Helping Myself to Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”

Written by: Paul Haney

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Since it was announced that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in Literature, there has been no shortage of Bob Dylan commentators, theorists, critics, praise-givers and waxers philosophical, and no shortage of backlash against them. One might wonder if any of this commentary is necessary, or if it’s picking apart something that needn’t be touched, or if these would-be scholars even have anything valuable to say.

I don’t really know much of anything about Bob Dylan’s life or his music – I seem to have missed that train. But my good buddy Paul Haney knows quite a bit about both, and the insightfulness to pick apart some of the points of tension in opening up a new door in music (and literary) criticism. Check out more of his series on Bob Dylan’s albums on Instagram. – Michael Martino Continue reading

P/P Journalism: Trigger Warnings for the 2016 Presidential Campaigns

Written By: Kaila Philo

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Photo Credit: Max Goldberg

What a year for mental health, eh?

This year trigger warnings have come under fire for, for lack of better phrasing, shielding university students from troubling topics and, thus, hindering their education.

Triggers are subjects, themes, pictures, videos, etc, that may elicit panic attacks or other terrible mental/physical consequences that are direct results of past traumas. Trigger warnings are defined by dictionary.com as “stated warnings that the content of a text, video, etc., may upset or offend some people, especially those who have previously experienced a related trauma”. Trigger warnings began as a tool for Tumblr users to feel more comfortable navigating discourse around the Internet. The purpose of these warnings is to give trauma survivors some sort of choice in what they’re exposed to; they allow them the space and time to brace themselves for the impact of what’s to come or avoid them altogether.

There have been a cavalcade of thinkpieces about trigger warnings in the past few years—including Jonathan Chait’s highly-circulated “Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say” for New York Magazine and the University of Chicago publicly denouncing trigger warnings in a letter to incoming freshmen—and most pundits have taken one of two sides: Yes, trigger warnings are necessary for students with traumatic pasts or no, trigger warnings are an insult to their intelligence. Somehow.

Sexual assault has also been a widely and oft debated topic lately, from the Nate Parker’s accusation (and subsequent foolish ramblings excusing himself for it) to the seemingly neverending Brock Turner mishandling. 2016 has become a year rife with discourse surrounding rape culture, for better or for worse considering this discourse has been spotty at best. So, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that sexual assault survivors are going through a difficult time seeing as they’re forced to relive their own violent experiences in order to address current events or even turn on the news these days.

This wasn’t helped by the deplorable Donald Trump, who’s dominated headlines since he announced his presidential candidacy. This week the #TrumpTapes hit the internet and began circulating at rapid speed due to one reason: He talks about how easy it is for him to sexually harass and assault women. He infamously describes how he gets to grab women “by the p***y”, among other things, and later describes this discussion with Today Show host Billy Bush as “locker-room talk”.

Ironically, this isn’t the first, nor the most offensive, statement from Trump that’s surfaced during his bid for the presidency. He’s had a history of bigotry, spanning all the way back to the ‘80s and ‘90s when he declared that “Laziness is a trait in blacks”. He even incorporated that bigotry into his political campaign by proposing that he will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, blaming “illegal aliens” for most of America’s woes in the process and calling them “rapists and murderers” in the process, and calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration, which racializes Islam whether he understands it or not. This all came to an absurd head right before the October 9th debate in St. Louis when Trump attempted to counter the #TrumpTapes by holding a press conference with the women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Continue reading

P / P Writer to Writer Series: Walter Mosley’s Advice on Writing With Teenagers

By: Jordannah Elizabeth

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I sat in the back row of a talk given by author, Walter Mosley last night at Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffee Shop not knowing what to expect. I arrived slightly lethargic as I had meandered through the city, arriving with no plan. Be that as it may, I had bought a brand new notebook hours before and slipped off the seal and opened the fresh pages as Mosley began to walk towards the microphone. I began to write notes, paraphrasing what stood out to me during Mosley’s time in front of the quiet crowd.  To describe his new book, Folding the Red into the Black, Mosley read a written introduction and synopsis as he stood next to an almost empty glass of red wine and an unopened bottle of Coca Cola.

I did in fact write down a few notes, but there is only one thing I truly want to share:

Walter Mosley’s advice on teaching marginalized Black teenagers to write theater.

During the Q&A portion of the reading, an exasperated teacher stood up and asked how he could teach his students who were male identified Black teenage students, female identified male and male identified female students (these were his descriptions of his students) who attended Baltimore City Public Schools. The teacher asked Mosley, “How can I get them to see how beautiful they are? How can I get them to see themselves the way I see them?”

As a teacher, I’ve asked myself this very question as I have taught students from age 4 to 21 in Baltimore City, and my teenagers were by far the hardest to inspire, who as the man expressed, “fought me tooth and nail on everything.” I empathized and desired a technique as well.

Here are my notes on what Mosley said:

A Writing/Theater Technique for Marginalized Teens

[A projection]

Ask them
Who do you love?
What do you wish for that person?

The feelings are there, they just may not be pointed at themselves.
Find out where their feelings are pointed.

P/ P Introspective: CHILD INCLUSIVE MANIFESTA

By: Jordannah Elizabeth

I am a direct result of child inclusiveness in the arts. I would like for us to consider others & create rights for children to hold space in every part of the world and in every situation.

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Photo By: Shannon Wallace, Blacks and Blues.com

Children are the replaced, polished planks of our mistake’s wooden floors and the portals of truth and forgiveness behind our regret’s wooden doors. We must include them in our personal manifestos, in our acute artistic realities and in our day to day longings. We have been given the responsibility to feed and build literal futures.

In our current arts communities, we are creating, if not influencing an ingrained pattern of separation and a lack of expressive fortitude that could certainly be provided and developed in the early years of children’s lives by being given the opportunity to hold space inclusive artistic realms.

Does a child have rights to hold space even though they cannot express it? Does a child deserve culture, music, sound and art even though their frontal lobes don’t become fully developed until until age 25? Is the experience of witnessing social diplomacy between the artists, or hearing the eclectic tonal chaos of improvised music a revolutionary opportunity that may mold a child’s ability to discover and enact the freedom of experiential liberation? Continue reading

Four Grown Men Dress as Birds, Release Psychedelic Rock Album: An interview with Max Perenchio of The Gold Web

By: Michael R. Martino

For the first time in six months, I was going home to Chicago. A few days before my flight, I noticed that my friends in the band The Gold Web had just released an album, Natural Born Mystic. I texted the band’s leader, Max Perenchio, about meeting up for an interview. I wouldn’t be in town for long and had family commitments, and he was working that weekend, but we were able to find some time to get together on a hot late June Sunday afternoon for lunch in Wicker Park.

Luckily, Max isn’t the type of person to let formalities hold his warm personality back, and I quickly slipped into the familiarity of speaking with an old friend. All four members of The Gold Web have an ability to inject their fun, passionate, vibrant and positive personal energy into everything they do, and The Gold Web is where those energies are given space to breathe, let loose, then engulf everything around them. College parties with them were brief, bright, ebullient explosions of color and noise amongst the bleak flatness of central Illinois. The Gold Web is a logical continuation of that. Their live shows are as raucous and mesmerizing as the drug-hazed, dance-heavy, wall-graffiting, rental home-destroying parties they would throw back then, if only a bit more contained and almost 100% legal.

It's all about glitter and soft tones.

DR WEED (Brian Selke, left) and GOLDILOX (Rich Lombardo). https://www.facebook.com/thegoldweb/

I met Max at a small, wood-filled ramen shop and we sat down for a quick meal. I was disappointed to spend the little time we had together with the glass wall of an interview between us, but then, weren’t we trying to be professionals these days?

Publik / Private: I haven’t seen one of your live shows since the early days of the band. How has the live show evolved and how has your aesthetic tied into that?

MP: It was a process of repetition. The small concept we started with just kept growing. What started with just some glitter and feathers eventually evolved into giant balloons and glow sticks and synchronized videos, multimedia–which eventually met up with drag queens and more like a gonzo spectacle.

P/P: So with the multimedia and all that going on at your live shows, do you have a full supporting cast or are you doing this all by yourselves?

MP: Oh, it’s all done by ourselves. Right now, the thing that makes the Gold Web exciting for us is that the entire thing is in-house. The recordings are done completely by us from start to finish. It’s sort of a self-contained demon.

P/P: What was the original vision or core idea like for Gold Web? Continue reading

P/P Journalism: The Occult in Politics

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

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I did not purposely wait until smack in the middle of the DNC to publish this piece. It just happened to be that I found some free time around 10 pm on a Thursday night in the late summer of 2016 to release this article. I see no reason to share a more explicit explanation than this. Everything has its season.

I wrote this article in March 2016 for Broadly, a feminist sector of VICE Media, who rejected it after I put a week or two of serious elbow grease into it. I don’t know why I even try to work with VICE, I am not sure what kind of writer I have to be to meld with their journalistic aesthetic, but let’s just say the last time I wrote for them I was incredibly wet behind the ears….

I wrote Occult in Politics as a form of “writing voyeurism”. I was at a stage where I was bored with the freelance work I had been doing, mostly music profiles, lists and show previews and I had been wanting to stretch my legs and write an article that was outside of my journalistic scope. I hate politics, so when I saw my friend Amanda Salane put out a facebook post of a photo of a candle ritual she had created,while asking her friends to send psychic energy to it to protect and help Bernie Sanders win the election I thought, “Well, I don’t hate that someone is looking at politics from a different perspective.”

I think this article might be dribble, I am not sure. Read for yourself: Continue reading

A Black Man as a Hashtag: #Alton #Sterling and Digital Civil Rights

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

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Photo By: Shannon Wallace, http://www.blacksandblues.com

I haven’t been sleeping, but my skin is clean.

I looked in the mirror this morning and noticed that my eyes have been a tint of red for the past few days. I am notorious (only to myself) for not looking in the mirror. I shower, get dressed and dash out the door without much of a thought to my appearance. I just try to be clean, which I feel that is enough as I am not interested in being a beauty queen.

I was up worrying about Black people. The news hit late last night about Alton Sterling´s assassination by Baton Rouge Police. Trigger happy, gun hungry mentally ill men can join the police force to feed their their sick sadistic, murderous hungers. All those movies and documentaries about serial killers talk about how these people have a ¨hunger¨, a yearning and a need to torture and kill their fellow man. Why don´t we make tv shows and videos about twisted cops?

Not dirty cops – not corrupt cops, mentally ill, American Psycho Cops. Continue reading

Micro Aggression, Micro Power Struggles One Year After the Uprising / Now 50 Lost in Orlando

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Flash fiction by author, writer and speaker, Jordannah Elizabeth.

Photo Credit: Devin Allen

When I was preparing to leave San Francisco to go to Baltimore after the uprising, I was in contact with my mother, my father and my brother. There was one moment when my father in his car talking to me and I heard him say ¨Jesus, they have guns pointing at me!¨ then the phone hung up…..

This morning, I was watching VICE report on Flint, Michigan. I watched the journalism clip trying to connect with how the yellow, chemical latent water was responsible for killing people and making children sick from lead poisoning (Baltimore has a huge youth lead poisoning issue as well). I tried to understand the outrage and fear that was going on in a community less than 1,000 miles away.

So, when I heard about the homophobic mass shooting in Orlando an hour ago, I began to think about ego, micro aggression and micro power struggles that distract us from connecting with and overlooking some serious issues in our culture and maybe even right down to our own behaviors. Continue reading

Silent Fast Diaries Entry #2: Lessons in Gemini

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

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Photo Credit: Jordannah Elizabeth

Anyone who knows me knows I am interested in…almost everything, but I can say that I am particularly interested in following the transits of the planets and the affects their movements have on our earthly experiences and emotions.

June is the season of the Gemini birthday. I scheduled my silent fast around a particular Gemini birthday dinner party which was appropriately called, ¨Gemini Potluck¨ because I enjoyed the company of the friends who would attend. I had already collected a nice pile of vinyls, books, comics, canvases and other artsy trinkets I knew any artist would enjoy so I was able to pick a few items from my collection for the party with ease.

I wasn’t too fixated on Gemini as an astrological affect and transit at the point, but I was still shaken by a couple of falling outs I had experienced and had a small inclination that since Gemini was ruled by the planet of Mercury, which rules communication, the months may have had something to do with my social communications going array – planetarily speaking. I called a car to the party which was 4 blocks away because rain was pouring down outside. For some reason Uber and Lyft´s GPS would cars to an alley behind my apartment in downtown Baltimore, so I learned to call ahead to guide the drivers to the correct spot. Because it was rainy, I was standing in my apartment/row house´s dense doorway where the driver would have to follow my instructions because I wasn’t in eye’s view. Well, one driver continued to follow the GPS instead of my directions and screamed at me because he kept following the GPS, the very thing I specifically instructed him not to do in circles, causing him to drive around in circles three times. Continue reading

Silent Fast Diaries: Entry #1 Justice for Joe Black

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

INTRODUCTION

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(I didn’t take any photos yesterday to go along with this post because I left my phone at home… on purpose.) My fast will begin on June 1st.

I was sitting in the back of a small club last night to watch a hip hop show. After an attempt to be depressed by sleeping until 10 pm that day, I had woken up with plans to go right back to bed. My house was lively and full of racket and I heard someone say, ¨White boy!¨ and loud laughter ensued. Racial stereotypes was actually the very subject that had been draining me as ¨white supremacy¨ has become the buzzword and hot topic of the moment in our culture, and I just wanted to get away.

I took a quick shower and walked a few blocks to my destination. I bought myself a drink, opened a tab and sat casually on one of the couches in the club. I made small talk with strangers sitting next to me, but mostly kept to myself  enjoying the few moments I had where I didn´t have to think. I let the music flow over me and sat quietly.

A young woman was rapping that evening and I thought she was very good. She said to the crowd, ¨My brother is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, everyone say Justice for Joe Black!¨ By this time I was in the back of the room on a bar stool. (I ended up mingling at the very end of the night as some kind acquaintances and friends trickled in.) I wore a fitted white tee shirt and jeans and no jewelry except my wedding rings. I left my phone home because I wanted peace. Nonetheless, I made mental notes of my night as I planned to write this entry with vividness, so I made a point to remember the name, Joe Black.

Continue reading