Monday, April 30, 2007

Who Thinks George Tenet is a Little Crazy?

Well, besides me, a whole group of former CIA officers, who have taken it upon themselves to call Mr. Tenet out and ask him return that good old "Medal of Freedom" he accepted from President Bush. Those CIA officers sure aren't ones to mince words; as they remind Mr. Tenet in their letter,
"You were not a victim. You were a willing participant in a poorly considered policy to start an unnecessary war and you share culpability with Dick Cheney and George Bush for the debacle in Iraq."
Uh... good point. Think he's listening?

Weekend Round-up

Sometimes it's good to save the "Weekend Round-up" writing for late in day on Monday, since remembering my weekend always gives me a much needed boost once the horror of the the work week sets in... So let's try to release some endorphins, shall we?

On Friday night, I had my last (last!) birthday celebration of this year over dinner with our friends Liz and Ingrid and Nina and Carina. Two lesbian couples--both pregnant. Based on Nina's recommendation, we tried a new Algerian restaurant in the East Village called Nomad. I think it's true that none of us had had Algerian food before (and which, in the lead up to dinner, got confused for Moroccan at least once), and I also think it's fair to say that we were happily surprised. We ordered a bunch of yummy apps (with the exception of the fava beans, which Ingrid said tasted like feet) and then I had a lamb and prune tagine, which was delectable. The only thing I'd say is that if you happen to read the review in the Times, beware that the cookies aren't all that the reviewer claims... they aren't in any way bad--they're just not that good. Far better, to my palate, were the red velvet cupcakes my dear friend Liz brought along as a surprise.

Saturday was fairly calm: we took Jackson for a two mile jaunt up First Avenue, then came back to nosh on bagels and watch the 2007 NFL Draft. A short trip to J.Crew was made even shorter thanks to the antibiotic Jess is on that left her running (literally) for the bathroom; we spent the rest of the night indoors.

And then Sunday, beautiful Sunday: got up, walked the pooch, straightened the house and then headed to breakfast at the diner. Then walked from our place in Midtown East all the way to the Upper West Side, through the park (gorgeous these days!), to meet Liz and Ingrid at my friend Sue's house, where they picked up a few things for their imminent arrival, while I got to play with my goddaughter and her siblings. Afterwards, Liz and Ingrid and Jess and I took up residence at Citrus, for snacks and beers and conversation, and at the end of all the socializing Jess and I walked all the way back to our apartment
at a nice, sweat-inducing clip. All that was left of the day was a little 60 Minutes (George Tenet freaks me out!), a peek at the Little People, Big World marathon, and bed. Divine.

And now, as En Vogue once said, it's time for the break-down...

Times Gets it Right on Washington Correspondents Dinner: And I thought I was the only one who found it strange that the press, who are supposed to maintain an "unbiased" distance from the people they report on, would travel to Washington every spring and yuk it up with the powers that be in the White House. Now it turns out that the NY Times will be taking a pass on the event next year, since given this whole debacle in Iraq, it's become increasingly clear what a bunch of patsies the MSM have become as far as unearthing the truth about this President and his administration goes. Here's hoping more outlets follow suit.

Women's College Hoops--A Bona Fide Bull Market: Columnist Mechelle Voepel gives you the run down on a few (too many?) of the coaching changes taking place within women's college game. What's driving the 30-some staff changes in Division 1? Happily, money. Should be interesting to see if the women's programs can actually take the pressure and make back the bucks these universities are laying out on staff. But remember: UConn and Tennessee are currently the only women's b-ball programs in the country that turn a profit--and Tennessee's profit isn't even close to 6 figures (god bless all those folks in CT who have nothing else to do but watch women's basketball).

Unmasking Leni Reifenstahl
: It is a fact not-so-universally known that I have long held an interest in the person of Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's sometime gal-pal and full-time filmmaker (despite what she may have argued once the man was dead). Now, there is a new book out that takes a detailed look at her life and debunks a whole boatload of the myths she invented to clear herself of culpability for the nightmarish rise of Nazism. Amazing how long it can sometimes take to come to the simple truth of the matter, isn't it?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Transgendered in Prime Time

Via Jessica, a rather moving commentary from LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner, who's about to transition to being a female. In an odd coincidence, tonight on 20/20 Barbara Walters will be interviewing the families of three kids who identify as transgendered--and Walters calls it "one of the best specials we've ever done." Even those of us in the gay community likely have a lot to learn about transgender issues; here are two decent opportunities to start informing yourself.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Today was Take Our Daughters and Sons to work day, so, as part of the j-o-b, I was up and at 'em for 6:30 am press event and didn't wrap up the day until about 12 hours later. It was exhilarating and exhausting, and I'm glad it's over--but mostly just wanted to share by way of explanation of why I haven't posted until now and why this one is gonna be short. More tomorrow... time for me to curl up and drift away.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Want to Support Choice? Pick Up Your Phone

Ready to DO SOMETHING to respond to last week's abortion ruling? Here's your chance:

On April 18, the Supreme Court turned back the clock on women's health. Every American who values freedom and privacy should be troubled by the Court’s decision to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban, an abortion ban with no protection for a woman’s health.

You can fight back.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would guarantee reproductive freedom for future generations of American women. With the Court’s decision, we need the protection of FOCA now more than ever before. Join us for the national call-in day on April 25, the third anniversary of the historic March for Women’s Lives. We will flood the phone lines of the U.S. House and Senate.

Don’t let this attack on women’s freedom and privacy go unanswered. Urge your members of Congress to cosponsor the Freedom of Choice Act.


(FOCA House Bill Number: H.R. 1964; FOCA Senate Bill Number: S. 1173)
Time to get on it, ladies and gents.

Rosie Ditches The View

Moments ago, Rosie O'Donnell announced on air that she will not renew her contract with ABC's "The View." Barbara Walters couldn't say enough time that she had nothing to do with it, and wasn't kicking Rosie out--instead, Walters says (and O'Donnell concurs), this was a contract issue between ABC Television and O'Donnell's reps. Hmm. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but regardless, none of us can be dumb enough to think that all the flap Rosie has stirred up played no role in ABC's decision not to have her continue on (and it was definitely their decision no matter how anyone tries to spin it--essentially, they calculated that Rosie wasn't worth to them the number/terms she was asking and they made the judgment to cut her loose).

Who's the loser in all this? In my estimation, The View and only The View. Rosie will go on to do whatever it she wants, on television or elsewhere. People either love her or hate her and she's already made a pretty penny off that truth. As for Barbara Walters' soon-to-be defunct talk show (yep, that's my prediction), this is just another nail in the coffin. The hosts certainly know it--well, at least Joy Behar does (could she possibly convey any greater sense of boredom? or is it just that after eleven years she's finally run out of good jokes?). I'm sure ABC will see the program through its next season, but unless they can find another firecracker as good as Rosie to kick around, this plane is going down.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Simmons Cops Out

Not that we should be surprised, but Russell Simmons seems to have come up with a means of "solving" the language problem in rap & hip-hop without having to do any of the hard work himself. Thanks to Jessica, my attention was brought to an article running on MSNBC today, outlining Simmons' proposal that the words "bitch", "ho" and "nigger" be cleansed from versions of songs that are played over the airwaves. This doesn't mean, of course, that the words will be removed from the songs entirely (which might force Simmons to do something real about the epidemic of misogyny and homophobia in the content he produces); they will just be wiped out, by someone other than Simmons and his cronies, from any song that plays on the radio, et al.

As the brilliant Joan Morgan rightly points out, this is a crap move by Simmons, and may actually do more harm than good by giving the hip-hop community the idea that they've "cured" an ill simply by covering it up (and yet still producing, and making oodles of money off of the content, in the meanwhile). Makes my stomach turn for realz, y'all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Which Bushies Are the Bad Ones?

Via Daily Kos, an article from the AP that gives a good and detailed list of all the Bush cronies who are currently, or were at one time, "under a cloud of suspicion." Personally, I'd imagine it's a qualification for the job, but apparently there are one or two folks who didn't make it onto this list. I'm not sure who, but that's what I'm told.

Karl Rove: Illogical Prig?

Can't say this blog post is entirely shocking, but it is an entertaining read: apparently, Sheryl Crow and Laurie David, on their much televised romp around the nation's colleges to raise awareness of global warming, had a run-in with Karl Rove. Unsurprisingly, Rove dismissed them when he met them, and even yanked his arm away when Sheryl Crow tried to touch him. It's probably the first time in years Crow has had anyone treat her like any other human being (which is the funny part of the read), but it's also a bracing inside look at the personality, and ostrich-like relationship to reality, of the man who's really running the white house.

Weekend Round-up

Maybe it's that the weather has suddenly turned from torrential gray to bud-bursting green, but whatever the cause, this weekend was a good one. Friday was the first day you could really feel a new season coming on, and after work, Jess and I jumped on a train to New Haven to spend the night with her brother and sister-in-law and their kids. 6:30 am on Saturday found the rugrats bouncing on our bed, and we spent most of the rest of the day playing outside with them in the yard, on the swing, eating bagels in the grass. Nobody will be shocked to learn that by the time we got on the train back to NYC at 4 o'clock that afternoon we were exhausted... I slept, mouth hanging open, pretty much from the moment we got on, until we pulled into Grand Central. So did Jess. We decided we'll definitely need a nanny when we have kids, just so we can take a few naps from time to time.

Tired as we were, we were able to rally that night for dinner at Mimi's (piano bar!) with our friend Katie; after that we headed over to Patrick Conley's near Grand Central to have a drink with Jess's friend Jen and her husband. We were home by midnight, which was perfect, because yesterday was Liz and Ingrid's baby shower and we wanted to be fresh. It's the first lesbian baby shower either one of us has ever been to, and for my money, it turned out to be the best baby shower I've ever been to. Why? Well, again, it was a beautiful day, so that never hurts. But mostly it's because it was an open house, and thus very informal--folks could come and go as they pleased. No forced games or merriment--and a great art project on hand that was fun for everyone (except Jess, who hates crafts). And also, just wonderful to see all the amazing community and love their baby will have when she finally makes her way into this crazy world. It sounds sappy, but it really did touch me. Sigh.

Now for the more worldly kind of news...

France on Course to Elect First Female President? This past weekend, France held its "first round" presidential election, which narrowed a larger field of candidates down to just two, who will participate in a run-off. One of the two candidates is Segolene Royal, who, if elected, will become France's first female president. Over at the NYT, though, it looks like they'd rather hang on to Chirac for another 50 years or so.

Sharpton Taking Complaints Straight to Shareholders: Employing a tactic first used by a woman (C. Delores Tucker) more than 12 years ago, the Rev. Al Sharpton has just announced that he will take his complaints about rap/hip-hop lyrics into shareholders meetings, to demand accountability for their content from the heads of the corporations that produce the (sexist, racist) stuff. How will he get into these meetings? By buying stock in the offending companies. It's an interesting idea, and I hope they record the proceedings once Sharpton gets into the room.

Wolfowitz, Out? It would certainly make my day, but it looks like it'll take a little more time for this particular deck of cards to fall. Still, I'm glad to see the MSM keeping the pressure on this little weasel. Anyone who is a friend of George Bush's--plus, largely responsible for this terrible war--deserves whatever ill-will comes his way.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ms. Foundation Responds to Supreme Court Abortion Ban Ruling

The Ms. Foundation for Women (an organization near and dear to my heart) today released its official statement on the Supreme Court's ruling on "partial birth" abortion. I may be biased (ahem), bit I think it makes a pretty decent case about what's at stake in this particular miscarriage of justice (if you'll pardon the pun).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Woman Gets the Abortion Decision Right

There's no way she knows it, but I've loved Dahlia Lithwick for a long time. Not only because her first name reminds me of a horse I once rode many years ago, but because her commentary on Slate is just so damned brilliant.

Today, Lithwick tackles Justice Kennedy's majority opinion in upholding the so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban and truly rips him a new one. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who finds it so utterly irritating when these Supreme Court decisions wax ridiculously poetical, in the hopes, one can only imagine, that people will be lulled into a sense of complacency by the melodious tune of Kennedy's argument. It sure isn't working in this case and as anyone who's read any of the MSM coverage of the finding is now aware, the decision is not only insulting to women, it has--as none other that Ruth Bader Ginsberg put it--no basis to stand.

Despite how outrageous the ruling is, I have to tell you that I know only one, ONE, person who got out and joined a protest over the issue. Including myself--but I hope to change that soon. I'm going to the NARAL site to join up, because this is the beginning of the end my friends. Once you give a fetus rights over a woman by law, there's no going back. Unless, of course, we all get out there and fight for our rights. Remember: the fact that this case got to the Supreme Court was due to some pretty hard work by the Right to reframe the debate on their own terms--and they won, this round. Now it's time for us to take the discussion back. MOVE!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Justices Deliver Blow to Defenders of Choice

Today, the highest court in the land handed down its decision on the issue of partial birth abortion--and for those of us who would defend a woman's right to chose to the gallows, it's not good news.

According to Yahoo! News, in a 5-4 ruling, the court found that "the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion." This, despite the fact that there is no provision in the law that would allow doctors to perform the procedure to save a woman's life.

This is the first time the Supreme Court has banned a specific abortion procedure, and the right to lifers are over the moon at what they quite rightly see as a firm step in the direction of obliterating abortion rights completely.

Justices Ginsberg, Stevens, Souter and Breyer were in the minority; Thomas, Scalia and Kennedy, along with Bush appointees John Roberts and Samuel Alito formed the majority.

The Yahoo! News article offers a description of what partial birth abortion looks like that will make any feeling person's skin crawl--but that's not what this is about. The point is that the Supreme Court has just found, beyond a doubt, that the life of a fetus is worth more than the life (and liberty) of a woman-- and once that ideology becomes law, as it did today, then it is only a matter of time before abortion is out the window entirely. This is big, big stuff, y'all. It is the turning of the tide--mark my words. And we have everyone who voted for George Bush to thank for it.

TO DO: Stay Juicy!

This info comes via the GirlieGirl Events newsletter:

On Saturday April 21st, from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm, Jivamukti Yoga School will offer a special workshop just for women! Titled “Stay Juicy” and led by Nadiya Nottingham, RYT, this workshop explores yoga and qigong (the art of managing one's breathing in order to achieve and maintain good health) as it relates to women’s sexual health.

Participants will how to bring real power to your pelvis and lower abdomen, while learning a unique fusion of the timeless teachings of yoga & qigong. Class begins with how to chant using the voice from the second chakra, engaging the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles.

We will also learn how to apply this new found awareness in asana. This includes:
*Sitting poses, standing and balance postures
*How to employ this work in every day life
*Raising your Jing life force: Qigongs Secrets to long, healthy life.

Students are encouraged to be brave in sharing ways to overcome old patterns and views around their sexuality. Sharing will be in small groups or in twos.

Tuition for “Stay Juicy” is $35 in advance or $45 the day of the event. To register, please contact Jivamukti Yoga School at 212-353-0214 or via their website at

I'm pretty sure I don't have a clue where my second chakra is, but I do like the idea of tapping into my Jing life force. I always did have a thing for Han Solo.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Because Everyone Deserves Health Care

Especially the littlest among us. Just got this notice in the email box about one way we can begin to make a difference in the fight for universal health care:
"Cover the Uninsured Week 2007 is next week (April 23-29) and communities across the country are getting involved to help get America's kids covered!

This year, with reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) pending, Cover the Uninsured Week will focus on covering kids as an important first step toward covering all Americans.

By getting involved in Cover the Uninsured Week, you can help spread the word that all children deserve access to affordable health care coverage. Learn about what individuals are doing in your community to help uninsured kids get covered by visiting"

Almost certainly worth the effort.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Weekend Round-up

Since I used my earlier post to wax teary-eyed about my wonderfully indulgent weekend, I figure it's time right about now to let you know what's keeping the newshound in me glued to the screen.

Deadliest Shooting Rampage in American History: Today, at Virginia Tech, 31 people were killed by a lone gunman; another 22 were injured, at last count. According to the NY Times, today's shooting comes just a few days shy of the eighth anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine, which left 12 students dead.

Kidneys for Sale: Should people be allowed to sell their own organs? William Saletan asks the question and here's my answer: Hell, no. I understand that there are people out there who are dying for need of an organ, but, like Saletan, I believe that issue it best addressed by encouraging more folks to become organ donors at the time of their death, not by putting people who are already vulnerable (read: poor) under increasing pressure to make a buck by selling off their inner goods. Enough already.

Another Sanchez Backs Away From Hispanic Caucus: Just a few months after her sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, resigned from the National Hispanic Caucus after accusing the chair of calling her a "whore", Rep. Linda Sanchez has now also cut her ties with the group. Though she says her resignation has nothing to do with the "whore" issue--and is instead about "structural issues"--I hope that's not entirely true. Anybody (or association) that called my sister names wouldn't be getting my support either.

Just When You Think Your Birthday's Over...

... Something else comes along to surprise you--at least if you're as lucky as I am and have a partner who is just amazing. So this past Friday night, Jess cues me up to have dinner out, ostensibly with her brother and sister-in-law. I amble along happily, and find myself sitting at the bar at Schiller's, sipping a Pimm's Cup and waiting for the in-laws to appear. Round about 8:05, Jess grabs me and says "Eric and Duff couldn't make it, so I had to bring in a stand-in couple." She says this with a look on her face that makes me think that there's no way in hell I'm going to be happy to see who this stand-in couple might be, so I start hissing in her ear about how I'm going to kill her and wondering why in the world she'd keep this kind of secret from me...

...and then I turn around to see none other than my friends Cameron and Jenn standing behind me with open arms. It was amazing! And surprising! And truly wonderful to get to sit down with them for a meal to catch up, and to know that Jessica had totally, completely gone out of her way to give me a fabulous birthday treat. Jenn and Cameron and I have known each other since high school (which is a frighteningly long time now!), and though they live in Boston, which doesn't seem so far away, I don't get to see them nearly as much as I'd like. So getting to spend some good QT with them was heavenly. I was smiling from ear to ear.

At dinner, Jessica explained that they had tried to get our other good friends, Lis and Laura and Ford down to the city for the celebration as well, but that Laura was busy with tax season and that Lis had been stymied by both bad weather coming out of VT and an inability to find a babysitter for her son Izak. In both cases, I totally understood and didn't give it a second thought--since I hadn't been expecting anything at all I hadn't had my hopes up about seeing folks. So I went to sleep that night totally stoked to spend the next day just hanging out with Jenn and Cameron, running around the city.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, Jess and I went on our newly ritualized 2 mile walk up 1st Avenue, then came back and got ready to meet J & C for brunch. We walked over to 51st and Lex, where we were scheduled to meet up, and waited and waited... and then finally, I saw them coming towards me, walking east on 51st Street. And then one of them grabs me (I was so stunned I can't even remember who it was) and says "Sorry we're late, but it just keeps getting better." And they step apart and there behind them are Laura and Ford... and again, I was totally, 100% shocked and amazed and surprised and elated. And I hugged them all because I was so happy to see them and so moved by their caring, and hugged Jess super tight, too, because she was the one who brought it all together. I am one lucky woman.

So suffice it to say, I had a glorious weekend, surrounded by some of my favorite people in the world. (Alas, Lis really couldn't make it, for the reasons outlined above, but we tried to party on in her honor.) The six of us did brunch and Bloody Marys at Danal, then wound our way over to Soho, where Jess and I did some shopping for an upcoming baby shower, Laura and Ford tested chairs at Room & Board, and Jenn got some dope new kicks. Then we all had beers, napped, and met up again for dinner that night at Sala, where we were joined by our little buddy Katie Sherwin and Laura's friend Susan.

Good times, man. Real good times. :-)

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Expressing truth is hard work."

I feel more than a bit schizophrenic jumping back and forth between Imus and Katie Couric like this, but wanted to link to Tim Noah's article on Slate today about the firing of Couric &Co's web producer, who was found committing plagiarism. Or at least, that's what the article is about on the surface. At core, it's really about the not-so-new practice of networks hiring producers/writers to craft pseudo-personal commentaries on behalf of their anchors, and the kind of fakery that involves and, alas, the pabulum it produces.

It's funny that this issue should come up today because just yesterday, as I was searching for a link to add to that post about Katie and my old high school classmate, I came across Meredith Vieira's blog--which, I just assumed, would be the same old crap that all her compatriots "write" (or maybe "rubber stamp" is the better phrase). But, for the record, register me shocked to realize that, unless I am the most gullible media analyst on the planet, Meredith almost certainly has a hand in writing these posts. They are wacky in exactly the same way she is; they really sing with the same voice as her own. (And if it's the case that she doesn't actually write them, then every other production team should be trying to steal the person that does write them out from under NBC--because she/he is brilliant...or takes really spot-on dictation.)

Anyway, point is, Noah's article struck me because he highlights something that many of us have just taken for granted these days, which is that there really is some legitimate deceit going on on the part of these news organizations when they offer us personalized content in the name of an anchor that the anchor has little to do with. There are probably plenty of other "bigger" issues to deal with regarding our news orgs, but this certainly sends another chill down my spine... Trusting the MSM gets harder every single day.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bye, Bye Donnie I...

And now it looks like the other show--I mean shoe--has dropped: CBS has cancelled Don Imus' radio show, effective immediately. As my mother was saying yesterday, it was an inevitable move--with corporate sponsors taking a stand and pulling out left and right it was only a matter of time before the networks jumped ship as well. I'm glad this part is done with, but I do hope that folks won't take this to mean that the issues are behind us--in fact, they're just as big today as they were yesterday, and the day before that, and on and on, as my friend Rich Kim points out so beautifully in his post on The Notion (the blog at The Nation). So let's be satisfied that one lesson has been taught about what we'll accept over our airwaves, but let's not imagine that now the fight is over. In fact, just the opposite is true: now is when the hard work actually begins.

Katie Loves Her Some Bearcat

So Imus lost his job--well, the one on MSNBC anyway. It's a good start, and the best part is that it allows me to get back to the things that matter, issues of import like... the fact that this guy I went to high school with is now apparently dating Katie Couric. That's right: Couric, 50, is dating a dude who is 33--and personally, I don't give a darn about the age difference. It's just totally bizarre to hear through the grapevine, and then read in the Post, that someone you shared a dining hall with for 3 years is on the prowl with the anchor of the CBS Evening News. I suppose she's a catch--though I have rather a soft spot in my heart for Meredith Vieira when it comes right down to it.

Oddly, neither my friends nor I can remember for our lives what this guy actually looks like--leading me to believe that Katie isn't just chasing a pretty face. Go get 'em, anchor lady!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Farewell, Eddie Robinson

At Jessica's request, I'm posting this article about legendary football coach Eddie Robinson, who died last week at the age of 88. Robinson coached the Grambling football team for 57 seasons and was successful enough to send more than 200 players to the NFL over those years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune (Grambling, in case you don't know, is a historically black college based in Louisiana).

By all accounts, Robinson was more than just a coach to his players--he was a life-changing father figure who provided black men with an opportunity to better themselves when few others existed. That nearly 5,000 turned up to honor his memory at his funeral is a testament to how many lives he touched, and the impact of his work on society at large. As Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana put it earlier today,
"When [Robinson] walked on that field in 1941, it wasn't flat, it wasn't even, it was slanted up sharply. It's not level yet, but because of his life it's getting there and we all are beneficiaries of that."
Despite all this Imus nonsense, amen to that.

Why I Can't Let the Imus Thing Drop (Try as I Might)

Last night as Jess and I watched feature after television feature about Don Imus and his insanity, I reached a point where I absolutely hit the wall: I don't want to hear another THING about Don Imus, I said, and I meant it. I didn't want to hear the phrase "nappy headed hos" come flying out of his mouth one more time on constant repeat; I didn't want to hear Anderson Cooper's stats about how powerful Imus is relative to his radio peers (apparently he ranks at #14--Rush Limbaugh is #1); and I definitely didn't want to hear Joe Scarborough and Bill Maher talk about how "sad" it is to see a "mustang" like Imus cowed (are they kidding me???). I was done, done and done with this topic. So I went to bed.

And then I woke up this morning and there was Al Roker, interviewing Spike Lee and Whoopi Goldberg on the Today show. And that stopped me dead in my tracks--because when was the last time you turned on the biggest morning news show there is to see 3 black folks talking to each other and the rest of us about race in America? NEVER! And then I saw the front page of the print edition of the NY Times and there were the faces of the Rutgers women's basketball team--and the same thing on the cover of USA Today. Again, I ask you: when was the last time the major papers put a group of black faces on their cover that didn't have to do with a drug bust or a violent crime? Seriously--when? I bet you can't think of an example and I can tell you why: because it doesn't happen. Because though you may not have noticed it, black people don't get much play in the media unless they have done something wrong.

And that is why today, I am over being over Imus. I am now totally, 100% in the camp of let's keep talking about this; let's keep pushing for his dismissal. Because the longer we talk about it, the more space gets created for those of us who usually get pushed aside in the media discourse to speak up and be heard. One of the defenses that I've found the oddest in this whole debacle, which has been offered both by Imus and his defenders, is that rappers and other blacks have been calling black women "hos" for years. Ignoring for a moment that this is really no excuse at all, it's interesting to note that for just about as long as the word has been circulating in contemporary pop-culture, black leaders (Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al) have been fighting against it. The fact that nobody who's not black knows this is precisely the result of the fact that on your average day, the media has no interest in what black people have to say--about their own communities or about the world at large.

In any case, as terrible as this all is, I'm happy to finally see some real black people on TV, talking about the real and persistent issue of racism in our society. Now what we need are a few women, black, white or otherwise, to stand up and claim this as a women's issue as well. Not too many folks have pointed out that after the "nappy headed hos" comment, Imus went on to riff on the attractiveness of the Tennessee team and how he'd like to insinuate himself sexually in their midst. The point? This isn't just about race, it's about sex and gender, too. And every self-respecting woman in America ought to be crying from the rooftops in defense of these girls. Kim Gandy from NOW fired the opening salvo, and
Rosie O'Donnell seconded the call yesterday. Today, Selena Roberts' article in the Times sports section offers up another set of arrows for our quiver. Let's see who else steps up to the plate.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

All Imus, All the Time

Can't help but provide more links to the coverage of the Don Imus story, which is reaching fever pitch--as well it should. Kim Gandy, President of NOW, has spoken out about the controversy, which has now earned Imus a two-week suspension from his job at CBS radio and MSNBC (which airs the simulcast of his show on television). On the WIMN's voices blog, Jill Nelson reports on her own response to the event, while AlterNet's Don Hazen gives a good overview of what happened and why Imus is allowed to get away with it. And at the NYT, Gwen Ifill is brought back to give her first person account of being called a "cleaning lady" by Imus years ago. Even Al Roker is now calling for Imus' head, a source tells me.

Despite this hew and cry, however, I've noted that over at MediaBistro they've got a poll going on whether Imus should be fired that seems to indicate that folks are pretty evenly split on the issue. Apparently, the anonymity of the Internet allows people to say privately what they don't want to say in public (or at least they don't want to say it to me, a "nappy headed ho" herself): that even though Imus said a bad thing, they don't think he should lose his job for it. Do I take this to be yet another indication that people really are more racist than they admit? That what we've gotten good at is not actually accepting and understanding each other, but simply paying lip service to political correctness? It's probably the case, but damn is it depressing to be reminded of it.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Weekend Round-up

This having been a birthday weekend for me (32!), the days between my last post and today have been filled with fun, frivolity, friends and family--all in all a pretty perfect weekend. Friday night was spent celebrating someone else: Jessica's friend Lynne threw a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend Rob, and the party was great--partly because the catering was divine (tiny little passed hors d'oeuvres ranging from beef carpaccio on itty bitty buns to minuscule lobster rolls to bite size burgers accompanied by a small cone of perfectly crisped french fries), and partly because it was nice to see someone completely surprised by the gathering of people who had come to celebrate him. Oh, and those bite sized ice cream sandwiches were pretty legit, too.

Then on Saturday, Jess and I spent much of the day lazing around: doing brunch, shopping at H&M for a birthday outfit for me, hitting Whole Foods to pick up more dog food for Jack (preservative free!), napping, and then finally preparing for my b-day dinner with friends. We chose Le Pere Pinard as the place to hold the dinner; I've been going there for years and always have a great time--though I noted that my old friend, the maitre d', Fifi, was no longer in the house. Still, it was a good pick, because even though the chefs that night went a little heavy on the salt for my taste, they have a great big looong table in the back room that fit the 13 of us nicely. Plus, magnums of good red table wine, which we polished off quite nicely before heading for drinks at The Magician, around the corner. Another highly recommended place in my book, because there's nothing better than walking into a bar at 10:30 on a Sat night, with 13 people and more on the way, and being able to find a place for all of us to sit. Definitely worth checking out.

Yesterday, the actual birthday, was spent with the family. We did Easter mass at St. Barts--though Jess and I were so late that we ended up having to stand through the whole service--and then followed that up with a jazz brunch at Le Bateau Ivre. I got wonderful gifts including multiple giftcards to Barnes & Noble--which is pretty much the best thing ever for me--and, from Jessica, a miraculously supple Marc Jacobs bag that I haven't stopped thinking about since I took it out of its box. So suffice it to say, I had a phenomenal birthday, and feel so lucky to be surrounded by so much love.

But enough about me--here's what happening in the rest of the world:

Answering Imus: I haven't addressed this before now not because I didn't think the issue was important, but because I hadn't yet come across an article that delved deeply enough into the forces that allow Don Imus to rant in his racist and bigoted way to make it worthwhile. Now I have, courtesy of the Women's Media Center. If ever there was a case to be made for why it is important to have women on the deciding lines of media, this one is IT. Imus is scheduled to appear on Al Sharpton's show to apologize any minute, but this "nappy-headed ho" is tired of apologies. Maybe Imus and Ann Coulter can team up for a Tour of Hate--and least then they'd be conducting their business out from under the cover of "journalism."

Saving--or Stigmatizing--Black Boys: In Ossining, NY, the school district has started a program that pairs black boys with black teachers who act as their mentors after, and in, school, to try to address the issue of why young black men under-perform their peers academically, and find themselves in more hot water than their peers do when it comes to behavior issues. On the one hand, how excellent that someone has decided to step in and address what is a very real problem. On the other hand, how can we not worry that by doing this, you're isolating and stigmatizing children on the basis of their gender and skin color? Would I, would you, want our sons so be tracked into this program? Or would we just be happy they were getting special attention? And meanwhile, what about the black girls--who may not perform quite as badly as the boys, but are still struggling compared to their white peers? Seems to me that this is a program that just about every child could use in some way or another...

A Baby Story: I've been reading this series on fatherhood by the wonderful Michael Lewis (author of a book that recently hit my "must read" list, The Blind Side) for a while now, but only by way of the latest edition, which discusses his infant son's battle with RSV, did I realize that he's married to Tabitha Soren, formerly of MTV fame. In any case, the series is well worth keeping up with, partly because their kids are cute as hell (and each article is accompanied by a few photos) and partly because Lewis' honesty about the highs and lows of parenthood, from a male perspective, is truly without peer.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Unkindest Cut--For a Good Cause?

Cicumcision is not something I spend a whole lot of time thinking about, except as it presents itself in my mind as a question (as in: if I had a son would I have him circumcised?), but today's news brings the issue right to the front of my mind. A recent study in Africa has shown that circumcision seems to cut the rate of HIV infection in men having heterosexual sex by as much as 60 percent. That's a pretty startling statistic, and now NYC--referred to some as still being the "epicenter" of the disease--is taking steps to but this new info to use.

As the NY Times reports today, NYC's Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene is "planning a campaign to encourage men at high risk of AIDS to get circumcised", potentially by offering them free circumcision at hospitals around the city. There are some predictable concerns from some corners that promoting circumcision in this way will be stymie safe-sex initiatives (because men and women alike may come to think that if a man is circumcised then they are protected from HIV), but if the data is indeed correct, the campaign has a chance to save lives.

Other questions still on the table: does the impact of circumcision carry over to men having sex with other men? And what, if any, impact is there on women's HIV infection rates? Salon's Broadsheet reports that a somewhat dubious study has been released showing that women's HIV rates actually increase when their partners are circumcised--but the evidence doesn't quite seem to be there yet to back this one up (not least of all because there could be a whole host of non-biological reasons--see above--for this kind of uptick in infection rates among women).

I don't know what's "right" here but I will say that this news has definitely shifted my thinking about this question of whether I would ever circumcise my own son. Previously, I'd been of the mind that, minus a religious attachment to the practice, circumcision is pretty much a vanity play on the part of fathers who want their sons to "look like" them. Add up the facts that, in our family, there will be no other penis to compare to and that there is real pain involved for the male infant, and I was fairly sure that this was not something I would make a part of our ritual of birth.

And yet, now I find myself feeling somewhat differently about the situation. Part of what really stopped me in my tracks here was being reminded, if I ever really knew the exact number, of just how prevalent HIV is among black males in New York City. The Times reports that 20% of black men
in NYC who are between the ages of 40 and 50 are HIV+. That's one in five. And that's terrifying--particularly as someone who will, if she has a son, be producing another male member of black community.

When one in five folks who more or less look like you are infected with an essentially deadly--and highly preventable--disease, I think one's feelings about waiting around to see if the data are exactly right begin to fade. I'm sure I'd feel differently, more cautious, if circumcision was a new and untested practice, whose effect was as yet unknown. But stats like the ones we're seeing here are enough to make your head spin. Luckily, none of this is a decision, in my life, that bears any real weight at the moment, but it should be interesting to see how adult men, when faced with these numbers and the choice, respond--and how that response will differ in communities of color, poor communities, etc.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

TO READ: "When Rap Music Had a Conscience"

Years ago when I was an editorial assistant at Random House, I worked with an editor who had a young daughter who wanted to be a writer. As I recall, this young lady's first interest was in speculative fiction (to oversimplify it: science fiction/fantasy), but as it turns out, these years down the road, she's making her way via non-fiction. Her new book, "When Rap Music Had a Conscience" is out now, and it tackles a set of issues that lies close to the hearts of many of us no-longer-so-young hip-hop heads. The author, Tayannah Lee McQuillar, is interviewed by Salon today; pick up her book when you can and show a sister some support!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Once again, the Ladies in Orange have proven victorious! It may have taken Pat Summit 9 years to reclaim her crown, but reclaim it she did last night, as the University of Tennessee Lady Vols beat Rutgers to become the NCAA Women's Basketball Champions of 2007. I can't say this game was exactly as fun to watch as the one on Sunday night when they came from behind to trounce UNC and their little Ivory Latta, but I definitely enjoyed myself overall. GO VOLS!

The only purely ridiculous moments of this particular sporting event came with the repetition of questions about Candace Parker's "future" at Tennessee--i.e., would she, a mere sophomore (though academically a junior), plan on dumping her college team for the professional league, like so many male basketball players do. I have to say, this line of questioning seemed about as rationale to me as... well, I can't even thing of an analogy because it makes simply NO SENSE at all.

Let's look at the facts: upon entering the WNBA Candace Parker stands to make a whopping $43,000 in salary--assuming she is one of the first 3 players picked. Ahhh, the commentators argue, but she could make closer to a million dollars if she goes to play in Russia or North Korea! Oh, ok... WHAT?! Give me a break. No 20 year old woman with any kind of wits about her is going to make a rational choice to leave her education behind a little early for the prospect of having to live thousands of miles away from her family and friends for just a little (and it is, in the circles Parker is hanging in, just a little) money. Parker's brother is in the NBA; her boyfriend is in the NBA. She's not her family's meal ticket at the moment. So the idea that we were supposed to even entertain, for a moment, the idea that this little lady was planning on leaving Knoxville (where winning 1 championship makes you decent; to be spectacular you have to win 3-- in a row), was just laughable.

The great thing for Candace Parker is that, barring injury, whenever she does come out and go pro, she'll still be the greatest women's basketball player the US (and maybe the world) has to offer. And if there is any justice, she'll be able to make some serious money on endorsements and the like here at home. She may still end up playing in Korea and Russia just like the rest of the female super-stars, but just like the rest of them, she'll have her diploma in her hand when she does.

To that very point, the NYT published this article today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

What a Day!

Or maybe two, is more apt. Craziness over here at the workplace, but even in the midst of the chaos good things happen: yesterday, went with my boss to a panel sponsored by Demos, where the focus was on policies that affect LGBT families. In particular, really interesting research presented on how anti-gay policies disproportionately affect LGBT communities of color; all available in Sean Cahill and Sarah Tobias' new book on the topic, available from Amazon. (The packaging is a bit academic, but don't let that scare you.)

And then, today, had lunch with a friend of a friend who happens to work in the same building as I do but whom I have never, until today, seen in this actual building. We went around the corner to this underground Japanese place that has a great lunch special ($9 for miso soup, shumai, and two rolls) and just chatted about the ins and outs of being 30+ year old lesbians, in relationships, and preparing to walk down the path of conception. She and her partner are farther down that path than Jess and I are, for sure, but I found it so reassuring to talk to someone very much in the process of figuring out "how it all works", more or less at the same time as we are. Plus, she bought me Starbucks afterwards... truly the way to my heart.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Weekend Round-up

Here's a tip for anyone in the NYC vicinity or coming to town soon: go see Grey Gardens. It's a musical, on Broadway, starring the divine, surreally talented Christine Ebersole, and worth every single penny you'll spend on the ticket. I've had it in mind to see this one for a while now, but you know how it goes: there's never any time. And yet this weekend, abandoned by my partner in favor of a trip to see the men's Final Four in Atlanta, I found myself with what definitely amounted to a little extra time, and a burning desire to get myself some cul-cha already. So I took myself out there to the TKTS booth in Times Square (which, in case you're planning on going, is under construction; the new site is on 46th and Broadway, in the Marriot), hoping to get a ticket to GG but assuming it would be totally sold out. It wasn't, not even remotely, and for $60 cash, I got a perfectly decent seat at a perfectly phenomenal play. God, I love New York.

Meanwhile, in the news...

Tennessee Women Rule!!: Ok, so we're one game away from total and ultimate domination, but damn, that Candace Parker is good! I was jumping up and down and screaming so loudly last night while watching this game that Jackson actually started barking along side me. We raced around the house howling in ecstasy when North Carolina finally collapsed. Tomorrow, I will be dressed in my Tennessee orange for good luck, and if I can find a way to do it I'll take a picture and post it to let you see. Go Lady Vols!!

Little Miss Perfect: Yesterday's cover story from the New York Times on the struggles of young women to excel in all facets of their lives. Is it worse than it was when we were in school? Probably, so--though I think that many of us felt a very similar kind of pressure. What's nice is to see institutions like the Times treating the issues with some seriousness--although I do wish they'd spent a little more time pulling apart this so-called dialectic between hotness and smartness...

A Less Than Magical Evening?: Galleycat reports that the reviews are starting to come in on the translation of
Joan Didion's memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, into a play--now on Broadway and starring Vanessa Redgrave--and the critics do not seem much pleased. I've heard otherwise from regular theater-goers who've been lucky enough to score a ticket (the run is said to be sold out through June 30th); and I also happen to be one of those folks who feels that the opportunity to see Vanessa Redgrave on stage should not be missed, at any price. So despite the what those paid to appraise these things say, I will still probably go if I can. I'm a sucker for royalty and this is one that provides proximity to two kinds: theatrical and literary. Can't beat that with a stick, matter how (overly) "earnest" the play may be.