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APE AND TACO

*DISCLAIMER: This site has nothing to do with apes or tacos, except in the broad sense that I am a human that eats tacos, and as a human, I am an ape.

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America

While in America.

Live in Chicago: AJJ, Joyce Manor, Priests

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?!?*

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The Radical Princeton (& Friends) Club of Chicago

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.

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Live in Chicago: Screaming Females, Mitski, Jeff Rosenstock

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…

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Return: Or, How Many Analogies For Life & Its Frustrations Can I Fit Into One Blog Post

*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.

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Christmas 2016

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.

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Sunday Night Live: Music at The Mill

This was MONTHS AGO but I really liked the acts I saw and want to mention them on my blog.

I heard about the show because a band I like (and have mentioned on this blog before!) NOTS was playing. When I saw the show announcement, I pictured the back room of Iowa City’s The Mill restaurant and bar being bustling full of college punks. In reality, it was just a handful of college and townie punks, a quarter of whom were there for the opening local band and a quarter of whom were members of the other bands. It was a very chill scene. How chill was it? NOTS’ bassist was casually just writing in a journal at the bar while the other bands played. I was with my sister, and although it was a Sunday, being someone with no job, I had several beers and got tipsy. It was a thoroughly enjoyable night and here’s a little bit about each band that played that night:

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FIVE DAYS ON FIRE!

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.

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Literally, Everyone is Afraid

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.

Iowa City: An Oasis Amongst the Cornfields

Is weird. I think I think this about almost every place I go. That wherever I am is a weird place, but for a different reason.

For one thing, the municipal seal says: “City of Iowa City” and I think that’s ridiculous. But moreso I found it interesting to ponder the ecology of the city; it’s demographics and economics. It’s a college town. It probably only really exists now because it’s a college town. So it swells pregnant with the weight of tens of thousands of students for 9 months out of the year and contracts into a sort of reverse hibernation in the summer. When I was there for the month of October, I saw signs in almost every shop/cafe/bar/restaurant looking for new workers (I assume students) to handle the presumably increasing amount of business (also, I assume, due to the influx of students).

I sat in an industrially decorated sandwich place adjacent to a hardware store, eating sweet potato fries and writing postcards when I overheard the staff chatting about picking up additional part time jobs now that other shops were hiring again. They complained about the students who were hired but then quit within weeks because they couldn’t handle their jobs in addition to their schoolwork. And I remarked on how interesting the mix of people in Iowa City are – students, academic faculty, support staff, townies – all shopping at the HyVee, objectively America’s greatest grocery store.

To me, Iowa City also felt weird because it was an oasis of “culture” amongst the cornfields. Every day I worked for several hours in a “hip” coffeeshop called High Ground. I’ve yet to find another shop (IN ALL OF THE WORLD!) so conducive to my mental work processes. Ten percent of the baristas had alternative hair styles (dyed, shaved) and one-hundred percent had tattoos. Down the street sits an arts collective (Public Space One) that hosts printmaking (among other creative endeavors) workshops and afrofuturists in residence.

I felt like I could live in Iowa City for a long time because of the HyVee and the variety of arts and music without the chaos that accompanies large cities. Literally what more could you need?

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