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.)

danny chavez black guy black eye2

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.
satmar hasids
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.
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.santafe.com/articles/images/1994.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.santafe.com/page_redirect.php%3Fpage_id%3D892&usg=__MxbZfapDpnmJHpUCX5h--mWi0c8=&h=1000&w=827&sz=177&hl=en&start=3&sig2=ZujA6DbGVl6PfH7jZytEAQ&um=1&tbnid=zbbaTJUI_lB9oM:&tbnh=149&tbnw=123&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwilliamsburg%2Bbrooklyn%2B1994%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DG%26um%3D1&ei=DQjLSprQOojetAOR1Z3NBA

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!

TRIGGER HIPPIES AND TRIMMER GIRLS: Life on a Humboldt cannabis farm during harvest season

illustration by Arik Roper

What can I tell you about going to work on a weed farm that the Grower, The Trimmers and The Landowner won’t kill me for? Soft criminals are especially tense about getting put in cages by men with guns….


A very special edition of Dave Reeves’ “Do The Math” column in Arthur 32/December 2008. Illustration by Arik Roper. Photos by Daniel Chamberlin.

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Man Roots Culture: DAVE REEVES on GINSENG

Originally published in Arthur No. 19 (Nov 2005)

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Man Roots Culture
By Dave Reeves

Fall is here, and it’s time to think about how you’re going to maintain your erection for the long winter months. Buying Viagra pills might do the trick, but face it, you are going to be broke after giving all your money to the gas man, so take my advice and pick up a dub sack of American ginseng instead.

Buying ginseng is like buying drugs; you’re going to get ripped off unless you know the deal. They won’t have it at the hippie health food store because hippies are afraid of the awesome power within. For the real you have to go to Chinatown. Go in any place that has a neon ginseng root in the window, or a picture of ginseng on the sign.

If you aren’t overwhelmed by the smell of the ginseng when you go in the door then you are not in the right place. The best places will have barrel after barrel of various roots and then thousand dollar roots laid out in little boxes to look like little people—hence the Chinese name that ginseng was bastardized from: Jenshen, or “man root.” These roots are prized as much for their size as for their shape and the super fat ones will supposedly do the same thing for your penis, which is the real reason they call it a “man root”.

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