P/P Year in Review: Best Books of 2016

Written By: Olivia J. B. Baxter

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Editor’s Note: Here we are at the end of 2016. I am sitting here working on my computer while listening to James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” as a book on tape. I wrote a poem about being so tired that I couldn’t read Baldwin, but of of course, like him, I have a morbidly effervescent determination to find a way around my exasperation. I have over 200 books stacked up in my small apartment in Downtown Baltimore. “Discovering Your Past Lives: The Best Book on Reincarnation You’ll Ever Read…In This Lifetime!” jumped out at me as I am currently doing research for my second book, “The Warmest Low and Other Essays & Poems” which is a surrealist love story and collection of writings about reincarnation, karma and relationships.

Anyway, my new friend Olivia wrote a list of the Best Books of 2016 for Publik / Private. We met at a reading in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and immediately recognized that we had a lot in common. After hearing each other read excepts from our own upcoming books, we walked over to one another, noted our literary similarities and exchanged information.  She and I are both autodidacts, feminist women of color and have a deep love and affinity for the written word. I am so thankful to have met her and that she was able to volunteer to write this list. If you want to get ahold of her, email us at info@publikprivate.org. Happy New Year! -je

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Into the Light- Aleatha Romig  

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Into the Light prompts an examination of the Duality of light and dark. This psychological thriller accentuates human motive and underlines inter-connectivity as we follow two women protagonists existing in different environments having disparate experiences. A prodigious mind f*ck. Continue reading

P / P Outreach: We’re Accepting Blankets & Warm Clothes for the Homeless

By Publik / Private Team:

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Publik / Private is accepting warm blankets and clothes in the downtown Baltimore City area. We’re moving into our coldest months and we’re working hard to get warm clothes, socks, hats and blankets to the homeless. For drop off points please email us at info@publikprivate.org. Please cc founder, Jordannah Elizabeth: jewriting@outlook.com

  • Blankets
  • Winter/knitted hats
  • Sweaters
  • Warm, thick socks
  • Unopened boxes of sanitary products

Please contact info@publikprivate.org before donating clothing or financial contributions. We hold a fiscal sponsorship 501c3 through Independent Arts and Media.

P / P Poetry: I’m So Tired I Don’t Want to Read Baldwin

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

“Willing Scapegoats for the Male Ego”

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I’m so sick and tired I don’t want to read

Baldwin.

I’m so sick and tired I don’t want to read

James Baldwin.

Wake up. Wake up.

To be at this point,

surrounded by systems, white women

sexual threat, secret white guilt.

Buried tears too prideful to say,

“I’m racist. I was wrong.”

Misogynoir.

Continue reading

P/ P Introspective: A Brief Woman’s Guide to the End of Freedom

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

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Yes, Coretta Scott King was a Feminist.

(This piece is very simple with no bells or whistles. It is geared towards heterosexual women. We’ll have LGTBQ voices speak here and in other outlets I contribute to very soon. I love you all. And I love American men, but we really need to get real.)

I am pretty used to men’s drama. I’ve been told I am “too pretty” (to do pretty much anything intellectual), I’ve been called names, fired after not adhering to sexual advances, overheard the most lewd sexual jokes in office environments, and of course, I’ve been working in our culture’s male dominated music industry for over a decade. The patriarchy is a minefield I’ve learned to navigate as a professional and as a female identified human being.

Trump is a human manifestation of an unchecked pattern of male privilege induced by self hatred, insecurity and capitalistic manipulation. Trump says what he needs to say to manipulate sexist men and self hating white women. Trump hates women. Trump wants popularity and power, Trump is an American man (respect to all the complex, thoughtful men who don’t subscribe to traditional masculine stereotypes).

I believe influential American Black men have indirectly played into Trump’s persona and triumph by having artists like Lil’ Wayne, A$AP Rocky and others denounce Black Lives Matters while rapping about sexual exploitation and treating women horribly in their personal lives. Kanye West spent millions of dollars to make a life sized naked body double of Trump to sleep in bed with him and his wife…it looked like an endorsement to me. American men are taught to hate and objectify women and prioritize money and material goods over us and our children. It is how it is. Continue reading

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