Monday, March 31, 2008

i like you, but i'm not ready to bond.

like a moth to the flame (is this phrase a little out-of-date? can we start saying halogen lamp yet?), i seem to be perpetually drawn against my will to news about harvard and the various types of people that reside there (read: the various types of people i dislike). The latest bit of news is this new york times magazine article about the new leadership of my favorite club: True Love Revolution. sidenote: thats not actually sarcasm, they really are my favorite. just not maybe for the reasons they'd want.

anyways, this article led me to have two thoughts, which i will share with you now:

1) i know i may have asked this question before, but is there seriously NO other news? its one thing to publish an article about a 12-member club at an undergraduate college, its another, even more ridiculously sad for your publication, thing to publish more than one. don't think i didn't already read the article last summer about TLR. i read it. i thought it was absurd. i thought, "at least now that i've read it, i probably won't have to read it again." wrong. it just leaves you wondering what the big fascination is. word on the street is scientists are developing a machine that could accidentally implode the earth. but i guess the philosophical (not religious! i swear!) musings of a 21 year old virgin are also news.

2) while reading the article (LOST is in re-runs until april 24th, so the last few pages where leo confesses his secret sexy thoughts about janie were great monday night entertainment for me), it dawned on me that i think these people are a little confused. ok, i already knew they were a little confused, but you probably know all my old stale reasons. like "rational thought." here is my new one: this girl's whole argument is that she doesn't want to have sex with her boyfriend because that will release oxytocin (ahhh! run away!) and cause her to bond with him. which will then make her irrational, and will cause her to be heartbroken when they inevitably break up. To be safe, she's going to wait til she's married to take a hit off the oxytocin everyone's been getting so damn high off of. Here's the thing: if she's not basing her marriage off some sort of intimacy, "bonding," we might call it, how exactly IS she deciding who to marry? apparently her current boyfriend is cool and respects her and all that, but she doesn't want to get too attached. she could walk away at any moment. which is great if bonding is what you're trying to avoid, but then maybe they should change the name to "true like revolution." because i'm not feelin the love.

moral of the story: the whole claim that sex causes intimacy (which leads to disaster!) is probably true (ish). but if you're not having sex with your boyfriend, you're not particularly 'bonded' with him, and you could walk away whenever you felt like, chances are your lack of intimacy is about a bit more than lack of sex. so its probably not going to be a great discovery for you when you get married, have sex, and realize the oxytocin wasn't quite a big enough boost to make your relationship a functional one. luckily, you've also got oxytocin's hip older brother, oxycontin, to get you through the hard times.

as an additional aside, because i just can't help myself, i especially enjoyed the part where they say they're not homophobic because they haven't come out (chuckle) and said explicitly that gays aren't welcome. right. I recently had a conversation with someone on a different subject where they said the presidential race hasn't been racist at all because no one has called barack obama the N word, and no hecklers have yelled at him to "shine their shoes." I think its pretty much time for people to learn that you don't get a gold star for managing to not express your bigotry in the most blatant way possible. I'm thinking of starting a support group. It will be called "i hate you, but i had no idea you were smart enough to notice." just 12 steps and you, too, will be able to interact with minorities without making them want slap you upside your head. sign up today!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

for your listening (and viewing) pleasure.

I like this song and video. It has nothing to do with politics or society or any of the stuff this blog is about, I just wanted to post it. Huzzah!

Friday, March 28, 2008

in other news...

So i meant to blog about this a while ago (like when it actually came out) but one thing led to another and i just didn't. deal with it. moving on, the new york times magazine "recently" featured an article entitled "when girls will be boys," about transmen at women's colleges. I read it kind of expecting it to be terrible, and was pleasantly surprised. Aside from the typical title and an awkward usage of the word "razzed" (who says that anymore?), the article was actually pretty good. of course it had its issues, which i'll lay out below as i love to do, but on the whole i'd recommend reading it. It seemed like the author tried pretty hard to write an interesting and honest article.

There was not too much mention of transwomen in the article, which isn't necessarily a problem since it was pretty specifically an article about transmen, but it did sort of make me wonder whether a similar article about transwomen would go over as easily (hint: probs not). which got me thinking all sorts of thoughts about gender and life, but i'll spare you.

So the one beef i had with the article was this: there was NO kind of mention of class anywhere in it, and the author talks about the "possibility of needing extra insurance," and casually mentions Rey's payment for testosterone and top surgery out-of-pocket as if its no thing. Now i'm no expert on "money" (god knows i'm no expert on money) but i'm pretty sure those things are pretty expensive. and i'm almost positive that MY insurance doesn't cover them. and my insurance covers a whole hell of a lot. the whole article is sort of written as if the only people who go through any sort of transition re: gender identity are wealthy (white) well-educated, "artsy" type hipsters and gays. and there are definitely those people, but ignoring all the poor people and the people of color within the transgender/genderqueer community seems to do a pretty big disservice all around in that it erases their stories, and kind of de-legitimizes the experiences of those well-to-do people, making their transition seem more like a fad than a legit experience.

Other than that though, good article. I encourage you to read it, and leave you to ponder the main point of the article: transmen at women's colleges - how do we feel? are they intruders? i mean i'd say sort of obviously no because as anyone who's study gender theory for one second or less would know, our society's gender issues can't be simplified into "man versus woman." so talking about transmen as boys trying to infiltrate a space for women is sort of like saying biracial students are just white people trying to infiltrate HBCUs. and on the subject of HBCUs, is it actually even legal to tell transmen they can't go to women's colleges? maybe i'm wrong about this, but i thought white people COULD go to HBCUs, just usually don't. wouldn't the same kind of rule apply re: gender?

anyways, ponder it. i especially liked the line about women's colleges serving simultaneously as "finishing schools and as incubators of American feminism." what a conundrum!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

its a metaphor (aka "get over it")

disclaimer: if you're like me and watch shows like the wire on dvd a year late because you can't afford HBO, this post might spoil season 3 for you. then again, season 3 was like, 3 years ago so if thats the case you need to step up your dvd-watching game. on to the post:

I don't know what's more disturbing: the article I read in the new york times today or the fact that said article has mysteriously vanished from the website. i'll have to do this from memory. If i recall, it said that about how 28% of Clinton supporters would vote for McCain over Obama, and 19% of Obama supporters would vote Mccain over Clinton.

(ok i took a short break from writing this to overcome my laziness and just google it, and of course the first link was to the new york times. like it was there all along. i see your evil tricks, internet. it was hard to find before.)

aaanyways, like i said, disturbing. i mean get that people get really invested in "their" candidate. you watch them on tv and on youtube, you get super passionate about the promise the future holds, you make t-shirts and signs and in general act like college students at a division III football game. i get it. its fun. ish. and i mean don't get me wrong, i totally get invested in things on occasion too. and when shit doesn't go my way on the television, i've been known to hold a grudge. For example, when (spoiler alert!) stringer bell got shot dead on the wire i was mad as hell for like, a week. i just walked around complaining about it to anyone who would sit still and feel to guilty to get up and leave. and for a week after that i didn't want anything to do with omar
and couldn't bring myself to start season 4. but i got over it and continued on to enjoy season 4. why? first of all its a tv show, and you need to let that shit go, and second of all because i had heard season 4 was the best one. but most importantly, omar is one of the best characters on the show, and if stringer is dead you need to just move on and watch the show for the characters you like who are still alive. i think you get my point. lets say your candidate's campaign were to "die." it wouldn't even be as dramatic and fucked up as it was with stringer. they'd probably just put it to sleep quietly in a press conference. but you'd have to be pretty much a complete idiot to carry the resentment about that straight through to november and vote for mccain instead of the democratic candidate. because lets face it: the wire is a tv show, but even though it LOOKS like a tv show, the presidential race is actually a contest that will apparently determine who our president will be for the next 4 years. so its like, a bit more of a big deal.

this was a very roundabout way of me saying this: people treat politics in this country like some sort of big game. which it is, in tons of ways, and we can get into that at a later date. but the part thats not really a game is the part about how the president's political interests affect national policy for 4 years. so if people actually care about shit like health care and education and aren't just registered as democrats because everyone else in their yoga class is, they might want to get over the bullshit and try not to hand over the election to john mccain.

oh, and also, wouldn't it be such a shame if the year we had a black man and a white woman as presidential hopefuls, they managed to tear each other down and give the presidency to a white man? yeah. that'd be a great one for the history books. jesus.

Monday, March 24, 2008

penalty on the court

Damn. I'm not even going to begin to comment, this article says it all. Please read and comment what you think.

LeBron James first Black man to pose for cover of Vogue magazine. Find out why this is ass after clicking the link.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

movie review: be kind rewind

So before I really get into writing all of this, I'll preface my post by admitting that this is probably my first review, at least on here, and that I'm going to be decidedly unapologetic about my opinions.   Moral of the story?  If you disagree with me, I guess you can say something about it, but your time might be better served going somewhere else.  Anyway..
I'll start right off by saying I loved this movie.  Loved it.  I'd pay to see it twice- in fact, I actually did (Kaya don't say I never did nothing fo' yo' ass).  It was an excellent mix of funny, sweet, genuine, down to earth and sombre, all things that make a movie go from good to great.  For those of you not familiar with the general concept of the film, I'll go ahead break it down for you:
Be Kind Rewind is a story following a lovably awkward group of misfit characters caught in the monotony of their everyday lives in the unbearably static yet ominously evolving community of Passaic, New Jersey.  Mike (Mos Def) is a young man living with and working for his adoptive father figure Mr. Fletcher in 'Be Kind Rewind,' a slightly archaic (their only medium is the already obsolete video cassette) video store and community mainstay whose claim to fame is "1 day 1 dollar" rentals.  When Mike's best friend, a neurotic mechanic named Jerry (Jack Black), hatches a plan to foil "the power plant" that is secretly "controlling" everyone in their community, he accidently creates an intense magnetic field around himself, and, in so doing, erases all of the tapes in 'Be Kind Rewind' on his next visit.  After this a bunch of hilarity ensues as Mike and Jerry try to cover their asses by re-filming hobo'd, 20-minute versions of the films in the store, which surprisingly become a hit in the community.
What you won't see in the previews for Be Kind is the elephant-in-the-room issue of gentrification and the racial segmentation of communities.  What you quickly learn as the film takes off, is that 'Be Kind Rewind' is in very real danger- the Housing and Zoning department of Passaic wants to demolish the building to make way for new condominiums, "improving the life of the people in this community."  So, what once began as an attempt to stay out of trouble becomes a desperate and hurried mission to save the store from demolition and its inhabitants from having to relocate to the projects.
Normally for a movie like this I'd be all moved by the messages and have the humor as an added bonus, but Gondry doesn't do that.  The film carries like a billion different messages (just read the reviews out there that discuss pop-culture consumption, the creation and ownership of art, race relations and creating community) but is able to refrain from really preaching any one of them.  He doesn't make anyone the clear "bad guy" (lol, well, maybe nobody but Sigourney Weaver, who also has a cameo toward the end of the film) and won't give the audience a corny, cookie-cutter set-up or ending.  It seems like it would be annoying, but what it really ends up being is very open and honest- you are let into these people's lives, and while your moment of voyeurism might be during a particularly comedic and turbulent time for them, there is no move made on their part to make you comfortable or pleased, they just exist, and I personally think that they, and the film, are better for it.
So yeah, this was kind of rambly, and didn't' say everything I felt (I don't want to give anything away) but suffice it to say that this was one of the best moviegoing experiences I've had in a long while.  Gondry, Black, Glover and Mos Def managed to make me feel a melange of emotions: joy, rage, excitement, sympathy, outrage, nostalgia, and most of all- enjoyment.
[EDIT] And just because he's great, here is a Mos Def video.  Mos, if you're reading this, I love you.  Even if you do have like 8 baby-mommas... lol.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I went against my better judgment

And read some internet comments, and remembered how racist everyone is.  Sad.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

a more perfect union?

i had no choice. i know i just said like, yesterday that i thought the world was oversaturated with election 2008, but clearly barack's big speech is blowin' up all over the internet and television, so i'd be remiss not to address it...

for those of you who have not yet read the transcript or seen the speech, feel free to take a moment and get back to us.

alright. so this is a long speech, which means it might turn into a long post, but i'll try to be as organized and coherent as possible (take note, maureen dowd!) as i let you know what i thought of barack's big day:

on the whole, i have to say i was impressed. don't get me wrong: i'm not joining the obama camp by any means, nor do i agree with everything he said in his speech. i do, however, think it was extremely well-written and well-delivered. i also think it was fairly politically astute (more on that in a moment), and i do think that he did as good a job as he could have of bringing some issues re: race into the public arena that before now haven't been articulated successfully by any public figure. and thats a pretty big deal. well maybe not "issues," but "issue:" the issue of black anger/rage. back in the day we had malcolm X (sidenote, TERRIBLE idea reverend wright, stealing that 'chickens come home to roost' line from malcolm. didn't you heard? word on the street is that got malcolm shot!), stokely carmichael, angela davis, etc. etc. holding it down for rage, but they were never really talking about that rage to white people. nowadays if someone talks like they did, they end up on national television as anti-american and anti-white, and never in all of politics (at least that i know of) has any major politician ever stood up and addressed that rage. why bother? angry black people are a pretty small percentage of the voting population. it doesn't pay to do them any favors. so i do think it's cool that obama addressed the issue of black anger and tried to put it in some historical perspective. at the very least, a lot more people are trying to understand that.

here's where i think he went wrong: and by "wrong," of course, i mean "i disagree," not that i had any sort of expectation he would go "right" (no pun intended). yes he talks about that anger, he makes a bold move in refusing to 'disown' his reverend, but he does throw anger under the bus. in his attempt to maintain credibility as a candidate, he doesn't just disagree with the reverend's 'inflammatory remarks,' he violently disagrees to the point of dishonesty. Here is the quote i'm thinking of:
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. it just me, or did he just go a taaad too far? that last sentence has a nicer ring coming out of the mouth of someone like george w. bush than it does out of america's 'man of the world.' but beyond that, this entire quote seems to be catering to the idea that historic injustice is not to blame for current injustice. that the "hateful ideologies of radical islam" are responsible for conflicts in the middle east dismisses quite a bit of imperialist history re: the forming of israel, and the idea of white racism as endemic is abonimable implies that the history of slavery and racism in this country is not as deep-rooted as i think he knows it to be. i don't believe that barack obama even believes these things. but he said them. and that's what worries me.

but like i say, on the whole, it was a good speech. he managed to synthesize 400 years of racism in under an hour, which is no easy feat, and at the same time talk about it in a way that sounds like he's above it (which i don't believe). I think it was very moving and inspirational at times, and i think it was certainly the best it could have been politically - if this doesn't get him nominated, america's just not ready for a black president (don't be shocked, obama fans). However I guess at the end of the day i was left with these two main nagging little problems:

1 - the sacrifices of values this speech seemed to hint at for me made me wonder whether its possible for a black man to get elected president and retain any of the values i would have supported him for. he had to violently denounce the views of someone who has been his "spiritual guide" for 20 years. that seems like a big deal. and it seems like in order to beat mccain, he'll have to do a lot more than that.

2 - i guess this whole "audacity of hope" idea just isn't flying with me. the key point in his speech, i thought, came when he said that the problem with Rev. Wright's various statements is that they were static - that they assume we live in a country that isn't making progress, and that cant change. I think that's a very astute point. if you just call the white man the devil and then just call it a day, you're being neither productive nor insightful. However as Nikki Giovanni once said, the ability to say 'i don't like white people' is a necessary step to being able to truly like them. the key is to take both steps, which i have a hunch the reverend has done. The question is what to do next, and barack's basic idea seems to be "hope for a better future." and i'm sorry, but that just doesn't fly with me. since everyone loves to call out martin luther king's name at a time like this, i'll jump on the bandwagon with an example: sure, he hoped for change. everyone who wants something hopes for it. but he didn't just sit around hoping, and more importantly he didn't ask other people to sit around hoping. He asked them to take action. Barack seems to think that voting for him is action enough. and that, i'm just not buying.

dag, this was long. my b.

"i HATE rap and r&b music"

Do you ever hear people say that? How often do you think it's because they're secretly racist?
Just something to ponder.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

i tried abstinence and ended up with herpes

so 'the teacher' has kindly pointed out what my conscience has been telling me for some time, which is that i really need to get off my ass and write another blog post. its just that recently the only things in the news have been hillary-obama and spitzer-kristen. and i really can't stand the thought of adding any more to either of those conversations. so i was at a loss. but here is a little thought for you to ponder while i wait for the news to start reporting news again:

a recent new york times article announced that 1 in 4 teenage girls now has an STD. needless to say, that number for black girls is significantly higher - more like 1 in 2. The article quotes Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards as saying that "the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price." truth. i think when people talk about politics in this country, its almost like they actually legitimately think its a game. who's going to win, and what kind of strategies are they going to use, and what plays are they going to make, etc. etc. except that some of those 'plays' are things like Bush's abstinence-only nonsense. Sure, the next president could (and should) change that, but the damage is done. bad policies have real and serious impacts that can't just be erased, and this one is particularly bad. And of course this article didn't even mention the promotion of abstinence-only based education to countries we give money for AIDS relief to - what kind of damage has THAT done, and how easy will THAT be to fix? when you're talking about things like taxes, one presidential term might not ruin toooo many lives. but when you're talking about public health, it can be a matter of life and death. and thats kind of scary.

so wouldn't it be nice if the newspapers and news channels were spending a little less time talking about spitzer's fuck-up and a little more time talking about the future of his health care agenda? just a thought.

p.s. good to know you're keeping up with us all the way from mississippi. we miss you over here on the east coast.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

in keeping with a theme...

another post about feelings!

so i just finished reading Gloria Naylor's "The Women of Brewster Place," (don't read the editorial reviews at the bottom of the amazon page if you don't want the whole story ruined for you) and first of all i have to strongly recommend that if you read the book, you don't read it in a public place, like the train. that said, it was a really wonderful book, but one quote in particular stood out to me and has sort of been haunting me ever since i finished the book. without giving too much away, two of the women have a fight, and one of them walks out the door. in a couple pages, something really horrible is going to happen to her to make me wish i had not read that chapter. anyways, the narrator says this about the one who stays:
"theresa would live to be a very old woman and would replay those words in her mind a thousand times and then invent a thousand different things she could have said or done to keep the tall yellow woman in the green and black dress from walking out of that door for the last time in her life. but tonight she was a young woman and still in search of answers, and she made the fatal mistake that many young women do of believing that what never existed was just cleverly hidden beyond her reach."
i just wanted to share that, because i didn't want to be the only person feeling extra-depressed about that line. as a young woman still in search of answers, there are about a million things i can think of that i believe are just 'cleverly hidden beyond my reach.' so damn. this chapter of the book was just devastating.

that said, i totally recommend you read the book. the writing was beautiful, and the stories really just speak to a lot of different pieces of you.