“The Star-Spangled Banner” glorifies violence and war against a historical ally. It’s hard to sing. And that’s just the beginning.
Francis Scott Key
Colin Kaepernick has inspired me to re-evaluate history that I thought I knew. It turns out that I was wrong–and I taught US History for years (including AP US History). So I’m a little embarrassed. But also grateful. By now everyone knows that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the US National Anthem before the game on Friday against the Green Bay Packers. At a press conference he explained:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. Continue reading →
#BlackLivesMatter to me because I am someone who works hard for success, who is following the path to the American Dream. I grew up learning to be tolerant, learning to accept everybody, regardless of who they are or where they came from. I was raised to embrace my Blackness, and to see it as beautiful, not as something that would hold me back.
“All hell broke loose the last time we sat on a deck like this drinking beer, contemplating doing something stupid for the right reason….” – William Mark
Crossing the Blue Line by William Mark (image courtesy Southern Yellow Pine Publishing)
William Mark’s Crossing the Blue Line is the sort of book that some magazines would put into their lists of “great beach reads.” It’s a fast paced, high energy narrative about crooked cops – on both sides of what is known in police jargon as “the blue line.” What sets Mark’s book apart from most such novels is that he gives us crooked cops who take the law into their own hands for the right as well as for the wrong reasons.
Dylan Akers and Beau Rivers, the heroes of Mark’s previous work in this emerging series, are both on thin ice with their superiors at the Tallahassee PD when the novel opens. Both have been demoted and moved to backwater assignments (Akers, a top homicide detective, has been made head of a dead end division of the department; Rivers, the epitome of the “loose cannon” type, has been given an even more dead end assignment) as punishment for having committed a crime that can’t (seemingly) be proven against them: the execution of two criminals who raped and murdered Dylan’s young daughter. Continue reading →
At 15, I related most to Ralph Ellison’s unnamed protagonist in Invisible Man. I was attending The Hotchkiss School, and for the first time, I thought of myself as a minority because of my race and class. Though young, I was being exposed to the world. While privilege buffers blocked possible hardships from me, I had an opportunity to be a carefree black child. I enjoyed math, string instruments, and new dance steps. I felt regular. I played and then matured to hanging out with friends. I laughed a large free laugh and experienced a childhood unaware of the limitations my race could impose. Continue reading →
Knowing that, what do you know about my politics and points of view?
But wait, you might argue: I know a couple of things that should allow me to predict what shaped your world view.
Really? Let’s test that theory.
Baby boomers are classically defined as those born between 1946 and 1964. That’s an 18-year span. Consider, for a moment, how different the world would look for people at varied points along that span.
Please don’t destroy the city of Cleveland or its people in which you could find so much sympathy, support, and common ground. Whatever your cause, someone here will hear you out. Not everyone all the time. But you’ll find people who will listen.
Here’s something to start with: Monday, July 18, 2016–the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland–is the 50th anniversary of the Hough Riots. The Hough Riots were a violent clash between police, the National Guard and residents of the Hough neighborhood on the East Side of Cleveland.
Hough had been home to people from Eastern Europe and Appalachia during the first half of the twentieth century. Continue reading →
White man ISO white people to explain something to me
I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that. Continue reading →
No red, white, and blue adorn my flagpole. No patriotic bunting arches over my front door. No fireworks await their flaming demise. I no longer enjoy the nation’s formal parting from Great Britain (which was on July 2, anyway).
I suppose, at one time, July Fourth carried great meaning to all Americans. After all, because of the acts of the Continental Congress and subsequent versions of it, I can (and do) criticize my government without fear or favor. I can own a weapon. My home and person cannot be searched or seized without cause. I am not obligated to incriminate myself. I can practice the religion of my choice — or decide not to — without government coercion. I can peaceably assemble with others to protest almost any damn thing I want to. I can vote to select who will govern me. And Congress cannot prevent me from owning a press in which I tell others what I see and what I know and what I feel.
I love my country because of the ideals inherent in the Constitution and especially in the Bill of Rights.
It’s not often a winning party in a long-fought legal battle asks the Supreme Court in the United States to review a lower court’s ruling that had been made in its favor. But for the Portland, Oregon-based, Asian-American dance-rock band The Slants, that’s just what happened this week.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that the USPTO was in violation of the Constitution by rejecting the band’s trademark application by a 9-3 margin. The court found that the section of the archaic and little-known Lanham Act used by the USPTO to deny the application, the “disparagement” portion, could not be used to prevent or deny the application. Continue reading →
Not everybody loved The Greatest: what Muhammad Ali meant to one racist Southern kid
That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn’t entirely conquer – he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation. – Hunter S. Thompson
I grew up in the ’60s and ’70 in a rural Southern culture that was stereotypically:
A few weeks ago in a random historic-site parking lot in far-flung western Colorado I met a 60-something woman from Atlanta.
“You’re traveling alone? Well good for you. I always wanted to do that but I just don’t have the courage. Some day I will. You’ve never had any problems?”
This is a common question when people see me alone. A few variables in wording, some more direct language about scary people and places to avoid, but the sentiment is the same.
I’ve worked alone in many remote places over the years. I have occasionally stepped out of sight when I felt unsure about what was coming my way. I’m more often worried about destroying an axle on my pickup, not finding my way out of a random maze of canyons, or falling off a cliff than about other people.
You may have seen your favorite celebrity like Taylor Swift or Gigi Hadid sporting one of these babies [referring to high-waisted bikini bottoms] on their latest social media post … either way, you’re not them. These girls have the body to pull it off. You do not. Snap me photo proof if you think you can.
By Emily Rosman
Above is an example of one of the unsupported claims by The Therapist, an anonymous user on Total Frat Move, or TFM, in an article called “Why Girls Should Stop Wearing High-Waisted Bikinis.”
TFM, a self-claimed “news and entertainment brand that consists of the No. 1 college comedy website on the internet,” is owned by Grandex Inc. Grandex owns other “entertainment” brands like Total Sorority Move, Rowdy Gentleman and Post Grad Problems. Grandex lists 47 executives on its website — only seven are women.
Misogynistic posts like The Therapist’s litter the site, using derogatory language in most articles and treating women as sexual objects.
“Misogyny now has become so normalized,” said Paul Roberts, author of Impulse Society. “It’s almost like we’ve gone back to the Mad Men days.”
Don’t you think it’s magnificent? A kind of splendid behavior really. A trusting of the future, a daring kind of love. Isn’t it, in a way, splendid? – Catherine Heath
Behaving Badly by Catherine Heath (image courtesy Library Thing)
Catherine Heath is a novelist I stumbled upon through my wife Lea’s interest in and admiration for the actress Judi Dench. In looking around for a present for her (anniversary, Christmas, I forget), I came across a British miniseries called Behaving Badly starring the aformentioned Ms. Dench.
As we watched the miniseries I became interested in finding out more about the author, a British novelist of the 1970’s and 80’s who only developed her career as a novelist in early middle age and who died relatively young (66) of cancer. So I found and bought a copy of the novel Behaving Badly, the work upon which the television show was based.
Having read Heath’s novel, I can offer a couple of observations about which I will elaborate later. The first is that Heath, like most British writers, is deft, witty, and thoughtful. The second is that like any number of fine British writers she may be ignored for long periods. The second of these may actually be a hidden boon to her long term literary reputation. Continue reading →
I just had a chance to read this op/ed from last year’s NYT: What makes a woman? The subject is still timely, especially thanks to hijinks like those coming out of North Carolina’s statehouse. And I’ve riffed on it before, if with more vitriol. I was a meaner person back then. Now I can just rest on the laurels of my cis-gendered white male privilege, look at this modern debate and all those hoity-toity post-modern nonsensilists and be snide. It’s an important debate, exactly because it’s in the courts and involves human safety, but dammit people, bring your A-game. Continue reading →
Just as The Slants prepare to release a new album with a new singer, it might be time to prepare to face the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, this won’t come as a surprise to the band.
In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was in violation of the Constitution when it rejected the band’s application to register its name as a trademark. By a margin of 9-3, the federal court ruled the “disparagement” portion of the Lanham Act — a 60-year-old and little-understood law — could not be used to prevent the band from its right to trademark its name. Continue reading →
#RIPChyna – former WWE superstar becomes the latest victim of an industry where people are disposable and life is cheap (because that’s what’s best for business)
Joanie Laurer: “Chyna,” the 9th Wonder of the World
I woke to the news this morning of Joanie Laurer’s death. Known to professional wrestling fans as Chyna – “the 9th Wonder of the World” – Laurer was only 45. Details aren’t available yet, but if you follow the industry you’re not going to be surprised if it turns out to be drug-related. And if you have followed Laurer at all, you might immediately wonder if this is was suicide.
Laurer was a groundbreaking performer. There was nothing diva about her. Continue reading →