Thoughts

Make It Count

There’s a lot of things about this world that are really awful, depressing, and disappointing, what’s most upsetting is human behaviour and human beings. All the same, we must be grateful and glad to be here, to exist at all, to have this chance to define ourselves, to contribute what we can, to be a part of the force of light and goodness and change. We need to transcend sadness, depression, disappointment and anger, and move forward into acceptance, acknowledgment and awareness in order to discover and develop our real strengths so that we can speak in a stronger voice, convey a deeper love, and create with a more unbreakable heart. We need to both let go and to hold on. The world isn’t good and human beings are terrible, but the world is also beautiful, and humans are an immutable part of that beauty. We are human and we are here. It’s up to us to make that count.

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Conversation

Yummy Yummy Yummy

We’re torn about what to put on my gravestone. The frontrunners are “It’s ​s​tupid” and “Fucking ​bullshit.” It has been brought to my attention that I complain a lot, and my complaints begin with either one of those instant condemnations, usually the one follows the other, like lightning.​​ I pretty much wake up saying that shit and then I make it rain complaints. “Yummy ​yummy ​yummy​ ​in ​my ​bummy” is apparently another ​close contender. “Because​ for some godforsaken reason,” said Dylan, “you like to say that too.”

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Portrait

Mambabatok

Whang-od Oggay is a tattoo artist from Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Philippines. She is the last practitioner of Mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattoo) from the Butbut Kalinga Malay Peoples and at 100 years old is one of the oldest working tattooists. Her ink is composed of a mixture of charcoal and water that is tapped into the skin through a thorn end from a Calamansi or Pomelo tree. When naysayers challengingly ask what a tattooed person will look like when they grow old, Whang-od is living proof that the answer is fucking beautiful.

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Portrait

Cuddle Monster

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Meet MacGyver, a 4-year-old Argentine red tegu lizard from California, who may be the most popular lizard on Earth. This oversized adorable reptile has almost 200,000 followers on Instagram, 50,000 followers on YouTube and even has a LinkedIn page. Every day, thousands of people admire pictures and enjoy videos of MacGyver eating, going for walks, helping out with tasks, meeting new people, making friends, having baths, taking selfies, giving kisses and, most importantly, cuddling. MacGyver loves to cuddle.

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Vignette

Just Dudes

Afterward the two interviewers joined the rest of us downstairs on the patio for a pitcher and something to eat. I don’t know how the subject came up but during conversation one of them said, “Well this one time, I went to these guys’ house and they were gay. But they were just hanging out. They were like. Just dudes.” I gazed at the speaker, my expression mild, expecting more. “They were… just dudes,” he said again, as if the repetition more conclusively clarified his train of thought and beefed up his thesis. I don’t know if this guy expected to in all gay company be immediately imprisoned inside a semen-drenched enclave helplessly confronted by a swirling cesspool of seething testicles and permanently erect penises flying ramrod and relentless into every male available mouth and anus visibly in range and line of sight or what, but he seemed to be recalling the actual experience now, reliving the unexpected calm of it. He meanwhile didn’t seem to be aware that exactly two such “just dudes” were with pastoral elegance seated at the table with us all. “Ah yes,” I said finally. “‘Just dudes.’ Those would be the straight-looking-and-acting ones. One must watch for those.” And I grinned. I might’ve even winked. But in the silent secret fortress of my brain, I laughed out loud.

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Event

After the Storm

Lightning in a Bottle was fantastic. Kaytranada, Machinedrum, Bassnectar, Troyboi, Stephan Jacobs vs ill.Gates were the standouts. Ivy Lab was very outside the box, extremely left field and challenging, I described them in the moment as difficult and awesome. Big Wild was my favourite, he made me tremendously happy, his set was basically perfect. The only flaw with it all was that it was over too soon. Fastest fucking week of our lives. Some of the scheduling was tough with acts on at times that were impossible for us so sadly we missed KMLN, Filastine, Naughty Princess, El Papa Chango and Headphone Activist.

Also the late night offerings were confusingly poor. We trudged around helplessly for hours trying unsuccessfully to find a decent afterparty to take us to dawn while everything descended inexorably into house music. The house music was omnipresent and inescapable. At one point we traveled clear across festival grounds to escape bad house music only to be confronted with more bad house music. This isn’t meant to be some kind of diatribe against house music, but if it’s repetitive, forgettable, lifeless and boring, I’m not going to like it, I don’t care what genre of music it is. I’m starting to realize something I’ve known all along: what all these festivals is missing is me. Next time ill.Gates and NIGHT NURSE gotta go rogue. Ideally we should play the final hours and close out the party. End on a high note with nostalgia for the future and a touch of heartbreak.

We met a handsome hippie hipster and shared our wine with him, exchanging jokes and quips in the dark until the warm brightness of morning. Our new friend was one of Dylan’s fans and spoke knowledgeably about Dylan’s Billie Holiday song. He then talked fondly of his mother who was a nurse, I said it’d be fucking rad to have a goddamn mother who was a fucking nurse. “It’s awesome,” our new friend said. “She is amazing, really good, hardworking, loving, and with a smile that could melt an iceberg.” “Well we know now who to blame for global warming,” I said. “Wipe that smile off your face, woman. Snow, damn it, we need snow!”

The festival overall was an incredibly special experience with many wonderful moments. Thank you Lightning in a Bottlethat was beautiful.

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Art

Solar Egg

Solar Egg is an enormous elegant eggshaped woodburning sauna by Bigert & Bergstrom. The project is part of an urban redevelopment effort in Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden. The egg has a height of five meters and can seat up to eight people. It is comprised of a pine wood interior and has highly reflective goldplated steel exterior panels that reflect the environment surrounding the sauna. In the center rests a heartshaped stove cast from iron. Solar Egg is a sculptural symbol meant to prompt thoughts of rebirth. The sauna occupies a key position in the arctic climate of Lapland and is intended as a room for warmth and reflection. It is an incubator that nurtures conversation and the exchange of ideas. When not in use, Solar Egg can be broken down into 69 separate components parts, rendering the entire sauna completely mobile.

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Art

Many-eyed Monster

“Choosing to create only beauty feels artificial. Thus I create both ugliness and the beautiful. You cannot sever the two. The expression that results is a natural chaos. I project anarchy, anxiety, the grotesque, the absurd and the irrational into my work. By doing so I attain harmony. This is my art. Put simply, I paint humanity (the spirit).” Daisuke Ichiba

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Poetry

Be Near Me

Be near me when my light is low
When the blood creeps and the nerves
Prick and tingle and the heart is sick
And all the wheels of being slow

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack’d with pangs that conquer trust
And time a maniac scattering dust
And life a fury slinging flame

Be near me when I fade away
To point the term of human strife
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.

In Memoriam A.H.H.” Part 50
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Art

Mirror House

Mirage is part of an art installation series called “Desert X” which features site-specific work by new and emerging artists curated by artistic director Neville Wakefield. As part of the exhibit, California-based artist Doug Aitken created a house of mirrors inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and the American West. Situated at the junction of the San Jacinto Mountains and the Coachella Valley, Mirage acts as a kaleidoscope to reflect and distort the surrounding arid and beautiful landscape.

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Excerpt

Pale Blue Dot

Look again at that dot. That’s home. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

Carl Sagan

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Vignette

Nicknames

One festival night after his set Dylan was immediately surrounded by fans. He accepted compliments, told jokes, took photos, hobnobbed, hi fived, smiled big and grinned. Then one young fan apologetically suddenly said, “Sorry man, I just came up with a new nickname for you, but I’m not sure I should say it.” “Well now you gotta,” said Dylan gamely. “It takes a lot to offend me, so go ahead.” The fan sighed self-consciously and stalled for time. Then he said, “Over-the-hill Gates” in such a muttering tone as to be almost inaudible. Nonetheless what the young fan said still managed to be heard loud and clear by everyone near. I stifled a laugh and turned my head slightly away. Dylan’s face darkened as he scowled. This is a sight to see since Dylan’s default facial expression is happy-go-lucky if not outright zany. Dylan was annoyed. “Sorry dude,” said the young fan, and he did look sorry, even though all of us were trying hard pretending to not be laughing. Later we told Bil Bless what happened and he also got a good laugh in. Nice to see Bil Bless laugh as he usually seems depressed. Months later at another festival, Dylan was smiling grand and effusive hanging out after his set feeling fresh. He chatted contentedly with friends. Out of the blue a guy came streaking by, leaned into Dylan and hectically said, “Over-the-hill Gates” and with a worried face he scurried away. Dylan’s face darkened as he frowned, he looked quickly left and right, but it all happened too suddenly and the culprit fast disappeared. Then Dylan spied Bil Bless nearby in the shadows chuckling. You could tell he put the kid up to it. “Wiseguy,” said Dylan with eyes like slits, and he shook his fist at all of it.

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Conversation

It’s an Asian Thing

It seems because I am of unknowable age, background, orientation, classification, type and identity—and possibly also because I am reasonably attractive, outwardly mysterious, unboxable and byzantine, people are always asking me questions. They won’t stop with the questions and they tend pretty much to believe anything I tell them for answers. People believe literally just any old shit that I might feel like saying. Especially when I pull the inviolable Asian Card, people motherfucking don’t bat eyes.

I told a guy while we smoked outside some small city club that I was the girl in all those incredible Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon tavern fighting scenes when I was just seventeen. He gaped at me and did the sputtery version of blinking. “You were amazing,” he intoned, all hushed and whispering. Wondering then what in the Sam goddamned Hill I was doing slouching about in a nameless city at some no-account bar, I said, “Field work.” As in I was researching the role for my next Asian stab at sensational cinema. All excitement and reverence, he glowed with understanding. I gave him my smile that is exactly like a wink but with no winking.

Many people believe too that David Suzuki is my father. They are every time respectful and awed. I tell them he may be a famous environmentalist to the world at large but he’s just plain old dad to me. Another person another time said I looked incredibly familiar. I said, “Ever heard of Miss Saigon.” Guy stared at me flummoxed and gobsmacked both. Casting my eyes demurely half away down and in a voice that is synonymous with a shoulder’s shrug I both tuneful and dismissive said, “No biggie.”

The best though is this whole my feet getting smaller and smaller thing. I used I swear to wear size 7 and now I’m barely filling out a size 5½. When I raise my bare foot high and people gaze perplexed at my living proof truth of this, I tell them it’s the complex work of genetic ancestral memory. I love to throw around the term “genetic ancestral memory.”

My elaborations go like this: “My Eastern rising sun genes can sense that my feet were never manually bound, so now genetic ancestral memory is just sort of kicking the motherfuck in. My genes are doing the binding for me. Amazing, right?”

People maintain their intent faces of captivated interest and careful astonishment but reveal usually still a strain of confusion. Timing it perfectly I gaze chastely forward into the future and declare, “It’s an Asian thing.” The collective expression upon all those beneficent faces goes, “Oh!” and all is understood, believed, swallowed beautifully white people whole and everyone wins. They’ve learned still more fascinating wisdom of the East remarkable Asia type stuff and I’ve amused myself once again to my usual highly improbable always extravagant often unforgivable degree.

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