Category: Writing


Full Stop

November 20th, 2017

 
 
 
This site is inactive as of 11/20/2017. For my music, see my soundcloud page or chriswaysongs.com. For my poetry, go here. Thanks for reading. -C/SC

[posted by: C Way at 3:16 PM]

[file under: misc]
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Little Boxes of Glowy Fake

March 12th, 2017

 
 
 
     Great post the other day by Ross Douthat in the NY Times (“Resist the Internet”) about what it would look like to put some controls on our largely unfettered use and abuse of the internet (which means our use and abuse of handheld smart devices, since that’s increasingly what the internet means for most people). Made me think about these little portals, these glowy rectangles that have increasingly assumed more and more power in our lives.
     (Warning: Old-man get-off-my-lawn screed approacheth; back out now if you’ve had your fill of this kind of thing) It used to be on the subway that, at any given moment, a handful of people would be staring at their little gadgets. “Handful” turned into “some”. “Some” became “half”. Now, most mornings, it’s a depressingly clear “most”. Most people standing or sitting, necks craned, staring at their pocketsized diminishments of reality, these dinky sheeny holes displaying their dinky sheeny objects. Compulsively caressing, petting, stroking their screens. Like they were wee flat beasts that needed constant reassurance. And these are capable, smart New Yorkers who know better, who deep down know that it’s basically an erosion of the human spirit to choose to live in the thrall of these overpriced little gadgets, huffing and puffing away on the consumer hamsterwheel, chasing after the next upgrade & OS & Yosemite this and Lollipop that. Capable, smart New Yorkers who know all this but give in anyway, shrugging & grinning “can’t help myself” gotta like/retweet/follow Bejeweled triple bonus Flappy Bird double swipe zoom-in zoom-out look at my favorite photos scrollscrollscroll.     (Just like smart people who knew better than to binge-watch shit reality shows and humiliation shows when they started to creep into the collective unconscious years ago. Who helped create our current debased cultural moment by consuming & thereby normalizing that televised pustulence. Who knew better but did it anyway because it’s “a train wreck” that they “have to watch”; because it’s their “guilty indulgence.”)
     Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m not against technology, or mobile smart devices. Tech is a tool, it’s neutral. I’m against the irresponsible over-use of all this crap, the voluntary submission to them so that they are no longer just helpful tools, means to ends, but ends themselves. I’m against handing our lives over to smart devices while doing little more with them than using our fingertips to scroll through Pinterest galleries, mind-deadening Facebook feeds, and shitty video games (all the while gifting our privacy and life details to third party data brokers and, really, in this age of WikiLeaks and infinite data persistence, anyone else online who wants them).
     So, case in point. This guy sits down next to me the other day, healthy looking jogger-Dad type, smiley. Seemingly good disposition. White earbuds in. Instantly, upon sitting, he whips out his glowy portal and starts racing through imagery. Not pausing once. Just swiping through his family photos, kids’ photos, cars, motorbikes, Hallmark animal card greetings, landscapes, images of inspirational quotes, 1-2 seconds of random video clips. Zooming in and out of shit super-fast. Rapidfire unthinking supercaffeinated whizzing through so much visual data.    (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 10:03 PM]

[file under: non-fiction & essays ||| SLAGS]
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Kalief Browder (poem) – C.Way

January 24th, 2017

 
 
 

KALIEF BROWDER



Unscrew bolts anchoring A/C to wall
           
          I stand behind
          Watching you work
          Words rise up & crowd my throat
	        like a clump of blind baby piglets 
	        smelling the teat
          All swallowed back down


Work air conditioner, deliver it
    to bed of pillows prepared on floor

          1,000 days

          I picture you in your box
                    unfed, filthy, dreaming not of bread
                      but of end-pieces of bread
          your hand through the slot, waving your completed worksheet
                    asking for someone to grade it
                    "Miss! I got work for you!"

Squat down, peer through new hole made
    Noonday sunlight slides in
    Watch a green bottle fly
          swoop in, swirl, leave

          Summer nights with the heat vents baking
                    your 12 x 7 oven
                   Kevin next door with the disintegrating laugh
                              slamming his forehead into the wall

          Thirty times told: No trial, Soon, Soon
          Half of your mother's words over the phone
                    blotted out by sobs 
          And your hand still holding the slot, 
                    waving, waving, always waving 

Stick arm out, checking clearance
    Feeling drips from A/C above

          Over and over, you work on bedsheet nooses
                    using your teeth to make strips
          getting a little better each time
                    And when they cut you down they beat you
                              because a hang-up means more paperwork
          And when they don't cut you down
                    they say "Jump, Go ahead and jump" 


Gather yellow braided sheet cord
     from cache in the closet

          You're out
          but no 3.5 GPA or donated MacBook Air or Haldol
          can stop you from waking
                    at 4 AM, sweating through your clothes 
          punching holes in your wall
          trashing your TV because it's watching you

                    Because your hand never got out
                              of that slot 
                    Waving, waving, always waving

Take sheet-cord, start to gauge length

          Biking home from school last summer
          Beats in your ear, crisp loving night
          Sweet hour when the black wave 
                    was ebbed
          When the white swarm 
                    was quiet
                    a hive of cold bees 
	
Wind it, tie cinch and pull, blood starts to swell cheeks

          Kalief
          I am hungry, hungry, always hungry
          I don't know what to do with this hunger
          But talk to you
          And say that it is not justice I starve after
          My guts burn for us all 
          To stop choosing everything 
          Over love

          I am behind you
          The words become unstuck

          I am so proud of you 
                    for not shaking the slimed, charred, cold hand
          And for sharing what happened
          You did not get to learn what you should have 
          But I have learned 
                    integrity and courage from you 
          You fought 
          You fought
          You are good


Crabwalk to wall and opening
    vault, launch feet first
    get stuck, scrape back, shimmy through

          drop

    hear gasp like it's someone else

           Other sounds now

  Plane way overhead rumbling through sky

Sneaker heels whacking brick

Rosa's pink-dyed poodle
          barking at nothing in hallway

That new kid
    Playing video games next door
    Throwing controller against the wall again, again
    Screaming


                                          Chris Way, Nov 2016
[posted by: C Way at 11:03 AM]

[file under: Writing]
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[Untitled]

December 5th, 2016

 

 
Hi everyone,

     I hope to be back soon. I will leave you with a handful of things to think about, inspired by Trump’s election, the ugly build-up to it, and its aftermath. They don’t all have to do with who won, who lost and what might happen in the coming months and years, not in any direct sense at least.
 

***

     Choose love over fear. Choose love over shame. Whenever you feel yourself getting angry, pause, just for a half-second, and choose love. Decide to do this. Behind every outburst or action or policy we come to regret in ourselves or others is a subconscious decision to allow fear, shame or anger (the latter being typically a facade for the former two) to drown out the voice of love. Let this counsel speak to you as a parent, lover, liberal, conservative, Trump-supporter, Trump-despiser, human being. Let this sacred decision always guide you in your relations to others.
 

 
      You are not your past. You are your present. You are now. Don’t ever let anyone — including yourself — try to fix you to your past, lock you in place like a statue. We are all growing, living, flawed beings who make mistakes, suffer, and learn, and change.
 

 
      Stop allowing fear and anxiety to rule your decisions and policies. You cannot foam-cushion every playground. You cannot helicopter over every child. Let kids (and people!) take risks. Risks lead to strength, growth and authenticity. Let children fall. Let children get bruised. Let children get sick. If you raise children in an atmosphere of fear and in a psychological bubble, one spawned directly from your own neuroses, they will grow to be weak, enervated creatures unfit to challenge the dark times to come. On a related note, parents, please, look inward. Understand your own traumas and behavioral issues before you have children, or as soon as you can after you do so. We all come to be parents as imperfect beings, true. But the least we can do is put in heavy effort as early as possible to put ourselves in a position to separate your own baggage from the child.
 

 
      You may come to think of your life as you behind a wheel, not sure how you got on the road, making sure to swerve away from this rockslide, that pothole, always dodging and going away from something, always fleeing something. Stop. Park by the side of the road. Take out your map. Recall where it was you had to go. Must go. Where you need to be to fulfill yourself. Be the you you are meant to be, that you know deep down you have strayed from. Get back on the road and drive there, directly. Reclaim agency. Stop reacting and going away from, start deciding to go towards.
 

 
      Never try to evacuate uncomfortable feelings from your mind. Never uproot fear, shame, guilt. It won’t work. You only empower them, you only inflame them by doing this. And they come back stronger. They come back with panic attacks, they come back with backpain, headaches; they come back to take over. There is only one way to engage with difficult emotions. Sit with them. Acknowledge and name them without judgment or haste or need to get rid of them. Accept them. Invite them back whenever they want. You will watch your neuroses slowly diminish in their hold over you. In their power over you. In the act of giving them voice, letting them hold office hours with you, not trying to annihilate the, you will have won. You will have broken down the partitions and compartments you’ve been erecting for years — no longer will you have musty basements, attics and trapdoors hiding the secrets of feelings you’ve been avoiding for so long. You will have regained integrity with your spirit and, with that, some measure of peace.
 

 
          Slow breath in: the longing to remove someone else’s pain, grief, suffering (could be an animal, could be a family member, could be someone you read about on the news). Slow breath out: your specific wish of comfort and happiness to the very same people, animals or nations you’ve chosen. This is Tonglen meditation, and I paraphrase it from Pema Chodron: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwqlurCvXuM — and I ask you to try this. Add it to your daily meditation. Or do it whenever your own feelings overwhelm you. One antidote for difficult emotional pain is shifting to healing someone else’s.
 

 
          A thought experiment. Pretend you are God. Pretend that all humans are your children. Pretend you have arisen to the din of their fighting. Pretend you come out to witness all we have seen in recent months. Demagogues stoking hatred and espousing the abuse of women just to get elected. Ad agencies disseminating inflammatory fake news right before an election just to generate ad-revenue. Candidates for office of leader of the free world failing to talk about actual issues — the environment, women’s rights, gun control — and reverting to identity politics and zingers. Your children spying on each other. Denouncing each other. Blaming outside forces and countries. Too separated and afraid of people different from each other to talk or relate, hungry instead to deepen the divide and stoke the fires of their own bias and rancor. What do you do? You’ve awoken to a house in such disarray, overwhelmed with such clamor, such brutality. What do you do? You grieve. You are enraged. You ask everyone to stop. And then you ask everyone to listen to each other. Just listen. Because they are all your children. They all deserve to live. They all are cut from the same cloth. The pain of one is the pain of them all. The joy of one is the joy of them all. And none of them will live in harmony — the peace and harmony you dearly wish for them — until they learn this. And, in turn, they will never learn this until they slow down. Become quiet. And just listen.
 

 
      Before you die, do one thing to make the world a more beautiful place.
 

 
      When we do things we don’t like, or have feelings that scare us, we put them in a box or basement. We run away from them. When people do things that scare us, that are awful, we do the same thing. We call the rage-shooter a monster, fit to be executed, and drop them from our minds. Every awful feeling we have deserves the disinfectant of sunlight, of exposure, deserves to be understood and accepted — that’s how we heal. And every person who does something awful *must* be studied and understood for us to heal as a community. There will always be weak-minded people too afraid to do this. Ignore them. Study those who act out in awful ways, their upbringing, their environmental context, their writings, their pain, what makes them human and *not* a simplistic horrorshow villain, it’s the only way for us to grow as a race and heal our collective psychological wounds.
 

 
      Live a life less shameful than yesterday. I think I’m cribbing that from Mary Karr; at any rate, it isn’t mine.
 

 
Survive and serve.
 

 

[posted by: C Way at 12:16 PM]

[file under: non-fiction & essays]
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‘Thank you, Kathleen Hanna’ – by Jess Barnett

November 20th, 2016

 
 
 
(Following is an excerpt from a great piece on Hanna by artist Jess Barnett, please click-through to her site to read the rest!)
 
 
 
I woke up the other day thinking about Kathleen Hanna, who, for those not in the know, was/is the main force behind Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, and Le Tigre, in that order (although since 2010 she’s been working on her project The Julie Ruin). Having not yet seen The Punk Singer, I don’t proclaim to know the intimate details of her life — in fact, most of what I know outside of her music comes from Wikipedia and articles I’ve read about her (she grew up with a strict father but loving mother who supported and even joined forces in her interest in feminism at any early age; she has Lyme disease; she’s married to Ad Rock; she had an abortion at age 15 and obtained the money for it through working at McDonald’s; she was a stripper for a while years back; oh, and she might as well be Superwoman, as far as I’m concerned).
 
 
kh 
                                         Vintage Kathleen; image courtesy of Austin Chronicle
 
 
But as any rock fan knows in their hearts, all of these facts are moot points when it comes to the passion such a person can generate thanks to their music. Here are a couple of background facts about me: When I entered my sophomore year of high school, I was having an identity crisis. I didn’t want to be the cute, shy, somewhat dorky blond girl I’d been known as up until then; I didn’t want to be just “pretty” (hell, I no longer wanted to be pretty at all); I didn’t even — at least at certain points — want to be female. (To be clear: I did not harbor thoughts that I should never have been female — I just didn’t want all the baggage that came with being as such.) I surrounded myself with friends who shared similar confusions, mostly girls but with the occasional confused dude thrown into the mix. We snuck out of our houses at night (well, I did) to drink alcohol and cough syrup and listen to moody music such as Underworld’s “Dirty Epic,” Depeche Mode, and, of course, Bikini Kill. 
 
 
(Read the rest of Jess’ piece here.)

[posted by: C Way at 4:49 PM]

[file under: Music ||| non-fiction & essays]
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