Monday, September 26, 2011

Prose and Poetry Reading

This Wednesday, my former professor Anita Skeen will be hosting a reading for East Lansing/Michigan State's One Book, One Community program's annual writing workshop. Participants from that workshop will be reading poetry and prose. The reading is at 7 pm in the RCAH Theater (jn the basement) of Snyder-Phillips Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pearl Jam Twenty

This summer, I decided to run my own DIY class on Seattle music (which, considering how many Seattle-area bands have DIY ethics, is totally appropriate.) Obviously, this week marked the anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind, which might be the most famous album to ever make it out of the Pacific Northwest, though Death Cab for Cutie and other indie bands are giving them a run for their money.
If you are like me and have already read ten articles on these bands, then maybe it is time to check out Pearl Jam Twenty, the new documentary out by Cameron Crowe and reviewed here. This documentary sounds like a great addition to my little DIY class.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Hour Review

Yesterday, a review I wrote about the BBC miniseries The Hour was published on Clique Clack. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha on Tour

The lovely Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha has a new book of poetry coming out, Love Cake, and is going on tour. For those of you who unfortunately missed seeing Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha when she promoted The Revolution Starts at Home, this is a great opportunity to check her out. As of right now, she will be touring Ontario, New York, Connecticut and Vermont and Pennsylvania, hopefully adding on additional dates. If you in the area for one of her events, check her out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Report Cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls

Slate has this wonderful ongoing series on report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. A journalist found a collection of postcards in 1996, and thirteen years later begins researching the women behind these records.
These stories are extraordinary. Many of them were poor and some had disabilities, yet many managed to provide for themselves and their families. They struggled with strange employers and low wages. Some of them got married and had children. Education for women was not always readily available, and so anything that allowed women to work as their own bosses made an impact on their lives. These are the sort of women who are often forgotten by history and their lives are harder to document because there are less primary sources, but this series of articles remind readers of their existence and realities, ones difficult and courageous.
In addition to this, seeing these report cards reminds readers how these were truly everyday people. Recently, I got to see my Grandmother's transcript and yearbook picture from when she was in college. It was striking to see her grades and classes, which were closer to mine than I realized. She had never mentioned how much music she had taken, or that her minor was in English (which was my major). Even her haircut managed to be both in style for the time and terrible embarrassing. I can imagine both the delight and surprise these report cards gave families, reminding them that even Mom or Grandma once had a class she just could not stand.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poetry Chalking

The Center for Poetry, an organization I use to work for (and still tweet for) are having a poetry chalking next week on the 29th, from three to five, on the Lansing River Trail behind Shaw Hall.
Poetry chalkings are always fun. It is really satisfying to be able to write a poem down. You are welcome to bring your own poem, but poems will be provided, so do not let your uncertainty about poetry stop you from going.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Fashion and Feminsim

So I recently was reading this article on the beginnings of a new online magazine called Rookie, and they addressed a question that I've been wondering about for years now: are fashion and feminism inherently at odds with each other?
I ask this because there are so many magazines, online and in print, written towards young women that says yes. Jezebel, xojane, and (back in the day) Sassy feature both articles on fashion trends and feminism. At times, I really like this, since I would like to hope a young woman might get lured in by the fashion and come away with a little bit of feminist theory. Even if she is just more empowered in a practical way to be more assertive with men or to be proud of her body, then that is better than the alternative. But still, the models are so skinny. And the clothes they wear are often so expensive and so frequently come from suspect places with shady employers with no labor rights.
And yet, we all define ourselves through clothes, even in not caring about fashion. It is a choice, and like all choices, a political one. And like all choices, potentially influenced by outside sources, some liberating and some not. It would be stupid or naive to just assume that fashion is automatically bad. Fashion, like so many other aspects of life, has been co-opted by capitalist/misogynist/racist/homophobic/ableist and other oppressive forces, but that is all the more reason to find ways to combat it. The author of the above article rightly draws the comparison between straight women and queers using fashion as a way to define oneself which is just like so many other things within feminism: queers found a way to make it work first. For myself, I wish that women's magazines that were about both fashion and feminism would spend less energy trying to hammer the point home that fashion is not automatically anti-woman/anti-feminist but instead explore it as a complicated, multi-faceted issue (much like feminism is, natch), one that could be either oppressive or liberating, especially depending on context. I want to be informed about what I wear, even if that means that fashion does not get the best light it always wants to be in.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Bleed White

My new favorite album right now is The Bleed White's self-titled album. It is a great combination of folk and garage songs, and there's something strangely mod and indie about it at the same time. "Posion" manages to be bluesy in the best retro sense, as if it fell out of its correct time without the least bit of polish. "Judge and Fool" takes "tropical" instruments and combines them with the banjo, giving a different, and lovely, sound. Every song feels like it would be perfect in a movie; the first song "Eat the Spurs" is the sort of song that is featured in every opening segment or montage. The one song I do have a problem with is "Just Tonight" which is a perfect example of the male gaze, but otherwise this is a great album to listen to on loop for an entire afternoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Jam's "Going Underground"

This is a lovely bit of pop/punk/ska rock with a band wearing the most mod clothing around. It is hard not to compare this lyrically to "London Calling," which is also a weirdly similar in both its radical vision and call for rebellion.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beautiful Commutes

Recently there was a wonderful photo essay on the most beautiful subway stations. The photographs do a wonderful job of capturing the spaces, which all look like they could be somewhere else, if not for the trains. Public transit has often struggled in America, despite being effective and useful in so many other parts of the world, like Europe and China.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Doctor Who as an Anime Show

My friend Dan showed me this video, which is an anime interpretation of Doctor Who.
Where to begin with all the reasons that make this video impressive? At about twelve minutes, it manages to be a full story, complete with Cybermen, the Master, and other notorious Doctor Who villains. I love how the Doctor comments on the anime girl's lack of clothing, something anime is so notorious for doing. (I do love what a badass she is. If only we could have Liz 10 show up for this!) The depiction of the American military is exactly the sort of thing Russell T. Davies would do. The scenes set in above Earth were perfect blends of the show and anime; I half expected Spike from Cowboy Beebop to appear.
The anime is a little shaky and choppy, but this has the potential to be a great series in itself. The franchise already has books, radio programs and other things, so why not a whole anime series, one with the genre's tropes explored by Doctors? (It would be especially great if they managed to get some of the "retired" doctors to replay their cartoon selves.) Or, maybe something similar to what The Matrix did, making an entire series of cartoons, each with a different set of artists.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Beyond Earth

Flyer Design posted this amazing poster project called Beyond Earth. The art in these science posters are wonderful. The design is a great throwback to an older look, which conjures up those vintage images you can still see in old science textbooks. Definitely check them out.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Feminism and Disability Justice

Grrrl Style posted this nice essay on Sylvia Plath and how easy it is for people to dismiss her and her writing. The author does not use the words disability justice, but this is the word she might be searching for, since she is expressing how Plath's fierce depiction of her mental illness was revolutionary. Even today, mental illness is highly stigmatized, which discourages people from getting help and makes life for those who bravely do unnecessarily difficult. Disability justice and feminism are tied together, since both groups are marginalized and dismissed to maintain the status quo.