Please Call the Epic Pass Something Else

Anyone functionally literate knows that in our modern parlance, there is possibly no word more overused than “epic.” Even the original internet curmudgeon who only writes like twice a year anymore took time to put his stamp on it eight fucking years ago. It’s like “awesome” but never quite casualized down to the point where it sounds nonchalantly correct when somebody says it. For it to be the defining word of the Colorado ski industry’s season pass advertising campaign, which is seen on billboards all over town and heard on radio spots constantly it can be an aggravating experience, especially for those of us who don’t understand or will never reap the tangible benefits. Mountain sports aren’t really for me, I don’t like being recreationally cold and a ski lift is basically a ferris wheel it’s easier to murder somebody on. The Epic Pass makes Colorado feel like living in a state populated entirely by 14 year-old boys playing Fortnite, another thing I’ve never participated in but I’ve about had it with all the same.

Costing nearly $1000 but available in a variety of restricted tiered flavors, the Epic Pass is probably an objective bargain if going down a hill screaming “wheeee” is your thing. Maybe you’re one of those jackasses that leaves them clipped to your snow jacket, desperately inviting conversation at a Starbucks from some other guy in pants everyone can hear when he walks. It’s fine. That’s your thing. I hope both of you end up like Sonny Bono, or Liam Neeson’s wife, whichever celebrity ski death reference is going to track, but it’s your stupid thing and everyone has one. For the rest of us, if as a society we could just rename it that’d really be great. I’ve got some suggestions!

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Double down on the irritating and obviously dated cool-guy lingo and let’s just go with Tubular Pass! Embrace snowboarding’s awkward DayGlo roots, rock a Wyld Stallyns t-shirt, and hit the slopes with a pass good all season in Colorado, Utah, and Lake Tahoe for one low price! You’re so cool. You bought a fanny pack before the ironic phase, drunkenly cut your own Trevor mullet after Charlie Blackmon decided on turning himself into the walking embodiment of a Duck Dynasty season 4 DVD, and you’re just 2 blazed 2 care. Get up to the timeshare, pound some natty ice, stash that vape pen, hit the lift, and go fuck yourself, brah.

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People like truth in their advertising, so this rebranding campaign would emphasize the nearly three hours in traffic you’ll spend getting from the gentrified, traffic-clogged hellscape of Denver to Silverthorne, a 65-mile drive. Sunday, after you’re hungover from lodge drinking, you’ll have another three hours of mind-numbing traffic to nurse your sore body and ruminate in contemplating suing a child for running into you at 10AM on Saturday. Leave your yuppie LoDo condo life behind for a weekend so you can huff Suburu exhaust fumes until you get so hungry you settle for the seventh Burger King you see in Frisco instead of the planned family meal at Beau Jo’s Pizza (it’s Colorado style!), which you could’ve just gotten in Arvada on the way up. You could take the ski train from Union Station to Winter Park, but you paid almost $1000 for this experience, you’ll be damned if you’re not going to resort-hop in your own Porsche Cayenne. You can’t listen to Imagine Dragons and get all pumped for the slopes on a shuttle! BELIEVER!

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Perhaps I’m being unfair in characterizing people who have hobbies that cost upwards of $5000 a year as resort-dwelling snobs or the type of pampered rich kids that fly in and rent RVs for music festivals. Maybe it was my young California upbringing, where for the base payment of a surfboard and some training in creative parking you could have a lifelong pastime that connected you to nature and a whole community of people in your area. In Colorado, nothing is affordable anymore, and if you work for less than $60K a year, forget being able to live in anything less than a two bedroom house with eight other people you met on Craigslist. Who has Breck condo money these days? This pass reflects the realities of being working class in Colorado while still trying to engage in some kind of recreational activity so you don’t blow your brains out all over the Fryolator. For the low cost of $450 on the season, pick one mountain to ski all winter long, and we’ll throw in your lodging: a futon in a trailer we’ve euphamized as a hip “tiny house” built for resort staff. You’ll be sharing it with a lift operator that’s been addicted to percocet since he blew out his knee in 2007 or a ski patrolman that targets Chinese tourists indiscriminate of gender for his sexual predilections. Bring some kush and craft beer, it’s used as currency in the employee “villages.”

Murdering Death Row Inmates With the Drugs Murdering Everybody Else

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Carey “Mustache” Moore

In a macabre twist in the already insanely cruel, dehumanizing, and ultimately pointless process of executing convicted criminals in the US, officials in Lincoln, Nebraska opted to use the opiate Fentanyl to kill Carey Dean Moore this week. Moore was convicted of killing two Omaha cab drivers in the late ’70s and was regarded as one of the longest-serving death row prisoners in the United States. The drug, popular among traffickers as a cutting agent to increase potency in heroin, has been largely responsible for skyrocketing overdose rates during an opiate abuse epidemic that’s raged for more than a decade. Eric Stoltz was evidently prophetic as drug dealer Lance in Pulp Fiction that heroin was coming back in a big, big way.

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The United States has had a real hard time executing people lately. Many pharmaceutical chemists in Europe stopped most exports of sodium thiopental in 2010 either because they were fundamentally opposed to the death penalty or because they no longer wanted their products associated with executions. This has led to barbaric experimentation with various drug cocktails leaving condemned men the victims of botched executions, arguably violating statutes against cruel and inhumane punishment as well as strengthening the cases and increasing the numbers of death penalty opponents.

There’s something fundamentally childish and simultaneously dystopian in watching, on average, 200 people per day in 2017 overdose on drugs, looking at the problem of obtaining chemicals used for executions, and deciding that there’s a solution there. Just as the heroin and crack crises of the ’70s and ’80s were very much manufactured, controlled demolitions of targeted communities, it’s not a stretch to say that between deliberate corporate over-prescribing of opiate pharmaceuticals at the turn of the century and the subsequent “crackdown” there’s been a concentrated effort to criminalize wide swaths of the (primarily poor) population at the benefit of a for-profit prison and drug rehabilitation system. It goes without saying that there’s no greater form of social or population control than a populace completely strung out on opiates.

What irony, of course, that a drug wiping out everyone from the American underclass to suburban teenagers to celebrated artists is now being employed to execute the nation’s most neglected social caste: prisoners. Even sweeter, state agencies are likely using dubious, less-than-legal methods to obtain the drugs, topping off the contradictions of a drug war that has seen the rapid end of marijuana prohibition in almost half of the country (despite thousands remaining in cells over its trafficking and cultivation), the research and eventual prescription of MDMA, ketamine, and psilocybin to combat veterans and others suffering from PTSD, and the proliferation of microdosed LSD to programmers in Silicone Valley working on the nation’s next most useless (or eventually globally nefarious) tech export.

The Highwaymen Are Now Boarding

high·way·man 

/ˈhīˌwāmən/

noun historical

noun: highwayman; plural noun: highwaymen
a man, typically on horseback, who held up travelers at gunpoint in order to rob them.

 

When you get back on a sub-par metropolitan public transit system, especially after a brief respite, there’s sometimes new nuances and customs to learn. I’ve detailed the bad taste in my mouth Colorado’s Regional Transportation District has left after thirteen years of residency and service before, but my most recent return to this town’s buses and trains during arguably the hottest summer this city has ever seen has left me shaking my head in a puzzled, Kafkaesque bewilderment. As the city pushes more and more poor and working class people out, forcing longer commutes, RTD is pushing another fare hike and aggressively pursuing so-called “fare dodgers” on the light rail lines. I don’t know why I even let myself be surprised anymore.

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I’ve prepared a graph.

Anecdotally speaking, the vast majority of people I’ve seen ticketed are either underage kids with expired transfers who would be riding on economically negligible fares anyhow, commuters who chanced it instead of missing a train because of slow ticket kiosks and validation processes, and regular, every day people who paid for the “wrong fare.” Armed men, sometimes uniformed security contractors and sometimes plainclothes city police, will board the trains from “random” stops and like hall monitors checking to make sure you’re allowed to be going to the bathroom, pace the aisles checking tickets. If you’re not squared away, they take your identification, take your picture, and put you in a database with a warning. If you’re already in there, you’ll get a ticket for more than $100.

Of course this happened to me.

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Fooled By the Robot Men

In my early twenties, when I was Very Involved in politics, some of the fiercest disagreements I had with close friends was in regards to space exploration and the objectivity of technology and civilization divorced from a capitalist context. I’ve surmised a lot of my steadfastness, even in the face of what I’d conceded as good arguments I also agreed with, came from a profound appreciation for perceived left-wing science fiction from writers like Ursula K. Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson. Marx’s premise of “technology liberating the worker” as laid out in Capital also resonated with me; as did an understanding that Earth seems to be fresh out of frontier and I had a theory that even if it was a business or state enterprise getting us apes off the rock, that could open up space for horizontal social and economic experimentation as well as the hopeful opportunity of marginally more bloodless pushes for autonomy by becoming pioneers on dead worlds.

Colonization without displacement, subjugation, or genocide but with all the possibilities of homesteading in intentional communities. Literal distance creating freedom by simply being ungovernable far enough away from authority. Sowing arguably, at this moment in human history, the rarest resource in the known universe: life, in an effort to back up consciousness and continue observing where time, space, and entropy take existence.

Anarchists on the Moon

It’s some real Stephen Hawking stoner bullshit, perhaps, having a desire to existentially preserve the species by ensuring nuclear war, global warming, disease, or some other cosmic calamity on Earth doesn’t wipe out the only confirmed sentience so far. The most common counterpoint I heard was usually about how the money and resources invested in even the present nascent space programs could be spent fixing problems we have on Earth. While I don’t disagree, there’s something to be said about return on investment. Scientific and technological breakthroughs made through that research have helped revolutionize a variety of fields that could help mitigate a myriad of issues, particularly in the Global South, in regards to things like water sanitation and food cultivation in harsh environments.

Medical marvels like modern prosthetics and the CAT scan were developed largely in part because of technological advances made in the Space Race. It’s easy to reduce launching giant missiles into orbit as basically a weapons test dick waving contest between geopolitical rivals, but you’re discounting the scientific progress that has genuinely helped millions of impoverished and/or sick people by utilizing the harsh laboratory of space. These ballistics can sometimes have ulterior motives.

Why couldn’t the same be true for social sciences? There’s a powerlessness, lack of space, and opportunity to do just about anything as an alternative to capitalism associated with living on a planet which has already had it’s land carved up and parceled out by a dominant economic and political culture. Time after time, revolutionary movements are crushed or co-opted by a stagnant status quo that has seemed to engineer its soft power in a way that makes even small rips in an oppressive social fabric colossally difficult to pull off. What if voluntary association, a central tenant to most anarchist philosophy, was actually an option and people could just… leave?

The capitalist will tell you that because the system is designed to promote competition, the best ideas and solution rise to the top in the marketplace of ideas. Observing western civilization since the fall of the Soviet Union, however, certainly makes the case that capitalism festers into a min/max game of widening inequality and nepotistic cronyism becomes the dominant social force once there isn’t a “sufficient” rival. Continue reading →

Bill Burr’s Brainwashing: The Incessant Podcast Advertising is Starting to Work

If you’re everyone, you listen to podcasts. If you’re Caucasian, you HAVE a podcast. I’ve got a lot of favorites, Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast is one of my favorite things to listen to, Chapo Trap House is lovely, Streefight Radio tells me listening to Orchid is “good praxis”, Doug Stanhope makes me want to drink and also quit drinking, and the Crooked Media guys keep me informed about the inner workings of American government while simultaneously reminding me why I’m not a centrist Democrat politically.

What most podcasts have in common is the same smallish pool of advertisers. While I understand how toxic advertising is to the human mind, its constant barrage warping and controlling your desires, I understand it as a necessary evil in the present day and am generally not opposed to it if it’s done in good taste. MeUndies, Trunk Club, Blue Apron, TommyJohns, Sheri’s Berries, Stamps.com… You know them all. The live reads might be easy to skip, but some people, particularly comedians, understand that if the read can be content, rather than a sterile recital of copy, I as the listener am more likely to listen to it. For instance, Bill Burr’s MeUndies jingles, almost never the same thing twice, are absolutely hysterical:

If that doesn’t have you puttering around the house going “owwwwwhhhhh boo doop boop boop” you’re dead inside. I’ve gotten used to them, and I don’t skip through even if the hosts aren’t “enhancing” the read. I want to support the shows. After years of pirating radio shows with the commercials and reads edited out, I’ve let the podcasts just sell me their shit or ask me for money on Patreon. I’ll buy the book, follow on Twitter, whatever.

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