christmas needs to come early this year

Karl was vacuuming the carpet like I had asked him to do while I flummoxed and flumped the furniture all over the narrow living room, making way for the fake but, to our eyes, gorgeous and redemptive Christmas tree.

‘Karl, Jonah,’ Manfred, our third roommate, stood in his coat, shoeless, spooning food from a foam plastic container into his mouth with his fingers; he and his fiance Victoria had been out to dinner, ‘I know you’re both lonely but-‘

‘Ahem!’ Karl cleared his throat forcefully and held the roaring vacuum up with arms outstretched towards Manfred. A warning.

‘It’s only November-‘

‘Christmas needs to come early this year.’ I said it more to the window-sill I was clearing of grit and low-wage-bachelor debris (cigarette butts, mugs, bits of paper, ash, two copies of Mad) than to Manfred. Karl and I had already dusted the high walls with the broom and strung three strands of lights around the room, making a quadruple layer of them, so long did they stretch.

‘I don’t know about anyone else,’ Manfred was not to be ignored, ‘but I’m not even done eating my Halloween candy, and now, what? Guys. Guys?’

‘Ahem! Ack ack ack.’ Karl ran the vacuum across the floor and just shy of Manfred’s shoeless feet, coughing on the dust and dog-fur storm scattered by the vaccuum.

‘I even saw some trees today on the way home, alongside the FDR, that still had green leaves, guys. Green leaves!’

‘Christmas needs to come early this year.’

‘And just ask the dog.’ Manfred was insistent. ‘Look at him, look at Pressler Dog. Look at neutered Pressler Dog.’ Pressler wagged his tail upon hearing his name, mouth open in what could have been a grin but just as easily could have been obliviousness. ‘He hasn’t even started growing in a new coat of fur for the wint-‘

‘Ack ack ack!’ Karl, vacuuming the corner, coughed after a gust from the open window blew some of Pressler’s hair – a harvest we walked through and upon daily – into his face.

‘The window, guys, the window! The window is open!’ Manfred ran across the room and pointed to the window in mock but genuine earnest, miming a mime. ‘You don’t have a window open in Brooklyn at Christmas time!’

‘Christmas needs to come early this year.’ I bit my tongue and waited, hoping to relieve the rising tension within me with flatulence, which did not arrive. In my heart, as little Lord Jesus knew, I was making hilarious if very unkind remarks about not having just been to a bourgeoisie dinner having romantic and personalizing conversation with a woman who not only gave proletarian handjobs (good ones) but related in some way to the goodtiming but utlimately emotionless male (Manfred) standing before us shoveling some sort of meat and rice into his open maw with three fingers. The tree, I figured, would stand on the empty and rather useless souvenir box.

‘Come on, guys, I know it’s been-‘

‘Ahem! Agh! Ack ack ack!’

‘-a longer period of isolation, rejection, confusion and meals-for-one than any of us could have imagined, even in our most feverish, thunderous and howling nightm-‘

‘Ah God, ah God, ack ack ack!’ Karl was vacuuming his pant legs, which of course needed it, but also gave him something to embrace. It was, if not necessary, at least beneficial, in that he did not need any further succor from us, so we let him be.

‘Victoria and I walked through the park tonight-‘

‘Christmas needs to come early this year.’ I rapped on the window to make a noise.

‘-and the lawn, the grass was just thick with greenness-‘

‘Yack hack hack!’

‘Come on, guys!’

Pressler Dog, standing, put his head low to the ground as though he wanted to whimper in pity and licked Karl’s face, easily done as Karl lay huddled on the floor, face already awash in tufts of Pressler hair, stuck to streaks of tears and now to Pressler’s saliva. Karl had turned off the vacuum and was spooning the appliance, which was at least two feet shorter than he.

‘Guys,’ Manfred warily eyed the decorations we had taped or stapled or hung from the walls, including the Christmas Ghost, which our married and departed former compatriot and roommate Derik had made two years ago from tissue and dental floss (to cinch the head and give it form), ‘Guys, we’ve barely finished celebrating Columbus Day and not even close to the celebration of the Pequot Indian massacre and you wanna-‘

‘Away in a manger – ack, ack – no crib for a place to sleep-‘

‘Karl, really.’

‘It’s a bed, Karl,’ I said, ‘no crib for a bed.’

Pressler had uncerimoniously crumpled himself onto the floor, his tail in Karl’s face.

‘Go tell it on the – ack, ack, agh! – mountain-‘

I harmonized.

‘-Over the hills and everywhere.’


‘Jesus Christ you guys.’

‘Jesus Christ is born,’ we finished in harmony. ‘That’s right, Manfred. That’s right, Karl. Go tell it on the mountain. I’ll shout it from the windows!’

‘Jonah, you don’t even like Jesus.’

‘Christmas needs to come early this year.’

‘-holy night – agh! yack, hog! – all is calm – … – utz! – all is…‘

‘Bright, Karl. All is bright.’

‘He’s gonna lose it on the virgin part.’ Manfred chewed the last of his leftovers loudly, swishing the food down with beer.

‘I’m gonna lose it on the virgin part.’

‘Me, too,’ Manfred said.

I stooped and retrieved Karl, slinging his left arm over my back like a wounded Hollywood soldier carried from a battlefield. Manfred clasped Pressler Dog’s front legs and walked with him – sort of inverted wheelbarrow style – and we harmonized in the November night, windows open to the chilly breeze and street illumination, somewhere up above our heads the dull Christmas star, which died light years ago, twinkling.



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The Day They Razed Our Town – new short story collection


JC’s new and first book of
short stories:
The Day They Razed Our Town.

Razed is a collection of miseries histories and comedies –
doggie daycare work,
Chelsea Manning,
first loves and last,
dental health,
New York,
watching your alma mater wrecking balled.

Stories included:

The Day They Razed Our Town

Smiling, USA


Sophia Sara Bednarczyk

It Was Me

Jesus’ Teeth

Taking Short or, I Love You, Chelsea Manning

Bedford & First


City Property

Mr. Drunk Driver


Jesus used to watch me.

Handjob at the Beach

Christmas Needs To Come Early This Year

House On Fire

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NSA Listening Party – Charity Case’s new CD!



a compilation

CD & online release from

Brooklyn For Peace


Charity Case

featuring the new single

we don’t want to live (in a surveillance state)

Featuring Songs From

charity case
(ft. moki marz)
chee malabar
dave lippman
gio safari
irka mateo
joe phillips experience project
john munnelly
raram de ny
raya brass band
veronica nunn
zap zap 4 ever

with 3 new music videos from
Charity Case:


we don’t want to live (in a surveillance state)

the only one



Where Available

Limited Edition CD available
suggested donation $2 – $5
to obtain a copy of the CD please email
contact us
if you cannot make a donation but want a copy
please contact us
or you can stream here
not all album tracks are available online
but the webpage has non-album:
music video links

and join us for our
CD release party
at Pianos
November 18th, 6-10pm
w/ Hollands!


NSA Listening Party started with the writing of charity case’s song “the only one,” and with these lyrics:

                    they’ve got my calls and letters recorded since i was born

                    sometimes i say ‘hello’ or write them but they never write back

                    they’ve got all kinds of ways to make you think you’re the only one

                    and i won’t be the only one

We wondered: who else would join us in a musical reaction to the Snowden leaks and the beginning of the unmasking of the surveillance state?

With Brooklyn For Peace, we found 14 artists, all but 2 Brooklyn-based.

We wanted the content and attitude and perspective of the album to be true to Roger Waters’ promise: “If I’m in I’ll tell you / What’s behind the wall.” If you find out even an inkling of what’s happening, let everyone know.

Giosafari affirms the role of the artist in his song “Sing At the Top of Your Lungs”:

                    What’s the reason in the schools the arts are first to go?

                    Well, you know, it’s we the artists’ job always to show

                    the way things are; we artists must choose never to ignore

                    the violence, incompetence, injustice, endless war.

John Munnelly sings of the mental madness of being held back from knowledge:

                    Life today has too much dis-information

                    distract and distort from the ills in our nation

                    feel dis-empowered, have a sense of frustration

                    ‘bout things they don’t want us to know

Dave Lippman seems confident and hopefully not quixotic in his tribute “The Interdictedcalle”:

                    Arise ye pris’ners of surveillance

                    Arise phone callers of the earth

                    For Google swipes your information

                    Of privacy there is a dearth

And Spiritchild is on lyrical fire with “Surveillance Society (Free Tarek)”:

                    Beyond tap phones and emails.

                    Coded text red flags And details.

                    They don’t need that.

                    They’ll take your grandma if she utters the fact “something wrong” Handcuffs slap clap.

                    . . . . .

                    We good at letter writing we good at freedom fighting.

                    This song is my post card stamped delivered.

We can’t say how many musical genres are on this compilation: jazz, rock, pop, raram, folk, rap, hip-hop, balkan folk, traditional, antifolk, indie, psychedelic . . .

                    Hey Kids, what do you say?

                    We don’t want to live – in a surveillance state.





check out our 60-second radio spot for the album!

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christmas cut-ups

auld lang syne

should old acquaintance we kissed on the constance be forgot

and never brought then danced through to mind

should old acquaintance have yourself a mention be forgotten

and days of auld land though i know i sang syne

for auld lang syne, here comes the jacket my dear

for auld lang syne what are you doing

we’ll take a cup o new years eve kindness yet

later on we’ll see

what you are doing



came in eighteen to the night as we dream by

i’ve got a feeling little christmas you to face unafraid the

so happy christmas question in advance and days of auld

i love you, baby new year’s though glory days have gone

i can see a better time fire some true and our youth

when all our dreams plans that we’ve made more i’ll light your cigarette

when the band finished wonderland got on a lucky one

they howled for syne

sinatra was swinging have come and gone

all the drunks they passed its prime

my dear





christmas at midnight

christmas at midnight

bled, this Christmas Day,

perennial eyes

christmas wrapping tableclothes

seems like old times

it is a good omen that

do you hear what i hear?

the bells on christmas day

when the bells all ring and the horns all blow

christmas day is in our grasp

possibilites to make

burden of past years has

out of the air can reach

wake up. it’s christmas




To each I wish a happy Christmas

To each I wish a happy Christmas

maybe I’m crazy to suppose

men and women so

tore open the shutters and threw up the sash

while visions of sugar

wondered whose arms will hold you good and tight.

Stern test. Our past will. When it’s exactly

twelve o’clock that night

danced in their heads.

Away to the window


And the couples we know are fondly kissing.

He had a broad face

gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below

to those cut off from

you received

out of a thousand invitations

but I heard him.

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

there arose such a clatter.

In case I stand one little chance

and I laughed

the moon among the missing. Then

giving a nod. Ooh, but I thought I’d

ask you just the same.





At holiday times there was more

holidays because everybody gave

up the shutters in the evening.

with a smile, and then

work as usual,

their getting married.

clear the snow from the roof.

kept away all the snow;




The Gospels

He gave the right to for the law was given they had heard and no one has ever seen God, made him known. and gone into heaven, the she.

This is how the birth of Jesus in those days Ceasar Augustus should be taken to see this thing that has happened be married to Joseph, but before the entire Roman world.

This was while Quirinius was through the Holy Spirit.

So Joseph also went up from Judea, to Bethlehem the Mary and Joseph, and the baby David.

There came a man who was what is conceived in her is from witness to testify concerning that when angels had left them are to give him the name Jesus, himself was not the light; he came another.

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and light every man.”

So they hurried off and found Immanuel.

Yet to all who received him, to them.

But become children of God – children shepherds returned, glorifying and he gave him the name Jesus. seen, which were just as they had.

Christ came about.

His mouth and the Word was with God decision or a husband’s will, but they came together. made his dwelling among us.

The Word became flesh and who came from the Father; without him nothing was life was the light of men.

He cries out saying, “This his, an angel of the Lord appeared understood, who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me not be afraid to take of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ. but God the One and Only who is at the Father’s side.”

from God; his name was Joe the Holy Spirit. She will give. But the angels said to unlight, so that through him all because he will save his people that will be for all the people. only as a witness to the light.

he is Christ the Lord. to the world. what the Lord has said through in cloths and lying in a man, and the Word was God. give birth to son. and the world was made through with us.

and they were terrified and she gave birth to bring you good news of great joy manger, because there the town of Nazareth in Galilee David a Savior has been to you to the house and line of you.

You will find the baby wrapped to be married to him and came for the baby to be born.

Mary was pledged to birth a son, and you in the beginning was the Word to be with child from their sins.

He was with God in the beginning righteous man and did not her quietly. the prophet. Through him all things were call him made.

In him was life, and that darkness, but the darkness has not spared him in a dream, because he belonged til she gave birth to a son.

And there were shepherds livin flocks at night.

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The first novel atop the Greenpoint Oil Spill

Boulevardiers: The Greenpoint Oil Spill

One week in New York City, 2006. A small group of broke gentrifiers and undocumented immigrants working doggie daycare at a glorified kennel. Some of them live atop the Greenpoint Oil Spill. They demonstrate, consummate, levitate, infuriate. Chasing the New York dream, chased by the American nightmare. Part of the Brooklyn Historical Society’s collection.


Purchase here.

pages: 273
September 2014

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#Justice4Cecily and Solidarity

Hundreds of people gathered in Union Square on Sunday, May 18th, in support of and solidarity with Cecily McMilan, the Occupy Wall Street protester who was recently found guilt of assaulting a police officer for protecting herself when a police officer sexually assaulted her. Cecily is due to be sentenced on May 19th, facing 2-7 years. Supporters in Union Square demanded with chants ‘No justice no peace! / Cecily must be released!’

The Rude Mechanical Orchestra played a series of songs and led chants, before the People’s Court used actual testimony from the court proceedings, as well as information that was disallowed by the judge, to show how clearly innocent Cecily was, and therefore deserves no jail sentence at all. Chants of ‘Innocent! Innocent! Innocent!’

Cecily’s caretaker spoke of how ‘being a mother is political,’ thanked Occupy and everyone assembled for standing with Cecily, and reminded us that ‘a revolution starts in your own home, in your own family, in your bed, in your heart.’

The event as organized showed the kind of intersectionality and solidarity necessary to build movements. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network sent out the event to their supporters and tabled; Copwatch Patrol Unit (CPU) was also there to speak reminding us to ‘continue to fight for justice’ for all abused by police brutality; as well as a member of Black Veterans For Social Justice who said ‘We are calling for Cecily to be released tomorrow on Malcolm X’s birthday!’

Chants of ‘Our passion for freedom / is stronger than their prisons!’ Then chants of ‘No justice no peace! / Cecily must be released!’ mixed with singing ‘Which side are you on? Which side are you on?’

Afterwards anyone from the crowd was encouraged to speak out about their experiences with the criminal injustice system, the prison system, and with police brutality.

Nearby supporters of the Zapatistas had organized their own rally in support of Zapatistas in Chiapas, and people elsewhere in Mexico, who are being run off their lands, kidnapped, and murdered by drug traffickers and para-militaries while the Mexican government turns a blind eye and deaf ear. The McMilan organizers asked the Zapatistas to come speak out to the crowd assembled in support of Cecily, and two Zapatista women spoke of what was happening in Mexico, and sang a short Zapatista song.

Cecily’s letter from prison in Rikers, read by a supporter, quoted Eugene Debs: ‘While there is a soul in prison I am not free.’ Which side are you on?




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May Day 2014 – NYC

Free University in Madison Square Park. Five or six classes going on at the same time in various locations on various benches marked with a flag labeled ‘A’ or ‘B’ and so on. We attend ‘Student Activism at CCNY in the 1930s: Lessons for Today’ with former student activist Carol from the Professional Staff Congress at City University of New York (PSC-CUNY). Carol has archived many fascinating images and stories on the Virtual New York City website.

               Carol spoke about the many large student actions through the 1930s, many of which were the first such actions by students in the country. She spoke about the National Student League which formed in 1931. Over the hour that Carol spoke she painted a vivid portrait of a time of great activism and public awareness of public problems and the role of the government in purposefully carrying out actions and policies that hurt people. She spoke of CUNY’s President Frederick B. Robinson, who persecuted students for political beliefs and expressions without relent, and among many repressive actions invited an official delegation of Italian fascist students representing Mussolini to honor the fascists on October 9, 1934. At the assembly with the Italian fascists the student audience rebelled and made their displeasure heard and felt; a fist-fight broke out on the stage; another couple dozen students were expelled, not unusual for Robinson’s administration. One expelled student, late in his life, had told Carol that ‘that was the best day of my life.’

               One of the audience members spoke of how during lulls in activism, like the last forty years, activists still need to struggle and to present to the world possibilities for changes that could be made, to keep the radical imagination alive in public consciousness.


In Union Square there were thousands assembled and assembling. A large portion of them were immigration activists advocating ‘ICE Free NYC’ and ‘Legalization for all’ and ‘Stop the Deportations.’ Elsewhere in the park were Occupy folks, Nestora Salgado activists, anti-charter school people, $15 minimum wage activists, Hammer & Sickle flags, Bob Avakian’s RevCom members…


On Broadway we saw the myriad horns that must be the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and followed them and hundreds of others to The Children’s Place, where activists used the People’s Mic to talk about how The Children’s Place brand clothing was one of the main brands made at the Rana Plaza factory that collapsed in ‘the deadliest disaster in the history of the global garment industry.’ The People’s Mic said that they had visited the home of The Children’s Place CEO, Jane Elfers, to deliver their demand that the company pay compensation to the families of the workers killed in the collapse – 1,138 people, and 2,500 were injured. So they decided to deliver their demand to a store location of The Children’s Place, the one on Broadway & 16th St.

               A few activists went into the store, followed by a stream of police. Out on the sidewalk we all chanted ‘From Bangladesh to NYC / Worker solidarity!’ before they emerged from the store and we crossed over into the northern end of the park to end the tour. The action was the end of the Immigrant Worker Justice Tour organized by Immigrants Occupy NYC.



The marches left from the south end of the park. We intended to march with those heading west on 14th St. who intended to stop at various fast food places and show support and solidarity with the workers inside. But somehow we ended up in the march going east on 14th St. then south town 1st and over to 2nd and finally down to Foley Sq. A permitted and heavily police monitored march. Police on their police-dirtbikes (or whatever they are) lining the outside of the march between marchers and traffic; police at every street directing traffic; police on foot in the street and on the sidewalks; police in a suit played the part usually played by march organizers by instructing us to not get separated and move along which of course made us not want to do that; police everywhere looking like they wanted the march to end as soon as possible so they could go home. To be so heavily surveilled and monitored for expressing political ideas gives the impression that the marchers are the ones who commit the most violence and harm in the society. What protester ever shot Kimani Grey? What protester ever invaded Vietnam? What protester ever dropped an atom bomb?



The news on May Day always has actions in countries like Thailand and Venezuela and India that make a march in NYC look like a power-sanctioned park-walk. But the marchers showed up. Made beautiful inspiring artwork to express the often repressed and oppressed and intangible longings for self-determination and equality: posters, signs, sculptures, banners, costumes. And of course the endless newspapers and flyers and leaflets; and the music of percussion everywhere, as well as a Rara band. On the brink of environmental destruction, ever-present nuclear catastrophe, the millions of deportations, the drones, they’ve got a weekly kill list meeting for Christ’s sakes – how could one not want to get out and try to do something to get involved on the good side of things? On May Day I love everyone as I do every day, but I love those who can and do decide to come out just a little more because they are here with me, trying to do something to make something better. The best of May Day comes the next day and the days after when the people who marched and the people who saw the march get together and organize something worth celebrating.




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Waste & Sacrifice

$1.2 billion in ammunition will be wasted by the military. ‘Wasted’ is not the correct word. It is their word. Those were bullets meant for the Godless bodies of the enemy. ‘Wasted’ would not be our word. Perhaps ‘sacrificed’ would be our word. Sacrificed to Molech. Sacrificed to the opposite of labor’s purpose and promise of improving ourselves and others. Sacrificed so that it might not be spent on empowering things for people.

From Orwell’s 1984:

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, of pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labor power without producing anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labor that would build several hundred cargo ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labors another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population.


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Gene Stavis, RIP

Handout received this sad news from filmmaker CJ Gardella, regarding the death of professor and film collector Gene Stavis, who was interviewed by Handout in 2012. CJ sent this memoriam in Gene’s honor.


My dear friend Gene Stavis has passed away. I regret sharing this news, but want to take a moment to share a little about him for those that knew him or maybe didn’t.

He LOVED film. He discovered a lost student film by Orson Welles at a library in Greenwich, CT. called “The Hearts of Age.” He confronted him over the phone while he was at a hotel in Las Vegas, “excuse me Mr. Welles, I have a film that belongs to you.” Welles: “It’s a fake, burn it.” Gene: “But Mr. Welles, you’re in it.” He worked with Henri Langlois at the Cinémathèque Francais in the 1970’s. Langlois asked him, “Stavis? Is that short for something?” Gene: “Stavisky.” The name of the notorious French gangster immortalized by Jean-Paul Belmondo. Langlois: “I knew there was a reason I hired you.” Gene served as the American representative for the cinémathèque and travelled with Langlois while he was in the states to accept his honorary Oscar. Gene got to meet the likes of Jean Renoir, Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Groucho Marx and many more. He said Parisians would often take he and Langlois for brothers. Gene would screen movies in his apartment from his collection of 2000 16mm film prints for everyone; a screening of “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T.” for the kids in the building or a print of “Little Caesar” for Douglas Fairbanks Jr. He was the end all of film knowledge and above that he was one of the most earnest, standup human beings I’ve had the privilege of knowing for the past 12 years. Our friendship began with Ernst Lubitsch. He showed me every Lubitsch print he had in his collection, including “Broken Lullaby” Lubitsch’s only foray into drama and allegedly James Dean’s first onscreen appearance. From there we became fast friends. We worked together to put legs under the SVA Theatre, Gene’s own cinémathèque!! His love was sharing films before an audience. It was his passion. He loved the splash of the movie studio logo on the red curtains as they parted to reveal the screen. He enabled me to make my own movies and fed me lunch and showed me movies when I was broke. I love the man and will miss him dearly. It’s not often that someone of such genuine originality and humor comes down the pike. He was a person of great humanity and wisdom.

Above picture: Gene (center) with Langlois & director George Stevens.  

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Snowden Interview Blackout in US media

In response to msmolly at Firedoglake and her piece: Over Easy: The New Snowden Interview Blackout

A database search for US publications shows just 1 result for “snowden” and “interview” since Jan26: WashPo ran a story on Jan27.

Yahoo News re-printed the AFP story (what? i know!).

NYTimes ran a review on Feb06 of The Snowden Files by Luke Harding without mentioning interview; same with review of the book on Feb03. The NYT Review scoffs at Harding’s claim that US media are ”deferential towards the president.”

Maybe print is ignoring the interview merely because “An English-language transcript was not immediately available” (as per WashPo)?

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