Brooklyn Man Burns Himself Alive In Protest, Buddhist-Monk Style

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“I am David Buckel and I’ve just killed myself by fire in a protest suicide. I apologize to you for the mess.”
–suicide note left under the name of David Buckel

This was originally going to be another journal entry, but there are some singular aspects to this story which I think requires its own post.

So nationally-acclaimed LGBTQ lawyer and environmental activist David Buckel, 60, set himself on fire in the middle of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park yesterday morning at 6:30 AM. His charred yet weirdly-preserved body, lying on its back and reaching out into the sky, was found by joggers.

Next to his body he left a suicide note claiming he killed himself using a fossil fuel (I’m assuming gasoline) to protest fossil fuels and other things that hurt the environment.

This happened, relatively speaking, kind of on my front doorstep. I know the area in which he did this. I know the exact area of the park, and surrounding neighborhood, where he did this. I would not be surprised at all if in my everyday travels I had passed Buckel on the street at least several times. He looks familiar.

This act, on “first glance” about just reading public info on the man…does not seem like the work of a “standard” crazy-person. I’ve watched videos of this guy…he seemed like a normal guy who was simply passionate about the environment. I am still trying to understand how someone like that goes through the steps to calmly set themselves on fire in the middle of Prospect Park like a Buddhist monk.

And then I thought: was he triggered off by the Syria strikes the previous day? Was he just like: “nope, world is just getting shittier and shittier, gotta do something.”

The chilling thing on top of the chilling way Buckel died is that…not a lot of people seemed to care about his protest. Gauging by Twitter, there was little chatter or remark about this event; a few of the tweets that were made seemed to almost “complain” about how this event inconvenienced their sunny day at the park. Like: “ew, gross!”

One person on Twitter noted how cavalier the cops seemed to be about the event…like, I think one cop noted that they were preparing for any press coverage, but they didn’t expect a lot. Another person tweeted that hours later, the charred grass-less patch of dirt in which Buckel had died had been left without even a tarp to cover it, and that even children were starting to wander into it.

And the graphic photo of this man’s body—or the 3-D ash outline of what his body used to be—was just posted and reposted as if it was “nothing.” No big deal. Smack dab in one of the most expensive, gentrified places to live in America this guy set himself on fire in protest—but very few people seem to give a fuck.

And maybe that’s because we are collectively so jaded right now that the type of act or image that would have really impacted us 30, 40, 50 years ago—like that famous picture of the monk who set himself on fire as a war protest—barely registers as a blip.

But I cared…I was sitting at the bar like 45 minutes later after reading about this, my hand shaking. This bothered me on a visceral level. This made me question: do I even have any major unshakeable beliefs I would be so passionate about—I don’t mean passionate enough to set myself on fire, but just to dedicate my life to. To even dedicate myself to in a non-cynical way.

And then later, like the next day…somebody on a message board questioned the details of the story. Just basic things like…how did nobody see Buckel do this? Usually, these protests are done in places where people actively are, to witness it. What are all the facts in this story?

And as much as I wanted to sculpt this narrative as simply “a man like a Buddhist monk did the ultimate sacrifice to wake people up”…goddammit, it’s never that simple.

Maybe this is why I can never really be a full “true believer.” Because in the final analysis I’m always like:

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Maybe this is my saving grace; or maybe this is something that makes me perpetually miserable. I don’t know.

And lastly: as we saw in the case of Iranian vegan YouTube star Nasim Aghdam…is there kind of such a negative energy currently in the world that are making these sorts of sensitive, socially-aware souls snap?

Maybe I should just embrace my Columbo-type rough-hewn warts and cynicism and shitty taste in movies and all the other dumb stuff I do. Maybe these are times in which you just need a dumb armor like that once in a while, just to get by and absorb all this crap around us. It’s like…I want to be that crusader—and I have done a lot, at least writing-wise—but I have limits.

After I read about Buckel’s suicide…after I gave serious contemplation about what I really believe in, what my life is worth, what I’m willing to sacrifice for…I just started binging Perfect Strangers on Hulu. I haven’t watched that goddamn show in like two decades, at least. But…I knew my limits. Maybe it’s a copout. But I knew my limits.

Trump, Wabbits, Witches, Will Ferrell, Alex Jones, And Other Stuff From This Nutty Week

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Rabbit Season Of The Witch continued last Saturday, as SNL’s faux-Trump got stalked by a giant human-sized rabbit only he could see…

…a day before that, Trump Tower in NYC was apparently on fire, leading to this disturbingly iconic image:

Continue reading “Trump, Wabbits, Witches, Will Ferrell, Alex Jones, And Other Stuff From This Nutty Week”

The Guru Syndrome Part 2: Tony Robbins

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I used to read and listen quite a bit to motivational speaker/success coach Tony Robbins years ago. And there’s a lot of useful advice to be had from his work. If you are feeling crappy, there are certain Robbins motivational speeches that can really pump you up.

But he recently messed up in a big way—bad, bad optics, the worst optics—and I’m reminded again of why we shouldn’t regard these people as our infallible gurus.

Continue reading “The Guru Syndrome Part 2: Tony Robbins”

Through A Facebook Darkly

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And so now we have a brand-new whistleblower—from now-disgraced data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica—who admits to being Steve Bannon’s “secret weapon” to get Donald Trump elected. This feat allegedly happened by utilizing information “harvested” from the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users.

28-year-old Christopher Wylie provided The Guardian with all the deets, risking breaking an NDA, getting sued, and being on the bad side of people like Bannon and conservative mogul Robert Mercer.

Continue reading “Through A Facebook Darkly”

We Need To Pay Attention To What We Let Into Our Head

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So I’ll start this as an update on the media fast I had attempted starting last December. I’ve still been successful avoiding the variety of what I would term manipulative and/or sensationalistic news sources that I used to read regularly. These news sources were across the ideological spectrum: left, right, and “mainstream.”

But part of the reason I’ve found it relatively easy to keep most of these sites out of my regular online diet is because they are often filled with intrusive and/or frankly disgusting ads (of the literal “here is a picture of an ass infected with parasites” variety).

It has not been so easy to avoid Twitter and Facebook trending topics, the former of which I will still definitely check multiple times a day.

Continue reading “We Need To Pay Attention To What We Let Into Our Head”

The World’s Crisis Of Evolution

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I’ve been asked with increasing regularity what is wrong with the world, and here is what I think it is at the very core:

We have a crisis of evolution.

Since the very dawn of humankind, there has always been one or two people in the Tribe who seem, inexplicably, to possess a different view than the others. An expanded view.

Continue reading “The World’s Crisis Of Evolution”