Friday, March 31, 2006

Freedom at the point of a gun

Mikaela says:
Kudos to BBC. I love it when a simple image calls into question the truth and credibility of the words disengenuously offered as foreign policy and justification for illegal war, detension, and murder.

In a major foreign policy speech, Ms Rice said the US had no desire to be the world's jailer, referring to the detention of inmates at Guantanamo Bay.

She said the cause of advancing freedom was the greatest hope for peace today.

Her comments came during a visit to the UK city of Blackburn. The tour has sparked anti-war protests.

"President Bush has stated unequivocally, as have I, that the United States is a nation of laws and we do not tolerate any American at home or abroad engaging in acts of torture," Ms Rice said.

"We also have no desire to be the world's jailer. We want the terrorists we capture to stand trial for their crimes," she said.


Maggie says:
Just heard this on "This Way Out," the gay and lesbian news program on KUNM:

The Constitution... or the Bible?

(story link)

On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at AU, was requested to testify.

At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"

Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

The room erupted into applause.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Newspaper girl goes without

Maggie says:
During my long spell of job-searching, I found myself absolutely broke about a month ago when it came time to renew my Journal subscription. So I let it go.

I'm a newspaper girl through and through. I've held one in my hands probably 95% of all my mornings since I was 14 or so. The thought of going without seemed oddly paralyzing. What do you do while drinking that first cup of coffee if not read a newspaper? How else do you get a sense of the day's weather besides fetching the front-stoop headlines in your pajamas? How do you get that absentmindedly-cute look without the possibility of newsprint smeared on your face?

I even have a coffee mug from the Newseum that says "I love the smell of newsprint in the morning." And I do. I'm that nerdy.

Checking the news online is just not the same for me. It never will be.

So there was some getting used to the lack of a newspaper, for sure. And I still miss its physical presence, what it represents to me. But I also have to admit how oddly... free I feel. And how much less annoyed I am.

See, the Journal never was a real newspaper to me. It could never even be the physical symbol of something I've grown to love, because what I could never love about it is so damn pronounced. It would sit there on my doorstep and just mock me. It could never in a million years be The Boston Globe. It could never even be The Raleigh News & Observer. It was everything I couldn't have in this town. It had ads on the front page!!!!

I'm the girl who always carries around the paper. And probably yesterday's, too. And now I'm paperless.

This says a lot about the Journal. Not reading the Globe when I lived in Boston would've been unacceptable (hell, I still read it!). Back home, I genuinely look forward to the N&O's perspective every morning. But the Journal makes me want to scream. Or cry. And for this media hound, maybe enough is enough. Until I can get my newsprint fix with some dignity (or the Trib decides to print a special morning edition just for me each day), I'm going to try and stay away. It's just not worth it to me anymore.

My gung-ho newshound teenage self is somewhere cowering in shame.

immigration and reactionaries

marjorie says...

Do folks ever read the columns of Cal Thomas? He’s really great for demonstrating reactionary viewpoints. Yesterday his column was about immigration.

His overarching theme is that all 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. should be immediately deported, regardless of how long they’ve been here or how integrated into the community. And he ranted that everyone who walked out of school or off the job should have to prove they are here legally. Following his logic, we should go on a massive manhunt and deport them all.

He really cracked me up when he started talking about Jesus. After attacking Hillary Clinton’s interpretation of the Good Samaritan story, he goes on to say:

“Notice that Jesus didn’t call on a government program for help. As for how this relates to illegal immigration, Jesus never counseled breaking laws.”

Cal, Jesus is one of the most radical people in our history. He counseled people to give up all their worldly possessions and follow him, he threw the moneylenders out, he admonished people to turn the other cheek. He would have been the first person to urge a walk-out. He also was not concerned with laws. In fact, he was an organizer of the people and he threatened the ruling establishment. This is why he was executed.

Please. He would have been in that fact, perhaps he was.

Cal goes on to the crux of the matter, which is that “many Americans believe we are losing our unique national identity,” and he notes that the regional D.C. population will soon be “majority minority”. But then he asserts that the issue isn’t race or ethnicity but the lack of assimilation. “It is our failure to make non-hyphenated Americans out of them,” he says.

Folks, this is what you call reactionary…if you ever wondered about that. It's also a good demonstration of what fear looks like.

Of course, in New Mexico we know what it’s like to live in a “majority minority” state. Come now, good white people, do you feel threatened? Does the fact that there is such a diversity of “language, customs, culture,” not to mention “political agendas” in New Mexico create a problem? No, it does not. Rather, it makes this state vibrant as all hell.


Undocumented workers? The fact is that we occupy the most powerful and wealthy country in the world. It goes without saying that we along with our counterparts in the “first world” will experience waves of immigrants, undocumented or not. If we don’t like it…better to look at the underlying structural reasons for it than to criminalize poor people. In an increasingly integrated world where capital flows freely it goes without saying that labor will flow as well, whether we like it or not.

In terms of jobs being threatened here, it’s true that large numbers of immigrants depress wages. I really cringe when I hear folks saying that undocumented workers do the work that American workers refuse. For instance, the Albuquerque Journal editorialized yesterday about undocumented workers as "holding down jobs that citizens were unwilling to do for the wages they pay." This type of statement misplaces blame onto American workers. These jobs don't "just exist" at a given pay scale. The fact is that large numbers of unskilled workers depress wages. If that pool of workers was smaller those wages would go up.

But from our side, the solution isn’t to attack them and deny them entry…they’re coming whether we like it or not. Rather it’s to support them. There should be no "illegal" human in this country. That is not only inhumane, it's counter-productive to the health of our communities. Only by creating conditions in which there is no fear of deportation can working people in this country unify and organize themselves to push back at exploitative working conditions.

Migrant Farm Workers Exhibit at NHCC

Mikaela says:
I know there are valid issues for boycotting the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC). Yes, it sold off its buildings to corporations to get them built. Yes, there's been a recent rash of firings when long-term, valuable employees didn't tow the political line. Yes, its mission as a "National" cultural center is complicated when it receives its meager budget predominantly from the New Mexico legislature. Yes, it has not had the best reputation of working with established local organizations to target, support, and advertise events. Yes, yes, yes.

All of this is very very sad for me, because as a celebrant of culture, there is much to recommend the Center.

Last night's event organized by the director of Literary Arts, Carlos Vasquez, was an important example. NHCC is hosting an exhibit of photographs by Rick Nahmias, who worked for years to develop The Migrant Project: Contemporary California Farm Workers. He's an independent photographer who collaborated with legal aid groups and labor groups to document the horrendous and exploitive working conditions for the huge population of both documented and undocumented migrant farm workers in California.

Last night was the opening, which I attended almost by accident, but I am so glad that I did not miss it, as most Albuquerqueans did, since the event was all but stealth. Even with a lack of notice, there were maybe 65-80 people there, hearing from both the photographer and local UNM professor who advocates for farm labor rights.

What's valuable about this exhibit for me was the subtlety and immediacy of the images. These are not over-the-top you-must-care-because-this-is-horrifying (which often elicits a turned-off response from those who don't want to see, don't want to know) images. These are take-a-moment-and-look, see-yourself, see-human-beings, see-the-reality images. They are undeniable. Real. Powerful. Effective.

It's a small exhibit, perhaps taking you as little as five minutes and as much as an hour to absorb. I think the impact will last much longer. Take the time. Understand the reality of the lives of the people vital to feeding us. Don't we owe them at least that?

The free exhibit is displayed in the Salón Ortega of the History and Literary Arts building of the National Hispanic Cultural Center. For further information about the exhibit, contact Carlos Vásquez, Director, History and Literary Arts, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center at 505 724-4778.

Albuquerque March to Support Social Justice for Immigrants

Mikaela says:
Wondering where to protest recent regressive/repressive immigration legislation? Join us!

Martineztown Park.
This Saturday.
11 am.

Reposted from City of Albuquerque website:

35 Organizations Support Annual César Chávez March, Rally

Albuquerque, NM A coalition of more than 35 organizations are uniting to support this year’s march and rally at Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza April 1 to commemorate César Chávez.

For the thirteenth year, the “Recuerda a César Chávez” Committee is planning the event to mark the anniversary of the birth of the man who dedicated his life to bringing about social justice for American farm workers.

The march will begin at 11:00 a.m. at Martineztown Park on the north side of Longfellow Elementary School (Edith and Roma downtown) and will end at Civic Plaza. A rally will follow the march at Civic Plaza and will continue until approximately
3:30 p.m. with speakers and entertainment. Food will be available for purchase from local vendors.

Theme of Event: Social Justice for Immigrants
The goal of the celebration is bringing Albuquerque’s diverse communities together and educating them about the life and nonviolent philosophy of César Chávez. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Social Justice for Immigrants.”

Groups performing at the rally April 1 include Aztec dancers and La Rondalla de Albuquerque. Also performing will be Los Trinos, Mariachi San José, Balé Folclórico of Albuquerque High School, poets Danny Solís and Manuel González, rapper Jeremy Gianini, guitarist Paz, and musical group Con Razón.

For further information about the César Chávez march and rally, contact Bonnie Rucobo, Albuquerque Human Rights Office Community Liaison, at 505-924-3380, 505-924-3372 (fax) or 800-659-8331 (TTY) or Other contacts include Chuy Martinez at the City’s Cultural Services Department (505 768-3531) and organizers Eduardo Hernández Chávez or Ysaura Bernal-Enríquez (505 256-1523).


City of Albuquerque Cultural Services Department and Human Rights Office, Blue Collar Union Local 624, Center for Economic Justice, Lo Maduro de La Cultura, National Hispanic Cultural Center, UNM Chicano Studies

Central NM Labor Council, Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, MANA de Albuquerque, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees District 1199, NM Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, UNM Africana Studies, UNM El Centro De La Raza, United Food & Commercial Workers

Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Albuquerque High MEChA, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Dolores Gonzalez Elementary School, Enlace Comunitario, Longfellow Elementary School, M Progressive Alliance for Community Empowerment, Nuestros Valores Charter School, SAGE Council, Santa Barbara-Martineztown Neighborhood Association, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, SouthWest Organizing Project, UNM Center for Latin American Resources and Outreach (CLARO), UNM Family Program, UNM MEChA, UNM Peer Mentoring for Graduates of Color, UNM Raza Graduate Students Association, UNM U.S. Peace Corps, West Mesa High School MEChA,
Young Women United.

Poetry is Relevant

Mikaela says:
As a lover of poetry, I'm often astounded at the lack of events that connect real people living real lives with authors who have insight that we all could use. You, too? Meet me at the library. The City thinks so, too. (P.S. Look for more poetry event announcements in April.)

Kick Off National Poetry Month

Friday, March 31
2:00 p.m. at the North Valley Library

Enjoy poetry readings by Don Gutierrez, Professor Emeritus of English at Western New Mexico University. Mr. Gutierrez will read from the works of Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams and Kenneth Rexroth. This event is free and open to the public.

For additional information, including accessibility, call the North Valley Library at (505) 897-8823. TTY users call Relay NM at (800) 659-8331.

The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System is a division of the City of Albuquerque Cultural Services Department.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Remember our b-day love?

Maggie says:
It's funny what lingers and what doesn't. I get more comments about the series of birthday posts we did for m-pyre's first birthday than anything else that's ever been posted on the blog. The comments usually fall into one or both of these camps:

  • I love how much love you guys have for each other!
  • Men could never write about each other that way. Why not?
As of today, the infamous birthday posts are linked up on our permanent sidebar (look under the archives) as a testament to the fact that A) we really do love each other that much, B) we've grown up! (kind of), and C) because they act as an archive of sorts, where we picked out what we most liked about each other's writing for our first year. So have at them. And just think, we're well on our way to birthday #2!

Our right to bear batteries

Maggie says:
In busy times like these, it takes an absolute outrage to pull me out of my head space and write. What's the latest outrage, you ask? Iraq, Wal-Mart, or Bush? Nope. What's pissing me off right now are sex toy politics.

Consider this:

  • Mississippi has banned the sale of sex toys within its borders, and a federal appeals court just upheld the law.
  • The sale of sex toys is also illegal in Alabama, and the U.S. Supreme Court just declined to hear a case challenging the law on sexual privacy grounds.
  • Apparently Florida, Texas, and Georgia also have similar laws under consideration or on the books in some form.
In the Mississippi and Alabama cases, what's troubling isn't just the denial of what some have termed "a fundamental right to dildos" (an exaggerated phrase, obviously), but rather a continuation of sex-negative policy that fundamentally discriminates against women.

First, the laws. We've all heard about those age-old laws discovered to still be on the books (like the legality of beating your wife as long as you use an instrument smaller than your arm, etc.). It's important to note that these sex toy bans are not those laws. They're recent additions to the books that are being fervently defended as I write this.

In upholding the Mississippi and Alabama laws, the courts have seemingly disagreed with the merits of the bans(Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett noted the "erroneous foundation that private sexual acts can be made a crime in the name of promoting public morality"), but declined to set a precedent that might someday (somehow?) be tied to "adult incest, prostitution, obscenity, and the like." In Alabama, Barkett charged Alabama citizens with repealing the law on their own:
"If the people of Alabama in time decide that prohibition on sex toys is misguided, or ineffective, or just plain silly, they can repeal the law and be finished with the matter."
In other words, 'You silly Alabamans, you. How funny you elected folks who would enact these laws in the first place! Don't you know better?'

Well, no, apparently not. I'm always personally amused with the die-hard Republican busted at the local S&M party or the fervent moralist who would outlaw abortion for everyone else but herself. Somehow everything needs to connect. We reap what we sow. If you elect hypocritical Puritans, don't be surprised when they start peeking into your bedroom.

The implications. Both laws prohibit selling sex toys, not possessing them. But consider the implicit class connotations here. For those of you who can afford out-of-state trips and meccas to sex shops, you're all set. Stuck inside "The Magnolia State?" Screwed. Or... not. ;-)

In Mississippi, a state infamous for its lax gun control, high levels of poverty, obesity, and sub-par education, lawmakers are choosing to focus on sex above all else. And not even sex that can result in a pregnancy - they're focusing on solo sex! Truly the crime of the day.

As we've seen throughout these dark Bush years, damaging gender stereotypes are at the root of so many policy decisions. With Plan B, lawmakers rush en masse to limit the drug despite the fact that its use could drastically lower abortion rates, which they say is their goal. Here, with sex toys, we see more of the same. The real fear isn't teen pregnancy, or children born out of wedlock, it's women enjoying sex and having it for fun. Yet the right will ever admit that.

Tellingly, organized protest in these states has come primarily from the sex trade itself (i.e. adult stores), not from average citizens. And to me, that's the real problem. Until Sally from the school board and Ann the local law student start protesting the complete bullshit that is their state's sex policy, nothing will change. Until we organize to say "Your laws target us, and we're not going to take it," good 'ol boy lawmakers are never even going to notice. In fact, sex store protests only embolden their position further.

Under Mississippi state law, sexually-satisfied women are considered the real terrorists, and the Unabomber types who can buy arms at gun shows without background checks or waiting periods are given a free pass. How interesting. And how sad for all of us.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Incredible L.A.

Maggie marvels:
Los Angeles is blowing my mind. Amazing. I hope everyone's been taking notice.

Photos from the Los Angeles Times, my go-to source for coverage of the protests.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Wall along our Border? Americans say NO.

marjorie says...

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks the idea of a wall along our border with Mexico is a bad idea...

"Of 2,010 Mexicans and Americans surveyed by research groups CIDAC and Zogby International, 69 percent of Americans and 90 percent of Mexicans opposed a proposal in the U.S. Congress to build a fence along much of the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border."

Not only that, but according to this survey the vast majority of Americans view Mexicans as "hardworking and honest". Interesting that of Mexicans surveyed, a little over half viewed Americans negatively. Now, I wonder where they got that idea? I think this gets at the fact that in general the people in this country are apathetic about politics, like to think of themselves as "apolitical", etc., when in fact their opinions matter. When you go out and ask them what they think, on all sorts of questions, what you'll often find is at odds with what we might pick up from media and politicians.

You know what they say folks: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Your opinions matter.

Things in Albuquerque that make me happy

Maggie says:
It's snowing outside, so this has me celebrating all the unexpected delights that make me happy in this town. There are the huge, important things that make this place click for me, starting with the amazing people here, the community spirit, the sense of change, and the natural beauty. And being newly employed isn’t bad, either. But inspired by Nora over on Duke City Fix, here’s my list of things in Albuquerque that make my consumer side happy, too.

El Paisa on Bridge (just before Isleta)
. Best dive in town. For me, there's no better (or cheaper!) lunch around than two tacos pastor with lots of onion, cilantro, and lime. I used to be addicted to El Paisa and had to pull myself away… but I was happily back last weekend after a river walk with the dog and I was smiling the whole time.

The A Store. I love this place first because I used to work there, but mostly because Jay/Josh/Hans are darling, and they have great dishes, fun jewelry, and amazing coffee. If you buy your beans here it'll be really difficult to drink coffee bought anywhere else. All the beans are great, but my favorite is the Santa Fe Blend. (I ship pounds of it back home to my family in North Carolinaseriously.)

Now We’re Cooking
. I love cooking and kitchen gadgets, and this is the go-to place for random items you'll tuck away in your drawer and hardly ever use, but love to know you have anyway.

. Wearing glorified pajamas, unclear about when my last shower was, hunkered down with my laptop or a good book, and eating one of their breakfast burritos... that is happiness for me.

Tully's Market
. You've probably sped by it a million times and never known that this little hole-in-the-wall joint in a strip mall on San Mateo is the best place in town to buy Italian meats, cheeses, olives, and canned goods. I'm a big romano cheese girl, and this place stands up to the cheese anywhere in town and at a lower price. I go here for my canned tomatoes every time I'm making sauce, and it's the only place in town to buy sandwich meat, as far as I'm concerned. Go for lunch to try one of their huge sandwiches (splitting the Joe D'Maggio with onions added is to die for if your lunch date will have the same breath you do!) and you'll see what I mean. Don't forget a side of their amazing olive salad with fresh, yummy olives and pickled vegetables.

The Guild. There's nothing like going to the Guild to see a great flick you’ll see nowhere else with a great group of friends. Although for anyone who was in the “Paradise Now” screening a few weeks back when six of us were making a scene in the back rows at the start of the movie… sorry.

Los Poblanos Organics. This local CSA is such a great experience. I was a member up until a year ago and am itching to get back into it. I miss the surprise and fun of getting fresh veggies every week, often things you'd never buy yourself. This project is great to support for community reasons as well as health reasons, and I urge everyone to become part of Farmer Monte’s fan club. My best LPO memory: making a soup using all the random LPO veggies I had in my fridge (I think I ended up with 19) and having my guests try to guess them all. No one could!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Selling Out the Dream

Mikaela says:
How do you go from civil rights activist and MLK's go-to man to Wal-mart's PR peddler?

I have no idea, but Andrew Young has done it.

He's heading up the Wal-mart created group, "Working Families for Wal-mart" whose express mission is counteracting Wal-mart's bad image. You know, the image of the company as a gigantic money-making bohemoth that sells all foreign merchandise to working-class families that couldn't afford to shop there if they worked there and who wouldn't have health insurance as Wal-mart employees. You know, Wal-mart the Union-preventer.

No, no, Young says, in the LA Times story. You got it all wrong. Wal-mart helps working class families become middle class -- through buying shit! China-made shit.

Young himself would like to see a Wal-Mart in every poor urban community.

"To have a Wal-Mart in your neighborhood means you can live a middle-class lifestyle," he said. "Wal-Mart has done extremely well in small rural towns, but the most lucrative market is the inner city. It is a trillion-dollar economy and it is definitely underserved."
Underserved or unexploited? You want inner-city folks to do their part in lining the pockets of the Walton clan? Is that it? Afraid they'll get left out of the "global economy" that provides oh-so-well for middle-class and working-class Americans? Right.

In two weeks, Wal-Mart will open its first store inside the freeway loop that surrounds Atlanta and distinguishes the city from the suburbs. The Gresham Road store is in a struggling, predominantly African American community not far from gentrifying neighborhoods.

"We're trusting and hoping that Wal-Mart revitalizes the area," said James McWhorter, church administrator of the Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church, which acted as a pre-hiring center for the new store. Nearly 5,000 people applied for 450 jobs.
Jobs but not good jobs. Jobs that keep people in poverty. Sign me up!

Where are the examples of Wal-mart revitalizing neighborhoods? Where has that happened? Really, I want to know. Maybe I'm ignorant. I often am.

Why all this excitement about Wal-mart? Because Mom and Pop stores "take advantage of poor African Americans."

"Many residents would love to have a Wal-Mart come in," said Beasley, who works in a poor northwest Atlanta community where, he said, small stores often charge high prices for spoiling meat and vegetables and impose 2% fees for cashing checks.
But, counters another leader,

"One of the things my generation has a problem with is that we silence and mute social justice for the sake of sponsorship of a chicken dinner," said the Rev. Markel Hutchins, 28, associate pastor at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Atlanta. "We should not forget that Wal-Mart makes its money off the backs of those whom we serve."
Paul Blank, campaign director for, a 150,000-member group backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, suggested that Young serve the poor by helping to make Wal-Mart a better company.

"Wal-Mart is creating a permanent underclass," he said. "It's in direct contrast to the ideals of economic and social justice in America.

Wal-Mart is not the first private company that Young has supported. After serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, he set up GoodWorks International, a consulting group for corporations.

In 1997, Young established a contract with Nike. After touring factories in Asia with Nike interpreters, he said he found no evidence of widespread mistreatment of workers. Young was criticized for not addressing the issue of low factory wages.

In his later years, Young explained, he has become disillusioned with trade unions and government and has turned to the private sector to generate wealth in poor communities.

"What I've found is that if you want to generate wealth, you have to be where the money is," he said. "The challenge for democracy and free enterprise in the 21st century is to do for the poor what Roosevelt did for the middle class."

Right, because Wal-mart gives a shit about generating wealth for the middle class. That's why they pay so well. Right. In the absence of all evidence lending credibility to that assertion, I keep forgetting.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Women's Month

Mikaela says:
All these designated months. What good do they do? Aren't they really a slap in the face, a weak form of pacification, some half-assed apology that things aren't better, but at least we're thinking about you?

Lest we take it for granted how far we've come, maybe it's good to remember and be thankful that at least we have the recognition that we warrant a month. We've fought hard for what we have.

There's still a long way to go.

The ACLU put together a wonderful slide show on women's history and a page on women's rights.

I'm struggling these days with what it means to be a woman in relationship. Not easy. Still not easy. I haven't had to make the compromises and sacrifices that many women make. I've chosen not to have children until I can have a partner who will raise them with me, but there's a ticking clock, and I've promised myself I'll do it alone -- partner or no partner -- by 36 because motherhood means that much to me.

In the meantime, I struggle in each of my relationships to ask for what I want and need, to ask as much of a man as I give, to remember I'm worthy of love and care, too. As a woman, I value care-taking; I'm good at it. As a woman, I often forget to allow space for someone to take care of me. Afraid of being disappointed, it alwasys seems easier to just do it yourself.

Real strength, I tell myself, is keeping yourself open all the time, knowing you can pick up the pieces even when your heart shatters. Friends will be there to help you gather the shards. I strive to live as though making myself as beautiful as stained glass -- broken and sealed into art and beauty.

In honor of women's month, a poem by June Jordan, one of my favorites, who always has so much to say that all of us need to learn.

The Talking Back of Miss Valentine Jones: Poem # one
by June Jordan

well I wanted to braid my hair
bathe and bedeck my
self so fine
so fully aforethought for
your pleasure

I wanted to travel and read
and runaround fantastic
into war and peace:

I wanted to
and be conquered

I wanted to pickup the phone
and find you asking me
if I might possibly be alone
some night
(so I could answer cool
as the jewels I would wear
on bareskin for you
digmedaddy delectation:)

you comin ova?"

But I had to remember to write down
margarine on the list
and shoepolish and a can of
sliced pineapple in casea company
and a quarta skim milk cause Teresa's
gaining weight and don' nobody groove on
that much
and next I hadta sort for darks and lights before
the laundry hit the water which I had
to kinda keep an eye on be-
cause if the big hose jumps the sink again that
Mrs. Thompson gointa come upstairs
and brain me with a mop don' smell too
nice even though she hang
it headfirst out the winda

and I had to check
on William like to
burn hisself to death with fever
boy so thin be
callin all day "Momma! Sing to me?"
"Ma! Am I gone die?" and me not
wake enough to sit beside him longer than
to wipeaway the sweat or change the sheets/
his shirt and feed him orange
juice before I fall out of sleep and
Sweet My Jesus ain but one can
and we not thru the afternoon
and now

you (temporarily) shownup with a thing
you says' a poem and you
call it
"Will The Real Miss Black America Standup?"

guilty po' mouth
about duty beauties of my
boozeup doozies about
never mind
cause love is blind

I can't use it

and the very next bodacious Blackman
call me queen
because my life ain shit
because (in any case) he ain been here to share it
with me
(dish for dish and do for do and
dream for dream)
I'm gone scream him out my house
cause what I wanted was
to braid my hair/bathe and bedeck my
self so fully be-
cause what I wanted was
your love
not pity
cause what I wanted was
your love

your love

From Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems by June Jordan, published by Thunder's Mouth Press. Copyright © 1989 June Jordan. Used with permission.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Women for peace

Maggie marvels:
From Los Angeles on March 8, International Women's Day. Aerial via CodePink.

mmm thinks

Mikaela says:
Check out the newest addition to m-pyre: The Zoom Cloud.

This fully automated baby tags blog posts and randomly exhibits quirky tags for some interesting juxtapositions... (m-pyrical earlier today showed: sperm spying sex south spy split).

Other favorites from mjae: honey love and m-pyre: pearl pleasure

What you'll see today are tags from the last 15 posts or so, but over time, the picks will get deeper -- 90 days deep. Want a quick window into m-pyre's thinking? Check out the cloud! Bigger fonts indicate more mentions of that particular tag. Have fun cloud diving. Ahem. Keep it clean, kids.

Much love from deep in the m-pyre (renewing ourselves through technology as much as political fire),

three m's

Friday, March 10, 2006

R.I.P. Pearl's Dive

Maggie says:
M3 just had our last meal at Pearl's. It felt great to see the place so packed full of people giving Pearl their regards (she even got flowers!). But we felt terrible hearing that while Pearl sold it under the impression the business would remain open, it's now looking like the space will be closed for a while to come. Sigh...

The three of us have had so many fun times there. It's seen us through jobs, relationships, moves, master's degrees, and every type of girl talk you can imagine.

As Pearl told us this afternoon, "It's had a good run."

Here's a toast to our favorite place in town... may she rest in peace.

Favorite Pearl's memories, anyone?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Down with the cubicle!

Maggie says:
I've only had one cubicle job in my life, and I hated it. It was a single cubicle in a huge Wal-mart-sized room full of cubicles. I was an ant using company e-mail. A bee buzzing back and forth to the copier. Never again, I swore.

I'm used to communal office space where coworkers can see each other, where we share resources and laughter and make faces at each other over our laptops. But also where we brainstorm together, take notes on flipcharts and chalkboards, and spread out our working materials so we can all look at them together. In collaboration, great work is born.

Did I mention I watched Office Space four times in the last week?

Starting a new job soon, and I'm pretty sure I'll be in a cube. Such is life, perhaps. At least in planning the whole point is that we're out in the community, not at a desk all day. Right? Right?

Anyway, there's a surprisingly fascinating article today in Fortune of all places. In Cubicles: The Great Mistake, it's described how cubicle inventor Robert Propst came to malign his own creation before his death. What began as an inspiration for increased productivity is now "the Fidel Castro of office furniture," seemingly undying in the face of change all around it.

"The Action Office wasn't conceived to cram a lot of people into little space," says Joe Schwartz, Herman Miller's former marketing chief, who helped launch the system in 1968. "It was driven that way by economics."

Economics was the one thing Propst had failed to take into account. But it was also what triggered the cubicle's runaway success. Around the time the Action Office was born, a growing breed of white-collar workers, whose job titles fell between secretary and boss, was swelling the workforce. Also, real estate prices were rising, as was the cost of reconfiguring office buildings, making the physical office a drag on the corporate budget. Cubicles, or "systems furniture," as they are euphemistically called, offered a cheaper alternative for redoing the floorplan.

Designer Douglas Bell recalls the letdown after seeing his vision in action. "I thought I'd be excited, but I came out depressed. It was Dilbertville. I'd failed to visualize what it would look like when there were so many of them."

Cubicle backlash has been going on for years, from Peter Gibbons and Milton to Dilbert to hordes of folks choosing to work from home if the option exists rather than being squirreled into their boxy workspace. And as the Fortune article suggests, although new office systems are being developed by the latest innovators, the cube isn't going anywhere.

I can't help but think of the planning parallels here. How far removed are dozens of workers caged in tiny cubicles from dozens of families housed in matching starter homes in sprawling new bedroom communities? In both cases, interaction is discouraged. Privacy is king. The mantra of "this is mine" rules. And in both scenarios, we compete in a fervor for resources without anyone winning at all. But in our most honest moments, can't we admit that neither the Westside starter home nor the jam-packed cubicle is the American Dream?

Propst is right: down with his cube. Bring on the loud newsroom-style offices of yesterday. Bring on interaction and free-flowing information exchange. Bring on engagement!

Hee hee hee... more politician look-alikes

Maggie says:
In our last installment of "Bad Politicians and the Famous People they Resemble," we laughed at the matching Nehru jackets and hair of Rep. Heather Wilson and John Lennon.

Today we present George W Bush and Ted Bundy, courtesy of my Boston girl Nancy.

Just kinda makes sense, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Every sperm is sacred!

Maggie says:
Via Feministing (one of my favorite blogs). Full cartoon at Mikhaela Reid (you can't read the text on a full paste).

Special kudos for the cartoon's subtitle (Sperm Suffrage Now!) and the note on the bottom ("*Excluding homosexual and black sperm").

Fascinated by 'PostSecret'

Maggie says:
PostSecret is addictive. And fascinating. And kind of like something you feel guilty for liking so much. New secrets posted every Sunday. You've been warned...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Guarding Democracy

Mikaela raves:
Great opinion column by personal favorite, V.B. Price.

Excerpt below, full piece here.

The idealism of American education has long taught that American government forms the apex of civilized rule. Our constitutional democracy of checks and balances, we were told in school, represented centuries of struggle up from barbarism, imperial tyranny, feudalism and the aristocratic rule of the rich and privileged. We were portrayed to ourselves as a nation of law, against which no Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or Mao could stand a chance. Our government was portrayed as the exact opposite of a repressive police state.

But today we see ourselves becoming increasingly like the governments we have always opposed - and like that brutal part of our national past we have worked so long and hard to overcome. It's the part of our national character that slaughtered strikers, refused women the vote, committed genocidal acts against American Indians, enslaved blacks in the South, oppressed Chinese workers after they'd built the railroads west, contaminated our waters, polluted our cities, forced workers to labor under terrible conditions, interned and impoverished Japanese Americans, spied on war protesters and the likes of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and infiltrated peace groups to disorganize and undermine them.


We've sought to right our wrongs, because we've believed ourselves to be the citadel of justice, fairness, compassion and peace. But now we see our own government doing the very things we were always taught to abhor.

Pearl's Passing

Mikaela says:
Like sands in the hour glass, so ends all the good days of our downtown lives.

It's official.

Pearl's Dive is closing, and my heart is irreparably broken.

A co-worker heard it from Pearl herself today. She's sold the place and is going back to school.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Sand to Pearl to sand again...

O'Neill's Update!!!

Maggie says:
For everyone in town still mourning the loss of O'Neill's, the Nob Hill standby and supplier of great beer on tap and veggie burgers "black and bleu" style, here's some great news!!!


(well, almost)

Rob and Ron O'Neill have been very busy getting our new location ready for our July 2006 opening. We figure we are half way there and can't wait so.......

We are having an OPEN HOUSE to show off our progress!! You're invited to join us on ST. PATRICK'S DAY (of course), Friday March 17th from 4:30PM to 6:00PM for PIPERS, lite REFRESHMENT and a taste of O'Niell's to come.

Our new location is at the corner of Washington and Central (4310 Central Avenue SE). Parking is around the back. Please join us before you celebrate St. Patty's around town!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cultural Up-Beat

Mikaela says:
I'm a culture-lover. As a repository of values, traditions, aesthetics, and worldviews, cultures often prove the true battle grounds for different groups to assert themselves in society. All cultures have the right to be present and should be celebrated. America's not so much the melting pot as the great land of overlay.

Different cultural groups use space differently, interact differently, celebrate differently, and create art and music differently. Sometimes, methods are shared among groups. Sometimes, cultures share and learn from each other. In the best cases, the coming together of multiple cultures teaches us all how to understand and love being human more than we otherwise could.

Today, in the news, two stories with culture at the heart of the issue.

First, the Smithsonian has created a Hip-hop exhibit, celebrating the diverse political and cultural history of a form of music that has transcended race and time.

Mr. Simmons, the impresario who was a founder of the Def Jam label, said that at first he had feared that hip-hop's inclusion in a major museum would mean it had lost its power and novelty. His initial thought when contacted by the Smithsonian, he said, was "It must be over."

But in an opinion echoed by nearly every speaker, Mr. Simmons suggested that as hip-hop aged it was in danger of losing its connection to its roots and that younger fans and performers would profit from direct experience of the music's history. Hip-hop, he said, is "the only real description of the suffering of our people."

Second, separate treatment programs for convicted Spanish-speaking and Indian drunk-driving offenders in Arizona are coming under attack as a new and insidious form of racial segregation.

The programs are based on an understanding that different cultural groups will have different ways to communicate and teach behavior. The main critic of the programs says this is institutionalized racism, even if it does prove effective.

This is a huge and serious question. I go round and round in my own head about this very issue in thinking about planning for neighborhood space. Cultures use space differently, and cultural groups' spaces overlap in today's cities. How do you plan for spaces that can provide for the spatial practices of individual groups without perpetuating segregation? How do you honor cultures without devolving into essentialism and divisiveness?

We need to have open and explicit conversations about possible answers.

One model that makes me squirm and yet could be explosively powerful is a column in the Orange County Weekly: "Ask a Mexican." In simplistic terms, white people write in and ask questions that seem racist but perhaps are "merely" ignorant, and the columnist responds with humor, solid facts, and useful information in a way that honors and celebrates Mexican culture. It's a potential powder keg, but somehow, it works. Ignorance is diffused in a productive and entertaining way. Something to ponder...

In a democracy, the magic assumption is that through conversation, difference can be broached, negotiated, and honored in group decision-making. As a planner, as a supporter of all cultures, as curious and open human being, I have to believe, and, in the words of the Existentialists, take that leap of faith and act as if it's true. The signs are good.