Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Can't Protest Weather, Can Protest Porn


I don't know how to publicly empathize with victims of natural disasters. I think that's because there is nothing I can suggest or support to change the situation. I can't join a stand-in against the ferocity of Hurricanes Harvey or Iris. I can't call a slew of Congresspeople and demand they deal with fault lines in California. I can't carry a poster to Union Square to protest natural devastation. 

What is possible is pushing legislators to finally rebuild infrastructure; insurance companies not to enable building in areas likely to get swept up (i.e. much of Florida); Congress to wake up. Science is a real live thing and they know it. They just like the feel of sand in their ears. This may or may not connect with what follows.

I was moved to post today after reading an article about porn. David Simon and George Pelecanos have created a new t.v. series on the porn industry that sprang from Times Square when the center of Manhattan was skeevy. I neither love nor hate Simon and have mixed feelings about The Wire. I have no mixed feelings about porn and Simon has illuminated aspects which have had a deadly and long-lasting effect on women.

The article is: "If you're not consuming porn, you're still consuming its logic." Some of Simon's and Pelecano's thoughts, as quoted in this article.


He admits: “I don’t have any real way to prove that, but certainly the anonymity of social media and the internet has allowed for a belligerence and a misogyny that maybe had no other outlet. It’s astonishing how universal it is whether you’re 14 or 70, if you’re a woman and you have an opinion, what is directed at you right now. I can’t help but think that a half century of legalised objectification hasn’t had an effect.”
On women and the latest election: "The code words that were used against not just her but female journalists and everybody that was involved peripherally in the campaign was awful. Never seen anything like it.”
George Pelecanos, 60, thinks about the two sons he raised and the conversations he overheard when their friends came to the family home. “The way they talk about girls and women is a little horrifying. It’s different from when I was coming up. It’s one thing what was described as locker-room talk, like, ‘Man, look at her legs. I’d love to…’ – that kind of thing. But when you get into this other thing, calling girls tricks and talking about doing violence to them and all that stuff, I’d never heard that growing up, man. I just didn’t.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Little Night Bullshit


When dust clears or settles and I take the time to study a current object of my scorn or someone I insist has caused me pain, has hurt me, I realize all I am doing is blaming that person for being themselves, to wit: the idiot they are, the person who doesn't care about me and never did, the narcissist, the egotist, the disinterested. I am talking people I know, who act exactly as they have forever, but me, despite my insight and intelligence remains unaware - that's who they are and who they were and who they will be. If I'd hold off on my indignation and hurt, in other words IF I DIDN'T RESPOND SO QUICKLY, I'd see, over time, I was arguing the anteater out of the anteater - why anteater? Arguing that the tiger bites that the vulture hovers and dives that the snake bites and so does the shark. Oh yes. The shark. Dust doesn't settle quickly. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

A check cleared my bank acct. this morning. I can afford a sheet cake. #TinaFey


I don't mind if I lose friends or admirers or haters (but please, not lovers) over this: 

Is this for real? People are analyzing Tina Fey's 5-minute comedy gag and assessing her as not "woke" or not "woke" enough? Some dumbass sugary skit is getting in-depth criticism? She IS a college-educated white woman who has known extraordinary privilege for years and years, de facto, goes with the territory of success in the industry. She's not the perfect activist but did anyone expect her to be? Until today when a check finally cleared my bank account, I considered her privileged to be able to afford a sheet cake. 


There is generalized and damaging thinking all around, and no, it isn't the same as institutionalized hatred of black people which I have seen first-hand but have not experienced first-hand by a long shot, being white. I am clear on what I have and haven't lived through, and on privileges I have and haven't had, as an old person, as a fat woman, as a too-smart woman, as white in a white country, as educated, as having been duped into getting a sham of an MFA, as angry, as an adult child, as daughter of a religious maniac, as funny, as charming, as friendly, as not cool enough for idiots, as too strong for scaredy cats of the self-adored hip post-New York school mimics, as angry and mean and full of blame. I put "" around woke because the word in its new meaning so instantly became its own parody I dislike it. 


Back to the bitches of media. To quote Jerry Lewis, L-a-a-a-d-y!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#Poem: Revolt of the Extras (Zsuzsa Takács) ...we have/played our part for a full year...


Revolt of the Extras
We long to be continued after the last
episode, although the producers opened
the champagne and gave us a small farewell
party. This afternoon even we sit
on the kitchen stools in front of the camera
hoping to see ourselves in the new chapter: we have
played our part for a full year and this recent
indifference to our fate, the plotlines unfolding
without us in the new scenario
hurt us to the quick. No, this is not
what kept us pacing up and down the street,
shivering as usual at winter’s
end. Is it possible that the audience is losing
interest in us? Has our time passed
for good, our story passé, even though we are still
stirring? Coming and going we can hear
the camera’s buzz. As before, we tread with nimble
feet, but a low growl comes from the machine’s
jaws. We fear it might be disapproving.

by Zsuzsa Takács, Translated from the Hungarian by Erika Mihálycsa
found poem (hah, not really, but really) on the Numero Cinc Magazine site - in the final issue. The journal's archives of many stunning poems, essays, translations, art, will remain online.
 Zsuzsa Takács has also be translated into English by the Hungarian-British poet George Szirtes.
.by 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dear White People: Yesterday I Told You We Are White - Guess What - Another Day and Still White. Deal with It.


What I forgot to mention when chatting myself up yesterday* on the topic of whiteness was that a particular white person, Frank Bruni, who pens Op-Eds, is a pain in the ass.

He's also a writing prompt. His NYT op-ed this weekend, I'm a White Man. Hear Me Out  prompted me to barf. I didn't, only because I'm almost out of clean towels. He begins with this whine (a whine should be an orchestral instruction): 
I’m a white man, so you should listen to absolutely nothing I say, at least on matters of social justice. I have no standing. No way to relate. My color and gender nullify me, and it gets worse: I grew up in the suburbs. 
Waaaaaaaah! What a coy maiden he is. But wait! He's gay! And from ye olden times, when it was tougher to be queer. I'm older than he is, from when it was tougher to be a dyke. And? You know who was from oldener times? Oscar Wilde. Imprisoned. Shamed. Despised. But so eternally loved.

So I wanted to reference one of Bruni's idiocies parading as insight and argumentation. He quotes black writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, who wrote a memoir, Losing My Cool.
“My black father, born in 1937 in segregated Texas, is an exponentially more worldly man than my maternal white Protestant grandfather, whose racism always struck me more as a sad function of his provincialism or powerlessness than anything else. I don’t mean to excuse the corrosive effects of his view; I simply wish to note that when I compare these two men, I do not recognize my father as the victim.”
A quotation which Bruni uses as EXHIBIT A, if the court please! He maintains that because a black man, Williams exalts his father and black people who do not have the limiting disease of racism, everyone should pity Bruni who does have that limiting disease. 

Read what I wrote yesterday, to wit, of course white people know suffering and learn to transmute it in fire, in which souls are purified. But so what. Bruni states, "My gayness no more redeems me than my whiteness disqualifies me." Ahhhhh. He's a walking embrace of all mankind, that Frank. I wonder what a logician would say about his reasoning which goes like this: That person has welts because he was beaten. But I hurt too, Ma, and much of MY hurt bubbles in the shallow hole of my not having been beaten. Am I not a man?

Odd and distasteful, Bruni's argument is EXHIBIT B. 

I suggest that  when we accept who we are under the pretty big umbrella of being human, we won't hate difference because we'll see the connecting threads of the universe and the beauty and accept our limitations. It's not easy, I agree. One of the wisest bits of advice I ever heard was from a lover: Learn to take your lumps, Sarah. BRUNI!!! Learn to take your lumps, you poor sodden fool with your meagre NYT op-eds.


*Yesterday's post. Click.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Dear White People: We're White. Deal with It.



I've been seeing op-eds and postings by white people about our whiteness. White-like-me people are holding forth that our skin color doesn't define us. That they are the other kind of white person, not the frustrated, angry, slow-thinking KKK member, but the enlightened type of white person, who has known sufferings and tribulations. And loves Aretha. I have thought the same thing at times, about my whiteness, that because I have had a hard time because I'm not a stereotypical, Vogue model-worthy white woman, or even a reasonably competent and attractive woman who navigates life any too well. I'm not white white, am I? Hello, me?!? Swedish and Russian and white all over.

I won't bother with white-people pleas of having suffered as much as black people, because that is plain old dumb ass. The dyke-iest dyke and the queenliest queen, if white, has an easier time of it -- riding the subway, working, renting an apartment -- than a black counterpart.

Is it possible for white people to suffer? Do we have to prove our humanity? Yes, to the former. Yes, to the latter, although that yes is a bit wry. We BETTER demonstrate empathy and kindness. As for pain and suffering, jeeze, watch an opera, read some great literature. Sorrow and suffering, suffering and sorrow. Anna K. didn't throw herself under a train because she was looking forward to a picnic at the dacha the next day. History, the kind with nonfictional characters, is nothing more but the record of the ruling class ruling, screwing, cheating, enslaving the majority of people. Rapes, betrayals, jealousies, theft, murder, war. Feudal it was and feudal it still is. Do billions love religions because of ice cream socials in the basement after services? That would suffice for me, but, no. It's because religion at its best offers comfort. Why do we need comfort? Because we suffer. White or black, yeah, we all suffer.

But, fellow white folk. It's been different for us and that is a hard pill to swallow, an uncoated pill requiring a full glass of water to get down.  I understand why it may feel unfair and even why it may be unfair, a little, a bit. What else is unfair? Racism. Institutionalized mean-ass racism. Being the black guy delivering mail in a corporate office and getting hate looks from the Partners. Being the only black person in the drug store or business or small town. Being afraid day in and and day out that some asshole white person will choose to not feel their sorrow, but take out their frustration on a random black person or simply model their horrid shallowness by causing damage.

Yes, women know some of that fear. We do. We know institutionalized privations. And, yes, gay people, too. But that's how we now define ourselves? As victims? Uh. Have we white folk lived through over four hundred years of unrepentant cruelty and good old American meanness? We really have to bite the bullet and stop whining that we do participate in the very thing that has been despised for over 400 years in this country -- blackness and ethnicity. Do we envy black people? If we have any sense, we do. But envy is such an invalidating emotion. In this so important issue we have to acknowledge that we are different, an idea that runs contrary to good will-thinking of we're all the same and God loves us all the same. God does, God doesn't. In this minute, white people are different from black people. Like the rich are different from the most of us. Deal with it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"There Is" ... A Louis Simpson poem


I've been a fan of Louis Simpson's poems since 1984 when I read him in The Kenyan Review. I wrote him a fan letter in the 1990s. He never responded. Oh well. 

There Is

Look! From my window there’s a view  
of city streets 
where only lives as dry as tortoises  
can crawl—the Gallapagos of desire. 

There is the day of Negroes with red hair 
and the day of insane women on the subway;  
there is the day of the word Trieste 
and the night of the blind man with the electric guitar. 

But I have no profession. Like a spy 
I read the papers—Situations Wanted.  
Surely there is a secret 
which, if I knew it, would change everything! 

I have the poor man’s nerve-tic, irony. 
I see through the illusions of the age! 
The bell tolls, and the hearse advances, 
and the mourners follow, for my entertainment. 

I tread the burning pavement, 
the streets where drunkards stretch  
like photographs of civil death 
and trumpets strangle in electric shelves. 

The mannequins stare at me scornfully.  
I know they are pretending 
all day to be in earnest. 
And can it be that love is an illusion? 

When darkness falls on the enormous street  
the air is filled with Eros, whispering.  
Eyes, mouths, contrive to meet 
in silence, fearing they may be prevented. 

O businessmen like ruins,  
bankers who are Bastilles, 
widows, sadder than the shores of lakes, 
then you were happy, when you still could tremble! 

But all night long my window 
sheds tears of light. 
I seek the word. The word is not forthcoming.  
O syllables of light ... O dark cathedral ...
__
Louis Simpson, “There Is” from The Owner of the House: New Collected Poems 1940-2001. Boa. Copyright © 2003 by Louis Simpson. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

O Hear Me, Newspaper Editors! Stop Putting Tweets Front & Center!


Today's homepage of the Guardian online features an article about a Trump tweet. We already know he tweets out shit. That he does what any self-respecting six-year-old would do and creates diversion. We know he likes limelight and headlines and has a seventh icky sense cuing him to opportunities for same.

He doesn't just like attention he amasses it. With the help of witless witting accomplices and the unwitting. A most recent unwitting accomplice is the Guardian journalist Nadia Khomani, who penned the story: Trump Denounces Jeff Sessions for Being 'Weak' on Hillary.

So what? Trump Mutters Under His Breath! Trump Makes a Big Poo Poo on the Toilet! Trump Should Wash His Hands More!

This shit isn't news. And while I don't know the writing of Nadia Kohmani, I see that her other Guardian articles are Britain-related, including Dick Van Dyke's apology for his lousy Cockney accent in Mary Poppins.

Newspaper editors! Newspaper journalists! Enough w/In-depth Coverage of Tweets! You Aid and Abet the Dissolution of Rights as Guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution! Really.

I don't have time to read an article about Tweets. I don't. I tire of the president's name, let alone his harangues which are mean-spirited.

Put the news back in newspapers.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

It Was DAVID Who Sang, NOT Jesus: Review of a Book Title

The Brick Testament: folk art, outsider art.* 

I was grazing postings on Facebook and read: “I am so grateful for The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms.” A good person wrote that. I didn't mistake her intentions, which are to share her joy and kindness and humanity. But the books title?

Songs of Jesus? In Psalms? Jesus? Who didn’t make his entrance until the Psalmist was long gone, the Psalmist being King David and others who weren’t quite headliners but had a way with words, wisdom and beauty.

The book's title conflates fact and history. I suppose some might cry, “alpha” “omega” eternal now, always existing, and other and varied mystical perspectives of time and space. Don’t they know the long and cruel history of the West? I went to a Protestant Sunday School every Sunday when I was a kid.  For fourteen or so years. We read the Bible. That’s what we did. Read out loud (at which I excelled) and discussed (which was hard because I was shy). We were aware of the book's two major parts and in no way were encouraged to believe Jesus wrote, or dictated, or was remembered as saying anything but his words — all of which are hugely famous, many of which are beautiful and inspiring, some of which are confounding.

In my adulthood I learned that the mentions of Jews in the New Testament, a book created by committee, are prejudicial. One might say, antisemitic. I say, cringe-worthy, especially in John (of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John fame), i.e., “the Jews picked up stones to stone him” … “and the Jews began to grumble” … “the Jews were watching for him.” 

In adulthood I have found it hard not to walk out of church at Easter (I was baptized in the Episcopalian church when I was in my forties) when “the Jews” are vilified by dint of writing, editing, and callous refusal to rework the sacred (but openly debated for centuries) texts. This is similar to hearing news reports of Jews killing Palestinians, when it is Israelis who are doing the killing and wrongly claiming the land.

I never, however, heard a minister credit Jesus with writing the Psalms, or hint at same. As this title does: “Songs of Jesus...” This echoes Songs of Solomon, and, since “Psalms” is a selling point in the title, echoes The Psalms. 

For me, this is “truthiness.” For me this is prejudice, obfuscation, arrogant appropriation. 

Because I am half-Jewish I suppose I am especially sensitive to slights. But those slights work out historically as a reason to blame and hate (which humans seem to love to do), as pogroms and worse, so, cut me some slack. And honor history. Even a title as simple as, The Psalms from Jesus’ Perspective, would pass muster. 


If you gotta lie, you are hiding something.
____
*The Brick Testament: http://www.thebricktestament.com, 
Site content of the Brick Testament copyright 2001-2015 by Brendan Powell Smith. all rights reserved.


Friday, July 14, 2017

The Great Anti-Hypocrite Is Come: Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters


Analyzing and refuting the inaccuracies lodged against the lgbt community by religious conservative organizations. Lies in the name of God are still lies.

I just ran across the blazing genius, Alvin McEwen.  His blog, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, serves as an unforgiving, meticulously researched eye on the conservative and just plain ignorant forces ever-gathering on the rightish but oh-so-wrongish side of the spectrum. He is the Anti-Hypocrite come to bring the foul and bigoted to the fires of public attention. I am in love.

He is fiercely (as we say, and endlessly so) queer. He may even write the Queer Agenda -- you know, equality, justice for all, equal protections, universal healthcare -- we keep hearing about. 

Not for the first time I am the last on the block here. This blog won the 2017 GLAAD Media Award - Outstanding Blog award. 

Just check it out. Holy Bullies is a resource. I love resources. Again:




Sunday, June 11, 2017

The most beautiful Caravaggio




Conversion on the Way to Damascus
Caravaggio, c. 1600-1601

I just chanced on this painting. My heart won't stop jumping. The light on that horse. The colors of that horse. The composition. 
Caravaggio suffices. Grace through faith. Grace through art.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Emily Dickinson #Poem Final Stanza Will Flip You Into Eternity


The last stanza destroys me every time. 

A Bird, came down the Walk - (359)

Related Poem Content Details

A Bird, came down the Walk - 
He did not know I saw -
He bit an Angle Worm in halves 
And ate the fellow, raw, 
 
And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass -
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall 
To let a Beetle pass -
 
He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad -
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. - 
 
Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers, 
And rowed him softer Home -
 
Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon, 
Leap, plashless as they swim.


Poem a cut and paste from the Poetry Foundation website. 
Emily Dickinson neither cut nor paste but marvel.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mashed Potatoes On My Mind #broke


I'm in bed with a crappy cold. The thing slowing me down ancillary to the crappy cold is the mashed potatoes in my skull where sometimes there is brain matter. I used to think about death all the time. Used to: until about a month ago.

Now that I'm am older (about a month so) than I was in my meditations-on-death years, the conjecture, fear, and eager anticipation don't interest me. Money does. Je suis broke. Paying the rent so I am not made homeless interests me.

Sick and stumbling I dragged myself to the library a few hours ago, thinking I'm Not Your Negro, the 2016 film about James Baldwin, was on hold for me, but it wasn't. And because two librarians investigated, each loudly, and obliviously insensitive to my sensibilities, I kept repeating, "It's about James Baldwin," every time one of them repeated the title, I'm Not Your Negro. Because if you didn't know what the film was about, a decent person might wonder about me.

I have to start over and put the film on order at the NYPL. That's okay. The mashed potatoes that constitute 90 percent of my intellect cry out for butter and gravy. I cry out to passed over  James Baldwin, now with the Messengers, for help, mashing the potatoes into respect and income.