The Brain Dump Journals

vernor

Ceci N’est Pas Ma Belle Vie

The heat had become unbearable for anyone but the Devil. Every room was draped in humid, torrid oppression. The upper level was a sauna, the main level not much better. The only slight respite was the stuffy, cool lower level.

In the basement on a cot with a box fan blowing slightly cooler muggy bands of relief, the writer prayed for enough relief to fall asleep. The large water bottle he had filled with ice cubes just two hours ago was already at room temperature. His skin felt sticky and dirty against the bedsheets. The contact of his own body temperature warmed the padding enough to make comfort futile. He pondered taking another cold shower, but feared that it would add just another hour to his heat-induced insomnia.

Flipping over his phone, he saw the time was 3:25AM. He would have to be up in less than two hours to work a shift at his job. He hated his job and he could feel tension rising at the thought of it. The lack of air conditioning tattered his nerves on a fractal level, each strand begetting another frayed strand, which begat another and another into infinity and he could feel anxiety and anger take over his body. He twisted again, his sweaty, bare skin burning against the warm moistness of top sheet. He kicked his legs and beat his hands in frustration, screaming into the dark. It was too much.

He sat up. The rage in him building from the frustration, heart beating faster, warm air from the fan. Enough. Getting out of bed, bare feet pounding on the steps, he burst out of the basement and into the kitchen. Flinging open the freezer door, he pulled out an ice cube tray and rubbed it all over his body.

Over a cold beer with a warm friend, the writer laid out the truth.

“I need to get out more.”

The friend nodded. “You do. You are spending way too much time cooped up in that house of yours.”

“And it’s doing fuck all for my sanity.”

“How much are you writing?”

“Not much. It’s that fucking Internet. So damned distracting.”

The friend, who had just pulled out his cell phone, sheepishly laid it down on the table.

The writer tried to think of a good line. He began writing words, any words, nonsensical words. He began jamming his fingers on the keys like a free jazz pianist, he wanted the feelings to come through his little fingers, to create to imagine the world in a different place like if women wore pants on their heads and men have to wear skirts to cover their faces. A world where lions vomited up gazelle meat to create entirely new creatures to dance among the wilds. The sort of universe where an orgasm floods a village. Ancient Egypt as the mecca of multimedia. The more he banged finger to key the more the space on the paper became littered with little word babies. He imagined the universe collapsing in on itself and then expanding again and again, like a lung. He was breathing fire now, enlivening his prose with multi-hued imaginations. Fuck spelling, he thought, I am giving a new language to the people, a language based on filth and humor and love and wonder and spite and deep, passionate embraces from a naked friend, skin on skin, rubbing together.  He realized that it had been a long time since he last had sex.

Consider the Vernors bottle: a vessel containing modern ingredients and additives creating the facsimile of a 150 year-old recipe, yet bold enough to proclaim that it’s the “Original Ginger Soda”. Definitely a product designed for fleecy comfort and, anecdotally, stomach problems.

I turn the bottle over in my hands. It’s made of plastic molded to resemble a barrel design, distinctive from the typical soda/cola bottles with which it shares shelf space. It is 8 ½ inches high, of which almost half is a mosaic-textured plastic, unsure what the feeling is meant to convey. Wood? Maybe?

The glossy label paper is done up in green, gold, black, white. The background is a printed wooden green barrel with distressed gold barrel rings, suggesting the concept of an aged oak barrel such as this drink’s purported beginnings were made. However, the caloric information, UPC box, and the message to “Please Recycle” belies its rustic, antique façade. The words “Naturally & Artificially Flavored” in a thin white font mere inches from a badge proclaiming “Authentic Bold Taste”. But then you get to the ingredients:

CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVATIVE), CARAMEL COLOR, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS,
BOTTLED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OD DR. PEPPER/SEVEN UP, INC. 5301 LEGACY DRIVE, PLANO, TX 75024 ©2016 A&W CONCENTRATE COMPANY

A celebratory banner featuring the drink’s mascot, Woody, and celebrating the 150th anniversary of “Vernors®”. The idea of a registered symbol and copyrights speak of lawyers and board rooms and shortcuts for cost effective replication of the recipe.

I must really make my own Ginger Ale at this point. I’ve found one recipe that makes a basic Ginger Ale concentrate, where you add ¼ cup of the mixture with 8 ounces of sparkling water. “Serve immediately”, the instructions suggest.

2 cups of water, 1 piece of fresh ginger, ½ lemon (rind only), 1/3 cup of honey. Boil, steep, strain, add honey, cool.

Even then, am I making authentic ginger ale? What is authenticity? Even the ale that came in that plastic bottle, preservatives and flavors natural & artificial and caramel color all, could be considered more authentic but only because it has marketing behind it..

He had forgotten what it was like to really create, to just get words out there, to write honestly, non-judgemental, no self-critique, care not if someone reads it because he would be doing it for himself.

The books that he was reading, about Crazy Wisdom, about danger, about what they did to Goddess when they found Her, non-binary. Who gets to see this shit? “Shit” is a failed anagram of “this”. He was being clever, showing off. It’s like masturbating alone: becoming aroused, pleasure friction, feeling the warmth wash over, yet no one to share the afterglow with.

You can’t dive in to Derrida no more than you can ball dance with Baudrillard, but he knew that authoritarian structures and hyperreality act as a mesh all over the land (the map is not the territory; the menu is not the meal; the meal is a facsimile of the recipe).

There is no way out of the system unless you wield supreme chaotic powers, but even then, you’re still stuck in a discourse. Even soul mates share a language, even Ying cleaves to Yang.

The candy bar. The skeleton. The immortal. The flotsam. The wake. The pencil. The window. The beard. The

Ranting Impotently: Election 2016 edition: WT(rump)F?!

Be happy you can't see this image.

Nightmare fuel courtesy Illma Gore ©2016

The Fickle Middle Finger To Reason that Donald Trump said something stupid. Again. I say again but at this point, the Talking Cheetoh only it on days that have the word “day” in them. Which, if he wins, he’ll probably outlaw the word “day” because fuck you, really.

The latest one had to do with ol’ Don spinning the hackneyed talking point Republican/Conservative canard that Hillary RC was going to take away their guns. Just like Obama and Bill Clinton didn’t do but hey, it sure helped the coffers of the NRA. Anyway, the Living Foot-In-Mouth said this:

“If she gets to pick her judges ― nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said with a shrug at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina. “Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”

This man uses more dog whistles than a sadist at a kennel.

Naturally, the Trump Campaign HQ tried to put out this shit fire with some shit water, saying,

“It’s called the power of unification–2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power.”

Maybe the Trump folks should hit up Khizr Khan’s offer to borrow his copy of the Constitution because there’s nothing about unifying in the Second Amendment which states:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Nothing of the people who ardently follow the Sebaceous Cyst Demagogue strikes me as “well-regulated”. Heck, I don’t even think his true believers are even well-medicated, well-educated or whether some of their family trees are well-bifurcated. Without going into the intent and the modern interpretations because that’s just stage dressing in this instance. Because what Trumpo Giggio is setting a table for is far more insidious than his recent diatribes on the election being stolen from him or that the debates are rigged or whatever. No, if Hillary wins and gets to choose Supreme Court nominees? Then the game’s over. Oh yeah? Well, not in my ‘merika.

To unsay — because he is a master at not actually saying a hateful thing — that someone should utilize the old Second Amendment solution to Hillary or any of her SCOTUS picks it not only dangerous but it also undermines this process. Suggesting the assassination of a democratically elected representative or gunning down court picks is downright criminal thuggery reserved for the most corrupt of governments. For a group that’s so wired in to the concept of American Exceptionalism, which means being an example to the world in all of its hubristic nature. Offing the one that the majority of the people chose vanquish those lofty ideals. That he does it as representative of the one party that has kneecapped government by not working — even refusing to consider an Obama-picked Supreme Court nom after the election which is itself unconstitutional.

And yet, why are we shocked? Why are we surprised that he said it? And why are we surprised that many of Turnip Face’s followers aren’t denouncing it? Because we hear everyday about a new thing: his isolationist tactics, his threats to make other countries pay, deport immigrants, imprison all Muslims, use nukes to threaten other countries… it’s all been building up to this moment so are we surprised that people are defending Drumpf?

Because… remember way back in January when he said this?

“I have the most loyal people? Did you ever see that? I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

It’s that loyalty to him that should concern us.

The Dramatic Rhythms Experience @ Southgate House Revival 08/06/16 (rev)

Somewhere, there’s a place where exotic belly dancers shimmy in hypnotic tempo to the supportive ululations of onlookers, where ribald pirates ask what do you do with a drunken pirate before launching into a heartfelt rendition of the Nine Inch Nails classic “Hurt”, where dancing artists twirl, and circus sideshow performers walk on broken glass, lie down on a bed of nails, and bend steel in their bare hands.

And it happens right here where I live in Greater Cincinnati.

Organizer and Dramatic Rhythms founder, DaShane Starfox Watkins. Photo   © Scott Stolsenberg 2016

Organizer and Dramatic Rhythms founder, DaShane Starfox Watkins. Photo © Scott Stolsenberg 2016

This conglomeration of artists, freaks, dancers, and musicians came together this past Saturday under the banner of The Dramatic Rhythms Experience, a blissed-out and immersive audiovisual encounter cum nouveau cirque happening. The event was organized by Dramatic Rhythms, a world fusion musical arts & belly dance group devised by local drummer, DaShane Starfox Watkins. I’ve been to a few Dramatic Rhythm events before and have always enjoyed it but this particular event blew me away.

Saturday night’s event at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, KY, had a Viking theme and featured music by Noyse Merchants and local favorites Band of Pirates, as well as dancing from Troupe Roja and circus antics from Blue Moon Circus, as well as a costume contest, henna tattoo artists, and vendors galore  before culminating into the event proper, a performance by Starfox. The event was emceed by BoP’s own Loren the Black.

Blue Moon Circus and the Ladder of Machetes. Ouch! Photo   © Scott Stolsenberg 2016

Blue Moon Circus and the Ladder of Machetes. Ouch! Photo © Scott Stolsenberg 2016

The evening started off with a performance by the manic Blue Moon Circus, a two-person team whose motto was “We bring the danger, then we bring the safety.”  Charged with warming up the crowd and easing everyone into a night of weirdness, BMC featured a strong woman bending frying pans and rebar, unicycle hoop jumping, climbing a ladder of machetes barefooted, and having large cinder blocks smashed upon a person lying down on a bed of nail, not to mention a bizarre game of Ring Around The Wiener (I’ll let you imagine what that means).

Noyse Merchants get Medieval on yo ass.

Noyse Merchants. Gettin’ Medieval on yo ass.

Next up were the Noyse Merchants, a band that was new to me featuring guitars, lutes, and a hurdy frikkin’ gurdy! Comprised this evening of Michael Zaret, Larry Brown, Jackie stevens, Tina Gutierrez and Rob Dorsey, Noyse Merchants performed the Classics, and by that, I mean that they performed songs from Baroque, English Renaissance, and the Middle Ages. Describing their set as “music to plunder a village by,” this exceedingly entertaining ensemble produced some very beautiful and mellow music.

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Band of Pirates sing….

Following a brief intermission, local favorites Band of Pirates took the stage. This six-piece set of rowdy ramblers are always a crowd pleaser and never fail to entertain. Opening with the traditional “Blow The Man Down”, the Pirates played the hits of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. weaving from The Muppet’s Treasure Island hit, “Shiver My Timbers”, Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, all the way to “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life)”. No doubt about it, every time this band performs, they manage to bring the house down with their polished sound and banter. Having seen BoP from the very beginning, the evolution of their sound from the original four-piece of Rob Dorsey, Loren “the Black” Muzzy, Dave Francy, and Larry “Captain Jack” Sparrow into a multi-instrument six-person band — with Julie Langenderfer on the accordion, Starfox Watkins on drums, and Sparrow switching guitar to the cello and violin — has made BoP more than just a band that does pirate songs.

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…and Band of Pirates play.

Interspersed between acts, dancers took to the floor to prerecorded music which helped to maintain the positive energy amongst the audience.

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A dancer from Troupe Roja.

One note on the venue: The Southgate House Revival venue is located at the old Grace Methodist Episcopal church in Newport. Around about 2012, it was renovated and dubbed with its current moniker, a continuation of the original Southgate House (now called the Thompson House). The new locale has three separate areas, which means three different events can be pulled off in one night. As such, the Dramatic Rhythms Experience took place in the largest room, dubbed the Sanctuary and located in what was originally the main temple of the church. Visually, it’s stunning with much of the old stained glass serving as a backdrop to the stage as well as the upper level above the stage (a kind of green room for performers) and the bar in the back is nestled below the large organ pipes. Size-wise, it is the largest of the three rooms and aligned cosmically correct with the event that was happening that evening. The stage lights bathed the performers in green and purplish blue lights, giving the entire event a very mellow and beautiful ambience.

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Dramatic Rhythms performs.

After another brief break, it was time for the titular group to hit the stage. A typical Dramatic Rhythms performance, if such a thing can be described as typical, can be comprised of a continuous hour-long piece of music, the foundation of which is prerecorded, accompanied by Starfox Watkins and his collaborators, who play a variety of instruments live and with these prerecorded tracks. These include guitars, drums, singing bowls, cello, mandolin, didgeridoo, chanting, assorted chimes, bells, and other instruments, depending upon the track. On this night, Starfox Watkins was joined by Mr. Dorsey, a vocalist, as well Watkins’ parents for an even extra special performance. Serving as the music for multiple performances by Troupe Roja and other dancers — which included an amazing and, at one point, heart-stopping aerial dancer — the experience created by all of these incredibly talented people was the coup de grace for what was a terrific event.

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The moment before a cardiac event.

All in all, The Dramatic Rhythms Experience produced a spellbinding evening of music, dance, and weirdness.

 

 

 

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This article has been updated to add two photos used with permission from local photographer Scott Stolsenberg.

More photos from the Dramatic Rhythms Experience can be seen by visiting his Facebook page. Thanks again, Scott, for the use of these photos. — Brian

Ranting Impotently: Election 2016 edition: The Thought Plickens

Thoughts after watching coverage of last night’s DNC and the obstreperousness of the stubborn jackasses that make up the Bernie or Bust folks…


Dear Hillary, Schultzie, DNC, et al,

Congratulations on a first night of the convention. You managed to pack more composure, relevance, and multiculturalism in one night than the GOP did in their last three conventions. Also, please, somehow, some way, Hill, if you get elected, find a way to make Michelle Obama an ambassador for something. No, seriously, that speech was so good that Trump’s wife du jour wishes she could retroactively plagiarise it.

Now, a few days ago, I let you have it over the Wikileaked emails where you tenaciously, belligerently, and myopically decided to put your thumbs on the scales for Hill. Let’s face facts: that doesn’t make you look good at all. Nor does it make your campaign look strong to turn around and embrace Schultzie into the fold mere minutes after she’s ousted as head of DNC. Ah well, who says politics doesn’t lead to cronyism, right? Just ask the Bush family. Also, it’s appreciated that you apologized for insulting Bernie and his followers. If you don’t think that matters, consider the lack of apologies the Festering Goober of Hatred’s campaign has issued, from mocking a disabled person to retweeting White Nationalists to even waving away accusations of plagiarism in last week’s RNC speeches. To the likes of him and his followers, culpability is a multi-syllabic word that’s hard to pronounce and probably only pussies do it.

So I’m coming back, somewhat humbly but mostly bitterly because I need you to do something for me: win this election. I know, this is not going to be easy. Some recent polling numbers have you either within the margin of error or slightly behind. Hopefully, the convention gives you a nice bounce and you can use that as some sort of momentum into the general election. Good luck, because you’re going to need it. You have a hard road ahead of you, but making history is never a slam dunk.

Unfortunately, you’ll no longer have Schultzie setting the debate schedule for you. In fact, it’s the debates that really concern me. I mean, how do you debate someone that doesn’t dabble in reality? The Wikileaks thing definitely tarnishes you, but if there is credible evidence that this is some Russian fixing and it can be tied to He Who Must Never Be Prez, well, I hope even you can defeat a treasonous bastard like him.

There’s also some hard work in winning over the Berners. Yeah, I think most of them are going to do the right thing and unite for the Greater Good. Yet, there’s still those “voting my conscience even if it ends up putting me in a Trump gulag” few who will protest you to the (literal & figurative) end.

Lemme just say, Bernie folks, I love y’all. Really, I do. I was one of you and, as evidenced in my previous post, I was just as angry that the primary was slanted into Hill’s favorite. But the thing about a thumb on the scale is that it only adds a few ounces to what’s already there, which is Hillary’s inevitable nomination. Bernie Sanders did great and wonderful things and Hill has even adopted some of his platform. TPP? Debt-free education? You and Bernie did that. What’s more, I have no doubt that Sanders has helped shift the Democratic Party a little towards the progressive side. This is good and, should Hill become president, it’ll be important to ensure the party doesn’t slip back towards the Corporatists.

Does Bernie Sanders poll better against the Mohaired Toupee In A Sweatshop-Manufactured Suit? For now, yes. But who knows what would happen as the campaign goes on. Bernie does that that oh-so-dreaded S word associated with his name and people in this country are just stupid enough to still misconstrue Socialism for Communism. Yeah, it’s frustrating.

But the booing, the stubborn Bernie Or Bust attitude? That shit has to stop. While you’re well within the rights of this country’s beliefs to protest, the level of immaturity — even to the point of adopting the Tiny Hand’s “Lock Her Up” chant — is beyond pathetic. And then, there’s bullshit like this…

Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images, courtesy of The Guardian.

Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images, courtesy of The Guardian.

Seriously. That’s the kind of ridiculous melodrama that my late ex-mother-in-law used to pull. She was a character, and a PUMA to the very end, believing every bit of dishonesty that the Clintons trotted out against Obama in ’08.

Also, take note… Silenced Lady looks to be more or less left alone by the crowd. Imagine if she tried, say, protesting racism and hate at the RNC like this poor lady did.

I doubt that tape would’ve stayed on her mouth for more than five seconds had she tried that in Cleveland last week.

But a protest is a protest and I get that. You have every right to be angry that Bernie lost. But that’s the point: he lost. No amount of fixing or chicanery by Schultzie changed that outcome. Lick your wounds, organize for next time, and defeat The Orange Nightmare With Tiny Hands. The sting of democracy is that it’s always feels like tyranny to the losers. The time for symbolic protests are over. If you’re getting called ridiculous by Sarah fucking Matt Damon Silverman, who was herself an ardent Bernie supporter, maybe you should takea hard look in the mirror. To the lady in the image above, to the Bernie or Bust folks, you’re not being silenced. You’ve been outvoted.

Yes, the email hacks are damning, but y’know what’s worse? A foreign country attempting to manipulate the outcome of the election. Even worse than that is if these dirty tricks fool you into a protest vote for The Bankrupt Huckster Who Doesn’t Pay His Bills or one of those lame “Third Party” candidates that only show up every four years like impatient cicadas and make a lot of noise. No. I am by no means a Hillary fan or supporter but I will vote for her.

Because, and pardon the hyperbole here, this election is about defeating evil and tyranny. This Bloated, Enabled Tax Cheat with all of his dog-whistle rhetoric, anti-immigrant stances, and all the business acumen of a monkey eating his own shit should not be near game cheat codes, much less nuclear ones. Whatever qualms, concerns, reservations, etc., you might have about Hillary, those will dwarf in comparison to what a Trump administration would accomplish. By protest voting for a third candidate or not even going to the polls, effectively saying “fuck you” to Hillary and the Democratic Party, you’re inviting danger that would make the George W. Bush years look damned near tranquil and idyllic.

Rewatch that above video from last week’s RNC, then imagine that on a national scale. No progressive movement, no Bern Or Bust, no chance at changing the Democratic Party will happen if this Toupeed Hate Bozo wins the Oval Office.

Onward to victory.

Ranting Impotently: Election 2016 edition

Dear Hillary, Debbie, & the DNC,

Nothing’s changed. We knew you wanted to ordain Hillary as the nominee; the emails just confirm it. That the DNC would choose to strategize against a primary candidate *instead* of letting the people decide speaks volume. You strategize against the opposing parties, not your candidates.

By making it impossible for a non-establishment candidate to win, you did what the Republicans couldn’t. You’ve out-corrupted the corrupt. Nixon or Rove ain’t nothing on you.

And what’s more? You have a lot of people who identify as Democrats by the short and curlies. Do we vote for a corrupt politician who cluelessly handle sensitive data on her own private server, voted for the Iraq War, and has thought NAFTA and TPP were great ideas…  or let the bloated orange emcee at the daily Two-Minute Hate win so he can thumb his nose at NATO, fire Obama appointees, and doing more to radicalize Muslims than a lifetime subscription of Charlie Hedbo sent to every mosque in this nation. Look, I am not saying that Bernie was the one or not but let the voters figure that out, you crooked nimroids. Yeah, you probably would’ve lost the opportunity to crown Hillary but you’ve tarnished the historical moment by jerry-rigging things to tag that on a candidate who has the popularity of a colonoscopy prep. My god, what a choice.

Those who want to keep our country in some recognizable form of sanity have to choose her. Because there is a lot at stake here, no less the prospect of setting the Supreme Court for the next few years. Vote for who you helped choose or pragmatism. Do we risk that by choosing an unviable third party, a Bernie write-in, a symbolic protest vote, or just stay home with the prospect of Trump winning and, well, who knows what the hell to expect? Or do we hope that somehow there’s enough party unity to huddle up against him? As they asked the guy headed to the gallows, “Are you going to jump or will you need a little push?”

Extortionism is not pragmatism.

Also, Tim Kaine? How do you make that choice? Did he win a round of Birdshit Bingo?

Voter turnout is a huge problem in this country, to say nothing of voting suppression, what makes you think safe choices are the best things right now?

I’m sure there are more Republicans who feel similarly about their candidate, but I have no time to mourn for them. They helped create the atmosphere that led to a candidate like Trump by ginning up scary stories about Democratic presidents coming after guns or equating respect and compassion as political correctness, and waging a war on Christmas. This is just chickens coming home to roost when you’ve run out of ideas.

This is the choices we have.

We’re fucked.