Sometimes when you get home after a day of airplane travel, haggard and tired, you’re still buoyed up by a song.
“Blame It On My Youth” I learned just yesterday, thanks to my friend and award-winning jazz musician Kavita Shah, who just released her debut album featuring Lionel Loueke (one of my favorites!), and whose version of this tune (she arranged it herself) is just gorgeous.
Check out more of Kavita’s amazing work, and give a love song to yourself today, some kinda way!
Bro-Dependency is a new Comedy Central miniseries of shorts about two dumb bros, and it’s brilliant. I, a reluctant TV watcher (so addicting! nothing else in my life gets done), have so far replayed the first video, “Tacos,” three times. For me, the show could intellectually, culturally, and humorously rival Awkward Black Girl. From the casual racism and misogyny lying around like dirty gym socks (a mess both subtle and potent), to the obnoxious yet painfully fragile hetero-masculinity of its two
heroes dudes, BD’s pitch-perfect acting, strong writing and sharp editing capture those ineffable qualities of bro-ness immediately recognizable to anyone who’s ever attended a frat party and felt like strangling themselves with a resistance band.
For example. On first look, Anderson’s laugh-cry (which was so effective in “Tacos” that it seems to have become a running joke for the series, with somewhat diminishing returns) might just seem to paint him as hollow and shallow. But I think this is more about nurture than nature: the sociology of bro-ness, beyond individual vacuousness. These guys spend so much time mocking and belittling what’s painful to others (like harassing the young man on the bike, or — personal-experience beef — laughing off feminism and spouting constant rape jokes) that when something deeply painful happens to them, they have ZERO IDEA how to handle it gracefully.
And although the idiocy is clear, it’s not so absurd or totalizing that we can write these people off. We, too, have our own avoidance maneuvers. Whether our veneer consists of sarcasm or spiritual materialism, when we focus overmuch on commanding, controlling, and dominating what’s around us we become kinda clueless in the face of internal crisis.
More thoughts later, maybe, but for now, can’t wait to see where this show goes. Mad potential, yo.
board the train (made it this time, again thanks to dana and victor). the conductor looks at my ticket, burlington to boston with a 3+ hour layover in springfield, mass. he says, “you know, it’s up to you, but you might be better off taking the bus from springfield to boston: it’s just a few blocks from the train station, and leaves every hour. not trying to drive business away, but it sucks to have to wait around so long.”
people can be so KIND.
1. host-friends took me hiking in snowy wilderness preserve and helped me stay upright despite my hazardous “fake snowboots.” (DKNY, soles like sea glass, years-ago gift from california mom worried about cambridge winters.)
tottering along, i think of ani difranco:
when i look down
i just miss all the good stuff.
when i look up
i trip over things.
but i don’t mind looking down, concentrating on not falling. it’s a walking meditation, a game of balance punctuated by laughter, just as good a time as any.
2. after three days and four nights snowed in with them, host-friends are still not sick of me. he calls me “honey;” she shows me how to use a dip stick. they both teach me about art. their lovely house is full of tales; the soot of courage sticks to the walls. this couple is sharp and bright, with a base of warmth (like host-friend’s diced vidalia onions and cilantro on top of our paprika-and-pepper black bean stew).
this morning host-friend Dana lightly cursed her empty bottle of insulin (type 1 diabetic). brightly, as if on cue, Victor took the refrigerated reserve and warmed it in between his palms. “if it goes into your body cold, it hurts,” Dana tells me.
3. reading well-historicized analysis (a draft, a sapling) of revolutionary organizing methods, thoughtfully written in criticism and kindness. joyful joyful. makes me think hard; makes me grateful for people with whom to think and with whom to Do — people with whom to truly attempt. i read in my host-friends’ library nook, on a great lilypad of a chair.
4. weeks of dry, indoor-heated air have given me lips of eucalyptus bark. host-friend Dana gifted me a stick of raspberry balm from the amazing goodie basket that she keeps stocked in her guest room, but i was already so far gone that the stuff didn’t do much good. today, however, revealed a godsend tube of medicated blistex hidden between couch cushions.
5. brief moment of anonymous public crying, at a cafe. output salt of tears helps to balance input salt of delicious poutine (made vegetarian with butternut squash gravy). anonymous public crying makes me feel old and young at the same time.
like when your neighbor texts you because she knows you’ve been gone from the apartment going on two weeks, and is concerned that your car might get a street-sweeping ticket. touched, you say Thanks so much, I was gonna ask someone to move it for me, but maybe u could, and use it to do laundry or summ? and she says Sure I. Can Move it for you, and it would be great if i could do my laundry. Lol time to wash the blankets and pillows. (you can hear her South Carolina laugh.) and you tell her how to get the spare set of car keys from the drawer of your nightstand — Heads-up so you’re not too shocked, there’s a vibrator in there along with a floral-patterned hammer and other important tools, lol.
Lol, cool, she says. Oh and I hope you’re out of danger of that storm.
you think of Audre Lorde and the histories of black and mixed women caring for each other, the complexities of having access to a car, not having access to a car, to light-skin privilege, to thin-body privilege, to neighborliness, to a neighborhood where neither of you grew up.
you think of Silvia Federici and the work and planning that goes into keeping a household, from watering the plants to washing the pillows to checking on neighbors to planning the porch-evening-six-pack-of-beer thank-you, which you know your neighbor well enough to feel confident that she will enjoy.
At 2am, after driving 11 hours straight on a cold and thankfully snowless night, I arrived in Vermont to a sharp and loving sign on the door of my friend Dana’s house. Before going to bed with the front door unlocked, Dana had convinced her partner Victor to turn up the heat so that I “wouldn’t become a Katie popsicle.” Logistical kindnesses, plus the magic of Dana’s grandmother’s down quilt (go to bed chilly; wake up toasty) … I am indeed a lucky one.
Hard to believe it’s my final semester of grad school at Goddard, in Plainfield, VT. Some of you might even remember when I started, three years ago.
On campus, between preparing for my portfolio / thesis semester and keeping up with work for Turning Wheel, it’s been heavy on indoor and computer time. Grateful that the blog pushes me to get outside, even with my cold-wimp self.
your lover doesn’t have to be well-versed
in your area of expertise.
all they need to offer is constructive interference
a question, a small-smiling comment
that’ll make you think different.
On a whim this Sunday, drove to Ocean Beach to take advantage of clear sky and strong sun. Rare are the days warm enough that removing my shirt makes sense. (not that it has to.)
A good book and a nap in the sand.
Wishing you well, friends.
i don’t begrudge my friends and family their joy, but since 2008 i have lost my belief in a patriotism dressed up in charming blackness.
instead, may blackness continue to serve as an impetus toward universal freedom, fundamentally challenging all harmful power structures (including the u.s. government).
may blackness fill us with the vision, love, and spiritual strength necessary to fight for a classless society, a society of equals, where leaders are not idolized but trusted — and directly accountable.
much gratitude to all who have struggled and are struggling for real, worldwide liberation.
so humbling and exciting.
Top: “Steeped in African American history while growing up in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, Jacob Lawrence launched his career at age 21 with a 41-panel series about an important black hero, Touissant L’Ouverture, who led the slave rebellion to liberate Haiti from French rule. Years later, he reprised the series in screen print, including the dramatic ‘To Preserve Their Freedom,’ 1986, a reminder that American blacks were still not liberated.”