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A Taqwacore Call to Prayer

A couple of years ago, I was at a conference in Berlin, Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation. The last speaker was this trans woman punk from Italy, whose proposal for some kind of anarchist feminist utopia included slamming Islam and conflating it with terrorism.

This was followed by question time, which was kinda awkward ’cos everyone heard what she said and I was sitting there cursing and fucking under my breath. So I got up and returned the slamming. To which she replied with, “Oh, I was talking about ISIS, not all Muslims.” More muttering from me to those I was sitting with, “Nah, you said Islam, we all heard you, we know what you mean, and I’m not touching that reply of yours.”

After the conference, a friend of Ms. V.’s came up to me, he said, “Have you seen The Taqwacores?”

It’s the last Friday of Ramadan. A month ago I had no intention of doing this. The Friday evening before Ramadan started, I had a chat with myself, something like, “Just do the first day, you don’t have to do the whole month, just the first day.” “Awww but Sahūr, Frances, it’s at 230am, and Iftar’s at 930pm.” “Ok, so just have breakfast when you usually do, and then go till İftar.” “But that’s not Ramadan.” Can you hear me whining? I was whining. “You do what you can, that’s all. If that’s what you can do, even if only for one day, that’s what you do for that one day.” “But—” “Just one day, babe, just the first day, just for your Gran, that’s all.”

One day turned into another, into a week, into two, into a month. And here I am at the last Friday of Ramadan. Still here, still doing what I can.

This isn’t a post about why I do Ramadan, or how I do or don’t justify not doing it strictly — which for some is the same as not doing it at all. I know why I do it, just as we all have our personal reasons for doing it. I know who I am and where I come from.

Islam is a fucking surrender.
That’s it.
Knowing that you don’t run the show, staying mindful of it in everything you do.
Take your hands off the wheel. See how it feels.
Islam isn’t about ayats and hadiths, and niches, and lamps.
It’s about us. All of us.
Allah’s too big and too open for my Islam to be small and closed.
I’m so Muslim. I am so Muslim.
I can say fuck Islam.
You know Imam Husain said,
“He has no religion, let him at least be free in his present life.”
Let’s pray.

vincent gallo – the brown bunny

Hero of Buffalo 66, Vincent Gallo, who single-handedly resurrected 70’s prog-rockers Yes has just had his new film The Brown Bunny, which was called “the worst film in the history of Cannes Film Festival” premiere in America on August 27. The reporter who bagged it out, whom Gallo put a hex on to get colon cancer, interviewed him a couple of days ago.

“The Brown Bunny” (opening Friday at Landmark Century) involves several days in the life of a motorcycle racer named Bud Clay, who loses a race and drives his van cross-country while bugs collect on the windshield and he has sad, elusive encounters with lonely women. At the end of his odyssey, he seeks out his great former love Daisy (Chloe Sevigny) and, like Gatsby, discovers that the light is out at the end of Daisy’s pier.

“Did you know the lead-up to Cannes?” Gallo asked. “Did you know why it was shown at Cannes? Did you know what state it was in?”

[…]

“I got involved in the film in a sacrificial way, beyond my normal self-abuse — like not eating, not sleeping, freaking out about unimportant things. Like I had to use these Mitchell lenses, these Bausch & Lomb lenses, but I had to have them converted, and it took a year. I was bringing all my good and bad habits into this project.”

vincent and chloe – the brown bunny
vincent and chloe – the brown bunny

陳果 – 三更二之一: 餃子 Fruit Chan – Dumplings

陳果 Fruit Chan’s latest movie, 餃子 Dumplings has just opened in Hong Kong, one third of a horror series Three Extremes starring Miriam Yeung and Tony Leung Ka-fai.

Dumplings tells the story of an ageing woman (Miriam Yeung), afraid of losing her husband (Tony Leung Ka-fai) who seeks the help of a mysterious woman (Bai Ling) who makes mysterious dumplings to restore youth. “It’s the subject matter that’s extreme,” begins the director. Dumplings poses a not-so-beautiful question involving the importance of being beautiful. “The subject of beauty is very popular now, especially among women and girls. Everywhere you look, all over the Hong Kong media, you see ads telling you how to make yourself beautiful, look younger, lose weight. The ideal is to become one empty human being. Some countries don’t have enough food, yet in Hong Kong people don’t want to eat!”

餃子 Dumplings – 陳果 Fruit Chan
餃子 Dumplings – 陳果 Fruit Chan
餃子 Dumplings – 陳果 Fruit Chan
餃子 Dumplings – 陳果 Fruit Chan

the heart is deceitful above all things

JT Leroy I started reading in Toronto early last year, somewhere between William Burroughs early novels, the bleakness of James Elroy, and Larry Clarke’s films, but altogether different. His book The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things premiered at Cannes this year, with screenplay and direction by Asia Argento, better known for hanging out with my favourite action-man Vin Diesel in XXX, and starring rock-god Marilyn Manson and a host of other delinquents. Reuters had this interview with him.

“The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”, based on his critically acclaimed short story collection, documents the American author’s childhood spent with his drug-addict mother and fanatically religious grandparents.

The film divided audiences at the Cannes festival in May. The British daily The Independent rated it as one of the top 10 films of the fortnight, but the trade paper The Hollywood Reporter described it as “a gruelling, cinematic excretion”.

[…]

Argento met LeRoy when she gave a reading of his work and was so moved by “The Heart…” that she suggested making it into a film. She co-wrote the screenplay and plays the role of the abusive mother.

“I really think that she pulled it off in a genius way,” said LeRoy, who was a consultant on the project. “It’s going to get a lot of attention and it will be controversial.”

Produced on a small independent budget, the film deals with tough subjects that few Hollywood studios dare touch.

The young hero, Jeremiah, is neglected by his prostitute mother and raped by her boyfriends. His Bible-bashing grandfather subjects him to scalding baths and regular beltings.

In one scene Jeremiah dresses up in his mother’s clothes and seduces her redneck boyfriend, played by shock rocker Marilyn Manson.

“I think a lot of these child abuse type books have the problem that the victim always has to be this angelic child. When you grow up with an abusive parent you learn to be mean and cruel and evil, and you learn to survive,” said LeRoy.

Like the book, the film does not judge the abusers, a stance that was unpopular with some of the critics at Cannes.

the heart is deceitful above all things
the heart is deceitful above all things