Remembering Niki Massey: Blog Roundup

[Updated to add new memorial posts. They are underneath the Basho poem at the bottom.]

I think Niki Massey would be astonished by the lives she touched and the impact she had. When you’re living in a country that values white skin, conventional beauty, thinness, able bodies, religion, heterosexuality, and political conservatism, it’s horribly difficult to feel good about yourself when you’re none of those things. But because Niki defied pretty much every convention ever, and wasn’t quiet about it, she was the kind of person who means the world to need an advocate. She was someone who didn’t pull punches. She was someone who didn’t suffer injustice in silence. She was someone who felt the fear and didn’t always succeed but tried her heart out anyway. She was someone who kept going no matter how much she wanted to quit. She was everything to us.

A lot of people have memorialized her beautifully. I’ll be sharing as many of those memorials as I can over the next few days. Today, we’ll start with one of my favorite pictures of her, and the blog posts I’ve found so far. Please do feel free to add links to any of them at Ronja Addams-Moring’s Facebook post or in the comments here. And if you want to add a message to those who are remembering Niki, please do comment at my Facebook page. I’ll be collecting those tributes into a post later this week.

Image shows Niki Massey outside, standing in front of a red car, taking a selfie. She's dyed her black locs red, and they are pulled back by a headband. She's wearing red-stemmed black-rimmed glasses. She has huge silver lightning bolt earrings, and is wearing a tank dress that looks like the cosmos, in shades of pink and blues and white and purples. She has an almost Mona Lisa smile. She's wearing a black chain necklace with a huge rectangular shell pendant in peach shades.
Niki Massey, from her Facebook page. She had a magnificent style. I’m going to miss her makeup and clothes selfies along with everything else about her.

Continue reading “Remembering Niki Massey: Blog Roundup”

Remembering Niki Massey: Blog Roundup

Sunday Song: For Niki

Niki Massey is gone. She was one of the best of us. I don’t know if she ever knew that, or believed us when we told her. I wish I had one last minute with her. I wish I had a minute to tell her how good and brave and brilliant and beautiful she was, and how much better the world was for having her in it.

I wish she could see the outpouring of love on her Facebook wall. I wish she could hear all of the words from the people she’s touched.

She was kind, and fierce, and she never stopped trying no matter how much circumstances made her despair. She was always there for people. She always had the sharpest insight, and the right words, and the biggest heart of us all.

And now she is gone. And the world will never be the same. There’s a great big gaping hole where she should be.

Niki. I love you, and I miss you, and I am ferociously glad I had the privilege of knowing you. I’m so glad we were colleagues. And I know I’m not the only one who will be fighting for the things you wanted to change. If I have to burn down the world to change it for you, I will. You deserve nothing less.

Niki loved VNV Nation. I remember how thrilled I was to find out. We didn’t really get a chance to geek out over them. I don’t know what her favorite song was. But this reminds me of her.

Rest in power.

Image shows Niki Massey, a beautiful black woman with shoulder-length locs, wearing a black felt hat. She is pulling her glasses down and winking at the camera without smiling.
Niki Massey. Image from her Facebook wall.

If you want to share memories of her to be preserved in a post on my blog, please go to my Facebook page.

My love and deepest sympathy to her chosen family and friends.

Continue reading “Sunday Song: For Niki”

Sunday Song: For Niki

Why Kill For Honor?

Qandeel Baloch, a fiercely independent woman who dared to defy the stringent modesty rules of her culture, is dead, murdered by her own family.

Image shows Qandeel Baloch, a young woman with long dark hair, wearing sunglasses and looking down. She is buckling herself into what looks like a carnival ride. There are black bars over her shoulders like one sees on roller coasters.
The last photo from Qandeel Baloch’s Facebook mobile upload folder.

The kind of violence she suffered is called an honor killing, and we here in the West too often don’t realize what’s meant by that. We’re given to trite, pithy comments about how there’s nothing honorable about killing your sister or your daughter or your wife. If we understood what honor meant in those cultures, we wouldn’t say such things.

Hiba Krisht has a heartbroken post up that explores many facets of Qandeel’s death and its impact on those who live with the threat of the same thing happening to them. She also explains what honor is. We need to listen. We must understand why these murders happen if we want to help prevent them.

It’s a funny thing to think about, this question of honor.

And what kind of person do you have to be, for your honor to depend on your family members conforming to a restrictive standard of behavior?
This question of honor. And individuals. And anger and and shame and fear. What kind of human do you have to be?

Perhaps, the kind of human who lives in a society where the standing and reputation of your family– its honor– dictates just about every measure of accessibility and livelihood.

Continue reading “Why Kill For Honor?”

Why Kill For Honor?

Justice Antonin Scalia Dies, Proves Elections Have Consequences

Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, died in his sleep after a nice day’s hunting. I’m glad that his last day on earth was pleasant, and he didn’t suffer, and my condolences go out to the family and friends who mourn his passing. My congratulations go out to the people he will be unable to fuck over in this and future Supreme Court terms.

Obviously, this changes the political and legal landscape considerably. We already have Republicans demanding Obama not appoint anyone to the bench, and vowing to block anyone he does, so replacing Scalia should be a lively process. I hate to tell them, but blocking a sitting President from appointing a Supreme Court justice in his last year in office won’t actually turn out well for them. And there’s a little something they should recall: Continue reading “Justice Antonin Scalia Dies, Proves Elections Have Consequences”

Justice Antonin Scalia Dies, Proves Elections Have Consequences

A Magnificent Acapella Version of Hotel California

January 2016 continued its wholesale slaughter of famous musicians and actors by claiming the Eagles’ Glen Frey. January 2016, what are you doing? January 2016, stahp.

Anyway. One of my friends posted this absolutely incredible video of a group called Cubanos Acapella singing Hotel California. And if you haven’t heard this, you need to set aside some time and a quiet space and listen. I was impressed when Jimmy and the Wazoo Peach Pitters managed to do Helter Skelter acapella,* but damn.

Took me a while to collect my jaw from the floor after that.

I have a particular fondness for this song. I have memories of my dad trying to explain it to me. I was probably about 9 or 10, and he was introducing me to his generation’s music, and we were discovering we had a mutual fondness for much of it. But of course, I was super-young, and had no idea what the 70s even were, much less what young adults had done with them, so most of this song went wooshing right over my head despite his patient explanations. And I never asked him to clear up some of the lingering mysteries for me: I had no idea why ghosts had anything to do with wine, or why a spirit might have left the hotel in 1969, never to return. Dad did a reasonable job trying to explain what “of our own device” meant, but it was still a pretty vague concept. I am only just now finding out he fibbed when he said colitas was a type of flower (buds, Dad, very funny). But we both had fun singing it together, and ultimately that was the only thing that mattered. Continue reading “A Magnificent Acapella Version of Hotel California”

A Magnificent Acapella Version of Hotel California

Taking Some Time Away

On top of everything else going down, B and I ended our two year relationship yesterday, so expect me to be scarce for a little while. I’m sorry, I just can’t even right now. I’ll be back eventually, and hopefully there will be future adventures with B – just this time, we’ll be out as friends rather than mates.

It’s going to take some time before I’m all right with this. He is the person I would’ve liked to have spent an appreciable portion of the rest of my life with, but we couldn’t work through some of the more serious issues. It happens. Sucks, but happens. Continue reading “Taking Some Time Away”

Taking Some Time Away


Sometimes, the news from my old home state is horrible.

Yarnell, Arizona is a tiny little community along the Highway 89 corridor. It’s got less than a thousand people. It’s in dry country, just a little north of Phoenix, near Prescott. There’s been a drought, and record heat, and it’s the dry-lightning season, when everything’s ready to go up at a spark, and the clouds give bolts with no rain. This is the time of year when Arizona residents bite their lips and look worriedly at the wilderness, hoping against hope they won’t see the thin column of smoke that speaks of a conflagration to come.

Lightning struck. The winds picked up. And that dry chaparral around Yarnell went up like someone had doused it with gasoline and lit a match. Continue reading “19”


Friday Freethought: “The Church Cannot Be Afflicted With the Same Idiot Forever”

I have to admit I sniggered upon hearing the news that Pope Ratzinger was on his way out the door. I won’t miss him. And I can hardly wait to see what the Catholic Church will inflict upon us next.

In the meantime, I figured we’d do a few quotes from Robert Ingersoll for the blessed occasion of the first retirement of a pope in 600 years. Two in two thousand years retiring rather than dying or being forced out means that Robert’s observation on ecclesiastical power remains pretty much spot-on:

Vol. 2:

You can hardly expect a bishop to leave his palace, or the pope to vacate the Vatican. As long as people want popes, plenty of hypocrites will be found to take the place. And as long as labor fatigues, there will be found a good many men willing to preach once a week, if other folks will work and give them bread. In other words, while the demand lasts, the supply will never fail.

If the people were a little more ignorant, astrology would flourish—if a little more enlightened, religion would perish!

Ah, for that great day….

As for the crimes of Pope Ratzinger, namely the crime of shuffling pedophiliac priests off to new pastures, where people weren’t aware that their spiritual head was all about raping children: if you’re surprised a man o’ god could be so evil, have a dose of reality.

Vol. 3:

Let it be remembered that the popes have committed every crime of which human nature is capable, and that not one of them was the friend of intellectual liberty—that not one of them ever shed one ray of light.

But this, of all, I believe is my favorite quote. I laugh every time I come across it, and it remains funny because it’s so damned true. Keeping in mind that “capable of” doesn’t mean “is in favor of” when it comes to the intellectual advancement stuff.

Vol. 5:

The Catholics have a pope. Protestants laugh at them, and yet the pope is capable of intellectual advancement. In addition to this, the pope is mortal, and the church cannot be afflicted with the same idiot forever.

Here’s looking forward to a new idiot as we wave goodbye to the old. Adios, Benny.

Please avail yourself of the nearest exit at the earliest available opportunity, and ensure your egress is not marred by a sharp contact between door and rear. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Please avail yourself of the nearest exit at the earliest available opportunity, and ensure your egress is not marred by a sharp contact between door and rear. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Friday Freethought: “The Church Cannot Be Afflicted With the Same Idiot Forever”

Daniel in the Lion's Den

This will end in tears, mark my words. The tears will begin as soon as I make this sad announcement: Daniel Fincke is leaving us. I blame the Reason Rally for this tragic loss, and I’ll tell you why.

Dan emailed me afterward. He was walking on clouds. “Dana,” he gushed, “they talked about the Enlightenment! In public!!

Well, I’m a fan of the Enlightenment. I think it’s one of the most interesting periods in human history, and I’m constantly amazed by the leap of understanding humanity made during that short period. But while Enlightenment values are under attack, I didn’t think speaking out about it in public warranted italics. I mean, it’s still a free country with free speech and we can talk about the Enlightenment if we want to. I began to worry about Dan’s emotional state.

Continue reading “Daniel in the Lion's Den”

Daniel in the Lion's Den