Vol. 2 THE FIGHT ISSUE
We are under attack. So we will fight. We will fight for our history. We will fight for those who are not seen. For our trans brothers and sistersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;they will not be erased. We will fight with our voices. With our bodies. With our existence. We will do whatever it takes. Our identities are non-negotiable. Trump is not our president. We are not going anywhere. We are Southern. We are Queer. And we are made of fire. The following work was made by Southern + Queers with a wide range of identities, backgrounds, and perspectives. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;WUSSY
Untitled / Emily Getsay 1,2,4 ATTN-Woke Service Industry Femmes & Everyone In Between / T.K. Habtemariam 3,4 Untitled / Asafe Pereira 5,6,7,10 A Good Fight / Ami Le 8,9 Featured Artist / Patrick Di Rito 11 - 16 Anatomy Of A Fight Song / Cecilia Winter 17,18 Untitled / Brian Barbieri 19 - 22 A Moment of Joy Amid a Catastrophe / Evelyn Murdock 22 Battle Fields / Jamison Edgar 23,24 Featured Artist / Jesse Pratt López 25 - 30 Beyond Definition: Escaping Merriam-Webster’s Asylum / Curtis Keisler 31,32 Bubble & Wall / MonteQarlo 33 I Don’t Know Her / Aubrey Longley-Cook 34 Women’s March / Sara Keith 35 - 38 Untitled / Aineki Traverso 39 Bliss, As Such / Colin James 40 I Fight for the Fighters / Franco Bejarano 41 New Proverbs / Paul Chan & Badlands Unlimited 42,43 In Calling for Stutters / J. Avery Theodore Daisey 44 Not Today / Danielle Wood 45 Untitled / Cai Blanton 46 - 48 Mile Mapping / Phillip Spotswood 49,50
/// CO N T E N T S ///
Untitled / Blake England Front & Back
Push/Pull: A Conversation on Southern Belonging / Rae Parnell & Mayowa Afolayan 51,52 All My Friends are Armed & Dangerous / Jon Dean 53 - 56 Poems / Reid Drake 57 Jazz / Barry Lee 58 Blush & 111 / Jamison Edgar 59,62 The Art of Psychological War / Ming Vase-Dynasty 60,61 Fight Girl / Yani G 63 Partus / Anna Giles 64 - 66
ATTN: WOKE SERVICE INDUSTRY FEMMES & EVERYONE IN BETWEEN—DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AIDE!
T.K. Habtemariam If you service the public-whether it be in the realm of waiting tables, transportation, retail or any other back breaking job that deals with customer “satisfaction,” then you’re dabbling in the dark arts. Dealing with the consistent wants and needs of multiple different souls a day can be taxing while there’s that little miniature you wilting in your shadows.There’s that you that sits on a mountain of morals that somehow helps you understand the world. Somehow you walk around in tandem with two truths; what you know of the world and what you need to know to get through the day. An attribute to apply to every work setting. My mantra for when I serve at my restaurant is,“stop thinking, just do it.” It helps me focus on the task at hand and allows me to get into the zone where I ignore the clutter in my mind i.e.- thinking about what I’d rather be doing,my feet plotting against me, what bills are about to direct deposit from my account that day, etc. I’m consistently working towards someone’s happiness- how dare I think of mine?! In all reality it’s what you make of it- this biz ain’t for everybody.
Keeping up the tempo amidst the symphony of modifications, plus ones, additional drink orders, and the occasional whistle of disdain for a manger to a table can tie a one’s mind in a knot. As a server I keep a quiet awareness to my surroundings so the “noise” so to speak makes sense to the urgency in my mind. At times during this non cerebral mindset I pick up on certain social undercurrents in the room. Especially when picking up on the small talk when passing a table, or taking an order. The staccato of a first date. The carefree clattering adolescence and their matronly side kick. The soft yet strict candor and nodding heads of a business meeting. Constructs I gather from afar but never purposefully read into. Puzzle pieces to humanity that I can’t conclude anything from, but can make healthy observations of. It’s the part of me that
loves working with people. It’s the part of me that follows a life of performance and art. It’s the part of my Myers Briggs personality type that makes me an ESFJ. I believe that people who work for the people pick up on flares in populous trends. For we are the surveyors of the everyday world...but I must admit this everyday awareness at my job has me feeling a little stripped brought on by the heightened political atmosphere of 2016. What a frustration it was listening to patrons converse about the turnout of the elections. I know I have to bite my tongue in areas of political and religious talk. It’s slippery slope if not handled with the right momentum. Plus they didn’t come into my restaurant to hear my opinions and I have to honor that. Imposing was the last thing I wanted to do, but my voice felt so stifled not being able to fully flesh out ideas with them. It left me in a whirlwind because a majority of the words I hear are positive and inquisitive. I needed healing. It became so apparent that I needed this healing the very first day of 2017 when I was heckled by an older white women for allowing two black women to be sat before her. “YOU ARE A FUCKING RACIST!” (Insert repetitive jagged finger pointing) she yelled in my direction in front of a crowd. I was a host that morning. Typically I would be a server, but being overstaffed with servers and down a host I was playing my part in being supportive to my team. This woman was the poster child for a friendly looking older white lady and in that moment she expressed to me painfully how she saw me seat people of another color in the spot she thought was hers. She failed to realize that these ladies have been waiting for 25 minutes before her. I became frozen in time as eyes shifted towards me, even staff paused to look onto this sudden burst of confrontation that stopped me dead in my tracks. Existing in the south, being a gay 6’5” African American male (parents
originating from Ethiopia), and theatre training has taught me one important thing; I’m intimidating. I don’t think I am, but it’s the sheer reality I live in. I purposefully make attempts in my everyday demeanor for people to be able to gel well with my eccentricities. My presence can be domineering, and sadly I’ve learned that lesson around predominantly white acquaintances. Not all white acquaintances, mostly the kind who have probably lived sheltered lives or come from an older generation. I don’t let that bother me because I personally love turning naysayers into friends. I’ve always found it invigorating to see someone with stark differences make the connection that we can in fact enjoy, and find something in common with each other. All of that cerebral hubbub flew out the window for a millisecond when the Betty White bitch with crypt keeper fingers so graciously came for me. In that instant I felt thrusted into a fighting match and had an artillery of words ready to destroy this sharp tongued elderly siren. After the next second passed I realized I had a job to do, and didn’t have the time to deal with childish actions. I said something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel that way, but if you remind me what your name is I’ll find you a spot as soon as I can.” I b-lined out of her sight the instant she said her name. I got back to my accelerated track of maneuvering through a packed restaurant ,but for a moment my heartbeat couldn’t let my mind let go of that situation. How could I have made this situation better? Why didn’t I say SOMETHING? Why didn’t I protect myself? Where did I go wrong? I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve become. And for that moment I lost track of that love for my inner self; I drank the Kool Aide. I allowed for someone else’s negative projection of me infiltrate and dismantle what I knew to be the truth. The truth of the matter is...I’ve been called faggot, nigger, but...racist is a new leap for
me. Something has snapped in my mind as images of Pulse and victims of senseless police brutality stain my privileged life. Privilege in the sense that so many of my battles have been fought for me, and now I’m preparing for the brutal truth in the cyclical resurrection of history. Letting that lady have it would have been working against everything that has been afforded for me. In that atmosphere my voice wouldn’t have been successful anyway. And I refuse to give anyone a reason to perpetuate a stereotype, because this is exactly what these types of people hope to make an example of. Yelling from a valley wouldn’t give me half the resonance as laughing from a mountaintop. It’s apparent that I have to step outside of the mentality that yelling at a misinformed elderly woman would somehow bring about peace or healing. It’s much bigger than being on the outside of a passing conversation and a headline too good to be clickbait. I have to start looking for healing outside of my job, my Facebook timeline, my text inbox, a friend’s dinner table, and every other outlet where the entry price is my two cents. To be honest I’m not too entirely sure how I’m going to get there. I can only attempt to move forward onto path with an open mind.
I have to fight. And I fight by not letting a punk bitch degrade or devalue or desensitize the beautiful world I’ve gotten to know and add to...and with that same fervor I have to find the calmness to kill these types of situations with kindness. Killing with kindness as an investment for my future so I don’t warp into the same person I relished in knowing I wasn’t. We are the ones who have fought against oppressors with peace and I don’t want to be a part of a history that fights toxicity with toxicity. When we are tested under the most intense pressure will we find out what kind of ugly can prevail… and please don’t pour any of that ugly into your cup.
A GOOD FIGHT Ami Le
I was terrified.
Someone thrust a five gallon bucket and drumsticks at me. I was surrounded by fifteen strangers all with similar homemade drums. They started banging loud, angry strokes into their instruments, and I prattled along half-heartedly on mine. Then the man with the loudest drum started leading us down Peachtree Road. It was a noise demo. It was fifteen insane, poorly dressed people willingly marching down to the Atlanta Detention Center and provoking dozens of cops. I won’t lie. I didn’t feel like the masked rebel tossing a Molotov cocktail into the establishment. I felt exposed and weak. I worried that police would get a picture of my face. That I would get arrested then fired from my job when my boss found out. I spent the march wondering what I was doing here. I had been so caught up in the momentum of the day that I hadn’t thought of consequences. I was so tense that if I had a Molotov cocktail I would have dropped it at my feet. How had I gotten here? It had started months ago when I let a friend convince me to move to New York. There I had been subjected to a harsh winter, a spoiled duchess, dangerous work conditions, and unrequited love. I had left New York heartbroken and exhausted on a used bicycle. I spent the next month pedaling 1300 miles down the east coast. I went through Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Richmond, and Charleston. The bike forced me to see the worst parts of these cities; I couldn’t just drive past the unwanted parts. I saw things that haunt me: Five year old girls selling soda on the street corner to pay their parents’ rent. A man down to his last paycheck willing to give a stranger a ride into Richmond. Old men who grew up in the time of segregation and whose grandfathers were slaves. Gentrification destroying historically mixed neighborhoods and impoverishing the black residents that used to live there. Entire blocks abandoned to decay. It is no surprise that when I got back to Atlanta, I wanted to change things. I wanted to help. I found Food Not Bombs (FNB), an international anarchist food distribution program. FNB collects groceries from dumpsters or donations then cooks and serves meals on Sunday. My mother, who wanted to volunteer more, was with me. It was both our first time here. We were talking to the anarchist organizers of the local FNB when two people burst in. They would become my first trans friends. Neal, shaved head and squat, started telling a story about an attack that had occurred on Marta, Atlanta metro system. A trans woman. A model. Innocent. Assaulted by others. Arrested. Denied counsel. I caught the story in bits and pieces but focused on cleaning up the mess in the kitchen. Dakota, brown hair and tall, said, “We need bail money. It is fourteen hundred dollars. We need a protest.” The anarchists were friendly towards LGBTQ people, and though they had no dog in this fight, they do enjoy any chance to fight authority. They offered protest support and some money but not enough to cover the full bail. I stood there outside of their huddle. Outside of their planning. An entirely unknown element. I didn’t even know what ‘queer’ meant (though when I did find out the term felt so right). There was no reason for them to trust me and no reason for me to
help. Then, I thought about what I had seen on my trip. I thought about how much suffering there was already in the world. “I have money,” I blurted out quickly before I could come to my senses. Though I made a living wage at my work, I was only part-time and had only a little bit of money for emergencies. I made less than a full-time McDonald’s worker, “seven hundred dollars. Half the bail. I can get it to you tonight.” They all turned towards me. The anarchists were used to this type of help, and they nodded. Dakota eyed me suspiciously, but Neal jumped in, “That’s great! Here’s my number.” I took the number and then had to explain to my mother why I was giving away seven hundred dollars. We were a family of poor immigrants always having to find new ways to save money. There was even a time when my mother could no longer afford to care for me, and I had been sent away to live with an uncle. She took the story in stride. She sat there thinking about it. I was expecting her to scold me. To call me foolish and to tell me not to do it. “I don’t understand everything you’re saying, but if you believe in it then it’s okay. Be safe,” she said then added after a thought, “remember to ask for your money back.” I ran out to the nearest ATM and withdrew seven hundred dollars. I didn’t know that banks allowed withdrawals that large. I followed the directions to the safe house Neal had sent me. It was hidden in a cul-de-sac. It was a cheaply made, two story house clad in ugly yellow vinyl siding. The doorbell was broken so I had to knock several times before the door opened. Dakota saw me, looked around, and then pulled me into the house. She questioned me with such ferocity that I forgot Neal’s name. “Who are you? What do you want? Who are you here to see?” Her glare pinned me to the hallway’s wall. She had forgotten my offer. “Uh- Uh, Ihavebailmoney!” I waved the envelope with the cash in it. Dakota’s features softened a bit, still suspicious but no longer hostile. It’s funny because she would later come to love me as a housemate and as a friend. Come to love my quirks and queerness. I don’t think she even remembers that moment. The rest came as a blur of movement. The house was poorly built and falling apart. There were people in the living room making protest signs on a third-hand couch and all along the walls were picture-frames and art. The house was so cluttered with personal touches that the walls could be mistaken for a collage: tasteful drawings of lesbian sex, decorations left behind from the last party, paintings made by housemates capturing their frantic emotions. A proud declaration of what the house stood for. From that first moment, I loved it. Dakota and Neal made phone call after phone call. Only stopping long enough to take my money and tell me that the protest was on tonight and to pay attention on the group text for a place and time.
I left in a daze wanting to do more. So I cooked. I made fifty servings of fried rice and lentil soup. It’s what the women of my family would do. There was enough that if this battle dragged on all week at least the two leaders and their peer group wouldn’t have to spend energy cooking. I learned later, while living in that wonderful house, that I show affection through cooking. I am like my mother that way. Sometimes unable to speak my emotions or my love, but I am always able to cook. My cooking is the window into my heart. By the time I was done, it was almost time for the protest. I dropped the food off just as people were hurrying out the door of the safe house. A mix of strangers began pouring out of the house shouting, “Okay. We got the drums?” “Who’s driving with who?” “Who’s got the money?” I drove by myself to the meeting spot and was alone, but people began to come in twos and threes. Almost all of them were straight, cis anarchists except for Dakota and Neal. They came with patches, cut-off sleeves, militant jackets, hair too long or too short, and five gallon buckets with drumsticks made from old table legs. I sat silently in the corner by myself finding the whole affair intimidating. I silently scolded myself for being so shy. I laugh now because I would end up making friends with several of the people in the coming months. The organizers of FNB showed up carrying more drums, one with a massive marching band drum strapped to his shoulder. When finally people stopped coming, Dakota stood up in her militant jacket and her tied back hair and gave a speech that stoked the fires inside of us all. This was not a rehearsed speech like those given by politicians and principals. They assumed they had authority over us and their speeches were boring and dull because of it. She saw us as equals and the speech connected with us because of it. It was raw and angry, and it aroused within us a sense of justice that needed to be quenched. “My friends! Today, a trans woman was viciously attacked by three people on MARTA. When the police were called, instead of taking in the assaulters, they arrested the woman. They would rather believe a ninety-pound model would violently attack three people then the other way around because she’s trans. They have kept her without water, without respect of her pronouns, and without decency for too long. They expect us to take this quietly. As one officer said, ‘to stop making a fuss and stop riding the trains.’ Well, I say NO! We will go down there and make a ruckus. We will make them acknowledge us. We will make such a ruckus that she will hear it inside those walls and know that we are here for her. With her. We will not let them keep her for a moment longer.” I might have fallen a little bit in love with Dakota that night. It was that point that the bucket was thrust at me. I meekly followed the crowd unsure of myself and terrified of the consequences of tonight. I had started the day feeding the homeless, and now I was somehow going to end it by marching to jail and provoking cops. I had followed my
conscience and it had led me into danger. Then the detention center came into sight and my heart sank. It had been built to intimidate. It was a concrete fortress in the middle of downtown that loomed over pedestrians that walked by. It was a silent, firm reminder that anyone who misbehaved could be dragged into it. I wanted to leave the group and turn back. But I couldn’t. My conscience would not let me come this far and back out now. When the others saw the fortress, they beat their drums and pans and buckets harder and with more ferocity announcing the coming anger and retribution. The noise masked my fear. It became a pool of courage that I could harness. The strength of others making me stronger. Alone I was vulnerable and weak and cowardly, but together we were a force that would shake the walls of this fortress. Neal and Dakota had gone on ahead to start the bail process. Which was good because we stormed the steps of the building and with just our bodies and our hands we barricaded the entrance. We stopped banging on the drums and started hitting the bullet-proof glass. It was designed to stop bullets, but it could not stop our anger from coming through. Officers attempted to come out and reason with us but we shoved the doors closed with our bodies trapping them in their own prison. They attempted to intimidate us by taking pictures, by yelling, by waving their batons, but we did not let them out. We do not parlay with those that do not respect us. I wish I could end the story here. At the epitome of our protest. At the moment where the officers were most afraid. End it where courage and hope still drove us, but I would be doing the story a disservice. Eventually, officers from around the city were called in. Within twenty minutes there were more officers than protesters. They surrounded us with their police cars. Not wishing to incite a one sided violent confrontation, the anarchist organizers steered us off the steps to across the street. We still banged our drums and rattled our pans and shouted, and we did so for hours and hours. For one night all the prisoners inside knew they were not alone. That there were forces outside that wanted change. Inside the walls, the police were taking their time letting the woman go. They passive aggressively retaliated against us, but eventually she was released. Then the drums were packed away and the people went home. Things quieted down. The anarchists had their fill for a while. The woman who was attacked didn’t want the attention and eventually would skip on her bail. I didn’t get the money back, but my mother never scolded me for losing it. Most people in the LGBTQ community never heard of this incident and the event faded from memory of most of the protestors. But that night lives on for me. While it didn’t turn out how any of us wanted, I did meet my first queer and trans friends. I would eventually come out as queer and live in that wonderful, safe house. Now, I spend my quiet moments thinking about how listening to my conscience gave me the courage to speak up when I was needed. I think about how a small group of people with just drums can terrify people with guns and badges in a fortress. And I know that no matter what comes next; I will be fighting for a better world.
PATRICK Di Rito
I knew I was depressed. I knew it was bad. But I didn’t want to do anything about it. I couldn’t do anything about it. I kept taking those online test to figure out how depressed I was. They would say things like “severe depression with suicidal tendencies”. I would ignore it and try another. I’m not sure what I was looking for. I didn’t have anyone I could go to. A month or two earlier I had decided to leave the organized religion I had been indoctrinated into for the past 22 years of my life. With that I had finally be able to tell myself I was bI / queer. That was my coming out. I told myself. I didn’t have anyone else to tell. I had overheard my mom talking to my oldest brother about how being gay was a “phase” and that people did it “for attention”. So I didn’t think I would receive any sympathy from her. I was also financially dependent on my parents - so I didn’t feel like I could come out to them. I didn’t have any friends. I had been ostracised over the course of the past year from my “best” friends that I had been working the past 2-3 yrs to gain that level of friendship with. I was also living abroad at the time, so I was isolated from even my casual acquaintances. I knew what I was going to do. I was going to die. I wasn’t going to kill myself - but I was going to die. At the time I was an alcoholic. I drank almost constantly. I had been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. I knew that was bad. I woke up in the hospital with vomit on my shirt and an IV in my arm. But they released me shortly after I regained enough consciousness to stumble out unassisted. I was still drunk. But the thing about being
on an IV for a couple hours is I felt amazing. When I woke up later that day I climbed a mountain. I didn’t tell anyone I had been hospitalized. I couldn’t. I went out drinking later that night because I had to. I couldn’t let on that I had a problem. I wrote a suicide note. It perfectly encapsulated how I felt: alone. Forever alone. It also had the underlying idea that it would not get better. I would be depressed for life. I might have extended periods where I would even forget the depression, the suicidal ideation, but it would also stay with me. I wasn’t going to wake up one day and no longer feel sad. A shift happened though. I started meeting people that accepted me. I started going to therapy. I stopped binge drinking. I stopped drinking coffee. I started exercising. I started eating healthy - or at least eating better. I started going to yoga. I realized these friends I was making actually cared about me. I began taking photographs of myself to try to express my new queer identity. I still felt alone - so I shot myself alone with myself. Alone in the forest. Alone in a room. Drowning in a tub. The more I shot though, the more I realized - I am not alone. I began incorporating them into the shots, these new friends. I didn’t fight to survive. I wanted to die. But somehow I was dragged out. The people around me fought for me. They probably don’t even realize how much they were helping me. I wish I could thank all the people who fought for me. I wish i could apologize to all the people I dragged down with me. But mostly I don’t want to look back - I want to look forward. —PDR
////// ANATOMY OF A FIGHT SONG
A cursory history of political music in the United States, and a path forward... Cecilia Winter
In the wake of the 2016 election, it was hard to talk about much else. In bars, under the covers, in text threads, repulsion regarding the most recent cabinet pick, postmortems on the stomach-churning preceding year, and the grasping of everdwindling positivity straws dominated conversation like a bad stink. In the midst of this, Amanda Palmer, popular musician and self-described optimist, found positivity more readily than many. Asked about her stance on the imminent Trump presidency, Palmer expressed the belief that Trump would “make punk rock great again.” She talked of her artistic tribes waking from the complacency of a fairly progressive eight years, and sharpening their knives at a metaphorical smorgasbord of material. Palmer’s not wrong that some incredible music and art comes out of times of profound communal pain. But her silver lining falls short, because communal pain in the U.S. has never really taken a break. Some of the most both overtly and subtly political music of this nation’s history has been released during the ostensibly progressive Obama years (this writing could be limited to music released by the Knowles family in the year 2016, and still have piles of material). Over the last decade, across a myriad of genres, artists have addressed deeplyrooted, politicized issues ranging from police brutality to queer rights, systemic oppression to immigrant communities, confronting the dark legacy of bigotry in the U.S. in ways classic punk only skimmed. Musicians have painted vivid pictures of queer and trans* and Black and Latinx life
and, via an increasingly democratized (or destroyed, depending on who you ask) music industry, released them into our communities and beyond. Classically defined “punk rock” music and culture is gone, and hoping for its revival both falsely idealizes a disproportionately white, hypermasculine culture and undercuts the profoundly important work done within other musical identities and styles. So an assertion like “Donald Trump will make punk rock great again” fictionalizes what “punk” was; not a rare anomaly, a brief moment of glowing political truth in an otherwise dishonest American discography, but actually a single entry in a long, long history of the American fight, and the American fight song. If you listen, and sidestep the quicksand of nostalgia, you find our political music, particularly political music created by oppressed communities, has always been inextricable from our popular culture - it didn’t stop under Obama, and it won’t be stopping soon.
Let’s step back. As long as music has been made in this country, and particularly since nationwide music proliferation was made possible by the 1877 invention of the gramophone, it has been a steaming hotbed of sociopolitical expression in all regions of the country. American music and musical culture at once reflects, interprets and contests norms of racial, class, sexual, regional and gendered identities. And the tensions found in American music aren’t random occurrences that occasionally bubble up to intentional musical expression - they’re inevitable symptoms of the structural oppressions that underpin our society, which necessarily must underpin our music, too. In his book “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution,” music historian Dick Weissman writes that “throughout the history of American folk and popular music, songs have commented upon social conditions.” No example is more stark than the music created under slavery. Despite undergoing profound, relentless trauma, enslaved people across plantations in the South utilized music as a means to not only externalize pain
and grief, but to coalesce as a group, express hope, and communicate without detection in intricately coded messages disguised as work songs.
At the same time, industrial workers in northern cities were finding similar functions in the song-poem, long-form folk ballads written and spread by workers expressing and contesting abysmal labor conditions. The legacy of these song-poems was continued by the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), who used their fight songs as a tool for direct organization, using raucous brass bands as accompaniment to attract attention while communicating their anti-capitalist messages.
At the outset of the 1900s came the so-called Progressive Era of American presidents, spanning roughly from McKinley through FDR, yet just as oppression didn’t magically stop under a relatively progressive series of leaders, fight songs didn’t either. In fact, the creation and spread of political music, much of which was thematically centralized on labor and race, only grew. In 1930s Arkansas, Black tenant farmer and organizer named John L. Cox wrote a series of songs known as “zipper songs” - politically oriented songs into which local figures or timely issues could be inserted, so they functioned cross-community and cross-identity to sing out about local, specified oppression. The all-purposes, uplifting protest song “We Shall Overcome” is a particularly ubiquitous example, yet not all fight songs share this calming, future-leaning vision of hope. The work “Strange Fruit,” written by Abel Meeropol in response to the epidemic of lynching in the South, and transformed by Billie Holiday into a gut-wrenching, world-twisting musical statement, will never stop being relevant to this country’s musical and racial legacy. Jazz writer Leonard Feather called “Strange Fruit” “the first significant protest in words and music, the first unmuted cry against racism.” Though deeply dark in tone, and shunned in many parts of the country, “Strange Fruit” served as a critical bridge between region-bound fight
///// songs, and a nationally recognized political stance expressed by a renowned musician.
Handcox’s fight songs were covered in the 1960s by Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, and several integral components of the infamous antiVietnam War counterculture, and its ubiquitous soundtrack. Soon after, the creation of hip-hop by Black and Puerto Rican communities amid flames in the South Bronx, would forever alter the definition of “fight song.” So by the late 1970’s outset of classically defined, D.I.Y.-oriented, anarchist-tilting “punk rock,” fight songs in some form were already an inextricable part of every American subculture. And though these fight songs span such disparate experiences, communities, identities, moods and genres, they are linked by several key qualities -
sword of having their messages widely disseminated and heard, while simultaneously being widely misunderstood, and often clumsily appropriated by majoritarian identities.
First off, fight songs need not be explicitly political in lyrics. Many are defined by context, affect, intent or use more than their explicit messaging. Take for example queer Black rapper Big Freedia lighting up a sports bar in NOLA with “N.O. Bounce”, or the Runaways unabashedly proclaiming their sexuality in “Cherry Bomb.” These works aren’t explicitly fight songs, but their use, context and impact leaves them soaked with political meaning. The fight song is as varied as the scenes it soundtracks.
In addition to being imbued with power by lyrics, context or impact, a fight song must have some unifying capability. The term “fight song” is defined by Merriam-Webster as a rallying cry, usually centered around a sports team, designed to inspire enthusiasm and unity. There’s no force greater than music for the coalescing of human beings around a shared attitude or emotion - for the propulsion of individuals into a greater whole. That unifying quality, augmented with music’s ability to express complex attitudes and urgent calls to action, makes the fight song a crucial component of American resistance. And it’s worth noting that to fulfil this component, a fight song doesn’t even have to be public in context. It can be the song in your head to drown out a bully, the instrumental easing you from restlessness to sleep, the piece you write in an evening and remember every note, even though it’s months before you pick up an instrument again. The American fight song’s power for generating unity is perhaps its greatest strength, but sometimes this unification just takes place within one individual - the crucial, life-giving unity of self to itself, bound tightly, with confidence and knowledge of self, and back again.
But whether a fight song’s message is an explicit statement or an undertone, it must engage with the fight in some way, big or small - be they written by fighters, created to express the perspective of those fighting, or employed by an oppressed individual or group to aid in said fight. Whether it’s the laborers’ song-poem of the early 1800s, gospel music of the early 1900s or queer hip-hop of the early 2000s, each has a specific, and commonly understood, musical vernacular, robust as an intra-community language. When proliferated to rest of the country, each musical form faces the double-edged
Finally, fight songs aid in our most fundamental purpose - they illuminate a route for survival. We know that music alone - even placing messaging and lyrical content aside - can propel us to achieve the previously considered impossible. Rhythm itself, when applied to movement or mental processes, with consistency, can be used as an engine to drive us to exceptional physical and mental achievements. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed the theory of “flow,” a rhythmic psychological state wherein the external world melts away as your mind and body reach a pinnacle of consistent achievement, spurred by
rhythm. In a flow state, you complete a full day of protesting - you march for hours - you dance all night - you are granted enough energy, sense of unity, to wake up, smooth your bed, walk to work. A good fight song gets us all there. Vitally, it enables our survival. ***
I’d like to end this piece on a more uplifting note - that yes, Palmer is right, punk rock will reawaken and save the world (the movement’s not insignificant issues of insularity and exclusion magically resolved), destroy the system from within, and restore balance to a swiftly deteriorating world. But the reality, as it so often is, is more nuanced. This country is defined by fights between the oppressor and the oppressed, fights where the bad guys often win - where Kanye West produces decades of brilliant music and social commentary, but still rubs elbows at Trump Tower - where the whole dyke bar hoarsely sings along to “Alright” on November 8th, 10:00pm, and it isn’t enough to jinx Florida blue. The reality is however powerful music is, no one song, artist, or nostalgiasoaked genre can return a country to balance when we’ve been unevenly keeled from the start.
My point, and my hope, is that the power of the American fight song in all its multi-genre, intersectional beauty is leveraged to its full potential in the coming years. That through the fearless acceleration and proliferation of our fight songs, we shine a light on the lived experience of identities to which we don’t all belong, that we access compassion and feeling, honing our ability to listen carefully and well. That we use an increasingly accessible music landscape to generate unity both within ourselves and with our communities, to draw ourselves into more present, more effective engineers of resistance. That we ward off apathy and exhaustion - march longer, write more thoughtfully, chant louder, dance and sweat ourselves into heightened strength - to the tune of the fight songs that have defined this country’s music since its beginning.
////// Brian Barbieri
/// If I were a bubble doomed to vanish into a single soapy drop the moment someone touched me would you still have kissed my iridescent lips while a monsoon raged outside— or instead would you have blown a kiss to me and waved sweetly as I tumbled away on your ashy breath?
A Moment of Joy Amid a Catastrophe
Would we have burned one another out and gone our separate ways—our volatile minds spent like paper matchsticks, left with just sulfurous memories of one another? Would we be just a pair of smoke wisps—dancing silver streams that vanish as the A/C kicks on? Do you remember what it was like to feel kinetic— to move—to speed through wasted moments? Do you remember that we used to be glamorous? Do you remember how I got this pockmarked skin and would you have gagged when you kissed the pustules on my cheeks?
I often ask if we were worth any of it.
BATTLE Jamison Edgar
Summer grass shot coarse uniform, child felt
I We were dressed for play dates in white velcro shoes. three straps ensure maximum grip thick soles support a growing foot Like minded parents chat, right minded children listen; games made from manufactured mistakes Pride based on the frequencies shoes hiss on and off we plot shoes strapped and unstrapped prepared for a musical down beat. II Distracted A triad concludes three freshly adhered straps simultaneously ripped apart I begin to run without readhesion. left foot first out fought confinement followed by its pair too late to return and soil drenched socks removed grass filled the voids. Trapped in moments of necessity one must complete actions already in motion I lost interest in returning to rubberized support
FIELDS III Rebellion came easy with Velcro shoes and I became fluent in dismounting from what were taught to be structures of protection and stabilization. Barefoot I began to unearth a new image for the fields in which my childhood revolved around. until the day I came home with dirt under my toenails and hookworm on my sole. My velcro shoes were promptly discarded Dad taught me to tie a knot IV Would I call you my Brother? A dirty veil stuck to my figures lost in your image the fields where I once played your courtrooms The trees where I swung your prisons I want to forget to remember but I once would have met your requirements and can not evade the question.
Crosses you burnt left ash under my nails
For this series, I explored my experience with an interpretation of gender dysphoria, being fetishized as a trans/queer person, and the inherent violence that comes with living in a Trans body in our cisnormative and binary society. I wanted to express the carnal consumption and objectification of trans bodies, specifically trans femmes of color, because they are the most at risk of experiencing this violence. Trans bodies are seen as a novelty or abnormality, and when our identities are not erased or homogenized, we are seen only for our bodies. I focused on the restricting feelings of pressure that can arise from gender dysphoria, and how they can affect and ultimately distort your self-perception and otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perception of you. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;JPL 30
caping Beyond Definition:
as we are to one another. However, it is a sink-hole that gives way to misrepresentation and misunderstanding. Simply, I am a person who cannot be defined by words. I know that. You feel that too. But – words are all we have to quickly convey ourselves. Every action – a sales pitch. Every personal quality – an elevator speech to sell who we are.
ylum Curtis Keisler
I fight for Curtis to be a recognized and well defined entity that needs no further explanation. I hope that when people hear or see my name they will say – “Ah, we know what that means!” ‘What a Curtis thing to do!’ ‘How curt-eous!’
‘I just want to get my Curtis on today…shit.’ Everything that means, it would seem, is insular. Located within myself somewhere I fight to find it. Slowly, over years of tireless work - an insomnia infested daydream; I find him more and more. Questions are my sword and tolerance my shield. Inside myself, an inherent desire for simple understanding. After all, I believe that the language of extremes is only a cry for that – simple understanding. The dictionary is not as harsh 31
I have fought definitions all of my life. Recently, it seems that they keep popping up more and more. Each one complicates the mixture we might call a solution. There is only dilution, separation, and confusion with each new word, cult, and sect. Every new avenue of finding ourselves leads down a new path, with new rights, new needs, new fears, and new troubles. Except – a definition of myself as: Myself. I have been told I am many things. Here is a list to peruse:
Faggot: First in fourth grade when my parents could not afford to buy me longer jean shorts. Looking like Britney Jean – screaming ‘Oops! I Did it Again’ swinging from monkey bars on a playground that felt more like a war zone – two blocks from my house. I wasn’t angry, I had no idea what that meant. Problem: I always wanted to talk in school. I wanted to share and be excited. However, I did not know what rules were – still don’t. But, I was in love
with people. Happy not to be at home, locked in a room because my parents had their own issues to sort out. I began to daydream. I wasn’t angry. Wuss: Almost synonymous with faggot. So, I joined the wrestling team and starved myself into Anorexia after a growth spirt so that I could still win matches and prove my masculinity. Paid For: After leaving an emotionally and verbally abusive home (I wasn’t angry), I could get to life in college. At waffle house one night, a waitress told me I looked “Paid for”. I told her I bought it myself. This is true. I still do. I did it the right way, every penny. I’ve lost more sleep than hours you have worked at Waffle house – paying for myself. The fare to bail myself out of depression and stigma. White Boy: I guess I am privileged? Since I talk respectfully. Since I don’t complain. Since I stand quietly by and think of bigger things. Looking for new solutions because everyone seems – stuck. I don’t want to be – stuck. I don’t want you to be stuck either. I have work to do. Something to fight for. This has been fought for before. War not won. It will be when I’m done. Keep your enemies close they say. I hope we are friends someday. Never mind – I’ll google why I am privileged. At least the internet doesn’t discriminate like people do –
just does what it is asked to do. That compute? Lazy: My dad told me at twelve that I would never write a book. I was ‘shook’ so you might say. Why? What was at first a fanciful thought was made very corporeal – by the aching in my heart at his response. I’m not disciplined enough. If only I could apply myself to what you want me to apply myself to. If only I cared enough to explore something meaningful to you – meaningless to me, I’m finding. I’m not angry.
spirit. Of my spirit. So that I know who I am, you are, we are – one is. Limitless together without boundaries between. I fight to teach and show with every breath that as I learn to know myself – I will learn to understand you. As I must be kind to me, like you would ask me to be, I wish for you to be kind to yourself and to myself. I want to achieve something great. I want to walk this walk and get my trophy so that I have something to share – and relate.
What do I fight? – Definition. I will ask you questions. I want to understand. Yes – your definitions too. Your impatience with the world you feel is oppressing you. I want to poke at it – not poke fun. Some inquiries are met with anger. I understand. I am not angry and I don’t want you to be either. Slowly, as I have grown I have found that it is difficult to stand on solid ground with someone else’s definitions.
I will listen to what you say – but beg a better lesson to teach than simply ‘It is so.’ I will fight with patience until I have all my pieces. A complete thesis. Hopefully, it will show that you are a Curtis too.
If I say – I am gay; then – I must be: twink, bear, otter, disgrace, unholy, perverted, top, bottom, versatile. If I say – I am a drag queen; then – I must be: confused, transsexual, insecure, attention whore, insensitive. If I say – I am spiritual; then - I must be: worshiping the devil, corrupted, influenced, crazy, psychotic, lost, a fake gnostic, hipster, appropriative. If I choose to be defined – I choose to accept the slings and arrows that definition comes with. While it should not come with any at all, I wish to just be – Curtis. I wish for you to know what it means to be me. To be yourself. To be one another. So I listen. I made a job of spiritual counseling. I dropped out of college. I spend my days reading, writing, planning, teaching, searching, seeking – to find and give answers to the questions people don’t understand. The biggest question, I believe – the origin of man. Of man’s
Someone who fights the battles in themselves keeping The Four Agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz. That meditates, keeps simple thoughts, and tries to give something meaningful to everyone. Who aspires – that all I touch will learn to let their guard down. Who inspires – be kind and patient because someone needs you. I hope you will join my fight. Work on overcoming the definitions of yourself that are limiting. I have found that I have nothing to offer unless I am able to listen long enough. I cannot listen if I am restless with my internal battles. So, that is what I fight – the labels that make me limited and restless. Still questioning – Why must I fight for understanding? They may think we are mad for leaving the world of DICK:tionaries behind. But – I would rather be exiled with you than let you live your whole life in a dark Asylum as I run free. So, I will stay and battle with you until we can be - together undefined 32
The harmonica player cruises down the cobblestone street looking for a special friend this dusk mourning the bubble He plays a tune filled with regrets, age old platitudes and empty bets melodies creep between the ashes mingling with the Holy Spirit Memories of parties filling halls with memes on the walls A message of hope on the screen A consistently bad joke Virtual quarrels while they rallied badlands The constable hunts me now So I’ll be his special friend in this dim lighting Pinning him to walls and forcing pleas from up out his belly For a fee we will even chat I’ll pretend to share his grief, though I never knew it Was never invited to pointless shivoo, never had a drug for free Must’ve been a cozy nap Our phones remind us of the construction we bought While he traded picket lines for neon signs and figured the labor would do itself Couldn’t hide my excitement when that bubble burst His friends crowded the pavilion and denounced the opposing demagogue Still failing to check the evils of their own Hypocritically, laughably shook Even now he refortifies the complaisant pearl with freedom songs and bulletins Never fearing poisoned faucets or even the loss of a younger brother The wall continues to rise and I watch with steely disdain and force a smile Cause way up here it feels wrong to cringe Sadness wont save us now
The night will claim life after life until harmonicas fall to the ground and we hunt the constable back, together Sweet music will greet the mourning...
BLISS, AS SUCH
A dog was fucking a car. His dick in that exhaust pipe made it surreal from where we sat, upper level on a city bus. Double take his mistake or kudos to a lack of commitment fetish. It was our first date nerves not yet Pub calmed where I can drink too much. A quiet corner, a nook in which you process all fenced in for me. Going home, we missed our stop had to walk a mile & a half. Me, on the lookout for raging canines. You, implying there was nothing wrong. We hugged goodnight & I went home howling, extemporaneously assured.
I FIGHT FOR THE FIGHTERS #MENTALHEALTH
I fight for those who drown in their own minds, And those who spiral down in emotions, And even those who have no emotions at all. Because after all, we are all human, But sometimes being human is the hardest part. Every day, I see people drown, And I reach out my hand, hoping they grab it, And sometimes they do, And sometimes they let go. Sometimes they watch me and refuse to do anything at all. Sometimes I’m afraid they’ll pull me in once they grab my hand. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll let go if I can’t pull hard enough, And after trying so hard so many times, Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll stop trying all together. I’ve fallen in multiple times, And sometimes I’m afraid I’ll never come back. And just when I think I’m ready to walk away, I see the crowd standing there – heartlessly, So I continue to fight. Some look at me and they call me foolish. Some look at me and they call me a saint, But I’m not brave, I’m not strong, nor am I special. I’m just lucky I can swim. So I’ll continue to fight for the fighters who fight with themselves. Those who fight every day to stay alive. Even if one day I myself drown, I’ll go down with the ship knowing I tried.
Paul Chan & Badlands Unlimited
Paul Chan & Badlands Unlimited
IN CALLING FOR STUTTERS J. Avery Theodore Daisey In calling for stutters “e, a stumbling sore, (prior to rain showers) as if symphonic rays could stop such a stutter. we revel in the techniques of maybe and we aren’t so likely to say aloud we are indeed relevant. our joined parts siphoned—like gas; by mouth, through tubes; like veins…the infiltration only begins here… a scatter, like wild cockroaches on cat food xo a” it’s in the skippin’ - the stutterin’ - the sweatin’ over the left overs “i don’t wanna be merely survivin’ survivin’ is somethin’ we learned by the sewin’ shut of our mouths and learnin’ each vein on the back of daddy’s hand” we aren’t looking for the crumbs of what it was, but what it is-as-us seeping and asking, polling, and tallying results in the parched and unwounded sharpness. is-as-us as crumbs-as corners-as knots and not-so-nots as unbound binding still bound in the unbound as knots that are not one knot but an encyclopedia of nots and knots and knots in not and knowing? our mamas never spoke of such toxicity —ain’t no mud ever been this dirty when yer mama hasn’t taught you how to cry in the un-natural state of South Carolina, un-natural as man couldn’t man-make, an utterance of muted tones crawl from the rusts of pockets and turn left in distracted harmonies. —“just keep going straight” she says and when yer mama hasn’t taught you how to cry you think of the salted tears and salted blood the parts of us they’ve bedazzled into unrecognition the parts of us they’ve got in a constant state of beautification convincing to the taste, energetic and energizing the tongue buds at the tip of digestion, yet we are indigestible.
and in silence, we stare at the vanity. our costumes have the scent of potential proliferation, not of natural conception. as we ask “which self?” which allows for the state of inhibition? which door shall i knock and plead at to feel what my feelings feel when they feel lack in their n atural state? which state has been the n atural? who forgot to stuff this cage? is it overflowing? aint this what fighting is? when the guttural reaction of a “yelp” or “shout” is no longer automated when we allow our selfs to feel that stingwhen we allow the vibration of it up through our bones darkening spots that couldhave been light before. but before what? what was before this? before the souring of the beneath got mended by the souring/ sowering of the sour/sower? why we still weep at the sign of perfusions and stillness why our rationed secrets gorge on buffets of survival contracts and she? the she tangled in the I’m unsure the she trapped in the daughter of the supposed to be and the not so knot? what of the unbound binding? in our own ignorance, we flop like any other invertebrate and the damage being taken on by the body,— the blows which mark open cracks for those things beneath, our spilling guts won’t linger on the surface to be archived by ones whom sort they murmur, softly tip-toeing between the bowels squishing the soft in their own pleasure no, pain is not an entry point calling 411 has its stutters, its comforts in otherness
NOT TODAY Danielle Rose
Broken and tired she stared out at the sky. Shadow encircled her, she saw no hope in sight, And didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if she could make it through the night. Not today she said, And put the knife away. Picking herself up with all she could muster, She rose from the bed with a stumble. They wanted her to disappear without so much as a mumble. Not today she said, And lived another day. She was an unwilling pawn in a game of fear and hate. Caught in a crossfire of stares and sideways eyes, She wanted to fall down and cry. Not today she said, And pushed on through her dismay. Angry hearts and raised voices waited on every corner. They shouted and hissed, calling her deranged. Hell awaited if she heeded not their call for change. Not today she said, And refused to obey. They dismissed her at every turn. No one will love you, no matter how much makeup, So why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you give in and just give up. Not today she said, With all the courage she could convey. Bit by bit her back grew stronger. With each sunrise she stood a little taller, But still the mob tried to fall her. Not today she said, As her hips began to sway. Unbound from expectations, She set traditions aflame. Confident in her heart, she knew no shame. Not today she said, And let go of cliches. One by one the voices grew silent, Felled by the pride she carried in each stride. In her mind she thought back to the night she almost died. Today is my day she said, For when all was dark, I decided to stay, And now nothing can get in my way.
L L U P / U H O S S N O U ION PUSH/PULL: A CONVERSATION ON SOUTHERN BELONGING Rae Parnell & Mayowa Afolayan
T A S R E V CON Mayowa and Rae are college sweethearts, seven months out of their undergrad and still unsure of what they’re doing. Mayowa, from North Carolina, is a queer Nigerian-American in need of hugs and guidance. Rae, from Birmingham, Alabama, is a non binary babe who just wants to be a radical librarian. Some of the few Southern Black queers at Oberlin College, they bonded over their love of the South, a Black hipster aesthetic (Rae considers Mayowa their hipster mom), and constantly being in their feelings.
with not dressing or identifying as “mainstream” for a while, as obnoxious as that sounds, because I knew that parts of my identity made me an outsider and I wanted the way I looked to reflect that as well. I got social cues about performing my queerness at Oberlin, because that was the first place where I consciously came into my queerness and was surrounded by other queer folks as well. I basically tried to copy the NYC/LA aesthetic of Oberlin hipsters. And so coming back to the South and trying to do the same things doesn’t really work, and makes me stick out like a sore thumb. Because it’s clear that I’m “alternative”, just not necessarily in a way that’s been seen before or associated with, or carries the same meaning...I mean, there’s the bow tie and snapback kind of queer, which is kind of the universal…. which I don’t want to be.
tell in the way that they frame it. And so this is one of the few photographs where it’s like no, I just look like a person.
I’ve had moments of recognition that I never could have experienced at Oberlin that have been really refreshing. So even though not a lot of people recognize my trans identity, I’ve been able to carve out a space in a way that I never would have been able to do in other places.
/ / / / / / / / /// In this conversation, the pair discuss the ways that they are working to survive and thrive in the South despite a lack of community, friends, and affirmation. They wonder what it means to be from the South, grapple with the push and pull between isolation and recognition, and how to create space for yourself in a location where you were never meant to thrive.
Mayowa: Maybe this is the idea that a lack of community can grant you some sort of freedom? ‘Cause we had also been talking about how difficult it is to be in the South without that solid type of community, but in some respects, that example shows how it kind of works for you as well.
L L U P / H O S S N O U N P IO T A S R E V CON ……
Mayowa: ...I’m thinking about survival, specifically, the basic fight to maintain the identity I created for myself in undergrad, and bringing that back to the South. My queerness at home is always a dance between trying not to out myself and finding ways to dress and act that’s like a bat signal to any other queer person who sees me.
Rae: Yeah I hear you. For me at Oberlin, there was such a queer, cis, Black, narrative that I saw myself in, but not as much a Black trans narrative. And there were these white trans masculine people, and that wasn’t really where I saw myself either. So it’s been really interesting to go to Oberlin and come into my sexually queer identity. But it was the space outside of Oberlin was where I was really able to come into my trans identity. Coming back to the South allowed me to reclaim what that means for my body, and how I want to dress, and my experiences.
Rae: Yeah! I mean it’s extremely sad and lonely. But it also makes me more confident. Because I feel like as a non binary person, especially because I’m not an overtly masculine person, it’s really hard to be able to own that. There are narratives of transness that I don’t fit. I’m not on hormones, I don’t bind, and so there’s that. So it’s been really nice to have time and space to think about what I need with my body.
/ / / / / / / / /// Rae: I think that’s really interesting what you’re saying. What does that signal look like?
Mayowa: Well I guess, like, basically I’m a hipster *laughs.*
Do you feel like an outsider in the South?
L U P SH/ NS
Rae: Yeah, and what does that mean to you? So how do you feel like you perform your queerness in general and in the south?
Mayowa: I think I’ve been obsessed
Obviously, my identity as a non binary person is usually not recognized in Birmingham. But there are small instances where it is. My friend took photos of me a few weeks ago, and that was the first time that I felt like a photographer wasn’t trying to narrate my body and my experience. Usually when people try to photograph me, they gender me as a cis woman, you can
Yeah, I’m actually glad I came into my trans identity in Birmingham, Alabama. Cause I feel like, I don’t know how it was for you, but the South is not usually a very welcoming place for people who are on the outside.
Mayowa: Yeah, even in the town where my family lives, the town’s like 98% white. Every time you see another Black person it’s a pleasant surprise. And I definitely feel like an outsider, just from having lived in a
LU:THERN BELONGING lot of different places in the South when I was younger. So I think my understanding of the South is constantly shifting and being complicated. I guess it’s been good in the way that I’m able to see all these different aspects of southern life. But I’ve never felt connected to any specific region in particular. My dad’s Nigerian, my mom grew up in Indiana... I guess it’s weird because I have no option but to claim the South, but I don’t even know what parts of that to claim.
that get the most attention. I don’t do a good job of listening to people who are still healing from their experiences in the Jim Crow Era, or who are still navigating proximity to whiteness in the south. I’m at this point where I want to work towards acknowledging that people can be really fucked up and do really important work at the same time, especially in the South.
resources that work for you. If you don’t have access to a community right now, create one yourself. Even if that means you’re just listening to podcasts and reading all day.
So, What sort of advice or words of encouragement do you have for people? What have been your modes of survival?
Rae: Tumblr’s always a good place to start. There are like Facebook groups and other things like that too.
/ / / / / / / //// But I actually want to get to a place where I can move past feeling bad for myself. Kind of how you’re able to reclaim and rework the South for your own purposes...I think I’d like that too.
Mayowa: In the past, survival for me has looked like extreme isolation, to the point that I formed a protective shell around myself. If I didn’t have to interact with people, then I didn’t have to worry about other people’s bullshit. Which has worked, up until now, because I’ve started feeling antsy and less of a person because of that. Staying in touch with my friends from undergrad has been really helpful. Also I guess it’s cheesy, but really losing myself in a good book or music has helped.
Mayowa:I feel like Tumblr might be a good starting point? That was super helpful to me in terms of finding communities and people interested in the same things I was.
Mayowa: For sure, Facebook groups like QTPoC Healing Space, Radical Black and Brown Hotties, and Bun/Babylon are full of dope connections and resources.
G N I : G N L O L E B N R E OUTH / / / / / / / / /// Rae: Sometimes I feel like the south is always something to run away from too. Like my dad, in a way, ran away from the south. He came out when I was younger, and got a partner and so he left the south to go be kind of free. My dad is someone who I also think struggles with his Blackness and gayness. Which makes sense; he was born in 1964, he grew up in Birmingham, he went to a recently integrated school, and he came out as gay in the late ‘90s. What communities do you go to when the black community kicks you out? My mom is also someone who I don’t think fits into this narrative of Southern Blackness. I feel like I was born of two outsiders and this is what came of it. But it makes me feel proud, that I’m from the South and people like me exist, because I exist. There’s so much resilience in the South, but I think that I romanticize resilience in the South as well. I’m constantly picturing these badass fighters of the South, like SONG, or coalitions between Black Lives Matter and anti-deportation groups when I think about resistance. And these are incredibly powerful, but I also think that these are the groups
Rae: I would say turn off your tv and find literature that works for you. I got my dad this book called “Sweet Tea”, that archives Black gay men in the South. There’s stuff that’s around. But I also think, at least for me being a consistent outsider in the South, that I try to take things less seriously. Like it’s funny to me that I’m this Black queer kid working at a bakery, avoiding customers who might say my hair reminds them of their “trip to Africa.” It’s problematic, yeah, but it also feels like I’m in a sitcom sometimes. It just makes me laugh. Also, there are actually people doing cool stuff wherever you are. There’s actually so much queer stuff going on in Birmingham...mostly run by white people, but there’s this new Black trans organization called TAKE that’s opening up soon, so that’s pretty cool. I would say to find
Rae: Sending love to all of my Black queer and trans babes. Surviving and thriving in the South, even if that means that you’re not out. You can always email me at rae.parnell@ gmail.com and hit up Mayowa at email@example.com. We love making resources lists for folks, and building digital communities! ………. Bonus Feature! 10 resources that have helped us survive so far: Podcasts: We Want The Airwaves Still Processing High Water Radio Menea
Books/Comics: Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir Kai Cheng Thom For Sizakele- Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene Grease Bats- Anna Bongiovanni
G N I : G N L O L LSOUTHERN BE TV Shows: Her Story Yuri On Ice Atlanta
Multiple Maniacs There is a mob; black lipstick running over snow. You first showed us what it means to confront the self— friends, family’s bodies swept aside, pushed cold from the couch. Croon: You have to go out in the world your own way now. You know it’s alright. You know no one can hurt you. You know no one can even get near you. You spell the world, i-n-c-u-r-a-b-l-e. Lady Divine, with x-ray eyes and fire in your throat. You’re still no match for your mirror— Lobstora, you hulking, heavy thing. You too can’t be kept off screen. Tell it how it is— obtrusive, nonsequitur, no time to explain. Who but you is tuff enuff to rampage, really rampage, in nothing but a slip and cha-cha heels. You spell woman, u-n-s-t-o-p-p-a-b-l-e. We watch first in our homes, then on our phones. And later we pay $15 to sit in a theater in the LES, pretend we don’t miss our friends who, not unlike you, have gone too far. They cackle as straight couples are pulled from parked cars, thrown to the snow. We know, we know. They run home. How could you have been stopped? You’d crack Baltimore between your knuckles if you could. (You could.)
Because I am what? Sick I will never be glamour. I am not that kind of girl. Tutorial after tutorial, and still I can’t carve a cheekbone out of the soft boiled slope of this face. I don’t have a mother, never needed one, not, I thought, like most girls; but girl, would it be good to see her slink into the room, show me how to hold the beauty blender, take my temperature and tell me, not tonight, Mx. Thing. Not tonight.
Hot hot mess, fat in that dress. You spell femme, m-o-n-s-t-r-o-s-i-t-y.
/ Jamison Edgar
Ming Vase-Dynasty Translated by: Eric Kumsomboone
Everyone knows Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, but what about the critically acclaimed spiritual sequel ‘The Art of Psychological War’? From ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ to ‘Days of Our Lives’, this tome has been the basis for centuries of delicious society revenge garbage drama. Presented here for the first time in English is an excerpt from the original classic Lawful Evil text.
Chapter One: Calculations [01.01] Psychological Warfare is important to the self. It is a matter of life and death. It is the way to survival or to destruction. Or, at the very least, a key to a good night out and saving face in the wake of a break-up.
similar storm before? Whose Mentor is best trained to help coach their padawan through the gauntlet of psychological warfare? By asking these types of questions, I know who will win and who will lose.
[01.02] Study the five factors of warfare: Kinship, Temperament, Society, Mentor, and Law. Calculate your strength in each and compare them to your enemy’s strengths.
[01.10] Do you have a friend in a similar situation? If they heeded my principles, and applied them. They were surely victorious; keep them. If they did not listen to my principles, and did not apply them, was surely be defeated; allow your ex to keep them in the break-up as a form of preemptive sabotage.
[01.03] The ‘Kinship’ is the strong bond your friends have with you. Will the squad stand by your side when you get kicked out of the bar for yelling at your ex? Will the clique understand when you don’t want to go your ex’s favorite bars anymore? This is the aspect you see most portrayed in anime. The protagonists are nothing without their friends and neither are you or your rival. [01.04] ‘Temperament.’ Are you hot headed or cool under pressure? Also seasonal constraints, are you affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder? Are you currently on meds? If no, should you be? ‘Society’ is someone’s place on the social ladder. Where do you have the high ground? Where can you most exploit their temperament? Everyone has a chink in this armor. Find it and exploit it. [01.05] ‘Mentor’, be it a parent, teacher, or older friend is wise, trustworthy, benevolent, brave, and disciplined. [01.06] ‘Law’ is how far can you go before you are reported to the authorities and are force to ‘settle’ this in court. The ideal situation is to skirt around the law whilst causing as much emotional torment as possible. [01.07] Everybody has heard of these five factors [Kinship, Temperament, Society, Mentor, Law]. One who heeds them will be victorious; one who does not heed them will not be victorious, as we have seen in countless teen dramas from The Place of Melrose to Young Woman Who Spread Rumors.
[01.11] No advantage is too small. Look for advantages when applying my principles and you will gather sufficient force to take on unforeseen situations. [01.12] Use societal leverage as a force for tilting the balance of power to your side by gathering advantages. Befriend their co-workers or classmates. Leave them no safe harbor. [01.13] Psychological Warfare is the Way of deception.
The Art of Psychological War
////// [01.14] Therefore, if invited to a party, respond that you cannot make it, but attend anyway; if near, appear far- by looking through them as you walk by; if far, appear near- by waving at a person behind them. [01.15] If your ex has the advantage, lure them into a false sense of security; where they are strong, avoid them; if they are sexually amorous, exploit them; if they are angry, be sweet; if they are humble, make them insecure; if they are relaxed, make them flustered; if they are united, plot them against each other. [01.16] Attack where your ex is not prepared; go to where they do not expect. Within the bounds of the Law.
[01.17] This strategy leads to victory in psychological warfare, so do not let the ex see you coming.
[01.08] Therefore, calculate and compare your levels of strength in them [Kinship, Temperament, Society, Mentor, Law] to your enemy’s, and determine whether you are superior.
[01.18] However be wary, in your planning, that you seem ‘sane’. Nothing depletes your society ranking like unbridled ‘insanity’.
[01.09] Ask: Who has the strongest kinship: you or your ex; who has a better temperament; who has advantage in society; which venue is most likely to implement Law; which friend circle has weathered a
[01.19] Running as many plausible scenarios mean victory; Running few plausible scenarios means failure; then how much worse when you do not consider any plausible scenario? From this perspective I can clearly predict victory or defeat.
/////// Chapter Two: Doing Battle [02.01] Generally, the requirements of psychological warfare are as follows: A handful of ride or dies, a mentor you can call at any time of the day, a pack of cigarettes, access to a bar, access to a barre, access to someone who has passed the bar, some of that good-good, and a funny movie to watch to lighten the mood at the end of the night. [02.02] Also perhaps consider adding to your kinship a friend who is as a close to you as they are unstable, thus making any of your more questionable choices in psychological warfare less ‘crazy’ by comparison. [02.03] When doing battle, seek a quick victory. A long battle will exhaust and irritate kinship. [02.04] If you attempt to attack an ex at their home base during an unprovoked campaign, your friends’ goodwill will be depleted. [02.05] If you are involved in a long campaign, you risk losing valuable society ranking; nothing exhausts people like tired, rehashed pettiness.
cannot develop a close circle of friends twice during a single campaign. If your friends have abandoned you, you have lost the campaign. [02.11] Therefore, lick your wounds. Learn from your mistakes. Rebuild your place in society before attempting another campaign.
[02.12] The bond of a kinship can be worn thin if they are forced into a societal quagmire with your rival. The longer the strife exists, the more you risk bankrupting yourself of friends. [02.13] It’s not just you or your rivals’ kinship that will be affected. All squads in proximity will be affected by the strife betwixt you and your rival. Sensing the tension, some of these cliques will try to take of advantage of your on-going psychological warfare, which is potentially dangerous as it can tax your kinships mental fortitude.
[02.06] When wit is blunted, and friend’s exhausted, your ex will take advantage of these complications.
[02.14] Therefore, be wise and strive to force any exhaustive external kinships to your ex’s bar or place of work in an effort to wear them down without your kinship having to exert much energy. [02.15] When all mental strength has been exhausted, your rival’s squad will be weakest and most vulnerable. This is the time for you to splinter their friend circle.
[02.07] Then even the wisest Mentors would not be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.
[02.16] Unfriending an ex is an act of anger and wasteful. Befriending an ex’s friend is a prize and useful.
[02.08] Therefore, I have heard of rivalries that were socially inept but swift, but I have never seen rivalries that were socially brilliant but protracted. No person has ever benefited from protracted pettiness.
[02.17] Therefore cultivating and cherishing your ex’s friends and thus expanding your friend circle is the true reward of psychological warfare.
[02.09] Therefore, if one is not fully cognizant of the dangers inherent in psychological warfare one cannot fully know the benefits of psychological warfare. [02.10] Those skilled in psychological warfare know you
[02.18] Therefore, the important thing in psychological warfare is victory through strategic friendships, not protracted pettiness. [02.19] Therefore, someone who understands psychological warfare is the guardian and the ruler of their own sanity.
You are standing, naked and slightly squatting over a toilet in your in-law’s bathroom, piss running down your leg as you stare at the bright hot pink, green, blue of the circular pattern on the shower curtain, holding a pregnancy test in your hands. There are two pink lines in the test’s oval window, lines you’ve never seen before, except in commercials, in which the actress either looks concerned about the viewer’s ovulation or happy that she’s pregnant and affluent enough to afford it. You decide there’s no time like the present, and that platitude gives you the energy to rip open the shiny plastic lining of the second test. You realize you have no urine left in your body ever the overachiever - so you swirl the pee stick in the toilet, hoping the leftovers will give you a more accurate second reading somehow. On the second test, the dual pink line is less prominent, but still there. You decide pregnant women don’t take showers, and put your clothes back on. You look at yourself in the mirror above the sink. “Be normal,” you whisper. You take your clothes off again and start the shower. This would be the perfect time to cinematically stand in a shower fully clothed, letting hot water run over you, soaking through your pajamas, because you are goingthroughsomething, but you didn’t bring enough outfits for the three-day weekend home. You finish your shower and wake your husband up. “Why are you crying? You’re the only one crying,” he says. You’re in an OBGYN’s office in a strip mall behind a Zaxby’s, and your flight back to LA is in 6 hours. They took a urine sample to confirm. But you already took a urine sample. You wait on a 1980s-style vinyl chair, looking up at a wall of photographs, mostly of black babies. A nurse stops in front of you and confirms you are who you say you are, then looks around uncertainly for your husband. “He’s in the bathroom,” you say. “Oh,” she says. “Well...you’re definitely pregnant!” “Okay. Okay,” you say, looking at the scratchy patterned gray carpet squares.
City of Angels, 2013 “Hey, how are you?” A beautiful, brown-skinned man has sat up from the makeshift loft in your boss’s Los Angeles home office. It is the day after Thanksgiving, and the boss and his sugar baby girlfriend apparently had a rager the night before. “I’m good. I work here.” The man tells you the Boss and Sugar Baby are such great people, to throw a Thanksgiving party for all of their friends. You lie and agree. There is a turkey carcass placed precariously on a table behind your head, empty vials that you guess formerly held cocaine littered around it. The man leaves. Boss stumbles out an hour later from behind the curtained-off bedroom, disheveled with bloodshot eyes. “I thought you weren’t coming in today,” he growls. Sugar Baby comes out a second later. “Oh...hey,” she says, her eyes glance over you, as if you were a roach stuck in her cranberry sauce. This is the general greeting she makes every day that you see her.
You think about the time you heard them having sex in the shower, while you worked in the living room. You think about her telling you how she sells her eggs - the ones in her ovaries for money, but doesn’t like quitting drugs, so she duct tapes a bag of clean urine under her dress when she gets drug tested. You think about the time Boss and Sugar Baby left for a night out, and you and your husband watched a concert at Capitol Records from their window, eating kettle chips and drinking pumpkin beer. Boss fires you on Monday. 3315 Dr. Sometimes, you stand in the middle of your daughter’s converted bedroom (formerly your husband’s little sister’s room, formerly the guest bedroom, formerly the little sister’s now-fiance’s room) and slowly turn in a circle. There are pink paper decorations hanging from the ceiling, and a string of pink paper hearts that guests from your baby shower wrote well wishes on above the crib. Sometimes, you let the cat sleep in the bassinet beside the bed in your husband’s childhood bedroom. Sometimes, when you wake up at night, you forget that you are 8 months pregnant, because there is no movement except yours, and your arms and legs still feel strong. DFCS You have waited at a welfare office before, but not an un-air conditioned one. You are literally sweating your ass off. Water trickles down your legs, and you rub your scratchy unshaven calves together. A man waits in line beside you, alternately moving from nearby chair to nearby chair, exerting the fact that He Was Here First. But then he starts talking to you. You tell him you just moved from LA - he says he’s from Long Beach. When you say, “Los Angeles,” his eyes grow wide, and he rubs his fingers together to indicate that you must have money. You stutter that you don’t, already embarrassed about being one of the only white people there. He tells you he grew up with Snoop Dogg. You say you believe him. When your name is called, the tired woman behind the counter tells you that you should’ve called the Food Stamps Hotline, not come to the DFCS office. You’ve been there an hour-and-a-half in shoes that haven’t fit for a month. The sandals’ straps cut into your feet and leave red marks as you walk back from the un-air conditioned building to your un-air conditioned car. It’s 90 degrees in Atlanta today. Riverside & Colfax You’re at your favorite place to get coffee with your husband - a French cafe about a mile from your apartment in the Valley, where Selma Blair once asked you if her coffee was yours, and you stuttered, “No.” You tell him you think you’ve had too many cysts on your ovaries in the past year, and you’re convinced that you’re infertile. “Well, if you are, then we’ll figure out. We can always adopt. That’s what adoption is for.” It’s not the same thing, and you did this to yourself. You bite a fingernail and spin a lighter on the patio table. The Square The two of you sit outside this new coffee shop, the only one in ten miles that isn’t Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Gnats and mosquitos buzz around your feet and later, your husband will rub calamine lotion on them while you lie on his childhood bed with a pillow between your thighs.
You explain (again) why this version of yourself isn’t in line with what you expected. Lightning bugs float above your heads, and everything in the conversation, every curious head tilt indicates that you are failing in explaining yourself, falling behind in the general recourse that
everyone else gets, what it means to have empathy and a simpatico relationship. Space Work It could happen all of the time, but you like to think that your improv teacher doesn’t look every Basic 101 student in the eye during their review and say, “You belong here. You were made for this school.” When you find out, 3 months later, that you’re pregnant, you replay that conversation, that look, that floating-walking-out-thedoor-onto-Melrose-down-the-block-to-what-would’ve-been-your-go-to -bar feeling over and over while you tell yourself that this doesn’t have to be it, you have options, when you know that you don’t, and there’s only one. You don’t let yourself wish for bad things to happen, but you entertain what-ifs. You watch new episodes of SNL in a warm living room on a couch from JC Penney’s, but you no longer think about holding up a handwritten sign that says, “Hi Daddy!” You do talk about which of the performers is your favorite with your father-in-law, reenact scenes by Amy Poehler, Kristin Wiig, Eddie Murphy. Your mother-in-law says she thinks your husband could be on the show, and you agree, and you don’t tell her about watching the show every Sunday morning when you were in high school while your parents were in church, because your dad would record it for you Saturday night over old VHS tapes. Over and over again. The Town Your experiences within and love for a city that seemed to exist only in your dreams start to blur around the edges as time passes, like a magazine that has fallen into a soapy bathtub, narrowly saved from complete disaster by your scramble to preserve the images that take your mind off and away from the rise of your distended belly above the bubbles.
You are in someone else’s home in Seattle, working a dream gig during the day and well into the night as a producer for a horror film. You have a broken foot, the result of a misstep in Little Tokyo, so you opt for baths instead of showers for the month that the doctor with the kind eyes told you you’d be out of commission for normal person duties - like walking. Crew members, actors, compliment you on your ability to stay upright at this point, 5 months pregnant with a broken foot. You’re like a goddamn hero, a feministic mark of “We Can Do It!” chutzpah for women to use as a placeholder for their ambitions. Or they just feel extra bad that your waddle is more pronounced. Marin County If you could go back, you wouldn’t go to the Santa Monica Pier - a tourist trap and a place you never really trusted anyway but you’d drive back from Downtown to the Valley at 5 p.m. and watch the sunset while being stuck in traffic on the 101. You’d sit on the beach in Malibu beside the cliffs that everyone climbs; you’d drive past Hollywood and Highland just to see the tourists, past the Asian-inspired apartment you almost rented, past the dueling Catwomen, past the W Hotel where you had your first job interview, and the skirt you wore was too short, and you imagined that someday you’d be able to bankroll staying there or better yet, the Chateau Marmont, for a week or more. You’d go back to San Francisco around October 15, 2014, to the rich woman’s apartment where you were cat-and-housesitting, where you and your husband were finally alone after 2 weeks of pain from the cysts and working 10, 12 hour days. Afterwards, you’d still go see Gone Girl with him at the cheap theater, walking there up narrow hills, smoking cigarettes, and taxiing back. You’d still go to Marin County and run on the beach, climb the slippery rocks while the tide came in, pitch ideas for children’s’ books. Nothing would change, except you’d go back knowing what was going to happen and why you were there, and why every moment and grain of sand beneath your feet would be more memorable than any naive concept of what freedom encompassed. You write this from the floor of your daughter’s bedroom.
EDITOR IN CHIEF Jon Dean ASSOCIATE EDITOR Zaida J. Sanchez MANAGING EDITOR Ryder McEntyre WRITING EDITOR Nicholas Goodly GRAPHIC DESIGN Blake England WRITTEN CONTRIBUTORS Ami Le, Evelyn Murdock, Cecilia Winter, T.K. Habtermariam, Jamison Edgar, Curtis Keisler, MonteQarlo, Colin James, Franco Bejarano, J Avery Theodore Daisey, Danielle Wood, Anna Giles, Phillip Spotswood, Rae Parnell, Mayowa Afolayan, Ming Vase-Dynasty, & Reid Drake VISUAL CONTRIBUTORS Aineki Traverso, Asafe Pereira, Aubrey Longley-Cook, Barry Lee, Blake England, Brian Barbieri, Cai Blanton, Emily Getsay, Yani G, Jamison Edgar, Jesse Pratt Lopez, Jon Dean, Patrick Di Rito, Sara Keith, Paul Chan + Badlands Unlimited, & Christopher Wilbanks