Friday, February 18, 2011

Poem Blog: On a Bird of Steel and Souls

Taking off at night in the rain.
Dissolving into dark to leave
the drops beneath you.

Sleeping beauties snore on
condensation collecting up
on plexi making up our
bird of steel and souls.

Sitting next to strangers
munching on their peanuts
wrapped in crinkly paper,
lulling you to sleep to sleep.

While pilots care for buttons
that drive us into darkness
o'er moisture falling to the earth
you sleep and sleep and sleep.

And the boy who's wearing Converse
is the stranger sitting. Simply
put, he's noticed all the sleeping and he's
watched you sleep for hours.
He'll catch your eyelid flutter
and he'll dream about your dreaming
while tunneling through darkness
on a bird of steel and souls.

And you are one and he is one
and nothing will be done about the
souls that hope that buttons work
and eyelids flutter to the tune of
crinkly paper held by sitting strangers
who are one and one and one.

All while just dissolving.
Dissolving into darkness
on a bird of steel and souls.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

History of Weed

This video, produced by Showtime, gives an excellent and brief history of weed.

But now here's something the adorable video doesn't cover. They mention that Federal Law bans marijuana in 1937 - the question, at least for today my loves, is why? Why is marijuana illegal?

And the answer is long and complicated. So, shall we...?

State restrictions on marijuana were first created to target Mexicans after many started to migrate to the western United States after a revolution in 1910. Pete Guithar ( mentions a Texan Senator who is quoted on the floor saying "All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy."

In the eastern United States, racism strikes again, as marijuana takes another hit. This time, however, the target is Black Jazz Musicians and Latin Americans.  Guithar quotes a 1934 newspaper editorial: "Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice".

Over a few years the groundwork was laid for the American Anti-Marijuana movement whose roots were in racism. An effective marijuana smear campaign began which included some really excellent (albeit fictional) stories about assassins who commit genocide while under the influence of marijuana and of course this little 1936 gem:

(italian subtitles?)

Then let's not forget that alcohol was illegal during Prohibition, 1919 - 1933 and in 1930 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and director Harry J. Anslinger (under the Department of Treasury, not-so-oddly enough) came onto the scene which began the all out war against marijuana.

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.  
~H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, 1956

The government continued to put out a lot of propaganda to several generations about marijuana and it's effects. Seven years after Aslinger took office, a Federal law was passed prohibiting the use of marijuana. While not as much as perhaps in the 1930s, we've grown up with anti-marijuana propaganda.

Now if you continue the rest of the adorable movie from the top you'll see that marijuana became legalized as medical in California in 1993 and is now the number one cash crop in the state. Marijuana is on the move in America once again.

Like it or not, smoke it or don't - it is interesting how involved and political this little plant has been and continues to be. It's interesting how this little plant has be used for political gain or organized oppression or to relieve pain or occasionally to get high and hang on the beach.

Catch ya on the flip side, Riff Raff.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Disney Princess Complex

I know that I said a history of feminism through Disney would be a yawnfest. I lied - get over it. Moving forward:

1937 - Snow White - There simply could not be a more helpless woman than Snow White. A serious victim complex, she'll simply wait for a man to show up and save her. In the meantime, she'll happily clean and cook for the seven half-sized men. Oh yeah, the only other woman she's ever known is trying to kill her. Feminist Score: 0 

1950 - Cinderella - Cinderella is also pretty lame. Her life sucks because her father died. What's a girl to do without a daddy? But she doesn't worry too much because she knows a man will find her and save her (which of course, he does). I'll give her props for growing a pair and going to the Prince's ball - but I'd hardly call her a role model for young women. Oh yeah, and besides for the old magic lady, every woman she knows is trying to enslave her, force her to sleep by the fire, and call her stupid names like Cinderella. Feminist Score: 1

1959 - Aurora - She's in the movie for less than 18 minutes or something and all she manages to do is dream about a man who eventually will save her from the utter boredom that is her loser life, because she is incapable of doing something herself. Then when she finally gets out, she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and has to wait (albeit, this time unconsciously) for a dude to tongue rape her. Awesome, Aurora. Nailed it. The movie gets one feminism point because the fairies didn't know how to cook or sew. Feminist Score: 1

No one even went to see that stupid Princess. The box office was so low that the Disney Princess idea was boxed for twenty years.

1989 - Ariel - Finally we get to see a fish with a little spunk. She has the guts to disobey her pops and seek the fat purple sea witch (4th female villain for anyone who is keeping count) for a pair of legs, but at the end of the day she's just as bad as the others. Short of sewing her mermtwat shut, Ariel does everything for her beau even gives up her family, home and friends - for a guy she met for about 6.7 seconds. Feminist Score: 4

1991 - Belle - Compared to some of her predecessors, Belle was straight up femme-nazi. She pushed the town hottie into a puddle of mud, she liked to read, and is all about needing "more than this provincial life". Belle bravely stands up to the Beast and saves her father's life... oh yeah, but then falls swooning in love with her captor. Disney just can't help themselves but to make these women pant like a dog in heat. Feminist Score: 8

1992 - Jasmine - I'll go ahead and give Jasmine a perfect score for rocking the sensible pant suit. Feminist Score: 10

1995 - Pocahontas - To be honest, I don't really remember this movie that much. I feel like she was pretty awesome, though. She was brave and stood up for herself and her people and her land. She educated the white man and had a good relationship with her dad and stuff. I'm pretty sure she ended up single in the end right? Anyway Feminist Score: NA

1998 - Mulan - Mulan was radical bra-burning lesbian... well, sort of. Not feeling the Geisha thing, she was not about to sit idly by and let her old father go to war, so she cut her hair (so G.I. Jane) and dressed up like a dude and joined the army. She trained with the men and fought alongside them. She single-handedly defeats the Hun Army not once, but twice, and proves that women are equal to men - if not a little better, actually. Feminist Score: 13 (Out of 10)

2009 - Tiana - This girl was the first black Princess and the first to have a job - unless you count being a Princess as a job, which I do not. And even when she did become a princess, she still had a job - albeit a bit more kushy. You go, girl! Feminist Score: 10

2011 - Rapunzel - Guys, this movie was freaking awesome. If you haven't seen it, what the hell are you doing reading my blog? Go. See it. Now.

I desire to make a point about little girls and role models and movies they watch and feminine characters, but I can't seem to find the words and more to the point, I don't feel like locating them. After reading all of this perhaps consider yourself armed, at least a little, to find the your words and pass it on yourself.

And I'll leave you tonight, with this: Tinkerbell, while not a Disney Princess, was fashioned to look like Marilyn Monroe.

"Happy Birthday, Mr. President."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Movement Without a Name

It's a movement without a name. Some call it the "Gay Rights Movement". Some call it the "LGBT Equality Movement". Some call it the "Civil Rights Movement of our Generation". But whatever you call it, someone is bound to get upset. Someone is bound to feel left out.

The longest I've ever heard is LGBTQQIAA - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Allied. I'm sure someone could tell me a few that I am missing.

I've had many conversations about the inclusivity, or lack their of, of the word "gay", "queer", "LGBT", including "Intersex", and of course the more general affliction of the public not having any idea what you're talking about. I've argued the arguments for radical inclusivity for the sincere forward progression of the Movement-Who-Knows-No-Name and on the other hand I've sometimes felt that it silly to try and be so PC.

For the most part, and in my little mind, I find the conversation fascinating. All of these dutifully thoughtful communicators frantically trying to appease emotionally charged opinions by using the most politically correct term. But if using the most politically correct term is the solution, then what is the problem?

I'm far from the first to say that we're are obsessed with labels. As the fear of the unknown is so inherent, the ability to define gives great comfort... and sometimes it's terribly useful. Labels, en masse, give us the ability to communicate. For example, the ability to communicate idea of a fleshy red fruit about the size of your fist, known to everyone who speaks the English language as the word "apple", is quite useful.

But what about the need to define ourselves, our sexuality, our identity, and each other? Despite their initial comfort, is there a detriment to labels? Are we limiting ourselves and our potential experience because of our need to label?

I often wonder how many "gay" men are actually "bisexual", but since society approves of "bisexual" men even less than they approve of "gay" men, the "bisexual" men, and their sensitive libidos, are socially swayed to believe they must be "gay". Did you catch all of that? Look, I don't like the idea that my penis has been brainwashed anymore than you do... but it's something to think about, Riff Raff.

A better alternative to sexual identity labels is, of course, the Kinsey Scale. But Kinsey's ideas have been around since 1948 and yet we don't, in general society, put people on a scale of 1 - 6, let alone give people the ability to change (heaven forbid) their sexual preference from day to day. This is only one example of how we are limiting our potential experience.

Out of the sexual identity sphere we have the label of "God" and "Love" and "Family" which open up entirely different cans of worms.

So what I am trying to say, and perhaps rather poorly, is this: When it comes to labeling our sexual identity, maybe we should just chillax a little bit.

And it seems that some pockets of the younger generation are starting to do just that. Since being LGBTQQIAA isn't as tabboo as it once was, there is - certainly not everywhere - less pressure to hide homosexual or bisexual tendencies. Today, people are more able to openly talk and experience a more sexually liberated agenda and therefore their sexual identity and preferences, whatever they may be, are able to mature more organically.

The world is changing so rapidly right now, Riff Raff.

Scatterdly Today [Hey, I'm aloud],

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Search for a Soul

Yes, yes. It's been a while since last I posted. You see, I actually have been attempting to write an article about what I call the "Disney Princess Complex" and a small history of feminism throughout the classic Disney movies. I started it three times and deleted everything I wrote. It was such a yawnfest that I've decided to move on.

I wonder about this here blog. I wonder about this here life. What the hell am I doing? Where am I going? What did I want to be when I grew up? At 27, am I grown up? I know that these questions are useless, but can I live without them? Can I exist without doubt? I've had every job under the cliché sun. I've worked on a farm. I've worked as a waiter/bartender/cocktailer. I've been a community organizer and activist. I was an actor in New York. I was an improv comedian in Los Angeles. I've taught a workshop at Princeton. I've been a personal assistant. I've been a secretary. I've worked as a concierge manager. I've produced online video content. I've edited reels and trailers for documentaries. I worked at a historical society. I've written a lot - but what the hell am I doing now? And what should I do next?

And there is also a shocking reality, that I am learning to come to terms with, that life doesn't always work out. And it seems that we have little control of what happens, what comes up, and where things end up. So why all the questions? Why all the soul searching?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a happy, fun-loving guy. I've got some great things going for me. I'm madly in love. But even at my happiest moments, I can't seem escape the goddamn questions. Can anyone? If so, please send some advice right away.

And then I look at some examples:

My mom, whom I greatly admire, has had quite a bizarre career path. After high school she went straight into the Army where she met my dad. I remember when I was young and she was getting her college degree. I remember when she worked at Mrs. Fields cookie company in the mall and when she started her own small business as a photographer. Years later, she's now a Dean at one of the best boarding schools in the world and she spends her free time working on a house that she and my dad built together that they call their "Little Piece of Heaven". Life is by it's nature unexpected, turbulent, and awesome.  

So why not just be happy, Riff Raff? Why all of the questions?

A friend recently told me that a major shift happens between the ages of 27 and 29. Before that, we look AT the world. We see the challenge and we, or at least I, ran towards it headstrong and confident. After 27/29, the moons of Saturn shift or something something something and we see ourselves IN the world. We are amidst the challenge and we strive to deal with our existence. 

Or perhaps she's wrong. Perhaps we're all free-falling. Perhaps the moons don't matter. Perhaps there is no God. Perhaps we just live until we die and perhaps there is no such thing as a soul. Perhaps it's all coincidence. Perhaps we're wrong about morality, about judgement, and about everything. 

Or perhaps we're on this road for a reason. Perhaps our destiny awaits. I suppose we choose our reality. We perceive our life and all we have is our perception. We choose a path or a path chooses us but we cannot foresee the outcome. 

Enough of this soul-searching. It's silly. 

Or is it?