Here at Poppyc**k we have stars in our eyes and hope up our sleeve when we do what we do here. Poppyc**k is not just me writing for the sake of seeing my own words on paper or my making videos because I love the sound of my own voice. Well, let’s be honest, I do love my words and I like hearing myself talk. All punchlines aside, we are taking the tongue out of the cheek and we want to express to you what it is that drives us and what we desire from you, the Project participants.
There is a clear reason behind calling this “Project: Poppyc**k.” It’s not just that alliteration gives me tingles in my nether regions, or that “poppycock” sounds like a dirty word, but secretly it’s not. This is a project we have undertaken to see if we can truly engage an audience of like-minded individuals to come together for a slightly greater purpose than the sum of our individual worth. Don’t be fooled, we will not be some whole in the digital wall joint for long. We have larger designs and plans that are almost too grandiose to utter aloud except in a drunken stupor on some idle Wednesday when the liquid courage has seeped in to our hearts, creating delusions of a grander purpose to our literary addiction.
We hope to one day soon create a network of readers and fellow contributors that will look out for, and inspire, one another through links, written works, original content, illustrations, videos, and media spanning more than just one platform; there is still a place for books in this world. I know this all sounds very serious, and it is, but it is an endeavor not highlighted by money signs in our pupils or wringing our hands to try and take over or brainwash the masses. We desire to empower all of our readers and fans to do what we do and to embrace who they are in a hope that open and truly honest criticism of life’s more divisive (and not so divisive) subjects, to not convince anyone of something contrary to their beliefs, but to inform them of what position and viewpoint others may take with a subject. We too often surround ourselves with “yes men” and people that don’t challenge us, and an inner circle of Dodo birds and Lemmings isn’t any way to better understand the world around us and where we stand in it.
Will and I, Wesley, have talked at length on the following guiding principles for proper Poppyc**kery. We haggled over wording mostly and what I meant by a few of them since I often times overcomplicate an otherwise simple concept. With his help we have our ten principles. I will explain each one, but first just look them over and see if you can tell where we are going with these before you read the descriptions. We want your involvement here. The Facebook fan page is designed for you to engage with what you are seeing and for you to share your experiences with our content. Sharing our links, commenting on content, posting your own links that you think the audience might want to see. This is not an experience on par with television, this is a video game. You are an active participant in this world, and therefore are a participant in this endeavor whether you like it or not. The fan page is not something you like and forget about, we all have too many of those already. This is a page where you keep up to date, see posts everyday, and can be used as your own forum for content if you’d like. This is the starting point for something larger and a page and idea that maybe can become a cornerstone of your experiences through thoughtful laughter and engaging content.
Without further adieu, our 10 Principles of Proper Poppyc**kery
No Shame in Your Belief
This is a key principle that is the very foundation by which we create or content. As a child I thought as a child, when I became an adult I put childish things away. I don’t know who said it, and I’m sure I’m butchering the actual quote, but I think this is a prime example of the idea behind this principle. Growth comes through experience, which is a side effect of time. You might have been raised a Catholic, or raised in a Republican home. I know that I was raised Christian and Conservative, for the most part, and my father has his views on things. As a child you soak up this guidance since you have no pillars of your own to prop up the house of your thoughts. If your dad was a Chargers fan, then dammit you were, too.
As an adult you are now able to form your own opinion and choose whatever life view or philosophy you desire. You are autonomous and independent. As you grow and form these opinions about life, social issues, politics, and religion, then you are able to create the construct in which you live your life. It might be by biblical cannon or by a simple philosophical idea to do unto others and all that, but it needs to be yours and you need to own it. This is not to say that you should be obtuse to new information and experiences and turn ignorant to possible changes you should make in your life, but that you should instead be sure in your place in this world based in the here and now. Never apologize for your belief or be ashamed of it. Hold your head up high and do not hide how you feel. Expression and communication is the key to understanding, and though I may not agree with what you have to say, as long as you are talking then at least I know where you stand. If we can all understand where we are in relation to one another, then that is the first step to finding middle ground between us. No shame.
Filters are for Water, Censorship is for Fools
Don’t tip toe through the tulips in life. If you have an idea, express it. This is closely linked to the first principle, but I think the difference is huge. Do not filter your ideas or soften them in any way. Vulgarity has it’s place and free speech is vital to open and honest conversation. Just short of openly threatening someone’s life, you can say anything you want. This comes with a lot of responsibility, and I’m not saying shoot off at the mouth without a second thought. I am saying that it is vital to not shape your ideas or water them down for the purpose of avoiding offending someone. “You can’t say that,” “That’s offensive,” “That’s not PC,” are all example of people and society trying to truncate expression through very subtle censorship. Political correctness is society imparting social censorship on itself, disguised as civil discourse and designed mutual respect. In PC terminology, it’s not that we truly respect one another or that by using another word or phrase that there is genuine caring there. PC is about tip toeing through uncomfortable issues and making sure we are all in check, not crossing the line drawn in the sand. Know that there is no line, and that by not coming clean about what you really think makes for the kind of progress we see in Congress, which is none at all, and hitting the talking points while not actually saying what they really think and feel. You see how well that works.
If You’ve Got a Problem with It, You’d Better Have a Solution for It
This is one I learned only about a year ago. In the beginning of my writing it was finger pointing, outrage, and haymakers, with no method to my madness or science to what I was doing. Now I see that if you’re going to shit all over someone’s parade and you are going criticize in a manner that is destructive, then you’d better rebuild what you tear down with a clear idea, conclusion, or solution. It does no one any good to just sit on your high horse and call everyone else an idiot. You hear it all the time, “if you’ve got a better idea then by all means tell us.” Well, you’d better have an idea then shouldn’t you. You can’t say a course of action, philosophy, political choice, is wrong and then not offer a constructive alternative. If you’re going to demolish someone else’s house of cards, then you’d better have a full deck to rebuild it with. This is how change happens in the minds of others, and how religions flourish, because they destroy your foundation and then provide people a better alternative through their path. Genius, simple genius.
If You Can Write, You Should Write
This may seem simple enough, but it is vital that if you can, do. If you have a valid opinion and are able to articulate it in a manner that others can interpret, then by all means get a Goddamned blog started. This is something millions of people have taken and run with. Not all blogs are created equal, fair enough point, but for every hundred useless and sycophantic, ego-stroking blogs out there outlining the daily minutia of a person’s dull life, there is one that is really going to town and expressing amazing and sometimes confounding ideas that someone was thinking but was too afraid to express. If you’ve got the chops for doing this, whatever the subject matter, then by all means join our ranks and get your thoughts out there. The audience may not be in the millions, I know mine isn’t, but if you reach someone that is searching for an opinion, then you’re moving in the right direction.
Don’t Force Your Work in to Your House, Invite it in
This needs to come naturally and needs to be organic. If you take the last principle to heart then you need to embrace this one wholly. Don’t write for the sake of writing. Don’t sit down and just get something out because you haven’t posted in a while. This will all come across as disingenuous and uncomfortable. You can’t write beyond your skill level, this is a fact. You can’t fake it unless you’re plagiarizing, and that is a cardinal sin in literature. Quoting, sure. Paraphrasing, yeah. I did that earlier, but I gave credit to Anonymous. The great fear for new writers is that it won’t be a homerun and won’t be good. Well, if you stick to what you know and express yourself genuinely, then it is only a matter of time before your skills get to a level where the rubber can meet the road. Don’t be afraid to stumble. I look back on my early work and cringe, but without that organic writing and searching for my voice and how I like to write, then we wouldn’t be here. Just avoid forcing yourself to come across as some grand thinker or someone who knows more than they do. If you write from the heart and do not force words that ring false, then you’ll get to where you want to go. Write when it feels right, and think longer on it when it doesn’t, and you’ll be fine.
You Don’t Need Permission
No one needs to say it’s ok for you to do something. You don’t need a publisher, agent, millions of dollars, a crazy amount of equipment, editors, life coaches, and you certainly don’t need societal permission. We live in an age where anyone can publish a book, make an LP, record and distribute a video, start a podcast, and any other form of expression. You don’t need to wait for someone to say you’re good enough or that the market is right. You don’t need those people because technology has finally balanced with individuality and now we can all be our own rockstars. You don’t need anyone to give you the green light or the go-ahead to create what is in your heart. You want to be a painter? Then fucking paint and sell your work online, or on the street for God’s sake. You want to put out your music? Then distribute through Soundcloud, Bandcamp, iTunes, or just burn an EP on a blank CD and sell it at a local show. Shit, give it all away for free if you want, I know I give out my writing and articles on the blog for free. There is nothing stopping you from doing what you love on the side. Have an affair with your passions. You might need to make ends meet with another gig, a day job, but you can paint, sing, write, draw, fucking design clothes and jewelry, any time you feel like doing it. It is a beautiful time to be alive in this sense, because the fabric of society can express themselves in a diverse and ever changing tapestry of new and exciting mediums. If you’ve got the chops and the drive, then what the fuck are you waiting for? OK, fine, I’ll say it, YOU HAVE PERMISSION! Now, go!
When You Think You’ve Gone Too Far, You’re Almost There
There is no line. I will say it. Well, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show said it, but I’ll reiterate. There is no line to be crossed and no clearly defined taboo place that we dare not tread. No one is edgy or out there or beyond the realm of good taste. There is no line because everyone is different and everyone has a different line. As a society we have tried to define vulgarity, mature content, and even had Supreme Court ruling and decency trials to try and define the line. We have gone to great and expensive lengths in an effort to create that line and what you can and cannot say. It hasn’t worked.
In broadcast television, ok, there have been some lines drawn. Then you go to FX or AMC and you’ve got guys cooking meth and killing each other while cursing and using vulgar language. This is separate from free speech, television is not covered by this, but neither is any state or federal institution like high schools, and even colleges can censor their student papers since they can govern their own laws of decency. Here in the real world, this kind of oversight is non-existent. You can’t go too far. What might be ok for some is downright blasphemous to others. No two people are exactly the same, so if you’re one to work with envelope analogies, then I suggest you push it. Don’t shy away from going that extra step or throwing in that extra jab or punchline. Most people need a kick to the face, and if you’re going to kick, it might as well be in steel-toe boots and as hard a kick as you can muster.
Thumb Your Nose at Convention
There is no one, proper way to express yourself. There is no one, proper way to write. There is grammar, sure, but even that can be looked past for the sake of a greater idea. Kerouac is a perfect example of a man who didn’t give a damn for punctuation or how you’re “supposed” to write a book. To hell with that. One of my greatest influences, Hunter S. Thompson, turned preconceived notions of journalism and traditional reporting on it’s head with no apology for the upending. It takes a special kind of person to thumb their noses at constructs and recipes for doing their work. Look at the greatest painters and writers of the past. Look at sculptors, impressionist artists, the entire beat generation. These are people that looked at the world and saw something I could never dream of seeing with my eyes in a thousand lifetimes. They looked at the world and saw a glory and canvas that I cannot fathom. I try every day to express myself with a unique and unhindered voice, and I always fall short. In those rare occasions where I achieve just a fraction of what others had in spades, when I glimpse the shine from the edge of the brass ring, then I know I am just tugging at the threads of the cloth that made up their entire wardrobe. Don’t be deceived in to thinking that there is a set path, a recipe to follow, or a “way of doing things.” Everyone worth knowing has always tossed that aside and the world has always appreciated them more for it.
Look for Inspiration Everywhere
I am a writer and photographer, but my inspiration doesn’t just come from words and still images. I love TV, movies, music, social situations, trends in society, politics, social issues, landscapes, flowers, puzzles, video games, nature, animals, and so much more. Everything can inspire you. If you like a hip-hop artist, do you really think they only listen to hip-hop? Does a rockstar only listen to rock? Do you think a painter of post-modern art only looks at that type of work, or only appreciates that genre of expression? Do you honestly think a writer of sci-fi only reads sci-fi? We find inspiration everywhere.
I am often inspired by things people say in social gatherings. I love to hear what people have to say, because it better outlines where people are at in relation to me and my writing. I can bridge a gap better if I know how deep the ravine goes. I love music, all kinds. I listen to everything from hip-hop to delta blues and the melodious singer/songwriter genre. I will watch just about every film I can get my hands on, I’m a Netflix junkie, because these are examples of people creating entire worlds and characters and I can use the inspiration to better create the worlds in my articles and to create an interesting and fascinating platform on which I can express an idea. I am inspired by everyone from George Orwell, to HST, to Jon Stewart, and even Truman Capote. I love Kerouac and Ginsberg, Plath and Poe. I span the genres and reach out to find new things I can love and make a part of what I do, and who I am. Everything around you and anyone in your life can inspire, so be open to that inspiration and you can find that it can illuminate parts of you creatively and personally that you didn’t know you had before, in the dark reaches of your mind.
Use Humor to Coat the Hard Pill to Swallow
Make people laugh. This is incredibly important if what you are doing is criticizing. People don’t like to be yelled at or told that they are stupid, but sometimes you’ve gotta holler at dumb people. This can be accomplished through sarcasm, hyperbole, and outrageous one-liners and set-up to punchline jokes. It is important that when delivering a bitter pill, that you get people to crack a smile by pointing out the absurd and the hypocritical. Don’t make fun of the reader, don’t poke fun at a single person even, but instead poke fun at an establishment and power. No one likes to be told that they are wrong, but you need to show them that they are without saying so outrightly. This is a delicate balancing act of hitting someone with fact, figures, quotes, and examples while cutting everything up in to small pieces that they can easily swallow. A lot of people need their medicine, I feel this truly, because they have fooled themselves in to the “my way or the highway” mentality. Today people are all about the “love it or leave it” way of thinking. This is where the no-man’s-land of uncompromising principles has come from. It is all black or white, up or down, there is no middle, no grey. If you want to shine a light on injustice and destructive manners of thinking or living, to point out the dangers of giving no quarter and taking no prisoners, then you need to do it with a smirk and a tongue firmly planted in your cheek. Comedy is the best way into to someone’s mind and the best way to slowly infect it with your rhetoric.