Considering some decorations for the side panels of my Model CI. It strikes me that a Dalek arm weapon would fit perfectly on the side panel. Then the other side could have round designs to fit the theme. But I would like it to be the super elaborate gunstick from the latest episode, Resolution.
Took a bus and BART to my sister’s in Oakland last night, then went to a party, then BART home before midnight. Once again I was struck by how easy it was for me, when it was clear it would be 20 minutes before the next late-night bus, to just wheel on home from BART without even noticing the ride, because my new powerchair is so awesome and comfy. Though, an extra mile or two per hour of speed would be so perfect for times like that.
Then this morning I did the journey again. I saw the guy who lives on the street a couple of blocks from my house and we had a chat and then he followed me to the bus, getting on through the back door to flip the seat up for me very sweetly. An older lady on the bus got off at the same stop and told me how she was once stuck in the 24th St. elevator for 5 hours and now is too afraid to use the elevator.
At the 24th St. station (and I think the 16th too) I always marvel at the strangely inconvenient path for (wheeled) elevator users. The elevator lets you off a few steps from a ticket entry point, the midpoint of the concourse. But the only wide ticket entry point suitable for wheelchairs is at the very far end of the station. Then, you have to go all the way to the extreme other end of the concourse to the 2nd elevator to get to the train platform. If they would put a wider entrance at one of the entry points in the middle of the station it would cut 5 minutes out of my navigation of that station. No one cares and I don’t really care since I am motorized but if I were in a manual chair, it would matter since it is a long extra distance to push yourself! Still, seeing it be so non-optimal bugs me every time I’m in there!
On BART I noticed an ad for some bed sheets that promised the sheets are good for more than just sleeping. The picture in the ad showed three people’s feet, with socks on, friskily entwined as if they were having a fabulous, but dorky (naked except for their socks) threesome. Why you would want to be under a sheet in that situation is beyond me but maybe it helps them forget they’re wearing their socks during their strange orgy apparently happening on an ugly beige 70s shag rug. The socks were somewhat masculine coded for one pair, more polka-hearts femmy and with smaller feet in another, and then the 3rd pair of socks seemed more ambiguously gendered (yellow, medium size, non-hairy) so I guess that is a win for bisexual threesomes everywhere, even on a giant ad on the BART. (P.S. to the ad author: no one says “throuple” in real life.)
A man sitting under the amazing ad for kink-positive sheets reacted with miming exaggerated shock when I moved my right leg to wiggle my foot and ankle around as if he had just caught me in my extreme naughtiness of faking the need for a wheelchair. Dude! You caught me! I can move my legs! I’m totally not paralyzed! He stared at me, grinned, stuck out his leg, and waggled his foot around while raising his eyebrows. It being 9am after New Years Eve I didn’t really have the energy to engage so I played Threes on my phone and didn’t look up any more till he got off the train at Oakland West.
I varied my trip it a little by going to 19th Street Oakland and taking an AC Transit bus. My sister was saying that downtown would not be “exciting” on New Year’s Day, but it was just because it was so empty, fresh, and sparkly, and also because I am not often there and I like to explore all the pathways to get to a place at my leisure when there’s no time pressure, which comes in handy sometimes in the future when I will appreciate knowing exactly where the elevator and bus are at 19th St.
Downtown Oakland looked so pretty, clean from the rain, everything looking green as well, art deco buildings all shining in the morning light. I was at the bus stop near the Oscar Grant mural, across from a building with coppery green panels, amazing windows with sort of pointy arrow motif, and these black tiled and scuplted columns at either end. It was just gorgeous! I could hug that whole building!
I just had a look to see if I could find info about it online. LocalWiki to the rescue! It is the Bowles Building at 1715 Broadway. As always when I come across LocalWiki I think of when I just randomly met one of its creators, Philip Neustrom, in Ritual Roasters in like 2005. I was sitting across from him on some couches near the window, noticed his excellent laptop stickers & asked what localwiki was. From our conversation I ended up inviting him and Arlen to speak at Wiki Wednesday and I think later on in some similar wiki-ish context I met Britta Gustafson and Marina Kusko who both love wikis and hackerspaces and are awesome.
At my sister’s I kibbitzed on a game of Settlers of Cataan, ate steak and some gingerbread with apple butter, showed some details of nethack to my nephew, and demoed Inform7 for my sister who immediately started messing with it. It was fun to see them both jump in. When I left, my nephew was gleefully falling through trapdoors in the Gnomish Mines and I’m about to play some more nethack with him today. At the party at Susie’s house nearby I ran into a lot of people I knew. Polythene Pam was playing when I arrived & people were singing along to a song that was incredibly familiar but that I don’t know the words to. I had one of those pre-crone moments where you see someone dressed in YOUR EXACT OUTFIT FROM 25 YEARS AGO and freak out a little in a happy way because they are SO ADORABLE and ‘my’ cultural aesthetic has not died. Seriously this girl was in my same outfit and even in my haircut and middle-of-the-nose-ring and it made me want to cry and also want to hug her but that would have been weird. Sat with Katherine and Nabil, we petted Nabil’s reversible sequin pants (!!!!) talked with Emily a bit about how strange chronic pain or health issues can be, I met some people who were super nice, then I ended up talking with Asheesh in the kitchen, Yoz showed up, Gina showed up just as I was leaving early for my middle of the night journey home.
On BART a guy started yelling a lot but the woman with him (wife? sister?) was composed and philosophical. She rolled her eyes a little once in a while or patted his knee calmingly and acceptingly. I moved up to be right across from him because I thought he was not dangerous, just agitated, and I figured I could apply my de-escalating presence usefully (or deflect his attention from the teenagers he was yelling at) He had a few themes and varied them from Jesus, the bible, cops who kill people and their families which is tragic, homosexuals (could not tell if positive or negative) and how he loves us all (even if he sounds angry) and wants the best for us. I listened and actually so did a drunk guy nearby though he was more laughing at the yelling man, but he kindly called him brother and agreed with him I think doing the same de-escalation technique as I was. The woman next to him in an elegant headwrap carrying a cane then sort of cajoled him off the train. Mostly I felt worried about him and not the people around him (you could easily see someone taking him the wrong way and calling cops on him) So I wish them luck and hope they got home safe.
Home with quite a lot of motoring around, at 30% battery, wishing for just a bit more hefty of a powerchair battery or even an entire spare battery as insurance. Instead I am going to get an extra charger cord and carry it on the chair at all times in a little pouch. Though I don’t usually name cars and wheelchairs or my own body parts, I have decided to call the chair ‘Mr. Beep’ (borrowed from Ahmet the Blind Captain‘s kayak navigational system, because it’s just such a great name and makes me happy to say it).
I had a fabulous time at the George Clinton/ Parliament Funkadelic show last night! The club had a wheelchair seating area right up at the front which made it easier for me to be there (and I could also get to the bathroom, which I really appreciated). FABULOUS show, as you would expect!
It was great hearing classics, where everyone would get very excited screaming Shit, Goddamn, get off your ass and jam, or One nation under a groove, but also was in the perfect frame of mind for Maggotbrain (a religious experience for your ears) and then lots of stuff from their most recent album. It is just great to see how they all jam together so well & in so many different styles highlighting the skills of different people. I wish I knew all their names but I don’t… the amazing singer and dancer who kept changing outfits (it was the pink fuzzy pajamas with silver stars, and a hood, and silver platform shoes that killed me finally, and then she took off the PJs and was dancing in striped knee high socks and sexy underwear.)
The incredible saxophone solos (he also did a scat performance that got more and more complicated and went on forever till he just sort of BECAME an instrument ! Trumpet player also great! At least two guitarists of truly amazing caliber, the shorter guy who was an absolute badass, and the tall guy with the long braids wearing a long silver coat which he finally removed to show his fishnets and thong and tshirt that said “God’s Weapon”. Both were fucking great! And, George Clinton himself who I was happy to see had the good sense to sit down now and then. The young (?) guy in the hat who was an excellent rapper! So many talented musicians. And when they would really go off it wasn’t for like 20 seconds, they weren’t fucking around, they were playing giant long extended riffs for like 10 minutes. Serious jazz! Also some extremely metal moments! Also psychedelic geologic eras laid down for future generations and time travelers!
Crowd fairly nice! We ran into Brian Zisk and I remember being high as hell while trying to explain to him (why? just enthusiasm i guess) that Venezuelan joropo is the best kind of music (because, counterpoint, great structure, complex & awesome) & he should give it a listen. He was telling me about the sort of cultural shift of deadheads to follow George Clinton & the P-funk collective in general, which maybe he had something to do with. That was very interesting and I’m still thinking about that.
Anyway, I loved the show so much!
Thank you intergalactic brothers and sisters!
A few weeks ago Milo and I went to the San Francisco International Hip Hop Dancefest at the Palace of Fine Arts. It’s always an amazing show! It’s one of San Francisco’s great treasures, and this is year 20 of the annual festival run by Micaya. The festival itself conveys how deep the Bay Area community runs and fosters these strong ties across countries to other dancers. Really a beautiful community.
Highlights, Loyalty Dance Team from Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s performance of This Is Wakanda!!! So dynamic! So creative! The skill! They express such joy! Last year I loved their 101 Dalmations dance so much I became a staunch fan! Maybe that sounds weird, but it was a beautiful narrative transformation and celebration of pop culture. They are just superstars.
I also really loved Duwane Taylor (from London) in his piece It’s Time to Speak. It was incredibly moving. I think the first half, or certainly a long intro, of it was Duwane dancing but without speaking, enacting some of the history of black folks (I think, particularly in the United States, the Civil Rights Movement). He stood (silently) at a podium and danced out Martin Luther King’s speeches and assassination. He danced Malcolm X. He was dance-miming out a more and more impassioned protest at this podium that went faster and faster. Krump style dance with explosive, convulsive movement, he is really a genius! At some point the dance seemed to lead into present day struggles against police violence and police murder of black people. I would even say of disabled black people, which transcends the situation in the U.S. I wish for a video of this particular performance online because it was different than the earlier version I was able to find. Then, at some point Duwane did begin to speak, and rap. The civil rights movement improved things but here we still are in a world with such violent injustice. Speaking out and activism are just what we have to keep on doing.
Here is what looks like an older version of the piece:
Amenti Movement was also absolutely mindblowing. Emotional, intimate, I would even say it felt somehow they were dancing ways that men heal each other from a culture of toxic masculinity, and so many other damages, to one of tenderness and support, painful as that can be. Not sure if that was part of their intent, but it’s what I was seeing from their performance.
This would be incomplete without mentioning the cool as hell Hip Hop Nutcracker performance by The Tribe! Wow!!!! They took it to the next level. And you can still see this as it’s coming up December 16th in Redwood City at the Fox Theater!
Sleepily flicking through Instagram this morning I got a glimpse of an amazing looking dance and had to look up the full video. I saw Loyalty Dance Team at the International Hip Hop Dance Fest in San Francisco a couple of years ago (doing their stunning 101 Dalmations number). This is their Black Panther – 6 and a half minutes of pure shining talent – Fantastic choreography!
Here’s their Instagram if you want to follow!
I am now feeling very energized!!
Bonus video because I LOVE BIG FREEDIA SO MUCH
An interview with Jaron Lanier, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/delete-your-account-a-conversation-with-jaron-lanier/#!
So the problem is that when people say, “Oh, we use social media for social justice,” they’re typically correct. And yet in the longer story they’re really vulnerable to a far greater backlash than they would have gotten if they used another technique. At the end of the day, it’s hard to say whether they really benefited or not.
I disagree with what Lanier seems to be trying to say here. Of course if your activism reaches more people you are going to get more backlash. Are the specific people advocating for change ever going to be the ones to personally benefit for that change? Rare!
What they want to do is take whatever input people put into the system and find a way to turn it into the most engagement possible. And the most engagement comes from the startle emotions, like fear and anger and jealousy, because they tend to rise the fastest and then subside the slowest in people, and the algorithms are measuring people very rapidly, so they tend to pick up and amplify startle emotions over slower emotions like the building of trust or affection.
Interesting, and makes me think of Stardew Valley and its slow building of relationships between the player-character and the NPCs, relationships that have to be maintained. I also thought of the first example I was aware of, of the seemingly pointless exchange of tokens of approval in a social network, which I think was my friend Yoz creating something called “Sweeties” in Ning. And tangentially, of all the feminist sf utopias where there are barter based economies. Build in and opting into “slower” economies of attention could be possible – Excuse me while I go invent actual real life friendship, and the postal system – But seriously, I like this point and the only real answer to it may be to point this out to folks and for us all to seriously think about how we want to spend our time.
I am also thinking of my essay on culture clashes and the underlying assumptions of the trolls of the 00s with particular feminist communities. One assumes that showing that you are harmed is evidence you need to be harmed more in order to do you the favor of toughening you up. The other values its “hugbox” (a term used as a pejorative by the trolls) ie, its social contract to be supportive, kind, and to value the courage of vulnerability.
There is something to thinking “well, we SHOULD be alarmed and upset” about how things are – I think that is mistaking the early or middle phases of consciousness raising for a desirable steady state of being. It is normal in my view to have something of a breakdown as we try to integrate awareness of our participation in harmful, terrible or evil events and systems. As we see these truths we have to form some kind of narrative about what is happening and what we’re doing. That is where we’re at right now in public discourse – we are in a phase of rolling chaos and dis-integration.
Another article: This particle physics news was neat to see, as my ex partner used to work on these sorts of experiments (including AMANDA, the precursor to Ice Cube).
There is an open call for submissions to Cripple Punk Zine:
Our goal is to continue spreading radical disability acceptance to as many people as we can. We want to help raise disabled people’s self worth and self esteem, support disabled content creators, and create more spaces for disabled people to unapologetically be themselves. Every single disabled person deserves to feel empowered!
We are currently accepting submissions for the first issue, which will answer the question, “What is Cripple Punk?” and what cripple punk means to different people. The first issue should cover topics central to the cripple punk movement, like fighting ableism, embracing diversity, becoming empowered, and rejecting the roles mainstream society expects you to fit into.
I may write something and send it on.
Learning how to care for your audience is actually far more aesthetically interesting and politically disruptive than working out how to shock them.
This fits well with reading Lanier’s interview.
On shock and harm in art:
In each of these works, it is clear the people are actively harmed by the art, and this raises vital artistic and political questions. Who is it that is harmed, and why? Is it worth it? In Pussy Riot’s case, the punk gig offends worshippers and people who believe in a certain sanctity of the church space, who feel violated, but I would argue that in this case the violence is justified in the cause of attacking a patriarchy whose foundations rest in part on that very sanctity. But these are not easy arguments to make, and they are not artworks that I think can be taken or performed lightly.
I thought of myself and some of the activism I have done, for example, times I have been naked for a cause. Was my going shirtless at riot grrrl concerts or stripping down for a picture for body positivity with Nakedjen in various places a positive, transgressive act, or a rude, offensive, illegal, non consensual violation of other people’s space that possibly harmed someone? Is it different from Kavanaugh flashing Ramirez at a frat party and if so, how? My view here is that the potential harm is important to acknowledge, and that the expression, intention, exuberant joy, humor, etc. was worth the risk, and the context has to be considered.
Enjoying my visit to New York a lot already. This morning I had breakfast in our super nice hotel (Townhouse Inn). Tonight will be busy and I get tired easily, so I didn’t want to try to do anything big. I set off towards the nearest museum, which I knew nothing about – The Rubin Museum of Art, a few blocks away, picked out from Google Maps. It’s a museum dedicated to Himalayan arts and culture.
Along the way I browsed in a vintage jewelry store which had a lot of little wooden drawers full of stuff (like, a drawer for the 5 dollar tie pins, and 10, 15, and 20+ pins) There were drawers for brooches with people on them, animals, leaves, circle pins, birds…. I got a tie clip that is a very cute enameled bus from the 50s and something called a scarf clip that has morpho butterfly wings in the design that said it was from 1944. Anyway, I needed a clip because, all the way to the museum, I had to keep feeling at my neck to make sure my nice silk scarf didn’t fall off. Now the clip can make sure (or, I will lose a scarf AND a clip!)
At the museum I enjoyed the wrathful deities who represent wisdom and the small gold statues from the 13th-14th centuries especially the one of a historian and translator, Zhonnu Pel.
But I especially loved the the animations by Chitra Ganesh (The Scorpion Gesture), and The Road to Sanchi by Ghiora Aharoni. Of Ganesh’s animations I super loved the large glowing panel called Metropolis (must be in reference to the movie with Maria the robot) I watched it twice – get ready for the somewhat inaccurate/incomplete description from memory. It started out in sort of cosmic space/time in the stars with a Buddha and a writing (woman’s?) hand, some scrolls/books and a giant glowing flower and buildings which looked old (a monastery I think). More buildings arise in a mountain backdrop and then giant black feet stomp on everything so that the land and mountains fracture (I suppose many disasters including colonialism and invasions or diasporas) It is all a gorgeous technicolor neon collage. The giant feet are like Kali trampling and I also thought of the Monty Python foot. Felt that there were a lot of inter-references to stuff I missed but that didn’t lessen the impact – clearly more depth, but accessible to the ignorant. There is a rainbow, more buildings, an airplane, tall buildings and urban life appearing over and along with the older buildings and temples, then I think the 2nd buddha appears in a golden statue form, its face changes to a woman’s face (but I don’t know who specifically) and her body is like a cyborg goddess body which raises an arm and some sort of energy (weapon?) appears in her hand. It was gorgeous and apocalyptic and many-layered, with a relentless quality to the action. Loved it so much!!! Science fiction feminist visions are the best. My head exploded! I could have watched it 10 times! Thank you future historians of the (im)possible!
The other exhibit that really struck me was The Road to Sanchi by Ghiora Aharoni. It is a curving array of battered taxi meters in glass bell jars. The meter has a small strip of video screen playing and if you go around the back of each one there is a digital camera attached to the meter, playing the same video, full screen. Each one is a journey through busy crowded city streets (though in at least one, a more rural road) to a sacred place of various religions, in India and I think maybe Nepal.
I was pretty tired by this time so did not watch each of the 12 or so videos of the journey. I spent a fair amount of time with it though. My mind had already been floating through my own journey to new york from san francisco & through the street this morning on my scooter mingling with the crowds and enjoying the many layers of time of this city where on every block there are buildings in stages of dereliction and renewal built on geologic-feeling accretions of cement and tunnels and asphalt and pipes. Purple glass “light tunnel” windows inset into older bits of sidewalk. You can feel the infrastructure just seething.
Then, just before I got to the Road exhibit, I had sat at a desk by the elevator, where you can write a letter to a future museum visitor. On seeing that I realized that someone had handed me a letter from another visitor on my way in (I took it with thanks but assumed it was a sort of “please donate” brochure) So, I sat at the desk, got out the letter, and read it. Very sweet: “Dear Visitor, Don’t leave the museum without taking an idea that can impact how you live your life! Enjoy the wisdom of an ancient culture, whether you believe in religion or not. – Batya” Nice, as I am in fact not religious – only a poet. Maybe someone will enjoy the letter I left in the box.
So the idea in “The Road to Sanchi” of someone centering the pilgrimage (rather than a destination), through these multiple cameras/videos of specific places and times, but all playing at once, where I could wheel around their graceful arc (of time and space) made me very happy, feeling even more pleasantly catapulted in my awareness out of linear time and connected to many times and places. (Thinking of the artist’s, and by extension, everyone else’s, experiences of their lives). The somewhat chaotic street scenes, sense of not being in control (as a passenger not the driver) but in control as the viewer of art. And the battered, gritty, homey feeling of the iron taxi meters, of a place I have never been so they are not familiar to me, but from their being more or less the same made me feel they were familiar to others who are not me, another sensation/thought that is beautiful.
In a small library exhibit there were shelves of books on culture and history, travel journals, and science fiction, especially noticed the heavy amount of Octavia Butler’s books and then the book Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler (edited by Rebecca J. Holden & Nisi Shawl) just leaped out at me. I may have pulled it off the shelf to put it on top of the book stand display!
Notes on access: The museum is spread out through several floors with a small wheelchair lift to the main lobby and then a separate bank of elevators to 6 other floors. It was pretty accessible but larger powerchairs may have trouble with the somewhat narrow hallway to the bathroom (i.e. you could not turn around, and would have to back out of the bathroom and hall). There were a lot of free headsets with audio descriptions for some of the separate exhibits. The front doors were heavy but well balanced enough that I could (barely) open them but there were people in the lobby standing by to help. So all around, very accessible.
Now getting ready to meet friends for dinner and go out to the performance of Descent which I’m looking forward to quite a lot.
Every week I read through the list of most updated Wikipedia articles, just out of curiosity. You can subscribe to Weeklypedia’s handy mailing list if you don’t have enough email or want to casually monitor trends in news and culture.
Most of the very active articles are related to sports, movies or TV shows, and military conflicts. And of course, any sort of natural disaster or extreme weather event. Sometimes, you can spot a group of friends or a Wikipedia editing party/workshop in the list of new articles. It’s interesting!
And there is neat metadata too. Last week, 40,167 registered users and 78,263 unregistered users made 814,642 edits to 361,740 articles.
I was riffling through this email last night during a bout of insomnia and thinking back to the fun times from running Wiki Wednesday events, and the creative things people would do with data from Wikimedia.
I want to recommend Weeklypedia here even if I don’t have any deep insights. It’s a nice additional source to reading the news, to know what people around the world are interested in at this moment, even if I’m mostly interested in the (rarer) political/military conflict articles. I found out about it from Mahmoud at the Free Bassel picnic in 2016 and have been reading it ever since.
It was super important for me to know about & be part of the riot grrrl movement – just to HAVE something culturally to identify with was amazing. I especially loved how multidimensional and spontaneous it was and is. People would hear the littlest thing about it and then declare they were part of it. It meant that we had context for our creative work that was lacking for us. 70s and 80s feminist work (which never stopped) for me were missing something that would include me as a young person. Here we had our movement that would refuse to devalue the cultural production & voices of young women and girls. Zines, music, discussion groups, all the amazing letters and mail art, taking punk to make it our own. It felt like an explosion of fertility & creativity!
Talking about something as history can feel wistful – like it is over. From my perspective it didn’t stop, there is nothing to have missed out on. The possibilities are endless & still going strong.
There is a new documentary in the making, GRRRL: 25 Years of Riot Grrrl and it needs our support! Please donate towards the making of this documentary!
You can see some of this work already in shorter pieces such as Lost Grrrls: Riot Grrrl in Los Angeles.
With every book on Riot Grrrl I read and every new zine I see popping up, I learn something new about how people see themselves in relation to the movement, to feminism and activism and politics. The more films and books, the better!
I miss “real blogging” and was thinking that one reason I have been having blog-like posts and conversations on Facebook rather than here is that this blog feels more “formal”. I intended that from the beginning, but what if I were to be a bit more quick and casual in how I post here? It won’t feel like a conversation since comments are rare and our methods to find and consume people’s unmediated or unedited public writing have shifted to happen via tumblr/facebook/twitter/medium. I also use Dreamwidth for informal posting.
Here is a commitment to continue the pleasant ramble of my long posts on a platform which I sort of control (though not with the ideological purity of running my own server under my desk or whatever, since I use a hosting service).
Is this now an actual move of resistance?
I have a feeling the conversations will happen on FB and Twitter. The FB conversations especially will be lost in the mists of time and proprietary control and unsearchability and crap API. Alas. The Twitter stuff is at least reachable and searchable and I believe it has more chance to be archived for the future.
This, also, because I am increasingly annoyed at which people and posts Facebook shows me and doesn’t show me, even on the “See all” setting.