This is Autocracy

In four days, we've seen:

•DAPL reinstated: a financial enterprise in which Donald Trump--and Rex Tillerson-- is invested.

•"Temporary freezes" of information coming out of the White House

•Outright lies from the Press Secretary, Donald Trump, and Kellyanne Conway regarding the size of the inauguration attendance, the size of the marches, his relationship with the intelligence community, and voter fraud.

•A two front battle staged around immigration: both the Mexico Border Wall and a freeze on immigration from countries including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

•A dog-and-pony show in front of Intelligence officers in which he simultaneously bragged and insulted them, with hired enthusiasts who clapped inappropriately during a briefing.

•the ordered removal of the EPA's Climate Change page.

•Chicago threatened with federal intervention

•The Declaration of January 20 as a "National Patriotic Day of Devotion."

•Reinstated the "Hyde Amendment" which defunds health care internationally by refusing aid to anyone who even mentions abortion.

•Killed the TPP.

•The reinstatement of fees to mortgage holders, many of whom are blue collar, middle class or lower middle class.

•The silencing of multiple agencies under gag orders, including the EPA and agriculture department staff, USDA and Department of Transportation.

•Lied about winning awards for environmentalism.

 

This is what autocrats do: they centralize power, they silence opposition, they demonize people--even those who are citizens--they obfuscate, they dissemble, they confuse.

All of this is a part of a greater plan. Look to Steve Bannon, the Kingmaker. At his hand is the crafting of this play.

Read More

Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge Allegiance to Humanity, and the United States of Homo Sapiens, for though our nationalities differ, our DNA does not. 

I pledge Allegiance to our home, the United Continents of Gaia, across the seven oceans, over mountains and savannas, verdant rainforests and fragile northern tundra. 

I pledge Allegiance to Our Future; for my family and yours, for education, distribution of wealth, and the security of agency, to live freely, to be liberated in body and mind, to give love and be loved. 

I pledge Allegiance to those who suffer most, for though I am privileged, I cannot in good faith ignore the historical and current lapses against my fellow Homo Sapiens. I will use my privilege to speak Truth to Power, though my legs do shake. I will learn to be the best ally, to question assumptions, to call out racism, sexism, ageism, religious persecution, even if it lives in my own heart. 

I pledge Allegiance to a Moral Code: to protest the Rule of Law if it turns against justice, when it oppresses the disenfranchised, when it divides and conquers and makes allies into enemies.

I pledge Allegiance to the Land, to protect and serve Her, and all the creatures great and small who have no voices in these halls. To all the birds and mammals, reptiles and sea beasts: we are them and they are us. 

Read More

Winter Solstice, Anthropocene, Year One

 December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

On December 21, 2015–the longest night of the year–I left the house to buy wrapping paper and came back with my nose pierced.

Today, that mildly "Mid-Life Crisis" gesture seems prescient: in our 2016 post-election slump and period of demonstrable instability around the globe, getting my nose pierced again after decades of not having any jewelry seems like a statement of resistance, a pre-emptive lack of compliance, an adornment that screams: "NOPE. Fuck You Very Much." 

As a young woman I was never the most visibly rebellious punk in my social circle. My brand was somehow feminine and inconsistent. Maybe I was more "Art School Disestablishmentarian" than true punk rock; regardless, my embrace of counterculture was deep and wide. 

Time passed. We all grew older, and some things changed. We got more bills, children, responsibilities, and we can't actually live in squats any longer, at the very least because of bad knees. A 47 year-old living in a squat or a collective indicates that you're homeless; a broke artist who is actually 25; or some time ago nurtured an unwillingness to embrace a fully-fledged adulthood.

But some things stayed true. The greatest part of being punk was the on-the-job training in how to rebel against the popular--and often unjust--cultural and political narratives. We learned about Reaganomics from the people who suffered the most under Reagan's policies, when social welfare programs, college tuition grants, and support for the mentally ill were gutted. My gay friends were already deeply entrenched in a war against a terrifying enemy: AIDS, which was destroying them from within, and was being routinely ignored by the government, social, and religious organizations that should have been first in line to assist them; we all learned the value of radical activism with their guidance. In a ghostly image of our present, my ex-boyfriend was stabbed by a skinhead at a party.

This early skepticism for the dominant narratives has served us well. People I grew up with have, in their own lives, maintained a vigilant eye on the culture that seems to have consumed the United States. A few years ago, we were immediately suspicious of the "Tea Party" because they looked an awful lot like the hateful but powerful minority which ran "Focus on the Family," a group that took umbrage against anyone having a life outside Judeo-Christian marriage (with the exception, I suppose, of either sleeping with your father á la King Lot, or marrying your dead brother's wife or run the risk of losing your sandals.)  

The "Christian Coalition" was pretty fast and loose with the separation of Church and State in the 90's; the Tea Party looks a lot like them, too. Zombie politicians keep rising from the crypt of the Eighties and Nineties: in the six weeks since the election, I've read about Cheney, Kissinger, Gingrich; I imagine if they can figure out the secrets of reanimation, the current GOP will bring back Secretary of the Interior James Watt, Senators Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond. What IS Ralph Reed, the smarmy Christian boychik agitator, up to these days? Steve Bannon smells a lot like him, and moves in similarly crafty, Machiavellian ways. 

Our values were tested during the first Gulf War, with "Stormin' Norman" leading the charge of NATO-Backed Somethings. But we were fired up. We marched, we made art, we made music, we RESISTED. In 1991, it was inconceivable that we would be resurrecting our own zombie army to protest the warmongering, oppositional zombies who made the executive decision--with the aid of manufactured data points about Weapons of Mass Destruction--to destroy all semblance of stability in the Middle East in the name of "democracy." Who could imagine we'd be suiting up for a second Gulf War, one that would make far less sense than the first?

Here we are again. And we are some grizzled Anti-Establishment foot soldiers by this time. Most of us are closer to the end of the show than the beginning, but we are battle-scarred and battle-trained. I still own the old anti-Gulf War posters I designed in 2003 and recently reviewed their value.

Conclusion: still relevant.

 First through Third Major Extinctions: Snowball Earth-Devonian-Permian, 2016

First through Third Major Extinctions: Snowball Earth-Devonian-Permian, 2016

The other now-borderline prophesy made during my "Campaign of NOPE" was getting the tattoo I spent six months researching. Having remained ink-free through punk rock, grunge in Seattle, attending the stereotypically anti-establishment Evergreen State College, and marrying a musician during my 47 years on earth, it took me until 2016 to commit to a design I found worthy of wearing for the rest of my life.

The tattoo starts on the inside of my wrist, coils around my elbow, twists once under and over my bicep and then across the entire span of my shoulders. It encompasses 4.6 billion years of life on earth, starting with cyanobacteria, rising up through 4 billion years until the Ediacaran Period, when the oceans became populated by alien creatures that we can't even identify as owning heads, much less how they feed.

The 600 million years after that are filled with strange and wondrous beasts; the bizarre relative of us all, a smiling elbowed fish named Tiktaalik; the sail-backed Dimetredons, followed by the sturdiest, oddest looking survivor of the world's largest extinction Lystrosaurus, from which we are all the unlikely but thankful descendants. (The Permian is the largest extinction on record: 94 percent of species were extinguished in a protracted, methane-CO2 nightmare. THAT is climate change.)

 Jurassic-Cretaceous Extinction Event

Jurassic-Cretaceous Extinction Event

By the time we get to a mere million years ago, things are more recognizably "us." Catlike creatures and giant hoofed mammals are running around looking similar to our current lions, rhinoceros' and camels save for their enormous size. A little humanoid was making some noise, but certainly wasn't the dominant critter on the savannah; homo sapiens sapiens didn't formally make an entrance until 200,000 years ago. 

 Fifth Mass Extinction: Cretaceous Chixlub Event

Fifth Mass Extinction: Cretaceous Chixlub Event

The final chapter of my tattoo can be condensed into 10,000 years: tiny nomads, a couple pyramids, farming, town life. This hominid mammal's era is setting: the sun is dropping behind a town on a cliff (based, possibly prophetically, or maybe just synchronously, on an engraving of Medieval Nuremburg) from which one tiny figure takes a graceful swan dive into nothingness.

 Sixth Extinction Event, and Anthropocene, A geologic era to call our own. 

Sixth Extinction Event, and Anthropocene, A geologic era to call our own. 

If this tattoo is bleak to those immediately married to the idea of our species' continuation, that wasn't the reason I got it. Instead the highlights of the tattoo--and the only color in what is a four-foot timeline across my body--illustrate that despite catastrophic collapses of habitable climate, which makes life for mammals, plants, sea life, theropods, and sauropods almost unthinkable, there were always survivors.

 ©John Sibbick, "Lystrosaurus" 

©John Sibbick, "Lystrosaurus" 

Little Lystrosaurus is the most sturdy example: it was, despite being named with the unromantic Latin term for "Shovel Lizard," innately well-suited to survive: a burrowing, buck-toothed vegetarian with buggy eyes, it was the dominant species on earth for almost a million years. 

This does not mean we will be dominant in the near future. At only 200,000 years old as a species, homo sapiens sapiens seem to have a profound, intractable nihilism built into its genetic makeup. The current geo-political climate makes clear that the people who could most quickly assume powerful and meaningful decision-making to assure our survival have bucked all trends and want to instead see what lies over the cliff. 

So be it. I will use all my breath, all my power, and all my intelligence to make sure that whatever our world's future Lystrosaurus might be, I will fight for its continued success. 

In the weeks since the election, I've had conversations with friends about the call to resist. "I'm feeling PUNK AS FUCK," one said. To another, I noted that embracing the spirit of our youth was like coming home.

It's been a strange circuitous journey to the seed of who I am, but this is it: a homecoming to resistance, fighting injustice, pointing out hypocrisy, and screaming like our lives depend on it.

Our lives depend on it.  

The Ship

It's helpful to utilize metaphors. They are powerful.

Read More

The XX's and the XY's

These are strange times no matter what type of chromosomes you have, but if you’re marked with a XX chromosome, it’s both strange and terrifying. Because for the XX's of the population, for the first time in modern history, we were tantalizingly close to fair treatment under the law, the economy, and—to greater or lesser success—media representation, and are watching all this threatened at the feet of a few angry XY's. 

Read More

What to Cook for Thanksgiving When Your Democracy is Failing

Coffee then beer and some aspirin. 

Add nepotism. 

Worry because tax cuts are for the rich but single mothers can't claim their own child. Medicare will be gone and climate change is real and every scientist knows it's happening and North Carolina is on fire now. Right fucking now. And wow. Florida. Not looking good for you.

Read More

An Open Letter to White #AntiTrump Activists

If you want to be proactive but don't know where to start: THIS IS IT.

You are going to have to be brave and tell "nice racists" that they are wrong. Because they are WRONG. And the people who benefit from indifference are bigots.

This is ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT for white men and women to understand: we have our skin color which protects us from these of petty acts of aggression that PoC, LGBT, etc. deal with every day.

So it's our duty to stand up–especially to our friends and family and coworkers–and point out their bigotry.

You will have tough days.

But you might turn this into a conversation that makes your family understand. Your coworkers. Someone in line at the coffee shop.

These conversations are the first line of action. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. If you see it, and it feels wrong, it probably is. Call it out. Explain why. Do the work in your head about whether a person is making lazy assumptions based on race/class/gender/etc., EVEN IF THAT SOMEONE IS YOU.

Test your own knee-jerk reactions. Look for it in others. Call it out. WE HAVE TO DO THIS. And we have to DO IT NOW.

This is happening NOW. And we need to be independent thinkers capable of assessing these things. THIS IS THE FIRST STEP, WHITE PEOPLE.

When you think about the safety pin movement, in principle it's a good idea: offering a personal safe space for people who are vulnerable. But it ends there. NO ACTION FROM THERE. You're saying: People of COLOR, disenfranchised humans, you can come to ME, I am HERE TO SAVE YOU.

But people of color, gay rights activists, civil rights activists: THEY HAVE BEEN THIS DOING FOR THEIR WHOLE LIVES. They don't need saving. They have REALLY GREAT STRATEGIES. LISTEN TO THEM.

They have these conversations EVERY DAY. You don't need to have the conversation with THEM.

INSTEAD, YOU HAVE TO TALK TO OTHER WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT BREAKING DOWN THEIR BIGOTRY. THIS IS OUR JOB.

We have to stand up to those who are testing whether it's okay: Is your mom using qualifiers when describing someone? "Not them, of course. They're okay." Is your chummy-with-everyone co-worker side-eying someone wearing a hijab? TALK TO THEM ABOUT IT.

And ANYONE who calls Muslims "terrorists" in polite conversation is not polite. They are polite TO YOU, but they are testing you. Will you call them on their bigotry? Your answer has to be YES.

People are poking the defenses. Testing the solidity of your resolve. Testing how long you're willing to tolerate their bigotry.

Nip it in the bud: Now. And every. Damn. Time.

It's Our Flag. Own It.

Any American family should embrace their flag, especially if your family looks like mine: black, Asian, Jewish, gay, straight, veteran, pacifist, blue collar union, or Midwestern conservative. 

Read More

Why I voted for Hillz

When I was voting in my first presidential election, Bill Clinton had electrified young voters. I mean, sure, he was charismatic, played a saxophone on MTV (a cheesy maneuver, but effective), and made the campaign engaging for newly minted voters. 

But Hillary Clinton spoke at a campaign stop on her husband's behalf and I was gobsmacked. She didn't pander, and she was obviously smart as hell. She didn't play the submissive wife. She didn't girly up. 

She was Bill's peer, and supported him in his goals because she was his peer and it was his turn on the stage. But there wasn't any question that her turn would come later on. She wasn't finished; she was merely supporting her spouse before the next chapter in her career, whatever it might be. 

And I thought, "Jesus Christ, this is amazing. She is AMAZING." She had vision, and goals of her own, and a brain that worked outside her husband's. She was articulate. She wasn't soft, even slightly prickly, but I liked that. So come November 1992, in my first presidential election I marked my ballot for Bill Clinton, but I VOTED for Hillary. 

And now both of us are older. We've both been through the ringer at different times. We've both seen some amazing personal growth, and made some glaring mistakes. Her charisma isn't as slick as Bill's, but I appreciate that. I don't want a car salesman, I want someone who can navigate political tumult with both a sense of self, and a good grasp of how to delegate and to whom. Her Rolodex is to die for. She dresses in Nehru jackets, and wears them well. She has had jobs in most levels of government, and has Obama on speed dial. 

Is she on script too much? Maybe...but maybe she knows her weaknesses, and public speaking isn't her strong suit. That's okay. Harry Truman wasn't charismatic either, but he had it together and is only now getting his due as a good president during rough times.

So I'm voting for Hillary because she impressed me the first time, she impresses me now, she has a better CV than anyone, ANYONE, in the history of American politics, and has managed to keep her head during the normal slings and arrows of a presidential campaign, but also weathered the rampant lies, sexism, lame media coverage, and overt dismissal of her 30-plus-year service to her country. Cool as a cucumber doesn't even begin to cover it. She's a freaking political NINJA. 

Hillary Clinton, because she's more badass than any of us.

Source: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/feed/celebr...

Book Trailer for Living in Twilight

I wrote this script when I imagined I would have the patience to see Living in Twilight published. The book didn't get published, but the trailer is still awesome. 

SCENE: LIVING ROOM, DAY

Chris and Quenby are drinking beer. Quenby is furiously scribbling on a cumbersome and large piece of paper. 

CHRIS
So what was cinematic about Dad dying?

QUENBY
[Pause]
Talking about his death being cinematic is pretty cinematic. [Laughs]

Cut to: DRUNK SHUFFLER WITH BOX OF BERRIES AND BROWN BAG OF BEER.

VO: CHRIS
There was the drunk guy trying to sell you blackberries while Dad was croaking. 

QUENBY
Ha! Yeah, that was surreal. What about...

CUT TO SHAMAN-CHARLES DANCING SHAGGY JIG WHILE SMACKING DOORS

VO: QUENBY
...the Shaman marking the doors of his university with pee? 

CHRIS
Ha! That's a good one. He was a great Shaman. 

VO: QUENBY
Dad hallucinating? When his ghost cat showed up? He couldn't figure out that it wasn't really there.

 Zoltan Memorial, pastel on paper, Charles Moone

Zoltan Memorial, pastel on paper, Charles Moone

CUT TO GHOST CAT RISING OUT OF THE WRINKLES IN DAD'S SHEETS, ALONG WITH ALL MANNER OF PAINTINGS GROWING OUT OF THE WALLS AND CEILING AND FLOOR.

VO: CHRIS
We can shoot it as if a painting is evolving in front of him. 
 
QUENBY
It kind of was. Everything was so strange. 

CHRIS
Maybe it would be about how magical it was to grow up in a world of art. 

QUENBY
And how he died with art, too? That we were living through this tragic moment with joy because of his love of art?

DAD
A good example is you two nuts writing about my death as though it's a movie trailer. 

CHRIS
We learned to see the world through you, Dad. Everything was pretty weird with you in it. 

QUENBY
Yeah, DAD. Pipe down. You're dead.

BEAT. 

CHRIS
Although it's great to see you. 

Credits roll: 
LIVING IN TWILIGHT, 
An unpublished book coming to a theater near you. 
@2012-2016 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.