Thursday, July 24, 2008

Things and Whatnot

I've been away from here for nearly a week, but this time I have an excuse: kidney stones. Once again I'm weathering a bout of them, and as anyone who's ever experienced them knows, they are among the most painful illnesses anyone can encounter. In addition to totally immobilizing you at the first signs of attack because of the excruciating pain, which I have likened variously to having someone powerdrill through your lower back, plunge a knife repeatedly down the side of your groin, and inflate a portion of your stomach and intestines until they're near bursting, there's the matter of their passing out of your system. That is, if they do; if they don't, they have to be broken up, zapped, laser, sometimes even extracted. I've never had to endure any of these last few treatments, but I can say that there's no shortage of pain at any point. I think I'm past the worst part, but I probably will be posting only intermittently over the next week or so as I recover.


I've been intending to note the appointment of a new Poet Laureate of the United States. This year's new American lyric pied-piper is Kay Ryan, a native Californian who, as far as I know, has never been much of a public figure or a proselytizer for her art. Her brief, often wry, enjambed and rhymed, usually lyric poems, which have appeared in periodicals over the last four decades and in six collections, have many admirers, though until a few years ago, I don't think she received much recognition from the major contemporary critics. She has, however, been lauded by the Poetry Foundation and other arts institutions over the last decade. It'll be interesting to see what sort of approach she takes to the post; I've tended to think that the people appointed to this post really ought to have a history of working in at least a few different communities (and not just academic ones) and one or two concrete outreach plans for the post. The late Gwendolyn Brooks was an exemplary example. But that's just my take.


Thomas Disch, the 68-year-old polymathic speculative fiction writer and poet, died by his own hand a few weeks ago. I first learned about Disch's work via the writings of the one and only Samuel R. Delany, and though I've only read a few of them, I can agree with many of the appraisals that he was an extraordinarily smart man. I may be one of the few people who has read more of his poetry than his fiction, and though I'm not great fan of the poetry, he was certainly clever, and could combine dark subject matter with fixed forms sometimes to striking effect. His science fiction novels, however, which stood among the New SF work of the 1960s and 1970s, will remain his forte. Disch also produced notable work in other genres, including a computer novel, opera librettos, and children's literature, one of the last of which, The Brave Little Toaster, became a Disney film. According to the obituaries I've seen, he'd faced a series of successive traumas, including losing his partner, Charles Naylor, of many years; health and financial problems; and potential eviction from his New York home. He did, however, publish his final novel earlier this year, a satire entitled The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Random Photos

One of the waterfalls
One of Olafur Eliasson's waterfalls, from the R train (?) on the Brooklyn Bridge
Painting en plein air
A street painter, near City Hall Park
The Fountain Pen Hospital
The Fountain Pen Hospital!
Leo Villareal neon sculpture, Brooklyn Museum
Leo Villareal's "Chasing Rainbow," at the Brooklyn Museum
Kehinde Wiley painting @ the Brooklyn Museum
Kehinde Wiley's "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps," at the Brooklyn Museum
One of Olafur Eliasson's waterfalls
Another of Olafur Eliasson's waterfalls, from the vantage of FDR Drive

Friday, July 18, 2008

RIP Lindon Barrett + FISA + iPhonery + Miscellany

It's been a long while, more than a week, since I last posted (I've added my unfinished post from yesterday). It's not for want of things to post about, but a general lassitude and inability to muster the energy to write up things as well as add photos and hyperlinks.

Posting one-line entries isn't my thing, but far too many paragraph-length posts have died on the...cybervine? Or remain as ghost entries in the editing box. And so much has happened over the last few months too. So here go a few brief notes.


My sincerest condolences to the family, close friends, colleagues, and students of Lindon Barrett, a brilliant scholar, who, I'm sad to report, was recently murdered in his home. I posted the following on the CC list yesterday about Lindon, whom I met only once in person, in DC many years ago, but we did speak over the phone more than once and he never failed to offer sage advice or read a manuscript if needed when I had to call upon him.

I'm so sorry to hear of this horrible news. Lindon was so smart, a lovely man, and one of the important figures in the new generation of black and out LGBTQ scholars who've reshaped departments over the last decade and a half. His intellectual range was impressive. I worked with him a little bit in the early 1990s, and he was unfailingly helpful and kind. His tragic death is so saddening.

A member of his family has suggested donations to the Winnipeg Public Library in his memory, as he greatly loved books and literature, which his scholarly work testifies to.

There's also this Lindon Barrett tributes site, if you knew Lindon and would like to post some memories or kind thoughts about him. A terrible loss, for so many reasons.




Both Audiologo and Eileen posted in the comments section about how their Senators with the FISA vote last week, which left me so apoplectic I couldn't even post a denunciation. Both of my home-state senators also voted against the bill in its final, toxic form, and my Congressperson also voted against the House's version of this immunity giveaway. But as is now well known, and I gather forgotten (and forgiven?), the Democratic nominee Barack Obama not only voted for the bill but offered a series of insulting, distorted justifications for doing so. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out why he sold out on this, and I keep coming back to the idea that, as was the case with Bill Clinton with the first Bush-and-Reagan administration crime syndicate, he's decided that rather than investigate and prosecute the full range of violations by this current administration, he's going to take give them every pass to clear off the stage in the hope that he can start fresh and not look back. I would imagine that since figures in the Democratic leadership repeatedly acceded to or complied and colluded with the administration, and since it appears increasingly likely that Obama will be president, he's also decided that to ensure smooth relations with them--the leadership--he'll give them a free pass as well. It's all very disgusting, disillusioning, and par for the course, but we do end up with the governments we deserve, and until we create viable party options, particularly to the left, we will be stuck with the capitutionalist and collusionist Corporatocrats at the federal level. As I said, both of my Senators and my Congressperson did not fall in line, so it's not the entire party, but it must be noted that in the case of the former, neither one made any effort to filibuster, hold or in any other way obstruct the passage of this bill. Why?

Remember, the actions of the president were so grave that the extreme right-wing Attorney General John Ashcroft, on his sickbed, refused to sign on them; his deputy, James Comey, also refused to sign off; Comey contacted the head of the FBI and requested that authorities be stationed in Ashcroft's hospital room to keep a close eye on the actions of the president's henchmen, including the disgraced and now nearly unemployable Alberto Gonzales; both men and a number of other top officials Justice Department officials were threatening to resign en masse if the administration didn't stop what it was doing and adhere (more closely?) to the law. Learning what was behind all of this is only one of many reasons why I think the new FISA bill should never been passed, but there are many others, based on the text of the horrible bill itself. As Eileen points out, the ACLU has filed suit to prevent the law from taking effect, so let's see what happens, but cynically, I wonder if the courts will shelve it, and if Obama, when president, if he starts receiving the sort of extreme, biased and unmerited criticism that Clinton did, will see how far he can stretch its now tyrannical provisions.

The Strange Bedfellows Congressional accountability PAC is still seeking funding, so if you can contribute, please do so.


jottI was a little fascinated by the iPhone frenzy last week, but having joined in the iKlatsch last winter, when the price of the phones dropped considerably from their July 2007 launch prices, I was not going to seek an upgrade. After listening to C's caution about the 2.0 upgrade for the first generation phones, which proved a disaster for countless customers, I waited until Saturday morning to update my phone, and it went off without a hitch. Both old and new users have access to one of the best things Apple has devised yet, an application (app) store, which is easily accessible and has a sizable number of free and lowcost apps you can download swiftly and easily.

I downloaded about a half dozen, then ended up erasing most of them because I didn't need them on my phone, but as a result of my colleage Alex W.'s suggestion, I signed up for Evernote, which I haven't really figured out how to use yet but has the capability of translating any photographed text into printed text (sort of like an OCR scanner), and I also kept Jott, which allows dictaphone-style notes that a computer transcribes and then emails to you! I have used it a few times and it does work well, though I have to speak slowly and spell out words my accent usually mushes together. And best of all, both are free! Now I just have to figure out how to use them. One unpleasant side effect of the new upgrade, however, has been a more sluggish overall trend to the phone's operation. It's as if the new software added molasses to its circuits. I do sync it regularly, though, and back up my computer, because I learned the danger of not doing so a few years ago....


For the first time in a few years, I didn't watch this year's Major League Baseball All Star Game, which was played at the soon-to-be-destroyed Old Yankee Stadium. (I think I only voted once, online.) Or to be more accurate, I watched the introduction of the players, which the league switched up this year by including a tribute to past Hall of Famers and All Stars alongside the elected and appointed players, a nice but eventually boring touch, and then we went back to whatever C was watching. (I can't even remember what happened on half of what I've seen on TV this summer; it's all starting to blur together, save Life on the D-List with Kathy Griffin, which is unfailingly packed with ridiculousness, which is to say, hilarious). Those who know me well know that I am, or was, a longtime baseball fan; I used to memorize stats, read boxscores daily in the newspaper, and follow the on-field minutiae of various players I championed. But this season, as has been increasingly the case over the last few years, my interest has waned substantially. Part of it has been the ongoing doping-steroid scandal, which MLB, the Players Union, Congress, and the courts have all handled poorly. Part of it is, I think, my own personal maturity and a shift in interests, along with a general dwindling enthusiasm about most professional sports and athletes. Part of it is my recognition that in these incredibly difficult and uncertain economic times, most of the people on these teams are making millions of dollars per year, and many still want and crave more. And part of it is outrage at situations like the one Willie Randolph faced with the New York Mets' ownership and hierarchy. The net result is that while I do still check the box scores regularly, I've yet to attend a baseball game this season or watch a complete one on TV, and can go days without knowing whether the Cardinals or Yankees or any other team won or lost (that is, if I miss the late evening news sports wrap ups.) The All Star Game came and went; I barely recognized half this year's players--a sign I'm getting old and haven't kept up--and even when I learned that the American League had yet again won, thus giving that league's eventual champion the home field advantage in the World Series, I didn't bother to check the game's box score. I guess I really should try to catch a game in Yankee Stadium by the end of the year, though, since I haven't been there in years. As for Shea....


By this point last summer, I think I'd read about 4-5 books I'd had on my waiting shelf, but this year it's been slow going. I'm not sure, but I think I'm still trying to get up to gear. I have browsed a number of books for my work, and my little bookshelf at the library stays full with volumes for projects. One book I've been reading for pleasure is Nathalie Stephens's Je Nathanaël, which imagines and embodies the eponymous, absent assistant from André Gide's Les nourritures terrestres (The Fruits of the Earth) (L'Hexagone, 2003). Queer, hybrid and challenging its core, it's a lyrical text in which substitution and transformation in and as language repeatedly take form before one's eyes in the shifts between words, passages, forms, genres--languages. Stephens writes in both French and English, and has the mastery of both languages to draw as much out of both as possible. I've been studying and luxuriating in the book's French and thinking about how it differs from the English of Stephens's other works, but also considering how the deep(er) knowledge of the other language frees up hidden possibilities in English, how it colors and queers it. Here is one little passage, in French:

Entre deux mots le souffle.
Entre deux corps le chagrin.
Entre deux villes la douleur.
Entre deux voix le désir.

Entre nous le livre à feuilleter. (p. 59)

And, quite appropriately of Gide himself, and what he did write and couldn't in his era:

Je suis un livre qui a déjà été écrit.
Je suis le livre que personne n'ose écrire.

Qui es-tu Nathanaël? (p.65)

Who are you, Nathanaël, a question Gide asks of the assistant, but that Stephens raises reflexively, for the lyric's speaker, as the author, to the reader. Who are you?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From the Garden (Finished Post)

Passing Strange unfortunately is closing on July 20, 2008, so if you can, catch it! Spike Lee is going to film it on Saturday, so it ought to be available on DVD soon, but if you can, see it live!


Some photos of the garden's fruits:

A few days ago, a tomato and the first ripe blackberries and blueberries

Today, many more blackberries and a blueberry

An alpine strawberry (aka squirrels' desert)

Some of the ripe blueberries

More blackberries, ripe and unripe

Interestingly enough, the blackberries have provided an opportunity to watch evolution in action. We originally planted two different types of blackberry bushes, one thorned, the other not. I don't believe anyone told C or me that the former was hardier than the latter, but in any case we soon saw that the thorned bushes were more aggressive (and more capable of keeping away animals--those thorns are like tiny razors, I kid you not), though both plants kept growing and originally bore fruit. But we cut both back, and eventually the thorned ones have taken over. They have crept underneath and across the yard, underneath the fence and into our neighbor's yard, and are full of fruit. The thornless bushes have almost completely disappeared, and last year, were virtually fruitless. Which is unfortunately, because the fruit was just as good, and much easier to pick.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thanks, Democrats!



(click on the document to see a high-resolution version)

So what can you do?

You can visit this site, Blue America PAC vs. Retroactive Immunity, for more information on this horrible bill, and to donate money for a targeted campaign to oppose several of its most heinous Democratic enablers. So far, the PAC has collected over $200,000 from 4,000 donors. You can write, call or fax your Congressperson or Senator, and demand that she not support this bill, which will be put up for a vote tomorrow.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Review: Passing Strange

Working backwards through the weeks, I meant to finish an earlier stub about going to see the extraordinary Broadway musical play Passing Strange, which was my birthday gift from C, but rather than tag something onto the end of that, I'll try to restate it without covering a lot of the ground that numerous reviewers, on blogs and elsewhere, have already trodden. Its garland of nominations, for the musical play itself (because, really, it's nothing like most of the "musicals" you'll typically find on Broadway) and for its authors and actors, attest to its excellence, and having seen it and urged others to as well, I can testify that it's one of the freshest, funniest, liveliest, most provocative, smartest, and unforgettable musical stage pieces I've seen. The songs and the performances, by the entire cast, are still in my head weeks later, as is the underlying current of feeling, the riverbed of ideas and wit, that Passing Strange flows along. It's brightened my own work since I've seen it, and almost every creative person I know who's caught it talks about the sparks it's set off in them as well.

The musical dramatizes the trajectory, in vivid, song-filled tableaux, of the socially, culturally and aesthetically alienated Youth (an alter ego of the show's remarkable creator, author, lyricist, co-composer, and narrator, Stew [above, from], but played by Daniel Breaker), a native black middle-class Angeleno whose distinctive interests, musical and otherwise, set him apart, not only from other kids and members of the community, but from his mother (played by beautiful poet, playwright, singer, and actor--and CCite--Eisa Davis, in a superb performance). Or to describe it better, Youth's non-stereotypical interests, in rock music in particular, match those of many young black kids, only we rarely see them portrayed on the stage, especially in the sort of public forum Broadway affords. After engaging in other aspects of youth, like sex, drugs, and dreaming of becoming a musician and getting far away from home and finding himself, Youth flees (escapes) due east--beyond the prison of middle-class expectations and respectability that have, we learn, constrained his mother's and other in the community's dreams, and beyond the ocean, literally--landing in liberal Amsterdam, and then Berlin, whose ideological extremes are show here to great comic effect, where he interacts with various kooky characters who are richly depicted by the same actors who play his first set of adolescent friends and antagonists: De'Adre Aziza, Colman Domingo (who also appears on Logo's Big Gay Sketch Show), dreadlocked Chad Goodridge, and Rebecca Naomi Jones. Wherever Youth goes, singing, dreaming, wrapping himself in irony and paper-thin confidence, searching for his authentic self and holding moments of emotional reckoning at bay, he conveys in marvelous songs what he's going through, though in Berlin, in hilarious, ironic fashion, he tries to gain currency from the sort of stereotypical identity he's been resisting all his life. Youth also is searching for family, his correct and true family, and the musical suggests that one's blood, at the end, is as important as constructed ties. Ultimately, Youth tragically realizes this too late, though in one of the most incredible scenes, Narrator (Stew) and Mother, from her grave, reconnect, and their plangent exchange, lands right in the center of your heart. "It's all right," Mother says, in what could have been a pat and flat resolution, but Stew repeats it, the two of them going back and forth until not only Stew, but you the spectator, believe them, and him. Yet the final note isn't just one of foregiveness, but of acceptance. Stew's mother had thought his quest was just a "passing phase," but as she and he both come to see, it's the truth of his life, and art, and that acknowledgement grounds the story in truly moving moment of truth.

In recitative fashion, the scenes comprise sets of songs that permit all of the performers opportunities to shine, in singing, acting, and, often enough in dancing, and they do. The afternoon we went, not a single cast member failed to touch the stars at some point, though Stew, Daniel Breaker, and Eisa each blew me away. Stew's guitar-playing and singing left me speechless more than once; the stocky, bespectacled Narrator, in addition to a stage natural's timing, has a voice to outshine almost any of the major rockers out there, and the show offers him many opportunities to showcase not only his singing and acting, but also his gifts as a songwriter and dramatist. In another world, this man might have been a major musical superstar. Breaker could have disappeared in Stew's shadow, but he succeeds in making Youth feel like both a parallel and a separate character. And Eisa! In addition to lighting up the stage when she's on it, her final scene with Stew was one of the musical's show-stoppers. You could probably map out the story's plot points after the first few songs, but Stew and co-composer and co-orchestrator Heidi Rodewald surprise again and again with the complexity of their writing, particularly in terms of lyrics, their knowledge and use of musical styles, and the integration of the funky, spunky music and drama. My musicological knowledge is minimal, of course, but I found so many of the songs' melodies and hooks more infectious, and certainly more creative, than the vast majority of what passes for popular music these days. The incisiveness, breadth and wit of the lyrics' references was also a wonderful surprise--these are some smart folks!--but it was never pretentious. (Even the show's title, which is explained in the accompanying Playbill, demonstrates this.) Instead, Stew's existential plight, rather than being merely enacted, is discursively--and lyrically--created before your eyes and ears.

What also ensures and furthers the musical's achievement is the inventiveness of the staging: using a minimal set with props, with a spaceship-like wall of multicolored, endlessly combinable neon lights as the rear wall, and bassist Rodewald, keyboardists Jon Spurney and Christian Gibbs, and drummer Christian Cassian on risers at the stage's corners, every scene strikes not only the right chord, but often a delightfully unexpected and novel one. One set of lights flare when Stew is in Amsterdam, another mark the passage and arrival in Berlin, and throughout, in coordination with the music, acting, and dancing, they help to create the rock-inflected, existential world Stew aims to portray. I left very thankful that C and I'd had the opportunity to see the show, but also with renewed faith about the possibilities for musical theater, and, dare I say it, Broadway. After the show, C suggested we say hello to Eisa, and we went backstage, got to praise most of the show's actors, and then spend a few minutes speaking with Ms. Davis. (Photo below). I heard recently that Spike Lee is going to film Passing Strange, but I recommend seeing it before the cast changes or...well, let's just hope that Mr. Lee in his groove when he's shooting this one. Thank you, C, and to the entire cast and crew of Passing Strange, thank you as well!

With Eisa Davis

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Rachid Taha @ SummerStage

So few posts, I know...but perhaps by mid-July or later I'll be back at least half-speed. These days it's all I can do to hammer out a sentence here (let alone a paragraph) before I can the entry and say, maybe tomorrow....

But since I've started, let's see how far I can get.


First, two recent brilliant students I worked with have launched a blog, The Unplanned Adventures of Mir Mir and Bess. (I know them by their given names, which I imagining the rest of the world will soon enough, given their talent, inventiveness, and vision as young authors.) They're on a post-graduate, unplanned cross-country tour that so far has taken them through various cities and towns in the midwest and west, and to attractions both well known, like Four Corners (where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona meet), and thankfully less so, like the "Garden of Eden" in Kansas that features a barbed wire collection (!), and a creepy stuffed two-headed calf. That is, when they're not speeding down deer-laden, pine tree-lined mountain roads to catch sunrise at the Grand Canyon's north rim. I'm looking forward to the rest of their adventures, particularly in California and the deep South, though I imagine their distinctive takes on every place they visit--like trash cans in Las Vegas resembling "daleks" proving that the city is "evil"--will continue. Be safe and have a great time, M & E!


It's been years since I went to a Summerstage concert (the last one I really remembered paired Mos Def and De La Soul--was that before 2001?), but Tisa suggested we catch raï-rock superstar Rachid Taha yesterday, and so we tromped through the rain over to Central Park's Rumsey Fairground and caught what I thought was a sizzler. Yes, Taha appeared unsteady on his feet and teetered at the edge of the stage shortly after he finished his first song. Yes, someone we ran into at the event told us that he had had to be revived, with several hearty splashes of water, for a performance. Yes, he had trouble holding the microphone at one point and expelled several streams of spit in various directions. Yes, the rain showers came and go But when it came to the songs, he was on it. But I'll get to Taha in a minute.

The two intro bands, especially the first, were well worth the trip. Apollo Heights, a group that's been around for two decades, opened first, and I though I'd heard of them during the first Afropunk festival a few years ago, catching them live was a revelation. (Why don't I attend more live concerts?) Playing new pieces as well as songs from their CD, White Songs for Black People, the band, which comprises Danny Chavis (lead guitar), Marvin Levy (drums), Hayato Nakao (bass/programming), Monk (Brother Earth) (3rd guitar), Honeychild Coleman (rhythm guitar), Daniel Chavis (lead vocals), Micah Gaugh (backing vocals, keyboard), and Damali Young (guest drums), set the afternoon off like a round of firecrackers. I was too busy taking photos and trying not to sink into the muddy turf to take notes, but song after song, and especially "Christine," with its drawn out cadences and heavy drone, made an impression, and by the end of their moody, melodious set, I really wanted to hear a lot more. (iTunes or Lavamus!) The second band, Dengue Fever, from Los Angeles, mixes Cambodian pop and lyrics with rock, and while interesting enough, they went on a bit long. I loved lead singer Chhom Nimol's voice and the band's grooves for the first few songs, but after about 6 or so of the songs featuring jumpy B-52-style beats, I was ready for M. Taha.

And then there he was! Bearing a cigarette like a talisman, shambling across the stage as if unsure of where he was, and belting out song after song like a true pro, with breaks from the singing, dancing and posing taken up by his slurping down some sort of yellow-greenish liquid and fiddling with his pants at the back of the stage. He had the entire crowd hopping in short order, so much so that by the time we left, it looked like I'd crossed a mudpatch. But it was great hearing "Habina," "Kelma," "Ecoute-Moi Camarade," and many other hits, as well as one of his most famous and beloved songs, his cover of the Clash's "Rock the Casbah"--"Rock el Casbah," which he ended the concert with, on the best note. My lower body is still sore from all the dancing. Below are some photos from the day. When I post some videos of YouTube, I link one here.

Crowd at Summerstage
The crowd at SummerStage yesterday
Taha fans, with Algerian flag
Some of Taha's fans, with Algerian flag
Excited crowd at Taha performance
The crowd
Rachid Taha
Taha performing
Taha crooning
Dengue Fever
Dengue Fever performing, with lead singer Chhom Nimol at left
Lead singer for Apollo Heights
Apollo Heights' lead vocalist Daniel Chavis
Honeychild Coleman, Apollo Heights
Honeychild Coleman, Apollo Heights
Apollo Heights on stage
Apollo Heights

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Away from Blogging + FISA Mess + Cauleen Smith's The Fullness of Time TONIGHT!

It's been a while, I know. I've been recuperating, writing, reading, wending my way to the library, wrangling with grant applications and budgets, trying to wrap up lingering threads from the school year, and so forth, and while my interest in blogging never wanes, my ability to do so often dwindles to intent without action. (I have some stubs from the last week I'll try to fill in.)

I do browse others' blogs, though, and continue to be inspired by the rich range of voices, thoughts and ideas, approaches, and skills out in the blogosphere. The media like to portray blogs as nothing more than digital diaries, and bloggers (still-sigh!) as unwashed narcissists, but the reality is that some of the freshest, most interesting writing I come across across a range of topics, but especially on the political front, exists on blogs. The establishment media, especially the people who are affiliated with print publications and TV, long ago ceded the sharpest critical acumen to netizens, though you'd never guess that if you took the mainstream punditocracy appraisal of blogging at face value. I don't, and ceased to long ago. And I know I'm not the only one.


The FISA bill shenanigans aren't over yet. The Democratic-led Senate, after giving George W. Bush all he hoped for and more with this horrible excuse for a bill, has postponed a vote on the bill until after July 4, 2008.

As I wrote before and also posted on the CC list, anyone and everyone can contact the Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign directly at:

1 (866) 675-2008 [Dial 6, then 0, on the menu] (They do pick up quickly.)

I've called and I urge others to do so as well. If you have or intend to support him, please call his campaign, let it know you are or will be a supporter and then register your strong disapproval against his position that this horrible bill is a "compromise" deserving of his vote. If you do not support him but also do not support the Republican Party's delight that this bill is on the verge of being passed, please let his campaign know this as well.

There is no reason for him to support this bill unless he believes it's a good idea. He has previously said he does not support telecom amnesty, and he's said that he does not support warrantless wiretapping of Americans. The former would kill pending civil lawsuits, while the latter, which is likely illegal, would be quashed So why is he supporting this bill? Tell him that you think it's a bad idea.

If you're an Illinois resident, you can contact his Senate offices at:

1 (202) 224-2854 / Fax: (202) 228-4260

And if you can contact all the other Senators at the following Congressional toll-free numbers. You just ask to be connected to your Senator:

1 (800) 828-0498
1 (800) 459-1887
1 (800) 614-2803
1 (866) 340-9281
1 (866) 338-1015
1 (877) 851 - 6437

Several Senators, including New York's senior Senator, Chuck Schumer, have now stated that they'll oppose this horrible legislation. Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold has called it "capitulation" to Bush. Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, who'd previously promised to filibuster it, has said he'll again consider filibustering it. But Barack Obama is now the leader of the Democratic Party, and he could quash this monster if he dared. So he needs more pressure. Apply it, please.


Cauleen Smith's The Fullness of Time is at screening tonight at The Kitchen in NYC.

Tisa says:
You must try to come see Cauleen Smith's new film, Tuesday, July 1,
at the Kitchen, for FREE.

I met Cauleen while she was filming DRYLONGSO in Oakland, CA, back of the day, and realize now that certain folks in her creative community at that point became the nexus for some of my most enduring Bay Area friendships.

Anyway, I'm so down with the Afrofuturists (bump postmodernity), and supporting Cauleen's work...

Audiologo writes:

This coming Tuesday, July 1st, Cauleen Smith, one of my favorite filmmakers is coming to town to premier her latest work THE FULLNESS OF TIME at the Kitchen in NYC at 8pm. Afterwards there will be a discussion with Cauleen and Executive Producer Paul Chan.

I got to program Cauleen's work back in the day when I was running the Women of Color Film and Video Festival in Santa Cruz. She was brilliant and singularly visioned even back then. Having started out as a visual artist and set designer, filmmaker/writer Smith has a wonderful sense of story, and an amazing eye for color and light.

She has a feature film to her credit, DRYLONGSO, that starred Will Power and a number of artists from the Oakland, California area. It's one of the rare films to present an intelligent portrayal of young black people, and a black female artist, that also deals with questions of race, gender, cultural access, violence, class, and intergenerational dynamics, and even budding romance. The casting and acting is spot on, and similar to the complex issue-filled work of Charles Burnett, the film excels as a piece of cinema. Since then she's returned to her roots in more experimental narrative fare, and has continued to make compelling art.

This latest work concerns Cauleen's ongoing futurist explorations (she's a founding member of Carbonism, a post-Afrofuturism arts ethos) with the story of "sister-from-another-planet" who has traveled to Earth to learn about its way and lands in post-Katrina New Orleans. Smith shot the work in New Orleans and collaborated worked with New Orleans resident poet/educator Kalamu ya Salaam and the Students At the Center group.

I would go a long way to see a film by Smith even if it was just about snaking a drain, so I'm definitely going to see this. If you're in the area I hope to see you there. For more info, see the attached flyer.

These are two folks to listen to. I won't be able to catch it, but I hope it'll be screening again in NYC. (Or Chicago.) Soon.