Upstream of Consciousness wants to be a collection of interviews that only contain answers. I will provide 5 phrases, words, quotes, links, pictures, or videos (in italics) and your consciousness will provide the rest. Responses can be short or long, real or fictional, words, links, or anything in between. In return, each of my "subjects" will give me 1 item back which I will then respond to (under the heading Ripple, with a number next to it). Come, swim for a while.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ripple (10)

10. [Bri]

Oooh, New Age website!

This website might as well be written in Mandarin, or some other language I don't understand, because that's about how well I follow what is written here (There is a NEW READERS section, but what's the fun in that?).

Instead, I first clicked on the link to "Becoming a Messiah" and then "Homework Assignment" here, and was disappointed to find the homework to be much like my homework in college -- download these articles and read them.

I think on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd be about a 7 of a Messiah -- sort of your garden variety, good guy, not the one to save the earth but not the one to lead everyone off a cliff to hell either kind of a Messiah.

Joking aside, this seems like a pretty hardcore version of New Ageism, although I could be wrong, because I know very little about it. I do have friends, including my oldest childhood friend, who ascribe to some New Age beliefs.

Personally, I'm of a very scientific mindset -- life is a product of genes and environment, which is to say we are born with a rough blueprint and then our experiences and interactions with others fill in the rest of the lines. Even belief itself -- that comes out of genetic predispositions and biography, neurotransmitters firing away. Everyone and everything is connected in that molecules are constantly bouncing off of each other, my words are read and enter someone's thoughts, etc. I haven't really thought about how the universe beyond Earth comes into play, although it must, in terms of the gravitational pull of the moon, our perception of the constellations, and of course, the Sun. But I think it all happens on an atomic particle level, something tangible that can be measured and studied and seen using science -- if not now, eventually, with better tools.

I'm willing to admit that I might be wrong, that there might be some 258th dimension of reality and truth that my genetics and my history have tuned me out of. And so a conversation about beliefs, unless your beliefs cause you to hate people, is always interesting to me.


A link of this beautiful video was passed around on my Twitter feed on the anniversary of 9/11 and I became curious about the person behind it. I highly recommend looking at Bri's website, (where you can find among her digital art, the work in number 4) and her blog at -- her art and stories are both fascinating and inspiring.


=D! Love this song. I've made a career out of making music videos, but this industry has always been intimately linked with record labels-- who are now nosediving as a collective whole. When I first started a "cheap DIY" video cost about $40k, now labels are offering about a quarter of that. This means way more work for me, and way less money. (boohoo)

The Download Divide -

2. "I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, 'There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And who's in charge?'" - Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

3. The Iran You Don't Know

Though I'm not seeing anything particularly interesting about those two images of the show, I obviously dig the sentiment. Iran is nothing like how the majority of Americans see it- traveling and seeing different cultures should be requisite for life-- especially, especially if you are going to have an opinion about them. I'll be headed back to Iran early next year, and hopefully Jeddah as well, pretty psyched about it.


In 2004, after dusk, two jets flew over my apartment in Allston, MA (I was then living with the sexy, famed Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls). The jets were part of an airshow at Fenway Park. They tore through the atmosphere and, as I ran to the front door to catch a glimpse, my brain was hit with the most electric & intense headache, migraine, I had ever experienced. I had to hide under my dark blue down comforter for about a week, everything hurt my brain.

While sitting in the silence, I started to feel a certain sentience fill the room-- the air would get lighter. And as I would lay down at night, I felt many invisible creatures put their hands on me (I imagined they all looked mostly human). There was a current flowing from them to me. It felt like some sort of healing ritual... and, in some parallel dimension, my body was completely glowing.

After about a week, the headaches went away but the imaginary friends did not. I felt a really intense love for them, and one in particular. After moving to the South End (Cloud Club, the same building complex as Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls & Michael Pope, director extraordinaire), I was having regular visits from a recurring cast of invisibles.

After moving to NYC, I don't have nearly as many of these experiences, though my brain often composites faces out of random patterns (in a brick wall, in a spill, in cracks of the sidwalk)- and I imagine this is some sign that there is someone invisible in my presence. This digital painting series (Elgin, Eastor, etc) began under my assumption that if I dump a set of colors onto a page, I can find that face, or figure, to be revealed. As they reveal themselves to me, I revel in assigning them personalities, voices, eating habits, etc.
Elgin is kind of a grumpy prickly guy who ultimately has a heart of gold!

5. groove

Monday, September 7, 2009


The wonderful New Zealander Briar writes about, among other things, cupcakes (!) at and will write beautiful stories and poetry for you at Go check them both out!

1. "I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within." -Lillian Smith

This is such a true statement, although I might rephrase it slightly if it were me being quoted and not Lillian Smith. Her wording seems to assume that one needs an intent to journey into oneself for the external global journeys to have true meaning and distance. I guess this may be true in some cases, but in my own personal experience, and what I hear from other people, the moment you leave your comfort zone, whether it be your house, your suburb, your city, country, continent, hemisphere, once you leave the place that you know and venture out, it's inevitable that your mind and heart will open and allow passage inwards. Whether it's self-discovery, or change, or just understanding, I'm not sure. It's probably all of them. You can't leave for another world, no matter how many parallels it might share with your own, and expect to come back exactly the same as you were. You could come back looking exactly the same (although obviously that's not necessarily the case - you might come back with short hair dyed a different colour, a pierced nose and a tattoo on your shoulder - hypothetically, of course) and yet when you go to sleep at night, your dreams are on the trains of a different city.

2. "A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked." -Author Unknown

Sometimes I think I'm entirely cracked, and yet those who have seen me at my most shattered (this metaphor could get terrible reeeally fast) are certainly among my best - and truest - friends. That's not to say that those who haven't seen that side of me aren't true friends, but there are definitely those who don't know exactly what's beneath the shiny bastardised accented, New York obsessed, music sharing exterior. Although the interior is also all of those things.

I think it's good to know what's inside. If you aren't cracked at all, not even a little bit, how can we see in and understand?

3. [Article taken down -- It was about a New Zealand burger restaurant called Murder Burger where the employees wear shirts that read "Meat is Murder". No, they do not serve vegetarian options. Their weird website and menu can be found here.]

HAHA. I've never been to Murder Burger, even though I've been a very very bad vegetarian of late. They'd only get away with that sort of thing in Ponsonby, at least at first.

Either way, the best burgers in New Zealand, and, in fact, probably the whole world, are at Burger Fuel. The Combustion Vege is particularly excellent. They're very open to vegetarian and vegan stuff there.

If there is one song that I wish I had heard Amanda Palmer play in my time in the US, it would have been Truce. It used to be the track I would ignore, the long one at the end of the CD that I didn't really know, when I skipped through to Girl A and Coin Operated Boy and Missed Me, because that was the way I segued into the Dolls - didn't most of us? Now it would be one of my absolute favourite DD/AP songs. I have to say, despite the gorgeous orchestration on many of the WKAP tracks, and the fact that I ADORE Zoe Keating, I really think that The Dresden Dolls records will always trump her solo material, in my opinion.

I called out Truce from the merch table at the Twitter show in Cambridge, I texted my friends to get them to call for it as well. I knew there was no longer any point in begging her to play New Zealand, and really, Truce is more deep and meaningful than a song about periods being late, even if it IS also about my beloved home country. It was playing the first time I saw the New York skyline in February, was it? I don't really count New Years as having seen NYC. I didn't really know where I was, what I was looking at. But the second time, the real time I saw the tapering skyscrapers and felt the tingle of excitement (the same excitement I would feel every time I crossed the Williamsburg Bridge on the J or the Manhattan Bridge on the N or Q and looked towards the city, even after I'd been calling NYC my 'home' for two months), the Dolls self-titled was coming to its conclusion, and even though the specific microcosm places mentioned in Truce are all in Boston, not New York, it still meant something.

The next time I was on the bus coming into the city, I played Sing. That meant something too, but it wasn't quite the same.

5. slap bracelets

The beginning and probably end of my modelling career involved them, in fact, for the first time in weeks, there is one, the only one I own, on my wrist. It's a little disconcerting having that eye around. There are four bracelets on my wrist - that one is NYC, AFP, music. Another is family, childhood (a silver charm bracelet with a netball playing kiwi, a ballerina, a cursive letter 'B' and a book complete with bookworm). The third is friendship and slightly different childhood (a woven friendship bracelet, given to me by my friend Anna when we were probably ten or eleven, yellow and pink and green), and the last one is school, the world, and jobs (a beaded bangle that I wore to my Year Thirteen school ball, to match my golden sequinned 20s style dress. It came from Trade Aid, the first shop I ever worked in, which promotes and supports ethical and fair trade. I think it's from Tanzania). I've decided I like to jangle a bit - but only on one wrist.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ripple (9a)

9a. Love & Life [yosmark]

Oh, dear.

I guess the short reply would be: Thank god I'm turning 23 and not 89 because I know shit about both of these things.

I am going to spend the rest of my life writing the longer reply, but let me take a stab at a beginning.

These are a few of the things I've learned about love and life in my first 23 years.

I've been drawing a question mark on the inside of my left wrist every day since the beginning of July. I keep thinking that one of these days I'll forget, and the thought will fade, but every morning, or afternoon, or evening, I look at my wrist and I remember. And then, when it is smudged or washed off, I redraw it.

Live the question. It's my new mantra, coming from this great quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter he sent to a young poetry student of his:

"I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

It is an odd day when you have a blog full of answers and decide to live the questions. But this is the year I accepted that I don't have all of the answers, for myself or anyone else. And maybe I never will. But that doesn't stop me from living the questions, from asking them and loving them.

This is the year I learned how to live the questions through breaking and fixing, losing and finding, breaking and fixing, losing and finding.

I used to think that love was more about breaking and losing than fixing and finding. That true love was selflessness in the most literal sense. I lost my self in the daughter my parents wanted, the friends my friends needed, the person others told me I should be. I lost my own emotions and thoughts in someone else's and reflected them back. That kind of love is very powerful, in some ways. It's a bond where you find yourself so changed by the presence of another being that you can't separate the two, the change and the person. It's addictive. But it can't sustain, not that kind of love nor that kind of change. Your true self gets angry and resentful and fights like hell to get out.

I think real love shouldn't feel like a fight. It shouldn't feel like you are losing something, or even falling.

There is one example of true romantic love that I think back on this year, and it was of a good friend of mine who was about to marry her boyfriend after 8 years of dating. We were walking, a week before her wedding, and she told me about this cheesy book someone had given her on the "5 languages of love". Her then-fiancé's was "terms of affection", something that surprised her. She looked at me intensely and said, "Right now, we're going to be newlyweds, and we're going to be passionately in love. But it's not always going to be that way, and years from now, when we're older, I'm going to have to remember that, that I have to tell him and not just show him that I love him." And to me, that's what love is. An understanding that things will not always be same, but a series of choices that people make together to grow together and to love each other, whether it is by getting married or remembering to use "terms of affection" or taking care of each other when you get old and cranky.

So much of not only love, but also life is about choices, and learning from them. I make bad choices all the time. But those choices are just as much a part of me as my good choices. I take responsibility for the times I've walked away when I shouldn't have, the times I should have walked away, and I didn't. And then I learn and I grow and I become a better person.

And I spend a good deal of my life laughing at myself. Because really, life is hilarious, and if you don't do at least some laughing at yourself, you're probably doing it wrong.

There is so much in each of our lives that is hilarious and beautiful and worthwhile, that we don't take the time to enjoy or experience, and there is so much in every human being to love.

In that way, I have so much love in my life, because the love I give is love I have.

As for true love, of the romantic kind... I am content for the moment with drawing a question mark on my wrist and living and loving the best that I can.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


yosmark is the most awesome Mexican I know, except for the fact that he doesn't make it easy for me to kidnap him. There are other things I can say to attest to his awesomeness, but why don't you find out for yourself by adding him on twitter.


I always get a smile on my face when I see functional technology, even a bigger smile when it is technology that will/could help human beings. This video brought to my mind my future plan of traveling to the USA & specially to The Johns Hopkins University, which will be a remarkable experience and a unique trip. One of the biggest reasons to go to the USA is because Neuroengineering is nowhere around here. I would like to at least have a background before I do (or attemp) my Masters in Neuroengineering also in the USA. I could even go farther & then bring all this knowledge to my country, which is one of my biggest goals.

This is also a bit of a reminder to myself that I have to work hard, there are a shit ton of great minds in the world & if I want to be what I want to be (which is not an average person) I have to put even more effort in everything I do; always trying to do my best, being the first & most of those times achieving it. I had (as you may already know) a little crisis about my education, which after talking to people who I respect a lot went away though it is still there as a reminder that I should never give up nor stop learning new things.

This fight for always doing my best (or at least trying) made me a friendless person in my first semester in my University, not because I am a sneaky bastard who fucks everyone else so he can succed but because this people felt I should share all my homeworks & papers with them, which I considered (and still consider) one of the most stupid ideas ever. Maybe it's because of the culture of lazyness of never doing more than the required.

2. 20

Years, age & Experience are words that come to my mind all tied together, I believe I have achieved, maybe not a lot of things but at least enough things to feel proud of myself, I haven't "lived my life" as people often say, I mean I haven't went to many partys or rocked out with my friends or maybe even assaulted liquor stores just for fun (I am joking). My point is I haven't done so many "traditional fun" things. I have plans and I want to accomplish them, I just need the time to do them.


That day was filled with good and bad experiences & it was one of the most exhausting days in my life, I didn't sleep before the show, I had two exams the other day and one day before (or two I don't remember) I wrote my first functional program & delivered it to my teacher. I was really exhausted that day, though I had a compromise with Jason of filming the show so he could then extract the audio of the show (which was with this other girl who is pretty big around here named Ximena Sariñana) and put it in one of his collaboration albums as bonus tracks.

It was a sad day because in my first day of University I had to take this class... Inorganic Chemistry (which was like at 16 hrs so by that time I was really tired) class that I shared with this unbelievable cute girl named María, we talked, we liked each other, we enjoyed having long chatts discussing about everything and about nothing. So I decided I should take her to Jason Webley's show, I asked her out, she said she would go, she then cancelled the same night via text message, situation that made me sad; Though seeing Jason Webley live which is maybe my favorite singer/songwriter EVER made me happy. That same night I had my first experience as a roadie, I sold cds & shirts in the Merch Table.

4. noob

That word just reminds me of my n00b days in The Shadowbox, yet another sad situation. I joined the box on Christmas eve. I was all alone and sad in my house, my best friend got her first real relationship which as much as made me happy for him made me a lonley person & due to that I was depressed during that winter, the girl I liked by that moment would state she didn't like me.

That christmas eve I turned on my computer and I began surfing the web, found a link to the forum, joined asked some stupid questions & then left. I then came back & started posting, I filled the space that my best friend left with the internet. I started spending a lot of time on the internet posting. All this internet surfing has made me met really beautiful and great people. It also brings me back to the last Jason Webley, Jason Webley was the first artist I would meet through the internet and the one that has shocked me the most.

Some months later I would hear about Jason comming to México & that he needed help I helped him & one of my friends to make his shows possible. I remember he was interviewed in this University Radio Station... which I then found out was the Radio Station of my Current University.

Now I expect to meet more and more "internet people" to hang out with them & what not. The internet has brought me great friends & great experiences.

5. You Know You Are A Mexican When...

"There is at least one member in your family name Maria, Guadalupe, Juan, Jose, or Jesus"

This is true, I have 1 cousin named María, 2 aunts & my mother are named Guadalupe, Juan is the name of one of my uncles, José is the name of my other Uncle & Jesus is the name of an uncle & 2 cousins.

As much as I am always proud of my country I get really dissapointed at times because of the culture & the thoughts the average citizen has. This stupid "let's do the less we can" thought always make me mad.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ripple (8)



I was going to write a poem...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Sylvia creates beautiful artwork and videos. Her videos can be found here.

Je souhaitais que toute vie humaine fût une pure liberté transparente."
- Simone de Beauvoir


I wish that every human life be pure transparent freedom.

2. Silvio Berlusconi


4. "Then one day I was

walking along Tinker Creek
thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I'm still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only very rarely seen the tree with lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam." - from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
by Annie Dillard


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ripple (7)

7. enigma [Hayley]

"I have always been fascinated by what I don't understand."

I wrote that, maybe a week ago, in a journal entry, and it's very true.

Mystery is power.

There are some people in my life that think I'm an enigma. I think that's untrue. Once I'm open, I'm open and fairly uncomplicated. It just takes me a while to get there. Sometimes, though, I miss the power.


she is a sphinx
holding the answers behind
half hidden smiles

and i am a fool
trying to unlock riddles
by the moonlight

for once the truth is clear
she will vanish

she was never there at all

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Hayley has provided several links below, but I'd also like to highly recommend her and her sister's awesome radio show, Penguins in the Desert, which airs from 1-4 on Fridays (also embedded in the player on number 2).

1. “I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel

I don't think it's true that everyone loves music, but I see where Billy Joel is coming from. It can definitely be a connector, though.

It was extraordinarily disappointing to me when I made the realization that not everyone in college radio listens, appreciates or loves music. That there are some people who will DJ a music show on the radio and not give a shit about any type of music what so ever. It was a wake up call to me that my deep, passionate love for my favorite bands and for my favorite music wasn't shared, and that it was perhaps one of the most unique things about me and my radio show. It honestly was a bit shocking to me.

I am a music enthusiast, a music appreciator in the fullest sense of these words. It is part of my being - my identity - and has been for quite some time.



"We live like penguins in the desert, why can't we live like tribes?"

PROMO - Penguins in the Desert [RADIO] - Hayley and Jeri

3. "My mom"

Your mother is a lovely woman.


This was the most amazing night of my life, period. It meant so much more to me than a simple concert. It was everything I needed it to be. I met some amazing people, saw amazing art and heard amazing music. It was a spiritual experience for me.

I've been a fan of Muse since around 2001. Apocalypse Please happens to be one of my favorite songs off of the Absolution CD and as soon as Amanda played the first two chords I KNEW it was this song, though it was completely unexpected (this is the first public performance of this cover). I was glad that the microphone wasn't working, because that meant I was able to record the entire song on the video. It's funny to me because I used to tell people how impressed I was by Muse - how so much sound can come from three people (particularly live while on stage, though now they have a 4th unofficial band member playing loops and such). And when I first really got into the Dresden Dolls I thought the same - how amazing it is that so much sound, so much musical substance can come from only 2 band members.

5. "Poetry is not always words." -Audrey Foris

In 2006 then American Poet Laureate Ted Kooser spoke at my university - he was there to accept the Milton Kessler book award for his book (that actually won the Pulitzer Prize too) called Delights & Shadows. I was in an American Poet Laureate course where I read his book so this was a particularly exciting presentation for me. The President of my university introduced him but in her speech she said something about poetry being soothing and calming. I remember my instructor ranting about how ridiculous her opening was because described poetry in such a closed minded way. Poetry, my instructor said, could be chilling, it could be harsh or unsettling, it could be all-things-not-soothing.

When I went up to the signing table after the reading I told Ted Kooser how much I appreciated his poetry, how I enjoyed his perspective and how he could take observations and descriptions of ordinary things and turn them into poetry. He pays attention and I pay attention and I appreciated that. He responded with a smile and recited a few lines of a poem to me. To this day, I do not remember what those lines were and I tried to google what I remembered of them after I got back to my dorm, but maybe it's for the best that the memory of the moment exists. From my journal, I wrote the gist of the poem he recited to me: "It was basically about the importance of searching for meaning in something (or a poem) that at first glance is easy to ignore." And it really is all about paying attention.

6. “Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.” – Noam Chomsky

In 2006 Noam Chomsky spoke at my school. It was free and open to the public, the concert hall filled up quickly, even with people standing in the aisles. To accommodate the crowd the organizers opened a second theater and set up a broadcast of his lecture on a project screen but even then I think they had to turn people away. I was fortunate to not only attend, but I was in the theater where the lecture took place and had a pretty decent seat. My only regret is that I wasn't exactly aware of what the lecture was on and I was an undeclared freshman at the time - which means that did not realize I'd spend the next 4 years studying Political Science so I'd probably appreciate it more today after knowing what I now know on the subject. It was fascinating, and intriguing.

As far as the quote, it's amusing but very true. I think the average person would be surprised at how much power and control the media has in America, but what's more surprising is how people blindly follow the media without questioning. They have so much control of American politics and public opinion, it is outstanding.

7. law

8. “Isn’t it ironic… don’t you think?” – Alanis Morissette

I love Alanis Morissette, she is a musician that I respect so much. She was my first concert, my first CD, my first favorite musician, my first role model. I've been a loyal fan for years. When I saw Alanis live in 2002 this song wasn't on her set and I was disappointed about that. I didn't realize until fairly recently why it wasn't played on that tour - because it was one of the songs blacklisted by ClearChannel radio after September 11, 2001 (since the lyrics mention a plane crash). While I was in 8th grade my English teacher quoted this song in her lesson on irony on the chalk board. I raised my hand and pointed out to her that she spelled "Morissette" incorrectly. In 9th grade my English teacher also used this song for her lesson on irony. That time I raised my hand and pointed out how the examples in the lyrics that my teacher used weren't actually ironic, but just bad luck. I wasn't trying to insult the lyrics or even the teacher, but sometimes it's stupid to make a song a cliche, and to do so incorrectly. I love the fact that this song IS ironic in the sense that it's named "Ironic" and has no examples of irony - that's the irony. It was intended to be ironic and isn't. I love that. I've noticed lately that irony keeps popping up in my life (or maybe I am just more aware these days to notice it), and I am entertained by it. I'm embracing the humor of it. Irony usually happens in a sad or frustrating way, and although the ironic things that happen to me and others are not necessarily funny, the mere notice that the irony is present is enough to make me smile.


I am unfazed by any and all twin stereotypes. I've heard them all, I've been asked the same questions over and over again. Sometimes I try to have fun with it. For instance, if you tell me, "I've always wanted a twin!" I will reply, "Here, take mine!"

I'll beat you to the punch - no, we have never switched places. We've only done one "twin thing" in our life and well, it just so happens to have almost 1.5 million views on youtube, was featured on the front pages of and and oh yeah, was showed on Good Morning America and made Diane Sawyer laugh...

10. fallen souls

This is the first track off of Distorted Lullabies, Ours' debut CD released in 2001 and this video was shot not too long after the album's release. The band's line up has changed considerably since then, but I thought it was important to find a live video where the instrumentation represents the album version the best.

Pay attention at 3 minutes in to the video. At 3:15 you will hear it.
Every time this part comes on I close my eyes, I get chills and I feel a rush of emotion. For those 30 seconds I always stop what I am doing and listen. ALWAYS. Recently I was in the middle of a conversation with someone in the studio during my radio show while I was playing this song and I had to pause and say, "hold on a second - just listen." I cranked up the studio monitors and closed my eyes. I hear more in that vocal melody than I've ever heard spoken, this part of this song speaks to me and I always listen. Those notes mean more to me - the emotion in Jimmy Gnecco's voice are more relatable to me than any lyrics I've ever read/heard.

As a bonus, and I do highly recommend you listen, here's Jimmy playing it again in 2006 at an acoustic performance, his voice is incredible:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nipple Cripple (6)

Name change as requested by Oscar.

6. Mathangi Arulpragasam [Oscar]

Dear son of M.I.A.,

Sorry for the vague greeting -- all I can find of your name so far from Google is that you are not named Ickit or Pickit.  I can only imagine what your name is -- I hope something strong and useful and not too gimmicky and not too boring.

I've been asked to write about your mother, which may confuse you, because I don't actually know her.  But I think about her a lot.

In a lot of ways, I admire her -- she is creative and revolutionary with her music, fully in control of her image, and doesn't give a fuck about what people think.  She almost delivered you on the stage of the Grammy's for fuck's sake.  And she continues to surprise in an industry that is sadly depleted of surprises.  I can appreciate that.

I can also appreciate that she takes the turmoil that I have inside of being of too many cultures to ever feel fully in one -- she takes that turmoil and she makes music out of it.  That fusion of sounds reminds me that it's not always necessary to choose.

It took me a while to get there, to appreciate her art without bringing myself into conflict about her person.

I spent a lot of my college years deliberately avoiding her music.  See, I was sick of people romanticizing her, of not understanding Sri Lanka beyond what came out of her mouth.  I imagine she'll tell you about your grandfather, who some claim was one of the main engineers behind the suicide bombing techniques of the Tigers.  I wonder, always, what people say about that to their children.  

"Your grandfather worked to free our people," she might say.  "So we no longer had to live under oppression."

Maybe in her eyes, that's truth.  In my eyes, your grandfather aided in killing -- and it doesn't matter which side.  I lost a lot of faith in her when she started raising money for the tsunami and it went to a shady Tiger organization.   If you want to hear what I think about the Tamil Tigers, I'll send that other post about that. 

She has a lot of power in the world, a lot of power considering Sri Lanka.  I hope she uses it for good.  

I use her.  I use people's love for her and people's fascination for her and every time she comes up in conversation I make sure people know the other side of the conversation, that the Tigers are not as romantic as their name and the flashy graphics would suggest.

And that's why I still listen to her.  Because as much angst as she causes me sometimes, she allows me to have a platform for conversation and debate and education.  And for that, I'm truly thankful to her and her music.  

This is a lot of heavy shit for a newborn.  I hope by the time you're able to read this, this will be history, your mother will be selling lots and lots of records, and your world will be a lot more peaceful than ours.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Oscar would like you to meet some of his fascinating kin here.

1. Nils Olaf II [original prompt: Norway Knights Penguin]

Nils Olaf II is a Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian King Harald II’s Royal Guard. He just so happens to be a penguin, too. How a penguin – being the poorest, dumbest animal God created – came to this lofty position is for Wikipedia to inform. To me, Nils is a prime example of the ridiculous fantasy realm of Norway that swims about my mind. It is a land of self-infantilising lolitas, hysterical sluts, gangster rappers who read Ibsen, and dour military historians who towel off in slow motion. A refuge and stronghold that is always just on the wrong side of tangibility. This fascination has been perpetuated by my love of Norwegian folklore, re-readings of Ibsen and Hamsun, charismatic Norwegian rock bands, and my unfailing belief that Norway truly is culturally twenty years behind the rest of the world. To me, Toto are still in the charts over there. If it weren’t for the cost of living, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

2. serial killers

Albert Fish stuck pins in his scrotum and caused a blackout when he went to the chair. Ted Bundy received numerous marriage proposals… after convicted. John Wayne Gacy was never employed as a clown in any capacity. He merely liked to dress as a clown and would throw parties for the neighbourhood. A few months back, I wrote to Charles Manson, asking him advice on whether I should drop out of University. I’ve yet to receive a reply, but I hear it takes a while. I’ve moved houses since then. I’m secretly wishing the new tenant at my old address opens my mail. I’ve recently been listening again to Manson’s record he recorded. It’s not his best work.

3. jelly

As in, wibbly wobbly and eat with ice cream. Don’t use fresh pineapple in jelly. Such a thing would be folly. contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein. This interferes with the gelatine. I don’t know much about jelly, but I seem to know an awful lot about pineapples.

4. silversmithing

I might not know a whole lot about the history of the British silversmithing industry, but I probably know more than you do. This uncanny ability to know a little about a lot has led me to a life of being rather well fed on other people’s money. Growing up, I had a thirst for knowledge, always ready to ask “Why?” to the chagrin of others. Years of accumulating a knowledge of the esoteric and delightfully mundane resulted in a veritable stockpile of anecdotal ammunition, generally captivating, in part thanks to a hereditary charisma and flair for the theatrical. I once found my restaurant meal on the house, as the owner was mesmerised by my hand gestures. Upon landing in distant lands, with very little money to my name, I soon found that there was a multitude of men and women in their mid-twenties through to older decades who would delight in taking me to dinner. They’d pay the bill, and I’d drink the wine. Acquaintances would soon come to call it “prostitution”, though I preferred to call myself a raconteur. Indeed, I even indulged in after-dinner speeches; my most lengthy running just shy of four hours. My name became a verb, my stories become real stories – a great storyteller will pick up on those tiny glimmers of gold in an experience, decontextualise and recreate in an oft-fantastical vision, focussing on the fascinating rather than the wholly accurate. It’s this glamour - facilitated by charm - that can keep a young man alive… to an extent.

5. Self-Portrait of the Artist, aged 10

I was a rather mundane little thing; in some respects I still think this is the case. At the age of ten, or there about, I moved counties, lost all my friends, started anew. Losing what you have and starting from scratch is a liberating and cathartic experience; one I’ve encountered more than once, since. It enables one to assume a new persona, a new character, and play it out with conviction, as long as you have the wit to do so. At age ten I became the public school educated, cold, austere buffoon. “Precocious” would be a fitting description, though certainly I could always have been labelled as such. Donning mask after mask can result in an easy route into legend, into a cult of personality. It also brings great detachment, which itself has its pluses, as well as its obvious minuses. Age ten was the leap into a decade (and then some) of acting. Acting the fool, really. A holy fool, perhaps a Shakespearean fool. A knowing trickster, certainly. Worlds can come crashing down, if one lets them. Sometimes it helps, in a masochistic way, to allow someone to unravel the web of intrigue, and face it (or them) head on. Subversion can become impeccably dull, if it simply becomes de rigueur and without any real purpose other than fun. That’s where I fall short: I’m not a real trickster. I’m human, you see. Hermes I am not. Hermes is something to aspire to, though.

… Hermes was the god of thieves, traders, businessmen, liars, wit, literature, athletics, rhetoric, the misleading sentence, travel, messenger to the Olympians and guide to the dead. He was the interpreter of hidden meaning.

He fascinated me, so did similar deities such as the Egyptian Thoth or the Norse Loki (a great equaliser). It was Hermes role as trickster that really grabbed my attention.

The trickster is oft portrayed as an opponent to the hero, but to me the trickster IS the hero. He is the deceiver, trick player, and situation inverter. Transformation, travelling, high deeds, and power. The trickster is a boundary-crosser.

The trickster crosses both physical and social boundaries-- the trickster is often a traveller, and he often breaks societal rules. Tricksters cross lines, breaking or blurring connections and distinctions between "right and wrong, sacred and profane, clean and dirty, male and female, young and old, living and dead". The trickster often changes shape to cross between worlds. In his role as boundary-crosser, the trickster sometimes becomes the messenger of the gods.

The role of the clown as the sacred and lewd bricoleur is very important to me. The paradox between laughter and sanctity is one that enthrals me. But it really is so crucial. Laughter opens you up from rigid preconceptions. You can forget the sanctity through upset, surprise or piety. It was the clown’s job to cross this boundary and bring people closer to god. A messenger, of sorts.

The trickster represents a certain flexibility of mind and spirit, a willingness to defy authority and invent clever solutions that keeps cultures (and stories) from becoming too stagnant.

But trickster stories also have something to say about how culture gets created, and about the nature of intelligence.

The old myths say that the trickster made the world as we actually find it. Other gods set out to create a world more perfect and ideal, but this world––with its complexity and ambiguity, its beauty and its dirt––was the trickster's creation, and the work, my friend, is not yet finished

There are no absolute truths, just different perspectives, and so the association and juxtaposition of ideas across subjects is thus one of the most valuable tasks we can perform.

6. charm [original prompt: "Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question." - Albert Camus]

I believe that charm can be a learned art. And an art it is. As the name suggest, it is a spell you cast over others. It is a transient experience, easily dispelled at the first falter. I never seemed to knowingly learn it, and it has been with me since I can remember. Going by my ancestry, I’d make the assumption that I was born with it. As such I don’t find it particularly draining, as I’m barely aware of what I’m doing. I don’t fully understand it, either. Why anyone would find me, a bastard to the core, charming is beyond me. Especially when I often go out of my way to enforce the fact that I am, indeed, a right cunt, only looking out for myself. I’ve been known to charm people who are simply eavesdropping into a conversation I am having. As previously stated, I’ve mesmerised people with mere hand gestures. Some part of this I put down more to the fact that I am unusual – my accent, appearance, history and presentation are all not quite ordinary. My knowing bastardry usually stays on the well, charming, side of roguish. It’s something I have felt a necessary to perpetuate, lest I become hungry again.

7. priesthood

My religious beliefs lay somewhere between Ignatius of Loyola, Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, Seraphim Rose and Bertrand Russell. Raised by Jesuits and sired by a devout Atheist, I naturally became fascinated by both Islamic and Western Esotericism. At one point I was going to become a priest. Then again, at different points I was going to become a lawyer and a doctor. A family tradition. All of these fell by the wayside as I found myself increasingly jaded by the world around me.

The piece of writing that had the most profound effect on me would be Henri Corbin’s essay on the Mundus Imaginalis. This key can be found here:

8. insecurity

9. Self-Portrait of an Artist, aged 30

Dans une vie anterieure, j'etais professeur de la psychologie anormale, et j'etais institutionnalise a cause d'avoir trop identifie avec mes patients. Le plus je les voyais, le moins bourgeoises et plus "nuancees" mes idees devenaient.

Ceci alarmait mes collegues, qui me traitaient donc de "boheme, anarchiste, schizophrene, et sociopathe, tout a fait incapable de pratiquer la medecine professionnelle."


il paraissait insatisfait, et disait : "alors vous pouviez pas me donner votre parole que vous ne tenez pas aux corps astraux et tout ça ?"

"je pourrais," disait margaret, surprise que cela lui importait. "en effet, je le ferai. quand je parlais de laver mon aura, ce n'était que pour rire. mais pourquoi voulez-vous que tout ça soit arrangé ?"

"je ne sais pas."

"allons, mr. wilcox, vous le savez bien."

My memoirs by that point shall most likely be titled “On The Dreariness of Being Somebody.”

Here’s to that Hell.

Oh, either that or I’ll be in the circus. That was my childhood dream. Still is.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ripple (5)

5. The Tamil Tigers [Rob]

For background:

I've been asked a lot about Sri Lanka recently, which makes sense, seeing as the war there (which has been happening for about 25 years) is reaching a crescendo and is finally hitting even American news, which is usually almost criminally inattentive to world news.

You can, of course, read the links above for all of the facts (very often biased towards one side or another) of what is going on, and do your own Google searching.  I'll be happy to answer any comments/questions to the best of my ability if you leave them up here, or even debate with you, as I'm trying not to make this entry too too long.  

But this blog is not about facts.

I've been trying to remember the first time I was aware of the Tamil Tigers' existence. It was always spoken about in my family, and I remember going to rallies in front of the White House even when I was very little, but the base of those memories for me was more the excitement of a trip or the fact that my mom made different foods to take.

 The clearest memory I have is the day before I turned 13.  I was in Sri Lanka for the summer.  We were at my grandmother's house when we heard a dull boom.  The power was being cut somewhere around 8 at night those days, and so it was eerie, this noise, coming through candlelit night.

We found out it was a train bombing soon enough, and my mother worried if one of my cousins was on the train, coming from work.  It turned out that, although in total 86 people died, my cousin was OK, and the only relative that was injured was a distant uncle who lost a leg.  It's a weird thing to be thankful that all that was lost was a leg.

A few years later, I would meet and become very good friends with a boy who lost both his mother and sister in that bombing.  

I think the Tamil Tigers, at the head, are terrorists.  They go after civilians, regardless whether they are Sinhalese (the majority ethnic group) or Tamil.  Right now, as the SL military is pushing ahead, there are Tamil civilians (70,000-250,000 depending on who you are asking) who are trapped in Tiger territory.  Apparently as these Tamils are trying to flee the site of fighting, to government designated safe areas (which, admittedly, may be no better than concentration camps), they are getting shot at.  The Tigers know that if they don't have a civilian shield, they will get defeated.

I feel the most for Tamil civilians in all of this.  The Tigers claim to be fighting for them, but now this has all become a power struggle where innocent people are damned.  Even people who end up becoming suicide bombers -- they are pawns.  Poverty-stricken, brainwashed, hopeless, with no alternatives, they kill themselves in the hopes of... what?  An escape?  A cause they don't quite understand?  Reverence?  What sort of desperation brings you to kill others with your own  body?

But the head of the Tamil Tigers, mainly Vellupi Prabhakaran, a basically uneducated guy who became the leader -- I have little sympathy for him and those directly under him.  He is the brainwasher, the one in power, the coward who sends others off to die.   

The pacifist in me has trouble with wanting someone to die.  I'd like to see him captured, to let the world see his face and understand how much misery he has brought what was once paradise.  But it is unlikely he will be captured alive.  

I hope with all of my heart that this war is over soon.  I hope the North can be rebuilt, that the Sinhalese and Tamils can live together without resentment of each other, and when I have my own children, I can take them up there without risking being shot.  I've been told it was a beautiful place.

Monday, March 2, 2009


In lieu of a link, Rob asked me to share this Rumi excerpt with you:

Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks;
it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

Yes Yes – Charles Bukowski

when God created love He didn't help most
when God created dogs He didn't help dogs
when God created plants that was average
when God created hate we had a standard utility
when God created me He created me
when God created the monkey He was asleep
when He created the giraffe He was drunk
when He created narcotics He was high
and when He created suicide He was low

when He created you lying in bed
He knew what He was doing
He was drunk and He was high
and He created the mountains and the sea and fire at the same time

He made some mistakes
but when He created you lying in bed
He came all over His Blessed Universe.

A Bukowski love poem is a strange thing indeed. Irreverent in everything he did; romance was no exception. Both his fear of and his desire for intimacy are evident in his writing. One other thing is also clear though…He did know…and have love.

Many people may see blasphemy here, or at least expect me to see it. I don’t. I see a man, trying to explain…trying to articulate with his set of circumstances and his tools, a point of view that is common to all men and foreign to most.

2. “We've been very arrogant in assuming that there's a sharp line dividing us from the rest of the animal kingdom. We are not the only beings on this planet with personalities, minds, and, above all, emotions. We need to be more respectful.” – Jane Goodall

While I do agree with Dr. Goodall’s conclusion, I believe that our “arrogance” is well founded. In fact, the very reason for that arrogance should be what brings us into a deeper respect for our surroundings- both entities with personalities, minds, and emotions and entities without those traits. The sharp line does exist, but not where many believe. It’s not a physical or mental line. The sharp line divides the soul from the spirit. The fact that my creator endowed me with the awesome power and responsibility that come with the knowledge of good and evil inspires me to be a good steward of all that He has entrusted to me.

3. cracker

The year…1995. The setting…South Central.

Early one Saturday morning, my Uncle Ron and I were on our way to the Promise Keepers’ Conference being held at the L.A. Coliseum. Having some time to kill and a couple of empty stomachs, I suggested we walk down Figueroa to find a place for some breakfast. My Uncle felt a little unsure about the idea, especially since I was sporting my Cracker Kerosene Hat tour tee shirt. I had thought nothing of it until he mentioned it, and didn’t think much of it afterwards either. So, we set off in search of Biscuits and gravy. We came upon a place with a sign out front that had something to do with Southern home cooking or something like that and went inside. As expected, we were the only two in the place with complexions lighter than coffee and cream. Once again, this seemed to ruffle my Uncle just a little bit. We grabbed a booth and ordered our food. The details of the conversation that morning are lost to me now, but I remember asking my Uncle if he was scared about something (it was in no way related to our choice of venue). The waitress walked up to refresh our coffee just in time to here my query. She looked at my Uncle With the kindest of eyes and said, Ah, honey…don’t be scared…”

4. liberal

I was one once. The residue remains. I think that’s okay.

5. Sheena was a Punk Rocker

Well the kids are all hopped up and ready to go
They're ready to go now
They've got their surfboards
And they're going to the discotheque a go go
But she just couldn't stay
She had to break away
Well New York City really has it all
Oh yeah, oh yeah

For the longest time, I have wanted to be a Ramone! Pure and raw, the Ramones embody everything that is Rock ‘n’ Roll. Loud and fast, they made up for their lack of skill with outright will. Down and dirty they never cared much about image. Music was it for the Ramones. Dee Dee wanted to be a rock star, Joey wanted to be a pop star and Johnny was just to cool to care about anything but being cool while Tommy- then Marky sat in back and pounded out the fastest rhythms ever imagined. The Ramones ushered my generation and all that have followed into an era of music where everyone is cool enough to be whatever they want to be.

6. Amanda Palmer in your living room [Ripple's note: This list was created at the end of December, and I will be asking for a follow up]

Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction. I will have to write a follow up to this one at the end of next month. Thanks to the best friends I never met.

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

The Onion is my kind of humor!


[Ripple's note: Rob actually got a different video when he clicked than the one above, so this part no longer makes sense.  However, he maintains the first and second parts of his answer are universally true.]


Jennifer Love Hewitt has a huge head

8. quesadilla

The first quesadilla I ever experienced (and it was an experience [life changing even]) was made for me by my Aunt Sue. We were camping in Idyllwild and she asked if we wanted one. Once she explained what it was, I spent a moment wondering why I hadn’t thought of that before. Of course I would like one…or several…thousand.

Aunt Sue made them with Corn Tortillas, Jack cheese and Ortega chiles. They were everything I imagined them to be and more. Needless to say, I have had several thousand since that day twenty-some years ago. I have had them with steak, with chicken, with mushrooms, with all kinds of cheeses with all kinds of sauces and salsas and other condiments, but I can still taste the first one, the one Aunt Sue cooked for me so long ago in the mountains.

9. Presbysterian vs. Catholic Church Sign Debate (Ripple's note: regarding the Snopes link -- I already knew that, so there.)

As far as what side of the debate I’m on, I’m not. It’s not for me to worry about.

10. winter sports

Until about 5 years ago, winter sports were something I watched on television. Downhill skiing and ski jumping have always held my attention. More recently, Freestyle snowboarding and boarder x have entered my winter sports portfolio.

Since that fateful day in 2004 when my brother asked me if I wanted to go to his place in Montana and try snowboarding, I have been a fiend. If I’m not riding, I’m thinking about my next trip. If it’s snowing, I wonder how much will fall. If it’s not snowing, I wonder when it will. I m jonesing as I type now.

I have been back from our annual boys’ week in Montana for exactly one month, and I can’t stand it. I stare at the San Gabriel Mountains- home of Snow Summit- towering over the desert every day. They mock me and I curse them. Yet, my love for the sport will not let me hold a grudge. The slopes call to me…to something deep inside that only the rush of the wind in my hair and the snow under my board can understand. They call me to something that only the freedom of free riding can satisfy.

Here is a video of a few friends, my brother and myself shredding some powder in big sky a few years ago. I am in the first two shots, and the last two shots.

Liz E

Liz E is the vocalist of Freezepop. She totally sent this to me a month ago, and I missed it because I thought my mail from that account was getting forwarded to a different account. It was not. Also, in the meantime, two of the youtube videos I sent her both got taken down (and I don't even remember what they were). I left the links and responses in for truth. Listen to Freezepop's awesome dance/electronic/fun music here. (or you know, Guitar Hero/Rock Band/etc.)

1. sprøde

2. Boston


3. sushi

i like avocado sushi a whole lot.

4. party like it's 1999

i already did that, in 1999.
uh, somebody took the video down.

6. hipster

these kids sure do like bandanas nowadays. and beards.
they took this one down too! WMG is cracking down!i don't have any of those albums.


that looks so simple, even i could play it! maybe.

10. 2030 videogames

i'll still be playing colecovision smurfs.


This one is a short one (and hopefully a placeholder for more) to remind people that the site still exists. Lashingoutloud sent me these a while back and agreed that I could post just these responses until she was done with the rest.

1. brother

All of my friends had brothers who would protect them. I had a brother whose maturity level I passed at seven.

2. "But for now we are young/Let us lay in the sun/And count every beautiful thing we can see" - "In an Aeroplane Over the Sea", Neutral Milk Hotel

I had a boy in my life who could play this song on the guitar. I was drunk and he was drunk, and we sat on an air mattress drunk and giggling in his roommate's bedroom and I tried to remember the lyrics while he strummed an out-of-tune guitar. It was one of those "so imperfect that it was perfect" moments. We were young. It was beautiful. I count it.

3. high school

I was called a lot of things in high school. Fat, ugly, fat, fat, fat, ugly. Maybe I was just called a few things a lot of times. This is why I’m as frustrating as I am. I look in a mirror and see “ugly fat ugly fat.” I date a boy and assume he sees “ugly fat ugly fat.” I’m insecure and it is an indirect result of high school. I sat alone at lunch. I spent my freshman year of high school never eating in front of anyone and then going home to indulge in Smartfood and Cheetos. Eat and sleep. Eat and sleep. Not until the end of high school did I give a shit about my body – and that was a direct result to what people were saying. I stopped eating 2 family sized bags of Doritos a day – I walked a little more and napped a little less. I made friends (some of whom I still have today). This is all because of my insecurities. I was too insecure to be alone anymore.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ripple (4)

4. the spinning dancer [Mary]

wait to see

curve and rhythm,

the body inseparable

from the air, the stage falling

from beneath to make way for the feet turning

on point like the end of a brief and passionate argument

when ex-lovers decide

to dance



Sunday, January 11, 2009


Please, go and listen to the beautiful music Mary makes with her band The Bewitched here.

1. Obama

Notes to self:

1. obama is not jesus (sidhartha, mohammad)

2. a unique opportunity is at hand

3. duty is a double-edged sword

elated as i am about obama's election, like most adults with some knowledge of history, i'm prudently skeptical of all government officials, even those for whom i've cast my votes. nor can i discount the effects that recent scandals, documented corruption and outright illegal behavior have had on my view of american domestic and global policies and how i respond to what i consider my civic duties.

so here i stand with my countrywomen and men, gazing at the mirage-like promise of the next four years while i try to rub the exhaustion and defeat of the bush years from my eyes. how to keep myself in the here and now? how to be realistic and optimistic simultaneously? recall notes 1 -3 above, apply vigorously and repeat.

1. obama is not jesus (sidhartha, mohammad)

he's an educated, experienced human, fallible, subject to circumstances he can't and shouldn't control and answerable both to those who elected him and those who did not. he's charged with enormous responsibilities, while being limited in his power and he's also, in my mind, the best person for the job of president of the united states. as such, he'll need the cooperation of congress and the public to begin a what is sure to be a lengthy discourse on where we've been and where we're headed. one, i hope, will lead to measurable progress toward a new economic stability, as well as global responsibility.

2. a unique opportunity is at hand

there's a partisan pile to dig out from under and the diamond is in the roughest state i've ever seen it in, but there appears, in this president-elect and the new congress, a glimmer. some of us use that dangerous word "hope" and suggest we'll have to get down to bare bones if we plan to restore something of our founding ideals and fashion them into a workable vision for this century and beyond. obama thinks we will. and what exactly, idealistically and practically does bare bones look like? obama's not 100% sure (is anyone?) but i'm confident he knows his american history and economic theory well enough to know it won't be easy and there will have to be some fundamental concessions from team red and team blue.

obama is well-acquainted with the pros and cons of government influence on commercial interests and to his credit avoids black and white thinking about what can be practically accomplished in the short run. he's also aware we're coming out of an extended period of entrenched partisanship over the laissez faire economic philosophy that is the heart of capitalism and has dominated politically since reagan. at the same time he knows how far behind we've fallen competitively in the global marketplace and without government reinvestment in education, technology and energy we'll continue on a path of bankrupting our stockholders, selling out our children and growing a new population of poor not seen since the great depression. a new system of sharing risks and rewards? wow, what a concept. are we willing to do it? as a u.s. citizen today, and as skeptical as i often am, i want to move forward in a spirit of bipartisanship because i believe the future of the globe depends on it.

3. duty is a double-edged sword

duty is what compels us to act on what we believe is "right" and can accomplish much that is positive and just. a sense of duty can inspire and motivate us in ways that material rewards cannot. we spring into action on the prompting of duty.

duty can also destroy us when in acting on our on beliefs we narrow our thinking to exclude the dutiful actions of others and the beliefs undergirding them. we justify what we do with a moral superiority that blinds us to how we are creeping toward the thing we profess to hate.

as a country i think it's important that we do our duty at home and in the world, but before we act, it's imperative to look closely at our motivations and acknowledge what it is that truly sustains us. then we must act courageously to hold our elected officials accountable to their duties.

let's have an "a" for audacity and here's to hoping we americans have the heart and the moxie to match obama's.

2. tea with the dead

having taken tea with the dead
i can tell you their manners are atrocious
the backs of their heads have eyes you don't want to see
please, never stand on ceremony

they know nothing of mornings
soft with green tea honey
warm constancy calming their lungs
after nights of calling
solemn steeping after languid sleeping

show them no pity
when you offer milk and cup
their lips are scorched, they've enough cold talk
they want luck with hot black steam in their nostrils

3. Father offers daughter to shoe-thrower

i laughed and threw a few virtual shoes at bush in the days following this incident too.

if anything illustrates the magnitude of hatred toward our exiting president, and by extension our country, this does. that a man would offer what he considers of greatest value (that it's his daughter is the subject of another blog) to someone who hurled the ultimate cultural insult at our president may strike reuters as "odd," but to me is very telling of our underestimation of anti-u.s. sentiment and sadly reflects our lack of sensitivity to the perceptions of our world neighbors.

this reminds me of "war talk" by arundhati roy. i've returned to this book many times in past five years and much of its foreshadowing chills me particularly now.

"Donald Rumsfeld said that his mission in the War Against Terror was to persuade the world that Americans must be allowed to continue their way of life. When the maddened king stamps his foot, slaves tremble in their quarters. So, standing here today, it's hard for me to say this, but The American Way of Life, is simply not sustainable. Because it doesn't acknowledge that there is a world beyond America."


i love how this video opens. with the palms of saul's hands moving closer to the camera lens, the lines clearly visible and then they separate and he's in your face!

"i've got a list of demands written on the palms of my hands."

the demands? they're all for justice ("we're living hand to mouth") and ideals that never came to fruition.

they're written on flesh instead of paper because they're ongoing, non-negotiable, and acutely felt.

this song was used in a nike commercial awhile back and saul came under fire from some of his fans for "selling out." because he's committed to activism through his art, he argued that the opportunity to have the song heard by a wider audience, and thereby potentially draw more listeners to the body of his work and its message, made it worth the compromise. steadfastness to ideals is admirable, but if the means to the ends aren't working and the message isn't being received, it's time to rethink the means.

saul's live show is not to be missed. i got my chance in 2008:

5. gothic

i've been drawn to gothic literature since childhood. anything really that explores our shadow selves, the qualities and impulses we're taught to subjugate, even disown, in favor of the more pleasant, polite and socially sanctioned qualities of our natures.

what we seem to be most intolerant of in others are those things we will not accept, or in some cases even acknowledge, about ourselves. accepting doesn't mean we act on these capabilities, of course, but admitting we possess them is liberating and examining their unuttered influence on our outward actions challenges what we've internalized and agreed to without question. it's uncomfortable and necessary if we are to progress as human beings.

it fosters tolerance and compassion that we know ourselves to be capable of what we abhor, should our circumstances have been different. and in that recognition comes the first impetus toward justice.

"I come like a woman

who I am
spreading out through the nights
laughter and promise
and dark heat
warming whatever I touch
that is living
consuming only
what is already dead." - excerpt from
"The Women of Dan Dance With Swords in Their Hands to Mark the Time They Were Warriors" by Audre Lorde

this is a poem of refutation, affirmation and validation.
it refutes the parochial views of woman as achilles heal, earth momma and self-sacrificial saint and states with conviction what we actually are: human, unfathomable and deeply aware of an unarticulated past.
regarding the last line specifically, the affirmation and validation of our innate power, audre reminds us that our essential selves have immeasurable impact and despite overt acknowledgment our influence continues to gain strength as we subsume the illusory divide.

7. youth

on my thirtieth birthday, a colleague 15 years my senior gave me a tee that read "age and treachery will overcome youth and vigor." everyone laughed the knowing cackle of inevitability and the party broke up a early on excuses like, "well, it is a work night."

beneath the typical vanity issues, there's a great deal more that frightens and confounds us about age. we let go of more than meets the eye, in order to be "taken seriously" in the game of life. certainly it's desirable and necessary to attain some of our goals, mature emotionally and accept greater responsibilities if we're to become card carrying "grown-ups," but i would suggest that we lose more than we realize by talking to ourselves negatively about age and giving up ways of thinking and behaving we identify as the sole domains of "youth."

the way we talk to ourselves in a world of measurement most certainly appears to affect how we feel about our life choices and our ongoing potential for personal fulfillment. from actually saying or merely thinking things like "i'm too old for that" or "come on, don't be ridiculous" to actually giving up formerly enjoyable activities with no real obstacle except a generally accepted belief or a fear of being ostracized, keeps many from personal happiness.

so, is aging strictly a biological process? do our beliefs and accompanying choices give rise to what we consider "inevitable" entropy?

i view psychological age (how old you feel you are) as much more impactful than its chronological counterpart, and as such, highly subject to our self-talk and attitude.

perhaps the wisdom of age is that we are capable of retaining the best aspects of youth (curiosity, adaptability, openness, pursuit of innovation, fitness, etc.) simply by making the choice to continue embracing them. and that's hardly treachery. that's just smart.

8. Trent Reznor Upset His Music Used to Torture Prisoners...

i'm a long time opponent of prisoner torture and government-sponsored prisoner torture is particularly reprehensible. music torture is sub-form of psychological torture and is arguably as devastating, if not more so, than physical torture.

an amazing advocacy resource for this issue exists in the center for victims of torture in minneapolis. the cvt web site has tons of useful info for anyone interested in learning more and taking action. here's the cvt page on the effects of psychological torture:

for more info on the musician's campaign to end music torture, here's the web site:

and here's an article/call to action for president-elect obama from the washington post - rejecting the torture legacy:

9. "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." - Victor Hugo

i think this is why music affects us as profoundly and widely as it does and why it has the ability to alter minds and hearts in a way that is more inclusive than linguistics. the range of emotional content that seems otherwise inexpressible (or at least very difficult to convey) has another "language" with which to communicate itself (and this is true of painting, dance, photography also).

i would add that no one vehicle of expression has the ability to convey all that an individual is.

10. muffin

dear muffins,

feed your muffins these yummy, um, muffins.

sweet potato muffins (these are great on a cold winter evening with soup and salad)

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
finely grated sweet potato (about 2 small/med. sweet potatoes or 8 oz. if you use a kitchen scale)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (you can adjust slightly if you like them a bit cheesier and mix yellow and white cheddars too, but don't waste your drier english and irish cheddars, save those for the cheese board)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

peel and grate sweet potatoes. set aside.

in a large bowl, gently whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, minced fresh sage and salt. use a wooden spoon and add the sweet potato and cheese. combine, then make a well in the center.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. lightly brush muffin tin with olive oil.

in a small bowl combine olive oil, egg and buttermilk with a whisk and pour into the well and mix until just combined for a thick batter. spoon batter into prepared muffin tins one tablespoon at a time, dividing the batter evenly among the muffin molds.

if using a jumbo tin, bake for 35 minutes, raising the temperature to 400 degrees during the last 4 minutes. if using a regular sized muffin tin, bake for 25 minutes, raising the temperature to 400 degrees during the last 4 minutes. keep an eye on the muffins after you've raised the temperature to prevent over-browning. muffins are done when light golden. cool for at least 5 minutes before removing them from the tin. if cooling for longer than 5 minutes, move to a cooling rack to avoid soggy bottoms. served warm is best.


About Me

I am interested in the human condition.