Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Radio Interview with Mr. Richard Leitman author of "Dear Roz: Finding the Truth about My Father in his Wartime Love Letters to My Mother"

Next Sunday 22nd from 2 till 4 pm on Hear New Brunswick I'll have Mr. Richard Leitman author of "Dear Roz: Finding the Truth about My Father in his Wartime Love Letters to My Mother"

From the web site:
"Dear Roz is a documentation of my journey to find the truth about my father, and at the same time, to find pieces of myself which lay hidden in my shadows, most notably anger and fear. It records my search for the truth by reading my father's letters to my mother from WW II and speaking to him through letters of his own; letting my sorrow, fear, joy, anger and a host of other emotions flow freely from me onto paper. Since this is my search for the truth to foster my growth and healing, this was not the place to put on the proverbial rose-colored glasses and present my father, or myself, as more or less than we were."

That's Sunday the 22nd of November on
The shows are archived for Pod Cast.

For more on what I'm up too check out


Monday, November 9, 2009

Re-thinking Thanksgiving.

So when does the Holiday Season begin?
For me it starts with Halloween, (The Gay holiday!)

OK, so it's not officially the Gay holiday. It's a good kick start though.

The Holiday season for most folks begins with one of my favorite meat eating holidays, Thanksgiving. It's a time when I see and get e-mails wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. But I can't help but remember that for American Indians this isn't exactly the message there want to hear.

From what I have heard from American Indians is that for some American Indian tribes it's a time of mourning. There are politically "progressive", "radical", "Leftist" etc... folk who boycott the holiday or have days of silence. Although it's intended to show solidarity to me it seems divisive.

My day of remembrance/silence comes the day before Thanksgiving Day. This I do between my two thanksgiving observances. One the week before with the "adopted" family, and friends. And then time with the biological family on the official holiday.

This has been my policy since the late 1900's when me and the local punk rockers had our first Thanks giving Punk Pot Luck. Rethinking and adapting a holiday seems more practical in making it meaningful.

A couple of years back I listed to an American Indian women comment on Thanksgiving.
She approved of the holiday because she felt we should always be " a state of thanksgiving."
She then explained that for her people when the whales returned from there migrations it was a time of thanks giving, as well as when certain flowers bloomed.

For me it's seeing the Queen Ann's Lace blooming that has me recognizing that Summers peak has arrived.
Even though it's hot and sunny the days are growing shorter. I may not have noticed but the Queen Ann's Lace has and is preparing by blooming to put out seeds. It leads me to feeling grateful for what's left of the Summer.

One other theme of Thanksgiving is to be charitable and to feed those who are lacking. Times are tough for most folks it seems but for those who can contribute here's a list of American Indian charities I found.

This to me is also a way of expressing solidarity.
To either contribute or to "just" spread the word.

American Indian College Fund

Southwest Indian Relief Council

Sioux Nation Relief Fund

Navajo Relief Fund

National Relief Charities

Native American AID

Council of Indian Nations

American Indian Relief Council



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Responsibility of the Citizen.


This may seem like ancient history but hey, history matters, especially local punk history. Let’s call it our “Punkstory.” O.K. maybe not. Anyway, the following account was posted on My Space in January of 02006. I’m reprinting it here In Bold with my running commentary. The only changes I made were to add punctuation. This is a part of our local Punk History and should be remembered, commented on, and shared. Pedro


“So last night Yah Mos Def played a show in Williamstown NJ. The show was put on by this dude Alan who has been putting on great all-ages shows in the area for a long time.
This was at a new venue that was owned by some other older dude. So during the course of the night some kid stole a sign from the bathroom. This was fucked up, because anyone knows we have to respect these places if we want to be able to use them as show spaces. But this was not Alan's fault, just some stupid kid being funny. But the guy who owned the place flipped out and called the cops.” Alan comes in and says “one more song.” I guess the cops told him to wrap it up, and Alan came in to do so.

So Amateur Party starts to playing the shows last song and, and one of the cops says, "No, no more music". It is a confused situation. So Alan kind of just stands there and does not say anything, not knowing how to react. Captured in this picture.

The photo is a great one because it does more then capture Alan’s confused expression. It captures a group of folks at a crossroads.

On the left hand side of the photo there are two women who seem to be smiling.
At the center is a police officer with his right hand on his night stick, and on the right another young women with her arms up against her chest as if she were shielding herself, and to her left, a young man gnawing on the wrong end of a plastic water bottle like some disoriented hamster.
Anything can happen at this point!

“So from here on out I have it on video.”

I’ve seen the video several times. I suspect the guy who wrote this had watched the video before posting this account because the quotes are accurate, word for word.

“Since Alan does not respond, the cops says "that's it you're under arrest and grabs Alan. He (Alan) says something like "fuck you" cause the cop just grabbed him so hard by the neck, but did not resist or anything. All the sudden 2 other cops run and, and they all jump on the kid. It was fucking insane.”

From what I saw on the video the word I would use is “tackle” instead
of “jump.”

“People start taking out their phones and cameras and taking pictures. One of the cops starts yelling "put away your phones", and a kid in the crowd says "This is America" and the cop responds "I don't care, you're in my town now.” W. T. F!”

The cop quoted said other things. But it was when he said, “This is my town.“ that he truly lost respect from the kids. He also repeated “I told you nicely, put the camera away.” over and over. I thought that was interesting. The cop doesn’t realize that what he is saying sounds like. “I’m censoring you but I’m doing it nicely.”

“He gets in my face and starts telling me to put away my camera or I will get locked up. I tell him to F' off, and that I work for a Law Firm (which I of course don't), but that I know my rights. The kid next to me, who I don't know, spits out the amazing line "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but we have the responsibility as citizens to record this". I love that kid.”

In the video the cop upon hearing
"I don't mean to be disrespectful, but we have the responsibility as citizens to record this." said nothing. But the expression on his face suddenly changed. The anger melted away like a puddle after a summer thunder storm.
What replaced it I can’t say; Shame? Embarrassment? He then quickly turned and walked away.

“Anyhow, if anyone has pictures of info from last night please put them in a file and hold on to them. Even if you have memories you should jot them down in a word document in case Alan wants to sue those fucks.
Man, Jersey Cops.”

It’s that last line in his post “Man, Jersey cops.” that was used as the subject line. Before re-posting it on My Space I changed the subject line to read, “The Responsibility of a Citizen.” Every response to my re-post were angry. “Sue em, sue, em, sue em.” It’s possible that I’m not wired in the head quite right. But I wasn’t angry after reading it. I felt pride. And it was with a sense of pride that I re-posted the story over the net.

I was proud of those kids and proud to be associated with a scene that has that kind of mind set. Those kids knew instinctively that they had some kind of duty to perform. They automatically it seemed, took out there cameras to well...police the police. A lot of people know that respect is something you give with out any regard as to who the other person is so as to receive respect in return.
Other people know that respect is only acquired through force.
The events at that show demonstrate that a gun and a badge will only give you so much respect for so long. If you blow it, then it’s going to be very hard to inspire confidence from others again. By confidence I mean a sense of trust; Confidence that you are going to use the power folks give you in a responsible way. That’s what most people want. They want to trust the people that our system puts in authority over us. But we can’t always have what we want. When that happens we have to step up and accept the responsibility that a liberal society imposes; to have liberty means having to defend it. I don’t know at this writing weather shows are still happening at that venue in NJ but the event that took place there in January of 02006 could be a contribution to developing a wisdom of our own, one that we can share with others.

“Even the smallest victory is never to be taken for granted. Each victory must be applauded…”

Audre Lorde

Friday, September 18, 2009

Virginia Ahern and The Zen Zone - Creating Alternative Space for New Jersey Pride.

For years I've been listening to self described Radicals complain about what they call the commercialization of Pride events.

For me, "commercialization of Pride" is represented by the Gay Pride event in San Francisco in 2002. Budweiser was the sponsor. There is "Make it a Bud." "Be Yourself. Make it a Bud." That to me is commercialization. But I feel there had to be a whole lot of other things going on before that corporate saturation point was reached. A Pride committee is a community; folks who get together on a regular basis who share a goal/mission/values, etc...

I feel the interview I did with Virginia Ahern shows how an open minded Pride "community" responds to progressive critiques.

Among (many) other things Virginia Ahern is part of the team that puts on the annual Jersey Pride festival. This interview was done by NJ radio personality Pedro Angel Serrano at 2009 Jersey Pride Festival. Pedro talks to Virginia about the origins behind the Zen Zone, an alternative space at NJ Pride focusing on personal and planetary wellness. From there the conversation moves on how to prevent burn out (activist or not) and the positive effects a small idea can have over time.


Pedro Angel Serrano: What is the Zen Zone?

Virginia Ahern: Well the Zen Zone in a nutshell, is a space at Pride to celebrate personal and planetary wellness. I’d been on the Pride planning committee for about 15 years and a lot of my life is about wellness and being well and preventive medicine, things like that.
So every year at Pride planning committee meetings when were start to get the mailings together, we got a million venders to mail to and who are we going to get for the line up for the stage, at one point I’d say, “Gee, it’d be a whole lot easier, we’d avoid a lot of stress, and anxiety and mailings and resources if we just said lets forget about all the venders lets forget about the stage entertainment and lets just all come to Asbury Park and have a meditation for six hours.
Now I was saying that tongue in cheek. But about six months ago I thought, why couldn’t we have a space at Pride a meditation space? And it started from that and it also started from my other kinds of activism I do in my life, and a lot of other social justice activism that made me question a lot of the things about the directions that Pride festivals where going. So what does it mean when we have the corporate sponsor’s, banks, and a few years ago we had Rebox, and people that may not be doing the best things for the planet?
And so I started to question a lot of that. And I would bring it up at meetings and I would say, “Look I know the direction that Pride festivals are going in. I fully expect that I’m going to be the minority voice for, you know, at least a while on this, and at least I had a space where I could express my opinion and just say, you know we need to keep these things in mind. I was questioning the corporate sponsorship and really just kind of scaling back and thinking about our relationship to materialism.
There’s a lot of wonderful things at Pride and there’s a lot of wonderful business’ that should be supported, but there is also I think it’s time for some space for something a little bit different, something a little quieter a little less focused on consumerism, at least to just kind of balance things out. And you know, I’d love it if ten years from now Prides were ninety percent meditation and tem percent, you know, vender booths, and entertainment, things like that. And that is my very long answer to your question. And there’s probably more pieces or it but I’ll stop there for the moment.

PAS: How did that process go? You pitched the idea. So what happened?

VA: Well I pitched the idea and I was not actually at the meeting where they discussed it and approved it. And I knew I wasn’t going to be able to be at that meeting and I also knew that I had a couple of people that were very supportive and interested in it happening presenting it at the meeting. And they said there were some people that were kind of like, “Huh? She wants to do what?” But a lot of people where excited about it and it (Jersey Pride) is also an event over the eighteen years that we have had it has evolved. There’s been so many things that we have added, have tried, that we have taken out, that we have morphed. So for the second year in a row on Saturday morning there is a Pride Ride, a bicycle ride. I think it’s fifteen miles round trip along the shore line and two of the Pride committee people who ride with the Bike Against AIDS, I don’t remember the exact name of the organization but they were like, “Hey. Lets have a little bike thing. They became bicycle enthusiasts. And there was room for then to do that. Years ago we used to have a beach party. We had it for years and we decided it was time to retire that.
And there’s been other organizations that have sponsored there own events as part of the whole weekend. And so it’s really changed and morphed a lot and I think a lot of people felt thought that “OK this is going to be one more new different thing to try; Why not.” And so it went from what I understand at that first meeting there were some people who didn’t quite get it but a lot of people were “We tried a million other things so let’s try this.”

PAS: What events did you have inside the Zen Zone? Great name by the way.

VA: Once I came up with that name I was compelled to do it. I knew there was no way out. Even thought I thought, “God, I have no time for this.” I’m an anti war activist, I’m an activist in my local food co-op, I do so many other things and I thought I really don’t have time. But I thought, “What would it be called?” I was trying to weave together all the different ideas of maybe stepping away from the corporations that support Pride or sponsor Pride, consumerism and you know I want to also be about wellness and have a space about that.
So with all of those things in mind what the day looked like was a little space cordoned off for quiet meditation. And that was billed as happening all day. Anyone could stop at any point and chill out and meditate.

PAS: and you actually had folks walk up to you and say, “Could we just sit in here and relax?”

VA: A few people did! Yes, actually, it was very sweet. There were two moms and there little kids and they needed a space to quiet down and did some breast feeding which was fabulous. And then they were on there way. Later in the day when people were just a little bit overwhelmed by the crowd or just needed to sit they said “Could we just go in the back and just sit?” We were like “Sure!” So that was the meditation space.
And then we had scheduled events through out the day. I opened up two times for Yoga. And as you can see we have a bunch of yoga mats for anyone who wanted to try some yoga or practice a little on there own if they already knew some yoga. We did also include an open mic/open reading facilitated by Pandora Scooter who does the monthly Out of the Box readings at the Pride Center in New Jersey. So we invited her because we thought you know let’s just have grass roots poets and writers and comedians and singers come and participate. And why not have a little bit of space for that? These are he creative part of the community that isn’t ever gonna be up on the main stage or maybe doesn’t envision themselves that way, but still want to have a space to share, read, and there’s a long history of that in minority movements of a kind of open, shared spaces, for reading, discussion, and things like that. So that was wonderful. That was from about 1:45 to almost 3:00. There were quite a number of people that came and read and because there were chairs set up around the tent, people kinda stopped in or sat on the grass. There were probably about over the course of the hour fifteen minutes about 30 people that came through. Some people were here the whole time, other people would sit on the grass for ten minutes and get up and walk away, and other people would peek in and see what was happening and that was lovely.
We had Morris Kafka giving a talk on becoming more energy efficient in our lives by improving energy efficiency in our home. And we had planned some other things. One of my other activist colleges could not make it but he was going to do some talks on environmental sustainability on a bigger global scale. So we had those things planned and some folks were not able to come but that also opened the space back up for open space and meditation and yoga and things like that. So those were the main events and after we finish up this interview we’ll see if anyone wants to come for the last hour of Om’ing and chanting as a way to sort of wind down there Pride festival.
A lot of people did stop by and said “Hey, I just started Yoga a few months ago.” And “Do you have a yoga center?” They thought the Zen Zone was a place that existed in NJ somewhere. And that was really great to have people stop by and ask questions, including the president of the Pride Center of NJ who was very interested in starting meditation at the Pride Center. So that was a really wonderful connection that I’ll follow up with. And that might be one of the things that come out of this; ongoing meditation groups at The Pride Center.

PAS: It shows how little it takes to get a positive chain reaction going. Where you do one thing, you put out an idea. Other people support it. To me it’s an example of what activism could be.

VA: I felt very empowered today as people walked up and said, “I just started yoga.” Or “Where can I do yoga?” It wasn’t hundreds of people it was probably a dozen or so. That was my goal for the day. I envisioned some people coming in to hang out. We had some nice meditation music going and I loaned the boom box to the AIDS quilt who are a few tents down. I happened to have the Sweet Honey in the Rock CD with there song on it called “Patchwork Quilt.” So I went down and loaned it to them for a while so they could play it on repeat. It was a nice spot to be in at the festival, the quilt just a few tents down, and we’re pretty far away from the stage and not to close to the beer and so it was a nice spot for them (the Pride Committee) to give us also.

Names Project

PAS: So you’re involved in a lot of things: anti war activism the George Street Co-op in New Brunswick. So what other projects do you have on your long, long list of things to do?

VA: Lets see. I do a lot of fund raising for New Jersey Peace Action which is a fifty-three year old organization working towards nuclear disarmament and reduction of military spending in favor of more funding for human needs. And lets see, I’ll continue my work with that. Believe it or not I almost canceled doing the Zen Zone a couple of times because I really felt I barely have time to do it. And now I feel compelled to do it next year. And, what else do I do? I do a lot um, a little bit around health care reform but mostly in trying to provide alternative medicine and alternative healing and things like that. I practice herbal medicine; I’m trained as a midwife. So I do a lot of other things with alternative health care and empower people about there health so there not just sucked into this monolithic medical system.

PAS: Any advice for activists on how to prevent burnout?

VA: Yes, this is my advice and this is sort of my number one thing to practice, which is just about every day I do some kind of exercise. Now, a lot of people are “Ugh, I hate exercise.” It doesn’t have to be “exercise”, exercises, like you think of going to the gym or something. I do a number of different things that for me it’s my time out, it’s my time for me it’s my time for keeping my body healthy. I do a lot of yoga, I do a lot of swimming, I do go to the gym, I ride my bicycle a lot.
So something that you do for yourself that you put in your schedule before you put in anything else in your schedule for the day. For instance almost every day I know either when I’m going to the gym or when I’m going to the pool or when I’m going for a bike ride or a yoga class. And I put that in my schedule and if you work a 9 to 5 job then you sort of have to work it around that or on a lunch break. But when your figuring out what your gonna be doing each day to schedule in that time of things just for you. And quiet time is good and walks or deep breathing. It doesn’t have to be this intense workout. Being mind full about knowing when your going to do that every day other wise you just not going to get it done.
It could be something like taking a bath or, a sauna, sitting in a garden, or finding out where the botanical garden is near you, the park or something where you have a few options, because sometimes you can’t always get to one particular thing. And so if you have a few different things, “Oh I could have a bath, or I could go for a walk, Wait I be driving past that park. Yea, I’ll just park my car and I’ll get out and walk for half an hour or twenty minutes before I head home.” If you live near the beach go watch the waves for twenty minutes, things like that. That’s the number one thing that prevents me from burning out. And also, I made a conscious decision many, many years ago to not be a martyr.

PAS: A what?

VA: A martyr. You know, not to be like, “Oh I’m gonna do it even though I’m miserable and my back hurts...” If my back hurts I’m gonna go and take care of it. I might skip a meeting because if I’m not as healthy as I can be, and my mind isn’t present, then I’m not contributing on a level that I could be.

PAS: Beautiful. I really appreciate your time. I’m always fascinated by these things. Now I can get to watch this from the start and see where this goes. Any contact information for the anti war group?

VA: I thought of one other activist thing I do that’s within the L.G.B.T. community that I do want to mention as well. New Jersey Peace Action is Www.NJPeaceAction.Org.
The main office is in Bloomfield but there’s lots of vigils that take place all over the state.

One of the other activist things I do, and feel the need to put it out there. I identify as a fem lesbian and one of the things that I started about nine years ago was the Fem Parade at the Michigan’s Women’s music Festival. And that also started out a little bit like this idea started out. “Should I do this? Will people think it’s weird?” And that’s probably a whole other discussion about identity and identity politics, but it turned into this amazing very positive event around visibility and some of the visibility issues that woman who identify as “Fem” in the L.G.B.T.Q.A. ect.

PAS: On rye with a whisper of mayonnaise.

VA: (laughs) Right.

PAS: I just say Gay. Saying L.G.B.T. is like saying R.O.Y.G.B.L. instead of “Rainbow!”

VA: That’s true. We could just spell rainbow instead of all of that.

PAS: Ellen DeGeneres is Gay. She’s from Louisiana and the women are gay there apparently.

VA: Right. And actually it’s interesting around the country how different communities use the language and the terms and so forth.
So anyway I did just want to mention it because it came from a very personal place to do the Fem Parade and it was just as I was really unveiling more of my identity and coming into incredible personal power that you have around identity. And that has been something I’ve discovered. It’s huge. Every year, it’s absolutely huge. It’s bigger then I ever thought it would be. I’m in awe when it happens and I think “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe that I sort of sheepishly asked a few other Fem identified gals at the festival wouldn’t it be cool to have a parade and just kind of like say like, yea, we’re here and do something around our issues around visibility. So maybe the Zen Zone will go in that same direction of really building and catching on and maybe there’s a real need for space for wellness and quiet and um…

PAS: Breast feeding.

VA: (laughs) Yes, Breast feeding, meditation, the whole nine yards.
So maybe it’ll really take off like the Fem Parade did. If it ends up continuing to be a lovely small drop in spot, that’s fine too. It’s good just to have the space. Hundreds of people walked by and saw the sign and saw the Yoga meditation sign and maybe jogged something in there brain. “Maybe I should try that.”

PAS: It don’t take much. It really doesn’t.

VA: Yes, I agree with you. It does not take much. So we’ll see next year. People may come by and say, “Yea, I saw you last year and I started doing yoga.” Things like that would make it absolutely worth it.



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Interview (The First) with Rich Nagy aka The Datamancer. 2005

This interview with Steam Punk designer Rich Nagy was done before his move to California in 2006 (I think). He's doing OK. One of his creations found it's way on the SYFY series Warehouse 13.

Pedro Angel Serrano: What projects are you working to complete before your move out west?

Rich Nagy: Well, right now I'm trying to finish a full rebuild on my 56 Ford pickup. So far I've installed new monoleaf lowering springs and a disc brake conversion in the front, flipped the rear axle, boxed and c-notched the frame, and put sway bars front and rear. I removed the bed, replaced the rear bed wall, and did a crapload of custom metal work to the back of the bed. I rounded off all the corners using exhaust pipe steel, built a new tailgate from scratch (well, I reused the stamped F O R D letters from the old gate), and made a new curled roll pan into which I sunk twin cat's-eye oval Harley taillights on either side, corvette style. Right now I'm redoing the interior, then I'll move on to the engine compartment. Like I said...full rebuild. Aside from the truck, I'm also trying to finish the Computational Engine, which is a personal computer built out of all antique components, and the Espada Suena, which is a sword design that came to me in a dream.

PAS: What's the inspiration and the complete name of the "computational engine"?

RN: It's the "Nagy Magical-Movable-Type Pixelo-Dynamotronic Computational Engine". I was aiming for a touch of "World's Fair chic".

The basic aim of the project is to retrocentrically create a false historical heritage for the modern computer, using a little creative anachronism. While charming in its reticence, the buzzing beige rectangle under a desk hardly seems a fitting aesthetic legacy for what is unarguably the most important invention of the last 100 years. I feel the modern personal computer was a victim of an era in which technology is taken for granted, and has become soulless and disposable. If the PC had been unveiled in the 40s or 50s, it would have been lavished with the talents of the greatest designers, adorned with intricate woodwork or chrome, and given the place of highest honor in the household. I am trying to duplicate that sort of craftsmanship.

The main body of the Computational Engine was a 1920s King Radio cabinet, modified with an upright dvd-rom drive which is accessed through a brass-rimmed glass porthole from an old mantle clock. That cabinet sits atop a scratch-built tabletop held up by the black, wrought-iron legs of an antique singer Sewing machine, and supports a tray on which resides a 1908 Underwood manual typewriter that will be wired into the control circuit of a standard ps/2 keyboard. The housing for the flat-panel monitor is all built from scratch, and I integrated the quatrefoil designs from the cathedral chair (which I pulled out of someones garbage and refurbished) onto it. Finally, a large phonograph horn will curl over the top, into which I will embed small speakers, just out of sightHi-Fi, baby.

PAS: When did you become a Gearhead? Did that manifest early?

RN: Well, I guess you could say its in the blood. My great-grandfather was an engineer, my grandfather was a mechanic, and my father and brother are both well-known auto body mechanics and locally-renowned hot rodders and car customizers. It was only natural that I would wind up with the passion for it, too.

PAS: From 'Gearhead' to 'Datamancer': How did that come about?

RN: Well, it was actually the other way around, I guess. I was always the other son, the weird one. I was into art, literature, music, computers, futurism, robotics and electronics, then finally got into cars heavily only a few years ago. I have always liked classic cars, but I guess there was one more or less pivotal moment. When I was about 21-22, I had this insanely high-stress job where I was simultaneously the Asst VP of Marketing, the Lead Design Coordinator, and the Manager of Information Services at a huge, multi-million dollar travel agency. At the same time, on nights and weekends, I was also partner in a start up design firm with my boss, friend and eventual housemate, Spencer. One day, Spencer dropped dead at age 31 of a stress-induced heart attack. That put things into perspective for me. Granted, Spencer wasn't exactly the perfect specimen of good health, but I was well on the same path stress migraines, dwelling on work every second of the day, persistent anxiety, etc . Plus, I have a brother who was exactly the same age as Spencer, so it hit me twice as hard. So, I started thinking, and here I was, 21 years old, and instead of wondering if Susie with the cute ass wanted to hang out or whatever, I'm sitting in bed at 3am dwelling on the quarterly marketing report. Lifes too short to be miserable all the time. That was around when I got out of the IT field and began simplifying my life. I got more into music, polishing my art skills, electronics, started reading for pleasure again, building contraptions, and working on my car. (At the time it was a 1964 Cadillac Coupe Deville, which I still own and drive, and most likely, always will)

PAS: I've seen you starry eyed over Nikola Tesla. Is he someone you think should be more famous than he is?

RN: Oh hell yeah. Tesla was a genius on the level of an Einstein or a Babbage, but no ones ever heard of him. Everyone has heard of Edison, who wasn't one-sixth the inventor Tesla was. They've heard of Marconi and how he invented the radio.YEARS AFTER Tesla invented it and using 11 of Teslas patents in his claim. Tesla invented pretty much everything you use today, wireless data transmission, x-rays, the foundations of modern electronics and robotics, fluorescent lighting, radio, and not only perfected and improved Edisons D/C system, but created the entire A/C electrical system including hydroelectric generators that are still used today (Tesla also personally built the Niagara Falls generator), electrical transformers, advanced harmonics, telautomatics (remote control devices), and he even has his own eponymous unit of measurement. Magnetic fields are still measured today in Teslas. His obscurity is further evidenced by the fact that my spell-check is currently yelling at me about the word Teslas, but has no problem with Hertz, Ampere Watt, or Volta.
Sadly, Tesla was not a businessman. He was a dreamer and humanist. He felt that he existed merely to further humanitys technological evolution and to make life on the planet better for everyone. For example, Westinghouses board of directors wanted Tesla cut out of royalty rights for his A/C system and would not approve its implementation otherwise, So Tesla ripped up a million-dollar contract (in the early 1900s, mind you) with Westinghouse on a handshake and verbal promise that Westinghouse would help give his inventions to the world. Actions such as this would ultimately be his undoing. In the later years, while the Edison Electric Company thrived by focusing on marketable commercial products, Tesla drove himself into ruin by trying to perfect a grandiose free energy machine for the entire planet. He died penniless and alone. Poor bastard his life reads like a Greek tragedy.

PAS: I'm living in the Twenty First Century but every thing I see and use is some variant of Twentieth Century tech. To me an Ipod is just an updated Walkman.actually, will anyone under 30 know what a Walkman is?

RN: haha, maybe you could replace it with "Discman"...that would buy you about 5 extra years..
That might spare you the. "Walkman?...its like a Discman that plays cassettes...cassettes? well, they are like 8-tracks that you can rewind....8 tracks? Well, they're like...oh never mind."

PAS: hahah exactly.
Ok, where was I?... One thing that seems "new" is linking humans with computer tech. Recently I saw a man move a mechanical hand by just thinking about it. That's not too new but he could also move a cursor on a computer. That seems like a new function for a human. Or is it?

RN: Yeah MITs Touchlab especially has been doing a lot of really exciting, interesting things with machine interfaces lately. I cant wait to see where its going. We humans are endearingly curious creatures and need to exert our will on everything within our reach. Its only natural that we exert that same will on our own forms, even unnaturally. From Neanderthal wielding a stick, to modern man implementing neural feedback interface devices to control machines of steel and silicon, using technology to extend our abilities is inborn. Id go so far as to say its our purpose. The next leap in our evolution will be a self-crafted one.

PAS: What do you want to do in Cali?

RN: Well, the short version is that I'm striking out West for fame, fortune and adventure! and all that happy cliche horseshit. I'm going out there with a dual aim. I'd really love to get involved in movie prop making, set design, model building and special effects. That's about the only occupation I can think of that combines all my random skills and interests into one single aim. I'm also thinking it might be a good idea to try and take advantage of this whole stupid TV gearhead renaissance like Overhaulin, American Hot Rod, Monster Garage, all those shows. So Ill either become Rich Nagy, Car Customizer-turned-Effects Wizard or vice-versa, but Id like to try both. Ill probably aim for the hot rod thing first. That seems like more of an industry that I can just show up and get a job in, rather than having to break into like the movie biz.

PAS: Will you maintain your secret identity or will all know the name of the Datamancer?

RN: Well, its not too much of a secret I don't have my name on the site ( mostly just for the sake of internet privacy, but my Myspace profile ( has links plastered all over it and I'm always hyping it. Unfortunately I'm not updating the site nearly as often as I should. I suppose that Ill be forced to trademark and copyright everything once I start to get some mojo working especially for my logo. With my luck, Nike will swoop in and trademark it and then ill be stuck with a fucking sneaker logo tattooed all over me.

PAS: Would you perfer a Utopia or dystopia?

RN: Dystopia, definitely. Utopianism is boring. Without challenge and struggle, there is no growth....adversity builds strength...there is no story without an antagonist, etc ad cliché

PAS: Ripe old age, burn out fast and young, or cyber immortality?

RN: Hmm. Tough call. Im on the fence on that one right now, but I chalk that up to my youthful inability to comprehend my own fragile mortality, but something tells me that by age 60 or so, Ill be at least half cyborg or a nanobot cloud or something. Life takes many forms and not all of it need be organic.

PAS: Underground bunker or artificial island complex?

RN: Both. My tiki hut bikini harem conceals a sprawling underground complex.

PAS: Been good typing at you. Of course we were only 40 feet and one floor away from each other, but this was less taxing.

RN: Hells yeah...physical movement and the spoken word is for pathetic Luddites, we are the cyber elite hahaha l337 haX0rz!! w00t!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Intewview with Martin of the band LIMP WRIST


I interviewed Martin when Limp Wrist performed in Philadelphia back in 2007 (I think).

PS: Before Limp Wrist you had a band named Los Crudos. What did the name Los Crudos mean?

limp wrist

MS: Los Crudos has a double meaning. It means “The hangovers”. it’s a slang term for Hung Over. It also means raw. And when we started that band we took it for both those meanings. But it was more of a socio political thing for us because being hung over in the sense of you know with what we dealt with topic wise as a band and where we were from our community, things we were facing as young Latinos and living in the U.S. and all that. We felt that some shit was so heavy for us it felt like being hung over, just trying to see clearly. And that’s why we took that name. And we liked the raw aspect because it was just nasty and raw. (laughs)

PS: Los Crudos were really popular. People would be saying “Oh there fucking awesome.” Then you came out of the closet. How did you come out to the scene?

MS: Well I think it all really started with my telling a few really close friends. And then when we went on one of our tours I started to come out at shows. And the last place I came out to was Chicago and that’s because it was home. You know it’s easy to drive by and do a drive by coming out and you don’t know how people really reacted to it or not. And I was gone before I could really hear about it; the reactions. But when I got home I knew I had to live with the reactions to that.
When I did it at the show a lot of people jumped up on the stage and hugged me it was really awesome. And over time I heard like “Fuck that shit.” “Martins a fag!” and my response to that was if you thought you were into Los Crudos before I came out and now your not then you weren't really paying attention. It was a little bit of a let down but you know it made things a even bit better for us because we were about being really hardcore punk and that’s about being honest about stuff and real so for me it was the right way to go.

PS: I interviewed David Carter. He wrote “Stonewall: the Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution.” He was concerned about how the Gay Communities aren’t aware of there history and how you can’t have a community that doesn’t have a history. In the Punk rock scene kids know the lyrics to bands that broke up before they were even born. So there’s this connection to the past and I've seen kids activated by that. So You’re a homo and a part of the Punk scene and connected
somehow to the Gay scene.
What differences and similarities do you see between the Gay and Punk Rock scene culture and history wise?

MS: It's a hard question to answer because what I find with the punks is there's an unbelievable amount of loyalty that punks have to people of the past in punk for people who were around and active. Even in Punk there are things that get lost over time. We have done such an unbelievable amount of work on the grass roots level at documenting what is happened in punk so if you really wanted to do your home work and research on it you can find stuff where as Gay history is harder, because of so much fear things got lost over time. There was such a stigma for so long and I think like a lot of the history we're probably going to look at doesn't go to far back. There's people who have done really great work. I was at the University of Chicago for this big conference and people were presenting some excellent papers on history and that was really fascinating for me. I think mainstream gay culture doesn't really dig enough or really present enough of just how rich the culture really is. There's a lot of doors being shut on anything that kind of falls out side of what is OK by the mainstreams standard of what is gay and it really fucks us all up. So many voices go unheard and it's really tragic. Why add another tragedy to what sometimes an already tragic scene at times. Being Gay sometimes for some people is kind of scary and tragic but do we have to keep on doing it? (Living that way)

PS: Part of what it means to have a history is to have examples you can set your life by. And I've talked to Gay and Lesbian people who didn't know what Stonewall was.
This one women said she found out what Stonewall was from taking a class in college. To have to go to college or to have to go to a conference to find out what your history is... I don't understand how that happened.

MS: I'm teaching that in high school this coming semester. I teach at an alternative high school and do radical queer kind of history class and I'm going to do a little home work on my end to pick some nice things and Stonewall is defiantly one of them that's in there. My high school kids range from freshmen to senior are going to b learning that this year. I wish more people were able to do that but on a high school level it's so hard in this country in this day and age to do anything that kind of goes outside of the boundaries of what is acceptable education.

PS: I think it's an important story to tell not just for Gay kids because America was a different place before Stonewall. It was literally a
different country.

MS: Yea. America is still a very different place. There are some powerful people that control what is being pushed out there and America is still not what they tell us it is.
We really know because we live it. It's much more then what is presented to us. And it's up to us I think and people like us who are into what we're doing that keep on pushing and promoting other stuff that bends a little bit out side of the norm.

PS: I volunteer at WBAI ad help out with the Gay program there Out-FM . We did a news segment and in this one story, I think it had something to do with a court defeat in Gay marriage. It was a white Gay guy and he said it made him feel like being moved to the back of the bus. And the women who was going to read the story felt the need to edit that comment out because it made him look bad. I agreed. Your not a strong black women your a white Gay man and you should embrace that. And the reason he said that I think was first, he wanted to translate Gay oppression to the civil rights movement in the 60's. The other reason is he's not aware of his history. There's a Gay history that he could be mining and using for examples of what we've had to put up with over the decades. And that way people would know how far we've come as well. And I think that's part of the importance of knowing our history.

MS: Absolutely. I agree. I don't really know how to comment on something like that because that kind of comment, I think what he was trying to do was, as you said, to relate it to something that everybody can supposedly can relate to. It's tricky. I mean I wouldn't use that as an analogy or comparison. That's not what I would have done but, I mean I don't think we have to go that route. We just have to tell our stories and how we feel. We don't have to relate it so people can understand and on a kind of greater level. And I'm trying to be clear about this I think the way we tell our stories should be a unique way of telling our story. We are today. We are now. We are living in the now. And lets present things in a way that are important and relevant to now. My story, I think it has commonalities with other peoples struggles and other peoples stories but it's not always exactly the same and I don't think they should be cause that means we haven't grown, we haven't gone any where.

PS: When did Limp Wrist start.

MS: Limp Wrist started shortly after Los Crudos was coming to an end. It was just me telling one of the guys, “You know it would be so amazing to have a real Hardcore Punk Gay band.” And we liked the idea and we started to brainstorm about it: what other people we could get.
It was sad because in order to find somebody who we felt would really be into it and really understood where we would be coming from unfortunately lived in all different cities. But we managed to scramble and pull it together. “Well this guys in Philly, I’m in Chicago, you’re in up-state New York and it all kind of came together.
And we just talked to them , they loved the idea, and we started doing it. So that’s how
Limp Wrist happened.

PS: How do you manage rehearsals? Do you call each other on the phone and then play your instruments into the mouth piece?

MS: Oh, I will call my guitarist and hum things into his cell phone messages. And I’m like, “Get this down.” And he’ll play it and record it into his computer just so we remember that riff, and then when we come together we try to work on it. We’ll do a tour, and if there’s time we’ll sit down and write music. Or do something like that.

PS: Why the name Limp Wrist?

limp wrist

MS: Limp Wrist: We’re Fags! You know, I’m like “Let's do it.” I’m not afraid of that. I’m not afraid to say, “Yea, I’m a faggot, or I suck dick, you know. I embrace that you know. I’m not afraid of it. So Limp Wrist made since. It confuses people. I’ve been to leather bars and I say “I'm in a band called Limp Wrist.” and there like, “Eww, that’s so fem.” And I say, “Yea. You see us live and you’ll trip the fuck out!”

PS: It’s a Hardcore Punk Rock band but it's not pink tu- tu on stage.

MS: We might do that. I might wear a pink to-to because sometime the Punk scene can be really hard and aggressive and I might come on in a pink to-to in order to fuck with those kids that are at that show. You know we’ll go all over with it.

PS: What kind of effect do you think your band has had on the scene?

MS: I don’t know. I like to leave that answer to the people. I think other people can talk about what they think about the band. People come up to me and they share how they feel about the band. A lot of it is really positive. If we’re ever done and people think back and talk about how it may have been effective or how it wasn’t very time.

PS: Talking about the issue of history again, you wrote a song called “The Ode” and you mention folks like Gary Floyd, and the late Randy “Biscuit” Turner of the Big Boys. It’s interesting because kids are going to know who that man was because of a song.
I was speaking to a spoken word artist named Jen/ED and she said that story telling and the spoken word was how a culture maintains it’s history
and transmits it.

MS: Yes absolutely. And for us a song like the Ode is exactly that: an ode. An Ode to those Queer Punks. I not long ago saw this humongous book on Queer Punk and it hardly mentioned any of those people. And it’s sad tome. Because people like Gary Floyd and Randy Turner were doing extremely important work in 1980 in Texas! I mean dressing up in drag or just being over the top. Being very open about being Gay, being Punk, being commie. I mean, FUCK! People didn’t know how to deal with that. They'd go to bigger cities and Punks in Bigger cities didn’t know how to deal with that. They thought “these guys are fucked up!” But it’s people like that that did really important work. There were so many punks who were Queer. People who think “Queer Punk is something that came up in the 90’s. For us it was important in that particular song to pay homage and say “This song’s called “The Ode and it’s an ode to all the people who were and the people who are.”

PS: That’s the thing in the punk rock scene. They write songs about people who are dead. They write songs about people in the scene so there names are not forgotten. And that’s something I find lacking in the Gay/Queer music scenes. I go to a disco or a gay Bar and I listen to hours of beautifully produced, seamlessly sequenced sonic wall paper. But I don’t hear any histories, any biographies, or any values being transmitted. And I think that’s part of a problem.

MS: I’ll tell ya, when we did that song Gary Floyd came up to me and said, “My boyfriend bought your CD. I can’t believe you wrote about us in a song.” And he was kind of choked up about it. But Hey! We love those guys. We played with them with the Dicks in Texas. We were so honored. For us to play with the Dicks. And I was so proud to be doing this. The songs talks about Jane County, Pete Shelly from the Buzzcocks, Nikki Parasite from The Parasites, Mike Bullshit from the band “GO!” It talks about so many people. So yea, that’s what we wanted to do.

PS: Any advice for kids getting into the Punk Rock?

MS: Hey you know what? You’re not alone. There’s a lot of us. If you’re a queer and you’re into punk there’s plenty of people who are interested in your story. There’s people who will always be wanting to hear about something, and about you and your life, so Do it.

PS: I remember talking to a girl who was just starting to learn drums. A friend asked her to join his band and she didn’t know if she knew enough about drumming. I asked “What kind of music? She said Punk Rock” and I said “Fuck, DO IT! Expression comes first. You will learn the technique later. Get the first two Clash albums. Everything you need to know about Punk Rock drumming is there. Expression Comes first!”

MS: Yea, The Idea. It’s that urge. That wanting to do it because you feel you have something to say. That is The First thing you need to have. Is that passion and wanting to do it. And then it’s going to all come together after that.

PS: I think the Punk Scene has a lot to offer the Gay scene.

MS: To the world. Because we’ve been doing it for s long. We’ve been exercising this DIY kind of politic in Doing It Yourself and Doing It with Everybody, not going it alone. You know I think it’s something that could spread out to so many
different places.


Friday, September 4, 2009

How Walls Are Built.

Below is a thread I started on a social networking site called Tribes. Com.
One of the groups there is called “Rainbow Racism.” It’s made up of Gay and straight folks of all racial/ethnic communities.

I’m hoping that in sharing this it will shine a light not just on an issue but get the gears turning in our collective heads. I’ve shared this with folks who describe them selves as “radical queers” and have yet to have one say something like, “That was interesting. There were things said that I hadn’t thought of before.” I have however heard such statements from liberal/leftist heterosexuals.
I figured that I haven’t made enough of an effort to get this into more hands. That the more people who read it the more likely this will spark what I feel is an important discussion.

Pedro Angel Serrano

May 20, 2005 - 05:40 PM

How walls are built.

The names Pedro and I'm a homosexual man of
Puerto Rican decent. I'll be 46 in a week and a day.
In New Jersey I've been doing radio program for the Bisexual, Gay Male, Lesbian and Trans communities for over a decade.
A few years ago I started producing for another progressive Queer radio show. This collective is small right now but we're in the middle of a campaign to get more members.
The white male members are especially concerned with diversity.
As a step towards developing a relationship with the local communities of color, fliers were made and sent out to local community groups asking that they let us know of any events that they were going to do.
An announcement came from a queer Asian group about there fund raising event. The member of the collective whose job was to receive these announcements didn't want to announce it on the show. I asked why. He said "Because it's competition."
The Queer Asian group was putting on a beauty contest. No seriously. That's why he didn't want to announce this event by a queer Asian group to raise money for Tsunami relief. It was for TSUNAMI RELIEF!!!

He disapproved of an event that promoted competition as well as "...reinforced a narrow definition of beauty." I asked why he felt the need " be judgmental." He said he felt we "had every right to be judgmental." I was starting to get hot under the collar. I won't go into the arguments I gave. The announcement did go over the air but it was just read. No production treatment was made for it though.
I want to point out that this man defines himself as a "radical-queer."
He is not a racialist. But if that announcement had not gone over the air due to the political dogma of a group of (at the time) mostly white gay men, would that have seemed racist? I think it would have.
I've noticed over the last 7 years how a lot of intelligent, committed and passionate white gay activists unknowingly build walls between themselves and communities of color, not over racism but through dogma.

reply to this post

May 21, 2005 - 02:18 PM

Re: How walls are built.

>> The white male members are especially concerned with diversity.
I've been there, another place, another time, another radio station. They seem to be surprised that communities of color and women's communities aren't running to join their club, be it "progressive", "radical" or whatever dogma they impose.

Reply to this post

May 21, 2005 - 02:22 PM

Re: How walls are built.

As a person of color I notice at "Radical" events there are certain things that might inadvertently reduce the number of people of color participating --like an event being scent or deodorant free, or serving only vegan food.

In your situation Pedro, if the group in question was one of a small handful of people of color putting on events, it might be perceived as racist. Otherwise, if word got around about why its event was rejected, it would still make your organization look bad--petty and overly dogmatic. Sometimes I wonder why the left often seems to lack an organizational pragmatism ("we don't want to work with them---they wear leather!"), which prevents it from really building success full infrastructures and coalitions.

Reply to this post

May 21, 2005 - 02:27 PM

Re: How walls are built.

good examples too, Michael.

reply to this post

May 21, 2005 - 02:30 PM

Re: How walls are built.

I have explained to groups like that that their process is enforcing their own privilege and they get defensive. Like their group/institution isn't NBC or Time/Warner so how could they have privilege.

reply to this post

May 21, 2005 - 03:22 PM

Re: How walls are built.

having a scent free environment is for the ever increasing number of people for whom chemical scents make them sick. I have a few friends like this who put a lot of work into things, but their chemical sensitivities are such that a person wearing scents (especially perfumes and colognes)
can cause asthma attacks and migraines. Studies show that these scents are also responsible for emotional outbursts in people and for triggering worse ADD behaviors. chemical scents can also aggravate fibromyalgia and CFS and IBS.
if POC will not attend an event because of this "dogma" which is all about making the space safer and healthier for participants I can not understand why?
also what is wrong with vegan food? I know lots of POC who are also vegan. i have not generally met many POC who hate vegetables. vegan just makes it accessible to all. making the event such that you can never bring in your own food (including mea or dairy, especially half and half) goes too far i think, but supplying a simple basic common denominator food like vegan food, that pretty much everyone can eat, seems to make sense to me.


Reply to this post


Re: How walls are built.

We could sit here all day and debate the utility of creating scent free/ meat free/ dairy free/ organic only, etc. spaces. But prior posts are apt to point out that these types of spaces bear a
symbolism that is often distinctly construed as white and privileged. "Vegan" is associated with much more than eating habits; it's symbolic of elitist culture. This is a very interesting discussion.

How do organizations employ cultural relativism without compromising their core values?

Reply to this post

May 21, 2005 - 10:24 PM

what is the sound...
of a nail being hit on the head? Because I just heard it. Monique, thanks for saying this so succinctly. I was trying to figure out how to say it correctly without resorting to stereotyping. I try to be empathetic to those folks who want to/need to have things a certain way, but honestly I see it as more exclusionary than not. i personally don't know too many poor vegans or other poc who don't at least have a snort for the scent free ideology. Seriously though, when it comes down to holding space for one group without pissing off another, well....maybe, um, compromise IS the answer? scent-free areas? vegan options? Everybody not being so uptight? I don't know
maybe I am starry-eyed just suggesting such a thing...

reply to this post

May 22, 2005 - 02:55 PM

Re: what is the sound

kudos to Monique for her eloquence.
I totally agree there is room for compromise on all these issues. When it comes to scents: have a scent free area, encourage people to use natural scents, encourage those who don't wear scents to bathe, etc. When it comes to food, have vegan, vegetarian & meat dishes. Also, make sure whoever is cooking the vegan dishes knows how to cook--there are plenty of Indian, Mediterranean, and Asian vegan dishes that are plenty good--bulgur tofu loaf with parsley probably won't cut it.

Reply to this post

May 24, 2005 - 11:54 AM
Pedro Serrano

Re: what is the sound

I think understanding is a painful process. I'm looking for any suggestions
that can make it less painful for progressives
to do some self examination.

reply to this post

May 24, 2005 - 06:31 PM

Re: what is the sound

Hey Pedro, If you have a few groups in mind that would like to work collaboratively
with your cooperative, maybe orchestrating some sort of panel
discussion between members could help elicit self examination, and
determine ways of promoting that are beneficial to everyone.
BTW, thanks Angel and Michael for your responses to my post.
Glad to see others feel the same way.

The Thread ended there. So, when does compromise, become being compromised? How do organizations employ cultural relativism without compromising their core values? How conscious are we of our priorities? When do our politically correct values come between us and those we want to be of service too? I know that some of the folks reading this will take up the discussion. It won’t happen over night but I can see a future where people who are committed to unity between all people, will go beyond forging a common language for themselves and learn the skills necessary to translate our human values and ethics to others and hear there's more clearly.

Reply to This Article.

Pedro Angel Serrano,Boots and Roots,Bouncing Souls


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Interview with Jen/ed: Memory, Science, Sprituality and The Power of Art.



PS: I've been reading a lot about ancient Greek civilization for the last couple of years; fascinating. Before they settled down and started building cities and temples they were nomadic sheep herders. When they actually started settling down they kept some of there nomadic traditions and that included there attitudes about sex and what today we call sexuality. And it wasn't exactly a homosexual Disneyland but it seemed really familiar to me in the way I relate to young straight people.
Of course, today I wouldn't present myself to the parents asking to be a mentor…

JEN/ed: (Laughs) Right.

PS: But that's what they did!

JEN/ed: Really?

PS: Men whom today we'd refer to as Gay, or homosexual, Bisexual; they didn't have terms like that then. But in Athens if there was a young man and I was enamored with him for whatever reason, I would have dinner with the parents one day and I'd say, "You know I'd be willing to pay for his gear when he joins the military." Because you had to pay for all of that and I'd be willing to sponsor him and if the parents approved of me then I'd show up a week or so later. I'd show up with a puppy which was the traditional gift. Cause he'd be about 16 or 17 years old which the Greeks referred to as "The dangerous age" because they had all that testosterone going, and they would get unruly, and the Greeks thought having as many adults around was a good thing. And if he (the boy) approved, I would be, for lack of a better word, a mentor.
And sex was not a given. There may or may not have been sex. It was up to the boy. Maybe on some drunken outing there would be some messing around. I'm reading this and I'm thinking "this is my life!"
It just got me to thinking about how our attitudes about sex really aren't that sophisticated.
We have orbital satellites, interplanetary space probes and um...Oh! Those plastic sandwich bags that seal in the freshness! We have all this stuff but we're not as sophisticated as some of our ancestors were. And Native American cultures they had...

JEN/ed: Oh yes. They had the Two Spirit tradition. They were very accepted, very revered actually. You could have both genders be represented in one body. They were the healers, they were the teachers.

PS: They had a role to play. Some of them would be living libraries; others would know what all the rituals were. We don't have that today.
What do you think happened?

JEN/ed: Well... (Laughs) A very white very male mentality took over I think. This is something I'm looking at right now in my work.
Not white male mentality as in male having a penis or white having a white skin. But there is this western European mentality that has just over taken everything. This idea of colonizer weather it's within your family, within your town, within your country, or within the world. This idea of privilege and morality is dictated by a religion that's not even based on the teachings of the individual they claim it's based upon! It's just this kinda sick fantasy world that seems to be dominating our culture
right now.

PS: You don't think there's any kind of discussion going on about this morality in our culture. Do you think people are talking about it? "Is this working or not?"

JEN/ed: I see a lot of turning back. Back, back, back back. Turning back and reading books that don't apply any more.
Even in really very open philosophies. I'm a practicenor and a teacher of yoga and yogic philosophy. Particularly the Tantric which is very female based and is demonized in the Hindu culture.

PS: Really? I didn't know this.

JEN/ed: Well in western culture it translates to sex: Tantra is "sex." Somewhat like Wicca. It's very similar. They have fertility rites. They have these systems of celebrating creativity. And unfortunately that's been extracted and held up as what this system represents, instead of "No that's the pinkey finger of the whole body of this philosophy."
So I see a lot of looking back to the ancient books and texts. Even in that system, which the people writing in that time had a baseline which doesn’t exist anymore. They were self sufficient first of all. They took care of themselves, they farmed they gardened, they grew there own food.

PS: Everything they ate they either grew or
killed it themselves.

JEN/ed: Exactly. They had this relationship with the earth, this relationship with each other this relationship with there bodies and themselves. This very tangible, visceral sense of what it was to be a being; a creative and animalistic entity. And we've lost that completely. So I think that this idea of morality based on turning back always to what was written about a culture that doesn't exist anymore is really flawed.

PS: And it doesn't matter what religion it would be.

You’re right it's a different perspective. There are individuals today that believe, God bless em, that the world is flat and that the sun revolves around the Earth because the Bible infers it. And yet thousands of years ago, that's what they believed. But today when I watch a sunrise, because I live in the Twenty-First Centaury, I know that it's an optical illusion.
I'm actually on a planet which is rotating on its axis and it's circling the sun, which is actually a star really close, and all those stars I see at night are part of a galaxy which is one of billions of galaxies. So science explains what I'm watching but it doesn't get in the way of all my feelings when I watch a sunrise. I watch a sunrise and I still feel what everybody else feels when they see it. So it doesn't get in the way, it actually expands it.
And I think religion, when it works, does that; it explains the divine experience. But that doesn't seem to be the case today.



JEN/ed: Well I think we've allowed the mind to dictate what the heart used to dictate. Spirituality comes from the spirit, from the heart, from that experience that we have. And I think what "religion" does, which some people think of as spirituality, has made all that very mind oriented. The mind doesn't think like the heart thinks. The heart thinks very purely. The mind thinks, good, bad, right, wrong, should, could, would, have done X, Y, and Z and it's very confining and constricting.

PS: Well I think a disciplined I was watching some program on PBS. They were talking about physics and this one scientist was talking about gravity. And he was saying "If I take a ball and I throw it, it tends to fall to the ground." and then he said something after that but I don't remember because all I was thinking of was
"It tends to fall to the ground. It Tends to fall to the ground." Now it's highly unlikely that it would just keep on going, but in an infinite universe with infinite time anything is possible.

JEN/ed: Right! Exactly.

PS: This scientist, for him, literally anything is possible and he had so disciplined his mind to the point that he's open to anything. This drives a lot of people nuts. "What! Aren't you sure? But you're a scientist!"
They have gotten to the point of embracing uncertainty. I'm starting to appreciate that now. It's nice to be certain, but it's an illusion.

JEN/ed: Yes. I don't know if you've read the Tibetan Book of Living and Dieing.

PS: Why yes, I have.

JEN/ed: It's a fabulous text and it address that exactly, this idea that nothing is fixed. And I love the visual explanation of the mind which in Tibetan thinking that's everything: the mind is the world, it's everything,
it's the universe.
And thoughts or experiences or things that we consider reality are the clouds in the sky and the only thing that's fixed is that blue screen, that blue sky behind it.
And that's what I was talking about when I was talking about the heart versus the mind. The only thing that's fixed is love, peace: real things that exist in the universe and can manifest in all of us and in all of our lives all of the time. And everything else, everything that we perceive, people that we perceive, everything else are those shifting clouds constantly changing, constantly morphing into different shapes, and colors, and sizes and densities. That was one of those things you read and you think, "Whoa!" (Laughs)



PS: I'm in the punk rock scene spoken word was anything from Exene Cervenka to Henry Rollins to Jim Carroll. There were all these ways of being a spoken word artist. Now when I tell people I do spoken word I say "Well it's like a stand up comedy routine only I don't care if anybody laughs." What I do is storytelling.

JEN/ed: What I do is similar I would say. What I do is story telling with a subtle rhyme. But not a specific style. If you spent a night at The New Yorican I'm kinda not really like that. (laughs)

PS: The problem with single terms is that eventually people want to define it as a single thing. That's why I have a problem with the word "Queer." Because God bless em they think that it's going to help. But really I think they do it cause there kinda sorta lazy and don't want to say Bisexual-Gay-male-Lesbian-Trans. Because there are too many syllables. People gravitate to

nice single terms. There are six billion people on the planet and there's no single term that's going to work.

JEN/ed: No. And no single term that everyone is going to feel comfortable applying to them selves. That's something I hear a lot of, especially from older L, G, B, T individuals, is a real discomfort with the word queer. And that's very understandable.

PS: Well it's understandable to you. When this issue comes up its usually leftist "queers" explaining why they use the word and I've listened in on black folks talking about "The N Word" and how younger folks are using it constantly. And when older folks are around who don't like "the N word” it’s never said. There is no discussion. And I totally understand that because there is this attitude of just being respectful of people older then you because they just are older. You just show em respect. And I think it's interesting that we (Gays) have
to have this discussion
no matter what!

JEN/ed: I think that's interesting because that points to something that is also really interesting to me that I never thought of until about two years ago when I was attending a Pride rally in New York. I can't remember the individuals name but he was involved with....a musical (Thoroughly Modern Millie.)
He was speaking and he said, if you grow up in a particular culture, you have elders that teach you about the history of that culture. And that's the one thing that we're missing in the "Queer, or LGBT" culture, is this real transference of history from the elders to the younger, intuitively you know; as grandparents would tell stories to there grandchildren. And that struck me.
It had never really acoured to me what exactly I was missing in my experience today as a lesbian, as a queer as... (Laughs) All this talk. But as a Women Loving Women, what was missing. And it is missing; It's that history, it's that true understanding, and that idea of community based on what
came before.
And so I think that's a real risk that we run, because we are constantly trying to re-identify without ever having a firm foundation from which to react, respond, and interact with.
It's just inventing the wheel over and over again without ever bothering to look under and see what your driving on. (Laughs) Four of them!
I don't know if that analogy works but you know what I mean.

PS: ....When I was in my twenties, 24/25, one goal I had was to become a role model for Gay youth. I'm now 46 years old and I'm a role model for heterosexual Skinheads and Punks. and...

(Laughing) But you Are a Gay role model!

PS: Yea, you're right, I am a Gay role model.
But what fascinates me is that I couldn't find a venue or a place to be a Gay role model for Gay youth, where as in the punk rock scene it was very easy.
I remember one day I was at some Bar-B-Q at a friends place and I was with this other Skinhead around my age. We were sitting on the stoop telling stories. And suddenly there were these young skinheads sitting cross legged looking up at us, listening.
And I just had this feeling of "This is as ancient as it can get. This is the way it's been for thousands of years." and then this other Skinhead walks by and he says, 'What's going on? You listening to the elders speak?" And I thought "That's it exactly!".....
And I'm wondering how many Gay men have that experience? How many Lesbians have that experience? of just talking and having the kids come there.
And it happened so often that I had to just say "Yea, elder! it works." You get the lesson presented to you over and over again and I’m finally "This is what's going on." That's what's needed. And I wonder do Gay kids have access to that?

JEN/ed: (Sighs) I think it's hard for gay kids to have access to that and I feel that we're raising a generation now: both the individuals who are young adults at this stage, and kids that are coming up, you know teenagers, don't have access even to there own familial elders. You know Grand

Ma and Grand Pa so often are inaccessible or in a nursing home or living far away. I've been in two situations where I can kind of relate to this. One is I teaching queer youth yoga at the L,G,B,T, Center in New York, which is great, but again it's not exactly that elder relationship I mean yes, I'm 32; I'm older but I'm not an elder. I'm possibly an example, but not necessarily of that rich history. But another thing that I have encountered was while teaching dance and choreography at a community collage out here in New Jersey. And getting into a conversation about culture and how it effects art and all of this stuff and it was last fall when the election was going on and I had a student stand up and raise her hand and say "I'm staunchly republican because I don't believe in abortion." And of course it sparked this big debate. It was mostly women in the class.
And it turns out that these girls had no idea that women ever died from back ally abortions.
These girls never knew a world without that kind of access and what happened in the past.
And even from that perspective, you know, where ever you sit on abortion that's kind of immaterial, it's a fact that it's a crucial piece of information to have when you're making decisions and moving toward the future.
And in thinking about things like Gay marriage: Weather you agree with the system or not, it's a huge step forward to just have equal rights. And I think that a lot of people that are saying "Well I don't believe in marriage, why do we want that anyway? Who cares?" aren't really looking way back to Gay and Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people being put in institutions, and given lobotomies, because of a lifestyle that they were leading and how important it is to take that step. And that's the vital element in history.

PS: It kind of brings up the issue of memory.
I'm 46 years of age, so I have 46 years of memory. But with history books, from talking to people that are older then me, and through science it could be said I have a memory; a cultural memory, an historical memory, going back centuries, or even billions of years going back to the creation of the universe. That's the kind of memory that we have now. What you're describing is a community, an oppressed community, whose memory is either being erased or is just limited to begin with.

JEN/ed: Yes. Limited in so many ways. I mean, going back to the idea of art and why it is I'm sitting here talking to you today, is the censorship of artists and the lack of our reach into the greater community to bring any message other then what's being channeled through every other media outlet.
The oral tradition of story telling and telling of history through art, whatever your medium, is how culture upon culture have learned about there history. And so to limit that is really as you've pointed out, either limiting or, if you want to go there, which I would say, erasing history, memory, and the ability to think and reason. Because that's how we can make good choices, is to know what came before us.

PS: There are some things you really don't have much control over. The monopolization of the media by corporations: I'm kind of limited in that area. I identify as an artist. And I feel that the left or the Queer left doesn't really appreciate art the same way that Evangelical Christians do because I know that they hate it. They want to put stickers on it, they want to ban it. They hate it because they know how powerful it is. Whereas on the left artists are in my opinion basically fundraising tools. They really don't appreciate it.
OK, here's a true story.
A couple of years ago some friends of mine The Bouncing Souls, and two other bands The Dropkick Murphy’s, and The Dwarves they were going on tour. It started in Canada. The show starts and the kids are dancing around. And the bouncers, described as "football player jock types," ware literally slamming kids on the ground because they didn't like the way they were dancing. So the kids revolted and literally jumped on top of these guys. The bouncers got disgusted and left. The owner of the venue cut the power and called the cops. So the cops come and the kids are sitting on the floor chanting "Sham 69, Sham 69, Sham 69..." For folks that don't know Sham 69 is a punk rock band going way back who wrote a song titled "If the Kids are United They Will Never Be Divided." But that's to long to chant so they did "Sham 69, Sham 69 Sham 69..." And the cops arrive and one takes a bull horn and shouts "BE QUIET!"

Then "BE QUIET, BE QUIET, BE QUIET..." Those kids started chanting be quiet. Those kids were united by a song. And someone from the Dropkicks said "If you just let us play things would be fine." And the cop said that if they performed they would be arrested for inciting a riot. If they sing a song, they’re inciting a riot.
The singer for the Dropkick Murphy’s went on stage and told the kids that they were going outside and that they would perform an acoustic set in the parking lot. And that's what they did. They went outside, they performed in the drizzle, the kids danced and sang along, and even the cops had a good time.
But those kids knew they had the power and they had a choice as to who they would give there power to. That's what music does and I don't think the "Queer Left" has stories like that.

JEN/ed: No it’s really sad. Queer left or just left. I also do speaking engagements where I talk about what I do and why I do it. And I was asked to speak at a collage in upper Manhattan and the topic was "Why Is Art Important in Activism?" And they almost had to be convinced. There was a group of students who had asked for this topic be addressed. And none of there superiors understood why this this was a meaningful discussion to have. And it blew me away!
Especially because these were women who were 40 and 50 years old, who should know why art goes hand in hand with activism. Who should, you would think, have grown up with art as activism. And I feel like there is this potential idea that it's almost passé' at this point; "Well that's been done. Let's do something else now." But it works. You can see it. The example you gave is perfect. And I've seen it over and over again.
It happened again this past weekend on Long Island at a Lesbian bar. People are talking playing pool kind of hanging out for all the bands that played before which drives me nuts by the way. It drives me nut! Because I perform with a lot of singer songwriters. And I'll get up and because I'm talking and because people will "shush" there neighbor because someone is just talking people will be quite. But then the next guitar player gets up whose singing just as powerful stuff if not more and everyone’s talking again. It drives me nuts.
But anyway, everyone’s talking through the bands; talking, talking, talking. And I get up to talk and in this case it was the bands before me except for one weren't necessarily political or feminist.
So I got up and started talking and there was this pull. I started telling these stories. And people were "That's me." I started telling this story about my mother and I compare the time she was living with breast cancer to the time were living in now. She died during the Regan administration and here we are in the second coming of Bush and it's so similar. We are just turning the clock back. We are in worse shape then we were at that point. And I'm talking and people stopped there pool games and they stop talking and just listened.
It's so powerful.
Not just what I have to say but what all of us have to say is so powerful.

And it needs to be heard.
And I think your right. The Right is terrified because they know that if people start tuning in, if people start listening, if people start understanding that we all share similar stories, we all share similar history, regardless of gender, regardless of sexuality, regardless of religion, regardless of race, that we do have some fundamental similarities it's going
to destroy everything.


PS: Which is not a bad thing: Destroying
everything isn't necessarily a bad thing.

JEN/ed: Which is a wonderful thing!
But if you're trying to control a population, and control the thought process of a population you can't start having them to identify with one another. If you want all Middle Eastern men to be evil you can't have those lines being fuzzy and crossed.

For more of Jen/ed AKA Jenefer Edwards

Go to...