Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When The Madman Speaks his Mind...

INTERVIEWED by Michael James for Trick with a Knife, "magazine-blog on artistic sphere” (April 2010)

[1] I know you travel much and perform voraciously-- is this more important/equally important to the books and poems poets publish? Can you 'do more' this way'?

First of all, I grew up—or started writing poetry—around a culture that has a rich, flowing oral tradition. Poetry was performed or delivered right in the village right here right now. Even up to now, graphic novels (“komiks-magasin”), fiesta pageantry, and formulaic/melodramatic movies are the main entertainment escape route of most people in Philippine countrysides…
In the context of publishing, we know it’s a ruthless jungle out there. Getting published these days is tough. But why do desire to get published, anyway? Money, fame? These are acceptable pursuits, but as I grow older, I tend to gravitate back to my roots: Why do I write? I just want to reach out, share my story, make people happy even for few hours at time. I’d rather be in front of people—very intimate, very personal—than have my books rot in a Barnes & Noble shelf. That feeds the ego, but then… should I stop writing/reading just because I am not published? No. I love this (performing) gig and I will do this gig till I die.

[2] You're from the Philippines and write for THE PHILIPPINE NEWS-- do you find your country under represented on the global scene?

I used to write for Philippines News, the oldest Filipino-American newspaper in mainland US, and distributed nationwide and in Canada… I handled the largest bureau, the Southern California bureau where majority of the 4.5 million Filipinos in the US work and live. I did my best… The Philippines should be amply represented (in the US or the global community), could be. But most Filipino publishers in the US don’t see it that way… Before Philippine News, I edited another Fil-Am paper in New York City, and then I came out with my own, The Independent. You must ask me, why am I in a predominantly white community in North Carolina and opted to publish (and mingle) here. Says a lot, indeed. Filipino journalism is back home in the Philippines… that’s where flesh and blood happen, not here. Filipino publishers here have different motives…

[3] How do we integrate? I don't mean hybridization, where we lose culture and homogenize. I mean more like your TRAVELING BONFIRES FOR PEACE project --- how do we unite under choiceful peace without yielding to a totalitarian superpower?

We just’ve to break barriers and bridge bridges. We just have to get out of our comfort zones and hang out with all ethnicities out there. The Traveling Bonfires is trying to serve that quixotix vision-mission… I know it’s hard. But the fun that comes with sharing stuff and things supercede the difficulties. I am rockin’ and I don’t think I’ll ever tire mixing myself up with other cultures… We can’t hybrid or homogenize, but we can hang out and chill. I don’t want to dream like it’s nirvana, I want to dream and enjoy little bits of reality, you know…

[4] There's this statistical idea that I recently encountered in ADBUSTERS, talking about how computerized interaction has increased depression. That your time spent interfacing with this electrical/digital conduit leaves you way more vulnerable to depressive states. And yet this medium is essential for communication with "those unseen". And since the internet, a large aspect of computerized interface, is by nature a literature rich environment. We as artists use it to spread our message... still, there is a large portion of the world without internet access. There is no true question here, but I'd like to hear your reaction to this information.....

Well, moderate. Moderation is the key… I am not addicted to anything so I think I am fine… I will be more depressed if I don’t go online. This is my “office” (I work online to feed myself) and this is where I connect with family (who are thousands of miles away). I can’t give this up… but I can give up a PBR or strawberry cake or sex anytime, man… Besides, I don’t have a (cultural) translation to depression. But I know what sadness is, it’s a human truth. Human truths happen and our emotional/mental chemistry as human beings don’t say, we are “depressed” all our lives.

[5] I remember from our time performing and hanging out, you love to cook and eat. What is your favorite food to make?

Actually, I eat anything… Back in the islands, we eat all of a chicken anatomy. I cook based on what my friends want me to cook. I have been to many cultures and savored food and spices and herbs and all kinds of ingredients—that I am confident I can whip out a cool dish anytime. I can make the “Bizarre Foods” dude a run for his money.

[6] They say 95 percent of Serotonin is in the stomach, so how much do you think hunger informs creativity as a pleasurable act?

I don’t know… When I write or do some creative act, I just do it. I know what hunger is but it didn’t stop me from creating.

[7] Here's a cheesy question, but I'll still ask: Can art save? Do you find TRAVELING BONFIRES changing things through the fact you are taking initiative to spread the message, the concept itself, or is it the art that induces change?

Yes, I do. I believe art liberates and frees the spirit; art instigates and fosters change. Art is powerful. Artists could be a gargantuan force as a movement… The one giant arch-enemy that deters this is profit, big business. Independent art—I mean, those devoid of corporate encroachment—could rise up and be one and fight the giant machine, you know what I’m saying? We artists just have to believe that we can overcome.

[8] Where you're not writing or reading poetry, what types of literature seem to invigorate your mind?

I like work that is written instinctively and randomly. I like literature that doesn’t abide with physical form… because literature and art are human expressions. You don’t scream out of anger, cry out of sorrow, or laugh out of joy, and say, “This is the way to do it properly…”

[9] What about life, period, catches your attention?

Fun, fun is cool… I like to be smiling and laughing as I breathe my last breath of life.

[10] You've pioneered your own litmag/news pub THE WANDERER--- how is this a different way of sending out a message than your personal writing?

The Traveling Bonfires and all the publications and projects that I conceived, I hope—should not reflect the way I am as an individual. There are stuff and things that I want to pursue in life that I find it hard to pursue because my personal demons get in the way… My personal writings or work is me, the private me. But my community projects aren’t necessarily me. I published another paper in Asheville called “Blue Sky Asheville” where minds and thoughts from all sorts of spiritual/religious/cultural mores met. Just like The Bonfires—I like it that there are no doors, no windows, it’s all open… come one, come all.

--Pasckie Pascua
Asheville, North Carolina

Monday, August 16, 2010


Literary open stage at Upstairs Artspace, walk to Rogers Park, mung beans soup and a standup comic candle, and rainy nights of warm disquiet…

Tryon—a quaint little town 45 miles south of Asheville and almost the same distance to the batcave—is the birthplace of my revered blues sky and soul river diva, Nina Simone. Four nights and four days… punctuated by a “quietly” endearing Friday evening at Upstairs Artspace (“contemporary art gallery and arts education center”) where I read and shared a few poems to the “literary open stage”—on invite from artist-friend Bonnie Joy Bardos.
I will be back here in a week’s time…
I was able to whip out less than 400 words (part of my 2,000 words+/a day goal) in all of four nights/four days, which is pretty sparse—but that’s not the real deal. The deal is, right at this moment, I feel like I could seduce and inspire my harman/kardon Toshiba laptop to churn out 10,000+ words tonight, to the aftermidnight blue, and till the sun wakes up. The hot juices are flowing to a river of sweet wine—I just’ve to seize these moments on paper (or comp screen) before I jump off a waterfall, laughing…
So before I get “personal,” which I should not—I say: “Love good, live good, and eat only good food!” See you later, superhomeys!

--Pasckie The Dude
5:23 PM. 16 Aug 2010
Tryon NC

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hip and hop pseudonyms and 2200+ Facebook superhomeys...

LAST TIME I filed an entry here was November 8 last year—so that’d mean, it has been nine long months since I last blogged. It’s not that nothing really “significant” took place in my life. How could that be? “Insignificance” is synonymous to innui—the feeling of being bored by something tedious. (That is, however, my personal definition…)
“Significant” developments and conjectures did happen—or happening—in my little life in the last nine months, but majority of these are what most social animals call, “personal.” Yes, despite my seeming illicit romance or addictive concupiscence (heavy word!) with Facebook, I am still very much a private, reclusive dude. Nobody really knows what’s going on within “the womb of my batcave.*1” (Sorry about these specially quoted words and phrases. Check the footnote out for additional explanation.)
My self-imposed “reclusión perpetua*2” dates back to my childhood—but we don’t want to go there right now. My mom was very concerned that I spent too much time wombed in my room, instead of playing marbles or tag with other kids in the `hood—especially that, whenever I slid out of my shell, I was often muttering a line from a Simon&Garfunkel song (“I have my books / And my poetry to protect me; / I am shielded in my armor, / Hiding in my room, safe within my womb”). (Yes, that’s the line where I got one of my most favorite “reclusion” words, “womb”.) So imagine how thankful my mom was when I decided to pursue a journalism career at an early age of 14; at least, she didn’t wait long to find out what professional road I’d opt to tread when I grow older of sorts. That, however, didn’t sit well with my dad—who continually coaxed and admonished me to be another dude other than a writer, maybe a mortician or herbalist or milkman. Why was that? I’d like to discuss that subject but I’d rather not go there right at this juncture—lest I’d be distracted beyond what I’m trying to tackle on this particular blog, okay?
Anyways, before I move on—I’d like to mention in passing that Mark Twain’s essays in regards his abhorrence of war and US foreign policies (such as America’s colonization of the Philippines in late 1800s) made me want to get involved—hence, be part of the breathing world out there (instead of just wallowing in my shell). Of course, Twain’s Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer books were major influences in my life…
So probably one could safely say that the reason why I didn’t mutate into a full-blown hermit was—I pursued journalism in my youth and never buckled out of it—meaning, I had to interact with a specific human dynamic or community ruckus, or something to that effect. At this instance in my life, however, I am not into full-time journalism of any form or kind—following an unfruitful, unsatisfactory two-year sojourn in Southern California where I handled the Los Angeles bureau of an Asian-American newspaper. No love lost there though… I am extremely, silently pleased—although a few thousands poorer—that I am back in my adapted barrio, Asheville.
Now—where was I?

I DO BELIEVE that if J.D. Salinger was my age at this point in time, he is virulently Facebooking right at this aftermidnight minute although he’s still considered a recluse. Irrelevant of all this “privacy lost online” brouhaha, people can still choose not to give out or away their valued privacies in here (learn the apps and commands/options, dude!). On that regard, I doubt it if many people know that Salinger’s J.D. stood for Jerome David… Well, I knew that T.S. was Thomas Stearns (Mr Eliot), and O. was Orrin (Mr Henry)—plus his real name was William Sydney Porter—but I didn’t actually know what J.D. stood for to Mr Salinger until I googled it just a minute ago. (Who knew that I am “George Alfredo,” anyways? Not even my ex-girlfriends knew. Did my friends discover that online? I don’t think so.)
During those years of Salingers and Eliots and Henrys, pseudonyms and aliases were kinda hip. There was also a time—early high school days—when I toyed around with pennames. Since I was so mystified and intrigued by Alice Cooper (aka Vince Furnier), I came up with a female monicker myself: Kathy J. Cruz. I was seriously sending out fiction and poetry, and intermittent book and LP record reviews to a music magazine in Manila under that byline—that, although the editor knew my real identity, we agreed to keep the alias for maybe 3 years. The magazine (which dabbled as a chordbook), “paid” me with free subscriptions and paperbacks and LP records (those that I reviewed). Funny was, I was actually receiving steady stream of fan mails—most, quite expectedly, came from dudes who apparently were hitting up on me, thinking I was a chick. (It was only when I became more serious as a writer—upon “real” employment as a newspaper reporter at age 15—that I chucked the KJC name tag, though I remained an Alice Cooper diehard.)
But—yeah!—pseudonyms were kinda cool and hip during those years. These days though, pennames are more hiphop than hip. Only hiphop/rap gangsta artists use aliases: Li’l Wayne, Jay Z, Ice T., Ice Cube, Ludacris, 50 Cent, Eminem, P. Diddy, Snoop Dogg... I don’t imagine signing my byline as P. Pax.Key or Who.eez.Dizz, anyhow.
So forget pseudonyms. (Pasckie Pascua is my REAL name.)

AGAIN, where was I?
(This is the thing with blogs… nonsensical rambling is allowable and word-count is never an issue. Besides that, it’s absolutely fine to get sidetracked…)
I was saying—there weren’t any hugely significant developments or conjectures that rocked my world in the last nine months or so—since I moved back here in Asheville from Los Angeles late summer last year. I didn’t even engage in a major road trip—apart from a two-week dalliance in New York City and Washington DC in September, and a weekend ride to Virginia in October. That was it…
I had “little” chill-outs in Pigeon Forge, Johnson City, Jonesboro, and Gatlinburg in Tennessee, and in a number of Western North Carolina towns—but that’s it. I don’t call these breathers and getaways as “significant,” in the sense that these were “personal” trips as opposed to my usual Traveling Bonfires road treks. If there’s no Bonfires madness journey, then there’s not much to say, isn’t it?
Yes, most of the goings on around here are “personal,” I mean—I don’t think that my usual blog/ramblings readers will ever care whether I broke my heart again or I finally stuck it out with a lady beyond 3 months. I am always “public” but that doesn’t mean, I make it a habit to wag my Hanes out my front porch on a Monday morning or yell out my current blues and funk to the entire internet universe each time I feel grumpy over a shattered valentine or too broke to score a new Pay Less Converse All-Star imitation. TMI is too-much-info.
I get the kicks sharing with my 2,200+ Facebook Friends whatever I had for dinner or how kewl my latest profile pic or what’d my batcave room looked like on a weekend, but nah—I am not going to fill up a Relationship Status update any time soon. I digress…
I retain the right to my mystery… I like the sound of that word, “mystery.” I like to attach my antennaes and radars elsewhere—and share a rant or two about stuff and things (oh highly-opinionated, grossly judgmental me!) but I am still detached.
I’d like to repeat—most of my relative silence has something to do with the Traveling Bonfires’ comparative inactivity in Asheville in the last few months. We had one “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park” last April 17—and we could’ve carried on in May, June, July… but a whole lot of changes have taken place in downtown’s “management hierarchy” so—well, that’s it. We still have one more BforPeace event (featuring longtime DJ-friends Touch Samadhi), set on Aug 21, but after that—I can’t tell. We had one poetry reading gig at Malaprop’s each month from January till May though…
Despite these, The Bonfires’ relentless zeal goes on unabated in the Philippines—starting Aug 21—under the leadership of my daughter Donna (with very able help from her associate, Lorna Campilan). A set of four major productions are currently in the works. [Check out a companion blog:]

ANYHOW, are you still wondering about my relative inactivity? Okay…
Here in Asheville… all is quiet. [Not to forget, of course—the local Mountain Xpress weekly magazine ran an article about The Bonfires’ return in the mountains. Here is the link: Before that, me and Marta The Nicer were interviewed by local indie radio impresario Jeff Davis on his]
Otherwise, my days and nights, are pretty much confined in the batcave—struggling over my book/s-writing, reading some bios and stuff, watching Mad Men, dance competitions on cable and Netflix movies, hangin’ out with my superhomeys Cindyrella, Chloe (the babedawg) and Cyd (the koolcat), cooking, gardening/lawnmowing, vacuuming, dusting, washing clothes and dishes, pokin’ around—with occasional trips to Westville Pub to shoot pools over PBRs and buffalo wings, and “joyrides” around WNC mountains…
Oh, by the way—I just spent my half-century birthday here (if that qualifies as “significant” at all). Marta The Nicer O had hers here in January, as well. (Thanks so much to Cindyrella, who owns the house, for all her kindness…)
So that’s it, for now…
“Significant” developments and conjectures did happen, maybe. But I’d rather not ramble and ruminate about that… I don’t think you’d be interested. Check my Facebook, instead—that is, if you are one of my 2,000+ Friends.
Meantime, love good, live good, and eat only good food.

--Pasckie The Dude
3:14 AM. 2 August 2010; 12:42 midnight. 3 August 2010
Candler NC (batcave and beyond)

*1 the womb of my batcave, otherwise known as my neck of the woods in Candler in Western North Carolina.
*2 reclusión perpetua. Spanish, from Latin: reclusio perpetua, meaning "permanent imprisonment,” is a particular kind of sentence of imprisonment in the Philippines, Argentina, and several other countries.

also drafted at Barnes&Noble/Starbucks Cafe, Asheville Mall. 1 Aug 2010.