DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT FIVE: Give a bum a gun and he can take it from there.

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.

Cleanermouth 1998

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.

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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.

ted rall centered and better

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.

jessco white

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.

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DON’T YOU DARE MISS THE NEXT DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT: : “MASTER BLASTER RULE BARTERTOWN”

DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT IV: Who are these cops and why do they keep following me?

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.

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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.

Aleister Crowley at K2 in 1905

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?

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DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT III: Nobody wants to be a hipster but everybody wanna be hip

If you missed the last missive, here’s the nutshell: Manhattan has a drink, a chowder, a Frank Sinatra song and the opening of Saturday Night Live but Brooklyn has murderers who keep the cops focused on doing their job of murderer-catching and let me do my job of riding stolen bicycles into flaming trash cans with girls who look like Mick Jagger.

NATACHA LE JUENE OF OH LA LA

Revolutions are born in cities because it’s hard to be revolutionary when you’re thankful to make it home after too much beer and zeitgeist. The real freedom of Brooklyn was the freedom from the pig’s eye and his harsh blinking lights, crappy polyester uniform and horrible reform school shoes. Brooklyn cops didn’t pull over a responsible citizen asking “Where’s the fire”, “How did my sister end up in your car?” and “Why is she wearing only a tubetop?” because they didn’t have time and I didn’t need a car.

I turned into a man of many bicycles as rubber on the wheel is faster than rubber on the heel. Cycling in New York is more lethal than riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles. It’s roughly the same drunk/medicated population and chossy roads but New York has the added hazard of the Taliban cavalry driving yellow people squashers.

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At the end of a Manhattan night I’d have to get on my bike, navigate traffic and cross the muggerland of the old Williamsburg bridge, drunk and hopelessly clipped into my pedals. It was dangerous but I was healthier than my Lower East Side peers who only had to stumble a couple of blocks home to nurse their habits into junkiedom.

In 1995, going back to Brooklyn meant you’d had been voted off the island. Bowery Boys and Loisidas loved to shame me about how they never been to Brooklyn and where was Brooklyn anyway?

wb bridge night

Damn right I defended it. I’d been kicked out of college and run from the Bible Belt. Disney and Giullianification priced me out of Manhattan. I had to make a stand before I got pushed into the sea. Brooklyn was the Masada of me.

funny hats

When I say “Brooklyn,” I mean before the raw food dipshits got there and it was all rice and beans or pierogis. Before the graffiti got all cute. Before the neighborhood was defined by the cookie cutter do’s and don’ts of Viacom.

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I’m talking about Brooklyn when you could get a Heineken and bolsita right over the counter at Kokie’s. The kind of place you might shoot a king rat with a twenty guage shotgun in your apartment on Lorimer Street and your Chinese landlord never said a word because he was scared of getting deported. That place where Haitian families felt comfortable enough to burn a mattress and cook a goat on the sidewalk. A time so poorly lit that Monk could fall down the steps at Rug o Lad and then spit bloody teeth at the bartender so we could nab the Absinthe. The Brooklyn where you pour beer on the floor of the Greenpoint Tavern in order to twist with Horsey and Carlos on Christmas Eve.

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That place is gone a long time now, banished to East New York or squelched behind facades of baby clothing shops. I’ve been going through the black box, trying to parse the day, the hour, the moment that Brooklyn turned into a mall. 
I remember a big bus pulled up. It said RISD on the side, which must be some kind of fashion academy because everybody that got off it had a bedhead and a pair of hundred dollar jeans slouched half off their ass.

risd mascot

They came in, ordered slices and checked their hair in the bulletproof plexiglas. There was a local kid named Mando in the pizza parlor, famous to us for a trick of breaking into David Henry Brown Jr’s apartment late at night to sell him drugs. Mando eyeballed the RISD kids, turned to me and my boy and shook his head solemnly.

“Remember? This neighborhood used to be hard.”

Mando was blaming the pioneer hipsters for how fashionistas thought it was safe to primp in Brooklyn. Mando intuited that the presence of these nabobs meant that the neighborhood had forgotten to keep up an illusion of danger. The ability for them to exist here indicated that the corruption was now systemic, as gentrification exponentializes so quickly. He was suggesting that it was our presence that brought this plague upon us.

Soon it became obvious that Mando was right. Every day overwhelming number of non-weirdos and normal job-having motherfuckers came in on the trains and paid exorbitant rents on time to live in our charming bohemian cesspool.

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It’s the same every time: alpha hipsters and indie bands make coffeehouses which are patronized by fashionstas until the gays and college reality shows find out where they are and then suddenly all the buildings have doormen. The neighborhood keeps getting nicer until one day the local crackhead doesn’t come around to pimp Nazi uniforms, alligator heads or any other treasure reclaimed from the garbage. The Koolman is run off by hipster taco trucks. The cops write tickets for drinking beer on the street.

I wanted Mando to be wrong so badly that I went to the printer that day and had them make twenty t-shirts that read “Defend Brooklyn” with an AK-47 emblazoned on it. I didn’t try to sell them yet. Back then I didn’t want to be a t-shirt merchant. I just gave them out to like-minded people hoping to spark a war, like Red Dawn II if it was written by Genet featuring a cadre of wastrels vicious enough to break windows, burn down coffee klatches and scatter syringes around the neighborhood so we could still afford to live there.

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Understand that I’m describing pre-9/11 thoughts and actions. Since then we’ve all made money, lost money and seen things that make the language and stance of “Defend Brooklyn” moot. Twilight Zone things like people that know they can’t fly jumping out of buildings and the BQE empty at rush hour.

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NEXT: Just Wars Are Just Wars, Man.

DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT 2: Genesis of a Militia

If you missed the first installment of the Defense Industry Report then here’s a recap of that amazing document: Hate me now for I, Dave “Affadavit” Reeves, started “Defend Brooklyn”, the contagion of which continues to this day in many bastard forms.

DavidReeves

That’s right. I have become a thousandaire by harvesting the pocket litter of jingoistic hooligans and those who pay to dress like them. The quick wisdom of the “Defend Brooklyn” slogan has eclipsed everything else I’ve done in my life. Women have loved me, left me and tried to kill me with weapons purchased from the filthy profits of this T shirt. It introduced me to famous people and conned that bunch of Hollywood hacks calling themselves “writers” to let me into their guild.

DefendBrooklyn Spike

But why is this? What does it mean? What the fuck? Defend Brooklyn thrives in ambiguity like middle east politics or the lyrics of Powderfinger .

First off: I am not really from Brooklyn. Brooklyn became home for me after a series of nasty run-ins with North Carolina authorities, culminating in an assault on a police officer. (Be careful about assaulting a police officer, as you will end up like Danny Chavez of the seminal Negroclash band “Apollo Heights” or or worse.)

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I was acquitted of assaulting said police officer not because of my rights or anything but because I was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of my harassment. Still, small town cops watch out for their own, so they sharked ever closer in my rearview mirror, trying to force the swerve. Eventually I called a friend of mine who’d been kicked out of college the same week as me for some advice. He told me to come up to his spot in New York City where the cops don’t give a damn about anything.

I was such a hick when I got off the plane. I had never eaten sushi, falafel balls or lox bagels before. I thought Alphabet City was so named because the bums walked around chanting “A” “D” “C”, only to learn that these are the initials of drugs (acid, heroin, cocaine respectively) they peddled. And they were junkies, not bums. Things like junkies were news to me.

My boy’s “spot” was a squat sponsored by a Cooper Union painter. We were allowed to crash in his studio at night along with a guy named Doug, who seemed normal until he lost his life paying Russian Roulette. We took herbal ephedrine to help us relax while playing chess and waiting for photo assistant gigs.

I was able to enjoy my birthright of a full flowering southern degeneracy by drinking beer day and night anywhere I wanted: forties on the stoop, tallboys on the train, a wee nip in the hall to help soften the floor for a good night’s sleep. Dinkins was in office and the Lower East Side was an open air drug market. I couldn’t get arrested in that town. Nobody cared about a white boy with all his teeth.

My friend played saxophone with downtown jazzbos Cecil Taylor and Butch Morris. We smoked weed with Zorn, who clowned my choice of clubwear. It was made clear to me that I had to get hip quick or get shipped back to the sticks. They were famous downtown horn tooters and piano beaters but who was I and what did I think I was doing stomping around New York City in hiking boots?

To rank as a New Yorker one had to do something. But what? I didn’t think to just steal somebody else’s idea, paste it on a shirt and sell it as my own, which would have made me an equal with my contemporaries in the t-shirt propaganda game, without having to go through all the messy work of actually being creative. <img src="http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/obey_1984-300×199.jpg&quot; alt="obey_1984" title="obey_1984" width="300" height="199" class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-10146"

As I pondered this situation providence intervened. An undercover cop disguised as a barefoot rasta busted a friend of mine for drinking beer on the stoop. It was Giulliani time. Overnight, our idyllic crowded Lower East Side squat zone became an expensive, cop-infested hell. I cried, tore hair and lost all hope, until a real rasta told us shit like that never goes down in Brooklyn because those cops out there are busy.

So, we scouted across a dangerous mix of rusty metal plates cattywamped between patches of thick blacktop and muggers called the Williamsburg Bridge . wb bridge 

The caged walkway ended in dark, pocked leavings from the great insurance fires of the seventies. It was 1994 and the area near the bridge was empty, except for an old Amish mobster singing weird songs though a big tube on top of the Jew church.
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As we headed north the streets were rimmed with fresh-off-the-jet types, drinking beer on the stoop, radios turned up to eleven. Back then it was correct to consider Williamsburg a tough neighborhood in San Juan. Every day was Puerto Rico Day, and then at nighttime too.
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When cumbia and car alarms mixed together on Bedford it was disorienting as a casino. It was the summer lazer pointers came out, so we had to advance up the Avenue fighting the urge to flinch at the red dots dancing on our shirts, comforted by the belief that maybe there wasn’t a gun at the other end of the beam.

The locals sized us up. We were too weird to be cops, too fat to be junkies. What did we want? I told them, “I want to be in America. Okay by me in America. Everything free in America.” We had the dance-off, and I won. (footage lost) So, according to their custom, they had to treat us as equals and rented us some rooms above a Bodega for six hundred dollars.
grand st

After this, an initial force of somewhere between six and ten white black and french types occupied that room, spoke English and dug in. More Alpha Hipsters came across the bridge every day, run from their hometowns like common lepers or Mormons, unafraid, broke and weird. The world had cornered us in Brooklyn, between the recycling plant and where lead paint sandblasted off the bridge fell to the ground.

def bro 1996 me

next: The Glory Days of Gentrification.

DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT 1: The "Defend Brooklyn" story, as told by its creator

Power might be at the end of a gun, but sometimes it’s also at the end of the shadow or an image of a gun. – Jean Genet

In 1996 I printed this design on T-shirts and handed them out to friends, musicians and bartenders to curry favor:
defendbrooklyn_big
There are many like it, but this is the real one.


Positive feedback from my target market helped me realize that I had minted a blue chip slogan.

first known press

Since that day, my minions and I have distributed a veritable shit ton of these Defend Whosiwhatsit shirts allowing me to enjoy the riches and fame of a rich and famous man, without the benefit of proper health care or competent legal counsel that he gets.

Every week a random amount of money appears in my Paypal account. This windfall has allowed me the modicum of financial irresponsibility necessary to scribble drivel at this competitive level.

You may have not seen Defend Brooklyn before. It’s okay. I’m not claiming that it’s a famous design or anything, or that it’s everywhere.

this is the vice ad030424_levittownSAOATXDEFENDSKULLWINGSSmreal defend dorkchesternewestDY.JPGnew york magazine willaimsburg everyguyinvade_harvard_01_lgwhitepower def americagentrifybklyndefendDenver.JPGdefendcleveland_thumbdefend_tomorrow_wht_bludefend_newyork_01_lgdefend-hawaii-blogdefend the kopdefend the bridgedefend southiedefend san franzciscodefend san antoniodefend miamidefend los angelesdefend equalitydef new jerseydefend dow jonesdefend dorkchesterdefend irelanddef oaklanddef new orleans shrt w beerdef detroitdefbro baghdaddefend dissertaitions

Or maybe you hate the design. All I can suggest is that if you have seen “Defend Brooklyn” enough to hate it, then you are one too. Stop hating yourself or you will turn into a “Hipstler“.

Defend Brooklyn is not a saturation thing like “I Heart New York.” It’s more a “now you see me now you don’t, some will see me others won’t” piece.

I’m not claiming to rank as one the captains of the T-shirt age, nor have I masterminded a contagion of meme on the scale of the Grateful Dead, Che or even Obama. I’m not in the old guard of the T-shirt industry such as Rolling Stone lips, “Frankie Say Relax” or “CBGB.” I’m aware that I’m somewhere below the “I’m With Stupid” progenitor in harvesting disposable income. I know that I will never have “Shut Up and Fish’s” money because my graphic is too challenging for mass consumption.

warriors-thumb

That said, if you print the word “Defend” in an arc over the image or the shadow of a gun and the name of a town on a T-shirt, you’re guaranteed a return better than American real estate or drug money. It’s so easy and fun that the danger of this article is that you might try to steal the concept, damning yourself to being a biter.

redhead def bro comic book

Basically, I have found the wellspring of profitable jingoism. Me and the people who steal my ideas are some of the few reliable money makers left in America. We are a veritable Defense Industry.

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Why is this slogan so popular? I can only posit that it uses the same force which enables soccer hooligans, Reaganites, Bruce Springsteen and Hitlers.

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Or maybe it harkens back to the wily and armed “don’t tread on me”-populace, rather than one so is easily duped by a bunch of Ivy League clowns who take power through double talk and Diebold deals.

kid dressed like an ak

Either way, I think Defend Brooklyn suggests some dark thing about human nature and the slogans we use to advance our agendas.

I thought Defend Brooklyn was a mere opus minimum, an ante in a game bigger than T-shirts, only to find that there is no bigger game. If one were to analyze all the relevant data we would find that Earth is primarily a T-shirt producing planet.

defendfallojah

Please take this time to re-approach this meme with me as it has allowed me to observe certain things about the damn kids today that might be useful to those who would manipulate the whimsies of the thinking population into a functioning mandate, or take their money, or both.

Next Installment: The real story of how Defend Brooklyn came to be in “THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY REPORT NUMBER 2!” WITH A SPECIAL OFFER OF A “CHOOSE YOUR REVOLUTION” HOW-TO KIT! WAKE UP YOUR FRIENDS! TELL YOUR MOM!

GREAT NEWS: PRAISE GOD! We have perfected a weapon against children

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Does Thurston know about this?

The Mosquito is a new device that emits a piercing noise that will only hurt the ears of little kids, leaving the adult population safe to enjoy spending their money on flash-fried food in peace. The little buggers hate it, too. Watch the pretty, pretty little girls run when the mosquito does its work.

According to the press kit “The Mosquito™ Anti-Vandal System is the solution to the eternal problem of unwanted gatherings of youths and teenagers in shopping malls, around shops and anywhere else they are causing problems.”

Kids. I hate em.

Damn kids today.

“The presence of these teenagers discourages genuine shoppers and customers’ from coming into your shop, affecting your turnover and profits. Anti social behavior has become the biggest threat to private property over the last decade and there has been no effective deterrent until now.”

“Acclaimed by the Police forces of many areas of the United Kingdom, the Mosquito Anti-Vandal System has been described as “the most effective tool in our fight against anti social behaviour”. Shop keepers around the world have purchased the device to move along unwanted gatherings of teenagers and anti social youths.”

If this device existed in the 70’s we might have avoided the tragedy of “Over the Edge”

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And how do the little shits respond to the “Sonic Youth Weapon”? The sneaky brats made a ring tone out of it so their parents can’t hear the phone ring. Shouldn’t have raised their allowance.

Evidently there’s ring tone for every year of existence until death, after which you just hear horns.

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I am pleased to report that, according to my ability to hear  ringtones, I can still take calls with the thirty year olds.

Unbelievably enough, the technology has advanced and now they  have a mosquito MK4 which can disperse any age group at will.

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WFMU: BEST THING SINCE PUSSY

I know the last post about the greatest thing in the world, WFMU, was a little skimpy because I got greedy for those big bloggin’ buck$ (A man like me has NEEDS.) There are so many deeply personal things a radio station called WFMU does for me that I can’t tell you about.

For example, if I admit that Irene’s Trudell’s mellifluous voice has cured me of performing messy rituals to The Unnamable One—

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—then my enemies might think I have gone soft in my old age. (Dear Enemies: I have gone soft. Come by my place for your hug while I’m getting my thirty eleventh wind by freaking out to the late night random geniuses BEASTIN THE AIRWAVES or THE FROW SHOW. Don’t bother knocking, it’s open.)

I can’t tell you about how Bob Brainen‘s comforting little ditty at the beginning of his show reminds me to put tin foil over the windows before the sun shows its horrible teeth. With the free-form webcast, Mr. Brainen is allowed to spin psychedelic smutty blues with some maniac jabbering over it, which I’ve found to be comforting when taken with sixty milligrams of Adderal. It’s a good thing the scheduler at the station alternates the Yankee accent of Bob Brainen’s against the down home accent of Laura Cantrell from week to week, or else I wouldn’t know that time was passing at all.

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