LIBERTY OR DEATH
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet,
As to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God.
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
Give me liberty or give me death!
This is a portrait of Patrick Henry
. Those are his words above the portrait. He spoke them in an old church
in Richmond, Virginia, a mile or two away from where SurfingtheSpectacle resides. Henry was an orator, a statesman, a patriot
who spoke of freedom with tremendous passion.
It was the age enlightenment, of reason, of revolt. With the French Revolution and the American Revolution, ideas of freedom, equality and brotherhood spread through the land. These kind of grand notions might get a man thinking.
Especially if he were a slave.
was a slave. In the year of 1776, he was born as someone else's property. But he made sure he died his own man. No one ever made a portrait of him.
Gabriel wanted liberty; they gave him death. It was early October when they hanged him. You can go to the place he was killed. It's now a parking lot
The story goes that Gabriel
had worked as a blacksmith, and his master hired him out from time to time. This gave him some mobility. He could talk and drink with Richmond's slaves, free negroes and working class whites. They all wanted change. There was talk of injustice, of revolution. Ten years before in Haiti, the rule of the slave masters had been overturned. Why couldn't it happen here?
Now was their time. Gabriel was strong, educated, persuasive. A natural leader. He slowly hatched a plan, gathered his forces and amassed weapons. His hope was to take over the city in bloody fashion, kidnap the Governor of Virginia and begin to negotiate a new order of racial and economic equality.
In 1800, he led what is considered the first major slave rebellion
in American history. Thousands of slaves were in on the plan. But the night of the revolt, a ferocious storm ensued, washing out roads and bridges. The plan was delayed a day, but in that time, all was lost. It's said that two slaves informed on the rest, and the state militia came together to hunt down all the leaders of the rebellion.
This is a portrait of James Monroe. Before he became the 5th American president, he was the Governor of Virginia. He was the one that called out the militia to quash the slave revolt. When Gabriel was in chains, Monroe questioned him.
It must have been extremely awkward
for many of the founding fathers, daring to fight for liberty, expressing it in the most eloquent and forceful ways, and then going home to their estates and their family wealth, all of it utterly dependent upon slave labor. Yes, extremely awkward.
According to Governor Monroe, the interrogation proved uneventful. Gabriel "resolved to say but little on the subject of the conspiracy." Nor did his companions betray a word about the rebellion. The accused slaves carried themselves with a dignity that white observers found frightening.
One of the accused made these remarks during the trial
"I have nothing more to offer than what General Washington would have had to offer, had he been taken by the British and put to trial by them. I have adventured my life in endeavouring to obtain the liberty of my countrymen, and am a willing sacrifice to their cause. And I beg, as a favour, that I may be immediately led to execution. I know that you have pre-determined to shed my blood, why then all this mockery of a trial?"
On October 10, 1800, Gabriel and other slaves were hanged in the city gallows.
A week before the execution, very close by in Southhampton, Virginia, a boy was born into the world. He was black, a slave. He would also have something to say about liberty and death.
His name was Nat Turner
back to the top
Meat Knows Best.
“Our patriotism is that of the man who loves a woman with open eyes. He is enchanted by her beauty, yet he sees her faults. So we, too, who know America, love her beauty, her richness, her great possibilities; we love her mountains, her canyons, her forests, her Niagara, and her deserts—above all do we love the people that have produced her wealth, her artists who have created beauty, her great apostles who dream and work for liberty—but with the same passionate emotion we hate her superficiality, her cant, her corruption, her mad, unscrupulous worship at the alter of the Golden Calf."
(Emma Goldman, Anarchist, Feminist, during her July 1917 espionage trial for actively opposing the military draft)
Do Something Amazing
The American Air Force offers some bitching ideas on how you can make your mark in the world!
Shut Up. Be Happy.
Your neighborhood watch officer will be by to collect urine samples in the morning. Jello Biafra
with a timely announcement. Image by Winston Smith
The War Machine
Just how mechanical is our culture and its industry of war? Click here
to see artist Deven Langston's award-winning interactive animation The War Machine
To the Glory of a Nation
It's essential that we continue building powerful monuments to our greatest leaders. History demands that their triumphs are never forgotten.
is one artist that knows his duty. He has created a grand proposal for a monument he calls 2nd Labor of Dick Cheney
, and we can only pray for its full funding and construction. Click here
for a stirring video of the prototype.
"When one is in prison, the most important thing is the door."
(Robert Bresson, French Filmmaker)
PARIS BEGINS IT ALL
banksy, hilton, celebrity, fakery, guerilla art, profound vacancy, destroy
UPON TAKING THE PHOTOGRAPHS BACK OUT
blue, blue, blue, blue sky, september 11th
WE AS HUMANS
robots, camel racing, child slaves, starvation, sport, robot jockeys, sheikhs
THE HUMAN FORM DIVINE
william blake, leduff, storyteller, detroit, charon, body snatcher, 14 bucks
THAT WHICH OFFENDS
michael dickinson, rude, madman, torture, eggs, bush, photomontage
LIBERTY OR DEATH
patrick henry, gabriel, slaves, rebellion, how awkward, freedom, death
CHILDREN'S GUIDE TO TERRORISM archie campbell,
warning to children, arabian, delight
THE GLORY OF ART
warhol, commodity, south africa, death and water, creativity, merry-go-round
SEND IN THE CLOWNS
mughal emperor, saira wasim, pakistan, buffoon, boys, politics, missiles
AS IF WE COUNT
obvious & obscene, the dead unheard, civilian toll, counting, who? who?
THE MARVEL OF THE TASER
glorious invention, small problems, library, confronting brutality
THE FACE OF HUMANITY
glory, mars, civilization, human marvel, sacred image, timeless message
BEHOLD THE LIGHT
thomas kinkade, serenity, inoffensive images, million dollar industry, kitsch, piss
THAT WHICH IS REPEATED
hiroshima, debate, civilians, annihilation, history class, patriotism, bomb drop
GESTURE, MOVEMENT, ACTION body, signal, raw, performance art, action, motive, irrational event
THAT WHICH IS SUBVERSIVE radical, souls & chumps, FBI, Jimmy Stewart, secret bond, lost world, human value
THE SPORTING LIFE
noble tradition, child abuse, nuisance, something good, mighty princes
WHOLE LOT SAFER
mission accomplished, dead Saddam, bad people, vigilance, rutabaga!
THAT WHICH DOESN'T EXIST madmen, pieta, diego rivera, rockefeller, lenin, robot beggar, erasure
GIFTS FROM THE GODS Limbaugh, healing words, incredible offer, angels, commies, warrior, O'Reilly
ART AND THE TOILET advertising, fantastic tale, soft and superior, Mona Lisa, civilized ass
WHEN RODNEY KING MADE A SPEECH brutal beating, riot, ignorance, eloquence, ridicule, we're all stuck
BURDEN OF IMAGES
Lee Miller, fashion, photographer, war, annihilation, cooking
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND hiding war images, civilian death, military coffin, surreal, shaming
THAT WHICH BLIGHTS THE CITY contamination, public work, illegal art, madman's ravings, abomination
WRITER AS HERO
Mr. Vonnegut has left
the room and may not
be back shortly
THAT WHICH ENTERTAINS
torture, Battle of Algiers, dark ages, filmmaker, 24, agony and amusement
THE MEASURE OF WOMEN
body, size, control, fear, engineering, dolls, violence, war, length of history
THE WALLS OF THE WORLD
creatures, murals, opening skins, struggle, dream, dolls, violence, Blu
THE MOST POSITIVE MAN IN THE WORLD boy, war, hunger, trek, fear, lions, art, new world, Awer Bul
VISION OF THE DIVINE
dark mysteries, dream visions, avatar, courage, clarity, guiding muse
THE NEXT GREAT SPECIES
changing planet, chemicals, consumption, cell phone, kingdom of the cockroach
oil industry, cataclysm, transformation, new fuel, janitor, bright future
GO FUCK YOURSELF MR. CHENEY crucial message, Dr. Marble, decency, FCC, boobies, achievement
THE DAILY DRIVE
Iraq, checkpoints, panic, broken, familiar, tedium, fear, mistakes, humor
THE COMPASSIONATE SOUL caring Americans, injustice, Mother Teresa, women, benefactor
WONDERFUL ANIMATION FOR AMERICAN CHILDREN terror, animation, evil, souls, patriot, inspiring
AS IF HUMAN
Hirst, skull, profit, homeless, Eqbal, dignity, portraits, street stories,
OUR FRIEND IS DEAD
stopping to move forward, endless mystery, foolishness & wisdom
THE OLD DOG BEGINS TO BITE Botero, enormous, mythic, Columbia, pleasant, murder, prison, memory
OUR STRANGE DREAMS aching manifestations, desires, justice, brazen truth, book 'em Danno
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW future glory, lightning from heaven, eternal trust, always with you
THE MAN WHO MADE THE MOUSETRAP machine gun, invention, Hiram Maxim, knighthood, thanks!
THE GIFT OF THE HEART AK-47, Valentine, sweet Kalashnikov, sacred and cheap, kiss, true love
OUR TWILIGHT ZONE
Saudi Executioner, TV talk show, insanity, modesty, brain matter, normal
THAT WHICH IS FASHIONABLE stylish, taser, objet d'art, writhing, music, pain, beauty, failure
BEHOLD THE MAN prison torture interview etchings stories catastrophe shame complicity
THE NEW WORLD garbage Texas dead zone plastics poison nature survival fittest nature!
EXCLUSIVE ADS FROM MCCAIN CAMPAIGN! Britney Hitler Lenin Manson Farrakhan Satan
THE DREAM DEPICTED Guernica decimation dream of flight aerial slaughter civilized incineration