Anniversary party TONIGHT at Knudsen’s Ice Creamery in Castro Valley – also Susan Maciak speaking in Chicago, and book recommendations


Our anniversary party/networking mixer/reception for our artists, authors, and dynamic world-changers is tonight, drop by between 5 and 10 pm at Castro Valley’s Knudsen’s Ice Creamery! Please feel free to bring business cards, flyers about your work, recommendations of favorite books, etc.

Susan Maciak, whose book Finding a Job That Doesn’t Suck was reviewed in February’s issue, will give a presentation September 13th in Chicago related to her children’s book, The Monster Show. She’ll be at the 57th St. Book Fair on the University of Chicago campus, email for more information.

And now for Editor’s Picks…what is your editor reading? First off, I’m in the middle of Sarah Dunant’s Sacred Hearts. Dunant’s tale of an unwilling young nun in a medieval convent populated by smart female physicians, witty heiresses, and a politically shrewd abbess reveals an incredible amount of historical research as well as a clever, quirky sense of humor. Recently spoke with Dunant at Towne Centre Books – over scones and choral chamber music – she has the educated, sassy, forgiving personality I expected, and a new book reflective of that.

Also in the middle of Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun – which ironically celebrates America while pointing out its flaws. Eggers is a master at taking themes which might be pedantic or boring in the hands of other authors and creating readable, suspenseful novels where you actually care about the distinctive characters and laugh at humor in the midst of tragedy without getting lost in the flashbacks as everything is seamlessly connected. He’s also dedicated to promoting literature and creative writing for teens in diverse environments and celebrating the art of language. Zeitoun relates the tale of a Syrian painting contractor and his Muslim convert wife and their children, and how he rescues people in an old wooden canoe after Hurricane Katrina, only to be wrongly imprisoned…and how he retains his hope and patriotism when finally released.

Also Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees…a lonely South Carolina girl and her black nanny/best friend find home and solace and encounter divinity in the home of country beekeepers and honeymakers. Clever turns of phrase, goes near enough to magic realism to infuse the piece with beauty but stays realistic enough to contain human, flawed, true-to-life, and simply fascinating characters.

Would definitely recommend any of these three books – please feel free to comment with any of your own! If you’ve finished a great book recently, please pass it on or donate to your local affiliate of the International Rescue Committee for people just learning your country’s language.

Call for Submissions – San Jose’s Works Gallery Fall Show – Queer Response to Recession Survival



The South Bay Queer Arts Project (SBQAP) and Works/San Jose Gallery present “That’s So Gay!” A Juried exhibition that is a queer, comical response to the economic downturn in San Jose and the South Bay-


“That’s So Gay” is both a funny and cutting response to the dire straits that individuals and organizations are experiencing in the current recession. The show is a humorous-light-hearted- comic look at survival in tough times. Laughter brings together community and community creates sustainability. Join Us for two great gay weeks of art, comedy and music.

“That’s So Gay” will benefit Works/San Jose and the Billy De Frank
Community Center.


Up to 5 submissions/images in jpeg format, **ENTRY FEE $25.**
Guarantee of at least one work accepted (provided the work addresses the theme of the show).


September 10th 2009 7 p.m. PST


1) up to 5 jpeg images no larger than 1200 x1200 pixels, 72 dpi with written slide list description of media, size and year made.
2) brief statement describing how the work relates to the theme of the show.
3) contact information
4) Entry fee
(make checks or money orders payable to Works/San José)
5) mail or drop off submission at
WORKS/San Jose
451 South First St.
San Jose, CA


Artists will be notified of accepted work by Sept. 12th, noon(PST).

All work selected needs to arrive at the gallery by Sept. 17th, 2009.


The SBQAP’s mission is to create opportunities for Queer artists in the South Bay. The SBQAP is made up of queer artists, educators, non-profit professionals and activists who live and work in the South Bay. Join Us for two great gay weeks of art, comedy and music.

September’s Synchronized Chaos – Mythmaking: Creating Meaning through Narrative


Welcome to September’s issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine! This month’s theme changed and evolved as contributions arrived, as people created diverse works of writing and visual art exploring the broad questions of the universe and the details of people’s daily lives. Eventually we realized the common thread was the exploration and articulation itself: weaving whatever happens into a narrative or piece of art, making sense of different value systems and sources of meaning through our own interpretive creations.

South Bay artist Landkee creates collage art, a medium which lends itself literally to the juxtaposition and interchange of various styles and representative objects. Landkee’s style, as self-described, focuses on form and color and the principles of aesthetic composition, while specific ‘meanings’ are expressed rather abstractly. However, the process of creating a collage in itself involves beginning at the end of the path viewers’ eyes will naturally follow and arranging objects ‘backwards’ from that point…symbolically what humanity does when making sense of our world, looking at what is in front of our faces and then tracing back to to piece together how and why we arrived at that point.

Poets Thomas Park and Danielle Searby discuss the process of conscious mythmaking and highlight the need for artists and storytellers and people in general not to take the easy way out by reiterating others’ ideas without critically examining these values. Searby critiques modern Americans’ excessive dependence on culturally defined mass media and stereotypical cultural/gender roles through conveying the weary weight such unexamined values leave upon our bodies and minds. Park celebrates writers who look beyond the styles and fashions of their times to create or consciously adopt their own work and value systems as part of a poetic grouping concerning courage and heroism.

Canadian painter Larry Azoth brings together various time periods and worldviews in his composite surrealist work “Fate.” We see a magician/astronomer looking through a circular window at skyscrapers and Saturn, a junction of the modern, post-modern, and pre-modern, of faith and reason, philosophy and poetry, science and nature, Earth and the cosmos. Nothing seems faded or out of place here, everything exists as a part of a comprehensive homage and acknowedgement of the values and ideas which have brought us here. The title “Fate” suggests a destiny not completely under our conscious control…which has a ring of truth when we consider the multilayered influence of past narratives, values, and scientific discoveries. Park and Searby admonish us not to simply repeat our culture’s amalgamate of values without careful consideration, while Azoth reminds us of the rich history and multilayered context of ideas we may think are completely our own. Many people are to an extent products of their times – not necessarily a negative phenomenon in itself, but a reminder to acknowledge and consider the sources of our values and personal narratives.

Cynthia Lamanna praises the beauty of forgiveness in a short piece – linking the decision to move past another’s wrongdoing to a variety of natural processes and identifying the act as one of kindness and morality. Forgiveness can be taken as a way to overcome the cognitive dissonance brought about by our not living up to or perfectly understanding the values we so often advocate. The process allows us to re-integrate people into our communities and create an understandable internal narrative for our own actions without becoming paralyzed by contradictions. For example, we can still value integrity without forever shunning a respected person who once deceived us, and we can find language to make sense of our own vacillations among value systems and types of behavior.

Lamanna also applies this broad, humane approach to human nature and relations to the late Michael Jackson in another of her poems. Jackson is not viewed one-dimensionally as simply a talented singer and performer, a controversial figure, an unusual personality, or someone with medical problems – he becomes all of these at once and a more complete human being. That is one of the strengths of forgiveness (not speaking specifically of Jackson here but of humanity in general) – how the process allows for others to change, to rise above our limited concepts of them, to not have their entire personhood defined by some action of theirs of which we disapprove.

A refusal to forgive is one form of looking at people and events through a limited perspective, and ritualization of past events through celebrations and pageantry can also provide a stilted, inaccurate view of those events if we are not careful. Patsy Ledbetter describes Christmas through the eyes of a professional-level musical performer…with rehearsals beginning in September. She writes of all the work which goes into a theatrical presentation, and all the fear and stress that went into Mary and Joseph’s original journey, which we so often ironically attempt to recreate perfectly and spectacularly. Ledbetter wonders how much the audience will grasp of the cast and crew’s labor and of the significance of the original historical event – but ends her poem on a hopeful, rather than cynical note. The beauty of the narrative and the fact that the story remains told to this day provides a chance to touch audiences with the transcendent message of the tale. Even if they do not literally feel or understand everything which led up to that particular moment, they are still in attendance and still have a chance to learn and celebrate something beyond the everyday. Their experiences thus become part of the larger Christmas narrative, and the cast and crew have the honor of allowing them to transcend time and space to join in the celebration of humility and love.

Didacus Ramos relates a vignette from his family’s history, how he raised the funds to purchase a pet hen, christened Henriettta. The cultural references and details make this piece about much more than a boy and his pet chicken…we learn here about the Portuguese cultural influence on California suburban life, about the ethics of peaceful, quiet family life, hard work, and discipline. From the first paragraph where he references Saint Didacus, the author turns the story into a piece on culture, faith and family, on how brothers and sisters and parents and children learn to relate to each other and on the potential for a friendly, domestic relationship to the natural world.

Reuben Rutledge presents the cultural and religious practices of Indonesian islanders through his academic essays, illustrating the nearly universal human tendency towards myth-making and narrative generation. The indigenous peoples presented developed their own ways of understanding their world and making poetry and meaning from their experiences, as the Dutch colonists developed ways of understanding (and manipulating) the native people. Through his academic focus of study, Rutledge asserts that value systems and beliefs have real value and importance, and can and should be examined along with more tangible aspects of daily life.

These contributions all reflect high levels of thought and consideration, and we at Synchronized Chaos invite readers to approach them with a similar level of curiosity and analysis.

Poetry – Danielle Searby


Modern litter
TV haze- such a healthy glow.
Holding you captive, to kill you slow.
Comatose, sedated colour tube.
Coke and McDonald’s begin to collude.

Building for obsolescence.
Robbing the mind and creating allegiance.
Selling your soul to the highest bidder.
The concrete machine presses even more litter.

Perfect Wife.

Blood looks like motor oil,
engines choke and fall apart.
I cough on your fumes.
Servitude looms.
I’ve wrapped my legs around you
and cleaned your bones of all your marrow.

The engine comes to a grinding halt.
Standing tall becomes my fault.
Years ago I must have asked for all
the clean dishes I have passed.

The gears never change,
the growling engine threatens to derange.
All you touch becomes mine.
I’ve cleaned your body, your house and your mind.
For some reason I look under my skirt
and find engine oil and all your dirt.

Danielle Searby may be reached at and welcomes comments, feedback, and interest in the publication of her writing.

San Jose gallery open to new season of emerging visual artists!


Works/San José is currently looking for artists and curators to fill the calendar for 2009! If you are interested submitting a proposal for an exhibition or performance please contact to have a proposal application sent to you!

There are also great benefits to becoming a member of WORKS/San José! Your membership allows Works/San José to continue to provide artists and curators a place to challenge and expand the established opinions of art and art making. You receive reduced fees for any event with a charge and the opportunity to exhibit in our WORKS/San José Members Exhibition that takes place once a year!

To become a member visit:

Reuben Rutledge on the religious and philosophical beliefs of Java’s Wong Tenggar peoples




        The period between the late sixteenth century and the seventeenth century was one of warring in the Eastern Salient of Java. In 1628 the Dutch defeated them. The Eastern Salient was conquered in 1640.  In the 1680’s Madurese and the Makkasar rebels joined the Trunajaya rebellion. Dutch forces pursued these into the mountains of Tengger. These mountains contained some of the last Buddhists to resist Islamization. This marked a hundred years of political violence in Tengger. The most important of these rebels was Surapati. After being defeated by the Dutch he fled into the East Java. He was killed in battle in 1706. In the Tengger Mountains the Dutch continued to meet resistance. In the 1760’s Tengger fell to the Dutch.

       In the early nineteenth century he Dutch would change the demographic of East Java. In the lowlands surrounding Tengger the Dutch created rich sugar plantations. Many of these were run by traditional landowners, but there also was the presence of large plantations needed a landless worker. So the Dutch imported Muslim Madurese to operate these plantations. But this sugar crop could not be grown in the dry, arid highlands of Tengger. Many of the lowlands move inward up to near where the Wong Tengger lived.  Coffee production proved to be a very successful crop.

       During the late nineteenth century the Dutch took great interest in the Tengger religion along with the advancement of Islam. The preference towards Islam was because it was an organized political force. This was hoped to oppose the rebellious nature of inland Javanese. One problem that developed was a growing presence of Islamic fundamentalists that opposed traditional Javanese customs. This proved to be a problem to the Dutch.

           Because of this the Dutch began to pay more attention to the Tengger cultures. This began during the last decade of the nineteenth century.


Reuben Rutledge is finishing a Ph. D. at California’s Institute of Integral Studies (San Francisco.) He may be reached at and enjoys intellectual intercourse and local San Jose art galleries.

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Religious Traditions of the Nias Islanders – anthropological essay by Reuben Rutledge


Nias Islanders


      Due to their connection with Indian Hindu culture, the Nias islanders have received considerable attention. This culture bears a great resemblance to the Nagas of Assam. The Nias stone culture does date later than the Nagas. There are stone fortresses, paved streets, and stone step ways. Stone memorial monuments are erected to great feasts. Unlike mainland Sumatra, icons appear in abundance. Linga (phallic symbols) are the most common. Icons are made of clay, stone, and mostly wood.

      The Southern Nias believed that the world originated according to a certain story; at the beginning there was no world, only chaos. Chaos split and a goddess emerged who created the world along with another primordial goddess. This goddess begat two pairs of twins. The child that ruled the sky had a wife who begat a human child. This child was completely round, without hands or feet.  The child was cut in half so that one part was male and the other was female.

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