Broken Windows

So, in the words of Morris W. O’Kelley, it is “That Time in America” again.

Freddy Gray died in Baltimore on April 19th, one week after an arrest and police transport experience that somehow left him comatose, brain swollen, with three broken vertebrae and an 80% spinal cord severance. Involved officers were suspended. The Justice Department opened an investigation.

Peaceful protests took place for several days without much media attention. Then a small percentage of the protesters turned to violence and property destruction–with, by the way, the active collusion of baseball fans and poor police planning.

And then the finger-wagging commenced. Which brings me back to O’Kelley:

This is that time in America when we stand around and ask “why would ‘they’ burn down ‘their’ community?” This is that time in America when we simultaneously act as if the precipitating event or parallel history are neither relevant nor worthy of addressing. . . . This is that time in America when once again, African-Americans are expected to play by rules not followed by others while also having the original issues ignored.

Yup. It’s that time again. Not that “that time” ever really went away in the first place.

Continue reading “Broken Windows”

Echoes and Mirrors

Now that the weekend is here, I can catch up on my Blogging 101 assignments. A few of the  assignments I haven’t posted about are “under-the-hood” ones: find new blogs, connect with people in the discussion boards, play around with the visual theme of your blog. I’ve done the first two and at some point I’ll make time to play a bit with the visual design here on JALC. During that Baltic cruise, I actually took a lot of landscape-orientation “texture” photos (things like a lacquered wood floor in The Hermitage, or a ceiling mosaic from the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood) thinking precisely of their use-value for Facebook and blog headers. Now if only I would actually take the time to download those July photos from my camera’s memory card to actually sort through them and start using them…

But one of the assignments was a post topic: the suggestion to

publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.

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Midterm Day

I got up early so I could be at my polling place by 8 this morning. This wasn’t because I was trying to beat any rush or get ahead of the line — I understand that by moving from the big city to the suburbs that certain aspects of my voting life have changed. I just wanted to make sure I had time to vote, commute, stop for a celbratory iced coffee and still make it to work early.

All of which I accomplished. Check, check and check.

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Get Out the Vote

WordPress is doing a whole “Get Out the Vote” campaign.

We’ve teamed up with the good folks from The Pew Charitable Trusts, who, along with Google, and election officials nationwide, have developed the The Voting Information Project (VIP). Together, we’re offering cutting-edge tools that give voters access to the customized information they need to cast a ballot on or before Election Day. The Voting Information Project is offering free apps and tools that provide polling place locations and ballot information for the 2014 election across a range of technology platforms. The project provides official election information to voters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and voters can find answers to common questions such as “Where is my polling location?” and “What’s on my ballot?” through the convenience of their phone or by searching the web.

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All Hallows’ Eve Eve

Well, I’ve been half-avoiding the topic, but there’s no denying that it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow.  Mr. Mezzo and I didn’t get any trick-or-treaters last year, but we still have some candy on hand. We’ll turn on the front porch light and will set out a few seasonal decorations tomorrow evening, just in case anyone comes through the neighborhood looking for treats.

But I won’t be taking the time to get dressed up in costume.

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The Spiked and the Flat of It

Jezebel tells me that the Wall Street Journal recently ran an article asking “Are High Heels Dead?”  The full WSJ article is behind their subscriber paywall, so I can’t tell you anything more about it than appears in Jezebel’s summary.

Look down at your feet. If you’re wearing Crocs or clogs right now, then you win and you’re right on trend. There’s a “low shoe revolution” afoot and it’s all about comfort. According to this Wall Street Journal article, “Are High Heels Dead?” ladies are proudly taking to the streets in their best-worst “unfashionable footwear.”

I honestly can’t tell if the Jezebel staffer is happy, unhappy, or indifferent about this supposed turn of events — she identifies herself as someone interested in comfort, but also comments “there’s no real reason to trash all our favorite pumps.”

What I will say is that I am more skeptical than anything else.

Continue reading “The Spiked and the Flat of It”

Breadcrumbs 3

There’s no one specific topic that I’m burning to write about tonight, so I’m re-instating something I did a couple times back during the HCG journey: stringing a series of random thoughts/vignettes together in a bricolage sort of post.

It’s a way to get some of the hamsters out of my brain, and at least ensures that I will get a post up here on JALC after skipping last night. (The pace of Wednesday night choir rehearsals finally caught up with me.)

Below the jump: more pumpkin spice, the endurance part of “endurance performance art,” and the futility of boob-plate armor.

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It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Mother-Fuckers

gourd_mug_mockup_front-2My Facebook and WordPress feeds have shown me all the ways that the annual pumpkin spice festival is in the zeitgeist, as it were. Perhaps funniest was this essay from McSweeney’s (originally printed in 2010) in the form of a letter expressing the sense of loss and betrayal at pumpkin spice’s previous cycles of betrayal and abandonment. It plays a little bit too strongly into old cliches around “You left me! I hate you! Please take me back!” — at least for my comfort level. Nonetheless, the level of passion and the artfulness of the conceit (including notes of a rebound fling with peppermint in December): all this passion and spleen for pumpkin spice, ye gods, just makes me giggle.

There’s another McSweeney’s essay from 2009 — whose title I have shamelessly cribbed here — but I found the tone to be too mean-spirited for me to enjoy. Nonetheless, the title is worth enjoying for its own brilliance, and can even be purchased in mug form for your next autumnal cuppa cuppa.

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Carry that Weight a Long Time

This article from art-blog HyperAllergic includes pieces of an interview with Emma Sulkowicz, a bit more than two weeks into her performance of Carry that Weight/Mattress Performance. The article contains one factoid that I very much appreciate:

“I’ve only had to do one walk entirely by myself, and that was because there were reporters swarming me and no one was willing to break through the flock.”

It comes back to something my friend Alice said in her comment on my main post about this piece (and the Carry the Weight Together solidarity movement that has been organized in response to Sulkowicz’s piece):

I suspect the most powerful impact will emerge, as it usually does, not in administrative reaction to large rallies but in conversations and allyships forged by small groups of people, finding each other over shared space of common cause.

Now, Gaia forgive my naive heart, I do still fervently believe that policies and legal precedents matter tremendously. (Did you see me back when the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision came down? Here’s a recap: initial outrage, growing anger, full-blown rage, never again, and a ray of solidarity. So suffice to say: I’m emotionally invested in big-policy.) But I also kinda think that the only way big policy change ever really sticks is when there’s a groundswell within the population that things must change and evolve — and that kind of groundswell is absolutely rooted in those small conversations and perspective-shifts. In that kind of yes/and space (or “having my cake and eating it too?”), I am pleased to see how Sulkowicz is receiving support from both formal and informal networks.*

But the other part that hit me more with this article than with earlier coverage is the endurance part of this “endurance performance art piece.” The article name checks some other practitioners of this genre — which I’ll admit I haven’t looked up yet — and has made me more aware of the particular kind of energy and discipline that is needed to sustain this piece.

Yeah, in all of the coverage from day one, the possibility has been voiced that Sulkowicz’s rapist may remain on campus without problem and that she would then be carrying this mattress until her graduation day. But something in reading this new article really settled into my body the sense of how likely that possibility is, considering Columbia’s less-than-stellar record on these issues. Sulkowicz could very well be carrying this physical weight, this talisman of trauma, until next June.

Talk about the kind of courage that’s demonstrated moment by moment and step by step.

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Death-Trap Boob-Armor

As a more whimsical follow-up to my snark about the plate-mail bikinis worn by so many of the Disneyfied princess-warriors I featured about a month ago, here’s an article from Tor that uses science (Science!) to show what a bad idea boob-shaped armor would be:

Let’s begin by stating the simple purpose of plate armor—to deflect blows from weaponry. Assuming that you are avoiding the blow of a sword, your armor should be designed so that the blade glances off your body, away from your chest. If your armor is breast-shaped, you are in fact increasing the likelihood that a blade blow will slide inward, toward the center of your chest, the very place you are trying to keep safe.

But that’s not all! Let’s say you even fall onto your boob-conscious armor. The divet separating each breast will dig into your chest, doing you injury. It might even break your breastbone. With a strong enough blow to the chest, it could fracture your sternum entirely, destroying your heart and lungs, instantly killing you. It is literally a death trap—you are wearing armor that acts as a perpetual spear directed at some of your most vulnerable body parts. It’s just not smart.

Consider this a sliding-towards-Hallowe’en public service announcement: boob-shaped-armor will get you killed.

* Though not the TV networks. C’mon oppressive reporter-flock — could at least one member among you have been awake enough to let the helper-bees through? Or were you actively cordoning Sulkowicz off in order to get a better shot?

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Image credit: http://store.mcsweeneys.net/products/its-decorative-gourd-season-motherfucker-mug