Hello!

Mike Nobody - GLITCH Portait 022

“All the various styles are organically connected to one another. I’m an additive person—the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can’t see the connections, but they are there.” ~ John Zorn

“Cute, cool, and creepy”, is how I have been described by some folks.
Usually, I am classified by my contemporaries as an outsider artist-musician.
Davin Brainard (time Stereo) and Warren DeFever (His Name Is Alive) observed that I do not intentionally TRY to be perceived as weird, that I just naturally AM….. making comparisons to Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston. I guess that I will just go along with those descriptions.

  • Music, Art, and Noise /
  • Videos, Movies, and Multi-Media /
  • Voice, Tapes, and Reed Trumpet /
  • Bass, Baritone, and other Guitars /
  • Keyboards, Computers, and Custom-Made Instruments /
  • Plunderphonics, Electronics and Junkyard Percussion

I enjoy creating what I refer to as “Prog-Punk Noise-Rock”, a strange pastiche of styles tied together. I have collaborated with plenty of other artists over the years with wide degrees of proficiency in many genres.

I have been obsessively into art and music my whole life; drawing, painting, playing with tape recorders and making noise. I built my first guitar from a badly beaten-up body & neck that I found in someone’s trash. A friend’s dad gave me the electrical guts from an unknown 1950’s guitar. Additional parts were improvised from pieces of found junk and purchased from a music store.

When I was a twelve year old kid, back in the 1980’s, I was just a runt of the Detroit hardcore punk / heavy metal scene . Lacking enough money to buy any good equipment, I purchased a cheap microphone at a pawn shop, built a homemade mic stand, and passed myself off as a vocalist. I sang in whatever groups that I could find, gaining experience and learning whatever that I could. Mostly, it was shitty cover bands, playing in basements, getting yelled at by uninvited drunks that we suck. Eventually, I improved my bass & guitar skills, playing in many short-lived groups that went nowhere.

I was a writer / photographer for The Jam Rag, a widely-read local music paper, while still a teenager and made friends with other artists along the way. During the 1990’s I was a cameraman, roadie, and occasional collaborator with Princess Dragon-Mom, Mog Stunt Team, His Name Is Alive, etc.. I also performed in a few experimental noise groups; Bionics, Edible Audio, Fresh Farm Raised Catfish, etc.

The Island of Misfit Noise began in the summer of 1998 with only Mystic MarshaKat and myself. She played keyboards & guitar (classically trained) and I played bass & guitar (mostly self-taught). Both of us were former members of N2-Submission, the backing band for our then-roommate The Impaler “Detroit’s Vampire Poet.” Our duo’s name changed a couple of times, before settling on the IOMN.  Other musicians came and went during a period of 15 years, with she & I being the only constant members of the group. She also left in early 2013. MarshaKat and I remain friends. She may continue to assist in some capacity, just not as a full-time band member.

I resurrected the IOMN as a recording project in late 2014, with collaborators from Michigan to Australia. We exchanged material back-and-forth until some music was completed. The style that we made is very freeform. A few collaborators from the IOMN have joined me in other projects. Some of them have experience in film & television and are producing low-budget movies with me.

MickeyBugsBand_1

For years, I tried to arrange having dual drummers play together in a band. We managed to do it a few times, which was great while it lasted. Most drummers are not into that, though. I have been told that they want to be guitarists, instead. I prefer working with someone who enjoys the instrument that they are playing, who really spends time improving their skills. Y’know?

I always needed to be collaborating with somebody, whether an individual or a group. It gave me confidence and motivation. I would bounce ideas off of other bandmates, get a feel for their capabilities and preferences, to find which direction that we were going in. I depended a lot on their input to filter my ideas through. I was always looking for feedback, trying to be as democratic as possible. But, this approach slowed us down. In hindsight, it was a mistake, like driving a car with the parking brake on.

I tried for ages to put a band together. But, I could never manage it for very long. After years of trial-and-error, I have come to the conclusion that I simply lack the necessary social skills to keep a stable group together.  I am focusing primarily on composition and recording, for the time being. I will return to live performance when I am certain that the project won’t immediately disintegrate. Assembling the right line-up and keeping it intact is a big obstacle for me.

I would like to eventually have a live group again. At minimum, I would prefer having (at least) a decent drummer to accompany me. I get uneasy being on stage alone. But, an ideal line-up would include:

  • Myself on bass, vocals, and tapes.
  • A creative drummer. Someone who is comfortable playing with additional percussionists, drum machines, noise, or other unusual stuff.
  • Maybe two guitarists who could also contribute more percussion, keyboards, samplers, vocals, or whatever other talents they may possess.

Maybe I will just go back to replacing musicians as I go along…. again.

Some of my current projects;

  • Island of Misfit Noise is an ongoing multimedia project, begun in 1998 as a musical group, with a constantly rotating membership. It has since expanded into no-budget film-making, music videos, and a series of comics books. I will continue to add material to this as I go along, with additional collaborators. There are no other permanent group members. Live performances are very unlikely.
  • Theee Urban SpaceCat (Cassette-Zine) is a publication of my artwork, ramblings, stories, correspondences, miscellaneous found objects, music, commentary, and anything else packaged with a cassette tape or compact disc of my recordings… whatever they may be. It is an outlet for all of my artistic endeavors, combined into one package, modeled after decades of correspondence with my friends. I wish to publish an issue every three or four months. But, the lack of adequate funding has rendered publication more sporadic than originally intended. I’m considering just posting MP3/PDF versions online until I can get enough cash together for printing. I have a backlog of material to do something with or throw away (like I usually do).
  • Mike Damn Nobody is my experimental noise project; incorporating tape loops, circuit-bending, custom instruments, and anything else available to make a racket with. Live events have a more chaotic theatrical presentation than my other projects. Recordings are available as “RecycleTapes”, as well as digital downloads.
  • Mike Nobody Superstar is just me, by myself, performing somewhere with my crazy setup as a one-man-band. I’ll make that work, somehow, for now. This doesn’t apply to my other output, which is simply categorized as Mike Nobody.
  • MykNobody is an alternate spelling sometimes used when I’m painting or making other art, just because.

♛ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Prog ☆ Punk 🐱 Noise ☆ Rock ☆ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ♛

Over time, I have received some frequently asked questions. So, I will add this below, if anybody really wants to know:

Gear Geek Stuff:

I don’t have a rehearsal space, just a tiny apartment that serves as my home-based studio/office (aka The Spacejunk UFO). Recordings done here have an unpolished lo-fi production sound, as a by-product of makeshift equipment used.

I have two multi-track machines;

  • one cassette (Tascam 488 MKII 8-track Portastudio)
  • one digital (Roland VS-1688 Digital Audio Workstation)

On my computer, I use whatever freeware programs that are available online. Two old broken boomboxes serve as studio monitors. I also collect various types of tape recorders (cassette, micro-cassette, reel-to-reel, 8-track, etc).

I prefer recording electrical instruments directly, via preamps or emulators, and mic-ing up an ambient “room sound” for acoustic tracks. Analog tape is good for getting a saturated compression sound, well-suited to percussion instruments or creating tape noises. Digital is good at getting a cleaner sound. I record the bulk of my material at home. I record demos during the week on cheap re-used cassettes and begin multi-tracking by the weekend. My original plan was to lay basic tracks on tape, bounce them to digital, then either take the tracks to someone else for mixing & mastering (maybe at a higher quality studio with a good engineer) or figure out how to do it myself.

I don’t have very high quality microphones;

  • A modified telephone receiver, with an XLR jack installed
  • an old abused Radio Shack mic from the 1980’s
  • another stolen from a karaoke machine
  • two USB microphones, from Guitar Hero, I think
  • several consumer-grade tape recorder mics from the 1960’s-1970’s

My bass / guitar setup has evolved over time into an unusual hybrid rig, splitting the instrument signal three ways, combined with various effects into a “sonic sandwich”;

  • one through a bass amp (SWR)
  • one through a lead guitar amp (Marshall)
  • one direct to mixer (Line 6 POD)

Miscellaneous samples and noise collages are prepared on cassette tapes and played back with a pair of foot-controlled Dictaphone machines fed directly into the mixer.

I have two basses;

  • 1987 Guild Pilot with Kahler tremolo. I use recycled copper/nylon picks, for more attack and articulation.
  • Jay Turser copy of a Höfner’ 500/1 violin “Beatle Bass”, like Paul McCartney’s. I use this shorter-scale bass mainly for cleaner finger-playing techniques.

I have two guitars;

  • Line 6 Variax, to achieve a wide variety of tones.
  • Ibanez RX-Series, with a Seymour Duncan Humbucker I installed at the bridge. I regularly use it for alternate tuning, usually tuned-down like a baritone.

I have two other guitars, on loan, being stored here;

  • BC Rich Masterpiece
  • Ovation 12-string Acoustic

I prefer Ground Roundwound strings, for their smooth feel – yet bright tone. Stainless steel armored instrument cables are also very durable and minimize ground noise.

I built a homemade drum kit, affectionately referred to as The ShitKit. It is a hodgepodge of crappy drum parts acquired from thrift stores with a collection of scrap metal junk added, for a clunkier sound.

I have a Korg M3 music workstation synthesizer, as well as a bunch of cheaper keyboards and electronics to mess around with. I don’t understand how to use everything it is capable of. I need to continue reading the manual.

My collection of effect pedals and rackmounted gear varies. I have sold things when I needed money really bad. I have fried others beyond salvage. Sometimes, I can replace these. Sometimes, I can’t.

My attempts at custom-building circuit-bent & experimental instruments have yielded mixed results. I can get some interesting sounds out of them, if the darn things don’t self-destruct first.

I also have ideas for some custom basses & guitars that I would like to get professionally made. Adding other instruments to my arsenal would be fantastic.

Creativity Stuff:

My songwriting style is a mix of eclectic influences juxtaposed together. I like combining a bit of everything, when I can.

Sometimes it is harmonious.

Sometimes it is schizophrenic.

Sometimes it is simple and accessible.

Sometimes it is noisy and irritating

It can be almost anything, depending on the song. I am writing within three basic categories;

  1. Solo: material that I can play alone without additional players.
  2. Band: material that requires other musicians to perform live.
  3. Album: material that is very difficult or impossible to be played live at all, created solely for recordings.

Lyrics are kind of an afterthought for me. I’ll write down any ideas I get and go back to them later if I am working on something. But, music comes first. Lyrics might be personal or political. They may be strange and surreal. Overall, it is “the little world”, “the big world”, and the creative use of language. Generally, the more abstract the music is, the more abstract the lyrics are as well. I like leaving things a little open to interpretation rather than always being explicit.

I’m a huge record collector and music fan. I love attempts at all genres and styles – constantly finding inspiration from albums that are just all over the map … and I’m all about that. I’m all about diversity.

I’ve played with hundreds of musicians from many genres. Everything in my output is interconnected. It just comes out mixed-together, filtered through whatever resources available. It’s a bit like combining Frank Zappa’s Freak Out List and the Nurse with Wound list into one mutation! Rock & roll is usually the glue holding it together. Some notable influences include;

  • Alice Donut
  • Amon Düül
  • Anton Webern
  • Arnold Schönberg
  • The B-52’s
  • Bad Brains
  • Bad Religion
  • Béla Bartók
  • Beatles
  • Bebe and Louis Barron
  • Beck
  • Jared Warren (KARP, Big Business, Melvins)
  • Big City Orchestra
  • Bipolar Gentlemen + Toxic Water
  • Nick Blinko (Rudimentary Peni)
  • Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic)
  • The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
  • Bran Flakes
  • William S. Burroughs
  • Robert Smith (The Cure)
  • Brian May (Queen)
  • Brian Wilson (Beach Boys)
  • Buzz Osbourne (Melvins)
  • Can
  • Captain Beefheart (The Magic Band)
  • Carl Stalling
  • Caroliner
  • Billy Childish (Thee Headcoats, Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Milkshakes)
  • Chris Squire (Yes)
  • Chuck Mosley (Faith No More, Bad Brains)
  • Cliff Burton (Metallica)
  • Ornette Coleman
  • “Colonel Tom” Parker
  • Colonel Sanders
  • .John Coltrane
  • Comets on Fire
  • Comparative Anatomy
  • Cop Shoot Cop
  • Lux Interior & Poison Ivy Rorschach (The Cramps)
  • Crash Worship
  • Crass
  • Crust
  • Culturecide
  • D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
  • Daft Punk
  • Dale Flattum (Steel Pole Bath Tub, Tumor Circus, Milk Cult)
  • Daniel Johnston
  • David Bowie
  • David Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
  • Dead Milkmen
  • Deja Voodoo
  • Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper)
  • Destroy All Monsters
  • Gerald Casale (Devo)
  • Bob Log III (Doo Rag)
  • Doug Henderson (Krackhouse, Spongehead)
  • Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Beck)
  • East Bay Ray & Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys, Alternative Tentacles Records)
  • Ed Hall
  • Einstürzende Neubauten
  • Edgard Varèse
  • The Electrifying Mojo (Charles Johnson)
  • Evolution Control Committee
  • Fat Mike (NOFX)
  • Faust
  • Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
  • Flipper
  • Flying Saucer Attack
  • Frank Zappa (Mothers of Invention)
  • Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Art Bears, Massacre)
  • The Frogs
  • Geddy Lee (Rush)
  • Geezer Butler & Toni Iommi (Black Sabbath)
  • Gene Simmons & Ace Frehley (KISS)
  • Crispin Glover
  • Godheadsilo
  • Berry Gordy (Motown Records, The Last Dragon)
  • Greg Ginn & Kira Roessler (Black Flag)
  • Grotus
  • The GTO’s
  • Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, Riot grrrl zine)
  • Happy Flowers
  • Harry Partch
  • Hazil Adkins
  • Helios Creed (Chrome)
  • Hide (Ultra Bidé)
  • Ian Mackaye (Minor Theat, Fugazi)
  • Iggy Pop & The Stooges
  • Invented Thing Quartet
  • Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report)
  • Jad Fair (1/2 Japanese, Strobe Talbot)
  • James Joyce
  • Jandek
  • Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)
  • Duane Denison & David Wm. Sims (Scratch Acid, The Jesus Lizard)
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jojo Hiroshige (Hijokaidan, Alchemy Records)
  • Joe Meek
  • Joey Agresta (Joey Pizza Slice, Son of Salami, Salami Junior)
  • Joey Shithead Keithley (D.O.A.)
  • John Bonham & Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
  • John Cage
  • John Entwistle (The Who)
  • John Oswald (Plunderphonics)
  • John S. Hall & Bradford Reed (King Missile)
  • John Zorn (Naked City, Painkiller)
  • Juan Garcia Esquivel
  • Jucifer
  • Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening, K Records, Dub Narcotic Sound System)
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Ken Butler
  • Kevin Rutmanis (The Cows, Melvins, Hepa/Titus)
  • Killdozer
  • Kramer (New York Gong, Shimmy Disc Records, Bongwater)
  • Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone, Graham Central Station)
  • Larry Mondello Band
  • Kevin Strickland & Larissa Strickland (Laughing Hyenas)
  • Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead, Hawkwind)
  • Legendary Stardust Cowboy
  • Les Claypool (Primus, Sausage, Oysterhead)
  • Lightning Bolt + Black Pus
  • Lisa “Suckdog” Carver
  • The Locust
  • The Los Angeles Free Music Society
  • Christian Vander (Magma)
  • Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols, New York Dolls)
  • Malcolm Young & Angus Young (AC/DC)
  • Marc Bolan (T. Rex)
  • Mark Sandman (Morphine)
  • Jason Martin (Brown Cuts Neighbors, Power Animal System)
  • Christian Marclay
  • Marilyn Manson
  • Masahiko Ohno (Solmania)
  • Masonna
  • Hal McGee (Dog As Master, Cause And Effect cassette label, Haltapes)
  • Curt Kirkwood & Cris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets)
  • Ichirou Agata (Melt-Banana)
  • Masami Akita (Merzbow)
  • Gary Modlinski (Junkie Munky, The Mod)
  • Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Tomahawk)
  • Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE)
  • Bill T. Miller (Orgy of Noise, Out of Band Experience, Kings of Feedback)
  • Misfits
  • The Monkees
  • Monty Python
  • Moondog
  • Muddy Waters
  • My Bloody Valentine
  • N.W.A.
  • Negativland
  • Neu!
  • Nihilist Spasm Band
  • No-Neck Blues Band
  • Ohio Express
  • Omoide Hatoba
  • Pain Teens
  • Harry Partch
  • Kembra Pfahler (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black)
  • Pat Smear (Germs, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
  • Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers, Melvins)
  • Bruce Pavitt (Sub Pop)
  • Phil Spector
  • Prince
  • Public Enemy
  • Pussy Galore
  • Quintron and Miss Pussycat
  • John Spencer Blues Explosion
  • R. Stevie Moore
  • The Ramones
  • Raymond Scott
  • The Residents
  • Robert Fripp (King Crimson, Fripp & Eno)
  • Rob Wright & John Wright (NoMeansNo, Hanson Brothers)
  • Roky Erikson (13th Floor Elevators)
  • Rahsaan Roland Kirk
  • Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band
  • Corey Rusk (Necros, Touch and Go Records)
  • Greg Sage (Wipers)
  • Arnold Schoenberg
  • Scott Lucas (Local H)
  • Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh)
  • The Shaggs
  • Shannon Selberg (The Cows, Heroine Sheiks)
  • Shockabilly
  • Shonen Knife
  • Six Finger Satellite
  • Skeleton Key
  • Slayer
  • Smegma
  • Sonic Youth
  • Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)
  • The Space Lady (Susan Dietrich Schneider)
  • Space Streakings
  • Stan Lee & Leonard Graves Phillips (The Dickies)
  • Stanley Clarke (Return to Forever, Animal Logic)
  • Russ Stedman (Teenage Slots, Minor 2049er)
  • Steve Albini (Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac)
  • Subhumans
  • Sun City Girls
  • Sun Ra & His Arkestra
  • Superconductor
  • Swans
  • Syd Barrett & Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
  • Tall Dwarfs / Toy Love
  • The Tape-beatles
  • Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins, Zeni Geva)
  • Hound Dog Taylor
  • They Might Be Giants
  • Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy, The Greedies)
  • Throbbing Gristle
  • Thrones
  • Tom Morello & Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine)
  • Tom Waits
  • Tragic Mulatto
  • Trans Am
  • Velvet Underground
  • Victims Family
  • Voice Crack
  • Voivod
  • Violent Onsen Geisha
  • Von LMO
  • W.A.S.P.
  • Wall Of Voodoo
  • Andy Warhol
  • Wavves
  • Ween + Moistboyz + Z-Rock Hawaii
  • ‘Weird Paul’ Petroskey
  • Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics)
  • Wesley Willis
  • White Mice
  • Wild Man Fischer
  • Iannis Xenakis
  • Jay T. Yamamoto
  • Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms, Hanatarash, UFO or Die)
  • Zach Hill (Hella)
  • Zen Guerrilla
  • K.K. Null (Nux Organization, Zeni Geva, Absolut Null Punkt)
  • Zev Asher (Nimrod, Roughage, Flying Testicle, Bustmonster)
  • Zoogz Rift
  • ZZ Top
  • etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.,..

Chameleonesque Polystylism

Techniques:

I will play almost any instrument available to me. I might not be good at it. But, I’ll play it anyway. My attempts at drumming have been pitiful. My foot coordination is terrible. I finally ended up positioning the bass drum sideways, playing it timpani-style.

My vocals tend to be kinda high and nasally. But, I give it a little growl on the low end. Sometimes, I will incorporate mouth sounds, crooning, screeching, gurgling, whispering, screams, babbling, and plenty of electronic effects. It gives it more variety and covers-up my natural voice a little bit, which I’ve never liked very much.

My guitar / bass playing skills are, pretty good, not virtuoso… but still, pretty good. Both are pretty similar. My techniques aren’t meant for showing off, just to be used as an accent. I typically use a pick, most of the time, though. I believe that I’m a better bassist than a guitarist and a better composer than a musician.

I used to tape our jam sessions in their entirety, take that material home, then edit it into a foundation for songs. I’m not such a great improviser when multiple people are in the room, unless it is chaotic noise. I prefer composing alone, instead. It is probably better if I record things by myself, give it to others, let them pick out what they like, add their parts to it, and vice-versa.

I visualize music as abstract sounds, in waves, shapes and colors… like a rainbow oscilloscope. Tape editing / manipulation is often used as a compositional tool. Sheet music feels a little too rigid to me. I will sometimes score parts out on paper where I think it is appropriate, like on percussion instruments. Sometimes, I’ll jam riffs onto demos and pick out the best ones later. Sometimes, I’ll sing everything a capella, bang on junk, make noises, and interpret it later. On rare occasions, I’ve had entire songs pop into my head while I scramble to get it recorded before I forget. 

“Thinking too much can ruin a good time” – D. Boon (Minutemen)

When I am creating music & art, I probably do my best when my brain is turned off, just mental finger-painting, on “auto-pilot”. Everything that I am doing is sort of revealed to me as I am doing it. So, I don’t really know what it is until I am finished. Conscious messages don’t work very well for me. Stressing-out about money, transportation, food, and living conditions REALLY messes-up my mojo a lot, though.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” – Stephen King

Artwork:

My drawings tend to be stream-of-consciousness, cartoonish and surreal. When I paint, it is often a mixed-media style; utilizing spray paint, acrylics, house paint, stencils, marker pens, found objects, and collage, among other materials.

I have very little to no training at anything. I did well in high school drafting, wood shop, and art classes. That’s about it. Regretfully, I never attended an art school. I would have liked to. I am mostly self-taught, occasionally reading books on the subject. But, I don’t really spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s up with art. I do not have much interest in current trends.

My work could be categorized as Abstract, Outsider, Pop Art, Art Brut, Raw Vision, Folk Art, or whatever. These are labels found in the art world. To me… art is art is art… I’m an artist who is still looking for the right label only because everybody wants descriptions. They want you to EXPLAIN to them what it is that you do. People love folk and outsider art because it is spontaneous and devoid of most influences.

In the past, my paintings & drawings were usually given to friends or destroyed and discarded. I started selling them locally in the 1990’s. But, not really understanding how the professional art world works, I only sold items in person at music venues or record stores, wherever I happened to be. I’ve been reluctant to take it any further than that. But, there seems to be a growing interest in my stuff. So, I’m making it more available.

Physical Appearance:

Having a standard uniform of your own is useful. People like Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Steve Jobs wore clothing everyday that was nearly identical to all of the other clothes that they owned. It saved time and brainpower finding something to wear, when their entire wardrobes were virtually the same.

My physical appearance doesn’t change very much, day-to-day, either. Nearly everything I own is secondhand; from yard sales, garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores. I’ve always been a t-shirt and jeans guy. If I can’t find an outfit for under $12, I probably won’t buy it.

Sometimes I’ll try out new things, making small modifications to my so-called image. None of this is permanent. But, my typical everyday outfit includes;

  • Goatee & long hair.
  • Black jeans with a black button shirt (black goes with everything).
  • Converse Chuck Taylors, with boot laces, have always been my go-to shoes.
  • Recycled rubber belts adorned with a Captain America shield buckle.
  • Mix it up a little with different t-shirts.
  • Red glitter nail polish adds some color and sparkle.

Personal / Rules of Conduct:

My lifelong struggling with mental illness sometimes gets in the way. Clinical depression, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies are a debilitating combination. Medications help to keep the highs and lows manageable. But, they aren’t a cure. Music & art is my other world that I live in.

I seldom drink alcohol (preferably alone, when I do) and I loathe beer. I don’t smoke tobacco or abuse any drugs. It doesn’t really matter to me if anybody else does, unless it gets in the way of working or becomes obnoxious. Marijuana and hallucinogens are more tolerated than harder drugs.

I have little patience for perpetual fuck-ups who will constantly flake out on me.

A policy that I am now implementing is:

  • No collaborations without a deadline.

I was told that this is one of my mistakes when working with others. It is too open-ended. People require deadlines to get them off of their ass, apparently. That might be true. Unless someone says something to me, I will probably work alone and take forever doing it. I am still open to collaborating with people. Don’t get me wrong. But, I think establishing a time frame for projects would make them go along faster. I’m usually easy to schedule because I have more free time available than everybody else. We just need to work around the other commitments of interested participants

I am an atheist. I don’t believe in whatever Hell you think I’m going to, let alone your invisible friends. You can believe whatever you want to believe. But, if you’re a fundamentalist religious zealot (i.e., creationists who think that the flat Earth is 6,000 years old or 72 virgins await them in the afterlife because they won’t eat bacon) I would prefer not to hear about it.

I am open to different thinking – but aggressive sexism, racism, homophobia, or trans-phobia is not tolerated. I am LGBT-supportive and have friends from all sorts of different backgrounds. Bigots are not welcome. Go away.

There are not many groups that I believe I would fit into if I didn’t begin from scratch. I never had any delusions about “making it big” or getting rich. Earning a decent living as a self-employed artist-musician would be great, if possible. I am content if I make enough money to cover expenses, have a good dinner, and pay a few bills.

If you want to check out upcoming events or new stuff available add yourself onto the mailing list in the sidebar. There are also fundraising links there for anybody who wants to support my efforts.

Thanks!

Mike Nobody =^.^=

20th Anniversary + Birthday

Happy 20th Anniversary Birthday

I forgot to mention in the video that I received a hard copy of the comic book I contributed to, finally. It is called Heartman and was written & published by David Leibe-Hart, of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! He invited 48 artists, including myself, to illustrate his story.

David Leibe-Hart - Heartman Comic

Further information can be found here.

I’m making a long-term creative decision, a new policy:

  • Say nothing.
  • Get it done, first.
  • Talk about it, later

This was something that Thomas Edison learned, the hard way, after making promises about his new inventions that took longer than expected for him to bring to fruition. He eventually stopped doing that and just surprised people, after the fact.

Since I am often delayed by external forces (money, supplies, equipment, etc.), as well as personal issues, it makes me look bad. It looks to everyone else like all I that do is talk about what I’m “gonna do” and not actually get anything done. I can’t really blame anyone for having that perception. Since I don’t show everything that I do and I discard unfinished work. Stress exacerbates my mental health problems. That cuts into a lot of my productivity, too. Finding internal balance is a personal high priority, if I want to get out of my own way. Managing where I focus my attention, I have found, is much more important than when I schedule it. Although, having a schedule is important, too, or I wouldn’t get ANYTHING done.

Another new policy that I am implementing is:

  • No collaborations without a deadline.

I was told that this is one of my mistakes when working with others. It is too open-ended. People require deadlines to get them off of their ass, apparently. That might be true. Unless someone says something to me, I will probably work alone and take forever doing it. There is that problem with focusing, again. I am still open to collabs. Don’t get me wrong. But, I think establishing a time frame for projects would make them go along faster. I’m usually easy to schedule because I have more free time available than everybody else. We just need to work around the other commitments of interested participants.

I am figuring out how to go about collaborations, using my new policies.
I don’t want to pressure anyone too much.
Keep it fun.
But, still have a predictable process on a schedule.
So, okay, here is what I have got:

I will keep on doing what I do, alone.
I shouldn’t say any more about that.
The less the better.
When it is done, you will know.

If someone wants to work on a track with me I will set my thing aside and work on the collab, instead.
Somehow, I will turn it into something.
I will try to take no longer than a week to finish it, more or less, and return a copy of the finished mix.
You can do whatever you want with it.
The finished track will go into the next Island of Misfit Noise video or album project.
I haven’t figured out how I’m gonna do that, yet
I guess when we have enough completed material gathered, it will just go out.

What do you think?
Does it sound like a plan?

 

What Working-class and Poor White People Need to Understand About Rich White People

Rich people do not care about you.

No, I’m not talking about your cousin who drives a Mercedes, has his own insurance business, and always picks up the tab when you go out for beers. I’m talking about super-rich people: the Walton family, the Koch brothers and, yes, the Trumps. I’m talking about people who continue to make money off the backs of the poor while convincing those same people to remain loyal no matter what. But the truth is they are never going to share or trickle down their money to you — regardless of how white you are, how loyal you are, or how much you support their companies or their politicians.

When a family like the Waltons, worth over $50 billion — that’s billion with a “b” — are fine knowing their employees are collecting food stamps to survive and they do nothing about it, that speaks volumes. It says loud and clear: I don’t fucking care about you!

When Donald Trump was willing to close down and bankrupt multiple small businesses because he couldn’t be bothered to pay his bills, all while living in a gilded penthouse and flying around New York City in a helicopter, that screamed: I don’t fucking care about you!

Creating jobs isn’t a thing to be praised.

Creating well-paying jobs is. Billion-dollar corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s don’t create healthy economies. They create mass poverty. Anyone can create a job. I’ll pay you $1 an hour to clean my house, do lawn care and general maintenance Monday through Friday for eight hours a day. There, I created a job. Have I contributed anything to society? No. Have I boosted the economy? No. All I’ve done is put one person in poverty.

“Job-creation” is nothing more than a catchphrase that politicians use to get votes. It doesn’t mean anything. Let’s say there is a small town with 500 people and a factory opens and pays minimum wage. If the company hires everyone in the area, the result will not be a thriving community. It will be a community of 500 poor people. Yes, the factory technically created jobs, but it also spread poverty. Never forget they need us more than we need them. Without us working their low-paying jobs, they have nothing. Make them pay fairly for your labor. Make them create well-paying jobs.

Black and Brown people are not the reason you’re poor, rich white people are the reason you‘re poor.

Corporations siphon money from profits to share with stockholders, upper management, and CEOs, leaving everyone else, regardless of color, scrambling at the bottom for crappy pay. The owner of the factory is the reason you are poor, not the person of color working beside you for the same wage. Don’t be angry at the immigrant trying to make a better life. Be pissed off at the company who exploits both of you so they can pay lower wages and maximize profits.

There is NO such thing as a “Welfare Queen.”

There never was. Politicians made this up. It is propaganda designed to make you think people of color are lazy and want a free ride at your expense. If you resent them, you are more likely to vote to eliminate programs that benefit them but could also benefit your own family. Generations and generations of white people have been programmed to be racist even if it’s to their own detriment. By helping to keep people of color down, you keep yourself down — and that’s how politicians want it. Consider how the GIF below uses racist propaganda to persuade you to think negatively about people who need government assistance. (And no, one example of a person buying steaks with food stamps does not prove the entire welfare system is corrupt.)

The “War on Drugs” and “The War on Crime” are fake.

These programs target minority communities and keep the private prison system making billions. As collateral damage, poor whites sometimes get sucked into the system, but not enough that anyone cares. Poor people are funneled through the prison system with plea deals. Incarcerated people work for pennies a day in a modern-day slave trade, making products for billion-dollar corporations.

The rehabilitation system has almost no programs for actual rehabilitation because the system wants ex-convicts to fail. It’s how they keep the money pouring in. The propaganda of these fake wars tries to convince white people that black and brown people commit more crimes, that white people should fear them, and that prison is where they belong. If you allow yourself to be brainwashed by racism, the system will continue to prey on poor people of all colors. Rich people hire lawyers to get out of prison time. Poor people are scared and pressured into plea deals. And no one cares until it happens to them.

Stop listening to people who say you need to boot-strap your way up, especially if they have never had to boot-strap their way anywhere.

This is a myth wealthy people have been telling poor people for centuries. It’s a way to keep poor and working-class people grinding away at jobs that create more wealth for them, not you. It’s a way to pit working class people and poor people against each other. Instead of showing each other compassion and joining together, we look down on anyone we see as “not working hard enough” — even when that mentality keeps us down too. Working hard is admirable; being made to feel lazy or less than because you lack equal opportunity is manipulation.

Rich people don’t have some magical way of thinking that makes them rich. They aren’t better, smarter, or more creative than poor people. They have more money, and more money offers greater opportunities. That’s it.

I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t try to better their lives. Never give up. What I’m saying is stop beating yourself up because you face a longer, tougher road to succeed than someone who was born into wealth and privilege. And try to have compassion for those who are struggling to make ends meet. Beating people down who are already exhausted isn’t just unfair — it’s cruel.

Wealthy white people love to see poor people fighting among ourselves.

If we dislike each other over things like race, sexual orientation, and religion, then we aren’t paying attention to what the billionaires and politicians are doing. They want you to get riled up over wedding cakes, who uses what bathroom, and what to say at Christmas time. By pumping out media stories that make you think you are losing something, or that your lifestyle is in danger, they can keep you focused on stuff that really makes no difference in your life.

I’ll put it like this: if I offered you $5 more per hour at your job on the condition you do not insert yourself in matters that don’t concern you, like gay couples getting married, would you accept it? Here’s another way to look at it: would you rather have a $100 Christmas bonus, or a $1000 Holiday bonus? When we take a step back, get honest, and ask ourselves if we genuinely care how other people live, the answer is usually no. We get fired up over the onslaught of shocking headlines, and that’s exactly what people in power want.

Rich people have convinced working class people that unions are bad.

Workers are stuck in low-paying jobs without the power to walk out and negotiate for better wages and benefits. News outlets (owned by rich people) frame stories of union walkouts as if workers are lazy or greedy. They often show workers of color on picket lines to reinforce the notion that black and brown people want “something for nothing.” That is one way to minimize wages for workers and maximize payouts to stockholders and CEOs.

If a CEO makes $120 million a year, in one year he or she has enough so they never have to work again for the rest of their life. They never have to work another day, and neither do their grandkids or great-grandkids. The entire family is set. Do you think they care if the company goes belly up? Why would they when they’ve got theirs? If you lose your job are you set? Corporations spend a great deal of time peddling fear in workers that the most important thing is the “health” of the company above all else. That’s just a tricky way to convince workers to take less, so those at the top can take more. What’s the best way to achieve that? Split up unions and take away workers’ power. There is power in numbers, and they know it, and do everything they can to keep us from seeing it. Remember: without your labor, they have nothing!

When the show Friends became a runaway hit it came time for the actors to renegotiate their contracts. David Schwimmer, who played Ross, went to the rest of the cast and suggested that, instead of negotiating individually, which could lead to resentment if some were paid more than others, they should negotiate as a single group. The result was the entire cast was paid the same for the run of the show. It was equal and fair, and no one left the show because of hurt feelings or resentment. That’s a union.

There is a myth that raising the minimum wage would allow unskilled workers to make as much as skilled workers and that wouldn’t be fair.

Again, this is more spinning of tales so that wealthy CEOs can keep worker pay at an all-time low while they make billions. The truth is if minimum wage went up, skilled wages would go up too. How? Let’s say you are an EMT working for $15.00 an hour and the minimum wage goes up. Now everyone working in retail and fast food is making the same as you. Pretty insulting, right? Wrong. That’s what corporations want you to think so you will fight to keep other poor people down. If the minimum wage rose to $15, you could get a job anywhere for the same pay. That would give you leverage to negotiate a higher wage by saying, essentially, “There is now an abundance of jobs paying what I make. I can leave and take one of those jobs unless you pay me more for my added skills.” Your skills are now worth more. Instead of $15, you may get $20, but you’ll never get the $20 if you keep fighting to keep others down. Lifting others lifts you up too.

Continuing to support politicians who give tax breaks to the rich is never going to make your life better.

When a company gains billions in tax breaks, the people at the top get multi-million-dollar bonuses. Workers at the bottom may (if they are incredibly lucky) get $1000 after 20 years of service. That’s $50 a year! A one-time bonus of a $1000 will do nothing to change a working person’s life. At best, it will alleviate a bit of stress for one month. One month for 20 years! Meanwhile, CEOs and other top executives are wondering if they should buy a yacht or another vacation home. While poor people are cheering over being thrown slop, the rich are pigging out at the buffet table.

If poor and working-class people stop fighting each other and band together, we have the numbers to make real change. Rich people know this, and it terrifies them. If we suddenly start demanding better wages, they may have to give up a bit of profit. If we start demanding health care and quality education, they may have to pay a bit more in taxes. If we start treating each other with respect and equality, they can no longer use fear, homophobia, racism, and propaganda to distract us.

We have the power. Now we need to stop giving it away.

We Make Zines (Relocated Site)

Mike Nobody

We Make Zines

I forgot to update everybody on this. A few months ago, the website for We Make Zines had to relocate when they lost their web hosting provider. I had been a member since 2014. So, I reopened an account at the new site. All of my previous postings have been lost. So, aside from my profile, there isn’t much of mine to look at yet. Zinesters and enthusiasts can find plenty of other information there, though. The link is above.

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Happy New World Order Day

happy 9-11 cake

What We’ve Lost Since 9/11

PAUL J. RICHARDS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Taking Down the First Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. In the first, in the colonial years, a unitary executive, the King of England, ruled without checks and balances, allowing no freedom of speech, due process, or privacy when it came to protecting his power.

In the second, the principles of the Enlightenment and an armed rebellion were used to push back the king’s abuses. The result was a new country and a new constitution with a Bill of Rights expressly meant to check the government’s power. Now, we are wading into the shallow waters of a third era, a time when that government is abandoning the basic ideas that saw our nation through centuries of challenges far more daunting than terrorism. Those ideas — enshrined in the Bill of Rights — are disarmingly concise. Think of them as the haiku of a genuine people’s government.

Deeper, darker waters lie ahead and we seem drawn down into them. For here there be monsters.

The Powers of a Police State Denied

America in its pre-constitutional days may seem eerily familiar even to casual readers of current events. We lived then under the control of a king. (Think now: the imperial presidency.) That king was a powerful, unitary executive who ruled at a distance. His goal was simple: to use his power over “his” American colonies to draw the maximum financial gain while suppressing any dissent that might endanger his control.

In those years, protest was dangerous. Speech could indeed make you the enemy of the government. Journalism could be a crime if you didn’t write in support of those in power. A citizen needed to watch what he said, for there were spies everywhere, including fellow colonists hoping for a few crumbs from the king’s table. Laws could be brutal and punishments swift as well as extra-judicial. In extreme cases, troops shot down those simply assembling to speak out.

Among the many offenses against liberty in pre-constitutional America, one pivotal event, the Stamp Act of 1765, stands out. To enforce the taxes imposed by the Act, the king’s men used “writs of assistance“ that allowed them to burst into any home or business, with or without suspicion of wrongdoing. American privacy was violated and property ransacked, often simply as a warning of the king’s power. Some colonist was then undoubtedly the first American to mutter, “But if I have nothing to hide, why should I be afraid?” He soon learned that when a population is categorically treated as a potential enemy, everyone has something to hide if the government claims they do.

The Stamp Act and the flood of kingly offenses that followed created in those who founded the United States a profound suspicion of what an unchecked government could do, and a sense that power and freedom are not likely to coexist comfortably in a democracy. A balancing mechanism was required. In addition to the body of the Constitution outlining what the new nation’s government could do, needed was an accounting of what it could not do. The answer was the Bill of Rights.

The Bill’s preamble explained the matter this way: “…in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of [the government’s] powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added.” Thomas Jefferson commented separately, “[A] bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.”

In other words, the Bill of Rights was written to make sure that the new government would not replicate the abuses of power of the old one. Each amendment spoke directly to a specific offense committed by the king. Their purpose collectively was to lay out what the government could never take away. Knowing first-hand the dangers of a police state and unchecked power, those who wrote the Constitution wanted to be clear: never again.

It needs to be said that those imperfect men were very much of their era. They were right about much, but desperately wrong about other things. They addressed “humanity,” but ignored the rights of women and Native Americans. Above all, they did not abolish the institution of slavery, our nation’s Original Sin. It would take many years, and much blood, to begin to rectify those mistakes.

Still, for more than two centuries, the meaning of the Bill of Rights was generally expanded, though — especially in wartime — it sometimes temporarily contracted. Yet the basic principles that guided America were sustained despite civil war, world wars, depressions, and endless challenges. Then, one September morning, our Post-Constitutional era began amid falling towers and empty skies. What have we lost since? More than we imagine. A look at the Bill of Rights, amendment by amendment, tells the tale.

The First Amendment

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment was meant to make one thing indisputably clear: free speech was the basis for a government of the people. Without a free press, as well as the ability to openly gather, debate, protest, and criticize, how would the people be able to judge their government’s adherence to the other rights? How could people vote knowledgeably if they didn’t know what was being done in their name by their government? An informed citizenry, Thomas Jefferson stated, was “a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

That was how it was seen long ago. In Post-Constitutional America, however, the government strives to “control the message,” to actively thwart efforts to maintain a citizenry informed about what’s done in its name, a concept that these days seems as quaint as Jefferson’s powdered wig. There are far too many examples of the post-9/11 erosion of the First Amendment to list here. Let’s just look at a few important ones that tell the tale of what we have lost since 9/11.

(Lack of) Freedom of Information

In 1966, an idea for keeping Americans better informed on the workings of their government was hatched: the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Strengthened in 1974, it began with the premise that, except for some obvious categories (like serious national security matters and personal information), the position of the government should be: everything it does is available to the public. Like the Bill of Rights, which made specific the limits of government, FOIA began with a presumption that it was the government’s duty to make information available — and quickly — to the people, unless a convincing case could be made otherwise. The default position of the FOIA switch was set to ON.

Three decades later, the FOIA system works far differently. Agencies are generally loath to release documents of any sort and instead put their efforts into creating roadblocks to legitimate requests. Some still require signatures on paper. (The State Department notes, “Requests for personal information cannot be submitted electronically and should be submitted by mail.”) Others demand hyper-detailed information like the precise dates and titles of documents whose dates and titles may be classified and unavailable. The NSA simply denies almost all FOIA requests out of hand, absent a court order.

Most federal agencies now regard the deadline mandated for a response as the time period to send out a “request received” note. They tend to assign only a few staff members to processing requests, leading to near-endless delays. At the State Department, most FOIA work is done on a part-time basis by retirees. The CIA won’t directly release electronic versions of documents. Even when a request is fulfilled, “free” copying is often denied and reproduction costs exaggerated.

In some cases, the requested records have a way of disappearing or are simply removed. The ACLU’s experience when it filed an FOIA-style request with the Sarasota police department on its use of the cell phone surveillance tool Stingray could be considered typical. The morning the ACLU was to review the files, Federal Marshals arrived and physically took possession of them, claiming they had deputized the local cops and made the files federal property. An ACLU spokesperson noted that, in other cases, federal authorities have invoked the Homeland Security Act to prevent the release of records.

John Young, who runs the web site Cryptome and is a steadfast FOIA requester, stated, “Stonewalling, delay, brush-off, lying are normal. It is a delusion for ordinary requesters and a bitch of a challenge for professionals. Churning has become a way of life for FOIA, costly as hell for little results.”

Sealed Lips and the Whistleblower

All government agencies have regulations requiring employees to obtain permission before speaking to the representatives of the people — that is, journalists. The U.S. Intelligence Community has among the most restrictive of these policies, banning employees and contractors completely from talking with the media without prior authorization. Even speaking about unclassified information is a no-no that may cost you your job. A government ever more in lockdown mode has created what one journalist calls a “culture where censorship is the norm.”

So who does speak to Americans about their government? Growing hordes of spokespeople, communications staff, trained PR crews, and those anonymous “senior officials” who pop up so regularly in news articles in major papers.

With the government obsessively seeking to hide or spin what it does, in-the-sunlight contact barred, and those inside locked behind an iron curtain of secrecy, the whistleblower has become the paradigmatic figure of the era. Not surprisingly, anyone who blows a whistle has, in these years, come under fierce attack.

Pick a case: Tom Drake exposing early NSA efforts to turn its spy tools on Americans, Edward Snowden proving that the government has us under constant surveillance, Chelsea Manning documenting war crimes in Iraq and sleazy diplomacy everywhere, John Kiriakouacknowledging torture by his former employer the CIA, or Robert MacLean revealing Transportation Safety Administration malfeasance. In each instance, the threat of jail was quick to surface. The nuclear option against such truthtellers is the Espionage Act, a law that offended the Constitution when implemented in the midst of World War I. It has been resurrected by the Obama administration as a blunt “wartime” tool for silencing and punishing whistleblowers.

The Obama administration has already charged six people under that act for allegedly mishandling classified information. Even Richard Nixon only invoked it once, in a failed prosecution against Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Indeed, the very word “espionage” couldn’t be stranger in the context of these cases. None of those charged spied. None sought to aid an enemy or make money selling secrets. No matter. In Post-Constitutional America, the powers-that-be stand ready to twist language in whatever Orwellian direction is necessary to bridge the gap between reality and the king’s needs. In the Espionage Act case of State Department contractor Stephen Kim, a judge departed from previous precedent, ruling that the prosecution need not even show that the information leaked to a Fox news reporter from a CIA report on North Korea could damage U.S. national security or benefit a foreign power. It could still be a part of an “espionage” charge.

A final question might be: How could a law designed almost 100 years ago to stop German spies in wartime have become a tool to silence the few Americans willing to risk everything to exercise their First Amendment rights? When did free speech become a crime?

Self-Censorship and the Press

Each person charged under the Espionage Act in these years was primarily a source for a journalist. The writers of the Bill of Rights chose to include the term “press” in the First Amendment, specifically carving out a special place for journalists in our democracy. The press was necessary to question government officials directly, comment on their actions, and inform the citizenry about what its government was doing. Sadly, as the Obama administration is moving ever more fiercely against those who might reveal its acts or documents, the bulk of the media have acquiesced. Glenn Greenwald said it plainly: too many journalists have gone into a self-censoring mode, practicing “obsequious journalism.”

For example, a survey of reporters showed “the percentage of U.S. journalists endorsing the occasional use of ‘confidential business or government documents without authorization,’ dropped significantly from 81.8% in 1992 to 57.7% in 2013.” About 40% of American journalists would not have published documents like those Edward Snowden revealed.

And the same has been true of the management of newspapers. In mid-2004, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau uncovered George W. Bush’s illegal warrantless eavesdropping program, but the New York Times held the story for 15 months, until after Bush’s reelection. Executives at the Times were told by administration officials that if they ran the story, they’d be helping terrorists. They accepted that. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times similarly gave in to the NSA and suppressed a story on government wiretaps of Americans.

Government Efforts to Stop Journalists

Reporters need sources. Increasingly, the government is classifying just about any document it produces — 92 million documents in 2011 alone. Its intelligence agencies have even classified reports about the over-classification of documents.  As a result, journalistic sources are often pressed into discussing, at great personal risk, classifiedinformation. Forcing a reporter to reveal such sources discourages future whistleblowing.

In one of the first of a series of attempts to make journalists reveal their sources, former Fox News reporter Mike Levine stated that the Justice Department persuaded a federal grand jury to subpoena him in January 2011. The demand was that he reveal his sources for a 2009 story about Somali-Americans who were secretly indicted in Minneapolis for joining an al-Qaeda-linked group in Somalia. Levine fought the order and the Department of Justice finally dropped it without comment in April 2012. Call it a failed test case.

According to Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell, who defended Stephen Kim, significant amounts of time have been spent by the Department of Justice in the search for a legal rationale for indicting journalists for their participation in exposing classified documents. A crucial test case is James Risen’s 2006 book, State of War, which had an anonymously sourced chapter on a failed CIA operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. When Risen, citing the First Amendment, refused to identify his source or testify in the trial of the former CIA officer accused of being that source, the government sought to imprison him. He responded that the “Obama administration… wants to use this case and others like it to intimidate reporters and whistleblowers. But I am appealing to the Supreme Court because it is too dangerous to allow the government to conduct national security policy completely in the dark.”

In June 2014, the Supreme Court refused to take Risen’s case on appeal, essentially ratifying a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that the First Amendment didn’t protect a reporter from being forced to testify about “criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in.” That decision makes clear that a reporter receiving classified information from a source is part of the crime of “leaking.”

Risen has said he will go to prison rather than testify. It is possible that, having secured the precedent-setting right to send Risen to jail, the government will bring the suspected leaker to trial without calling on him. Attorney General Eric Holder recently hinted that his Justice Department might take that path — a break for Risen himself, but not for reporters more generally who now know that they can be jailed for refusing to divulge a source without hope of recourse to the Supreme Court.

The Descent Into Post-Constitutionalism

As with the King of England once upon a time, many of the things the government now does have been approved in secret, sometimes in secret courts according to a secret body of law. Sometimes, they were even approved openly by Congress. In constitutional America, the actions of the executive and the laws passed by Congress were only legal when they did not conflict with the underlying constitutional principles of our democracy. Not any more. “Law” made in secret, including pretzeled legal interpretations by the Justice Department for the White House, opened the way, for instance, to the use of torture on prisoners and in the Obama years to the drone assassination of Americans. Because such “legalities” remain officially classified, they are, of course, doubly difficult to challenge.

But can’t we count on the usual pendulum swings in American life to change this? There were indeed notable moments in American history when parts of the Constitution were put aside, but none are truly comparable to our current situation. The Civil War lasted five years, with Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus limited in geography and robustly contested. The World War II Japanese internment camps closed after three years and the persecuted were a sub-set of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. Senator McCarthy’s notorious career as a communist-hunter lasted four years and ended in shame.

Almost 13 years after the 9/11 attacks, it remains “wartime.” For the war on terror, the driver, excuse, and raison d’être for the tattering of the Bill of Rights, there is no end in sight. Recently retired NSA head Keith Alexander is typical of key figures in the national security state when he claims that despite, well, everything, the country is at greater risk today than ever before. These days, wartime is forever, which means that a government working ever more in secret has ever more latitude to decide which rights in which form applied in what manner are still inalienable.

The usual critical history of our descent into a post-constitutional state goes something like this: in the panic after the 9/11 attacks, under the leadership of Vice President Dick Cheney with the support of President George W. Bush, a cabal of top government officials pushed through legal-lite measures to (as they liked to say) “take the gloves off” and allow kidnappingtortureillegal surveillance, and offshore imprisonment along with indefinite detention without charges or trial.

Barack Obama, elected on a series of (false) promises to roll back the worst of the Bush-era crimes, while rejecting torture and closing America’s overseas “black sites,” still pushed the process forward in his own way. He expanded executive power, emphasized drone assassinations (including against American citizens), gave amnesty to torturers, increased government secrecy, targeted whistleblowers, and heightened surveillance. In other words, two successive administrations lied, performed legal acrobatics, and bullied their way toward a kind of absolute power that hasn’t been seen since the days of King George. That’s the common narrative and, while not wrong, it is incomplete.

Missing Are the People

One key factor remains missing in such a version of post-9/11 events in America: the people. Even today, 45% of Americans, when polled on the subject, agree that torture is “sometimes necessary and acceptable to gain information that may protect the public.” Americans as a group seem unsure about whether the NSA’s global and domestic surveillance is justified, and many remain convinced that Edward Snowden and the journalists who published his material are criminals. The most common meme related to whistleblowers is still “patriot or traitor?” and toward the war on terror, “security or freedom?”

It’s not that Americans are incorrect to be fearful and feel in need of protection. The main thing we need to protect ourselves against, however, is not the modest domestic threat from terrorists, but a new king, a unitary executive that has taken the law for its own, aided and abetted by the courts, supported by a powerful national security state, and unopposed by a riven and weakened Congress. Without a strong Bill of Rights to protect us — indeed, secure us — from the dangers of our own government, we will have gone full-circle to a Post-Constitutional America that shares much in common with the pre-constitutional British colonies.

Yet there is no widespread, mainstream movement of opposition to what the government has been doing. It seems, in fact, that many Americans are willing to accept, perhaps even welcome out of fear, the death of the Bill of Rights, one amendment at a time.

We are the first to see, in however shadowy form, the outlines of what a Post-Constitutional America might look like. We could be the last who might be able to stop it.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. A TomDispatch regular, he writes about current events at his blog We Meant Well. His new book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent, is available now.  In future pieces at TomDispatch he will consider other amendments being dismantled in the post-9/11 era.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me.

Hardhead

never-give-up-cbfb

One of my biggest strengths (and weaknesses) is persistence. I have been told several times that I “don’t know when to quit.” That can be either a good thing or a bad thing, I guess, depending on the circumstances. I may have setbacks, which slow me down, change how I do things, or have to fight with my own brain, sometimes. But, I still keep trying.

A really cool drummer guy has unfriended me on FB and dropped out of our FB group. Admittedly, it is entirely my fault. I have been lost in my own headspace again, losing touch with everybody for too long. He feels like I have used and neglected him, which wasn’t my intention at all. I honestly get fixated on one thing or another and lose track of everything else. It happens to me all of the time. Does that make me a bad person or just a bad friend?

My social skills are shit and my behavior can sometimes be erratic.
So, I don’t think being in bands long-term are ever gonna work out for me.
It never does. But, the music scene is just about the only social life that I have, playing with other musicians, performing at gigs, etc. So, I guess doing short-term projects with other people is the only way I’m going to remain active in that community. I mean, I’m stubborn. I know this shit isn’t going to work out. But, I keep doing it anyway. Maybe admitting that, to myself, is the only way for me to move forward with anything.

 

New Comic Book Available!

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Hello, I received a message from David Liebe Hart, from the Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job! He finally raised enough funds to publish the comic book that I and others contributed to several months ago. The text is below, if you are interested.


Hello friends of David.  We are excited to announce the Kickstarter campaign for our comic book, Heartman, starring David as the superhero who, along with his sidekick Chip, must save the universe from his evil nemesis Dr. Pain.  Each of the beautiful 44 pages is illustrated by a different artist including DLH himself.  With about 5 days to go we’ve reached our goal to raise enough money to order 250 full-color, finely crafted copies for $1500.  You can order your David-signed copy now.  There are also some exclusive rewards for donating extra $.  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/884844058/david-liebe-hart-of-tim-and-eric-in-heartman-comic

August’s west coast tour will go from San Diego CA to Bellingham WA, and will have David joined by a 3-piece space-rock band led by Mo Troper.  September-October’s tour, ranging from Las Vegas to Detroit to Boise, will feature me, Jonah, playing David’s backing music and video projection, along with support acts Chip The Black Boy and Whatever Your Heart Desires.  Details and tickets for all the shows will gradually be updated at http://ArtByLiebeHart.com/shows in the coming weeks, but at the bottom of this I’ll paste complete details for the August shows.
And your subscriber’s exclusive this month is an alternate version of the song “Martin Lawrence Show Dream” from the forthcoming David & Jad Fair album – http://hartandhartmann.com/martin%20lawrence%20show%20dream%20-%20draft2.mp3
❤ Jonah
for David Liebe Hart

LOS ANGELES CA 8/5
The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd, $10 advance, $12 door, 8pm (7pm doors), 21+
Support: Adult Karate, Martin Martins, R. Clown
 
SAN DIEGO CA 8/6
Queen Bee’s, 3925 Ohio St, $10 advance, $12 door, 9pm (8pm doors), all ages
Support: Legion X, The Gay Agenda
 
PALM SPRINGS CA 8/7
Ace Hotel, 701 E Palm Canyon Dr, FREE, 9pm, 21+
 
SANTA CRUZ CA 8/8
Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave, $8 advance, $10 door, 9pm (8pm doors), 21+
Support: TBA
 
SAN FRANCISCO CA 8/9
Knockout, 3223 Mission St, $10 advance, $12 door, 9pm (8pm doors), 21+
Support: Chaki, Tabor Mountain, Eric Cash
 
SACRAMENTO CA 8/10
Highwater, 1910 Q St, $10 advance, $12 door, 9pm (8pm doors), 21+
Support: Skrrt, Vandalaze, Awkward Cougar, Mike Calvin, Mars Parker
 
ARCATA CA 8/11
The Miniplex @ Richard’s Goat, 401 I St, $10 advance, $12 door, 9pm, 21+
Support: Dr. Foxmeat, TBA
 
MEDFORD OR 8/12
Johnny B’s, 120 E 6th St, $10 advance, $12 door, 8pm (7pm doors), 21+
Support: Iconoplasty, The Juniper Berries, Sound Of The Skeptic
 
EUGENE OR 8/14
Secret location TBA, $8 advance, $10 door, 
Support: Steak Richardson, Turtlenecked
 
SALEM OR 8/15
The Space, 1128 Edgewater St NW, $10 advance, $12 door, 6:30pm (6pm doors), all ages
Support: Chief Crow & The Flat Earthworms, Percy Lounge, Vortex Remover
 
PORTLAND OR 8/16
Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave, $10 advance, $12 door, 8pm, 21+
Support: Nasalrod, Dim Wit, Tig Bitty, Jay Shingle
 
OLYMPIA WA 8/17
Le Voyeur, 404 4th Ave E, $8 advance, $10 door, 7:55pm (7:30 doors), all ages
Support: The Deceptives, Sunstang, Skrill Meadow, Bananas Foster
 
SEATTLE WA 8/18
Highline Bar, 210 Broadway E, $12 advance, $14 door, 9pm, 21+
Support: Hangry Hayrabs, Porn Bloopers
 
BELLINGHAM WA 8/19
Bellingham Alternative Library, 519 E Maple St, $10 advance, $12 door, 8:30pm (7:30 doors), all ages
Support: TBA
 
SPOKANE WA 8/20
Big Dipper, 171 S Washington St, $8 advance, $10 door, 7:30pm (7pm doors), 18+
Support: Itchy Kitty, Bandit Train, The Midnight Goats