Author Archives: Phil Rockstroh

A careless bully at the KFC at the end of empire

Will Trump go to war with the Iranians or the homeless? Or both? Continue reading

Captain Pia Klemp arrives as David Koch departs the United States Of Altamont

‘We are lived by powers we pretend to understand.’

Fifty Years after rhapsodic auguries of the acid-informed era involving the coming “Woodstock Nation,” the US citizenry—convulsed by violence, strung out on all the wrong drugs, and with the Rolling Stones still touring—stumble in mortification through the grim phantasmagoria of the United States Of Altamont. What a long, strange, bad (Nixonian in its dour, paranoid cultural and political aura; Reagan/Clinton/Obama in noxious, neoliberal fantasy; Bush/Trump in cresting tsunamis of raging stupid) trip it has been. Continue reading

Bodies on the ground and the rise and rise of the economic elite

Trump is not an anomaly of a morally bankrupt nation, but rather an emblem

The United States of America is less of a nation than a collective, psychotic episode. Continue reading

Walking in an Anthropocene wonderland

According to a recent, exhaustive study commissioned by the US Department of Energy and headed by a scientific team from the U.S. navy, by the summer of 2015, the Arctic Ocean could be bereft of ice, a phenomenon that will engender devastating consequences for the earth’s environment and every living creature on the planet. Continue reading

Fear in a handful of dust: The sacred vehemence of imagination in a soulless age

From the picture window of our family’s eighth floor apartment, at the intersection of 23rd Street and Avenue C, we have a view of the inhuman currents of the East River and the dehumanizing, vehicular currents of the FDR expressway. The tenor of the river is timeless while the FDR’s voice is mindlessly urgent . . . an addict on a dope run—evincing the urgency of an errand undertaken to relieve distress but trajectory hurtles towards annihilation. Continue reading

The United States of Whatever

Ecocide and the soul of a nation

The reality of and the outward toll inflicted by greenhouse gas engendered climate change is clearly evident (to all but the corrupt and devoutly ignorant), e.g., increasingly destructive and deadly tornadoes and hurricanes, destruction of marine life, severe droughts and rapacious wild fires—landscapes of death, scattered debris and shattered lives. Continue reading

Within the national (in)security state: Fear as a constant companion

Life, as lived, moment to moment, in the corporate/consumer state, involves moving between states of tedium, stress, and swoons of mass media and consumer distraction. Therein, one spends a large portion of one’s economically beleaguered life attempting to make ends meet and not go mad from the pressure and the boredom. Where does a nebulous concept such as freedom even enter the picture, except to be a harbinger of an unfocused sense of unease . . . that all too many look to authority to banish? Continue reading

Tyranny of the reasonable

Popular complacency in an era of economic exploitation and perpetual war

Throughout the course of human affairs, scheming elitists—let’s call them the Plundering Class—have devoted their days conceiving strategies and executing agendas that serve to enrich the fortunes of a ruthless few (namely themselves) by an exploitation of the harried and hapless multitudes. They scheme, hire silver tongued flacks and muster soldiers to do their biding, while, all too often, the rest of us squander the fleeting days of our finite lives in their service. They plot while we hope. They hoard the bounty of the world while we hoard resentments (generally misplaced upon those equally as power-bereft as we are). Continue reading

Fortune’s fools

Individual calling at the cusp of ecological catastrophe

As a general rule, musicians, artists, and writers, as well as those possessed of an ardor for self-awareness and a commitment to political activism have been advised to avoid a habitual retreat to comfort zones . . . to take note of the criteria that causes one’s pulse to quicken, brings flop sweat to the brow, causes sphincters to seize up, and delivers mortification to the mind. In order to quicken imagination and avoid banality, it is imperative to explore the fears that cause one to awaken in the darkest of night to stare bug-eyed at the ceiling until dawn; to embrace discomfort; to shun crackpot complacency; to wander through the teeming polis of the psyche, and, in so doing, to not only stray and mingle among the outcasts, demimonde and mad, but proceed to the locked-down wards of the region’s lunatic asylum, and make an exhausting inquest into the nature of the hopeless cases that have been hidden from public view. Continue reading

Empire of panic and ephemera: Applying rigorous imagination to America’s paranoid style

In the consumer paradigm, one is induced to exist by Eric Hoffer’s dictum: “You can never get enough of what you really don’t need.” Wherein, the individual exists in a state of perpetual adolescence, emotionally oscillating between life lived as a bliss ninny and evincing chronic dissatisfaction. Continue reading

The Great Dismal: ‘What we speak becomes the house we live in’

The repercussions of our acts—the constructs we create—endure well past the dissolution of our convictions and desires. Our actions exist as living architecture that surrounds the breathing moment. Future generations will dwell in the world we erect, thought by thought, deed by deed. Continue reading

Late stage capitalism and the shame-haunted life: You can’t kill trauma with a gun

In an era of corporate-state colonization of both landscape and mental real estate, when the face of one’s true oppressors is, more often than not, hidden from view, thus inflicting feelings of anxiety borne of powerlessness over the criteria of one’s life and the course of one’s fate, often, to retain a sense of control, people will tend to displace their anger and shame. Firearms provide the illusion of being able to locate and bead down on a given target. (How often does a person without wealth, power, and influence have any contact with—or even a glimpse of—the financial and political elite whose decisions dictate the, day by day, criteria of one’s existence?) Continue reading

Grappling with phantoms

The financial cliff, the war on Christmas, and other dim tidings of political disconnect

As we draw near to the Winter Solstice and the days shorten, one’s thoughts are drawn inward. Continue reading

A crucible of political disenchantment: ‘Dismiss whatever insults your own soul’

Weltschmerz (from German; from Welt (world) + Schmerz (pain) delineates the type of sadness experienced when the world revealed does not reflect the image of the world that one believes, or has been led to believe, should exist. The corporate/consumer state (as well as, its scion, the present day presidential election cycle) has brought us, as a people, into a wilderness of weltschmerz. Continue reading

‘Awake we share the world; sleeping each turns to his private world’

A couple of decades ago, upon returning to Atlanta, Georgia, after spending a year abroad, I would frequent an independent bookshop that contained a small coffee shop/cafe, where I would sip tea, read books and periodicals, and engage in the nearly extinct art of long form face-to-face verbal discourse with other habituates of the cafe. To this day, I have long standing friendships with a number of people I came to know during those years. Continue reading

In The Land Of Never Was: The last, desperate hours of Climate Chaos deniers‪ and capitalist rah-rahs

Often, the world . . . forever unfolding, recombining, morphing, dying and transforming . . . changes before the mind can grasp the implications of the ongoing alterations. This is the basis of nostalgia, for memory freezes the world like an insect encased in amber. Continue reading

After the fireworks have faded: Intimations of bosons among a cacophony of bozos

On July 4, the people of the U.S. marked the passing of another year’s perfunctory, Independence Day festivities. The date, also, was occasioned by the formal announcement from physicists at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) that, according to the banner headline at CERN’s official website, “Higgs within reach [ . . . ] Our understanding of the universe is about to change [ . . . ] [Our] experiments see strong indications for the presence of a new particle, which could be the Higgs boson.” Continue reading

Not dark yet, but I have seen the Footlong Hot Dog of the Apocalypse

Almost exactly ten years ago, in June of 2002, my wife and I were driving through Colorado, on our way from Los Angeles to New York City. In the early afternoon, while paused to tank-up our Toyota Corolla, at a massive convenience store/self-service gas island that boasted of “two-for-the-price-of-one, One and One Half Footlong Hot Dogs.” we watched a family of six emerge from a late model, oversized pickup truck, proceed into the store, and return with a bounty of hot dogs and super-gulp soft drinks. Continue reading

In the name of my father, part II: In the shadow of the corporate state madhouse

My parents modest, single-level, brick home stands on property that was once part of a sprawling estate owned by the Candler family, Atlanta’s Coca-Cola patricians. Built during the post-war 1950s building boom, the small house is situated in a deep ravine that once served as the grounds of the Candler’s private zoo. On the hilltop above, the point of highest elevation in the Atlanta metro area, the Candler family, in the tradition of the powerful and elite, laid claim to the highest ground. Continue reading

In the name of my father: Requiem and renewal in the shadow of Wall Street, in the light of a Georgia spring

On May 1, after a day of May Day activities on the streets and avenues of Manhattan, my wife and I and a troop of other OWS celebrants marched into Zuccotti Park to jubilant exhortations of “welcome home” from a throng of fellow occupiers. The next day, my wife and I boarded a southbound Amtrak train to join family gathered at my dying father’s bedside to bid him farewell. Continue reading

The Big Empty: Eating Cheetos with the hungry ghosts of the corporate state

Due to the consolidation of wealth and privilege into fewer and fewer hands, thus requiring escalating amounts of officially mandated surveillance and brutality to maintain social order, the natural trajectory of unregulated capitalism tends towards hyper-authoritarian excess, even towards fascism. Moreover, by the standards of capitalist ideology, and exacerbated by the rigged nature of economic and social arrangements—large segments of society are deemed losers, and, resultantly, will grow restive, if scapegoats aren’t invented to mitigate a sense of humiliation and displace rage. Accordingly, rightist demagogic fictions can seize the psyches of large segments of the general public: immigrant interlopers wreck the economy; minority layabouts suck-up public funds; gays and women, possessed of dubious morality, destroy the nation’s moral fabric; lefties are driven to challenge the system, but only because of their spite, born of jealousy. Continue reading

Resisting palliatives in an age of oligarchic excess and Anthropocene Age devastation

Wall Street is again flush with the electronic facsimile of the stuff once known as money. But this is a Botox Recovery: A superficial procedure, accomplished with a nerve paralyzing poison, reserved for the wealthy whose vanity has driven them to transform their faces into caricatures of corruption . . . to acquiring a countenance, frozen as a creepy doll, incapable of showing emotion—a grotesque simulacrum of the human face. Continue reading

Reclaiming the commons: Taking human lessons in the era of H.R. 347, corporatism and perpetual war

With increasing velocity, since the advent of the post-Second World War national security state, then gaining speed with the incessant search and destroy mission waged on the U.S. Constitution known as the War on Drugs, and kicking into a runaway trajectory in the post Sept. 11, 2001, era—the increase in totalitarian impulses, among both the general population and corporate and governmental elite of the nation, has proceeded at an alarming rate. Yet, baffling as the fact remains to those possessing a modicum of political awareness, large numbers of U.S. citizens persist in believing they dwell in a representative republic, governed by the principles of individual rights and civil liberties. Continue reading

On regaining a spirit of defiance: ‘I’m worried now but I won’t be worried long’

The course of action taken by the present day U.S. political class in addressing the era’s rising tide of economic hardship and ecological peril has proven as helpful as tossing an anvil to a drowning man. Continue reading

Cash of the Titans: Against the noxious fantasy of limitless growth

The concept of endless economic growth, accepted as sacrosanct by both U.S. mainstream political parties, and internalized as the dominant mode of mind by the general population of the corporate/consumer state is mirrored in the exponential mathematics of a malignancy. Continue reading

Love, work, and dissent in a time of hazmat suits and political hypochondria

Recently, discourse, within the free-range pathogen zone of the U.S. political realm, has been infected and inflamed by the use of verbiage (applied both in the metaphoric and literal sense) related to disease and contagion by editorial scribes and political hacks. For example, we have been informed that Occupy D.C. sites were attacked and destroyed by police authorities for reasons related to public health and hygiene. Continue reading

A journey to the end of empire: It is always darkest right before it goes completely black

There is no reality-based argument denying this: The present system, as defined by the neoliberal economic order, is as destructive to the balance of nature as it is to the individual, both body and psyche. One’s body grows obese while Arctic ice and wetlands shrink. Biodiversity decreases as psyches are commodified by ever-proliferating, corporatist/consumer state banality. Continue reading

Occupying libido: Negotiating a landscape of hypocrisy and hungry ghosts

When Bill Clinton and his scary, scary libido stalked the public realm, Republicans warned his presence was so anathema to all things holy that his hot breath served to salt the wings of choirs of angels. Continue reading

Secrets of empire and self-deceptions of partisans

Yet a howling defiance into the darkness of the corporate state night

It is laughable (in a weeping outright sort of way) that Obama and his fellow Democratic Party supporters and apologists can’t find a more resonant campaign theme than, “We carry out the agendas of the national security/bankster/militarist state (i.e., the one percent) while appearing to be less crazy than Republicans.” Continue reading

Recovering from Authoritarian Simpatico Syndrome (ASS)

Witnessing the acts and utterances of Republican presidential candidates can be regarded as a helpful psychological exercise, a type of “exposure therapy” involving the development of methods used to bear the presence of unbearable people who insist on evincing the history of human ignorance, duplicity and insanity. Continue reading

‘By imbeciles who really mean it’: Lost verities and dirty hippies

Regardless of the dissembling of corporate state propagandists, free market capitalism has always been a government subsidized, bubble-inflating, swindlers’ game, in which, psychopathic personalities (not “job creators” but con job perpetrators) thrive. By the exploitation of the many, a ruthless few have amassed large amounts of capital by which they dominate mainstream narratives and compromise elected and governmental officials, thereby gaming the system for their benefit. Continue reading

Amid the architecture of declining capitalism: Memes, death genes and real estate schemes

The recent pepper spraying “incident” at the University of California at Davis represents more than an opportunity to create a cleverly Photoshopped, viral meme. The act is part and parcel of a larger collective mindset—a proclivity towards authoritarian overreaction now deeply internalized in daily life in the U.S. Continue reading