Friday, January 27, 2017

The Siren Song of Donny Tinyhands

 So I marched and it was good.

 It does not make bearable the news.

 I watch my country fall to the darkness of serving money. I see the ultimate loyalty is to what we own and what is ours and what is not theirs. The House of Representatives worships an orange man with a golden palace. It is delicious for many to sink into the mindless slumber of unthinking support. I wonder where virtue has gone.

In me stirs a longing for sisterhood, for autonomy.  In me stirs the fire of revolution.

What began on January 21 was a movement, and now we must keep moving. It's World War Z and movement is life.

No one will invite you to be in this movement, maybe, except me.

What we need is not to fight what is, but to move toward a beautiful vision of what can be, to create a choice for justice that is real and compelling and takes power, that takes power by the force of its virtue.  We need to imagine a world where all are fed, and all have autonomy over their bodies and their lives. We need to imagine a world where the parasite of humanity has been taught to allow the host to thrive. Thrive. The gag order on the EPA chokes this vision, and silences us. Scares us.

Rise up. Not from fear but from your wisdom. Rise up for your children and your children's children.

The enemy to be defeated is not the Mexicans. It is not the Muslims. And further - there is no enemy. There are only the injustices before us.  Not even DT is the enemy.

The Siren Song of Donny Tinyhands will not be defeated by seeing him as the enemy.  He offers something to his followers. We must offer something more to ours.

The Siren Song of Donny Tinyhands will be defeated by composing a better song, and singing it, a fight song or a symphony - Mahler's 3rd maybe. A song of the earth, and of women, birds, dolphins, bees, slavery, refugees, drought, oppression, education, compassion, a song of justice and courts and wisdom, a song for humans dancing, touching and smiling. A song for this fragile earth, our island home.   A song to the humans of our past, a song to all our gods and angels. Let a song rise up that we can even dance to. The song will not include borders and sovereigns and corporations, derivative trades and shareholder returns. The song will not include multinational tech companies. It will not include Democrats and Republicans.

Even the tiniest strain of the song of justice and compassion, even a snippet, can unseat the primacy of the siren song of dictatorship.

First we need to hear it, and if we cannot hear it, we must compose it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What should my sign say?

What follows is a query from a woman with a broken heart.

Tonight I heard of the ludicrous confirmation hearings, and how our cabinet will have bought their positions for money or worse. Our government was run by people with a common ethic of public service and that era has now and truly ended.  The pigs live in the farmhouse now. And it's the logical end of where we have been headed, the hijack has been heading our way for a long time. As Bill Clinton Hercules admits, money is the most powerful god of all.  Money ate democracy.

We stand on the brink of the end of democracy. It is up to us to save it. It is up to you and me. The marches across the globe will be so powerful, I can feel it already, I know they will be, but they will be powerful like a play, it will be fleeting. By any god you believe in, by the moon and the stars and the fragile earth our island home, by the legacy of Jesus Christ and Superman and Thomas Payne and Danny Kaye and Nina Simone and all you and I hold dear, I swear on all sacred things that you cannot be done after the march.  We can't think for a moment our job is done. This is the recruitment meeting run by all of us trying to recruit all of us into bringing about a better world.  Or at least avoid handing over a complete cesspool to our children.

I don't mind much where we start, with the Greens or with the Women's Equality party, with Anonymous or local councils, or the courts, we can all pick a place. We don't live in the times of Martin Luther King, Jr. Getting beat up by the cops doesn't translate into any social gain. The 1% is too insulated now, too apart.  We have to win elections and court cases.

So the query to you is what should my sign say? I mean my old standby from Occupy, which became a personal mantra, is on the picture on this blog: Justice Is Possible. And the great thing is that I'm just some dork, but I am some dork who studied the philosophy of law, and has practiced law, and knows a few things here and there about the rule of law. So I like that slogan because we need hope.

But it is yesterday's news. I mean, I do feel such hope with the Women's Equality Party. I feel like by serendipity, they have walked into their time. I would be proud to hold their banner.  If you know me, you know my dreams and you know the dream of mine that I gave to Bill Clinton Hercules and you know that in my dream, one reluctant woman was key to everything, she was old and fat and uncomfortable but she knew what she had to do was sit there, and she pinned down all the paper things that bring us suffering: she pinned down the primacy of shareholder return, the bloated consumerist values of the West, she pinned down the endless growth that endlessly hurts the earth. She did it. She is us.  So how about: The Future is Feminine? Or a line I wrote into a play last night: Liberty and Justice are women?

All this self-referential stuff is really mostly for my own amusement. How can I inspire the resolution required for social change?  I have to admit - being so broken-hearted makes me prone to falling in love and I recently fell really in love with Hurwitz's score in La La Land. I really never thought that there would ever be a new swing score with the vibrancy and depth he has. I mean, it reminds me of Bernstein. Goddamn.

 A number of possible signs from La La Land:

Here's to our hearts that break
Here's to the mess we make

Here's to the rebels
And ripples in pebbles.

And what about the Christians? As always I wonder at the culture which gives people the overwhelming sense that everything is all right. Everything is not all right. Read the beatitudes and think of Trump and Brexit. Possible signs: Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the peacemakers.  Paul was a tentmaker. Jesus would never grab someone by the pussy. That kind of stuff.

Then there is the fury that rises in me and I want to recruit for some stone cold treason. I want to be a threat- not with violence but with a very good plan. A legal plan. So I want people to be inspired to the extremes that I have felt since 2011. I mean, welcome to the march everyone, I've been here for a while and I have nothing but love and respect for you. You may find that this changes you. And you may find that the times change you, and change your life.  So Revolution! is one I am thinking about.  I like Love Not Hate and also love Bridges Not Walls.  I would love a tie-in with Thomas Paine and the American revolution.

I will bring my Anonymous mask.

Mostly I attend this march to demonstrate my broken heart. Dance a dirge in measured sneakered feet. Maybe that will be my sign. Just a broken heart emoji. Maybe that is all I can do now. I mean, I think we are all a little traumatized but what can I say? There is never a good time to get in there and fight. There is only now.  There is a fire to extinguish. We have got to turn this ship around. I know we can do it.  It's going to have to involve real people making personal sacrifices, but real people making personal sacrifices doesn't strike me as any good for a marketing slogan.

I keep thinking of that quote from Marianne Williamson. Any line from this is perfect:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Maybe I will do something simple. Let Your Own Light Shine. 

If Not Today, When? If not us, Who?  - That was on one side of one I carried at the Occupy Planning/NHS protest on Westminster Bridge. On the other side it said:

Governments Should Serve People, Not Banks. 

That one really does get to the heart of a lot of this (including Brexit, surprisingly, through the catering to capital.

My Daughter's Name Is Liberty. 

That one is good too.

Fiat Justitia Ruat Coelum: to those with a sharp eye, this Latin legal dictate was printed on the back of our Christmas cards. It means: Let justice be done, though the heavens be torn asunder.  That is a good one for our times, because it is ballsy and empowered.

What sign do you think?

Another one I was considering earlier this week: Screw You Consumerist War Pigs. 

Along with Love. 

I hope you will tweet to me at @rachelmariner all the pictures of your march and I hope you will tell me what your sign will say.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why I'm Marching

So I'm going to this Women's March in London a week from Saturday. I knew from the second I heard about it that I would go. Come with me.

I'm feeling bad. In a post-truth world I don't know what to believe.

I don't know if the President Elect is a Russian spy. I don't know where even to get the news: the bias from all angles feels false. Feels hollow. Feelings are where justice comes from, right? Because it goes from a feeling that something is unbearable to a resolution to change it, to action. The big victories for humans - the progression of our virtue and our civilisation - they started in the feeling that I am having now and that you also may be having now especially in light of Brexit and our White Witch Prime Minister, in light of Trump and the Russians, in light of Calais, Aleppo: the world is dark. Curse the darkness or light a candle, that's your only goddamned choice.

The resolution to change anything is a kind of betrayal, even lighting a candle is treason against the darkness. All justice comes from treason though. The Rosa Parks - Vaclev Havel - Antigone kind of justice - it comes from betraying what is there before you today. Perhaps the usefulness of this march is to empower us to begin our long betrayal.

To quote Danny Kaye performing The Maladjusted Jester:

"The first step of all isn't hard to recall for the first step of all is to stand."

I don't think it's enough to march. It's not enough to raise awareness. It's not enough to call attention to the problem. It's not enough to write plays where for a shining moment people are inspired and then they go back to their lives. Even if everyone had that feeling it would still just be a feeling. I mean we have to do something.  Since Danny Kaye is never wrong:  the first step of all is to stand. This march is the first step toward treason.

Since Occupy I have read and thought about what protest should look like now, and I agree with Micah White that really there is no point in going out into the street in terms of influencing people who hold power. But I'm still going. Because first, sometimes it's not rational. And second, Danny Kaye. Sometimes you have to express yourself with your body. These screens aren't doing it for me, and the more we get into this lake of shit that is the situation with Russian hacking, the less I want to engage with social media. Liking something on FB is not the same as using your body to stand.

You know what I do a lot right now? Give my kids foot rubs and hugs. Look them in the eye when they are talking to me. I am making sure I am surrounded by reminders of humanaty, simple human things.

And in that quest for being human, I find an overwhelming desire to heal. Others feel total despair right now, I see us turning thing ocean liner around.  Maybe Micah White is wrong. Maybe taking a stand will make a difference. If not in the world, then in us.

I hope I'm wrong on this one but I find the younger generations overly docile and too deferential to authority. Their parents didn't let them develop their judgment. Generation X  may be the last generation able to do what needs to be done. My generation has the money and longevity now to heal the many wounds of the world. We can get elected, we can organize, yes we can.  The only way to do that is by not demanding justice, but by being powerful enough to implement justice. Win elections. Change governments. Open courts. Pass laws. Take power. Treason.

We think of ourselves as powerless to take on the injustices of our time. Consumerism and unregulated capitalism have captured our imaginations. They have captured all of our time. And then, with respect to activism, everyone is in their own lovely activist ghetto: their church or school. But those aren't working. It's time to imagine the kind of world we want for 2027 and start to make it happen now. By claiming power. It is time for the lawyers and the playwrights and the Christians and the moms, the farmers and the cowmen, the campaigners for peace, the guardians of human rights, the stewards of the earth - to call ourselves all those things and become all those things. It is time to stand.

Come with me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Where I agree with Steve Bannon

One thing I want to make sure of, if you look at the leaders of capitalism at that time, when capitalism was I believe at its highest flower and spreading its benefits to most of mankind, almost all of those capitalists were strong believers in the Judeo-Christian West. They were either active participants in the Jewish faith, they were active participants in the Christians’ faith, and they took their beliefs, and the underpinnings of their beliefs was manifested in the work they did. And I think that’s incredibly important and something that would really become unmoored. I can see this on Wall Street today — I can see this with the securitization of everything is that, everything is looked at as a securitization opportunity. People are looked at as commodities. I don’t believe that our forefathers had that same belief.

- Steve Bannon.

Read his speeches. I agree with this. This is the repugnancy of neoliberalism - that capitalism has turned from having its underpinnings in the rule of law and equitable negotiation and covenants (contracts) into being global highway robbery. The Dems/the Left can acknowledge this truth and split from their Davos/Bono overlords, or they can keep goddamned losing elections because they think the working poor should consider themselves fortunate to be able to vote for an overlord. Don't you get it you guys? We're China now, with a lot of same-y people at the top, and this vote was the impoverished of America pressing the SCREW THIS button. The racism, antisemitism, misogyny and homophobia were bolt-on applications that Bannon and the alt-right have odiously connected to an economic message. But this economic message is fundamentally sound.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


I can't watch. I couldn't rouse myself to watch the first debate, though I tried, and I couldn't stream the Cubs' victory last week and like Brexit, I figure, why rob myself of a good night's sleep, the result will still be there in the morning. Or the news of the shootings. Or martial law, you know, all depending.

So many of my friends feel good today, posting about tearing up, feel like something good has happened, this groundswell of effort for Hillary. Pantsuit nation. They feel so good that perhaps they don't notice that the big ugly problems are not going away. They feel great because Michelle Obama said to go high, so they went high, but that only is in comparison to people calling for Hillary to be jailed, so it's not that high. This wasn't a campaign on issues. Not even the bullshit flashpoint faux issues that traditionally divide voters. This was campaign as reality television, a battle of personalities and footage. It was awful. Read about the Lincoln-Douglas debates and realize the days of intelligent discourse are way, way behind us. Blech.

Does anyone else in their heart of hearts think that Hillary got as far as she got partly because of her husband? Does anyone else fear the absolute groundswell of misogyny - unconscious yet unmistakable - in the comments about her? In the feelings people had about her? In the hate?  Maybe I should be grateful the ceiling could be shattered tonight. Maybe I should celebrate the good and not dwell on the massive giant flaws.  But really: we haven't come that long of a way, baby.

I wish the Republicans had not let the Evangelicals turn their political party into a nasty partisan zealot club. I wish that old enemies could reconcile. I wish that someone in some far off reach of this campaign had an objection to war, the money, all the drone killings. I wish someone was speaking about peace. I really wish that. Peace is only mentioned on Christmas cards now and I hate it. I will send your Christmas card back with 'screw you' written on it if it mentions peace and you voted for Hillary, because she's a hawk.

 I wish that corporations didn't have a lockdown on Congress. I wish that the first thing they told you when you ran for Congress was that you could make a difference - not that you needed to ask corporations for money. I wish that all that anger that translates to Trump support could be acknowledged in some big, meaningful way. I wish that the judiciary could see how blind they are to their own disempowerment. I wish someone could start bringing lawsuits against those in Congress blocking confirmation of Merrick Garland. WHEREFORE MERRICK GARLAND, everyone?

You can take your daughters to the polling stations all you want and God bless you for it but deep down you know what I know: the world is getting worse. We are in a dark place and it is getting darker. The United States is gripped with bipolar disorder, and no one at one end will make friends with those at the other. In fact the last year has just made it worse.

Monday, October 31, 2016

My Samhain

Hallowe'en is from Samhain, the Celtic pagan holiday that commemorated the dark half of the year. On October 31st, the veil between the living and the dead was weak, the living could visit the dead and the dead could visit the living The original jack o'lanterns were turnips in Ireland to ward off the less savoury dead characters, the troublesome ghosts and demons. And  trick or treating is from mumming, when villagers would dress as the demons and the less savoury dead, and get treats in exchange for leaving homeowners in peace. Trick or treat: children echoing ancients pretending to be demons.

I have my dead on this Samhain, but my Samhain is Halloween, it's Timewarp, and Snickers bars. My Samhain is hitting Sixth Street even though I lived on Fourth to get as much candy as possible. Tonight my daughter was invited to a White Party at a church because some people now think that the demons may be knocking, but I invited her to come trick-or-treating instead, to walk in darkness and befriend the demons.  The anarchy of walking in the dark and knocking on stranger's doors, the homespun panic of putting up braids so that Princess Buttercup was just right, the using up of my best eyeliner on cat whiskers and bat noses, that is my Samhain. I honoured my dead with the chaos of Ghostbusters and doorbells and tails falling off seven-year-old cats. I gave myself over to the ritual I knew and went deep. I smelled leaves and watched toddlers hustling for Maltesers and immersed myself in this thin moment.

I don't know where the dead are. I know they can't be  ignored. I know there is no point in a white party that pretends the darkness isn't there. It is there. I made my peace with the darkness tonight with small Mars bars and streetlights and individual packets of Haribos. It is enough. Goodnight, my dead. Goodnight Nick. Goodnight Francesca. Goodnight Mark. Goodnight Taid. If the veil was thin enough, I would have offered you a drink and invited you along. I would have given you Twix and M&Ms not to leave but to stay. I would have handed them out of my £5.99 plastic cauldron. I would have been grateful for Samhain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blindness and Betrayal

I am thinking about blindness and betrayal. I am working on this courtroom drama  based on a true story about a jury case I tried in Federal Court in 1997. The first time the phrase 'predatory lending' was used in court. I read the whole manuscript of the trial when I started working the play and I have to tell you I come across as kind of a racist on the spectrum. I mean we won so there's that, but I have been thinking about my blindness in that time. I am not claiming to have perfect vision now, but at the time, I had been deeply acculturated into thinking that a hoop jumping Harvard Lawyer working at a top firm really did know better than everyone else.  I dismissed a certain percentage of what my client Mr. Williams told me as fanciful. As untrue. Or an exaggeration. 

For instance he used to tell this story (which may not make it into the script) 

EARL:          Where I live more of a war zone.

RUBEN:         Objection.  Relevance.

JUDGE:         Sustained.    

EARL:          (Oblivious) I remember one summer, some crack heads took over a tore-up housing project over to N Street.  It was a Friday night. Police try to shoot them out.  Now that don’t work. Those crack heads in a concrete bunker!  So the National Guard they sent in some tanks plow right in there and they set up these lights, these real bright lights like they use for the Oriole night games. Shined it in to drive the crackheads crazy. And they played music. They played some white musicall hours. (SINGING) “IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN ---- da-da DAH dah, dada dah dah dah; dada DAH dah, dada dah dah dah. ”   

REBECCA:       Earl, stop. Sorry, Mr. Johnson, the objection was sustained. That means you’re supposed to stop talking. Remember? What happened at the money places on Georgia?

I used to think he was making this up. Tanks? In a neighborhood? I mean come on.  Surely that would be in the papers! That's what I thought.  No! He’s making that up.

A month ago I watched the opening sequence of Straight Outta Compton which takes place the same year (but in L.A. not Washington).  It is exactly what Mr. Williams described. I sat in my living room alone shaking my head for a long time. There was a tank. I mean the whole thing. So you know, I really had no idea how bad it was out there for some people even though I thought I was this do-gooder. Now that I have some marginally greater level of insight that comes with age and reading The Economist  I still am pretty blind. The trick may be to know your own understanding is limited, and what other people tell you about reality should in fact be taken as helpful in understanding it. This is of course a pain in the ass. But if you want to be a good human, that’s really the only deal on the table.

If we can start with the logs in our own eyes that might be good.

Betrayal. I recently read a quote from a French philosopher (not really sure of the source) who said that moving forward in life requires that you say goodbye to things and people and projects, and viewpoints and habits. That everyone should daily practice this painful art of making room for the new by saying goodbye to the old.

What I see in this is that it is time to say goodbye to the things that do not serve us, and honest to God, that includes the current UK government.

It may be that it can be fixed, but honestly, we must betray the government in its current form for the sake of the people we are blind to.  Not because we don’t love our country but because we do. For the sake of our children. Out of love for pure justice and the rule of law. Because this is the land of the Magna Carta.  

Betrayal hurts, it feels ick, it is frightening, you are depriving yourself of something that was once a part of you, but if we want to move forward as good humans, this is what we have to face.

Because the earth is ill and sixty-five million have no homes and we are mired in endless war, serving at all and every instance not the needs of our humanity and our planet but shareholder return. Corporate interests. Growth.

I watch this election in the States and the refugees and it is increasingly unbearable for me to benefit as I do from the bank-serving state while the victims of the state are unaided. I don’t have enough Rawlsian faith in the system. Why are we putting up with it? How can we put it behind us and make room for something new – something reformed – something that serves the earth and the humans.

We see where we are blind and we betray what is to make room for what we want to be.