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Ed Slack and the Slackestra! (Artist's Rendition)

SELF-FUNDING TUTORIAL

Slack, Ed

Beta release--edited only once so forgive the typos and horrendous abuse of grammar

Background:

One of the tenets of modern capitalism is that in being market-driven, there are two fundamental laws (according to Adam Smith and various other Enlightenment-era phiosophes):

  • The profit motive: people participate in the market (economy) for personal gain (wealth), and
  • Competition: Through attempting to better one's own position, one helps others through competition (if you don't pay your workers enough, they'll go somewhere else)
    How does this apply to the Slackestra? How does this apply to YOU?

    Smith places you (Labor) somewhere in the mix, and basically your job is to earn as little money as possible, while working as hard as possible. Overpopulation contributes to this, to the extent that the more workers there are (whether local or remote), the lower wages will fall. Of course, since people don't make as much money, they have less spending power, etc.

    The purpose of this article is to illustrate that becoming self-funded and independent of the man is an important, and necessary step in one's slackentelechy. To complete the transition, one is required to:

  • Shift one's mental perspective by understanding the imposition of extra-natural economic forces on one's slack
  • Establish alternative means of economic participation, generating incipient slack realities and post-slack distributionism.

    Ultimately, who cares? Well, YOU do, as a musician. Basically, if you want to "succeed" (in an Adam Smith sense) as a musician, you need to basically sell out. Product-ize your material, position it at the proper point of the supply & demand curve, maximize revenue while minimizing expenses, etc. If the goal of being a professional musician is to achieve profit (income) by participating in capitalism, you are faced with having to basically do what everyone else does (whether you're selling computers or concertos), and that is participating in and being subject to market forces. This is also known as, "selling out to the man."

    On a personal note, I must digress. I just love it when people get into arguments over whether or not U2 (insert alternative thing-of-the-moment band here) "sold out" when they came out with "The Joshua Tree" (or some other we-think-they-sold-out-album). Listen, folks, U2 (or whatever other group you want to discuss) has ALREADY SOLD OUT if you ever heard of 'em. That's right--U2 was long-sold-out before "Boy" ever came onto the scene--how else do you think they got a record deal? Because of their Integrity(tm)? HA HA HA! The joke's on YOU, sucker, because if you think that "Band X" made it to your local Wal-Mart because of their Integrity(tm), you're too late. By definition, these bands have already sold out and are not in the least self-funded and completely dependent on the man like crying babies at their mother's breast! We, therefore, have no time for that stuff.

    On a side note, this is why I think the Slackestra (and being self-funded in general) is the only place where you're going to get the straight poop, because we don't care if we're successful or not--we'll never sell out, because we're completely independent of the man!!

    Let's return to our discussion. In competing with other musicians, you improve your craft and determine what people what to buy or listen to. What ensues is some pseudo-darwinistic environment, where only the "good" bands "make it." All of the greats (from Beethoven to the Beatles) knew that this was an integral part of the game, and made good money at it.

    The Goal:

    Unfortunately, Beethoven and Ringo Starr had it wrong--you can ride the wave and manipulate the system properly (by existing within the fundamental rules of capitalism, as mentioned above) to earn a lot of dough, but in doing so, they let go of their self-determination and consigned themselves to becoming workmanlike assembly workers who put together the widgets, box them up, and ship them to their point of sale. In this sense, wealthy musicians (the list could go on and on) aren't necessarily even musicians--they are clever marketers and skillful assemblers, but nothing more. Wealthy, famous, yes--musicians, no. So when someone says they want to "make it" as a band, it really means they want to quit being a band and start being businessmen!

    So to become independent of the man, one must break free from the need of commercial success. At that moment, all funding is internal (it had better be, because no one is going to pay you to play or say what you think), and you are therefore self-funded and completely independent of the man! Ed Slack and the Slackestra is the first slack-groove band to ever achieve this.

    How to Proceed:

    The following are practical steps for the novice attempting to reach this state of slackentelechy. We won't let you in on all of the secrets, but here are some very good first steps:

  • Give up trying to "learn" songs. It's okay to play someone else's music as an exercise (means), but don't make that the goal (end). Every time you pick up your instrument, do something different with it.
  • Speaking of instruments, avoid the tendency to purchase expensive trinkets from the usual outlets ("Musician's" [sellout's] "Friend," for example). Get your stuff used, and get it old. Get it stinky, rusty, dusty, scratchy, and itchy. Learn how to fix stuff yourself.
  • Start eating lumps in your mashed potatoes. Eat fried chicken (not from some corporate greasepit, but from some joint nobody ever heard of). Enjoy the pulp in your orange juice.
  • With whatever money you save on your gear, take a few lessons. Nothing is worse than some multimillion-dollar freakshow with absolute shit coming from the speakers (c.f. Britney Spears, Ashley Simpson). I swear...
  • Spend no more money than is absolutely necessary for keeping body & soul together. Cars, clothes, CDs, televisions, video games -- forget it. It's all worthless junk anyway. Who really gives a shit about that stuff? Seriously!
  • The exception to the above rule--anything that you can buy for a buck or two at the Salvation Army on vinyl or 8-track is going to be helpful. You want to listen to as much music as you can, but you can't afford to buy everything new. It is through this technique that I obtained my incomparable "Al Green" 8-track collection, which is worth far more in terms of Slack than the $20 the entire thing cost. My J.C. Penney "Modular Component System" receiver ($10) and the two behemoth speakers ($5 apiece) have served me in good stead for the past ten years, and greatly assists the generation of surreality slack fields.
  • Eat lots of ramen noodles.
  • Learn how to be a computer programmer, or better yet, a systems administrator. If you have half a brain, you can get your work done in the first hour or two of the day, and then slack off the rest of the day. Web page jobs are OK, but they always have something stupid for you to do. Systems administration (particularly Unix) is the greatest--you set everything up right the first time, and the computers do the rest of the work!

    In short, by recognizing the game we're involved in as musicians, and stepping outside of the rules (refusing, for example, to even play--we have no profit motive, and we therefore have no competition) you too will find that as a musician, you have certainly "made it," far more so than anyone in Rolling Stone. You will be self-funded, and completely independent of the man!

    ...AND NOW, FOR THE MONEY SHOT!!!

    The true conversion requires establishing a new, slack means of wealth. By inscribing ourselves within the arenea of global capitalism, we make ourselves slaves to the dollar. This is an error perpetrated by many so-called "slackers," (the church of the SubGenius, sadly enough, tacitly agrees that we should be slaves to the dollar). I propose instead, the exchange or barter of Slack Artifacts as a means of distributing wealth. By doing so, one is effectively removed (to the extent one can be) from the reign of corporate economics and is freed to become truly self-funded, and independent of the man!

    Here's how it works. Instead of paying each other in dollars for services/goods bought and sold, payment is in terms of Slack Artifacts. A sample exchange table is below (borrowed from the International School of Slack school of Finance):
    Mundane Items
    ItemEquivalent 2005 US $
    6-Pack of American Beer$3
    Case (24) of Ramen$2
    Any 8-track tape$5
    Any LP$4
    A basic computer$20

    Slack Artifacts
    ItemEquivalent 2005 US $
    6-Pack of PBR still in the 1970s steel cans (chilled)$100
    Case (24) of Ramen with a "Super Saver" (Denton, TX) reciept attached$20
    An 8-track tape of the "Star Wars" soundtrack (1977, London Symphony)$50
    Any Isley Brothers LP$50
    An LP of Hamburg Philharmonic's "Symphony for Glenn (Smith)," Somerset$75
    An HP-9000 computer (weight: 100 pounds) running HP-UX 10.20 with attached "Green Screen" CRT that glows in the dark even though it hasn't been turned on in five years$500

    Slack Activities That Ought To Be Worth Money
    ItemEquivalent 2005 US $
    Going to Grad School$1000
    Playing a gig for which you haven't rehearsed$2000
    Becoming a Linux Sysadmin$2500
    Reading this site$1000
    Joining a Slack Collective$3000

    Things that Are Slack Liabilities
    Listening to any CD with the letters "DDD" on the back-25
    Watching any movie made after 1985 (except for "Swingers" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas")-100
    Playing any video game system made after the Nintendo 64-50
    Purchasing anything new, when you could have gotten it used at some thrift store-75
    Owning a Car-1000
    Being a web programmer-3000


    Once a conversion to a slack-based currency has taken place, it is no longer necessary to work, or even do much of anything at all. Everything falls into perspective. No longer do we need to earn big-willy cash to survive, instead, we need to find a good used bookstore, a place that provides tubes and capacitors for ancient musical instruments, and a steady supply of cheap beer and food, and the rest will take care of itself!

    As you can see, becoming self-funded and completely independent of the man requires the adjustment of your mental state, followed by a conversion to a slack-based currency These are just some tips. I'm happy to offer personal advice (send an email or something) if you need help getting started, but I can tell you this. By following a set of rules like this, I can honestly say that I don't do more than 20 minutes of work a day, I'm getting fat, old, and ugly, and my interaction with the "free market" is so limited, I don't even know what money is anymore. I don't even know how to drive anymore!

    Yes, that's right--Slack is TRULY it's own reward!