Who You Callin’ A…. QUESTION

Ebony magazine has a July 2007 cover story, stories, actually, in which it proclaims that it “engages Black America in an honest examination of race, language and the culture of disrespect.” It’s interesting, because in the time I’ve been reading Ebony, and it’s been, off and on, since I was a kid, this is the first time in a very long time that the magazine has provided multiple stories on one topic. Throughout, there was a timeline of race and language, then a series of articles. Worth reading, at least in the library.

The one piece that intrigued me the most is the one that suggests that there are thinks a member of the tribe can say that an outsider (say, a white male like Don Imus talking about black women) cannot. There’s a guy of Polish descent who I’ve played racquetball with, and he has occasionally provided himself with an ethnic slur that I would never say myself. This is an obvious notion that reminds me of a story from my childhood:
My sister Leslie was teasing our sister Marcia on the school playground; it wasn’t very nice. But when one of Leslie’s male friends started teasing Marcia with the same words, Leslie slugged him.

So my question is this: What do you say in your tribe or tribes, however you define it (ethnicity, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, fraternity, sorority, family) that is verboten when it comes from the outside? I’m really curious about this, because, except for very good friends, who I can tell when they’ve done an air-headed thing, I’ve never been all that comfortable with that kind of talk.
A couple things other people I read have discovered that interested me greatly.
1. From the U.K.’s Chris Black wonders whether attacks on Barack Obama as not black enough from some black groups might not make him even more attractive to some white voters. For a pol from across the pond, I think Mr. Black is pretty astute about American politics. “Not black enough” always reminds me of a Joan Armatrading lyric (from the title cut of an A&M EP, “How Cruel”)
“I had somebody say once my black was way too black,
And someone answer she’s not black enough for me.”
(I guess I’m not the only one who came to that conclusion. There’s a slow-loading Blogspot blog, Seattle for Barack Obama, that used that very quote.) I’m not sold on Senator Obama, but these kinds of attacks make him more sympathetic, I think.
2. The guy in the overalls found this citation to a 1970 DC Comics survey, conducted by a groovy Flash and a Superman we can dig, asking their readers to rap about what they’re interested in reading about. (Rap meant something different in 1970.) Right there between “pollution” and “space flights” is “black people”. I think that in 1970, I probably would have been offended, but now, it’s just hysterical.


Shared Roadway: HA!

If I’m ever ever on my bicycle and get into an accident with a car, this is the most likely scenario: I’m riding as far right as possible, with traffic, as the law requires. I go straight, while the car next to me makes a right turn so that I plow into the side of the vehicle, which did not have its directional signal on. I say this because it’s almost happened more than once, or a close variation. Just last week, this variation. Car is at the red light. I pull along side of it. It starts to turn right, heading toward me – we weren’t even in the intersection yet, so I guess he wanted to hug the curb. I say, very loudly, “WHOA!” And he stopped. No, he did not have his right directional on. If he had, I would have held back. The apparent optional nature of the right directional signal makes it very difficult, not only for bicyclists, but for pedestrians as well.

Now do I always obey the laws of the road while on the bike? I do not. There are certain places in Albany (New Scotland near CDPC, Western Avenue between Pine and Manning, much of Lark Street) when I just don’t feel very safe on the narrow roadway, when cars have come dangerously close in the past. And, in these cases, I head for the sidewalk, always yielding to the pedestrians, as it is THEIR turf. When I’m on the roadway, however, I do the right things; I signal, I stop at red lights and stop signs, etc.

There’s a traffic circle around the Harriman Campus and also at Corporate Woods that have signs reading “Shared roadway”. This is peculiar in that most roadways, with the exception of the Interstates ARE – supposedly – shared roadways.

In re: this, three items caught my attention. The most direct is the death of a young woman on her bicycle in Albany. The usually mild-mannered Daniel Van Riper scolds the media and others for blaming the victim in his June 10 and 21 posts here. The second is a piece ADD wrote about the environmental impact of the automobile. The third is the widely-noted Vatican rules of the road:
1. You shall not kill. OK, stolen from the “other” Ten Commandments, but a good idea.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. By “communion, I don’t think the Vatican meant giving someone the finger.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. Why, oh why, do people speed up to a red light?
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents. Some time ago, I had read this theory that all of those steel tanks on the road somehow isolate us from each other.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin. Sin in a car? Why, whatever did they mean?
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. This could cover everything from drunken driving to the road raged to those who’ve lost the ability to drive due to age.
7. Support the families of accident victims. Amen.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. Interesting. I’m a big fan of true reconciliation.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party. YES! That means all up and down the chain, from trucks watching for cars to bicyclists watching for pedestrians.
10. Feel responsible toward others. Ultimately, what it’s all about.

(DVR and the Vatican in the same post. Will wonders never cease?) ROG

The National Soccer Hall of Fame

Considering the fact that my in-laws live in Oneonta, it’s rather peculiar that it took Carol and me nearly eight years to visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the small city. Carol and I, with baby Lydia, made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2004 in Springfield, MA; I think Lydia was unimpressed.

Anyway, one might ask, why the heck is the Soccer HoF in Oneonta anyway. On the very first display in the Hall, that question is addressed. The colleges there, the State University College at Oneonta and Hartwick College both had had successes in the 1970s in soccer. OK, but still, why Oneonta? Because of its approximation to Cooperstown, some folks expected that they could make it another destination in the region.

Yes, I don’t know soccer, but my wife doesn’t really know basketball, either. While she loved that hall in Springfield, she and I were pretty bored with this place. At least until we got to the second floor, when we got to compete in some interactive games. Still, if it wasn’t for the fact that she got in free (it was Mother’s Day weekend), and I got in at 10% off with an AAA card ($11.25 instead of $12.50), it would have been an EXPENSIVE boring visit.

Of course, it can’t compete with the charm of Cooperstown. My father-in-law and I, as usual, went to the game last month, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. Here’s a description of the game, where minor league Brian Boch got 2 HRs, one a grand slam, and a double to lead the Orioles over the Blue Jays. My best recollections: off-key renditions by a barbershop quartet of BOTH O Canada AND The Star-Spangled Banner; four of the eight homers landing in our section, including one that hit just to my right, hit a concrete facing, then careened to the left in front of me.

Our favorite sport, though, is begging the center fielder for the ball. This is an annual event, where after the warm ups between half innings, the sections make as much noise as possible so that the player will toss the ball to their section. No one played this as well as Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells, who really knew how to milk the crowd. One time, he hid one ball while taunting the crowd with another. When he threw it to the one section, the other section moaned, until he produced the second sphere. Great theater for the three innings he stayed in the game.

I Love a Parade

I was very interested in Gay Prof’s piece on the gay pride march in Boston a couple of weekends ago, in part because I participated in Albany’s parade around the same time. Based on his piece and the several comments the piece generated, I’ve concluded that the Gay Pride march in the big cities (New York, San Francisco, presumably Boston), and the ones in smaller cities, such as Albany, are very different animals. The big city events, from what I read, have been co-opted by the advertisers trying to market to a niche, while our parade seemed as though it was making a statement.

Actually, I hadn’t gotten up that day planning on marching. But when I got to church, several of the members were working on the Albany Presbytery float with this cardboard Jesus in the front and a rainbow of colors decorating the float. The service had ended, the parade, which had, in previous years had taken place during the service, had not yet started, and so I joined in. there was a real sense of comradery – the AIDS activists, the PFLAG moms, the drag queens, the Presbyterians all there for civil rights, human rights.

Clearly, the crowds lining the streets were appreciative of the church taking a stand. Well, except for the one guy with a huge sign citing scripture about gaining the world and losing one’s soul. He could not have been happy about Christians, so-called in his mind, involved in such an activity.

For some reason, I’ve gotten on a mailing list of some Methodists – I used to be a Methodist – who are very disturbed by the policies of the church leadership. They actually use terms such as “gay agenda.”

On a related topic, our dysfunctional State Legislature has passed another one-house bill. Our Democratic Party-controlled state Assembly passed legislation in favor of gay marriage; the Republican-led State Senate didn’t even bring it up before they went home for a few weeks. Here’s the front cover of the paper that day. Don’t expect this to pass the State senate anytime soon.

The Lydster, Part 39: Dancing Queen

I know you’ve all been asking: just what music does Lydia like to dance to? The answer is just about anything with a beat. Sure, she’ll do the routines on the Barney video or move to the tunes on her albums, which I’ll play at her request, but will not initiate…

…but just as often, it’s whatever music I might be playing: Stevie Wonder (“Boogie on Reggae Woman”), Traffic (“Glad”), Dylan (“I Want You”), Beatles (“Lady Madonna”), some blues or reggae or jazz. She really isn’t all that particular. Most recently, it was some Brian Wilson album.

And she’s pretty good at it. The still photos don’t do her justice.

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