"I am convinced that that creativity is a priori to the integrity of the universe- that life is regenerative and conformity meaningless." - R. Buckminister Fuller
Born in rural Northern California into the digital age, I relied heavily on my creativity throughout childhood while developing a relationship with multimedia for entertainment and communication; my time outside of the classroom was spent behind a camera, facing a computer, in a book, or at pencil and paper. With an early interest in math and science, I found myself drawn- to frontiers concrete and abstract. The more I relied on innovation and personal research, the more I enjoyed my subjects. My interests drifted to addressing social issues as I matured, finding that those with solutions often lacked the ability or means to properly communicate them.
It wasn’t until I was studying Political Science at UC Davis that I discovered my real love was for creation and communication: education, advocacy, outreach- the marketing of ideas through intriguing and innovative means.
Now, with over 14 years of experience in communications and design, I give businesses and organizations the resources they need to communicate their integrity to local and international audiences. I do so through concise messaging and beautiful artwork that represents the values and goals of my clients.
To me, a product, cause, or service is more than its function; we do things every day to bring us closer to our loved ones, protect each other from harm, and laugh until we hurt. We scratch away at the thick skin of the universe’s secrets to pursue our dreams and satisfy our undying curiosity. Every action we take and every person we touch brings us closer to those secrets.
I want to change the world by marketing amazing ideas via beautiful images & honest education.
Neil Ruud is Creative Director at The Centaur Group, a communications & information systems firm in Davis, California. He also acts as the Assistant Marketing Director of Senders Wines, in Northern California and Publicity Coordinator at Third Space Art Collective. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from UC Davis where he spent the much of his time working at KDVS 90.3fm as Webmaster and General Manager. When he’s not helping businesses and organizations achieve success through visual communication, he dabbles in music and experiments in the kitchen.
Here you'll find some of my work.
Let me know below if you'd like to see more of it.
An informal community group dedicated to fostering and supporting economic development and job creation within the City of Davis. dside.org
Bass Guitar composed of musical notes.
Anonymous Client, Santa Rosa, CA.
Yolo Food Bank
Feeds 25,000 people each month and
distribute 3 million pounds of food annually. yolofoodbank.org
Note: I wrote this over the summer and have recently edited it down to something a bit more digestible. Additionally, it fails to reference the ongoing protest movements in the country that have emerged since I wrote this. I never really was too happy with any of the drafts but recent events make this even more pertinent to the times. I wrote this after attending Camp Wellstone, a series of workshops on political involvement from campaign work to activism, and felt I needed to relay this message that resonated with me so strongly.
“Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King’s power is something we all seek in life. Some of us go to school to seek the power needed to start a family, others the power to feed the hungry. However, among many of my peers, I sense a fear of power. It stems from the fear of corruption and that fear discourages honest, compassionate people from pursuing power. We cannot let that fear continue to render us impotent.
Power is the ability to achieve purpose and it is best achieved by including every member of society, not by marginalizing those who disagree with you. Disenfranchisement and vote-suppression are the weapons of oppressors. The best kind of power, the most honest power, stems from the support of a community— a community that listens to each other and tries to bridge the gaps between differences. We can replace the greedy and inept ruling class by uniting around our overpowering similarities: our love of economic prosperity, happiness, and democracy. Not everyone shares the democratic values of freedom of speech or religion, but to deny those rights is to subvert democracy and prescribe a lifestyle.
We founded this nation so that we may pursue happiness, but without power, we cannot achieve that goal. Fueled by cynicism and alienation, we have surrendered our right to power to the narcissistic and exploitative. We have gained nothing but increasingly inept elected officials who serve their biggest campaign donors. We shy from responsibility and suffer immensely at the hands of politicians we distrust and abhor. Believing that power should not be sought by the pure of heart forfeits that power to those that seek self-benefit above all else.
Humble does not mean silent, rational does not mean dispassionate, and respectful does not mean capitulating. There is a power that lays dormant in our communities, a power that is both good and benevolent— not only because its purpose is benevolent, but because it belongs collectively to all of us. It is a power that is fueled by the consensus and compassion of people, not the strength of their arms or the depths of their coffers. Those who worry about power’s corruptive influence are the very same people who should seek to wield it. Those who understand what happens to one of us, affects all of us— those who care for the well-being of all should use their inherent power to empower their family and peers.
This nation was founded on the fragmentation of power across all the various factions that make up our society. If you are frustrated by the conditions around you and seek to change them, you cannot afford to retreat from opportunity or avoid power. Whether or not you believe the answer is more or less government, the corporatist agenda of the current government will continue to reign unless we rise up as a community of diverse interests and seize the reigns. The malevolent actors in society have had a monopoly on power for too long and it’s time we break up the power structures in this country. Conventional wisdom is a weapon for those who wish to maintain the status quo and we must seek new solutions to our problems.
We must not consolidate our power as we have, but demand it for all. We are handing power to those who should not wield it by shying away from it.
Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.
Previous generations berate us for the sense of entitlement that they imbued. Everyone wants the best for their children but years of “everyone is special” has taken its toll. Raised in the age of abundance and materialism, we grew to value money and expect the same resources to be available to us that were to our parents. Now, education is increasingly unavailable to those that need it and I see more and more people resigning themselves to careers, or lack thereof, that they won’t be particularly interested in just because they need to pay the bills. Valuing work and achievement is a rarity in my generation. As a society, we do not value our highest achievers, but our wealthiest financial manipulators.
To some ends, the pursuit of money is not inherently soulless but the lack of fungible capital is starting to take its toll on our generation. We cannot find the work that will allow us to participate in this consumer economy. Supply-side economics has caused a trickle down of capital, but a coagulation at the top. The rich run this country and now your money now matters more than your vote.
We grow up praising civil disobedience a la Gandhi and Martin Luther King and scolding burger flippers. As we grow up, we are chastised for our civil disobedience and told not to complain about the lack of opportunities. We grew up being taught a lie, maybe it was a mistake, but we’re slowly realizing the truth and we’re very, very angry.
“Frustrated” is the word President Obama has thrown around when describing the social unrest in the country but when I see what the ruling class of this country is doing to us, I get sick to my stomach. They’re taking our money via taxes and manipulative laws that funnel our resources into the upper classes. The wealthy have more legal protections than the poor and as our economy contracts, we continue to cut from the bottom so that the top can preserve their lifestyle despite their mistakes. We’re not frustrated Mr. Obama, we’re furious.
I’m not advocating “class warfare,” we need to end the war on the poor and middle classes. To reverse this trend we have to get the money out of politics, reinvest in our intellectual and economic infrastructure, defund the military, and get rid tax cuts we cannot afford. You also have power, you can move your money to a local credit union, the only financial instituions investing in our country right now. The Big Four (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi Group, and Wells Fargo) are unwilling to do the hard work we must because they are too big to focus on smaller investments in small business and scared of uncertainty in the market. The government’s not going to break up the big banks so we must.
We can’t afford to be so worried about losing the next election that we lose the battles we owe to the next generation. The real gamble in this election is playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expecting a different result. And that’s a risk we can’t take.
Democrats and Republicans both screwed us over. Democrats, impotent and cowardly, lack the firepower and willingness to take on the establishment. Republicans are merely interested in preserving the existing power and wealth structure. We have to get rid of them both and it is an uphill battle for both liberals and conservatives, we’re facing the most wealthy and powerful group of individuals in the world. Neither group is interested in small or responsible government. Neither group is interested in reinvestment where it’s needed. Vote third party if you can this coming election, I know I will. Don’t let the establishment co-opt your hope and fury. Seek new candidates, new solutions, new bureaucrats. We cannot continue to elect politicians that are paralyzed by fear.
We must seek to be powerful because all too commonly, those who shy away from power are those that should wield it. Powered by our furious hope, we must usher in a new age of democracy in this country, as free as possible from the influence of money. For 200 years we have been whittling away at Party Bosses, disenfranchisement, and socio-economic barriers- we cannot give up now, we’ve been losing the battle against plutocracy the last 12 years and just look at the damage. We are disenfranchised in the political system as it exists today.
I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be! We know things are bad – worse than bad, They’re crazy! It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone!’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone! I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad! You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!” So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now, and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!
Dylan Ratigan is my new favorite talking head. The above video is the closest I’ve seen anyone get to articulating not only what is wrong with this country, but how to start fixing it.
While these institutions are not inherently evil, we have removed or blocked the kind of laws that prevent malicious exploitation. This deregulation has all happened in the name of free markets but much of this deregulation is a backhanded attack on competition from the top down.
We do not live in a mixed-market or capitalist system. We live in a corporate welfare, where wealth is protected and not proliferated as it should. Be it through taxation or investment, stagnant wealth doesn’t do anyone but the 1% any good.
Our economic policy is not pro-business, it is an assault on the middle class on behalf of the wealthiest individuals in this country. Sure, the GDP looks great and inflation is down but every other economic indicator in this country reads depression.
It’s time to end the policies crafted by our GDP fetish and replace them with laws that recognize the complexities of the world we live in and the needs of every person on this planet.
We are in the midst of the greatest political debate of our lifetimes. Right now we are debating the various responsibilities of individuals in society; how exactly we are going to continue this human business of creating, loving, and exploring.
The big myth fueling the ruling class is that there are people that pulled themselves up by their boot straps— that there are individuals in the world that rose to their position of opulence without the support of anonymous strangers or the government.
The truth is, everyone of any wealth today owes it to society. It is impossible to achieve material success without interacting with millions of people that also benefit from hundreds of infrastructure projects and entitlement programs.
Many Americans are being asked to re-elect a congress that wants to raise taxes on the poor and middle classes even after pledging to never raise taxes. Today, the Grand Old Party is an underhanded attempt to continue siphoning the resources of the hardworking people of the United States into the upper class. After years of a pro-corporate agenda and supply-side economics, the average American has seen no benefit. All of the wealth created for the lower classes has disappeared while CEOs and executives are receiving record bonuses on Wall Street.
Yes, there is a lot of waste in the government right now but it’s not the entitlement, education, or infrastructure programs. It is the two wars wars we tried to pay for with tax cuts. It is the billions of dollars in tax loopholes for corporations reporting record profits. It is the increase in no-bid government contracts. It is the lack of investment in our future. The United States has turned into an entity that funnels the entire country’s resources into the coffers of the rich, including the government’s ailing revenue. Now is the time to end corporate socialism.
The GDP fetishization of American economists has caused enough damage to our economy. Between 1967 and 2008 the 90th percentile’s household income rose by about 63% and the median household’s income rose by about 25%, and the 10th percentile’s household income rose by about 33%. Unemployment has also been over 8.9% nationally since April 2009 and in states like California has been over 11.7% since July of 2009.
For a market to work buyers need to not only have buying power but use it. Today, the middle and lower classes have no buying power and employers are not buying labor. Supply side economics has failed, the trickle down never happened. There is now a coagulation of wealth in the top earners of society and just like any fat-clogged artery, we’re having some serious side effects.
Our schools are underperforming, our infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating, our health is declining, our social security system is on the path to bankruptcy, and many other vital federal programs are caught in a daily struggle for survival.
More of the same is not the answer. We’re seeing the same problems we saw in the 80’s exacerbated to a point where today we live with the daily threat of another global economic meltdown. We need reinvestment. We need an infusion of capital into areas that will promote widespread economic growth. We need to invest in our future, something corporate welfare cannot do for us. We need to ask multi-billionaires to help pay for the agency that makes sure their private jets don’t crash into each other.
Break up the banks, revoke corporate personhood, get money out of politics, stop the wars, make the rich pay their fair share— society has already rewarded them enough. It’s time to start thinking about what kind of country we want our kids to grow up in and stop caring about upgrading our flatscreens or getting that second commuter truck.
I have tasted the best waffle in the universe. It was presented simply as the “daily waffle” at the Guerilla Café in Berkeley, CA but commanded my taste buds like no “daily” waffle once I bit into the beast of a breakfast delivered to my table. After the first bite into the circular, “coconut pecan” decadence, I knew that an awesome journey was under way.
The trip started on the outskirts of a consistently textured and complete flavor unmatched by even the best of home recipes. The flavor quickly occupied a greater swath of my palette and as I began to climb, eventually summiting the mountain of fresh fruit and creme fraiche, I realized I was eating the best waffle in existence. There may be other waffles like it, but this one was mine and it was my first true love in the realm of breakfast foods.
Let me put it this way: I’m not typically a fan of breakfast foods, I find they pale in comparison to the savory and complex flavors of the dishes commonly reserved for lunch and dinner; most restaurants are useless to me prior to the lofty 11am wake up time for food. Some breakfast joints break the mold and pull ahead of the pack, like East West Cafe in Santa Rosa, but that’s a story for another day.
I usually don’t let ambience weigh too heavily on my meal, but the style was sleek and modern, something I always appreciate. The café was clean and simple allowing me to focus on the plethora of awesomeness in my mouth.
(pictured is a waffle I ate after the initial waffle and it had bits of toffee in it but had bananas and creme (?) and that kind of ruined it a ‘lil)
In the end, if I had to pick a breakfast for my last day on earth, this waffle would be a part of it.
I have to take a moment here and warn you about something very disturbing. There is a dangerous trend taking this country by storm and I didn’t notice it until going to IHOP a few days ago; Restaurants are sneaking bacon into everything we eat. I don’t mean that they’re putting it in everything that we eat, they’ve been doing that for years. Now they’re sneaking it into our food. We must take a stand against unwarranted bacon.
It all started a number of years ago with the introduction of the bacon burger. While I personally am not too fond of bacon burgers, they do not hide the bacon. The bacon is visible and in the name. It makes it easy to control the bacon content of your meal. This is what democracy looks like, transparency: a choice to bacon or not to bacon.
Instead evil corporate food conglomerates want to take that freedom away from us. They want America to be a bacommunist dystopia. For example, IHOP no longer offers beef burgers. Instead they offer Bacon ‘N Beef patties with no all beef alternative, despite offering it on the menu. IHOP offers you the illusion of democracy and covers it up with the comfort of bacon.
Bacon can be good and enjoyable, when it’s a choice. I got a grilled chicken sub at Jack in the Box before working a 3am shift at KDVS. Upon arriving at KDVS and biting into my sandwich, a few bites in I noticed an odd taste. BACON IN MY CHICKEN SANDWICH. WHY!? IT WASN’T LIKE THAT ON THE MENU!? DO I HAVE TO OPEN MY SANDWICHES NOW AND CHECK FOR IMPROVISED BACON DEVICES!?
Don’t get me wrong, I like bacon and as a former vegetarian I really like bacon. I dislike the cheap bacon you find at IHOP and Jack in the Box. It’s all about DIY bacon like the kind you wake up to Christmas morning now that you’re old enough that you sleep in past your parents.
Sinclair Lewis was wrong when he famously said “When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in bacon.
Are you eating a bag of Zapp’s Limited Edition Spicy Creole Tomato Potato Chips Spiked with Tabasco Pepper Sauce?
NO!? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!? Go to Nugget (or somewhere else) and buy that bag and stuff your chip-hole right now!
All joking aside, they’re good. Let me explain:
Earlier today when I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by all that happens in the crazy death spiral that is the end of Winter (finals, term papers, work, impending KDVS fundraiser and all the personal bits), I decided to go around the block for a Nugget sandwich.
The last few times I’ve purchased my favorite build-my-own-sandwich configuration (I’ll have to explain that vegetarian slice of heaven another time) I’ve seen several enticing bags of ZLESPCTPCSwTPS. I’d picked them up once before and ultimately decided against buying them because, despite the impression this blog may give you, I’m not much of a chip fan. Maybe there’s just something I like about red and green colored food or maybe I was just desperately looking for a distraction from my real problems but this time I picked the bag up and decided to try them out. Like my friend Tyler once wisely quipped, “If you pick them up twice, you’ve already made your decision.” Additionally, as the predictably friendly Nugget employee finished making my sandwich he asked me to give him my honest thoughts on how they faired against my palette as he had not tried them yet either (DESPITE WORKING THERE!? HOW DID HE MISS THE CHIP!?). Then my roommate suggested I review these chips on this blog. I had to get them now, there was no going back from there. I would never recover from the social stigma of backing down from a bag of ZLESPCTPCSwTPS.
As my curiosity piqued on the short walk back to my house, I opened the bag of ZLESPCTPCSwTPS and threw the first morsel of sweet and sour goodness onto my unsuspecting taste buds. It was an explosion of almost Asian-like seasoning that bordered somewhere between BBQ sauce and a sweet and sour dish from your favorite local, greasy Chinese take-out restaurant. Unlike the Pico De Gallo Chips from Saulsita’s, these were full of flavor from the get-go and had me addicted after the first caloric transgression.
So the next time you’re craving some sweet and sour something-or-other or you are unprepared for a heavy Chinese dish, just grab a bag of Zapp’s Limited Edition Spicy Creole Tomato Potato Chips Spiked with Tabasco Pepper Sauce. They are sure to satiate your mildly spicy, not-yet-ready-for-a-full-meal cravings. And hey, they’re not bad with a Nugget Sandwich either.