Debut issue of Blacktop Passages: Owls can get it!

Now get. in. this. car. because there are some seriously wonderful writers in this gorgeous new literary journal, including Olivia Wolfgang-Smith with “Driving Directions to the Illegal Owl Prowl”, Lauren Fusilier with A selection from Stay: a novel, Steve Lapinsky with “Potholes” and many others! Read it http://issuu.com/blacktoppassages/docs/blacktop_passages_issue_one digitally and/or order the hard copy. Either way, it’s a good thing.

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Image from http://www.blacktoppassages.com/

Founded in early 2013, Blacktop Passages is a literary review dedicated to the open road. Whether by interstate or local road, by car or by foot, we seeks to publish the finest work about kickin’ the dust up and hittin’ the trail.

Blacktop Passages wants to serve as a home for stories inspired by that feeling of speeding down a long stretch of highwaypowerful poemsbrought on by the hum of tires on pavement, and lucid meditations on everything from the U.S. Interstate System to that one little truck stop off I-10. We’re a safe-haven for the stories of transition that are often overshadowed by the destination. We’re a journal of the road, for the road–a magazine for every lonely traveler who’s ever needed a break from the reality of one mile after another, for all the quiet passengers looking for an escape from the journey, or a celebration of it.

As long as it’s a great piece and it’s about the road, Blacktop Passages is happy to have your work in our pages. All we want is thoughtful writing, full of the feelingconflict, and desire that radiates from the being on the road.

 

Check out http://www.blacktoppassages.com/ for more about the journal, editors, and the submission guidelines (because you should submit).

Alright bitches, this is what a #RealGypsyWarrior looks like

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In case you didn’t know, I really love fashion. I love it as an art form with all its complications. But I absolutely loathe the fashion industry’s exploitation of Romani people. I got an email today from LOOKBOOK, a mailing list I was subscribed to, about a festival they are sponsoring in partnership with the enormously racist Gypsy Warrior fashion retailer. This is their pitch:
“Calling all gypsies! Are you a true Gypsy Warrior? Do you love adventure, dance to the beat of your drum? Create your own trends and believe in the magical moments and never ending fun? If you answered yes to these questions, then hell yea, you are a true Gypsy Warrior! “
OH HELL NO. A true Gypsy Warrior is a Romani person (or ally) who rights for Romani rights, for representation, who faces systemic racism and perseveres, who educates, who works to see that Roma are no longer treated like parasites. A real Gypsy Warrior thinks that this is a bunch of racist bullshit. I wrote a letter to that effect.
To Whom it May Concern,
I was offended by the email I received “LOOKBOOK x Gypsy Warrior music festival.” The email begins, “Calling all gypsies [sic]….” First, the word “gypsy,” in the lowercase, is an ethnic slur for the Romani people, an oppressed ethnic group. The company Gypsy Warrior exploits harmful Romani stereotypes to sell a product. In light of the current Romani human rights crisis, which Amnesty International has called “Europe’s shame,” this is a very tactless and offensive move and I am disappointed that LOOKBOOK is joining in with the exploitation. For more about the Romani human rights crisis: http://www.amnesty.org/en/roma. To take the word “Gypsy” and turn it into a romanticized consumerist image, it makes a costume out of an ethnic group and a culture. “Gypsy Warrior” is as tasteless and offensive as “Jew Warrior” or “Asian Warrior.” This is especially problematic when so many Americans have no idea that Romani people are actually people and not some figment of fantasy or a lifestyle choice, as the media repeatedly suggests. Roma were murdered, en masse, in the Holocaust. They were slaves alongside African Americans in America. They were slaves for four centuries in Europe. Romani people today are denied safe housing, education, health care, and jobs. Antigypsyists bomb the settlements that Roma are forced to live in without electricity or plumbing. Police in Europe in America target and brutalize Roma because of their ethnicity. Romani women suffer frced sterilization at the hands of their government. Romani mortality rates are significantly higher than non-Roma. This is not the glamorous “Gypsy Warrior” that the media likes to draw, and the constant perpetuation of “Gypsy” costume, sexualization, and romanticization belittles and obscures the real and desperate fight for Romani rights. For this reason, I will no longer be part of LOOKBOOK’s mailing list. As a Romani woman and a humanitarian, I am offended and disappointed.
Sincerely,
Jessica Reidy
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If you want to hear more about this issue, here’s a link to my article in Quail Bell Magazine “Gypsy Soul: Romani Fashion and the Politics of Dressing Gypsy”. In it, I’ve included links to some great sources on the topic including Oksana Marafioti, Dr. Ian Hancock, and Erika Varga.
As part of the contest, they want you to “Just post your most festival worthy look with at least one Gypsy Warrior item to this contest and Instagram.” I have an alternative suggestion. Please, take a moment to post your most protest-worthy look with at least one sign that says “END ROMANI EXPLOITATION. #RealGypsyWarrior” via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and raise awareness. Remember the hash tag. Post and share if you believe in human rights and the importance of media representation. Post if you’re friends with me and want to show your support. Post if you love a Romani person. Post if you are a Romani person. Post if you love real “Gypsy” culture. Post if your hair looks good today. Post. And let me see what you posted via Facebook,Twitter, and WordPress. This is what a real Gypsy Warrior looks like.
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That raised eyebrow means I’m judging you, Gypsy Warrior.

Forced sterilization: Europe is still torturing Romani women

For the story, read “FORCED STERILIZATION OF ROMANI WOMEN – A PERSISTING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION” on the Romedia Foundation blog http://romediafoundation.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/forced-sterilization-of-romani-women-a-persisting-human-rights-violation/

Forced sterilization is still happening to Romani women. This would not happen if governments saw Roma as people instead of pestilence. This injustice certainly casts as pall on all those “sexy Gypsy” stereotypes. It doesn’t help matters when the media misrepresents Romani women as hypersexualized animals/objects. For more on this, read Ian Hancock’s article “The ‘Gypsy’ stereotype and the sexualization of Romani women.”

The only way to fight this is to speak up, demand justice, and make damn sure that no one forgets.

“While human rights can be violated by individuals or by institutions, they can only be defended by institutions. The European Court of Human Rights does not deal with single individuals who have committed crimes. Rather, it focuses on why the government in question could not take action against what happened. But where are the doctors, politicians and all the people who personally contributed to or carried out such surgeries, and when they are going to take responsibility for their actions? In order to take action against this human rights violation, blaming the Communist regime is not enough. The practice continues today and forcibly sterilized Romani women are still a long way from receiving true justice.” —Galya Stoyanova

Contemporary Romani (“Gypsy”) Art

Romani art is an overlooked treasure. Of course a culture so rich with symbolism, song, lore, and history would produce incredible art! So few people understand that “Gypsies” are a real ethnic group with cultures and sub-cultures, tribes/groups, spirituality, cuisine, music, dance, folk stories, dress, and on and on, so naturally we don’t hear a lot about the contemporary Romani arts scene. And as Roma are an underrepresented oppressed minority, the opportunities for Romani artists are few and many assimilated Roma are not safe to disclose their ethnicity. The Romani human rights crisis has been called “Europe’s shame” by Amnesty International and the UN. But it’s not just Europe.

“With a population of 10 to 12 million, the Roma are one of the largest and most disadvantaged minorities in Europe. Six million live in the EU.

Hundreds of thousands of Roma have been forced to live in informal settlements and camps, often without heating, water or sanitation; tens of thousands are forcibly evicted from their homes every year.

Thousands of Romani children are placed in segregated schools and receive a substandard education.

Roma are often denied access to jobs and quality health care. They are victims of racially motivated violence and are often left unprotected by the police and without access to justice.

This is not a coincidence. It is the result of widespread discrimination and racism…” http://www.amnesty.org/en/roma

But thank goodness that the Roma persevere and that Roma and Romani allies speak out against injustice. Art gives voice to the voiceless, to cultures and generations, to nations and people united through symbols, stories, history, union, and discord. In the class I teach at Florida State University, “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: Writing Creatively about Romani Culture” we discuss Romani arts, culture, literature, rights, and representation. Right now we’re writing ekphrastic poetry on visual artwork by Romani artists, and I thought I’d post a list of some of the artists my students and I have been admiring. Here’s our class blog if you’re interested: http://gypsyrepresent.wordpress.com/

Right now, I’m in love with the very successful, superfluously talented Romani painter Lita Cabellut. Keep an eye out for her work in the next issue of The Southeast Review.

“Born into poverty in Barcelona in 1961 and lived on the street before entering into an orphanage and being adopted at age 13 by a family that gave her the opportunity to develop her talents:“Actually, I learned to paint before to read and write.”
After studying the basics of drawing with a tutor, she had her first exhibit at age 17. At 19, she moved to study at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where she continues to live today.“I married very young, my first marriage was with the art”. http://thegypsychronicles.net/lita-cabellut/ 

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Lita Cabellut, “Billie Holiday,” 2013, mixed media on canvas

Some links to Romani artists:

Here is a list of links to Romani artists’ names, works, and/or websites, as well as some other helpful resources:

http://www.romaniworld.com/artill.htm links to artworks by Romani artists

http://balval.pagesperso-orange.fr/ Marcel Hognon, Manouche sculptor

http://balval.pagesperso-orange.fr/ Mona, Manouche painter

http://www.romacult.org/en/catalog/2071/ a list of names of Romani artists that you can Google for images and information

http://www.rommuz.cz/en Museum of Roma Culture, Brno, Czech Republic

http://thegypsychronicles.net/romaartists-aspx/ Click on the artist that you want to learn more about

http://lolodiklo.blogspot.com/2011/02/art-by-romani-women-in-hungary.html Art by Romani women

http://lowegallery.com/artists/index-scrollbar.php?artist=lita-cabellut Lita Cabellut, Romani painter from Barcelona

http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/how-to/from-theory-to-practice/formal-visual-analysis.aspx Elements and Principles of art

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Lita Cabellut, “Dried Tear,” 2013, mixed media on canvas

The Fairy Exits: photography and fiction by William Leith in Quail Bell Magazine

In “The Fairy Exits,” William Leith turned me into a whirling dervish fairy with his photography genius and wrote a fanciful flash fiction to match for Quail Bell Magazine. Let me tell you, modeling for this shot was super fun. Lots of twirling lights and nocturnal fairy business.

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“The Fairy Exits” by William Leith. Click the image for the full story in Quail Bell Magazine!

Juice for Emily: favorite juice fast recipes

My friend Emily Alford, who’s working on a freaking amazing novel, asked me for some juice fast recipes so I figured I should actually use this blog for what I intended, which is to create a resource for writers and artists to support their creative life with self-care through clean diet, yoga, meditation, frolicking… etc. Juice fasts are a great way to cleanse your system without getting the rough stuff that water fasts come with, like dizziness, low blood sugar, and general rage and unhappiness. They are nutrient-rich and keep you happily hydrated while giving your digestive system a break and giving you a fresh start and consistent energy. Emily asked me for recipes when she was actually in a Whole Foods, but I was at a talk by the literary agent Warren Frazier and didn’t understand the urgency of the request until about 12 hours later. Erm… so I made blog. 

Here are my top favorite juices:

Clean juice

2 zucchini (or cucumbers)

2 apples

1 stalk of celery

juice of half a lemon, squeezed (if it’s a Meyers lemon you can throw it in rind and all)

1 bunch mint

1 stalk of fennel

 

Energizing juice

8 carrots

4 oranges

1 apple

1 handful of unpeeled kumquats (optional)

 

Pizza juice (this is a disgusting name… please call it something else)

4 tomatoes

1 small clove of garlic

2 stalks of celery

1 handful of basil

1 small handful of oregano

2 carrots

juice of 1/2 a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

 

Sweet juice

1 cup of spinach (or any green of choice)

1 cup of grapes

1 apple

2 oranges

1 nectarine

 

Fragrant juice

4 pears

1-2 stalks of lemongrass

1/2 a pineapple

1 cup of grapes

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Emily is also a regular contributor to The Daily Meal, so you should check out her hilarious and delicious theme-recipes and food articles.