Once upon a time, I met a big, strong, powerful man. And we connected in a meaningful way and he invited me into his life. I still remember that night, standing in Prosper Gallery arranging prints for the installation, all kindsa giddy because hanging a show is one of my absolute favorite things.

That was the first time I connected with Ernie Paniccioli, but he had already appeared in my life as his photographs were part of my childhood, images of a world that I loved. It was a time when Hip Hop wasn’t an industry; it was still underground. It was a time when naming a group N.W.A. had the power to shock and amaze. It was an era when skills and originality were all you needed to prove your worth—it was a time before big budgets made talent a thing of the past.

As the years passed, Ernie held a place in my heart, but my heart had been shrinking and shriveling under a cloud that darkened my life. I tried to create walls, to set up boundaries, but it was taking me under because I would not let go, I would not walk away. I didn’t have faith in myself, nor respect, nor love. I didn’t think I deserved any better, so I sunk lower than I ever thought I could. And I made up all kindsa lies to pretend this wasn’t happening. But I knew it was. So I made up more lies to hide my shame. For the people who knew me when, particularly those closest to me, for them to have forgiven me my sins is something I will never take for granted.

Because I see now, in retrospect, what I had been asking. I had been asking people to compromise their integrity because I thought that was acceptable. I asked people to accept a kind of negativity that was virulent, violent, and without compassion. Because I had allowed this into my heart, and somehow, God help me, in doing so, I made everything around me shine like gold.

But all that glitters is not gold, though I fooled myself as much as I fooled everyone. And there were very few people who called me out on it. I believe Ernie Paniccioli is one of two who cut me off. I told Ernie our policy, and I deeply offended him. Because our policy was ingrained in such deep disrespect that I refused to see it. I remember being shocked by his anger, though in my defense, his anger is a force to be reckoned with. And I remember feeling like I didn’t want him to take it personal—only how could he not?

Over ten years, everyone tried to tell me that I wasn’t like them. Only. I was. Because I was there. And I became them, no matter how much I tried to fight it. I have tears in my eyes and I cannot see the keyboard, though it’s okay, I type seventy words a minute without ever looking down. I never ever speak about this. Because I still feel like I’d be betraying—something. Maybe that’s the fucked up thing about being a publicist. You brainwash yourself; and how do you undo something that deep? With all due respect, that is what I am trying to figure out.

I still can’t bring myself to fully acknowledge what it means. I always said I sold my soul, and I said it so casually. Like my soul wasn’t worth anything to me.

It took me two years to cry about how deeply I had been hurt when I got cut off like a loose thread. Because my pride was all I had. Now it’s three years, and this is the second time I have cried. Not because of what I lost. But because I know what I did in order to be “succeed.” I’ve always said I want to write The Sweet Smell of Success for the twenty-first century. But to find Sidney Falco in myself is going to take all the courage I have.

The end of an era didn’t come until I began speaking my darkest secrets on this blog. I mean, it didn’t end until a month or two ago, and only now, I think, I can finally mend. But the wounds that I am cleaning keep getting torn open over and over again because I want to believe in other people, I want them to accept me as I am.

Only thing is, that’s delusional. And unfair, to myself and them. Not everyone accepts, and that’s just how it is. But there are always exceptions, the people whom I admire and connect with, people like Ernie Paniccioli, who chose to forgive when I owned what I did. Because I never meant to be disrespectful, only I couldn’t see the bigger picture. I had compromised myself and until I stopped doing that, I couldn’t be with people who held life to a higher standard.

I don’t know how or why it is that any of this is happening. But I thank God for all of it, and for Boethius for reminding me that all fortune is good.

Ernie Paniccioli

All Power to the People

March 20, 2012

The Art of Revolution: Emory Douglas

Huey P Newton holds a Bob Dylan album at home after he was released from jail. Photograph © Stephen Shames

Photographer Stephen Shames on The Black Panthers

Seize the Time: My Interview with Bobby Seale

Axel F

March 19, 2012

:: this is me in DC ::
stilettos & stretch jeans & curly curly hair
shakinn mahh ass like one of the mary jane girls
aaaaaaall niiiiiiiiiiite lonnnnnnng

Loving Every Minute of IT

i want to go home

March 19, 2012

I Wish I Could Explain

Hip Hop is more than rap. Hip Hop is a culture of originality, talent, style, and skills founded by the people of New York City at a time when they had nothing else. It began with the DJ, and then the B-boy, and then the MC, and somewhere along the line, it claimed graffiti as its own. But Hip Hop is more than these four elements, Hip Hop is an art form that is uniquely American.

Hip Hop is about freedom of speech, freedom of the right to peacefully assemble. Hip Hop is about expressing the self to the world. Hip Hop is the place where style meets substance, where the power of the people goes beyond the music and translates into an art form all its own. Photographers who made their mark in Hip Hop are not always recognized beyond this world, despite the fact that they cannot be categorized as Hip Hop photographers. Artists in their true right defy labels—their purpose is to document, to communicate, to create conversation….

Read the Full Story Here

Ashley Gilbertson/VII, for The New York Times

God Bless Nicholas Kristof for speaking about what no one else will.
The Village Voice is lining their pockets
with profits from the enslavement of teenage girls.

I WENT on a walk in Manhattan the other day with a young woman who once had to work these streets, hired out by eight pimps while she was just 16 and 17. She pointed out a McDonald’s where pimps sit while monitoring the girls outside, and a building where she had repeatedly been ordered online as if she were a pizza.

Alissa, her street name, escaped that life and is now a 24-year-old college senior planning to become a lawyer — but she will always have a scar on her cheek where a pimp gouged her with a potato peeler as a warning not to escape. “Like cattle owners brand their cattle,” she said, fingering her cheek, “he wanted to brand me in a way that I would never forget.”

Read the Full Story Here

yin & yang

March 18, 2012

The women have Power. The men have Will.
The forces of power and will are not opposed to each other,
but complementary. The work together as one.

Os Gemeos, a verdade

March 18, 2012

Viva La Revolución

March 18, 2012

I have come to understand that dreams are not what they seem. For me, dreams are visions, spaces in which reality plays out in a non-ordinary way. This is why we believe them. This is why they feel real. Because they are happening, but we do not understand how or why. Dreams are proof that space and time do not exist. That we all belong to one mind. That separation is an illusion and the individual is a myth.

Something keeps echoing inside me. The way in which we cling to differences to divide ourselves from the source. The way we do not listen. The way we assert ourselves, needing to be right, needing validation at best—dominance at worst. His words echo over and over again, although it is not what he said but the way his words made me feel.

He knew things I did not, and that is why he came into my life. I knew things he did not, and that is why I came into his life. When I listened, I could hear him. And when I could hear him I could let go. And the wall I put up just crumbled and fell when I opened my heart to love. Because what I had taken as a principle was nothing more than a defense, and when I let go of my defenses, I grew closer and deeper. And I drew breath.

But I don’t know if he ever heard me because he needed his walls more than anything else. And he told me he could not let go, and that was where it all fell apart. Because, I took it personal. I had constructed the most pitiful defense. I believed that if he held on to his walls, he would never be my friend. But I was wrong. And I was terrified to admit the greatest truth of all; that everyone must be accepted on their terms, and no one must be asked to compromise who they are.

I see how it is that I had gotten it wrong. Because I had been so deeply compromised, I would roll over any time anyone did anything to violate my boundaries. I did this unconsciously, I did this without awareness. But I could feel something in me screaming. But I wasn’t listening. I thought the answer was for other people to do the same for me, rather than to finally learn that I could never compromise my integrity.

It’s funny, as in pathetic, some of the things I said. Because when I consider them in retrospect, I see they were lies I was telling myself. Right up until the end. I was lying. Because I could not speak my truth. Because I do not know how to tell people about themselves. Because I am still not sure if I hold that right.

There is nothing I hate more than people telling me who they think I am. Because if I didn’t ask, I don’t want your opinion. And I mean that, both good and bad. Compliments and insults are one in the same. And observations can be very dangerous because they are projections of the speaker, but the speaker almost never acknowledges this. I remember the first time we met, he told me I knew him better than he knew himself. But I didn’t know him at all. I only knew myself. And I saw myself in him: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I saw who I am. All that is within me. And it is through his presence in my life that I could grow in the most powerful way. I could take down my walls. I could be naked and free. I could take his courage and strength as inspiration to find my own. But I could not ask him to do the same. Because I cannot ask. Because it is not on me. One of the first things I learned with him is that you cannot make anyone else happy. They have to do it for themselves. And that is one of the last things I was willing to accept—that some people prefer to suffer because they want to continue punishing themselves because they think that is the honorable way to live.

And I get that. It is not until the guilt for a crime I did not commit lifted off me that finally, it was over. That finally, the rollercoaster ride had come to an end.

Last night, I dreamed of him. For the second time in my life. But I don’t remember what happened, though I know his message was important. I know he came to me to tell me to let go. And after I accepted his words, he turned into my father. And I stood before my father with all the courage I had and I heard my voice shaking as I looked him in the eye. And he looked at me, and denied me everything because that is the way he walks through this life.

And my mother sat right there, validating him because, for her, the other option is to die. And now, compassion comes to me, because imagine if you believe your only options are lies or death. And, well, death is lovely but imagine you don’t know that. Imagine you think death the worst thing to happen to you. You might lie so long as you draw breath.

And I knew, as I have always known, that my parents have defiled themselves. And suddenly, I think, this is not my problem. God bless. And in thinking this, my father turned into Danny, and that was the strangest thing. Because Danny is where it all began, and I have missed him, strangely.

And Danny is all I remember from my dream, because he was finally out of jail. And he told me he had been in Europe since 2005. And he had just come back to America, and he needed to see me, because he wanted me to hold on. And I wanted to, but I knew it was not possible. I had come too far. And I had to move on. To let go. To complete what I have begun.

I was just trying to write a sentence about the circle, about it completing a full turn, and I realized this word I am looking for is … revolution. And this reminds me of why I love to write more than almost anything in the world.

the cave

March 17, 2012

Revelations fall from the sky and open my mind and the key to it all is love. Love in its most absolute sense, of the peace that comes from unconditional acceptance. And that, that has been the hardest thing because I have found myself falling for the okie doke time and again.

The other evening Dale said to me, Words affect our brain like computer commands. And I could see it. It looked like an old TRS 80 or a Commodore 64, or maybe I’ve just been watching too much Lost. But I could see the cursor in green, flashing against the black screen. And I could see word typed in, and when you press ENTER, it is done.

Does the computer disobey commands? Nahh. We didn’t program it to think. We programmed it to follow. And that reflects our own… inadequacies. Me, I have heard words, and I accepted them as truth. Whether it is because I have a genuine need to believe in other people, or because I was trained to do so, all I know if that I find myself trying to make words true.

Only now, something has changed. Words do not appear as truth, but as blessings and curses. That is to say, they are aspirational. They want to be absolute, but in reality, they are always one step removed. Because they are symbols, and not the thing themselves. And once I can see their distance from Truth, I can evaluate them as representations rather than facts.

For example, C told me “he was made to feel” but no one but C has control over his mind. But the finger was pointed at me, as though he chose to give his power away, and in doing so he was absolved from being responsible why he felt as he did. And in pointing the finger at me, I was triggered, because I never meant to make him feel anything that he put upon himself and laid at my feet. All I wanted was to express my truth, as he is the one who gave me the courage to speak. Yet by allowing him to burden me with the responsibility for his mind, I felt horrible, because once again, I swallowed the lie.

I cannot do anything to anyone else. And no one can do anything to me. But in order to reach the place where there is no fault or blame, there is only personal responsibility for what I believe, I have to let go of everything—including the belief that my life has meaning.

Because meaning is a product of words. Meaning is an illusion. It does not actually exist. It is plastic, as in a chemical construction. It is made up in the brain because that is part of the brain’s programming. But just because the brain wants to believe does not mean that belief, in and of itself, is real. Or valuable. Unless we want it to be.

But it is as Mr. Brown said: Want not, hurt not. That is all. So long as I desire meaning I will hurt. Because I will always go against truth. Truth is a paradox. And paradox shows that words and ideas are only one half the whole. The resolution of duality lies in the infinite wisdom of the universe to acknowledge that meaning is a mind game and words are its minions and that while we desire these things, they are simply… time killers.

Because, what is our purpose? Well, I cannot speak for anyone else. But I have only one purpose right now, and that is to heal. And in order to heal I must strip everything away, not just the lies but the illusions, and the grasping need. The need to believe that my brain holds truth. Because it doesn’t hold anything except shadows and illusions.

Mr. Brown likes to speak of Plato’s Cave, and it just occurred to me that the cave is the brain. And we will remain in the cave as long as we believe that the brain is where Truth can be found. But this week I walked outside the cave and saw the sun for the first time in my life. And it is as the beautiful sunlight falls upon my face that I begin to let go, I begin to submit…

Andrea Photogram by Anton Perich

Watch, watch your body walking, sitting, lying down,
and you will be able to see that you are the watcher, not the body.
Watch your mind in anger, in hatred, in love, in greed, in misery, in joy,
and you will become aware one day that you are not these things that happen in the mind;
you are the watcher. Slowly slowly the watcher becomes crystallized.
That is the birth of the soul. That day you are really born, that day your real life begins.
From that moment God is a reality for you, and the only reality.
—Osho

Seventh Law of Ma’at

March 16, 2012

I live in truth.

Rumi wrote, “What you seek is seeking you,” and I have discovered this to be true. Energies connect across time and space and connections are made. It can feel strange, the extraordinary, I mean. Digital communications increase these chances that we interact beyond our reach. It is a time of chaos theory, where the seemingly unlikely… happens. Photography remains at the center of this.

Images tell us a story, offer us a destiny, artifacts that life is real, that indeed all of this is happening as we have seen it. We take pictures, we print them, post them, showcase them in any medium. We want memories, souvenirs, things we can remember long after we have seen them. They reference our lives back to us in ways we don’t always consider when we’re in front of them….

Read the Full Story Here

07.07.2011 9:16 will I know happiness if I find it? Oracle at WiFi © 2010 Beth Lilly

 

06.07.2007 15:40 how do I get over him? Oracle at WiFi © 2010 Beth Lilly

 

10.07.2011 17:14 what’s next in my life? Oracle at WiFi © 2010 Beth Lilly

for every no, 20 yesses

March 14, 2012

time time time time time for the transferal. like a light. it’s so fuckinn brite. Like the four train at nite. I would like to say it burns my eyes but he always noticed when I got dramatic. Should I tone it down. Do you even know what I am talkinn about ? I hope not. Is this guy sellin two movies for five dollars? I ain’t been on the A runninn local lately.

I caught two sides of the coin at the same time and saw myself lose but it couldn’t have been any other way. What did I say? We are always writinn our stories even if we neva set them down. Is that guy sellinn incense? It’s poppin. They cuute. Talkinn in fronna me and I’m on my Blackberry missinn every moment.

O thas my stop.

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