From Arthur No. 35 (August 2013)…
Illustration by Lale Westvind. “You’re going to need a good orange or pink leather jacket and a helmet with a Mohawk sewn into it. People think motorcyclists wear this stuff because they are dicks. Not at all. Motorcycle people dress like assholes in order to be noticed. The rider wants you to hate him, because not being seen on a motorcycle is to risk being invisible forever more.”
LET ME FINISH
by Dave Reeves
Gash, Crash, Ash: Nobody Rides for Free
If ever the world gets to be too much there’s nothing like a good near-death experience to cheer you up. I know this because I got one parked in the driveway.
It’s called a motorcycle and you need to get one. Cheap insurance. Less gas. No pesky seatbelts. And those two wheels mean inherent instability, a condition familiar to readers of this magazine.
Admit it, when you’re stuck in your cage in traffic and a motorcycle enthusiast blows by on a rolling vibrator with a girl hugging onto him real tight you hate him. That’s the natural reaction of a loser when confronted with pure energy conservationalist. Despite all appearances, a stinking apehanger Harley rider and his niece risk their lives to use less gas, tires and common sense than anybody in a car. The man is hero, a conscientious objector to the oil wars. He and his ilk have the moral high ground on every liberal in his gas guzzling, slave labor-manufactured Prius.
Sure, a lot motorcyclists gang up with mean names like Mongols or Cretins or CHIPS. That’s just to cover up how much they care for the earth. I’m here to tell you from long experience that motorcycle gang members don’t waste water by showering, hardly ever even use a toilet and if they do, they never flush.
No, you cannot borrow mine. A motorcycle, like guns and heroin, can’t be lent out. This is because of the Death in it. Nobody can hold your hand to walk you into something cool as Death. Nossir, you got to walk that lonesome valley all by yourself.
So come and join the friendly world of motorcycling, a sport that you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life, however short that may be. Here are some helpful pointers to help you get the rubber on the road.
First off, don’t go running your mouth about buying a bike before you do it. Keep it hush-hush because people who love you are going to beg you not to get one. And they are going to cry. But people who love you be damned. What do they know?
Your so-called family members will fixate on the tabloid dangers of motorcycles, overlooking the myriad health benefits. For instance, there is no way to smoke while riding a motorcycle. And you can cry all you want inside your helmet and no one can see you. I know that crying isn’t really a health thing, but it was all I had.
They say that the first week you ride your bike is the most dangerous, except, of course, for your last week. Hee hee. Gallows humor is the funnest part of being a “donorcyclist.” It’s a way of coping, because it ain’t nothing nice on the street. Traffic snarls and jams. Riding safely is about making choices rapidly, any of which might be your last. Chances are that a driver will apply ketchup to a French fry while taking a left and BAM. All those right choices you made were for nothing. So, yuk it up while you can.
You’re going to need a good orange or pink leather jacket and a helmet with a Mohawk sewn into it. People think motorcyclists wear this stuff because they are dicks. Not at all. Motorcycle people dress like assholes in order to be noticed. Same thing with the loud pipes. The rider wants you to hate him, because not being seen on a motorcycle is to risk being invisible forever more. How many of my two-wheeled brethren will ride out this evening only to see the dawn in Valhalla? Not enough to stop global warming.
There’s no rhyme or reason to who gets chewed up by the road. Riders both good and bad are routinely mashed up by random winds, sexting and 16-year-olds. Nothing to be done about it except pay it forward at the blood bank.
Motorbikers develop a spiritual side because a lot of their friends are dead. As a responsible ‘cyclist you’ll learn little tricks like keeping a flask in your suit to put the fun back in the funeral. Funeral tip: never Ouija board with the widow!
The next step to becoming a motorcyclist is to decide with which brand he or she affiliates. A motorcycle is a fashion accessory, like a hat for your ass. These are some helpful guidelines as to who rides which type of asshat:
Harley Davidson- if he isn’t a dentist then there’s a 90 percent chance that he’s in need of one.
Honda people – chicken hands.
Triumph- soccer not football.
Kawasaki- kills Armenians like Turkey.
Goldwing- half a Buick.
BMW guys- overserved Bloody Marys.
Ducati- Catholic damage, likes to rage.
Two-stroke dirt bikers- conceived in a porta jon.
When purchasing a death trap it also may behoove one to consider the reputed reliability of each manufacturer. If history is a guide, Bavarian Motor Works are proven in all terrains, as BMW’s have blitzkrieged Moscow, chewed up Tunisia and flown the English channel. Conversely, no one has ever flown a Harley Davidson airplane, anywhere.
It’s important to pick your machine carefully as you would a religion, as you’ll have to go to the Mechanic to drink shitty wine, pay obeisance and tithe one or five times a month. The first rule of fixing a motorcycle is no one can really fix a motorcycle. This means you’ll get to know your grease monkey—excuse me—Grease God, very well, and over time, you might even learn to not hate him.
Mechanics say cryptic shit, charge you more money than you thought it was possible and then take a month to look at your bike. This is normal mechanic behavior. Show no fear, make yourself bigger, advance. Make offerings. They like the good stuff in life like whippets, Jim Beam and the ravings of insane women at dawn.
After the initial bribe party, if things went well, and you are cool enough, the mechanic will begin to pretend to fix your bike. You’ll renegotiate a price. After the price is agreed upon it will go up again. Who are you to complain? The combustion chamber of a motorcycle engine burns what little lead the liberals have left us in our fuels to make a golden flame to power your steely mount. Alchemy was never cheap. Whatever you have to tell yourself to pay the money and shut up. Resistance is futile, because the second rule is all motorcycles are about to break down all the time. Here’s a hint: when finally The Mechanic works on your bike chew up a couple Adderals and spit it in his drink to help him focus.
Once you get that motorcycle going, it’s totally killer, dude. The great god Pan flutes through gaps in your helmet and teeth. A flick of the wrist truncates ten foot dividing lines to little white orbs. Which reminds you to take your pills. Or maybe you did already? You can’t remember. Anyway. Riding a motorcycle is an emotional experience and, as with all emotional experiences, it helps to be a little drunk. Sober people don’t ride down the road between cars full of people watching pornos in their headrests. That would be crazy.
As with all attempts at near death, proper dosage is key. There are a lot of factors to be considered in how many beers a person should drink in order to pilot a motorcycle safely. Also, it’s important to remember what you ate that day, and if it was laced. It’s up to you to know this stuff as a motorcycle driver because policemen won’t pull you over to give you the friendly drunk reminder ticket like they do for cars. They know that, sooner or later, drunk bikers get pulled over by the great Cop in the Sky. So, rule of thumb is drink exactly one or two drinks per hour or twenty minutes of riding.
The enormity of the danger inherent in two wheeled motorized transportation forces the motorcyler to become a student of luck, and luck is a pagan thing. So, you have to worship the Devil. Buddhism is also an alternative, due to the fact that karma doesn’t kill. It is with this axiom in mind that I do a bad deed a day: steal candy from babies, prank call old ladies, litter—anything to exploit the “karma doesn’t kill” loophole and ride my machine longer. If the good die young then I’m going to live forever.
Though Dave Reeves has been riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles for six years straight, the article he wrote this month scared him from riding anymore. Dave Reeves chickened out and bought a truck. He is a cowardly war mongerer. Dave also writes movies and is probably working on a book.
Originally published in Arthur Magazine No. 17 (July 2005)
illo by Greg Cook
Siphon Your Way to Financial Freedom
by Dave Reeves
1. Pick your siphon
Get a clear hose, six feet long and at least an inch in diameter. Make sure you get a thick-walled hose because you are going to have to push it all the way down the gasshole of an SUV. Hardware stores sell them for about a buck a foot. Get a five-gallon gas can while you are at it.
2. Find a target
SUVs’ 40-gallon tanks are the most profitable vehicles from which to liberate gas. The sense of panic the SUV driver feels when his behemoth gets less than the normal ten miles to the gallon is an added benefit.
Try to pick a full one and don’t be deterred by silly gas tank locks which are merely cosmetic and can be turned with almost any key.
Donut shops provide great gas hunting because it’s like a law that police cars have to be all the way full all the time.
Getting caught siphoning is not cool. So pull your vehicle next to the target and open up the doors to make a little room where you can do the deed unobserved. Put your gas can on the ground in between the doors. If someone eyeballs you pretend like you are changing clothes.
4. Hose pushing
Push the hose down into the target tank till you think you hit the gas.
5. Start sucking
Start sucking on the hose and get the gas going. If you were smart and got the clear hose you’ll see the copper-colored nectar coming and be able to get the hose out of your mouth and channel the flow into the intended receptacle. If you sleep on this step your breath will smell like west Texas for no less than three days.
6. Drain the pain away
Once the siphon gets going it will flow steady and strong into your gas can.
The “Siphon Effect” can be explained with all sorts of scientifical facts about how “atmospheric pressure” maintains the vacuum you created when you sucked gas from the higher “gravitational potential energy” up in the vehicle which seeks to stabilize itself by flowing into the can on the ground, but all that bullshit obscures the fact that the “Siphon Effect” is actually just magic.
I can get five gallons in four minutes flat. That’s three bucks a minute, and you can’t make that at Walmart.
Published in the Border Crossing issue (Arthur No. 18, Sept. 2005). All the good photography is Simon Lund. Bad photos taken by author Dave “David” Reeves.
I’m not bragging, but I had a little skin cancer. I walked around L. A. trying to generate sympathy with it, maybe get a free beer. Nobody cared. Everybody has a disease now.
A friend of mine insisted I come to a rainforest clinic near his hotel in Iquitos, Peru. “There’s no cancer here. This is the where big pharmaceutical companies come to crib traditional medicines from Amazonian witch doctors for a ‘healthy profit.'”
Three derelict 727s lay off the runway in Iquitos, all with the same story: “Crash landed one night, full of coca paste. The pilot ran off into the jungle.”
The Iquitos airport is at the southern border of the cradle of cocaine. For years the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had a rule called “Fly and Die”; one of the program’s outcomes was that a reported 60 civilian aircraft were downed by DEA agents between Iquitos and Columbia. This program lost funding last November when agents blasted a Cessna full of missionaries out of the sky. Consequently, the DEA is now gone from the area, and continuous flights north make up what is known as ”The Air Bridge”—the route by which Peruvian coca paste is flown to Columbian processing labs, yielding two thirds of the world’s cocaine.
Iquitos runs on unmuffled mopeds racing from red light to red light at full speed. It’s fun at first but after awhile you feel like you live in a wasp’s nest from the insistent buzzing.
“The Venice of Peru” is tacked together from the continuous stream of balsa rafts floating down the Amazon. Harvesting balsa is profitable only when used to hide the great bulks of coca paste sent down river. All day and night saw blades shriek in the mills lining the river, giving the air a fresh piney scent. It is in this way that the world loses its last rainforest to gain another slum.
The population of Iquitos is estimated at a half a million people, but there is no way to parse the burgeoning chaos of the floating ghetto called Belen. No one starves here as fruit falls out of the tree right on your head. If you can’t hook a fish, just wait for one of these ugly bastards to crawl up on land.
When the food comes in Peru they say, “Let’s eat a little of life and death.”
Back when the Soviets had money they provided Peru the bulk of its economic aid. In order to sabotage those godless Commies, the CIA exponentialized the cocaine trade by facilitating the formation of cartels that moved coca from the cradle of cocaine to labs in Columbia and then to American ghettoes where it was wildly popular and generated enough profit for a lot of really wonderful covert CIA operations.
This was a blow to the Soviets, and so they started a great rumor that has apparently killed more missionaries than the DEA. The rumor goes like this: The Americans have a squad of silent glider planes that land at night and harvest the fat of children, which is used to fuel our rockets to the moon.Continue reading
IF YOU MISSED THE LAST EIGHT OF THESE HERE’S THE QUICK PITCH:
Even though the only thing Che ever put on his shirt was blood, sweat and little bits of traitor brains,
Andre the Giant doesn’t have a posse,
and by the time anybody got around to defending Brooklyn it was just another Alamo,
the revolutionary bent of the modern T-shirt fad suggested that, despite years of anger management classes, behavior medication and lack of decent education Americans can still get mad enough to shell out twenty something dollars to be rebellious. Which means a lot, considering votes are free.
Young people sporting the shadow of the AK 47, cameos of violent revolutionaries and whatever Shepherd Fairey decided to steal that week did so in order to appear dangerous, which is often all that is needed to keep predators in check.
It was with these fads that I rediscovered hope in the generation with the X hung on it. I wasn’t the only one. Spike Lee contacted me and asked if he could use the T-shirt in a movie called “Inside Man.” We met and I gave him permission, hoping that it would be a “Defend Brooklyn” commercial when it came out.Continue reading
So. 9/11. Boom Boom. Civil rights canceled. Special Delivery. Airmail. And woe is us, for the forked phallus of Wall Street was the lodestone of the Bush Gang, without which maps and words lost meaning, until Operation “Enduring Freedom” kicked down the doors of the wrong war.
Most of the real terrorists were killed at the crash site, so the Department of Justice took advantage of aggressive new statutes to give a violent monster named “Free” twenty years of jail for burning down a beautiful young Truck. National discourse about this chain of events was relegated to sloganeering as the recently purchased Fourth Estate parroted the “For Us or against Us” hokum coming from our beloved “leaders”.
The message to The Left was clear: Motherfuckers ain’t up against The Wall no more. A New Dark Age was upon us, complete with thumbscrews and crusaders. So, all the protest kids lost their phone numbers, changed aliases, switched partners and cooped up in different crash pads. Scared. Riots failed to occur where they were guaranteed before and, consequently, tomatoes lost their flavor.
I put my Defend Brooklyn militia project on the back burner. Who knew what a “terrorism czar” was, or what he thought about jingoistic AK 47 t shirts? The Brooklyn we were defending had been overrun, anyway. By people like me, who I hate. It was fucked up.
The profits accrued during those <911 days afforded me the scratch to start looking for a neighborhood with hardwood floors where I could dig in and the copycat hipsters couldn’t follow me to make my rents go up. Queens was too complicated and there were too many honkies in Harlem. The South Bronx had real potential as the place from which to Defend Brooklyn.
The great restructuring of American cities by Robert Moses has rendered the south Bronx into a prep jail. The rate of incarceration was so high that certain surviving elders felt it wise to teach a lethal fighting style to the local youth in order to enable them to stay out of gangs.
It was a good pitch, anyway. Soon “Jail Karate” had a producer and some Swedish television station showed interest. (Films like “Jail Karate” constitute escapism in Sweden because an effective social system has dulled Svenski graffiti, hip hop and street violence to the most boring in the world.)
Jail Karate’s thesis dovetailed nicely with the previous Defend Brooklyn work and helped me define the nature of the resolve worn so readily on so many T-shirts. The clannish atmosphere of the various dojos and the vulgar noblesse oblige of the Bush administration made me want to conjure a serious, violent left-wing militia into existence, if only just to have someone to talk to.
Friends of mine from New Orleans told me about this guy named Jac Currie hacking the “Defend Brooklyn” meme with “Defend New Orleans.” Apparently he was claiming that he was the genius behind the brand that was sweeping the nation.
It didn’t bother me that much as I was busy parsing what it meant to “Defend” a neighborhood with a bunch of Five Percenters and Werner Herzog’s production manager without getting killed. I’d become inured to salon crusties making chippie money off my reverse prole drift since the third weekend.
Jac Currie’s plagiarized “Defend New Orleans” shirt had an old musket which will make a nice paddle the next time they blow the levies. I won’t even bother to crack on the skull-with-mohawk stencil stolen from Manic Panic hair dye kit. I emailed this Jac Currie and told him that I was about to hire a bunch of lawyers to monkeyfuck him if he didn’t quit messing with my Defense Industry project. I figured that would be all it took, as the threat of a righteous copyright litigation had worked on all the other wannabes.
Biters copying my work all over the country proved that I had a nationwide mandate. This spurred me to try and create more complex types of manipulation than just a T shirt. I was going to use my enormous talent as a documenter and a writertarian to subvert the dominant paradigm from within the military industrial entertainment complex, and make tons of money.
My first assignment was a piece on Larry Clark for The Face magazine, from which I quote myself, respectfully, with permission:
You are familiar with Larry Clark’s photography even if you have never perused his seminal photobooks Tulsa(1971) or Teenage lust (1983). Before Larry was a film director he was already ‘the photographer who changed American films and photography.’ The proof is found in the works of Mario Sorrenti, Nick Knight, Terry Richardson, Juergen Teller, Corrine Day, Nan Goldin, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Alexie Hay, David Armstrong or Steven Klein (whose work graces the cover of this magazine).
So many photographers have bled Larry’s art for their advertising work that Larry has been implicated as the father of heroin chic. One critic so profoundly misunderstood the situation that he said “Kids” looked like a bad Calvin Klein ad.’ This is why Larry refers to anyone in the industry as “fashion cunts.”
“They got it all wrong. They don’t understand it. I’m documenting real life. They thought it was all about the drugs. They take what I do, use it and make a lot of money at it. My art is personal. I don’t fucking sell clothes. And then some art director goes out and buys a book and says ‘Here it is! This is the next ad campaign!’ Is that supposed to be talent?” Then Larry calls them cunts again.”
At the time, I thought all the outrage was due to Mister Clark’s prison inculcation, as his conversation is peppered with dogmatic rules like “Don’t talk for nobody,” “Get people back” and “Don’t pop off with no antisemitic bullshit.” Plus, it was hard to hate Steven Klein and his boyfriend as they were nice, cute, and didn’t call anybody the “C” word while their assistants made us coffee. They even let Larry pet their great danes.
The plagiarism implicit in mimeo art and sampled music had eroded the ethics of the arts world allowing Larry to be brazenly robbed in more than one format. If you believe a 19-year-old is capable of being the “creator” of a feature film like “Kids” then you might believe Larry Clark made Gummo, pissing him off all over again.
I didn’t know that having someone successfully plagiarize your work is akin to an artistic rape, resulting in a bastard which the artist can neither claim or deny. Or how distracting it is to lay in bed night after night thinking about how you are going to hit somebody in the head with a brick for pissing on your life work.
It wasn’t until I got the first emails accusing me of being the jerk for stealing Jac Currie’s idea that I began to understand the rage.
I was lying in bed, too angry to sleep, realizing that if violence was part of the Defend Brooklyn ouvre then plagiarism of that work demands a violent response. Or else I lose my tough guy rights. I called Jac Currie’s answering machine and called him a fashion cunt and told him I was serious about the lawyers and the monkeyfucking. For some reason I got no return call.
Then Hurricane Katrina hit. The “Defend New Orleans” flag made great video bites for the national news, emblematic of the necessary feel-good story about town pride bringing people together after a racist storm. Someone sent me a link of Jac Currie claiming the Defense Industry as his own on television.
I couldn’t believe it. After all my revolutionary talk and half-assed planning it had been stolen by a shakey-voiced party chaser wearing my name out like a bitch. Then I recognized him. The salon bedhead. The hundred dollar jeans slouched off the ass. I saw him get off the RISD bus. Jac Currie was the very guy we were Defending Brooklyn from! Of course he would be related to that thieving-ass Ellen…
I called some evil people I knew and plotted a trip to The Big Easy.
There was a time called <911 when Defend Brooklyn consulted the oracles of black math and conducted several studies to determine that, if the coming generation of rabble, hoi polloi, and 85%ers were groomed properly, “Riot” could be the new “street wear” market.
We planned to harness the anarchic energy driving the nouveau contact sports like skateboarding and grafitti to stop the world from becoming a strip mall. Cribbing tactics from the best political propagandists and advertising, we would use loaded language to dripfeed enough revolutionary iconography into the mainstream and pull the center to the left, like Barbie in reverse. Then things would get progressively better until our grandkids would eat vegetarian big macs on spelt bread in sustainable settings. Or whatever it was we were trying to do. I still can’t remember all the best things we said.
I got a sweatheart deal to place an ad in a legitimate fashion magazine (thanks sweeties) in preparation for something called the Magic Fashion show in late August of 2001 in Las Vegas. The ad was to be used as evidence that I was a T-shirt “curator” instead of just a drunk wingnut with a Ho Chi Minh complex.
Uncanny isn’t it? But Destiny speaks not only through me. There are plenty <911 artifacts suggesting that others felt the crosshairs as well. I claim to be neither conspirator nor prophet, but submit these images as proof that many American artists have developed a situational awareness during their forays into the American third world in search of affordable housing with hardwood floors. Maybe the wood of those floors is where the harmonics of the unconscious collect to be absorbed by those of us who, in the course of living the dream, have to sleep on them.
Some will, rightfully, claim that this “prescience” is due to the abundance of art, as it has been postulated that given enough time, a monkey will eventually type Shakespeare.
All I suggest is that if an adept is truly sensitive, he might interpret what the world thinks, speaking as it does through various argots of hair, dress and music.
Cracks of thunder woke me twice that morning, so I slept on, as rainy days and Mondays always get me down. The phone went unanswered as The Defend Brooklyn Hangover Index had been upgraded to Puce.
Then came a huge noise under which there was an intricate snap and bash, like boulders breaking apart with a violence too intense to hear with ears, registering in teeth and marrow instead. I would have bravely slept through even this, as it was a pet nightmare of mine since witnessing several big avalanches in the steep mountains of South America, if it were not followed by a roller coaster whoop and a full-throated scream of outrage, a sound which human DNA demands a response.
I was occupying one of those back stage apartments made available to me in the latter days of affordable Brooklyn. The apartment window faced northeast, away from the picturesque southern tip of Manhattan, and overlooked the maw of an immense shed where green trucks dropped paper to be recycled. Normally a ballet of heavy machinery performed reverse pirouettes to a polyrhythm of back-up beeps day and night, rain or shine.
This particular morning a hundred trash men stood flat-footed on the dock with their trucks idling will nill. From my vantage point I could see only their reaction. They weren’t cheering like when they had strippers or fights. Their body language was inert, unreadable. What awes the trashman thus?
By the time I got the coffee pressed I knew it had to be Godzilla, and I hate that motherfucker. So, I pulled on my plush Defend Brooklyn TM sweatshirt and charged up the stairs.
There were a hundred or more people I didn’t know on the roof, which was weird because I was the mayor of Williamsburg and what kind of party goes on at the crack of nine on a Monday morning anyway?
I asked an Asian couple what was going on. “They blew up the buildings. Planes flew into them,” was all the girl would say, never looking away from Manhattan. The sun was bright and clear so I had to squint to make out the smoke billowing from downtown.
I contended that those buildings were made to take a lot.
“Not this much,” a blond girl piped up.
“Planes crash into buildings all the time.” says I.
The blond girl pointed out that the first building was gone already.
“Really? How?” I asked the blond girl, meaning “which way did the building fall?” but she replied, “This is going to sound weird, but it was beautiful.”
Forgive her. We said a lot of things that before the jaws of <911 turned on us. Shock makes people do weird things, like giggle at open caskets or take pictures in front of the smoking World Trade Center just before it falls.
(P.S. If you have those pictures contact me for your five hundred dollar reward.)
The jokes stopped when the Asian girl realized aloud that it was people jumping off the building, struggling to stay upright as they fell to earth. “Maybe there’s guys down there with the trampoline things.” Finally, we stood like trash men, realizing the impossibility of any scenario except the worst one.
Then the whole building jumped into itself and sifted away, avalanched, leaving a glittering tempest of broken glass to sift to earth like ersatz snow settling in a globe and winked out among the buildings.
The howl started at a woman downtown and grew until it bawled in all voices, everywhere. It was a biblical sound, a primitive shriek, the keening germ of ululation, passed from those who’d seen it with their own eyes to those who watched with televisions, expanded from where the building fell and rolled out into the world in a ring.
When finally the sirens spun down, New York City was silenced. The smoke billowed heavenward, much higher than the Towers it replaced. Without the diffusion of smog Manhattan was as naked as I had ever seen it. Scores of birds circled, looking for their nests in the cliffs of mountains moved by Mohammed.
A stealth fighter skated low over the river, wagging like a kite, too late to do anything more than comfort us.
“That’s a damn stealth fighter,” I said, never having seen one before. This scared the Asian couple more than when the cell phones went out.
“Maybe there is something in that smoke.”
“They wouldn’t tell us if there was. This is gonna be mayhem. The tunnels are fucked for sure.”
“We could go out Long Island and try to catch a ferry.”
We made escape plans as blackbirds of charred business confetti wafted down on Redhook.
“We got to know what is going on,” they insisted.
“I live downstairs,” I volunteered.
So we four went downstairs and listened to the radio. WFMU was off the air which, to me, meant the world was really over. Without any civilized programming we had to listen to that dumb-ass Howard Stern prepare torches for the inevitable witch hunts.
We were shamed and much afraid because as liberals we knew intuitively that this was somehow our fault. The Asian girl and her boyfriend left, as it wasn’t their neighborhood and they didn’t know if they could still get home. The skinny blond girl, reckoning that her job assisting for Diane Von Furstenburg was canceled, stayed and listened to 1010 WINS late breaking news bulletins over and over.
I laced the coffee with whiskey, in case of anthrax, and made a passable egg and toast breakfast. After we ate, this girl, whose name might be Lauren, stretched out on the couch and said, “If you want to take advantage of me, this would be a good time.” And it was.
Turned out to be a good time to take advantage of every American, what with our radical veneer peeled away like a prom dress. Whatever revolutions we might have thought necessary were over and done with. We were in shock. Vulnerable.
By the time the smoke cleared, most of the orders from Magic Fashion show were canceled, along with the Fourth Amendment. Every damn one of us went with a holding pattern on the idea of civil liberties, like a herd of cows. Soon thereafter, I stopped aggressively pushing Defend Brooklyn, as such a thing might be construed as profiteering, Arab-bashing or, worse, treason.
This is the sixth part of a series about how, in the course of harvesting the pocket change of his peers with an irresistible T-shirt, Dave Reeves glimpsed the gears of a great machine where the will of a generation was made. Now he will endeavor to impart the wisdom gained from laying his eyes upon these inner workings, like Dante after swimming the Styx.
The orange lettering of Defend Brooklyn flared in the logoarchy from Greenpoint to Redhook. The only reasons it wasn’t graffiti is because I got paid for it. And did I ever. If Americans vote with their wallet then I was the mayor of Williamsburg. Curiously, I found that a majority of my consumers perceived the logos behind the logo and asked, “When’s the meeting?”
Motivated by my newfound civic responsibility Defend Brooklyn LLC bought a video camera to sacrifice at Quebec City Riots. She was a young camera, so full of promise. I post her dying moments below to remind readers of that time we call “<911,” when people were sensible and kicked the windows out of any city brazen enough to host a convention of corporate colonialists trying to genefuck the world’s seedbanks into sterility.
Do you remember those <911 days? I don’t either. It seems a thousand centuries ago. It’s as if our minds have been magically erased by some unseen force.
I’ve been sifting through my notes and my <911 data suggests that, in those times, protesters traveled from faraway from places like Eugene or Oregon in solar-powered vehicles to protest how a man’s life is cheap in the third world, women cheaper still and children sold for parts .
It seems that <911, Alpha Hipsters attended an “Action” in Quebec City because “Nothing really costs ninety-nine cents, man, it’s built on somebody’s life,” and “If you don’t riot, you can’t complain.”
Furthermore, my notes report that, despite their heritage, French Canadian resistance was vigorous and well organized: “Outside the fort stores stay open in solidarity. Bought beer and nice cheese. Watched peace hooligans in full hockey gear fire bomb bank across street..Gas Gas gasss…Poured most beer onto my face until the Black Cross came and sprayed antacid in eyes… Throwing empty bottles at the Mounties is a clear vote, and no hanging chads…”
Evidently, “Actions” were like a big party with literate chicks, free lawyers and Black Cross medics quick to break into the medication. I can’t think of anything to compare Actions to in these >911 times. Try to imagine Burning Man with a purpose. One could only assume that, if allowed to continue, this milieu would have produced more intelligent offspring than Facespacing “Idiocracy” into prophecy.
History says that people do what their clothes tell them to do. Togas made the Roman orgy. Jackboots and crossbones drive certain people to genocide. Skirtlines fluctuate with the market. Pastel suits equal cocaine abuse. So what was the orange AK-47 telling people to do?
Unfortunately for mankind, I can’t say what Defend Brooklyn really means as fine artists never interpret their own work. I will say that in those <911 times it screamed to me, “Cut this idiot manchild from the president’s office and run him to death before these fatcats pass so much as a fart in Congress.”
It’s easy to laugh at talking machine guns now, but in the summer <911 it was a serious fad. Groups of people were defending everywhere back then, in Davos and in Spain. The mandate cleaved evenly. The government was being run by distracted, greedy halfwits and The Man was on the run. Scared.
My piece de resistance had chummed the waters. Fashion cunts were schooling around, looking for the next way to waste their time. I knew that they would follow broke music geeks and Alpha Hipsters anywhere after they were lured out to Brooklyn. This time we were going to mug them into doing something good.
See, Hipster hierarchy dictates that Fashion Cunts are the last stop on the way to mainstream acceptance. If we played the crowd right brains might catch on like tattooes, and soon everyone would have one.
We would mobilize the heretofore useless nabobs to strike while the mandate was halved, utilizing their book learning, fancy college talk and clean unearned money. “If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would soon be over.”
If mobilized as a faction, hipsters could be as big a game changer as the heretofore unknown black vote . We could have used this power to overthrow the dominant paradigm once and for all. We’d start over with a new set of rules, using the light of modern reasoning as a guide. For instance, if weed was legal, I could be a cop. Then it would be time for some real justice.
It could have happened. If herded properly, lemmings might go somewhere smart. Don’t believe me? Here is a picture of the owner of an uberhip fashion magazine, Eric Lovioe, trying to blink the Maalox out of his eyes after getting teargassed:
Soon, I had an investor and was going to some fashion show called Magic. I had to design a label, because that’s what clothing labels are (duh). The Fourth Amendment fit the bill.
Applying a stroke of genius toward the master plan, the “Defend” line of clothing would feature secret pockets with your Fourth Amendment sewn in as the lining. So when The Man makes you turn your pockets out, it would be there for you.
You could say to the policeman, “Say, look here. Hate to bring it up… but my Fourth Amendment here says that I have the right to not be searched or seized.”
When they’re like, “Wait, what does that mean?” you kick them in the balls .
That strategy would have worked, too. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only masterminds in the world plotting things that fall.
Synopsis of Defense Industry Reports 1-4 : Reeves took the krona he made from selling a documentary about North Carolinians drinking window cleaning fluid to a Swedish television channel, got drunk on Mexican beer in San Antonio and made a thousand T-shirts with “Defend Brooklyn” written on them.
Now he’s hanging the shirts up from the “Don’t Walk” sign outside the L stop, steeled for ad hominem criticism, ex-girlfriend attacks or people who would tell his mom that, despite years of pretension, her son is out on the street slanging T-shirts. And his mom would whoop his ass if she heard that shit.
People got off the train, looked at the shirt and asked “How much?” Like many artists I misunderestimate my massive talent and sold that second pressing of “Defend Brooklyn” for just ten dollars. Cheap.
Business was slow the first night. I made just enough money to buy a giant bottle which I shared with my roommates to help them forget the monolith of T-shirt boxes I’d parked in our loft. I tried to have a good time, but no matter how fast I drink my money away, I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that I’m an impulsive drunk with terrible business sense.
The next day came up clear and sunny. Perfect T-shirt weather, but I was afraid to attend my own opening. It’s brutal for a sensitive artist type like myself to confront his critics at the purchase point with no agent, gallery or even a frame to hide behind. There’s a lot more honest dialectic on the street. When they shout “Defend Brooklyn from what?” you answer “What you got?” If they try to get “Brooklyner than thou” you tell them “fugeddaboutit.” If they talk about “Why does there have to be a gun?” you let them know that you’re armed and they can take that line of jive on home.
It was nothing less than fear of abject impecunity that forced me to shake off the stage fright, pick the melted Twix bar out of my hair, untangle myself from the lime green bra and drag that box of shirts to the corner and sell those motherfuckers to some insane people.
From my corner vantage that sunny Brooklyn day, Williamsburg was a small town idyll where we’d found each other. I saw a lot of talent riding around on bicycles on a Sunday free of zealots, control freaks or speed traps.
Now those without sin might try to denigrate my contemporaries by calling them “hipsters” to which I reply “it takes one to know one.” If I have to be hipster then I take the word back, like when Lord Buckley was one of us or when all the “colored people” turned black.
I sold a shirt, then another. Then ten in a row. The price went up to 20 dollars. I still sold a couple dozen more by the end of the day. Those shirts sold like hot fire. Wildcakes. All that. It was as if the neighborhood saw “Defend Brooklyn” the first night, slept on it and come back the next day, ready to buy. What dream did they dream that night that made it okay for liberal types to wear a gun on their chest? What Jungian archetype was agreed upon from behind the wall of sleep?
I suspect it was one of the old dreams about how that nowhere called utopia was now here, even if it were for only a little longer.
By the end of the weekend I’d accrued enough money to move out of my windowless room at the kibbutz. I can’t explain the satisfaction of graduating from a mewling artist with no money to a character from a Reagan speech, bootstrapping my way to financial freedom by standing on the street corner peddling dub sacks of apples or whatever.
Then I hired a beautiful girl to sell the shirts and she clocked between four hundred and eight hundred dollars sunny weekends. She was an Arab whose fierce eyes evoked caravans of opium rebels, resisting armies of infidels with only their Kalashnikovs. It was the summer before 9/11 and freakonomics was different then.
Soon enough I was a certified T-shirt genius, which happened to be coolest thing to be that year, right after the grafitti artist/drug addict or bike thief. I was so cool that some fashion magazine called Vice let me write articles which were then changed completely and printed under someone else’s name, but I didn’t care. It was such an honor to be invited to the Viacom frat party. I made buddies with a bunch of really neat guys who are still my great friends to this very day. They helped me advertise “Defend Brooklyn” on Tap Dancing Outlaw Jessco White and his lovely mama in their photo issue.
Suddenly, I had enough money to return to the real work of overthrowing the government and get back at those goddamn Jump Off Rock cops.
Apparently, the rest of the country was with me on this. There was a palpable anger at the government. It was right when greedheads were having a hard time meeting anywhere without thousands and thousands of radicals fighting back and defending Brooklyn all over the world, wherever it was. I know we can’t remember this because those precious Twin Towers burned and fell. Patriotically, we have forgotten those issues which are important enough to throw rocks at cops and burn down banks.
DON’T YOU DARE MISS THE NEXT DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT: : “MASTER BLASTER RULE BARTERTOWN”
For those who haven’t kept up with the Defense Industry Reports 1, 2 or III Dave Reeves is about to realize that printing the words “Defend Brooklyn” on a three dollar t-shirt will turn that shit into a twenty dollar fashion accessory. See, back in 1998 little Dave thought he was too good to get into the schmatta trade because writing is the classy way to earn a living, just ask Hemingway’s brains all over the wall. Unaware that he is sitting on a gold mine, this idiot is using the shirts to bribe Priest from Antipop to do the sound for his off-off-off-Broadway play and to get backstage at a Thurston Moore show with his dad to blow his redneck mind.
People told me I could make a lot of money selling the “Defend Brooklyn” shirts I’d been giving away, but I couldn’t waste my time because I’m so smart at writing. My first major effort as a writist was the beautiful tale of a Satanic mountain climber who eats his partners in order to climb the world’s holy mountains and desecrate the summits with evil demon penis figurines.
I went to Hollywood and, by Beelzebub, I’d have Babylon Working now but for a misunderstood ritual performed in a certain talent agency after a couple or three bloody leroys. I was just being me. I’m not one of these salon satanists. They got all “you’ll never work in this town again” about it. Who knew that Hollywood Agents are a bunch of humorless assholes?Continue reading