Hi, I'd like to sign up for the revolution please

- Hi, I'd like to sign up for the revolution please.

- Okay, let me see... are you an aspiring Marxist, Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyist, Stalinist, Maoist, Socialist, Socialist Nationalist, Kurdish-Socialist, Alevi-Socialist, Democratic Socialist, Social Democrat, Communist, Anarchist, Anarcho-Syndicalist, Structuralist Marxist...

- I'm, uh... I don't know, what's trending right now?

- Well, it depends who you ask

- Right, obviously... let's just go with straight up Marxist.

- Oh, really? That's kind of old fashioned and intellectualist. Can I at least suggest Marxist-Leninist? It's still intellectualist but a little more practical.

- Okay, fine. I take it you're a Marxist-Leninist?

- Yes, but that's not why I'm...

- Right sure, okay, that's fine. Sign me up for that. Wait, you mentioned Stalinism. There are Stalinist parties?

- Yeah well, there's parties with known Stalinists. They don't like to say they're Stalinists, it's not exactly a popular ism.

- I can guess. And the Trotskyists? What are they about?

- Um, nobody really ever remembers. It's pretty much the opposite of Stalinism I guess. You just have to look out for ice picks.

- What?

- That's just an inside joke.

- The anarchists sound pretty cool, what about their party?

- They don't really have a party, obviously. Organization isn't their thing, they just be anarchist.

- They look pretty cool though, all those black hoodies and red masks and stuff. Like jedis or something.

- Yeah, I'll admit, they look good, but that's only when they're rioting. Otherwise you have to walk around with lots of piercings and ripped pants and weird hairstyles all the time, even when you're at the store buying milk. It gets tiring.

- Okay then, for now let's just go with the Marxist-Leninist party.

- Good choice. Which one? There are fifty eight Marxist Leninist parties. Look, here's the list.

- Oh wow, that's a long list. I don't know, which is the biggest?

- This one, it has hundreds of members. That's the one I'm in.

- Sure, sign me up.

- Okey dokey... So you're set, comrade.

- Great, what do I do?

- Well, to start off with, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with Marxist-Leninist dogma. Are you familiar with that jargon?

- Kind of.

- Also, can you play guitar badly and sing Commandante Che Guevara in really bad Spanish?

- I can play Hotel California on guitar, is that okay?

- No no no, that is NOT okay. Do not ever sing that bourgeois shit. Learn the Comandante Che Guevara song. It's real simple, there's like five words. And learn the jargon too. Let's start with the basics: just call the police and politicians "fascists" all the time and raise your left fist every time you chant something with your fellow party members. Things you don't like are always "bourgeois" and the people being oppressed are always the "proletariat". Plus, history is always and only about class conflict. Got it? Start with that, and you can work up from there.

- Okay, simple enough.

- Oh and you might want to pick a pet topic to be nitpicky about when you encounter other Marxist-Leninists or Socialists. Maybe debate whether the Marxist dialectical materialist teleology is still relevant today, or whether latter day structuralists like say Althusser or Poulantzas had a better grasp of...

- Wait, what? What are you talking about?

- I know I know, none of this is really relevant to anything or has any practical meaning to anybody's life, but I suggest you really memorize some of the main points of contention, pick a side, and defend it furiously without any compromise to look especially revolutionary, committed, intellectual and, most importantly, attractive to the ladies.

- I do want to look attractive to the ladies.

- Sure you do. We all do. Why do you think I always have this solemn semi-heroic expression on my face? Why do you think I wear this Che Guevara shirt and act like I'm fighting the world?

- That's Che Guevara? I thought it was Planet of the Apes.

- No, it's not Planet of the Apes. This isn't a Sci-Fi convention. This is a globally recognized iconic image. This is THE famed revolutionary Che Guevara gazing heroically into the distance from t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, mouse pads and other paraphernalia all around the world. You can even find these shirts at Target now. By the way, you're going to have to change the way you dress. Are those loafers?

- Yeah yeah, I know, I'm going to start dressing really drab

- Good, yes. Wear gray, black, lots of red, and some camo green. Also wear boots. Never wear clothes with logos, obviously. You should also maybe consider sporting a big bushy Marx-like beard, growing your hair out, getting some communist iconography going, hammers and sickles, red stars, etc. Also some of those leather wrist bands, maybe some leather necklaces, earrings. Think Jimi Hendrix crossed with Johnny Depp. That means lots of accessories. Also look into red scarves and Palestinian shawls, that's part of the kit. You don't want to be too ambitious, though, and go for the Subcomandante Marcos look. Everybody at some point thinks they want that look, but trust me, it's no good. You have to keep a balaklava on at all times and have a pipe in your mouth. Not practical. A cotton balaklava against your mouth all day is a hygiene nightmare. I know, because I tried it. The balaklava eventually smells like a sock.

- I've already got some fashion ideas I'm looking into. I was thinking of going for the slick shaved head, black turtleneck, Doc Martins...

- Whoa whoa, you just described Michel Foucault. Do you want to be a postmodernist? You signed up for Marxism-Leninism, remember? If you want to be a postmodernist you can go teach cultural studies at a private university.

- Yuck, no, I don't want that.

- Exactly. You do NOT want that. Postmodernists don't get to storm barricades and engage in romantic revolutionary struggles and fight cops and pretend they're struggling to change the world. Postmodernists just wade in a tepid pool of relativism. They fuck their students and collect art.

- Okay, scrap that then. I'll go for the Marxist-Leninist look. By the way, when do I actually get to go out and, you know...

- You're going to ask when the next protests are, right? You're going to ask when you get to riot?

- Yep.

- That's why they all join. Wanna throw some Molotov cocktails and "fight the system"?

- Yeah, all that revolutionary stuff. I wanna do that.

- I'll bet you do. And at the end of all the danger and fighting and camaraderie as we struggle against the blackguards, you want to fall in love with some female revolutionaries, some fiery young idealist girls you just fought alongside, and you want them to gaze in your eyes and fall in love with your courage, commitment, idealism, and your gorgeous revolutionary heroic good looks, and then you want to have sex with all of them and have them stroke an AK-47 tattoo on your chest, correct?

- Yes, exactly! When does that stuff get to happen?

- Pretty much never. We all think it will, and that's the main reason we go through all this, but the free-love communist thing is a myth. We don't go around having orgies and sharing our men and women who are supposedly always up for having sex with their fellow wild romantic revolutionary comrades. Communist men are just as jealous and possessive as any other men and socialist women are just as picky about who they sleep with. Sorry to burst that little bubble.

- Right, okay, whatever. I'm still up for it though.

- Good, because it's still a lot of self-important, self-satisfying fun. You really feel like a revolutionary, like a warrior, like you're changing the world. But don't worry, it's not really revolutionary.

- What do you mean?

- Come on. I know we say we're populists and that we represent the people and the working classes and revolution and all that, but we're really just a bunch of young idealists who get off on being morally superior and combative. None of this will bring about any real change. We actually like it like that, because that means we get to keep on fighting heroically forever without the chance of it ever actually achieving its goals. It's perfect.

- Right, yeah, I figured that.

- When the people and the so-called working class at home turn the TV on and see red flags and people chanting Marxist-Leninist slogans and hurling Molotov cocktails, they don't identify with any of this. It's just us university students from bourgeois families being populist and pro-worker for ourselves. It's basically just rebellious sloganeering. We get off on feeling like we're actually fighting a fight with a goal toward revolution, but really it's just a periodic pantomime where we chant the usual chants and break the usual windows and bust the usual ATMs, and hurl the usual Molotov cocktails, while they chase us and spray water cannons and shoot gas canisters. It's all part of a well-rehearsed show. The police and state and the bourgeoisie believe they're defending their country against internal enemies, and we believe we're fighting for the people to bring about a revolution against the reigning fascists. Everybody else just watches it all on TV with absolute indifference. Then when it's all over we get to walk around singing Spanish socialist chants, dressing like Jimi Hend... I mean Che Guevara, having serious and pointless conversations about dialectical materialism, and pretending we're the saviors of the world

- Okay... so we're kind of actually just...

- Wankers, yes.

- Hmmm, fuck it. It all still sounds worth it. It's either this or I become a nihilist... or worse, a headbanger.

- Ugh, definitely this. Then when  you get older and rich and work in some shitty profiteering capitalist pig corporation, which we all do eventually by the way, you can justify it by saying "I used to be a socialist". That's a good card to have in your hand when you're a sellout in your forties. You can't say "I used to be a headbanger" and sound cool, that just sounds like you were a loser. And nihilists... well, they don't get laid much. Not that we do either, but at least we're around girls a lot and there's the possibility of it happening.

- True.

- So then, welcome on board! Lesson one: how to dismantle cobblestones and hurl them at bank windows in between spray-painting signposts. Ready?

- You bet!


Fantastic Chalkboard Creature series: The Demon

This is a demon. But do not be alarmed, because for all their ferocious and fearful reputation, demons are actually a pretty lame species of fantastic creature. They are in fact quite harmless, and not just because they’re fantastic and don’t really exist. They are harmless because it’s obvious that even if they did exist, they have no discernible teeth or claws, as can be seen in this chalkboard drawing. A creature without teeth and claws cannot do much harm, let alone the picture of a creature with no teeth and claws. Okay, he has horns, but they're much smaller than you would imagine a demon having. On the other hand, demons are fabulously ornate and eye-catching, as can be seen by all the colors produced by my Italian chalk set from which this creature emanated. I bought that chalk set at a nearby stationary store for a mere five bucks. But from that five buck chalk set has emerged one of the most primordial and feared creatures ever conjured by the human psyche. That’s pretty good value for money if you ask me. Plus if he gets too uppity about being a demon, I can just wipe him off the chalkboard with a wet paper towel. Yes, it’s that easy. The manifestations of evil and all of Satan’s hellish horde can be defeated with a mere wet paper towel. So it’s true what they say: evil doesn’t pay.

By the way, you may choose to ignore the pre-natal vitamins and Horehounds that lie beneath the demon in a lesser infernal realm.


Fantastic Chalkboard Creature series: Tecnicolored Fire Breathing Dragon

Dragons are funny creatures, because they're basically what we thought dinosaurs were when we found their fossils and bones while building temples for trident-wielding sea gods and we couldn't make any sense of what we found because that was back when we thought the world was a 5000 year-old lab experiment conjured up by some giant space magician. Now, of course, we know that everything was really just an unfortunate accident that got out of hand to the point where there were... DINOSAURS. Dragons are a pretty accurate guess at what a dinosaur might be, though, because, like dinosaurs, dragons seem to be giant lizards. I mean, it would've been pretty embarrassing if people thought dinosaurs were enormous squirrels. So kudos to our ancestors for not getting it totally wrong. Where the wings and fire-breathing comes in is hard to say, but considering the kind of wacky animals that do exist, wings and fire breathing aren't the silliest attributes to give an imaginary animal like a dragon. Plus it seems like a T-Rex should breathe fire or something cool like that... something to make up for those tiny little arms they have. Seriously, how funny are those? "I AM A T-REX, I WILL DESTROY YOU!!! Now just hold still while I fumble around and poke you to death with my tiny little claws".

This dragon blows tecnicolored fire clouds, and doesn't have wings. Think about it, would you fly up into a tecnicolored fire cloud? 

Fantastic Chalkboard Creature Series: Flaming Feather Limbed Farty Bubble Tailed etc etc

This is a... I don't know, let's call it a flaming feather limbed tree dwelling bearded bubble tail dragon lizard. It has colored flaming feathers on its limbs and neck, and it blows bubbles out of its tail, which is actually probably just a really long protruding anus, isn't it? Kinda like what happened to the nose of an elephant's ancestor, but from the other side. Kind of like a postboscis rather than a proboscis. What are the evolutionary advantages of blowing bubbles out of a really long protruding anus? Well, for one, those bubbles probably stink, so you don't want those things floating up and popping around your nostrils when you're on the hunt for a flaming feather limbed tre... one of these. On the other hand, that tail looks like it can get into nooks and crannies in trees where the fart bubbles can flush out prey, like grubs or beetles. Also he has a long white beard for some reason, and antennas for whatever antennas do. The ideal ecosystem in which you'll find one of these flaming feather limbed tree dwelling bearded farty bubble tail dragon lizards are rainy days just after finishing work while the baby's napping and I have too much time on my hands and don't feel like reading or doing anything even mildly productive (like read Baby Led Weaning even though she insists it's really important we read it but I can't get past page 50 because it's BORING BORING BORING) why are you still reading this?


Fantastic Chalkboard Creature series: Sabertooth Bird

Birds are a dime a dozen, but tropical birds with massive sabertooth tiger fangs designed to rip their prey's throat to shreds? Come on! This guy was perched on our kitchen blackboard right by the baby vitamins and iron drops, just above the rubber bands and colored chalk from which he was born. For days, he sat and observed as we made breakfast, prepared dinner, and washed dishes. His patience and tranquility was reassuring, but the fangs always left you wondering whether he wouldn't just jump out and cause havoc on a whim. Perched on a branch that stretched across the other side of a window unto an imaginary chalkboard realm, the bird would just sit there and observe. Then one day the window was gone with a few swipes of the arm and a wet paper cloth. But new visitors would be expected now. The gateway was open unto a new world of chalkboard creatures.

Those are testicles under his chin, by the way.