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[The Listserve] “You Will Hang” and Other Things you don’t want to hear on a Saturday Afternoon

(Brief note- I have received over 150 350 responses already (within 36 hours) from people around the world so far in support of my short piece and it’s message and I am floored. I will write more after the NATO/G8 events- I am far too emotional right now to do so. Thank you all you lovely people <3 )

[The Listserve] “You Will Hang” and Other Things you don’t want to hear on a Saturday Afternoon

In 1987, I was at a civil rights march in Cumming, GA (Brotherhood March II). I was grabbed by a coordinator towards the end- I was told to flank the woman next to me who was with a child in a stroller; there were people on the ridge next to us throwing rocks and bottles and screaming obscenities. As I tried to turn my body into a shield I directly faced these people screaming the most hateful and violent words I have ever heard uttered. I thought I had understood racism and prejudice. I understood nothing.

I was becoming enraged. I wanted to fight back. As I began looking for a rock or anything, a chant was growing in the stream of marchers; I expected a confrontation until I heard what they were chanting. To fight the shouts of “Nigger Lovers” and “You will Hang” was a chant of “We Love You” in return.

I didn’t understand. How can people met with lifelong hatred and discrimination act in return with Love? In the face of people threatening to kill you, they reply with “I Love You”.

I broke inside. I collapsed. The people around me grabbed me, pulled me up and helped me to my feet. I heard the words beside me “It’s okay brother, I have you” and I regained my footing and made it to the end.

There is a picture of me sitting on a curb shortly afterward looking exhausted and dazed. 25 years later I am still exhausted and dazed.

I try to inform everything I do in my life with this experience- the morals I raised my three amazing daughters with, how I still to this day try to make changes in this ever-broken world of ours.

There are so many awful things that humans do to each other. I truly believe they can only be resolved with a genuine love and caring for each other. Unequivocally, everyone should have the same opportunity to equal treatment under law, clean food and water, safe housing, health care and good education. And mutual respect. I have not ever heard a single argument to lead me to believe anything other than this.

This is the underlying theme of the Occupy Movement. It’s about everything really. But most of all, it’s about love and respect for us all.

Email me if you want to read some of my poems.

Much Love and Respect to you all

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Ill Fitted Glass

Ill fitted glass
in frames of disrepair
looking inward
I find the warp and wobble
of old panes soothing

a moonish hazy view
of CDs no longer played
yellow duck boots in the corner
dusty immovable
next to the green couch
my side wearing thinner

I turn in circles
no matter when I stop
all I’ve done
is faced
another direction

but I was already
where I wanted to be

I can’t touch you anymore
can’t see my smile
in the reflection
of your glasses

sometimes
when you laughed

I’d forget to breathe

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Something Broken

Something broken
Isn’t really

Matter is a constant
It does not disappear
It only changes
Into something else

Raspberry jam
Tennis shoes
Waffle Irons
Airplanes
Underwear

Given this reasoning
The haircut you had
When you were nine

Kicking and screaming
Quieted only by first
Threat of extreme violence
And ultimately
Ice cream
May now be part
Of your neighbors Jet Skis

We look at each other
As we talk
Of serious things
Matters of substance
And of consequence

We are broken

Ill-advised kisses become
Failed relationships
Money slips
From check to change
Screams and spittle
Are not apologies

Trust is a commodity
Traded secretly
For comfort
Dubious security
Mostly steady meals
Until its liquidity
Runs dry

Frozen assets
Heated retreat

We cringe
At each others
Transgressions
of sanity
sinful admissions
redeemed with
a knowing smile

Our sadness becomes
Blueberry Cupcakes

We lick the icing
Pick the crumbs
Off each others shirts

Discussing
what we’d like to be
when we
are dead and gone.

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Remembering the day John Lennon was murdered

John Lennon was my first real hero. He was imperfect and messy and at times ridiculous and he understood that and embraced it. He was also brilliant and beautiful and genuine.

I was sitting in my room in Monsey, NY listening to what I believe was a Jets game on the radio when the announcer cut in and said John Lennon had been shot and wounded and rushed to the hospital. I turned my dial to WNEW and spent the next several hours listening to Beatles and Lennon’s music on the radio as the reports got grimmer and finally the worst news of all. I for some reason had the presence of mind to stick a cassette tape and record the news reports and music.?

I think I still have that tape. I brought it to school the next day and one of our teachers, I can’t recall who, had set the day aside to talk about what happened. I think it’s the first time I cried openly in front classmates and friends. I couldn’t stop. I brought the tape with me and had it in class. Someone asked me why the hell would I think to tape such a thing and I replied “Because this is important.” I didn’t really understand how so, but I knew it was. I was also called a faggot for crying. Something that I was already used to for other reasons.

Part of my soul shattered that day and it is a sadness that I have held and will die with. The world went from what was already a scary and unpredictable (Energy Crisis, Iranian Hostages, etc) to being terrifyingly so for me, 15 years old and madly in love with John and the Double Fantasy album. I remember biking down to the record store and buying it as soon as it came out. I still remember the feel of the cellophane as it peeled off the album cover John and Yoko kissing. I wanted my life to be that life– incredibly interesting and prolific and artistic and crazy and doing good things and what I wanted and all the time in love.

That evening Scottso (Scott Muni) played a recording of when John had stopped by the WNEW offices a few years earlier (I believe) and spun some of his favorite music– mostly obscure R &B and Be Bop tunes. It dawned on me that were was so much I didn’t know about Lennon or anyone for that matter. A complexity of life started to reveal itself to me.

I can still touch the exact feelings of horror and incredible sadness when the doctor at St Luke’s Roosevelt pronounced his death. My heart caves in upon itself, I feel the world spinning uncontrollably about me and I find it hard to breathe and see through tears.

The world broke that day. What I’ve learned since is that it never really worked right in the first place.

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Do Not Like

I do not like
when you are angry with me
chastising, scolding, lips flared
hand on your hip
shifting stance side to side

I love it.

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Serious

Everything is serious
god dammit
because if it weren’t
it’d obviously have no meaning

we get tired of crying
and sighing
and saying less
as to not have to say more

we live in worlds of varying sizes
running around screaming naked
and seeing what occasionally fits
is one way to go

why is it so wrong to find love
everywhere

it’s far easier to take what we want
and justify our acts
with long doctrines
and speeches

eventually we may learn
that you don’t have to fuck something
in order to be intimate with it

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Fireflies

miniature anarchists
tear across tiled floor
through gates and attack everything in sight
watching bark chips fly
while traversing slices of sidewalk
protruding, nipping propelling me forward
concrete crumbles chew at my feet
my pack turns from salt to bitter
finally asphalt surrenders to scrubgrass
it crunches between my toes
as if fire hazard is god’s plan
the view broadens away from artifice
I shuck my baggage and lay back against the dirt
time licks the palms of my hands
as fireflies create heavens below the treeline

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Art Gish

Art Gish died today
This beautiful man
of peace and thoughtfulness
of unending patience and bravery.
He practiced his beliefs boldly
and intensely
without ever shouting or belittling.
Coaching young stoners on non-violent protest
Defying Israeli tanks, a canon barrel at his face
he taught to find the good, the humanity in every situation
And that there can be no peace without a conversation.

Art Gish died today
This beautiful man
A man of Love and Peace
When his tractor rolled on him
and caught fire, pinned in the blaze

God is a mean-spirited fucker.

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A Wick, A Wisp (v.2)

do you remember how
you used to just lay there
smiling thinking grinning
I could smell your thoughts
you tasted like
burnt
honey

curled away by a slick breeze
icicles feathering across
a vast chasm

a chance, a night, a cry, a note, a wick, a wisp

a sigh

a deep black

a touch
just
a touch

I close my eyes and jump

and I split open my face

knowing that there was no other ending

you are just laying there

smiling
thinking
grinning
bleeding

with me

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A bunch of Twits or “leave Taxi Driver the fuck alone!”

Integrating Twitter with a screening of “Taxi Driver” What is the point?

This is absolute heresy coming from a social media evangelist, but I still think Twitter is an incredibly lame one-trick pony whose trick is pretty dull. At worst Twitter becomes intrusive and depowering or at best creates a Limited Amnesiac Collective Consciousness.

Let me explain.

I just read on mashable.com that Sony is doing a screening of Taxi Driver tonight and will be integration twits—err- tweets during the event. How could the experience of (arguably) Martin Scorcese’s finest film possibly be enhanced or add value by having a bunch of tweets flying about while watching it? Even if we aren’t talking about a masterpiece like Taxi Driver- let’s replace it with I don’t know, a Pauly Shore Movie “Encino Man”, how does the nattering of everyone you don’t know tossing comments and flames at you enhance the experience rather than wholly detract from it?

Now you might argue that anything that distracts you from “Encino Man” is good thing, but you’re just being snarky.

Twitter has value as trending crowdsourced topics, such as Michael Jackson’s health or even political events- it has value in that I get to learn what is bugging my daughters, what’s bugging Diablo Cody, what’s amusing Adam Savage and a few others I can’t mention on a particular day. It has some value on being able to ping several people or tossing and idea out there to get VERY brief feedback.

But for the most part it distracts from and dilutes whatever anyone is trying to talk about, especially in the moment. Tweeting during a move is akin to having the entire movie theatre nattering at you while you’re trying to enjoy a movie. Even worse (and please my friends and colleagues, please know I love you regardless); when people tweet during a conference while someone is speaking does two things primarily: it’s is taking the tweeters attention away from the speaker and it is drawing the attention away from someone else listening to check their tweets about what other people are saying about what they are currently experiencing. It’s akin to sharing an experience with other vicariously through a tool that helps you experience the event less. And for those of us not currently experiencing the event, we have absolutely no context to what is being tweeted not could we if the tweeter wanted to because—well; 140.

Shared experiences is how society grows and learns and becomes better- through good and bad events. Shared experiences can be fun and enlightening. If 1 million people decide to watch and share the Taxi Driver experience tonight and they all decide to tweet during the event- I can pretty much guarantee that anything intelligent, poignant or epiphianic will be lost in the sea of tweets and/or if you are going to constantly refresh your screen or phone for updated trending topics, you aren’t watching the movie so you’re really not sharing the experience.

And tomorrow, none of it matters, because there is no permanence; no way to review, store and refer back to anything more than a few hours or days old without tremendous effort. And if you have that kind of time, you are either very wealthy with absolutely no life or you are spending an inordinate amount of time chasing a fleeting 140 character or less thought when you probably should be doing something else- like having a beer, finishing that report or actually speaking to the person next to you.

Twitter is fun. It has some limited value. It can create awareness and solve problems. It can allow you to stalk your favorite person(s) or find out about a sale on video cards or where to “tweet up” to get collectively trashed.

But please stop cramming it into every possible use-case no matter how stupid it might be for the sake of being “Twittified”.

And for all things sacred, don’t mess with “Taxi Driver”.

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