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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

End of a Year vol. 1: The obligatory album list.

It's (pretty much) the end of year! With that in mind, it's time for me to impose my meaningless opinions on you! (what else is new?) let's start this off with the obligatory list of my top 10 recording of the year:

10. Polar Bear Club- Clash Battle Guilt Pride (Bridge 9)

A lot of people really like this record, proclaiming it Polar Bear Club's best effort to date. While I prefer the more riff oriented guitar work on Chasing Hamburg to the open chord singalongs of Clash, it would be hard to deny that Polar Bear Club really hit what they were going for on this one. Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride is a far more anthemic and mature record than anything they've released previously, and it seems to suit them rather well. They've laid the groundwork for the rest of their career, and I'm excited to see where they take it next. Also, for what it's worth, it's interesting to see how much Jimmy Stadt's lyricism has improved since The Redder the Better.

9. Harms Way- Isolation (Closed Casket Activities)

About half way through the first listen of Isolation, I thought to myself, “what's the big deal about this band? Sure they're tight crunchy and all, but I've heard this a million times before”. Then, the outro riff to “Breeding Ground” grabbed me right by the dick and slowly dragged me through the rest of the album. From that breakdown on, Isolation takes a decided turn for the sludgy, as well as the experimental. It's here where Harms Way really step into their own thing and start showing off how good their songwriting can be. The band employ drum effects and samples in an extremely tasteful way, using them to punctuate their brutal sludge-yness and tasty mosh parts, instead of trying to detract from their deficiencies (a la Rise Records, etc.). The result is a very unique, forward thinking, grimy as fuck hardcore record. It turns out, you need the fun, moshy first half of the record to carry the momentum into the darker and ultimately stronger second half, which ends up working very well for Harm's Way.

8. Trash Talk- Awake EP (Trash Talk Collective)

Trash Talk, in my humble opinion, is the only Pitchfork-hyped band that actually deserves the attention they've received. Far less pretentious then fellow P4K darlings Fucked Up's latest, and far better than recent releases from similar sounding hardcore artists, Trash Talk's Awake EP is at it's core, good, clean, punk rock fun. Skipping out on all the weird, nearly inaccessible thrashing the band's been known to delve into, Awake sounds like four dudes just having a good time. Don't be fooled however, these guys have the chops to back it up, keep it fresh and free of sounding like self indulgent masturbation. My only complaint? Way too damn short.

7. Form and File- This is Form and File EP (Self Released)

I've pretty much said everything I can about this EP and this band on this blog already. So to sum it up, stop being a hick and just buy this shit already. A fresh take on an old style of music played by great musicians who are really just in it to create art and have fun. Can't ask for much more than that.

6. Various Artists – Run For Cover Records Presents: Mixed Signals (Run For Cover)

Anyone concerned with the state of music in the year 2011 obviously hasn't heard this compilation. If Run For Cover Records can find 12 similar sounding bands, each with killer tracks to spare for a comp, music's gonna be fine. One great thing about this compilation? At the time of it's release, only one of the tracks on it (Polar Bear Club's “Killin' It”) had seen the light of day. Another great part? Every single artist on this comp brought their A-game. Bands like Hostage Calm and Self Defense Family went straight up experimental with spectacular results, while bands like Make Do and Mend, Tigers Jaw, and Balance and Composure straight up wrote the best songs of their careers. Mixed Signals is through and through a testament to the strength of today's indie-punk/pop-punk/orgcore. Somewhere there's a kid in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt dismissing current music as “gay”, and one day that kid's gonna cut his hair, smarten up, and wish he'd always listened to comps like this.

5. Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) - Home After Three Months Away EP (Count Your Lucky Stars)

On this EP, Michigan DIY indie darlings Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) really hit their sweet spot. The band has a tendency, at some points, to get too far ahead themselves and kind of come apart at the seams halfway through songs. There's none of that on Three Months Away, however, as the band shows incredible restraint on a softer, albeit more impacting release. These four tracks are all gems in their own right, but together combine for 11 or so minutes of the most emotional music written all year. It's Mineral worship at it's finest, but in a quirky, completely unique fashion. The replay value on this EP is incredible; you almost can't help but listen to it twice in a row while pretending it's actually a full length.

4. La Dispute- Wildlife (No Sleep)

To be honest, I was worried about Wildlife before it came out. This band's first full length was amazing, and I was afraid La Dispute would go all Protest the Hero and take three years trying too hard to top it. However by the minute mark of “St. Paul's Missionary Baptist Church Blues”, all fear I had was stayed. Where to start with this one? First of all, Jordan Dreyer is a genius. Using an album as a collection of short stories? Are you fucking serious? If you have any doubts about his ability to pull this concept off, listen to “King Park” and kindly shut the hell up. The guy's a novelist trapped in a hardcore kid's body. As for the music, think Altair but with more restraint, more jazz, and more punk. In other words, some of the most interesting shit in modern music. The only downside to Wildlife is, like Altair, it's longer than it needs to be. However, that doesn't take away from how hard songs like “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit” and “Edward Benz” hit. Great stuff.

3. Defeater- Empty Days/Sleepless Nights (Bridge 9)

I can guarantee anyone who picks this album for their year end list is going to talk about the four acoustic songs at the end. To me, those tracks were just the cherry on top; Empty Days is a tour de force in it's own right. On this release, Defeater etched out their own little place in the annuls of hardcore history, moving out from the shadow of Mod Life/Have Heart with a sound uniquely their own. What's perhaps most impressive about the album is that it manages to keep up a heavy intensity without a single “mosh part” or chugga-chugga riff on it. It's atmosphere, subject matter, and Derek Archambault's piercing voice that make this album as great as it is. The Empty Days part of this album deserves a top 10 spot alone; Sleepless Nights catapults it into the top 5.

2. Trap Them- Darker Handcraft (Deathwish)

For years, Trap Them seemed to be lacking something vital. They've always been a talented band with a decent following, but could never separate themselves from the massive pack of “extreme music” bands nestled forever in the under-underground. With 2011's Darker Handcraft, the band seems to have broken that invisible ceiling in a highly unlikely way – with actual hooks! Sure, the guitar tones are amazing, the drumming is impeccable, and Ryan McKinney's vocals are crisp as all hell, but what makes Darker Handcraft a truly great album is the fact that it's actually a lot of fun to listen to. A lot of the songs on Handcraft follow a verse/chorus/verse structure, allowing the tasty guitar licks to get stuck in your head over and over again. Also, McKinney provides arguably the chorus of the year on “The Facts”. Seriously, listen to that song three times and try not to sing along by the last listen. It's impossible.


1. Title Fight- Shed (Side One Dummy)

I don't know exactly what possessed me to love this album so much, but holy shit did I ever. My iTunes says I listened to Shed at least 86 times, and that's without mentioning the fact that the CD hardly left the player in my car all summer. Title Fight came out of left field on this one, shedding their pop-punk punch for a more mature songwriting approach and a sound heavily influenced by 90's post-hardcore a la Small Brown Bike. The results are nothing short of spectacular; old school emo mixed with older-school hardcore to produce a sound that's as relevant and refreshing as anything else out there. Add plenty of variance in tempo and dynamic, near-perfect production by Walter Schreifels, and a whole fuck-ton of energy, and you have your record of the year, ladies and gentlemen.  

Listen to: Society, or just go buy the damn record...

Honourable Mention:

Annabel/Empire!/JDV/Reptilian- 4 Way Split EP
Dead End Path- Blind Faith
Ghostlimb- Infrastructure
Joyce Manor- Joyce Manor
Pianos Become The Teeth- The Lack Long After
Daytrader- Last Days of Rome EP
Teenage Bottlerocket- Mutilate Me EP
La Dispute/Koji- Never Come Undone EP
Touche Amore- Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
Retox- Retox EP
PS Eliot- Sadie
I Hate Our Freedom- Seriously
Cake- Showroom of Compassion
Foo Fighters- Wasting Light

Shit I didn't get to listen to enough to make an opinion on/haven't heard yet.

Raphael Saadiq- Stone Rollin'
Wugazi- 13 Chambers
Bon Iver- Bon Iver
The Fucking Hotlights- High Society Torture Party
Foundation- When the Smoke Clears
Cancer Bats/Black Lungs split (SERIOUSLY! GET ME THIS!)
Self Defense Family/Fires split
New Coalesce
New Make Do and Mend

So there you have it, my opinions on some albums you'll never listen to/didn't like. Keep it real, nerds!

Monday, 21 November 2011

While I should be sleeping...

So I recently read an article written by Burning House Records owner Casey Schafer on how downloading is preventing the music industry from having truly "successful" artists like Nirvana emerge, and how we should all support the Stop Online Piracy Act in order to have the Nirvana's of the world emerge from the underground and change the face of music forever. While I can respect where buddy's coming from (he owns and indie label, there's no way he's not getting fucked from downloading), I wholeheartedly disagree with everything he says in his article, which you can read here. I was gonna leave a short comment on the site, but a short comment turned into a rambling diatribe, and here we are.

Dear Internet;

I respectfully disagree with the argument that Mr. Schafer has presented to you all. His argument that downloading is stifling "successful" bands only works if you define musical success as selling lots of records, leaving career fulfillment and the actual product (the music) out of the mix. Right now there are PLENTY of bands who are making great music with what little they have, and don't need stadium tours and blowjobs from groupies to feel good about doing it.

In fact, there have always been artists like this, especially in independent music, where I'd assume Casey Schafer and the majority of this site's [Alternative Press'] readers draw their allegiances. Watch interviews with dudes like Henry Rollins or Ian MacKaye; those guys slept on floors for years and it never seemed to negatively affect their musical output or outlook on life. And hey, they don't look like they're starving these days, either. 

The fact of the matter is, there are many ways to make a living in music. While Radiohead and the Pumpkins were playing arenas and sleeping in 5-star hotels, bands like Hot Water Music and Converge were sleeping on peoples floors and eating off the dollar menu. Fast forward to today, and all four of those bands are still around, living more or less off music. Granted, while the latter two bands are probably not as well off, they've also had to work much harder to get to a point where music pays the bills for them, which should be endearing to anyone who genuinely loves music/has a soul, and probably feels pretty damn good if you're those bands.

If anything, downloading has opened more doors for underground artists to achieve a "Converge status" so to speak. I can tell you for a fact that the only reason I started listening to this kind of music is because I was able to download it illegally. Why would I take a chance on a style of music I'd never heard if I had to pay a grossly inflated price to buy a punk record at HMV? I can't be the only person in this scenario, either. The bands that I genuinely enjoy would be sleeping on a floor with or without the hit downloading takes to their records sales, so they really have nothing to lose and everything to gain with the easy avenue of exposure that downloading provides. And hey, when I finish school and have a decent full-time job, I'll have a bit more money to drop on music, so there's a good chance I'll be in a better position to reimburse the artists that have impacted my life.

It all boils down to this: Models change, and people either change with them or get out of the game.  Trying to stop downloading is a) impossible and b) ridiculously short-sighted. What we're seeing with downloading isn't the death of rock and roll; if anything it's the opposite. We're seeing the beginning of an age where musicians are judged on talent, work ethic and creativity as opposed to a sexy image. Isn't that something fans of punk/music in general should be embracing? I mean, no matter how important music is to us, at the end of the day, musicians are just playing fucking songs. If anyone believes they're entitled to make millions of dollars for doing it, I'd advise seeking therapy. And as for the whole "being the biggest band in the world" thing, go ask Cobain/Hendrix/Morrison/Elvis how fulfilling  it was to them.

PS: It's all speculation on my part, but I don't think we'll have to wait too long for the next Nirvana. The underground now looks a lot like it did when Nirvana came out of the woodwork; there are a ton of really creative, diverse bands popping up everywhere building a lot of momentum within the underground. I wouldn't be surprised if something huge came up in the next 2-3 years *coughtigersjawcough*.

PSS: This article doesn't even delve into the business start-up/political ethics issues presented by the Stop Online Piracy Act. This act is seriously some draconian horseshit, and I encourage you to do something about it. I dunno, maybe occupy something or whatnot...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The 20 Best < 2 min. songs of the last 20 years (Part 2)

I just wanna preface this by asking the good reader something; do you know how many terrible grindcore songs and 40 second clips of people rambling in Ebonics you have to weed through in iTunes to find 20 good songs under two minutes in length? Literally thousands. I hope you enjoy the fruit of my labour, dicks.

10. Black Lungs- Stay Outta Parkdale

Okay, this is a good song and all, but what's with the "Parkdale is HxC" posturing? Parkdale's not even like the fourth sketchiest neighbourhood in Southern Ontario. Ever been to Windsor? Hell, that's not even getting into all that sketchy shit north of Hwy 7. I'd much rather a meth-head steal my bike then have some deliverance shit happen... just sayin'.

9. Every Time I Die- Gloom and How it Gets That Way

Jesus, it takes longer to write the title of this song then it does to listen to it. Anyways, this is a really good song, and I had no idea it was under two minutes, so I was stoked to include it on this list. Yeah, I don't really have anything clever to say here... move along.

8. Comeback Kid- Our Distance

Man, say what you will about Comeback Kid, you can't deny their guitarists write some gut-busting riffs. The outro riff to this song can only be described as "fuckin' tasty bro". PS, how do you spell tastey? Google Chrome doesn't like tastey, but tasty looks kinda stupid. Although now that I think about it, so does tastey. Okay, fuck it, it's a "delicious" riff.

7. Hot Water Music- Instrumental

Keeping with the theme of mindfucking, why the hell would a band name a song with vocals "Instrumental"? I mean, from what I understand, the song was originally written as an instrumental piece, but why wouldn't they change the title after adding words. I guess they were too jacked up on whiskey and "friendship" to care... Also, just so you know I'm not mindfucking you, the song above is called "A Flight and A Crash". It's just over two minutes, and on the same album, so I figured it would work for our purposes.*

6. The Reptilian- Peyote Ugly

This is a really trippy song... I wonder if The Reptilian wrote it on peyote. The lyrics certainly sound hallucinogen-influenced. "Footsteps made heavy trace our way/I don't know where I'd rather be than sitting on this porch with you till the summer goes away." Shit's pretty trippy man. After all they were talking about space nugs. I haven't done drugs in a while, so maybe that's code for something these days. God, pretty soon I'll be writing commercials for the government calling ecstasy "love drug" and stuff like that. I'm getting old...

5. Title Fight- Dreamcatchers

Yeah, I'm out of shit on this one... This is just a really good song by a really good band. Easily the highlight of that America's Hardcore compilation. Dig it.

4. Tigers Jaw- Heat

Is this song about the army? I tried to look up the lyrics, but I'm pretty sure they're wrong everywhere. If I'm looking into this correctly, Heat may be the first anti-Army recruitment song I've ever heard. I mean, there have been plenty of anti-war songs, but an actual anti-recruitment song, I think that's a first. That's pretty clever, especially considering I thought Tigers Jaw only wrote songs about chicks. However, I could totally be misinterpreting the lyrics here, so let me know.

3. Pig Destroyer- Thumbsucker

Every time I listen to the intro of this song, I get the mental image of a big black dude on a chopper wearing a German war helmet and a cutoff leather jacket, swinging a mace around his head while riding through the gates of Hell. That's probably the coolest mental image a song ever has given me. Well, aside from "Moist Vagina", but that's private.

2. Have Heart- Pave Paradise

You know when you listen to a short song that's really good, so you listen to it again and again until you end up listening to it for like 20 minutes straight? That's really all I have to say about this song.

1. The Flatliners- This Respirator

Apparently, I have a soft spot for songs about sitting in vans. Coincidentally enough, this is my little sister's favourite Flatliners song.


*If you have any taste in music, you'll already know the song I'm talking about. HWM 4 LYFEEE!

The 20 Best < 2 min. songs of the last 20 years (Part 1)

This is pretty self explanatory. Why the last 20 years? Because 80's hardcore (for the most part) bores me senseless, and I don't want to deal with some weird troll whining about me not including some shitty Mission of Burma song written before he was born. I almost made an exception for "Out Of Step" and a Swingin' Utters song. Almost.

20. Anal Cunt- Hitler Was a Sensitive Man

A chilling, beautiful portrayal of post-Cold War society. Also, my little sister's favourite Anal Cunt Song.

19. Savage Brewtality- Ballad of the Yuke

The most (only??) structurally interesting song Savage Brew has ever written, "Ballad of the Yuke" is yet another chilling portrayal of... something... I can't really understand what they're saying, but after listening to it like five times, I'm pretty sure it's about drinking dregs. Again, compelling social commentary for sure.

18. The Melvins- Sweet Willy Rollbar

When people write two minute songs, do they even bother writing lyrics, or do they just mumble shit? Fortunately for The Melvins, it doesn't really matter, because this is arguably the finest minute and a half of grunge-punk ever recorded. Sweet guest vox by Chewbacca at the beginning, too!

17. Nirvana- Moist Vagina

Not to be outdone by their hometown heroes, Nirvana clock in at 17 with a demo version of their song "Moist Vagina". Why the demo? Well a) the actual song is over two minutes and b) two minutes is about as long as I can listen to someone sing about moist vaginas without getting bored/horny. The only discernible lyrics in this version are "She has a moist vagina" and "marijuana", and if that's not the basis for a great song, I don't know what is.

16. Bane- What Holds Us Down

Just when you thought this list was gonna be filled with fun songs about drinking dregs and Hitler's moist vagina, here comes Bane and their crunchy breakdowns, on some serious trip about society, as always. God damn straight edge kids always ruining the party...

15. Teenage Bottlerocket- Skate or Die

Ah, there we go... nothing like a pop-punk song about skateboarding to lighten the mood. To be honest, I can't tell if these guys are being sarcastic with this song. I mean, I'd pretty much expect TBR to be skateboarders judging by the music they play, but the singer certainly sounds sarcastic. To be honest, every Teenage Bottlerocket song sounds sarcastic... Maybe they're going for that "high-irony" hipster vibe. Fucking hipsters, with their PBR, shitty blogs, vaguely leftist political beliefs and snobby music tastes...

14. AFI- I Wanna Get a Mohawk

HAHAHA YEAH! AFI sure showed those 12 year-olds how uncool it is to co-opt punk rock trends that have been mass marketed to them. Watching little kids dress all outlandish just to fit in without truly understanding subculture sure pisses me off! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go to listen to Reinventing Axl Rose.

13. La Dispute- Then Again, Maybe You Were Right

An Open Letter to Jordan Dreyer of La Dispute:

Jesus Christ Jordan. I know you've got this whole warrior poet vibe going on, but can you write just one song that doesn't shatter our hearts and stomp on the pieces? I mean, it's a great song musically, but metaphorical ghosts of past lovers seems a little heavy, don't you think? Why not write a song about Mohawks or Chewbacca or something... there's plenty to work with here, bro.

12. End of a Year- McEnroe

Not only is this a great song, it showcases an interesting period in EOAY's musical development, as it's more melodic than much of their earlier stuff, but still very raw and punky. What, did you expect me to make a joke here? There ain't no time for joking. Self Defense Family is not no joke. What, you callin' me a house-nigga?

11. Converge- Buried but Breathing

In an interesting turn of events from the top of the list, this is the only Converge song with lyrics I can actually understand. Maybe there's some weird paradox where vocals in short songs get more discernible as the song gets better. That must explain why I picked this song over "Concubine", I can't understand a fucking word on that album. Sorry trolls, Petitioning the Empty Sky > Jane Doe.

This is getting really long, so I'm gonna break it up into two parts. See ya on the other side, nerds.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Long Lost Reptilian Interview

(In lieu of Youtube not working on my computer, please check out the Reptilian's newest/oldest stuff here)

So, about two months ago, I traveled to beautiful Kitchener, Ont. to catch Kalamazoo, MI's The Reptilian with Jowls and a local band called Life in Vacuum. It was a night full of marvelous adventures, not the least of which involved watching The Reptilian tear shit up in an abandoned warehouse that had been converted to a jam space. I interviewed the entire band that night, but due to some "technical difficulties" the majority of the interview was lost. However, being the good dude he is, drummer/vocalist Dan Riehl saved the day by filling in the blanks. Here goes...

Vince: How's Canada been treating you?

Dan: It's our first day on the tour, but pretty good so far. We got stopped at the border because they thought we had drugs, but we didn't, so it's been good.

You've recorded a split with Jowls, stoked on that material?

We are very stoked on that material! Our two bands aren't very much a like but I think the split has a great contrast and the Jowls songs are really epic.

Anything else coming down the pipe we should know about?

Yes. We also just released a 4 way 7" split w/ Empire! Empire!, Annabel and Joie De Vivre and that is out now on Count Your Lucky Stars Records. Also, we are going to be doing a split with Innards from Ft. Worth,TX. It will be out in time for our west coast tour in January with them. And we just recorded a minute long song that is going to be on a 7" compilation of one minute long songs from 13 other bands. That will be out in late winter.

How hard is it to play drums and sing at the same time? That seems like it would be pretty challenging, especially since your drum parts aren't exactly a cakewalk. How long did it take you to get that down?

I started doing some of the vocals when we went from a four piece to a three piece. We all decided it might be nice to try back and forth vocals between Jon and I because we were losing a guitarist. Usually we write the song first and I try to write the vocals to my rhythm. Pulling it off live is very frustrating sometimes but I really enjoy the challenge. 

You guys are gonna be featured in the movie DIY or not. How did you get involved in that?

On our way to SXSW in Austin,TX last year, we did a lot of dates with our good friends, Joie De Vivre. Their friend, Matt Youngblood, is the one who shot all the footage and is putting together the documentary. We pretty much got involved by hanging out with them and Matt.

Would you consider yourselves a DIY band?

Yes. I would like to think so. We started this band by just trying things for ourselves. We booked shows and tours ourselves, ran local house venues and put out our musical by  ourselves and with the help of our friends. It was a lot of trial and error. And in the process we have made a ton of friends and helped us play a ton of places I never thought we would. 

Were there any themes that movie touched on that you consider important as a band or on a personal level?

Well I haven't seen the movie yet, I believe there is only a preview for it. But doing things together and with people who are your friends and genuinely being excited for each other's music is a thing that is very important to us.   

Western Michigan seems to be a breeding ground for a lot of good technical post hardcore bands (La Dispute, V!FTS, you guys). Is there a history of that kind of music in your area or is it just kind of emerging now?

There is a definitely a huge history of bands in Michigan that have influenced us a lot. For me personally, Bear Vs. Shark and Small Brown Bike are two bands that have had a big impact, and they've been doing this for a while. I think Michigan is a great place to start a band and see great local acts. 

Along with the bands I just mentioned, there are a bunch of other good bands from that area, many of whom have gone on to have success on a non-local level. Is it cool to be involved in a music scene that's actually good?

The Midwest music scene is definitely an awesome thing to be a part of. It's crazy to have played with bands in basements, churches and art spaces and see them doing things on a bigger level now. 

How do you feel that kind of community has affected your career/musical output? (opportunities for shows, good musicians to jam with, pressure to be your best, etc?)

It has affected us a lot. I don't think we would still be doing this if we didn't have the support of our friends in this area. I feel very grateful for having such a great community to call my home. A lot of states/cities don't have a solid DIY community. It is a rewarding feeling to go on tour, come home and be able to return the favour for bands that have helped us out and give them a great show in our town. 

If aliens landed on earth and you had to explain your music to them, how would you describe your music to them?

Dingus punk

If the aliens liked your music and invited you onto the spaceship, would you go with them?

Only if they were smokin' some space nugs.   


News: Finally, the fabled four way split between The Reptilian, Annabel, Empire! Empire! and Joie De Vivre has been pressed and is ready to be/has already been (???) released. Purchase that shit, as well as your favourite Reptilian/CYLS releases here!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I'm glad the OWS protests are still going on. Reading about politics drives me insane, so any knowledge I have of current events either trickles down through Punknews or comes to me in highly flawed format via Facebook/word of mouth. As a result, it usually takes me a while to hear about something, gather all the information on it, and formulate a relevant opinion, so I sometimes end up getting bored or missing the boat on stuff (read: London riots). I wrote something about the Occupy Movement a couple of weeks ago, but decided to scrap it because it wasn't up to par. I'm glad it's still around, because it's worth commenting on properly.

At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss the Occupy Protests as a left-wing temper tantrum akin to the right's Tea Party Movement-- a textbook case of entitled reactionaries demanding somebody fix their problems for them. It seemed amusing to me that people would use the slogan "We are the 99% (sic)" when they live in a country that pretty much ensures they're part of the 62 per cent that have access to a bathroom that ensures hygienic separation of human feces from them and their water supply; let alone the 20 per cent that live on more than 10 dollars a day.

But then something dawned on me. I'm a very fortunate individual, even for the first world. While still firmly planted in the 99 per cent, my family did have enough money to pay for my education, so I won't have any student loans to pay off when I finish school. I'm also fortunate enough to have grown up without anything happening to me or my family physically that would impede my ability to function as a member of society, and even if something did, I live in a country where recovery from accidents and disease doesn't include dealing with the price tag. I understand not everyone has these luxuries, and saying "well, at least you have clean water," would be like saying "let them eat cake." And hell, when you're struggling to pay off student loans/medical bills/a mortgage, it's got to be a little insulting to see your government take your money and give it to billion dollar companies, just to watch bosses of said companies fly around in private jets while your country's economy shits it's pants. I get it; where there's smoke, there's usually fire, and for some people, this fire's burning pretty hot.

But the problem with OWS and the subsequent Occupy Movement is that even the biggest plume of smoke won't do anything to put the fire out. Especially this plume of smoke, which is rather opaque in that it has no clear directive, motive, or message aside from "fix our problems for us." And let's face it, the government isn't going to do that, especially for a bunch of people sitting in a park without billion dollar corporations and hired lobbyists to stand on. The way to get our voices heard has to be through a paradigm shift.

One of the earliest pictures I saw from the OWS protests was one of a man holding a sign that read 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', (presumably) a reference to a Gil Scott Heron poem of the same name. If you asked that man what the slogan on his sign meant, he'd probably tell you something along the lines of "the only way to fix something is to take action, sitting at home watching TV does nothing" which is undoubtedly true; but there's a deeper meaning in Heron's words. The revolution isn't something you could put on television if you wanted to. Revolution starts as a small change in attitude, and by the time you realize it's hit, the change has already been made.

When OWS ends (as it inevitably will), it won't be because Obama demands the bailout money back, or because Wall St. CEO's altruistically make it rain with their million dollar Christmas bonuses. No when this is over, Time Magazine will have some pretty pictures to print for their 2011 year in review, someone will have some explaining to do for weeks of missed work, and that's it. Any time spent between now and then in some park somewhere is time wasted. Don't get me wrong, I'm as down to smash the state and create a better world as the next guy, but if we want to do actual damage, we have to hit them where it hurts, their pockets.

Doing this (without resorting to some weird, doomed to fail bank default scheme) means changing our lifestyle and attitude to be much less dependent on the billion dollar corporations we decry. It will be a hard fight, but there's no other option. If we don't stop supporting notorious outsourcers like Wal-Mart and Nike because it's cheap and convenient to do so, our manufacturing sector will continue to dwindle. If we don't stop blindly medicating ourselves with FDA approved products instead of taking care of ourselves physically and mentally, the pharmaceutical industry will continue to have a disruptive hand in everything from healthcare reform to sensible drug policy. If we don't teach our kids that knowledge, work ethic, passion and life experience are far more important than a piece of paper from a "prestigious" school, we'll continue to have outrageous post-secondary tuition and banks eager to collect interest from duped, jobless students. Most importantly, if we don't stop valuing superficial traits like wealth, image and popularity over knowledge, life experience, and love, we will never truly be free.

The Occupy Movement is not enough. It's not even a start. It's a warning shot, a sign that we're ready for a change. The thing the protesters and supporters of the movement have to remember is media hoopla and political attention do not equate to change, action does. In other words, the revolution will not be televised, my friend.