the POIGNANT graphic novel OIL AND WATER (FANTAGRAPHICS, 2011) which examines the CUMULATIVE DESTRUCTION of both HURRICANE KATRINA in 2005 and the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill in 2010 on the ECONOMY, ECOSYSTEM and WAY-OF-LIFE of NEW ORLEANS and the surrounding marshes and wetlands of the bayou is a COLLABORATIVE effort between JOURNALIST STEVE DUIN of THE OREGONIAN and ILLUSTRATOR SHANNON WHEELER of THE NEW YORKER. its narrative centers around a group of WELL-MEANING ACADEMICS, OFFICIALS and REPORTERS from OREGON who visited the LOUISIANA COAST in august 2010 in the immediate aftermath of the DEEPWATER HORIZON CALAMITY (which ended in september 2010) to bear witness to the DEVASTATION as well as document the response.
what becomes all-too OBVIOUS in the midst of this cataloguing is the MONUMENTAL scale of the PROBLEM and the ABJECT FUTILITY in both attempting to repair the DAMAGE and addressing the GREED that spurred it into being in the first place, not just by BRITISH PETROLEUM, but by the greater POLITICAL and BUSINESS INTERESTS of the REGION over GENERATIONS. the FRUSTRATING INTRACTABILITY of the PROBLEM is just STUPEFYING and our COLLECTIVE CULPABILITY in incentivizing such CAVALIER risk-taking is clear as day. this will prove to be a continuing ENVIRONMENTAL SCOURGE for GENERATIONS to come as the unleashed oil continues to silently adversely affect FRAGILE WILDLIFE ECOSYSTEMS.
i believe DUIN and WHEELER made an ADROIT decision in presenting this material through the first-hand accounts of not only the visiting OREGONIANS, but also the local RESIDENTS and FISHERMAN who lived through both DISASTERS. in this manner you get an outside and inside perspective on the depths of how these NATURAL and MAN-MADE CALAMITIES profoundly alter WAYS-OF-LIFE and LOCAL CULTURE that previously spanned GENERATIONS. you also get the sense that we are all SUSCEPTIBLE to such given the changing state of the climate that is rooted in our collective INSATIABLE ADDICTION to fossil fuels. in LOUISIANA, that MASSIVE REVENUE generated by the PETROLEUM INDUSTRY is the root of the PROBLEM and there are no easy solutions.
walking away from this graphic novel, it just feels like and INDICTMENT on humanity's INABILITY to find balance with the NATURAL WORLD. we extract RESOURCES and create value for our SHAREHOLDERS, but at who's expense? our own and the VOICELESS future generations that have to wade through this SHIT. and oil if you live near the DELTA. OIL AND WATER is a MISERABLE but POIGNANT graphic novel well worth checking out.
the modern FRENCH METAL band GOJIRA is an absolutely MASSIVE band that are basically as universally celebrated as PANTERA, SLAYER, MASTODON and LAMB OF GOD at this point. i am under no preconceived notion that they are in any need of promotion by anyone these days, much less me and this blog. my reason for writing about them is their UNIQUENESS in the history of modern METAL and ROCK N ROLL in general.
the whole notion of being an 'outsider' and holding some type of personal grudge against society at large, or specific groups therein, is an essential element of modern AGGRESSIVE music going back to BLACK SABBATH or even further to DELTA BLUES. its just an ingrained part of the DNA of music. with GOJIRA, that anger and vitriol is redirected as most of their songs deal with the UNSPEAKABLE RAVAGES against the NATURAL WORLD through CLIMATE CHANGE. they write, by and large, from the perspective of the PLANET which is incredibly interesting when one considers how such redefines notions of in-group/out-group dynamics. as humans we are the root of all planet DEGRADATION and INSTABILITY like a CANCER on the natural cycles and established balances that have served WILDLIFE and the seasons for literally millions of years. we are war with the NATURAL WORLD in essence, they are the out-group. when i listen to GOJIRA, it is essentially the figurative PRIMAL SCREAM of a world in TURMOIL. like ELIZABETH KOLBERT's THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY (book review linked HERE) come to fruition. interestingly, the music videos from their most recent album FORTITUDE (ROADRUNNER, 2001) has seen them expand such to include minority societies like the TIBETANS and AMAZONIANS that live in harmony with NATURE but are victimized and put in incredible PERIL by those same INDOMITABLE forces of modern GLOBAL CAPITALISM and STATE POLITICS, whose influence have similarly DOOMED the PLANET and us all in its wake.
GOJIRA is basically merited FRUSTRATION and ANGER on an ELEVATED PLANETARY level. its an INTRIGUING redeclaration of a conservative genre not known or celebrated for its INTELLECTUAL conceits. in my opinion this perspective along with their preternaturally next-level technical rhythmic gifts has made them one of the most DYNAMIC and emotionally INTENSE METAL bands of all-time.
it also makes them well-worth checking out.
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
there is perhaps nobody more responsible for the visual aesthetics of PUNK ROCK than the late legendary ICONOCLASTIC BRITISH FASHION DESIGNER VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, who with her former partner MALCOLM MCLAREN helped initiate the notoriously CONFRONTATIONAL counterculture revolution in BRITAIN. but that known biography is not what makes the recent retrospective documentary WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST (FINISHED FILMS, 2018) such a COMPELLING artifact. it is what she was doing at the then-current cultural moment, taking on ARTISTIC and POLITICAL stands that made her life's creative work in FASHION such a TRANSCENDENT and INSPIRING narrative.
and what is she focused on at the time of this film: CLIMATE CHANGE. having visited the melting glaciers in the arctic via GREENPEACE, WESTWOOD is seen attempting to leverage her public profile and reputation as a FREE-THINKER to promote GREENER ENERGY ALTERNATIVES and better business practices. with the latter at front of mind, her business (note: film was shot pre-pandemic) for the first time has been witness to incredible growth on a global scale which means growing pains regarding less control and oversight relative to such an expanded operation. that such comes at a time when WESTWOOD is prominently voicing a more CONSCIOUS approach to objectively UNSUSTAINABLE INDUSTRY PRACTICES is the challenge of her late career. but her creative work has always served as an ALTERNATIVE to the predictable, so there is no doubt she'll figure it out.
i believe words like IDIOSYNCRATIC and ECCENTRIC have a negative connotation about them, so i will utilize words like SINGULAR and UNCONVENTIONAL to describe her ECLECTIC and ever EVOLVING aesthetic style which seemingly borrows from all aspects of history and geography. there is a moment in the film where WESTWOOD showcases her latest collection on a BRITISH daytime talk show only to be laughed at in scorn by the geriatric audience. its the perfect visual metaphor for why her work is such a VIBRANT expression of being BRITISH, fuck the boring middle-class bourgeois sensibilities regarding respectability. relatedly, one of the key declarations in the film by WESTWOOD is how PUNK ROCK was not a revolutionary movement but a temporary distraction that was soon commodified and appropriated into the corporate structure for ripe exploitation of the youth. having remained INDEPENDENT and SELF-OPERATED her whole career, there is an argument that WESTWOOD is more PUNK than the actual musicians that popularized the movement. just that insight alone into owning your own future and gaining the benefits from your own hard work outside of the fiefdom of corporate overlords feels in keeping with the stridently DIY aesthetic of 80s HARDCORE bands, not a fashion label.
its hard to watch WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST and not be INSPIRED to create and take real chances. most definitely a film worth watching irregardless of your interest in FASHION or PUNK ROCK. its a documentary about being a SELF-ACTUALIZED individual and wearing your freak flag no matter the consequences or public ridicule. those people will be forgotten. VIVIENNE WESTWOOD and her contributions to world culture, never mind the UNITED KINGDOM, will live on.
RIP VIVIENNE WESTWOOD
CLIMATE CRISIS AND THE GLOBAL GREEN NEW DEAL (VERSO, 2020) finds noted progressive economist ROBERT POLLIN of UMASS AMHERST and legendary linguist and originator of modern cognitive science NOAM CHOMSKY of MIT tackling the complex and heady question of pursuing how to go about pressing for an international agreement regarding the ongoing CLIMATE CRISIS.
the essential problem is that inherently capitalist objectives are not aligned with the survival of the environment and its life systems. capitalism is about generating profit and providing value to their shareholders. end stop.
in the UNITED STATES the entire political structure, including both parties, adhere to a religion of NEOLIBERALISM that advocates unadulterated faith in the markets and the flawed idea that markets should replace government as the rule setter of economic activity. this is beyond problematic as the markets are not unbiased agents. all problems, or externalities in business parlance, that result formtheir flawed profit-seeking logic will be dealt, as believed by NEOLIBERALS, with the gusto, ingenuity and innovation. the concern now is that a market correction is not on the radar for most companies, who have a profit incentive to downplay and promote a culture of CLIMATE DENIALISM. it gets worse.
this culture is most obviously seen in the REPUBLICAN PARTY post-NEWT GINGRICH who have advocated for obstructionist policies regarding policies that would limit the economies ability to continue exploiting nature unabated and diminishing life in the process. it may sound like an alarmist fever dream, but consensus regarding CLIMATE SCIENCE by the scientific community is nearly unanimous. even among right-wing political parties worldwide, the REPUBLICAN PARTY is an outlier, with their domestic policies largely being shaped by private energy interests like the KOCH BROTHERS since their infiltration in the 1980s. the power of this constituency is bearing fruit currently and is the reason for AMERICAN intransigence in global attempts at addressing this issue.
in the UNITED STATES there is this concept that until recently has not been challenged of the enduring moral superiority of CAPITALISM over other systems, forgetting entirely that our economy has been driven over the course of our history by SLAVERY, COAL and OIL. all three are ethically problematic and have set into motion what is likely to be a world environment degraded and desecrated for future inhabitants. and the base reason for such is the profit principle.
it all seems so sad and pathetic really.
this book is rather wonky and a bit dense. it very much feels like reading a lecture chaired by two knowledge academics who are not dumbing down the conversation. this is very much how the book is structured, with moderator C.J. POLYCHRONIOU asking questions and each taking turns expounding on such. for me this book helps solidify my knowledge of current efforts to combat the CLIMATE CRISIS through advocating new power structures through renewed commitments to organized labor and other grassroots advocacy organizations worldwide aimed at being a voice for sanity in this discussion, which is essentially being sidelined by AMERICAN objectives, both political and economic. for the sake of the world these groups need to flourish and gain influence for further negotiations. otherwise the prognosis is toxic.
much like THE SIXTH EXTINCTION (review linked HERE) by ELIZABETH KOLBERT, this conversation regarding the CLIMATE CRISIS and human attempts at addressing such are dizzyingly complex and soul crushingly depressing given its scale. but it is a necessary conversation worth having.
this calamity just feels inevitable. to me personally at least.
great book that presents a discussion that i by no means did justice to. this is a book most definitely worth reading.
you think you know how bad things are with nature, and then you read THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY (PICADOR, 2014) by ELIZABETH KOLBERT, WILLIAMS COLLEGE fellow and staff writer on environment for THE NEW YORKER. and now you are officially overwhelmed and depressed.
where KOLBERT excels is in her ability to provide context to the geological time scale involved in any discussions surrounding the evolution of life and extinctions. the problem is not that change hasn't happened in the past that has resulted in mass extinction, it has. the problem currently is the rate of change. life in this context does not have the time to evolve or adjust to new parameters and the implications are disastrous. it is as if the rules of nature have been one way for millions of years and then humans post-INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION have shifted the climate and environment to the point that old rules dont apply. this emerging geological age we live in now is called the ANTHROPOCENE and it is marked by GLOBAL WARMING, OCEAN ACIDIFICATION, HABITAT FRAGMENTATION, the flattening of global biodiversity through the creation of a NEW PANGEA where foreign predators are introduced via international trade and commerce among other mechanism. in the end they all result in human initiated incursions that are projected to result in an historic sixth mass extinction that will be visible for millions of years via the geological record.
that is not to say that the world wont continue. it will. new speciation and relations between organisms will emerge and continue to run unabated in a future post-human era. it is just that our presence and the collective choices of mankind have resulted, from our inception, in the death of countless species. it is really quite remarkable and it is a testament to her ability as a writer to paint these problems with such crushing force. these mechanism of extinction are all introduced with her describing a visit to a relevant locale (PERU, ICELAND, WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS, BRASIL etc.) and elaborating for us about what is special about the plant and animal residents of this era and the unique parameters that brought on their evolution and specialized rituals and adaptations to the area. and then we learn how humans, usually unintentionally, have affected their ability to live. each time in a uniquely destructive manner.
arguably the most depressing thing about this book is that it isnt empowering. it is not about our individual choices that have gotten us here. this destruction is all seemingly hardwired and inevitable. it is essentially part of our nature as humans. as long as we prosper we will continue to impact the planet and these irreversible mechanism will continue to run unabated, destroying life and leaving our world that much less diverse and rich to leave to future generations. it is our creativity and ability to pass on knowledge via communication systems that have led us to live apart from nature, apart from evolution. it is our ability to innovate that led us here. in 500 million years since complex organisms rose up, this is the first mass extinction of geological scale predicated on the influence of a single species.
and that is our true legacy as humans. not art. not technology. just death.
this is an incredible book that i could not recommend any more passionately. it presents deeply disturbing and affecting ideas that linger and claw at you long after finishing the book.