OLD ESSAY// Why I Quit the United States Postal Service

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This piece originally appeared in Side by Side Magazine.

I quit my job this week. This is why:

I wake up at four, angry, dark as the sky. I lay in bed a few seconds, then throw my upper half up. I change the music on my laptop and start working out. Around 4:20 I alternate between making lunch and working out. I’m making spaghetti. At 4:55 I take a shower. I start wrapping up the odds and ends of my morning: snacks, keys, decide what I’ll be listening to as I leave out the front door. It’s old jazz. It’s February so I’m on the 30s in my jazz discovery program. Next month it’ll be the 40s.

It’s cold, I’m still angry. The walk soothes me, somewhere deep inside. I’m still smiling on the bus, on the train. “Good morning. Thank you!” We huddle.

I brush my teeth at work. I look in the mirror. I look good. I go out to the floor.

There’s always something. There’s always something not right when I get to the unit, something to compensate for, to ask a supervisor for, to restock, to reorganize, that just isn’t there but should be. I’m angry and I’m moving fast. There is no trickling in for me, I am the bowl.

I am the Expediter.

That means I have patience, discipline, balance, speed, strength, empathy, and hopefully, eight hours of sleep. It means I am everything I was not growing up. It means that when I f*ck up, or when someone tells me I f*ck up, it soaks me deep. It means I’m angry. It means I’m grinding my teeth. It means there’s nowhere else in this building I’d rather be. I only started grinding my teeth after I started expediting. I started expediting around the same time I got back in school. The employees who were doing it before me all quit. An employee and her friend, the supervisor, got me to do it one day, two days, three days, weeks, and now they’re both gone and it’s my job. Time flies when you don’t have enough of it, and I have mail falling always. Always containers getting full, always containers to pull out and dispatch, always containers full of mail designated for a flight that’s leaving in 30 minutes 20 minutes 10 minutes right now it’s late, always people asking me to make a new container, always something late, always something they can’t find, always homework to do, always lover, always lonely, always independent, always an attitude, bury the attitude with love. By noon I’ll be fine. I’m just underrating the day because I’m grumpy. But this is my life, this is all I have, this is work, this is production, this is beautiful. Look at all these people. I love them. And I am the expediter. They depend on me. Always never knew I’d be here.

Written summer, 2014

One of the last things Bruce told me was “Don’t Panic.” He told Benjamin I had a good heart. He told me I was a kid, that he was in high school in 1992, a year after I was born. Bruce was working 7 days a week, 4 hours overtime. Bruce was in the Marines eight years, was a sergeant. Bruce got there an hour early every day, at six, to get paid, but also to clean. “I hate chaos,” he couldn’t work in an unclean area.

I’ve been trying to reorganize myself. Make this writing thing happen, make healthy veganism happen, make being a weed smoking genius artist happen, befriend everybody everywhere. Watching Bruce, talking to, working with Bruce is the most fruitful work relationship I’ve ever had.

It happened fast. I was asking him and Marcus to stop making fun of me, they had taken to calling me “MIGOS!” I don’t know why, and chuckling to themselves. I’d been “experimenting” with sticking up for my self. I asked them, in front of another guy, to stop calling me “Migos,” I had asked Marquez if he was making fun of me for my pink hat. Both experiments changed their attitudes toward me, toward one of quiet respect and deference, both confrontations rattled my bones and made me anxious as hell.

Then, the holidays started again. I started telling Barbara I was going to need help expediting. For a while last holiday season every day someone or multiple someones told me I needed help. Expediters from other shifts, people in my unit, the military people watching the mail. This past November, I got Bruce.

I had just started listening to Dr. Dre’s 2001. While playing some from his speakers, Bruce looked at me “Best producer of all-time” I said “I dunno. Maybe Pharrell” he winced skeptically. The few days Bruce and I worked together before the speakers shorted out, every day at 2:45 PM, 15 minutes before closing time he would put on “Still D.R.E.” I loved it. One time after the speakers shorted, I played it on my phone and showed Bruce my screen from far away. It’s been very hard for me to connect to black men, to feel comfortable to love. To feel worthy as a friend. Everyone at my job was my friend.

My job was rife with prostitution, illicit drug use, fat black women, tired mothers, nepotism, abrupt and unexplained regime changes, corrupt supervisors, an easily manipulated justice system, a corrupt and cantankerous union, white people in button-ups with power, brown people covered in dust, in-fighting, gossip, repression, oppression, safety hazards, sharp and drastic personnel changes (Firing/hiring hundreds of people in months), failures of command, gambling, sexist men, sexual harassment, fights, unsafe driving, and deaths on the workroom floor. I quit because that’s fucked up, and hopefully I can make it as an artist or at least a human being out here.

Oh, and it matters because these are these are the people in the system handling your mail.

25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD~ with Carl Nadig!

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Carl Nadig is a conductor of positivity in Dekalb, IL. He awesomely invited me to
perform at November’s Majakka Monthly Music Marathon, a benefit he helps
organize for the Dekalb Area Women’s Center. Carl lives life as a dedicated journalist, generous thinker, and he plays music in the duo The Pleasant Street Players and Human Drag.

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color?
I don’t have one yet.

Who is your favorite athlete?
My younger sister, Stevie. She’s a wrestler. Wrestling as a female includes more challenges that I can only imagine.

What is your favorite poem and why?

“The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of my favorites. The longer you read it, the more you become the protagonist in the story’s main plot.

What is the name of your fictional autobiography?

How tall are you?
5′ 10″, according to some medical experts.

What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember?
I remember painting a dinosaur in first grade. I don’t remember if it even had a title, because I was probably enjoying myself too much to name it.

What is the title of your most recent piece of work?
My new band just finished a song called “Make Me.”

Tell me about it?
You’ll have to hear it.

How did this monthly series come about?
The director of DeKalb’s Area Women Center, Anna Marie Coveny, asked Daerielle if she would play a few shows. Then we tossed the idea on hosting shows at Majakka Hall once a month for other bands and let all the proceeds go to the Women Center.

Where is home?
Right now? Pleasant Street in DeKalb.

What is home?
My mother’s voice.

Who is home?
Many people that are silently fading away.

Whose home are you?
That thought petrifies me.

What is your favorite plant?
I enjoyed walking to a specific willow tree back on my father’s farm, resting in the bottom of a valley, planted next to a creek.

Who is your daddy and what does he do?
My father is Rob Nadig. Farmer. It’s a profession that’s been in his bloodline for at least five generations.

Who are you?

What do you do?

Who would you like to collaborate with?
My mother’s father. He was a musician and lived in New Boston, Missouri, so I’m told. I never knew him.

Where are you going?
Down, according to some religion experts.

Where did you just come from?
Up, according to some religion experts.

Where are you right now?
In the middle.

Who is Vashti Bunyan?
I don’t know. Tell me about them. I’m curious.

TELL me some impressions of the other performers?
Grateful to be playing inside a new music venue in DeKalb, so I try to return that gratitude as much as I can.

You have to hear them.


Why are you still going?
I don’t understand.

What does a free world look like to you?
Probably more trouble than it’s worth, frankly.

+’s SIX MONTH PLAN as President of the World is now available

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The President & 1stBoi

This speech was given at Hostel Earphoria on October 8, 2016. (VIDEO)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

THE TEXT

I would like to start by taking a moment of silence for the life of Corvus Humphries aka Chrono. ~~ Chrono, you are loved.

In two days, I am leading a communication and conflict resolution workshop for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative at Northern Illinois University. In the following months I will continue to lead workshops, conduct mediations, facilitations, and lead and be led in trainings based around community engagement, education, and communication. Also I am a rapper.

I’m all about the call and response. And I hear you. I hear you Nicollete trying to bring conflict resolution to your Inglewood students. I hear all of you  in my facebook message requests (when i can remember to check them), asking what’s up with FASN because your venue really is committed to having support liasons at your shows. I hear you Jamila, trying to work on checking in with your fam.

I will move through this world with purpose and clarity, on the straight edge of sobriety, making this world safer for people of types who want to go to shows and not have to suffer through scary conversation and constant inebriation. With thoughtful partners, I will subvert and enhance these spaces, make workshops out of wastelands and invent choruses out of dischord.

There are several big issues on our mind as a planet. The foremost, of course, being the climate crisis. How can we, as humans, restructure our communities and resources in ways that are sustainable. How can we exist ethically, healthily, while staying true to the promise of forward progress? And how should we, the people of the future, police ourselves?

The Cooperation Operation rose from the ashes of the Occupy movement. We were an intentionally leaderless organization of young people that came together to transform a vacant lot on the Southside of Chicago into a little slice of paradise. There were moments, our ribbon cutting ceremony, summer talks on the back porch, the first time the sunflowers bloomed on what was once a toxic wasteland, where utopia was ours.

Though that same flame still burns, we have grown up. We are not intentionally leaderless anymore. We are leaders of a new world and we recognize that the next phase of the Coop Op is to take greater responsibility for meaningfully involving the community around us in building that world, right from the center of the universe on the Southside of Chicago. Here, we protect the environment while we feeding those today who otherwise would not have been fed yesterday.

As President of the World, I pledge to extend the work my partners at The Coop Op have cultivated these past growing seasons throughout Chicago and the world and provide opportunities for artists and organizers like myself to transform fallow wastelands into creative utopias. To give little black boys and girls tiny little shovels and knowledge of our most sacred cycles. To cut down emissions from food traveling across the world while/by giving people everything they need to grow everything they need right down the street from where they live. Let me know what you need to get involved in the gardens across Chicago reversing the tide, quite literally, of our rising seas and dying trees.

They don’t want us to win. They want us broke. They want us miserable.

THEY don’t want us to win because of capitalism, where dollar signs hide food, water, and knowledge. Where life is conditional, where love comes after violence. We all know it. In a world where we call for alternatives while struggling to stop the violence that seems to come from every direction.

I, the president of the world, am an anarchist and an ardent advocate and practitioner of transformative justice. In the Cooperation Operation, in my home life, and elsewhere, I believe in forgiveness and communication above all else. That’s why I need Feminist Action Support Network. That’s why i believe we need it. The past year we, at FASN, experimented with responses to sexual violence in our arts community. Many of my closest friends have been affected and continue to be affected by this societal disease.

We failed. A lot. We cried, people did not heal, and yet the feeling deep down is good. Because we tried. And there were serious positive impacts. With the advice and support of our friends and peers we shifted the current culture of our DIY community using the tools granted to us by punks in Philly, by the femme black activists over at Project NIA, and indigenous people from hundreds of years ago. We are able to synthesize this information into better & more inclusive practices and resist the oppression of capitalism to get free from this culture of violence.

I want you to be the mediators & Support Liasons. I’m just a door.

We are a rising alternative to this police state, a rising where communities of people are trained in understanding the causes and effects of violence and can contain and heal that violence without resorting to guns and handcuffs, electric chairs and prison cells.

Round the city round the clock, everybody needs you. And we need everybody. In the following months, I pledge to do my part to revitalize and stabilize the Feminist Action Support Network. We play an essential part in the movement and the artists, as ever, are on the vanguard of this very necessary stuff.

I love you and I’ll see you in six months.

+

a life of meaning vol. 2 is now available

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THE SICK MUSE is a semi-monthly zine featuring lyrics, paintings, poetry, and musings from the underground scene in Chicago. Find them in stock at Quimby’s Bookstore, Permanent Records, Bucket O’Blood Records, Saki Records, Reckless Records, ECO, and a (not) DIY show near you!!

This is +’s essay from The Sick Muse vol. 5, released this week, accompanying a revolutionary sticker collection, part of +’s ongoing a life of meaning multimedia project.

~*~*~*~

U.S. Presidents have said a lot of nice things about art over the years~ perhaps most famous is John F. Kennedy’s speech at Amherst College in 1963, a partial eulogy for the poet Robert Frost, where Kennedy says “I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.” In 2014, current president Barack Obama stated that “the arts are central to who we are as a people.” And a few years ago, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wrote to Vanity Fair:

“In my line of work, we often talk about the art of diplomacy as we try to make people’s lives a little better around the world. But, in fact, art is also a tool of diplomacy. It reaches beyond governments, past the conference rooms and presidential palaces, to help us connect with more people in more places. It is a universal language in our search for common ground, an expression of our shared humanity.”

She’s kind of talking about art as “soft power”: a persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of economic or cultural influence. However, I’ve been fascinated lately with thinking of what art might be like as “hard” power. What if we could, to paraphrase singer Frank Ocean, actually draw on fantasy to make things hyperreal? When I watched Hillary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, talk about her political career during a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, a major theme was her existence as a Change Maker. She would pick up a phone or go to someone’s office building or sign off on a bill and suddenly thousands of parents would be able to take their child to preschool or a hundred clinics would stay open. It made me think of how I can’t do that; no matter what I put in a song, my words are just words that you’ll soon forget.

The purpose of a life of meaning is to empower a new connection between real life and popular art ~*~*~*

There’s an imaginary land of freedom and peace that music often refers to- think John Lennon’s “Imagine,” or The Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There.” I believe that place exists as a physical reality right on the other side of the political condition that we live in. The Staples family can’t actually take you through that looking glass the way a politician can but placing these stickers on plants, walls, on bedroom doors and bathroom stalls works to realize the potential of our greatest art and our purest selves.

In past writing, I’ve defined love as “a state of mutual vulnerability.” I meant it both emotionally and as a political definition. That’s how it appears, too, in Beyoncé’s new visual album LEMONADE as the personal reconciliation of Bey x Jay gives way to images of mothers of young black men killed by law enforcement. Beyoncé’s happy ending for these mothers – their “Freedom” – portrays black women growing food together in a boundary-less community. Here, class isn’t a factor: literally everyone has a seat at the table. There are no prisons. I feel like it’s my responsibility to state without ambiguity that there is only one political concept that encompasses LEMONADE’s perfect reality. It’s already championed by millions of people all over the world and it’s called Anarchism.

the homies blog presents // 25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE CHANGE THE WORLD with~ Kevin and Hell!

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I’ve performed with Kevin and Hell numerous times, and they were very memorable times. Once, his mullet was shaved onstage. Another, it was his birthday! Both times he laid down a funky, quirky, lo-fi jazz that is warm, enigmatic and sweetly brilliant. One of his stickers is in my bedroom and another is on my co-friend Jerrod’s water bottle. I am honored he asked me to perform for a series of shows he’s been putting together this fall.

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color?   Clear
Who is your favorite athlete? The one that is just trying to enjoy themself
What is your favorite poem and why? The one I haven’t heard yet, because it’ll be something I haven’t thought already.
What is the name of your fictional autobiography? Stairway to Kevin
How tall are you? 6 feet and 2 inches
What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember? I can remember how it sounds but not the title.
What is the title of your most recent piece of work? Moons of Mars
Tell me about it? It is a song where I float around in space and listen to the stars. A music video is almost ready.
How did the show September 29 come about? I wanted to bring some of my favorite local acts to Fat City in a quieter setting
Where is home? Wherever I’m comfortable
What is home? A state of mind
Who is home? You are home
Whose home are you? I am my own
What is your favorite plant? The truffula tree
Who is your daddy and what does he do? My dad is Mark and lives in Montana
Who are you? I am Kevin and/or Hell
What do you do? I transcribe music from the vast realm of possibility
Who would you like to collaborate with? The Myth Science Arkestra
Where are you going? I can’t say for sure
Where did you just come from? Not 100% sure about that either
Where are you right now? Next to some flowers on a painted bench
Who is Vashti Bunyan? I don’t know, yet
TELL me some impressions of the other performers? A lot of very different people working to bring people together.
Why are you still performing? I’ve temporarily retired to research the fruiting bodies of fungi.
What does a free world look like to you? One where people don’t need to impose their own agendas on others.

the homies blog presents// 25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD with Corey Anderson!

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As I type, Corey Anderson’s former band Glad Rags has lulled into a gorgeous freefall.  All the dissonance and  tense Tom Waits-esque growls making up the first suite of the outfits most recent album Imaginary Friends have smoothed out and Corey has a chance to relax & make love to the listener through his horn. I love it~ amid the colorful barrage of his other former band, the mighty Evasive Backflip, and the weight of the world pushing him to be ever more self-critical as a young, white male it’s nice to think of Corey at peace. He deserves it. I’m glad for this interview, to hear about things and people he loves.

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color?

Oh goodness, off to a good start. I don’t have a favorite color. I’ve never really understood the whole favorite color thing on a personal level. I think I understand why other people have favorite colors but no color stands out to me.

Who is your favorite athlete?

If I had been asked this a few years ago I would have had an answer. Now, I have no idea. Sports were a big part of my childhood and growing up I was very active (in participating and watching) but lately I’ve been all like, ‘major sports leagues are kinda fucked up’ and the breeding of arbitrary divisions among people (ie cubs/sox rivalry) just compounds those feelings.
That’s not really an answer to the question though.
What is your favorite poem and why?
I’m not so good at this favorite game, or the remember names of media that you consume game, or the favourite game if you’re english. That being said….I don’t have one.
What is the name of your fictional autobiography?
Haha
‘Just another white man’
How tall are you?
Average. I fit perfectly under those low basement ceilings at all these house shows.
What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember?
I’ve always been terrible at titling my art, so, I have no idea. But I do remember I have always written poetry and songs and created art about love, emotions, and the world around me.
What is the title of your most recent piece/body of work?
Self Indulgence
Tell me about it?
It is a 52 minute album that was inspired/written/performed/recorded during a month of change. It’s subject matter is both a reactionary take on some pretty big changes in my day to day life that occurred at the onset of its creation and it is part of the larger ongoing conversation I have through my art about my struggles with what psychologists like to call bi-polar disorder.

How did this show come about?

Well, it may or may not be my birthday and I may or may not have a tape coming out. So, I may or may not have decided to get a few people whose talent and company I enjoy to get together on a bill!

Where is home?

Not really sure honestly. I was born in south florida but only spent the first 6 years there. My folks then moved to Naperville, and while I grew up there I’ve never felt it was my home. I’m always tempted to say Chicago, but I didn’t grow up here. So, in the end it will always be a place of comfort and hopeful stability, but I don’t think I’ll feel right putting a label on it as deeply entrenched in ownership as home.
What is home?
Music. My brother, my father, my mother, my partner.
Who is home?
See the above, and add that maybe one day I’ll answer that I am home.
Whose home are you?
A ton of bacteria and organic matter! Also maybe my partner and again maybe one day, myself.
What is your favorite plant?
Ivy is pretty spectacular to me right now. The way it slowly envelopes and creates a coat around whatever it vines along is pretty beautiful. My current bedroom looks out to an alcove of brick and ivy that frames my view by becoming my view. Also, marijuana.
Who is your daddy and what does he do?
My dad is Scott Anderson, currently he is professor at northwestern’s medill school of journalism! Before that he was one of the first people to put news online and spent 20+ years working at the sun sentinel, tribune interactive and the Chicago tribune. He is also an incredibly intelligent person and has always challenged me and pushed me to better myself.

My mom is currently working as a social worker after having recently gotten her masters (woo, go mom!). She is one of the hardest working badasses I know.

Both my parents are almost as radical as me and they definitely make it known/ do work to change The world. They are both extraordinary people who have sacrificed so much to provide a good life for my brother and me. I can see them and their influence in me every day and I am so thankful for that 🙂
Who are you?
I’m Corey! I’m pretty queer, I like dresses and pretty colors but god damn do I also like my beard!
What do you do?
Hopefully I work towards radical change through transformative justice and in providing a space for discussion and support of other necessary movements such as the abolishment of prisons and police.  I also play music and do arts and stuff
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Oh gosh, pretty much anyone actively and openly working against white male supremacy!
Where are you going?
To walk this next dog
Where did you just come from?
Walking the last dog
Where are you right now?
Walking a dog
Who is Vashti Bunyan?
I have no clue! Be right back, gonna google!
Okay so I can’t relay all the information I have just learned but she is apparently considered the godmother of freak folk. She recorded and wrote an album called Just Another Diamond Day that was released without much success. Apparently she was discouraged and left the music industry. Over time her work found an audience and she re entered the music industry and now has had “success”.
And now I need to listen to all her music.
Ps I used Wikipedia…..so I’m probably missing the radical/less commercial shit she did
Pps Plus, you always find a way to educate!
TELL me some impressions of the other performers?
Well, the very first thing is a presentation on anti gentrification movements and how to unionize as a tenan/fight against landlords. Then, it’s +, who has inspired me in I don’t know how many ways and is always a treat to hear/be in the presence of! Then it’s me! Then, Evasive Backflip, that bad ass band I sometimes play in, with that incredibly versatile sound. First time I heard them I said, imma play with them. Then I did. Last up is piss piss piss Moan Moan Moan! Oh boy not only is their music awesome but the band members are incredibly kind people. Tiger in particular has always been someone I look up to because of how accepting and open they are!
Overall I picked these bands for this show because they have all inspired and influenced me in overtly positive ways! That being said I was bummed I couldn’t include even more people, but there is always next time.
Why are you still going?
Because it’s not time to stop yet.
What does a free world look like to you?
This one’s tricky because I don’t think I’ll ever see a free world and so it is hard for me to flesh out the details of a free world. I think our society is entrenched in anti-freedom, that is to say we have people, systems, and ideas constantly working against freedom. Anti-freedom is not inherintly human though, it’s just we have a long history of oppressive systems being interwoven into our collective and individual consciousness. The economy is one of these systems and it is dependent on inequality. It is treated as an integral and inseparable part of humanity, but it’s not inseparable. It only has an extraordinarily long lineage and broad reach that gives the illusion of inseparability.
So, a free world has to be a separation of people and these ideas and systems of oppression. To do that though we will have to match in our efforts the longevity and ferocity of those systems. Planting seeds of freedom just as those in the past planted the seeds of anti-freedom.

I won’t ever see this world, but I know it’ll exist one day.