frog's blog

Anuran, n. an amphibian of the order Salientia (formerly Anura or Batrachia), which includes the frogs and toads

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thank you Sister Rosa

Thank you Miss Rosa you are the spark,
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks.
--Neville Brothers

I've met rock stars and rebels, people I've loved and admired from Allen Ginsberg to Desmond Tutu, but all that today seems small compared to one day ringing the register at the Cass Food Co-op in the late 80s.

There was a long line, and suddenly, it parted like the red sea. Rasta men and radical muslims stood aside. Giving cuts isn't real Cass Corridor, so I was more than a bit bewildered.

But then Rosa Parks stepped to my register. She bought like one item, but she had her co-op card. My fingers could hardly touch the keys.

I know in her later years that she was manipulated by her handlers, who tried to make her Brand Rosa and sued folks who used her name in movies and songs.

But none of that could ever erase the feeling that I had that day and that millions of us have whenever we hear a freedom song. And frankly this is a feeling we all need to be reminded of.

Freedom. And fighting for it.

Thank you sister Rosa. Presente!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

approaching myself

The idea of a blog involves regular journaling, consistent posting, frequent updates, or in other words, blogging.

The blog is a cybernetic personal 'zine. (Oh how I still appreciate a good 'zine, dead trees and all.) But the thing about the blog is that we must remember to post!!! In love as I am with what I consider one of the more energetic and inherently eloquent venues for online publishing, I've haven't been keeping mine up very well.

A month has past since my last post, and I just celebrated my 38th birthday. I decided I needed to post something about me.

Since this is indulgent, I will save any future blogs dedicated to myself for my 39th birthday. It can be an annual thing, so in honor of the day, week, season, month, and the Libra-ness I share with many of my spiritual mentors and comrades, I offer the following reflections on myself:

I often get asked about my names. I've had more than my share of radical pseudonyms, faerie names, hippy-dippy aliases, AKAs, and so on. For years, I was Sunfrog Jazz, but early this century, I switched to Anu Bonobo.

Beyond personal magic, there's no logic to it all, really. But over the years, I've collected several stories and anecdotes, comprising a random archive of serious and silly myths created by myself and others. Recently, I received mail from a prisoner who knew me as Sunfrog and wanted to know with what Native American tribe I identified.

Now, I know that identity and ethnicity are problematic and contested constructs and some tribes accept any and all as members, but I had begun years before to want to resist that idea of being a Rainbow Family pseudo-warrior filling the world with fakelore.

While many different versions compete on what's been called cultural appropriation, and while in some sense all identity is fake, I still seek some sense of authenticity in my life. As a white person, faking Indianess is not somewhere I want to go. Whatever my post-punk, countercultural, anarcho-pagan lineage is, it's not about posing as something I'm not.

Perhaps wanting to move beyond this idea contributed to my choosing Anu, which is an abbreviation of Anuran, which means "frog" in Latin. Perhaps it was just time for a change. As it turns out, Anu has a bunch of other meanings as well.

Now for this Bonobo stuff! Where to begin? Since I get asked about them all the time and others have provided some excellent background, I refer you to some excellent websites and essays about our namesake the Bonobo chimpanzees; to learn more, go here and here and here.

When I got married (or "merried," as we liked to spell it at the time), my partner Viva and I chose the surname Bonobo. And due to affinity and demand, we've been thrilled to welcome many, many others into this looseknit family of choice called the Bonobo Family, housed at Bolo Bonobo (our collective within the collective at Pumpkin Hollow).

Even with all my other names, I don't renounce my generic name Andy Smith (even if I laugh at the literal meaning of Andrew and the ubiquity of Smith). But I imagine that growing up with the same name as so many others did motivate me to choose such eccentric pseudonyms.

While it has been a rough autumn for me so far, I am grateful for what I have, especially my community and family. And I always honor this time to take internal inventory of what really matters to me, as the seasonal signs remind me of death and the temporal nature of all things, of my ultimate frailty, fragility, and futility, even as I fight on in my life's war against war, against mediocrity and resignation.