Whose Is the Face In The Mask?



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Hi!  And welcome to my main site/blog.  I’m a proudly Disabled, gender-fluid, ChristoPagan multidisciplinary artist.  I mainly podcast and write.  Although, I also sing whenever I can!  Though, sadly, that’s not nearly as often as I’d like because my Disabilities limit how much I can get out there and gig, thus my doing it mainly online.


All my work – my podcast, my writing, and even my music – is an exploration of the story of The Phantom Of The Opera, especially as embodied in the Lloyd Webber stage-musical (as originally staged and designed by Hal Prince, Maria Bjornson and Gillian Lynn).  Because, I’ve been a Phan for decades now!  And although it’s taken me a long time to figure out how to articulate it, my passion in life is using my academic training and artistic background to explore and cultivate Phantom as a spiritual praxis for healing and liberation, both personal and collective.  I know that might sound a bit weird!  But my Phanship has been that for me for many years now, as I said, long before I could actually put it into words.  Phantom has deeply shaped and informed my own spirituality and politics!  So now I want to share that through my various art media – which have, of course, been thoroughly shaped themselves by the influence of Phantom on my spirituality and politics.


In that vain, I invite you to also check out my other blog over on DreamWidth.  There, along with regular life stuff, I share my explorations in cultivating and practicing a NeoPagan path based on Phantom  – which I call Spirit and Voice – in the hope, both of its being useful to others, and of connecting with other Phans interested in such a path.  I myself practice it as a syncretism with Left/liberation Christianity, but that’s certainly not the only possible configuration!  Indeed, that’s one reason why I gave it a space of its own.  Because, my own art practice reflects my own peculiar ChristoPagan syncretism.  Whereas, the Spirit and Voice path should be accessible to folks with a wide variety of spiritual orientations from exclusively Pagan to syncretized/hybridized with other traditions.  So I try over there to present it as accessibly and inclusively as possible, and I hope I succeed!  Though, I will sometimes cross-post stuff from that blog here as well.


My podcast, meanwhile, mainly explores the political – exploring both how the Phantom story in its various incarnations manifests intersectionality, and also how it can become a critical tool.  It’s in my writing and my music, as alluded to above,  where I explore and express Phantom as a spiritual praxis, both on its own and in dialogue/syncretism with Christian traditions.


That all said, though, it’s not always all serious, either  around here or in any of my spaces.  Sometimes I just like to kick back and have fun as a Phan, because joy, fun and celebration are important, too!


Anyway, if that all sounds weird but interesting, then keep tuning into my various spaces.  Although, admittedly, I don’t post or update any of them nearly as often as I ought to!  But you can also follow me on my various social media where I try to be better about that.  You can like/follow my Facebook, my Twitter, and my podcast’s Twitter.  And if you really enjoy/love what you find in any of my work, I’d be eternally grateful for your support on my Patreon!  Now, I absolutely get that that’s not an option sometimes.  Heaven knows I’ve been there myself!  But for those who are able, any contributions will be gratefully accepted.  Because, it’s my dream in life to be able to make my living doing this work that I love and believe in!


Thanks, and Amen/Blessed be.

My podcast has new hosting!

So I wanted to let folks here know that my podcast has moved. Don’t get me wrong, Fireside are great! Although, there site has gotten less Safari compatible, and therefore less accessible for me, since I started with them back in 2018. And there were some accessibility issues I brought to their attention that they never did fix, although, admittedly, I didn’t nag them nearly as much as I should have. But those aren’t the reasons I decided to move my show. They’re still a great service and I’d definitely recommend them!

No, I decided to change hosting services because of straight-up affordability LOL all to be able to keep hosting one episode! Because, the one catch with Fireside is that there cheaper plans have a 100 MB file-size limit. And there’s this one interview I did last year where the file goes just a bit over that! LOL And I don’t have nearly the editing skill necessary to get the file-size down, much less without loosing audio quality!

But then, actually during my zine launch, a friend mentioned Anchor.fm, which is a free hosting service. But even though it’s free, it still has quite good creation and distribution features, although I’m still getting the hang of all the ins and outs. And while it does have a file-size limit, it’s 200 MB!! LOL So that gives me a lot more wiggle-room. Which is awesome, because I’m hoping to do a lot more interviews! And I don’t like to cut them. I prefer to keep interviews as natural as possible.

Anyway, the new podcast site is https://anchor.fm/in-this-labyrinth to check out. The show’s also back up and running on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify (URLs at the bottom of this post), and is newly available on RadioPublic and Breaker. So we’re back in business!!

Oh, and I’ll be posting a new episode very soon with highlights from my zine launch. Because, as I think I mentioned, the fabulous folks who volunteered to read excerpts from the first issue also awesomely allowed me to record their readings to share on the podcast! I’m so thankful to them for that. So watch this space, and/or the podcast website, and/or the podcast Facebook and Twitter for that very soon. Indeed, I hope to get it posted in the next few days!

In This Labyrinth: Justice From The Heart Of The Phantom Of The Opera connections:

Twitter: @ITLPodcast

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/inthislabyrinth

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/itlpodcast

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/in-this-labyrinth-justice-from-the-heart-of-the-phantom-of-the-opera/id1433588959

Google Podcasts: https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy82N2E1OTM1MC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3kti86f6mnlMnhkBpeoRG7

RadioPublic: https://radiopublic.com/in-this-labyrinth-justice-from-th-6V7yKl

Breaker: https://www.breaker.audio/in-this-labyrinth-justice-from-the-heart-of-the-phantom-of-the

Launching The Zine At Last!!

So once again I know I haven’t updated in a while. There was all the usual end-of-term stuff around getting my final grades done and ready to be sent to the department by my prof, and then I moved half way across the province! We (Mom and I) had actually been thinking about moving for quite a while because where we were was getting really, really unaffordable, but then the new place came up really suddenly! So yeah, the past bunch of months have been something of a mad whirlwind. LOL We only just got the last of the boxes sent off to recycling last night, and there’s still a load or two of bubble-wrap to be disposed of! LOL And I never imagined one could use that much bubble-wrap outside and industrial setting. Wow!! And of course, it’s taken a while to recover (though, actually, I’d say we’re still recovering), and to get settled in and get everything back up and working.

Anyway, I mentioned last time I posted that I was hoping/planning to have an official launch event for my zine. And I’m now delighted to say that it’s actually happening!! It’s on August 10th at 6 PM on Zoom, right in the midst of my 31st Phanniversary week as I’d originally hoped! Which is perfect, because this first issue – Creature Of Darkness – really focusses on my first encounters with POTO and the contexts that set them up to ignite such a powerful, long-lasting obsession. And I’ve got a lovely team of volunteer readers lined up to read a selection of excerpts at the launch, which is really exciting! LOL I decided to do that because, alas, I’m a better writer than a reader, even of my own stuff. So huge thanks to them!

In any case, you can get tickets at the EventBrite link below. It’s PWYC, and half of proceeds are going to be donated to an org doing work on Disability Justice in line with the values of the zine. And hopefully it’ll be a really awesome, fun evening!


Unfortunately, though, the one downer is that I don’t, at this point, have the ability to provide closed-captioning for the event. Really sorry about that!! But it’s set up as a regular Zoom-meeting, and apparently that doesn’t give me the ability to enable CC. Maybe because of my account type? And while it might if I upgraded the event to a webinar, I’m not sure I can afford to do that right now as my finances are still incredibly shot after the giant move! If anyone knows a cheap/free work-around for that, though, please get in touch? That’d be enormously helpful as I don’t want to be inaccessible if I can help it!!

Anyhow, that not withstanding, and hopefully with a solution found soon if possible, it’s shaping up to be a really exciting event. I’m enormously looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to seeing/hearing folks there!

Check out my new zine!

So I know I mentioned ages ago that I was working on this. And I finally got it up and published!! Yay!!! I had the content written way back last year. But then formatting it properly for Lulu Press and getting it actually published on their platform was quite a bit more significant a learning curve than I counted on! Hopefully future issues will go more smoothly, though, now that I’ve (more or less) got the hang of it (LOL I think).

It also underwent a name-change in the process. I was originally going to call the overall zine Creature Of Darkness after that awesome line from Phantom – “Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known? God, give me courage to show you you are not alone!” (Act II scene 9). Because, especially in this first issue, trauma is one of the major themes of the zine. But I ended up making that the title just of the first issue, and changing the overall title to In One Combined – after the line from the title song “Your spirit and my voice in one combined, The Phantom of the Opera is there inside your mind” (Act I scene 4). Because, while trauma definitely remains a key theme, I found I wanted a title for the overall zine that pointed as much toward healing and discovering one’s power. And of course, the title song has always been my favourite!!

Anyhow, as mentioned above, the first issue is now up on Lulu Press. You can find:

the print version at https://www.lulu.com/en/ca/shop/phantomfemme-/in-one-combined/paperback/product-vwmeme.html?page=1&pageSize=4

and the ebook version at https://www.lulu.com/en/ca/shop/phantomfemme-/in-one-combined/ebook/product-ww28em.html?page=1&pageSize=4

Note. The ebook is significantly cheaper! And it should be fully accessible. I hope! There are no images, only text. And my screen-reader did OK with it when I test-read the first few pages (not withstanding that the Mac OS Books app navigation is a pain in the ass).

Note also, all issues (whenever they come out) will be available to subscribers on my Patreon at the $5 per month level and above, along with other flavours of bonus content as well. You can find me at www.patreon.com/phantomfemme

I’m planning to do an official launch for the zine (on Zoom of course) later in the summer 🙂 around the time of my 31st Phanniversary. Because, that seems appropriate! But I wanted to go ahead and let folks know it’s out now. Though, caveat, I have no idea how often future issues will come out! It all depends on how often I find time and inspiration to write for them. Though, I suspect that, as with this issue, out-takes from my dissertation will be rich sources of content!

Anyway, I hope folks enjoy the zine and find it interesting/useful. And I hope it opens up new ways of thinking about, imagining, and loving Phantom!!

Song Of Hope – Lyrics

So I recently posted this cover of one of my favourite songs – Song Of Hope by Jim Strathdee – on my new YouTube channel Spirit And Voice. It’s one of those songs that’s kind of a musical manifesto for me because I feel like it really captures the values, politics and spirit I find in Phantom! You can listen to it here:


It’s been mentioned to me, though, that the words can be a bit hard to hear. I hope not, though sorry about that if they are! So I thought I’d post the lyrics here just in case, so folks can read along if that’s helpful. Hope so!

Note: the lyrics below are significantly rewritten from Strathdee’s original. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original and the sentiments it expresses. But unfortunately, a lot of the imagery it uses is really ableist! Gender-binaried, too. And as a Disabled, Gender-fluid musician, I just wasn’t comfortable with that. So I took the liberty of rewriting portions of the words to hopefully express the same sentiments but without the heterosexism and ableism! I hope I’ve succeeded. (There also some other, minor rewrites as well that expand the song from its original anti-war context.) Also, the tune that I use is not quite Strathdee’s original either. I sing the tune the way I learned it in an awesome liturgical band I used to sing in called the Fallen Angles!

“When there’s darkness all around us overwhelming heart and mind,
when all roads lead to confusion and hope’s impossible to find,
free our – free our minds for dreaming of the day when hate and war shall cease!
Free our – free our dreams to lead us onward to the ways of peace.

When the sounds of destruction seem to freeze our very breath,
when our songs and laughter vanish in terror at the sounds of death,
free our – free our hearts for loving this life, so precious and so dear!
Free our – free our voices for singing the songs that overcome our fear!

When, in weary isolation, we’ve lost the courage to care,
when our captive spirits languish in the bondage of despair,
free us to reach for one another in whatever ways we can!
Free us to work boldly together to restore hope to this land!

When our kindred are in slavery, when our neighbours are in need,
when the cost is untold misery for the 1-percent’s power and greed,
when the – when the ties are broken, when it seems we’ve lost our soul,
free our lives for service to make the human family whole!”

(Note: in Strathdee’s original version there’s one more verse that I don’t do. For one thing, the four verses above make the song quite long already! But also, I find it more powerful to leave it where I have above.)

Anyway, I hope folks enjoy that/find it meaningful/inspirational. And of course, merry Christmas and happy new year!!

Writer and musician exploring Phantom of the Opera as trauma-magic for humanity in crisis. Also, host of the In This Labyrinth: Justice From the Heart of The Phantom Of The Opera podcast.



My Music Finally Launched – Spirit And Voice!


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So it finally happened! LOL I know, it seemed like it might never. But yep, I’ve finally got my music re-launched! The delay was caused by trying to work out the most accessible way to post videos of me doing my music online that can then be easily shared. And to my surprise, after quite a bit of trial and error, I ended up going with old-fashioned YouTube! It’s not perfect by any means, and honestly at first I didn’t think it would work for me. But I found Vimeo not that accessible either, and ultimately YouTube ended up being easier to post to and share from – which surprised me! And I was ultimately able to get it to give me a channel name that I like, and allow me to make sure I’m signed in properly and not accidentally in one of my other Google accounts, both of which were problems when I first started exploring it.

So now that that’s all sorted out, welcome to my new YouTube channel – Spirit And Voice! And it’s not only the new home for my music. Recall a while ago I mentioned really wanting to find a space to start sharing my spirituality? Well, I’ve decided to use the channel for that as well. Which makes sense, because my spirituality and my music are deeply intertwined! So the channel will be a blend of music posts and posts where I share the work in progress that is my Phantom-centred ChristoPagan spiritual practice. You can check it out at the link below!


Anyway, I hope you all enjoy that and find the stuff I post there interesting. Uh, and I hope this works! I’m trying posting by email for the first time because the new WordPress post-editor has some accessibility issues that are driving me up the wall! So let’s hope this works as a work-around.

And of course, blessed Winter Solstice to everyone, belated happy Chanukah, and merry Christmas!!


Announcing a new project – Creature Of Darkness!! #Zine #PhantomoftheOpera


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So once again it’s been ages since I’ve posted here. LOL I get so busy doing stuff that I don’t find time to write about it! And I’ve shifted a lot of the analysis stuff that I used to do here to my podcast, and to the new project I’ll soon be launching!

So after feeling excluded from zine culture for a lot of years because of its seeming like another hyper-visual idiom that would have a lot of barriers to me as a Blind person, I finally, recently, got inspired to do my own zine! I was inspired by the amazing zines written and produced by Clementine Morrigan https://www.clementinemorrigan.com, in particular their zines Fucking Magic and Trauma Magic. They’re both life-writing zines in which Clementine shares their own journey of recovery and coming into magical and political consciousness. And they’re really powerful and beautiful! Clementine also, to my eternal gratitude, makes a point of making them accessible. They’re heavy on text, and she makes sure the pdfs are screen-reader friendly. Which finally made me feel welcome in the world of zining!

So, as I said, Clementine’s work inspired me to start a zine of my own. Because, I really like the format they use! And I feel like I feel like it’s the write idiom in which to share my own journey of and reflections on coming into politicized, magical Phanship. Because, while I’ve shared some of that in my academic writing and certainly plan to continue doing so, academic writing has certain limitations. You can’t always get as personal, as speculative – as “what if…?”. You can’t often talk about magic and spirituality except as social processes, and you generally have to present a critical analysis. Whereas, in a zine format like Clementine’s, you don’t necessarily have to present a critical analysis. You certainly can, but you don’t have to. And it also gets around the other limitations of academic writing.

The first zine I’m starting, then, is called Creature Of Darkness after the line “Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known? God, give me courage to show you you are not alone!” from the Final Lair in Phantom. It’s part Phanzine, part perzine, and part on-going, evolving manifesto. It’s a search for self and community through sharing my own journey as a Disabled, Gender-fluid, Queerish, ChristoPagan medical/educational-industrial complex surviver Phan. And I hope it’ll help others the way Clementine’s work has helped me – by providing a space where those on similar/intersecting/parallel journeys can feel heard/seen and know they’re/you’re not alone, and by sharing the healing tools and insights that have been so helpful and powerful for me! I hope to launch it some time this month, both on my Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/phantomfemme – and on Lulu Press. Though, I also think I might make some of the first issues available here, too, for free just to help get the thing going. I’m still figuring out the cover-art, though, so I’m not sure exactly when that will happen. So watch this space!!

Also watch my Patreon, though. Because, I might also release some excerpts from the first issue there as teasers. They’ll be available at the cheapest tier, though, and there may be some freebies as well! So keep an eye/ear out for that soon.


I’m also planning, at some point, to launch a project in which I sahre my thoughts and practice of Phantom and Phanship as a ChristoPagan spiritual path.  But I haven’t decided yet whether to do that as another zine or a new podcast.  There are pros and cons either way!  As some of you will recall, I started sharing some of that as a blog project earlier this year, in fact. But, A, a blog didn’t quite feel right for it, and B, I found I just couldn’t keep up with that much writing and posting on top of everything else I’m working on!  And I’m not sure yet whether a new podcast or a zine would make that more manageable and be the format best suited to the topic.  And I have no idea when that project might happen, so definitely watch this and my other spaces for updates!


Anyway, that’s what’s coming up in the near future.  And as you can imagine, I’m really excited about it!  And of course, I hope you’ll all really enjoy my upcoming projects and find them useful as well.

My Music Finally Rebooted At Last!


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So I mentioned (quite a while ago now) that I was planning to reboot my music after doing a good deal of rethinking. And I finally have! It took a while, though, both to get things set back up, and because I was looking for the right occasion to relaunch. And this past Saturday, June 6 2020, seemed like an excellent time to do so!

As you’ll perhaps recall, I’ve performed several times in the Toronto Open Tuning Festival. Well, this year, for obvious reasons, the festival was held online rather than live. Plus, of course, it’s the start of Pride month. So this seemed to me like a perfect opportunity to launch the reboot of my music with my contribution to the online Open Tuning! (See the embed above. And do let me know if it works!)

I’m essentially relaunching my music online, then, because, that’s the most accessible way for me to share it. Don’t get me wrong, I love performing live when I’m able to! But I’ve found that, between my fluctuating “spoons” and challenges with getting around, I’m not able to nearly as often as I’d like. Not to mention, I’m not able to perform live nearly as often as necessary to pursue a music career seriously. Thankfully, though, there’s the magic of the internet! And there, I can share both my original songs and covers whenever I’m able and publicize them on social media. So check out my new Vimeo channel called Spirit and Voice!

Granted, I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting music there. It depends on my “spoons” and how my music is balancing with everything else I’m working on. Plus, because I only have semi-fine motor control, it can take me a long time to learn and master new accompaniments even when they’re relatively simple. But I’m really looking forward to sharing my music in a way that’s relatively accessible for me!

That said, though, as a Blind musician, sharing my music in a video idiom is a bit of a challenge. In honesty, I have no idea what my videos look like, or if they’ve come out anything like the way I intended! LOL So if they seem to lack polish, that’s why. Though, hopefully I’ll get better at it with practice! So I’ll also be sharing my music on my Soundcloud for good measure. Though, again, I don’t know how often I’ll be able to do that.

I’m also relaunching my music as a largely acoustic undertaking this time. Not that I won’t plug in sometimes! But after thinking about it a lot, playing a live instrument feels more authentic to me than the fake, computer-generated band accompaniments I used to use. Not that I’m committed to remaining a solo act for life, though! I would love to play with other musicians in the future when I find the right ones and have the chops. But playing with other actual musicians feels different to me than playing with a fake, virtual band! Playing with other musicians involves A, actual playing of real instruments, and B, actual sharing of making music with other people. And that feels more in line with my values than using technology to fake it.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy my music! I’m certainly going to really enjoy finally being able to share it. Because, as much as I enjoy writing and doing my podcast, music is really my first love. That’s where the real magic is for me!


Uh, yes, I did say the name of my own channel wrong in the video. LOL Oops! That’s what I get for not checking my own details before filming and posting. But the correct name is, in fact, Spirit and Voice. My bad!

Short-Term Charity VS LongTerm Solidarity In The Context of #Coronavirus. #COVID19


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So I’ve been hearing a lot of very enlightened and progressive proposed responses to COVID-19 lately – universal paid sick-leave so people don’t have to go to work sick, expanded social safety nets for people whose livelihoods have been crashed by the pandemic, moratoria on evictions and foreclosures, moratoria on utility shut-offs, making testing and (when it comes) treatment universally accessible, etc. Hell, renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz was on Democracy Now this morning recommending measures such as these, and in doing so sounding suspiciously like a democratic socialist! Although, that observation might well make him queasy. And all these proposals are excellent! Hell, they should be no-brainers that should be implemented immediately and without fuss!

But there’s a red flag, though, and that’s the constant invocation of the emergency – the constant invocation of these measures as special responses to coronavirus . But what happens when the emergency passes? What happens when the crisis is over? Because, the constant invocation of special circumstances implies that such measures of collective support are not needed in “normal” times. It also, therefore, implies that those needs (for health-care, housing, economic assistance, etc,) not directly related to the crisis are not included in these “emergency” measures.

And that, in a nutshell, is one of the key differences between charity and solidarity. Charity, at its best, seeks to provide immediate relief to people in emergency situations. And that is important to be sure! But it is short-term. Indeed, it is deliberately short-term, simply hoping to get people through the immediate crisis and “back on their feet” – back to “normal”. Solidarity, however, looks not only at the immediate emergency, but the underlying structural causes. And it seeks to implement long-term, system-level solutions so that people not only get out of the immediate crisis, but are defended to the greatest extent possible against future crises. It seeks not only to deal with the immediate emergency, but build in resilience to future shocks by making sure that those most vulnerable are as well supported and cared for as possible. Thus, as part of that building of resilience, solidarity seeks to implement measures like those alluded to above on a permanent bases so that they are always in place, rather than their having to be invoked on a crisis by crisis basis and tied to specific emergencies. It seeks to make sure they are truly universally available, both to all people and at all times.

It is incredibly important that this aspect of long-term planning not get lost in the rush for immediate relief. Because, as Naomi Klein points out in her brilliant 2014 book This Changes Everything, good long-term planning is how societies can become resilient and better able to weather not only this crisis but the next one, whether it be another pandemic or a natural disaster, rather than simply reeling from one emergency to another.

At the same time, however, it is crucial to make sure that immediate relief isn’t lost or, worse, subordinated to long-term planning and struggle. And I think, perhaps, this is where Bernie Sanders missed the mark in his most recent debate with Joe Biden. Biden gave listeners a reassuring sense that there would be immediate relief for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. And that resonated powerfully with freaked out voters, even though he left the questions of the long-term and needs unrelated to the pandemic unaddressed. Whereas, Bernie emphasized long-term plans to address the root causes of vulnerability to the current crisis, but failed to reassure listeners that their immediate emergency needs would be met. Now, I fully believe he intends to attend to those immediate needs! But he did not succeed in conveying that to listeners/voters, giving the (I believe inaccurate) impression that immediate relief was being neglected or, worse, sacrificed to long-term plans for structural change. He did not succeed in conveying how he would address, as the Black Panthers put it, “survival pending revolution”.

I think there’s an important lesson for Progressives to take from this. And that is that a key part of solidarity means addressing “survival pending revolution” – addressing how people’s immediate, urgent, often crisis needs (even without a natural disaster or pandemic) are going to be attended to while we fight for long-term transformation. And it’s not a matter of being able to meet people’s needs perfectly! Because thats’ going to be impossible during struggle and it would be a lie to say otherwise. The important thing, though, is to make sure we convey that those needs are not forgotten amidst our grand ideals and long-term plans. And I do think a lot of it is a matter of communication. Because, Progressives often have thought about those immediate concerns and how to address them! Though, true, not always. But we need to get really good at communicating effectively that we have accounted for those immediate needs. Otherwise, short-term fears for survival are going to continue to trump (pun not intended) long-term desires for change. This is why things like unions, worker cooperatives and mutual aid networks are often such important and powerful organizing vehicles. Because, if we’re going to ask people to let go of those fears and trust their futures to our visions of transformation, they need – and have the right to demand – a safety net! People find courage to fight when they know they’re not alone – when they know that those struggling with them will have their back when the shit hits the fan. And that’s critically important for Progressives to take to heart. Because, unless and until we get the kind of transformation we envision, a lot of shit is going to be hitting a lot of fans for a lot of people!

Check out my new project over on DreamWidth!


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So I’ve started a new blog over on DreamWidth! Don’t worry, though, nothing’s happening to this one. But I’ve started a new project, and I wanted to give it its own space distinct from what I do here.

On the new blog, I’m sharing my explorations in cultivating and practicing a NeoPagan path based on Phantom which I call Spirit and Voice. It’s a path I’ve practiced in private, though without a name, for a long time on and off. But for a long time it was held back by imposter-syndrome – both about myself, feeling that I didn’t have the expertise to be developing my own path, and about the path itself because it didn’t/doesn’t fit any of the conventional Neo/Pagan molds (reclaiming pre-Christian religions, Earth-based spirituality, Feminist/Women’s spirituality, etc,) – at least not obviously. But lately I’ve felt called and inspired to learn to ditch that and finally start publicly sharing! And after thinking for a while about how to go about doing so, I decided that a blog was the best way for now.

I decided, though, as mentioned above, to make it a separate blog from this one. Because, as I’ve alluded to elsewhere, my own practice of this path is very much part of a ChristoPagan syncretism which is reflected in a lot of my music and the writing I share here. Whereas, I want to present the Spirit and Voice as accessibly and inclusively as possible, because I want it to be open and welcoming to folks of all spiritual orientations whether they’re exclusively Pagan or practice syncretism with other traditions! Because, I want it to be useful and helpful to others struggling with the sense of misfit I did when cultivating relationships with unconventional Sacred Beings. But also, I hope that, in sharing my own endeavours and explorations, I can connect with other Phans interested in developing such a path!

That said, the new blog doesn’t look like much yet. So please bear with me! Just as I did with this site, I’m probably going to have to track down some sighted help to get it looking all spiffy – to put in a good profile-pic and icon and get them looking good. And I don’t know how long it’ll take me to arrange that, especially given coronavirus!! Don’t let the lack of visual pizazz discourage you, though. I’ve already started posting writing there and will post more soon, so do go ahead and check it out!!

Music Reboot: Or How The Climate Crisis Completely Changed My Orientation!


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So once again I haven’t posted in ages! Have been insanely busy! There was of course the great move this past summer, God am I glad that’s over with, then from there I’ve just been trying to keep up with school and my podcast. Oh yeah, and there’s been a bunch of climate organizing too, because I kind of jumped in to take point on accessibility for our two big climate marches this fall. Although, mercifully more so for the first march than the second one, by which point the other organizers were able to take what had been done for the first march and run with it. Which was great, because by then it was the last, and thus craziest, month of term! LOL So yeah, things have been rather hectic around here, thus my neglecting this site. Oops!!

Anyway, I figured the start of the new year was a good time to post again. And on that note, happy New Year everyone!!

Anyhow, as some of you will recall, back when I started this site, I was really trying to get up and going as a musician. But that kind of died on the vine, partly for some access-related reasons, but partly for some other reasons. Or rather, now that I think about it, my original music being thwarted by lack of access gave me an opportunity to re-examine things and reflect. Back when I started, I was really into symphonic metal, so that was the kind of music I wanted to make. But over the past bunch of years, I’ve really moved away from that both aesthetically and, for lack of a better word, philosophically.

The issue is that I became increasingly uncomfortable with how dependant my music was on technology, both to produce and to perform. Because, for various reasons, some related to my limited mobility and some related to my lack of musical chops on any instrument but voice, I never was able to get a live band up and going. So I was totally dependant on my computer to produce full, rich, metal-sounding arrangements. Hell, even as I moved towards a softer, more music-theatre sound, I still relied on my computer’s midi instruments to fill out the arrangements! And I still needed to run accompaniment tracks from my iPad in order to perform. But this hyper-dependence on technology has felt increasingly wrong. I’ve increasingly felt that I should being doing stuff that, yes, might be plugged in for amplification and effects, but could just as well be performed acoustically. Because, are we not in a climate and ecological crisis? Rhetorical question, yes we are! And to deal with that crisis, don’t we need urgently to be lowering our energy consumption and rebuilding community? Again, rhetorical question. Yes we absolutely do! So why the hell was I off doing highly technologically dependant music that would sound very diminished acoustically, and that wasn’t helping me connect with people? As I said, it increasingly felt wrong. What was more, all my favourite artists, those whom I admire for doing really superb music that’s utterly relevant socially and politically, were doing music on real instruments that could be done justice to whether plugged or unplugged. Even the hiphop artists I’ve come to like write in such a way that there pieces can be done unaccompanied without loosing quality! I’ve heard them do so at a bunch of protests. So I came to feel in my gut and spirit that, if I want my music to be socially, politically and spiritually relevant, too, then my own practice as a musician needs to embody values of humanity and community. It needs to be grounded.

The upshot of all that, then, is that, when I get my music back up and going, which I hope to be able to do in the fairly near future, it will have a very different sound than the stuff I’ve put out before! I will, of course, still use the internet to share and distribute it, because I kind of have to. But now the tech will be a supplement – a way to both get around access barriers and, hopefully, reach a wider audience. It won’t be integral to my sound or to performance.

The awesome thing is that I think I’ve found a way to make this change while still producing a full, rich sound in my accompaniments, that’s also within my skill-level as an instrumentalist! Because, that’s always been part of the problem. As I said, my main instrument’s always been voice, so I’ve never really developed chops on anything else. Additionally, because I have CP, I don’t have super fine-motor control. It’s OK, but not up to really virtuostic, or even just plain fast, playing. LOL As the current pinch-hitter organist at church pithily put it (with regard to himself not me although I fully relate to the sentiment), “there’s an inverse relationship between the number of notes and how fast I can play them”. LOL So well said!! So a lot of my musical journey has been trying to find work-arounds for those limitations. And by the grace of the Universe, I think I might finally have found one that doesn’t rely on my computer to fake it! I can’t say more without giving spoilers. But hopefully you’ll see and hear soon!

Don’t get me wrong, though, and don’t worry, I haven’t gone Luddite or anything! LOL Those of you who know me know I very much doubt I could. I love and value labour-saving, not to mention access-facilitating, technologies as much as the next person. And I profoundly believe in the importance of preserving those to the greatest extent possible! But I also know that, in the ASAP future, regardless of what genre/style/idiom/medium of art we make, we’re going to have to do it using strictly renewable energy sources and sustainable production processes. Moreover, our art itself is going to have to transform. It’s going to have to stop being a commodity on the market and/or a mere entertainment or escape. It’s going to have to become, instead, a form of renewable energy itself in a way – a source of nourishment, healing and renewal for people psychically and spiritually that strengthens us for the struggle and for the work of surviving and thriving. Now I’m not suggesting, by any means, that this can only be done by small, acoustic bands/artists. Indeed, one of my great dreams in life is to see, and preferably to be involved in creating, a powered-down, non-extractive production of the ALW Phantom. It’d be a huge challenge! But with a bit of creativity, I think it could be done. And that’d be amazing!!But it would be very different from the large-scale, constantly running “sit-down” productions we’re used to (more on my thoughts as to how that might work in future posts). It would, though, be about people coming together in love and community to make and hear great music, tell and receive a sacred story through art, and raise and move energies for healing and regeneration. Perhaps it’d be about that even more than existing productions of the show are now! And that kind of art, that spirit of art, is what I want my own music to be a part of – to move towards. But I don’t feel like I can do that as long as my music’s faked through my computer. It feels too ungrounded that way, and frankly I think it was alienating people.