Clear as mud: Black Willow, Mississippi Mud, and FBI informants

LomaScott very rarely plays songs more than once in a sitting, so the fact that we’ve now listened to Loma‘s Black Willow six times in a row is no small endorsement. I agree: it’s infectiously beautiful, darkly haunting, the lyrics are provocative… definitely worth playing over and over, and there’s something about the album cover art, too.

I finally decided to look for a video and Lo, not only does one exist, it’s in a similar vein as the ones I have posted twice before:

And the plot thickens! The video’s first comment on YouTube is from (actor, producer, and writer) Daniel Martine, who points out that the song sounds eerily similar to a song called “Mississippi Mud,” a Black Blood and the Chocolate Pickles song with a grim history:

In his comment to the Black Willow video, Daniel continues:

The story is about the death of black students who protesting [sic] at Jackson State in Mississippi in ’70. Not long after Kent State shootings happened. But it didn’t get the press of Kent State, because they were black students.

I can google up no evidence that Loma may have meant Black Willow to be a straight up homage to the song and/or a rememberance of the events that took place at Jackson State, not to mention the inequality of the response thereafter compared to shootings of white students. But I could understand that the band could have gone there Continue reading

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Life is Magic, Where is My Rabbit?

I’ve been playing Fraser Ross nonstop the last couple days. Scott figured out that he’ll be playing a house concert in our old neighborhood next week AND there were still tickets available, so I’m very excited about that.

The whole album is rich and melancholic and lovely and there are more upbeat, fun moments as well, which remind me a bit of parts of the Farallons’ Outer Sun Sets EP.

If you want a quick taster, here’s one that makes me want to jump around:

 

Botox for butts (and other fancy GI health tips)

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Scott found this photo tucked into a used book at Green Apple Books and I love it.

One of the changes I’ve had to get used to upon moving to New Zealand is that medical offices exhibit very little of the American paranoia around client privacy. And so, in addition to things like Doctor Sam asking Scott whether we’d gone on the hikes he’d recommended to me during my last visit and our dentist giving Scott shit about the fact that I am long overdue for a cleaning, everyone in the waiting room at the gastroenterologist’s office got to hear about my upcoming colonoscopy.

I won’t go into the details about my symptoms other than to say they warrant the procedure; my grandmother had to have her colon removed at a relatively young age, so we’re proceeding cautiously.

The doctor explained that one of the possible treatments (depending on what they find, and how I respond to other options) may involve Botox. I missed all the articles about “Anal Botox” that apparently made the social media rounds last year and found this fascinating, immediately texting my brother Continue reading

The Journey: a poem by Mary Oliver

Here is a poem that Spring Washam included in her 2017 book, A Fierce Heart: Finding Strength, Courage, And Wisdom in Any Moment. I love how it dovetails with William Stafford’s The Way It Is:

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations —
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Continue reading

Dancing with our demons: artistic perspectives on inner struggles

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to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. In NZ, free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor. 

There are a lot of things that art, broadly speaking, does for me. During tough times especially, I appreciate the opportunity to get beyond words and into something deeper, vaster, and paradoxically more accessible, if less explicable.

Here are four dance performances that illuminate the challenge of staying on one’s own path, which to me often feels a lot like going against the grain. The differences, gross or subtle, between what I believe and what I value, and how I live. The various arguing inner voices, the wrestling-with-angels, the sleepless nights.

I highly recommend watching full-screen with a good headset or speakers. I have to believe the third was inspired by the second, but who knows? The last one gives me the most hope, though I reject the implication that we need to buy anything in order to liberate ourselves, as it were.

I’d love to hear how you interpret any or all of these performances, how the lyrics resonate with you (or not – honestly I’m so moved by the physical performances it’s hard for me to pay attention to the lyrics!), and/or to see any art you’ve made to represent the struggle of remaining true to yourself when it feels like you’re supposed to stay within the lines. ❤

The view from “down there”

In the last coupla weeks I’ve managed to delete my Facebook account, get sick-and-then-better, demonstrate the high-level function of our relationship by making it through a 3-day power outage with minimal food wastage (we ate well!), attend a meditation retreat, and discover dozens of beautiful, brave people who are fighting the good fight(s) with regard to identity politics on Twitter.

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I’m working up the nerve to write (but mostly still grokking how to connect the dots, and deciding how much I am actually willing to share) something that somehow weaves together the male gaze, heteronormativity, my own internalized beliefs about fashion and fitting in, representation, aging, model minority stereotypes, growing up bi-racial in a predominantly-white, very privileged community, the tension between building a platform that “scales” and staying 100% committed to my own voice, the dangers women face for expressing any sexuality, one (or more) of my #metoo stories, and what it means for me, as a woman of color who has so often reported to white men (I currently report to a Māori man), to fully step into my power.

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It’s probably more like 12 pieces to write over the course of the rest of my life. Every other hour, I convince myself that I just need to keep meditating instead of attempting to make sense of it all, much less write it down for an audience.

In the meantime, I will share this stunning Janelle Monáe video, from which I have stolen the above screenshots:

I really don’t want to ruin it with any more commentary BUT (I can’t help it!) it gives me many of the same magical, tingly, “we got this,” “it ain’t all bad” feelings that this Bomba Estereo video also evokes:

May I one day master my craft to the point where I too can wrap the messages I’d like to convey in packages as powerful as these.

Looping back around: music, memory, and meeting Scott

Every time Scott puts Wild Nothing on:

I remember that I had invited him (via the old-and-inferior OKCupid messaging system) to check out Bombay Bicycle Club at the Warfield as a first date.

As it turned out, neither of us ended up going to that show. We did meet in person to see Zakir Hussein at SF Jazz Center the following weekend, easily one of the best dates, much less first dates, I’d ever been on…

…but it was too late. I ignored his texts for a couple days. My stomach knotted with the decision I’d been mulling over, I called to tell him I had chosen to focus my energy into a different (also brand new) relationship.

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There’s much more to say, of course, about all the things that happened between then and now. But this afternoon we’re checking out the visuals from that Bombay Bicycle Club tour and trying to figure out the best way to get the album box set to our home in New Zealand.

 

Kiwi Californiana: Arthur Ahbez

We’ve been enjoying Arthur Ahbez’s album Gold. His aesthetic strikes me as decidedly NorCal folk psych pop, not something I was expecting from a Kiwi! Either way, I was excited to see his band open for the mesmerizing Julia Jacklin last Saturday at the Tuning Fork. Alas, he played solo, and was quite nervous (he said so several times) without his band. Definitely rocking a Devendra-esque look. And that voice!

But tell me Arthur’s song Gold:


…was not inspired by this:

It had to be. Right?!

Connected circles

Last night we braved (former) Cyclone Debbie’s downpour to visit the Auckland Gallery during one of their Open Late events. One of the pieces in the current exhibit (The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from Tate) is this, Men Shall Know Nothing of This, from Max Ernst:

I was immediately reminded of the circles in Hilma af Klint‘s Swan series:

As usual, I can find no evidence that she influenced him, but what are facts, anyway… I’m convinced. Continue reading