something beautiful

as part of my last night of a week of relaxation and dodging work, i just watched Raise the Roof [through that link; pw: movie], and you should too! i’ve known about the recreated painted ceiling of a wooden synagogue at the Polin museum in varshe/warszawa for as long as the museum’s been open (a bit under a decade, now), but i had no idea there was a film about the process of creating it. deep thanks to @shvlman of twitter – a badass visual artist and inveterate researcher of yiddish jewish visual culture – for pointing it out!

the film does something unusual: it documents the process of studying history through collective, participatory embodied practice, through the life of a ten-year research/building project that had the resources (by which i mean: funding) to be completed on a majestically ambitious scale.

Continue reading something beautiful

diasporic hebrew? diasporizing ivrit

a first line of thinking after reading maya rosen’s fascinating interview with tal hever-chybowski, published this week in Jewish Currents. to be clear, i like what THC (can i resist? no.) has to say a lot, and adore the cultural project he and his journal, Mikan Ve’eylakh [From Here Onwards], are pursuing. i’m thinking my way into the gaps i find in this interview because that helps me understand how it all fits into my own yiddish-anchored diasporist thinking.

Continue reading diasporic hebrew? diasporizing ivrit

when you say what the right says, you are the right

i’m always impressed at how often, and how consistently, liberals & progressives repeat right-wing marketing rhetoric as if it were not just true, but self-evident.

lately, i feel like i’ve heard these floating around (all bullshit invented in the late 1900s, some of it in my lifetime):

the right (or, sometimes, the far right) “moved from the margins to the center” between the 1960s and the 2000s. just absolute crap: if there’s one constant in u.s. politics since 1776, it’s the depth of white (especially wealthy white) support for the overtly white nationalist far right, which has never been separate from the rest of the u.s. right in anything but aesthetics.

the right used to have an intellectually rigorous, morally grounded wing that kept its less respectable side in check. bill buckley’s patrician accent doesn’t make what he said, wrote, believed, and advocated – and who he was allied with – any different from what you’re hearing from any other rabid death-cultist, from calhoun to cohn to roof.

the democratic party is in some way affiliated with the left. the least-justified fantasy since the faeries at the bottom of arthur conan doyle’s garden. perhaps such an alliance could could have been made at the 1964 democratic party convention, if it hadn’t refused to seat the multiracial Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation. it says everything you need to know that in ’68, when a not-lily-white delegation was seated, it no longer claimed to represent “freedom”: it was the “Loyal Democrats”. that loyalty – still driving electoral progressives near you! – is part of why we do need a name for identifying with people who are actively trying to kill you instead of folks trying to keep you alive (“stockholm syndrome” is a misogynist lie invented to curb criticism of the police).

the “elites” of our society are media workers and the professoriate (who’re supposedly liberal: also generally a lie), not the people with actual economic and political power (including the ones who own media corporations and control universities).

it’s more disappointing (if less common) for folks who’re actual radicals to do this, of course. in that zone, the one i see coming up all the time lately is this:

the right, or the far right, or some parts of the right, are “anti-state”. now, there is a small slice of the libertarian right that might in fact oppose state structures as such. but most libertarians, and all neocons, paleocons, and other rightwingers who use an “anti-government” rhetoric base their whole political program on the existence of the state. some don’t want the current state, based on the slaveowners’ constitution of 1787, but all of them are aiming to maintain, and to control, a hierarchical, centralized, territorial structure of rule that legitimizes violence (by its agents, its supporters, and at times others) in service of its policies. you can tell because they want borders, they want enforced order, and they want “free enterprise” to be “protected”. that, my friends, is a description of a state and its policies, not of an “anti-state” position.

aside from making me annoyed, when liberals, progressives, and radicals parrot these various lines of bullshit, it strengthens the right. it turns their lies into “common sense”. and it makes them harder to fight. don’t do it. talk with your friends who do. and treat any analysis based on this junk as what it is: a right-wing analysis that supports and assists the right, even – especially – when it comes from liberals & progressives.

lesbians, fascists, & Bears (o my!)

i just finished watching a 2015 anime series, and now i Have Thoughts.

none of this will make much sense to anyone who hasn’t watched Yurikuma Arashi – Love Bullet [“Lesbianbear Storm”], which i’m not going to try to explain because it would take about as long as watching it (~4 hours). yes, really: kunihiko ikuhara doesn’t really direct things that summarize properly (and the wikipedia page will hand you a ton of spoilers without really helping you make sense of what happens in the show – just like this little essay!).

Continue reading lesbians, fascists, & Bears (o my!)

outfit notes

well, after the first few weeks of Continuous Outfit – Altered Daily, a few things became clear. i’m only writing them up now because i’m bad at documentation, not because it took me this long to grasp them.


the most important was that my original understanding of the analogy the piece is making had been a bit off. i’d thought in terms of making consecutive alterations to one fixed set of garments, but hadn’t really considered how modular Continuous Project – Altered Daily was. but actual practice led me right back to a structure that’s much closer to rainer’s piece than what i had imagined before starting.

Continue reading outfit notes

continuing the outfit

some first realizations:

with daffodil photos to come!


i didn’t go out into the world much the first day or two: i was at home for my birthday after going to pick up my dairy & meat order, and then the next day was not so nice out. so it wasn’t till yesterday that i had the experience of going out into the world in the outfit and instantly knowing what the next few alterations would be. the capelet was absolutely right (and needed the tie-ribbons), but now i need arm- and leg-coverings, in a modular, removable way. so i’ll make some fake pants (just legs) and a linen garter belt. milo says the layers of linen straps of the underwear and garter belt will be fun; we’ll see. and perhaps the sleeves are a shrug, or perhaps armlets – maybe i have something (old socks-turned-armies?) i can just absorb.


what i’m wearing is far enough outside people’s experience that i don’t seem to be getting very active reactions (except from smaller kids, who are fascinated). i’m getting looks, but something about the look doesn’t seem to parse enough for a label to stick. the exception is a few young adults who i read as being more actively fashion-thinking types; they’re complimentary so far.


the underwear is definitely part of the outfit. partly it just feels like it: the kaftan is different with the sleeveless shift and the sleeved one, with the breechclout and the jock-style g-string. and partly thinking of it that way – with a layer of alterations that are most (or only) noticeable to me (and still make the outfit “noticeably changed”) – gives me more space to work longer and more thoughtfully on additions and changes.

and that, i think, brings me back to the rainer structure: doing rehearsal in public; doing something as performance that isn’t necessarily different in form from what they did the day before without an audience.

the audience really doesn’t matter, for CP-AD or COAD. not that people being present as observers doesn’t make a difference: it does, and trying to understand the shape of that difference is part of the point. but the way to start figuring out that shape is to hold the form, the structure constant whether there is an audience or not, and then see what changes when there is one.

and that rhymes with montano: Life/Art is what you do whether or not there’s an audience. and sometimes it’s “art” and sometimes it’s “life”, or some parts are one and some parts are the other, and the audience can’t necessarily identify either of them (or, maybe better: their identification of what’s what has no particular relationship to yours).

continuous outfit – altered daily!

today i’m starting a year-long reperformance piece!

it’s called Continuous Outfit – Altered Daily, and re-bodies scores by Yvonne Rainer (Continuous Project – Altered Daily [1969-70]) and Linda M. Montano (7 Years of Living Art [1984-91]).

the score, a performance note, and links to the source scores are here.

and ongoing photo documentation will be here.

my reflections on the piece as it develops will be on this blog, under the tag #continuous.


to start with:

the initial state of the outfit consists of a crimson kaftan in medium-light-weight linen, cinched with a black cotton-webbing belt decorated with bronze-look rivets, over white undergarments in the same linen.

i made all of it except the belt (a long-ago dumpster find) this week. the kaftan is a blatant ripoff of my housemate M’s pandemic winter style, which has featured gorgeous lightweight kaftans in saturated colors.

i adore the color of the kaftan – i’ve been excited to wear this red ever since my neighborhood fabric store showed me the bolt when i went in and asked about linen earlier this month, and now i’m getting to!

and the linen feels great to wear. i’m not likely to turn into a primitivist (i and most of my friends would be dead or incapacitated in their medical technology-less utopia, after all), but there’s something very real to the loss of sensory quality of life under capitalism and the state. i usually think about that in terms of food (having been lucky enough to travel in places where you can eat almost entirely from local markets during the growing season), of nighttime light pollution and daytime sound pollution in the cities where i’ve lived, of the aggressive dullness of the colors of most industrial products (cars, computers, apartment buildings…). but it’s just as true of the materials we put against our skins.

during the planning process, i’ve thought of this project as largely a visual one, but i think texture and touch will be just as important to my everyday experience of doing it. which makes me even more grateful than usual for Materials for the Arts (the best arts/sanitation collaboration any city i know has!), and the way it’s kept me supplied with leather, silk, satin, felt, fine woollens, mysterious fur (nutria? groundhog? we may never know) and other lovely things to touch and wear.

what isn’t antisemitism (more to come)

i’ll expand on this sometime soon, but here’s a start, since it’s been on my mind for the past few days:

antisemitism is a specific political movement. it was one of the many innovations of 19th-century european nationalism (looking at nationalism as an overarching political movement with many nation-defining branches), and is alive and well and living all over world. it has a specific history, and a specific ideology.

all anti-jewish bigotry is not antisemitism.

all structural anti-jewish oppression is not antisemitism.

much of it is garden-variety christian supremacism, of a type most closely related to the kind directed against muslims. much of it is garden-variety xenophobia, in north america generally of a type most closely related to the kind directed against (some) asian communities. some of it is a now slightly antiquated type of white supremacism. (and all of it is inseparable from colonialism and misogyny.)

calling it all “antisemitism” is like calling all racism “white nationalism” (articulating that key distinction is one of the solid pieces of analysis eric ward has done, alongside giving progressive NGO cover to his far-right buddies at the ADL). it makes for muddled analysis, drains useful words of their meaning, and (worst of all) gets in the way of effectively fighting antisemitism, christian supremacism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

one of the greatest singers i’ve ever heard, one of the cultural workers i most admire, died on thursday morning.

the best way i know to honor her is to say her name and tell people to listen to her voice, in song, speaking, or on the page.

jewlia eisenberg zts”l

you can find out about her and her music (and watch and listen) on her website, here.

you can read her wise and generous thoughts on adventurous yiddish music here.

you can hear her on all the usual places, under her name and her bands: Charming Hostess. Red Pocket. Book of J. my favorite will probably always be Trilectic (Charming Hostess, 2002), but i’d never argue about it.

conflict, abuse, & lenin

today (1/9/2021) i learned that the original “bros before hos” leftist shmuck was, in fact, lenin.

like, literally. lenin.

and that him being That Guy was part of what drove the bolshevik/menshevik split.

i’m fascinated, and i think it’s actually pretty important – thus this post. be forewarned: there’s a certain amount of leftist trainspotting involved, but if you’re a movement person it will all feel very familiar.

here’s what seems to have gone down in what’s been called “the bauman affair”:

Continue reading conflict, abuse, & lenin

ראָזעלע זושוק האַלעװי