Author Archives: Fe Bongolan

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

Day One

I started writing this article Friday morning, one day after the Republican National Convention concluded business. According to their nominee Mr. Trump, the entire world outside my door should be a flaming paper bag of dog shit by now, and he is the only one who will save us from it. I am going to step outside a minute today to check on that and will be right back.


Okay. I have checked the world and confirmed it’s not entirely a flaming paper bag full of dog shit. It is, however, in a transition period between the end of the Republican National Convention and the beginning of the Democratic National Convention.

It appears as though this transition was written as a screenplay by John Le Carre and Richard Condon. For those not familiar with spy thrillers, Le Carre and Condon are (respectively) the authors of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Manchurian Candidate.

Outside of a spy novel plot, what has happened thus far in the 2016 American presidential campaign seems pretty fantastical. It all started off normally enough. On Friday, Mrs. Clinton successfully introduced her running mate Tim Kaine to the rest of the country at the Democratic ticket’s rally in Miami, Florida. Then, while that was happening, WikiLeaks dumped thousands of emails from the DNC’s servers — particularly from DNC leaders Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Amy Dacey and Brad Marshall — which showed the DNC may have colluded with the Clinton campaign against the Sanders campaign.

Although the content of the emails were individual, personal exchanges and suggestions by DNC leadership on how the Clinton campaign could use Sanders’ atheism as a means to stem the Sanders campaign’s insurgency, those suggestions were not used by the Clinton campaign. What the leak did do successfully was to throw the proverbial turd in the punch bowl of the Democratic National Convention. Its timing was perfect, ripping off the scabs from the wounds of die-hard Sanders supporters and delegates who felt cheated by Sanders’ loss in the primaries, thereby creating a contentious Day 1 for the Clinton-Kaine celebration.

But then the story gets even weirder. Over the weekend, the Clinton campaign accused Russia of tampering with American politics, citing that Russians hacked DNC email servers to benefit Donald Trump. The FBI, for their part, believe the same.

For those new to this storyline, the Putin-Trump connection started emerging long before this DNC email hack was reported by the press. Josh Marshall’s article in Talking Points Memo, the Washington Post, and Slate all cover Trump’s Putin connection and its relevance to the campaign, which in a nutshell is this: On the campaign trail, Trump has called for a new partnership with Moscow and overhauling NATO, the allied military force seen as the chief protector of pro-Western nations near Russia. And Trump has surrounded himself with a team of advisers who have or have had financial ties to Russia.

That advisory team includes Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, partner in the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelley, which is featured in the Center for Public Integrity’s Report, The Torturers’ Lobby.  Manafort is a long-time friend and ally of Viktor Yanukovych, former President of Ukraine (elected 2010), who was sympathetic to Russia’s agenda for the region. He was deposed in 2014. Yanukovych now lives in southern Russia under protection of a Russian citizenship granted him by Putin.

With the exception of Deutsche Bank, major banks in the West refuse to do business with Trump. The risk is too great due to his unscrupulous business practices. Trump is a long-time admirer of Vladimir Putin, and Putin’s Russian oligarchic supporters provide capital for Trump’s projects here and abroad.


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The Trump campaign’s gutting of the Republican Party’s platform against Russian tactics in Ukraine indicate how and why he would like the US to change the way we view Russian interests in the region. It supports his financial interests.

Given late June’s Brexit vote, and the failed Turkish coup against Erdogan — another strong Putin fan — acting on behalf of Putin’s interests may serve to completely destabilize an already fragile Europe and NATO. And neither Trump nor Putin gives a shit. They’re bros.

But this week is about the Democrats. As of yesterday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) has resigned from her post as Chair of the DNC. At this morning’s Florida state delegation’s breakfast she was roundly booed. She will not be speaking first to gavel the convention to begin. Donna Brazile will act as temporary Chair for the DNC and the campaign. Senator Sanders will formally endorse Secretary Clinton, though he was booed by his own supporters today when urging their support of her.

This is just Day One of the Democratic National Convention. Four days after the Republican National Convention and we haven’t even begun with the speeches. Who knows what’s going to happen next? It all feels like worlds are colliding, and indeed they are. We are connected by global finance and interests and, in this election year, it shows itself in every way imaginable from the “R” to the “D” side. It may be a case of picking your poison. But maybe one we can recover from; choose the other one, and the world may not.

So there is no real, big flaming bag of dog poop on my front porch at least. But who knows what will happen this week? Well, let me take that back. At least we will know one thing by the end of the evening: Michelle Obama will be the first First Lady ever to have spoken at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. That’s a positive!

Let Me Get This Off My Chest

Let me get this off my chest right now. This week, there on national television live from Cleveland, Ohio, we are about to experience the rolling thunder review of human rights disasters played out with speeches and ending with balloons. In short, the Republican National Convention. There we will find it all: homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, vagina-fearing and gun-lust.


You can stop reading right here, or we can go on. Honestly, given global and domestic events since this Mars station direct, I would prefer to not even write about this.

In fact, given what is going on around the planet and our country right now I would be much happier writing out the recipe for stewed shoes. But I know I cannot ignore it. I completely understand if you would prefer not to watch.

Me? I will check in five minutes per day wearing a gas mask with my finger on the remote’s “mute” button in case it gets really crazy.

Even while reluctant, I feel compelled to check in. It’s like placing a dipstick into a muck-infested pool to test whether the slime has begun to dissipate. I want to see what that ghostly moaning underneath the cellar stairs is. I want to see if there is any semblance of heart remaining in the zombie GOP.

I say zombie, because it seems as though whatever life-consciousness that was in the Republican Party has been slowly drained out by the GOP’s wan acceptance of the extremist Tea Publicans that are the party’s base, and their candidates: Mr. Donald “Deport-the-Mexicans-and-Torture-Terrorist’s-Families” Trump, and his running mate, Mike “Christ-is-Lord-and-Bring-Your-Rapist’s-Baby-to-Term” Pence. They are now the party of the dead.

Whatever remained of sane conservatives have flown the coop, refused to run, were voted out by the Tea Party faction in their state, or went on to work as lobbyists on K Street in Washington. We won’t even see former Republican presidential candidates Senator John McCain or Mitt Romney. That breed of GOP elephant is an extinct species. What remains is the obstructionist wing of the party willing to crater the world to get their way.


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Everything I’ve said so far is nothing I haven’t said before. Both Democratic and Republican conventions are week-long infomercials on steroids. What we’ll witness this week will be the presentation of policies by politicians based on the sullen ignorance we’ve witnessed with dismay over the last eight years. Starting today the themes covered will be under the banners of “Make America Safe Again”, “Make America First Again”, “Make America One Again”, and “Make America Work Again.”

I think a great many of us here are very over the message the Republican Party has to offer. So over it that I think even some Republicans are through with the party as it is. The one thing this week-long visit to the mind and heart of American darkness provides is that it is a way to wrap up any doubts we may have had about holding onto the past: the principles that the Republicans have been desperately trying to hold onto since Barack Obama took office.

But it’s 2016. Mars, Uranus and Eris are in motion and we need to get ready for the future. Changes are going to come. We need to be ready to meet them intelligently, compassionately. It’s time to glance back — albeit briefly — over our shoulders to the shit show on national TV this week and focus ourselves forward in response to it.

It’s as Eric always says: make art, music, sex and noise. Do it as much as you can now. Do it as a response to what you see and hear, and fight the lies that hold us down and back. We’ve got to keep scratching, pulling and pounding on the door this week that some so desperately want to keep closed. The future waits behind it. Let’s go there.


Monday, July 11, 2016. Outside of going to the gym and making a round for the groceries, my house saw a lot more of me than it’s used to. I live upstairs in a duplex in Oakland, CA, where outside my front porch is an 80-year-old spruce tree that’s three stories high. Outside my bedroom window is a golden plum tree, the twin to the other plum tree that accompanies the spruce on the porch side.


Squirrels make their journey from tree to tree, using my roof and the redwood deck railing as frontage roads on their scamper from tree to tree. They never touch the ground. In the morning, I have my first cup of coffee sitting on the front porch — which is large enough to be a patio — to listen to the birds sing. Based on my own advice from last Friday, and the consistent writings of our PW team these last few days, I have heeded the advice of the planets and allowed my home to be my personal form of medicine.

I needed it. The thought of watching or listening to the news this weekend was so disturbing that my insides ached even at the thought of it. I can’t hear one more news anchor argue about or even talk about last week. My bullshit meter is so hot right now, I can’t afford the time to blow another gasket over yet the same old arguments and same old framework used in an attempt to explain, contradict or analyze the killings of the two African-American men in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, or the five policemen in Dallas.

Right now, and apropos to our current Cancer Sun, the animal I most see myself as is a nautilus, a mollusc in the same family as octopus and squid, but it has a shell as its outer body. Its shell grows out in a logarithmic spiral as it matures, adhering to its basic shape yet expanding out. As its tentacles reach out to forage and hunt in the ocean, its tender inner body remains inside.

If this description seems like I am retreating into a shell, let me assure you I am not, as this very article’s presence and my willingness to write about this self-induced introspection should prove. If anything, I am absorbing the lessons of my life and our lives in this day and age.

One Daily Kos diarist, dkmich, said it this way in a diary on July 8:

I need a new lexicon for this. I can engage in this differently. I can find common ground. I can be sad about officers killing unarmed civilians AND, at the same time, be sad about heavily armed civilians killing officers protecting citizens. And posing with protesters in pictures.

As of this week we are further along than we’ve ever been on discussing the disproportionate deaths of African Americans by police. We are now in our sixth day of this topic in the news cycle. NRA members are openly questioning their leadership as to why they are not defending the rights of a black gun owner, Philando Castile. Conservative websites Redstate and Daily Caller are having serious discussions on the recent deaths; and Mike Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas, complained open carry laws endanger more lives than protect them. Well, duh. But believe me, to say that in Texas is a big fucking deal.

I hope we are not settling for easy answers. Easy answers — lone shooter, rogue cop, suspicious black man going for his gun — got us to Alton’s death, Philando’s death and the deaths of the five Dallas police officers who work under a black chief of police — a police chief who runs a police department that has a good reputation with the black community.

Easy answers and assumptions based on biased viewpoints crafted over the years got us to this point. We are reaching — literally and figuratively — a dead end. Having had time to reflect and not react, it feels like we’re in a self-imposed nautilus shell. An easy answer is not acceptable.

The trauma of last week’s events are forcing us to work on releasing ourselves from the previous chambers of old and worn-out ideas about race and culture, policing and gun violence in America. Are we undergoing logarithmic growth? Can we begin to expand on our old understanding of race without resorting to defensiveness or having to limit ourselves to thoughts and prayers for more of those shot dead?

I am a person of color in America. I feel fortunate to have a front porch where I can drink my morning cup of coffee and reflect on the state of our country and the world. Too many do not. We need to think, feel and act on the conflicting feelings we feel to begin to come to terms with the roots of this insidious tree of racism and violence that threatens to choke us. And we need to do more than pray. We need a new way of thinking.

The late, great Fannie Lou Hamer once said: “You can pray all you want, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.” It’s a good time in the aftermath of the most recent tragedies to work to provide some meaning to the lives and deaths of those lost last week — and in the weeks, months and years before. We need to do the logarithmic growing from the left-behind-smaller-space of our former shell to become greater, and overcome this.


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Re-Establishing Connection

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” — from the epilogue to “A Burst of LIght” by Audre Lorde

This week, within the space of 48 hours, there were two police shootings of African-American men while they were just living their lives, followed by a mass shooting attack on Dallas police at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally last night.


This was more death and terror than I could handle in such a short amount of time. I couldn’t bring myself to watch either video documenting Alton Sterling’s or Philandro Castile’s murder.

It was enough to know two more African-American men had died at the hands of the police. Something in the network of my nervous system said: “Don’t look.” It’s too close to home. I think about my cousin’s daughters, both married to African-American men. I think about my best friend Rhodessa, an African-American woman whose family is a part of mine. I think about all the African-American women who I work with who are part of my extended artistic family.

I cannot accept that all these people who I love are feeling the pain and terror for their own existence. Fighting for their lives. Their struggle is mine because they are so tightly woven into the fabric of my heart that I must remain present with them. They are me. My heart was sinking.

Yesterday, oddly enough, it was Facebook that saved my sanity. My community was coming up with resources for us to handle what was coming at us. My friend Gloria posted some healing words of advice on her Facebook page, which I shared on mine. My friend Rhodessa posted a link from Colorlines to a compendium of articles on how to cope with and balance out PTSD, called 4 Self-Care Resources for When the World is Terrible.

That same collection includes this piece from the Just Jasmine blog called “Self Care for People of Color After Psychological Trauma.”

The compendium was directed not only at straight, gay and lesbian people of color but also included everyone who has experienced trauma, like this basic primer called “Everything is Awful and I’m Not Okay: Questions to Ask Before Giving Up,” which can be downloaded and printed to keep as a reminder at the cubicle or refrigerator when the shit gets heavy.

Before we judge Lorde’s use of the term “warfare,” the type of war she talks about from “A Burst of Light” is survival as a life struggle and a political struggle. She was struggling with cancer at the time of its writing, and used her struggle with cancer as a metaphor for her community’s struggle with racism.

The cancer of systemic racism is what we see before us as African Americans struggle in an age necessitating a Black Lives Matter Movement. It is also a battle between our spirits and the powers that want to crush them and have been doing slowly over the decades and centuries. Lorde’s words inform this current battle for our individual souls, and the reclamation of our humanity. It’s a battle for a just and peaceful world.

I think with all this separation — tribalism, violence and distrust — we are experiencing a phase in our history where we’re Learning (with a capital ‘L’, as in a Big Lesson) how to re-establish our connection to each other, which starts first with our selves — not with cable news, pundits or opinions as fact on Twitter feeds. With ourselves.

When we re-connect with who and what we are, we aren’t thrown off balance by terror and panic. We don’t give in to hopelessness, fear, despair and loss of spirit. And we don’t march to the drumbeat of tyrants. When we re-connect with the humanity in ourselves we can see the humanity in others. Miracles, like compassion and faith, ensue.

So before re-engaging in political and social battles for economic and social justice, take heed from Just Jasmine’s blog, and listen to yourself this weekend. Refresh yourself. Turn off the television. Make a hunt for beauty. Get lost in a bookstore. Clean your room. The Sun’s in Cancer, dammit!! Cook something wonderful and share it with friends.

This is what Lorde was talking about. Take care of your self. Fight for your spiritual, emotional and physical health. That goes for people of color and all people. Re-establish connection with your body and your relationship to your community. Find beauty in yourself and in others. Look at others on the street and make eye contact to acknowledge you see them. They matter like you matter. We share this world with you.

Look Around…

“Look around…Look around…how lucky we are to be alive right now…” lyrics from the song “The Schuyler Sisters” from the Broadway musical “Hamilton”

Since there’s a New Moon in Cancer conjunct both Venus and Mercury, I am going to take a lovely break from our news turmoil and focus instead on culture. I am a “Hamilton” freak. Since I have yet to see it, (it’s too damn expensive to see it on Broadway), I bought the original cast soundtrack the minute it came out, and know most of its lyrics by heart. It is the soundtrack to my life.


Over a year ago, the moment I first read about Hamilton getting raves at its debut in New York’s Public Theater, I knew that this modern-day musical re-imagining of America’s Revolutionary founding fathers as people of color — written in the cadence and language of hip-hop — was headed straight to Broadway. I also knew it was going to be something profound. I wasn’t wrong. When were we ever going to see a Broadway musical about the creators of the Declaration of Independence and leaders of the American Revolution played by African Americans and Puerto Ricans?

On first glance Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and based on Ron Chernow’s biography of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, was an odd mix for me — a denizen of the Bay Area’s multicultural theater community. With the true story of Hamilton’s life — a bastard orphan from the Caribbean looking to rise above the station of his lowly birth in a new country — the casting of people of color in principal roles would not be new. It is what I’ve known in theater since I became an actor in the 1980s. It is what immigrants to America have known for generations.

Casting men of color as Jefferson, Adams, Monroe, Washington and Hamilton in this play opened the door to re-examine the mythology made of our past, bringing multi-ethnic casting to a new level of meaning, asking provocative ‘what ifs?’

“What if our nation’s independence relied on the cunning, intelligence and ambition of people of color? What if that was the real story of our independence instead of our imagined one? The play’s casting asks us to disembark from a 240-year-old history pounded into our heads. It asks us to use our imagination to dismiss the unassailable whiteness of the fathers of the country and see our history as no longer belonging to one ethnic group from its beginnings.

Hamilton re-interpreted our history by extrapolating it to include our multi-cultural present and future. Which is why, in the 21st century, this play about our 18th century revolution works. The similarities of rebels fomenting revolution in the streets of 18th century Boston, present day Oakland and New York are striking.

Even as its characters are costumed and bewigged in the fashions of that time, their words belong to our present day multi-ethnic America. The show’s hip-hop cadence is as global and modern a musical art form as jazz, another American art form born from struggle. The music is fresh, danceable, accessible.

But more than that, Hamilton asks us to remember and imagine our actual forefathers and revolutionaries as men and women on the exhilarating cusp of creating something new and vast: a new country. That a leap as large as revolution was something many had to believe they could die for in order to be successful. Some people of that time were in comfortable economic positions but most were not. Slavery was a primary engine of our economy and slaves and masters fought together in the revolution, though freedom from slavery had to wait a bloody century and more to come to pass.

With all our faults going in against King George, we had come to resent having no say over our personal and collective destiny — which is what colonization will do. And even with some present day theorizing that we were too early in leaving the crown, we lived in a place that offered us expanse and possibility, and an ability to be generous if we wanted to. But we needed to be the ones to create it and could not stand another day without finally making our stand to revolt in order to achieve it. We had to destroy old ties in order to create something new.

We’re not an easy country to live in and with. Our bloody history and current events definitely prove that. But we keep on struggling to create, to dream and to build — hopefully more positive things than walls. This is who and what we hope we are, based on the history that has happened and the history we continue to write with our very lives in this experiment called America. All of us.

I leave you here with a few lines from one of Hamilton‘s ballads, sung by Hamilton’s wife Eliza, pleading for him to stay alive and create his future:

“Look around…look around
I can’t begin to know
The challenges you’re facing
The worlds you keep erasing
And creating in your mind
But I am not afraid…”

Happy Holiday to all of us!

Attention anyone with a Cancer Sun, Cancer Moon or Cancer rising: Eric will be recording your birthday reading for the next 12 months -- nicknamed The Cancer Illumination Kit -- shortly. You can secure the lowest price we offer by pre-ordering now. Not familiar with Eric's audio or visual readings? You can listen to last year's reading here, as a gift.

Attention anyone with a Cancer Sun, Moon or rising: Eric has recorded the audio portions of your birthday reading for the next 12 months — nicknamed The Cancer Illumination Kit. You can access them by ordering now; the video will be released after July 4. Not familiar with Eric’s audio or video readings? You can listen to last year’s reading here, as a gift.

Thoughts and Feelings

“What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity,”  — former US President Jimmy Carter

All last week, I looked intently at local, national and specific international events. It’s been both exhilarating and painful to watch the world turn this month. Orlando. Occupy Congress. Brexit. The Supreme Court. But today, I want to share something that’s more from my armchair than from my soapbox. A broader picture.


Even while American women celebrate the Supreme Court overturning a Texas law that severely limited access to abortion, our fellow sisters — new immigrants and their daughters, who lost access to health services because of the Texas ruling — now face larger issues: their very existence in this country. The stalemate in a Scalia-less Supreme Court sent the Obama Administration’s immigrant amnesty program packing back to the lower court; that lower court ruled it unconstitutional, basically nullifying it.

The rise of demagoguery in our politics generates so much id-based reaction against the Other that we’re not quite sure if we’re in the present looking forward to the future, or looking to the past: the anti-immigrant sentiment that fueled the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s particular brand of anti-immigrant idiocy makes us squirm in embarrassment for both our countries.

People are angry, scared and trying to re-empower themselves. That goes for the white male demographic who feel the fade of their power and influence in every sector of society: witness their need for weapons to ensure we haven’t forgotten they’re still in the same room with us, armed and ready. It also goes for the female demographic rising up towards gender equity in pay, and fighting to preserve our reproductive freedom. It goes for every man, woman and child living in this country “illegally” until leadership figures out how to “manage” the browning of the country in this new century, as well as accommodate the gender fluidity of its citizens.

Feelings are things that cannot be managed, yet they are easily manipulated. Feelings are an ultimate indicator; they are what we use to make decisions affecting our everyday lives on a profound level. Like voting for president or for a referendum on your country’s economic independence.

Here, the problem is that as a Cancer Sun nation we are a feeling entity, and we tend to lose sight of thought. The economic state of the world and our immediate, virtual access to every moment of its existence make us want to distrust and question anything that does not accord with the beliefs we already hold. The information we do get is often not complete, or even true. How can we trust the information we receive?

Furthermore, many pollsters ask how you FEEL about one political situation or the next. Your emotions then inform the potential electorate which way the wind blows, regardless of facts. With the methodology of modern-day campaigning and use of the internet to explore ideas and exploit reactions, the calm coolness of thought usually does not make us rise up and move towards the voting booth. But passion does. Then our reactions become the facts.

The Twitter feeds that help organize massive rallies to Feel the Bern also fuel Mr. Trump’s supporters to throw invective at us “libtards,” and organize American neo-Nazis to rally. Supporters of both sides lurking out there feel the same way: sanctioned because they have allies, and fear-based “fact” behind them.

Yet it’s that same internet that brought us John Lewis and the 24-hour occupation of Congress by Congressional Democrats. It showed us — in the way the Arab Spring uprising did in Egypt’s Tahrir Square — that we, too, can prove “the whole world is watching,” and can make what was once an intractable Congress shift. Even if but a little.

Our country’s Aquarian Moon has great potential for revolutionary ideas and crystallizing them into being. But some of these great ideas have careened past their original intent. We see the results of that. We’re all struggling with the changing of our place in the globalized high-tech world, which has sped up the planet.

Our actions have also accelerated the karmic wheel. Immigrants fleeing the Gulf Wars and climate change are coming to the US; immigrants from economically depressed areas of Europe are seeking economic opportunity in the UK as a result of EU austerity. The result is the same: palpable tension.

Yes I know, it’s all big-picture stuff. But maybe the bigger picture is what we need at the moment. I want my country to trust our thinking Moon to inform our feeling Sun. I want us to be warm hearted and open minded, as we have always idealized ourselves to be. I want us to flush all thought of a small-fingered narcissist in the White House down the toilet where he belongs.

I want us to respond to the world, not react. A good response requires truth, and thought about that truth, with ideas that are clear, well-informed and broad-minded, coming from informed hearts that are compassionate, open and visionary. How much more can we evolve from the challenge of today’s turmoil? How else can we try?

Our thoughts and feelings are ours to own. But the lens through which we view the world, which informs thought and emotion, must be able to encompass the wideness and depth of the world — as well as focus like a laser on its most poignant, individual moments and their meaning. We have the capability to do it. We have to look to make sure we model the best of our thoughts and feelings for others to follow, like John Lewis did. Now more than ever by our hearts and minds we are connected — all of us — to each other.

Attention anyone with a Cancer Sun, Cancer Moon or Cancer rising: Eric will be recording your birthday reading for the next 12 months -- nicknamed The Cancer Illumination Kit -- shortly. You can secure the lowest price we offer by pre-ordering now. Not familiar with Eric's audio or visual readings? You can listen to last year's reading here, as a gift.

Attention anyone with a Cancer Sun, Moon or rising: Eric has recorded the audio portions of your birthday reading for the next 12 months — nicknamed The Cancer Illumination Kit. You can access them by ordering now; the video will be released after July 4. Not familiar with Eric’s audio or video readings? You can listen to last year’s reading here, as a gift.

Brexit Plan

It’s not every day you get to see one country spark a geopolitical domino-fall, affecting the lives of millions on an entire continent with a single referendum. Yet it happened. Overnight, the “Brexit” vote in the UK did just that. This same vote will lead to other votes that most likely will literally break the United Kingdom apart, with the possibility of more instability to come.


Watching my UK friends and members of Planet Waves’ community go through the shock of yesterday’s EU Referendum, I am reminded of the night that Ronald Reagan was elected. I was in my late 20s, outraged, drunk, shouting in the streets and generally furious.

How could we elect a right-wing savior on the heels of a tax revolt? How could we do that after a successful anti-war movement and the Nixon impeachment? Yet it happened. And we’re still climbing our way out of not only that, but a political movement that’s taking a long time to die. We’re trying to clean up the mess that movement created throughout our government, our culture and the world map over the last thirty years.

To our UK kin: We feel you here in the US. We felt what you feel now after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. It’s a deep kind of grief, only it’s not just personal. It’s mourning for your community, your country and its place in the world, and the frustrating change you’re going to be watching in the future.

The Brexit vote looks a lot like someone shooting themselves in the foot. This time, the shooter is a whole country. London, a global financial center in large part because of the UK’s major player status in the EU, voted overwhelmingly for Remain; but it was “Little England” — outside of London — that shouted its approval to discontinue with the EU, voting ‘Leave’ by 52%.

London as a global financial hub now looks at a future that’s clouded. Scotland will move towards a referendum on Independence (which narrowly lost two years ago) with plans to stay with the EU as its own nation; Northern Ireland aspires to join the rest of Ireland and remain in the EU as well.

Eighty percent of the electorate who supported “Leave” cited the increased wave of immigrants into the UK. The nativism of the “Leave” campaign, led by UK Independence Party (UKIP) Leader Nigel Farage, found a perfect climate in England and a perfect scapegoat in immigrants to gin up fear for (white) British-only economic security in the context of the EU’s sluggish austerity.

This nativism is downplayed in today’s victory lap by Farage and former London Mayor Boris Johnson. But it may be ridden all the way through to an inevitable period of instability of the European region. Things could get very wild — as in, a fascist’s wet dream. France’s Marine le Pen and America’s Donald Trump are drooling.

Austerity, as with any time of economic struggle, is a perfect breeding ground for right-wing movements to flower based on “frustration aggression” — acting out against a scapegoat, whom you blame for your lack of opportunity and compete against for diminishing resources. In the case of an overwhelmingly white UK, Muslim and Eastern European immigrants get the scapegoat role.

The same goes for Mexicans and Muslims here in America, courtesy of Mr. Trump. Trump is using shrinking middle-class discontent and the threat of diminishing white male power in the social and cultural evolution of the Obama Administration to gin up support. This is what got him the nomination for the Republican Party.

What happened in the UK was that Cameron was forcing too much austerity on the UK’s middle class, and did not allow room for his country to regain some vital public services — like its National Health System. The people of the UK have spoken their preference and the majority voted to leave.

As I mentioned, this will likely lead to another vote on Scotland’s Independence and a move by Northern Ireland to join Ireland in full. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland want to remain in the EU. But even the Brexit is not official, yet. Its exit must be approved by mind-boggling bureaucratic processes, and then approved and ratified by EU member countries.

I won’t belabor the point any further over what choices have to happen next, now that this referendum has happened. There’s time for that. I can only feel solidarity with our friends across the Atlantic — and a chill, warning us of what may happen here in November and in Europe in the future. At this point it could be anything; though as Len Wallick suggests in his column below, letting ourselves be ruled by fear is not the same as acting with awareness, and cuts us off from evolution — however messy it may be.

Instead of belaboring points, I raise a pint. Holding you close, friends and cousins. Let’s hold each other through the changes!

Attention anyone with a Cancer Sun, Cancer Moon or Cancer rising: Eric will be recording your birthday reading for the next 12 months -- nicknamed The Cancer Illumination Kit -- shortly. You can secure the lowest price we offer by pre-ordering now. Not familiar with Eric's audio or visual readings? You can listen to last year's reading here, as a gift.

Attention anyone with a Cancer Sun, Moon or rising: Eric will be recording your birthday reading for the next 12 months — nicknamed The Cancer Illumination Kit — shortly. You can secure our lowest price by pre-ordering now. Not familiar with Eric’s audio or visual readings? You can listen to last year’s reading here, as a gift.

Appropriate Fury

Congressional representatives staging a sit-in in Congress is more than unprecedented. It’s unheard of. Yet today, Congressman John Lewis led a contingent of House Democrats to stage a groundbreaking sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives. Their purpose: to demand Congress to act on gun control legislation in light of the Orlando shootings.

This sit-in was led by John Lewis — an American Civil Rights Movement hero — who was nearly beaten to death by police while demonstrating with Martin Luther King. His taking this lead makes this event symbolic as well as historic. Calling his colleagues onto the floor of the House chamber to lead this charge, Lewis came full circle in time, facing a familiar enemy. As a well-known Civil Rights leader he is more than well-acquainted with white men with guns and dogs.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution — the right to bear arms — was ratified in the late 1780s to allow Southern states to quell slave rebellions, which were many at that time. The relationship between Americans and their guns today is based on a single premise: to allow white America to protect themselves and their property from the terror of dark people rebelling against their authority. So embedded is this fear, sanctioned by law, that it has become a mitochondrial aspect of our social and economic infrastructure. And that fear has evolved to include many more targets.

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