Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Private Tests Find Formaldehyde Danger Widespread

If you live in the Gulf Coast, that is. This MSNBC article corroborates what lots of local activists and residents have suspected for a long time: that not only the travel trailers, but also the mobile homes (read: bigger, nicer) that have been provided by the government to Katrina victims are producing extremely high levels of formaldehyde--levels that are making the people living in them sick and sicker.

Just more proof that if the storm didn't kill you, FEMA just might.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Who Put the FUN Back in Fundraising?

WE did! My friends and I, that is. Last night, at a little spot called the Blind Pig here in Manhattan, my buddies and I hosted an event designed to raise a little money for the children of Renaissance Village, a FEMA constructed trailer park down outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I met a few of the kids who are living there (all victims of Hurricane Katrina) when I was down in the region this past summer, and never could get them out of my mind. Neither could Jess, and so, together with our friends Kerryann, Katie, Vanessa and Allison, we got together and made the decision to do something that might make these kids' lives a tiny bit better.

The plan was pretty simple, and it totally worked: convince our friends--all of whom get together all the time in bars and restaurants to have a little fun--to spend this past Tuesday evening partying w a purpose instead. And that's even what we called it: Party with Purpose. We got other friends to donate items to for silent auction, booked the bar (again through friends) and then sent out Evites and email invitations to our buddies in New York. And guess what? People turned up in droves and helped us raise about $5,500-- which we will now use to buy holiday gifts for the kids in the trailer park.

It's actually amazing to me how easy it was to put together, to get people to come out, and actually make a demonstrable (if small) difference in the lives of others. Working for a non-profit that is large-ish in size and therefore a complex system of yeses and nos, you can sometimes forget just how easy it can be to do something that has immediate impact. I'm so glad that I was reminded that it's something we all can do--maybe not alone, but with just a few friends by your side, change is possible. And, if you're lucky, really, really fun.

Friday, November 2, 2007

He's Baaaaack...

I suppose it couldn't have been any more predictable--you knew it, I knew it, even the family dog knew it: Don Imus has made it back onto the air. He's signed a deal with WABC Radio that will have him filling the morning drive-time slot (6 am to 10 am), and, we can assume, making a whole lotta money doing it.

It's amazing to think that a whole six months has passed since the brouhaha that got him booted from his last job took place, and I for one am struggling at the moment to figure out how much I care that the man has got his footing back. On the one hand, he certainly "paid a price" for his idiotic remarks; but on the other, his return makes it clear that the powers that be in the media really don't get why people were so upset in the first place. They slapped him on the wrist, sure, but now they've handed the mantle right back to him, giving him plenty of opportunity to continue his pattern of racial and sexual degradation, along with some general jack-assery.

So, again, the question isn't really (or only) about Imus; it's about the media culture. He's the symptom, they're the disease. It's impossible to imagine Don Imus coming back to the air being anything other than his same, old self, and I guess what his re-hiring tells us is that that old, mean self is cool with the guys at ABC, who are clearly psyched to keep the power in the hands of guys like themselves. It's all pretty gross, if you ask me... but why does the whole thing make me feel so utterly exhausted?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NPR for 30 Somethings

Looks like NPR has wised up to the fact that there are plenty of us out here in our 30s who'd love to listen to them on much more regular--if only they provided us with programming a little bit different from what our grandparents are listening to.

The answer to this age old (old age?) problem has come in the form of the relatively new "
Bryant Park Project," a morning news show from NPR that will, according to their Facebook group, "change your life, speed up your commute and jack your test scores 50 points -- in whatever order you choose."

I've only listened to a couple of shows, but I think I may already be hooked--and not just because the super dope Alison Stewart (remember her from her MTV veejay days?) is one of the voices behind the show. Right now you can only hear them in Seattle, Indiana and Vermont over the airwaves, but they're available nationwide on Sirius Satellite, and always available via the web.

Check it out, superstaaaaahs...

Morning Glory

So I had this idea last night, as I was trying to drift myself off to sleep, that I should start trying to post in the morning, well before the day has jerked off into the annoyingly usual busy-ness that has come to be the norm more recently. So here I am, dressed, loafers polished, and sitting down for just a moment to jot a few things down before I jump on the train and head for work.

Last weekend was spent in New Orleans--my first trip to the city since the storms. It's true that I visited Baton Rouge in August, but being in the Big Easy itself, I found, is a different thing altogether... Not that you'd know so much disaster was around you if you didn't inquire: the business district and the French Quarter have been pulled back together in large part and live there, on the surface, seems much the same as it ever has been. But for some reason (perhaps because the work I do from 9-5 is so closely linked to what's happening down there) I couldn't stop asking questions of the people I met who live there--and once you ask, there's no going back to the fantasy that all might be well. Because once you ask, they begin to talk, and the stories they tell are not uplifting. They are sad and long and utterly depressing and they make you realize that whatever you may be being fed about the "recovery"of the region, people's lives are still being impacted by the trauma this storm wrought.

It was completely surprising to me, how affected I was by the underlying tension, sadness, and frankly, the smelliness of the town (how had I never noticed before reek of rotting garbage, sewage around every corner downtown?). I'm still struggling a little bit with my discontent, and I'm interested to see how and if my experience of the place will change when we return down there in December after we deliver our gifts to the children of Renaissance Village (more on that later).

In the meanwhile, though, I should also say that the reason I went down there--the wedding of my friends Trina and Chris--was a smash success, and a beautiful reason to be drawn to the city. So nice to see something new and fresh and good spring up in the midst of so much decay.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The XX Factor Is Legit

Can't say how I missed it (except that sometimes Slate boooores me), but apparently the lady-folk over there (including a former classmate of mine) have taken to blogging: political blogging from the female perspective, to be precise. Now, there's lots of chatter out there that this bad, because it ghettoizes women, and that it's totally banal, because all these ladies have to talk about are their domestic travails. But I for one will cheer for The XX Factor, because it's nice--and important--to have more female voices out there, talking about whatever the hell they please.

And if you happen to need more on that particular topic, check out my mom's blog post today on the HuffPo. Rock on, CJ!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Little Good News for New Orleans

And I do mean a little: the city is poised to receive $11.2 million from 10 philanthropic organizations to help rebuild affordable and mixed housing units that were lost in the storms. Bill & Melinda Gates led the way (natch), with a whopping $3 million gift, and a number of other names you might recognize (Kellogg, Rockefeller, etc) are following suit at differing levels. It's not quite half of what the fund spearheading the effort thinks it'll need to make a dent (that's about $25 million), but let's hope this will inspire other individual and institutional funders to jump on board and do the same.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ehren Watada: Still Fighting for His Freedom

Great piece in last week's issue of The Nation on the status of Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first commissioned officer to refuse to serve in Iraq. In case you missed what's happened lately, Watada's military court trial for his failure to deploy ended in a mistrial; however, the military courts have threatened to re-try him--contravening, Watada argues, his constitutional right to be spared double-jeopardy.

Now Watada's taking his case to the US courts, asking them to deny the military court the right to subject him to yet another trial on the same charge. And thus far the US court has complied, offering a stay to block the 2nd military court trial.

Watada will go before that judge on October 19th to plead his case, and it should be interesting to see what comes of it. If he loses, Watada goes back to the military court to be tried again--and it will be a miracle if there's yet another mistrial this time around. Moreover, the likelihood of a military court finding in his favor strikes me as slim to none, not least because in order to find him innocent
the court would essentially have to declare the war in Iraq both "immoral and illegal"--the charges that form the crux of Watada's claim about his innocence (i.e., that he was, as an officer, dutybound not to take part in conduct he knew to be immoral or illegal--and by the measure of American law, he says, this war is both). If the court says he is right, then not only has it delivered a slap in the face to the Executive Branch, but it also has on its hands about 200,000+ criminal-soldiers who have deployed as directed to carry out an illegal war. And who the hell wants to deal with that?

I couldn't be a bigger fan of Watada's and I have every finger and toe crossed that the US courts will find that he deserves access to his constitutional rights as much as any other citizen. Because-- and call me a pessimist--I'm pretty confident that this guy stands no shot if the military tries to take another swing at him. See what standing up for your morals gets you in this country these days?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Don't I Know It

Clinton-Obama Quandary for Many Black Women

Doris Lessing, Lady of Mystery/Nobel Laureate

I liked this post on Salon's Broadsheet about the enigma that is Doris Lessing as much as anything else that was written about her last week. Anyone who can toss of a "I couldn't care less" comment in the wake of learning she's won literature's highest prize get a vote in my book--not because I don't value the prize, and not because I wouldn't about die if I won it myself, but because its just so nice to see someone refuse to be sucked into our culture of self-congratulation as completely as the rest of us.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Women? Sports? Power? No way.

God bless America! I have absolutely no excuse for going this long between posts, except to say that things here at work have been 100% mad, what with having to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month and trying to keep up with the various other management related tasks here on the j-o-b. But still, no excuses, and no more laying off the blogging--I'm done with that, I swear.

So here's the thing I've not been able to get off my mind since this weekend (which now seems eons ago): did anyone else happen to check out the 100 Most Influential People in Sports list in Business Week? I did, and I have to say I'm not sure why they even BOTHERED to use the term "people"--because 95 out of the 100 individuals listed are MEN. The top ranking woman, in fact, comes in at an astounding 67th place (the CMO of Coke), followed by Maria Sharapova at 73, Heidi Ueberroth somewhere in there, one other lady whose name I can't recall, and finishing up, at the very bottom of this list of 100, with Donna Orender, head of the WNBA.

Now, if this list is in any way accurate (and there are some pretty good reasons to think it's a pile of junk), then every sports related company in this nation is pretty much ripe for a major EEOC complaint (or ten) to be filed against them. But it's not them I'm most steamed at. That women are underrepresented in the business of sports (and business leadership in general) isn't news--but what has lit me utterly on fire is that a publication like Business Week would make ZERO effort to try to diversify this list in any way--by reaching out to unlikely candidates, or by making some kind--any kind!--of gesture that would indicate that they realize there is something seriously awry with a list that makes it seem as if women make little to no contribution to the world of sports, in business or on that proverbial field.

Total yuck, my friends. If I had a subscription, I'd cancel it for sure.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Will Stern Show Thomas the Door?

Would that Fox Sports columnist Michael Rosenberg were right: In light of yesterday's revelation that Isiah Thomas is guilty of sexually harassing former colleague Anucha Browne Sanders, Rosenberg is betting on--and calling on--NBA commish David Stern to take action against the not-yet-disgraced-enough-for-my-taste Knicks head coach. It's clear enough to everyone who's ever read anything about Madison Square Garden chief James Dolan that he will do nothing to punish Thomas for his bad behavior... which leaves us with Stern, who has the opportunity, and hopefully the will, to make it clear that the NBA will not tolerate such behavior.

If Stern can indeed step forward and make the call, and force Thomas to ride the bench for a few games (if not indefinitely), then we might be able to say there is some version of justice in the world of professional sport. But if he can't (and I for one am not sure that he can or will), then... well, let's just say I won't be supporting the NBA very much at all, in print or in person. Hopefully, though, Stern takes a page from football chief Roger Goodell's book, and sticks to a hard line on what's kosher and what's not when you work for his league.

Bush Says, Poor Children Suck


Bush Vetoes Child Health Insurance Bill

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Must Listen: Young African-Americans Speak Out on HIV

Guess what? AIDS may be a global problem, but it still happens here in the United States, too. And if you're person of color, it happens a whole lot. African Americans may represent 12 percent of the total U.S. population, but we were estimated to account for 50 percent of the HIV and AIDS cases diagnosed among adults in 2003.

Think that's bad? Well, if you're a woman of color it gets even worse: black women account for nearly 66% of HIV cases amongst women despite being only 12% of the US population of females.

Stunned? Me too. Want more information about the realities of the disease in the US, and how some pretty remarkable young African Americans are dealing with the epidemic? Check out this program on NPR featuring super-fly journalist Michel Martin. Her guests have a lot to share, and may just convince you that when it comes to HIV, it's not just folks in the third world who are continuing to suffer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

O'Reilly Meets Blacks, Eats Their Food

Thanks to Media Matters--and my mother--for tipping us off to this juicy little tid-bit: apparently Bill O'Reilly thinks Black people curse a lot. And are generally crass. And use profanity to request service. All the time.

I'm not even going to attempt to go further than that in describing what he said; I'll just let you read it here. Keep in mind that this was his response after dining at the famous Sylvia's Restaurant up in Harlem, with Al Sharpton.
O'REILLY: I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks... There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more ice tea."
Maybe it was just that folks were on their best behavior because they saw him coming. Or maybe not. But I seriously don't know how any media figure can be so continuously stupid and still be revered by millions. It's moments like this that remind me just how hard it will be for Barack, and maybe even Hillary, to win the election...I guess it's really true what they say: there is no finish line when it comes to achieving equality. Days like today make it feel like we've barely even gotten out of the blocks.

Monday, September 24, 2007

NYTimes Confesses Its Sins

Turns out that the NY Times does have a conscience--or at least it turns out to have one under mounting scrutiny of its potential wrongdoing. The paper of record has now admitted that the discount it gave MoveOn.org to run the infamous General Betray Us ad was "a mistake"; apparently someone inside decided it was time to come clean about the fact that journalists just like liberals better.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Young? Got a Good Heart? Well, MTV Wants YOU!

Getting involved is even easier than it used to be. Today, MTV Networks launched Think.MTV.com in beta, with an eye to giving them young folks an even better way to do good and--crucially for this generation-- "be recognized" for it.

The idea behind Think is that young people are great force to mobilize for action (duh), and that they would be well served by having a place where they can learn more about volunteer opportunities and connect with other like-minded folks. It's definitely a great idea, but it's not a new one: the folks at GoLeft.org have been working on a similar product since March.

Still, it's good to see anyone, everyone, trying to convince kids that there's more to life than making a whole load of dough. Especially when folks like Bob Herbert are apparently losing the battle.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's Not Just Jena

If you watched last night's primetime Emmy Awards, you will have noticed that this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the airing of Roots--the epic mini-series that finally brought the history of black America into millions of homes, black and non-black alike.

Now, wouldn't it be nice to think that 30 years later, the bigger racial battles were behind us? It would be, but we can't--as episodes like those in Jena, LA and now, Tuscaloosa, AL prove.

No one's hanging nooses from trees in Tuscaloosa (not this week, anyway), but as the NYT is pointing out, there's a racialized battle going on down there that Thurgood Marshall would weep to see: the rezoning of the Tuscaloosa public school district has effectively put segregation back on the map in Alabama (assuming you believe it ever left). To quote from the article:
After white parents in this racially mixed city complained about school overcrowding, school authorities set out to draw up a sweeping rezoning plan. The results: all but a handful of the hundreds of students required to move this fall were black — and many were sent to virtually all-black, low-performing schools.
Umm... did it occur to no one on the planning board that this might be a problem? Is this a case of, we don't know our American history? Or was it more a decision based on the arrogance of the (shrinking) majority--something along the lines of, "We are accountable to no one"???

Either way, it should be interesting to see what this Times articles does to help the case of the children who have been impacted by the decision. It's been great to see how the media spotlight has moved things forward microscopically for the boys of Jena...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lies, Lies and More Lies

Want to be a journalist? Apparently all you have to do is make shit up.

Alexis Debat, a consultant to ABC News and, until yesterday, a senior fellow at the Nixon Center (counterterrorism is his specialty), has been found to have fabricated a whole host of interviews he claimed to have done with esteemed public figures like Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Nancy Pelosi, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Alan Greenspan. Though his veracity was challenged before, none of the publications printing his work seemed to take it too seriously until Barack Obama came out swinging over a faked interview that ran in the esteemed French mag, Politique Internationale.

Looks like Jason Blair's bench is getting deeper by the minute.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bill Maher, Mos Def and Cornel West Talk Jena 6

I've mentioned the Jena 6 to you before; nice to see it getting some national coverage here and there. This is a travesty, and a miscarriage of justice we all speak out about. As Mos Def put it, "That shit is whack"--and it's time to get off our rears and do something about it.

Visit ColorofChange.org to learn more about how you can help.

Green Colleges ROCK!

This one is a little old (I somehow missed it in all the madness leading up to the Katrina anniversary), but well worth glancing over: Grist's list of 15 Green Colleges and Universities. I'm proud to say that not just one, but two of the universities I attended made this list. Plus, there was that summer I spent at Middlebury, so that's gotta count a little bit, too. Interesting to see how these centers for learning are trying to tackle the problem--and, in the case of Yale, committing to helping a major global empire do the same.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Let the Agony Begin

I've been on vacation for a week (bliss!), so apologies for the extended radio silence. But I am back now, and must begin by reporting what all Giants fans by now already know: this is going to be another loooong season. The 45-35 loss to the Cowboys may have done wonders for Jessica's Fantasy Football team, but darn it if it didn't make me wonder if there's some kind of hellish curse hanging over the men in blue.

For the record, by the end of the game no less than 3 starters and 1 primary back-up had been benched due to injury. Among those starters was Eli Manning himself, who apparently has a bruised right shoulder. If you'd asked me at some point last season if I cared weather he was in the game or not, I might have said no--but last night, believe it or not, Eli looked confident; everything, for a moment, was coming together. And then, like *that* (snap), it felt like last year again.

I guess there's still plenty of time left in the season, and maybe Eli and Brandon Jacobs and Osi Umenyiora will be back and better than ever. Miracles happen in other cities, don't they?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Iowa Says "I Do" to Same Sex Marriage (Iowa???)

Yes, Iowa. Kids, you know things are getting pretty strange in the world when a state known best for... well... hmmm....maybe corn?...has found a way to give the nod to same-sex marriage before so-called bastions of liberalism like New York has. But in this case, strange is fine by me.

The story: Yesterday, an Iowa county judge ruled that the state's law "allowing marriage only between a man and woman violated the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection." As such, couples of the same-sex would clearly have a right to marry. Expect a lengthy appeals process to ensue, but in the meantime, county officials have been ordered to process the marriage licenses of the six couples who originally brought the suit. And not surprisingly, calls are coming in from other gay couples around the state who want to take advantage of the ruling before it has any opportunity to be overturned by a higher court.

Hooray! And yes, I know it may be way too early to celebrate, but there's so much depressing news out there as relates to gays, that it just feels good and right to fete even the tiny steps forward.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beating Up Gay Dudes is SO FUNNY, Tucker!

Just when I think I've lost all my love for Gawker, they go and remind me why I once loved them so much: in this case, by posting this remarkable clip of MSNBC's Tucker Carlson admitting that he once physically attacked a gay man who made advances on him. Gawker asks: Did Tucker Carlson just admit to a crime? The answer is, absolutely--and I hope the man whose civil rights he violated comes right out of the woodwork and nails Tucker's butt to the wall.

Not to worry, though--this one isn't going to sleep quietly: GLAAD is now speaking up and asking Tucker to apologize for his comments. That oughta show him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Remembering Katrina

If you followed my instructions a few weeks back and checked out the posting I was doing from down in Mississippi and Louisiana during our Media Justice trainings, you'll be happy to see that there is now video evidence of the work we did while we were there.

This video, created by Jacquie Soohen, gives a great peek into what the process of putting together a radio documentary really looks like. Plus, she's set it to some seriously dope tunes, which is never a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Et Tu, Senator Craig?

Ahh, the sweet smell of hypocrisy: in case you don't live in a city like New York where our daily tabloids splash everyone's business all over their front pages, just wanted to share the story of Senator Larry Craig of Idaho--Republican, natch--who was recently busted, and plead guilty to, engaging in lewd sexual (read: homosexual) conduct in an airport bathroom.

Now, far be it from me to revel in any person's misfortune, but this is a guy who has staked his political career on denying equal rights to gays, who was in the past suspected of engaging in sex acts with minors (though never charged), and who has gone out of his way to deny--repeatedly and
over a roughly 25 year period--rumors that he is gay. And now, here he pops up, soliciting sex from a male undercover cop in the Minneapolis airport.

I suppose there's something in this that's very sad--something deeply depressing about a man who's worked his entire life to hide/repress the truth of his sexual identity and urges. Yes, there's something infinitely sad about that. And maybe if he were just any man, rotting away the lives of the people in his family alone, I might be more inclined to indulge that sadness. But the fact that this happens to be a man whose votes on the laws of this land impact the lives of millions of Americans, disinclines me from feel too terribly sorry for Sen. Craig. Mostly, I just want him out of office--because anyone whose hypocrisy runs this deep shouldn't be trusted in a position of leadership. If you're gonna hate on us gays, and deny us rights, then please at least do us the courtesy of not being one of us on the sly. We kinda hate that.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Proving once again that good things come to those who wait (and that there is some small justice in the United States), Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has tendered his resignation.

According to the CNN report, Michael Chertoff, head of homeland security, is being cued up to take over his post; the President--still on vacation at his Crawford, TX ranch--is expected to make the official announcement at 11:50 am EST.

Thank God for small favors.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Republicans Care About Health Care, Too?

Well, it seems like at least one does--for the moment. Today, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is set to outline his plan for a system of health care reform that would enable states to extend coverage to some of the millions of currently uninsured Americans. It's a model he put in place while he was governor of Massachusetts--and it's nice to see that he hasn't returned to the dark side on this, too, given his recent reformation on most social issues.

Romney's plan sticks to private coverage--no "European-like," universal, one-party insurer here. Still, it's nice to see someone on the GOP side at least gesturing towards the notion that even the (relatively) poor deserve the right to live dignified lives.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pokey Gets a New Gig

Deposed LSU women's basketball coach Pokey Chatman has found a new place to build a championship caliber team: Russia.

Nice to see that the Russians are more forgiving than we are here in the States.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Little Free Advertising for CNN

Not because I feel the need to provide a huge media conglomerate with more space in the universe than it already takes up--but because I really can't get enough of Christiane Amanpour. Which is why both tonight and Thursday night, I will be glued to my seat from 9pm until whenever it ends, watching her special on fundamentalists and religion, called, appropriately enough, "God's Warriors."

Tonight I believe she begins with the Jews, tomorrow moves on to the Muslims, and wraps it all up on Thursday with the Christians. I'm super bummed to be missing that middle episode for a lot of reasons (not the least of which is that Islam is the religion I know the least about--which, I imagine, puts me in the same camp as most other non-Muslim Americans). But tomorrow night Jessica and I have tickets to go see Mr. Barack Obama address the crowds in Brooklyn. So someone's gonna have to TiVo that one up for me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Michael Vick Pleads Guilty

Not that this is any kind of surprise, but Michael Vick has just agreed to enter a guilty plea on the dogfighting charges pending against him. I thought I'd be happier to hear news like this, happier to watch all those apologists turn crimson and turn tail. But actually, I just find myself a little depressed at the waste of it all: another black man--one who had a real shot at "making it," as we like to say--is likely going to jail, and a whole slew of animals have had their lives ruined. When and where does all the stupidity end???

Juan Cole Goes Heroic on Rove

Listen: I've read a lot of articles about Karl Rove and his tactics, and if any one gets it right it's this one by Juan Cole. It's not just that Cole is able to make an interesting historical connection between Rove's way of being and that of the infamous Joseph Goebbels (while also being quick to say, "Rove is no Nazi."). It's that, better than anything I've read in a while, this article gives a palpable sense of both the cruelty and deception that have become the hallmark of Rove's tenure. When even the folks at Fox News are asking you, a Republican leader, to revisit your sentiments, and the veracity of your statements, you know you've got some deep s**t going on.

Also, I just love the combination of the words "poisonous," "rhetorical" and "legacy" with Rove's name. Brings a shiver of gladness to my spine. Thus, for today, Juan Cole is my hero. Keep it coming, brother.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

HuffPo, AlterNet Pick Up Katrina Story

Luckily enough, this week both the Huffington Post and AlterNet ran a piece I wrote while down in the Gulf Coast. It's about one woman's struggle post Hurricane--in particular her struggle with FEMA to fix a massive leak in the trailer they gave her to live in.

I wish every one of you could meet Vicky Cintra and hear her tell her tale face to face... or meet any of the kids who live in the trailer parks of Renaissance Village... and then make judgments about who deserves what, and what it is incumbent upon the government to do. It's easy enough to cast apspersions on these folks when they're merely an abstraction (that's for you, Alternet commenter)--but it sure gets a lot harder to do that when they become real people, with real concerns, and wide open hearts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Beauty at Any Price?

My friend Lulu here at work turned my eye today to this little quiz on a site called BellaSugar, which is one of her faves. The quiz is about 20th Century foxes, and is a fun little test of your pop culture knowledge of the winningest ladies of times gone by.

Now, since I'd never been to or heard of BellaSugar before, I decided to poke around a little and see what else they talk about over there besides Gloria Steinem's streaks. Turns out that, in a brilliant catch, they picked up this little number from BoingBoing on a spa treatment that involves having tiny fish nibble away your dead flesh.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mississippi Burning

Seriously. This place is hot. And wet. And tho in some instances that might be a good combination, for my taste this environment is nowhere near hospitable. The physical environment, that is. The emotional, human component makes up for a lot, tho. That, and the unbelievable food.

Since I've spent just about every minute of the last 4 days thinking about the lasting devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I think I'll use this opportunity to think about something else. Like Hillary Clinton. I'm hoping that despite the fact that I'm Mississippi I'll still be able to watch the Logo/HRC debate tonight (god bless wi-fi). But because I was up to my neck in boiled shrimp at the Imperial Palace Casino buffet last night, I missed the AFL-CIO debate.

I haven't had a lot of time to dig around for feedback on what went on, but I do see on Feministing that there's a little bit of outrage brewing over the fact that Hillary referred to herself as a "girl" during the debate And it's funny: though under normal circumstances I might have the intellectual space to delve into the ins and outs of what that kind of slip of the tongue might mean--to the women's movement, to the political sphere, etc.--something about all the freakin' reality down here makes it a little bit harder to get riled about something which, in the grand scheme of things, is really so minor.

Nobody who was planing on voting for Hillary is not going to vote for her simply because she called herself a girl on one occasion; and frankly, it's probably a wise move for a woman who gets painted as "too hard" by the media to try to soften that image as she gets closer to having to woo voters who are not her natural constituents. It's all a game, right? And Hillary's as expert at playing it as anyone else (and so far, better than any other American woman). So why are we liberals so constantly surprised when she "fails" the various purity tests we put to her? She's out to win a general election, and sadly enough, in order to that she's going to have to sell her soul...again. Time to either get used to it--or find a way to back a different candidate to win the nomination.

Monday, August 6, 2007

This week

Just as a heads up to all my loyal readers: this week I'm traveling in the Gulf Coast for work, attending trainings the Ms. Foundation is supporting that will teach our grantees the art of radio documentary, and blogging about the process. So my guess is that my ability to post here will be limited. That said, if you want to keep up with what I'm up to, check out KatrinaRadioProject.blogspot.com. Should be some interesting info there.

Other than that, all I have to say is... It's freakin' HOT in Mississippi!!!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Black Journalist Shot Dead

Given the state of the Fourth Estate--it's elite stature, its more recent synonymy with lunches at Michael's and hobnobbing with the stars--it's become pretty easy to foget that digging for the facts can still be a deadly job. Case in point: Chauncy Bailey, an editor at the Oakland Post (and formerly a beat reporter for the Oakland Tribune) was just executed, right here in the good old US of A, in what police are calling a targeted ambush.

What a waste...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Good Things CAN Happen--Even in the Senate

A little late to the punch on this one, so perhaps you already know, but on Thursday, the Senate approved a health care bill that will increase funding and expand coverage for low-income children--despite the President's threat to veto the bill. Even better, the win was by a large enough majority that W can't override the legislation even if he wants to--a true, bipartisan victory that will improve the lives of millions of children whose lives would otherwise be compromised by lack of access to medical care.

Of course, the fact that this president wanted to deny said children this health care in the first place raises a whole other set of issues... But luckily, on this one, the decision didn't get left to the mighty decider. See? Democracy in action really does work... Sometimes.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Robin Roberts: "I Have Breast Cancer"

Sad to spread this news, but it looks like our sister friend at ABC News, Robin Roberts, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her surgery is tomorrow, with treatment to follow. Let's all keep our fingers crossed for her, and our prayers leveled in her direction.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Are You Ready for Some Fooooootball?????

To date, I haven't spent a whole lot of time on this blog writing about football--largely because so far this blog has existed solely in the off-season. But for better or worse, my guess is that that's about to change--because for those of you who don't know, football season is right around the corner: training camps have already begun and before you know it the air will be filled with the glorious sounds of helmet on helmet collisions, images of botched snaps, and the promise of Saturday and Sunday afternoons spent glued to our 32 inch flat screen TV--newpaper in one hand, a cold beer in the other.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself: Hey! I thought this blog was about race, gender, politics and media? I thought it was written by a young, progressive gay woman. Well, all of that is true--and so is this: I love football. It's a very recent passion of mine, and one which, from time to time, gives me pause, too. How to reconcile who my politics might tell you am, with what my heart and gut tell me I love. But you know, sometimes life doesn't line up all nice and neat like it does in the movies. Sometimes you are a card carrying feminist, activist, demonstrator who also loves the strategy, the camaraderie, the gut grinding physicality of our nation's most profitable sport. What else can I say?

Anyway, living in New York as I do, I seem to have staked my fan-ship to a certain group of sometimes bumbling Giants... the ones Tiki Barber just left behind for television stardom... the ones now destined to be lead by one emotionless, under-performing, sad-faced little brother named Eli Manning. And this has me worried, y'all. The Giants were 8-8 last year, with the E. Man throwing 35 interceptions (that a LOT--2nd highest in NFL), and the worst part is, there's no indication they'll be any better this year.

I really want to like Eli--really, I do. But I also want him to have a lower interception rate than say... oh... I WOULD if they threw me in the game and put Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace and a few other big dudes in there to block for me (and shrunk the field by 75 yards). It's going to be a long, sad fall, my friends--I can feel it in my bones.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Too Fat to Parent?

Call it a miscarriage of justice, call it just plain fat-ism, but whatever you call it, it stinks to me: a court in Missouri ruled this week that a man who planned to adopt his infant cousin--and happens to weigh 500 lbs--is unfit to become the child's adoptive parent...because of his weight.

Now, I understand that a 500 lb person might have health issues (which is what the court appointed guardian lists as the reason the application was denied), but so might any number of other people who are adoptive parents, or want to be. And it would be another thing, too, if this was but one in a series of disqualifications in the family--but just 7 years ago, when the overweight man was pretty much just as overweight as he is now, another court approved him for the adoption of his son. So one court says this man and his family are perfectly acceptable parents, and now another says he's just too fat to qualify.

Not only does this decision make no sense based on the facts themselves, but given what the foster care system in this country looks like, the decision is doubly stomach turning. This judge has just taken a kid who's presumably been living happily and stably in a home with his relatives and shunted him into a system that regularly fails its charges, and at best subjects them to the kind of instability and chaos that almost always leaves some kind of scars.

Something's seriously awry, ladies and gents, when fat becomes the reason to deny a kid an otherwise acceptable home. My heart breaks for the whole family.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Armchair Seating on the Wane at Local Bookstores

It's a question that's long plagued my mind: when will bookstores realize that providing us avid readers comfy chairs in which to do our perusing might be working against them? Well, now it seems as if that a number of stores have come to precisely that conclusion, and are thus beginning to do away with the plush seating that has thrilled so many of us for so long.

As it turns out, it's just a small sliver of stores that are tired of us loungers-- Barnes & Nobles corporate, for example, promises that the decision of a few stores to cut back on their seating options is not indicative of a company wide mandate to reduce seating. And the findings here don't relate to any of the butt-numbing benches and stools that litter any given bibliotheque. But I still take it as a harbinger of things to come. Not that I ever seem to be able to find one of the soft chairs to sit in, anyway...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Anyone else heard about this yet? It's a new search page from Google, with one major difference: the screen is black. What's the point? The dark screen (it's black, with white type) uses less energy--which is good not only for the environment, but also for your wallet. Plus, at the moment, there are none of those pesky little Google ads to contend with. Phat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Judging the Debate on Its Merits

Interesting and evocative post on HuffPo today, written by a champion debate coach, on who really won last night's election. Looking at the technical aspects of the thing, the author finds that Richardson was the winner overall, and if I had been paying any attention to what he was saying, rather than gabbing to Jess about one or the other of Hillary, Barack, or John Edwards' preceding statements, I might actually agree. Shoot--that really wasn't fair of me, was it? Does it make it any better that I spent a lot of time talking about how damn cute Dennis Kucinich is, too?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why I Won't Vote for John Edwards

Tonight's You Tube/CNN debate, which wrapped up just moments ago, crystallized one thing for me once and for all: John Edwards won't be getting my vote. Why? Because despite the fact that I think his wife is dope:

1. I don't have any interest in hearing again about how "difficult" the gay thing is for you personally. Struggle with it all you want; let your little Southern baptist heart twist and bleed over who Jesus really meant when he preached for the care and inclusion of the least among us--I just don't want to hear it. And anyone who can't come to a place of equality for all, especially in the secret recesses of his heart, would never get my vote anyway.

2. Picking on Hillary Clinton's wardrobe is a petty, stupid thing to do. Does it matter that she's the only woman on that stage? Yes, it does. And to go after a woman like that, even in a joking manner, makes you, John, look small and mean. Not to mention that smirk. That you don't like her is made clear enough in other ways; spare yourself the embarrassment of looking like--and acting like--a chauvinist by dismissing her choice of outfit. A moronic move, any way you cut it.

I'll say it one more time: I sure wish it was Elizabeth Edwards, not John, who was up there running for office. Now, that would be an interesting race.

How Far Up George Bush's Butt IS Bill Kristol??

It's a legitimate question. And from the tone of this piece of crap published a week ago in the WaPo, I'd say, pretty darn far: Why Bush Will Be A Winner

For a great counter, read Eric Alterman's piece on the HuffPo.

Time for Another Debate? You betcha.

I bet it feels to you like it was just last night you were watching a debate between the candidates for the presidency of the United States. It certainly feels that way to me. But lo and behold, it is now time for those motley crews to gather together again and try not to offend each other too much while tearing apart the policies of their colleagues on the other side of the ideological divide. And this time, they've gone all techie on us: tonight at 7pm ET tune your channel to CNN and check out the first debate hosted by our friends at YouTube, which will take place in good old Charleston, SC.

And because YouTube is the bigwig behind this particular debate, you, netizen, have your very own shot at having your searingly sharp question be deflected by one of the major candidates: just visit YouTube to submit a question (note: you've gotta have a video or web camera to do this) and from there a crack team of CNN producers will whittle the pool down to the 75-100 questions they imagine Anderson Cooper will feel most comfortable sharing with the candidates (so nothing too too gay, please).

Since it's the closest most of us will ever get to being in the ring with the big boys, I highly advocate giving it a shot. (Though interestingly enough, I actually got somewhat of an invite to travel to Charleston to blog the event... and sadly enough, the fact that I have a j-o-b kept me from being able to go. Which brings me back to my earlier point: the YouTube debate is a godsend for most of us.)

Democracy (sorta) opened up to the demos? Pretty rad.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Harlem Book Fair is THIS Weekend!

It's a little late notice, I know, but if you happen to be anywhere near New York this weekend I highly recommend checking out the Harlem Book Fair. It's legendary in these parts, and unlike other book related events it features food so good, and so Southern fried soulful, you'll think you're in back in Dixie. And the book stuff is pretty dope too: this year Walter Mosley, Amiri Baraka and Eloise Greenfield are being honored; there will be tribute to Octavia Butler and Ossie Davis; and newly crowned CNN talking-head/ former Congressman J.C. Watts will be on hand to talk to you about how literacy and crime are linked (is it ok that I still don't like Watts? I really think it is.). Despite Watts' appearance, I'm still gonna say this event is bound to be a good time. Check it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

6 Black Students on Trial in Jena, LA--Jim Crow Justice at Work?

Don't know any more about this than what is outlined in this letter (which was posted on my Yale Black Alumni list-serve), but it's a story I haven't seen elsewhere and clearly needs some attention.
Last fall in Jena, Louisiana, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."1

A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place"--but it's happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the odds are stacked against them. Together, we can make sure their story is told, that this becomes an issue for the Governor of Louisiana, and that justice is provided for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please add your voice:


The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were arrested for the theft of the gun.2

That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.3

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bail was set so high -- between $70,000 and $138,000 -- that the boys were left in prison for months as families went deep into debt to release them.4

The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.

Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years.5 Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.

The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. They will lose precious years to Jena's outrageous attempt to maintain a racist status quo. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Please add your voice to the voices of these families in Jena, and help bring Mychal, Theo, Robert, Carwin, and Bryant home. By clicking below, you can demand that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the 5 boys who have not yet gone to trial.


Thank You and Peace,

-- The ColorOfChange.org team

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rinku Sen on the Politics of "People of Color"

In case you'd like to educate yourself a little more deeply on the intersection between race and immigration policy, take a peek at Rinku Sen's new piece, "Are Immigrants and Refugees People of Color?" on the Applied Research Center's site.

Sen correctly points out that despite our national tendency to sublimate the racial elements of the debate over who is welcome within our borders and who is not, "immigration policy itself is about race and color as well as nationality and class, whether immigrants themselves feel like people of color or not." It's a complex issue, and in offering her own, very personal take on it Sen provides a new way to think about how we understand our racialized--and nationalized--identities.

Definitely worth the read...

We've Got Him Just Where We Want Him

Need I say more?

To buy this and other yummy Barack paraphernalia, visit: www.barackobama.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Worker Abuse in Post-Katrina Cleanup

Remarkable article from the Media Consortium's Brian Beutler (via AlterNet) on worker abuses in the Gulf Region in the wake of Katrina. Anyone who thinks the effects of the Hurricane are ancient history has another thing coming, and what this article makes clear is how yet another version of the Bush Administration's policy of neglect has helped workers (read: poor people) get screwed again--even as they try to help rebuild.

Mexico's HIV Increase Linked to US Migrants

If it's not enough that the US lures migrant workers here for little pay and no insurance, and then kicks them out unceremoniously whenever "immigration" becomes a hot button issue, here's news of an even worse gift we're giving the folks who silently make our economy go 'round: increasing numbers of migrant workers are being infected with HIV and then taking it home--back to rural communities in Mexico where lack of resources, transportation and education make it a mind-numbingly difficult plague to fight.

It's pretty easy to hear how conservatives could spin this in favor of greater immigration reform ("Look! They're spreading AIDS in their own country--and presumably in ours too!"), but for the more sane among us, this offers yet another reason that a different kind of reform is necessary: one that provides not only education but opportunity to the poorest among us. For example, the opportunity to not have to leave ones family behind for months at a time to search out work; or the opportunity to not have to prostitute oneself to pay the bills. Or the opportunity to access health care when you need it, and condoms whether you think you need them or not.

Of course all this would necessitate that America start thinking of itself as a true member of the world community--not just some big brother figure that need not care what happens to our brothers and sisters to the south. My fear is that the only way we'll get that logic is when the great ills of the world come knocking on every single American's door. Seems a little moronic for a country that considers itself the greatest nation in the world, doesn't it?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Star Shines Bright on This One

Via HuffPo, Broadcasting & Cable reports on Star Jones' recent commentary on the need for a permanent person of color on The View.

Not that I find myself agreeing with Ms. Jones on much, but on this one she's absolutely right... When BaWa started the show (what is it, 10? 11 years ago now?), she did something quite novel and appropriate by trying to mirror back to us what our national demographic looks like, at least when it came to race. With the addition of Lisa Ling, the show became even more diverse (and exponentially smarter). But since both Ling and Jones are now departed, and even Rosie--who gave a little queer perspective, and thus made up (a tiny bit) for the lack of racial perspective--has jumped ship, The View has started to look mighty white--and has become more than a bit boring (for this reason among a thousand others).

I've already made it clear that I think this particular show really ought to think about packing it in already--but if it does stay on the air, it's pretty much a no brainer that Jones is right in this case, and that a woman of color belongs on that dais along with the rest of those jokesters. I mean, we deserve the right to be mediocre and petty right alongside everyone else, no?

Friday, July 13, 2007

There's a Schism in the Women's Movement? You Don't Say...

Not that I'm unhappy that the Detroit News gave a little page space to the descent of thousands of feminist activists onto their home turf, but I'm a little tired of hearing the same old news about how old feminists and new feminists (such as they apparently are) don't see eye to eye. Yes, we know: things are different now. We don't get them and they don't get us. But can we get over promulgating the mythology and get to work already?

Many of us "young" women--those of us of the third wave--aren't all that young anymore, and I predict that within 10 years (if not less) none of this will be an issue. Why? Because, quite frankly, they've got to retire sometime. Given that fact, it would be better, it seems to me, to spend the intervening years figuring out what comes next and how we want to shape that future based on our own needs and realities--rather than squabbling over who owns the movement. And yes, this is largely about the press and their depiction of what's going on... but we who are feminists are clearly implicated. Because if we refuse to take part in the argument, the press won't have anything to write about, will they?

Just some food for thought as I prepare to ride off into the Berkshires for the weekend...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Satisfying Your Green Tooth

So dizzied am I by the combination of my job demands and the pesticides my super has decided to spray in our building that I can't anymore recall how I got to this site I'm about to tell you about... (Oh wait! The use of the "history" tab finally comes in handy: It was a link found in my weekly GirlieGirl Guide. Much better.) But anyway: the point is, I love this new-found site, the Green Girl Guide--which offers another good look at environmental issues and news, tailored in particular for the female among us.

You can sign up for their newsletter apparently, or just visit the site when you feel inclined. Lots of tips here for little ways to reduce your impact on the earth, as well as your exposure to all those harmful chemicals people like to assume are just the necessities of modern life.

A similar site called IdealBite is also worth taking a peek at if this is a topic that interests you. They have a daily tip they email directly to you to keep you on the up and up when it comes to staying green. Just picked by Time Magazine as one of the 50 best websites of the year... and despite that fact, I'm still gonna recommend it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

UK Pushes to Prosecute FGM Practitioners

Most of us think of FGM (female genital mutilation) as a procedure that happens only in darkest Africa. And though its popularity on that continent dwarfs its impact in the west, it remains true that many, many young women who are citizens and residents of non-African nations continue to find themselves at the mercy of this culturally popular but medically unsafe (and unnecessary) procedure.

Given that as many as 66,000 British women are estimated to undergo the procedure this year, it makes all kinds of good sense that the British government would attempt to take action to end the insanity... and that is exactly what they have finally done. A campaign to highlight the problem in Britain will supposedly launch this week; and rewards of 20,000 pounds ($40,000 US) for the capture of suspected FGM practitioners are also on the table.

All of this is good news for the women of Britain--and, with any luck, Africa too... eventually. One thing I learned during my time in Ethiopia last summer is that this is an issue that comes down, quite simply, to education. When women practitioners learn the dangers and the lack of necessity in what they are doing, almost all of them are willing to curtail the practice. But until they are educated, they know no better or different. What would be great is if some of these efforts in Britain (which will mostly target immigrant women and communities) also included some bone fide educational outreach--not only to communities in the UK, but also to encourage sustained dialog on the issue with the home communities back in Africa. The is is a case where thinking globally, and outside of the "standard (punitive) solutions" box, could really save millions of lives.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More Proof That We're Getting Old (As If We Needed It)

Jane is closing its doors.

Not that I've bought a copy of the magazine in years, or even more than glanced at it while getting my nails done, but still... you don't like to see magazines like this one--irreverent and thought-provoking at its best--die. And you definitely don't want to hear from folks like magazine editor Sally Koslow that this kind of thing was inevitable because, well, nobody likes that much attitude.

For the record, I think there are plenty of us who like that much attitude and more--it's just, apparently, that none of us were buying Jane anymore. Perhaps because we're building adult lives and reading The New Yorker, or buying our first houses and paging through Domino to fill them. Or maybe it's because it never really felt the same once founder/EIC Jane Pratt hit the road. And no, it was never as good as Sassy (which turned out not to be sustainable either). But it was a magazine it felt reassuring to have out there, even if you didn't buy it: some funky counter to Seventeen and Elle and all the other mags that seem born just to remind you you're not quite good enough.

And now it's gone. I'm sure I can find my irreverence in the pages of Bitch and Bust, but I gotta tell ya: there really was something nice about the idea that big, corporate Conde Nast was pouring bucks into something just the teensiest bit subversive. Say goodbye to all that, folks, and pour a little out for our sisters at Jane.

Monday, July 9, 2007

An Army of None

Kinda makes me feel like folks are finally starting to get the picture: Army Misses Recruiting Goal For Second Straight Month (via HuffPo)

Long time no blog!

Apologies for the absence, but chalk it up to the 4th of July holiday in combination with the fact that Jessica and I just moved our home: from mid-town east to the upper east side. And it's been no easy transition: had to move our stuff out of our old place on June 29, but couldn't move our bodies into the new place until July 7, which meant a week of living in the homes of our wonderful and various friends (thanks Katie and Liz and Ingrid!). All this followed by a weekend of mad, mad cleaning, scouring, washing, drying, and generally trying to get ourselves acclimated to the new space. Whew.

All this setting up house makes me wonder: when'd I get so old? Time was, I would have been happy to live out of boxes, and without sparklingly clean floors, and never given it a second thought. But there I was, scrubbing my new kitchen cabinet until it gleamed. Gleamed, I tell you!

Not sure exactly where the shift happened, but somehow, oddly enough, I became an adult. Which freaks me out a little to realize. And so to quell my quaking fear, I look for remembrances of things past... things that take me back to the days of Lollapalooza and beer thirty; back to "We Got the Bunk" at Spring Fling and late nights at the Tropicana. Things like the Beastie Boys. Today, Mike D. waxes environmentally friendly over at Grist, and even though he's a grown-up now too, the whole thing brought me back.

Thanks for the lift, Boys. Now me and the crew are gonna drink some brass monkey.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Mahatma & Me

Yesterday, while lounging on my friend Katie Sherwin's couch, I decided to indulge myself a bit by picking up the remote and seeing what there was to see. As it turned out, "Ghandi" was on, and so, for the next 3 hours and 15 minutes, I indulged myself by learning again about the life of one rather tiny man, and his mission to cure the world of our violent tendencies.

I don't think I'd seen the film since it came out in '82 (yes, I was 7 but we were a progressive family and I went to a Quaker school, and Ben Kingsley even came to speak to all of us kids about the film and the man and why his message was so important), but let me tell you: it holds up even 25 years later. Maybe it's more important now, even, than it was then. Anyway, point is, I was so inspired, and as we headed out the door after my marathon movie session to meet another friend for drinks, I said to Jess, "I want to be more like Ghandi"--and I'm sure I'm hardly the first person to feel that way.

Usually when I have sentiments like these, they've flitted from my head in a few minutes time... but this was has stuck around, and I went to sleep last night and woke up this morning thinking about how I can direct my life towards goodness. And not only that, but decreased consumption. I don't know that I'll quite be able to start spinning my own cotton, a la the Mahatma, but I think there is certainly more I (and each one of us) can do to cut down on how much we are consuming and how much trash we are spitting out onto the earth. Whether we're choosing to fight that battle on the personal level (see fluorescent bulbs) or by pushing for legislative change, my guess is it'll be worth the effort--not only in terms of saving the earth, but in terms of saving our souls, too.

That's enough of my preaching for now... But meanwhile, for a thought provoking piece on the new boom in environmentalism and how not everything labeled "eco-friendly" is actually going to change the world, read Alex Williams's piece from yesterday's NYT.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Drip, Drip, Drip Goes New Orleans

Luckily, this time New Orleans' water problem doesn't involve the kind falling from the sky. Instead, there's concern with the kind that comes out of your tap. I don't know why I never bothered to think about this before, but it turns out that NOLA has some pretty gnarly issues with "consumable" water. The city's drinking water comes straight out of the mighty, murky Mississippi--the great river that lots of the rest of the country uses as a dumping ground. Add to that the trauma of Katrina (broken pipes, backed up sewage, etc) and you've got a recipe for a less that tasty glass of H2O.

This first person dispatch on Grist from Wayne Curtis, who recently moved to the city, breaks it down pretty poetically. I'll give you the results of my own taste test in October, when I'm there for my friend Trina's wedding. Not that I tend to drink much water anyway when I'm down there... my MO is usually to stick with the portable alcoholic beverages (is there anything better than a margarita in a to-go cup??) to help wash down those powder-perfect beignets.