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pré·cis 摘要 issue five volume one

december.twenty fourteen

cargo: pré·cis publisher & editor: chris stecher graphics: stech design photography: stech, melissa davis, eric sherman, kaitlan murray, YPDR, edward lalonde, aram sohigian contributing writers: kat tosi, chris parizo, william griffith, edward hutchins, kaitlan murray, cameron saunders, bridgette o’connor, cheryl lister christopher p. white, aram sohigian penelope rocketship, ratdog, jamie lynn bellanger banta, alex lanson ___________________________ content submissions and /or letters to the editor are welcome. please keep letters to 250 words,submissions to 750 words, photos and images need to be at least 200 dpi at size. contact : stech@outlook.com

A WORD OR TWO ABOUT IMAGES AND CONTENT All images and content are wholly and completely owned by the respective contributor. No redistribution of images, artwork or republication of any content can be made without written authorization of the individual contributor.


editorias {rant} - 2 gigs {music} - 3,4 manchus.. a primer {history} - 5,6 the ride {travel} - 7,8 word on the street {music} - 9-12 off the grid, eco-retreat {travel} - 13-15 from the bay to beijing {travel} - 17,18 talk story {travel} - 19,20 the millineal generation {teaching} - 21,22 gig review (temple 11.22.14) {music} - 23,24 inter.view (scare the children) {music} - 25,26 in.sight (the ledge) {non-fiction} 29,30 - x beastly diction {fiction} - 31,32 rising to the challenge {stepping up} - 35-37 the five eyes {interview} - 39,40 kats window on china {food} - 42 featured images {eric sherman} - 43,44 featured images (edward lalonde} - 46 cartoon {joel fremming} - 47 images- 28,33,34,38,45

pré·cis editorias

Goodbye and hello I wish I could describe how it feels to say goodbye to people. It in itself would be a good legacy to pass on to others, as it is the one of the only things all human beings have in common. There are many goodbyes, too many in fact. Some tragic and sudden. Ones you want to happen and ones you don’t. There are those that are all too permanent, and ones that you know, at least hope, will culminate in another hello. That’s an oversimplification of the vast array of variants, but it will do for the purposes of this missive. I am pondering the latter writing this now over overpriced beers, freezing my tuckus off outside one of the few bars Beijing will not let you smoke in. I said goodbye the other night to two friends who are leaving China for newer and grander adventures. Aram and Jill, whom my darling wife and I met a year ago, and far too soon will be leaving tomorrow. (In a sense they won’t be far, they both, starting with this issue, will be writing columns on their travels. (That can be found here) Their going away party was epic, with many people whose lives they have touched coming out to pay their respect. A real shindig. There were custom made triple bock beers and cupcakes... Really awesome cupcakes, and the beer did not, as they say, suck.

We live an hour away from where the party was held, so it took a while to make the way through the labyrinth of side streets to get a taxi, which in the cold Beijing winter gave me time to think about the universality of saying goodbye. It is one of two words that humanity, and possibly all species on the planet, first learn when we are born. Regardless of race, creed, religion, or global political affiliations ... It is one of the two words that can never be misconstrued as something that can be threatening or bastardized into some sort of biased slur. These two words are pure.

sad, even in the case of losing someone through death. You can always fall back to the fond memory of the first word we were ever taught, and the first word you ever told them. Which brings me to the conclusion of this rant. The first, of two, words we were ever taught.

The world is now a hotbed of hatred. race relations, sectarian violence, rich to poor discrepancies, you hate me so I hate you, your religion sucks and mine rules, I love Nickleback so I hate you, you hit on my girlfriend When we were very young, these in a bar, your soccer team sucks, and were the first things we were the list just goes on and on. taught... I was thinking about this on the walk home when I encountered a But… drunken Chinese after-bar fight. This is universal as well, ugly as it is, and The first word we were ever taught I don’t need to speak the language was…”Hello.” to know it involved too much alcohol, and was over the favor of a woman... I think the world would do better Although it could just have been over remembering this one, because a man... Whichever. “Goodbye” doesn’t have to be forever (and I am sure the lawyers for Which brought me back to the Bread will sue me for that), but on a thoughts of saying goodbye. global scale, it more than often is. Whilst in the taxi going home it But “Hello” offers so much more struck me that it really is a sad word, promise. Use it wherever you can. and over the course of time has enabled more tears than can probably ~ stech fill an ocean. But I had the thought that it doesn’t necessarily have to be 02

Demerit, Bastards of Imperialism, Bad Mamasan @ SCHOOL 12.06.2014





by Cameron Saunders

Manchus, a primer.

history. sedentary, civilize, and develop those outward signs of high culture, like architecture and literature.

There are certain arcs one becomes familiar with when they immerse themselves in the study of Chinese history. One might be the passage of numerous dynasties over what had been (until recently, arguably) relatively stable and incomparably ancient agricultural society. Another might be the Chinese legacy of monumental public works, like the Great Wall or the Grand Canal. These particular engineering projects point to a third arc: the conflict between the civilization of the Han Chinese that emanated from the Yangtze River Valley in the country’s south and the nomadic barbarians who roamed the Asian steppes to the north. It was a conflict that would remain in place so long as the Han sought to remain


The people from the north, more warlike in nature and capability, could sweep down and upset the wealthier but more vulnerable Han, as they did on several occasions, most outstandingly when the Mongol Kubilai Khan conquered China in the 13th century and again when the Manchus rode through the gates of Beijing in 1644 to establish the Qing Dynasty, which would dominate China until 1911. Beijing, the city loved and loathed by so many of us today, finds its original purpose in this great struggle between civilization and barbarism. Why, after all, is the capital of the country (which it has been, off and on, for nearly a thousand years) placed so far north of its cultural heartland? Who built it here in the first place, the conquerers or the conquered? And what about Beijing life today remains a byproduct of this tension that lies beneath its foundation? According to Jasper Becker in his informative history of

Beijing, The City of Heavenly Tranquility, the Khitans were the first to make Beijing a city of great consequence when, in the 10th century CE, they built its first walls and turned it into the capital of their Liao Dynasty, which ruled over what is today much of northeast China and parts of Mongolia. This was one of the barbarian kingdoms that managed to make tributaries out of the Han Chinese Song Dynasty based in the south (the bounty of the more prosperous south came to be sent north along the Grand Canal, the artificial river connecting Hangzhou to Beijing). Then came the Mongols, the might and viciousness of whose armies would come to be felt across the Eurasian landmass, from East Asia to Central Europe. These Mongols. with their superior abilities in horseback warfare, would make their nation of 7 million first overtake the 40 million strong Jurchen Empire (who had moved in on the Khitans from the north) before moving south to subdue and conquer the 70 million strong Song Dynasty. As mentioned, once conquering China, the great Mongol emperor Kubiliai

Khan, made Beijing the capital of his vast but short-lived empire. Han Chinese power reasserted itself not long after, establishing the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century. This is when Beijing began to take on the appearance and place in Chinese society that it has kept to this day. The great Ming Emperor Yongle can be thought of as the author of the city’s skeleton (the flesh having been bulldozed over the last twenty years). He built the Forbidden City and the great battlements that were in place until they were destroyed in Mao’s time to make room for the Second Ring Road (the boundary demarcating the 25 square-mile heart of old Beijing). Yongle and his Ming successors also turned Beijing into what was essentially the largest fortress in the world.

steppes of Asia. Even the Beijing accent, famous for ending its words in rrrrrr’s, has been suggested to be a trace of the Manchu language which was more laden with consonants than the vowel-rich putonghua.

They were understandably wary of the barbarian invasions that had been plaguing China for the prior few centuries, and so moved a majority of their military garrisons northwards to surround the new capital. They established vast border outposts (for example the city of Datong, 180 miles west of Beijing in Shanxi Province). And of course, they built the Great Wall of China that today attracts so many winded visitors. Rather than being a straight line, the Ming wall snakes back and forth in layers across the region north of the capital. As monumental as the Great Wall is, and it is the greatest defensive engineering feat ever undertaken in the history of humankind, it ultimately failed in its purpose. By the middle of the 17th century, another band of northern barbarians, the Manchus conquered Beijing and consolidated their control over the rest of China. Indeed, for the next two and a half centuries this small ethnic minority would continue ruling over several hundred million Han Chinese. There were the ostensible signs of overlordship that would remain in place until 1911: male Chinese had to grow their hair, after a Manchu fashion, into to long braided queues, while the Manchu women were

not allowed to bind their feet, this seen by the northerners as a despised custom of the soft, luxuriant Han. Beijing itself became the center of this vast Manchu overlordship. The emperor

not so long ago, when 400,000 to 600,000 Manchus called Beijing home, a clear majority of the city’s population. They colored the culture of the city and brought with them many customs, foods and dress that today are considered as Chinese

If you talk to Beijjingers today, they will tell you with confidence that there are no Manchus left in the city. Of course, this is not true. Their descendants live on, even if awareness of history was given a jolt of sedatives in the upheavals of 20th century China. kept his friends close, allotting the portion of the city that surrounded his residence at the Forbidden City to his Manchu banners (their word for military regiments). If you look at a European map of Beijing from the 19th century you will see that the center of it is known as the Tartar City (Tartarus being the word for hell, the place where the Mongols were presumed to have originated from when they reached Europe centuries prior; in Western nomenclature it became a general word for all Asian steppe people). The area of the city south of Qianmen was known as the Chinese City, for it was here where the Han were allowed to settle and set up home. There was a time, and it was

as a plate of dumplings. The qipao is a good example. It is that slender-fitting dress with short-sleeves and slits running up the sides--that triumph of Chinese couture. But who else needs slits running up the sides of their skirts? Fierce horsemen who ride hands-free so they can operate bows-and-arrows, adroitly inflicting premature death on screaming peasants and impotent soldiers. Coming from the plains as they did, the Manchus also brought with them a culture of animal cultivation that you still see on the streets of Beijing. I’m thinking now of those old gentlemen you see throughout the day tending to their small caged birds, a piece of the city’s fabric imported from the

But where have all these Manchus gone? The traces of the culture they’ve left behind are considered by many to be Chinese inventions. The Manchu language--the official language of China for almost 300 years--is today listed on the endangered list. If you talk to Beijjingers today, they will tell you with confidence that there are no Manchus left in the city. Of course, this is not true. Their descendants live on, even if awareness of history was given a jolt of sedatives in the upheavals of 20th century China. As well, in the fevered nationalism of the past century, who would really want to admit to have sprung from the former foreign overlords. One famous son of Beijing, the writer Lao She, had a father who had been a Manchu bannerman, posted in the neighborhoods surrounding the imperial residences. How many more thousands have a similar pedigree? Perhaps, as often happens, the barbarians were civilized by the very people they for so long dominated. ______________________

Cameron Saunders was born and raised in New York City. He studied history in college. A year ago, unsure of what to do in life, he moved to Beijing, where he has become an English teacher, a student of Chinese and an occasional writer.


The Ride By RatDog


photo: RatDog

As I rode to the Gulf station on Wednesday, on Williston road in South Burlington, Vermont, it was cloudy but a very warm October day. I was wondering how many Geezers were going to show up for this ride. Many of them had moved South for the winter and a few had put their motorcycles up for the season. As I pulled into the station, only a few riders were present. We were going to ride to the famous Hancock Inn. At about 10 am, as we were burning sunlight as we rode to Interstate 89 south and headed down this newly repaved road. The State has done a good job of repaving lots of miles of highways within the State that badly needed it this summer. We got off at the Richmond exit and much of the fall foliage was still hanging with 07

in the trees. Lots of yellows and oranges covered the scenic area.

We stopped at my Ranch in Bolton so I could pick up my leather coat but unless it started to rain, I probably As we rode past Stech’s old won’t need it. Again, this apartment in Waitsfield, I section of route #2 was thought about him who got newly dug up and repaved and the road surface was as married and quickly moved smooth as a baby’s ass.

to China. How quickly things change! The road to Richmond village was repaved and take it from me who had to endure years of this stretch of the road, it was quite a difference. I checked my mirrors and made sure we were all together. As we left the Champlain Valley and headed into the first set of mountainous terrain, I thought about the numerous rides we did this year. From upper NYS to NH to many different restaurants in both northern and southern Vermont.

All the way we were riding at a fast clip until things changed again as we rode into Waterbury were things quickly changed. The State is installing a rotary at the intersection of route #2 and route #100. It didn’t take long to get past the construction and we rode past the former Waterbury Hospital which is being rebuilt to the tune of 220 million dollars! We crossed the Winooski River and made a quick right hand turn onto route #100 south. I

love this section of highway because it has 4 long curvy sections with a steady increasing speed limit. At Crossett Brook, the speed limit hits 50 as I twisted my throttle as we climbed the fairly large hill. It’s amazing that motorcycles really don’t have any effect to gravity as the low weight and high horsepower literally flatten out any hills. The highway to Waitsfield has lots of curvy sections and for the most part no traffic. Once again, the State repaved the road from route #100b in Moretown to Warren. All thou this section wasn’t to badly deteriorated, the State laid us down some fresh highway! As we rode past Stech’s old apartment in Waitsfield, I thought about him who got married and quickly moved

photo: RatDog

to China. How quickly things change! We stopped at the Gulf station in Waitsfield were we met Bev and Del as they were sitting on their 3 wheel trike. After some small talk, I took the led and headed south on route # 100. I put on my left hand signal as we made the huge 180 degree left hand turn past “Akes Place”. Again, the newly paved road all the way past the small village of Warren made the ride so much better. Lots of good foliage was left too. As I cruised south, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I was to ride a motorcycle on a regular. basis. Stereo, navigation screen, cruise, heated seats and hand grips, this rig has it all!

our rigs. Almost nobody was there but that was fine with us. The Hancock Inn is an old former Hotel with a cool wrap around porch and some very knowledgeable staff. They served us lunch and once again, Bev picked up the bill. Thanks Bev! The Hotel sits at the corner of route #100 and route #125. Nice place. After lunch, we all split in different directions. I retraced our route and stopped to pay my tax bill. Bev and Del took the trike to the Rochester mountain road and everybody else rode on route #125 west towards Middlebury. By the time I rode into Waterbury, I was sweating my ass off as the humidity level made it feel like a summer day. I guess that’s why they called it an Indian summer day.

We arrived at the Hancock Inn at about noon and parked

The Vermont Geezers Motorcycle Club formed about 10 years ago when a bunch of Riders from IBM got laid off or retired and want to form a group which it would be easy to attend. weekends were out so the idea would be to meet at 10 am on wednesdays for a 2 hour ride to area restaurants. The response was amazing and still continues to this year. We have some regulars and some riders who can only ride once a year. We usually hit restaurants that are family owned and no fast food joints. Check out our Facebook page at Vermont Geezers Motorcycle Club 08

word on the street @livebeijingmusic.com

by William Griffith

As the music scene continues to grow here, Beijing is finding more and more room for expats making a name for themselves musically. And while most will never make it past their expat bubble, they are some who reach far and beyond. That’s where Luv Plastik comes in, a red hot fury of fuzzed out garage rock that’s trashy, volatile, and heaps of unhinged fun. I had a chance to sit down with the Dan Taylor and Dan Lenk, the brains and brawns behind the blitzkrieg that has taken the city by storm in the past year to see if they have any idea what they have sought. ____________________________

What is a Luvplastik?

off as an Elvis cover band. “Come one A drummer guy. So I was like ‘ Well, baby…” [in his best Elvis croon] you got your bass here, let’s go try out some shows’. So we originally tried out Dan Lenk: There wasn’t really much some Harridans songs . screaming. Dan Lenk: For like an hour. Dan Taylor: There was no screaming. Dan Taylor: Yeah, sounded fucking Dan Lenk: Just very fast Elvis blues. good actually. These are old Harridans Dan Taylor: Luv Plastik — I just love songs that aren’t used now and it that name. It’s just dirty and reminds sounded really good and I told him I liked it. And he asked, “Ummmm, can me of vibrators and stuff you play the drums?” Dan Lenk: Most important thing was something that hasn’t been on Google Dan Lenk: I think you just got on the yet. Like no one has used that name so drums. that was a winner. Dan Taylor: Right , we’re playing and we wrote a song and that’s how ____________________________ Luvplastik came about.

And the spelling?

Dan Lenk: That’s German for Love

Dan Taylor: It’s a vibrator…dildo… Plastic. isn’t it?

Dan Lenk: [sigh] Yeah, pretty much.

Dan Lenk: There are two concepts. I mean, literally, I walked in. I had this nice idea about societal bubbles and highbrow bullshit and he was like, ‘I like it, it sounds like a ’.

Dan Taylor: Just rolled with it. ____________________________

Any backup names ? Dan Taylor: Can you remember any of them?

Dan Lenk: Well it’s funny cause we

wanted to use a lot of folk names, cause we were originally we were a folk band.

You shittin’ me? Dan Taylor: No, it’s true. We started 09

Had you played drums?

Dan Taylor: The whole spelling — Dan Taylor: No, no. I played drums how did that come about?

Dan Taylor: We’ve got nothing to say Dan Lenk: Fuck it — differentiate it. [laughs]



What are your backgrounds?

like at practice and stuff — just messing around but not in a band. So the first few songs were quite different, lot slower

Dan Lenk: Jungle beats, jungle rock.

Dan Taylor: Before Luv Plastik, I Dan Taylor: A lot more two-tone

was pretty much straight up folk. [gets and lot more steady — the singing excited] Shall we tell you the story was like [once again in his shitty Elvis croon]. There’s a band called The about how Luv Plastik came about? Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster Dan Taylor: Let me take you a trip — from England, very old band. The down memory lane. So I was texting guy sings like an Elvis impersonator. Dan, for a few weeks, cause I wanted That’s what the sound was at first. No a bassist for The Harridans [Dan fuzz on the bass. Taylor’s other band]. Texting him over and over again. Telling him we’ll meet Dan Lenk: Just distortion. at the top of Nanluoguxiang. So I’m Dan Taylor: Yeah, that’s how up there with my guitar. And I see him Luvplastik came about. Then we had with his bass. And he just looked at me a few more practices and changed the and said ‘You’re not Dan’ . I was like songs — from strength to strength ‘Yeah, I am Dan’. And he’s like ‘No, no you’re not Dan’. And I was like ‘Yeah I How long ago was that? am Dan. Who are you?’. ‘I’m Dan’. He Both: Nine months ago. thought he was meeting another Dan.


What’s your Glasses Dan?

to them.

background, Dan Lenk: How dare they!

Dan Lenk: I’ve been here six years.

So first I came and had my college band. We played mostly like Dinosaur Jr. stuff because my guitarist was too lazy to write songs. So I had to write all of them on bass. And then I joined this band called Candy Monster. Poppy indie band — pretty good. Then I met Winkler whilst I was in Candy Monster. And we got on well, had similar projects going on. So I started working with him, joined Shen and formed Yantiao. Messed my wrist up. Started making electronica with Cupoli. And then, there’s a gap and I stared doing this. So I’ve been all over the place musically. ____________________________

Sounds like both you guys jump around musically? Dan Lenk: It’s fun not to get stuck in

one genre — like you listen to a lot of the popular stuff on Top 40 or even just on indie labels being released — a lot of it doesn’t sound super fresh or innovative. It sounds really good but it’s nice to try to do something a little different. Ironically we heard the new Death From Above 1979 album and the opening of the second track totally sounds like one of our songs so we were like “Arghhh fuck”.

Dan Taylor: I’m gonna write a letter


Have you always been playing music then? You’re an diplomat kid — no no, an international student, right? Dan Lenk: Yeah, ever since six years

old I’ve been playing something. Obviously when you’re living in Taiwan or Korea, there’s not so much going on as a high school kid. As a student you couldn’t really go out to bars. You could I guess, but I didn’t. And in Korea, it was mostly hardcore and it was in Seoul — I was in a different city. So it really wasn’t until I came to Beijing that I started actually doing some stuff in proper clubs and stuff like that.

me with my finger picking guitar playing and I mean, geez, I really love folk music. But when I came to Beijing, I’ve always had the dream of putting The Harridans together and ummm (looks to the other Dan), a punk band Luvplastik as well, that’s always been a dream of mine [laughs]. But what have you, I knew I wanted to start a big band and I knew it would take a long time so when I came to Beijing I said, “Right, I’ll stay here awhile, put a big band together and record an album” — that’s was it. That was last year. Essentially, these have been my biggest musical projects ever. ____________________________

Like a big band — Tommy Dorsey and Betty Goodmen.? Dan Taylor: Yeah! Nine piece, eleven

piece — even The Harridans I want to Dan Taylor: I came to Beijing just make even bigger and bigger — Luv about a year ago. And before Beijing, I Plastik is a lesson in how to streamline played music anywhere I was. I came a group and The Harridans are not. to Beijing knowing that I would be ____________________________ here for at least a year, long enough to put a band together. I’ve always been Any new releases coming out in places for six months, eight months, soon? around the world. So before here I was in the Lake District in England, Dan Taylor: We do have a release then I was in France just near Paris. coming . I’ve always been playing folk music — Dan Lenk: A Nasty Wizard that’s just been it. In my hometown, Recordings release this guy called I started a few psychedelic type Dann Gaymer who’s been helping us bands, but very amateur psychedelic quite a bit, and yeah, we have to suck bands. I was in Scotland just playing up to him cause he’s right across from with straight up folk musicians — us now. traditional folk — that really helped photo: Will Griffith


approach. But a lot of times a band will sit on one album for years and then by the two years in, you’ll see them again and it’s gets a bit boring — a trap many of them fall into.

photo: Will Griffith

Dan Taylor: I don’t know what the

scene in like in Japan, or Hong Kong, or Shanghai or in Korea.

Dan Lenk: Also, you’ve been here a

year, so if you’ve been here three years, you never know. ____________________________

Dan Taylor: It’s a split release. Dan Taylor: We owe everything to Dann Gaymer.

Dan Lenk: He’s been supporting us a lot.

Dan Taylor: Is that the Dan you were thinking about when we first met?

Dan Lenk: That’s the Dan Dan Taylor: Ahhhhhhhhhh Dan Lenk: We’re recording this

month — and then a friend will mix it — and then it’ll be sent to Europe to get mastered, and then it’ll be released in December hopefully completely DIY, digital and cassette.

Dan Lenk: Record eight or nine and put them out digitally


thing here. In some cases there’s this Chinese band that plays more gigs than western musicians. I also think folks do music for the love of music more in Beijing than I’ve seen in any other places. That’s not to say that’s it’s all rosy, there are a lot of western musicians in Beijing that are very talented that are playing for the money as opposed to playing for the music. For example, (I shouldn’t say this) there’s a very big cover band in Beijing and I’ve heard the music done by one of their musicians in the band and it was fucking brilliant so I asked him”‘Why have you stopped playing with this music.” Because he gets the money from the cover bands so he stopped doing it. It depends you know — where you are in life and whatnot [looking a bit worried about his rambling].

The biggest benefit of Beijing for Luvplastik? Dan Lenk: Good spot to cut your teeth.

Dan Taylor: We can play a lot of gigs here.

Dan Lenk: If you were going to do it professionally, this isn’t the place to do it. But in those points leading up to it, it can be good.

Dan Taylor: Every city’s hard. There

are not a lot venues so you’re always going to be playing the same venues and then it gets boring. You message your friends, “We’re all playing tonight” and then a week later...wait, what was the question?

Dan Lenk: Yes and no. You can do things substantial here, but I do believe in the glass ceiling. ____________________________

Are you just winging it up there What do you think of the music ____________________________ on drums when you sing? scene here? The Beijing scene is really good. Dan Taylor: It’s completely gibberish Dan Taylor: I think that Beijing’s What do you think Dan? got a fucking good music scene. For example, lets go back to this Nasty Wizards thing; this is all independently done, it’s a nonprofit push to get music out there, done by independent musicians — guys doing it for the love of music.

Dan Taylor: Because in Beijing

a lot of friends playing in friends’ bands and that’s really nice. Cross pollination and unison. The bass in one band is the singer in another, blah blah blah. On top of that, I see a lot of gigs with Chinese and western bands on the same lineup — I don’t feel there’s a huge divide between Chinese and western music 11 here — there all in a collective

Dan Lenk: ...

Dan Taylor: I told you stop me when



I went on too much — I’m gonna look So you don’t have lyrics? like a fucking twat. Dan Lenk: We have lyrics NOW. Dan Lenk: [laughs] That’s going in Dan Taylor: We wrote a batch of the interview. lyrics a few months ago. Dan Lenk: I think it’s good. But as a ____________________________ capital city — compared to Tokyo or London or NY — it’s still not on the Give me a sample. same tier. Dan Taylor: Ummm — what’s that Dan Taylor: The local bands in hashish one? Beijing, the Chinese bands, are more forward thinking than Western Dan Lenk: Oh, Meatloaf. musicians, in my opinion. Dan Taylor: That’s the one. Dan Lenk: Well, OK. Maybe in the Dan Lenk: So there’s this story about

a drug dealer called Loaf.

Dan Taylor: The old lyric was ‘meatloaf ’.

Dan Lenk: A food and the person. Dan Taylor: Which I thought was

lyrical genius (laughs). The new lyrics is : Meatloaf Moroccan Blackened Deepthroat Kid Low Whacked Out on Methadone

Dan Lenk: Kid Lavenered Up in Methadone

of hot blondes and guy with beached hair — [does his best American California impression] “Yeahhh, love this Luv Plastik shit!”

Dan Taylor: It’d be nice to play with

a percussionist — someone who on the outside just playing percussion. King Crimson had this guy in the 70s called Jamie Muir. They had Bill Bruford, great drummer, but they had this guy who used to wear sheepskin ____________________________ and have the stage set with percussion If you transplant Luv Plastik to instruments everywhere and he’d just a perfect year and setting what run around and bash shit and get at the would it be? audience. Cause we don’t really have a frontman, have we? Well, actually we Dan Taylor: Oh, the ‘70s. had Carlo at one of our first gigs bash his head with a tambourine Dan Lenk: ‘70s San Francisco.

Dan Taylor: Would loved to have Dan Lenk: It was fucking cool — Dan Lenk: The whole album has a played with Deep Purple — they got looked like Iggy Pop bashing his head concept through it and its quite dark, but it’s honest and it’s real.

[no one can contain their laughter at the terribly lame comment] ____________________________

that fuzzy bass down.


Dan Lenk: That’d be cool.

Dan Taylor: Maybe a string section…


Perfect double bill in Beijing?

nope? Maybe not.

Dan Lenk: Bango — like a really fuzzed up banjo.

Dan Taylor: I think that after this If you could compare Luv Plastik Dan Lenk: CAT AIDS. to one drug what would it be? Dan Taylor: That three-piece… batch of songs we’re recording, we’ll

work on longer songs. Dan Lenk: What’s an upper that also SUBS…every time I see them they got a real good energy. Dan Lenk: I’m really looking forward spaces you out. to doing a lot of new songs — starting Dan Taylor: The older Luv Plastik Dan Lenk: I think Alpine Decline — speed. But now, we’re mellowing out so maybe like a opiate — maybe MDMA is the best. With a bit of ketamine on top.

Dan Lenk: A ketamine sandwich. Yeah, MDMA to get the people dancing

Dan Taylor: If anyone is ever at one of our gigs on drugs it’s a privilege… for us.

would be great

to get tired of this set

Dan Lenk: Has to be an intense band Dan Taylor: Definitely mellow out, for sure.

we don’t want to get any heavier .



Where are you guys taking Merchandise? Luvplastik next? Still just you Dan Lenk: We were going to make a two? website for the band called ‘Luvplastik’ Dan Taylor: Yeah yeah, still just us - which would be a dildo shop and

Dan Taylor: Dark, smoky.

two. I got a new vocal effect pedal there would be one tab for us - ‘Band’ coming so that should be nice — put Dan Taylor: Dildo drum sticks. some more distortion on vocals, get more delays. We got a new song, a bit Dan Taylor: T-shirts more glammy. Dan Lenk: Stickers Dan Lenk: I want the new stuff to be a bit more groovy and disco punk as Dan Taylor: Rolling Bowling must’ve printed like million stickers — as well opposed to just straight up punk. as Devils at the Crossroads — their Dan Taylor: With a melody [laughs]. stickers are everywhere. I went into my bathroom the other day and found Dan Lenk: We always wanted to one just staring at me groove — something you can dance ____________________________ to.

Dan Lenk: Skate park.


Dan Lenk: As long as they don’t spazz out on the floor.

Dan Taylor: Take some photos, that’d be cool.


What’s your perfect show? Dan Lenk: Yugong – packed to the brim.

Dan Taylor: I think Luvplastik would Do you see yourself incorporating sound great in a church, a big regal manor house with velvet curtains and shit, and people doing opium, and a swimming pool — a fancy orgy. A pool party on the set of the OC – loads

If you could improve Live Beijing Music, what’s your suggestion?

another instrument or going in Dan Taylor: Better editing of the words — light proof reading. another direction? Dan Taylor: I’d love to.

Dan Lenk: Tits of the day.

Dan Lenk: Synthesizer?

Dan Taylor: Less Will.


travel. Off-The-Grid, Eco-Retreat Style by Cheryl Lister

The decision was easy: Similar to most epiphanies, it happened in a flash, clear as crystal. The years spent leading up to such a decision weren’t always so simple.  I’d say that these circumstances contributed to our family’s move from an upscale town in Massachusetts to a solar powered, isolated tropical rainforest farm in the Dominican Republic in July of  2014:

older Mom, new in town. (I do not know how to dress myself for winter and get out the door, much less add in a baby that you have to stuff into sleeping bag type outfits and attire a toddler with fourteen items that should match and fit snuggly.

witness to two violent felonies in the upscale town, in addition to hearing several domestic violence events involving neighbors whose floor was our ceiling.

4. Having longed for a spiritual community again, after leaving one years before Oh, and add in a 60 pound bull that was no longer the right terrier pushing her football fit. sized face into the door crack to get out while I am hauling 5. Finding the teacher and the two bodies through the spiritual group that spoke to door.) both my husband and me, which happened to be based 1. Experiencing two of the 3. Inexplicably, being at an off the grid, Hawaiisuckiest winters on record in like tropical the Northeast, farm in the particularly Dominican because I Republic. am primarily from Hawaii, We attended California and a retreat at Virginia Beach. the farm in January of 2.  Going 2014.  Jose through the two Reyes lives sucky winters part time at with two young the farm, daughters, as an and is a long 13

term practitioner of G.I. items that traveled with us to includes certain shared Gurdjieff’s esoteric system the farm. elements by both the hosts of self-remembering and and the guests. We value awakening. I hope we can stay. The long keeping a light footprint on term ability to stay includes the land where we step. Our Jose and his wife Katiuska our being able to have an guests are on the ecotourism embrace the idea of a full income at the farm and help spectrum, defined by TIES as time community becoming provide income opportunities “responsible travel to natural established at the farm. “You to others in the group that areas that conserves the would be Pioneers,” Jose told would like to move here. My environment and improves us, when we  hope is to share the mystical the well-being of local vibe of this country, its people.” (www.ecotourism. expressed enthusiasm for the people, our farm with others, org) . idea.  Before we could return by offering EcoRetreats to home where we would be eco-conscious groups and My focus is to bring groups sucked back into our busy travelers. of people that are involved American lives, our in holistically healthy decision was made.   So what is an eco-retreat, exactly? I living, meaning that in My husband and I gave believe it manifests in numerous ways, one form or another, we them a deposit to begin are all practicing methods yet includes certain shared elements by building our house to develop our bodies, both the hosts and the guests. We value above the sweet flowing minds, emotions and keeping a light footprint on the land where river at the farm. spirits in ways that are we step. Our guests are on the ecotourism enlightening.   In less than six months, spectrum, defined by TIES as “responsible Jose’s group and a travel to natural areas that conserves the When our group gathers number of local builders environment and improves the well-being at the farm for a weekend finished our house, of local people.” (www.ecotourism.org) . or week long retreat, the while we narrowed our day typically includes stuff down to a 5 x 10 meditation, group theme storage room near Boston. and shared inner exercise, We packed eleven suitcases, So what is an eco-retreat, sacred dances, Sufi Zikr, two backpacks, one drum exactly? I believe it manifests and practical and a keyboard worth of in numerous ways, yet work around jump to page 15


the farm. One day I might be helping prepare meals in the kitchen and another day I might be helping to paint a new building. As I reach out to contact groups that might be interested in holding a retreat in DR, I am blown away by the amazing range of cool events that are being offered. For example, I am currently in communication with groups interested in performing ancient sacred ceremonies at sites where the Taino Indians once held rituals; another group might hold their Kundalini Yoga retreat here; another group is involved with Healing due to Near Death Experiences; yet another group participates in Sacred Sounds; another group wishes to have a juice/ cleansing fast. Each group is unique, yet shares the love of nature and care for Earth and one another in an intentional 15 manner.

I’m still in the beginning stages of my business, and I don’t know what the outcome will be. I’m open, hopeful, diving into the unknown. I’ve started a blog,www.offthegridmama. com .. and a website, www. EcoRetreatsDR.com, and lots of networking. When I’m off the grid and the computer crashes, sometimes I wonder if this is going to actually manifest.  Then I see my two daughters, running through the vibrant, living world of plants and fresh air, to the constant run of the river, and I know it’s worth the effort to try.   I know we have something remarkable to share with others who wish to be a part of an off the grid, ecoretreat experience.   One week fully immersed in nature, practicing ancient techniques for a deeper awakened experience, does change your life.  

It happened to me, and inspires me enough to want to pass that experience on to others. So I wait for the sun to power up the farm, or for the internet to randomly begin working again, and I keep reaching out. I’d love it if you hear the call, and come to join us for the kind of week that gets under your skin and works on your Soul.

Cheryl Lister lives in the rainforest of the Dominican Republic with her husband and two daughters, ages 2 and 5. Cheryl is an eclectic spirit, whose 26 years of practice include G.I. Gurdjieff ’s Fourth Way system, Sufiism, Esoteric Christianity, and a Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Counseling.


travel. by Aram Sohigian

From the Bay to Beijing From time to time, we at Precis meet many extraordinary people here in China who have had interesting experiences here in the land of the Great Wall, usually over cocktails at some of the great bars in the PRC. It is a rarity, after enjoying all of these people, that we meet one who has actually written all of their experiences down. As in every single day.

Beijing. The end of my current life in America is beginning.  The starting of my future life in China is beginning.  It is a wonderful transition.

memories and time spent together. It allows one to view, from close up and from a distance, what they have done, who they have met, and what they have wanted to be.  And, depending I have been saying goodbye to many on one’s desire, where they want to friends, family and even to places go and what they want to become that I love in the wonderful Bay in the future.  Sometime, just being in the present moment is more than enough.

We are honored to have Aram Sohigian and his bride-to-be Jill lend us their account of time here in china, starting from the beginning . We will not be using every entry, however it will be in synchronous order. and for the rest of the entries, feel free to visit their blog fromthebaytobeijing.com.

May 21, 2013

14 days to Beijing: The Countdown begins 17

The countdown is on. 14 short days until I move to

Area. I have been very lucky to live here and know the people I know.  I have an amazing family, including my brother Robert, who lives in Beijing, and it has been sad saying goodbye to the rest of them.  It has been the same experience with saying goodbye to my friends.  This, to a large degree, was to be expected and continues.  Moving causes loss, grief and also a thoughtful recounting of

Strangely, I have also been deeply touched by the places I am saying goodbye to in the last few weeks. Lake Merritt in Oakland, where I dance casino style salsa with many friends for many summers, is a major place. Going sailing with other friends and looking at San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Treasure Island and Alcatraz was incredibly touching and special.  Visiting my hometown of Healdsburg and getting to say goodbye to it held a special place in my heart.  It, like me, is changing.  As is everyone and everything at all time. I look forward to updating this blog more regularly and keeping in touch with photographs, videos and things I learn about China with daily posts.  It may only be little tidbits but I will try to impart a touch of what I am learning and experiencing and hope it entertains and enlightens you about

the world I am moving to and into. 14 days to Beijing.

May 22, 2013

13 days to Beijing: Dad and Dementia My dad has dementia.

my dad. Imagine if you had forgotten the last five years of your life and now were trying to retrace every moment, in present time, without understanding what you were doing five minutes ago.

kind and is not a “yippy” dog and quite quiet. She also has the ability to smile when she is happy and often welcomes me home with a huge silly smile and a wagging tail. The second is Lucita.  She is a beagle mix and reminds me of Doby from Harry Potter.  She is also incredibly kind and makes the cutest noises.  She doesn’t bark a lot but instead makes little grumble like noises.  She is very cuddly and likes to run at full speed around the yard and the house.  She’s very low to the ground so she looks like a missile when she is cruising and taking corners.

It is like the movie Momento without the fun and intrigue. It is, primarily, a sad and fear-inducing existence.  I’m grateful my dad was able to enjoy most of our time together and that we were able to have some wonderful moments during this visit. It will most likely be my last time I see my dad and it will be, for me, a wonderful memory.  I hope, somewhere in his mind, it will also be The last is Che.  Che is a cattle dog a wonderful memory for him. and lost his leg when he was shot.  He is incredibly smart and a great watch May 24, 2013 dog.  He also is incredibly fast 11 Days to Beijing: The and track down balls without any problems even though he is missing Doggies a leg.   He definitely thinks he is a human and will do silly barks that sound like he is trying to have a full We all have friends and family that conversation.  Especially when he is about to be fed.

We aren’t sure if is caused by Temporary Ischemic Attacks The countdown is on. 14 short or Alzheimer’s Disease.  In the days until I move to Beijing.  The I will miss each of these end, it doesn’t matter.  Actually, wonderful animals and know that at this point it doesn’t really end of my current life in America they have been of great comfort matter.  We can’t do anything to is beginning.  The starting of my to me and, I hope, I have been to slow the progression or help him future life in China is beginning.  It them also. remember more than about a 5 is a wonderful transition. minute span of time at this point. I took my dad to get an MRI today.  The doctors wanted to see how we must say goodbye to when we his brain is adjusting and if there were leave and that can induce sadness and any major changes since his last one grief when getting ready to travel. in 2009.  It was nice to spend some However, my housemate has three time with him and watch as he smiled dogs that I have grown to love and and remembered who I am.  He still cherish.  The are all very cute and has that ability, which is wonderful, wonderful in their own way and, because I’m fairly sure he will not like humans, have their own distinct have any memory of who I am when personalities.  All three were adopted I return in three years.  We joked a bit through Milo Foundation which saves and we enjoyed being with each other. animals from shelters and does not allow them to be euthanized. My dad still has a strong hold on the distant past but not of the  The first one is Luna.  Luna is about Aram Sohigian moved from San Franrecent.  Because of his memory a year and a half old chihuahua  She cisco to Beijing to work as a psychotherissues, his life is primarily lived in entered our household about 9 months apist. He started a blog about his experiences two weeks before arriving and the present moment.  This can be ago and was about half the size she is has posted once a day about his travels wonderful because each second is now.  She was absolutely tiny and has around the world since June 5th, 2013. new and interesting.  However, most grown into a normal size chihuahua His blog is www.fromthebaytobeijing. the time, it is not that experience for now.  She is incredibly friendly and com 18

Talk Story Little Angels Everywhere or How Your Nana Saved Me From An Epic Homicidal Rampage

By: Bridgette O’Connor

So, we’ve all had those travel experiencesthat perfect storm of shit going wrong in your own life, compounded by a million little unfortunate events outside your control, topped off with some good old fashioned butt-reaming from airlines, rental car agencies, and others of their ilk whom we pay great sums and put up with whatever indignities they heap upon us so that they will get us from Here to There. Some people are just naturally miffed at everything. The slightest offense sends them into tantrums. (As an aside, I do notice that they often get what they want. I suppose if you don’t mind how you get it, cultivating a low threshold for anything less than what you want and a high threshold for looking like a complete jerk might be a reasonable strategy for life. Plus you allow others to feel superior to you by just behaving normally.) Anyway, these types are not the real issue. I fall into a far more dangerous category: nice, patient, friendly, roll-with-the-punchesaccommodating, until…

Yes, “until”, because we all have our breaking point and the father one has to stretch their psyche to reach it, the more violently it snaps back when it breaks. I was there. I saw police cars and handcuffs in my future, and I didn’t care. They would understand…how could they not understand? THIS IS MADNESS AND MADNESS MAKES PEOPLE LOSE IT. It’s justifiable. It would take too long to go into the series of events, bullshit, idiots, and awful that primed me for this travel breakdown, but suffice to say I was in no shape to handle what was to befall me that day. I tried. I did. When my GPS repeatedly told me to turn after I’d already passed the intended intersections in multiple lanes of city traffic, then began shrieking, “RECALCULATING! RECALCULATING!”- even though I had a weird new phone and could not figure out how to shut the bitch off- I refrained from throwing the new phone out the window. Barely. I did the next best thing and sat on it to muffle her instead. I found my own way through the poorly planned streets to the airport and the rental car return by banging my head on the steering wheel periodically as I circled the area



then looking up to see if I seemed any closer. When there was an unexplainable extra $100 fee on my bill and now no time to speak to yet another representative to get it removed, I paid it. “It’s only money. I just want to go home. “, I thought. It was like a beacon- HOME…HOME…HOME. I could feel and taste it from where I stood. Almost there. I can do it.

When I saw how each person or couple who approached the airline counter slumped in defeat (or argued, or attempted bargaining), I could sense impending doom. I was right. Weather was a messing up the works. My early morning flight was cancelled and there were no more flights that day to get me home. I tried to smile at the attendant. She was taking a beating and none of it was her fault. Then the unexpected happened. I burst into tears. Embarrassed, mortified, mumbling apologies as I tried to wipe my tears and dripping nose, I clumsily attempted to gather my things so the next person in line could get their bad news. The attendant came around the counter and whispered in my ear, “Don’t tell anyone. I’m not supposed to do this. I’m going to get you a seat on another airline.”

So I was saved, right? No such luck. 5 hours of waiting turned into 6. My plane was delayed by mechanical difficulties. When we finally boarded and headed to D.C., it wasn’t lost on me that I could have kept the damned rental car and made it there by now on my own. But I stuck with the program. After we landed no one heeded the steward that asked people to sit patiently while those of us who were late for our connections disembarked. It was chaos- every man and woman for themselves. Elbows were thrown. Luggage from overhead compartments was dropped onto unsuspecting people below. Somehow we call clawed our way off the plane. You learn just how fast and hard you can actually run when laden down like a pack mule when you have to get to a gate somewhere on the other side of the airport and your flight is leaving. I made it just as the gate attendant was making his move to shut the door. “Wait!” I screamed, “I’m on that flight!” He turned, looked me right in the face, and shut the door. I said, “Please, my flight was delayed. I made it as fast as I

could. People are just getting settled and seated on the plane now. I need to be on that plane.” “The door is closed.” he said, not even looking up from his paperwork. I tried diplomacy, kindness, clarity- everything I could think of rolled into a brief final, pleading statement. Again, without looking up, he waved a hand down the hallway and sighed, “Customer Service is that way.”

Enter Margaret. She might be your Nana. She is certainly somebody’s Nana. She called to me from a seat near the door at the gate, “Are you waiting for the flight to Burlington, VT? I don’t think it’s arrived yet.” I assured her that not only had it arrived, it was sealed off to us and now leaving without us. She took her turn with the attendant-who-could-not-be-bothered and he was even more rude to her than he had been to me. We trudged together to Customer Service. At this point, I have snapped internally. You could say that every difficult, awful, fucked up thing that had happened in the last three years, coupled with a trip I was already forcing myself to block out for my own sanity and well-being, tippy-topped off with this long, soul-crushing day of travel had pushed all semblance of my humanity aside. I had not slept in days. The straw had broken the camel’s back. I was going to open up on these “Customer Service” people like a schizophrenic banshee on meth. The uncontrollable tears of the previous airport had turned to pure rage, and no part of me cared anymore about who I unleashed it on or the consequences. My eyes glazed over as I waited my turn. Ahead of us in line was a man clearly in just about the same frame of mind. He was leaping up and down, screaming and sweating as he banged his hands on the counter. He was right, of course. He really had been dicked around and done wrong by this airline. But that didn’t matter. The women behind the counter were unphased by his antics and unmoved by the legitimacy of his argument.

Margaret leaned into me and whispered, “My goodness! What’s wrong with that man?” “NOTHING!” I thought, “He’s doing what I’M about to do!” But her whisper and clucking tongue brought be back to Earth. I took a deep breath and approached the counter as the man stormed off down the hall. I was as cool as I could muster. The woman agreed that the airline was at fault and offered me a hotel room plus food vouchers. Fine. Great. I look over as Margaret approached the counter and saw her shaking. “Is she crying?” I wondered. Then I realized, she has Parkinson’s. Her delay had been caused by weather, so no hotel or food voucher for the sweet, trembling 85 year old lady. She would have to make herself comfy overnight in the airport. Sleep deprived as I was, I wasn’t going to let that happen. The conversation went something like this: “Please give her my hotel voucher. I’ll stay in the airport.”

“I’m sorry, M’am, that’s not possible. The voucher is only for you. It’s attached to your

ticket and ID.”

“That’s ridiculous.” “Sorry, M’am.”

“Right. Fine. Come on, Margaret. You’re bunking with me tonight.”

It’s late now, almost 11 as we make our way from the departure gates to the area outside the baggage claim where shuttle buses take people to their hotels. They don’t run at night with the same frequency they do during peak hours and we were warned to hustle or we might be waiting a long time. Margaret is not much in the “hustle” department. If we traveled less than a mile, I’d be surprised. I wanted to run, but Margaret had to go slow. I wanted to keep going, but she had to stop now and then to rest. I’ll take a moment now and say if I ever have the opportunity to meet any of the people responsible for the design of Dulles Airport, I will knee them in the groin and then smash their nose deep into their horrible brain. I hope someday the Powers That Be in D.C. with seriously consider my suggestion to rename Dulles “Franz Kafka International Airport”. The crazy twists and turns, escalators down to nothing but an empty hallway then an escalator up- it was the real world embodiment of my nightmares, and the line between dream and reality was perilously thin. Alone, even at a run, I would have come apart. But I couldn’t come apart because Margaret. To be clear, I resented Margaret. I kicked myself a thousand times for asking her to come with me. Every step we took, every critical choice of “this way or that way?” was taking everything I had. I was running on less-than-fumes, there was nothing left in me for Margaret. I’ll even admit that some part of me wanted to come undone, to scream and cry and rage until they put in the truck. But I couldn’t. Because of her. So, what are you going to do? Onward we marched. Slowly, but onward.

The shuttle bus area was not the finish line. We sat there inhaling massive amounts of exhaust until- an hour and a few phone calls to the hotel later- our bus arrived. The hotel was nice. I told the front desk that Margaret was my mother, but I’m fairly sure they didn’t care about the vouchers and IDs as much as the airline did. Plus it was late. Really late. When we found our room I offered Margaret the big, comfy bed. She refused, insisting she sleep on the sofa. I was in no position to argue. We had only a few hours to sleep. We had to be on the bus back to the airport at 5AM. I ate the peanuts I’d purchased from a machine in the lobby and wished Margaret “sweet dreams”. She coughed like she was dying all night long. I actually started to giggle at one point. Here I was, finally in a lovely, quiet, comfortable place- preferable even to my situation at home. My irrational mind had searched for ways I could just stay in that room and not go home. Sleep for a few days. Order a pizza. I could live there in that room. Yes. This is all I need.

Except for the snoring, coughing, choking

woman on the couch.

How could she be coughing like that AND sleeping? I don’t know, but she was. I took a stab at resting until 4AM, then hoisted myself out of bed for a much-needed shower. I’m a traveler, so I know how to pack a good carryon. Usually. I was in such a rush to get away from the place I was leaving I really didn’t take much of anything with me. I just crammed what I had into my checked bag and took my purse and jacket. So when I noticed that my period had started (5 days early!) I was left without my usual carry-on clean underwear and lady supplies. I didn’t even have my toothbrush, for Christ’s sake. A quick trip to the lobby and I had a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a few other necessities. Tip for the Intrepid Traveler #327- Undies washed in the sink and wrung out in a towel take a really long time to get dry, even with the use of the hotel hair dryer.

Somehow we both made it up and out of the room in time for the bus (but too early for the continental breakfast). Margaret loves to talk, but speaks very quietly. If you’re not right up close to her, you miss a lot. I did my best and hoped she wasn’t asking me anything I was supposed to answer. As we waited for the shuttle I caught most of the story about the son she’d lost to cancer, more about her many years as a foster parent, and, oh, yes, she has Bird Flu. BIRD. FLU.

She assured me that she had been treated and wasn’t contagious, but that it just seemed to keep coming back, so she was living with it. Oh. Good. Yeah. Okay.

I was counting the minutes till I could say “goodbye” to dear, sweet Margaret. HOME… HOME…HOME. But we were not done our traveling partnership. The bus took us to what must be the scene every morning at security at Dulles- long-ass lines of business people jockeying to get to very important places. I looked less clean, less sane, and somehow less worthy standing next to them. I wanted to say, “It’s not fair! You probably slept sometime this week. Did you father just die? Is your stepmother dying? Did you spend last evening towing around an old lady with Parkinson’s and the Bird Flu??? I’ll bet your husband even has a job right now! Maybe you don’t even hate him!”

Once we made it through that security mayhem, we found we had to take a bus to another terminal (and quick-like). Margaret likes to sit and chat with the security people as she removes or reties her little Keds. They love her. They look at me like I am deranged as I gently remind her that our flight is very, very soon. Riding outside on a bus to the new terminal = another trip through security. More sitting and chatting. I buzzed like a hummingbird back and forth from Margaret’s shoe tying seat near security to the Big Board of Flights, frantic until finally our flight appeared. HOME…HOME…HOME.

I used my food voucher to buy us both breakfast. It was awful. I threw mine away. When we got to the gate, I excused myself and went to sit alone in the food court. I had done my duty. Margaret and I would both make it home safely now. If I felt like a hollow shell of a person the day before, I don’t even know what to call what I felt like then.

I almost missed the boarding call. Margaret was standing in the wide hallway between the gates looking up and down for me. I called to her that I was coming and broke into a jog. We both boarded in time.

Back home in good old Burlington, VT, I waited for my bag to snake around the carousel. I made sure to find Margaret and give her a hug goodbye. She looked concerned. Turns out her ride was only prepared to pick her up at her scheduled time the day before. “Let’s go.” I tell her. My husband seemed puzzled as I walked up to the car with this elderly woman, but he saw the look on my face and was wise enough to remain silent. Things were bad between us. Often times the less said the better. “This is Margaret”, I tell him. “We are taking her home.” She talked quietly in the backseat, neither of us catching any of it in the front, until we dropped her off. Safely back in familiar territory, in my own car, I could see more clearly what a gift Margaret had been. She was the angel I needed, Clarence to my George Bailey. I was jumping off the bridge into the freezing river and she fished me out. How silly to think I was helping her get home, when all the time it was her guiding me. “So who was that lady?” my husband finally asked tentatively. “She’s somebody’s Nana. And I think she just saved my life.”

Bridget O’Connor is a writer, traveler, intuitive bodyworker, and whatever else she wants to be. She currently calls Berkeley, CA home base. Bridget is always thrilled to be in the middle of this adventure (and until the end, it’s always the middle).


by Chris Parizo

Closing the Classroom Door on the Millennial Generation. It seems that the world is engulfed generation – the two men theorized fitting one: the GIs were raised as in the Millennials; you can’t turn that you could tell America’s social children in times of great poverty on the television without seeing history by studying past. and an even greater war, as youths their scrappy, young faces so full they willingly joined and fought Basically, every generation has an of hope and grandeur selling World War II, as adults the created you oversized headphones, identical generation some 88 years the Boomer Generation, ushering Toyotas, and MacBooks Pros. in the past. For instance, the jilted in suburbs, economic growth and Logging into any social network Generation X aligns with The Lost worldwide political and social is an open invitation to dominance. being bombarded with Will the Millennials be the Second More United States Presidents news article postings Coming of the Greatest Generation? come from the GI generation about Millennials in the than any other generation in Workplace, Campus, There’s no way of knowing – as of American history: a near 60 Breakroom, Church, or any the time of this writing, there is no year domination in the White other place these scrapping real economic crisis that matches House. young lads and lasses bless that of GIs (regardless of what network news tries to scare into with their presence. Will the Millennials be the us) and there is no major military Second Coming of the Greatest The term “Millennial Generation? There’s no way conflict that will call upon the Generation” (also known as of knowing – as of the time of the belittle “Y-Generation”) entire generation to take arms this writing, there is no real was coined many years ago against a common enemy (I don’t economic crisis that matches by two gentlemen named Will think Hitler would stand a chance that of GIs (regardless of what Strauss and Neil Howe. Strauss against Katy Perry). network news tries to scare and Howe discussed what into us) and there is no major they called the “Generation military conflict that will call Theory” – a theory that became the Generation – Kurt Cobain to one anchor to their monumental must- is Ernest Hemingway to another. upon the entire generation to take read book Generations: A History of The Xers and the Lost Gens were arms against a common enemy (I America’s Future. interested in total deconstruction don’t think Hitler would stand a of American society, questioned the chance against Katy Perry). Strauss and Howe poured over norms of their times, and grew to primary documents leading back be socially conscious and pragmatic It’s doubtful. One would thing that this Second Coming would be a bit through American history and thinkers. more successful with their social noticed a startling pattern in beliefs and ideas: a four-part cycle theory Doing the same with the Millennials movements. Kony 2012 and the separated out into 22-year long aligns them with the GI Generation: Occupy Movement were cultural periods. This pattern resulted in an the generation that Brokaw failures and embarrassments to 88-year cycle of four generations, famously claimed to be “the greatest the nation as a whole. A generation each a reaction to the previous generation”. This declaration was a who is much more willing to film themselves pouring buckets of 21

ice water on their heads doesn’t compare too well with one who left careers and family behind to join the war effort in anyway possible, or one who lived in complete darkness each night of their life to thwart potential Japanese bombers?

So Millennials are everywhere – their presence is felt on billboards, commercials, music, film, social network, political movements, television shows, and on and on and on and on. They plague us with their social justice warriorism, idealistic views of their worlds and their place in it, and only recently have we begun to see their awakening: that the world they grew up in is not the one they will live in as adults: their pluckiness will be met with a cold, distant, and unforgiving economic machine that each generation before them faced with varying degrees of success and failures. But there is one place that the Millennials can not be found: student desks in your American middle schools. The last of the schooled Millennials are currently residing as high school freshmen – born in 2000-2001, they are the dying breath of Millennials.

and anger. The reaction was a generation of introverts who lived solemnly and without noise through the waves of their predecessors.

that the effort is not worth the minute gain – instead, they will be more introverted and focused on bettering themselves rather than the world around them. They’ll The American school system listen to Millennial educators is designed to cash in on the discuss the social-economic failures extroverted, “go-get-‘em-Tiger” of the world, a world of racism that millennial. Classrooms are can be taught out of existence, and celebrations of creation, curriculum they’ll hear the elderly Gen Xers in many schools are designed to tell them that their actions won’t teach students that they have an matter – and they’ll disagree with impact on society as a whole – that both of them. their actions are “important” and lead to results that can make the The Homeland Generation will world a better place (basically they patiently sit in their desks, taking live in a Michael Jackson song). notes of opinions that mean nothing to them, they’ll smile and nod and While this approach to education do as they’re told – silently waiting, is not flawed and my critique of for everyone to get off their high it is not meant to demerit it or to horses and just let them be who cast it away as a waste of time, it is they are without ridicule or scorn. important that American educators understand that this approach will not work in a few years, if StraussChris Parizo is an eight-year veteran Howe are correct. English teacher having taught in AtThe Homeland Generation will not lanta, GA and Boston, MA. see themselves as having a direct impact on the world, they won’t reject that notion, they’ll just feel

This is a problem for American school systems because for the last two decades, they have been adapting and remerging over and over again to cater to this outgoing, peppy group of people: unaware that the next generation does not fit that mold. Who’s next in line? The answer is the poorly-named “Homeland Generation”. The Homeland Generation is made up of those born post-9/11 and were named shortly thereafter. If ever a misnomer existed, Homeland Generation is it.

On the Strauss-Howe spectrum, the Home-landers line up with the ill-fated “Silent Generation” – a generation of Americans who grew up in the wake of the GIs greatness and the Lost Generation’s rejection

Need to find out who is playing

where in Beijing?

word on the street is..


GIG reviews

Scare The Children, Never Before Temple, Beijing, 11.22.14 by Alex Lanson

Last night at Temple, veteran rock, classical and jazz , and their 5 string bass and Antoine on keyboards. stoner metal band Never Before had original compositions oscillate between In a genre highly dominated by newcomer Scare the Children as hardcore, black and death metal. The electric guitar, one acute eye and ear opening guest. The name says it all, and tunes are reminiscent of the likes of would notice its absence, thus creating their show is not for the faint of heart. Korn, Slipknot, NIN or Marilyn Manson. the signature sound of the band. I arrived early so I could interview Keyboards are used for intros and Scare the Children, and catch up with interlude, to set the imaginary world the As a guitarist, even though I listen and play the band since I haven’t had the recent dolls are trapped into, and bring a very different kinds of music, I admit to be drawn opportunity to hang out or watch melodic contrast to the loud hammering. in general by “guitar leading” material. shows. STC may be a newcomer on Those who are trapped in a specific Someone asked me if I would be Beijing’ scene, but the four musician kind of music might swear blasphemy, interested in their music simply because are well known on the music scene. and If you have a preferred genre, you “my”instrument was absent in STC, and Cedric, Marco and I played in I replied interest may be subjective Devils at the Crossroad, and to one’s taste and influences, but Matt had glorious time with for me as a musician I look for Each member is disguised as a doll, to punk band Dude, and “who’s eargasm, and going to a show is to support some lyrical themes illustrating the new guy?” Antoine, plays live an experience, so I dig anything the doll’ adventures in a nightmarish world. regular corporate gigs in the city. well thought and well achieved, The 4 musicians come from very different and STC are on the right track. background, punk, metal, hard-rock, Scare The Children Sometimes , when I play a gig classical and jazz , and their original on a festival or I watch a show, compositions oscillate between hardcore, When I arrived they were building there’s at least one band which black and death metal. their stage and started sound check you feel care too much about with Gaoxu, Temple’s owner. They their appearance, hair or clothes... went in orderly fashion and It took them might be having a difficulty to bear the roughly 1h30 to finally get the sound they “transgenre” displayed by the band. Be liked. Once finished, they went to put some ready to hear some classical or jazzy final details on their costumes and masks, flavors, sharp razor blade vocals, haunting and long time friend and artist Anry, came bass and thundering drum driven riffs. over to help with sewing and painting. I’m not one to be fan of bands Nonetheless , if you like good wearing makeup, costumes or entertainment, and your ears can bandannas, but the concept behind tolerate high decibels, goat screams, STC is more than a gimmick, and and if you’re not epileptic (our friend lurks towards author horror movies. BenG doing the hypnotic lights) Scare The Children will make you spend a Each member is disguised as a doll, to pleasant nightmarish experience. Did support some lyrical themes illustrating I say pleasant? Such a nice word for the doll’ adventures in a nightmarish world. the love of scare, thrills, and gore... The 4 musicians come from very different Cedric is on vocals and drums, Matt 23 background, punk, metal, hard- vocals and a guitar/bass hybrid, Marco on

and indeed thrilling, to actually hear sound from the main singer and not only seeing a guy opening/ closing it’s mouth. Supporting the uncompromised screams, Matt adds his touch to answer Cedric, and gives the creeps dancing like a diabolic puppet

Here, the costumes; which are still a work progress, are used to capture the audience on the other side of the mirror, and the world there is not a faery tale, so don’t imagine cute blonde haired and smiling dolls, but think Chucky or Saw. On Halloween, the band made its virginal debut in front of a large, costumed and drunken crowd and received a well deserved acclaim, but most people thought the costumes and masks were part of the celebration ‘folklore. Unfortunately, last night Temple was filled with some timid locals and mostly close friends of the band. The overall sound was better than their premiere night, and after the overture, I was relieved to hear Cedric ‘vocals. I say “hear”, the singing skills inherent to the genre is mostly guttural, so I haven’t grasped the lyrics yet, but it sure made the second time I saw the band more coherent,

The fast paced songs made people pushing each other around, and it rained beer for a while. I even saw a couple of guys punching some imaginary enemy while dancing to the music. When the tempo slowed down to Cedric’s hits, the headbangers came forward. For a young band, it was a well played show, and the 5 songs set went like a fireball, although I felt somehow their closing song lacked the comatose distress I felt the first time I heard it, when it gave me chills on Halloween. But true, be wary , It may not please everybody. Most of the locals sat and played dice during the whole show. But if you like good entertainment, and your ears can tolerate high decibels, Scare The Children will make your nightmare come true.

Never Before Formed in 2011, Never Before is a sure value for 70’s raw metal, stripped down power rock and stoner metal, with a touch of southern rock and acid rock. Evident influences from Black Sabbath, Kyuss , Tools or early ZZ Top can be heard. They deliver loud, massive and groovy slow-to-mid-tempo riffs, alternating simple low E rhythmic riffs, or more complex rhythm parts. Skilled musicians, like in the 70s

each of them gets its improv time. Alex, the frontman is what you expect from a singer, stage presence, powerful growling voice and interaction with the public. On guitars, Sho displays classic but efficient pentatonic licks and crunchy riffs, and the hypnotizing rhythm section skeleton , Nico’s vicious groovy bass and Linda’s ( yup guys a chick hitting the drumset) complex rhythm and time signature. They took some time to start the set, their sound wasn’t good and clear enough to really enjoy the music, they didn’t have a proper soundcheck with Temple’s owner, Goaxu, as did STC, and the sound engineer wasn’t reactive enough to sort the 30s long feedback issue coming from the bass amp.... When they played, it was almost midnight, and Temple was filled with a reasonable crowd, and as soon as the show started, people came closer to the stage. Be it because they were drunk, not shy anymore, or simply more inclined to listen to something more familiar, amongst the headbangers you could have seen, the usual demographic suspects ,single long haired males, but also cute girls, if not headbanging, showing a genuine interest for the band’s performance and moving along the greasy tunes. As always, the band showed they were playing for the audience, and each one of the technics performed by the musicians , wasn’t to show off, just to have fun and bring the old 70s. For most of the show, I stood right in front Alex, and as I was covering the event , moved back and forth, to get closer to the bass during its wah solo. You got to love seeing a bassist who’s not in the band to back vocals and guitars. Nico moved, jumped, shoeless, while playing threatening licks. Drums were not as loud as I would have wanted them to be, and because Linda used the venue’s snare instead of Cedric’s, who brought his whole set, it went BOOM - tac, the snare only giving a weak response to the kick. Such a shame because I’ve seen them playing in better conditions. For almost 1h30, they gave it all as if it were the end of the world, finishing through one hell of a long jam.



Scare The Children by Alex Lanson

Beijing has a plethora of great bands, playing an equal amount of great clubs.. Running down these bands at these clubs for an interview takes monumental effort, keeping your wits about you in a club atmosphere , trying to round up all the band members, old west style, also the real possibility of forgetting to actually do the interview.

we’re dealing with the haunted dolls. Cedric:





How do you come up with the music? Can you describe the composing and writing process? Marco: at first everything came from Cedric who was experimenting with guitar playing (laugh) it was very interesting! one

Matt : Cedric and I were jamming, we wanted to create a band, and he came with a really great idea of making something scary.




Marco: the main concept is to make something scary. It’s a show, more than a concert. We dress up, there’s a mood, we set the mood. The idea for now is to deal with haunted rolls. That’s the concept right now. Later we might extend the concept to a more general horror show kind of deal. But now 25


Matt : yea, one finger play! Cedric : two

Marco : a doll that is owned by several people over a period of a hundred years, Matt: making fun of Cedric and the story of what happens with each person that owns this haunted Marco: ...and then he would come doll, who see terrible things each time. up with a cool riff. And the we would just kind of play around What are the topics or theme with it, and develop it from there.

What’s the concept behind Scare developed in your lyrics? the Children ? Cedric : it’s a long concept.

Cedric : it’s funny. Matt: it’s all stars and rainbow.

Thankfully, we have The Pros from Dover in our stable. Alex Lanson waded into the madness that is Temple Bar in Beijing to get the job done.

What’s the origin of the band?

starts stalking girls, brining them in his taxi, kidnapping or eating them.

Together : That’s this, it’s the dolls.

Cedric: actually my first idea when I started composing for this, was to reverse what every band do. Composing the drum first,give them the drums, and with rhythm, actually I wasn’t playing guitar, I was playing rhythm on the guitar for what I thought would go with each drum part. From that, they composed the bass.

Marco : for example one song deals with the doll being owned by a circus owner. So this circus becomes a nasty place where children disappear, things like that. And the circus goes from town to town,kidnapping the kids. Another great concept is a taxi driver, who picks up the doll somebody forgot Matt: and then Antoine came over and in his taxi, and this guy is a freak. He did most of the interludes,because the

other interesting thing is between each song there’s a kind of musical piece. Marco: Yeah the keyboard added another layer to the whole thing and made it really interesting. Cedric: at first it was only the three of us, and for what we wanted to do, Marco suggested it would be nice to have some keys on it, some keyboards. Marco: we wanted to do samples, and I said “ you know what, why not get a full time keyboard player” it would add another layer to make it not so cliché, and kind of add something else. Cedric : err we only found a part time...Laughs Antoine : it’s really good because you know, all the other guys are doing the bones of rock n roll , of course you need a bass , a guitar...but with the keyboards it’s easy to add other stuff to really put the music to another direction , like for e circus song, we had a lot of fun to make something circusey in some way. Of course that’s really interesting. I’m always coming after, the guys compose and I add depending the lyrics or what we did musically. Cedric: He adapts himself according the period the doll is. we tell him the doll is at this place, this time , this kind of mood would be nice...

Marco: there s a jazzy tune..... Also the great thing I want to add is Antoine doesn’t play rock usually , so his keyboard playing is not a cliché metal kind of keyboard, it’s really classical or jazzy, which makes people, kind of confused , going “what is this? Death metal and then something very jazzy , classical”.

, some people would go on stage. Marco: and eventually we wouldn’t have to play anymore ! Cedric: also have more comfortable masks. That will be a priority , for us,for me for sure.

Marco: mainly it’s to keep with the Cedric: last show,people were asking horror theme. But expand it to different us” what the fuck is it? place. Right now if we release an album, it would be about , the concept Marco : yea like who’s this guy??!! Why of that doll through the years, and after did you keep him?! ( laughs) because maybe something different but horror all the musicians know each other’s , based ,maybe circus, creepy clown. but they go” we don’t know this guy!” How come we never heard of him?? Cedric: We’re recording a demo right now, only for promotion, What’s the ultimate direction for and that’s it. We’re having fun.

the band?

Is there anything you want Matt and Cedric : no guitar player. the public to know about ? Cedric: that’s actually the concept first. Before the dolls and everything,: no fucking guitar. When we started together we said” ok we keep it together, no guitar “. At first it was a duet , but we needed more people and we took another direction. No guitar for sure... VJ... We want to add more theatrical stuff on stage. Actually, if we have money,we would have people juggling during the circus song, people going in stage and mix with theater. And make like a fucking movie. Like a live movie show , a soundtrack and for each period

Matt: Don’t bring your kids. Marco: Wait, how are we going to scare them Cedric: Bring your own mask

From Paris, Alex Lanson is a guitar player and artist who used to write at CCTV News, with a long and eclectic experience in entertainment, music, and as a qualified martial artist and stuntman he took part in Tv shows and movie productions. Versatile, his primary influences can be found in various artists and bands in blues, rock, hard rock, metal, funk or flamenco. Touring musician for local artists, dance shows, in Shanghai , he often performed on local TV stage. His work and dedication have been praised and acclaimed by the public, as well as professionals. He is now a full time member of the Devils at the Crossroad while working on a new personal band project



images. photo: stech

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The Ledge


By: Jamie Lynn Belanger Banta

bottles of vodka. Q-tips. Little balls of cotton scattered on every surface. Orange needle covers, carefully dissected and scraped Fentanyl patches, now discarded and halfheartedly shoved underneath the layers of fast food take out bags in the single dirty garbage bin. I don’t remember the last time I showered. There was no need. It wasn’t like he showered, and the bathroom was outside of the room. Of course I went to the bathroom, I wasn’t that far gone. I just didn’t

in.sight We smoked (good) pot with our neighbors, chain-smoked Camel Turkish Royal cigarettes, played World of Warcraft on the computer or Fire Emblem on our handhelds, watched Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and voraciously read books. Oh, and we shot up Fentanyl as often as possible. We did this until Steve’s prescription ran out, and then every day was still exactly the same, plus a liberal coating of absolute physical and mental misery.

II sat on the same window ledge I sat on every day. The one that opened on the side of the house. This was the only window in the room, this room in which Steve and I spent our waking and sleeping hours; all day, every day. Our neighbors often came to this window. They came so frequently that we had set up two folding chairs right outside. That way when they stopped by they had a place to sit. I would open the window, and we would smoke pot together. Really good pot. I don’t remember The evidence of my training was everywhere. how we paid for it, because I had Empty sampler size bottles of vodka. Q-tips. recently left my last job.

This particular evening I was sitting on the window ledge, smoking a Camel Turkish Royal cigarette.

Little balls of cotton scattered on every It came without warning, a shrill Steve, he was the crazy one. I didn’t surface. Orange needle covers, carefully and silent scream of WRONGNESS. realize it at first, of course. He was dissected and scraped Fentanyl patches, My mind slammed inside out with a a means to an end. The only end I vibrating metallic thud. now discarded and half-heartedly shoved currently cared about: his Fentanyl underneath the layers of fast food take out I hadn’t moved while universe prescription. It’s easy to forgive bags in the single dirty garbage bin. whipsawed itself around me. someone else their sins when you’re pumping liquid peace into your veins. My world blossomed into vibrant, “Straight to the dome!” as the saying pulsing terror. Everything was brighter, yet goes. Inject enough heaven and you’re even care about anything besides the waiting and more menacing. I glanced at Steve, sitting on willing to shave someone’s back hair for the ritual. Everything else was filler. the mattress across the room. He personified them. You’re willing to forget that they have darkness. Dark hair, dark glittering eyes, a It wasn’t my room, it was his. His room, in occasional psychotic breaks. Normal is what dark cloud more felt than seen, hovering a house he shared with his two brothers, an you make of it, and as long as my normal around him. included Fentanyl I was a veritable Mother elder and a younger. If they thought it strange that we sequestered ourselves in this room Teresa of tolerance and compassion. My mind was chittering at me, thoughts day in and day out, they didn’t say. At least I taught him everything I knew. I was proud not to me. He had a long history of mental tumbling over each other in their haste to of it. I had figured out how to extract that issues, and until I came along, they WERE be recognized. Thoughts I knew weren’t precious gel from inside the patches and their brother’s keepers. I think that they MY thoughts, couldn’t be my thoughts. dissolve it in an alcohol solution that made were just happy to be relieved of the burden, They weren’t normal thoughts. They told it injectable. If there was a way to inject and didn’t really WANT to know what went me that I lived in a world that wasn’t real. That everything around me was a mask for something, I would figure it out. I was very on behind our ever-closed door. something even more terrible. That everyone smart, very good and passionately in love I loved or thought loved me was fake. Only Behind that door? A Sleep Number mattress, with opiates. All opiates. Fentanyl, though… the menace was real. The menace, and the filthy, on the floor. A TV, a Playstation, a Fentanyl had a special place in my heart. Above morphine, above oxycodone, above desk and a desktop computer. We both sense that I was acting out my existence in roxies, above dilaudid; even above heroin. had Gameboy Advance handheld gaming a macabre play. One where everyone had systems. If there were any wall decorations, I their roles and were just playing their parts. Fentanyl was the best. One where nothing was good and nothing don’t remember them. was real. The terrible end had already been The evidence of my training was 29 everywhere. Empty sampler size Every day in this room was exactly the same. decided, and I was helpless in its grip.

Steve opened his mouth to speak, and I knew what he was going to say, before he said it, like a reverse echo. In my new reality, this was normal. Nothing could ever change, nothing would ever change. I knew everything that was going to happen before it happened, and it was ALL BAD. And I couldn’t change any of it. I was like a marionette, dancing to the tune of a malevolent universe. I couldn’t live in this world. I don’t know how long it took me to come to this realization. It could have been seconds, hours, months. It all happened in my mind, where the passage of time has no real meaning. Never having been suicidal, I decided that I had to convince Steve to kill me. “It’s all wrong! Nothing is real! Everything is wrong!” I tried to explain that I couldn’t exist in this reality I was experiencing. The horror was too great. Even while I was trying to convince Steve to end my life, my thoughts were still running in circles. I knew I was having thoughts that weren’t my own, so by that logic, I couldn’t

end. Steve was abruptly beside me. He gripped my shaking hands (I had somehow managed to finish my cigarette and dispose of the butt). “It’s not real,” he assured me, his dark eyes boring into mine, voice solemn. How could HE know? “Pray. Think of something you know is real. Think about it over and over.” What I saw in his eyes and heard in his words both frightened and comforted me. He understood exactly what I was going through. This comforted me, because I knew I wasn’t alone, wasn’t the first to experience this insanity. It frightened me, because for the first time I realized just how crazy he really was. If he could understand what I was saying, my babbling incoherency, if he could understand this world I suddenly found myself in, then he had experienced it himself. And that was the scariest thing of all. “I am NOT going to hurt you. You’re not going to hurt yourself. This won’t last forever.

hated me and hated themselves. But THESE thoughts I could deny. I made my family into a solid block of sanity. Something I could cling to and use to hold the rest of the darkness at bay. I started praying. It wasn’t really prayer, as such. More a mantra that I repeated over and over in my mind, to drown out the thoughts that weren’t my own. “I love you God, I love you God, I love you God, I love you God, I love you God….” Over and over and over and over I repeated it. First just in my head, and then out loud (or at least in a whisper). Over and over. I told myself that if I could last long enough to fall asleep, I would wake up sane. I thought it over and over. Fall asleep, wake up sane. Fall asleep, wake up sane. And I did. Sane, but scared shitless. Near-death and overdoses hadn’t been enough to get me to rehab in the past. I had never feared death. But the one thing I ABSOLUTELY feared was losing my mind. And so I stepped away from that window ledge and left Steve’s room with barely a backward glance, shutting the door behind me. Ten days later I was on a plane to a rehab in Oklahoma, where I would spend the next four months ending my long love affair with opiates, ending my relationship with Steve. And trying to figure out just what had happened to me that awful, earth-shattering night.

I was crazy, I wasn’t crazy, I was crazy, I wasn’t crazy.

Everything will be fine. Focus on something real. Focus and don’t let go.” He refused to kill me, or help me kill myself. He told me it would END. He promised me that it would end. And he promised to stay with me until it did. He told me to fix my mind on something I KNEW was real, in spite of the terrors my mind insisted on conjuring.

I had tripped a hundred times, but never like this. I imagined this is what a bad trip would be like. Maybe I was having a flashback. Maybe I had finally done so many drugs that my brain had slipped off of the edge of sanity, never to return. Maybe I would never find my way back to sanity. I had no idea what triggered this brain twist, it happened so suddenly. I had no idea if it would ever

Immediately I clutched onto thoughts of my family, and grasped them with a desperation born of absolute necessity. I knew they meant me no harm. I knew they loved me. They had proven it over and over throughout my life, and their love wasn’t something that my crazy thoughts could turn into something evil. Oh, they tried. Tried to whisper that they were nasty dancing puppets too, that

be crazy. Crazy people don’t know that they’re having crazy thoughts. At the same time, I WAS having these thoughts, I didn’t know where they came from or how they started, and by that logic I WAS crazy.

Jamie lives in Orlando, Florida with her wacky but lovable husband, Greg. She has two cats, Keetah and Theo, a dog, Kona, and a one-year-old daughter named Lucy Belle. She is still (mostly) sane. She advises against heroin as a 30 pastime.

Beastly Diction By Penelope Rocketship


Bartholomew Mews wore a natty brown striped suit that had seen better days, and he brushed it carefully with a lint brush, moving it slowly down his arms and chest. A thinnish, aging man, Mews adjusted his yellow tie, held firmly in place by a chrome tie clip, peered at himself once in the mirror, then placed the lint brush carefully in the drawer of his roll-top desk, sat back in his chair and surveyed his kingdom. It was tidy. Worn, dated, aging just like himself and outfitted in an odd mismatch of antiquities, but completely tidy. Not a spec of dust or a thimble out of place to offend his exacting gaze. Mews grunted his satisfaction, wiped his shoes cursorily with a pocket handkerchief, stretched his long, thin legs across his desk and picked up the paper.

Today, there was news. A body had been found. A homeless man, drunk and dead, suffocated apparently by a wax paper butter wrapper caught in his throat. If the police suspected foul play, they weren’t saying. And why would they? The death of the homeless man rated only a brief mention in the police log, alongside reports of fist fights outside the bars late at night, a car that had been stolen, driven three blocks and run into a telephone pole, and a series of domestic abuses of varying degrees. A homeless man suffocated to death on a butter wrapper was odd, truly odd and no mistake. But without next of kin to show up in the police station, weeping mournfully and extolling the lasting trauma the sight of butter would have on her


every time she attempted to bake muffins, lamenting a muffin-less existence and the end of a lifetime of baking flaky, buttered Christmas cookies and Hollandaise sauces, demanding that sense be made out of the death of her loved one, the police were unlikely to do much about it. Homeless people died all the time, especially when they were drunk, especially when they vomited while drunk, and especially at night on the chilly streets of Granite City with winter coming on. A toxicology screen would most likely reveal a wildly high blood alcohol level, the presence of crystal meth, bath salts and maybe even a horse tranquilizer, the combination of which would spell nearly certain death for an aging individual, living rough with poor nutrition and a lifetime of neglect. The butter wrapper was weird, no doubt, but perhaps it was no more than the remnants of a last meal. After all, everybody loves butter, and few die from it so directly.

And with that, he donned his aging hound’s tooth and departed.

Mews settled the paper on his boney knees to think. There was something there, some tingling sensation of resonance evoked by the story of the homeless man and his hot buttered demise. Mews grasped, he thought, he turned his fountain pen over once with his fingers and chewed on the end. The answer was close, but still out of his grasp. Finally he made a decision.

Despite being old, rickety and having at least one non-working door, the Saab started reliably as ever, humming quietly to itself as Mews adjusted his lanky frame in the seat. Giving it a minute to warm up in the crisp fall weather, Mews was lost in thought when a shadow fell across the windshield. A large shadow. Mews looked up from his reverie to find the elephantine form of Larry the Lummox raising its knuckles as if to tap on the window. Instead, Mews rolled it down.

“Pigs,” he announced to his perfectly manicured, dust-free and otherwise empty desk. “I require pigs.”

The parking lot behind the Granite City Opera House was cold but sunny, the bare, stick-covered mountains visible in the distance. Mews unlocked the passenger door to his powder blue 1987 Saab and crawled awkwardly over the gear box to the driver’s seat. The driver’s side door still opened in a pinch, but getting it to close again was the trick. The last time he’s wrestled with it, Mews had sworn never to open it again, preferring to use the passenger side door exclusively. He had considered vaulting himself through the window à la Dukes of Hazzard, which might have worked in the summer, but winter in Vermont didn’t leave one inclined to leave windows open in general. So, passenger side door it was. Maybe someday, when he got a good, regular, paying client, he might actually have the driver’s side door fixed. Maybe. Add it to the list.

“Lummox,” said Mews, by way of greeting.

“Bart,” was the reply. “Where you headed?” “To rusticate,” said Mews, squinting upwards into the afternoon sun. “What’s the word?” “Take me for a ride?” said the Lummox. “Sure thing,” said Mews, and gestured towards the passenger door. His companion was enormous and smelled like stale beer, cigarettes and piss. His watery eyes were sunk deep into a coarse, reddish mash of burst blood vessels and dried skin. Nothing about the Lummox was pretty, and all

voice. “And maybe they shouldn’t. But Roland Rossi didn’t die natural. Everybody on the street knows that. Was somebody killed him and nobody knows why.” “How do you figure?” “Cops think he ate butter and choked. First of all, who the hell eats a whole stick of butter, and second, who eats it without even taking the paper off? That don’t make no sense.” “True,” agreed Mews, turning the corner onto French Street. “And here’s the weird part— Rolly didn’t eat butter. He had a thing about cows—he wouldn’t eat nothing body that come from a cow.”

Today, there was news. A had been found. A homeless man, drunk and dead, suffocated apparently by a wax paper butter wrapper caught in his throat. If the police suspected foul play, they weren’t saying. of it smelled. Mews turned up the heat, rolled down his window and depressed the clutch. “Going anywhere special?” asked Mews. “Naw,” said the Lummox in thick, phlegmatic tones. He rubbed his hands together over the heating vent. “Just around the block. Could use a lift to the Kwik Sell, now I think of it.” He reached for the heating vent. “Can you turn up the heat any higher? Cold gets in my bones.” It’s got to work pretty hard to get there, thought Mews, observing the mountain of flesh in the passenger seat. He reached over and turned the heat up. “Give it a minute,” he said. “It’ll warm up. So, what’s on your mind” Mews drove the car idly out to Washington Street and took a left. “You hear ‘bout the guy in the alley behind the Tavern?” queried Larry. “Saw it in the news today. Didn’t look like much. Why?” “Could be the cops don’t care about some dead bum,” said Larry’s with a touch of hurt in his

“Why?” said Mews.

“I couldn’t figure it out myself, but the dude was just not into cattle. Thought the government put mindcontrol drugs into cow feed and that’s how they keep everybody fat, dumb and under their thumb. He wouldn’t eat cheese, wouldn’t take milk, never wore leather. Didn’t like to eat chicken much either, but a guy’s gotta eat and Rolly said the drugs they put in chicken is what keeps you on the booze…and Rolly had no problems with THAT.”

They were pulling up next to the Kwik Sell. “Lemme off here,” said the Lummox. Mews slowed the car and the Ox opened the door, barely clearing the curb as the old car sank under his weight. “Thanks for the ride and the warm. Let me know how it goes,” he said, levering his bulk with a hand against the dash. “I’ll need to know a few things,” said Mews. “You didn’t give me much to go on.” “There’s more,” said the Lummox. “I gotta talk to his girlfriend. Gather some information. I’ll find you again.” Mews nodded, then leaned over the passenger seat and squinted up at the towering figure. “Did he eat pork?” he asked. “Naw man,” said the Ox, lighting a smoke. “Rolly said the Muslims had it right. Pig is an unclean animal. Devil’s meat.” And with that, he departed into the Kwik Sell’s warm embrace.

Mews snorted. “OK, so he didn’t eat butter normally, but what if he was hammered? There’s a lot a guy will do when he’s toasted. Meth, weed and a lot of booze will make a man change his mind about a whole lotta things.” “I’m telling it straight,” said the Lummox, chaffing his hands together to get the blood flowing. “Was somebody did that to Rolly. Wasn’t natural. Man never ate butter in his life, no matter how high I seen him get—and that was plenty high. He’d pass out before he eat from the cow and that’s the truth.” “OK,” said Mews. “Could be I can poke around a little.” Penelope Rocketship is the nom de

plume of an extremely cranky and reclusive author who lives in the middle “No shit you can’t pay me. And I of nowhere and basically wants to be can’t promise anything.” left the fuck alone 32 “Can’t pay you.”

photo: stech

photo: stech

Khrystina Pryani

She has been described as “ ”& “

spellbinding a complete musician

“Primarily known as a vocalist and songwriter, in the last ten years Khrystina has worked with Francky Moulet (Tony Allen), Fred Doumbe (Manu Dibango), Jojo Kuo (Fela Kuti), Jean-Claude the Funky Pirate, Grace Potter (pre-Nocturnals), Lee Buhaina, and Grupo Sabor. She was born and raised in NYC, and at an early age she immersed herself in the creative arts. She discovered a particular passion for music, from Jazz to Hip Hop, Rock to Latin. A graduate of Goddard College (which produced the likes of Phish, David Mamet, Rob Brezny, Mumia Abu-Jamal), she first hit the scene in Long Island. An extremely versatile musician, she is comfortable in the studio, or on stage, rehearsed or improv. She mixes her influences to create an original soul sound, backed by her no-nonsense voice. She has established a loyal following, performing live at venues throughout Vermont and New York. In 2007 Khrystina started her own label, Free Soul Music, and independently dropped her LP, “Decade” and single “Alhamdulilah”, which are both available on iTunes.” ~ Precis Magazine

Click here for more 33


photo: melissa davis

photo: stech


stepping up. Rising to the Challenge:

Great Determination in the Face of Disaster By: Christopher P. White

One year ago, my life changed forever.

I was living in China and traveling frequently from Beijing to North Korea for work as a tour guide. Despite my unique job, I was living pretty much the typical expat existence: ordering late night bowls of noodles in broken Chinese on street corners after drinking bottles of Tsingtao at places like Helen’s or Heaven Supermarket with a mix of Chinese and foreign friends, being packed into crowded subways like a sardine on cold, early mornings to go


Photos: Young Pioneer Disaster Response

to work, and downing cup after cup of tea in a futile attempt to relieve myself of a smog related cough. Then I got word of Super Typhoon Yolanda:

everything. I wrote to my friend and colleague Captain Joseph Ferris III on Facebook, saying “We can’t go diving and drinking beers on the beach. We need to go help.” Joseph’s Like most people, I watched response was “I’m in.” the horrific images on the news showing the devastating effect This kicked everything in motion. of Typhoon Yolanda on the I spent the next few weeks central region of the Philippines, formulating a plan, recruiting a country I had fallen in love friends, finding contacts on the with just a few years prior. The ground to assist us, posting immediate questions of how I information on Facebook to could help entered my mind. rally support, and launching an Indiegogo campaign with the I had a scheduled trip to another help of my friends to finance region in the Philippines just the operation. The support for weeks after the typhoon for our mission poured in: people some well- needed R&R with offered money and friends and family and friends. Deciding strangers asked to join us. that the call to help was more important than my vacation, I was interviewed regularly by I sent an email that changed the media about my job at the

other people willing to drop never said it to each other, everything to help was gaining a but I knew Joseph was thinking massive amount of momentum. the same thing I was - did we take on more than we could After a week of traveling, handle? The destruction was gathering construction massive. We returned to camp equipment and supplies for the and the anxiety settled as we team, now 25 people strong, we had our first team meeting at to strategize on how to complete our goals. On December 8th 2013 we went to work on the time as tour guide in North school and have not stopped Korea. During an interview working since. with the International Business Times, I mentioned my planned One year later, Young Pioneer disaster relief operation. This Disaster Response, known media coverage helped spread as YPDR, has recruited 250 the message and gained us international attention. On December 1st 2013, just 3 weeks after the typhoon, I found arrived on Bantayan Island one myself in a Manila hotel next to year ago today, on December four of my closest friends with 7th 2013. We quickly established 12 volunteers, $20,000 in donations, 2,000 LB of Like most people, I watched equipment and supplies and a commitment by the horrific images on the another 60 volunteers news showing the devastating from around the world effect of Typhoon Yolanda that they were on their on the central region of the way to join us. Philippines, a country I had

volunteers from 35 countries, refurbished 19 classrooms, built a new 3 classroom building at the fallen in love with just a few I knew I couldn’t take a Santa Fe High School and years prior. The immediate group of volunteers to a over 950 homes with our questions of how I could help place like Tacloban, which partner NGO PAH Polish had experienced massive entered my mind. Humanitarian Action, death tolls and looting employed over 150 local after the storm, and was works with fair wage jobs, already receiving attention our basecamp at a local brought in $250,000 of medical from international relief groups. resident’s property, with whom supplies for local clinics from I selected Bantayan Island, North I had built a relationship with CarePoint Health, assisted Cebu, Philippines, a small island over the phone. After setting in treating 3,500 patients in with 150,000 people that took a up the infrastructure for us to partnership with SAMU medial direct hit by the super typhoon sleep in tents and manufacture team, helped educate and with over 95% devastation. our own water and electricity, encourage over 6,500 children on Our mission was to spend one we were self-sufficient, up and proper hygiene techniques with month helping rebuild Santa Fe running and ready to go to work the use of puppets, deployed National High School and assist within 24 hours. the island’s first text messaging the local community in any way emergency communication While the team was building system, developed a woman’s we could. camp, Joseph and I met with With the adrenalin, stress, and the principle of the high school l livelihood project under an excitement at the time, I didn’t to do an assessment. Words ILO grant, and assisted several realize that our concept: a group can’t describe the damage to other NGO’s in accomplish of friends using social media the town and the school. We their goals on the island. We jump to page 37 to raise money and recruit

even have our own weekly radio show on the island, The Pioneer Power Hour on Radyo Natin Madredejos. YPDR is registered under the Philippines SEC, DSWD, BIR, and the United States SEC. We have accreditation from the Provincial Government of Cebu and from the Municipality of Bantayan. We also hold a 501c3 status in the United States, making us a fully, accredited non-profit organization to whom donations are tax deductible.

YPDR is currently involved in a housing project in Eastern Samar, building our Phase 3 Model homes with a generous donation from Rapid Crushing of Australia. We are also actively involved in a marine protection, rehabilitation, and sustainability project through building and deploying our very own design of underwater Marine Habitat Domes or artificial reefs. Each dome creates an estimated 100 pounds of bio mass each year, helping to repair the marine protected areas damaged by the typhoon and destructive fishing 37 practices.

This has been the most challenging experience in my life. The roller coaster of building this success was overwhelming. Every day it was something new, from volunteer’s behavioral problems, injuries, sickness, extreme weather, the constant fear of running out of money and having to shut down, death threats from corrupt locals seeking to benefit on the suffering of their fellow countryman, let downs by false promises from large NGOs to

support us, investigations into our legitimacy, and the shear magnitude of the task at hand. I continue to say, it is not easy doing the right thing or everyone would do it. Despite the continuing struggle, it has been worth every second. We have made an impact on the lives of thousands of people. YPDR can say we helped rebuild an island and gave hope back to people that lost everything. My friends and I have not received salaries in nearly a year but the reward we get is to see the smiles on the faces of some of the nicest people in the world

and to know that we have helped them to get through a horrible ordeal. As a young NGO, we are fighting for funds to keep the lights on and continue our outreach efforts. We are actively writing and applying for grants to do even more but we need your help. Please support our organization. Look at what we did in one year. Imagine what we can do with another. Unfortunately, there are still many families left homeless by Yolanda and many issues to be addressed in the amazing nation that has become YPDR’s home. I know that with continued funding and support from the international community, we can make an incredible difference.

At press time, Typhoon Hagupit has gained strength again as it closes in on a Philippines landfall this weekend, according to the latest update from the U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Preparations are underway for potentially life-threatening winds, storm surge and flash floods in the Philippines, where the typhoon has been named Ruby. This threatens to undo all of the work YPDR has done over the last year. Consider donating to them at https://ypdr.org/

Maple Refined

Tonewood l Mad River Valley, Vermont l 802-496-5512 l www.tonewoodmaple.com l

photo: stech


interview. Precis Interviews a group of individuals who are trying to bring up the tough questions and seek the harder answers the worldwide LGBT community are facing everyday... in a country not normally known for tolerance.

• It seems as if the show, which is very professionally produced, was very well thought out beforehand. How long was the process of putting together the idea of the show? How often do you launch new episodes? Well actually for the first five episodes we were recording out of each others apartments sitting around a small table drinking wine, so I’m flattered to hear that! Our two most recent episodes have been recorded at a studio though so we’re moving up in the world! episode every fortnight! The whole concept and idea was put together and championed by one of the five eyes, and they found the rest of us, put us together and basically organizes the whole thing each time, so we’re super grateful for that! 39 Oh, and we launch a new

We’re all friends, so its great to do this show together and hear each others opinions. The idea was to have a core group from each of the countries that are a part of the five eyes (Australia, new Zealand, Canada, USA and UK), however we occasionally move the hosts around and have guest hosts which is great because that gives us a lot of flexibility, and there is such a diverse and vibrant queer community in Beijing, it’d be a waste to not take advantage of that.

• Putting together a show as professionally as this takes • There are always five hosts, time. Do you all have day jobs? although the lineup changes, all of you seem very comfortable Yeah, we are all working full together in your interactions. time here, which is why its Do you have a core group you important for us to have the draw from or do you pick up flexibility with the hosts. We all enjoy this though so we don’t folk as you go along? mind putting in the extra time

to prepare and record.

and add in the sting). We’re in • What is the biggest issue a studio now so a little bit more • Doing a show that has such facing the LGBT community professional, but I couldn’t tell controversial topics that face here in China right now? you too much more than that. the LGBT community, there is no way that you can’t bring politics I personally believe the biggest • Any plans on making The Five into the discussions, not only issue for the LGBT community Eyes a Monetized business, PRC politics, but worldwide. Do here in China is the immense meaning accepting advertising, you ever worry about backlash, social pressure LGBT individuals event promotions? either here in China or in your have to conform to traditional home countries? family structure, mostly in the No plans in the works yet, but form of pressure from their always open to suggestions for I think we are aware of the families to get married and what our listeners may find potential backlash that could continue their family blood interesting or relevant to them. occur, especially in China line. For this generation of only Please do get in touch with us! where anything that could be children, they are the sole heir seen as activism could be shut to their family and the pressure • Where can people get more down pretty quickly but I think they have is incomprehensible, information on your show? covering queer news and having I’m always in admiration of my these discussions is important, Chinese friends who’ve come You can find us at: and I would hope New Zealand out. www.thefiveeyesshow.com, (where I’m from) would support me in this. • If you had to pick one person, Facebook.com/thefiveeyeshow worldwide, past or present, • In your view, was there who has done more for the twitter.com/thefiveeyesshow a “Stonewall” moment in LGBT community, who would it China, where the tide of LGBT be? and of course to listen to our issues finally started getting episodes directly, recognized? This is difficult to say, although I truly believe Elton Johns s o u n d c l o u d . c o m / I don’t think there has necessarily coming out would have done so thefiveeyesshow. been a ‘stonewall’ moment in much for so many gay people China to date, although there around the world in terms of If you want to get in touch with has been some important being able to accept themselves us directly write us an email at progression in terms of legal and that I think is really important. thefiveeyeshow@gmail.com! social support for homosexuals, Somebody of such fame and such as the declassification prominence announcing this We look forward to hearing of homosexuality as a mental to the world would have put from you. disorder in 2001. hope in so many young and old queers peoples lives I think that As a generalization though from this was incredibly valuable to my outsiders perspective it’s the LGBT movement. seems like homosexuality in China follows the ’three nos’; • This is Just the tech geek in no approval, no disapproval, no me.. What is your tech setup? promotion It sounds like you use a mobile recording rig based on some of • Could a show like this have the background noise. Do you existed five years ago in the have a dedicated studio? And PRC? what sort of Mic’s and software do you use? I don’t see any reason it could not have, in the end we are As mentioned, we were foreigners promoting to a previously just recording in a foreign audience, maybe if it friends room using a portable was Chinese promoting to a recorder, then cut it up using Chinese audience it would be some sound editing software quite different. (to remove any unneeded bits 40



food. Kat’s Window ~ on China By Kat Tosi

Manya Shafalowich’s Killer Potato Pancakes

For some of us, the freezing cold has arrived. This often leads to cravings of hot comfort food. I contacted my brother, searching for a recipe that I still hanker 35-years later. Sure enough, he sent me a photo of the formula, written on the historical index card. Ah, the memories of handwriting.


Pour batter

4 medium-large potatoes, grated

Set on paper towels to remove excess oil

Granny’s potato pancakes, recipe imported from Russia along with herself, are ridiculously simple to make. Never underestimate the power of the unassuming.


3 tablespoons (44 grams) of flour 1 large egg 1 medium onion, grated

Mix ingredients 1/2 cup (120 grams) of vegetable oil in pan, medium high heat

Fry until golden brown

THE TWEAK Check the color of your mood ring. Depending on where you are at, add at will (singularly or together) things like: basil, chili peppers, cilantro, garlic, sour cream, salt, pepper, love. 42

images. photos: Š Eric Sherman




photo: stech

A solo exhibiton by Joel Fremming

Opening Party October 5th 3-9PM @the 6 space

Joel Fremming is an artist and writer that works off of imagination and interpretation. He now presents to you his show "Diaspora" which is a display of the entire world he's created for himself crammed into a small space. He will display his many "Face Zine" issues as well as his paintings. Joel Fremming enjoys creating characters that convey emotion on all levels. He believes that no face can ever be completely the same especially when it is created naturally without reference. His new "Machine Series" is a mix of the natural and unnatural world by appearing mechanized while showing a sort of self through emotion. There is no getting away from the self even while constantly creating more.

Joel Fremming 是一位藝術家兼作家,他的作品充滿想象力並富有意境。 這次的展覽名為 "Diaspora" 他即將在這小空間向大家展示他個人創作。 此次個展將會有他經典的 "Face Zine" 以及個人畫作,在他的創作中充滿各式表情, 他相信每個人的表情都是自然生成,獨一無二的,所以他喜歡利用表情作為創作靈感。 在他的新作品 "Machine Series" 以機器人為元素,作品中機器人是能感受充滿情感的, 來表達每個人都擁有不同特質,不管做再多的改變,都不能無視自己最原始的情感, 任何人都是獨一無二無法取代的。 開放時間 open:Saturday( 六 )-Sunday( 日 ) 1-10pm and Monday-Friday(Please call first.) by appointment only 歡迎預約 聯絡資訊 Contaca: Call Joel for English 0983826173 / Mary for Chinese 0955308529 地址 Address: 台北市大安路一段 73 號 10F 信箱 Email: j.fremming@gmail.com 部落格 Blog:facezine.wordpress.com


photo: stech

images. photos: Edward Lalonde

Ed Lalonde has been taking photographs of rural Vermont since 1966. He is fascinated with the ability digital cameras to capture both moments and extended moments in time at 46 anytime.

Š 2014 Joel Fremming - http://facezine.wordpress.com

Profile for Chris Stecher ~ Précis Magazine

Precis 12 2014 issue 5  

Issue Five of Precis. A world of things to chew on. We have our old stand-by's Like: Mr. Parizo's take on teaching in the current age. Will...

Precis 12 2014 issue 5  

Issue Five of Precis. A world of things to chew on. We have our old stand-by's Like: Mr. Parizo's take on teaching in the current age. Will...

Profile for istech24

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