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Apple Picking: Kids stealing your iPhone while you talk on it in Oakland

Holy crap. I just tried to stop a crime in progress about half an hour ago. I saw a young woman walking toward me on Telegraph in Temescal neighbourhood of Oakland. Broad daylight. Mid-afternoonShe was carrying some yoga mats and agitated and asking people to stop this kid on a bike that just was going by so I ran into the street after him. He’d grabbed her iphone. It’s happening a lot here. Someone told me the cops call it “Apple picking.” Something like 500x last year in a mile of that place. I ran after him and got my hand on the seat of the bike but just just missed a steady grip by about half a second. So now I now: never use earphone when walking around here or talk on my phone if people are around. I’ve heard too many stories and seen it myself now. I asked the coffee shop we were in front of- Arbor- to put up a sign to let people know. They said this happens all the time and that someone smashed in all the car windows the other day on the street. But they didn’t seem inclined to put up a sign.

It was weird that I didn’t even think about running after the kid. I only just got here from being back in Canada recently and it took a few minutes before I remembered that most American of words: gun.

What if that kid had a gun? Was I an idiot for running after him? He just seemed like a kid, maybe 12 maybe as old as 15 and he seemed harmless. But no matter how small or unlikely the situation it’s a possibility in America. A bad possibility. One that I regret. Like I said to the people when I was out of breath from chasing him and then remembered guns. “Let people make their mistakes with knives. Or nothing.”

If you know anyone in Oakland please spread the word. I only knew to run after this kid and to put my phone away because I’d heard about this as a thing that is happening all the time. Don’t walk around with your iphone visible. Plus then we can actually have time to notice and smile at each other.

Update August 8th: I’ve just learned that a friend. A 6’2″ tall friend was kicked in the eye the other night in San Francisco in order to take his phone. He just posted this to Facebook:

Please tell people they shouldn’t kick another person in the eye. Also, please tell people who have a say in the economy that a system in which inequalities continue to grow and rents keep rising makes it more likely that someone who is 6’2″ might be kicked in the eye in exchange for a cell phone that can be sold on the street.

I have loved living in both the US and in Canada but this is the first moment I’ve asked myself whether or not it’s really possible to keep doing so.

Joni Mitchell is my art teacher

“One slap on the wrist for playing by ear and I went underground for 10 years.” Joni Mitchell played music when she was very young and then a piano teacher smacked her with a ruler (not an unusual practice at the time) when she began to play by ear at one lesson rather than “have the masters under [her] fingers] as she reported in her CBC interview. That shaming and discouraging attitude and most of all the thinking and quibbling that comes with that way of interacting sent her creative self and spirit hiding underground. She didn’t try music again for 10 years. That’s what I take her to mean by what she talks about at 29:00 above when she discusses why she produced herself. I used to sit at the piano when I was very young and play my feelings. One of my clearest, purest emotional moments was there. Then my mum heard me and laughed at me or commented.
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The Disappearing Butch

A recent current affairs program on CBC Radio ran a general news story on The Disappearing Butch. And yes the Canadian government funds the wonderful CBC which I sometimes get to contribute to. I also get to end sentences with prepositions when I feel like it.

While this is a story I have seen some of from living in the queer community, I’m not used to seeing these bits of my life in the mainstream press. It’s sort of stunning to me. In a good way. In fact, it’s a moment for me. I’m realizing: I really don’t expect the general media or conversation to get it, see or even consider the reality of our lives. And I mean like even at the basic level or how many queer people see themselves. We pretty much just see a lot of what we get chunked as, databased as, filed away as. You know the central casting view of your life. Which, let’s face it, general media does to just about anyone. And this is stunning to me because my work is pretty much about creating and speaking to a larger audience/community. This shows me I’ve been assuming it’s not possible and that that is not a helpful assumption. I don’t have to stop at gay 101. I can just work from nuance and detail of the real stories and take people with me.

The US now has 13 states with same-sex marriage equality with just a few more than that banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

But I did hear that one of my favourite people in the world, who is almost 11 and a Californian, just had a lesson on gender at school based around questions like “What are things people say boys/girls don’t do? Is that true?”

And no, I don’t see myself as butch. But that doesn’t stop many people from presuming.

Taylor Negron distils Sandra Bernhard’s impact

Great piece by the wonderful comic, writer and director Taylor Negron which captures the best of Sandra Bernhard and her impact. Sandra’s work had a huge influence on me and it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be performing today if not for her groundbreaking solo show Without You I’m Nothing.

Like many innovators, much of what she did unique and edgy was rooted in the context of the time. Taylor Negron’s piece captures that beautifully. He’s a wonderful performer too. If you get a chance to see him live too, jump at it.

Toni Morrison explains Charlie Rose’s privilege to him. Slowly.

Toni Morrison patiently schooling Charlie Rose on privilege and offensive questions:

If I’m going to say when are you going to write about Black people to a white writer? If that’s a legitimate question to a white writer then it is a legitimate question to me? I just don’t think it is….As if our lives have no meaning without the white gaze.

The rhythm starts building into this at 2:47 but watch the whole thing. I especially like the raised brow when she says “journalist” to him. Her absolutely profound self-legitimacy of voice (among other things) is inspiring to me. Her standing in her self is beautiful. She holds the moment. She does not seek only to make him comfortable. She does not avoid what is at stake. She does not cede herself in explanation. She holds the space and it is the interviewer who must understand. Toni Morrison creates a very rare genuine moment on television. Video after the jump. I’m trying to keep the pages concise.

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Being laid back isn’t as easy as it looks.

April 24, 2013

Yesterday I met with some young entrepreneurs from France. They were nothing like the coneheads. They seemed more kind and soft and human than most young entrepreneurs I see around the Bay Area today. They were excited about their adventure; wanting to connect people and see the car sharing they organized as secondary. It seemed it was still an adventure to them and not a way to seem grown up or important or get wealthy as soon as possible. I took them to my favourite place in Potrero Hill which also happens to be French. But we had burgers. The best ones in San Francisco. The most interesting thing to me about their car sharing business is that people can choose to not charge someone for a ride. What does it mean when we don't charge each other? When do people need to value their work and time by asking for more and when do people discover there's something precious and new they can't get by charging and measuring every thing they do?

Dave Goebel and I worked on a play together recently. He was in the band. I really wanted a drumming lesson from the moment we started hanging out.

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Saying what you can’t do can help you do it.

I was just reading Austin Kleon’s lovely lovely blog, once again and so enjoying how he shares the process of how he works (not to mention the clean design which I always covet). And I am also loving the way Austin has stayed with it. I can see how it feeds him and anchors some of his process. He seems to have a few creative anchors (his notebooks for one). I do too and I’d like to begin sharing them.

I am resolved to blog more often. So I’m jumping right back in. But I’ll be honest: one of the the things that’s kept me from blogging more in the past is that I really want to make changes to this site. And I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

Sample of questions that have gone through my head on a regular basis:

  • how do I make the site more spacious?
  • how do I get to see a different font that I actually *like* when I write, on the back end?
  • how can I get a calendar up in the navigation so people can actually see my upcoming shows more easily
  • shouldn’t I want to spend more time on my site if I want others to join me here?
  • should I use Squarespace instead of WordPress?
  • Don’t I need to set up some kind of automatic back up process?
  • Do I need a separate site or just a page here to share the process of making my new show Everything Is Subject to Change

Ok. That’s a sampling. But I realize none of these questions (all of which remain unanswered) is helping me do the most important thing blogging can: regularly write in the open and stay connected to my own explorations. So, I’m just going to write posts. Perhaps they will be small ones. They probably should be small ones. But something regular to get my regular thoughts more shapely and more a part of the public conversation. I write and speak a great deal, but I’d like to have a more regular practice here. I’d also like to stay with myself a little more. I find that too much time on social media pages, while a wonderful way to be social, converse quickly and see new things, is also a way to not let my brain and body practice going much deeper into something. I do that for longer stories I’m telling on stage more and more often but then all my work can be ephemeral or on tape which remains unshared until it’s gone through and edited.

I’ve been running pretty regularly since 2010. With tiny, regular practice it’s become something I really look forward to. While I’ve written online in some form since before blogging software back in 1997, I haven’t been so regular at it since twitter and facebook have gotten much of my writing time.

And I’ve found that when I’m really really stuck. Just saying exactly what’s occurring to me out loud is a start. It’s also being with exactly what’s going on so it sort of tricks me into being in the present. And then, of course, I feel more relaxed and just fine, even if what I had to say isn’t the best work I’ve ever done. It’s a start. Now that I think back, it’s what I did with my very very first blog post a long time ago after talking with Jason Kottke about it.

 

 

 

 

 

2 Nights Only – Shotgun in Berkeley presents “I Look Like An Egg, but I Identify As A Cookie”

April 8th and 9th

8:00pm

Shotgun Players

1901 Shattuck Ave in Berkeley.

BUY TIX NOW

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Special guests April 8th: Bakesale Betty

April 9th: Brown Sugar Kitchen’s owner and chef Tanya Holland (maker of the best waffles in the world. I swear.)

Many thanks to sponsor: Fandalism

Oakland Press, Shotgun Players presents “Cookie” in Berkeley

Note: Tickets are now on sale for “Cookie” at Shotgun PLayers. 2 nights only April 8 + 9. “I Look Like An Egg, but I Identify As A Cookie” makes it’s E Bay debut, presented by the fantastic Shotgun Players who sell out all their shows. BUY TIX NOW

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The Oakland Local blog featured an interview with me today featuring my new show in development Everything Is Subject to Change

Also some big news: fabulous theatre that I’ve always wanted to play – Shotgun Players will bring my interactive baking comedy “I Look Like An Egg, but I Identify As A Cookie” back to the Bay Area on April 8th and 9th, 2013. Shotgun Players is an amazing theatre that has a huge following and sells out every show. They do really interesting stuff, really focus on younger and new audiences, keep tickets affordable and do unusually savvy stuff like repaint their entire building with a great design that goes with each major show in their season.

“Cookie” was named Best of the Bay when it originally played in the Bay Area and I’ve since baked over 50,000 chocolate chip cookies in it with people formerly known as the audience.

There are a few sponsorship opportunities to help back the production and after-show receptions and make sure everyone at the show gets fresh cookies. To sponsor “Cookie” please “>send inquiries here.

Redemption at the Polls: Obama’s 2012 re-election, 80s Identity Politics and the Tipping Point

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A lot of geek prayers were answered recently through geek statistical analysis by Nate Silver. He accurately predicted almost all the US election results and was dismissed for it by the Right, for his bewitching use of math because “Nobody knows anything.”

Nate Silver is a statistician taking on the job done before by pundits and experts who have been around the game a long time. He is quiet and nerdy and he bested them all. It’s exactly the story told in Moneyball (which is a great movie and an amazing book by Michael Lewis).

I was lucky to get a nerdy tour of Obama’s campaign headquarters when I was speaking at WebVisions in Chicago in October. (Many thanks to them for the tour and the above pic). Some of the people in our group who worked in UX (or user experience design) knew the Obama campaign’s head of UX. Obama’s HQ was full of old computer monitors propped on cardboard boxes for ergonomic help. There were huge numbers of young people editing video, designing sites, coding, making calls and designing all manner of posters which were all center justified and beautifully fonted (yes I made that word up and I like it). The posters and youthful environment felt like a Pride Parade organized by McSweeney’s smushed with a tech start up: Asian American Pacific Islanders for Obama, African Americans for Obama, LGBT Americans for Obama and so on.

It was a room full of true believers who were working their asses off. It reminded me of my brother who is an intense campaigner (he helped Canada’s Green Party leader Elizabeth May get elected and now runs Change.org campaigns in Canada) and it reminded me of myself in college and law school when I organized and worked fervently on feminist and progressive causes. I attended a rally for Jesse Jackson’s “Rainbow Coalition” back in the 80s when he ran for the Democratic nomination and it was dismissed as a political stunt and far-off, utopianism among naive students and wacko liberals. And it was easy to dismiss. The rally wasn’t very big, the speeches weren’t well-organized or confident and the most notable moment was one of my few out classmates throwing her bra onstage for the Indigo Girls. It was 1988. All of these different groups working together? They couldn’t stop arguing and all they wanted to do was compare their pain and oppression. A bunch of whiners.

Fast forward 24 years to last Tuesday and I’m at my nerd friends with a bunch of nerdy people of various races and sexualities and genders, many of whom work at tech start-ups and we’re taking photographs with our pocket computers of the High Definition television set of the results of incredibly well-organized, disciplined, grass roots campaign which had as its basic premise the reality that enough of us from all the hyphenated groups would matter and are of voting age that you could have enough votes to re-elect a Black and White President who supports the right to equal marriage.

And all 4 states with votes on gay marriage supported marriage equality.

And the first openly gay senator was elected. And the first Asian American woman senator.

And every politician who made insane comments about rape was defeated.

And the demographics show that the tipping point has happened. The electorate has moved toward amore diverse population and inclusive policies.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for the wake up call about the human cost of the “trickle down” economics and the playing to the religious right since Reagan, since I was a university student at Yale. That’s when identity politics was being mocked as official whining and it launched the career of many a disdainful, pithy writer (Katie Roiphe, Camille Paglia, Dinesh D’Souza I’m looking at you). And yeah the worst part of identity politics was and is the idea that feeling aggrieved is what you should lead with instead of what motivates you to lead. It took me many years to find that the theory you have about the world is just a feeling you have about your parents.

The best part of political correctness is the idea of consideration and respect for others who are different than you. The best part of identity politics is the notion that the reality of your lived experience informs your understanding of public needs and effective solutions.

And to have the best from these things combined with incredibly nerdy attention to detail and excitement about connecting with people is to re-elect Barak Obama.

To focus not only on what hurts, but to feel and acknowledge what hurts and then focussing on what *can* be done. This inspires me.



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