Synchronized Chaos May Issue: Finding Your Place in the World


Friends, family, and fellow-travelers, welcome to the May issue of Synchronized Chaos! Happy Mother’s Day, Feliz Cinco de Mayo, and congratulations to all the students on the semester system graduating this month.

As a gentle reminder, a whole bunch of us contributors, Creative Facilitators, and outside writers, scholars, business people and industry experts have been brainstorming ideas, values, and business/publicity models for this magazine to help us succeed as a publication and provide a service to the community as a whole while furthering the goals of each contributor. Everyone’s welcome to share thoughts and give their input into these conversations…please go ahead and leave a comment to this post or in the ‘About’ section if you would like.

What we’ve come up with so far is that Synchronized Chaos is a joint publicity and social marketing effort that runs on honor and mutual respect. People submit work and get published, and then come back to see how their work related to the other artists’ pieces and the monthly theme. They then get to see everyone else’s work and get to know the other artists and writers.

After awhile the exposure and networking helps contributors land jobs/gigs/agents/publishers etc. We here love to let professionals and everyone know about Synchronized Chaos and all of our contributors, and take plenty of opportunities to talk up everyone’s efforts.

Once someone we have featured comes across a new career opportunity as a result of our group networking, we definitely encourage them to drop the names of a few other artists featured in Synchronized Chaos to spread the word and network on behalf of each other. And, if you come across something not directly relevant to your own work but which might be great for someone else, please do take the time to email the other contributors directly or just email the magazine at and we can pass on the word for you. For example, if you write free verse poetry but happen to know a gallery owner taking prints for a landscape or abstract exhibition, please pass the word on to our visual artists! This will maximize the flow of opportunities and help make participating in this magazine effort worthwhile for the artists and writers who take the time to send digital images, get interviewed, create pieces, etc.

Now for our monthly theme – Finding Your Place in the Universe. This month brought in a wide variety of submissions in many different formats. For the first time we have a graphic artist, a poet, musicians, short story writers, and a filmmaker all in the same issue. One thread common to many of the work was the desire to be heard and acknowledged, and the right to live as one chooses without unnecessary interference. There was also a sense that the world is a large place, with room enough for everyone if we are mindful of each other.

A home, physical or metaphorical in terms of membership in a group, can serve as the proverbial first random stroke across the canvas which gets the painter started. One begins to build a life in response to one’s surroundings, making the most of whatever opportunities present themselves, working within the constraints of whatever it takes to survive in that or another environment. We see this process among the community of people influenced by Berkeley ‘street survivor’ Yume in Claire Burch’s film, where he and others take part in a subculture which aims to be supportive of all living beings even while facing challenges to personal dignity in their own lives.

Not every subculture fosters respect for all life; some groups of outsiders build identity or attempt to defend themselves against injustice or discrimination by turning against others. A group may become exploitive while being exploited itself, which performance poet and essayist Dee Allen comments on in his selections. He writes of minorities victimized by a fear-driven, media-driven culture within the general society…yet also critiques trends within minority subcultures which lead to replicating the same kind of fearful over-generalization and isolation. One can and sometimes must stand up and speak out to demand one’s rightful place in the world – but with awareness of the larger context of one’s actions and of other groups of people seeking acceptance.

As we have seen, finding or maintaining one’s place can involve many levels of struggle. Maryann Lerch and Ned Mock’s short story “Chance Meeting” highlights the power of one or a few quick choices to throw someone out of a carefully constructed home/place/lifestyle. This proves true for people across the socioeconomic spectrum, and it can take another lengthy process to rebuild what was lost, if that is even possible. We have some freedom – but also the blessing and curse of responsibility for our actions, in a very real as well as existential sense. Also, our homes/places/identities can be fragile and uncertain…the potential downside to having the ability to change one’s situation.

Where, and how, can we find a sense of belonging and community without creating a structure which isolates people into competing subgroups or traps them in situations they wish to change? Claire Burch’s film presents a relatively open, yet cohesive group of acquaintances…and the bandmembers of Alma Desnuda touch on this question when they explore the spontaneous community formed among a diverse crowd at a rock show. People can respect each other while working or having fun together in the moment, without the pressure to change each other or do everything the same way. Perhaps spontaneous communities can be a starting point for longer-lasting associations? Also, the development of any band involves finding its own sound, something unique while acknowledging its influences. Alma Desnuda has found its own place in the musical world with a nod to the music of the sixties and seventies and the San Francisco culture.

Finally, some of our works celebrate and highlight the concepts of home/place and belonging through non-literal artistic expression. Nigerian writer and engineer Emmanuel Nwodo acknowledges that God has created all living beings, and thus welcomes and has a place for each one. Finding one’s place, and allowing others to take their places, can begin with acknowledging through philosophy or faith that we can all belong here. Since there is a place for everyone – it could theoretically be possible for you to find your own place. California graphic designer and writer Kristie also celebrates finding a home through art centered on nesting as a metaphor…creating a home by creating a space to help others find their places in the world.

Very impressed by the diversity of submissions and by the ideas explored – thank you to everyone who has followed the Synchronized Chaos journey!

He Made All Things – poetry of Emanuel Nwodo




Emmanuel Nwodo is a Nigerian poet who writes in his native language and in English. He can be reached at

Artist’s Statement:
My name is Emmanuel Ikenna Nwodo. Born at Agbani in Nkanu West L.G.A of Enugu State, Nigeria; May 27th 1987 into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Bethland Nwani. I am the fifth son of five. My father died when I was six months old. Before he passed on, he was a butcher, though with formal education. He was diagnosed with poisoning and … well the dead are dead. I had my primary education partly in my village (COMMUNITY CENTRAL SCHOOL EZIOKWE AMURRI) Then rounded up at OGBE-ORIE PRIMARY SCHOOL ASABA, THE CAPITAL CITY OF DELTA STATE, NIGERIA. Which was also where I began my secondary education ST. AUGUSTINE COMMERCIAL SCHOOL ASABA and then I rounded-up at KINGS AND QUEENS COLLEGE UBIAJAH, EDO STATE, NIGERIA in the year 2005.

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Dee Allen: Autobiographical Essays from an Activist’s Life



_____________________________________________________                                    I’ve been against this military occupation of Iraq before it began. I’ve always been strongly anti-state and anti-military, since my seniour year in high school. “President Bush had already committed troops to Afghanistan”, I thought, “And now he wants to start another war in the Middle East.”


        Before coming to San Francisco from Atlanta 5 years ago, I never went to any protests. The extent of my political activity was doing politically-charged spoken word at houseparties, coffeehouses, nightclubs and “open mike night” at bars. In January 2003, I went to my first street demonstration ever. It was in opposition to Bush’s plans [or rather, the Project for a New

Amerikkkan Century’s plans] to invade Iraq. Acquiring petrol and United $tates political/economic dominance were the reasons why the Bush-Cheney regime wanted another war and I was in the streets, with literally thousands of aggrieved folks, resisting it.


               Despite scores of anti-war demonstrations across the globe [including the February 16, 2003 2000-person breakaway march that led to my summary beatdown, arrest and week-long stay at San Francisco County Jail], Bush waged war anyway. The people’s voices were ignored. On the rainy afternoon of March 19, 2003, while playing houseless tourguide to 3 visiting Kansas University students for the Coalition On Homelessness, I attended a massive anti-war march.


We joined the march from a Food Not Bombs public serving under a blue coffeestand canopy in United Nations Plaza. Once the march stopped in front of 24th & Mission B.A.R.T.,  a pickup truck parked sideways in the middle of Mission Street, to serve as a makeshift stage. Three speakers each stood on the back of the pickup truck to deliver the same news to the public:



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Dee Allen: Poetry to be Read and Heard


Dee Allen is a California performance poet who speaks out on a variety of social issues, from war and race relations to security and state control over citizens. He explores the role of individual and collective fear in separating people from one another and enabling the continuation of injustices and group prejudice. In Dee’s work, the mass media, intentionally or not, can help create a climate for violence against and negative treatment of certain minorities by presenting material in a context which is likely to leave people feeling powerless, afraid, and defined by limiting stereotypes. In contrast, his work explores how fear and isolation as social constructs can be seen as the true enemies, rather than members of any particular race, ethnicity, or minority or majority social group.

Dee may be reached at and lives in San Francisco. He enjoys speaking live and has performed at a variety of charity events, including a Food not Bombs benefit last March in the Mission District.



The man who prays to the East

Is not my enemy.

Neither is the person

Who wears a cloth upon

Their head or face out of tradition.

Neither are those who arrive here

From arid desert lands.

The family that attends

Mosques and worship Muhammhad & Allah are

No more a threat to me than

The middle-aged shopkeeper whose

First language is Farsi.

The Palestinians & Afghans do not terrorise

My neighbourhood and the

Lebanese do not make the streets on my block

Unsafe to walk through at night.

The Egyptians do not occupy my home or any

Amerikkkan’s homes with their

Presence, uniforms, weapons & neo-colonialist law.

Critical thinking is under attack at

Higher learning institutions besides mine and

It’s not the Syrians who are kicking out

Instructors one by one.

The Iraqi people

Aren’t deserving of my detestation & rage.

One Fallujah*

Is not enough.

All of the Middle East’s progeny did not

Make war with me or grab the land beneath my feet

Or called the petrol within it theirs.

The Middle Easterners & Muslims did not

Stage outright bombings, shootings and jailhouse

Torture on me in my town.

But that’s what

The United $tates have done to them.

Again & again.

The real Fascism is homegrown.


W: 10.25.07

[In response to “Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week”.]

*A city in the Al-Anbar province of Iraq, where an anti-colonial rebellion took place against the U.$. military’s curfew over the area. On April 31, 2004, after U.$. troops opened fire on Iraqis at a closed-down school 3 days earlier[resulting in 17 dead and 70 wounded], Iraqi rebels fought back by attacking a convoy and dragging & burning 4 Amerikkkan military contractors from Blackwater.





Red line

Separates you

Where you stand

From another race of man

Red line

Separates you

From what is vital

To your own survival



Scorned by the rest of the world



From one another

No line should hold you back [ from what’s needed ]

Just step over


W: 8.31.08

[Inspired by the music of Godflesh.]



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“A Chance Meeting” – short fiction by Mary Ann Lerch and Ned Mock


Mary Ann Lerch is a Northern California financial analyst who loves aerobics, faith and family, and probing the mysteries of human psychology through her writing. She may be reached at and seeks publication for her short stories, including this piece, which she co-wrote with Ned Mock.

A Chance Meeting – by Maryann Lerch and Ned Mock

Folding himself in the large first class seat Harry yelled, “Up, up and away. Flying is great, so fast and safe. Excuse my manners, I’m Harry Hopkins and you are.”

“John Adams.”
“I’m going to Miami, how about you.”
“Miami,” John replied with a slight tremble.
“That’s great! We can have a three hour visit. Take off time. I’m buckled up and ready.”

John nodded but said nothing in reply. The plane left O’Hare and John held tight to the armrests. His knuckles became white. Holding his breath, he leaned forward.
“So what about you? You got business in Miami?” Harry inquired.
“Yes.” John looked out the cabin window.

“I live in Chicago. Going to Rio to sign a contract on a large suspension bridge. Been working on it for a year. Guess you can tell by my banter I’m a salesman,” Harry said hurriedly.
No response from John. He looked out the window at the disappearing skyline of Chicago.

“My friends call me Butch. At the office I’m HH249,” said Harry
“Mine is 14117.”

“Why did you hold on to the armrests and hold you breath on takeoff?”
No response. John picked up a magazine.

Finish the story here:

Interview with the Southern California band Alma Desnuda


Alma Desnuda is: Paul Suhr, Tony Glaser, Chris Bryden, Joe Glaser

1.      What distinguishes you from other musicians…what do you feel makes your sound unique?


I think the biggest distinguishing factor of Alma Desnuda from other musicians is our connection to something bigger than amplified notes. Alma D is all about the music, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more than just sound. We use music to connect to what’s around us, like our friends, families, and community, as well as each other and especially this Earth. The music is our connection to that Alma, the soul; we just try to breathe into it.Our unique sound flows from our individual influences and styles into an eclectic harmony, which I think our upcoming album, Middleway, will show. It’s all Alma.

We get a lot of inspiration from the San Francisco Bay, our home, where icons of the Woodstock era, like the Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel, CSNY, Santana, CCR, Sly Stone, and so many others came together and inspired generations to come.

 The parallels between then and now, with the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam, and now our own deterioration of community, consciousness, and the increase of unjust war, creates a fire in our beings that finds an outlet through the connection of music. In that context, I think you could say we’re continuing that conscious revolutionary spirit in a fresh San Francisco sound.


2.      Where do you get your song ideas? Share more about your process in composing. Music or lyrics or concept first? (As a writer I tend to start with a concept first.) 

(Chris) Song ideas strike anywhere and anytime. I let them emerge at their own pace. Sometimes it’s a lyric that comes, sometimes a melody, sometimes a riff. Each song is it’s own creation. My only job is to stay open and listen. Topically, I am drawn to write songs that weave the personal and universal together and that challenge the listener to wake up and see our lives through a larger perspective. Mothers are scolding children all over the world, people are falling in love every day, someone finds their life looking up while another loses a job.

Everything is in constant flux but operating under universal themes. The more I dive into my own experience and pay attention to others’ lives, the more I see that we are all working  with the same experiences and emotions. Writing about those experiences through a personal lens brings relevance to the songs and allows people to connect with universal existential issues through Alma Desnuda’s particular frame of reference.   

3.      Did/do you have a mentor with whom you worked to develop your music?

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Fantasy dream painting, “Nesting”


Nesting - graphic produced in 2007

Nesting - graphic produced in 2007

This graphic design piece, produced by an artist native to California’s
San Francisco Bay Area, represents a fantasy dream where the author explores and examines the subconscious, both in and under water, finding a strong desire to nest (the egg) and ultimately create new life.
You may contact her at – she would love to hear from other artists and her work is available for purchase.

Review – the Claire Burch film Yume: Elegy for a Street Survivor


The late protagonist of Claire Burch’s film Yume: Elegy for a Street Survivor’s chosen name comes from the Japanese word for ‘dream.’ In the same spirit, the entire piece conjures a dreamlike, imaginative feeling, more reminiscent of a coffeehouse open mic on a summer day than a traditional funeral service.

Starting with the atmospheric opening sequence, the movie shows us Yume’s life and times in Berkeley through the effects he has had on people young and old. Viewers learn of Yume through a series of actions and images narrated by background music. His friends burn a dollar bill, illustrating his gentle detachment from the material world, and pass around his last pack of cigarettes. At other times the music disappears and we watch officials and others interview those who knew the elderly Yume, who passed away in a hospital from respiratory distress.

Through filmmaking techniques such as tilting the camera for unusually angled shots, zooming in on small groups of people, and using offscreen voices to represent those outside of Yume’s normal social circle, the piece conveys a sense of how it can feel to live as part of a subculture. These people have their own chosen friends, family, and home, into which people from other walks of life (coroners, reporters, doctors, etc)  drift periodically for different reasons and who may or may not understand the lives and values of the city’s ‘street survivors.’


There is no one ‘narrator’ – groups of people tell the story piece by piece, laughing and thinking as they remember incidents from the life of this educated ‘Buddhist hippie’ who created art while sparing the lives of insects in his path. And it is this laughter and the diversity of personalities represented which prevents this piece from becoming melodramatic. The documentary is nostalgic and poignant, but finds space to celebrate life while acknowledging the loss of the protagonist and so remains a watchable human story rather than a polemic.  

This film came across with a spirit of gentleness and true tolerance – encouraging respect for the dignity of other living beings without being preachy. At a length of 45 minutes and expressed through normal language, Claire Burch’s Yume: Elegy for a Street Survivor is highly accessible, fun to watch, and recommended for all audiences.


Claire Burch’s website:

Further film and contact information:

Elegy for a Street Survivor (Yume)

Color / sound / 45 minutes / ISBN 0-916147-82-7

This piece follows the strange memorial that takes place after Yume, a
homeless man who had been a “Buddhist hippie” dies of respiratory
distress. His friends gather to perform odd rituals such as passing out
his last pack of cigarettes, burning money in his honor, etc. As their
feelings and tributes are expressed, the little knot of street people
begins to take on the aspects of a Felliniesque procession. A
fascinating addition to annals of contemporary sociology as well as an
absorbing tale.

Davis Bike Church (free bike repairs/free lessons in bike repairs) is still functional and seeks help this Sunday the 19th to move into its new downtown location!


Repost – passing on the word from one of my personal favorite organizations from back up in Davis, the Bike Church. If you’re in town, come on out and support ecological sustainability, community building, and good times! The Bike Church is a group of volunteers who help people fix their bikes, or teach them how to fix bicycles if they are interested…and Davis, California is known for protecting our environment by having a culture which encourages people to ride bicycles for short trips around town rather than driving cars (it’s difficult to park many places there, so bikes are practical.)

Subject: Please Help Us Move Downtown THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON!!!!!!!!

The Bike Church is making its next big leap, to a new location, new nonprofit status, and a new name, and we need your help!!! 

Come celebrate our NEW SHOP at 4TH and L STREET!

* help us move this sunday from 12-4pm,
* visit our new location in the coming weeks,
* make a donation to help us pay rent for our first year,
* volunteer with us and learning how to teach bicycle repair,
* tell your friends to come by!

If you’re able, come help us the day after picnic day from 12-4pm to move our tools from the Sustainable Research Area to 4TH and L.

Our new shop is now called Bike Forth!, and we are now known as The Davis Bike Collective, and you are now IN THE KNOW…

Bless up, Get Down, and Bike Around,

P.S.  Our grand reopening will be NEXT SATURDAY, the 25th of April

A few announcements, for friends and colleagues and international artists and their fans ;)


First of all, I attended one of the local Earth Day work-party events, the marsh grass watering and weeding in Union City/Hayward, CA at Eden Landing – today, April 18th from nine to noon. Found out our area is home to the endangered clapper rail/tiny salt marsh mouse and all about how the wetlands have shrunk over time and how they filter pollution and heavy metal residue out of the environment. Encourage as many of the Synchronized Chaos family as possible to Google/GoodSearch Earth Day events in your local community.

Also – shout-out to Oakland’s Montclair Neighborhood’s El Agavero – wonderful place that is about to host a Cinco de Mayo event Tuesday, May 5th with local mariachi bands. Beautiful restaurant, not too expensive, with authentic Frida Kahlo tequila produced in honor of the binational artist who ‘painted her own reality.’ The Lincart Gallery on Market Street (near Civic Center Bart) in San Francisco is also featuring photography of places/people related to Frida Kahlo and the enigmatic artist Man Ray.

Another announcement – passing on a letter from Fran Varian, social justice-oriented performance artist suffering from late-stage Lyme disease and part of the Synchronized Chaos family (if you have recurring flu-like symptoms, please ask for a Lyme test as this condition can be cheaply, quickly treated if found right away but can be deadly and unaffordable to treat if found late, as happened for Fran.) The letter concerns how to help her and others, and encourages people to make the most of whatever life is left to them:

Editor’s note, for those able and interested in helping Fran out, or reposting this message (and the letter is worth reading as the girl can write, even if you can’t spare cash at the moment!)

*She can receive donations online at:


Fran Varian
503 Carlton Ave.
Durham, NC 27701

My Very Dear (and Hella Pretty) Lyme Fighting Army:

Unbelievably, this thank you letter is close to five months in the making. I’d like to say that time moves quickly when you have Lyme Disease, but it doesn‘t. Time rolls together when you are chronically ill, long stretches of it with little to delineate a day in January from a day in late March, except for a bit more sun.

I had set out all of those months ago to thank you. I thank you multiple times each day but I wanted to offer a thank you that you could see, a proper thank you that you could hold onto and come back to; even point the misanthropes in your life toward as evidence that there is good in the world, and that it originates in you.

Recently a 27 year-old man in Maryville, Illinois walked into a Baptist Church and shot its Pastor to death. The man, Terry J. Sedlacek, has a very severe case of late stage, neurological, Lyme Disease. He did not start out a shoot ‘em up kind of guy, but once those bacteria screw themselves into your brain and get the opportunity to hang out for a while everything about you changes.

It is well documented that he did not receive the care he needed. Very few of us are actually receiving all of the care we need. But in the absence of an adequate or sympathetic health care system the support and belief of one’s community makes an entire world of difference.

I wish you could see yourselves from here. You are many beautiful colors, all sizes, most socio-economic groups, many different genders, and many different sexualities. You run the gamut from the healthiest to the strongest crips and survivors I’ll ever lay my grateful eyes upon. You live all over the country, and in Canada and in Europe. You have various, and sometimes opposing beliefs. Some of you are religious personnel and some of you are not so holy. I’ve known you for most of my life and there are those among you I’ve never met – and still you are my family. You are smart and funny and kind and compassionate and you hold me up – you have held me up for over a year now. On my very worst days when I am certain I absolutely can not endure another minute of this I imagine your faces, and I hold on.
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Spotlighting a fun way to get involved with a worthy environmental group, Save the Bay

Save the Bay – Earth Day Restoration Projects

Throughout the Bay Area

Save the Bay offers a chance to get involved by way of habitat restoration projects around the Bay Area. Check the Save the Bay website for additional details — and to learn more about the great work Save the Bay engages in everyday on behalf of our Bay Area habitat and resources.

These are small projects where people help plant native plants, clean up a beach, take a nature hike and learn about the wilderness while clearing trails, etc for just a few morning hours. Designed to bring people together while benefiting the environment all over the San Francisco Bay Area…there are projects all over in various SF Bay counties on various days.

I’m thinking of attending a few this late spring/early summer, if other Synchronized Chaos folks would like to join for a meetup and have coffee or lunch afterwards please comment and let me know!

an interdisciplinary art, literary, science, cultural, and travel journal