Freaking Out Squares

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wide World of Boxing

Ah, the joys of the 21st century, wherein one can be political without leaving one's house. I just signed MoveOn.org's petition to prevent Congress from killing Network Neutrality, which prevents big corporations from censoring websites, among other things. (God, I just remembered when I worked at that internet company, one of the most distasteful tasks I had to perform there was to demand that this fellow who ran a small website remove "inflammatory" content about one of our clients. My boss was an insane wench who so terrified me into her viselike grip for the nine months I worked there that I don't think I even remembered what the First Amendment was--never mind standing on a platform with a bullhorn demanding clemency for Lenny Bruce. Shudder.) Having signed an average of two MoveOn.org petitions per day during that righteously angry year of 2004, when we all thought we might have a snowball's chance in hell of ridding ourselves of the Head Douche, I've taken to deleting most of their emails, figuring we're all fucked in the ass anyway, so I'm not going to waste precious time and risk having my computer go batshit just to sign a petition, for god's sake. Well, that's bullshit. I am a lazy girl, but I can point and click, and even if we're all fucked, which I believe we are, so entrenched are we by the almighty dollar, that is absolutely no reason to not sign a goddamn MoveOn.org petition. If I may just wrap up this stupid anal sex metaphor, our efforts might be the K-Y Jelly we all need. Ahem. So, if you haven't received the email, go to MoveOn.org's website and sign the petition calling for Congress to retain Network Neutrality. Baby, rub it down and make it smooth like lotion. (Sorry--couldn't resist.)

I did actually leave the house last Friday night for the wilds of Alphabet City, which are not really so wild anymore, thanks to gentrification and the proliferation of hip Thai fusion restaurants of every corner (I'm all for making neighborhoods safe for people to go about their daily lives without fear of taking a bullet in the cerebellum, but why the fuck does that have to involve driving rents up 1000% and remaking Times Square into the Mall of America? I know why it does involve that--my point is, it doesn't have to, and it damn well shouldn't), to see my old pals Ellen and Lisa's spoken word show at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Wow, what a long sentence, and so many links! Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with this somewhat venerable New York institution, Nuyorican is sort of the Studio 54 of the poet caste (or would be, if this were 1977--I have no idea where the popular kids hang out these days), famous for its Friday night poetry "slams," which are the literary version of the dance-off at the end of Saturday Night Fever. I mean, I really do not leave the house, as you can see.

In short, Nuyorican is the gold standard for a whole host of young, and old, bards, particularly for those who are into hip-hop and whose poetry is, if I may so lamely and generically phrase this, "socially conscious." Anti-PC as I am, I don't offer this as some kind of nasty dig, because it isn't. There is, however, a whole genre of literary work that falls under the "socially conscious" rubric, and as liberal as that classification portends to be, I've found it just as circumscribed and reactionary as any of the Bible-thumping rhetoric I was forced to ingest while growing up in the outskirts of Pennsylvania's Amish Country, much of which I have not yet managed to cleanse from my blood. (Top this off with a strong mushy liberal bent and you'll see, partly, why I'm such a nutjob.) It's difficult for me to reconcile the Leftist political sensibilities of this genre, most of which I share, with some of the godawful, didactic pieces of shit that have emerged from it, and even more difficult for me to discuss it in any forum other than a dive bar, with a few select people around who get where I'm coming from and several pints of beer in me. I've heard some lovely work at Nuyorican that can easily be categorized as "political" or "socially conscious," but I've also heard a lot of the aforementioned godawful, didactic pieces of shit, and it really rather pisses me off when the latter are hailed as "brilliant" and "revolutionary." Meanwhile, I'll be sitting in the corner, stewing, hating that I've just been preached to, hating myself for failing to see the revolutionary brilliance in this epic poem that could well have been simply distilled from a Marxism 101 lecture at the Brecht Forum. Where was the humanity in that poem? The idiosyncrasies? Anything that smacks of how real people actually live? Am I just too dense to get it? Too racist? Too emotionally underdeveloped? What the fuck is wrong with me?

When I first slapped this blog up here, I said, in effect, that I was a label whore. I like to think I'm actually a label call girl now, or at least I'm beginning to make the transition from working the docks to sitting in a well-appointed flat, servicing gentlemen at my whim. I've come quite a ways from sitting at the bar at Nuyorican, belting back wine and trying to retrain my brain to perfectly conform to an ideology with which I basically agree, in order that I might write brilliant, revolutionary, Marxist epics that also manage to sing and swing and get merry like Christmas. This go-round, I was actually able to enjoy my friends' show (which, by the way, ladies, was wonderful, and does not fall in the godawful, didactic category, and I ain't just saying that 'cause you're my friends, so keep kickin' ass) and neither steep myself in massive quantities of wine or guilt, nor attempt to synchronize my brain waves with the Nuyorican party line. Don't get me wrong--the tendrils of my childhood still dangle ominously, but I have my lucid moments now in which I'm able to step back and remind myself that this is not the only game in town, and there are as many ways of thinking, being, and creating as there are people in the world, and none of them is inherently "wrong" or "right." Well, except for the Bible-thumpers and Klansmen and die-hard Republican flag-wavers. Oh, and the so-called feminists who insist that women are Venusian peacemakers, which is really just an update of that old sugar and spice and everything nice saw. Oh, and ass-kissers can, well, kiss my ass. Or go fuck themselves up theirs. And I wouldn't exactly shed a tear if the entire Bush administration woke up one morning and found themselves buried up to their necks in sand, with fire ants crawling over their heads, which have been drizzled in honey. You get the picture.

By the way, the title of my friends' show? Boxes and Boundaries: How Do You Resist? Coincidence? Serendipity? This author's half-assed attempt to link her personal issues to a public event for the sake of posting something? All/None of the above?

***** ***** ***** *****
What a Bunch of Pricks: While working on a sewing project into the wee hours of Sunday morning, I was watching MSNBC, hoping to see "Lockdown: Inside San Quentin" or another of the life-affirming shows said station sees fit to broadcast at 1 a.m., when, much to my surprise, I found myself watching "Captured: On Tape." I'm not a big fan of this show, particularly when it involves housewives shoplifting at Wal-Mart in Ohio, but this installment was all about tattoos. Since I'm turning thirty in a shade under six months, I thought this might be a good time to revisit the tattoo issue. Ten years ago, I spent three months in Krakow, Poland, and spurred by the newly tattooed presence of my hipper-than-thou suitemates, I came very close to permanently decorating my flesh for 40 zloty, which is roughly the equivalent of $13 american. I chickened out at the last minute, figuring it was probably unwise to submit to needling in a country where one can get food poisoning from a carrot. (We had four cases of food poisoning in the first six weeks we were there. One of the victims was a strict vegetarian, and the doctors posited he picked it up from eating unwashed vegetables and fruit. I got it from a bad hardboiled egg I ate at a hotel in Prague. Trust me, you haven't lived until you've contracted salmonella in a former Soviet bloc nation.)

Anyway, ten years on, and safe(?) in the bosom of NYC, I'm thinking about celebrating my 30th birthday by getting a tattoo. If anyone knows of any reputable tattoo parlors here in town or in the metro area that manage to not transmit HIV or Hep C without charging a king's ransom, let me know. Also, if you have any tattoo ideas, post 'em on this blog. Now's your chance to come out of hiding! I'm leaning toward an anarchy symbol with roses entwined--a political trellis, if you will--on my ankle, but I'm open to suggestions.

And speaking of needles, if you're trying to seam a piece of fabric while balancing it on your knee, may I recommend wearing something more substantial than a T-shirt and underpants, lest you wind up dappling your thigh with puncture wounds?
***** ***** ***** *****
Finally, congratulations are in order for faux pundit Stephen Colbert, who, on Tuesday, became a father for the fourth time...of a baby eagle. No Stuart Little fantasies here (and I speak of the infinitely superior E.B. White book, not the wretched movie version)--the baby eagle is part of a litter (I know there's a proper term for a grouping of eagles, something along the lines of "a murder of crows"--I just don't know what it is) of eaglets belonging to the San Francisco Zoo, who offered to name a baby eagle in Stephen's honor. That is actually pretty damn awesome, not least because the first time I saw Stephen Colbert on The Daily Show, way back in the Craig Kilborn days, I thought, "Who is this milky-white 'nice guy'? Ooh! He's so creepy! Get him off!" I revised my opinion as the some of the most racist, anti-Semitic, flag-waving bile began to spew out of his ostensibly clean, square maw--all in good fun, of course. I have to say, that's always been one of my big lures, a fellow who looks like a straight arrow and reveals himself as a die-hard liberal through his satiric use of horrid, reactionary shit. I like that in women, too--I just don't like it like it. Yet. That I know of. Or am comfortable acknowledging. Anyway, congratulations, Stephen, and my most sincere apologies for marginalizing you thus lo these many years ago. I know you've probably bookmarked this page by now, seeing as I have a link to your site and all, and I look forward to a random celebrity encounter with you sometime in the not-too-distant future, during which I shall behave in a dignified manner and not attempt to engage you in adopting your screen persona for my personal amusement, unlike some of the RUBES you might run into. You're welcome.

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