Since the good people of Stuy Town have not seen fit to turn on the heat yet, I found myself having added socks to my customary bedroom attire which is drawers. I generally dislike sleeping in socks unless I’m deathly ill, but having cold feet is just not a reality I care to deal with when I know I could do something about it. Besides, The Feath is Queen of the Chilly Feet and two people in bed with chilly feet is like two junkies sharing a rock: united in destruction. Or something.
Anyway, as I jumped into bed last night, I found myself puzzling over various things; the sort of puzzling one is wont to do when they are trying to get warm in bed and aren’t yet at the point where their brain has volunteered to shut itself down for the evening. Sitting there, I stumbled upon a question:
How come guys in porno don’t take their socks off? Read the rest of this entry »
A colleague, frustrated with what she sees as Michelle Obama’s inactivity on issues that matter, mentioned to me last night that she’d be impressed if she heard the First Lady speak publicly on the health care debate, particularly the public option.
I have to admit I would be impressed as well. But I would be impressed for different reasons. I would be impressed because, in the event that the First Lady spoke publicly on the public option, such a colossally ill-advised move could only inspire awe.
Michelle Obama will never speak on the public option and she shouldn’t. The move would only cripple what her husband is attempt to do no matter what side she came down on. If she favored the option, the Socialist Nazi Hitler Youth chorus would be refreshed anew. If she did not, the cries of betrayal would make even Joe Lieberman screw his face in disapproval.
While I appreciate my colleague’s remark–which was made during part of a larger discussion on Michelle Obama’s responsibilities, particularly in the Black community–I couldn’t help but feel as though relationship cornerstones had been overlooked regarding the First Lady speaking out.
In my experience, the strongest relationships were anchored in not only love, respect and fidelity, but also the presentation of a united front. Surely, there were disagreements behind closed doors and their were passionate differences of opinion, but that kind of transparency wasn’t for all company, particularly when a matter of critical importance was at stake.
Disagreement is natural–and hopefully welcome. Throwing your partner under the bus is never OK at any point. And while that seems obvious enough, plenty of people run into trouble because they don’t know which is which; they bus-chuck when they think they’re merely standing on their own two. The great partnerships get it; they understand the times when a family has to hold the line, even if one party is unsure. This isn’t about a wife’s obligation to her husband; this is about a partner’s obligation to another and it is a tie that binds both ways.
While I don’t know the Obamas personally, I imagine they’re acutely aware of their life and times. Perhaps in rousing closed-door discussions among friends, Barack and Michelle–two high intellects who don’t mind a good joust–go toe to toe, standing on their own two. But as the President and First Lady, it’s different; the doors are far too open, as are the ears.
For all we know, Michelle Obama is putting in all manner of work behind the scenes. She’s obviously intelligent and, in being one of the three people with the number to the BarackBerry, she has the president’s ear. And because she has it, she needn’t say more.
Somehow, this relates to my Lil’ Wayne post. Somehow.
Given my various smartypants associations, I’m supposed to outraged at much of Lil’ Wayne’s artistry and, to a larger extent, his existence on planet Earth. I’m supposed to feel like he’s wresting hip hop from sacred hands and unceremoniously flushing it down the toilet while inciting utterly putrid and senseless acts among young people.
While I understand such points of view, I just can’t bring myself to denounce Wayne.
Why? Because his punch lines and witticisms make me feel tough in a gloriously make-believe way. In fact, I indulge further into the fantasy because I have hometraining and generally know better.
Let’s call a spade a spade here. While Wayne has certainly seen some actual hardship in his life, he has not sold drugs in the manner that he claims or killed anybody. From what I understand, the only time he got shot was when he shot himself.
Wayne’s great for the same reason Predator is great. It sates the baser part our mammalian qualities without actually having to do the dirty work. Remember that scene in Predator after Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura gets his chest blasted out and all the dude’s run up to the clearing and just start capping off rounds? It’s destructive and terrible and regressive yet also awesome and adrenaline-raising. That’s Wayne.
Predator was fair game in my house because it was made abundantly clear that I was not to speak that way, act out that way or think that I would survive taking a laser shot point-blank to the shoulder (somehow, Arnold did while Carl Weathers got his arm blown clean off. But I digress).
The trouble is not being able to see either for what they are: gross exaggerations of reality meant merely to entertain.
While the subject matter may not seem sophisticated, it does takes a level of guidance and perspective to recognize the material for what it is. When this hyperbole is not recognized, the consequences are often tragic.
Perhaps I listen because it is decidedly not who I am anymore than I’m an elite soldier fighting an intergalactic big game hunter.
Crap, now I feel like a turncoat. Uh…Free Mumia!
The homie Ashton Lattimore–NewsOne editor, Harvard grad, thug–has a little take on the phraseology of War herself. Peep game.
Reading Jon’s rumination on the newly capitalized Afghan War, I was naturally reminded of the larger fight that got us into this in the first place: The War on Terror.
Here in the good old US of A, we can have a “war on” just about anything (except widespread lack of health insurance, apparently). There was Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Reagan era War on Drugs (also known as the War on Un-incarcerated Black People) and today, the burgeoning War on Obesity.
In each such “war,” the name evokes the image of the American people valiantly and metaphorically fighting against social ills with the most powerful metaphorical weapons in our metaphorical arsenal: government policy, TV ad campaigns, and personal responsibility. There is no particular front or battlefield—we will simply find the coke, the cookies, and the poverty wherever they exist, and stamp them out. These “wars” are entirely bloodless, with the phrasing chosen to engender warm and fuzzy pride about the nobility in standing tall against uncomplicated forms of evil.
So how did the global fight against terrorism score an invite to the “War On X” party? There is nothing bloodless or warm and fuzzy about the War on Terror. Its entire premise is that we systematically hunt down and kill people who hate our country so that they can’t hunt us down and kill us first. The weapons are not metaphorical—they are guns, bombs, and torture. And these weapons aren’t mowing down, blowing up, and psychologically breaking down “concepts” like getting high or getting chubby; they’re doing all that to actual people in specific places: Iraq, Afghanistan, and likely Pakistan any minute now.
But thanks to the power of language, the “War on Terror” sounds as nebulous and non-threatening as its social policy brethren. Since we’re so accustomed to the sound of it (“We have wars on things all the time! No big deal.”) people are much more easily lulled into uncritical complacency. War on Terror? Who could argue with that? What killjoy wants to start asking needling questions like “where are the WMDs?”, “are we attacking the correct people?”, or “what’s the strategy and end date on this little escapade?”
Instead of perpetuating the use of the name “War on Terror,” and acting as though we’re fighting against a free-floating idea, let’s call a spade a spade. The United States is currently embroiled in the Afghan War and the Iraq War. And until people start speaking with some clarity, I’m officially fighting one of my own. It’s called “The War on Phrases That Obscure What’s Actually Going On.”
This whole Larry Johnson Twitter kerfuffle is all one big misunderstanding. It’s true; dude loves ‘fag,’ but not for the reasons you might think.
Understandably, ‘fag’ can be seen as a derogatory term used for homosexuals, but if you think it starts and ends with that, you’re just showing your lack of culture. Larry? He’s been places, seen things. He knows fag can mean lots and lots of things.
Do you really think he would be foolish enough to call someone a fag in that small-minded American way you understand it? On Twitter of all places? That’s just laughable. Larry may seem a beast on the playing field, but off it, he’s a man of Arts and Letters. That being the case, he brings a measured perspective to his life off the field. Derogatory statements and actions are generally beneath him and even if they were not, he’d have the foresight not to make those thoughts or actions know to the public.
So everyone just needs to take a deep breath and maybe learn a lesson while they’re at it.
See, when Larry says “You fag!” he’s really just telling the person in question that they need to check themselves before things get out of hand. He hates to “harsh peoples’ buzz” in that manner, but sometimes, he can’t help but feel the need to defend himself against the slings and arrows of outrageous slander. But he’s still keeping it civil, even in moments of anger. It’s other people who are getting it wrong.
When Larry calls someone a fag, he’s talking about people who engage in daily, dispirited drudgery; someone who toils at menial tasks while he lives in the lap of luxury as a well-paid professional athlete.
When he calls someone a fag, he’s just letting them know they are nothing more than a blemish on a piece of fabric; an imperfect loose end to his well-tailored bespoke-ness.
Being a big-time pro athlete and all, Larry likes to keep in shape and make sure his body is in peak physical condition. And he can’t do that smoking cigarettes. Cigarettes are an insult to his temple. So when he calls someone a fag, he’s not only taking an anti-smoking stance, he’s personally telling that person “Hey, you’re bad for me! You get outta here!”
So you guys lay off Larry Johnson. And get your culture up while you’re at it.
And don’t worry about those women he mushed in night clubs last year. That was a Maori mating ritual.
Posting news of the eight US troops reported killed in Afghanistan today in the deadliest month of fighting since this war began, I had what one might call a slip of the eye.
Reading the Associated Press report, I read the following
“…making October the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the eight-year Afghan War.”
I was struck by seeing the capitalized ‘W’. As a guy who deals in words and phrases, this jumped out at me. Upon further inspection, the ‘w’ in question was not capitalized. But in my mind, the trail had been blazed.
After eight years, it’s hard to continue to think of this as “the war in Afghanistan.”
People may think of such phrasing as an afterthought, merely an arbitrary use of long-form language. But it’s not. It’s a spelled-out phrasing that softens the reality of the blood being spilled on both sides. “The war in Afghanistan” sounds heroic; adventurous in the way Lawrence of Arabia does. “The war in Afghanistan” sounds noble.
A control of Language is power and in this instance, it’s being made just long enough, just soft enough, to keep us from doing the wartime mathematics that shortening and capitalization tends to bring about.
The Afghan War.
The Afghan War? It still sounds kind of interesting because ‘Afghan’ is kind of fun to say–like Aflac, but not–but the ending–war–is so abrupt that it adds a splash of cold reality and to the whole thing. Just say ‘the Afghan War’ aloud. Sounds a lot more serious all of a sudden, right?
In reading, it’s somehow more ominous. The Afghan War. Capital ‘w’ wars are so much more historic, so much more factual and lack that triumphal feel.
(Of course the exception here is World War II, but that’s due to: using ‘world’ before war–which only helps add to the theatrical element, being a sequel, America not having to sacrifice any of its land, two atom bombs, America emerging as a superpower and the suppression of what really, really went down until long after the whole thing was well over. But I digress)
Capital ‘w’ wars have winners ans losers and consequences. Capital ‘w’ wars can define legacies. And they totally lack the righteously expeditious qualities of a war in Afghanistan.
But this isn’t a righteous expedition. It’s a War.
This is the Afghan War. It’ll be in textbooks and everything.
“It’s extremely important now especially for the president to have as many women as men in his closest circle of advisors. … If women had been at the heads of the companies on Wall Street instead of these masters of the universe then we might not be in the predicament that we’re in today.”
Terry O’Neill, NOW President
Terry O’Neill finds it troubling that President Obama only hoops with the fellas. That is entirely reasonable. There are those that fear an all-boys culture is being cultivated in the White House and that’s not a good thing. If a woman’s good enough to run ball, then she should be able to do that. I’m fairly confident I know several ladies who would catch wreck in White House pick-up ball and I can say with even more confidence that Obama can’t see my cousin’s drop step.
On a more serious level, O’Neill finds it troubling that, while women make up 52% of the voting population, they are only 7 out of 22 possible cabinet-level positions. That concern is also reasonable. There’s nothing intrinsic to being a woman that should prevent them from being able to do cabinet-level work.
I don’t have any problem with any of above. I do, however, take exception with O’Neill’s Wall Street analogy which is problematic for a few reasons.
Firstly, does she mean to assert that there is something intrinsic to being a woman that would better qualify an individual to make prudent decisions? Are these so-called “masters of the universe”–who women might have been better alternatives to–examples of what every man is or merely a personality type commonly seen in the upper reaches of Wall Street in an industry historically dominated by men (men who are predominantly white and of the Anglo-Saxon crust)?
Exactly who is O’Neill talking about?
When juxtaposing “women” against “masters of the universe,” a reader might reasonably infer that she is speaking about all men in such a way that implies men lack the ability to be reasonable. And while I’ll refrain from using something akin to a reverse discrimination argument, I do find it entirely interesting that the president of a feminist organization would craft a statement in that way. O’Neill may very well have a very particular group of people of whom she’s speaking when she says “master of the universe”, but she fails to clarify it and the analogy becomes more muddy–and seemingly of a blanket nature–when it is made in relation to those who keep the political counsel of a biracial man from Chicago by way of Hawaii.
On a more basic level, I find the Wall Street analogy troubling because it seems to overlook the nature of greed and exactly what part it had to play in this economic crisis.
Wall Street is most certainly a dick-swinging macho enterprise in complexion. But the thing that culture pursues–money and unspeakable wealth–awakens something that I can’t appoint as only belonging to men. Money is prey and those on Wall Street are its insatiable predator. In many dangerous and tragic ways, Wall Street is a place for the shrewd but not the reasonable. Like most predators, those who participate often times do not know–or care–when enough is enough.
Again; shrewd, not reasonable.
Does O’Neill mean to assert that women who had risen to the heights of a brutal and predatory culture would have known when to call it quits in the midst of prosperity and the continued pursuit of prey?
Might women have known better…because they were women?
O’Neill’s initial points are spot-on and absolutely should not be lost in this discussion. Gender equality is improving but there is still a long way to go. Casual and seemingly informal interactions among colleagues have professional ramifications and the fellas have to be mindful of such things.
But Ms. O’Neill should mind her analogies as well.