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.