Okay, I've decided I'm playing Bellefonte Cafe tonight in the ugliest dress ever made, with a necklace made of deer antlers, with my back to the audience, and I'm only playing covers. Come on. ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

In Defense of Art in the Cyber World: a Spontaneous Manifesto


“The imagination today is under siege. We are saturated with information; with concepts and opinions that stream ready formed, ready learned from our mouths and are fed to us by the chatter of media networks.” – From Roger Housden’s Why Poetry Is Necessary

In a modern materialist world, we have so much control over our temperatures, births and deaths, appearances, food, and nature in our human terrariums.  We pump money into technology so we can have anything we want whenever we want it, and won’t that satisfy all of our desires?  What place does the artist have in modern society?  Who needs art when all of our needs can already be met by money and science?

1. In our technological convenience, we are disconnected from the earth and our bodies.  Art connects us with our true selves, with what it means to be human.

2. We are constantly connected to each other, yet we have that nagging feeling that we lack community.  Art connects us to each other on a deeper level.

3. Through social media we can all pretend to be experts, but underneath we know how ignorant we are.  Art deals with the unknown and the unknowable.

4. Despite our veil of complete safety, our lives are extremely fragile.  Any natural disaster, sudden illness, or accident can completely uproot us.  In a dangerous and unpredictable world, in which we are completely vulnerable, art gives us comfort.

5. Psychology has demystified our own minds, and medicine has given us anti-everything drugs.  Even though we understand, we are still slaves to our desires.  In a completely logical world, we still go all inexplicably crazy in love and hate and anger and despair.  Art helps us anchor ourselves in a whirlpool of emotions.

6. Atrocities happen.  We think we can never get through this or make sense of any of it.  Art offers no answers, but helps us sit with the question.

7. We all die.  Art deals with mystery and possibility in a life we don’t understand.

Kurt Vonnegut likened artists to the “canary in the coal mine;” artists are “the raw nerve endings of society” who can see in the dark and give early warning signs.  By clicking below you can listen to my song “Canaries,” which is based on this idea.

Meet me at my website to connect amidst what Kerouac called that “Bleak inhuman Loneliness.”

Sing Truth to Power,

Noelle Picara

I’m a Misogynist


Recently I went to the eye doctor, and after the nurse did my initial eye check she said, “the doctor will be in to see you in a few minutes.”  Soon the door opened, and a beautiful young woman walked in.  I noticed my first reaction was, “this can’t be the doctor.”

Horrified, I started challenging my original thought.  Of course women are doctors.  Of course this woman can be in her late twenties or early thirties and be a doctor.  Of course women who are smart and educated can also be gorgeous and sexy.  All of these things I know are true, but yet my initial gut reaction was one of surprise when this woman walked in the door, when I was expecting the doctor.  Then it hit me what the problem was.

I realized that I’m a misogynist.

Even though I’ve studied internalized oppression, internalized sexism, and I’ve taught my students about it, I’m not immune.  If I had such limiting beliefs about doctors and the woman in front of me, is it possible I have these beliefs about myself as well?

It takes a hard look at yourself.  In meditation we see things we don’t really want to see about ourselves.  And then we can’t un-see them.  Personally, I think I’ve been operating my whole life with the fundamental belief that men are the ones in power in the world, and in order to achieve my goals or to be successful, at some point I’ll need to convince male gatekeepers of that power to support me, and to give me what I want, or to give me permission.

In my mind, deep below all of my feminist ideals and intellectual background, that means sex appeal.  This is the way to power in the world.

Where did I get that message?  Being raised in an environment of sexual abuse probably didn’t help.  But in the film America the Beautiful 3, director Darryl Roberts looks at how images in the media are sending girls the message that, “if you’re not fuck-able, you’re invisible.”

I see a lot of teenage girls going through that dance – realizing that they have this sexuality, that it is a kind of power, and then seeing how they can use it to get attention and the things that they want.  In his TED Talk, Why I Stopped Watching Porn, Ran Gavrieli talks about how most 12-year-olds now have access to porn.  Girls grow up with the idea not only that their power is only in their attractiveness to men, but that using their sexuality (reduced by porn to simply mean penetration) is also the only way to get love.

We think that using sex appeal gives us power, but really we are not empowered at all.  We are only borrowing power, like a loan from a bank, who has the ability to foreclose on us at any time when they decide we’re no longer “fuck-able.”

A lot of female musicians seem to walk the line, too, between owning female sexual power and giving it away.  In Lady Gaga’s live performance of Poker Face, she seems strong and empowered, even when saying, “get your dicks out,” and miming giving hand jobs while singing.  I’m not so sure here.  I’m not convinced.  It seems like the message here is that the only way to hold onto your own sexuality as a woman is to be the pimp as well as the whore.  You’re willingly giving it away, and you don’t give a shit.

This is the story of the old madam in the brothel, and the way women have navigated patriarchy for thousands of years.  This is a lot of what my song Chameleon is about.

Is that the only way, even now?

I don’t know the answer yet.  I’m just sitting with the question.

I’m just starting with this – I’m a misogynist.  Now what to do about it?

The Monsters Inside Us

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King


In a recent interview I was asked, “do you mind being associated with ghouls and monsters?”  This started me thinking. Why do I dress up as monsters?  Do I feel like I’m a monster?

Monsters serve a purpose for us.  They allow us to access a part of ourselves that we often deny.  And sometimes this is useful. We spend so much of our lives trying to be pretty, to be nice, to be accepted.  There is something we love about bringing out the ugly, messy bits, the animal ferocity, the abandon that monsters allow us.

This is especially true for women.  Often we get the feeling that we will be rewarded for being quiet, nice, and pretty.  I feel that we need a space to be aggressive and bloody.

It’s not about violence or negativity, or being depressed.  It’s about reclaiming a part of ourselves that we’ve denied, in order to be a full expression of our humanity.

So join me.  Let’s be monsters.  RAWR.

Happy Halloween!

p.s. stay tuned – very soon you’ll have gifts of new songs and videos from Noelle Picara :)