EDITOR IN CHIEF
MORGAN MARTINEZ MANAGING EDITOR
RIVKA YEKER ASSOCIATE EDITOR
JACLYN JERMYN ONLINE EDITOR
ROSIE ACCOLA STAFF ANNA BRUNER, ALLIE SHYER, IVANA RIHTER, CHARLENE HAPARIMWI, KEISA REYNOLDS, JOSEPH LONGO, NOHEMI ROSALES, ANNIE ZIDEK, VICTORIA BROSILOW, ROBI FOLI, ANGELA IMPERATI, GRETCHEN STERBA, JESS MAYHEW, ANDREW KLASS, KATIE BURKE, ELMER MARTINEZ, kevin allen, HANNAH HICKS. SPECIAL THANKS pwr bttm, VOLUMES BOOKCAKE, bianca xunise, NICOLE LANE, SAM BAILEY, ASHLEY THOMPSON, HANNAH WELEVER, APRIL ACEVEDO, nic deadman, rory britt, cole jermyn, alison hein, SCOUT KELLY, JULIEN BAKER, LUCY DACUS, ERIN ROUX, DANA LAND, ANYA MARTIN, LANDON KUHLMANN, JOSEPH MCCORMICK, BIANCA MONIQUE QUINONES,, MEGAN STRINGER, SHANNON SHREIBAK, BETHANY ALLEN.
HOOLIGAN MAG ISSUE #17
for the love of
by / Keisa Reynolds
Brown Girls is a tribute to what Chicago offers in arts, music, film, and most importantly, in its people. It explores two areas we can always appreciate—sisterhood and friendship—but it offers another perspective we don’t often see in media: two women of color from distinctly different ethnic backgrounds loving each other and having each other’s backs. Loosely based on the friendship of Jamila Woods and the writer of the series, Fatimah Asghar, the series follows Leila (Nabila Hossain), a South Asian-American writer just beginning to own her queerness, and her best friend Patricia (Sonia Denis), a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: jobs, art or relationships. While the two women come from completely different backgrounds, their friendship is ultimately what they lean on to get through the messiness of their mid-twenties. “I think this series is going to explore sisterhood and friendship in a different way that I never really explored in my own writing, and not what we’ve seen around women of color,” says director and producer, Sam Bailey. “Usually you see all black girls or all Latinas, this is all brown people enjoying and loving each other. As women and women of color, we’re just so hungry for that content. It’s really important to me to contribute to that.” Bailey is a Chicagoan, born and raised in Logan Square, where her hit web series You’re So Talented was filmed. Brown Girls was filmed in Pilsen at an arts collective space called the dojo. “Everyone in the crew—behind the camera—have a specific view and are all Chicago artists,” she says. “You feel it on set. The energy is vibrant.” Watching the series, viewers might find that it feels “innately Chi-town.” Popular local artists and personalities are easy to spot in the trailer, which was released in early November. “All people I worked with before either through You’re So Talented or other films—people were connected to each other from one way or another,” says Bailey. “I think that’s why it went so well. No one really had to prove [themselves]—only to show up to set and bring their best work and it showed.” The series might strike a sense of familiarity in brown girls of various ethnicities and nationalities as they watch these women of color unabashedly discuss sex, kiss, and laugh with each other on screen. It’s much like the lives of people of color every day, but it’s rarely showcased in this way. “The entire series is all people of color,” says Bailey. “There [are] no white people, including extras. The world [doesn’t] crumble or change when there’s no white people. People are still loving and fucking.”
Brown Girls is out in early 2017. We’re waiting!
by rivka yeker photos by elmer martinez
Rebecca and Kimberly George are two sisters who once dreamt about opening up a bookstore. Both sisters have masterâ€™s degrees and are certified to teach, but they have focuses in different areas. Kimberlyâ€™s foundation is rooted in theatre and working with younger children while Rebeccaâ€™s is focused primarily on English and teaching high school and college students. This is why their passion for Volumes is so strong. As former teachers, they deeply understand the benefits and difficulties of the American education system, recognize the needs that the Chicago Public Schools have, and are actively working on giving young people resources and spaces that help them feel empowered and comfortable. Due to their hard-work and ambition, they were able to create something that encompassed their visions of what a bookstore should look and feel like.
Volumes Bookcafe was founded on a love for books and community. The store sits on the consistently hectic Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park, an area known for its coffee shops, consignment stores, and trendy brunch spots. I was hired with the first wave of employees when the shop first opened in March of 2016. The immediate reaction to the store was phenomenal; people kept commenting on how beautiful the store looks, its selection, and most importantly, how smart the idea of including a cafe is. It not only serves coffee, but beer and wine and cider, too. Volumes is a hit, but my appreciation for it stems from a slightly different perspective; I am moved by the dedication of the owners for their community and the people that are a part of it. Volumes is surrounded by coffee shops, used bookstores, and other niche indie bookstores in the area, but what draws people in and what makes it so special is the warmth it exudes. The sisters and staff work very hard to make sure it remains inviting and open, while also being, as Rebecca says, a “prolific mainstay of the literary world of Chicago.” The way the Volumes staff works together is similar to how a family functions. This is because both Kimberly and Rebecca have a lot of love for their family and built the store as a family project. Since the owners are so family-oriented, Volumes is naturally a hot spot for families. They have already had children’s workshops and they hold weekly storytime sessions every Wednesday and Saturday morning. “We would love to offer additional programs for the neighboring schools, camps, classes, birthday parties, [and] books clubs,” says Kimberly. With different author readings, discussions, monthly women’s comedy showcases, celebrations, and other endeavors that typically support small businesses and local writers, Volumes is constantly stirring something up for the community to enjoy and it’s exactly what Chicago needs. The night after the election, Rebecca emailed me at midnight asking if I wanted to host an impromptu open mic so the community could be comforted by strangers while also sharing their thoughts and writings. Of course I said yes. This impromptu open mic, or otherwise known as, An Open Community, was Volumes’ entire purpose and message. This is what Volumes stands for, what they believe in, and what they are actively working to amplify. Kimberly and Rebecca George started Volumes because they wanted to give everyone a home of some kind—a place where people can come and feel comforted, where there will be light all around and hot chocolate with marshmallows in the front. At Volumes, there is no judging. There is no intimidation or pretentiousness—no explicit hierarchies or aggression. It exists as a place for anyone and everyone because at the end of the day Rebecca reiterates, “books make people happy.”
You can find them online at volumesbooks.com and on Instagram @volumesbooks
"w so s warm
what makes it special is the mth it exudes."
PERFORMANCE BY / JACLYN JERMYN PHOTOS BY / ANDREW KLASS
I held my breath in a suit and tie/ Because I didn’t know I could fight back/ I want to dress the whole world in drag/ But I’m starting to realize/ It’s already like that — Serving Goffman, Pwr Bttm
November 9th, 20162016 To preface things, I started working on this piece a long time ago. It was the middle of summer and a November election seemed eons away at that point. A Trump presidency was still a funny joke on late night TV and in our mouths—not a reality. I’m writing this because right this second, things seem exceedingly grim, but then I remember that every time I pick up my notebook or my computer to write more of this piece, I can’t help but smile because queer is invincible.
July 9th, 2016: the Bottom Lounge, Chicago A handful of queers from Massachusetts walk into the green room of a venue named the Bottom Lounge—stop me if you’ve heard this one before. While this joke might essentially write itself, the punch line is a little harder to pin down. The punch line is PWR BTTM. The ambiguous genre-shifting duo, comprised of Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce—they/them pronouns please—met while attending Bard College. PWR BTTM have often been labeled queer punk by media outlets, and while certainly queer, the punk tagline is something they sometimes shrug their shoulders at. “But what is punk, you know?” says Hopkins. One could offer a Wikipedia definition, but it boils down to an example of counter-culture. Just like the house shows that the three of us spent our formative years hanging out at, PWR BTTM shows are bursting at the seams with symbols of what our society has deemed as a rejection of social normativity. Their influences are all over the map because as they note, everything is a little bit of a performance and performance makes for great inspiration. Bruce takes cues from their dance background and loves choreographers that put a raw, bleeding edge into their work. Hopkins has a list of influential drag queens a mile long—they both admit to listening to RuPaul’s Drag Race in the car while they drive from venue to venue on tour. “When I was younger I was really influenced by a lot of queer cult films as a teenager like Rocky Horror,” says Bruce. They also name drop Spiceworld, Mean Girls, Coyote Ugly, and High School Musical. Hopkins claims they used to watch Eddie Izzard’s Dressed to Kill performance every day. Sometimes twice a day.
On stage both embody vastly different aesthetics that stem from the same appreciation for the roots of drag. “Both of us are obviously giant creatures of vanity,” says Hopkins. “I have an aesthetic that’s shitty. I don’t want to ever look inaccessible.” They find many of their best performance outfits while on tour, either as hand-me-downs from the people they stay with or from their frequent trips to Love’s Travel Stops. “I always leave the tags on. I wear dresses inside out. I don’t really take more than five minutes to do my makeup,” says Hopkins. This particular night they donned an 80’s-looking red party dress, a navy blue baseball cap emblazoned with the words “MAKE AMERICA QUEER AGAIN,” and their customary face full of glitter. “For PWR BTTM, I always thought that when Interpol plays and they always wear suits—that is drag to me,” says Hopkins. “It’s costume. The outfit is a commentary on how it’s all costume. That’s my relationship to fashion.” Bruce’s preferred performance-wear has evolved over time. They say that their onstage and offstage fashion used to be completely separate entities, but now it’s one big gradient. “I think when I came out as non-binary and could look at ‘women’s fashion’,” Bruce uses air quotes with a smirk. “To be able to live in a new relationship to it—I guess what I’m interested in is this question that a lot of people are asking about what it means for clothes to be built or constructed and what else is built and constructed.” Similarly to the meaning and building of clothing, the accessibility of construction has been at the forefront of their brains as they have begun to tour more often and more widely. At the time of this interview, they had not yet announced their first US headlining tour or that they had been signed to the Polyvinyl label. “Why don’t businesses see inclusivity as being good business?,” says Hopkins. “Don’t you want more people to come spend money at your place? If you’re just thinking in a purely capitalist sense, I don’t understand why people don’t consider safe, accessible environments to be better businesses. Because they are.”
PWR BTTM has a policy of having accessible, gender-neutral bathrooms at their shows as often as they can. When there isn’t already an explicit gender-neutral bathroom, a piece of printer paper, a marker, and some tape does the trick. Sometimes they come up against challenges at establishments where no one wants to take responsibility for making their space more accessible. “I’m interested right now in, as a person but also as someone who is doing this project, to what extent is compromise worth it in various oppressive or exploitative structures,” says Bruce. “To affect any change, it requires asking ‘how much am I willing to compromise? How much am I willing to compromise on my politics to gain some sort of progress?’ It’s a question that’s being asked a lot right now.”
October 26th, 2016: the Beat Kitchen, Chicago Hopkins, in yet another red party dress—which would end up on the stage floor before the end of their set—weaves their way among patrons of the bar at the venue. The Chicago Cubs are in the world series and a number of people from the neighborhood have turned up to watch the TVs. This makes the demographics roughly 20 percent people in baseball gear and 70 percent people who either are coated in glitter or want to be. “The Cubs are like the PWR BTTM of the [baseball] world,” says Hopkins. “They’ve been doing their thing for long time and now everyone is into it.” Hopkins and Bruce are running late after doing a lecture and acoustic performance at the University of Chicago. The trip from Hyde Park to Roscoe Village can take a while at rush hour—especially when the two jumped in the wrong Uber the first time around. Their set includes new material—some of the songs they played the last time they were in Chicago, but they have become more refined. “We work really fast or we work really exhaustingly, painfully slow,” says Hopkins. “Editing is something that we really do a lot of.” “Yeah, I usually do a lot of writing,” says Bruce. “Pretty much every song starts in my head as a vocal melody or lyric and once I cook it in there for a little bit, sometimes I’ll put it out into the real world and then I bring it back.” This night they kindly ask audience members not to put recordings of new songs up on YouTube until after their new album is released. Things are never quite done until they’re done. They finish their set with a sold-out room echoing their words back at them. The mood is victorious like each time PWR BTTM gets to play a show, we are all collectively chipping away at oppressive power structures. Exactly two weeks later, Donald Trump was named as the President-elect and it felt like for just a moment, we stopped chipping away. We took that moment to console ourselves, but then went right back to our work with a new fierceness. We know our work is never done. Queer is invincible. Find them online at pwrbttmband.com
"To affect anychange, it requires asking, "how much am I willing to compromise? How much am I willing to compromise on my politics to gain some sort of progress?"
bianca xunise BY / CHARLENE HAPARIMWI PHOTOS BY / APRIL ACEVEDO
Bianca Xunise is the epitome of black girl magic. The 29-year-old graphic designer and full time artist is unapologetic in every aspect of her life, but it took her some time to get comfortable with that. Xunise has bylines with HelloGiggles, Bustle, and her latest and proudest venture, the political cartoon space, The Nib.
Hooligan had the chance to sit down with Xunise in her picturesque Ravenswood apartment. She is a voice for younger black female designers and artists and while in the prime of her career, she has nowhere to go but up.
How did you decide to become an artist?
I, like a lot of artists, have kind of always been an artist. It’s second nature to me. It’s almost like asking when did you decide to become black? It has always been a part of who I am. It really wasn’t a choice so much as when I decided it was something that I wanted to do full time, and that came later in life. I’ve always been involved in the arts. My mom is an artist, both of my parents are artists. So I’ve been surrounded by it my whole life. What does your day to day routine look like?
I’ll give you two versions of it. So, the boring day to day with my 9-5 [job], I get up, go to work, and I come home. That’s it. My artist day to day—because I’m taking some time off from work now—is doing comics full time. It’s mostly meetings and pitching to people. I try to seek inspiration everywhere. Recently it has kind of been a nonstop brigade of things happening in the world that have inspired me to illustrate. I know for me, illustrating and doing my comics is a method of therapy. It’s kind of just workshopping what’s going on inside of me and inside my head. Getting it on paper helps me feel not so anxious and overwhelmed and bothered by what’s going on in the world. And I can see that progression from when my work first became public—from when I was working for HelloGiggles until now. My comics are less about “how many slices of pizza can I eat?” and more about my womanhood and blackness and things like that. How does your role as a black woman impact your art?
There’s statements that’ve been said before that I’ll say now, which is that there’s really nothing more punk, or nothing more political than just being a black woman. It kind of comes with the package. Even if your grandma or your mom or auntie don’t call themselves a feminist, listen to the way she talks. There’s nothing more feminist or intersectional then some of the stuff our moms or grandmas or aunts have said. It just comes with the weight of being a black woman. I got tired of the sugary sweetness of my work, and I just felt like there [weren’t] that many voices like me out there. I would go to the places that I do have my work now and see no voice from a black woman, or maybe just one or two and I feel like that’s not nearly enough. You can have twenty white male points of view in the world, and one black woman voice isn’t enough. I would see comics drawn by white men of the plight of the black woman and be like, “okay, well this is your idea of it but this isn’t necessarily true.” [Like the movie Loving], I have issues with films like that because it’s written and directed by a white man. How can you tell the voice of this woman of color in this relationship when this is something that has never affected you? You could’ve at least had a black female write this. I just feel like my work is conscious of what’s going on in the world. When I was doing a lot of my work in the beginning I was kind of speaking out of what was just plain, old-fashioned depression. I was 26 when I started so I was going through a quarter-life crisis as well. Now I have a stronger sense of who I am. I was afraid to show my blackness when I first started off as an artist, because I didn’t want to be known as that “militant black cartoonist” and now I don’t care.
"illustrating and doing my comics is a method of therapy It"s kind of just workshopping whats going on inside of m What has been your proudest accomplishment so far as an artist?
Honestly, my proudest accomplishment so far is the work that I have done for The Nib, and being able to write longer form stories than just Instagram squares. That’s been about a ear and a half long journey for me to be able to express myself without kind of stopping halfway and getting frustrated. That’s what would happen before when my comics were so short and I would get stuck and feel like no one cares and make something short and sweet. I realized the phoniness of Instagram and social media in how we view things. You see it, you laugh, and you move on, but you’re not breaking down this meme or comic throughout your day and asking “what does this mean?” Now that I have gotten some attention, I feel like I can take that same cuteness or ha-ha of my work and keep my audience captivated for longer. What is the importance of artists getting paid for their work?
It’s incredibly important for artists to get paid for their work. I was offered a job to do something and they didn’t want to pay me—they wanted to pay me in stuff. I come from a [fashion] blogging background, and I remember the day I stopped blogging. I stopped blogging because they didn’t want to indict George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case and after that I realized I [didn’t] care what I’m wearing anymore. But I did the whole thing of going to Fashion Week, took pictures of clothes and got a free pair of shoes as compensation--as long as I took a picture of them. I can’t survive on free shoes. I don’t want that. I don’t just want exposure. I feel like a lot of that comes from the removal of art programs from many schools. If you’re not teaching children the importance of art, when they become adults and run these companies and try to work with artists, they will [think] that they’re not worth being paid. I feel like you have to start them young in appreciating art so they can understand that I’m not just this person who does this magical spell and then there’s some art made. Artists are constantly putting pieces of themselves into their work. It’s pieces of ourselves that we will never get back, but you can find other ways to replenish yourself. You’re paying for this piece of an artist. It’s so important. I’m all about telling artists to get their money. If that means putting your work on Etsy, or working with different newspapers or like me as a graphic designer—that’s a way of me making money for my art. It’s so important for them to appreciate us and understand the importance of what we do to keep this world functional.
Find Bianca online at biancaxunise.com / @biancaxunise
What advice would you give those wanting to be full-time artists?
My advice is that it takes time. No matter how instant this world becomes, real success will still take time. Your Instagram or your social media is your portfolio but it doesn’t show the grime that comes on the backend. The grime goes into your 30’s. In high school, I had this perception that by the time I’m 30, I’ll have three kids, a mansion and a dog. But now I’m almost 30—I have ramen, a pack of beers in the fridge, and let’s keep it moving. Besides taking time, the other step for people in college who are interested in pursuing the arts is to always be working. If your time is spent on Instagram or Tumblr looking at someone else’s work, sighing and saying “ugh, I had this same idea but they already did it so what’s the point of me doing it?” you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. Even if all you have is your Instagram page, at least it’s something to start from. If you spend your whole time being wistful and wishing to be an artist but you’re not actively working as an artist, opportunities are going to come and go, and you’ll miss a great [one]. For me, things have come and gone and I wish I had been ready, but the ones that were right for me always came when I needed them.
the wome Chicago is a city that celebrates collaboration. The amount of artists that live here is starting to feel almost limitless, but VAM, a media outlet created by Vincent Martell and Jordan Phelps, see it as their duty to find them all. VAM was created to defy social norms and bring light to hidden gems in the world of art. Hooligan sat down with the women that run VAM to discuss their goals as artists, as creators, and as leaders. Nicole Lane, VAM’s Managing Editor was one of the first people to be a part of VAM when it started over two years ago, prior to its initial release. She is in charge of all 20 of the contributing writers along with other pitches that may come her way. “We have this amazing platform where everyone is invited to share their opinions and their voice,” says Lane. “Anyone can pitch any idea. I feel very grateful we have this space to speak with no limitations.” VAM exists for anyone and everyone—they do not deny writers or artists, but rather, welcome them with arms wide open.
by / rivka yeker photos by / elmer martinez
en of Sam Bailey is the team’s Digital Art Director, otherwise known as, DAD. All of the videos that VAM puts out need to be approved by her first. She also produces many of them. Regarding VAM’s open and inviting philosophy, Bailey says, “nothing is filtered—artists say what they want to say and do what they want to do.” VAM’s entire being seems to be built on the desire to magnify voices that are begging to be unleashed. Ashley Thompson, the team’s Media Production Assistant, and Hannah Welever, the Cinematographer, work with the actual filming and editing of pieces. In recent events, they made their way to film Chance The Rapper’s concert encouraging Chicago to vote prior to the election. They were also at the protests downtown after the election. In a way, this is Chicago’s very own DIY news station.
There is a certain element of criticism or backlash platforms will receive because everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to share it. “We really need to push the boundary super hard,” says Thompson. “We need to make work that is cutting-edge and gets people talking, whether it’s a criticism or it’s them being for it.” VAM’s specialty comes out in their video work. Their series “VAMUNFILTERED,” highlights artists in their natural states. “I’ve always talked about representation and how important it is to show marginalized groups just being human,” says Bailey. “Not that we have to prove our humanity, but the representation is limited, and middle America will have a certain image in their head of what these groups look like because of that.” In a post-election environment, she feels even stronger about that notion. “I feel like it is a deeply rooted responsibility even though I feel both tired and sad.” The feeling of being both tired and sad is something that many hard-working artists have been addressing lately. They say that, regardless of this exhaustion, there is no other option but to keep fighting and creating. This is the best time to produce work and to showcase the right kind of work. “In my opinion, [in my work] I’m not trying to hide my blackness or my womaness,” says Bailey. “It’s really important to lean with that but then lean in even further and have the viewer spend the day in the life with these characters. You get to see these women be women and hurt and fuck and laugh and do the things women do every day.”
Welever chimes in and says, “yeah, it’s weird. In the music world, they’ll continue calling punk bands with women ‘female punk bands’ rather just a punk band. Other people put that title on you.” This is something we are all too familiar with—this certain level of “other” that disallows a woman to be on the same tier as a man without first being referred to as a woman. But at the same time, that is why the VAM women are working so hard at molding media in the way it should be: inclusive and realistic. VAM is actively working towards creating a space where people feel comfortable. “We are artists who need a safe space as well. This is for us, too,” Welever says. Being an artist is exhausting, especially if you are working to provide something that other people can use as a source of inspiration or solace. She continues, “recently, we feel tired emotionally, but physically I feel tired all the time. As an artist in Chicago, if you want to keep moving forward and get to where you want to get, you’re not ever going to get rest.” While that is true, Bailey says, “I think that’s where having a team helps. If you want someone else to take over they will. People pick up slack if need be.” This makes the VAM team even more respectable; their connection with each other is unbeatable. They are genuinely excited to be with each other because they believe in what they do and what they’re all capable of doing. Their passion lies in their work and as Thompson puts it, “once you know what you want to make work about, you can’t not make work about it.” So here they are, making the work they want to make and putting it out on a platform that uplifts them.
"Anyone can pit I feel very grat this space to s limitati
tch any idea. teful we have speak with no ions."
What inspires you to create?
Ashley: Relationships in my life inspire me to create, especially personal ones. They normally involve women-centered intimacy both romantic and platonic. Also, small interactions of people being humans to each other inspires me. Hannah: I always need to be doing something because my mind is always running. It is my way of distracting myself. If I am not doing anything, then I’ll be super depressed. Creating is gratifying. Making stuff for other people is inspiring for me. Seeing people interact with it is inspiring. Nicole: Chicago has such an amazing, small, and intimate community of artists and creators and musicians and performers and we don’t even know them all. We’ve merely scratched the surface. I come from North Carolina and it’s just dry. There’s nothing there. Being here is so amazing. There’s so much going on and I want to be involved with everything. It’s inspiring to be in a city that’s constantly moving and changing. Sam: I’m from Chicago and it’s still super inspiring to me. My group of friends are full of women and people of color and “gentle” men and that’s really important for self-preservation. I want to share their stories. I ask myself, how do I show that this is all real? This exists. I wanna showcase this generation of people and how they interact with the world. When you see hate speech you ask yourself, “how does that happen?” because you surround yourself with love, but in my work, I want to show that if that can happen in “real” life, it can happen on screen too. The women of VAM are glowing with the kind of passion that can start revolutions, a certain sort of fire that will bring our generation to a better, more productive place. It’ll be one that celebrates humans for being humans with loud identities and vivid realities. VAM is a team of resilient creators, tired, but prepared to show the world what it needs to see, no matter what it takes, again and again and again. Find VAM online at vamstudio.net
healing The staff of Hooligan Magazine pride ourselves in creating an accepting and loving community of creators, writers, editors, and readers. Believe us when we say that we were deeply hurt and saddened by the outcome of this election. First and foremost, we do not condone hate here. We will always encourage our community to come to us with questions and concerns. Like us, you may still be feeling hurt and angry by what the American political system has thrown our way. In the next few pages, our staffers have offered their thoughts on some aspects of post-election realitiesâ€”from how to responsibly use your phone for political and social good to what a Trump presidency might mean for the environment. We hope you find some resources here. There are plenty of great causes to rally behind right now that need and deserve your support. If all else fails, rally behind each other because that is what will keep us fighting. With love and kindness,
Your editors Morgan, Rivka, and Jaclyn
TABLEOFCONTENTS What You Need To Know About The Electoral College (And Why We Should Get Rid Of It) BY / ANNA BRUNER
GET GREATER: BEING AGAINST A PRESIDENT IN WORD AND IN ACTION BY / NIC DEADMAN
THE POWERFUL IMPACT OF THE DIRECT LINE BY / ALLISON SHYER
THOUGHTS ON PRIORITIZING LOCAL BUSINESSES BY / RORY BRITT
FIVE ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTING POSITIVE CHANGE BY / CHARLENE HAPARIMWI
THIS IS HOW WE SAVE THE PLANET BY / COLE JERMYN
with photos from alison hein AND KEVIN ALLEN DURING THE CHICAGO PROTESTS
WHAT YOU NEED
TO KNOW ABOUT THE
(AND WHY WE SHOULD GET RID OF IT) by / anna bruner photos by / alison hein
“Let us remember we are all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law, basic respect for public order, and the right of peaceful protest.” — Barack Obama
Imagine that you and your entire extended family are trying to go out to dinner. The cousins want Olive Garden, mom and dad are leaning towards Ruby Tuesday, and the aunts and uncles are torn between Cheesecake Factory and Red Lobster. Suddenly, Grandma suggests leaving the decision up to cousin Rupert, because Rupert is the favorite for some dumb reason, even though he hasn’t been at the past three Thanksgiving dinners. Rupert wants TGIFriday’s, and since Grandma had to go ahead and give Rupert that power, you’re now stuck eating reheated frozen wings when you could have been enjoying fresh crab cakes the size of your head. Rupert is the Electoral College. Ever since human Chernobyl disaster Donald Trump was named the president elect, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about the Electoral College. Despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by over two million votes and counting, Trump won the electoral vote, and for some reason that’s what decides who gets to be president. We’ve seen this happen before—it’s how we got George W. Bush in 2000. This isn’t the first time people have taken to the streets—and the internet— demanding we dismantle the Electoral College despite many not really understanding what it is. It seems to be an aloof monster woven into our political system, a looming shadow, a vague, villainous cult of power. In truth, it is of all those things to an extent, but it certainly wasn’t intended to be.
So what is the Electoral College?
The Electoral College is not, in fact, a college, so put away the tequila. It’s more like a sort of club of 538 electors spread across all 50 states. A state’s number of electors equals the number of representatives and senators the state has in Congress. In the case of representatives, this number is based on the respective populations of states’ districts, hence why California has 55 electors and Oklahoma has 7. Each state chooses their own electors, who then pledge to vote for a party’s candidate. Although no elector is required by federal law to honor their pledge, there have been very few occasions when an elector voted contrary to a pledge. If an elector does not vote for the candidate they pledged to vote for (Example: I’m an elector who pledged to vote democrat, but I decided to vote for a republican instead, even though the democrats had the popular vote in my state), that elector becomes known as a faithless elector. A rather fitting title. Twenty six states have laws set up against faithless electors, but the rest do not, which in theory means anything goes. But who exactly are the electors?
The Constitution bars any federal official from being an elector, which means the electors are mostly just citizens. Some of them are retired politicians, or relatives of politicians, but there are also doctors, lawyers, and maybe the occasional teacher in the mix. But overall, they’re just people whose votes hold more power than “regular” votes, because each state deemed that they were worthy of that power for some reason. If they're just citizens, why did we even make the Electoral College?
There’s really no way to gloss over this. Like a lot of things in this country, we have the Electoral College because of slavery. Back in the early years of our great nation, only white landowning males were able to vote. This voter demographic was much more prolific in northern states, leaving southern voters feeling alienated and underrepresented by their government. Hence, the Electoral College, along with a little thing called The Three Fifths Compromise, came into being. Each slave, despite being unable to vote, was to be counted as 3/5 of a person, a population which would affect how many electoral votes the southern states got, thus giving states like Virginia a ton of voting power at the time, despite having significantly fewer “qualified” voters than some northern states.
“There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.” —The Federal Convention, 1787
So the whole thing about slavery is awful, but isn't The Elec2 toral College good because it helps represent states with large populations, kind of like the popular vote?
Actually, the Electoral College benefits smaller states, and actually grants them more, not equal, power than larger states. If you live in a state with fewer people, then your vote has more power. Wyoming only has 3 electoral votes, so that’s one electoral vote per 135,000 voters. Meanwhile, California has 55 electoral votes, coming in at one electoral vote per 411,000 voters. In other words, it takes three times as many Californians to equal one vote in Wyoming. This is how we end up with swing states, like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Essentially, the next president is determined by just a handful of states, meaning that presidential candidates can largely ignore most of the country while campaigning.
Okay, that seems pretty shady. So why haven't people tried to get rid of the Electoral College?
It is shady. And people have tried. According to the National Archives, there have been more proposed constitutional amendments to change the Electoral College than any other topic (700 proposals in Congress in the last 200 years, in fact). Currently, only about a third of Americans support keeping the institution in practice. Enough states benefit from the Electoral College (all conservative-leaning states, as chance would have it), that amending the Constitution,which is already difficult enough to do, is highly unlikely. So what can we do?
Even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, it’s highly unlikely that our country will dismantle the Electoral College by January 20th. So, call your Congressman and voice your opinion on the subject. Research the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, or, NPVIC. Protest. Get your friends involved. In the meantime, donate to charities which help those most affected by Trump’s presidency (five great ones are listed in this section). Participate in local government by going to town hall meetings. Hell, you can even run for office yourself. Call your Senator and Representative every day. Sign petitions. Volunteer. And, most importantly, vote, vote, vote, and keep voting. The Electoral College was meant to prevent presidents like Trump. Clearly, it has failed. But as history has proven time and time again, we are always capable of change. Don’t let cousin Rupert dictate what you should eat for dinner. You deserve those crab cakes.
IN WORD AND IN PRACTICE BY / NIC DEADMAN PHOTOS BY / KEVIN ALLEN
The next man at the helm of the United States is reprehensible beyond any description you could put in print. His Vice President, Mike Pence, encourages torturous medical experimentation that could outshine some 1940s-era war criminals. The whole affair would be a laughable caricature of American values, except now it feels less and less like a caricature and more like the mask is coming off. This is what’s been there all along. So people go out in the streets. They make demands. They donate to the ACLU. If they live in Portland or Los Angeles, maybe they burn some things. Still, we all know that Trump is going to be sworn into one of the largest seats of power in the world and we’ve got four long years to deal with accordingly. There may not be much hope in petitioning our representatives for a better deal. Instead, it might prove more useful to prepare for what’s coming, get organized, and start building our own power. Activism often highlights performances of outrage or simple acts of volunteerism, but there are other ways to use your energy—materially affecting the world and building networks of strength and support to take on the opposition ahead of us. Below are a handful of Chicago-area projects that illustrate the variety of skills, resources, and actions that can contribute to creating that power for ourselves.
The Breakaway Social Center is a space in Little Village that aims to be a gathering place for radical activity in the area. They host potluck assemblies every Wednesday, open to everyone. Find them at: breakawaysocialcenter.org The Autonomous Tenants Union is a group of renters organizing together to stop evictions, defend tenants’ rights, and fight gentrification. They utilize their collective strength to put pressure on landlords who might otherwise take advantage of desperate, low-income renters. Find them at: facebook.com/AutonomousTen2 antsUnion/
is a prisoner support group specifically for LGBTQ people imprisoned in Illinois. The Liberation Library focuses their efforts on youth prisoners. Both are explicitly in favor of abolishing the prison system that keeps millions of people behind bars. Find them at: blackandpink.org/chapters/chicago and liberationlib.com respectively. Black & Pink Chicago
The Chicago Abortion Fund falls into a more traditional category of volunteerism and charity, but their financial support to those in need of abortions is a practical necessity for countless people. Find them at: chicagoabortionfund.org The same goes for the Chicago Bond Fund, which uses its funding to bail out people who are being held under ransom (sorry— bond) before trial. Find them at: chicagobond.org The First Defense Legal Aid provides free lawyers to people being held in Chicago Police custody. Without their own legal aid, arrestees aren’t presented with a lawyer until a judge appoints one, which may be more than two days after arrest. They can be reached at 1-800-LAWREP4, or visit their website at: first-defense.org The Sex Worker Outreach Project provides free legal services to people involved in the sex industry. For those who work in a field that often faces an array of hostilities and legal threats, SWOP is a vital resource. Find them at: swopusa.org is a radical technology collective. They give trainings on digital security and anti-surveillance measures. They have also undertaken several projects analyzing the operations of the Chicago Police Department. Find them at: lucyparsonslabs.com
Lucy Parsons Labs
Speaking of tech, FreeGeek Chicago is a good spot to get free hands-on IT training—and a computer—if you volunteer with them for 24 hours total. Find them at: freegeekchicago.org Beyond any list of projects and organizations to devote your time to, what may be most important is recognizing the conflicts and powers that flow through your everyday life. Struggling to pay the rent, suffering harassment on the street, fearing deportation or imprisonment, having your legitimacy as a human being called into question—any one of these things is both a threat and a terrain to position yourself on. Talk with your friends. Figure out where your enemies draw power from and then figure out how to tear those connections apart. Acquire new skills. Find new ways of taking action. When racist demagogues talk about outlawing abortion and registering Muslims, remember that just because the law exists doesn’t mean you have to follow it. Plan accordingly.
HE POWERFUL IMPACT OF
Direct Line by / allison shyer photos by / alison hein
Like many of my generation, I have been coping with a sense of hopelessness and despair unmitigated by a seemingly endless stream of media rehashing and deconstruction of the election and the current state of America. We are a generation that saw the uprising and significant backlash of “social media activism:” the idea that liking and sharing things on Facebook is not an effective way to create change or reach the people who are making decisions. Expressing your frustration about the appointment of Steve Bannon in a status update might be momentarily cathartic, but it ultimately feels inconsequential. In an eye opening series of tweets, Emily Ellsworth (@editoremilye), a former congressional staffer, explained that representatives and policy makers respond most directly to phone calls. This information, while in some ways is very common-sense, is also revelatory. She explained that staffers do not look at Facebook comments except to remove the harassing ones. They are also often overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of emails they receive—it’s not uncommon for the only responses offered to be ones generated by computer algorithms. However, it is the responsibility of public representatives offices to respond to all calls. Although calling your representative may feel like a small deed on its own, calls in mass have the power to elicit responses from those in government and put representatives under more pressure to act with urgency, as a high volume of calls can overwhelm the daily workings of their offices. The political process can sometimes feel as obscure and out of our control as the papal conclave. We forget that public representatives, senators and members of congress, were elected to office to represent their constituents. Although my faith in this tenet of democracy has dwindled over the course of my life, it still feels brave and important to call the offices of those who purport to represent me and my community.
I called the offices of Mark Kirk, the current junior Illinois state senator, Richard Durbin, the current senior Illinois state senator, and Tammy Duckworth, a current Illinois representative and the junior Illinois state senator elect, to discuss my discontent at the appointment of the racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic Steve Bannon as the chief White House strategist to the president elect. I was nervous, but I wrote myself a little speech that I could read and it felt important and exhilarating to finally talk to someone on the phone who was in a position to enact change. I decided to send along a message to my mom in New York to do the same, it was exciting to work alongside her and feel a sense of solidarity. It was a small thing we could both do. It was something we could do every day. Later that week a friend of mine shared the words of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a representative from New York, in regards to the appointment of Steve Bannon:
“The appointment of Steve Bannon to a senior position in the White House rightly raises the fears of many of my constituents. Mr. Bannon has said that he is proud that Breitbart, under his leadership, has become a place for the Alt Right, a group which the Anti-Defamation League defined as ‘a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists.’ This kind of hate has no place in the White House. I am deeply disappointed with this decision and I strongly oppose this appointment.” I felt a pang of pride when I realized what one of the constituents that Maloney was speaking for was my mom. A rising number of public representatives have begun to speak out against Bannon on behalf of their constituents. House democrats, 169 so far, have asked the president elect to fire Bannon immediately, stating that, “millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.” During a time of hopelessness and disenfranchisement, as I see the highest offices in the government being overtaken by people who represent the most violent and hateful side of American ideology, it has been helpful for me to feel empowered to call the offices of representatives. It has felt increasingly important to do this, even in the case of those whose policies I do not agree with. Paul Ryan is currently conducting a phone survey to gather public opinion about repealing the Affordable Care Act. Although it was alarming to sit through the heavily jargoned speech that leads into the survey, it felt all the more important to do so as someone who was giving a different answer than the one the survey was pandering for. I hope that as we begin to face the brutal outcomes of this election together, we continue to share resources that enable all of us, even those who are unable to physically participate in forms of protest, to make ourselves heard to our government. The offices of Illinois Senator Mark Kirk can be reached at: (202) 224-2854 The offices of Illinois Senator Richard Durbin can be reached at: (202) 224-2152 The offices of Illinois Representative Tammy Duckworth can be reached at: (202) 225-3711 The offices of the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, can be reached at: (202) 225-3031 Find your representatives and their contact info by going to house.gov/representatives/find/
THOUGHTS ON PRIORITIZING BY / RORY BRITT PHOTO BY / KEVIN ALLEN
A few years ago, I was at the grocery store in my neighborhood just picking up a few items when I started to make small talk with the person at the register. I always enjoyed getting in his line particularly because he was a delightful weirdo. My now ex-partner looked at me and said, “you make friends wherever you go. You really love talking to people.” It was then it occurred me that I, the Jewish daughter of two small business owners from New York City, had in fact become like my parents. When you work as part of the community, you treat every member of the community as a personal comrade—a best friend for life. When Donald Trump was announced as our president-elect two weeks ago, I felt compelled to take action. With the holiday season upon us, I decided to focus on small businesses across America. I encourage people not only to shop local, but to shop locally with a priority for those who would be most affected by the results of the election: business owners in marginalized communities. For me, boycotts have always seemed too defeating. This time around, the things I can change are where I choose to spend my money and my encouragement for others to not boycott every single business that has worked with Trump, but instead spend that money on the businesses that need the boost right now. I chose to put together a zine of businesses across the nation owned or run by the historically marginalized—the ones that have the most to lose with this election’s results. It shocked me—maybe it shouldn’t—that the response I was most often met with, even by my most radical friends was, “I honestly don’t know any businesses in my community or who owns them.” We are busy people. Most of us are working every day just make it home with barely enough time to practice any self-care or see our loved ones. Maybe this is privilege talking in some way. Times are incredibly tough right now for so many of us as we begin to face an uncertain future. Let’s start with building stronger communities. Let’s get to know the business owners in our communities. Let’s spend an extra three minutes or so checking in with them. They say a smile can change someone’s day, how about remembering their names? How about prioritizing their stores? What are you getting your friends and family this holiday season? Can you find a place in your community to grab them a gift? We can all take a stand against the current political climate by doing what most of us do best: going about our daily lives with renewed focus on where we place our efforts. For more information on Rory’s small business project, Burn Black Zine, visit burnblackzine.com
FIVE ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTING BY / Charlene Haparimwi PHOTO BY / ALISON HEIN
Post-election fatigue is a real thing, and we know we’re feeling it, but if you’re itching to heed the call to action and want to help promote a more accepting social and political agenda, check out some of these organizations. The needs of each group will vary, but donations are always welcomed. The American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nationwide organization that works to preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. The ACLU’s work include defending voting rights, fighting back against political attacks on reproductive rights, and trying to rid the judicial system of racial bias. For more information, please visit aclu.org. Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood is an over 100-year-old organization that provides safe and affordable reproductive healthcare and sexual education to people all over the world. They are often targeted by conservative and Christian politicians for helping to supply women with family planning options, including abortion, but their services go far beyond that. Their website offers multiple ways to get involved with their organization. For more information, please visit plannedparenthood.org and click on the ‘Get Involved’ tab. National Immigration Forum
The National Immigration Forum is one of America’s leading immigrant advocacy institutions. They work to advocate for the immense value of immigrant efforts and for safer, more streamlined immigration to the United States by creating opportunities for immigrants to “gain the skills and status needed to reach their full potential.” For more information, please visit immigrationforum.org Sylvia Rivera Law Project
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project works to fight discrimination against gender non-conforming, intersex, and transgender people, especially those who are low-income and people of color. They strive to improve access to social, health, and legal services for these communities because “in order to create meaningful political participation and leadership, we must have access to basic means of survival and safety from violence.” For more information, please visit srlp.org. EarthJustice
EarthJustice is the nation’s largest nonprofit environmental law organization. They use legal expertise from thousands of attorneys to work towards environmental justice. They represent every single one of their clients free of charge. The organization aims to protect land and wildlife, ensure access to clean air and water, and move global communities towards clean energy solutions. For more information, please visit earthjustice.org. This collection of groups just skims the surface of the people out there trying to do great things in their communities. We encourage those looking to make donations or volunteer to do their research and find a group that best represents the good they want to see in the world.
THIS IS HOW WE BY / COLE JERMYN PHOTO BY / ALISON HEIN
When Donald Trump was elected on November 8th, many Americans understandably began to fear for their own personal safety personal safety, and that of their friends and family. This fear is wholly justified, given the Trump campaign’s rhetoric during the campaign regarding Muslims, LGBTQ individuals, and other minorities.On top of this, the next four years could be the worst in recent history for the health of our planet. Trump’s ambivalence towards environmental regulations, and science in general, is well documented. In 2012 he tweeted that, “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” He has said he plans to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement and he has vowed to bring back coal mining jobs to Appalachia. Along with his own statements, Trump has surrounded himself with advisors hell-bent on reinforcing his own anti-science, anti-climate stances. Before joining the campaign in August, soon-to-be chief White House strategist Steve Bannon left his leadership role at the alt-right website Breitbart, a site known for publishing pieces such as “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over In 2016” and “Climate Alarmists Invent New Excuse: The Satellites Are Lying.” The head of Trump’s transition team for the EPA, Myron Ebell, is the chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition—a group that describes itself as “focused on dispelling the myths of global warming.” He is also the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank partially funded by fossil fuel companies. It is also important to note that Ebell has no degree or formal training in climatology or any scientific field. His degrees are in philosophy and political theory. This begs the question, what can be done by an individual in the face of ignorant leadership? For those who have the money, donations to advocacy groups such as the National Resources Defense Council (nrdc.org) or news outlets such as the Pulitzer Prize winning Inside Climate News (insideclimatenews.org) can help to magnify an individual’s voice. But it is not enough to throw money at the problem. We need to get our hands dirty. Many climate change deniers like Myron Ebell have been so effective at slowing progress on this issue because they respond to scientists’ distanced objectivism by appealing to people’s emotions. “There are holdouts among the urban bi-coastal elite,” Ebell told PBS’s FRONTLINE back in 2012, “but I think we’ve won the debate with the American people in the heartland, the people who get their hands dirty, people who dig stuff up, grow stuff and make stuff for a living, people who have a closer relationship to tangible reality, to stuff.” This targeting of “real” americans, ironically coming with a man with a degree from the London School of Economics, implies the more liberal, college-educated population of the U.S. doesn’t have a say in environmental issues because we don’t personally herd cattle. Personally standing up for the land, air, and water that surrounds us is the strongest recourse we have. This can take many forms, from reaching out to local parks and forest preserves for any volunteer opportunities, to joining local advocacy groups that do conservation work in your area. The most effective conservation efforts are those that are grassroots movements, led by those care about their local environment. This can come from anyone, whether you live in the midwest or are a card-carrying member of the “urban bicoastal elite.” The next four years will not be easy for environmentalists. After January 20th, we will see an abrupt shift from one of the most environmentally-progressive administrations in U.S. history, to a group that appears hell-bent on dismantling every forward step made over the past century. Only through passion, persistence, and concentrated anger, will we be able to hold the frontlines and continue to fight to save our planet.
spilled ink spilled ink
INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO WATER THE PLANTS
by Scout Kelly I am away on vacation and if you fuck this up, you can’t have the 20 bucks. Don’t feed the cat because it doesn’t belong to me; it’s my ex’s and it keeps just hanging around the damn house. The cactus just needs a misting and the rest of them want you to flood the place while you sing Loretta Lynn. I took the dogs with me. Don’t worry about the paw prints or the empty kennel. Take the boxing gloves in the living room and punch out every mirror that looks at you wrong. They all will. Don’t forget to turn the compost. Throw some in the garden. I don’t want the neighbors thinking that I don’t know what I’m doing. I left you one match on the counter. Burn the house down or keep it. I’m never coming back. Pretty sure it’s haunted.
by Rosie Accola I should have washed this flannel instead of just drenching it in febreeze, after rescuing it from a pile of dirty underwear Today I learned, that the thing where Prozac puts a ceiling on your boundless capacity for joy, like a shook soda hissing is called “emotional blunting” It sucks that I have to choose between my ability to get out of bed and my ability to be a speck in the cosmos finding pale saints in the ether of youtube blissed out on minor power chords So dig me out, teach me how to help myself, tell me when to leave I wanna be uncomplicated and autumnal like a kid on Halloween but I’ve got broken headphones and student loans and an ambivalence towards everything I wanna get a handle on this. I wanna pet my dog. I wanna curl up on the couch with her, watch freaks and geeks, press my face into her copper spit scented fur Instead, I am alone and all I can do is try and help myself.
first love poem in recent memory
by Julien Baker There must have been a swarm of insects there the whole time. I stopped hearing Cicadas, or feeling them land on my skin. Not because they werenâ€™t there, they just kind of Blended in with the air conditioning unit. When I saw you it was quiet for the first time in recent memory. Ears were all blood and hornets, banished by tender silence. The back of my head is an open china cabinet spilling into her palms gently collecting delicate porcelain rubble, dust hovering in sunlight above her sheets and it is so still In my brain that I can hear lips parting less than an inch From my ear. She is a dinner plate suspended in mid-air, miraculously, and I am linoleum trying to be soft In case.
I Used To Hate Landscapes
November 2016 by Lucy Dacus I used to hate landscapes but now I have memories and new buttons to press new triggers to trip a weakened and emboldened heart with a backlog of old beauty expectable and easily attained not so easily contained vague and dwindling in clarity seeking solace in failed remembrance in a landscape that admits defeat
Poem to God
by Erin Roux So often things fit So perfectly, a honey bee to an iris a root to the contours of mud and grass a man’s hand around the neck of A newborn kitten. The bees sit Unmoving In the folds of the flower The tree cracks and Pieces fly, attempting to latch Into the mud. The kitten is contorted into a Question mark And she mews for a drop Of warm milk. I watch and I can’t do a thing. I watch and I can’t Do a thing. I am just as frightened As you are.
by Dana Land In the evening, after work, I sit and rot. And I wonder if in the evening, after work, you rot too. If our lives, a still life mirror image reflecting. If you, like I, get up, fed up with the rotting and wasting and leave the spot to enter the night, and invite upon a new boy with no boundaries. Returning, in the morning, before work, to smudge the left over eyeliner and call it a look, and delete the names plagued by questions marks from your cell phoneâ€™s contact book. I wonder if, in the afternoon during work, you daydream of coming home to the real life version of the still life memory? Or if you focus all energy to resign to a life lived in the afterword of a book with no sequel.
by Anya Martin You are the diving board off of which my vomit leaps. Boomerang, I am covered in acid. A physical manifestation of the disgust you inspire. Forget me as I will forget you! The stench of bile remains even after all is through.
A Painting Poised in Sunlight
by Landon Kuhlmann a contrast like waxing sunlight stroking rays out past and over mountains of circles confined within a white box living a long, white life and I’ve removed it from the bench where the other pieces stand hung on gravity’s perfect hook the absolute center of all force and symmetry in a room golden marble benches aligned among succulents and peace signs shaped from rusted purple steel looming above a flower in an empty bottle which has been painted to the likeness of a whole forest, and seven unlit candles – wouldn’t they all have wanted to be picked? I ask how it feels to be one by choice.
by Joseph McCormick i am blushing with tender honest feelings i am so sad to see you go i love you on a rainy day with our wet hair and clothes we peel them off and stand naked in the bathroom shivering and glowing soft white light youâ€™re turned away i am painting fierce fiery moods on your face when you are turned i am the worldâ€™s most prolific painter painting sullen landscapes in your eyeballs and ancient wars, with wine-red blood on purple cloaks, in the space between your eyebrows i paint, then i burn the painting then i start again within seconds, masterpieces that move through misery and boundless hope, with grace, like Godâ€™s light glancing through a morning mist like your light, and me, longing, longing, for you to end the mystery to turn and smile and for the smile to be an old smile that will wake my confused soul to the easy rhythm of two bodies humming with life and love ringing with truth, nestled into time cozily, like a hand in a pocket
by Bethany Allen I wonder why, when my mom hugs me, why does she put her hand on my shoulder and bend her elbow down between us so that I can’t hug her with my torso to hers? It’s a way of defending herself from aggression or rejection, I don’t know which. We put our heads beside each other’s for a second. She lets go.
la esta pendeja
by Bianca Monique Quinones If my body is a temple Then it is built from bricks of stress Cortisol and neglect Early in life Have led to itâ€™s deformation Constant humiliation Constant belittling Constant ridiculing The banging on the walls Never stopped Its insicous in my culture A gradual path to self hate It has taken all this time To destroy that inner voice
by Jaclyn Jermyn My eighth grade homeroom teacher leaned over her desk, stacks of ungraded papers piled around her. She called the paper bin the wastebasket because trash was a woman of questionable morals. She looked at me. “You know, it’s supposed to be good luck if the first words you speak of each new month are ‘rabbit rabbit’.” I woke up at five. And at ten thirty I whispered ‘rabbit rabbit’ under my breath in a crowded subway car. It wasn’t cheating. It was snowing and I was saving my breath.
The Morning After
by Megan Stringer The morning after I paid An extra dollar for coffee; Black, a refill. I didnâ€™t need any more of it but Wanted to feel the familiar taste Slide down and soothe my aching throat On a morning when backwash kept surging And there was no longer anything familiar About my country, And my streets sat quiet, And Jackson mourned And Van Buren bemoaned And State deplored And Wabash bleed, Bleed bleed bleed With the fear leaking from the sewers below And falling from the heavy clouds above, And settling in our hearts. The November 9th sun couldnâ€™t help. 2017 is getting closer And America is afraid, And I am afraid That my comfort in familiarity is gone, And the mundane is over, And the rolling tears have taken place The daily shouts a welcome in our ears.
by Shannon Shreibak Tell me about the moment when you misplaced the key to your wedlock and decided to break and enter me. About the century-old curse we danced upon the night we met and the decade-young vows you broke the morning you left. Tell me again how the silver lining welded to your finger is worth less than a bottle of tequila and a bag of bruised limes. Let me check your math—I’ll scratch arithmetic across your back. Once more, tell me about the moment when you saw me sitting on a wall of ivy and decided I would be the last thread to pull on the sweater that keeps you warm and wed. Let me tell you about how my heart is a broken record skipping across your name. I am scotch and smoke and spoiled milk. I am an open window on a rainy day. Listen to me tell you why you are a blackout without a candle to light. You are burnt bulbs and flat tires, convenience store wine and weak coffee. I am catching raindrops in thimbles. You are picking daisies in the outfield. I have a freckle on my eye. You can’t remember my middle name. You built a home with dead-end tomorrows, I am hammering nails in your hands. I’ll learn to be strong while you try to be kind. You go your way; I’ll find mine.
Featuring PWR BTTM, Brown Girls: A Web Series, The Women of VAM, Bianca Xunise, Volumes Bookcafe, A Guide To Post-Election Healing, and more...