Love in the time of (political) cholera.

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I was living in downtown Oakland California when Barack Obama won his first presidency. I was sitting at my computer hitting refresh on CNN every few minutes, waiting, waiting, waiting for the inconceivable to happen. Would a black man really sit in the most important of chairs? Would he put his coffee on the most hallowed of desks? Would a black hand hold the pen that had the power change the world with its ink?

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I didn’t need to look at the computer screen to know when the results came in. I felt it. The vibration in the air built slowly in to a wild frenzy, the streets filled up with hooting and hollering, the town levitated. I have never in my life experienced the energy of an entire city in a state of joy. It was unbelievable. It was victory for a community that had never won, had never looked at a man of power and seen their own reflection in his determined but weary face. I will never forget what the streets of Oakland gave to me that night. The memory has and will continue to sustain me in times of confusion and loss. It held my head up in November when people voted with hatred and fear not heart, it moves my feet forward when the road ahead is so badly lit and it gives me precious hope today as my country does it’s damnedest to rip itself apart, limb from limb. I have seen how powerful we can be when united over love, I know what we are capable of when our arms are linked and our hearts are sure.

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Over the past year I have culled a certain type of person from my life. I unfollowed, unfriended and divorced myself from the people that started showing signs of supporting Trump and those like him. Rather than engage in discourse (however heated) when they posted or said the frightening crap that is now commonplace, I just cut them out. In hindsight this was a terrible mistake. I stood on the tracks and refused to look in the direction of the coming trains, somehow thinking that kind hearted truth would prevail. What I didn’t know was that truth had become so fluid, murky and fleeting, like the smoke from a trash fire.

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I was not the only one that allowed the election results take me by surprise. I sat smugly in the echo chamber of my curated life, so sure that ignorance wouldn’t win. And I was wrong. Not just concerning what was about to come but that those who facilitated it were purposely ignorant or nasty. Yes, the loud and hateful few that pushed the alt-right agenda and it’s yucky counterparts are comfortably ignorant, that is a fact. And damn nasty to boot. But the rest of those people did what they did because they could see no other way. Just like the people of 2008 Oakland, the states filled with our disenfranchised, poverty stricken Americans, felt so removed from the shiny prosperity that everyone but them seems to enjoy. Is it really that surprising that a reality tv star would seem so appealing to so many? He speaks their language, plays on their fears, offers that quick, unbelievable fix that so many crave. The demographic that supports Trump is largely poor and undereducated, two things that when put together equal desperation.

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It is a twisted and strange thing to me, this elevating of such a crass and obvious liar, but when all the cards are laid out, I understand how it happened. When quicksand is slowly swallowing ones life, it is hard to blame the person who takes a hand from the devil. Choices that are made in desperation tend to be ill informed. Albert Einstein said, “An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.” There are many ways to go hungry in America.

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As Trump continues to populate his White House with crooks, morons and oddities, each one more rank than the last, we the people hold our breath. Even his staunch supporters look on with confused expressions, refusing to make eye contact, that cocksure posture beginning to slump. America has become the most watched reality tv show ever, all of us waiting to see who gets voted off the island. We’ve been punked. We’ve been slimed. We are a laughing stock. What on Gods green earth do we do now? The only thing that America has ever had in spades in foolish pride. So let us use it now. Let us take pride in our land, the vast stretching glory of northern America proper. There are immediate battles that can be fought by us here and now. Some have watched and some participated in the stand off against the DAPL. Most recently 500 veterans were called to create a human barrier between police and water protector, 2,000 showed up and within a day the POTUS handed down what I think of as a stay after months of peaceful resistance. Information continues to surface concerning the ETP’s plan on ignoring the ruling but in the mean time, victory. How sad it is that we have to fight so hard to wrest American soil from a such bloody, greedy hands? But we did and we will. Together. Standing Rock is proof positive that united we achieve the impossible. There is power in small groups with pride, however foolish, in our country.

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Whether we like it or not, our eyes are open now. We see how our flyover states have been ignored, how we have stopped truly seeing the people around us, the needy, the uneducated. If for some reason you don’t understand how we got here then I suggest taking the time and figuring it out. We owe each other that much. It is our great privilege to be citizens in a country that baked the pursuit of happiness in to our constitution. A part of that right is responsibility to the country as a whole, not just the prosperous parts. And we’ve failed at that. But we are not beyond saving. I look around me and I see the peaceful protests at Standing Rock. I see woman protecting other women from harassment and ribald assault. I see good men doing their part in this battle as well. I see the hard war on black lives coming under the spotlight. And for the first time in so very long, I see people not looking the other way.

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It’s not perfect, it still needs so much work but we the people can drop the foolish part and feel the pride alone. The kind of pride that comes from participating, from helping, from understanding and most importantly, from forging unity where there was none. I felt so frustrated, so lost in all of this until I forced myself in to action. There are so many things that we can do when we work together. Be it locally, globally or somewhere in between. We are so powerful when we unite. Let’s take comfort in that. Let’s get to work. Let’s fill the streets with the energy of love and the pride of a people together as one.

Battle Cry

I have been meaning to do a little something on here about our political scene at the moment.  Every time I log on with the intention to do so I realize that I really don’t have anything new or unique to say on the topic.  The outlandish amount of ‘memes’ and the like concerning our presidential candidates are suffocating.   The Romney/Ryan ticket is, well, a one way ticket back in time.  The Obama/Biden ticket is weather worn and riddled with disenfranchised head bowing.  Neither have much a leg to stand on at best and at worst, both have a nearly insurmountable pile shit waiting like a bloated dead body in the oval office.  I am at the point where I just hope that I don’t loose my right to choose what I do with my vagina.  The bar on our civil liberties is so low at this point that I can only hope to be able to slip one unruly pubic hair underneath it.   It is an alien feeling, this hemming in of collective social and intellectual growth.  The country that I was raised in was racing towards racial and sexual equality, higher education, and freedoms aplenty.  And though I am loathe to hop on the fear bandwagon, I won’t deny an icky feeling of worry is setting in.  I know how powerful our country is when united on a topic.  I also know that we are being fed so many tasty bits of distraction so as to prevent any kind of oneness amongst us.  It is hard to not think that there is a bigger animal orchestrating a coup of not only our government proper but of our humanity as well.  It used to be live and let live.  Now we feast on each others differences, using the carnage as a reason to withdraw further in the splinter cells of ignorance.  Why in this day do we even speak of marriage as some sacred union under god?  It was a shame that our parents barely suffered through, like theirs before them.  My generation is trying to take a broken, empty hearted institution and give it some new life.  Shake off all of the detritus of yore and marry the person you love.  What a miracle of life that this crusty, almost meaningless idea has been given a second chance by a group of people who are willing to fight for the right to marry?  It is this battle that has reminded me why someday I want to walk the isle.  Because god knows I wasn’t inspired to marriage by the lack luster shams that I grew up witness to.

We go forward with technologies that cleave us from our fellow man, we rocket untold monies into space while the future cosmonauts sit in stuffed classrooms with ancient books and one harried teacher, we sit by while talking puppets convince us to hate the hillbillies in the south or the liberal faggots in the north,  we turn off our compassion because we are told it will do no good.  When I close my eyes and the veil falls I way I am reminded that through us runs a common thread.  We as women fought for our freedoms, we as men armed ourselves and died to preserve our freedoms, we as the young generations pushed and pushed until our music rang out, our sexuality ran sweetly through the streets, our dreams were allowed to burn so bright that the sound of freedom heated up every breath.  I am tired of fighting but that doesn’t mean that the battle is won.  We are all tired.  But this is when it matters the most.  We have got to keep pushing or every inch will be taken by back by the angry lonely souls who see nothing but silver and gold.  This is our battlefield, this is our fucking house, and I will not sit by, sedated by rhetoric, and watch it burn.  You don’t need to grab a pitchfork and march on city hall, though the sight would bring me joy.  What you need to do is pick a fight with any motherfucker out there that even thinks of messing with your humanity or the humanity of your neighbor.  We have been fighting for our rights since the first ship hit the shores of America.  Nothing has changed.  And we will keep fighting.  Because our freedoms were, are, and always will be worth it.  Get off your computers, go outside, and show some kindness to someone who needs it.  Especially if that someone is not like you.

Scared Money Don’t Make Money…..

 

How do you feel?  Are you scared?

 

The thought was that we are swimming and consistently drowning in black times and I am by and large over the propaganda that accompanies it.  I suppose that I do want to know what is going on out there….far, far beyond the Wyoming skyline.  I do.  I am proud that “occupy” is a word on the lips of my peers.  And sadly, I am slightly interested in the happenings of our crystal tower entombed leaders.  I am just worn down by the fact that every stitch of news paper/news casting is a hooded, scythe-wielding harbinger of apocalypse.

You know that thing that happens when you hear some saying frequently it becomes apart of your fact lexicon?  Here’s one of mine…the human heart/mind can only truly feel one genuine thing completely at a time.  And if that emotion is sadness or fear or some other heavy thing, that is what you are in that moment.   I also believe that you can change how you’re experiencing life by insisting on contentment.  Changing things requires effort, patience, and guts.  But it also wants a bit of blind faith and unrequited love.  I thrive when surrounding myself with hopeful, brave people and things.  Beauty insists that I nurture beauty and delight compels me to share delight.  Perhaps if our needs were a touch simpler and our reach, though smaller than we had hoped, was a circle that can be seen from the comfort of our happy homes…shoot.  Who knows?  I just want to enjoy my life, not sightlessly, but clearly and without the fear that is piped into our heads every day by a people that’s only job is to scare me into voting/fighting/believing in and for men that can only call greed a friend.

We all contribute in our own ways.  We do this by letting our feelings show.  I come by way of fun, beauty, struggle, and language.  How did you get here?  Where are you going?  But most importantly, how do you feel?

I feel inspired.

I feel mystified.

I feel naughty.

I feel gangster as fuck.

I feel too big for this world.

I feel like an outlaw.

I feel angry.

I feel ready.

I feel a piece of the whole.

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The word on everyone’s lips this past weekend was rapture.  We (and by we I mean the bustling township of Notcrazyville) waited for that sweet moment when we could join voices and sing out, “ITOLDYOUSO!”  But here’s the thing.  It didn’t really feel that great.  All I could think about was all of these people sitting on their stoops in the Sunday best clutching a suitcase, waiting.  It is the worst kind of stand up.  You wait and wait, the sun is going down, he’s late.  He will be here.  He promised. He invited you, not the other way around.  Is he testing you?  Did he find someone better to go with?  I guess self loathing and flagellation are the cornerstone of Christianity, so it makes sense that these people seek this kind of mind fuck.   Good ole doomsayers and their trusty flock.  Life in the flesh isn’t really that bad people, sheesh!  Why is there this subsect of society that is constantly waiting for our demise?  Why do they need a end point to this wacky journey?  Part of me wanted something to happen, anything, so that they would get what they wanted.

I will be the first to admit that there are countless levels to our world and the dimensions around us.  I know that I will get there when I am ready and that when I do it will be beautiful.  Still, I refuse to crap on this world so as to earn a spot in the next.  The old adage, to each his own, is the only thing worth saying at this point.  I wish the best for those folks and when they shoot up to the sun I hope that they are prepared for the heat.  Go up/down/sideways to where ever your Elysium may be and let us lead foot pagans keep hoeing our row.  The fantastic mystery of this life is not the one found in mouth of men.  It is the quiet song in our blood and the root that connects us to each other.  I’m cool with that.

Now
That
All your worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.
— Hafiz

Seven falls, eight getting up

The footage from Japan is mind numbing and gut wrenching all at once, if that is even possible.  I want to cry, run, hide, fight, flip the fuck out.   That village that was washed into the sea is now being spit out by that same merciless drink, the dead floating onto the beaches they fished in life but one day ago.  The horror I feel at seeing the headlines of this tragedy sandwiched between the inane one liners of Charlie Sheen is beyond explanation.  There is no need to wallow in the miseries of the world but there is also no good reason to fan the flames of empty celebrity in the name of entertainment.  Let us reward the do betters with our attention and leave the babbling babies to their dirty diapers and tantrums.  Trade TMZ for TED.  If we ignore them they will go away.  I promise.

If the sights and sounds of Japan’s nightmare hasn’t made this clear to you yet, I will reiterate:  Be ready, be loving, be kind, be fair, and remind the ones you love that you will be all of these things for them, forever.

I hear you knocking

I have this friend who consistently chastises me for not taken the bedraggled body of our world seriously enough.  She tells me that I am blind to the state of affairs outside of my door.  She’s right.  The windows to my soul point up not out and my door stays firmly closed against the rising tides of despair.  There is this constant onslaught of information, some of which keeps me current, the rest of which makes me want to grab a razor.  It’s like pricking a hole in a balloon, the air doesn’t just squeak out, the whole thing blows up in your face.  Scaring you half to death and leaving you without a balloon to fly away on.    As I do my best to keep the worlds troubles at a manageable trickle, I am taken by the need to balance it with things that comfort me.  Like teen love movies and Jodeci.   (I will not apologize for being nostalgic, so don’t even bother.)  So today, on a day when the world is heaving with revolution and Portland is (embarrassingly) having a snow crisis, let us find some joy in something aside from self mutilation.   In reference to the media deluge that you are faced with……

Just remember, when you dance with the devil, you don’t change the devil, the devil changes you.

It is amazing how great photography eliminates the need for editing.  You can’t confuse talented camera work with photoshop.   Some photogs worth checking out- Ellen Rogers, Saga Sig, Sally Mann, Elliot Lee Hazel, Imogen Cunningham…all of which will be shown on this blog ad nauseaum.

I never tire of female nudity, flesh, paint, or painted flesh…

Or pretty geometry.