Saturday, April 28, 2007

Peace is Radical

When I envision a radical I imagine some paranoid guy living out in the backwoods of Montana, stashing cans of food and piling up machine guns, making homemade bombs in his basement to send through the mail to the folks that are "after him" and pacing impatiently for the end of the world. However, I am wrong. A radical individual is someone who thinks striving for world peace is the correct course of action for humanity. A radical believes that diplomacy should be policy. A radical wants to be educated about world cultures and history and use debate, communication, and discourse as a means to solving the global issues.

Bill Maher Interviews Dennis Kucinich (04/27/07)

In other news, cause you know how I love me some urban renewal, blogdowntown, one of my favorite blogs about Los Angeles, is quoted in an article about downtown Los Angeles by Susan Pigg, a travel writer from the Toronto Star.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Biggest Discussion Taboo: Gun Control

One of my least favorite slogans: Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People. When I hear this moronic statement I want to kill someone, with a gun. No not really. I want to use my fists--- no wait I'm not very strong---I'll use my psychic powers---oh wait I don't have those either. Oh well, I don't really want to kill anyone anyway. But if I did want to kill someone it sure is comforting to know that I can quickly purchase a gun, isn't it?

If you want to have a gun have a gun...but unless you need to kill something or someone really fast you shouldn't be worried about gun control. Well, unless there is something on your record that should prevent you from obtaining a your a psycho. Or, maybe you are just an idiot and actually believe in the slippery slope (oh but then you probably also believe that the US invaded Iraq to fight terrorism).

Democrats are such wimps on the issue of gun control because they are afraid they will lose elections over it and Republicans are in bed with the NRA. And the majority of Americans can't think their way out of a paper bag...wait maybe with guns they can shoot their way out.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

America's Violent Heart: Poetry is Dangerous

This was forwarded to me as an e-mail and I think it is important...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Poetry is Dangerous by Kazim Ali

On April 19, after a day of teaching classes at Shippensburg University, I went out to my car and grabbed a box of old poetry manuscripts from the front seat of my little white beetle and carried it across the street and put it next to the trashcan outside Wright Hall. The poems were from poetry contests I had been judging and the box was heavy. I had previously left my recycling boxes there and they were always picked up and taken away by the trash department.

A young man from ROTC was watching me as I got into my car and drove away. I thought he was looking at my car which has black flower decals and sometimes inspires strange looks. I later discovered that I, in my dark skin, am sometimes not even a person to the people who look at me. Instead, in spite of my peacefulness, my committed opposition to all aggression and war, I am a threat by my very existence, a threat just living in the world as a Muslim body.

Upon my departure, he called the local police department and told them a man of Middle Eastern descent driving a heavily decaled white beetle without of state plates and no campus parking sticker had just placed a box next to the trash can. My car has NY plates, but he got the rest of it wrong. I have two stickers on my car. One is my highly visible faculty parking sticker and the other, which I just don't have the heart to take off these days, says "Kerry/Edwards:For a Stronger America."

Because of my recycling the bomb squad came, the state police came. Because of my recycling buildings were evacuated, classes were canceled, campus was closed. No. Not because of my recycling. Because of my dark body. No. Not because of my dark body. Because of his fear. Because of the way he saw me. Because of the culture of fear, mistrust, hatred, and suspicion that is carefully cultivated in the media, by the government, by people who claim to want to keep us 'safe.'

These are the days of orange alert, school lock-downs,and endless war. We are preparing for it, training for it, looking for it, and so of course, in the most innocuous of places-a professor wanting to hurry home, hefting his box of discarded poetry-we find it.

That man in the parking lot didn't even see me. He saw my darkness. He saw my Middle Eastern descent. Ironic because though my grandfathers came from Egypt, I am Indian, a South Asian, and could never be mistaken fora Middle Eastern man by anyone who'd ever met one.

One of my colleagues was in the gathering crowd,trying to figure out what had happened. She heard my description-a Middle Eastern man driving a white beetle with out of state plates-and knew immediately they were talking about me and realized that the box must have been manuscripts I was discarding. She approached them and told them I was a professor on thefaculty there. Immediately the campus police officer said, "What country is he from?"

"What country is he from?!" she yelled, indignant.

"Ma'am, you are associated with the suspect. You need to step away and lower your voice," he told her.

At some length several of my faculty colleagues were able to get through to the police and get me on a cellphone where I explained to the university president and then to the state police that the box contained old poetry manuscripts that needed to be recycled. The police officer told me that in the current climate I needed to be more careful about how I behaved. "When I recycle?"I asked.

The university president appreciated my distress about the situation but denied that the call had anything to do with my race or ethnic background. The spokesperson of the university called it an "honest mistake," not referring to the young man from ROTC giving in to his worst instincts and calling the police but referring to me who made the mistake of being dark-skinned and putting my recycling next to the trashcan.

The university's bizarrely minimal statement lets everyone know that the "suspicious package" beside the trashcan ended up being, indeed, trash. It goes on to say, "We appreciate your cooperation during the incident and remind everyone that safety is a joint effort by all members of the campus community.

"What does that community mean to me, a person who has to walk by the ROTC offices every day on my way to my own office just down the hall-who was watched, noted,and reported, all in a day's work? Today we gave in willingly and whole-heartedly to a culture of fear and blaming and profiling. It is deemed perfectly appropriate behavior to spy on one another and police one another and report on one another. Such behaviors exist most strongly in closed and undemocratic and fascist societies.

The university report does not mention the root cause of the alarm. That package became "suspicious" because of who was holding it, who put it down, who droveaway. Me. It was poetry, I kept insisting to the state policeman who was questioning me on the phone. It was poetry I was putting out to be recycled.

My body exists politically in a way I can not prevent. For a moment today, without even knowing it, driving away from campus in my little beetle, exhausted after a day of teaching, listening to Justin Timberlake on the radio, I ceased to be a person when a man I had never met looked straight through me and saw the violence in his own heart.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Retail Therapy

The world feels very heavy these days...but the shoes make me feel light.

Sneakers with heels--It's the stuff a short girl's dreams are made of!
(Sugar Shoes Purchased at Neo 39 in Old Town Pasadena)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Five Questions

Noir Bettie interviewed me...

1. What is your favorite thing about Los Angeles?

The Neighborhoods. I've lived in some great ones...Los Feliz, Santa Monica (a city not a hood), Venice (my fav), Culver City (again, another city but you get the point), and Eagle Rock. I sublet a studio once in Brentwood (is this a city?) when Big D and me and the condo in Mar Vista just weren't working out. Silverlake, I think, is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I love that I can play pool and drink beer in Hollywood on a smoggy---I mean hazy--- summer saturday afternoon.

2. Your least favorite thing?

MY FUCKING COMMUTE. Job in West LA. Home in Eagle Rock. I try to shake it up, find new routes (that I won't share) but Los Angeles would be the perfect city if it just extended the metro to Santa Monica

3. What's your favorite card/board/party game?

I'm not a big game player because I am not very competitive but my best friend K and I played a mean Risk game, kicked ass and always played for Brazil ---Viva Brazil!

4. What would be your perfect meal?

I nearly had it...In New Orleans at Stella! I finally got what fusion was all about. I don't want to say it was the perfect meal only because eating is my favorite thing and if I had my perfect meal there would be nothing left to live for. So, I won't know what the perfect meal is until I have it and then I will have to die.

5. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Well, I think this might be it. Not that I don't want to continue to grow (and make more money) and write more-- but sometimes life takes turns you don't expect, couldn't have written.

Let me know if you'd like me to interview you.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Temples and Guns

I work at a school. I live near a school. I spent most of my life in school. My opinion of school is this...schools should be considered the temples of our society and the ground around them should be considered sacred. It seems, at least in Los Angeles, that living near a school is considered a detriment, the bad part of town. My boss's neighbor was recently robbed. When I said, "but you live in such a nice neighborhood" she responded, "Yeah but we are close to (name withheld) high school" to which I responded, "oh".

I am not sure exactly how this connects to the massacre at Virginia Tech only to say that my heart hurts for the families, for the school, for everyone who works or lives near this school.

My sister's husband is a Virginia Tech alumnus. She said he knew those buildings and he said "it was such a peaceful place."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

You Can Call Me A Whore...

...just don't preface it with a racial slur cause then it's not acceptable. I can bet you, oh, say my house, that CBS would not have fired Don Imus from his radio show if he had merely called the Rutgers Basketball Team "ho's", a term I hear from radio, TV, and movies on a daily basis. That is because there is no women's issue leader ala Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, to invoke public outrage on behalf of women that can sway the likes of Procter & Gamble to pull advertising from the likes of Imus, Leykis, etc.

This could be because we as women are ambivalent about the use of derogatory terms used in the mainstream media to describe women. In fact the overt misogyny in mainstream media may have something to do with female appropriation of the language of the oppressor--an ideology that become very popular in the 90's. Perhaps as we became more comfortable as women referring to ourselves as dirty whores, bitches, pussy posses, and even cunts (I have to admit it felt pretty powerful to deflate these words through usage) we also became more comfortable hearing them from the media to describe us--now are we doubly bruised?

Furthermore, women's groups tend to be, like I am, intensely pro freedom of speech. Having fought so hard for our voices to be heard and accounted for, it is antithetical to the women's movement to squelch others. However, public opinion does have the power to dictate public discourse and I often wonder, where is our Al Sharpton, our Jesse Jackson...would anyone have heard this Imus comment or cared if he had said "viking ho's" or "giant bitches"?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Los Angeles Neighborhood Signs

This was fun. LA City Nerd started this flicker group. I took a few of the places around my neighborhood. You can click on my Eagle Rock sign if you would like to see more.

de·pres·sion [di-presh-uhn]

It's starting. It will reach it's full incubation stage at about 4:00 PM on Sunday and just continue throughout the evening and then it will fester until sometime in July.

It's easy for me to find things to like about about my job, all the "right" things, like a decent salary, benefits, and lots of time off, when I am at the beginning of a vacation. But as Sunday approaches and I have to go back, the depression about what I am doing with my life sets in.

And then my parents are stopping through today and tomorrow on their way to a cruise. This doesn't make it any better. They'll spend the time pointing out all the stuff that is wrong with my house and follow that conversation by telling me all the things they need to change with their house (a brand new home that they have decorated and redecorated about 5 zillion times--I'm estimating here--in their two years of living there). Thanks mom and dad and while your at it could you drive a nail in my head and maybe kick big D in the sac a few times?

Thursday, April 5, 2007


My mother always had a dishwasher. Every one of our five billion different houses that I grew up in (cause my parents thought it was a good idea to have their kids change schools every fourth day) had a dishwasher. So, doing dishes meant quick rinse then shove in dishwasher. You see, dishwashers don't only clean dishes they function as a storage unit for dirty dishes.

Every apt. I rented before moving to Los Angeles had a dishwasher. Yes, the trade off for cookie cutter living in the burbs is new appliances. None of my apts in Los Angeles had dishwashers. Then we bought the condo which, despite its flaws, had a dishwasher. And when we got the hell out of the condo, we convinced our landlady of My Innisfree to put one in. Then we bought the house and I thought yeah I can live without a dishwasher for a few years. But no, I can't I Can't I don't want to do one more load of dishes by hand It fucking sucks and if that makes me a spineless wimp of a homeowner of a house that hasn't been updated since 1926 then so be it.

Look, this is the second load from one night's dinner:

and I still have all this to do:

I don't get it. I remember my grandparents having entire Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas dinners for 20 in their home and washing the dishes afterward by hand. Is there some technique I'm missing? A dinner for two can take me days of dishes to clean. How is this possible? I just want a dishwasher. There, I said it. And I don't mean a person to do my dishes (a job I had at a sports bar in vegas when I was a teenager). I want an automatic dishwasher---oh, the luxury.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Humps

Yes, two youtubes in a row makes me a bit of a cheeseout bloggie, but I love that this exposes how totally lame and demeaning the lyrics of this song are. It's something you don't really think about when it's set to it's limpy dancebeat.

I've never been much of an Alanis Morisette fan for several reasons:

  • I hate the way she says her S's. They always come out with a shushy sound that irritates me.
  • I also hate that most of the situations that she sings about in her "Ironic" song are not really examples of irony. They are just things that would not be cool if they happened.
  • It's weird to me that she's married (or was married?) to that sitcom guy--I can't make that one work in my brain and that bugs me.
  • I was a big Sex in the City fan and her episode is not one of my favs so I hate it when that's the rerun waiting for me on TIVO.

Aside from that I think this is funny even if it is in a slightly weird alish sort of way.

Alanis Morisette Video for Fergie's My Humps

Do you ever hear kids sing pop songs and cringe a little at the words that come out of their mouths as they obliviously sing their little hearts out? Moms around the country must draw their fingernails into their minivan seat cushions every time they hear their daughters sing along to My Humps.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bill O'Reilly says "We're the Bad Guys"

Bill O'Reilly cuts mic of US Colonel Ann Wright

Is it just me or is he getting crazier by the minute? Anyway, love to see him get his ass kicked by a woman.