Archive for March, 2005

"… the coffins were all in order…."

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

A few days ago, a lefty friend of mine contended that the reason the recent anti-war protests commemorating the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq received very little coverage on the news was that the Bushies have the broadcast news in their pocket. (This was right after I read yet another conservative bloviator who insisted the network news was liberal, except for Fox, which was “fair and balanced.” Ho-hum.)

I suggested that maybe there was another reason for the paucity of coverage: People, even people sympathetic to one or more of the causes, tended to view protest marches as anachronistic.

The Washington Monthly‘s Christina Larson has expanded and expounded on this view in “Postmodern Protests – Why modern marches matter only to those who march.”

Regarding one of the counter-inaugural protests, the “Women’s March and Funeral Procession,” Larson reports:

As with most demonstrations today, the march wasn’t planned to accomplish a concrete result by demanding the passage of a particular piece of legislation. Instead, its organizers had focused largely on two things: affirming the protesters’ right to protest, and enriching their experience of the protest. While in the past a march was judged successful if it affected a political outcome, today’s protests are judged on how they affect a protester’s sense of self.

This “Free To Be, You And Me” school of protest is enough to set my socialist ancestors spinning in their graves like tops. Amending labor laws so that they and hundreds of their countrywomen wouldn’t have to jump out factory windows in flames was enough enrichment of their experience. But as Larson illustrates, as various movements became more established, with offices and staffs, marches became more about getting together for some kind of activist trade show.

This is great on a social basis. It’s lonely sitting behind a computer all the time. But for those of you who are amazed that United For Peace and Justice got such a big turnout in New York the day before the Republican Convention and yet Bush is still president and there’s still a war going on, Larson would like to remind you:

Protesting for protesting’s sake serves a market. But so do rock concerts and tractor pulls. If today’s marchers want their efforts to mean a great deal more than that, they would do well to recognize the real reason why the marches of yesteryear are remembered. It wasn’t just about the messengers. It was about the message.


The week before the Inauguration, I received e-mails about several scheduled protests for that day. One was “Turn Your Back On Bush,” where you were supposed to, you guessed it, turn your back on Bush when the presidential motorcade passed you. This prompted more than one comedian to say, “You know he’s going to get out of the car and say, ‘What y’all lookin’ at?’” The jokes about the protest had more of a rebellious feeling than the protest itself.

Which leads me to believe that the best way to protest on that day would have been to work on your act. Or in this case, your message. And it can’t just be “throw the bums out.” It’s gotta be about what you would like to see happen when “our” bums get in.

Mighty Middle Manifesto

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

I thought this guy was me, then I realized I wasn’t a guy.

In other news, work is a bitch, but things are generally okay.

Still reading “Before the Storm.” I wrote this down to look it up: “Immanentizing the eschaton.” I Googled it and as far as I can figure out, it means either “living in the moment” or “living in a fantasy world.” Apparently, this expression has been around for years and I’m just finding out about it now. Talk about middle aged. Oh well, at least I’ve got an iPod.*

*Full of classic rock, funk and Ramones.


Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

Strindberg and Helium.

Before the Storm and During the Rain

Monday, March 28th, 2005

On a very miserable day, I’m about three quarters of the way through a bag of Teeny Beanies and Rick Perlstein’s biography of Barry Goldwater, “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus.”

I’ll link you to Glenn Garvin’s review of the book in Reason. I agree with a lot of the review and will use it for talking points on my review later. I know it’s good for talking points because when I read it I kept talking. I kept saying “Yeah” and “Hmm.”

The Easter Cats

Saturday, March 26th, 2005

Pongo and Phoebe
Originally uploaded by brunobaby.

These are our “Original Cats,” Pongo (1984-2001) and Phoebe (1984-2004).

I adopted them in March 1985, when they were six months old.

Yes, Pongo had two different-colored eyes.

Also, like many white cats, Phoebe was deaf. Or maybe just very stubborn. But she did have eyes in the back of her head.

They both lived to a ripe old age because we made life so good for them that they would have been crazy to leave. We should all have it so good.

Breathing Instructions

Friday, March 25th, 2005

Due to a problem I’m having with Flick’r, I’m unable to upload today’s catblogging photo.

Meanwhile, Amanda at Pandagon (hey, that kind of rhymes) rips hilariously into a Cosmo article on “What Your Man Is Really Thinking.” The “Comments” are funny, too, from both guys and gals (“Frought with puppies”…I’m gonna use that one somewhere.)

Keep The Feds Off My Body

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Due to work responsibilities yesterday, I was apparently the only blog in the universe not to weigh in on the Terri Schiavo story. But to sum it up:

  1. I’m writing the script for my living will;
  2. Those Conservative politicians who are using this woman as a marionette and playing on the hopes and pain of her family…I hope there’s a special place to roast their asses in the hell in which they believe.

Street Fair!

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

I’d first suspected it on my way home yesterday when I saw all the “No Parking Saturday” signs. Then when I went out this morning, there they were: The Sock Guy, the Gyro truck, the $5 handbag people, the Mozzareppa* mobile.

Oh sure, it was cold, and the Shiatsu massage people’s customers were getting their massages in down coats. But there’s always something about the first street fair of the Spring that gives you the feeling of having made it through another Winter.

*Mozzareppa: A grilled cornbread patty with melted mozzarella cheese in the middle.

Write Chicks

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Political Animal continues the debate about the dearth of women in the Op-Ed columns and political blogosphere:

In any case, I think the overarching question this brings up is one that Shakespeare’s Sister and I have also discussed — but then dropped because we ran out of steam: what are “women’s issues”? Isn’t the war in Iraq a women’s issue as much as a men’s issue? How about abortion? Is that a women’s issue? Or is it equally a men’s issue?

I haven’t been blogging long enough to consider myself a “political blogger”–don’t know if a guy in a similar position would say that, unless he’s got a “besieged regular guy” personna like Ray Romano–and my interest in politics has been peripatetic over the years, flaring in times of stress as if it were excema.

But this whole argument does sound like similar discussions I used to hear and have in the 80′s about women and stand-up comedy.

Around 1984 when I was first starting and when Women’s Comedy Night was a fad in several (un- or low-paid) gigs throughout the New York area, I would have MC’s and club owners telling me:

“Come back again; we need more women.”

But what about what I was doing onstage? And what about when you don’t need more women; will I still be funny?

I got that question answered for me later in the 80s, when I was actually a lot funnier and more experienced and the answer was, “We already have a woman this month.” (I was a single woman at the time and I found that for other purposes most guys need a woman more than once a month.)

Another comment that I got was that women comics did “women’s comedy.” So I’d be thinking, “What’s feminine about the subway? Is it because it goes underground and in and out of tunnels? Is the tunnel the woman and the train the man?” Thereby making it a lot more Freudian and a lot more intellectual than making drunken people laugh warranted, which is probably why I quit.

But who am I to speak? I know about show business, not politics. Politics isn’t show business, right?

Yeah, right.

The other obstacle I had with comedy is the same as one I’m having now: getting an audience!

If you’re reading this now, and especially if you have a blog, site, show, whatever, that you’re promoting, how do you promote yourselves?

Forget about women being afraid to blow their own horn. I’ve never had a problem with opening my mouth. The question is, “What is the sound of a mouth opening in the forest if nobody hears it?”

Test-Driving the Obligatory Friday Catblogging

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

Originally uploaded by brunobaby.