Sunday, August 14, 2016

The things I need in a new town

Not all that long ago, living in Seattle, when I'd meet people from other places, in natural conversation they'd say "I live in ____" and I'd honestly ask, (if not a little snobbishly), "Why'd you want to live there?" emphasis on "there". Having spent most of my life in the Seattle area, a place filled with, like, all of the things that bring me joy, I wondered earnestly if other places have what Seattle, (or Tacoma and TBH PDX), has. Now, as we're trying to figure out where to move next I've compiled a list of things that I think of as requirements to fill my creative needs, to help me plot. It's a ridiculous list, a truly ridiculous list, and I'm confident that few places outside of major cities would have such an eclectic bunch of stuff. In making the list I can say I have pretty unusual requirements, it's a bit silly really, but as I'm missing all of these things I recognize their importance to me. So here we go, an incomplete list of bullshit things I want where I live:

Fabric stores, specialty, from sails to veils
sew & vac repair
stereo hi-fi repair
cobbler
Art supply stores
Any combination of shops to make up for Display & Costume
Costume boutiques (that one on Roosevelt, seriously)
Vintage stores, furniture and clothing
A variety of thrift stores
salvage places, auto, building supplies, interior finishes
record stores
custom t-shirt shop (this comes up a lot in my life)
more than one tattoo shop
event rental stuff, lights, sound, etc
BIG industrial arts center
local, non chain hardware stores
local theaters
arthouse cinema and second run movie theaters
locally owned booksellers, new and used
locally owned eyeglasses boutique
Korean spa (lady needs a scrub down)
Local reprographics place
Asian markets, from candy to veggies and spices
lots of ethnic take out, I don't want sit-down boutique noodles
schwanky shoe boutiques
specialty stores like Daley's or that fly tying place on NW 15th
Army Navy surplus places
Corner stores
Game arcades
a magic shop
Jerk Church.
haberdasheries, and not just one
recycled bicycle place
tool lending library
camera shop

and then the regular stuff:
Appreciation and celebration of local indigenous cultures,
_wide_ ranging cultural/ethnic diversity and representation,
civic programming supporting poor and underserved citizens, universities, museums, farmers markets, local breweries, bike lanes, parks, municipal golf, tennis and pools, light rail, ban on styrofoam and plastic grocery bags.

I know the big o'l cities have all this stuff.... I need to know where else.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

tl;dr fuck class.

I wouldn't classify as "white trash", nor the other end of the average person spectrum, middle class, I'd say my immediate family is solidly working class. My mom spent her working years in pink collar work, my dad, when he worked served the rich as a craftsman creating the finer things in their lives, he managed apartment buildings, (an ultimate lazy man's job), later he put his carpentry skills to work as a state employee. Radiating out from my parents, my family had someone who tends to your dead, cleans your fancy clothes, pieces together major infrastructure, others had higher level service jobs, selling fancy things and teaching. Second cousins had more access to higher educations than we did, keeping conversation at major family gatherings interesting. We lived in gritty industrial cities nobody outside of the state could quite place, we lived in rented houses and apartments under the power lines, next to the train tracks or next to the freeway; alternately, out in the actual woods in logging and coal towns or in the places airplanes are made. It's easy to say "I'm from Seattle" but really I'm from Redmond, Mercer Island, Spokane, Arlington, Kent, Black Diamond, Shelton, Maple Valley and Tacoma. I didn't meet an actual rich kid until I moved into Seattle at 11 and went to school during a time of desegregation, which put me in the company of kids whose parents wanted them to have a public school experiences, people who lived in real mansions behind gates with guardsmen. Once I was out on my own and ever since, I've been poor. Like really poor, like living without running water or heat poor. The people I spent my formative years with had similar lives, we're the people who make and sell folks the nice things they have in the houses they own, pour their drinks, put food in front of them, entertain them, we're in the business of making sure they have a fun day or a nice night, we provide things we can't ourselves afford to enjoy.

For most of my life this arrangement has been fine, I'm a pretty good salesperson, I've been a charismatic entertainer, and a competent craftsperson, I love what I make especially when it's pretty good. I'm filled with joy when other people want to give me money for the things I have made, however I get weird when that exchange turns into a service. Are they buying the product of my artisanship and skilled craftsmanship, are they using my skills to manifest something they themselves cannot execute well, are we in agreement or am I reading their mind, am I making a product they're buying, are the commissioning my artwork, or are they ordering something from the Q factory? Making curtains for a restaurant is one thing (side hustle), grant writing and designing a site specific artwork is another (product of formal art training). I hate to admit to myself that I see capital A Art as a service provided to rich people, and I wonder if that thinking is the result of my upbringing.

Chugging along through college under the impression that it was a way out of poverty, I have attended a community college, a fancy pants art school, and a top 5 university. The class disparity between myself and the academy has never been more chilling than at the university. The faculty is amazing and diverse and is comprised of people I'm perfectly comfortable with and would like to maintain lifelong relationships with, it's the students with whom I share classrooms with who make me feel incredibly out of place, not because I didn't deserve to be there, but because I'd more likely sew their table-runners or have built their wine cellars, or have sold them their motorcycle helmets than ever be invited into their homes as a guest. The city I've called home for over 30 years is fast filling up with the people I'd more likely sell something to than people who'd invite me to dinner.

The education I have achieved doesn't prevent me from going home, as it does for the author of the linked article, but rather it's cemented me in my acceptance of being working class. It has shown me that aspiration is a bit complicated and a little dirty. That while it's totally okay to want a comfortable middle class life, it's also totally cool to make do with just keeping the lights on and have new books flowing in. The author noted her NACAR t-shirts as a tie back to her roots, for me it's punk rock, I'll show up at the gym wearing a band t-shirt I've had since god was a child and the whippersnapper trainer will laugh at their perceived irony of a grad student wearing such a thing to the gym, hahaha. Piss off.

The conversations surrounding white privilege are complicated for me, I think because because of a loop of assumptions, I assume that everybody else assumes that because I'm white and educated that I haven't experienced crushing adversities, that I assume a certain set of privileges, yeah, no. I legit assume that every time I leave the house I'll get arrested, hurt or killed for being female or punk. Meanwhile, I am still poor, first and foremost I am a poor woman. I understand, respect and appreciate that even with the little privilege a poor white woman has, it's more than many others, I will participate in conversations which work to illuminate privilege, it's inner workings and how to work within it. The best I can hope for is to take what I've learned in the academy and sow these seeds in unexpected places, the best I can hope for is to be that one memorable teacher who saves some poor kids life through art. For me that teacher was Wayne Swanson, I hope I can have a similar reach as he with his career as an art teacher.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Calling Cards



My new calling cards have arrived. I've been waiting a very long time to make a deck of cards as business cards and I finally found a place where I could order custom playing cards.

[disclaimer] I, by no means think of myself as a "designer" and I'm not trying to pass myself off as one. Graphic design is a special special skill set I do not have much practice in.... outside of school and 20 years of personal projects. Because of my utter disdain for interacting with graphic design clients, I flatly refuse to practice these skills for other people. I'd have to be given total control and a good hunk of money to do design work for others, so that pretty much means, I'll never do it. Problem solved.


Monday, May 30, 2016

The Last Homework Assignment, a zine; HOW TO BE A BADASS: A Rebel Grrrls Field Guide to Self-Reliance

[ed note] I copy and pasted this from the word document that I used to create the physical zine. Today as I was in the blog post's editing mode I noticed some kooky formatting that automagically rearranged some content and changed words into nonsense. It seems that a browser extension I've been trying, Grammerly, "fixes" things on it's own.  I hope I have corrected all of it's magical "corrections" and gotten this post back to a place where the order of the words make some sense.



HOW TO BE A BADASS:


A Rebel Grrrl's
Field Guide
To Self-reliance

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Dear Readers;
This zine, HOW TO BE A BAD ASS: A Rebel Grrrls Field Guide To Self-Reliance, was conceived of and written as a final project for the undergraduate Art of Moving Image class, Punk Rock Cinema, at Duke University. I took the class for fun during my final semester of graduate school while completing the Experimental & Documentary Arts, Master of Fine Art program. It is, in brief, a light homework assignment with objectives and expected outcomes which you will probably feel as you read through. I took this class purely and most simply because I am culturally punk rock and I wanted to see what would be presented in the class. I wondered if we would be made accomplices in academicizing punk music and culture, I wondered who had already contributed to the discourse of the punkademics, and I was really curious to learn what made filmmakers or their films punk. Am I a punk filmmaker? (Apparently so, and I’m cool with that.)

In the context of the class we considered many films I hold dear and some stuff I’d only learned of through this coursework, including:
The Yes Men Fix The World (2009)
The Filth and the Fury – Julien Temple (2000)
Punk Rock Home Movie – Greta Snider (1989)
The Decline of Western Civilization – Penelope Spheeris (1981)
Instrument – Jem Cohen (1999)
Zéro de Conduite – Jean Vigo (1933)

Another State of Mind - Adam Small, Peter Stuart (1984)
My Beautiful Laundrette – Stephen Frears (1986)
Removed – Naomi Uman (1999)

Spectres of the Spectrum – Craig Baldwin (1999)
Who Is Bozo Texino – Bill Daniel (2005)
New Wave Theater – Peter Ivers, David Jove (1980-3)
Living Inside (et al.) - Sadie Benning (1989)

The Punk Singer – Sini Anderson (2013)
The Target Shoots First – Chris Wilcha (2000)
The Other F Word – Andrea Nevins (2011)

In a punkier than thou kind of way, I will say that I have seen most of these film as they were released, with a few exceptions of films that were presented as examples of filmmakers who embody some sort of punk cultural ideals, present cultural conflicts related to punk, and or were political sparks that may have ignited punk’s fire.

Readings for this class came out of The Subcultures Reader, edited by Ken Gelder, from which we read early attempts at placing punk culture on some kind of sociological spectrum, peeling back the layers of what makes punk, punk; other readings came out of, Lipstick Traces, by Griel Marcus, peppered together with essays by Mimi Thi Nguyen including, Riot Grrrl, Race, and Revival (2012), and It’s (Not) a White World: Looking for Race in Punk (1998), I read Minor Threats (2015) as well, just because. For funtimes I read Sarah Jaffe’s essay, Difficult Fun (2015), and Maria Elena Buszek’s, Punkademia (2015).

I’m on the fence about talking about punk culture in this particular context, I love that we’re enculturating new kids to the big picture of punk, but I am uncomfortable with placing punk in an academic setting.

WHEN SHE TALKS I HEAR THE REVOLUTION

In this issue:

In my consideration of making a zine, I thought initially it would be a piece of cake. I had an audience of exactly 15 classmates, the TA, and the professor. I knew damn well that most of my classmates would not read the zine, and the couple who would read it were likely to be young women, so I collected my thoughts and ideas specifically addressing young ladies.

This document is not intended to be an all-inclusive process document for being radically self-reliant, but a light scratch at the surface of introducing Do It Yourself cultural practices as they pertain to y’all in the world today. When I did an Internet search for “DIY” the results looked like a Pinterest board of highly stylized craft projects using all new materials. While constructing kits is DIY, I’m more into the idea of making useful stuff out of other stuff you aren’t using for it’s intended purpose anymore, stuff you have lying around your home. I also address fixing and preserving your stuff rather than discarding it and buying second-hand clothes rather than new stuff as a way to have direct participation in knowing where your money goes in the scheme of corporate conglomerations.

In issue #1 I introduce you to Ask Your Aunty, a section in which a bunch of really rad women answer the question, “What do you wish someone had told you about the world when you were younger?” Their answers are empowering and frank. For future issues, I hope that you will write in with questions to Ask Your Aunty, send your inquiries to how.to.be.a.baddass@gmail.com (the extra d is correct).

So what’s my skin in the game? Who am I? What business do I have talking about punk ethos or self-reliance or whatever? I’ve considered myself to be punk since I was about 12 or so, that seems to be about the right age for self-awareness and independence building; both of my parents are super outdoorsy, and exceptionally skilled at their chosen crafts, both of them insisted that I be a functional problem solver, one of them instilled in me a disdain for corporate greed and insisted that I be self-employed, together they made sure I knew how to make, fix and reuse all of my own stuff. As a grown ass woman I started going to Burning Man, the fine people there codified something called the 10 Principles, which really resonated with how I move through the world. I’m not going to repeat them here, but I will invite you to look them up and consider them for yourself. I would never claim to be an expert on anything, that’s just not how I choose to label myself, and I’m uncomfortable when others call me an expert, I do however have a really interesting and diverse array of life experiences that I think make me a pretty interesting and well-rounded person.

I want to empower readers to try stuff, fail at stuff, work at stuff, and practice doing whatever it is that turns your crank. Burning Man Founder, and mentor, Crimson Rose has this to say, “Anyway someone can be empowered by what they’re doing is so incredibly important, and actually helps the world become a better place. “

So let us poke at this squirmy thing and see what happens.

Q

WHAT IS A BADASS?

IMNSHO I think being a badass is no so much about a look, though it can be, but about what you do. Someone who dares to be authentic, whatever that means to them. It can be looking, however, the hell you want to present, whether you’re khaki tan socks Plain J, or into leather pants, whatever. Someone who dares to really say what they mean and conducts themselves as they see fit. That’s all bound to be pretty fucking badass.

It’s knowing the rules so you know how to break them and is then acting with intention.

A badass likes what they like and can defend their likes with reasoned intelligence, without being an asshole. A badass can love some fluffy candy pop as well as that one Rush album, and be deft at whiskey tunes and know that Bey is the shit and maybe even doesn’t really like Tribe 8 and that’s ok. A badass is not afraid to sing out of tune.

Badasses speak up. If something ain’t right a badass says so. If something is great, a badass says so.

It’s not giving any fucks.
And giving fucks where fucks are needed.

A badass takes on challenges head on, figuring out the messy bits with agility and is cool with making mistakes along the way. Courage is badass.

A badass shares what they know. They have compelling, practiced and successful skill sets and are willing to teach others.

DIY Reusable Shopping BagMade with an old t-shirt


Do you live in a community that still uses plastic shopping bags, some have argued that the plastic bags already exist so why not use them? Meh. Lame.  Let's work together towards reusable when and where we can. Don’t have or don’t want to spend the cash on reusable bags? Making reusable bags out of old t-shirts is super easy. The more bags you have, the more bags you will reuse and the less plastic you’re using, and the less waste you’re generating. 

Step 1: cut the arms and neck out of an old shirt.
Step 2: Sew the bottom closed.
Step 3: Use awesome new bag. 

If you don’t have a sewing machine to bang out that straight stitch along the bottom of the shirt, you can easily sew by hand using a running stitch, an overcast whip stitch or blanket stitch to close up and reinforce the bottom of the shirt. 




DO IT YOUR (badass) SELF!

DIY, yeah, Do It Your Self! Radical Self-Reliance. It’s a nice idea, but what does it really mean, and how far can you really take it without becoming a “prepper” what’re are the differences between the radical punk ethos of doing it yourself and being one of those weirdo survivalists living in the hills chopping wood and carrying water?

Back when I was a kid being a punk was living way outside of social norms, there were no stores to get all your cute punk rock gear, we couldn’t get our bold hair colors at the supermegagrocerydepartment store. It was hard, and it built a certain character. Now I’m not saying “kids of today” are missing anything more than a little grit in their character for having an easier time pulling their look together. But there really is something to learning how to take care of yourself; your stuff and having the self-satisfaction of being able to make your own gear for whatever adventures you’re looking to embark upon.

So what really is DIY beyond doing it yourself, we know that is it assembling kits, problem-solving your needs in an Iron Chef sort of way? Are the things that DIY so rad in the same family as the “Maker” scene? Is the maker scene something that’s been branded for a certain flavor of nerd? DIY, punk, burner, maker, prepper, radical self-reliance knows no social boundaries.

What the heck do I mean by radical self-reliance?

Can your fix your transportation yourself? Simple basics skills like changing a tire and adjusting finicky mechanical bits will empower you a great deal, and count towards being radically self-reliant. Do you know what that funny sound or smell is and how to fix it?

Can you sew? Sewing is a life skill, from simple mending, buttons, and hems, patches or seam repair to making your own clothes. You can make your own bras and panties, which is totally liberating!

Can you cook? Do you know your way around your kitchen, know the basics of measurements, the chemistry of salt and sugar in your baked goods? Do you know the components of balanced nutrition?

Can you build a fire? You can heat your environment, dry your clothes, and cook for yourself on a small fire.

What’s so fucking punk about that shit? Changing tires and building fires! I don’t need to sew my own bras, I can easily walk into just about any supermegagrocerydepartment store and buy a new one!

Ah, yes. Buy more stuff. DIY empowers you to make new shit out of your old shit, fix the shit you have and, transmorgify merely OK shit into outstandingly rad shit.

Making your own stuff is crazy empowering. Even if what you’re making is a little janky around the edges, you made it. Radical self-reliance, and maybe a little bit of radical self-congratulations are in order.


AGENCY

DIY in all it’s flavors creates agency and social capital, but what the hell does having agency mean?

At it’s most basic it means that someone has the ability to act independently and make their own choices with free will.

I’m pretty sure most of us think we already do that. But do we really?

When we go to the supermegagrocerydepartment store we have choices, often too many, and we’re confronted with deciding which thing you will choose from the selection at hand. That’s not quite “agency” as I mean it here. Although it can empower agency!

If I went to the supermegagrocerydepartment store looking for clothes to make myself presentable to the public, but nothing fits my body, or suits my personal style, but I see things I kind of like—a detail from this, the shape of that, the material of this thing. As I walk around I pieced together something I would like to wear if it existed, designing, scheming, taking an inventory of what I have at home that I can transform. In this scenario, I would go home, find things that I haven’t worn in a while or that I don’t quite like anymore and remake them into something new that fits great and looks amazing. THAT is having some agency.

Taking charge of what you’re wearing is a huge and important step on the path of Radical Self Reliance. To take it a step further, you can teach your friends what you learned while crafting your own agency.

Going home and making what you want to wear is empowering to you and your sense of style, sure thing jellybean, and it also stops your money from entering the hands of huge conglomerates and sweatshop clothing manufacturers. And this is where your agency starts getting, practical, political and punk as fuck. When you take charge of the direction your money flows, you are totally punk. How far you’re willing to take this idea is totally up to you and your comfort levels. Personal sustainability is a challenging commitment, and I think it’s really difficult to go all the way when we do live in municipalities with systems and unavoidable public works facility resources. There’s nothing saying you have to go all the way, but it’s a lot of fun taking charge of your own shit and spending your hard earned mullah on things you want to support, and care about.

Now I’m not saying you need to make your own menstrual pads, but I am asking why not consider it? I’m not saying live a tiny house with a composting toilet, but why not? I’m not saying make all of your own clothes, but why not a couple things to get a feel for it?


“Be aware of any endeavor that requires new clothes.”
---Henry David Theroux


Don’t despair. Repair!!

Learning how to sew takes time and focused attention to learn all of the gazillion little things that make sewing a skilled craft. If you’re into it, start with patterns and projects that teach you as you go, over time, your goals and visions will cause you to learn through practice.

Learning how to sew is one thing, figuring out how to repair your own gear/stuff/clothes/shoes is a radical act of self-reliance!

Preservation is a key component to repairing your stuff. If you take care of your shit in the first place it lasts longer. Shoe polish isn’t just for making your shoes shiny, it preserves the leather making the material more pliable, prevents cracks and prolongs the life of your shoes and boots.

Sometimes repair doesn’t even involve sewing, it could be as simple as gluing or ironing; a little time, goop and patience will give you more time with an old favorite.

What’s worth repairing?

Boots, always boots. You may not be able to fix a busted zipper, or resole otherwise good boots, but a cobbler can for the price of a pair of sweatshop boots that’ll wear through quickly. Take your broken(in) boots for a good fixing and you can keep them going for many, many years. I swear on all of their graves, my dad maintained and wore some shoes that were passed down through four generations of his family, (I'd like to believe that my brother has them now).

Pants. Boots, pants, boots, pants… pants wear out in really typical places, especially denim. Denim is a twill weave and, by design is woven to be economical, the warp and weft have an under 1 over 2, under 1 over 3, weave pattern, and the yarn it’s made of is weaksauce, this is why our favorite jeans mold to fit our bodies and wear out in friction zones like wallet/key pockets, knees, and inner thighs. It’s is a bummer when your favorite jeans practically disintegrate off your body.

A crust punk might oil his jeans with mink oil to preserve the fiber of the weave, some will use a waterproofing treatment like Nikwax to preserve the life of denim, some just let their pants get naturally greasy from work and dirt (crust). Still others forego denim all together, choosing canvas duck (like Carhartt's, Ben Davies, and Dickies), or wool pants, all of which wear long and are worth repairing. Jeans are cheap, and easily found second hand, (another way to keep mullah out of the hands of corporations). From Sunday pop-up street markets, bulk second-hand shops and junk stores to vintage boutiques, reusing old clothes to craft a personal style outside of fashion trends is a form of radical self-expression. In The Role of The Ragmarket, Angela McRobbie discusses the economy of tastemakers of the teeming underworld of secondhand fashion.

I’mma not gonna tell you how to dress. What I’m getting at is making, preserving, repairing, and thrift shopping clothes is a component of making the world you want to live in.

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

In an interview with NPR’s All Songs Considered (October 23, 2015), Neko Case stated:

“There was a certain point in the 80’s and 90’s where punk rock, which I was really into, just became really super crappy, dogmatic, recycled political slogans, and there were no women anywhere. After a while, when you don’t see yourself you either start your own band and make yourself, or you just start looking for women somewhere, like where are they singing, they gotta be singing somewhere? I like singin’. . . . I loved the Plasmatics, I loved X but there was a serious woman drought in the kind of scene I was trying to be in and it was a drag.”   

Yeah, it’s kind of a drag when The Media neglected to show the women who were in on the punk scene, or showed women as hyper-sexualized or mute. In, The Decline of Western Civilization I, (1982), Penelope Spheeris showed women fronting bands, playing instruments and in the interviews, showed young women in a funky liminal place between being kids and full grown women. This is important because of punk’s attractions to budding teenagers anxious to find their own identity, try on different drags, challenge their parent's ideas, question the world and pushing back on current affairs. When young people see themselves in their idols, they can build a stronger sense of self with confidence that there is a place for them in the world.

Punk is a great place to try on your personal identity for the first time, and I think this is what the filmmaker was getting at in the film and the title, the world is in the hands of these kids and we’re fucked. In The Decline of Western Civilization I, Penelope Spheeris shows us the 'what' of early punk in the US, in The Decline of Western Civilization III, she examines crust punk in the late 90’s and digs into 'why' punk, delivering a message, while dire, of a welcoming community of hopeless people who’ve found a home with each other in the catchall that is punk.

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
                                                –Ramez Naam

Mez is a cyberpunk of the first degree. Mez has been a lot of things to a lot of people, a guru, cult leader, wedding affiant, a Burner, transhumanist, an immigrant, and sci-fi author. We’ve sat on couches during house parties peeling back the layers of our favorite cyberpunk stories. Mez is a smart guy who I respect a lot. He said this completely amazing, simple sentence recently at the 10th annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference in San Francisco (2016). 

 “The meaning of a thing is the change it causes in the world”
      –Ramez Naam


If Riot Grrrl was born out of a race riot, the meaning of a thing is the change it causes in the world.

In The Punk Singer, Kathleen Hanna recounts that Kathy Ackermann told her to start a band, she started a band. The meaning of a thing is the change it causes in the world. If Bikini Kill was born out of violence, the meaning of a thing is the change it causes in the world.

When Neko Case said, “After a while, when you don’t see yourself you either start your own band and make yourself, or you just start looking for women somewhere…” I remember saying to the radio, “Damn right sister.”

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” This short sweet sentence is a fresh call to action that resonates with myriad folks, punks, burners, makers, politicos, the young awaiting an invitation to step up. Mez's statements command us to look at ourselves as agents of change. We can no longer wait for others to start something we can support; we have to be the ones to start. We have to do it ourselves. We have to be radically self-reliant, we have to be radically inclusive, we have to participate. We have to.

In Riot Grrrl, Race, and Revival, M. T. Nguyen pulls a bunch of social capital into a pile, sorts through it turning over every best intention and calls out the inequity of every detail of the Riot Grrrl punk bedroom zine and online forum culture. M. T. Nguyen challenges us as readers to examine our thinking so that we may go forth and be the ones we have been waiting for.

M. T. Nguyen talks about what she calls 'whitestraightboy p-rock' in, It’s (Not) a White World: Looking for Race in Punk, (Nov/Dec 1998, republished Mar 2010), calling to task the “common culture” of punk in which she discusses erasure of her identifiers, “If I keep my mouth shut and don’t make “an issue” I’m told that I’ll get along fine—and never mind the psychic erasures I might have to endure.”

Nguyen is a fucking bad ass. I wish she were writing A Rebel Grrrls Field Guide to Self-Reliance. In, Looking for Race in Punk, she calls attention to how, in the punk scene she came up within, otherism was skirted by “colorblindness”, she brings to the table the wide strokes of erasure of history that happens when we whitewash cultural markers people bring to the party with them.

Ask Your Aunties

As a kick off in our first issue, HOW TO BE A BADASS editor, Q, asked a bunch of bad ass women one simple question,
“What do you wish someone/anyone, (but especially another woman), had communicated to you about the world when you were a young woman? Would you have listened?” 

If you have questions for your Badass Aunties, send them to: how.to.be.a.baddass at gmail dot com (the extra D is intentional).

The badass ladies Q inquired with are farmers, framers, welders, coders, mechanics, seamstresses and designers, administrative wizards, musicians, artists, theater geeks, nurses, scientists, adventurers, bakers, filmmakers, photographers, world travelers; women of the world, from all walks of life, economic backgrounds and education, these women are bonded together by some common experiences of being grown ass women. Here’s what they had to say:

“The guy who is “everything” is actually a loser who will drag you down.” –M

“You are NEVER going to feel like a real adult and it’s OK to just do the best you can.” –L

“You really can do stuff. Fixing your car/washer/etc? Watch a youtube video.” –R

“NO SHAME! Don’t let others shame you. Be you, but not an asshole.” –A

“Never say you’re fine when you’re not. Speak up about things that bother you the first time rather than waiting.” –A

“Go to college early.” –E

“Other Women are not vapid broads or backstabbing cunts, and men are just as drama prone.” –R

“Don’t worry about being “sexy,” what is or isn’t as it applied to yourself. How many other ways can you describe yourself?” –K

“You won’t find who you are until your late 30’s.” –M (that’s the stone cold truth.)

“Every year reflect on what scares you the most and then spend the next year conquering that fear.” –A

“Cultivate good, loving, female friendships.” –R

“There are as many ways to live as there are humans alive. As long as no one is getting hurt the way other people live is none of your business.” –A

“GO ALONE” –K

“DIY, like really do it yourself.” –a

“You won’t like everyone, and you won’t get along with everyone. That’s OK. Just let it go.” –A

“Sing out loud. Make noise. Learn an instrument. “ –a

“Keep learning.” –A

“Don’t settle for shit boyfriends because you think you can’t do better.” –E (because you deserve better)

“Cultivate friendships with people of every age, gender, orientation, class, skin tone, religion or nationality.” –A

“Don’t care, like seriously give no fucks to what people think of you.” –K

“Where sunscreen and moisturize. You cannot reverse aging and you cannot change your genes, but you can practice self-care and postpone the inevitable.” –A

“Explore! There is so much more that what you are filling your bubble with. Explore and see more and let go.” –C

“Stop apologizing.” –P (Q’s actual aunty)

Queen of the Neighborhood

One of the very best things about DIY culture, and therefore in extension, punk, burner, maker culture, is that we have the freedom and luxury to make mistakes, we have the room to fail with aplomb.

Your work doesn’t have to be perfect. Perfect is for machines, you’re not a machine, machines are tools used to achieve work well done. There is absolutely no reason, ever, to make work devoid of fingerprints or brushstrokes.

Do it the hard way. Do the work to make it beautiful, even if there is a short-cut to getting the work done more efficiently if it compromises the aesthetic it’s not worth the loss.

Fail to succeed. Flunk out if you have to, your entire career is not hinged on passing a class. Learn your strengths from your failures.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Make. Make. Make. Short. Long. Coherent. Incoherent. Contextual. Conceptual. Practice.

If you build it they will come. You don’t have to work for someone else for validation. You don’t need permission or an invitation to make work, make work you believe in because you believe in it.

THAT GIRL SHE HOLDS HER HEAD UP SO HIGH

You know what badasses do? All of them, you, challenge authority. Buck the status quo. Walk through the world with confidence that you’re a motherfuckin boss. A “boss” could be the one who runs the place or it could mean “boss” in the video game sense, an extra super powerful character, bosses are very hard or impossible to defeat without knowing the correct fighting approach. Bosses take strategy and special knowledge to defeat.

I want you to try something right now. Go to Youtube, type into the search bar, “how to use”, and select the first autofill. Is the first hit by a man? Try the same thing with “repair” or, “unboxing”. Men. Yeah? Do me a small favor and look up how to make a duct tape wallet. Notice that almost all of these videos are made by actual boys. What’s up with that? Where are the women fixing, unboxing or reviewing stuff? What does these tell us about a voice of authority? Where the ladies at?

I think I know one answer, online harassment. I’ve been there, and I hated it. We know through The Media the challenges Anita Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency have experienced. Online harassment of women is violent and horrible, and sadly nothing new, and unfortunately slow to change. Does this mean we’re going to stand for it? Should we allow ourselves to be silenced and erased by men? Please say no. NO. Have a look at Feminist Frequency’s video series, Ordinary Women: Daring to Defy History, for some empowering inspiration on getting on with your badass self.

Women, young women and old have voices that are defying authority and the establishment by being present and reinforcing their positions and knowledge. The more we push back on men silencing us, the louder and more persistent we are, the more we show up and outperform the haters, the more progress we make in demonstrating we will not tolerate erasure. We don’t have to adopt the language and cadence of the menfolk to be badass. The most badass woman I know, Lidia Yuknavitch, makes use of her womanvoice to tell her stories, and coax bravery and creativity out of others with her teaching. Hell my own mom, a mountaineer, and pilot defied every stereotype to prove that she belonged in the company of other adventurers. My mom is a tremendous, take no shit badass.

Be the expert, take no shit, defend your point of view, and be curious enough to question, research and challenge what you suspect is bullshit.



IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO START[1]

At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.

At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.

At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer. 

At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.

At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.

At age 28, Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips) was a fry cook.

At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.

At age 30, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker.

At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.

Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39 and got her own cooking show at age 51.

Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.

Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 40.

Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career and landed his first movie role at age 42.

Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first major movie role until he was 46. 

Morgan Freeman landed his first major movie role at age 52.

Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for Best Director when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.

Grandma Moses didn’t begin her painting career until age 76.

Louise Bourgeois didn’t become a famous artist until she was 78.

Whatever your dream is, it is not too late to achieve it. You aren’t a failure because you haven’t found fame and fortune by the age of 21. Hell, it’s okay if you don’t even know what your dream is yet. Even if you’re flipping burgers, waiting tables or answering phones today, you never know where you’ll end up tomorrow.

Never tell yourself you’re too old to make it. 
Never tell yourself you missed your chance. 
Never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough. 
You can do it.
Whatever it is.

SOUL SISTER, REBEL GIRL

Readin’s awesome. Here’s a list of ladyauthors you may or may not have read already, maybe they have something new to pick up. A fun and interesting challenge is to spend a year, one year reading only books written by women. This, for me, falls into a “challenge authority” category of action. I want women as my mentors. I want women to influence my thinking, someone who has had vaguely similar lived experiences as I have, even if our only commonality is that we are women. I want the money I spend on my books, (I love books), to make it down the pipe to women. I want the bestseller lists to look like a who’s who of baddass women. This is not to say I don’t enjoy the authorship and artistry of men's writing, I do, but it is not a challenge to find men on the shelves of my local bookstores. The following is a list of awesome ladyauthors was contributed to by, Your Aunties. May you find some enrichment with this selection of reading.


Patti Smith
Linda Barry
Lidia Yuknavitch
Monica Drake
Sara Jaffe 
Sarah Sentilles
Anne Carson
Toni Morrison
Amanda Fucking Palmer
Margaret Attwood
Maya Angelou
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Roxane Gay
Zadie Smith
Annie Proulx
Alice Walker
Amy Tan
Cheryl Strayed
Elizabeth Gilbert
Jeanette Winterson
Ursula K LeGuin
Sharon Kaye Penman 
M.M. Kaye
Hilary Mantel

AM Homes
Mary Gaitskill
Suzanne Collins
JK Rowling
Francesca Lia Block
Donna Tartt
Sarah Vowell
Dorothy Allison
bell hooks
Sonia Sanchez
Diane Ackerman
Tara Brach
Pema Chodron
Zora Neale Hurston
Louisa May Alcott
Ana Deveare Smith
Keri Hulme
Tamora Pierce
Melissa Broder
Carrie Brownstein
Michelle Tea
Flannery O'Connor
Pat Cadigan
Nicola Griffin


DOUBLE KITTEN DARE

Part of what makes folks badass, and independent, and self-reliant is running head on, hell-bent, crazy-flailing at things that scare the crap out of them. There’s base jumping scary, and there is singing karaoke for the first time scary, they are vastly different in the actual activity, but they do similar things to our brains, in that taking on our challenges, achieving scary shit alters the pathways in our brains and scary shit becomes fun shit, and then we’re fucking badass. I’m armchair psychologizing immersion therapy, for sure, but there’s truth in the scientific proof of how exposure therapy works. This zine is not the place to unpack that, but it is a place to offer up a few ideas on challenging yourself. Start small and cheap.

Read something on a stage, or sing karaoke.  Oh. My. Cookies.  Hit an open mic with some writing, that shit’s scary!

Go on a long ass journey alone.  Through hike a long trail, bike tour, road trip, sailing adventure, horse camping, whatever, go into the world alone.

Take short adventures alone. Take yourself on a date, go to a movie, dinner, drinks, roller skating, anything you can do around town without the intention of meeting up with a friend.

Reduce your waste.  Carry reusable shopping bags, refillable drink cups, and water bottles.  This doesn’t sound super radical, or scary but it really is challenging to commit to reducing the single use consumables we encounter on a day to day basis. 

Memorize poetry.  I don’t know how people do it. I know songs, some songs come to me like breathing, but I couldn’t recite their lyrics when I’ve tried. Committing Dickinson # whatever to memory would be an amazing accomplishment for me.




I may produce another issue of How To Be A Badass, I may not, please don't hold me to it. It was fun to do as an assignment, but I'm not certain that this line of authority is how I want to proceed. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dear Leftcoast;

Dear Leftcoast and the West,
Lets try to find a way to bring us back home. I'm graduating this weekend, and I'm free to return to full time meaningful creative work.Tony has another year of school here in NC, and we'd like to use this opportunity for me to be nimble and lightfooted. I can skedaddle without cats or household and couch surf for a minute, room up with friends to save money so we can make the big move next year. You know the old me and all that I was capable of, and now I'm packing some academispeak and highfalutin arty farty ideas about storytelling. And you know what, Leftcoast, I'm still super willing to get dirty, heard cats, and sweep the dojo for meaningful projects. We thought about the East coast for a bit, but the call of the wild and loving-family is too strong. I've never stopped being homesick for familiar stomping grounds and beloved faces. I won't head out with out prospects, I'm not young and dumb anymore. If you hear of something, anything, or think, "You know, Q, damnit, she'd be perfect for this!" Please let me know. If I've been gone too long and you can't remember what all I do, I have a painfully long CV over on qathihart.com in the about page, I promise I don't send that thing out, I have a short version if anybody needs to see it.
So Leftcoast, it's been way too long pal, way too long. I can think of places and people and projects that would be amazing to sink into with you. Lure us back, please.
Now the West, you're something else, you house family and friends, I'm keeping it light enough to travel, to try new places if something comes up. We're down with checking out NV, AZ, NM, CO, maybe UT, not sure about ID, definitely not WY though, sorry buddy, I've seen enough red flags to trust this call.
Please call, lets talk soon.
All the best,
yours, sincerely
Q

Saturday, May 7, 2016

21 Days Under the Sky

There's a fine line between silly hipster bullshit with beautiful aesthetics, and a real nice buddy, roadtrip, motorcycle movie with good writing and a macho smoke and whisky voice over. A very fine line indeed. 21 Days Under the Sky, has all the trappings of my favorite documentary films, the surf, skate, and motorcycle buddy roadtrip movie, except that it's new, and pretty, and will make you go, "Pfft I can do that, fuck I have done that, all that! Pussies! Lemme at em! Suckers." In a back-slapping congratulatory kind of way, in the language of snarky in-speak of really good friends. Greasy, bearded dudes ride across the country on bone shattering old choppers, from San Francisco to Brooklyn along the Lincoln Highway, the first trans-continental across the US. Between the vast sweeping landscapes there are breakdowns, whiskey, legends, and rainbows, you know how it goes.
Beautifully shot and exquisitely edited together with archival footage, and masterfully written by ladyperson Kate O'Connor Morris, this is a pretty great film
It's on netflix and amazon prime. The trailer doesn't do it any justice.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Honest question: How do my Seattle friends, (who are not in tech) afford to stay there?

I can't get my head around how we could ever possibly go home with the current rental market to potential wages thing that's happening at present.

I talk, probably tediously, about where we'll move from here, because we are not staying in North Carolina thank you very much. I pipe-dream moving someplace new, then I worry about gentrification, because I'm conscientious. Then we talk about places that would be amazing, where we wouldn't be part of a larger problem, and they're all ridiculously expensive, with (2) student loans it's unrealistic to think we could afford living in a "large city with growth potential", or realistically even a mid-size city. It freaks me the fuck out to have to face the reality that we may not be able to afford returning to my home territory, (which is pretty large actually, stretching between WA-MT, OR-NV-CO and NorCal).

When I think about "home" I get misty, sometimes blubbery TBH. I truly identify as a natural born NWerner, I'm connected to our cultural identity and I get simultaneously excited and bummed out when I see opportunities for PNW artists... that I don't qualify for. The day my WA id expired I fell apart, it was like a part of my identity atrophied, turned black and fell off.