You Would Prefer Whiskey

Vigilance in sniffing out your every pencil tap and jacket rustle, and how flour dry your mouth is. You have a coffee spit paste, but can’t move yet. Concentrated tongue, you think, don’t sit too close.

Your dad taught you about searching new spots to collect old treasures because your mom yelled all the time, and he hid in thrifted bottles. She farted in the bathtub and the family would laugh from the floor below as the blow emerged and quaked the porcelain.

You probably hear the clock changing pitch as it reaches fifty-six, fifty-SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE, and back down to ground zero. A fresh new minute.

And you know that someone in the subdivision smokes mary jane in the middle of the night, because a skunk would linger for more than a window-crack. It would sour your sinus at a particular spot, say, as you pull in the drive. You’d sniff, sniff, squint, sniff, and confirm that it was an animal.

The tendrils in the window, however, only float in between eleven and twelve o’clock. That is when you write, window open, a La Croix on your desk.

You would prefer whiskey. You are hopelessly, obsessively hyper aware. Write now.

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Can I Help You?

Okay, sure

But actually, this:

I wish.

That’d be awesome if.

No, sorry.

I don’t really want to.

Bullshit.

Dreaming crazy

Fucking slowing

Hoping waiting

They don’t like me, they like husbands

And purses in the subdivision.

Why bother? That’s not even,

Not anything like,

Couldn’t be further from,

I’ve forgotten all about,

What the fuck do I do for,

Who will understand,

Do I do enough for

When will I care about,

Have you ever seen,

Really

Me?

Can I help you?

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PASTEARTCHANGEWORLD

This week, we hopped through the Chicano/a movement through art, and its principles are really intriguing to me. Our guest, Raoul Deal, talked about a lot of different pieces, rich in Latino history, but what got me really thinking was one vague, umbrella claim that he made. It reaches across any and all walks of life with the intent to raise some kind of awareness. He said this:

A lot of art wants to change the world, but it doesn’t always want to change it for the better.

I just had to write it down and ponder it some more. What is art that changes the world for the worse?  He presented us with a few examples of racist art, and knock off styles that satirize society or politics. That seemed like the most prevalent mode, in fact, of representing art for the worse.

It’s all in the eye of the beholder, again, what becomes of a piece and its quest.

So then, we had a chat about wheat pasting images into public spaces, and legal forms of “graffiti” (if that term can be used in this context) such as chalking and mud stenciling. What tied that in further, I think, was taking the ideas of grand, elaborate Mexican wall murals and transferring that idea onto a less-permanent, yet still provocative, image. And I just really dig that.

As the Chicanos emerged from the hope for a new political identity, and an involvement in the history of the community, this seems a pretty powerful method of communication. I’m stoked to see what becomes of the work that Raoul has planned for his pupils.

 

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People Are Peanuts

The pads of my feet are swollen. I went to the casino after the show and spent five bucks. I danced all night. I drank and danced and laughed all night. My feet remember. I danced all night.

“I have bags in my bags, I’m Frodo Baggins, ” I said.

“Do you want an altoid?” No.

“I’m hot.” That’ll happen.

The lady from Brooklyn said the people here are nice. The friends I made like Award Winning French Fries, and zines, and skateboards, and our dads are carpenters.

John in security likes his job, he lost nine pounds.

Mina sat next to LL Cool J at the blackjack table, and I thought she looked like a super rad babe. I thought that we both looked like super rad babes.

Nights are moving like my feet, and people are peanuts.

 

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Milk Crate Pirates

 

I dig the idea of creating new spaces – physical and “psychogeographical” – in an effort to resist or unite, or be spectacular

 

I think the beauty of good literature, as it transforms our perceptions and even beliefs at times – is in its pursuit. We can create as much space for the piece as we desire in our minds. We can let it influence our imagination, our take on writing, our take on reality, or we can observe at some distance. Now hold on… That’s some psycho-geographical shit!

Hakim Bey and his Pirate Utopia frame of reference got me wondering, at a perfect moment in a politically-charged semester – how do we create space and use/find space to affect change? Is it even possible for a revolution to be successful in the face of the status quo?

It all goes back to Lane Hall’s tantalizingly simple yet complex question: do the arts matter? There’s a quintessential nature in the arts that is synonymous with human nature. They are rooted, charged, legal (sometimes), expressive, astounding and awful, undying, fleeting, living, carnal and heavenly, simple or complex, or both.

I have one tattoo, of a small, black outline of a circle. “You gonna put something in there?” – Dad. A lot of people hate it.

When I went to work after I got it done, my 7th grade students all asked, “Miss, what does that mean?” and I had a million answers for them. I said, “Everything is cyclical,” or, “what goes around comes around,” or, “it’s living.” “Everything.” “What doesn’t it mean?”

And the kids went, “Aww, I get it,” and twelve-year-olds were drawing circles on their ankles. Then the sixth graders did it, for weeks.

When I think of the spaces we make to allow for change, or to allow the potential for a spectacle, I think of an interruption. There’s something different or new, maybe even the space itself, and there should really be a way for people to see it. Through video is fine, or even audio. Whether or not the action/space/piece is understood is only a little bit relevant. The true moment of elaborate resistance is in the noticeable difference. It’s sort of mathematical.

So what’s a good space? Hakim Bey asserts that the moment is more important, that it frees the “activist” into a “Temporary Autonomous Zone” (TAZ). He writes, “The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it.”

Specifically, then, I’d like to connect art and space/time. Place yourself in a street in the city and preach poetic from a milk crate. Make a piece of art and fly it behind your bicycle. Walk down Kinnickinnic and ask who wants to sing a song, right there and then.

“Clare, that’s hippie shit.” Maybe. But it beats getting arrested, and it gets your voice/work/hope/whimsy out into the community. Ain’t that America? *Sorry, John Cougar Mellencamp*

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Winter Ass

I just don’t want this blog post to be too serious, alright? Because things are getting real, and that means that I’ve found out that things were being fake, and it’s so damn serious. It shouldn’t be, though, and it doesn’t have to be, you know?

It’s like, if I want to drink wine and get heated, I sure could. Heated and however else.

Maybe a little place to go, a little check on my list.

Or even, I could sit on my ass, this dry winter ass, and feel how smooth my teeth are with my tongue after I sip peppermint tea.

I can make something – a message, a painted parsel, a song a rhyme a sandwich – and blow away what you thought you knew about the winter ass I’m sitting on.

This post is already too serious. Okay. Winter ass, you can take me away!

Can, this is the key word here. Not should or have to, can.

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The Options of Revolution

huey newton“A revolutionary is someone who makes the revolution. If you want to sit here and beat your meat, all right, but don’t call it revolution… You’ve got to put down anything that’s less than revolution. You put down theorizing about it, dreaming about it, waiting for it, preparing for it, demonstrating for it. All that is less than being it and therefore not it, and therefore will never be it. A revolution happens. It’s a happening!  It’s a change on earth. It’s a new animal. A new consciousness!  It’s me! I am revolution!” -E.L. Doctorow, from The Book of Daniel

Doctorow’s novel was published in the early 70′s, and deals specifically with a fictionalized version of the Rosenberg trial of the fifties, but it does allude to the Diggers and several radical, revolutionary movements throughout the sixties. This passage, to me, speaks to the action of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in that they were a group of doers.

The party remains of interest today because similar issues and battles remain. What constitutes self-defense, for instance. And what constitutes a hate crime? Furthermore, one could ask what dictates a successful movement, and how extreme is too extreme? These questions may seem ambiguous, and they are, but they are relevant to the Panthers of the sixties and to today’s oppressed groups and individuals.

Inherently, we may or may not recognize injustice. We may or may not enjoy the same movie, we may or may not have courage to make a change. The big problem that faces groups such as the Black Panthers is the subjectivity of the law. In a pseudo-democratic society, a great limitation is set in place when a majority does not agree upon a just, moral conclusion in the support of all its people. White cops beat the shit out of black citizens. White civilians beat the shit out of marchers. Riots were half-way covered by the media so that someone could point fingers, and then what? As The Dude once said, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

The Black Panthers approached racial injustice with grand theatrics and an impeccable knowledge of the law, along with an optimistic ideology of sharing. Providing food to their community was a basic program. It nourished the people they kept safe. (What a radical thing, food…) the most effective tactic of sharing, however, was their knowledge.

The party’s militaristic organization set in place a notion of structure.  T.V. Reed writes, in The Art of Protest, “The Marxist vanguard element was based on the idea that ‘the people’ needed to be educated to their oppressed condition and have resistance to oppression modeled for them by a dedicated cadre of revolutionary activists.” (57) The Panthers did just that.

The difficulty they ran into, alongside racism and oppression, was their hope for peace, by threat of firearms, in the shadow of the FBI. Ethically, I’m on the fence about the party’s engagement of violence. On one side, the guns (and their understanding of their constitutional rights) offered them safety, respect, and a powerful position in the civil rights movement. On the other side, the highlighted use of firearms places them in a position of fear, and thus interrogation. Are the guns effective? Is there another way they might have gained respect? How well is it all regulated? I don’t believe a completely non-violent protest could have had anywhere near the same effect, though to the demise of its members, they hit some kind of limit. They were too powerful.

The question of the Black Panthers’ effectiveness is obscure. It seems to me they were screwed over from the very beginning, when the FBI moved in, and then got more deeply involved with every step of the way.

How do you fight injustice when it is the law? When the police patrol to kill? It’s freaky and unbelievable, so what the hell other options would the Panthers have had? Violent defense for extremely violent offense.

I want to live in a hut, this blows my mind. To keep it real, I’d rather follow Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. More to come.

Peace,

CS

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