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October 2002


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For technical support for these newsletters, please e-mail: arachne@pantarbe.com, Attn: FOKUS Tech Support

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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

October FOKUS Sharing

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 4-6, 2002
Bob & Seiko's beachfront home in Ocean Shores

Please call Bob or Seiko ASAP
so that we can plan arrangements.
Bring a sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, kites, etc.
and let us know what time you will be arriving.

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Art Sharing
Sunday, September 8, 2002

Seiko Olson played familiar tunes on her kokarina (a simple wood flute made of wood from the only surviving tree after the bombing of Hiroshima). Bruce Taylor read his story "The Deposition" and some of his poems. Judy Smith read her article "When I Was Going Bald". Lida Sloan read her poem "Wonder". Pippin Sardo announced that she is costuming for the hit musical comedy just finished playing at the Seattle Fringe Festival, "Claudia Kelly's 500 Hats" and read an article from the Kirkland Courier praising the citizenship class that she teaches. Karen Stein shared the blessings in her life - "Good wishes for the art of a balanced day, a balanced life". Carl Sloan shared three of his light photo/art pieces, asking for title suggestions. Jennifer Diamond read her poems "Waiting for Permission" (reprinted in this newsletter) and "Happy Jewish New Year!" Bob Olson performed his storytelling monologue "Manipulation". Mike Monroe showed color slides taken in the Olympics. Roberta Gregory listened and enjoyed the work of others.

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Other Stuff

Our October FOKUS meeting will be in Ocean Shores, at the generous invitation of Bob and Seiko Olson. Their beachfront home has three bedrooms and bath with comfy-for-sleeping wall to wall carpeting upstairs, and one bedroom and bathroom downstairs. We are going to try something different for dinner on Saturday, a modified clam bake in a fire pit out in the yard, for which everyone is asked to bring his or her favorite item to be pit cooked or grilled - be it potatoes or chicken or clams or anything. (If animal, dead, skinned and cleaned. Advice about clam bake procedures, very welcome.) Bruce and Roberta have volunteered to produce their wonderful Saturday breakfast, so we will need only two more volunteers to plan, shop and stage manage Saturday lunch (preferences are usually for quick and simple here), and Sunday brunch before we leave. Kites are always good to bring, or sand castle making equipment or whatever else you like to do at the beach in October. Expenses for three meals, excluding our pot-luck dinner, should run no more than $20, and arrangements can be made for car-pooling if needed. So please plan on coming. We always have a blast.
VERY IMPORTANT - call Bob Olson to let him know you would like to come (425-747-3879), and if you would like to volunteer to manage a meal. Pippin will manage whatever food arrangements are not covered, so she would like to know ahead of time what to bring.

October l3, Bruce Taylor will be reading poetry at the Barnes & Noble in Issaquah, 3:00 pm.

Bruce Taylor will also be teaching a class on Hypnosis and Habit Control (Northgate Discover U, 6:30 pm, Oct. l0)

Bruce Taylor will also be teaching classes on novel writing and smashing creative blocks at North Seattle Community College, starting the first week of October.

Todd Christoffel and the musical group, Don't Ask, will perform, Friday, October 25, 8 to l0 pm at the Issaquah Starbucks, across from the QFC. (If coming from Seattle, Go I-90 east to the Issaquah exit #l4. Head south on State Route 900; turn left at the first light (Gilman Ave). Turn again when you see Starbucks --(maybe several blocks or so on your left.)

Todd will also be sponsoring a CD Release Party at a near future date. (Watch this space for further details.)

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial: l984 a Tad Delayed


Uh, well, Orwell got that right. Since we're going to be involved in a War on Terrorism for a long, long time at great price, well, this is going to be our Peace, I guess--a perpetual state of War. And now we're after Iraq--uh--lessee--weren't we just fighting a war in Afghanistan? Did we win? Did we capture what's his name? No matter. Old war. Old news.


Yes! Absolutely! And I know what a burden it is; that so many Americans think there is too much Freedom of Speech, or of Assembly, or attempts to Petition the Government for Redress of Grievances, just testifies to the enslavement people feel about having to protect their rights. Such an awful burden! So much work it is to insist on Freedom--especially when you know that the current government doesn't think an awful lot of positive thoughts about Freedom and seeks to help us deal with the awfulness of this responsibility by passing the Patriot Act. (The War On Civil Liberties, New York Times, 9/10/02, p. A-32) Be grateful. We're safer now that we allow our freedoms to be curtailed. I'd much rather someone else deal with these complex issues and it certainly doesn't apply to me. Besides, Safeway is having this huge sale on weenies and I gotta go out and stock up. After all, isn't that what real freedom is all about? The freedom to shop and to go to whatever store has the best sales? Life. liberty and the pursuit of--of--um--greed? Canned tomatoes? Damn, one can never remember. Oh, yeah, by the way, better make sure your art is politically correct. What the hey? Who needs freedom of expression anyway?


Yup, yup, yup. Can't argue with that. After all, what would happen to us if we actually got news that was objective and not a Corporate Product; what if we still had the Fairness Doctrine that made sure that you heard both sides of an issues, no matter what the political slant of the station? What would happen if people could really see all sides of an issue? What would happen if the federal report on air-pollution had the section on Global Warming left in place and not deleted? (Seattle Times, 9/l5/02, p. A-6). Or what would happen if religious groups couldn't buy up radio stations, hence knocking out lower budget radio stations that happen to be National Public Radio affiliates? (Seattle Times, 9/l5/02, p. A-8). Or, finally what would it be like if we knew just how much that oil was an issue in Bush's stance on Iraq? ("Inside Iraq: more than weapons. Vastness of oil reserves not known." Seattle Times, 9/15/02, p. A-12). Yes, indeed. Ignorance is indeed strength, for those in power, the Oil-garchy, and certainly for us. Who wants to know that maybe, just maybe, some of what this could be about has little to do with democracy or freedom but corporate power parading as "government" to get exactly what they want under the guise of legality but really, a "Pax Americana".

But enough. This really isn't anything new. In his book, A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, the Oligarchy has always been with us, and now it is place, in charge, and running the show. And it will do whatever it thinks is necessary to further its own interests. Reading this book really does help in understanding how we got to where we are. Be that as it may, and aside from the wisdom of Pogo, by Walt Kelley, who once said, "We have met the enemy and he is us.", I offer you this: George Orwell, author of l984, by his art, did us all a favor in writing this book; it was chilling when I first read it when I was thirteen and I was so glad that it was Science Fiction and glad it wasn't true. Now, looking at it again, it is chilling because of how true it is. And guess what? Big Brother IS watching you!

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A poem by Jennifer Diamond

Waiting for permission

Tell me someone, when it is okay to walk?
Tell me someone, when it is okay to talk?
Tell me, when can I dream, and when can I scream?
Now? or maybe now? or how about now?

Tell me someone, when it is okay to giggle?
Tell me someone, when it is okay to wiggle?
Tell me, when can I fly, and when can I cry?
Now? or maybe now? or how about now?

I've been waiting to soar,
Ever since I was four,
Waiting for "go"
    Hoping to know,
When, precisely when,
Someone would say


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A true story by Judy Smith,
excerpted in three parts

When I Was Going Bald, part I

When I was going bald, I started to notice bald men more. They were everywhere - driving buses, getting out of their cars in parking lots, making deliveries at work. Everywhere. I hadn't really thought about it before. And they didn't shock. You got used to it. You got used to their baldheads.

Hair started to look funny to me. It looked like some strange tousle of growth. The baldhead was beautiful. There was something honest and raw about it.

I didn't start out feeling this way. I started out feeling dread at the idea of going bald. But I knew it was likely to happen; I was going through neo-adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. When it started to go, I discovered hair all over the shoulders of my cardigan when I took it off. It was falling out silently and gently like leaves around me. My comb would rake in a bunch after a shower. A strand would drop onto my keyboard at work reminding me that I had cancer, as if I needed the reminder.

When your hair starts to go you have to plan for contingencies. What would I do? Would I wear a wig? That was definitely out. Hats, scarves? Maybe although I'd never really worn them much before. In the meantime I wanted to do something with my hair. Cut it short. Watching it go was too unbearable.

Then I recalled a scene from Monsoon Wedding where the bride-to-be gets a henna tattoo on her hands. Could I get a henna tattoo on my head I wondered. Suddenly I found myself kind of excited about the idea of going bald.

I had a standing appointment to get my hair cut with my cousin Ida. But a few days before I stopped by her salon to see if she could cut it now. She was too busy. I took a moment to cry on her shoulder and then wandered off to Nordstrom to look at scarves. I wanted to find some kind of brochure on how to tie interesting scarves around your head but they didn't have any. The salesgirl took a silk scarf and showed me how she would tie it around her head and then said she would use some kind of a clip in her hair to hold it on. She told me silk scarves didn't work on baldheads because they were too slippery. You needed cotton. Did they have any? No.

She told me they got a lot of women in losing their hair. A lot. I hadn't mentioned that I was but she must have suspected so I confessed. She told me they had some turbans in the back that she could go get, and she brought out a small dusty cardboard box of pastel and primary colored turbans that looked like they were made from polyester. It was too depressing for words.

In the back of my mind I imagined throwing some kind of shave my head party but I wasn't sure when or how. I just felt I needed some kind of ritual and support to mark this change in my life. And also it just seemed like a good excuse to get people together.

On the day of my hair cutting appointment with Ida, I wore a silk scarf to work. I had enough hair that it stayed on but it was getting really thin. A friend of mine had an appointment with Ida right after me; I told her I was thinking of just shaving my head because I just couldn't take it anymore, forget the party there wasn't time for that. Okay, she said wondering if she could bring me anything. Whiskey, I suggested.

Ida and I talked about shaving my hair off but that would be a done deal in about five minutes, so we decided to go short first. She could always shave it off afterwards. Jennifer came in complaining of no liquor stores around. Ida poured us a glass of white wine instead.

While she snipped my hair, Ida described the women she had shaved going through chemo and the new sensations they told her about - the rain drops on their head, the feel of the wind against the scalp. For some reason this did not feel like a whole lot to look forward to. She had also been regularly shaving the head of a lesbian for a role in a lesbian flick. She had a cool swirl of bristle on the back of her head. Jennifer said a woman she knows goes bald but then she is also a dyke and owns a sex toy store. Was it too late to switch teams? Actually what really appealed the most to me was shaving my head and joining a Buddhist monastery for a couple of months. Did they have any temporary monk track?

As it turned out my short hair looked good, not mangy. It was the Laurie Anderson haircut I always wanted but never had the nerve to get. I went home with tiny sample bottles of styling gel because I probably wouldn't need them for long, ha ha ha, including a thickening gel, ha ha ha. My new haircut felt like a reprieve. (A friend at work said I just needed a black leather jacket and she wouldn't mess with me.) But it would only last about ten days. My hair was falling out like pine needles now.

Tuesday was a good day for Ida to shave my head because it was her day off. I wanted her to be fresh. I found myself having to calculate how many Tuesdays my short hair might last. Timing was critical. I wanted to have enough hair to shave -- I didn't want to have a shave my head party where all I had were two strands of hair left that seemed pathetically anticlimactic, but I didn't want to shave my head prematurely, I was not that keen on shaving my head.

A week went by and I moaned to Jennifer that my hair was still going, and I thought next Tuesday I should shave it off. She thought I still had a lot of hair left, but then she wasn't living with the constant fall out. I avoided making any decision for a few more days, but by Sunday I could barely stand it. I fired off an email to all my female friends to come to a Say Goodbye to What's Left of the Rest of My Hair party that Tuesday.

By Monday I could joke with my boss who had been gone a couple of weeks that he probably had more hair than me now. He has a fifty-cent piece bald spot on the back of his head. I felt like a porcupine.

When I ran into him at the elevator, he asked me how I was doing. I mumbled something about preparing for the Brave New World; that's how I felt, like some alien in a foreign land.

(Parts II and III will be printed in the next newsletters.)

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Two Poems by Lida Picton Sloan


Warmth that is almost a hug embraces me

My soul cries out and is comforted

Breathe in the light

Breathe out the golden love

Breathe the love back in

When it comes back it is warmer still

Don't fight -

Don't push away anything -

Just take in

The golden breath of life.


Cars belch fumes never intended for our lungs

The earth stinks of industrial poisons and acid rain

Why can't I breathe easily?

My food and water taste strange from additives, pesticides,

Antibiotics and synthetic chemicals

Why is my stomach upset?

We are rapidly destroying the habitat of animals and fish

As well as orchards and grainlands

What will I eat for dinner? Where will I go when my beloved Gaia

Can no longer purify the air and water and protect me?

Maybe I should think more about caring for Gaia

So that she can live to care for me.

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A Short Poem by Carl Sloan


Do the Japanese
still own L..A.
or did they sell it
to the Koreans?

It's a safe bet
our Congressman
is still owned
by a consortium.
Some things never change.

Corporate raiding,
buying and selling,
takeovers and divestments,
it's all too complicated.

Even the mob
can't keep track.
Last week a wise guy
got blown away
because he misplaced
three casinos
and an airline.

Could have happened
to anybody.

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