Happy Wasteland Day - Open Mike Eagle
“When the king is a garbage person
I might wanna lay down and die
Power down all my darkest urges
Keep my personal crown up high
I'm the king of my lonely island
Home is high they can't reach my house
I put out all the garbage fires
Squeeze the cider right in my mouth
Everything is not ordinary
Things begin and then have to die
Everything that's been dead and buried
It ain't supposed to come back alive”
“One day without violence
No bombs, no gunshots
Can we get one day without fear
No sirens, no lights
Can we get one day they don't try us?
No bombs, no gunshots
Just like one day the whole year
No violence, no fights”
Where’s the meaning
On the Youtube channel for this video there is a a quote from Open Mike Eagle himself:
"We're releasing this video a year to the day of the election of the garbage king. May our national nightmare end sometime soon." - Open Mike Eagle
Set in a imagined world named Wasteland where the imagery of modern times comes with a dystopian twist, “Happy Wasteland Day” feels like a cool new Mad Max prequel, while representing what Open Mike Eagle calls “the new ideal of normal.” The imagery of people living in garbage, but acting fine in daily life harkens back to the days of the wild west. In this world, glorified shootouts are celebrated and lauded as the only way to solve problems. This kind of entertainment construes violence as the main form of entertainment for the masses, led by the garbage king himself.
Open Mike Eagle’s recent album Brick Body Kids Still Daydream takes inspiration from Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes and the southside where he grew up. After watching this neighborhood be demolished, he was left to wonder what happened to all the displaced people. To make matters worse, the rebuilding of this neighborhood is behind schedule and there is nothing in its place but ruble. He feels that no one is talking about this issue on a national level due to race and people can’t seem to handle bad news anymore due to the volume of issues surfacing daily. Robert Taylor Homes used to be one the nation’s largest housing project with 11,000 residents. Open Mike Eagle uses his platform to humanize these black residents rather than discard them like the city has. This issue isn’t just happening in Chicago, it's happening across the nation due in large part to policies that encourage gentrification, thereby displacing lower socio-economic residents that currently reside in these areas.
The roots of this song are based in the idea of power. In the current political climate, it seems like people in positions of power have the upper hand. This pervasive belief can cause feelings of hopelessness and isolation. Living in this kind of “garbage fantasyland”, people are easily 'dragged into the dirt.' So what do you when everyone around seems to be of ugly moral character and/or complacent? You learn that you can only control what you do as an individual. You can make your own surroundings better and build up what you have. Being in the right mindset is critical so that you can become the king of your own garbage which can turn the negative into treasure.
Seeing the appearance of violence, systemic racism, and old ideals come back into current times people seem to accept this as the “new normal”. Amongst this apocalyptic setting, Open Mike Eagle is just hoping to get that one moment of relief or clarity. Can we get a day where nothing bad happens? This would be seen as holiday since the new normal is violence, hate, and hearing from a “garbage king.”
Open Mike Eagle states that “gathered folks and they caught my vibe, If it wasn't for y'all I would've lost my mind”. Without finding people that raise you up and reassure your ideals it would have been hard to stay positive for the future. These people can be the fuel to your fire when your light seems low. Is it important to find a community and what effects does community have on your values?
Violence and hate shouldn’t be normalized, but many fear that this has become the reality within the media over the past few years. Whether it be from protests or police shootings, we see or hear something tragic on a daily basis. Is violence and hate featured too predominantly in current media?
Another area of conversation has been on the apparent dearth of programs serving lower income housing. This sentiment has been felt and can be seen in several cities across the United States and has been connected to violence level, particularly within the inner cities. What are the real effects of housing policies?
In an Los Angeles based open mic workshop established in 1994. It featured rappers, music groups, and dancers. It was created for performers to gain skills and test out new material. They have released various records and a documentary on these artists.
Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity
Get involved building houses in the Chicago area or donate funds: http://www.chicagolandhabitat.org
Metropolitan Tenants Organization
MTO helps educate, organize and empower tenants to have a voice in the decisions that affect the affordability and availability of decent and safe housing.