May Plans

Spring time is nearly upon us. As are several cons, which is always a cause for joy. A con is like a festival, but better because there’s also stuff during the day. Music festivals are nifty, but they’re usually only in the evenings. I’m thinking it would be fun to do a small tour of the continent in May.
May 2 – 4 is Transgender Europe in Berlin. I used the feedback form to ask if they were interested in booking some music. I think they have an obligation to present work by ftm composer/performers of ‘art’ music. As I type this, I’m drining water out of a cup with cartoon of Tigger on it. I want to find out if, like Tigger, I’m the only one. Anyway, they haven’t written back yet, which is frustrating, since I’d like to try to get other gigs around Germany if they take me. And now is the time to be trying to get booked.
May 6 – 8 is the fêtes de Jeanne d’Arc in Orléans, France (an hour or so away from Paris by train). I’m several centuries too modern to play at this event, but I’ve been going to it every yar since I moved to Europe and I’d like to go again. And do some biking around the Loire. Last year, I decided not to go to Cherveney, despite it being the origin of my lap tuba – and some fine wine. I don’t know how cool it would be to do a bike tour like that by myself. I think I’m looking for people to go along with me, if I go. Joan of Arc, of course, got burned at the stake rather than dress like a girl, so she’s close to my heart.
May 25 – 31 is /ETC in Amsterdam, a feminist con that I played at last year. They’re women-only, which, obviously, makes me nervous, since I’d rather be burned at the stake than dress like a girl. I had a lot of angst about this last year also and contacted them about whether or not they discriminated against trans people. They do not. This year, the group hosting it is called “gender changers” and they’ve had FTM participation in the past. They seem supportive, and last year was super-awesome, so I hope this works out. I’m thinking of doing a duet with somebody, if they’ll take me, to sort of up the female quotient of my act. ha. I’m going to the con whether I play or not, I think, since last year was so great and I really miss Holland. I want to take Xena, but I think I can still find lodging with a buddy in Den Haag and commute in to Amsterdam on the train. I can imagine that I can find lodging for Xena easier than for myself. She’s popular.
I have a friend in Bremmen, Germany, so I’ll email him a CD shortly. There’s a strong noise scene there. And, if I’m going to be in France, I’d like to play in Paris again. Of course, that’s much, much, much easier said than done. I’m going to see what contacts I can get there through school here and California, since my contacts form living there aren’t great for gig-getting. And, obviously, I’ll see if I can play more than once in the Netherlands. Berlin to Paris to Bremen to Amsterdam is perhaps overly circuitious. I will be travelling by ferry, bike and train, to keep my carbon footprint down as that’s easier for Xena, so the best timing for Bremmen might be late April.
I’m working on a piece about gender issues and sexuality that I’d like to premier in Berlin, if they take me. It’s the drag king piece, which features a crotch-mounted joy stick and moaning sounds. I’m going to add in some videogame samples (specifically, I want World of Warcraft). I also want to use samples of people talking, of course. Because all my political pieces use speaking. Because I’m unsubtle, alas. I think I want to interview people and ask them the questions that I got asked on transgender clinic intake. “What’s your first memory of having a gender?” “How long have you known that you are a man/woman?” “What makes somebody a man?” “What makes somebody a woman?” I think these questions are actually quite stupid. Especially the last two. But the answers are potentially very interesting. I kind of think of it as performative queer theory as much as music.
So if you want to record yourself talking about how you became aware of your own gender and what that means to you, email it to me! Otherwise, I’ll be pushing microphones into other students’ faces. I just came out to them last week, so it should be delightfully awkward and stressful to do this.
Also, if you can get me a gig in France, Germany, BeNeLux or nearby, please drop me a line! I’ll have everything I need to to do electronic noise, live processing, and/or laptop pieces. And a dog! And my bike touring gear. Heh. This is managable, but insane, so perfect. If I can’t get any other gigs, maybe I’ll bike from Berlin to Amsterdam. I wonder if there’s some way to organize a bike/music tour, like, to promote environmental causes . . .

In other news

For those of you in the San Francisco area, Other Minds 13 is very nearly upon you! I am jealous of you, because I wish I could go. The sampler CD for the shows is awesome. There’s a lot of great music. It’s March 6 – 8 in SF. There’s a sudent discounts avilable. I think it’s possible to get in free by volunteering. This year is especially great for fans of the cello. Fracnis-Marie Uitti will be plaing. She’s a friend of Ellen. Her music is incredible. She’s playing on the 6th. If you can only go to one night, go to that one. And then leave me taunting messages about how it was sper awesome and I’ll be sad. I was going to come home for the festival, but the way my student visa ended up working out, I just couldn’t. Alas.


I am sitting on an airplane, waiting for a transatlantic flight. It’s my second in less than 24 hours. I don’t have my passport. The captain of the plane is holding it until we get over the ocean. The passenger next to me has just told me what time the flight arrives. It’s the first time that i’ve been told. I haven’t paid for the ticket, but am concerned that i might have to.

Alas, i am not describing a confusing dream, but rather my current situation. After a red-eye flight and 6 hours of detention, i’m totally exhausted. I’ve been refused entry to the uk and am on my way back to new york, where i’ll have to find my way back to san francisco. My tearful parting with my girlfriend last night is fated to be shorter than we either anticipated.

I was in new york to apply for a student visa. They no longer accept in-person applications. Their web site, though, allows you to file for one, but not to make the appointment. I was flattened with stomach flu before i could discover why their appointment-making system was constantly broken. My time scheduled in the us was drawing to a close and i had not submitted. I decided to mail in the documents from the uk and get the visa during winter break. I bought return tickets yesterday morning, so i could prove my plans if asked.

Then, i got on my plane. Concerned about visa issues, i left my bass guitar with nicole. I didn’t want to seem as if i was trying to sneak in to play gigs and earn money. However, i didn’t make it as far as baggage claim before falling into detention.

The immigration officer seemed friendly and chatty. It was six-something am and i hadn’t had coffee, but tried to be friendly in return. She asked why i came. I said i was visiting the university. This answer has been satisfactory on several previous occasions. This time, I had noticed signs up advertising delays. They noted that extra security takes extra time. The extra time in this case included her asking for some clarification on that. She seemed so personable that i didn’t become alarmed when she began taking notes. It wasn’t until she asked what kind of dog i had that i started to become alarmed.

She told me not to be alarmed, but to follow her to a waiting area. At heathrow terminal 4, there are some lines leading to immigration agents. In the very middle of the lines, there is a little pen with some seats. It would seem like it was just a waiting area for old people or folks with kids, if it weren’t for the chair-height barriers surrounding it and most especially the door of the same short height. The door had a latch on it, so when the friendly agent lead me there, she flipped up the flimsy piece of plastic to let me in and flipped it closed after me to keep me inside. That non-lock was useless for imprisoning someone, but the psychological impact was clear. “Oh fuck.” I said, as she left.

A man came around some time later to lead me to baggage claim. We got my bike and put it and my backpack on a cart. He had me follow him to the customs area, where he searched my bags. I thought this might be the end of a process where i would soon be on my way, but all he searched for were documents and his questions were repetitions of ones the first agent had asked. Then, he lead me back to the immigration area, but to a security door on the right of the room.

The door opened to hallway full of parked luggage carts with glass-walled waiting rooms on one side. He told me to park my luggage and then took me to a foyer between the waiting rooms, where i was asked to empty my pockets and patted down. I was allowed to keep my wallet and change and lip balm, but not my keys or cell phone. I tried to retrieve on of the many bags of reeces pieces that i had purchased immediately before my flight, but was told that candy was against the rules.

Then, i was deposited in the waiting room where i spent the next several hours. There were signs up indicating that pictures were disallowed and (perhaps to protect themselves against possible artistic talent) my pen had been removed, so i have tried to commit the room to memory as much as possible.

It had one exit door which was unlocked and lead to the foyer. One long wall was glass. The other two walls had many doors leading to small rooms where detainees could be questioned, finger printed, photographed. The room had two long rows of ugly chairs, facing each other. Near the middle were two small tables. It looked much like other police waiting rooms that i’ve seen.

I wished aloud for a cup of coffee and a woman, also waiting, told me that i could just ask for one. So i went back to the foyer and asked for it and got nescafe from a vending machine. I announced my intention to retrieve and take my zoloft, but was told that i could not. A doctor must be first consulted. Also, the door from the foyer to the hall was locked. This seemed to make my situation seem more serious, but, when i was told then to have my photo taken, i was called sir. I felt happy to be passing and a certain thrill of excitement at being held. This was kind of exciting! At least, when it wasn’t incredibly dull. I felt homesick and had a perverse desire to be sent back so i could see my family. But then i thought of my boarded dog and other tasks in birmingham and hoped otherwise. I wondered what it meant that my happiness at passing surpassed my dismay at being detained.

I had to sign forms. I was given documents. I waited. I wondered if my passing was going to screw up my paperwork. I waited. I tried not to eavesdrop on other people’s interviews which were highly audible through thin walls.

I heard my name from the foyer. “Not a man, but a woman dressed as a man.” Laughter. “Why would she do that?” Laughter. Then, “I just patted her arms.” amid more laughter. They were teasing the man who patted me down. I wondered how this changed my situation.

An officer came to interview me. He asked all the same questions. I complained about the new york consulate and stressed that i had a return ticket and that the dutch consulate told me it wasn’t illegal. The officer said that he wouldn’t have had me detained and he would recommend that i be let on my way, but that i had knowingly tried to enter with a tourist visa when i was aware of student visa requirements would count against me. Apparently, ignorance of the law was an excuse.

The officer took me to the medical officer to discover if i would be allowed to take zoloft. Somebody there took the pills from me and googled them or something to make sure it was legal and a reasonable dose. There was no doctor present. It was decided that i would be allowed to take my meds. I wondered if needing them went into my file.

The pat down guy acted the same as before. Another guard, who apparently missed that conversation, was very insistent at correcting the officer when he said “she”. I guess clouds have silver linings.

I used the room’s pay phone and my credit card to call my berkeley home number, since i had it memorized. It was late so i left voicemail.

The officer came back and told me that i was being sent home, but it would not hurt my ability to get a student visa. He gave me a document which stated this. I left another message with ellen and then called jean, who has a very memorable phone number. It was 2:30am at her location, but her tone changed when i explained the situation. I wished i had my dad’s number memorized.

Some Quebecois were also detained. Most everyone sat in silence but the two animatedly shared their stories and opinions. The man had been detained because he was staying with a friend and didn’t know the address. As it happened, he knew the friend’s mobile number and that the friend was waiting for him at the airport. H was finger printed, photographed, questioned and then hopefully somebody thought to talk to the friend to get his address.

The canadian woman had come back too soon after a long stay. So much for the commonwealth.

And then more waiting. Somebody came around to collect me an hour before my flight. She had me take the luggage cart through security. My bike was xrayed. Then, she walked me to the gate. I was allowed to use my cellphone and to sit, while she held my passport and watched my luggage. I called my kennel, my supervisor and my afternoon date. When it was time, i was told to pre-board. My bike was left at the top of the jetway, to be moved to the hold. I was the first person on the plane.

And now i’m on the plane. Too much airplane food. Not enough sleep. Too many carbon credits in debit. The novelty of the situation long since worn off. My morale is low.

As he was giving me bad news, the officer said two things that stick with me. One was to imagine how america treats those with paperwork problems. I got this more than once, from different people. America’s stupid anti-foreigner policies are hurting citizens.

The other thing was that britian had to be extra vigilant because other european countries weren’t. He painted a picture that seemed to put britian as the outer defenses of fortress europe. The enemies were at the gate, but britian stood strong. I congratulated him on having successfully defended britian in this case.

offline blogging: austria

I am in Vienna. I met many Wieners when I was in Linz and am staying with a woman I met named Marty. Many people who went to the conference in Linz flew in through Vienna, so last night, we had a small party. Several members of the vegetable orchestra were present. This legendary group’s shows include making instruments out of vegetables and then playing them. One of the folks last night apparently has a technique where she can get a zucchini to sound exactly like a tuba. They used to follow up the performances with stew made from the instruments, but this was time consuming and also kind of gross, so now they pre-cook their stew with other vegetables.
Last night was some of the most fun that I’ve ever had. We were artists and geeks and sex workers and Europeans and Americans and all feminist / progressive. Austria has its political problems, certainly, but the indie scene is great. We were hanging out at the queer center. There was spray paint on the outside wall that said "gender queer." It made me feel very happy. I really like that term.
The last day that the con was going in Linz was unbearably hot. There were my last minute workshops. A quick intro to svn, how to podcast, etc, but it was all so hot, the entire building emptied out and migrated to the bank of the Danube. I was not the only one who went skinny dipping in the (brown) Danube. After painting myself in thick coat of spf 50 sunblock. The current was swift. The water was freezing! So much fun.
Alas, my whole experience made me feel pangs for my youth. Ah, to be in a place where women work together and trans-masculinity is validated, and where my body is not a cultural artifact, but just the space that I inhabit, without expectations written across the shape of my chest.
Linz was home to some important historical figures. Bruckner used to play the organ in the town’s cathedral. Some of you will recall that Bruckner wrote for the wagner tuba and thus is important in its history. Also from linz was Adolph Hitler. He went to a real schule near the haupt schule where we slept. One of the people in my room attempted to determine whether he attended the school that we slept at. Since he was an art student and this was the arts magnet, it was a possibility. Anyway, she failed to find out. Maybe i slept in hitler’s homeroom?
I think that I am now involved in the european feminist forum. We are going to set up a wiki (or drupal) which has a bunch of howtos for activists and non-profits. Leftists simply should not be giving their institutional funds to microsoft. If they’re in to people power, they should use free software. Also many outside the first world don’t have the luxury to buy buggy bloatware because it costs too much. Our documents will hopefully be useful to folks worldwide. What do orgs use computers for? Their website, email, spreadsheets, documents, making posters and officy stuff like that. These kinds of applicstions work very well under ubuntu and don’t require much computer power. Old computers can be turned into powerful tools for activists.
We need a parallel structure. Anti-capitalists cannot depend on for-profit enterprise to solve their problems. This is a clear use for self-help and anarchism! Amyway, I’ll set something up when i get home and then make an announcement and then go away again. The intended audience is computer novice activists, so part of the issue is trust. It’s ok to link to other howtos, but its essential to gain their trust. They’re often suspicious of new technology and wary of geeks, so even if this project is redundant, the feminist perspective will help.

Biking in Prague

I want to make some notes about biking in Prague. First of all, you should find a bike map. there are posted and marked bike routes and you should know where they are. Second, have your hotel on the castle side of the river, somewhat north of the castle. The ground there is flat and in the newer sections, there are less cobblestones. Third, have a bike with a lot of gears. three is not enough if you are towing a dog, for example. Fourth, the sidewalk’s cobblestones are much smaller than the street’s cobblestones and will make you feel less shaken to bits. Also, the traffic is scary and the sidewalk feels safer, even if slower. The natives seem to use the sidewalk. Also, the natives wear helmets, which is a sign that you should too. Sixth, watch out for doors. People do not look before jumping out of their cars and could easily smack you. Prague is definitely a ‘bike to the edge of the section you want to see and then park your bike’ kind of town.

Dog Travel

One of my friends here was impressed with the logistics of bike travel and the logistics of dog travel. However, neither is particularly diificult. In the interest of being informational, here are some tips.



First of all, get a microchip put into your dog. (In the case of pets, this is literally a mark of the beast.) Put a collar and ID tag on it too. Dogs in Europe need something called an EU pet passport. If you are in the EU, get this from your vet. If you are in America or another country, find the website for your country’s embassy/consulate for the EU member state in which you intend to arrive. They will have a form which you bring to your vet in your home country a few days before you leave. (Some countries require advanced planning in the form of rabies tests done at least 6 months before arrival. Those countries suck.) Have your vet stamp the form several times with an official looking stamp. Many European countries love official-lloking stamps and will request them whenever possible. The pet travel form is good enough for airlines. Take your dog’s pet passport with you whenever you travel.


You need a dog carrier to take a dog on a plane. Your dog is checked baggage, alas. The airline’s website will give you information that lets you figure out what size carrier that you need. Put a dog pillow or newspapers down in the carrier. Throw in a toy of some kind, like a kong stuffed with treats. You will also need hamster-style water bottles, maybe a couple of them in large dog-size. Fill one of them the night before and stick it in the freezer. Fill the other at the airport (or before you go to same). My dog had panic attacks for 2 weeks or so after fyling, but was unharmed in the long run. Do not drug your dog.


Most countries want you to buy a ticket for your dog. Alas, as far as I know, you can’t get a eurail or interrail pass for your pet. The price of dog tickets varies widly country by country. In Germany, it costs the same as a child ticket. In the Netherlands, your dog can traverse the entire country for around 3€ / day. Small dogs in carriers/bags travel free everywhere. Theoretically, you dog must be muzzled, but so far, this hasn’t been enforced in my experience. Heck, my dog is so quiet, so sleepy and blends into shadows so well, that most train conductors / passport agents haven’t noticed her at all. I hand them her ticket and they say “This is for a dog!” as if I have tried to save fare by passing myself off as a caninie.
At least in Germany, taking a dog on an overnight train with sleeping benches is insanely expensive. This may be true in other countries as well.


This is a really fun way to travel with a dog, imo. It combines all the best things in life: dogs and bikes. If your dog is small, there exist baskets especially designed for them. There are also specifically designed trailers for any size dog. Doggy Ride is cheaper than kid trailers (that I looked at) and is a better shape for a dog. The trailer hitch will attack to almost any kind of bike. Realisticall, though, your bike should be multi-speed if you want to tow a dog. Three speeds at least. Probably more if you’re going through especially hilly areas.
I threw down a very cheap foam mat on the bottom of mine to provide padding. There is also a hook thing that (theoretically) keeps your dog from being able to successfully escape. In practice: make sure all the zippers are closed because your dog can jump out the top. Also, zip the zippers around to the top of the openings rather than leaving them at the bottom, because a dog can “dig” them open by scratching if they’re easy to reach. You dog will probably be unhappy the first few times out. I calmed my dog by asking her co-gaurdian to ride behind the trailer saying “good doggie” over and over again, which helped. Now she’s happy to jump in, but that took some time. She’s still nervous some times, alas.
The trailer folds up to a reasonable size and thus can go on any train.


Obviously, campgrounds are fine with dogs, but most will charge a tiny supplement and demand to see a pet passport. Most two star hotel chains are also fine with dogs, but will also want a supplement of around 5€. Guides published by trourist offices almost always contrain information about whether listed hotels take dogs. Most hotels do. Most hostels do not, but some will is you are with a group that takes up an entire offered room. (ie: two of you in a two-bed room).

Stuff to bring

Aside from the documentation mentioned at the top, bring some sort of small plastic bowl that can be filled with water. Make sure to offer water to your dog very often. And obviously, it will need walks, so bring a leash and also plastic bags in case you walk it in a city. Even Paris is getting serious about making people pick up dog crap, so don’t be a part of the problem. Also, getting a ticket sucks. Also bring treats, food and a toy or two. I didn’t want to bring a whole sack of dog food, so I pre-measured many days of food into zip-lock bags and brought those. The dog could eat straight out of the bags and I had baggies for picking up after her. My first time out with the pooch, I brouht along her pillow, but it got wet in the rain and was heavy, akward and smelly. Now, I just bring a foam pad, which is lighter. I wanted to get her a thermarest, but they’re incredibly expensive in Holland. anyway, she’s happy to sleep on the foam.


I prefer taking my dog with me. I can take her into almost every restaurant and even department stores. However, I can’t take her into churches, castles, museums or grocery stores. It’s ok to tie her up outside a store or a church, but she barks like crazy when left alone in a strange place, which might bother other people. And museums take too much time – I can’t leave her barking alone for hours or somebody will think she’s abandonned. I also cann’t leave her alone in her trailer, as she will destroy it by trying to escape. In the past, I have left her alone in hotel rooms, which was fine, even if against the rules. It’s also possible to leave her alone in an airline crate. Dogs find it soothing being locked in boxes and they can’t hurt airline carriers.

Is this REALLY a good idea?

Yes! Well, if you like your dog and it’s healthy. I wouldn’t bring my dog on a grand tour of European capitals because those trips are all about slogging through museum after museum. But if I want to go across a countryside from village to village (which is more fun anyway), the dog is great to have along. Also, people like dogs and it opens up communication.