Monthly Archives: March 2015

Feeling Grateful towards our Supporters

Sunday March 29th 2015

Our fan named Elaine responded to my blog about our slow, disappointing day yesterday with this:

Keep your spirits up, Lila – like the tree in the forest that still makes a sound when it falls even though there is no one there to hear it,Tribal Baroque is authentic, unique, talented, etc. whether there are hundreds in the audience, or just one. We have a prior obligation this afternoon, but hope to be able to catch a few numbers near the end of your set today.

Thank you Elaine. I actually said that to Thoth yesterday, about the tree falling in the forest.

I listened to “Waters of March” and danced around while doing my makeup this morning. I dressed colorfully today. Forrest and Tasha picked us up to take us to the park. Forrest dropped us off at our spot. The Sister’s annual spring picnic was set up right next to us. We put down a blanket and watched a bit of their ceremony before getting ready to play. “Bring forth the bucket of dirt!” the speaker said. Everyone sang a long high note. It was hysterical. I love the Sister’s of Perpetual Indulgence. They’re both creative and spiritual, like us. Sister Yeshe and Sister Ida are big fans of ours. Mel and Carissa came to the picnic and to watch us. They’re friends with Yeshe and Ida. Tasha set up a blanket on the grass to watch us. Mel, Carissa, Ida and Yeshe sat in lawn chairs behind her. Forrest sat in his usual spot in the hallway, this time in a chair. Ali came again to photograph us. I asked Forrest for a dollar to spike the case, but he, Tasha, Sister Ida and I think Ali gave me money. Ida sprinkled glitter in the case as a blessing. 

We had big audiences the entire day. Our friend Bill always cheers. I realize that having him in the audience makes other people cheer, too. He’s one of our biggest supporters. He always stands at the back. I looked him in the eyes during “Ee-ay” and he was crying. Having a few different groups of fans watching us helps us to have a great day. Mel is a great cheerleader, too. She always hoops and hollers. It’s good to have a few cheerleaders in the audience. It gives the people who are seeing us for the first time permission to cheer. I know that’s what most people want to do, they’re just not sure if they can. I love it when our friends make an afternoon out of coming to listen to our music in the park. It’s one of the most supportive things people can do. Just staying the entire performance and clapping helps us so much! Thank you Bill, Mel, Carissa, Forrest, Tasha Sister Ida and Sister Yeshe! I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your commitment and love for what we do. We love you guys. I appreciate all the other people who support us, too. We have people like that in every city we prayform in long term. There was a woman in Lisbon who came so often she was weeping on our last day because she didn’t know if she’d ever see us again. I know the effort it took to go to the Angel Tunnel to see Thoth all the time. It means so much to me. Dan Rubin in New York comes so much to see us, he makes it worth going out 5 days a week. We always get great pictures from him. I know there are other people who come to see us a lot, but I don’t know them yet. The more fans and support we have in a city, the more tempting it is to stay.

I'm starting to like the GoPro. It takes great pictures.

I’m starting to like the GoPro. It takes great pictures.

My voice sounded good, but I started feeling sick as the prayformance progressed. Eventually I told Thoth. I was able to sing through the entire opera, plus 4 of our old songs somehow anyway. I’m proud of myself for getting through it. We hugged Bill and our other friends before packing up and Forrest and Tasha drove us home. Bill walked with us to the car. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do with himself when we leave town. He looks forward to the four months we’re here all year long. I miss our San Diego friends so much when we’re gone. Sometimes I fantasize about living here, but I’m not ready to settle down yet. It’s interesting how close we are to our friends here, yet we don’t see them but 4 months out of the year. Lisbon may feel lonely compared to here. I feel though it is our duty to share our music with as many people and as many places as we can, when we still have the desire to. Maybe at some point we’ll settle down, but we’d have to prayform more than 3 days a week in order to retain our sanity. San Diego feels more like a time of rest in relation to the rest of our year. From the middle of May through November we’ll be prayforming 5 days a week in Lisbon and New York City, which will equal to 130 prayformances! Most professional opera singers don’t sing as much as we do.

Forrest invited us to his birthday dinner on Friday. That will be fun. I told them I was feeling like I was getting sick. I went in the house and did a nasal cleanse, gargled Apple Cider Vinegar and took 6 Vitamin C, then I lay down to rest. I took a long, hot bath and got in bed again. My throat felt horrible. Eventually I got up at 9:30 and ate dinner before writing my blog. My throat felt better. I fucking hate getting sick! I hope it passes quickly!

A Really Slow Day

Saturday March 28th 2015

It was a beautiful day today, but a slow prayformance for us for some reason.

I was listening to “Phantom of the Opera” on my iPod on the way to the park. “I think I’ll always love Phantom.” I said. “Yes, you will.” Thoth said.

Our friend Les came to see us. “You’re always changing your look. You’re a living work of art.” he said to me. “Your light skin makes the colors pop.” I was flattered.

God I'm so pale.

God I’m so pale.

Della came to see us again, but she had to leave halfway through. Les stayed to see some pieces from the opera. He had listened to it on our website already. We selling lots of downloads of our albums online. It makes me happy that more people can hear our music.

We had a really big audience for the first two pieces, including tons of children, but then it was empty until the end. During Thoth’s solo’s, a man came and sat right near Thoth. He was very loud and aggressive about how much he liked the music. “I’ll turn off my music.” he said loudly taking out his iPhone and turning off his very loud music. He put a tip in the case and then almost came at Thoth saying loudly, “I like how you sing high and low.” Thoth was still singing, then stumbled away. He was either drunk or on drugs. It was very disturbing. The things we deal with while playing in public. We played “Pentagram” and “Sea Expressions” and had a nice crowd to finish up. A couple talked to us when we finished. They were curious about where our music was created. “Your music is haunting.” the wife said.  “Like the Phantom of the Opera.” the husband said. “Wow. Really? That’s a big compliment. I love that show!” I said.

Talking with the couple.

Talking with the couple.

I was disappointed with the day. I got really pessimistic as we packed up. “You should take that to Broadway.” someone called to us. It’s interesting how hard I get on myself and then someone says something like that.

After the prayformance.

After the prayformance.

The sunset was so lovely. I wish it had been a better day.

Simply Too Hot

Friday March 27th 2015

Our friend Behin came to visit us at the house this morning. We talked for an hour, then she watched me do my makeup. She had to meet up with a friend for lunch, but said she would try to stop by the park later to see us. I wore a new skirt a friend altered for me. I have so many new clothes!

It was an extremely hot bike ride. I was exhausted when we got to the park. As we stopped at a light, a man crossing the street said he loved my outfit. “The bike too? Do you go out like this all the time?” he asked. “Yes.” I said. We saw our friend Della waiting at the bus stop to come see us and waved at him. He stayed the entire 2 hours watching us. We barely had any audiences all day, but it didn’t bother me. We played through the opera and Behin showed up to watch the last few pieces. She even danced with Thoth on his solo. At the end, I told Della we would have stopped earlier if he hadn’t had been there. Just having one person watching us helps. I totally understand why today was so slow and I didn’t take it personally. Even though it was hot, I got cold as we played. Our spot where we play is always breezy.

Thoth trying to take a picture of me.

Thoth trying to take a picture of me after prayformance. 

We stopped at the grocery store and I waited while Thoth went in. A man started speaking to me, asking if I saw the 11 go by. I said no. “You look amazing.” he said taking a look at my costume. “Very sexy.” he said. No one has ever said that to me before, and definitely not without sounding creepy. He was genuinely complimenting me and wasn’t objectifying me. It made me feel good. I don’t consider myself a sexy person. “Am I sexy?” I asked Thoth. “You’re seductive.” he said. “But not all the time.” I said. “No, normally you’re cute, but sometimes you’re seductive.” he said. “Look a princess.” a man said to his daughter. “I’m getting a lot of attention today.” I said to Thoth. 

Even though I dress like something that might be considered a fairy or a princess, I feel very different inside. I feel I am more like the Phantom, but I’ll never look like him. I used to dress in dark clothes and dye my hair dark colors, but I’ve embraced my love of lightness, though I still have that love of darkness inside me.

Rude People on the Internet

Thursday March 26th 2015

I wrote a blog about our arrest from 2009 yesterday. One person left something sarcastic on my Facebook page about it. The person mocked me saying, “Oh you’re the next Rosa Parks!” I don’t understand why some people are so rude on the internet. I’ve learned that not everyone is going to agree with me or like me, but it still hurts. The person would never say that to my face. The internet allows for people to behave rudely without their actions being accounted for. I don’t know what makes someone feel compelled to mock and demean me when I share a traumatizing experience openly. I’ve learned over the years that I can never make everyone happy. I will offend people even if I don’t mean to. I try my best never to insult or demean or judge others. I don’t really know what others are going through, nor do I know the effect my words will have on them. People are constantly bringing down famous people for everything, even though they don’t know them at all. Being myself and living the life I live causes envy for some people. I’ve learned to be strong, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely unaffected by people’s rudeness.

I’ve received two dresses in the mail the past two days I didn’t buy myself. Who is buying them for me? They’ll definitely come in use as prayformance dresses for the summer.

Our sponsor Sarah was happy we’d found a seamstress and said our costume sketches are “just perfect.” That made me happy.

I think it will be a fun weekend. We’re going to see our old friend Behin tomorrow morning before we go to prayform. Della Kate Flower said she would try to come to the park to see us tomorrow, too. Behin said she’ll come to our prayformance on Saturday to see us. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence spring picnic is on Sunday. Forrest is going to pick us up so we can get there a bit early to socialize a bit before playing. The sisters have our prayformance at 3pm listed as the special entertainment. A few of our friends are coming, too. I’m excited to sing and play and dress up tomorrow.

My Perspective of our Arrest in 2009

ANGEL TUNNEL IN CENTRAL PARK, Sunday, July 12th, 2009

A few weeks before our arrest, we had seen “Quiet Zone” signs around the area banning instruments and boom boxes. “But we are instruments.” Thoth said. Both Thoth and I found the signs ridiculous. Why would the Parks Department suddenly decide to make Bethesda a quiet zone he had been performing there for 10 years? No one had ever bothered him before, so why now? We continued to prayform as usual. Some of our friends even moved the signs. No one was going to stop us. We did worry we’d be harassed or bothered by the police, though. One day as I thumped the foots drum down the stairs as I usually did. I could see something was going on in the tunnel. Thoth was there, but someone was speaking to him. Thoth hushed me. He told me that the park rangers said no instruments were allowed. We knelt down and discussed what to do after setting up. We decided to sing sitting without the aid of our instruments.

A crowd began to form around us. “Should we play?” Thoth said to the audience. “Yes!” the crowd cheered. There were police all around the area, so we knew something would happen if we played, but we did anyway. Prayformance is our right to freedom of speech and religion.

Just as we began spinning our spirit catchers, a male park ranger came in my face and yelled at me to stop. I was terrified I’d hit him with my spirit catcher but I ignored him and focused on the Angel on top of the fountain. At that time, Thoth stopped for no one, no matter what the consequences. I was terrified, though, and sweating and boiling with anger. How dare he try to stop us from singing? They could be doing so much better with their time, like arresting drug dealers or criminals! The man continued to tell me to stop. I put down my spirit catcher and began to play the open chords for “Anya.” I could hear Thoth was doing something behind me, but I didn’t know what. I was facing away from him. Later I learned he had put his violin down. He stomped his bell laden foot on the foot drum so violently it made me jump. He then began stomping rhythmically on the foot drum and dancing while we sang.

I kept my eyes focused on the Angel, willing her to give me strength to continue and boiling with anger.

Despite that Thoth was full of rage, too, he gave me space to sing. I could feel his anger coming at me from behind. It was palpable, yet I knew it was focused on the park rangers. A huge crowd had gathered around us. I don’t know if they knew what was happening, but some did. When Thoth finished, he was knelt on the foot drum with his head on his hands. I was in such a state of shock, I moved to put down my violin as if nothing unusual was happening. The male park ranger who had been yelling at me to stop grabbed my arms and placed them in handcuffs. The female ranger handcuffed Thoth as he knelt. I felt like a martyr. I was a fearless warrior for my art.

The audience began to boo when they saw the handcuffs come out. “Call the police!” someone yelled in our defense. I could see some of our friends move forward to ask what was going on, but they were stopped by the rangers. “Not just freedom of speech! Freedom of expression!” someone else yelled. “Amen.” a man responded. We were led towards the back of the tunnel. Within a few moments, Thoth began to sing. His voice was full of  anger and passion. I immediately began singing with him, in harmony no less.

The park rangers led us up the stairs and Thoth stopped his bells in rhythm. The female ranger tried to pull him off as we sang together. It really hadn’t sunk in that I was in handcuffs, so I was pretty light about it and smiling to him. Thoth looked at me snarling with anger as he sang. He couldn’t believe we would be treated like this. As we were taken away, I could hear the break dancers playing there boom box. Why did they come after us and not them? They put Thoth in one ranger car and discussed putting me in another. “We’ve done nothing wrong.” I said pulling away from the ranger. “THOTH!” I screamed. “They’re going to put us in separate cars!” I suddenly got very scared. They talked with Thoth asking him to stop singing, which he did and they put me in the car with him. My handcuffs were so tight, it hurt sitting against the seat. On the way to the station, which was in the park, the rangers insulted and humiliated us trying to find justification for their behavior. I was agreeing with everything Thoth said. “Why can’t you think for yourself? It’s as if you’re in a cult.” they said. WTF? I was so angry.

At the station, I jumped out of the car and was being silly. “Stop that.” the ranger said angrily. I realized that once you’re in handcuffs, you no longer have rights. They took us into the building and placed Thoth in a barred cell and cuffed my hand to one of the bars. It was like we were criminals. Thoth sat on the bench in the cell and crossed his legs underneath him. He looked beautiful with his long dreads framing his face. He looked at me and helped calm me down. The female ranger said she was worried he wouldn’t stop singing. He laughed, which hurt his ears because the space was tight and resonant. The ranger asked me all kinds of questions. She thought at one point I’d run away from home. WTF? We were released after 5 hours with 3 summons (disorderly conduct, failure to comply and blocking a public space) and were due in court a month or so later.

They had dumped all our prayformance equipment (including our violins) into two large garbage bags. We had to sort through them to make sure nothing was damaged. They had not taken the hand truck which we used to carry the foot drum, so Thoth had to carry it on his head as we walked back to the Angel Tunnel. I was still shaken up, but glad to be out of the handcuffs. Later I had bruises on my wrists. I listened to my voice messages. My sister had called several times. She had come to the park to see us but when she saw us gone and heard we’d been arrested she wandered around looking for us. Poor thing. I called her back to tell her we were ok and I’d be home soon. Many of our friends were waiting for us at the tunnel and asked what had happened. We got the foot truck and I went home to tell my sister. She was so scared for me.

You can watch the video of the arrest if you haven’t already.

Over our two days off, a few articles went up about the arrest, but nothing big. My involvement was minamalized, as I wasn’t as famous as Thoth. I was scared of going back to the play in the tunnel on Wednesday (the arrest happened on Sunday) but we did. As I walked through The Mall towards the Bethesda Fountain, a man said, “Did you hear Thoth was arrested?” “Yeah. I was arrested, too.” I said, feeling annoyed. Thoth and I sat in the tunnel for a while and a few friends came to cheer us on. Eventually we got the guts up to play a few songs and weren’t bothered. We continued to prayform as usual until our court date without any problems. It was as if nothing had happened. I was sure all the charges would be dropped.

We found a pro bono lawyer through a friend who took us to court. The court building was full of vagrants and ne’er-do-wells. It seemed we were the only decent people there. I’d never been in a court before and didn’t take it very seriously. I was innocent. My mother had been worried I would dress inappropriately in court. I wore a tight fitting skirt and a strappy top as I did back then. It was hot out. No one said anything. We were the first to be called to the stand. Two of the charges were dropped for their vagueness, but the the third was not. Our lawyer was insistent we were good people and didn’t deserve to be charged. We had another court date set for a month later, and the third charge was dropped. Hurray! Our lawyer said we’d have a %50 percent chance of winning if we sued, but we were planning on leaving for Europe in a few months, so we decided not to. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we did.

Our friends came to the park to cheer us in our victory. Our official photographer Dan Rubin got some great shots of us posing with the “Quiet Zone” sign. We were both thrilled and relieved. I hope that clears things up for everyone!

Photo by our friend and photographer Dan Rubin.

Photo by our friend and photographer Dan Rubin. Caption by Dan.

I think this is a perfect example of the unjust treatment of performers in the world. I don’t regret what happened because it drew Thoth and I closer together. Thoth has helped me become a warrior for my art. We were arrested in Barcelona, too. That wasn’t as scary, but our instruments were taken and we had to pay 400 euros to get them back. How fucked up is that? I think Thoth and I should be supported for giving our art freely to the world, not harassed and put in handcuffs.

I was looking at pictures and videos of myself from back then. I called myself Pink Angel. I was a wild child. My hair was in a bright pink mohawk.

Not the most attractive style I’ve ever had, but it had a wonderful edgy look to it and made me feel wild. It was a time of self exploration for me. I was trying to figure out who I was in prayformance and in my life in general. I don’t regret one choice I made.

No regrets. You gotta do some pretty wild things if you’re gonna truly be yourself.