CatSynth 10th Anniversary!

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On July 19, we hit a major milestone: 10 years since our first post. And we celebrate as always with some stats:

2,982 Posts
14,031 Comments
4.7 comments per post
1088 Cat-and-synth pics, videos, etc.
430 Reviews, gig-reports, and related posts

In some ways, the blog activity has declined a bit since it’s height in the early 2010s. Much of the activity has moved over to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And more recently, we are looking to the future via our mobile apps – there is much more coming there in the not-too-distant future. Additionally, I find myself balancing time spent writing blog articles with an increasingly busy schedule of musical performances and such. All good things in their own way.

We are a bit late to celebrate this year due to some major personal and medical priorities on my part (all of which are going well, but also beyond the scope of this forum). It isn’t the first time our blog anniversary has gotten caught up in other things. Last year we missed the 9th anniversary entirely as we coped with Luna’s cancer diagnosis. And our first anniversary came amidst a major downtime for the site that took a week or so to fix.

As always, here is the photo of Luna that started it all on July 19, 2006.

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Luna hasn’t aged all that much, retaining her youthful appearance. And that beanbag chair is still a favorite of hers. It’s where she hangs out in the studio, and over the years we have taken major photos of her with it.

The studio has certainly gotten more crowded over time.

Please join us in celebrating 10 years of CatSynth, and looking forward to many more!

An Update on Luna

Luna napping

We got some unfortunate news the week after Luna’s visits to our regular vet and to our specialist. There has been a recurrence of the skin nodules, and possibly another mammary mass as well :(. This is not good news. But we will continue to do what we can for her. Our plan at this point is home chemotherapy for as long as needed, with the goal of arresting the growth of any cancer, and possibly shrinking it. It’s more “calling a truce” and keeping her healthy than aggressive attacks on the disease.

Luna herself is happy and healthy otherwise, her usual sweet and affectionate self. I am glad to see her enjoying life and seemingly unaffected by the disease. The goal is to keep her that way and have lots more time together. The complication right now is that it comes at a challenging juncture with my own medical issues – a story for another time – but we will make it work.

Thanks as always for your continued thoughts and purrs.

SF Trans March 2016

It is pride weekend in San Francisco, and it is a particularly poignant one after the shootings in Orlando only two weeks ago. It is an extra mission for many of us to show up this year and be present, and be defiant. Before the main parade and event today, I wanted to share a report from the annual Trans March that opened up pride on Friday evening.

I met up with the march on Market Street in downtown San Francisco, not far from CatSynth HQ.

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Here are some scenes moving forward with the march.

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I particularly liked this moment with both the transgender pride flag and the kitty cat.

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The march turned from Market onto Taylor Street and stopped at the corner of Turk and Taylor in the Tenderloin.

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I have written about walking the entire length of Taylor in a previous article, including passing through this stretch. But it turns out to also be a very important spot in LGBTQ history, in particular for the history of transgender identity and rights. The corner of Turk and Taylor is the site of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots in 1966 – three years before Stonewall. Compton’s Cafeteria at 101 Taylor Street was one of the few “safe” gathering places for transgender people in the city in the 1960s. You can read a brief account of the riot here. The history is not as well known as Stonewall, but this 50th anniversary commemoration was a step towards correcting that. The ceremony included veterans of the riots, and the unveiling of a new street name.

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Immersing myself in this history is a relatively new things for me, as I have been mostly involved in my own process and in the larger LGBTQ community. But I am happy to be getting deeper into it, and to participate in events like this.

#WeAreOrlando Personal Response

More than any of the mass shootings in the last few years (and they seem to happen more and more often), this one has especially rattled me and affected me. There is the realization that this wasn’t random, but targeting a specific group. Targeting the LGBTQ community. Targeting us. I see more of myself in the 49 names and faces than I do in the victims after most shootings, not because their lives weren’t as precious, but because these victims could have been me. And then there is the frustration that this will get lost in the prevailing rhetoric that predictably goes to gun control and fears of Islamic terrorism. Sure, there have been a lot of statements of sympathy towards the LGBTQ community, and articles documenting the sad history of attacks over the decades, but nothing that puts the violent hatred towards us at the center of the conversation or looks at the causes of why this persists despite so much advancement legally and politically.

It is connected to things that do not involve guns but involve similar hate, such as the series of killings of trans women of color here in San Francisco, or the “bathroom laws” targeting the trans community that “other” and demonize trans women making them such likely targets. It’s the long history of arsons of gay clubs and even churches. Of beatings, particularly of gay men. Of the much mythologized Stonewall Riots themselves.

This occurs not in a vacuum but in the context of issues in the U.S. that don’t get enough scrutiny. We need to talk about how toxic masculinity fuels hatred towards sexual minorities. Young men already disaffected by whatever repulsed by two men kissing or a woman who may have been born a man. And we need to talk about the problem of religious fundamentalism. Even when it’s not in the forefront such as discrimination based on “religious freedom” it’s lurking in the background, with some connection to Christian or Islamic fundamentalism in particular used as justification. One must wonder why these religions would put so much focus on sexual identity and behavior that they would justify hurting or killing someone, but they do. And statements simply saying “we believe in peace” is not enough – we need people of faith to question why tenets against sexual minorities are even important to their religions at all, let alone something of such dire importance to discriminate or incite violence (or call special legislative sessions). They should to start to move away from these doctrines even if it is a break with “tradition”, and make it a priority to speak out against fear, hatred and violence of LGBTQ individuals. And those on the progressive left of U.S. politics, whom I see as comrades in most circumstances, need to also make this a priority. It’s hard to care about who is getting campaign money from whom when misguided laws and violence put ones own existence in question.

I certainly hope this moment doesn’t turn into an excuse for counter violence against anyone, much less a call to war. That would be the wrong outcome. The important thing is for those from communities most responsible for the hate and violence, angry disaffected men and religious communities, to question and show that they are ready to change and to say “no more of this. Not from us.” That’s a lot to ask, but we can at least start.

Happy 11th Gotcha Day Luna!

Today marks Luna’s 11th Gotcha Day (adoption anniversary) since I first brought her home from the Santa Cruz County animal shelter on June 10, 2005. She has come to be the queen of her home in the years since.

This Gotcha Day is a particularly sweet one, considering all that has happened over the past year. It was about one month after her previous anniversary that we saw the first signs of her cancer and got the formal diagnosis soon after. She was given only months at best with aggressive treatment. But with love, attention and the best medical care available, she is still with us a year later and thriving!

And she is still the star of CatSynth.

We are looking forward to a weekend of celebration and treats.

Please join me in wishing Luna a very happy Gotcha Day!

Mensa Cat Monday: All Tomorrows’ After Parties 2016

Next Now Presents’ All Tomorrows’ After Parties is a three-day festival of music happening in Berkeley on Friday June 3 through Sunday June 5. Here is our video for the event, courtesy of Jason Berry (J.B.) of Vacuum Tree Head.

Voice credits:
Jason Berry…………Male Mensa Cat, Announcer
Amanda Chaudhary…….Female Mensa Cat, Trump Duck

I will be performing Friday night at 9:30PM as part of Vacuum Tree Head. We have a great new lineup and sound, and I am really excited about the direction of the band.

I am also playing in two additional sets on Saturday June 4. At 5PM, I will be with Mika Pontecorvo and others in Lingua Incognita Project, and at 7PM I will debut one of my new bands, Census Designated Place (CDP) with guest Rent Romus. All three sets I am playing in will be funky!

Please join us, not just for these sets for the rest of the performances as well. It’s going to be some great music for a great cause (all proceeds go to benefit local homeless action projects in the Bay Area).

An Update On Luna

Since the skin surgery earlier this spring, Luna has been cancer free as far as we can tell. Indeed, after talking with our doctor we decided that there would be no need for another round of chemotherapy at this time! We will continue to monitor, and if future exams show any recurrence we will decide what to do from there. In the meantime, Luna is enjoying life and home and is thoroughly spoiled, including getting many of her favorite foods on demand.

Luna licking her chops

If there is one stress for her right now, is that I recently started a new job where I am back in an office. It’s been a tough adjustment for her, and it saddens me to see her stressed. We are both adapting and figuring it out – and I should be able to come play with her during breaks (the job is walking distance from CatSynth HQ here in San Francisco). I have very strong opinions about offices and working in teams, but those are best left for another day. After is, this as about Luna.

We love Luna!

Thank you all again for your thoughts and purrs. And hopefully we will be able to post more good news.

CatSynth Pic, and an Update on Luna

Luna, Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca Beats

Luna poses near her beanbag chair in the studio and stacked Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca BEATS. More importantly, she is now collar-free! She got the all clear at her post-surgery follow-up on Friday, as the incision is healing well. We will soon be in contact with the oncologist about a next round of chemo and hopefully we will knock out the cancer for real.

Luna has been much happier without the collar, and he mood has brightened a lot. She is playful and affectionate, but she does sleep a lot – she is a cat after all. But her sleeping once again looks very peaceful.

Luna sleeping in a circle

I am always impressed with her ability to curl up into a nearly perfect circle.

An Update on Luna: Surgery Recovery

Luna resting after surgery

Luna continues to recover from her surgery last weekend. She is mostly resting comfortably, but she has been alternately dopey from the painkillers and miserable from the discomfort and the insult of wearing the e-collar. It’s only in the last two days that she has started to seem herself again, eating more normally and wandering around the house as usual. Of course, she does continue to sleep quite a bit, but that is fine.

We did get a report from the surgeon that the skin spot was indeed the cancer (essentially we already knew that from tests), but that she was able to remove all of it, which is definitely good news. And so far the surgical incision appears to healing well. So once she is cleared from surgical post care, we can begin the next round of chemotherapy. No fun at all, but hopefully will put Luna back on the road to recovery.

Thanks as always for your continued purrs and healing vibes.

Update on Luna: Post Surgery

Luna recovering from surgery.

Luna’s surgery yesterday went well. Since it was just a small skin spot, it was much smaller than the original surgery last year and she was able to come home the same day. We are hoping for a quicker recovery as well. Nonetheless, it’s no fun at all for Luna. She has been eating normally and at times her energetic affectionate self – at others lethargic and clearly coping with some pain and discomfort. It’s no different from a human post surgery. I am administering pain medications and gentle affection to her today as she rests and recovers.

Thank you for your continued purrs and thoughts.