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Maiello And Orion Wish You A Happy New Year

Maiello's Questions for Orion

Your readers know you endured a tough 2014, to say the least.  But, you endured. What are your plans for 2015?  What are your major aspirations for the year?  Pick things not to achieve, but to make progress towards.  After all, our achievements don't respect the calendar.

It definitely was tough. However, I have perspective on it. I achieved alot this past year. I had a strong hand in getting a really bad slum lord replaced and even received diplomatic apologies from the company he was employed by. I found myself fulfilling my time in public housing until the lease ran up, despite the harassment I dealt with (which, when I brought it up with his superiors, I found out was actually tame compared to what others dealt with).

 As tragic as Jennifer Reimer's passing was, one female friend said that it was a bit like an abused cat who knows to seek shelter in the right place. Jen had been in heavy drug use and had a serious eating disorder for a long, long time. I was freaked out that what happened was going to happen almost constantly. I did what I was supposed to do and moved on. What happened didn't stop me from achieving: I was able to get published in several prestigious journals. When I got to California, I found that I made friends very easily and found myself very busy with friends and girlfriends. I've been told I am popular, trustworthy and honest. I won all the battles that were put in front of me and came out head held high.

The roughest lesson of Jennifer wasn't anything really to do with her but a bit of a confirmation of what I already knew about human nature and have known for some time. I am a Christian and I believe humans are born in sin and, unknowingly and often thinking they are righteous, project that sin on to others and make their children inherit it. I did experience a small handful of people, in my social circle and in Jen's, that thought what I was going through was an opportunity to try to bully someone. You know me well enough to know I'm the wrong person to do that with but some people nevertheless tried. Jennifer had a messed up cadre of friends and experiencing them was not a picnic lunch. That's a tiny minority compared to the hundreds of condolences and well wishes that I got but still, that's an element that is always there in people.

As for this year, I am very excited about Star Wars: Episode VII honestly. That may be my biggest excitement about the coming year. The trailer and the reports I've heard all sound amazing - especially the testament by one actor that not much green screen was used on the set. 

Personally, I've been pretty busy and have quite a bit occupying my time. That's a good change for sure. I may return to university - I have considered seminary. We'll see.

Do you think Bernie Sanders should run in the Democratic primary, to give voice to those on Hillary's left?

Yes! The dynamics in each political party is sort of similar on certain issues. There are both Democrats and Republicans who know that these wars we have are insane and connect the dots between endless wars abroad and a police state. Hillary Clinton is a hardcore war hawk who has supported every war this country has been in for over two decades.

This issue is very important to me. I was very supportive of Rand Paul initially because he was the only serious contender talking about at least slowing down American presence in the world. Sanders is much preferable to Rand Paul for many number of reasons, obviously, and the idea of him running has definitely given me a good alternative.

Ant-Man... is that peak Marvel?  The spin-off that brings the whole fad crashing down?  Don't get me wrong, I like Hank Pym, but I think "shrinks to the size of an ant" is asking a lot of mainstream audiences.

There was a time when Hollywood believed that comic books were so corny and childish that no one would ever watch a superhero movie unless it was made to not seem like one at all. That's why the X-Men initially had leather costumes instead of blue and yellow you saw in First Class and in the comics. That assumption has obviously been shown to be false and now it seems we're going in the opposite extreme. Marvel and other studios seem to think there is no threshold for the public's digestion of comic book material.

I'm not a big fan of Ant-Man but perhaps there isn't a threshold. Guardians of the Galaxy was good and successful. We're not used to comic books being in the mainstream so we think there may be burnout but we don't worry about that with romantic comedies or science fiction or horror movies. There's way more horror movies than superhero movies - think about that one. Heh.

Do you believe we will make any tangible progress on police brutality this year?

I don't know. I'm really pessimistic about this country. It seems that countries often go crazy when the way they're used to things being suddenly begins to deteriorate. That's happening here. I think the period we are in might seem like America's bizarre period.

There were things you used to hear said alot more in the United States like "It's a free country" or people would say "the highest standard of living in the world" to some effect. People used to say those phrases almost daily and you don't hear people say either of those much anymore. Police represent the societies they serve because they're enforcing their laws so if they're crazy, we may be crazy too.

Orion's Questions For Maiello

I asked you about Star Wars Rebels last time. What do you think of the Episode VII trailer? What about the parodies of it? What also do you think of reports that not much green screen was used in the upcoming film?

The trailer made me curious, that's for sure.  I like that the remnants of the Empire persist decades after the destruction of the second Death Star.  Heck, blowing up the first Death Star didn't slow the empire down much.  I'm also having a lot of fun reading all the fan speculation.  Has Luke turned to the dark side?  Is there a clone of the Emperor lurking? I'll be excited to see this in December.  My favorite parody was the first one I saw... the Lucas cut with all the extra CGI stuff thrown in and the promise of trade agreements.

Building off what you asked me, what are your plans for this coming year? What do you hope to achieve?

This is the year where I have to find my long form creative writing voice.  It's been a long time coming for that.  I think I spent so much time writing 800-1,200 word articles that my pacing is just off for the long form.  But, I'm getting there. Just drafted a 7,000 word short story that I am happy with, or will be, after one more revision.

I'm not sure 2014 was any worse for me than anyone else. What did you like about this year? What hope do you have for the next?

It's been a great year for my family.  I started a new job and that's been a great thing for me.  My son started pre-K and is loving school.  It's been a great year.  As for society, I just read that a physicist at MIT came up with the theory of how inanimate matter formed life -- it's all about systems organizing themselves to distribute energy.  How can you not like a year where somebody came up with that? 

We talk about my taste in music. What music are you listening to?

We just saw LL Cool J live at the Barclays Center and he was incredible.  That he's been doing this for decades and has kept himself in great shape really shows.  He performed non-stop.  He brought out Cannabis to settle an old feud dating back to 1997 and then... dissed him.  Run DMC came out and rocked it.  Boyz II Men was there.  They did Poison with Cool J.  LL, man.  He's that type of guy. We brought our son, he loved it.

What has living in NYC been like as the NYPD and NYC government clash has taken place?

The protests haven't been as present as Occupy.  I actually rode my bike through one of the early protests, outside the police station in midtown east.  Both cops and protesters were mellow.  Obviously, tensions are higher now.

I'll be interested to see what the results of the NYPD "work slowdown" turn out to be. Police are overlooking minor infractions and only arresting people "when they really have to."  That is exactly what New Yorkers want.  I think people are starting to realize that we don't need such a large and punitive police presence.  Most people are not out to harm each other.  Most crimes are either petty of victimless and certainly not worth the arrests, the fines and the hassles.

If the police don't go back to writing too many tickets and arresting too many people and society doesn't collapse, what does that really tell us?  I'd say it tells us that we have been over-policed for way too long.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

© 2017 Radical Second Things