Sunday, June 30, 2019
Fifty years later, Pride is often seen as a white male celebration, though alternative marches have arisen to counter the sanitized narrative pushed by government agencies and corporations. The point of Pride is visibility, a display of solidarity in the face of peril. A gathering such as took place in Manhattan today could not have occurred a half-century ago... the Powers That Be simply would not have allowed it. The problem is that the struggle isn't over- violence against transwomen of color is rampant and Republican congresscreeps still oppose anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The Bad Old Days could always return in these days of weaponized bigotry and fanatic populism.
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr said: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. That arc needs to be bent toward justice. The Stonewall patrons who refused to accept abuse at the hands of individuals who were supposed 'to protect and serve' strained to bend that arc, and any bit of complacency can cause that arc to bend in another direction. Here's wishing my LGBTQ readers a happy Pride day, albeit a cautious one. The struggle isn't over, and the forces of regression never stop.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
The 'inorganic' nature of this campaign was apparent from the start because so many of the social media posts were repeated verbatim. The anti-Harris campaign was amplified by the outré ADOS (American Descendants Of Slaves) 'movement', which seems to be a group of trolls trying to drive African-Americans away from the Democratic Party, and more troubling, trying to drive wedges between the various sub-populations of the African Diaspora. ADOS is a blend of Trumpism and gatekeeping... it's a more under-the-radar version of Candace Owens' grift-y Blexit. I'm a white dude, but I look askance at the ADOS contingent because, while Amadou Diallo's family never lived under Jim Crow, his 'blackness' was not questioned by the police officers who slew him. Some of them are even claiming that Kamala Harris' father was a white Jamaican descendant of slave owners. While the particular history of one enslaved Diaspora group differs from the history of other groups, their descendants tend to share the same experience of discrimination- racial profiling, redlining, and harsher police treatment.
Reading about this troll campaign, the phrase 'Schrödinger's Blackness' popped unbidden into my mind... to Conservatives, the 'blackness' of a Democrat of African descent is uncertain until a determination is made of the particular needs of a campaign, by which I mean smear campaign. Right now, while ratfuckers are trying to undermine Kamala Harris' support among African-American voters by claiming she's not a genuine 'black American' (sic), those very same ratfuckers will accuse her of being an 'angry black lady' when it suits their needs. These arbiters of blackness, many of them black Russians, are not acting in good faith. Meanwhile, decency prevails in other quarters. It's good to know that the pushback has been well-coordinated... Kamala Harris knows her lived experience, and can define her own approach to her African Diaspora heritage. If she wants to use this classic as her campaign theme song, she can do as she damn well pleases.
ADDENDUM: I googled the phrase 'Schrödinger's Blackness' and only came up with one other instance of its use, for a concept which differs from my use of the term, but that I suspect will also be used as a weapon against Kamala Harris.
Friday, June 28, 2019
How about Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells to put you in an absolutely not-creeped-out mood?
A little later on, Blue Öyster Cult's album version of Astronomy was featured. Good thing that light never warms, it's been hot and muggy all day... but only eldritch for the last hour or so.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
The use of Spanish by Beto O'Rourke didn't please everyone, but the guy DID grow up in a city named El Paso in a state named Tejas... besides, the Irish have long had a tradition of supporting their Spanish-speaking brethren. The Irish and Mexicans share a love of beer, fútbol, accordions, and veneration of the Virgin. Really, who could possibly distinguish between the Irish and the Mexicans?
Dumbass Brian Kilmeade asked, "Do Spanish people like people to speak Spanish with them?" In my experience, most people do appreciate any effort made to communicate with them in their primary language... but my Spanish is pretty good. A few weeks back, when I first met my young Chilean friend, I said something to her in Spanish and she joked, "You just want to practice your Spanish on me!" I answered, "Practicar es importante, pero hablaré cualquiera lengua que prefiere." That was enough to convince her that my Spanish was, if not fluent, proficient, and we typically bounce back-and-forth between the two languages. Since I usually work with her and my Argentine-American friend, we have a lot of conversations about dialect and specialized vocabularies. On one afternoon, I got a lession about Lunfardo, the tango-influenced, largely Italian-derived slang of Buenos Aires. Since my Spanish education, like most Spanish-language instruction en los Estados Unidos, comprises a sort of 'greatest hits of the Spanish speaking world', I was able to introduce one of my favorite short stories, Gregorio López y Fuentes' poignant and hilarious Una Carta a Dios to my South American friends. I imagine that my Argentine friend and I will have our Chilean friend reading El Sur before the summer is over. Of course, about half of our conversations are in English- my Argentine friend came to the US to study art history, and married a Yanqui. My Chilean friend was brought to the US by her mother, who doesn't plan on settling here long-term, so she can pursue a STEM education that would be harder to obtain in Chile... she's National Honor Society, so she's doing her mother proud.
I don't think for one moment that the Fox commentariat's pondering whether or not Spanish-speaking US citizens like to hear presidential campaigners hablan español... it's the sort of rank concern-trollery which is even less sincere than an attempt hablar la lengua.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
There’s one critic who had a review of the debate, a man who is an amalgam of all of the bad kids in ‘Willy Wonka’. His review was one word:
BORING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2019
Too many big words for his pea brain... Me? I want a return to boring politics. I want a return to the boring days when I didn’t check the PotUS’ Twitter feed to see if he nuked Iran, or Iowa. I want a return to boring technocrats running various Departments, of stable policies run by staid bureaucrats. There’s a value to boring routine- roller coasters are fun, but you wouldn’t want to commute to work on one, especially not one with non-working harnesses and faulty brakes.
Unlike Donald, I want boring, it sure beats horrific.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
A half hour later, another one asked me if I had a roll of duct tape, and I told him no. He said, “You’re unprepared.” Hearing this a second time, I shot him a dagger-glance and hissed, “My job was to open the doors, turn off the alarms, and turn on the lights. My job is pretty much done. YOU are the one who’s unprepared.” He scooted away pretty quickly, which was good, because I was tempted to add, “I’m still here to make sure you don’t steal anything from the gift shop.”
At another point, one of them couldn’t get a backup scanner (Plan B) to turn on. She asked me if the outlet was good, and I pointed out that the power strip on light was lit. I suggested that she call the Board to see if they could determine the problem. It’s after ten AM, and nothing has been resolved.
A couple of them asked me for the company WiFi password and I told them that the guest WiFi comes online after 9AM.
Even the voters are annoying today. Our retail staff is in Manhattan for a trade show, so nobody is here to work the shop. I put stanchions up to block access. One ninny walked in from the rain and placed her umbrella on the floor on the verboten side of the stanchions. Again, I gritted my teeth and barked, “Don’t put your wet umbrella by our merchandise.” What kind of asshole thinks that’s acceptable?
I’m here until 2PM, when my sarcastic colleague takes over. I’m usually patient, but today has been a string of annoyances- I’m going to warn him about what to expect. Then, I’m going to grab a couple of well-earned beers.
Monday, June 24, 2019
The movie definitely demands suspension of disbelief... after all, it does feature a moth larger than a jumbo jet as a main character. Put your skeptical adult brain in neutral, embrace your inner eight year old, and bask in that nostalgia, because there are tons of Easter eggs- callbacks to other kaiju movies. Zang Ziyi’s Dr Chen shows pictures of her mother and her twin sister conducting research on Infant Island, calling to mind the pixies from the classic Mothra movies. The three-headed monster is known as ’Monster Zero’ before Dr Chen identifies it as King Ghidorah by perusing old legends. An oxygen destroying missile, reminiscent of the device used to kill Godzilla in the 1954 movie, is deployed against Godzilla and Ghidorah, with unexpected results, revealing the true nature (and true danger) of Ghidorah. Even Ken Watanabe’s (as Dr Serizawa) viral ‘let them fight’ line is referenced by another character.
The plot is a mishmash of Gaia hypothesis (an ‘eco-terrorist’ villain describes the Titans as the ‘immune system meant to bring ecological balance to a world undergoing a mass extinction), military thriller (terrorists vs international monster monitoring organization), and family drama... but you’re really here for the monster battles. There are topical scenes of child separation in refugee crises, and a nod toward the need for finding a balance between humanity and nature... but you’re really here for the monster battles.
The movie does convey a sense of wonder- such scenes as the emergence of Mothra from her cocoon were gorgeous. There are moments of pathos as well- particularly when Dr Serizawa approaches a stricken Godzilla and intones ‘goodbye, old friend’ in Japanese. Watching the movie, I became an eight year-old again, which was a nice way to spend two and a half hours, in a world where real monsters dwell.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
This afternoon, I returned to work, albeit at a different site. Typically, the first two people I see are both South American women. One is a gift shop clerk about my own age from Buenos Aires. She's a sophisticated lady of European descent, who would look at home in Madrid, or Milan, visiting museums or working in a boutique. She was appalled when I told her about my conversation of the morning, and we had a dolorous conversation about the cruelty and capriciousness on display- she asked my why there weren't mass demonstrations on the streets, and I didn't have a good answer for her. We Americans tend to be more passive than Europeans when it comes to making our displeasure known en masse. Her husband is a US citizen, and her daughters are fine, upstanding young Americans who are just now approaching the age at which they will become politically involved... and involved they will be.
The other South American woman, a cleaning contractor who works for the same company as my Peruvian friend, is a Chilean teenager who has only been in the 'States for three years- she's a perfect example of what José Vasconcelos termed 'la raza cósmica', a walnut-complected girl with a sweet, expressive face. Her mother emigrated to the US specifically so that she could receive an education, and she has plans to study nursing, and then pathology, so she could become a medical examiner. She seemed to be unaware of the planned ICE raids, and I wasn't about to bring the topic up because she already has to deal with her remaining NY State Regents Exams. She's a hardworking girl, and she quickly became an indispensable help to the staff of the site, even going out of her way to help organize supplies for school groups. She is exactly the sort of person you would want to move to your city or town, a National Honor Society member who is working hard and pulling good grades in school.
It bothers me that good people, good friends of mine, feel like they have targets on their backs. These people contribute to our society, their potential should not be scorned. It bothers me even more to have to work out ways in which I could protect them if things take a turn for the worse. A gauntlet has been thrown down, and I have to figure out the best way I have to pick the damn thing up.
POSTSCRIPT: The ACLU has a good primer on what to do if the raids go through.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
As is typical of the post-November 2018 mediascape, the 'controversy' was ignited by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the favorite bête noire of right-wingers and the idiotic media flacks who 'bothsides' issues to a fare-thee-well. The hair-splitting also plays into the hands of Holocaust deniers, who often dispute the fact that the Nazis intentionally killed Jews in an industrialized fashion.
The real problem here isn't the definition of 'concentration camps', it's the definition of 'Americans'... who are we? What have become?
Friday, June 21, 2019
I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, "for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button" and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.
The basic gist is that an opponent would be reluctant to provoke a madman... Trump's decision to retaliate against Iran for shooting down a drone was immediately followed by a reversal, supposedly ten minutes before the planes were to have been sent to strike Iran. Trump claimed that his change of policy was motivated by compassion and a sense of proportionality, but cynical persons aver that his boss called him to tell him to back off. While Trump said the military was 'cocked and loaded', it seems that the Republican congresscreeps were cockblocked. Whether or not Trump is bluffing or actually had a change of heart regarding an actual attack on Iran, all I can really say is that I am thankful that my brother Vin retired from the Army in April.
The problem with the Madman Theory is that it doesn't work if the person using it is actually a madman.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
It was enraging to read that a wealthy billionaire couple has donated an ungodly sum of money to an organization which spreads anti-vaccination propaganda. These people are engaged in action deleterious to human welfare... they are squandering their riches on disinformation which is immiserating children, putting innocent individuals at risk. Whatever their motivation, they are making things worse for humanity.
I am all for Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax- it's only fitting that the ultra-wealthy should be forced to pay to offset some of the damage they are inflicting on our nation.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Tonight, I met with a coworker whose birthday was last Saturday and a former contractor we have become close with whose birthday is today- his husband rounded out the group. We hit the Maya Riviera restaurant in the village of Briarcliff Manor, about seventeen miles north of the City of Y_____. It’s a nice, old school Mexican restaurant, but not particularly ‘Mayan’ (they don’t serve the typical Yucatán dish cochinita pibil, which is pork stewed with blood orange juice and black peppercorns in a banana leaf and served with pickled onions). I ordered chicken mole poblano, which is sauced with an elaborate melange of chocolate, nuts, and spices. It’s a culinary tour de force, the kind of dish that involves a lot of grinding and mixing- I’ve only made it once, for a special occasion, years ago.
It was one of those slow dinners, very talky, pretty boozy... just the kind of dinner between old friends celebrating getting older. The birthdays continue until next week, but the bender ends tonight- this guy’s work schedule is heavily weighted towards weekends, after all, and with maturity comes responsibility.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
I’m reminded of the outlandish gangs from the 1979 movie The Warriors, from which I’ve taken the post title- each in their fanciful dress code. I can’t dig it, though, I can’t dig it at all.
Monday, June 17, 2019
I wish I could say that the half-century I've spent on the planet was marked by progress, but I don't see it. Again, personally I am doing okay, I am surrounded by friends and a loving family, and I even work in a gorgeous place. I might be looking a little craggy lately, largely as a result of keeping horrendous hours, but generally speaking, life is good... I mean this is me at work:
It's a funny week, a lot of my friends and one of my uncles were born around this time of year- today marks the start of three days of celebrating birthdays. Sure, the promise of the era of my birth has been squandered on five decades of missed opportunities, wasted potential, but I'm doing okay, and the people around me are doing okay, and I am still optimistic enough to believe that we will be working to make things better. Things had better get better.
Sunday, June 16, 2019
I chose my 'nym years ago as a send-up of tough-guy masculinity... paradoxically, I think it's ridiculous while being able to draw upon it on those rare occasions when it's handy (sometimes, coming across as someone who'd be perfectly happy to rip someone's head off is a useful skill, especially when backed up with the ability to rip someone's head off). Part of me believes that much of the current crisis of masculinity is due to the synergistic effect of poor job prospects, lack of physical activity combined with a toxic gamer culture, pop-cultural depictions of largely-unattainable physiques, and an echo chamber of disaffected misogynists who want to blame women for the woes of young men rather than blaming the effects of the metastatic stage of current capitalism. Thankfully, my brothers, my male cousins, and my friends are involved with their children, and the next generation of my social circle is made up of well-adjusted kids with impressive accomplishments. It's imperative that we, as a society, break this cycle of radicalization.
Men just have to do better, and part of it is making sure that masculinity isn't seen as a straitjacket which limits boys' and men's emotional expressions and life experiences, masculinity shouldn't be monolithic. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The problem with toxic masculinity is the toxicity, not the masculinity... and we need poison control badly.
Saturday, June 15, 2019
lmaooooooo 8chan just got search warranted pic.twitter.com/Rhi6g2OWKo— shoshanot at cannes, pls stop asking 🛸 (@swodinsky) June 14, 2019
It will be interesting to see how the Chan Klan handles the prospect of being outed after having assumed anonymity on the imageboard... how many anime-Nazis are sweating over the prospect of their employer finding out that they are egging on potential mass shooters? What is 8Chan's biggest 'celebrity', the anonymous hoaxer(s) known as "Q" going to do if anonymity is compromised? Ben Collins of NBC speculated about this as well...
Reading over this post, I realize that I need to step away from the internet for a bit- it's a beautiful summer night, with an almost full moon... that beats a shitstorm anytime.
Friday, June 14, 2019
Thursday, June 13, 2019
I really don't want to sound paranoid, but it's not like trumped-up naval incidents in the gulfs of the world are that far-fetched.
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
The US is a large, wealthy country, and one that places more of a premium on women’s athletics than most other nations (though the Michigan State horror shows how far we need to progress). It’s no wonder that the women’s national team would be a dominant force in the World Cup. Coming opponents will be wealthier countries than Thailand, countries with stronger soccer traditions- the outcomes of the games might be uncertain. Let the women’s team have their moment of exuberance, they play a lot better than their male counterparts.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Monday, June 10, 2019
what a joke pic.twitter.com/Oqn80Djgyi— jordan (@JordanUhl) June 10, 2019
What we have here is
Sunday, June 9, 2019
Then it’s change into shorts and T-shirt and run around making sure that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed... making sure the caterers know where the dumpsters are, then locking up the service entrance. Thankfully, the weather is perfect, so I won’t be running around in a quagmire in my best shoes.
It’s been a weekend of contrasts, a night with young Bronx working class heroes and an evening with well-heeled (some exceedingly so) philanthropists. It’s the blend of job experiences that makes the position interesting... well, that and being with all the critters once both poor and rich humans leave.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
The ‘kids’ are all vetted- they wouldn’t be working with high school students if they hadn’t been. My coworker told me that there were about twenty of them, so it should be a lively night. They will be setting up a campfire in a designated firepit when they get back.
My job is to act as keyholder, to make sure that our guests can get where they need to get and to use my local knowledge if there’s an emergency (which I don’t expect). I anticipate that it will be a fun night, but a busy one... and it’ll also be a busy night for the mosquitoes.
UPDATE: It’s dawn now, and the guests are still sleeping. When they came back from dinner, they built a campfire and made s’mores, making sure that I got one. One of the old-timers, who was here on the overnight last year, told a funny story about cooling off in our one air-conditioned building (for the record, last night was a lovely 60 degrees) and hearing a bang-and-clatter overhead... he didn’t want to stay inside, and he didn’t want to leave the building to face whatever made the noise. He was in the classic horror movie dilemma. I joked that I’d be the guy to go outside and investigate, to my doom!!! That’s why I’m the night guy. Even though I only live a few miles from this crew, I came across as some sort of eccentric Druid type.
The highlight (literally) of the night was when these young adults, who are mainly from the Bronx, looked up and saw the (truth be told not-many) stars of the northern suburban sky. One young man, making out the constellation, joyfully exclaimed, “The Big Dipper!” It was just the sort of moment that camping is made for.
Friday, June 7, 2019
For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
Weird, we never learned that in astronomy class! The most charitable interpretation of this tweet would be that a Moon mission would be part of a broader Mars mission, but besides the incoherence of the tweet, such an interpretation would assume that going to the Moon is, in fact, a place where NASA would be going. At any rate, the whole thing is mind-bogglingly stupid.
The post title is taken from a song from the B-52's first album. Poking around the t00bz, I found a great live version of the song from 1985
, and as an added bonus, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads (who are also the Tom Tom Club) are playing bass and drums respectively.
Maybe if someone told Trump he could ride in a gold meteorite, we could get his ass out of the White House.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Dr John was one of the pillars of the New Orleans music scene, working as a session musician with artists across the color-divide since the 1950s (he played with Professor Longhair as a teenager).
I am a fan of the various musical traditions of Louisiana, a point I belabor on Mardi Gras, and I have posted Dr John's version of the standard Iko Iko, a song I posted a 'dissection' of a few years back.
My favorite song by Dr John is the otherworldly, creepy even, I Walk on Guilded Splinters, the tour-de-force of his psychedelic voodoo-inspired album Gris-Gris. Just try to listen to this song without feeling a sligh tingle up your spine.
Malcolm John Rebennack was a one-of-a-kind performer, a flamboyant character from a flamboyant city who took the mélange of cultures from that storied burgh, tripped out, and unleashed the resulting idiosyncratic style on an unsuspecting listening public... maybe he was the one performing brain salad surgery on the rest of us.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
A dog person would interpret this as a desire for a belly rub, but cats are more ambiguous than dogs and that soft, fluffy expanse of fur is surrounded by four sets of switchblades. In this particular case, it's probably a sign of Ginger's trust, but I know her well enough so that I stick to the safe spots when I pet her.
Monday, June 3, 2019
Is that color not outrageous? Of course, with peonies, you get the ants, which are attracted to the nectaries the buds feature much like the trumpet vine does. The vampire hell ants are long extinct, and the current ants tend to prefer heavenly food sources.
Sunday, June 2, 2019
Last week, the Colombia-born cleaning lady brought be a roll from a Colombian bakery, a slightly sweet roll with a slightly coarse crumb... the perfect accompaniment to a cup of the country's famous coffee. She then joked that her male counterpart, who was born and raised in Peru, would bring in some Peruvian bread. I jokingly asked her, "O, quiere decir una papa?", which translates to "Oh, do you mean a potato?" This had her doubled over in laughter, but there's a
This morning, I was the recipient of not one, but two, light and airy rolls from a Peruvian bakery, accompanied by a Peruvian tamal, which differed from Mexican tamales by being wrapped in a banana leaf instead of a leaf from a cornstalk:
This tamal reminded me a lot of the pasteles that my Puerto Rican friends make for Christmas, with maize substituted for the traditional Caribbean blend of yuca and plantain:
It even had the fleeting briny bite of a small green olive placed in the dough to give a hint of seasoning.
The bar has been raised for Sunday breakfast. I figure that, since I have to work overnight, I am at a disadvantage unless I cook something myself. I have an electric burner in the house, purchased when my sister-in-law cooked a nabemono for Christmas dinner one year... now I have to figure out what I can make for what is shaping up to be a Sunday breakfast club.
Saturday, June 1, 2019
We've both mellowed considerably since those days of being periodic pains-in-the-ass, and the family doesn't have to deal with this unpleasantness anymore. We both share the family penchant for nerdery, but she's snarkier than I could ever hope to be, so I guess I benefited more from this mellowing. At any rate, I'll be conveying my best wishes to her when things get quiet on the job, and I'll even keep a civil tongue when I'm doing so.
Happy birthday, super-sarcastic sis!