You’re Gonna Carry That Weight: Why You Should Watch “Cowboy Bebop”

I first saw a few episodes of Cowboy Bebop on cable TV in my late teens.  In my early 20s I rented the DVD’s from Netflix.  As this video by Eyepatch Wolf beautifully explains, unlike a lot of popular anime, Bebop is an adult show about adults; themes of loneliness, heartache, and being haunted by your past all loom large over a trio of bounty hunters in a strange landscape scattered across planets and space.

For me, the story arc that most resonated was Spike’s on-again-off-again search for his former lover Julia.  There was a woman whom I met in college, and for me to say I had a crush on her would be a gross understatement.  To make a long story short, keeping in touch with her proved difficult.  While I’m nowhere near as reckless or aloof as Spike, the way he will immediately abandon whatever he is working on to follow up on a lead as to Julia’s whereabouts, reminds me a great deal of how I felt about her.   Also, whenever I hear the song “Goodnight Julia” from the Bebop soundtrack,  I’m reminded of his struggle to find Julia, as well as my of how I struggled to find my own “Julia”.

Whether or not this show is new to you, give this video a watch:

 

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Lindsay Ellis on “Rent”

When I was in college Rent posters were everywhere. I was never into musicals so I never gave it a chance. I’m glad I didn’t, because it is absolute garbage that demeans all the hard work and sacrifice the LGBTQIA community endured back in the day to get the powers that be to do something about the AIDS virus. Don’t watch Rent. Watch And The Band Played On.

If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed

Video

“When I was in church

They taught me something else

If you preach hate at the service

Those words aren’t anointed

And that Holy Water

That you soak in

Is then poisoned

When everyone else

Is more comfortable

Remaining voiceless

Rather than fighting for humans

That have had their rights stolen

I might not be the same

But that’s not important

No freedom til we’re equal

Damn right I support it!

Neil Gaiman: Make Good Art

Video

Kinetic Typography video based on a commencement speech by Neil Gaiman.

Sometimes I even find myself not working at making good art when things get rough. We associate so much joy with creativity that we forget how much it helps us work through our misery. As a result we get so caught up in solving problems that we end up scaling back our artistic output. Instead, we should be ramping it up.

So remember: make good art.

Video: “Neda” from 100,000 Poets for Change at Gallery X

This is the first video from the open mic at Gallery X.  Thanks to Dawn Lopes for recording it for me.

Like many people watching and reading about the Arab Spring, I had seen the youtube video of the final moments of Neda Agha Soltan.  It hit home on so many levels: I have a sister of the same age, (whom, if she felt her vote wasn’t counted, would have been out there on those streets protesting with everyone else),  a large population of young people yearning for a secular  government and more freedom, a nation of people no longer trusting those in power, etc.

Earlier drafts of this poem had me describing the protests and Neda’s death from my point of view. After many edits I decided to switch it to being from her point of view, in order to take the reader closer to the streets of Tehran, where a young woman lost her life while protesting peacefully.

NEDA

by Kris Weinrich

For Neda Agha Soltan, 1982-2009, her final moments were captured on a cellphone camera during a protest against rigged elections in Tehran, Iran.  In Farsi, her name means “Voice”

A flowerbed

                of arms blooms between the concrete and me.

A bullet

                burns in my chest, an angry arrowhead
                of copper and lead.

A camera

                meets my eyes just before blood
                pools my mouth, painting my face.

A whirlwind

                of hands and pleas: “Neda, don’t be afraid!
                Stay with me!  Stay with me!”

* * *

A city 

                 of green banners, defiant poetry on placards, 
                 pictures of the beaten and the dead.

A name, 

                 my name, ignites the rooftops of Tehran.

A voice 

                 of thousands scrapes the night sky
                 with a call and response anthem
                 of the only words they can say
                 without being arrested, 

Allah hu akbar, Allah hu akbar!

God is great, God is great.

copyright 2012, Octopus Ink.

Life on Display: Brother Ali on his Upcoming Album.

I’ve been a fan of Ali ever since I first heard his verses on Atmosphere’s “Cats Van Bags” back in 2003. Maybe it’s the fact that he and I are roughly the same age, but I identify with his lyrics a great deal, despite our very different backgrounds.  “Walking Away” helped me through a bad break up in 2006.  More recently, “Writers Block” got heavy replay on my iPod when dealing with the loss of my Grandmother in April while gearing up for my first poetry feature in Easton and trying desperately to finish the poems in time to print my chapbook  for my feature in Brockton.

Ali’s lyrics offer very detailed descriptions of his life.  I would never go so far as to think I would ever personally know any artist just from their body of work.  As Maynard James Keenan once said, “All you know about me is what I’ve sold you”.  Still, Ali tells so many deeply personal stories that the average fan who knows the lyrics could give you a highlight reel of his major life events: homelessness, poverty, young marriage and parenthood, divorce, new marriage, and finally, stability.  So when he puts out a new album, it’s not just new music, it’s another vivid chapter of  his life being published.  I preordered the album today, and I can’t wait to hear his stories.

“I started rhyming just to be somebody,
I found out that I already was,
cuz can’t nobody be free unless we’re all free
There’s no Me and no You, it’s just Us.
A street preacher – what a fan once called me.
I’ve been called worse and tried to live up.
I hope you don’t mind a few more stories.
I swear to God y’all, I tell ’em with love.”

– Brother Ali, Us