It’s been a while! I’ve been busy with life things (South Side Weekly Radio and other life commitments), which I guess is good. But recently I’ve been wishing I wrote more and shared what I wrote more. And read more and shared what I read more. And shared the interesting music and podcasts I’ve been listening to. And concerts. And… And…
Saw two concerts recently and thought I should write about them since this blog is probably 75% music commentary at this point.
My friend Matt told me about this Joyce Manor show he was going to and I thought: why not?!?*
On the train home from an event at the Museum of Contemporary Art entitled “Self-Care as Warfare” I opened an email from the Princeton Club of Chicago entitled “Salute to Patriotism” inviting me to the 129th annual Washington’s Birthday gala with an alum/general as the keynote speaker. (First, let me say, serving in the military is an incredibly courageous act. I have deep respect for anyone who is willing to leverage their life for their country.) This email triggered in me a sensation, perhaps because I juxtaposed these two events together in my mind: a fancy gala celebrating America next to a talk on self-care and readying oneself for four years of having to fight every day to maintain a progress in what’s looking to be more and more like a McCarthy/Orwellian state.
And so my thought is this: why do all these Princeton Club events seem to reinforce an existing thing? Like the renovation of an already well-maintained road. I don’t think I’ve ever opened a Princeton Club of Chicago email and seen something radical. An idea challenging the norm. An event exploring a marginal environment or real of thought.
It feels like DECADES ago I saw these shows, but since I still think about them often, I thought I’d write up a little bit about these three shows I went to in the first week of November. Oh how things were so different then…
*Written several days ago, on the road to Chicago.
I think it’s because for miles (1,011 to be more precise, with the exception of the I-670 bypass in Kansas City), I’ve been driving through either garbage BLM land; hay fields; or barren, winter corn and soybean plots. But when the brown of upturned soil began to give way to the beige of concrete buildings/sidewalks, it al felt wrong. And when I stepped out of the hermetical seal of my car to pump gas just south of Joliet, I felt the strong wind, which is a natural component of Chicago weather, but which signalled to me now the abnormality of this city – Chicago – an aberration in this land that is supposed to be just fields, even though the windiness is probably an artifact of the jet stream and the Lake and has existed since well before the city.
Christmas 2016 is driving from Santa Cruz, California to Flagstaff, Arizona. The “why” doesn’t matter. It’s just a thing that needs to be done. Seven hundred and ninety miles needs to be driven. I fill my car with snacks purchased days before and a half dozen tap-filled water bottles of various sizes and construction (thin, plastic Ice Mountain-types and durable Nalgenes). I download an audiobook knowing I’ll get bored of the podcasts I normally listen to. Food and water are important but having done this sort of thing before, I know the most dangerous thing really is boredom. You can find water and food or be rescued on the interstate before you get to the point of dying. It is more difficult to pull yourself out of the depths of boredom when you still have 5+ hours of driving to do.
My life is the most random string of experiences. Thus, this blog.
My most recent experience was a five-day wildland firefighting training camp in Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara.
Those who know me are probably like: what? Why? How? I didn’t know Erisa was interested in fighting wildfires!
Those who know me REALLY WELL are probably thinking: I didn’t know Erisa was interested in fighting wildfires, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit.
After November 8th, I became afraid to stop for gas. I drive across the country frequently, so I have to stop for has, often in small towns off the interstate. And I’m afraid because I’m hearing all these stories (from friends and on the internet) of KKK fliers being passed out, women getting assaulted for wearing hijabs, black people being verbally harassed on the road, etc. So I feel justified in being afraid to step out of my car. I even wrote a little song as I was on the road (one of many songs I write when bored 5 hours into a drive):
I’m afraid to stop for gas / Afraid some racist, misogynist ass / Will stop his car by my front end / And call me that name that starts with “N” / He’ll pull a gun and shoot me dead / And I know that this is all in my head / Such a simple, menial task / But I’m afraid to stop for gas.
So I told this to my white relatives – who didn’t necessarily vote for Trump but are on the conservative side of things – and they told me personal stories of their acceptance of America’s diversity, their rejection of hate crimes, their fear with regards to negative experiences they’ve had with black people, and their fear of being attacked and misunderstood by liberals, etc.
I actually began to cry reading what they wrote. I did not cry when Hillary lost. I cried when coming to the realization that, literally, everyone is afraid. I was depressed for a couple weeks because it feels hopeless. Everyone lives in fear. How do we stop it?
Several weeks later, the only thing I can think of is to smile at people and if you see someone struggling with something, help them if you can. I think there’s nothing else that can be done. Because fear is perceived, it does not actually exist. Fear is a thing we feel that will only dissipate as we feel more comfortable in our environments. Each time I stop for gas and encounter nice, respectable people, I feel a little safer. So just smile at people! Boom. I just solved all the world’s problems.