21 December 2011

after the winter solstice, the days get longer

staring into the sun on the shortest day of year        waiting for rain       dipping south to avoid frost         i love my life in oakland          but spare palms make me fantasize about l.a.         venice i mean         less glass on the streets          more salt in the air          air of the sea         this train strokes down the coast         to make the same trip tomorrow          but it is today the sun stands still

20 December 2011

santa cruz

Blissed out with newfound free time, I took off to Santa Cruz for an early weekend last week.

It's hard, sometimes, for the documentation to keep up with the inspiration, as my friend Eric says.

Here's some documentation to accompany the bounty of inspiration from the seaside town that was my home for three years.

My feet like to be on the road. Preferably along the sea, somewhere I can smell kelp.

The original Surf City, U.S.A.

A train runs through it.

A fine farming town, too.

My friend Elaina lives in the most darling cottage

with just enough paint and enamel mugs and rich coffee to fortify our bodies and souls.

I almost want to move back - someday.

12 December 2011

what's going on here anyway?

Current phenomena of interest:

West Coast Port Shutdown, duh. Actions all over the nation...

Becoming, as articulated in Deleuze & Guattari's rhizome theory. "It could be said that the orchid imitates the wasp, reproducing its image in a signifying fashion (mimesis, mimicry, lure, etc.). But this is true only on the level of the strata - a parallelism between two strata such that a plant organization on one imitates an animal oganization on the other. At the same time, something else entirely is going on: not imitation at all but a capture of code, surplus value of code, an increase in valence, a veritable becoming, a becoming-wasp of the orchid and a becoming-orchid of the wasp..." If I could ever write a piece this incisive I would be a happy, happy lady.

The fractal - from the Latin fractus meaning broken - nature of poetics as well as math and what we call natural science. A dynamical system of repeated transformations demonstrating statistical self-similarity containing expansions within itself having the potential to induce chaos with the incorporation of chance. (Sounds like learning a new language (although how anybody has time for practical French podcasts is beyond me; it's a mystery I'd like to explore) to me.) And I do believe that sentence was grammatical.

So beautiful!

In other news: I have a ponytail now!

Yes! Only like two more years until an updo is within reach.

It's been hell of a semester. Hell, it's been a hell of a year. When I claimed last New Year's Eve that 2011 was going to be the year of the radical, I could not possibly have imagined such a year full of transformation as this one has been. And it's not over yet. It's not even winter yet! And it's 40 degrees! On the coast of California! Jeez!

08 December 2011

he showed me the door to bohemia

i saw jonathan richman last night at the great american music hall a life-long dream i hadn't even realized i'd been dreaming came true when i heard his voice live only amplified not recorded unbelieveable after he'd only been vinyl and mp3 and speaker output for so long and singing to me and making eye contact even then breaking it and breaking away from the microphone to shout a little it's a great party and to dance twirling his guitar and finally setting down the guitar gyrating like a motherfucker then picking up a cowbell there is chanting chanting kiss kiss toast toast kiss kiss toast toast i don't know what it means i don't care i am here and i get it i was a brat he says my parents dropped me off in harvard square when i was sixteen they knew i didn't care about drugs the people i was hanging out with they were older i was making pretentious art all i wanted to do was make art and they showed me the door to bohemia the audience is all singing along everybody every once in a while johnny steps away from the mic he is counting on us we will show him the door to bohemia this is the party it doesn't matter if the words are in italian they all just mean it's a great party la festa e la bomba that translates pretty easily and it's easy to sing along with too now what i want to know is when might i expect to stop being a brat

06 December 2011

concrete washout

"With so much available language, is it really necessary to write more?"
-Kenneth Goldsmith

Finishing up. My first semester. In graduate school. For writing. Is making me. Not want. To write. At all.

Not that I don't want to language (language, v. to use language).

I'm just sick of writing stuff down. Because it's all already been said.

I'm way more interested in rearranging.

I'm interested in what happens when you juxtapose nearly-contradictory words so that the ambiguity jumps out.

I'm interested in the shapes of sounds and where they are found - but not on a scientific level.

This is not science, this is life affecting nonlife.

All of life may be problematical. Or problematic.

We do it for pleasure, not to kill ourselves.

"And how do you perform?"
"You go from anyplace to anyplace."
-Anne Tardos, Jackson Mac Low

26 November 2011

keep it festive

  happenstance mapping                                    emotional resonance
  end of November                                           tank-top temperatures
  I feel like talking                                                   about the weather
  is as important                                                                as anything

"Ever wake up in the morning and think, I'm going to the fashion show today?"
"Only every day of my life."

18 November 2011

here's a poem


08 November 2011

good things come in bowls



Heat wave of Indian summer replaced by a post-Halloween cold snap. Lots of occasions for oatmeal in all its seasonal incarnations.

From top: oats with persimmon, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds; oats with goldren raisins, pepitas and shredded coconut; (dessert) oats with cocoa, rice milk and honey.

06 November 2011

we don't want jobs we want to live

"It's not just hippies, hipsters & homeless," a minister in the Occupy Oakland camp said to me on the night of the general strike this past Wednesday. And no doubt it's true. Every time I've been down to the Occupation, I've met people from all walks of life, from lawyers to activists to teachers to florists. On Wednesday, we all marched together in solidarity with the 99% in a mass day of action that included the first general strike since 1946 and all-day rallies in the city center.

November 2, 2011 was one of the single most beautiful days of my life. It was like a major national holiday with marches and speeches instead of parades and potlucks, but no less jubilation. I spent the day drifting among friends, meeting people, exchanging information, giving quarters to strangers - who were of course not strange at all but friendly and grateful - and accepting snacks and water from others, collecting literature (the Occupied Oakland Tribune and Oscar Grant Plaza Gazette, to name two) and feeling the mass charge of energy that accumulated in moments around the drumline marching to and through the port as we shut it down in an eerie quiet marked by minimal police presence.

I was surprised by how little noise there could be in the depths of a crowd of twenty thousand, but I think the quiet of the march to stop the flow of capital is a testimony to the power of collective assembly as well as the ecstasy of being one molecule in a mass all tuned in to the same thing and listening.

I'm frustrated that almost all of the mainstream press has focused on the vandalism against capitalism as enacted on Bank of America and Whole Foods and on the violence that ensued after a faction of occupiers took over a building to turn into a library/dormitory (which of course there was a swift and violent police response to) when 99% of the day was a totally peaceful exhibit of true community.

Now, nearly a week later, the things resonating with me most are 1. the amazing power of claiming and using public space for common good and 2. a collective sense of belonging, sharing and mutual care. The effects of collective action are not isolated. More than ever before, I am signing petitions, talking to people, supporting my local artists and small businesses, and finally I have re-registered to vote. For the first time in my life, I feel like an engaged citizen, like I belong to something.

30 October 2011


It's been a long week, and one during which I haven't been able to keep away from the news. I feel kind of like I did when the earthquake struck Fukushima and sent all that nuclear radiation all over Japan - which will soon wash up on Western shores - except this is here at home so the headache I have now is a bit more potent. Reading, watching and following the news as well as participating in the events the narratives are being created out of has made for a very long five days since Tuesday.

This article provides a really good summary of some of the goings-on thus far.

The plaza is re-occupied. Meetings continue amidst various levels of noise. At last night's general strike meeting, there were plenty of helicopters buzzing overhead (news? cops? medics?) but today it was relatively quiet around the Radical Poetry Reading on the plaza steps.

One of the things I love most about the occupation is how little money comes into play there. You can - and many folks do - spend hours just talking to people or hanging out, or working, or playing. All without spending money. There is free food for anyone at the occupation; there is access to art supplies, books, conversation and information; there is physical and emotional support, even acupuncture. Above all, it's a space where you can have all sorts of interactions with people that normally would not occur unless you were in a controlled space of some sort: either one you pay to enter to have an experience (cafe, bar, theater) or the designated home of someone you know (for dinner, a party, book group, other things people do). Not only have I spent a minimal amount of money this week - since instead of meeting friends for coffee or whatever we've been getting together to organize - but I've also interacted with an even broader scope of people than usual outside of my Mills-Temescal-Mills loop of "normal" life, like activists, artists, educators and Lawyers Guild members. The plaza, which simultaneously belongs to everyone and to no one, offers anyone with an interest the chance to engage. 

Today it was poetry that this group I found myself in was coming together around, but it could have been anything. Some are drawn to the children's village, to the medics' tent, to the meditation circle. To screenprinting shirts and posters to get the word out, to bike repair, to the people's mic in the amphitheater. These are independent circles but there is a lot of overlap. Especially between the medics and the poets. (And what does that say about the life-sustaining power of poetry?)

Yet no matter my joy, inertia, and optimism, at the end of the day, I am barricaded by questions rolling around in my brain. Where do the "free" silkscreened t-shirts and the paper for the (kickass) Occupy Oakland posters 

You can see the Hella Occupy Oakland poster in my closet. And yes, I was Twiggy for Halloween.
come from? I think it's amazing that memorabililia/propaganda (with excellent design, at that) is being given out for free, but I was pained when I overheard, regarding Oakland General Strike-stenciled shirts, "Sure, they're free! But we just ran out; if you want one, go get a pack at Walgreens." I know we can't all afford organic cotton. And none of us have time to scour thrift stores for plain jersey. (Besides, even Goodwill is more expensive than Walgreens.) But the most powerful way we can vote on a day-to-day basis is with our dollars, and I don't want to feed the corporations we're trying to starve, not even under the guise of a revolution. 

That was an argument, and I'm not sure where to go from here. 

Totally open to suggestions. Please.
The element of chance emerging from interactions does indicate a different kind of future. It indicates a future in which we can all live with less fear. If there's anything I've learned in the past week, it's that when shit hits the fan, and you've been tear-gassed at a non-violent protest, the odds are next to impeccable that somebody will pick you up and carry you out of the mess, even if the only way I know this is from word of mouth.

26 October 2011

43% of Americans agree with the Occupy Wall Street movement (CBS)

For the second day in a row I wake up to helicopters. This time so close that they drown out the ever-present whoosh of the BART train. Are these about Obama's fundraising visit to the Bay Area, and if so, why are they on this side of the bridge? Or are they making their way up here from downtown with the rest of the wreckage from Oscar Grant Plaza? It's early enough for me to still be curious what the mainstream media is making of yesterday's actions.

I started feeling really panicked when I heard big noises going off. The violence and tumultous coralling I saw downtown yesterday was enough to make me doubt my esophagus' viability - if I'd had food in my stomach I would have thrown up when I saw the fighting that broke out between 7th and 8th streets and Clay.

I have the feeling now that "if you didn't get teargassed, you weren't there", but - wimpy as it is - I didn't stay to get teargassed with my friends. When I started hearing the canisters burst and seeing people running, I bolted to BART, though I had to go two blocks farther north to get to an open station entrance. I was already late to meet my friend Jeff in the city to see our friend's band play at the Rickshaw Stop.

The show was good. I've been bopping to Van's tunes since I was fifteen and he was playing at Painted Sky, and they always inspire some stomping and yelling along with the chorus. Waters rocks harder than Port O'Brien - I got to headbang with my little bit of hair that's growing last night - but the highlight of the show was definitely the Port O'Brien standard Pigeon Hold, which was totally appropriate for the time and place.

Jeff and I were preoccupied the whole time, though, by the images and footage of cops in full riot gear tear-gassing our friends and neighbors coming in via text messages and Twitter feed.

Yesterday people who work downtown were advised not to go to work, though by the time I got down there in the late afternoon there were plenty of people in cafes, including spectators inside Starbucks watching the march from the library - where the occupation reconvened after being kicked out of Frank Ogawa Plaza - go by. I was watiting for the moment when the Starbucks windows got smashed, but it didn't happen.

Like hopeful zombies, people kept marching on and on and on, around and around and around in a snake march that kept either sidestepping or just plain overwhelming the corral of hundreds of police brought in from around the state working overtime, armed with a $700,000 sound cannon, teargassing the shit out of civilians and firing rubber bullets in response to? or provoking the shooting of paintballs. The scary thing was not knowing where it was okay - legal? safe? - to be, and where was not.

All the while, I'm considering, What is the goal of this protest?

It's to retake the plaza in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

I'm considering, Why retake the plaza? Why the plaza and not somewhere else?

They raided Snow Park, too.

I'm considering who it was who decided it was that plaza that would be occupied in the first place.

I'm remembering that it was the result of a series of community meetings.

I'm considering and remembering these things while experiencing the cognitive dissonance that ensues when you go from an actively resisting space to a tranquil triumph of capitalism, i.e. while sitting down to steaming fish and chicken tacos in the Mission with Jeff. The salty tortilla chips and seven kinds of salsa calmed some of the churning in my stomach that had been building since I first saw the cops in riot gear getting off the bus at 14th and Broadway and increased exponentially when I saw the garbage collectors en masse at Frank Ogawa - renamed for the purposes of the occupation Oscar Grant - Plaza doing the dirty work of cleaning up the wreckages of the destroyed tent city, but didn't resolve the sense that I should not have left my city. Sucks to be part of the 99%. Sucks to be a cop. But how sweet to be on the receiving end of one of last night's token chants, You're sexy! You're cute! Take off your riot suit!

When I post my photos, I want to say, This is what a police state looks like, but I am afraid to offend any governing bodies.

In China, "occupy" is now a banned search term.

Which is really what this whole uprising is against, when it boils down to it.

All forthcoming decisions regarding the occupation have been, and continue to be, made by a general assembly. Anyone can attend and everyone is welcome. The next one convenes this evening at 6 PM at 14th and Broadway.

24 October 2011

we have places to keep going with our bodies in the night

i did not expect to be interested but i am

i did not begin again i just began

to practice the art of staying in motion in a world that is always threatening to stun us into stasis

this is not a poem, this is a place with a train running through it

people should have a billion choices

what is the point beyond the act of pointing?

if you enjoy it you understand it

our default survival modes create awkward contradictions

i fell in love with you a little, but i'm sure that happens all the time

if this seems circular it's because it is

other people's (gertrude stein, joan retallack, my colleagues) words / my experiences / between decadent moments cops are kicking folks out from under overpasses

18 October 2011

the time is now

"Let us show the animal that we all have within us, the one that bucks for peace and fucking."
-David Buuck, Army of Lovers, written in collaboration with Juliana Spahr, read in solidarity with Occupy Oakland

"The only thing we have to do for each other is to say it as it is."
-Inger Christensen, It