On “The System”

This is your regular reminder that the culture war we are experiencing (with body count and all) is bought and paid for by the wealthiest class as a way to distract from them draining the country and the planet in order to overfill their coffers.

They own the media shaping people’s minds and opinions on both sides, they own (and sometimes are) the politicians. They are defining “normal” and “acceptable” and it’s all nonsense, and that nonsense kills people.

I am well aware that my presentation to most of the world (a fair-skinned male-bodied bearded bespectacled lefty-leaning person with a long-term exclusive opposite-sex partner, amongst other “normal” signifiers) affords me some cultural advantages that my fellow non-straight and otherwise atypical folks do not enjoy.

I do my best to use those traits to raise the voices of those who do not have that visibility rather than to bloviate about issues that may otherwise affect me.

I do this not for any sense of credit or ego, but because lived experience will always be more relevant and important than even the most compassionate speech by those not in as many positions of marginalization.

I’m pretty open about my identity in how I present to the world. I am a Queer person (which to me, defines a worldview as much as anything else). I am not a straight person. Ever more relevantly, I’m Jewish.  My relationship is not traditional in many ways, though it is absolutely committed.

What I do know is that “Normal” feels super oppressive to me, rather than something I identify with. The prevailing culture is so toxic to intentionality, compassion, generosity, inclusion and wholeness and actively suppresses those things with violence and manipulation of narrative. It hurts women (cis and otherwise) especially, men in different ways and affords very little room for others along the spectrum.

Whenever possible, I strive to reject this “normalcy,” and avoid it.  I am very much aware that I have the privilege to do so.

So what are some small things can we do in addition to the political acts of resistance we must take as people with privilege?  What can we do as compassionate individuals desiring of a more whole human experience for all that is not afforded us by how things are right now? How can we move the needle?

Here are a few basic things.  Fuck with the system. Make people uncomfortable. Make out in public. Hold hands with two people (don’t block the sidewalk).  If you’re male-bodied / identified, hug your male friends without slapping them on the back.  Be kind and uncompromising to individuals and merciless to systems and groups. Shut up and listen.

It’s even more radical, these days.

On the upcoming fights and self care.

​Friends: self-care is important. This will require us to be strong and resilient (some of us sadly have more practice at this because of systemic oppression.) We will all need to support each other as best we can wherever we are at, in order to make the necessary changes.
I am here to listen as best I can and also to talk about other love and life-affirming things in order to keep our strength up. 

I am scared. My friends and loved ones are scared. My fellow LGBTQ people are scared. My fellow Jews are scared. My fellow non-traditional-relationship people are scared. My fellow socialists are scared. My fellow feminists are scared. My fellow self employed people are scared. My fellow social justice advocates are scared, and fired the fuck up.

I have no platitudes, other than this: We are not alone. We are strong. And as DeRay Mckesson says: “We will win.”

Jeremy’s Top Albums – 2015

Yes, I know it’s late.

AirLands – AirLands (Self-released):  Dude formerly of Stars of Track and Field does Greys Anatomy pop, collaborating with Ben Weikel (Helio Sequence).
Young Wonder – Birth (Feel Good Lost): Irish electronic pop. Distinctly mid 2010s EDM sounds but more reverie and 6/8 than BROWWWWWWWWWWMMM-y
Matthew Perryman Jones – Cold Answer (Self-Released): My list always has a dude-with-guitar-Americana record and MPJ has been on the list several times.  This one has banjo!
BT/Gregory Tripi – Dark Places (Original Score) (Milan Records): Dark, atmospheric, brooding, reverby. Featuring Belong and David Kristian
Vessels – Dilate (Bias): Dancey post-rock, reissued in 2016 with some new great remixes. RIYL Oneohtrix point never, Holly Herndon
Calexico – Edge of the Sun (Anti): Calexico goes synthy?  With new collaborators including Sam Beam, Ben from Band of Horses and Neko Case, it works.
VV Brown – Glitch (self-released): Former Janelle-alike (in a good way) takes her craft in more Emika-meets-Robyn-like direction.
Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness (Domino): Avant-garde weird music auteur goes ever-so-slightly pop, spotlights her gift for lush and melody, Polly Jean fandom.
ASC – Imagine The Future (Samurai Music Group): Music with which to explore a barren unfamiliar-yet-somehow-super-mechanical underground city on a newly discovered planet while wearing a comfortable yet slightly restrictive space suit.
Bluebirds Of Paradise – In A Night (Project 4): Ari Hest and Caitlin Canty craft a light-as-cotton-candy confection straight out of a 70s French rom-com, flute solos and all.
Editors – In Dream (PIAS): Icy, in a Nick Cave and Depeche Mode (and side project Recoil)-esque way
Arovane & Hior Chronic – In-Between (A Strangely Isolated Place): Music for the end of Brazil, or if Blade Runner were a more contemplative meditation.
The Unthanks – Mount the Air (RabbleRouser Music): Steeped in melancholy in a profoundly British/Celtic way.
Conforce – Presentism (Delsin Records): Like a lesser Polygon Window album
Marriages – Salome (Sargent House): Like a lost Catherine Wheel album or a soundtrack from 1993. Featuring former members of Red Sparowes and Isis.
Findlay Brown – Slow Light (Dead People’s Choice): One of those albums with vocals drenched in echo and choir and close-mic acoustic guitar.

Single/EP honorable mention
Idjut Boys – One For Kenny (Smalltown Supersound): Hypnotizing multi-phasic slow nu-disco remix from Bjorn Torske of this 106bpm classic tribute to Kenny Hawkes, plus a Prins Thomas banger on the flip side.
16 Bit Lolitas – Not The Only One EP (Anjunadeep): When 16bL hit on a solid melody rather than random noodling, they are the kinds of deep proggy tech-house.

Mix honorable Mention:
Jon Hopkins – LateNightTales

What I’ve Learned, 2015 Edition

I used to do these “What I’ve Learned” lists every year. I’m going to do them more.

  • Resistance is not a reason not to do things.  It may be an invitation to explore further.  It’s also not a reason to shut down and “power through” without feeling.
  • Having a structure to my day is one of the only ways I can stave off feeling like a useless burden on society.  Writing just three things that I’d like to accomplish the night before and being able to cross them off is helpful (a framework I learned from Gina Trapani).  When I don’t do this, it starts a spiral of self-judgment and shame around concepts like “wasting my life” and “not living up to my potential” that actually get me further mired, rather than leading to action.
  • My voice is not essential in conversations about politics, and the best way to use my privilege is to amplify the voices of those being primarily affected by oppression.
  • I am sad a lot.  I have a habit of self-medicating/numbing out to avoid sadness.  I’m trying to sit with it more.  If I can sit with my emotional state for 30 seconds longer than I did yesterday and then numb out if I want to, then that is an accomplishment that I can feel proud of.
  • I have real challenges with internally-generated motivation. Motivating myself and feeling ‘positive’ (i.e. motivating) emotions like excitement and anger get quickly redirected into shame (as well-documented in The Change Triangle).  This motivation -> shame cycle is often misdiagnosed as depression (though I have also historically struggled with depression, I’ve thankfully . I am addressing this. This shall be addressed.