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Not Our Own

I’m standing between two horizons, on top of a huge ball; a conglomeration of bones, history, plants, water, boats, and houses. There are whales swimming right now. There are peacocks and little creatures in your eyes, and cats, and leaves, and flowers. There are fires that burn millions of acres and we let them burn; guns, so many guns and bombs that could destroy everything I just said and will say. There are hurricanes in the sky and earthquakes that happen under the sea; creating waves that rise as high as the buildings we built to line its shores. There is enough liquor to go around. There are jobs. I drove fifteen miles today to a job; it took me an hour. It often takes longer because there are too many people and we are all seemingly going to the exact same place; yet I arrive alone and wonder where they went. I am late, thirty minutes late, to a job. I take little nails, place them between my fingers and pound them through tin and into wood, because this is someone’s art, and I make it, and people will buy it. I’m there hammering nails into tin because I need money, so I can get some food to eat; not the most expensive food, it takes more than hammering tin to buy that food; it takes more than hammering tin to buy art that is simply hammered tin, made by someone who just wants some food. I saw a man sitting on the side of the road earlier, while I was sitting behind a car in front of...

Epitaph for Family: Text for Johanna Breiding’s essay film, Andrea, at Human Resources

Imagine there is a death. But there is no end. In 2007, my mother died: an unusual death, an untimely death, a freak accident. She choked on a piece of meat. The loss of my mother shifted me, pushed me off center, askew to a world faithfully oriented around the family; a purity of love embodied in the identity of a mother and mine was gone, forever. Death signifies an end. But the death of a loved one lives forever in a perpetual state of undead: we are desperate to keep them alive in memories, in hope, in sadness, in joy, in longing, in despair, in loneliness. In 1997, there was another death: the death of an assumed identity, a prescribed identity, a dominant identity that began to subjugate me. I felt the determination of identity forcing its way down my throat and I refused to swallow. It lodged itself in my throat and began to suffocate me, constrict my voice, asphyxiate my life, so I killed it and informed my family without any sorrow. This death also shifted me, pushed me off center, askew to a world faithfully oriented around the family; a purity of love determined and embodied in the identity of a heteronormative family disrupted, forever. The ghostly residue of the dead, it lingers. The death of a mother, the death of an identity, the death of a family; they all linger, waiting. Do they linger in wait for us to visit them again in moments of longing, to resurrect in the inebriation of memory, to suspend in a perpetual state of undead; a unifying space...

These Carnations Defy Language: Alexandra Grant and Steve Roden

Only cheesy romance-novel vocabulary could possibly describe them. They were two exquisite specimens running in-place together, their perfectly chiseled bodies glistening in the 90-degree heat, curly locks bouncing sensually just above their heavenly faces. They were replicas of one another, not only in their physique, glimmer and (very little) wardrobe selection; but also in the way they moved—synchronized to perfection even as they waved to passersby with a left-handed flutter of the pinky-ring-middle-and-pointer. They practically danced in the middle of a four-way intersection, their location choice nowhere short of an accident. All lanes stopped; though clearly one of us had a green light. Red cheeks reflecting off windshields, slowly we’d have to pull ourselves away, but it was a standoff, and no one was quick to draw. Funny, I have met bodybuilder identical twins before. “Excuse me…” It was the summer I worked at a hostel in Venice Beach. “Excuse me!” They came here from Spain solely to work out at Muscle Beach; I remember cleaning their room and it smelling like meat… “Excusery, yuwu cawnt take pictuwres of the art.” I turned, “Excuse me?” “You can’t take pictures of the art,” the young woman repeated, shouting toward me. Realizing my daydream of the boys had taken me from the room, I responded, “Oh sorry, would you like me to erase this one?” “No, no,” she said, “Just don’t take anymore. You’re not allowed to take pictures of the art in here.” “But it’s my friend’s, I thought it was OK.” “What?” I explained once again, “It is my friend’s painting—I thought it would be OK if I took a picture of my friend’s painting.” “No,” she jolted, “Under no circumstances is it...

Part 2- A Lateral Wind

Étude means ‘study’ in French.  Merriam-Webster tells me that the word refers to 1. a piece of music for the practice of a point of technique, and 2. a composition built on technical motive but played for its artistic value.  My approach to the Piano Spheres event, Amour D’Etudes, featuring the hugely talented pianist Steven Vanhauwaert, was quite different than the last.  I guzzled a beer at the bar before grabbing a program on my way into the theater, and sat down with a conspicuous case of the burps in the front row, where I was on the receiving end of the open Yamaha.  The piano was perpendicular to the audience this time, placing the player in true profile.  The stage felt less atmospheric; the lighting was simple and elegant, just four bare, elongated bulbs hung on wires above the piano, giving off soft, tame light that did not change throughout the performance.  Two directional mics with cables loosely draped and pooled at their bases were aimed inside the open piano body.  Those cables looked oddly sad to me.  Casual and indifferent, like a super long and lean person slumped over the back of a low chair, arms dangling carelessly.  My own mood was somewhat dangling that evening, as well. Vanhauwaert emerged from the wings with a practiced gait and sat down on the bench ceremoniously after bowing once, his hand on the front corner of the piano.  I took few notes and followed the program closely, which was wise since Vanhauwaert played études by fifteen different composers.  Each was over in a flash.  I jotted short descriptions here...