Monday, June 29, 2009


Let us Now Praise Famous Men/Recess in the Afterlife

Michael Jackson is dead. God is dead. Maman est mort. A friend reminded me of a beautiful day last summer. We were at Brooklyn's Havana Outpost, an outdoor venue brimming with idyllic diversity to the extent that it feels like a set. A series of Micheal Jackson videos came on via projector as soon as the sun dimmed; with them an air of digital serendipity sent the whole outpost into slurred, ecstatic renderings of MJ's lyrics and dances. We were in a classic pop-trance. The park benches that had been seats turned into stages and the stages into safe bootleg opportunities to displace our obsessions onto our entertainment.

My friend's message/reminder read 'Alas, Poor Michael... remember watching his videos in Brooklyn...' echoing the polemical James Baldwin essay about Richard Wright "Alas, Poor Richard." This has me thinking, what would James Baldwin say of Michael Jackson, to eulogize him and just in general what would he say of the martyr in my eyes, summer in my eyes, child with slow songs in his cameras, chills in his eyes, fast lens in his songs. I am working on a piece, text with audio accompaniment, that explores this. Michael Jackson as eulogized by James Baldwin. The piece will serve as a collaboration between the two men, an attempt at capturing the places where they overlap, jumping over their shadows into the practical obscurity of their less distorted demeanors. It will also function as an imagined outcome, for both Baldwin and Jackson. Let us now let famous men--out
of our selfish low-fidelity fantasies, out toward their own

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Aimé Césaire

 'At the end of daybreak. . .
Beat it, I said to him, you cop, you lousy pig, beat it,
I detest the flunkies of order and the cockchafers of hope.
Beat it, evil grigri, you bedbug of a petty monk. Then I turned
toward paradises lost for him and his kin, calmer than the face
of a woman telling lies, and there, rocked by the flux of a
never exhausted thought I nourished the wind, I unlaced the
monsters and heard rise, from the other side of disaster, a
river of turtledoves and savanna clover which I carry forever
in my depths height-deep as the twentieth floor of the most
arrogant houses and as a guard against the putrefying force
of crepuscular surroundings, surveyed night and day by a cursed
venereal sun.

At the end of daybreak burgeoning with frail coves, the hungry
Antilles, the Antilles pitted with smallpox, the Antilles dyn-
amited by alcohol, stranded in the mud of this bay, in the dust
of this town sinisterly stranded.

At the end of daybreak, the extreme, deceptive desolate eschar
on the wound of the waters; the martyrs who do not bear witness;
the flowers of blood that fade and scatter in the empty wind
like the screeches of babbling parrots; an aged life mendacious-
ly smiling, its lips opened by vacated agonies; an aged poverty
rotting under the sun, silently; an aged silence bursting with
tepid pustules,
the awful futility of our raison d'être.

At the end of daybreak, on this very fragile earth thickness
exceeded in a humiliating way by its grandiose future--the vol-
canoes will explode, the naked water will bear away the ripe
sun stains and nothing will be left but a tepid bubbling pecked
at by sea birds--the beach of dreams and the insane awakening.

At the end of daybreak, this town sprawled-flat, toppled from
its common sense, inert, winded under its geometric weight of
an eternally renewed cross, indocile to its fate, mute, vexed
no matter what, incapable of growing with the juice of this
earth, self-conscious, clipped, reduced, in breach of fauna
and flora.' -Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The double royalty of past and future

'Our century has apparently spent the best part of its time being no more than the future--the nightmare-- of the previous one. It has only just caught up with itself, by identifying with the century to come. This two-hundred year gap is the time it has taken to get rid of the revolution, to destroy the royal aspect of politics and the revolutionary aspect of its destruction, and so to enter a homogeneous time...' -Jacques Ranciere

They are Farmers/I am a Thief

And my run-on reaction

Being someone who is mildly addicted to memory, especially predictive memory which I believe is the stuff of wisdom/timelessness/redistribution, the way that Etheridge Knight is able to collapse physical, palpable addiction into an ever-skipping journey across the distance we invent between our subjectivity and our physical world in order to remember things in a way that is correct without being stiflingly accurate or precise enough to negate all that is rugged and fractally patterned about personal experience...reminds me how satisfying and thorough human relationships become when we allow them each and individually, that diaramic presence of their own unique world. This poem is its own village, delicate enough to turn the literal into a home for the surreal. This is an archive/this is not exactly an archive/this is an active disappearance/this is a wildly passive eternity. This might be my favorite poem. Here's the text:


Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black
faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-
fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews. They stare
across the space at me sprawling on my bunk. I know
their dark eyes, they know mine. I know their style,
they know mine. I am all of them, they are all of me;
they are farmers, I am a thief, I am me, they are thee.

I have at one time or another been in love with my mother,
1 grandmother, 2 sisters, 2 aunts (1 went to the asylum),
and 5 cousins. I am now in love with a 7-yr-old niece
(she sends me letters in large block print, and
her picture is the only one that smiles at me).

I have the same name as 1 grandfather, 3 cousins, 3 nephews,
and 1 uncle. The uncle disappeared when he was 15, just took
off and caught a freight (they say). He's discussed each year
when the family has a reunion, he causes uneasiness in
the clan, he is an empty space. My father's mother, who is 93
and who keeps the Family Bible with everbody's birth dates
(and death dates) in it, always mentions him. There is no
place in her Bible for "whereabouts unknown."


Each fall the graves of my grandfathers call me, the brown
hills and red gullies of mississippi send out their electric
messages, galvanizing my genes. Last yr/like a salmon quitting
the cold ocean-leaping and bucking up his birth stream/I
hitchhiked my way from LA with 16 caps in my pocket and a
monkey on my back. And I almost kicked it with the kinfolks.
I walked barefooted in my grandmother's backyard/I smelled the
land and the woods/I sipped cornwhiskey from fruit jars with the
I flirted with the women/I had a ball till the caps ran out
and my habit came down. That night I looked at my grandmother
and split/my guts were screaming for junk/but I was almost
contented/I had almost caught up with me.
(The next day in Memphis I cracked a croaker's crib for a fix.)

This yr there is a gray stone wall damming my stream, and when
the falling leaves stir my genes, I pace my cell or flop on my bunk
and stare at 47 black faces across the space. I am all of them,
they are all of me, I am me, they are thee, and I have no children
to float in the space between.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Favela Addendum

To follow up a bit on Harmony's last post, we are not attempting to aestheticize, or to offer sober, moral correctives on discourses of global ghettos.

We are simply trying to articulate an ongoing series of questions: what do slums and favelas make and allow us to dream, and what are the relations of those dreams to collective and individual desire? What does the incredibly intense nature of hyperurban formations do to the production of peoples, both those that exist and those yet to come? How can we think slumjectivities in ways that are not entirely predicated on ideas about resistance and bare life? In a way that doesn't try to posit slums on some 'outside,' outside of capitalism or economy, but that traces all the microeconomies that rise, ivy-like, around the cracks.

What is the subjectivity not just of the people that inhabit slums, but of the slums themselves? How do they speak?

It appears possible to us that the ruinious and intricate materialities of slums resonate across time and memory with other sorts of ruins (and possibly that ruins are the slums of a future collapsed on the present), the ruins of social and political movements which populate the margins of history. We are constantly asking, what can be recovered? What possibilities and affinities are made available again?

We are asking: without succumbing to otherness, to slum chic, what kind of living archive of the possible are slums and favelas currently forming?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It furthers one to have a place to go

Here begins what will be an ongoing meditation on the Favelas, on the brilliant, austere decadence of their oppressed and intrepid occupants, on the hypocritical taboo of both witnessing and not witnessing in cases of forced geographical seclusion, on community music that does not loom in the stupor of fame, or does it, does not pertain to income or diminish into genre, or does it. I'm wondering why the rhetoric of discovery is continually re-applied to inveterate geographies/societies, and if it's as much to spread awareness as to spread biases. The trappings of empathy: always ahead of itself telepathically, always trailing its catalyst with that needy savior sheen in its catchy eyes. There is no safe way to discuss that which is not yours, hence appropriation for the sake of credibility/celebrity is a common practice among actors and activists. There is no safe way claim something as entirely your own either, hence, so what? Not exactly so what, more at so what makes anyone think he owns land besides the antonym of safety. A syllogism for landlords demands violence/as long as there are conflicts there will be landlords to annex wars into buildings, to consolidate workers into flocks and fighters so that they may work like a nexus of soldiers, so that they may fight like oppressed workers. I suppose it is an abstract crime, then, to abstract music from the favelas direct into danceclubs and leave the favelas' residents in obscurity. Or is it a good deed. Or benign. Why are we eligible listeners/consumers of a music whose contexts our maps won't even enter, in any event? Are there times when making something available for disparate interpretation destroys its purpose, or is this a naive and antique view of ritual/justice, misapplied to a modern exchange of entertainment for understanding...

Here he Sings, Here he Sobs (A Rent Poem)

like a child, says I feel like tears instead of I feel like crying

His fractal-tilted head
, on brick castanets, observes fat clouds like critics rowdy with apocalypse the width of blacks' lips hovering over fast youth, fast math, crop acoustics of cruising, so demure, clean enough to sort into profit-roosters in a cathedral who fear their wives some kind of celibacy, celibate kindness that gladhands treat as lack or order, chivalry- Immaculate rumors about more earth retracted, for Octavia, in the name of limits, scrawny infinity, didactic take-back three Octaves, Monopoly applied to muses, brave thugs, her husbands Here he plays the drum, here he places the drum like a trapdoor/daughter in his lap Restlessly the night closes like a trapdoor opposed to secrecy as soloists/ close sleepers, moving closer to one another, keeping warm, shuddering, tucking, total, in that we all know there will never be peace It furthers one to have a place to be I feel like a hero for knowing you It furthers one to have a hero who feels like knowing, you, just some place

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why Are the Iranians Dreaming Again?

[From Ali Alizadeh (by way of Infinite Thought), Researcher at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University]

This piece is copyright-free. Please distrbute widely.

Iran is currently in the grip of a new and strong political movement. While this movement proves that Ahmadinejad’s populist techniques of deception no longer work inside Iran, it seems they are still effective outside the country. This is mainly due to thirty years of isolation and mutual mistrust between Iran and the West which has turned my country into a mysterious phenomenon for outsiders. In this piece I will try to confront some of the mystifications and misunderstandings produced by the international media in the last week.

In the first scenario the international media, claiming impartiality, insisted that the reformists provide hard objective evidence in support of their claim that the June 12 election has been rigged. But despite their empiricist attitude, the media missed obvious facts due to their lack of familiarity with the socio-historical context. Although the reformists could not possibly offer any figures or documents, because the whole show was single-handedly run by Ahmadinejad’s ministry of interior, anyone familiar with Iran’s recent history could easily see what was wrong with this picture.

It was the government who reversed the conventional and logical procedure by announcing a fictitious total figure first – in four stages – and then fabricating figures for each polling station, something that is still going on. This led to many absurdities: Musavi got less votes in his hometown (Tabriz) than Ahmadinejad; Karroubi’s total vote was less than the number of people active in his campaign; Rezaee’s votes were reduced by a hundred thousand between the third and fourth stages of announcement; blank votes were totally forgotten and only hastily added to the count when reformists pointed this out; and finally the ratio between all candidates’ votes remained almost constant in all these four stages of announcement (63, 33, 2 and 1 percent respectively).

Moreover, as in any other country, the increase in turnout in Iran’s elections has always benefitted the opposition and not the incumbent, because it is rational to assume that those who usually don’t vote, i.e. the silent majority, only come out when they want to change the status quo. Yet in this election Ahmadinejad, the representative of the status quo, allegedly received 10 million votes more than what he got in the previous election.

Finally, Ahmadinejad’s nervous reaction after his so-called victory is the best proof for rigging: closing down SMS network and the whole of country’s mobile phone network, arresting more than 100 leading political activists, blocking access to Musavi’s and many other reformists’ websites and unleashing violence in the streets...But if all this is not enough, the bodies of more than 17 people who were shot dead and immediately buried in unknown graves should persuade all those “objective-minded” observers.

In the second scenario, gradually unfolding in the last few days, the international media implicitly shifted its attention to the role of internet and its social networking (twitter, facebook, youtube, etc). This implied that millions of illiterate conservative villagers have voted for Ahmadinejad and the political movement is mostly limited to educated middle classes in North Tehran. While this simplified image is more compatible with media’s comfortable position towards Iran in the last 30 years, it is far from reality. The recent political history of Iran does not confirm this image. For example, Khatami’s victory in 1997, despite his absolute lack of any economic promises and his focus instead on liberal civic demands, was made possible by the polarization of society into people and state. Khatami could win only by embracing people from all different classes and groups, villagers and urban people alike.

There is no doubt that new media and technologies have been playing an important role in the movement, but it seems that the cause and the effect are being reversed in the picture painted by the media. First of all, it is the existence of a strong political determination, combined with people becoming deprived of basic means of communication, which has led the movement to creatively test every other channel and method. Musavi’s paper was shut down on the night of election, his frequent request to talk to people on the state TV has been rejected, his official website is often blocked and his physical contact with his supporters has been kept minimum by keeping him in house arrest (with the exception of his appearance on the over a million march on June 15).

Second, due to the heavy pressure on foreign journalists inside Iran, these technological tools have come to play a significant role in sending the messages and images of the movement to the outside world. However, the creative self-organization of the movement is using a manifold of methods and channels, many of them simple and traditional, depending on their availability: shouting ‘death to dictator’ from rooftops, calling landlines, at the end of one rally chanting the time and place of the next one, and by jeopardizing oneself by physically standing on streets and distributing news to every passing car. The appearance of the movement which is being sold by the media to the western gaze – the cyber-fantasy of the western societies which has already labelled our movement a twitter revolution, seems to have completely missed the reality of those bodies which are shot dead, injured or ready to be endangered by non-virtual bullets.

What is more surprising in the midst of this media frenzy is the blindness of the western left to the political dynamism and energy of our movement. The causes of this blindness oscillate between the misgivings about Islam (or the Islamophobia of hyper-secular left) and the confusion made by Ahmadinjead’s fake anti-imperialist rhetoric (his alliance with Chavez perhaps, who after all was the first to congratulate him). It needs to be emphasized that Ahmadinejad’s economic policies are to the right of the IMF: cutting subsidies in a radical way, more privatization than any other post-79 government (by selling the country to the Revolutionary Guards) and an inflation and unemployment rate which have brought the low-income sections of the society to their knees. It is in this regard that Musavi’s politics needs to be understood in contradistinction from both Ahmadinejad and also the other reformist candidate, i.e. Karroubi.

While Karroubi went for the liberal option of differentiating people into identity groups with different demands (women, students, intellectuals, ethnicities, religious minorities, etc), Musavi emphasized the universal demands of ‘people’ who wanted to be heard and counted as political subjects. This subjectivity, emphasized by Musavi during his campaign and fully incarnated in the rallies of the past few days, is constituted by political intuition, creativity and recollection of the ‘79 revolution (no wonder that people so quickly reached an unexpected maturity, best manifested in the abstention from violence in their silent demonstrations). Musavi’s ‘people’ is also easily, but strongly, distinguished from Ahmadinejad’s anonymous masses dependent on state charity. Musavi’s people, as the collective appearing in the rallies, is made of religious women covered in chador walking hand in hand with westernized young women who are usually prosecuted for their appearance; veterans of war in wheelchairs next to young boys for whom the Iran-Iraq war is only an anecdote; and working class who have sacrificed their daily salary to participate in the rally next to the middle classes. This story is not limited to Tehran. Shiraz (two confirmed dead), Isfahan (one confirmed dead), Tabriz, Oroomiye are also part of this movement and other cities are joining with a predictable delay (as it was the case in 79 revolution).

History will prove who the real participants of this movement are but once again we are faced with a new, non-classical and unfamiliar radical politics. Will the Western left get it right this time?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Divine Horsemen, Maya Deren

The narration needs a remix but the vision still cuts through.

Tri-Axium Writings, Anthony Braxton, Stellar Countercartographies

Read the first volume

'For the most basic understanding of creativity perpetuated in this time zone seeks to accent the entertainment or spectical value of a given projection, rather than what that same projection might
mean in its cosmic vibrational sense (as pertaining to either its mystical, spiritual or positive functional value).'

John Akomfrah, 'The Very Tools of Form Do Violence'

John Akomfrah in Conversation with Alan Marcus from Peacock Visual Arts on Vimeo.

Maria Bethânia c. 1968

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gentle Explosions of Gold/The Voice of Lee Fields, and the Expressions

See this live at Southpaw tonight in Brooklyn, New York.

...And, Some Hyperpoetics for Lee Fields' Honey Dove:

Clues at the end of a Backwards Odyssey/Premonition

That this is the beauty between hurt and an invincible nature

That this is the crowded lateral hue between anonymity and debut
Two storefronts, four houses, and the lamplight pulses like wounded honey

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sweet Double Hipness

The following account of genius bassist Charles Mingus' eviction sparks in me more delirium than fury. Productive delirium because it makes me want to breach my own associations with something more accurate, or to collapse footage into them, or to redistribute these associations across new territory, thus altering that territory so that I may remain, in tact. The clip sent me on a journey into a new idiom, the hyper-poem, or a (hyper)poetics that addresses the grotesque amount of unaccounted for information on the Internet by uniting phrases within a poem with 'hyperlinks' until the overlap becomes so senseless, sharp, and impacted that a chaotically lucid call and response emerges which I treat like an index of associations or an archive or a map/amp of thought into phrasal action. Part of reading these poems is engaging their multifarious links and biases. Eventually they will evolve into soundpieces that function as an amalgam of the text and the indexing. Language is both vivified and emptied by the process of writing and sounding out these poems, words humbled by the editorial, meta-ethereal desire behind them. For example: A clean black man in a numb cadillac driving down the rent

The Earliest Hyper Poetics (A Rent Poem)

(Song of Concern) /(Critics like Cities)

The hippest branch of ritual or fame yields to the built in dangers of comfort.

It's not stealing to see a cane break from a city slum
or finesse the sugar from a barren shore

The brutality of closeness
is that we are not meant to climb into the same joke about the gainless celebration of pitch or the radical archive sitting uncollected and literal in your

lap that
sip which brings you laughing to the next duty or rule so fast did it ever happen Even drastic camouflaged maps of the tenements that have landed in fancy burntbrick buildings do not consider the most meaningful and prude attempts at shield
all around me Enclosure shortcut to being in a moment is to being in an Alan Lomax tune about tenure the clowns and count me his round humming counting money cake punch and sage beneath my houseshoes and braiding together the keep we've made a reassortment of ourselves called witnesses showing up as critical to your showing you up This is the fun and the damage and the movement and the planed, inevitable I can't anymore and so I pretend not to want something in order to have it and I'm cool and I'm more black lonely and this is my kind gathering around the calendar to make a home in numbers you heard recited from an auction where they might have sold all your things right then if you hadn't installed this moment in their panel like land

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009


Nonstophome was founded by Brian Rogers and Harmony Holiday as curatorial & solidarity collective, whose work deals in archival materials, postcolonial movements, and sonic and textual countercartographies. We have chosen as our inaugural document a call for the reanimation of the Harlem House Rent Party, as well as the creation of a living archive of the evicted. Our book, "And it has these Frontiers" is forthcoming in 2009. Nonstophome will be leading workshops in listening/ sonic-perceptual geographies at the Public School in Los Angeles this summer. Additionally, this site will act as a daily media feed.

A Call for the Reanimation of the House Rent Party

ur provocation is to effect the reactivation of the House Rent Party, born of the Harlem Renaissance. Most famously described by Langston Hughes in The Simple Stories, House Rent Parties were thrown in cities by migrants from the south as a way of raising rent funds for members of the community who were continually exploited by employers, landlords, and merchants.

Has there ever a been moment that lacked a surplus working class?
In an asymmetrical urban game of affordance, black workers often could not afford rent, and thus the city could not afford them. House Rent Parties became a sort of guerrilla social welfare, a space made for the recovery of space, of shelter. Dancing, drinking, eating, singing conjured micropolitical solidarity amid the inhumane forces of late capital.

With the end of Prohibition, counter-intuitively, unless you consider the coercive relationship between legality, profit, and black market economies, it became too risky to serve alcohol in private homes and the rich tradition of the House Rent Party all but dissolved. The dismissal of such a prominent yet exclusive institution did not coincide with the end of the outrageous rents and no-where-near living wages that render city life a sacrifice many make for a false sense of access/ relief/ communion/space.

A relatively passive labor force is one blatant consequence of the end of this tradition of casual yet causal innovation, and today even most leisure is a form of displacement (often sensational and homogeneous, numbing our once ripe and more vividly desperate imaginations to the dire and dear alternatives).
We seek to replace yesterday's House Rent Party with the today's House Rent Party in order to remind ourselves and our communities that a large component of our power rests in what we do with our 'free time.' Leisure, a colonially vilified form of accessing the justice that is creativity. In choosing to curate our own events in our own spaces and nominate our own entertainment, we are doing more than making a statement about our desire to divorce ourselves from some of the most salient and pernicious glands of capital (those that profit from our need to socialize, cathart). We are demonstrating our own terms.

Our House Rent Parties will happen at the beginning of each month and the proceeds will go toward rents for community members, musicians, artists, afterschool programs, etcetera, which are being threatened with eviction or subdued for fear of loss of funding and resultant eviction.
That said, our goal is also fun and merriment. We watch the city and marvel at the loads a body bears: and we ask: what do they receive in return for their motion?

Musicians will play on the floor at these parties, in the center of the room, and around them will develop a benevolent audial centrifuge.
A people's acoustics.

The home is a venue, dreams of just futures are first improvised there, and we ask if those without the assurance of shelter are not forced into pseudo futures: without shelter, a decadence of the heart threatens the imagination: to allow precarity and contingency to rot the planks of base survival is to wage total war on present future and past, ethic, and personality, to disallow the creation of the archives of memory. Collective memory must not be annexed for the sake of efficency. Listening to music is a collectivity, sound bodies are continually passing through you: to listen or dance in a group is to summon and produce the kinetic, to resist the threat of a collective forgetfulness. We do these things for our enjoyment as well as to limit our consumption of inorganic materials. And it is through these and other sources that we are attempting to form a complicity with non-cognitive aspects of the city.

Let us further examine the word venue by way of its function as a conjugate of the French verb
venir: to come: and establish the home as a venue in every sense, as place to come to and come from, and a recombinant place such that 'venue' has come to suggest, a place where events are 'held,' more at suspended. We want to remind ourselves that the home does not need to be outsourced to commercial spaces or formal 'venues,' in the name of social activity or revenue or accumulation. In order to restore the privacy and primacy of our homes we will open them for and against their own disappearance, like atoms.