Rudy rears his head again…

Someone like ‪Rudy Giuliani‬ doesn’t pay attention to this sort of thing, but black groups have been focused on so-called “black-on-black” crime since Martin Luther King started to concentrate on the problem of poverty in black communities. Violence is rooted in poverty, and no “black-on-black” crime is ever committed simply because the victim was black. It’s not a hate crime. It’s an economic issue, just as the drugs in those neighborhoods is an economic issue. People like #Giuliani have little interest in resolving those issues or improving overall quality of life for people in those communities but in “containing” a potential threat to the communities he does care about. The style of policing and governance is distinctly different with the latter than the former, and the latter is what we saw during his much-hailed-by-the-middle-class administration. But #Giuliani does black people a favor when he dismisses violence against blacks by telling us to “clean up our neighborhoods” or “you’re killing each other,” which is why “white officers” have to police those neighborhoods as they do. He is at least being honest that these communities aren’t considered part of the America in which he resides. I’ve been telling people this for years. America’s leaders view Ferguson‬ through the same lens as they view Iraq‬ and Afghanistan‬. It’s been the loudest American message to the black community since blacks stopped being an American commodity and became, through America’s perception, as an American burden.

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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Late Night Mayo…

Today’s announcement that CBS has chosen James Corden to replace Craig Ferguson as host of The Late Late Show has interesting timing, coming the day after the funeral for Joan Rivers, who was the permanent guest host of The Tonight Show and later host of her own late-night talk show almost 30 years ago. No woman has risen as high in the late-night realm since, and this is a roster that includes Jimmy Fallon.

When I was in high school, there were three late-night TV series (I’m ignoring the failed Pat Sajak show): Carson, Letterman, and Arsenio. Their names alone are sufficient to describe the differences in their approach, guests, and overall content. Now we have literally six straight white guys doing a variation of Letterman (and arguably not even classic Letterman, who used to interview Chris Elliott as “Marlon Brando“). I guess there’s an audience for six brands of mayonnaise. 

Judge Corden on his own merits, of course, but let’s please cease the “well, he must be brilliant if CBS hired him instead of a woman or minority!” It’s a new brand of kick in the pants to praise someone sight unseen for overcoming the burden of white maleness.

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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Pop Life


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Cops: The Reality Show…

After the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, there’s been talk about police officer wearing cameras. It seems like a reasonable idea but as I recall, the Rodney King beating was videotaped and Tarantino could have filmed the Amadou Diallo shooting for all the good it would’ve done.

Fifteen years later, it’s still hard to imagine what Diallo could have done to stay alive. He ran from officers in street clothes at almost 1 a.m. He raised his hands but held up his wallet (something you might do if you think you’re being mugged). During the shooting, one of the officers tripped backyard, which made them think he was shot so they continued shooting Diallo, so.. oops, I guess.

I would have done everything Diallo did. I thought so in 1999 and I still think so. Plain-clothes officers stopping someone on the street late at night seems perilous. Should I really trust someone saying, “Stop! Police!” if they’re not in a uniform? And it’s too dark to see if their badge wasn’t retrieved from a one-armed bandit? Running away is what any reasonable person, especially a woman alone, would have done. The officers stopped Diallo because he “fit the profile” of a serial rapist in the area. I’m sure I also fit that profile at the time.

Fear is the one emotion black men are not allowed. Both in this case, the Sean Bell shooting in 2006, and Trayvon Martin’s killing in 2012, the idea that the dead black male might have been scared for his life is never considered. What only matters is how afraid they made their shooters.

So, film all you want, but until that changes, I doubt anything else will.

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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Social Commentary


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Arlene Martel…

Arlene Martel was the reason I won’t board an airplane if anyone greets me with “Room for one more, honey.”


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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Pop Life



Bye-bye, Baby…

Not a great week for my childhood.


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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Pop Life



What will your verse be?

I’d wanted the tweets and Facebook status updates to be uninformed responses to the latest Internet hoax, but unfortunately, they were true: Robin Williams died today. I remember watching reruns of Mork & Mindy and feeling a 10-year-old’s despair when the final episode aired. “There’s no more?” I thought, but then the next day, the series started over from the beginning. Even 30 years later, I sometimes wish life worked like syndication.

Mr. Williams, I’m sorry the Red Knight finally caught you, but thanks for everything you shared with us.


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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Pop Life



The Malmo of the Southeast…

April 15, 2007

“How do you like Savannah?” Sara asked Dana Cody, who’d moved there since they’d last seen each other.

“It’s the Malmo of the Southeast!” she responded — if one considered a prepared slogan an answer. “Tom feels especially at home because it’s where his mother grew up.”

Gina reflected on what an achievement it had been for her mother to leave her hometown. Her father, who’d moved from Pennsylvania to work for Coca-Cola, met Ellen Payton at a Christmas party in Savannah. Within a year, she was Mrs. Thomas Cody of Atlanta.

“The Paytons go back in Savannah to 1753,” Dana continued. “That’s why we were all so shocked when Regina moved to such a widdle baby city like Seattle.” She frowned in solemn reflection. “It still hasn’t really grown up, has it?”

Gina blew lightly on her no-longer hot tea.

“Goodness gracious,” she said with a Payton’s polite scorn.

“Who am I offending?” demanded Dana, reacting fiercely to Gina’s tone of voice. She swept the room with the back of her hand, and in truth, only Gina and Teresa seemed put off by her comments. “Everyone here’s as much from Seattle as you are. It’s like New York. Except Seattle’s a very soggy city… and I don’t mean the weather, not just.”

“What do you mean?” Sara asked.

“It’s like a town became a city and no one told it. There’s no rhythm, no pulse, and no drive. We were in Greenwood yesterday. Tom and I went with Matt to look at a spot he was considering for his next restaurant.” As if everyone was hanging on the thinnest rope of suspense, she added, “We advised him not to take it.” Gina flinched, offended on Sara’s behalf, although Dana’s words had breezed past Sara like wind along rock. “Anyway, on 85th, there’s a stop light where literally no one goes anywhere for like five minutes. Whoever heard of a light where no one can walk? And everyone’s standing there waiting!” She took down the rest of her drink in a triumphant gulp. “How you get anything done here is beyond me.”

“Seattle is more of a driving city,” Gina said shortly.

“Well, I agree with Tom: if a city isn’t a walking city, it’s not really a city. In Savannah, anywhere worth going is within walking distance of our home.”

Pulling her fingers from a thatch of red hair, Cindy Prior redirected the turbulent flow of conversation to herself or as close as she ever came.

“My sister is thinking about taking some time off in the fall and spending a few months away from Portland. She was considering Boulder or Austin.”

Gina almost laughed but stopped herself at a broad smile.

“Is the hustle and bustle of Foster-Powell getting to Mindy?” Gina asked, expressing her talent for effectively cloaking sarcasm with just a curl of a consonant.

“If she’s looking for a college town vibe, she ought to come down to Savannah.” Dana rubbed the dry twigs of her fingers together as if starting a fire. “And not just for a change of pace. She might be happier there long term. With all respect, the Portland thing’s not gonna last.”

“Why do you think it won’t last?” Sara asked. “There’s been steady economic growth in such industries as…”

“No, no, I mean last as a destination. The Times will eventually tire of it.” She added, “I mean the New York Times.”

“We know,” Teresa said coldly.

“You’ve been to New York?”

“I lived there for a year after college.”

“Oh, you did?” Dana remarked, as if New York’s collective bouncer had wandered off and Teresa had slipped past the velvet rope when he wasn’t looking.

“Teresa graduated from Stanford and left for a good job in the city.” Gina’s shoulders bopped to the tune her words unconsciously triggered in her head. Whenever Gina attempted to speak well of her husband’s sister, she focused on her academic credentials and brief pre-motherhood career in New York because those were the only things Teresa had done that made any sense to her.

Dana pointed her champagne glass at Jane Hind.

“You’re in Portland, too, right?”

“Yeah, Northeast. I actually wanted to live here on Capitol Hill, but it was impossible to find anything.”

“It’s really expensive,” Wiggles added, flicking off crumbs from her polo shirt onto the rug. “I mean, this is a cool house,” she noted approvingly to Sara, “but it probably went for a million or so.”

“1.6 million,” Sara replied — her precision for numbers obviating any pretense of modesty or impulse to boast.

A sharp whistle broke free of Wiggles’s wide nostrils.

“That’s why I think you’d really dig Savannah,” Dana told Jane. “The real estate market’s so much better than Portland or Seattle.”

Jane cocked her head.

“It is closer to my folks in Connecticut but still far enough away for peace of mind.”

The blue dots on opposite sides of Jane’s tiny nose recessed further into her cratered face, to the point of vanishing. She was actually considering Dana’s suggestion, which disappointed but didn’t surprise Gina. Jane was often ungrateful, taking for granted much of what Gina did for her.

“Does Georgia have reciprocity with Oregon? Or is there some strange form of law I’d have to learn?”

“I think you’re referring to the Napoleonic code,” Sara said. “That’s in Louisiana.”

“No, I don’t wanna do hurricane law,” Jane remarked, “I have enough trouble with underwater mortgages.”

— from The Wrong Questions

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Posted by on July 24, 2014 in Uncategorized


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