Monthly Archive for October, 2005

halloween weekend: a photo-journal

Kathy_and_daniDsc01149TattoosA_streak_of_shane

Dsc01170here we have kathy and dani in the spot for some friday
night richard pryor watching, then me and paola trying
to stay warm, then an art shot of some tattoos, then
shane sliding down the escalator at atlantic avenue after
we went to see the naked boys exhibit at the museum of sex.

SofiaAnd_shanes_handGet_downKathy_y_shane

Mistra_clearyhere we have sofia in the cold, shane’s whole life, and
then we move to dani’s party to see sharda gettin hot,
kathy and shane laughing uproariously, and yahonnes
cleary tellin the truth. and below is halloween sunday,
i’ll let it all speak for itself:

Bratty_jersey_hoDsc01267Kathy_at_brunchDani_y_mandela

Dsc01316Noemi_goddamnSofia_gets_readyShane_acts_high

Dsc01341Dsc01343Dsc01342Dsc01346

Dsc01357Dsc01313Dsc01327Weekend_ova

her heart is full and hollow

sometimes, joni mitchell’s lyrics rip me to little pieces. there is this one song that, the first time i heard it, i sort of gasped and stopped moving, like i was being watched across time. some days it rings more true than others, days when i get dissed and pursued and heard and ignored in the span of brief hours. today, i share with you the lyrics to that song, called cactus tree:

There’s a man who’s been out sailing
In a decade full of dreams
And he takes her to a schooner
And he treats her like a queen
Bearing beads from california
With their amber stones and green
He has called her from the harbor
He has kissed her with his freedom
He has heard her off to starboard
In the breaking and the breathing
Of the water weeds
While she was busy being free

There’s a man who’s climbed a mountain
And he’s calling out her name
And he hopes her heart can hear three thousand miles
He calls again
He can think her there beside him
He can miss her just the same
He has missed her in the forest
While he showed her all the flowers
And the branches sang the chorus
As he climbed the scaley towers
Of a forest tree
While she was somewhere being free

There’s a man who’s sent a letter
And he’s waiting for reply
He has asked her of her travels
Since the day they said goodbye
He writes wish you were beside me
We can make it if we try
He has seen her at the office
With her name on all his papers
Thru the sharing of the profits
He will find it hard to shake her
From his memory
And she’s so busy being free

There’s a lady in the city
And she thinks she loves them all
There’s the one who’s thinking of her
There’s the one who sometimes calls
There’s the one who writes her letters
With his facts and figures scrawl
She has brought them to her senses
They have laughed inside her laughter
Now she rallies her defenses
For she fears that one will ask her
For eternity
And she’s so busy being free

There’s a man who sends her medals
He is bleeding from the war
There’s a jouster and a jester and a man who owns a store
There’s a drummer and a dreamer
And you know there may be more
She will love them when she sees them
They will lose her if they follow
And she only means to please them
And her heart is full and hollow
Like a cactus tree
While she’s so busy being free

YAY!!! YAY!!!

Scooter scooter scooter can’t you see
some times your guilt just sets my heart free
a brooklyn prosecutor set your ass on fire
and i hope the flames leap up higher and higher!

bup bup bup to irishman patrick fitzgerald who said, and i paraphrase:
‘i been hated on by republicans, hated on by dems, but i’m just doin
my job which is kickin ass and takin names!’ and since i am reading
it and not watchin it on tv i have the freedom to hear it in an irish
brogue!

so today one of those ass-kicked names was i. lewis libby, jr., the
vp’s chief of staff. and tho they didn’t get rove today, my man patty
says they can do more trials. three snaps for justice.

other things that brought me joy today:

i like to work in the green apple cafe on dekalb avenue sometimes, i
can get wireless and soup and its a little warmer than my house. EXCEPT
when men walk in the door. apparently something left out of the book on
"how to ackright fo’ mens" is the crucial lesson: ‘In The Winter When It Is
Cold And You Enter A Warm Space, You Close The Door Behind You
Quickly So The Heat Doesn’t Creep Out And The Cold Air Doesn’t Come
In And Cause Working Girls To Shiva!’ so today when the third dude walked
in and left the door open like karl rove’s dirty mouth, i sucked my teeth,
snapped my neck and glared at him, then the door, then back at him. he
sighed, rolled his eyes, and obeyed. sigh. glorious control! like kimora
says, ‘i will beat a bitch ass!’

AND

respectfully submitted by blogophile jd:
Anonymous sign at Anti-war Rally: Will someone just give him a blowjob
already so we can
impeach him??

AND

Live Long in the Closet:

Cpt.

Sulu, from Star Trek finally came out!
Yup, gay as a
buttered banana! Star Trek really was the great American
sci-fi!

AND

Don’t mess with texas except if mercury is in retrograde: George
‘Hellabad’ Bush is on fire, and by that I mean having a personal
Code
Red  week. The black folk have gone on record as completely
disapproving of
him, Harriet Miers demurely deferred the Supreme
Court nomination when the Christian
Right reminded her that they are
into hard core crucifixion films and did she
really wanna step to that?,
Cheney and Rove’s bedroom giggles came to an abrupt
halt with the
whole country sayin’ ‘hey, what’s that stain? somethin leakin?’, Castro

responded to the U.S. offer for aid like ‘talk to the hand cause the man
ain’t
listening’.

And finally, Madonna’s new video ‘Hung Up’ is an ode to dance and the
human body and all I can say is I am glad my tight pants are clean and
my boots are polished cause I’m shakin a tail feather or four this
weekend.

Here’s something for your mind and heart:

> Excerpt From:
>
> "The Last Hours of the Ancient Sunlight"
>
> by Thom Hartmann
>
> More recently, British scientist and author Rupert Sheldrake pointed
> out how animals often seem to behave in a non-local fashion. When a
> certain number of birds in England learned how to open the tops of
> milk bottles left out by milkmen in the 1930s, birds all over Europe
> suddenly began to do it.  The speed of the transmission of the
> behavior defied any possibility that one bird had traveled to another
> and taught it … and the English Channel added a further barrier, as
> these were not migrating birds.
>
> Consciousness, the new physics implies, brings the universe into
> existence, and consciousness is not confined to any one place.  One
> interpretation is that the universe is made of consciousness … and
> nothing else.
>
> This phenomenon of instantly shared remote knowledge, which Sheldrake
> calls morphic resonance, implies that humans can behave in a way
> analogous to Einstein and Bohr’s subatomic particles.  When enough
> people learn something new, suddenly there’s a snap or shift, a
> resonance in the human morphic field, and everybody is awake to the
> new information.  There are countless examples of this, from the speed
> with which jokes travel around the country to how cultures shift and
> change without apparent organization.
>
> You do change the world every day Thirty years ago, I spent a few days
> with a renegade Sufi teacher in San Francisco.  He described his
> notion of reincarnation, which I think is an interesting metaphorical
> analogy to how morphic resonance and non-locality imply that we’re all
> constantly changing the world.
>
> "When we die, he said, our consciousness dissolves into what he 
> called "the cosmic soup." All our thoughts, dreams, fears,
> experiences, and everything-it all goes into the soup-pot, forming "a
> huge cosmic goulash, with everybody mixed together with everybody
> else."
>
> When a new baby is born, he said, "the cosmic cook’
> picked up his ladle, reached into the cosmic soup-pot, and drew out
enough of the soup to fill a human body/soul.  This was poured into the
new human.
>
> It was an interesting concept, and I have no strong opinion one way or
> another on its validity.  However, I particularly like the meaning he
> drew from it.
>
> "Because we all come from the same soup," he said, "we all have an
> obligation to make the soup happier, lighter, better tasting.  Every
> thought we think and every action we take will eventually become the
> soup, and so be poured into one of our descendants.
> So our actions, our thoughts, our words-even the most seemingly
insignificant-are important."
>
> Looking at Einstein’s, Bohr’s, and Sheldrake’s work, however, the
> question arises, Why wait until we die to add to the soup?  In fact,
> all the available evidence, from physics to psychology to common
> sense, tells us that our actions now, today, this moment as you read
> this book, are influencing everything and everybody in creation.
>
> Practice small acts of anonymous mercy
>
> So where do we begin?
>
> In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out that when we do good
> works," we should do them without other people knowing that we did
> them.  This is a difficult task: you have to continually keep an eye
> out for such opportunities.
>
> Many people, looking at the enormity of all the problems facing the
> world, feel depressed, overwhelmed, and apathetic.
> They often give up.

> But there is great spiritual and cultural power in performing small
> acts of mercy.  They echo farther than most people realize, and begin
> a "morphic resonance" process of putting out into the air-in a way
> that becomes culturally contagious-the millions of small steps that
> must be taken worldwide to save our planet and our species.
>
> On some level, we are all connected.  When you save the life of
> another living being-even a worm or a weed-you are putting into the
> air the saving of lives.  Small acts of mercy are among the most
> transformational spiritual activities a person can engage in, which is
> probably why Jesus and those teachers and prophets before him
> repeatedly put such emphasis on them.
>
>   ~:~
>
> So we can now see that science is proving the existence of something
> it once thought disproved: the living nature of the universe and the
> interconnectedness of all things.  That in stepping back from the
> intrusions and distractions of our corporate-driven culture, and in
> reaching out to the divinity both within ourselves and within nature,
> we can find a power and purpose and deep meaning to life.  From this
> place, from this new vantage point, we can see the essential insanity
> of the witiko dominator lifestyle, and when enough people figure this
> out, we will turn around on the destructive road humanity is now
> following.
>
> But how many people need to know this?
>
> A flyer I received in the late 1990s from an organization that calls
> itself Only Love Prevails claims the number is a mere 80,000.  They
> suggest that people should respond to any negative event-personally or
> worldwide-by mentally chanting, "Only love prevails." When I asked
> Victor Grey, author of Web Without a Weaver and a member of the
> organization, where they came up with that number, he wrote me:
> "Physicists tell us that according to the laws of wave mechanics, the
> intensity of (any kind of) waves that are in phase with each other is
> the square of the sum of the waves.
>
> In other words, two waves added together are four times as intense as
> one wave, ten waves are one hundred times as intense, etc.  Since
> thought is an energy, and all energy occurs as waves, we believe that
> 80,000 people all thinking the same thing together are as powerful, in
> terms of creating the reality that we all share as the 6,400,000,000
> people (80,000 times 80,000) that will inhabit the planet around the
> turn of the century, in their random chaotic thought. Therefore,
> 80,000 people all believing only in love will be enough to change the
> planetary reality."
>
> Could it be?  Studies done by the Transcendental Meditation folks have
> demonstrated repeatedly that when a certain threshold of meditators is
> reached in a city, the citys crime rates suddenly drop. (Seven percent
> is the figure most often cited, although some groups claim as little
> as one percent.)
>
> But even if Victor and his organization are wrong in their numbers,
> there is still hope.  Ideas are the most powerful force in the human
> world: everything man-made originated with ideas.
> Our culture is an idea-the idea of domination-and it can awaken to,
> or remember, the idea of cooperation that humans lived out for millions
of years.
>
> So if you share these ideas with just one person every month, and each
> of them shares the ideas with one person a month, a rapid and profound
> multiplication of this view can spread across the world. When you do
> the math on this "one person a month’ sharing, you discover that
> within less than three years every human being alive over six billion
> people-could hear the message, see the vision, and feel the
> possibility of a better life.
>
> Whatever the number, there is a synergistic effect in human
> interactions.  The more people who think or believe a certain way, the
> more who will find it easy to think or believe that way.  The more
> acts of mercy performed, the more people will be inclined to act
> mercifully.

> The more people turn to searching for peace and divinity, the more
> will be found.

the random ??sssss

and now some questions of my own!

1. mr. tiny quick little roach – i keep no food in this house whatsoever, as i travel too often to cook and have no oven or stove on which to cook. so i must ask you, why the fuck are you in my house?

2. dear reproductive organs…historically, how come whenever i have an out of town visitor with whom i want to share special times, you begin the beautiful spiritual and much loved process of menstrual cleansing on the day of said visitor’s arrival? is this a sign? can you possibly more explicit, drop some of that feminine mystique?

3. blog readers – i didn’t know so many of you were into enemas, aka hydracolonics. that’s really special. i’ve heard a lot of exciting stories and now i feel really satisfied with my level of knowledge and i guess what i’m saying is stop now, stop sharing. its all good, i’m glad you’ve found what works for you. totally not a question, just something on my mind.

4. social emergency!! dani and tchaiko are having parties the same night. dani’s is her housewarming party for halloween, and tchaiko’s is her going away party for miami!the question of course is not do i go to both, but rather do i wear the same costume to both or stop by home and change in between? rob breszny said to dress as a butterfly in 9 shades of blue. maybe 4 shades at one and 5 at the other??

5. i had breakfast with my sister autumn this morning, really great times. we talked about how, as military brats, we’ve had to learn the skill of having friends over a long period of time. as kids, when it was about time to get annoyed by your best friend you’d just hug them, pack up your belongings and bounce to another country. have a good life! or at least a positive high school experience! now its like, all nuanced and deep and we both feel all known and its just clear that it takes work, any and all relationships take work. doh! question…what do you do when its time to break up?

6. dear goddess of intricate affairs…why come i am reading this really great book about a man going through rehab, and though i have dabbled with many things and recognize the edges of addiction on many sides of me, why come the only thought that comes up is my most recent heartbreaker? having resolved to not have one more disempowering experience with him (put the crack down) in which he spends my time perusing his life/thoughts/self/future (the drug doesn’t love you, it just wants your attention and commitment! or ANYone and EVERYone else’s!) we are now not speaking (accept what is, just say no, no means no. NO.) and its wonderful (horrible. wonderful. aches. in a good way!). i feel like i can see what actually exists (that drug is self-absorbed, underperforming, and will leave bags under your eyes, make you ashy and completely fuck up your memory!)…dear goddess, tell me one mo’ gain how love and addiction are separate but equal endeavors?

7. why am i so bored with the ny election, and so interested in cali’s special election, and the upcoming elections for louisiana, and the exit stage left of poor played out miers…i can so see her internal monologue – ‘great. i was an accomplished whatever the hell and now i’ll be known as the completely ridiculous nominee of a popularly disappointing trainwreck of a president. awesome god, just awesome.’ why can’t ny politics get mo’ relevant?

8. prezident brown is a reggae artist i got an email flyer for a few years ago and i saved his picture cause he looked so happy and lovely. while in oakland outside a thai restaurant i saw the same picture, but bigger, on a lamppost. i grabbed it down. the concert had passed, and i was gonna have that picture! (some other post may deal with the psychological background to my sense of material entitlement, which catches me off guard since i don’t have much, am anti-crap, but feel like if i want something i am hard pressed to not have it) sofia made me look him up and i didn’t like his music and some pictures showed him to be older than i thought. question…can the love survive reality??

9. am i more dedicated to my computer than i should be?

10. every aspect of who you are is formed before you are two. only children or kids with attentive parents for those two years have the chance to end up like me, wanting double or nothing and never satisfied. i’m glad to know that this, like my propensity towards drinking, men who act foul, my bossy/brattiness and my sense of social justice, all come from my parents. question…does this justify my polyemotionality?

lessons learned this week:

1. when i need to cry and be comforted, i turn into a brat who finds humor in picking on others. its infantile.

2. i might be a taoist. bigtime. will kee y’all posted on this!

night!!

a poem, then 50 questions

here's the first poem i've written in a while - can't vouch for its quality, its an emotional 
outburst:

poems say i have forgotten how to write poems
what could you tell me of a poem in this world where the air is toxic and the water is toxic
but children have been brought back to play

i don't know pretty ways to say the water was over the houses
boats were chained and people drowned and the smell of death does not dissapate and
i'm too young to recognize it so quickly but then this is the second city i've seen collapse

and when i meet survivors i feel pathetic because i am so just barely not weeping
and i make charts
and they have walls black and soggy from the sludge which came in the night from canals,
industrial canal, from rivers where water was an enemy but
we made plans

we made plans even though people were still missing and
to be honest finding people only illuminates the losses but what do i know?
they're all smiling and even i can think of something funny
and how could i? and how could i not?

then we drove the streets where the ground was covered
in the dried water of, in the dirt of, in the detritus of -
god, god it was everywhere, it is everywhere
and i can't get clean
and when i next stood in scalding water
i couldn't remember what i did
and why i didn't come and get people

i resolve again that we must learn to save each other we must
free people's minds so they can save themselves but who knows
how to do that
i've never felt my stomach so tender for so long
that tumultuous stranger's grief
learning to read the code on the buildings

2 cats, kittens under house, 4 dogs
parakeet, child recovered
no one found, 1, 2 and 4 people

when i sleep i have nightmares
water coming in the dark and no way out
water coming in the middle of the night
the water line on my face
waking up to the sound of water all around
water already too high to drive through
water comes in my dreams and coats me
comes in my eyes and ears and coats me
my throat and tongue and fills my lungs and

i am always somebody's only child
i am a mother, i have lived in this house
this has been my home since world war ii and
i own it and i am not leaving it
not at gunpoint,
not to go to no where, or somewhere cold -
i've seen wind and i've seen water
and i've seen your kind so leave me be
i won't leave
not to never come home

i am a mayor who speaks like a brimstone pastor
but acts like a fish on the shore
i am guilty and i am blameless
i am a politician and i don't know how to do anything
only speak, only dream
i cry, but only in the bathroom and alone

i am a child, swimming towards the superdome
i am a child and i know i can't handle what i am seeing
and what i see is death in every direction
and what i see i my mother taken by men who are not my father
and my father taken by time and heroism and stubbornness and the water

dear god i am scared of these ghosts
floating spirits up from broken homes
smiling, bitter
we knew this would happen
we knew it was possible that - given a chance
you would leave us to die
leave anyone
leave us black people who own our homes on land you want
and we won't go, not till god takes us
you won't be free of us,
the air is thick with our suffering

you would leave us poor white people
who have always been here and
we don't have shit
and we've never had shit
and we aren't scared

we are your day laborers
we are your maids and we can give you a roof
and we can give you signs of life but
some of us, if you must know
before any storms came
because of the way you let life fall so heavy on us
we are vacant
we are hopeless
we aren't lovely, we are looters
we aren't saviors, we stink
can you love us, can you listen to us?
we know you saw us, we know your hearts broke

and if you think we will give it all up go on, break our hearts again
bulldoze our world and pile it up and take it away
rebuild, higher, better, more sturdy
the land isn't meant for you, it will break you too

but you cannot break us
we'll go kicking and screaming and when its safe we'll creep back in the night
and you who never loved us
you who never loved this
you won't understand why we stay and die, why we come back and fight

but you who see us, do not forget
do not forget what was done to us
do not forget this is our home
do not forget you are us and we are you
do not forget you saw it and you were moved
you cried for us
you watched it all
and we far flung are just stars burning
it may take us light years
till the scent of explosion is gone and
we may fall through the dark
we may not know how to do it the right way, returning
you might not want it
you might not allow it
you might even build walls designed to keep us out
levees high enough to stop the flood of returning
legislate the right of return, the right to our homes and
we may not feel the pull anymore, of that orbit of ours
that new orleans of old
that criminal scandalous beautiful laughing horn blowing new orleans
but those are our homes in that dirt
those are our beloveds in those tombs
that is our city
and we left solemnly for this funeral
but we will come back in celebration, dancing
preceded by magic everywhere

and we will not forget our way home

and now 50 questions, a compilation of questions from different places like inside the
actor's studio and the all-about-you email and vanity fair....just cause!

1. What is your full name? adrienne maree brown
2. What color pants are you wearing? slate gray, or grey - my preferred spelling of that color.
wonderful tight biz-cas pants i wear too often which my sister april gave to me because she
is now a marathon runner and much smaller
3. What are you listening to right now? Etta James
4. What was the last thing you ate? zen palate sweet and sour sensation and taro spring rolls
5. Do you wish on stars? in ny, that's a rare sighting. elsewhere, desperately. i specifically
wish that if anyone else is out there that they come visit and help us with some large scale
conflict resolution and evolution issues we're facing, planetarily.
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? oh something very solid and bright, a
deep turquoise? fantastic fuschia?
7. How is the weather right now? ny fall, chilly and gray and very sexy layer weather. the
season of evans richardson.
8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? my sister autumn, who is very cool. no actually
hobbes from oakland. or - actually it was a conference call with up4democracy about new
orleans network folks
9. Do you like the person who sent this to you? i like all the 400 billion people i have
received things like this from over the course
of my email experiences
11. What is your favorite drink?  whiskey
12. Favorite sport? is hottubbing a sport? i am sooo good at that...swimming, scuba diving,
anything in water
13. What is your hair color? it's back to natural now, very dark brown
14. Do you wear contacts? nope. never even tried them. its on the list after joining a gym
so...maybe when i'm 30?
15. Siblings? two gorgeous stunning brilliant amazing women, april nicole the marathon
running photo-journalist family oriented one who lives in south carolina where she is dating
a big defensive end on the USC football team (thats not him in the picture, he black!); and
autumn meghan the early christian religion and greek reading professora-to-be actress-organizer
who lives at 107th and manhattan and dates a hottie hippy from minnesota.

April_in_dressDsc00670















16. Favorite month? Any month when I'm on vacation.
17. Favorite food? Thai, generally, and Lebna, specifically today
18. What was the last movie you saw? two documentaries - word on the street by ny-la
hottie asif ullah, and stigma by ny-miami hottie tchaiko omawale.
19. Favorite day of the year? christmas with my family. santa still visits, though we are all
over 20 now, and we all give each other sweet sentimental thoughtful gifts, which ends up
becoming a present war between my two still deeply-in-love parenst, and then we eat
orange sweet rolls, my mama cooks a bangin meal and we spend the whole day just giving
each other love and watching our new movies and dancing together and being together
20. What do you do to vent anger? um...do you mean how big is the phatty i smoke?
just kidding, i take a pleasure moment to relieve stress. usually by the end i've forgotten
the stress completely.
21. What was your favorite toy as a child? i don't remember specific toys - i liked coloring
and drawing - still do. and i liked to come up with very intricate dialogues while doing the
dishes after dinner - i'd play out both parts of a romantic spat
22. Summer or winter?  summer
23. Hugs or kisses?  kisses, i love and love and love kisses, really good hot kisses
24. Chocolate or vanilla? Dark chocolate
25. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? no, this is a selfish endeavor
26.Who is most likely to respond? no one?
27. Who is least likely to respond? no one?
28. Who is the friend you have had the longest? other than my family who are my road dawgs?
sofia
29. What did you do last night?  got home from new orleans, cried for a second on sofia's
shoulder, then vegged out to t.v. while sofia and her housemates rearranged the house so
their landlord could come see it and not think three people lived there. i think they overdid it,
but i had also sipped tequila out of a water bottle the whole plane ride  home and didn't feel
like weighing in on the matter...then went home and slept so hard and dreamt no dreams.
30. What are you afraid of? power hungry people
31. Plain, buttered or salted popcorn? Buttered and salted
32. Favorite car? no car, but HYBRIDS all the way
33. Favorite flower? bamboo, spider plants. shit that's REALLY hard to kill.
34. Number of keys on your key ring? 3. that's 3 too many. i hate keys, and feel much envy
for folks who live in places where they can leave their doors unlocked.
35. How many years at your current job? damn, two i guess!
36. Favorite day of the week? friday night, in my own bed.
37. What did you do on your last birthday? i went to the turkish baths, got a massage, then had
a small dinner with close friends. it was my first year in a while not doing a big party and it
was a massive relief not to have to think of making a great party for others.
38. How many states have you lived in? 6
39. How many cities/homes have you lived in? i keep losing count around 19, my memory
isn't the best one anyone ever had.
40. favorite indulgence? getting rubbed on by professionals, and cab rides when i return
from a long trip
41. favorite curseword? fuck.
42. what turns you on? generous and really smart people with really great senses of
humor, politics and style who aren't easily charmed but are physically and intellectually
interested in pleasure and alternative forms of intimacy...alternate from a straight up boyfriend
girlfriend marriage baby path. people who don't get jealous.
43. what turns you off? ignorance in any form, folks who think they own me, jealousy,
people who like me (so ignant, i like the crush and pursuit but then i get horribly bored),
people who fumble about my body with no skills, pessimists and...ooh people who are totally
self-absorbed! lol...
44. where were you happiest? in the south pacific with my parents and sisters and my dog
Sugarfoot, swimming and diving everyday, with internet access and plenty of journals to write
in all day, and only biking on the island, and dolphins and the sun rising in my backyard over
the ocean.
45. have you ever been in love? desperately. four times now i've cried desperately over
the loss of my future babies with someone which i suppose is my marker for love. each time i
realize it wasn't really love before, because this is so much more horrifically painful...the babies
thing, this may change drastically as i am currently unconvinced this world is good enough for
babies.
46. favorite position? doggy, hair pulled, someone breathing in my ear
47. who do you look up to? survivors who remember how to laugh, malcolm and ella baker,
people who break through to new territory on the environment like andy lipkis
48. who do you detest? no one. i find hatred a lowly exhausting and petty emotion. i'll add
hate to my turn-off list.
49. who do you love? my family, which includes my dearest friends
50. if you were to come back as a person place or thing, what would it be? water - drinkable,
livable and plentiful water. an endless well, a summer storm, coming and going, prayed for
and a blessing.

Dispatch from New Orleans, Pt 2

Today is better than yesterday, perhaps because I am comforted by work, and the New Orleans Network team have been doing great work these past two days.

Yesterday we toured the lower 9th, going right up to the Canal. The National Guard paused us and then said just be back by curfew, which is currently 8pm for the lower 9th. I heard of folks being arrested for being on their porches after curfew, but the guys we crossed paths with were nice enough, and Shana says that a lot of folks will actually be sad to see them go, these young men and women who are mostly glad to not be in Iraq. So complex…to be scared and to feel comforted by the same uniform…

Riding around with Abram and Shana in their truck I was saying stop and snapping shots as often as possible, and continuously disappointed with how they came out, how little was captured in them. Finally Abram pinpointed it – pictures don’t get it because the devastation is so immense, its everywhere, in every direction. I’ve never seen or felt this kind of totality. Acres, no end to the destroyed homes…We were driving in the dark and I felt scared, I felt spooked, I felt sad. The smell, the air gets up into the back of your throat and shots of tequila won’t burn it away.

Dsc01029Dsc01044Walters_barGods_houseFridge_slash_billboard

I was holding on until we pulled up to a school and Shana said, "Oh that’s where all those people died. They gathered in the school to be safe and the water burst through…my friend taught there. One of her students swam from here to the Superdome and she said all these people just drowned."

We pulled up a bit further and it was a different school, but it was too late, I was in the experience, in the midst of this dark drowned ghost town with nothing to say, only photos to keep as some sort of proof to myself that I looked at a world in this state. What can even be done – there is indignation at the idea of bulldozing it all down but driving down those streets and seeing the water lines on the roofs, smelling the land, feeling the dirt come through the windows and the air vents and get under my skin I couldn’t think of what else to do. It must be rebuilt, and what is rebuilt must be shaped by the people of New Orleans; but these homes, these cars and streets and belongings, they can’t be touched again.

New Orleans is like no other city. The black city, the beautiful city – its so unique and stunning. The people are unlike any I’ve ever met – survivors with a sick sense of humor and kindness. Everyone who gave me anything in this city gave me a story, and I want to share them with you:

First, Terri – Terri was our lunch waitress yesterday. Her Lakeview home was destroyed, and she says she sat around for 7 days and finally had to do something, so she got this job at Frank’s waitressing. Her youngest daughter, a Cabrini student, was killed in a car accident last year. She was wearing her daughter’s ring. When they were evacuating, her last action was to grab her daughter’s senior pictures off the mantel. Her husband’s last action was to grab the two duffel bags of their daughter’s belongings which had been used to decorate the funeral home and move them up to the attic. That’s all they have of her. Terri and her husband Robert are looking for a home now.

Terri

Then there’s Lauren, our waitress at Byblos last night. She came up to our table in a tizzy – which Abram identified as the common performance of all waitstaff – and she seemed like someone who could easily be on the Real World. Pretty, a little airheaded, wide open…she and her mom and her cat survived. They lost everything. She said she feels stronger now. But before that, when she first got to our table, she said, ‘I don’t even know what I’m doing here’, and laughed.

Lauren

This morning we stopped to get coffee from Thomas. He’s been serving coffee on the block where the Rainbow Connection and Food Not Bombs are serving free community meals. We asked how he was and he smiled, like everyone in New Orleans has done, and then said he’s been open for 10 days, but its been a hard few weeks (that drastic understatement). He has family in New York, but he’s staying here in New Orleans. He gave me the best rasberry flavored mochachino with whipped cream I’ve ever had. I may go back and propose to him.

Thomas

And finally there was Stepho, who travelled from Algonquin, Illionois to work for a few weeks in the free kitchen. This space is serving food from 7am – 7:30pm each day, and are based in a community that was hungry before Katrina. A variety of folks sit around with their pets and coffee in the sun, and Stepho thinks she’ll be among the last of the folks serving here. She wouldn’t really accept any thank you.

StephoDsc01060

I have to leave this city and I don’t want to. I’ve numbed to the smell, I’ve taken a scalding shower, I haven’t smoked any more cigarettes, and I’ve done my work. There’s so much, so much to be done – there’s nothing but time and people to support. The New Orleans Network is doing groundbreaking mapping work that will support a people-powered, informed rebuilding effort. Plus being one of the best groups of brilliant women I’ve ever had the honor to work with! Holla for more information!

I leave you with one last image – Abram’s favorite sign in N’awleans…

Dsc01048

Dispatch from New Orleans, Pt 1

Flying into New Orleans the plane is quiet and everyone is bent over each other looking out the windows. At first I can see no impact, it looks like the city I’ve been to so many times these past few years. The first thing I notice is how few cars are on the streets. Then I see the Superdome’s patchwork roof and I hold my breath. Then I see all the tarped blue roofs, and the areas where there are roads with what appears to be piles of wood next to them. Finally, as we get closer to landing, there are expanses with trees all laid over sideways, telling the story of the storm paths.

Shana Sassoon meets me at the airport and we hop in her big pick-up after big hugs and she takes me to see. We drive towards Orleans parish and immediately I start to see the signs – literally. Every street corner is marked with signs for clean-up, odor removal, apartments to sell/rent/buy/raze, construction, roofing, legal services, etc. Then the big signs of big business which are missing huge chunks, leaving spotty advertisements for their empty services.

PopeyesMickey_ds

And then we’re in the 9th ward, specifically the lower 9th. Shana points out to me the markers for this particular graveyard. The water line is a brown black stain along the sides of churches, homes, playgrounds. Cars that are gray and marked ‘Please Tow’ were submerged in the toxic sludge and I can’t stop the thought – ‘How many could have gotten out in that vehicle?’ And then there’s the cracked desert chocolate surface of the ground, that’s the top layer the toxic sludge left. 6 inches minimum will have to be removed before folks could live here again, grow here again.

Water_lines_on_gods_houseWater_lines_at_the_playgroundThe_sludge

Night is coming and we’re still driving, eventually seeing some signs of life. Kids helping their father pull bags of garbage out of their home, a group of white activists who are setting up a medical center and food spot on a corner amidst the broken homes, dogs and cats that run up and slink away from the vehicle – pets or survivors all. And everywhere, everywhere are the piles of people’s lives: cheap soft couches and sweatshirts and shoes and pots and pans and dresses…and those are good signs. That means someone has been there. The other thing to get used to is fridges, taped and marked spoiled on every corner and in front of every home.

Another_homeChained_boatThe_kids_watch

i had my first real cigarette in 10 months after 30 minutes here. i’ll write more tomorrow.

our first official guest :)

yes, today’s post will include words from a very special guest, janine de novais. janine is a legend, and if you don’t know about her yet, its just because she’s been underground raising the next paul robeson, a.k.a. my frequently mentioned 5-yr-old boyfriend who likes to be called spiderman or trinity. so at the end of today’s post, i promise, a very special treat.

but before that!

i feel like i haven’t written in a couple days…i am at the long beach airport waiting for my jetblue redeye to nueva york. (nueva = one of the three spanish words/phrases that comes to my mind before its english counterpart. cono tu madre and ay, papi are the other two!) (although oh daddy does occasionally work wonders)

i just spent two days under the tutelage of bernard dory learning the ins and outs of a tight, well-run campaign by watching his team build for the special election. one of the folks on his team is rob mcgowan, one of those big solid bald handsome black dudes who i see and try to tackle on instinct. he body checks me each time and easily picks me up and plays me out. but ANYway…arnold schwarzenegger is pushing initiatives which would, among other things, seriously cut the education budget, make teenagers have to ask permission from their parents to get an abortion, suck power out of the labor voice in california, cut the people power legs out from the left, leave california on the easy path to a red state and ruin the country and the world. in a 50-cent style beef, he’s even actin like he has drama with bush. 

so scope/allert/agenda are part of the Alliance for a Better California and our california league of pissed off voter guides break it all down – check them, or any of our guides, out at: www.indyvoter.org…

anyway the training was deep – power analysis and organization. no detail is unaccounted for in their planning. now DAS some hotness. i was there with my dear sistas celeste and natasha, and my brother-man khari mosley. khari is the pittsburgh pimp who broke down the term ‘on fire’ for real. natasha is a ride-or-die hottie from oakland, and celeste you know is my constant teacher. this time we grasped the nuances of good flames versus bad flames while sipping dead guys and white wine in a comfort inn on vermont, and asif rolled through with his hardhitting new documentary, which i am now in charge of carrying cross country to ny. it is amazing and hopefully he’ll let us work with him on distributing it for righteous screenings. then i watched contact, one of my favorite films, which reminded me that at some point i still hope to become a scientist who talks to aliens.

before i get on the plane i am going to watch the first cut of the documentary of my girl tchaiko’s hiv/aids and youth documentary. its amazing to get to see these finished, or near-finished, pieces of political education, especially when folks have been telling you about it for months, even years. everyone was lookin and feelin good, and getting to know each other on the deep.

i found out a funny thing. i am a bit crazy. my boys adam and daniel both gave me signed copies of their books. for daniel’s, i got the british hardcover edition. on my first night in l.a. someone asked if they could read it, and i realized that my reaction was no. its a nice hardback. it’s not to read, or even really opened. its to sit in a place of honor in my house where i can occasionally pick it up and read it. after i said no, i thought about it for half an hour – was i trippin? should i just go get her the book and let her read it? i finally decided no, because i would have been bitter about the book being open the whole time, and that’s just triflin!

anyway, in l.a. biko baker rolled through with his boy from milwaukee and if y’all haven’t read his cover story on 50 cent and g-unit’s fading crackrock appeal, go check it. flames. biko is the real real real deal. i have to forget how high on the pedestal i keep him to be around him, cause he’s that real. go read it. he took us to earl’s grill, banging food in crenshaw. it was a good food week, cause i got thai in berkeley, and huevos rancheros at the oldest mexican restaurant in oakland and then again at la taquiza on figueroa and 30th in l.a. i can’t believe i resisted the yellow runny egg stuff for so long. i LOVE that stuff. its awesome. AND i went to trader joe’s TWICE and loaded up on good chocolate, granola and my current staple food, peppered turkey jerky.

i got into roughly 24 near accidents during this week in california, including one humorous late night episode where i tried to cross four lanes and a grass and cement median for an exit i saw. l.a. will do funny things to you! what you need is always a freeway away. when it felt overwhelming, i rolled the sunroof back and the windows down and breathed in some smog and sang new songs.

my favorite car experience was the drive down the 5, with farms all around and mountains to one side while the sun rose – i can’t get it out of my mind. though i’ve been told it was all factory farms, what i saw was gorgeous rows of growth and i feel it coming to me, the earth, learning to work it. at asif’s i was reminded that octavia butler is a goddess and her philosophy’s can be lived by – change is god. she’s a survivalist, reminds us that as times change it isn’t a personal thing if your time in history is one of violent shifts, but you should be prepared, know how to live off and with the earth and save people in crisis. required reading: parable of the sower, parable of the talents, wild seed, patternmaster.

am on my way home for some hours in my own bed before new orleans – its been too long. i still have stories to tell you – running from the booty-energy-which-seems-to-be-at-a-much-higher-pitch-in-california, the oops-was-that-an-enema? story, and the offer-to-get-to-be-second-wife-in-a-polygamy story. ah, but who has time for such drivel? we have a guest!!

from Janine de Novais:

I want to guest on your blog and tell you about Form N-400, the one I am using to apply for citizenship.  Mind you, I haven’t had to ask to be part of any club since the little white girls in my Belgian catholic school shunned me for wearing oversized shoes in first grade (my dad used to say it was a matter of saving money: he was preempting the growing of my feet by a full size thus making the shoes "last longer"). I never recovered and since then I don’t take too kindly to this whole applying for shit idea–getting me into college was a challenge for that very reason.  But fuck me if I’ll have taxation and no representation, especially since my child is now in the public schools of this great metropolis and we can’t seem to find our tax dollars nowhere inside his overcrowded school…

I’m not filing the N Four Hundred just yet because I have to save up for that (the fee is almost $400.00 regardless of whether they "accept" you or not), but I’m completing it.  The part of the form of interest to us on this day is called section D, "Good Moral Behavior."

So here we go, transcribing from the form.All CAPS are theirs, they like to capitalize the word EVER a lot.

D. Good Moral Character

For the purposes of this application, you must answer "Yes" to the following questions, if applicable, even if your records were sealed or otherwise cleared or if anyone, including a judge, law enforcement officer, or attorney, told you that you no longer have a record.

[what about god, what if you settled it with god, do you still have to tell immigration?!]

22. Have you EVER:

A) been a habitual drunkard?
B) been a prostitute, or procured anyone for prostitution?
C) sold or smuggled controlled substances, illegal drugs or narcotics?
D) been married to more than one person at the same time?
E) helped anyone enter or try to enter the United States illegally?
F) gambled illegally or received income from illegal gambling?
G) failed to support your dependents or to pay alimony?

23. Have you EVER given false information to any US government official while applying for any immigration benefit or to prevent deportation, exclusion, or removal?

24. Have you EVER lied to any US government official to gain entry or admission into the United States?

Alrighty then.

-

This is Adrienne again…coping with the fact that if tested, i wouldn’t pass to be a citizen. any idea why?? :) what else, what else…

i’m sleepy. and since i came off the fast i’ve had severe heartburn. i think i am happiest on lemon flavored water. oh oh – i wish y’all could see me right now. i didn’t bring enough bags to accomodate all the stuff i picked up, so i have hooked a plastice bag onto my bookbag and the combined weight of all the bags is 603 lbs. walking through the airport i make a shuffling plasticy thump thump sound and am hunched forward like i know where the wild things are. elegance, thou knowest not my game!

and let’s see, what else, what else – one of the great intrigues of my life arrives in ny oct 27 right after i get back from new orleans and everytime i remember that is happening soon i look both ways and blush and laugh. its good that the world is wide enough for such grandiose engagements.

i’m singing at the union square awards november 11! mark it in your calendars :) um…that must must must be it. i’m too tired to think of anything else – much love.

the land of plenty

midnight oil best served warm at 11:35.

before i take a shower and wash this day down let me tell you things about it. one – i love organizational development. seeing people who love the people get more solid in their work makes me smile. i’ve spent the last two days returning from the ideological magic space of the world being worked towards at bioneers, and playing with twin 11 mth olds, and driving around the bay with my sunroof open listening to sweet honey in the rock, and listening to people who are so smart and perceptive.

last night i had dinner with three up and coming writers, such a glimpse at a specific world, those who will be known from pictures on the back of major works of literature. daniel, adam and victoria recalled hilarious moments of bad writing on the parts of others, and wrote a comedic script of short novellas with their tongues and teeth right before my eyes. such a special moment for me, humbled by such company.

and then dinner tonight with hobbes, dj/organizer/consultant extraordinaire and one of the most influential beloved people i know. we talked about old times, when both of us were young harm reduction training directors in ny and oakland. that’s how we met, and we’ve both grown a lot and are so happy in our  current work. no one could have told us then what now would look like. that gives me hope for a couple years from now – the love i’ll have, the work i’ll do.

now my eyes are blurring and i have a yert to get into bed in! and then 4am tomorrow? rollin with myself to the city of angels. hallelujah, hallelu.

mama i want to farm

just finished the extravaganza of bioneers, all these brilliant minds coming up with solutions for a torn up twisted world, beautiful solutions, urban forestry solutions, solutions of song and art and dance and now i really want to learn to farm. i met this amazing boy named aaron who said i can come farm with him in 2007 when he gets back from studying music in mali, so i will set that dream on the calendar. the folks who spoke there included rha goddess, omar friella, andy lipkis – the genius who figured out how the catch and re-use the rainwater in l.a. in hopes of stopping that city of angels from sucking every drop from the communities that surround it, this genius named janine b who first envisioned bi-mimicry – learning from nature’s operating systems concepts we can apply to our own creative plans. i want to learn to find in nature systems of power exchange and leadership development and conflict resolution for the young people i work with.

also i had an idea for helping farms respond to flash hailstorms and other beautiful destructive forces from on high that involves the button technology of automatic umbrellas that instead of springing open from the bottom up would spring up and then fall open to cover the trees. we’ll see if it already exists.

last night i slept in a yert (spelling?) which is basically like sleeping in a covered outdoor room, looking at the sky, hearing the world, under big covers. slept sooo well y’all, not even playing. then woke up early this morning to play with john and genevieve’s baby twins, sam and hazel, who are brilliant and awesome and learning to walk and point at what they want and laugh responsively. every other piece of work pales in comparison to these massive accomplishments.

in other news, i have two days of ruckus work ahead of me, got to party with lots of great people and have still more to kick it with while i’m here before i take my 5 hr drive to l.a. – the entirety of which i plan to spend listening to sweet honey in the rock because bernice johnson-reagon is my hero.

i forgot my camera so unfortunately i don’t have pictures of all of this.

here’s some good reading:

Los Angeles Times

 

October 16, 2005 Sunday

 

SECTION: CURRENT; Editorial Pages
Desk; Part M; Pg. 1

 

A former police chief wants to
end a losing war by legalizing pot, coke, meth and other drugs

 

BYLINE: Norm Stamper, Norm
Stamper is the former chief of the Seattle Police Department. He is the author
of "Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Expose of the Dark Side of American
Policing" (Nation Books)

 

October 16, 2005

 

SOMETIMES PEOPLE in law enforcement will hear it whispered that I’m a
former cop who favors decriminalization of marijuana laws, and they’ll approach
me the way they might a traitor or snitch. So let me set the record straight.

 

Yes, I was a cop for 34 years, the last six of which I spent as chief
of Seattle’s police
department.

 

But no, I don’t favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not
just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics,
mushrooms and LSD.

 

Decriminalization, as my colleagues in the drug reform movement hasten
to inform me, takes the crime out of using drugs but continues to classify
possession and use as a public offense, punishable by fines.

 

I’ve never understood why adults shouldn’t enjoy the same right to use
verboten drugs as they have to suck on a Marlboro or knock back a scotch and
water.

 

Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other
drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame
responsible drug use — not an oxymoron in my dictionary — as a
civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including
alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

 

As a cop, I bore witness to the multiple lunacies of the "war on
drugs." Lasting far longer than any other of our national conflicts, the
drug war has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Republican and Democratic
administrations, with one president after another — Nixon, Ford, Carter,
Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush — delivering sanctimonious sermons,
squandering vast sums of taxpayer money and cheerleading law enforcers from the
safety of the sidelines.

 

It’s not a stretch to conclude that our draconian approach to drug use
is the most injurious domestic policy since slavery. Want to cut back on prison
overcrowding and save a bundle on the construction of new facilities? Open the
doors, let the nonviolent drug offenders go. The huge increases in federal and
state prison populations during the 1980s and ’90s (from 139 per 100,000
residents in 1980 to 482 per 100,000 in 2003) were mainly for drug convictions.
In 1980, 580,900 Americans were arrested on drug charges. By
2003, that figure had ballooned to 1,678,200. We’re making more arrests
for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated
assault combined. Feel safer?

 

I’ve witnessed the devastating effects of open-air drug markets in
residential neighborhoods: children recruited as runners, mules and lookouts;
drug dealers and innocent citizens shot dead in firefights between rival
traffickers bent on protecting or expanding their markets; dedicated narcotics
officers tortured and killed in the line of duty; prisons filled with
nonviolent drug offenders; and drug-related foreign policies that foster
political instability, wreak health and environmental disasters, and make life
even tougher for indigenous subsistence farmers in places such as Latin America
and Afghanistan. All because we like our drugs — and can’t have them
without breaking the law.

 

As an illicit commodity, drugs cost and generate extravagant sums of
(laundered, untaxed) money, a powerful magnet for character-challenged police
officers.

 

Although small in numbers of offenders, there isn’t a major police
force — the Los Angeles Police Department included — that has
escaped the problem: cops, sworn to uphold the law, seizing and converting
drugs to their own use, planting dope on suspects, robbing and extorting
pushers, taking up dealing themselves, intimidating or
murdering witnesses.

 

In declaring a war on drugs, we’ve declared war on our fellow citizens.
War requires "hostiles" — enemies we can demonize, fear and
loathe. This unfortunate categorization of millions of our citizens justifies
treating them as dope fiends, evil-doers, less than human. That grants
political license to ban the exchange or purchase of clean needles or to
withhold methadone from heroin addicts motivated to kick the addiction.

 

President Bush has even said no to medical marijuana. Why would he want
to "coddle" the enemy? Even if the enemy is a suffering AIDS or
cancer patient for whom marijuana promises palliative, if not therapeutic,
powers.

 

As a nation, we’re long overdue for a soul-searching, coldly analytical
look at both the "drug scene" and the drug war. Such candor would
reveal the futility of our current policies, exposing the embarrassingly meager
return on our massive enforcement investment (about $69 billion a year,
according to Jack Cole, founder and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

 

How would "regulated legalization" work? It would: 1) Permit
private companies to compete for licenses to cultivate, harvest, manufacture,
package and peddle drugs.

 

2) Create a new federal regulatory agency
(with no apologies to libertarians or paleo-conservatives).

 

3) Set and enforce standards of sanitation, potency and purity.

 

4) Ban advertising.

 

5) Impose (with congressional approval) taxes, fees and fines to be
used for drug-abuse prevention and treatment and to cover the costs of
administering the new regulatory agency.

 

6) Police the industry much as alcoholic beverage control agencies keep
a watch on bars and liquor stores at the state level. Such reforms would in no
way excuse drug users who commit crimes: driving while impaired, providing
drugs to minors, stealing an iPod or a Lexus,
assaulting one’s spouse, abusing one’s child. The message is simple. Get
loaded, commit a crime, do the time.

 

These reforms would yield major reductions in a host of predatory
street crimes, a disproportionate number of which are committed by users who
resort to stealing in order to support their habit or addiction.

 

Regulated legalization would soon dry up most stockpiles of currently
illicit drugs — substances of uneven, often questionable quality
(including "bunk," i.e., fakes such as oregano, gypsum, baking powder
or even poisons passed off as the genuine article). It would extract from
today’s drug dealing the obscene profits that attract the needy and the greedy
and fuel armed violence. And it would put most of those certifiably frightening
crystal meth labs out of business once and for all.

 

Combined with treatment, education and other public health programs for
drug abusers, regulated legalization would make your city or town an infinitely
healthier place to live and raise a family.

 

It would make being a cop a much safer occupation, and it would lead to
greater police accountability and improved morale and job satisfaction.

 

But wouldn’t regulated legalization lead to more users and, more to the
point, drug abusers? Probably, though no one knows for sure — our leaders
are too timid even to broach the subject in polite circles, much less to
experiment with new policy models. My own prediction?
We’d see modest increases in use, negligible increases in abuse.

The demand for illicit drugs is as strong as the nation’s thirst for
bootleg booze during Prohibition. It’s a demand that simply will not dwindle or
dry up. Whether to find God, heighten sexual arousal, relieve physical pain,
drown one’s sorrows or simply feel good, people throughout the millenniums have
turned to mood- and mind-altering substances.

They’re not about to stop, no matter what their government says or
does. It’s time to accept drug use as a right of adult Americans, treat drug
abuse as a public health problem and end the madness of an unwinnable
war.