In the Service of Good

There’s a bill in congress which will restructure how Oregon’s BLM and Forest Service land is managed, and some are calling it a giveaway to lumber corporations. The bill will remove environmental protections and allow “old growth” to be defined by an unelected panel. If it passes, there will more clear cuts and herbicide sprays. The land right outside my door is at risk.

public_land_private_profit

Outraged by this money driven system, I was inspired to get political and use my talent to help sway public opinion. Our congressman, Peter DeFazio, will be holding a town hall meeting locally, and with logging supporters pledging to show up in full force, it’s sure to be a fiery assembly. I plan to distribute these flyers broadly and enjoy the show.

Confluence of Influence

brambling_rambles

“do you really think you’re a prince? like wtf, omg.”

Aiight.

The other day I got together with a kind old lady in my community to discuss our common heritage: descendants of the Gregor Clan of the Scottish highlands. The “Mc” or Mac” prefix to the Gregor name, simply means “sons of Gregor”. Our clan was once rich with land, cattle, and castles, but though various conflicts with rival clans and the British monarchy, the MacGregor name was banished and the Clan members became outlaws. Having lost their land and possessions, the MacGregor’s became known as “The Children of the Mist”. From Wikipedia: “Reduced to the status of outlaws, they rustled cattle and poached deer to survive. They became so proficient at these endeavours that other clans would pay them not to steal their cattle as they exhausted other means of stopping them.” The slogan on the Gregor crest reads “S Rioghal Mo Dreahm!” which reads “Royal Is My Race!” in Gaelic.

I love this shit. I love stories of royalty and romance. Princesses and Princes. Bows and arrows. I want to learn about the Druids and Avalon. I want to feel the green hills of Scotland beneath my feet.

Been thinking about other things too. Watched perhaps the most intense movie I’ve ever seen, Enter the Void, which left me profoundly affected for days afterward. It convincingly felt like living someone else’s life… or more accurate, after-life. The movie is influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which I started becoming more interested in after the film.

According to the Book of the Dead, when you die, you go through various stages, from hovering above your own body, to wandering the universe alone, driven by desire and discontent until you find a suitable life to be reborn into. The prevalent theme is attachment. Anything you were attached to when you die becomes pain which haunts you in the afterlife. Each of us, being gods, gets exactly what we want. If you were attached to a lover in life, you will be reborn with the longing to find them. If your hook was power, sex, fame, food, or even the thrill of life itself, you will not find “release”, only more of the same.

Attachment.

Also been reading A Severe Mercy, a memoir so loving crafted it effortlessly lays bare the love by which it speaks. The author tells of meeting his future wife and the idyllic romance which ensues. The lovers love being in love so much (and are so dismayed by the prospect of love ever diminishing) they elegantly craft a life by which nearly everything they do is to support and grow their love for each other. “For love must grow or die…” Well, I haven’t got to this part yet, but one day it does die. Specifically, She dies. It will be interesting to see the author cope with the loss of the very thing he built his entire life around. It will be interesting to see how he dissolves attachment.

Been thinking about this kinda stuff too.

I went to screen a documentary called “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”. During the so-called “Redwood Summer” of 1990, environmental activists flocked to the forests of northern California to try and stop outrageously destructive logging of old-growth. A woman named Judi Bari took the primary leadership role, promoting non-violent civil disobedience and organizing the loggers against their corporate owners. Her and the movement were so terrifically successful, a bomb was planted in her car which nearly killed her. Of course the police and FBI tried to pin the explosives on her, saying it was an accidental explosion of a bomb the activists had manufactured. Long story short, Judi and the passenger she was with won a lawsuit against law enforcement for $4.4 million for trying to frame them. The actual bomber still has not been caught, though the FBI held “Bomb School” on clearcut land owned by timber companies weeks before the bombing, and video surfaced of them blowing up cars.

I left the film inspired. Here’s a woman whose bravery and conviction brought the national spotlight to the forests of Northern California and revealed the outrageous logging practices happening there. Through the fearless efforts of her and others, millions of acres of Forests were saved, and their spirit influences what Americans consider “acceptable logging” to this day. How’s that for a life well lived?

It makes me question if my work is helpful to anyone. It makes me wonder if publicly pining over lost love has any purpose besides satisfying some kind of twisted masochistic desire. Why is it that THIS is the subject of my art? After thinking much about it, I think I have an answer.

IT’S EASY. Writing sweeping epics that explore the endless variety of human experience is hard. Revealing and questioning the destructive nature of humanity, and doing it in an entertaining way so that people don’t feel like they’re being preached at… that’s HARD. Writing about your own emotional shit? Easy!!

spinadoodle
Sam Spina knows what’s up.

It’s also easy to get down on yourself for taking the easy way out… but you know what? Drawing is fucking hard. So choosing a subject matter that comes easily in order to learn how to effectively use this medium… that’s okay. I’m okay with that. I look forward to exploring broader (and deeper) subjects, but you can’t be everything at once. Things come in increments. That said, I’m also realizing that having TWO projects about my experience with lost love is not healthy for me. As much as I love Winston and the Prince, I need to scale back.

I only recently discovered The Postal Service album, Give Up. I know, I’m like 10 years behind the curve on this one… but really, the album couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only is it an incredible album that makes me want to dance around in my underwear, but it’s also largely a breakup album. Personally, the record has elevated my mood and brought me solace… and I bet it has for a lot of others as well. So although it was borne from a selfish place, its net effect is to have brought comfort and joy into the world. It gives me hope that the book I’m working on could serve a purpose larger than myself.

Been thinking these things and a thousand others. I seriously can’t wait until Spring.

Holiday Hauntings

On December 21st, I announced that I would no longer be working on my book. The decision came after continued frustration with being emotionally hung-up on my ex, one year after separating. The book I’ve been working on is based on my last relationship, and I blamed it for keeping her in my life, like an unwelcome ghost. In the announcement I said: “The main character of my book was a hard-hearted, bitter old man. I’m letting this book go to keep from becoming him.” The book would take me another year to complete, and I was unwilling to feed it any longer.

Now I realize the announcement was made in haste. Yes, when I came to the decision, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. And yes, I am eager to get on with my life and begin new projects. However, when showing people my work they always encourage me to continue, and when looking back on the completed pages myself, I remember how far I’ve come.

So there are two questions I’ve been asking.

1) Does this book have more to teach me? — Yes, I believe it does.

2) Can the emotionally loaded subject be somehow quarantined and not bleed into my thoughts and emotions? — I dunno. Should it, even?

I make an effort to live mindfully, have healthy habits, and laugh daily. But is it so wrong for a little part of me to become a bitter, old hermit? Don’t all writers become their characters, at least temporarily? Isn’t that how authenticity is achieved?

One Year

(Click for larger image)

Of course this dream is total bullshit: the other night I went drinking at a bar with friends, and I can’t honestly say I’d be above having a one night stand. Unfortunately you don’t always control your dreams.

Doing this comic was an excellent artistic exercise though. I allowed the pen to move quickly and freely, letting it do what it wanted without too much editing. After getting loose with this I moved into a critical scene of the graphic novel and nailed it. It came out beautifully, partly because of this lame dream and subsequent comic. Lately I identify with the Alchemist archetype. Turning shit into gold.