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.

IMGP0504_1-1

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.

mail

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!

Today's Autonomedia Jubilee Saint — THORSTEIN VEBLEN

veblen
July 30– THORSTEIN VEBLEN
Iconoclastic, sardonic theorist of profit, status and class, he probed the irrational forces of capitalist culture.

JULY 30, 2009 HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS
*Virginia: Crater Day. Civil War holiday.

ALSO ON JULY 30 IN HISTORY…
1857 — Economist and social theorist Thorsten Veblen born, Valders, Wisconsin.
1889 — Radical woodcut artist Frans Masereel born, Blankenberge, Belgium.
1925 — Rootless cosmopolitan Alexander Trocchi born, Glasgow, Scotland.
1938 — Hitler presents highest non-citizen award to Henry Ford in Berlin.
1958 — Left-wing coup in Iraq arouses Western fears of domino effect.

Excerpted from The 2009 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints: Radical Heroes for the New Millennium by James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective

Today's Autonomedia Jubilee Saint — Thorstein Veblen

veblen
July 30– THORSTEIN VEBLEN
Iconoclastic, sardonic theorist of profit, status and class, he probed the irrational forces of capitalist culture.

The basis on which good repute in any highly organized industrial community ultimately rests is pecuniary strength; and the means of showing pecuniary strength, and so of gaining or retaining a good name, are leisure and a conspicuous consumption of goods.

Read more Veblen on Project Gutenberg.

JULY 30, 2009 HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS
*Virginia: Crater Day. Civil War holiday.

ALSO ON JULY 30 IN HISTORY…
1857 — Economist and social theorist Thorsten Veblen born, Valders, Wisconsin.
1889 — Radical woodcut artist Frans Masereel born, Blankenberge, Belgium.
1925 — Rootless cosmopolitan Alexander Trocchi born, Glasgow, Scotland.
1938 — Hitler presents highest non-citizen award to Henry Ford in Berlin.
1958 — Left-wing coup in Iraq arouses Western fears of domino effect.

Excerpted from The 2009 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints: Radical Heroes for the New Millennium by James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective

Today's Autonomedia Jubilee Saint — JEAN BAUDRILLARD

baudrillard
July 29– JEAN BAUDRILLARD
French cultural theorist, media philosopher, art critic.

Our point is not to defend radical thought. Any idea that can be defended is presumed guilty. Any idea that does not sustain its own defense deserves to perish. But we have to fight against charges of unreality, lack of responsibility, nihilism, and despair. Radical thought is never depressing. This would be a complete misunderstanding. A moralizing and ideological critique, obsessed by meaning and content, obsessed by a political finality of discourse, never takes into account writing, the act of writing, the poetic, ironic, and allusive form of language, the play with meaning. This critique does not see that the resolution of meaning is right here, in the form itself, in the formal materiality of an expression. As for meaning, it is always unfortunate. Analysis is by its very definition unfortunate since it is born out of a critical disillusion. But language on the contrary is fortunate (happy), even when it designates a world with no illusion, with no hope. This would in fact be here the very definition of radical thought: an intelligence without hope, but a fortunate and happy form. Critics, always being unfortunate (unhappy) in their nature, choose the realm of ideas as their battle field. They do not see that if discourse always tends to produce meaning, language and writing on the contrary are always a matter of illusion. Language and writing are the living illusion of meaning, the resolution of the misfortune of meaning operated through the good fortune of language. This is the only political or transpolitical act that a writer can accomplish.

From Baudrillard’s article Radical Thought, read more Baudrillard online here.

JULY 29, 2009 HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS
*Norway: Oslok, the festival of Saint Olaf the Fat.
*Quimperle, Brittany: Pardon of the Birds. Festive fair and picnic with a bird theme.

ALSO ON JULY 29 IN HISTORY…
1883 — Italian Socialist Party leader turned fascist Benito Mussolini born.
1890 — Dutch crackpot painter Vincent Van Gogh dies, Auvers-sur-Oise, France.
1921 — Adolf Hitler becomes president of the German Nazi Party.
1929 — French media theorist, art critic Jean Baudrillard born, Reims, France.
1979 — New Left theorist, radical hero Herbert Marcuse dies, Sternberg, East Germany.
2006 — French radical historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet dies, Nice, France.

Excerpted from The 2009 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints: Radical Heroes for the New Millennium by James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective

Today's Autonomedia Jubilee Saint — FELIX GUATTARI

guatari
April 30 — Félix Guattari
Innovative anti-theorist of Capitalism and Schizophrenia.

APRIL 30, 2009 HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS
*Beltane Eve.
*Walpurgisnacht. Witches, warlocks and demons hold revels in Harz Mountains. Whole towns rush into streets, making as much noise as possible. Church bells ring, bonfires are lit. In British Isles, a scapegoat is chosen by lots and burned; hobby horse parades are held, chasing evil away until Midsummer’s Night.

ALSO ON APRIL 30 IN HISTORY…
1771 — American utopianist leader Hosea Ballou born, Richmond, New Hampshire.
1803 — Louisiana Purchase negotiated with France at four cents per acre.
1844 — Thoreau accidentally burns 300 acres of forest near Concord, Mass.
1930 — Radical anti-psychiatrist, anti-capitalist Félix Guattari born, Paris, France.
1945 — Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler most probably commits suicide, Berlin, Germany.
1975 — Saigon falls to Communist forces, ending long American war in Vietnam.

Excerpted from The 2009 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints: Radical Heroes for the New Millennium by James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective