the home group of one of my mothers

I have just returned from a long and involved trip South – first to Santa Fe to visit family, then to the Bay Area for New Year’s Eve and dear friends and small adventures, then to Seattle to build family, then back to the Bay for a further adventure, this time with a stranger. It was a clean narrative, completely without disaster, and I safely arrived from where I left, at the Vancouver airport, without either serious physical or emotional injury and having only lost one item of clothing. (May not be remarkable for other people, but it may actually be the first time in my life such a thing might be said.)

There is not a lot to say about my time in New Mexico, except that I have finally experienced that classic North American thing that people experience when they visit family in an isolated area in an isolating culture, minus the bits about disagreeable politics. For example, I was told there was a Solstice party happening the evening I arrived, so I dressed up shiny and put on my warpaint and arrived in style, only to find it was an entirely different thing. A coven of women (who might be the type to spell it womyn) have been gathering six to eight times a year for thirty-five years to have a pot-luck, create a “Circle” of good intentions, light candles, welcome spirits, tell stories, and sing old songs. I was the only heterosexual present and the youngest by an easy twenty years.

To give you a clearer picture, they meet on dates that are significant to the moon and on at least two occasions, without any irony, someone present referred to the United States government as The Man. It was like time travel. I kept expecting someone to laugh and the entire gathering shatter, but I looked around the room and realized that I have read about these people in books on first wave feminism. It didn’t occur to me while I was delving into that history, but apparently some of those people are still riding that wave, passing talking sticks around in circles and singing droning hymns to The Goddess that they wrote while stoned in a yurt on the side of a mountain in a woman’s enclave somewhere in 1978. If I had gone outside and stood on something, I would even have been able to see the mountain the yurt had been located.

As experiences go, it was an echo of a hundred different moments I’ve witnessed (and tried to escape), so not new, exactly, but distilled down to an ultimate essence. I slowly became fiercely uncomfortable. I felt hammered by the singing, by the tone of it all, by the waiting. I was a fish out of water with a bicycle and I wished, with increasing desperation, that I could switch bodies with someone who would love to be there, like my friend Pam, or simply teleport her there. I am disagreeable when confronted with rituals or religion. I feel that the invisible things that weave the world’s narrative are things like atoms or quarks, neither of which will ever care or be capable of caring about rattling sticks or human interaction. You can do whatever voodoo you like on your own time, (pray to invisible super dragons, consult random chance oracles, LARP, read horoscopes, or whatever), and I won’t care, but I am not ever going to be a complacent participant. Even so, it was interesting. Interesting in an I-wish-I-were-writing-about-this-instead-of-in-the-middle-of-it kind of way. I wanted to document the living history as it unrolled before me. So here I am, writing about it, still wishing, nearly a month later, that someone who would have appreciated the evening had taken my place.

culture crawl!


Tony is in town for a long weekend this week, released from Microsoft’s gray walls by U.S. Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates giving the locals smallpox blankets. Or something. Wierdos. Anyway, quite handily, this weekend is one of my favourite Vancouver events, the East Side Culture Crawl!

So! Great!

*does a little dance*

Also, tonight is APHRODISIA, a dance party/alt local fashion/art show at W2, curated by Ash Turner and hosted by Crystal Precious.
And, for those with tickets and a word in, tomorrow is Global Warming.

and I’m not sleeping well

Another afternoon breakfast of mysterious Vietnamese insta-noodle. It’s bland, uninteresting, and the only english on the entire bright packet is the word “chicken”, but I’m following the principle of It’s Good Because It’s Food, (ostensibly), similar to the late-night restaurant rule of It’s Good Because It’s Open. When I was little, I ate them dry as a treat, enjoying the novel way they crunched and then dissolved between my teeth. Now, every time I open one, slitting the brittle white plastic package with a fingernail, fishing out the spice pouches, I remember apocryphal stories about poor college students afflicted with scurvy or perishing of malnutrition after relying on them too long.

  • Top Ten Transhumanist technologies
  • Motionportrait animates still photos

    I cocooned exhausted into bed last night without taking out the rugged froth of fancy curls the hair-dresser on set perched on top of my head and didn’t notice until this morning when I tried to run my fingers through them. Yesterday was a tiring day. My first prom and it was twelve hours long. The whole production looked amazing, though. Two hundred actors as teenagers, some pretending, some not, dolled to the tens in a gymnasium decorated by Disney into an incredibly expensive high school prom. The lighting really made it, like a favourite movie seen on repeat, I couldn’t get tired of the clever colours. The whole thing was fantastic. I loved the shifting star-like spangles that warmly painted our strange, sequined velvet party people who sat down in silk, taffeta, and tuxedo clumps every chance they got. It had the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream.

  • I have an inspiring announcement to make!

    Three dear and glorious women

    – musician Meredith Yayanos, artist Zoetica Ebb and photographer Nadya Lev

    are launching a new magazine!

    COILHOUSE is a love letter to alternative culture, written in an era when alternative culture no longer exists. And because it no longer exists, we take from yesterday and tomorrow, from the mainstream and from the underground, to construct our own version. We cover art, fashion, technology, music and film to create an alternative culture that we would like to live in, as opposed to the one that’s being sold or handed down to us. The result, in the form of articles, features and interviews, is laid out on our blog and in our print magazine for all to see. If our Utopia is your Utopia, then welcome! Anyone can contribute, and we encourage you to go to our submission page and get in touch..

    We will also have guest writers, and we welcome comments and submissions! We’re don’t yet have a release date for Issue 1, but it will be soon, and you will know about it. To tide you over in the meantime, blog posts will be a-plenty!”

    Please visit COILHOUSE and get involved! If you like it, SPREAD THE WORD! They place great emphasis and importance on the process of sharing and collaboration, so feel free to repost any and all pertinent information elsewhere. Especially the flyer here or the one found here.

    COILHOUSE can also be found on the following places on the web:

    COILHOUSE on MySpace
    COILHOUSE Flickr Stream – sometimes contains “bonus images” relating to various posts
    COILHOUSE LiveJournal RSS Feed

    just another reason to miss l.a.

    From Hauser, Robert M. 2002. “Meritocracy, cognitive ability, and the
    sources of occupational success.”
    CDE Working Paper 98-07 (rev).

    Two homeless men walk past, communicating in sign-language. The unexpected precision of their motion almost disqualifies how slum dirty they are, the grime embedded in their skin and under their milky fingernails, but not quite. Instead they resonates like a picture captured by Rodney Smith. “Summer is meant to be beautiful,” a woman says, glancing at them like gathering clouds. She is a flower exhaling, expensive hair, an overly embroidered skirt, antique shoes found cheap at the flea market. Standing next to her are t-shirts, endless t-shirts, in a marching line with distressed jeans, hand held out beside her, clever slogans faded by repetition into a koan against design, painted blue on green and white. The past history of her seasonal relationships, embodied in one exquisitely average boy.

    In 1908 a comet made up of loose dust and ice crashed into an ancient Siberian forest and flattened 2,150 kilometers of trees with a blast equal to 10-15 megatons, or 770-1155 Hiroshimas. It left no crater.

    On her first night here, as I was curled in bed on the edge of sleep, my new flatmate burst into my room swinging two black dildoes the length and girth of her forearms. “See! They’re wiggly!” she exclaimed, waving them at me like porntastic ninja weapons from an exploitation flick. They did, in fact, wiggle. Alarmingly. I fumbled for my glasses, not entirely certain what I was looking at, dread curiosity goading me, and asked if she could swing them like pasties. She gladly obliged, holding their toy-sword handles in front of her nipples and jumping that particular burlesque hop guaranteed to send them whizzing in dangerous black-cock circles. My two cats, already traumatized by their recent move into my apartment, were terrified.

    Warren interviews William Gibson regarding Spook Country.

    After coming within breathing distance of a recurring romantic interest role on Bionic Woman, I spent a full day at the Art’s Centre pretending to be front row centre at the MTV Music Awards with one hundred and fourteen other starfucker pretty extras. Sitting in gossiping rows at cafeteria tables up on the mezzanine floor, bored eye-shadow and disco-ball boots, we looked like a misplaced mini-dress scene from Massive Attack’s Karmacoma, glamorously capable of sudden surrealism. When it finally came time to shake ourselves out of our hours spent in the cruel, overly air-conditioned hall, we then stood at the foot of a light-lined stage for hours instead, with nothing to do but traffic in speculation about the shiny people above us who came close enough to casually inspect.

    One of the fledgling celebrities, recognized solely from a music video my last boyfriend worked on, was Avril Lavinge’s bass player. Blonde, unassuming, but monied, he looked younger than me. After a short discussion on the varying merits of different Les Paul’s, we settled into a conversation about the Avril manga recently produced by House of Parlance, the local publishing house that prints Shane’s poetry. He was enthusiastic, having just seen them in Hong Kong, prodding me to wonder at how far products travel and how lovely his life must be. I couldn’t imagine the scope of it, I said, and I meant it. I thought of L.A., the way the city looked from the plane, flying in. All those Spanish names strung together – Ana, Santa, Las, Los – dissolving. The groundbreaking scope of it. What that must be like every day for a solid week, but globally. Lights forever in every direction, always. When he was gone, I gave a short lecture on post-humanist body-modification, unexpected piercings, and RFID chips. “They take little shiny pieces of metal, implant them in your eye.” “Why?” “Because they can.”

    The term “futureshock” refers to a psychological state having to do with informational overload most easily defined as too much change in too little time. It is invariably tied to technological paradigm shifts and can be applied to individuals as well as societies.

    Here’s some fine examples of where I’ve been wasting my time on-line

    I am wretchedly tired. Come to my party tomorrow. Instead of writing, you’re getting a tab-dump. (Has anyone formalized that term yet? We should get on that.)

  • Fairwood Press currently publishes Talebones, a magazine that has been publishing science fiction and fantasy short stories for eleven years. Yesterday they sent out a plea for subscriptions, saying that they are in financial distress and without new subscriptions, they’ll have to quit putting the magazine out. Click here to see what you can do.
  • European Honeybees commonly imported to Japan fall prey to the Japanese giant hornet. The local bees do not, instead they have evolved a fascinating and wierdly wonderful defense. National Geographic News has a video.
  • An audio recording made on November 18, 1978, at the Peoples Temple compound in Jonestown, immediately preceding and during the mass suicide and/or murder of over 900 members of the cult, has been put on-line by someone who got the audio tape in 1979. This means that for your auditory indulgence, an alarming bit of educational history is vicerally available.
  • The Steam Powered Internet Machine, by Turner-prizewinning artist Jeremy Deller and his collaborator Alan Kane, links a steam engine to a computer, allowing visitors to surf the net, powered by one of the driving forces of the Industrial Age. Although mischieviously impractical, (click to see the picture, it’s neat), the machine does work.
  • Gez Fry decided in 2002, without any experience whatsoever, that he wanted to make a living out of Japanese style illustration. After studying artists like Masamune Shirow, he emerged with an astonishing enough portfolio to break into the big market, in only two years. Pingmag has an essential interview that follows why he decided on his excellent life-changing decision and how he went about it.