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As the helicopters fly in the night sky, shining their blazing searchlights in your window, are you glad that you voted for President Obama or any of the politicians that insisted that taking away more of your constitutional rights will guarantee your safety? Do you feel safe?

Does the “shelter in place” procedure that the Massachusetts police used to keep people on lock down smack more of a training program to get the police ready for the real deal, martial law?

And what if you find out that it is all a ruse by the government, do you, can you flee the United

States and risk your life just to get the truth out?

Did the New York City police really need to bring a tank down New York City’s street in the bright light of day just to rouse some squatters from their building or was it a warning for the rest of us?

President Obama signed the National Emergency Act that has been in effect since Franklin Delano

Roosevelt first signed it back in 1933. That’s right, the United States of America has been in a state of Emergency since 1933. Every president since FDR has renewed the act.

Very few Americans are aware that it’s been this nation’s policy to keep control of it’s citizens by undermining every aspect of The Bill of Rights.

Why on Earth would The Land of the Free be kept in a De Jure Police State since 1933 and why would there be subsequent policies put in place to as an excuse to “protect” The American people?

It’s no secret that more than a few politicians and corporations would be ecstatic if The Constitution was abolished. The Bill of Rights has a rude way of getting between what politicians and corporations want as opposed to what’s right for the American people. That is what the Constitution is supposed to be for, to protect the rights of American people.

These days, nobody cares about what’s right, they are more concerned with turning a blind eye to the not so subtle dismantling of The Bill of Rights.

Let’s look at the Shelter-in-Place request put into effect by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, his excuse being that there was “exigent circumstances” I guess nobody told Governor Patrick that there is no “exigent circumstances” clause in the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Governor Patrick doesn’t care about the Fourth Amendment, why should he? The Patriot Act passed into law with only a mild whimper of complaint from the American people. How about Obama and his National Defense Authorization act?

‘The 2012 NDAA gives the president and his agents the right to seize and arrest any U.S. citizen, detain them indefinitely without charge or trial, and do so only on suspicion, without any judicial oversight or due process. The new Executive Order states that the president and his secretaries have the authority to commandeer all U.S. domestic resources, including food and water, as well as seize all energy and transportation infrastructure inside the borders of the United States. The Government can also forcibly draft U.S. citizens into the military and force U.S. citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of “national defense.” There is not even any Congressional oversight allowed, only briefings.” (Taken from Jim Garrison’s article “Martial Law by Executive Order” published 3/21/2012 The Huffington Post.)

So what we’re looking at is a blatant disregard for the rights of the American people. Under all these new laws, The United States Government can use surveillance to spy on the average American for no reason. Oh wait I forgot, there are reasons, there have been reasons since 1933. Nazis, Commies and Jihadists, oh my! Lion and Tigers and Bears, oh my. Laugh all you want but as you chuckle, your personal freedoms are dissipating and it’s because the government has boogeymen that must be stopped and a great deal of uninformed people believe this nonsense and believe that the only way we can be saved is to let the US government do what ever it needs to keep us “safe” even if it means at the cost of our Constitutional rights.

Is there a way to halt the dismantling of The Bill of Rights? I am not certain but I do believe the first step is not vilify the actions of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. If not for these men, we wouldn’t know just how much our government doesn’t care about the rights of the American people.

If you have to ask why this is happening, I can tell you three things, money, power, control and it’s not for the benefit for the American people. People, get ready because the cowpie is about to hit the fan. It’s time to vote, demonstrate and riot. It’s time to FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS!!

fight for scraps, be a scavenger. It’s the American way.

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Sober jamming

My first Wharf Rat meeting.
Call it coincidence or call it fate. April 24, 2009, I went to Nassau Coliseum to see The Dead. I was by myself and I was quite happy because it was my first time seeing the Dead sober. My first sober concert was Matisyahu in 2008 but it has nothing to do with recovery so let me move on. when I got to the venue, I headed straight for Shakedown Street and bought a beautiful dress from a really sweet man named Don Bryant. I asked for his information and he told me that he’d be vending at The Gathering of The Vibes. I made a note of it and headed inside the coliseum. As I walked to my section, I passed a booth that said Wharf Rats, I wondered what the hell it was but I thought it might have something to do with stuff to sell and I wasn’t interested in buying anything so I kept walking by. I enjoyed the concert even though it wasn’t as awesome as some shows I’ve seen in the past. I walked out of the coliseum on a clear and warm April night and was feeling so wonderful to be sober. I’ve been seeing the Dead since 1978 and everytime I was high. I was afraid that it wouldn’t be a great experience to go to shows sober. It was quite alright.The next day was Madison Square Garden. This time I was with a whole horde of sober deadheads that I met at my home group in Brooklyn. There is nothing like seeing The Dead or any band at Madison Square Garden! It has always been a magical experience for me (except for the time I saw Genesis during the Duke tour). The crowd was pumped and the band provided the magic. I was home, this is what it was always like for me and I got the magic SOBER! At setbreak, my pregnant sober friend Sarah told me that it was time to go to the Wharf Rats meeting. I was reluctant to go because I like watching the freaks milling around in a drug induced haze. I followed after her and there was a massive crowd of people around the table. People shared and then there was a sober countdown. I just could not stop smiling. I was with my people, I finally have come home! After the meeting was over, a young man with a psychedelic bandanna and tank top came over and started talking to me. His name was Michael and he offered to take me to a Wharf Rats meeting out on Long Island. I had the feeling that his intentions was not solely sober based and I was right because nearly a month later, I finally gave in and hung out with him. It was love at first sight and we’ve been together ever since. Through him, I started going to Phish shows and going to Phellowship meetings and meeting much more wonderful sober friends. What a long, strange trip its been and I cannot be any happier. The Wharf Rats, the Phellowship and my 12 step recovery programs keep me sober and happy. I am really blessed.
I’m a black Wookie, woah!

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Letter to Rudi

Hiya Rudi,
Life in NYC is just a little more exciting with the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Things were dying out. Squats became legal and the illegal squats have been opening on the down low because real estate even in bad neighborhoods have become desired commodity. Nearly all the Tompkins Square Park rabble rousers have been spending more time sitting in Dr. Dave’s office because we are all old drunks and druggies and that sort of life wasn’t good to our aging bodies. But now, like the Phoenix, we old fogies are resurrected to fight the good fight again because of the Occupy Wall Street kids!
Me? Well, I feel sort of jaded and skeptical as to the direction this movement is going to and what is it that supposed to come out of it.
Zuccotti Park was a wonderful thing for a few weeks until the freeloaders and thieves came to stay in the park and start taking everything they could get their hands on. Nobody seems to know how to address crime. Nobody wants to police anybody and I can understand that but the reality is that there are criminals and they should not be able to prey on others. This sort of conflict ruined Tompkins Square Park and the Lower East Side Park. The criminals knew how to play people against each other and because nobody would take a stance against the assholes, everybody caved and everybody lost as a result of things.
Do I have answers to the situation? Of course I do but I’m not politically correct. Take a stick and chase the bastards away. If they come and help clean, cook and be respectful, I won’t have a problem with their drugging and drinking if they keep it under wraps but once I’m or others are affected by their behavior adversely, then, they need to go. It’s a simple as that. I don’t want to hear, “I’m black and you’re oppressing me” or other likeminded bullshit games played by bullshit game players.
So, I have to wonder how I can contribute to anything besides singing once in awhile with Rev Billy and the choir. I hate going to meetings but I guess dialogue does account for things being put together. Not I guess, I know, I just hate meetings, sigh.
Anyway, the usual suspects from the L.E.S. are back and doing what we used to do best. I have to start rolling with this posse because I’d rather cause a ruckus than parade down the street singing Kumbaya. That’s just me. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, I’m just saying that’s the right thing for ME to do. Here’s the link to the latest shenanigans in town.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/04/15/nypd-officers-injured-in-run-in-with-anarchists/

I’ll try to keep you up to date on stuff. Seth has been mad busy making all sorts of art projects for OWS and for the things going on in the L.E.S. Evidently, the cops are harassing places where known “anarchists” congregate at. So that means if you take yoga or get organic food shares at the Sixth Street Community Center, you are potentially a dangerous “anarchist” and you will be harassed by the police. The cops came there a few days ago with lies about people throwing things off the roof at people and other bullshit. They harassed everybody at the Center and amazingly enough, this incident did not make the media at all! Seth is going to do a comic strip for the local paper, The Villager. I think the cops are retaliating for the incident regarding the link I sent you. The cops are also none too happy that the Occupy Wall Street movement is still around and moving all over the city, occupying parks and occupying foreclosed homes and moving people in them. It’s a beautiful thing. There’s energy in the air, May first is going to be major magic, I can feel it. I don’t know all that is planned but I can’t wait to find out.

Tonight’s entree is pesto pizza courtesy of Trader Giotti.   I love Trader Joe’s.  I could spend all day in there.  First I lurk around the sample booth to get some free food to fuel me through my shopping spree.

 

I interrupt my reverie of shopping to tell you that it’s incredibly foggy outside!  It’s beautiful in that nineteenth century way that makes you feel like you’re being stalked by Jack the Ripper.   From my kitchen window I can see downtown Manhattan and I can barely see the skyscrapers.  The odd thing is that I can see the Statue of Liberty clearly.  I guess fog is like that, huh?   Ever since the weather really started switching up, I have experienced weather patterns that we normally never experience on the Northeast coast.  If we did, it was sporadic at best.      Now we get tornadoes like the Great Plains and Fog like Northern California or Southern England.  I wouldn’t mind the constant changing of the weather patterns if we got weather say like, Arizona or Southern California.   No, I would mind, I would mind because the more the weather changes, the more I realize how we humans are fucking up the planet.  I have little hope that the damage can be reversed.  Different species of frogs and bees are dying.   The  ice caps are receding.  I hope these kids playing Angry Birds or shit like that are learning how they are going to deal with this mess because my generation totally blew it.   The children of the fifties, sixties and seventies were not ignorant to the damage we were inflicting to the Earth.   In the sixties and seventies, I remember news stories about how pollution was ruining land, water and air.   On my trips to the city, I could see the dark cloud of smog that hung heavily above Manhattan.   Take the PATH train to and from Newark, you smelled all the noxious fumes that emitted from the factories located in the marshland.     Okay, things are better now but we have a long way to go still.   I tend to slack on sorting my garbage for recycling and I still haven’t curbed my pack rat impulses.   Sometimes I freak out myself when I take out my trash.  I throw out a lot of shit.  I accumulate a lot of trash.  That has got to be one of the things that I concentrate on.  I have to learn to live with less and be happy about it.

So, back to the pizza, I just smacked my cat upside his head because he wanted some.   I just gave that bitch some canned food! WTF?   He’s such a damn guy!

For a number of years I lived in the Lower East Side. I was one of the rare black women in an otherwise primarily white Squatter scene. For a number of years, I squatted buildings and helped renovate them for people to live in. During the course of my years doing this, I was involved in many demonstrations and actions that were supportive of helping people get affordable housing. Many of these actions were emotionally fulfilling for me. Just spending whole day mixing cement and working with my fellow squatter housemates gave me a sense of community and I thrived on it. However, there were situations that were not so good, in fact they were emotionally draining and in the end, because of the not so good times, I ended up burning myself out and I left the radical political activist scene for quite some years until the Republican National Convention in 2004. My memoir will basically be a there and back again collection of stories taken from my journal from my experiences in the Lower East Side, political and non political. This particular story is one of the stories from that time. I hope you enjoy it.

Barbara

October 15th, 1991 Gloomy, Gloomy, Gloomy

I can’t feel anymore. Early this morning I went down to Dinkinsville lot on Eighth Street between Avenues B and C in the East Village to try to save some homeless people from being evicted and it was a total disaster. Sometimes I wonder what it is I fight for.

For at least at a few years since 1988, Tompkins Square Park was a haven for the homeless. They lived there virtually unmolested in their Tent City. The park was open twenty four hours a day and Alphabet City was on the waning end of the lawlessness that prevailed for years. Times were changing, as real estate became valuable, a more affluent element came to reside in the area and as a result, the city government felt compelled to cater to the whims of the new residents. So, in their quest to clean up the neighborhood, the first major decision was to close down the park for renovations. With nowhere else to go except the shelter system, some of the park denizens chose to find a new place to pitch their tents. A vacant lot on Eighth Street between Avenue B and C was the new area chosen and the new tent city was called Dinkinsville.

There was trouble in the air concerning Dinkinsville. Rumor had it that the police was coming to evict the homeless out of the lot. A lot of neighborhood activists were on watch to try to prevent the eviction. Since I lived in Brooklyn at the time, I decided to stay at my friend Lisa’s house to wait for the call to action. It was a night of restless sleep. Sometime around three am, we got the call to activate the eviction phone tree. It was a list of people to call in case of eviction of squats or any other place threatened by police presence.

As I started to activate the phone tree, Lisa was obnoxiously insistent that we hurry up and get to the lot. I ignored her and called some people before she finally made me get off her phone.

I was seething with anger, what was the point of volunteering for something if you don’t do it? Somebody else could have been given the needed task and got it done. I suspect that the main reason for Lisa’s rush was not to help the lot squatters but to be with her lover, John the Communist. John is one of the neighborhood rabble rousers. He makes an awesome appearance with his long blond hair and red communist flag flying in the wind. I guess if I was smitten, I’d be an asshole as well if I thought it would impress him.

To make matters more irritating for me, darling Lisa informed people that she nobly stayed up all night to wait for the call while I slept. She left out that she was up because she had massive homework due to her being in graduate school. As we drew closer to the lot, I left her with a bunch of people we knew and I proceeded on to Dinkinsville. There was hardly anybody there except a few people just arriving. I saw sturdy and blonde Katherine from the Revolutionary Communist Party trying to organize the lot dwellers in order to defend their homes. She was met with opposition especially from on particularly loudmouth Hispanic Indian.

Terry T was a homeless black man who first lived in Tompkins Square Park. His tall, rugged and fierce appearance scared people when they first met him but He was actually a teddy bear at heart. He just was tired of being jerked around by the system. When David Dinkins ran of the office of Mayor of NYC, Terry T, with the help of political activists in the neighborhood: organized the homeless to campaign for Mr. Dinkins. Mr. Dinkins’ thank you to them was to kick them out of Tompkins Square Park. Undaunted by Dinkin’s rejection of the homeless, Terry T became more empowered and politicalized until eventually he got himself out of the streets before he died of AIDS related complications.

That night at the lot, Terry T was trying to let Katherine have her say but then the homeless started arguing fiercely amongst themselves. A lot of people wanted to know whether the police move was rumor or fact and who had the information.

As far as I knew, Moogy and Joel rode on their bicycles up to the 20th street precinct and seen the police massing outside the building. I don’t think that the guys were mistaken. Still, the dissention grew as more supporters showed up.

We were showered with venomous remarks like “the squatters who had buildings won’t share their space with other homeless people but brought trouble upon them instead.” Speaking for myself, considering some of the sights that I’ve seen in that lot, you can’t tell me that they didn’t bring that upon themselves. I’ve witnessed drug usage, rampant drunkenness and physical abuse, especially towards women. Also, I have heard many tales of how a lot of homeless people couldn’t make it in the squats because they refused to do any work on the buildings they lived in but instead spent their time being belligerent and indulging in rampant drug usage. They caused unsafe living conditions, setting fire to some places because of their carelessness with fire. Those are the reasons why the squatters are not willing to let them dwell in the squatted buildings.

I’m not saying that all the homeless had these problems. Actually, some of them made the adjustment to being trusted and respected people in the squatter community and in the general community at large.

Katherine tried to get everybody to build barricades that we would set on fire to prevent the cops from entering the lot. I helped some guys move garbage bags in the rear end of the lot by the recycling place. I was starting to feel really ambitious and good about what we’re doing but then fierce arguments ensued thus bursting my bubble of happiness. Some of the people panicked initially when first news about the impending arrival of the police first hit the lots. A lot of them packed their belongings and went across the street to wait out the situation. After time passed and no cops appeared, the Mexican contingent came back in the lot. Because the cops didn’t come right away, some of the dissenters said that we were full of shit and stirring up trouble. Some of the angry Mexicans started to wreck the front barricades despite our insistence that the police were about to roll on the lots.

Things got really scary then. The American Indian homeless man started to threaten Katherine verbally but she stood her ground until she was persuaded to walk away from him. Some guy who was yelling at John the Communist and Karl decided to fuck with me. He started insulting me as a fake soldier because I was wearing an U.S Air Force field jacket. Actually, I got that jacket when I was enlisted in the Air Force but that’s another story. I screamed at him to shut up and stop talking about things he didn’t know. Then some Mexican guy brandishing a huge stick, yelled at me to get out of the lot. “Fine, they want to be assholes, let them save themselves” I thought to myself.

As soon as I left, there was a huge explosion from the lot bonfire. People flew from the ring around the fire. I was amused. I figured that it served them right for being careless about what they threw in the flames. I hoped that nobody got hurt though.

By this time, all the supporters were outside of the lot, either on the sidewalk or across the street. It was still dark out, the cops haven’t shown yet and the fire raged on.

I took advantage of the chaos following the explosion and ran back inside the lot to the rear barricades. After I felt that one was going to chase me out, I thought about my situation.

Here I am, sentinel of the night, armed with lighter fluid, and spray starch, matches, a huge stick and paper to make a makeshift torch. I figured out how I could effectively ignite the barricades and then I started daydreaming about rebel life to the tune of Jon Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory”, pretty corny, huh?

It’s a tribute to my amazingly wild imagination that I can think of such romantic heroics while standing in a field of shit. Yeah, that’s right, a field of shit. People were flashing their asses, shitting all around me. The smell was “delightful”.

In spite of the noxious surroundings and odor, it was a beautiful night. It was just before morning twilight. The air felt wonderfully cool on my face and the stars were still shining in the navy blue sky. I was transfixed by the beauty of the raging bonfire but I was also worried that it would attract the police and the fire department as well.

From the looks of things, there was nobody in the lot other than Katherine, some of the people who lived there and myself. I don’t think anybody knew that I was in the back and I kept quiet and discreet to keep it that way. In my opinion, I think that everybody that came down to defend the lot was really bewildered at the hostility from the homeless people. People tried to make the homeless understand that we were here to try to help them. The homeless felt that we were bringing trouble to them by being present.

Suddenly there were shouts that the police were coming and I could hear sirens off in the distance. People in the lot started panicking and tried to gather their things. For some odd reason, some of the men just chose to keep the fire going and they threw combustible containers in the flames. Soon there were explosions bursting forth from the bonfire. I just couldn’t understand the stupidity of it all. I mean, I understood that they were in a state of panic but it was suicide as far as I was concerned.

The fire raged out of control and the rear tents caught fire. I could hear men’s voices cry out “Why are you setting the tents on fire!? Stop it!!” The fire spread and it was immense. Flames reached up to burn the trees right behind the tents. I was extremely worried that the adjacent apartment buildings would catch fire but luckily it didn’t happen.

Well, we didn’t have to wait for the cops to evict the lot, the homeless did it to themselves. Word is going around that the Mexicans caused the trouble but I don’t know for sure. All I know is that it went downhill from there. The Fire Department took their time getting to the lot but some of the supporters ran around shouting fire warnings and some of them also brought water to put out the fire.

As the fire raged on, the media descended on the lot, taking pictures of the blaze. I went over to Katherine and when I saw the dejected look in her usually confident face, I knew it was all over. The firemen finally arrived to put out the fire and I ran back inside to see what was going on. I’m not sure if it was a good thing or not but by staying in the lot I avoided being herded away from the perimeters of the lot by the newly arrived piggies in riot gear.

There was just a handful of supporters left in the lot besides the remaining homeless people. Most of the supporters and homeless alike were herded across the street and then off the block. Some cops asked Katherine and I to move away from the lot but we both knew we’d never get back in so we ignored the cops’ request and instead headed back inside the lot. The cops did nothing to deter us. Poor Terry T looked so miserable watching the firemen dousing the flames with water. His home was ruined. Where was he going to go now?

My friend Artie Cabrera, a squatter and a political activist; came up to me and asked me to watch out for firemen needlessly destroying tents. I guess the fire was enough for them because they made no attempt to ruin anything. Artie, Katherine, a reporter for the anarchist paper The Shadow, Terry T and I stood around watching the photojournalists and police photographers scurry around taking pictures of the wreckage.

As daylight arrived, we could see the devastation wrought by the fire. Smoldering mounds of debris were everywhere and the trees were badly burnt. The majority of the tents were undamaged and I half-heartedly hoped that the occupants would be able to go back and live in them.

My answer waited across the street, standing in line with riot helmets upon their piggy heads. Alas, our fun was over. The riot police marched in and ordered us out of the lot. I belligerently demanded to know why we had to leave. One of the cops wasn’t taking my sass and got right back in my face as his cohorts looked menacingly at us.

My friend Artie knew when to quit so we helped Terry T get his cart and followed Artie out of the lot. We ended up by the Hispanic Bakery on Avenue C and Eighth Street and ran into more friends. People were crowded in the bakery, the aroma of Bustelo coffee mixed with the sweet smell of fresh baked bread. As everybody congregated in front of the bakery and compared stories about the situation, Terry T started freaking out and started yelling at the cops. I persuaded Terry to come into the bakery for some coffee. When we came back out, the cops chased us away from the bakery.

Right about this time, I was feeling quite demoralized, all I wanted to do was go home. Our ragtag group walked on for a bit and then dispersed. A few of us walked on, the streets were cordoned off from Ninth Street to Seventh Street between Aves B and D. We managed to make it down to St. Brigid’s Church on the corner of Eighth Street and Ave B. When we got there, Father Kuhn, a priest who was sympathetic to the needs of the homeless in the neighborhood; was giving a statement to channel 2 news and I really wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying. I felt so cruddy and all I wanted to do was go home at this point. I saw a friend of mine across the street at Tompkins Square Park so I went over to talk to him.

Aftermath, I walked the streets of the East Village for the next few days. I see the former residents of the lots wandering, disoriented, not finding shelter. I see more people huddling in doorways, on sidewalks and sleeping in subways. I’m so dazed.

This Sunday, March 11, I turn 52 years old.  It’s the first time in recent memory that I’m not having a party, traveling somewhere or leeching megabucks out of a lover’s wallet for high priced sushi and baubles that I never wear.

Hey, I’m from Long Island, born and bred to be a spoiled brat.

Anyway, this year feels like the year I was homeless.  When my birthday came around back in 1989, I was staying at my ex lover’s place while waiting for a bed to open at a SRO for the homeless.  My friend asked me if I wanted to do anything for my birthday and I blankly stared at the tv and said no in a sullen tone.  I felt so bad for him because he knew that I was in a bad place but he didn’t know what to do for me.

It’s 23 years (DAMN) later and suddenly I’m struck with nearly the same melancholy.  Can it be the simple thought of the fear of aging?  

In this day and age, some of us grew up in a perpetual state of denial that we would ever grow old.  Aging beauty was something to be feared, Goldie Hawn, Joan Rivers and countless other “role model” dyed their hair and pulled their skin to the point of looking horrific in the futile attempt to thwart old age.

And I have my hair dye waiting because the grays are here and I am in denial.

AARP keeps mailing those goddamn memberships to me and now I’m seriously considering it as well as the life insurance.  My parents never talked to me about this crap and now that I’m closer to oblivion, I’m wondering what the fuck am I going to do?   Will my soul care if I end up in Potter’s Field because I have no money to be buried?

Abysmal talk, this is.   The gist of it is that I’m in a birthday rut and life goes on.    Maybe I’ll just succumb to the wiles of a red velvet cupcake and get over myselfImage

Viggo Still loves me.

Viggo Still loves me.

Despite my ups and downs I can always count on Viggo’s love.

Welcome to My Words!

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Dawn & Danny

Saturday, September 28th, 2013 • The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore, NYC • 6:30pm

Keefe To The City

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Musings by a jaded black woman

politics, memoir, recovery, drugs, love, life

FOOD INDIGO

into the ether of my appetite

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Let Me Put It in Fucking Perspective for You.

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