Mad Farmer Sascha #74

Pirate Dreams and Dark Blue Stories

I went to sleep with the speeding desert road of West Texas under my eyelids. Woke up this morning in the attic of the Entropy house in Austin to my cell phone ringing. I was dreaming something about being out on a pirate ship with my friends, getting ready to somehow do battle at sea with goons from an evil monolothic transnational trade group. It was all pretty bizarre and interesting – the Anarcho-Pirates vs. the World Bank Monocult, all right there waiting for me to write down in all its surreal glory. Instead of reaching for my pen, I made a quick choice to deal with the harsh realities of what the real world had to offer. I grabbed the chiming phone and hit the ‘answer’ button. “Yeah?” I said all garbled and groggy, my eyes adjusting to the light. It was Chris Boarts calling from Richmond, Virginia -- politely yet sternly reminding me that my Slug column was due last week.
“I know I know,” I said, holding my head in my hands as all the dreams of the previous night quickly poured out my ears and disappeared forever into the void of the late morning Texas air. “it’s been in the back of my mind this whole time. You know how I am by now Chris. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about for days – there’s so much going on. You know as well as I do that the anniversary of Sera’s death was on Sunday. I was down in San Diego on Mike Antipathy’s boat with Ammi Emergency and Shanna and Belladonna. Did you know Mike named the boat after Sera? ‘Que Sera Sera.’...Yeah, right. It’s like this double meaning: ‘Whatever will be – will be’. Pretty cool, huh? That guy’s great.
“Well, they’re all hanging out at this dock by the border of Mexico getting the thing ready to sail down the West coast of Baja and have big adventures. It’s really pretty amazing. I showed up to meet them late Saturday night from my step-mom’s house in LA and Sunday all of us walked along the beach, quiet and peaceful, just enjoying each others’ company. When the sun went down, the five of us went back to the dock and drank a bottle of Nicaraguan Rum, cooked a huge feast and stayed up real late telling Sera Bilizikian stories. Fuck, I miss her a lot sometimes Chris. We all do. That girl left a lot of people pretty heart broken.
“But you know what being on Mike’s boat made me think of, Chris? This is kind of funny. Remember that aggro kid from back in the day we used to call Dan Tranquillity? Sang in that band Insurgence and was always working on a million projects? Yeah, of course you do. You took that goofy picture of us dancing in the pit that time at No-Rio that ended up all over the place? Well I remember I was out in Brooklyn with him at his folks house one Friday night after a NYDAC meeting or something and we were listening to Conflict and Omega Tribe records and talking about our dreams for the future. We were both young super wide-eyed teenagers. That kid was always full of crazy ideas, man. He was really sharp, almost to the point of cutting up the people around him cause he didn’t know any better.
“But I just remember hanging out with him that night and him telling me that one day when he got older he was going to buy a boat and sail around the world. Get out there where the government couldn’t touch him and live free and wild. I even remember the look on his face as he was telling me. It left an impression, you know? He said it was the ultimate anarchist’s dream, to live on a boat and sail around the world out of the clutches of the law. And I never forgot that, it always seemed like such an amazing and completely out of reach fantasy. It didn’t seem possible. I mean, what the fuck did we know about sailing boats growing up in the big city, right? Last I heard Dan was still living in Brooklyn and working as a truck driver. It’s been a whole bunch of years since we’ve even sat down and talked. I wonder if he even remembers that conversation.
“So there I was with Mike Antipathy, all of a sudden it’s the year 2003, we’re sitting on the deck of his freshly caulked boat with our shirts off in the hot San Diego sun, and we discover we both have the same tattoo even though the guy grew up in Ohio. It’s that circle of wheat design from the Antisect album cover, you know the one. That was the first tattoo I ever got, Chris. I was fifteen years old and it was a rainy Summer night and a bunch of us were sitting in a room in Kevin and Tree’s old space at 6th Street Squat. It’s funny because I got that tattoo before I’d ever even SEEN food growing. For real. Never in my wildest dreams did I figure I’d end up working on farms all over the place and teaching other people how to grow food. I just really liked the symbol because there was something so simple about it. So basic: wheat. You know what I’m saying, Chris?
“All our tattoos are just like dark blue stories. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after all these years, man. They’re like pictures to mark our trail to remind us where we’ve been so that if we have to make our way through old territory we don’t end up lost somewhere along the way.  And they hold memories under all that ink. I think I’ve seen half a dozen tattoos on different people in memory of Sera Bilizikian. Siboan in West Phili got a memorial tattoo on her thigh that says “Born to Run” cause Sera was such a geek about Springsteen. “Tramps like us...” right?
“I don’t remember who it was, but someone told me that after Sera killed herself they couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that she had just gotten a bunch of new ink on her body. They knew it was an irrational thing to be fixated on, but they just couldn’t understand how Sera could have jumped off a bridge after just getting a bunch of new tattoos. What the fuck, you know? I agreed it was a little irrational, but I really also understood. I don’t know how it is for you Chris, but I know that if I want a new tattoo it’s like a sign that I’m doing really well, that I’m inspired enough by something to want to mark my body for life and remember it.
“Human beings are so obsessed with permanence, of holding on to the past. It’s definitely part of the attraction of tattoos. We all so badly want to hold onto our memories and make them important because that’s what gives us a solid foundation to build on when we’re trying to figure out who we are and where we fit in this crazy world. So I guess Sera’s suicide just rubbed it in her face that no matter how many friendships you build and stories you write and photos you take and tattoos you get --you’re still going to fucking die, and that’ll be the end of that.
“Shit, I don’t know, Chris: it’s all what we want to make of it. Human beings have the amazing ability to fill things with meaning and have the same amount of power to suck the meaning right back out of those same things. In the end it’s really up to us. Like if I want to make Punk Rock my religion and go around quoting old Clash songs like scripture and make Joe Strummer a fucking saint in my church of an ’82 Toyota pick-up that I sleep in every night as I drive across the country, why the hell not? You only live once: why not make things meaningful? Why not actively PUT meaning into things? It’s all in our heads anyway. We can change it later if we want. We’re “anarchists” right? – none of this shit is written in stone. If I want to turn my life into a big action adventure story where I’m the main character and every time I show up in a new town it’s the beginning of a new chapter, there’s nothing stopping me. Fuck it, right? Why not make things interesting while we’re around.
“You know what’s funny? When I get really depressed everything seems totally meaningless. I can’t even find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Nothing seems to have any purpose. But then on the other hand, when I get really manic everything has way TOO MUCH meaning. I start thinking the radio is talking to me and shit. I’m feel like I’m the most important guy around -- that the fate of the world rests on my every breath. It’s so overwhelming. I guess these days I try really hard to find a balance somewhere in the middle of the two that still leaves me solid and grounded but still feeling good about myself.
“I’ll tell you a secret, Chris: I play this little game everyday where I pretend that my actions really do have a big effect on world around me. Like that thing they say about the butterfly flapping its wings causing a storm on the other side of the world because of the shifting wind currents. Sometimes I actually believe it’s true and sometimes I just play the game for the fun of it – I pretend like I’m important. I pretend that every time I smile at a stranger, it really is going to help set of a chain reaction that’s going to keep someone from getting shot a couple blocks away later in the week. I pretend that those flyers I wheatpaste or stencils I go throw up with my friends or my presence at that anti-war demo in the big city is actually going to tip the scales and lead us on a faster path to getting those motherfuckers out of the White House. I pretend like everything I write in my little stories or in columns for your zine is really going to inspire a whole bunch of people who read them to feel strong emotions and take action in their daily lives and make this world a better place. Even if it’s all total bullshit and in the end my life is about as significant as dryer lint, it gets me out of bed in the morning.
“I guess if everyone felt empowered like that, or even pretended to be empowered like that, even some of the time -- the world would look very different. It’s that MEANING thing. If a bunch of us decide to put meaning into something at the same time, then more people usually join in, and then interesting things usually start happening. There’s power in numbers. And there are a lot of us. It all just starts with a bunch of dreams. So if I want to believe that me and that guy Antipathy are bonded for life because we both have the same tattoo on our arms from some obscure early ‘80’s British peace punk band,  that’s just going to make my life all the more interesting and add another chapter to my adventure story. And if I want to believe that me and my friends are all a bunch of rebel pirates out there fighting against the monolithic power structure in the sea of the global economy to the tune of “The Guns of Brixton”—fuck it, you know? You only live once, might as well make it interesting.
    “Okay, I think I can write the column now, Chris. Sorry I’m such a scatterbrain and I’m always so late in getting it in. I guess I have my head out in dreamworld too much of the time. Mad love. ”

Sascha Scatter
scatter@theicarusproject.net
http://www.theicarusproject.net