Gender-defying coloring book crafternoons in CALIFORNIA

Join Jacinta Bunnell in Oakland (February 13) and San Francisco (February 15). Don't miss the chance to make friends, cut-n-paste with a real glue stick, and change the direction of pop media. No longer will there be a shocking lack of narratives for gender outlaws! We will make truths to set people free. No artistic experience necessary. Rated: PG-13.

Fun-a-day in HIGH FALLS, NY

Each day for the month of January I made art and sometimes I was tired, really sad or grieving but I held myself to it anyway and learned something about commitment, practice and the meditative nature of drawing. I documented all 31 days on Instagram. There will be a Fun-a-Day show celebrating all the folks in the Hudson Valley who participated in this project (20-30 artists) on February 12 at Barnabas in High Falls from 6-9 pm.

Migraine essay

If you or someone you know suffers with migraines, you may find this essay about what I learned helpful.

Jacinta Bunnell


Around ten years old, I started getting debilitating migraines. Awfully early in life to cope with chronic pain. I have experienced a sprained ankle, broken fingers, concussions and back spasms. None of these pains could even be 20% of the pain of a migraine. Migraine pain is what my friend Natalie calls “adult pain”, the kind that should only be reserved for a grown human who has the capacity to find resources for themselves and be in moderate to complete control of their environment. Migraines are not headaches. They are the worst broken bone you’ve ever imagined, but you are also getting punched in the head in a boxing match you are scared to be in and forgot you registered for. And the room you are in is moving like a fast tunnel at a fun house and you need to throw up but it’s not that easy to do because it all hurts and you can’t get up to go to the bathroom because you feel slightly paralyzed or at least like you are having a stroke. And also while you are getting boxed nearly to death, occasionally an iron vice tightens a little more on your head and it makes you sweat, but then the next minute you are shaking from being so cold that ten blankets won’t help. Let’s not forget you also have what feels like food poisoning. But really, it’s worse than that. It’s the worst labor pains you’ve ever had, only it is taking place within your head, the birthplace of all your thoughts and feelings, so you can no longer think clearly, and you can’t see straight.

These are my migraines. Every migraine sufferer has a different story, but I am certain they are all straight out of Hell. Believe them when they tell you. They are not exaggerating. From the time I started getting migraines, I learned quickly that most people get quiet in the face of disability. Migraines are disabling. It’s too hard and too confusing to know what to do for someone, so we default to a silent prairie of no solutions. The suggestions given to most are simply: go to bed, turn out the lights, throw up in this pan beside your bed.

Decades of pain carried me from childhood to adulthood. I accepted this as my destiny. Then one summer, I heard an NPR interview with a doctor who operates a migraine clinic in Baltimore. I listened to it over and over in disbelief, maybe three times in a row. Dr. David Buchholz had studied all these migraine sufferers for three decades. THREE ENTIRE DECADES OF RESEARCH! What have you done consistently for 30 years? This one saint, this human miracle, spent thirty years of his life studying the causes and cures of migraines. He took in all these people and studied them closely, took notes, paid attention, believed them so fully that he made it his life’s work. I then immediately bought his book, How To Heal Your Headache, The 1-2-3 Approach, and began following his suggested protocol, a very strict diet cutting out all coconut, nuts, soy, lima beans, vinegars, cheese, fresh-baked bread, chocolate, bananas and a huge long list of other delicious foods I had been eating every day of my life. I cut them out ALL AT ONCE.

And my migraines got better. Immediately better. Within days of being on this very restrictive diet, I had zero migraines. This, after having 2-3 every week. A few weeks on the diet, still no headaches. Months later, no migraines. On some level, I trusted that it was working but I had to be sure. As a test, I began introducing the trigger foods back into my diet one by one. Within 24 hours of each attempt, I got a migraine. I tried chocolate. I tried almonds. I tried bananas. I ended up with a migraine after each attempt. And now, it’s ten years of being nearly migraine-free because I stick strictly to this diet. No, it is not only food that causes migraine. There is heat and exertion and smells and stress and barometric pressure. I have found that I also need to get enough sleep and stay away from paint fumes, chemicals, air fresheners and perfumes. These odors can cause immediate headaches. But much of the simple cure is food avoidance.

My life is better. Hugely better. I found more time to create art and travel with ease because I am not consumed with debilitating pain a huge part of every day. I rarely have to call in sick to work or cancel plans because of pain. I do oftentimes wish I did not have to explain my food situation when I am invited to someone’s house for dinner. And I beg to never have to hear ‘”you sure are sensitive” ever again. But what makes it bearable are the friends who ask for my list of migraine triggers before they invite me over and the friends who stick up for me when people roll their eyes at my diet. There is a special spot reserved in my heart for the friend who sent me Joan Didion’s essay about migraines.

There is a list of migraine trigger foods below. Depending on how severe your migraines are, you may be able to simply cut down on the amount of these foods you eat. My most solid recommendation is to read How To Heal Your Headache, The 1-2-3 Approach because it explains what a migraine is and validates for you that the special Hell you go through is very real. Occasionally just to feel normal, I will go outside of the boundaries of the diet and eat some Chinese take-out, peanut butter or vinegary salad dressing and I expect to get at least a bad headache. Over time, I have developed an arsenal of tactics to rid myself of the pain as quickly as possible. I will share these in case you or a loved one suffers from migraines. My only hope is that this helps someone somewhere. Thanks for reading.



-Take two droppers full of skullcap tincture.

-Drink a quarter cup of coffee.

-Get acupuncture.

-Drink a strong cup of chamomile and mint tea.

-Apply Ultra Strength Tiger Balm or peppermint essential oil to your head and neck.

-Chew on strong peppermint or cinnamon gum.



-Take 2 ibuprofin every 4 hours with plain crackers.

-Call in sick to everything.

-Drink a glass of cold, plain seltzer.

-Put ice packs on your head and neck and lie down.

-Take Dramamine or another anti-nausea medicine.

-Take 2 peppermint capsules or drink 6 drops of peppermint oil in water.




Cheese: avoid all cheeses except American, cream and cottage cheese.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Chinese/Indian/Thai restaurants; Accent, Adobo and other seasoning products; MSG may be labeled as hydrolyzed vegetable/soy/plant protein.

Cans, boxes or cartons of broth--most have yeast, onion, mushrooms or MSG.

Certain dairy products: avoid yogurt, sour cream and buttermilk.


Meats: avoid aged, canned, cured, marinated, tenderized or those containing nitrates or nitrites: hot dogs, bacon, salami, bologna. Avoid wild game.

Certain fruits and juices: avoid pineapples, raw tomatoes, coconut, bananas, raisins, craisins, dried fruits, red plums, canned figs, passion fruit, avocados and citrus peels.

Vegetables: avoid lima, fava, lentil and navy beans; pea pods, tomatoes, sauerkraut and onions.

Bread products: avoid bread products less than one day old.

Aspartame (Nutrasweet)

Artificial colors

Nitrates & Sulfites


“Natural Flavors”

Nutritional Yeast


Fermented Foods


Soy: Tofu, Veganaise, Tempeh, Miso

Alcohol (especially wine)

Magnesium Supplements



Flavored seltzers

Oils: coconut, walnut, peanut, soybean


SOME FOODS THAT ARE OK TO EAT: pine nuts, salad, almost all vegetables, rice, pasta, seeds, beans, corn, free-range organic meat, potatoes, scallions, garlic, leeks, almost all fruits, sunflower butter, carob, oats, squash, butter, peas, milk, cream cheese, ginger and chick peas. As an excellent migraine preventative, take evening primrose oil every day.

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Hudson Valley BRAWL hosted its first ever Men’s Beauty Pageant at the Rosendale Theatre, in Rosendale, NY on June 19, 2015. It was a scream.

If you know anything about BRAWL, you know we are in the business of championing women’s strength. But when we heard that another CLAW (Collective of Ladies Arm Wrestlers) league (LUEWWD) had hosted a beauty pageant celebrating men’s beards and mustaches, we wanted to take that concept as far as we take our arm wrestling matches. So we decided to put on a live show structured like the Miss America Pageant, where contestants appear on stage in swimsuits and evening wear, present a talent and answer interview questions. These men competed for a specially-made crown and the title “BRAWL KING OF BEAUTY” on a precious pink sash. As with the arm wrestlers, each had theme music and most created characters, though the latter was optional.

“It’s something that I don’t think anyone’s ever done or seen. There has never really been a men’s beauty pageant that I’m aware of. It’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek to show some of the ridiculousness of women’s beauty pageants. We’re following the format of a pageant but trying to get people to think beyond the regular paradigm of beauty,” stated Kira Kinney, BRAWL organizer, in an interview with the Hudson Valley newspaper The Daily Freeman.

Our excitement about this began in the dead of this year’s harsh upstate NY winter, when we gathered for our usual meeting and potluck and all ended up dancing around a kitchen island, singing the prototype of a song formulating in the head of our intrepid ref Michael Truckpile: “Men’s beauty pageant! There’s beautiful men in the world! Men’s beauty pageant! Pageants aren’t just for girls!!!” We knew we had to make this happen and posted a video of our impromptu performance on social media. We got a couple of immediate responses from enthusiastic guys.

We all divvied up responsibilities for months in advance of the show but our roadhouse roots helped us not to over-stage it. We invited anyone who identified as a man, whether straight, gay, bisexual, trans, gender queer or otherwise, to join us. We made calls, we sent out emails, we stopped friends at the grocery store and then we waited for the applications to roll in. Ten men applied. Ten men were accepted.

Kira Kinney, a farmer by day, acted as our contestant recruiter and stage prompter. Tricia Mazzocca, a clinical social worker, was MC for our evening as “Bodacious T.” These two also edited and created contestant bios, wrote pageant questions and worked to help the men be more comfortable with their ideas. Amie Worley, a science teacher to our local youth, took on the role of production manager and theater liaison. These tasks included balancing contestants’ concerns about their expectably grand entrances with the theater’s concerns about dry ice and glitter! Artist, musician, DJ and computer wiz kid, Michael Truckpile, helped with the pageant questions and put his ref stripes aside to hand-craft a white prairie dress, handed down from Elizabeth Mitchell, into a hair metal cult leader uniform with hand-crafted bead work. He got the crowd going for the show with the now fully realized theme song written just for the event. (Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpGNJGm5YFM and here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIF5PfSRa6Y) ! 

We auctioned off a spot on our judges’ panel to make extra money for our beneficiaries. Everyone thought our auction winner, Sonja, was an audience plant because she fit in so well with our other judges, regular BRAWL organizers Jacinta Bunnell, an artist and educator, as “Magenta Delecta”, the Don King of BRAWL, and Vanessa Vera, a massage therapist, as “Donatella Rump,” cousin to The Donald. (She called from the stage for an anti-presidential campaign.) We also had the pleasure of having Ellison Baus, a teen boy in beautifully executed makeup he did himself and a fabulous lavender wig, as “Judge Madame du Monsieur”. He reported being so delighted to be part of it all. And it certainly showed that night.

We received so much support from the Rosendale Theatre Collective, one of our beneficiaries for the evening, and from the community at large that filled the house. Rosendale Theatre Collective member Laurie Giardino created some projected visuals that really enhanced the production as well as a video just for the hell of it. DJ Ali Gruber chose just the right songs to keep things fabulous. We started the evening by asking the Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band and Social Club to play in the street for the hour leading up to the event. We had hoped to have some mock protesters on the sidewalk a la second-wave feminists against objectification but this didn’t pan out. Cool! NO DETRACTORS, real or fake!

Local businesses contributed bouquets, gift certificates, snacks, and the beautiful green room.  Other businesses such as Shapers Hair Salon (none other than BRAWL’s own Annie Scissorhands) donated their time to pretty up the guys for the event by doing their hair and makeup. The people of our area got INTO it! The 260-seat theatre was JUST shy of sold out.

In addition to the Rosendale Theatre Collective, we raised money for the local organization Sparrow’s Nest and felt damn good about being able to give them $1,600 each. Almost all of this came from ticket sales. This was our first experience with pre-selling seats as our arm wrestling matches are most often stand-up-and-throw-cash affairs. We used Brown Paper Tickets and we think we may have worked out the bugs on how to do that properly in future!

Most of the men played off-the-wall characters they had been fleshing out for weeks. The audience was introduced to ten great people and lots of fun characters: a science geek, “Super Awesome Boyfriend,” an artist, an ice cream man, a sea captain, a cowboy, a would-be opera singer, a colorful septuagenarian, and a wolf-human hybrid. For his talent portion, our artist painted a portrait in the allotted five minutes, which we promptly auctioned off for $50. (He had wanted live chickens for “ambience” but settled for a live human model after the theater informed us of their restrictions regarding live animals!)

Keith Carollo simply went as “Keith” and WON. In an interview with the Daily Freeman, he talked about “celebrating all your faults and insecurities, which is what the whole show is about for me – challenging myself to go in new directions, doing things I’ve never done. I am a super fan [of BRAWL]. This opportunity to participate in the Men’s Beauty Pageant is my way to join this girl gang,” Carollo was so committed to the pageant that he rented a rehearsal space to practice his choreography for his talent segment. His investment paid off! The judges awarded him 10s across the board. Madame du Monsieur attempted to give him 10,000 points (even though scores were 1 through 10) for his not-even-precarious-looking half-thong (that’s right: half thong) during the swimwear competition, a “feat of engineering” Keith declined to disclose.


Magenta Delecta’s mom, who has the proud distinction of being our oldest arm wrestler to date, got to sneak in during sound check and choose, literally, the #1 best seat in the house from which to watch her husband of 37 years, the man who drives a backhoe and operates a chainsaw for a living and who traveled two and a half hours to compete in the pageant, take runner up at a beauty pageant at age 77. She also designed and made his swimwear (a satiny pink take on an early 1900s bathing costume)! We have all been so thrilled and honored to watch “Flamingo Delecta” take shape over the years, allowing BRAWL to take him to wig-and-glitter places he hadn’t really gone before. How great to have him in our pageant and for him to be awarded second place!

“I never saw such good organization and planning in my life. I didn’t see one mistake anywhere. There was a lot of talent there at the pageant. There was some that wasn’t the best. The judges were great. I think they treated everybody fair. People at home in Pennsylvania are happy for me but some think I am crazy. But they don’t get it. It is such a good cause. I love the people in the Hudson Valley. They are so open to anything. I love being runner up. It’s a good feeling to be at the top. I know my talent didn’t come close to Keith’s. The MC did a great job but she needs to wear flat shoes next time. Her feet were killing her and she was really suffering toward the end of the night.” --Edward Antoine (“Flamingo Delecta”), runner up, Men’s Beauty Pageant, 2015.

The winners were chosen based on the judges’ scores in all four categories. We gave the audience a chance to get in on the action and collected and tabulated their votes for the People’s Choice Award. Guess who won that? That’s right: Keith! TWO bouquets in addition to the crown and sash!

Gender is silly putty, a see-saw, a really great hand-built swing, a water slide. In this event we got to play with, celebrate and nurture various gender expressions. Each and every male participant in the Men's Beauty Pageant showed a vulnerability. Words like transformative and transcendent have been heard around town ever since that night by contestants and audience members alike. Case in point:

“The Men’s Beauty Pageant was the most joyous live performance I have ever experienced in my entire life and I have been an avid performance goer for 30 years. I felt such pride for the men for having the kind of bravery that it takes to be that vulnerable.” --Deborah DeGraffenreid, photographer.

“I was asked onstage how participating in this pageant had changed my life. It was supposed to be kind of a silly question, but the honest truth is it had. Just preparing for the show and placing myself somewhere between a parody of a manly man vs. ladyboy helped me celebrate all sides there really are to being a man, to being a lady, to being a person, to being a WINNER! Crazy, crazy joy when I won and totally like on TV walking towards the light all slow and speechless and glitter everywhere (except we couldn’t have glitter). So special. I thought, I will never think bad about myself again. I am a WINNER. I am beautiful!!” --Keith, Audience Choice Award and BRAWL King of Beauty, 2015.            

All told, we think we may want to do this again! What do you think?

View our fabulous album from the night taken by Ted Dixon: https://www.facebook.com/ted.dixon.14/media_set?set=a.1149515165062400.1073741840.100000117814569&type=3&pnref=story

--written by collective members of Hudson Valley BRAWL (Broads Regional Arm Wrestling League (Jacinta Bunnell, Tricia Mazzocca, Kira Kinney, Vanessa Vera-Peterka, Amie Worley, Michael Truckpile and honorary girl gang member, Keith Carollo)

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Tell Your Stories of the Big Gay Alphabet

Craig Wiesner, publisher from Reach and Teach, admits that during the time when they were looking at first drafts of The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book, he had some questions about specific words chosen for some of the letters, wondering what astrology and hula hooping had to do with LGBTQP people. He also had to do some digging to figure out what a narwhal was. As the creator of The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book, I wanted people to not take everything in the book at face value. It was my desire to stir curiosity and make people start asking each other why trapezes were Queer. In essence, I wanted it to be like a conversation starter or party game so our stories could be told more and often. We all know why R would stand for Rainbows, but what if we chose Puppets as the letter to represent P in the Big Gay Alphabet and it caused you to do some researching about all the LGBTQP people who have been involved in Queer theatrical activism, using giant hand-built puppets for protests? As the author, I wanted to treat the readers as intelligent, inquisitive researchers who could discover multitudinous answers for why beaches are gay. I can list at least three and one may or may not have something to do with Bette Midler. Our hope was that people would pick up this coloring book and each letter would have a very different impact depending on who they were and where they were on the LGBTQP and generational spectrum.

When a negative review of the book came to our attention, calling our choice of letters confusing, Craig Wiesner wrote an elegant response to why "I for Ice Cream" belongs here. It made me cry and my heart was stirred to create some community around The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book. Here is what he wrote:

“What makes ice cream gay? I'm sure that everyone will have different answers from mine (and I really do want to hear yours) but let me share mine. When I was a teenager, my friends and I would go to the ice cream parlor pretty often. There were always lots of kids at the counter and tables, with some boys and girls obviously in love and acting on their feelings for one another. I remember what it was like seeing these straight kids expressing themselves in a way that I absolutely could not, sharing their ice cream, holding hands, staring into each other's eyes, kissing....Sitting right near me was my best friend, a boy I was in love with, but one I never told how I felt. In a gay-positive world, I would have been able to share my ice cream with him, look deeply into his eyes, hold hands, and thanks-be-to-Jonnor (type it into a search engine) maybe even share a brief kiss. That would make ice cream very very gay! And don't even get me started about my memories of that daring young man on the flying trapeze. (In the book, T is for Trapeze.)”

Leela Corman, the illustrator for The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book tells us why O is for Opera: “My beloved aunt Mimi was a world-renowned opera singer. She often sang at City Opera, in Lincoln Center. I often had the privilege of going with her to dress rehearsals, and on one memorable occasion, she took me backstage to the dressing rooms. There I saw an amazing wig that has stayed with me since. It was a towering confection of pale grey hair, standing nearly as tall as me, studded with little black bows. I've drawn this wig into many of my illustrations. I got to meet many of her opera friends, who were often very cosmopolitan gay men - this was Manhattan in the 80s. A few came to her funeral in 2008, and brought a lot of light and kindness into that rainy day.”

How do you see yourselves, younger selves and today's selves, liberated or frustrated? What are your wishes for the next generations of LGBTQP people? What does your #BigGayAlphabet look like? For us, A is for Astrology, B is for Beaches, C is for City Hall, D is for Double Dating, E is for Earmuffs, F is for Football, G is for Glitter, H is for Hula Hooping, I is for Ice Cream, J is for Jazz Hands, K is for Karaoke, L is for Leotards, M is for Musicals, N is for Narwhals, O is for Opera, P is for Puppets, Q is for Queens, R is for Rainbows, S is for Soul Train, T is for Trapeze, U is for Unicorns, V is for Vampires, W is for Weightlifting, X is for Xanadu, Y is for You, and Z is for Zeitgeist. But there are endless possibilities.

Use the hashtag #BigGayAlphabet on social media to tell your stories of your own personal Big Gay Alphabet. Use photos or videos, color in a page from the book, link to your blog, say it in 140, tell us about one letter or all 26...

Kathleen Judge, a real-life Unicorn with Jacinta Bunnell. U is for Unicorn.

Kathleen Judge, a real-life Unicorn with Jacinta Bunnell. U is for Unicorn.

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Gay has been used for decades as a negative slur to denote something as ugly, weird or uncool. In my circle of Queer friends, we have reclaimed the statements “you’re so gay” and “that’s so gay” to mean that something is AWESOME, perfect, extremely good or delightful. So that got me thinking about all the amazing things that have come out of or are associated with LGBTQP culture: rainbows, musicals, glitter, unicorns, activism, and on and on! There are all these things that just wouldn’t be here without Queer people. Would we have jazz hands if it were not for all the gay choreographers? Who are the biggest, most exuberant fans of the movies Roller Derby and Beaches?



Since 2001, I have been collaborating with different artists, making coloring books that celebrate feminist, queer and trans people and ideas. I started making them because I didn’t see myself or my friends anywhere in media that was made for children. We were all children once and if you grow up not seeing a representation of your family, your feelings, your crushes, or your loves in ANY media at all, it is really hard to keep your head held high, let alone keep your tiara in place. In children’s movies, video games, books and TV, heterosexuality is not just the norm, it is very near the only way romantic love is ever represented. As an educator, I have spent many years working with kids of all ages who were literally dying to be seen and heard, overcoming abuse, neglect, homelessness and torture simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. I wanted to create books which offered a fresh way for people to look at stereotypes and oppression. If you can get people to laugh at themselves and at cultural expectations, their hearts will be more receptive to taking a hard look at difficult issues. Once you have opened someone's heart with a joke or a good laugh, you are better able to do the hard work of liberation together. Though my work directly draws from feminist, queer, and transgender scholarship and activism, I try to make it accessible to people of all ages via the familiarity of coloring books. I LOVE COLORING, I always have. It is relaxing, creative and fun….  And above all, I just want people to be proud of themselves.

When I decided to make The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book, I approached it a bit differently than my other three books. With those books, I paid less attention to the design and more attention to the content. I just wanted to get the message to people. By the time the idea for this book came about, I had spent several years studying vintage books, art and design and wanted to incorporate a bit of what I had always loved about certain design into a book. I spent a week in my friend Neko Case’s library of old books, taking notes, snapping photos, and collecting ideas for what would become this book. She has a beautiful farm in Vermont. It’s not a bad place to spend a week working! And then I reached out to Leela Corman, who I had met 13 years ago at a writing retreat with Lynda Barry. We had stayed in touch through the years and I had followed her work. I was blown away when she published Unterzakhn, a hauntingly gorgeous graphic novel about two sisters growing up in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s. When she said that she would love to illustrate The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book, we set out collaborating by sending ideas through email and setting up shared documents that we could work on from two different states. It took over a year, and luckily my publisher, PM Press/Reach and Teach was psyched about the project.

When you look at the history of the word Gay, it meant “exuberant, bright, attractive, lively, happy…” The antonyms for Gay are “joyless, depressed, lifeless, spiritless…” So the next time someone says “you’re so gay” to you, say “thanks”.

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Confession: it has been 5 years since my last coloring book.

When I first met Leela Corman over 10 years ago at a Lynda Barry Writing the Unthinkable retreat, I never dreamed that we would one day create a book of ABCs together.  I have come to be a great admirer of her and her work. And there is a very special photo of her pre-teen self in the back of our new book. You should buy it just for that.

A is for Astrology. B is for Beaches. C is for City Hall... Sixty-four pages illustrating 26 words highlighting memorable victories, collective moments and ordinary schemes in LGBTQP culture. As you crack the spine on this book, we hope you are left asking, “Isn't everything fabulous in this world just a little bit gay?” You must have already wondered that anyway, right? This question is celebrated on every page.

I am enduringly grateful to PM Press and Reach & Teach who continue to say yes to to my irreverent field studies. They are the embodiment of the perfect publishers, growing wildly in an age where indie print media has taken a nose dive. I love them and all the revolutionary writers they support. Take a look at their catalog when you have a chance.


Mountainous gratitude goes out to Serena Rodriguez who sat for unnamed hours with me in my living room and helped me turn my sketches and brain dreams into a print media reality. ALSO immense love to Julie Novak who can go back and forth with me for hours out-gaying one another. It is because of friends like her that I can even think of things like this. Colossal appreciation for Neko Case who let me run rampant in her gorgeous library of vintage books so I could take notes, snap photos and study as I made preparations for this book. These people are all so supremely good, through and through.

Most of all, thank YOU! Maybe you bought a book directly from me and sent it to your niece. Maybe you came to one of my workshops and made me cry with your vast amounts of love & creativity. Maybe you sent me a nice letter. Maybe you told me what a difference my book made to your family. YOU keep me going, filled with support and encouragement.

The best place to buy the book is from my etsy shop, but it will also be online anywhere you find books.

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Jacinta Bunnell is a fabulous example of creative and energetic people found in our Hudson Valley community. She is a productive artist and children’s book author, and an assistant 2nd grade teacher at High Meadow School in Stone Ridge, New York. She is also a co-founder of the Hudson Valley Broads’ Regional Arm Wrestling League (BRAWL), where she is known as Magenta Delecta.

There is no better proof that art is life, not a profession or commodity, than Jacinta. Her house, her life, her wardrobe, even her friends are all colorful, vibrant, and fun. Her artworks reflect events and pieces of her life, and her life is full of her artistic sensibility. She incorporates works by children in her work; she uses paint samples to create a garland to decorate her house. She even created artworks out of a tragedy. In 2011, the house she and her partner Michael were renting was flooded in Hurricane Irene. So much of their belongings were damaged. Her friends poured their support in the days following the storm, cleaning and drying damaged belongings, including stacks of paper which were laid out on the lawn to dry and photographed by Michael Asbill. Later she used those sheets of paper to create a map of Stone Ridge, which hangs in their new house.

The Hudson Valley BRAWL also blurs the line between art and life. Ordinary people like teachers, accountants, and nurses, adopt alter-personas like Accupunisher and Pushy Galore, clad themselves in elaborate costumes and put on a show with entourages, who collect money from the audience to raise fund for a charity, different at each event. “The BRAWL planning committee is made up of working class people. We are not your typical philanthropists, but we do this because it is important community work.” Being at the BRAWL always makes me wonder what art is.

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Jacinta: Fixed in my mind are the memories of driving around town with my mother listening to The Sound of Music, Paint Your Wagon, and Blood on the Tracks on the 8-track player in our car.  My mom was and still is a great fan of musicals and Bob Dylan. We had a humble collection of well-loved 8-tracks, more like relatives than collections of songs because of the way they were woven into the fundamental nature of family life. As much as I adore the ease and comfort of my life now, I find myself hankering for certain aspects of an extraordinarily vivid and simple past, a time when I did not have thousands of songs in a digital library I can carry anywhere, when the only periodical to choose was Mad Magazine, when I would stretch the coiled phone cord into the other room to have a private conversation with a girlfriend. I could be ever so satisfied with a life surrounded by heirlooms. When I was young, my mother feared I would be crushed eventually by my collection of all things baby and all things old. I wanted to be surrounded by old details like grandmas, Roman numerals and oak iceboxes. Baby everything (game pieces, furry animals and sequins) have always been irresistible to me. Heirloom seeds are the perfect combination of baby and old: a single seed contains ancient shared intelligence that each of us can tap into and yet is not even in the infancy of its growth: all at the same time!  When planning a visit to see my friend Neko Case at her farm in rural Vermont, I wanted to bring her a personalized gift.  I knew she had a huge garden filled with heirloom vegetables that was her solace after long exhausting weeks of travel as a touring musician. So I re-purposed a vintage 8-track cassette case for Neko and filled it with many of my favorite Hudson Valley Seed Library seed packets. On the inside of the box, I carefully wrote the word “heirloom” in a script inspired by old-fashioned handwriting. I even prefer old lettering to new. Upon receiving the gift, she added to its riches with her existing collection of heirloom seed packets without delay. Later that weekend, she proudly showed me around her garden as we harvested that evening’s dinner. Of the treasured growth, there was none she was more proud of than the beans she had grown from saving last year’s seeds.

Neko: Receiving the 8-track seed case was like getting the most custom-made personal gift ever. Jacinta knows how I feel about heirloom seeds so it was the most hopeful and super joyful gift anyone could get. The 8-track player was a huge part of my childhood and I have always bought those 8-track carriers at thrift stores. I would feel bad throwing out the organizing slots because I am not a thrower-away of stuff. But seed packets fit perfectly! I am not surprised that Jacinta came up with this idea because she is a super clever person. It is one of those times when you feel like a total a-hole for not coming up with it yourself!  I come from a farming family. All I am thinking about right now is this particular time we live in and what rebellion means within that context. The most subversive thing you can do in the U.S. is to grow your own food. It is traditional, therapeutic and grounding. Feeding people is the greatest feeling. Seeds are about community, even if you are just growing for yourself. Growing plants that are native to your region gives you a real respect for your food. It is our most basic need next to air and water.  When I received the 8-track seed case I thought about how Fred Flintstone always bought Wilma a bowling ball for her birthday because it was what he wanted, not what she wanted...and how Jacinta’s gift was exactly the opposite of that. It made me realize how much someone really cares about me and knows me. It is a f*ing genius idea!

Neko Case is a musician and gardener who lives in rural Vermont.

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Source: http://www.seedlibrary.org/blog/eight-trac...


Recently, our friend Jon Wurster of Superchunk gifted Margaret Cho a set of our coloring books. Here she is modeling them. We think she's pretty adorbs. And fantastic. Who isn't a fan of Margaret Cho?