Love Wins.

29 Nov

And as November wears down and the final month of this year begins I feel the need to reflect on the few good things that happened this month. Because the rest of it has been pretty goddamn awful with no end in sight.

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photo courtesy John Grochalski

1. Some horrible person spray painted a swastika on playground with the words “Go Trump” in Adam Yauch’s (MCA from the Beastie Boys) park in Brooklyn Heights. So basically the whole borough came out to prove that we won’t tolerate hate.

Brooklyn is awesome like that.

This is a video from youtube because mine sucked and my battery died half way through. Also I’m short so you couldn’t see anything but heads and jackets.

I couldn’t find a video for Borough President Eric Adams which stinks cause his speech was really fantastic and moving BUT City Council Member Brad Lander went old school with the people’s mic which was pretty sweet.

 

It felt good to be there, surrounded by people who will give up their Sunday morning to stand in the freezing cold (and it was COLD) and link arms and cheer and shout and sing together. We sang the National Anthem because as I said before – the fascists that voted him in – they don’t own the word Patriot. This is what Patriots do. We fight and we protest and we stand up for each other and we hold our country up to a higher standard.

2.  Another really cool thing that happened this month is that I was invited onto Talk with ME, Marcia Epstein’s incredible radio show. I got hooked up with this show through Wolfgang Carstens who recently published a chapbook of mine – I’ll Be So Still You Won’t Even Notice Me. I was incredibly honored to be included in the series and to have this opportunity to be on the show. Over the course of an hour we talked about a lot of different things including my ridiculous writing schedule (4:45 am, folks) and the importance of art in times of difficulty; about cancer and mental health; we read some poems;  talked about Life and Death and the Universe and Empathy and Compassion and really How Goddamn Beautiful This World Really Is.

At the end of the hour I started to describe this image I had seen online, a drawing of Snoopy and Charlie Brown sitting on a dock.snoopy

After I described it, Marcia started to laugh with that really beautiful deep throat, throw your head back laugh that she’s got and she tells me that Wolfgang actually made that.

Of course. Full Circle. Everything just keeps coming round and round. It was one of those moments where everything felt magical.

You can listen to the whole thing here:

 

3. And the most absolutely wonderful thing that happened this month is that I had the sacred honor of standing witness as my best friend Dan married the love of his life at City Hall.

This was really important to me because I have known him for a long time. And when I say, a long time, I mean, a LONG TIME

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Always with the snot, Malinenko

My most heartfelt congratulations to you, Dan and Adrian. May you be as happy every day as you were today. It was truly a sacred honor to bear witness.

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And now, comes December and Christmas and New Years and then 2017 and whatever it brings. We’ve got to take care of each other. We are, after all, all we’ve got. It’s just us sitting on this pale blue dot in all that nothingness.

If you have the money, please donate to causes that need it, that will fight for the people who are the most vulnerable. Do what you can.

In January I will be going to the 1 Million Women’s March on Washington. Come stand with me, with your partners and your children and protect our rights, our health, our safety and our families. I hope to see you there.

 

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

10 Things White People Need to do Right Now

15 Nov

Where are we now, where are we now?
The moment you know, you know, you know
– David Bowie

That’s a good question, David.

Where exactly are we?

Everything went wrong. The pollsters were wrong. The newspapers were wrong. I’m not going to analyze what happened because frankly there are much smarter people out there already doing that.

But what I will say is this: Racism won this election.

Read this whole thread (Mom you have to click on the date (15 Nov 2016) in the tweet. You’re welcome.)

White people did this. White women did this. White men did this. Rich ones, middle class ones, poor ones. All of us.

But I want to talk to the white women first.

Remember when we were all #YesAllWomen and some people came at us with #NotAllMen and we went ballistic. Remember how we didn’t like people re-framing our experiences? I want you to keep that in mind when PoC say this is white people’s fault. Because if you come back with “not this white person” you’re doing the exact same thing as “not all men.”

Just own the fact that white women did this. And that as white women we are all complicit. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and our relatives. Every time we let a racist comment slide we added to what happened on Tuesday. I know it’s hard to hear but life is hard.

WE ARE COMPLICIT.

Sit with that. Own it.

That planet of regret and shame you feel inside you is yours. At some point you start stoking that thing with some righteous anger and you make use of it. You donate to causes that will protect the people who are in harms way. You volunteer. You protest. You vote locally. But what you do not do is try to defend yourself to PoC because guess what? You don’t get a cookie for just being a decent human being.

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Dig your heels in. Do the work, white people. Start here:

  1. Call out sexism and racism every time you see it. Jokes with the boys about homos? Call it out. Uncle Randy has too much to drink and pontificates on The Blacks or The Asians? Call it out. Male colleague makes your female colleague uncomfortable? Call That Shit Out.
  2. Call your representatives in both the House and the Senate. Remember they work for you. Hold them accountable. Make them answer.
  3. Boycott. There are numerous brands associated with Trump that you can easily boycott but before you do – do the research. For instance, I want to cancel my paypal account because while Peter Theil (a Trump Supporter) is not longer the CEO their investors include Carl Icahn who is. BUT the current CEO has Dan Shulman opposed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act. So you need to weight your decisions.
  4. Donate
  5. Protest
  6. Use your privilege to protect the people that are most in danger. Speak up. I don’t give a shit if you’re wearing a saftey pin or not, just SPEAK UP.
  7. Vote. Midterm elections will be here come 2018. Between now and then you find out everything you can about the people who represent you. Never forget that apathy pulls a lever too. So we come out in numbers. We take the Senate back. We Tea Party their asses.
  8. You talk less and listen more – especially you, white men. You don’t tell marginalized people how they feel. You don’t tell women how they feel. You don’t talk for awhile. You listen. No harm has ever come from listening.
  9. Amplify the voices of PoC. Retweet them. Share their facebook status. Make sure your racist grandma sees it.
  10. And then do that all over again. And again. And again. Until we’ve started to undo what we’ve caused.

What you DON’T do is hand-wringing or apologize for racism or call for unity and love. Real people are hurting. Real people are going to continue to be hurt. Now is not the time for unity. Now is the time to be on the right side of history. Hold tight to your anger. But do not let it become rage. Anger can feed you but rage eats you up.

And remember this – the other side – they don’t get to own the word Patriot. Over time patriot and nationalism have been conflated. Patriots fight and they protest and they hold their country up to a higher standard.

We are Patriots. Act like it, America.

 

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

Washington DC and Me

4 Nov

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Is our long national nightmare over yet?

How is this election still going on?

Have you seen how much we have all AGED?

Remember back in 2015 when we were young and pretty and David Bowie was still alive?

Sigh.

That said, ONE good thing that happened this year was my first legit trip to Washington DC. I was there back in 2007 for an afternoon when my husband and I took a cross-country car trip but that was it. We had plans to go in 2014, even bought tickets but then…well stupid cancer!

So clocking in a full week, I have to say I loved it. And could easily have filled another week.

I mean how can you not? It’s beautiful!

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We hit up all the monuments:

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Strolling around the Mall

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Einstein!

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MLK Jr:

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And of course the Museums. There is so much Art in DC it’s ridiculous. Both inside:

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and outside (snicker snicker):

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And of course the amazing National Museum of American History which had:

Kevin Arnold’s JACKET!!!! You know I love me some Wonder Years.

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The Lady who needs no introduction:

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There’s no place like home!

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The Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit in Protest

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A Life Mask of Abraham Lincoln (more on him later!)

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The NBC microphone that broadcasted War of the Worlds

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My boys and their duck:

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Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves

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Apple computer from the 80’s

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En Vogue!!! Never gonna get it, never gonna get it, never gonna get it

(you’re welcome for getting that song stuck in your head)

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And what I thought was the most incredible part, the hat Lincoln wore to Ford’s Theater the night of his assassination.

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Speaking of Lincoln, one of my absolute favorite experiences in DC was the Ford’s Theater Tour.

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Waiting for the talk by the Park Ranger – which was INCREDIBLE

This is the booth as it was then, still today:

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And here’s Lincoln’s seat:

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After the theater talk you get to go next store to the boarding house that Lincoln was brought to, in there was the bed he died in:

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Or NOT because when you read the note next to it it explains that the real bed is in Chicago as part of an exhibit. Grrrrrrrrr. Still Ford’s Theater was incredible.

One of the other museums that I really wanted to go to was the Museum of African American History which opened up the weekend we were there so getting tickets was impossible. But we got to look at how pretty it is.

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Hopefully next time.

And of course there was the Air and Space Museum which this little space nerd went bonkers over. First off, you can touch a piece of the moon!!!unnamed-30

That’s the moon and I touched it!

And they had a capsule:

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and a lunar module:

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And lots of suits:

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And one of the coolest things they had was a recording of the noise that Jupiter makes.

I’m 100% not kidding. See:

 

Also the air and space museum has the Spirit of St. Louis:

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And the Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B which she flew alone across the ocean and the United States – both a first for women.

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Speaking of Earhart, did you hear the new castaway theory?

Anyway, my point is it was a really great trip. And it was incredible to be there while Barry was in office. Speaking of, at one point near the White House they made everyone stay where they were on the sidewalk and they closed off the street and 5 SUV’s came down and the woman next to me started freaking out saying that Barry was in the middle one (which makes sense considering the layout of the cars). To say I was excited was an understatement. You couldn’t see in but I assume it was basically this:

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I’m looking forward to going back to DC.

And this time with a woman in the White House.

Cause we’re going to do the right thing on Tuesday, right America?

Yes, we are. Because we are NOT THAT. We are better than that. We are With Her.

Don’t forget to VOTE ON TUESDAY!

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Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

Goodbye, My Girl

13 Oct

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“When they built you, they broke the mold” – Bruce Springsteen

Goodbye, my June.

You were my very best friend and I am heart broken.

May 2, 1999 – Oct. 12, 2016

Gratitude

8 Oct

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Last night I had the honor – and it was was truly that – of being a part of PinkSpeak – a fundraiser held by Mike Geffner of Inspired Word in which all proceeds goes to Pink Daisy, a site dedicated to helping young women with cancer cope with the daily obstacles of life.

It was an amazing night full of incredibly talented people and to have the opportunity to not only hear their stories but to also share mine – to stitches our stories together, to bouy each other up mattered.

When Better Luck Next Year first came out, I had a reading in Pittsburgh for the launch. During the end, I felt that familiar frog in my throat and I got upset. Not like sobbing or anything but you know, talking got a little hard.

I was upset with myself for doing that. I though it was “unprofessional.”

So this time, I swore I wasn’t going to. I was going to have some level of detachment from this material. I was going to be professional. I was an artist, dammit. Act like it.

Anyone who knows me knows that basically you just have to fingernail scratch the surface of me before you hit all the FEELS. It’s just how I’m built. I used to feel bad about it like I couldn’t hold my shit together but there is power in being this emotional. For one, it makes me incredibly empathetic. I would say empathetic to a fault but I don’t believe you can be. It makes you see the world differently.

So when I got nearly to the end of the reading last night and then felt that familiar catch in my throat and that pinprick at my eyes, I was disappointed with myself. I had come so close and still didn’t pull it off.

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And then I realized something.

I was getting upset because I was sad or scared or angry.

I wasn’t upset because of cancer.

I was upset because I was overcome with GRATITUDE.

Gratitude that I was able to stand on that stage with so many talented artists and knit my story into theirs, creating a web by which we will all carry each other through this fire.

Gratitude that I’m here now, still standing, with my unflappable love of this life and this universe and all of us.

Gratitude to my old friends and new friends who joined me that night, who were there watching me be as raw as I could be and saying, “It’s all good, girl.”

Gratitude to everyone in the audience and everyone else who couldn’t come but donated so much that Mike posted this this morning:

GRATITUDE.

So thank you all, from the bottom of deeply overwhelmed, emotional, gushing heart.

#nycpoet Ally Malinenko @ #pinkspeak #breastcancerawarenessmonth #breastcancer #nycfundraiser #inspiredwordnyc #thepinkdaisyproject

A video posted by Mike Geffner's Inspired Word (@inspiredwordnyc) on

 

Peace love and Starbursts,

Ally

Books, readings, poetry, oh my

3 Oct

Oof.

How the hell is it already October?

It’s this election, guys. It’s killing me slowly.

Speaking of I just spent a week in DC which deserves its own post but I have to say it was both amazing and surreal and sad to be there now. At one point I was standing in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, in the Presidential room, looking at that history, for all its good and bad, and the legacy of men who have lead this country and was struck stone cold sober with the notion that that bloviating noxious man child is a possibility.

That said, this happened after I left. Snicker. Snicker.

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But before DC, I have a few updates to share.

First and foremost I’m doing a reading on Friday at the Parkside Lounge for PinkSpeak.

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More information can be found here.

Featured Artists:

Storyteller/Poet Phillip Giambri aka The Ancient Mariner

Singer/Songwriter Samantha Leon

Poet Keisha-Gaye Anderson

Singer/Songwriter Taylor Tucker

Poet Wynne Henry

Spoken Word Artist/Poet Scott Raven

Poet Dara Kalima

Singer/Songwriter Matt Wiffen & His Band

Poet Ally Malinenko

Singer/Songwriter Natatia Allison

Poet John Grochalski

Hosted by Jenny Saldaña.

It’s gonna be a good night, with a good cause so come join us for some beers, some poems, some songs as we hoist a pint and offer a hearty Fuck You to cancer.

If you’re in town and can come, awesome. If not you can still donate to a really great cause that helps young women with cancer. Cause we need all the help we can get.

I’m also really excited to say that my new chapbook, I’ll Be So Still You Won’t Even Notice Me is available now via Epic Rites press. It’s part of Epic Rite’s Punk Chapbook series where in you can get 12 books for $40 and that’s a pretty sweet deal. The package includes yours truly hooked up with some of her favorites, including William Taylor Jr, James Duncan and Janne Karlsson as well as a whole host of awesome writers.

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(I’m scheduled to do another reading in November at Parkside at which I will have copies available too. More on that later.)

Also I’m excited to be included in Janne Karlsson’s anthology the Bones of Nirvana. Janne did the fantastic artwork for all the punk chapbooks from Epic Rites. He’s super talented and for Bones of Nirvana, he’s illustrated every poem in the collection. Needless to say I was floored when I saw mine. Now I know how comic book writers feel. Art making words better. I’ll share when that’s available too.

And finally I just want to say thank you to Brooklyn Poets who posted not only a poem with audio track (in other news I hate my voice) but also an interview.  I was honored to be their poet of the week!

DC Trip post coming soon…….

ETA: I completely forgot to thank Red Fez and Drunk Monkeys for their Best of the Net nominations for my poems “Better Luck Next Year” and “While David Bowie was Dying

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

 

 

Van Gogh Painted the Sky Last: Thoughts on John Grochalski’s Winedrunk Sidewalk

2 Sep

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So that’s a photo of a van Gogh painting that hung in the recent exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new location, MET BRUER, called Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.

The whole exhibit was really fantastic but this painting really floored me.

Because van Gogh painted the sky last.

Last.

Something about this strikes me as counter-intuitive. I mean, sky’s are a pretty integral and magical part of the man’s work.

and of course:

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This got me thinking about artist process. How did van Gogh paint? How did Beethoven compose? How does art get made? And is there a right or a wrong way to do it?

I know how I do it.

I get up every morning at quarter to five and I write until it’s time to get ready for work. I do this five days a week, taking weekends (and of course vacations) off. This is also the schedule that John Grochalski keeps. In fact I got my schedule from him, and not just because he sleeps next to me in bed.

John decided that if he was ever going to get any real writing done he needed to make sacrifices and the sacrifice he chose was sleep. I thought he was crazy and watched for years as he pulled himself out of bed each morning and made something out of nothing.

Then I saw all the something he made.

See that pile there next to the computer?

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That’s a lot of poems.

Eventually I joined him.

In conjunction with this schedule, he created a blog called Winedrunk Sidewalk in 2008. He vowed to write a poem a day.

Every day.

And (with a handful of exceptions) he did.

For nearly 10 years.

This week John informed me he was done with Winedrunk Sidewalk, that it no longer served in the way it was supposed to. As he said on his final post:

But I soon developed WineDrunk into a poetry site, mostly to keep me writing regularly. I think I’ve achieved that. And it’s been really wonderful to have had people read and comment on the blog. I think of WineDrunk as a fine piece of digital art. But this year I’ve gotten rather restless with the whole thing. Concentrating on writing a novel while revising another novel lead to a lot of frustration on my part in having to post a poem daily and to try and have that poem at least maintain some quality, some shred of artistic value.

8 years. A poem a day. That is nearly 3,000 poems. Three thousand times that he crafted something from nothing and while the poems themselves are art, the blog, as a whole is also art. A testimony to the process of making art.

So how exactly does one make art? Pretty much everyone in the world has an opinion on that.

If you’re only going to write when you’re inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you will never be a novelist — because you’re going to have to make your word count today, and those words aren’t going to wait for you, whether you’re inspired or not. So you have to write when you’re not “inspired.” … And the weird thing is that six months later, or a year later, you’re going to look back and you’re not going to remember which scenes you wrote when you were inspired and which scenes you wrote because they had to be written. – Neil Gaiman

Solid advice but is that true for poets too? Should they only write when inspired? What constitutes inspired? What’s the difference between that and procrastinating? I know so many talented people who want to make art but don’t because they don’t make time or because the only wait until they are inspired. Is that better? Is the art better?

What makes you a good writer? What is the proper mix?

Much has been written about this. Charts have been rendered. Famous writer’s brains have been picked clean.

In the end, everyone’s routine is different but one thing seems abundantly clear. Without a routine, there’s no work. Without work, there’s no art.

Three thousand poems is an impressive feat and putting yourself out there every day takes real guts.

Everyone is going to find their own routine. Those that write every day might find the same kind of magic and frustration that John found creating Winedrunk Sidewalk. It’s never going to be perfect but it will always be true.

Sometimes we paint the sky last.

Sometimes we write a poem every single day for nearly a decade.

Either way, we make something from nothing.

Rest in peace, Winedrunk. You done good.

 

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