Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Try A Little Tenderness

'Say Something Nice On The Internet' sprang forth from Emily McCombs of who proposed that February 29th be a day of positivity online (and in real life also!)

"Being insulted is just par for the course when it comes to participating in online culture.
It's happens to all of us: Like when Lesley's piece about sexism in video gaming made it to the front page of Digg and inspired a flood of comments on the relative fatness of her hands, when I write about rape, or when Cat writes about pretty much anything. I suspect that a barrage of direct, immediate and viscous criticism will in the future just be part of the deal when it comes to being a writer.

But it's not just writers who are affected. Anyone who has ever posted a photo, video or comment anywhere online has probably had the experience of having their appearance, life choices and perceived character flaws announced, dissected and harshly judged. And look, it's OK to disagree with one another. xoJane in particular is devoted to a diversity of opinions. But I find it hard to believe that all this knee-jerk nastiness contributes in any way to public debate.
We're not suggesting that everyone be nice all the time, no matter what. After all, the admonition "Be nice" has been used throughout history to keep women quiet, polite and compliant. But so many of the nasty comments leveraged online relate directly to tearing down women -- our appearances, our sexuality, our choices. And while we advocate criticism and debate and the calling out of wrongness wherever you may find it, deliberately tearing people down through personal attacks and cruelty is not making anything better."

When i see people tearing strips off each other online (I'm not talking about intelligent, measured debate but rather the more typical examples of personal attack) I always wonder would you say that to somebody directly? When it comes to online activity I adhere to one simple principle: If i wouldn't say it to someones face, then i sure as shit ain't going to type it or hide behind a computer screen.
I don't know a single person who isn't wracked by self doubt or loathing at times; for others it's a permanent state of being. My friends are wonderful, kind, loving, generous people but they usually spread the love to those around them rather than themselves. In the spirit of 'say something nice', I sat down and identified five things i like about myself. 

Let's just say it's interesting and not the easiest of exercises but I wholeheartedly encourage you to try it out!
A lil' self love:

1) I am honest. By that I mean I think about, examine and then communicate my 'how/why/needs/wants' to those I interact with and to myself. Some people are repelled by it but it's a useful litmus test!

2) I am sensitive. Not so long ago i would have marked this as a negative but I've learnt to embrace it as an asset. It plays a big part in who i am.

3) I have a scar at the side of my mouth or i like to call it half a Chelsea smile! It gives my lips a distinctive curve.

4) I'm courageous. I've taken some big risks. some have paid off, some have not. This does not deter me from continuing to do so.

5) I'm a dab hand at baking and my gluten free dark chocolate and raspberry brownies have brought more than one person to their knees.

Spread the love on Twitter with the hashtag #saysomethingnice
To read more:

Monday, February 27, 2012

On The Verge

"Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool. "

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lepus Luna

I discovered Amy Duncan when she left a comment on my interview with Emil Amos of Holy Sons, Grails and Om. Duncan is a painter, illustrator and a tattoo artist at Chapel Tattoo in Melbourne, Australia. She has also been taking classes in botanical illustration. Her tattoo work is distinctive but her latest venture has really caught my eye.

Amy and her husband Shaun, a photographer, writer and musician have created a company called Lepus Luna. In their own words it "is a space we've created for exploring and sharing the art we make both individually and together, and with time will also become a space for sharing work by others we admire".

To date Lepus Luna have released two limited edition prints of Amy's work. The first was 'La Louve' a strictly limited first edition of 23, made using Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment inks on 100% cotton rag Hahnemühle paper. All hand signed and numbered in gold pencil with embossed seal on the bottom left corner, and hand-painted metallic gold highlights on the bell and third-eye jewel. 

The second features a tiny botanical illustration of a young Amanita muscaria mushroom, is now available. These prints are 148 x 197mm in size (5 7/8 x 7 3/4"), and printed with Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment inks on 100% cotton rag Hahnemühle paper. An ultra smooth rag was used so even the finest of details can be reproduced, and the prints are hand-signed at the bottom right with graphite pencil. 

To find more from  Lepus Luna and to see more of Amy's artwork:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


“No real social change has ever been 
brought about without a revolution - 
Revolution is but thought carried into action. 
Every effort for progress, for enlightenment, 
for science, for religious, political, and 
economic liberty, emanates from the minority, 
and not from the mass.” 

Emma Goldman

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


In the spirit of the day that's in it and for your reading pleasure, below is one of my favourite interviews with Poision Ivy and Lux Interior of The Cramps detailing their first meeting and subsequent decades long romance. They spoke to Nicholas Barber for The Independent and the piece was published in May 1998

Image of Ivy: Kimigo

POISON IVY: We were both studying art at Sacramento State college in the early Seventies. It was a very strange art department in Sacramento at that time, too, because the whole student population was made up of hippies, and they were into witchcraft and metaphysics and everything else. We met up in a class called Art and Shamanism. The textbook for that class was called The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, and the subject of that book is how the real topic of the Bible is the Amanita muscaria mushroom and that Christ is a metaphor for this magic mushroom. The kind of instructors we'd have would say: "I haven't seen you in class for a while, what grade d'you want?" And we'd say, "Well, I guess an 'A' ", and they'd say, "Okay." So those were crazy times. It was just a very loose, very unique situation, and we met in that environment. We met in a very free way, and we fell in love very quickly.

I'd just started college, and one day I was hitchhiking back from the campus to my apartment, when Lux and a friend of his gave me a ride. I'd seen him around the campus, and I thought he was extremely exotic. He would have these pants and each leg of the pants was a different colour. That kind of thing fascinated me. Because it was the beginning of the new term, we had catalogues to see which classes we were going to take, so we were comparing to see if we'd be in any classes together. It turned out that we were, and that's where our real meeting began.

I was sitting in the Art and Shamanism class when I saw Lux walking in. It was a very large class, too, because everybody knew the teacher got high, and I was sending out psychic brainwaves of, like: "Sit by me! Sit by me! Sit by me!" And he did. He came straight to me and sat next to me. We were making small talk and I said, "It's my birthday", and he pulled a drawing out of his portfolio and gave it to me as a birthday gift right then. It was a female figure, but it was very abstract expressionist. It had a lot of physical energy that I can't describe in words.I don't know if it was past lives or what, but I felt like I'd known him all my life. It wasn't like we'd just met. We were just together constantly, and we were pretty much out of our minds constantly, to be honest. We didn't come to the surface for quite a long time.

In certain astrology, both regular astrology and Chinese astrology, there's some things that say that Lux and I, we shouldn't be together, and the reason is that the function of the astrology was to maintain social order. It had to do with arranged marriages and how a certain man would belong with a certain woman because it would fit in with the social order and they wouldn't cause trouble. And combinations that they said were bad, it didn't mean that they wouldn't get along or wouldn't enjoy each other's company; what it might mean is they'll start a revolution or that they'll cause trouble or that they'll set things on fire. I think we're definitely the kind of pair that they would have tried to keep apart, because together we cause a lot of upheaval. From our point of view, it's creation. We're creating things.

We're not married. I don't know what you'd call what we are. We're deeply in love and feel like we've been together for more than this lifetime, but we're not aware of any particular ritual that would consecrate it in a way that makes sense to us. We sure don't need to make it any kind of institutionalised situation. Nature upholds our bond.

There's not anything that we deny each other. I'll always hear somebody say, "Oh, I'd like to buy that but my wife would kill me", or vice versa, and I'm, like, "God, what is that?" We don't feel that either one of us has any right to say anything about the other's needs. We just have to trust that person and what that person is entitled to. Fortunately, we happen to like a lot of the same things, but even if we didn't, that shouldn't matter. We're both real free-thinkers. We're nice to each other. There's all those reasons why we're together, but I think it's also karmic. We're karmically entwined.

He's easy to love. He's someone I can get crazy with, I knew that about him right away. I thought: "Oh boy, what's gonna happen now? Something exciting!" It's still happening.

Image of Lux: Ray Stevenston

LUX INTERIOR: First time I saw her she was walking down the street, hitch- hiking, and she was wearing a halter top and short shorts with a big hole in the ass with red panties showing through. I was with this other guy, a friend of mine, and we both just went, "Who-o-o-oh!" We pulled over and I think I had a hard-on about three seconds after I saw her.

It was 1972, and we were at Sacramento State college, although saying it was a college is stretching it a bit. You'd get credit for going there and everything, but it was just a bunch of weirdoes. It was crazy. Half the teachers were just fucking the students and getting paid for it. It was really a great time, those days. Really a creative environment.

We had to register for our classes and we had this pamphlet in the car that told you what classes you could take, and one was called Art and Shamanism. I remember I said: "What is shamanism?" She explained it to me, and I thought, boy, that sounds pretty interesting, I think I'll take that. And then when I showed up for that class she was there.

I remember the first day of that class, the teacher had us all sit around in a circle on the floor and hold hands. It was some kind of weird exercise, some mumbo-jumbo crazy cult thing where there was supposed to be energy which would fly around clockwise, and then he made it go counter-clockwise. It was great, it really worked, but just holding hands with her I felt about a thousand times the energy that I was getting from him.

She's incredibly beautiful, that was the first thing I noticed. And then when I talked to her she was incredibly smart, too. We just had a bond. A week and a half, maybe two weeks later we started living together. We just couldn't hardly stand to be away from each other. People would even tell us: "That's not right, it's not healthy, you guys shouldn't be spending all your time together." And they tell us that to this day.

It was a while on before the group actually happened. All my life I'd been to see rock'n'roll bands, but I'd never quite been in one myself until I met her. I remember her saying, "Well, we should do that", and I'd say, "Well, yeah, I guess we could do that", and she'd go, "Of course we could do it!" I think we just talked each other into it. Sometimes you have friends and they'll talk you out of doing things. They'll say: "You? Oh yeah, sure." But the same thing can happen, you'll meet someone who'll talk you into doing things, too. If I hadn't met Ivy I might just still be going to rock'n'roll shows.

She's really courageous and she's really smart. At first, when we started out we just wanted to have fun and we didn't want to have anything to do with the business part of all this band stuff, but every time we've tried to have somebody manage us it's been some kind of a bad experience, so she's taken over managing the band and she really does it great. That's why the Cramps are still around after all this time, because she cares about it and she's capable of unbelievable acts.

This is our dreamchild or something, this is something that we make and we do together, and we're real protective of it. And we're also appreciative of the fact that we invented this thing called the Cramps, and from that has sprung a subculture of people all over the world, and we feel we're representative of them. We take that real seriously. We've thought about having children before, but we've always been so busy doing this, and this seems more important to us. We have three cats and we can't even stand to leave them to go on tour. So I don't know how we'd deal with a child.

We're different in a lot of ways. I tend to fly off the handle and go crazy and start screaming and she tends to be a bit wiser and calmer and more patient than I am - before she starts going wild, too. I think she's a lot classier than I am, but I think I've gained a lot of class from her. It's hard to figure out how we're different because we're together all the time and we always do everything together. In a way it's kind of one thing, me and her, but she's also very much an individual and very strong. She grows like a tree. She's faceted like a diamond. There's a million sides to Ivy and I just love all of them.

Monday, February 13, 2012

We Recognize Our Own Kind

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing......Only I will remain."

The Litany Against Fear -  Frank Herbert

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Peas in a Pod

This week I've been mostly...obsessing over Shannon Shaw's voice.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Hit the Iron Bell

Move over Dan Savage (of Savage Love). A soon to be unveiled author currently writing as 'Sugar' for The Rumpus has been providing insightful, witty and often brilliant advice in response to reader emails. His/Her identity will be unveiled next Tuesday on February 14th. One of my favourite pieces to date is #41: Like an Iron Bell. After reading this a few weeks ago i thought to myself 'Yes, yes, a hundred times yes'. I've picked out some of the highlights below but the full column is worth reading.

Dear Johnny,
The last word my mother ever said to me was love. She was so sick and weak and out of her head she couldn't muster the “I” or the “you,” but it didn't matter. That puny word has the power to stand on its own...My mother’s last word to me clanks inside me like an iron bell that someone beats at dinnertime: love, love, love, love, love.

I suppose you think this has nothing to do with your question, Johnny, but it has everything to do with my answer. It has everything to do with every answer I have ever given to anyone. It’s Sugar’s genesis story. And it’s the thing my mind kept swirling back to over these five weeks since you wrote to me and said you didn't know the definition of love...The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it. 

Do you realize that your refusal to utter the word love to your lover has created a force field all its own? Withholding distorts reality. It makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-hearted. It makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of knowing what they actually feel.

So release yourself from that. Don’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word love to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.

We’re all going to die, Johnny. 
Hit the iron bell like it’s dinnertime.

To read the full letter and response (and to find more 'Dear Sugar') click here

Bell Image: PrindleStation

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Bangin' On The Dashboard

M.I.A returns with tires blazing and bhangra beats swirling, to vamp it up in the new video for 'Bad Girls'. Romain Gavras who previously directed her video for 'Born Free' shot this in Ouarzazate, Morocco. 'Bad Girls' was originally featured as part of M.I.A's 36 minute and free to download mixtape 'Vicki Leekx'. The mixtape was released at the end of 2010 and 'Bad Girls' is set to be the first single from her upcoming/as yet untitled album due  in summer 2012. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Franny's Last Ride

'WTF' is a podcast where comedian Marc Maron mixes a wide variety of topics like humor, religion, comedy, anger, philosophy and speaks with guests such as Jonathan Ames, Louis CK, Ira Glass and Conan O'Brien. The show has kept me entertained throughout numerous trips but i've still got a long way to go in terms of catching up on all the episodes (approximately 249 to date). I recently listened to to episode #130 where Marc sat down with the late Mike DeStefano to discuss the extraordinary circumstances that led to Mike becoming a comic. It's a really interesting piece to listen to, DeStefano led a life that some people makes movies about. However amongst the tales of growing up in the Bronx, his dealings with mafia 'wise guys', heroin addiction and resulting AIDS diagnosis; the part that really stood out was when he talked about his wife Fran and her death from AIDS (taken from part of his routine).

"...During her last days, she was in the hospice, and I had just gotten a Harley, my first Harley...So now she wants to see [the Harley]. I take her out; she wants to sit on it. I put her on it. She wants to start it up. Now she’s wearing a paper dress, she’s got her freakin’ morphine pole next to her, and she’s sitting on this Harley, and I’m worried about her burning her freakin’ leg off.

So she says (pleading voice), “Can you just take me for a little ride around the parking lot?” And I’m like, no, I can’t — I’m thinking, get the hell-And then it just hit me: I’m like, no, you have to, you’re in this moment, you have to do this motorcycle ride. You know? And it’s dangerous, and what if she falls? And what if one day I’m telling this story: “Yeah, my wife, she almost died of AIDS, but then I killed her on my Harley. She fell off and banged her freakin’ head.” That’s a messed-up story.

Then I pass the front door, and all these nurses are standing out front, and they’re all crying. They’re watching us, and they’re crying. And I didn’t know why they were crying. I was like, Why are they crying? I didn’t get what they were seeing. I didn’t know. Because I was just in it; I was living it. I knew my wife who had suffered, she was a prostitute, she was a freakin’ heroin addict, she was beaten by pimps — this was her past — and then she ends up with AIDS, and she’s dying, and all she wants is a goddamn ride on my motorcycle.

So the next thing you know we’re on I-95, because women, it’s never enough for them. We’re on I-95, and she unhooks the pole, and she’s holding the morphine bag over her head with her gown that’s flying up in the air so you could see her entire naked, bony body with the morphine bag whipping in the wind, and we’re passing by these guys in their Lamborghinis, and I’m looking at them like, What the hell kind of life are you living? Look at me, I’m on top of the world here. And that was the last thing I did with her. And I feel so blessed and lucky, you know what I mean? You can’t ask for a better moment and memory than that."

                       You can listen to the episode here on the WTF site (and access the other 248!)

Watch 'Franny's Last Ride' by Mike DeStefano below

Marc Maron Image: Seth Olenick
Mike DeStefano Image: Unknown
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