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#lbgc2019 🌻 june Come out on Pledge Day to let folks know about the NEW Chicago Public Schools service learning programs empowering students to do long-term service projects in your neighborhood. We’ll be all over the city petitioning, flyering, and supporting the next era of students gardening! tinyurl.com/pledgeday2019 🐝 #ISupportStudents #SupportStudentGardens #nomoneynoborders #urbanagriculture #freddiegibbs #mtvx
In December 2014, I published “small fortunes,” a novel chronicling my life. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway, and Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives a lot of it was about romance, but the point was making a snapshot of the arts scene in Chicago at that moment in time.
At the closing of the opening vignette, I see Chance the Rapper at one of Jamila’s release shows and it’s a warm handshake-hug. But he’s hanging out with Bee Kapri, who isn’t talking to or looking at me. I show me watching him embrace and embraced by the friend group I am being excluded by right in front of me, as we look up at Jam jam from the edge of the stage. I’m going to fill in missing information in this thread with the help of this record.
I tried to be very kind as well as firm in my thread, but at least two people were angry with me because they thought I was omitting important events as well as implying that their success in the past five years wouldn’t have been possible… if they had… I dunno. Followed through like I did? I intentionally was not implying that from a general, conspiratorial standpoint~ Young Chicago Authors nefariously kneecapping careers. But since I’m being pressed on specifics and omissions now I am going to say it:
If you were excluded by Bee Kapri for calling out Roger the way I was five years ago, you would not have the same opportunities for success you have now.
Five years ago, after the allegations against our mentor came out, Jamila + Fatimah invited me to a meeting at their place to talk about it.
I saw Adam at a poetry performance about sexual violence in the arts and we emoted about our world breaking apart on a leaf-covered street corner. I let him know about the meeting, he indicated to me that he already knew about it. I didn’t organize the gathering or see it as my responsibility to do so, I was just so so grateful to Jamila and Fati for putting it together and for everyone who was there. I trusted them with my life.
Myself, Dominique Chestand, Malcolm London, Kush Thompson, Jamila Woods, Fatimah Asghar, Adam Levin, and H. Melt met to discuss the sexual violence accusations against one of our mentors, Roger Bonair-Agard.
As soon as she heard about this meeting our friend, YCA employee, and influencer Bee Kapri ceased contact with us. During the discussion at the apartment we vented our fears and reactions and discussed what we could do, hoping to incorporate more community members as we expanded.
We discussed Bee and someone said she had just been posting about some new book award of Roger’s so they didn’t include her yet. We came up with the idea to bring one or two people each to the next meeting.
I just knew I was coming with Raych (and probably Molly tbh). I hoped Bee would come, but left it to the leaders (Jam+Fati) to navigate. We wanted to work through soliciting public support and response from YCA. But when Bee found out about the meeting she felt like she was being made out to be a rape apologist, and like we were basically conspiring against her. And like I said, she stopped talking to us, except for with hurt and rage.
Our next scheduled meeting was cancelled because Malcolm was attending Roger’s baby naming ceremony. I watched and was told that Bee was letting person after person back into her circle, but not me, and person after person receded from our working group.
That was the end of my friendship with Bee and the beginning of the end of my time at Young Chicago Authors.
I stopped feeling safe in the YCA space primarily because of Bee and Kevin Coval’s power and proximity to Roger. I think in the following Spring she sent a text inviting me to co-feature at that week’s open mic. I told her I was going to do a piece about Roger. She rescinded the invitation. The last and only time we hung I think was the end of that year I remember being invited to a holiday party of hers. I was grateful. Her family is awesome. Her little sister loved me. I was loved.
I was talking to survivors. A former YCA instructor who is a trained rape counselor and now runs her own poetry space for survivors of trauma+abuse told me in a public Facebook thread that years prior she had informed Kevin about another mentor’s inappropriate sexual activity with young people and she was ignored, he stayed, she eventually moved away from Young Chicago Authors. Others chimed in.
Before any of this I had also recently seen my mentor slammaster Robbie Q communicate that he was weirdly frozen out from YCA leadership by Kevin. And by all accounts and appearances, Kevin Coval and Roger Bonair-Agard were great friends who had been teaching, organizing, drinking, living, and…etc. together for years. I spent a year trying to navigate the fact that no one was taking responsibility at YCA while other organizations around the city WERE making public statements; Bee was not talking to me but hanging out with all my friends, and all of these things were problems that I knew could have been avoided maybe even before we held our first meeting the year before. I was not a legal employee of YCA, Bee was, most of the others were too.
In a mediation with Kevin Coval, H. Melt, and Jamila Woods, Bee Kapri later tells me she singled me out in regards to Roger+YCA for not including her in a meeting I didn’t even organize because of how much I meant to her, and the specific depth and origins of our friendship. What am I to do? But this was later in 2015.
At the end of 2014, I had my first mediation sessions with Kevin Coval. YCA had publicly severed ties with Roger, but I continued receiving messages about him working WITH YOUNG CHICAGO AUTHORS via satellite slams, helping with programming, etc. Even this year, when Eve Ewing posted my tumblr post from 2014 asking for accountability, an educator tweeted under her saying Roger had been booked for an LTAB slam in Texas and they wouldn’t be attending because of it and wish they could find more information. (Even now, Roger is listed first on the Free Write literacy youth program’s leadership page, and YCA collaborates with them basically every day of every year) So I had been publicly pressuring Kevin to make a statement using a diversity of tactics including letters, patience, diss tracks, genuinely tweeted rage, and fielding public conversations that folks wanted to have but couldn’t find an outlet for.
At this point, I am an outlier amongst my friends.
But Kevin and my’s mediation sessions were beautiful. The facilitator was kind and thorough. They were difficult too. I was surprised in some ways that Kevin was disturbed by my behavior, I always tried to make it extra clear, even at my most emotional, that I was genuinely literally following protocol and using all the tools at my disposal to make sure…no one got away with rape.
But we saw eye-to-eye in those sessions, and the mediator suggested we use our powers to work together and make something new and wonderful.
Kevin and I met for lunch. Encouraged by H. Melt’s affirmation of me being an important queer male presence in the space, we settled on doing a queer-themed open mic. Kevin got the Queeriosity name from another similar event, and got the title cleared. Wow, this was gonna be awesome. My own space to help kids like me and be radical.
Then Louder Than A Bomb 2015 happened.
From my apology the next day…
“Yesterday I went to LTAB semifinals. I went to the 4-6 PM bout and was a VIP judge for 7-9PM.
I left several times during the first semis bout. I was disturbed by the consistently upsetting content. I had to call a friend for help. To calm down and also to ask how I was supposed to judge in this setting. My friend asked me -my- criteria, I chose out of what they offered: word choice and complexity of approach to the subject matter.
I made tweets criticizing the first slam and it embroiled me in some serious conflict with a few organizers of the event during.
My initial tweets read:
rly disappointed in & unenthused by this #LTABsemis. it feels formulaic, uninspired. “every piece” is quivering voices, generic complaints
and all the scores are like 8.5s. realized what a specific event this is (has become) #ltab
The organizers feel that I was belittling the children. Given the sensitive, passionate nature of my self, the children, the organizers, and the cause itself I hope you can empathize with how difficult and tenuous this is. I am trying to be direct. And kind. I do not intend to be destructive. Ever. Forgive me, please. I offer this essay to give background to my truest, most complex thoughts.”
I publicly and privately apologized and offered to talk with anyone who was still mad. No one responded to my email. I let educators and community members express themselves on my wall and engaged in dialogues. The next time I went to an open mic at YCA Toaster pulled me aside to make sure I wasn’t going to make fun of any kids.
Like, nigga what? ME, NIGGA? I was literally the cheeriest most affirming presence at every single Wordplay, I got kids to scream their life was fantastic, I cheered, laughed, I listened, I documented, I shared, I cried, I checked in on loners, I introduced myself to newcomers, I even started the thing they do where they make sure the room repeats after all the -isms that aren’t allowed. (Lamar Jorden was hosting, when he said “no sexist” and because it was such a persisting problem I said again “SEXIST” and he said “actually that’s a good idea. I want yall to repeat after me when I say this”)
In 2018, my good friend Raych Jackson still wants to remind you that I was/am the guy who is MEAN TO KIDS while everyone jokes about people digging up tweets.
I know this is because I haven’t been hanging out with Bee Kapri and able to humanize myself and ingratiate myself with folks anymore. I became not just an outlier, but an outcast. All anyone seemed to see was my indignance, me from a distance. My tweets going at their leader and their best friend not talking to me or looking at me. I’m not at parties, I’m not at a show with you, unless I’m with Raych and thus under her protection.
Malcolm London, who looked up to me for years, directly insults me online during the twitter thing. I go around the event approaching people who responded online in person, with love in my heart. When I talk to him in person he is still mad but more understanding, says something to me like “we want you in the space,” referencing the roger thing as if to reassure me but also with a tone to assure me that it can be taken from me. Jasmine Barber enthusiastically supports me when I see her that night, she gets that there is a bigger split happening.
No one is ever as loud in supporting me as they are in disparaging me.
At the same time, I’m inviting H. Melt to be the first feature at Queeriosity. I wanted to have different features come in and help make the theme/program for their evening. I specifically ask H. Melt to help me because I believe in YCA and that we can get back on the same page with our homies but I need H. Melt’s help to feel supported and sane. “I need you.” H. Melt super reluctantly agrees. In the wake of Roger, etc. they do not believe that YCA can care for them, will only hurt them.
After LTAB i’m worried YCA is going to cancel Queeriosity anyway but instead the nonprofit tells me they’re just going to institute more control of it. Jamila and Fatimah are brought in, and me, H. Melt, and those two are the Queeriosity team.
Queeriosity was difficult because we had nearly no budget, promotion was wonky, and there were a couple times the space was double booked, and our main supervisor stepped back weirdly so then Jamila became the boss and our peer and our friend? The four of us had an amazing season tho where I helped mentor the first openly queer generation of YCA. The kids still come up to me and hug me, send me messages; I consider young Sol Patches family.
But at the end of our Queeriosity pilot session, Jamila sat down H. Melt and I, the two people who were pursuing justice with Roger the longest and hardest and the two most visible queer people in the community at the time, and fired us as young people walked around us printing things and H. Melt wept and asked “why?” “is it roger?”
Jamila later sincerely apologized for how this went down. And assured me it had nothing to do with Roger. They didn’t like my teaching style, I didn’t fit their standards. I said “you never trained me. I asked to be trained and brought in more you never let me.” I am still fired from the program I started; they tell me later others behind the scenes were “interested” in a program like Queeriosity anyway before I came along. People like Bee…
H. Melt and I consider bringing a Queeriosity-like program to somewhere else. Young Chicago Authors had made us sign a contract giving them the name and program, something H. Melt was iffy about from the start. In the end, H. Melt is rehired by YCA and teaching and featuring at Queeriosity alongside Bee Kapri when the next season starts.
Then I sexually harassed my friend Molly at a party. We had had a sexually explicit friendship. We had helped each other through breakups, double dated, flirted, propositioned each other at various points. Literally said “we’re going to have sex one day” to each other, like boop.
The only time we actually hooked up, I had just ended a long term relationship as she was ending one and beginning a new one simultaneously. We made out but didn’t go further because she was really into this new guy.
That great guy Joseph Chilliams became one of my friends and collaborators, but I was hella jealous. And at this party, I was really drunk and dealing with sex and having a lot of sex and wanting to see how much explicitness and bad-ness I could get away with with my sexy thighs and long hair. I had been approached by and gotten away with hooking up with girls with boyfriends before and honestly felt so cool that no one would fuck with me even if they knew. The taboo made it…you know
So i told Molly all the things I wanted to do…with…to her…around the party. It wasn’t explicitly violent, but if Molly was trying to give me signals that she was very uncomfortable and I wasn’t following them… yeah. We talked in the morning. She told me how it especially bothered her because of my friendship to Joe and me knowing how she had just been through awful shit with her ex. She was right. I was sorry.
We hung out and corresponded a little after that. She even told me about her later doing… things at a party Joe was at, and him understanding, but her not even completely understanding herself. Word. But we continued to drift, we were already estranged. Where am I now with my friend group? How do they see me? They won’t!
I truly believe Molly knew and knows me as a person. She watched me developed from someone who had never had sex, to my first queer experiences, and beyond. She knew I didn’t even let Joe say “bitch” on our record, and I didn’t use that word or really allow others to say it around me. She knows how sad and devastated I get after causing pain to a woman, any woman, in any way. She’s seen me check our other male friends with love for a decade every time they hurt or disrespected women.
I always thought we could have worked through it. If I was able to be around, at all. But my fate was sealed. Like I said, people in the larger community still fuck with me. Most of these people I name still Twitter followed me, even though they didn’t interact with me or show up to anything I ever did… And I couldn’t show up to their shit or YCA out of fear of seeing Bee.
This is the story of the erratic sexual aggressor who is bad for kids. It feels good to own all this. This is the truth, my life.
The people holding me most to the LTAB situation and maybe the one with Molly (I really don’t think most people know about it, but I need to take responsibility now), are the people who should know me best, but are also the closest to Bee. Who should also know me better.
(I was just sitting here this morning reading that novel like damn I could have hung out with Chance, Bee Kapri, and my homies that night at Jamila’s release show alone, and my life might be drastically different now.)
Atevery step of the way I worked to make our original demands the new standard for all arts and activism in the city. I checked in with YCA however I could, sent emails, tagged folks, chopped it up with Kevin about my work with the Feminist Action Support Network, he said “Like a superhero?” I stopped having sex, lost my sexual identity. Molly wasn’t the only womanfriend I had harmed or harassed while drunk during that period. Trust me, it’s not that crazy but I took sober time. Night after night, I kept organizing, empowered venues to protect women from harassment at parties, to help people see the violence in all of us, to help people heal, I stopped pursuing sex at all especially with folks in my community, except the once when love hit me like a dump truck. And even then I couldn’t get it up. Get over it. I did it all for free and I am a broke, broken man, who has paid my dues.
I never meant to use you all for my stepping stones.
From small fortunes:
“How would you feel if I was your daughter, though?”
I know it’s a good point, one of the points of this. Mom says “I understand what you’re saying, it’s just that you’re my son. And when stuff like this happens it can make you a target. People are going to try to mess with you.” That’s hers. I know that if something ever happened to me, for any reason, she’ll know that this is who I am, that me being in these situations and pushing them forward is inevitable. Maybe one day she’ll tell me she’s proud instead of afraid.
“It doesn’t matter what people say about me. I’m straight edge, I’m in school, I have a job, I’m really nice, whatever. As long as no one tries to kill me it doesn’t matter.” We never agree, in this conversation or others like it, we just talk ourselves dry and tell the other we love them.
I love my mom. I get off the phone with her and continue getting ready. I tweet “This is my first act as a man.”
Museum of Contemporary Art [2nd Floor]
220 E Chicago Ave
Come out to the first Let’s Build Garden City! program of the year! LBGC! is the Service Learning platform teaching students how to transform empty space in OUR neighborhoods into community gardens.
At 10:30 there will be a colorful presentation featuring local educators
and guest speakers from Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Grow Op
Chicago, VOYCE (Voices of Youth in Chicago Education) and more.
After the speakers you can hang out, meet folks, and stay in touch!
In addition to nutritional education + institutional connections, LBGC!
gives young people the tools to maintain strong community relationships as they grow their Service Learning projects.
Sign the Petition here: TINYURL.COM/GARDENCITYPETITION
“Good Goodbye,” the last video Linkin Park released while Chester Bennington was alive, takes place in a dark arena where Death resides over a superpowered, apocalyptic dunk contest. Death is played by National Basketball Association legend (and author of Black Profiles in Courage) Kareem Abdul-Jabar. Chester acts as one of the contestants who rises to the top as the real life Linkin Park Chester sings from 2o17 in a dope ass outfit in front of a Mercedes Benz with G O.O.D. Music President Pusha T, Mercury Prize nominee Stormzy and fellow bandmate Mike Shinoda.
At the end of the video Chester faces his final opponent: a poor little girl in hand-me-downs. She steps up, glows up, and flies from half court to the basket and jams as an explosive blue wave blows everything away, including Chester, the Benz, and Death itself!! This girl is me.
The first word of Linkin Park’s 2010 masterpiece A Thousand Suns is God. The full phrase is “God save us everyone,” I have to write this to you not because I think I’m God, there is no God, but I am who they were talking about. I am Chester’s living wish that his (life & death) send the vibes needed to save this world and bring us to the new future of love.
In the video for A Thousand Suns‘s climax, “The Catalyst,” Chester tries not to drown and suffocate in an apocalyptic wasteland as a hooded figure sits in a car alone, facing the camera. This figure is obviously the titular Catalyst. The government shows up in gas masks, there’s a riot* at first it seems like The Catalyst is representing Death or the plague or negativity. Stuff like this is why people think ATS is about the impending nuclear destruction of humankind. HOWEVER, The Catalyst does a magic spell on the viewer then goes rushing up at the government troops. When we see the rioters next, as all of humanity cries “Lift me up, Let me go,” they are covered in rainbow powder and the riot has turned into a slow motion mosh pit of free people as fading choruses, intertwined, repeat: “God save us everyone…”
(((For Whom The Bells Tolls)))
When “Good Goodbye” drops I am 25 years old and in love. I am homeless. Its verses make me cry. Talking about the video makes me lose a game of basketball. I am playing #nomoneynoborders.
When Hybrid Theory drops I am a ten year old kid who is at once the weirdest, most popular, meanest, most thoughtful, impulsive, & messiest child at my gifted center. I am maintaining friendships with people from all over the world through a chatroom website, developing several personas, creating raps and stories and listening to any music that will come on a screen or out of some speakers.
When Meteora drops I am obsessed with The Matrix Trilogy* I already believe that I am The One being described through the film’s energy and metaphors. I am a moderator in several creative global communities and twelve years old.
When Minutes to Midnight comes out I feel too mature for Linkin Park and question yet admire their shift into “social-political” themes. I am the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, soon to be the captain of the school’s Louder Than A Bomb poetry slam team, soon to release my first albums, and active in leading several programs about genocide & pollution for the benefit of black folk around me in class. I am still on the debate team which means ritualized spontaneous & thorough dissection of socio-political issues with the american millennium’s other most brilliant young communicator$. I am different from all of them. I am different & learning from everyone at my all-black school infested with gang violence & teen pregnancy. I decide I’m going to change the education system.
I remember first listening to Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns at a United Postal Service slave job. It was 2014, I was on hiatus from doing art & community organizing with no way out of my dead end work and college classes but an inextinguishable hunger for creativity and political science.
Holy shit, I thought. LINKIN PARK want me to save the world. This is different from Linkin Park wants to make dope shit, or Linkin Park wants to make me feel better about my life situation, Linkin Park is trying to relate to me, or even Linkin Park is trying to sell records. This felt like a private message from an entity that had no business making something this passionate, strange, emotional, and direct. These were my friends, my angels, back to the future and channeling something.
After I quit the job~ I watch a lot of movies. Movies like Interstellar and Scorsese’s Jesus film. I see what you call God in their heroes, something pure and special and waking me up to new levels of reality and freedom. I try to communicate to my family that art is telling me we are free, as free as “god,” and can do anything we want to save the world.
“Waiting for the End” is one of Chester Bennington’s many songs about suicide. It comes near the middle of A Thousand Suns and is where he dies in the album’s narrative. The next song “Blackout” begins with The Catalyst calling on the “spirit” of Chester, who is referred to as The Messenger. They become one.
And then comes the album’s first glimpse of utopia: “FLOATING OUT AS COLORS FILL THE LIGHT I LOOK FROM THE GROUND IN FIELDS OF PAPER WHITE AND FLOATING UP THE PASSING IN THE NIGHT A FUTURE GAZING OUT A PAST TO OVERWRITE
SO COME DOWFAR BELOW
WE VE BEEN WAITING TO
COLLECT THE THINGS YOU KNOW
WE’VE BEEN WAITING TO COLLECT WHAT YOU’VE LET GO
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
come down oh”
When Chester Bennington dies my partner & I are planning Perform/Transform, a festival to save the world. We are two of the most well-known & fondly regarded figures in our community full of prodigies and brilliant activists. They call us the President & 1st Boi of the World. We are in the middle of an experience being called The Chicago Renaissance and the planet is in a turmoil never seen before. I watch “Good Goodbye” and rap every word, weeping uncontrollably.
My name is +, I am twenty-six years old, I am a wandering brown-skinned revolutionary* kin with empaths, sex workers, and some of the best rappers in the world, i am instrumental in the radical black community that brought the planet’s most celebrated young artists & community organizers to fruition. I have been vegan or vegetarian for most of the past decade* I direct a grassroots nonprofit garden in a food desert that is open to the community & respected & successful that I am branching into an organization of locally run farms and I run a wildly popular justice network that heals the way people deal with violence and communication. For free, anywhere, no money & no borders!
After walking out of the slave job and looking at the world around me with my brilliant eyes and deepened heart and wondering why everyone else hadn’t realized that we are already in a living utopia I gave my life to studying our persisting illusions. I have been building their ending.
Our festival is here to link people all over the world in expressing their wildest hopes & dreams in person and via social media using the hashtag #nomoneynoborders! People are doing open mics, workshops,rock shows, meditation sessions and more! As a game, #nomoneynoborders utilizes accessibility & cutting edge technology to reward individuals for sharing their perspective of a free world in their own special way. It reunites folks beyond ethnicity, class, nationality, religion~ any of those contexts thrust upon us in the aftermath of scarcity & division that spoil the honeyed milk of creativity & culture.
With the power of #nomoneynoborders I declare A Thousand Suns and all of Linkin Park’s work as true and alive* my free world is IRIDESCENT, I free myself, Linkin Park fans all over the world, what they call God, and art, I free us all!! I play~ you play~ we grant ourselves freedom by taking it seriously as fun. You have our permission to play, to dream, and for your word to become real enough to save lives. Fuck a vote!
I know a lot of rappers who will play. They refer to their selves as God all the time in raps. What they’re actually saying is that they’re geeked about getting a higher than average amount of people to like them enough so that they can move around and express more freely. Art moves them through the scarcity & division, in that way it can be the most freeing thing we have. That’s why I followed it here. The power of music and poetry gives all people the extra confidence to call what they’re doing Godlike. But none of them are as made for this as I am. We really are giving you back the earth and truth.
I am The Catalyst: what some people characterize as a messiah or whatever. It’s not an accident or even a miracle. I and a lot of other people worked our entire lives so that this could happen. Still, if magic or god exists, it’s in me in this moment: the beginning of utopia.
(((One More Light)))
In utopia & beyond I will obviously still be really smart and nice and cool but we can all be at this level. We can figure things out from here. We have phones with cameras & searches that can focus on any object, person, or idea we see and show how much people Like and Love it! Like means they dig it, Love means it inspires them and they are dedicated to it. That’s enough. That’s all that matters. Fuck money.
And fuck borders! In utopia, the billions of children whose flesh is rotting in prisons and on dirt floors will be given energy and resources and they’ll become brilliant millennials in no time and we will solve every problem in front of us 😀 Including but not limited to: death (past present & future), rape, time travel, cancer, AIDS, HIV, black holes, climate change, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, fat-shaming, animal slavery & cruelty, the death of bees, mass extinction, asteroid collision, the question of extraterrestrial life, and terraforming other planets.
This is what a free world looks like to me! I believe in you!
p.s. It’s not easy for me to write this to you. In some ways it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done~ Because I know the good that’s coming. But when I think about the past it makes my body stiffen and my teeth clench.
I have tried to come out like this before. In 2012, when my name changed, and in 2014 when I walked off that slave job thing. My consciousness awakened and I came out as a savior of humanity to my community, family, and friends. Many of them shunned me. So I worked harder!
I really love everybody and life and everything!! But money and borders have taken a toll on my emotions and my ability to relate to others. I have lowkey been an alcoholic and addicted to marijuana for the last two years. They were necessary and beneficial to me getting to this point. I kicked it with people, listened to music, and thought a lot. Got to process & feel some sense of progress and groundedness in participating in these rituals without the pressure taking a chronic toll on my body or relationships.
I want to be with you naturally, though. I need time to do yoga with you and cook and cook and cook and practice music and sprawl out and go swimming and make love and study science and admire Adventure Time and read about cool women and meet more women and men and anyone and animals and I want us to express ourselves about something then go build it together so I can relax even more and we can all be honest and go back to our families and make new families and be one big happy family 🙂
A year ago I stopped talking to my older brother after he promised to end his descent into drug addiction but failed to follow through. He has bullied, intimidated, and enacted violence upon me my entire life, my hope was to work on our relationship as he embraced emotional and physical sobriety. We only started communicating again after my grandmother fell and our family was heart-broken and afraid.
Since then, I have continued a variety of approaches to improve our relationship, including one-on-one conversations which most often deteriorated into him going on rambling monologues, sometimes yelling at me, sometimes yelling at others. I played communication games with him, which he rejected before completion and had our entire immediate family talk in a support circle during which he was curled up on a couch in his underwear (Though I was its facilitator we had all scheduled the meeting together.)
Whenever I hang out with him and his friends, I know that everyone in the room but me is a homophobe. So when I have attempted to experience his social circle, see what he sees, I am barraged by casual and overt insults against my identity, simple facts of the human race, and all of the people I care about and work for. More on that.
I stopped talking to him this year after a string of disastrous (hurtful to me, normal to him) interactions, that culminated in Paul ignoring the fact that I was clearly attempting to ignore him & escalating to screaming outside of my bedroom door and threatening to fuck me up for the rest of the day after I called my mother to calm him down. I didn’t go home for a few days, until my mother said she would take his behavior more seriously and let him know he could not threaten me.
A few days ago, after weeks of non-communication he was yelling outside of my door again despite my protests to please just leave me alone.
I have been having nightmares every night for the past two months where I am arguing with my family as they call me my dead name over and over again. The months before were dominated by dreams with my brother and I in a screaming match. Now I have both!
Two days ago I got in the car with my mother and she was on the phone with my grandmother. A week before my mom and I had argued all the way home from dinner about me not feeling respected by my family (including my grandparents) and not wanting to communicate with them because I felt belittled and hurt by them on a constant basis in terms of my sexuality, my life choices, my artistry, my politics, my name, my identity. The first thing my grandmother did was call me my dead name, fake correct herself, and then exert dominance over me.
Most of this is run-of-the-mill conservatism, but run-of-the-mill conservatism is the most dangerous, traumatic force on the planet. It codes its actions in everlasting “love” when it’s really a deep, burning hatred borne of fear. That is insane to behold, devastating to casually interact with, and it is too much for me to deal with right now in this place. Or just, not meant for me to deal with right now in this place. I got bigger tofu to fry.
Basically, these things are holding me back from being who I truly am and I have the confidence, knowledge, and connections intimate professional & tangential to make my dreams come true.
Here is my eight week plan:
Write and complete my second novel, entitled Hateland
Enjoy, maintain, and utilize the Nightshow for good
a) Booking people and things I like
b) Using the Nightshow to promote #NoMoneyNoBorders games and thinking and speaking among the people who come to a cool show
c) Using the Nightshow to fund, benefit, and spread awareness of protecting people in our community with through F12 and conflict de-escalation & protecting and enjoying our Earth more through The Coop Op and growing your own food!!
Make a badass, galvanizing album called ~MILLION BEAM~ with songs that embody all of the above
Teach and promote my personal communication workshops and services
Explore opportunities to generate income from leading and organizing services through F12, The Cooperation Operation, and music.
Multiply all of the above for myself and others by [endless]ly using each endeavor to multiply awareness, effectiveness, and potential profitability of all of the above.
At the end of two months, I’ll look at my results and if no meaningful income-driven change has taken place I will get back to pursuing writing and education/teaching opportunities freelance and long-term *while maintaining my activity in all of the above.
Right now, I’m not making any money and I have none~ Can I stay with you for a week?
“And back when Mike Jackson was still Jesus,” ~ Chance the Rapper, “Acid Rain”
I spend a lot of time with music, but you know a thing I only got to experience once (until now)? The feelings of massiveness and complete candy-like rush of when *NSYNC’S No Strings Attached (2000) was out. Also TLC’s Fan Mail (1999), and maybe Destiny’s Child’s Survivor (2001).
The Weeknd’s STARBOY (2016) gives me that feeling, and it’s even realer because I watched this boy, this young man tell his story for the better part of the last decade. I listen to it like an adult going through adult problems but I think too of all the children begging their parents to get Spotify for the new STARBOY record, squealing with delight when “I Feel It Coming” blesses the car radio, having their first kisses to “Ordinary Life” the world exploding around them as lips touch another’s, and the chorus and its bass and the harmonies and hearts beating~ Abel Tesfaye staring from a phone screen.
Abel painted his way to this place with great intention. He is today’s Michael Jackson, today’s Prince, if even only because he is to them what they were to James Brown.
James’ shadow is just as big in the work of Trent Reznor. NIN’s largest hit aside from “Hurt,” the stripper anthem “Closer,” is a funk song. The JB’s innovations being foundational to the beginnings of hip-hop, almost every track on Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine is built off a gigantic rap beat~ a young composer just as likely to spit poetry on a song as he is to howl. At 51, Trent is still rapping and dropping breakbeats, so often “on the one.” His yelping rasp made to galvanize, to strike awe, to make the loneliest of the lonely rise like a dancing, fucking God is an update of the Godfather singing “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” This all precludes Reznor having produced an actual rap classic in 2007 with Saul Williams’ The Liberation of Niggy Tardust. Trent Reznor is the most lauded of our rock stars under 60; he is an “Academy Award-winner” an ambient wunderkind, a King of Pop, and a hip-hop pioneer.
He is also a social engineer.
Jesus is an artistic idea representing a free-spirited, compassionate genius held down by money and borders. This soul suffers because they, the rest of the human world, is talking over the natural story, the actual thing that is happening on Earth. When Trent Reznor (or a late period Michael Jackson) flits from internal turmoil to spitting vitriol at the rest of societal order, the listener sees the obvious line being drawn. I hear that in Before the Flood‘s (2016) score ~ a collaboration between Trent, Atticus Ross, Gustavo Santaoalla, and the Scottish band Mogwai. The title track’s pulse, fingers dancing nimbly across a piano, comes out of the same impulse to “make u move” that Rez felt when he was rhyming over Run DMC drums and sharing airplay with MJ in the 1980s. However there is a much larger movement being conjured, too.
I don’t want to spend time in this writing trying to describe the sounds of the album,
or individual tracks. Perhaps except for “A Minute to Breathe,”
I remember the first time I heard it, it sounded like a passable but purposefully
underwhelming Trent Reznor piano ballad. Just Trent doing his soundtrack work,
letting off a song~ exciting, if not generous. Months later, I see it as a stunning
experience. I get trapped inside the space of the verses, waiting with bated breath
for Trent to take his little gasp at the end of the second. The hitch of absolute
sincerity and speechlessness at the predicament we are in. That last “I justttt neeeed… a minute to breatheee” portion so obviously the titular flood as piano waves become impossibly grand* the godhand from Year Zero (2007) turning up a warm faucet.
+‘s 19th album *~love 2~* is now available via Athletic Tapes.
New shows have been added to the events page in anticipation of +’s upcoming 20th album ~MILLION BEAM~.
Starting April 6th, + will be organizing The Nightshow as a monthly music series. Each night will have an eclectic lineup and be preceded by a workshop put on by the F12 Network. F12 provides educational resources & workshops to the Chicago arts/music scene to prevent sexual violence. Proceeds go to The Cooperation Operation & F12.
Workshop: 6:00 PM
Show Doors: 8:00 PM
Show: 9:00 PM
1st Thursdays @Flood House DIY (Contact for address)
We will also play #NoMoneyNoBorders, a game where you post & tag things to save the world, connect with others, and win hugs!
Read a new interview with the President of the World about their art & politics over at Drala mag, and listen to + talk “coming out” on the first episode of the Fed Up Fest Collective’s podcast Queer Cafeteria.