Happy birthday, Woody

Today’s Woody Guthrie’s would be 100th birthday.

Growing up, we always sang his songs at campfire during our weeks-long school camping trips. 25 or so hippy kids belt out “This Land Is Your Land” around the crackling warmth in the cold night after a long day of hiking and exploring in the desert. It was always my favorite one.

Little did I know that he was a revolutionary song writer, the kind I wish we now had to inspire us through the madness. He was a true political artist, who cared about getting his song heard and loved rather than purely find a profit off of them. I love this quote, as it shows that even back then the real creators and the makers had already seen through ridiculousness of copyright:

On the typescript submitted for copyright of “This Land Is Your Land”, Guthrie wrote:

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

[source]

Then this one:

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. …

I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood.

I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.

And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you’ve not any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.”

[source]

R.I.P.

Woody Guthrie “All You Fascists Bound To Lose”

pickle juice.

Someone just sent me this video of Nicki Minaj from a documentary that aired almost 2 years ago, something which is now on the top of my “shit to watch when I’m eating frozen food alone in my robe after a long day at work” list.

Yea, I wrote before about how much I’m still a big fan despite her new album being waaay off base. But I’m convinced more than evar that somewhere buried in there is this awesome, strong, bonkers woman. <3

TPP hangover

I went down to SoCal last week to partake in the first two days of action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP)’s intellectual property chapter. The negotiations were in San Diego at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, where I spent a few days running around organizing materials, attending tables/briefings, and giving talks about what’s so wrong about the TPP in regards to digital rights.

Stakeholder briefing event: The trade negotiators lined up taking questions.

Before attending all of these events and getting to know other activists who are fighting this huge monster of all international trade agreements, I wasn’t too familiar with the other countless ways in which the TPP would screw over everyone and their mother. It’s my job to know how the TPP would strangle the Internet and digital speech/privacy/innovation, but it’s not my job to learn or talk about what the IP provisions in the TPP (of what we know from the only leak that occurred two years ago) will also mean for people’s health, environment, and security.

The TPP’s IP chapter as written would extend patents on medicines in a way that will make it so expensive for massive populations in developing countries, that millions of people won’t be able to afford lifesaving drugs anymore.

The investment chapter that leaked a few weeks ago, prevents countries from holding multi-national corporations accountable for environmental damage they may do. The companies can *sue the countries* for the loss of profit/production that may have lost because their operations had to be shut down, because say, the children around a given factory were getting poisoned from the fumes that it produced.

And the bullshit goes on and on…

It was really wonderful meeting all the activists who’ve been attending these negotiations and working their asses off to fight it. I got a high from speaking at these events and explaining why they should be pissed off about this crazy purposefully-complex monster agreement. But holy crap, it’s exhausting.

begin rant/

It’s not just that it takes a lot of energy to do everything, it’s the heavy mental weight of it. There’s so much power, so much money, so much interstate politics wrapped up in it that it almost feels hopeless. It’s obscene how the things that are being sought to be put in there is completely backward. So backward that it feels like they’re trying to restore the Dark Ages at a time when there’s so much endless potential for some truly cathartic problem solving and frank empirical research to be done.

When I think about all the ways in which the TPP is fucked, it leads me to think blame the underlying political problem: Our democracy is broken. This is why people, the trade negotiators, who claim to represent the interests of the country would concede to things that are completely and utterly bad for the broader public while protecting and advancing the interests of multi-national corporations (mostly pointing the finger at the U.S., since I don’t know what it’s like in those other countries). The TPP is one palpable manifestation of how badly broken our institutions of power have become.

It comes down to the fact that certain interests are out to make the rules, and these rules put everyone else at a huge disadvantage. The question is, how can the legitimacy of these powers be undermined? How can we prevent these destructive rules and laws from getting established?

I want my laws to make sense. I want my laws to be about promoting security and justice in a way that can be empirically justified. Laws can’t be founded on fairy tales anymore…We’re too scientifically and philosophically advanced for this bullshit.

/end rant

Anyway, here’s a photo of Carlos, who organized many of the Occupy SD events, and I after the rally speech: