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How Joe Strummer and The Clash Have Helped Me Through the Trump Era

don’t remember the first time I truly listened to Joe Strummer.

It may have been when I heard “Clampdown” off the band’s seminal 1979 album, London Calling. The song warns young men of the inherit soul-crushing nature of capitalism and reminds them that they — not the government, not The Establishment — have control of their lives.

“Let fury have the hour; anger can be power — do you know that you can use it?”

That line was my driving force in 2016, during the height of the presidential primary cycle. At the time I was volunteering for Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist and agitator of the status quo. I found parallels between Sanders and Joe Strummer of The Clash: Both were champions of socialism and the proletariat, and both were vocal critics of injustice and the oligarchy.

Though The Clash became my soundtrack during that tumultuous political year, the band hung with me long after Sanders lost the primary, Hillary Clinton lost the general and Donald (more…)

Writing

On Understanding My Jewish Roots

While growing up, we didn’t discuss being Jewish. We practiced no religious rituals, and no family member went to temple. A Yiddish swear word or phrase of exasperation often spilled from my grandma’s lips, something she picked up in her youth, or an occasional Jewish dish was prepared for family gatherings, but that was about as tribal as we got.

Our lack of Jewish cultural identity was not decided for us. It was chosen by my Eastern European great-grandmother Sophie, who upon coming to America erased any trace of Jewish identity. As I’ve aged and attempted to connect with my Ashkenazi roots, I’ve had to check my frustration with this woman I had never met. Why did you erase your past? I often ask out loud to her. And why did you decide that your kin would never know the truth?

These questions I’ve searched for in public records, DNA results and photos and documents hidden in my grandmother’s house to little avail. What facts I have been able to dig up often conflict with one another — Was (more…)

Writing

A Message to Apologists From a Survivor

Hello.

I know the daily news about another man in power being accused of sexual harassment or assault is overwhelming and disorienting.

This is new territory for all us.

I’ve watched some of my own favorite celebrities fall over the past few weeks.

It’s a confusing and weird time.

Sometimes your first thought might be “Why didn’t the victim say anything back then?” or “She/he is jumping on the bandwagon” or “Oh, get over it. It happened 20+ years ago!”

It’s normal to question what is laid in front of you, but I’m writing to you in hopes of shedding those questions and replacing them with understanding, empathy and anger.

As a person who was on the receiving end of deeply humiliating and dehumanizing sexual encounter in Hollywood, I want to add my perspective on some of the questions you may have.

Why didn’t the victim say anything back then?

There are a plethora of reasons why a victim may not come forward at the time:

  • Fear of assaulter using their power to kill (more…)
Hipstercrite Life, Writing

Should We Punch Nazis?

Let me start off by getting this out of the way:

  1. I’m a liberal, an activist and a pacifist
  2. I’m also Jewish
  3. However, I admit that I don’t know the correct answer to “Should we punch neo-Nazis?”
  4. Therefore, this essay will have more questions than answers
  5. And it’s not about the ethics of punching a neo-Nazi, or if a neo-Nazi deserves to be punched or not (they do), but rather a study on whether or not punching them is the best method to bring about positive change
  6. P.S. I hate neo-Nazis

Inlight of the events in Charlottesville, I’ve seen a large uptick in support of punching neo-Nazis.

This support is coming from thoughtful, intelligent thinkers I respect on the left and it’s got me questioning whether or not we’ve arrived at violence being the only way to achieve peace.

But as a pacifist, writing the above sentence makes me cringe; it feels like the ultimate oxymoron.

How can violence be the answer to peace?

We hold up our non-violent leaders — Martin (more…)

Writing

What Happened When I Went on a 4,000-Mile Road Trip with My Cat

Originally appeared on my Medium page

Last year, I took in a six-year-old feral cat with three teeth and mouth herpes. We named her FatFace, and she has become the center of my universe.

When I say she’s become the center of my universe, I mean I’m obsessed with her. Like, people keep telling me I should have a baby instead and I respond with “NO WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A BABY?!” and they say “I do have a baby” and I’m like “Whatever. At least I can leave my cat alone for a day and she won’t die.”

FatFace is a remarkably low-key cat considering she spent her entire life on the street. Though she’s still skeptical of most humans, she will not bite or scratch when handled and our vet constantly praises her passivity. It’s because of FatFace’s chill demeanor that I decided it was a smart idea to drive her to 18 states of America.

FatFace eating BBQ in Kansas City, MO.

                                              (more…)
Writing

Zappos helped adopt out 150 pets in Austin, Texas

Sponsored by Zappos

So, I went to the Zappos Friends with Benefits Road Show a few weekends ago, and it was amazing. I got to watch sweet doggy after doggy get adopted out to new families—doggies like Princess!

Princess now has a forever home!

I also got to oooh and aww over adorable workout gear with dogs on them. Check out how awesome these shirts and pants are.


I’m so excited to have been a part of this event. Zappos adopted out over 150 pets by teaming up with Austin Animal Center, and they’ve covered over 16,000 adoption fees across the country! Make sure to check out their Friends with Benefits Road Show page to see where they’re headed to next.

And don’t forget: Sign up for Zappos Rewards Program  where you can get free shipping, rewards, early access to sales and the option to buy sweet Frye boots like these. I’m in love.

P.S. Just a reminder that I’ll be donating $50 from this (more…)

Writing

My 2017 Resolutions by Theodore Roosevelt

theodore roosevelt

(This is my first McSweeney’s rejection. Please enjoy! No, really. Please enjoy it.)

——

My dearest 2017,

Your predecessor was a challenging year for both me and my country, and I aim to put 2016 to bed like the bear I shot through the eyes on my last trek to the wildness of Wyoming.

In order to move forward on my goals for a robust and cheerful 2017, I’ve compiled a list of resolutions to heed.

These resolutions are as follows:

1. Challenge that mollycoddle Mr. Trump to a grizzly bear-wrestling competition. Whoever wins will earn the coveted title of President of Earth. (No need to worry: What I lack in height I make up for in sheer man girth.)

2. Personally protect every goddamn National Park with my militia of mercenaries known as the Teddy Bears.

3. Free climb Mt. Rushmore and draw a black ring around the eye of that pansy Thomas Jefferson.

4. Host a dinner for the current members of the Republican Party where I will smack each of their whiny derrieres with my “big stick” — especially (more…)

Writing

What We Learned at Standing Rock: A Guide for Allies

Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock

Two weeks ago, four of us decided to drive to Standing Rock and deliver supplies to the water protectors and protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We raised $3,500 in six days and filled two cars to the brim with milk of magnesia (for pepper spray in eyes), firewood, propane, sleeping bags, face masks, construction helmets and other supplies our contacts at the camp said they needed.

During our time there, we learned a great deal, particularly on how to be the best ally we can be. If you’re thinking of heading to Standing Rock or would like to support the movement in other ways, please read:

Ask Yourself Why You’re Going to Standing Rock

If you are going to Standing Rock for reasons other than dropping off supplies or offering skills such as direct action, legal or medical aid, food preparation or construction for an extended period of time, your presence might do more harm than good. Why? Because there are limited resources (more…)

Writing

We stand with Standing Rock.

Standing Rock

Friends, Geoff and I decided last week that we will spend our Thanksgiving holiday dropping off supplies at Standing Rock and helping in any way we can for a couple of days.

Since announcing this last week, donations of supplies and money have poured in. Seeing friends and strangers come together to help the protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline has given me hope during a time of uncertainty.

I will probably write about the journey on the blog, but if you’re interested in following our journey, please hit me up on Twitter and Instagram. I hope to share as much as possible about the fight of the protestors.

And if you’re interest in contributing in any way, please put a comment down below.

Excellent resources to follow during this time are:
Native Opinion
Native News Online
Indian Country Today Media Network
Sacred Stone Camp on FB
Democracy Now!

Water is life, y’all!

And the future is unwritten.

(As I write this, protestors are getting shot with water cannons (more…)

Writing

Now is a Great Time to Start Making Art

I’m currently reading the fantastic book Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War by Adam Hochschild, and I can’t help but draw parallels to the Spanish Civil War and post-2016 election America.

The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939, was a battle between fascism (Nationalists) and progress (Republicans). On the left, communists, socialists, anarchists, revolutionaries and artists banned together to fight oppression and conservatism. Their fight was hard, and ultimately ended in defeat (and the beginning of WWII), but their efforts inspired some of the greatest works in literature and art: Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, the latter two writers both spending time in Spain during the war — Hemingway as a journalist and Orwell as a Republican fighter.

With the results of the 2016 election, I felt the urge to do something I haven’t thought about doing in a long time: to write a private diary. This diary (more…)