New interview today with a member of Toronto Pig Save.
Toronto Pig Save. I feel like I’m always talking about them. Well the fact is they are constantly on my mind. They have really changed my life. Ever since I did that interview with Anita Krajnc, head of the org.
I read on Anita’s facebook page the other day something like, “Come to a vigil. It gives shy people a voice to speak out in the supermarkets”.
Well, I emailed Anita one day about something and she told me I had to interview this guy, Mark Spicoluk, who had been coming to their vigils about his experience. She said he was super smart and insightful and a former rock star. I just got the feeling there was something about this guy from what she wrote.
My hunch was confirmed when Mark wrote back to me this email I must immortalize below.
victoria. i would love to answer any questions that you might have whatsoever about my experiences at Anita’s pig vigils as well as whatever else might make people more aware of what is really taking place in our world. i just read your ‘deep vegan thoughts‘ posting and i connected so deeply with you when you said sometimes you have to double check to see if what you’ve seen is real. the deeper i go down the black hole of this issue the more i cant fathom how this is happening, but as you wrote so well that sound i hear of suffering, haunts me because it is real.
however, i will agree to do this in exchange for one thing from you, i need to know in great detail however much or little you actually know about pig island. because i must go there. i must see a place where this atrocity does not exist, i must because all i can see here is madness. i realize that i could look up the info online, but it seems like the right thing to ask of you since your post is the first i have read about such a place.
thank you for reaching out. <3
Ok. Wow. What a way to write an email. All of a sudden I was brimming with excitement and I knew whatever came out of this guy’s mouth would be great.
On further research I found out
Mark is also Canada’s most successful indie record label owner
the former bass player for Avril Lavigne and Sum41
the judge on a massively popular The Voice-like “The Next Star” TV show in Canada
and all around extremely cool person. Watch these interviews to confirm.
I learned a lot from this interview. Wish I could bold it all.
Ok here it is.
10 Questions for Mark Spicoluk, Member of Toronto Pig Save
1. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself in your own words to get us started?
my name is mark spicoluk and ive been lucky enough to live a life surrounded and engulfed by music. ive worn a lot of hats in my life from artist to television personality to corporate executive, and its taught me to try to stick to my guns and let the moment im in define myself rather than what i have done or my profession or something silly like that. however, then a moment like this appears where im asked to speak of myself and i honestly have no idea what to say that doesnt spew some silly resume of accomplishments.
so… i live in toronto.
i love my girlfriend and my dog.
i have always been an animal lover and will be for the rest of my life. its something my parents instilled in me. probably movies and books too from when i was a child. as for an activist i don’t necessarily love that word. i think animal lover says enough. as long as i am doing what i can to help that seems to be all there needs to be. i find “activist” carries an incredible weight with it, i would rather help where i can and do what i can when i can. its something i think all people should consider more: good people should do good things that they should. as for how did i get interested in animal rights… when i was 16 i bought a record by a band called Propagandhi and put on some shows for them when i was 17. their music and their lifestyle showed me that we dont have to do what others do just because its what we are told we are supposed to do… we can make conscious choices that speak towards helping to create our own individual moral fibre… which is ours to represent and wear, rather than one provided to us by others that we never actually thought about for ourselves.
so one of the choices i made up for myself, was that i gave up meat and began as a vegetarian. that was 17 years ago. that was a turning point for me… after that everything just starting bludgeoning me on the head, and the realization that the world is incredibly upside down has rarely left my mind. but its the animals my heart truly bleeds for, the voiceless ones on our earth.. and because of that they can not speak for themselves they truly are the most persecuted.
an incredibly talented and new friend of mine Jo-Anne McArthur got me to come out to one with her. She runs weanimals.org and in my opinion is a beacon for hope for our planet and for using creative talents to contribute to a greater good. she takes photos of human being’s relationships with animals- the good and the horrific. i met her after i saw an incredible movie about her called ghosts in our machine. i owe her so much for bringing me into the pig vigil fold.
4. What was your first experience with Toronto Pig Save like?
to be honest. it was very hard when i saw my first truck of pigs up close. something that my own words cannot describe because it seemed to encompass all emotions at once- negative and positive- negative because of the frustration and sadness and anger and positive for the people we are with at the vigil and the people who honk in support and the hope that exists inside a movement like that. i met so many incredible people with wonderful smiles and positive energy. there were some tears on my part, there always are, but better than that and even more powerful– there is new hope to be found at all animal rights demos.
i think bearing witness is extremely important and i wish that it was something all people would take part in, at least once. the process forces an admission to self of our participation in the horrific torture and slaughter industry going on everyday… its the admission that we are all a part of it- like it or not- because we each participate in our so called democratic society which chooses to run a huge portion of its food production industry this way and like most people we all usually try to ignore the dark side of how we conduct ourselves on this planet. silent consent is a very important thing for all people to consider. we may not lift the knife or toss the pigs sometimes still alive in the boilers… but we are a part of a society that says that’s ethically acceptable.
It’s incredibly powerful to stare into the eyes of these poor animals. you can honestly just feel the fear and suffering lingering in the stench of the trucks… but at the same time and only for a moment, as brief as the stop light we catch the trucks at, we can show these poor anguished creatures that human society can be capable of more. its not a lot and amounts to little for them specifically as they will all be tortured and slaughtered within the hour… but its a hope for all creatures that there is something to build upwards from.
after the first time i experienced this, i knew in my heart i would never look at an animal the same way, let alone the thought of the consumption of animals.
6. Out of major curiosity, what is Anita like in person?
she is one of the most committed, thoughtful, and incredibly brilliant and compassionate people i have ever met in my life and probably ever will. her strength is her greatest asset… her strength and her will.
i asked her how to cope with the negative side of animals rights once, and she told me to do ten wonderful things for animals a day and then focus on them when you go to bed each night.
there is no doubt in my mind she does more than ten.
7. You are a rockstar. First of all, what is that like and also, what do you think about celebrity status and networks being used for the greater good of animal justice.
i dont think i am. maybe i was in specific moments of life but i want to be more of a caring human than anything.
i think we all, no matter what our status is– how small or large, have an obligation to use the influence our actions carry in everything we do for good… to set an example for others to see and to think about. its simple. be the best we can be. not perfect but always try to be better. and good things will continue to grow from that. and people will see that its ok to be good and live life a certain way. it forces them to consider it for themselves.
8. In your extremely powerfully worded email to me you wrote: “the deeper i go down the black hole of this issue the more i cant fathom how this is happening”. Could you say more about why you think this issue is a black hole and what you now know that you didn’t know?
yes. the black hole is the truth and facts about what happens inside the walls of factory farms. the idea has always been accepted that animals get slaughtered. but the sheer numbers, the process, the torture, the pain, the truth… the real truth of how it happens and how profit beats back the idea that these creatures are actually sentient beings that deserve the same right to live happy as we do, yet we are the ones who consciously strip those rights from them.
factory farms get away with atrocities in their every day process because nobody wants to face what is actually going on there. they would rather believe that its a nice pill to an old pig who has lived a happy life on a farm somewhere and is going to die naturally of old age anyway. i dont think there is a humane way to slaughter… i don’t think its acceptable at all… but the fact that it goes down the way it does is pretty telling of our society.
outside of these animals torturous end, the simple fact that these animals never in their lives have received a moment of peace and non suffering is actually a black hole on its own that when thought about can leave one’s heart broken, mind numb, and voice speechless. i think the black hole analogy makes the most sense though when you think about all the things wrong surrounding this issue… once you start looking into it, you can keep exploring down any avenue in any direction and its all connected and its all very dark and all the information you can imagine is right there- images and testimonials and standards of practice and videos etc etc. but from birth to death we treat all these beings like they are already dead- from pig slaughter to cow slaughter to dairy and veal, they are all connected and all run the same way. and we all sit back and with good reason sometimes try our best to never consider how our bacon that tastes so fuckn great appeared on our plate.
the whole thing is a lot to deal with at times… and sometimes i think of the ghandi quote “the greatest of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”… and i shake my head.
9. What are your dreams about the future and what do you hope to do for animal rights?
i would like to see an end to factory farms. as a first step. if that could be accomplished then everything else will fall into place… like the first domino being pushed the first step can only be realized but us realizing as a society that we are not perfect and fixing what we know can be easily fixed.
one day i would like people to look back at us and see this time in human history and see the corner we are turning, not the heartless barbarians our society is painting us out to be.
10. Please feel free to add (or not add) anything you would like to. I would love to read it.
this is a piece i wrote the other morning and i used a quote that you put in your blog at the top of it…
– the princess bride- “Do you hear that? That is the sound of ultimate suffering.”
as i stood with my girlfriend and our pooch Prince at the gate of the dog park on wellington street a block east of strachan early this morning… we soaked in the sweet neighbourhood of quaint houses, people jogging and playing tennis, and all the dogs with their owners having a lovely time to start the day…it was shattering to realize that if we listened closely at attention to the sounds mixed in with the birds and the barks and the cars… coming from just across the street of this little toronto neighbourhood are the sounds of pain, suffering, and fear. and when you focus in on it, its deafening. its the quality meat packers slaughterhouse… and the sounds coming from within it are like nothing i have ever heard.
no matter what we want to believe, they get no soft pillow with a pill to bring the darkness slowing upon them. when i started down this path to find out what is really happening in places like those i realized it truly is the shame of our modern culture… that we all look away from it. you can hear it from across the street… the squealing and wrenching noise. but its so easy to hear birds instead.
so i dont want to talk anymore about beliefs about nutrition, or diet, or evolution, or culture, or any other debate for that matter… i just want to talk about the fact that we ALL know in our hearts… we are better than this.
its slaughterhouses like these, and there are thousands everywhere, which are government approved, publicly accepted, and swept under rugs and out of our the forefronts of our minds… its places like these that put profit over human decency. but factory farms are such a nicer way to say it.
i used to like to assume it wasn’t so bad… but it is. it really really is. and all you have to do is look for it. click a link here. watch a video or a documentary. or type a search there. or in this case just stop and quietly listen. but it takes effort and like most things its so much easier not to.
i heard the sounds this morning. and it rang in my soul. the true sounds of ultimate suffering. at 7000 a day.
we are better than this.
Wow. Thanks Mark. I loved this. There are so many gems of wisdom in this interview. Hope you guys agree.
What was your favorite part? Mine was the explanation of how bearing witness forces you to acknowledge your complicitness and also the piece at the end.