“Ma’am. Is it true Missouri girls are crazy?” I had just grabbed a bite while my flight was delayed. I looked down at my eight and a half months pregnant belly while I swallowed and then glanced back up to see the National Guardsman who had directed this question at me. A fresh scar ran from the side of his mouth across his left cheek.
“I don’t know,” I laughed it off.
“Well, are you crazy?” His southern drawl slowed the question while his buddies flirted with the women behind the fast food counter, trying to talk them into a lower priced hot dog.
So, what’s the appropriate greeting today: “Happy April Fools'”? I hope you haven’t been tricked too severely. (My long-time favorite resource for verifying questionable information is Snopes.com, by the way. For future reference.)
I’ve been thinking about fools and sacred clowns today, appropriately enough. One of the movies I saw at SXSW was The Yes Men Fix The World, a documentary about the culture jamming activists called the Yes Men. This group uses inventive mischief and deceit to expose the wrongdoing of powerful corporations and governmental offices. The movie features Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, but they’re only two members of the larger group.
The Yes Men have created politically-charged hijinks like:
The days when all you needed to get into Harvard, Princeton or Yale was to have a father or grandfather or great-grandfather who went to Harvard, Princeton, or Yale are long gone, right?
Of course not. We all know that legacy preferences still exist at the upper echelon universities. And even though where your daddy went to school is not considered in admissions decisions in any other country, most Americans are willing to tolerate legacy preferences because colleges have opened their doors to students from all backgrounds in recent years. Women, Jews, African Americans, Latinos, poor kids etc. now have an opportunity to sit next to the Vanderbilts and Rockerfellers at Harvard and Yale. Right?
Not really. Ironically, just as college admission policies seem to moving away from the old school class-based approach, class ends up mattering more than ever.
Filed under Class, Education
Hi there, Gawker reader. I’m just going to update our regular readers so they’re up to speed.
On Sunday, Chris and I were profiled in the New York Post’s Page Six Magazine in a story about how even New York’s middle-class young professionals are having rent issues in today’s market.
Today, our article was snarked upon over at Gawker. Naturally, personal smears and misinformation ensued.
I’ll keep this brief, with two clarifications, and three questions, especially for you Gawker readers:
- Our income is actually $100,000 household, not individual. Also, those who actually read the article will know that it did not assert that we are poor, but that even young people who are financially stable are still encountering steep rent hikes and dodgy landlords.
- Did anyone else live in New York City in 2003, or was it just me? Back then, we were worried about a mysterious white powder called ANTHRAX showing up in our workplaces, not snorting cocaine.
Food for thought:
Imagine your bedroom. What is in the closet? The drawers? What is truly important to you? What could you do just as well without?
Now think about your “lifestyle” (for lack of a better word). What does it take to make you “happy”? Do you feel overwhelmed a lot of the time? What do you consider a real treat?
I have long been convinced that overconsumption or, as my filmmaker friend John deGraaf put it, affluenza, is one of the biggest dangers to our psychological and spiritual health, but reading this article on dissatisfied multi-millionaires in the New York Times this weekend just drove the point home even more. It also reminded me of how important it is to stay conscious of the kind of “lifestyle” you become accustomed to–namely, the more cheap, simple, and grounded in relationships, the better.
No Punch-for-Punch post today; trying to sell a book about men’s issues really saps my energy for writing about them. That and the heat. Ech.
But I do want to comment on a spread the Times had yesterday on the new “Gilded Age.” The basic point is that American society is moving back to the robber baron era when the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. Those few, obviously, don’t see a problem with this and point to their far-reaching philanthropy as the reason. They should be able to pay 17% of their income in taxes, as Warren Buffett does, because they give it all back in the end.
This line of argument is as fallacious as the Bush administration insisting we “trust” them with indiscriminate power over habeas corpus and other constitutional rights.
In honor of the upcoming holiday, I want to offer a bit of a reflection on what it means to be an American.
I don’t think I truly understood what it meant to be from the U.S. until I was away from it for a substantial amount of time. While studying abroad in South Africa, a country I thought had “race problems,” I was asked questions like, “So in America, everyone lives side by side, regardless of race?” Well, no. Sometimes. Not really. No.