After a disastrous experience with a horrible room mate, my gal pal Leigh had a celebratory picnic because she found a new, better one called Kerry! I did not know all of this because I gatecrashed the whole affair. Naturally though, I had an amaaaazing time (1. because Leigh is just splendid and 2. because gatecrashers generally have the best time) It was a day of wondrous gossip, trees, our very own Jack Johnson, champagne, kites aaaand cutie pie cupcakes and mini cheesecakes. Whaaaat! One of those days that just make you grateful for the opportunity to live a marvelous life.
Photos by Nigel McLean AKA Stick Boy AKA Bobbed Marley
Education is the most important thing for women to pursue aggressively as they continue their fight to be recognised for what they are: dynamic, vital, biologically heroic people. Men and women are the two wings of humanity’s bird, or perhaps pterodactyl. (I offer the pterodactyl as a metaphor because humankind is often terrifying, as demonstrated by this discussion’s necessity.) If the wings aren’t equally strong, the pterodactyl flies in circles, gets angry, slams into a tree and explodes. (Look it up.) Education is what’s most important, because it isn’t an opinion that women should have equal rights to men in every possible way; it’s a fact. Its acknowledgement is an indispensable ingredient in the recipe for the survival of our species. And facts are much easier to identify when you have an education, which is something that remains out of reach to this day for many millions of women around the world.
Women outnumber men on our planet. And women create life inside their bodies. Yet misogyny and sexism, whose twin engines are fear and ignorance, continue to exist. We must deprive them of their fuel and that begins by educating women and men. The good news is that women and men start out as girls and boys, who are more fun to be around. So take heart in how the most powerful political act you might ever commit is to read to a child. And kids love pterodactyls, so try to find a book about them.
- Rob Delaney (Follow him on Twitter. He makes me laugh every damn day.)
So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.
"How much of my brain is wilfully my own? How much is not a rubber stamp of what I have read and heard and lived? Sure, I make a sort of synthesis of what I come across, but that is all that differentiates me from another person?" — Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
This feeling is pretty much the bane of my existence.
“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee. Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favourite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow. Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the Winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colourful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Okay so I was viewer number 46, 415, 176 of the KONY 2012 video. Naturally, that number alone had me starting off with my hand on my hips (figuratively of course. Who stands and watches Youtube anyway) and my eyebrows raised pretty high. I mean, the average Youtube video is usually like 3 minutes long, what would have gripped over 45 million people enough to sit still for a 30 minute video about Uganda? Youtube’s biggest market is obviously to be found in the States and we know most American’s have no idea where Uganda even is. To start off with, I think it is wise to look at this campaign as a social media start up, an experiment in activism via social media rather than as a purely humanitarian mobilization.
When I started watching “Invisible Children”, the sentimentality and exaggerated I dunno like Americaness of it just put me off it instantly. I had to take breaks throughout the whole thing because it really is pretty cheesy if you ask me. Obviously though, cheesy works because this video went viral almost instantly. Basically, the video, which you can watch here, underscores the grisly atrocities of Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, which include the murder, rape, and abduction of tens of thousands of people over the past two decades. This has been occurring in Northern Uganda, The Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The film details Invisible Children Inc., a San Diego based NGO that launched the campaign in the interest of making Kony famous to stop him. The description on Youtube is “KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
I don’t quite know how I feel about pop culture setting precedents for international justice. As an awareness campaign, I think it is highly commendable in its efforts. But Taylor Swift is one of the “celebrity culture makers” enlisted to "help bring awareness to the horrific abuse and killing of children in Africa at the hands of Kony and his leadership". Umm okay. The list also featured 12 "policy makers" that have "the power to keep U.S. government officials in Africa" in order to work toward the capture of Kony. This list includes former U.S. President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Quick recent history lesson: the Bush administration pursued a policy of hostility to the International Criminal Court, which is a permanent international criminal court founded in 2002 by the Rome Statute to "bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind - war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide", especially when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. The U.S. is not a member of the ICC and ol’ Georg Dubbaya and his administration violently opposed joining on the basis that American citizens are going to be unfairly treated by the court. I guess it’s okay for all other citizens to receive bad treatment from the ICC since all of a sudden he is all for the court in the interests of persecuting Kony. Do you blame me for being critical of this campaign?
The good intentions of Invisible Children’s attempt are irrefutable and altruism is a beautiful thing BUT there are too many issues for me to start chanting STOP KONY and throwing my money at an NGO I know nothing about. Firstly, the presentation of the situation in Uganda is oversimplified and this is fucking dangerous. Kony is a dangerous man, but there are way more where he came from. Invisible Children basically reduced a 30 year history of Northern Uganda into a 30 minute documentary. The producers have recognized the critique that they oversimplified the issue and admitted that the film was meant to serve as an entry point to the topic. “In our quest to garner wide public support of nuanced policy, Invisible Children has sought to explain the conflict in an easily understandable format, focusing on the core attributes of LRA leadership that infringe upon the most basic of human rights. In a 30-minute film, however, many nuances of the 26-year conflict are admittedly lost or overlooked,” said the group in a statement. Cool, at least they know this. But the millions who watched it don’t. The relationship between the LRA, the Acholi people from which the group emerged and the central government in Kampala is bladdy complicated and I think that by painting Kony as the only bad guy, the other ones get to walk away scot free with no attention on them. Sure, Kony is a grotesque war criminal, but the Ugandan government currently in power also came to power through the use of kadogo (child soldiers) and fought alongside militias employing child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, something that Invisible Children seem wilfully ignorant of.
The problem with completely whitewashing the role of the government of Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni in the violence of Central Africa is that it gives him and his cronies a free pass, and added ammunition with which to bludgeon virtually any domestic opposition. By blindly supporting Uganda’s current government and its military adventures beyond its borders, as Invisible Children suggests that people do, Invisible Children is in fact guaranteeing that there will be more violence, not less, in Central Africa. I am a bit OCD when it comes to looking at situations with future implications in mind and this is pretty much where my gripe with the campaign lies. Wonderful, people are talking about it but what happens next? If the intention is to change international justice precedents then the focus is obviously on intervention in Uganda. Time for some more war in Africa guys.
In October 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he was sending 100 Special Forces soldiers to help the Ugandans hunt down Kony. Nobody even knows what country the dude is hiding in. Remember how they looked for Osama bin Laden in circumstances that were just as murky? We know what American intervention equates to. Well-meaning foreigners can do lots of damage which is why a comprehensive understanding of the context and the history of the region is important before blundering blindly forward to “help” a people they don’t understand. It’s worth noting that former U.S. President Bill Clinton professed that he was “helping” in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990s and his help ended up with over 6 million people losing their lives.
Other criticisms include stuff like Invisible Children’s poor finance management, with the group even having to issue a detailed rebuttal with a complete breakdown of finances which is a good thing I guess, accountability and all that jazz but these are marginal concerns for me. I’m not the NGO adjudicator yknow. The crux of this hyped up meme is what happens if this works? Will foreign policy be guided by social media? The goals of the group are not up for debate here, but rather how they are using social media to achieve them. I mean, they clearly know what they are doing or else this current debate would not even exist. But what happens after people watch the video?
"One consequence, whether it’s [Invisible Children] or Save Darfur, is a lot of dangerously ill-prepared young people embarking on missions to save the children of this or that war zone," said Chris Blattman, professor of political science and economics at Yale University. "At best it’s hubris and egocentric. More often, though, itleads to bad programs, misallocated resources, or ill-conceived military adventures.”
Invisible Children wants to shift the conversation so that critics and allies, alike, continue to raise awareness about Kony and the LRA. They are succeeding in this quest. What is this awareness going to bring about? Increased pressure on Barack to do something to earn that Nobel peace Prize that everyone begrudges him receiving? I’m not quite sure how I feel about that either. US presidents out to prove a point, irrespective of what that point is, are guaranteed to completely fuck up. It always ends up being like an internationally sanctioned Cold War vibe with proxy wars everywhere, thinly veiled declarations of humanitarian compassion covering dirty agendas that might help to stop one bad guy but entrench the status quo that allowed for him to be around in the first place. I don’t have a solution yo, I just think it is a pretty good idea to get clever about causes before you sing their praises.
Climbing out of little windows to jump around on big rooftops
The Lister Building’s secret rooftop, a floor above the ‘rooftop’ where they hold parties. One of the coolest spots I’ve ever played. Glad to have been with two of my favourite people ever ever, my brother Bevan and my pal Ricardo.
A friend of mine sent me this picture (above) and of course, it appealed to me on that surface level of anarchic appreciation, rebellious shunning of things ingrained within, but when I thought about it some more I found myself liking it for more than just it’s cool, which sorta left me on the fence, so I decided to think about it some more. Thinking leads to writing so high 5 Keith for inspiring a young mental unpacking session! I’m never quite sure how I feel about religion. On the one hand, I languish in the comfort of it, the ease with which it engulfs me, this operating system promising to make sense of things and making life easier by guiding us along. On the flipside, religion does not guarantee an easier life and it continues to fall short on the “promising to make sense of things” front. So I often find myself very puzzled by the very nature of it. Before this ramble gets too far, I think it’s critical at the start of any religious discussion to very clearly distinguish between religion and spirit; they are not the same thing and not recognizing this is probably the most fundamental failure you could ever make in your whole life. The way I’ve grown to understand religion (and second important point: these are my views, I don’t proclaim them to be wrong or right) is that it is an operating system, much like mathematics. It tries to make sense of things with a greater goal in mind. For mathematics, that goal would of course be numerical order, for religion, it would quite naturally depend on the religion at hand, but it is usually to get closer to a spiritual being/spiritual enlightenment. Sometimes, but not always, is aims to guide you towards a more promising life than this one, be it on this earth via reincarnation or in heaven with a gazillion gold stars next to your name in St. Peter’s book. The number of goals strived for by the various religious orders of the world are pretty extensive if you think about it. It is currently the period of Lent where Anglicans give up something in homage to Jesus’ 40 Days and 40 Nights in the desert, so I’ve been thinking about religion quite a bit. I’ve grown up always being one those “No Red Meat/Bread/Chocolate/Alcohol” types during this period but I felt like a phoney man so I quit and decided that if I’m going to do anything in God’s name this month, it should be something real and indicative of the headspace I’m currently in. Why give up alcohol when I don’t really even drink? Or red meat when I love steak? Just to talk about it with a long face and look forward to Easter even more? I LIVE for Easter, in the pagan sense that is, I’m all for Easter egg hunts, I need NO extra motivation. So I decided to rather make an effort to learn some more about this period, try to go to church more and to actually pay attention, not go through the motions the way I have always done, regardless of the reasons. Now, this attempt at learning, mind you, I am a forgetful Philomath (lover of learning), is still in the very early stages and its more out of inquisitiveness than any commitment to religiousness. Because I am not religious. I believe in God wholeheartedly and uncompromisingly but I would like to think that had I been born under different circumstances, with a completely different set of religious and cultural instructions, I would still be conscious. Whether that consciousness would be able to lead me to my current belief system is something I will never know, but I don’t think so. Not because I do not think that Christianity is good enough, it is, but because I think that I would be able to find sufficient value in the belief system I was born into to not feel any need to stray to another system which in all probability is equally as flawed. Because let’s face it, religions are flawed. So I can quite confidently say that my current beliefs are a product of my environment, not a result of conscious choice, as is true for most people. I am of the opinion that acknowledging this is the first step towards conscious interaction with your belief system and then making the decision to learn more to decide if it is a right system for you. And this is probably my biggest gripe with religion as a whole. Insufficient attention is placed on educating YOURSELF about what you believe in. Sure, you can go to Bible Study (of course, most of my religious references are going to be based on Christianity, these can be substituted with religion specific alternatives) but I know very few people who do that of their own accord, and the ones who do are usually uber religious anyway. Unfortunately, most of us fall into the hypocrite section of followers: identifying as a follower of the religion because it is how we were raised, not swallowing all the fundamental bullshit, but following nonetheless, as a casual pursuit to cover our asses. Basically coasting along, driven by the notion that chewing some wafers and sip sippin’ some wine is good enough to get us a half-decent afterlife. The issue I’ve been grappling with lately is the phoneyness of it, because best believe I am right there in the hypocrites pew. It’s almost like straddling both sides: not a fanatic but not a non-believer either and sorta practicing so definitely not agnostic. So pretty much living as a non-practitioner but still a card carrying member of the pro-God club juuuuust in case. And that shit scares me cos if I can see the truth of the situation I find myself in, then duh God does too and much though I belief in a merciful Lord, I also would like to think that he is smart enough to see through my fake ID. Which leaves me at crossroads because when trying to order beliefs, very few start with religion. And it’s just not quite something I want to discard yet, I am well acquainted with the peace of mind which truly religious people have and the light which they share, and for that reason only, I will always see good in the notion of religion. At the same time, I’ve been exploring criticisms of the whole shebang. And by criticisms I refer to those of religion not of Christianity, just in case any Bible bashers wanna come a’knocking. Firstly, I think that unless entered into consciously, focused and independent thought is substituted for group-think because very few religions show you how to learn to discern truths on your own, instead, you’re told what to believe. I dunno man, this doesn’t stimulate spiritual growth, if anything, it puts brakes on your spiritual development. We have been endowed with these brilliant minds, they should be used to actively contrast and compare different ways of doing things. Unfortunately, religion is pretty much the off-switch for most human minds. Marx was on point when he called it the opium of the masses. Perhaps I am ambitious and arrogant for this, but I think that my intellect is a better instrument than religious teachings, coming as they are from fellow mere mortals. This does not mean that I think they have no value for me, but rather that any value I might glean from them, is only possible when blind belief in mythology is left behind, and natural gifts of reason and analysis are applied. Not using these gifts effectively turns you into a sheep and that’s where there is a serious danger of all faith in your own intellect being eroded in exchange for faith in an external entity, like a deity. I have faith in an external entity but this is because of my faith in my own intellect, I know that the very rare flashes of genius I have surprised myself with have got to be from some higher power. Belief without this acknowledgement of your own power is what turns people into sheep, docile and weak, unthinkingly and unblinkingly living lives of submission. Interesting fact: some interpretations of the word Islam say that it is derived from the root Salema which means peace, purity, obedience and submission. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, submitting to God’s will, as long as you enter into it consciously and comprehensively. Now as for this idea of ‘comprehensive consciousness’. I feel sometimes that identifying yourself as belonging to a religion can limit your thinking because it basically forces your mind into a fixed perspective and this pretty much robs you of spiritual depth because your ability to accurately perceive reality is curtailed by your religious beliefs. I’m not in any way saying that a single, fixed perspective is bad for you; I’m just saying having more than one can only be better. The mysteries we accept within religion arise from limitations in understanding; surely getting different understandings will only help us to understand the mysteries of life religion attempts to explain? Unfortunately, far too many people and religions equate curiosity with doubt and doubt with sin. This needs to stop. People who don’t understand a need to know more in order to be more conscious should be shot. And this brings me to my biggest gripe with religion: religious people. There are so many serious phoneys but before this becomes too hateful, let me share a succinct observation: often, the more religious a person becomes, the less compassionate they are. Religious people tend to be the most bigoted and non-accepting people on earth. This is of course not true for all religious people, there are some really beautiful people doing very beautiful things, guided by their faith. The reality though is that real compassion doesn’t arise from believing in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying the concept of karma. And real people, with real compassion, don’t need religion to see the value of good deeds and the desperate need for compassion in this world. Compassion can only result from conscious choice, and this requires the freedom to choose without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. Religious rules and laws, followed blindly, hamper the development of conscience because they are often interpreted as a cushy easy way to be good so people stop thinking about it. The minute things like compassion are externalized into a set of rules and laws, what you’re left with isn’t compassion at all. This is because true compassion is a matter of conscious choice, and that requires the absence of force-backed rules and laws. At the end of it, my biggest issue with the notion of religion is that it makes it easy for people to continue to fear the responsibility of their own power. That power comes from your conscience, regardless of the degree of your religiousness or your religious affiliation. The landscape of your personal development should be dominated by your conscious thought which should be comprehensive. And this is not blasphemous, if anything using your God-given gifts to think more, exalts God. Here’s another way to think about it: I revel in my physicality, in the wonder of a body given to me to enjoy with 5 sensory inputs that work relatively well (I’m verrrrrry blind though, cannot WAIT to be old enough for laser eye surgery.) The combination of these 5 physical senses creates a rich and cohesive whole that makes my life experience deeper. But as much as we are physical beings, we are spiritual ones too. And in the same way that we have a rich set of physical inputs, so too we have spiritual ones. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to focus only on religion as the primary spiritual sense. Just as your physical senses act as lenses through which you perceive different subsets of reality, your spiritual senses also act as cognitive filtering mechanisms. So it really is quite simple, the more spiritual sensory data you can access and comprehend, the richer your spiritual life will be, and the more accurately it will model a truthful reality of the life you lead. More and more I realize that being spiritually blind is probably the reason for shit like depression, loneliness, hopelessness, and meaninglessness. I would never be daft enough to suggest that religion is the answer to these issues although a quick and interesting anecdote: my best friend was working in a psych ward for a bit (personally I think she should have been in it) and noted that almost every single one of the patients she dealt with lacked religious beliefs. Perhaps a more accurate analysis is that they weren’t spiritually conscious. We have a wiiiiiiiide range of spiritual sensory equipment man, it needs to be used. Things like intuition and gut instincts, feelings and emotions, dreams and visions should be tapped into with as much fervor as logic and reason and of course, religious and philosophical beliefs. And these are just the things that you have within you, not to mention the extra depth of consciousness brought by cultural, social, political, and economic beliefs. See, it’s pretty obvious man. Developing your conscience, decreases your spiritual blindness and really, religion is not the only way to do it.
"Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn."
“A bouquet of clumsy words: You know that place between sleep and awake where your still dreaming but it`s slowly slipping? I wish we could feel like that more often. I also wish I could click my fingers three times and be transported to anywhere I like. I wish that people didn`t always say ‘just wondering’ when you both know there was a real reason behind them asking. And I wish I could get lost in the stars.
Listen, there`s a hell of a good universe next door, let`s go.”
"I think you could fall in love with anyone if you saw the parts of them no one else gets to see. Like if you followed them around invisibly for a day and saw them crying in their bed at night or singing in the shower or humming quietly to themselves as they make a sandwich or even just walking along the street. And even if they were really weird and had no friends at school, I think, after seeing them at their most vulnerable, you wouldn’t be able to help falling in love with them."
Humming quietly as they make a sandwich. That got me. I get weak for inexplicable stuff like that, like boys who like yoghurt or always have pens in their pockets.
Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
He did a lazy sway . . .
He did a lazy sway . . .
To the tune o' those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Coming from a black man's soul.
In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone
I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan--
"Ain't got nobody in all this world,
Ain't got nobody but ma self.
I's gwine to quit ma frownin'
And put ma troubles on the shelf."
Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more--
"I got the Weary Blues
And I can't be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And can't be satisfied--
I ain't happy no mo'
And I wish that I had died."
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.
"I am afraid of getting older … I am afraid of getting married. Spare me from cooking three meals a day—spare me from the relentless cage of routine and rote. I want to be free…. I want, I want to think, to be omniscient…. I think I would like to call myself ‘The girl who wanted to be God.’"
"Intimate activity intricately entwines the auric energies between two people. Sex creates a powerful exchange of auric energy between those involved. These connections and debris are left upon the aura for a long time because they are not easily cleansed or balanced. ‘Casual sex’ with a lot of people can entwine the energies of a lot of people into your own aura if they are not severed and cleansed. This type of cluttered aura can be felt by other people aware of the subtle energies. The longer and more intimate the contact with another person, the more powerful the interactions of the auric fields become and the harder it is for these connections to untangle and leave."
Maybe people stopped believing this and the aforementioned debris left upon the aura changed form, became physical, pervasive and deadly. I don’t mean to reduce the gravity of sexually transmitted diseases and the devastation that is the AIDS pandemic, but it really is an interesting way to look at it.