Friday, March 6, 2015

Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer broke my heart. Perhaps it isn't fair to call her out, she is just a person. But to many she was an idea. Our very own underground punk Maxwell Demon, a pixie rock myth who so encapsulated everything I wanted to become, a gritty, unapologetic, indie artist.  She has obtained the ultimate platform to jettison someone from relative obscurity to being exposed to millions of potential fans. She can open worlds for those who only skim popular culture, but are hungry for something deeper, they just don't know where to look.

Amanda has fallen a bit flat in that regard. I don't want to sound mean, or spiteful, it's not really about that. She has a real opportunity to do good and it's getting away from her.   I debated writing about this, not because I fear scorn of angry internet mobs, but because I am a firm believer that in an artist-fan relationship nobody owes anyone anything. Art exists for it's own sake. That said, I believe this is an issue that transcends individuals and I broke the number one rule, and let a person become an idea in my mind. She had impossible shoes to fill so this piece is kind of unfair to her, but this is more about the idea of Amanda Palmer than Amanda herself.

Her rise represented the indie dream,  do what you want and magically it will come. It really isn't magic though, it takes a community. A sea of dreamers, free spirits and outcasts who make up this living, breathing world bubbling just under the skin of popular culture. The art is raw, organic and covered in the blood, sweat and tears of the artist. It takes so much sharing to be an indie creator, time, supplies, pocket change, gas, couch space. You need to accept the things you need to make the art too. We aren't bean counters, nobody has the score one sandwich for a song, a set of markers for the ride...

I love the phrase "We are a community, not a competition", it's true. Most of the people I've known in the last ten years work hard in lifting each other up. Filmmakers, actresses, singers, artists, writers...we collaborate and share because if one of us makes it, the portal has been open for a hand to reach out and bring the others out too. When one of us makes it, we all do.

Surviving is the hardest part about living in this wonderful community that survives on sandwich shares and couch hopping. Sally Mae and the electric company don't accept watercolors as payment. I have the benefit of having a wonderful husband who supports me and a full time day job that is supportive of my work, so I try to pay my artists as much as I can. Amanda has made a career off of bringing people together to make her art, which is wonderful and an amazing feat when you are broke. She isn't broke though, and she has hoards of adoring fans who want to support her and spend lots of resources to produce. She deserves it, she has worked hard and is a wonderful artist, but it puts her in a slightly different spot doesn't it? You're  not appart of the indie economy, even if you are playing the part sleeping on couches. It isn't the same when you can put the whole band up in a four star hotel but choose not to. I've seen this with other 'indie artists' who use that as an excuse to not pay when they can. It goes against the idea of this community.

I haven't broke through yet, so I don't know if you just get lost on the other side. I don't expect artists to give away what they have earned, but when one gets the opportunity to pay back or pay forward to give opportunities to those who have helped them get to where they are, they should take it. It's hard to say because there is no counting debts, there's no single number or act. That's what it means to be a community.

In short, the idea of Amanada Palmer broke my heart because she left the community. I can't really be angry with her, she's just part of this difficult world,  but I can't help but feel that we all lost something in this in a situation where we all should have gained.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Still can't decide if I miss the hell out of you...or just the idea of you

Seeds Planted in November
L. Anna Lenz

The cold late autumn air froze illegitimate tears.
Your name burned a hole in an empty stomach.
A holy prayer was unable to pass over this sinner’s lips,
so I said nothing as everyone said their goodbyes.
Then your face turned to stone and I could not recognize you in the crowd.

A candle still burns in the basement, I thought you should know
The frost killed the seeds we planted in November.
We were just burying the dead that night.
In the spring nothing grew,
But the mud soaked tendrils of stubborn roots that fought against the frozen ground
Would mock me come March.

Because we were only pretending.
We were just burying the dead that night,
Knowing in the Spring nothing would grow.
And the words whispered too low to hear could be seen in the cold, late autumn air
As we planted our seeds in November.

The low hanging sun set fire to the sky
And the world was dying around us
but we were only pretending
To breathe life into lifeless wishes
Whispering words too low to hear, but that could be seen in the cold, late autumn air.
We were just burying the dead that night.

Forgive me, but since you’ve turned to stone
I can’t recognize your face among the crowd.
And they say God is watching this place
I fear the prayers in my heart will just turn into a curse
As they pass over this sinner’s lips.
But I am only pretending
The frost will kill these seeds that I plant each November.
I am just burying the dead tonight.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can We Put Down the Pitchforks and Torches and We Can Discuss over Pie?: An Open Letter to the Community from The Monster Who Lives Next Door

  I always thought the mobs of frightfully dull, repressed and clueless suburbanites were a myth only to be found in John Waters films. It’s 2014, my mother burned her bra in the 70’s, gay marriage is becoming legal in most states and the world watched as Miley twerked her little heart out all over Beetlejuice at the MVAs. Over the last few days I witnessed an internet mob of angry pitchfork wielding villagers attacking people who I know to be decent and wonderful members of the community.  It has been very traumatic to witness this first hand. My first reaction was defensive to pick up a pitchfork of my own and stand up to the bullies (and I came out swinging), but even after the truth is starting to come out.  I’m still so unsettled by this.

 Long Island is a unique place, just outside of New York we are picture of suburbia sitting on the outskirts of one of the world’s most exciting cities. People say they come to Long Island for the communities. Wonderful communities that are supportive, nurturing and increasingly diverse. Hurricane Sandy left our infrastructure crippled, but we got a glimpse of how strong our sense of community is. We have towns larger than some cities, yet we’ve managed to keep the best of both worlds, being the birthplace of vibrant music art and cultural scenes while retaining our trademark small town feel.

I haven’t decided if I either hate or love the labels people group themselves into or love them. In my short 28 years I’ve bounced around in various groups all the while eschewing the limitations brought on by identifying one’s self as part of a group or community. Countless times I’ve asked myself, “do I belong to all of them or will I never be fully part of any of them?” I’ve yet to have a definite answer and will let you know when I do.  I have been an artist, writer, adult video store clerk, Pagan, witch, Christian, atheist, agnostic, student, teacher, child, adult, successes story, failure, nerd, gamer, freak, hipster, liberal, republican, libertarian, rich, poor, bisexual, straight, secretary, nanny, actor and legal assistant to name a few labels that either myself or society has given me. I guess it’s the Aquarius side of me, but I am fascinated with being an active member of the community (whatever that community may be).  I’ve lived here my whole life and not going to say I always fit in, but there was always a variety of warm, open communities to be found here and the people I have encountered over the years have been amazing.  There was no such thing as a misfit because out here everyone has a place to be themselves.  The only complaint I have is there seems to be this divide between groups of equally awesome groups of people. Animosity, fear and hatred of those who are different than they are. Some of it is bread from ignorance, sometimes it’s a defensive response to past experiences. One thing that runs through it is an underlying river of animosity that is fed by our fears and ignorance. Although that “us vs them” mentality may strengthen a community temporarily, it is overall detrimental because it drives a wedge between parts of a much larger whole.  

Coming from nerd/art/pagan community, I will say I had my prejudices when I first agreed to volunteer on a GOP Congressional campaign. My first day there I showed up in fishnets, blue hair and doc martens. In the spirit of honesty, I will say part of my 22 year old self was participating in conservative politics as a small act of defiance towards my roots.  Since then, I’ve served on leadership roles for The Suffolk County Young Republicans, volunteered and participated in local churches, charities and various community groups. While I may not have agreed with all of them on many issues, I am so glad I met such a great group of people who genuinely care about their community and the people in it. Recently I’ve found myself hanging around other artists, filmmakers and underground superstars. I have no idea where I’ll be tomorrow, maybe I’ll join a knitting circle or a mommy group when I finally get pregnant.

 In my social travels I have encounter closed minds, but because I decided to put my ego away for a moment and kept an open mind ignoring the labels put upon them by both society and themselves, I learned that underneath all of the bullshit, there was a squishy, vulnerable human who also enjoys fishing and playing Mad Libs, someone who also lost a baby, whose husband was also in the military  and who had recipes for the best damn bowl of chili I’ve ever tasted.  So when I went to a party, hosted by a woman Kay, one of the most beautiful (inside and out) people that I’ve ever met, that had a group of people from all walks of life coming together and having a great time with zero pretension or judgement, I felt so proud.  A few misinformed individuals and a media that is fueled by that divisive animosity river has turned it into something shameful and ugly.  Angry doesn’t begin to cover it.

The internet is a double edged sword of infinite information and the ability to respond immediately. We do not let ourselves digest the information we receive before we take the opportunity to blurt out our raw emotions in turn appealing to the emotions of others around us until the facts become irrelevant and the topic becomes a monster, the terrifying creature that lives in the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves. We do this because we’re human. Our decision making part of our brain is located where our emotion lives, not the intellect rational part. We have no natural predators and all of our big scary monsters, violence, poverty, loneliness, disease, hunger, pain are concepts that can’t be killed, destroyed or defeated with any of our weapons.  To fight them we must paint those ideas on physical things we can hurt, destroy and conquer to make us feel safe again. Krazy Kids does not represent the loss of innocence, personal fears of intimacy or the monsters that people put in the places in their mind that are not yet illuminated. It’s a building, a building with toys and games for people to play and let go the serious and heavy parts of the world that makes life hard. If Krazy Kids gets torn down, those fears will not disappear, they will be worse because it will prove to our psyche that there are monsters out there. The people who started these rumors do not represent the violence and rejection we have experienced in the past. They are people who saw a monster in the dark place of their mind and made rash judgments.

We need to stop letting our ignorance, prejudices and fears rule us. The easy extreme is to put away our labels, strip down all what makes us unique and then nobody has anything to fight over. I for one am proud of my labels, I wear them like badges on a scouting uniform. We just need to put our egos away when we wear ours. Bills Christian badge doesn't negate Frank’s existence as an atheist and Katie’s cat lovers badge is not a direct attack on Libby’s Dog lover’s button. Instead of focusing on what badges are different, focus on the similarities that connect us to each other until we are one large community of humans with not just tolerance, but respect and understanding. Long Island is a wonderful place because of it’s diversity not in spite of it. Allow yourself time to see past the monsters painted by a primitive part of our brain and see the fellow human being in front of you and the world becomes a noticeably friendlier place. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Of Snow days, God Complexes and Cuomo's State Wide LARP

     It’s the 2nd day of 2014 and there is already a state of Emergency for New York , yet not a flake has touched my brand new gloves with the little foxes on them. I can feel it though, the electricity in the air, the mix of awe and contempt we have for Mother Nature as the news sells us on this month’s hottest natural disaster. The stores are mobbed, milk and bread flies off the shelves. Being a childless twenty-something, I grab the staples of mac & cheese, Tostitos and decent beer from the local deli next to the beer distributor. It will be enough to tide me over until society rebuilds itself again on Friday afternoon. 

It’s become this sort of game, a large scale live action role playing game where we all pretend that the world is ending. Hold up in our houses for a bit, then go back on with our lives.  It’s all very entertaining, getting swept up in the fear and danger of a potential disaster without having to face actual peril.  I also get a half day of work, which I am always for, whatever the reason.  For a society that generally doesn’t stop for anything, I believe that these Stormageddon phenomena suits a very vital purpose.

Humans can control, manipulate and even create the world around us to our whim. Printing living tissue is an actual thing now! We’ve all but conquered God and made Mother Nature our bitch. Unfortunately a large part of being human is the realization of how small we are in comparison.  There was a time our ancestors gazing up at the stars, worshiping the forces that dictated their futures in hopes of currying favor and surviving another day.  Technology has reduced  most of life’s larger problems to the point where we end up being overcome with tiny details, small tasks, and petty problems. It’s easy to see how focusing on such small things makes us feel incredibly big and according to human nature BIG = IMPORTANT. 

Everyone is so important today. Everything they do is crucial to society that the world  would collapse if whatever they did wasn’t done.  Yes it makes us feel important, but damn is it exhausting. The world runs like clockwork, never stopping, always going. We are open 24 hours on Thanksgiving. The Holidays were an orgy of spending, eating and chaos. We can work in the winter, having conquered the darkness and the freezing temperatures. What used to be a time when we all would just stop and sit, drink and fuck for lack of anything better to do, is just another day.  

I believe everyone is so focused on the next apocalypse to shatter the world around them, not for love of disaster or destruction, but because we are desperately searching for the pause button.  Nothing else seems to get us to stop in reverence to the world we are living in.  It’s a deeply spiritual need that people are so keen on denying themselves.

I’m sitting home, on a Thursday at 3:00PM because the roads were shut down. The state decided that nobody was important enough to halt emergency and road clearing vehicles by getting stuck in the snow.  I will snuggle with my husband, make hot chocolate and catch up on my reading. I will not worry about the clients I need to call, or the laundry that is sitting in the hamper.  I will be incredibly unimportant and small as I remember that there is a universe that has always existed and will forever exist whether I do or not.  For a few short hours I will be connected with my ancestors who lived in awe of Mother Nature, not just annoyed by her inconveniences. 

Secretly, society needs to be reminded how much bigger the universe is than just mounds of bones and goo meandering around our little rock nestled in the middle of space. We need to ponder those moments and celebrate them.  Don’t let Mother Nature be a small annoyance, pay her respect for she has been here longer than you and will be here long after you.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'm Barreling Down the Road That Takes Me From Princess to Evil Queen

…Because every young and beautiful princess always was and always will be a young and beautiful princess, and every wicked ugly step-mother always was and always will be a wicked and ugly step-mother.
 This story begins at “…and they lived happily ever after,” because time is cyclical and it all comes back full circle. Fair skin fades in time and once out of the forest, the world is a much larger place. The dreams and the adventures we were promised just fade to dust as time goes by and the opportunities dry up.  Glass slippers were never designed to go the distance.
What’s worse than the story of the princess post ever after,  is the story of the rest of us.  Out of hundreds of girls at the ball what if your foot didn’t fit? Chances are it didn’t. It doesn’t matter if Prince Charming is a man, a record contract or Harvard . All the hype, all those lies they told us about how “special” we were really took us for a loop. Remember your face when you saw all of the other girls in their princess dress and tiaras? The sea of thousands of ravenous young women desperately clawing at their chance to escape from mediocrity and you couldn’t even get within yards of the prize before the frenzy was over.
Remember searching for that last bit of hope? Maybe He’ll notice you and he’ll whisk you away. “He hasn’t even seen me, and I’m different, I’m better than these girls. Right? Right?”
When he passes you, the Prince I mean, he looks right into your eyes for a moment and you two share that whole moment, but it passes.  It’s over and he continues on his way barely acknowledging your existence.  
Amazing how fast the fall was from glass slippers to Lucite stilettos. How love went from a force able to move mountains to a to a bitch scrubbing out of satin sheets. 
Every year now, you trip the little nit-wits running down the streets in their princess dresses and their tiaras, eyes hungry and full of life. If only now you got an invitation to the ball, you’d put all these little bitches to shame.
I understand. Never being one for poise, grace and elegance myself, I have landed here among the dreams my alcoholic, self serving, cunt of a fairy godmother neglected to bippity bop into my reality.  I could talk all day about life’s disappointments, but that’s not what this story is about…
It starts with Regrets
            I found a crows foot today. Under my right eye, and I’m watching it like a hawk, resisting the urge to dowse it in L’Oreal anti-aging serum or smearing Botulism,  E-Coli or whatever type of food poisoning burns off wrinkles.  I don’t want to get old. I fear it.
 As a young girl my options were a plenty, explorer, princess, warrior, astronaut... Barbie paved the way.  Rapidly approaching the dreaded thirty, my options are drying up. I can choose from mom, career woman,  or that chick still in the bar past her prime. After that stage, I get to pick from fairy godmother , evil witch or evil queen.  The difference between the latter being purely cosmetic.

            There is this incredible journey however, on my way from potential  princess to evil queen.  One I am slowly learning to embrace. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

When in Doubt Consult the Oracles of the Interwebs

The last few months have been a bit crazy, splurged on a Tarot Reading with WitchysCrafts on Etsy. She was incredibly accurate and you can't beat the price for $7.

Past: The Star, reversed -- in the past you may have felt hopeless, or without direction. It was difficult for you to imagine a positive future, or to see where your path would lead you. Your goals may have seemed unattainable. You may have altered your life-plan because of this, but it also allowed you to be more realistic in your goals.

Present: Knight of Rods -- You are currently charging ahead in the realm of creative pursuits. Sagittarius lends you his passion, drive, and physical skill, as well as speed in reaching your goals and destination. You may have recently found a creative ally or supporter who keeps you inspired and encourages you -- treasure this support, but know that you can go above and beyond even without the encouragement of others.

Perspective: The World -- your perspective seems much more well-rounded now, as opposed to the star-gazing you may have been doing in the past. You know your strengths and limitations, and you work to challenge yourself to reach goals and push limits in a healthy way. You see yourself as part of a larger community, as well as a complete individual on your own. Keep in mind that the microcosm reflects the macro -- having a whole and healthy view of yourself will make you a healthy and helpful part of the community.

The Unexpected: 6 of Pentacles -- this card speaks quite frankly about finances. It seems that you will either have an expected patron, or perhaps an unprecedented surge in sales and popularity of your work. Keep the doors open for opportunity, network in the local crafting and writing circles, and don't hesitate to put your work out there!

Outside Forces: Strength reversed -- there are always forces or individuals that would seek to bring us down. My instinct on this card, though, is that this person/group/entity is not bringing you down on purpose. Rather, they are weak in their own right, and they seek your help and support. Remember that while helping others is important, keeping yourself and your family safe and healthy is first priority. Don't let a toxic or dependent family member or friend drag you down in this time of creative passion and achievements -- try to find a middle road of helping them out without becoming part of the situation.

Near Future: 4 of Rods -- Rods, again, shows up as a suit of fire, passion, art, creativity. This card specifically represents a celebration, achievement, or public acclaim! An amazing first step for the budding writer or artist, I suspect a public display of your work and accomplishments is in your future. Take time to fully enjoy this moment, let yourself be proud and happy, and then keep on truckin' to the next step!

Distant Future: 2 of Pentacles reversed -- A reversal doesn't always indicate a negative card. Again we see pentacles referring to financial issues. Upright, this card would represent having to 'juggle' one's finances. Its reversal feels to me like a sign that you won't have to do that any more. Financial security is coming your way in the distant future (exactly how far away it is hard to tell, but you are on the right path). Remember to keep your doors open and get involved in the community as much as you can, and create a system of support and encouragement with fellow artists. You're on the path to success, and while there may be some bumpy stretches, it seems that all will turn out for the better.