Flight Waiting

A girl

Writes in taut letters that run together in long streaming sentences and in great blocks, sprawled judiciously across lined pages, simultaneously self-conscious of her subject — herself — and her surroundings (airport bar) wrapped up in the milieu of new sobriety.

Orders a diet coke.

Sneezes quietly.

I sit across the aisle, eyes blood shot,

glancing sporadically toward the obscene white glow

of a broadcaster’s award-winning dentation,

gnawing in rhythm with melodious Zanex.

Flight waiting.

Girl, the same one, in form-fitting yoga pants, shoulders casually slung in a light blue v-neck sweater, punctuates heavily.

She underlines me in every sentence of her black notebook.

Page 100 gets special treatment.

Islands of words surrounded by black ball-point ink.

A candid gliphial conjurer.

I think,

mine is a reservoir I can’t quite fill.

So she pours words like concrete.

But it won’t quick dry

harden fast enough to form a foundation.

She is saddened by sadness.

Longs to be enrobed by it.

And wear it as a gown.

She flips through the pages and retraces her words, bent over the page, hair loosely dangling above the paper.

Art and Dissent

Permit yourself to imagine.

Once accomplished, travel is unrestricted, borders nonexistent, walls breached.

How?

  • Words
  • Spray paint
  • Lines of code
  • Guitar
  • Microphone
  • Objet trouvé
  • Dance
  • March
  • Screen print
  • Sculpture
  • Décollage
  • Sticker bomb
  • Banner drop
  • Tree-sit
  • Occupy
  • Slingshot
  • Molotov
  • Barricade
  • Arm-lock
  • Film
  • Gas mask
  • Antacid and water
  • Fiction

Dissent is fluid.

And the energy generated as it passes through a medium?

Consider the variables contained in oppression, impunity and greed.

Each element behaves like velocity, temperature and density and movement is inevitable.

Our expectations of art are disrupted—subverted.

Remember the Chilean arpilleras? A people’s history of tragedy, torture and Desaparecidos woven into tapestries by garment workers—Madres, Hermanas y Abuelas—under the brutal Pinochet regime.

Listen to the music of Pete Seeger. The power of protest is embodied in song.
 An iconic image of a working class man with an inscription in black text on his banjo, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.”

Image and text by Barbara Kruger. Appropriate. Borrow. Reconfigure. 
In a haunting piece by the artist we are presented with the cropped décolletage of a woman, her neck and chin exposed and the text: “We will not become what we mean to you.”

Lauren Poitras is an Oscar and Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker and journalist. She produced, “My Country, My Country,” a film that exposed the turmoil caused by the occupation of Iraq by the United States military and the effect it had on both Iraqis and American soldiers. Poitras is consistently harassed by the Department of Homeland Security. 
Detained upon entry each time she returns to the U.S. from traveling abroad.

Journalists, Filmmakers, Artists and 
truth seekers—add them to the no-fly list,
 confiscate their electronics,
 surveil all communications.

Detain them. Intimidate them.
 Harass them to death.
 To “suicide.”

Like digital activist “hacker” Aaron Swartz?

Look at Kevin Carter’s, “Famine.”

The image of a starving Sudanese child on the ground with a hooded vulture standing sentinel in the background, netted the photojournalist a Pulitzer.
 Some time later, Carter drove to a favorite overlook—blue horizon and meditative rushing river drone—taped a hose to the exhaust pipe of his vehicle.

He died of carbon monoxide poisoning at 33.

For those haunted by experience and an excess of empathy, suicide may be a final rebellion.

Recall Thich Quang Duc immolating himself in protest of the Vietnam War?

A burning rage against the machinery of apathy.

In India, a quarter of a million farmers protested seed patents through suicide by ingesting pesticide supplied to them by Monsanto.

But is that Art?

The 2011 arrest on a trumped up tax charge and subsequent, temporary disappearance of Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, had Western supporters mounting a full campaign for his immediate release.

#releaseaiweiwei trended on Twitter.

Soon after, inexplicably, numerous shattered dynastic vases and knock offs adorn the steps of historical Chinese landmarks and consulates in Western cities.

Dissent art is situational and represents the possibility of a crucial narrative, not new but suppressed.

We’ve been locked into a singular system, which serves official culture.

Flummoxed by alternative thinking, critical thought asphyxiates under the touch screen.

The forty-pixel finger navigating through a pop culture shock architecture, finds many connections and little substance.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the feminist punk group, Pussy Riot begins her two-year sentence for her participation in the bands February 2012 protest song and performance at Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

While at Penal Colony 14, Tolokno goes on hunger strike, citing the inhuman conditions and slave labor practices of the colony. She smuggles a letter, which is published later online, detailing her treatment. She is disappeared while in transit to a new prison camp in Siberia.

A single human brain is capable of processing 37 petaflops of data, rounding up, that makes one quadrillion calculations, give or take, per second.
 So, knowing the variables make it—art—difficult to quantify.

Emerging science suggests that within the next 18 months there will be a network of supercomputers capable of five times that amount of processing.

Art must penetrate this confounding and subvert the official narrative.

Open the between space.

Alyce Santoro articulated the role of Art recently in her “Manifesto for the Obvious International.” She writes: “Drawing on art’s infinite possibilities, system-defying agents are re-humanizing, de-commodifying, and debunking all manner of contrived contraries by creating barter systems, cooperative workspaces, soup kitchens, food forests, and street libraries. In societies based on an ever-intensifying quest not for peace, health, or contentment, but for “progress” (broadly defined as the drive toward maximization of personal convenience, or what social ecologist Murray Bookchin called “the fetishization of needs”)—strategies for existence that are participatory, inclusive and nonhierarchical, and that encourage the sharing of skills, ideas and resources (the maximization of meaning), are eminently subversive.”

Caveat emptor.

Temptations are everywhere.

We accept these little concessions without reading the service agreement and relinquish control for convenience—security for a sense of belonging.

In his latest collection of “quasi-essays and docufictions,“Revolutionary Brain” writer and critic Harold Jaffe offers, “Possibly the hardest factor for concerned younger artists to accept is that there will always be an incommensurateness between their imaginative efforts and results. The primary obligation is to not avert your eyes: to bear witness.”

Writers, artists and activists must refute official narratives.

The artist/revolutionary creates new methods of engagement, informing the discourse with immediacy.

Artists are in a unique position to engage directly with the established value system, call it into question and mobilize against it.

If a distinction between commercial and activist art no longer exists, the medium(s) an artist uses no longer need be relegated to a single surface or conversation.

Subversion happens while viewing.

Walls disintegrate and become canvas.

The canvas extends beyond the inner city, barrio, border to the wild.

Courage of the imagining mind.

Everett Collection Library of Congress March 2010

RIP Wuornos, Serial Killer

Wournos, Aileen

Final Interview

October 8, 2002

Florida State Prison, Bradford County, Florida

I was benighted amidst the yellow birch, conifer and sugar maple in the forests of the Midwest.

There I ran with the squirrels. In my child’s voice the song of the Scarlet Tanager echoed, harbinger of spring, my bared toes massaged the loam under hemlock and black oak.

The sky was wide. It offered a seamless verticality.

When the sun hung above the horizon, I felt, in my child’s body, a tensing of muscles, as if I was lifting something heavy.

Dirt and asphalt cut black scars through the hills.

For me, life was a matter of straying from the shoulder of roads.

Soon the forest gave way to concrete and the broken skyline of cities.

There I met the gritted teeth of the world.

There is a dream memory of me, floating above my child’s body.

It haunts me at night when the alcohol wears off.

I am motionless and lying on black, star print sheets, staring through the popcorn ceiling, peering at a life lived rogue, and a future I can’t imagine.

No, can’t hardly think of me an old woman. Ain’t no getting old.

I heard the nauseating sound of a chord struck, like strings out of tune on an old Dobro guitar.

In the dream memory I can make out his hairline, blocking out the dim sixty-watt hanging from the fixture, his thumbs pressing into my wrists, smell of his stale cigarette and Schlitz breath and see that stars of Dixie tattooed on his neck—my mother’s father—and a bright white light erupted from above.

Not until I heard my grandfather was dead, did the pieces fall together.

And your Father?

[Father was a pedo. Hung hisself in the Pen.]

The grace of Jesus. That’s what I thought it was then, that’s what I call it now, waiting here to die.

The light was a signal and a map.

Codified in pain, I was tasked—me—with removing from the world eight demonic entities.

This was a quest I couldn’t comprehend nor deny.

If you asked me, I would tell you, in my own street talk way, that I shifted from child to woman.

Like a manual shift transmission.

Fast and smooth like that Camaro I boosted with Tracy when we was on the lam from that fucking piece of S.H.I.T. Jasper.

Pressed, I would foreswear my childhood.

That the shift never occurred—was imperceptible—and that I was born an angel, with womanly parts and disposition.

You had a child at fourteen you gave up for adoption?

Ain’t gonna talk about that, okay?

No prob.

Here, this is where we enter the world of the transaction.

Somewhere, inside me, a vacuum.

They said I was too immature to grasp the finality of death.

Prosecutor was a condescending prick. ‘Scuse me for sayin’ so.

But my awareness stemmed not from a lack of maturity but a diamond honed sense of survival.

To avoid pain and embrace the reptilian.

Escaping pain became centrifugal.

A damaged and primitive child, I slipped through the teeth of the world and bared my own.

When I was at County I met an Indian lady, looked me in the eye and told me I was a container.

F-ing Tupperware, I says to her?

No, she told me that I contained everything; anguish, loneliness, sadness, anger and love poured into the hollow point between my sternum and above my pubic bone.

Trippy right?

Please continue.

 

Learning eventually that the foundation would always shift but the center wouldn’t never change, you know?

I rode the road.

Offered myself.

And the in between plushness of death, extended to the men I encountered.

Under cypress and the smell of wet soil, diesel and aftershave, I absorbed them into mine.

Gave my tender love to Boys who later died under the oily umbrella of a Kuwaiti sky.

In the low-lying hitchhiker’s thumb of the continent, skirting gators in the glades, lessons in the secrets of the transaction were practiced.

Meanwhile, I looked for the signs and signals of the eight.

See, violence in America is idiosyncratic.

I was further enlightened with a pistol in my rectum.

Back of some bastard’s Buick Le Sabre.

Hell fire of rubbing alcohol to wash away the evidence, his sin.

He was my first and when the hammer hit the firing pin, I shot true, relieving the world of the first of eight demons.

This was in?

Must have been ’round Thanksgiving, ’89.

Then it was the principle. The deputy. The businessman. The pastor.

You got any cigarettes?

 

Sure. Here.

 

Thanks [shrugs and motions towards her restraints].

 

[Exhaling]

 

That upon leaving this world I would be met by the holy trinity.

Those spirits would bear the names: sodium thiopental; Pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

 

What about the other homicides?

When I met them, each of them, my muscles tensed, mouth filled up with hot spit like when you’re about to puke. I’d hear with clarity the strumming of a badly out of tune guitar.

The notes, was always sour.

But it’s how I knew.

The dance I had to perform with them was always terribly painful and violent.

Getting punched in the mouth. Raped in the, you know, in the rear…

But I had faith.

With God. My Jesus was by my side, guiding my hand, sending those demons back to hell.

 

The used-car salesman. Unemployed high-school coach. Tax preparer. Bar tender from Pensacola.

Before I killed them, they asked me my secret.

What is your secret?

Call me Lee…

30 Million Dollar Mercenary Proposal for the Perfect Vacation

Prepared by: McNamara Vacation Inc.

After a splash in the surf at Labadee, disembark Royal Caribbean ports-of-call—Lauderdale or St. Maarten. Lear-and-land Matara. Snorkel Nilaveli.

Four-poster suite @ Unawatuna. Guided MP3 air-tour on a Mil Mi-24 over Kilinochchi. See water buffalo, paddy fields; anticipate possible use of 12.7 mm nose cannon.
New York Times Travel Guide recommended best ‘best places’ to visit 2010.

Addendum: Additional Pepper Coast tour hosted by Xe on chartered patrol boat with 4 days, 3 nights in West Point for homemade napalm classes (diesel fuel and polystyrene foam provided). Depart Port-Gentil, arrive Cape Mesurado—dinner aboard petroleum tanker No Bid Transport. Package includes intimate tour of double hull ‘Xe rendition client’ holding area by Erik Prince.