Sunday, October 16, 2011

Live From Occupy Wall Street: Gorilla Biscuits' Arthur Smilios

Name: Arthur Smilios

What is your job? Associate Editor; bassist for Gorilla Biscuits, CIV and Walter Schreifels Band

What social causes are most important to you?
 Anything in pursuit of justice for all forms of life, be they human or non-human. I do activism, in many forms, trying to dismantle the disease that is capitalism and replace it with true democracy; with a system that doesn’t commodify life and places people over profit. 
What charities do you support – and how?
 To continue with my previous point, charities are an unfortunate aspect of capitalism’s wreckage. In an equitable socioeconomic system, there is no need for charity because there would be a just distribution of wealth: Those who worked to create the wealth would be rewarded, unlike now, where the working class does everything and parasitical bankers and CEOs take the fruits of the labor.

That said, I do support the work of charities that advocate for the homeless (the most brutalized victims of the current system); that defend and protect children; that fight for the rights of animals and Earth. Basically, I support anyone who gives of her/his time, in pursuance of justice.

There are a few organizations I wholeheartedly support, although they aren’t charities, per se. I’ll speak of two. First is The Sparrow Media Group, with which I have had the honor of working in several ways. This group was started by my dear friend, Andy Stepanian, and Danielle Thompson. It is a multimedia social justice advocacy organization. Its latest endeavor has been to print the manifesto of Occupy Wall Street, The Declaration of the Occupation of New York. Sparrow has the full blessing of OWS and will be distributing the booklets—entirely for free, using money raised from donations.

The other is Occupy Wall Street, which has awakened and unified the working class, like nobody has done, in my country, in a long time, if ever. The organization is apolitical, in that the opinions of the participants run the political spectrum., from Libertarians to Anarcho-Syndicalists, to everything in between that is progressive. This has led to people of disparate political affiliations opening real dialogue with each other because we all know that the problems in our country stem from the banking classes and their rapacious practices.

Why do you have a passion for these in particular, is there a personal tie?
 My devotion to Sparrow is manifold: Firstly, as I mentioned, Andy Stepanian is a dear friend, with whom I have been honored to work toward making a better world, over the last two years. What differentiates Sparrow from so many other groups is that its focus is all-encompassing. It promotes animal rights; labor rights; human rights; Earth rights, and champions the cause of justice, in general.

As for OWS, this is the movement for which I have been waiting, for a few years, now. The entire American working class, unified against those very few who have abused us and stolen our wealth and our children’s future for far too long. I have been giving every free moment I have to be down at Liberty Plaza, volunteering both my services and money for this great cause.

Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved?
 We each have our different talents. My only advice is to do something, anything. Do community outreach. Make a website. Run for office. Give money, if you are able, to organizations that reflect your vision of a better world. Whatever one can do to improve this world, please do it. We all want to give our children a brighter future and it is incumbent on us to be active in the realization of this wish.

How would you define social responsibility?
 Standing up against injustice, in whatever ugly guise it may present itself.

Do you have any tattoos that relate to your social/charitable beliefs/work? 

I do. I have the logo of the Industrial Workers of the World (a globe, with three stars and the letters, “IWW”) on my left calf, done by Johnny Truant at Lotus Tattoo. It is red with no borders. I also have a tattoo in honor of The Clash, a band that started me down the life-affirming path of punk rock/hardcore. It’s on my right calf, done by Rob Hotte. It is the image from the back of Combat Rock: The red star, with the open book, reading “The Future is Unwritten.” The focal point of the tattoo, though, is the banner with the iconic slogan, “Know Your Rights,” which was a song on the album, penned by the late, great Joe Strummer. I also have, on my left outer calf, near the IWW logo, a beaver holding a revolutionary banner. This is a statement against what people have done to this planet, our home—the only one we have. The beaver is one of the most badass animals. It is industrious; monogamous; cooperative, and several dozen species are completely dependent on the beaver to manipulate the ecosystem in such a way as to support them. It was done by my good friend, Grez, at Kings Avenue.

I am getting a "99%" tattoo, tomorrow afternoon, from Chuck Donoghue, who is also getting it. 

Quick list of tattoos/mention artists if you’d like:

• Cross with “Faith, Hope Charity” on my left forearm
• Sharks on each of my outer elbows
• Griffin on my left outer biceps
• Heart with “Mom” banner on my left shoulder
• Anchor with banner reading “If I Should Fall From Grace” on my right outer biceps
• “Good Time Guy” on my right calf
• Swallow and dagger on my right forearm
• Filigreed bracelet around my left wrist
• Byzantine eagle on my right shoulder
• Lotus buddy tattoo on my right wrist
• “718” area code tattoo on my left wrist

• Revolutionary beaver on my left calf
• Eagle with the flag of New York City on my chest

Mike Wilson:
• Sailor Jerry dolphin on my left forearm

Brian Bruno:
• Rose of No Man’s Land with a Tiger’s face on my right inner biceps

Claire Vuillemot:
• Woman smoking on my left inner biceps

Jay Cavna:
• Dragon on my right forearm

Bert Krak:
• Bulldog sailor head on my left calf

Todd Noble:
• Battleship with “NYC” banner on my right calf

• Skull with “Defiance” on my right calf

Steve Zarzana:
• Cats with top hats and bow ties on each shoulder
• Sailor Jerry “Old Bones” pirate on right shin

Johnny Truant:
• IWW logo on my left calf

Rob Hotte:
• “Know Your Rights” Clash tattoo on my right calf

Eric Wigger:
• Cock of the Walk on my right forearm

Chuck Donoghue:
• Friday the 13th Skull on my left forearm

• Baby chick in a flying saucer shooting lasers at a city on my right calf

Wylie Perry:
• Moonshine bottle with slogan on my right ankle

Fat Pat:
• Eagle and snake in combat on my left forearm

Keith Franco:
• Gorilla Biscuits logo on my right calf

• The most sorry-looking nautical star, on my right ankle

Photo credit: Josh Casuccio

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