Monthly Archives: January 2009

a poem for facebook friends from back when

dear readers,

facebook and twitter, myspace and gchat, all umbrellaed under the terms: “new media,” and, “social media.” recently, on facebook (one time, at band camp), i’ve been adding folks who i used to see on the  othe rside of the four square blacktop at recess in the first fucking grade. this week i’ve been facebook messaging with a girl, now mother of twin girls, who i adored for the bookishness that belied her diffuser and blond rolling curls. her fam was the first ones i knew to get this clunky new thing called the internet. that was back when having the internet = aol.

facebook is great for the networking i do now. but its breathtaking for the way it holds the map of my youth.  public school, late 80’s and early 90’s, san diego, california, military suburb called mira mesa, diverse in race and class.

one dude from high school followed his dream and is playing pro baseball, traveling the world with his beautiful wife. a couple sisters from back when have little ones and no so little one. young mothers, it seems, adore facebook in that it helps them be external, during what is but what was not meant to be, a rather lonely phase.

as a poet, i’m not sure how to honor the tide of emotion that swells each time i catch another silver fish in the glinting new media net of my childhood past. but i figured something out last night as i sat down with two students yesterday after the first day of my one nighttime class, a workshop on the supreme court. we convened under warm overhead light, faces painted with shadows, heads together around the best starbucks table on park row, the one surrounded on all sides by windows to the street because where are you in new york without eyes on the sidewalk. together, we wrote. the italian american one suggested we write about history. her/his was the history of gender fluidity and ached with foresight. the other, african american, wrote a numbered list of the times her father said, i love you. her/his piece ended with a shot to the heart pivot towards racial analysis.

me, the third, indian american, penned a three part litany, including this ode to all the childhood friends ive added and wall posted like, “wow, facebook is a trip, right? how are you!? soooo good to be back in touch.”

remember back then: for facebook friends


if you like it, say: go big blue!

go! big! blue!

facebook can really bring you closer to history


who are you now

do you see who i am now

could you ever have imagined

that you would know

a me

have been so close to me



social media

new media

new phrases

but no real way

to describe

what its like

to click add friend

and remember back then

and recall again


the sweet smell of sweat

p.e. clothes and family violence

step practice and i used to love h.e.r

slamming like onyx through race relations

finding the beat of our own identities like the high school band

remember back then

and recall again

when we were all just dealing

being who we always and never

wanted to be


stay tuned for more from this product of the unfathomable american experiment, lol.


roopa singh

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the inauguration download

dear readers,

the chinatown bus from washington dc pulled into the bustle and glowing alleys of new york’s chinatown. i got my bags and watched the buzz of people, bags and flowers in hand, preparations for the new year of the ox well under way, burnishing the whole night scene a brilliant red gold.

i was in dc for the inauguration of president barack obama. climbed a pillar in the war memorial on the mall to take in the jumbotrons with a million other folks. do you know that people cheered and wept when the helicopter carrying bush out of dc arched overhead?

helicopter carries bush out of dc (photo by roopa singh)

from the mall: helicopter carries bush out of dc (image: roopa singh)

roopa singh)

inauguration day on the mall: she wasn't selling a damn thing (image: roopa singh)

here are some inauguration reflections, now that i’ve had a chance to download:

1. inauguration of self: people flocked to dc and the mall in multi-hued droves not just to celebrate the new president, but to celebrate themselves. here’s how you could tell: spontaneous connection. every metro ride, every time i was at the mall, i heard strangers talking to each other with warmth, jubilation, and trust. a warm sun of intimacy shone throughout the city, as though we were all at the wedding of close, close friends.

2. inaugurate life: why do we say we’re sitting “in front” of the tv, when in actual effect, we hide behind the tv? during inauguration, people showed a unique degree of willingness to experience life firsthand, and not just through the tv. a demographic of generally mid-western and southern, generally older, generally black, generally women was representing lovely in fur and obama gear. they were navigating a generally new city. walking for miles. standing for hours. in the cold. with little to no direction by way of bullhorns or informed dc city officials. getting this up close and personal with life is a real leap for many americans.

u street mural (photo by roopa singh)

u street obama mural (image: roopa singh)

3. artists for president: cultural artists are canaries in the mine for so many things. gentrification, a hunger for multi-culturalism. musicians lead through conveying energy, not through asking anyone to chose a side. in many ways inagural dc felt like the biggest sporting event in town, and the home team just won! so i thought the inauguration concert set a great tone, above all, flies music. our true bald eagle. (side note: can we vote for no more tethered eagle moments, so awkward and not a little ominous.)

4. come on people: most folks don’t know how to act when it comes to public transportation, even the glossy dc metro system. surging crowds + utter ignorance about subway systems = people getting their limbs hit, people falling onto tracks. come on people, how’s the country supposed to compete in a slumdog millionaire world when its a minor crises to get on a underground train?

roopa singh)

inauguration for sale: inaugurALE (image: roopa singh)

5. inauguration for sale: now that i’m back in new york, i kinda miss the kajillion advertisements co-opting inauguration that are plastered all over dc. a bear billed as “inaugurALE” covered every bus stop. a mexican restaurant’s sign read, “obamanos!” ikea dominated the metro system with cheesy plays on policy, “education reform now. start with a billy bookshelf.” it was like the capitalist version of cuba’s countless road signs, “patria o muerte!,” and “hasta la victoria siempre.” in a capitalist democracy, the moment of the sale is in bed with the moment of visibility. visibility, images, and words then engender an opportunity for unity. in cuba, the ads sell political narrative. in dc, the ads sell items, brands, and co-opt a barely born political narrative. but at least those dc ads give nod to the political landscape. in nyc, its nothing but the sell, sell, sell

roopa singh)

detail from busboys and poets menu (image: roopa singh)

6. to busboys and poets-much love and a lil advice: (shout out to busboys and poets owner/operator for checking in with me, i’m feeling the love.)  i LOVE busboys and poets. hip, daring, revolutionary book store, performance space, a dream come true.  except, the last time i ate there i got sick for two days off the food.  i know the kitchen was super busy during inauguration week, but getting sick is not cool.  a couple convos ive had with dc folks confirms a general sense that the food there is aiiiight.   honestly, busboys is the shiz-nit for people watching, book perusing, ambiance soaking,  event partaking, so i’d go to busboys for drinks and appetizers and call it a perfect night.

7. celebrity sightings: luminaries all over the place. i wasn’t even trying and i got up close and personal with mc lyte and senator dennis kucinich. and every time a stretch limo pulled up outside of bens chili bowl, the name “beyonce” skipped like a flat pebble over the crowded lake of mouths. the masses were so hungry for a celebrity sighting, one woman was prompted to start singing john legend’s “we’re just ordinary people, we don’t know which way to go.”

all in all, inauguration in dc was a blast. this post goes out to all the folks that didn’t get a chance to go. savor the taste, and i know you were there in spirit.

stay tuned for more,

roopa singh

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dispatch from dc: photojournalism essay and political poetry, “dc is.”

dear readers,

im in washington, dc for the inauguration.  photojournalism and political poetry combine in this post, to give you a sense of what it feels and looks like to be here, now.  feel free to use my shots, just give credit where its due.  check the technique.

photojournalism essay & political poetry: dc is

dc is desi visibility.

kal penn speaks, roopa in the crowd, desi visibility baby!

political poet, roopa singh in dc at the inauguration concert, kal penn on the jumbotron

dc is obama and progress and behind barbed wire.

progress behind barbed wire

obama, progress, barbed wire: mural in the u street district

dc is an almost beyonce sighting at ben’s chili bowl.

ben's chili bowl

ben's chili bowl

dc is dynamic eatery/bookstore/performance space, busboys and poets, far past capacity.

the inauguration special

busboys n poets: the inauguration specia

dc is taking in the incredible books at busboys and poets while waiting for a table.

revolutionary bookstore

busboys and poets: revolutionary bookstore

dc is inauguration for sale.


inauguration for sale: buttons

dc is ikea unabashed all over the metro, cashing in on regime change.

ikea's full court press

inauguration for sale: ikea's full court press

dc is “giddy” according to the washington post. dc is so scripted, except for bono.  dc is a perfect president, a nearly apolitical actor. dc is sirens and motorcaides.  dc is a baptist church’s inaugural ball for children posing in miniature gowns and suits on a red carpet with a life sized obama cut-outs.  dc is the peoples media center housing 20 with no hot water and tons of heart.  dc is a bald eagle, tethered, a raptor, captured.

i ran into a writer friend named clarence lusane at busboys and poets, and he described this new obama regime as as “a real page turner, but to be truthful, we don’t know whats on the next page.”

stay tuned for more: photojournalism and political poet dispatches from dc.


roopa singh

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