it’s here it’s here it’s here it’s here!
Download link at the bottom. Pay what you like 🙂
it’s here it’s here it’s here it’s here!
Download link at the bottom. Pay what you like 🙂
Check out my new single! Hot off the press…
The new EP “I Wouldn’t Worry” drops Wednesday 🙂
omg omg omg omg omg omg
i finally got my very own monthly spot at the boom boom room, one of my favorite spots to play in san francisco! so here’s the thing though: they gave me two months to start. wednesday feb. 5th and wednesday march 5th. i gotta prove i got peeps, and then they might give me a whole year! woo hoo!
this has been a dream of mine for a looooong time. this will be my night where i can workshop new ideas, re-arrange songs with new lineups and collaborations, work with dancers, light designers, djs, emcees, vocalists, musicians, the works! i intend to pour all of the performance ideas that have built up over the years into this event to make sure that each month, something super special is hatched just for you guys.
february 5th will feature legendary one-man band and loop guitar pioneer, the genie. this guy’s dope. if you haven’t seen him… dude, just check him out, he’s amazing.
in addition, the night will always be closed out by my awesome best friends, JK47, rad DJs with impeccable taste that will you keep you dancing late night.
this is really my gift to you guys. the night is totally free! your gift to me is just coming out and enjoying yourselves.
see you february 5th!
sometimes it is sooooooo hard to keep a straight face while telling a sixth grader to be quiet, especially when what they are supposed to be listening to is possibly the least important presentation they will ever hear. i’ve shown up just in time to participate in their community meeting. the topic this week: dress code.
the administrator has put together a lovely powerpoint presentation for the fifth and sixth graders, with pictures of shirts tucked in, shoelaces tied, and a demonstration of the stark contrast between a boy with a hat on, and his hat taken off. see how he’s taken the hat off? yes. i do see. the hat is off now. god. i’m DYING to check my smartphone and see if something interesting has happened. actually, i would take anything at this point. any status update, any e-mail, anything at all to break up the banality of this guy’s voice.
which is why i can’t in good conscience come down too hard on these children who have already sat through about 20 minutes of this heroically and who are finally reaching their breaking point. their shoulders are moving. they’re starting to hang their teeth off the backs of their chairs, experiment with what the world looks like upside down, pluck at the headbands of those around them… anything. they’re getting desperate.
the crowd has started chit chatting. “excuse me.” the administrator says dryly. he waits an unwise amount of time with an unwise amount of uncertainty as to what response he’s expecting from that ‘excuse me.’ the chattering continues. he looks around stoically. “if i need to do a count-down, that’s five minutes from your recess.” i look at the kids and i see literal physical pain on their faces. the last thing they want is time off their recess, yet they don’t know how much longer they can take without some kind of stimulation. they scrunch their eyebrows and kick their legs, trying to send the inconvenient energy and curiosity out through their toes.
he’s moved on to the slide about “professional day.” “can someone tell me what professional day is?” a small girl towards the front raises her hand. “yes, young lady.” some imperceptible amount of sound comes from up front and he asks her to stand up. she meekly scratches her head while she begins an admirable attempt at addressing the entire school for, maybe her first time. “um… well, professional, professional day. it’s, um… when, like, the rest of the days? cause you have to wear your uniform usually? but on professional day? you don’t cause, um, it’s professional, like, so you have to wear different. you have to dress different on that day.” she quickly sits.
“ok,” the administrator says. “cara says you dress different on professional day. do you all agree with her?” the kids aren’t sure if they’re supposed to talk. a few say yes. a few others slowly nod. still more look like they’re about to cry. “excuse me. i asked if you all agree with her.” a few more say yes. “that’s better. ok. so, if it’s true that we dress differently on professional day, why is that we dress differently that day?” a few brave, or maybe just bored, souls raise their hands. “yes, young man.” he says to a boy up front.
“professional day is when you wear suits and look professional like you were going to a job interview or an interview for college so that you can learn what it’s like to be professional.” i let out a sigh of relief that’s slightly too loud. i think for a moment that this child has just succeeded in saying everything that needs saying about professional day and that we can now move on to another, possibly more interesting topic, like, maybe, the types of hair accessories allowed on campus. but the administrator is not so easily thrown. “young man, that was a very good answer, but i asked why do we have professional day?” i’m totally at a loss. i thought for sure this prodigy just answered that very question. he raises his eyebrows in nervousness. he’s drawing a blank. what did he miss?
“we have professional day because that’s the day the upper school has college day, and we’re preparing you for college day.” oh. i see. this kid jumped the gun. he forgot that middle school is actually just preparation for high school, and that everything they teach you is in order to make it easier for your highschool teachers to control you. what he doesn’t know is that he’ll actually need to unlearn all of this by the time he applies to college if he wants to have a prayer of seeming like an individual thinker. here’s the lesson, kid. here’s what this whole assembly is about. don’t get ahead of yourself, and don’t think too deep. focus on the rules, and the small world that forms your school. don’t think outside of this little learning factory. you won’t be ready for that until you’re good and broken in and ready to follow the rules.
“so, what types of clothes are acceptable on professional day?” asks the administrator as he clicks to a new slide showing pictures of men taken from catalogs, all wearing sports coats, collared shirts, ties, etc… one by one children raise their hands and guess parts of the dress code for professional day. i am in absolute agony. the boredom i feel is bringing me right back to childhood, waiting for my mom to finish a parent-teacher conference while i sat in the lobby thinking, jeeeeeeeeeez this is taking a long time, practicing the utmost will power to keep from running circles in the lobby, tearing all the art off the walls and making confetti with it. except now i have something easier to gratify my excess energy which is a smartphone, and i know it holds all of the answers to every negative emotion i’m feeling right now; distraction, social interaction, new information. and it’s just sitting there, burning a hole in my pocket. i need it. i need to look at it. no! definitely not. i’m supposed to be modeling for these kids how to pay attention, and looking at my smartphone is an absolutely unacceptable example to set. so i try to focus on the kids, since the presentation isn’t going to do anything to hold my interest.
what i see really kind of breaks my heart. the kids have gone past their breaking point and they have regressed into zombie-like infants. pulling on their tongues and lips, rolling their eyes maniacally. they’ve lost it. well, i don’t know what they’ll learn later today, but at least they’re docile.
this article was published in the newsletter for the jewish peace fellowship in the may issue of their newsletter, “shalom”
read it here on their website, or read it below…
1-5-13: Day three of Birthright, Negev desert
It’s a meditation exercise to sit on the ground and imagine how supported you are. But sitting here, in the desert in the Negev, you don’t feel supported by the earth, you feel engulfed by it. Like it might crack open and swallow you at any moment in its teeming, shifting crust. The shadows of the clouds are massive countries super-imposed on the yellow-brown sand like oil slicks, and the clouds themselves move like steamboats, slowly, but perceptively through the vast ocean of this massive sky. They’re not so much mountains, but rather, harsh scabs on the arms of war, wounds that don’t heal but merely change form. This place offers nothing like the mothering comfort one feels in the dank and mushroomy cocoon of the redwood forests of my native California. It offers only you, alone with yourself and the knowledge that others have also known solitude and survived, regardless.
At this point, most people who are at all interested in Israel are familiar with Birthright, the free 10-day tour of Israel provided to young Jews from around the world. The pro-Zionist lobby hails it as a fantastic success story; an incredible opportunity for young people to get in touch with their Jewish ancestry, feel connected to Jews their own age, and gain an appreciation for Israel. Those on the left who are critical of Israel tend to view it as a terrifying source of propaganda and brainwashing that uses creepy forms of manipulation to make young Jews support Israeli policies, perhaps even to the point of “making Alliyah,” emigrating to Israel.
I certainly identify more with the latter category, which is why I had mixed feelings about attending Birthright in the first place. Not only did I not want to legitimize the idea that I actually had some kind of birthright to the land of Israel and Palestine just for being Jewish, but I was nervous that I would be forced into situations that would bother me, like having to sing along to lots of Jewish songs that I didn’t know, or cry about the Holocaust in some kind of ritualized group catharsis, or be surrounded by people who nodded vigorously when outrageously racist comments about Arabs were made. I decided to go for two main reasons: I had never spent any time around Zionists before, and I felt that it was important for me to try to understand their point of view and I wanted to go to Palestine afterwards, and I didn’t think it was likely that I would make it there if not for a free trip. So I hesitantly arrived at the LAX airport on January 1st, armed with an open and patient mind, took a deep breath, and hoped for the best.
My experience was complicated. I can’t say that what I went through amounted to brainwashing or propaganda, at least not in the traditional sense. I believe that part of the reason for this was the particular trip I was on; a niche trip, of which there are more and more. The group I participated in was the “outdoors” – themed East Bay trip. (East Bay refers to the Eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, which includes Oakland and Berkeley.) I actually believe there was more to this niche than we initially realized. Here’s an excerpt from my journey on the fifth day:
1-7-13: I’ve never been surrounded by so many atheists my own age. Who would have thought? Maybe it’s because Jews come around to secularism easier than Christians? And I’ve never really kicked it with a bunch of Jews before. How ironic that that’s how I ended up relating to my fellow Jews. That’s how I’ve found community amongst the Jewish people. Through atheism.
Even our tour guide was an “out” Atheist. I considered the possibility recently that we were all selected to be on this group together partly because we were either atheists or “spiritual.” I think that our American trip leaders were the only ones who were full-on religious Jews. So they avoided a lot of biblical talk that I’ve been warned about on Birthright. There was no reference to the “holy land” and they didn’t try to talk about the stories in the Bible as if they were real history. In fact, there was no reference to the Bible at all. It was like they knew that these triggers would immediately turn us off, so they avoided them.
Our tour guide was also very willing to admit that the Palestinians had some legitimate complaints. He didn’t get into any of them, but he didn’t vilify the Palestinians either. His attitude struck me as sort of a courageous but cynical libertarian, who mistrusted government of any kind, and who had a somewhat pessimistic view of humanity as a whole, but a strong sense of respect and integrity about the humans whose paths he crossed, including his “Arab friends” whom he mentioned vaguely on more than one occasion.
What it FELT like we were getting on this trip was a very a-political, fun, first-hand experience of Israel. Furthermore, as has been documented by other writers who attended Birthright, the social dynamics end up taking up a lot of your focus. First of all, each evening ends around 5 or 6pm and you’re not allowed to leave the hotel so there’s nothing to do but get drunk and hang out, a situation ripe for a regression to high school. Crushes develop, cliques form, some people struggle to make friends, gossip starts; what else are we going to do with our time? At a certain point on the trip, participants began to ask: Why can’t we have a structured conversation about Judaism or the Israel-Palestine conflict? A few evenings we were told that we would have some kind of group discussion, but nothing actually happened. This puzzled me until I read more about what others have written about Birthright. It’s apparently common practice for the organizers to avoid anything too heavy that might lead to critical thinking about Israel. They like to keep it light and fun while occasionally hinting at the tragic cross the Israelis have to bear by living in a war zone. By avoiding any kind of detailed discussion of the conflict, but keeping a hint of tragedy in the background, the organizers made it feel like our fun-loving attitude was courageous, rather than indulgent.
What was tricky about Birthright’s biased message was that it came in the form of omission, which is inherently hard to spot and even harder to criticize, especially when you’re tired and hung-over, and preoccupied with why your crush didn’t sit with you on the bus. My fatigue and social stimulation paired well with my decision to keep a low profile on the trip. I didn’t ruffle any feathers. I just enjoyed myself. And though my Pro-Palestinian views stayed intact, I didn’t feel particularly obliged to share them with anyone, unless I was talking to someone one-on-one.
But once you cross that wall into the occupied territories, you want to vomit up all the Kool-aid you realize that you’ve just swallowed over the past 10 days. I didn’t so much feel as if I’d been lied to; I just felt sheltered. The diary that I kept on my experience in Palestine has a totally different voice than the diary I kept while in Israel. It was as if I had been thrown head first into an urgent and tangible reality where what was happening around me mattered. Instead of extended soliloquies about my new friends or thoughts about home, I was writing pages and pages about the wall, villagers whose homes had been demolished, how the universities have to have their lab equipment smuggled in, what sustainable agriculture looks like in Palestine. I felt as if I had come out of a cocoon and realized that there were all these flowers that needed pollinating.
Returning to the U.S., with all my feelings of urgency and inspiration, I tried to pin down exactly which flowers were meant for me to pollinate. I’ve decided that I want to put my energy into helping Birthright participants get to Palestine. I feel strongly that young Jews need to visit Palestine, and though I obviously have my problems with Birthright, I think it’s a pretty amazing and informative trip to go on as well. This is why my recommendation for anyone considering a Birthright trip, from any political point of view at all, is to go on the trip. Enjoy it, get everything you can from it, but afterwards, visit Palestine. You won’t know that you’re in a container until you see what’s outside of it, and that it all begins with checking out the other side of that wall.
these badasses, fireflyforest crossed my path when i was on tour with my band, antioquia. i think their album deserves a grammy, honestly. the instrumentation is exquisite, the execution and production totally professional, yet innocent. this album, these artists, offer, they don’t demand. there’s a humility and a playfulness that is heartbreaking. this song in particular gets me every time. enjoy.
just quickly.. more fun facts innocently omitted from the birthright tour! remember sderot? it was built on the palestinian village of najd. the palestinians were driven out of that village and into gaza. so when you form a mental image of gazans brutally firing rockets on the people of sderot, add to your mental image that they used to be the people of sderot.