Wednesday, January 31, 2007

who cares if you're racist when you're stupid?

here is a post from Alas, A Blog commenting about a really ill-thought racially themed party at Clemson on Martin Luther King Day.

not only does the general ignorance of college kids stun me, their whole misunderstanding of satire (which just re-emphasizes they weren't paying that much attention in their english classes in the first place) frustrates me.

we've seen this excuse before. michael richards had his defenders who said his n-word laden rant was perhaps a misfired attempt to satirize ... something (it's unclear what exactly he would be satirizing); chuck knipp's drag character, Shirly Q. Liquor, is supposed to be (in his words) a satirical look at racism; the hipsters in brooklyn with their Kill Whitey club nights think they're satirizing 'ghetto culture'; and now, every frat boy/sorority girl, college or law school student who wants to wear a sombrero, put on blackface, speak in ebonics or 'run for the border' thinks they're engaging in satire.

but what they forget, or perhaps never knew or understood, is that satire is a punch in the eye of Power. satire's anger, it's needle, is directed upward - never downward. if it does, then it ceases to be satire and it's just another way for those in power to bully the powerless or to scream to the public that you're just another tool of the status quo.

so, for all you dumbass college kids and misinformed adults out there, this is satire:

it is a precise literary term (which means you have to have some measure of intellectual weight to pull it off)
it has a very specific target (i.e., a person or group of people, an idea or attitude, an institution or a social practice)
in satire, your target is held up to merciless ridicule that is often very angry, ideally in the hope of shaming your target into reform (again, critical faculties are necessary as well as a recognition of power and how it operates in society)
it has a strong vein of irony or sarcasm (parody, burlesque, exaggeration and double entendre are all devices frequently used in satirical speech and writing - again, pointing to intellectual rigor in the person who calls herself a satirist)
finally, it is strictly a misuse of the word to describe as "satire" works without an ironic (or sarcastic) undercurrent of mock-approval, criticism and an element at least of anger.

how does a privileged white boy in blackface poke fun or criticize or throw into instability the codes of racism or our racist history? how does a white girl in a do' rag holding a forty problematize the ways that race, sexuality and racial images are reproduced and disseminted in this country?

it doesn't. because all you have is a white girl in a do' rag holding a forty.

here endeth the lesson.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

silky panties, pt 2.

next week may be my first trip to springfield to knock on some doors and attend a coalition press conference. but what's the burning question on my mind (as i avoid creating my trip agenda)?

what does the well-dressed advocate wear while chasing after legislators and their staff all day? sensible shoes, yes, but how about a pointy-toed flat? (and what about snow?) and, clearly, a pantsuit is necessary, but can i find one that won't bankrupt me but still accommodate the flat sensible shoes? and what about a bag? i can't see myself tooling around with my Tumi messenger.

i'm sure all the guy advocates worry about the same thing.
yesterday was also a lesson in city/county politics. did you know that city hall is literally split in two? yes; if you go to the 5th floor you'll notice a big ugly iron door cutting the floor in half. on one side is the county and the other the city. i think there's some story behind this but i can't recall it right now.

i had plenty of time to contemplate the symbolism of a divided city hall while i and a coworker waited in the hot hallway to enter the public budget hearings for the county. (you know, the budget that's basically going to suck ass and kill basic services for the whole county.) above us, the speakers tried to transmit the droning tones of the meeting happening inside, but the anger in the hallway sometimes got in the way.

in line with us were crowds of city and cook county employees, rallying for the survival of their departments. it was an interesting crowd: doctors elbowing with criminal justice folks, nudging against nurses, doctors, clerks, public defenders, administrators, priests, plus all the big beefy guys you see in various parts of the city.

with 110 speakers signed up, we calculated that the meeting would last 5.5 hours. so we left without being able to participate in our city's democratic process. and outside, in the flurrying snow and wind, hundreds of city and county workers marched on Daly Plaza yelling "They say cutback! We say fight back! They say cutback! We say fight back!" we saw at least 4 different unions represented. and that's what makes a good rally - organization and anger. it was awesome.

depressing, but awesome.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

they shoot horses, don't they? well, duh!

i went to the planned parenthood gala tonight. i worked a little late so i missed half the cocktail hour and have resolved that, next year, i am not going alone. it was totally boring without having someone to dish with.

however, todd stroger (our new county board president) was there. he's really short and bears an uncanny resemblance to a guy i once dated in my dad's church. his handwritten nametag gave him a forlorn, paddington bear kind of air. poor thing didn't realize everyone called him Urkel behind his back. but, hey, why should i feel sorry for him? there he is, in a feminist organization's annual gala, rubbing elbows with other politicos (like gov. rod blagojevich, jan schakowsky and carol ronen). he's made in the shade. but he's also the guy who's proposing to get rid of the women's justice services dept in the sherrif's dept (meanwhile, men's services stay intact.) i wonder if he felt the irony. i know i did. i wonder if anyone approached him to ask him about it. probably not.

then i hung out in the bar to drink a glass of jameson's and overheard some staffers complain about the big donors' reserved tables while the frontline staff were 'forced' to stand (along with folks like me); she railed on about the hyprocrisy and i hid a smile. i've heard this complaint before, from folks in my own organization, and i have to admit to a certain lack of patience with the complaint. it's petty and painfully childish.

in a perfect world, organizations that provide crucial social and human services would be fueled by all the good feelings it produces in the world. butterflies would bring me coffee and birds would read my email; then, a blue fairy would hit me with her wand and i'd suddenly become a real boy.

but, alas, we live in the world of cold, hard cash. that money the staffer is so quick to scoff at actually means something to the organization. it's a fucking line item in the budget - a line item that needs to exist if the organization is going to continue to function.

fundraisers aren't about recognizing the hard work of front line staff; unfortunate, but true. they're about the story we tell donors so we can get our hands on their money. they're marginally about the work we do. they're really about telling a really great story of our organization to the donor so the donor can feel good about parting with hefty sums of cash. it's an intricate dance of seduction - and, if you've done the job well, you will celebrate and feel a little icky that you've just spent one night whoring yourself out for nearly $1 million. (hence all the folks who shook hands with todd stroger with gritted teeth.)

yes. $1 million dollars. what would you do for $1 million, knowing that it pays for programs, overhead, education, advocacy capacity, and direct service? can those of us in the nonprofit arena afford to be so frakking naive about how our organizations operate and what our money is used for? with the increasing strictures of govt funding and private sources of funding becoming even more important, i think not.

come one, people. leave graduate school behind and frakking grow up a little.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

i'm ecstatic. i can now order my most favorite pants and jackets by phone from forth & towne, here!

but when the heck are they going to have an online store?? come on, people - enough dilly dallying!

Monday, January 22, 2007

hola, super osas!

yesterday, dressed in an orange cashmere sweater, my hair in a perky ponytail topped off by an orange ribbon tied in a bow (i was so spirited i should have won an award), i watched The Game with a couple of girl friends at our local bar and now our Bears are going to the Superbowl!!

yay for lovie smith (don't you just love his calm demeanor?)! yay for rex grossman! and yay for punter dude, who really deserves an outstanding contribution award, considering our first 6 or 9 points on the board were for field goals!

just imagine: chicago wins the superbowl AND we get the olympics.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

yeah, i'm successful: i'm wearing silky panties

Speaking Chic to Power - New York Times

in addition to my brown silky bikini panties, i'm also wearing a matching lacy brown bra underneath a sheer silk blouse, which is underneath a black nipped in blazer on top of a crisp pair of black boot cut trousers. on my feet, a pair of black/white plaid, kitten heel flats with a scarlet rhinestone buckle. (it seems gaudy, but you have to see these shoes - they're cute as hell.)

and what did i have to do today (nay, this week)?
plan/organize a board meeting for this morning, take minutes, manage the board members, set up/break down; juggle various presentations, senior managers, consultants, vendors, logistics, agendas, materials for a staff retreat; remain cheerful, supportive and efficient; take my knocks and step up when things didn't go as planned, much to my CEO's displeasure, and basically make sure that everything, by hell or high water, got frakking done for 150 people tomorrow (for whom i will be up at the crack of dawn again, onsite, helping the facilitation team, getting our bill paid and smoothing over whatever gaps/cracks appear over the course of one very long, arduous day.) am i successful? i'd like to think so.

what do my panties have to do with any of that?
apparently, a lot, if you take this article seriously.

from the article:
“You don’t have to grow up to look like a librarian,” said Lauren Solomon, founder and director of LS Image Associates, which has clients in the corporate and political fields. “But you don’t have to look like a hooker, either.”

nice. librarian/hooker. these are our choices when we're women of substance. clearly our media is still new to the idea that there are thousands of women in our offices and universities, hospitals and courhouses who manage to avoid this nonsensical binary every single day.

Friday, January 12, 2007

what does a girl do when she gets rid of one mistake?
she flies to boston to forget it ever happened and replace it with...more fun memories.

i'll miss all 5 of my readers, but i'll be away until monday afternoon, getting some sleep, some sex and some food.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ding dong, the B- is gone!

how do you tell a boy it's over after he's called you too crazy for friendship, too cool for love and too uptight (because you have a crazy busy work/social schedule) for everything else and then demanded you drop everything you had scheduled that night in order to prove you're not?

you tell him like this:
From: ding
To: B-

"busy" means 'uptight'?
whatever, b-. busy means that i have a full work and social life and enjoy it.
and i have to prove something to you? are you kidding?

i was willing to give the friendship thing a try but it's patently obvious that friendship between us will never be possible. (i'm too crazy for friendship? ha! that's called projection. when it's so clear that two people don't get along and aren't right for each other, it's pointless to argue back and forth about who or what's at fault.
but rest assured i could make a list. a long one.)

and since it's clear we've entered the Active Dislike phase of our association, and we can't even get the basics down, i think we've done this long enough. (in total, we've been going back and forth like this since 2002. too long without progress!)

so. in the interest of our mental health for 2007, let's drop the hammer on the two of us and vow never to contact the other ever again. i mean it. i don't want to open my inbox and see another email from you asking how i am. chances are, i'll be great.

in fact, i just deleted you from my mobile.

bye, b-. i'm late for a meeting.

Monday, January 08, 2007

here i come, old orchard!

Gaining steam, finally Chicago Tribune

so plans are afoot to extend the yellow line to old orchard.
this would make me ecstatic beyond measure. no more bugging roomie to drive me out to the mall - i could hop on several trains and make it myself! yay!
it'd be easier to get to forth & towne sales! yay!

oh, and can you tell my boss is on vacation for a week? (i'm also wearing jeans...heh heh heh.)

the chicago way

so, a rather important part of my job is to make sure certain folks know about the work we do here and to encourage mutually beneficial contact. it's like marketing. ok, it is marketing - but for public officials and other such important 'stakeholders'. like that.

so this morning a breaking news alert pops into my inbox and, to my horror, i read that a city official has just been arrested on federal corruption charges. i was totally going to call this person for an appointment this week! aagh!

frakkin' chicago - you're killing me!

Friday, January 05, 2007

deal me out

driving home yesterday in the rain, roomie and i had a conversation about my current dating status which is, to date, zilch. i despaired of 2007 turning into a repeat of 2006, The Year of Celibacy (though there's nothing really wrong with that and i rather enjoyed it - sorta), and she said, 'ding, you need to look at the cards that have been dealt you and be honest about what it is you want.'

i tried to imagine these cards but i had no idea what they were. 'and...what are they?'
'are you kidding me?'
'no! i don't know what cards i have! what cards? is it a good hand?'
'B-! your cards are B-!'
'oh,' i said. 'those cards. i don't want those cards. those cards piss me off.'

'then you need to fold and get a new hand.'
i said, 'and how would i do that? all three of the straight guys i know in chicago are...actually, there's just one. how is it possible i only know one straight guy and he has a girlfriend?'
roomie said, 'i don't know, ding. but you need a new deck of cards or you're going to go nuts. just call B-, arrange to see him this weekend and call it a night.'
'i can't. that would not be good. he makes me mad. but, grr! i want a frolic!'
'you're nuts. get a frolic. go online, choose a boy and get your frolic.'

'but i'm trying to be good!'
'then i don't know what to tell you, ding. you want the frolic or you don't. tradition and habit say that you want the frolic more than being good. so get the frolic.'

so, after a whole night of watching season 2 of Veronica Mars (damn you karis), i went online last night and looked for a frolic. what happened? when my search results came up the first candidate at the top of the queue was B-! aagh! i blocked him and logged off.

the universe has become a cockblock!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

why women ain't funny: our uterus sucks out all the funny

Adam Ash: Christopher Hitchens explains why women aren't funny

have you read the hitchens piece about why women aren't funny (faithfully reproduced on adam ash's space)? it's a doozy. shorter hitchens: women aren't funny because mommies are never funny.

that's right; for hitchens, every woman is a nagging, churchy, fecund, humorless, authority-loving priss just dying to kill the funny. in other words, vagina dentata. that toothy vijayjay inhibits everything that makes men funny - irreverence, irreligion, rebellion, and defiance. we're too soft, too emotional, too serious, too dreamy, and too damn biological to be funny.

(however, if we're fat, dykey or jewish, we've apparently got funny to spare.)

never in my life have i laughed as hard, snorted or accidentally farted than when i'm with my girlfriends telling them the latest B- disaster or listening to what happened at so-and-so's birthday party/wedding, or reading the sharply worded, hilarious emails sent from various scattered family domiciles while we're trapped in hometowns for the holidays. (i remember one string of christmas emails from roomie, A- and J- that had me snorting and blowing wine all over my dad's laptop. 'the baby jesus blows!')

women don't like dirty or crude? hitchens, we could make you guzzle a whole bottle of Hendricks with tales of monstrous blood clots, menstrual disasters, catastrophic sexual encounters, embarassing visits to the doctor, the unfortunate thing that happened at grandma's funeral and the reason why sometimes my friends call me Puddles. there's nothing dirtier or cruder than a bunch of women hopped up on tequila, my friend. nothing. (just ask what a bridal party did to the cowboy troubadour they hired then drunkenly held captive until they finally released him, shaking and traumatized, the following day.)

women can't be funny in the face of death? too bad hitchens wasn't at my roomie's mother's funeral this past summer. the tears were expected; the guffaws halfway through my roomie's speech were a welcome surprise. it takes guts, strength and a finely tuned sensibility to get a whole church full of mourning midwesterners to give up the funny.

his tone wavers between 'admiration' of our inherent biological/moral authority over men and a smarmy castigation of it but what's most clear is that hitchens (and other men who always seem to ask these dumbass questions) has never really eavesdropped on a real conversation between groups of women. or maybe it's because he only knows neurotic white women. (expose yourself to a little diversity and suddenly you have a lot of funny.)

neurotic women aren't funny. confident, self-aware women are funny. women willing to look ridiculous are funny. women willing to point out the ridiculous and the neurotic in others are funny. women who tell the truth are funny. women in touch with their anger are funny. (bitter, but funny.) oh, we're funny, alright. just depends on who's listening to us.