Occupy the Pittsburgh Underdark

          The city of Pittsburgh boasts the most bridges in America – indeed, in the entire world, having recently surpassed even the canalous city of Venice, the previous record holder with 443 piered bridges, by three. The so-called Underdark of most bridges seems thick with potential occult wonders, from the Freemont Troll in Seattle, to Golden Gate’s infamous ghost-ship, the S.S. Tennessee (a bridge, incidentally, with over 1300 confirmed suicides). A Pittsburgh dwelling friend of mine recently noted: “Our bridges could use some trolls under them.” Upon reflection, I must say that I totally agree.

          The bridge is perhaps one of the darkest symbols of the desperate soul; a unifier of two otherwise moated masses of land, regardless of which, still serving as the morbid mortar pedestal from which all the most hopeless mortals fall. There’s something almost palpable in the grim catching grounds of these broken and sometimes soggy dreamers, yet it also sometimes seems like the last place left unmolested by the break-neck pace of our ever looming rat-race, in the bohemian romantic bosom of these mostly black and gold Gothic arches.

          Urban exploration becomes less and less common as we all begin to feel less and less free to explore and enjoy our environments, although such darkness has always provided various measures of liberty and support to the brave. Whether you’re bungee jumping off of the 230 foot high George Westinghouse, angling in the Mon for one of those 10ft long, 300 lb, Gator Gars, or simply scoping out the grappling hook trails, bouldering walls, and ladder nests nestled under countless other bridges, there’s a rich sub-rosa world hiding under all of these monolithic crossroads that’s just waiting for a renegade like yourself to seek it out and draw it all in.

          Today might mark the unceremonious end to the wintery occupation of Melon Park, but under our bridges, bandied about around our best bonfires, in the secret hidden chambers of the homey squats we might one day hope to haunt, there is another occupation brewing. I call upon this cities libratory sorcerers, street artists, underground party promoters, guerrilla gardeners, anarchist architects, free-runners, urban explorers, hideout deprived superheroes, labless mad scientists and the Neo-ziganist courts of occult readjustment to join me, on behalf of the last few remaining freeholds and the fading forces of the fairy moot, as we Occupy the Underdark.

          We might text brief explanations for these Underdark Occupations done through urban explorations of the 'burgh: Going Ghostbusting, C.H.U.D. Spotting, or on a Werewolf Hunt or Run, on Troll Patrol (446 to go), or seed bombing a Guerrilla Garden. On the slopes we can climb all those steep Dragon Lines to where the fires of Bandi overwhelm, and with a brave shamanism of even greater precision we'll stencil gateways into sundry realms. I’ll be in touch.

Malakimae by any Name...

          On November 17, 2009, I officially incorporated the non-profit organization that I work for today, although I had begun developing a rhetoric-based martial art as early as 2003 under a completely different name. By that point I had already obtained extensive training in Mediation, Hypnosis, Social Engineering, Taekwondo, Boxing and Kung Fu, and it was in that year that I started writing my "Malakimae Manual" (pronounced Muh-LA-ke-may, an Arabic neologism meaning 'Angel Boxing'), which would later be revised into a far less strange, and thus far more marketable, form. (You see, I also studied a great deal of more esoteric subjects as well, like Angelology, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, etc. but all of that was white washed out of what would eventually become the far less controversial "Art de Conflit" which exists today. I assume my reason for such subtly is obvious, but if not, I'll attempt to further clarify all of that bellow.)

          I went back to school to write most of it, doing honors projects and independent studies to develop a more functional taxonomy of logical fallacies than I had been presented with in my Intro to Basic Reasoning classes and to explore the physiology of mind-reading via the work of psychologists like Antonio Demasio and Paul Ekman. I even took anger management classes just for the applicable psychology. The chapter on the ethical arts took the longest to finish, and it's still pretty brief, but I probably don't need to bore you with all of these minor details.

          Before this original manual was even finished I had already begun collecting students and organizing working groups to continue my training in various related arts, and, for almost 7 years between the beginning of 2003 and the end of 2009, I openly advertised and taught the uniquely esoteric martial art of Malakimae.

          However, I rarely mention Malakimae anymore, at least not to total strangers; I do so now simply because I'm attempting to re-organize, to clarify my true goals, and decide upon new strategies and battle plans, by presenting a clear and straight-forward picture of exactly how all of this started. So, if I'm completely honest, I'd say that this really started just before my 21st birthday, when I was badly beaten in the middle of Murray Ave by two police officers. That, the lies they told in their police reports, the lawyers who told me that no one would ever believe my word over a cop's, and the long and drawn-out trip through the justice system, changed me quite a bit. It was a moral wake-up call and it led to some sobering realizations about my true place, and purpose, in the world.

          I created Malakimae out of a very real desire to create angels out of men; later another art had to be created as a front for this one, so that I didn't instantly alienate all of those countless unimaginative people who are possessed by far too rigid notions of what constitutes an "Angel." Within the modified language of my new and somewhat sanitized program, I was attempting instead to train "Private Diplomats," yet I've recently come much closer to my original mark with the apparent success of my new Superhero classes. Unfortunately, once more it would seem that the cognitive bias of functional fixedness severely limits my ability to market this new concept to anyone other than children, but I'm not complaining; at least I've finally found a market and a label that serves my original intentions.

          Please forgive my uncharacteristic lack of tact. I know I'm handing you a great deal of unrestrained "MUhuhahaha" and I hate the idea of losing your talents or interest because I've been too indelicate or indiscreet in how I've presented all of this. As I've said, I just think that it's essential that, if only occasionally, I reconnect with my original motivations and plainly express exactly what sort of changes I'm trying to make in the world, and, of course, in myself.

          What I'm trying to say is that my experiences with Malakimae have taught me the surprisingly strict need for discretion, even, if you will, dissimulation, if one wishes to win any significant degree of success in "the World" as it is currently ruled in so many places. A friend of mine recently paraphrased a relevant social commentary, originally made by a man-hating radical named Valerie Solanas, who pointed out that while most men near the bottom want to rise up and become the man on the top, all a man on, or even near, the top wants is to preserve the status quo.

         I agree completely, and I'll go even further to say that those who therefore hide, or even simply attempt to soften, their perceived threat to the status quo will meet with far less knee jerk opposition to their struggles to lift themselves, or even others, up, rising far higher than they would have if they had failed to heed such prudential wisdom; that's provided, of course, that they don't forget, as many cowards do, to attempt to rise at all.

          However things turn out, my first priority is always to maintain the day to day operation of a life where I can continue to train and educate the next generation of those who will one day be able to transcend their fears and confusions, not to mention those which have been foisted upon them, and do what's right. I don't care what I have to call them as long as they can accomplish that noble end.

          Many of you are reading this because you've been Facebooked into the Malakimae Academy's new "secret" online forums and I felt that you deserved some additional explanation. What you do from here is entirely up to you, but I do hope that you choose to stick around to be at least bear witness to what comes next. Maybe you can even be the first one on your block to become a bona fide agent of this strange secret society of angels and their alleged allies. Good Luck and Namaste.