Tuesday, July 30, 2013

John the Baptist at the Nowhere Bar

The hits just keep on comin, here in DeMint country! At left: anti-immigrant demonstrator in downtown Greenville on Saturday. Photo by my talented radio show consigliere, Gregg Jocoy. (More photos here.)

I forgot all about the right-wing demonstration on Saturday (I'm glad Gregg didn't), but ended up downtown in the early evening anyway, to grab a bite to eat after the Randall Bramblett show (see below). By that time (as I said on our show yesterday), only one brave sign-carrying protester remained. Since she was yelling and gesticulating at the traffic all by her lonesome, I thought she was there individually--all by herself--which always makes one look somewhat unbalanced. (I never do it; although I WILL pass out leaflets by myself.) She was yelling about "the hostile invasion" (i.e. immigration) when I passed her and shook my head in an exaggerated, theatrical fashion, "What a loony tune!" was the body-language message I hoped I was sending.

And you know, I won't lie to you: I was momentarily pleased I got a chance to do this to the right-wingers for a change; they are usually the ones doing it to US. In these parts, Occupiers were regarded as either 1) dangerous deluded wackos, or, 2) an interesting sideshow. At least in the case of #2, there was the opportunity to strike up some conversations, maybe win over some hearts and minds.

It was just as I was nostalgically remembering our belated Season of OCCUPY, that the intrepid sign-carrying lady started RUNNING AFTER ME, loudly demanding to know if I was in favor of amnesty for illegals???!!?.

Oh boy.

I realize the proper and nuanced answer is, "What about amnesty for their employers? Why are THEY never arrested?"--but I did not want to hang around and argue with this person, I wanted to eat at the Mellow Mushroom.

At this point, we were right in front of the Carolina Ale House, which has the popular advertising/commercial slogan, "Ale Yeah!"... this catchy phrase is even engraved into the planters out in front of the restaurant. Consequently, all I could think of was, ALE NO!

ALE NO, I do not want to talk to this person.

So I answered quickly, "I think it's a great idea!" I blurted out.

She was ready with a reply, "Do you want the United States to become like a European country?!"

I turned and said very distinctly and loudly, ABSOLUTELY!

That shut her up. Stunned her too. "Umm," she fell back and stopped following me at that point, undoubtedly deciding I was some insane leftist in favor of universal health care. "That's... interesting..." and she then went over and accosted some other poor soul who was trying to decide where to eat.

Jesus H Christ, where do these people come from?! The good news (see linked video) is that they were mostly older white people, the demographic you would expect. No teenagers or twenty-somethings out there.

As I've said here before, the young folks want to date and marry the newcomers, not send them back.


At left: Randall Bramblett at Bohemian Cafe on Saturday. GREAT SHOW! I also bought his new CD, The Bright Spots.

TMI update: my evil ganglion cyst seems to have shrunk to a pinpoint, which I attribute to my feverish consumption of both kombucha and turmeric. It could also be that the steroid shot of a couple of months ago (directly into my finger! aiyeee!) took some additional time to do the job. In any event, in the last couple of weeks, it has become smaller than it's ever been (over the last few years) and stopped swelling up, hurting or (most importantly) bursting open with nasty goo. Perhaps that was all the nasty goo it had? Whatever the reason, when I went in to get it removed, the doctor took a look and said there was no reason for an invasive procedure (and subsequent risk of infection) at this juncture. He said he saw no reason to "dig around in there for it" (Good God Almighty!), for which I thanked heaven profusely.

I was ecstatic, especially when I saw the size of the needle he was getting ready to use on me. Holy shit.

I doubt my fingernail will ever look okay, but that is a small price to pay for a dormant ganglion cyst. Let's hope it stays dormant, and pass the kombucha.

Serving suggestion: It's really great over ice in the summertime! In addition to Synergy, my favorite, let me also recommend Reed's Culture Club brand, especially the Lemon Ginger Raspberry... also dynamite over ice!


Hope your week is going well. Me and Double A are going to attempt the radio show today BY OURSELVES, without our trusted and capable consigliere... which as you know, is no way for a consigliere to behave, but there it is. Family obligations have intervened, and we must GO FORTH AND DO IT... and I know I don't have to tell you, I am a nervous wreck. Luckily, I can chatter on like nobody's business, so hopefully, nobody will be able to tell that I am freaked out.

Jonathan, our wonderful and insightful engineer, will probably have to bail us out... but that's what engineers are FOR!


Check out the cool song. I just loved it. Athens folks, of course, know that the Nowhere Bar is in Athens, Georgia.

I can totally imagine John the Baptist sitting there; so it's where we get today's blog post title.

John the Baptist - Randall Bramblett

Hope your week is going well, too. And don't let your consigliere, whoever it is, out of your sight for a minute!

CHAOS REIGNS without a consigliere to maintain order... just ask anybody.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Oh yeah.

Prompted by: Texas abortion law ignores real problem.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Dexter"-type murders have upstate SC riveted!

At left: Jeremy Lee and Christine Moody, of Lockhart, SC, charged with two counts of murder each. Photo from THE STATE.

The victim was a registered sex offender and his wife. Apparently, these two had a list of sex offenders they were working from, DEATH WISH/DEXTER style. Clint Eastwood, call your office!

Maybe we shouldn't be celebrating vigilante behavior in films, comics or (as in the recent case of George Zimmerman) real life. Maybe the wrong people are getting the wrong message?

From Go Upstate:
Investigation into Jonesville double homicide 'wide open'

Sheriff says more charges could be filed Friday
By Jenny Arnold

Even though two people are in jail, the investigation into a double homicide in Jonesville is still “wide open,” Sheriff David Taylor said Thursday.

Jeremy Lee Moody, 30, and his wife, Christine Moody, 36, both of 213 S. 1st St., Lockhart, were arrested early Wednesday and charged by the Union County Sheriff's Office with two counts each of murder in the deaths of Charles Marvin Parker, 59, and Gretchen Dawn Parker, 51.

Jeremy Moody has told investigators he targeted Charles Parker because Parker was a registered sex offender. Jeremy Moody had “no beef” with Gretchen Parker, but she was home at the time and was a “casualty of war,” Taylor said.

Authorities think the Parkers were killed inside their home sometime Sunday, with their bodies being discovered after a concerned resident called 911 after he couldn't get the Parkers to the door Monday night. Both Parkers had been shot and stabbed.

The sheriff's office plans to bring additional charges against Jeremy Moody and Christine Moody, likely Friday, Taylor said.

Authorities said Jeremy Moody may have seen himself as a vigilante, and told investigators that he had written down the name of another sex offender he had planned to kill on Wednesday. About 3:45 a.m., he and his wife were arrested at the home of his parents in Lockhart, before he could carry out the third killing, according to the sheriff's office.

Investigators are working to determine whether the Moodys are affiliated with any white supremacy or other hate groups. Jeremy Moody has a prominent “skinhead” tattoo on the front of his neck, along with the words “white power” tattooed on the top of his bald head. He also has an eagle and swastika and “Made in America” tattoos.

Jeremy Moody also has told investigators that he is involved in other crimes, including homicides. Officers are following those leads, although Taylor has said that Moody could be bragging. He wouldn't comment on whether there were any specific cases investigators were checking out.

“We're still going wide open, as much as we were yesterday,” Taylor said. “We're following up on the information he's given us, getting evidence ready to send to SLED and trying to identify her tattoos, what they mean and what groups they may be associated with.”

Taylor said Christine Moody’s Facebook page seems to link the couple to a white supremacy group called Crew 41, based in Nebraska. Jeremy Moody has a Facebook page under the name Jeremy Mengele, but there are few posts. He posted that he keeps getting banned from the social network.

On her Facebook page, Christine also uses the last name Mengele, the last name of German physician Josef Mengele, known for his inhumane medical experiments on twins and other prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. The page also contains code numbers for words and phrases associated with the skinhead subculture. Christine Moody makes posts in which she is trying to recruit new members for Crew 41 and uses racial slurs.

Christine Moody identifies herself as a “skin byrd,” or female skinhead. In one post, she states, “The census bureau for the first time in U.S. History have declared that this year, more White people died than were born. The extinction of the White race is upon us. This is undoubtably one of the saddest posts I have ever made.”

Taylor said Christine Moody appears to be trying to recruit new members for Crew 41.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this group,” Taylor said. “We’re doing more research on it. We’ve been in contact with the FBI about it.”

Also on her Facebook page, Christine Moody claims to have cancer.

“We have been told she has cancer,” Taylor said. “Our medical staff has followed up on that.”
Even scarier: I am fairly certain I have run into these two before, back when I used to work at Greenville Mall. (They are, you know, kinda easy to remember.)

We will be talking about these two colorful characters today on our illustrious radio show, so tune in, live at five. (LIVESTREAM HERE)

In addition, another vigilante wacko, Michael Dunn, has murdered another black teenage male (Jordan Davis) in Florida, and is claiming (wait for it!) STAND YOUR GROUND laws, as his defense. We will be discussing that also.

The word for today is CARTE BLANCHE, boys and girls.

Usage in sentence: Since the Zimmerman verdict, the racists now believe they have CARTE BLANCHE.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Snake handlers, finger surgery eve, and talk radio updates

You never know what you'll see in downtown Greenville. This past Sunday, in what used to be called Bergamo Plaza (apparently they are in the process of naming it something else, to go with the fancy new ONE building) I saw this snake-handling lady. She didn't mind me taking her picture.

Just another day in the neighborhood.


Well peeps, as mentioned previously, the surgery on my ganglion cyst is tomorrow morning. I confess to being a nervous wreck. Not really about the surgery itself, but about the anesthesia-shots (administered with a BIG ASS needle) I'm getting on either side of my finger. I've already had one shot--right in the cyst--and it wasn't fun. This promises to be far worse. Argh.

And the idea of my index-finger-joint being (aiyeee) scraped, is just SUCH AN UNPLEASANT CONCEPT. (Can't they use some other word?)

I hope I can type, but probably won't be able to for a couple of days, so this is the official SURGERY EVE update.

Luckily, I can still run my mouth, you lucky folks. I will be broadcasting as usual. Hopefully, I won't be on so many drugs that I make no sense... but when has THAT ever stopped me?


This week's OCCUPY THE MICROPHONE shows--

Monday: The Zimmerman verdict, with local activists Traci Fant and Efia Nwangaza.

Tuesday: Zimmerman trial juror #B37's interview with Anderson Cooper, excerpts and analysis. Much fulminating from your humble narrator, echoing the points in my last blog post (and even quoting some of the comments).

Wednesday: Stevie Wonder boycotts Florida, and an interview with Green Shadow Cabinet member Ben Manski, author of a popular statement about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden titled, Liberty is hunted around the globe: What Snowden taught us about American freedom

Going on in a half-hour, and we'll be talking about one of the best rightwingnuts available for sheer comedy relief, TED NUGENT! (Shooting fish in a barrel, my friends!)

Check us out, yall; if you wanna join us LIVE AT FIVE, here is the WOLI-AM livestream link. Have a listen! Also, podcasts available at the website.


Hope all is well with you, have a great weekend... and take care of your joints!


UPDATE/EDIT 7/21: Surgery postponed until Thursday... so I can obsess and worry for another whole week. Argh.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Florida rules that stalking and killing a black child is legal

If people don't believe racism is alive and well, I tell them to go to Twitter. They have these handy things called hashtags: #. And you can follow it yourself. It's on full display there every single day and night.

Today, racists are crowing and happy with themselves. So don't tell me this hasn't strengthened and emboldened them. I can read for myself. Last night, after the announcement of the verdict in George Zimmerman's trial, they were gloating and joking that nationwide, "blacks and white liberals are furious"--and they were enjoying the HELL out of it. So before you say my headline is over the top, go over there and read, and then get back to me.

Trayvon Martin's murder has been ruled justified. And he was an innocent boy doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG.

Let's review.

A grown man (with an ongoing wannabe-cop fixation) followed an unarmed kid talking to a girl on the phone; jumped out of his car and stalked him (directly against 911 advice, even though he blatantly lied and told the 911 operator he was abiding by their advice) and then pointedly picked a fight with him, at night. The boy thinks he's a freak or pervert and says something like that to his friend on the phone. The white man's first words to him are "What are you doing?" instead of "Hey, I'm 'Neighborhood Watch,' what's up?" and there is a fight, in which the kid feels he is being attacked by a pervert, and fights back. Zimmerman, who deliberately broke 'Neighborhood Watch' rules by being armed and stalking a suspect, shot him in cold blood.

If the races were reversed? It is impossible to imagine, isn't it? Would a black man stalk and shoot a white kid without being arrested immediately and pleading out right away?

There wouldn't even have been any trial.

As Tavis Smiley commented this morning on TV: Under existing "Stand Your Ground" laws, it is understood that George Zimmerman could legally "stand his ground"--but Trayvon was not permitted to stand HIS ground and fight back. His act of fighting back against a strange attacker, was seen as proof that he was dangerous and deserved to die.

And so, there has now been a trial. A bad one. A trial with no African-Americans on the jury. Let me ask you, if the above reverse-race scenario occurred, would the jury trying the black man (if he didn't plead out, which he would have) be all black?

Again, it's a laughable reversal, isn't it?

It would never be permitted to happen.

Travesty does not cover it. This is a seriously racist country, and some places (like here and Florida) are obviously far worse than others. And plenty of racists defend Zimmerman's stalking-behavior and murder. (Right-wing commentator-queen Ann Coulter promptly tweeted "Halleluyah!" after the verdict was announced. )

It is open season on black males in the South. Well, let me amend that... the recent award-winning film FRUITVALE STATION, about the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, reminds us that it isn't just the South. Certainly, I saw comments on Twitter from as far away as the UK, saying rah-rah George Zimmerman.

I remember asking one frenetic Twitterer why they thought Trayvon seemed so "suspicious"; he looks like any one of the random regular kids in my neighborhood. I walk at night around here and I pass them all the time. They have their late-night candy in their hands, just as Trayvon did. They are polite and say hi to me, nodding amiably; I have never been afraid. One of the Twitterers said WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!? HE LOOKED SUSPICIOUS, HE LOOKED DANGEROUS!

No, he didn't. Only if you believe all black kids are intrinsically scary, could you claim such an outrageous thing.

It was due to the torrent of racist tweets that I knew what the trial's outcome would be, and said so, repeatedly, on our radio show. Local activist Traci Fant went to Sanford, Florida during the trial and called our show, making the same prediction. We knew that Zimmerman would be set free. He speaks for too many people; he is their hero.

The sacrifice of Trayvon Martin appears necessary to sustain the heart of racist America, since we now have a black president. The racists couldn't get rid of Obama, so this is their consolation prize. That's the only thing I can figure out.

I am deeply ashamed of our country and court system today.


Comments welcome, as always, but PRO-ZIMMERMAN COMMENTS WILL BE DEALT WITH VERY HARSHLY. As far as I am concerned, if you are pro-Zimmerman, you are a racist and I will be addressing you that way.

If you are pro-Zimmerman and somehow believe (i.e. lying to yourself) you are "not racist", you will hereby convince me that the race-reversal I offered above, could actually happen and the outcome would be exactly the same. There will be no other pro-Zimmerman discussion allowed here. NONE.

Take it to Twitter. They wallow in it over there.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Owl mythology

At left: On Sunday, I saw this owl on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, maybe 90 minutes before dusk.

He flew from tree to tree about 100 yards in front of me, which is when I first noticed him. He had an enormous wing span. I was walking in his direction, so when I arrived below the tree where he was, I spoke to him. He looked right at me and seemed to be listening. I suddenly understood all the stories about owls being "wise"--they do seem to be smart and attentive, with their immense, intense eyes.

Watching him for a few minutes, I realized he was carefully watching me too, looking me up and down. Very large black eyes; a creepy feeling, as if sizing me up to determine if I could be eaten.

I stood there awhile, sort of communing with the owl. I asked him a couple of spiritually-oriented questions that I won't repeat here. As I said, he seemed to be listening, so why not? The swamp is so, so hushed and quiet. It seemed appropriate to break the silence and say hello.

I then pointed him out to the next couple of cyclists as they whizzed by; these two expensively-sports-attired young fellows ignored me as if I was a crazy old woman (uh-oh). But the next two middle-aged women cyclists stopped and cooed appreciatively at him, taking photos also. A nice Baptist-looking family of cyclists also stopped, their teenage son especially impressed, exclaiming he had never been so close to an owl that was not caged.

On my way home, I idly considered the Lakota legend concerning the sighting of owls in the daytime (portent of death) and wondered if Lakota legends 1) applied to non-Lakota, and 2) applied in Carolina. (Wouldn't Cherokee or Catawba legends apply here instead?) And then I promptly forgot about the owl... until I dreamed about him.

He was answering my questions. He answered them very clearly, but not in "language." They were answers that formed in my mind, and when I woke up, I knew what I should do and what was going to happen.

So, I realize now that the owls are magic.

I posted the owl's photo on Facebook and received a couple of warnings about bad luck. And so I looked up some of the mythology and omens connected with owls. I discovered that throughout the world, they are regarded as signs of both good and bad luck. Also, I learned that the concept of owls being "sisters" originally comes from the indigenous people of Australia (see list below), which I hadn't known. There is a national women's organization called OWL (Older Women's League), which (as far as I know) has mostly regrouped into smaller, local chapters. I always wondered why they chose that particular name; I assumed it was a reference to the wisdom of age. I realize now that the connection of owls/women is part of the world's mythology.

The Owl Pages offers everything you ever wanted to know about owls. I discovered his species: Barred Owl, although many southerners call them Rain Owls, which is certainly an interesting (and appropriate!) name, since we have had so much rain lately.

From the Owl Pages, I found a list of fascinating world-legends and mythology about owls.

Here are some of my favorites:

Africa, Central: the Owl is the familiar of wizards to the Bantu.

Africa, Southern: Zulus know the Owl as the sorcerers' bird.

Africa, West: the messenger of wizards and witches, the Owl's cry presages evil.

Algeria: place the right eye of an Eagle Owl in the hand of a sleeping woman and she will tell all.

Arabia: the Owl is a bird of ill omen, the embodiment of evil spirits that carries off children at night. According to an ancient Arabic treatise, from each female Owl supposedly came two eggs, one held the power to cause hair to fall out and one held the power to restore it. Arabs once believed that the spirit of a murdered man continues to wail and weep until his death is avenged. They believed that a bird that they called "al Sada" (or the death-owl) would continue to hoot over the grave of a slain man whose death had not been avenged. The bird would continue to hoot endlessly until the slain man's death was avenged.

Arctic Circle: a little girl was turned into a bird with a long beak by magic, but was so frightened she flapped about madly and flew into a wall, flattening her face and beak. So the Owl was created.

Australia: Aborigines believe bats represent the souls of men and Owls the souls of women. Owls are therefore sacred, because your sister is an Owl - and the Owl is your sister.

Borneo: the Supreme Being turned his wife into an Owl after she told secrets to mortals.

Brittany: an Owl seen on the way to the harvest is the sign of a good yield.

Burma: during a quarrel among the birds, the Owl was jumped upon and so his face was flattened.

Cameroon: too evil to name, the Owl is known only as "the bird that makes you afraid".

Carthage: the city was captured by Agathocles of Syracuse (Southern Italy) in 310 BC. Afterward, he released Owls over his troops and they settled on their shields and helmets, signifying victory in battle.

Celtic: the Owl was a sign of the underworld.

China: the Owl is associated with lightning (because it brightens the night) and with the drum (because it breaks the silence). Placing Owl effigies in each corner of the home protect it against lightning. The Owl is regarded as a symbol of too much Yang (positive, masculine, bright, active energy).

France: when a pregnant woman hears an Owl it is an omen that her child will be a girl.

Germany: if an Owl hoots as a child is born, the infant will have an unhappy life.

India: The Barn owl is the "vahana" (transport/vehicle/mount) of the Hindu goddess of wisdom, Lakshmi. As such, the owl is held as a symbol of wisdom and learning. The eagle owls, especially the rock eagle owl [Bubo bengalensis] and the brown fish owl [Bubo zeylonensis] are called " ullu" in Hindi and the word is also used as a synonym for "idiot" or "imbecile". The most chilling sound during the quiet and cold winter nights in the plains of Bengal is perhaps the call of the " kaal penchaa", the Brown Hawk Owl. The rhythmic "kuk - kuk - kuk" is believed to be a foreboding of impending death.

Indonesia: Around Manado, on the isle of Sulawesi, People consider Owls very wise. They call them Burung Manguni. Every time someone wants to travel, they listen to the owls. The owls make two different sounds; the first means it is safe to go, and the second means it's better to stay at home. The Minahasa, people around Manado, take those warnings very seriously.

Iran: In Farsi the Little Owl (Athene Noctua) is called "Joghde-kochek". It is said that this bird brings bad luck. In Islam, it's forbidden (Haram) to eat.

Ireland: An Owl that enters the house must be killed at once, for if it flies away it will take the luck of the house with it.

Israel: in Hebrew lore the Owl represents blindness and desolation and is unclean.

At left: the swamp itself, which is much more ominous after heavy rains. I love love love it, except for the mosquitoes, which are humongous and always-starving. It is also home to the largest snake I have EVER seen that wasn't under glass in a zoo.


Japan: Among the Ainu people the Eagle Owl is revered as a messenger of the gods or a divine ancestor. They would drink a toast to the Eagle Owl before a hunting expedition. The Screech Owl warns against danger, although they believe the Barn Owl and Horned Owl are demonic. They would nail wooden images of owls to their houses in times of famine or pestilence.

Latvia: when Christian soldiers entered his temple, the local pagan god flew away as an Owl.

Lorraine: spinsters go to the woods and call to the Owl to help them find a husband.

Madagascar: Owls join witches to dance on the graves of the dead.

Malawi: the Owl carries messages for witches.

Mexico: the Owl makes the cold North wind (the gentle South wind is made by the butterfly). The Little Owl was called "messenger of the lord of the land of the dead", and flew between the land of the living and the dead.

Newfoundland: the hoot of the Horned Owl signals the approach of bad weather.

Poland: Polish folklore links Owls with death. Girls who die unmarried turn into doves; girls who are married when they die turn into Owls. An owl cry heard in or near a home usually meant impending death, sickness, or other misfortune. An old story tells how the Owl does not come out at during the day because it is too beautiful, and would be mobbed by other, jealous birds.

Puerto Rico: The Owl is called "Mucaro". Back in the 1800s, the people from the mountain coffee plantations used to blame the little mucaro for the loss of coffee grains. The belief was that the coffee was part of the owls' diet, and many owls were killed. There are old folklore songs on the subject, one goes like this:

Poor Mucaro, you're a gentleman
you just want to eat a rat
then the rat
set up a trap
he eats the coffee grains
and people blame you.

Romania: the souls of repentant sinners flew to heaven in the guise of a Snowy Owl.

Russia: hunters carry Owl claws so that, if they are killed, their souls can use them to climb up to Heaven. It is said that Tartar shaman of Central Russia could assume Owl shapes. Kalmyks hold the Owl to be sacred because one once saved the life of Genghis Khan.

Samoa: the people are descended from an Owl.

Siberia: the Owl is a helpful spirit.

Spain: legend has it that the Owl was once the sweetest of singers, until it saw Jesus crucified. Ever since it has shunned daylight and only repeats the words 'cruz, cruz' ('cross, cross').

Sri Lanka: the Owl is married to the bat.

Sumeria: The goddess of death, Lilith, was attended by Owls.

Sweden: the Owl is associated with witches.


And so we see, Owls are often connected with women, and with spirituality... or both.

Since my dream, I choose to see my owl as a good omen. But I also realize that life IS impermanence, and what is regarded as "good" right now, may well be considered "bad" in the future.

Perhaps that is the lesson of the owl. Live completely in the present.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Radio radio - update from the airwaves!

At left: Efia Nwangaza at the Multicultural Festival on June 27th.

Local Occupier, powerhouse Civil Rights attorney and director of the Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, Efia was on our July 4th radio show -- #Restorethe4th -- wherein we discussed reclaiming the 4th Amendment.

Efia was also on yesterday's show, greatly assisting us in our interview with Ralph Poynter, spouse of activist lawyer Lynne Stewart, who is suffering from advanced-stage cancer and currently seeking compassionate release from federal prison. There are two national support rallies for Lynne today (in New York City and Los Angeles) and one on Friday (in Washington, DC); please go to LynneStewart.org to sign the petition and learn more about her case. There are names and numbers to call, and much work to do.

We thank Ralph for being on our show and laying out the case so well.

Today: Bradley Manning, Ariel Castro, force-feeding Muslims during Ramadan at Guantanamo, and other timely topics on OCCUPY THE MICROPHONE, live at five!

Broadcasting from McAlister Square in Greenville, to all points of upstate South Carolina, all the way to Gaffney. Live streaming available at WOLI AM, so give us a listen.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Michigan Womyn's Music Festival: transphobia revisited

Unfortunately, the ongoing brawl over the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (herein known by its nickname, Michfest) continues on for another year.

Each year seems more contentious than the last. Increasingly, there are pro-trans demonstrations at festival, featuring t-shirts emblazoned with "Trans Women Belong Here". QueerFatFemme believes that women should attend specifically to protest the omission of trans women, and believes someday the rules will change, as they eventually evolved to include BDSM and "chem-free space" -- neither of which were initially greeted with kindness. (NOTE: Trans women have attended the festival since its inception, even performing/working there, despite the official rule excluding them. Trans women were already an integral part of Michfest BEFORE the rule became "official" -- so this exclusion can also be viewed as an EXILE.)

This year--in response to a petition--Lisa Vogel, Michfest co-founder/owner of festival land, issued a very confusing statement. She seems to be winking at the presence of trans women, as long as they properly keep their heads down and shut up about it. One might even read the statement as green-lighting the admission of trans women in a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" fashion. Vogel's statement reads, in part:
The Festival, for a single precious week, is intended for womyn who at birth were deemed female, who were raised as girls, and who identify as womyn. I believe that womyn-born womyn (WBW) is a lived experience that constitutes its own distinct gender identity.

As we struggle around the question of inclusion of transwomyn at the festival, we use the word intention very deliberately. Michigan holds this particular lived experience of womanhood as honorable, meaningful, unique and rich. Our intention has always been coupled with the radical commitment to never question any womon's gender. We ask the greater community to respect this intention, and to value the complexity and validity of every gender identity, including that of WBW. The onus is on each individual to choose whether or how to respect that intention.


This whole fiasco seems emblematic of the stand-off between radical feminists and trans women, and it makes my head hurt. We should all be getting along, dammit. I often find trans women to be instinctively feminist, due to their unique experiences, and I want them in our ranks. However, lots of radical feminists don't. Further, the two groups seem singularly obsessed with pissing each other off, creating endless Tumblr pages/blogs dedicated simply to trashing the other side. And these hate-blogs (as Mama Moretti commented here) get TONS of hits, every time they are updated.

Some people spend all their online-time enumerating why the other side is not just wrong, but EVIL. Some people, frankly, seem driven nearly insane over it.

I recently wrote about the incident at Portland State University during the recent Law and Disorder Conference, in which trans activists attacked a Deep Green Resistance display table for selling literature they deemed transphobic and unacceptable (I still don't know specifically WHICH BOOK they were selling that set everyone off)... and I expressed my disapproval of their tactics, which included destroying books, marking people up with magic-markers and throwing burritos. Even though I have written here (at great length) of my crazy-Yippie past (and similar tactics *I* have engaged in), I wrote that I now know (as a radical living in possibly the reddest state in the South) what it is like to be the hapless person on the other end of that behavior... and I have grown to believe that these types of tactics are NOT very effective, even if they are great fun and feel deliciously self-righteous. I think these tactics may even do HARM to a cause, sometimes even bringing sympathy to those who are attacked and accomplishing the opposite of what we intended.

The excitable gang over at Feministe became very angry with me; they wrote several enthusiastic posts announcing that I am a Bad Person and saying "fuck you"--which I found even more alarming. Obviously, discussing long-term strategies and points of agreement is no longer even considered an acceptable goal; the war has advanced to the point that there can be no efforts at Detente that don't appear to be "pandering" to one side or another. (sigh)

And Lisa Vogel's strange, ambiguous statement certainly did not help the situation.


Still, I gotta wonder, is Michfest (a throwback to feminism's Golden Era) an event that trans women truly want to attend? Most women *I* know have not even heard of it (or are only peripherally aware of it) and show absolutely no interest when you tell them about it. Why is this such a big deal to trans women--just because its off limits to them? (I no longer want to attend, for instance, although I did attend way back in the aforementioned Golden Era.) Why does THIS PARTICULAR EVENT matter so much, when there are plenty of other places/events that are also off-limits to them?

Why do trans women care so much what radical feminists (specifically) say about them?

Why do radical feminists believe trans women (specifically) are such a threat? (And before you answer, "because they believe they are men!"--keep in mind, they seem FAR more aggravated by trans women than they are by men. Many of these hate-blogs do not even write much about feminist political issues, but only cover an issue like abortion when trans women say critical things, or declare it isn't as important to them as radfems believe it should be.)

I admit: I don't get it. And the longer the war continues, the less I get it. It strikes me as patently bizarre.

Yes, the old hippie is pleading for peace. I fully expect to be pilloried, but blessed are the peacemakers.

Buddha told me this would be rough.


The newest salvo fired at the radfem faction is THIS rather disturbing 2008 Philadelphia Gay News story by radfem Victoria Brownworth. This is OLD news, so at first, I wondered why the trans faction was dredging it up at this rather late date.

Then I read it.

Ohhhh my goodness.

I confess, I was pretty upset and disgusted. This is bad. Like, really really bad. Cristan Williams writes at TRANSADVOCATE:
The reason I chose to do this article is that Brownworth, a self-identified radical feminist, has written extensively about power, privilege, the need for acceptance, boundaries and the well-being of kids. Yet here – even though she felt it was “creepy,” “wrong” and even though she also felt “anxious” about it – she asked this kid to have access to his genitalia (if you believe what she wrote in 2008).

If the power roles were reversed and it was an adult pre-op transwoman who came across a vulnerable 15/16 year old cisgender girl with an illicitly obtained genital body modification, would RadFems (or anyone for that matter!) view it as being okay if the transwoman gained access to the girl’s genitalia for a peek? What if the transwoman then discribed the girl’s genetalia in detail – down to what her cliterous looked like – in newsprint and/or on the internet? What if the transwoman, five years later, tweets that she felt “creepy/wrong” about it but nevertheless defended her actions by saying that the girl asked the transwoman to do it? What would happen? What would be said about that situation?

Take the trans issue out of this. If this was an adult cisgender woman and a vulnerable 15/16 year old cisgender boy with an illicitly obtained genital piercing or tattoo, we all intuitively understand that it’s inappropriate for an adult to deliberately gawk at the kid’s junk while they’re nude, much less detail what the kid’s genitals looked like in print or the web! Yet because it’s transkid, nobody has said anything for FIVE YEARS!
Awful, just awful. I was genuinely disturbed that Brownworth thought it was ever acceptable to exploit this child in this manner. I hope someone can locate this young person (named Devon, who would now be 20 or 21?) and affirm that he is okay.

Regarding this story, Brownworth's various replies to her critics are ... off. Just off. Strange. A lot like Lisa Vogel's bizarre non-statement. It is as if these radfems don't really believe they are dealing with human beings or something. Brownworth seems actually taken aback that you would ask her about it.

Meanwhile, as we speak, the radfems line up and obediently back up Brownworth, even in an instance when she was OBVIOUSLY very wrong.


It all just makes me so ashamed.