Thursday, December 23, 2010

In regards to the photograph and article posted on The Cove Guardians blog

*the story and photograph mentioned are originally posted on our blog:http://thecoveguardians.blogspot.com/*


I have been thinking of the layout of this photograph for a while now, and about what it may symbolize and represent... Me, a white skinned male in the center, flanked by two womyn at my side who are poised slightly behind me as if submissive to my presence. It made me feel uneasy that what was originally intended to be a strong and powerful animal rights message may also echo a visualization of a tyrannical, sexist and male dominated system. A friend of mine brought it up to me tonight and confirmed my fears, and I don't want this photo to be a misrepresentation of myself and my political beliefs. The animal rights movement is not without it's faults, and even within what seems like a progressive and forward thinking community sexism and male-dominance are still present.


We took this photo as part of an article that was posted about us in The Nanaimo News Bulletin that can be seen on our blog (http://thecoveguardians.blogspot.com/). Marley, Carisa and myself met with a photographer at the harbor to snap some photos to accompany the story of our trip we are planning to Taiji, Japan to act as Cove Guardians, and so we all decided to wear our Sea Shepherd shirts. Unplanned and unknowing, Marley and Carisa both ended up wearing the same navy blue t-shirt while I wore the white. Needing to break up the colors (and me being the least camera shy) I was placed in the middle for the photograph. At the time we were busy awkwardly shuffling back and forth in front of the camera and freezing in the winter sea breeze, not considering the positioning in the photograph and what it may represent.


Marley and Carisa are both powerful, passionate and strong womyn and I am proud to be organizing and traveling with them. Although this picture might suggest otherwise, there are no hierarchal dynamics in our relationship as a group or in our personal relationships. We are all struggling for the same ends, and as an animal rights activist, environmentalist and feminist I strongly oppose all forms of oppression and domination. Bell Hooks was an author that originally encouraged me to identify as a feminist, though I am male-bodied, by stating that "Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression" which is something that I believe in greatly. If you are a boy and those words hit close to home with you, then I STRONGLY encourage you to identify as a feminist, apply those principles to your daily life and research ways to be a better ally to womyn and anyone struggling for equal rights.


I hope this clarifies the photograph and any concerns, if anyone would like to discuss it more feel free to send me an email at: mikexvx@gmail.com. I don't claim to have all the answers, and I don't claim to be completely free of the sexist mentalities and mental binds that growing up in a patriarchal society have given me. But I would like to say for the record that all movements are important and necessary, and that oppressing a species deemed "weaker" and "less intelligent" then ours is no better or worse than oppressing someone because of their gender or race.


One struggle, one fight,

Mike XVX


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A short trip through Thailand: Video

Thailand XVX from mike xvx on Vimeo.


"A short video compilation of my trip across Thailand.

There were some amazing things about the trip, like our 3 day trek through the jungle near the Mae Tang river and the lantern festival in Chiang Mai. But there were also some horrible realities that we had to face while we were there, like the neglected cats and dogs that fill each city, the beatings and cuts the elephants endure when they're "trained" to give tourists rides on their backs, and the grotesque nature of the sex industry in Bangkok, where womyn and children are enslaved and forced to do disgusting sexual acts with and in front of paying tourists. Although this video highlights the more positive sides of my trip, the knowledge and memory of all those terrible things will stick with me. For anyone that plans to visit Thailand, or any other country for that matter, be sure you are not supporting any industry that profits off of humyn and non-humyn exploitation and suffering. We took whatever opportunity we had to voice our disapproval when people offered us these things, and tried our best to embarrass them, shame them, or at the very least make it clear that we want no part in what they were offering us. It's the fault of the paying general public that these things continue, and it's our responsibility to take a stand against it. If we stay complicit and silent in what goes on around us, and don't speak up for those who have no voice, we are no better than the perpetrators. Fight back."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Photos! Round 1

Haven't had time to update this thing, but thought I'd share some photos with everyone... I'll let these tell the story for now. Maybe when I get back I can do a summary of the whole trip. One thing I will say though is that my dear friend Chonga, from the european tour with xTrue Naturex, is here with me right now in Chiang Mai! We are currently enjoying frozen watermelon juices in the sweltering heat of our hostel. Leaving tomorrow morning for a 3 day trek up into the jungle!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nofuckingwhey/sets/72157625435287218/

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A short trip through Thailand pt. 1

Hello everyone,

So today I'll be leaving for a 2 week journey across Thailand. I had initially planned on doing a short tour, but I decided that for once I'd like to travel and actually take some time and enjoy myself. Plus, not having to carry around my heavy, bulky guitar is a definite plus as well. Looking after that thing is almost like looking after a baby; can't be too cold, can't be too hot, someone will steal it if I don't keep an eye on it... etc. etc.

My journey began with a 1,400 mile drive from Vancouver Island, BC to Los Angeles, CA to catch my flight. I stopped off in Portland, OR for a night to visit friends and eat some delicious vegan food. I can't remember the last time I had decent Mexican food... spending so much time in Canada has gotten me used to eating dry, unseasoned beans and bizarre tasting "spanish rice". So naturally I went to Taqueria Los Gorditos and devoured an entire enchilada plate with soy curls and a tamale in about 15 minutes, and amazingly avoided slipping into a deep food coma as I usually do whenever I eat there. If you're ever around Portland I definitely recommend going to this place!

After my second day in Portland I left and headed south around 6 pm. I said goodbye to some friends, drove about 6 hours listening to "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" series on Audiobook, and ended up sleeping at a rest stop somewhere near Yreka, CA. Using my Liberate hoodie as a screen to block out the streetlights, foolishly I did not consider that my window had to be slightly cracked open to do this. I fell asleep immediately, slept for a good 6 hours or so sitting upright in the drivers seat, and awoke in the freezing air of Mt. Shasta with ice all over the windshield. As miserable as that was, it certainly made me feel alive... that's for sure.
Later in the day I stopped off at a gas station to buy some oil for the car. Walking into the store I overheard a conversation happening at the counter, little did I know that they were talking about me. I kept hearing a man say "watch him, WATCH HIM. I don't trust him.." over and over again, and when I approached the counter to pay (don't act so surprised) I heard him say to one of the employees "Charge him extra" as he was walking out the door. In a daze from staring at the road for the past 12 hours, I finally pieced together that he was talking about me and that he was most likely the owner of this gas station. Was it my long scruffy hair and beard? my sleeveless 7 generations shirt with it's prominent anti-christian message? The fact that I hadn't showered in 4 days and probably reeked of BO and Thai Food? Whatever. This asshole was wearing khaki pants with a blue tooth in his ear, who's he to pass judgment on me? The womyn behind the counter gave me an apologetic and embarrassed smile, I'm sure this isn't the first time he's acted like an asshole towards her. I paid, walked out and filled my car up with oil. On my way out of the parking lot I saw him changing the numbers on the front sign, which confirmed for me that he WAS in fact the owner. I rolled up alongside him about 6 ft away or so, gave him a friendly *MEEP MEEP* on my car horn, extended my middle finger and gave him the happiest, most excited smile I could muster. He turned to give a friendly wave until he saw that I was quite literally telling him to go fuck himself in the politest of ways. He was bummed to say the least. Fuck you and your blue tooth, I'm still punk.

After the grueling, traffic filled final leg of my drive into LA, I finally made it to my Uncle's house in Torrance. I took them out for some awesome vegan food at Veggie Grill in El Segundo which they all enjoyed and filled up on food bars at Whole Foods for my trip (did you know they sell jars of live ladybugs there?? so fucked).

I only have a few hours left on this continent before my flight leaves. As of now I have about $200 for food and accommodations while in Thailand. People are telling me that it's a stupid idea to go alone to a country you've never been to before with not enough money, but I'll show them who's stupid (or to phrase it more politely: I'll be just fine). It's not my style to go somewhere completely prepared, it just wouldn't be me.

I'll try and keep you all updated with photos and entries as often as I can, but I'm not sure how well that will work out. Take care!

Mike XVX

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 7 (FINAL)

9/7 - 9/15

The night we headed back from the show in Victoria we were driving through the woods in our neighborhood when I saw a bike tire protruding from a bush on the side of the road. Never passing up a good opportunity for a trash bike I ran out and grabbed it. I threw it in the back of Chuck's truck and headed off back to the cabin, only to realize later how hideous (and awesome) this bike really is. It has: a Maruishi road bike frame, a knobby mountain bike tire on the back, beach-cruiser wheel on the front, bmx bars, cruiser seat, ancient brakes and a 5 speed shifter. As ugly as this thing is, amazingly it rides well and the tires are relatively new. The frame is a bit rusted and the back tire wobbles, but everything runs smoothly and it shifts properly. Anyway, it reminded me of a story that my friend Keegan told me about someone he knew finding a mountain bike in a dumpster and riding it 200 miles. The ferry crossing in Port Angeles, WA is only 250 miles from Portland, OR so I thought if someone else can do it why can't I? I scoured Craigslist for days until I found a cheap, pink Little Tikes bike trailer that I've managed to shove all of my belongings into, and plan to drag it all the way back to PDX. So I've spent this last week preparing for my trip home, and as of recently the cabin has been completely ransacked since 'Hurricane Mike' has come through. Considering that I'll be riding home through the Olympic mountains in potentially freezing weather, I've decided to only take items with me that are essential to my survival over the next 4 or so days. That means I have to leave a few important things behind for now, like my guitar and other bike, but on the bright side it'll give me more incentive to come back to Canada soon (not that I really need any more).

I am currently 2 days away from leaving Canada for an unknown period of time, and what was originally supposed to be 2 weeks here ended up stretching out to nearly 2 months. Ginny and Ron Weasley (the cats) are finally comfortable enough here at the cabin to come down from the loft and play through all hours of the night, and I am super excited for them. Every time I'm home alone Ron sees an opportunity for some bro time, and we usually watch The Office together or I play music for him. I spent my last day at the farm yesterday feeding the animals and shoveling horse manure out of the shed that Romeo (the horse) loves to shit in. I also got to groom Natalie Portman (the turkey) for the first time and he loved it! I wish I had taken a video but I didn't have a camera at the time. We've been avoiding and ignoring Keres every time we've come to the farm as well, and that works out better for everyone; though occasionally we'll see some of her handiwork around the farm when we're feeding on our days i.e. not refilling the chicken's water, leaving a mountain of trash in the tool shed, doing nothing about a horrible infection Romeo had in his eye etc.

This trip has been an amazing and informative experience for me. I got to spend time with animals that I never had the opportunity to be around previously. Got to witness how and why horses get their feet trimmed, learned how chickens eat their own eggs (kinda gross), how some turkeys (like Carl*) love to hump everything in sight and will crawl in your lap and cuddle if you let them, how truly anti-social most cats naturally are with humyns, and when I was volunteering at the parrot sanctuary in Parksville I learned how hard cockatoos can bite**. I made some pretty amazing and inspiring friends here, and I am hoping to come back to stay here again as soon as I can... until then I will miss them greatly. I can't imagine how hard it's going to be to have to leave here tomorrow.

Even though I've heard so many amazing stories of survival about the animals I've come into contact with, there are still millions and millions out there who are never afforded an opportunity at a decent life. Sanctuaries and rescues are amazing places and deserve support and admiration. It's hard work to take care of so many animals, and some people, like Chuck, have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to provide for the animals in their care. Look into a sanctuary or rescue near you and donate your time or money, I'm sure they could greatly use it. Sentient beings are not commodities, trophies or emotional or physical punching bags; THEY ARE OUR FRIENDS.

I don't trust anyone that doesn't love animals.

Love Always,
Mike XVX

Huge thank you's and much love to: Chuck, Stanley, Romeo, Timber, Natalie Portman, Ron and Ginny, Dougie, Reggie, Ebin, the chickens, the bunnies and all the feral cats, Justin, Shawna, Marian, Emma, Tarah, Brooke, Joe, Heather, Tara, Martin, Adrienne, all people who oppose the Canadian seal hunt, people who throw away bikes for no darn good reason, and lastly Chuck's mom for spending hours finding me a tent to ride home with. GO VEGAN!


*Carl used to live at the farm but now lives at a stable where he hangs out with kids all day and teaches them that turkeys are friends, not food.

**I was standing there minding my own business when a cockatoo bit me square on my Achilles tendon and it bled like crazy. I turned around to see 3 or 4 of them standing there so I didn't know who to blame, but it hurt really freakin bad.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 6

8/31 - 9/6

It's been getting a little bit colder the past week or so, and I'm excited for Fall to finally be here. We've often had fires in our fireplace here at the cabin and there's nothing more comforting then falling asleep to the crackle of wood burning.

A couple of days ago I needed to make copies, so Chuck dropped me off with my bike at the office supply store on her way to work. Unbeknownst to me, and because of a mis-communication she dropped me off at the store that's nearly 3 times as far from the cabin as the one I assumed we were going to. So with no food and very little water, my journey home began on the treacherous, yet beautiful, Parkway Trail. The trail itself stretches from one end of Nanaimo to the other, most of the ride being through the woods along the highway and over or across bridges. The hills are incredibly steep on the first part of this path, and I ride a brakeless fixed gear bike, so I literally came within inches of colliding with a family of deer while coming down a grade. Accidentally having separated the mother from her 2 babies, I was terrified she was going to seek retribution against me. Luckily she accepted my screamed apology as I flew past. After I had been riding for a couple of hours, I finally reached a nice, flat area that wound through shady woods along a river. Enjoying myself for the first time on the Parkway Trail, I was brought to a halt while coming around a corner to discover that the path abruptly ended. Amidst a sea of construction crews, bulldozers and cement trucks, one worker, who was oh so busy talking on her cell phone, took one look at me and shook her head. So with my original route closed I found an alternative among surface streets, and eventually made it back to the cabin.*

I played a show in Victoria on Sep. 4th at the BCGEU. A friend, who had previously invited me to play the Anarchist Bookfair, set up a benefit show for a womyn named Kelly that was arrested in the wake of the G20 in Toronto**. She is being charged as being one of the leaders of the black bloc which the government is trying to classify as a "hate crime". Hate crime statutes were created to protect people from marginalized communities, but it's now being used against an activist in a completely ridiculous and unrelated context. (you can read more about her case here: http://anarchistnews.org/?q=node/11810) The show went well and I met some pretty awesome people. There were a few performers that completely blew me away, I was seriously impressed! Chuck and I both finished off 2 gluten-free vegan pizzas***, cookies, and a cream soda before the show so after a long drive back to Nanaimo and settling in at the cabin at 3 am we both had some serious stomach aches.

Nearing the last days here in Canada, and I already know I'm going to miss it when I get back to the states. I've made a short video of some of the animals I've met on this trip and set it to some awesome 80's pop music. Let me know what you all think!


Love Always,
Mike XVX

*My thighs are still sore as I type this.

**For 3 years I've been extended an invitation to play the bookfair, every year I've said yes, and every year I've fucked up and missed it.

***Try Daiya vegan cheese, you will NOT regret it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 5



8/23 - 8/30

I've been sick with whatever Chuck had for most of this week, some kind of flu I imagine. There were times when I felt comfortable getting up and walking around, but I pushed it too far when I went for a 30 mile bike ride across the countryside and through the city. I spent the next day completely bed-ridden and miserable... but now after some rest I'm starting to feel better.
I've been riding my bike as much as I can since I've been here, and I've seen deer almost everyday. The route I usually ride takes me through a southern part of town near the lumbermill. It smells terribly of rotting wood and chemicals, but to cross into Nanaimo there's no other way around it. There's a small community that I pass immediately afterward that is eerily quiet, yet there's always people meandering about in the roads that I have to weave around. It reminds me so much of this short story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" by one of my favorite authors H.P. Lovecraft. In the story, Innsmouth is a small and rarely visited town in New England where everything about the citizens and the architecture is detestable in an indiscriminate and unspoken way. Because of local legends travelers avoid it all costs, though one man chooses to visit despite the warnings of others and slowly pieces together a story of a fishing tycoon that makes a deal with demons one night on the reef that surrounds the town. The traveler gets trapped there and all kinds of crazy stuff starts happening... I won't ruin it for you, but I just thought it would maybe paint a better picture of this area. Anyway, I rode through there one night and immediately after I entered the neighborhood I regretted getting started on my ride home so late. Once through I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Maybe I'm just being silly.


I've been bonding with our 2 cats Ron and Ginny Weasley quite a bit. They both finally worked up the courage to come down from the loft on the crazy box staircase I made for them (which in it's own way must be scary enough to climb down on). Ronald came down for a visit this morning and was loving all over me while I slept. I also saw him kneading Chuck's blanket-covered head and was amazed that she didn't wake up. Though she rose to get the phone a little bit later and Ron, almost being crushed, panicked and jumped straight into the chest at the end of the bed!* I am so excited that they're starting to feel more comfortable here, as anti-social as they are I felt like we were keeping them locked up in a prison. They are both the sweetest, cutest little potatoes ever and it would be so lonely here in the cabin without them.

Stanley is doing better now, his hair is starting to grow back and his wound from the jacket is healing up nicely. We went by the other day and it was incredibly infected, so we sprayed him with some iodine and it's helped quite a bit. Hopefully it will heal up completely and not leave a scar, but only time will tell on that one.

Yesterday evening I was feeling a bit peckish, and with little food at the house I decided to head to the grocery store. My bike was in the back of Chuck's truck while she was at work, so my best option was to hitchhike the 13 miles into town. With the sun setting and remembering how few cars drive by on our road, especially on a Sunday, I was starting to worry that I wasn't going to make it before the sun went down and I would most likely have to walk through the pitch black woods to get back. Consequently I made it in 3 rides, and riding in the back of a pickup truck staring up at the sun setting behind the trees made me feel pretty glad that my bike was locked away and I was afforded this rare opportunity. I managed to get to my destination before the sun set, and while in line at the store another piece of good fortune was thrown my way. As I was paying for my food (surprised?) I was unable to afford 2 or 3 items and had to set them aside. I had got the truck back from Chuck, and as I was about to drive away I saw a young womyn running across the parking lot at me. My first instinct was to run, and then I thought maybe I just dropped some money. Well when I rolled the window down she had those 3 items in her hands, so she put them on the passenger side seat, stared at me for a minute and then said "Have a good night!" and took off running. I could barely yelp out a thank you amidst all the confusion, but left that night feeling pretty psyched on life.



Making tentative plans to ride my bike back to Vancouver, but things are so back and forth here that every time I plan on leaving something else comes up. Anyway, I have about 2 weeks left here in Canada and I'm going to try and make the best of them. Hope you're all doing well!

Love Always,
Mike XVX

*Don't worry, he's ok!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 4

8/16 - 8/22

The mayor of Nanaimo and myself.
I asked him to pretend like I was someone really famous for the photo. no big deal. Also, you know someone's a good mayor when they ask you what "chick" you're trying to impress right after you get your picture with him.

I picked up a free mountain bike from a craigslist ad, and one that assured me that it still had some salvageable parts on it, only to find that every component was rusted nearly all the way through. Not having much else to do with it, I traveled to the steepest hill in the city (which is about a mile long and pretty freakin steep) and launched it ceremoniously at 3 am after I picked up Chuck from work. Ready to jump back in the car to follow it down, it made it about 20 ft and took a hard right into someones yard. Needless to say I was disappointed.
That next morning Chuck had her appointment with her psychic, and woke me up at about 9 am with a call right afterward. What I can remember of the conversation was a flurry of excitement on her end, talking about how her psychic knew all about her family situation and that she's making the right decisions etc. with me adding a sleepy and muffled "mmhmm" and "ya" in between. The conversation ended as quickly (and loudly) as it had begun and later I wondered if I had dreamt any of it. Incidentally I did not, but now Chuck is pretty certain that moving to the United States is the right decision for her. Whether this came about from her psychic reading, or maybe a combination of something else I do not know, but I'm glad that she's figured out what she wants and is taking steps to make it happen. It's good to finally be able to spend time with someone who's driven and self motivated, you know?

Drove down to Victoria a couple days ago and visited with a friend. We stopped by a pretty rad art gallery, had some decent vegan chinese food, spent way too much money at the local infoshop, and then bought a vegan gluten free pizza (with daiya cheese!) for the drive back up. Chuck has been really sick with throat ulcers, a fever and an incredibly sore back, but we still had a pretty rad day. I haven't spent much time in Victoria since I've been here and I'm looking forward to going back pretty soon for a show that I'm playing, maybe even riding the 80 miles from here to there.


The liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who's running for Prime Minister, visited our town to give a talk and have lunch at a local french restaurant downtown. Michael Ignatieff is a big supporter of the Canadian seal hunt, so we organized a demo to hopefully have a discussion with him and raise awareness about the issue. He consistently uses the argument that the seal hunt supports First Nations people, and that opposition to the commercial hunt is a threat to their way of life. In reality, the commercial seal hunt is owned and run by white, male Norwegians, Newfoundlanders, Nova Scotians, and Quebecois; it has no correlation with any traditional indigenous hunt. Though we were getting media attention at first, we weren't sure Ignatieff was paying much attention to us protesting outside at all. We only had 10 or so people, but we still managed to be loud enough to disturb the proceedings inside. Eventually he had his PR person come out and guarantee us that he would answer some of our questions once he was finished inside looking like an idiot and kissing everyone's ass (my words, not hers). But, immediately afterward she asked us: "you guys aren't going to like, throw red paint on him are you?" we all had a really good laugh at that, so she responded with "well that's just what I heard some animal rights people do" hahaha. Here is the discussion once he came outside:



Last night I shaved off my beard, cut my hair and went for a 30 mile bike ride across 4 towns. Rode from our cabin to Chuck's work, treated myself to dinner, rode back to Chuck's work again, and then rode the last 13 miles back to the cabin at 10:15 (on a saturday night*). Riding across each town was fine, but once I got into the forest the moon went behind some clouds and I was left with only my 2 small bike lights to keep me safe on that windy rode. 8 miles of terrified biking, riding as fast as I could thinking that I'm being chased by Skinwalkers, bears, aliens or drunk drivers trying to run me down. Your mind tells you some crazy things when you're scared, and riding all alone on that stretch of road in the middle of the night was as nerve-racking as it gets. Because of how horrifying most of the ride had been I made it back in about 40 minutes from when I had left Chuck's work. Maybe I'll start doing velodrome and have Sasquatch chase me across the track.
Currently still dealing with family drama here and there, and our visit to the farm this morning was as shocking as it gets. Stanley (the ex-racehorse) had been wearing a fly jacket when we arrived and was kicking and shaking his head in a bizarre way. When Chuck removed the jacket she noticed that the chord had left an incredibly painful looking rope burn across his chest, and in seeing it immediately burst into tears. It was incredibly gruesome, and we spent some time afterward putting ointment on his cut and feeding him blackberries. Apparently his jacket had been on for several days, and Keres blames Chuck for "not taking care" of her horses, even though as of recently we've only been designated (and allowed) to come to the farm 3 days of the week. Set aside the fact that Keres was the one who put the jacket on him, which serves nearly no purpose.

We're still in the process of finding Stanley a new home. After all he's been through he doesn't deserve to be mistreated and neglected any further then he already has. It's hard to imagine that this incident wasn't intentional, and while running into Chuck's mom again while leaving lead to another argument and literally no empathy on her end. Animals deserve love and respect, and Stanley is receiving neither of those from Keres. Oh, how laws protect animal abusers... if we only lived in a world where people could actually be held accountable for the way that they treat other sentient beings.

Love always,
Mike XVX

*I will high five you if you can name the band that wrote this song.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 3

8/7 - 8/15

I don't know how this comes about, but often enough I'll be staying with a friend and manage to be there at some of their most vulnerable and life changing moments. Somehow my stays are queued in with some huge family drama, or to watch someone have to sacrifice what was once a huge part of their lives, or listen to elaborate and desperate plans to flee the country and start a new life, to realize later that they're convictions are sincere and they're actually going through with it. Not one, but all of these things have happened here in this past week, and it's going to take a minute to explain it all so try and be patient.

Chuck has lived on her family farm with her sister Keres* for the past few years, both of them together taking on the duties to care for the many animals they've rescued. Chuck being the oldest, and taking on most of the responsibilities, always felt that her sister lacked the drive and compassion to properly care for the animals she loves. There had been a lot of factors that slowly deteriorated their relationship and led Chuck to believe that the animals were no longer safe in Keres' care, but one incident in particular was enough for Chuck to feel she needed to re-home as many of the animals as she could. While away on a trip for the weekend, one of the chickens had developed an infection in it's cloaca**, and when Chuck returned she discovered that it had gone untreated by Keres even though she had full knowledge of the chicken's discomfort; her only suggestion was to just put the chicken down. What is the point of adopting a battery hen if you're just going to let it suffer and die from a treatable infection? It was at that point that Chuck made arrangements to move off of the farm and into the cabin on the beach where we both currently reside.

I thought that the space would help deescalate the growing tension between Chuck and Keres, but things only got worse from here....
There are 3 cats that live in the basement in isolation from the rest of the house (they have a peeing problem), "Dougie" and "Ron and Ginnie Weasley". Ron and Ginnie are brother and sister, and Ginnie absolutely refuses to associate with any humyns. She simply just wants to hang out up on her shelf and be left alone. But Keres always talked about how much she hated them and was trying to convince Chuck to re-home the Weasleys at the new cabin. Not wanting to take them away from Dougie, who they were very attached to, she intitially refused to break up their family since the three of them were all each other had. This didn't suit Keres, so she threw a temper tantrum where she threatened to report Chuck to the police and assured her she would "fuck her over so badly" if she didn't do as she said in regards to the cats. Keres was once a legit activist, so of course we were all taken aback by the way she handled that situation and the threat of legal action she made against a member of her own family. So (almost literally) with a gun in our backs we took the Weasley's away from Dougie and brought them to the new cabin where they are still getting adjusted. It was shitty enough to have to separate them, but having to see Dougie's reaction to it was a whole other level. We had no way to tell him it wasn't our fault that he had to live in the basement by himself and that Keres is just a fucking asshole.

The great finish to this is that Chuck's parents have sided with Keres in the disagreement, and fully support her in her own personal decision to ban Chuck from the farmhouse entirely (which probably means that I'm banned for associating with her as well). Their parents recognize Chuck as a very capable person, so they felt it necessary to support Keres regardless of the situation at hand. The only purpose Chuck has for visiting the farm now is feeding the animals that still live there and during this time is looking into new, safe homes for a few of them.

So after all this, Chuck realized there wasn't a whole lot here for her anymore now that she's been blacklisted from the family farm and far past a point of making a compromise with Keres. (But, if I were Chuck I wouldn't have compromised with her either... the day a fellow activist threatens to call the cops on you over a petty disagreement is the day that relationship is over in my mind.) Now Chuck is looking into plans to move off of the island, and potentially could be coming back with me to the states if she's able to get a work permit in the next few months. Her strength and convictions are a big inspiration to me, I don't know how many people I know that could handle the immense anxiety and loss that she's felt. It's hard enough to watch this all from the side, I can't comprehend how hard it must be to have to separate and say goodbye to so many loving and brave animals that had been in her care.

During this time we've been filling our days with snorkeling at the river and beach, reading, hanging out in town and attempting to make the Weasleys a little more comfortable in their new home. Days have been passing regularly here, and though I've felt I've gotten to know Chuck incredibly well, I feel these past 3 weeks have blown by with hardly a notice. Trying my hardest to keep my spirits up and stay positive for Chuck, though things have been pretty rough around here. I am very thankful to have her as a friend, and I hope I can be as strong a person as she has been for herself and for her animals.

Snitches get stitches,
Mike XVX

*Keres is a female greek name meaning "evil spirits". I chose a fake name for this womyn that I felt suited her actions very well, as you will read later.

**meaning chicken bum. Yes, chickens lay eggs out of the same whole they defecate from and humyns eat them. disgusting.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 2

7/31 - 8/6

A lots been happening this week and I haven't had much time for updates, so I'll sum up everything the best I can. I may talk about things out of chronological order and I apologize if it's confusing. This is just how my brain works most of the time.

Been spending some time with the animals on the farm, getting to know all of them and connecting with Stanley, the ex-racehorse, in particular. Stanley was kept out of races because of his crooked legs and was rescued by Chuck a few years ago. Since then he's been living on the farm with the other two horses, Timber and Romeo, and terrorizing the neighbor horses in the next yard. Apparently he would climb up their fence, grab one of the show horses from next door by their jackets, and lift them up off the ground bum first. So funny! The neighbors had a fit about it and eventually installed an electric fence to keep him away. He's such a badass.
Anyway, recently I wrote a song about Stanley... I have yet to record it but I'll post the lyrics here so you can check it out:

"the first horse i'd ever had the chance to get to know
you are gentle, you are strong and you are brave
and even if your scars are cut so deep they always show
you're a warrior, my friend, and now you're safe

stanley, stanley
you deserved a better life, it's true
stanley, stanley
I can't believe the things they did to you

they burned 6 numbers in your skin
and those numbers still remain
how could animals ever trust us again?
they would have run you to your death
a forced march till your dying day
humyns must look like nazis to them

stanley, stanley
the racetrack burned a number in your neck
stanley, stanley
a symbol that we'll never forget

sadistic gambling perverts, drunk and screaming in their seats
the scum of the earth in my eyes
horses forced to run until their heart ceases to beat
but it's all just torture in disguise

our anger begs for action
though I know you never would
we're just thankful that you are ok
we love to see you happy
there's every reason that we should
your presence just brightens our day

stanley, stanley
you deserved a better life, it's true
stanley stanley
we are all so very proud of you
yes, we are all so very proud of you"

On Justin and Shawna's last day with us we went to a flea market where Chuck was sexually harassed by an older guy asking her if she wanted to play "doctor and nurse". Fuck that fool. After Chuck embarrassed him in front of a bunch of his customers he complained to one of them that he "had no trouble with the lasses" when he was a "young lad". Yeah, maybe if you had some fucking respect for other people they would show you an equal amount. Either way, Chuck is a maniac and would have knocked him out. For some reason a lot of liberal/left-ish people in the US glorify Canada and paint this picture of a tolerant, respectful, open-minded place with socialized healthcare and low murder rates. After nearly 2 weeks here I've almost got into 3 fist fights with people for calling them out on their shitty behavior, so pardon me for not agreeing with that sentiment. One of the times was at Chuck's bar when a drunk asshole was making racist and homophobic comments. He was upset that I wasn't laughing along with him when he talked about how satisfying it was to have "a little black guy making you drinks" on the beach in the Caribbean. Our conversation:

"So, uh, what DO YOU think is funny then, eh?"
"Um, jokes that aren't racist and homophobic"
"whoa whoa, I'm not homophobic! what about comedians? they say racist and homophobic things all the time and you laugh at them!"
"I don't fucking laugh at racist jokes!"
"Well I know a lot of gay guys that make homophobic jokes all the time and I don't see you yelling at them!"
"Maybe they have the right to laugh about it because they have to deal with homophobia on a daily basis!"

and from there the yelling became so incoherent on his end that I eventually gave up and just sat there quietly. A womyn he was with tried to get him to apologize to me on his way out the door, and I just stared at him and didn't react. So he threw his hands up in the air and yelled that he didn't have to be friends with everyone and stormed out. This entire time Chuck standing behind the bar with the most awkward look on her face. Sorry homie. Comically, another patron commented that they must be American; and that would explain their behavior. Chuck shot me a look and I snickered. Sorry to break it to everyone: racism, sexism, heterosexism and specieism are everywhere. Challenge it every chance you get!

A couple days later, Chuck and I got to work big time on clearing everything out of her old room on the farm and moving it out to the new cabin a few miles away. The process was painstaking, labor intensive, and it was pretty freakin hot out that day but we got it all done in pretty decent time. Her new place is absolutely unbelievable, a tiny one room log cabin overlooking the ocean set in a small, quiet community. It looked totally wrecked when we first started moving all her stuff in, but now it's super quaint and cozy - wood burning stove and all. (I'm staying with Chuck now full time here instead of at the farm which has been seriously amazing!) The only downside to this house is that the tap water is absolutely DISGUSTING! NO EXAGGERATION! The water comes from a local well, and apparently this is the worst time of year for it because the water is so low that it smells horribly of sulfur. Literally EVERY TIME we turn on the tap it stinks up the whole cabin! I refuse to shower in it; the ocean is a 5 minute walk away. enough said.

Did some chores for one of Chuck's neighbors to make some extra money while I'm here, and got to spend some time with her listening to music and chatting. Listened to her stories about how she rescued her dog from a beach in Mexico and loving her undying hatred for the police. According to her, she gives them the finger every time she heads into town. I published a zine about my tour across Europe recently and I gave her one of those, I think she liked it. Well, I hope she liked it.

Initially I was only going to stay in Canada till mid/late August, but things have been going so well here for me that I want to extend my trip as long as I can. For those of you that don't know, I was arrested at an animal rights demo a few weeks ago and our first court date is in September. I had to have special permission from the court to come to Canada, and they allowed me to stay for a month. As I was preparing to call them I was becoming increasingly nervous about what I was going to say, how I would say it and their answer. This was my conversation with the release officer:

"Hey, this is Michael ****. I originally requested a month's stay in Canada? Anyway I wanted to stay longer because I've been offered a ride down and I won't have to do a bike tour back to Portland and.....
"Whoa, whoa, does it conflict with your court dates?"
"No, it doesn't"
"Then I don't care"
*CLICK*

Score one for Mike!


Yesterday Chuck hid me in the back of her pickup so I wouldn't have to pay for the ferry across to Vancouver, BC. I laid huddled in the backseat with a blanket draped over me while we went through the gates. There was an incredibly hilarious story to follow (ask me about it sometime!) that I'm a little too embarrassed to write about here... but I assure you it's a good one, haha. Later that day we attended a demonstration against a fur shop, leafletted, and then had a delicious meal at an all Vegan Buddhist Chinese restaurant here in town. It was super super good, but some of the names of the dishes made my stomach turn. In fact, Chuck ordered me "Crispy Baby Pig" that had no indication that it was Vegan other than it was being served in a Vegan restaurant. Little bit gross, not gunna lie.

Ran some errands today and tried to relax as much as I could. A bunch of people went down south to a benefit for Sea Shepherd (www.seashepherd.org) so I'm kicking it by myself tonight at a friend's place here on the mainland. Heading back to the island tomorrow and have some awesome plans that include: video montages of the farm animals, first-time-since-in-Canada movie watching, and Thai food. Tomorrows going to be a good day!

Love always,
Mike XVX

P.S. this morning I had the best tofu scramble OF MY LIFE! Check out my friend Tara's website and food blog: http://www.caringcook.com/

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 1

This trip and these journal entries are dedicated to all the non-humyn animals who have managed to escape and survive slaughterhouses, dairy farms, vivisection labs, rodeos and circuses. Every rescued animal that I've met in the past few years has such an amazing story to tell about the life that they had led up to that point, and I am so fucking amazed by their strength and bravery. I've chosen to help out a friend in Canada on her farm for the month of August to give her a hand with all of her "kids", as she affectionately calls them. These animals, and every animal deserves a chance at a good life; one that's free of unnecessary suffering, pain and anguish. One that's far from the reach of humyn greed and capitalism. Animals in sanctuaries manage to forgive humyns after all that our species has done to them, and that's something I'm not sure I could do. I am so proud of them for what they've made it through, and I am so proud of the humyns that dedicate their lives to helping and providing for them. Support animal sanctuaries!

7/26

it was a full moon the night before I left Portland. Some friends and I had a fire going in their front yard, and every time I leave here it gets more and more difficult. I gave going back to a relatively stable life a fair go, but either I did it wrong or I was rejected.. either way I felt like I needed to leave. So, with a broken heart and trying to fight feelings of resentment, I left with Justin and Shawna on their way up to Canada. I made some plans to spend time with a friend on her farm on Vancouver Island, helping her take care of the animals she's rescued and spending the month in BC taking some time off for myself.

Our first day was spent driving up the Olympic Peninsula, stopping to check out 4 of the worlds largest trees; one of them being the worlds largest Western Red Cedar and also the worlds largest Sitka Spruce. As well as the Kalaloch Cedar, one of the most evil trees that I have ever seen in my life. Trees are amazing (if you didn't already know).


After our tree stops we spent some time on the coast, and while I was peeing amongst some driftwood I heard Justin yelling and I saw the most unbelievable thing: A bald eagle carrying a dead Cormorant in it's talons flying about 5 feet off of the sand down the beach. We all started yelling and Shawna managed to snap off a couple photos. We ran down the beach to get a closer look (but not too close) and while we were watching the eagle devour this bird we saw a fisherman run up, throw a rock and chase him off. It was fucked up. Shawna confronted him but there was a language barrier so after some awkward moments he just packed up and left. We kept our distance from the bird and watched as the eagle came back to finish after a bit, while having to fight off other scavenger birds that were trying to get at his prey.

That night we drove up to a campground called Heart O' the Hills, which we kept jokingly asking if it was anywhere near "Land O' Lakes". haha, so dumb. Anyways, we didn't have exact change for the campground, and we decided to just not pay unless the ranger came by and harassed us (yes, asking us to pay for things is harassment). It started to get dark, and still no sign of the ranger, so I went into the wood shed next to our campsite and grabbed a stack of wood for the fire. FYI everyone, the honor system about paying for things is not very appealing when it benefits the bullshit forest service that sells off millions of trees every year to logging companies that don't give a fuck about the environment and the devastation they leave in their wake. but yeah, we were also just psyched to save $17.

7/27


Went for a 4 hour hike at an amazing place called Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula. Had a beautiful view of Mt. Olympus and the Olympic Range all day, and were there early enough to avoid having to deal with all the asshole tourists and their loud, inane conversations. Watched some people trample the protected meadows for a photo op, and witnessed morons leaving litter in their wake. Sorry, but I lose more and more hope in the humyn race every time I encounter people on a hiking trail. Saw a baby bear and it's mama crossing the road on the way up as well, and were able to snap a couple of shots of them before they disappeared into the woods. That totally made our day.
Afterward we drove to the ferry crossing in Port Angeles, and a short boat ride later arrived in Victoria, BC. We were pulled over for some "extra questions" and were held there for at least 45 minutes, the entire time being completely positive they weren't going to let us in. They finally came over and gave us permission to enter after we were found out as being dishonest about our arrest records. I was amazed that we got through. Shit's crazy.

Drove a couple hours to our friend Chuck's farm, though she was at work by the time we got there. I gave her permission to wake me up at 2 am to go to the river to swim, but exhausted from the day of hiking I just read to her out of a horrifying book I recently picked up called "Communion" by Whitley Strieber that's about his alien abduction experience. Leaving us both feeling terrified we headed off to bed and somehow managed to drag ourselves up the next morning for our next day of activities.

7/28


Went to a beautiful private river spot where a friend of Chuck's lives and had an awesome time splashing around and floating on inner tubes. I had been eyeing a cliff that had a drop off into the river when we got there, and Chuck's friend assured me that she had jumped off before and the water was deep enough to be (relatively) safe. We walked up the side of the cliff together, and looking down I asked how high it was. She said she'd tell me after I did it. So I did it and fell for what seemed like forever, the whole time the roar of the wind going past my ears and my vision blurring. I landed as straight as I could, arms at my side, and rectum clenched (that's how you do it, not even kidding. sorry for the vulgarity). After I surfaced I looked up and she shouted down that it was 50 ft. My feet freakin hurt so bad.

Spent the rest of the day goofing off, making food from the garden, and taking care of the animals that live on Chuck's farm. All of them have such funny personalities, and I will give a brief description of all the ones I have met so far:

Natalie Portman is a turkey that was destined for slaughter before Chuck got to him. He's super friendly, and apparently likes when I play my guitar because he gobbles loudly after each song.

Stanley is an ex-racehorse that still bears a cold branded number on his neck just like the numbers the Nazi's tattooed on the Jews. He's 7 years old and loves to be scratched.

Romeo and Timber are the 2 older horses here, and they both got into some hay in the barn that they weren't supposed to eat and soon after I witnessed chuck chasing them away with a broom. So freakin funny.

Mikey, Reggie, Dougie and the 2 twin cats I can't remember the name of are a mix of semi-feral/domesticated cats that live here at the house. Dougie does a really funny bag trick
(that you can see here), and Reggie and Mikey are the kind of cats that don't want you to do anything except keep them on your lap all day.

There are also a bunch of other bunnies and chickens that live here that are too many to name.

Slept on the deck that night and watched the bats fly over my head for who knows how long. Got only a fraction of sleep last night, and woke up at one point to Justin saying to me through the screendoor: "So you're sleeping out there, huh? ...cool." Then stood there for about 3 seconds just staring at me. CREEPER.

7/29

Packed up our gear and drove out to Tofino to possibly go whale watching and camp out. Unfortunately all the boat trips were done for the day, so we drove a good deal back south and found a secluded, free camping spot alongside a lake. We blocked off the trail that led to our site with Chuck's truck, set up our tent, built a fire and just kicked it. I read some more chapters out of Communion for everyone and we all got super freaked out that night and were accidentally scaring each other over and over again in our tent. Talking about my Skinwalker experience didn't help matters either.

Oh, and we saw 2 bears 2 seperate times on the drive, one of them eating berries right next to the road. it was effing awesome!

7/30

After breakfast at the lake, we drove back down to the farm and got all our gear put away. We were greeted by Natalie gobbling at us near the driveway, and hung out with the cats. Tonight we're making some food and I'm going to try and focus on some projects I've been putting off.


I'm trying to set up some shows while I'm up here, but I'd be satisfied in just helping Chuck out at the farm and hanging around for the month. This place is beautiful, the animals are amazing and Chuck so far has been the sweetest and most accommodating host. Maybe I won't come home?*

Love Always,
Mike XVX

*Kidding, I have to come back for court. You can read more about that here: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2010/06/400664.shtml

Sunday, June 20, 2010

UPDATES!

So, I've been done with official tours now for over 2 months and it's nice to have some time off. I spent a week on the east coast for a show, and had one other in Southern California but other than that I've been taking it easy with music stuff. Though, I do have some updates for you all:

*Working on a zine about the European tour. It will mostly just be the entries from the blog, but also a little bit more explanation about certain entries because I realize now some of it can be confusing and hard to understand if you weren't present.

*Only have a few shows scheduled for this summer, but in the Fall planning to do another West (Best) Coast/partial Canada tour (though this includes Montana, Utah etc.) so get excited for that!

*Also been working on a zine for NFW! about contributions to the animal rights movement. Interviews, articles and some other stuff. Check out the blog! www.nofuckingwhey.blogspot.com

*Attempting to write some new music, I have a couple new songs that I think very few people have heard so far. I'm pretty psyched on them though, I hope you all will be too.

*Made a ton of new designs and printed a whole mess of stickers. Possibly making shirts again soon but I still have a few leftover from this last tour that I want to get rid of first. Come to a show if you want them! or if you live too far email me your address and we can work it out:
mikexvx [at] gmail.com

Other than that my life has been immersed in AR activities and events, bike rides, river swimming, forest walking, friend hugging, sunshine loving and vegan junk food eating (not such a good idea).

Anyway, Go out and enjoy your summer already!

For Love and Liberation,
Mike XVX

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stand Up, Fight Back (Euro tour with xTrue Naturex): Wrap-up

so i was going to wait until i got home to do the tour wrap-up, but since i've had so much time to myself here in Holland i feel i should write it now.

This tour was unbelievable. I'll start with that. Some incredible turnouts for our shows, both in numbers and in enthusiasm. I constantly question my contributions to the animal liberation movement, and whether what I'm doing makes a difference in peoples lives... but this trip has offered a lot of reassurance that there are some out there that appreciate my honesty and what I feel I have to share. These past 2 months have been exhausting, FREEZING, stressful, crazy, dangerous, exciting, revealing, affirming, hilarious and educational. I could fit a lot more in there, but I think that'll do for now.

Anyways, to break down my thoughts on this trip into a more palatable format I've separated them into sections.

Veganism + the struggle for animal liberation.
One thing I will never waver on is the emphasis of a strict vegan diet. For anyone exposed to the horrors of a slaughterhouse, dairy farm or vivisection lab, for anyone educated to the ecological impact that a meat eating diet has on the planet, and for anyone interested in maintaining a healthy diet and mental balance the choice is obvious. Humyns do not need to kill animals to survive, and anything less than a diet abstaining from all animal byproducts is complicity in the cycle of violence and systematic murder of other sentient beings. Change comes from within us, and if we ethically or financially support such institutions then we are no better than the ones sliding the blade across a cows throat, or tearing a baby calf away from it's mother, or ripping open a living dog to study the side effects of a household cleaning product. GO VEGAN.

I admit changing your diet isn't the ultimate answer for animal liberation, but the fight begins on a personal level of involvement. what's the point of going to an anti-rodeo demo if you're wearing leather shoes? protesting a vivisection lab if you're smoking out in front? fighting for animal liberation if you consume the disrespected and mutilated carcasses of other creatures? Dumpstered meat and dairy is still a product of rape and murder, how can you turn your back on the animals that suffered just so you can try to put a "progressive" spin on your meat-eating diet?

But to get down to the point, the AR movement in Europe is amazing. So much enthusiasm, creativity and perseverance. We've felt welcomed in every city we've traveled to, treated like we were family and got a glimpse of how strong the global movement for animal liberation is. Going home with some new ideas, and reinstating some old ones.


Travel.
I absolutely love to travel. I really do. I find it incredibly difficult to stay in one place for more than a month and even as I write this now I'm planning another adventure. I've seen some pretty awesome and inspiring sights on this trip, ones I was expecting and lot that I wasn't, and there are even more to come in the next few months. Very glad to be traveling with such positive and easy going people as well, it's rough spending 2 months in a small car on a stressful trip with only a few inches of room for yourself, but all in all I think things went really well.

I feel very fortunate for the opportunities that I have, and considering the way that I grew up I'm glad I've been able to make the best of my life with the hand that I was dealt. Though, I should say I recognize I'm a very physically capable person from one of the wealthiest countries in the world... aside from me being male-bodied and white skinned. so maybe overcoming a rough childhood and financial hurdles isn't that impressive; but I think it's important to be proud of ourselves sometimes. Regardless, it doesn't take much to get out there and see the things you want to see, and if you want to make it happen it will. If an opportunity presents itself (and they always do): take it. That's it.

Relationships within my community and self-accountability.
I've discovered that for anyone being direct and honest about things can leave that person in a vulnerable position to others who want to take advantage of that. And these past few months have been a pretty consistent reminder that not everyone is willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, or are looking out for your best interest. Don't get me wrong, I want to be part of a community where people are held accountable for their actions, by themselves and others. It's just disappointing to be part of a society where you have to be deceptive and strategic with your emotions, and when others on the sideline are just waiting for you to show a sign of 'weakness' so they can take a stab. BUT, I believe we can live in an honest, compassionate and trusting world, and I won't let the actions of a few deter me from reaching that goal. Be direct! be honest! and show some fucking compassion!


End note.
It's been going really well for me these past couple months, though my head is still a bit torrential. Trying to get past this last year, and looking forward to the future. Had to cut some people out of my life, made new friends, saw some incredible things and had even more incredible experiences. Life is worth living, and the animals and the earth are worth fighting for. I can't lose sight of what's important.

MDG has driven this whole tour, and very well I might add. His home and his work ethic are definitely a big inspiration to me. In fact as I write this he's doing a massive clean-up job in the kitchen that I need to help with once I finish this. He's opened his home to us, and everyone in his life has been so helpful and courteous. To him, and to then I am very very grateful.

Chonga has been a constant source of positivity and fun for this trip. Always laughing and down to party. Ready for adventure at any time. He's definitely a reminder that you can still run a distro and live a relatively comfortable life while spending most of it out on the road. Oh, and we both love Saves the Day more than life itself.

Keegan booked 90% of this tour and has done a ton of work keeping it together and getting us organized. While at the same time having enough energy to rock out every night, and goof off with the rest of us. Always supportive, always willing to give constructive criticism and compliments. It's been awesome to have someone along where I can agree and stand behind nearly everything he says during his set. I got his back and he's got mine.

Endless thank you's to everyone who booked a show, gave us a place to sleep, fed us, kept us warm, argued with us, gave us criticism, sang along and just generally rocked out. If it wasn't for everyones gracious hospitality this tour wouldn't have been possible, though I fail to think of anything that could be possible without the support of your friends and comrades. Hope to see you all again and keep up the fight!

For Love and Liberation,
Mike XVX

p.s. for those of you that hadn't guessed: I've intentionally changed the names of a lot of people written about in this blog, as well as omitted certain events, conversations or whatever else. For my protection and theirs. Practice good security culture!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stand Up, Fight Back (Euro tour with xTrue Naturex): A strange turn of events.

"You know my love goes with you as your love stays with me, it's just the way it changes like the shoreline and the sea" -Leonard Cohen

So, finished up our last shows in Holland and were ready for our flight out the next morning. but, the volcano in Iceland that hasn't erupted in 200 years decides that it doesn't want any planes flying around Europe for the next week... so now I'm stuck at the squat in Emmen until Friday. Not so bad though, we went for a bike ride today to the woods and saw a few graves that were about 7,000 years old. pretty crazy, huh? (photos again on my
myspace). went off some sweet jumps on our bikes out in the woods, and Chira (the dog) fell into a pond and heroic Chonga had to go and save her. so funny.

killing time till I have to go home still. planning on doing a lot of reading and finally catching up on e-mails. yep, exciting.

for love and liberation,
mike xvx

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stand Up, Fight Back (Euro tour with xTrue Naturex): Emmen, NL / Den Bosch, NL / Hengelo, NL

"It's Escapist shit of a feeble kind, a fucked up institution for fucked up minds" -Rudimentary Peni

Had a couple of well deserved days off at the squat in Emmen, NL. Luckily the sun was out and we got to lay around on the roof for most of time. Spent some time at the skatepark, went shopping, cooked food and tried our best to kill time before our next show. Here is an example...

skating on some rubbish I found out back:



Had to drag ourselves back into tour mode to finish off these last 5 shows, so we loaded up the car and headed out to Hengelo, NL. The whole town had a really bizarre smell to it, and we couldn't figure out what it was. But incidentally there was a factory that produced cat food directly behind the building we played and stayed at, so that gave us a surprising and disgusting explanation. so gross! Anyways, played for a small group of people, forgot words to my own songs, and was incredibly distracted. sorry, but 46 European shows (plus my Australia tour) are starting to take their toll. Had a nice full night of sleep, had breakfast, and read Derrick Jensen's "As the World Burns" graphic novel in it's entirety. I don't necessarily recommend it, though maybe if you have a friend that's never read a Jensen book before it would be informative; but I found it to be the same recycled ideas in all of his other novels. The next morning spent some time leafleting, went for a walk and then headed out.

Drove back north to Den Bosch, NL for our show at another pretty rad squat. It was relatively warm, sunny and the grass was green - it reminded me a lot of southern california and it made me miss home. Had some pretty good chili sin carne (which Chonga and I begin to call "Chili Sin Dios" - I think it fits better haha), and hung out in the garden. went skating for a little while, explored around the neighborhood and then played our show. A short hour drive back to Emmen that night, and we stopped off at a town called Rectum, NL - I'm not even joking, it's a real place. we have photos. Also, you'd think it would be a matter of translation but Rectum means the same in Dutch as it does in English. Damn near killed 'em.

Lounging in the sun and making pasta today. maybe going to go skate on some more trash later as well. 2 more days until I'm home, can't wait.

for love and liberation,
mike xvx

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stand Up, Fight Back (Euro tour with xTrue Naturex): Malmo, SE / Kobenhavn, DK / Fredericia, DK / Kiel, DE / Munster, DE / Bremen, DE

"sons are like birds, flying upward over the mountain." -Iron & Wine

So it's been some time since I've updated this, I apologize. I hate it because now I have to recap a bunch of days and I'm not sure if I'll remember everything. I'll try my best.

There are a lot of hipsters in Sweden. I want to start off with that. It was crazy though, right when we got out of the car literally everyone had a flat-brimmed hat, or an American Apparel hoodie (I should talk), or a shirt with big, loud stripes on it. A bit overwhelming. but, the kid who booked us the show was from san diego, and apparently was living there the same time that I was and we both volunteered at the same venue. How did we not meet? As strange as it was to be staying with an American in Sweden, it was still a fun day filled with food, knucks and a totally rad skatepark. also, the day of our arrival we got to take the ferry over from Germany which I was REALLY excited about. and I seemed to be the only one that was pumped about it after I announced at the show that we "rode a boat" that day and everyone gave me a blank stare. eh whatever.

Kobenhavn (Copenhagen) was fun as well. We played in yet another massive squat, but this one had a pretty recent and amazing story. The city evicted the tenants from the original squat that had been there for several years, so people all across the city went nuts. Eventually so much shit got fucked up that the city agreed it would be cheaper just to GIVE them a house, so they ended up with this massive building (where again we got our own band hotel)!. The whole place is already covered with graffiti, and the words of one local politician that ended up sprayed on the wall says it all: "the cops have completely lost control of this part of the city." fuck yeah.

Drove off of the island where Kobenhavn is located out to Fredericia, DK for our show at a youth center. Again, best thing about this place - they had a skatepark in their parking lot! Granted the wood was weathered, tattered, and everything seem to be falling apart and wobbling whenever you'd go over it... but still! A decent amount of people showed up, and apparently some tough guys that were in attendance wanted to jump me after the show for talking shit on Terror and Throwdown. it never happened though, and even if it did it would still be laughable. I mean, I grew up in Socal listening to and seeing those bands, maybe if anyone has the right to be angry about this sexist and homophobic tough guy hardcore 'movement' surely it must be me? Another interesting part of the night is when we found out the kid we were supposed to be staying with is a butcher. not even kidding, his job is to hack up dead animals. He told us openly at the beginning of the night, and even kind of laughed about it. Keegan had a long talk with him, because sometimes I'm not good at giving people criticism without yelling, and we all decided that we should drive down to Kiel, DE that night instead of staying with him. I gave kind of a long speech during my set about the roles people play in animal abuse, and how any job involving such is a contribution to the torture, rape and eventual murder of those beings. He seemed to understand, and in my opinion has a lot to think about and consider. We left that night on good terms though I think.

Woke up bright and early in Kiel the next morning for a demonstration against speciesism and animal abuse. A pretty good turnout - around 200 people - and the idea of the demo was a pretty good one as well. Started with a massive march from the Hauptbanhoff (central train station) and then split off inside a mall for groups to do smaller demos in front of Fur (fleisch), Leather (Leder) and other similar shops. It was my first experience with a German AR demo, and there was a car driving around with speakers on the roof blasting music, a vegan hip hop artists performed, and even Keegan and I had to play a couple songs near the end of the day. It was like all those videos I've seen on youtube but happening in real life! Pretty great actually. After the demonstration the march led us out of the mall, past the train station and literally DIRECTLY into the venue where Keegan and I were playing that night. I couldn't believe it! it was so funny to see this massive animal rights march being escorted by the police just collectively walk straight into a building to see us play! Not everyone stayed around though, which was understandable because we were all so tired. The show was the same - played songs, made some more awkward jokes, no one laughed etc. etc.

Again had to wake up super early to drive out to Munster, DE for a vegan brunch and matinee show. Sadly there was literally nothing gluten free to eat, save some chocolate pudding but I've had way too much sugar on this tour as it is. Played our show around 3 pm, and was actually nice to end while it was still daylight out. Finally watched EDGE the movie (and saw the back of my head - yeah!) which was pretty awesome. check it out! The next day we spent in a sunny park, where I read my Keith Mann book "From Dust till Dawn" for several hours, and then we headed out.

Finally finished Keith Mann's book while we were in Bremen, DE (650 pages in 3 weeks!) and I felt pretty accomplished. the book was great as well, check it out here. The show was about the same - food, music, nice kids etc. you've read it a million times and I'm sure it's getting old haha. After the show we drove back to Emmen and are currently enjoying our day off here at the bank squat. I'm sure MDG is glad to be home, in fact I know he is because he and his partner were embracing each other so tightly last night, even when he was putting in the password to the WIFI for me!

Just one more week before I'm back in the US again. Kind of wishing the tour ended here in Emmen to be honest, because coming back here kind of feels climactic. but, we have another 4 shows in Holland before we get to leave. I'll finish this strong, and then come home and do nothing for at least a week.

for love and liberation,
mike xvx

Friday, April 9, 2010

I don't have time post a new tour entry right now

BUT if you like this blog, you're going to love the new No Fucking Whey! blog that just launched! it's going to feature interviews with vegan artists, musicians and activists + essays, poetry and other writing. The first featured interview we have is with Matt Gauck aka Next Stop Adventure!

www.nofuckingwhey.blogspot.com

Follow the blog, check back regularly for updates and let us know what you think!


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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stand Up, Fight Back (Euro tour with xTrue Naturex): Berlin, DE / Poznan, PL / Szczecin, PL / Hamburg, DE

Played a show at Vego Foodworld in Berlin which is a brand new (3 weeks old) all vegan fast food-ish restaurant. The food was amazing and the owner was really nice, so that was rad. Also, the building was PACKED with people. literally wall to wall full, some people even had to stand outside for both of our sets. Ate some more food at the end, drove someone from the show home, and stayed with another friend that night who ended up joining us for a few days on the tour. Reminisced about my awful "tour" in Australia with a super nice womyn from New Zealand I met at our friends flat. not so fun, but she helped me with some more contacts for another future tour so that was great.

Played at the famous Rozbrat squat in Poznan, PL which was pretty fun. the squat itself is massive, and everyone we met was really nice. After we had a slumber party at our friends flat - which is literally a room and a kitchen - but manage to fit 10 or more people on the floor. fun times.

Szczecin was another show in a super nice park. We had a massive banner welcome us as we pulled up which was a bit of a surprise, that was the first time I'd ever had anything like that for a show. A friend and I went for a long walk across the city and saw some pretty sketchy characters. Poland can be pretty rough sometimes apparently.

Played in a legalized squat in Hamburg on the university campus. As like the other German shows, this one had a ton of enthusiastic and excited people. Ate some vegan ice cream and hung around for awhile.

super exhausted so I'm going to cut this short. Goodnight!

for love and liberation
mike xvx

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stand Up, Fight Back (Euro tour with xTrue Naturex): Dresden, DE

"heavy metal or no metal at all! Wimps and posers leave the hall!" -manowar

A considerable drive brought us back into Germany, and immediately after crossing the border we were pulled over for the 3rd time on this trip (2 of them being in germany, once in france). The Police wanted to search our vehicle for drugs or illegal weapons, but after consistently assuring them there was nothing, and after seeing how packed our vehicle was they gave up and decided they didn't want to bother with it. They were surprisingly friendly, but that means nothing really. There's a good slogan floating around Europe that seems to fit here: "Still H'8ing the Police". yep, that about says it.

Played our show at another awesome once-squat now community space for shows and other events. Were treated like royalty once again (no idea why) and were given all kinds of food and a whole crate of different juices, water, soda and the ever so popular "vita malz" which is a popular non-alcoholic beer here in Germany. I don't care for it, but MDG loves it like nobody's business. In the same building is also a kindergarten, which is rad because there's all kinds of grafitti and pro-vegan/anti-fascist and anti-police stickers around but all these random, totally regular people take their kids there. A TON of people came out to the show, probably one of our biggest. as usual everyone was really nice and excited that we were there, and we watched a short video in between sets about the Austrian activists facing trial right now.

After the show ended I hung around for a little while downstairs, which has a bar, kitchen, computer room, hang out space etc., and kicked it with some nice kids. I met a womyn that I had a conversation with for quiet awhile, and we talked about the german gothic scene, dance clubs and music. Really excited about the idea of going to a gothic dance club with a beautiful girl, I kept hinting that I've been wanting to go out to dance a lot on this tour but no one was interested in taking me. She kept saying yeah, it's fun, but didn't invite me along. I said goodnight after awhile and went to our sleeping place (which is a separate building that was literally like a hotel room - our own shower and everything! so nice) and felt kind of bummed that I didn't get to spend more time with her. Well, as I was organizing my things I felt unsatisfied with how our talk ended and felt maybe the point I or she was trying to convey was lost in translation; so I asked everyone if they thought I should go down there, be more direct and say "Hey, I'd really like to hang out with you tonight and go to the club, but if you don't want me to then no pressure. it's totally cool either way". They were all pretty supportive of the idea, so I mustered up the courage, took the keys and went back to the building. The moment I walked into the room she began to walk past me in the hallway, surprised to see me she said quickly "we're leaving now. bye!" and walked out the door. Silent, stunned, and not knowing what to do I pretended like I had forgot something in one of the rooms, looked around for awhile, and then left. I don't know why I'm the most awkward and shy person ever, but it's rough sometimes. and I'm constantly afraid of making people uncomfortable or misreading a situation, so I generally just stare at the ground and walk away after a certain amount of time in a convo with somebody.

Why didn't you ask me to go? Will I ever get to share a nice evening with someone again? Sucks.

Maybe this happens to other people to?

For Love and Liberation,
Mike XVX