First Saturday Report: June

Writing & Submitting
The latest manuscript is moving along, coming to a head. I’m a little behind schedule, but not worried about it. There are some large moves coming up for the characters, and some uncertainty about whether I can pull off the ending.

An essay I wrote is going to be published soon in a new journal being published by my Bad Business mini-series cohost Todd Robins. The journal is called Vautrin, and you can order it from Watermark books.

While I was in Colorado at the beginning of May, I hit the indy bookstores (Tattered Cover, The Book Bar, and The Boulder Bookstore). At the Book Bar (a nifty bookstore/Wine bar) I stumbled across The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager. It’s astoundingly good novel that thematically and structurally captivated me. I love it when writers take risks with their work, attempt something daring, and Drager’s threading together of different stories, set in different times and places by connecting them through the 75 year orbit of Halley’s comet was enlivening. It’s rare these days that writers I either don’t know, or who aren’t named Ondaatje, grab me quite as strongly as Drager did with this celestially informed story about the unique relationships of siblings. There were even some echoes, faint and distant, with my current celestial themed project. I look forward to hunting up Drager’s other books and reading them.

After starting, putting it down for some unremembered reason, and forgetting about it for a time (hey, it happens sometimes), I’m finally about to finish The Multi Culti Boho Sideshow by Alexs D. Pate. Sadly, it’s out of print, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s worth it. Published about twenty years ago, it’s still sharply relevant today, especially in post-Ferguson, Black Lives Matter America. Pate’s books should be brought back into print, and we should be reading him.

There are two more episodes of Problematic Badass Female Tropeson the way. So far, it’s been very well received. Jenn, my co-host, is working on a companion series of articles onToxic Masculinity and when she’s got those done, we’ll do a companion mini-series.

In a few weeks, we’ll have a special interview with Todd Robins, one of my cohosts from the Bad Business mini-series. He’s the publisher, editor-in-chief of the a new literary journal called Vautrin.

We’re in the planning stages of a new live show scheduled for July 13th with musicianRhea Sewell and poet Chandra EA Di Piazza (formerly Dickson). Look for the event details.

Spent some time last month listening to a lot of Ani DiFranco. I’ll see her in concert June 2nd.
I’ve actually been getting out some for live music lately.

There was benefit show for local musician Jenny Wood, called Jenny Woodstock that featured local bands After Judo, Old News, Milkwave, The Travel Guide, Cartwheel, and The Cavves performed donating all proceeds to help Jenny Wood and her family after Jenny was injured in a horrific car accident that killed her mother and young niece.

I also got out and finally, officially, saw the great Wichita band Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy. They’ll get to open for Gogol Bordello at the Wichita RiverFest next week, then they’re off for a European tour.

On the recommendation of my producer, Heather, I started watching The Orville. Brannon Braga, who was a producer for Star Trek TNG, is a producer on this. More comedic than Trek, it still manages to tackle important social issues, just like Trek. I’ll keep watching.

Also watched the new Hulu series Catch-22. A fan of the book and of the original movie, this series is a pretty good re-imagining and with the series format it’s able to flesh out some more of the book.

Random Thoughts
I’ve been thinking a lot about men, violence, the threat of violence, and how that all functions to keep women, especially, uncertain and permanently on guard. One thing men need to come to terms with, and quit fighting, is that it doesn’t matter how non-threatening they think they are, women can’t afford to take them at their word. Once men admit that truth they have to then start thinking about the ways they may indirectly terrorize women. When we raise our voices, throw things, break things, pound our fists on the table, we men tend to think we’re ONLY expressing anger and that we not being “violent” toward a woman, but that’s not a correct assumption. That anger is like a terrorist threat, it’s a warning that, if pushed too far, the man may become violent.

We need to fix that in ourselves, but there’s something else that needs to be addressed: the fact that men rarely seem to stand up to other men when it comes to the issue of violence. Our patriarchal definition of courage often means the willingness to enact violence in the face of violence. This, I think, makes those sensitive, aware, empathetic men who are uncomfortable with violence feel incapable of confronting the more violent men they know. Some men run the same kind of threat assessment on other men that women do, and we worry that we won’t have the courage to confront another man being violent and that fear come from this masculine mis-definition of courage as the ability to enact violence.

Women have learned a very different definition of courage, it’s one where, for them, courage is the ability to endure and survive violence. All men are potential threats until proven otherwise, right? So imagine the courage it takes to navigate a world like that, and then to react in ways to preserve themselves when violence inevitably happens to them at the hands of men. The United Nations estimates that 35% of all women experience intimate partner violence, and in some studies, the rate climbs as high as 70%.

We can’t “fight” violence with violence, which sometimes seems the route men think they have to take. All that does is escalate the violence around us, just like abuse creates abusers. As frightening as it is, non-violence is the only antidote to our plague of violence. Those men, like me, who are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the violent potential we represent need to discover within ourselves the courage to endure the potential violence of other men. I’m not saying we need to put ourselves in the paths of mass shooters, those monsters are already beyond salvation, no, what I’m saying is that we need to put ourselves in the path of those innocuous aggressions other men create—the shouting, the fist pounding, the minor scuffles—and absorb that nascent rage before it gets out of control, before it escalates. We have to learn de-escalation, and that starts by learning self-control, by learning better ways to channel and express our anger so that when it does bubble up, it’s not presented to those around us as a display of our capacity for violence.

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