campus racism part 3: "I'm not racist but ... "

… nothing good ever follows that sentence. It’s solidly reemerged as a trope in the American cultural lexicon. I’ve been hearing / seeing it a lot. (I say seeing, because so much of the social fabric of America now unfolds over social media, and also because in face to face conversation, people seem to behave better.)

A few weeks ago, I was going to write a lengthy follow up piece to my post about white student unions, but so many other things (mostly shootings; also an uprising in anti-Muslim sentiment) have stolen my attention since I first began composing my thoughts about this new uprising of racism, all my ideas got eclipsed by distressing and immediate events that call for as much examination and which have faded from the spotlight in rapid succession. It’s good that we have all developed short attention spans, because it allows us to process shock and outrage in a quick compressed cycle and move on before another stunner hits the news. Back to it though, a summary of my philosophy on the matter: the Black Lives Matter movement, and before BLM the election of Barack Obama, have provoked an enormous racist backlash. Obvious. There’s a great book about the concept of backlash against social momentum, and though it’s about responses to female progress, I have stolen the term and applied it to social movements of all types. Social progress is hard earned and demands a fight. Demands it, absolutely. I do not use that word sloppily. But what happens when you fight? Someone fights back. Privilege fighting back, pushing against a movement for equality, is a backlash.  It is predictable, like a tide. Two steps forward, one step back (although when economic inequality grows, social progress erodes along with it ... a whole nother can of worms).

I was going to write about Amazon’s dumb retort to suggestions that they should remove (contextually appropriate but offensive to the unaware) subway ads for The Man in the High Castle; I was going to talk about a New York Times article about campus racism culture (if there’s rape culture, I’m going to call it if I haven’t already: there also is racism culture) that with some words changed, might have been mistaken for a fluffy human interest piece about siblings squabbling over TV time (I don’t know where that article is. Probably I read it in a fumed state of mind.) … but as I said, too many other things have grabbed my attention, and I could not follow up on any of those tiny tree branches.  So off they go into the wind. American culture needs a therapist.

Worth noting is that I read an article proposing that the white student unions were largely the work of one or a group of trolls. It's pretty flippant. I don’t know if that’s the truth, but it’s worrying even if so, and there are plenty of signs that racists are mobilizing whether more hate groups exist in real space or are just growing conceptually. I have removed the schools’ contact info from that post. I had written a few in California to inquire about their response to having a white student union forming, and none responded. In the letters I framed my concern something like this: although I am not a student at their school(s), the influence of students on the community around them is an important one. And I believe this. Student dialogue is important. This is where a lot of great thinkers and great writers (and great observers of human behavior and cultural trends) develop their communication skills. I was implying, additionally, that colleges have a connection to the rest of their culture and are not just elite institutions where rich kids talk about nothing.

Also I’ve rubbernecked, like a car accident, a number of social media conversations about Black Lives Matter and am always stunned by people openly expressing their hostility towards the movement, unaware or unperturbed by the frequency of police executions of people of color in this country (or possibly: unaware of their inner racist).

Further, I’m going to go right ahead and blame Donald Trump’s presidential bid for smoking out all the latent bigots.

And I guess that sums up the icing on what I would have written in the past month, if I'd had any philosophizing in me.


campus racism part 2: white student unions


This, which is occurring right now in 2015, national student "white rights" organizing is very troubling. It can't possibly lead anywhere good.

I'm sure this does not represent all of them, and I'm sure also the list will grow and grow, but for now here (below) is a list of American and Canadian colleges and universities that have "white student unions" (that I was able to discover easily - they are networking like a fraternal organization on Facebook).  Most of them are copy/pasting their mission statements from UCLA's, which someone has worded very carefully if not stolen from a minority student union text (but in the context of expressing "white rights" – which historically have not suffered systemic oppression – the tone of the statement is clear, the organization is obviously meant to be provocative, and the page contains obvious white supremacist interaction, as well as objections from international students and students of color).

See what Wikipedia has to say about the White Student Union.

Example mission statement posted below.

Meanwhile, write to the dean's office of some schools with white student unions and ask how they intend to address the threat these organizations imply to students of color.  (Many universities have several dean's offices corresponding to school of business, school of arts and sciences, etc .. generally I have picked the one that best corresponds to the liberal arts campus, or when possible, a direct link to student affairs)

(update Dec 24/15 - I am excising the contact info - see "campus racism part 3" for explanation, but what follows is the original list of schools that I posted)

UCLA, UC Berkeley, Penn State, U of Illinois, Georgia State U, Tarrant County College, Ohio State, Princeton, University of Western Ontario, Florida International University, U of Central Florida, University of Florida, Loyola Chicago, Washington State U, Rutgers, University of Cincinnati, University of Missouri (Mizzou), NYU, Umass Amherst (boo!), Stanford, U of Minnesota, McMaster University, NC State, University of Arkansas, UT Austin, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Occidental College, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Texas Southern University, University of British Columbia, CSU Fullerton.

*DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT CONDONE THIS CONTENT* - SAMPLE WSU STATEMENT (I have just copy/pasted this, removing a repeated paragraph, but the emphasis is mine):
We welcome students of European descent (and allies) to follow and contribute to the ____ White Student Union. We were inspired by the new White Student Union at UCLA and hope that our initiative will move our brothers and sisters across the country to do the same.European-American students on college campuses face unique and immediate challenges that are ignored or even actively denied in today's cultural climate.We unapologetically provide a safe space for white students to air their true feelings about the future of our nation, discuss and reflect on the lessons laid down for us by our great European writers, philosophers, and artists, and develop a positive program to restore the pioneering will and greatness of our unique and virtuous people.
We affirm the dignity and ancestry of our proud people who have gifted the world with countless works of beauty, science, and wisdom, and are committed to promoting a dialogue and political resistance that will secure a future for our posterity and spirit.
At the same time, we do not wish to denigrate or harm any other group or ethnicity.
We condemn the cowardly campaigns of moral subjugation and propaganda that seek to instill self-hatred and surrender within European-American youth and justify the continued invasion and degradation of the lands, institutions, and cultural heritage that is rightly ours.
We seek to honor our past while promoting a positive, peaceful vision of the future; one in which every ethnic group has the right to organize and represent themselves and their interests.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to be sick ...

campus racism - what year is this?

Campus racism has gotten out of control. UCLA and UC Berkeley (and Penn State and others) now have "White Student Union"...
Posted by Laverne Shirley on Sunday, November 22, 2015


Cinema PTSD

Great movies I can't bear to watch a second time:

Morvern Callar

No Country For Old Men

Maria Full of Grace


Dancer in the Dark

American History X

The Deer Hunter

The Piano

Life is Beautiful


Reservoir Dogs

Taxi Driver

The Professional 



Boys Don't Cry


favorite stills #2

Some more TV and film stills that I like.

Return of the Secaucus Seven

Gilmore Girls: Nothing alive or gross (please)

Gilmore Girls: Rory's mug shot on the fridge

Mad Men

Pushing Daisies: Emerson knitting

Pushing Daisies

Mr. Robot: F Society

Halt and Catch Fire

Orphan Black: Felix's loft

Orphan Black

(this way to favorite stills #1)
NOTE: blogger has schmutzed with the layout so photo size can no longer be edited beyond "too small" or "falling out of frame" as far as I can figure - sorry they are so darn small.  I guess you can just go into slideshow mode and see them probably at all kinds of sizes but somewhat bigger.  Also I'm noticing a bug I noticed years ago that they evidently have not fixed, which is that sometimes photos go missing ... and but possibly only when viewed in Firefox.  Grr... hm.

There is no excuse for my not having learned to build websites by now.   Except: yawn.

Also sorry if you don't think "schmutz" should be verbed. Alternate word submissions welcomed.


Jennifer Parker's pants, revisited

I hereby eat my words from the previous post, regarding Back to the Future, in which I claim Jennifer Parker v.2 (Elizabeth Shue) wears a lame reproduction of her original pants, as today I received my copy of Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History, and was able to pore over photos of Elizabeth wearing pants in BTTF 2, from which one can only conclude she was wearing the same pants after all, or if not the very ones, a close enough facsimile that they did not and do not deserve my mocking.  See for yourself (pic 1: Claudia Wells; pics 2 & 3: Elizabeth Shue)

Also, I attended the last day of We're Going Back 2015 and watched BTTF in the parking lot of Puente Hills Mall, timed so the clock tower lightning strike happened at 10:04 (or within a minute or so) and with a live Delorean chase by a van full of Libyan terrorists.  So many fan-driven Deloreans were in attendance, I kept losing count – at least 15, maybe half of which were time machines.

People were handing out "Save the Clock Tower" flyers, and the mayor of City of Industry announced they would be keeping the Twin Pines Mall sign forever.

I love Los Angeles, my weird home.


The Future Is Now

Back to the Future turned 30 years old this year. And October 21, 2015 is the future date Marty, Doc, and Jennifer travel to at the beginning of BTTF 2 (although Doc probably travels to 10/26/15 first). So right now the world is exploding with BTTF celebrations.

This is one of my favorite movies – I think it had perfect pacing, perfect casting, a perfect script. And Crispin Glover. And a Delorean ... which is a time machine.  Someone deserves a prize for thinking that one up. 

This, the week of the Back to the Futureverse 1985 future, is only happening once. So I only briefly tore my hair out with indecision before rearranging my finances to find $200 for a ticket to Back to the Future Film School, the last day of the We’re Going Back event.  I wish I could be rich and unemployed this week (I'm working on a show about time traveling teens!) so I could go to the whole thing, but I’m happy with what I was able to get – Sunday should be the best day for me: a full day of panels on the car design, editing, cinematography and so on, and then a screening of the original film at Puente Hills (aka Twin Pines / Lone Pine Mall) with some “surprises” (which I can only hope is code for a Delorean accelerating to 88 mph in the mall parking lot and then vanishing in a trail of fire).

Much has been written about the cast members who for various reasons were replaced with other actors during the filming of the trilogy.  First, pretty boy Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly, and they were well into shooting the film before he was deemed a little too serious for the role and replaced with Michael J. Fox, necessitating reshoots of all of his scenes. And neither Claudia Wells (Jennifer Parker) nor Crispin Glover (George McFly) agreed to appear in BTTF 2 or 3, so George McFly was cobbled together with existing footage and an actor wearing prosthetics (for which Crispin Glover later sued), and Claudia was replaced with Elizabeth Shue. The last scene of BTTF was reprised for BTTF 2 as its sole purpose in the first place was to set the audience up for a sequel (that I’m going to propose no one had written yet at the time that scene was penned, since most of BTTF 2 has nothing to do with Jennifer & Marty’s kids and the story plays out kind of like “oh crap, we have to do something with the kids before we get into it, since we said so in the last movie”); said sequel segues from the first film with an overlap of that scene. In other words, the scene at the end of BTTF with Claudia Wells playing JP was repeated at the start of BTTF 2 with Elizabeth Shue as JP. They weren’t trying to fool anybody. But they did mimic the scene shot by shot, like Weird Al Yankovic’s “Eat It” and James Franco / Seth Rogen’s parody of that awful Kanye West video with Kim Kardashian on the motorcycle.

Ok, I’ll include it.

Anyway, the thing that fascinates me most about all this role swapping in Back the the Future is that the costumers were unable to find another pair of Jennifer Parker’s pants for the repeated scene.

At best, that's the acid wash variant. Maybe just pink pants with some plants drawn on.

Also they’ve done something terrible with Elizabeth Shue’s hair, but to be fair it was the ‘80s and there was nearly nothing un-terrible done to anybody’s hair.

‘80s hair:

This was a thing to behold. Bangs curling out and then downward and also another set of bangs going upwards. I remember girls coming to school with their bangs blowdried and hairsprayed in both directions but the rest of their (permed) hair still wet because what happened to it was irrelevant. My friend Scott used to refer to this as the "tree branch" hairdo. It was really a very exciting version of a girl mullet. No one wore hats in the winter. The hair was the main event.

Elizabeth Shue doesn't look that bad by comparison.


Wag the Dog - the end of U.S. political news reporting as we know it

There are two times in my life when I have been utterly chilled to the bone observing the shape our democracy is in.  (EDIT: I was born after the murders of JFK and Bobby K, MLK Jr and Malcolm X.) The first was when all the Occupy Wall Street encampments were being dismantled by S.W.A.T. teams. The second was after last night's democratic presidential debate as the viewer polls showed an absolute landslide favoring Bernie Sanders but it was evident that reporters were in a haste to declare Hillary Clinton as the clear winner.  They probably had the articles written ahead of time and just plugged in a few quotes afterward before hitting send.

Perhaps I've been living under a rock, but until last night's presidential debate, I was still under the impression that political reporting was at least in part about following voter trends.  In theory anyway, we voters are still the ones who actually determine who wins an election, right?

Well, not if the media has anything to say about it. As I predicted late last night, today the news is gushing over Hillary (who is a seasoned debater and comes across strong on stage, but has not managed to win popular support) and ignoring viewer polls that show Bernie claiming anywhere from 60-80% of the "vote." Also still present in the media commentary following the debate was the desperate desire to pull Joe Biden into the race .. you know, incase the public means it, incase we're really not going to vote for her; maybe we'll vote for him instead. It's clear whose support Hillary has; what's less clear is why we don't have a country full of dissenters who are taking to the streets protesting our whitewashed media (unless you count Bernie Sanders supporters attending rallies, who are overflowing arenas where the rallies are being held). We've duped most of the country so thoroughly they have no idea what they're witnessing is propaganda.

I never thought I'd suggest this but at the moment, make a habit of reading the comments.  That's where the news is. As previously, the comment section below articles hailing Clinton are full of "WTF?? Sanders!" comments. Nearly every comment. Like "Guys, are you listening??? Guys, hello??"

No one's listening, guys.

It's over.

Go home.

Bernie Sanders for the win.

Hey all one or two of my reader(s).

So I had a swell time drinking coffee and eating tiny spanakopita tarts at the Casbah Cafe dem debate viewing party, one of billions organized by Bernie Sanders supporters.  Bernie is running a campaign that is about drumming up participation in our (maybe not hopelessly rigged, if most people were to vote) political system MORE THAN IT IS ABOUT GETTING ELECTED. There is no arguing with this. Sanders is the real deal. Whether you know it or not, you are witnessing history made here. No one has had the balls to challenge the status quo like this and run it all the way to a White House bid, at least not in my lifetime. Pay attention.

Anyone who has ever been in the same room with me knows I am a steadfast political progressive and should be completely unsurprised to hear of my enthusiastic support of the famous filibustering unkempt anti-corporate union-supporting Vermonter Bernie Sanders. You should also be relatively unsurprised to hear that if Hillary wins the democratic primary I will (slightly grudgingly) vote for her (and be happy that a woman has finally made it to the White House, but will not mistake that for an end to the almost comical American glass ceiling). And if a teletubby won the nomination, I would vote for it rather than whoever ends up on the GOP ticket. If only one person could be coerced into running for president, and as a republican, I would WRITE IN A TELETUBBY rather than vote for a republican.

Not so sure about this Jim Webb character .... but anyhow.

Also it would be pretty funny to see the Onion article entitled "Woman given nation's worst domestic job" or whatever, if Hillary won.

The point obviously, guys, is to win. Everyone debating tonight was on board with this. Let's not let a republican into the White House.  Enough old rich white jerks legislating on women's reproductive rights and voting (invariably!) against equal pay for women. Enough trickle-down economics tall tales. Enough ignoring science, consumer safety, and our nation's poor and legislating for the best interests of Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Oil and the prison industrial complex.  Enough of the Koch Brothers and all their tendrils (ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, & whatever they are "rebranding" themselves these days) - the richest Americans writing legislation that keeps them rich and then handing it to legislators whose campaigns they funded ...  although the only candidate who will actually challenge these conventions (instead of just suggesting that he will and then, once elected, pander to lobbyists and campaign financiers and maybe try in vain to "reach across the aisle" to the cold clammy hand that the GOP will yank away in response) is Bernie. There is no other. It is all about this man.

While I hope everyone will engage with this election, the point of this post is to express a gigantic disconnect I have noticed in campaign reporting.

You know how the media has been doing a great job of more or less ignoring Bernie, painting him as a fringe candidate, in some cases omitting him completely from articles and so on? And then basically gaslighting - or completely ignoring feedback - when people point this out? I have read articles on the democratic race in which ALL OF the reader comments are irritated remarks about how Bernie Sanders is not being represented in the article. ALL. 100% of the comments.  Yet: the best representation of Bernie that you will usually see in a major media article is that he's a nice (if frumpy) whimsical addition to the race because he is going to pull (the not especially progressive) Hillary Clinton a little further to the left.

I have begun to suspect I am not imaging this, that mainstream media is almost conspiring to actually suppress enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders. (Why aren't they doing this with that nutjob Trump? I have heard him referred to without comment as the GOP frontrunner.)

Back to last night's debate. (It will be around 1 a.m. on Wednesday when I post this.) Who won the debate? Funny you should ask. When I typed this query into google, I got Hillary Hillary Hillary Hillary Hillary (followed by a positive critique of her stage poise, basically - it wasn't unlike flipping through a post-awards show best / worst red carpet outfits blog). When I typed in: "who won the democratic debate poll" I got something else entirely.

Here are the screenshots of ALL the polls I could find:

For posterity.

Now watch all the morning papers proclaim Hillary as the clear winner. Really, she won ... the mani cam.

Don't forget to vote.

love, Kate


Transvestite Soup

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Rocky Horror Picture show, I present (pieced together with the help of a friend, and a friend of a friend) the Minneapolis Uptown Theater transvestite soup audience monologue circa 1992*

Look, it's transvestite soup!
No, it's a fruit filled Life Saver
No, it's Queer-ios .. just add cum and they'll eat each other
I didn't know Frank went down on the Titanic
Sure - Frank goes down on anything
I didn't know the Titanic was a fairy boat!
I didn't know fairies had their own navy
Sure they do - it's called the Marines
God's got his finger up Frank's ass
God's got his finger up everyone's ass
I didn't know Michelangelo did pools
He doesn't! It's Andy Warhol doing a Michelangelo forgery!

(several hours later ... )


I discovered, while trying to find an apt transvestite soup still to add to this post, something much better: this, the logo for the Twin Cities RHPC shadow cast which now calls itself Transvestite Soup! I had no idea ...

For those of you who have never been to Minneapolis and have no idea what this is all about, here is a photo of perhaps the stupidest (and my favorite) sculpture of all time, "Spoonbridge and Cherry" which resides in the sculpture garden outside of the Walker Art Center:

 (if you've never been to Rocky Horror and have no idea what "transvestite soup" is all about, too bad - go to a midnight screening and come back later!)
with apologies for all the dumb gay jokes, but anyone who's been to Rocky Horror knows that they are all in good humor and it's a big gay / weirdo / theater geek fest ... 


Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

That's the classic English pangram (sentence containing all 26 letters), one of few useful sentences I learned as a young kid and still remember, along with pneumonic devices "She made Harry eat onions" (the Great Lakes, west to east) and "Every good boy does fine" (treble scale).

The lazy dog sentence as far as I know arose out of a need to quickly test for stuck typewriter keys. The need to do anything efficiently (or at all) with a typewriter has gone completely obsolete, but pangrams are still good for trying out fonts, and for amusing word nerds such as myself.

I discovered the discotheque one in a photo app and then realized this was a thing beyond typewriters and typefaces, that people sit around coming up with them, and the sheer number of them far outpaces their usefulness.  I am not that much of a word nerd. The 26 letter ("perfect") pangrams are pretty much cheaters (examples: "Zombies play crwth, quj FDG xvnk" and "Jump dogs, why vex Fritz Blank QC?") insofar as you would define a sentence as loosely as: a thought that anyone sane would find a reason to utter out loud.

Once you allow some extra letters to sneak in though, you get some gems like:

Junk MTV quiz graced by fox whelps.
Both fickle dwarves jinx my pig quiz.
Jack, love my big wad of sphinx quartz!
Five quacking zephyrs jolt my wax bed.
Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
Fix problem quickly with galvanized jets.
When zombies arrive, quickly fax Judge Pat.
Watch "Jeopardy!", Alex Trebek's fun TV quiz game.
Foxy diva Jennifer Lopez wasn't baking my quiche.
Cozy lummox gives smart squid who asks for job pen.
Six big devils from Japan quickly forgot how to waltz.

.... all brilliant, I know, but the clear winner is:
"Who am taking the ebonics quiz?", the prof jovially axed.

Read it and weep.
main source: http://clagnut.com/blog/2380/


April Fish Day / you jackass!

An assortment of images I found today in an "April fool" google search