I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to present at the annual American Studies Association earlier this month. I presented a paper about Janet Cardiff and her soundwalk Her Long Black Hair and how shifting the focus of analysis from the meaning of the soundwalk to the artistic practice of the work can create space to engage political praxis through the act of listening. I got lots of great feedback and learned so much from my fellow panel mates and the other sessions I attended. Of course I bought more books than I can read this year, but oh well. I loved ASA and visiting Honolulu and am looking forward to coming back.
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There is an oli (chant) that people who are protectors of the mauna sing that ends with e hū e which means (to my understanding) a motion of rising forth and overflowing like the motion of a wave.
While I was in Honolulu people kept saying welcome to paradise and it was true in a way. But it was so complicated, I was so disgusted and sad walking around Waikiki early one morning seeing bloated tourists juxtapose the number of homeless people who were mostly people of color and I don't know for sure but I'm sure a number were native Hawaiians. I didn't want to stay in that part of town but I'm glad that I did so that I could witness these different realities mixing.
And then at the same time feeling immense swelling of pride touring UH's campus and learning about the history of student activism and seeing the students currently organizing to stop the TMT project on Mauna Kea.
Then another day I was wandering around town floating in and out of shops and was taken aback by peoples kindness and not being seen as threatening. It's hard to describe but even in our "progressive" "liberal" cities like my hometown of Los Angeles people make a split second judgement about whether you are worth their time and whether you are a threat or not. I'm not saying Hawaii is perfect and that there aren't issues with over-policing people of color, because I know otherwise.
What I am saying was that I got to taste what it feels like to be unremarkable.
I didn't feel like an other. (even though I totally am)
And that was paradise.
I don't think the idea of paradise can exist without imagination.
I was in paradise because I got to grieve and imagine an alternative version of what my ancestors might have felt arriving to a foreign island and that place becoming home. Again this is all imagining but I felt something seeing banana, coconut, and breadfruit trees and remembering stories I've heard about my great grandmother or even my grandfather interacting with these life forms that I had no context of understanding growing up in California. My mom got me a children's book about the Caribbean when I was little but I had no understanding of what those kinds of places felt like.
Being in Hawai'i wasn't coming home because those aren't my islands but it did nurture and make whole a space in my heart reserved for home that felt unmoored that now feels rooted and I have so much gratitude for that.
The day I had to return to New York I went body surfing with my stepdad and I finally had a connection to what Hū feels likes... It feels like surrender, being enveloped in a force greater than yourself, being held and carried forward, like being right on time.
I'm very excited to announce that my dear colleague Edisa Weeks and I will be in residence at PS 21 Chatham during the week of September 16th.
During our residency we will facilitate two workshops as part of the Movement Without Borders Series.
I look forward to getting out of the city for a bit and experimenting to make a my soundwalk and rhythm workshop a little bit different... Learning from Edisa who is absolutely brilliant... and connecting with some new people!
If you're near Hudson come move with us!
Thursday 9/19 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Saturday 9/21 10:30am - 12:00pm
For more information about PS21 and Movement Without Borders:
For more information about Edisa Weeks:
**There is a error on PS21's website mentioning Skeleton Architecture. Please note this is not an SA event**
There's nothing quite like the act and practice of teaching.
I am honored and excited to announce that this summer I've been selected by my department to teach my first stand alone course called "Music of New York."
The course is a six week intensive that meets Monday through Thursday for two hours each day. Half of my students are international students in their 3rd or 4th year in high school and the other half are seniors about to graduate from NYU.
The amount of stamina required for this course is incredible. The course is a challenge to teach, to put it mildly. I am deeply grateful for this experience and have learned so much from doing my best to show up as "instructor" or as some of my students refer to me as, "professor."
We've had such an immense journey!
Some of the things we've done: We've read Adorno's seminal text "On Popular Music" and discussed the music of Tin Pan Alley, listened to Langston Hughes read his poem The Weary Blues accompanied by a Harlem Jazz ensemble, we've read the novel Just Kids by Patti Smith and then walked through Greenwhich Village and wrote a collaborative poem, we did a close listening of the song "America" from the musical West Side Story and discussed the destruction of San Juan Hill to create Lincoln Center, we experienced a Sound Bath as an immersive introduction to a current sonic culture in NYC, created our own Graphic Scores after learning about experimental music in the Downtown scene, learned about the beginning of the study of acoustics and its impact on architecture through the construction of Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, went on a variety of Sound Walks, and visited the exhibition The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory, and Belonging at the Museum of Chinese in America and learned about Chinese and American Chinese composers and musicians in NYC.
In our final week we will focus on the writing process. From paper topic, to paper abstract, to first draft, to final draft we will discuss the terms "thesis statement," "argument," and "evidence," and conduct peer to peer paper editing.
This week is my last week teaching and I am looking forward to taking a break! This "break" will allow me time and space to continue working on my dissertation. I am on track to finish my first chapter by the end of September. I'll discuss this more in my next post.
I'm still looking for adequate part time work which is trickling in so I'm hoping to find a stable position in the upcoming weeks.
Some exciting news: my colleague and I have put together a panel and have been invited to present at the annual American Studies Association annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawai'i in November. ASA's theme this year is "Build as we fight" and we've chosen to call our panel "Cultivating Sonic Practice as Political Praxis."
I will write about the topic of my paper that I will be presenting in my next post.
This summer has been a lot! No wonder I'm a little tired. :0)
Being in residence in Detroit and Ann Arbor was such an amazing experience.
Skeleton Architecture was invited to come teach some workshops at the University of Michigan and connect with Detroit based Black movement artists. We also got to visit Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum and chatted up the owner for hours. I bought some gorgeous strands of silver, coral, and indigo beads.