Tag Archives: eco-friendly

Support the ALF

Rikki w/ Stikki supports the ALF….

…And she convinced me too, as well!

ALF?  you ask.  Isn’t that the alien puppet from that horrible ’80s show?  Well, yes, but here is an introduction to who the Animal Liberation Front is and why they do what they do.

Check out Bite Back Magazine for an extensive list of worldwide actions.

Beyond that, I highly recommend reading Terrorists or Freedom Fighters:  Reflections on the Liberation of Animals, edited by Steven Best and Anthony Nocella, II, if you haven’t already.

Undercover Stockyard Investigations, PART 3/3

AND HERE IS THE (THRILLING?) FINALE!!

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It’s a small yellow pickup with an open-topped trailer attachment.  I recognize it from a video on the sanctuary’s website, which showed a sheep in horrendous pain; the trailer was so packed that a cow had one of her feet on top of the sheep’s face.  Her eyes bulged from the pressure.  She bleated in agony.  This time the trailer is filled solely with sheep, about a dozen of them crowded and huddled together.  The truck exits the grounds and turns left.  After waiting until the truck is about a hundred yards away, we follow.

I tell Frank about what I saw.  When I talk about the little black lamb, and how heartbreaking it was, he says something that makes it even worse.  “Next time just take off with her.  We’ll take her to the sanctuary.”

“Are you serious?”  My heart, sinking.  My spirit, another little death among millions.

“Fuck yeah.”

“But that’ll compromise my ability to return there, won’t it?”

“Maybe, maybe not.  Who gives a fuck?  Too good to pass up.”

I sink into the seat.  “Fuck.”

“No, it’s alright.  In the long run, it’s probably for the best.”

I shake my head, biting a fingernail.  I’m sick of the fucking long run.  At what point does the long run become now?  Even more importantly, at what point does the long run move into the past?

The yellow truck is about five cars ahead of us, waiting for the light to go green so we can turn left and merge onto the freeway.  “I wanna see where this guy’s going,” Frank says.  “If it’s as fucked up as I think it is, and we can get footage, we could maybe shut down his whole damn operation.”  The light turns green.  Cars and trucks in front of the yellow truck–our mark–inch forward, some of the U-turning like tortoises with sticky feet.  The mark makes it through.

“Come on, motherfuckers!” I cry.  With three cars in front of us, the light turns yellow.  We have to make this light.  It’s a busy intersection, and if we have to wait through another cycle the truck will have a good two-minute head start.  If he gets off the freeway or switches to another one within a few miles we’ll lose him.  The light turns red just as the car in front of us hits the turn.  We’re ten feet back.  Frank guns the engine and rockets through the intersection and onto the freeway ramp with a throaty roar of the diesel engine.  I laugh, vamped up, almost delirious with excitement.  Oh Christ please I hope a cop didn’t see us.  We’d be toast for sure, the tailing job finished before it really even started.

But no.  We speed onto the 60 and find the truck, hold back several cars in the next lane over.  But this becomes difficult, because the fucker is going so slow.  Eventually we have no choice but to fall in right behind them (we can now see there are two men in the truck cabin) in the far right lane.  The fastest they ever go is about 60 miles per hour.  Which is good for the animals, I suppose–better than 70, anyway–but bad for tailing someone.  The only thing working in our favor is that it’s dark.  Our headlights are the only thing clearly visible.  After 30 or 40 minutes we’ve changed freeways twice (a common occurrence anywhere in southern California) and we’re on the 210 North, the Pasadena Freeway.  It seems we’ve passed the point of no return.  After following them this long, it makes no sense to turn back around.  We’ve come this damn far.  It would make all the time spent so far a total waste.  We’re in for the long haul.

Frank talks about his views on kids, a subject on which we immediately click.  He doesn’t have any.  Doesn’t want any.  He’s quite a misanthrope (hence a kindred spirit) and loathes that there are so damn many humans on the planet.  He is vasectomized–a heroic act in my opinion.  At this point I’m only 21, and already I’ve been thinking about getting one.  The only thing that stops me at this point is my doctor parents, who think it’s a wretched idea.  They don’t understand that if I ever want kids–highly unlikely–I’ll just ADOPT.  Imagine that!   Helping some poor unwanted kid who’s already alive, rather than creating yet another hungry mouth and shitting anus.  My mom says any doctor who would perform a vasectomy on a 21-year-old would be a hack, and might hack off parts I want to keep!  I have heard it’s difficult for just about anyone in their 20s, let alone early 20s, to get a vasectomy.  This, along with my omnipresent malaise, and monetary concerns, delay me.  But I do eventually get one, just a few days after turning 25.  One month, in fact, before beginning a four-year prison sentence in Illinois for marijuana trafficking.

Frank expresses a brilliant idea; why the fuck do people get their foolish and selfish breeding subsidized by the government in the form of tax breaks??  It’s further encouraging overpopulation and the straining (and draining) of public and social resources–e.g. schools, roads, and welfare programs.  Instead they should reward people for not having kids, for being responsible in this hyper-crowded, hyper-polluted, hyper-destructive country.  It is another dream of mine to someday open a free spay-neuter clinic–for humans.  How awesome would that be?  It would certainly attract a lot of publicity, that much we can agree on!

Frank begins to worry that we’re being too obvious, that the driver of the yellow truck has caught on and will lead us astray.  So Frank pulls a daring and clever evasive (or rather pseudo-evasive) maneuver.  As we approach an exit he makes like he’s getting off the freeway.  He actually merges onto the ramp, on the other side of the widening shoulder from the slow lane.  He drops his speed to 40.  The yellow truck is now several hundred yards in front of us.  At the last possible second, Frank wrenches the wheel to the left.  Onto the shoulder.  He slams on the brakes and we crunch to a stop on the gravel and dirt and detritus.  Then he kills the engine and we sit in darkness for some 30 seconds.  Letting them get a little ahead.  There are no freeway interchanges for a long time, so that’s not a concern.  The only problem is if they take an exit.  But it’s a risk worth taking, because we can’t have them certain they’re being followed.

Within a few minutes we catch up to them again.  Frank tries to hang back but it’s even harder now because they’ve dropped to a consistent speed of 55, sometimes even 50 mph.  Seems they know we’ve returned.  “If they pull over,” Frank says with deadpan resolve, perhaps in a fugue of angry determination, perhaps thinking more clearly than ever, “I’m gonna stop behind them.  I might punch out the driver and take the truck with all the animals.  Then you’ll follow me to the sanctuary in this.”

I stare at him.  “Are you serious?”

“Yeah!”

I swallow.  The idea is scary, but at the same time exhilarating.  It would be so incredible to  be part of saving so many animals in one fell swoop–future legal ramifications be damned!  “Okay then.”

But they never do pull over.  We end up following them for over 75 minutes, including five freeway changes.  Off the Interstate, northeast of L.A. among the high-walled scrub brush bluffs, they turn left into a residential area, and we follow.  Now they know we’re tailing them.  The street is narrow, barely wide enough for two Kias.

“If he stops,” Frank says, “I want you to quick jump out with the camcorder and climb on the back of the trailer.  Film how crowded and miserable the sheep are.”

I’m anxious but pumped.  I wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans.  “Alright.”

But the yellow truck goes up to a house at the top.  Another, bigger pickup pulls out into the street once the trailer is past.  This new big black pickup blocks our path.  It just sits there.  “Well there ya go,” Frank says.  “Must’ve called ahead to his homies once he noticed we were following.”  I can’t believe the nonchalance in his voice.

“What are we gonna do?”

He wiggles his lips, as if trying to gum a piece of food without opening his mouth, thinking hard.  He pulls onto a side street, turns around.  We drive back down the hill.  Park behind a little Mexican restaurant.  Ironically we’re fewer than ten miles from the animal sanctuary; we started the drive some 70 miles away.  We wait 15 minutes and then cruise back up toward the house.  We park and get out.  There’s a little gully on the right, filled with brush and vegetation, that infamous desert-ish chapparel that makes southern California a veritable tinder box.

Staring up at the house, we crouch there and wonder what to do.  The gully slopes upward at the far end to the front of their property.  We’ve come all this way.  I’m bristling with nervous energy, but adrenaline courses through my bloodstream like big fat salmon shoving their way upriver.  I want to do something.  Concerns for my own safety have disappeared.  I’m in the action zone.  In terms of fear and worry, once you get past a certain threshold, you begin to feel invincible; the hard part is conquering that first stretch.

Frank finally speaks.  “I hate to say it, but the best thing to do would probably be ta call it a night.”

I frown, scanning the area.  “Why don’t we sneak through there.”  I gesture to the gully, thick with vegetation.  “Hide in the bushes at the top and see what we can see.”

“It’s really dark.  A flashlight would give us away.”

“Our eyes will adjust.  Plus there’s a decent amount of moonlight.”  I do not want to turn tail, so to speak, and leave.  70 miles of following, all that diesel burned–we should do everything we possibly can.

“It’s just not a good idea.”  I can tell he’s reluctant to leave as well–this is, after all, the guy who earlier wanted to knock out the driver and steal his truck!–but he’s trying to do what’s smart, rather than that which satisfies our angry guts.  “We know he’s got his homies up there.  They could have guns.  Even if they don’t, there’s only two of us.  But at least now we know where their farm is.”

I nod, disappointed.  But he probably is right.  We begin the long drive back to Chino, to where my car is parked.  I can’t shake the disturbing and horrific images of the day from my head.  At least now, though, I don’t have to trust others when they say how badly “food” animals are abused.  How they live in squalor.  Because now I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

We stop at Denny’s on the way back for coffee and chow; it’s close to 11 P.M. and we really haven’t eaten since lunch.  We’re both vegan, of course.  But tonight, after this day, I take extra care to make absolutely certain that our veggie burgers are 100 percent free of animal products.  It’s the least I can do.  The least.

But is that really enough–or even close to enough, given the amount of suffering?  I don’t think so.  I just don’t….

That night I dream of flaming arrows, of shooting them over fences.  Of fire.  Cleansing, beautiful fire of the just.  The just plain fucking fed up.

One of the most important and mesmerizing books you could possibly read if you are an activist, whether your tactics are above- or under-ground.

Derrick Jensen’s Thoughts?

 

Saw Derrick in Berkeley the other night and came home to see a picture I took with this expression, and just had to meme-ify it  🙂

Highlight of the night (aside from his hopping up from the book-signing table to give me a big hug and say how happy he is that I’m free!) was when he said (paraphrased):

A lot of people tell me they can’t imagine living without the internet, or cars, or take your pick of industrial technologies.  But when was the last time you heard someone say, “I can’t imagine living without polar bears.  Or salmon.  Or migratory songbirds.  Or a livable planet.  When was the last time YOU said something like that?

So very powerful, so very true.

 

Undercover Stockyard Investigations, PART 1/3

I decided to post the whole narrative nonfiction essay about my experiences doing undercover investigations about a half dozen times with an LA-area group.  I was going to try to get it published, but I’d rather just get it out there now 🙂

(disclaimer:  I wrote this by hand two years ago at the beginning of my prison bit, and it is largely unedited.  Forgive me any trespasses of grammar or narration!)

————————————————————————————————————————–

Frank pulls over to the shoulder of the two-lane road in his big diesel Ford pickup, tires roiling up clouds of fine dust.  “Here,” he says, passing me a handheld camcorder.  I flip the screen open with the CANON insignia on the back.  Push the red button to start recording.  “I’m gonna go back up the road and park.  Call me when you’re ready, or if you get in any trouble.  Run if anyone sees you.”

I nod, swallowing like I have a mouthful of cotton.  What am I getting myself into?

“These guys are fucking bastards,” Frank says.  He has an ever-so-slight lisp.  “Try to see if they’re leading live ones into the truck.  That’s a huge violation right there.”

“Alright.”  I step out of the truck, down onto the dirt.  The wind immediately slams into me, pressing my Rolling Stones-tongue shirt against my stomach, then flapping it like a flag high up on its pole.  I have to shove the door hard to get it shut.

“Good luck,” Frank says at the last second.  “Be careful!”

Now we’re separated by glass and steel.  He swings the truck around and speeds off down the road, belching black diesel soot.  Now I’m alone.

I hurry into the midst of a row of tall trees with thick vegetation along their entire length; they look like enormous green missiles.  I move at a crouch toward the stockyard.  The air is horrendous, suffocating with the stench of thousands upon thousands of cows’ shit–even with the high winds.  I’m in Chino, just a little east of the Los Angeles County line in San Bernardino County.  This area happens to have the highest concentration of dairy cows anywhere in the country.  People who make money from the exploitation of animals are almost universally loathe to have their inner workings exposed.  Two years from now it is a slaughterhouse about two miles from here that gets shut down because meat tainted with e. coli that ends up in fast food joints and elementary schools is traced back to there.

My heart thumps hard against my ribcage and my breaths come short and jagged.  But I don’t want to let Frank down.  More importantly, I don’t want to let the animals down.  If I can take this risk of trespassing and dealing with angry gun-toting rednecks but have a chance at helping or saving someone’s life, then it’s well worth it.  I turn right, toward the mountains in the north, and move along the flank of the property.

Frank’s a badass motherfucker.  He works as the head of investigations for a farm-animal sanctuary north of L.A.  It is truly a special place.  The turkeys, chickens, pigs, cows, goats, sheep, and three crabby emus, all rescued from situations of abuse and/or neglect, are treated as friends instead of food.  Tours of the sanctuary are given.  People get to interact with the animals and see how sweet, affectionate (aside from the solipsistic emus), and intelligent everybody is.  The pigs adore having their bellies rubbed, and will grunt and kick their legs appreciably.  Turkeys love having their chests scratched, and will stand there staring at you for many minutes if you’ll keep it up.  Much like dogs.  Lots of kids go to the sanctuary on school field trips, which is great–they’re the ones who most need to experience these things, the ones who are most vulnerable to the toxicity and negative health effects of animal foods.

When Frank was in his early 20s–about my age–he spent a year in prison in Orange County for planning to burn down a slaughterhouse.  That alone makes him a hero and a martyr in my book.

I pull even with the big shit-filled two acre feedlot circumscribed by cylindrical steel cross-beams.  Scanning the area with the camera, I see that all the cows are way at the back, feeding on a mixture of corn, grain, and soybeans (a totally unhealthy and unnatural diet for grass-evolved ruminants that makes them sick and in turn does the same to the humans who eat their flesh and milk).  But it’s cheap–got to have that gallon of milk for under a couple bucks, those cheap steaks!  Now I find the truck with the big open-topped steel crate on back.  Two cows lie, unmoving, 20 feet behind it.  This is the truck that we spotted from the road–a renderer.  The driver goes around all the stockyards and picks up dead animals (and sometimes not-quite-dead ones).  He then takes them to a rendering plant, where they’re all thrown in giant vats and boiled up to help make all sorts of products–candle wax, soap, gelatin for stuff like candy bars and Jell-o, chicken feed, even pet food.  Yep, pet food.  And here’s the real kicker:  euthanized shelter animals also go to rendering plants.  A couple L.A.-area activist friends of mine followed a truck with several hundred lethally-injected dogs and cats from the pound and watched them dumped out at a rendering facility.  That means not only could someone’s pet have gone to feed that dead chicken on your plate, but that your dog’s bowl could very well contain boiled bits of other dogs and cats.  Theoretically, your current pet could be eating rendered bits of your euthanized former pet!  Especially if you feed them highly commercial brands like Iams.  Yum!

Waiting to be picked up by the rendering truck, on the way to the pet food containers…

I zoom the camera in on the cows lying behind the truck.  They do indeed appear still, dead.  The driver is probably inside the nearby trailer, chit-chatting with the owner.  I dial Frank on my cell phone.  “Hey.  There’s not really much goin on here.  Two cows behind the truck, but I’m pretty sure they’re dead.”

“Alright.  Go to where I dropped you off, I’ll be there in a couple minutes.”  After he  picks me up, we follow the rendering truck around for a few miles.  We’re hoping to catch him picking up an animal who is still alive, because that’s a violation of the California Downed-Animal Act, which carries a decent fine.  The stench coming back at us is indescribable; dozens of animals in various stages of rot.  Between that and all the cow shit, I am painfully nauseated.  Passing a dairy farm, with an open gate, we break off and pull over in front, next to the house of the people who own the place.  Three baby cows lay in a heap of limbs, dead.  Just off to the side of the first row of what look to be veal crates:  tiny boxes that male calves from the dairy industry live in for about six months before being slaughtered.  The boxes are so small they can’t even turn around.  This is so their young flesh will be as tender as possible for smarmy cunts with a taste for the flesh of babies.  But this is dairy land.  “Are those veal crates?” I ask.

Frank brought veggie burgers and soy hot dogs from a vegan fast food joint in Pasadena on the way out here.  He takes a big bite of a ketchup-slopped hot dog.  I don’t know how he can eat with those poor baby’s corpses in sight.  “No.  Not veal.  Dairy.”

Dairy?  What do you mean?”

He speaks around a mouthful of half-masticated food.  “They use those crates for females too.  When dairy cows have male babies they’re taken away to make veal.  When they have females, they’re often kept in fuckin crates like that for bout the first few months.  Easier to feed.  Give em medicine.  Don’t hafta round em up.”

“I never even fucking knew that!”

He shrugs.  “Not many people do.”

I shake my head, shocked and disgusted.  There is no limit to what people will do to these helpless creatures.  Even worse, there is no limit to the apathy (perhaps the most insidious of all emotions, worse than plain evil because it is hyper-contagious) of those who enjoy the products of this cruelty.  I try to eat my veggie burger, but I feel ill.  It seems somehow disrespectful to the young dead cows to be ignoring them, sitting here in the air-conditioned truck eating.  But then I remind myself there are undoubtedly worse sights and sensations to come.  And if I’m going to effectively play the part I must find a way to detach myself.  This is good practice.  I stuff bites of burger and greasy French fries into my maw, wipe my mouth and fingers on a wad of napkins.  Trying to pretend the bodies aren’t laying out there.  Just waiting for the rendering truck to come snatch them up.

“Alright,” Frank says, guzzling from a can of soda, “let’s go check it out.”  We climb out of the truck and hurry through the open gate onto the property.  Each row of crates extends for 60 or 70 yards, each wooden box right up against another.  The rows extend far back into the distance.  Two steel buckets are attached to the outside of each crate; one for food and one for water.  Several of these buckets roll on the ground in the wind, blown off their boxes.  This means several individuals are without either food or water–for who knows how long.  I snap still pictures of the dead babies, the detached buckets, the rows  of crates.  I approach the first crate and look inside.  A small female calf lies with her front legs curled under her chest.  Immediately I take a picture.  Her eyes are so big, moist, the epitome of innocence.  She is perfectly, utterly helpless.

Look at the number on her tag–23,321. I don’t want to imagine what that means.

No doubt still she yearns for her mother.  The separation of mother from calf is traumatic on both individuals; the mom bellows for days.  Dairy cows have to be kept constantly impregnated so they’ll keep producing milk–like other mammals, like humans, they only lactate for a certain stretch of time after they’ve given birth.  Every bit of milk or cheese or dairy of any sort contributes to forced impregnation, kidnapping, infanticide.

The dairy calf, she notices me standing there, and immediately becomes agitated.  She rises shakily to her feet.  Backs up as much as she can in the tiny crate, which is only a couple feet.  “It’s okay, sweetie,” I lilt.  But she just whips her eyes around, looking for a way to get away from me.  My heart breaks for her inevitable fate.  I can’t help you, but hopefully I can help create a world where your grandchildren won’t be abused and exploited and killed.

Frank and I move on.  Our next objective is to put me into the belly of the beast.  Inside the grounds of a large stockyard, and an auction there.  But I can’t exactly waltz in with a camcorder in hand.  It’s time to go truly undercover.  We drive to a nearby Stater Bros. supermarket–across the street from where my Honda Accord is parked at Carl’s Jr.  Frank injects himself in the stomach for his Type 1 diabetes.  Then he comes over to my side of the truck and we stand at my open door.  He takes out a black electronic box that would fit inside a pack of cigarettes, along with a jumble of wires.  Then a big pair of black shades.  I put those on first.  They have two several-foot wires running out the back of the sunglasses’ cotton tie that keep them from falling off.  This makes it so the wires run down my back..  Invisible to onlookers.  The wires come out the bottom of my T-shirt and hook to the tiny black box.  This goes in my pocket.  When we push RECORD on the box, it films everything I see with an invisible camera in the black plastic between the two lenses.  “Man, these things are awesome!”

“Yeah,” Frank says, “they’re pretty nifty.  Expensive, but useful.”  The auctions, he tells me, will be going on from about 3 to 5 P.M., so I should go to that for a while, and then surreptitiously wander around the premises to see if I can find any downed animals or other inappropriate conditions or violations.  “Have a story ready.  Pretend you’re there for your uncle or something looking at animals.”

“I got it,” I say, slinging my denim jacket on to ensure that the wires won’t be visible running down my back.  “I’m a good actor.”

“I’m gonna drop you off and go drive around the farms again, see if I can’t find anything.  Maybe fuck with the guy in the rendering truck.  Call me if there’s any problems.  Be careful.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Hopefully.

We drive up the street to the stockyard and he drops me off in the dirt parking lot.  I strut toward the barns and yards, trying to affect an air of indifferent confidence.  I pass a series of sheds and small bull pens.  Terrible porcine squealing and screaming emanates from one of the wooden structures.  I make a mental note to return.  Inside the main shed is where the auction takes place.  A set of concrete steps with aluminum bleacher seats on the left.  I take a seat up near the top.  A quick glance around reveals that of the 40-50 people seated, I’m one of the only whiteys here.  A fat guy in a wife-beater sweats bullets in front of me, effluviating sour B.O.  Thick coils of black fur stick out from under the sallow tank top on his back.  An older Latino in red and black flannel and jeans sits next to him.  They converse in hurried Spanish.  I tune it out, focusing on the auction.  A 20-foot steel fence stands five feet in front of the bleachers.  Beyond that is a ring with dirt and hay forming a thick layer on the ground.  In back of that are two wooden-planked walls, with a door on either side.  One of them opens and several sheep are ushered out by a guy with a long black rod with a whip at the end.  There’s another man inside with a similar implement who closes the door and forces the animals to move around the pen so people can see what they look like, how they move, before making bids.  Speakers up near the ceiling emanate a voice briefly describing the individuals–weight, age, etcetera–and the starting bid.

The terrified sheep flit around the pen, looking for an escape, trembling and jittery, eyes darting manically.  It makes me so sad, so angry, but I force myself to look on with detached interest.  I’m just checking out what’s available–my dad sent me here.  He’s interested in getting some animals for his back yard.  They bring out a horse with a badly injured leg; he limps reluctantly around the pen, and only when whipped and prodded.  He goes for cheap.  He’ll most likely be transported eventually to a horse slaughterhouse in Texas, one of only two or three such facilities in the country.  Horse meat is exported to France and Asia and other places for human consumption.  All kinds of animals are brought out; a gaggle of quacking geese, chickens, turkeys (I think of rubbing the turkeys’ chests at the sanctuary and rage roils and boils inside me.  I have glorious visions of waiting until night when the big barn is devoid of human and nonhuman life, and burning the fucker to the ground), goats, cows (with and without their calves).  One of the saddest moments is seeing a mother cow trying to position herself between her baby and the guy with the whip.  Their terror is palpable.  To think that people believe–or more likely delude themselves into believing–that farm animals are like automatons, that they don’t experience love and fear and affection and sadness and joy, is so ludicrous as to be insane.  Literally insane, as in completely out of touch with reality.

I’ve gotten a good amount of footage in here.  Time to wander the grounds and see what I can find.  Hopefully none of the workers get suspicious of me.  Remember, I’m just a curious potential buyer perusing the “products” they have to offer.  I stroll out back behind the sheds, where a giant series of bullpens stretch back a quarter mile.  Back here it’s all cows.  The wind is really whipping around, and kicks up the stinging mixture of treacherous alkaline soils and powderized shit.  Thank Earth I have the sunglasses.  Otherwise the wind would be stinging the hell out of my eyes.  But the poor cows, they are out in the open, exposed to the elements.  Unable to do anything about the searing sandy wind, tearing around.  I get a little closer to a large group of cows feeding at steel troughs filled with that omnipresent mixture of grains and soy.  The stuff that causes stomach lesions and horrible bloating that can literally explode their stomachs.  The cows back away from the bars.  Staring at me warily.  I’ve quickly learned that here they are totally afraid of all human interaction; I would be too.  Their behavior here is diametrically opposed to that of the cows at the sanctuary, where they’re treated with affection and respect, where they’re accustomed to positive human interaction.

I get right up against the fence and stare at them.  So many of these 1000-plus-pound animals in such a small space.  Dozens in each bullpen.  They are literally knee deep in their own squishy, sloppy excrement.  With the nitrous oxide, methane, and other pollutants that are so highly concentrated in the area from cow farts, burps, and shit, it’s no wonder the rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses are so high in local schoolchildren.

Exploiting animals doesn’t just hurt them; it hurts humans, especially children, and the environment too.

My Review of Igniting a Revolution Published!

The Peace Studies Journal has just released their latest issue, and they published my review of Igniting a Revolution:  Voices in Defense of the Earth, edited by Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella, II.  Check it out!

Peace Studies Journal

Please support them, they have a lot of cool stuff!  Here’s a direct link to my review in PDF.

Vasectomy! A Poem

When you’re tired of stressing about birth,
The solution is oh so plain to see;
No more rolling condoms on your girth–
Vasectomy!

She can stop taking those nasty pills,
Flushing hormones from her pee,
Making downstream animals ill:
Vasectomy!

But you don’t want it to burn when you piss.
I know, you’re worried about an STD!
Well, all I have to say is this–
Monogamy!

Stop putting such a burden on poor women.
Take on your own responsibility.
No more sperm in your semen swimmin–
Vasectomy!

No more, ‘Where’s my baby’s mama?’
No more abortion pleas.
No more Hitlers or Osamas–
Vasectomy!

Overpopulation is the world’s bane.
To global life it is a curse.
Don’t worry about the procedure’s pain,
You’ve felt so much worse.

It’s nothing like a kidney stone,
Really not a big deal.
Nothing like a broken bone.
You won’t even miss a meal!

After the Novocaine makes you numb
All you feel is a gentle tug,
Of total discomfort a tiny sum,
And the strange smell of a burning rug.

That’s the sealing of your vas deferens tube.
Now your billion bastard babies perish inside–
On your body, a brilliant medical rube!
With scars tiny, not a centimeter wide.

And if you want to raise a child,
Think about the most righteous option;
It’s really not an idea so wild–
Adoption!

Never again a pregnancy scare,
Worrying, stressing, feeling sick,
Pulling at the roots of your hair,
Waiting on that piss-soaked stick.

And think of all the fun to be had!
Sex any time, anywhere.
Leave the rubbers at your pad,
Now you can raw dog in there!

Get it on wherever you are;
Almost any quiet place will do–
The movies, the back of a bar;
Even a Starbuck’s drive-thru!

Free to be
Forever me–
Vasectomy!

Oh to be
Forever free–
Vasectomy!

Maximum Instruction, Not Minimum Adage–Operation Bite Back by Dean Kuipers

The following is a book review of Operation Bite Back by Dean Kuipers about longtime ALF activist Rod Coronado.  The book came out about three years ago, but I still think it’s worth reading about; Rod to me is one of the most courageous, instructive, and effective activists this Earth has had in the last 50 years.

(For those who are not as obsessed with puns as I, but still interested, this one must be explained because it references something rather obscure;  one of Rod Coronado’s adages was “Maximum destruction, not minimum damage.”  So that’s right, I punned that in a way that actually fits.  BA-ZING!)

Article originally published in the Earth First! Journal

Operation Bite Back by Dean Kuipers is a biography of longtime Sea Shepherd, ALF and Earth First! activist Rod Coronado.  More specifically, it is a detailed description of his campaign to cripple the United States fur industry, and the radical environmental and animal rights culture out of which it arose.  Many of us know the generalities of what occurred during that time period.  But OBB gives us a whole new dimension of detail and flavor.  This alone makes it worth reading.

In it, we get to experience a level of complexity of emotion, as well as context, that is largely unavailable anywhere else.  I have read Memories of Freedom, the zine written if not exclusively by Rod, then with the assistance of other ALF comrades, and his own zine written during his four-year prison sentence, Strong Hearts, a number of times.  So I was already quite familiar with many of the events as described by the actual participant(s).  Even so, these descriptions had to necessarily leave out a lot.  So instead of the near-fearless bravado of communiques and zines, we see the full anxiety and trepidation experienced by those activists.  We find out about how the passion and fury and intimate knowledge that drove Rod to commit these audacious acts also drove him to bouts of recklessness, bouts that could have and sometimes did contribute to his eventual capture by the state.

That’s right.  Even the great Rod Coronado, one of the most successful and revered direct action activists of the 20th century, committed serious breaches of security culture.  OBB, then, is required reading for anyone interested in using direct action, or in being an ally to those who do.  We can all learn a lot from it.

Rod in his native southwest desert.

That is not to say Kuipers’ work is not without some serious problems.  Journalistic objectivity certainly has its place, but sometimes it’s okay to have a little bias—speaking as a person heavily biased toward life and the continuation of it here on this beautiful little blue gem.  In fact, if anything, the author is at times biased against Rod and his partners-in-righteous-crime.  He falls over himself a number of times to defend the hideous animal experiments performed by some of Rod’s targets.  In true “objective” fashion for a mainstream media journalist (Kuipers, after all, is an editor at the Los Angeles Times), he implies both that the experiments performed actually have application for humans, and that they are intended to and will in actuality help animals.  For anyone with half a brain and/or a third of a conscience, this is a nauseating and ludicrous premise.

He makes a number of factual and logical mistakes that only an outsider—and a negligent outsider, at that—could make.  These are so numerous and weighty that it almost seems as if they are done to intentionlly discredit a section of the radical environmental and animal movements.  For example, he mentions a car bombing done allegedly by the Animal Rights Militia in Britain during the 1980s.  He comes out strong against it, saying it is reprehensible violence and “murderous” (44).  What he fails to mention until several chapters later is that this car bombing has been widely discredited, and is now believed to have been the work of provocateurs.  Convenient ommission.  Similarly, he totes the mass media and vivisection industry’s rhetoric in calling the 2008 firebombing of a UC Santa Cruz vivisector’s front porch “attempted murder.”  Something tells me if those responsible were attempting to murder the vivisector, they would’ve done a lot more than leave a molotov cocktail on a fire-sprinkler-equipped porch.  He brings up the incident in 1987 where, at a Cloverdale, CA sawmill, a tree spike snaps a saw blade and severely injures the mill worker.  He does not mention that this tree-spiking was almost undoubtedly not done by an environmentalist, and therefore proper precautions were not taken.  Another convenient ommission used to discredit eco-radicals.  He calls Murray Bookchin a “green anarchist,” a laughable and foolish claim to anyone in the know.  Additionally, he revels in the fact that he’s witnessed Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society chowing down on steak a number of times.  Yet these days the lovably rotund Watson travels around the world heavily (no pun intended, ha!) promoting veganism for environmental reasons, and all current signs strongly suggest Watson now maintains a vegan diet.  Clearly Kuipers’ is speaking from very outdated experience here.

Despite these serious problems, Operation Bite Back is overall a very well-researched project.  It contains a bevy of information that is both interesting and very useful to all in the radical environmental or animal liberation community.  Read it with a dash of proverbial salt, but read it nonetheless.

Demonstrating the best way to consume one of his longtime favorite beverages.

Testify! Eco-Defense and the Politics of Violence

This is probably the best overall documentary I’ve seen about the environment; it is uncompromisingly militant and very entertaining to boot.  It is available in 9 parts on You Tube.  Here’s part 1.  I cannot more highly recommend it.

 

I’ve also transcribed the video in English, in case anybody wants to subtitle it in their native language; I did this for a friend in the Czech Republic and he then added subtitles and showed it at hardcore shows!  Let me know if you want a copy of the transcript.

The Rewild West Prologue!

Click the link below to read the fun, entertaining and informative prologue to the narrative nonfiction book for which I am researching that goes along with this blog and photography project, fittingly title The Rewild West:

http://wp.me/PQhKO-4w

It’s also posted under “Other Writings.”

Deaths by Tree Spiking

I saw that a recent top search on my blog was “How many killed by tree spiking?”  There’s this industry-pushed-and-funded misinformation in mainstream media that tree spiking is an attempt to harm old-growth tree murderers; this is completely untrue and has no basis in reality.  Every single known environmentally-inspired tree-spiking was anonymously announced to the timber company and, where appropriate, the Forest Service–done solely in order to avoid worker injuries.  NO PERSON HAS EVER BEEN KILLED BY A TREE SPIKE.  The case of George Alexander, which I discussed in my prior entry, is the ONLY KNOWN EVEN INJURY TO OCCUR AS THE RESULT OF A TREE-SPIKING, and that particular instance was not performed by an environmentalist.  The industry of course demonizes these sorts of actions as violent, homocidal, and immoral.  And yet they of course do not mention that timber cutting (aka forest killing) is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, with mortality rates FAR higher than the average.  People are killed by shitty equipment, falling trees, etc.  But never by a tree spike.  Remember that, if nothing else.  So the real homocidal, violent lunatics are the corporate CEOs and company managers who push for higher and higher cut rates, and who fail to replace shoddy equipment in the name of corner-cutting profit-mongering, as the case of George Alexander shows.