Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Candle

I have forgotten far more events than I have remembered in my life, but once in a while I'll get a movie flash of some event or person or situation which will come back in picture perfect clarity.

One such recent flash was of the cremation room in the Humane Society I volunteered at in my teen years. It contained a freezer where formerly able-bodied and noise-making dogs and cats were stacked, quietly frozen, their fur stiff, waiting for Wednesday when the crematorium was used. Sometimes the metal table in the room would have bodies lain out in groups of two or three, if euthanasia had occurred recently. Obviously a very sad room, although I remember thinking that at least the spirits contained in those bodies were free: liberated from long, lonely days and nights spent untouched and unwalked in cages, free from feeling abandoned by the people who once owned them, free from sickness and want.

The vision of this room came to me while I was walking to work, I don't remember what set it off, but it hit me with such a lightning flash that I got weepy on the street. I'm sure being raw-nerved from weeks of tattoo allergies didn't help, and maybe even brought on this sadder memory. Sometimes feeling physically shitty can bring you to a more open place emotionally, although I wouldn't recommend it as a long-term goal.

At this Humane Society people would often drop off litters of puppies or kittens too young to fend for themselves. We would try to feed them with bottles or droppers, but usually they would die. Sometimes people dumped pregnant dogs or cats that they didn't want to deal with, or pets that they didn't want to take with them on a move, or sick pets that they couldn't handle. Sometimes we'd see their kids crying in the back seat of their cars. The small crew that worked full-time in the shelter were tired of repeating themselves, tired of the unending stupidity, but they would still give their speeches about responsible pet ownership, resignedly trying to educate a bunch of Michigan crackers on what it means to care for a domestic pet.

It was painful, to say the least, though I loved the animals and came regularly to do whatever was asked of me. Mostly it was cleaning cages and walking dogs. One of the larger blows for me was a friendship with a beautiful purebred female collie. She was giant and so smart. I walked her as much as I could while she was there, which probably wasn't much because I only visited on the weekends during the school year and most animals stayed for two to three weeks tops. I did get to spend some hours with her, walking the hills behind the shelter. She never pulled on the leash and being with her made me feel centered and calm. She was just a golden, perfect dog, and on our last walk she jumped up and put her feet on my shoulders and looked at me with what I believe was love and gratitude.

It was one of the purest connection moments I've experienced, human, animal or otherwise, and afterwards I felt sick to my stomach to put her back in her cage. I wondered, who could have discarded this amazing creature? I should have insisted that my parents let me take her, but we had a house full of animals already and she was so big. I hoped for the best for her, and when I returned to the shelter and she wasn't there, I didn't have the courage to research whether she'd been adopted. I also didn't go back into the cremation room to look. I never learned what happened to her and I have always wished I had been more aggressive about taking her out of the shelter. Thirty years later it remains a regret for me.

So there is much screaming about the fact that Michael Vick is being allowed to play football again, much hatred being shouted and some people are selling their season tickets to whatever team he's on now. I am so uninterested in sports I can never remember.

The anger is understandable. When you watch the documentary on the rehabilitation his surviving dogs have gone through just to be able to live semi-normal lives, you want to kill the people that would cause such pain. (I highly recommend watching it, I think you can still find it on www.nationalgeographic.com, just do a search for Michael Vick.) It's unbelievable: rape stands, tooth removal, bait dogs. It is truly an Auschwitz-esque existence for God's creatures, and those who participate should be punished.

I have condemned Michael Vick and his ilk many times online. But in lucid moments I know that fighting dark with dark only brings more darkness, and does nothing to alleviate the suffering at hand. Light is the only thing that will illuminate darkness. I don't give a shit anymore who is right and who is wrong, I just want the abuse to end. And I am grateful for Michael Vick in one way, which is that he is single-handedly bringing more awareness to the crime of dog-fighting than hundreds of PETA videos ever could.

Wayne Pacelle, President of the U.S. Humane Society, has enlisted Vick to speak publicly around the country in an effort educate young boys and men in inner cities to the fact that dog-fighting is cruel. Many of them have been raised with it (as he was) and see it as a sport, something cool and exciting. It is easy to disconnect to cruelty when you've been inured to it from childhood. And no amount of internet squawking by tattooed vegan chicks and ASPCA supporters is going to reach that demographic. They don't give a shit what you or I think, we are not even on their map. However, they do care about what Michael Vick thinks. His opinion carries a lot more weight in this world than mine ever will, so I'd rather see him free and making his football money and speaking to his fans about loving animals than sitting in jail doing fuck-all and looking like a martyr.

There is a 60 Minutes interview with Vick and Pacelle here: MICHAEL VICK ON 60 MINUTES, in which Vick discusses his remorse and change of heart. He is handsome, well-spoken, and appears earnest. Am I completely convinced of his sincerity? No, probably not, I can't peer into the brain of Michael Vick and he could very well be mouthing what his manager told him to say. But regardless of whether his motives are pure, at least for the moment he is bringing awareness and affording prime television airtime to the Humane Society and the issue of dogfighting.

And that, to me, is a candle in the dark.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

8 Miles Wide

Storm's new video. The song is so infectious you'll find yourself singing it out loud at completely inappropriate times. I love the fuck out of this woman!


Friday, August 7, 2009

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Omg. I have been experiencing the most excruciating allergic reaction to getting tattooed! And it's been going on for two months, I couldn't figure out what was happening at first and then finally put it together a week or so ago. The quickie rundown is massive breakouts and dry patches on my face, hives everywhere (and I do mean everywhere), constant itching followed by dryness and a general feeling of non-well-being.

I have been unbelievably uncomfortable and feeling unattractive for quite a while. So for those of you in NYC that I usually spend time with, this is the reason you haven't seen me lately and I'm not taking anyone up on invites unless they're really important. I'm just laying low, taking benadryl, smearing myself with healing lotions, and waiting for it to pass. I'm so self-conscious at the moment that I can't relax into face-to-face conversations. But it is getting better and since the tattoo is finished for the time being I know it has to end at some point.

Also, I want to mention that I am very appreciative of the comments I receive on the blogs, it feels like a visit from friends, and I often think, "Oh, yay, Julie!" or whomever when I read them. And then I get lost in the day and don't contact directly, which is I guess part of the life that we all lead on the interweb. There's only so much time to type at the monitor. But I am very grateful for the contact and read everything written to me thoroughly, and if you are feeling unloved you're always welcome to email me and ask, "Wtf, Mary? Why haven't you written??"

So, down to it...

When Lila left her body I had a lightbulb moment (apologies for the Oprah reference) that feels worthy of sharing. It was such a peaceful passing that I was able to remain present in the moment and observe what was happening. Last time I lost a pet it was my dog Panda getting hit by a car, and that was such a screaming vortex of blood, guilt, sorrow and panic that I didn't have any space to process the actual
process of death, if you know what I mean.

When the vet euthanizes your animal he or she first injects them with an anesthetic. In Lila's case she was already kind of out of it, although awake and aware. She screamed at him angrily when the needle went in, but then drifted pretty quickly into being completely stoned, and then further into unconsciousness. After the drugs have a chance to take effect, the vet then gives a second shot which is the killer (literally), and the effect is almost immediate.

So the interesting part of this situation is how different the two states are, even though the cat remained in exactly the same sleeping pose. One minute she was there and sleeping, the next we were petting an absolutely empty shell and as saddened as we were to never be able to touch her again after that day, it seemed pointless to stay in the room petting her lifeless body for too long.

Which leads me to the lightbulbing: At that moment I understood in a deeper way than before that we are not our bodies and are simply using them as vehicles. Which is not that new an idea, but I felt it throughout my being rather than only as an idea in my brain. It is so easy! Our souls are noodling around in various vehicles, some slick and fancy, some utilitarian and puttery, but all just vehicles, and all vehicles that we will step out of once they stop working.

A few nights later I visited some bartending friends (wearing 3 layers of makeup to mask the current delightful skin condition), and they were so busy and I am so antisocial at the moment that I had ample time to sit and and observe the crowd without conversating. As I watched everyone interact I thought about the choices that each one of us had made--clothing, hairstyle, job, friends, and yes, body and brain. It was so clear to me that we are just playing our roles of the moment and that we get so wound up in the parts that we're playing that we don't know how to step out and be amused by ourselves and our lives. We can't see our true selves in any sort of objective fashion because we're peering out from inside our bodies. And these bodies and lives are heavy trucks to drive at times.

So my question is, if this body/life is temporary, why am I taking it so fucking seriously all the time? Why am I not enjoying my (generally) healthy, attractive, intelligent state instead of stressing about my waist size or whether some dumb fuck at work doesn't understand my needs or desires? Why am I wasting one second feeling angry or stressed about bullshit when it's just a game that will end at some point? And the primary question is, why not just entertain myself with this game and try to make it as comfortable for myself and others while we're on the playing field together?

Obviously easier said than done. I still have to earn a living and suffer the occasional fool and not eat a pound of pasta per day. But it feels freeing to me, and I'd like to hang onto the feeling that I am a visitor and a co-conspirator with those around me. Try it next time you're in a crowd, I think you'll be surprised at how easily you can step out of yourself when observing others.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thanks, Acey

My time under the reign of terror known as the Bloody Social gig has been well documented in past blogs, so I'll summarize here--

Essentially my current journey as a rock chick "of a certain age" committed to a rock musician still working under the current cultural climate in New York has not always been an easy one. I have managed to find my way through it and much of the experience has been instrumental in bringing up old demon energies and insecurities deep within my psyche for cleansing and release, and this is largely due to my good fortune in finding an infinitely patient and understanding boyfriend.

So whatever, that's the esoteric slant to the whole thing, the real topic of today's blog is the crap-ass clubs and people that populate our fair metropolis these days, the "models and bottles" culture so favored by the majority that are either too young or too stupid to understand that subculture, creativity, art, music, performance, etc. are entities to be valued and nurtured. It is my personal opinion (also well outlined in many blogs) that we have become a society that values celebrity and physical beauty above all else, eschewing the true beauty and truth that lies under the surface in our creative minds and hearts. And this breaks my heart every time I am standing in the middle of a room surrounded by gorgeous, vapid people grubbing for free bottles of vodka while ignoring whatever band is playing.

Enter Greenhouse, a much talked about "green" club in NYC. Now, I am all for the greening of America, one of the more positive things occurring in the 21st century. But the one time Drew played here I walked out feeling damaged, old, depressed, and wounded by the energy in the room. And I am an attractive woman who is granted entry into the "inner circle" much of the time. So if it beats the crap out of me, what must it do to someone with less armor and defense? The mind boggles.

Acey Slade and his band the Dark Party were scheduled to play Greenhouse last night and they pulled out at the last minute. I am posting the letter he sent out on Facebook afterwards, because I think his actions and words, were/are both eloquent and brave in the face of the bullshit that so many creative people face right now:

"First, let me begin by saying how sorry I am to those who did not see Acey Slade and The Dark Party perform tonight. But we stand behind our decision not to play and here is why.

What we saw tonight at Greenhouse NYC, disgusted us to the point of being forced to not perform. Our music brings people together in a celebration of life and diversity. Gay, Black, White, Transgender, Short, Fat, Poor, Rich, all are welcome at any show I put on. If you have a problem with the economic status, gender, race, or appearance, then I cannot endorse your company with me or my music.

What was not made clear to us in advance was that Greenhouse has a ‘discriminatory’ ‘dress code’ and would insult and turn away our friends. This was not addressed until about a ½ hour before we were to take the stage.

Upon seeing the way the venue treated our friends and fans I thought, ‘How could I stand on stage and sing songs about feeling isolated and different while my friends are outside, on the other side of the wall because they are ‘different’.

If I did, it would mean that me and my songs mean nothing.

Once it became clear that Greenhouse wouldn’t let people who looked like us in (?) on their ‘Rock Night’ (?) we had a band meeting that lasted about 2 seconds. We unanimously decided that given our options the RIGHT thing to do was not play.

We packed our equipment, told the promoter to fuck off and gave free T-shirts to anyone who was not allowed entry and did our best to hang out or talk to people who were allowed in to explain what was happening.

The amount of time, work, labor, and money that Andee, Percy, Chris and I put into this EP release and the release party is great and we would not set up all of our gear just to take it off stage without playing a note…

Unless we felt like we needed to take a stand for something we believed in. We believe in Diversity, Equality and Humanity.

We also believe that Karmas a bitch well move the EP release party to the show at Rebel on August 27th at 10:00 (AND is 18+) where WE (you, me, us!) will rock like fuck.

I hope that you understand and support our decision. "