Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why... When We Know Better


Some days all I want to do is watch T.V. Yesterday was one of those days. I spent the majority of my time tuned to a box, useless. Useless to myself, and against my better knowledge. I tried to read a book somewhere in the middle of the day, but after about six or seven pages I started to yearn for the ease of the glowing box. Even more discussed with myself than before I needed the thoughtlessness, and I turned the box back on. Completely turned off, I wasted another day.

At work yesterday a woman sampled some blueberry gelato. She like it, and after deciding to order, threw into the universe, "Plus it's got all them antioxidants (she pronounced, annie-og-zidents), so it's good for you..."

No, that's wrong. I knew it. I've study herbs and vitamins for years. And how dare she pollute the environment with such a dumb and thoughtless statement. I rolled my eyes about to just let it happen, knowing that the comment meant one of only two things. Either she truly believed that a cold dessert could be beneficial to her health. Or, because she was a little over weight, and alone in an ice cream shop, perhaps the woman felt a little self-conscience and was simply trying to make a quick joke to sooth her unease. Both scenarios made me want to vomit. I consciously threw her a look that could only have read,
you have no idea what your talking about you dumb twat. My urge to correct her and set the universe right again took over, so I said simply, "Well, it's not the same as eating a hand full of blueberries, this is a little too processed to have anything really valuable left, at least in that sense." I thought this a fair statement.

Well, I really must have offend her because she whipped her head around at me, grabbed my eyes with hers, zeroed in, and repeated like a some kind of future-robot-of-information that could only be envisioned in the darkest of negative-Utopian/Orwell/Huxley wet dreams, "Oh no Mr., I know blueberries have annie-og-zidents, OK, so don't try to tell me what I know... I'll take a large." She snapped and locked her neck and lifted lifted her right eyebrow so confidently, as if because she had seen one Dr. Oz episode of Oprah she was some kind of fucking Blueberry Scientist. I instantly gave up. I walked away from her and washed some dishes at the other end of the bar. At least I can fix these I thought. I'll have to correct the universe another day.

Why do we give up on ourselves, and others?

Why do we want things to be so easy?

Why do we watch T.V.?

Why do I buy iced tea, when I should buy water?

Why do I want to look like Gael Garcia Bernard some days, when I should want to look like myself every day?

Why do police officers consistently get new cars, but in schools never get new books?

Why do we spend $37,000 a year to imprison 1 person, and only $7,000 to educate 1 person?(US)

Why are 5,000 pedestrians killed each year by cars, including in 2001, but we don't have a War On Cars?

... Think about it, more Americans were killed this year alone by other Americans driving drunk and using their cell phones, than all the road side bombs and insurgencies combined, five years plus, in Iraq... (And that's only counting Pedestrian vs. Car fatalities)...

Why do we want better schools, but fail to educate ourselves and maintain even lower standards for our neighbors?

Why don't we do better when we know better? Or do we just not know any better?

Words and Video by Conrad Benner, Photo by Eric Gillet

The Art Of Acting with Conrad Benner

... This is what happens when it rains all day...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Start (Your) Revolution!


... No One's Starting It For You...

Taxation Without Representation

... For Many Young Americans, This Is The Case...

(13 y/o boy is mega pissed off he has to wait a half-decade to cast his first vote.)

OK, 13 does seems a little young... But how do you pick an age, a barrier, that on one side argues someone is reasoned and informed enough to elect an official, and that on the other side, they're not? You could argue that a lot of adults aren't reasoned or informed enough to cast a ballot (mostly everyone that watches the 6 o'clock news, for starters).

Well, I was thinking, back to when I was 16, and working at Old Navy. At 16 it is legal to work in PA. So I did. And I legally(?) had 1/3 of my $6.35 an hour taken out of my paycheck for taxes.

In this case, income tax, a tax imposed upon those who are given no representation, contradics the theme of our constitution and the spirit in which it was written. So, should we rethink lowering the voting age again?

Not to mention that if people, curently in our public school systems, could vote...

These questions are being asked all over the world... Germany now has five states where 16 is the legal voting age. 

For me it's as simple as this... If you are old enough to pay for your government's policies, you should be able to vote for the policy makers... Lower it!

Words and Video by Conrad Benner, Photo by Robin Dude

Friday, July 11, 2008

Start A (Mental) Revolution!


... Start Something!


... Or You'll Do Nothing...

Thursday Is My Monday... And So Begins Another Week

The 4th Of July Had Me Thinking... Independence, Okay, But For Who? 


I work a service job. But that doesn't really matter, jobs are jobs. Wether you work at a cafe, an office, or Urban Outfitters. The systems are the same. You work for a company that views you as an expense, and are delt with accordingly. Like paper. They can write whatever they want on you, and throw you away just as easily. You earn just enough money to make do, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, depending on the job. You spend the vast majority of this money on necessities. Rent. Food. Healthcare. The rest you spend on things, generally made by slaves (of the more literal sense). Usually to impress people you don't know and don't even like. The things make you happy, until they don't anymore, and you buy new things. Most of your time is sold away from you. You are left, by design, small amounts of time to think critically. Anxiety rules this time. You're fat. You need a new job. Your mom has cancer. Your president just made it legal to spy on you without judicial approval (against the most basic ideals of your country's constitution). How much is that new iPhone? You spend your "free" time numbing yourself. Watching T.V. Drinking. Soccer practice. Pills. And there you have it. You make the world (economy) go round.

And don't confuse critical thought with the echoing of a news anchor, or the opinions held by a magazine, or any media for that matter. They are companies, who's priority is profit. In my experience, critical thought only comes from prolonged silence. Digesting what you've been fed, expelling the shit, and absorbing the nutrients. 

In a system where your body is sold by the hour, independence is a critical thought. 

My, Welcome-To-Your-Work-Week, anthem... (Mr. Lif, Live From The Planation)

By the way... I happen to be working at a great job right now. I've never been more happy with the people I work with, or the people I work for. I work Thursday thru Monday. 

Words by Conrad Benner

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Age Of American Unreason

... I can't believe I'm doing this either... But it's happening...

Trying to make a video,

2nd try, (I still don't know how to invert the image to have the book show properly.)

Would you believe that only "26% of American adults accept Darwin's theory of evolution?" Or that "1 in 4 public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously?" This is fucking ridiculous and altogether embarrassing. Why are we in the midst of such an intellectual depression and how did we get here?

I'm only a couple of chapters into Susan Jacoby's "The Age Of American Unreason" and the theories she's putting forth are already pouring in, bright as day. All while hitting all sorts of personal notes with me. Growing up in the 80's and 90's, video culture dominated my experiences and shaped my attention span. (Which would later be diagnosed as at a deficit, A.D.D., like a lot of children.) And, without having to read anything really longer than 15 pages, with the exception of a few Goosebumps books early on, and half of Wuthering Heights in high school. I found it a breeze to get through Philadelphia's public school system. These, just two of the issues Jacoby picks up while examining the rise of anti-intellectualism and unreason in America. With a quick wit, some damning criticisms and a powerful juxtaposition between America today and that of the newly born America our founder's lived, Jacoby kicks you in the ass from the first page of the book, a quote by Thomas Jefferson...

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

Fuck all those days you spent hours gazing at a box, missing life, missing opportunities, and missing knowledge. 

Read This Book! (And buy it from a independent bookstore.)

Words and video by Conrad, some excerpts from "The Age Of American Unreason."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

3 American Heroes Saved From Evil Kidnappers In A Far, Far Away Land...

... In Related News: After 6 Years Of US Imprisonment With No Charges, Not One Single Charge, The Bush Administration "Tries To Figure Out" What To Do With An Estimated 120 Foreign "Terror Suspects" They Do Not Plan To Bring To Trial... Currently Still Being Held At Guantanamo Bay...

(I wonder if one day his people will be able to write about him being a hero, released from some evil place far, far away?)

Give me a fucking break... The good ol' American "Contractors" the press
speak about so endearingly work for Northrop Grumman, a US-funded (by the way that means 13.5 Billion of your tax dollars funded) "defense" company. The third largest US "defense" company, after Lockheed Martin and Boeing. They make B-2 stealth bombers, F-14 fighters, unmanned Global Hawks, assault ships... and on and on and on. They sure as hell aren't dairy farmers.

But then who are these men? What were they doing in Columbia? And to those questions, I have no idea... I've been looking around for about an hour now and not one "credible" news source mentions the 3 Americans intentions for being in the region. Isn't that kind-of important information?

When I come home from work and see that my dog, Choco, has taken a shit on the 3rd floor, the first thing I think, the first thing I yell, is "What the hell where you doing up here Choco!?!" ... Of course he never answers me. Usually his tail will slow it's frantic pace, the one that it gets from the shear excitement of my homecoming. A common, "I'm home!" dog owner/dog ritual, and as it moves down into his crotch, he throws me this look... this look like, "Geez, I... I, never thought you'd look up here, um..." After a second or two of silence I pick up the poop and I call him an "asshole!" (he has adopted this as his tough-love nickname), that's when his tail picks up it's pre-investigation speed, and we go for a walk.

The funny thing about all of this is, the role words play in sculpting thoughts and feelings. Not only do you not get the whole story from the press, but in the part of the story you do get, words, titles, and phrases are so altered, and so buffed, to give as specific a feeling as possible. So that, for instance, instead of "27 soldiers killed this month in Iraq", we get "27 troops killed". The word troop is less individual, less human than soldier. (Not to mention that we don't see any coffins coming into Delaware Air Force Base, like we have in every other war, or a single funeral services for that matter.)


Calling the 3 American men "Contractors", as opposed to "US-Funded Defense Something-Or-Others", makes the men sound like they were laying asphault on old dirt roads, or building new computer labs in underprivladged schools. It sends a distict image of good ol' American boys helpin' out 'em other poorer countries. Well maybe, that's as much as they want you to think, "3 American Heros Saved From Evil Kidnappers In A Far, Far Away Land."

And why is it that every "credible" news source is calling them "Contractors", or just simply "3 Americans", when really they are closer to US military agents? Is it a coincidence? Why do they all use the same rhetoric?

My fellow Americans, I have a feeling someone's been shitting on the 3rd floor... And we need a hell of a lot more than the US press admitting, "Oh, yeah... I, I never thought you'd look up there... Um... Oh, did we mention California is on fire?"

Written by Conrad Benner