Front matter, p i-v
A Noah's Ark of Recurring Celebration: San Francisco Annual Event History
Front matter, pages i-v. [pi] Muse(s) back in the day <> (l) Joie Cook, infamous San Francisco underground performance artist/musician & San Francisco Babarian poet genre co-founder; (ur) daughter Jesika, now a bass player & cabbie workin’ streets of San Francisco. (Editor’s note: Joie is currently working on a book w/me documenting the Babarian genre.) (r) Dominique Lowell, another San Francisco underground performance art icon putting San Francisco on the west coast, national, & international map for performance poetry & slams ... & in-so-doing, both Joie & Dominique kept the poetry spotlight shining on San Francisco poetry & San Francisco long after bohemian North Beach poets, like the rest of us & the first Babarian poets -- to again follow in their footsteps, began slipping from mortality into immortality. Underground Babarian readings at Alvin’s Cafe Babar drew larger crowds when poets who worked in the sex industry flipped-up their blouses to show their breasts, & as Julia (a Babarian poet) said, was a high point of San Francisco cafe life. David Lerner, Jack Micheline & Eli Coppola have since passed.
[pii] Museum of the African Diaspora www.moadsf.org (See pgs 192-193) (lecture about Senghor presented by MoAD)<>“Je ne suis pas sûr de mourir. Et si c’était ça l’enfer?” (I’m not sure that I will die. Maybe this is hell.) -- Léopold Sédar Senghor <> Léopold Sédar Senghor (Oct 9, 1906-Dec 20, 2001) was a Senegalese poet, first president of Senegal (1960–1980), first African to sit as a member of l'Académie française, founder of the Senegalese Democratic Bloc party. (Editor’s note: And you know how in San Francisco we like block parties.) He was named honorary doctor of thirty-seven universities. The International University of French Language in Alexandrie was officially opened in 1990 & was named after him. The airport of Dakar, Dakar-Yoff-Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport, is named after him. Critics accused him of denying slavery & colonialism, & contradicting racial theories of white supremacy. In 1948, Senghor compiled & edited a volume of poetry called, Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache’, for which Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an introduction, titled ‘Orphée Noir’ (Black Orpheus).
The Message, Lines 5-25
by Léopold Sédar Senghor
I left my warm meal and the handling of many disputes.
Wearing nothing more than a pagne for the dewy mornings,
I had only words of peace as protection and to open every road.
And I too traversed rivers and forests full of dangers
Where vines hung more treacherous than snakes.
I went among people who would easily let fly a poisoned greeting.
But I held on the sign of recognition
And the spirits watched over my breath.
I saw the ashes of burned-out barracks and royal homes.
And under the mahogany trees we exchanged long speeches
And ceremonial gifts.
And I arrived at Elissa, the nest of falcons
Defying the pride of Conquerors.
I saw once again the old dwelling on the hill,
A village of long and lowering eyelashes.
I recited the message to the Guardian of our Blood:
The diseases the ruined trade, organized hunts,
And bourgeois decorum and the unlubricated scorn
Swilling the bellies of the slaves.
[p3] (Sept) San Francisco International Dragon Boat Festival www.sfdragonboat.com
Dragon boat racing originated over 2,000 years ago & embodies the story of love & service for one’s country. About 2,300 years ago, during the Warring States period, a well-respected poet & statesmen named Qu Yuan lived in the Chinese Kingdom of Chu & served the government with integrity as Minister of State. He was disturbed by the corruption he saw in the government & as a result of his pleas for reforms, was banished from the Kingdom.<>For years, he wandered the countryside composing poems expressing his patriotism & love for the people. Either as an act of despair or an ultimate protest against the corrupt government, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Mei Lo River (in today’s Hunan province) on the fifth day of the fifth month in the year 278 B.C.<>Qu Yuan opted to commit suicide rather than lose face & honor by serving a corrupt government.<> After he jumped into the river with a large stone tied to himself, grief-stricken local fishermen who witnessed Qu Yuan’s desperate act tried to save the patriotic poet. They sailed up & down the river to look for him & desperately thrashed the water with their oars & paddles to scare off the hungry fishes which might eat his body.<>To commemorate the patriotic man, the fishermen & rural town folks threw cooked rice dumplings wrapped in silk or banana leaves, into the water in order to appease the spirits of the river on his death anniversary. These rice dumplings are called Zhong Zi. Since then, the dragon boat races are held to commemorate the legend of Qu Yuan.
[iv] (Aug) Obon Festival & Bon Dance, Buddhist Church of San Francisco www.bcsfweb.org/index.html#obon Annual Obon Festival & Bon Dance (Festival of Souls)<>Buddhist Church of San Francisco<>Bon Odori is a Japanese Buddhist Folk Dance performed outdoors & danced in concentric circles around a raised platform, called a ‘Yagura’. Odori means ‘dance’ & ‘Bon’ is the abbreviated name of a Buddhist text, the Ullambana Sutra -- whose Japanese pronunciation is Urabon, shortened to Bon.<>The sutra tells the story of a Monk called Mokuren (known as Mogallana in Pali), who in meditation saw his deceased mother suffering of starvation in the Hell of Hungry Ghosts, where any food she touched burst into flames.<>Mokuren appealed to Shakyamuni Buddha to save his mother from her fate. Shakyamuni instructed Mokuren to overcome his mother’s selfish past life karma, he should make offerings of food from land & sea to fellow monks at the end of their 90-day retreat, which ended mid-July.<>Following Shakyamuni’s instructions, Mokuren danced for joy when his mother & seven generations of his ancestors were freed from their suffering.<>This story became a major memorial festival for one’s ancestors, & took root in many forms in Mahayana Buddhist countries, especially in China, Korea, Japan & Vietnam. The Obon festival in Japan has been held annually since 657 A.D. In the Jodo Shinshu sect, it is called Kangi-E, or Gathering of Joy, as established by Monshu Myonyo Shonin. Though a memorial observance, there is a festive mood during Obon. Obon is a time to remember & honor all those who have passed on before us. It is a time to appreciate all that they have done for us & to recognize the continuation of the influence of their deeds upon our lives.<>Obon is a time of self-reflection; the joy one feels is not from the happiness of getting what you desire, but the joy of being shown the truth -- the joy of awareness.<>Obon reminds us to love & care for our parents. It also encourages the practice of selfless giving (dana) not only to family & friends, but to all beings. The first Bon Odori in the United States was performed in Hawaii in 1910.<>Twenty years later, the Jodo Shinshu priest Reverend Yoshio Iwanaga introduced the odori to temples in California, Oregon, Washington & Canada. The first organized Bon Odori in the continental United States was held in the auditorium of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco in 1931.<>The odori has become a popular annual event at practically all BCA Buddhist temples in the United States. We will be celebrating the 76th Anniversary of the Bon Odori in July 2007.
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(Nov) Dia de los Muertos -- Day of the Dead www.dayofthedeadsf.org Annual community procession in the Mission District in the first days of November led by Rescue Culture collective for the last 27 years, where people & organizations join to honor loved ones who have passed away, 24th & Bryant, 7 p.m.
[p5] Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Annual Easter Birthday Bash (See pages 295-297)<>Sister Merry Peter Co-Mistress of Missions Destined to Wear the Veil<>Merry meet, & merry part, & merry meet again--Faerie greeting<>I was destined to be a sister. At 14, while in Catholic school, the sisters made us take standardized career preference tests. When my results came back, Sister Clara, our 85-year-old guidance counselor, called me in to ask why I “screwed up the results.” She was as furious as I was dumbfounded to see my career option was ‘religious sister, nun’, despite clearly checking MALE on the form. I got detention for a week– & the first glimpse of my true calling!<>Early Inspiration<>Growing up, my most inspiring teachers were sisters -- remarkable women with unending patience, profound vision, and the “balls” to do the hard work while men often reaped the public glory. In Canada & the Eastern U.S., where I’m from, these sisters often came from working class families. Religious life offered them an escape from marriage to a rough & controlling husband & spirituality became their path to freedom, self-expression, & new horizons. I owe much to the witness of their journeys.<>Lost Nuns of Canada<>In the early 90s, while volunteering in the Toronto Lesbian & Gay Archives, I found some clippings about a defunct ‘Convent’ of ‘Gay Nuns’ instrumental in the city’s early queer-rights movement. Their memory had all but faded, but their story resonated with me. At the time, I was living in community, writing a Masters in Religious History, and working as a gay activist and journalist. As I wrestled with how these pieces fit together, I kept thinking about these disappeared Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, wishing I could have asked their advice.<>Faeries Make me a Nun <> That summer, some faerie friends convinced me to visit the Radical Faerie Sanctuary in Short Mountain, Tennessee, where I met a quixotic faerie elder who called himself ‘Mish’. Bearded & prone to wearing taffeta, Mish was a great story teller who taught me much about the ‘fey way.’ During our visits, I confessed my obsession with the ‘gay nuns of Toronto’ &, to my surprise, learned ‘Mish’ was short for ‘Sister Missionary P. Delight’, one of the founders of the original order in San Francisco. Through Mish, I discovered the Sisters were a ‘worldwide conspiracy’. By the end of the visit, Mish became my mother, & sent me home to Toronto as a rookie nun called to reawaken the ‘lost Toronto mission’. Over the next seven years, I embraced my vocation &, with bar bingo, street outreach, Pride marches, fundraisers, youth retreats, & stage shows, slowly grew into Sister Merry Peter. Merry celebrates the gift the faeries gave me in my Mother Mish & the power of their spiritual vision. (Merry meet, merry part, merry meet again is an old faerie blessing). Peter recalls my confirmation name, & the Apostle who served as a role-model for a confused, reluctant teenager with beatific visions.<>San Francisco Sister<>I left my missionary work in Toronto in 1999 & moved to San Francisco, home-base for the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Some nuns were wary of a “rogue nun from the Provinces,” but after six months back as a novice, they stood with me as I re-affirmed my perpetual vows to smash guilt & spread Universal Joy & became a black veil in the San Francisco Order.<>For me, San Francisco & the Bay Area are a magical place where the veil is thin between worlds & exciting spiritual journeys are possible. With all my sisters ... our mission is to hold up a sparkling mirror which reflects the deepest JOY in all those we meet ... (cont. pg. 297)
<> <> <> poetry by Jack Micheline, from New American Underground Poetry, vol 1: The Babarians of San Francisco, Poets from Hell
by Jack Micheline
There are hiding places in my room
where beautiful poems are hidden
Poems hidden away in boxes
on sheets of brown paper
Poems of spirit and magic
workers hands hidden in boxes
there are blue skies hidden in my room
dolphins and seagulls
the heaving of breasts and oceans
there are skies in my room
there are flies in my room
there are streets in my room
there are a thousand nights hidden in boxes
there are drunks in my poems
there are a million stars on the roof of my room
all hidden away in boxes
there are steps down side streets
there is a crazed eye of a poet in my room
there is the sunlit morning
there are dancers dancing in my room
there are old Arabs exploring the desert near Escalon
there are sparrows and bluebirds and wildcats in my room
there are elephants and tigers
there are skinny Italian girls in my room
there are letters from Peru and England
and Germany and Russia in my room
There are the steps of Odessa in my room
the Volga river in my room
there are dreams of the night in my room
there are flowers
there is the dance of affirmation in my room
the steps of young poets carrying knapsacks full of poems
there are the Pictures of an Exhibition in my room
Moussorgsky and Shostakovitch and Charlie Mingus in my room
Composers and painters all singing in my room
all hidden away in boxes
one night when the moon is full
they will come out and do a dance.