Thoughts & Stories of Mike Straight #73

Written on a late evening, as the mind was frantic. It is choppy, and jumps, read at own risk.

Accomplishment, happiness, arrogance, apathy, and, oh yeah, punk rock.

    Ok now...where to start this one. humm. OK, I went to go see Krupnik Seeing Krupnik is good for me, inspiring, a good influence, a good mind to bounce ideas off of. So I went all the way to California to hangout with Krupnik, and it was good. We were trying to figure out how long we have known each other, is it 8 or 9 years—whatever, the point is that we are friends. Actually closer then that, like brothers, cause as good friends as we are we can’t make it a day without getting into some argument or another. Sometimes it is over little things like I washed a plate the ‘wrong’ way, or sometimes it is over an ideological difference where we argue for hours, both of us searching for references to prove we are right. Once I was even late for a date because we were arguing one idea, and neither Krupnik nor me would let the other get the last word in. He even chased me down the Batcave driveway with a counterpoint - so of course I had to stop my bike on Genoa to yell one last thing. Later, after explaining to my date the reason for my tardiness, she commented we were both kind of strange.
    Yeah, I have the feeling that Krupnik will never really leave my life, which is both comforting, and even kind of annoying, but in a good way. See one reason I like Krupnik is that he is arrogant, in a similar way as I am and often arguments I have with myself can transcend to our conversations.
    We were talking about a group of people we know in Europe. They live in a small city, have a couple squats, collect the dole, and spend their days smoking hash, drinking and then wondering from one punkfest to another across the continent. I am kind of fascinated with them, living a simple life, which seems to make them happy. Krupnik has a low, judgmental opinion of the same group - “They are wasteoids, they do nothing.” Now as soon as he said that I jumped back at him - “Now who are you to make that sort of judgment? Fuck, at least they have accepted life in the 21st century and are making the best out of it. They may live to party, but they are accomplishing their goals. How can you say that your, or my life is any more valid then theirs, just because we dedicated so much time and energy to our ‘changing the world goals’. Fuck, if I could spend my days sitting in the sun being stoned—I would probably sleep a lot better.”
    Krupnik had a response, one that I predicted, and it went along the lines of “no white western person should have the privilege to be apathetic. By being apathetic they are only making things worse. It is their duty to do something.” Now this is where I had the problem, the idea of duty.  I wrote in last issue about how much I dislike the ‘bearing the cross’ reasoning for working on social change.
    Duty—duty, fuck that shit. I don’t do what I do out of a sense of duty..I do what I do because. because, because shit is fucked and it takes away my sleep at night, and I want my sleep, I want my life, and I am tired of feeling powerless in this society, and I can’t sit back and do nothing while things keep getting worse and worse! It is driving me crazy, because it seems like everyday I am reading the paper and everyday I am shouting at the wall—and I can even sit in the sun content.
    OK I got a question for you all — Do you even wake up thinking “This whole society is fucked?” Your trying to operate the coffee maker, but you can’t rid your mind of this basic idea. Then when you see your partner or roommate, you just want to tell them this. You have big, complex thoughts with detailed analysis of the current worldwide political/social situation—of how capitalism has brought on alienation etc. but the only words that come out of your mouth are “This whole system is fucked, it’s all—fucked.” Do you ever have mornings like that? Good, then I guess I am not alone.
    But what to do about it?
    Mike Antipathy brought up a really good point about the state of punk and what it means to him last issue...Yea, another fanzine filled with record adds, but what I want to know is how to get cheap solar panels. Yea, I know about MaximunRockandRoll, but what about MaximinlifeonEarth?  Recently, I listened to these kids talk about the need for a show space and all I could think about is how petty that goal is—I tried not too, but in the mood I was in, I did. In this town, Portland, which is experiencing a major affordable housing shortage, where the police are completely out of control and the terrorism task force got reinstated by a unanimous vote by the city council, where the mayor initiated a sit/lay ordinance which basically makes it illegal for homeless people to be in ANY public space—with all this going on I listened to a conversation about how there was no steady place for hardcore shows. Yes I know that is important—but at the time, to me, it seemed to be the least of the problems in this town. Awwww.
    I don’t know what I am getting at...I just want more. I am sick of sloganeering, tired of seeing blanket statements, and I want real change. Yes, I know sloganeering has it’s place - but I don’t want another band to yell “fuck the System” because every time I hear it I think, “thanks Captain obvious, but what about real change?” I even think this in response to my own thoughts. But what to do? How do I/we make real change, in our own, in our neighbors, in our friends lives? How do we break the alienation that capitalism has forced upon us. Once again I am not giving answers, but posing questions. What can we do to make our lives worth living? How can we not fall into the grasp of apathy? How do we make the best out of a fucked up situation without driving ourselves insane in the process? Got any answers - drop me a line.
—Mike Straight -