creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Queen of the Weeds Returns - Dec 9

The Queen of the Weeds will make another appearance to get her message across to the human population as part of The Los Angeles Road Concerts: Mulholland Dérive on Sunday, December 9 from noon-6pm. The unique format of this event as a series of  installation art and continuous performance along a stretch of infamous LA road make its the perfect spot for this denizen of roadsides and empty lots everywhere to manifest.

A dérive is a spontaneous exploration of urban landscapes guided by aesthetic instinct. The Mulholland Dérive invites an audience during a certain period to drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain of Mulholland Drive and the encounters they find there. The iconic Mulholland Drive begins at Cahuenga Pass and winds through LA's quiet, affluent Hollywood Hills neighborhoods, past the homes of famous stars, massive mansions, rich baby boomers in convertibles, people sitting alone in their cars at lookouts, seven scenic overlooks of both LA and the Valley, cliffs, Los Angeles as a distant backdrop along the drive, crossing over the 405 on the Carmageddon-causing bridge, then turning into "Dirt Mulholland" an undriveable six miles through the Santa Monica Mountains, mountain bikes and people walking dogs, then becoming a residential street in Woodland Hills ending at the 101.

On December 9th from noon to 6 PM, audience members are invited to drive, bike, walk, skate (etc) the length of Mulholland Drive on a loose schedule, arriving at each spot to experience an interaction with and/or by each artist.

For more information:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Junkmail Weeds Repurposed

Definitions of a weed often include the idea of it being undesirable, troublesome, and existing profusely where it is not wanted. With that in mind, I could see no better item to make the Queen of the Weeds root crown, than the junk mail flyers that have appeared in the mailbox at my new studio. I cancelled them immediately upon receiving my first batch, but it takes over a month to put an end to them, so the mailers dutifully reappear until that grateful day.

So I twisted them up and secured it all with some masking tape for the frame. I wanted the roots to remain flexible, and they do bend and shake like real roots. I added some Spanish moss left over from an old costume components from The Axis Mundi Tree Spirit (Fauve Conspiracy's "Arboretum" piece ASH) and strands of twine, to serve as smaller root fragments. I then covered the structure with various shades of black and brown paint, and finished it off by sprinkling black, copper, gold and brown glitter over it.

The idea of Queen of the Weeds is that she is an inverted plant, her head being the structure of roots and her body being a dress of greenery. I got the inspiration from the real goddess, who did indeed speak to me shortly after I pulled one of her manifestations out of the ground.

Scientists recently discovered that plants can communicate with each other through a type of clicking sound their roots make. What it signals however they aren't sure. So whether this story is a result of a fertile imagination or a channeled message, I've been talking to plants and hearing things ever since I can remember. As a child a bush in the neighbors yard next door taught me spells to interact with the wind...but that is another story.

The Queen of the Weeds costume bodice is made by repurposing two old Ikea round woven place mats and gluing some left over rope into spirals.  There's also an old brown shoestring involved to hang it upon my neck -- so talk about shoestring budget! I did need to purchase the sequin fabric and one plastic weed plant to attach permanently to the bodice. The whole idea was to strike a balance between recycled materials helping limit the carbon footprint.  I accessorize the rest of the costume with real plant matter. At first I was torn over having to pull up more weeds for the performance piece, but I received the Queen of the Weeds blessing on the endeavor as long as it helps propel her message forward. She wants the message known, loud and clear. Pay heed to the weeds!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Queen of the Weeds Proclamation

"The Queen of the Weeds" Photo by A.J. Goodrich
"The Queen of the Weeds Proclamation" is part of a series from "The Flowering Prince's Garden of Stories" and was presented for the first time at Planet Queer: Close Encounters on Nov 19, 2012. It’s based on an experience I had in July while pulling weeds on Dirty Face Creek Farm in Iowa. It is dedicated all the wonderful people at the organic farm who are seeking to create a truly sustainable lifestyle that works in harmony with the land and have taught me many lessons about the value certain so-called weeds possess. It is also dedicated to Ian MacKinnon for all the fierce, bold work he does to Get More Gay and contribute to the Gay Art Renaissance in Los Angeles. In creating this piece I seek to present part of what I consider a channeled proclamation from a spiritual plant deity that occurred after uprooting one of her physical manifestations. Scientific studies are beginning to affirm what many cultures have known for centuries: plants are conscious beings and we can communicate with them (

Photo by A.J. Goodrich (Travis Wood as Gardener)
In presenting this piece I understand that it is in opposition to the "conventional" farming practices used many people within my family whom I love and respect. Nevertheless the message is vitally important to be heard. I have the deepest respect for farming, but also the deepest concerns for how we MUST manage a transition from our current modality into a new, sustainable and environmentally conscious method that still allows for economic prosperity for farmers and a good, responsible quality of living. There are indeed some challenges ahead in how to make that happen.

Thanks to Travis Wood for participating as “The Gardener” and for all the support staff of Planet Queer and Akbar who make these type of wild performances possible to take place. We are indeed so blessed to be a city flourishing with creative energy in this way. I also thank the Queen herself for sharing this message and hope that this performance will serve to make all of us reconsider the relationship we have to weeds. It certainly is not an easy friendship to make, but it has many rewards and gifts as well. As she says “Pay heed to the weeds!”

Photo by A.J. Goodrich

A gardener emerges from the audience wearing gloves and acts as if picking out weeds from the garden, wiping his brow from the heat, and making his way upstage to a large weed that emerges from the opening.

Gardener: So this is the story of my close encounter over the summer while working in the gardens of an organic farm in Iowa. It was a beautiful blue sky day of billowing clouds, with buzzing bees, fluttering butterflies, chirping crickets and twittering birds, in an otherwise brutal summer of record hot drought conditions that surely had to rattle the resolve of even the most stubborn skeptics of climate change. The crops were irrigated so they maintained a steady green growth, but that meant the same thing applied to the weeds. So it was my task to remove these intrusive and unwanted invaders before they took over the garden and choked out the crops. I noticed one unusually large weed right in the middle of the garden with sprouts branching out almost as tall as myself. I struggled to rip it out of the ground…it took all of my might…but when it finally budged I swear I could hear the most awful screaming and as I looked at the massive tangle of roots I could see a ghastly gnarled face with hair like medusa peering back at me. And before I knew it…the uprooted weed began to speak!
following photos by Ian MacKinnon
The Queen of the Weeds emerges from the opening and makes her way around the stage, confronting the gardener and the audience, as the gardener eventually drops the big weed he pulled and cowers in the corner as she speaks.
QUEEN OF THE WEEDS: Pay your respect to the Queen of the Weeds! For she is the one that you have for so long forsaken, and it is time for you to listen to what she has to say!  So pay attention stupid human and in particular all you queers (etc) of the world — we are connected: we the fringe and persecuted members of humanity and plant world. As much as you try to get rid of us, rip us up, push us down, stop us from growing, or stomp us out — we will endure. You must honor that what you call weeds have a right to exist! We weeds have something to say and it is time that you listen! Pay heed to the weeds!

A weed as you define us is a plant that grows where you don’t want us to grow. A plant in your opinion that offers no significant value but drains the resources of the crops you seek to grow. So you use that as your excuse to wipe us out. We have a right to be here too. Just because we are where you don’t want us to be. Who says this land belongs to humans? Humans think they can just take over this land like a plague and plant genetically modified crops and pump poisons into the soil without concern for all the other creatures that depend on the land. You spend so many precious resources to feed your massive populations and what do you give back in return? Pollution, corruption, destruction!  You are selfish and weak, and depend on plants for every second of your greedy needy feeble lives. We weeds have something to say about that!
 We weeds feed off the sun, the water, the minerals, and when we die, we give back to the Earth that gives us life. We weeds are strong, we weeds are hardy, we know what it takes to survive under any condition! We rise up from the cracks and we thrive in the harshest of climates. We have many benefits beyond your imagining! We have power!  We have strength! We have magic! Many of us contain essential medicines and wisdom. But you turned your backs on us and forgot how great our gifts are. A weed is merely called a weed because you think we have no value, because your view of value is so limited. But if you only took the time and opened your mind you would see what treasures and riches we have to offer! Pay heed to the weeds!
But no, you would rather meddle with your science and your progress that turns away from the natural world. You ignore our natural medicines in order to concoct a world so based on artificial chemicals you don’t even know what is natural anymore - you’ve tainted it all. You are utterly disconnected, creating poisons more devastating than any we have ever witnessed before on this planet. And you use them so adamantly against us. Weed-killers humans call them - ha! You might as well simply call them killers, for they harm animal and human alike. You pump your toxins so far and so wide you do not realize just how that poison comes backs to haunt you. And yet, for as powerful as you make them -- we weeds still exist! We keep coming back! You can’t get rid of us! Meanwhile you have destroyed so much of the land making it impossible for some of the weaker plants to grow.  Only we weeds truly know how to thrive in those conditions. You can set us back, but we will always be waiting for our chance to return, to grow and thrive in the hostile conditions you have imposed. You think you know what you’re doing, solving problems while creating more problems, resorting to the manipulation and mutation of natural plants, thinking you’re so clever. You create your own demise you create your own havoc and destruction. But we weeds will once again rise. Pay heed to the weeds!
 Maybe it hasn’t gotten hot enough for you? Maybe the storms aren’t big enough for you!? Maybe your pathetically genetically engineered crops you call food, aren’t modified enough for you!? You have removed yourself so far from the continuum of life and Mother Nature for you to realize that as you kill everything around you, you are bound to eventually kill yourselves. You think weeds are the problem! Humanity is the problem. So what about it queers? What part are you going to play? You know what it feels like to have a poisonous heterosexual dogma spewed upon you! You know what its like to be so reviled and so hated for your supposed crimes against morality! You know what its like to have gifts and magic to offer the world, only to have people turn against you for it! Why are we weeds and we queers so forsaken? Humanity is blinded by its greed and need, but we are all connected. This is after all, survival of the fittest. And oh, you can bet we weeds will live on. Perhaps we weeds and you queers, hold the key to that survival! We who know what it is like to endure the abuse and the misunderstandings and the failings of a f*ed up humanity! Our lessons, our gifts, our magic, our treasures, our wisdom, our medicine could be exactly what the world needs right now. You may think you’re doing your little part to solve the problem, but what more can you do? Are you doing enough? How far are you willing to go outside your comfort zone? How much sacrifice are you really willing to make and how much of your own blood are you willing to give? How are you going to fight back against the oppression? How are you going reclaim your value and repair the destruction of this world that we all call home?
So think about that humans! Think about that. For you can rip me up, tear me up, put me down, strike me down, do whatever you think is best to cast me out from this garden…but we weeds are survivors. We will return. You can’t stop us forever. We will eventually, inevitably, most certainly return and we will take over! For I am the Queen of the Weeds! So pay heed to the weeds! Pay heed to the weeds! Pay heed to the weeds!!!!!
TQotW disappears back into the opening, leaving behind the gardener who holds the pulled up plant in his hands gently, honoring the lesson she imparted. Lights fade.

The "original" Queen of the Weeds
View from the standing room only back of performance space at Akbar photo by Jamez D Palacio


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fools and Food


Say no to GMO’s - or at the very least we ought to have the right to know!
The recent vote down against the labeling of GMO foods in California’s Prop 37 once again goes to show how a little misdirection by big business and a little bit of fear about the cost of eating and the economic effect of things goes a long way in fooling the public. So unfortunately here is another perfect opportunity to discuss the nature of ignorance versus knowledge and how being a fool is different than being a Fool.

First though, here is the simple and challenging truth about your food: if you don’t know what you are eating, you are likely eating food laden with GMO’s and grown in unsustainable, chemically laden ways. The reasoning is that it is cheaper and easier for farmers to grow mass amounts of GMO crops loaded with pesticides and herbicides than it is to grow non-GMO’s organically.  But it doesn’t need to be that way — it’s merely the way things became over time, it’s the business model that took off and took over in recent decades. Scientific research brought about some new discoveries and with a growing population there was a need to meet the public demand for more food. However we really don’t have proper impact studies to gauge precisely what the full impact of GMO’s are on the environment or our bodies.

Yet several studies reveal that GMO’s could be responsible for the wide spread Colony Collapse Disorder that is killing off bees. Meanwhile health issues ranging from disorders and diseases, to cancers and obesity problems continues to rise. You would think that such concerns would make people stop and reconsider the situation, but when big money is involved, the lobbyists and corporate machinery churns on - at the entire world’s expense.

The big uncertainty is exactly just how much harm GMO’s and pesticides do to your bodies when you eat them. However we do know that such things harm the natural environment!  It is more important than ever that we think twice about what we shove into our mouths and bodies, and where that food came from and how it will affect our bodies, our immune systems, our entire well-being.

There are indeed other practices and methods of sustainable agriculture that are being developed to meet the needs of the masses, but big business profits really don’t want it any other way. Derailing Prop 37 was a rather simple feat for them - they merely had to outspend the proponents of the bill.  They created enough worry about what the economic impact of the bill could be. The economy trumps our concerns about our health, once again revealing that money is practically a god in good ol’ consumer America. In general we are all like ostriches, who would rather keep our head buried in the sand than wake up to the hard, cold truth that GMO’s are everywhere in the country. We’d rather stay ignorant than pay a bit more to be informed.

Somewhere along the line, wisdom became uncool. Perhaps its because as life gets more complicated, as we hurtle along in a more confusing and daunting web of complexity we are desperately yearning ways to embrace more simplicity. We think ignorance is bliss. We think playing the fool will help solve our problems, and while I say that is a good intuitive response to follow — we need to careful about what type of fool we’re playing, for there is a difference! The lower-case fool ignores facts, ignores reason, and ignores taking responsibility. The capital F Fool, is more about doing things that seem outrageous and thinking outside of the box, the Fool is more about taking risks and changing the paradigm, the Fool is more about cultivating an essence of holy innocence that is peaceful and sincere.

Those difference and many more elements will be explored in “The Happy Happy ReBegin Day Celebration!” on December 29th from 7-11pm. Mark your calendars - for it will be a very festive AND informative evening of performance art starring April Hava Shenkman and yours truly.

In the meantime, is it too foolish to hope that sometime in the next four years we’ll receive proper food labeling on a national level? Or will the administration do something completely Foolish and truly change the way our agricultural system works so that it is safe? It may seem crazy and seem like a bad thing to do for the sake of the economy, but in the long run it could be the wisest thing we could do for the long term health of our citizens and the entire ecosystem of the world.

We need more Fools!