Archive | January, 2010

You Know You’re a Sweet Little Lovemaker.

31 Jan

I was raised in a house dominated by fucken strong, sexy women-of-will. My years in slam have blessed me with the friendship and example of unabashed divas like Sonya Renee Taylor, Gabrielle Bouliane, and Mona Webb, women who can outsmart you, outclass you, outsexy you, and have you walking away feeling lucky you got three minutes in the ring.

Yep. I am no stranger to Foxy Ladies.

So I took the (very nice!) train from Bellingham to Vancouver.

See? Very nice automatic glass door.

Upon arrival, I suffered the unpleasant realization that, yeah, that one time I got arrested? And spent the night in a holding cell? And my parents never found out because I was out of town (hi Mom and Dad) and the charges were dismissed because several foreign princes were involved (long story, not as porny as it sounds, sadly)? Yeah. Coulda been turned away at the border.

Luckily, the border patrol seemed to feel sorry for me, with my meager briefcase of homemade chapbooks that I easily convinced them weren’t worth the paper they were printed on.

(I am a threat to no one.)

Anyway, the gentle yet fiercely protective Angus Adair was waiting across the border to shepherd me through.


When you get in the habit of regularly haunting terminals throughout the world, the tiny gesture of someone meeting you on arrival or driving you to the airport can bring you to tears (hi again, Mom and Dad). But Angus actually came to me, sans car, ready to battle the border patrol to the death. He gave me a monster hug and taxied me over to where I was staying, making sure I was settled in before heading home.

Please hug Angus for me.

Right now.

I’ll wait.

In this wildebeest existence of few and far between sweet spots and havens barely big enough to cradle one ovary with care, there exists, tucked inside a wall of pines, just off the wonderland of Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, the Foxy House. I was tired, grimy, near defeated – but setting foot inside this place after my border battle was not unlike battling half a mile through a sandstorm only to step into a puddle that turned out to be a sea of milk that had been sweetened, previously, by cereal with colorful marshmallow bits.

Jess, Nora, Chris and Keith were talking story in the dark golden light of the living room. Jess was smoking by the window, cackling and playing her wit like a slap bass. Nora was deadpan humor in a robot-printed onesie, swilling spiked eggnog from a teacup. Chris wore a riding helmet and sipped nog from his own teacup, romping with Nora as the mood suited them. Keith was laughing at it all, stroking the puppy in his lap (Margaret Thatcher), watching people go off like firecrackers around him.

I wasn't joking about the helmet.

This was my first impression of this mostly Canadian stumblefuck of hooraydom. My first impression?

Everyone here is weird. Praise motherfuckin be.


INTERLUDE: How to Have Loud Sex.

Naturally vocal in the bedroom (and dining room), I have generally attempted to downplay the decibel level of my love cries. You know, so other people can sleep and stuff. I did not participate in any sexing while in the confines of the Foxy House, but, ha, the going standard while I was there seemed to be: do it as loud and as often as possible. In honor of the Foxies, then.

* Do Not Give a Fuck Whilst Fucking. In order to have loud sex successfully, it’s important that you not care who might be listening in on you. That means embracing the fact that you’re taking carnal pleasure by the throat (probably out of wedlock) and enjoying it. If you’re embarrassed by this being public knowledge, loud sex is not for you. The only exception to the “Do Not Give a Fuck” rule? If the thought of someone listening in makes you hot.

* Exercise Your Range. If you’re a lady, don’t be afraid to grunt. If you’re a man, a high-pitched moan can be really eerie and lovely. Don’t just make the sounds you think you’re supposed to make just because that’s what actors in southern California do. If you feel like singing or making small talk, try it out. You might like it. A lot.

* Words, Words, Words. Make sure you and your partner have a general understanding of what kind of language you like: naughty/nice, for one. This is especially important if you’re going to be screaming something that everyone in the neighborhood can hear.

* Say My Name. It never gets old.


Of course, before the Foxies could accept me, I had to pass a Filthy American test. After Chris brought me an apricot beer and I’d had a chance to smoke a cigarette and relax, Jess called me out: what did I think of Obama’s presidency to date?

(Everyone was suddenly very silent and attentive.)

I don’t have the best grasp of politics. I just know what little I’ve read and seen and how I feel about it. So I said, plainly, that we’re all a little disappointed right now. Obama’s commitment to continuing the wars his predecessors began is surprising and upsetting. His handling of the early stages of the economic crisis showed him to be naive at best. But it’s unreasonable to blame one man for problems that are obviously systemic, that existed long before he was even born.

The Canadians seemed pleased with my little answer. Jess smiled and offered to get me another apricot beer. And suddenly I was a part of the love and the conversation, all of it, Foxy Foxy 1-2-3.


Blowing Kisses In the Dark.

30 Jan

Got into Austin last night. Gabrielle died while I was in the air. On my way to see her once more. I’m so grateful for her life and light.

I didn’t know Austin got this cold.

We gathered at the Nomad Bar yesterday and I drank a lot of bourbon. I told Daemond that I feel like the weakest person here. I feel young. I’ve known for a while, intellectually, that so many of our community are caretakers, social workers, healers during the day, poets by night, but a situation like this really drives it home. The best I can do is cry with someone who’s hurting. I make an awful rock, I’m afraid.

Sad. Not sure what to do with my hands. I love you all.

Bullet With Butterfly Wings.

22 Jan

Chalkboard in the Temple Bar bathroom.

Most organizers in the poetry scene have to be both steel and sensitivity. The former is a necessary trait for any person who’s interested in running a business successfully. This trait can be even more important when working with artists; most of us are horrendous flakes. Many of us are lazy, self-absorbed, ungrateful, and rife with bad habits – and I love us, yes I do.

But imagine you’re busting your ass to put on the best possible event, working with a venue, cajoling audience and local poets to attend shows, very rarely receiving pay or much credit for the hours you put in, and also having to deal with, for example, an extremely lazy hedonistic night owl loner crashing on your couch for days, eating your food and chasing your (wo)men. *clears throat* However, perhaps most importantly, you also have to be able to turn people down when they ask for features. Even your friends.

But then, to be a good organizer, it’s still crucial to actually love great craft and showmanship. The organizers who lose that love get bitter, and that affects the whole feel of a scene. Even a scene that stays successful on a superficial level – making money, getting press, drawing in crowds – can be extremely unsuccessful in terms of loyalty among artists or quality of work.

Longest intro to Bob Huston ever.

I shadowed Bob around Bellingham for a day. A self-described “person person”, as opposed to a “people person”, Bob has connections to lots of folks in Bellingham. We couldn’t walk a few blocks downtown without Bob making small conversation with someone he knew – smile or joke included. That’s a quality I admire, sure (though I don’t covet it), and obviously an excellent one for an organizer to have. Also good for a poet: as Tara Hardy put it during an iWPS workshop about touring, poets should begin at home. Get local shows, connect to local organizations, and build from there.

We bounced around with our laptops. Bellingham is very pretty. The mountains and fresh air are serious, and so is Bellingham Bay, a silver panther sleeping on the western edge of town. It enchanted me the same way Ithaca, NY did the first time I saw it; overall, Bellingham reminded me strongly, poignantly, of the small New England towns near my high school and college. Not the most diverse town, of course, but probably a pretty good place to grow up.

Bob’s spent most of his life in Bellingham. Given the fact that I’ve had many homes, temporary and otherwise, I found the story of his growth interesting. Having a constant foundation allows one to build in very different ways. Relatively speaking, not a lot of poets in the scene know about Bellingham – but the open mic is fifteen years old, and, as mentioned in an earlier post, it’s of exceptional quality.

Always working.

Besides running the slam, Bob’s begun a small press (mentioned in an earlier post) to showcase local poets, and he’s very recently started traveling for himself. A man of plans and schemes, for sure. I like being around people who are driven. And I had a clear sense that Bob really intends to grow himself and his scene, and that he has the means to do both.



When people can’t or don’t want to buy books from me, or aren’t satisfied giving me a simple compliment, high-five or hug, they sometimes offer tokens of their admiration. Here are a few I’ve received:

* A wish stone to throw in the river. (Portland)

The other side says, "Laura's Skipping Stone"

* A drawing of myself from behind saying, “Hips + shoulders + hair – hair wins!” (Atlanta)

* A rose made out of a napkin. (Boise)

* A blood-spattered sheet of paper with an Aldous Huxley book recommendation scrawled on it. (Berkeley)

* A scarf someone thought was mine. (New York)


That night, we went back to the Temple Bar for a while, then Bob took me to Honey Moon and introduced me to Linda, who was very sweet to us, and who has the most beautiful tattoo.

Pretty, ain't it?

Little Guy was dancing around the room, and we drank the house’s honey wine. A wonderful last night in Bellingham, the little town that could, and will.

Play Through the Pain.

18 Jan

I was seventeen the first time I lost a close friend. Lucky it took the world so long to hit me – but we were both still young enough for it to come as a complete shock. He used heroin, but never seemed to be on the edge in the way others I knew were.

The grief was debilitating. I spent the days after the funeral unable to move much, without appetite, unable to smile. Since I was at boarding school at the time, none of the people around me knew my friend, so that exacerbated my loneliness.

I was one of the leads in our all-school play at the time, and about a week after Justin’s death I had to go back onstage for the dress rehearsal. I remember waiting for my cue backstage, stone-faced, someone asking me if I was alright, and only being able to nod.

And the magic happened the second I walked out there and put on that outlandish personality: the spell broke. After that first moment, I could smile and engage and eat again. It didn’t take the sadness away; the sadness will never entirely leave. But performing brought me back into the world.

One of my dear friends is suffering from terminal cancer, and she’s recently taken a turn for the worse. Here she is, doing a poem at the Austin Slam:

Beautiful woman. I have nothing bad to say about her, nothing whatsoever, and that’s not a phrase I could use for many people.

I’m just really, really looking forward to tomorrow night, when I get to perform at the Boise Slam. At its best, performance is cathartic and redemptive – and although not everyone would understand or agree, it feels like doing something. I need to do that, to move forward, as Gabi wants all of us to do.

Linear posting to resume soon. Thank you for your love.

Come Water Walk With Me.

14 Jan

The next morning, I jumped on the bus to Bellingham. We had a brief layover in Seattle; as the weather was bright and beautiful, I decided to sit outside. Engaged in conversation with a man who asked what I did for a living. I responded with a huge grin on my face. I can’t help but smile when people ask me that, partly because I love my job, partly because I fully realize how absurd “poet” must sound. He asked me for a poem, and I gave him my poem for Patrick, “The Saddest Man on Maui”. He listened carefully. When I was finished, he said I’d almost made him cry.

This was huge for me. Ekabhumi, my coach on the Berkeley team, has a development technique he uses with his poets called the “walking exercise”, in which he walks his poets around his neighborhood in Berkeley and has them recite their poems – first to him, then to random folks he stops on the street. It’s an exercise in agility, courage, and magnetism. I used to have particular trouble with this one. I was very shy performing my poems one-on-one (essentially) for strangers, and generally felt the performative style of my early work was too big, the content too risque, for such intimate sharing. The fact that I was eager to share in this case definitely speaks to my progress.


INTERLUDE: How to Choose the Right Poems

In our last interlude, I mentioned the importance of reading the house when choosing a set. I’d like to elaborate on that point a bit. Choosing the right poems is one of the most difficult questions a poet faces, partly because it’s so important. When you’re still building your name, as I am, mishandling your set can mean the difference between someone buying your book or not, mentioning you to a friend or not, inviting you to their show or not, and all these things matter tremendously when no one knows your name. Besides, people paid good money to see you, or at least invested time and attention. Choosing your set is always something of a crap shoot, dependent as it is on the fickleness of human nature, but do your best to give them a great show.

* Be Yourself. Written into the contract for Boston’s Cantab show is an exhortation to poets to perform the poems for which they’re known instead of trying to wow everyone with their literary chops. When you get booked at a venue that’s famous for stellar poetry, it’s easy to feel unnerved because you want to make the best possible impression. While I was a Berkeley regular, I saw a lot of poets fumble their sets thusly. Push yourself, yes, try new things, yes, but don’t foist a batch of sonnets on a crowd just to convince them you know how to read.

* Balance. Before performing a set for the Young Chicago Authors, I asked Robbie Q what I should spit for the kids. He said, “Challenge them, then reward them.” This is an excellent rule for any feature. Bring more difficult work, yes, but also bring your anthems, your thigh-slappers, and your tear-jerkers.

* Read the Night. Most features go on after a bunch of poets have already performed – in the open mic, the slam, or both. Get a feel for what kinds of poems move the audience. Listen for what hasn’t yet been said. You can score major points by keeping both these things in mind.

* Compose with Care. Ekabhumi likens a feature to a symphony, and it’s certainly helpful to think in these terms. You want your poems to transition smoothly from one to the next, especially as far as mood goes. Conventional wisdom generally dictates that one should begin and end big, with humor or/and power, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true for opening a show. I agree that ending on an uplifting note makes everyone feel better in the end.

* Work the Room. Think of which of your poems might be especially suited to the space itself (nature poems in outdoor venues, drinking poems at bars, Bay Area poems in Berkeley), and craft your set around these crown jewels.


I arrived in Bellingham that night and sort of stared, slack-jawed, at the landscape for a little while. It’s been mostly an East Coast and Midwestern existence for the past year, so yeah, wow. Pines and mist and bright moon over mountains. Bob met me at the station, elegantly stroking his little dog (commonly known as Little Guy).


We dropped my stuff off at his house, I cleaned up a bit, then we went for a nosh.

Shall we? We shall.

Bellingham has an amazing little gourmet bar/restaurant called the Temple Bar. The wine list is very good, the food largely (if not entirely?) local and sustainable, and quite delicious. I generally don’t drink before a feature – it dulls my nervous edge and undercuts my enunciation – but I was charmed by Bob’s cosmopolitan air. We spoke for a while over a lovely little cheese plate, then headed to the show at the Anker Cafe.

Bustling crowd.

Eirean told me, before I left Portland, that Bellingham was the “academic reading”, and Bob referred to the regulars as “sharks”. When the open mic began, I understood perfectly. The quality of the poetry in Bellingham is simply fucking phenomenal. It might be the most consistently good and challenging show I’ve attended. Among the bright lights: Ryler Dustin, of course, whose technique has really blossomed in the years since I saw him last,


and a poet named Robert Lashley.


If you haven’t heard this cat, find him. He’s very, very good. One of the best new poets on the scene. Bob’s new press publishes his book.

Of course, good poetry is nothing without an excellent audience, and Bellingham has that, too. The crowd is diverse in terms of age and opinion. People listen very well, and respond loudly and with approval even at tricky lines and oblique metaphors. They loved my work! We were all happy happy at the night’s end, and headed to the Copper Hog for our own little after party. Miracle the most, perhaps: we hung out for an hour or two and continued to talk about poetry. Not about slam drama, not about the business of poetry – but poetry itself. I went to bed that night feeling like a river dragon who’d found the sea.

Relish What You Get.

9 Jan

Later in Portland, Charissa and Eirean took me to Powell’s, also known as the City of Books, a 68,000-square foot mecca for lovers of the printed word. I worked in independent bookstores for two solid years, so I’d heard rumors of Powell’s in the updraft, but I really didn’t remember any of that when my Portland guides led me in and I saw the throngs of humanity lined up to buy books, and the massive color-coded key guiding we tourists to sections on any given floor.

Okay, I was flummoxed. Crowds stress me out, and I’m no longer in the habit of running my fingers down spines. Except in my imagination. *clears throat* But when I don’t know where to go, I go to poetry, of course, so that was my first stop.

Before we continue this friendship, it’s crucial that you know: there’s a side of me that’s an old white man. Specifically a 70s-something, heavily bespectacled man with a frothy white beard and much cantankerousness, and a mind that browses of its own free will (I NEVER gave it permission to go into the Restricted Section of Hogwarts). So I’ll admit, I’m not in a poetry-buying phase. I’m feeling good artists’ journals right now (Camus & Basho; seeking Van Gogh and Da Vinci, open to other suggestions). I still read and hear a lot of poetry of course, seeing as it’s my fucking profession.

I’ll break it down a bit: I can’t stand most prose. It’s usually terribly sloppy (most fiction), or so dense as to be unreadable (most nonfiction). I also can’t stand most plays or poetry (they tend to be stilted), my own included. I like articles best because I can stop reading them after the first 2-4 paragraphs if they suck. There’s no false hope. I generally feel compelled to give books a chance once I begin them, and boy howdy, have I wasted my life.

Maybe a year ago I read an online article by a woman living in New York, a text some might group as Third Wave Feminist or Gen-X, or something. The author had dated men and dated men, yet never found her Progressive Prince Charming – and now? She finds she’s much more dismissive of men than she was when younger, so she’s less likely to settle down than ever. She judged herself pretty harshly for it all, too, in my recollection (if anyone remembers reading this, please send me a link).

Anyhow, that’s my stance towards most books. I’ve accidentally cultivated a “been there, done that” mentality. I’m still a fan of a great book, as I’m sure the aforementioned jaded woman is still a fan of an excellent date/lay/conversation/friendship. But when you’ve been hearing the same game for years, true, shit gets tired. So I leafed through some poetry, some blank journals, looked for a friendly yet thorough “1001 Nights” text, asked the clerk for Lorca’s “In Search of Duende” (I will have absorbed a copy newly into my body fat by the time we next converse, Roger), to no avail, and browsed the graphic novels. I left with a Decomposition Book to scrawl in, Basho’s “Narrow Road to the Interior” (trans. Sam Hamill), and Ho Che Anderson’s “King”. Yep, I was bookstore, once. When I buy a book, it means something.

We rested at home for a while before leaving for the slam.

INTERLUDE: A Poet’s Guide to Acting Like a Professional

We’ve talked a bit about presentation and staying less diva when offered shelter. Here’s the “How-To” that maybe matters most: how to carry yourself at a show.

* Treat Every Show Reverently. Some say poetry/art makes no difference in the world. That’s bullshit. I can list, without pause, poem after poem, painting after painting, &c., and I can tell you exactly how each has consciously changed my life (to say nothing of the subconscious). So maybe you’re playing a small room. Maybe you aren’t competing or opening up for KRS-1 or Mos Def. You’re an asshole if you don’t respect the crowd in Podunk as you would the crowd in Metropolis, and, in fact, your elitist ass can stop reading everything I write now and forever, amen. You don’t deserve to be a performance poet. Slam is a fucking populist art, and without it, spoken word as we know it wouldn’t exist. And go to hell.

* Make Sure Your Money’s Right. If you’re dealing with strangers who other poets/organizers don’t stand behind, have a contract ready (another Sonya Renee tip). The scene isn’t as Wild West as it was in days of yore, but be smart. Always have credit or dollars on hand, if possible, just in case, and don’t deal with people who seem too shady.

* Read the House. A great poet leads. A great performer leads. But read your space. Judge the intensity of poems you should use, and whether or not going off-mic, crowd-walking, or bantering to excess is welcome. Most often, you have at least half an open mic or slam to fine-tune your set; get the basics down before arriving at the venue, and adjust as necessary at the last minute.

*Stay Sober. Just a suggestion. I mean, as though you were touching another human being for the first time, every time. There’s space to do whatever else after the show.

* Stick Your Landing. I co-opted this term from the world of gymnastics a few years back to emphasize the importance of ending a poem with power and intention. As in delivering the kind of final line that gives you good chills as opposed to bad indigestion. The same tactic applies to performance as a whole. When you walk off the stage, you must stay bright and greet people, juggle and banter and sell (when possible). Compliment folks on their poems, genuinely. Talk about touring and your life as though no one’s ever asked before.


I enjoyed the Portland Slam a lot. Much great poetry. Excellent intensity from the audience. Fucking great venue, great energy from Eirean. The crowd was a bit light, but it was two days after Xmas, first nasty weather in a while in a scene that still needs to regain its legs, and the first time in a new spot. Eirean seemed a little embarrassed; as an old-school poet and organizer, I’m sure it’s hard to feel like you haven’t packed a house to the gills when a poet you like comes through. I felt good, though. Heard some excellent work. If all goes well in the building, Portland is a scene to watch, for sure. My poems transmitted, and I got a lot of hugs and good talk. Slept like I’d done my job right that night.

The Hipsters of Portland, Oregon Have the Most Impressive Donuts (with apologies to J.W. Baz)

6 Jan

After a long, hard sleep (in the spare room, hooray!), Eirean and Charissa suggested we go for breakfast. The choices were a make-your-own pancakes joint or a Swedish place. I decided to be loyal to my blood for once in my life (nods to a motherland), and we went Swede for the morning. I’m not terribly fond of American-style breakfasts, with all their eggs and egg-based breadiness, so it was nice to have enticing entree options for a change. I ordered a breakfast board that included fruit, yogurt, meat, cheese, fish, and brown bread, and a mug of hot cider with a pleasant bite of ferment.


Wonderful! The variety delighted palate and stomach alike. The decor was also lovely, a nice reconceptualization of Swedish style, somewhat spare but warm, with rich stained wood and splashes of assertive pastel.

After breakfast, we headed to Hawthorne Avenue, which might be termed Hipster Boulevard. I suppose I don’t have a great overall impression of the species since the San Francisco strain can be so rude and pretentious, but the Portland hipsters seemed pretty nice. They were quiet, mellow, riding bikes around and moving gently through the world. We walked around the neighborhood for some time, passing cafes aplenty, fashionable secondhand shops, and stores featuring beautiful artisanal goods.

I'm a sucker for jewels.

The foremost point was the coffee, though. Eirean works in the coffee trade, which makes him the least intimidating drug dealer of all time, and also uniquely qualified to point out what is, in some respects, obvious: Portland is bonkers for coffee. Pretty much every time we paused for thought or breath, someone bought a cup. Eirean wowed me by comparing coffee in Portland to wine in California, and describing mystical cafes where sacred cups of joe are sold for $20 a pop. At this, I could only shake my head…

Being on the road is kind of the most sensible time for me to shop. I never have much money, and whatever I buy I have to physically haul around for the remainder of my tour, so many a frivolous calamity is averted. I like looking, though. Brilliant toys, jewelry, cards, clothes – seeing beautiful things pleases me.

Neat toys, yeah?

If people have made these lovely items, it means people are thinking lovely, creative thoughts, which feeds and inspires me to do the same. I saw an interview with Vivienne Westwood, punk rock fashionista, on the plane ride over. She said, quite well I thought, that we all ought to put energy into developing our personal styles, to dress up our beauty and play to our strengths and joys instead of trying so damn hard to blend in and look like everybody else (for the record, she’s the one who brought the Circle-A anarchy symbol into contemporary culture).


INTERLUDE: How to Develop Your Personal Style

I didn’t really begin to understand my image until I started to slam. Dating a rockabilly boy helped to spur that transition, of course: when the person you love and spend all your time with thinks a lot about his image, that tends to be contagious. Slam solidified that for me, though. When I worked with Ekabhumi, one of my coaches in the Bay, he stressed the importance of understanding how your audience reads you onstage. As I continued to grow, I had to get accustomed to the fact that people were going to photograph and videotape me, and that those images would be readily accessible to the world.

Having your own style is key to continued success in this game, I think. You want to make yourself into an icon in some ways. As a slammer, it’s obviously important to have your own voice as a writer and performer, but the clothes do make the woman in some respects. Here are a few very simple tips to get you started if you haven’t really thought about it before.

* Choose clothes that fit. In college, my friend Claudia (a self-proclaimed genius) gave me this tip, and it’s by far the most important. You can rock absolutely anything if it fits your body well. Don’t be a fool and blow your money on something unflattering just because it’s branded or supposedly fashionable. Same goes for color: learn which colors look good on you, and build your palette based on them. (I just used “palate” and “palette” in the same post. Thank you, I’ll be here all night.)

* Buy within your means. It can be worth investing in a few well-made, expensive pieces that you know you can work in a number of ways, but don’t knock the less expensive goods. Again, don’t bother with items that don’t fit – but dig around in your local secondhand stores (Sheba), maybe your neighborhood Ross (Sonya). What you find might surprise you.

* Learn to sew. Making your own clothes, or altering them, is by far the best way to get exactly what you want. Most of us don’t have off-the-rack bodies, so being able to tweak something or create it from scratch is the best way to accomplish the Prime Directive.

* Talent scout. If you’re really at a loss as to how to pair colors, fabrics, and patterns, don’t be afraid to look at what you like on other people. Look at fashion magazines if it won’t depress you (it depresses me). Keep your eyes open when you walk around the streets of your town or city and try to get a sense of what you think looks cool on other people. I’m a big fan of learning at least a little of what’s come before, the better to subvert with grace.


I suppose I should applaud hipsters for making an effort to bring style and art into everyday life. I mean, it took a hipster town to bring me my luxurious Swedish breakfast, didn’t it? And a do-it-yourself pancake house? That’s bonkers, and fun. I also meant what I said about the donuts.

Impressive, no?

But I’m a little uncomfortable, in any case. Leaving the obvious question of racial diversity to the side for a moment: having the luxury and resources to develop personal style, or to create baroque pastries, presupposes a certain level of economic comfort. Even Westwood, who made art using materials that were considered cheap and vulgar, had access to resources that most people in the world don’t. I guess I just don’t want to forget that having the freedom to explore the realm of style is a tremendous luxury in and of itself. Art for art’s sake as opposed to art forged out of political or practical necessity – the tension between the two remains.