He said he was going to take a walk around the block to clear his mind. Stretch his legs. Escape. He never came back. A map of states’s preferences for corn or potato chips forever frozen on his desktop screen.
Battle for references, a retirement to the absence of —
On Wednesday, I was reminded artists should “support each other religiously.” This community-level policy is seductive, whose root is “to lead astray.” Oceans of context transfer nervous energy. Is thinking out loud unprofessional?
It’s come down to semiotic analysis of utterances. This weekly cathartic release looping endlessly to create a low frequency hiss. A similar process to the way valleys take the weight, form, and shape of foggy mornings or as secure as refuge.
you got no fear of the underdog / that’s why you will not survive – Spoon, The Underdog
This violence looks good on you. Fitted. Proper. My opinion, of course.
All apologies have been returned to sender. Transparency is seasonal.
No stability is guaranteed. Can we at least agree it is sacred territory?
This is a good-bye letter. My reasons rolling out like smoke from fire.
If you are a private poet, then your vocabulary is limited by your obsessions.
— Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town
It’s a fact. Cycles sync. It is October, 2016. The word pussy is in our mouths again. Full and heavy bodied, it’s paired with a specific violence as naturalized as an inherited ownership tone. This is the fetishized frequency of law and order.
*** you’ve got to stack it so it’s stable – Low, No Comprende ***
So this is what whiplash from a mass capture of imagination feels like. A forced common image. Pussy, for now, functions as an ironic partisan anchor, while still maintaining its gendered significations.
What is the whole of this historical objectification of our parts? Patriarchal logic argues that this violence of disassociation is necessary and even desired. This detachment is inherent in our economic theories, consumer-based language, and mass-produced representations.
We learn, repeatedly, there are far more serious and urgent issues to concern ourselves with than ritualized gender-based violence. We are dismissed. We are told to question less and obey more.
*** underneath this hood you kiss, I tick like bomb – Perfume Genius, Hood***
We perform this idealized creed through a perpetual liturgy of demure expressions in a culture that protects mobs of high-volume denials. This contemporary shrill masculinity is socially recycled into discourses that tap into an idolization of individual perspective. For most, this illusion only creates isolation.
Manipulating the dark side of vulnerability isn’t a new strategy to win elections, or maintain control. What feels different this Presidential election cycle is the dredge of cultural material to mine and the hypervoyeurism that has been produced. Public and private boundaries are as unstable as our contemporary understanding of when virtual becomes reality.
As we bare witness to the misogyny that rages beneath all our sacred institutions, may the soundtrack to this ride to November include Magnet by Bikini Kill.
I’m keeping this advice on a loop: I’ve got the love that’s strong and not weak.
“Because there’s 40 different shades of black…” Pavement Elevate Me Later
I promise to hold your gaze, even those that are unwanted.
Or the erotic retelling of my life as told through your eyes.
It is the specifics that matter when we confess. Some may believe that is enough. The confession is the means to the end. But what would happen if we thought of that release as the beginning?
Until that expositional moment, those words, thoughts, opinions are internalized truths that are ours alone to own and to hold. Now they are all of ours to absorb, to manage, to learn from, and to let go to make room for what we do not yet know.
Please forgive me. I did what I was told to do. I was bound to pick up bad habits after all those hours of witnessing evangelizing and attempts at redemption.
I was taught over and over again, no matter what I did, I was never going to be good enough. I was taught my body was not mine and out of my control. I am just now understanding how much obvious violence, subtle and insidious, is needed to give your soul away.
There is a primacy in this ritual of naming, recording, and distilling into something that only I understand. I won’t be so naive to think that a mirror’s only job is to reflect.
Geographies contain multipliers.
They are containers of dreams,
a space for visions.
Think about how many details we leave out when we tell stories about ourselves. Those intimate moments where spectacle meets nuance. All those ways we understand dimensions as coordinates – maps of contested margins. I don’t assume you read any of this, which is why I can be so matter-of-fact.
In fact every Sunday, until I found an alternative, I learned about the consequences of taking things literally, from a biblical perspective. It was my orientation to the world. Now, I find myself drawn to phrases like loving witness and learned that the prescribed strategy for getting out of disasters is to help yourself.
We are racing to the airport. I am anxious. She tells me her depression is incurable. So deep that strapping electrodes to her brain won’t help, or if it did, it would only be temporary relief. So deep that she can’t wash knives in the kitchen sink when the bottomless darkness sets in. She can see herself slashing herself to death, making the motions, trading hands to make the gestures of listening to those urges, one hand always on the steering wheel. She tells me she is no longer afraid to die and that is how she has been able to survive.
Per the Lesbian Avengers Handbook, “If you want revenge, call a meeting.” We are witness to a multi-faceted yet homogenous movement of bravely executed familiar tactics. I see expression and glimmers of radical cultural building but I also see spectacle and vérité.
Your cheekbones reflect light and your heart is your information center. We listen with our eyes. How will you leverage your purview?
I’ve been cataloging the good things, every day, and re-learned that music is my panacea.
“…If I could have a clue what justice is, it would be more than I deserve” – Palace Music
That’s not true, sometimes I dance when I’m alone. My voyeur is Trotsky. There is joy in moving your body to a well crafted rhythm. With brave hips and confident expression, I am amplified.
When did I learn to view life from such an out-of-body perspective? Building complex layers of assumptions about how others see me, a fortress of bricks comprised of invisibility and insignificance. It’s a portentous hustle.
Our death marches are a boon to my psyche. Confession produces truths. My heart waltzes with many partners. My body is my own. My knowledge ars erotica.
Yet this departure is different. I leave satisfied, (more) complete, and stronger.
Finding a way to translate these past five years is proving difficult. It’s a matter of who and what, and more importantly, how they fit together into some cohesive vision. The fracturing of my experiences was both thrilling and gut wrenching.
I carry with me a mosaic of memories that have become the foundation for my curiosity, exploration, and awakening. There were lessons that challenged assumptions, opportunities to find and use my voice, and the warm realization that autonomy requires an incredible support system.
Watching self-defined riot grrl, Sara Marcus, read from her book, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrl Revolution, was nostalgic inducing. Feeling that old confidence, the passion, and the idealism of being what you want and not giving a damn was rebellion in its purest form.
Sara wrote this “true story” because as she articulated, “the specificity needed to be reclaimed.” Riot Grrl was more than music, it was a radical feminist youth-led movement to change shit. I was late to the grrl party but its influence was still thrashing, even in the heart of America. It changed and shaped me. It was the method of delivery that infected my consciousness; a theory of practicing what you preach.
Ending with “settle for nothing less than absolutely everything,” I walked home with a little extra revolution in my hips.
It’s taken me awhile to get over my pop headache after attending the 8th Annual Pop Conference at the EMP. Dance Music Sex Romance: Pop and the Body Politic was meant to be provocative and stimulating for those inclined to think that discussing body politics in academic speak is stimulating.
I attended these sessions: Dance This Mess Around, Shock and Awe, Sexual Healing and Relocating Desire.
Dance this Mess Around was a chance to rap lackadaisically about feminism, pop culture, and the subtle nuances of transformative action. The session was worth sneaking out of work for two hours to be with intelligent women theorizing about embodiment, sexism, and rock and roll. However, it became apparent that the average Jane off the street (someone like me) wasn’t supposed to actually be in attendance. Inside jokes, giggles, and academic speak were alienating. I walked away with more questions (Why does Brittany Spears matter so much?) than solutions which was no fault of the session. I fault the moderators taking for granted that not everyone has the daily opportunity to engage in such theoretical banter. It was illustrative to know that “selling out” isn’t cause for alarm but rather the messy dance of living in a fucked up society.
Shock and Awe sought to inform the audience of “redeeming pleasure outside transgression” and demonstrate how sexual identities act as branding tactics. It was during the first two presentations that I became convinced that I was a spy. It was a cold blooded realization that seeking intellectual activities outside of sanctioned “school” settings is deviant. Attending “academic” events shouldn’t invoke feelings of awkwardness but it was made clear that talking about something you’d never done and falsely assuming the role of expert was the goal for most the conference participants. It was a display of cock feathers and mundane circumstance. And then David Thomas spoke. David Thomas’ rant on being Keane (a hypothetical sexual identity constructed to sell junk) was brilliant. He bravely pointed out the lameness of the entire conference. He used the phrase, “reactionary confection,” to describe punk. He called out the absurdity of demanding equality when paralyzing discourses of defining/stereotyping continue to dominate how we speak and understand music. Thomas used The Raincoats to illustrate his point that good music is good music. He came with the purpose of agitating the crowd – a hostile crowd of critics and analyzers. During the Q&A, Thomas yelled out, “You’re destroying culture.” It was validation that letting others speak and define your existence is suspect at best and dangerous at worst.
Sexual Healing and Relocating Desire were painful continuations of the conference theme to lure with catchy titles and bore with talking-at-you-presentations. Sarah Douger’s presentation was interesting only because she played rare vinyl lesbian folk rock. The next presentation on Adult Contemporary (AC) music was valuable only for its questions that were raised around how adult contemporary music and women in the workplace has influenced this slice of the radio pie. The shift of AC to “workplace” music assumes the normalization of women in the workplace and the conscious effort of radio executives to harness that demographic into raising millions of advertising dollars. Using music to sell products certainly isn’t a new phenomenon and the apathy of such a phenomenon was chilling. The “Let’s (Not) Get It On – Or, Fucking to ‘Songs About Fucking‘ and Other Uncomfortable Developments in the Awkward Relationship Between What We’re Going to Have to Just Agree to Call Indie Rock and Sexuality in the 1990s” won the prize for longest title and saddest personal diatribe.
If not for David Thomas, the experience would have been an alienating waste of time. There were little to no valid critiques of classism, racism, and despite the titillating title, a real lack of discussion around gender/sexism. It really was reactionary confection in the most non-punk shell.