Saturday, August 29, 2009

August 29, 2009

Today an interesting split of emotions. It is the 51st birthday of the King of Pop. It is the funeral of the Lion of the Senate. 

I wasn't alone in sharing these feelings.

These are a couple of images from the DJ Spinna/Spike Lee Tribute to Michael Jackson in Prospect Park, Brooklyn today.

More later.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from bellewetherstate's posterous

Friday, August 28, 2009

Design of Decade #4

By now, most people should know that I love Radiohead more than... maybe more than Biggie.

This track is from Amnesiac, which was released in June 2001. I've listened to this track over an embarrassing amount of times. But that's not the point, the point is that this week is the first time I ever watched this video. And I'm so surprised that my imagination of the sound and movement with this song mirrors the action with the video. I imagined a figure reversing in space, and spirals of light.

I'm writing about post 9/11 New York. It's challenging. A lot of writers have tried and will continue to try to write a record of our lives during this period. I can't think of a better soundtrack to write to in order to tease out meaning in our lives then and now.

This is entry #4 of my design of decade collection of material that lives in the muck of my consciousness.

Posted via web from bellewetherstate's posterous

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Design of Decade #3

It's the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This is a clip from the documentary Trouble The Water. If you haven't seen this film, you should Netflix it now. It's an intimate narrative that centers around a husband and wife with home video of those waters that overtook the Ninth Ward when the levees failed.

Posted via web from bellewetherstate's posterous

Monday, August 24, 2009

Of Boabab Trees, Nutrition, and Marketing #365black

Does anyone remember seeing this? From Boondocks, July 23, 2005.

Posted via web from bellewetherstate's posterous

"So live, that you might desire to live again…

Eternity is worth it… Let us stamp the form of eternity upon our lives… This life is your eternal life." - Nietzsche

Woke up thinking about eternal recurrence and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

"If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.

But the heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden the closer our lives come the earth, the more real and truthful they become. 

Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. 
What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?... The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all."

This book changed my life.

Posted via email from bellewetherstate's posterous

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Mad Men Obsession Continues...

I just caught up to the rest of the world and I saw this Vanity Fair article on Mad Men.

Honestly, I've not read the article yet because I'm loving the photographs. I mean, seriously, just look at them:

Annie Liebovitz's photos are stunning. Sort of a Norman Rockwell throwback quality to them. These images are a little genteel by comparison. However, if you can dig back into your memory, or perhaps you might have missed W Magazine's photo essay with Brad and Angelina.

Both sets are extremely narrative. However, Steven Klein's photos show a menace in marriage that lies beneath the surface. There's a softer hint of tension with the images of Mad Men protagonists, Betty and Don. I love both sets. I think by default, my generation is still captured by the imagination of life in 1960s America.

I don't know. I've been thinking about marriage a lot lately, particularly because I'm revising a short story of my own that has a character looking side-eyed at it.

Maybe it's time to read more Yates.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Woodstock Music and Art Fair, August 15-18, 1969

Ladies and Gentlemen, Richie Havens' Freedom.

Health Care Reform Debate Round-Up

DSC_4408, originally uploaded by indigo_belle (bellewetherstate).

Yesterday, I kind of lost my shit on Twitter about Health Care Reform.

I shared with the twitterverse and now here, that I worked as an intern for Senator Russ Feingold (D, WI) during summer of 1994. As most of you may remember, that was round one of the Health Care Reform debate. That summer left a mark on my psyche, so much so that I mention it perhaps a bit much. It taught me a lot about how important it is to be an active citizen, pushing your representatives to act courageously on your behalf to shape policy.

And while I'm certain that I'm not alone in trying to tease out facts from rhetoric, I feel that I should be a little redundant and post some links that help anyone who comes across this post to get some informed insight that I found helpful. I'm unapologetically left leaning in my sources, but I'm loathed to find facts on the side of the right that merit posting.

The Atlantic Monthly.

Bob Herbert NYT Op-Ed.

Paul Krugman NYT Op-Ed.

The Rachel Maddow Show.

Rachel Maddow also points to Matt Taibbi's latest article in Rolling Stone.

Howard Dean at the Netroots Conference last week.

Michael Lux on the stategery.

President Obama's Op-Ed. Admittedly, his piece really is a plea for reform, but lacks specificity and the hard push that will lead to a Public Option.

Former Education Secretary Robert Reich.

My new favorite blog, PostBourgie simple and elegant summation.

My favorite MFA classmate also pointed me to the latest issue of Harpers, which for some unknown reason is trapped in the nether regions of snail mail.

I think if you believe in Health Care Reform, which really is a bill that's about regulation, it's worth taking the time to read these sources to help inform you on the debate. Admittedly, I got distracted by the squeaky wheels of the fringe parts of the conservative movement that I lost focus. And if we're truly entering a new generation of politics, and that our society is fully embracing a generational shift from the old order, then I must remember the wisdom from the 44th President of the United States, 'We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.'

I hope he remembers too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Want My Country Back

I'm not sure which America she's talking about either.

To be honest, I find these town hall meetings distressing. Grown ass people are practically throwing tantrums over a social reform agenda that they'd in all likelihood would benefit from. Most of these folks appear to be part of a socio-economic class that gives them health care, but still would lack adequate coverage if they were inflicted with a serious illness.

Rachel Maddow did an excellent account of the strategy or, strategery behind these town hall disruptions. Reasonable people can see through the menagerie and recognize that this is in fact, a politically orchestrated effort.

These details notwithstanding, it's still important to parse out language here.

This rally cry of 'I Want My Country Back', 'I Want My America Back' or some of my other favorite invocations, 'socialism', the Obama/Hitler analogies, ---the 'birthers', and good lord, the 'deathers'--- just drips with racism. I don't say this flippantly, but the supposed fringe parts of the conservative movement have invented so many ways to say nigger it's ridiculous. The language is loaded is white racism that it would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge it.

However, in acknowledging racism in language is dangerous territory. When you're trying to coax people to the middle ground, acknowledging racism shuts down communication. People get tongue-tied and lock-jawed on old narratives. They get angry, hurt and defensive. They feel guilty. They stop listening. They act out. No one wants to be seen as a bad person. I think what I'm getting at is that intent behind words like socialist in relation to the Obama Administration's policies doesn't sit well. I'm not sure if these folks know what socialism is. I think these words get tossed around and sits on tips of tongues without full awareness of the historic implications behind them.

I'm not sold on health care reform as it stands either. I'm in desperate need of concrete details from Congress and the White House. But I live in a democracy. I understand that the point of town hall meetings provides me with access to my elected representatives to listen to differing points of view that may ultimately (or so I hope) influence public policy to the benefit of my community. Shouting down anyone to the point that nothing is discussed isn't free speech or democratic. It's stupid. It's selfish.

The left or anyone who was opposed to the Bush Administration certainly felt put out about the direction of the American experiment. I certainly felt that we were falling in a pattern that didn't represent the values that our nation purported to uphold. I protested the Iraq War, and I could look to the left and right of me and see a broad based coalition of like minded people who felt as I did. I don't imagine if town halls were held to levy support for the war six years ago, the left would be shouting down those who supported it. I don't think we'd burn Bush in effigy.

While I can appreciate opposition to health care reform and that the extremes of the opposition may very well constitute a minority of the total population, I cannot ignore the pejorative nature of their critique. There's bloodlust behind those words.

I want my country to find the middle ground.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pastime Paradise

I posting this as a stub.

As I was reading this post by TNC, my iTunes DJ randomly landed on this classic track. I don't believe in coincidences. As the summer presses on, and our national debate centers around flash point issues of health care reform and race. Within those two issues are layered complexities of class and the shadow side of our American heritage.

I can't remember who said it last year during the campaign, if it was a pundit, an analyst or Michelle Obama, but with advent of Candidate and President Obama, someone said, 'Now we'll find out how racist this country really is.' That sentiment loops through my head as I try to sort through the barrage information and misinformation.

If you haven't watched Alexandra Pelosi's documentary, I think it's worth at least a once over. I don't feel that she necessarily presented these folks in the most objective light, but given the growing populist right resentment towards a reform agenda government complicated by their racial animus, maybe she wasn't so far off.

There's a fine line between discourse and disruption. A fine line between civil disobedience and sociopathy.

More later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Social Contract

It's a common thread in the narrative of black and brown people in America.

Bob Herbert's column in the Times today highlights some key points. Police interaction with communities of color, and people of color, cuts to the marrow. It doesn't matter if you're Ivy league educated or the average street negro, all brown boys in America have a story about being pulled over or stopped by cops simply because the color of their skin. It's more than a scene in an Oscar winning film.

Over the weekend, I found that we were still talking about it. Over brunch, another friend expressed her rage as best a poet can, saying simply, 'Am I to believe then, that their blue line is worth more than my blood?' An implied deference to law enforcement, without any accountablity to the people they are sworn to serve and protect seems to violate the social contract. Or should I infer from all of these stories that we were never party to that social contract?

Again, I could put it to rest, but then I came across this in my readings today. From Ross Gay's collection of poems, Against Which,(Cavankerry Press, 2006). I'm hoping he doesn't mind my posting it here. It struck nerves.

Pulled Over in Short Hills, NJ 8:00AM

It's the shivering. When rage grows
hot as an army of red ants and forces
the mind to quiet the body, the quakes
emerge, sometimes just the knees,
but, at worst, through hips, chest, neck,
until, like a virus, slipping inside the lungs
and pulse, every ounce of strength tapped
to squeeze words from my taut lips,
his eyes scanning my car's insides, my eyes,
my license, and as I answer the questions
3, 4, 5 times, my jaw tight as a vice,
his hands massaging the gun butt, I
imagine things I don't want to
and inside beg this to end
before the shiver catches my
hands, and he sees,
and something happens.

Copyright © 2006 by Ross Gay

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Gentle Reminder

"The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth have probably the fullest poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem. In the history of the earth hitherto the largest and most stirring appear tame and orderly to their ampler largeness and stir. Here at last is something in the doings of man that corresponds with the broadcast doings of the days and night. Here is not merely a nation but a teeming nation of nations."

-Walt Whitman

What's On My Mind

At least according to Wordle: