Gratitude – December 2019

I can’t believe the year is almost over. What a whirlwind it has been! Before it come to a close, here is some stuff that has given me life in the last month or so….

Interview on Pleasure Activism with adrienne maree and autumn brown

I don’t even know where to start. adrienne maree brown is just a badass bruja, and this interview (conducted by her sister Autumn) had me alternately laughing and thinking deeply and tearing up and punching my fist in the air. Our struggle for liberation isn’t just about stopping injustice and pain, it is about making/taking more spaces for true pleasure.

art by Ashley Lukashevsky

Succession on HBO

The people on this show are so cringey and oh so petty but I cannot get enough. Also, Shiv’s wardrobe this season was inspirational.

Jerry Colonna and angel kyodo wiliams on On Being

Queerness gave me the language for everything I know about liberation and freedom.” –  angel kyodo williams on On Being

it’s an epidemic challenge in our society that we reward, collectively, we reward with approbation, with money, with fame, with success — behaviors that can be so destructive; destructive to the individual, destructive to our communities, destructive to our planet. ” – Jerry Colonna on On Being (https://onbeing.org/programs/jerry-colonna-can-you-really-bring-your-whole-self-to-work/)

I am a sucker for this radio show. Nearly every episode give me lots to think about. williams is an inspirational queer Buddhist leader whose work I’ve been aware of for a while, but this interview was enlightening and inspiring. I’ve been constantly spinning the episode with Colonna. He is a coach to many Silicon Valley leaders, but also actually seems to be a spiritual person with a conscious. A lot of what he brings up is stuff that I’ve long ruminated on.

Pan-African Social Ecology – Modibo Kadalie

While my allegiance to social ecology holds strong, I’ve continued to struggle with its lack of intersection with struggles for and scholarship on black liberation.  So it was with great enthusiasm that I celebrated the release of this fantastic book — a collection of speeches and interviews with Pan-Africanist and social ecologist activist Modibo Kadalie, a movement elder that I was not familiar with until a friend reviewed the book for(the also fantastic!) ROAR magazine. The book is full of gems like:

“It’s important to understand that we are all, each of us, scientists and the task of science should be to integrate technology into society in such a way that it provides for an ecologically sound world…”

and also

“…the civil rights and Black Power movements were based upon the inaccurate premise that we were struggling to force America to live up to the true meaning of its creed. America has always lived up to the true meaning of it creed. Its creed is genocide and slavery…no freedom loving person wanted to be a part of the creation of America. They were quite literally resisting or running away from America.”

I am so inspired!

Gratitude: August 2019

Before the month is out, I just want to share a few things that gave me life as of late.

The Last Black Man In San Francisco

This movie was stunningly beautiful. When I saw the trailer I thought it was going to be sort of the same thing as Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for Melancholy but it was more like Atlanta if Atlanta was replaced by San Francisco. It was eerie but exciting to see streets I walk so very often these days through the eyes of “natives”. Spoiler alert: It’s not just about San Francisco 😉

Tiny Desk Concerts: Lizzo and Jeremy Dutcher

Two of my faves recently had TDCs. So queer, so visually engaging, such music to my ears. What is it about that damn tiny desk that conjurs such sweet magic?

Me! on No Manifestos Podcast

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I had a really fantastic conversation with my old coworker Stuart Sierra about tech and activism and other things for his new podcast No Manifestos. I am super pleased with how it turned out! Please do listen.

Gratitude: January 2019

Just sharing one of the things that lifted my spirits this month….

jeremy-dutcher-wolastoqiyik-lintuwakonawa-album-artwork-1200x1200
Jeremy Dutcher is a classically-trained queer Canadian Indigenous tenor, composer, musicologist, performer and activist. He is a member of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) band of the Tobique First Nation in North-West New Brunswick, and after doing a research project exploring old wax cylinder recordings of Maliseet songs that were no longer known to the young people (due to being banned by the government by way of the Indian Act), he decided to revive them in post-classical arrangements for a contemporary audience. The result of this 5-year project is his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. I seriously can’t stop listening to this. I love him, his gorgeous voice, the whole project. More of this. YES.

Gratitude: December 2018

The last few months have been tricky for me. In some ways they’ve been super fulfilling and in others they have been exceedingly frustrating. But through it all I’ve been grateful for my family, friends, comrades, and even strangers who’ve been eager to grab coffee or lunch and talk, offer help, or just join me in little adventures. I’m also exceedingly grateful for literature, music, culture, the pulse of humanity. Here are are few things in that vein that have keep my spirits up.

Panic At The Disco – Pray for The Wicked
I rediscovered this band (Well, it’s only one guy and a bunch of hired guns these days really, right? But whatever..) this year and this album is kinda corny but fantastic. Brendon Urie’s voice is gorgeous and the whole album never fails to lift my spirits.

Direct Action by L.A. Kauffman
This book was invigorating in a way I did not expect. As a person that has participated in direct action in the past, it was great to see myself and my peers reflected in this story as part of a legacy of global resistance.



Palestine Underground

Palestine Underground is a short documentary by Boiler Room about the lengths the young folks in the Palestinian hip hop and techno underground will go to get together and party. I was moved and inspired by their spirit and love of life despite the hardships of life in disputed territory.

Cindy Milstein on The Final Straw Radio
This is a long but crucial interview with a preeminent anarchist thinker on the topics of death, grief, mourning, care, and institution building. A lot of the things she has to say about building circles of care are close to my heart and the work we are doing in my collective CoLET.

Angélique Kidjo sings Blewu in front of world leaders for Armistice Day

I was exceedingly proud to receive this video of Angelique Kidjo singing this song in Ewe (my family’s language!!) to world heads of states as part of the Armistice Day Celebration. May the spirits of the ancestors do their best on this lot. Ay yi yi.

Here are the lyrics in English and then below in the original Ewe.

Blewu (by Bella Below) (lyrics translated into English)

Slowly slowly,
Gently, we will make it safely home,
Gently, we will make it safely home,
Slowly ;
Slowly, the leopard does not press his steps;
Softly, gently, the leopard does not press his steps;
The animal with tail does not jump over the fire;
Slowly.
God in whom we confide is the only one who knows our problems;
The Rich man we trust is the only one who knows our problems.
Stay awake, pray;
Stay awake, pray;
Even with a long life, one can not escape the Hereafter;
Even with a long life, you can not escape the Hereafter.
Gently, we will make it safely home,
Gently, we will make it safely home,
Slowly.

Blewu (by Bella Below) (in the original Ewe)

Blewue, blewue
Blewue mia d’aƒe lo
Blewue mia d’aƒe lo
Blewu
Đɔɖɔɖɔ Kpɔ̃ me yɔna azɔli o
Blewu, blewu
Kpɔ̃ me yɔna azɔli o
Lã to asike me da ata dzo o
Blewu
Mawu si me mieleeya koe nya mia agbemenyãwo
Tsuito si me miele, eya koe nya mia agbemenyãwo
Minɔ ŋudzɔ, mido gbe ɖa
Minɔ ŋudzɔ, mido gbe ɖa
Agbe nɔ kaka megbea Tseƒe mayi o
Agbe nɔ kaka megbea Tseƒe mayi o
Blewue mia d’aƒe lo
Blewue mia d’aƒe lo
Blewu

Gratitude: April 2018

You know the drill. Before the month is out, I just want to take a moment to give thanks for a few things that have been giving me (sorely-needed) life this month.

1) Drake’s “Nice for What?”

I’ve been having a tough month and this song and video came right on time. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history, folks.

2) BBCAmerica’s Killing Eve

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I have had a big crush on Sandra Oh ever since I saw her in the 1995 short film Prey with (the also swoon-worthy) Adam Beach. I unfortunately didn’t really dig Grey’s Anatomy so I was waiting for her next thing and am excited to be able to watch her as the lead every week in BBC America’s fantastic new crime thriller Killing Eve.  Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who is also the star and writer of the excellent Fleabag on Amazon Prime) is genius and the villain played by Jodie Comer is creepy and brilliant. Three cheers for a thoroughly female-driven thriller!

3) Autonomy Institute’s “Keynes, Foucault and the ‘Disciplinary Complex’: a Contribution to the Analysis of Work” 

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The Autonomy Institute is devoted to rigorous study of work. I am a big fan of everything they are doing to question the meaning of work and beginning to envision a post-work world. This article delves deep into work’s role as a means of creating and enforcing social order.  I encourage you to read it and then peruse the rest of their site as they are putting out a lot of great scholarship and commentary.

Gratitude February 2018

A few things I have been grateful for as I get into this month.

For some reason, I missed it when Beck dropped his latest album Colors in October of last year. I am glad I stumbled upon it recently. It is JAMMIN!

#Rojava playlist. In northern Syria, women are leading (and literally fighting for!) an all-encompassing revolution. This playlist is a beautiful tribute to them and the continuing struggle.

biglittle

I was on a flight the other day and with time to kill, I finally sat down and watched Big Little Lies. I seriously thought I would hate it, but it gripped me from the first episode. The formation of this sisterhood of mothers was really moving to me. I love my mamafriends!

Gratitude: March 2017

Another super quick and super-packed month! Just sneaking in here at the end of the month to share a few things that made me grateful.

Humble – Kendrick Lamar
This living legend just crept in with a blazing hot new song for us all. Kendrick is an imperfect hero (great critique here), but heroic he is indeed.

Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

 

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Image from this New York Times Magazine article on Rojava, Kurdistan.

I have been digging into radical thinkers of the 20th century. Last month was Manning Marable’s expansive biography of Malcolm X. This month, I dug into the life story of of this lesser-known but pioneering environmental thinker, who was inspired by anarchist thinkers like Pyotr Kropotkin. Though I don’t march in lockstep with all the ideas Bookchin puts forward (he was definitely not serving global intersectional feminism!), his vision is more in line with my political beliefs than nearly any other I’ve encountered. The fact that his ‘libertarian municipalist‘ approach articulated in the late 70s/early 80s is only being seriously considered and put into practice (in Rojava, Kurdistan) is a testament to how far ahead of his time he was. For a good, quick survey of his work, listen to this lecture by Dr. David Schlosberg.

For Colored Nerds on Get Out

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I finally got around to watching the much-acclaimed new thriller (I hesitate to call it horror) Get Out. I enjoyed it and as a long-time fan of thrillers and exploitation films I loved all the references to films like the original Night of the Living DeadAnnie Hall, A Clockwork Orange, and Rosemary’s Baby.  But my favorite part of the experience came after I left the theater, and I was able to listen to the close read of the movie on one of my favorite podcasts For Colored Nerds. Hosts Brittany and Eric devote most every episode to a deep dive on one topic and after (nearly) every episode I feel like I could talk to them for a couple hours more. They are totally my black nerd friends in my head and I encourage you to check out the episode and subscribe to (and Patreon-support!) the podcast!

If anyone finds a Lacanian psychoanalytic read of the movie, let me know. I appreciated this Buzzfeed article for more fun Get Out easter eggs!