Flowers

So I’m back in Salt Lake and I decided to put my high end floral design business back in order, as you do. I know nothing about floral design outside of my own innate and clearly unpolished sense of aesthetics, but of course. Zaq from Zaqistan once told me I operate like General Patton, in that I just go for it without a plan, which isn’t necessarily the best way to get certain things done. That’s another story, but I kind of think he’s right. I do not give a fuck but totally don’t doubt that I can pull it off, and if I don’t pull it off, fuck it, I tried.

Anyways.

We had to do this wedding for Andy, the drummer from Fuck the Informer, who happens to be my proverbial brother and someone I care about. Fuck man, I’m so tired and apparently going through a breakup at this exact moment and I don’t care and whatever, love hurts sometimes. She’s someone I could write a library about. That’s another story too. Regardless, I felt like I should share the text messages I just sent my mom, word for word.

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“Check this out.

So, Erik and I literally almost died from making flowers for Andy’s wedding. I had the brilliant idea of trying to make it as cheap as possible for him, giving him a multiple thousands of dollars wedding for almost nothing, which turned out to be $500 bucks. We “locally sourced” everything except the flowers for the bouquets (hence the real money), and we turned cinderblocks into containers that would likely cost $80-100+ each. So check this out.

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We started with these

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Gathering some of those hydrangeas with his daughter

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Staining stupid blocks

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Bags of pedals for pedal girl or whatever.

Clearly locally sourced sunflowers, done at 4 AM because we can’t keep working on these stupid bouquets this late but the pedals have to be done.

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Pre pedals

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Okay, this is what we have to work with. Notice the bamboo, which is filled with organic fiberglass shards that I’m apparently allergic to.

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“Locally sourced” from abandoned buildings

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Erik really doing the designing

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Pretty aggressive and expensive bouquets

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Whoa

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And look.

Mom, I swear, I really try hard at things, even if it doesn’t always show. Thanks for your support, it impacts more people than you know.”

Very Cool, Very Fucking Cool

Ugh, it’s really nice to be reminded how people are amazingly willing to fuck you over, even at six in the morning, isn’t it? Black people are being shot by cops, cops are being shot by people in response, and a girl is fucking me over as I type, all of which is totally nice to know. I’m homeless again and have been dealing with more brain problems, but for a minute I though things were just okay, when in reality I’m being reminded by reality that things are fucked up, which is cool to know. The last thing I’d want is to think is things are okay. It’s cool to remember that.

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Ugh, you don’t need to be this tired at a time where you need to know what you’re doing.

Getting Fired Again

Sat, Dec 29, 2015 at 4:11 PM

“Hi Mike, as of this moment, the Gallivan Center is terminating your employment for insubordination and trying to entice the breakdown of a great working ice rink team by undermining to the rink staff of Kurt Butkovich of who has been employed at the Gallivan Center for over 10 years and has done an outstanding job.  Numerous ice rink staff indicated that you were disruptive and negative toward not only Kurt , but the whole team unity that we have worked hard to obtain.

Please turn in your keys and uniform to security no later than 6:00 pm on 12/30/15.  Please contact security at 801-834-4890 upon your arrival.

Thank you for your cooperation.”

—————————————————————————————–

It hasn’t been fully confirmed as of this moment (*update: yes it has), but I think I’m about to be fired from another job, this time for insubordination. I am only so surprised. I mean, I’d only worked a few weeks before being fired, so it came out of the blue. I also didn’t do anything insubordinate, meaning the news caught me further off guard. To be fair, insubordinate is not the worst description of me, and although it’s rather disconcerting to be fired, as it does cause a certain amount of reflection, I’d never want to be “subordinate” to anything.

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Insubordinate. What the fuck? You’d think enticing the breakdown of “a great working ice rink team” was cool. Apparently not.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been guilty of exhibiting careless, rebellious behavior at jobs. I was fired from my first job at IHC (gross misconduct), my bartending gig at the Ex-Wife’s Place (conspiracy), Twilite Lounge (failure to conspire), on the middle of a cruise ship by MILK (supposedly for being “the worst person ever”), a tutoring/mentoring job for some rich girl (a tweet), my job making gravestones at the Salt Lake Monument shop (fired for being a bad laborer by a guy who was a good laborer and had the hunchback to show for it), two relationships (emotional instability) and a hockey team (my hair I assume). And that’s just what I remember.10574532_1023785017635244_4655788656227732916_n

I’ve also had job offers retracted from me a few times, most noticeably at the Gallivan Ice Rink (bad fucking credit [before subordination]), from the Economist (thanks to my alleged Marxist leanings due to my degree being earned at the University of Utah), and, ironically enough, the University of Utah (an article I wrote about the NCAA being full of shit).

Fuck that noise.

Still, losing this job makes me pause and reflect. I guess if I look at it from a comprehensive perspective, my employment portfolio shows some definite trends. There’s probably a reason why no one asks me to be a reference. The weirdest part is that I’m actually a good worker. True, I’ve always said there’s nothing more depressing than hearing someone say they’re good at their job, but outside of that one-liner, I actually strive to do solid work when treated with respect. Seriously, I mean that. Too bad I rarely get those jobs.

Now, on one hand it is clear that I’m badass, and am simply reaping the rewards of said badassery. On the other hand, maybe I’m confusing badass with dumbass, which explains why I’m currently on the way to a sandwich shop to organize a couple shelves in exchange for a sandwich and $10 bucks.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

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At what point did I develop this personality trait? I do believe in that whole nature-and-nurture thing, where we’re influenced both by our genetics and environment, but at some point I also have to blame myself, whoever or whatever myself is. Is it right to say I have a rebellious “nature” or is it something contrived within me? I’m not sure.

I guess when it comes to working for people who don’t value me, I’ll defer to the wisdom of my grandma; “Fuck it.”

*Update: I just got a short-term job working as a fixer for a documentary series. Stay tuned to how I get fired from that one.

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Official Zaqistan Press Release

Zaqistan is consuming my life to such a degree that I’m questioning who I am in the first place. Why am I working so hard on this insane project? Who knows. Anyway, we have a couple events coming up, so I thought I’d share with you our official press release I’m sending media outlets. Take a look if you’re interested…

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The 10th Anniversary of the Republic of Zaqistan

November 19th, 2015, marks the 10th year anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Zaqistan, and to celebrate Twilite Lounge is hosting an Independence Day party. CUAC is buying a beer for every official Zaqistani citizen in attendance, and Zaqistani citizenship can be applied for and granted by Rep. Michael Abouzelof at a pop-up kiosk in the bar. Citizenship is free for those who meet the criteria of truly wanting it.

This event will be followed up by an academic symposium held at CUAC on December 3rd. On that night, we will be discussing the concepts behind Zaqistan, the recent media frenzy, as well as how the micronation fits with the history of Utah.

In case you are unaware, here is a quick background on Zaqistan. In 2005, New York artist Zaq Landsberg purchased two acres in a remote Utah desert for $610 off of eBay. After venturing out to the land that summer, Landsberg and a few friends who would become the first Zaqistani citizens declared independence from the United States and founded the Republic of Zaqistan. Ten years later, and with the help of writer Michael Abouzelof, Zaqistan has morphed into an international phenomenon that calls into question what it means to be a nation is in the first place.

Over time, Landsberg has built an array of monuments and public works on the land, including a Victory Arch, a customs booth immigration station, and robotic sentinels that protect the borders. Zaqistan has opened a temporary Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina and a Consulate-General in New York City in 2012. The Zaqistan State Department has issued more than 175 passports to date, and more than 300 people around the world hold Zaqistani citizenship.

Described as a “sovereign nation” by Conan O’Brien, “conceptual art project turned into a literal example of nation-building,” by Vice Media and acknowledged by US Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) as a “country,” the Republic of Zaqistan exists on a multitude of different levels. While public figures joke about the micronation, refugees from around the world have sought asylum there. It is a plot of land, a severely weathered sculpture garden, a national identity, a conceptual art piece, a de-facto sovereign nation, and a probe into the meaning of sovereignty, legitimacy, nationalism, perception, and reality.

To date, Zaqistan has been reported on in 40 countries and in more than 27 languages. It has been featured in Vice, the NY Daily News, PEOPLE Magazine, ARTE (France), The New York Times, Deseret News, KSL, WGN Radio, New York Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, USA TODAY, Fox News, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Yahoo! News, Business Insider, The Seattle Times, The Miami Herald, The Denver Post, SFGate, Salon, DunyaNews Pakistan, Emirates 24/7, Irish Examiner, Egypt 1, Singapore News, Kenya Central, and many others.  

Michael Abouzelof is a writer and representative of the Republic of Zaqistan. In the past he has been described as “a living example of the dysfunction of the American medical system.” Currently writing for VICE Media, he specializes in radical economics with a pop culture twist, late night existential discourses, and potentially treasonous conceptual art projects.

CUAC, formerly known as the Central Utah Art Center, is an artist-run contemporary art venue located in the heart of Salt Lake City. Their aim is to continue to be a pioneer in contemporary art in Utah and to take a multifaceted approach to community development through education, exhibitions, symposia, criticism, education about art collecting, and collaboration.

Twilite Lounge is a Salt Lake City dive bar that has been in operation since 1947. Home to an assortment of people from all walks of life, it is a popular neighborhood spot for young and old alike. On the night of the decennial party, they will be serving an assortment of drinks that feature the finer points of Zaqistani mixology.

The Salt Lake City event on November 19th is part of a global celebration of Zaqistanis coming together to mark the country’s decennial. Concurrent festivities will be held in New York, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and Paris. The event is free and open to anyone 21 and older.

November 19th, 2015

8 PM–1 AM

Twilite Lounge

347 E 200 S

Salt Lake City, UT

The symposium on December 3rd will be held at CUAC. The discussion will be held from 6–7, followed by a general mingling from 7–8. It is free and open to all.

December 3rd, 2015

6 PM–8 PM

CUAC

175 E 200 S

Salt Lake City, UT

Contact zaqistanslc@gmail.com for more information.

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God Save Mike Abu

There hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of good things that have come out of the $18,000 dollars in medical bills I’ve racked up since August, but this video is definitely one of them.

My buddies Spencer Wohlrab and Jackson Chapman collaborated on a Go Fund Me page to raise some money for me, and since the page needed a video, Spencer put together this little guy. The $1,500 people donated turned out to be super helpful, but realistically the best part of the whole thing was knowing my friends had my back. Major injuries can be extremely demoralizing (trust me, I know), so knowing my scumbags friends actually care is, well, nice. Maybe there’s something to that whole “birds of a feather” thing. Either way, here’s the video.

[DISCLAIMER: It’s pretty ridiculous]

You can still donate here if you’re interested.

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Cool Runnings (Quite Possibly the Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Written)

So I had to do this focus group, right? It’s all about snowmobiles and why I’d want one, which clearly means I had to stretch the truth. I mean, what would I do with a snowmobile? I have no truck to transport it, no money to buy it, and absolutely zero interest in owning one in the first place. Nonetheless, there was a fifty dollar prize for whoever made the most creative piece (which I crushed by the way), and I figured I’d just mess around with it and see what came out. It’s terrible, utterly terrible, but it does have some moments. Here are the three questions I had to answer:

1) WHAT YOU THINK YOU WILL LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR VEHICLE

Be it a snowmobile, personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicle, side-by-side vehicle, motorcycle, 3-wheel roadster or boat, we know you are contemplating ownership of one. Please let us know what you think you will LOVE most about it? Ultimately, what is the appeal? Why do you want one of these vehicles? Please show us through a few images.

2) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR NEW VEHICLE?

What do you envision doing with this power sports vehicle? Where will you go? With whom will you be? What activities will take place?

3) HOW DO YOU THINK YOU WILL FEEL?

Think about when you actually have this vehicle. Think about doing with it what you referred to on the prior page. How do you think it will feel? Please tell us about what you think it will mean to you to own it, use it, drive, ride it. What will you get out of it? Perhaps think about how you might complete the sentence – “Driving/riding my new vehicle will make me feel ____________.”

What is life like without it? How do you feel about not owning one today?

Here’s my response…………………………………………………………………………………………..

COOL RUNNINGS

Chapter 1

Since the dawn of time, snowmobiles (a.k.a. Chariots of the Arctic) have given humans quick access to areas that might otherwise take what feels like forever to get to. Not only are they insanely awesome to ride, they provide riders with a command of the elements that transcends them from the world of mere mortals to the realm of the Gods.

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They are fast, sleek, no nonsense machines that can be used in a variety of ingenious ways. For some, they are purely recreational; for others, necessary for survival in isolated communities. Carl Eliason, who is considered the inventor of the snowmobile, found  the machines to be ideal for hunting. “With this machine, I was able to turn the tables on my hunting comrades–as long as there was snow on the ground. While they hoofed it on foot, I would ride and get to our destination in the woods an hour ahead of them!” Although the machines can be loud enough to alert potential game of a hunter’s presence, the ability to move with relative ease through the snow is simply too advantageous to ignore.

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However, since I do not hunt, none of that applies to me. The real reason I would love my new snowmobile is similar why bikers love their motorcycles–they provide an avenue for going where no man has gone before, an enhancement of liberty as I continue my quest for discovering true freedom.

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True freedom and picking up chicks.

Chapter 2

Of course, there might be more to life than finding true freedom and meeting women. Possibly. For me, having fun with my friends brings color to my life, and having a snowmobile would allow us to color outside of the lines. I cannot say for certain where we go, as I envision me and my two best friends traveling through parts unknown, following our hearts into territories that would otherwise remain foreign to us. I can see it now; blizzards, bears, our own self-doubts–these would no longer be obstacles for us. If anything, they would provide us with unique moments to reminisce about once we got back to the lodge. A sense of comradery can be found through such experiences. I have no doubt that Mike Brown, Jon Larsen and I would become better friends because of our snowmobiles.

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I would also want to look like the polar version of Ayrton Senna, a Formula One race car driver who tragically passed before his time. I would coordinate my outfit to match my snowmobile with his image in mind, dressing all in red except for my signature yellow helmet. That way there would be no question who was lapping the other snowmobilers.

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Chapter 3

Obviously my snowmobile would make me feel awesome. Why wouldn’t it? Everything I’ve described rules so hard that I can’t imagine feeling anything less that fulfilled. True, eventually I would have to return to civilization and resume my day-to-day existence, but knowing that I now have the ability to feel that level of coolness–both figuratively and literally– would give me something to look forward to. Although the general drudgery of work would still be unavoidable, I’d know that soon I’d be flying across the snow.

Both figuratively and literally.

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Now that I think about it, life without my snowmobile totally sucks. Am I wasting my life? Why am I here right now, sitting in this room, when I could be out on the backwoods trails, the crisp wind chilling my face as my all-powerful machine warms my heart? Human beings are both blessed and cursed with our ability to conceptualize, and whereas thinking about my snowmobile while I sit in a cubicle is something I’d love, sitting in my cubicle thinking about how I don’t have a snowmobile is completely crushing. Life is already hard without having to realize that you don’t have a snowmobile, and with that in mind, is there really any question of why I want one in the first place? No, there isn’t.

I want a snowmobile.

I need a snowmobile.

And as God as my witness, I will have a snowmobile.

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Note: I chose these photos because they reflect exactly what I think when the word snowmobile comes to mind. Outside of Aryton Senna, all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

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The Best Thing Vice Cut Out of My Article

Yes, my new article on Zaqistan is up and going, and though it’s getting some positive reviews or whatever, I’m a little bummed out about how it was edited, mostly because it excluded a certain line that I felt was necessary. Since I’m the editor of this far superior site, I thought I’d share with you my favorite line from the story. It goes as follows:

IMG_4325“Brothels, man,” Scott muttered as he slammed rivets into the sheet metal, “that’s what this place needs.”

–Scott Wasilewski

IG: swagsilewski

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Christmas Eve 2010 | Me and Mike Brown Discuss Girls

162958_1753572049270_6966341_nChristmas really sucks sometimes. Like, really sucks, and for a whole slew of reasons. Maybe you didn’t get whatever present you wanted or maybe you’re stuck dealing with some bitchy family members. Maybe you’re just alone and suicidal, again. The reasons are generally very personal, but there’s no denying the holiday can be tricky at times.

In 2010, Mike Brown and I were pissed off to all hell. Not only did we not have any clue what we were doing with our lives, but a friend of ours who had been hit by a car and was in lying in a coma in critical condition. The latter was the particular catalyst for setting us off on our path of destruction, and the former purely flamed the fire. But when it really comes down to it, the whole thing was about girls.

Earlier that summer, I’d driven across the country from New Orleans to Salt Lake City with the sole intention of laying it all out on a line for a girl, who promptly rejected me. I really should have taken that into consideration after the first time I’d done that, leaving San Francisco for the same girl with the same result. Clearly I’m either a slow learner or a glutton for punishment. I really liked that girl, and the whole thing was making me completely unhinged.

Mike Brown on the other hand, he was dealing with a complete lush who tended to be coked up out of her mind most of the time. She’d been calling and yelling at him all night, and Mike had had enough. We drank whiskey and discussed all these bullshit things that were making us angry and frustrated, and I vaguely remember asking Mike, “What the fuck are we supposed to do about any of it?”
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Mike said something and punched the fridge. I punched the fridge too, so Mike kicked it and dented in the door. This caused me to throw a plate on the ground. Mike thought that was a great idea and smashed a plate that we’d always hated. That’s when I pulled out the hammers. What followed was 45 plus minutes of me somehow filming us as we held a drunken conversation about women and life, shattering all of our dishes with hammers in the process.

If you watch all the videos, you get an idea for the level of communication that Mike and I have between each other. Sure, we might be hammering the handle off our frying pan, but we’re also talking honestly about how we feel. For instance, at one point I ask Mike what he’s looking for a girl, and he didn’t hesitate to say the truth. “Awesome boobs. Awesome boobs and that’s pretty much it. I’ve tried to look for everything else and I can’t find it,” he said. “So what else is there than awesome boobs?”

Later I filmed him getting dumped by the girl in question. Looking back, it’s pretty weird that I felt comfortable keeping the camera on him in awkward silence as some girl explains why they’re done over the phone. I’m glad I did it though, because the last line he says after she hangs up is priceless. We were completely out of control, and somehow acting reasonable because of it.

After about an hour of mayhem, our downstairs neighbor came up to check on us, worried that someone had broken into our place and was breaking our legs with baseball bats. We let him know that no, we were fine, and yes, we could see why the noise of us smashing everything with hammers could be disconcerting at 3:30 AM. Since we no longer could use our preferred instrument of destruction, we moved on to fireworks. Those worked pretty well for the moment, but once we were out, we were out, and by that I mean I have no idea what happened until I woke up the next morning.

Now, at that period in time, waking up with no memory of the night before was uncomfortably common enough to be kind of comfortable due to it’s constancy. I didn’t think anything of it, except that there did seem to be an unexpected amount of glass in bed with me. I looked up from where I was laying and stared into the kitchen.

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Ah…

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Yes…

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Fuck.

Fuck indeed. The floor was glittering with glass like the rejects from a tinsel factory. Thankfully I was still wearing my shoes, so gingerly I got up, stepped over my sweater that now had giant holes burned through it from an errant fireball, and took a look around the kitchen. The burn marks on the walls looked fairly manageable, and I figured, hey, fuck those dishes anyway, we can replace them. The fridge was pretty fucked up, but I mean, of course it was. Oh and hey, there’s still a little whiskey left! Better get to this before Mike gets up. Fuck it.

After I realized I’d videotaped the whole thing for god knows what reason, I cut up a few choice moments and threw them up on Youtube. All of our friends thought we did this shit all of the time, and really wanted to come by some night and help us smash all of our things. We thought about trying to charge people for the experience but decided that anyone who would actually be willing to pay wasn’t the type of person we wanted in our house. Instead we simply enjoyed not having to wash dishes. (This of course refers mostly to me; Mike Brown never washed dishes). Either way, Mike’s wounds healed and we didn’t get evicted out of our apartment, and Christmas otherwise passed without incident. Like Morrissey says, things could always be worse, right?

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Here’s the first video of Mike Brown and I having a surprisingly rational conversation as we smash everything in our kitchen to oblivion. Enjoy!

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