Friday, September 30, 2005
Truth is... reading IS fundamental
How the hell are you gonna have a book coming out that you can't even read?
I'm trying really hard to keep the flip comments to a minimum because in spite of her obstacles, she still had the courage to step out front as an inspirational figure for motivating others trapped in the same situation. But it's a nothing short of crying shame that she can wail heartfelt shouts of praise to fellow baby mamas of the world, yet she can't read her own daughter a bedtime story at night. Struggling to pronounce basic vocabulary words. Hungry for fame and fortune, yet unable to interpret the fine print on the recording contract. If we needed more evidence that our community's backyard is in dire need of sweeping up: here it is.
Not only is our public school system shot to hell, but her parents' child rearing skills can only be described as an unqualified failure. There is simply no excuse for allowing your child to place such a premium on talent that a crucial part of development was left neglected. Comprehension skills at a substandard level, raped at 14, pregnant at 16, high school dropout. The simple fact that Fantasia was able to become a success story after navigating through the kind of hardships most people don't face in a lifetime is miraculous in of itself.
It's time to stop waiting on no child left behind and get back to the concept of it takes a village.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Junkie Couture, anyone?
Dear God, lock up the children and have Condé Nast halt presses on December's Vogue!
Models caught doing blow, film at 11.
News that walking mannequins indulge in nose candy is about as surprising as pro athletes cheating on their wives with silicone enhanced Hooters waitresses. The open secret of "don't ask, don't tell" has raised nary an eyebrow with well connected fashionistas since the dawn of disco decadence. Can we stop the gratingly transparent revival of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign of the 1980's to decry her self destructive behavior? The cries of "we wuz duped!" while feigning cross-my-heart innocence rings about as hollow as the Brit icon's cheeks. The glamorous life renowned for its stiletto dance with the underbelly of la vida loca served to cultivate Moss' rock 'n roll image, then turned on her once that image matched reality.
A mere two weeks ago, Moss was still a viable name brand in an industry where you're considered over-the-hill in your late 20's. Strolling down the runway at New York's Fashion Week and being chosen as the face of Dior's new fall accessories collection in print ads slated to hit newsstands within days. But faster than you could fix a snagged hemline, the rug was pulled out from under her with concrete proof that the nasty habit she claimed was behind her had stayed a part of her routine, and there would be no easy denials, no publicist spin doctoring or future libel suits to make it all go away.
Lucrative contracts with Burberry and Hennes & Mauritz have been severed effective immediately. Her longtime partnership with the grand dame of designer imprints - Chanel - expires next month and will not be renewed. Rimmel London cosmetics are going over their legal loopholes for a "get out of hot water free" card with a fine-tooth comb. Now she's teetering on the edge of Gia Carangi-dom. Another cautionary footnote to the next eager crop of doe-eyed ingenues with America's Next Top Model dreams entering the Sodom & Gomorrah of couture and cocaine.
Kate's big mistake wasn't doing coke, but getting caught red-handed in the act. The cardinal rule has always been dowhatchalike, just don't wind up with your hand in the cookie jar while the camera's rolling. Halston, Calvin Klein, Donatella Versace, Marc Jacobs, James King and Naomi Campbell all are among the marquee names who have battled addiction. Add in the vast amount of lens men, stylists and makeup artists who are also frequent users and the figures shoot up (no pun intended) exponentially. How else can the questionable sources of inspiration that show up on catwalks from Paris to Milan be explained? You think looking like a lampshade trapped in a psychedelic wet dream is a stroke of genius?
"If someone is going to be the face of H&M," the spokeswoman, Jennifer Uglialoro, said, "it is important they be healthy, wholesome and sound."Right. We're all well aware that the lampooned supermodel diet of cigarettes, caffeine and coke is the epitome of product representatives who embody looking healthy, wholesome and sound.
Don't get it twisted, my heart doesn't bleed for Katie poo's public flogging. The damaged nostrils alone could power the next citywide blood drive all by her lonesome. However, the blatant hypocrisy really gets my Cosabellas in a twist. When she single handedly led the anti-glamazon revolution by becoming the face of "heroin chic," criticism grew to such epic proportions that even President Clinton stepped in to urge the fashion industry to stop glorifying emaciated body images shortly after the overdose of photographer Davide Sorrenti in May 1997. Now the same culprits who touted pallid complexions, sunken eyes and jutting bones as desirable are running scared from the woman who forever defined it. This from the same business who prize prepubescent frames above all others because garments hang like a seamless second skin without alterations.
When Dove decided to roll out their new line of firming products this summer with a provocative campaign featuring "real curves" in all their imperfect, fleshy glory, more than a few men and women alike recoiled in horror. For all the cries of challenging the conventional boundaries of attractiveness, the sight of lumps and bumps made more than a few folks uncomfortable with getting such an up close and personal view of average, everyday women. As Chicago Sun Times reporter Lucio Guerrero writes, "See, ads should be about the beautiful people. They should include the unrealistic, the ideal or the unattainable look for which so many people strive. That's why models make so much money. They are freaks -- human anomalies -- who need to be paid to get photographed so we can gawk at them."
As the mother of a 3-year old daughter, invariably the high and mighty will trot out the ever grating "bad influence on young women" excuse in the wake of her freefall from supermodel to public pariah. However, isn't it interesting to note that the media machine taking potshots simultaneously revel in splashing the bacchanalian revelry of celebrities all over their pages to assure readership. And just like a hungry pack of wolves, we eat the payback up with voracious consumption, all the while snug in the comfort of wearing "I told you so" like a Michael Kors pashmina.
And since cover girls are held up as the template for all that is glitzy and gorgeous, the unpretty truths that airbrushing can't hide are extolled with the same passion when the mirror reveals flaws in the presumably flawless.
However the fetishistic and disposable approach to women's imagery that's been ingrained in Western culture overall could use a much needed 12-step detox program. After the furor of being the sacrificial lamb dies down, a retreat to some exclusive mountainside rehab center alongside spa treatments will return the luster to her tarnished career. But how many OD's of mixed messages is it going to take for us to confront our own dishonesty?
Friday, September 23, 2005
Goodbye Coppertone, hello cashmere
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The Hunt for Red October
When you take into consideration the frustrations of how maddening the 2005 campaign's been, how poorly they've played through excruciating stretches against the bottom feeders, how many bouts of acid reflux were induced due to the failed Felix Rodriguez/Scott Proctor/Alan Embree experiment in middle relief and how many key pieces of the puzzle have suffered injuries are all added up, it's simply amazing that this team is still in position to win their eighth consecutive division title. The magic number now stands at 11.
Beyond the team dynamics, the race for AL MVP is coming down the homestretch between two of the game's best sluggers who just happen to on either side of this battle royale. In this corner we have Boston's David Ortiz and in the other, New York's Alex Rodriguez. The edge in RBI's, HR's and an eye-opening 54-point differential for RISP are on Shrek's side while batting average, hits and a Gold Glove caliber year at third base work in A-Rod's favor. Do you reward a power hitter that causes migraines with one swing of the bat but only comes off the bench as a DH? Or crown the best, all-around player in the game who's in the upper echelon both offensively and defensively with the kind of fielding that's separates the cream from the rest of the crop?
So after all the stats, offseason maneuverings and a bitter end to the curse of the Bambino in the House that Ruth Built, here we are. The fiercest rivalry in sports kicked up another notch for what promises to be an exhilarating photo finish. Shades of 1978 all over again with the final showdown at Fenway Park. Will another unsung hero become this year's Bucky Dent reincarnated? It doesn't get any better than this.
Out the frying pan, back into the flames
May mercy be spared on the residents and natives with friends, family and loved ones in the danger zone. There's been enough heartache to last countless lifetimes in abundance. Stay safe out there. The countdown to November 30th is on.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
If you needed any further evidence that the stigma of beating your offspring's head to the white meat should be removed, tuning in wipes away all hesitation towards corporal punishment as a deterrent. I kept hearing about this show but never tuned in all the way through to see what the buzz was about. That is until this past weekend on Sunday afternoon when the infamous second season premiere from mid-August repeated. Jets-Dolphins wasn't till 4:15 and I still had another hour till the Yanks-Blue Jays at the Stadium. Something, anything would've been cool just to pass the time.
Enter Sophie Mitchell. The National Hurricane Center has already pegged Stan as next in line should another storm appear from the warm-watered Atlantic, but after seeing Teenzilla in action, they may want to reconsider a new namesake. Clearly, being a force of nature leaving an illogical path of self-possessed destruction makes her the perfect candidate for disaster christening. This 15-year-old biracial demon spawn of a well-to-do veterinarian from West Palm Beach, Florida on the cusp of her 16th birthday. Suffering from total detachment from the real world as she fancies herself as "not a star, I'm a diva!" looking like who shot John and forgot to kill him in a messy blowout from hell and waddling around in painfully unflattering preshrunk terrycloth sweats. To see the extent of her antics carried out over a 30 minute span requires a high tolerance for spoiled wenches who didn't get acquainted with the hard end of a belt buckle early on in life.
"I'd just say we're socially enhanced. A lot of people don't like me because I'm a bitch. But a lot of people would like to be me, because I'm blessed."I suppose the loose translation here is keeping a spineless White woman in check who doesn't have the slightest inkling on how to put her damn foot down being the source from whom all blessings flow.
As part of her dutiful requirements of being the submissive variant to this equation, her mom agrees to bankroll this shindig to the cost of... (are you ready to have your jaw hit the floor?)
I shit you not.
Complete with a personal stylist hired for a cool 10 G's, the episode begins with Sophie looking for the perfect dress to wear on her big night. Mother and daughter head for the Betsey Johnson boutique to brainstorm through pastels, ruffles and chiffon. Being an irrational force of nature doesn't buy people who will tell you the truth. Betsey Johnson doesn't design clothes for girls with curves in mind, especially when the girl in question is shaped like a Hillshire Farm kielbasa straining to get out of its plastic casing.
The mid length halter number Dawn - the hired gun - allowed her stamp of approval on broke so many fashion laws, an extradition should've been in order. The little darling winds up resembling a cowbell with unsupported flapjack tits hanging around her armpits at the bodice. The effect was far more Miss Piggy than Marilyn Monroe. When her mom offers her input on suggestions and tries to come into the dressing room, Sophie pitches a shrieking tantrum in the middle of the store. Rather than hitting the butterball in the throat and dragging her into the parking lot empty handed, she scurries off to the sidelines and takes the verbal assaults without assuming any semblance of authority. Call it playing the race card or whatever, but it's too easy to see how Sophie's the shot caller with a non-Black parent at the helm.
The theme proposed from the hired party planners is Moulin Rouge brought to life with circus performers, can-can girls, bartenders serving up non-alcoholic drinks and an over-the-top birthday cake.
Of course prior to fast forwarding to the main event, more gleeful bitchery lies ahead with wittling down the names for the guest list. Like Noriega without the Nicaraguan accent and secret CIA backing, she takes pleasure in taking a wrecking ball to supposed "friends" feelings on determining who's in and who's OUT. And when the time comes to hand deliver the invitations, showing up to school in a white Rolls Royce only seems fitting for a girl's who's never had to work for anything. A fawning audience of peers gives Little Miss Sophie a feeling the Mission: Get My Classmates Buzzing has been accomplished. The monkey wrench comes when a girl who made the dire mistake of being on our princess's shit list wound up with an prized envelope.
Oh yes, it was about to be a what? A girlfight... brimming hotter than peppered chorizo off Collins Avenue, corotid arteries pulsing in full Valley girl rage, what could beat watching her sprint for the red feathered invite like an offering of Dunkin' Donuts (which she threw a damn tantrum over)?
And to think young men and women from the most poverty stricken areas of America are dying daily in Iraq to protect the lard asses of the world like her. The gray hairs must be coming faster and more furious than I thought because even at my most vapid moments as a teenager, I could always count on the open handed slap of reality from a West Indian mother who didn't play that shit. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the Richter scale, my worst hysterics would register as a mere ripple in comparison.
Since abortion's the new endangered species thanks to G. Dub's pending Supreme Court appointments, this damning piece of evidence should be compelling proof why the procedure needs to remain legal. The best ways to offset eroding abstinence club pledges is to make mandatory viewership of what's awaiting you 15 years after deciding that spreading your legs in the backseat of a '97 Honda Accord is more convincing than the old hat speeches from the parents will ever be.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Get into the groove
Monday, September 19, 2005
Pass the Sominex, the Emmys are on
So let's just fast forward to many of the most egregious moments of the ceremony (i.e. each time an envelope was opened at the podium):
Everybody Doesn't Love Raymond. Okay, seriously...the hard-on for this sitcom is nothing short of sickening, but ANOTHER reason to bestow statuettes to previous (and multiple) winners Brad Garrett and the ubiquitous Doris Roberts? Just tranquilize me now. Jeremy Piven and Jessica Walter were robbed.
Blythe Danner picked over the scene-chewing power of CCH Pounder. Stop the fucking madness. This woman could fart on screen and it's worthy of a nomination alone.
Patricia Arquette besting Glenn Close? Huh?! No Patti honey, you weren't the only one wondering if you were hallucinating when your name was called. Was the curse of The Ring encoded onto the "for your consideration" promo tapes?
James Spader, I pumped my fist for your win last year that propelled The Practice off the chopping block into the Boston Legal spin off, but this time around, Ian McShane was clearly head and shoulders above the competition. The man who reintroduced "cocksucker" into series dialogue would've been a barrel of laughs had he rightfully gotten the Academy's vote.
The few and far between bright spots:
S. Epatha Merkerson's first time triumph as Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her turn in HBO's Lackawanna Blues. The night's funniest speech came from her thank you's getting caught too low in her cleavage. She's always been such a steady presence from her Law & Order days, so it was nice to her see receive some much needed recognition. Not to mention that I was ready to chuck a fuzzy slipper at the TV if Halle Berry picked up another statuette in this category. Not consciously trying to flex my considerable playa hater skills, but can we move away from getting caught up in the stunning looks for a sec and be real? Her performance as Janie Crawford in the disappointing adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God was akin to a 2 hr. Revlon campaign filmed on location in the Florida swamp. Long on lush cinematography and weave-twirling beauty shots, short on depth.
Donald Trump & Megan Mullally's incredulous rendition of Green Acres which kicked off a head-scratching Emmy Idol competition with various stars matched up to perform TV's most popular theme songs. Even in your wildest dreams, you'd be hard pressed to picture the godfather of pricey real estate trading a tailored suit for hillbilly staples of bib overalls, field rake and wretched combover obscured by a straw hat. Manhattan goes Mayberry. To call this a fish out of water situation would be an understatement.
Everyone pegged the Best Actress in a Comedy prize as a cat fight between Golden Globe winner Teri Hatcher and critic's darling Marcia Cross but when the dust settled, Felicity Huffman proved to be the last one standing among her fellow Desperate Housewives. Being an unabashed Bree fan myself, this was one upset that didn't get under my skin. Her touching and teary shout out to husband William H. Macy ["thank you for taking a chunky 22-year-old with a bad perm and glasses out into a cow pasture and kissing me and making me his wife" Awwww...] was a nice moment for an underdog who earned her time to shine in the spotlight.
Everybody in the store feelin' tipsy
Now speaking as someone who is a raving addict with a Duetto card to boot, I don't mind tipping for services in general. I know what's like to toil in the service industry since many dues were paid back in undergrad. If I'm at the salon, picking up a food delivery, trying to barter with a cabbie or ordering room service on vacation, I always start at the minimum of 15% and add accordingly based on how well I'm treated.
But these snot-nosed, Coldplay obsessed, multi pierced baristas who act like they're doing you a favor? You've got to be out your goddamn mind. In the words of my favorite pasty curmudgeon Bill Maher, "What is it with Starbucks, delis, even dry cleaners all having little jars on the counter? Hmm, what's 15% of "blow me"? Waiters get tips because they "wait" on you. If your job involves standing behind a counter cutting bagels in half, you're not waiting on me: I'm waiting on you. I think that's bi-partisan. We can all relate to that."
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Six degrees of separation
A mutual acquaintance invited me to her 26th birthday party for an otherworldly juxtaposition at a holistic, conceptual center-cum-average nightlife playground in West Chelsea. As if the New Agey flakiness of veggie food and tarot reading wasn't enough, I was sitting on the fence about going because:
- the festivities weren't kicking off till 11:00 p.m. which meant I would have to go all the way home then commute back into the city after getting thoroughly relaxed. Not one of my favorite things to do after putting in an 8 hr. day.
- no one in my immediate circle of colleagues was slated to be in attendance.
- although we exchanged pleasantries often, I wouldn't necessarily consider myself cool like that with the hostess either.
This place was cavernous and kinda resembled an Ibiza dance-compilation CD cover once inside. Older cats looking to get their groove back intermingled with skater kids and B-boys in doo rags. Vibe was trés Enya meets Cirque Du Soleil while high off Red Bull and ginkgo biloba. I love trance just as much as the next raver, but I can only take it in small doses via headphones at a Tower listening station. It was time to get my ass over to the bar to narcotize myself with a steady stream of overpriced mixed drinks. One martini, two martini, three martini, four! Letting the percussion from the Chus & Ceballos dub of Deep Dish's Say Hello (my club cut of the moment) and a Third Eye Indigo (vodka, grape juice, ginseng and some citrusy additives) kick in, I was feeling goooood. So groovy that when this Filipino dude who had the uncanny resemblance to an ewok asked me for my number after buying me a drink, I just laughed. Hysterically. Uncontrollably. The words "you wanna stare into this compact... look reeeeal close and come again?" just floated out my mouth without a hint of tact. Yes, that was an unnecessary slice of bitchitude, don't remind me.
Just as I was ready to bail on the mezzanine for the ground-level dance floor, in strolled the current loathe of my life. Goddammit. Why the hell hadn't I scanned through the frigging Evite guest list in its entirety?
Here's where things get tricky and I have to provide a bit of back story to fully understand the nature of this clusterfuck of awkwardness headed my way. Now this slug I'll call Corey* is a kinda sorta ex. I say that to soften the reality of the linguistics because truth be told, he's simply a now-former fuck buddy with a cushy title. But it took ya girl 3 damn years of back and forth to see the shit for what it really was instead of further deluding myself that we were in the gray area of an actual relationship. A cycle of stringing me along, emotional distance and perpetual bullshit should've been the clue he wasn't the one within the first month, but some things you have to learn the hard way.
Okay, so the Laguna Beach twist you've been waiting for. Unbeknownst to me (well, at first), Corey was involved with Lisette before he and I hooked up - and she just happened to be the broad this whole shindig was thrown for. Yep, the birthday girl herself. And one more cliffhanger tossed into the plot for good measure: all three of us used to be co-workers circa 16 months ago (she and I in the same department - him in a different division on another floor). The company rulebook clearly wasn't a page turner in orientation.
Odd thing was, I spent so much time and energy building up this irrational shade at Lisette for her involvement with Corey, I don't even know how the hell I wound up in an almost friendship with the chick after their fling ended and my emotional roller coaster began. But then the evolved, semi-mature part of me realized that she was the wrong person to channel so much anger towards. If I should be pissed with someone, it should be Corey since he was the one taking my heart and riverdancing all over the shit for longer than necessary. I had last spoken to him during a layover in Miami over a month ago and really didn't want to pick up where that convo had left off.
A crew of thirsty ass negroes hawkin' every chick in sight swarmed in the balcony and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him among the incoming pack immediately. He looked good, but I wasn't shell shocked with butterflies like I used to be. Matter of fact, the sight of him sort of repulsed me now. Either way, I was determined to keep a poker face of nonchalance from here on out. Faked like I didn't know he was there as he greeted me while swaying near a booth by two girls I had been making small talk with.
"Oh. Hm. Hello back atcha."
Subliminally, I was hoping my face wasn't gleaming like a cast-iron skillet with bacon grease since it was Africa hot in that mug. He gave me the obligatory once over. Looked me up and down with a smirk I wanted to slap off his face as he leaned forward trying to slip his hands in my rear pockets. I knew that wasn't the only thing he wanted to slide into later on, but uh uh... even liquored up I was well aware. There would be no sex in the champagne room. Now accepting of the reality that he was a self-serving jerk, I was too through being on his merry-go-round. But I could still have a bit of fun in the meantime, no?
I was back downstairs shaking it like a salt shaker on the ground level when the remix of Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl came on. Now I wore the original out since spring but was still obsessed, so you take that and multiply it by 6+ minutes of pop confection and it's murder on the dance floor. Before you could say b-a-n-a-n-a-s, next thing you know I was on top of speakers near the DJ booth yelling "ooh, you're a dick, you're a dick..." on the hook to the asshole in question. Inhibitions had hit the bricks long ago. After my impromptu go-go dancer audition, my bladder felt like it was gonna explode from intermittent shots. Time to haul ass to the ladies'. Once relieved, I was ready to call it a wrap since it was almost 3:30 in the morning and I felt my energy level starting to wane. Well, that plan would take a detour for the next 20 minutes. Corey was standing right outside. I had to ask if he had added panties to his repertoire now. "Funny...but nah, I was looking for you," he grinned and attempted to look sexy doing some L.L. mouth thing that almost made me pee myself again. Then a light bulb clicked on and the wheels went into motion.
Just a wink and a smile was all I needed to lure him into a stall...of course, he figured one spit coat on his lips was enough to drop my guard. Like I was going out like a some cluck from Copiague with a quickie interlude in the bathroom. Au contraire, mon frere. I had him straddled and instructed him to take his pants off. As if such a request bore repetition ad nauseum to get him to drop trou. Off went the pants and boxers...
"So, what you wanna do?," I whispered in his ear.Silly rabbit. I slid my hand between his legs and teased for a few seconds to let the anticipation of what was awaiting him detonate his macho posturing. I moved my head downwards and then raised up off him without warning. Before a protest could escape from his lips, I grabbed his jeans and shorts tossed carelessly on the floor in one fell swoop. Then I jammed the latch and locked him in with just his button down and wifebeater on. Expletives were flying as he tried to kick it loose.
"C'mon ma, like you really gotta ask?....you know what I want...go 'head and handle that..."
"You simple ass bitch! Open this shit up!" blended into the the drums and bass as I quickly navigated to the door. I wasn't waiting for him to figure out the best bet would be to just crawl out from under the shit. Time to throw them bows...move bitch, get out the way! Once I saw the exit sign lit up in bright red past the waiting area, I knew I'd have to hail a taxi with the quickness in the dead zone of the witching hours. Not a yellow cab in sight. Fuck! What is I gon' do?!
I wasn't equipped to sprint in 4" platforms, but I chucked the evidence in a nearby dumpster and took off towards 11th Avenue. Almost like it was scripted, a cabbie coming from the direction of the West Side Highway pulled alongside me at the curb and I leapt in. Slunk down in the backseat for like a good 5 minutes, like the mob was tailing me. This felt like Escape From New York instead of a random night out.
Right before we were about to merge onto the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, my borough welcomed me back with a jarring pothole. Impact nearly propelling me off the seat coupled with lingering adrenaline and sudden nausea had me in a choke hold.
"Pull the fuck over!"The Pakistani guy hadn't even had time to slow to a crawl when I jangled the car door open. Out came the tequila, traces of Heineken, campari, the Bloody Ahern, 2 whiskey sours, 3 dirty martinis, almost everything digested in the past 24 hours and remnants of contempt left for a man who had never seen me as someone worth caring about but something to be in rotation for a brief spell and relegated to the sidelines as it suited him retched abruptly in a grotesque kaleidoscope.
As I spat the last of the residual bile out the window onto the Gowanus Expressway and turned my cell off from incoming threats, all I could think about was not curling up naked on the bathroom floor and counteracting the latter A.M. queasiness with the remedy of Old Faithful. Burnt toast, the breakfast of champions.
* = names changed to protect the clueless &/or ignorant.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
When your poll ratings fall off like Will & Grace
- Go to www.google.com.
- Type in failure.
- Click on "I'm feeling lucky" as shown above.
- Laugh your ass off uncontrollably.
- Hit reload & repeat #4.
Dude, where's my hall pass?
a potty timeout.
I fucking kid you not.
The full text reads as "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?"
Hey, how many Secret Service Agents does it take to free up a urinal?
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The unbearable Blackness of being
This sighting yesterday prompted all the merry minions to scurry from their cubicles and align themselves at the windows with uninterrupted sights of the Brooklyn Bridge and FDR Drive from our office. Choruses of "ooh's" and "ah's" just made me roll my eyes and continue working. I suppose my blatant indifference to the commander 'n thief's arrival for annual UN general summit meetings were blinking in neon letters because Al*, the resident GOP-flag bearer was incredulous that I had no intention of craning my neck to see what was happening. I politely demurred, but it seemed as if he needed to phone a friend to take a fucking hint. Little did he know I had a lifeline of my own in store.
Me: "Um...I'd rather pass on that one."
Him: "But, but....it's not every day we get to see the president! You should wave a greeting out of respect!"
Respect? You want me to pay respect to a drunken frat boy who hid out in the luxuries of Air Force One rather than heading down on the ground where people were dying in New Orleans? I'd really like to send my regards with a phlegm-laced token of appreciation for such a bang up job. How many Marlboro Lights do you think I'd have to chain smoke downstairs to hit my mucus quota?Bullseye.
He skulked away from my desk back to the East River view, smirk full of smarm replaced with visible contempt of the "how dare that negress use that tone with me!" variety.
It's uneasy exchanges like these I've tried to avoid since Katrina wrought her fury. Simply because by and large, White people just don't fucking get it. My Kanye West moment happened out of the sheer repulsion of listening to these condescending assholes talk long enough to reveal what really lies beneath. And just as the hurricane ripped through cities to lay bare the ugliness of truths we've tried to sweep under the carpet, the apathy of White America has come squarely into focus in the aftermath of such a publicized cauldron that resurfaces about every decade without any real discourse to address the roots of the problem.
In the fallout of thousands from New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast decimated by the destruction, fingers have been quick to point out class as the prevailing issue which left so many residents stranded without a way to escape. A not-so-clever tactic to walk on the eggshells of that dirty 4 letter word non-minorities avoid like the plague. RACE.
Who are the poor? With whites making up 72 percent of the population, the United States contains more poor whites than poor blacks or Hispanics. In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that the increase in white poverty in nonurban areas accounts for most of the recent uptick in the poverty rate. But only a little more than 8 percent of American whites are poor, compared with 22 percent of Hispanics and nearly a quarter of all African-Americans (in a country that is 12 percent black). This represents a significant advance for blacks in recent decades, thanks to the growth of the black middle class, but it's still a shamefully high number. By contrast, immigration has sent poverty among Hispanics up, though it has not been as intractable for them across generations. - source, Newsweek.com [The Other America]It's impossible to disconnect the complexities of race and class when weighing in on the repercussions of what went on in the Big Easy. The uncomfortable truth is that the color of one's skin not only determined how skewed press coverage would be in the mainstream media [ex: the now-infamous Yahoo! press photo captions, incessant loops of young Black men looting] but in how evacuees were being unwelcomed with not-so-open arms in nearby cities.
White suburban police closed at least one bridge to keep a group of blacks from fleeing to white areas. Over the course of two days, a white river-taxi operator from hard-hit St. Bernard Parish rescued scores of people from flooded areas and ferried them to safety. All were white. "A n--ger is a n--ger is a n--ger," he told a NEWSWEEK reporter. Then he said it again. When they did focus on race [in the aftermath], many Louisianans let their fears take over. Lines at gun stores in Baton Rouge, La., snaked out the door.The new catchphrase of this debacle is "the blame game." As if pointing out the obvious for the sake of banding together for photo ops will do any good at this point. It's been said that the very definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result every time. Well, it's high time that America check itself into a psych ward because the self medications with dimestore salves instead of cold, hard therapy will ensure more casualties ahead to rouse the majority still wandering around eyes wide shut.
Losing my religion
"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city. From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge." - Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America
"The image of the hurricane ... with its eye already ashore at 12:32 p.m. Monday, August 29, looks like a fetus (unborn human baby) facing to the left (west) in the womb, in the early weeks of gestation (approx. 6 weeks)," the e-mail message says. "Even the orange color of the image is reminiscent of a commonly used pro-life picture of early prenatal development." - the wrath of God against Louisiana in retaliation for abortions according to the Columbia Christians for Life.
It's always struck me as ironic and the height of hypocrisy that the same political party that deems themselves divinely anointed through text messages from the Man Upstairs never once practice the very virtues found in the Good Book (of fiction, but I digress). Does "loving one's neighbor," "we're all God's children," and "doing onto others as they have done unto you" ring a bell? As an astute reader from Fairview, NJ wryly observed in Newsweek: "If we are to believe that President Bush and the Christian Right have been talking directly to God these past six years, then it follows that this is God's answer to their agenda."
They'll scream fire and brimstone atop their soapbox with a crucifix in one hand and the American flag in the other, calling themselves upstanding, patriotic Christians - washed in the blood of the lamb - while only breeding contempt for anyone who has the unmitigated gall to not subscribe to their warped brand of idealogy.
Dare to believe that freedom of choice, equal rights extended to ALL regardless of orientation and a code of ethics aren't mutually exclusive ideals? Well, you're just an psuedo-socialistic hippie freak with rainbow flags adorning your front porch with offspring at an abortion clinic near you. A rallying cry of "TREASON!" would be led by that belligerent bassethound of the GOP, Ann Coulter.
"While New Home and First Assembly are less than two miles from each other in this suburban town 30 minutes west of New Orleans, their perspective of the situation couldn't have been further apart.The haughty sense of retribution for a city that was as famous for booze and beads for boobs as they were for beignets has gone from mere "told you so" scorn to sheer glee from the same holy rollers who preach empty pleas for compassion on Sunday mornings, while acting as judge and jury just in time for Hump Day. If New Orleans was the example to be set for those heathens and fornicators who refuse to take heed, FEMA better get on the horn now with evacuation tactics for New Yorkers, Californians, Floridians and anyone within a 50-mile radius of Sin City. Figure a head start months in advance could only help since we all know how efficient they can be in the line of fire.
The 200 attendees of the predominantly African American congregation of New Home Ministries focused on hope, while the 30 or so members of the predominantly white First Assembly focused on God's revenge and restoration." - excerpt from the Washington Post
A record number of African-Americans fell under the spell of evangelical kowtowing during the 2004 election because if there's one thing Karl Rove & Co. knew firsthand: infiltrate the Black churches while playing on inherent homophobia and you've got yourself ballot wild cards, baby. *cough* Take a bow, T.D. Fakes and Creflo "Countin" Dollar *cough* How many of us had a family member that fell for the "Kerry's gonna let fags get hitched now!" okiedoke while sidestepping the real issues that should've been going off like flare guns? Well, their pledge of allegiance sure showed us.
A President that prefers to strum a guitar with country singers while a state of emergency is ongoing. A VP that's househunting for the newest mansion addition along the Maryland shore while bodies are floating like driftwood. So many examples of enlightened decision making indeed, it just leaves you to wonder... what would Jesus do?
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
We hold these truths to be self-evident
Mayoral, city council, borough president, district attorney seats are all up for grabs and it's up to you to decide who moves onto the big stage come November.
So save the excuses and get your asses down to the polls. If not before work or school, do it afterwards. What's the use of complaining on how life is if you aren't willing to channel that frustration in changing it?
See you at the booths.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Brilliant blue skies without a cloud in sight. Indian summer in full swing so the temperature dictated all jackets be kept in storage for another day. Sunlight streaming over Manhattan. A simply gorgeous Tuesday morning in New York City. In the absence of time, you could close your eyes now and almost turn back the clock without any effort. Exactly four years ago today, the scenic surroundings were eerily identical.
In the context of my newly minted adult existence, I didn't yet have that defining moment that regardless of how many more autumns were to pass along on almanacs to come, I would remember. Little did I know, September 11, 2001 would turn out to be exactly one of those "Where were you when...?" days.
Back then I was working in Brooklyn, conveniently 20 minutes away from home. Oddly enough, it didn't take me a year and a day to choose the ensemble del giorno out of my scattered closet and I was strolling out the front door by a quarter to 9:00 a.m. The frenzied banter of the morning jocks up and down the FM dial had turned strangely cautious and deferred to news reports filtering in: "we have word that a commercial plane crashed into the World Trade Center 5 minutes ago..."
Come again? My ears must've been playing tricks on me because I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was well aware of the attack 8 years earlier, but this was just unfathomable. As I pulled up in front of my office building and unlocked the gates, I raced to put my desk stereo on for updates. By that time, my watch read 9:05. The headlines were now announcing that a second jetliner struck the south tower.
Reason had given way to disbelief. This just didn't make sense. With no TV's in house to see what was happening in real time, the radio and video feeds from online news feeds had to do. Not surprisingly, I wasn't the only one with that game plan and the clips were taking forever to buffer with bandwidth being stretched to the max. The change in the air above told the story that anchors couldn't deliver right then and there. Even though I worked quite a ways from downtown Brooklyn, the smoke was visible even where my station faced the storefront windows. Fumes billowed out like ominous clouds. Dark and foreboding. It was impossible to focus on work with chaos surrounding. Store owners on either side of our building joined us standing out on the street just watching as Lower Manhattan burned uncontrollably. And then the soaring towers folded into itself under molten beams and came tumbling down one after another. We were all frozen. Frightened. Fragile.
This wasn't a time to fret about taking calls and pacifying our client's needs, this was bigger than the frivolities of an everyday routine. We closed up shop at just after 12:30 to take a much needed breather within the confines of our homes. It was there in my living room that I witnessed for the first time the barbarity of the consecutive plane crashes from earlier that morning. The horror of people being caught by TV cameras jumping to their deaths. And then the workings of my semi-functioning brain stopped spinning wheels to realize that my cousin from Bergen County worked at Morgan Stanley. My homegirl from college had just gotten promoted over at Cantor Fitzgerald. I had friends who made their daily commute from the outer reaches of the tri-state through Port Authority into the World Financial Center.
Cell calls went unreturned. Phone service was completely knocked out citywide. I couldn't get through to anyone and my relatives from abroad and scattered across other states couldn't reach us. Everything was shut down in every corner of Gotham. Bridges, tunnels and the subways were all closed. No one could get out nor could anyone else enter. A state of total uneasiness echoed by the still smoking area which only in hours previous was the epicenter of sleek architecture, limitless financial resources and a defining image of the might and power of the city itself was now reduced to ash-lined streets and 3 billion pounds of rubble everywhere. This didn't feel like reality, but frames spliced from Apocalypse Now. I alternated between holding my breath for another disaster in waiting and sobbing until my eyelids swelled to the size of welts before willing myself to sleep that night.
I eventually got hold of my cousin Donnie and peeps from 7 WTC who all made it out thankfully unharmed. However my friend Mel wasn't so lucky. At only 23, she was gone before her daughter would even know the woman smiling in the pictures as Mommy.
An otherworldly pall was cast over the entire city and it seemed surreal. The cocksure attitude which crystallizes every stereotype you can think of was gone. Perfect strangers now talked. Eye contact wasn't avoided. The never ending crowds were emptied as the natives recoiled in a hermit existence. Times Square was a ghost town. Union Square turned into a makeshift healing ground of sorts.
Almost every attempt made to ease the heaviness I felt waking up every morning from 9/12 onwards didn't help much, but I still wanted an outlet to do something amid such devastation. St. Paul's Chapel became more than an aged church on the corner to a refuge for myself and countless others still reeling from the pain.
It was all too fitting that the rescue workers and volunteers making their way to the wreckage at Ground Zero for recovery and cleanup traveled up Broadway — the Canyon of Heroes.
The reverberations of unexplainable loss manifested itself in another ironic turn weeks later. Shortly prior to the attacks of 9/11, I had actively set out to look for a new job. My current gig had grown about as stale as curdled milk and the time was right to hit the employment circuit again. I had interviewed at so many places I was beginning to lose count. Included on my tour of "Where's my next paycheck coming from?" were stops located in the north tower. One in particular was just two weeks before on the 83rd floor. I passed on all three openings and kept the hunt going.
Less than a month later I got a call from my headhunter who was pushing to give the green light to a sit down with recruiters at a newly relocated firm in Midtown. By this point I was almost at the end of my rope in frustration. 2001 was almost completely in the books and I was stressed, depressed and miserable in my current situation — so I agreed. Only after I arrived did I realize the gravity of this opportunity that was presenting itself. The company was formerly situated in 2 WTC, occupying floors 98 to 104. Nearly 200 of their employees had perished in Tower 2 and they needed to fill slots immediately. While their loss had nothing to do with me, pangs of guilt haunted my conscience...especially after I accepted the position. I couldn't help but wonder in the back of my mind, if these people weren't taken in an act of viciousness, I wouldn't be reaping the benefits, so to speak.
So here we all are, 4 years after, many therapy sessions later in the shadow of yet another national debacle, a few years older and apparently not much the wiser for it. I mean, what have we really gleaned from such an experience? Feel good vibes and a sense of goodwill from all nationalities setting aside their differences for a common cause dissipated all too quickly. And as recent poll results reveal, the view of this country unearths deep divisions which – for a short time at least – were scotch taped together. The flag-purchasing renaissance of patriotism was nothing but a ruse for the many questions still lingering and unanswered.
The silver lining remains in keeping our friends, family and loved ones' memories alive and not just mourning the nature of their passing once a year, but honoring the very essence of how they lived for the other 364 days. The altered skyline framing the Financial District is an echo that although things have been irrevocably changed one thing remains the same. We're still here. We have not forgotten. We continue to grieve but we aren't broken. Truly cherishing freedom gets no purer than that.
Friday, September 09, 2005
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Thursday, September 08, 2005
Fahrenheit 8/29: Revenge Of The Sith
Bring 'em out, it's hard to yell when the barrel's in ya mouth*sniff* *sniff* You smell that? I know it's faint, but hear me out on this one.... is that the stench of accountability approaching the Bush administration's front door? Dumbya & Co. have been able to deflect all blame in the past 4 years on outside threats and imminent danger from the Koran worshipping bogeymen hating us for our freedom in the Middle East. Now that disaster's struck in his own backyard - right in red-state country - think staying holed up at the Crawford compound will be the quick fix outta this one? Uh uh. The proverbial shit is about to hit the fan and the curse of the second presidential term is beginning to cast a dark cloud on a legacy of treating foreign affairs like one long episode of Gunsmoke and unsuccessfully smoking terrorists out of their caves.
Bring 'em out, bring 'em out
Bring 'em out, bring 'em out
At such a time of blistering criticism from all sides including his own party, in rides the always genial thorn in the side - Michael Moore. I previously posted his searing open letter to the conehead-in-chief and now comes word that we may see the horrors of Hurricane Katrina captured in a forthcoming documentary. I was worried that once the body count is underway and commissions begin on Capitol Hill, the cold reality of just how devastating this was would disintegrate in Lake Pontchartrain's toxic soup. But not this time. We've been asleep at the wheel for far too long and petulant cries for unity ring false in the wake of corpses littered all over New Orleans like forgotten remnants of what used to be. The truth will NOT be denied.
The beer bottle doesn't fall far from the shelf
After being defrosted earlier than usual from the cryogenic tomb at the North Pole which keeps her elderly Mrs. Claus facade intact for the annual Christmas society balls, the former First Lady found a way to look at the bright side of things after visiting with evacuees at the Houston Astrodome. Surveying the victims who were disproportionately Black residents of the New Orleans area prompted this nugget of empathy in an interview with American Public Media's Marketplace.
"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this [slight laughter] is working very well for them."Could Marie Antoinette script this slice of verbal diarrhea any better?
I mean, of course it's working well for those displaced Negroes! What beats having your home torn apart like papier-mâché, worrying whether loved ones are dead, alive or shipped off to a separate state, huddled together with over 10,000 other perfect strangers in less than ideal conditions and winding up unemployed in the blink of an eye! Fold out cots squeezed together and the cries of children forced to adapt to life in a makeshift halfway house in a football stadium just seems like pennies from heaven, don't it?
I'm amazed this decrepit fart took the Grey Poupon-stained silver spoon out of her mouth long enough to drop such a heartfelt gem. I'm sure just the thought of all those unwanted undesirables in the Lone Star state just makes your catheter a wee bit looser. Fucking senile douche bag. Like mother, like alcoholic devil spawn.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Requiem for a lost city
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
And miss it each night and day
I know I'm not wrong... this feeling's gettin' stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines
Where mockingbirds used to sing
And I'd like to see that lazy Mississippi...hurryin' into spring
The moonlight on the bayou, a Creole tune... that fills the air
I dream about magnolias in bloom... and I'm wishin' I was there
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
When that's where you left your heart
And there's one thing more... I miss the one I care for
More than I miss New Orleans
The moonlight on the bayou, a Creole tune that fills the air
I dream about Magnolias in bloom.... and I'm wishin' I was there
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
When that's where you left your heart
And there's one thing more... I miss the one I care for
More.... more than I miss...
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Graduating summa cum laude
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while lennon read a book of marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died..."
I've been a disillusioned hip-hop head for longer than I care to admit. While an occasional beat would be cause to nod my head, the lyrical content and chock full o'cliches would leave me cold. I longed for the days when rappers had something other than bitches, bling and rims to rhyme about. Whatever happened to the music representing what was happening on the streets? Being the voice of the voiceless? Aiming its eye to the social ills of the community and becoming the "ghetto CNN" to draw attention to problems unreported on the 10 o'clock news? Since glamorizing the hood went Hollywood, things just weren't the same anymore.
In the wake of such a catastrophe on our home soil, I wasn't waiting with baited breath for a representative of the urban collective to rock the boat with any loose cannon commentary. Too many of our entertainers can't put together a well-constructed sentence much less have the balls to shoot from the hip without a camera present or a crew 50 deep mean muggin' in the background. Why would this time be any different? Alas, I spoke too soon.
"I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!"Midway through last night's concert for hurricane relief airing live on the East Coast, Kanye West decided to drive his Chevy through NBC's levee and kissed the scripted shtick goodbye. With the single utterance of "George Bush doesn't care about Black people!" to the flabbergast of a stunned Mike Myers, a collective fist pump was felt far and wide by those who echoed those very sentiments. In one simple, frustrating phrase, the impassioned resentment of a people who watched men, women and children in shades of brown just like them abandoned by their own government was thrust into the spotlight. And not a moment too soon. It took brass balls to deviate from the saccharine hand-holding session to say what many African-Americans were already thinking.
Of course the detractors have already gone on the offensive to call the outburst inappropriate and unsuitable since it occurred during a charitable benefit. So that criticism obviously begs the question - when would be the proper opportunity? Venting in an obscure magazine article? Mouthing off in a fan site journal entry? In the midst of an online simulcast? Like any one of those options would garner the same amount of publicity. When you have millions watching as a captive audience, why not go for broke in getting the message out? Fuck decorum, this was the right choice in the right venue at the right time. It was a textbook example of "keeping it real" for the studio gangstas to take note of how it's really done.
Of course the execution didn't go off without a hitch. West was visibly nervous and had trouble articulating his points on camera devoid of his trademark swagger. Yet that vulnerability made his message all the more poignant — and potent.
Contrary to what the Sun-Times' Jim DeRogatis claims, Kanye's splashiest foray into controversy didn't earn him an honorary Black Panther card in one fell swoop. West is still too enamored with sucking his own dick for the sake of kudos he shamelessly chases from every magazine editor and reviewer known in the industry. However for one brief moment, his greatest work came not behind the boards or located on an album listing — but voiced as a man who let his guard down to reveal the grief which for once outshone his ego.
Friday, September 02, 2005
The emperor has no sense
Friday, September 2nd, 2005
Dear Mr. Bush:
Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.
Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?
Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!
I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?
And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!
On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.
There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.
No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!
You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.
P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.