Clemency 4 Cyntoia Brown

let's get political
Free Cyntoia Brown

Black Lives Matter Nashville /

Cyntoia Brown is a human being, like you or I.

But she is not free like we ought to be. She’s facing a life sentence for an act of self-defense, and it will be 51 years before she’s up for parole.

The outgoing Tennessee Governor Haslam has the power to grant her clemency, but he has not. This is unacceptable.

This is a denial of human rights, and we all know it.

If you want to do something, please contact the Governor’s Office at (615) 741-2001. 

If you want to call but do not know what to say – a member of Black Lives Matter Nashville prepared a script and published it to the website. It is quoted below:

(615) 741-2001

Dial the above number.

If there is an answer, move to Part 1:

If there is no answer: Skip to second page, Part 3:
Part 1: “Hi, my name is ____ and I am would like to speak to Governor Bill Haslam in reference to Cyntoia Brown.”

(Response from office worker)

Most likely, you will not be able to speak to Haslam. Ask for the name of the person you are speaking to (for our records) and ask to leave a message.

Part 2: In 2004, Cyntoia Brown, a 16 year old victim of sex trafficking, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her assailant, Johnny Allen.

In June of 2012, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled  that juveniles convicted of murder cannot be subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Last week, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years before she can be eligible for parole. This goes against the research and ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court when it comes to child offenders of violent crimes.

As a concerned citizen, I demand Governor Bill Haslam to grant clemency for Cyntoia Brown.

As a minor and a victim of sex trafficking, she should NOT have been sentenced to life in prison.

As a current survivor of the heinous act of Johnny Allen, she should not be forced to serve one more day behind bars because she feared for her life.

Again, I demand Governor Bill Haslam to grant clemency for Cyntoia Brown!

With effective phone slams / mass phone banking, lines are bound to get jammed and busy. That is perfectly okay!
If there is no answer:
Part 3: “Hi, my name is ___ and this message is for Governor Bill Haslam.”

(Return to Part 2 and continue)

Black Lives Matter Nashville

Please call.

Please resist.


x. carey o’clock


december mmxviii music


Music for a liminal month.

Kate Bush – “Hello Earth”

Hole – “Doll Parts”

Sóley – “Follow Me Down”

Jorja Smith – “Blue Lights”


Billie Holiday – “East of the Sun”


Amy Winehouse – “Amy, Amy, Amy / Outro”

Blood Orange – “I’m Sorry We Lied (Demo)”


Also, have you heard Hadestown? Concept album (later musical) about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, with folk artists portraying the tragic hero & heroine, and Hades and Persephone.

Why We Build the Wall” is provocative, and stupidly relevant.

Here we are at the end of a long, terrible year – and another one is about to begin.

I’m lousy with the affirmations, so I’ll just end it with: #Resist.

Resist hate.

Resist despair.

Keep fighting the good fight.


x. carey o’clock






art, autumn
BKruger / Man's Best Friend

Barbara Kruger, 1987 / via WikiCommons

On this (American) Thanksgiving day, I will just say that I’m thankful for my friends; the encouraging midterm election results (CONGRATULATIONS, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!!); for the second, third, and fourth chances that I’ve been given & am trying to make the most of, despite really not deserving them; and the above Barbara Kruger¹ screen print, which articulates more eloquently than I, just how fucked up American politics is right now.


keep loving, keep resisting



¹ I should add – Barbara Kruger is pretty rad, and I’m super thankful that I get to write my senior thesis on some of her wonderful work.

open letter to all unholy things


To all the goblins, ghouls, demons, and malevolent spirits planning to make an appearance tonight:

Things are scary enough on this side of the veil; we ask that you stay on yours while we cope with the aftermath of the pipe bombs, synagogue shooting, election in Brazil, continued crisis at the U.S. border, the genocide in Myanmar, and all the other wholly unholy human terrors.

Instead of haunting us this Halloween, might I suggest you take a load off and watch The Great Pumpkin? Or help out with early voting tasks, like volunteering to drive voters to the polls? We’re cool if you decide to cast hexes on shitty media and politico men. Or if you’re really itching to irk someone or another, the occupants of 1600 Penn could use a good scare.

Thanks for understanding. I hope you can come back next year.


love, Carey








St. Jude Thaddeus / Hopeless Causes


Saint Jude Thaddeus / c. 1610-1614 / El Greco

Does it seem futile to pray for the intercession of a human man, saintly or otherwise?

Does it seem futile to pray for a hopeless cause?

Does it seem futile to pray?


In August, reports came to light of Catholic bishops’ cover-ups of decades of sexual violence perpetrated by priests. This is far from the first time transgressions of these sorts came to light; Spotlight, the 2016 Oscars Best Picture winner, was about the Boston Globe‘s investigative journalism into pedophile priests, something the paper has been reporting on since 2001.

The Catholic Church in America and abroad is no stranger to scandal. In Tuam, Ireland, it is only now that the horrors of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home are being grasped, and attention is being called to the mass graves of infants and small children found on the property.

Lest we forget, many Catholics in positions of power colluded or were complicit with Nazis and fascists during World War II, and during the latter centuries of the second millennium, Jesuits and other religious orders featured prominently in the genocides of indigenous peoples in North and South America, Africa, and Oceania.

This seems like an indictment, or maybe more like a diatribe. I write all of this not to say that the Catholic Church sucks and is irredeemable, so much as to say, I don’t know how to defend the Church any longer when those in the Church continue to commit grievous acts.

There’s the rub—it’s not that I am here to defend the horrors committed so much as I am ashamed that I want to defend the Church. I don’t like to write about myself, or, the private aspects thereof, but this is something I can’t not write about. I was raised Catholic; I’ve made all the sacraments to my confirmation and because of that I am considered an adult in the Church. As an adult, then, I must write that I am questioning the faith and I have been for years, but as an adult I must also say I don’t want to question the Church; I want to be able to follow it blindly and continue on my way.

Isn’t that terrible? It is.

Finding fault with institutions and The Establishment™ is part of adolescence, but I am an adult now, and I am ashamed.

I am ashamed.

I am ashamed of my faith, both that I have so little faith in it and that I still have an iota of respect for it.

The Catholic Church has underwritten so many wonderful things, too: the art of the Vatican, the communion of saints, the latter half of the texts in the Bible —  but it seems so paltry, so spare, compared to the awfulness perpetrated by children of the Church.

And maybe that’s it, maybe it’s the human interpretations of the divine that have soiled the Church. Maybe if we separate the pedophile from the canon law he espouses, maybe if we open our (white) eyes to the affects of colonialism and genocide on the Church in nations of the Global South, maybe then we can move forward and profess our faith once more.

Or maybe we can’t pray for St. Jude’s intercession, maybe this crisis mine, this crisis of faith, is too much.

How likely is the Church to strike down the requirement for the celibacy of priests? How likely is the Church to welcome the queer community to participate fully in the Institution of the Eucharist? How likely is the Church to allow women of the cloth? How likely is the Church to pay reparations to its victims?

Do we pray for peace, love, understanding, reconciliation, or do we act? How can we act?

And are we so lost to God that this is all a pipe dream?

So now, like many others, I am coming to terms with the grave discrepancies between what is said and what is done by something I used to believe in. Maybe unlike some others, another facet in my crisis of faith is that I want to reconcile with the Church. I want to believe in the kingdom, power, glory forever and ever, amen, but I don’t know that I can. I don’t know.

Yet I want to believe, and that is why I pray for Saint Jude’s intercession, and that is why I protest the complicity of the Bishops; that is why I am writing about this now.

God with you, if you’d like.


love, Carey





Gangs of New York (2002)


Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002) brings immediacy to the chaotic, violent history of mid-nineteenth century New York City, a time and place in which the intersections of race, gender, religion, and politics more often provoke murderous clashes than thoughtful discourse. Politicians are corrupt, voters oppressed, an unpopular war fought, nativist sentiment at historic levels, and on and on and on —

Watching the film today begs the question: How far have, or haven’t, we come in the one-hundred-fifty years since?






Note: While I do recommend a viewing of this terrific film, I will say that it was distributed by Miramax; the former studio of the disgraced, disgusting Harvey Weinstein. If that is grounds for a hard pass on this film, cool: you know your limits. If you decided to watch the film, it’s available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and very likely at your local library (check there first!). 



Happy Birthday, Florence Welch

heroines, music, summer
Florence Kathy Lo

Florence Welch, by Kathy Lo for the New York Times (2018)


A very happy, happy birthday to my hero.


The End of August



Aw, man – summer’s ending! (In the Northern Hemisphere, at least.)

Mad world aside, I hope it was a good one.


bicycle monogamy



I am getting old, and at my age I feel it’s necessary to impart wisdom. Therefore, I hope you enjoy the convoluted quasi-essay that’s about bikes but actually about life, below:

My bicycle looks like this:


i am so talented

It’s a heavy, metallic blue mountain bike that I ride EVERYWHERE because it is my only bike, and has been for the past eight years. Ergo very familiar, and very useful for city-riding (potholes!) (decidedly not-quick-release tires!). Also, it’s kinda heavy, so I get another workout carrying it up and down a few flights of stairs from my dorm room (I’m in college; I am so old).


This is a friend’s bike, which was so graciously lent to me for a road ride two weeks ago:


i am so talented, part two

YAH. It’s significantly smaller, lighter (I was benchpressing it in one hand within minutes), and it’s so shiny and RED!! The drop-handles threw me for a moment, as did the gear-shifting mechanism, so we had a lot of false starts at the beginning of our ride (shout-out to dudes with patience!). When we actually began our ride, I was amazed by the differences between bikes. The little red bike was so light!! And I was sorely tempted to dart into and out of traffic because it was so nimble.  It climbed like a bird, and we were flying down Chuck St. (hi, that was us).

It wasn’t a perfect bike: apart from its lack of suspension (I! felt! every! thing!) and those derpy handles, it was unable to scale pebbles, much less onto sidewalks. My lovely mountain bike can hop curbs and cross very large potholes (in cities) and fallen logs and jutting boulders (on mountains) without incident. With this little red road bike I was desperately praying not to launch after every divot in the asphalt. Like, pedaling over a used lotto ticket felt dangerous. (Joke. Kind of.)

Even with those new challenges, it was a great ride and I had a great time exploring the city on that speedy little bike. The takeaway from all this, I’d argue, is that trying new things is awesome! Even if it’s terrifying in the moment a.k.a. for a few hours.

Point being: Bicycle monogamy is overrated!

Second point being we should all ride our bikes more and drive cars less because bikes are significantly cooler, and better for the environment, and make your calves look great.

Just saying.





p.s. I miss The Toast.