorance. The Cro-Mags (species, not band) didn't really have the capacity to look too far into the future. They didn't realize that their hunting technique would fuck them over so badly in the long run. The same can be said about us, in the present, and our overabundance of fuel consumption and fishing. Of course, we know better, now. But we keep on with the same destructive habits, too convinced of our own immortality to see that killing off all of our food resources and destroying the air will eventually erase us from the planet - that is, if we don't blow ourselves (oh yeah, and everything else) out of existence first. It's staggering to think that, in a time when prolonged exposure to the sun can riddle a person's skin with cancer, and millions go hungry daily, men are working day and night with no other purpose than to invent newer, faster ways to obliterate human beings. And it's horrifying to think that the demand for these inventions increases daily.

We've done pretty well as a species in terms of surviving. But we're such slow learners that our successes may prove to be failures.

Again, these recurring blunders can be traced to the common belief that life on Earth is just a stepping stone to a bigger, better and brighter eternity. It's easy to accept the fact that we are slowly poisoning ourselves, as well as our children's children, if you've accepted the notion that there is another life after this one, and that the dude who made all of this wants you to be there. It's easy to take your environment for granted, and subsequently destroy it, when you don't really think that you are a part of it. It's easy to kill off other species if you believe you have no connection to them other than being sculpted by an architect that placed you at the top of mount importance. It's easy to hate, not to mention kill or torture, your neighbor if she/he doesn't give sufficient thanks to your particular creator. I suppose the real joke is that it is our arrogance that does us the most harm. It is our belief that we are the centre of the universe that will, should we continue on the same destructive path, wipe us from existence (long before the sun does).

We owe a huge thanks to our buddy Neil for coming out and just killing it on the third verse of this song. Everyone should check out his band.

The alternate title to this song refers to this awesome book by Ronald Wright:

This amazing song:

And this classic cartoon strip:**

Hostage Life dances on the shoulders of giants.


*I realize that this is a culturally sensitive statement. It relates to my experience in the western world. I am well aware that there are a great deal of people on the planet suffering through conditions that are not that different from the aforementioned time period's squalor.

**The line “we have met the enemy and he is us” originally appeared in this song but the guys cut it out during mixing because they thought it didn’t fit. I wasn’t there so couldn’t bitch about the decision until after. The finalized lyric sheet had already been sent in to the artist so the line still appears even though you never hear it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


she said, ‘sometimes
I can’t bear to punch in
how I’d love to push this cig
right into his skin’
so she sucked back 10 more
and she scorched her lungs sore
she was staring daggers
at their bedroom door
'and my rage doesn't come from neglect
it comes from regret'

he said, ‘at the next sunrise
I’m quitting this franchise
3.5 pink slips
for that look in her eyes’
and so he closed his workshop
when it was long after dark
with all those projects
that he could only start
'and I can't pretend for one more day
a coward would stay'

I said, ‘I don’t want this job
because I never applied
all the bosses’ problems
always become mine’
so I hid my best drugs
and let loose a flood
a stomach filled with pills
stained the welcome rug
and we 4.5 are set to go
set to explode

blow the roof from this institution
turning the key was my contribution
the wind will scatter all of our remains
I pray they don't come to lay too far away

we 4.5 are set to go
set to explode

My parents are good shits. They got married just five years before I was born, then, after two decades of fights, reconciliations and counseling, they called it quits. Needless to say, at fourteen, I hated their fucking guts for it all. And everything I seemed to do in my teens was a reflection of that. Too much boozing and too many half-assed suicide attempts put me in front of half a dozen shrinks, and landed me in drug and alcohol counseling. a youth's understandable lack of understanding about what his parents were going through during this period, had me fist fighting my dad on more than once occasion, and avoiding my mother's company for six years straight.

Two decades later, I don't feel like being such a little cunt about it. Forgiveness is much more enjoyable than resentment and bitterness. Dealing with what you have is much more beneficial than longing for what never was.

Sure, I’ve got bones to pick with both of them, but who doesn't have issues with their parents? Mine tried their best, they fucked it up, and it exploded all over them, my older brother, and me. I fought all of them over it for a long time, with varying degrees of intensity and blame. But I had to get past that shit, I had to get past the notion that their failed marriage meant they were failures as parents, and that, by default, we were a failure as a family. Everybody makes mistakes. I’m a better son for realizing that this applies to my mom and dad as well. I can't comment on how in love they were, or weren't, when they first got together. All I know is what I saw growing up - a relationship that was light on affection and passion but heavy on resentment and spite. They had to work to stay together, so much so that near the end the whole thing probably just felt like a shitty job. I’ve quit a lot of shitty jobs in my day, how can I blame them for doing the same?

The pressure for them to stay together must have been excruciating. My dad is a Mennonite, and like most sects of Christianity, they're not too keen on divorce. Likewise, my mother was the only one of her siblings to ever file for one. None of the other families on our block, as far as I could discern, had fights that matched my parent's in volume and frequency. No one else's parents separated as often. As far as I knew we were the only fucked up family around. TV never showed me husbands and wives that screamed at each other every morning over scrambled eggs, and every night over pork chops. Ward cleaver never threw June through a set of bi-folding doors. Elise Keaton never threatened Michael with a knife. None of the Brady kids chickened out the second a razor blade drew blood. That, of course, is because none of those families were remotely realistic, and the image of the family that was being perpetuated by popular culture and religion never took into account that the people involved are, in fact, human beings capable of making mistakes that aren't fixed in 22 minutes or cured through the recitation of a few archaic verses.

I don't want to make light of the emotional ramifications that a divorce can have on a child. The notion of living in a house with one parent while the other cooked dinner alone in some other town was terrifying to me. It was a concept so alien that it felt like my entire understanding of the world was being called into question. But the unease and pain I endured had just as much to do with the loss of stability in my life as it did with this idea that the divorce was some sort of failure - one that I, even as the youngest member, played a role in. In my mind, what was happening when they called it quits wasn't what was supposed to happen. Moms and dads stay together. Those are the rules; families live in one house, no matter what. I had internalized the definition of family that religion and television had shown me. I was thinking about our family in terms of how things should be and not how they actually were. This is a problem that a fair number of us encounter every day. Humans aren't terribly fond of change, and we have distaste for those of us that steer away from tradition. Divorce, rather than being an altering of the family unit, is viewed as a destruction of it. Marriage is supposed to last until death and families aren't supposed to split up.

Things have changed a lot from the time my parents called it quits. My family's situation is fairly common these days. Even I think it was a good thing they got divorced. They had fallen out of love and couldn't stand to be together. Forcing themselves to endure day after day of disappointment and contempt just to fulfill some cultural standard they could never live up to, would have been brutally cruel for them and for me and my brother. They both needed a new start, and the daily structure of our family had to be altered if either of them were ever going to start enjoying their lives. The traditional definition of family has been expanded to include ones like mine. Not by everybody, but by most.

Stepping out from such strict guidelines about how life should be, found us all doing a lot better in the long run. My brother and I became comrades in the trenches. The divorce messed with both our heads, but it was on common ground of confusion and pain that we finally set aside all of our differences and actually began to be friends. My mother went back to university and got her MA, living all over the country in the process. My dad rediscovered romance and remarried, providing me with a new batch of siblings that I’ve grown to love and am happy for knowing. Letting go of the rigid definition of family that had burned all of our eyes to tears for so long, allowed us to reshape what we are, and truly appreciate it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think marriage is pretty awesome. Even when they don't work out, the two people involved still had one moment in their lives so full of joy and passion that they were convinced it would last forever - and they wanted everyone to know it. Those moments are what we should all be longing for. Even if it only lasts a short time, and comes back to bite you in the ass and make you feel like a fool, love is the only thing you'll want to remember on your death bed.

And, as horribly fucking corny as it sounds, love is all you need for marriage. regardless of other traditional definitions of what marriage is - sex, race, religion and gender mean nothing when two people are in love*. Marriage is not a domain exclusive to heterosexuals. It is the domain of the love drunk embracing permanence. It belongs to anyone willing to roll the dice. If homosexuals can't be legally married simply because some people think that they aren't supposed to be, and that their union will make a mockery of such a sacred institution, then my parents should be forced to shack up again. And trust me, no one wants that. Culture isn't stagnant; it is constantly occurring; shifting and changing. Our intellectual evolution as a species continually presents situations that bring into question the very customs we have created to define ourselves. And each one of these situations only proves that there is so much about us that we still have to figure out.


*It should be noted that this essay is in no way in opposition to polyamorous relationships - yeah, that's right, polygamy. Love is a many splendored thing and it is constantly changing and needing redefinition - culturally and personally. my reference to the 'two people in love' relates strictly to the type of marriage that I am most familiar with - it is not meant to imply that love must be limited to two partners.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


they gave wings to this devil
stripped me of my shackles
set to fly just like an angel
this loser of the battle
along with mass graves
filled collection plates
with the most righteous of aid
I struggled to get away

on these ratlines, holding hands with Odessa
baptize your most violent son ratlines, holding hands with Odessa
sanctuary that helped me to run

they looked away and lofted no blame
I’m rescued in spite of my hate
the same sentiment was conveyed
(they preached) run it!

my war will not be lost new name and I’m across
we’re the first ones off the ship, now
always first ones off the ship
and these men of the cloth
exploited the red for the twisted cross
to help me

I'm hard pressed to think of a more destructive, corrupt and, well, pardon the severity, evil institution than the Catholic Church. Now before I go any further, I feel the need to clarify* - I am not saying that Catholics are evil. By now you know where I stand on religion, but my unbelief has nothing to with thinking I am superior to anyone with faith, nor does it imply that I think a person's worth or intellect should be based on their religious views. That would be stupid. What I'm talking about is the Catholic Church as an institution and the 'they' that I am referring to are the racist, sexist, greedy, vicious, bureaucratic assholes that have been running the ....Vatican.... for centuries. I have nothing but sympathy for people who would put so much trust and love into an institution that has time and again cheated them, lied to them, and harmed them. My mind and heart quiver just trying to imagine the feelings of pain and betrayal the parents of molested children must feel when they learn that the church they have been members of their entire lives actually protects and enables their children's abusers.
But let's move on, this song has nothing to do with the hundreds of thousands of children that have been raped by priests. Good bit of anti-theist propaganda though. How scummy of me. No, Ratlines is about an entirely different fucked up thing the Catholic Church did. To some of you this is old news, I only learned about eight months ago. In post WWII Europe it wasn’t that easy to be a Nazi. Chances are that if you were an Eichman or a Mengele you were wanted for your crimes against humanity. That’s what happens when you try to kill several million people but fail to win the war. After Hitler took the pussy’s way out and plastered his brains to a wall, the majority of his underlings tried to run to South America, and a number of them (particularly the higher profile douche bags like Eichman, Mengle, and Barbie) were able to, thanks to the system of escape routes that came to be known as Ratlines. Some of the most successful Ratlines were run out of the Vatican, the most well known of which were operated by Bishop Alonis Hudal (the first priest to dedicate himself to the cause of saving Nazi war criminals), and later by Father Kurnoslav Draganovic. The Vatican denies that its higher ranking officials knew anything about what men like Hudal and Draganovic were up to but fairly recent courtroom testimonies from US Intelligence officers and recently uncovered documents indicate that Bishop Giovanni Battista Montini (yes, that’s the cunt that became Pope Paul VI) not only knew about what was going on, but can be linked to the theft of Holocaust victims’ property.
This is not the only sketchiness surrounding the Catholic Church and WWII (Pope Pius XII did remain notoriously silent during the holocaust, essentially ignoring the cloud of burnt flesh that hung over ..Europe) but the Vatican Ratlines, for me anyway, take the cake. Here, you have some the most evil men of the 20th century, committing what is regarded to be one of, if not the, most evil crime of the 20th century, and the fucking church helps these assholes escape from punishment. That’s just fucking brutal – they helped Josef Mengele (a man that dissected live infants, injected blue dye into the eyeballs of prisoners, and castrated men and young boys, all without administering a drop of anesthetic) escape. That’s just evil, plain and simple. What’s worse is it made the Vatican rich, as millions in stolen money found its way into their bank.

*Morons are prone to miss the point. If I don't explain myself thoroughly, the next thing I know our MySpace inbox will be crammed full of hate mail. Experience tells me these messages would read something like this: 'fuck you, you bald fruit. I’m a fucking catholic and I’m not fucking evil. Fuck your boyfriend and die of AIDS and burn in hell, you fucking homo!' so, yeah, here I’m talking about the institution and its hierarchy - the shepherds not the sheep.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


six in the morning, police at my door
dirty feet squeak across the bathroom floor

all night long we were hiding from our neighbors
we feel much safer living as strangers

and out the back window, there ain’t no escape
didn’t even get a chance to set myself straight

c’mon and shake
shake, baby, shake
you’re never going to stop
it ain't ever going to stop at all

sign in east Hastings saying ‘no’ to me
they fight against keeping my blood clean
small town to Lansdowne saying ‘no’ to me
darling, I’m in this cage for my disease
and I’m in here for a dozen years

I got two knees in my back and a gun in my face
they’re dragging you by the hair as they search apart our place
and they pull you from my side with the haze from my eyes
I’m shivering through the sweats, baby, on this concrete floor all night

For as long as I can remember people have been telling me that drugs are bad. Not just bad for me in terms of my physical and mental health, but bad for society, bad for humans as a whole. Just by smoking a joint I would be simultaneously destroying my brain and funding terrorism. All of the evils in the world were somehow linked to drug use. Well, illegal drug use anyway. The majority of the anti-drug public service announcements I watched were on television stations that didn't balk at the advertising dollars alcohol and tobacco companies were throwing at them.* Only certain drugs were deemed bad, and using them was not only a crime but it could lead to the downfall of society as we knew it. The anti-drug propaganda I grew up with isn't much different than what youth today are subjected to - it is filled with the same lies and misinformation. The central themes remain the same: humans should not get high; in a perfect world everyone would abstain from using drugs; the increase in drug use among the population (particularly youth) is representative of the immoral attitudes and trends of the modern age. I was told, and kids today are being told that using a drug just once can get you hooked on it for life. Being the skeptic that I am, I've since tried most of those drugs and while I liked a few of them, I developed a physical addiction to none, and didn't even like most. I am not trying to imply that drugs aren’t addictive. They most certainly are, and addiction can ruin a person’s life. My point is simply, not all the information we have been told about drugs is true, and using drugs does not make you a bad person. Habitually snorting or smoking meth will fuck up your life – there’s little question about this. Smoking weed daily may increase your lethargy and appetite but it will not destroy your life. Pot and meth are two completely different beasts that have been lumped together as equally destructive. This simply isn’t true.

What I find so amusing about all of this isn't the fact that some people rally so hard against something as harmless as, say, weed smoking, it's the fact that as old as these anti-drug myths are, the use of narcotics by human beings predates it all. In 2008, archeologists working in the Gobi desert uncovered the 2,700 year-old remains of a shaman that had been buried with 2 pounds of marijuana. Up until this discovery, experts thought that the ancients of this region only grew the plant as hemp in order to make clothing and rope. The strong psychoactive properties they found in the still green marijuana, however, implies that it was grown as an inebriant as well. Also in 2008, archeologists conducted studies on the hair of mummies found in the Andes Mountains which revealed that in 1200 BC, pre-Hispanic South American people were taking hallucinogens. In addition to the medical evidence of their drug use, ancient drug paraphernalia like pipes and snuffing kits have been found as well. None of this should be too much of a shock – as far back as 5000BC the Sumerians were smoking opium. The first alcohol was brewed in 3500BC by the Egyptians. Humans have enjoyed getting high for centuries.

The movement to prohibit the use of drugs has been around for quite a while too, the earliest of which occurred in 2000BC when an Egyptian priest forbid his pupils from consuming alcohol. But that just underlines what a pointless effort prohibition is. For all the attempts that have been made to stamp out the use of intoxicants, it has never worked. No one will ever be able to stop people from getting high. Prohibition has never, and will never work. What it does do is allow for a brutally violent black market to exist. Evidence of this can be seen with the rise of gangsterism in major American cities in the early 20th century during the days of alcohol prohibition. And it can also be seem now, as wars between rival cartels and dealers play out on streets around the world. Making drugs illegal has never stopped people from doing them, but it has allowed for some morally bankrupt dickheads to make a fortune off of them.

Now, I’m no fan of physical confrontation. I lack the strength, determination, and hand-eye coordination to be a successful pugilist. Even when I see some sort of injustice unfolding in front of me I’m too much of a weakling and a coward to intervene. Such was the case last spring when, on my way to work, I happened upon my neighborhood crack dealer punching the shit out of one of his more frail male clients. The junky’s girlfriend was screaming for assistance but no one on the street, especially me, was running up to offer it. I crossed to the other side to avoid getting involved and continued on to the subway. Later that night, on my way home, I witnessed the same crack dealer issuing a similar beating to a different, yet equally helpless, addict. I would feel much better were this douche bag not living in my neighborhood, but running him out vigilante style not only seems unbelievable but also silly. The cops have done very little about his operation, which is understandable because I’m sure there are hundreds just like it all over the city. The best way to run this prick off my street would be to take his livelihood away.

But what about the junkies you say? Taking away the drug dealer** doesn't mean that the neighborhood is going to be a nicer cleaner place. There are still going to be crackheads and junkies running about shitting in alleys and begging for change and stealing bicycles. I would argue, however, that we have the same problem with drunks running around doing similarly unpleasant things all the time, and yet very few of us rail for the LCBO to be shut down. Crackheads, junkies, and drunks are all pretty annoying people to live around, but they're still people. They just have some pretty big fucking problems, ones that will not be fixed with the existence of a black market. Drug prohibition pushes drug addicts to the margins of our society, dehumanizing them in the process. Shooting galleries and needle exchange programs do not encourage drug use - they exist in order to protect the most at-risk members of our society from the harm that their disease can cause them.*** This song is in no way and endorsement of drug use. This issue is a human rights issue, as far as I am concerned. No institution or government should dictate what I can or cannot put into my body. We all have the right to make bad decisions. A truly compassionate society will allow each of us our fuck-ups and never deny us help when we are at our most vulnerable. The money used to treat recovering addicts is peanuts compared to the resources used to fight the 'war on drugs.' Because this war - this war we are losing - is fucking expensive. Every year more and more money is spent on police and prisons for the purpose of locking up our neighbors. If history has taught us anything, it's that there will always be a demand for drugs, and trying to keep them away from those who want them is all but impossible. Legalization is the only intelligent option.

I didn’t want to make this little rant a bunch of statistics and numbers. That would have been pretty dull to read. I do suggest you check out these sites, however, for some more info.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

*Once upon a time cigarette ads were on TV. Beers ads have, of course, always been idiotic.

**It should be noted that I do not believe all drug dealers to be violent sociopaths to be feared. The example I am using is extreme, and I have known many a drug dealer that has no desire to pummel their clientele.

***Yes, addiction is a disease, and no one should be put in a situation where they might contract HIV or hepatitis.

Thursday, October 1, 2009



We in Ho-Life are guilty of rerecording some songs for this album. Doing this is always a tricky undertaking as a band is trying to either live up to the previously great version of a song, or make up for a shitty version. Which one applies to us? I don’t know. What is certain is that this song (as well as new drugs) was recorded and released on the EP of the same name on Black Pint records about a year ago. At that time I wrote an essay explaining the song. So in the spirit of recycling, here is that essay with some minor adjustments (and, of course, the lyrics).

show me the pale phantom of Bethlehem
we run, we run from reason
no crackers born in the house of bread
the west paints nails through lily white hands
for the nonsense our egos demand

canvasses covered with apostate blood
for more portraits of the prophet’s love
race didn’t draw this battle line
this hate was an intelligent design
and it’s a fucking lie

white Jesus
the coward’s redeemer
that lies to believers
betrays the healer
every page and brush’s stride
so successfully divides

we’ve held tight these mythologies
and their subsequent iconography

we invented our architect
we run, we run from reason
and we placed that lie on a mortal neck
made a one-way mirror of the planet’s roof
let fear fuel our every tribute

share the same worldview as medieval minds
heeding the threats of forgotten scribes
slaughter and slave for paradise
and cry intolerance when criticized
and it’s a fucking lie

Perhaps the most popular argument in favor of religion is the one that puts forth the notion that it provides people with a moral compass and thus serves to unify humanity as a whole.
It keeps us good and brings us together.

A nice idea, for sure.

The raw truth of it, quite unfortunately, is that few of humankind's inventions have caused so much division, bloodshed, and sexual mutilation in the world. Crack open a history book, use an internet search engine, it's hard to miss the centuries of religious inspired hatred and warfare - book burnings and people burnings abound. Embracing the love of a god has time and again lead to segregation and murder.

The depiction of a White Jesus is perfectly indicative of religion's divisive nature. For centuries the west has worshipped its own image, used the son of god's face to buttress the racism and injustice that has infected every aspect of its society. Without a concern for reason or truth, we blocked out the probable race of our messiah, and used the church to reinforce a racist power structure. And could we be any more insulting to our 'savior'? Supposing for a moment that he did exist,* as an inhabitant of the Middle East his skin tone is more likely to have been olive or brown rather than white, so is it not a slap in his holy face to alter his appearance in visual representations because he was of the wrong color? When posed, this question is greeted with a grand, "whatever," simply because the image of a blonde haired, blue eyed Christ has always been the norm. Reason has no place in religion, and as a result critical thinking is downplayed and submission is embraced. Bigotry and stupidity are sure to follow from this recipe.

It would be stupid to suggest that all racism in the world stems from religion, people can be barbaric and irrational without God. But it would be stupider however to ignore the fact that religion fuels and ignites racial, ethnic, and cultural division. The Catholic Church's role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide is pretty solid evidence for this claim. For decades leaders of the country's Catholic Church perpetuated the racial conflict between Hutus and Tutsis. Rather than try to unite the two tribes with their doctrine of eternal love, church leaders called from the pulpit for the Hutus to engage in ethnic cleansing, and when the massacres began, Bishops and Nuns alike conspired with the murderers, leading innocent victims into the machetes of angry mobs, or locking them in churches to be burned alive or bulldozed. Several members of the clergy have been indicted and convicted in international court. So much for religion uniting the community and causing humans to act 'good'.

This horrific example aside, the ways in which religion helps to advocate racial division is demonstrated, not only in the vicious actions of the faithful, but through religious iconography. From the endless debates that have been waged regarding which colour of acrylic should be applied to a canvass to represent the pigment of Christ's skin, to the violence that explodes when someone draws a shitty cartoon of Mohammad, mere drawings surrounding the topic of religion divide us. Faith only brings together like minds. Doubters, skeptics and the unfaithful (not to mention sinners) are pushed away, and often, if you look at the historical frequency of the event, killed. And there in lies the real problem. The books of the three popular monotheisms tell their followers that they are God's chosen, and that the rules they obey as believers apply to everyone on the planet. It is the duty of the faithful to ensure that God's word is spread and observed by everyone. Therefore, gays can't marry. You can't doodle pictures of the prophet. Scientific observation has no merit. It goes on and on and on and on and on until I'm tired of typing.

But let's back up for a moment and contemplate the good that religion does for mankind. Proponents of Christianity love to point out the church's positive involvement in social justice movements, particularly the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. And they're right in the sense that, yes, some facets of the Christian church did help (quite successfully) to mobilize oppressed African Americans, and did champion the notion of equality for all. Martin Luther King was a reverend after all. The largest protest for equal rights in the 60s was the march on Washington, and it was largely organized by religious organizations. Surely this is evidence of religion's ability to unite human beings and create a better world. Unfortunately it isn't. At the time of the march, author James Baldwin was the most popular and critically acclaimed black author in America. Baldwin was outspoken about the racism that poisoned American society, and this made him a superb candidate to join Martin Luther King, among others, in making a speech at the march on Washington. The problem was, however, that while Baldwin was an outspoken opponent of racism, he was also very gay and an outspoken opponent of homophobia. His lifestyle didn't mesh with the Christian beliefs of the march's organizers and as a result Baldwin was not permitted to speak. The message here is very clear – yes, the church wanted to fight for the rights of African Americans…but only for the rights of some African Americans. Homosexuals couldn't join in because they were sinners and could potentially damage the image of this anti-oppression movement.

The myths of all three major monotheisms need to go the way of humankind's older myths. Bellerophon didn't ride a winged horse, neither did Mohammad. Jesus was no more real than Hercules (ok, maybe Jesus was an actual person, but he wasn't of divine lineage, and he couldn't walk on water or change the molecular composition of liquid any more than baby Herc could strangle two serpents in his crib).All gods are the product of human invention - they can't simply be thought or wished into existence. Beliefs without proof, no matter how sacred someone told you they are, require questioning, and, more often than not, unapologetic opposition. Consider claims put forth within our society that do not have the sanctity of religion but are based on beliefs that are as divisive and cannot be supported with proof. How about racism? We've already ventured down that road so let's keep going. White supremacists love to purport that people of darker skin are genetically inferior to Caucasians. Any person with a moron's understanding of modern science knows that there is no evidence to maintain this claim, and wouldn't hesitate to challenge it. Compare the nature and idiocy of the racist's argument to that of the Christian, or Islamic, fundamentalist's (and don't forget the orthodox Jew's) belief that women are inherently inferior to men, and the similarities are obvious. There is no evidence for this outlandishly sexist claim aside from some books that were written thousands of years ago by men who were afraid of the dark and thought that the earth was flat. Questioning and refuting religious claims such as these, no matter how hateful or illogical, however, is considered more than impolite, it is considered intolerance. Kind of funny that you are labeled intolerant for attacking and refusing to respect groundless claims that reinforce intolerance and foster division. Why, that's as irrational as the belief that homosexuals should be stripped of basic human rights and civil liberties because an archaic, outdated, misanthropic book said two people with the same genitals shouldn't fuck.

The White Jesus embodies all that is wrong with religion and overshadows anything that is right about it.** Its proponents may sing and scream and testify that the message is love, but violence and segregation have always been the bastard children of religion. The history of warfare, torture, and mutilation that hangs over the heads of all three monotheisms cannot be ignored. The apocalyptic threat posed by insane (yes, killing someone for an invisible man you've never met is insane) zealots around the world cannot go unaddressed. Religion kills, has killed, and will kill again. Questioning it and challenging it without fear, calling it on all its shit is of the gravest importance. To be tolerant does not require silence. Better to offend the self-proclaimed righteous than to become one of their casualties or allow someone else to be. Compassion, empathy and solidarity do not spring from gods, they are born of humans. We no longer need these myths - the answers they once provided us with have been disproved. All that remains are untruths and fictions touted as facts. The White Jesus is the great divider, the champion of the irrational. It is the perpetuator of a medieval and hateful value system. It is the enemy of truth and of life. It's a fucking lie.
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*Reliable records from this era are spotty at best.

**No, fuck that, there is little to nothing 'right' about religion. At its core is revulsion for critical thinking and inquiry, and a hatred of sex and the human body. It tells the believer that submission is the key to paradise. A lie this big has no redeeming qualities.