i was reminded by chris of the ongoing loss of public space. with the cell phone the public phone becomes yet another private commodity. a seemingly small object with profound losses. i too find myself biking and walking further distances to find a pay phone. and it seems when they break they do not repair them. pay phones have been used for social control in the past (making it impossible to enter pager numbers and the like) and now they this social control is increased by keeping people off the streetcorner or wherever pay phones are all together. i can easily make the leap from the loss of the pay phone to the loss of public transportation to the loss of urban and community life. we can all be nicely segregated from each other in our cars, on our cell phones, living in fear and never knowing anyone different from ourselves. and yet i have never feel as happy as i do riding my bike, talking to strangers, looking for that next payphone. it is sad where capitalism sends people searching for happiness.
and what about the fact that blockbuster videos is phasing out vhs tapes in favor of the dvd? next fight...against the dvds. another things we must have: alleged better quality, director's cuts. ugh.
on wednesday night, dean and i went to the coup show at SOBs. T-Kash opened with some tight rhymes from his new album called homecoming. at one point, he asked the crowd, "did yall have a good thanksgiving?" and after a group murmur, yelled "fuck that!" and proceeded to lace the mic (with M1 from dead prez) with an amazing track about corporate, racist holidays.
boots (from the coup) then took the stage with the hottest/hypest band EVER, jumpin right into his new album's title track "5 million ways to kill a CEO". they kicked tracks from old albums (Kill My Landlord'93 and Steal This Album '98) and the newest (Party Music'01). the crowd shook ass to "wear clean draws", a song boots wrote to drop some wisdom for his daughter - "tell your teacher i said princesses are evil/ how they got all they money is they killed people." the coup's infamous DJ, pam the funktress, rocked the party with all smiles and beautiful scratch.
and just when you think it couldn't get better, the coup's thank you list in Party Music includes "all the organizers of the world...for building a movement that will eventually stop the legal thievery and murder that is called capitalism." in oakland, boots is known as quite the organizer himself. at the show, he reminded the crowd that the US gov't has NEVER been about the people and that folks they've met on tour all across the country are against the war on afghanistan. the government and the media lie, he said, and we need to fight (to win).
check out the article that inspired me to obsession, "boots from the coup" by pete mommsen at blumag.com.
don't miss chris' spicy reply to my cell phone rant.
i've finally written down some of the mumurings you've all been hearing for a long time from me about cell phones. read it, write back, let me know what you think. you can find it by clicking here.
I just added a link to the transmissions page. It's a paper called mutilating gender i wrote about my struggle to get medical authorization to have chest reconstruction surgery. its long and theoretical but hopefully not too boring. i think that surgery is one of the things that freaks out non-trans people most about trans people, and the paper grapples with a lot of what goes on in that misunderstanding. its also about what it means to have a political condition (gender) be medicalized. have a look, tell me what you think, make editing suggestions, etc. i apologize for the formatting problems: i wanted to use a program to format it so that the footnotes would be links and you could jump back and forth to them, but the program has some quirks i don't know how to work out. its readable, if not beautiful.
I've just posted somenew links on the transmissions page. Most exciting to me is the link to Community Awareness for Transgender Support, a Texas organization that started a homeless shelter for trangender people. I am so inspired to see a trans organization prioritizing the needs of low-income trans people, rather than the more common campaigns for hate-crimes laws and anti-discrimination measures. Also have a look at the Gender Talk Radio Archive, where you can listen to radio programs featuring some of your favorite trans and intersex activists (if you don't have favorites yet, there is still time to develop them!).
This weekend, makezine attended the Globalization and Resistance Conference at CUNY, where we took in workshops on free trade and the welfare state and how to link anti-capitalist and anti-war organizing. All while avoiding eye contact with the myriad people trying to get us to buy socialist newspapers. As with all conferences, the best moments were between events, pushing the conversations further with friends.
Despite my confusion about various dogmatic debates, I enjoyed the talks on globalism, the state and imperialism. One speaker posited, roughly, that states should be understood not as legal, but rather as epistemic and symbolic entities. Therefore he pointed towards the resurgence of popular expressions of patriotism as evidence of the continued relevance of the nation-state: our identification with it is its relevance.
While I enjoyed the challenges of these arguments, they reminded me of what queer, feminist and radical race theory have to offer to the social sciences. Because these theories lead me to the notion that "flag-waving" (to take a particularly salient example) does not carry the same symbolism in all contexts. To wave the flag signifies complex meanings that may inform american nationalism, but are not fuly contained within it. The american flag stands also for Christian morality and for whiteness. The flag stands in particular for middle-america, for the heartland -- or should we say, Homeland.
I simply wish to point out that waving a flag does not always and only mean "I'm proud to be an american," but also expresses white supremacy, heteronormative formations of family, and Christian fundamentalism; waving the flag does more than align oneself with the state. In this sense, nationalism is a language and metaphor that can be deployed to mobilize relations of power that exceed a model of citizenship and statehood.
My comments come from a concern in seeing socialist positions continually re-formulated to externalize questions of race and gender. If we base activist strategies on theories that suggest we can simply tack-on queerness and foreigness after the fact, how can we hope to do anything but replicate inequities? While the social theory boys are duking it out over Lenin and Engels, all us others find ourselves once again with the task of pointing out that messy, unpredictable thing we call power.
Donnie Darko, what do you see? What will take place in the future, and how do we get back?
Dean's sister Lis is in town, and we three spent a meandering day, folding zines over breakfast, taking in the beautifully creepy Janet Cardiff show at PS1, discussing documentary photography (and its limits) and the occupation of Palestine. We rounded the day off with a trip to the movies to see Donnie Darko, a deep and smart film about adolescence and mental illness, about the surfacing self and messy edges of language. Why aren't there more movies like this?
Speaking of which... for folks in New York, next week is the Mix Festival, a weekend of video and film and other things queer and edgy. Check it out.
I take the lack of discussion regarding Michael Bloomberg's purchase of the New York City mayoralty to be simply an issue of us all feeling basically completely run into the ground at this point. But if you're curious about Rudy's successor, check out this record of a 1998 court deposition regarding allegations of sexual harassment at the Bloomberg company (Bloomberg's responses are in black):
More choice disturbing bits can be found at the Village Voice.
Not surprisingly, pundits are already starting to blame Mark Green's loss on Fernando Ferrer (who lost the democratic ticket to Green) and Al Sharpton because they didn't endorse Green. One might think that if people of color in fact did not turn out to vote for Green, it might have something to do with Green's virulently racist campaign, which accused latino Ferrer of serving "special interests" (we all know who that means) and his supporter Sharpton of being a terrorist.
This weekend, Dean and I played Escape from New York City, spending a few days with his family in beautiful, absestos-free rural Virginia. Driving down in a borrowed a car (a ginormous SUV which the guy at the gas station in Charlottesville called a "big momma"), we sang along to Cyndi Lauper and debated the merits of the Smithsversus Morissey. We stopped in Aberdeen, Maryland, and--strapped for cash and looking to dine on credit--ate at an Olive Garden knock-off called, creatively enough, The Olive Tree. Munching salad and bread-stick refills (such a weird concept, yet so compelling), we brainstormed further variations of increasingly-diminutive restaurants -- The Olive Branch, The Olive Pit, etc. And having recently watched Pleasantville, I took to imagining that Aberdeen existed as a parallel independent universe with no knowledge of the outside world; Dean and I had been sent to open their eyes to the infinite variety that lay outside their little burg. "In other towns," I'd say, "there are italian restaurants that serve free refills of salad and breadsticks, andthey're called . . .The Olive Garden." The local teens would barely be able to conceal their shock and excitement.
The return trip provided less fanciful fare. At a rest stop, I gnawed cold doughy pizza, and Dean opted for a chicken at a sandwich stand where you could serve your own toppings -- an anthrax bar, as Dean coined it. Back in the city, the George Washington Bridge mercifully spared us any further labors, and we eased into a quiet return.