Tonight in San Diego

Check out this interview and performance Rob Deez and I did for “Tonight in San Diego”! (We go on around 15:30)

What I Have Been Up To Lately

Sorry for the lack of postings lately… I know I’m way overdue. Anyways, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to lately, if you are interested.

I went on a vacation/pilgrimage of sorts to Montana in August of 2012 with my cousin Andrew to get out of California and clear my head a little bit. While I was there, I experienced a peace I only really get when I cut myself off from the rest of the world. It was exhilarating and I had an epiphany floating down the Yellowstone River during a fly fishing trip. It may sound obvious, but I decided to start living for myself and getting better. Not better in the physical sense, although that was a huge part of it. It was more of a desire to shape myself into the person I’ve always wanted to be. So I decided to go back to school to get my master’s degree. Right now, I’m in my second semester at SDSU where I’m going for an MA in Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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Around that time, Rob Deez and I started playing different kinds of shows around San Diego as an acoustic duo. While we were used to (and pretty good at) playing 30-45 minute sets of original music, these were marathon shows of 3-4 hours of cover songs and the occasional original every once in a while. That’s been going on for about two years now, and I have to say it is about as gratifying for me to play those shows, now that we aren’t as intimidated by the amount of time we’d be singing/playing. I wish I could give you all a link to the list of shows to where we’re playing around town, but we have yet to decide on a name for our “act”. We’ve tried “Englebert Humperdeez”, “Almost Done”, “The Three Amigos”, “DJ No DJ”, etc. For now, I think we’re just going to be “Rob and Kenny”. The best way to keep up to date with those shows is to find Rob and I on Facebook. You can also follow my good friend Joe Cardillo, who I play with doing the same kind of thing as well!

The major drawback is that we spend a lot of time playing those shows so it doesn’t really afford me the time to write original material. I definitely don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’ve given up on songwriting or playing strictly “originals” shows. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I’m using my education to further my writing abilities by stretching myself in different directions to see if anything can circle back and apply to my songwriting. It’s part of my holistic approach to music. Here’s a poem I wrote for a class about Emigrant, Montana that might give you a sense of where my lyrics are headed (or not).

Emigrant, Montana

I have lived my entire life encased by concrete.
Where fools build cold mausoleums
upon feeble promises of power
and fluorescent lights drain the souls
of paupers sitting in their chairs below.
Where we quarrel like children, clambering
for a worthless sense of victory before it’s too late.

Spend a week in Big Sky Country,
where majestic thrones sit
adorned by the mightiest of evergreens.
Golden rays warm the earth between them,
and the petals of royal purple princes
sway in the breeze at their feet.
Each day, the Earth challenges Heaven’s beauty
and loses with grace and humility.

Surrounded by mountains that sawed at the sky,
and endless green carpets speckled with tiny jewels,
I was humbled in an instant.
My old life ended in that place. So, I travelled
along a lonely road and
passed quietly into Paradise Valley.

An old wooden gate opened to let me
wade slowly into the gentle Yellowstone,
and let the river run through me.
A young trout broke the glimmering surface and
a light danced across its multi-hued skin.
Blinded for a moment, drops of
water gently washed over my eyes and
restored my sight.

Returning to the gate, I climbed a nearby buffalo jump.
As I heaved myself over the stone wall,
a sunset embraced me, lending me it’s energy
for my journey back to the world.

********

Anyways, that’s the majority of it. Again, so sorry for not writing sooner and hopefully, these blogs will become more frequent (if I can spare a few minutes here or there). But until then, as always, I hope to see you soon!

Short Hair, Don’t Care

After about three months of building up the courage to do it, I chopped off my long hair. Well, technically I didn’t do it- my good friend Katie Reinhardt did. And I have to admit… I love it! I know it sounds silly, but I kind of feel like a new person.

Like so many dramatic changes in one’s life, this one had special significance. My hair was an integral part of my image (I actually have to get all new pictures taken now) and in a lot of ways, I felt it defined me as a person. It symbolized a lot of personal history and growth, and to let it go was equal parts exciting and bittersweet. Chalk it up to being a sensitive singer/songwriter.

Beyond that, one of the big reasons that I grew my hair out to begin with was my sister. When she was sick and started her chemo therapy, I thought it would be a sign of love and solidarity if I shaved off all of my hair until her hair started growing back. But instead, she told me to grow it out in case she needed to “borrow” any of it. She was joking, of course. But I did it anyway. That was nine years ago. So on Monday, I asked for her permission to cut my hair off and she gave it. And in case you were wondering, she doesn’t need my hair any more.

If you’re interested here’s the aftermath of Wednesday night. I’m playing some songs at the Wine Lover on Sunday night at 7pm if you want to see the new hair cut in person. Hope to see you soon!

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Two Ways of Looking at Music

I’ve always been a fan of music and have been endlessly fascinated by the mechanics of it. But what really strikes me about it is how much people can be moved- how people’s lives can be changed by hearing the first few seconds of a song like mine was the first time I heard John Mayer’s “No Such Thing”. I set off on a now-10 year journey to explore music, and in that process, learn about myself. I learned how to play the guitar, I began writing songs and music regularly, and even went to school to formally study music. And it has been a wonderful experience so far.

But somewhere along that journey, I began to lose sight of the initial childlike wonder of hearing music and letting it affect me. It became more about identifying chord changes, scales, rhyme schemes, and finding out what other songs employed the same structures. I was stripping down songs and music to it’s components habitually for no other reason than because I could. Music had lost some of it’s mystical power and it took years to even recognize it. It was only recently that I realized I was more of the mindset of analyzing music than enjoying it. That’s when I knew something had gone terribly awry.

I came across an excerpt from Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi” and it resonated deeply with me. It recounts Samuel Clemens’ experience as a steamboat captain on the Mississippi River and how he became trained in the art of reading the river but had lost the ability to be moved by it. The big question he asks at the end of the piece is have I gained something from my journey or have I lost something even more valuable? I think there is no correct answer and that the two are not mutually exclusive. Personally, it’s as complex as I want it to be, and that is to say very complex. However, I’m happy to say now that I’m consciously trying to find the balance between the two extremes and, thankfully, I am much more happy and content for it.

If you related to any of this, I highly recommend reading “Two Ways of Looking at the River“.

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Revisiting the Past, Looking Forward

It’s funny how life looks in retrospect. You never really know what’s happening in the moment and the more you try to control it, the less fun it becomes and in a lot of ways, that was my reality. This past year has been a weird and wild time for me, musically. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t been focusing on developing my own music and have been concentrating on doing different types of shows to broaden my skill set as a musician. Summer is always a funny time, too. A slew of shows that normally aren’t around show up and puts me in a different mindset. For example, the San Diego Fair is here again and I will be playing my first band show since the last fair on June 30 at 3:30pm on the Paddock Stage! It got me listening to some of our band recordings from Lestat’s earlier today and thought I’d share one since I don’t think many band recordings of my music exist on the internet.

Just reliving that time got me all misty-eyed and made me wish I could make music forever and ever with my band. So I started wondering why that wasn’t the case. When I first started playing music, that was the ultimate goal: to play music for people who wanted to hear it. Thankfully, that hasn’t changed. However, life around me has changed and in aspiring towards my musical and personal goals, I’ve had to adapt to life as much as I can.

I know I’m rambling, but what it really comes down to is that I’m still here to make music and will continue to do that however I can, be it with a band, with an acoustic guitar, or whatever. As always, thank you for being you and supporting me as you do. I will see you soon!

Belly Up Tavern Show

Just wanted to throw out a quick announcement that I’m performing at the Belly Up Tavern on January 29 as a part of an awesome acoustic line-up! Rhyme-slinger Rob Deez will be joining me on stage. The night will also feature performances by Rob BondurantTolan Shaw and Yovee!

I’ve performed on the Belly Up stage many times but this will actually be the first time I get to play my own music, which has been goal of mine since I starting exploring the San Diego music scene. I really hope you can make it out to this show! Purchase tickets here.

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A Song A Week

I’ve been calling myself a singer/songwriter for a while now. And as ambiguous and contentious as that label is for many of artists in the music community, it does make one thing undeniably clear- I consider myself to be a person that writes songs and sings. The only problem is that I have a hard time calling myself a songwriter when my output of songs over my (albeit short) career has been dismally small. Sure, I have pages filled with lyrics and chord progressions and I am constantly writing. But to actually finish a song with music, melodies, structure, etc. (or even a sketch of a song) is much more difficult for me, for whatever reason. In the past four years, I’ve compiled an embarrassingly meager repertoire of original music for someone who calls himself a songwriter.

That’s why when my good friend and fellow singer/songwriter Rob Deez posed a song a week songwriting challenge, I whole-heartedly accepted. The terms were simple- write one song a week and post it on your SoundCloud account. We come up with a word and topic for each week and give ourselves a week and a day to produce something. If you fail to produce something, you owe the other person a six-pack of beer. And so we began our songwriting exercise with our good friend Broni joining in at the start and a few other friends like Isaac Cheong and Jon Huse a few weeks later.

Again, this is just a musical exercise. I’m using it as a motivator to complete a song and as a way to focus my inspiration and creativity at will, instead of being totally at the mercy of its spontaneous nature.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the songs I’ve written as a result of this challenge, check out my SoundCloud page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, I’m not going to post every song I write. I generally know when I have something good enough to share or not. Hopefully, one of the results of this exercise is that I’ll get better at writing songs that I consider “good enough” more quickly and thus, will be able to share more of them! It may take a while, but everything worth recognizing does!

Here’s to becoming a songwriter!

Songs by Local Artists I Want to Cover

I played a show at the legendary Java Joe’s in Ocean Beach the other night and was overwhelmed by the amazing talent of the San Diego music scene. There are so many fantastic singer/songwriters here and it’s a shame that more people aren’t exposed to their music. I think Jeffrey Joe said it best when he said, “On a night like tonight, when there are so many wonderful artists performing at the highest levels, it’s amazing that more people don’t know we are here. I just don’t get it.” There are so many songs floating around San Diego that I love and am incredibly jealous of. Songs that I wish I had written so I could sing them every night. It’d take me days to list then all but a few have been standing out to me lately.

So that being said, here are some songs I selfishly want to cover by other San Diego music scene artists.

Haunted- Isaac Cheong
Big Red Lips- Jeffrey Joe
Don’t Mind Me- Aaron Bowen
I’m Gonna Miss Ya Man- Broni
Hey Anna- Carlos Olmeda
This Time Next Year- Dawn Mitschele 
The Big Screen- Derrick Oshana

 

If you feel like checking back, I’ll hopefully update this list periodically.

I hope you go see a show by any of these artists sometime soon. I promise it will be worth it.

The Adult Books TwOUR

I’m heading out on the road again! This time, Rob Deez, Broni from Australia, and Isaac Cheong (with special guest Mikael G.K.) will be making our collective ways from San Diego to Denver, CO. You can follow our adventures on twitter: @kennyeng or @adultbookstour

Adult Books TwOUR9/12 _ 10:00pm Room 5
143 North La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 938-2504

9/13 _ 6:30pm
SLO Down Pub
1200 East Grand Ave.
Arroyo Grande, CA

9/14 _ 8:00pm
House Concert
Las Vegas, NV
Email info@kennyeng.com for address

9/15 _ 7:00pm
Zion River Resort551 Utah 9
Virgin, UT
(435) 635-8594

9/18 _ 8:00pm
House Concert
Denver, CO
Email info@kennyeng.com for address

9/19
8:00pm
House Concert
Boulder. CO
Email info@kennyeng.com for address

9/21 _ 8:00pm
Sucrée Tea
838 Tri City Center
Redlands, CA
$20

9/22 _ 8:00pm
Java Joe’s
4976 Newport Ave.
San Diego, CA
$5

For more information, visit kennyeng.com/shows. See you out on the road!

Affirmations

I always felt like those ruminations and affirmations of self that people post on Facebook and Twitter in silly fonts and with inspirational backgrounds were just that- cheesy. But lately, I’ve taken to many of them simply because I found myself in a place that was darker and more cynical than I wanted and because I needed frequent reminders that I did not want to be cynical or jaded any more.

So here are some of my favorites, including the blog post that really started this whole excursion. I don’t necessarily subscribe to everything they say let alone practice all of these things. But I’d rather spend my time thinking about them than let myself get caught up in any lingering negativity of my past. I guess I consider them other people’s life lessons that I can learn from if I take them close enough to heart.

 

(Don’t) Know Thy Self

When I first started playing music, I knew right from the start that I would learn so much about myself through exploration, song-writing, performing, and so many other areas that come from being a musician. In the four and a half years that I’ve been performing my own music, I’ve come to understand so much about my personality, my likes and dislikes, and what I’m capable of.

But I’m still not done learning about myself. I’m in my late-twenties and I still can’t easily describe myself when someone asks me to tell them about myself. Aside from the obvious argument that it’s never easy to describe oneself, the point is that I’m still learning things about myself and how I interact with people (and the world, at large).

Recently, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator where one of the exercises is to self-assess based on a list of personality traits and then compare that to an assessment tool which forces the subject to chose between a pair of (apparently) equal choices. For example, “do you trust your feelings or your reason?” Eventually, the tool spits out a bunch of letters that indicate your “type” (with the caveat that the tool isn’t necessarily “right”, but rather an alternative assessment). When I assessed myself, I thought I was an ISTJ but the assessment tool found that I was an INFJ, or Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), Judging (J). If you want more information on what the hell that means, go here.

To paraphrase, these are the findings of the tool, I am:

Idealistic

Sensitive to the needs of others

Highly creative and artistic

Reserved

Focused on the future

Private

Values close, deep relationships

Enjoys thinking about the meaning of life

 

Similarly, I took the StrengthsFinder assessment which does essentially the same thing as the Myers-Briggs but instead of spitting out letters, it spits out these adjectives.

Input- People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

Intellection- People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

Ideation- People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

Learner- People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

Achiever- People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

Now, I don’t believe that everything the tools tell me are truth, let alone will remain constant. They don’t make that assertion either. In fact, some people might argue that these assessment tools are akin to astrology (if astrology were a bit more scientific a study). But what both tools do is provide an insight into what a person’s inclinations and proclivities are based on a measurable system. It gives a new perspective and lens to view yourself and learn about life. I learned that I may be inclined to be a “big picture” person and very sensitive to how people perceive what I do and say. It gives me a new way to see how I interact with other people who may not be like me at all. And really, that’s invaluable information even if it’s not true.

So the challenge is this: get a new perspective on yourself from someone/something else as often as you can. You don’t have to believe everything they say about you, but take it in and don’t argue. But at the very least, consider it and how that may influence how you interact with yourself, the people around you, and the rest of the world. You might just learn something.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

I’d like to dedicate a song to someone who I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with in the last few months. A friend with benefits, if you will. This friend helped me through some hard times and made trips to crowded places so much easier. I knew it wouldn’t last, but I’ve enjoyed all the time this friend saved me by being able to park closer than I would have without their help.

I almost considered working the system so we could spend more time together, but I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. So, my friend, goodbye. It’s been wonderful. And though you’ll hang on my refrigerator door from now on, you’ll always been the only temporary parking placard for me.

I don’t know where this road
Is going to lead
All I know is where we’ve been
And what we’ve been through.

If we get to see tomorrow
I hope it’s worth all the wait
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And I’ll take with me the memories
To be my sunshine after the rain
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

Art vs. Science

A few days ago, my childhood friend Daniel said that he never would have guessed I would be “right brained”. I knew he was talking about my newfound interest in photography but it was such a strange idea to me that people would either be artistically inclined or primarily logical. I had never given it much thought before but the other night, a woman asked me what my astrological sign was and being born on June 3, I responded, “a Gemini”. She commented that it made perfect sense that I would have dual personalities or minds or whatever.

Now, I’m not saying that I believe in astrology but to be approached with the same question of whether people are reasoners or creators is interesting to me. And the more I thought about it, the more I came to understand that the two are actually the same thing. One man’s logic is another’s art and vise versa. Take Neil DeGrasse Tyson as an example- he’s a modern genius in the hard science community. Some would argue that he’s “left brained” through and through. But to hear him talk about space and humanity as it relates to science is like listening to music. I have no doubt that the work he does, he considers artful and beautiful even though it’s more math than music.

So what it comes down to for me is beauty and passion. And everyone possesses each. It’s just a matter of what we think is beautiful. The great thing is that perspective dictates those opinions. To be able to shift your perspective and see something as beautiful and passionate, even if it isn’t culturally defines as art is a wonderful way to live life.

That brings me back to my new hobby. I recently picked up my first DSLR camera and learned how to use it well enough to start capturing some of the beauty I get to experience everyday. I’m posting some of my favorite shots on my personal Facebook page and as I learn more about the art form, it becomes more interesting and challenging.

So, if you see me wandering around clicking away at a show or on the street, don’t mind me. I’m just exploring another way to communicate with people and this happens fit the bill beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah, if you’re in San Diego next Friday, it’d be great to see you at my “homecoming show” at Lestat’s. Gonna play some of those new songs I talked about.

Welcome Back (Almost)

What a strange ride the last six months have been.

I didn’t think I’d come away from everything that has happened with anything other than a few scars and some new hardware in my hips, but I have to admit that I have been learning and experiencing new things non-stop since late-November.

I’ve been back in San Diego for about a month and a half and haven’t really performed any shows since. The reason being that I am still having minor breathing issues related to my collapsed lung on top of wanting to rehab my voice (it’s amazing how quickly you can deteriorate in two months). Not to worry though because I have been keeping busy, musically. I’ve been writing non-stop about life and I’m excited to say that I have a bunch of new songs that I’m incredibly proud of and I can’t wait to share them with you. Here are some of the working titles for the new songs and a peak at the lyrics:

  • Lost in the Dark (Faith in Me)
  • We’ll Be Ok
  • The Only Ones
  • Hurts Like a Heart

I’m really falling in love with the song writing process again and now that I have overcome some mental blocks about my writing, I hope that I’ll have more (and better) new songs that start to pop up in sets throughout the next few months. Once I get another six or seven out, I’m going to start gearing back up for the new album (due out: TBD).

Also, don’t forget to check back in a few weeks for the official “welcome home” show date. I’m still in the process of working that one out but I hope to finalize it in the next week.

So, as always, hope to see you soon!

Kenny

I Took A Tumble

Hey everyone,

Just thought it was about time to give you all an update about my health. I have been in the hospital since the Friday after Thanksgiving in Oakland, CA after a pretty nasty fall down a steep, rocky hill. I was rushed by ambulance to Marin County General’s ER and ICU and moved over to Kaiser Hospital in Oakland to have major surgery done to my left hip.

The injury count at this point is:

  • Fractured left scapula
  • Fractured C6 vertebra
  • Two fractured ribs
  • Broken hip socket
  • Fractured pelvis
  • Collapsed lung
  • Damaged kidney and liver
  • And all the other lovely little things I picked up in the hospital… I.e. Staph infection and pneumonia

I won’t be able to walk without assistance for about 2 months but all things considered, it could have been much, much worse.

As bad as that all sounds, I’ve really come to appreciate my family and friends that have been visiting me, taking care of me, offering words of encouragement, etc.

I was initially roommates with a man who was very rude to the staff and extremely negative, in general. This guy had no one to take care of him or even visit. His own father barely stopped by during the week we were roommates. He would curse and complain about his situation but failed to see that he was a direct product of all of his own negativity. I guess what I’m trying to say is to treat the people around you with as much love and kindness as possible. Let them know how you feel about them and hopefully it will all come back around in a time of need.

So thanks everyone who has reached out to wish me well! I will be back to my goofy, dancing self as soon as possible!

K

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Occupy UC Davis

So this happened at my alma mater last Friday and the school my sister is currently attending:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BjnR7xET7Uo

And then, these started showing up:

Reblogged from: http://bicyclebarricade.wordpress.com/

18 November 2011

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.

Sincerely,
Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis

Letter to UC Davis Alumni from Chancellor Linda Katehi:

November 20, 2011

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Friday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud; indeed the events of the day need to guide us forward as we try to make our campus a better place of inquiry, debate, and even dissent. This past week our campus was a site of week-long peaceful demonstrations during which students were able to express their concerns about many issues facing higher education, the University of California, our campus, our nation, and the world as a whole. Those events involved multiple rallies in the Quad and an occupation of Mrak Hall which ended peacefully a day later.However, the events on Friday were a major deviation from that trend. In the aftermath of the troubling events we experienced, I will attempt to provide a summary of the incident with the information now available to me and the steps we will follow going forward.

After a week of peaceful exchange and debate, on Thursday a group of protestors including UC Davis students and other non-UC Davis affiliated individuals established an encampment of about 25 tents on the Quad. The group was reminded that while the university provides an environment for students to participate in rallies and express their concerns and frustrations through different forums, university policy does not allow such encampments on university grounds.

On Thursday, the group stayed overnight despite repeated reminders by university staff that their encampment violated university policies and they were requested to disperse. On Friday morning, the protestors were provided with a letter explaining university policies and reminding them of the opportunities the university provides for expression. Driven by our concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest, as well as other students on our campus, I made the decision not to allow encampments on the Quad during the weekend, when the general campus facilities are locked and the university staff is not widely available to provide support.

During the early afternoon hours and because of the request to take down the tents, many students decided to dismantle their tents, a decision for which we are very thankful. However, a group of students and non-campus affiliates decided to stay. The university police then came to dismantle the encampment. The events of this intervention have been videotaped and widely distributed. As indicated in various videos, the police used pepper spray against the students who were blocking the way. The use of pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this.

To this effect, I am forming a task force comprised of faculty, students and staff to review the events and provide to me a thorough report within 30 days. The task force will be chosen this week and convene immediately to begin their work. As part of this, a process will be designed that allows members of the community to express their views on this matter. In addition, I will hold a series of meetings and forums with students, faculty and staff to listen to their concerns and hear their ideas for restoring civil discourse to the campus. In the interim, two UC Davis police officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave following their use of pepper spray.

Related to current policies, I am asking the office of Administrative and Resource Management and the office of Student Affairs to review our policies in relation to encampments of this nature and consider whether our existing policies reflect the needs of the students at this point in time. If our policies do not allow our students enough flexibility to express themselves, then we need to find a way to improve these policies and make them more effective and appropriate.

Our campus is committed to providing a safe environment for all to learn freely and practice their civil rights of freedom of speech and expression. At the same time, our campus has the responsibility to ensure the safety of all others who use the same spaces and rely on the same facilities, tools, environments and processes to practice their freedoms to work and study.

I spoke with students this weekend and I feel their outrage. I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident. I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure this does not happen again. I feel sorry for the harm our students were subjected to and I vow to work tirelessly to make the campus a more welcoming and safe place.

Sincerely,
Linda P.B. Katehi
Chancellor

The silence is deafening:

All sorts of internet news aggregators are showing the clips. Even Anonymous is getting involved:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AyClUDfmdIM

My thoughts:
As a UC Davis alumnus and community member, I am saddened, outraged, and embarrassed by the events that took place last Friday night. While I admittedly don’t know everything that happened that led to this, I do believe that the use of violence by Officer Pike and the UC Davis police force was completely unnecessary based on the demeanor and size of this protest. If we cannot allow for civil disobedience at institutions for higher education without the threat of injury, then we fail to learn from history again. Of the ideals that are espoused by the university and the history of protests on UC campuses, it seems like an extreme oversight that this continues to be an issue on UC campuses. Some notable pieces I think would provide more insight: 1) Was Officer Pike authorized to use force to disburse the protest? If so, by whom? 2) Why was it so imperative to clear the quad, vis a vis- why couldn’t they have stayed? Lack of staffing/support is not a sufficient answer. 3) Was there an attempt to find a compromise to continue to allow the students and protestors’ demonstration through the weekend before the riot police were called? Until these questions are answered, I will stand in solidarity against those who have brought this upon themselves.

I hope that a resolution can be found and healing can begin, for the sake of my sister, my friends still at UC Davis (including students, staff and instructors) and for the community, as a whole.

Not to make light of the situation, but:

Anyone who can provide any more information so I can be better informed, please email me at occupyucdavis@kennyeng.com or leave a comment below.

That Was My Last CD

I like to think I’m keeping up with the technology trends when it comes to music. I started doing the “Pay What You Want” thing almost a year and a half ago. I began using the Square Reader to accept credit cards at shows shortly after. And now I’m going to stop selling CD’s.

That’s right. “Live at Lestat’s” will be/was the last physical CD I make as an independent artist.

It just makes sense for me. It’s environmentally friendly, it’s less stuff to lug around in my gig bag (and to store at home) and ultimately, it’s cheaper for me to make an album. I know it might sound like a bad idea, especially to my music friends who have been selling CD’s for as long as they’ve played music. But this is the right choice for me and for my generation (as far as I know). Maybe I lose that immediacy of having something to put into someone’s hands at the end of the show and I lose that opportunity to make a fan. But there’s always other merchandise ideas that can be created in the physical CD’s place like shirts (which I’ve been talking about forever) and posters, etc.

Luckily the next album is still a ways off and I’ll have time to think about this particular issue more. I’m sure I will find a way around that and I’m sure that technology will as well.

Where the Hell Have I Been?

I’ve been purposely laying low lately.

It’s been a really busy year with all the shows, trips and events and I decided after a particularly hectic month that I needed to scale back for a few weeks. It’s been nice, too for a couple of different reasons: 1) My little break has given me some time to recuperate and reassess my goals for the rest of the year, 2) I’ve been writing new songs that I would have never written had I not been able to lay low, and 3) I’ve reminded myself how fun it is to jam with my friends and just PLAY. In fact, right at this very moment I’m sitting in a bar by myself in downtown San Diego getting ready to spend the next four hours messing around with cover songs I may or may not know but only being concerned with having fun. Yeah, I needed that break.

Well it’s showtime. See you soon!

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