The Dichotomy of Doom & Hope

Liss Victory back tattoo

I never felt unsafe in my country until after 9/11. Just “coming of age” as a teenager, I was more consumed with angst than world politics, I assume. But that event really changed the whole world. And when I set about building the art for the master canvas of the human body that is my back, that feeling of doom and endless war inspired it.

The two towers in the foreground are meant to represent the Twin Towers. It’s subtle, as the scene also encompasses a feeling of post-apocalyptic helplessness. Over the years, I’ve felt consumed by many personal wars: suicide, depression, anxiety, abandonment, abuse, etc. Conversely, over the years, many of my friends and loved ones helped draw components of this overall piece (which remains unfinished and this photo is too old to show newer elements).

I drew the two characters at the bottom. The girl represents myself, and my feelings of inevitable demise. The riot cop… well, I never really identified who “he” is, but perhaps he is another reflection of myself. “He” (always thought of him as a man) is trying to save the girl, who is resigned to the destruction. Maybe he reflects my hope. That even with bombs falling, even with our “endless regime change wars,” we can still fight.

Perhaps I’ll title the final piece, “The Dichotomy of Doom & Hope.”

To quote a work of art I greatly admire, “I can’t say I’m very pleased with where my life is just now… but I can’t help but look forward to where it’s going.”

MPLS & genuine authenticity

I’m sure he gets this a lot, but maybe Lee Camp brings that out in people – inspiration. I don’t have many people in my life doing the kind of work I want to do and the way I want to do it. But he agrees to share a stage with me and has always treats me with remarkable kindness, better than many other people, sometimes even much better than folks in my music scene.

To be honest, I generally feel quite alone in my industry. I’m frequently passed over, although not completely ignored. There’s definitely a boy’s club and a feminist counter response. I tend to feel out of place in both groups. I really only feel at peace amongst the misfits, and we often don’t make it on the mainstream Morning Joe shows (not to say never).

Enter: Lee Camp. His part in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the fact we were both in Zucotti Park, makes him feel like family to me. He worked his way up in NYC comedy clubs. And now he has his own cable comedy news show, talking about subversive shit on a subversive network. That’s some admirable shit.

I often feel alone in my art. Or I feel like the only person I know (currently and personally) who works on my level is my husband, Krish Mohan. I feel real weird that the folks I admire are comedians. Not to say I don’t have musical influences in my life who played a huge role in forging my sound and who I am. But those folks are not on the road with me. No. My tourmates are a couple of comedians.

However odd it seems, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that Lee Camp shares a stage with me or really shows any interest in what I’m doing at all. But I see that gratitude reflected in the way he treats his fans with genuine kindness and interest. I’m grateful that my husband includes me in his life and his adventures, and that he really values and champions my music, as well as my ideas and goals.

And I’m grateful for what I see as genuine authenticity, compassion, and brave activism at least somewhere in the entertainment industry. Being able to see that onstage, on television, and over a drink and a chat at the bar, makes me feel like there’s still hope for entertainers to maintain their humanity and make a real difference in the face of the machine.

I’m thankful to know and work with Lee Camp and Krish Mohan. And I care about them both as friends, and “colleagues.”

~ thoughts from a great show at Mortimer’s in Minneapolis, MN: July 20, 2019
Photos by Emma Leigh Fiala

Join us for an auto-rickshaw ride!

Whoa! One of my favorite parts of India is the convenience and versatility of the auto-rickshaw (which I like to call tuk-tuks for some reason. Maybe it is Wes Anderson’s fault). I shot this video in Mumbai. At our home base in the neighborhood of Chembur, as well as our trip to Bandra, the rickshaws are ubiquitous like NYC yellow cabs. But their versatility is unparalleled! These little go karts are the conquerors of urban India’s roadways! As well as an authentic and adventures way to travel and view the city. I had heard the traffic is otherworldly, but you don’t know it till you live it! And crossing the streets? Well, there’s a technique to it. And it’s def not legal in the States. Haha! Take a ride with us! See if you can spot the cow!

Arrival: Bengaluru

Culture shock? Not really… After over a year of preparation, research, reading, and engagement with my new family (குடும்பம்- kutumpum), this environment looks, smells, feels, and definitely sounds (honk-honk) more like the realization of a dream. In my first few days in urban India, it seems like everything I love about the city, condensed, with its very own flavor and array of specialties found nowhere else in the world.

ISKON temple, Bengaluru

After “defeating” jet lag, as Krish put it, we woke bright and early at 5:30 a.m. to go to the Balaji Temple and ISKON temple. It meant so much to accompany my new family to pray at these truly glorious centers of worship. I’m grateful to feel accepted into and be a part of these ancient traditions.

The saree is one of the world’s oldest form of clothing. I find them simultaneously glamorous and elegant.

Enneku santhosham.

At home in Bengaluru on the jula.

Gokulashtami!!!

Gokulashtami at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago.

Also known as Janmashtami, Gokulashtami is an annual Hindu Festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the 8th avatar of Vishnu.

Release Week

This is it.

The culminating moment of my musical life, cut to vinyl, crafted from my heart. It feels like I tore the arteries out of my body and used them to string my guitar. Then I set about recording the noise and presenting it to the people like some kind of carnival display.

Well, I feel like I’m on the Rollercoaster – all adrenaline, excitement, and fear. Listening to the click of the chain on the tracks. Coming up closer and closer to that crest.
We’ll barrel-roll down that first hill and it’s gonna be a hell of a ride.

This is it.

The most important thing I’ve done thus far. In my whole life, really.
The “Kodachrome Heart” vinyl record.
This Friday.

This is it.