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‘Alien: Covenant’ and the Nature of Horror – Film School Rejects

Posted: June 1, 2017 at 10:28 pm

A look at where Covenant is similar to the original Alien, and where it differs.

Much has changed in the 38 years since Ridley Scotts Alien was first released or, more precisely, unleashed. The claustrophobia and primality of that first film have given way, in Alien: Covenant, to expansive planets, lost civilizations, and ponderous mythologies. This is not to say that the franchise has been drained of all its thrills; Covenants pallid neomorphs would give even Ellen Ripley a real shiver. But the prevailing impression left by Scotts latest installment is less of horror than of existential gloom. The threats it conveys feel at once larger and more diffuse than any one creature.

To get to the bottom of what makes Covenant so different from the original Alien, it may be useful to define the genre that the latter so thoroughly exemplifies. Horror, the philosopher Nol Carroll explains, is a compound of at least two other emotions: fear and disgust. These emotions are often evoked, in horror films and literature, by the presence of a monster and what a monster the xenomorph is. Rapacious and vile, its an amalgam of all the qualities natural selection made most salient and repulsive to human beings. This is, of course, true of all monsters: they are more real than real, more predatory than any natural predator. But they are not threatening in the way that a nuclear bomb is threatening. Rather, they are designed and here we can use the word design unselfconsciously to push our evolutionary buttons, to shake us all the way to the bottom of the brain stem.

The original Alien is, in some ways, explicitly Darwinian: it is about one species struggling to survive the predation of another more well-adapted one. The xenomorphs acidic blood and retractable jaw are not meant to be supernatural powers but survival adaptations. As Ash puts it to Ripley, its a survivor, unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. As viewers, we respond to the xenomorph on a primal level. Few of us have ever encountered slimy beasts intent on eating us, but we nevertheless bear deeply programmed instincts about malice and contagion that horror films powerfully exploit. In his book, The Anatomy of Disgust, the writer William Ian Miller provides a precise summary of the type of circumstance for which the emotion of horror evolved. It would be difficult to conceive of a better description of the Xenomorph:

Because the threatening thing is disgusting, one does not want to strike it, touch it, or grapple with it. Because it is frequently something that has already gotten inside of you or takes you over and possesses you, there is often no distinct other to fight anyway. Thus the nightmarish quality of no way out, no exit, no way to save oneself except by destroying oneself in the process. Horrifying things stick, like glue, like slime. Horror is horror because it is perceived as denying all strategy, all option. It seems that horror is a subset of disgust, being specifically that disgust for which no distancing or evasive strategies exist that are not in themselves utterly contaminating. Not all disgust evokes horror; there are routine petty loathings and gorge raisings which do not horrify. Disgust admits of ranges of intensity from relatively mild to major. But horror makes no sense except as an intense experience. Mild horror is no longer horror.

How does this description map onto Alien: Covenant? To be sure, the film has its share of creepy contagions working their way into various orifices. Its in these moments that the movie feels most fun, most like an Alien film. But the emotional timbre changes when the crew meets David, and when he is gradually revealed to be the films primary villain. The cat and mouse game between alien and human turns into something far weightier, if somewhat less affecting. Of course, Scott had already dispensed with Darwinian trappings when, in Prometheus, he revealed that the Alien universe is characterized by design, not natural selection. Ripleys rugged survivalism was replaced with Elizabeth Shaws blind faith. By the time we get to Covenant, Shaws faith in God has in turn been replaced by Davids singular belief in creation.

As I recently wrote in my piece on AI and human nature, reflecting artificial intelligence on screen presents a problem for our emotional machinery. Unlike the xenomorph, whose every feature evokes an ingrained fear response, AI poses a threat that our genes have not prepared us to encounter. Where the xenomorph is hostile, AI is merely indifferent; where the xenomorph is slimy, AI is fastidiously clean. Covenant exploits this fact: the humans in the film are lulled into complacency by Davids unthreatening appearance and do not realize the threat he poses until it is too late. But as his plan begins to unfurl, the emotions we feel as an audience are not the primitive fear and disgust that constitute horror.

A further distinction is useful here: Carroll draws a line between art-horror, of which monster films are a subset, and natural horror, which might describe the Holocaust or some other real-life atrocity. This distinction gets to the heart of the paradox of horror itself; namely, why do we pay to experience an emotion that in many ways seem negative? Art-horror, built as it is on the excitation of certain emotions, can be pleasant in much the same way that a rollercoaster is pleasant. It provides the thrill and novelty of danger without its actual consequences. Natural horror, by contrast, is all consequences. It is the sort of event for which the phrase the banality of evil was coined.

It is precisely this mechanistic, banal sort of horror that David evokes in Covenant. This wasnt always the case: in Prometheus, Davids stiltedness made him an embodiment of the uncanny, which evokes a type of art-horror rooted in eerie curiosity. When, at the end of that film, he is reduced to a severed head (like Ash in Alien), he becomes a reminder of the frailty and vulnerability of the human body. This, too, can be called uncanny, and thereby an extension of art-horror. But in Covenant, David has transcended these limitations; he is, as Walter tells him, too human. Thus, his evil stops feeling like that of a monsterand begins to feel merely monstrous.

None of this amounts to a critique of Alien: Covenant; on the contrary, the film illuminates the boundaries of horror in a way that Alien, in its lean efficiency, could not. But in clarifying these boundaries, Covenant also shows us the many ways in which our emotional equipment leaves us ill-prepared for the challenges of the 21st Century. Violence allures and excites us until it doesnt. We are easily animated against individual villains but find it difficult to counter impersonal systems. And if, as some have argued, our unconcern about AI and global warming constitutes a failure of intuition, perhaps horror is a poor guide for what to be afraid of.

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‘Alien: Covenant’ and the Nature of Horror – Film School Rejects

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Via ‘The Florida Project,’ meet two of the youngest stars in Cannes Film Festival history – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 10:28 pm

Last week, two of the breakout stars of the Cannes Film Festival were looking to take a breather after a grueling session of interviews, press roundtables and photo shoots. They decided to mark the moment with a toast.

“To a great drink,” said Brooklynn Prince, who is 7.

“To a great trip,” said Valeria Cotto, who is 6. The two clinked glasses, filled with Italian sodas of various fruity provenance, as the Mediterranean lapped at the beachside restaurant behind them.

The festival, which ended Sunday, often revels in and renews existing stars. Nicole Kidman, with four works in the official selection, became an adored fixture this year. But the gathering also has the ability to mint young personalities.

Even, in the case of the Florida natives Brooklynn and Valeria, really young personalities.

The girls are the stars of “The Florida Project,” the new film from Sean Baker, writer-director of the indie sensation “Tangerine. Florida centers on the so-called hidden homeless members of the underclass who live in motels and other makeshift spaces. Its set in a part of America rarely seen on screen: Baker cast from and shot in Orlando, in the counterpoising shadow of Walt Disney World. Though thousands of miles away, in distance and sensibility, from the Wonder Woman enthusiasm going on back home, the girls were nonetheless very much of the same shatter-the-ceiling mind-set.

Brooklynn plays the outgoing and at times obnoxious Moonee, who with her mother (Bria Vinaite) and best friend (Valerias Jancey) finds joy amid the bleak survivalism of the Magic Castle Motel and Futureland Inn they respectively call home. Moonee, Jancey and a third friend, Christopher, are often getting into trouble with pranks that can border on the delinquent. But they do it with winning mischief, thus remaining endearing throughout.

In its willingness to see the world radically from young peoples point of view, The Florida Project takes its cues from movies as varied as E.T. and Kids, and exists spiritually somewhere in between. Unlike the children in more burnished Hollywood enterprises, they act like, well, kids. The girls form alliances, act out with exuberance (and, sometimes, petulance), and follow their curiosity into trouble. They remain joyfully oblivious to the hardships of the adult world around them while occasionally just occasionally signaling a bracing awareness. Interested in character moments and episodes more than narrative arcs, the film wowed critics with its lived-in naturalism.

Driving that naturalism are the two young leads. As they fielded a barrage of questions from a table of a dozen reporters, Brooklynn and Valeria showed uncommon poise.

What do your parents do? a European reporter at a roundtable asked them.

In the movie or in real life? Valeria asked.

Real life.

My mom sells tickets for events and my dads job is, hes in a position, where he makes furniture, Valeria said, before clarifying it was upholstery.

My dads a scientist and my mom’s an acting coach, Brooklynn said with practiced aplomb.

You never told us your age, a reporter said to Valeria.

You never asked, she replied, reasonably.

The tendency with actors this young is to assume they are merely playing themselves. But the characters and many moments in the film are carefully scripted, and the girls are legitimately acting.

Theyre doing what adult actors do, which is listening closely, Baker said in an interview. Even in improvisation, theyre receiving lines, and digesting them and spitting them out as character. Both girls easily memorized the script, a point that will resonate for any parent whos ever had a 6-year-old try to prepare for a spelling test.

Their polish came in part from on-set guidance, both from Baker and his partner, actress Samantha Quan, who worked with the children for a month before shooting, using a variety of kid-specific workshopping techniques. Quan would do things like bring the girls into a room and have them describe objects as though they were giving a museum tour, all with an eye toward preparing them to react spontaneously to their surroundings during shooting.

Finding the young actors wasnt easy. Baker was ready to scrap the whole project for lack of a lead until Brooklynn came along, via a local casting agency. He was immediately taken with her confidence and her loose-limbed intelligence. Valeria was found in a less likely place: Target. Baker was doing a walk-through in the hope of locating a non-pro; when he spotted Valeria, he approached her mother and asked if shed like to bring her daughter in for an audition.

Despite their closeness, the two girls are very different. Brooklynn is a natural extrovert, taking the hand of adults she just met, dropping in a French phrase she knows will impress, and describing her favorite Cannes activity as going for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea.

Valeria has a more studied and if this can be said of a 6-year-old darker personality, with a preternatural wisdom; several journalists who talked to her thought she was at least several years older.

Shes a quirky kid, said her mother, Ivelisse Rijos, as her kindergartner daughter name-checked books she liked, including the Junie B. Jones series, the standard-bearer for go-your-own-way childhood thinking.

Since making the movie a year ago, the girls have bonded and now regularly make the 40-minute trip across the Orlando suburbs for play dates.

At Cannes, they sat at a restaurant between photo shoots, hugging each other and talking about matters of the day.

I like Daisy Ridley and Britney Spears, and Cara Devello, or whatever her name is, Brooklynn said, as she gave her costar a big squeeze.

Britney Spears isnt an actress, Valeria coolly replied.

Thats true but I still like her. And Elle Fanning, of course, Brooklynn said.

A handler told her Fanning had several movies at the festival.

Shes here? Brooklyn said, her eyes widening. We need to leave right now and find her. No, really, lets find her.

Rijos wasnt looking for a role for her daughter when Baker approached her in the Target; she in fact thought it was weird when the director handed her a card emblazoned with two chihuahuas, the logo of his production company. She was about to disregard it when an Internet search showed her it was the real deal.

Brooklynns parents were skeptical too, for a different reason: Theyre people of faith and thought some of the profanities Moonee had to utter in the film werent in keeping with their values.

There was some choice words and tumultuous language, and we were going to turn it down for that reason, father Justin Prince said. It was Brooklynn who convinced us she should do it. The elder Prince, who works as an environmental scientist, grew up in a world not unlike that of the movie, living for a time in a trailer in a backyard behind his grandfathers trailer in Ohio.

“I think she was happy to say some of those words because she doesn’t get to say them at home, said a laughing Vinaite, herself a non-actor who Baker found on Instagram, to a reporter.

Also of the grown-up world: a Cannes premiere. Nearly a thousand people the night before had watched in the hallowed theater of the Directors Fortnight section, where both girls had tears in their eyes as they acknowledged the crowd.

I did cry last night, potentially, Brooklynn admitted.

I cried because there are some sad scenes and it brought back lots of memories of me and my friends, Valeria added. At the after-party, both girls had taken over the dance floor, well past the fashionable Cannes hour of midnight. Dance like nobodys watching, Valeria said and shrugged the following day.

Someone on a roundtable asked Vinaite what it was like to have such an important role in a movie as a first-timer.

I was definitely nerve-wracked because Id never acted, Vinaite said.

You were very good, Valeria reassured her.

Though the word precocious comes to mind when talking to the girls, Baker was intent in the film on avoiding the trap of the old-soul young person. Indeed, much of The Florida Project feels a lot like peeking in on everyday children who think no adults are watching impressive, given that on a set many dozens were.

Weve always had a very strong reaction to the kids you usually see in Hollywood films, Baker said. It always feels fake; it always feels stilted. We wanted to do the opposite of that.

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour

That goal becomes more difficult circa 2017. As kids have cameras on them more than at any point in human history never mind dreams of stardom drilled into their minds a naturalistic portrayal becomes that much more difficult. Young people have more tools to star in a movie than ever before, but fewer ways to seem like real kids when they do.

A lot of people asked us how we got Brooklynn to reach certain places, Baker said of critical dramatic points in the film. But most of the time she would just do it herself. Before [a big crying scene], someone on the crew came over to her and started talking. And Brooklynn says, I have to focus right now because Im about to cry.

Brooklynn is probably the youngest Method actor youve ever met, Quan added, laughing.

As the girls sipped on their Italian sodas at Cannes, they began debating not the craft but a more important subject: their favorite movies.

Star Wars, Harry Potter all the Harry Potters, obviously, Brooklynn said. She ticked off some genre fare her family saw during a Halloween movie marathon.

I watch the Disney Channel, Valeria said.

A24 bought Florida at Cannes and is weighing when to release it. Brooklynn could well garner awards buzz if the Moonlight studio decides to put it out during the competitive heat of the fall. If she were to be recognized by Oscar voters, she would shatter by several years the record for youngest lead actress nominee, currently held by Quvenzhan Wallis, who was nearly 9 when she was shortlisted for her turn in Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2013.

Though Justin Prince said he was both intrigued and daunted by Oscar hullabaloo, his daughter was none the wiser.

In between interviews, the young girl walked up to a chalkboard at the restaurant that held the messages from film luminaries and put her own stamp on it. Bonjour. I love Cannes. I am in France, she wrote in a mixture of green and white lettering.

Brooklynn had put her entry right under one from the French director Claire Denis, another female trailblazer at the festival.

When the juxtaposition was pointed out, Brooklynn gave a curious look. “That’s cool,” the 7-year-old said, and maybe what was most cool was that she didn’t realize how cool it was.

steve.zeitchik@latimes.com

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

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Via ‘The Florida Project,’ meet two of the youngest stars in Cannes Film Festival history – Los Angeles Times

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Alien 3 is far from the worst Alien movie. In fact, it’s pretty great. – Vox – Vox

Posted: May 23, 2017 at 10:39 pm

The new Alien: Covenant marks the sixth film in the main Alien franchise since it started in 1979, making it one of Hollywood’s longest-running series. And there’s no sign of it going away: Director Ridley Scott said in March that there may be as many as six more in the works.

The franchise has had its ups and downs over the years remember Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem? but it has been sustained in large part based on the enduring popularity of the first two films in the series: Alien and Aliens.

The films were made seven years apart by two very different directors, and there isnt much continuity between them, aside from the protagonist, Sigourney Weavers Ellen Ripley, and the H.R. Giger-designed aliens themselves. The first was a claustrophobic monster movie in space made by a young director named Ridley Scott, the second a Vietnam-inspired action film by James Cameron.

But both films succeeded on the strength of their memorable imagery, rich world building, and strong performances. And both films helped launch the careers of young directors who would go on to be two of Hollywoods most successful filmmakers. They are classics of science fiction filmmaking critically acclaimed and beloved by fans and their reputation has helped the franchise endure for nearly 40 years.

Other Alien follow-ups havent fared quite as well. Alien 3, in particular, is widely thought of as a turning point in the series not a franchise killer but a disappointment considering what came before. The third installment, which went through a troubled production, was generally panned on its 1992 release, and in the years since, it has been all but disowned by its director, David Fincher.

Alien 3 may not have quite the mass appeal or enduring legacy of its predecessors, but its low reputation simply isnt deserved. Its a worthy addition to the franchise as strong a science fiction picture, in its own way, as the first two films in its series and another showcase for the visionary talents of a young director who would go on to be one of the most powerful filmmakers in Hollywood.

Like Aliens, Alien 3 took a long time to gestate. Although the previous film had been a huge success, director James Cameron had moved on to other projects, and the writer-producer duo David Giler and Walter Hill, who had been with the series from the beginning, were wary of making another installment. Still, the studio wanted a sequel, so work eventually began on developing a story and a setting. But the project was troubled from the outset even before Fincher came on board.

According to Wreckage and Rage: The Making of Alien 3, a 2003 documentary that catalogs the films production issues in exhaustive detail, the producers struggled to find a director to oversee the production.

Renny Harlin, the Finnish director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and Die Hard 2, was initially brought on with the intention of making a movie in which Ripley traveled to the alien home world. This was dismissed as too expensive, and Harlin eventually left the project.

The development process went much further until writer Vincent Ward proposed a movie about a monk-like society on a planet-size wooden ship floating in space. Ward wrote a series of scripts, hired illustrators to design his wooden world, and even began building some of the sets. But creative tensions mounted between the films producers and Ward, who could never quite offer an explanation for his space-bound wooden world. He exited the project, and Fincher came on board.

At the time, Fincher was in his late 20s, and although he was well known for his music video work, he had never directed a feature film. His on-set perfectionism grated on the producers, who felt he was wasting too much time and money getting small details right. The relationship between the young director and his studio minders was tense at best.

Ill never forget Daves complete devotion to the color of blood, producer Ezra Swerdlow says in Wreckage and Rage. Set footage shows Fincher musing about shooting a thousand takes of an exploding head, and insisting to an obviously skeptical Swerdlow that he would only shoot under certain sky and weather conditions. Swerdlow describes Fincher as openly contemptuous of studio oversight, and says the studio responded by trying to break him.

The conflicts between Fincher and the studio were exacerbated by a rushed schedule. Wards wooden-monastery planet idea was scrapped in favor of a prison-planet concept, but the script wasnt complete. Meanwhile, construction of the films huge sets had already begun. And the movies updated alien design hadnt been finalized, which meant that the creature builders were trying to catch up too.

We went through this production continually reworking the script, producer John Landau says in the documentary. The movie got greenlit based on a whole different version of the script. And David had to deal with that in a very short period of time. He had to design the alien, design the sets, and he had to write the script, all the way into the depths of production.

Once shooting stopped, the fights only continued. Finchers initial cut came in at nearly three hours long, and the studio pressed relentlessly for a version a half-hour shorter than what he preferred. Fincher was a novice director with little power, and eventually the studio won out.

Reviews were generally unkind to the film that eventually made it to theaters, calling it stylish but shallow. Variety described Alien 3 as a muddled effort that offers little more than visual splendor to recommend it, while the New York Times complained that the film was too dark and too implausible. The third installment in the franchise is nothing to scream about, wrote a critic for the Washington Post.

More than a decade later, it was clear that feelings remained raw: Fincher is the only major player who does not appear in Wreckage and Rage, and the studio initially demanded that the documentary makers cut 20 minutes from the film detailing conflicts with the director. When the studio wanted to assemble a directors cut of Alien 3 for a home-video release, Fincher refused to participate. Instead, an extended cut of the film was created based on his editing room notes a kind of directors cut without the director.

The Assembly Cut, as it is known, restores much of what was lost in the studios shortened version of the movie, and solves some of the specific problems cited by critics.

Among other things, it expands the world of the prison planet Fiorina 161 by reinserting a series of exteriors intended to appear at the beginning of the film, showing the residents using oxen to pull wreckage through a bleak industrial landscape. These shots help establish what life is like on the planet, set the tone for the film to come, and address complaints that the world of the film doesnt feel all that large.

The Assembly Cut also dramatically expands the roles of several of the prisoner characters, particularly Golic, a stuttering murderer played by Paul McGann whose part was all but eliminated from the studio version of the film. On release, some critics complained that the cast, all of whom were shaved bald, was poorly defined. The extended cuts extra character moments go a long way toward distinguishing the movies supporting players.

But mostly the Assembly Cut serves to validate the strength of Finchers vision a vision that shines through even in the studio cut. Alien 3 is, more than anything else, a dark and dour mood piece about the ugly depths of the human condition. The Assembly Cut basks in that mood a little longer, and adds more detail around the margins, but theres no missing it in the theatrical release version of the film either. In some sense, critics who praised the look but panned the movie missed the point: In a David Fincher film, the mood is the movie.

And Alien 3 is very much a David Fincher film, as distinctly the product of his dark and twisted imagination as Seven or Zodiac or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Just as the icy survivalism of Alien helped set the tone for Ridley Scotts career, and the guns-blazing ferocity of Aliens helped pave the way for James Camerons later work, Alien 3 works as a setup for the rest of David Finchers films.

Its nihilistic and misanthropic, bleak and despairing, slickly shot and bathed in ragged industrial gloom. Its a big-budget movie about human frailty and the inevitability of death in which the characters are never particularly likable or heroic and the protagonist dies at the end. As in Seven, the ending is a shock downer. As in Fight Club, the character relationships are built from a series of existential dialogues. As in Panic Room, the story is driven by the need to use ones surroundings to survive what is essentially a home invasion. The alien of Alien 3 is, in a way, Finchers first serial killer.

Finchers perfectionism on the set of Alien 3 would become the norm for the director: Reports indicated that while making Gone Girl, he averaged more than 50 takes per scene. His fascination with violence and gore that is both artful and shocking would appear later in Seven and Zodiac. In all of these films, Finchers obsession with the look of blood comes across clearly onscreen.

Visually, Alien 3 may be the most distinctive entry in the franchise. Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth, whose work on Blade Runner defined a certain decaying urban sci-fi aesthetic, had to quit after a short time on the job. But the final work by British photographer Alex Thomson is stunning in its own way. Backgrounds are textured with steam columns, damp surfaces, and sharp beams of light that give the sets a textured physicality. For much of the film, the camera lingers close to the floor, pointed up, as if to emphasize the close confines of the prison space and the impossibility of escape.

Beyond the visuals, Alien 3 also excels as an exercise in imaginative world building. Its lonely prison planet is as richly detailed and lived-in an environment as the industrial corridors of Alien or the abandoned mining colony of Aliens. Its sequestered society, in which a religious contingent effectively runs the prison while a small group of overseers struggles to maintain a facade of control, is as nuanced a cinematic sociology as the corporate power structures that drove the first film, or the military conventions that powered the second. Like its predecessors, Alien 3 is an exploration of human power dynamics in a confined setting and the limits of institutional control.

Fincher, in other words, put his own particular stamp on the tropes that animate the Alien franchise: He took the ideas that Scott and Cameron had developed and remade them in his own image. His ideas may be too bleak, too gloomy, too misanthropic for some, but they are clearly his, and in Alien 3 they are presented as forcefully as ever.

Finchers frustrating experience on the film, and his perfectionism, may not allow him to see it, but its a fine David Fincher film. Just as Alien and Aliens were unmistakably products of their directors ideas and aesthetics, Alien 3 is a product of Finchers unique vision. And that, in the end, is what makes it a great Alien film as well.

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Alien 3 is far from the worst Alien movie. In fact, it’s pretty great. – Vox – Vox

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These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike … – Grand Forks Herald

Posted: May 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm

There’ll be a shower with an on-demand water heater, a microwave oven, stove, composting toilet, satellite dish and power provided by solar panels. It’s being built on a trailer, so it can be towed anywhere.

Korbel’s self-sufficient micro-cottage isn’t being built out of a Thoreau-esque desire to simplify, simplify, or to achieve a chic Dwell magazine minimalist aesthetic.

He’s building it for the end of the world.

When all hell breaks loose war, natural disaster, a breakdown in civil society Korbel will hitch his house on wheels to a 1972 Ford F100 pickup. (That’s before the advent of computerized car systems, which Korbel says will be fried by the electromagnetic pulse created by a nuclear blast.)

He’ll haul the structure and his family to a patch of land he has north of Hinckley, Minn., stopping to get supplies he’s cached along the way in PVC tubes buried underground. He’s prepared, he believes, to ride out anything that man or nature might throw at him.

Korbel, 53, is a prepper, of course, that breed of person who stockpiles food, toilet paper and ammunition to last not days, but months just in case.

Preppers see themselves as prudent, sensible ants in a world of feckless grasshoppers, even while they recognize that others consider them paranoid conspiracy theorists and doomsday prophets.

“My wife gave me the nickname Mad Max,” Korbel said. “My brother, he thinks it’s nuts. He’s lazy. I already know he’s going to be knocking on my door.”

Predictions that the end is near are as old as Noah. More modern manifestations have included people who felt the need to build home fallout shelters during the Cold War and pessimists who feared the worst from a Y2K collapse. Events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have continued to fuel fears.

The latest bad news: This year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to reset its famous Doomsday Clock _ “a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe ” from three minutes to only 2 minutes before midnight.

The scientific worrywarts cited tensions between the U.S. and Russia, North Korean nuclear tests, climate change, a rise in “strident nationalism” and “intemperate statements” from President Donald Trump and even “lethal autonomous weapons systems” yeah, killer robots among the looming existential threats to humanity.

According to the Bulletin scientists, in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the last time things have been this bad for the planet was 1953, just after the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed the first hydrogen bombs. At that time, the scientists deemed we were only two minutes to apocalypse.

Selling peace of mind

No wonder Costco is selling $3,399.99 packages of freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency foods that promise 31,500 total servings, enough to feed four people for a year, with a shelf life of up to 25 years. The food shipment arrives on a pallet that is “black-wrapped for security and privacy.”

Or you could buy end-of-the-world supplies from a specialty retailer such as Safecastle.com.

Safecastle was started by Prior Lake resident Vic Rantala after 9/11 because he saw a niche for an online source of affordable, quality, long-term stored food.

The company has since branched out to sell surveillance robots, radiation detectors, folding “bug-out” bicycles intended for paratroopers and a 35-piece pet survival kit designed for a “CATastrophe.”

“We sell stuff nobody else sells,” Rantala said.

You can even buy an underground fallout shelter that costs more than $100,000.

“We early on developed a relationship with a steel plate shelter builder in Louisiana,” Rantala said. “Our builder has done seven-figure bunkers for people.”

He said his best-seller is something homier: canned, cooked bacon with a shelf life of more than 10 years.

Rantala, 59, said his background has included service in the Army, intelligence work for the government and communications and consulting for corporations. But selling prepping gear has become “kind of like a life’s mission.”

The shelters he’s sold have saved lives in tornadoes, he said. Some of the food he’s sold to preppers ended up being eaten when the disaster turned out to be a job loss.

“We sell peace of mind to people,” Rantala said.

Even though he sold the company a couple of years ago, he continues to work for it. He said sales are close to $50 million a year.

He estimates that as many as “10 percent of the population are into prepping these days,” although he admits figures can be fuzzy because preppers are notoriously secretive about their preparations.

“Sometimes you don’t even tell your family members,” he said. “It can be a little bit of an obsession, I have to admit.”

Nuts or narrative

“It’s good to have something stored away,” said Peter Behrens, a psychologist who recently retired as a professor at Penn State University in Lehigh Valley, Pa. “Some 72 hours’ worth of food is great.”

But he said prepping can turn into a “non-substance pathology,” similar to hoarding and excessive gambling, when taken to the extreme.

“A lot of people get into this as a pastime,” he said. But he said, “It’s a slippery slope to becoming irrational and aggressive.”

Behrens said prepping is cause for concern if a person starts hoarding firearms and ammunition and if more than 10 percent of a person’s income is devoted to prepping. And he warns that prepping can be similar to being in a cult if a person gives up long-standing relationships with friends and family members to associate only with other preppers.

“This is a situation that revolves around anxiety,” he said. “It doesn’t match with rational behavior.”

But Richard G. Mitchell, who studied survivalists as a sociology professor at Oregon State University, said preppers are people who may just want to resist a humdrum life of comfort and consumption. They want to create a personal narrative of themselves as the rugged individual who’s going to survive disaster.

“They want a place where they feel meaningful,” he said. “Survivalism is a storytelling process. There’s a certain satisfaction to that.”

He added, “These are people who are hobbyists. They’re amused by the process. They’re entertained by it. They’re proud of it. They’re nuts in the sense that they’ve not accepted the status quo.”

Knowing hell survive

Korbel has stored enough beans, lentils, rice, pasta and soup to feed his wife and their two sons still living at home for a year and a half. He’s prepared to grow his own vegetables, mill his own grain and vacuum-seal the foods he’s preserving.

“These are good for 50 years,” Korbel said, showing off the homemade pemmican balls he’s made of beef, peanut butter and nuts.

He stores a couple hundred gallons of water and enough gasoline to fill his truck tank three times. He’s got gas masks that he bought at Fleet Farm, and suits to protect against a chemical attack that he bought online. There are weather radios, two-way radios and first aid kits on every level of his house. The upper floor has escape ladders.

He lives about 4 miles from the center of Minneapolis, a little too close in case a nuclear bomb goes off in the city center. Ten miles would be better, he said. But his wife is happy living in Columbia Heights, and the mortgage is almost paid off.

“Yeah, there’d be severe burns, structures coming down. But still survivable,” he said.

Among the things that worry him are tornadoes, civil unrest, racial tensions, terrorists, conflict with Russia, a government that “goes rogue.”

“I wouldn’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist. But I do think about it a lot,” he said. “If a comet lands on me, I’m not going to worry about it.

“My worst fear would be a financial breakdown” and a collapse of the monetary system, he said. “You’ve got people bartering in gold, silver, jewels.” Or ammunition.

Korbel has set aside some of that as well, along with handguns, rifles and shotguns.

“I also have compound bows. My boys, they’ve trained in compound bows. My wife is trained in that,” he said.

“You need to defend your property and yourself,” he said. But he said, “I’m not prepping for a war. I’m not trying to hide anything. I’m not trying to overthrow the government. I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to shoot anyone.”

Korbel is a Metro Transit driver and an Army veteran who used to work as a carpenter, a contractor and a semitrailer truck driver. He’s been married 25 years, and his wife is a nurse.

“He likes to be our protector,” Betsy Korbel said. “There’s a lot worse things to be doing.”

Korbel said he’s been a prepper about 12 years. Last year, he estimates, he spent about $7,000 on the activity.

“When I turn 80, I might turn around and look at this stuff and I might say, ‘OK, maybe I bought too much,'” he said.

But he said he pays for prepping with side income he gets from recycling metals from old laptops and wires and driving for a food delivery service.

“I love it,” Korbel said of his preoccupation with preparing. “It’s something I enjoy.”

“I know I’m going to be able to survive,” he said.

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These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike … – Grand Forks Herald

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These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike … – Duluth News Tribune

Posted: May 11, 2017 at 12:40 pm

There’ll be a shower with an on-demand water heater, a microwave oven, stove, composting toilet, satellite dish and power provided by solar panels. It’s being built on a trailer, so it can be towed anywhere.

Korbel’s self-sufficient micro-cottage isn’t being built out of a Thoreau-esque desire to simplify, simplify, or to achieve a chic Dwell magazine minimalist aesthetic.

He’s building it for the end of the world.

When all hell breaks loose war, natural disaster, a breakdown in civil society Korbel will hitch his house on wheels to a 1972 Ford F100 pickup. (That’s before the advent of computerized car systems, which Korbel says will be fried by the electromagnetic pulse created by a nuclear blast.)

He’ll haul the structure and his family to a patch of land he has north of Hinckley, Minn., stopping to get supplies he’s cached along the way in PVC tubes buried underground. He’s prepared, he believes, to ride out anything that man or nature might throw at him.

Korbel, 53, is a prepper, of course, that breed of person who stockpiles food, toilet paper and ammunition to last not days, but months just in case.

Preppers see themselves as prudent, sensible ants in a world of feckless grasshoppers, even while they recognize that others consider them paranoid conspiracy theorists and doomsday prophets.

“My wife gave me the nickname Mad Max,” Korbel said. “My brother, he thinks it’s nuts. He’s lazy. I already know he’s going to be knocking on my door.”

Predictions that the end is near are as old as Noah. More modern manifestations have included people who felt the need to build home fallout shelters during the Cold War and pessimists who feared the worst from a Y2K collapse. Events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have continued to fuel fears.

The latest bad news: This year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to reset its famous Doomsday Clock _ “a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe ” from three minutes to only 2 minutes before midnight.

The scientific worrywarts cited tensions between the U.S. and Russia, North Korean nuclear tests, climate change, a rise in “strident nationalism” and “intemperate statements” from President Donald Trump and even “lethal autonomous weapons systems” yeah, killer robots among the looming existential threats to humanity.

According to the Bulletin scientists, in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the last time things have been this bad for the planet was 1953, just after the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed the first hydrogen bombs. At that time, the scientists deemed we were only two minutes to apocalypse.

Selling peace of mind

No wonder Costco is selling $3,399.99 packages of freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency foods that promise 31,500 total servings, enough to feed four people for a year, with a shelf life of up to 25 years. The food shipment arrives on a pallet that is “black-wrapped for security and privacy.”

Or you could buy end-of-the-world supplies from a specialty retailer such as Safecastle.com.

Safecastle was started by Prior Lake resident Vic Rantala after 9/11 because he saw a niche for an online source of affordable, quality, long-term stored food.

The company has since branched out to sell surveillance robots, radiation detectors, folding “bug-out” bicycles intended for paratroopers and a 35-piece pet survival kit designed for a “CATastrophe.”

“We sell stuff nobody else sells,” Rantala said.

You can even buy an underground fallout shelter that costs more than $100,000.

“We early on developed a relationship with a steel plate shelter builder in Louisiana,” Rantala said. “Our builder has done seven-figure bunkers for people.”

He said his best-seller is something homier: canned, cooked bacon with a shelf life of more than 10 years.

Rantala, 59, said his background has included service in the Army, intelligence work for the government and communications and consulting for corporations. But selling prepping gear has become “kind of like a life’s mission.”

The shelters he’s sold have saved lives in tornadoes, he said. Some of the food he’s sold to preppers ended up being eaten when the disaster turned out to be a job loss.

“We sell peace of mind to people,” Rantala said.

Even though he sold the company a couple of years ago, he continues to work for it. He said sales are close to $50 million a year.

He estimates that as many as “10 percent of the population are into prepping these days,” although he admits figures can be fuzzy because preppers are notoriously secretive about their preparations.

“Sometimes you don’t even tell your family members,” he said. “It can be a little bit of an obsession, I have to admit.”

Nuts or narrative

“It’s good to have something stored away,” said Peter Behrens, a psychologist who recently retired as a professor at Penn State University in Lehigh Valley, Pa. “Some 72 hours’ worth of food is great.”

But he said prepping can turn into a “non-substance pathology,” similar to hoarding and excessive gambling, when taken to the extreme.

“A lot of people get into this as a pastime,” he said. But he said, “It’s a slippery slope to becoming irrational and aggressive.”

Behrens said prepping is cause for concern if a person starts hoarding firearms and ammunition and if more than 10 percent of a person’s income is devoted to prepping. And he warns that prepping can be similar to being in a cult if a person gives up long-standing relationships with friends and family members to associate only with other preppers.

“This is a situation that revolves around anxiety,” he said. “It doesn’t match with rational behavior.”

But Richard G. Mitchell, who studied survivalists as a sociology professor at Oregon State University, said preppers are people who may just want to resist a humdrum life of comfort and consumption. They want to create a personal narrative of themselves as the rugged individual who’s going to survive disaster.

“They want a place where they feel meaningful,” he said. “Survivalism is a storytelling process. There’s a certain satisfaction to that.”

He added, “These are people who are hobbyists. They’re amused by the process. They’re entertained by it. They’re proud of it. They’re nuts in the sense that they’ve not accepted the status quo.”

Knowing hell survive

Korbel has stored enough beans, lentils, rice, pasta and soup to feed his wife and their two sons still living at home for a year and a half. He’s prepared to grow his own vegetables, mill his own grain and vacuum-seal the foods he’s preserving.

“These are good for 50 years,” Korbel said, showing off the homemade pemmican balls he’s made of beef, peanut butter and nuts.

He stores a couple hundred gallons of water and enough gasoline to fill his truck tank three times. He’s got gas masks that he bought at Fleet Farm, and suits to protect against a chemical attack that he bought online. There are weather radios, two-way radios and first aid kits on every level of his house. The upper floor has escape ladders.

He lives about 4 miles from the center of Minneapolis, a little too close in case a nuclear bomb goes off in the city center. Ten miles would be better, he said. But his wife is happy living in Columbia Heights, and the mortgage is almost paid off.

“Yeah, there’d be severe burns, structures coming down. But still survivable,” he said.

Among the things that worry him are tornadoes, civil unrest, racial tensions, terrorists, conflict with Russia, a government that “goes rogue.”

“I wouldn’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist. But I do think about it a lot,” he said. “If a comet lands on me, I’m not going to worry about it.

“My worst fear would be a financial breakdown” and a collapse of the monetary system, he said. “You’ve got people bartering in gold, silver, jewels.” Or ammunition.

Korbel has set aside some of that as well, along with handguns, rifles and shotguns.

“I also have compound bows. My boys, they’ve trained in compound bows. My wife is trained in that,” he said.

“You need to defend your property and yourself,” he said. But he said, “I’m not prepping for a war. I’m not trying to hide anything. I’m not trying to overthrow the government. I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to shoot anyone.”

Korbel is a Metro Transit driver and an Army veteran who used to work as a carpenter, a contractor and a semitrailer truck driver. He’s been married 25 years, and his wife is a nurse.

“He likes to be our protector,” Betsy Korbel said. “There’s a lot worse things to be doing.”

Korbel said he’s been a prepper about 12 years. Last year, he estimates, he spent about $7,000 on the activity.

“When I turn 80, I might turn around and look at this stuff and I might say, ‘OK, maybe I bought too much,'” he said.

But he said he pays for prepping with side income he gets from recycling metals from old laptops and wires and driving for a food delivery service.

“I love it,” Korbel said of his preoccupation with preparing. “It’s something I enjoy.”

“I know I’m going to be able to survive,” he said.

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These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike … – Duluth News Tribune

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Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Posted: May 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, Minn. (TNS) The tiny house that Bryan Korbel is building in his Columbia Heights driveway will have all the comforts of a 260-square-foot home.

Therell be a shower with an on-demand water heater, a microwave oven, stove, composting toilet, satellite dish and power provided by solar panels. Its being built on a trailer, so it can be towed anywhere.

Korbels self-sufficient micro-cottage isnt being built out of a Thoreau-esque desire to simplify, simplify, or to achieve a chic Dwell magazine minimalist aesthetic.

Hes building it for the end of the world.

When all hell breaks loose war, natural disaster, a breakdown in civil society Korbel will hitch his house on wheels to a 1972 Ford F100 pickup. (Thats before the advent of computerized car systems, which Korbel says will be fried by the electromagnetic pulse created by a nuclear blast.)

Hell haul the structure and his family to a patch of land he has north of Hinckley, Minn., stopping to get supplies hes cached along the way in PVC tubes buried underground. Hes prepared, he believes, to ride out anything that man or nature might throw at him.

Korbel, 53, is a prepper, of course, that breed of person who stockpiles food, toilet paper and ammunition to last not days, but months just in case.

Preppers see themselves as prudent, sensible ants in a world of feckless grasshoppers, even while they recognize that others consider them paranoid conspiracy theorists and doomsday prophets.

My wife gave me the nickname Mad Max, Korbel said. My brother, he thinks its nuts. Hes lazy. I already know hes going to be knocking on my door.

Predictions that the end is near are as old as Noah. More modern manifestations have included people who felt the need to build home fallout shelters during the Cold War and pessimists who feared the worst from a Y2K collapse. Events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have continued to fuel fears.

The latest bad news: This year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to reset its famous Doomsday Clock a universally recognized indicator of the worlds vulnerability to catastrophe from three minutes to only 2 1/2 minutes before midnight.

The scientific worrywarts cited tensions between the U.S. and Russia, North Korean nuclear tests, climate change, a rise in strident nationalism and intemperate statements from President Donald Trump and even lethal autonomous weapons systems yeah, killer robots among the looming existential threats to humanity.

According to the Bulletin scientists, in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the last time things have been this bad for the planet was 1953, just after the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed the first hydrogen bombs. At that time, the scientists deemed we were only two minutes to apocalypse.

No wonder Costco is selling $3,399.99 packages of freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency foods that promise 31,500 total servings, enough to feed four people for a year, with a shelf life of up to 25 years. The food shipment arrives on a pallet that is black-wrapped for security and privacy.

Or you could buy end-of-the-world supplies from a specialty retailer such as Safecastle.com.

Safecastle was started by Prior Lake resident Vic Rantala after 9/11 because he saw a niche for an online source of affordable, quality, long-term stored food.

The company has since branched out to sell surveillance robots, radiation detectors, folding bug-out bicycles intended for paratroopers and a 35-piece pet survival kit designed for a CATastrophe.

We sell stuff nobody else sells, Rantala said.

You can even buy an underground fallout shelter that costs more than $100,000.

We early on developed a relationship with a steel plate shelter builder in Louisiana, Rantala said. Our builder has done seven-figure bunkers for people.

He said his best-seller is something homier: canned, cooked bacon with a shelf life of more than 10 years.

Rantala, 59, said his background has included service in the Army, intelligence work for the government and communications and consulting for corporations. But selling prepping gear has become kind of like a lifes mission.

The shelters hes sold have saved lives in tornadoes, he said. Some of the food hes sold to preppers ended up being eaten when the disaster turned out to be a job loss.

We sell peace of mind to people, Rantala said.

Even though he sold the company a couple of years ago, he continues to work for it. He said sales are close to $50 million a year.

He estimates that as many as 10 percent of the population are into prepping these days, although he admits figures can be fuzzy because preppers are notoriously secretive about their preparations.

Sometimes you dont even tell your family members, he said. It can be a little bit of an obsession, I have to admit.

Its good to have something stored away, said Peter Behrens, a psychologist who recently retired as a professor at Penn State University in Lehigh Valley, Pa. Some 72 hours worth of food is great.

But he said prepping can turn into a non-substance pathology, similar to hoarding and excessive gambling, when taken to the extreme.

A lot of people get into this as a pastime, he said. But he said, Its a slippery slope to becoming irrational and aggressive.

Behrens said prepping is cause for concern if a person starts hoarding firearms and ammunition and if more than 10 percent of a persons income is devoted to prepping. And he warns that prepping can be similar to being in a cult if a person gives up long-standing relationships with friends and family members to associate only with other preppers.

This is a situation that revolves around anxiety, he said. It doesnt match with rational behavior.

But Richard G. Mitchell, who studied survivalists as a sociology professor at Oregon State University, said preppers are people who may just want to resist a humdrum life of comfort and consumption. They want to create a personal narrative of themselves as the rugged individual whos going to survive disaster.

They want a place where they feel meaningful, he said. Survivalism is a storytelling process. Theres a certain satisfaction to that.

He added, These are people who are hobbyists. Theyre amused by the process. Theyre entertained by it. Theyre proud of it. Theyre nuts in the sense that theyve not accepted the status quo.

Korbel has stored enough beans, lentils, rice, pasta and soup to feed his wife and their two sons still living at home for a year and a half. Hes prepared to grow his own vegetables, mill his own grain and vacuum-seal the foods hes preserving.

These are good for 50 years, Korbel said, showing off the homemade pemmican balls hes made of beef, peanut butter and nuts.

He stores a couple hundred gallons of water and enough gasoline to fill his truck tank three times. Hes got gas masks that he bought at Fleet Farm, and suits to protect against a chemical attack that he bought online. There are weather radios, two-way radios and first aid kits on every level of his house. The upper floor has escape ladders.

He lives about 4 1/2 miles from the center of Minneapolis, a little too close in case a nuclear bomb goes off in the city center. Ten miles would be better, he said. But his wife is happy living in Columbia Heights, and the mortgage is almost paid off.

Yeah, thered be severe burns, structures coming down. But still survivable, he said.

Among the things that worry him are tornadoes, civil unrest, racial tensions, terrorists, conflict with Russia, a government that goes rogue.

I wouldnt consider myself a conspiracy theorist. But I do think about it a lot, he said. If a comet lands on me, Im not going to worry about it.

My worst fear would be a financial breakdown and a collapse of the monetary system, he said. Youve got people bartering in gold, silver, jewels. Or ammunition.

Korbel has set aside some of that as well, along with handguns, rifles and shotguns.

I also have compound bows. My boys, theyve trained in compound bows. My wife is trained in that, he said.

You need to defend your property and yourself, he said. But he said, Im not prepping for a war. Im not trying to hide anything. Im not trying to overthrow the government. I dont want to get shot. I dont want to shoot anyone.

Korbel is a Metro Transit driver and an Army veteran who used to work as a carpenter, a contractor and a semitrailer truck driver. Hes been married 25 years, and his wife is a nurse.

He likes to be our protector, Betsy Korbel said. Theres a lot worse things to be doing.

Korbel said hes been a prepper about 12 years. Last year, he estimates, he spent about $7,000 on the activity.

When I turn 80, I might turn around and look at this stuff and I might say, OK, maybe I bought too much, he said.

But he said he pays for prepping with side income he gets from recycling metals from old laptops and wires and driving for a food delivery service.

I love it, Korbel said of his preoccupation with preparing. Its something I enjoy.

I know Im going to be able to survive, he said.

View post:

Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

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Homesteading and Survivalism Living a simple life

Posted: May 6, 2017 at 3:28 am

This is what happens when the government controls firearms. There is a lot to learn from Venezuela. Some people may say That could never happen here, sure it can. The government can suspend civil rights under certain situation. The United States Supreme Court upheld Executive Order 9066, which was signed by Franklin Roosevelt and detained thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The law has yet to be repealed.

What I worry about, is groups like antifa causing enough civil unrest that basic civil liberties are suspended.

With the outrage with Trump being elected President, what would happen if he is reelected?

My personal opinion the left is not far from causing widespread civil unrest. Look at the news, look at the unrest over freedom of speech at American Universities.

It appears Venezuela has reached a tipping point, and we are not far behind.

A Warning: Venezuela Just Suspended Civilian Gun Rights for 180 Days

The honest truth is, the liberal left does not respect any opinion expect those that agree with them. Under a liberal controlled government, the only people who have rights are those who agree with the left.

If you disagree with the left, you have no rights.

Rammstein has released another video, this one from their Paris concert. I am not sure when the Paris concert was, all I know is this is an awesome video.

American rock bands are so bland. In all honestly, the majority of good music has been coming out of Europe for some time. Even in the 1970s and 1980s, groups like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were blowing most of the American bands away.

We need more groups like Rammstein and less boy bands.

For some reason my fig trees are not growing like they should. I do not want to put commercial fertilizer around them, so I mixed up some organic fertilizer:

(more)

I finally bought a solar panel. In all honesty, I do not know why I waited so long for. It is a Nekteck 20 watt solar panel and I see this as a starting point for bigger and better things.

Before I bought the solar panel I asked myself, what purpose will the panel serve? I decided to go with a foldable solar panel with USB outlets for recharging flashlights, AA batteries and radios. Something to keep flashlights, lanterns and radios charged in a power outage. For right now, the focus is being able to have light and staying up to date on news when the power goes out.

The plan is to have two foldable solar panels one for charging USB battery packs, and the other panel for charging cell phones, radios and flashlights. Hopefully, the next foldable solar panel will be a 40 watt.

(more)

Couple of days ago I was watching naked and afraid, this guys body pretty much shut down and he had to be medivaced to a hospital. They were only 4 or 5 days into the show? The doctor said the problems were from a lack of vitamins and minerals. The guy said he ate something like 5,000 calories a day. I kind of figured he was going to have problems going from 5,000 calories a day to almost nothing.

The guy on the show came across as a great person. He was friendly and had a wonderful attitude. However, it seemed like his body did not react well to be taken out of a certain setting.

The vast majority of the public are use to eating certain foods. Then that all stops in one day. People are spoiled to getting food right when they want it, and then that all stops. There are all kinds of videos on youtube of people getting in fights because McDonalds was out of a certain food.

(more)

Part of my overall prepping plans is to have enough firearms for friends and family members who bug out to my location. I live in a rural area with privately owned that borders national forest and timber company land.

Hunting firearms is not a problem, the issue is handguns.

(more)

If there is ever a real SHTF / TEOTWAWKI event, a large number of so called preppers are going to starve or die from dysentery.

Proof to back up that statement? Just look at the popular prepping related videos on youtube, or look at what forum sections get the most traffic.

The most popular type of video on youtube is gun and tactical videos. It is not gardening, it is not chickens or other livestock. the most popular types of videos are running and gunning videos.

You can not eat bullets, plate carriers, chest rigs, knives, or anything else that fuels the fantasy of a tacti-cool SHTF event.

(more)

In December of 2016 I posted a thread in the forum about my prepping plans for 2017. I wanted to post an update to that thread and how things were moving along.

A Glock 19 was added to the inventory. Overall, I find the quality mediocre. I can not understand why Glocks are as popular as they are. Because of this I am looking at a Beretta 92F compact.

I have decided to dump a certain amount of money into bulk ammunition. February was 1,000 rounds of Wolf 9mm FMJ. March will probably be 223 Remington. April might be 45acp or 308 Winchester. The plan is to continue to buy bulk ammo for the rest of 2017.

(more)

The Lucky Gunner youtube channel usually puts out some good videos, but I must say this one probably takes the cake. The guy talking in the video uses various examples with one being from the 1930s where it is suggested that police officers double action only revolvers. Jjust 1/8 inch of trigger pull can cause the single action handgun to discharge.

Arguments made against single action handguns can also be made against striker fired handguns.

Now that the argument against single action and striker fired handguns has been made, what are your thoughts?

We have example spanning back 70 years saying that double action is safer than single action and that should apply to striker-fired as well.

On February 27, 2017 someone on a facebook page posted a picture of a bible being urinated on. The guy said he was tired of seeing bibles in hotel rooms.

I posted a comment that the guy should be banned from the group. A young lady replied to my comment claiming the the Bible was a myth and Jesus never existed. She went on to give various examples of why the Bible was not to be believed.

Whether someone does or does not believe in th Bible, GOD or Jesus, is not the issue.

The question I have, why is there so much anger directed towards a person who only taught love and good works? Jesus taught us to love one another, and people hate him of it.

Why?

(more)

The weather in early 2017 has been unseasonably warm, so I decided to go ahead and start the spring garden a few weeks early. I usually do not plant until after the Ides of March. With everything blooming out early and daytime highs hitting the low 80s, I decided to start planting in late February.

This garden will be special, as it uses decade old seeds. I posted a video on youtube about stockpiling seeds and then shared the video on survivalistboards, twitter and reddit. A couple of guys on reddit said made statements that seeds can not be saved.

One comment was,

(more)

Around February 14th is usually when potatoes are planted, at least here in the south. I missed the 14th but will be planting the week of February 20 24th.

On February 18, 2017 my finance and I went to Circle Three Feed in Jasper Texas. I bought some chicken feed, bean seed, seed potatoes and some mineral blocks to put around the deer feeders.

On Monday a front pushed through bringing a lot of rain to southeast Texas. I also cut the potatoes on that day. In the next few days I will be working up a spot to plant this years garden.

Cutting potatoes before planting

Something that caught my eye the other day on youtube, the topic was the new Sig 320 being adopted. Someone said the military needed to get rid of the outdated Beretta design and go with something more modern.

Then the person said something along the lines of modern like a glock. Or otherwise implied Glock is a modern design.

I started laughing and thought to myself the guy in the video knows nothing of handgun history.

(more)

The Thrunite TC12 is unique in that it has a built in battery charger. Plug in a micro-USB cable to charge the flashlight. While charging the brightness selector button flashes.

Being USB rechargeable makes this is an excellent truck, car or nightstand flashlight design. Keep theThrunite TC12 in the console or glove box of the truck. To charge, simply plug it into a USB charger. Most people have some kind of cell phone charger in their vehicle. Use the included cable to charge the light.

To review the Thrunite TC12 I did my typical battery of test. starting with the freeze test.

(more)

Lets just say that I am very impressed with theAtactical A1 flashlight. I have had this flashlight for around a month. During that time it has stayed in a table next to the front door.

As some of you know I live in a rural area. It is not uncommon for the dogs to start barking at something. When they do, I take the Atactical A1 flashlight and walk around hoping to see what they are barking at.

(more)

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Homesteading and Survivalism Living a simple life

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On Ketamine and Added Value – E-Flux

Posted: at 3:28 am

Artist as Consumer

Artists like to role-play scenarios in order to max-out concepts to their logical ends. Art is the space where practices that cannot function within generic constraints run up against the walls and expose fissures in the structures they are working in. Think of documentary or narrative films that dont quite cut it in a mainstream film context, or technologies that fail as commodities but succeed as concepts. When understood as art, these are allowed to exist in all of their complexity.

As an art student in the late aughts, my professors propagated the fantasy that alterity provided access to an otherwise of multinational capitalism. Armed with identities shaped when an outside or another world was possible, they maintained that the other is always outside, and always subversive to dominant culture. With practices emerging in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, punk negation, slacker refusal, institutional critique, and art-as-activism were put forth as viable tactics for resistance. But to my cohort, the proposal of simple opposition over immanence did not feel appropriate or effective in resisting the conditions of our moment; it felt romantic. A strategic sense of imbrication seemed to better address the layered complexities of the reality at hand. By 2008, institutional critique was being taught as a historical practice. What had once been radicaleven, with Buren and Haacke, to the point of censorshiphad now been wholly recuperated. As Hal Foster pointed out a decade earlier, the quasi-anthropological artist today may seek to work with sited communities with the best motives of political engagement and institutional transgression, only in part to have this work recoded by its sponsors as social outreach, economic development, public relations or art.1

My sculpture class gathered weekly to collectively cook meals. This exercise, led by an exemplary relational aesthetics artist, quickly devolved into performative class warfare, with students bringing everything from Balthazar bread to discount produce, resulting in mixed feelings of guilt, shame, ambivalence, and inadequacy. This was at Columbia. At neighboring institutions, there was a painter known for his Beuysian performance paintings made with heritage pork fat from the Berkshire pigs he raised upstate. In Frankfurt, there was a German painter who apparently ate glass. This education championed the model of artist as x, or artist as performing a rolewhether it be artist as cook, artist as bad boy, artist as gentleman farmer, or artist as sociopathfrom a position of critical distance. Similar to homo economicus, the primary function of artist as x is to utilize and leverage all possible identities, situations, and social relations for their own benefit. From this accumulative imperative emerged practices where every bender was a durational performance and every broken bottle an artifact of critical engagement. Out of this educational model came Times Bar and New Theater in Berlin, the vitriolic blog Jerry Magoo, and, in my own case, a trend-forecasting group named K-HOLE. Relational aesthetics began to look a lot more like aspirational aesthetics, through the aestheticization of trolling, waste, usage, consumption, and the role played by artist as consumer.

To some, art is also an excuse to do things poorly. If an experiment fails, calling the process and its ruins art becomes a contingency plan. If an experiment in a structure traditionally considered as being outside of the boundaries of art succeeds, as functional business enterprises in entertainment, tech, food, or fashion, or the murkier realms of logistics or import/export operations, it is acceptable for the experiment to exist as the thing itself. In the case of the failed, or dis-functional, commercial venture as art, the failure can be understood as performed criticality; it reveals delineations otherwise invisible and shows how the mechanisms of commerce function behind the curtain. But, regardless of success or failure, it has become expected practice to leverage the context of art for the purposes of cultural legitimacy and capital. Many successful business ventures were born this way, from restaurants and fashion labels to BuzzFeed and Kickstarter.

There is an ever-expanding gray zone where groups and projects seek to operate as commercial ventures outside the art world proper while retaining the cultural context from which they came. Cynicism reads this retention purely as cultural capital instrumentalized towards individual ends. Generosity counters that these artists seek to support their community through heightened collective visibility and towards collective ends. Art-world institutions and curators want to stake a claim on the success of these ventures. Including commodity-based, art-adjacent practices in their programs nods to an opening up and democratization of otherwise exclusive, closed institutions. This can be seen in the emerging model of pop-up shop as group exhibition, or the recent inclusion in biennial exhibitions of fashion labels that do not self-identify their brands or businesses as expanded art practices. These groups are faced with split identities: they are seen by the IRS as small-business owners and operate as such, while also being seen as producers of culture through commercially sold commoditiesdifferentiated from art objects. A third identity of artist as fashion designer, technology and food importer, or alcohol producer is not added to the mix, because any critique aimed at the broader violence of capitalism is not being made from within the world of art, but from that of basic consumer-oriented commerce, albeit aspirational lifestyle commerce. By refusing to identify as artists, these groups resist the recuperation of this identity by start-ups, creative agencies, and real-estate developers that value creativity and disruption.

This turn towards commercial, commodity-driven practices arrives as the value of art objects becomes ever more abstracted and contingent on densely imbricated social, institutional, and cultural reticulation. As immaterial artistic practices are both rewarded with seven-figure sales and called out by alt-right conspiracists as satanic practices of the liberal elite, the ancient ritual of making an object of basic utility for the purposes of transparent exchange begins to promise relief. The commodity in itself offers a level of commercial purity that feels, to some, less complicit or exhausting than the highly mannered and baroque tapestry of brand narratives and leveraged networks on which creating and exhibiting even traditional forms of contemporary artlike paintings, sculptures, or photographyhave come to rely. Certainly many of the groups that produce such commercial commodities continue to lean on a community of friends or a city-specific scene for visibility and cultural legitimacy, but at least these are peer networks, contrary to the inter-generational hierarchy that flourishes in the market-resisting art silos nestled in our educational institutions with HR oversight.

A factor in this turn within art is the nostalgia for an era before branding, taste, and cultural context became the primary factors by which artistic production is evaluated. These commodities can claim a materialist and modernist approach, where the value of the object is ostensibly inherent in the object itself. Value derives from craft and quality or an ability to satisfy a specific need rather than from exhaustive references to context and constructed narrative. These commodities in themselves gesture to the democratization of art, through relative affordability and accessibility when released as consumable goods, design objects, and clothing. It is a functionalist approach that values art for its usability and ability to seamlessly incorporate itself into daily life. This approach to art is not meant to create rupture or to jockey speeds and tempos in its consumption. These objects do not strive to open up a chasm, and they do not call into question their own objecthood. They do not produce moments of unease that, when phenomenologically approached, lead the viewer/consumer to question their own inhabitation of a body and occupation of space. Rather, they are meant to replace the other commodities that previously occupied that space in the consumers lives. Why wear a Supreme shirt when you can wear a Some Ware long-sleeve? Why buy Crofters or Smuckers when you can eat Sqirl jam? Why drink Absolute or even Titos when you can drink Material Vodka and Enlightenment Wine? Why use a Brita when you can filter your hormone-laden municipal water through a Walter Filter? In this sense, there is a perceived ethics to consuming these commodities: you are supporting a community of artistsor artists functioning as small businesses. You may not be able to afford a painting, but you can afford a sweatshirt, and chances are, the producer of that sweatshirt doesnt pay their gallery commission. But this provokes the question of whether these profits benefit the artists lifestyle, artistic practice, or the cause nodded to in the sweatshirts logo or brand name (see: Election Reform, or The Future is Female). The artist-as-shirt-producer will likely spend more time sourcing sustainable materials and investing in fair-labor practices than the artist who creates work out of petrochemicals with the help of their unpaid interns. Many of these practices retain their position within the art community by operating under a FUBU ethos (For Us By Us), wherein a brand produces specifically for, and for the benefit of, a community of peers, with the aim of providing financial capital, visibility, and broader legitimacy for the group. But within the context of art, these commodities transform viewers into direct consumers. The shirt, the jam, and the vodka function simultaneously as signifiers of taste and signifiers of belonging. While they might not get you thinking about objecthood and phenomenology, they will get you thinking about community and identity.

The nostalgia inherent in this commodity-driven practice is mirrored on a mass-produced, national scale, in that companies selling these commercial goods cannot sustain themselves solely on the sales of products without inflating their value through branding and context. If a business seeks to sidestep this, they instead rely on the distribution networks and logistical convenience of human powered, but soon to be automated, fulfillment centers. This allows a level of anonymity for the importer or small-business owner who is shuttling goods between mass producer and anonymous consumer via branded distribution networks like Amazon Prime. But at either level, brand value is what accounts for the difference in price between two instances of the same commodity. Often, the cheapest commodity is also the one with the least identity. A lesson learned from pharmaceuticals: generics can be bought at a lower price. The more expensive drug is branded, trademarked and I.P. driven. Branding allows for the mass production of slightly less authorless objects.

Abandoned American malls are postcard images for deindustrialization and the bottoming out of an upwardly mobile middle class. Retailers are transitioning to e-commerce-only models that rely on fulfillment centers serviced by low paid invisible labor and customer service chatbots, virtual agents and AI assistants with names like Nadia, Twyla, Tara, Polly, and Alexa. Brick-and-mortar stores have come to function as pop-up showrooms and concept spaces. Today, profitable commodities are largely those that trade in the invisiblerooted in financial trading, service, intellectual property, and culture. In other words, profitable commodities arent commodities at all, but assets and capitals.

In 2010, shortly after leaving school, four friends and I self-identified as cultural strategists and created a trend-forecasting group named K-HOLE. Cultural strategists seemed broad enough to encompass all of our practices (artist, writer, musician, filmmaker) and whatever else we might eventually mutate into, while internalizing how brands and agencies were likely to perceive our position as twentysomethings in New York City. A K-hole is what happens when you take too much ketamine, a veterinarian tranquilizer and party drug popular before our time in the 90s. Ketamine provides the sensation of having an externalized view of your body and situation. It is like you are your own puppet master, whispering words in your ear and then hearing them spoken by a disembodied version of yourself. It is similar to an out-of-body experience, but with less of a birds-eye view and more of an over-the-shoulder lurk. This sense of having distance from and perspective on your situation is, of course, illusoryyoure just high. The rationale behind using K-HOLE as a name was that we did not claim to have any macro view of the landscape we inhabited as artists, writers, and twentysomethings in postrecession, pre-Occupy New York City.

The project grew out of a frustration with an attitude common among Gen X artists, who liked to neg on younger artists for not keeping their distance from the inner workings of capitalismfor selling out. Like our professors, artists who were a generation older than us promoted subcultural tactics such as zine-making and abject performance, which had since been aestheticized and recuperated by mainstream brands from Urban Outfitters to IKEA to MoMA. They acted as if our decision to engage was motivated by anything other than awareness of the immediacy of recuperation, survivalism, and the deep-rooted anxiety brought on by the recession and student debt. We resented the unspoken mandate within the art world that there are only certain acceptable jobs for an artist: assistant, teacher, physical laborer, bartender, retail worker, food service worker. As if these positions allowed artists to retain their identity as artists. You could be a singular artist, without having to confront the complexity of an imbricated identity, as long as you worked for another artist, at a boutique that happened to sell artists books and editions, or at a restaurant frequented by art-world luminaries. Beyond propagating the model of the monolithic artist, who creates their artwork uncompromised by other forms of labor, this model normalizes independent wealth and excludes those who feel poor, disenfranchised, and generally alienated when confronted with class disparity. When compounded with other occupations, the identity of an artist requires qualificationwhich often becomes the qualification artist as ethnographer or anthropologist, thus claiming the position of both observer and performer, and maintaining a critical stance within that role. The disappearance of salaried positions, lack of access to affordable health care as a freelance worker, lack of access to affordable housing, and student debt led me to wonder what kind of critical distance one can have in a survivalist state.

With K-HOLE, we were not interested in taking on the role of ethnographer or performer; we were interested in the total collapse that comes with being the thing itself. So, rather than perform artists as trend forecasters, we produced trend reports like those that are sold via subscription for tens of thousands of dollars to corporate clients and advertising agencies. We created the publications in a form we thought would circulate as freely and fluidly as possiblePDF. Unable, perhaps, to fully shed our training in market confrontation and antagonism, we saw the fact that our report was free as an affront to the traditional trend-forecasting model of groups such as WGSN, Stylus, or the Future Laboratory. What we didnt realize was that the worlds of branding and advertising already had a word for this sort of antagonism: loss leader. A loss leader is a product exchanged at a loss to attract customers for the future. From a certain perspective, this would include some of the most radical twentieth-century market-refusing art practices. Far from being an exception to the standards of established commerce, distributing free information that can be harnessed by an elite or restricted group with cultural legitimacy is the way conglomerates do business. Historically, artists have been regarded as forecasters of everything from style and behavior to speculative international futures. Trend reports are a vehicle for identifying emerging behaviors and the forces that motivate them. We issued our own because we wanted our community of peers to be aware of the strategies that were being used on them as consumers, and that they were parroting back in their own artistic and creative practices. Trend forecasting is a form of armchair sociology that identifies how consumers respond to global sociopolitical and environmental change through pattern recognition. Trends are less about seasonal colors, and more about consumers crisis response. Our thought was that the more people are aware of these strategies, the more they can develop tactics based on those strategies and use them towards their own ends, whether in their studio practice or in their plan for survival on Earth. For me, our practice was about peeking behind the curtain, gaining an understanding of the logic and intentions of corporate behavior, and seeing if there was any potential for us to affect change. We wanted to identify the threshold dividing viable from nonviable in the commercial sphere.

Our first two reports mirrored the traditional format, with the coining of a neologism, the definition of the trend, and the inclusion of supporting case studies. The first report was on FragMOREtation, a strategy by which brands play with fragmentation, dispersion, and visibility in order to conceal expansion and growth. The second was on ProLASTination and addressed the ways that brands seek ambient omnipresence over long periods of time. In 2012, after Hurricane Sandy and leading up to the Obama-Romney presidential election, we released K-HOLE #3, The Brand Anxiety Matrix, where you could plot brands, presidential candidates, countries, celebrities, and your friends, along two axes: from legibility to illegibility, and from chaos to order. We used anxiety as a metric to identify larger behavioral shifts. We crafted a collective voice that made hyperbolic declarative statements such as The job of the advanced consumer is managing anxiety, period, and It used to be possible to be specialto sustain unique differences through time, relative to a certain sense of audience. But the Internet and globalization fucked this up for everyone.

But as with all well-compensated prophecy, trend forecasting isnt about seeing the future, not really; its about identifying collective anxieties about the future operating in the present. We dedicated our fourth report, Youth Mode, to generational branding. We described a crisis in individuality and a response to that crisis, which we saw as a rejection of the individual and an embrace of the collective, privileging communication and communities over individualist expression. We saw ourselves as living in Mass Indie times, with Brooklyn being arguably one of Americas largest cultural exports. The endless list of signifiers pointing to unique individuation leads to isolation, and when no one gets your references, youre left alone and lonely. Instead of community building, the compulsion of individuation leads to some Tower of Babel shit, where youve been working so hard at being precise that the micro-logic of your decisions is only apparent to an ever-narrowing circle of friends.

We termed this approach Normcore, which resonated with people experiencing signifier overload and the pressure to be unique. Where our hypothesis was off was that this trend was less a response to fear of isolation and lack of community, and more about exhaustion. The dominant narrative around Normcore is understood in terms of normalcy and sameness, not communication and community. It was equated to dad jeans, Birkenstocks, and sneakers, and was runner-up for the Oxford English Dictionarys word of the year. Our final report, released in 2015, was a report on doubt, magic, and the psychological trauma of collaboration.

After Youth Mode, we were approached by brands and agencies to speak at corporate conferences, hold workshops, and create custom research reports. Asked about our methodology, our answer was something like we just hang out a lot. In our workshops and brand audits, we told brands what they were doing wrong at a meta-institutional level. We were not brought in to provide tactics, just strategy. Or rather, we were the tactics: we were invited into the room so that strategists, creative directors, and work-for-hire creative agencies could signify to their C-suite executives and clients that the brand was engaging in radical strategery. They brought us in to provide cultural credibility, not to actually implement our work. MTV asked us to write a manifesto to inspire their employees about the brand. We delivered a manifesto that included what we imagined were harmlesss platitudes like Breed unique hybrids, and If were for everyone, were not for anyone. Even so, the most pointed suggestions in the document were edited to make it acceptable for upper management. Our demand for the cancellation of the Real World, for example, became a gentle suggestion that MTV have the courage to put things to pasture.

The World Economic Forum sent a representative in a grey pantsuit to our fifth-floor Chinatown studio to invite only one of us to Dubai for the organizations Global Agenda Council on the Future of Consumer Industries. We were told, in a tone of forced casualness, that entire phalanxes of corporate executives met at such councils to set an agenda for the coming year. A few years prior, the agenda had been entitled Sustainability and Mindfulness. It was unclear what came of these terms, or what the exercise accomplished aside from fostering a sense of corporate responsibility and dedication to the double bottom line. These were bloated, entrenched monopolies gathering in a gilded desert to confirm to themselves that they had not totally lost their taste for truth. Hired to provide such vrit, our role was like that of a royal soothsayer, and gigs became a productive exercise in failure. We quickly learned what kind of work we had to do in order to passthat is, to be seen as the thing itself rather than as art-school imposters. While we offered strategy and insights, any tactics or ideas for execution that we brought to the table stayed there. Corporate clients cant stand to feel like theyre being trolled. To many clients, we were useless beyond our cultural capital or brand equity.

It became clear that what constituted trend forecasting in itself in the case of K-HOLE was the collective work of immaterial, unlocatable, affective, and knowledge labor. That, and the effusive, intangible, shape-shifting, and value-adding fog of branding. We realized that behind the multinational curtain is a decentralized quagmire where no one is held accountable and decisions are driven by fear. Corporations are people, US presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, and people need jobs, and jobs are jeopardized for all sorts of dumb, cyclical reasons without adding reckless departures from precedent. This is why, increasingly, most successful entrepreneurslike most successful artistscome from some kind of money. Genuine risk-taking is usually the mark of desperation, mental illness, or both. We were brought in as crisis control, for brands and agencies to prove both internally and externally that they were self-aware and not ready to die.

We were court jesters, hired to tell creative directors and executives about their follies. They were the masochistic kings paying to hear how their messy and often violent business of accumulation disgusted us. But, like the dominatrix or jester, we were still contract workers. Power likes to hear truth spoken in its presence rather than whispered in the shadows, as a substitute for seeing it acted upon by others. In our final reportK-HOLE #5, A Report on Doubtwe conceded that seeing the future changing it. Networks of power and influence remain the same. To quote Sun Tzu in The Art of War: Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. It was worse than I could have imagined.

For the past two years I have worked as a trends and strategy consultant for various creative agencies and media companies, and as a strategist for an advertising agency in Los Angeles. The LA agencys two primary offices are open plan and dog friendly. Like service animals, the office dogs are there to absorb the emotional trauma that their owners experience while they hash out content calendars and campaign strategies. These are positions that deal in pure affect, and I have become intimately familiar with the language through which corporations narrativize and justify their position and actions. It is a corporate logic that speaks in sweeping generalizations, thus erasing difference and constructing statements on human universal truths with ulterior motives. At no point in this work have I felt like Im engaging in dtournement. Any attempts to translate critique into tactics have been exercises in futility. I suggested that a light-beer brand address its role in rape culture and create a campaign supporting the implementation of Title IX on college campuses. I recommended that a bank divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline as a campaign strategy. I developed a strategy for a television show that dealt directly with issues of reproductive rights and used the shows platform to direct attention and resources to groups like Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Needless to say, these efforts did not result in bank divestments or brand-sponsored resources for victims of sexual assault. The television show opted for artist collaborations and a fashion capsule collection. Ive witnessed how brands privilege the unquantifiable asset of cultural relevance precisely because of its slipperiness. It does not have to function to work.

My inability as an artist or simply an individual to effect change within corporate structures has not resulted in a radical turn towards art, or an essentialization of my identity as an artist. Rather, I have been producing and exhibiting art and poetry concurrently with these experiences. While the economy of language and image and the specific language Ive encountered permeate my writing, I do not directly make work about branding. The office is not a site of artistic production for me, and in this sense I am not wearing Certeaus wig as a diversionary tactic. The erasure of complexity in both thought and representation that I witness in my hired work has made me more idealistic about art as a space with the potential to embrace complexity, and to counter the on-demand speed mandated by our culture at large. It has allowed me to distinguish the making of art and a community of artists from the art market.

Artists have traditionally included brands, logos, and readymade consumer goods into their work in order to mount critique on consumption, globalization, mass production, and art-as-commodity. Now you have works created with contemporary brands and products, be it Axe, Monster Energy, Doritos, Red Bull, images of which are then posted and shared on social media. On the other end, you have a social media manager with a liberal arts degree scanning hashtags and coming across their brands being worn and consumed by artists and appearing in the artworks themselves.

Of-the-moment consumerism rewards a level of complexity that answers the question why not have it all? You can like both Dimes and Doritos, sincerely and without irony. The mixing of high and low points both to self-awareness and being in the know. Lux T-shirts with licensed DSL logos, fashion presentations taking place in White Castle, Pop Rocks on your dessert at Mission Chinese.2 This sincerity has taken precedence over critique or resistance. Somewhere along the line it became acceptable to be authentic, earnest, honest, and sincere, even if the object of this sincerity is a complete celebration of consumerism. The primacy of affect over rational thought has, in large part, led us to our current state of political affairs far beyond the realm of art. Subjective emotional truths are being taken as objective rationality-driven realities. With alternative facts, truth is malleable, and as we see with crime footage posted to social media, forensic visual evidence has not resulted in structural change.

Instead, in the realm of art and creativity, when posted on social media these brand and consumer good laden images function as user-generated content (UGC), authentic marketing material being promoted by the coveted creative class. Art that incorporates brands and readymade branded products has become earned media. Earned media is free advertising; its what news outlets provided for Trump, which would have otherwise been regulated and campaign financed. Paid media is publicity gained through paid advertising, while owned media refers to branded platforms, websites, social media accounts.

This brand inclusive art is user generated content. It is not even sponsored content, in which the artist would be paid for posting images of the brand to social media, or paid to incorporate the brand into the artwork itself. Any critique is sublimated, and the artist, like Leslie in season 19 of South Park, doesnt even know shes an ad.

Taking on the role of Patron of the Arts, Red Bull Studios provides resources and physical space for artists and musicians to create and exhibit their work. They are facilitating the creation of work that an artist may otherwise lack resources for, but that work must now be understood as sponsored content. While artists and musicians stage exhibitions in Red Bull branded spaces, the brands CEO, Dietrich Mateschitz is launching his own Breitbartian conservative new media platform, Nher an die Wahrheit, or Closer to the Truth. While there are artists exploring the potential of this role as content creator, and artwork as sponsored or user generated content, this is not something I would like to explore to my own practice. There is no critique, no position of power for the artist in this exchange. We must shift our understanding of this form of work and acknowledge the way that it is being instrumentalized by brands on the other side of the feed. Having influential creatives touting the brands products on social media and in the work itself is their goal.

Artists who participate in this might feel that their radicality lies in goes against a culture of liberal critique, that they are being anti by embracing the commercial. But it becomes a question of scale, of knowing ones own insignificance and finding a form of resistance that doesnt start to feel like reactionary consumerism. One form of resistance is to go dark, to stop making artwork that can in any way be represented on the platforms that facilitate these forms of recuperation. But even if you as an artist dont post images of your work on social media, other people might. You could institute a Berghain rule and administer stickers over phones camera lenses upon entering an exhibition, but then, hashtags are indexable forms of language that dont require images and are still a useful metric for brands. You could literally never show your work to anyone. You could embrace chaos and illegibility, creating visual or written work that is non-instrumentalizable, but legible across many parts over a longer period of time. This might mean making work that operates at a different tempo than that of branding and social media, work that occupies multiple sites and forms, work that fights for the complexity of identity (as artist or otherwise) and form, and believes in a creaturely capacity for patience with a maximum dedication to understanding.

All images unless otherwise noted are courtesy of the author.

Dena Yago is an artist who was born in 1988. Dena Yago has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, including at The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and at the Bodega. Articles about Dena Yago include Flash Art International no. 311 NovemberDecember 2016, written for Flash Art (International Edition) in 2016.

2017 e-flux and the author

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On Ketamine and Added Value – E-Flux

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A Memorial Day Festival for Colorado’s Most Famous Cannibal – 5280 | The Denver Magazine

Posted: May 4, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Lake City, Colorado. Courtesy of the Lake City Chamber of Commerce By Laurel Miller | May 2, 2017

Colorado has always attracted scrappy, independent types. The abundance of precious metals, mountains, rivers, and open spaces have lured many a fortune seeker and ski bum to our slice of the Rockies, even before it became a state. Alferd (ne Alfred) G. PackerColorados infamous cannibalwas one of them.

In the winter of 1874, Packer and a group of prospectorsIsrael Swan, Shannon Wilson Bell, George Noon, Frank Miller, and James Humphreyleft Chief Ourays camp near what is now Montrose to travel through the San Juan Mountains on their way to Los Pios Indian Agency near Saguache. By February, deep snows and frigid temperatures had slowed the mens progress, and by the time they reached the base of Slumgullion Pass outside of present-day Lake City, they were near starvation.

In April, Packerlooking remarkably fit and well-fedturned up alone at Los Pios, saying his companions had perished in a blizzard. A month later, he recanted and gave the first of several confessions, recounting a series of accidents, murders, and cannibalism for the sake of survival. A search party eventually located the bodies of Packers companions at the base of Slumgullion Pass, displaying evidence of hatchet and gunshot wounds and cannibalism. Packer was jailed in Saguache, but escaped and was on the run for a number of years. Packer was apprehended after being found in Wyoming in March 1883 and charged with the murders of all five men and sentenced to death. He was retried in 1886 and sentenced to 40 years in the state penitentiary and was paroled in 1901. He moved to Littleton, where he remained until his death in 1907.

As recently as 2000, forensic scientists and other experts have studied the evidence in the infamous Colorado Cannibal case (the bodies of the victims were first exhumed in 1989), but no definitive conclusion has been reached as to whether or not Packer was a cold-blooded murderer or as much a victim of circumstance as his fellow miners.

To most Coloradans, it doesnt matter: Alferd Packer is a folk hero, memorialized in everything from film (catch South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parkers tribute, Cannibal! The Musical) to food service (A University of Colorado Boulder cafeteria is named the Alferd Packer Restaurant & Grill; when it first opened in 1968, its catchphrase was, Have a friend for lunch! And the now-closed Alfie Packers restaurant in Vail was the epicenter of aprs culture in the 1970s and early 80s).

For the residents of Lake City, Packers gruesome legacy is simply part of the towns history and tourism. Visitors come to explore the famed Alferd Packer Massacre Site and Cannibal Plateau, where the remains were found, examine the artifacts at the (excellent) Lake City Museum, and have a pint and, er, bite at Packer Saloon & Cannibal Grill, but they return because of the isolated hamlets Old West authenticity and the regions beguiling lakes, forests, and recreational opportunities.

The Packer Days festival was established in 1983 and in its heyday, embraced the morbid with a touch of whimsy through events like coffin races. The festival went on hiatus in 2004, but on May 2729, Packer Days will be brought back from the dead (so to speak) with new events and activities.

Part of the goal is to revive shoulder season tourism, because it can be tough for small mountain towns like ours with a short peak season, says Ami Lee Frierson, executive director for the Lake City-Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce. But its also about sharing a part of our history, and how the early settlers to this region lived, given the harsh environment. Some people are bothered by the ideas of commemorating cannibalism, but the idea behind Packer Days is about celebrating survivalism, backcountry skills, and the pioneer spirit.

The signature event is the Run for Your Life Survival 5k, a team race that includes starting a fire, splinting and evacuating an injured member, and building a shelter. It could be spring weather or snowing, which really brings home the entire point of the race, says Frierson.

Other family-friendly offerings include a Mystery Meat Cook-off, backcountry survival class, Scavenger Hunt and a lecture on Packer given by a local historian. All events besides the race are free and celebrate a unique (and somewhat disturbing) piece of Colorado history.

If you go: Packer Days take place May 2729 in Lake City, Colorado. For lodging and festival info, visit lakecity.com.

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A Memorial Day Festival for Colorado’s Most Famous Cannibal – 5280 | The Denver Magazine

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Learning Survival Skills – Mother Earth News

Posted: April 30, 2017 at 10:16 pm

If our modern conveniences were suddenly stripped away, would we survive? I think that, as man has grown increasingly detached from nature, this question has become subconsciously present in the minds of more and more people – as is evident from both nonfiction informative books on the subject, and fiction in the genre of post-apocalyptic survivalism (including a new novel by yours truly, Wild Children, written under the pen name of Hannah Ross).

It all seems to be asking the following question: if the world is turned upside down and we can no longer rely on the fancy tools of modern man, do we stand a chance?

Well, do we? Honest introspection leads me, and many others, to conclude that we are less resourceful, resilient and capable than our forefathers. We do less things with our hands. We walk less on our feet. We don’t exercise our minds as much, because the convenience of the Internet is just too alluring. Many times, when struggling to remember a piece of information, I open up Wikipedia at once rather than strain my memory.

During WWII, after my grandparents were stripped of their belongings and put on a train to Siberia, along with a bunch of other people who fell into disfavor under Stalin’s rule, they were plunked down in the middle of nowhere and told to build a settlement and work, all with minimal resources. Cutting through an inch-thick layer of ice to get drinking water and fending off hungry howling wolves became everyday routine. Many died in the harsh conditions, with inadequate food, housing and medical care.

Grandma and Grandpa were educated people, but all this education wasn’t worth very much out in the middle of nowhere near the Arctic Circle. Chopping firewood, basic building and carpentry skills, animal husbandry, sewing and knitting were far more useful. It was a harsh life, but they adapted. They had a far better starting point than most people today would, however. They grew up in homes where gardens were routinely tended and animals kept and bred. Grandma, a big sister in a family of five boys, was used to patching up clothes and letting down hems. They knew how to work with their hands, which enabled them to live.

Some people thinklearning survival skills is someloony Doomsday watch-out-the-world-is-ending thing, but it isn’t necessarily so. Short-term skills (starting a fire, finding water) can save hikers who have lost their way. Long-term abilities (growing food, repairing clothes, carpentry) can be real handy not just when food and goods are scarce, but when they are expensive. Many people can’t even picture the possibility of being unable to buy whatever they need, whenever they need it, but I remember the days of the Perestroika and walking with my mom into food stores empty of just about everything except some tins of sardines. Not so long ago, butter, then eggs, went missing from store shelves around here. It only lasteda couple of days, but we were sure happy to have our own eggs.

We think that survival skills, both short term and long term – foraging, growing and preserving food, first aid, raising and breeding animals, and in general becoming more self-sufficient – are worth learning, and we live our lives and teach our children accordingly. In the normal course of things we gain the satisfaction of working with our hands and a little island of sanity in a fast-paced and crazy world. We also save money and develop a more sustainable local community. And if The Big Bad Thing happens (war, natural disaster, economic crisis), these skills may well make the difference between life and death, or at least between struggling and well-being.

Two ofmy favorite books with lots of good info on the subject of self-sufficiency and living a more sustainable life are The Backyard Homestead and the old classic Possum Living.

Anna Twittos academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna’s books are on her Amazon.com Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebookand read more about her current projects on her blog.Read all Anna’s Mother Earth News posts here.

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Learning Survival Skills – Mother Earth News

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