Joseph Reyes

 

 

Artist

October 12


I never thought I’d ever see a live minstrel show in my lifetime. But that’s exactly what Kanye West did in the oval office in front of Donald Trump. He performed as a “black supporter,” a minority supporter whose years where he was hailed as a celebrity and an icon by the black community would be weaponized to delegitimize all complaints against the Trump administration. “Maybe Black Lives Matter and Colin Kapernick are just over-reacting! Kanye West, a prominent black celebrity, is out there hugging Donald Trump. They must not be well-versed on the issues as much as Kanye, the genius that he is.”

What’s shameful is that they let Kanye just go around and hurt himself by letting him speak nonsense. Doesn’t he have relatives or people that care about him? Doesn’t he have anyone to tell him that talking about multi-verses in the oval office in front of cameras make him look like a fool? Why are they letting him advocate prison reform specifically for one person, who is probably one the least-deserving of presidential pardons out of the millions of people locked up in the US? Is Donald Trump so desperate for black friends (and celebrity friends) that he would willingly exploit someone who clearly needs help? Kanye’s rant in SNL a couple of days ago was embarrassing. He held everyone hostage while he indulged in his narcissistic lectures. Trump just magnified that a thousand times and turned the whole country into SNL.

Kanye West is a distraction, a disgrace, and dumb moron. Call him a musical genius if you want, but don’t forget to include “musical.” Being called a genius in one field doesn’t give one carte blanche authority on every other subject.

Long live Taylor Swift.



Saudi Arabia is out of control. The presumed assassination and disposal of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is the stuff of mafia movies. The United States is now getting a taste of what Saudi Arabia did to Canada a few months ago. Fortunately, we have a leader who is willing to stand up against Saudi Arabia. As for the US, Trump said it plainly, the Saudis are buying way too many weapons for the US to be concerned about one presumably dead journalist (who is just a US permanent resident, not a citizen). It is disgusting.

 I said it before. MBS is Kim Jung Un with oil money. He behaves the same way as Kim Jung Un. The only reason why he is not ostracized by other countries is because of his country’s oil wealth. He is no reformer. If anything, he appears to be more dangerous at his young age than his predecessors. And unfortunately, with Trump unwilling to go against Saudi Arabia, this reckless behavior will only continue to escalate.

In a few weeks, people will forget about Khashoggi. Even in this page, I wrote about the distraction of Kanye West before I wrote about Khashoggi which arguably has greater consequences in the future. There will be greater distractions, and people will focus again on hating Iran instead of the Saudis. The US and the rest of the world will forget and let the Saudis do whatever they want. After all, if they can get away with 9/11, what’s that compared to one missing journalist. 

September 27


The Judge Kavanaugh defense is a shameful farce on all fronts. First off, the preemptive strategy of selling him a great basketball coach and father to two daughters, surrounding him with young girls when they initially presented him was very suspect. They never did that for Judge Gorsuch. Also, it was very suspect that the Republicans had a signed testimony from 65 women who attests to Gorsuch’s good character in high school well-prepared prior to the allegations about him attempting to rape women ever surfaced. Why was there ever a need for such a document? Does Gorsuch have a similar document at the ready during his confirmation process?

The most common defense, which something Donald Trump has echoed, is that the women are liars, that they are confused or that they have an agenda. This is the oldest, most sexist defense of all. Tucker Carlson, in his most un-self-aware moment of television, even compared the whole unfolding fiasco to the Salem witch trials, to which, if I remember the play correctly, involved women being falsely accused and foregoing reason in favor of a moral panic. It is doubly ironic because at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t even want to investigate the women’s allegations. So no investigations… they are simply all liars, and the poor judge is a victim of hysteria and political assassination. The Salem witch trials seem more thorough in comparison.

But what’s more disturbing is the now growing defense of letting boys be boys. The judge was seventeen at the time (and his accuser was 15). Boys will always be aggressive, and men should never be judged for their actions as children. Forget that the action in question was attempted rape. And as time passes, it would seem to be a pattern of organized attempted rapes and sexual harassment. CNN, in an effort to be non-partisan, has been parading women defending the action of boys, poor boys who are merely acting on their hormones. Besides, what happened was more than 36 years ago. If it did happen, it was far too long ago, and the good judge has grown to be quite the upstanding citizen, so upstanding that he’s earned the nomination to be the next Supreme Court judge.  But let me count the ways on how awful this defense is.

Minority children are often never afforded the same courtesy of being young and immature. They are more often prosecuted as adults and described as menacing. Look at what happened to Trayvon Martin. He was shot for walking in his neighborhood. He wasn’t attempting to rape anyone. And closer to Donald Trump, look at the Central Park Five which he campaigned to be sent to prison despite being proven innocent of gang rape. They were 15 at the time. Being young and innocent is often a white privilege. Minority children are treated as grown men way too soon while white men are treated as men way too late. Want proof? Look at Don. Jr. He’s a grown man with kids, but he’s often talked about like a bumbling teenager.

Saying that boys will be boys, that these things happen, and that groping is as innocent as snapping bras for teenagers is basically admitting to the fact that the judge probably did what he was accused of doing. If so, that would make him a liar, wouldn’t it? A teenage boy who sexually harassed women and attempted to rape them in his “youthful innocence” is far from the straight-laced Christian he is selling himself as. Also, that would make him someone who lied in front of Congress. People get disqualified applying for jobs when they openly lie in front of their potential employers.

It is never okay to attempt rape at any age. It is not a teachable moment. And when the judge’s supporters say that the #Metoo movement makes every man a target, it doesn’t. It makes every rapist a target. It makes everyone with sexual harassment or assault in their past a target. I don’t have any sexual harassment in my past whatsoever. I’m not intimidated by the #Metoo movement at all. I have not come close to what the judge is being accused of doing. I’m sure a lot of men have nothing to fear from it as well.

Consent is key and it should be within context. The women accusing Kavanaugh say that they never gave consent especially as minors. I would hate to live in a world where a minor consenting to sexual relations is judged as valid as consent from a grown adult, especially in a setting as a high school party filled with drugs and alcohol. That’s a horrible setting to assign a legally-binding consent. Now, contrast this with the way Kavanaugh treated the relations between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, two consenting adults.

The whole notion of restorative justice relies on the fact that the perpetrator of the crime admits to the crime and has reformed and is no longer a threat to society as a whole, making amends to those he/she has wronged in the process. When people say that the events took place long time ago and that the judge is now reformed, they ignore the fact that the judge has never admitted to anything. No confession, no apology, no restorative justice. How can there be justice when the very existence of a crime and yes, even victims, is simply denied? If anything, the whole fiasco reeks of a separate crime in itself, a cover-up.

What is interesting is that Kavanaugh recently admitted to being a virgin in high school in order to disprove the rape allegations. He is willing to say that he was a popular student and an athlete who never had a sexual encounter in high school rather than admit to being a tad too aggressive and admitting to mistakes. Instead of being weak and human, he chose to go to an even higher moral pedestal. Boys and girls, not only was he richer, smarter, and more popular than you, Jesus also loves him more. Of course, it is much, MUCH easier to admit to being a virgin in high school and taking on its stigma after so many years has passed, now that you have nothing much to lose from it. Compare that to admitting you were an attempted rape victim back then and taking on death threats.

I initially though that Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, but the events of the past few days had me rethinking my initial prediction. I could still be correct, but there is a growing possibility that he would not survive this and that he could very well lose his district judge position. Here’s hoping that he does lose everything. The world is a dumpster fire at the moment, which is why I still think he could still become a Supreme Court judge, but I really wish in a few days, there would be one less rapist in a position of power.

After all of this is over, what would leave a bad taste in my mouth is how allegations of sexual misconduct is still treated pretty much the way it was in the past, even after the #Metoo movement. It’s very reminiscent of Saudi Arabia, where the victim faces a tremendous hurdle for proving a crime has been committed after overcoming the sometimes impossible hurdle of admitting a crime has been committed, and even then, both the victim and the accused face consequences. There is still victim blaming… what was she wearing, why was she there, what time was it, what was she drinking, etc. Ignoring the fact that biggest factor in being raped is to be in the midst of a person who happens to be rapist. We still haven’t learned anything.  

Ugh. As I said, the world is a dumpster fire, and it still must suck to be a woman sometimes. 

September 14


​There is a crisis in South Korea right now. Housing prices have skyrocketed, making buying homes a dream for most young families. At the moment, the traditional way of building wealth is much too lucrative for the average person, and it has become the realm of speculative investing/gambling the same way stocks and cryptocurrencies are. I’m not sure if there’s anything the government can do to calm the market down, but as far as I can tell, they’re not doing anything that could effectively make things better for people. Along with the housing crisis is the current unemployment/wage crisis.   The government’s attempt to regulate time spent in the office and prevent overworking as well as their push to increase minimum wage has made companies reluctant to hire new employees. The job market was already tough before the Moon Jae-In administration, but their recent actions have made it more difficult for young people to find jobs. There are even been reports that many graduates have given up on finding lifelong employment and have settled on multiple part-time work or the gig economy. There is good intent in increasing the minimum wage in South Korea which is woefully low for a country with such high living costs, and there should be regulations in a culture which pressures workers to stay at work long after regular business hours have passed, but I feel like the rollout of these initiatives should’ve been coupled with incentives for big and small businesses to follow-through. Carrots and sticks. In any case, things are not good in South Korea at the moment. With Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) coming next week, there is very little to be grateful for in many Korean households.

Which is the reason why the President’s North Korean expedition rubs me the wrong way. It reeks of tone deafness and bad politics. While things are, at best, stagnant domestically, Moon Jae-In continues to pursue relations with North Korea when Kim Jung Un has yet to demonstrate that he is a good actor when it comes to negotiations regarding nuclear disarmament. Why is this the priority when people in the country are struggling to make a future for themselves, when the wealth gap between those invested in the real estate market and those just starting their families and career are getting to be so wide that more and more people are getting into crippling debt? I kid with some people sometimes, but a part of me believe that at some point, the only people who can afford the high rise apartments continually being built all over Seoul would be Chinese investors. Re-establishing the Kaesong Industrial Complex is not going to help the average Korean. It’s not going to make it easier to buy a house or get a proper job.

If anything, Kim Jung Un promising to denuclearize and allow nuclear inspectors is good politically for the one person who has not risked anything to push for disarmament: Donald Trump. While Moon Jae-In is running around North Korea, his victories towards nuclear disarmament are claimed by Donald Trump. I understand that nuclear disarmament benefits everyone, but here it seems he is working far too hard for the benefit of someone who really couldn’t care less. Also, who did Moon Jae-In bring with him to his recent trip? Three heads of Korean companies, two of whom have recently skirted Korean laws. It’s just awful, awful optics. Not only is the average Korean not going to benefit from the North Korean summit, but it appears that those who will gain are giant companies whose heads can break Korean laws and still continue to operate their multi-billion dollar companies. The Samsung heir who conspired with the previous administration and was convicted is attempting to rehabilitate his image with this trip to North Korea and the government is giving him the opportunity to do so. Awful.

Give up, boys and girls. Winners and losers are born. If you were not born a winner, give up already. That Samsung heir, boy, is he a winner!

Now, I agree that governments can’t be focused on one thing only and that the current domestic crisis is quite complicated and would require a solution lengthier than a couple of days-worth of socializing with communists, but I just find the whole thing inept and a tad misguided. While Moon Jae-In might be noble in his intent, I believe Kim Jung Un is simply looking for a photo op at the moment. And this, in a nutshell, is my problem with the current administration. While much better than the past administrations, it is far too invested on its good intentions and not so much on effective policy. Not being evil and getting elected is one thing, but actually running the government effectively is another. I feel like this current North Korean trip, with the backdrop of the domestic crises shows that the Moon Jae-In government is far too starry-eyed with its own ideals. And for that, they will get punished politically by their opponents. (It pains for me to say it, but they should.) It will be a loss for them politically, but that’s small compared to the huge impact the current crises is inflicting upon young Koreans. 

October 18


Congratulations to Canada for being sensible enough to finally end senseless marijuana prohibition. Most people who have had experience smoking marijuana know that it is much less dangerous compared to drinking alcohol. I remember back in university, one of my first presentations in sociology class was about the how smoking marijuana and the US’ war on drugs have created this unjust more against marijuana despite the fact that alcohol, which is completely legal, can cause aggression and is involved in roughly half of all murders, rapes, and assaults. Compare that to marijuana. When was the last time you saw an aggressive person high on marijuana? It can cause a bit of paranoia, of course, but more often than not, its sedative effect is the most common experience.

I think most people who want access to marijuana in Canada already had access to it prior to legalization. It’s not that difficult finding marijuana in Canada. I remember back in university, marijuana tends to find you instead. The problem with marijuana is its legal consequences and how that affects people. Fortunately, Canada is planning to release and perhaps clear the records of felons caught with a certain amount of cannabis. However for some, it may be too late already.

People sometimes say that marijuana is a gateway drug. You start with marijuana and you move on to more potent illegal drugs. However, I saw how the prosecution of marijuana possession is the gateway to more serious crimes. One of my best friends in school tried selling and even growing marijuana when we were in high school. I remember he even asked me for advice for effective growing methods, but what do I know? Anyway, he was caught with possession or with possession with intent to sell and was sent to juvenile detention. I was already in university at the time and was spending time with a different circle of friends. I did hear from him and about him occasionally and learned that he later got involved with harder drugs, manufacturing methamphetamines, and even breaking and entering. The last time I saw him, he was out in a rough part of town, looking worse for the wear.

Even with marijuana being legalized, it would have still been illegal for him to be possessing drugs at such a young age, but both the stigma and the allure won’t be there since the drug would be legal. It would almost be akin to hiding a pack of cigarettes. But I believe his detention got him in the wrong path, not the drugs itself. He wasn’t poor back then or anything. He was raised in a middle-class household with both parents. It was simply the allure of drugs that got him in. Compare that to the rather mundane allure of legal cigarettes and alcohol to young teens.

And that’s just with teens. I know someone with a suspended sentence for possession of marijuana, not for recreational use but for her cancer-stricken husband’s medical use. With legalization, there would be less stigma and no more need for unintended grief for those who need the drug. It’s good to have a bit more sensibility in the current world where more and more things seem to stop making sense as the days go by.

Well, hopefully with legalization and taxation, there will be a growth in industry and government revenue across Canada. This will also hurt gangs and the illegal drug trade since one of their cash crops has now effectively become public domain. And with the wide availability and the proper monitoring by the government, hopefully people would not have any need to find and experiment with stronger drugs. If anything, I expect Canada to become more of an attraction to our southern neighbors. I remember occasionally finding young American crossing the border on their past their 18th birthday in order to legally drink alcohol, party in bars, visit strip clubs, and take advantage of the relatively low Canadian currency. If cities and the government play their cards right, we might just become North America’s Netherlands. 

October 5


Thank you to the good people at The Woven Tale Press  for including me as one of their featured artists for their issue this month. They do wonderful work at introducing new artists as well as literary works to enthusiasts.