Monthly Archives: June 2012

Leaving New York

It’s weird, I feel like I’m always packing and unpacking, trying to find a place to sleep and gearing up to leave. Living on the road. It’s not the hardest thing I’ve ever done, which as you might imagine is dealing with heartbreak, but rambling from place to place is not for the feint of spirit. Falling off a cliff and recovering is remarkably easy in comparison. That just involves sitting there and having your mom spoon-feed you. Moving from city to city taxes the soul, and I don’t know how much gas is left in the tank.

Everyone knows that I need a home more than anything. It’s hard to explain why it’s been so difficult for me to find. I can’t explain it myself. Maybe I’m scared about something, about permanence, or maybe it’s something deeply rooted in the way I handle things. I know what spurred the wanderlust, but I have no idea why it’s still going on. The last three years have been exhausting. Everything hurts, and I feel I’m no closer to understanding anything than I was before I left in a surreal rush for sandy beaches in the spring of 2009. My friends who have spent the time building towards something are doing fantastic, whereas I have used the years to tear myself apart. I guess the real question is: can I put myself back together?

Time will tell I suppose. Hopefully soon I’ll be returning home, wherever that is. In the meanwhile, goodbye New York, I leave with reservations but I’m not sure why. Goodbye my overworked friends, the bustling streets, the struggle, those who would sooner hand a beggar a cinderblock than a pittance, the schemers, thundering underground trains, and one or two of my favorite people I’ve ever met. As for the latter, I’ll carry you with me.

“You know my love goes with you as your love stays with me, it’s just the way it changes like the shoreline and the sea, but let’s not talk about love or chains, things we can’t untie, your eyes are soft with sorrow—hey that’s no way to say goodbye.”

why i like bees but probably shouldn’t

Photo by Mike fucking Brown

Bees are fascinating little creatures. I mean, bumblebees supposedly shouldn’t be able to fly according to physics (something about their body being too big for their little wings to generate enough lift or something), honeybees make honey, and both are super awesome pollinators. Currently they’re dying out for unexpected reasons, partially due to mites, though it also has something to do with the frequency they use to navigate, which turns out to be the same frequency telecommunication companies use to connect cell phones. It’s causing bees to fly around and get lost, which is super impacting the plants that depend on the insects to pollinate their flowers (goes to show, never leave sex up to a third party). The bee problem could be fixed if the companies tried to change the frequency cell phones operate at, but that’s too damn expensive for the industry to justify, so we’re probably just gonna have to deal with less and less of the little buggers.

Unlike wasps and yellow jackets (two of the shittiest bugs out there), bees only sting when they’re threatened. Their stingers are barbed, and once removed they end up dying, making each sting a fatal kamikaze mission. In general, bees are very docile, though I guess those killer bees that I heard all about in grade school might be a tad more disagreeable.

Either way, I like bees. The only thing I don’t like is how crazy allergic I am to them. For instance, take a look at this photo. We were on tour in California and as per usual I was dead set on going to the beach. Begrudgingly, my bandmates and our two roadies decided to placate me by stopping by a sandy stretch of coastline in Goletta. I took off my shoes, started walking towards the water, and instantly stepped directly onto a bee. The bee, which I’m sure was less than thrilled about the arrangement, fought back by stinging the bottom of my foot. I started howling and hopping around like a crazy person, bitching about my luck and feeling the burn of the toxins making their way through my cardiovascular system. Typical.

Instead of doing something about it, I put my shoes back on and hobbled around, playing guitar on some rocks and drinking a couple of beers by the van. After an hour or so, I took my shoe off and realized that it had swelled to more than double its normal size. Not sure what to do, we drove to a friend’s house where they gave me ibuprofen, as if that was going to help or something. I was fucking miserable but we still had to get to L.A. that night, so my friends Brian and Rory helped me walk back to the van. My shorts were a little too big and started to slip down, a problem I made sure to point out to my friends, but they said it didn’t matter, we were close, let’s just get there and deal with it then. Mike Brown, who I’m pretty sure was on tour just to make sure to capture every moment anyone looked like an idiot for future shit-talking, snapped the photo, which since then is always assumed to be evidence of me being wasted out of my mind.

The ride South was filed with pain, and I had no idea what to do by the time we got to Orange County. I couldn’t walk but still had to play shows, which forced me to have to hobble uncomfortably around on stage in an Actifed-induced and alcohol-subsidized daze. Following the advice of a local pharmacist, I tried covering my foot in Irish Spring gel deodorant, but that didn’t seem to do much more than make my foot slimy and gross. Why Irish Spring? What was the deodorant supposed to do? How did that pharmacist even get to pharmaceutical school? What the fuck was that all about?

Long story short, I couldn’t walk for the remainder of tour, but I did still manage to rock n roll, even at that out of control eviction party Nick Gehrls “hosted.” It all worked itself out and I still like bees. But fuck bee stings, Irish Spring, telecommunication companies and Mike Brown.

“Mansion” by The Mallard–Directed by Hannah Lew

I’ve really been into this video lately. I dig the song, the video’s rad, and the attitude behind it all just screams Oakland for whatever reason. Hannah Lew, who also directed the “Sleep Talk” video for Shannon and the Clams, must be a super cool girl to hang out with. I’m jealous of anyone who does.

Check her out at hannahlew.com

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On Class War

Class war can be a tricky subject. It is by no means a simple topic to discuss, even if examples of it can be found nearly everywhere. It’s a divisive concept in mainstream society, and one that isn’t necessarily as clear-cut as some on both sides would paint it. Even the meaning of the term itself can lead to philosophical arguments—what is the definition of war in this case? Should the word itself be considered an adequate?

I leave such philosophical debate up to those who feel burdened by the question. Indeed, even if we are to accept the term class war at face value, the topic itself is so large and convoluted that it cannot properly be tackled in a paper as short as the one you’re currently reading. There are a number of critical points that could be independently developed into a series of doctoral dissertations, and anyone intent on looking for holes might find themselves staring at them all day. For those who are looking for a more exhaustive treatment of global class strife, I highly recommend reading William Robinson’s “The Transnational Capitalist Class.” Likewise, I suggest a thorough review of E.K. Hunt’s “History of Economic Thought”, Thorstein Veblen’s “The Theory of the Leisure Class” and Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22.” I have found all three books to be indispensible for properly understanding class structure and its implications.

While the term “class war” is arguable, there are certain facts that cannot be philosophized away. For instance, there are significant differences between how the richest .01 percent of society lives compared to the vast majority of the world. Giant corporations have definitely spread across the world and exerted pressure on local and national governments everywhere they operate business. There is little rational argument that the planet appears to be heating up, though the cause of this is still debated by groups who tend to be apologetic for those who make money off of lax environmental regulations. Examples of class strife can be found worldwide, from Egypt, France, China, the United States, Brazil, Nigeria, to Cuba. For lack of a more general description, something is happening.

Whereas most people tend to have feelings towards economics in one way or another, actually understanding such a seemingly simple but realistically complicated subject is far from easy. Yet that does not mean we are not capable of breaking things down in a straight forward

and easy to ingest manner. I’m not suggesting it needs to be “dumbed down” for the average person—I just think social arrangements, including class war, can be effectively described through approaches such as humor. For example:

A capitalist, a tea party member, and a union worker all sit down at a table. On the table are 12 cookies. The capitalist picks up 11 of the cookies and shoves them in his pocket. The capitalist then turns to the tea party member and says, “Keep an eye on that guy,” pointing his finger at the union worker. “He’s gonna steal your cookie.”

If only jokes didn’t have their root in reality! Nowadays when people bring up class war in the United States, it’s often dismissed as some radical rhetoric spewed by anarchists, or even worse, godless communists. They’re painted as being more interested in tearing down the status quo than rebuilding a healthy economy, and full of notions not to be taken seriously. Concepts like the redistribution of wealth and social welfare programs are treated like utopian dreams conjured up by idealists, and class warfare is shrugged off as a divisive term used by a jealous (and highly impractical) fringe.

But, as the wealthy investor Warren Buffett noted, “There’s class warfare all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

It’s important that we recognize what is happening around us, because if we don’t, we’re all gonna get steamrolled. I say we talk about it in a straightforward manner. If we want to change the way the world is operating, the first thing we need to do is realize what we want to change. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, for I’m always one for open dialogue. Viva la revolution! Now off to the bar…

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The Great Salt Lake

I’m probably going to write about the Great Salt Lake waaaaaaaay more often than anybody would want me to. For various reasons, I’ve written a great deal about it, and even though I’m planning on using a lot of my research for a chapter of some book I’m writing, I’ll occasionally post some stuff up to remind people that the Great Salt Lake is rad. If you’re in the area, I seriously suggest you head over to Antelope Island, the Spiral Jetty and the Salt Flats. It’s worth your time for sure.

On Scott Walker


Fuck Scott Walker.

And then I grew up…

Old man Abouzelof enters the realm of cyber-reality.

This website is the most comprehensive source for online information regarding the inner workings of M.H. Abouzelof, a.k.a. Mike Abu, a.k.a. that guy in the corner with the disheveled clothes and fuck-all attitude. I present to you another side of life. Since I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, this will be a site constantly evolving, so bare with me as I figure it out. I think this could be fun though, and certainly will provide an insight into whatever it is I’m thinking and doing. Consider it a private view into all things me. I hope to tackle every single topic that comes to my attention, with interviews of random people I find fascinating, photos of cool things and places, and videos of me smashing shit. I’ll try to update this thing daily, so check back whenever you want to find out what’s up.

In particular, this is where I’ll keep a log of what happens in Cuba the next few weeks. If I stop posting, know that I went out like I came in–kicking and screaming. Otherwise, let’s go on an adventure together. I guarantee things are gonna get a little crazy from time to time, but when the going gets weird, the weird go pro. Let’s see what happens…