Thursday, January 21, 2010

it feels good to say what I want, it feels good to knock things down...

There's a part of me that's still a little nervous about using Craigslist, but I had the companionship of the roommate with me when I drove out to Cleveland Heights last night to pick up a rack of about 70 Prismacolor markers and over 30 cans of spray paint.

I know this combined with my love of graffiti sounds like a recipe for creative vandalism but I promise it will stay legit.

I've started buying old paintings at thrift stores because it's cheaper than buying new canvases from Pat Catan's and I don't have the power tools to make my own. I used to build them back in my art student days, wondering how the art department trusted 19-year-old girls with table saws and nail guns. The paintings sometimes have big funky old frames and they're much more hangable than the recycled illustration board I've been messing around with.

The back room at the apartment has become my retreat in the dark days of winter. Jars and old canisters full of brushes, chipped dishes for mixing paint, a drawer full of ephemera accumulated since I was in high school, the boombox and books of patterns and inspirations from the library, those tall red votive candles in the glass jars with the Virgin of Guadalupe on them that I like for no reason that makes sense.

I've been thinking about a lot of things and it's easier sometimes for me to write and paint on the same surface, lines and colors saying what I can't express, creating beauty out of the chaos and frustration with the world as it is.

Monday, January 18, 2010

the gray area

I was going to do the free museums and history thing today but everyone seemed to be working so I've decided to try and restore order to the vortex that is my bedroom closet, dig through some of my old CDs that I don't listen to much anymore, and think through a lot of things.

I went up to Tri-C for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and concert to watch my roommate play in the philharmonic. They did Duke Ellington and of course it was wonderful. They had an awards ceremony for some scholarship winners and an Indian dance troupe did a performance about the power of nonviolence, MLK, and Gandhi.

I guess when you're deceased, you have no real control about the interpretation of your words, but I found myself analyzing the way that each person that spoke or each thing I heard on the radio imposed their own belief and interpretation upon Dr. King's words.

The dance troupe framed it in terms of Hinduism, the African People's Party guy on the radio made everything all about Africa the continent and how this was about including all religions as the same truth, even though we just heard King quoting Scripture and talking about, well, Jesus. The more conservative people talk about how he wouldn't have liked things like affirmative action and at this point I'm just going to borrow my roommate's copy of his writings and just read the words for myself because that's the only way you really know what's going and then I guess I can frame it in terms of my experience as a suburban white girl and inevitably join the crowd of those who co-opt others' words for their own means.

And not that anyone wants to be a downer, but considering that we're talking about civil rights and a continued striving for equality, it's hard for me to listen to this talk about the great education you get in the Cleveland schools when only a third of the students graduate, when I've driven past blocks and blocks of projects to get there, and I see how much everyone around me is struggling, and how much I took for granted in the sense that I've had so much handed to me all my life even if my background isn't all high class.

I've taken it for granted that my neighborhood was relatively safe, that my dad made a living wage, that the schools I went to were adequate, and even though I wouldn't've been able to afford to go to college if it wasn't for some darn good ACT scores and good grades and a year of Tri-C in high school, I had that opportunity. I complain a lot but I really have nothing to complain about.

I know things are better than they were. I'm thankful that I grew up in a family that didn't judge people by external factors but by what their character was made of. I'm thankful that I'm surrounded by amazing people from all walks of life, and that those I love took the time to get to know me instead of writing me off.

But I still hear things and see things that depress the hell out of me. I still see so much division and distrust and misunderstanding, some of it willful and some of it not...

I guess I don't have any real answers for this. Sometimes the fallout of the past seems to leave lingering effects on the present. Faulkner's quote "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past" has been lingering with me and I wish I felt a little more hopeful than I do...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

playlist 1/12/10

malatu astatke -
astrud gilberto - the gentle rain
soul coughing - is chicago, is not chicago
manu chao - por el suelo
nightmares on wax - flip ya lid
sade - soldier of love
nneka - untainted love/warrior
mos def - habitat
daara j - si la vie n'est pas belle
black star - respiration (pete rock remix0
blakroc - why can't I forget him
massive attack - pray for rain
dan the automator - bombay 405 miles
niyaz - hejran
bole 2 harlem - quralew
lamb - God bless
thievery corporation - la femme parallel
teba - gatyeni
fool's gold - surprise hotel
titi - music
mariam makeba - to those we love
gizelle smith - coffee high
joni haastrup - greetings
mona baptiste - calypso blues
nina simone - love me or leave me

Monday, January 11, 2010


I'm finally not sounding raspy. I was texting so people didn't have to hear me talk. Still insisted on going and hanging out, partaking in Ethiopian Christmas feasting Saturday and eating raw meat there for the first time. Evidently it hasn't killed me so that's a good thing.

Got my other electric guitar back from Paul, who resurrected it from being unplayable (neck was messed up, bad action, all the electrical components broken) to something that sounds really good, then caught the last half of the Horizon/St. Martin de Porres game with the usual suspects and of course going out to eat and staying out late.

I was antisocial Friday night, music in the other room was so beautiful but my relational abilities were shot and I retreated to the back room that's become my creative space once more.

It's been working well for my creative side because I've had a streak of evenings when the colors mix perfectly and I feel inspired, wondering how that shade of blue got to be so beautiful or why everything seems to be working together so well. I was stressing out about some unresolved things last night when my roommate came home and I started working on another piece that's been sitting around for awhile and finally got that where it needed to be, where it just needs a dash of silver spraypaint to send it into awesomeness.

This weather always gets me going creatively because I crave warm colors when I don't see the sun, I don't want to go outside, and it's so easy to get into art-making mode when it's dark and cold out, there's an endless supply of green tea, the stereo is on, the candles are lit, and I'm totally comfy in torn jeans, a black hoodie that's losing its color and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt.

I'm hoping I can keep this streak up. I'm going out tonight after work to the thrift stores to buy crappy old paintings with huge funky frames to turn into projects to decorate the apartment with.

Monday, January 4, 2010

best of the blotter: holiday edition

TAKING OR GIVING?: A W. Smith Road man contacted police around 2:43 p.m. on Christmas Day, wanting to bring charges against his girlfriend’s son. Allegedly, while the couple was out, the boy opened his Christmas presents without permission.

Police told the man that the incident was not a theft because they were the boy’s presents.

THEFT, LAKESIDE DRIVE: A snuggie was taken from an unlocked vehicle during the night between Dec. 30 and Christmas Eve. Two other cars were broken into on Dorchester Drive during the same night, though nothing was taken in those incidents.

VANDALISM, BRUNSWICK DRIVE: Someone thought a vehicle would look better if it were covered in sparkly paint. There was no damage to the vehicle after the paint was scraped away.


Like I said, I had no New Year's plans this years, no parties, no clubs, no shows, nothing.

Ended up calling up Lindsay for what turned out to be a trip to Akron for fireworks and festivities, picked up Kent & Muk and went to IHOP at 2am, ended up crashing on the east side after staying up til 6am, watched some Twilight Zone, went to the Rockefeller Greenhouse with Muk and came home with grapefruit-sized lemons, hung out with the family, said goodbye to the family dog, who also died this weekend.

And now I'm at home with a sore throat and a fever drinking tea and eating oranges. thankful that the house is mine again... so relieved.