Friday, June 26, 2009

Are you afraid of clowns and WHY?

Put that question up on my Facebook and G-Chat status and these were the replies:

Response #1
friend: I'm sorry, but yes, they do and I think it's because of the "stereotypical" smile painted on that is so exaggerated it is creepy.
but you do not scare me :)
me: Thanks for answering!
i know i dont!
friend: lol oh and of course "IT didn't help although that wasn't the start
me: right

Response #2
friend: john wayne gacy is a reason that clowns are scary to some people
me: and you?
friend: Im not scared of clowns, never said I was just feel like I get why some people are
me: cause they'll kill you? =)
friend: because you're hiding something
me: hmmm
friend: Insane Clown Posse gives that same feeling
and pop culture doesnt help - more images of IT than of genuine sweet funny clowns
me: right...

Response #3
I wouldn't say they SCARE me but they are a little bit intimidating. In the same way that I think mascots, Seafair pirates, mimes, and people in big animal costumes are intimidating. For some reason, it's just a little unsettling. Maybe it's because they're masked to some extent. Fear of the unpredictable and the unknown.

Sometimes I love it though. So, who knows.

Response #4
Yes and just because! lol ;)

Response #5
Yes. Just unsettling since they are a person hiding behind a mask or makeup. You can't see the person to know if you should run or smile.
I am better with mimes for some strange reason.

Then a friend sent me an article from the Stranger (a great Seattle paper)
The different kinds of people that there are
The article reviews differnt kinds of people who have different issues like fear of clowns. Generally a great article. Here's what they said about the clown thing:

People Who Claim to Be Afraid of Clowns

These people (and they are numerous) are attempting to cultivate a cute quirk, but they are really just aping a cute quirk cultivated by thousands of cute-quirk-cultivators before them in a giant, gross, boring feedback loop. Yes, clowns can be mildly creepy. But come on. Among the many things that are scarier than clowns: fire, earthquakes, a guy with a knife, riding the bus, colon cancer, falling down the stairs (it could happen at any time!), rapists, people who just kind of look a little rapey and are standing too close to you in line at 7-Eleven, Marlo from The Wire, influenza, and scissors.

So. As I step out into the world and streets as a clown, I want to embrace this knowledge. It's important to remember out of the hundreds of friends on Facebook and G-Chat there were under ten responses. Nine saying yes and one no.
My intention stepping into this world of makeup and noses is NOT simply a "fun" way to entertain. It is also not with the intention to "scare." What it is...what it will be. I am still discovering that. I just know that I am compelled.

I also think its important to see that clowning is like many things in the world. There is great potential here. The ability to abuse and the ability to create love, change, entertainment, beauty, silliness,... When pressed, I'm sure all of the above friends could imagine a clown that did not scare them. Its like asking, "Do politics scare you?" Yes. And it holds great power.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Threat of the Clown

Wanted to get a great clown cartoon image for the previous post and so I, of course, googled "clown cartoon." Very telling endeavor to uncover the way the internet society views clowns. A few observations:

Out of the first 20 clowns displayed the breakdown is as follows
3 dunce clown cartoons,

4 sad clown cartoons,

5 neutral/happy clown cartoons

7 evil clown cartoons.

What the? Why so many evil clown images?
I have a friend who works at Clowns Without Borders and we got into a conversation about this the other day he said,
"When people tell me they hate clowns and I ask them why, I often find, its just a line. They're just saying that because that's the cool thing to say."
The next day I was talking to someone and they said, "I honestly hate clowns" and I said, "Oh yah, why's that?" And sure enough they said, "Oh, no not really. Actually I'm just saying that."

This image though is also very telling.

The fear of putting on the nose...The caption below says, "Sammy...For the last time...Its just a nose, not an demonic omen." If you follow through with this image, what happens? He puts on the clown nose, Krusty attacks. So often our society teaches us to grow up, stop "clowning" around. What are we really afraid of then? Being spontaneous. In many Eastern religions, the fool is the person who has let go of all worldly possessions and wanders with out attachment. Byron Katie often says something along the lines of, "What would your life be like if you lost everything that you believe is precious to you?" "Who are you then?" It's scary to imagine. I agree. And yet, there is a certain freedom to it as well.
Another noteworthy fact from my google search. It wasn't until the 39th image that a woman clown cartoon showed up. There was a fish clown before it even. And you can see below it was her womanly features that were the object of humor. Is that a horn honk or is she farting? The balloon even looks disgusted. Naively oblivious to her absurd state. Where does the clown reclaim its power? And where do we resign to be either clueless or a threat?

Clowning Around

You don't need a red nose to be a clown.
A few good pieces of advice from #25 is my favorite I think.

1. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper,99 copies.
2. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.
3. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."
4. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what you think."
5. Practice making fax and modem noises.
6. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc" them to your boss.
7. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.
8. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with prophesy."
9. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears and grimacing.
10. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.
11. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.
12. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."
13. Staple pages in the middle of the page.
14. Honk and wave to strangers.
15. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints at the cash register.
17. type only in lowercase.
18. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.
19. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.
20. Ask people what gender they are.
21. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.
22. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.
23. Sing along at the opera.
24. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn't rhyme.
25. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological profiles."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chris Bricker --Clown Activist

My friend Lexi who's a lobbyist for the Labor Union is going to this workshop this weekend: Conference on Creative Organizing. I was looking through the website and lo and behold yet another clown activist. Works with the AFL-CIO. Who would ever think the labor union would have their very own clown activist. Love it. Graduate of Barnum Circus School and plays the freaking saw.
So cool.

Clowning for Justice

Clown activism. Go to your County Board, dress like a clown and alert them to your issue.
There's a way to get them to remember you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Is This Tomorrow? America Under Communism

A great comic book strip from the 1940s about the future of America if we follow communism. Cue scary organ music. Enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Eleven months since.

In the spirit of my blog theme: superheros, I'd like to post a recent article titled "Normal Humans Wouldn't Do That" posted on the blog Stars and Stripes about the day my brother Jason Bogar died (see link below.)

I'm not sure how accurate this article is. The boys that were with Jason on that day that I've talked with are reticent to share their stories. I guess they feel like by speaking about it, it cheapens it. I can understand that. Anyway, from the boys who didn't feel that way, this story is slowly coming out. Just as understanding as I feel for the silence of some of the guys, I'm equally thankful for the guys that have made the choice to talk.

Overall the article seems more or less up to par with what I know. I do have issue with this particular piece of information taken from the article,

"There was intelligence an attack would occur," according to an Army "15-6" report regarding the battle, "but this was to be expected for the Waygal District." Troops expected a "probing attack" of around 20 militants."

That is not at all accurate with what I heard from Jason's fellow soldiers. To my understanding, no one had any idea anything was coming and they were on a "recon" mission. From what I know, they weren't expecting 20 --let alone 200.

I feel like its disrespectful to say that they knew it was coming. If they did, don't you think they would have been more prepared? I do.

I miss Jason constantly. Fortunately, being just one month under a year since his death, the realization that he is gone has settled in. Over the past year every time I re-remembered that he died felt like a grenade going off under my feet only to look down and see it was a rock. The dull sinking feeling of: no, I wasn't dead. He was. I'm still here.

So, that doesn't happen as often anymore. It used to be that I would hear a song, eat something or have a thought and think to myself: this is the first time I've experienced this since Jason died. Those instances lessen with time, but they still occur.

Now his absence --it's just a normal part of the day. I wake up and just KNOW he's gone. I dream of him and know he's gone. Sometimes he's in my dream but visiting me as a spirit. Other times I have a dream I'm in real life with Carise, Mom, Dad, Dan but Jason isn't in that dream. I just KNOW he's gone.

Does it make it any less painful? You tell me.

Anyways, here's the story of the day he died told through a few soldier journalists piecing together what they can to find the truth: Normal Humans Wouldn't Do That

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clowns Without Borders

I did a little gig with them at a fundraiser in DC a few months back. They recently sent a group to Sudan. I heard it went well and they're back.
This is a little clip about a troupe that went to Lesotho.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fair Use Remix Institutes: Girls and Beats

Thought this was a cool little mash up. Gives you something to think about. The way we view women. I like the way they link up the youth with the adults. The connections all made through images. Powerful.

What to do with this?

I ran across a blog called The Two Malcontents today. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by it. Since I lost Jason in the war, my heart has opened to the US military in a way it never had before. I have been able to find a connection between my work in peace activism and the US military. I recently wrote a paper about it and presented it at a Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Theater of the Oppressed conference called the Peacemaker's War where I urged activists to look to the people within the military not as the evil enemy but rather fellow allies who get just as confused as we do about effective ways of achieving peace. Coming across this site I guess is perfect timing as it allows me to flush out just how deep these sympathetic roots go. The About Us page explains: "The Two Malcontents" is a compilation of generational US military families who unequivocally support our troops…regardless of where they are deployed.

The site goes on to spout incredibly hateful words about "socialists" and paints the Obama administration as evil. I can see some similarities in theway many leftists talk about the Bush administration. In my personal life, I can find watching Jon Stewart's "Dick Uncut" recent show brings great joy in my life.

While I can empathize with my friends who criticize the Bush administration, the same rhetoric rings in my ears from both sides. I wonder. How effective is this? Jon Stewart, in my eyes, is a hero. He nails the irony and humor of the world daily. And I could see that many conservatives may find it incredibly offensive.

But what is the difference then between Jon Stewart's show and this blog? One thing is for sure: this blog is not funny. And I can't imagine anyone finds it funny. The people writing it are not intending for it to be funny but rather aggressive and critical. Another thing is that Jon Stewart is not attacking Dick Cheney's physical appearance but rather his actions.

In one post, they take one picture of Michele Obama and under it say, "Ugly bow-legged big ass under-bight from hell anti-American Marxist manure Michelle Obama leaving Westminster Abbey"

Wow. What would motivate someone to be so hateful towards this woman? There are no facts about her as a human but rather an attack on her physical appearance. How dangerous to connect someone's looks with their political views. With women gaining more and more recognition politically, it is a tactic being used often. Take the recent attacks on John McCain's daughter Meghan McCain when she came out in support of gay marriage.

And then her rebuttal: (pardon the pun)

While I look to my fellow peacemaking community to find a common ground where the military can be seen as a partner in our work to achieve peace, I am equally losing my patience for hate rhetoric such as this.

Jon Stewart and the leftists can be a rough bunch. I know, I'm part of it. But regardless of what side you fall on, we must all be ever vigilant of the line that gets crossed between critical analysis and hate.

I am from a generational US military family. My little brother died not even a year ago fighting for what he believed in. I respect and honor his memory. And I support our troops. But I do not subscribe to the hate that comes from this blog. I just want to make that clear. For myself.

Amnesty International Nailed This One

Amnesty International's new fundraising campaign. FASCINATING. Skateboarders and human rights.Never wanted to spend $350 on a hoodie before...

March on the Pentagon. Attire: Clown.

The following article was written by Jeff Nall on April 2, 2009 on the blog Toward Freedom. I've re-posted it here. Please reference it here: Militarism Under Obama: A New Phase in the Antiwar Movement.

On Saturday, March 21, 2009 the anti-war movement held its first national mobilization against U.S. militarism since the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. Marking the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war, about 10,000 people participated in the March on the Pentagon, organized by the ANSWER Coalition. While there were radical groups in attendance that viewed Obama as being little different from Bush, Obama supporters comprised a sizeable contingent of protesters.

Kate Walsh, unofficial leader of Students Against War in Des Moines wasn’t old enough to vote for Obama last year, but she did help get him elected. "I think I would have voted for him because I’d rather use my vote for a candidate who has a chance rather than voting for a third party," said Walsh who held a t-shirt and blanket stitched peace banner adorned with supportive signatures from Des Moines students. Whether Obama gets her first presidential election vote, however, will depend upon his Iraq and Afghanistan policies. "I’m really opposed to the Iraq war and I don’t believe that we should move troops to Afghanistan," said Walsh. "I want Obama to know that my generation isn’t with him if he’s going to continue the wars there."

Holding a sign reading "I am shocked and awed," veteran Harry Parks of North Carolina echoed Walsh’s position. "[I’m here] to remind the [Obama] administration that we still want the war to end," said Parks who served in the Army for 28 years including 30 months flying helicopters in Vietnam. "This is the most tragic blunder in American history—this past administration and its foray into the Middle East. I’m a retired military veteran and I believe that defending the country is essential, but what we’ve been doing is not defending the country. We’ve actually been occupying countries for the wrong reasons."

Parks said he voted for Obama and believes that he is best suited to rectify the foreign policy debacle Bush left behind. "I just don’t want (Obama) to lose site of the fact that we absolutely must get out of the Middle East and let those people determine what kind of government they want not the kind of government we’re trying to give them."

Micael Bogar of Washington DC may have been dressed as a clown but her impetus for attending the march was as solemn as it gets. Donning a red wig and nose, white face paint, blue dress, and red and white stockings, Bogar said that her younger brother Jason Bogar, a U.S. soldier, died in Afghanistan on July 13, 2008. "These are his dog tags," she said lifting them from her neck to show. Holding a sign as colorful as her outfit, Micael Bogar said that losing her brother transformed her life and led her to realize "that fighting against war doesn’t work." "What does work for me is loving, and understanding the way of the world and reality. And letting everyone else catch up." Clowning, she said, is an important part of that creative process. "And peace is a very courageous act and it takes creativity to get there, to find peace in your life. So I’m demonstrating what my peace looks like."

Marking a new phase of the 21st century anti-war movement, protesters’ criticisms were not limited to Iraq but encompassed general U.S. military foreign policy. Activists condemned the U.S.’s role in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and its financial and political backing of Israel’s assault on Gaza and continued occupation of Palestinian territory. A relatively new but prevalent mantra was that U.S. military spending came at the expense of desperately needed funding for jobs, education and basic human needs

In addition to professionally crafted signs made by organizing groups, protesters brandished a plethora of handcrafted signs and banners reading: "Obama it’s your war now," "America is losing its soul in Gaza," "U.S. out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan NOW," "College not combat," "Hey Obama take a stand, U.S. out of Afghanistan" and "OK Democrats, now stop the war."

After rallying across the street from the Lincoln Memorial from about noon to 2pm protesters marched across the Memorial Bridge on their way to the Pentagon. Anti-war protesters were met with less than a dozen counter protesters who held up an effigy of Jane Fonda on a noose with a sign reading: "Jane Fonda, American Bitch Traitor." Others held signs reading "Che is dead get over it," "Al Qaeda Appeasers on Parade," "Peace thru strength," and "Anti-American Peaceniks think sedition is patriotic."

Along the march route protesters bellowed chants such as "Hey Obama, yes we can. Troops out of Afghanistan" and "Barack, Barack, Barack, Afghanistan's the same as Iraq." Protesters also called for broad ethnic unity chanting "Blacks, Latinos, Arab, Asian, and whites, no racist war no more, no more, defend our civil rights." Other chants addressed the economic situation: "Bail out the workers, not the war makers."

While much of the March on Pentagon, like most demonstrations, was well-rehearsed, there were a handful of occasions when truly organic outbursts of democratic will occurred. At one point, the march came to a halt as activists spontaneously formed a large dance circle and moved to what may have been the most popular chant of the demonstration: "Get up! Get down! There’s an anti-war movement in this town!"

This pause in the march, however, was used by a small group of activists to stage a protest within the March on the Pentagon. A small group of activists who questioned organizers’ commitment to opposing racism, flanked by a group of anarchists, created a blockade in the route, bottling up the protest. The group soon drew the ire of participants and ANSWER volunteers who diligently worked to funnel frustrated and confused marchers past the blockade. Further along the route one protester from the anarchist contingent threw a hammer into an apartment window. Some were displeased with such tactics.

Crescenzo Scipione, 17, of Rochester, New York said that the blockade of the route wasn’t constructive. "All it did was alienate anarchists, which is the last thing that the broader movement needs," said Scipione. "I hate it because it perpetuates, mainly among liberals and socialists this kind of baiting of anarchists. We need to stop doing shit like that."

March organizers dramatized the tragic consequences of U.S. military intervention around the world by creating about one-hundred cardboard coffins draped with flags representing the homeland of those killed. Coffins representing fallen American soldiers were also on hand.

Protesters carried the coffins along the route, through the Pentagon north parking lot into downtown Crystal City where they delivered them to defense contractors Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and KBR amid an army of riot-gear clad police officers.

Though unreported by most media outlets the end of the march was marked by a tense standoff between protesters and Arlington County Police. In an attempt to prevent activists from placing the makeshift coffins on the proverbial doorstep of General Dynamics-KBR dozens of police officers created a virtual wall around the facility. A contingent of activists took direct action, however, charging toward the entrance from an unguarded side of the building. A brigade of officers responded by cutting off their path. Activists settled on leaving the coffins at officers’ feet. On the street, supportive marchers looked on.

While activists sought to deliver the coffins to General Dynamics-KBR activists gathered nearby erupting in spontaneous song. Codepink activists led marchers in singing "Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round" and "Solidarity Forever."

Excluding United for Peace and Justice’s half-a-million person protest in January 2007, the first Washington protest of the Obama administration was about one-tenth the size of ANSWER’s September 15, 2007 march. Asked how she felt about the considerably smaller turnout of protesters compared to the better attended marches in 2007, Rachelle van Wyck of St. Pete, Florida said that the numbers were less important than getting the message out. "It’s that people are still committed," said van Wyck who donned an "I can’t believe I’m still protesting this crap!" sticker. "That we still get the message out to this president that America is concerned about getting the troops home and that this needs to be a priority in his making policies. He needs to know that this is not what America wants and we have spoken. And we still say ‘bring the troops home.’"

In his March 27, 2009 article, "The Angry Left," published in the Atlantic, Will DiNovi writes that the anti-war movement’s most significant obstacle is the formation of a coherent message. "Though withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan was ostensibly the theme of the day, Saturday's featured speakers railed against causes as disparate as the embargo of Cuba, U.S. policy towards Sudan, and Israel's recent incursion into Gaza. As protesters made their way from the National Mall toward the Pentagon and a hub of defense contractors in Arlington, the march devolved into a vague condemnation of ‘the military industrial complex’ rather than a targeted attack on the president's foreign policy."

While DiNovi may bemoan the anti-war movement’s "vague condemnation of ‘the military industrial complex’" it is worth noting Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King contention that just such a comprehensive analysis was needed to achieve significant, lasting change and peace. Indeed, just ten days before his death King commented that the growth of the military industrial complex was the worst consequence of the Vietnam War. In a March 25, 1968 interview with Rabbi Everett Gendler Dr. King said: "One of the greatest tragedies of the war in Vietnam is that it has strengthened the military-industrial complex, and it must be made clear now that there are some programs that we can cut back on—the space program and certainly the war in Vietnam—and get on with this program of a war on poverty. Right now we don’t even have a skirmish against poverty, and we really need an all out, mobilized war that will make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life."

Jeff Nall is writer, peace activist, and speaker. His book, Perpetual Revolt: Essays on Peace & Justice and The Shared Values of Secular, Spiritual, and Religious Progressives (Howling Dog Press, 250 pages, $15.95), is available at his website: and Email sabletide(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cumeezi Clown Troupe. A legend

Catching up on the history of clowning; the Cumeezi Clown Troupe ran around the streets of NYC in the 70's and 80's. There is a whole website dedicated to their past work. One shtick was campaigning. What a perfect way to create some DC political theater. Can you imagine what you could do with that nowadays? What kind of a campaign would a clown run? How could that be paralleled with current politics? So much there!!
Here is a link to their website:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Real Superhero Dude!

This kid is for real. What a doll. He dresses up like a superhero and hands out water and food to the homeless. Watch here

A Femme Clown Assemblage

Not Just For Shock Value
A New York based all female group of clowns. O for a muse of fire! O to live in New York and be in this clown troupe! O to create one in DC!

Look at these amazing ladies.

Thoughts from Kendall Cornell --the group's founder:

"In a traditionally male field, I have discovered the need for women clowns. Women’s clowning has a specific beauty. Only a woman can uncover the deep humor of women’s experience – and perhaps of certain life truths. For me, it has been necessary to go back to the ancient core principles of clowning to re-find a place for the women, so they are not merely an imitation of the male tradition, but instead they reveal (and create fun with) their own distinct terrain. For the audience, the experience may also be new territory. In order to laugh at a clown, we have to sense a certain mutuality, which means that both men and women in the audience will identify with the clown on stage. It can be a startling thing for both groups to recognize themselves in a woman on stage (and a sovereignly foolish one!). Clowning can cut through our differences to our universality, at the same time that it wakes us up to our unique selves."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Barnaby King, what a clown

I've been emailing a bit with a friend of a friend who has worked all over the States and in Colombia as a clown. Here's an interview with him. He seems like a great guy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

CIRCA - not your average clown troupe

Clowning has been on my mind and painted on my face lately. I'm fascinated by the intersection of peaceful demonstrations and clowning. Most recently I was introduced to a clowning troupe (mostly in the UK) called CIRCA, which stands for: Clandestine, Insurgent, Rebel, Army. They dress up as clowns and do all sorts of peaceful activism. It seems to me their tactics may skate the edge in terms of effective activism, but I really don't know too much about them. Could it be that European military and police have more of a sense of humor. I imagine if I went up to a cop at a protest or something and tried to talk in his megaphone, I wouldn't have the same success. Here is their link: