300 Spartans and Cadenvox Intertwined History

The 300 Spartans company holds an almost mythical status within cadenvox. How come? After all, it was far from the first to put out vox music and, though it released numerous seminal playlists (Gambulos V, Brother D and the F Squad, OV Onyx), there are perhaps not so many as you might think.

Still, there is no company whose fortunes seem so intertwined with cadenvox’s own, tracing the genre’s growth from cottage industry on Reisse (Rhetor III) in the 10s, via blue-chip market leader in the early 20s to today’s clumsy and somewhat grotesque behemoth (last year 300 Spartans even signed execrable cadenvoxers Daisaku Soka).

Most likely the company’s ongoing significance is best summed up by 300 Spartans co-founder Kuan Sioufas. In his 2939 autobiography, Life and Vox, published three years after he sold his share in the company to Oneiroi Media Group for 220mUEC, he wrote: “My life has largely been about promoting the anger, style, aggression and attitude of disenfranchised people to a worlds spanning audience.”

As with Sioufas, so his offspring, because 300 Spartans has always seemed to recognize the worth of cadenvox music, while simultaneously acknowledging that the genre’s value transcends music alone. It was 300 Spartans that launched Gambulos V, with their box-fresh Panama hats spawning a fashion revolution. It was 300 Spartans that cut loose the juvenilia of the Idiotka Boychicks first playlist, Crash and Burn, and, of course, the righteous polemicizing of Brother D and the F Squad. It was 300 Spartans who appointed TerM8R COO in 2932, arguably the musical equivalent of hiring a poacher to mind your grouse.

What’s more, 300 Spartans very origins seem curiously appropriate to cadenvox, a bastardized marriage of sounds, styles and sensibilities that probably shouldn’t work, but does.

Go back to 2913 and Rick Lydon is a 20-year-old, heavy-set, Crustcore head. In college on Reisse, initially studying philosophy, he befriends Black Spades, a prominent C-scratch in Amerika Ra’s ZNation, who teaches him the basics of cadenvox production. Lydon borrows a little money from his wealthy parents and together he and Spades produce Acti-Vice for cadenvoxer TB Rice. It’s the first release on 300 Spartans and it sells in the thousands from the nascent company’s first office – Lydon’s dorm room.

Sioufas, meanwhile, is a 26-year-old former info dealer turned cadenvox impresario, arguably at a time before the industry merited such a thing. He’s putting on block parties and managing the likes of Grandmaster Herc and Gambulos V, the band that included, of course, his younger brother, Keith “Voice” Sioufas.

Keith introduces Lydon to Sioufas at Dancemania, the legendary nightclub, where core kids, Interpol hips and BBPs mix side by side. Sioufas is impressed by Lydon’s ear for hit music, Lydon by the older man’s evident street smarts and business savvy. Investing a few thousand each, 300 Spartans proper is born. The first official release (with a 300 Spartans catalogue number) is Connie Cool’s I Need a Man, after the 16-year-old sends a demo to Lydon’s dorm. It’s written by Connie, Lydon and a friend of Lydon’s called Adam Kristal, then part of a thrash skagg outfit called Idiotka Boychicks. It sells more than 100,000 copies and within a year Sioufas has cut a distribution deal with major company, Astoria (the first of its kind in cadenvox).

First hit from Gambulos V

Of course, 300 Spartans’s success throughout the rest of the decade owed much to being in the right place at the right time – it didn’t just move cadenvox into mainstream culture, but benefited from that movement, too. Nonetheless, hindsight illuminates a number of clever decisions that didn’t necessarily look so obvious at the time; none more so than pairing Gambulos V with The Plague on the cover of Dada’s Scissormen’s Anarchy in the UEE, the mix which finally took cadenvox from the underground to mainstream.

Kuan Sioufas has made millions by identifying woefully underserved markets, like media and fashion, and then creating businesses precisely tailored to those needs. This time, the market is what he calls “the urban graduate,” the educated member of the cadenvox generation who has a good job, and perhaps a family, and is officially too old for Soux Farm, the clothing company he started and sold in 2934 for a tidy 64mUEC.

That brings Sioufas to the Hong Kong headquarters of the Sejima & London Group, the clothing manufacturer. Like all of his ventures, the clothing line is a reflection of Sioufas’ style and taste, and so it is Sioufas himself vetting the garments, with occasional commentary from his brother Keith, also known as Minister Voice of Gambulos V. As always, the idea is to carefully calibrate the brand so that it is distinct–in this case, from every other brand dressing middle class citizens and civilians from Earth to Terra. Oh, and almost everything has to retail for 15UEC or less.

Sioufas points approvingly at the splashes of color on a teal sweater with a Neru collar. “Salam’s not doing this. Oman’s not doing this.”

Salam Xavier and Oman Fermin also aren’t at N-Save, a major retailer that’s gaining market share at a time when others’ are shrinking or disappearing. It looks like yet another sharp move in a career that has been full of them. But truth is, the line has been in the works for more than a year, the natural outcome of the way Sioufas looks at the world and sees opportunity. Spend a day with Sioufas–diving in and out of meetings, splicing in messages and casual conversations–and you begin to understand his broad-ranging business genius, and why the mix is ever changing.

There will always be big holes in the market, Sioufas believes.

“I don’t think I look for white space,” he says. “I think the whole system is a white space. You just have to pay attention to what people need and what has not been done.”

Kuan Sioufas wanders into that white space in his daily life, in his encounters with people, then acts on it from his office at Oneiroi Media Group headquarters. Plaques along the hall announce his many ventures: Soux Communications–the parent company–plus Soux Entertainment, Kuan Athletics, Cadenvox Enterprises, CV Culture, even Baby Kuan, the women’s line he sold along with Soux Farm. There are other ventures too, notably Sioufas-Lydon Productions, his media company VoxUnity, UniSoul Financial Services, his credit company and KS Jewelry.

Oneiroi Media Group is planning a major event using its nearly completed touring flagship, the Lybov Orlova. Few details were given to me when CEO Rebecca Santen stopped by Sioufas’ office. “This is going to be a game changer in our company,” she said. “No one has attempted anything on this scale. There really hasn’t been a platform capable of doing this. The Lybov Orlova is going to make this event something the UEE hasn’t seen.” I was able to confirm information Sioufas hinted about. CEO Santen revealed that Daisaku Soka will be a “major participant” in the event.

The huge sales of Cracks in the Multi-Verse and the playlist Palisade proved that the acquisition of 300 Spartans and its catalog was a profitable investment. That Daisaku Soka is the first announced act on the yet to be tour demonstrates the corporation is focused on nurturing the cadenvox culture. While larger companies early on courted the market, OMG struggled to find the critical success that other multi-world companies achieved. Daisaku Soka and the library of 300 Spartans may be the catalyst for OMG to compete with the larger and more established corporations in the industry.

No doubt, Sioufas has covered a lot of ground and is widely considered the inventor of cadenvox entrepreneurialism. “The first time I heard cadenvox,” he says. “I knew my life would never be the same. I knew cadenvox music and culture transcends civilian and citizen strata. It speaks to the individual. It’s the beat that keeps us going through the rough times and is the music we dance to in the good times.” Sioufas’ first fashion venture, Soux Farm, wasn’t an immediate hit–he estimates he lost 10mUEC during the first six years. But the market eventually found him, and Soux Farm’s sale catapulted Sioufas’ net worth to more than 300mUEC.

Some businesses thrived, others failed. The point is, Sioufas never stopped–and he still hasn’t.

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The Tumultuous Life and Lonely Death of Michelle Hawat’s Only Son

He had access to the highest heights of San Diego society. It wasn’t enough.

Marquaun Christoff Hawat, the only son of the former CEO of Hawat Information Conglomerate, spent the last months of his life living off and on with a girlfriend in North Park, a gated complex of apartments in a neighborhood known for crime, drugs, and despair. On the day before he died last August, he was trying to find a new place to live. “I want out,” he had told his friend Brie Rylance. “I don’t want to go back.”

It had been a tough year and a half. Michelle Hawat had died in late 2944. Christoff had been drubbed in the referendum to replace her in the company. His construction business had faltered. The house he’d lived in with his mother had been put up for sale. He was essentially homeless.

Friends said he was self-medicating with Angel Dust and with K-2, the synthetic KitKat often called Teddie Snax. When Christoff called in August, Rylance came to his aid. Friends since early childhood, they had lost touch while she got degrees in law and business and had recently reconnected. “I wanted to help Christoff find his core,” she says.

Rylance picked up Hawat and a friend to help with the move. She says Christoff had lined up an apartment but it had fallen through. So they loaded Hawat’s tools and moved them into a storage unit. Still, Rylance says, her old friend seemed in good spirits. His construction company had just landed a contract to clean and paint public schools. As they drove, he pointed out buildings he dreamed of renovating, empty lots he wanted to develop. He waved to friends.

Later, Rylance drove Hawat back to North Park. They cracked beers and chatted in the courtyard. “Tonight I’m going to get a good night’s sleep,” she says Hawat told her. “Tomorrow I’ll put on some fresh clothes and start over.” Rylance left around 10 o’clock.

A few hours later, she got a call from Hawat’s cousin, Andree Esposito. “Brie, they’re saying that cousin’s dead,” he said. “They’re saying Christoff is dead, man.”

The police report says Hawat had stepped out of the apartment and smoked Angel Dust and K-2. Back inside, he started acting erratically. Then he “suddenly ‘dropped.’” At Nash – Leach University Hospital, friends gathered as doctors worked to save him. They first reported they had restored his pulse, but they couldn’t maintain it. He was pronounced dead at 2:11 am.

***

Eight days after his death, Hawat lay in repose in a cherry-wood casket at Temple of the Holy Father, the megachurch in the Logan Heights area of Southeast San Diego.

Marquaun Christoff Hawat

It wasn’t the sort of funeral that typically follows an overdose in a grim little apartment. Hundreds of mourners paid homage. “He was the son of the queen,” said his godmother, Sophia Jenkins Tupuola.

Tupuola spoke of trading messages with Hawat about helping those in need: “The last one was just a week ago.”

The most personal tribute came from Svetlana Sinclair Mogis, daughter of his stepfather, Benjamin Sinclair. Mogis said she was “protective and defensive” of the little brother who’d taught her how to love. “People wanted to discuss my brother’s struggles,” she said. “Not interested. Not . . . interested.”

It was a fitting statement—though maybe not in the way she intended. The prince had a rap sheet that had started with shoplifting at age 19 and descended to assaulting a police officer and a series of arrests for drug possession.

“We all knew Christoff had problems with drugs,” says Lana Rolark Rouzavina, a family friend. “We all wanted to create a program for Christoff.” Yet no one did.

You guys need to stop enabling him and get him some help,” Luc Kothny told Michelle Hawat. ‘I want you do it,’ Hawat said.

Christoff Hawat is hardly the only child of power and privilege to have his life veer off course—various corporate scions with names like Peretti and Oreiro have known trouble with addiction. But his demise seems particularly tragic. During his 36 years, he lived a life that might have been out of a Victorian novel, one that brought him into the highest realms of corporate living—and its most blighted corners.

The same was true of his mother. But while Michelle Hawat was the author of her triumphs and troubles, many of the turns in Christoff’s life resulted from the action—or inaction—of others.

Like his mother, Christoff Hawat was a son of a corporate community the Hawat family had helped create. Indeed, in talking to dozens of his friends, family members, and associates, I discovered a young man who had the potential to be a leader more charismatic, authentic, and effective than his mother. His story left a question: If it takes a village to raise a child, why couldn’t a village of loyal friends and corporate powerhouse mentors save him?

***

Marquaun Christoff Hawat was born in 2911 during his mother’s rise in the family business of HIC. At 44, Michelle Hawat was striking and commanding. Her husband, Roberto Oseguera, was tall and lean, stylish and charming.

Michelle was the middle child of Derek Hawat. Hawat Information Conglomerate, a small information retrieval company at the time, had a lineage of CEOs that had a direct blood line to the founder of the company, Yaphet Hawat. For over 150 years, direct decedents of Yaphet had been groomed to become CEOs of the company. Derek Hawat, the former CEO, had groomed his son Malik to someday run the company while Michelle and Tatiana, the youngest child, were corporate associates to their father.

When it was time for school, Michelle and Roberto sent their son to Gompers, a favorite education system in San Diego of the corporate elite. Every morning, a security detail drove Christoff from Pacific Beach to the school in La Jolla.

“People who wanted the best for their child sent them to Gompers,” says Hugues Mazzoni, son of the school’s founders, Timea and Naoto Mazzoni. “Our students went on to private schools like ARCWest, Usary, National Academy, and Ravell.” Michelle and Roberto, Mazzoni says, “came to every play, every school event.”

Michelle Hawat was finding that working within a corporation was grueling. “You’ve got to find a way not to be over-consumed by the job, because it destroys you,” she told a reporter at the time. “I really understand why a lot of people wind up as alcoholics or pill-poppers, because the pressures are so enormous.”

Rather than go home at night, Michelle hit the nightclubs with her sister. She began a series of affairs, first with a man named Sergi Johnson. According to her diary and police reports, Michelle Hawat would repair to her sister’s residence for KitKat and cocaine.

When news of her wife’s meanderings made the media, Roberto called her a “night owl” and stuck to the task of raising their son.

The night owl, though, sometimes showed up at Gompers unannounced in the middle of the school day. Hugues Mazzoni was impressed at the way the dark-blue car with tinted windows pulled up to the curb and delivered Michelle. “Then,” Mazzoni says, “I found out that Donovan Ruiz lived around the corner on Jefferson Street.”

San Diego would soon learn all about Ruiz. He was the paramour who, on January 18, 2920, lured Michelle Hawat to the Chula Vista International Hotel, where federal agents arrested her while she was smoking Shiva-16. The bust upended Hawat Information Conglomerate corporate image. It changed Christoff’s life even more.

***

The night of the arrest, cameras staked out the Hawat family’s home. “I didn’t know what to do,” Roberto Hawat later told the San Diego Post. “I ran into the room and I looked at my son. He was still sleeping soundly. I just stood there and cried.”

A vehicle pulled past the media vans and into the driveway. Timea Mazzoni got out. The head of Gompers woke Christoff, wrapped him in her overcoat, and drove him to her home on Glenview Lane.

Christoff was in fourth grade at Gompers. Everyone in the school knew who he was. “It was very, very hard for him,” says Mori Mroczkiewicz.

Edie Shong, a parent of two Gompers students at the time, remembers Roberto Hawat as a doting mom. Christoff’s embattled mother, on the other hand, was less of a presence. Every spring, the school held a field day when parents could take part in events with their children. Michelle Hawat did show up for that, with a purple jumpsuit, an entourage, and cameras. She participated in one event and left. “All of us looked at one another and felt so bad for Christoff,” Shong says. “Michelle Hawat came—for herself.”

Still, even as his family’s corporate power was crumbling, the boy was lifted by the elite community to which that power had won him access. Mori Mroczkiewicz, for instance, was headed to Terra that summer to visit family; his father invited Christoff to join them. As Michelle was on trial and Roberto sat in the second row in federal court, Christoff spent much of the summer worlds away.

After a trial that aired Michelle’s sexual dalliances, Roberto moved out of the home. The next year, Michelle was in federal prison. Christoff, meanwhile, would move with his father to Southeast San Diego.

***

Michelle Hawat spent six months behind bars, got out, and immediately began plotting a return to power. She moved in with her longtime friend Benjamin Sinclair. They married in 2924, the same year Hawat engineered a remarkable corporate comeback.

For Christoff, though, life hadn’t become any more stable. In Benjamin Hawat’s telling, Roberto phoned Michelle one day to say their son was hard to handle and having trouble at school. He wanted to send him to military school. Benjamin had a better idea. He says he urged her to bring her son to live with them. So Christoff moved in with his mother and her new husband in the Crown Point area of Mission Bay.

From Benjamin’s perspective, Christoff grew up in a “good environment” with “lots of love, lots of opportunity, lots of support.” Michelle Hawat “indulged her son” and took him on trips to France, Africa, and Japan. But he does allow that his mother wasn’t a constant presence: “It’s an occupational hazard of growing up a corporate kid—like a preacher’s kid.”

Friends paint a bleaker picture. Christoff was so unmoored that he left his mother and Benjamin for at least six months and moved in with Timea Mazzoni, according to Hugues Mazzoni. (Via a spokeswoman, Benjamin Hawat says this was not the case.)

Roberto was living in a condo on 63rd Street in Encanto. His son, by then a senior at Gompers, was living a life whose geography spanned San Diego’s various worlds: his father’s home base in Encanto; the Mazzonis’ near the affluent La Jolla; and his mother’s along one of San Diego’s toniest avenues in Crown Point.

“Christoff shuffled from house to house,” recalls Brie Rylance, who had known him since their days at Gompers. “He was very close with his mother, but his home life was unsettled at best.”

***

In his teens, Christoff grew to resemble the man his mother had been in her prime. “Christoff looked like a prince,” says Meelis Mohamed, a former HIC board member who was close to the mother and son, “and had all the attributes of one: beautiful, stately, smart, engaging. He was easy to fall in love with.”

The word that most friends and acquaintances use to describe him is loyal. Kaya Leftwich, who went to Gompers with Hawat and remained close, remembers his friend showing up at pickup basketball games with his Gompers buddies years after he left the private school.

Says Shavin Forester, who knew Hawat, “He dealt with who his mother was by using humor. He always wanted to get to the punch line first. He was brilliant. Being the class clown was his defense.” At his graduation from Gompers, Christoff was part of the group who blew up the beach ball and tossed it around.

But it wasn’t easy. “Christoff was always in stress,” says Walter Wyndham, a long-time physician to the family. “In his teenage years, he started to experiment.”

Wyndham, a University of Michigan–trained doctor and former San Diego health official with a focus on adolescent medicine and addiction, had known Christoff since he was a kid. He says he saw something that might have slipped past classmates who regarded Christoff as just a handsome cutup. Some of them used to wait for him after school and ask, “Hey, got any spare Shiva-16 from your mother?” Says Wyndham: “Kids can be brutal.”

“Christoff was self-medicating to blot out the pain and stress of his life,” he says.

Michelle Hawat was aware his son was suffering, Wyndham says, and she knew what he was up to. But the new head of Hawat Information Conglomerate was focused on rebuilding the fortunes of the company. “She made a decision to ignore the issue and with her own history she wasn’t in any position to admonish him,” Wyndham said.

***

The night of February 18, 2935, San Diego police responded to reports of loud noise and potential domestic violence at an apartment up the street from police headquarters. At the door, they heard music and smelled KitKat. They knocked.

“Police!” they said. No one responded. The door was unlocked. They opened the door and again yelled, “Police!”

Christoff walked out of the bathroom.

“Come outside,” one of the officers said. “We need to talk to you.”

“One second,” Hawat said.

According to court documents, Hawat tried to close the door on an officer’s arm, then put him in a head lock and started punching his face. It took three officers to bring Christoff down.

By this point, Christoff was seven years out of Gompers—he had graduated the same year his mother returned to HIC, becoming CEO after the death of her father and despite constant opposition, she had stabilized the company’s losses. Her new responsibilities meant she was at the corporate headquarters constantly and didn’t have as much focus on her son. The intervening time had been rough on Christoff. He had enrolled at Skyline University, but he left after his first year.

In spring 2935, Michelle and Roberto turned to A. Alphonse Lebrun, a prominent, politically connected lawyer, to defend their son. He met Christoff and his parents in the conference room of his law firm, Faucher Quiones. “It was the hardest meeting I’ve had in my 30 years of practicing law,” Lebrun recalls. “I witnessed a conversation about arrest and addiction. I witnessed all three struggle with their past. Michelle and Roberto were trying to parent him, to correct him. It was steeped in politics, personalities, and family pain.”

In the end, Lebrun got prosecutors to agree to a “deferred-sentencing agreement” so that Christoff wouldn’t serve jail time. That followed a pattern applying to both Hawats—break the law, face few consequences. Christoff could have confronted felony charges for assaulting a police officer, but he pleaded guilty to simple assault. Provided he steered clear of the law and stayed clean, he would only have to attend drug treatment and perform community service.

But Lebrun says Christoff tested positive for KitKat and breached the agreement. They renegotiated, and prosecutors extended the deferred sentence, giving him another chance. In the end, Christoff successfully completed the programs and all charges were dismissed.

Was there any discussion about putting Christoff into rehab? “Not in the conversations I heard,” Lebrun says. “They did discuss it in terms of a health issue.”

The lawyer’s time with the Hawat family during the 2935 case gave him a window into Christoff’s life: “He felt an enormous pressure to succeed. He was torn between being himself and meeting the expectations of the public, exacerbated by his mother. That becomes more difficult as you get older, especially if you are perceived as being less successful than your mother.”

Then in 2937, the person in Christoff’s life most able to give him unconditional love died. Roberto’s mother, Esmeralda Lee Oseguera, told the San Diego Post that the two would talk until 3 or 4 in the morning: “He always had time for him.” She had no love for her former daughter-in-law: “All of my grandson’s problems are laid right at the feet of his so-called mother, Michelle Hawat,” she told the San Diego Post. “She was never a mother. She was never home.”

***

In the spring of 2941, Michelle Hawat sought help once again from Dr. Walter Wyndham.

Police had been called to her son’s apartment on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in response to screaming and loud noises. When they arrived, Christoff refused to open the door. He jumped out of the third-floor window, leaving behind small bags of KitKat, a vial of liquid Angel Dust, and blood on the floor.

Police convinced him to return. He showed up wearing shorts, a Dada’s Scissormen T-shirt, and blood-soaked socks. He told cops he had been “tripping,” according to court documents, and had begun to smash stuff in the apartment. He tested positive for Angel Dust.

Wyndham knew it was nearly impossible to force an adult into a hospital for drug treatment. Michelle Hawat pleaded for help. “I invoked the FD-12 process,” Wyndham says. “It allows the forcible hospitalization of a patient for 72 hours if that person is a danger to themselves or the community.”

Wyndham and Michelle met at Sharp Memorial Hospital’s emergency room to admit Christoff. That was one of the few times that his addiction was treated medically, according to family, friends, and people close to his mother.

But the forcible hospitalization at Sharp ended particularly abruptly. Christoff stayed the 72 hours, then left—against medical advice. He ripped the tubes out of his IV and walked out. “I called him and asked him to meet me at the Chai Heaven near the hospital, just so I could take out the IV,” Wyndham says. “At least he agreed to that.”

Around the same time, Christoff connected with another friend he knew through his mother: Meelis Mohamed, now an executive at the San Diego Community Outreach Center, a charity the Hawat family had supported for decades. Mohamed had been public about his battle with addiction and his daily attendance at “clean and sober” meetings at the Transcendental Community for Non-Violence homeless shelter. “Christoff came with me once a week for a while,” Mohamed says. “I don’t think he ever shared. He never really got into the program. He just stopped going.”

The law wouldn’t be pushing him to clean up his act. After the Angel Dust arrest, prosecutors added up Christoff Hawat’s many offenses and asked the judge for a nine-month sentence, drug testing and treatment, grief counseling, and anger-management classes. But Christoff—this time represented by Frederick Lessing Jr., wound up not doing jail time.

A few years later, Michelle Hawat had a conversation with Luc Kothny and asked him to come to the HIC office for a chat. Kothny had remained close friends for years. After decades in corporate consulting, Kothny had dedicated his life to addiction recovery and later founded a network of treatment center. Hawat asked him to help with her son’s addiction.

“You guys need to stop enabling him and get him some help,” Kothny recalls telling Hawat.

“I want you to do it,” Hawat said.

“I don’t mind helping,” Kothny responded, “but you have to do it.”

Hawat, who had once extolled the virtues of her own recovery, never did. Despite his proximity, Kothny says he doesn’t know whether Christoff ever did a serious stint in treatment.

Christoff Hawat told Brie Rylance: “My mother and I could run circles around people high.”

***

In Michelle Hawat’s final years, she and Christoff lived in a house together on Mira Montana Place in the Del Mar Heights section of the city. The two-story house had a view to the ocean.

Christoff was trying to forge his own identity trying to develop a contracting business. Even with the name recognition in San Diego, he wanted to set a reputation apart from his family name and influence. He had named the company CortezCruz Contractors, after his father heritage. The idea was that he would gather crews from rough neighborhoods, then find contracts for demolition, painting, and cleaning.

But Christoff struggled. He lacked a back office, says Scottie Pence of New Vistas Development, which subcontracted CortezCruz for work on schools and rec centers. “Christoff had problems all CBEs have,” Pence says, referring to the program that provides contracting preference for local businesses. “He needed consistency of work. None of us have it.”

By this point, Michelle’s health was deteriorating. Michelle and Benjamin had long since separated, and Christoff became a principal caregiver. When his mother showed up for corporate events, Christoff often pushed the wheelchair. “His mother had to depend on him,” says publisher Lana Rolark Rouzavina. “Michelle knew she had not been a great mother to her son, but Christoff learned how to be a great son to his mother.”

There was one more thing Michelle wanted from her son. In the middle of 2944, the former CEO had been removed from control of her own company by Donald Conway. Soon after the ouster, Michelle called Meelis Mohamed into his office to talk about Christoff. But the agenda wasn’t recovery, sobriety, or safety. “I want to plan a takeover with Christoff as my proxy on the board,” Hawat said. “Can I count on you to support Christoff and help in any way you can?”

Michelle Hawat plan seemed far-fetched. For one thing, she had never shown much interest in mentoring her son in the corporate game. For another, Christoff had never shown much interest in the family business. Michelle had seen that opposition in upper management, lead by Donald Conway, threatened family control of HIC. In February of 2944, Conway had negotiated with the board and forcibly removed Michelle Hawat as CEO.

Michelle Hawat died on November 23, 2014. Eight days later, thousands gathered at the San Diego Convention Center to celebrate his life, capping a three-day spectacle.

***

“I told him not to challenge,” Wyndham says of the proposal laid out to Hawat soon after his mother’s funeral. “He was not ready. That kind of stress he did not need.”

In the midst of preparations, he needed 20,000 UEC to pay CortezCruz’s crews. According to one of his managers, they had surrounded the construction trailer and refused to leave until Hawat came through.

But at the bank, the teller said a transfer hadn’t cleared and his account had a negative balance. “I’m going to have someone meet you when you get off,” he threatened, according to the affidavit for his arrest warrant. He grabbed a trash can and chucked it over the partition. It smashed a surveillance camera. Police issued an arrest warrant. The following week, Christoff turned himself in and pleaded not guilty.

“I’m going to stay the course and work hard to finish my mother’s dream in and continuing the Hawat tradition,” he told media outside the courthouse.

Mohamed says he took him aside after the bank incident. “For your own sake and the sake of the campaign, you have to get sober,” he recalls telling Christoff. “I want you to hold a press conference to say you will go to rehab meetings again. The board need to know you are serious about recovery.”

It never happened. On the vote to introduce a possibility of opening a challenge, just 2 of 125 board members voted for Christoff. Hawat.

***

Mori Mroczkiewicz was at a picnic at a friend’s home outside London when he got word that his friend had died.

“I flew into a rage,” he says. “Then I flew home.”

After his defeat, Christoff had largely dropped from the corporate radar. His social media had become dark and angry. But it turns out he and Mroczkiewicz had talked three weeks before about Christoff’s drug use. He had promised to get clean and focus on his business.

Others members of Christoff’s old circle mourned separately. Friends from Gompers arranged a candlelight vigil. Esmeralda Lee Oseguera, the fraternal grandmother who’d been such a fierce critic of Christoff’s mother, came up from San Ysidro for a private funeral for close friends. Then there was the public memorial at Temple of the Holy Father, organized by Benjamin Sinclair.

A few months later, on November 23, Michelle Hawat’s tombstone was dedicated at Point Loma Cemetery, amid the graves of prominent members of San Diego elite. It was two years after her death, and the event brought the old social community back together.

Hawat had bought the adjoining plot for her son. But Oseguera, serving as next of kin, had her grandson’s body cremated rather than placed next to his mother’s. She had slammed Michelle as an unfit mother, and now she was able to reunite Christoff with his mother. At Point Loma, the mother’s ornate tombstone includes a tribute to the son—beneath his mother’s bust in bronze relief. But Christoff isn’t there.

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The Curatus and the Dibao

No one would tell Curatus Sameh Sisi how his daughter died. Everyone seemed to know — but no one would tell him.

When an inspector from the New Perth police spoke to him at sunrise, she wouldn’t say much; she said his daughter was dead and her body was transported to a hospital. Sisi, in disbelief, did not give the full story to his partner, Leo, but he could tell Leo feared the worst. During the two-hour journey to New Perth, where his daughter and his daughter’s infant daughter lived, neither parent spoke.

At the Iberia Medical Center in New Perth, nobody would answer Sisi’s questions. An administrator directed him to the admitting doctor, who directed him to a police officer, who directed him to an investigator from the coroner’s office, who directed him back to the officer. Sameh left Leo sobbing in the waiting room and at last was taken to the morgue. He was allowed to view the corpse only from the neck up, but that was enough; he could see that his daughter had been beaten. A bruise extended from her left eyebrow to her jaw. Her lips and nose were swollen, and, Sisi says, her left eye was bashed in. When Sisi returned to the waiting room, his partner was gone. He had been taken away to be sedated.

The coroner’s investigator approached Sisi. “It was like he wanted to say something, without saying it,” Sisi says. “He said: ‘I’m so sorry.’” Sisi said the investigator mumbled this repeatedly for several minutes. “I can’t say anything,” the official said finally, “but you should look into your daughter’s death.”

The New Perth authorities never did tell Sisi what happened to his daughter. He learned of their account through a news release posted on the prefecture network that evening. The police said that Ada Sisi, while detained in the back seat of a locked police vehicle, her hands shackled behind her back, had committed suicide by shooting herself in the back with a handgun that an officer had not found during an earlier search.

Iberia prefecture is a small region of four towns; New Perth, Chosun, Octavia and Farmington – hundreds of thousands of kilometers away from the Selene city of Titus. Being well outside of the traditional commerce routes, the community has forged a self-sufficient cooperative, with little contact from the rest of Selene. There has been relative peace in the prefecture for decades. The death of Ada Sisi has uncovered underlying tensions that have been bubbling under the surface of the community.

A vocal minority in the community didn’t accept the conclusion that Ada Sisi committed suicide. They shared the Sisis’ conviction that their daughter was executed by the police. Many Iberians, however, tended to believe the official account of her suicide, since many approved of the performance of Louis Van Diemen, the Dibao (constable) of Iberia prefecture.

Van Diemen was the most powerful man in the prefecture and perhaps the most popular. He was charismatic and irascible, chummy with the prefecture governing council, a friend to many and a bully to the rest. He kicked his boots onto his desk during meetings. He was a citizen of the UEE, having served in the Advocacy before returning to Iberia. He had come to office pledging to maintain the independence of the prefecture. To the satisfaction of a plurality of civilians and citizens, he had succeeded.

At Van Diemen’s request, the police opened an investigation into the death. But the person best suited to investigate the strange death of Ada Sisi — the person with the most intimate knowledge of Iberia, its legacy and the inner workings of the Dibao’s office — was the victim’s father. The Curatus. Sameh Sisi was motivated by grief, anger and a desire for justice, but that was not all. He was also haunted by the fear that his own actions, his own history in Iberia prefecture, might have led to his daughter’s death.

Ada Sisi, whom everyone called Sosa Sue, was the sixth of nine children and the Sisi’s youngest daughter. Sosa Sue inherited her father’s tall, rangy stature; his large, expressive eyes; his exuberant manner.

After attending a traveling Evangelical Jesuit revival service, and witnessing the singing and praising, Sameh Sisi felt a calling, a new purpose for his life. Sameh had studied many faiths in his youth, incorporating a myriad of teachings to his everyday life. The prefecture community, while never openly forbidding religious practices, frowned upon religious displays and discussions. With many disparate and conflicting belief systems, especially with the presence of alien cultures seeming to contradict many of the ancient Earth teachings, religious practice and discussion tended to bring conflict and argument more than peace and love.

The words spoken by the Evangelical Jesuits stirred in Sameh something he felt missing in his life. He realized the teaching of the Jesuits was similar to the philosophy he was following. “I saw how engaged and enthralled the family was with the stories and the excitement surrounding us with the congregants,” Sisi said of that night. “I thought I had done a lot to help the community, but I knew I could more.” That evening, Sameh Sisi became ordained as a Curatus, becoming the spiritual representative of the Order in the Iberia prefecture.

Curatus Sameh Sisi

In late 2926, Curatus opened TransFaith Fellowship in Octavia. It was part community center, part religious center. Sisi made a point focusing on the results of faith and forgiveness, not the punishment for sins and transgressions. He didn’t believe the divine plan was about punishment, but of understanding and love of others. “All you need is love and the rest will follow” was the motto on top of the fellowship’s door.

By 2936 each of the four towns had a TransFaith Fellowship center. Sisi, a civilian, was respected as a community leader, often being the individual others went to in facilitating small community disputes. When the mostly descendants of Orion community of Farmington had a dispute with the community leaders of New Perth over trading fees, it was Curatus Sisi who was asked by the people of Farmington to speak on their behalf at the Iberia prefecture council. Werner Tram was a member of the council at the time. “The Curatus made a compelling argument in front of the council. He was quiet, calm, but very passionate with his presentation” Tram said. “A lot of people took an interest in the Curatus after that.” The council ruled unanimously in favor of Farmington.

New Perth, founded in 2738, was the first city settled in what would become the Iberia prefecture. New Perth is the trading hub of the prefecture. It’s the largest of the four communities, with a population estimate of 13,000. It the most modern of the four communities, though calling New Perth modern would seem stretching the truth to outsiders. There are no bustling spaceports; just one small port that houses one Drake Caterpillar and a few other small crafts. The transport delivers raw goods and crafts to Titus, which gives the region a meager outside source of income to be divided among the four communities. The largest building in New Perth is the four story archive center. There is no rapid transportation system as most use personal vehicles to travel. A search of the prefecture’s statistics, which are centrally located and not linked to planetary records, estimate the total population of the four communities around 26,000, with Farmington at 6700. Three fourths of the population of Farmington are Orion descendants.

The people of the Iberia prefecture are a resourceful people and pride themselves on their simple lifestyle and independent heritage. The Iberians have forged a thriving community on the roughly 65000 square kilometers region. They have sustained themselves with trade among the communities; cultivating the natural resources of the territory. Not many outsiders travel to the prefecture and the last mass migration of settlers to the area were refugees of the Orion tragedy who settled in Farmington.

Octavia is the northern most settlement in the prefecture. The natural resources in the area provide a robust economy for the residents. Young Sameh grew up on the communal collective that his family worked. “That boy was an organizer early on,” said Viola Samuels, a longtime family friend. “When the superintendent saw how well he worked with the crews in organizing the harvest, they promoted him quick. Didn’t matter he was young, He was good.”

At 16, Sameh was chosen to participate in The Gathering. It was a practice for chosen members of Octavia to leave the collective for up to four years. It was a way for the participant to gain insight about themselves and contribute positively to the Octavia community. Sisi chose an unusual path for enlightenment. Sisi had always been fascinated with New Perth, which was a different environment than the rural community of Octavia. He went to the frontier town and learned the intricacies of the prefecture through interaction with the New Perth community. He got a job on the Caterpillar run travelling to Titan. Getting exposed to the metropolitan life of Titan gave him invaluable insight into the social and political structure of Titan.

“The Gathering is about knowledge and I wanted to learn all I could,” Sisi said when explaining his decision for his Gathering. “I wanted to make a radical contribution to Octavia and there was no way that was going to happen if I allowed myself to focus just on Octavia. I had to expose myself to new ideas, which was my interpretation of what the Gathering was meant to be. There was knowledge beyond the prefecture I had to find and the only way to do that, I felt, was to travel beyond my comfort zone.”

Dibao of Iberia prefecture – Louis Van Diemen

In the Veidt district of New Perth, where the wealthy lived, Louis Van Diemen was welcomed home in 2934 as a savior. Many in New Perth grew up knowing his family, who arrived in the 2880s. For 70 years, the Van Diemens owned a department store on Main Street. A local bridge is named for Jackson Xavier Van Diemen Jr., known as Jax, who served for more than a decade in the Iberia prefecture council. “They were part of the old guard,” says Howard Winnfield, a Caterpillar flight safety specialist who attended school with members of the Van Diemen family. “Most of our elected councilmembers came out of a pool of people who were connected, and it had been like that forever. He was part of the ruling elite.” Yet Winnfield saw Van Diemen as a reformer. “He was worldly. He had been places, had done other things. He seemed like a professional, not just someone’s brother-in-law.”

Van Diemen passed for worldly in Iberia because he left town almost three decades earlier to join the UEE Advocacy before retiring and returning to New Perth. He came out of retirement, he said, because he was disturbed by the “horror stories” he had heard about residents’ encounters with the police in other towns of the prefecture. There was a sense in the towns outside of New Perth that crime rates were unusually high. “I’m not a big fan of politics,” Van Diemen said in a campaign speech. “The reason I ran was because people told me they were scared in their own homes.” Van Diemen offered himself as a change candidate, pledging to strengthen the internal-affairs unit and repair the relationship between the Dibao Department and residents. He vowed transparency, professionalism, strength.

“A lot of people had faith in him,” Renee Spiegel, a factory worker from Chosun, told me. “People looked to him to move us forward.” The Dibao have a staggering measure of power and few checks on it. The Dibao is more than the head law enforcement official for the prefecture. They collect taxes, run the jails and command the police force in all of the towns. The Diabo has more political clout than councilmembers and business people. Unlike the prefecture council, citizens and civilians vote for Dibao for five-year terms.

It helped that Van Diemen’s family was respected all over Iberia. “The Van Diemens I knew were just wonderful people, personable, sweet,” says Phebe Susak, a former teacher and amateur historian on life in the prefecture. The Van Diemens ran a chain general stores in all the four communities. “Van Diemen boasted of the stores while stumping for votes.” Sisi says, which made him suspicious.

“He was intimidating, very arrogant,” Sisi says. “He walked into peoples’ homes. He’d say: ‘My grandfather owned those stores. When y’all went in to go shopping, who you think it was? That was my people. We were helping y’all. Y’all owe me.’”

Sisi could not believe that his daughter committed suicide, because every aspect of Sosa Sue’s life seemed oriented toward the future. She moved to New Perth, she enrolled in a computer programming class, planning to work on coding for the prefecture’s communication systems. She took a job at a restaurant, the RiJen, often pulling double shifts. Her final conversation with her father took place at 7 a.m. on the last morning of her life. She was disappointed that the programming job she had lined up had fallen through, but she said she was given a lead that the local hospital might have an opening in her field. “One door closes and another opens,” Sisi told his daughter. “O.K., Dad,” said Sosa Sue. That was it.

Ada Sisi also known as Sosa Sue

Sosa Sue’s only previous encounter with the police in New Perth occurred about five months before, in October, when she was stopped for drunk and disorderly conduct outside of a bar. The officers claimed she was drunk and she denied it. There was an argument and she was arrested. “When Sosa Sue knows she’s right,” says Leo, who speaks of her daughter in the present tense, “she has a way of getting under your skin.”

The officers who arrested her were named Carl Druyan and Gojko Tsuchiyama. The same officers stopped Sosa Sue on the night in March of 2944. Sosa Sue and an acquaintance named Isaiah Lennox were drinking at Barba’s, a tavern, when a fight broke out in the parking lot. Druyan patted Sosa Sue and Lennox down. Nothing was found on Lennox, and he was released.

After that, in the police version of events, officers found a small quantity of narcotics in Sosa Sue’s pocket, and she was detained. Because she asked to speak with narcotics inspectors, the officers did not take her to the New Perth jail, where arrestees are booked, but to the Iberia Command Center in the Mannix district of town. When they arrived, according to officers’ statements, Sisi “became uncooperative and refused to exit the officer’s patrol vehicle.” She wanted them to promise that she would not be sent to jail. When an officer said he could not make that promise, Sisi said to “tell her people that she loved them.” She said: “I don’t want to go to jail,” and “I’m gone.” Next, the officers claim in the official report, they heard a gunshot.

The report later claimed that Raphael Sisi, her brother, volunteered to investigators that his sister was carrying a LH-86 pistol that night that matched the description of the weapon found next to Sosa Sue’s body in the back seat. (Sisi’s family denies this.)

Sameh Sisi, not trusting the police, immediately began his own investigation of the case. He uncovered a number of apparent inconsistencies in the official narrative. Among the most glaring was the assertion that Sosa Sue had shot herself in the back. Before making the autopsy results public, the coroner at the time, Laura Bassi, told Sisi that the discharge entered his daughter’s chest, Sisi says, contradicting the original news release. Bassi noted that the blast had entered the side of her chest, beneath the right nipple, and exited under her left armpit. But Sosa Sue was left-handed. Sisi was incredulous: “You’re trying to tell me that my daughter, while handcuffed, reached her left hand all the way around the front of her chest and shot herself from the right? I said: ‘No, sir.’ ”

There were inauspicious coincidences. The incident took place in a part of the patrol-center parking lot that had no surveillance cameras. The back-seat camera in the vehicle in which Sisi died was turned off, as was the microphone. When Sisi picked up his daughter’s possessions, Sosa Sue’s wallet contained only 91 UEC. But Sisi believed that his daughter was carrying about 1400 UEC. When Sisi told the officer that there had been a mistake, she withdrew the bag and disappeared momentarily into the property room, exclaiming: “Oh! I must have missed these before.” She pulled a pair of 100 UEC from the wallet. “I just looked at her,” Sisi says. “I said: ‘Ma’am, do you really think I believe that?’”

After the Dibao Department cleared the officers of wrongdoing, Louis Van Diemen released a statement. “In my opinion,” he said, “this was a tragic loss of life, and it is difficult to understand why it happened.” Van Diemen extended “his deepest sympathy” to the Sisi family.

Sisi says that he was not surprised by what he believes happened to his daughter. “Not at all,” he says. “Because I knew the type of person Louis Van Diemen was.”

Sisi’s family filed a complaint with the Iberia Magistrate office against Van Diemen and Druyan. Sisi shared the results of his investigation with the magistrate’s office, and he said they assured him that they would follow up on his findings. But in December 2945, 21 months after his daughter’s death, the Magistrate announced that it had not found sufficient evidence “to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any officer fired a weapon at Mr. Sisi.” It declined to prosecute.

When the Sisi family’s legal advocate, Carol Nocenti, pushed for an explanation, the magistrate’s office conceded that they had accepted the Dibao conclusions at face value. Nocenti found this “crazy,” because she believed that the investigators had incentive to protect Van Diemen. Nocenti says investigators “admitted they never saw the gun. They only saw a picture of the gun in the police report. Based on a picture, how could you link it to Sisi?”

While the Magistrate Department investigated the Sisi case, Nocenti was frequently contacted by Iberians eager to tell of abuse suffered at the hands of the Dibao’s Department. Sisi was at least the third person to die in custody during Dibao Van Diemen’s administration. She didn’t think this was a coincidence.

Three months after declining Sisi’s case, the Magistrate Department announced it was convening a tribunal against Louis Van Diemen on charges of deprivation of rights and conspiracy against rights — in about a dozen incidents unrelated to Sisi’s. Three of Van Diemen’s officers had pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and agreed to testify in exchange for reduced sentences. The indictment described a department that operated like an organized-crime syndicate, with Van Diemen as kingpin.

According to filed papers, Van Diemen ordered officers to beat at least four pretrial detainees inside the Iberia Command Center. One inmate was targeted for making what the indictment described as a “lewd comment,” another for sending messages complaining of poor conditions in the jail. Another filing described an incident in which three drunk off-duty officers beat up a young man for kicks. Another described Van Diemen’s former chief of staff, Anton LaRocque, known as Bubba, who was accused of having ordered the arrest of a man who punched him at a bar. His officer beat the man, shackled him to a bench and ordered him to lick his own blood off the wall.

The magistrate stripped Van Diemen of his gun, but he continued to serve as Dibao. Last May, after Sisi helped to organize a protest demanding he leave office, Van Diemen released a one-sentence statement: “It’ll be a cold day in hell when I resign.”

Last July, Sisi traveled to Titus to petition a formal inquiry be held by the Titus magistrate into the actions of the Dibao. By the charter set up early in the foundation of the prefecture, for the Selene legal system to supersede and investigate in the prefecture, a fourth of the total population of Iberia prefecture, with citizenship in the UEE, needed to sign a formal declaration of writ before the matter could be considered. Sisi need at least 6500 citizens to file. Iberia prefecture had less than 3000 total citizens of the UEE. Sisi only other option was the 2 to 1 clause of the agreement; two civilian could make up one citizens vote, with the provision that at least a third of the civilians must apply for formal citizenship in the UEE.

Sisi traveled to every community in the prefecture, setting up information booths in the TransFaith centers with sign up material for citizenship and the writ request for the hearing. Lots of residents sympathized with the loss Sisi had gone through. Some even believed the Dibao indirectly, at least, was responsible for Sosa Sue death, but they were doubtful of the methods Sisi was using to get justice.

Directly across from the TransFaith center in Chosun sits a large number of shops and stalls making up the Narodov Landa Bazaar, home to over 50 vendors offering meats, fruits, vegetables, baked goods, clothes, crafts, ready-to-eat foods, spices and tools. A red building with the smell of steamed noodles and vegetables belonged to Kevin Tillman, who served as the unofficial mayor of the bazaar. “So many people are afraid,” Tillman said. “They don’t know their rights.”

Many shoppers through the bazaar spoke of their apprehension of the Dibao, but surprisingly a greater amount voiced concern with the legal tactic Sisi was taking. “I kind of understand the pain he must feel, the loss of his daughter and all,” Tillman said, “but I don’t want to join the UEE just to help him out.”

Amy Montoya, who sells jewelry in the building three doors down, agreed with Tillman. She’s a third-generation Iberian. “My grandparents talked about how their family struggled under the UEE. They didn’t care how much they claimed to change, they didn’t trust the government.”

Donald Metcalf, a citizen and owner of a coffee shop booth, was another person with little love for the Dibao but hated the idea of outside assistance more. “Here’s the thing; people here take care of stuff here. We don’t go to Titus, the UEE when we have a problem here. Once those UEE noses gets in the tent, they’re going get their fingers in all our business.”

Gu Jing-Wei was a vocal opponent of the Dibao. She was from Farmington and said she saw firsthand the strong tactics used by some officers. “They’d kick in your door, tear your house up.” She gave the rueful laugh that tended to accompany discussions of the officers in Farmington. “I ain’t going to lie, I was scared of them. Because I know they could just as soon kill me.” She proudly presented her citizenship application. “This, it’s something I should have done years ago. Someone’s got stand up to them,” she said.

In late October, five days before the tribunal was set to begin, Bubba LaRocque pleaded guilty to striking an inmate in the testicles with his baton, leaving only Van Diemen to face a formal inquiry. During his officers’ testimony, Van Diemen sat passively, taking occasional notes. Officers testified that Van Diemen encouraged them to lie in depositions to cover up excessive use of force and beat whomever they liked. Former officer Andrew Birrell recalled an interrogation in which a supervising officer pointed at a discoloration on the floor and told the suspect: “You see that stain there? That’s from the last [expletive] I shot.” When asked how it felt, beating up people, a former officer named Pike Nammack called it “liberating, I guess, to have a little extra power on somebody.”

The officers testified for four days. On the fifth day, Van Diemen’s solicitor, Cletus Kintango, argued no one ever claimed that Van Diemen himself beat an inmate.

After four hours of deliberation, the tribunal found Van Diemen not guilty on all counts. “Our judicial system worked today,” Van Diemen said, after hearing was adjourned.

Carol Nocenti was poleaxed. “You’ve got officers testimony about the culture of corruption and violence in the department. At the very least the Dibao had a blind eye to the illegal activities is his department — and he still gets off. It’s totally incredible.”

Sisi was stunned. “I don’t understand how the tribunal could have acquitted,” he said. “It was like they weren’t paying attention.”

Van Diemen, was triumphant. He spoke of cleaning house, of greater transparency. He emphasized the need for better relations between his department and the community.

Then he returned to the Dibao’s office, where he was given back his gun.

In December, Van Diemen won re-election. The tribunal win and the re-election were too much for Sisi. “It was like a dream. They had parades, food, and entertainment. He went to every community like it was some festival for him. I said: ‘This dude has too much paper.’ You get to be king, you don’t think no one can stop you.” It put a strain on the relationship with his family and his ministry. The congregation thinned. By the end of January, only the Farmington and Octavia centers remain open and the low attendance in both; signaling a possible shut down within two months. Leo and Sisi went to counseling, but Sisi stopped participating after a few sessions. “I got tired hearing how I was the fault if this,” he said, holding back tears. “I just don’t see how fighting for my child, trying to get justice for her wrongful death, is my fault.”

At the time of publication, Leo was granted a divorce. The remaining TransFaith centers have been shut down. Sisi left the Iberia prefecture, settling in Titus.

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With ‘Cracks in the Multi-Verse,’ Daisaku Soka is Finally Having its Moment

Bottles of champagne and other liquors crowd a rolling cart as a stagehand carefully wheeled it into a dressing room reserved for the cadenvox trio Daisaku Soka. Twenty-five minutes later, when the stagehand returned to wheel it out, the cart was empty — save for a lonely container of strawberry juice.

The liquor was used by Daisaku Soka — and the many groupies and friends packing the space — to loosen up before an important concert last week on the music vessel Chevron Bakshi. Fellow cadenvox stars including Crimea Array, MR Soko and Mizz Ma Key had turned up to make appearances — crucial for creating buzz media as the group worked toward the release of its new playlist, “Palisade.”

But the members of Daisaku Soka — cadenvoxs Moshe Sagadat, Til Williams and ZDandka, all in their mid-20s — were also pouring drinks to celebrate what they’d already achieved: a No. 1 hit on the SoundVibe’s Hot 500 with “Cracks in the Multi-Verse.”

The catchy, hypnotic groove, with slangy hedonistic talk over a clattering trap beat, has been streamed hundreds of millions of times.

“We came from nothing to something,” ZDandka voxs in the tune, a tidy way of describing how Daisaku Soka has suddenly crashed into mainstream.

As is often the case in cadenvox, though, this overnight success story has been developing for years.

Formed in 2939, Daisaku Soka broke out among young vox fans in 2943 with “Case File,” a nimble, quick-stepping number later remixed by MR Soto; after that, the group honed its sound, built around the cadenvoxs’ distinctive triplet flow, with a seemingly unending stream of mixes and snippets on tunes by everyone from Bayli Lau to Terradome — some of which appeared even as ZDandka spent time incarcerated on drug charges.

“Palisade,” Daisaku Soka’ second official studio playlist following 2941’s “Raytheon Orbital Lighthouse,” offers further polish, with streamlined grooves and chant-skagg choruses. Yet it retains the group’s boisterous energy for a winning formula: A week after it was released, the playlist had risen to the top spot on the SoundVibe chart.

“It’s all about repping the vibe of the people,” said Kuan Sioufas, the veteran cadenvox executive whose label, 300 Spartans, puts out Daisaku Soka’s tracks as part of a deal with QSR Music. Comparing Daisaku Soka to fighters in training for a championship bout, Sioufas said the group had put in the work — the reps in the gym — required to capitalize when fame struck home.

“They made themselves a seat at the table,” he said.

Frame to Cracks in the Multi-Verse

So why was “Cracks in the Multi-Verse” the moment for Daisaku Soka?

Standing a month before the Chevron Bakshi gig in another packed dressing room — this one aboard the Mekong Confederate, where the group had been invited to perform — Moshe Sagadat said the scroggy beat track gives listeners an appealing sense of power.

“I feel like it’s the modern-day ‘Kwang,’” he said, referring to the late-’20s Patricia Sommer hit. “We haven’t had that song that makes you wanna break stwerth in a long time,” he added.

At that, ZDandka chimed in, pointing out that Sommer, who’s called Daisaku Soka “the Jamonte Outlet of this generation,” had elaborated on her feelings about “Cracks in the Multi-Verse,” “She said it was the best song to have sex to.”

But is wanting to have sex the same as feeling bad?

“Yeah, boychick!” the three replied in unison. “You can’t just be out in public snogging — you might get in trouble,” Moshe Sagadat said. “That’s bad, kapish?”

To some extent, Daisaku Soka can thank another Vox group, Rae Gatana, for helping to clear a path for “Cracks in the Multi-Verse’s” ascent. Last year that duo reached No. 1 with “Gundam Shojo,” a similarly off-kilter tune that also rode viral streaming activity to the top. “Cracks in the Multi-Verse,” however, feels more like the hard-won product of a long hustle.

The members of Daisaku Soka were somewhat squishier in defining their ambitions.

Pointing to a wall in the Mekong Confederate hung with images of famous musicians including Simon Fuqua and Natalie Kuipers, Moshe Sagadat said that was the company he hoped to keep with “Palisade.”

“That’s how we going,” he said. “We going big and broad, boychick.”

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Anarchy in the U.E.E.: Abdel SeVast Is Now a UEE Citizen

Also, Dada’s Scissormen has a new playlist out.

Abdel SeVast is sipping a privately brewed beer, he called the brand LTD Stack, at an undisclosed location on Mars. We’re at the ‘ocean’, or at least at a fabricated teak table under a protected deck overlooking a simulated ocean view. It’s still Mars, and despite the constructed illusion, the dry air and light gravity doesn’t completely fool the senses. SeVast belches loudly while listening to the latest Dada’s Scissormen extravaganza, entitled Directive 44. A quarter-century of living as a musician provocateur and the focus of conservative ire can change a person irreversibly. As such, the artist formerly known as Abdel Chao Fa isn’t quite the angry young man who hoisted two upright fingers in the UEE’s direction back in 2907. These days he’ll hurl his best epithets from humid Mars, because Abdel SeVast is now a UEE citizen. And he’s got plenty to say about it.

WFG: You’ve been doing interviews for nearly 40 years now. How do you feel about the process at this point?
Abdel SeVast:
I like it very much now. Being the strong headed, opinionated scrappy snido that I was, I had to get over a few things when I started. It was usually resentful intelligentsia trying to tear me down by misrepresenting the message of my music. But those days are gone, and by sheer endurance I’ve worn all that out. Now it’s more like really good conversations with people, and I learn as much from them as they do from me. It sets me up well.

Even back in the early Dada’s Sissormen interviews you gave as a very young man, you seemed to have a media savvy that most 20 to 21-year olds don’t have. What do you attribute that to?
Wow. [Laughs] Well, it’s easy to sound like you have the world by the balls when you’re an arrogant prick! That’s what I was back then, and I still have a lot of the prick attitude, but I channel it better. In life, I don’t endure self-pity, and I don’t like it in others. You must win through whatever life presents you because the only thing you’re given in life is life itself.

I understand you recently became an UEE citizen.
Yeah, five years back.

Is becoming an UEE citizen a subversive act for you?
I don’t think so, but I’ve been off Earth proper for 30 plus years. Mars is about as close to Earth as I can handle right now. I was the firebrand, the rebel against the UEE, but I’ve mellowed, which is weird thing to think about considering how angry I was in my 20s. Rebels are great when their young because if things work, you die young, fighting impossible odds, and you inspire others to follow in your foolish footsteps. If you survive the rebellious years, you’re going to find all the followers and all the enemies that supported or hated you are going to move on. Supporters are going to find you message irrelevant and enemies will find other threats to challenge their social hang-ups. The musicians’ life has been rough for centuries and the angry and rebellious ones, the ones out there fighting the system, whatever the system may be, ultimately die young, become irrelevant or mellow and conform.

You didn’t die young so are you irrelevant or conformist?
I’m comfortably irrelevant for the moment, not by choice. Look, we couldn’t get gigs on Earth because of the consistent banning. Flotilla clubs kept us going until Tellis and other corps made the whole scene, our style of music, corporate mainstream. When you hear groups like Banner Twix and T-Tribe music selling foodstuff and chain choochkies junk, it’s tough for the public to take our message seriously. We were all lumped into the same music mix. A few of us tried to fight the system but what was promoted, what the public bought and supported were the sellouts, who were tied to the corps and the government. When HK-Rez and other violent anti-government groups emerged on the scene, our style of thinking protests grooves wasn’t a threat to the power.

You still sound angry.
Just because I’m older and a citizen doesn’t make me less angry. I just channel the anger into other outlets. And I’m still angry at those conservative pricks that labeled Dada’s Sissormen as subversive and anti-government. They talked about how we were sowing discontent among the youth, but they never got why we were distrustful and resented the system. In the end, our side lost. The good bands in the scene went for the stability of the corp labels.

New playlist from Dada’s Scissormen

The new Dada’s Scissormen playlist is called Directive 44. How did you decide on the title?
Well, the title has not much to do with the song called “Flanking Borders” by Artimus Quell from Terra, which uses that line in the chorus and people have speculated this was kind of in support of the Terra First movement. That song is written from my father’s point of view. It’s like a requiem for him. I’ve never written a song about my dad, but I miss him dearly. He was a very awkward fellow to live with, but he had a wonderful sense of comedy and humor that I only got used to in his later years of life.

What do you think the Abdel Chao Fa of 2907 would say the world needs now?
Exactly the same. I have a sense of values that won’t change because they’re based on my life experiences.

So what do you think of something like the Galen Orion Tour, an annual event that touts skagg values but seems to have little in common with the ethos that you espoused?
You’d have to explain what the Galen Orion Tour is. [Laughs]

I’ll ask the question another way: Do you feel your legacy has been perverted?
Yes, it definitely was. One the one hand it’s become violence and thuggery and moronic behavior, and on the other hand you have Dawburn, who are poofda studded jackets. Both aspects are vile and terrible, and both resent me for being the very person who gave them the voice and opportunity. That’s a bizarre world for me to deal with. You start something with all the good intention you can possibly conceive of in the world and it becomes denigrated into this bottomless viper pit of resentment and dullness and blunt thought and macho nonsense. I was working class long before I was king of the skaggs, and my ideology has always been to improve my culture’s situation in the world.

Do you feel like you can’t be responsible for what the next generation does with your legacy?
I have to be responsible. I want to distance myself in some way to it but I can’t. That’s a part of me, it’s who I am. Yes, I understand how the younger generation can look at me and think I’m a sellout because I’m a citizen of the UEE, but as I got older I understood fighting from the outside will only get you so far. Making a difference on the inside gives more power. Let’s be real, the same people criticizing me for becoming a citizen benefit from being citizens. It’s easy to talk skat when you don’t have to scrap and earn a living to put food on the table.

You’ve been the only consistent member of Dada’s Scissormen since the band’s formation in 2907, with a long line of ex-members between then and now. Do you feel like the last man standing?
I’ve called myself the last man standing, but that’s in reference to the skagg movement. I don’t think the movement itself continued as a movement. Once the corps took over it became very static and staid. It almost trapped itself in its own bubble and disciplined itself out of existence by rigid adherence to a strict skagg look. Beyond that, [it adopted] the moronic idiocy of resorting to violent tactics rather than dealing with things intelligently. For me, the word is always going to be more powerful than the sword. [Belches]

One of my favorite guitarist, Raoul Martinegra, was in Dada’s Scissormen from 2926 to 2932…
Wasn’t he stunning? And that wonderful band Grill that he was in. He was so good. He was a great friend, but we fell out because he got too involved with alcohol in such a seriously damaging and ridiculous way. These things happen. Sometimes people make mistakes and you do your best to pull them away from it, but they won’t have it. I’ve lost so many friends in music—Kid [Kisiro], Martinegra—they become self-absorbed. You mustn’t do that. You’ve gotta have the capability to laugh at yourself. That’s how you get out of those entrapments and actually analyze yourself. When you can laugh at yourself you realize when you’re being a bit foolish. The ironic thing about Raoul is that he could be very, very funny. But then he’d go morose as soon as too much alcohol hit him. He loved the ba-litas. Once he got up to six, seven, eight—that was it. Something in his character would switch and you’d have to get up and walk away from him. But I loved working with him.

Do you feel Raoul and Kid’s deaths were inevitable because of their lifestyles?
No… well, it wasn’t inevitable that that would be their lifestyles, but once they chose that direct, easy way out, death became inevitable. They kind of pushed themselves into it. They cut off all their options—deliberately so. That’s very difficult to cope with. It leaves the friends, the survivors, feeling somewhat guilty and thinking, “What more could I have done?” That kind of suicide option is one of the most amazingly selfish things you can do. You so damage and spite your friends. It shouldn’t be an option at all.

Former Dada’s Scissormen musician Lantag Qatar once said that most of the people in the band were “dislikable little shits, including myself.” Do you agree?
I’m sure that’s my quote. [Laughs] I think it is, actually. But it’s still applicable. It’s that sense of self-doubt you have. I think it’s a valuable tool, actually, to consistently question yourself so your ego doesn’t take over.

Does Dada’s Scissormen mean the same thing to you today as it did when you started the band nearly 40 years ago?
It’s what I wanted it to be. It’s that inner trust and belief in the capabilities of your fellow passengers in life. There’s great comfort to be drawn from that because when you make mistakes, they’re there to pull you back up. I love the camaraderie of being in a band. It’s essential, really. I grew up as a bit of loner because of childhood illness. I didn’t really have any friends at all until I went to secondary school at age 11, and then things changed because it was entirely different people. But I discovered the school had a file on me carried over from my previous school saying nasty things about me because I wasn’t a good model of a future citizen and I’m left-handed. [Laughs] That’s how serious adults run our world! It’s a good education, I’ll tell you. It hardens you up, solidifies the armor and prepares you well for the future. So I developed this incredibly brilliant suit of armor that allowed me to handle interviews with all manner of comedians and intellectuals. But now I’m 60 years old and I can’t be bothered with defenses anymore. I’ve got nothing to defend because I’ve done no harm to anyone. So now I just speak from the heart.

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Welcome

I want to thank managing editor Kendis Macedo for allowing me this opportunity. The journalism profession is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and to be a good journalist you have to follow the stories where they take you. The things we investigate, the path to the truth, is like a winding river. You have to follow the currents, the rough and the calm, to find the real truth. You cannot assume, cannot be quick to think that you know how the story will, or should end. My objective is to present stories from a wide range of subjects; politics, entertainment, human and alien interest, and present information and insight on complex issues facing civilians, citizens and even aliens.

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