What Money Can't Buy

“Despite all the noise, we are now a largely joyless society that finds little or no authentic meaning within ourselves. This plainly human problem of a socially crushed individualism must be understood before we can fix what is wrong with Wall Street.”

~Louis René Beres

Pulled this quote from an article in the Chicago Tribune.

This story is an example of good journalism. Read the story, mull over the words. Consider your actions while I consider mine.

Whatever it is you think you need, think again. Put down the credit card, it seeks to enslave you. Remember when you were a kid and a piggy bank was your way of saving toward something you wanted?

Reinstate the "piggy bank rule" in your own life again. If you don't know how to stop spending money on things you don't need then get help. Professional help.

Sell your car, get out from underneath the monthly payments. Sure, you may have to "take a hit" monetarily when selling it but that initial "hit" will be nothing compared to the "hit" you'll be taking from the banks interest rate by the time the car loan is paid off.

Buy a reliable, used car outright if possible (I rocked a '93 Honda Accord for a couple of years before i moved to Seattle). Even better buy a used bike if you don't absolutely need your car (and trust me, I understand that bike riding isn't a feasible option for many of you who live outside of the city and away from a town center).

I'm not trying to tell you how to live and spend your money (I understand that America is a "free" country and that means you have the "freedom" to be imprisoned by debt if you so choose it. Personally, I just don't consider that freedom).

I suppose I could go on dispensing random ways for people to live a simple, debt free life but i think i'll stop here. I didn't plan on doling out any suggestions when I started writing this post, it just kind of happened.


I Create

I create.
I conjure up visions
Like Disney brainstorms
Different ways to storm
Your three year olds brain
With pictures of what they call
Beauty and others call beastly.

You cannot convince me we
Were meant to live this way.
See because before I learned to
Speak in the languages of men
i knew right from wrong,
love from hate,
and heaven from hell.

Heaven was wasn’t some idea
That could only be had after death
No, it was loving others in the midst
Of their self hatred and mine.

I create.
Not like the developers
whose capitalist wet dreams
are to colonize our neighborhoods
transforming them into hollowed out
holes they dare to call homes.
Where living
is the last verb that comes
to mind and dying seems
a more feasible and apt
descriptive noun.


A Fight

I’ve been thinking about fighting. Not in the fist to fist, gun to gun kind of way. Not fighting as in “my parents just got into a really bad fight and it sucked”. No, not that kind of fighting.

Maybe struggle is the word I'm looking for, but a fight is what it feels like. I’ve been thinking about fighting in the sense of basic human rights. I know, “basic human rights” is a completely subjective term when used in comparison with the rights of others in countries that aren’t the United States.

But I live in the U.S. and as so my expectation for basic human rights encompasses things like affordable, humane housing, a working wage that can sustain basic food needs (meaning food education and healthy, local, organic food being affordable for everyone in America, not just white folks like me) and basic living needs (yet again I understand that the term “basic” is a fairly loaded one. Especially in a country where one persons “basic” means 300 channels on a flat screen wall mounted plasma t.v. while at the same time a single mother is working three jobs just trying to earn enough money to buy the meds her son needs just to keep from having epileptic seizures).

I suppose universal medical care is too much to ask of from the richest country in the world. Oh wait; we are the richest country in the world because we exploit not only the peoples of other nations but also the people of our very own nation, putting them in the chains of debt slavery if they even dare to get seriously ill or happen to be born anything short of perfectly healthy.

What is an insurance company if it isn’t anything more than a glorified, government endorsed mob system? You pay your monthly “coverage” just in case anything happens to you and then if, god forbid, something does happen you have to fight with the very company you “paid off” all those years just to get them to cover the costs of your medical care.

Anyone else see the madness in this?

So we fight. We fight for what shouldn’t have to be fought for (should equality have to be fought for?). Its like drowning and trying to kick your way back to the surface only to be accosted as soon as you get your head above water with questions like, “why do you need air, why do you want to breath?”

Why do I need air? What kind of question is that? Because I was made to breath the same oxygen that your lungs need.

Come to think of it maybe I am talking to the wrong audience. How many of you reading this even know what I am talking about? Have you even experienced this struggle? Have I? Am I just standing on top of the mountain and acting like I know what its like to be living in the valley? Perhaps.

But if you live in America and grew up middle class you’re either going up the financial ladder or falling off of it; and whether it’s intentional, situational or circumstantial most of us are falling. You think you cant relate to the poor in America well don’t worry, most of us are quickly headed to poverty.

I don’t say this as a bad thing. The poor need a voice in this society as much as you or I do. And not just a voice but a voice that is heard and acted upon. Truth of the matter is most of us wont live and struggle with the poor until we ourselves are impoverished.

I know, my views are “out there” and very polarizing. But I'm not here to make you feel fuzzy inside and I'm not here to mince words. If you want that listen to any of those talking heads the corporate media outlets broadcast 24/7, they’ll say whatever it takes to get your vote.

I struggle with my privilege. I am white, male and assertive in a country where we have never had anything but white males as presidents. If I am hesitant to speak out it's only because it’s so easy for me to do it. I have the resources at my fingertips. I speak and people listen. This power scares me.

So I struggle with this power. Maybe that’s the fight I speak of. A fight to not become disconnected from the reality of the world around me. A fight to not get rich, a fight to not get lazy, and a fight to not get sucked into a lifestyle that would take me away from the everyday struggle that many Americans live within.

And just too end this rather heavy post on a lighter note I’ll show you one fight that we can all be excited to struggle through: a pillow fight. That’s right. While cruising the city with my good friends Sam and Jen we were able to witness a pillow fight flash mob in front of Pike Place Market. And it was awesome! Here is some footage of the chaos that ensued as soon as the whistle was blown. Enjoy.


On Protesting

My friend Kathryn left a comment asking some really good questions. The comment was left in reference to a statement I made agreeing with the actions of six anti-war protesters at a Catholic mass on Easter Sunday. Her questions prompted enough thought from me to warrant an entire post as my response. Oh, and just in case you were wondering this is a Kathryn approved post; I got her permission before posting it.

Here is Kathryn’s comment in its entirety:

“what's the point of protesting? in my opinion, it's to raise awareness or to persuade someone to believe what you believe.
am i right? so, i don't see how this is doing that. people are aware of the war, the catholic church is anti-war, so they aren't raising awareness.
and do they really expect to persuade people by disrespecting their God by disrupting a service where they are mourning the death of their God?
i know you aren't a christian corey, but come on. do you really think that's okay to do?
i hate war. but it's sad to me that you think this is right on.”

She asked, “what's the point of protesting?” and then gave your opinion. I agree that protesting is very much about raising awareness. But not only is protesting about raising awareness it is also about “publicly expressing an objection to what someone (or a body of someones) has done”.

With that in mind I saw the protest that the Chicago Six pulled off as a way of calling out a hypocritical body of supposed believers (and those who lead them). I saw it as a way of breaking down the divide between a “safe, me and God centered mass” and a public declaration of something that the bible clearly speaks out against; namely loving your neighbor as yourself and not killing.

Americans tend to be a thick headed and hard-hearted people. We rebuke anyone who speaks too much truth or speaks it in a way we don’t deem to be socially acceptable. It’s a shame that this rebuke happens in the one place where truth is supposed to spoken (a church building).

She asked, “do they really expect to persuade people by disrespecting their God by disrupting a service where they are mourning the death of their God?”

Were the protesters trying to persuade people?
Do you think they went into the church that morning thinking they would have a procession of congregants cheering for them after they began there protest? Of course not. They knew people would hate it and hate them for doing it. They knew they would probably be arrested and silenced as quickly as possible.

They didn’t go into that church to make friends or followers, they went in to make a point and to hopefully spur discussion and thought from the hundreds of people who directly saw them (and indirectly through the thousands that would later read about their actions through newspapers around the nation) that day.

That’s great that the Catholic Church is anti-war in speech; but people are tired of words, they want to see peoples beliefs in action. Show me how they are anti-war, show me the actions behind the words they are speaking.

People didn’t follow Jesus simply because he said things that resonated within their hearts, they followed him because he lived out what he believed.

In closing I’ll ask this: Why isn’t the church an acceptable place for the people to protest? Wasn’t the life of Jesus a protest? Wasn’t it an audacious act of protest when Jesus rolled into the temple and turned over the moneychangers tables?

I don’t care if the American public and the Catholic Church say they are anti-war. I was at a protest in West Lake center on the fifth anniversary of the occupation in Iraq and saw maybe 150 people gathered to show their disdain against the actions of the American government in Iraq. Where was the Catholic Church? Where were the American people?

It bums me out to see people driving around with “Out of Iraq” bumper stickers but completely failing to see the hypocrisy in this. The government is in Iraq in large part because of the thing their bumper sticker is attached to and what it runs on: oil. We want to make a statement? We say we hate war? Try walking, try running, try riding a bike instead of driving. These are only a few of the many things we can do to put actions behind our beliefs.


Bringing It Home

What better way to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ than to have an anti-war protest in the middle of mass. This is one of the most "right on" direct actions I've ever seen. We need more "in your face" protesting.

Thanks for the heads up Julie.


Two Stories

I stood on the roof and watched the sun set one last time. We would be kicked out of our apartment only a few short weeks later and I was cherishing the view from up here while I still could. Mt. Rainer loomed enormous far behind this city of men, putting into perspective just how petty our tallest buildings stood against the backdrop of a dormant, snow covered volcano.

Feet shuffled unwillingly to the edge of this two-story structure. I am not fond of heights. But I am fond of gaining a new perspective so I braved the roof and even peeked over the side to the street below. 43rd, the street directly in front of me, ran east to west and became a sort of hallway for the last rays of sun to be channeled within. Human shaped silhouettes emerged from the darkness on either side holding coffee cups and dog leashes, passed through the corridor of light, then resumed their journey back into the sun forsaken shadow lands.

Then there was a sort of waddling figure slowly dragging its old bones across the light. With a cane in one hand and some bags in the other I watched this weary soul leave the light and head for a bench beneath the green bus stop shelter. Even from my perch up on the roof I could see some sort of dark stain covering the entire backside of his light colored pajama bottoms.

No, surely it wasn’t that. Perhaps it was coffee. I mean after all, he had been sitting in front of the coffee shop before he made his short trip across the street. Yes, that was it; he had spilled coffee on himself.

But then came a woman with her dog. The woman walked by and acted as if everything were normal but dogs don’t follow societal protocol. He tugged on his master’s leash as the pants in question put his keen sense of smell on high alert. The dog sniffed at the pants and his owner had to pull him away.

It was not coffee.

Immediately I wanted to run down from this rooftop and over to this man who obviously was not having a good day. I wanted to help him in some way. But instead I waited for the bus to come. He would get on the bus and then be gone from my neighborhood and from memory shortly thereafter.

Here it came now, the articulating bio diesel carriage pulled to a stop in front of the Laundromat. Everyone boarded before him. He was slow, too slow for the world around him and so he came last. He disappeared into the bowels of the bus. But it did not move forward. I could see the bus driver through the big front windows turned around and talking to someone.

He wasn’t going to let him ride. After a minute the doors opened back up and the old man; defeated, mortified and stranded, made his way out of the bus and back to the place where he had started. The doors shut abruptly behind him. I could almost hear the passengers inside breathe a collective sigh of relief as it pulled away.

So there I stood. The sole witness to this depressing scene. I was disconnected by distance; two-stories above this mans life and the situation he was currently struggling through. Who was this man anyway? Where was his family? His sons, his daughters, his wife?

My feet pulled me away from the edge, across the roof, down the ladder and back into the apartment. My heart pulled me over to the dresser where it proceeded to instruct my hands to grab a pair of jeans, underwear and then a plastic bag to stuff them into.

I light out onto the sidewalk, crossed the street and found the old man sitting on a bench. What do I say? How do I offer him a change of clothes but still help him to keep some small shred of dignity (if he had any left) intact?

As I approached him I could see that my fears where correct. He had in fact soiled himself. I slowly made my way to the bench and sat down next to him. The bag in my hands rustled in the breeze. He didn’t look at me.

Stupidly, I asked him why the bus driver had kicked him off the bus. He didn’t answer. I just got right to the point and told him that I lived in the apartment across the street and that if he wanted to he could use my restroom to change out of his soiled clothing and into the jeans I was giving him.

He said no, but that it was very kind thing of me to suggest. I countered that the bus drivers wouldn’t let him on the bus if his pants looked like that. Then, in an effort to try and somehow relate, I told him that we all have bad days. Cheesy crap, I know, but I didn’t know what else to say. I hadn’t shit myself in public since I was 3.

His voice quivered and then he mumbled something about how things weren’t going well. I gave up trying to convince him that he should change out of his pants and asked him where he was trying to get. Aurora was his reply. Ok, that’s not too far away, I could probably find a ride for him if he wanted one. No, he said, I’ll figure it out somehow.

He was a broken man and I could tell that he didn’t want to accept my help. Or perhaps he wanted to accept it but was too embarrassed to allow for it. Freedom was his last right.

I sat next to him in silence for a minute.

Well, I brought this bag down here for you. There are some jeans and clean underwear inside. Do you want them? He turned toward me, held out his hand and said yes. I gave him the bag, bid him farewell and got up to leave. He said he didn’t know how to thank me enough. I told him it was ok and I was glad I could help.

Before I could round the alley that led back to our garden tears were gushing from my eyes. I wept for a lonely life of embarrassing and uncontrollable public bowel movements. I wept because I'm a big baby. I wept because this mans helplessness helped to put my life into perspective.



It’s something else to see this public square that’s normally only inhabited by glassed over consumers or bedraggled homeless filled instead with anti-war protesters and Tibetan refugees singing prayers for those struggling back in the homeland. They light a candle in remembrance of loved ones living under oppression, living under occupation.

It’s something else to see normally sleepy, apathetic Americans take to the streets and actually put words to their disgust. Five years and too many deaths later (how many is “too” many anyway? Isn’t one too much?) Bush is still standing behind his decision and claiming that the illegal occupation of Iraq has been, and I quote, “worthwhile”.

I'm ashamed to say it but I elected this ass for president both times. What can I say; I lived in the south and didn’t know much about politics at the time. I was naïve and ignorant. I'm not anymore. I know more about this system we live within then most would ever care to hear. I know what makes us insane. I know what keeps us enslaved.

But you don’t want to hear about that. I suspect a lot of you who view this blog are thrown for a loop when I write these political and inflammatory posts. I know that there are still a good chunk of readers who have been following my life for a few years now via this blog and the one before it. You’ve seen a fairly dramatic shift from a young, wide-eyed missionary to a poetic wanderer and eventually into a disenchanted and apathetic unbeliever. Most folks don’t live this transparently. Perhaps I'm a fool for keeping this online journal. Fool or no I’ll still keep on writing, still keep on changing.

If you’re not changing you’re already dead. So stay safe inside of your dead thoughts and let them serenade you into a dead sleep. People have asked me why I am so radical. I think the question I would like to ask in return is why they are dead to the world? My life only looks so “radical” because I live in one of the most socially oppressed nations on earth. It’s not hard to be radical in a nation where not driving (or owning) a car is seen as something only hippies do.

If refusing to not have debt (also known as debt slavery), not work 60 hours a week, and not shop at Wal-Mart makes me a radical then so be it. Funny thing is I don’t even consider myself a “radical” individual. I see myself as a sane man asking sane questions in an insane culture.

What kind of questions are you asking? Are you even asking any at all?


Speak Up

The flag above you belongs to a people who have been and are continuing to be exterminated, demoralized and crushed by a cruel Chinese dictatorship. I am not going to launch into a full on history of the Tibetan peoples struggle to hold onto their land, their culture and their religious freedom. You can read about it on Wikipedia if you like.

This post is about media and the overwhelming influence it has in shaping the perspectives of those watching, reading or listening to the stories they are “reporting”. I am voicing a direct rebuke against the government of the United States in their lame duck response to Chinas latest wave of violence against the peaceable protests by Tibetans in Lhasa.

Thus far the American government has responded to the latest siege of Lhasa with only this response, “The United States told China on Friday to act with restraint when dealing with protesters in Tibet”.

Act with restraint?! What kind of a rebuke is that? Why not send out a response stating that our hearts go out to the millions of Tibetans who have lived through the hell of foreign occupation for the last 60 years? A demand for the Chinese government to get the hell out of Lhasa and Tibet altogether? A plea for the American public to take to the streets in a show of solidarity against the inhumane and deplorable treatment of fellow human beings?

Why do I even hint at asking these kinds of questions from a government such as the one I live beneath? Because it is what should be done. Because, as Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

And in other news I'm gonna call out Senator McCain for his latest fear driven statement. A statement that reveals the direction he would surely take the already beaten and weary American public if he were elected into presidency. It goes like this, “John McCain said on Friday he fears that anti-American extremists might attempt spectacular attacks in Iraq to try to tilt the U.S. election against him.”

That’s just what America needs, one more thing that we should supposedly fear. One more reason for us to pull away from the rest of the world and turn insular. Thanks McCain because that’s the kind of leadership we need. Leadership that leads not by truth and honesty but by tactics rooted in fear and speculation. Coward. I’ll call you out.

Forget this mediacrocy. Create your own. A D.I.Y. independent media network. Say what needs to be said. Say it from the heart. Speak the truth. Have conversations with those around you. Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors.

This silence is killing us.


Learning To Breath

I’ve been thinking about my generation a lot lately. More specifically I’ve been thinking about the many conversations I’ve had with those in my generation and how those conversations tend toward apathy or hopelessness. We are in a tough spot. For those of us who have access to television or the internet (and in the U.S. that’s a good majority of us) we are surrounded by a constant barrage of depressing and/or downright overwhelming news.

Here is a short list of things you should be aware of and worried about:

-Polar ice caps melting
-Rising seas
-Global Warming
-Global Cooling
-Economic Collapse
-Clean Water Shortages
-Peak Oil
-Your Next Door Neighbor
-Everyone And Everything

This is the age of theories, the age of opinions, the age of scientific backing for whatever you want to believe in. One media outlet says this as fact while another says the opposite. Some say we are doomed, others say there is hope.

And then all of the noise turns to a dull hum and I find myself alone, in a room trying to listen to my heart override the desperate situation my mind has created. I become paralyzed and beyond overwhelmed. I sigh. I sigh again. I sigh a third time and then pitch myself backward onto the me-sized mattress that sits huddled against one white bedroom wall.

Where do I start with all of this? How do I live? How do I keep some sanity amongst all of this insanity?

If the world is ending tomorrow,
or next year or in 2012 or whenever the hell it is that this theory or that states it surely will then how do I live right now? How do I get up from this me sized mattress to live in a world whose problems seem far beyond me?

Who am I and what can I do?

Then I talk with my housemates, talk with my friends, talk with my neighbors and talk with my family. I try to love all of them on varying levels. I look at what is around me, immediately around me, and focus on that. Today this friend is depressed and just needs someone to talk to. Or perhaps a neighbor is lonely and needs nothing more than a 5-minute conversation to help remind them that they are not alone in this world. Last night I called my grandmother. I had not spoke with her since Christmas (I know, its lame). We talked until my phone ran out of minutes and I cherished hearing her voice and how excited she was to hear mine.

And so this is the change I can make. I can love my family. I can love my friends. I can listen to my lonely neighbor who rambles on about god only knows what while I'm in the middle of a great conversation with an intelligent and beautiful woman. I can tend a little garden in the courtyard behind my apartment and pick up trash that blows down the street.

I can’t save the world, alone. But I can change it one simple act at a time.

I draw in a breath, hold it, remember that life is short and I should love deeply, and then exhale.



Late Night Kitchen Raid.


Prison Nation

“Go directly to jail, do not pass go.” More and more Americans are hearing this phrase as of late. We are becoming a prison state in which 1 out of every 100 American adults is incarcerated. This nation has over 2.3 million people in its prison system. China comes in a distant second with 1.5m, and that’s in a country of over 1.3 billion people. The U.S. has a population of just over 300 million.

If you are an African American male between the ages of 20 and 34 you have a 1 in 9 chance of being imprisoned.

What can be said for a country that deals with its citizens in this way? In a recent interview with The Sun Magazine Van Jones has this to say about our nations addiction to incarceration:

“…it’s no surprise that the country that has the world’s biggest pollution problem also has the most prisons. We’ve got a disposable mind-set: disposable products, disposable species, disposable people. We don’t see our sisters and brothers, much less all the animal species, as sacred. The failure to honor the sacred is at the root of both problems.”

Jones hits the nail on the head. A “disposable mindset”, that’s a good way to describe it. As our landfills fill up with consumer driven waste so to do our prisons with what many view as human throw aways. Expendable people.

So here we are, humanity. This beautiful seething mass of hearts, souls and minds that have the capacity for creativity beyond what most of us will ever experience. And yet in the midst of all this human potential come “solutions” that betray us, betray our capacity for compassion and love toward one another. Instead of understanding we choose ignorance. And with our choice of ignorance comes fear. Fear of anything we do not understand. Fear of “them”.

“Them” eventually comes to encompass a larger and larger body of individuals and eventually your neighbor next door is not someone to invite over for a meal but instead someone to be wary of. Someone to fear. Fear has spread across this nation like a disease; a disease that starts in the mind and eventually makes it way to the heart, destroying any shred of hope that once resided there.

I do not speak of something I do not know of. I know this fear. I have lived within its imprisoning walls for too many years. I write this entry as a confession. I have lived by the dictates of this disease for too long. I’ve let it hollow me out, let it turn my love for others into the fear of everyone.

And so this $55 billion a year prison industry thrives on our fears. Thrives on numbed minds and callused hearts.

It thrives on our silence.



I enjoy light. Photography happens to be one of the more convenient methods of sharing with you the light i see. Most of my inspiration for any given photo i'm taking is dependent on light. I watch light. I'm always noticing light in varying in stages. Wether it is natural or manmade I love light.

Light can take the mundane and make it interesting. It has the power to change perspectives.

Here are a few recent moments of light.