Wednesday, February 6, 2008


(March for Women's Lives, Washington D.C., April 25, 2004)

I have no comments about primary results except to say this: If woman-hating and white supremacy are playing an open role in this Presidential race, as they assuredly are (the only difference being that the malignancy has been unroofed), I think going to white men for analysis about "what it means" is like going to a male gynecologist. Choose your caregivers, as well as your information outlets, as lovingly as you choose your friends. This doesn't mean insularity -- some of my closest friends disagree with me in fundamental ways, which I appreciate. It means using trust and respect to winnow out who has your ear.

And I do wonder: If the Barack-hating were as in his face on news shows as the Hillary-hating is, how well would he deal with it? I know the man is surely facing assassination attempts by rightwing nutjobs as his campaign progresses. It's clear from what's going out on their talk radio, websites and flyers. Clearly the hate aimed against him is no less than what is targeting Hillary. But it bubbles up in different forms.

I can't read anything on a so-called progressive blog dominated by white males about Hillary that doesn't reek of woman-hating in its intellectual, I-am-the-great-objective-thinker guise. (Jesse Wendel being a strong exception.) Whereas the female bloggers that I read are, for the most part, struggling to identify their crap pro and con about both candidates and find a path through the minefields -- but then, we're raised to admit our mistakes.

Well, you can't kill maggots until you find out where the rot is. I keep telling myself that.

(Vulture woodcut by Tugboat Printshop)

One of the parenting policies of my mother which may or may not have been a good idea (I waffle) is that she seldom interfered with my choice of reading material. Mostly this freedom expanded my horizons, particularly since she did keep track and tried to engage me in conversation about what I had just absorbed after I finished a book. I remember that after I read Fanny Hill at around age nine, she poked questions at me in a way I knew meant there had been something in the book that concerned her. The sexual escapades were so decorously worded (in that 50s style) that they had gone over my head. I had blitzed through them. My only complaint to her was that "People smoked an awful lot of cigarettes", which sent her into crazed laughter I didn't comprehend until years later.

A few books, however, did upset me, at times enormously. I was sickened by Lolita, and given weeks of nightmares by the one-two punch of Triumph (by Philip Wylie, whom my mother had a love/hate relationship with as a reader) and On The Beach (by Nevil Shute), both of them post-nuclear-war apocalyptic nightmares that I read at around age 11.

I was also seriously rattled by by Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. The vampires were bad enough (and let me state here, this author should be credited for creating the world that Buffy would later inhabit). More thought-provoking was the message about conformity and difference: In a culture of vampires, the single "sane" individual who carries stakes and seeks their destruction is not only perceived by them to be "the bad guy", but possibly really is the problem. It gave me a great deal to think about, and in this case, I believe it was good for me.

I haven't seen the newest movie version of the book, although reviews say it does the message justice. I saw the previous adaptations, The Last Man on Earth (1964) and The Omega Man (1971), both of which I found disappointing when compared to the complexity of the book. But then, the only Charlton Heston role that seemed convincing to me was his gun-toting rant in Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine.

Having mentioned Buffy, let me direct you to a fun exercise, The GOP Primary Field Expressed As Buffy Villains, created by Neil Sinhababu at Cogitamus. Imagining Ron Paul as Morloch the Corruptor makes glimpses of him easier to bear.

From the folks at via Poor Impulse Control comes a video of the kind of cooking show I'd love to see (now that the Two Fat Ladies are no more): Cookin' and Cursin' with the Grandsons of Italy Warning: Not for work consumption or kids' ears!

There's a great interview with Susie Bright at Susie Bright-ens Boston at Sue Katz: Consenting Adult about the current state of publishing and writing on the internet. Gave me some chewy bits.

(Window with garden landscape, by Louis Comfort Tiffany circa 1902-1920)

The selection two days ago from The Writer's Almanac stuck with me enough that I'd like to share it with you. Offered through American Public Media, The Writer's Almanac sends out (to those who sign up, like I did) a daily poem selected and read aloud by Garrison Keillor, along with literary and historical notes for the day in question. A welcome addition to the e-mail box.

by William Matthews, 1998, from After All: Last Poems

"Perhaps you'll tire of me," muses
my love, although she's like a great city
to me, or a park that finds new
ways to wear each flounce of light
and investiture of weather.
Soil doesn't tire of rain, I think,

but I know what she fears: plans warp,
planes explode, topsoil gets peeled away
by floods. And worse than what we can't
control is what we could; those drab,
scuttled marriages we shed so
gratefully may augur we're on our owns

for good reasons. "Hi, honey," chirps Dread
when I come through the door, "you're home."
Experience is a great teacher
of the value of experience,
its claustrophobic prudence,
its gloomy name-the-disasters-

in-advance charisma. Listen,
my wary one, it's far too late
to unlove each other. Instead let's cook
something elaborate and not
invite anyone to share it but eat it
all up very very slowly.

And, to close out my post, another poem from Judy Grahn. I have to admit a personal attachment to this one because, a very long time ago, a woman I loved quoted it to me as if it were meant to be about me. A lovely memory.


Here, the sea strains to climb up on the land
and the tree blows dust in a single direction.
The trees bend themselves all one way
and volcanoes explode often
Why is this? Many years back
a woman of strong purpose
pass through this section
and everything else tried to follow

by Judy Grahn, circa 1971, in She Who

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