Monday, March 31, 2008
I mention it because my first response to this debacle was, of course, innernet search, and I was comforted by the message board comments of fellow chicken keepers whose poultry ate poisonous plants and lived to squawk the tale. I add my voice to the reassurers, with the disclaimer that I still wouldn't risk it. I'll update this post should they...god forbid...you know...
*I just found out that chook is Aussie slang for chicken! It won't be funny if mine die!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
DURING The Speech, Barack Obama talked about the shades of racism he saw in his beloved white grandma when she admitted sometimes fearing black men who passed her on the street. He also described this in Dreams from My Father; it was a troubling moment for young Obama. Revisiting the matter in a radio interview last week, Obama gaffically referred to his grandmother as a "typical white person." (But I'm sure we're gonna let that go, seeing as Obama is himself white, if atypically. No? We're offended? Okay. Wow, and we act like black people are touchy.)
I've been pondering this issue, as a white woman avec bootay. Maybe white women sans bootay have a different relationship to black men on the street, maybe they don't; unless I get a sudden case of Amy Winehouse, I'll never know.
I've remarked previously on the abundance of street harassment my bootay has garnered, almost always from black men, and on the racial disquiet I've felt as a result. After Obama's comments, I've been full of shame. Because, have I feared black men on the street?
BACK IN Brooklyn, I lived in a neighborhood called Boerum Hill, which is now "cool" but was then awkward. The projects were two blocks one way, becoming-bougie Smith Street was two blocks another way. (My community garden was in a third direction, so I mostly walked there.) In retrospect, racial tensions were quietly boiling. New York is like that.
It was never a case of looking good and getting hit on. In fact, I tried to remedy the situation by looking bad. But the more busted and miserable I looked, the rattier my sweatpants, the more I seemed to get it. These guys weren't talking to me. They were talking about me, often amongst themselves, like I was an involuntary stripper on an invisible stage. The things they said were caustic and obscene, and I started to respond in kind.
Which was why I became a racial profiler: I tried to know when harassers were on the approach so I'd be steeled to "snap back and have the last laugh." (Would that it were as fun as it sounds.) On one occasion, three twentysomething black guys, all with gold fronts, started saying shit to me while I was walking home on Dean Street, my street. They kept staring as I walked by, and I tossed off a "fuck you." Which made them very unhappy. I suddenly realized that I was on a deserted street and had just pissed off three of the most thugged-out dudes I'd ever seen. I was scared.
OBAMA actually recounts a similar story in Dreams:
That night, well past midnight, a car pulls up in front of my apartment building carrying a troop of teenage boys and a set of stereo speakers so loud that the floor of my apartment begins to shake. [Normally, he'd let it go, easygoing guy that he is, but, thinking of his sleepover guest (?!) and his neighbors' newborn, he goes out and asks the guys to move along.]
The wind wipes away my drowsiness and I feel suddenly exposed...I can't see the faces inside the car; it's too dark to know how old they are, whether they're sober or drunk, good boys or bad...I start picturing myself through the eyes of these boys, a figure of random authority, and know the calculations they might now be making, that if one of them can't take me out, the four of them certainly can."
[Finally,] the engine starts, and the car screeches away. I turn back toward my apartment, knowing that I've been both stupid and lucky, knowing that I am afraid after all.
I mention this not to suggest that my own fears or prejudices are mitigated by Obama's, but because the story--especially his complete telling of it (pp. 269-271)--shows how complex and vexing these questions are.
MY harassment experiences seriously affected my quality of life in New York. They cast me in a uncomfortable relationship with my body, and with black men as well. It was a sad state of affairs. What with the ugly, old stereotype of black man as sexual threat to white womanhood, nothing could have made me feel more racist than my harassment-anticipation game. And I can't help but wonder whether some of those guys sensed my anticipatory dread, felt angry that I seemed afraid of them, and on some subconscious level chose to make my apparent fear self-fulfilling.
At least I can say I don't play that anymore. I now live in Oakland, where there's a little more, you know, integration. I do get harassed sometimes, but it occurs to me that something else often happens instead: compliments. I get flirted on rather than accosted with obscenities. Several gentlemen of African American descent have specifically liked my boots with the fur. Thank you kindly, sirs.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
- 57%: Tremendous cream, fuck a dolla and a dream.
- 42%: I'ma tell you like Wu told me.
- 28%: Dolla dolla bill yall.
- 14%: No.
Thanks for your participation. Best stay steady on the grind.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I tell him it's about Obama, and he says, sweet Jesus, no more of the epic race speech, please. Enough with the human hangups. He says his sister is Abby Tabby--part Abyssinian, like Obama--and it's never been an issue in their relationship. I cringe of course, and he laughs. Typical human.
I try to explain that we don't say "Abyssinian" anymore and that even if we did, it would suggest Ethiopian, not Kenyan, but he tires of this. Cut to the chase.
So, okay. I really do think Obama is a staunch advocate for gay rights, Walnuts, I really do. But gay marriage isn't on his platform. Civil unions. Not marriage.
His eyes narrow. You could have told me this before I started my Log Cabin Obamican Kitties page on Facebook. (He has a lot of friends there; you'd be surprised.)
I say, I mean, you know why. He says it doesn't make his disappointment in his leader any less keen to know that his cowardly position is rooted in political expediencies that are in turn rooted in the very prejudice that singes his fur on a daily basis. This, he says, is the civil rights struggle of our time.
He has a point, but I soldier on and read him Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish post on why Obama is the "urgent, clear choice for gay voters." He's purring again. If there's one thing Paulie loves more than tooney fish, it's Andrew Sullivan's big, bald head.
But he still wishes everyone could love him as much as he loves himself.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Alton Brown is nerd king of the Food Network and I love it. I found the "Okraphobia" episode particularly informative, and I have okraphobia. Brown is teaching a generation of TV-chained kiddos nutritional science, kitchen skills and food chemistry, all from the Disneyland of appliances that is his kitchen. He's the reason I store my coffee beans in gasket-sealed containers bought special from Super Longs.
2. "Hot Thing"
This is the song I dreamt of when I wrote about The Akon Problem. When Talib Kweli says he usetabeaplaya, I'm skeptical. My (admittedly limited) familiarity with his catalog suggests he's always been a loverboy. Here's a sample:
I love your city sass
I love how you know my ways, you catch on pretty fast
These dudes is pretty crass
Harass you when you pass
I love how you snap back and have the last laugh
Ah, reminds me of Brooklyn. He also says, "Love it" in a very cute way in this song.
Another great ad for monogamy: Andre 3000's opener verse on "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)," which I always think of as "The Wedding Song" because of the video:
3. MoDowd columns
She's killin it, son! A little while back, Maureen Dowd described the subtext of Hillary Clinton's campaign argument thusly : "'You owe me.' Or, more precisely, 'Bill owes me, and you owe him.'" And it was the smartest thing anyone ever said.
4. "Oye Mi Canto” at Obama rallies
Can't you picture it? The speech is over, the crowd is roused, Michelle bounds up to the stage, long-armed Obamas embrace, "Change" signs bounce in the air and..."Oye Mi Canto" blares from the loudspeakers! You know the one:
(Pardon the videohoes.)
Boriqua, Morena, Dominicano, Columbiano
Boriqua, Morena, Cubano, Mexicano
Oye mi canto
Toma Reggaeton! What "Latino problem"?
I know. I meant to bring up this fantastic idea before Texas; I just shied up. But there's still the general (fingers crossed). And don't forget, everyone's favorite protectorate holds its primary June 1st!
Monday, March 17, 2008
It is now assumed that Obama naturally, inevitably, gets the black vote. But not long ago, many griped that he wasn't even black and Clinton, who is, after all, married to the "first black president" was leading by twenty points in the South Carolina polls. (Obama went on to win by twenty.)
Now that Barack has worked the Obamagic on black voters, it is taken for granted that they are his base. The dialogue even veers in an untoward direction à la, Well, of course he won those states. Jesse Jackson took South Carolina, too, Bill Clinton smarmily remarked. (Black votes only count as three-fifths anyway, right?)
BARACK Obama has not "transcended" race so much as hacked through its thorny territory with a machete. (See Dreams From My Father.) Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, embodies so many of the tribulations and contradictions faced by American women, but doesn't seem to have reconciled them.
Last week, Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro poured herself a tall glass of Haterade, telling an interviewer, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position...He happens to be very lucky to be who he is." Which degenerates into an argument over which is worse, racism or sexism. Which we all know is a terrible idea.
And fellow white ladies: come on now. Let's not have this debate with black people. They didn't want to vote for Obama because they thought a black man couldn't possibly win, and they feared that, if he somehow did win, he'd be assassinated. What old white lady is voting against Hillary in a selfless attempt to keep her alive?
CLINTON can forcefully brag that she'd be the first woman in the White House, but Obama can't play that angle. He has to be careful not to seem too chocolatey. (Just chocolatey enough to give us that sweet taste of self-satisfaction if we elect him.) Which isn't only a matter of racism. It's partly simple demographics: women are obviously a gigantic portion of the electorate compared to African Americans. Appealing to women carries fewer risks.
Channeling Ferraro, a columnist for the London Times recently wrote, "What makes Mr. Obama's candidacy so exciting is not his oratory or his good looks. It is his race."
Bullshit. Could Colin Powell pack arenas? (That's who I left off my list of People Who Are Not Black If Barack Obama Is Not Black: Colin Powell, son of Jamaican immigrant parents. Well, he helped sell an unjust war, so I guess we're even.) Yes, Obama's appeal is partly to do with his personal story, but his story is not about melanin alone.
"THAT'S pride, not prejudice," CNN political analyst Bill "Elf Gramps" Schneider is fond of saying when women's votes tally up for Clinton and black votes go for Obama. When 74% of white Mississippians vote against Obama in a Democratic primary, you might say there's a teeny bit of prejudice at play. But for the most part, Schneider is probably right.
The rub is that candidates then have to make their voter contingencies proud. Obama is comfortable in his identity and that self-assurance is hard-won. He has earned those "inspirational" qualities that detractors like to mock. He's role model material, and not just for black Americans.
Clinton's role model status is iffy. Gloria Steinem complains that women aren't showing her enough sisterhood, but maybe that's because she hasn't earned their admiration. It sure mucks up the feminist argument for her career to be coattailing on that of her husband.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
The Kardashians kinda remind me of a flock of chickens anyway, with the high female to male ratio and the pecking and the discomfiting intrasexual vibe.
My chickens also live in a Calabasas manse.
Teasers of the ep show five or six hens huddled in the bathtub--presumably the result of Krazy highjinx on the part of Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie or perhaps mom Kris--and a hapless Barred Rock crapping on the very well-polished floor of the Kardashian Kompound. (Cut to close-up of the crap; looks a bit less than solid and healthy to me.)
I WANTED to get Hennessy and Camilla's take, so I went out to the coop and explained to them that humans have this thing called reality shows and someone named Kim Kardashian, who is, to quote Joel McHale, "famous for having a big ass and a sex tape," stars in one, along with her large, wealthy family, which includes stepdad Bruce Jenner, a de-balled former Olympian. And that they had introduced chickens, high jinx, and so on.
Camilla squatted for a dump and took off in the direction of the compost bin. But Hennessy just stood there staring at me. Her head tilted jerkily to one side, then the other, then back.
As if to say, I can't believe I even have to explain to you how deeply this offends me.
It might just be jealousy; rappers are more into Kim these days.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
CAN Lupe Fiasco please start liking Barack Obama?
It's not about you, Lupe. It's about me. The Clebster cannot handle cognitive dissonance. You're making it so I can't be into both your music and Barack Obama's political message. When "Superstar" comes on the radio, my brain short-circuits because I want to groove around the kitchen, but I don't want it to mean "No, We Can't."
I suspect the truth is that Fiasco is so perfectly in Obama's demographic--young, black, famous, smarty-pantsy, hailing from the South Side--that he opposes him just for spite. Because he's too damn clever and has to defy expectations.
He was raised by Black Panther-y, Muslim intellectual parents who are, in his words, "damn near anarchist," and it would just be so tacky and mainstream to support Obama. (Anyway, Hillary Clinton is the obvious choice of any self-respecting black nationalist.)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
More good news for the blogosphere! The charming Buffy, who may or may not be betrothed to my buddy-o Jon, has launched War Prompts, which will present nuanced views about and creative coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (I know, her nickname belies her seriousness.)
Congrats on these exciting new ventures, guys.
My buddy-o Jon has revived his excellent blog Media Massage. I especially liked this post on the lack of healthy boredom in our wired society. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I want to write about the new Erykah Badu album or how my boy will probably nab Mississippi tonight, but I'm preoccupied with boring-ass pain.
It's not like I'm sitting here thinking, "Ouch...ouch...ouch." In fact, you'd laugh at me if you knew just how mild this pain I'm bitching about really is.
But it's a vast mindwarp because, at least for me, a chronic painie, pain begets pain and it can become quite the Choose Your Own Adventure. Do I do this thing that may bring me joy or money, or avoid it because it might cause pain, which might cause more pain? (At the moment, I'm working extra hours, which = choosing money.)
I'll probably never forget that I once bet wrong and spent a year in bed. So maybe I'm paranoid.
YOU would think pain is a dramatic thing, and it was when I lived in the land of MRIs and epidurals and surgery, pill bottles strewn everywhere. But that was seven years ago. Now it's more of a MundPain™. A sciatic twinge from ass to ankle that plods through the day with me.
Sorry, I know self-pity is unattractive. But it feels so good.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Prominently positioned on Grand Avenue, among other places. We keep it so real, it even has the "Q". That's "questioning," right? Somebody help me out here.
I don't mean to trivialize a problem--gay teens needing foster care--which must be serious, considering that it merits billboards. But I like the world of the ad, and would like to at least pretend I live in it.
Relatedly, I have to wonder about my obvious affection for gay black men--even, in particular, gay black male teens. (See here and here.) What's the deal, Cleb? Is is that I know they've got a tough row to hoe? A matchless pile-on of oppressions? Do I just secretly like black people and like gay people and this is the logical culmination of both projudices? (I think I made that word up.) Am I intrigued by the way gay black men must straddle conflicting worlds?
I don't even personally know any gay black men, unless you count those of the potential-in-training variety. There's a fourth grader in my garden program who says he "comes for the flowers" and yesterday showed ridiculous enthusiasm for ruby chard.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Do what you gotta do, Krug. Fine.
But to call Obama "an oratorically upgraded version of Michael Bloomberg" is just disengenuous. No one seriously thinks Bloomberg is an ineloquent Obama. Bloomberg's a short, Jewish, billionare businessman; he and Obama have about as little in common as two people can. (That said, endorse away, Mr. Mayor!)
The real accusation, of course, is that Obama is, like Bloomberg, a centrist. Which I guess is what Obama is if you insist on measuring people's politics with some kind of left-right pH test kit. Barack Obama's Senate votes give him a damn pH of 7. (Maybe 8, slightly on the sweet side?) But it's patently obvious to millions of people the nation over that he's more than that. And specifically, that he's more than that in terms of progressivism.
And wait, who are we comparing him to again? Like Dennis Kucinich or something, right? Bernie Sanders? Oh. That's right: Krugman is calling Obama a centrist compared to Hillary Clinton. The word "Clinton" has like eight definitions, but I'm pretty sure one of them is "n. centrist."
You feelin okay, buddy?
But none of that matters. Why? Mandates! Mandates! Freaking mandates, they're all Krugman can think about! His obsession with the health care mandate issue is incomprehensible to me, especially since he's an economist.
He's swinging away at the mandate piñata again today, referring to Obama's "adoption of conservative talking points on the crucial issue of health care." (At least, I assume he's referring to mandates there. Otherwise, we'd have a Krugman column free of mandate references, and that just wouldn't be right.)
Here's what a damn mandate is: it requires people to buy health insurance, just like we Californians have to buy car insurance. Hillary Clinton's health care plan has a mandate. Obama's doesn't. Otherwise, their plans are virtually identical.
Clinton has seized on the difference. She is shocked! shocked! that anyone calling himself a Democrat would propose a health care plan that "leaves people out" and "isn't universal." If you've watched any of the debates recently, you know this is totally her favorite riff.
I'm not a health care expert and don't presume to know whether mandates would be helpful in getting more people insured, but I do know that advocates of single payer (total, all-out, "SiCKO"-approved, publicly-financed health care) think mandates are total bullshit.
Here's why: if you require people by law to purchase health insurance, you have to penalize them for not doing so. So when you're dealing with poor people, it's kind of a doozy. Do you exempt them from the mandate? (Oh my god, then it's not universal! Gotcha, Hillary: You're leaving people out, too!) Or do you leave people who can't afford to buy insurance to pay a fine for noncompliance? (Then poor people are paying out for a fine and they're still uninsured. Sucks, don't it.)
And that's exactly the explanation Obama has given in debate after debate. (I mean, not in those exact words.) But it's all so tedious that one starts to zone out when they argue about it and the audience is left with the vague sense that Clinton's plan somehow keeps it realer.
And, wonder of wonders, Paul Krugman, Princeton lefty economist, seems to agree.
See, I can make it all about mandates too. Uh! Who's the centrist now, byeeitch?