March 2006 Archives
March 28, 2006
Lots of folks are chatting about illegal immigrants in the U.S. lately. You got some people hating on the immigrants, some folks hating on the government and even a few folks hating on the businesses that hire illegal immigrants in the first place.
A few folks, myself included, feel that businesses are responsible for the people they hire and how much they pay them.
In this BusinessWeek article, John Gay, senior vice-president for government relations at the National Restaurant Association, shares his thoughts on the matter:
"We are close to passing an enforcement-only regime that seeks to solve the illegal immigration problem largely on the backs of employers."Regime sounds real scary until you look at the following information.
Political Donations by National Restaurant Association
84% of the $7,482,098 in political donations from this industry association have been made to Republicans over 9 election cycles.
[The National Restaurant Association] supports an increase in the business meal tax deduction...and opposes giving restaurant owners the burden of enforcing tip reporting laws. The association is also active in general business-related issues: It was part of the business-backed Health Benefits Coalition that opposed the Patients’ Bill of Rights; it supports class action reform as a way to reduce what it calls frivolous lawsuits; and it opposes increases in the minimum wage.Sounds like they're looking out for the rights of the worker, huh?
Pew Hispanic Center
Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S.
About 7.2 million unauthorized migrants were employed in March 2005, accounting for about 4.9% of the civilian labor force. They made up a large share of all workers in a few more detailed occupational categories, includingIt occurs to me that businesses that profit from the back-breaking work of the poor (and sometimes, illegal) workforce want to have their American apple pie and eat it, too.
24% of all workers employed in farming occupations
17% in cleaning
14% in construction and
12% in food preparation.
After all, the apples were probably picked by Mexicans.
Many Americans are content to eat that pie, because somebody else will wash their dishes -- in our restaurants and in many cases, our own homes (built or remodeled by immigrants, too).
We've forgotten that working the land is hard, demanding work and that building shit is dangerous and often hazardous.
When the folks doing this kind of work don't speak the same language as you, or look a little-bit brown, it's real easy to overlook issues of wage disparity and worker safety.
Until those brown folks take to the streets.
And then, in a moment that reeks of white people bullshit, people say, "Well....how did this happen?"
Greed. Gluttony. Indifference.
- - - - -
Printed below are the lyrics to a song written about a small town in Kentucky that went through these same issues a century ago. Back in those days, it was the folks fleeing Appalachia that were public enemy number one.
These folks went to work, worked real hard, started doing better for themselves and...well....the mill closed and their jobs went overseas.
It makes me sad, these proud, poor folks who sought comfort in The Almighty -- struck down, eventually, by the almighty dollar.
God bless America, indeed!
You can hear Natalie Merchant's version of the song here.
trad. arr. Natalie Merchant/ Indian Love BrideMusic (ASCAP)
well, I lived in a town
way down south
by the name of Owensboro
and I worked in a mill
with the rest of the “trash”
as we’re often called
as you know
well, we rise up early
in the morning
and we work all day real hard
to buy our little meat and bread
buy sugar, tea, and lard
well, our children
grow up unlearned
with no time to go to school
almost before they learn to walk
they learn to spin and spoon
well, the folks in town
they dress so fine
and spend their money free
but they would hardly look
at a factory hand
who dresses like you or me
would you let them wear
their watches fine
let them wear their gems
and pearly strings
but when that day
of judgment comes
they’ll have to share
their pretty things
March 26, 2006
March 25, 2006
Staring mid-April, St. Louisans can take a bus ride to Chicago, round-trip -- for two dollars.
Now, I gotta see shit to believe it, so I went to Megabus.com
This article from the Chicago Tribune spells out the details.
Aimed at leisure travelers, frugal students and seniors, Megabus.com will operate on a hub-and-spokes model, with Chicago as the center. Starting April 10, motor coaches will make express runs to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Louis.
March 24, 2006
“Bloggers are not news-gatherers, but opinion-mongers. I have long argued that no one should be allowed to write opinion without spending years as a reporter -- nothing like interviewing all four eyewitnesses to an automobile accident and then trying to write an accurate account of what happened. Or, as author-journalist Curtis Wilkie puts it, "Unless you can cover a five-car pile-up on Route 128, you shouldn't be allowed to cover a presidential campaign."Now, I generally agree with Ms. Ivins, but this pisses me off. Yes, that is an opinion. And yes, I will express it.
You see, I am not someone who believes that car crashes are news. If there is an accident on Route 128, I am generally not concerned unless that accident affects someone that I love or if that accident deviates from the common denominator of most car accidents -- which is lousy-ass drivers.
As much as I respect Molly Ivins and the journalists of this world for having an opinion about what they think is news and what they think is responsible cultural commentary, I feel that it is incumbent to remind them that my overly-political, irrelevant, unimportant and potty-mouthed opinion is none of their God-damned business.
Do not dare to presume what I should think, how I should think, where I should think and when I should think it. That is my fundamental problem with white people bullshit.
Quite simply, I have had enough of it!
You see, I am not here offering my words to sell books to you or shill newspapers for my employer.
I am not here to seek the validation or commentary from others (as cool as that is…and occasionally, gets me laid).
I am here simply because I choose to be here. And you are here reading this because you chose to be here. And I fundamentally respect your intelligence, your tolerance of profanity – and more importantly -- your time -- so I’ll wrap this up.
Molly Ivins is pissed that newspaper readership is declining, civic involvement is almost non-existent, political discourse is rabidly dogmatic and that the most commonly agreed-upon issue in America is that Simon Cowell is a bitch.
Blaming the apathetic, disengaged, ill-informed and inconsiderate nature of contemporary American life is not the fault of a few thousand progressive loudmouths who keep clamoring for change.
Rather than dismissing and disregarding our opinions as puerile poppycock, perhaps members of the press who make rent by deciding what you know and when you should know it -- will begin to realize that the world they used to control doesn’t look, act, feel or respond they way it used to...
And that’s my opinion and I fully encourage you to go get your own.
March 23, 2006
Dateline, Irving Texas:
More than 2,200 people have been arrested in Texas bars in the six months since the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced a crackdown on public intoxication, primarily targeting bars.The Dallas NBC affiliate has coverage here, which curiously enough, doesn't mention some of the arrests were hotel guests in hotel bars.
What immediately pops into my head:
1. Do not fall off the wagon in Texas.
2. Poor Sue Ellen
- - - - -
WorldNetDaily.com was reporting on similar activity in Virginia in 2003.
March 21, 2006
I thought I'd share with y'all the results from a few searches at Focus on the Family's Resource Page.
Your search for:
Family resulted in 920 resource matches.
God resulted in 828 resource matches.
Faith resulted in 483 resource matches.
Love resulted in 430 resource matches.
Hope resulted in 271 resource matches.
Truth resulted in 251 resource matches
Jesus resulted in 194 resource matches.
Death resulted in 157 resource matches.
War resulted in 108 resource matches.
Fear resulted in 103 resource matches.
President resulted in 89 resource matches.
Homosexuality resulted in 75 resource matches.
Peace resulted in 49 resource matches.
Politics resulted in 46 resource matches.
Illness resulted in 38 resource matches.
Poverty resulted in 17 resource matches.
Tolerance resulted in 17 resource matches.
Sick resulted in 17 resource matches.
Needy resulted in 7 resource matches.
- - - -
I'm glad to see they have their Biblical priorities in order.
March 20, 2006
A little over a century ago, 200,000 people streamed into Forest Park one spring morning to celebrate the opening of the 1904 World’s Fair. Over the course of seven months, an estimated 19 million people visited this city to see the modern marvels of the day, to celebrate our mastery of the vast, unknown West.
As I biked around the park yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder why the extraordinary monuments that graced The Louisiana Purchase Exposition were not built to last. They were gigantic, modern, spectacular and impressive – and ultimately – disposable. When the fair closed that December, most of the buildings were easily dismantled and quickly discarded.
1,500 buildings spread out over 1,200 acres – majestic palaces and venues of international exhibitionism and fewer than a dozen remain standing today. And there I was, standing at the base of the World's Fair Pavilion, looking up towards this great monument and the puffed-grey clouds, heavy and full, filling the sky.
I looked down and only saw the names of the dead.
Rows and rows of grim gravestones lined the lawn facing the great fountain at the base of the pavilion.
Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi names -- written on sturdy sheets of tombstone-shaped paper, staked into the ground, side by side, row by row.
I’ve been here before, I thought...remembering how it felt the first time I experienced the Names Project…remembering what it was like to be surrounded by thousands of handmade quilts, pieced together to honor and remember the lives taken by AIDS.
We’ve all been here before, I thought…recalling a trip to the Holocaust museum a few weeks ago, where the diaries of the dead and the remnants of the Reich are intertwined, interwoven and inseparable.
These lives lost to war.
As disposable as the monuments to Westward Expansion.
But hopefully, not forgotten.
- - - -
March 16, 2006
Whether you're interested in protesting the war or meeting a cute, undercover FBI agent, you'll certainly have a chance to do both at a Peace Rally this Sunday!
This Democracy Now broadcast points out several cases where the FBI has used our tax dollars to investigate the ACLU as well as The Thomas Merton Center. Yeah....that Thomas Merton: monk, pacifist, writer, scholar.
I feel like I should tie this up with a few bitchy zingers...but I'm saving those for Sunday.
See you at the rally!
"Stop the War - Feed the People"
3rd Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq
World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park
Sunday, March 19th
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Please bring canned goods for distribution to local food pantries.
Panel of featured speakers to include Dr. Rashad Zidan, an Iraqi pharmacist who lives and works in Baghdad. Dr. Rashad has been active in Baghdad and Fallujah through the Women and Knowledge Society, an organization she founded to aid victims of war, especially orphans, and to address the issues of women's education and employment in Iraq.
It's not been a week since I was bitching about local media, so it wouldn't be right if I didn't give a shout out to some St. Louis writers who are finalists for the James Beard Foundation's 2006 Journalism Awards.
Congratulations to them both!
March 15, 2006
Beware the Ides of March or Before It Hits Home
As someone who does not enjoy reading tell-all reviews or watching movie trailers, I often find myself in an predicament whenever I'm in a position to buy a book, go to a play, or watch a movie. I wonder: should I know more before I spend my cash and invest my time?
It is, I suspect, the predicament of living in a CliffsNotes society, where sound bites overwhelm sound storytelling.
More often than not, artistic contributions made to an increasingly hodgepodged culture are:
-- frequently summarized
-- inadequately researched
and then, either discussed in a:
Mash all that up and you have the modern review, which, essentially, is what a lot of folks want to read. Or is it?
Do folks really want to be told what to think before they experience something?
Shouldn’t the work – itself – educate, entertain and inform?
Isn’t it incumbent for those experiencing art to take a moment and reflect on what they’ve seen, read, or observed?
Shouldn’t individuals come to their own ideas about what they’re going to experience or what they’ve just experienced?
I bring this up because last night I went to see an open dress rehearsal of “Before It Hits Home” which opens today at The Black Rep here in St. Louis. I knew the show centered on HIV/AIDS, as the tickets were provided by an AIDS Service Organizations where I have volunteered my time for more than a decade.
I walked into the show feeling all tabula rasa – wanting to be informed, educated and entertained.
And boy, was I.
After the show was over, I turned to my play-mate and said, “Well…it’s about damn-time the Black community addressed AIDS and homophobia.”
And then I came home and started doing some research for this entry.
And I got humble real-damn quick.
- - - - - -
I learned that Spike Lee optioned the play for a movie that is yet to be made.
I learned that Cheryl West also wrote the story for Glitter. Yes. That Glitter.
Now that creates a mountain of fucked-uptitude that is not easy to climb.
For me, it is hard to comprehend that this play addressed the issues that it did, way back in 1989. Written in the days of Silence Equals Death protests, this play pre-dated Red Ribbon lapel pins at swanky affairs. Its eerily foreshadowed title and subject matter was a message to everyone, regardless of race. Still...
It was years before anyone ever mentioned brothers living on the down-low…
It was years before HIV/AIDS was the #1 killer of young Black women…
It was years before Angels in America received accolades and awards …
It was years before Tom Hanks starred in Philadelphia…
And it was certainly years before Heath Ledger was high on a hill as a lonely goatherd...cowboy...shepherd...whatever...
And while “Before It Hits Home” is not the greatest play I’ve ever seen – I am left wondering why it is a play that has been seen by so few, so infrequently?
Homophobia in the black community?
White people bullshit?
17 years after this play was written, I’m left wondering why is it that we fail to take heed of messengers like Cheryl West? Should she have slapped a pair of wings on one of her characters to get somebody’s attention? There’s a character named Angel, after all. Hello, Tony Kushner!
And on this day, being that it is the Ides of March and all, I can’t help but think that theatrical warnings are not only frequently silenced – but remain, largely, unheard.
As this play so poignantly illustrates, it is not what we say that creates the most turmoil and drama in our lives. But it is what’s hidden, what’s private that causes us so much pain. Amidst all the clatter, amidst all the noise, it’s the secretive and the shameful that propel the disquieting narratives of our lives. We fail to heed caution, because caution is not a loud emotion.
It is still. And quiet. And aware. And far too frequently, avoided.
With that in mind – wear a rubber and please to God don’t judge that woman for writing Glitter.
Shit...we all gotta pay rent.
March 14, 2006
Over the weekend, I felt a need to smart-off on this blog after reading about the folks from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality getting into-it with the American Psychological Association.
The APA is "attempting to declare therapy to modify sexual orientation unethical" and they won't validate NARTH's works as "scientific."
I made this comment:
The folks from NARTH are the same folks Dr. James Dobson, his cronies at Love Won Out and the folks from Exodus turn to legitimize their stance that homosexuality should be treated as "sin management."And some ding-dong e-mailed me:
And that's fine by me as a religious opinion about what to do if you're gay. Pray it away all you want to -- but does this notion of Christ-focused therapy (and most of it comes from a very Fundamentalist Christian viewpoint, I might add) need to be endorsed by the APA?
If gay folks can be "cured" by Christianity, who's to say what sort of reparative Christian therapy is next to be promoted as "science"?
Maybe your unruly Jewish children just need Jesus?
Maybe your mentally ill Muslim mother doesn’t need therapy as much as she needs Christian salvation?
There’s a very fine line between being religiously observant and applying those principles to your psychiatric practice and being a manipulative, religious zealot imposing your religious viewpoint on your clientele to “make them better.”
It’s a slippery and dangerous slope.
Gosh...just think!!! Maybe the lame could WALK!!! Maybe the BLIND could see !!!! Maybe LEPERS could be made clean !!! Maybe those struggling with Homosexuality could be delivered from their anguish and pain !!!! There's probably no limit to what this Christianity can "Cure". We better put a stop to this right now !!! There's no such thing as SIN and every sinner knows it ! Rob, you have a problem with God, ( just like every other man ) and He's waiting on you to come discuss it with Him...I replied:
I would say thank you for writing, but the tone of your letter was a bit creepy and menacing. If you are trying to be God's messenger, I suggest being a little less sarcastic and hateful.And his reply:
Let me say it as simply as I can: I have no problem with God.
It's just that your Christ is not my Jesus.
I wish you peace and joy in your life.
Peace and Joy? There doesn't appear that either of these things reside with you. How can you possibly offer something to someone else which you don't possess yourself ? The offer stands. Try Jesus Christ.Truth be told -- I tried his Jesus once.
It tasted like chicken.....
March 9, 2006
Yesterday, I noticed that the Riverfront Times looks slightly different.
That's the trouble with judging a book by its cover. A new dust jacket doesn't mean the words inside have changed.
Sadly, it's still chock-full of hooker ads and snarky, bitchy articles about employees at the Post-Dispatch being dicked-around by the Iowa-based corporation that bought St. Louis' daily newspaper last year.
But it sure does look different!
Add to that, the new and improved RFT website is extra super-fancy, too! It offers a comprehensive, all-in-one RSS feed, flashy pop-up windows and other features that, oddly enough, made me think of Sauce Magazine.
But surely the RFT wouldn't alter their editorial focus, marketing strategy or graphic design in response to a truly independent newspaper offering better stories and more interesting articles. Certainly the RFT would not do that. Or would they?
That sounded bitchy. And I guess it was. But sadly, I doubt it's true. The RFT's new design is reflected across most (if not all) of the paper's sister publications nationwide. And like the Duff's and the Simpson's of this world -- there's even more annoying sisters to deal with these days!
Somehow, I missed the news in January that the RFT's owners had changed names from New Times to Village Voice Media after this merger went through. I guess the "Village Voice Media" masthead makes the company seem more austere and independent, huh?
Like this parade of logos represents a company that's somehow different from the conglomerate that now owns the Post.
Here's an article about the merger, for those of you who give a shit about media ownership.
And for those of you who find it odd that the RFT's writers seem to relish writing stories about the employees of the Post-Dispatch not getting their paychecks, let's hope the day comes when folks like myself aren't writing stories about folks at the RFT getting royally screwed when the next generation of media mergers take place.
And trust me - they will. The mergers and the screwing.
Let's hope that it won't be as ugly as what we're seeing these days.
But I kinda doubt it.
Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, "unpatriotic" by a bunch of rightwingers.
Take "unpatriotic" and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? "Unpatriotic"? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.
This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass.
March 8, 2006
Tonight I had my second guitar lesson where I learned how to string my guitar - the wrong way and the right way.
And by that I mean I had to return to the guitar store and buy some more strings after a mishap that nearly put someone's eye out. Talk about being wound too tight.
My teacher is quite patient with me -- considering at one point my histrionics were even getting on my nerves.
Teacher: Your fingers should go...here. Feel that?
Me: That hurts.
Teacher: Try this. How about that?
Me: Why are you doing this to me?!?
Teacher: Put your hand....here.... Yes! That's good.
Me: That's just...unnatural!
Like I haven't had that conversation before -- but this time with more enjoyable results.
March 7, 2006
I am so behind the times.
It was just a few weeks ago that I heard somebody talking about being addicted to Sudoku. At first, I thought this person was trying to say "Sudafed" and was just too strung-out to say it right.
Then, upon some reflection, I wondered if Sudoku was a young-person's term for some street drug that I didn't know?
And my ignorance was a pure moment of bliss.
You see, I was glad my crazy, been-there-done-that ass didn't know what they were talking about. It would have been, had my latter assumption been right...a first.
I nodded, smiled and quickly went about my way. Very quickly. This is Missouri, y'all. Some hot mess will knock you over the head with her pocketbook for a stray red pill.
Or an ounce of fertilizer, for that matter.
So, I came home and via the magic of Google's toolbar, learned that Sudoku is a number game that has captured the minds of young and old alike. Apparently, it's quite addictive, making it much like Missouri's #1 drug export -- without the teeth rotting, brain-frying consequences.
How nice for them, I thought and quickly navigated my browser to Democracy Now for my daily fix. I don't need any more habits to break, whether they're mathematical, pharmaceutical or geo-political.
A Cornell University physics professor has made a major discovery: an algorithm developed to process X-ray diffraction data also solves Sudoku puzzles.Now, I don't know what the hell any of that means. Shit...all I know is that when Seven of Nine's cybernetic Borg implants malfunctioned, she used an algorithm to lock down the holodeck. That's what I know about math and science: hot chicks in cat-suits.
So...I went to the professor's webpage where I learned:
My professional trajectory reads Caltech → Berkeley → Bell Labs → Cornell. If you are observant, you will have noticed the symmetry, both in initial letters (C B B C), and word lengths (7 8 8 7)Umm.
March 6, 2006
Here's my take on the Oscars.
- - - - -
Well-planned and Executed (2004).
So hot. So cold.
Look at me, too.
Happy. Lucky. Frumpy. Mad.
A dress unraveled. The perfect shoe.
Grey eyes. Pink tongue. Filled teeth.
Silver eye. Forked tongue. Fake teeth.
March 2, 2006
..and what's a girl like Cindy supposed to do?
March 1, 2006
God Bless Vivienne Westwood's crazy (and frequently bustled) ass!
Wearing two sparkling little devil's horns in her bright red hair, Westwood told reporters she wanted to raise attention to the case of Leonard Peltier, a American Indian activist convicted for the 1975 killings of two FBI agents.You can learn more about Leonard Peltier here -- or download his interview (as MP3) from Democracy Now's website by clicking here!
"Leonard Peltier is innocent. He's been in jail for 30 years now," Westwood said, pointing to the invitation letter for her show, featuring a blue penis with wings and the word "Innocent."
"The Greek penis is a good luck sign. It suits Leonard, because if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time and you get arrested, maybe you're getting jailed for the rest of your life. So you need good luck not to be a criminal," she said.
-- Everyone's a "Suspect" fashion hat, jacket or tee