Hey everyone! This is Gene, the beatboxer and newest member of the EMW family! Just wanted to chime in and tell you all about this event full of mouth-maticians, that is "BeastBox". You need to forget EVERYTHING you know about beatboxing before attending one of these events, because these performers will blow your mind by quite literally, speaking music at you. We had professional beatboxers from all over the Eastcoast to come up and do a showcase. Some performed with a wide range of electronic equipments while some with just one microphone. Some fused beatboxing and stand up comedy while others fused bird calls. The event was meant to showcase the versatility of the art, and these beatboxers did just that, and MORE! And just when you thought you've heard everything, BAM! Scooter (aka. Goyama) plays some killin tracks and break dancers come out of the audience to start a dance battle! Yeah. It was nuts. To wrap up the night, Kai Huang (itsyerboi) and myself started a big beatbox/MC cypher with a classic EMW closing chant. The vibe was perfect, and everyone was having such a great time I seriously wanted to cry. Big Shout out to my beatboxing homies from NY and CT for coming up to perform, and BIG BIG ups to the EMW crew for helping me organize such an incredible event!! And most of all, thank you to all of you that attended the event and creating such a great supportive vibe towards the performers and our passion! For those who missed it, there will be more :) Dates coming soon. Peace, Love, and Beatbox.
This month the salon was small, but the experiments were big. A video of a woman shifting between poses that mimic a fashion magazine; intimate gesture drawings of the body; a found text. What can we make of these?
A portrait of a dear friend, deceased, in plastic gems.
The latest iteration in the story of a teenager told through handmade prints of his bedroom desk, the trunk of his car, his instagram posts.
A magical discovery in Cambridge: invisible to passersby, a place for music, for dance, for picnics? A gazebo you never knew was right there in front of you.
Also, incredibly delicious vegan brownies.
What up y'all. It's your colleague Kai Huang back in the building with another update on our most recent East Meets Words open mic, which took place this past Friday here at 934. I just got back from double weekend shifts at the hospital, so now I've got Monday off to kick back and reflect and give y'all the science.
So this open mic was pretty dope. People brought it on all fronts, but what I really want to talk about is our feature performance from the girl Stine, who is a stand up comedian, comic artist, and ukulele player. Damn, her set was beautiful.
Well, actually, Stine got held up somewhere and couldn't make it to the bookstore that night, so her whole set was performed by her receptionist Gregor Spamsa, who incidentally bears a striking resemblance to Stine herself. Shouts to Kafka for you lit heads out there. Spamsa held it down strong, but he kept remarking that Stine was really hard on him and that he hated working for her. Ugh, it was a poignant commentary on self-doubt and it reminded me a lot of that classic Chris Rock bit when he talks about, "When you meet someone for the first time, you're not meeting them... you're meeting their representative."
Damn. I guess we all got insecurities, fam. It can be tough being yourself out here. And that's a lot of what this feature was about. Stine's work examined her own anxiety and in the process, she held a two-way mirror up to help us examine ours. Which is wild, because most people go out on Friday nights to escape things, but here we were being forced to confront things - big, scary things about the people we were and the people we are. I mean, her work brought so much vulnerability to the table. It was super disarming for me as an audience member. At one point, she played a song called "Everyday in Every Way, I'm Getting Better," which is my new turn up song. She was all like:
I used to get panic attacks I used to get panic attacks everyday I still get panic attacks But only once in a while Everyday, in every way, I'm getting better and better and better and better and better and better and better
It fucked with me, y'all. The shit was simple and tender, like a paper cut.
...BUT I MEAN, THE WHOLE SET WAS LIKE THAT THOUGH!! Look, it's cliche, but everyone knows that the best comedy is usually laced with some pretty significant tragedy. A big part of what makes art beautiful is that we can peer inside ourselves and learn to do battle with our boggarts by laughing at them. And sometimes, maybe by crying with them. And other times, maybe by giving them a much-needed hug.
Fuck, I don't know what I'm trying to say, man. But hopefully y'all do. Shit is real. Art continues. Life continues. I'll see y'all next month for another round. Till then, fam, this has been Kai Huang AKA Mr. It's Yer AKA the boy in the black v-neck AKA the Allen Iverson of EMW AKA emotions on emotions. Peace. Please remember to feel things.
Bonus: Fellow stand up comedian Josh Do hanging out with a life-sized stuffed bear at Stine's exhibit, signifying how comfort objects designed to help you bear (lol) your anxiety can actually magnify that shit in their own way. Haha look at my man posted up with that look of ennui on his face. Vicious.
by Sabrina Ghaushttp://aawomynproject.wordpress.com/
When I was little, I read voraciously. I was one of those skinny, pint-sized humans always peering out from behind a good book – Harry Potter, Circle of Magic, Little Women, Redwall…stories gave angsty little me a sense that I wasn’t as alone as I felt. Not too much has changed since then – I still read Harry Potter religiously, and sometimes, like everyone else, I feel a bit alone.
A few months ago, I began this blog: The Asian American Womyn Project. I’ve been interviewing rad, politicized womyn from the Asian diaspora in the Boston area about their life, their work, and their visions for liberation. Silly me thought it would just be “a good experience”, something fun to do – but what I didn’t realize was that I would come away with something bigger than nine beautiful stories. I would have a community. In a city that I moved to for school only about four years ago, I would find myself a network of strong, loving, powerful womyn who understood what it meant for them to be womyn of color – and Asian and Asian American womyn, in particular. “Network” doesn’t even feel like the right word. This community of people feels to me like a trampoline (bear with me here) – they’re there to catch me when I fall, and they give me the power to jump ever higher.
What struck me as I began the interviewing process was how honest each of these womyn were willing to be. I remember sitting in Karen Young’s (founder of the Genki Spark) kitchen, holding in tears as she talked about her feminism and her ideas about liberation. I remember trading poems with Tara Venkatraman (youth organizer at The City School), and sharing parts of my own story with each person I interviewed. So often, I found myself on the verge of tears during the interviews, and it wasn’t because the stories people shared were tragic. It was because of the immense strength that I could feel myself gathering from hearing their words, and because of the incredible gratitude I felt for their honesty and vulnerability with me. This project has made me realize that I am not alone and I never will be. I can read about Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama and Arundhati Roy – all radically loving, radically liberating Asian and Asian American womyn – but there was something about sharing a space and trading questions with the womyn featured on my blog that made the idea that I was actually a part of a huge community of political Asian womyn so much more real.
I graduated almost a month ago, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so lost in my life. But every time I start feeling lonely and missing my friend-family from school, I remind myself that the conversations about life and liberation and love and revolution will never end if I don’t want them to. That’s a big part of the reason why I created the blog in the first place – so that when it feels like there’s no one around to talk to about these things, I and all you wonderful people can listen to these stories and be comforted by the fact that we’re never alone on our long walks to freedom. We’re on this path because of, and for, each other.
Rest in power, fam.
Fab Foundation goes to Washington! In April the USA Science and Engineering Festival was held in Washington, DC and attended by more than 300,000 youngsters, parents, educators, funders and policy makers. In partnership with Chevron, Project Lead the Way and Fab Lab DC, Fab Foundation hosted a plethora of STEM and digital fabrication demonstrations and hands-on fab activities for young participants. The Foundation is now planning and working on demonstrations and the White House Maker Faire to be held this June. We'll be taking MIT's mobile fab lab to the White House and featuring a bunch of fab demonstrations on the South Lawn.
The Mobile fab lab may also visit Cambridge City Hall this summer for a few weeks. Stay tuned...
by Jose Gomez-Marquez
Let's Make Health! That's was the banner under which we all flew Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 at the Maimonides Medical Center Mini Maker Faire in Brooklyn. Fifty years ago, in that same hospital, Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz used modified electronic metronomes bought in Canal street to prototype the first implantable pacemakers. They hacked AM transistor radios tuned to their lowest frequency to debug the pacemaker ticking and propelled the hospital's research to do pioneering work in heart transplant surgery.
Today, that spirit of making in health is alive and well in the 100 years old hospital. The hospital staff with leadership from their Community of Nurse Scholars program hosted the first ever Mini Maker Faire in a hospital. Working closely with the MakerNurse program at MIT's Little Devices Lab, the event brought together health makers from around the hospital and the local neighborhood to showcase actual medical technologies and projects being used everyday.
So what's it like to host the first ever Mini Maker Faire at a hospital?
We knew this wasn't going to be a typical Mini Maker Faire when the first thing that rolled into the venue was a 6 foot tall, life sized, animatronic medical simulation mannequin used at the Center for Clinical Simulation. It was part of an exhibit called Remaking the Hospital Bed where Mini Maker Faire guests could come and up modify and attach ideas of how you could make the typical hospital bed, a better one. The simulation environments are critical for health making---you don't want to experiment your ideas on a patient when you can start with a robot. At Maimonides, the health making doctors and nurses try out their idea and training on robots before it reaches the bedside.
Veteran Makers from NYSCI's Makerspace in Queens joined us during the daytime portion of the event to make paper circuits, large scale prototyping, and learning the basics of hand sewing---which turned out to be interesting since there were a lot of surgeons on hand to trade tips on sewing versus suturing!
So why a Mini Maker Faire in a hospital? Taking back health.
Groups like DIYAbility , the Galloway Lab at University of Delaware and our own at MIT have shown that DIY and Health Technologies are returning to makers. Most of the innovations we see in healthcare have often started as maker concepts that eventually got progressively more polished into manufacturable devices. So when Kelly Reilly, a nurse at Maimonides Medical Center and local investigator on our MakerNurse project at the hospital announced they wanted to run a Mini Maker Faire during May, we were ecstatic. We were also about to get a lesson in hospital scheduling.
Mini Maker Faire: the Day Shift and the Night Shift
Hospitals never sleep, not even when the patients are sleeping. So one major difference in programming was hosting two Maker Faire sessions: Daytime (11am to 4pm) and Nightime (8pm to Midnight) to make sure all the hospital staff could join, even those beginning their day at 8:30pm and leaving at 5:30am. We had a lot of coffee that day. This also included a some kids from the neighborhood a little past their bedtime on a school night. Who can resist attaching Makey Makey's on hospital equipment, though?
In one exhibit, we used modern day prototyping tools such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, and good old fashion hacking of consumer devices to recreate devices made by nursing from 1920s through the 1950's. One of our favorites was a "Nurse Locator" sign which was like the Status Update of 1955.
Lego's in the Oncology Wing
Victor Ty is an oncology nurse by day, Lego master builder every other day, he wowed visitors with this recreations of linear accelerators for radiation treatment built with a purpose: to help pediatric patients cope and understand the treatment process in what would usually be a big scary machine in the eyes of some very sick kids. By learning how the machines work and what's about to happen to them, kids, especially those with sensory, language and cognitive challenges, can be more comfortable with treatment.
Hot Tamales, Jelly Beans and Plasma: DIY Medical Simulation for Ages 10 and under
Another staff member who works as part of the Child Life Services team, demonstrated the various tools they make to help kids understand what the body goes through during different treatments. With a mixture of Karo Syrup, Hot Tamale candy's, Jelly Beans and food coloring in a bottle, you get an amazing representation of the body during an infection and how our blood fights back. I have friends who design advanced simulation systems for the Army medics and this visualization of the blood system is one of the best (and cheapest) I've ever seen. Oh yeah, and the kids actually make it themselves. That's health making.
Exchanges, brainstorms, tools and tinkering
Maker Faire is more than just a show and tell gathering, it's an exchange of things and ideas and that's exactly what Maimonides set out to do. By gathering caregiver staff from all sorts of departments: Neonatal Intensive Care Units, Delivery Units, the ER, the OR, the Post-Operative Intensive Care Unit, the Psychiatry department, and many more across the hospital and around the neighborhood, we were able to see first hand what happens when we have conversations about making health: Could we use a Raspberrry Pi camera to track motion? Is an accelerometer really that small? That cheap!? We give you Sugru, we trade you with surgical tape. Can you 3-D print this type of clasp for the Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine? Could we make a mold instead so it's softer? I can make my own app with AppInventor? Could we use it to make a wound monitoring system? The folks at DIYAbility are hacking the toys again with accesibility circuits, could we use that conductive fabric for the hospital bed? Can you roll the MakerNurse Technology Crash Cart closer to this part of the hall?
In the end, as a health making lab that gets to work with maker nurses, maker doctors, maker caregivers and maker patients around the world, these conversations were music to our ears. And the beyond the conversations, the prototypes and the device making that is continuing after the first Mini Maker Faire at a hospital offer a the promise that something you can hold on your hand, is something that can heal, and something you can make. Our team at the hospital, the lab, and our friends at DIYAbility, NYSCI are incredibly excited. We'll see you at the next hospital Mini Maker Faire!
Written by Khudejha Asghar What is the Silence Project?
The Silence Project is a survivor-led, survivor empowerment project that aims to understand the relationship between silence, trauma and empowerment. Through the use of artistic mediums, it seeks to expand community understanding of violence and trauma and provide a space for voices to be heard, with the long-term goal of spreading knowledge and tools to foster communities that support, respect, and empower survivors of violence.
The first event is a creative conversation in which perspectives of survivors will be collected via an online survey and then visually interpreted by artists. EMW will host a gallery of these interpretations, which will precede an open mic featuring the voices of survivors of violence. We are currently recruiting artists and survivors who would like to share their stories.
The Silence Project is looking for artists to create 1-3 visual art pieces (medium at artists’ discretion) representing an interpretation of excerpts from survivor experiences of silence and empowerment following violence. If you are an artist who has experienced violence and would like to create an interpretation of your own story, we would love to have your contribution. We are also looking for artists to create small-size pieces of art (such as postcards and photos) as rewards for a kick-starter.
We will be distributing an online survey asking questions related to your experiences of violence and support you received, with the goal of better understanding what helped you decide to or not to tell others about the trauma you witnessed or experienced. We will interview a few survivors about some of their experiences in greater detail as well. Excerpts from the online survey and in-depth interviews will be de-identified to protect your confidentiality and given to artists to create a visual interpretation. We are also looking for survivors who want to share any prose or poetry at an open mic that will occur during the opening reception of the completed gallery.
Process and Timeline:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in contributing artwork or sharing your story. Once the online survey has been distributed and responses have been collected, excerpts will be de-identified and given to artists. Artwork will then be collected from artists and survivors will be asked if they would like to share any creative pieces during the open mic.
There is no financial compensation for this project. EMW is raising funds to pay for printing and framing of digital art and photography. Artists can choose to put their work up for sale during the exhibition with the option to donate a portion of the proceeds to the non-profit organization Matahari.
We had a second Salon for Artistic Experimentation! This time there was an even wider range of experiments than before, with some returning folks and some newbies. Also the snacks were pretty diverse (including chocolatey homerun balls, banana flavored crunchies, sea creature puffs, and also hummus).
Here are the experiments we experienced and brainstormed about:
4321 project What are 4 books that changed your life? 3 songs that make you want to dance? 2 people you love dearly? 1 memory you’ll never forget? What would it be like to have an online archive of semi-anonymous profiles like this?
Skin-to-skin synth Suppose you could trigger digital sounds just by making skin contact with another person. How would you choreograph a relationship between movement, touch, and sound? What about childhood hand-clapping games like slide and pattycake?
Dancing words She moves her left leg; I say “potato!” She tilts her head; you say “banana!” The performer’s specifc movements cue an audience to say different words. The result is a cacophony of language and movement. How do they interact?
Conference with no humans Who… or what attends this event, inspired by the “non-human turn” in philosophy? What can they say and do? What kind of catering do robots like? Can the keynote address be given by a sock? What is the role of humans if they do attend?
Selfie Prints How does social media amplify and transform the presentation of identity? Can we tell a story about the life of a teenager through artifacts, digital and physical, private and public, presented as art prints?
Re-imagining the solo gallery show What experiences can we create in a gallery? Will people buy zines or other swag? Can the artist attend their own show in another persona? How to combine art prints, sculptural objects and live performance in the same space?
We’ll hold salons on the third friday of each month. The next one is Friday June 20th. What experiment will you bring?
As someone that lives in Central Square, I've walked past the East Meets West Bookstore a million times, sometimes seeing a band or some other interesting activity on the other side of its windows. I finally got my proper introduction through Subdrift, an open mic celebrating South Asian culture. The night included poetry, music, dancing and of course standup comedy (which they were more than gracious enough to let me perform).
In a former life I was musician (if you google me hard enough you'll find some really old songs). When I switched to standup the thing I missed most was the collaboration with all the other great performers in Boston. We get stuck in our silos as we get better and better but don't have a lot of cross communication with all the other talent in the city.
When I decided I wanted to start organizing a night of comedy on my own, I knew East Meets was the perfect place to have it. We're in one of the best cities for standup comedy in the world and there are plenty of clubs and comedy nights that showcase that talent. But I knew the collaborative nature of East Meets West would be the right place to tap into the other talent Boston has to offer, so that we could separate ourselves and provide a unique experience.
For our first show, I mixed in storytelling not only because I'm a huge fan but because it has so much synergy with standup comedy. It was important for me to reach out to members of Boston's very accomplished storytelling scene. Luckily we were able get Brendyn Schneider and Robin Maxfield, who did amazing jobs introducing many of our audience members to this field.
We also featured Arty P., Kenice Mobley and Emily Ruskowski as the standups for the night. All of whom are hilarious and have styles that fit in with taking the audience through a journey.
We've had a great audience response and we're excited to continue Standup++. We're going to be on the second Tuesday of every month. Come check out our next one on Tuesday June 10th at 8pm where we'll be featuring slam poetry. And like us on Facebook to be kept in the loop!
*All pictures taken by Sarah Sparks of http://www.massbytes.com/
I first saw Franny Choi at EMW a couple of years ago, when she and a bunch of talented students from Brown U (including one of our current EMW residents, Kai Huang) featured. So it's been a real treat witnessing her rise as a poet, from all the national poetry slams she's dominated to doing a TED talk, from publishing her first book to being profiled by the Poetry Foundation. I suppose I should clarify that I'm not a stalker, but that I follow, teach and write about Asian American literature for a living. ;)
I could get all academicky about what Franny is doing with spoken word poetry as a form and how Jess X. Chen's haunting illustrations serve as interlocutors to Franny's poems in their volume, Floating, Brilliant, Gone, but I'm not going to. In the four years that I've been coming to EMW, I come not as a prof, but as any other person who is constantly processing what it means to navigate this world in my body, who needs community in order to validate/embrace/resist/negotiate all the mechanisms that inform my day-t0-day experience. Which is why for me the most memorable line from Franny's reading last night came from her poem, "Orientalism (Part II)"-- It's about being an Asian woman with a white boyfriend, and having to deal with all the pasts and presents that their bodies signify. The lover tells the speaker: "Please, my love,/ Not every house is haunted."
That got me thinking about what ghosts I'm constantly battling, that we're all constantly battling. I've never been more aware of what it means to walk around the world as an Asian woman until I've had to navigate two things: working as a professor in the lily white world of academia, and dating as a single woman in Boston. Just as Franny writes about being cat called by men who shout, "I like pork fried rice!" I could testify to having fucked up things said to me. It was at work, not on a date, when an older white man asked me if I wanted to sit on his lap. It was on a date, not at work, when a man (not white, which makes this more sad) marveled at my "outspokenness," as if it's some genetic anomaly. It's in the pursuit of both work and love that I constantly have to explain where I am really from. We could wish that these interactions, however frustrating, are ultimately benign, that they're just the faux pas of some stupid and ignorant individuals. We fear, though we know to be true, that they indicate something deeper: that the reason why these and far worse violences happen is because we have built the world in a way that allows them to.
It's easy to walk around angry, jaw clenched so tight that you have a chronic headache, as I have. What's not as easy is containing that anger, channeling it towards something productive, all the while figuring out what moments are residues of some larger forces of oppression that are worth fighting and which moments welcome forgiveness.
That, I suppose, is why poetry is so important. We get to figure that shit out. And take comfort in knowing that we don't have to figure that shit out alone. And, moreover, we get to sigh, cry, and laugh together in that process.
I think that's why one of my favorite poems of Franny's is "Pussy Monster." Through such a simple move, of rearranging the words to a Lil' Wayne song by order of frequency, she incisively highlights the narcissism with which misogyny operates, as the poem culminates in an outpouring of "me me me me me..." and "I I I I I I I I I I..." But by the end the word "pussy," which signifies so much violence done towards women, gets reclaimed as both political commentary and as a word we can chuckle about. Even better, it becomes a collective mantra-- It's telling that Franny's reading last night ended with the entire audience chanting with her, "pussy, pussy, pussy, pussy..."
As Franny would say, that's magic.
Saturday was our very first Open Art Lab, and I really, really, really liked it. Sometimes art is a grand and laboriously intentional endeavor (or intentionally unintentional one). And, other times it’s an excuse to kick it with the fam. With this fam, obligation is no weighty tombstone. You’re never lassoed to Venus when your heart says Pluto or told you have thirty seconds to find your #2 Ticonderoga. Play can be productive, and things that are fun to be fun can be fruitful.
For instance, at the Art Lab I made a friend. I don’t remember his name, but that doesn’t matter. He was a strong looking guy with memorable chest hair who, in the right light and the wrong places, could intimidate with ease. I definitely assumed he’d stand a respectable distance from the bucket of markers, a toxic sandpit for manly manliness, but it’s awesome how wrong I was. He was the only person who came in and just started folding up origami cranes without needing guidance. The dude told me the story of why he’s such a black belt crane-folding master, and it’s because he’s the best person ever. Check it: he said that when he was younger, he’d pick up trash if he saw it on the street (PAUSE which is a totally underrated feat because, let’s be real, if I saw trash, there’s a one in five chance I’d relocate it to the trash can, and I went to college, y’all PLAY), and if the trash was foldable, he’d craft a crane and place it close to where he found it.
Here’s the adorable part. One day, he walked onto a train in Boston, found trash, folded it to a crane, and placed it on the window sill, per usual. Soon afterwards, a great, big, grumpy man stormed in scaring the apps off his phone, yelling, yelling, yelling. He ended his call in a fury and was about to probably kick a kitten when he looked over and saw the tiny trash crane. He took his great, big, grumpy fingers and delicately picked up the crane by its tail, took a seat, rested the crane on his open palm, and sat with it until getting off at his stop.
DON’T YOU WANNA MAKE TINY TRASH CRANES ALL THE TIME NOW??! OMG real time, no joke, some TP just flew off the butt of a garbage truck that just rolled through (also remembering I forgot to take my trash out). TOTALLY A SIGN: ‘bout to crane the WORLD #stopkittenkicking.
Anyways, shit like this makes me want to art-lab every day. And, I’m not even playing up the ridiculous amount of skill that was swimming in the room. Watch out, world. Dancing meets graphic design meets photography meets videography meets beats meets illustration meets BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WHO WANNA LOVE AND BE LOVED IN THE BEST WAYS THEY KNOW HOW.
If you read this, I really, really, really hope to see you at the next Open Art Lab (every third Saturday, 1-4pm). Shit’s gorgeous, in a manly origami kind of way.
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. Questo is killing me here:
I'm actually holding back tears. Thank you Sarrah "The Matriarch" Shahawy for the find.
Lol you asked for it, so here it is! It's another edition of "Fucked Up Things White People Do For 1,000, Alex." One of my favorite segments here at EMW. This week in 19th century racism, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has some opinions he'd like you to know about! See the amazing clip below. Ahh I love it when stuff like this happens.
Yo, his girl though... ugh. Please support her at: http://instagram.com/vstiviano. Holler at me, babe. I ain't worth 2 billi, but I'll let you take photos with Martians if you meet any, AND I'll refrain from referring to you as a "delicate white or Latina girl." Lol lol.
UPDATE, 4/29: As you've probably heard by now, NBA Commish Adam Silver made a strong move and banned Donald Sterling for life, and slapped him with a $2.5 mil fine, which is nothing to this dude, but is the maximum fine allowable by the NBA Constitution. I also came across this painful and beautifully written article on Slate:
Excerpt, on some plantation shit:
"The owner of a sports franchise acquires his cultural cachet by basking in the reflected glory of his players. There’s a dark side to that owner-player relationship that we don’t really think about, an uncomfortable truth that’s particularly fraught when you consider the racial dynamics at play in the NBA. A white plutocrat like Los Angeles Clippers owner/Hall-of-Fame-caliber bigot Donald Sterling doesn’t just own a basketball team. He owns the black players who suit up for that team, too."
Reminiscent of a classic:
What do these have in common?
- an interactive projection that lets you draw with light on the wall by moving your body
- an orchestra of iphones making shimmering sounds as you shake them
- a detailed print of an empty apartment after a party
- a question about the transformation of space with light
- an LED array filling the room with pinks and purples and greens, in sync with piano melodies
- a spoken word piece performed by a group in robot voice
- an improvisation game of singing emergent harmonies while lying on the floor
Hey hey! This April's open mic came out with a lil Pacific Northwest twist, with Iris and I MC'ing the event, and my longtime friend Jess X Chen and my newtime friend Paul Tran featuring their poetry, shadow theater, and film.
Open mic participants came through with honesty and courage, like Ricky (above) performing spoken word on gambling addiction and body positivity, and Tomas sharing his poetry for the first time. There was also an interesting moment when someone did a stand-up routine that turned out kinda racist. Though the audience remained disapprovingly silent for his bit, everyone clapped for the guts it takes for someone to go up on stage and tell jokes, and that person stayed for the remainder of the night. That was one of the realest moments I've experienced at EMW: witnessing a community hold one of its own accountable for making mistakes in a way that wasn't about punishment and telling someone to GTFO, but about believing that people can do better.*
Vulnerability and accountability. These themes resonated with me as Jess and Paul turned off the house lights and immersed the audience in their intimate, visually haunting set, sharing their poetry on the effects of war/trauma/colonization on the body/mind/earth. How are our abuse of the land to the abuse of a body to the abuse of a nation's people all interrelated? How do we come to die? Who kills us? How do we come to survive? And what does survival look like?
Jess and Paul's set opened with a screening of #1 BEAUTY NAIL SALON.
Whether or not Jess and Paul intended for that train of thought to go in that direction, that was what was going on in my headspace that night. Just as extraordinary as it was to witness Jess and Paul's immense talent and intellect, it was also wonderful to see the audience breathe and sigh in understanding, bearing a kind of collective testimony to the histories that often remain silenced.
So what did survival look like that night? I saw a community come together to receive difficult truths with grace. I saw a community that, even despite struggle, could laugh and celebrate.
Next month, Franny Choi will be featuring with her new book of poetry, Floating Brilliant Gone, whose cover art is done by Jess. Come by 934 Mass Ave on Friday, May 9th! * For further reading, I recommend Ngoc Loan Tran's article, Calling IN: A Less Disposal Way of Holding Each Other Accountable on Black Girl Dangerous.
Here's another edition of "Fucked Up Things White People Do for 1,000, Alex."
My mans sent me an email about this whole #CancelColbert controversy. Click to enlarge.
Suey Park interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNK-e6nnFGY
Original clip from Colbert (relevant part starts around 4:45): http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/b6cwb3/sport-report---professional-soccer-toddler--golf-innovations---washington-redskins-charm-offensive
Yasiin Gaye - Peculiar Mathematics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVVkc9yWkFA
What up y'all. I wrote a little op-ed for the Crimson on seeing Tiger Moms Amy Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld speak at the Harvard Book Store a few weeks back. Check it out here: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/3/25/havard-amy-chua/