Wednesday, November 28, 2018

On being Other in a world that would rather I wasn't

So this is the blog where I get the most political.
Because bicycles, sustainability, economic justice and social justice all intersect here.

So when I'm called out for speaking my truth, for calling out a case of cultural appropriation, and then getting my head handed to me by the folks who basically rule in my professional landscape, well, that really hurts.

Here is the text of a post I shared elsewhere, and then retracted because it was too politically charged and the language deemed too hurtful.

Can you handle metaphor? Promise? Great. Read on.

***    ***    ***   

(from a FB post earlier today)

I'm about to get my head handed to me somewhere. But I think this needs to be said.
I watched the newest video from the vocal band Six13. Six13 is an a cappella group of six Orthodox Jewish men and their harmonies and arrangements are often amazing. Their musicianship is evident in everything they record.

Their latest video is a "parody" of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," with the lyrics re-written to tell the story of Chanukah but the vocal harmonies left the same as in the original.
It's well-crafted.

AND --

I actually did not like this at all. And I had to think about why I didn't like it. Because on its face it is pretty cool.
Until I finally realized that I struggle to appreciate this because six frum boys appropriated the musical genius of a man whose pansexuality and flamboyance they might not defend publicly if he were still alive today.

Cultural appropriation of queer people is a real thing. And it troubles me deeply. Especially when it's done by people who think it's perfectly fine to condemn the individual human being while at the same time borrowing his artistic gift.
And I guess that's why I can't get excited about this.

As a queer person, I'm just calling it like I see it.

Cultural appropriation is theft.
Cultural appropriation is murder.

***    ***    ***    ***

So that's what I originally posted. At my personal FB page, which probably has too much overlap with my professional life. (Yeah. I'm gonna work on that.)

And within five minutes of hitting "post" I was besieged by over a dozen Jewish professional colleagues who PM'd me to tell me my post was inappropriate and that I owed the group an apology because my words were so hurtful.

I sent the apology. And, because I'm sensitive to the realities of my professional landscape, I also decided to pull the post by marking it "Me Only". I didn't delete it because while my words are intense, they are still how I feel. And at some future moment I will want to return to them and re-read them and ponder.

These guys may be all over the map individually, but they move with ease through the Orthodox world, and within a system that says queers are not acceptable and that women should not sing out loud within earshot of men because inserting the controls for men's sexual urges is actually the woman's job. (No Jewish stream is monolithic, but Orthodoxy is more unified and leans more rightward on a lot of social issues than most other streams of Jewish identity. So, sorry, but yeah, that's a thing.)

The older I get, the angrier I get -- especially about everything I've had to stuff over a lifetime of being not only other, but silenced for it. And I guess that at some future point I'll be compelled to choose between keeping peace in my professional landscape so I can get work, or throwing up my hands and deciding that I'm going to be like the Shondes, a Jewish band who will likely never perform in a mainstream Jewish space again because of their sexual and global politics.

I'll put this aside for now. Anyone who wants to read it here, read away. If you want to seriously engage, and if you can do that without attacking me, great. I'd love it. But if all you want to do is tell me to shut up about my pain and anger, I'm not interested. See ya.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

introducing my new blog

In the past I've shared occasional forays into my drumming world at this blog.
But as my interest in drumming has grown, and I've made more time for drumming in my daily musical life, I figure it's time to make space for it elsewhere.

If you or someone you love is into drums and percussion, check out DRUMLOVE, my new blog devoted to drums and percussion and everything related to it.

Check it out!

Monday, November 12, 2018

2018 Coffeeneuring Challenge # 9 & 10 ("Make mine a double")

Everything is bonus now, but since the Challenge is ending soon I've decided to add more as I'm able to. The weather turned cold last week, and this week the lows are down into the 30s at night. The air is cold and dry, and as long as I bundle up it's actually pretty nice riding.
Today I ran errands after my morning's work. My first stop was New Seasons Market on North Williams, to pick up a couple of staples and have a cup of coffee.

Stumptown Coffee makes a special blend for the New Seasons Market chain. It's robust and very flavorful without being overly strong.

I coupled it with a favorite treat -- New Seasons' Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Krispy bar. Try it.

After that, I rode over to a friend's house not far from the market, to pick up my official Unpresidented Brass Band t-shirt. It's a little cold to play gigs in a t-shirt now -- word on the street is that we'll also be ordering hoodies soon -- but it was nice to finally get a t-shirt after playing with these guys a few times.

After I left my friend's house, I pedaled over to Breadwinner Cycles Cafe.

I still had some coffee in my mug, but I needed a bathroom and figured I could find something cheap to buy while I stopped there. I enjoyed a fabulous peanut butter cookie (I can basically eat peanut butter every day. I love the stuff) and relaxed with a magazine while I watched a new frame being brazed.

Breadwinner Cycles, a partnership between custom frame builders Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira,  has grown in both reputation and production since its beginnings several years ago. Today the workshop is housed inside a spacious industrial building with room for a small cafe. A large window allows cafe patrons to watch the craftspeople at work.

I will never buy a frame here -- I have all the bikes I need and they work perfectly fine for me -- but the bicycles made here are exquisite, beautifully and durably-made works of true craft. I've known these guys a long time and am happy to patronize their business in any way I can. (Breadwinner has a nice partnership with Water Avenue Coffee, which is locally roasted and absolutely delicious. Get some.)
I ran a couple more errands on the way home. The air was cooling as the sun sank lower in the sky, and the wind picked up again. Although my bad knee was beginning to complain, I still enjoyed riding along with the wind behind me for a change. By the time I rolled up to the house it was going on 4:30 and the moon was high in the evening sky. When I looked for it again a couple of hours later, it was larger, lower in the sky and about to set.  Long winter evenings are returning, and with them shorter rides in more layers, and hot tea when I get home.

This will possibly be the last intentional ride I log for the Coffeeneuring Challenge. It's been fun, but at this point I've got a ton of prep still to do for my big extended [music] tour of the year, coming up at month-end. I'll ride more, of course, but at this point I'll file future coffeeneuring rides under Off-Season Coffeeneuring (see #alwaysbecoffeeneuring).

Buckets of appreciation to Mary G. for hosting the 8th year of the Challenge. One of my favorite colder-weather ride series and I enjoy it every year. Looking forward to the Errandonnee later this winter, and of course the annual #30daysofbiking next April.

Until then, I'll be looking for reasons to enjoy short neighborhood rides.
Happy riding!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 8: Havurah Shalom

My synagogue community, Havurah Shalom, holds worship services every Saturday morning without fail. Our Conservative-style gathering includes lots of singing and praying, all centered around a Torah service where we read the weekly portion from the Torah scroll. We end by blessing wine/juice and breaking bread together. Sometimes there's a kiddush lunch, too.

Today's service, part of a worldwide movement called #solidarityshabbat, was advertised as a "slightly expanded" regular community minyan. Sweetie was really tired and underslept, so she stayed home and I rode into town. I made coffee to take along in my thermal cup (Nossa Familia Italian Roast. Get some) and rode away from the house in cool air with a touch of leftover nighttime dampness.
Photo: Interstate Avenue bike lane, leading up to the Broadway Bridge. Those are grain silos. The Willamette River is below, on the other side of them. Trains bring wheat from Eastern Oregon, and it's loaded onto ships headed for Asia and Europe.
Oregon is a major contributor to US exports opf hard wheat.

Below: On the Broadway Bridge, with the Fremont Bridge in the distance.

My tallit (prayer shawl) in its bag.
I didn't need to stick it in a plastic bag because it stayed dry all day.

The All-Rounder, parked outside my shul, Havurah Shalom. The sanctuary was packed to standing room only. People sang and swayed to the music, and talked with each other about our collective fear. We resolved to move forward together to help each other and make our community and our world safer and better.

It was a really good morning to spend in community.

Riding home was sweet. I rode along tree-lined streets turned golden by the changing season.
Riding under trees that were shaped like a leafy canopy took my breath away. Knowing that within a month it would be gone, I had to stop and admire it. And give thanks.

(looking eastward on N. Ainsworth Street.)
There is nothing like riding at a slow enough pace to actually notice beauty. Total: around 9 miles.

I may try and squeak in another one or two Coffee rides before the Challenge ends.
Happy riding!

Friday, November 2, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 7 -- bento-neuring edition: Gino's Teriyaki

It got too late in the day to get coffee, so I went for lunch. Gino's Teriyaki has been a mainstay on Killingsworth for years. Last summer it changed owners and the menu and service have slowly crept downward. Still, I had hopes for something decent.
The chicken bowl was okay. They were out of soy sauce. (Really? What Asian restaurant runs out of soy sauce? Seriously.)

The bike rack is just ridiculous.
Nowhere else to go without sticking the back end out into a car parking spot.
And when I do that, someone complains.

Meanwhile, the place looks sad and quiet. At the height of the lunch rush there were exactly three people eating inside. The sign on the window advertising "Cashier Wanted" had been there for a few weeks. Good help is hard to find, I guess.
My lunch was merely okay. I drank a whole lot of water (beverage requirement fulfilled.)
But I needed a ride to forget it.
Fortunately, the fall colors are still pretty splendid around here so I didn't lack for pretty sights to lift my spirits.

Mood: better after a two-mile ramble around Woodlawn neighborhood.

It's not coffee, but I rode at least four miles and I drank something with my lunch. I'll call it good. Though I suspect I won't go back unless the place changes hands again.
Because right now, it's a plateful of meh.

In other news: The local black community paper, which I read over lunch, interviewed folks about why voting matters to them. Four of the five featured all gave perfectly sound reasons for voting.

The fifth said this:
Entitled brat.
Yeah, I know.
But still, if you don't vote you shouldn't be allowed to bitch.

Looking forward to riding into town tomorrow for services, and getting some good coffee on the way home. Wherever you are, be sure to vote next Tuesday -- and happy riding!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 5 & 6: ashland, oregon

Just got home from a week in Ashland, Oregon, seeing the final week of plays in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2018 season with family and friends. Knowing that there'd be a lot of sitting around, Idecided to take the folding bike and run it through some longer paces.

In order to accommodate the show schedule (6 plays in 5 days), I opted to do # 5 early in the week, a stretch of the rules but still well within the spirit of coffeeneuring.

Ride # 5: Case Coffee, Ashland.

This began with a ride around downtown Ashland to see the lay of the land by bicycle. The folder worked beautifully and once I dialed in the saddle height I was very comfortable.
First stop: Brothers Restaurant, where I was treated indifferently by a distracted waiter and served a small coffee for three bucks that turned out to be lukewarm and weak.
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I didn't sip it until I'd gotten back to my bike, so by then I decided not to make a stink. But I knew I had to find something better or I'd be sad all afternoon.

So I saddled up and rode out onto Siskyou Boulevard, out to the far end of Southern Oregon University, where I saw a cafe called Case. I decided to toss my coffee and try again.
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I was pleasantly surprised. The coffee was fresh, hot and had an interesting almost floral finish that worked well with cream and sugar.
I would return to Case three more times during my stay in Ashland, because the coffee was simply and reliably awesome every time. I learned that there are two locations: "Upper" Case on Siskyou (whee they roast their beans) and "Lower" Case on Lithia Way (a smaller, more intimate location)  near our hotel. Both had great coffee and a nice selection of pastries.

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The ride there and back was lovely and allowed me to see more of Ashland than just the downtown quarter neat the OSF theatres. I'll certainly visit Case again next time I'm down there.
Total: 5 miles

Ride # 6: Pony Espresso, Ashland.

This began with word first thing in the morning about the synagogue murders in Pittsburgh, PA. Sweetie and I were devastated but knew the place to go was the shul where we'd planned to attend services anyway. I decided to take the bike so I could have a slightly longer a ride out into the country to Temple Emek Shalom. The community was warmly welcoming and glad to have us join them, and praying with them was a balm for my head and heart. I promised that I'd return when my travels brought me back to Ashland.

After services, I took a scenic route back to town along the Bear Creek Path and wound up at Pony Espresso Cafe, where I stopped for a fresh cup of Columbian and a piece of lemon pound cake I'd brought along from the Oneg Shabbat table at the shul. Nice combination. And a longer ride on a gorgeous day that was sunny and unseasonably warm, with a high of almost 70F.
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Total: about 7 miles.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 4: taco bell. (i know, i know.)

I left the house around 12:30 and rode to three different places that all turned out to be closed on Sundays. The fourth place had a line out the door. In the end, I decided to go to Peet's, where I thought I had a little something left on my card. But on the way there, I was confronted with yet another block of tents parked along a sidewalk.

My heart sank.

Shit, I thought. Will this ever get better? And what can I do about it if the people with the power and wealth won't do anything?
An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 men, women and children go to sleep outside every night in Portland, due to a crippling combination of things that all point to the one big thing: poverty.

When you're dirt poor in a city, you can't always access medical or social services. The cost of transit fare may be enough to halt you in your tracks. Rents are rising much faster than wages. There is a severe lack of affordable housing that the city and development interests are simply not acting to remedy.

So we have a ton of people forced to sleep outside.
And their numbers are growing.

Distraught at the sight of another row of tents, I lost all interest in coffee. But I hadn't eaten anything since around 7am and it was going on 2:30. I had to eat something in order to take my meds, so I went to the closest place I could find: A Taco Bell.

Yeah, I know. It really is all that bad.
I ordered a veggie burrito and some cinnamon twists, and ate them with my own bottle of water while I watched the people around me.

Inside and outside the restaurant, people who looked like they hadn't bathed or eaten in days clustered around benches, fell asleep at an inside table, or nibbled the edge of a paper cup that had held liquid hours ago.

My "lunch," such as it was, cost less than three bucks. Fast food is cheap and that's why poor people eat lots of it.

Not sure whether or not I'll continue the coffeeneuring challenge. Today, like so many other things I do in my day to day living, it feels sort of pointless. I'll see how things go tomorrow.