Friday, July 29, 2011

It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt. Buy It Now!

Four years ago, I got an email from an old college friend by the name of Maureen McDole. Maureen, her husband, and a couple other folks had started a new, small press in Florida called Summerfolk, and Maureen wanted to know if I would be interested in submitting a poetry manuscript for consideration for publication.

Does a carriage horse shit in the street?

oOf course, I said yes. It took me about a year to get my act together to get a manuscript to the editors, and in the meantime I met the man I would eventually be with for the next three years. On meeting David, and seeing his art work, I asked him if he would consider a collaboration with me on the book. Twenty poems matched with 20 of his lino cut prints from his Face A Day series. He said yes. The publishers said yes. And so, the concept that would become the book, It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt, was born.

The last three years have been a wild ride of love, war, growth, change, hurt, loss, pain, and healing. Gabriel Garling with Summerfolk Press designed a fantastic book, but, the economic reality of the times is that the press, a labor of love, has been put on hold due to the recession. Unfortunately that meant that the good people at Summerfolk couldn't print our book.

Enter Sven Davisson at Rebel Satori Press.

About a year ago, I realized that I was well on my way to writing my first novel. By August of last year, I had a good 100 or so pages written. My friends Emanuel Xavier and Charlie Vazquez were both being published by the Queer Mojo imprint of Rebel Satori Press. I asked them if they would put in a good word with their publisher for me. He asked to see a sample of the novel and a synposis. I obliged. He obliged me by giving my a contract for my first novel, Eden Lost, which will be out later this Fall (YES BETTY TISEL I AM WORKING ON THE DANG REVISIONS!). In May, Sven descended from his mighty mountain eyrie in Maine to attend the book release party for Emanuel Xavier's latest project, Me No Hablo con Acento, and I had a chance to meet and hang out with Sven. I mentioned, in passing, that I had this completed manuscript that I was considering self-publishing. Sven gave me complete side eye and said, "No, no. Send it to me. If I like it, I will publish it."

Sven liked it. Sven published it. You can order it right now. Help a broke writer be less broke and do yourself a favor...get an amazing book with poetry and art that is, in my humble opinion, amazing. But don't just take my word for it. Take their words too:

"Brandon Lacy Campos is an important poet that doesn't cut corners and doesn't compromise. His work is vivid, jagged, and it takes up space in the most beautiful way. To invest time in getting familiar with his poetry is to invest in vitality. I hope this is just the first shout to announce the arrival of his chorus." -Bao Phi, author of Song I Sing.

"Brandon Lacy Campos is a word thief of the best and brightest kind, pilfering from “a corrupt system that must fall/If we’re ever to have liberty and justice for all.” These scathing, impassioned poems kick up stars dragged along asphalt—with outlandish sass, old-time funk, and a hot, ever-shimmying soul that could teach the stiffest otherness in anyone more than a few things about its most generous self." Ed Bok Lee, best selling author of Real Karaoke People.

"Brandon Lacy Campos is part tomahawk thrower and part philosopher, a fresh voice of queer rebellion, an outsider talking of revolution, avenging exploitation. The stinging lashes on a slave’s back, the mystical incantations of native medicine men, the curiosities of an innocent white child and the cultural bisection of a bilingual Latino—these are the things he sees, as these are the things he is. These poems are monuments to the victims of abuse, to the splendor of visionary queer consciousness—to true America." Charlie Vázquez, fiction writer, blogger and host of the queer East Village reading series, PANIC!, author of Contraband and co-editor of From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction (get this book too! It includes an excerpt from Eden Lost).

You can buy your copy of It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt, today!

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Liner of the Week Award: Ebony Adams

I have a friend that is what, in the technical jargon, is classified as straight up country colored Kookers McGee. Look that up in the DSM-IV, and you will find a picture of Miss Ebony Adams formerly of Cheyenne, Wyoming (one of three and a half Negroes in the entire state) and currently of Los Angeles, California. Bourgie ass Brentwood to be exact.

I ain't mad at her, I am currently sitting up in her living room, drinking her wine, and cooking her food.

Ebony and I met through my Non-Romantic Life Partner Jason Ruiz who was, whilst finishing his PhD, a dissertation fellow at Macalester College where Professor Kookers McGee was teaching the children a thing or two. Upon meeting Ebony, I immediately developed a colored crush. She was brilliant and country and sweet and sassy and so much goodness wrapped up in a gorgeous little box that I had no choice but to love the Hell out of this girl.

She been there for me through some crazy ass shit I put myself through and kept right on loving my Kookers butt, and now, four and some years later, I am sitting in her house in LA doing the colored things I mentioned above.

Hey glory. Praise Him.

Yesterday, Ebony and her fab roommate Jen threw my first book party to celebrate the launch of It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt (which is now available for pre-order from my publisher and Despite the fact that immediately after finishing a radio interview an walking into her living room and slicing my foot open down to the meaty meat on a sliver of glass, I still love her.

Eb prepared all kinds of goody snacks for the fiesta including a black bean dip that she lamented was flavorless.

Fast forward to this morning.

It was early as Hell, and Ebony had gotten up and made breakfast before she had to go to work. I walked in the kitchen to dish me up a plate, and I noticed that Ebony had the black bean dip out to put on the eggs and stuff.

All of a sudden I hear Ebony exclaim from the front room,

"Oh snap. These beans done sat around and got good all of a sudden."

I laughed so hard I almost fell face first into the hot ass cast iron skillet on the stove.

And that, mon cheries, is the One Liner of the Week.

And thank you to Ebony and Jen for hosting a fabulous book party. Love ya'll.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Love Love

I am in love with love.

At least, I am in love with seeing and experiencing real and true and beautiful love.

Last night, I saw some love so real that it made me cry.

Miss Candise Ketcham married Mr. Griffing Partington. Yes ladies and gentleman, La Señora Crack Ass got a beautiful ceremony on Malibu Lakes, California.

Once upon a time I thought Crackity and I would die as lecherous old lascivious roommates. I imagined us as crotchety octogenarians groping men a quarter of our age on the streets and shoving dollars in the orifices of strippers and well hung UPS deliverymen.

I haven't entirely given up on that dream but it may have to include a couple of husbands that we keep around for some of our baser needs...sponge baths...banana gumming....fetching the prescriptions that will keep us alive, unnaturally, well passed the age when we should have collapsed into piles of glitter and poppers.

One of those menfolk would be the sweet as pie and big old crybaby (just like me!) Griff Partington.

Watching these two folks get married last night, a perfect evening as the sun was setting in the mountains outside of Los Angeles, in the Agoura Hills, was downright magical.

I am willing to forgive the obscenely large wedding party which was pretty much equal in size to the 200 or so guests.

(sorry...I got distracted...the prettiest, buffest Gaysian in SoCal just sat down next to me at the hotel bar whilst I am writing this...please see my note above about why me and Crackity are soul mates).

Back to love. So. Yeah. Love.

Candise and Griff are so stupidly and happily in love it made me giddy to watch them blubber their way through their vows. Candise, being truly hard core, only got a little weepy and ended up comforting Griff as he basically broke down two seconds into the ceremony.

It was a gift to be able to share their special day with them and to see what love can create between two people.

Thank you Candise and Griff, Mr. and Mrs. Crackity, for letting me share your special day with you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

GOYA (Get Off Your Ass)

Cruising at 35,000 feet on a transcontinental flight from New York to Los Angeles, my iPhone off limits—which means Angry Birds is verboten—and looking at five hours in the air trapped next to a very loving yet noise filter-less French family, and I decided that I had better write to alleviate bordem, circumvent my ADHD, and prevent myself from committing an act of war against the people of France.

When one finds oneself questioning whether or not the Geneva Conventions apply when traveling 500 miles per hour, it is best to do something to redirect ones attention and aggression.

I am on my way to Los Angeles to celebrate the marriage of an old and amazingly dear friend Candise Ketcham. I met Candise my first day on campus at La Universidad de Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras back in August 1999. The first day on campus found all of the international exchange students herded together on a trolley bus. As the students gathered, they broke into several camps: the French Girls (we hated them), the Brits and Cali Gals (we loved them), the Midwestern Posse (exactly two of us: me and Bernie plus we claimed Kylah since she was living in Wyoming and no one knew what the Hell to do with it was right after the brutal slaying of a young white gay man in Laramie, so I thought it best to keep an eye on the girl from the same town), and an assortment of random Latin kids from the U.S.

I can't remember exactly how our powers combined to form the GOYA crew, but by the end of the first day, we had fairly clearly gelled together. I was the only boy that was consistently with the crew (the other boys were either really awkward or were native Spanish speakers from the U.S., so had easily slid right into making new, local friends). My roll in said group was cemented when the ladies discovered 1) that I was big old gay and didn't want to poke any of them, and 2) to their surprise and my own it turned out that I did, in fact, know a fair amount of Spanish....enough that I was the one that did all the translating, talking, and coordinating of our cross island adventures.

(In one instance, I made a deal with Bernie that if she bought the 10 books required for one of our classes that I would read them and tell her what they said, and we would study together. When we got our midterms back she got an A, and I got a C...I was like...WHAT THE HELL! I grabbed her was in English....the professor told her to write her paper in English. When I approached him to tell him that I was also a native English speaker he looked at me and said, “You're Puerto Rican...learn the language,” and walked away. Wasn't that a bitch!)

The GOYA crew, so named after the ubiquitous GOYA products found throughout Puerto Rico (and which we turned into an acronym which stood for GET OFF YOUR ASS), could be found together eating rice and beans for lunch and for dinner and for breakfast. We ate most of our meals together (la UP...pronounced YOU PEE...didn't have a meal plan)...and we only had meat about once per week, but with 20lb bags of rice, dozens of cans of GOYA beans and the rice cooker that I carried in my carry on bag from Minneapolis to San Juan, we were ready to go! Our weeks were fairly regular: Monday-Thursday, we had class...Thursday night I hit the gay bar with my queer island friends (and later boyfriend) that I met. Friday was beach day, Saturday was island adventure day, and Sunday was back to the beach. Not a bad way to spend a year of your life, eh?

(The person in the seat in front of me just shoved her seat backwards into my computer and almost knocked my ginger ale over onto the keyboard. There would have been murder a mile high in the sky if that had happened. Trust.)

Since the GOYA Crew officially disbanded in 2000, and we all went back to our respective campuses and lives and went about the business of growing up, some of us have seen each other in various configurations. One year Karly, who now lives with her British gal pal in England (she was our SoCal surfer chic dudette with the kooky Hawaiian middle name) did a road trip, scooped up Kylah in Montana and then drove to Denver to see me when I was staying there in 2001. And a couple of years ago, my beloved Candise aka Crack Ass aka Aunty Crackity picked me up from LAX during a brief trip, and we had dinner. Most of us have kept in some sort of touch over the years, but this trip is going to be extra amazing because one of the core GOYA Crew and my other most beloved of the group besides Crackity, Miss Keeley Pratt of Londontown, has flown in from Merry Olde Anglaterre for the wedding. Oh yes, the British Hussy is back and in full effect!

Keels and Candise kept me in stitches, and over the years, thanks to the Grace of God and Facebook, we have been able to keep tabs on each other, but tonight I will be in the presence of two of my favorite spirits, and I can barely stand the excitement...I may punch one of the Frenchies sitting next to me in excitement.

But wait! There's more!

There's also Ebony, Togba, Pradeepa, Manish, Stacey, Tay Tay, and perhaps even the deliciously sexy Mr. Kurt Gering (he used to teach at my high school...thank God he came a couple of years after I graduated or I would have been a star in my own After School Special). So many of my loved ones have up and moved to SoCal and of all the regions of the U.S., except the Pacific Northwest, it is the one area I travel to the least. And now, I get to see 'em all in one fell swoop!

I am missing my Puma something fierce at the moment, and by the time Tuesday comes around, I am going to be McKookers for Puma Puffs, but I am truly excited to see, spend time with, and love on some really amazing people in my life.

Get Off Your Ass!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

If You Believe

I was born with an abundance of faith.

In a world, in a life, in a childhood, in a journey that would have destroyed, and rightfully so, the faith of some...the fact that I have survived, thrived, and been surrounded by the greatest gifts of love any man could receive and more than most will ever receive has proven the presence of God/Community/Love/Faith in my life.

I have always been afraid of calm. Stability has terrified me. Peace has been my kryptonite. Joy was for someone else. Happiness was temporary. Crisis was comofrtable. Pain was deserved. Misery was my comfort blanket.

No more. No more. No more.

I repeat.

No more.

Right now, I am sitting here, in my apartment on a Saturday afternoon. Lena Horne is playing. She is singing Stormy Weather and If You Believe.

"If you believe, within your heart, you'll know. No one can change the path that you must go."

I have walked a path. My sweet Lord Jesus, have I walked a path. The earliest paving stones were laid down for me. They twisted my feet and bowed my knees, and they had me walk bowlegged into my early adulthood...and it has taken a long as time to straighten them out. I still walk from side to side now and again. Sometimes I have a limp, and sometimes I trip over my own feet, but damn if I haven't taken Thor's Hammer to the street in front of me, shattered the crooked ways and grabbed the twisted path and shaken it until it lays straight...ish.

Hot damn Miss Lena could sing the panties off the Virgin Mary.

In the Litany of the Saints of the Common Man, Saint Lenam, Our Lady of Peace and Fierceness, has sometimes sung me through some ugly places.

Today she is singing me a different song.

"Believe what you feel, and know you are right because the time will come around when you'll say it's yours. Believe that you can go home. Believe you can float on air!"

Float? I am flying. I am flying. I am flying through this world, and I have been lifted up and hung on the wind by all ya'll. By the teachers that encouraged me all throughout out school, by my family--especially my Grandpa Carey and my Honey Bun, by a community of friends that stretches from Norway to Los Angeles---from Troll Baby who once told me that it was ok for me to be small (maybe no other words, short of I Love You, have meant more to me in my entire life) David Berube who taught me that I deserved to be Keith who has walked many of the paths I have walked and saw past the all of the amazing human beings that have been angels in my life. Angels, if you believe, walk amongst us each and every day.

And I want to single out Mr. Kamal Fizazi without whom I wouldn't be sitting here typing this. I love you my friend.

I am walking the right road for me now...and I will not wander from its path. The Universe reminds me each and every day that I am doing justice by myself...and when you do justice by are a light for justice in the world.

I have much gratitude and this note is just to say thank you to you all for believing in me.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Healing Touch

Too many of my friends and loved ones know what it is to grow up in homes where violence is ever present. Too many of the people I care deeply about were physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused by care givers who took too much and left deep scars in their lives and spirits.

I am a survivor.

I grew up, raised by my step-father, my Mom's second husband, who was, because of pain from his own childhood, an addict that used his hands and feet to beat out his rage into the body of my Mother and me. My earliest memories are of the day his mother died, a woman to whom I was very close, and the day when he beat my Mom unconscious in front of me outside of our home while my Mom was eight months pregnant with my little brother. Those memories are 30 years old, and they are still fresh in my mind. I can see the twilight, the concrete stairs leading down from our house to the street, I can see the screen door that I am looking through, and I can see my child hands gripping the mesh and crying as I watch my Mom lying, unconscious, below. I remember thinking that a car was going to park on her because she was laid out exactly in a parking space against the curb. I can not see my step-father in my memory, but he is present as a disturbance in the air as he rushed up into the house. I remember him yelling at me to go to my room, and I can even see the wood paneled walls of my bedroom.

Some children's minds bend around the memories and bury them. My mind has always done the opposite. I can reply each instance of fear and pain and trauma and rage like an old familiar VHS tape.

I have done much work to heal from that past, and while my spirit has come such a long way in its healing process, as has my mind, those memories also exist as very real trauma in the body. From ancient philosophy to modern medecine we have ample proof, science, reasoning and faith that tells us that the mind, body and spirit are interconnected in subtle ways. Any doctor will tell you that to heal from trauma, one has to rehabilitate all three.

Five weeks or so ago, I worked up the courage to ask a beautiful man from my gym out for coffee. It took me about a month and a whole lot of gumption to finally, haltingly, almost dropping my cell phone, if he would like to get coffee sometime. I almost fell off of the pec machine when he said yes and flashed me his diamond smile.

It wasn't long before he shared with me that he was a massage therapist with both a private practice as well as the staff massage therapist with Cirque du Soleil's new show Zarkana (GO AND SEE THE SHOW...IT IS AMAZING!). And it was during one of our very first conversations that Keith, that's his name...Keith Stiles, shared with me that he is a survivor of childhood emotional, physical, and sexual assault and violence. He also expressed to me, and later wrote a blog about, how his own experiences with childhood familial assault and violence informed his work as a massage therapist. For him, massage is a sacred practice and his practice a place of healing. In that place there is no room for the crossing of sexual boundaries neither on the part of the client nor that of the massage therapist. You can read his blog posting where he articulates clearly his point of view, and it is a point of view that should be shared widely. Massage is a healing art, it is a sacred art, and it should be held as such just as any Western medical practice is respected.

As Keith would label it, he and I have been "hanging out." I decided when I met him and found out what he did for a living that I would never ask him for a massage. In fact, only once, when I pulled a muscle in my back, did I even bring up the subject of him perhaps rubbing it for me, and by the time I saw him, it was done hurting, and I did not bring up the conversation again. My friend Dawn is a doctor, and I don't ask her to check me for hernias (plus, I grew up with her, so the thought of her telling me to turn my head and cough makes me giggle). So, I surely wasn't going to ask Keith to provide healing services to me.

Instead, a couple of weeks ago, I posted a note on my FB group guiding folks to Keith's blog about his practice, his experiences a child, and how he defines his healing space and the expectations of massage therapists and patients. I had recently been trusted enough and given the privilege of experiencing the stories of several friends of mine, some new and some old, that are all survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA). These six individuals, organized by the brilliant and stunning Amita Swadhin, working in partnership with Ping Chong and Company, put together a theater piece called Secret Survivors, and they graciously provided an interview for my blog some months ago before the show went up at the theater at El Museo del Barrio. For anyone that has survived any kind of physical abuse, sexual or otherwise, to trust someone else with your body, especially something as initimate as a massage, takes tremendous trust...a trust that some survivors are never able to give to a stranger. But because I know that trauma lives in our tissue, I decided that it was important to provide my community access to massage from someone that has also been to some of the places that they have been in their lives.

Then, a week ago, Keith asked me if I would be willing to write about the connection between his practice and being a survivor and publish it on my blog if he gave me a massage. I was extremely nervous, but I agreed. This afternoon, at 1pm, I was blessed by his hands.

Not to disclose any personal details, but he and I have seen each other in all of our "glory." But walking into his apartment today, I was a client and he was a service provider. From the beginning of the massage to the end, he took no liberties, he violated no boundaries, he assumed no privileges. When it came time for me to undress and get under the sheet, he left the room. Just as he would with any client, he arrange the sheet so that potentially vulnerable places were covered while he worked. His hands, his energy, and his spirit were about providing me with healing.

I have had several massages in my life. Every therapist has had to tell me to relax, to allow them to move my body, and to not tense up.

Today I fell asleep.

I was aware of his presence and his healing work, but I was betweeen wakefullness and sleeping, and I was able to allow him to move and arrange and do the work that he has been highly trained to do. When it was done, he thanked me as he would anyone else, and he left the room again, so I could get dressed.

He blessed me with healing and with respect, and he honored himself and the healing space he has created to do the work that he does.

Shortly thereafter I had to leave for a meeting with Bebe Zahara Benet, Will McNair, and DJ Baker. When I sat down, the first thing out of Will and DJ's mouth was that I looked young and relaxed and that I was glowing. One of them said that I looked like a child. I think, maybe, it's because that child that has lived with hurt for so long was touched with joy and love, gentleness and healing. I am so very grateful for the healing experience of StilesMassage, and I recommend his practice to anyone but especially to those that knew violence way too young.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When A Relationship Ends

Last week, I ended a three year relationship with my former partner David. It was a hard decision, and I spent several months thinking about it, talking about it with one of my best friends, and feeling my way to my truth.

When the answer came, it was clear, and it was sad, and it was right.

I didn't leave David because he cheated on me. He never hit me. He didn't treat me poorly. Like all couples, there were times that were rough and there were times that were happy. From sharing our small apartment with his ex-boyfriend Frank to losing my job due to the recession, we had gone through some deep things together.

Real deep.

He loved me through a couple of intense relapses where I went to really ugly places within myself, and he stood by me. I will never ever be able to repay that love debt. I was a crazy motherfucker that was hurting and struggling and self-destructing because I was struggling against some old and evil beliefs about myself, but with his love and support I made it through.

For the last six months, I have been on an extremely limited income, and he paid for most of our bills during that time (a couple of years ago our roles were hard times happen when folks are together...but you work it out).

So, when I was thinking about ending our relationship, it became a struggle between the debts that I felt I owed him and the debt I owed myself. Neither of us was perfect in this relationship, but it isn't for me to tell his tale. This is my part of the story, and so I can only say that in the end, I decided that I could repay the physical debts I had to David while also being true to the spiritual debt I had to myself.

A debt of happiness. A debt of joy. A debt of affection and care. A debt of cuddling and snuggling. A debt of healing sex and healing love. A debt of strength. A debt of safety. A debt of standing on my own two damn feet.

I came to the truth that I was staying in the relationship not because he and I were growing together, learning together, loving together but because we had fallen into a comfortable pattern of mutual support and often times paternalism. He was someone for me to rely on, and neither of us was getting that deep down joyous love, peace and sustanance that every single person deserves. We had become the best of friends but we weren't boyfriends in any way.

I wasn't always a good partner. I wasn't ever perfect. But I loved him the best way I could. I loved him when I couldn't love myself. He taught me what it was like to truly see someone and love them not despite their flaws but inclusive of them. I can't take away the hurt he is feeling right now. I would if I could. I would take away all the times when I wasn't good and when I caused him worry and pain. But I know that we DID grow together, we did learn from and teach each other, and we did love each other, imperfectly, but openly.

And with my own love and support of others like David, Mark and Jeff, Kamal, Megan, Eli, Pookie, Wifey, and nameless others, I am now the strongest, happiest, and most centered I have ever been. THAT work I did MYSELF. THAT WORK and THAT GROWTH I owe to NO ONE. THAT I owed to myself. And THAT work I will continue to do and live and love myself a little more every damn day.

I also have love for David. It is my sincere hope that we continue to be deep friends, artistic collaborators, and family. What this moment in life has taught me is that a break up is not something you do to someone is something you do for yourself.

I am finding my joy. I wish nothing but joy, peace, and happiness to him. Thank you for the gifts you gave me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happiness is a Choice

It took me until my mid-30s to come to this realization, but a short time ago, I realized that happiness is a choice.

Now let me explain. I am not a hippy dippy dopey faux hippy confusing a good high with happiness. Nor am I on an industrial strength supply of lithium. What I have come to understand is that in any given day there will be highs and may be pissed off or sad...someone may hurt you or you may have done something not so smart that hurt yourself...but even in those places of hurt, sadness, pain, or can choose joy.

Sound like a contradiction? Nah...stick with me here.

Today, I had a moment with a fucked up racist Russian bank teller at my bank. I have been going to this same credit union branch since I moved to NYC. Before today, I never had a problem. Sometimes my checks are written out to my legal name, William Brandon Lacy, and sometimes the checks are made out to Brandon Lacy Campos. My ID says William Brandon Lacy on it, but in the past, the fact that my ID has Brandon Lacy on it, as long as the check was written to William Lacy, William B. Lacy, William Brandon Lacy, Brandon Lacy or Brandon Lacy Campos...the good tellers have realized that golly gee two of the three names on the check were the same, so gosh...there isn't anything shady going on.

Enter Sister Mary Gulag of Bitchskaya, Siberia. The women looked at me, looked at the check, and said..."this isn't you."

I said, politely, "Excuse me m'am, but do you not see the names Brandon Lacy on the idea and the check."

"Yes, but there is no Campos."

So I reply, "M'am...I have two last just happens to not be on my ID. But, as you can see, Brandon and Lacy are on the check and ID."

"Yes but this isn't you."

And she gave me a look that basically made me want to punch a hole through the Plexi-glass and scoop her eye out of her socket.

And then came the coup de grace when she said, "You can mail it to your bank and see if THEY will deposit it."

Only by the Grace of God did that woman not get a free trip back across the Ural Mountains on Foot in the Ass Airlines.

So I said, "I will be back with the check re-written."

And she gave me a smile that basically said, "Sure nigger. Next!"

That's when I made a choice.

You see up until that point in my day, my day had gone so super well. I'd spent the night at Keith's spot. I walked home, and we had a great workout at the gym. Well, by great I mean that I did some cardio before sprinting to the office to get a report into the Drug Policy Alliance. I'd made plans to meet back up with Keith to finish my workout that afternoon, and I had already decided that I was going to treat myself to my favorite dish at Pam's Real Thai on 49th Street (the crispy pork with basil will change your life).

I actually love going into the office, because I get to work hand in hand with amazing interns, the brilliant and sexy Amber Hollibaugh and Jay Toole...and every day is a day closer to July 19th when my poetry collection It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt comes out.

So as I was walking out of the bank back to the office to get Amber to re-write my check, and I was contemplating if my Chuck Norris skills were tight enough that I could kick through the Plexiglass to exact my ninja revenge on said Wicked Witch of Far East, I realized that I had just given this Creature of Darkness way too much power over me.

So I chose happiness.

The minute I put on my headphones and put on "Happiness" by Alexis Jordan...I found myself back in that joy spot. Can't no body take away that place of joy except me. I have mad skills and many years of emptying my joy tank, but I have been working too damn hard to fill it to let ANYONE empty it. If what you are bringing me is your hurt and trying to make me feel what you are feeling, if you bring me your anger and try to raise mine, if you bring me your pain and try to make me feel it, if you bring me your sadness and try to make me cry, do not be offended when I say to you, "Find your joy."

I found mine, and I am keeping it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Theater Review: Jomama Jones Does It Again

Last Tuesday night, I was sitting at Symphony Space in an audience with a couple hundred people waiting for the precious and beautiful Jomama Jones to take the stage.

I was sitting in the audience with Mr. Keith Stiles of StilesMassage and Cirque du Soleil fame after having been surprised at the door by running into Baraka de Soleil, my good friend Ben's ex and another Minnesota ex-pat living in the Big Apple (the Minne-Apple rocks!).

I'd spent a good part of the previous day and dinner beforehand praising Jomama Jones and the Sweet Peaches. How could I not? When Mr. Kenyon Farrow took me to see Jomama's show Radiate, I was in love with Jomama before she sang her first note. And the Sweet Peaches were so juicy and delicious that I wanted to run up on stage and take a bite!

I'm just saying.

Now if you have never seen Jomama Jones perform...think of Miss Lena Horne come back to life. She is TRUE elegance.

And her music is a magical music ride of funk, jazz, soul, punk and all the beautiful blackness at the root of so many of the musical traditions we consume in the English speaking world.

Once again, when Jomama took the stage, I was transfixed. Keith put his arm around my shoulder, and for the next hour and a half we laughed and stomped our feet and called out a couple of amens as Jomama OWNED THAT DAMN STAGE! With her collaborator Bobby Halvorson on stage with her, the sultry and sassy vocal gifts of the Sweet Peaches backing Jomama up, and some of the beautiful lyrics of Miss Sharon Bridgforth....the Rapture could have come right then and there, and I would have happily gone on to Heaven knowing that I had just heard true art made into beautiful musicality.

Seeing Jomama's beautiful sparkling, playful, teasing, loving eyes, and once again having Jomama's storytelling and truthtelling and spiritlifting swirling into my life was such a gorgeous blessing. Let me be real for a minute...if you have the dollars and some sense....bring this damn concert to your town and let Jomama wow audiences anywhere on the planet that folks have ears to listen. Jomama Jones and the Sweet Peaches aren't just artists...they heal with music.

The Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry Deadline Extended to AUGUST 15, 2011


The 2011 Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry

Dear Friends:

I am happy to announce the call for submissions for the second year of the Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry.

The Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry will be awarded to a poet that demonstrates the power of spoken word to address issues of class, sexuality and race in a way that transcends rhetoric and creates movement.

The winner will receive $300, and the winning poem will be published at My Feet Only Walk Forward ( Two honorable mentions will also be named.

The winner of the 2010 Carey Prize was Saymoukda Vongsay, who has also generously volunteered to make a donation in support of this year's prize.

I welcome other donations in support of the prize. If donations come in that exceed the prize total, I will increase the prize amount. There are very very very few prizes that support the work of spoken word artists, and I hope you will consider making a contribution. Donations can be made at the address provided below. Please make checks payable to David Berube (this is so that ya'll don't think I am trying to keep the moola for myself!).

About the Prize:

Alfred C. Carey was a hard working man from Northern Minnesota. He worked in construction, specifically roofing, while raising a family of 8, including three children not biologically his own. He represented a series of beautiful and sometimes hard contradictions in race, class, and history. He also, without a vocabulary around race and sexuality, accepted all of his children and grandchildren for who they were without judgment. This award is named in the honor of my grandfather who died in 1997.


You may submit up to three poems no longer than a combined total of six pages double spaced.

You may also submit audio recordings in CD format. The recordings should not exceed 9 minutes in length.

Along with your submission please include a cover page that states your: Name, Address, Telephone Number, Email Address, Website Address, and a brief biography of no more than 6 sentences.


Authors retain all copyright to their works, and if you would like samples returned, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Make submissions to:

Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry
c/o Brandon Lacy Campos
462 W. 52nd Street #3N
New York, NY 10019