Saturday, April 05, 2008

Love Affair With A Song

Sometimes a Song that you knew about for a while just grabs ahold of ye all over again, and just refuses to let go. When this happens you can be assured it is the circumstances of your life that in some way have converged with the Song and mandated a taking of the stock. A revaluation. A renewed appreciation for what is possible. "You dance like a flame in midair."

All falls into place, things open up. You rediscover the world, and yourself, through the Song. Spring has sprung, the grass has ris. Harrogate wonders where the flowers is.

Such is Harrogate's current experience with the Ween song, "Buenos Tardes Amigo," a song he has long respected, but which he has now fallen into with what can best be described as Dionysian abandon. Other than Hendrix renditions of "Star Spangled Banner," nothing else has been able to suffice lo these several weeks.

Now, Harrogate realizes of course that Readers, and even fellow Situation Board Members, sometimes skip these musical posts altogether and wait for the next insight regarding politics, religion, formal Rhetoric, Pro Wrestling, and the like. But Harrogate implores all within the reach of this here keyboard, to take a swim in this song. The water, as they say, is fine.

Harrogate dedicates this installment to North Carolina. Who is still playing.

Buenas tardes amigo
Hola, my good friend
Cinco de mayos on tuesday
And I hoped wed see each other again

You killed my brother last winter
You shot him three times in the back
In the night I still hear mama weeping
Oh mama, still dresses in black

I looked at every fiesta
For you I wanted to greet
Maybe Id sell you a chicken
With poison interlaced with the meat

You... you look like my brother
Mama loved him the best
He was head honcho with the ladies
Mama always said he was blessed

The village all gathered around him
They couldnt believe what they saw
I said it was you that had killed him
And that Id find you and upstand the law

The people of the village believed me
Mama... she wanted revenge
I told her Id see that she was honored
Id find you and put you to death

So now... now that Ive found you
On this such a joyous day
I tell you it was me who killed him
But the truth Ill never have to say

Buenas tardes amigo
Hola, my good friend
Cinco de mayos on tuesday
And I hoped wed see each other again
Yes, I hoped wed see each other again
I hoped wed see each other again

Friday, April 04, 2008

"To Tame the Savageness of Man..."

While tonight is the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., it is also the fortieth anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's eulogy to King, "To Tame the Savageness of Man." To watch a video of the speech, click here. To see see information about "Ripple of Hope," a documentary on Kennedy's speech, click here.

On the night of King's death, Robert Kennedy was scheduled to deliver a campaign address to African-Americans in the ghetto areas of Indianapolis. Instead, he delivered an extemporaneous eulogy about King in which he praised King's struggle for justice and his nonviolence attempts to seek justice, asked his audience to pursue that justice, and spoke publicly, for the first time, about John F. Kennedy's assassination.

One of the most important parts of the speech occurs when Kennedy discusses his fatalistic beliefs:
"My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God."

Rather than follow the strict Greek interpretation of fatalism, Robert Kennedy believed that through suffering humans could gain knowledge-- "in agony, we gain wisdom." This may have been the most important lesson the audience learned that night.

In the following weeks after King's death, riots occurred in 76 cities, 26 people died, 2000 injured, and 28,000 were jailed. However, while most of the major cities erupted in violence forty years ago, Indianapolis did not.

John McCain at the Lorraine Motel

While it was nice that McCain humbled himself, in his Memphis stop to honor MLK's death, by admitting that he was wrong to vote against making Martin Luther King Day an official holiday, he doesn't get any points from this viewer. I was made particularly uncomfortable by the images of McCain and his entourage exiting room 308 at the Lorraine Motel (MLK's room was 306) and moving toward the podium to speak. This isn't the best photo, but it's the best I could find after a quick online search:

I understand that the museum/motel was the spot of the memorial and that McCain and crew had to sit somewhere until he spoke, but this reads like blatant co-opting of imagery that is too sacred in the public memory to be used in the political arena. I know that all three candidates invoked King's image today, but this was too "white man's power" for me.

I've Been to the Mountaintop

I'm a little late getting to this today, but I wanted to post MLK's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, the one he gave the evening before his death.

Here's the first part:

And the second:

I think we too often forget that, in his later organizing work and speeches, King heightened awareness of poverty across racial lines, a message that is especially relevant today.

If I Can Dream

Following Solon's lead, here is another post that brings together MLK, Memphis, and the Civil Rights Movement. This is Elvis singing one of his most beautiful songs, "If I Can Dream." What you hear here is the second take of the song. A guitar error made Elvis have to redo his first take. Elvis was so moved during the recording of this song, so it is said, that he vowed never again to sing a song that he didn't believe in. The montage on this video makes explicit the song's allusion to MLK (and to others to whom an allusion is less pronounced).

40 Years Later...

I found this photo over at The New Republic. It is just an amazing photo to represent the Civil Rights struggle in the United States.

If you ever go to Memphis, I highly encourage you to stop at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. While I have not seen every public memorial and museum, it serves as one of the best in the country for the way in which it recreates and tells the story of race relations throughout the United States from colonial days until the assassination of MLK Jr. With other modern memorials, such as the Oklahoma City Memorial, I feel empty when I see it and do not know how I ought to feel. At the Lorraine Motel, the pathos is unmistakable.

Out in front of the hotel, by the cars of Dr. King's entourage, there is a plaque that reads:
"They Said to One Another:
Behold. Here Commeth the Dreamer....
Let us Slay Him...
And We Shall See What Will Become of his Dream."

The quote is from Genesis about the story of Joseph before being sold into slavery. It is an interesting way to open the story told in the Museum as the foreboding feeling of the quote does not diminish the hope involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Bonus: If you are interested, here is a timeline about the last hours of Martin Luther King Jr.

A Truly Postmodern Body

I ran across this snippet of an Oprah ad on (don't judge!). Apparently, this transgendered man (born a woman, now a man), who is married to a woman, is pregnant with their child. His wife is apparently unable to get pregnant, so he has decided to carry their child himself. Wow.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Speaking of Great Songs; or, On the Cusp of the Final Four

By the way. North Carolina is still playing.

And, being as how there has been a recent run, on this blog, of references to great music and iconic musical forces, Harrogate really had no choice but to join the fray, although within the superadded context of March Madness as the Final Four draws night.

The Epic Song performed below, more than anything else, is about Comitatus. The importance of all things wingman. No theme could be more important for the Four #1-Seeded Teams poised to clash in San Antonio.

Which group of fellers will prove the most reliable to one another and by extension to their fans?

North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, or Memphis? For verily it is written, there can only be one.

Why Diamond Dave is still the best frontman

As promised in my comments to Solon below, here are my two favorite remixes of DLR singing "Running with the Devil."

In this first remix, DLR's vocal track was laid over the Beatles's "Drive My Car." With video, no less!!

This second one puts Dave to the music of MJ's "Billy Jean."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Why Radiohead is still the best band,,,,

Over at Radiohead Remix you can download the separate stems (vocals, guitar, drums, bass, strings/fx) for the band's new single, "Nude," and remix the song yourself. As well as mixing, you can add new beats and instruments to the song. The stems are available also through ITunes.

If you'd like, you can upload the song on a MySpace page (until May 1st) where listeners can judge the new remixes. You can listen to the top ten remixes here.

Now, if you will excuse me... I have some work to do.

Wombs for Rent

Oops. I was going to follow my "Lend out your babies" post with discussion of recent articles on surrogacy. But, I ran out of steam and ran out of space. Surrogacy is whole separate can of worms to open anyways!

Lend out your baby, Rent out your womb

Does anyone remember the high school experiment where an egg stood-in for a baby? Students had to care for the "baby" (read: don't break or scramble) for a determined amount of time and report back to the class on how much time and responsibility caring for the "baby" took. Reality television is now taking this to the next level....

NBC has an upcoming "reality" show that places several teenage couples on the "fast-track" to adulthood, in part by having them "borrow" infants (6-11 months old), toddlers, children, and then teenagers from other families. NBC hails "The Baby Borrowers" as an "intriguing social experiment," but it seems to join a growing genre of "reality" television that places American families under a microscope. While a 24 hr nanny lives in the teens' temporary homes and the real parents of the babies live next-door, what are the implications for the babies, toddlers, and children being "lent" out? Does being part of a very public "social experiment" count as entertainment, social experimentation, or exploitation? Or all of the above?

Admittedly, I'm curious. It might be funny. However, I do wonder if NBC will provide any theoretical framework for the show or will it just be fed to the public as pure entertainment (watch as Sally and Joe can't change a poopy diaper and then watch as they help "grandma" buy Depends.)?

TLC's The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom took the easy way out and provides no theoretical framework for its show on mother's faced with the timeless decision of whether to return to work or stay home and raise their children. It provides no acknowledgement of the difficulty--from both an emotional and practical standpoint-- in making such a decision on the fly, nor does it acknowledge that many women, indeed most, don't have the luxury of making such a choice. The only acknowledgement of the difficulty of this decision comes from the women themselves; cameras zoomed in on teary-eyed faces emphasize the enormity of the decision before catchy themed music cuts to commercials.

I'm not ready to jump on a conservative save-the-family bandwagon, but I am concerned about the messages that Wife Swap, Baby Borrowers, and Secret Life send about families. A previous post on raising daughters in a material age attests to the difficulty in raising a family in an age where television sends the message that it is okay for 8 year olds to have bikini waxes. Most sitcoms depict fathers as bumbling idiots not fit to be left with the children and mothers as nagging SAHMs (think Everyone Loves Raymond). Reality tv joins in with shows like The Nanny, Wife Swap, and others that rarely depict a family capable of functioning normally (whatever normal is). My own famliy may not be fit for a Leave it to Beaver type show, but we don't lend out babies or swap wives.

Maybe I'm simply watching too much tv these days! It certainly is easy to do while I nurse my daughter (who will NOT be lent out).

Being Held Accountable

According to an MSNBC article, "A coalition of states is suing the Bush administration to force it to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that rebuked what justices called inaction on global warming." Although I'm quite certain the Bush administration will have some glib response, I'm pleased to see state governments pushing the administration to address these issues in some way.

When you get to the bottom...

I found this on the Blogara and this seems to be the most intriguing video I have seen in quite some time, partly because of the images and partly because a politician agreed to recite the words to Helter Skelter.

When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again
Yeah yeah yeah hey

Do you, don't you want me to love you
I'm coming down fast but I'm miles above you
Tell me tell me tell me come on tell me the answer
Well you may be a lover but you ain't no dancer

Now helter skelter helter skelter
Helter skelter yeah

Will you, won't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer

White People Like Graduate School

See here for the reasons why. (Thanks to Harrogate and Mommy,PhD for directing me to this site)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Disturbing Factoid

I just heard a really upsetting fact that I'd like to share: United States servicewomen in Iraq are more likely to be raped by their fellow U.S. soldiers than killed in combat. To make matters worse, the Department of Defense (DOD) isn't prosecuting the vast majority of the assault charges. The LA Times discusses the problem:
Numbers reported by the Department of Defense show a sickening pattern. In 2006, 2,947 sexual assaults were reported -- 73% more than in 2004. The DOD's newest report, released this month, indicates that 2,688 reports were made in 2007, but a recent shift from calendar-year reporting to fiscal-year reporting makes comparisons with data from previous years much more difficult.

At the heart of this crisis is an apparent inability or unwillingness to prosecute rapists in the ranks. According to DOD statistics, only 181 out of 2,212 subjects investigated for sexual assault in 2007, including 1,259 reports of rape, were referred to courts-martial, the equivalent of a criminal prosecution in the military. Another 218 were handled via nonpunitive administrative action or discharge, and 201 subjects were disciplined through "nonjudicial punishment," which means they may have been confined to quarters, assigned extra duty or received a similar slap on the wrist. In nearly half of the cases investigated, the chain of command took no action; more than a third of the time, that was because of "insufficient evidence."

Race, Representation and Polysemy

The current issue of Vogue features the King of Basketball, LeBron James, and the Queen of Supermodels, Gisele B√ľndchen. There has been some controversy over this cover, as Slate discusses, because of the visual allusion, as you can see from this picture. The question Slate asks: is the cover racist?

The author of the article, weary of the discussion of race from the Democratic Primary and in the mood of focusing on other, more pressing concerns, would rather punt then arrive at a definitive conclusion. What is your take on the cover. Here are a few possibilities:

First, if you see the cover by itself, as I first did, and not with the movie poster of King Kong, I did not read it as anything other than this cover showing off the hype of LeBron, which is amplified by the presence of Gisele. I would state I understood this in the particular case of LeBron rather than the universal case of all black men. But, I would not have thought about the Lebron/ King Kong connection as I am not sure if I ever saw or would remember the King King Movie poster. Yes, at times, my ignorance of pop culture even amazes me.

Of course, there are more than one way to interpret this image and that is why we are having the discussion over the meaning of the cover.

Second, if you read the cover in terms in a larger context, with the visual reference and the racist overturns, as Slate notes, this cover appears, "to some, to evoke one of the ugliest racist tropes: black male as ape." The article continues to state you can interpret the cover in another context:
The picture's visual inspiration might be King Kong, but the narrative corollary is D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. Men, lock up your ladies! Here comes LeBron!

Yet, for how long must we discuss race on the same tired tropes? It seems that this cover may enter us in a discussion of ideologies associated with racism and political correctness, which denies other available interpretations of the cover. Or, is everything about identity politics? One problem of the academic left is to allow for relativity with language and values except when it occurs within topics that they find offensive (e.g. hate speech).

Third, there is the economic argument, which would state that Vogue is attempting to increase it subscription/ ad revenue/ number of magazines sold. If this were the case, the negative reading of this would be that the magazine may not care about making a contribution to a social discussion of race but just the bottom line. I suppose we could involve ourselves in a consideration of the opposites and state that maybe Vogue wants to engage in a post-racial discussion about society rather than focus on profits. I guess the most important thing to consider is what is the purpose of this magazine and the industry it promotes.

Any thoughts? Or is this something academics discuss because they have too much time on their hands or do not sleep enough?

There is a video about the cover and an interview form the Today Show available if you want more information about this.

Nader on Global Warming

From The Good Fight: "Farts disturb more people than odorless pollution or global warming."

I guess that I ought to contextualize this a bit. Nader is not saying that farts have a greater impact on the environment and on our lives than does pollution. He's saying that people get more worked up over the "cutting of cheese" than they do the idea of global warming. The latter does not have the immediacy of a fart. That is to say, it cannot be smelt or tasted, as can be some particularly bad ones. Global warming, he says, is too complex and too abstract to amass widespread public attention and civic action.

In other words, it's hard for average Americans to be as pissed off over global warming as when a fellow commuter toots on the subway car. "That was a good one--my mouth was open."

Maya Angelou and Hillary Clinton

Earlier in the campaign, I discussed the literary endorsements for both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. To close out March and Women's History Month, Maya Angelou provided another piece for Senator Clinton on her website:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
(there is more at the link.)

Because of contextual issues (see comments), the fundraising appeal diminishes this as a straight encomium but my argument is not that the intent of the piece is that it is a piece written specifically for fundraising. However, Maya Angelou provides a very interesting perspective on Senator Clinton and her campaign.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Politics of Wiki....

The New Republic has an interesting look at the politics surrounding the Wikipedia articles on Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. In the article, the author explores at the crass edits that some posters contributed to the page, the main editors of their respective entries, and how some of the deliberation and decision-making behind the entries actually works.

Even better than the article are the comments on the "talk page" or "discussion tab" for both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama.

There really are at least two papers. First, one paper could explore the democratization of knowledge, rhetoric of memory, and how ideology binds these together. There is also a paper on public deliberation, public knowledge, and how to make a decision on what should be known.

And people think caucuses are messy.

A Fun Waste of Time

Check this out :) "A normal-sized fig leaf would do it."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

No, it's not you....

it's your books.

From The New York Times: an interesting look at how differences in opinion over books can lead to the end of a relationship.

I'll admit it. Long ago, long, long, long ago, a relationship ended over incompatible views on the Sophists (not the book, but the wandering teachiers). To say it was a wise move would be an understatement.


Little Women

When I was in middle school, I was the last of my friends to wear makeup, get my ears pierced, or shave my legs. My mother, who I thought was completely unreasonable, wouldn't let me do any of those things until I was 13. Of course, as an adolescent girl left alone in the house every morning (both parents had to leave for work before my school bus arrived), I often raided my mom's stash of makeup--using far too tan foundation to make my nose look thinner, like my teen magazines recommended. I also ended up snagging one of her razors to shave my legs when I was 12. She found out, but what was she going to do about it, really? Yes, it was an arbitrary age for my mother to choose. But, now that I'm an adult woman and a mother, I think she was completely right. Was she trying to prolong my childhood--were those magic three activities markers of womanhood? Maybe. As frustrated as I was by these restrictions, I am so grateful that I never had to deal with the likes of this.

Seriously--a bikini wax at age eight?!? And eyebrow waxing? And tanning? And dieting? And hair-bleaching? And microdermabrasion? What kind of women do these parents want their daughters to become?

The author suggests that an ugly phase is important for self-development--that terrible school photos make us appreciate what we went through when we're older. She also points out that there's a thin line between forced bikini waxes and facials for girls with "bad" skin or manicure parties. Do mother-daughter spa days cause girls to become self-obsessed women? I guess it depends on the spa day. I know that, to some extent, my body issues were passed on to me by my mother, who certainly had (has) her share. And my father's commentary on the barely dressed women walking down the sidewalk in my beach town ("Nice" [if she looked good] or "She could stand to walk a few more miles" [if she didn't]) certainly didn't help. But, let's say that both my parents were of the "everyone is different, and we're perfect just the way we are" variety--how much power would this have had against Seventeen magazine, Beverly Hills 90210, and the girls at school who were happy to point out the many ways that I didn't fit in? I don't know.

So, what are we parents to do as we raise our children--girls and boys. Can I teach my son not to objectify women--even as he watches close-up shots of the cheerleaders' breasts during a college basketball game? Or while his friends rate the girls in their class on a scale of 1 to 10? Can those of you with daughters teach them that their worth lies in who they are and not what they look like? Can we teach our sons the same thing? I hope so.

An Anti-War Culture, or the lack thereof....

Politico has an article on the lack of an Anti-War Culture inspiring the Anti-War Movement. It appears that anti-Iraq war songs and movies have not caught on to mass appeal as it did during the 1960s when music and movies created and reinforced a Culture of Protest. For example, if you get the opportunity to watch Berkeley in the 1960s about the Free Speech Movement and the Anti-War movement, you will see the correlation between the protesters and the culture, especially in the way they formed a "listening community."

Yet, for the current war, there is not an influential culture of protest. The articles suggests that, unlike the 1960s, the reasons why there have not been mass protests on campus and politics have not worked in popular culture include that there is no military draft to oppose, a relatively low amount of casualties (not including civilian deaths), and the fragmentation of communication in culture. While some movies have been popular, there have not been appealing. For example, Fahrenheit 9/11 made money at the box office but presented a terrible argument. Syriana was good, but arguably confusing. I have yet to see Rendition, Redacted, and many more of the Iraq War movies. And the fact is, I do not know if I will see them as I do not need to see them to know that I oppose the war or I do not need to see them to know what horrors have been committed.

As far as music goes, even I am in the dark about the current anti-war songs. I remember the "Not Ready to Make Nice" controversy and used it in class but the students seemed unsure of what to think at the time (2006/2007). We listened to a few pro-War songs, such as "Where Were You" by Alan Jackson but even this song had no effect on the students. Recently, a 30 song anti-war concept album was released to go along with the movie Body of War. This album features such artists such as Neil Young and Eddie Vedder but I did not even know about this album until today. Oh well, times change.

But, is the argument of this article correct? Here are four questions to think about:

First, because there is a lack of material interests involved with the war, (i.e. no draft, hence no risk to the nation; no financial sacrifice; no rationing), there is no need for the vast majority of students to protest?

Second, since there are little material interests involved, does this mean that there is little chance for the people to persuade the government to stop the war, except maybe through elections. The 2006 midterms show that even this is not possible because there are not enough votes to stop the war. This reinforces the notion that persuasion is not necessary, only the votes for the war or against the war matter. Debate does not occur, just people following the ideas they have in their heads.

Third, how does the role of technology interfere with a listening community? As I walk around campus and see students listening to Ipods, as most students do on many college campuses, this alters our perception of the student community but it does not preclude students from engaging one another. Students can "share" their experience via You Tube but not participate. In both cases, students may choose to isolate themselves rather than engaging in a discussion or they may get information but may not be active with that information.

Further, people can use technology to "intellectualize" about the war, "protest" the torture in the war, or sign a "petition" to end the war, but all of this has little effect as Guantanamo Bay Naval Base still exists and the practices still continue. With technology we may find out more about the war but that does not mean we are any closer to ending the war or stopping the torture.

Finally, have there been any songs or movies that have persuaded people to be against the war and do something about ending the war, even if it would mean voting for an anti-war candidate?

A Positive Story About College Athletics...

To Honor Harrogate's love for the game, The New York Times has an interesting story where college athletics plays an important role at the University level at Texas A&M.