Monday, June 2, 2014

Monsanto, Localization, and Sustainability

Healthy by Dead Prez, Great song!
I've been wanting to keep these topics fresh in people's minds.

On March 26th, 2014 Obama signed a bill that had a rider attached to it that supposedly makes the Monsanto Corporation and other similar biotech companies untouchable by Litigation in the United States. This bill was written by Senator Roy Blunt who is the Senator that has received the most (over the table) monetary campaign contributions from the Monsanto Corp. 

If you are not familiar with the battle that is currently going on between grassroots activists and GMO producing biotech companies you can learn a lot more here:

There are many people all over the world participating in the movement to ban genetically modified seeds, not only for their effects on the human body but also for the impact that this kind of farming has on the land and the ecosystem that it is part of. I am not going to focus on exactly these damages because there are people a lot smarter than me talking about it all over and with a little bit of research I'm sure you'll find what you need, instead I want to keep the conversation going by asking some questions and raising some of my own opinons and ideas. -----

First of all, I don't believe that there is anything inherently wrong with genetic experimentation for scientific purposes or in biotechnology. I don't think that the problem is that Barack Obama is evil or that the illuminati is using GMO seeds to sacrifice the the human race for our reptilian overlords. Even if any of those things are true, that's not really what I'm talking about at the moment.

Also, I don't believe that this is a "Monsanto" problem or a "GMO" problem at the core.

I think that at the core, this is just one symptom of the current socioeconomic ideology we live under. Profit over People. This is the basic unspoken-mantra on the current neoliberal global order, for more info on what "Neoliberalism" means and how it came about, check out this great article:

If you really want to get deeper into it, I recommend also checking out Noam Chomsky's book "Profit over People."

So I see the problem like this: the current trend is for large companies to grow larger and become more profitable, often times there are "side effects" (aka effects) to this unbridled growth and the questionable ways that it is achieved. In the GMO case, the growth comes from spraying down huge areas with pesticides in order to increase crop yield, manipulating government policy and public perception to minimize awareness of any issues or friction with environmental protections (why they pour so much money into battling the movement for something as straightforward as even labeling GMO's on food packages) and obtaining ownership of seed rights so that other seeds can not be used for agriculture. Side effects include rampant obesity among our population with ever increasing illnesses, a world with quickly depleting ecosystems (ie Bees) and the monopolization of something that everyone needs and not everyone has access to: FOOD!

Now you can scour the internet and find a million arguments and potential problems and whatnot, so I'm not going to bother. I simply want to post what I think the solution, or part of it, is.

If we want to see how these problems are caused and how to attain solutions, we need to zoom out a bit.
The earth is very much a living, breathing organism that is composed of many parts, just like we are. Just like we have toes and skin and a heart the Earth has trees and rivers and Monsanto's. In order to maintain a healthy body, we need to make all of our parts healthy. We need to view the organism as a whole, and not separate parts that can be manipulated however we want. Just like you can't and wouldn't sacrifice all of the muscles in your legs to have really tone abs, it is impossible to sacrifice the balance of one part of Earth in order to increase another part, not in any long term sustainable way.

So if we want a lot of corn and soybeans, growing and consuming them in a way that is destructive to the environment that it came from will never be sustainable. Just like if you want to have a healthy body, you can't sacrifice sleep every day so that you have more time to go to the gym. The thing is, all of these natural processes are connected, just like every being on this planet is connected. The entire universe is based on this idea of cosmic balance otherwise the moon would have flown off orbit billions of years ago. Just like the planets stay in their orbits based on the path of the sun and all other cosmic bodies. You simply cannot take out one part and expect the balance to be the same. It's like we are billions of organisms that are playing tug of war and we reached a point where everything is balanced and we are all supported by the strength of eachother pulling. Just like in tug of war, if one side lets go, all the sides fall down.

All too often though, we think of our problems, our bodies, and our planet in terms of 2 dimensions. Feeling sad? You must be depressed. Here's a happy pill. Now your happy! No more sad! Problem solved?

Because the atmosphere that we contain inside of ourselves is just like the earth's. We are always getting messages from nature as well as from inside of ourselves. Cut down too many trees in the right place and you start the process of desertification (the Sahara Dessert didn't even exist until around 2000 years ago!). If you eat a bunch of acidic, greasy processed food that is tough for your body to digest properly, your going to have heart burn and fart all day (farts have totally existed for more than 2000 years btw). Now if one observes the cycles of nature in and outside of ourselves we can see where and why these problems arise. There is no pill to reverse the effects of Mcdonalds if that's what you eat everyday and every cell in your body is composed of Big Macs.

I've even had a Dakotah Medicine man explain to me that by watching the cycle of which plants sprout in abundance every year, he knows what kind of illnesses will be prevalent based on the counterbalance of the medicinal properties of those plants.
So when he sees a lot of a certain plant pop up that is known to help with liver functionality, he checks medical records of the area months later and sees a direct a rise in liver disease that season! Good thing is that since this knowledge is passed down to him, he has already cultivated the medicine from that plant. Now, these are ancient practices that indigenous people around the world have only been doing for thousands and thousands of years, so I can understand how a VERY rational person would much prefer to take the statistics from a study done by a pharmaceutical company within the last five years about it's own product that it is marketing. I have a special place in my heart for these VERY rational people.

What we need is holistic and sustainable thinking from our leaders as well as the common citizen of the world. I think that every day more people are adapting to this kind of world view and starting to see that balance. I've seen more community gardens pop up than ever before, more and more of my friends and family members are adapting vegetarian, vegan and organic lifestyles. Everyone from OG hip hop heads like the guys from Dead Prez and Styles P (who owns a Juice shop in NY and promotes healthy living on the daily) to the white-affluent college students that are normally known for their disengagement with things other than keg stands are starting to adapt to these "new ways" of living.

The rise of farmer's markets, community gardens, and activism organizations are all signs of increasing localization. Localization is good for communities because it encourages inward growth and outward development. It brings people closer together, brings fresher produce to our tables, and keeps the currency and energy circulating among the people shaking hands and exchanging broccoli.
What we have in most of America today is almost a completely delocalized economy that is based on giant mega corporations selling products created by other mega corporations and being transported around by even more mega corporations. Now, I don't think that there is anything inherently wrong with a corporation, but with the middle class dwindling, the pay gap between CEO and employee larger than ever, and an unbelievably high use of oil to transport all of these bastardized chemical filled products, it's not hard to see why we may need a bit more localization to ever reach sustainability.

Alright so you ready for the cherry on top?
If the earth is like a body, and our bodies and minds completely connected just as we are to the earth, as we adopt better practices of living we strengthen the whole cycle. If the food that you put inside of you strengthens the earth, strengthens your body and in turn strengthens your mind then every part of the cycle gets better. When you put love into the soil and the food you cultivate and consume, it is magnified and brought back to you. So we all get happier, healthier, stronger, wiser, we live longer, we have more free time, we have more nature, more trees are breathing out more oxygen and we return to a more balanced state of life and of mind.

So you feeling sad? Want a happy Pill? Plant a Garden!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Power of non-doing.

The Power of the non-Doer.

Never forget to play the spaces.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Holy Shit it's 2014

So I wanted to take some time this morning to shine some light on some cool shit that has happened recently. The New Year is upon us, and in this winter time we are living off of the fields of dreams we toiled in the summer and the harvest we received in the fall. I hope that you create and shape this year to be truly great for you, but don't get lost in the semantics. Every moment is a new moment yet every one is in the same present, so become present and take control. 

Heres some cool new things that have been happening:

Lifted Mindz has posted our first Mixtape of the year! Lifted Leakage II is the culmination tape of some of the artists that we work with and vibe with mostly around the Twin Cities but also globally. There are some great artists on this tape, and you can catch it all for free here: 

Art By Dustin Reisdorph & Logoz the Kritick

It features artists like Ecid, Counter Culture, Anitek, Ej, Tyler Nelson and a lot more. This tape was curated by Logoz the Kritick who also helped design the logo with the wonderful Dustin Reisdorph and they both did an amazing job. The tape features some never before heard stuff from the Lifted Mindz family and its free as fuck to download so do it up!

Also, the end of the year marked the Soundcloud releases of Eloda's Self titled tape as well as my Second solo mixtape Too Much Moonshine in the Matrix. Cop em both for free here:

Online download is free, but for 5 bucks I'll hand deliver personalized physical copies to anywhere in the TC metro area or will ship globally.

Also, check out the sweet shit our friends are doing!

Big Zach & Useful Jenkins 

Heres a video of Big Zach & Useful Jenkins, some local TC cats that have been on the high and wise tip for generations of Minnesota Music. Zach's lyrics are incredible and down to earth while floating through the milky way and its real cool to see them do their thing and get love for it. When's the last time you saw a mandolin solo in a hip hop song?

deM atlaS, Bomba de Luz & Xela

My friends Lydia, Josh and LMZ DJ Xela came through with this track during what will HOPEFULLY be the coldest day of the year! Shits this happy sad jazzy number. Josh recently got picked up by Rhymesayers Ent. and shit has been popping off for that dude. It's good to see the homies still chilling and shitting tracks even with the limelight burning. Stay gold friends.

(*sidenote- Dem just loaned me a translation of the Tao Te Ching. If you've never heard of this book, Lao Tzu, or Taoism I highly suggest you check it out.)

Kristoff Krane

Kristoff Krane has released his 8 year anthology. It is filled with 44 tracks of great music from one of the masters of the freestyle art and a pioneer of folky, lovey, feel good, hip hop "for people who need to cry." Listening to Krane is always an evolving experience and can lead to intense introspection, smiles, and tears. It's really great and hes doing a lot of awesome things for the community. If you support the album, you also get a mini doc of him filmed by PCP, another artist I highly recommend looking into.

For some reason, as I listen to this album my cat keeps harmonizing with Kristoff Krane and now he just jumped up to jam with me. Way to move the feline spirit Chris.

We're 8 days in and its already looking like a great year for Minnesota music. I'll try to pop back on here as much as possible and metephorically pee my name into the massive mountain of metaphorical snow that is the internet.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Feel the Flow Now

All things flow. 

That is the grand eternal peace in which we can rest easy within. Nothing real can be destroyed and  nothing unreal exists. Matter becomes energy and energy becomes matter and every piece of everything around you has existed since the dawn of time and is only in its current form because of the circumstances at the moment.

Water turns to ice, Dig? 

Every single soul is just a raindrop falling from the sky, one day we all hit the ground and die, but home is in the oceans and floating round the world so we all rise up just to fall down. 

I love the use of water in this video. From the heat to the snow, they're just making the best of it. Having a good time, and feeling the flow.

So much of our stress and depression comes from not realizing this basic rule of the universe. We get stuck in attachment of having things a certain way, when really, everything is naturally growing and changing, often into something better than what we had in mind in the first place.

Especially here in MN where we have the unpredictability of a 6 month long winter with a patchy spotted summer that will often jump to the 100's. EVERYDAY someone is complaining about the weather. Whether too hot or too cold or too rainy or "too nice" and they have to work....

All of this is attachment to our ideal vision of how things should be. Nothing will ever work as your ideal vision intends, and that is OK! In fact, you can't possibly want something before you know it exists...

So those circumstances that throw a curve ball into your day or way of thinking could in fact be blessings in disguise.

The only way to find out is to make the BEST of everything, ride the wave, and Feel the flow. 


ps. Check out the latest from the Lifted Mindz Fam:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let's be uncertain for a second.

No really,
Let's be uncertain for a second.

I think that's when the best stuff happens...

Isn't it weird how the wrong people are always certain? It's always that dude whose CERTAIN that the world is going to end or CERTAIN that their fantasy football team is going to win or is CERTAIN that their neighborhood is the best in Minnesota that is rubbing you the wrong way.

Maybe it's because uncertainty is scary, and not many people are willing to be brave on a regular basis.

Also, there's a distinct alpha-male/power aspect that goes with being certain. With KNOWING. Like you are the sole person that is blessed with a certain knowledge. It makes it easier to judge, and categorize and lead and argue when you are certain. You don't have to be moral to be certain, hell you don't even have to be right!

And when you don't know....

Well no one is going to pay for that advice! No will put that in a textbook, or on a resume! NOT being certain is just about the biggest faux paux you can commit in our society!

GOD FORBID asking a question!
GOD FORBID having a doubt, or a new idea that may or may not work.
Or hell, even a hypothesis!

no.... it seems that there is only room for those that are certain. and guess what, no one is.

The only people who are certain are paid to be that way or are trying to be paid because they are that way.

I'm certain of it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Culture is a big word.

We are constantly and automatically analyzing and making judgments about other peoples cultures. Whether it's down the street, across the country or even on different planets. We learn this from the process we instinctively go through to map our environment internally with our fears and gauge how well we trust our environment and how we can safely interact with it. This simple process is the root of xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and many other fear based reactions people have to the differences we have in between each other.

As a swim instructor, I work with children and get to see their fears and their reactions to them all the time. I see them make justifications, excuses and distractions in order to make themselves feel in control and safe when their in the water.

It is only when they free themselves from their defense mechanisms and develop trust with me and the rest of their environment that they actually learn to swim. That's usually when they start having fun too.
Artwork by my lovely sister Hannah Fligel

With the development of the ego, people have forgotten their higher interconnectedness with all nature. With the development of language in the form of words, we have forgotten truer languages. Many of us no longer hear the whispers of the wind. We treat our animals like objects, our environment like an object, and this makes it easy for us to treat each other in the same way.

You are the river, the fish, the bait, the fisherman and your children will be the same. No matter can truly be  destroyed or created. We are all part of an infinite recycling process and we're only always in the middle.

Nothing real can be destroyed, nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of god.

If we work daily to be mindful of these facts then we can begin to be aware of our own culture. The inability to free ourselves from the chains our minds, cultures, and habits create is why we are plagued with endless wars, obesity and addiction. We have many addictions we don't always allow ourselves to see.

By the way, I put out an album on my 20th birthday the other day.


Do something fun today. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Not Another BOMBA interview :)

I'm not sure what you believe in.

Chances are, no one is. But that's fine. I like to believe I live a very blessed life, or maybe a lucky one. Maybe it's actually shitty one, or maybe its pretty average. Regardless I think that it often falls into my own hands to decide.

Today I feel pretty (lucky/blessed/whatever) because I had the realization that my couch often becomes a net for some of the greatest artists of the area and if you ask me, of our time. Today I happened to come downstairs to the members of one of 2012's biggest break out bands in the Twin Cities: Bomba De Luz.

They are already featured in many various interviews that are probably a lot more structured and formal and you can learn a lot about all of the cool things they are doing. Here are some of them:

Here is some of their music:

Now when I happened to come downstairs this morning, Lydia Hoglund made the complaint that the interviews they were getting were seeming redundant and there was not a lot of depth being reached. In the glossed over wasteland of the media today, the nearly lost art of journalism is a big problem to me. So I will attempt to ride the gravy train of honesty to the pearly gates of wisdom and share that experience with you.

I'm sitting down with three of the four members; Evan Slack (guitar), Lydia Hoglund (guitar/vox) and Gavin Taylor-Stark (bass) as well as Judah Mccoy of Crossjoints and also the drummer for Allan Kingdom Check all of this shit out because these kids are all doing really cool things.

Our conversation started out by discussing interesting people from other countries we've "celebrated our green culture" with and late night trips to white castle. You'll have to ask these stories from them yourself because soon after we started we reached some interesting places in the BDL universe.

I began by asking them what Bomba De Luz Really meant to them and what role it played in their Lives.

Lydia: I think that Bomba De Luz is... my sanity... it's what... maintains my existance. It's less a band and becmoing more a new way of life. I can really express myself, I can step on stage and really be the MOST myself. Otherwise i'd feel like a LOSER :) It's becoming the reason I want to walk the planet.
Gavin: It it the nuts and bolts of my life. Because I'm such good friends with the people I play music with some of the bigger relationships of my life are because of the band. Bomba De Luz is the biggest branch and it effects all of my other priorities.

Me: That's really cool that you guys feel that way, what are some of the bigger changes you've felt in your lives because of the band, internally and externally?

Evan: It's taught me a lot about being punctual and actually really caring about something. There's no show that I'm not looking forward to. It's taught me there's things that you can change your behavior for out of sheer enjoyment.
Lydia: That's so true! We played at the ice house last night with Brian Laidlaw and Chastity Brown. Brian Laidlaw actually used to be my teacher (at Mcnally Smith). It's crazy because now I get to... Share the love! It's like I went to YOUR songwriting class and wrote THESE songs after what you taught me.

Me: Are you feeling yourself more like a teacher or student now that you are rising up into a new role? What is the balance like between those relationships?

Lydia: It's definitely both dude. I'm constantly learning and I am always a student. You know when you're young and you feel like you're lesser than everyone? It's like now I'm finally at a place where I'm confident in my existence and we are learning from each other. We're way less afraid to talk to other artists now. We feel like we're being taken more seriously but we're also humbled and honored because we feel that way.

Me: What are some of the more fulfilling and important relationships you've developed because of this? Any that you didn't think that were possible?

Lydia: Honestly the Current and Lauren (BDL Manager) and... just SO MANY local artists!
Gavin: Obviously social media has made it so a band like us can communicate with anyone in the industry pretty easily. If you have some kind of record of what you do and it's good and people appreciate it, it will spread.
My favorite thing was going to Soundset in 7th and 8th grade and now there's acually a high possibility that I am going to be able to do that. I work so hard but it's actually almost unintentional. It happens because i just.... love it so much. And people see that so they say, that's cool lets do something together and fucking kill it! the POS thing is definitely one of the weirdest and coolest.
But we're actually friends, and i genuinely respect what they are doing and want to learn. It's so hard to show that and balance it with people thinking you're clinging on to these larger artists.

POS, he said fuck it i'm going to push it and just have fun and expanded and exploded. He says: Lydia write what you want, fuck what I think, I don't give a fuck if anyone else likes my lyrics because I like my lyrics.

I love Dessa and her lyrics so much. After one of her shows she told me to avoid adverbs at all costs and put as much imagery and visuals as possible, and Joe Horton said that too. Though sometimes I think that things might even be going too fast. There is a lot of pressure coming from all over the place.
Evan: That being said, we are still trying to expand as fast and as much as possible so that hopefully one day this can be ALL that we're doing.
Also, thats one of my favorite things about the Twin Cities. People are recognized for true artistry.

Me: What do you guys want to get out of everything that your doing now and this entire experience?

Gavin: This is how I choose to learn in life. Everything you do in life is you learning. If you learn the most from a certain area it will probably either be a huge hobby of yours or grow into a career.
Lydia:  We're really trying to just say fuck it, lets push it now. No matter what I'm just going to go ham. There's no way to do anything without risking anything.
Though sometimes I think that things might even be going too fast. There is a lot of pressure everywhere.
Evan: That being said we are still trying to expand as fast and as much as possible so that hopefully one day this can be ALL that we're doing. We want people to hear us and want to see where it goes.
Lydia: Yeah but even if I have to work some shitty job and still be able to play shows at night I would love my life.

Gavin: But It doesn't have to be shitty though, you know what I mean?
Lydia: Yeah positivity!
Gavin: Don't force the positivity just realize it. 

Lydia: What really made me believe and be inspired to be a musician was Rapfam. It was this amazing creative energy and all of a sudden we were all at each others shows and supporting each other.

Me: Whats the funnest shit that you guys do?

Lydia: Band Practice when we fuck around and make our songs really hilarious. Also on stage when you're lacking energy and you make a conscious effort to push yourself and make yourself REALLY feel good.
Gavin: What I think about that is that whenever I get in a bad mood on stage, I just let myself fall into the groove and that becomes my antidote and I began to really start to feel it.

Me: This has been an amazing conversation. Can't wait to hear more from you guys. I need to go to the bathroom and we've been going on for a while, any closing thoughts?

Lydia: Yeah me too...

Me: Does all of Bomba De Luz want to share the toilet?

Everyone: Yes.