Monthly Archive for July, 2018

small reviews

this summer has been a series of close and distant struggles interspersed with a life of immense joy. here are some things i am enjoying:

Atlanta: The exploration of cool and uncool, making it and failing, safety and danger…this show goes so far and gives me a comfort in how uncomfortable and honest it’s willing to be.

Attack on Titan: Anime heaven. High drama, low logic, fly strange pacing, more questions than answers.

The Call podcast: great conversations with dope women. The lastest interview is with the homey Samhita!

High as Hope, new album from Florence and the Machine: I love how big and dramatic their music is in general. This album had lines that felt big, tender, and perfectly tuned to this moment in time. “oh/Jesus Christ/it hurts”, “grace/I know you carry us/grace/it was such a fucking mess/grace/I don’t say it enough/grace/this is the only thing I have any faith in”, “remind me that it’s such a wonderful thing to love”, “give me arms to pray with, instead of ones that hold too tightly”, “the loneliness never left me/I always took it with me/but I can put it down in the pleasure of your company”…and then these bits on the changing planet, changing climate, on safety, on morality, on surrender, that just feel perfectly timed, and perfectly sung. Florence gives me satisfaction in my Stevie Nicks place, epic witchy truth telling music. Florence sings in the scales of oceans and gods, both vocally and topically. She floods me with feeling.

The King is Always Above the People, stories from Daniel Alarçon: the homey has always written incredible stories and continues his legacy here, dancing in and out of his own history with touches of fiction and emotional, uncomfortable truths.

Lamp Lit Prose, new album from Dirty Projectors: I’m glad I listened to this album on a plane without distractions. Dirty Projectors is one of my favorite bands when I’m in a quirky soulful place. This album may be their most political to date, with songs about zombie apocalypse and “monsters eating their young” interwoven with dynamic and compelling love songs. They have lots of pretty sounds from their mouths, but continually choose to juxtapose those sounds creatively instead of resting in the beauty. They keep my attention.

M Archive, by Alexis Pauline Gumbs: AAAAAHHHHHH. I blurbed this book, and it’s only been out a couple months and I had to read it again because it’s that excellent. Visionary. Prophetic. Beautiful. Matter of fact. So good. Honest.

Pho, Ari Lennox: this is a sweet sexy album. lovely voice, cuddling lyrics.

Queen Sugar: I keep yelling Oh Shit at the screen when I’m watching this season. I love the ways they are adding layers to these characters.

Steven Universe, Vol 1: This show has amazing songs. This show is amazing. The degree to which people appreciate Steven Universe is a new measure for how much I can really like said people.

Scorpion, Drake: KIKI! There’s a lot of great music here. I felt personally invited into this album by the sample selections – Mariah, Lauryn, Big Freedia, MJ. He could use editing, but not because there’s bad stuff. There’s good stuff and great stuff, and he leaves a lot of that good stuff in, which keeps this from being a great album. My cut: Nonstop, Emotionless (that sample! that social media critique! line “hiding the world from my kid” line!), God’s Plan (he’s beefing at the level of karma), I’m Upset!, Sandra’s Rose (the beat is just rich and lovely), I’d There More (Drake on the edge of a meditation retreat), Peak, Summer Games (that 80s glamor shot space movie beat), Nice for What? (twerkfection – pleasure music for working women? yes, still on repeat), In My Feelings, Finesse, Ratchet Happy Birthday (I would just call it Drake Happy Birthday cause it’s not really ratchet), That’s How You Feel (I like the wordplay, the Nicki snippets, just the combative energy), Don’t Matter to Me, After Dark (I love all of this song, levels of love), Final Fantasy (bedroom threats) first half, March 14 (journal entries).

plus: seeing Janelle Monae in concert was great… her stepping into her queer sexy idol self is impressive and endearing.

plus: seeing The Carters in concert with my sisters was exquisite. I wasn’t sure how the narrative would land on me, but I was moved to tears and rooting for them and screaming and loved the surprises and the movie they made alongside the concert.

“kindness eases change” for real

dear aliens-unseen-and/or-beyondhumans-and-spirits/gods/deities-and-other-benevolent-entities-aware-of-this-planet,

it’s probably selfish to ask for your help. you may only know my planet from its space garbage or psychic toxicity. nonetheless, today would be a good day for some advice or intervention.

this morning i witnessed a white man screaming at a black man in detroit. i was preparing to give a brief talk, so i finished it with Octavia’s words, “kindness eases change”…how did she know this? and how do we practice this with those who are not practicing?

i was born in the US and in my lifetime it has not much improved as an experiment in coexistence. mostly it’s been this same type of black and white interaction, with different clothing on. there’s a constant turning away from each other, competing against each other, harming each other for complex reasons and then not growing beyond the harm.

our planet is gorgeous and fecund, but my species is swallowing everything with greed based consumption practices and crowding the biodiversity out of existence. and then we try and come together, sometimes the pressures of the world push us down until we explode.

i am thinking a lot about what kind of freedom is available for sentient beings, and, in a separate but connected part of me, wondering if sapience always has to move us away from freedom because something about being able to think leads to control behaviors. almost everyone i hear talking about freedom is simultaneously proposing an alternative system of control. perhaps we have strayed too far from freedom in our evolution, and it will take many generations to remember how to be wild.

how long is long enough? how long is too long? are we on time?

i’m sending this message to you through many minds, because my comrades and i do not have access to the space range communication devices on our planet. or confirmation of most things we would need to know to send this message to you, such as your existence. still, i write this, and others will read it and it will become a small part of collective consciousness. and i suspect that any species more evolved than us will have the capacity to know what the collective consciousness knows.

how do we get through this? how do we keep going when it’s really very hard and overwhelming?

there are many ways to look at history, one way is as a scroll of suffering. i wouldn’t want to live at a time before this, even though it’s all going to shit right now. perhaps it is my limited imagination, or my ego, which thinks i am more free than my ancestors were, more connected.

i am tired of the story of suffering, of being defined and sorted and gathered and deepened by shared suffering.

i am many kinds of people, and i want us all to get a cosmic, psychic, material break. i think we need a breath in between all the cancer and breakdowns and trauma and bad leadership and kidnapped children and racism and hatred.

i will speak for me, i need a break.

so how do we generate boundaries that don’t become borders? how do find the balance between the self and the collective – how do we learn how full our cups should be in order to have enough to share without getting empty, without constant spilling?

all i’m really saying is we’re tired, i’m tired and i often feel like that’s not allowed. but it’s for the whole species, i’m tired like a velociraptor.

how do we be tired and stagger ourselves and get humble and make our small offers valiantly and with joy? how do we grieve without losing sight of life?

how do we become a species worth keeping?

all answers welcome…i’m sure you aliens-unseen-and/or-beyondhumans-and-spirits/gods/deities-and-other-benevolent-entities-aware-of-this-planet will channel it back through human mouths and fingers and i am open to it, i need it.

thanks,
amb

star wars and summer

yesterday i went to the star wars costume exhibit at the detroit institute of the arts and i highly recommend it. i would tell you all about it but it’s actually important, as a fan, to say that the best part was just standing close to the actual things that they wore, to just feel the force in all of these small items, to look at the puppets and the wool and the dresses and say thanks for shaping me. so go if you can, it’s up until september!

this summer i am writing a ton of things and may not be able to post too often. i am really learning about my introvert nature this year, the place in me that just needs quiet time. i am naming it here and with loved ones because i have no intention to let people down or be anti-social. i am actually with people so deeply, i am in the most nourishing intimacies i have ever experienced. this period of my life is all about staying available to something much larger than myself, and staying quiet enough to hear it.

but i do want to encourage people to:

– rest whenever you can, deeply and well. act as if you can store up sleep and you need as much stored up as you can get.

– reflect on what the longest-term commitments of your life are, and see if you need to make any adaptations in order to actually center those commitments in your daily life. don’t put it off, don’t wait on answering your calling.

– have a summer that feels like a pleasure and a celebration as an act of resistance against an administration that seems to want to break us with misery. tap into childhood fun self, get a kids swimming pool even if you’re an adult, count lightning bugs, watch sunsets, make out in summer rainstorms, go someplace you have never been, even if it’s in your same town, eat ice cream, wear booty shorts, cultivate your joy.

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