For Sinematic Effect

I’m not generally inclined to write about electoral politics, much less local politics (boooring!) but I feel compelled to make a few passing remarks on the Arizona Senate election between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally. I didn’t really feel strongly about either candidate, but I’m going to go ahead and endorse Kyrsten Sinema (I already voted for her once in the primary.) The ads being put out by supporters of McSally are so awful that I briefly wondered to myself whether the Sinema campaign had secretly created the ads themselves, just to make McSally look stupid! Anyway, it’s not just that the ads are negative or constitute “mudslinging” (who cares? lol.) What makes these ads so terrible is their total lack of substance and ill-chosen angles of attack, which signals a clueless misreading of the priorities of McSally’s own base of support, as well as outright contempt for the intelligence of all Arizonans.

Here is an example of the narration over an ad put out by the people who run “RadicalKyrsten.com.”

“Kyrsten Sinema has the phony politician act down. Before she went to Washington, she was a radical fringe protester. The Arizona democratic party said she was ‘too extreme.’ Kyrsten Sinema Radical. Extreme. Don’t for fall her act.”

(a similar, longer version of the ad can be found here)

They don’t ever bother to explain in what ways Sinema is supposedly “radical” and “extreme” or offer any explanation as to why being radical is inherently a bad thing. On some issues being extreme might be necessary, and many people would agree that radical changes are needed to fix the myriad of problems the US faces. The ad also makes the claim that Kyrsten was a “radical fringe protester” over 15 years ago. What sorts of things was she protesting exactly? She was protesting the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War! Two wars which were ill-conceived, totally unnecessary and a complete waste of money, life and resources. The War in Afghanistan is still going on. We haven’t even left yet, 7 years after Bin Laden was killed (in Pakistan.) This isn’t 2002 anymore. Americans want to stay out of these pointless wars in the middle east. Of all the things the GOP could make an issue of in this Senate campaign, they choose to attack Kyrsten for being anti-war. Another attack mentions that she was “a criminal defense attorney who defended murderers.” Well, so what? That is what criminal defense attorneys have to do. Everyone who is charged with a crime, no matter how awful, is entitled to an attorney. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to defend them, and Kyrsten was refreshingly straightforward about the way she described it. The ad also attacks her as a “socialist,” which just shows how out of touch these people are as younger generation republicans are becoming more and more skeptical of big tech corporations, free trade and unchecked capitalism and are moving toward populist economics which favor the working class.

In a sense these ads belong in a museum, for if they had been created as postmodern works of art as a sort of social commentary on the utter meaninglessness of contemporary political advertising…they would be masterpieces.

The irony though is that Kyrsten Sinema actually is a moderate, and in some of the best ways. She was attacked in The New Times because she had the common sense to insist that the US establish a more thorough vetting process before we consider allowing Syrian and Iraqi “refugees” to be resettled here. That alone is reason enough to vote for her.

Kyrsten Sinema is running a smart campaign. She knows that open borders and anti-white politics aren’t popular in AZ, so she’s focusing on health care and jobs. Meanwhile her GOP opponents are totally clueless and think it’s a good idea to attack Kyrsten for opposing the Iraq war. A GOP which runs on McCain’s neoconservative foreign policy and bombards the airwaves with the lamest political ads ever created deserves to lose. Even back when Kyrsten Sinema was just running for congress I remember being impressed with the aesthetics or her campaign. Her signs and fliers were some of the most artful I’ve seen associated with a political candidate. They embodied a kind of retro, 1980s NBA team style, reminiscent of old Denver Nuggets and Seattle Supersonics logos. Anyway, yeah. Vote for Kyrsten.

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Birthday Boy 22nd Anniversary Edition

Since today is my birthday, you can take this opportunity to purchase a limited edition cassette of a crappy lo-fi EP I released in 1996, (which has been re-released by a label in Eugene, Oregon without my knowledge or permission.) I guess I’ve finally reached the age as an artist where young people take up an interest my shitty and obscure early recordings, so I’m honored and grateful for that. I may not be worthy of such recognition, but no one can ever say I didn’t pay my dues.

Birthday Boy was originally released in October of 1996. It was recorded on a Fostex XR-3 when I lived in my first apartment, at Desert Star Apartments in Phoenix, AZ. The complex was a mildly seedy dump back then, but now resembles a dangerous, post apocalyptic wasteland. The apartment only came with basic cable, of which the only cable channels included were The Family Channel, C-Span and the E! Channel. That’s it, nothing else. Living on my own and knowing very few people in the city, I spent most of my spare time watching the E! Channel, which at the time featured reruns of Melrose Place, WKRP in Cincinnati, One Day at a Time, and Alice. Regular tv also aired reruns of Charlie’s Angels and The Rockford Files during this period. I mention this because the era has become an enduring inspiration for me and a formative part of my identity.

Since I was living a fairly isolated lifestyle and wasn’t socially active, I frequently wrote songs about the lives of characters on the shows I was watching. For example, the second track on Birthday Boy is titled Right Back Where I Started, but the lyrics actually chronicle the romantic and often diabolic misadventures of the character Michael on Melrose Place. There are dozens of similar recordings which once existed, such as my spoken word cover of the theme song of WKRP in Cincinnati (which was re-worded and adapted to be about Arizona.) Sadly, I have moved nearly 30 times since then, and these other recordings have all been lost over the years…having been last seen around the year 2004 or so.)

The show Alice was also a show which I found oddly relatable as an 18 year old young man. The plot of Alice was centered around a woman who was driving to Los Angeles to start a new life and pursue a singing career, but her car broke down in Phoenix. She ends up staying in suburban Phoenix after she’s forced to take a job at a diner there to make ends meet, and the place starts to grow on her.

Anyway, that is the story of Birthday Boy. The cassette re-release can be purchased HERE. Special thanks to Captain Crook Records for rediscovering this uncharted “fool’s gold” record. The limited edition cassette re-release is almost sold out, but Birthday Boy (along with many other recordings) can still be purchased through iTunes as well.

Click here to purchase on iTunes

An obscure 90’s oddity, Birthday Boy’s aesthetic resembles something of a “Lo-Fi Leisure Suit Larry.” The song, Right Back Where I Started chronicles the love life of the character Michael from the show, Melrose Place. Originally released on cassette in 1996, this is one the most unusual recordings from a highly experimental era of indie alternative music.

Robert Stark Talks to Brandon Adamson About Skytrain to Nowhere

Interview is available here

– The book is made up of poems resulting from the author’s experiences riding the skytrain at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

– How the book was loosely inspired by Keith Gunderson’s A Continual Interest in the Sun and Sea

– Brandon’s style and method of writing poetry

– How there is very little offensive material in the book compared to previous works

– The photographs in the book

– How the skytrain doesn’t really go anywhere but an imaginative person will envision potential destinations and explore the possible ways in which this kind of technology could be used

– The skytrain as a vehicle for escapism

– The airport as the blueprint for self contained cities

– Disneyland as also a model for self contained cities

– How the author’s fascination with skytrains and monorails originated with trips to Disneyland and Disney World in the 1980’s

– The importance of always staying on the move in life and never getting too comfortable

– The Retro-Futuristic themes in the book

– The Retro-Futurist’s dilemma of wanting to embrace the future while being inspired by nostalgia and having to determine what’s worth holding on to

– The poem Treadmill to Neonopolis named after the place in Las Vegas

– Mythological references in the book (Atlantis, Icarus, etc)

Purchase Skytrain to Nowhere on Amazon

Skytrain to Nowhere

Available in Paperback here

and eBook (pdf) here

Skytrain to Nowhere is an imagination driven and esoteric volume of free-form poetry. The book documents the author’s experiences, thoughts and observations while riding the skytrain at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport over the period of several weeks. Since the skytrain is only designed to transport travelers between various terminals and parking facilities at the airport, someone spending nearly 50 hours riding it purely for recreation and artistic inspirational purposes is highly unusual (to put it mildly.) Aside from occasional quirky anecdotes about various passengers, the poems mostly deal with themes of motion, the passage of time, and nostalgia. The author grapples with these issues from a retro-futurist perspective. Skytrain to Nowhere celebrates the realization that our vitality hinges on our ability to always keep moving, while recognizing we are unwilling or unable to leave some things behind on the journey.

Purchase Skytrain to Nowhere on Amazon.

Blood, Soil and Food Courts

metro_center_70s
MetroCenter Mall, Phoenix Arizona, 1970s

People often take it for granted that no one in cities like Phoenix could feel any connection to the local buildings because many of them are so recently constructed and thought to be from times when buildings had little to no spiritual or architectural significance other than for utilitarian commercial use or cookie cutter, tract housing.

“Would you fight and die for North Park Mall?” Richard Spencer asked jokingly (referring to a Dallas, TX shopping center that was presumably near an area where he grew up) during a recent Millennial Woes podcast titled, “The End of America.”

Well no..I wouldn’t, but mostly because I’m not from Dallas. However, I would fight and die for Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix, not because I’m some kind of libertarian zealot or free market fanaticist (if anything I’m closer to a crypto-communist) but because the building and surrounding area was an integral part of my childhood and teenage experience. Admittedly, I grew up around the eastern side of town. Other 80’s kids on the west side would have spent their youth cavorting around iconic Metro Center mall (one of the film locations of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.) MetroCenter was the vastly superior establishment before it became overwhelmed with nonwhite gangsters and wiggers in the early to mid 90’s and was too ghetto for civilized people to hang out at.)

Believe it or not and disturbing as it may seem, people who grow up here actually do feel connected to many of these local landmarks. They’re a part of our identity and culture. Humans are territorial creatures of habit, often becoming attached to familiar haunts, no matter how superficially or artificially contrived those habitats are. It isn’t the mindless consumerism of these old malls that people identify with, but their place in our hearts as social and community hubs. I have more aesthetic affinity for a 1970’s futurist Phoenix mall or swanky mid century modern dwelling than I do for any of the 17th century churches or old office buildings in the northeastern US. Those particular eras and places do nothing for me compared to the unfulfilled space age promise of mid-century modernism, and I’m not the only one, as there are a great many advocates here who attempt to preserve structures that many outsiders would reflexively deem significant.

Robert Fairburn, Architect of MetroCenter Mall
Robert Fairburn, Architect of MetroCenter Mall

Whether it was The Wanderers or Monster Kody, street gangs have always fought over what outsiders no doubt perceived to be worthless territory, in the trivialest of turf wars. Would you fight for your home? What about your neighborhood? What about your home away from home?

Some self-proclaimed photographer “activists” have managed to convince themselves that the “death of malls” signifies some kind of broader decline of American capitalism, but the reality is that these malls were simply devoured by the very machine mechanisms of capitalism that helped spawn them in the first place. They’re in fact being replaced with an even more atomized form of capitalism, consisting of online shopping and big box stores, with “social media communities” and phone app browsing replacing local shopping and social communities, taking depersonalization to a new level entirely. Instead of gloating over an illusory victory, leftists should be preserving and re-purposing these malls into the futuristic communal living and socialization centers they were originally envisioned as. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

metro-center2

Like Spencer, I don’t have any real attachment to the abstract values which comprise the contrived, constitutional “American” identity that conservatives fetishize and deify. And no, I probably wouldn’t actually fight and die for these local Phoenix malls, but only because they’re already ruined or nearly demolished. Much of this area is already overrun, and it’s too late. Some areas sadly have to be written off, because we just don’t have the numbers. Yet by necessity, the un-luxurious of us that remain (outnumbered) are compelled to gravitate toward a more biological identity, preserve the collective desire and genetic foundation that offers the greatest probability of creating the types of societies we wish to live in, somewhere. We’ll make a stand there. See you at the Orange Julius, Caesar!