Yesterday morning I happened upon a YouTube video of one of my favorite personalities, Milla Jovovich, in which she stormed off the set of the French television interview program Tout Le Monde En Parle ( Everybody's Talking ) from 2002, in defense of her father Bogich, who was incarcerated in 1994 ( released in 1999 ). Trying to appear empowered, intelligent and emotionally solid while being inexplicably grilled by a panel of other celebrities regarding her fame and personal life ( having left the Soviet Union for political reasons in 1980 ), she later described the show's host ( Thierry Ardisson ) as rude and flippant. I watched at first with surprise and then envy as she knocked a glass of water off the desk, tore the mic from her body and stormed off the stage, staring daggers at Ardisson before stomping up the staircase off-set. Just before her breakdown, she looked down upon the desk, and there was a moment where I glimpsed a deep sadness in her face. It resonated with an image I had seen just the night before. As the cameras panned away to the stunned audience and guilty-looking panel, the theme song to the X-Files began to play, which I had earlier set as my text tone, knowing this tiny bit of synchronicity was nudging me to pay closer attention.
The evening prior, friends had just shown me a television interview from 1963 ( Chicago's "City Desk" ), in which Malcom X was summarily grilled by a panel of journalists while attempting to bring to public awareness to the fact that "negro" was indeed a racial slur, and the resulting tension was nearly palpable. In his interview, Malcom X explains that;
"My father didn't know his last name. My father got his last name from his grandfather and his grandfather got it from his grandfather who got it from the slavemaster. The real names of our people were destroyed during slavery. The last name of my forefathers was taken from them when they were brought to America and made slaves, and then the name of the slavemaster was given, which we refuse, we reject that name today and refuse it. I never acknowledge it whatsoever."
There was also a moment, moments actually, where Malcom X, trying to appear empowered, intelligent and emotionally solid, would look down upon the desk with a deep sadness. I could tell he was holding many things back, including anger for the ignorance, intolerance and hate cast upon him and his entire race. It was obvious he had mastery of control, not wanting to appear savage or violent before the cameras and the American viewing public, many of whom considered him a lesser being. People would like to think that racism is a thing of the past, but our current president has dredged up some very deep feelings in regards to this and a general intolerance, bigotry, hatred and racism has once again swept the country, and not just toward African Americans, either, as evidenced by the actions of a number of people last week.
With the circus of last week's Chick-Fil-A fiasco, I knew exactly how Malcom X felt, a lesser human being, and yet I have dealt with this issue ever since my sexual orientation was discovered in high school. I didn't fight it, I didn't hide it. In my senior year I had been bestowed an Indian name by my grandfather, who, along with my father and uncles, had their Sioux language beat out of them in the Catholic schools they were forced to attend in their youths, also forced to adopt English names. The eagle feather I received during the traditional name-giving ceremony had been through war, passed down to me from generation to generation of warrior males and as such I was expected to uphold the bravery, courage and determination that such an honor required.
Last week, Chick-Fil-A held a "Customer Appreciation Day" for those in support of their views against same-sex marriage, which the chain's president and COO Dan Cathy made public on July 16th. I was obviously shocked and saddened when I logged on to Facebook last Wednesday to see my page flooded with comments from friends and their aquaintences who supported such a move and planned to attend what seemed to me a celebration of intolerance, ignornace and hate. Many claimed their actions had to do with the First Amendment, but I felt the issue lied far deeper. Immediately on the defensive, I posted my own rant, which caught the attention of an evangelical stranger from Texas who proceeded to place post after post on my personal page. He was summarily blocked, and I considered blocking others who shared his views, but I knew this was not the solution. You aren't able to simply "delete" others in the real world, and those that do, like the shooter responsible for the July 20th Dark Knight Rises tragedy, do so with deadly consequences. I have no enemies, but I have many who have caused me intense harm and pain, and yet I know they were placed on my path for a reason: to make me stronger, to keep me on my toes, to teach me as much about living and myself as any "soulmate" could.
Still, I thought a lot about my association with others on Facebook, utterly shaken that one of my former best friends from high school continued posting in support of Chick-Fil-A. I asked if the church which had recently turned away an African American couple who wanted to wed there would be having an "Appreciation Day" as well, then claim it was all about the First Amendment. It was this old high school buddy of mine who used to make sexual advances toward me in private, as he had done to other male friends of mine, which I found out when I attended my 20th high school reunion last year. According to his own Facebook page he was happily married with children, yet many of his postings had to do with calendar girls and other female beach hotties. Perhaps he, like many chowing down on last Thursday's chicken, did so as a result of fighting his own natural homosexual impulses.
I looked down at my computer desk with sadness, hands trembling as I decided to remove my rant. Most people don't log onto Facebook to be offended or depressed, they want to check in on the activities of their friends, loved ones and favorite pages. I felt I had embarrassed myself, despite voicing my own personal truth, just as others had been doing all day. I examined some of these relationships more closely, wondering how those involved could consider me a friend and yet come out in blazing support of a person and restaurant chain that would deny my basic rights as a human being and an American citizen. I ultimately decided to "unfriend" a couple people, knowing full well that I could simply "unsubscribe" from them so I would no longer see their posts, though I simply couldn't condone their actions as much as their bible supposedly couldn't condone mine.
In less than a month I dealt with an evacuation of my home from the Waldo Canyon Wildfire, then the shooting at the Dark Knight Rises premier occurred which James and I were very attached to, being huge Batman fans and having obtained tickets to the premier as well. Both weekends I had a perpetual lump in my throat, witnessing the heroism I desperatley needed to be reminded of in humanity and the grief for such loss. It began to set a sort of friction in motion, one that began burning with the wildfire, not knowing if we'd have a home to come back to, having just moved to Manitou Springs with all of our worldly possessions. There was obviously great fire in my mind, a lava flowing in my veins and outside the unrelenting summer heat. I thought of Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess who had synchronistically appeared before me many times. There was also a friction that had developed between me and one of my best friends, and after a misunderstanding regarding a remark she made regarding the Aurora shooting I finally blew my top, verbally, savagely defending the nerve endings I felt were completely exposed. Eventually we made peace, Pele standing near me as I meditated on my acknowledgement of the fact that all fire burns, bridges and all, and that all things come to a head and must be dealt with before an inevitable eruption. Pele wasn't forgiving me, but encouraging me. She was forged from fire, and it was her purpose to bring it to others, to help release the lava that had been under pressure for far too long. Some things had been a long time coming, and throughout the emotional rollercoaster of July I had withheld tears one too many times, trying my best to appear empowered, intelligent and emotionally solid...
Yesterday James and I visited the old Cave Of The Winds exit, which had been closed off due to the Waldo Canyon Fire. We didn't enter, I just needed to stand before it, thinking of its entrance to the Underworld the Ute Indians said lied deep within the caverns. I needed to remind the spirits that I was still there and still just as fascinated. Near my feet I noticed an odd rock that fit perfectly within my palm, it even felt grooved like Ted Pikul's "Pink Phone" from the 1999 film eXistenZ ( one of my favorites ). I had just picked up a couple more local ghost story books off of Amazon to do some location scouting for SpiritChasers 6 and was really looking forward to our next adventure. I held the little stone in my hand as we accomplished the errands we needed to in and around Manitou. I then returned home to find that the SyFy channel's Paranormal Witness had posted a spirit collage I had made from our adventure at Cave Of The Winds both on Facebook and their official website. I was at first elated at the recognition, then immediately on the defensive again as I began to read the Facebook comments under my photo from the trollers.
"FAKE!" "DUST!" "SMOKE!"
Again, deciding to defend myself and our work, I informed the gnarled little masses that there was no smoking in the public cave. Still, they persisted.
"WATER VAPOR!" "REFLECTIONS!" "TOTALLY FAKE!" ( And these were the "kindest" of them ).
Did I not just blog about the Hater Generation, kids? And why do they immediately assume it's their duty to debunk any claims of the paranormal anyway, like that's going to get them somewhere? So they can cleanse the field for "real" investigators ( as if the "real" ones get that much respect either )? Why not go debunk politicians or others in positions of power, people who really matter? Seems like that would be a much better use of time. No one is going to take any phenomenon seriously that refuses to meet them more than halfway. Unless a UFO were able to land on the White House lawn, or the Curiosity Rover comes upon an alien structure, or the veil between worlds collapses and we all have the departed speaking directly through our television sets, nothing is going to convince the skeptics that our images are any more than fog, breath, smoke, dust and light reflection. I don't care now that I've had time to ponder these truths, but when reading those comments I felt in exactly the same emotional state I was in when defending myself regarding the Chick-Fil-A onslaught. How could people who had no idea who I am and what I do leave such negative remarks? Then I thought of Ryan Buell from Paranormal State, now struggling with cancer, of Grant Wilson who recently left Ghost Hunters, and clans of other paranormal researchers who have had to deal with haters and ridicule throughout their entire professional careers. I eventually decided that I should be flattered, like the receiving of rejection letters before the eventual publication of a book. Though I felt a sadness for those so compelled to leave such slanderous remarks, as it meant that the miraculous attempting to manifest in their own lives would summarily be labeled as no more than DUST, SMOKE and SWAMP GAS. Such an opportunity to expand one's perception, one's vision, and yet I suppose it all boils down to their fear of mortality, of the afterlife, of the great changes that would occur in embracing a higher concept.
Just late yesterday, New Zealand's Mount Tongariro volcano erupted for the first time in nearly a century, covering North Island in a giant ash cloud. I looked up the Maori beliefs regarding thier gods and volcanoes as a smirk began to lift out of the corner of my mouth. I thought of Milla Jovovich erupting on French television, smashing the glass of water away from her as she symbolically decided to retain her fire, ripping her mic, her means of communication with the ignorant panel, from her body and storming up the stairs, to a higher plane. I replayed the video several times, feeling Pele nodding in approval beside me. In most of Milla's films she has encompassed the archetype of the warrior, a spiritual contract of hers which drew me toward her in the first place. I am blessed to have come from a race of them. Proud, fierce, focused. As stoic and quiet as Malcom X as he sat with his deep thoughts, emotions and anger at the injustice running new rivulets of lava through his veins, through his spirit. I can't and won't always be as reserved as he had to be, for his people, for their rights. My mother was prone to emotional outbursts and through them she taught me the value of emotion, how fire can be used to forge steel for defense or attack. I think for awhile I have permission to stare daggers at certain oppressors, to retain my fire, to erupt with tremendous force, to bring my storm to any podium that would look upon me as a lesser being. I feel Tongariro coursing through me, puppeteering pyroclastic hands ready to shatter glass, an atomic orange crush creating full solar eclipses about my apocalyptic pupils, focused lava radiating love and sympathy for a heart that's always burning. Internal tectonic vibrations shuddering patterns, brand new tattoos of action onto my skin. Rivers of magma flowing into a sea of consciousness, creating new lands for me to claim. All which no longer serves me has molted away and left my steel devoid of impurity, my soil rich and fertile, my language combustive, my arms bearing the gift of fire.
- Christopher Allen Brewer, August 2012
The following YouTube video links may be copied and pasted into your browser:
Milla Jovovich on Tout Le Monde En Parle ( Short Version ):
Milla Jovovich on Tout Le Monde En Parle ( Long Version - Better Quality ):
Malcom X on "City Desk":