Monthly Archives: March 2009

Brag Round-Up for Monday, March 30

Joie Jager-Hyman

  • Joie’s piece “”Where You Go To College Doesn’t Matter” on

Courtney Martin

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Filed under Brag Round-Up

A Plea for Funding the Arts

MicAt an awards luncheon, you expect familiar faces, mediocre food, and thank you speeches. Everything proceeded as foreseen at the Buffalo Art Council’s Art Awards, including technical hiccoughs in the video presentations. That is– until the founder of the Art Voice stood at the podium to collect his award. His speech was scathing.

“The county executive isn’t even here, and Mayor Brown walked out forty minutes ago. What does that tell you? The county has cut funding for the arts and there’s no city funding at all. Yet there’s money for the Bills and money for street and highway projects…”

Jamie Moses talked of growing up in Greenwich Village, the inspiration for Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, where the arts and artists thrive. The inspiration for his Village Voice- like paper? The “incredible population of talented artists, actors, musicians, and writers” he saw working in Buffalo, NY.

Continue reading


Filed under All The World, Art, Writing

Tattoo, Tattoo, Landscape

otagoThe punk-rockery adolescent guy and I had about 8 seconds to share in the elevator of the cavernous New York Public Library. His forearm was covered in lines that connected and squiggled, but squiggled with some sort of purpose.

I couldn’t resist.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

He looked up, semi-stunned. “Yes?”

“Is that a tattoo of a landscape?” I asked smiling and nodding at his arm, then thought to myself, What the hell did you just ask him? A landscape? What does that even mean? What kind of lame, unarticulated question is that?

“Kind of,” he said with a shy grin, “It’s the Mississippi River system.” And he twisted his pale forearm to show me how the tattoo wrapped around.

“It’s beautiful. Is that where you’re from, Mississippi?”

He paused, “Theoretically.”

Then the doors squeaked open.

First of all,… Continue reading


Filed under Art, Environment, Orienting

Brooklyn Colloquy: Say (Almost) Anything

Far be it from me, a diplomatic Libran, to ever say, “Ok, you are not allowed to say that. Ever.” And yet, I have found myself thinking and/or saying that more than a few times lately. Last week the President himself got into trouble dissing his own bowling skills . . . I wasn’t necessarily mad at that. But then there were the crowds of people across the country who cheered at the announcement of four Oakland cops  shot and killed.

In a world of free speech that encourages debate and tolerates dissent, are there things that you just shouldn’t say? Like, for instance, Woot Woot! Yeah! and Yay! upon learning that four Oakland police officers just got shot?

But in honor of crucial minutiae, I offer more personal, far less public examples to illustrate this inquiry. The first example is mine, the second two I overheard. Continue reading


Filed under General

How We Decide By Jonah Lehrer

Therapy Thursdays

Buy the book!


Filed under Education, Science & Technology, Therapy Thursdays, Writing

Unfinished Business of Feminism

Crossposted at feministing.

It was not only the second year anniversary of the truly awesome Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art on Saturday, but the “coming out party” for Unfinished Business, an intergenerational clan of diverse women who have been meeting privately but are now going public. They’re hope is that they can inspire other “UB pods” of women from varied backgrounds, experiences, and ages to get together and talk about the vast range of issues that feminists care about. The event was inventive–starting with a keynote by C. Nicole Mason, activist and researcher, and transitioning into a short Q&A with Esther Broner and Ai-jen Poo (moderated by the always dynamic and refreshing Laura Flanders), that evolved into an audience-involved speak out of sorts.

The event invoked some serious overwhelm in me and I’ve been trying to process just why ever since. First and foremost, there were so many important issues brought up in this two hour span–everything from domestic workers’ rights to Hollywood’s inadequate portraits of women, from socialism to corporate accountability, from child development to the dearth of female artists’ work in major museums and galleries. I suppose one is bound to feel a little paralyzed hearing about this vast range of problems and challenges.

But there’s something more subtle that I’m trying to unpack. Continue reading


Filed under Gender, Generation Overwhelmed

Elizabeth Mendez Berry, Domestic Violence, and Hip Hop

In February, as news about the Chris Brown and Rihanna Fenty situation spread through the internet, Jay Smooth over at Ill Doctrine consulted with Elizabeth Mendez Berry, who wrote an article in 2005 called Love Hurts in Vibe Magazine, about domestic violence within (and without) hip-hop. (Here’s a link to the video of that interview, originally published on February 14th.)

Last week, Elizabeth Mendez Berry published a powerful follow-up commentary about the issue over at Ill Doctrine. Her piece begins in a “gang awareness” meeting with fifteen Bronx teenagers, discussing domestic violence. The conversation lands on this “bottom line: sometimes you’ve got to teach a woman a lesson if she gets out of line.” Until this moment:

In the midst of the rationalizing, one usually talkative young man stood up and walked out. When he returned twenty minutes later, he quietly told the group that his aunt had recently been murdered by her abusive boyfriend. It was no longer a hypothetical conversation. The jokes stopped. Young men who were significantly invested in their inner gangsters gave them time off, and started talking about how domestic violence had affected their lives–and it had affected most of them. The young woman, who minutes before had been arguing in favor of beating females who didn’t know their place, talked about how despite the rules, male gang members beat up on female gang members. Behind her swagger, she seemed anxious.

The rest of the article is as beautiful and honest as this excerpt — I highly recommend reading the whole thing. She’s a sharp reporter and writer, and this issue is a matter of life or death for too many women.

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Filed under Gender, Health, In The News, Music, Pop Culture, Race, Relationships