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This is text for a flyer that I wrote. It’s intended to be a brief, concise introduction for people unfamiliar with the issue, with just enough information leads for them to delve deeper into the topic if they so choose.
What is the regressive left? What are SJWs?
The regressive left is a strain of activism which has arisen recently from within liberal circles which is explicitly pro-censorship, neosegregationist and authoritarian. Often referred to online by the sardonic/sarcastic pejorative “social justice warriors” (SJW), regressives reject the meritocracy exemplified by Martin Luther King’s maxim “a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” in favor of an absurdly nonegalitarian, collectivist and ad hominem interpretation of identity politics. SJWs are notorious for tactics such as attempting to have people fired from their jobs for expressing opinions which they deem to be politically incorrect or “oppressive”, leveling false allegations and smear campaigns, “crybullying” (posturing as a victim while aggressively attacking others), “no-platforming” (revocation of free speech in the form of disinviting speakers from academic functions), and have even escalated their harassment to the level of physical assault. Among the lecturers who have been the target no-platforming efforts are feminist author/activists Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel, atheism and science proponent Richard Dawkins and conservatives such as Milo Yiannopolis, Ben Shapiro and Condeleeza Rice. Regressives have made major inroads into mainstream thought by masquerading as traditional Leftists, all the while promoting a set of concepts which are antithetical to Enlightenment classical liberalism (such as the principles described in the US constitution’s Bill of Rights). SJWs represent a dangerously illiberal new force in contemporary culture.
Some prominent leaders in the SJW community are Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti, atheist youtuber Steve Shives, social critic (and alleged con artist) Anita Sarkeesian, political theorist Jonathan McIntosh, video game developer Zoe Quinn (a key figure implicated in the “#Gamergate” corruption scandal), and #CancelColbert hashtag originator Suey Park. Media outlets associated with regressive ideology include Gawker and it’s affliates, Buzzfeed, Vox, Huffington Post, Salon, The Young Turks, Vocativ, Upworthy, The Guardian, Kotaku, Polygon, the social network site Tumblr, and the very bizarre new incarnation MTV (notable for its lack of music videos).
What are antiSJWs?
AntiSJWs are a broad coalition of activists, commentators and concerned citizens from across the entire political spectrum who oppose the regressive left. AntiSJWs tend to be in favor of freedom of expression, protection of individual rights under due process of law, an open marketplace of ideas (instead of the silencing of controversial voices), equal opportunity for everyone regardless of factors such as race or gender – and view these as foundational pillars of modern democracy, as well as important safeguards of liberty worth defending.
If you desire to educate yourself more about the regressive left and its critics, check out the antiSJW Facebook group, and peruse some excellent, informative, entertaining and frequently hilarious antiSJW youtube channels, such as:
Cristina Hoff Sommers (aka The Factual Feminist), Sargon of Akkad (Carl Benjamin), Dave Rubin, Vernacularis, Lauren Southern, Honey Badger Radio (featuring Brian Martinez, Alison Tieman, Karen Straughan, Hannah Wallen and Anna Cherry), TL;DR (aka Teal Deer), Internet Aristocrat/Mister Metoker, Chris Ray Gunn, The Drunken Peasants/The Amazing Atheist, Bearing, Sugar Tits, Blaire White, Theryn Meyer and Ceara McCord.
By far the most profound and intensely moving aesthetic experiences to be had in recent months (and I’m one of the people who immensely enjoyed The Force Awakens! – fuck the J.J. haters) would definitely have to be David Bowie’s swan song, in the form of the video work accompanying the Blackstar album. Like a lot of people, I discovered these lovely bits of film artistry after the news of the massively influential singer’s death took over the internet, flooding newsfeeds with tributes and condolences. There’s something deeply astonishing about hearing a man sing “Something happened on the day he died” ON THE DAY HE DIED. Bowie’s parting works are a mediation on his own impending, inevitable and imminent mortality and the product of an übermensch level creative motivation. The guy sure as hell didn’t let cancer slow him down, and far from despairing at the finite duration of his existence, saw it as an opportunity to plumb the depths of his musical expressiveness. “Look up here I’m in heaven”, Bowie self-eulogizes in Lazarus, creating the chilling impression that we as an audience are receiving a message from beyond the grave. “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen” – an acknowledgement of the terrible vulnerability of the human condition, this from a man who kept the news of his terminal illness hidden from the public in order to buy himself a little extra space to compose one last time. By treating death with the same sense of flair and high style that typified his entire career, Bowie sets an example to us all: treat your life itself like a great and beautiful artwork.
Much can be said about the Starman’s recording oeuvre and performing work, and no small amount of ink and ASCII code has been devoted to criticism and interpretation of his output already. Just briefly I want to say that his impact on popular culture simply cannot be underestimated. Here is a musician who popularized androgyny well in advance of the mainstreaming of the LGBT milieu; kept up with the times, mining influences liberally from auteurs that he himself had inspired and collaborating with such illustrious names as Lou Reed, John Lennon, Mott the Hoople, Jim Henson, Bing Crosby, Mick Jagger, Trent Reznor, Arcade Fire and the Pet Shop Boys; who’s stylistic fingerprints can be found on such diverse genres as glam, New Wave, EDM, hip-hop (his albums are a goldmine of catchy samples), industrial, heavy metal, and …; who emergence as a cultural figure signaled shift toward a more introspective nihilism after the oft-naive hippie utopianism of late 60s rock music; who’s flamboyant theatricality (spacemen and aliens! deranged alter egos!) and self-reinvention was absolutely innovative.
Bowie’s tremendous impact on pop culture has been evident from the outpouring of affection that has been trending online and IRL since the announcement of his passing, including the prestigious honor a New Orleans jazz funeral. I myself was elated at my serendipitous discovery of a local tribute concert at Hoffman’s bakery with a revolving cast of musicians anchored by drummer Rick Walker. I had been wandering down the street when the sound of a few bars from the seminal Space Oddity pulled me into the restaurant/bar as if by a gravitational force. Once inside I was treated to a delightful and moving performance, the assembled audience singing along to the well-known choruses, a gorgeous glittery pixie girl (herself a fashion descendant of Bowie’s elan) dipped low to the ground sexily as she danced a sultry swagger, the singers gave testimony between songs to their indebtedness to Bowie’s legacy, and a lovely and talented lady friend of mine kissed me on the lips before the night was over (a first for me in 2016, which I interpreted as an optimistic omen for the new year, a welcome respite from the horrible time that I generally had in 2015). It felt for a moment like the whole world was mourning.
In the wake of his death, I have delved into the discography, realizing that I had taken this prolific soul for granted (as a child of the 1980s, he was someone who was just sort of always there) and had never bothered to actually listen to all of his music. For those of you who are not already intimately familiar with his recording history, I suggest you take the plunge as well, there’s plenty of lesser-known gems to be uncovered.
One last tidbit, I found it interesting to discover that Bowie grew up in a family marked the insecurity of mental illness, an experience which I feel an affinity for given my own late father’s history of mental breakdown. In this interview with Charlie Rose, he states that “Being an artist in an way, of any nature … is a kind of a sign of a … social dysfunctionalism. It’s an extraordinary thing to want to do, to express yourself in such rarefied terms. I think it’s a looney kind of thing to want to do.” The artistic impulse may very well be intimately related to the psychology of a damaged psyche. The person who knows first hand the horrifying agonies of suffering is incentivized in the course of his own unfolding self-actualization to make beauty from monstrosity and to respond to repugnance by inciting joy. A traumatic life offers tremendous insight, as is evident in the cleverness, philosophical wonder and maturity of his lyrical ingenuity and thematic vision.
I’ve been a bit surly on social media (moi? you don’t say?) about my relationship with and feelings toward Santa Cruz. You must understand this is a result of having lived here for more than a decade (and it hasn’t been the best years of my life) and being a bit burnt out on the whole thing, starting to feel that travel-lust of wanting to explore other parts of the world, and having a had particularly “personal hell” sort of time with it in the last few years instead of my world taking off like a rocket like I had hoped. Also watching the inept and/or cruel political “leadership” over at City Hall largely shit all over what used to be a very vibrant, world-renowned place was just depressing to witness. While I have a lot of fun throwing invective around (stupid writer trick), I should also be careful to give context, without which it might seem a bit unnecessarily bitter and mean-spirited.
I thought I was going to move out of here a few months ago but as soon as we got back from Vegas I re-entered Santa Cruz’s well known vortex (I’m pretty convinced there’s a soul-devouring psychic field over the entire town), nothing went as planned and here we are with Christmas and New Year’s approaching (Kwaanza, Boxing Day, Hannukah…) I am still working on making the stars align to allow me safe passage to new chapter in my life in another location. At least I’ve gotten to take a few refreshing road trips in the past few months. Have you ever had the experience of wanting to move on from a place but having to stay there longer because you don’t have all your affairs in order to just pick up and go? That’s what my world has been like going back to around the time of my birthday in October. Being in that situation kind of forces you to reevaluate the whole thing and consider what it is you really feel about the place, weigh it’s pros and cons.
So in the spirit of not being a total shithead, I decided to start making note of all the things in this town that I really do like about this town instead of just complaint-ranting about the negatives all the time. Here’s what I came up with:
- The Boardwalk, because it’s an amusement park, duh. Don’t you find that amusing? Already covered this in a previous post.
- Coaster’s Bar and Grill. It’s in a bowling alley and there’s karaoke. As an extension of the Boardwalk beach-side complex, it’s decorated in a modern enough way to not looking run down, but it’s a bowling alley for fuck’s sake, so it still can’t quite shake that “seedy underbelly” feel that I find appealing somehow. For me it’s a good atmosphere to do some writing. The bartenders are all fabulous. It’s one of the few places in town that reminds of what I liked about Vegas, all neon lights and flashing video consoles (Atari Centipede!). The Hot Buttered Sailor Jerry is one of the finer experiences your taste buds can have.
- Salsa Dancing next to main beach Sunday night. Great music and those Latino guys really know their dance steps, an avid dancer myself, I’ve learn a lot about various moves just from watching them.
- The Poet and the Patriot. A true Irish bar all the way down to the historical political posters on the wall, not like Rosie McCann’s which is an “Irish bar” only in that it is a bar with an Irish name.
- Fire poi spinning, Sunday nights at the lighthouse. It’s fun. Who says hippies can’t do anything right?
- The Blue Lagoon. While occasionally overrun by oafish jock boys or twerking millennial hipsters, there’s enough of an older crowd holdover from when this place was truly the refuge for all the freaks and faggots to keep the ‘authentic’ feel going. Also watching Sal the manager (owner? not sure) hop over the bar and take down some obnoxiously too-drunk 22 year old twice his size is worth the price of drinks by itself.
- The Boat Harbor. As one who feels the call of all things nautical (see: first chapter of Moby Dick. Don’t worry, millennials, you don’t need to read the entire book, if you just skim the opening pages to figure out what I’m referencing then it’s only slightly longer than 140 characters. But you probably should read that whole book anyway though.), this little nook really soothes my soul. It’s the second best place in town – after the rather touristy wharf – to view sea lions, who use it as an ideal hunting ground. There’s some nice restaurants too.
- Aviary. Santa Cruz is an excellent locale for bird watching with multiple ecosystems (coastal, wetlands, forest) all colliding in the same area. One great place to go see waterfowl, including the always graceful Great Blue Heron is:
- San Lorenzo Park. Which would be, um, hypothetically a great place to smoke marijuana, if that weren’t, you know, totally illegal.
How I squeal with glee at each new trailer. The Force is with J.J. Abrams (I liked his Star Trek movies, he knows how to handle a franchise). The footage is all so beautiful. He’s nailed it, from what I can see. I think this is going to be good. I’m optimistic about the whole endeavor. We’ve waited our whole lives for a film set chronologically after Return of the Jedi (dances around the topic of the prequels… Huh? What was that?) and now it’s here. Almost. Ok… waiting.
Pic related. Sort of.