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Diary of a Crap Artist [Jun. 27th, 2006|05:10 am]
The Voice of Fate
[Current Location |PHL]
[Current Music |Isis-Panopticon]

Mon. Dec. 26th
Airport Customs at PHL. One crescent wrench confiscated by security for exceeding 7". Overnight flight over Atlantic is uneventful, aside from German mother beating her child. The clouds behind us are exceptionally beautiful as sun sets on Atlantic coast.

Tues. Dec. 27th
Spend morning awake on 747. Haven't ever slept on the few airplanes I've ridden, this flight is no different. Arrive Frankfurt airport at 5:00AM local time. I purchase a beer for my reluctant teammate to celebrate his first international flight. Justin seems to have a very different personality than myself, he is an exceptionally business oriented individual. Our conversation does not drift far from the debate tournament we will be attending. When we do touch on the topic of travel he seems excited, and quickly takes up my offer to step outside the airport for a moment. Ice and darkness greet us in Germany. Lost upon reentry; German airport has an illogical layout. Airport was expanded as city grew and the original balanced plan was disrupted. Hours spent walking seemingly endless corridors.
Meet rest of team at Frankfurt. No sleep, dehydration, and another uncomfortable flight. Arrive at Dublin EIN as scheduled, 10AM local. Irish Airport is unimpressive. Reminds me of eastern european ports. Few buildings, lots of grass, boxy, liver colored structures dominate. Economic prosperity is recent for Ireland, and much of the country has not yet caught up with the influx of wealth. Airport is a prime example.
Bussed to Burlington Hotel by World Debate Tournament Committee. Engaged by Londoner on bus. He has the innocent demeanor of a child, and an accent which is charming for about 30 seconds. His questions lack much depth, as he asks me about where Will Smith lived in Philadelphia and we make that cream cheese. Somehow I know the answers to both questions. He seems to be talking to me simply to avoid the embarrassment of not talking, and it strikes me after a time that he doesn't really care about my responses to his queries. Check in to hotel. Blissful sleep. Wake up late in the night and find my colleagues motivated enough to go out for the evening. Sandwiches in Horican's Pub. Somehow arrive at Cafe en Seine, a faux French bar. Drunken Irish abound, harassment ensues. Sleep after drinking.

Wed., Dec. 28th
First day of debate programming. Sour taste of overpriced Guinness lingers between my lips and teeth. Eggs, beans, sausage and turkey bacon will become a familiar fixture of breakfast. Bussed to University College of Dublin in unassuming suburb of Dublin proper. Campus is the architectural dreamworld of 1980's science fiction writer. Blocky concrete buildings punctuated by cleanly sculpted grass and fountains. Purple illuminated skyways run from one Logan's Run complex to the next. Mysterious stone slabs and bent steel masquerade as art. Nine hours sitting through orientation. I only remember the lunch. Sun fades into clouds.
Dublin is a gentrifying mill city with capitol city prices. Expense of drinking at bars leads to the first of several nights drinking in. Rich, Karen and I buy three bottles of wine and consume them each individually. I relate drug experiences and listen to Karen's stories of Europe. A good evening.
Thurs., Dec. 29th
First day of Worlds Tournament. Same breakfast and lunch. Little hangover from previous night. Decreasing pain and frequency of hangovers lead me to ponder my father's comment that this was a sign of alcoholism. Should investigate further.
Tournament reveals itself to be laden with long waits in the Irish equivalent of high school cafetorium. UCD campus is depressingly bleak under the shroud of rain clouds. Early success in tournament swiftly leads to humiliation at the hands of Oxford students and miscellaneous Australians. First day of tournament ends badly as we are quickly informed of our ignorance of British Parliamentary debate. I grow morose as my partner Justin grows frustrated. Repeat of previous night. Still have scarcely been outside of Hotel Burlington.

Friday, Dec. 30th
Two total losses in a row followed by a victory through embarrassment. Our continued failures have knocked us into ESL bracket. Finally win against an incoherent asian team, a bombastic and nonsensical Bangladeshi team, and two novice Jamaicans. We get first prize at the special Olympics, and I am the pride of the Temple debate team. Just pin my #1 ribbon to my helmet. My relevance in this tournament is rapidly being lost on me. I'm becoming despondent, which is unfair to Justin, who still has optimism. Night is uneventful.

Saturday, Dec. 31
New Years Eve. We are blown out of tournament. More ESL embarrassment. After a brief comeback towards the end of the tournament, we end up tied in position with the APDA champion. A good sign that our failures are more the fault of our lack of experience in British Parliamentary Debate, not our failings as debaters. My disappointment with the tournament is total. I'm glad to leave UCD and never return. I manage to convince most of the team to go out for the night, save Justin and Ashley who are sick.
New Years Eve is excellent. Temple Bar is packed with people from everywhere around the world. It is an orgy of activity. Mostly tourists, but some interesting characters. I buy a bottle of champagne for the team to share, and everyone else pitches for four bottles of vino. We meet up with Jamaicans we had met earlier, and have a great night. I drink too heavily again, but at least I have a lot of company. We stumble back home somehow, heralded by the reggae songs of one of our companions. Nice people, friendliest I've met at the tournament. I stay up in Karen and Rich's room. No sleep until 7 am. Well, we earned it after that bloody tournament. I celebrate that more than the new year. I forget my mother's birthday, in my stupor.

Sunday, Jan. 1
First real day in city. St. Stephen's Green Shops closed on sunday

Monday, Jan. 2
Country-side, lost in wilderness, no time for electronic jibber jabbah

Tuesday, Jan. 3rd
No entry

Wed., Jan 4th
Bid adieu to my now ex-teammate. I'd failed to form more than a working relationship with him. He seems hurried to get to the airport. Last nights events still troubling. In the end, I welcome a departure from Dublin, and hope Amsterdam will provide more personal growth. I think I can see boats in the night shrouded sea as the plane lands.
The night in Amsterdam is less fun than I might have hoped. I try to pass the 10 hours until I can check into my hostel. Red light district is disturbing. First coffeeshops are like dive bars that happen to sell drugs. We have these in Philly. Ejected from first coffee shop after my attempts to crash on a couch fails. Night is spent freezing and trying to take public transit to hostel. After a bad fall, and the discovery that my luggage is locked in Amsterdam Central Station until morning, I pay for a cab. Night ends mercifully with sleep in a warm bed at Jordan.

Thurs., Jan. 5
Best sleep in days at Hostel Jordan. Spent day working out financial issues with bank, resolved with help of Arabic telecom shop and my merciful parents. I realized the helplessness of not having money, especially in a cold city. Dutch pay-phones are abysmal. Weather is cold as previous night, snow possible. Once I finally checked into Hostel, I met an interesting Portuguese hostel volunteer. I realized the social value of a smoking habit once again as we talked philosophy in the courtyard. First person I've spoken to outside of a business setting since arriving. He is volunteering at the hostel in order to have shelter whilst in the Netherlands. I appreciate his views on life, he seems a bit down about his personal situation. Hostel has a pleasant atmosphere, very comfortable. Good food, too.

---At this point, after several days of coma-inducing drug use and susequent depression, the entries become undated and stacatto---

The red halogen bulbs paint their worn faces and turgid skin a shade of sanguine temptation. Flesh market gyrations and the begging echo of knuckles on plexiglas shriek down the gingerbread canyons. The buildings list inward like crooked teeth. The city is swallowing you. This place is like a thousand Melville seaport nightmares.

Idiotic reguritation of American culture paints every street. Witty bumper stickers, t-shirts, pins and all other assorted crap extoll the hilarious extents of the English language. Mindlessness, all-consuming; a diminutive cousin of drooling Japanese culture of mimicry. drop the bomb exterminate them all

Weird light on fair weather days. Perpetual afternoon sunlight streaming obliquely throw the attic window of a grandmother's house. A light obscured by the dust and cobwebs of centuries of inhabitation and abandonment. Pale golden light, bright enough to obscure, but dim enough to spawn shadows on every fringe. I think of the cover of religious pamphlets, surrealist art and the sun that sets on the last day. This light is unique to this place. This is the light I see in my daydreams

A thousand missed photographs.

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Yo where am I going to buy my Garcia Y Vegas now? [Jun. 15th, 2006|10:05 pm]
The Voice of Fate
[Current Music |some elliot smith faggoty crap for gays]

City of Philadelphia
City of Philadelphia - 1 -
City Council
Chief Clerk's Office
402 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107

BILL NO. 060345

Introduced May 4, 2006

Councilmember O'Neill, Council President Verna, Councilmembers
DiCicco, Blackwell, Nutter, Krajewski, Kelly, Reynolds-Brown, Miller,
Goode, Tasco, Clarke, Ramos and Kenney

Referred to the
Committee on Licenses and Inspections


Amending Chapter 9-600 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled "Service Businesses," to add
new provisions to prohibit the sale, from certain retail establishments, of "blunts,"
"loosies," cigarette papers, cigars, and other items that may be otherwise legal but that
are commonly used as drug paraphernalia, under certain terms and conditions.

I don't know what they're talking about. What if sometimes I just like to smoke a Dutch Master purely for the sheer deliciousness of fine, gas-station aged tobacco. Fucking bureaucrats; we'll just see what happens on election day!

For those of you pondering exactly how this will inconvienance your attempts to smoke chron in Philadelphia, this rather lengthy bill boils down to this:
It will now be illegal for service stations, convenience stores, or any business that faces or is adjacent to a residential block to sell any tobacco product in "loose" (indivdually dispensed) form or in packets of less than six units, and never outside of a manufacturer's carton.

Exemptions apply for hotels, restaurants that seat 25 or more people, and specialty tobacco shops, but only if the retail price of an individual 'gar exceeds three dollars. There's also some junk in the end of the bill that states that (and of course this could only be quoted straight out of the bill) anything that could "convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance" cannot be sold within 500 feet of a "school, recreation center, day care center, church, or community center, regardless of the intent as to use of the item".

First of all, nothing that could "analyze", or "store" drugs? Okay, so drug testing kits are paradoxically illegal, as are all boxes or otherwise enclosed, extruded cubes. I get not wanting drugs around adorable community institutions, but making it harder to get stash boxes and specialty made, cock shaped bongs isn't going to do jack shit. There's only (approx) 2 fucking headshops in this whole city anyway, and they've already been beat to shit by other drug paraphenalia regulations. This law is silly for a city anyhow, head shop owners aren't looking to open stores in residential neighborhoods or next to ball-fields and try to hawk chillums (specifically mentioned in the bill) to tee-ball players. Those shops exist near places that are confluences for filthy hipsters, like south street and chestnut st in center city, which are crammed next to all kinds of buildings, like churches. This legislation makes no exemption for any kind of red light area, so it just serves to beat on the couple of innocuous specialty shops that already exist, and give politicians a way to justify the part of their campaign platform where they obligatorily state that they're "tough on drugs". But I'm rambling, so let me simplify all this and tell you why this whole thing is shit:

What this means for you (average, drug imbibing, but otherwise law-abiding citizen): You have to start buying blunts in bulk. If you are the evil proprietor of a head shop, your days of selling bongs to school children and nuns are over, hippie.

What this means for you (gun carrying, drug running shitbag/gang leader/urban methlord/part of the problem): Nothing. Wait, they make glass shit that you can smoke out of now? Damn! What'll they think of next.

Alright, blah blah blah. I can hear your inner monologue right now, "Ryan, you're just pissed because you love drugs and this makes it slightly more difficult to entertain such a hobby". Be that as it may, that's not really why I've bothered to extend this originally jocular entry into a festering diatribe. There is a legitimate problem with drugs in this city. Crack and cocaine have created drug empires and let a lot of bad motherfuckers make inordinately large amounts of cash (a raid in Hunting Park a few months ago yielded 3 mil in cash). There are places in this city where it is appallingly easy to get drugs, and a few of those places are elementary schools (I'm not making that shit up either). Okay, why do people go to all this risk just for some drug money. The government claims it is because they are A) Evil, B) Greedy, or C) Lazy. While my arrogant, post-modernist philosophy precludes me from accepting the first reason, the other two reasons just don't cut it for me. Greed certainly has a part to play, but when you come down to it, people don't usually like to risk having their person exposed to things like say, bullets, just for greed. By this logic there would be a lot more amateur mercenaries and bank robbers. Even in our capitalistic society, people usually only accept so much risk in the acquisition of wealth. This same argument can be applied to laziness (except maybe for spoiled college students that want money but don't want to actually work, but they scarcely count since the odds of a rich kid getting busted for drugs around here is miniscule).

This is what I'm getting at: the rampant drug trade in our city isn't stemming from the character flaws. No, it's born out of desperation and necessity. We have rampant unemployment and a huge gap between the rich and poor. How the fuck are you supposed to support a family or go to school when you can't get a fucking loan or a job that pays more than minimum wage. This is all supposing that you can get a job at all, and good fucking luck if you were unlucky enough to be born black and in north philly. Rich white folks still run 80% of the business in this city and (surprise!) they don't have a tremendous amount of love for brothers from the hood. I'm not saying that its all their fault, but how is one supposed to be upwardly mobile and legit in that kind of situation? It's not that no one can succeed, but the bar for raising yourself out of poverty and ignorance is high enough to preclude most average people from ever coming near that mark. So you sell drugs cause you want to go to school, have kids or eat non-chinese food or do anything that low-wage jobs keep you from doing. Or, you do drugs because your life sucks, and what the hell else do you can you do/have to do. Shit, 90% of my (relatively) rich white friends do drugs, and our lives are (relatively) great! How could I blame someone else for wanting to take the edge off? Anyway, the cycle goes on, depression and poverty fueling dealer and addict. I'm really dragging on, so I'll just finish with an anecdote and spare you an addiction is/is not criminal speil:

A man from Germantown was named "father of the year" by People magazine last year, because he apparently got a job and overcame poverty. He was raising his children right and doing everything a good hardworking American is supposed to. He was shot dead in a supermarket a few months ago, because it turns out he was running krill on the side and didn't pay his supplier back fast enough. This guy was selling to help pay for the expense of being a single father, that's it. No greed, no evil, not lazy, just couldn't quite make ends meet and keep his little girl on track. I think this is less of an isolated incident than it might sound. I think you have wages and economic oppurtunities that are so scarce that the large part of the population that doesn't/can't get a college degree starts to look for ways out of a lifetime of floor mopping and fashion buggery in obscurity. If government wants the drug trade to stop, they need to stop trying to pound individuals into submission, and start making some fucking jobs. The reason this never happens is (this whole litany is full of surprises) politicians would always rather make simple and symbolic gestures than difficult but meaningful ones. They don't give two fucks that one of the reasons we have so many dealers is our city owes to our leaders own incompetance over the last 30 years, and their ability to somehow stave off meaningful economic growth while other east coast cities are recovering from years of blight.

But where were we? Right, the blunt bill. If I might be even more bluntastically blunt, this law will not deter one person from buying drugs or stop one person from selling, and will probably just create an incentive for drug dealers to sell loosies alongside their weed. This might force a head shop to close, which makes Philadelphia's pretend "red light" district of South Street even more hokey and ribaldrious, instead of interesting. Not to mention that that's more business lost for the city, something we don't need to pass laws to encourage. I would actually bet that the revenue lost from blunt sales alone in Philadelphia amounts to about a billion dollars annually (at 1 dollar a blunt, it has to be somewhere around there, if my estimates are correct). That's a thousand out of work chinese, sheiks and arab cornerstore or gas station owners. Now they have no choice but to smoke or sell opium all day long and now we're really fucked. I'm fucking around, but honestly, legions of crack addicts and dealers arise from the mire of desperation and unemployment, its that simple. Perhaps the government ought to address those issues instead of trying to take petty armchair jabs at anything that analyzes or stores drugs (I include myself and a number of other philadelphians as things do both OR have the potential to do either).

If you read all this, I love you.
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Special Kate [Feb. 13th, 2006|11:30 pm]
The Voice of Fate
[Current Music |French class lab]

At the behest of a good friend, I'm posting some photos with actual people in them.

Klan PicnicCollapse )
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It was round and soft…Now get back to work. [Feb. 13th, 2006|07:27 pm]
The Voice of Fate
[Current Music |The sound of one hand clapping]

Hello all. Its been a long time since I've updated, but with patience comes reward. This is the first in a series of entries to show off some of the photographic work I did while I was in Europe. There is no particular order to the set, I'll just be posting about 20 photos I liked for the next few days/weeks, and see what the reaction is like. I would really like feedback, positive or negative, so that I have a better idea of what to toss and what to put into a portfolio.
After I get this series up I'll have some more assorted Philly pics, and some cliche Byberry Mental Hospital photos. But forget all those other underlit shots of corridors you've seen, these are going to be really, really, dark and introspective. I hope whoever the hell still checks in on this is doing well; leave me some comments. Outsiders will be treated warily.

My father taught me to kill the sunflowerCollapse )
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Portfolio [Jan. 18th, 2006|05:47 pm]
The Voice of Fate
Read more...Collapse )

Assorted Philly PicturesCollapse )
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Irish Car Bomb [Dec. 29th, 2005|04:42 pm]
The Voice of Fate
[Current Music |The Cheiftans or riverdance or some garbage.]

Writing from University College of Dublin computer lab. Ireland is quaint, and the beer is like a birthday cake and blowjob milkshake. Alcholism is already setting in. I never realized how ugly all my ancestors must have been. My report from Amsterdam will likely be longer and happier as I ween myself of of depressents and back onto old lady jane. I love you all. Except that one guy. You know who you are.
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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone [Nov. 25th, 2005|03:52 pm]
The Voice of Fate
I hope everyone enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast as fraught with tension, alchoholism, family grudges, and pie as mine was. I'm going to go wash the taste of stale Bailey's Irish creame out of my mouth, but after that, I hope to see all my delightful C of B friends. If I don't see you, know that I still love you, I'm just not "in love" with you.
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(no subject) [Nov. 2nd, 2005|01:17 pm]
The Voice of Fate
I noticed that a townhall meeting in Tinicum made it into the Philly Inquirer the other day, hosted by a group called Eco Bucks. The topic concerned a proposed 1,400 residences a developer wants to construct in the township. As of the 2000 census, Tinicum had a population of about 4,000. Sadly, this is nothing new for Bucks County.
We come from a place that is naturally beautiful; a rare sight amidst the suburban sprawl that has engulfed so many of our neighboring townships. We've all seen what's happened to Central and South Bucks. Unrestricted development is probably the greatest threat to our home, and I urge everyone to donate to Eco Bucks legal defense fund. I know many of you are far from your homes now, but think back to the fields and forests we grew up with. What would it be like if they were destroyed for nothing more than the profit of another housing developer? These companies are not building communities. They are building tract housing as inexpensively as possible, with no regard for the existing way of life in rural Bucks County. This is land worth preserving.

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Elephant's Graveyard [Oct. 6th, 2005|12:05 am]
The Voice of Fate
[Current Music |Big Black-Heartbeat]

Looks like I fucked up when I picked Worldisround.com to host my photos. It was the service that Katie used to publish her pictures from the pimps and hos party, so I thought it would work for me too. In conclusion, this whole debacle can only be blamed on Katie F. Keyser. Thanks a lot, I thought we were friends. Also, please tell me your impressions of these photographs, I'm very interested in what people think.
Pictures around my neighborhoodCollapse )

Assorted Philly PicturesCollapse )

I am death incarnate.
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My ?uestlove voodoo doll is now complete. [Sep. 17th, 2005|12:49 am]
The Voice of Fate
[Current Music |Roots-Dynamite]

I went to see the Roots and TV on the Radio tonight. It was probably one of the best shows I've ever seen, but more importantly, I plucked motherfucking ?uestlove's drumstick out of midair. It now resides deep within my vault of afro-celebrity relics, like an autographed Bill Cosby record and Morgan Freeman's left incisor. If you are ever fortunate enough to go to a Roots concert, know that you are in for a gift greater even than the gift of life.
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