Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Preview: How To Use $180 And Social Media To Travel The Country For A Year

Amy Bugbee wrote a great travelogue for issue #3. This article is from the forthcoming book Politics, Art, Religion, Revolution or the suffering and celebration of life in America, available in November 2011. Look for more info at: http://www.ayearatthewheel.com/

"My husband Shane and I set out on a yearlong road trip with $180 in our pockets. We had no savings account, no credit cards, no back up. Our only safety net was the Internet. With our dog and turtle in the back seat of our Chevy Blazer, we left with a few blankets, a bag of baking gear, a suitcase full of clothes. Most importantly, one lap- top computer, an HD Video camera and a donated digital audio recorder."

Read the rest of Amy's story....http://feral-tech.com/amy_bugbee.pdf

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OBMAG #3 Preview- Hoodoo:Open Source Religion

Hoodoo: Open Source Religion

Thanks to American popular music, many people have heard the terms “hoodoo,” “juju” and “mojo," but few understand what they really mean. For modern, white, middle class R&B and blues fans, they conjure up exotic images of the Deep South, some shadowy world of African-American spirituality that they don't really "get." Movie fans don't know what “mojo” is, but thanks to Austin Powers, they know they want it. Throughout the history of American popular media, stereotypes abound, ranging from the comical witchdoctor act of Screamin' Jay Hawkins to “Tia Dalma”, the black-toothed, dreadlocked swamp priestess in “Pirates of the Caribbean 2”. But what is hoodoo, really?

In a world of hierarchical and regimented spiritual dogma, hoodoo is a feral cat. It lives wild on the outskirts of American religious culture, thriving and propagating out of sight, right in the back yard of organized religion. Organized religion might catch a glimpse of it from the corner of its eye. Organized religion might fear hoodoo. Hoodoo might even live in the same house, as organized religion - it might let organized religion stroke its tail, but it will never wear its collar. Hoodoo is free.

Hoodoo is not Voodoo.  Voodoo is an organized religion. Voodoo and its variants practiced in Haiti and in Louisiana, are descended from the West African Vodun religion. Hoodoo, on the other hand, is an amalgam of African and European folk magic traditions, not a religion, per se. Hoodoo can be a noun or a verb. You can "do" hoodoo or "make" hoodoo.

The iconoclastic writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston wrote extensively on hoodoo. Even with her deep understanding of hoodoo, Hurston herself mischaracterized hoodoo as being synonymous with Voodoo in her 1935 classic Mules and Men:

“Hoodoo, or Voodoo, as pronounced by the whites, is burning with a flame in America, with all the intensity of a suppressed religion. It has its thousands of secret adherents. It It adapts itself like Christianity to its locale, reclaiming some of its borrowed characteristics to itself, such as fire-worship as signified in the Christian church by the altar and the candles and the belief in the power of water to sanctify as in baptism.
Belief in magic is older than writing. So nobody knows how it started.
The way we tell it, hoodoo started way back there before everything. Six days of magic spells and mighty words and the world with its elements above and below was made. And now God is leaning back taking a seventh day rest. When the eighth day comes around. He'll start to making new again.”
As Hurston states, nobody does know the true origin of hoodoo.  There is even debate about the etymology. Some say it is derived from the word “hu'du'ba” (magical retribution), which was brought to America by African slaves of the Hausa tribe. Others claim that it is Irish origin- from the Gaelic Uath Dubh (pronounced h-úŏ doo)- meaning a malevolent being or unlucky person. Perhaps it is a primordial sound, like Om, a verbalization of something common to human experience, transcending etymological pigeonholeing.

Some historical facts are known about hoodoo. The combination of African and European folk magic was born on the plantations of the Antebellum South and later grew and spread among sharecroppers and the rural poor. Later, as the U.S. became industrialized, hoodoo took on a more urban flavor and became more commercialized. According to Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by Catherine Yronwode (pronounced "Ironwood"), many of the Old Testament and Hebrew mystical elements were mingled into hoodoo by the Jewish-owned chemists whose mail order beauty and healthcare businesses served the black community. "Cat" Yronwode, who also owns and operates "Lucky Mojo Curio Company" writes: "... the agents who sold these items for manufacturer-distributors like Valmor-King, Lucky Heart, Hi-Hat and so forth were usually part-time beauticians and hoodoo root workers. They would come to your house to fix your hair (selling you the cosmetics and hair preparations they had bought wholesale) and they would also do psychic consultations and perform rootwork and conjuration, using the curios available from the same sources. They kept a stock of goods on hand, but they also carried their company's retail cosmetics catalogues and curio catalogues with them, and you could order both types of products through them and have the items drop-shipped directly to your home. "  This also explains some of the traditional importance of the beauty parlor and barber shops in black and immigrant communities.

For some, hoodoo might be seen as a spiritual pyramid scheme, but in some ways, hoodoo is analogous to open source software- it is a spiritual program that shares common source code but is not proprietary. It can be adapted to run on any religious operating system, and it can add functionality not normally allowed by religious programmers. One church, priest or practitioner does not own it. Hoodoo can co-exist along side Voodoo, Catholicism, Protestant beliefs or other folk traditions. It is a religious “hack”- a tool to modify the source code of religion and make it work for the spiritual hacker. Hoodoo practitioners save prayers to God for big-picture matters of salvation. Day-to-day matters of love, luck and finances are all matters for direct spiritual action through spell casting, spiritual cleansing and “rootwork”.

A December 28th, 2010, article in the Wall Street Journal brought attention to the recent rebirth in interest in hoodoo, which they attribute partially to tough economic times and partially to the rise of Internet retailing. The article points out that...“Today's hoodoo revival is again being driven primarily by white retailers, and that has some blacks criticizing the commercialization of ancient rituals for a quick profit. “ Historically though, internet marketing is just an extension of the mail-order curio business that supplied practitioners on the early 20th century.

Hoodoo is an interesting combination of ancient traditions and modern technology. The revival has some echoes of the “New Age” craze of the 80's and 90's, but the multi-cultural roots and blue-collar heritage give it decidedly more dynamic character and sense of humor than the crystals and chimes bourgeois-Zen set. It's rituals reflect it's heritage- sweeping and scrubbing floors, growing and harvesting wild plants, preparing charms, known as “mojo hands” or “gris-gris”.
One of the most important elements of hoodoo, like any magical system, is that of personal empowerment through ritual. These rituals, although rooted in tradition, are an art and the practitioners are artists who attempt to take direct action on their spiritual lives. Critics and skeptics may laugh at the idea of burning candles or carrying a "High-John" root to attract money or using magnetic toy Scotty-dogs in a love spell. However, humans live in a semantic and symbolic space, and the reality tunnel of the individual is defined by their belief. One individual may feel better about their life when they buy "Fair Trade" coffee, another may feel safer with a gun in their house. Humans are fetishistic by nature, whether the "Toby" is a crucifix or an iphone.

As technology pushes humans into a more and more Korzybskian realm where the map becomes reality than the territory becomes something conceptual, hoodoo seems more real than ever. In a wooded area outside of Forestville, CA., Cat Yronwode and her crew at Lucky Mojo keep the tradition alive. In strip-malls and bodegas, beauty parlors and back yards, rootworkers and conjurors are hacking reality with all of the human senses.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Revolution will televise itself.

OBSOLETE #3 - Out Now!
Ask your indie bookseller to carry OBSOLETE!

Read Issues #1 & #2 online...

You can now read issues #1 & #2 online at ScribD....

Download the front page of OBMAG #3

Download a pdf of the front page of OBMAG! #3 here: feral-tech.com/obmag_inside_cover.pdf

More previews to come....

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

At Last!! Issue #3 is out!

 Better late than never-  OBSOLETE! #3 is on the street,  with a great selection of original material. 

This issue includes an exclusive interview with Cory Doctorow,  a feature article on Kal Spelletich of KalTek and an amazing list of contributing writers,  all looking at the idea of "Feral Technology". Writers and artists include:

Alissa Bader has dedicated herself to spending a lifetime hanging out with those people her mother once warned her about. Alissa also purchased her first package of bacon, ever, last May. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

Tim Beckett grew up in western Canada, primarily Uranium City, Saskatchewan and Edmonton, Alberta. He fled to Montreal at age 19 and has lived in London and New York ever since. He has been employed as a tree-planter, TV researcher, housepainter, web developer and pretty much anything else he can get. He is working on a novel ‘Uranium City Return’ about going back to his now nearly empty hometown. He is currently managing editor of Sensitive Skin Magazine.

Amy Bugbee was born in a part of Chicagoland that was built by Al Capone. Calumet City was the original Sin City before Vegas came along. She was raised by a fireman and a librarian, so she is morbid and well read. For nearly 15 years she has been married to the biggest trouble maker in the underground, Shane Bugbee, and the two of them have been wreaking havoc ever since. She is a writer, photographer, and baker who lives on the Washington Coast with her husband, dog, and turtle.

Shane Bugbee: “I’ve done a lot over many years and have survived.  Recently I was told that I’m intense and a loose cannon. Quite often folks are afraid of me, and for good reason.   Presently wrapping up a book and film that combines the year my wife and I spent on the road with the head trip that is being run out of a small minnesota town for siding with school shooters and being friends with anton lavey.   Our upcoming book will be in stores this November... it is called, Politics,Art,Religion,Revolution: the suffering and celebration of life in America.  

 Ray Cathode is an artist/illustrator living on the rocky coast of the great state of Maine (U.S.A.). He studied under Karl Ferdinand Braun, then later on at the Academy of Carlo Pittore. His earlier output of art was very academian; then after a tragic accident severely damaged his drawing hand, his art took on a darker quality that is cruder in execution, yet richer in meaning. He is currently hidden deep beneath the snow, in his underground studio, churning out strange images with his mighty vorpal pen.

MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick was born in the Bronx in 1967.  She holds a B.A. in English from Manhattan College.  Published in: Make Room for Dada,  Mount Vernon Inquirer, Mount Vernon Today, Westchester Times Tribune, Mount Vernon Independent, Contemporary Literary Horizon, and MoonLit.  Anthologized in: “Blood Beats in Four Square Miles.”  Readings at: The Back Fence, ABC NoRio, Centerfold Coffeehouse, AC-BAW Arts Center, Mount Vernon Public Library, Lola’s Teahouse, and Blue Door Gallery.  She lives with her husband and three boys in Mount Vernon, NY.

W. Joe Hoppe grew up the rust belt city of Jackson, Michigan but has lived in Austin, TX for the last twenty years with artist Polly Monear and their son Max. He has published one book-length collection of poetry, _Galvanized_ (www.daltonpublishing.com). Along with teaching English and Creative Writing at Austin Community College, he enjoys writing and wrenching on old Mopars. W. Joe’s 1971 Dodge Truck runs on sweet lady propane--hopefully you’ll read all about that in a future issue of OBSOLETE!

Wister D Lamb III is a (photoshop) stooge for the media priests. Living in North Houston, TX, Working in high fashion and low advertising in NY for 19 years, he has recently escaped into the realm of achieving feral otherness with his personal friends profile pics on FaceBook. His piece is from a series of about 200 people he actually knows personally.  

Sean Madden darkly surrealistic paintings and drawings have been exhibited and published throughout the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. His work is reminiscent of the underground comics scene he was influenced by as a juvenile delinquent on the streets of Buffalo, New York in the 60’s and 70’s. For years he provided pen and ink illustrations for horror and sci-fi publishers.   Currently, he provides illustrations for the Vancouver- based urban clothing company Die Constant (www.dieconstant.com), and exhibits with a growing list of galleries and private collectors. He has recently published a partly autobiographical compilation of his pen and ink works entitled “Beyond the Sun: The Insane Pen and Ink Art of Sean Madden.” 

“Darius “Qojak” Carr is an artist living in Tama, Iowa. Darius writes, makes art, tattoos and takes photographs when he is not trying to make a living working at the casino on the Meskwaki settlement.

 Stephen Sweny is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute and a veteran illustrator. Steve’s work has been featured in The New York Times, National Lampoon, Forbes, GQ and many other publications. He is represented by Donna Rosen artists.