Some of My Recent Writing on Art, Music, Health, and Social Justice

Hi Readers. I’ve been so busy that keeping up with the blog is kind of a tall order. Lately, I have edited a book on a rare gastric disorder, ghostwritten a comedic memoir, and I’m still slogging away on a local history book about the incorporation of Citrus Heights. To keep things fun and to try and maintain my value in the world, I contribute to a few publications about art and social justice. Ah, the life of a freelancer.

So I thought I’d include some short descriptions of some recent pieces and some links for your perusal. For me, art and politics, health and social justice, these things are all of a piece. I’m also a little ADD so I bounce around a lot, which is probably why I have 168 followers on Twitter. I’m writing a YA novel about climate change, did I mention? Anyway, here’s a ‘greatest hits’ of my recent work.

A few months ago, I wrote a feature for Submerge Magazine about political satirist and YouTube doyenne Randy Rainbow. If you don’t know his work, check your pulse. He was a total doll to interview, and he got my daughter and me tickets to the show, which was cathartically hilarious.

In May, Sacramento’s Concert in the Park was lucky enough to have Lyrics Born grace the stage. He’s a multi-faceted hip hop artist who has recently dabbled in comedy, and we had a great conversation about the realities of being a working artist.

Now for the darker stuff. For the last half of 2018, I was knee deep in a project about a dissociative disorder called Pervasive Pregnancy Denial. When you see gratuitous headlines about newborns being found in dumpsters, this is what you are actually witnessing, the culmination of childhood trauma and the psyche’s elastic ability to block out painful information. The US is the only country in the industrialized world that doesn’t have a federal statute recognizing reproductive-related mental health events as mitigating circumstances for these types of crimes. Dame Magazine was bold enough to publish this story, and I’m very grateful for their help in putting this piece together.

Dame also published a piece I wrote called Can the “Wellness” Industry Solve Our Healthcare Crisis? about the failures of conventional medicine and the potential for evidence-based alternative or traditional healing modalities to correct these shortcomings. I also address some of the shitty practices in the multi-billion dollar wellness industry that is disguised as the solution with very little oversight or results. It’s a complicated subject, but really important since so many 2020 candidates are championing #MedicareForAll.

When the documentary Leaving Neverland came out, I was struck by how many people didn’t understand the nature of childhood sexual abuse. The two men who came forward, Wade Robson and James Safechuck had a conversation with Oprah (and praise be to Oprah for doing this because the backlash was extreme) where they discussed the reasons they both came forward. I wrote an open letter to both of them on Medium from the perspective of a trauma-informed yoga teacher.

michael jackson

In the interests of addressing some of the underpinnings with so many of our social ills, I wrote a more philosophic piece on the nature of violence in the US. It occurs to me that we will not fix our more obvious problems if we don’t learn how to acknowledge our own baked-in rage as a culture.

I’d love to hear from you about anything I’ve published lately. Thanks for taking the time, readers.

Love and Light,

~M.

Musicians Riff on White Woman Who Called Cops on Black BBQ

Despite the increasing depth and breadth of 21st Century American Racism, you gotta love the comedic cruelty of the Internet when it actually manages to do some equalizing.

The woman identified as Dr. Jennifer Shulte had a positively schizophrenic affect when she called the cops on some African American folks who were barbequing, going from the voice of authority to weeping victim as soon as the cops arrived.

Many of us wanted to give this lady a knuckle sandwich but thankfully, the Internet did that for us.

Thank God for Photoshop!  I’m particularly enjoying the memes that Bay Area musicians are passing around at her expense:

32780120_977402025759070_1800999294677811200_n

A Great Day in Harlem, 1958: “hello officer, people are playing flatted fifths.”

MonoNeon turns her voice into a smokin’ riff:

 

The snorkel is a nice touch:

 

Go Go Penguin Made My Summer

Alright, growing up in Los Angeles made me a sucker for hiphop, underground hiphop specifically, that nursed from the veins of truly great jazz.  It’s phenomenal to me that the tech has fed the human capacity for sound, Rob Turner manages to mimic the crisp drum tracks only previously capable on Logic.

It’s not just the precision that these dudes execute, it’s also the inviting melodies, the easy phrasing that feels so effortless and free. It all works just as well with Autumn, I recommend:

 

 

 

Sacramento Trees: Greatest Hits

Image

This blog has been on ice for a bit, but I’ve been ruminating on refashioning it.  I’d like to create a resource and a laugh for other single moms like me in the Sacramento area.

But first, let’s look at some trees.  Even people who live here don’t realize that Sacramento has one of the densest tree populations in the US per capita, a fact that has recently been confirmed by a study at MIT.

I will intermittently be posting some beauties for no other reason than, you know, beauty.

You’re welcome.

 

IMG_1820IMG_3532IMG_3518IMG_3451IMG_3018IMG_3013

IMG_4157

Trigger Warning: Trump is Your President

images-1

When the map went red, it bled.  That uniform block of frustration and alienation is as visible as an open wound.  

For me, this election is personal.  I haven’t spoken publicly about it until now, but last summer, I was ensnared by a romantic sociopath and when I discovered the depth of this person’s lies, I had a mental health crisis complete with panic, anxiety/depression, PTSD, insomnia, the whole shebang.

At the time, I was working at a mental health facility teaching yoga to acute patients.  These vulnerable people had often sustained ongoing childhood abuse.  I could not teach anymore because I was now a patient and I couldn’t separate myself from my students; I was lost in empathy, my own pain mixing with their’s.

When the map went that red last night, it was like watching a dear friend willingly return to the home of her abusive husband. Our nation voted for a sociopath because it has Stockholm Syndrome.  Our red states feel powerless and so they reach for and identify with power, even if that power is their oppressor.

We have to wonder about free will in this moment and how much we are actually exercising it if we put the tax-evading bully in the driver’s seat.

I’m grieving a future that is not fraught with draconian repeals and abusive cycles that grind up our best and brightest.

I’m in the second phase of grief: denial.

Followed closely by bargaining: your mind just keeps trying to peel back time and rewrite the event, bending it another way. It happens repeatedly throughout your day, your mind doing impossible gymnastics to make that one moment of shock disappear. I’m going to let myself feel it, so I can move onto guilty, anger and eventually hope.
I am already tired from the work that must be done.  I see with fresh awareness that my privilege has afforded me the ability to opt out of activism.  The Obama years were a piece of cake I ate daily without realizing it.  But none of us, not one American, will have that luxury anymore.
I have one perspective I learned through my experience with the sociopath that is both disheartening and hopeful as it applies to Trump: sociopaths usually self-destruct.  because they are not conscience-bound at all, they do not apply loyalty to their interactions.  His loose cannon antics will continue once he gets into the White House and while we can count on him disposing of Obamacare, overturning Roe v. Wade, and setting up shop for his billionaire friends, he will also be bored, cruel, and destructive with the wrong people.
Malcolm Gladwell predicts Trump will be hip-deep in a lawyer huddle, if not in jail within the first year. I sort of hope he is right; I’d be really surprised if Trump makes it through a first term.
In the meantime, we need to bind together tighter, we need to reach back out to the middle, and bravely carry the torch of love, inclusion, forgiveness.  We need to see this as it is, a wound that needs healing.
Let’s be ready, friends, neighbors, families, communities, cities and allies.  Let’s start to build a model of what we do want so when this thing comes crashing down, we can create again.
May we eradicate hate.  One world, one people, one love.

No Handshake at the Last Debate: A Tactical Decision to Abandon Manners

trump-clinton-debate-645449ec-16e8-410d-9345-d0d6181ee458

 

I have always watched these debates and marveled at the politician’s strange ability to cut someone down in front of millions and then smile and shake hands afterward.  I think of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, how that nicety is sort of creepy but entirely necessary, a shred of good sportsmanship.

According to the news outlets, Trump stacked his entourage with the women who have accused Bill Clinton of misconduct; that would force Bill to shake hands with them. The Clinton camp negotiated at the last minute for no greeting and no handshake at the beginning or end of the debate.

I can’t say I blame HRC for not wanting to touch that dastardly paw, but then again, she’s shaken hands with Trump hundreds of times.  There are plenty of photos of all of them bouging it up at some gala or another.

When those racism jackasses shouted at President Obama during his State of the Union Address, it had similar implications.  There is no place now, not even the formal stronghold of the presidency, that hatred cannot invade.

We’ve really let this discourse descend into the Sub Abyssal Zone.  I’ll be really grateful when this nightmarish election is over.

 

Give Those Nymphs Some Hooters: Donald Trump vs. Bernie Sanders and What it Means to Art

When his blustery, mean-spirited dismissive, caustic pinched, nasal voice started coming back out through the public airwaves, I had to draw back and remember, when was I first aware of Donald Trump?

It was the late 80s, when everyday I found the funny pages of the LA Times (well almost everyday, after my Dad had done the crossword) and I read Doonsbury, a decades long satire by Gary Trudeau .  I was transfixed by the romance happening between Mike and J.J.  Mike’s long-suffering commercial career as an illustrator was punctuated by campaigns that would come to life like Mr. Butts, the Cigarette Lobby Spokesman, and J.J. was a performance artist who donned a bucket on her head and dashed the wedding china on the floor to make a comment about the fragile artifice of American marriage.  Now this was real love.

At some point, despite their rocky and often bewildering relationship, Mike and J.J have a child, Alex.  This is when (momentarily)  J.J sobers up and realizes, shit, I have to get a job.  J.J’s first commission?  To paint a replica of the Cistine Chapel inside Donald Trump’s yacht.  The Don was married to Ivana and had just purchased the Trump Princess (I guess he  didn’t care that renaming a boat is bad luck).  He was a fixture on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. “Give Those Nymphs Some Hooters” is the feedback J.J receives from her new boss as she clambers back up the scaffold, chanting to herself “I have a family, I have a family…” In the end of the sequence, she makes Adam look a little more Donaldy.

give-those-nymphs-283x300

What Gary Trudeau points out here with his usual wry humor, is that Trump is the distillation of the crass disregard for real beauty that comes with profound excess and a lack of profound feeling. Despite the way the rich toss their blue chips onto the table to obtain a Picasso or more recently, a Banksy, they are the same people who have no idea what Picasso or Banksy are attempting to do with their work, why great art is ownerless. It’s not the painting; it’s the invisible magic that takes place between the viewer and the painting.

It’s this ability, to envision, to imagine, to play, that has sustained us and pushed us forward as a species. In this way, The Donald is The Opposite of Civilization. He is closed, you are fired. There isn’t a single original thought happening. He is the ultimate reduction to lowest common denominator. All things are objects to him, even his own daughter.

I’ve read all the articles that talk about how strategic he’s being, using simple fourth grade words, shredding right through the GOP operating manual, and in some ways, yes, this is clever salesmanship.  But no matter what the talking heads say, he is not a rebel.  Trump is allied with another far less morally bound party that play by their own set of rules: the Robber Barons.  It would not surprise me if he lit his cigars with $100 bills.

Even if we try to make the businessman pitch to The Donald: art’s central role in the latest science about brain development, sociological studies on happiness, mental illness, and general quality of life. The Donald isn’t interested in abstractions.  He’s not interested in the enlightenment project. He’s interested in power and he has no plan. Trump is a nihilist sociopath.  He’s artless.

When I was in college at a tiny, now defunct liberal arts school, I attended an event held every summer called Bread and Puppet.  It started in the 60s as guerrilla street theatre in New York City, where young people made puppets and costumes out of garbage and found items, acting out local or national politics on the street.  Over time, the show got so big that it moved to Glover, VT where the production has several barn-sized workshops and a big amphitheater.

birdcatcher-Massimo2-741x1024

 

The main event began with what looked like an old timey carnival taking the big outdoor stage, complete with clowns, stilt walkers, and an old school bus painted in rainbows.  The actors put on a series of skits, becoming teachers, politicians, farmers, school kids, using mostly body language and simple props. The audience cheered and booed accordingly as if they already knew what to do.  At one point, a clown who had been present since the beginning stepped forward and with a dramatic gesture, tore off his mask.  You guessed: Senator Bernie Sanders. The audience went mad.  That was 1998.

Art is as various and sundry as anything else humans do, but no matter the shape of the expression, creating comes from an essential urge toward truth, beauty and love.  Even the most savage sentiment expressed creatively opens up a conversational space for catharsis. I make the argument that art on some level is activism.

When asked about his religion, Bernie states that his idea of God is everyone together.  I don’t want to get too Vermont hippy here, but in his way, Bernie is an artist because he sees the systemic failures clearly and he calls it like he sees it . He demands that we question the vicious nature of our system and in doing so, he envisions a radical alternative.  And in 1998, he was willing to put on a costume and express that idealism.

Trump is a buyer, a seller, a bored patron in the box seat.  He doesn’t speak the language of idealism.

 

I watched a bit of Democratic National Convention, and when Bernie spoke, exhausted, hoarse, finally painting HRC as the only alternative to Trump, the camera caught lots of young anguished faces on film.  Yes, the movement is bigger than Bernie, but it’s hard to see this as anything other than big money winning once again.  And when big money wins, real creative change loses.

The Psoas: Muscle of The Soul

great blog on the psoas muscle and why it is so important. Loved this.

body divine yoga

psoasI was delighted when I first came across Liz Koch’s amazing work because it confirmed much of what I’d been intuiting on my own. I had begun to open and close my yoga practise with hip opening poses with the specific intention of releasing tension in my psoas and hip flexors. I’d breathe and imagine tension flowing out of constricted muscles to be released as energy into the torso.

It worked, I’d feel my body soften yet somehow grow stronger.

Reading Liz Koch I instantly realized what I was doing – by learning to relax my psoas I was literally energizing my deepest core by reconnecting with the powerful energy of the earth. According to Koch, the psoas is far more than a core stabilizing muscle; it is an organ of perception composed of bio-intelligent tissue and “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire…

View original post 739 more words

More Fiction on the Way

Dear readers, writers, artists and fellow humans,
I’m working up a second collection of short stories, firing back up on my novel and submitting some other pros and poetry in the coming months. In the meantime, I invite you to read my first collection, the Brunt on Amazon. if you like dark quirk, ghost stories, satire andThe Brunt Cover animal revenge then these 6 stories are right up your figurative alley. Thanks as always for your support, your feedback and your own imaginative contributions to the world.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Brunt-Miranda-Culp-ebook/dp/B00MN2QRTG