Get It Together, NYU

Grad students are still striking. More than 600 are out picketing, and the University is doing nothing. Some NYU undergrads oppose the strike; that’s all fine and good, but I’d recommend they do five minutes of research before asserting that only the University has legal legs to stand on.

Deans surreptitiously logged into the Blackboard accounts of various undergraduate classes, seriously violating trust in NYU’s administration. Again. The Chronicle has more.

There are Republicans at NYU. Turns out I know pretty much every single one of them (or at least those who were interviewed for this article). I’ll just say that someone needs to give these kids a PR make-over and teach them how to talk to the press. For the most part they aren’t dumb people, but they don’t come across so well here.

But perhaps the more interesting story (to me, anyway) hasn’t been covered yet by the NYU newspaper: A new NYU dorm may not allow counselling about or the display of any information pertaining to abortion, birth control or family planning services. Huh. via Feministing, who get a well-deserved shout-out in Katha Pollitt’s fabulous-as-usual column this week. It’s not related to NYU, but it is about Maureen Dowd (sick of her yet?), and worth a read.

Posted in Education | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Being White Is Hard

You know, those darkies are really ruining New York City when a nice white lady can’t go to the beach because she finds it disgusting, and when all those colored folks dirty up the public pools (before you know it, they’ll be letting them use our drinking fountains, too!).

To the Editor:

As a white woman who lived my first 18 years in the Inwood section of Manhattan and the past 13 years living in the Bronx, I’d like to say there are plenty of public places I cannot go based on my skin color.

There are no public pools I would feel comfortable in, and I have no desire to travel to a less desirable area to use one. I don’t go to Orchard Beach because it’s just disgusting. I can’t go to state parks, even those in Rockland and Northern Westchester Counties, because of the lack of security, noise and filth often created by those who reside in New York City.

So those who live in East Harlem may feel slighted because there are too many white people using the facilities at Randalls Island, but I have felt slighted my whole life in this city for the same reason. Only when you’re white, you’re not allowed to say anything, nor does anyone do anything about it. You just learn to deal with it.

Colleen Sussmann
Morris Park, the Bronx

Colleen, you’re welcome to move to Salt Lake City at any point.

via Gawker.

Posted in Race & Ethnicity | Tagged | 44 Comments

“The Constitution Does Not Protect the Right to Abortion”

Guess who.

In his own words, written during the Reagan administration:

-“I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government argued that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”

-“I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this administration.”

-He believed “very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values.”

-Alito said he drew inspiration from the “writings of William F. Buckley, Jr., The National Review and Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign.”

-“In college, I developed a deep interest in constitutional law, motivated in large part by disagreement with Warren Court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause and reapportionment.”

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Silly Things

Because I’m distracting myself from studying by listening to every Bob Dylan song in my collection, and because there’s never enough love in the world, go now, music fans, and share what you think are the best love songs ever. This is also where you get to truly see how crappy my taste in music is (but I love it anyway). My votes:

The Tops
-Bob Dylan: Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
-Bob Dylan: Sara
-Tom Waits: Jersey Girl
-Rolling Stones: Angie
-Rolling Stones: Factory Girl (kind of a back-handed song, but I still love it)
-Tracy Chapman: The Promise
-Van Morrison: Moondance
-Aaron Neville: Crazy Love
-Elvis Prestley: Can’t Help Falling in Love

The Runners Up
-Counting Crows: Goodnight Elisabeth (Counting Crows, I know. But it’s so pretty. And backhanded as well, which apparently I have a thing for.)
-Dave Matthews: Oh (Dave Matthews, I know.)
-Incubus: Stellar
-Marc Broussard: The Beauty of Who You Are
-Mariah Carey: Always Be My Baby (Don’t even say it, you know you love this song. And the video, with the tire swing and kissing underwater and Camp Mariah…)
-Maxwell: Fortunate
-Moby: Porcelain
-Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
-Ray Lamontagne: Shelter
-Tim McGraw: Don’t Take the Girl (I know, I know. But it makes me tear up.)
-Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Maps
-The Wallflowers: Josephine (Wallflowers. I know.)
-Bob Dylan: Shelter From the Storm
-The Beatles: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
-Eric Clapton: Layla (Yes, I know.)

Posted in Music | 48 Comments

Our Comment Policy

Can be found here. The link can be found above the Comments section of every post.

Lauren edits the comments on her posts and I edit the ones on mine, so there’s also a level of individual discretion regarding what each of us thinks is appropriate. If there’s an issue with a comment or a commenter, contact whoever put up the post.

Neither of us deletes comments very often, and you have to work pretty hard at getting banned, so if we give you a warning you can assume it’s well-deserved (and we will almost always warn you before you get booted, unless you’re a real ass). And I can’t speak for Lauren here, but personal threats to me will be met with the publication of your email address, IP address and any other information I can find about you. It is unlikely, however, that either of us will sue you.

It’s also unlikely that either of us will go all Dawn Eden on you and ban you for disagreeing with us or going off-topic. That said, we’d appreciate it if you would try and abide by all the comment rules, including the one about not de-railing the thread. Disagree as much as you like; unless you’re obnoxious, rude, or totally off-topic, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s always possible to get un-banned if you send us an apologetic email and promise to be on your best behavior (and follow through). We can also be bribed with gifts (hers and mine) and money.

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Injured, Injured Bad

Best ad ever.

Posted in Health | Tagged | 7 Comments

The Chick Flick

A must-read LA Times article about how the “chick flick” title ghettoizes and marginalizes women’s experiences. Any movie that shows women’s experiences, or that caters to a female audience, is immediately labelled a “chick flick,” implying that it’s less serious, less important, and unappealing to male audiences.

And it’s a blanket category at that, the smothering kind. It has made it so that a movie like “Wedding Crashers” is simply considered a comedy, whereas movies like “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” (a satire with female characters) or “The Sweetest Thing” (a raunchy comedy) are considered chick flicks — even when they share more in common with contemporary mainstream comedies than with the “women’s pictures” of the 1930s and ’40s from which, Athena-like, they are supposed to have sprung.

Like many reclaimed pejoratives, “chick flick” remains a volatile term. You can tell by the way some handle it gingerly and others lob it like a grenade. For example, in July 2004, O magazine published an article ranking the “50 Greatest Chick Flicks of All Time,” which included Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours” at No. 11. That point was echoed in an interview on Canadian television in which Daldry said of his movie, “I don’t think this is a chick flick at all. I think there are real serious issues about how we live our lives and change our lives that are relevant to everybody.”

…because a “chick flick” doesn’t deal with serious issues, and can’t be relevant to everybody.

In other words, by lumping all movies about women into the same category, quality female-centric movies are put in the awkward position of having to assert their quality by denying the female-centric label. So much for reclaiming.

And the chick flick label has very real effects for female directors who seek to make movies that represent their own experiences.

But where male directors may wave it away with a grumble and move on to something else, the threat may be more serious to female directors trying to bring women’s experiences to the screen. In a recent interview in Slate magazine, writer Pamela Paul posed this question to director Niki Caro, whose movie “North Country” tells the story of the first class-action sexual harassment suit: “Both ‘Whale Rider’ and ‘North Country’ are stories about female empowerment. Do you worry about being marginalized as a woman director of films for women?”

“Yeah, I do,” Caro replies, “because that’s not what I do. I don’t see myself as a crusading feminist filmmaker. Not at all…. Personally, I have nothing to prove. But I’m tremendously curious about human nature. Female life is so incredibly under-explored in cinema, so these stories feel very exotic.”

Forget, for the moment, the weird characterization of Caro’s movies as being about female empowerment. (Are “Free Willy” and “The Insider” stories about male empowerment, or are they just stories about a boy and his large sea mammal, and of a lone crusader and his big, bad corporation, respectively?) Think instead about the philosophical gymnastics required to present oneself as a cool enough chick to be OK with being called a chick, but not with one’s movie being called a “chick flick,” because that would imply it’s silly, or histrionic, or a turnoff. Caro’s carefully worded response is incredibly freighted with the difficulties of trying to make art from human experience when the experience in question is female.

Read the whole thing, and try and ignore the post-post-feminism bits.

Posted in Entertainment, Feminism, Gender | 46 Comments

You Thought I’d Pass Up FRT?

1) Of Montreal – The Party’s Crashing Us
2) Wire – Used To
3) The Mekons – Institution
4) Johnny McGovern aka Gay Pimp – Dirty Teen Pop Superstars
5) Sufjan Stevens – A Conjunction of Drones
6) TV on the Radio – Dreams
7) Louis Jordan – The Green Grass Grows All Around
8) Skeeter Davis – Why Does the Sun Go On Shining?
9) US Maple – Stupid Deep Indoors
10) Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should Have Come Over

As of last week, my kitties have been getting regular jaunts outdoors. By “kitties” I mean Pablo since Doug is a bandit who tries to rip off the harness and bolt away from his evil owners.

Last time I took Pablo out, where Ethan instructed him on the finer points of Nature,

Ethan Teaches Pablo About Nature

Doug felt left out.


This is the face of dejection.

Tagged | 22 Comments

We Bring the Crazy

Watch out, Pennsylvania — God’s gonna getcha!

Posted in Religion | Tagged , | 68 Comments

Why I *Heart* New York


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One School I’m Glad I Don’t Go To

Liberty University. Talk about fear of sex. Check out their code of conduct, and let’s consider what kind of values it demonstrates (this list is compressed):

A $10 fine and four reprimands for:
-Violating the “hair code” (that is, long “feminine” hair for men, or too-short “manly” haircuts for women)
-“Unauthorized borrowing” (where I come from, we call this “stealing”)
-Improper personal contact (anything beyond hand-holding)

A $25 fine and six reprimands for:
-Going to a dance
-Improper social behavior (why do I have a feeling that most Liberty University students aren’t exactly skilled at what’s considered “normal” social behavior?)

A $50 fine and twelve reprimands for:

-Attending or possessing an R- or NC-17-rated film
-Entering the space above ceiling tiles (what?)
-Participation in an unauthorized petition or demonstration
-Students of the opposite sex visiting alone at an off-campus residence
-Possession and/or viewing of sexually explicit material

A $250 fine, 18 reprimands and 18 hours of community service for:
-Association with those consuming alcohol
-Committing a misdemeanor
-Racial or sexual harassment
-Sexual misconduct and/or any state of undress (get naked, get fined)
-Entering bedroom of the opposite sex on/off campus or allowing the same

A $500 fine, 30 reprimands, 30 hours community service, possible administrative withdrawal:
-Sexual assault
-Committing a felony
-Failure of three Christian/Community Services without reconciliation
-Drug possession
-Involvement with witchcraft, séances or other occultic activities
-“Immorality” (I think this means fucking)
-Spending the night with a person of the opposite sex (otherwise known as “immorality”)
-Refusing an alcohol or drug test
-Unauthorized weapon possession
-Possessing or consuming alcohol

Huh. Now I realize that private schools are generally allowed to limit the Constitutional rights of their students. But a fine for signing a petition or protesting or visiting a member of the opposite sex off campus? A fine for doing anything more than holding hands? Holding abortion, “involvement in witchcraft” (aka any non-patriarchal religion), consuming alcohol and refusing a drug test on par with committing a felony or sexually assaulting someone? Damn. If I went to Liberty, I’d be considered as bad as a rapist for what I’m doing this very second.*

I *heart* Falwellian “values.”

*that is, practicing witchcraft while having my 100th abortion and simultaneously refusing a drug test. All while blogging. Feminists, you know.

Posted in Education | Tagged , , , , | 44 Comments

Seattle Passes Smoking Ban

And it’s the most restrictive in the country. Now, liberal though I may be, I’m a big fan of smoking bans. Why? Well, I don’t smoke, I hate cigarette smoke, and while I support the rights of other people to do what they want with their bodies, smoking inside closed spaces like bars and restaurants extends into my body. Wanna do coke or drop acid or chew tobacco in a closed space? Go for it. Wanna smoke in your own house or car? Be my guest. But when a person’s choices extend past their own bodies and negatively affect the health of others who are occupying the same space, it’s no longer a simple matter of individual liberties (not to get all John Stuart Mill on you, but your right to bodily sovereignty ends at the tip of your nose).

The smoking ban in New York has been great. I don’t go home reeking of cigarette smoke, and it’s saved me a lot of money in dry cleaning bills (it ain’t cheap to dry clean your winter coat every week). It’s also better for bar employees, who otherwise wouldn’t have much of a choice but to be exposed to cigarette smoke on a nightly basis. As far as I can tell, it’s pretty well-enforced, and smokers know the places where it isn’t. Seeing people smoke in a bar now is surprising — this weekend at Hiro we were shocked to see a bunch of foreign model-types lighting up. And it doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on business (it’s New York, after all. I don’t think a smoking ban is going to keep anyone home).

That said, I think the Seattle ban is way too over-reaching. It bans smoking within 25 feet of any door, window or vent, so smokers can’t simply step outside the bar to have a cigarette. In areas like Capitol Hill, where there are lots of bars and lots of people go out, I’m not sure there would be any place for smokers to go except in the middle of the street if they want to meet the 25-foot requirement. Disallowing smoking in the bar itself will get rid of nearly all the health risk to others, which, to me, is the crux of the issue. So while I’m thrilled that I can go to bars when I go home for winter break and I won’t stink when I get home, I do feel bad for all the smokers in Seattle. Thoughts?

Posted in Health, Politics | 101 Comments