Sunday, September 30, 2007

things that i like.

1. late september weekends with clear skies and mid to high 70s temps.

2. wine.

3. open windows and ceiling fans.

4. scrabble. when played at a leisurely pace and with decent amounts of wine.

5. half-toothless CatCat.

6. clean laundry.

7. the new bionic woman show. (dude - it is good. watch it).

8. wine.

9. weekends with no itineraries whatsoever.

10. wine.

Friday, September 28, 2007

yet to be named.

they found her yesterday.

nailah franklin.
28 years old.
naked and partially buried.
badly decomposed.

a week before she disappeared, nailah filed a police report that a man she had briefly dated had recently called and threatened her life multiple times. another woman filed two police orders of protection against the same man within a week - the second on the day before nailah went missing.

he has yet to be named a suspect.

we know this story. we know the end before we even hear the beginning. but still, she looked at me - looked right at me through the screen, half-smiling, as if i was about to impart some small, interesting kernel of the why of it - and i didn't know what to say.

i didn't know what to say to her.


hey, so i switched over to the customizable version of blogger (baby steps, people, baby steps) and for some reason, i cannot figure out how to make my post titles not be links. i was futzing around with post spacing, and then noticed that my post titles were underlined. wtf? then i realized they were hyperlinked. double wtf?

anyway. who knows how it ended up that way, but if anyone knows how to go into the html section (xml? i can't keep track) and fix it, lemme know. or else i'll have to bug BoyCat about it when he gets home (that wealth of online communications knowledge) tomorrow, and i'm sure that the first thing he hears when he walks in the door to be "honey, how do you de-link a post title in blogger??"

spare BoyCat such inanity. help me out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Ugly Betty is on in 24 minutes!!

that is all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

at the risk of creating a little blog echo chamber...

if you're not coming here from ann's post at feministing about the ongoing problem of untested rape kits, well, go check it out.

i read the story in today's chicago tribune, and it made me feel a little sick. harvey, illinois - a town just outside chicago that's 80% african-american and has a median household income of only about $30,000 - undeniably has its fair share of trouble and strife. then you add this kind of indignity, of mistreatment and disregard? as ann points out, the problem of untested rape kits is often a broader issue of the lack of funds and resources, but even that speaks to a baseline of neglect. you know - police work has its priorities, ladies, and you're not very high on the list.

throw another tragedy on the pile.

things that are effed up about DC, part 347 in an ongoing series.

i'm going to try to keep this brief. because you know how i get about 1) libraries and 2) things that are fucked up.

yesterday, i had to return some books to the library. i didn't have anything that i wanted to pick up at the main MLK library downtown (or, more precisely, anything that i could pick up, since the book that was allegedly "available" and that i put on hold a month ago is still nowhere to be found), so i called to see if i could return them to the capitol hill branch not far from my apartment. i could. great.

i swing by after work and go in. the library is in an older building, brick, actually nice and library-ish-looking (unlike MLK, which though designed by van der rohe still manages to seem like a garish monstrosity-type thing). but it's small. very small. like no more than twenty small stacks and two long walls of books. apparently, it has also recently gotten a makeover. fancy new carpet, lots of new computers, these crazy stacks with giant glass pictures of flowers on the ends. flowers? yes. ok.

so i walk back through the stacks to find a book the catalog told me was available at this branch (you know i couldn't walk into a library and not take something home with me!). the book is not where it should be. i am completely and utterly unsurprised. i head back to the desk and say hey, i'm looking for this book. the librarian starts to take me back to the stacks, and i say "yeah, i already took a look where it's supposed to be, but it's not there." she says, "oh, well then it probably got taken out when they did the remodel. they haven't updated the database."


i try to process for a second. "what exactly do you mean by 'taken out when they did the remodel'?" she says, "oh, well when they re-did this library they took out all the books that were old, raggedy, torn - a lot of 'em. you probably noticed that the shelves are only half full and all the books we've got are newer copies. however, for some reason, they neglected to update CityCat [the online catalog for the DC system] after they did that."

so. to summarize: the district of columbia spent what was certainly some ungodly amount of money to renovate this tiny neighborhood library, and then they took out half the books. they took books. out of a library. (presumably to distribute them to other, less pretty city library branches, but still.)

and then - then! - they neglected to tell the people who use the library about it. so the moral of the story is, on top of the total ineffectiveness of the Hold function and the fact that MLK is literally falling apart, you can now be assured that the information you find on CityCat only has a mild to moderate chance of being accurate.

DC: so much to love.

Monday, September 24, 2007

january 20th, 2009. january 20th, 2009. january 20th, 2009.

did you all hear about this last week?

"mandela's dead"??

this is what continues to come out of our president's mouth, almost seven years into serving as the president of the united states? does the man have absolutely no capacity for retaining information or learning from, um, anything?

those last two are rhetorical. in case you had any doubt.

and also - thank god for the daily show reruns on comedy central. cataloging bush's national embarrassments, so we don't have to.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

so much art, so little time.

there is so much art awesomeness going on in DC this fall, i can hardly handle it. if you live in the area, be sure to make time to check it out:

National Museum of Women in the Arts Film Festival

this coming weekend! multi-media parties, animated films, women at work, ancestral voices, gender benders, zombies - omfg feminist zombies! how can you say no?

WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution

also at the NMWA, this runs through mid-december and is the biggest exhibit in the museum's history! judy chicago, yoko ono, cindy sherman, what! i'm hoping they have at least one barbara kruger, but honestly it might be better if they don't, that way i won't be arrested for trying to steal it.

Edward Hopper at the National Gallery

running through mid-january, this exhibit come straight from the MFA in boston (where i hope all you hometown peeps went to see it, because um, it's hopper). i have been waiting for months for this to get here. while i have had the chance to see Nighthawks in its permanent home at the Art Institute, i am psyched to see so many other of his pieces - Automat, New York Movie, and his fantastic Cape Cod and New England scenes.

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990—2005

who doesn't love Annie Leibovitz? (ok, well some people don't, but fuck them.) a pioneer as a woman rock photographer for Rolling Stone, she has taken some truly amazing photos over the course of her career. for instance, you might recognize this one. this exhibit runs from mid-october to mid-january. and while her stuff has gotten much more commercial (and, not surprisingly, much more full of spectacle and artifice)in recent years, i think she's such a good artist that she still gives you something to think about, even in her Vanity Fair covers and celeb-worshiping commissions. but hell, she spent over a decade with susan sontag, what do you expect?

all in all, an amazing fall for cool art in DC.

Friday, September 21, 2007

friday cat blogging, the "yah suspect." edition.

poor CatCat. she has reason to be wary. her extrasensory feline perception tells her that something is afoot, but i can't imagine that she knows exactly what it is. because if she knew that a week from today she'd be at the dentist getting half of her teeth pulled out, well, i imagine she'd be hiding under the bed.

that's right! CatCat's chronic dental ailment - stomatitis, or in simpler terms, really really really bad kitty gingivitis - is cause for her teeths to come outs. since her gums are reacting against plaque on her teeth, and her quarterly steroid shots and antibiotic regimen are only doing mild to moderate good in keeping her comfortable, we figured it was time to bite the bullet (ha!) and get 'er done. so she goes under the knife in a week, and about eight hours and one giant hit to my wallet later, we're hoping she's on the road to happier kittyhood.

friday cat blogging, needless to say, will resume after a period of rest and recuperation!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

i hate nature.

well that's not really true. i usually only tend to mildly dislike it.

but right now? there's this cricket. it's in the overgrown tangle of weeds and greenery lovely landscaping just outside our bedroom window. it has been there for days.

it is a loud fucking cricket.

when you think of crickets, you probably think of soothing nighttime summer sounds, right? i know i did, before this cricket set up shop about thirty feet from where i sleep. when you hear crickets off in the distance, across a field, through the car window, they sound melodious, even felicitous - the perfect accompaniment to a warm weather evening. when you hear a cricket CHIRPCHIRPCHIRP CHIRPing, at an unceasingly and unnaturally loud decibel, right outside your window without interruption every night for the past week...

you're liable to wonder if you've done something to piss the cosmos off. because your admittedly fragile mental state is about to be brought down like a house of popsicle sticks by an insect.

(can i just tell you? as i wrote that last sentence? the chirping stopped. for like ten whole seconds. and just as my fingers stopped typing, my eyes widening in wonder - it started again.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

you know, "racists."

i've been wanting to put up a post about stereotyping and society for awhile. i want to put up that post right now, in spite of the fact that i feel unable to string three coherent sentences together. so what this lacks in cohesive persuasion, i hope it makes up for in awesome and informational linkage.

so. i think there are three main points i want to make here. they are simply this:

1) we are all racists and misogynists and homophobes.
2) we cannot exactly help it.
3) this does not have to constitute the end of the world as we know it.

(i should qualify point number three - it could constitute such a thing, if we don't wise up about it already.)

now, admittedly, people tend to - to put it mildly - fucking lose it when accused of one of the big three prejudices above. i assume that this is because, in this day and age, to be called a "racist" conjures up images of the ku klux klan and those guys you see in grainy 1950s film reel with pomade hair and cigarettes rolled into the sleeve of their undershirts. you know, "racists." racist means unabashedly, unapologetically against considering black people as equal. and while it's interesting that i can't come up with an equivalent cultural image for "misogynist" or "homophobe" (anti-abortion protesters? ted haggard? i'm stumped), the same extreme brush applies. racists and misogynists are those awful people, over there, doing and saying all those horrible things. certainly not us.

but really, if it's just those fringe wackjobs and hysterical protesters "over there," being and doing racist, misogynist, homophobic things, how exactly do these bigotries survive? how is this shit perpetuated so steadily, so ceaselessly, for generations and generations? because - obvious answer alert - it's bigger than that. it's a system. it's in everything, it's everywhere. and that means none of us are above it.

one of the best encapsulations of the enemy that feminism faces i've ever heard is this: "patriarchy is a culture, not a conspiracy." these prejudices are a culture that we are steeped in, that our parents were steeped in, their parents were steeped in, etc etc and so on. no one gets a pass; no one somehow arrives at adulthood magically untouched, untainted. all of us, based on the societal soup in which we've been cooking since day one, have both the capacity and inclination for racist, misogynist, and homophobic thought and behavior.

i think that just stating such a thing, of accepting and owning one's complicity (willing or not!) in the system is a critical starting point. the revolution starts at home, right? awareness is the first step.

i hope i've kept you reading til now, because if you haven't read about Project Implicit, i highly recommend checking it out. malcolm gladwell's Blink highlights this Harvard study about unconscious prejudice; much journalistic ink has been spilled about it as well:

Gladwell has some fascinating insights into this dark side [of rapid cognition], and his section on the implicit association test -- a psychological tool that determines your unconscious, "automatic" preferences for certain kinds of people by measuring how long it takes you to assign words and faces to categories -- is the best part of the book. You can take the IAT here, but be careful. The unconscious is a mysterious thing, and don't be surprised if your test shows you to have an automatic preference for white people over black people, or for thin people over fat people, or for young people over old people. I grew up in apartheid South Africa and consider myself, as most people do, exceedingly egalitarian in how I treat people, but, I'm ashamed to say, my test showed an automatic preference for whites over blacks. Gladwell, who is half-black, found a similar preference when he took the test. Indeed, he notes, of the 50,000 African-Americans who've taken the race IAT, half show an automatic preference for whites.

subsequent use of the IAT through Project Implicit has illustrated the way these unconscious prejudices noiselessly and unobtrusively influence areas like health care, politics, andhuman resources. from the Post article:

In perhaps the most dramatic real-world correlate of the bias tests, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago recently sent out 5,000 résumés to 1,250 employers who had help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston. The résumés were culled from Internet Web sites and mailed out with one crucial change: Some applicants were given stereotypically white-sounding names such as Greg; others were given black-sounding names such as Tyrone.

Interviews beforehand with human resources managers at many companies in Boston and Chicago had led the economists to believe that black applicants would be more likely to get interview calls: Employers said they were hungry for qualified minorities and were aggressively seeking diversity. Every employer got four résumés: an average white applicant, an average black applicant, a highly skilled white applicant and a highly skilled black applicant...

To the economists' surprise, the résumés with white-sounding names triggered 50 percent more callbacks than résumés with black-sounding names. Furthermore, the researchers found that the high-quality black résumés drew no more calls than the average black résumés. Highly skilled candidates with white names got more calls than average white candidates, but lower-skilled candidates with white names got many more callbacks than even highly skilled black applicants.

now, i'm sure these human resources managers are just like people we all know - decent, hard working, well meaning. they aren't white supremacists or guys who drive around with the stars and bars on their pickups. but they, like all of us, unconsciously and unfortunately perpetuate systems of unfair oppression every day. the sooner we realize this to be true, and noteworthy, and important to acknowledge, the sooner we could actually, maybe make a little progress.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

jim crow, circa 2007.


heard about the Jena 6?

if not, read and learn. then please think about donating. their parents have had to sell their homes and risk their entire livelihoods to fight blatantly racially motivated injustice - a nakedly hateful and reactionary abuse of the system.

"I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

hmmmmm. they are kind of saying the same thing, no?

Citizens in this nation fear challenging patriarchy even as they lack overt awareness that they are fearful, so deeply embedded in our collective unconscious are the rules of patriarchy...if we were to go door-­to-door asking if we should end male violence against women, most people would give their unequivocal sup­port. Then if you told them we can only stop male violence against women by ending male domination, by eradicating patriarchy, they would begin to hesitate, to change their position. Despite the many gains of contemporary femi­nist movement - greater equality for women in the work­force, more tolerance for the relinquishing of rigid gender roles - patriarchy as a system remains intact, and many people continue to believe that it is needed if humans are to survive as a species.
-bell hooks

Possession isn't nine-tenths of the law. It's nine-tenths of the problem.
-john lennon

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

your wednesday one-liner.

according to everything i read on Overheard in New York, they are really not paying these guys enough.*

Police dispatch: Mister Nipple is at it again, Midtown.


*well, that's not exactly true. they pay them pretty darn well. of the list of new york municipal employees who are underpaid, i don't think cops are too high up there. not that they don't do a great public service when they subdue mister nipple, of course...

Monday, September 10, 2007

sailing to byzantium.

stepping outside at 6:30 a.m., the humidity hits me like something material - like a wet sheet on a line. i am surprised by it, and grimace as i make my way down the front steps and onto the street. the sun not even above the horizon, and the city already blanketed in what feels like the beginning of suffocation.

i walk towards independence avenue. labor day come and gone, and the stench of a decaying summer on every corner. all is overripe, groaning under the weight of three months' flowering and fecundity. the pungency of the front yards' vegetation - overreaching in its verdant bloom even by june - now borders on noxious, and i dodge the drooping branches, scattered and hung low, along the sidewalk. my feet move over their discarded bounty - berries burst at the seams, purple stains leaking into the concrete creases.

i reach the edge of the national mall, and pass the security guards, already glistening faintly in their thick cotton uniforms and heavy boots, as they scan the underside of an idling van with mirrors. the dog from the K-9 unit, ensconced in the air conditioning of his squad car, eyes me as i slide past. from somewhere, the smell of old, cooked breakfast hangs in the air - solidifying bacon fat, congealing grease.

the cicadas are singing.

by the time i reach 14th street and turn around, nearly two miles in, my hair is soaked through. i push ahead, back the way i came, trying to propel myself forward through the stagnant air, trying forget that in truth i am only going in circles. the capitol building looms into view, the rising sun a dull, brutal orange as it crests the side of the dome. like a postcard, but seen through a foggy window - the city, the seat of the nation, through the dirty glass of old oven door.

i am slick with september sweat, and everywhere, the bloom is off the rose.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

running update.

so, one month down and one month to go until my 5K run at the annual AIDS Walk here in DC. i like to think that i'm doing pretty well, because a) i've actually been getting my lazy ass out of bed in the morning at least two to three times a week to run, and b) because i can now actually run the 3.1 miles straight through without deciding, at some point, that "this seems like a good time to walk a little." now i'm going to spend the next few weeks really trying to push myself to improve my time - at this point, i'm really only able to keep up with the septuagenarians shuffling along the mall. (sadly, i'm only somewhat exaggerating here - it's definitely not just the army recruits and serious runners out there who are overtaking me. many an old man with pulled-up knee socks has breezed past during my morning outings.)

what i need - MomCat, as a pretty regular runner herself, has told me this repeatedly - is a cheap digital watch in order to start really keeping track of my time. up until now, i've either ignored the fact completely (hey i finished! i have no idea when i started, or when i stopped, but wheeee, who cares??) or used the clock on my iPod as a half-ass calculation of how well i did. i'm going to try to improve upon these two (admittedly lacking) techniques soon.

i would tell you what my iPod says my time is, but it's too embarrassing. however, i do promise to tell you all my official finishing time from the actual run in october. deal? deal.

and don't forget: if you are so inclined, you can follow this link to visit my AIDS Walk web page and help me in my efforts to support the whitman-walker clinic. thank you so much to everyone who has already donated - it truly does help to know that everyone is behind me when that blasted alarm goes off at 6:30 am and i have to lace up my sneakers and get out there again.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

goin to the game.

gonna see dice-k pitch. leaving right now. yessssss.

go sox.

Friday, September 07, 2007

friday cat blogging, turning japanese edition.

is that song racist? i don't really know any other lyrics than "i think i'm turning japanese," but on that alone i'd probably have to lean towards yes. however, i cannot deny the slightly asian appearance that CatCat's eyes take on in this picture, and so i'm going to risk using offensive one-hit wonders to convey it. but of course i don't intend it offensively. because she's a cat! she can't be asian! (well, um, unless she was a siamese cat, i guess? or from india, like my friend's cat, who as such is technically an asian cat. hmmmm. my arguments, they disintegrate.) anyway, whatever, she's cute in that "i might be an international assassin" way, ain't she?

confidential to SisterCat (and chi chi, if she reads this!): at least i'm not a random dude from indiana calling her "china face" right?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

forget amusement. this is dangerously close to "breaking the good china" territory.

via tart (in turn via shakes) comes today's stress headache inducer of the day.

on the right is america ferrera (better known these days as "ugly betty") at an awards show last month; on the left is her glamour magazine cover this month:

excuse me while i choke on the irony. on all this irony.

and you know, it isn't just about the drumbeat of "Get Thin! Be Thin!! Stay Thin!!!" that we, as women, hear as the background noise of every goddamn waking moment of our lives. this is an affront: a slap in the face, a twist of the arm. because god forbid we drink too much of that self-acceptance kool-aid, right? the crazy-ass idea that we might be okay as we are is evidently far too threatening. so the media has to hit back - has to say to us:

hey ladies, please remember - no matter how many awards you win or lives you change or good work you do, you still need to be copiously "corrected" via photoshop before we can allow people to look at you. you still need fixing. you will always need fixing. you are never good enough.

glamour magazine thinks it's ok to brazenly erase a good portion of a woman. glamour magazine thinks that the ridiculously obvious nature of this erasure is mediated by the idea that this is how women "should" look, anyway. that women take this kind of shit lying down, all day, every day. well, you know what i say? fuck that. i'm going to tell glamour where they could stick their airbrush. you should too. (edited to add: oh, isn't that precious! their commenting function isn't working! rest easy, i'll certainly let you know when it's up and running again...)

and remember - real women have curves:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

more amusement!

so today? at costco? wanna know what i encountered?

a giant reindeer made of christmas lights. and a giant snowman made of lights. and a christmas song, emanating from some strange apparatus nearby.

amusing. in a hands clasped over your ears, "why god why??" kind of way.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

the day's amusement.

i find it amusing that the DC city library uses the Dewey Decimal System instead of the Library of Congress System for classification.

i also find it amusing that the actual, literal Library of Congress is mere blocks away, where i can find stacks upon stacks of books classified in the system to which i'm much more partial (six years of higher education will do weird things to you, like give you a preference in regards to library catalogs) - but i, a mere mortal citizen, cannot check out books from said building.

amusing, for certain. in that intensely irritating sort of way.

Monday, September 03, 2007

labor is dead - long live labor!

so many things i wanted to write about this weekend. so many ways in which i did not write about them.

on this lovely labor day weekend, i tried to keep the actual labor to a dull roar. i was middlingly successful. there was that three-hour trip to uhaul to help a friend pick up a moving truck, and the subsequent packing of said truck, which (and poor, relocating nadia will attest to this) was laborious indeed. then there was the visiting of BoyCat family and its newest addition, an angelic three-month old baby who really did not cry. that much. (plus - dudes - i held her for a number of minutes - like four or five of them, i'd say - and managed to get her to stop crying once she decided it was time for some waterworks. baby handling success!) then we had a nice little weekend barbecue which was, other than deciding whether to have more macaroni and cheese or pasta salad, was not laborious at all.

and today? today is the day where labor goes to die. so i'm going to finish this glass of wine. then maybe have another. because really, the thinking and the persuading and the pontificating? they do not fit into my Total Lack of Labor schedule. where's that tv remote?