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People Gather | Riot in a Mic 11-6-07 | 5 Minutes on a Full Moon
goofing off on the phone | Lowry, --->Tubman, & ---> Amin | Where is the Water? Part 1 | Where is the Water? Part 2
Derrick Jensen & Radio Roxanne: Premise One | Winter Solstice '08 | Women in Black-NYC-(Palestine & Israel) | Save Aaron | Questions from the Allegheny Forest | Oceans of Oil | Japan: As Crows Fly | Time Short, Stakes High-#1-"XL Excess"
This is a 20 minute Radio Roxanne audio clip with an interview of Women in Black (WiB), NYC--With one NYC Jewish woman who helped found NYC's WiB, and one NYC Jewish woman whose personal transformation prompted her to join WiB's weekly vigils, and then went to Palestine and Israel to learn firsthand about what are the living the conditions there. The link to the audio at my website is below, but first, there's the written back-story (not a part of the audio narration or interview) to my encounter with them... I hope that this post goes some way to shattering the wall of lies regarding what's really going on in Palestine and Israel, at a time of precarious "cease fire". There are also some links to more information at the end, including a few actions you can take.
I encountered WiB NYC purely by chance and entirely to my good fortune. They saved my intellectual and emotional life and that's not hyperbole. I don't think I knew it then, how important running into them at precisely the moment on the day I did, but I know it now: Seeing them-- and our conversation--helped remind me of several things it's easy to forget in this culture... Things like why I'm alive, what my purpose in life is, what is most important, the preciousness of life and my time and how I really want to spend it, and why I do things that nearly kill me sometimes just to get my true work done... As I said, I didn't know the serious significance of our exchange, but I know it now, because after that crazy trip to New York City----and I mean IMMEDIATELY after (as in the DAY I returned home)---- I learned that my mom has lung cancer. (--Let me just say right now: Thanks in advance for condolences and questions... The prognosis is the worst, and I knew that in my heart immediately, even though the Dr's had to do weeks of testing to know it... And thank you, but no, thank you, there's nothing you can do. It just sucks.--) It is only in a culture such as ours--one that removes us from the reality of death and forces on us the degree of denial-- with which we live, that such experiences strip reality to its core, and I have always liked that core. When someone that important in one's life becomes terminally ill and / or dies, what is most important gets immediately engraved in sharp relief over everything else, and that kind of thinking about and way of living in the world can rattle things, as it should--If one is open to that happening...
....As it did for me, which is why it took me six months to produce this piece. I'd listened to it many many times since August, '08, when the trip to NY, the interviews, and the news about my mom collided, but it was only in the past week, while editing it and writing the notes for narration, that the meaning of it to me and my life as an artist of audio, words, and images -- and the relationship of all of that to my life as an activist -- really became clear (In the context of the personal realities described above and below...) I hope it speaks to the same for you.
[ NOTE: Please know, these notes speaks primarily to how my trip to NY City basically traumatized me. It's full mostly of how stupid the workshop was in many ways, and how I hated it. So, here's a quick mention of other experiences that still have great meaning to me: I recovered every morning and night ( I felt great about my endurance and my life post- and pre-workshop every single day!); the neat and exciting things that happened (Like the time I was walking "home" up broadway and saw some people staring up at the sky at a building with funny lighting and I said, "What's that you're looking at?, and they said, "That's the Empire State Building!" ---Goes to show you I was not in NY City for the "sight-seeing"!!); the really funny experiences I had (Like: the hilarious exchange I had the first morning with the first (and only) cab I took, when the Nigerian-born cab driver would not stop flirting with me, when all I wanted to know about from him was the Nigerian rebels patroling the Delta against the oil companies destroying their landbase...); the goofy stories that happened that only I could have happen to me (Like the time I was walking in Times Square and didn't know it, even though I had walked through it twice every day for three days, and how, when I finally realized it, I was looking all around me, mesmerized, spinning around in circles, thinking about how, in that digital wasteland, most people were experiencing "the Square" by using digital technology, (cameras and cell phones) --which to me means not really experiencing it, but filtering it through some media-- which means NOT paying attention, and then BOOM!! I fell off a curb, with all 50 lbs of my computer, recorder, mics, etc, on my back still... And then I heard, "Are you okay?" And I looked up to see a Hassidic Jewish man pausing from his conversation on a cell phone!!!!--Yes, I was okay!!); the crazy all nighter I did one night by going to Starbucks (where I never usually go--I hate them), meeting someone who tried to take me home with him ("to listen to music", he said, and I told him I had enough audio to listen to that would fill 5 lifetimes, and drinking some caffeinated Starbucks drink that made me feel nearly like I was going to have a heart attack--and I wish I was exaggerating on that!); the awesome space I slept in (A small apartment that is used by a massage therapist, so every night I'd walk into a veritable meditation suite!!), and the new friend I made because of it (the massage therapist to whom a local Buffalo friend introduced me); the fantastic food I ate and the very fun and creative way I ate breakfast every morning (walking through the urban jungle, picking fruit and bagels and pastries from the various street vendors!!); the terrific sense of power I felt every morning and night on my 3 mile walk back and forth from the place I stayed in Columbus Circle to Soho, where the workshop was held, (carrying in my backpack those 50 pounds of equipment each way); the fabulous Mexican meal we had with one of the very cool audio artist teachers of the workshop, and the spectacular audio artists' / gallery we went to on a field trip that night; and most important, the first night I spent with an old friend (and her family) I hadn't seen since '97, the last time I was in NY, when we walked into Central Park, and that amazing, magical, life-force sensation I felt when that cool fresh night air caressed my face and soothed my lungs...]
I was in NY City for a week long audio workshop in August 2008. I had prepared for months (since March) for what I thought would be a 40 hour week (8 hours per day) intensive of working on the work I love, a huge break from the wage slave life of my day jobs every week. I thought I'd learn about how to better demonstrate the relationship of the wave form (sound) to the content (subject matter with which I deal) in my audio work. I thought I'd meet others like me--Others who recognize the urgent need for radical cultural change, who are ready and willing to use their voices in their work as part of the artillery in the war to save the world from the corporatist forces of destruction. I thought we'd be roaming the crazy streets of NY, gathering sound from all the languages spoken there--from the trees surrounded by cement and black top, to the hawks in central park and on sky-scrapers, preying on the rat race of civilization. I thought I'd get, in 40 hours, some personal mentoring in my work as an activist and artist using audio.
I thought a lot of things. I was wrong almost to the point of stupid.
What I actually got was: During a heat wave in NY City, the workshop was held in a small room with about 17 other people (includes the presentors). The room was *VERY* small (think: photo-matt booths--maybe the square footage of about 5 of them), and ---during a weeklong heat wave in NY City in August of 2008---there was no air conditioning. Well, there was one, and it was so loud that because we needed to talk and listen (yes, listen--It was an *audio* workshop, afterall), they had to turn it off when we were in the class sessions (You may recall that I mentioned that was 8 hours per day...) ---- ___That___ is a minor point, since I really am not a fan of air conditioning anyway. I am however a huge fan of breathing fresh air--BUT: The windows did not open in the room. Did I mention fans? There was one, but again, it was too loud for us to hear when we were listening to sounds and speaking and all that, so off the fan went... The room we were in, let me remind one more time, for an audio workshop, was a room with BAD acoustics. Now, I dunno, but it seems to me that a workshop on audio would be held in an context in which the environment for the conduction of sound would be of great significance to the presenters. I didn't get that impression, though.
The people I met were mostly from NY City. They seemed to be more interested in my peculiarities than in my work. I found this off-putting. When I am getting to know people, I want to know what it's like to be them. If you want to know what it's like to be someone, and you don't have a lot of time (---And I mean __especially__ if you don't have a lot of time, because if you have time, you should just spend time with them, and you'll learn slowly in their presence what it's like to be them), then you ask questions about what they love, what they hate, what their passion is, what they fear, what they have learned in life, what their daily life is like... Never once in the entire time I was there with all those people, did ANY one of them ask me what I'm working on, what I care most about, why I do my work, what really matters to me. I mean, we had this short time together, (although, honestly, after the way I was spoken to and treated, 40 hours was waaaaay too long), and given that we were all gathered together to hone our craft and (I thought) explore ways to share our ideas and work, the things we could have been talking about were not at all what I was talked to about. Examples (with my answers, some of which I gave, except for the sarcastic answers which I kept to myself) include: "Oh, you live in Buffalo? Why?" [Sarcastic ANSWER: Because I HATE NY City].... "Why do you walk here? --why not take the subway?" [Serious ANSWER: Because I would rather be in the fresh air and sunlight for the morning and night commute, especially considering I am sitting in a room lacking either sun or air, or decent sound dynamics, for FORTY pathetic hours in this entire week!!!]..... "You __clean houses___ for a living????!!!!!" [Snarky ANSWER: Yes, and I run my own life, too, as opposed to people who suck up to some employer for your living] "Why do you exercise so much?" [One ANSWER: Because I do manual labor for a living and if I don't take care of my body, I can't eat; Another ANSWER I didn't say: Because I need to be in top shape for the battle of living in a culture that's killing us all, even though you're so blind to it, you don't even notice]....
I know it sounds like I didn't like these people, and by now, that's generally true. But then--I just wanted to connect on equal ground, and instead, often whenever I spoke in class, I got ignored, or dismissed, or otherwise disrespected. I'm not imagining it--It was just very uncomfortable, and it took me a long time to figure out what was going on there--And now my analysis is it was a classic case of class dynamics in that class room... I'm not saying every single thing that happened, but believe me, there was some weird shit that went on there. Add that to the facts that: I got **maybe** two hours of mentoring attention during the whole 40 hour week. We did not once get any opportunities to gather audio as a group nor as an assignment. I did not once get asked to join the small groups that formed for dinner.
So, one night, the last night there--Thursday-- I was walking home thinking about the above whole week. I was tired and hungry and a little sad and definitely lonely. I was thinking about not going back, about just hanging out in the city--Especially Central Park--for the next and last day, Friday. I was at my lowest point emotionally--I was looking down at the sidewalk as I walked, wondering if I could muster an adventure for dinner, like I had all week. At one point, I had to look up to cross the street, and there I saw them: The beautiful, the powerful, the brilliant, the sight-for-sore-eyes line of Women in Black (with men!), holding signs of protest against U.S. policies toward Israel and Palestine, and against the apartheid conditions of Palestine at the hands of Israel (care of U.S. funding).
I am one who cries easily, and one who often works to hold back my tears when I feel tears well up. It's rare that I am instantly catapulted into crying. In this instant, I cried. I smiled, too. They weren't tears of grief, but of relief. Tears of wonder that I happened to encounter this group of people at precisely the moment I was feeling most lonely, having found no one with whom I felt a true and good connection all week. Still smiling, I thought, "Those are my people!!!"
They allowed me to interview them and then they invited me to dinner. It was the most wonderful, most satisfying, meal all week. I owe a big THANKS to the Women in Black NYC.
Here is the link to those interviews.
Below my signature are several more other interviews about what's going on in Palestine.
Thank you for listening.