THE REVERED ASTROLOGIST BILL ATTRIDE BEGAN HIS NOVEMBER 14, 2016 BLOG WITH “A CALL FOR UNDERSTANDING, TOLERANCE AND PEACE.” HE WENT ON TO GIVE CELESTIAL EXPLANATION TO A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION THAT HAS LEFT AMERICA FRACTURED AND BEREFT. “THE CHANGES THAT YOU AND THE WORLD ARE EXPERIENCING NOW HAVE NOT BEEN SEEN OR FELT SINCE THE MID-1700S AND BEFORE THAT THE EARLY 1500S… WHENEVER THE PLANET PLUTO SWEEPS THROUGH THE SIGN OF CAPRICORN, WE WILL EXPERIENCE A CATHARSIS IN THE REALM OF CAPRICORN, THE SIGN THAT GOVERNS INSTITUTIONS, TRADITIONS, RESPONSIBILITIES, REALLY THE ENTIRE HIERARCHY OF LIFE-CONSCIOUSNESS-SPIRIT…OR, MORE SIMPLY PUT, WHAT WE KNOW AS ‘REALITY’… YOU ARE WITNESSING THE END OF AN AGE AND THE BIRTH OF A NEW WORLD. IN FACT, YOU ARE HERE TO BE THAT CHANGE. THAT IS HARD FOR MANY (IF NOT MOST) TO MASTER, BUT YOU MUST TRY.”
In an effort to enact that mandate and respond to a governmental shift that confirms Bill’s prediction of societal turmoil, portraying a country filled with fear and hate, a country we do not recognize as our own, Double or Nothing asked a selection of individuals to answer the question: What is your America? The resulting portfolio celebrates “Our America,” delineating what makes the United States great, not “again” but already: love, acceptance, optimism and imperfection. It also asserts our constitutional right and moral imperative to respond to dissenting voices and discord, not with anger or despair, but in a truly American way: with discussion, connection and conscientious objection.
The Last Flag (Dedicated to Howard Zinn), 2015. Charcoal on mounted paper, 96 x 96 in.
Photograph by Paul Fusco.
Untitled from RFK Funeral Train Rediscovered, 1968. Cibachrome Print, Edition 20, 18 x 27 in.
breaking open the day
we all feel hope and pain
hope because we’re alive
pain because where we are
believe in the day and the night
the gift of pain as a pleasure of insight
insight into light and dark, the bonus of bruises
bruises on a skin of the one you love where nothing
nothing can help the way things went, but the sun isn’t broken.
Lauren David Peden
My America can be seen in this three-part video, wherein liberal CNN pundit Van Jones and conservative voters in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, come together over what unites them, rather than what divides them. This is what true democracy looks like: thoughtful discussion and mutual respect, even if — especially if — you don’t agree on all the issues.
If you wear a hijab, I'll sit with you on the train.
If you're trans, I'll go to the bathroom with you.
If you're a person of color, I'll stand with you if the cops stop you.
If you're a person with disabilities, I'll hand you my megaphone.
If you're an immigrant, I'll help you find resources.
If you're a survivor, I'll believe you.
If you're a refugee, I'll make sure you're welcome.
If you're a veteran, I'll take up your fight.
If you're LGBTQ, I'll remind you that you are beautiful and beloved, just as God made you.
If you're a woman, I'll make sure you get home ok.
If you're tired, me too.
If you need a hug, I've got an infinite supply.
If you need me, I'll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me, too.
Words by Molly Baskette from "Safety, Pinned"
Vadis Turner, Fast Food Quilt, 2006. Fast food packaging, recipe pages and dish towel, 45x55 in.
Vadis Turner, Celebrity Quilt, 2007. Antique quilt and embroidery thread, 48x60 in.
My America is a place where we honor the fact that we all came from the body and blood of a woman.
When you go high, you have no regrets. Words are powerful — they live long.
This election can also be the first page in a new chapter — one that sees a widespread, grassroots movement toward the diverse, inclusive country that more Americans than ever want to be a part of.
“The president can only hold a finger to the wind,” said Gloria Steinem. “We must become the wind.”
Notebook Entry: I Am New Here and So Are You
America is a woman. She bears promises and delivers new lives. America becomes you and you become America. America does things. And I am here for her. America is new. And so are you. America feels, hides, premieres, converts, surprises, reveals and unveils. America happens to you at the crossroads between change, pressure and dreams. America is possible. America is nature and liberty, vast and empty. America is occupied. America is extraordinary. America is busy. America has a brain, a heart and a belly. America is power and solitude, crowds and intimacy, mindfulness practices and mindless actions. America tells you what’s now and hands you what’s next. America is what you need to realize you have because it could be taken away. America is made of states, which are united and contain the World. America doesn’t travel, because she is the World. America is serendipity and chance. America is a Spirit. America is a golden mine you can find any minute now. America is young, and wants to stay young. America is what everyone wants to look like. You are obsessed with America. What keeps you in America is that you can be nobody, anybody and somebody, all at once. America is on constant lookout for how to be herself. What keeps you in America is that you are constantly looking for how to be yourself. America is the search. America is togetherness in this search.
I went to my first Goddess Retreat last year. It was held on a remote farm in northern New York. I brought with me an open mind and a healthy dose of skepticism. I met 200 women who brought with them love, compassion, support, admiration and zero skepticism. This is a photo I took during a solstice ceremony. The four women in the center represent the four points: The East, Air, offers new beginnings. The South, Fire, gives us energy, passion and creativity. The West, Water, is how we move through this world. And the North, Earth, is our home. As we stood there holding hands, I was overcome with the palpable energy that bound us together. We were asked to look into the eyes of the woman standing beside us. I did this and, to my amazement, I cried. My America is a place where two strangers can face each other and trust that there is common ground, and in that common ground there is strength.
It is impossible to capture a dream. Like the word itself — an aspiration, an illusion, an image, an idea — dreams are shapeshifting, with blurry borders and porous passages that steal nostalgia past the barricades of a broken heart. They are the promises we make ourselves about what our lives will be. Dreams are wrinkles in time, missives from the dead and ancient oracles of reverence.
According to Sigmund Freud, dreams are our subconscious tickling our deepest fears and desires. Modern psychology toes a more diplomatic line, proposing dreams as memory consolidation, emotional regulation, threat simulation and, ultimately, one of life’s greatest mysteries.
Dreams map the road to triumph, as Martin Luther King Jr. famously verified, and to tragedy, so Alan Kurdi’s small form decried. In the face of seemingly insurmountable suffering, dreams divine survival from surrender. The siren call of dreams, Dante Alighieri’s prose declares, inspires some souls to thrive and others to die.
Dreams fracture the standoff between what was and what must be. They linger patiently on the sidelines until persistence permits impossibility to outfox naysayers and reform reality. Marcel Proust witnessed this furtive nature in his murky universe of vetiver winds, where past, present and potential swim. “If a little dreaming is dangerous,” his whisper reminds us, “the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”
Dreams, after all, are steppingstones to destiny. They can be abandoned or forgotten but, like forsaken loves, their traces and essences remain. Their residue is our shared history and our Esperanto.
It was a freaking cold day in 2009 and I went to the Columbia University campus on 116th Street to watch the live coverage of Obama’s first inauguration with the crowds, on a big screen. I knew that day was going to be historic for Americans, and I wanted to be part of it as an observer or an outsider. However, after an hour of waiting I was pulled into it like any other person there. I felt embraced by a feeling of togetherness, as if I had been a native of that nation. I don’t think I had ever felt that before and that is for me what America is. It transcends the place, the people and the nation. America is a sentiment.
These images represent a little bit of what I felt on that day.
First, this girl holding a 2009 notebook, like if it was the beginning of a new era, longing about the present and her future.
The next one was taken at the exact moment when Obama was being sworn into the presidency — the faces, the hand in the air.
In 2009, I married an immigrant.
Two years later, we had to prove to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) that ours was a true marriage, committed in love and good faith and not, presumably, for financial gain or legal status.
Oddly enough, the de facto means that the USCIS uses to establish the validity of a love marriage are material and financial in nature: Do you own property together? Are you on a common insurance policy? Do you share bank accounts?
As early 30-somethings living in NYC, we didn’t own shit, and we barely had insurance. But we filled out all of the requisite paperwork and sent in whatever proof we could muster, including Internet bills in both of our names. 30 days later we got their reply: Our evidence wasn’t substantial enough.
So we thought: If not wealth or children or joint assets, what did we have that we could present to the government? Then we realized: We have friends and family, memories and stories. We have lots and lots of love. So we asked nearly 40 friends and family to write something personal, on our behalf, that exemplified our life together.
What we got in return is one of the greatest gifts I’ll ever receive: stories of our love, our bond and our presence in the lives of those we love. We got official notarized tributes, photo essays, rants and love letters. We packaged up all this love and personal experience and shipped it off to Vermont. The USCIS accepted our second plea.
My America is this one: one in which human experience is legitimized, where real moments matter and where love and community outweigh a shared asset list. It is one where my friends, family and immigrant husband live, one where we have freedom to roam, freedom to speak, freedom to love and freedom to grow.
i dream of the field that you told me about when we first met, when you still believed in us
i dream of a world where differences are celebrated rather than ridiculed
i dream of an us that is united, that embraces that accepts. It has no opposition, no them
i dream of fluidity, a world where we don't obsess over labels, where we just are
i dream of quiet
i dream of safety
i dream of waterfalls
i dream of the sand and swimming from sunrise to sunset
i dream of a space where you are in you and i am in me and we can speak from a place of love
i dream of a language and rhetoric that is kind, unconditional, nonjudgmental, accepting
i dream of the farm with orange and avocado trees where we can read and write and cook and rest
Alma Community Outreach at Camino Charter School. Photograph by Adam Amengual.
I wear a version of this piece of "flash" on my left bicep. It was drawn by C.V. Brownell, an early 20th century tattooer who lived, at least in part, in Wisconsin. Images that articulate the spirit of the Nation — in this case Liberty — can certainly be manipulated and twisted for many means. However, there are lessons in the notion of a "usable past" that remain heartening. These explore how history and memory imbue hope in transitional (and troubling) times. Our story, the American story, is full of dark pockets. Yet, there is, at least for me, a glory in the experiment and an eternal optimism that supports belief in the face in the grave challenges of ideological struggle.
San Fernando Valley melting pot. Kids from different backgrounds on bikes. They don’t think twice about what they have in common. They don’t think twice about what sets them apart.
I moved to New York in 2009, at a time when only love could have coaxed me from my native California, where on an average day it was not impossible to move from house to car, car to office, office to class, class to dinner with a friend without a lot of outside interference.
I was falling in love with New York, the city, at the same time. Both relationships were big and raw, made no sense from certain angles and at the same time were perfect. My fiancé had a loft on Prince Street and, as we nestled in for our first winter together, New York became my home.
There are so many things we didn’t know about each other in the beginning. I had no idea then that my now-husband believes in “some ghosts” or that he has an imperceptibly dilated pupil from an old slingshot accident. I didn’t know that you had to lift up on the turnstile to the subway entrance at Vandam Street, or that the quiet on Houston Street at three in the morning was completely different from the quiet on Broome Street. I consumed these facts with vigor. And that required coffee, usually from the teeny bodega across from our apartment generically named “B and H Fruit Corp.”
Silly as it might sound, the Fruit Corp was the place I first realized I was a real citizen. Citizens participated. Citizens dragged their bags down the stairs on recycling day and offered cat whistles to pedestrians about to get mauled in the bike lane. By no means marauders, citizens could be blunt. They sent back sandwiches when they asked for no tomatoes. But in New York, you almost have to be a citizen.
I had taken a job in Midtown Manhattan that required me to take the BDF train every day. This meant if I was at the Fruit Corp by 8:05 a.m. I could weather the line and still get to West 4th Street to make my subway. The bodega was bustling from seven in the morning onward, but the dark roast was quite good and cost a dollar. Every morning, I’d get in line with two or three construction workers, a few off-shift bussers from the 24-hour diner, a dog walker named Mr. Apple and an individual I came to know as Angry Man — always in a impeccable gray suit, always late and always unfriendly.
Angry Man’s morning lines would often sound like, “You call this coffee?” or “Who made the shit decaf today, you?” He was abrasive and jerky in a way that was so overt he almost made you feel like you were missing something. Any looks in his direction were met with a “What?” or a “Slow news day?” His morning rants rarely escalated beyond this, but they could be counted on — we’d all brace our muffin bags and wait for the thunderclap to pass. Until I moved to New York, I’d never seen this kind of behavior in the wild, so observable in its natural habitat. It scared me a little and fascinated me a lot.
One particular morning it was raining and, as a result, the bodega was busier than usual so the owners were in the back, refilling the morning brew. We knew this because they had explained it to us very politely in broken English. I was late and had a meeting. I remember this because it was exactly the same thing Angry Man started ranting about as he entered the shop, saw the register unattended and the coffee platform empty.
The owners came running full-alarm from the back towards Angry Man, and the three of them stood screaming at each other. One of the workers tried to step in but was rebuffed by Mr. Fruit Corp, who seemed insulted at the implication that he and his wife could not handle Angry Man on their own. The verbal fireworks (part Mandarin, part Godfather 2) went on for minutes. Chests were puffed, faces were reddened — all the while Mrs. Fruit Corp (who, when asked for her name, said to just call her Mum) held the massive metal coffee dispenser as though she might use it as a battle ram. The gist of the discourse was this: The Fruit Corp owners, rightfully, felt disrespected while Angry Man blamed them for everything wrong with his day, the marrow of which (coffee) had been denied to him at the moment he most needed it.
What happened next occurred almost at half-speed. Mum grabbed a Styrofoam cup. She filled it with hot coffee and handed it to Angry Man. Angry Man stopped yelling. He threw a five-dollar bill on the counter (effectively a 400% tip) and briskly moved to exit. “Fuck you,” Mr. Fruit Corp said calmly as he placed the bill neatly into the register. Angry Man replied from the door, “Yeah, fuck you too. See you tomorrow.” And everyone went about their days.
They did see each other tomorrow. We all did, just like the day after and the day after that. Years have passed. I have long since moved from the neighborhood. And this city still isn’t without flaws. Neither is this country. And neither is love. And they shouldn’t be.
In 2001, I moved to Portland with my then-boyfriend (now-husband of 11 years). For the first year, I didn’t have a job or health insurance so I went to Planned Parenthood for my annual exam and birth control prescription. The clinic provided a safe, clean and caring environment for medical care.
I’m now fortunate that I have a job with good health insurance, but not all women do. It’s unfathomable that any person in a position of power, who has been entrusted to act on behalf of his or her community, would make it harder for women to access basic health care, specialized women’s care or cancer screenings.
These services shouldn’t be used as political fodder, governed by middle-aged white men or politicians out for their own gain. We’re talking about the human rights of mothers, daughters and women — and men of all ages, races and sexual orientation to get the care they need.
Above: Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood
What is America to me?
- It is where I have always known I was meant to live.
- It is finally arriving here after waiting 22 years and falling head over heels in love with New York City as soon as I landed.
- It is never forgetting the awe struck feeling as the city loomed up for the first time.
- It is where my first love happened (and my second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth…. fifty-fifth, sixty-third, one hundredth!)
- It is a place that opened up my whole world to the diversities and possibilities available in life.
- It is the place that has made and is still making all my dreams come true.
- It is the place that turned a shy sheltered girl into a dream warrior punching fear in the face.
- It is life forever being changed as I watched the twin towers fall down one mile from my home and to this day still some times catching that same smell that haunted us for weeks.
- It is the lone fireman with blood red eyes covered in dust, slumped outside his fire engine house.
- It is the countless heart breaks that shattered my world only for new and better ones to grow out of the mess
- It is the lessons I have learnt from each and every shitty mess.
- It is the friends I have made, our journeys together, the adventures we have all been on, the crutches we have all been for each other.
- It is the bike gang I cycled around NYC with on summer nights, frozen take-out margaritas in hand.
- It is the homeless man whipping out his cock to take a piss on the “R” train as we rode over the Manhattan Bridge at sunset.
- It is the weight of the silence that knocked the air out of me when I found myself momentarily alone in the Joshua Tree State Park.
- It is the place where I have marched to the beat of my own drum surrounded by fellow marchers all banging their own unique drums
- It is the place where I joined a band, went to band practice twice a week, sang on stages, made an album and fell in love with the man of my dreams
- It is the windows down driving thru warm summer nights, with him, listening to our bridge songs.
- It is marrying the man of my dreams.
- It is our first baby girl.
- It is our second baby girl on the way.
- It is now the huge responsibility of teaching our girls that no matter what they too can accomplish their dreams
- It is about leading by example.
- It is my love.
- It is my life…