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Below: C-level's Endgame: Waco Resurrection at the Kitchen. Players wear plastic polygonal David Koresh heads, and guide the onscreen Koresh around the burning compound, saving souls and shooting Feds. The inside of the virtual compound is exquisitely mapped with lots of plywood paneling, pile carpet, and Davidian women in pantsuits. Periodically Koresh lifts his rifle heavenward in an ecstatic gesture; at the spoken command "Gunshow!" an arsenal of weapons appears around him like a ring of holy fire. All my reservations are still intact after seeing the game live and fooling around with the interface.
Part of BushCo's "It's all good in Iraq" propaganda push was bragging about restoring the marshes that Saddam drained to catch elusive "marsh Arabs." See how environmentally friendly we are (at least abroad)? Well, the flip side of that particular coin is our Sharon-esque bulldozing of fruit trees further north. I guess some environments are just better than others.
US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz [?!]* blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops. (The rest is over at CounterPunch)That makes me sick--I mean, we invaded their country, shouldn't they be fighting back?--as does the following statement by Joshua "Conventional Wisdom" Marshall:
I certainly donít think we should pull out of Iraq. More importantly, I donít know many of what Iíd call mainstream foreign policy voices who think we should pull out of Iraq any time in the near future. (No, Dennis Kucinich doesnít count.)Ha ha ha. So funny. Marshall's blog is well written and researched and all, but utterly conventional in adhering to the inside-the-Beltway zeitgeist of defense contractors, right wing think tanks, & scary Likudniks. It's too bad Kucinich isn't a stronger presence (some commentators describe him as creepy), because we need a real peace candidate, especially now that Dean has endorsed Sharon's attack on Syria. Stop the Middle East madness (or at least, our part of it)! I noticed Kucinich is co-sponsoring a bill with Houston libertarian Ron Paul to roll back portions of the USA Patriot Act. Good! That's where I find myself, at least on the subject of US imperialism and domestic spying--over where the far left meets the far right. The tiny, antiwar minority. Hey, we've been right so far.
*Cecil Taylor? Ornette Coleman? Nah, probably "smooth jazz."
Mercer Street - 2
Trees - 0
The wind blew down a big tree across the street from my apartment. It completely crushed a late-model sporty car that had the misfortune of parking beneath it. A couple of months ago, I watched aghast as some lame-ass utility contractors (for PSE&G, according to a neighbor) cut through the roots of that same tree to put in a new pipe. They loosened it just enough; today their negligence bore fruit. That's the second tree down on the block this year, not counting recently planted saplings that got scraped to death by who knows what.
Michael Sailstorfer, Schlagzeug, a slightly larger-than-life drum kit made entirely from a police car, at homeroom, Munich (the green and white colors would be recognized instantly by Munich residents as "cop colors.") In the background: a painting by Douglas Melini. The exhibition dates were May 31 - July 18, 2003.
Eddo Stern and Mark Allen of the digital art/gaming cooperative C-level spoke last night at the Kitchen. Much discussion centered on their new interactive game Endgames: Waco Resurrection, which premieres there October 16. Gamers enter the "mind and form of a resurrected David Koresh" through custom headgear--voice-activated, hard-plastic 3D "Koresh heads" worn like helmets. Koresh is the sole point-of-view character in the game; up to four of the (multiply-resurrected) cult leaders can play at a time. Inside the game, players defend the Branch Davidian compound against "internal intrigue, skeptical civilians, rival Koresh[es] and the inexorable advance of government agents. [...] Players voice messianic texts drawn from the book of revelation [to gain converts], wield a variety of weapons from the Mount Carmel cache and influence the behavior of both followers and opponents by radiating a charismatic aura." Each Koresh's objective is to convert as many followers as possible from among the government soldiers, rival Koresh flocks, and stray civilians (I think) wandering around the compound, before it meets its inevitable fiery doom.
Hearing this project described, I was a little concerned that it was applying bad-boy-cheeky humor to an event that is still problematic and much-debated: essentially the annihilation of 80 some-odd US citizens by their own government because they were different. (The Waco constabulary didn't think the Davidians, who'd lived outside the town for years, were a threat, armed or not--only the self-righteous, glory-hungry Feds who did the photo-op raid spun it that way.) Turns out the game is a high-concept, retroactive re-imagining of Waco based on the post-Clinton rise to power of a cult far scarier than Koresh and his crew:
Waco Resurrection re-examines the clash of worldviews inherent in the 1993 conflict by asking players to assume the role of a resurrected "cult" leader in order to do divine battle against a crusading government. While the voices of far-off decision-makers [audible inside the plastic Koresh head] seem resolute and determined, the "grunts" who physically assault the compound appear conflicted and naive in their roles. The game commemorates the tenth anniversary of the siege at a unique cultural moment in which holy war has become embedded in official government policy. In 2003, the spirit of Koresh has become a paradoxical embodiment of the current political landscape - he is both the besieged religious other and the logical extension of the neo-conservative millennial vision. Waco is a primal scene of American fear: the apocalyptic visionary (an American tradition stretching back to Jonathan Edwards) confronts the heathen "other." In Waco Resurrection, the roles are anything but fixed. (Emphasis added.)But surely "the clash of worldviews inherent in the 1993 conflict" was the secular, bureaucratic state vs. go-it-alone visionary cultists. C-level seems to be arguing that the naked fundamentalism of BushCo reveals a covert fundamentalist agenda behind Clinton/Reno. That premise may be shaky, but there's no question that if Waco occurred now rather than '93 it'd be Clash of the Holy Rollers. In any event, this seems like a lot of doctrinal subtlety to put into a computer game, but I should probably watch a few rounds of play next week before commenting further.
UPDATE: Photos and more discussion here.