Monthly Archives: November 2001

Style, Part III

On homelessness

In my neighborhood there are a few areas where the homeless crash out at night. Down the street there are various alleys and doorways that are used, but here, right here, there are two choices: the park or the empty lot.

The particularly scary hobos frequent the park for some reason. They occasionally hassle passersby and their dogs, and are probably not the safest bedpartners. In addition, if you sleep in the park, the police hassle you since you're not really supposed to legally live there. It's easy to just say “well that's ok, people should sleep in the shelters instead.”

If you sleep in a shelter, you put yourself at risk for rape and theft, plus, to many people, it's degrading. Toronto, being Canada's largest city, also has many of Canada's best hospitals, and people from all over the nation come here for treatment. Many that I have met are older, unable to work, and just barely getting by on veteran's pensions and things like that. They can afford to come up here, but they can't afford a hotel for months on end.

Since staying in the park gets you beat up by the police, and shelters are just not safe, they stay in the empty lot. Because it's private property, the police can't usually throw you off it without a complaint from the landowner or a resident. When I bump into these guys on my walks I talk to them, and all the ones I've met are totally nice and simply looking for a safe place to sleep.

Anyway, when I got up this morning and went outside, I saw the crazy lady yelling and freaking out at older Chinese guy that was sitting in the lot, telling him she was calling the police and that he had to leave immediately. I walked over and told her to fuck off and leave him alone and tried to explain to the guy that she had no authority to throw him off the lot, but I don't think he totally understood English and he ended up leaving.

It really makes me angry to see that… There's a massive piece of unused real estate. Who does it hurt if we let a few harmless people crash there? It's not specifically on the same topic, but it reminds me of a life-changing book I picked up while I was living in Philly: Merchants of Misery. It's all about how large corporations, the rich, and banks live off of the poor, and pretty much exposes our current capitalist system as a pyramid scheme.

I'm off to Artik — they have a t-shirt sample for me. I'll print a picture upon my return.


3AM, and I'm just finishing the first draft of a scarification article I promised a magazine last week. 2300 words later and it's roughly done and I think turned out fairly well… As soon as I have publication details, I'll post them. Now I'm going to indulge myself in that rarest of pleasures, sleep.

Lil' interview

I did an interview earlier today. If I remember right, it was for a school project or something, so I'm listing it here as well (and yes, I know the grammar sucks, it was just a quick email interview):

Is the BM industry prospering?

First, the fact that body modification industry even exists is wonderful — the fact that it is prospering in a culture that overall views it as deviant is amazing. Sometimes it seems like the industry is declining, but that's largely due to over-saturation (too many studios).

Is there an estimation on how much it (the industry) is worth or is making?

No idea. I figure the average studio is grossing between $250k and $500k yearly, but that's a total guess.

To your knowledge how did BM gain popularity in North America?

I'm sure that fashion promotion by celebrities helped, but overall I believe it's largely because WE NEED BODY MODIFICATION TO DEFINE OURSELVES AS HUMANS. You can only keep that out of a culture for so long before it starts seeking it out again.

Who are the main manufacturers of body jewellery?

There are thousands of companies. As far as who holds the largest market share, I have no idea…

How did you get introduced to BM?

I was never introduced to it — I was born into it. It's sort of like asking me “how did you get introduced to heterosexuality” — it's just the way I am. It doesn't make me normal or deviant or anything else — it's just a fact of life. Body modification, for some people, and perhaps for ALL people is an instinct we are born with.

What made you want to practice it?

Something deep inside. It's who I am.

What are some of the advantages of being heavily involved in the BM scene?
What are some of the disadvantages?

I don't think it's an advantage/disadvantage sort of thing. It's who I am, and if I denied it, I would cease literally to exist as Shannon. I'd simply be some guy pretending to be something he wasn't.

Do you feel that the public still frowns upon kids/young adults who practice BM?

Yes, definitely.

If so, what, if anything, could rectify that?

Time will recitify it — as these modified people get older and seize power, the world will change. In addition, critical mass will make a huge difference — once enough people are modded, it becomes the norm.

Do you see the trend growing in years to come, or fading away?

I don't believe it's a trend. If anything, the LACK of mods is a trend. Historically, it's very strange to have a culture that doesn't have a strong modification interest. Logically, that suggests that this modern lack of mods thing is just a phase.

Why do you think BM caught on so heavily in the hardcore music scene?

You'd have to ask someone in that scene.

If practiced properly, is BM safe?

Yes, of course. However, NOT practising it extremely dangerous spiritually.

Has your physician ever questioned some of your BM techniques?

Never, and if my doctor questioned it, I'd seek a better doctor.

Currently, what piercings, implants, etc. do you have?

Not that much — extensive tattooing, a split tongue, a partial subincision, and 2″ stretched earlobes. However, more importantly, I have what is right for me and what makes me happy.

What are some of the most extreme methods of BM you have seen?

I know that I'm guilty because I popularized the use of the term “extreme” as it applied to body modification, but I don't really like using it any more. I don't believe there is such a thing as an “extreme” mod. If a person honestly desires a mod, it is far less extreme to get it than to not get it. People should NEVER NEVER NEVER get caught up thinking that a mod is cool or extreme — the primary reason for getting a mod, especially an “extreme” one, should always be well thought out personal and private reasons.

That you know of, has anyone ever died from BM?

Yes, a few, but only in unusual circumstances. A woman died in Britain from infected piercings… Of course, she had over 100 and didn't practise even the basics of cleanliness. If it had been 100 untreated duck bites she'd have died as well. Another man, in the United States, died after having his leg removed by an underground cutter. Of course, he was in his late seventies and was dying and would have been dead within the year anyway — he knew the procedure might be fatal, and since it was his life's dream, was willing to take the risk.

How important is cleanliness when practicing BM?

It's essential. That said, it's essential in all things — food preparation and sex are obvious examples. When you shove stuff into your body, it's best that it not be contaminated!

In your experience, what is the worst story of BM you or someone else has experienced?

Any variant on this is horrible:
1. A girl gets her navel pierced because her friends did it as well.
2. A guy gets his tongue pierced because his girlfriend told him too.

My biggest concern in mods is that people excercise complete personal authority over their bodies, and that when they make invasive changes to their bodies, they do it as an act of free will.

What words of wisdom would you have for anyone interested in Body Modification?

Know yourself. Educate yourself. Free yourself.



So I've been printing links to stories talking about how badly the US elite forces have been doing in Afghanistan, and I've received a number of emails accusing me of just repeating Taliban lies — after all, the Pentagon says that there have been no losses of soldiers, and that the only injuries were a couple “kids who scraped their knees on the rocks”. I guess the Taliban were sick of the US's lies, so they handed over a corpse of one of them, with 20 more held captive.

To darkly humorously top it off, in response to the US claim that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has gone into hiding, the Taliban not only denied it, but added that Mullah Omar challenged both George Bush and Tony Blair to a duel if they were not too cowardly to appear.

Considering they're dropping 17 foot bombs that leave a five football field crater, I'm shocked the US forces are so ineffective. This war is just weird sometimes… Even though they're vaguely allied with the US, the US has not given any supplies to the Northern Alliance. Since they're hurting for money and supplies, they've been charging journalists for access! If anything, that shows the US should ally with the North — after all, capitalism is the American way!

Given enough money, time, and death, America probably can level Afghanistan. If they do that, they'll lose the war on terrorism forever, and guarantee that they will never be respected internationally (not that the US has ever had much respect outside its own borders). Salim Muwwakkil of the Chicago Tribune makes a good point — America is in a position now to prove itself as a responsible superpower, and must take “the road less travelled” to truly win.

And now for something funny: What do you get when you combine the words anus, mouth, orally, and stimulate?

I'm off to do laundry. I'm not saying I'll code it any time soon, but I'm working on a new project called “The Ethics Engine” which is a communal ethics and philosophy development system. It's in some ways similar to everything2, but structured differently and with a tighter set of limitations. Anyway, then when I get back I have to write a magazine article on scarification.