[Centrafrique] Antibalaka fashion

Anthropologist Louisa Lombard on Anti-Balaka and their gris-gris (note that she doesn’t even address the translation found in every English-language newspaper article that anti-balaka = anti-machete):

Nearly every article about the recent crisis in CAR includes photos of fighters decked out in gris-gris that will, their wearers say, keep bullets from hitting them. One of the origin stories about the name of one of the main agglomerations of fighters, the Anti-Balaka, has it that it stems from the initiations members go through, which render them impervious even to “balles-AK,” or “Balaka” (Kalashnikov bullets). When I was interviewing CAR rebels in 2009 and 2010, they said their gris-gris knowledge had swelled as a result of collaborations with Chadian men-in-arms, who are “très forts” in that kind of thing.

Today, while revising a chapter on French colonial administration in Oubangui-Chari, as the CAR was then known, I was reminded of another origin for these bulletproofing practices. The French, always short on cash, figured they could impose a head tax on their subjects in order to raise revenue. Colonial subjects generally had no colonial monies, though, so the tax would be collected in labor — literally backbreaking (or head-breaking) labor, such as carrying 65kg for days, with no provision for food or shelter along the way. Oubangui-Chari was the poorest of all the French colonies, and so it had the highest head tax. How else would administrators get anything done? This policy proved disastrous. It caused tens of thousands of deaths due to overwork, illness, disruption of agricultural production, and the brutal violence that was necessary to coerce people to do their bidding, and so further de-populated an area that already had a very low human population thanks to decades of slave raiding. People resisted however they could. Many fled to less repressive places like the Belgian Congo (yes, even the notorious Belgians were seen as more lenient, at least in certain respects). Many others revolted. And those who rebelled made sure to take medicine given to them by a “sorcerer” that made them impervious to bullets. Some of those rebels were quite successful. One group managed to hold Europeans at bay for a full six months.

In my current travels in northwestern CAR, I meet a lot of Anti-Balaka, mostly just wandering around, poking around, or blocking the road. This is a low-resource rag-tag home-defense militia cum homicidal mob; there is no cloth available for matching uniforms. Instead the Anti-Balaka cultivate style that makes them easily identifiable from a ‘civilian’ of the same age group, even as their clothes vary person to person. They wear mostly western (vs. traditional cloth) pants or jeans, and t-shirts or tanks. Their hair is amazing. It’s braided into tight knobs like liberty spikes or shaved down into hawks. They layer necklaces of handsewn gris gris in colorful 3x3inch pouches made of tarp or leather or cloth in all kinds of colors, sometimes necklace on necklace, inches thick across their chests. I have no idea what’s inside. They are these teenage men and sometimes women in tight dark ragged clothes arranged with care to project this tough, intimidating, handcrafted aura. It’s so diy punk I cannot even.

It would be wildly inappropriate to take photographs in the moments I meet them, so google image search will have to try to do justice (I swear I will take photos of things that aren’t food or craft projects, one day). This photo post and maybe this capture some of what I’m trying to describe. Smarter theory people than I could write something good about how aesthetics can play a powerful role in unifying a group or military force, serve as a cultural identifier, and project a (invincible, terrifying) message to outsiders; could question multidirectional influences of youth culture and the fashion of rebellion in a globalized but also isolated world; could sift out the practical vs artistic aspects of Anti-Balaka dress without disrespecting the significance of either; could prod the impact of western media & blogger & the occasional daydreaming aid worker on long car rides’ romanticization of revolutionary chic style on beautiful young men in the midst of ugly carnage.

[Centrafrique] 8 full hours of sleep.

CAR writings disclaimer: I want to direct new readers to these two posts about CAR crisis background & why I’m writing what I’m writing, and add the reminder that the advocacy & technical writings are reserved for work; here is just me & my experience, carefully sifted to spare the experiences of others.

(written weeks ago, notebook)

It is 1:15 am and the dog outside my window barks, growls, pauses. Somewhere else another dog barks. Further out one howls. It has continued like this for so many long minutes. Why does no woman or young tough boy shut the dog up with a cry or a slap or a threatening jerky movement? Is everyone else afraid, too? Perhaps tolerant?

I am afraid. This is so long to go on, and no one in the camp moves. They cannot sleep through this. They are never so still and yet: the dogs bark and the camp is silent. Waiting?

If it’s a horror taking place (here, elsewhere, in one of the dogs’ dreams) I am not ready. Sleepy. Barefoot. Boxers. Eyes unable to see in the dark.

Thinking of how my coworkers are most of them displaced people themselves, constantly re-exposing to the worst of burned houses in these familiar villages but also healing with empowered action, perhaps. Thinking of the displaced people sleeping in the courtyard, on the porch, beneath my back window, around all the corners of the Bossangoa Church and grade schools and soccer fields. I rent a room in the middle of a displaced people’s camp, because the people fled here, to the relative safety of this sacred enclosed space and its environs.

Still these dogs here. It is 1:24 am, no relenting of bark, growl, listen. No stirring in the courtyard full of people.

Thinking of the scary and politically questionable Chadian MISCA who frighten the Christian population, who are perhaps or not connected to the Seleka who are burning humans alive north of us in Kouki and Bowaye. If the Chadian MISCA leave, what will happen to the 500 Muslim people, children and women waiting for news from their husbands and fathers who fled ahead of them to see if their was a life in Chad or on the border? Oh my god, if these people leave their camp, or if the MISCA leave their post, will they die grotesque deaths? There’s no doubt amongst the young men who fled families burned alive that there are some who have or would take up arms or revenge. The Anti-Balaka are community self-defense seeking, it feels, only revenge.

It is 1:31 and I hear the first muffled noise besides awful, continuing dog bark and grow. A muffled child’s whimper. A light bang on wood somewhere. A light child’s cry. Why is there no reaction? Is there something happening? Where is that other distant dog? Do dogs have night terrors?

Horrible dog whine, almost like a cow. Growling, no more barking. Two voices whisper. The dogs in the distance unabated. Ours barks again. It is 1:35.

I am surrounded by people but I have no way to get news. I can hear the hoarseness in this dog’s voice. My world is so small. A circle of light contained by mosquito netting. Light kills night vision but my heart is calmer to have light though I know it makes it harder to see out there if I need to.

It is not a bloodthirsty bark. It is a bark of warning, fear, communication.

It may be over. Our dog stopped. The distant dog continues. It is 1:42 am.

Profoundly silent humanity throughout this whole ordeal.

A child coughed– my dog barks again.

(also, weeks ago)

On the way to Kouki, burned in March, words painted in big white letters on a house:

TOUT PASSE
LA VIE PROGRESSE

(another night)

Night noises. Prayer, incomprehensible, male and female voices saying different words at the same time in nonstop fastpaced monotone.

Amina Amina Amina.

(other nights they sing)

Book review: Trauma Stewardship, Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for OthersTrauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I brought this book with me to the Central African Republic, and read it by headlamp in a dark room after they shut the generator off for the night each night over about a week. I started the book about 3 weeks after I arrived in this northwestern town comprised of burned and knocked down houses, empty quartiers, and, at the time, two crowded tent cities, one surrounding the main church and its many outbuildings, the Christian camp, at one point some 40,000 strong when the vast majority of the town cowered under Seleka control, and the other the square block of muddied grass surrounding a primary school in the center of town, where the Muslims were confined behind armed guards after a pogrom five months ago following the Seleka departure drove them out of their homes and storefronts. Within this context of tired, displaced people my work took me outside the city limits on rural roads that hadn’t been traversed by cars since the last Seleka pickup gunned it down the dirt paths, stopping to loot and burn and rape and burn, last fall. It’s spring now, and I work with people who are offering meager help in the face of incomprehensible terror and hard times– besides the violence there is the lack (of food, of seed, of tilled land, of tools, of clothes, of bedding, of anything one could have in a house that could go up in flames) to contend with, and it is just as hard.

The book is now in the hands of a 20-something Central African coworker who daily leads teams to rural villages, taking responsibility for their wellbeing in the face of constant roadblocks and hassling from armed men, who I think will be the friend I take away from this place in my heart in some many months from now when it’s time for me to leave the people who were born here and will stay.

I’m writing this from a peaceful place in Bangui, the capital city where gunshots ring out across the night but there’s fuel and food and places to go at night before curfew, to see other people and speak English, which is delicious. There are flowers and birds and a view of the Oubangui river and the Congo rainforest in the distance in front of me as I type.

Read more…

[Centrafrique] The day they trucked the last Muslims out of Bossangoa

The scariest day of my life was nine years ago when I was a 19 year old camp counselor outside New York City. I was standing on the floating dock at the far end of the roped-off swimming area on a reflective black lake surrounded by thick green northeastern US deep woods in your typical, wholesome, movie-set YMCA day camp. I was a lifeguard, the mostly fun one who’d let the little kids swarm me in the shallow end, clinging as I walked big steps, roaring and shaking them off like a monster, but not so fun that I’d ever push a kid into the water– every kid needs to have some grown-up they feel safe standing vulnerable next to. I had the ten year olds that day, my favorite group of kids because they are old enough to understand everything you’d ever want to talk to them about ecology and first aid and backwoods survival but not so old that they’re mean.

The head lifeguard blew her whistle as she does every 20 minutes and all the kids stopped playing to climb up on the U-shaped dock that lined the shallow end. They found their buddies and counted off. They counted twice before the head lifeguard told the kids to stand up and walk to the beach where she then jogged to the boathouse for the airhorn which she blew three times: every lifeguard-trained adult to the swimming area now. Someone’s missing.

I was in the water before the second count was over. The job of the guard on the floating dock is to swim just under the dock, criss-crossing with your arms stretched wide and your back just touching the slimey surface hoping that your hands will knock the head of the child trapped, drowned, under it. In lakefront guarding, you save people before they go under water. Once their heads slip below the dark surface, it’s so unlikely you’ll find them in time that instead they teach you to look for bodies. Bodies float under docks or sink amongst the seaweed on the ground. People have only about 6 minutes. You can hope, though.

After 4 turns under my dock I swam across to the other floatng dock and slid under it. Someone else was doing the same under the shallow, weedy, snakeridden space of the U-dock. By this time the team of lifeguards was lining up on the U-dock, with five of them in the water, stretching about to where I surfaced on my last swim across the underside of the far dock. The kid at the far end of this line of teenagers would shout something and everyone swam to the bottom, grabbed a rock, and swam back up, holding the rock in the air to prove they touched the bottom. They go down again, slowly moving across the roped in deep end. If you’re tired you yell “switch!” and dive down; a replacement jumps in to take your space as you surface.

I climbed on the floating dock and hugged my arms breathing heavy until someone yelled switch, then took my spot diving. It’s surprisingly exhausting work to go down and up 8 or 10 feet over and over, but I was so pumped and scared it was hard to stop. At some point I recognized my fatigue yelled switch and climbed out of the water and stood watching my team carry rocks to the surface. I looked around and realized no one else was taught and wired. The head lifeguard casually shouted, “OK, stop,” and ended the drill, brought us in to debrief. She’d announced it was a drill, I learned, sometime when I was under a floating dock, my arms and eyes stretching out into the black-green sunless water, scraping skin on ancient wooden beams, reaching for the hair of a dead troublemaker, roughhousing kid.

OK.

That was the first thing that came to mind while I stood on the porch in Bossangoa, Central African Republic, next to two coworkers two nights ago, while we listened to the pop of gunshots in the not-quite-distance. All of these stars were out because the generator broke and there were no lights on. The Chadian MISCA had announced that they were leaving Central African Republic, and we had no idea who or what was to replace them as the only feared guards with guns surrounding the Muslims trapped in a 1 square kilometer IDP camp at the École Liberté down the road.

Read more…

Mini guide to protecting your electronics & data while traveling

Before I get on an airplane or travel somewhere I’m likely to encounter border patrol, military or police checkpoints, high levels of interpersonal crime (i.e. theft/mugging), or political repression, I take a hot minute to lock down my electronic shit, with an eye toward making it look like I didn’t actually put effort into doing any of this so as not to pique interest.

My main concern is a lazy border crossing guard or thief without too much computer savvy or patience. I figure I’m too much of a novice to do hardcore data protection so I try not to kid myself that I can protect my data from an intensive search, but I can dissuade the average pickpocket and official. I try to follow the security culture classic mantra of only recording or transmitting what you’re basically ok with The Man hearing and reading, since he will. As this Lifehacker article explains, “We’re not talking about the government here, mind you, or keeping your data from the authorities if your laptop is screened (although it can be effective in those situations too). The goal here is that if someone steals your laptop to sell or use for themselves, or tries to steal your identity or steal sensitive information from your job using the information on your laptop, they’ll fail.”

To do just before you leave:

  • Delete all texts from your phone (inbox, sent, drafts)
    • Extra effort: backup online & then delete all your contacts from your phone to download again after crossing the border
  • Delete saved logins, cookies, passwords, search results, and browsing history from your browser/Twitter/Skype/etc on your computer. Better yet, enable all your browser privacy settings so you don’t record this stuff ever and disable automatic logins; type your damn passwords.
    • Extra effort: delete all your bookmarks from your browser and send them to yourself in an email
    • Extra effort: delete all the shortcuts to your browser, Twitter app, etc. from your desktop, start menu, or dock so it’s not obvious to the casual observer that you use these services. I have a ‘fun’ browser and a ‘work’ browser, each with a different set of bookmarks on them, so I leave the ‘work’ ones up so I don’t look like some troglodyte who doesn’t use the internet.
  • Password protect your computer and phone (and specific apps on your phone, i.e. email, Twitter, Skype, etc), with something different than what you use on other stuff.
    • Update! A smartypants friend adds: “With iphones, if you put a passcode on your phone and enable the 10failed pin numbers=erased phone option, it is actually very effective. The 4 digit pin actually is linked to an encryption key that is used to encrypt your whole phone. And the 10failed pin option prevents a brute force attack on the pin.”
  • Encrypt your files.
    • Update! My techie friend suggests encrypting your entire HD, for example with Filevault on Macs (it’s a tab in the “Security and Privacy” system preferences): “It functions just like the password screen but needs to be enabled. Just having a password isn’t enough … being that all your files can be easily accessed through an external device.”
    • You can also just (or doubly!) encrypt your sensitive data (for example, using TruCrypt). I encrypt all my academic and work files, any important documents I’ve saved on my HD, photos, and my personal writing, for example, giving these an extra layer of privacy. Name your encrypted file something boring, confusing, and innocuous so it doesn’t attract attention when someone’s skimming your file manager.
    • Email the (very long & complex) password to yourself and/or carry it written down by hand somewhere that’s easy for you to access but not obvious to someone else. Update! Techie cautions: “Don’t email your encryption keys/passwords being that email itself is completely insecure.”
    • Update! My tech friend adds this word of warning about encryption and border crossings: “Also be aware that laws around encryption, especially at borders are very up in the air at this point. If you really want to protect your data, it may cause you some trouble.” See the EFF guide below for more info on your (lack of) rights and what to do about it.

Stuff to set up beforehand:

Read more…

Prepping for CAR 2: Studying up

With this post I want to share some of the stuff I’ve been learning about Central African Republic (CAR), but I also want to use the space to present my strategies for learning about a new country or situation, and also to explore a bit the nature of what we know and think we know about a place.

1) I like to start any examination of a place with: “What the fuck is going on?”

For CAR, the indisputable best source of WTF-is-up news is Twitter. On Twitter, you can follow analysts who are reading in multiple languages from many more sources than you’d ever have time to skim and so get presented with a limited but still diverse set of articles about a topic. You can also follow actors who are tweeting their real-time opinions, decisions, and movements; from this pool of standpoints you can begin to form your own analysis. I’d include journalists and human rights reporters engaged in information finding as “actors,” and I’d lend similar weight + critical skepticism to witnesses as to the narratives of those we think of as biased ‘participants,’ the protesters, politicians, activists, organizations, and survivors. Journalists and observers have angles, bias, and blinders as much as ideological actors, especially in the heat of the reactive, unreflective moments as one can find on Twitter.

Check the #CARcrisis and #Centrafrique hashtags. Recommended Twitter feeds on CAR (view a longer list on Twitter):

  • @bouckap – Human Rights Watch observer tweeting live reports from Bangui and rural areas
  • @louisalombard – Anthropologist using her knowledge of CAR to write & tweet with nuance and depth
  • @drovera - Amnesty International human rights observer
  • @marcusbleasdale – Photographer who often works alongside human rights observers
  • @theprojectcar – Lots of aggregated news and articles on CAR news and the humanitarian situation
  • @jgmariner – Amnesty International, often updating on CAR
  • @astroehlein – Human Rights Watch director posting articles & updates frequently on CAR

Another kind of care to take when reading Twitter is of your heart. Twitter feeds anxiety: constant, endless, context-free updates stream in while the only action available is to follow the rabbit holes of hashtags and clicking through to new feeds. In my studying of trauma, one thing that stands out is the healing power of narrative and action. Twitter is bereft of both these things. It gives you instant and constant interjections of “what is” with no room to connect this moment’s photo to the larger picture of “what was” and “why.” You can gain some of that by following a subject over time, but you can also gain a false sense of narrative, as users speaking to each other create useful shorthands that further erase context– the use of “Christians” vs “Muslims” in the CAR crisis is a good example of this (more on that below). And Twitter can leave readers plugged in to the moment but utterly helpless to partake in it, on edge but isolated and incapacitated. Use Twitter but be conscientious about how you do so; get deeper reads and get offline; connect, contextualize, act.

Here, I would also like to link to some CAR-specific local news sites, but I haven’t found those yet. I’ve gotten the best news articles from clicking links on Twitter.

2) Why???

After some gruesome human rights Twitter time, my head starts spinning with a plaintive, whyyyyyyy???

This is when I put Twitter away and start reading reports.

Read more…

Malian textile love

malicloth02

My absolute favorite shop in downtown Bamako is directly behind the National Post Office and straight down the road from the Artisinat (if you head out the big entrance by the parking lot & fetish market and cross that big main road with all the SOTRAMAs so you’re heading towards the Grand Marché). COMATEX is the Compagnie Malienne de Textile, the Malian Fabric Company. It’s one of those great government acronyms in Mali, like SOTRAMA, the little green minibuses that get their capitalized name from “Société de Transport de Mali.”

So, the deal with COMATEX, as far as I understand it, is that Mali’s government subsidizes cotton agriculture via the Office du Niger by managing irrigation along the Niger river. This is all kind of problematic because it means the most fertile land in the country has been set aside for soil-draining, water-intensive, monoculture cash crops, and nonfood ones at that in this food insecure country, a large portion of which is exported regardless. The folks growing this cotton are generally largeholders who pay day labor so it contributes to a plantation ag economy. Set all this aside for the moment, though, because in the very contextualized and relative scheme of things, I think that COMATEX is pretty rad, despite all these very critical food sovereignty issues. Hear me out!

malicloth03

Mali’s government manages the irrigation and then subsidizes the cotton production by agreeing to buy a portion of the harvest. The cotton they buy is spun into cloth in formerly government-managed factories that are now run by a controlling portion of Chinese investors. When I learned about this stuff about 7 years ago, the last time I lived in Mali, the COMATEX factory employed a lot of people, one of the few manufacturing jobs in the whole country. As presented to me at the time, it was a good thing. Chinese factories tend to have awful human right records, so I’m skeptical of how ‘good’ the job is now. I don’t know and neither does the internet after a quick looksee.

OK, so what I’m trying to say y’all is that if we suspend our ecological, food, and labor concerns for a moment, we find that COMATEX still rules! Because the best part of COMATEX, still in effect, is that it takes this nationalized (sort of) (formerly?) cotton production and sells it at greatly subsidized rates all over the country, especially to rural folks. COMATEX cloth is the cheapest cloth in Mali by far, which means its patterns are everywhere. And that’s amazing. Because the government stamps a lot of the COMATEX fabric with Public Service Announcements! Sure, the vast majority of rural people (like 80%? of women) cannot read a lick of French and so are not absorbing these complex, empowering feminist messages. But that’s what they are! Besides pro-African Union and ECOWAS PSAs, the bulk of COMATEX fabrics boast totally great declarions about how awesome rural women are and why/how we (the COMATEX fashion reading public) should treat em well!

Look at this!

malicloth04

Oh my god French language, way to have a better word for “empowerment” than English! See also “autogestion.” And then we have:

malicloth20

malicloth19

Guys, these are all of the things I very much deeply believe in. Thanks COMATEX!

More Malian textile porn (pixxx heavy) below. Read more…

Prepping for CAR: on storytelling, a personal manifesto of sorts

The next step in my life is to head to the Central African Republic to do aid work there.

What is happening in CAR?

Your best bet to follow the CAR crisis is through the #CARCrisis twitter hashtag, and #Centrafrique if you read French. Here’s two places to start (1, 2).

There is not a lot of news in the Western media, and the news that comes out seems outdated by the time it’s released, as far as I can tell by comparing Twitter and Al Jazeera. Human Rights Watch’s Peter Bouchaert (@bouckap) is doing incredible real-time reporting with quick first impression analysis (see this Storify for example, but be prepared for graphic photos). HRW and Medecins Sans Frontières are doing great work getting the word out about the crisis; the country is big on aid workers and low on journalists right now. “Big” is a relative word: much of the global humanitarian NGO and UN expertise and resources are in and around Syria right now, for better and for worse (see @darthnader for a critical Syrian anarchist’s perspective on international aid).

Twitter will get you the news out of CAR, but it won’t answer your why’s. I will be reading as many backgrounders and reports as I can in the next week or two, and I will try to post a more in-depth summary then, mostly because writing book reports has always been my favorite learning style.

My role and how I’ll write about it

I have struggled a lot with blogging while working in Mali on an ag project (you may have noticed, from all the DIY projects posted about these past few months!). I have actually written quite a bit publicly about my work and about the farmers with whom I’m working, but as I posted when I first moved to Bamako, those stories belong to the people telling them. If I was told something with my NGO worker cap on, it was because farmers were consciously choosing to share that information with the NGO I was representing. The understanding was that their words would be used to further the stated goals of the ag organization, and they decided that participating was in their best interest. Sharing with me as NGO rep was a critical choice farmers made based on the information we gave them about how their words would be used. For example, we often survey farmers for input on program design or other times ask for stories to use in fundraising pitches to rich and Western donors. All interviews start with an introduction and consent agreement so farmers can choose if/what to share based on how the information will be used. Off the cuff remarks while I’m working don’t come with legal consent mumbo-jumbo, but they’re still made from the understanding that the person is speaking to an organization’s representative, not a comrade, friend, random stranger, or English-language blogger.

We are each the protagonist of our own story. I grew up self-publishing feminist zines to claim space and define my narrative for myself. As a young woman survivor of sexual assault, writing to the subcultural anarchist and punk spaces that I moved within and which gave me the tools to demand the respect to be heard, that narrative was mine to claim, to push, to insist on my right to state my piece loud and bold. My narrative ten years later, today, is not a marginalized one. I am employed, hyper-educated, published, white, wealthy, an expat aid worker from the US. I am choosing to work in communities that are oppressed across several spectrums, not least of which is the active ignoring and silencing of their social movements and organizing for liberation and against oppressions. Part of my work to redistribute power includes checking the privileged space of my narrative. The people with whom I work are not props to be used as part of the story I tell from my vantage point as the protagonist in my life (see every US-made movie ever about conflict in Africa and all the genre of journalist autobio, some of which are incredible, but…).

Read more…

[recipe] Fermented Millet Polenta

This post is dedicated to Circle Amory, a punk house that was on its way to becoming a Boston institution, but got sold out from under its inhabitants to make way for condos. I used to go there as often as I could get myself to get up early & bike uphill on a Sunday for the best possible brunch of vegan pancakes, one of a kind delicious tofu scramble, fried potatoes, and friends. That house was always hosting traveling bands and activists so it was always a treat to meet the people passing through. It was the house that everywhere else I went in the US, when I said I was from Boston, they’d all be like, “Do you know those kids?” Yes. Miss em.

Anyway, I found this recipe in a cookbook in their dining room and took a picture of it with my phone in anticipation of living in Mali where millet is a staple grain. Millet is a drought-tolerant crop originating in West Africa that is packed with gluten-free nutrition including B vitamins and minerals. It looks awesome growing in a field because it can get well over ten feet high but looks like cattails.

Here is a photo of a sorghum field, because I don’t actually have a good pic of a millet one:
sorghummali

I wish I wrote down the name of the cookbook to give it proper credit, but all I have is this:

millet polenta1

I finally made some millet polenta this week and the result was a yummy, tangy, soft but firm bar that was flavorful enough to eat cold out of the fridge, but also good fried crispy or as a base for any kind of sauce (tomato, pesto, curry, garam masala). An easy and very cheap way to add another staple grain to my diet besides rice and wheat pasta, this one with a speedy advantage of being prepared ahead of time. I’ll be making another, bigger batch later today.

Read more…

reacting to Against Me!’s new album

First off, let me just stop the presses and give mad props to the volume and diversity of translady and transmen punkrockers and trans riotgrrrls and all volumes of genderfucking musicians and frontpeople. Just pulling from amongst my friends right now, hands up in the air for Peepl Watchin and anarchist momma Evan Greer. Love and rage, rage and love.

[Second off, this is an unfinished thought, I think, and an all-too-serious one about music, but I want to try to get it out there anyway, since I'll have other stuff to write about soon. I guess this is directed towards an internal audience: US-based punks & feminists. I'm choosing not to rehash a lot of my own bio that feeds this analysis, but I did link to the zine I wrote many moons ago about punkrock patriarchal bullshit or you can click around this blog for some insight.]

I have been listening to the new Against Me! album for the past week or so and I am feeling compelled to write about it. Full disclosure, I have been reacting in writing with more emotion and analysis than is appropriate to every Against Me! release since the acoustic self-titled was IM’d to me by a long-distance friend I’d met at World/Inferno shows. He had something new and maybe even better to introduce me to, he said. We heard none of the latent cynicism in those hahahas at the end of Those Anarcho Punx Are Mysterious. At the time, those anarcho punx were mysterious; they were all I wanted to be. We went on to belt that song together at full volume while we marched around New York City to stop the Iraq War before it started. Hahaha indeed.

Read more…