Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Occupy Utopia Mixtape

Loyal Wrinkleboro visitors will pardon the author for his lack of thematic or musical imagination in night-capping our good buddy, the year 2011. Loyal Wrinkleboro visitors will not think to themselves, "This guy and his YACHT and his utopia, oy vey." Furthermore, the mixtape offered below is the result of an idea that captured me last year, not necessarily the tunes that did, although there are a few of those within. Any with a taste for the more contemporary will find solace in these other fine selections.

For me, the Occupy movement turned a page on November 14th. That morning I picked up a Daily Tarheel that featured a jarring photo spread of some “known anarchists” being evicted by the assault-rifle-wielding Chapel Hill police from an empty building downtown.  Although the police were clearly bullying harmless protesters, I found I didn’t have all that much sympathy for either side. The guns were an inexcusable mistake, but I also didn't care for the hopeless generalization of the squatters' “Occupy Everything” banners. There has to be a clearer goal. That we all believe in. That we all work toward.

I knew the Occupy thing had jumped the shark completely when I was asked to come up with Occupy-themed slogans for a midnight energy drink scavenger hunt in the library during final exams. You're the 99% done - finish the game! Occupy the library and have a drink at the People's Assembly! If librarians are using Occupy language to promote a night of Taurine-injected corporate sugar bomb consumption, I suspect the movement’s public credibility is waning.

My mixed feelings about OWS stem from my mixed feelings about protest in general... and the unfortunate Bush-era connotations of the word itself, but that's a different essay. Almost ten years ago I drove 2700 miles in three days to go to a G8 protest in Calgary, only to feel awkward and useless. I could barely make it through the abridged version of A People's History because it was so depressing how little all those protests accomplished, a feeling that Zinn himself described in the conclusion. Of course I know there have been successes, lately and in our past, but it's exhausting to be against things all the time. And maybe not always productive.

Take sound waves. Remember how they behave? When two waves of equal size but inverse directions are added together, they cancel each other out. However, when two waves are aligned in the same direction and added, the resulting wave has twice the amplitude. Our country seems to be locked in patterns of opposing waves. Each side gets bigger and louder and more vehement, but still they merely oppose each other and so we make no headway towards a better quality of life.

So. The next logical place to occupy? Utopia, naturally.

My first teenage vision of utopia was a commune that would be collectively owned by my friends and sustained by the goods and services we sold from a farmstead. It was going to have a recording studio, a clinic, a kiln, a restaurant, and hydroelectric power from the river that twisted through our land. It didn’t take too long to see that such a vision is hindered by the improbable geography behind collecting friends in such a way. The solution, then, is a landless Shangri La: to create as much utopia as you can, whoever you're with, wherever you go. What else would you do with this life?

It’s hard to talk about utopia in times like these and not seem naive. It was even hard to find enough songs to fill up a utopian mixtape (i.e., apologies to those un-fond of Kool & the Gang and YACHT [whose  album earlier this year was the obvious catalyst for this mix]). But the challenge is simply to shift one of your waves just enough to be in phase with your neighbor where once it was out. I hope these songs can help you to pursue the sublime in the everyday of 2012.


Love, DJ Scrubbin Bubbles

Yes, it will happen in our lifetimes if we commit all of our energy today to the task of paradise engineering… The future exists first in our imagination, then in our will, then in reality. - YACHT

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