About Me

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I am a dedicated and ambitious aspiring freelance journalist, blogger, and writer. My main asset is my international background - I was born in Germany, then moved to France, and proceeded to grow up in China - and the cultural open-mindedness inherent to such a life story. I specialize in opinion pieces, but am also well-versed in travel/event reporting, and writing general news stories. I blog regularly on my two pages, and have contributed to multiple online publications, including Gonzo Today, a web page dedicated to Hunter S. Thompson's "gonzo" journalism and his legacy. If you have any writing needs, I am the right person to talk to! I will be able to match the tone and style you desire, will work overtime to make you happy, and will deliver high quality content. You can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn as "Mark Linnhoefer", and on Twitter as "@markalinnhoefer". For work proposals please feel free to use the contact form on either of my blogs!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Drugging the creative people

has been a convenient way for oppressive regimes to keep freethinkers at bay for a few hundred years now, by simply calling them "mentally unfit", pumping them full of harmful medication, and locking them up with actual lunatics in insane asylums, with the sole purpose of maintaining their "social stability" and doing away with dissidents. It has happened in Soviet Russia and the Third Reich, and is probably happening in the US to some extent as well.

Goddamn, I just can't get focused enough right now, can't get my energy up to actually get any in depth writing done at the moment, which is why I have to take a break from all meaningful writing for a second and just ramble around a bit before getting back to topic, which I will, I promise. I'm just really tired from an entire day of writing, smoking, and watching TV. I think I might go and get a beer or two in order to get my creative flow going again. I'm at a huge turning point in my life that requires me to work more and more, but also to get more immersed in my writing, which is proving to be immensely tiring. I am currently watching the fourth (or fifth, I'm not sure) movie of the 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' series, eating, and getting annoyed at the lack of smoke-able material in my vicinity, which is an all in all crappy set-up for sleep. But I'm not remotely in the mood for an all-night writing and eating debacle, and will therefore lie down and at least try to get some sleep.

...and I am awake again. Trying to sleep apparently did the trick this time, which is not as normal as it may sound, seeing as usually, when I try to sleep my brain really gets going and keeps me from sleeping for at least a couple of hours. But this time, I actually slept until the next morning right away, which is pretty awesome. And now, replenished and full of energy, I will get back to topic.

What I was getting at is the way that those in power - at least those knowing that they are solely there for dubious reasons and harsh oppression that is - are using alleged mental illnesses and their treatment to keep those criticizing them silent and obedient, which is in itself such a morally fucked up thing to do. Broadening the definition of such illnesses to make room for those they want voiceless whilst taking the seriousness out of the sickness for those actually afflicted. Like the DSM-5 definition of the Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which reads like a blueprint to do away with troublemakers. There are, as always, people actually affected by this disorder that probably really do need treatment, but then again there are also those reasonably defiant that could just be dealt with by saying they have ODD and forcing so much pharmaceuticals into their bodies that they have no choice anymore but to blindly follow the masses. Shit, I probably fulfill a lot of the criteria used to diagnose said illness. Ha. Maybe my next visit to a doctor will now land me in an asylum, and I'll go down in history as "that crazy guy who thought that mental sickness is used to keep people voiceless". Let it be noted for the record then, that I'm a hundred percent sure that I qualify for some psychological condition, but am equally sure that I am not impaired in my coherent lines of thought, and that the only reason for which I could possibly be locked up with actual lunatics is dissidence. And I know that that might seem very far-fetched - it actually does to me too - but unfortunately it is not as unlikely as it seems. There are people all over the world now rotting in cells that probably deemed that possibility equally absurd before it happened to them. It's hard to imagine really; you know you're sane, and you're put away with people also claiming to be, which you know they are not, but have no real way of proving the truthfulness of your claim over theirs... well... if you weren't insane prior to getting there, you will be after you've spent a bit of time in that kind of environment. Seriously, just thinking about it makes the manic streak in me quiver with eagerness to manifest itself. This certainly is a conundrum. How can we know who is institutionalized because of an actual illness, and who is just made out to be sick in order to be kept quiet? We cannot really, because there is a stigma inherent to our definition and treatment of those mentally ill that doesn't allow for an actual differentiation, which makes it easy for the pharmaceutical lobby - that works closely with the government (they spend about 800 million dollars on their lobbying and campaign financing... this and this confirm it)- to introduce medication and definitions for illnesses that do not necessarily aim at helping those afflicted by mental problems but rather at identifying and quietly disposing of any 'troublemakers'. Said lobbying and influence Big Pharma does and has in Washington are also the reason that efforts for legalizing weed have been yielding only meager results so far. But change is coming on despites their million-dollar campaigns, because the people are realizing the potential that the wonderful green herb has to offer, and if the government doesn't give in at some point they won't be able to keep the illusion of a people-ruled democracy up for much longer. But before I get lost in anti-prohibition ramblings again, I'll just put a stop to this post, I reckon I've made all the points I wanted to make when I started working on this mess.

Hm. Maybe there is one more aspect that needs highlighting after all, namely that of the common misconception that pharma industries are interested in curing you, because that's what their least priority is. After all, if you cure an illness, it's gone, and the patient won't need to come back; if you only treat the symptoms of an illness however, you can keep the patient on medication forever and force him to spend tons and tons of money on it. Plus there's always some side-effect to their poisonous little pills, which can of course be treated by yet another medicament. It's a vicious circle, really. Plus there have been reports of people that actually had cancerous cells in them, but never knew about it, and so didn't suffer from the disease; you heard that right, these people just did not get sick albeit technically having cancer. Same thing with AIDS. Our mind seems to be the main cause for our sickness, and if it never knows of a disease, the likelihood of that disease breaking out is close to zero. At least that's what I like to think, and there are some cases seemingly confirming this. What I am getting at with this tangent is that we're creating a society of over-medicated zombies, either on some prescription drugs to "make them normal again" or on some other prescription pills to "help with their disease". Both of which are of course necessary in some cases, but are clearly much too prevalent in society to still be exclusive to those needing them. We're being fooled here, and cannot possibly know to what extent, which is pretty fucked up to say the least. So, steer clear of medication unless you're sure you need it would be the main point to take away here. And now on to some good music. Selah.

Vance Joy - Riptide
-> I immensely enjoy this song. The guitar playing, the guy's angelic voice, the catchy chorus, and the sing-along melody just make this tune what I call a 'good-mood song', simply because it's one of those songs that just make you smile for no apparent reason, and that is pretty damn awesome. Plus the guy himself seems pretty laid back, you might want to check out the "Tram Sessions" version of this track; he sits down in a tram, and just starts playing this song on a ukulele, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me. Anyway, great song, cool guy, so... Enjoy!

Eagles - Hotel California

-> Classic, well-known song that I somehow forgot to put on here so far, which is why it's here now. It's a great tune about the flip side of the American Dream, and the greed and decadence in the music industry, which are topics I really enjoy to begin with, and they were realized extremely well in these lyrics, plus are accompanied by really awesome music, which makes for an all in all amazing track, so... Enjoy!

Jamal - Keep It Real

-> Here's an amazing track back from '95, when Hip Hop was still good. The album Last Chance, No Breaks on which this gem appeared was produce in cooperation with Erick Sermon from Def Squad, which is pretty awesome! This track is just really awesome and describes what rap nowadays lacks so much: the realness. And I'm not even one of those people that expect rappers to have eaten dirt half their lives before joining a gang by means of a bloody initiation ceremony prior to rapping. I just want those fake-ass bitches claiming to be hardcore to stop doing that, because it deludes the whole genre; if everyone's a gangster, no one really is. Anyway, awesome track, great MC, Enjoy!

Masta Ace - Born To Roll
-> Do I really need to say anything about this masterpiece? Masta Ace in his best form, way back in 1994, with awesome and funny lyrics on a classic-ass beat. Just pure genius! Masta Ace has been there from the very start along with the big names like Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, KRS-One, Rakime, and the like, and is as far as I've noticed way too underappreciated and sometimes even overlooked, which I cannot understand because he is a fucking genius! Anyway. Legendary MC, awesome beat, and great lyrics... Enjoy!

Passenger - Let Her Go (Kygo Remix)

-> Let me start by saying that I have no idea what this genre is called. It sounds like very chill deep house to me, but I could be completely off with this. Anyhow. This is a great, extremely relaxing remix of the rather melancholic Passenger song, and it is one of the few remixes I actually prefer over the original, simply because it has this calmness in it that makes me want to lie down at a beach and enjoy the sunset, whereas the original song makes me want to slit my throat, figuratively speaking. But well, this version is really chill, so... Enjoy!

Flume - What You Need

-> I've featured Flume on here a number of times already, and will keep on doing so because I fucking love what they do. It's somewhat of a new genre I think, I'd classify it as grimy chill trap or something like that, but I once again might be completely off with that definition. Anyhow, this is a grand piece of musical awesomeness, the vocals, and this tangy string instrument coupled with the chill, drawn-out bass is a treat for any ear trained to appreciate good music. Great artist, awesome tune, Enjoy!

Well, this post is actually appearing within a reasonable time frame and is of adequate length; I must say I'm a little proud of myself in light of my continued work for Bassmania, my new freelance position at Gonzo Today, where I have already submitted three articles successfully so far, and of course my new blog on which I try and post quite regularly too. I'm all in all swamped in much voluntary writing work, and was therefore quite sure I wouldn't make my two week deadline, but I did. 
So, I hope you've enjoyed this post, and of course the selection of songs, which I think is especially nice today.


Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 already?

The year 2014 really flew by, didn't it? It seems like I barely read the words "January 1st, 2014" on the screen of my mobile phone, and all of a sudden I am back in Amsterdam celebrating the New Year 2015. 

And what a fucked up year 2014 was. We saw the outright demise of all things most of us used to take for granted, except of course those willing to question what they saw, because they had known all along; the CIA torture report, the NSA scandal, the rise of the originally US-financed ISIS, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. The fall of capitalism, the undermining of citizens' rights, excessive police brutality, fracking, free-trade agreements, increased fascism, Ebola, the revival of the Cold War, and of course the ever-lasting greed of mankind slowly propelling a small number of psychopaths into power whilst oppressing the rest of us.

Ha. It seems like the developments of this year literally force me to rehash the same old topics again and again. It's just getting worse. I have heard so many stupid utterances by unreasonably powerful people this year that I see no way things are going to stay the way they are for much longer. We're on a slippery slope, heading straight to hell. People are getting pissed off at a system that is slowly beginning to show its rotten true face, slowly beginning to show that it is no longer upholding the values it was created to protect, slowly beginning to show that it is made up of greed, corruption, and egomania. Which is nothing new to a lot of people, but unfortunately not enough people feel the need to bring on changes. Of course there are protests and riots all around the globe, but they're always dismissed by force or rhetoric and therefore those who used to be in power remain in power, and the damn population still votes for those retarded fucks. I simply don't get how a majority of the people can actually vote for those that have proven again and again to be unable to represent the voters' will. And I'm not even talking about Obama here, he has done a few very good and a few very bad things, but the actual issue is the whole Democrat/Republican debacle; neither of them have remotely done what they claim to stand for. It's time to find an alternative. Same thing for Germany; the Christian-Democratic-Union coupled with so-called German-Social-Democratic-Party (they somehow forgot to include the whole "social" and "democracy" part in their political policy) have been in power way too long, and the other parties don't really show any differences in their program either, so we're in somewhat of a rut. I can't emphasize the importance of change once again here. 
But that's of course not remotely everything; we also saw the rise of a couple of cruel terrorist organizations (Hamas and ISIS), that both used to be US-financed, but then went rogue and started attacking America with its own weapons. Which has happened quite a number of times, and could have taught the US government long ago that funding renegade movements usually does not yield the results that they hope for, but apparently they're too stubborn to learn from their mistakes.
Furthermore, we saw Russia being turned into the root of all evil once again by smart propaganda. I don't want to glorify Russia here, they have done some questionable up to downright horrific things in their time, and have some very conservative laws that do not really seem to fit in our time anymore, but they are not the main aggressor in the newest scenarios unfolding in Eastern Europe at the time. The NATO expansion to the East has been going on for a few decades now despite many critical voices from within the US government, and poking a sleeping bear with a stick will eventually get it to react. Russia reacted by "taking back" Crimea by means of a democratic referendum, which then sparked multiple movements also wanting to join Russia. And then the US just installed a new "democratic" government in Ukraine, of which some ministers are openly affiliated with major Nazi parties and networks! And now Europe is being entangled in some economic sanctioning scheme directed at the Russians, which is just stupid strategically. An alliance between Europe and Russia would be much more viable for both parties than a European-American partnership could ever hope to be. But thanks to Europe's head being so far up America's ass, we're facing a new Cold War that might actually turn hot this time, seeing as the propaganda is much more elaborate and the fronts are more hardened than ever.
Oh, and let's not forget the past few months which saw multiple unarmed African-Americans get shot, including a twelve year old child, by police men. For some cases the reports are obviously unclear, and I am not one to just generalize an entire group of people, but these cases show that racism is still much more present within the American everyday life than one would believe possible in the 21st century, and that it is an issue that still needs to be evaluated over and over. The war on drugs is partially responsible for this as well, mind you. There are less African-American than Caucasian drug users, yet there are more African-Americans rotting in jail cells for drug-related offenses. The profiling used by the DEA is clearly racist, and gives police an easy excuse to target ethnic minorities for strip searches, which obviously leads to those minorities feeling mistreated and unrepresented by those that should protect them and their rights, and that is something that cannot possibly stand! All citizens have to feel that all governmental organs are serving and protecting them, not just a few, otherwise the entire system of democracy and freedom doesn't mean shit.
And finally, we also saw the Ebola virus cripple West Africa, and we saw just how short the attention span of the media is when it comes to an actual crisis. Ebola was in the news for a couple of months at best, and all of a sudden it disappeared. Not from Africa mind you, the people there are still suffering, and there are still people there trying to help, and funds are hopefully still going there too, but the media's attention just switched to more violent and sensational stories and completely started ignoring the virus it made out to be the "biggest epidemic of modern time" just a few months ago. It's ridiculous, really. And then those damn tunes that are made to "help" the affected regions by donating part of the profits to charity. I mean I don't disagree with the essence of these actions, but if you want to help the people, then just donate to some medical NGOs instead of buying a fucking song which will also make some musicians, producers, and label bosses even richer. The whole thing is just perfect promotion: crappy singers are selling millions because they appear in such songs, which is why these tunes are in themselves corrupted and used by those people to gain more fame than they deserve, and that is just pathetic. So yes to helping those regions crippled by Ebola, and no to phony charity song projects. 

But of course there were not only bad things in 2014, there were quite a few personal highlights, and a few global things went quite well too. For example, the legal status of cannabis. Things improved quite drastically last year, and I am sure they will skyrocket in 2015: more and more states are thinking of legalization, Uruguay and Portugal have shown that liberal drug regulations are the right way to go, and there are more and more experts in all fields speaking up for the green plant. And in Germany there are now pro-legalization ads running in a couple of hundred cinemas all over the country, right before blockbusters like "The Hobbit". It has also been a good year in terms of the overall opinion on drug use generally. People that have been sworn enemies of the dreadful plague they believe psychoactive substances to be are now speaking for a more lenient approach, because many are starting to realize that prohibition is criminalizing the wrong people and allowing the actual criminals to make billions of dollars by being the only supplier for a gargantuan market. And those wrongly criminalized are branded as, well, criminals for life, and will always be looked upon with suspicion, and furthermore receive a 'training in crime' when imprisoned seeing as they are living in a confined space with all kinds of sick people, forced to join a gang in order to survive the time there. So a friendly pothead that got caught a few times too much goes to prison and comes out a hardened criminal with new knowledge on all kinds of illegal activities and not many perspective besides a gangster's life due to his criminal record, which he only got for being thrown in jail for burning some plants and inhaling the smoke. 
But I'm getting off topic. I told myself to do less rambling in these posts, and I'll try and stick to it a bit. I was talking about the general consensus on drugs slowly drifting towards a more lenient approach that focuses on education and emancipation of drug users rather than their wrongful criminalization. We're not there yet, not by a long shot, but we're seeing the first signs, the first underground tremors of an earthquake that will eventually spawn a tsunami of reforms regarding psychoactive substances, and it's nice to finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. And of course there's always the usual suspects trying to hinder that development, but it's somewhat like Domino; once the first piece falls, all others will follow. And I don't know how long it's going to take, but I'm sure it will happen, and I guarantee that the world will be a better place for it.

Anyway. There's also some personal highlights this year that I would like to share with you: I am more and more sure of needing to get the fuck away from studying, and rather focus on finally starting to build my own career, on my own terms, and not in some goddamn company where I work so that my boss can make tons of money, just so that I can retire when I'm seventy and "enjoy" my few years of lousy retirement. Hell no. I'm thinking of signing up for an online degree in freelance journalism, expanding my blogs, work freelance, do some small jobs to make ends meet, and get back to Asia, preferably Shanghai. I can't take the European way of life. People here have so little ambition, they cannot think outside the box; it's school, study, work, marry, retire, die, and I can simply not do that! And the mentality of the population, especially Germany, is so fucking apathetic, it's unbearable! Everything is stagnating, everybody is afraid to do their own thing and take risks, all everyone wants is diplomas, jobs, security and routine, and that just pisses me the fuck off!
I wasn't born to pay bills, I was not born to work for some rich ass-wipe! I want to travel, learn, write, see things, just fucking live, and not merely exist, and seeing the people at university and all round me just existing, essentially wasting their lives on some bullshit diplomas so they can work for other people, never leave their home country (except for the obligatory trip to Majorca every year), and at some point just slowly rot on their couches living off their lousy retirement funds, really makes me sick to my stomach and drains my energy up to a point where merely existing doesn't seem all that bad anymore. Shanghai is just so much different from that, most people there are there to make their dreams come true, to live out the American Dream in its original essence, to truly live and make an impact on the world. Shanghai is where things are happening, Asia generally is, and I don't see any reason to miss out on that. I love writing, I love Shanghai, I love Asia, and I don't see why I should not at least try to tailor my life to suit these passions in a way that I can still make ends meet and live comfortably. Which is why I am seriously contemplating making some money until the end of the academic year, then leaving the rotten village I am currently living in, quitting the studies I don't enjoy anyways, and going to Shanghai on a student visa to just do my thing and try to build an existence doing what I enjoy. And if that doesn't work I can always go back to studying seeing as I have the advantage of being young. I still have a good chunk of my life ahead of me, and I've always lived by the maxim of not ever regretting not having tried something I think could enjoy, so I just need to get off my ass and finally make things happen. No more working to get a diploma, no more learning things I have absolutely no interest in, just hard work to get to my goals, and then enjoying the fruits my labor will hopefully yield. 

But I don't want to bore you with details of my plans for the future any longer. It's getting late, and I have to get up early tomorrow, so I'll just add the music in the morning and post this thing by evening. Few is really left to say, except that I wish all of you reading this a happy New Year, and I really hope that whatever you're trying to do, whatever things it is you set to accomplish, that you succeed at all of it, and that things turn out for the best. Selah.

Dilated Peoples - You can't hide, you can't run
 -> This is pure old school right here! Such an epic tune with an awesome beat and the amazing artists of Dilated Peoples filling the track with great, meaningful rap, it's hard not to love it! Plus the beat is such a neck-breaking piece of awesomeness, that, coupled with aforementioned rap, you cannot not listen when this bad boy is played, so...Enjoy!

Marco Polo feat. Masta Ace - Nostalgia
-> And here is one more track that is old school as fuck! The legendary Masta Ace together with Marco Polo and a scratched-up sampled beat that underlines the funky awesomeness of this tune simply deliver their message straight to the heart of any real Hip Hop head! And the rhyming is mind-boggling too; "People in the audience, Masta Ace the name/ I write rhymes and insert them inside your vein/ They run through your bloodstream, get inside you brain/ 'Cause I first put my name up inside the train/"! If that's not fucking awesome, I don't know what is, so... Enjoy!

Jack Johnson - Good People  
-> This is just such a true song on so many levels. Firstly, the number of people I would deem 'good' is actually receding, at least here in Central Europe, and that song expresses just that. Secondly, the good people have mostly disappeared from TV and the news, simply because yellow journalism has become the norm, and the tragic stories of murderers and rapists attract a much larger, more easily sensationalized crowd than stories of the good neighbor who helped get kitty down the tree, and so they're the ones that make the newscast. Which is sad. We shouldn't constantly be shown the bad people, because that creates a negative sentiment in the population, and that just sucks. But anyway, this is a really cool song, so... Enjoy!

Warren Zevon - Keep me in your heart for a while
-> A beautiful Warren Zevon song right here. This is the kind of timeless music that would fit at any given occasion, ranging from birthday to funeral. Zevon just has that exceptional voice and is in essence a great musician, which makes his songs so amazing! I really, really enjoy this song, it has this strangely positive vibe to it that coupled with the melancholy in the lyrics makes for an interesting ride. Enjoy!

Spag Heddy - Pastanian Express
 -&> "THIS IS PASTA", orgasm-inducing drop, melody, more pasta. That's pretty much what this pure bit of Drumstep filth has to offer, and it does not disappoint in the least! This song has an awesome melodic part, coupled with such epic drops and funny, well-used vocals! I really enjoy Spag Heddy's work, and this one is no exception! Awesome tune, great artist! Enjoy!

KDrew - Bullseye 
-> Wow! Just wow. This is one of those fucking filthy tracks that you stumble across every few months or so at best! A great melody brought on by those wobbly high-pitched notes, entangled in a maze of amazing bass and drops, fused into four minutes and ten seconds of musical awesomeness and pure energy, propelling those listening to push on and go forward! I fucking love this kind of music, this is why I always include electronic music on here! Epic track, amazing artist... Enjoy!

So, this concludes today's entry, which turned out to be a whole of a lot longer than I had expected it to be, but seeing as I think I have touched on some interesting issues it should still be manageable as readers. Oh, and you have probably seen the changes that I have made to the blog: layout and theme has been altered entirely, and I have decided to embed the actual video for the selection of songs at the end of each post, which I think will be much easier on you guys' eyes, and make the whole page more attractive to potential readers. But the entries will remain the way they always have been, I have no reason to change the way I convey my message on here entirely!
Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this post, liked today's musical selection, and that there are some things in this entry that you can take away for your own life, you know the deal...