Michael & Me (scapegoat yr idols)

Note: This is an old post from my old, now-defunct blog, written shortly after Michael Jackson died. Rerunning it in his honor and memory on this, the second anniversary of his death.


The day after Michael Jackson died I found myself waiting for hours and hours in the Secaucus NJ train station. There were mishaps going into the Catskills to see my grandparents. Amongst the time-killing activities of buying corn nuts, searching for soy milk and searching for Wifi, I read a piece in New York magazine about the Chew-Holdens; some hippie family in Prospect Heights who bought a brownstone and grows gardens and shops at the co-op and all sleep in the same bed. “Co-sleeping”, it’s called? I’d heard about parents and babies “co-sleeping” together, and I’ve obviously heard of various different family members sharing beds because of space and/or financial constrictions. I’d never heard of a park Slope co-op family choosing to push a twin against a king size mattress to make one enormous bed for the parents and two (six and ten year old) girls to “co-sleep” in together because it’s, like, wholesome and qualite´*. “If [husband] and I ever need privacy,” the mother explained “there are plenty of other places in the house.”

To be blunt (and probably bigoted) I have a lot of problems with this idea of “co-sleeping” with children that old, at least when it’s Park Slope hippies deciding to do it. It sounds like a nightmare of horrible boundaries and lack of privacy to me, for everyone involved. Are the parents freaks who want to make sure their kids don’t masturbate or something? Seriously. Do they really like having their kids in bed with them every night? Despite the fact that there are like one million rooms in the brownstone that could easily be different bedrooms? Why? Is their sex life that uncompelling?

I don’t think the Chew-Holdens are going to be tarred and feathered, and I don’t think they should be. I don’t think they should be investigated for possible child abuse based on their choice of sleeping arrangement, however much it grosses me out. But one big happy “family bed” when there are so many other options so readily available does raise a red flag, automatically. The possibility of sexual abuse does flash in my mind.

Over the weekend I watched a lot of coverage on Michael Jackson’s death, on both the news and music networks.

My sister and partner and I talked about how important Michael was and is, at least to anyone who cares about music, pop culture, or racial politics. His role in popular music can not be overstated. He was at the absolute top of his field in so many areas— a great, great singer, dancer, writer, music video visionary…we couldn’t think of anyone who was that amazing in that many different fields. Watching the video network specials really reminded me of how fucking good so much of his work was. I remembered how I felt when I was five and got Thriller. How much I loved–with my heartLOVED –that music, how I stared at the photo of him in the gatefold with the tiger cub and fell in love, how beautiful he was. How the hooks dug in and wouldn’t let go. How Billie Jean used to always give me chills. My 80s trinity was Michael, Cyndi, Madonna, but Michael was the first. First vinyl I ever owned. I remember when my dad brought it home for me and my older sister, and my mom put contact paper on a big piece of cardboard for us to “breakdance” on while we listened to it.

I stopped following Michael Jackson news after awhile. I didn’t buy any of his music post-Bad, though I enjoyed a lot of his videos and singles. I loved the “Scream” video. When it came out in the mid-90s I knew someday it would look dated, but couldn’t imagine it, it seemed so NEW. I have to admit, I still kind of like Michael and Janets’ wardrobes. Shiny vinyl pants with those black shirts with the…ridges? All over? I still kinda think that’s a hot look.

I was an alternateen then, so Michael was no longer a staple. I avoided most media coverage in those later years, which all seemed to come from the “what a freak” angle. I didn’t want to read that. I didn’t want to hear lurid speculation or offensive jokes or revel in diagnosing the man. I didn’t care that he dangled his baby out the window. Yeah, bad move, but why the obsessing? Based on the infamous Living with Michael Jackson interviews that I saw for the first time on MSNBC this weekend, it seems like he was in a bad way in those days. It was very sad. He seemed in ill health, and was not handling whatever Valley of the Dolls uppers/downers combination he was on very well; though for all I know, he wasn’t on any drugs and was having some other kind of issue that was making him act doped up then manic and twitchy and shaking. It’s possible, the fuck do I know other than that he really did not seem okay, and it made me really sad to see.

The thing that makes me saddest about Michel Jackson’s death is, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that he never seemed to find any peace, he never seemed to have healed.

I saw Deepak Chopra on Larry King, talking about his friendship with Michael. He said that once upon a time Michael called him up, wanting to learn how to meditate. Deepak went to Neverland one weekend and they became friends. Eventually, Micahael asked him for a prescription for Oxycontin (if you’re like me and didn’t know, that’s Dr. Deepak Md to you,) which Chopra refused. He didn’t give much detail, but said Michael was abusing prescription pills, which he got through crappy Hollywood doctors who get their kicks (and ka$h) enabling celebrities with drug problems. He rightly pointed out that more people are dangerously addicted to prescription drugs than illegal drugs (and yet—no drug war on the pharmaceutical companies!)

Anyway. Deepak Chopra also said his kids spent time with Jackson, had traveled with him, and that he felt completely comfortable leaving his kids with Jackson unsupervised.

I’m told that one of the big scandalous revelations in this interview was that MJ admitted to having sleepovers with kids, including sometimes sleeping in the same bed with them. He didn’t apologize for it, and lashed out at those who found such behavior problematic, for turning something loving and innocent into horror.

Now. People talk about juggling your appreciation for Jackson’s music with your reservations about his personal life. I don’t give a fuck how “weird” he is. When I was young and watched the Muppets, I most identified with Gonzo–the “weirdo”. I think I identified a bit with the MJ under tabloid attack–why are we supposed to condemn him, exactly, even if he did sleep in an oxygen chamber and try to buy the elephant man’s bones? Fuck, if I were Michael Jackson I’d probably want the Elephant Man’s bones too, if they’re not buried, if they’re being gawked at in some exhibit somewhere. The plastic surgery makes me sad, makes me angry at white supremacy, but it doesn’t make me hate him–who the fuck am I, as some white girl, to hate on or ridicule him for that?

The only thing that really makes me uncomfortable being a fan is the possibility that he molested kids. That’s fucking horrible. I’m not going to defend the behavior of a fucking child molester.

Some people seem to accept that Michael Jackson was a child molester. Why?

I can empathize with the visceral horror one feels when it seems like sexual abuse of any kind is being swept under the rug, that victims are slandered while perpetrators walk away. I understand if someone can’t deal with Michael Jackson because of the abuse allegations. But most mentions of it seem to lump it together with his plastic surgery, just another freaky scandal, another handful of mud to throw.

My basic, political, position is that I believe people when they say they have been abused. If a kid says they were molested, they were molested. But. Shit happens. There are situations where parents decide a kid was molested for purposes of getting money, and/or some other whacked-out reason. Maybe Michael Jackson was a child molester, but at least as plausible to me is that some greedy or disgruntled parents decided to call Michael Jackson a child molester. I didn’t follow either molestation scandal much, I found them upsetting. Based on my limited knowledge of both cases, after reading up a little now to try to better understand, I don’t really have any reason to believe that he’s guilty, and tell me if you’re more educated than I am and feel differently.

The sleepover admission was apparently near-tantamount to an admission of criminal guilt in the public imagination. I don’t think Michael’s sleepovers make him any more guilty of child abuse than the co-sleeping habits of the Chew-Holdens do. I see both as potentially problematic, but neither as necessarily sexual. Yet “he got away with it” is an accepted sentiment in many circles.

Why is Michael Jackson a pervert and the Chew-Holdens qualite? Well, the Chew-Holdens are wholesome white liberals in park slope. Amongst their peers, they are probably admired or jealously scorned out of insecurity, hated with the kind of misplaced anxious energy that often manifests in peer-pressured CSA memberships where the vegetables never get eaten and the parents feel resentful of their produce burden. If fellow liberals took issue with the co-sleeping, it’d likely be out of a fear of their own inferior, less dedicated parenting.

Michael Jackson wasn’t a qualite white liberal, he was a Black man whose presentation stirred race and gender panic. His ambiguity triggered anger, bigotry, hatred. The way he talked, moved, transformed physically, pushed buttons and freaked people out, especially, if the post-death fallout is any indication, white men who felt threatened. He couldn’t be easily boxed into race/gender/sexuality categories except for the all-encompassing “freak”, within which all is possible except recognition of humanity.

The racism in the “he got away with it!” vitriol is hard to deny. There’s a special place in pop cultural hell for black men accused of harming whites. An obvious point of comparison to Michael’s not guilty verdict is OJ Simpson’s–white America is still not over that miscarriage of justice despite the many many more wrongful convictions and acquittals that have piled up (and could be organized around) since. If we want to stick with The Fame, before the recent turn-about Phil Spector had a long time as a legally not-guilty man after murdering his wife. I don’t recall the same critical mass of (white) outrage.

There’s another reason the Chew-Holdens are role models and Michael’s sick. My partner said, “Well, I guess if it’s an adult that’s not in the family, people find it more suspect”. But WHY? A child is far more likely to be sexually abused by someone in their family than by Michael freakin’ Jackson. Isn’t that the unfortunate, less politician-friendly reality of child sexual abuse? Kids are usually abused by those closest to them, and often the abusers are respectable members of the community. Scandals involving such are meant to reaffirm the status quo misconception of sexual abuse—OMG, this respectable businessman raped his daughter! That’s a story because it’s seen as an exception. Our culture displaces this epidemic, which cuts across demographic lines and effects a horrifying number of people, onto pervs and trash and freaks. MJ was a freak par excellence.

The sleepovers are the smoking gun? It’s Michael Jackson, for god’s sake, who everyone knows had a traumatizing non-childhood and thus was obsessed with an idealized version of the state, with saving the children from what he needed saving from. He wanted physical affection rather than abuse, he wanted to feel loved and cared for, so he recreated this such relationships in his adult life. Many of us work through these dynamics in our romantic relationships, he didn’t seem to have that option. It’s unusual and eccentric, and, beyond that, it absolutely raises red flags. But: I can conceive of such strangeness without molestation. His sleepovers don’t make him guilty. And there’s something wrong with a media that congratulates the Chew-Holdens for being closeknit, loving, and GREEN, while blasting MJ as a sick freak. Especially as the Chew-Holdens all sleep together every night, not as some special occasional fun thing. The thought of sleeping in the same bed with my parents every night at age ten causes me to hyperventilate with privacy deprivation, instant panic attack!

Jackson is a scapegoat that allows us to ignore and misrepresent the reality of sexual abuse. It usually doesn’t involve satanic rituals or complicated “games” involving whole pre-schools of kids and adult accomplices, or fanciful sleepovers with the king of pop. The reality of most child sexual abuse is much more banal and quiet and private and devastating. I haven’t seen the MJ scandals raise public interest is stopping child abuse, developing resources for victims, figuring out how to viably treat perpetrators, changing our culture to build respect for children and listen to them…no, as is so tragically often the case in instances where child sexual abuse becomes part of a media spectacle, actually helping abused kids and preventing future abuse has nothing to do with the story. That story would be hegemony-threatening rather than reifying. It wouldn’t be a good old times Coney Island freakshow.

The fact that Michael was one of the artistic geniuses of my lifetime and one of the most commercially successful, and still got treated so disrespectfully saddens me greatly. The fact that anyone is complaining about all the coverage his death is getting angers me. Ok, yeah, I’m disgusted that the news networks were all MJ all the time all weekend, even as no new information came in, even as there was a whole rest of the world where things were happening that should be news, but this kind of news media spectacle isn’t new or unique. I’m a bit less offended by the constant coverage of the sudden-seeming and untimely death of one of the biggest public figures of our time than I am when it’s “breaking update: young white lady still missing”. He certainly earned the non-stop coverage on music or entertainment-oriented channels, and should have been a top story elsewhere as well. I don’t remember much outrage when the media obsessively re-chronicled all the details of Princess Diana’s death. She wasn’t even our Princess, whereas Michael was certainly our King.

Let’s remember why:

*Qualite (adj.)
Of or pertaining to wholesome goodness with marked bourgeois connotations, inherently alienating to me, often w/ marked liberal connotations.

e.g.: Terra Blues, off-white, activists who are always happy, yoga pants, anything that could be described as tastefully messy, The Park Slope Food Co-Op, anyone in good standing at the Park Slope Food Co-Op, Angelica Kitchen, NOW, being anti-makeup, being anti-porn [i just realized this would make an incredible category in $25,000 pyramid!], muted colors, obsessive cleanliness, no worse yet – people who just smell like shampoo ALL THE TIME, people who academically/anthropologically “take an interest in” social movements though have no interest in taking part in them, etc. (from here.)

Whither the van?

The Shondes‘ van was the closest thing I have ever had to my own vehicle. It has moved furniture, bounty from exuberant grocery shoppings, and all manner of large, heavy, unwieldy objects to my home. It has moved me all kinds of places, from The Movies to Coney Island to a funeral.

Now the Shondes’ van has been really, truly, finally stolen. In addition to the sad fact that it will never take me or my stuff anywhere again, there’s also the truly awful fact that the band now can’t go anywhere. They can’t get to crucial destinations. These include the remote, out of town recording studio where they have sessions booked to work on their new album. Or Austin, TX, where they are supposed to play SXSW. This is a problem.

Anyone who has been in a band or is close to those who are or have been can likely muster up a vicarious sense of panic and doom. The prospect of being suddenly van-less when set to go somewhere important, somewhere with all your huge gear, somewhere requiring a van for transport is something no band ever wants to contemplate, I’d wager. It’s a devastating blow.

If you have a dollar or more to spare, please donate to the Kickstarter account they’ve started to fund The Shondes’ van 2.0. They’ve already reached over 60% of their goal, through the kind and generous donations of people who recognize how bad this sucks. Most of this was raised through smaller donations–$3, $5, $10 bucks. Every bit really does help.

You can watch the video below, in which the band explains more about their crisis:

Here’s the music video I made for them a million years ago, back in The Van’s heyday:

Come to think of it, I have a bunch of footage of The Van, with which nothing has ever been done. Pity both my video HDs ‘asploded. Hmm.

These are a few of my favorite things today

This amazing animated short about Courtney Love dekookifying her fashion that wordpress won’t let me embed.

Labyrinth > Inception, see below:

Soup. Here is a thing I wrote about where I like to get soup. Please comment if you have opinions on this matter. Also, here is a really amazing soup recipe, maybe my absolute favorite soup recipe of all time.

Princess Fancypants jewelery. New website up and running, just in time for Valentine’s Day gifting. There are handmade metal postcards appropriate for every one of those special someones, with messages ranging from “I would give you a kidney” to “I only want to be friends on the internet” to “I hate Valentine’s Day”. More ambiguous jewelery (ghost necklaces, shark teeth earrings, etc) available as well.

Also seasonally appropriate, this is probably my favorite music video from last year:

It kind of outdoes “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Remember back when we had real videos? Nice that we occasionally still do.


I am appalled that Shapeshifters, Invincible’s wonderful LP, came out two and a half years ago, and I had no idea. It’s almost all I’ve listened to for the past few weeks, and is destined to stay in heavy rotation for a long time to come.

I think I first came across Invincible through activist-y means. I feel like I saw her name on some CD I was looking at in Wooden Shoe once upon a time, though my brain may have manufactured that kinda-memory. I’m surer that I saw her MySpace profile in conjunction with internet stuff I did for pro-Palestinian campaigns. I never listened to her stuff, though. In all honesty, the fact that I came across her through internet activism did not peak my interest, because most well-intended political music is not anything I want to listen to. Great political music is like my holy grail, and most of my favorite music is, at least sometimes, explicitly, consciously political. However: so much self-consciously political music I come across, especially that which I first come across in activist scenes (rather than through music fans–activist or not), tends to be heavy handed, uninspiredly amateurish, and artistically lazy. I won’t name names.

Invincible’s name came up now and again, but I was never that curious because, frankly, what were the odds that a white activist rapper was worth listening to? I mean, most white people who rap, shouldn’t. I’ve heard some awful stuff in my time by white people claiming to making hip hop of some political significance. I didn’t know anything else about Invincible, I had no context other than what I just outlined. I didn’t know about her deep roots in the Detroit hip hop scene. I didn’t know that she was a serious rapper, not an activist who decided to try rap cuz she couldn’t sing, or fetishistically thought it’d be more hardcore than starting a crappy punk band. I didn’t know who made her beats or how hot they are. If one person I respected had told me to listen to her, I happily would have, but I come across a lot of names of artists over the course of the day. Don’t check most of them out. No matter how hard I’m kicking myself now for not buying that fucking CD at Wooden Shoe.

Then, this past summer, Invincible was interviewed on Democracy Now as part of their coverage of Detroit Summer. She did a song a capella, and the show used clips from her songs as bumpers. One of the bumpers was from “Sledgehammer”, including the part where Invincible shouts out Fannie Lou Hamer, Fred Hampton, Nina Simone, and, one of my favorite film makers, Marlon Riggs. I was walking to work when I heard it and was just like, WHAT. If you’ve heard the song, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, here it is:

Around this time Jean Grae (who is maybe my favorite, favorite emcee) started (or I started noticing that she was) mentioning Invincible occasionally and I was like, ok, that bit of a song I died over is probably not at all a fluke. I kept making mental notes to check her out, and kept forgetting, ’til two days ago when I suddenly remembered and decided to see what was available through iTunes. Shapeshifters was available, so I got it, and HOLY GOD.

There’s not a skip-able cut on this thing, from the Toni Cade Bambara-quoting “State of Emergency (Intro)” to the closing cut, “Locusts”, which spawned a docu-music video.

There’s a lot going on in between. Besides the aforementioned killer “Sledgehammer”, some of my favorite songs are the brilliantly “Lovecats” sampling “No Easy Answers”, the Ann Arbor/Ypsilenti-centric “Deuce/Ypsi” (which resonates with my own disillusioning childhood in a liberal college town), and “People not Places”. Ah, “People Not Places”, how long have I been waiting for this song? It makes a nice diptych with The Shondes‘ anti-Zionist anthem “I Watched the Temple Fall” (lyrics). In it, Invisible lyrically returns to her home from ages 1-7, Israel, via Birthright and goes through the visited hotspots, revealing the Palestinian history obscured by the new Israeli villages, institutions, and language. Her portrait of a land where Hebrew has been foisted upon all and those speaking Arabic can expect police harassment is nuanced and affecting.

First stop: museum of the Holocaust
Walkin outside–in the distance–saw a ghost throwing a Molotov
Houses burnt with kerosene
Mass graves
Couldn’t bare the scene
It wasn’t a pogrom–it was the ruins of Deir Yassin

It speaks to Invincible’s superlative artistry that a song that serves as a history lesson backed by a very intentional agenda doesn’t come off as didactic (even if I’d still like it if it did). This song is a great example of why I’m so smitten with her–great delivery, great beats, and those rhymes! Intricately constructed rhymes that never sacrifice personal truth for cleverness, though there’s ample amounts of the latter to go ’round. The politics emerge organically and always carry the weight of emotional truth. This is political music at it’s absolute finest (also just music in general at it’s finest.)

The song also features Abeer, who was so memorable in one of my favorite documentaries ever, Slingshot Hip Hop.

Then there’s “Ropes”, as honest and moving an addressal of suicidal tendencies as Elliott Smith’s best (or “Take Me”, by Jean Grae, for that matter). Apparently its excellent video was accepted to MTVU, only to have the standards department ultimately reject it for it’s “problematic suicidal undertones”. I don’t know that I’d call the suicide-related contents “undertones”, the lyrics are pretty clear, but the more obvious issue here is the flagrant hypocrisy here–this is MTV. MTV, which you may remember from such videos as “Jeremy” in which the titular character artfully blows himself away in front of his rather young class. There’s nothing nearly as graphic here, just a sober, genuinely life-and-struggle-affirming story:

I heard the barrels cry wishing they could spare ya lives
Was feeling paralyzed but no I wasn’t scared to die
Feared not livin to the fullest so i pulled it
All or nothing
Now somebody wanna call my bluff when
I tried to flinch
Told them that the suicide attempt was cause I’d rather die
Than live and ride the bench
For every victory there’s like 50 times the set backs
For every revolution there’s a death trap
And everytime I see police attackin with a tazer gun
A protester that’s down already on the ground my face is stunned
I see people that’s unaffected like “that’s just for safety hun”
Turn around and tell myself: “You’re not the crazy one”
To all the unfazed and numb, hope that you hear
What I’ve spoken is clear
So you stop repressing choking the tears
We all walk the line between insanity and sanity
And hope and despair

But you really can’t get this by reading the words on your screen, so here’s the fabulous, Coney-based video:

I’m so excited about this album. You must hear it. I am paying rapt attention to Invincible, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

(See also: Rap Genius exegeses of “Sledgehammer” and “People Not Places”. Invincible herself explains “People Not Places”. You can follow Invincible on Twitter. Also, that MySpace page is here.)

RIP Ari Up

Where to begin. It’s been a few days and I’m still sad, still a bit shocked, still listening to The Slits a lot, but the latter is nothing new. I always listen to The Slits a lot because they continue to be a reliable source for joy and inspiration. And they’re always just a lot of fun.

Ari Up

I’m sorry I didn’t see Ari Up live more, I took her constant stream of New York shows for granted. I did see a reincarnation of The Slits open for Sonic Youth’s live presentation of Daydream Nation a few years ago. I was delighted by Ari’s undying punk spirit, spitting in the eye of confused, misogynist hipster who were horrified to see a woman in her 40s unapologetically jumping around the stage in a flippy little skirt while singing odes to shoplifting. Ari Up exuded boundless love for her audience and herself, at the same time as flipping off all the bullshit surrounding us and within us.

A friend recently asked why I single out Vampire Weekend for criticism for cultural appropriation when the entire history of pop music is of the same. It would be an injustice to the question if I tried to fold a real response into this post, but a short answer is: compare Vampire Weekend and The Slits. The difference (besides one being boring and the other revolutionary) is a matter of sincerity and respect. With the encouragement and mentorship of Don Letts, the Slits began incorporating reggae into their punk rock, creating a mind blowing new sound with all kinds of interesting and complicated implications. While one could critique The Slits and Ari Up on grounds of cultural appropriation, their orientation towards the music that influenced them was more one of sincere engagement and exchange than opportunism, gimmicks, and entitlement.

You can hear the difference in the music. The music still moves me so much. The funny thing is, when I first started listening to The Slits as a high school Riot Grrrl, I liked their earlier, dirtier, straight-forward Punk Rawk more than the reggae stuff. At that point I really connected to loud messy guitars and cared less about rhythm than the energy with which one hit the drums. I loved the first half of In The Beginning and tended to skip the second. Everything reasonable I read about punk history was like “Cut, Cut, Omg Cut is the classic of classics” but when I first heard it, it was like the premiere performance of Rites of Spring. My brain just couldn’t make sense of it–how was this punk rock? That delightful puzzle is what has kept me listening for more than a decade, new gifts unearthed each time I hear these songs.

Apart from the Slits contribution to The Punk Rock, where would pop music be without them? The lineage runs directly into so many vital artists–Bjork, M.I.A., Madonna…

Almost everything I love about Ari Up can be heard on The Slits cover of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, a song that by all means should be a gimmicky train wreck. Instead it’s transcendent.

“New Town” is one of my favorite songs on Cut. Budgie (better known for Siouxie and the Banshees) is drumming here, and while he was only briefly a Slit, I wanna give him his due because I fucking love his work on this:

“New Town” is a great example of Ari Up’s imaginative and emotionally resonant lyrics.

Since we’re on it, here’s another of my favorite Slits songs, “Shoplifting”. This is a beloved Peel Sessions version, more up my high school alley. Ari was just a young teenager herself:

Here’s the song as performed by a recent incarnation of the group less than a year ago:

“Ten quid for the lot? We pay fuck all!”

A good in-depth look at The Slits can be found in Zoe Street Howe’s Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits.

Gaza flotilla video mashup: Internet Killed Israeli PR

This made me smile.
It’s been blocked in Israel for the moment, supposedly because Hitler is in it for a second.

How democratic.

Nevermind that, as the film makers say (and is clear in the video):

[The Hitler] clip was used to illustrate the idea that the IDF’s “go back to Auschwitz” release constituted an accusation that flotilla passengers were supporters of Nazism.
It would be difficult to misread this as any sort of glorification.
All of us in Minor Demographic Threat are in 100% agreement that Hitler was a complete putz.

My Feelings and Opinions

1. I am glad that American apparel looks like it’s going bankrupt.  I would like to think that at least a small part of their sales drop was due to people stopped buying their crap cuz it was 1-waaaay too expensive for the quality and 2-almost anyone who is not themselves a really fucking creepy person fucking hates Dov charny.  JESUS.  Can he and fucking Terry Richardson (why, why do magazines hire him to shoot everyone now?  Does he work really cheap?  His one fucking schtick has gotten So. Fucking. Old.  And it was never even good!) just go off in a deserted cabin somewhere and jerk off to 70s porn together and sexually harass each other or do whatever the hell  to pass the time until the inevitable slasher villan comes to call?  I used to sometimes get wholesale AA stuff at Friedmans, but I haven’t even done that in awhile.  The only AA stuff I ever get is if some band uses the brand for their t-shirts or something.  Except for the 2 for $5 shirts I bought the other day at Filene’s.  Hell, if savings as they crumble keep getting passed on to me, I might start wearing the stuff again!  I like 2 for $5 tank tops!  2 for $5 tank tops are my jam!

2. I am pro-Kanye’s Twitter feed.  I like seeing horses and goblets.

3. Fantastic Mr. Fox was neither fantastic nor foxy.  I appreciated the stop motion animation, the art direction, some of the cinematography, and some of the voice acting (the thing would have been unwatchable without George Clooney and Meryl Streep) but I’m tired of Wes Anderson’s cereal box daddy issues and lack of soul.  He has an eye, his movies always look great, and after the trilogy of flat-out awful movies I’d seen previously, I was extra appreciative. (The trilogy of dreck was Prime, The Women, and Feeling Minnesota, I can explain how these seemingly random atrocities made their way into my DVD player!  Maybe that should be its own post.)  Maybe Wes Anderson should get into home decorating instead of film making.

Fantastic Mr. Fox did not pass the Bechdel test.  Apparently 95% of whimsical woodland creatures are male, and the female 5% exist solely in relationship to the males.  Oh I’m sorry, the Meryl Streep fox painted.  That’s character development, right?  I’ll suck up this casual structural sexism when I’m watching Olde Tyme movies, but have little tolerance for wankers churning it out today.

Circus Tightrope

I say Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus while it was running at Film Forum a few weeks ago and just died of happiness. By far the best summer movie I’ve seen in 2010.

I’ve also been listening to Janelle Monae‘s awesome The ArchAndroid a lot this summer, natch.

The Circus made me think of “Tightrope“, and then every time I heard “Tightrope” I revisited The Circus in my head.  So I made the following.  Because I’m a huge nerd.

Tribute to the Prospect Park Geese

One of my favorite calming, life affirming activities is visiting a certain, shaded spot on the edge of the lake in Prospect Park and watching the birds swim to and fro: ducks, swans, and, until recently, geese.  On Thursday morning, July 8, 2010, biologists working with the federal Department of Agriculture rounded up nearly 400 Canada geese, the park’s entire population, and gassed them to death. The mass killing was reportedly part of an effort to limit the geese population withing a seven mile radius of major airports, in light of the emergency landing of a US Airways flight in the Hudson river in January, 2009.  At 6.5 miles from La Guardia and JFK, Prospect Park’s population was a target.  Never mind that the goose who collided with flight 1549 was in transit, not a local resident, highlighting the futility of clumsy attempts to control the chaos of nature.  While Prospect Park’s geese were a dubious threat to “aviation and passenger and property safety” [emphasis mine], a multitude of other birds still fly high.

I went to my favorite bird watching spot Thursday afternoon, and chatted with other park-goers about the strange lack of geese on the lake that day.  I enjoyed feeding the lone duck and swan that swam about, never entertaining the thought that the geese were gone for good.  When I read about what had happened, I thought the news story was a prank.  I couldn’t imagine the entire population had been exterminated in one fell, foul swoop.  It was too scary and sad.

From The Times:

“Elsewhere in the country, nuisance wildlife birds are usually chased away by border collies or firecrackers. But in New York, Ms. Bannerman said, there is no relocation program for the geese, and they must be euthanized.”

I guess as Bannerman cites a statistic that “In New York City, from 1981 to 1999, the population increase was sevenfold” there was suddenly No Time To Waste after all these decades of growth.  Covert ops were obvs in order.  I mean, there was no relocation program already in existence.  Doesn’t mass goose murder seem more efficient than, Idk, starting one? Starting programs is hard and takes money.  I’m sure there are no animal welfare/conservation groups that could have been of any help.

I miss the geese.  I didn’t know what to do with my anger and sadness, so I made a video with some footage I’d shot in my favorite place about a year ago.  Tomorrow I’ll call the Agriculture Department.  No one is taking calls there, now.