My dad has been uploading photos from his mother’s albums and there is an interesting page of a religious festival in San Francisco de Yare in Venezuela. I vaguely remember him telling me stories about that or something similar and we made terrifying paper maché masks for some occasion (Maybe just for something fun to do).
A photo from my dad’s slides that I digitized some years ago:
And here are some of the pics with captions from my grandma’s album.
I believe we should have not only fabulous monuments to the Internet and other technical achievements but we should have amazing festivals. As I read out the description of the devils approaching the church, singing décimas and then kneeling in submission, Danny suggested a ceremonial Battle of the Bugs. Noisebridge could host a giant parade where we enact open source bugs (the demons) and the developers defeating them. I can picture different contingents acting out their particular dramas. I bet it would be easy to get companies as well as open source projects to participate.
I just love secular festivals and while I would not advocate stealing anything specific from this Venezuelan folkloric tradition it would be very cool to create some new festivals that are more like a giant participatory play, with dramas enacted, than a parade where we just walk around.
Suddenly imagining the Internet Drama play of the Content Moderators. Wow! It would be amazing!!!!
Danny sent me this music video from one of his late night expeditions through the internet and it gives me a little surge of goodness. The dancers and singers are coordinated with their faces and bodies in little boxes like a video conference call, especially well done as the song unfolds and the social motion moves from box to box.
This is so heartening. They took this piece of our reality and turned it to a perfect expression of uncertainty and determination.
Careful I’m an animal
Trap trap trap
First of the secondary class class class
You know I don’t trust you what’s the catch catch catch
Don’t you fucking touch me I will gnash gnash gash
Cause I am an old phenomenon
And I am an old phenomenon
It has been interesting too as I have been interviewing quite a lot and in early March the interviews went all virtual – phone and video rather than going to offices. I’ve been working remote for nearly 20 years so it seems normal to me, but some others weren’t used to it, nervously referring to “Brady Bunch” or “Hollywood Squares” (dating us GenXishly from our afternoons of reruns).
Friends came by on their daily dog walk today, to shout up to me on the porch from below on the sidewalk. I passed them a newly potted succulent in a bag and they gave me a Quarantini cocktail in a mason jar. This is how our social life will be for quite some time. Tonight is another friend’s birthday party via some video conferencing tool. People have planned small performances. I might dress up.
For the last few weeks I dove fiercely into Animal Crossing, and its Discord channels and reddit posts, and also have kept up my Stardew game for kids. The core is now a fairly solid group with a couple of early teens and then my son joining sometimes from virtual-college-campus of his room in Santa Cruz. Others played for a while and then went off and formed their own small groups. I can see them playing together from the Steam notifications of their games and when they earn badges. Hosting these small spaces has been comforting and good for me and I hope for them too. I’m also sending Pokegifts (when I can replenish them) to some younger kids who are newly allowed more “screen time” by their desperate parents!
I did a small amount of work with some local medical PPE maker groups. It’s amazing to see that happen, like any disaster response, small groups spring up fast. As they combine their missions & processes evolve. You can kind of see (from where I’m sitting) some people going a non-profit forming route, some trying to form business connections, either way making something more like sustainable institutions, or finding the existing ones and figuring out how to support them in a way they can handle. The usual institutional or business paths aren’t working at all, so medical staff are just going directly to hackerspace and maker folks, doing fast rounds of prototyping, testing, feedback, & then rapidly scaling up production.
Seeing some of the professional logistics people jump into this was mind blowing (I’m thinking of the guy who works in some kind of concrete/cement industry and his mojo in finding the right kinds of plastic and foam.) That’s still happening and will keep happening for months. I thought immediately of Kevin Carson’s book, The Homebrew Industrial Revolution as small local manufacturing sprang up overnight. I am on 4 slack channels and have so many spreadsheets, docs, wikis, etc. At this point just reading them and speaking up if I see someone asking a question that I know the answer to.
The couple of actual moments I got someone supplies or facilitated a connection were amazing.
The city feels tense. When I go out I’m feeling so aware of the moment between the Before Time and what might come, and trying as always to savor whatever is good and functional about it. The tense feeling, like, you can feel people’s increasing desperation and worry, The people who are out are either a bit freaked like me trying to do their thing, or are a hot mess even more than they may have been before, with less dilution by other people.
I got a mask and a bandana to Bob who lives on the street a few blocks away but the other guy (Junior) was nowhere to be found. (He will lose a mask quickly or forget about it anyway unfortunately.) I wanted to get them masks because the city has just declared them mandatory, and it seems worrisome what will happen to them if they don’t comply.
Everyone seems to be going just a little off the rails.
I’m worried about everyone.
Feeling a bit uncreative, and dull, and stressed, but I hope that will pass, I think the stress of unemployment was really piling onto the stress of enormous pandemic and world economic collapse. Thank fucking god for Animal Crossing and my practice from various past illnesses and endurance/resilience, as I just hunkered down to get through some time till I figure out how to Actually Cope.
We are baking and like everyone else in this town I have a pet sourdough starter. Its name is Bubbles.
Our actual pet, Dashboard the cat, is extremely comforting.
Carlo Pallavicino’s MESSALINA plot:
A sex farce with teeth. Clever, lecherous Messalina turns the tables several times on the gullible Emperor Claudius, who is hardly innocent himself. Meanwhile two other couples suffer their own romantic vicissitudes. Furtive assignations, frustrated trysts, kidnappings, betrayals, sudden recognitions, a heroine and a hero both in drag, and a plot as convoluted as only 17th-century Venetian opera can put together, all lead to a reconciliation that will last only as long as Messalina can keep pulling the wool over Claudius’ eyes.
From musicologist Wendy Heller book: Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice:
“This chapter deals with Roman empress, Messalina, the adulterous wife of the emperor Claudius, who in Messalina brought to the luxurious stage of the Teatro San Grisostomo an unmatched reputation for decadence and sexual excess […] Messalina provokes the most basic sort of fear — that a woman will deprive a man of his place not only in bed but also in his public role in society. Messalina relinquishes her role in the opera, avoiding the bloody death of her historical model. She serves to reinforce an essential lesson about the dangers of female sexuality.”
This is so my favorite kind of thing!! Bring it on!!! If it has to be delayed another year, I’ll keep donating and waiting!
From the song (remember that, at the top of this post?) by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down,
Sip on joy the purest drink
Move to make
Thought to think
They can feel us from afar
Avenues and boulevards
I’ve been so politely at the bottom
Pull it tight boot strap
Strap it on and top em
I’ve been so politely at the bottom
Pull it tight boot strap
Strap it on and top em
That dull feeling, converted to fierceness, because fuck it,
Day 3 of DWeb Camp. Judy and I sang our translation of the Free Software Song into Toki Pona (only got through the first verse though…)
o kama poka mi mute o pana
e sitelen pali pi ilo sona
sina mute li ken pali e ale,
jan pi pakala pona o
Then I showed off me and Danny’s Hackernationale and a bunch of us sang it in the geodesic dome! (I need to re-do the syllables which aren’t always correctly under their notes, there)
Then, somehow, we ended up on the floor of the dome collectively writing a filk version of Sweet Caroline, which we then performed in the EFF Lounge at midnight! Here are the lyrics!
(lyrics by Liz, Leez, and Judy)
Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing
But then I know it’s growing strong
Then came Creative Commons,
Who’d have believed you’d come along
Files, touching files
Reusing them, remixing me, remixing you
License never felt so good
I’d be inclined
To share everything I could
but now I
look at the net and it don’t seem so lonely
we filled it up with all of us
when i create,
the code flows out my fingers
We make so much when I remix you
nodes touching nodes….
touching nodes, touching nodes, touching nodes
license never felt so good!
Earlier in the day I got to play with a Waffletone, which is kinda like a Monome but with mechanical keyboard keys! The github repo is a beautiful and elegant marvel of great documentation!
I asked casually the other day if anyone else said or still says, when giving directions, “gaily forward” instead of (or to correct) saying “go straight”. We said this a lot in the 80s and 90s as part of queer culture, and then I haven’t heard it all that much – though I still say it. To my surprise over 100 people answered and said they also did it, still do it, heard it, or are teaching their kids to say it! Amusing! Others seemed to agree the 80s (even the early 80s) was when they started saying it, and there were many more women than men, but that may be an side effect of my age and the concentration of my friend groups. I wondered if it was something which just spread naturally (“like herpes”, Sean said helpfully) or if it had some canonical source – From the early 80s, that would hardly be a tv show, but possibly a movie or a book. I mean even then what fucking book would it be – I can’t see Beebo Brinker joshing about gaily forward in her Packard on a cross country trip, or whatever, can you???? Or some wounded gay poilu giving Stephen Gordon jolly instructions in a World War I ambulance? I THINK NOT. In this FB thread, Vicki suggested it may be from a song by Judy Fjell, who she called into the thread. I got very excited & started listening to Judy’s songs (women’s music, country style, from the early 80s onward).
Just checked back on this and Judy answered – and added she thought it might be something mentioned in a song by Judy Small, though not necessarily as an origin, but documenting something that was commonly said.
OK, that amps up the amazingness even more because a) Judy Small is Australian and i didn’t realize before this she toured all over the US and Canada in the 80s b) She is also the author of one of my favorite amazing songs, The I.P.D., which I first heard on a mix tape Johanna Lee made me in like, 1991 or 92 (lots of womyn’s music sarcastically interspersed with riot grrrl fare and the tribe 8 song that satirically quotes alix dobkin ) and then when the tape broke I went on a quest to find it again every few years FINALLY succeeding (it was not anywhere i could find until quite recently!)
Maybe I’m overly obsessed with this song but I do get particular music running through my head and I need to hear it again – and this one, I could hear perfectly over two decades without having it anywhere outside of my own brain. If that’s happened to you then you know the pleasure of finally hearing it with your ears again!
Adding to my happiness – she also has a Wikipedia page. Also – unexpectedly, her day job is being a judge.
The song that touches on our original topic, “Turn Right, Go Straight” never says “gaily forward” but does have a biting commentary on going straight.
Anyway – no conclusion to make here other than, I am adding this to the things that are part of queer culture, like the (international and cross-linguistic) gay “lisp” which is really a sort of intonation pattern more than an actual lisp.
And Making Kin with the Machines, which I enjoyed so much I started laying it out as a tiny zine (it would make such a nice small book for a pocket and it is creative commons licensed.) We’ll see if I actually do it or not… maybe… if i get the layout to my satisfaction.
In the morning I did some house cleaning and then worked at looking at my expenses and money to think about how to save more and all that kind of thing. Then off to Rockridge BART which I will review later. The ride over was enlivened by some kids with their aunt, going to Antioch which was going to be a long ride. I showed them Pokemon on my phone and then let them play it (they did trainer battles while I provided a running commentary) And they were just adorable – the younger one, maybe 5, was very into trains so we had discussions about which station we were at, excitement at coming out of tunnels, etc. and he liked he BART stickers (old boi, new boi) on my chair. Their aunt was nice and also hilariously trying to get them to bet her money they weren’t going to stand up for the entire hour and a half long ride. “How much do you want to bet?” “A thousand dollars” “Show me…. show me that thousand.” “A hundred dollars” “OK, show me that hundred” “5 dollars” “You’re gonna show me the five, right? Lay it down” Super charming kids.
I wandered around Rockridge & then over to my sister’s house, ate more cake, went through some piles of stuff for donating and had a fish taco & then back to the city for a party at Queerious Labs which is a new hackerspace in SOMA. Had nice conversations with people about hacking yeast to make it produce insulin, inserting genes into plants to make them glow and how you can special order send stuff off to labs to have them insert stuff with CRISPR (??!), some people having a meeting about their Julia project which uh, something LISPy that um something with AI or I couldn’t really hear and it was over my head anyway, but neat and I think it was tentatively called “Fifth”; lee’s monome and accompanying norns gadget which was extremely beautiful, and which you can program with supercollider; another sound and light project which I don’t remember the details of; icelandic sagas (!!!!!! ) me and claire being very excited to find anyone who would talk about sagas at all !!! (That giant red book with the eagle thing on the cover with all the norwegian ones! Grettirs saga! Njal’s! I enthused about Freydis and her beating her breast with a sword in battle while she was like 9 months pregnant. We then all talked about culture and dreams and how queer migration is with san francisco and the bay area in general and the sort of tech dreams people pursue or just wanting to be in a center of culture and art and creation and how to be a good home for that.(kill rock stars; no gods no masters)
On my way out of 24th St. BART going home at midnight, I was rushing to go across 24th and so were 3 other people, a young woman and 2 guys with her and they were saying “we won’t make it and she was saying “we’re gonna make it!” As I whooshed past them I said “We’re totally gonna make it” and we did. She then (a bit drunk or high, joyous, anyway) was like “SEE! SHE KNEW! SHE BELIEVED ME” and the guys were like, . . . wut ? She then veered off laughing like she was going to cross the street with me where I was about to cross mission while they were continuing down the sidewalk. “We don’t have time for this!” they told her. “I’m just saying there’s a GENDER THING” she yelled, giggling. “RIGHT!?” (turning to me again). I started laughing. Dudes faces were so confused. This girl is sick of their bullshit! hahaha! I was like, “Don’t worry, you’ll teach them how!” She high fived me as we crossed the street. “Well yes I will but i’t going to TAKE A WHILE” she yelled into the night to the dudes who were confusedly following us across Mission. “What… are you insulting us? What is this? What??” said the guy who was probably her boyfriend. “HAHAAH!” she said. “HHAHAHAAHAHAAH” i cackled uproariously, veering off to get into position for the approaching 49 bus. Argumentative whinging from both young men. “CACKLING WITCHES IN THE NIGHT, YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE!” I hollered cheerfully, still doubled over in wild laughter. “WEIRD LITTLE PURPLE HAIRED CYBORG LADIES! IT’S WHAT THIS CITY IS ABOUT!” “THAT’S RIGHT!” yelled my drunk friend in our amazing consciousness raising session!!! (another high five) Giggling bystander getting on the same bus as me thru the back door: “Oh my god. Thank you for making this city fun.”
I can rest easy tonight knowing I have nobly done my part.
Considering some decorations for the side panels of my Model CI. It strikes me that a Dalek arm weapon would fit perfectly on the side panel. Then the other side could have round designs to fit the theme. But I would like it to be the super elaborate gunstick from the latest episode, Resolution.
Took a bus and BART to my sister’s in Oakland last night, then went to a party, then BART home before midnight. Once again I was struck by how easy it was for me, when it was clear it would be 20 minutes before the next late-night bus, to just wheel on home from BART without even noticing the ride, because my new powerchair is so awesome and comfy. Though, an extra mile or two per hour of speed would be so perfect for times like that.
Then this morning I did the journey again. I saw the guy who lives on the street a couple of blocks from my house and we had a chat and then he followed me to the bus, getting on through the back door to flip the seat up for me very sweetly. An older lady on the bus got off at the same stop and told me how she was once stuck in the 24th St. elevator for 5 hours and now is too afraid to use the elevator.
At the 24th St. station (and I think the 16th too) I always marvel at the strangely inconvenient path for (wheeled) elevator users. The elevator lets you off a few steps from a ticket entry point, the midpoint of the concourse. But the only wide ticket entry point suitable for wheelchairs is at the very far end of the station. Then, you have to go all the way to the extreme other end of the concourse to the 2nd elevator to get to the train platform. If they would put a wider entrance at one of the entry points in the middle of the station it would cut 5 minutes out of my navigation of that station. No one cares and I don’t really care since I am motorized but if I were in a manual chair, it would matter since it is a long extra distance to push yourself! Still, seeing it be so non-optimal bugs me every time I’m in there!
On BART I noticed an ad for some bed sheets that promised the sheets are good for more than just sleeping. The picture in the ad showed three people’s feet, with socks on, friskily entwined as if they were having a fabulous, but dorky (naked except for their socks) threesome. Why you would want to be under a sheet in that situation is beyond me but maybe it helps them forget they’re wearing their socks during their strange orgy apparently happening on an ugly beige 70s shag rug. The socks were somewhat masculine coded for one pair, more polka-hearts femmy and with smaller feet in another, and then the 3rd pair of socks seemed more ambiguously gendered (yellow, medium size, non-hairy) so I guess that is a win for bisexual threesomes everywhere, even on a giant ad on the BART. (P.S. to the ad author: no one says “throuple” in real life.)
A man sitting under the amazing ad for kink-positive sheets reacted with miming exaggerated shock when I moved my right leg to wiggle my foot and ankle around as if he had just caught me in my extreme naughtiness of faking the need for a wheelchair. Dude! You caught me! I can move my legs! I’m totally not paralyzed! He stared at me, grinned, stuck out his leg, and waggled his foot around while raising his eyebrows. It being 9am after New Years Eve I didn’t really have the energy to engage so I played Threes on my phone and didn’t look up any more till he got off the train at Oakland West.
I varied my trip it a little by going to 19th Street Oakland and taking an AC Transit bus. My sister was saying that downtown would not be “exciting” on New Year’s Day, but it was just because it was so empty, fresh, and sparkly, and also because I am not often there and I like to explore all the pathways to get to a place at my leisure when there’s no time pressure, which comes in handy sometimes in the future when I will appreciate knowing exactly where the elevator and bus are at 19th St.
Downtown Oakland looked so pretty, clean from the rain, everything looking green as well, art deco buildings all shining in the morning light. I was at the bus stop near the Oscar Grant mural, across from a building with coppery green panels, amazing windows with sort of pointy arrow motif, and these black tiled and scuplted columns at either end. It was just gorgeous! I could hug that whole building!
I just had a look to see if I could find info about it online. LocalWiki to the rescue! It is the Bowles Building at 1715 Broadway. As always when I come across LocalWiki I think of when I just randomly met one of its creators, Philip Neustrom, in Ritual Roasters in like 2005. I was sitting across from him on some couches near the window, noticed his excellent laptop stickers & asked what localwiki was. From our conversation I ended up inviting him and Arlen to speak at Wiki Wednesday and I think later on in some similar wiki-ish context I met Britta Gustafson and Marina Kusko who both love wikis and hackerspaces and are awesome.
At my sister’s I kibbitzed on a game of Settlers of Cataan, ate steak and some gingerbread with apple butter, showed some details of nethack to my nephew, and demoed Inform7 for my sister who immediately started messing with it. It was fun to see them both jump in. When I left, my nephew was gleefully falling through trapdoors in the Gnomish Mines and I’m about to play some more nethack with him today. At the party at Susie’s house nearby I ran into a lot of people I knew. Polythene Pam was playing when I arrived & people were singing along to a song that was incredibly familiar but that I don’t know the words to. I had one of those pre-crone moments where you see someone dressed in YOUR EXACT OUTFIT FROM 25 YEARS AGO and freak out a little in a happy way because they are SO ADORABLE and ‘my’ cultural aesthetic has not died. Seriously this girl was in my same outfit and even in my haircut and middle-of-the-nose-ring and it made me want to cry and also want to hug her but that would have been weird. Sat with Katherine and Nabil, we petted Nabil’s reversible sequin pants (!!!!) talked with Emily a bit about how strange chronic pain or health issues can be, I met some people who were super nice, then I ended up talking with Asheesh in the kitchen, Yoz showed up, Gina showed up just as I was leaving early for my middle of the night journey home.
On BART a guy started yelling a lot but the woman with him (wife? sister?) was composed and philosophical. She rolled her eyes a little once in a while or patted his knee calmingly and acceptingly. I moved up to be right across from him because I thought he was not dangerous, just agitated, and I figured I could apply my de-escalating presence usefully (or deflect his attention from the teenagers he was yelling at) He had a few themes and varied them from Jesus, the bible, cops who kill people and their families which is tragic, homosexuals (could not tell if positive or negative) and how he loves us all (even if he sounds angry) and wants the best for us. I listened and actually so did a drunk guy nearby though he was more laughing at the yelling man, but he kindly called him brother and agreed with him I think doing the same de-escalation technique as I was. The woman next to him in an elegant headwrap carrying a cane then sort of cajoled him off the train. Mostly I felt worried about him and not the people around him (you could easily see someone taking him the wrong way and calling cops on him) So I wish them luck and hope they got home safe.
Home with quite a lot of motoring around, at 30% battery, wishing for just a bit more hefty of a powerchair battery or even an entire spare battery as insurance. Instead I am going to get an extra charger cord and carry it on the chair at all times in a little pouch. Though I don’t usually name cars and wheelchairs or my own body parts, I have decided to call the chair ‘Mr. Beep’ (borrowed from Ahmet the Blind Captain‘s kayak navigational system, because it’s just such a great name and makes me happy to say it).
I had a fabulous time at the George Clinton/ Parliament Funkadelic show last night! The club had a wheelchair seating area right up at the front which made it easier for me to be there (and I could also get to the bathroom, which I really appreciated). FABULOUS show, as you would expect!
It was great hearing classics, where everyone would get very excited screaming Shit, Goddamn, get off your ass and jam, or One nation under a groove, but also was in the perfect frame of mind for Maggotbrain (a religious experience for your ears) and then lots of stuff from their most recent album. It is just great to see how they all jam together so well & in so many different styles highlighting the skills of different people. I wish I knew all their names but I don’t… the amazing singer and dancer who kept changing outfits (it was the pink fuzzy pajamas with silver stars, and a hood, and silver platform shoes that killed me finally, and then she took off the PJs and was dancing in striped knee high socks and sexy underwear.)
The incredible saxophone solos (he also did a scat performance that got more and more complicated and went on forever till he just sort of BECAME an instrument ! Trumpet player also great! At least two guitarists of truly amazing caliber, the shorter guy who was an absolute badass, and the tall guy with the long braids wearing a long silver coat which he finally removed to show his fishnets and thong and tshirt that said “God’s Weapon”. Both were fucking great! And, George Clinton himself who I was happy to see had the good sense to sit down now and then. The young (?) guy in the hat who was an excellent rapper! So many talented musicians. And when they would really go off it wasn’t for like 20 seconds, they weren’t fucking around, they were playing giant long extended riffs for like 10 minutes. Serious jazz! Also some extremely metal moments! Also psychedelic geologic eras laid down for future generations and time travelers!
Crowd fairly nice! We ran into Brian Zisk and I remember being high as hell while trying to explain to him (why? just enthusiasm i guess) that Venezuelan joropo is the best kind of music (because, counterpoint, great structure, complex & awesome) & he should give it a listen. He was telling me about the sort of cultural shift of deadheads to follow George Clinton & the P-funk collective in general, which maybe he had something to do with. That was very interesting and I’m still thinking about that.
A few weeks ago Milo and I went to the San Francisco International Hip Hop Dancefest at the Palace of Fine Arts. It’s always an amazing show! It’s one of San Francisco’s great treasures, and this is year 20 of the annual festival run by Micaya. The festival itself conveys how deep the Bay Area community runs and fosters these strong ties across countries to other dancers. Really a beautiful community.
Highlights, Loyalty Dance Team from Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s performance of This Is Wakanda!!! So dynamic! So creative! The skill! They express such joy! Last year I loved their 101 Dalmations dance so much I became a staunch fan! Maybe that sounds weird, but it was a beautiful narrative transformation and celebration of pop culture. They are just superstars.
I also really loved Duwane Taylor (from London) in his piece It’s Time to Speak. It was incredibly moving. I think the first half, or certainly a long intro, of it was Duwane dancing but without speaking, enacting some of the history of black folks (I think, particularly in the United States, the Civil Rights Movement). He stood (silently) at a podium and danced out Martin Luther King’s speeches and assassination. He danced Malcolm X. He was dance-miming out a more and more impassioned protest at this podium that went faster and faster. Krump style dance with explosive, convulsive movement, he is really a genius! At some point the dance seemed to lead into present day struggles against police violence and police murder of black people. I would even say of disabled black people, which transcends the situation in the U.S. I wish for a video of this particular performance online because it was different than the earlier version I was able to find. Then, at some point Duwane did begin to speak, and rap. The civil rights movement improved things but here we still are in a world with such violent injustice. Speaking out and activism are just what we have to keep on doing.
Here is what looks like an older version of the piece:
Amenti Movement was also absolutely mindblowing. Emotional, intimate, I would even say it felt somehow they were dancing ways that men heal each other from a culture of toxic masculinity, and so many other damages, to one of tenderness and support, painful as that can be. Not sure if that was part of their intent, but it’s what I was seeing from their performance.
This would be incomplete without mentioning the cool as hell Hip Hop Nutcracker performance by The Tribe! Wow!!!! They took it to the next level. And you can still see this as it’s coming up December 16th in Redwood City at the Fox Theater!