Category Archives: sobriety

Album Review: “The Workout” by Stic (aka stic.man)

Discipline. NO excuses. Rhythm and movement. Motivation. Consistency. Execution only. Positivity only. Clean living. Self-affirmation. Affirmation of life.

These are among the themes of the beyond superb new album The Workout by Stic (aka stic.man) of Dead Prez. Living healthy is no easy task in this society, with both external and internal forces (the monkey mind) leading us toward negative addictions, attitudes, relationships, indulgences, negligence, and so on. But a revolution must lead with folks who comprehend how unhealthy society functions upon the mass of people, and who comprehend how the many contradictions and negative outcomes befall people governed by a system that wants to consume and exploit human beings, and get human beings to consume and destroy themselves in order to make a profit.

Thus I think The Workout, despite its primary concern with self-development, may be among the most revolutionary Dead Prez albums yet, because revolution, a radical break from a legacy of violence, death, ignorance, exploitation, anger, greed and fear, must begin with the self. And only oneself can liberate oneself – we ourselves are often our own worst enemies. It takes unyielding self-discipline, contemplation, study, exercise, and serious internal work to overcome the contradictions that we as individuals engage in that, in part, perpetuate the miserable status quo of human existence at large. Thus, to encourage diligent and profound internal work, including on our physical bodies as well as our minds, is to encourage revolutionary work, full stop.

And Stic and friends do a mighty fine job of encouragement, through superb musical hip-hop artistry and lyricism. This album surely works as great workout music, as I have listened to it during many a workout over the past few weeks. The refrain, “who am I? I am the champion!” from “Champion” buzzes through the mind while one sweats in exertion. Stic rhymes, “over my lifetime I’m tryna do a million crunches, a billion pushups and prolly throw a billion punches; it’s not the numbers, it’s all about the drive and hunger, to live strong like gorillas thrive in the jungle” in “Blood Pumpin’.” I feel really driven when hearing this line, driven to push myself hard for the rest of my life and never stop reaching mental and physical peaks and then exceeding them, going from strength to strength as I become stronger, wiser and sharper with time.

In “Back On My Regimen (Swole like Tookie),” Divine RBG says “My everyday struggle got me slacking on my fitness, I hear my inner voice saying get back to bidness, get back in the gym, get back on the bars, I can get it in anywhere, the world is my yard!” I love these bars because brother Divine reminds us that for most of us there’s little excuse to slacking, as the world is our yard, the whole of whatever tools and facilities and environments we have at hand. We must strive not to permit our everyday struggles to overwhelm us, to smother us, burn us out and steal our lives from under us. So we can do calisthenics at home; we can get it in at the park, taking walks, jogs, stretches; whatever is safest, most available, but we have to get it in no matter what and keep it up. I don’t have a gym membership; just shoes, a bunch of kettlebells, my body, and my urban environment, and I make it work, getting it in 3-5 days a week and feeling absolutely great, killing the negativity and stagnation inside me every day with sweat and torque.

I greatly appreciate the pro-sobriety messages laced throughout this piece. General Steele (of Smif-N-Wessun) declares, “Strict code of conduct, respect for my enemies; exercise mentally, physically, spiritually; no guns needed – got a panther’s agility, and I don’t need drugs to enhance my ability” (Warrior Codes). No drugs, no steroids, no human growth hormone, no easy ways out. No intoxicants, no means to blunt reality. All things worth achieving are best and most sustainably achieved by all-natural, straightforward, head-first means. It’s painful that so much of prominent rap music is about the opposite – celebrating drugs, self-destruction, ill-health, domestic violence and promiscuity, etc. the opposite of a clear-headed, simple, positive, healthy life which brings lasting well-being, not instant and fleeting gratification followed by craving and calamity.

There are so many incredible songs on this album. “Yoga Mat” reminds us of the importance of meditation and engaging in practices that help us arrive at mental clarity. Mental clarity is a rarer commodity than rare-earth minerals, rarer even than known Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars. To even seek mental clarity and sincere inner peace, peace with oneself, in this society, is to engage in extremely subversive, anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist activities. The system doesn’t mind meditation, since it doesn’t harm it directly, and meditation won’t speed revolution. But if it were the case that masses of us took up meditation (to regain our minds, assert our willpower and master our destinies) instead of smoking a cigarette, drinking alcohol, or doing other things to get high and lose our minds, the Babylon system could get mighty nervous.

The sistas make an appearance in “Baby Fat,” “one of whom (I think Ife Jie?) spits “I know a beautiful body is what a man loves, but I do it for me, I got my own standards.” While this album doesn’t exactly explode with feminism, it doesn’t push machismo and anti-women crap either. I appreciate how this woman asserts her desire for health and fitness as based on her own standards and aspirations to wellness, as opposed to being predicated on impressing men. She is allowed to define her own destiny and it needn’t be just about pleasing men; it can be about pleasing and fulfilling herself.

I could go on about other goodies on this brilliant album, like “Bruce Lee” (awesome), “Sober Soldier,” “Let it Burn,” “Runner’s High,” and so on. But to wrap up I’ll just say this is a nearly perfect example of positive culture. We need more positive culture! I need it. This is the sort of stuff I respond to deeply. This is the sort of stuff brothas and sistas ought to contemplate and actualize in order to affirm and perpetuate life rather than destroy it. Negative culture generally seeks the opposite of what our righteous brother Stic and company want to tell us. Positive culture encourages us to push the boundaries of human potential and do what we previously thought impossible, toward positive transformation of self and community. The Workout is right on that tip.

For the hardcore straight-edge vegan fitness freaks, for the revolutionaries, for those who seek health and clarity, for all of the above, this album will talk to you. Please support Stic and wise men and women like him, and cop this album ASAP.

Hospital Food

So last week I was at my local hospital rehab ward to observe occupational therapy for several days (occupational therapy is my next course of study and, I promise, the last degree I’ll collect before I turn 30. I need to make more money.). Folks who have suffered strokes, folks who’ve had heart attacks, amputees, folks who’ve been shot or endured devastating accidents, these individuals constitute the population of this inpatient ward. This private non-profit hospital is among the more progressive and well-endowed in the NYC metro area. The staff seem respected and happy, from the physical and occupational therapists to the practical nurses, from the food servers to the social workers.

The hospital food orders can be restricted for patients with cardiac conditions, limiting them to low-fat/low cholesterol options. And one could get some fresh fruits with his or her requests. Vegetarian meals were also options. The food offerings were conventional, but not of the lowest standard, and there was room for customization on the part of the savvy patient.

Nonetheless, I want to assert that many conditions suffered by these patients were ultimately caused by diet. Smokers and heavy meat-eaters, given their stated conditions and diets, abounded in this population, especially amongst stroke and cardiac patients. Diet is the first medicine. It begins at youth. Bad medicine across a lifetime leads to an undesirable outcome, it was overwhelmingly clear to me after my observation of who tends to wind up needing these sorts of therapies.

Healthy food, physical culture (primal and vigorous exercise and play), adequate sleep, healthy relationships and vocations, sunshine, rest, hopefully some love – these are the original therapies. If the whole population ate brilliantly and lived vigorously (but safely and sanely), physicians and allied health professionals like me, even those in alternative medicine disciplines, would be damn near out of business. For real. If we are honest, many of our professions are created by the need to mitigate negative lifestyle choices only. Nutritionists, for example (just one of many disciplines to critique) are not really necessary but to the nutritionally clueless, obese client who can afford one, who will tell the client what to eat and why. But common sense says we should eat natural fresh fruits and vegetables, as much as we need, and then relax. Hell, personal trainers – a profession I’ve been trained in – don’t really need to exist but for an adult population that has completely forgotten how to move and play to stay naturally healthy. Another thing I’ve been trained in, massage therapy, is unnecessary for those who have great friends and/ or lovers who can share affection and apply pressure to pain and aches maturely and effectively.

If the population moved towards health and sanity, no need for many of us healthcare peoples. We’d need retraining for some other profession, those that actually produce and reproduce material needs in societies. I would actually prefer that the population did this. That would be the trend in a revolutionary society that knows about preventive medicine, social equality, pro-human values, harmony with nature, and so on.

But it’s not happening, in fact the trend goes backwards. Hence among the only stable and growing jobs in this recession continue to be those in healthcare.

Shouldn’t be. Preventive medicine is the best therapy. Love is the best drug. Healthy diet is the most profound lifelong pill. For me, healthy diet is of course this low-fat raw vegan road. Staying healthy is easy in this configuration. Eat fresh clean raw plants when you’re hungry. Then relax and do other things like positive, life-affirming and creative work, coupled with vigorous and fun play, and completed by welcome and relaxing sleep.

Stay healthy, so you don’t have to even deal with the berserk capitalist anti-human monster euphemistically called our healthcare system in these united snakes. Complicated and clever ways to deal with the ordeal of medical billing for insurance was one of the main things everyone at this hospital was talking about.

Don’t make the world need more nurses, therapists and hospital food.

A Straight-Edge Screed

An advanced revolutionary raw vegan sista recently wrote this outstanding polemic against alcohol and the destruction it beholds for our people. I had the following to say in response:

This is 1000% heroically true, besides being academically sound and passionately convincing. Thus the most dedicated raw vegan/ fruitarian, which I think can be a way of life approaching the highest form of humanism if done conscientiously and diligently, HAS TO BE COMPLETELY STRAIGHT-EDGE:
Alcohol free
Drug Free
Pharmaceutical Free
Meat Free
Sloth and Laziness Free
Consumerism Free
Materialism Free
Addiction Free
Greed Free
Ignorance Free
Mindlessness Free
Egoism Free
Meaningless Fornication Free
Intolerance Free
And in my hard-honest opinion, Religion Free, Dogma Free, Fatalism Free, etc.

Fruitarianism has to be combined with a will for serious discipline no matter the social consequences. I occasionally associate with those who drink, even smoke marijuana, but I never participate in the usage of intoxicants, to the extent that after years of my friends seeing this, it has had a moderating effect on them; I have even been quoted by a friend as saying “not a drop” when offered alcohol once, but so be it. I agree that the revolution in human society, the Afrikan revolution, the redemption of indigenous peoples and oppressed peoples in the third world, cannot proceed without the removal of alcohol and other intoxicants from our diets.

I have seen videos on Al-Jazeera of the obscene destruction of Australian aboriginal societies by the drink. It is well known that indigenous peoples here in Turtle Island, forcibly circumscribed to concentration camps euphemistically called “reservations,” live terribly short lives and suffer from alcoholism and resultant liver failure en masse. Afrikan and Latin@ communities in the urban quarters of the United Snakes are similarly dispossessed by the infiltration and invasion of alcohol, drugs, and addiction into our lives.

It’s no mystery why among the first concerns of the Cuban Revolution and that of Vietnam were getting rid of brothels in the former and opium dens in the latter. The drug economy and the war on drugs, from the jungles of Columbia and Peru, or the poppy fields of Afghanistan, to the ghettos of America, is a war on oppressed and colonized peoples, based on the perverse addictions of the colonizers and the induced addictions on the colonized as a false escape from the malaise and affliction of colonization itself.

It is so true that alcohol’s appeal and importance is based on capitalism and perpetuated by the marketers which create all manner of psychological enticements for people to drink. Appealing to the low self-esteem of folks, they plaster Budweiser posters all over the subways in my city (NYC) so folks will think drinking that poison will make them super-sexy and glamorous. It is beyond odious to attack human frailties, especially the vulnerabilities of the oppressed, in such a manner as to get people to pay for poison, to put a cash investment into their own demise! Thus is the case for every other useless commodity offered to us in the world of Times Square, the world of Madison Ave and Hollywood, which drives this fragile and false and destructive and immensely wasteful consumer economy on which America’s financial life is now based. What an unsustainable and violent and bleak future awaits us, is indeed enfolding now and has been for ages, if human civilization is permitted to proceed along these anti-human, sicker than sick, empty lines, the road to the proverbial wasteland. Human liberation must jettison such addiction and the very capacity in us to allow ourselves to be taken for a ride by these marketing professionals who are the henchmen of capitalism and the arch-enemies of human wholeness and human freedom. What Karl Marx described as “commodity fetishism” is very real indeed and it has to be demolished. Doing away with alcohol is just the beginning but would make for a very profound one in the content of the message of such a rejection.

The mystery of tagging myself “Precision Afrikan” is actually an homage to the vision of precision straight-edge in the punk movement, which is very strongly opposed to drink, drugs, mindlessness, perversion, irresponsibility and excess in relationships, and so on. I think that a vision of the most serious discipline is the foundation of a model for human liberation that can sustainably meet the needs of communities, pursue pro-human instead of anti-human interests, and protect and humble itself to the planet Earth.

Massive thanks to you for this vigorous opus against alcohol. I am known to be a hardliner, a zealot. But I’m not the only one. Uhuru Sista! The oppressed of Afrika, Asia and Latin America will win (with less beer and more brawn)!

Discipline is greatness. Let the white man drown in his liquor poison if he wants, but he can keep it to himself. Let’s stay disease free, including from the disease of alcholism or even the mere normalization of the state of intoxication, dizziness, and resultant blindness to truth, logic, and will to struggle and persevere.

STRAIGHT EDGE ALL THE WAY. VEGANISM=SOBRIETY-ONLY LIVING. CLARITY TO THE SOBER!!! SOBRIETY TO THOSE WITH EYES TO SEE THE TRUTH BEHIND THE VEIL OF THE MATRIX!

What do you think? Is my stance too brash, inflexible, impractical, or righteous? Well, look at it this way: we only live once, exactly. Not being a religious person and thus not interested in afterlife talk or any other comforting metaphysical fantasies, I must assert with confidence that none of us are getting out of this place alive. With this limited-time appointment with the universe, why poison the temple? For that is what our bodies are, luminous temples, rare to achieve, altars of our every ounce and iota of experience, knowledge and sensation. We didn’t ask to be born, yet here we are, breathing, blinking, sitting, thinking, reading this blog post.

That said, I find it hard to justify intoxication of any kind, to put us out of touch with reality and reduce our quality of this already fleeting life. Drink and drugs poison the brain, weaken the body, whither our resolve, and demolish our courage. Some say that, for an atheist, I can sound far more religious than those who fear a god, with this sort of talk. But I say that the only sort of life in which we can maximize self-actualization of all of the goals we wish to realize, given the existential plight we are faced with in taking full responsibility for what happens to us in this open, naked universe, is the sort of life characterized by the highest levels of discipline and sobriety. A discerning person needs the clearest eyes. The eyesight of the drunk is dull. Debauchery – an archaic word, perhaps loaded with moralizing or religious connotations – is a no-no for the most serious Afrikans, no matter what they eat. Afrikan vegans need to be hardcore in their disposition, because vegan is not just about what we put in our bodies, but also about the content of our resolve, our politic, our very demeanor. It is a life stance, especially significant to take up as peoples who endure national oppression and underdevelopment almost everywhere we are.

A woman in Ghana, an economics professor returning to Afrika after generations removed in Jamaica and then London, told me that one of the biggest problems amongst Afrikans was a lack of discipline. Discipline is the opposite of corruption, is it not? I’m not an angel. I’m not an ascetic or a monk. I’m not beyond criticism. I’m a complete nobody. And I don’t write this to front like I’m better than anyone. But I don’t care for mediocrity in my life and so try my level best to live a clean life. Clean living is the way to avoid scandals and live long and productive lives.

All in all, when it comes to drink, drugs or smoking, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. It is to me the opposite of veganism, indeed the opposite of human liberation and the humanizing trend in civilization, to choose intoxication and poison over sobriety and health. And to support economies based on exploitation through intoxication, and the related narcotics trade and war on drugs which destroy life for third-world peoples, just because we want to “party,” is hypocritical, cynical, and perverse. Please folks, let us no longer be softies and liberals about these points. Dump the drink and drugs FOREVER.