I figured out quite some time ago that the full picture of my personality is best represented by a mix of the Batgirl and Catwoman characters from the '60s surrealist action comedy "Batman." Now, if I just looked that good in a skin-tight crimefighter/villain costume, my life would be complete. Oh, well.
Surely my political leanings were influenced by this awesome Public Service Announcement, as Batgirl schools Batman and Robin about the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Not exactly sure when this was filmed -- sources vary on the date -- but to me it looks to have been done after the series had finished its run, so I'd guess around '69-'71. I sure remember seeing it!
I know, Modern Kiddies, you can't even believe there was a time when women, just because they were women, got paid less than men for the exact same job, right? That's CRAZY TALK!
"Male–female income disparity, also referred to as the "gender gap in earnings" in the United States, and as the "gender wage gap", the "gender earnings gap" and the "gender pay gap", refers usually to the ratio of female to male median yearly earnings among full-time, year-round (FTYR) workers.
In 2009 the median income of FTYR workers was $47,127 for men, compared to $36,278 for women. The female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.77, not statistically different from the 2008 ratio. The female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.77 means that, in 2009, female FTYR workers earned 23% less than male FTYR workers. The statistic does not take into account differences in experience, skill, occupation, education or hours worked, as long as it qualifies as full-time work. However, in 2010, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee reported that studies "always find that some portion of the wage gap is unexplained" even after controlling for measurable factors that are assumed to influence earnings. The unexplained portion of the wage gap is attributed to gender discrimination."
What a strange day. From the terribly depressing news of the Occupy Oakland police actions last night that critically injured a peaceful, unarmed protestor (a veteran and fellow Wisconsinite), to the good feelings in helping out a local Seattle musician by helping to rebuild his record collection lost in a house fire, it's been a real rollercoaster.
I write here every single day, write for some other sites on occasion, and often with some pretty strong opinions, wedged in-between the all-important YouTubes of yelling goats and photoshops of Herman Cain, of course. My "style" is conversational, I suppose -- I write just how I think and talk. I am perfectly able to write "straight" pieces of journalism, but so can a million other folks, and they do. What a million other people can't do is filter through my lens. It's the only thing I can give you that is unique, and I hope is sometimes of value.
I got to thinking about the potential ramifications of writing in the first person, journalistic detachment be damned when my local Twitter stream went on a mini-rant about a music review today. Seattle Weekly writer Gwendolyn Elliott sure stirred up a hornet's nest with her "unique" take on a Ryan Adams acoustic concert at the very posh Benaroya Hall last Friday. Several of our local music writers and photographers were angry and appalled, calling both the writing and the writer unprofessional and self-indulgent. It's very rare to hear any criticism here in music circles -- it's just not said, even though surely it is sometimes thought -- so I had to go check out what Ms. Elliott had produced to provoke such strong public statements, which you can read here.
OooOOOooooOOoooh...she MAD! She comes out swinging in the first sentence against both Adams and his adoring fans, and doesn't let up for a second. As I had no stake in the fight, I sat back and chuckled at her vitriol and at the equally-nasty comments directed her way. Holy crap. Who knew something as seemingly-unimportant as a local music review would set everyone on fire? And should it? Well, let's break down the criticisms.
1. This is not a show review. That's a fair observation. There is very little there about the music that was played by Adams. It is definitely a review of the difficultly Elliott had with Adams' fans, and the overall smug and uptight vibe she thought was present. Now, let us agree that most people who will want to read a Ryan Adams concert review will also be Ryan Adams fans, and will want to hear about the what was played and how, typical to a piece of writing describing a musical event. I believe it is a very safe assumption here that Elliott is not a Ryan Adams fan, and wasn't terrifically invested in the music performed that night. Should that preclude her from writing a review? Not necessarily. I long for more honesty in music journalism, which includes by nature negative opinions, but you've got to be able to back those up with detail. Elliott's general criticisms may well have been meritorious, but if she was asked to write a show review, she needed to write more of one.
2. This was too personal. I'm a bit on the fence here, for I LOVE show reviews that talk about the crowd and what it feels like to experience a show. I want to be there with the writer. So very many concert reviews are dull, laden with gushy or ponderous adjective spurts that don't really do anything but make me think, "adjective spurt." (I admit writer's guilt here, too, by the way -- it's not all that easy to make a show come alive in prose sometimes. And I just can't say that a band "killed it." I just can't.) Something else I mentioned earlier on Twitter as we were all going 'round and 'round with opinions on the review was that sometimes the characters in the crowd are more interesting than the show itself. I have written many times about the Concert Ruiners: Blabbing Chat Monkey, Stinky Drunk No Personal Space Man, The Very Tall View Blocker, The No Personal Space Acid Dancer Girl, and so forth. As a fan, man, I hate 'em. As a writer, those folks are solid gold content for me. Maybe Elliott needed to take another day and find the humor in her experience, for she comes off as a bit self-righteous and unsympathetic. Were the fans tools? Could be. Was Adams a tool? Could be. Was Elliott annoying to everyone around her? Oh, could be.
3. This is of no use to anyone. Oh ho ho ho, noooooo, not true. Who wins? Hands down, Seattle Weekly. The controversy that Elliott stirred quickly reached Ryan Adams himself, who then took to his Facebook and encouraged his fans to fight back by leaving their anti-Elliott comments after the review. What does this accomplish? Page views! Lots and lots more PAGE VIEWS than any regular ol' review ever would have received, which translates to INCREASED AD REVENUE for SEATTLE WEEKLY! Way to go, Adams! Giving a negative review MORE attention, equalling more money for the publisher? Nice work, sir! If you were Seattle Weekly, you'd want a pissed-off Elliott reviewing every concert from now on if that would always be the outcome.
For the all the valid criticisms noted, I'll still say that Elliott's messy, inexpert shitbirding of Ryan Adams and his fans was a whole lot more entertaining than a staid, overly-amorous retelling of the night would ever have been for me. I'd rather have that than a journalistic climate where no one is allowed to be mad, bitter, truthful, personally invested, or a weirdo. Gwendolyn Elliott decided to break form and got her 'nads kicked in for it. In a few years, that's exactly the kind of person who could end up with a book deal, right? Whether you or I or anyone else thinks that's good or bad isn't even the point. The point is that she did something memorable, and in the end, won the day by getting our attention.
A few simple photos today of this lovely bunny. I received it from my Grandpa Ollie on Easter of 1968, just a few days after my 6th birthday. It's one of those bobble-head ones where the head hangs from a little hook inside the neck, with a kind of plush bristle-y synthetic fur, and it sports the palest pink bow on the neck. From a distance and at the right angle, it looks pretty darn real.
On Easter Morning, 1968, I woke to find Brown Bunny sitting on my bedroom floor, its head almost imperceptibly moving. In my sleepy, youthful, and myopic state, I thought it was alive and that the Easter Bunny had gifted me with one of his cousins or something. I was afraid to move or say a thing, lest I scare it. I lay there in my bed, frozen in joy, until my mom came in to check on me. Of course, she found my reaction charming, but I have to admit, I wanted to weep in grief when I realized it was a toy after all.
I got over it, and kept Brown Bunny all these years. The End.
Man, these videos are fun to make! I love this mental surf mess by the Black Lips, which came out on a Scion/AV split 7" single with Oregon's Pierced Arrows. As you can see, a chili dog at the beach go-go party just doesn't go so well. Enjoy!
A good summation of the U.S. political climate in the Fall of 2011: Everyone is pissed off. You'll have to forgive my plain language there, but it's the most accurate way to describe how everyone is feeling, from the grungiest, hairiest Occupy The Everything hippie to the most hardcore gun-totin', values-votin' Hank Williams, Jr. fan. A big chunk of Dems have been unhappy with President Obama's performance, and a big chunk of Republicans facepalm through every clownish, brainpower-lacking GOP presidential debate. Those who wish to cast a vote for an Independent candidate know that there's no chance in hell it will pay off, and moderates who would like to see compromise and teamwork in government are completely ignored by the polarized pols the people elected to serve. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the Libertarian says, "Get Off My Lawn, all of you!"
Something I have noted with some surprise is another chunk of voters -- generally young, voting in their first or second presidential election, traditional left-leaners -- who are so jaded and disappointed already that they are seeking a candidate saying something different. They are picking up on the (GOP-relative) sanity and consistency of strict-Constitutionalist Republican Ron Paul. Paul is running on a platform of "limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency." With everyone disgusted by the inefficiency of Congress in getting the un- or under-employed back to work, Paul, the most Conservative of Conservatives, might be able to grab enough voters ready to wash D.C. clean. Paul also identifies himself as the "premier advocate for liberty," but his idea of liberty maybe very well be at the expense of yours. I'll go ahead and grab his platform statements from his campaign site, and take them on.
1. "A Pro-Life Champion." Well. How about that? Interesting how a "limited government" should include repealing Roe v. Wade, denying more than half of all Americans the right and ability to choose what happens to their lives and bodies, and working to de-fund all family planning clinics, even if those clinics do not even offer abortion services. Paul, an OB/GYN, is welcome to his personal opinions on the subject, but seeking to legislate his feelings into millions' sexual health decisions is hypocrisy at its height.
2. "A Pro-America Foreign Policy." What that is for Ron Paul, also seems a bit muddy. He voted for U.S. use of military action to kill the very nasty Osama bin Laden, but doesn't want America to be "the world's policeman." I guess situational police work is OK with him, but I wonder how and where he draws the line.
3. "Secure Our Borders." OHHHHH. There's the line! It's in the sand, right over by Mexico! Apparently, the illegal immigrant is worthy of being shot at by our military while being denied any civil rights, or any education or health care for that matter. So, if you are here illegally working over at Mitt's house and a brick falls on your head, you should just crawl off and die, because Ron Paul says your humanity isn't something we should care about since you don't have a green card. Cracking down like Big Bad Daddy Uncle Sam on the immigrants that are used for their cheap labor here by individuals and businesses by the multi-thousands if not millions doesn't at all address the understanding of the shared economics of the world, why some people will continue to come here even at risk of death, and how a "pro-life" stance coming from a medical doctor looks even weaker when faced with the reality of denying needed care to any other (actually born) human being.
4. "Health Care - Freedom Not Force." Oh, brother. This is, again, unexpected a bit from a doctor. Paul wants to repeal Obamacare, putting Americans again at the mercy of Big Biz, i.e., private insurers. Has anyone, anyone at all, not had a serious run-in with health insurance, or know someone who has, like the popular "if you get sick we'll just drop you" option? Paul offers a laughable, completely unworkable patchwork mess of tax breaks and itemized deductions to supposedly offset the tens of thousands of dollars easily racked up by a simple illness, much less a major one. I know that if I had a terrible illness or was caring for someone else in that state, I'd sure be wanting to spend my spare time going through my receipts and filling out "limited government" tax forms! And trying to curtail malpractice litigation costs by having individuals buy "negative outcomes" insurance?? Can you imagine?
5. "Restore America's Prosperity." I thought doctors were supposed to be People of Science and Reason, yet Ron Paul vows to never, ever vote to have the debt ceiling raised, although every single credible economist and statistician has explained ad infinitum why such action has been necessary. Yes, almost all of us can agree that we need to "end the corporate stranglehold on the White House," yet Paul in his very next set of sentences describes how he would stimulate the economy by "...driving down gas prices by allowing offshore drilling, abolishing highway motor fuel taxes, increasing the mileage reimbursement rates..." Ohhhhh. Gee, that seems to be a Bush-Era Corporate Big Oil Agenda to me. Encouraging the further use of wasteful and dangerous fossil fuels goes hand-in-hand with the agenda of worst of the corporate criminals; there's no getting around that, sir.
6. "End the Fed." Not sure what I think about that, but I'm in agreement with Paul that the Federal Reserve needs to operate openly. But I doubt getting rid of the Fed altogether is realistic.
7. "Lower Taxes - Keep More Of Your Money." This is the easiest thing in the world for politicians to sell to people -- who doesn't want to pay less in taxes to a giant, faceless government, other than Warren Buffet? You work hard, or hard-ish, and you know that more money = more options, right? But, as usual, Americans want their services from the government but don't want to pay for them.OK, so you want to abolish the IRS, eh? Well, then you can forego having a regulatory branch that keeps the food you eat safe, and the air and water you need to survive relatively clean. Your roads, bridges, government buildings, parks, National Monuments, public hospitals, first responder services, etc. etc. etc. would be eliminated or severely compromised, placed in the hands of profiteers. Paul's statement of "The power to tax is the power to destroy, which is why Ron Paul will never support higher taxes" is something to be viewed with deep suspicion. What if this individual doesn't wish to have any money of mine going towards a military-enforced border patrol, Mr. Paul? Can I keep that money for myself? I bet not.
8. "Protect Gun Rights." The statistics on what American guns really end up doing have been available for ages. If you own a gun, it is far more likely to end up injuring a member of your own family than any random intruder, and over 50% of all gun deaths are suicides, yet the misiformation that we all should be armed to prevent violence persists. Perhaps Dr. Paul might feel slightly different if he had spent his time in practice in a modern-day urban emergency room instead. And check this out: "Congressman Paul believes it has never been more important that our President be 100% committed to defending our God-given right to keep and bear arms." Well, how about that -- I had no idea that God showed up right here in our United States and had a press conference or something! Totally missed that. Again, legislating personal feelings and religious beliefs has NOTHING to do with "limited government" or "liberty."
9. "Right To Work." Oh, I am getting so tired at this point. Sigh. Paul is staunchly anti-union. He states, "Freedom of association is one of the foundations of a free society. The Founders clearly understood this, which is why they sought to protect this God-given right in the First Amendment." Again, God shows up at the First Amendment, and there's no paintings of the guy or something? I tell ya. Anyway, Paul doesn't like "forced" union dues, that "bankroll the campaigns of tax-and-spend, big government politicians all across the country like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama!" Oh, so if you don't like what others do with their money, you should legislate them out? Oh. "Limited government," riiiiight.
10. "Standing Up For Homeschooling." Yes, homeschooling is sure an option in these days when two incomes are needed to support the majority of families. Unless you think that women are best put to use staying home, having lots of children, and then teaching them that women should just stay home and have lots of children. Fundamentalist agenda stench detected.
11."Energy Independence." Related to #5 in that Paul's plan really just means "Big Oil Free To Operate With No Taxes Or Environmental Controls Whatsoever." The most spectacular statement here? "Eliminate the ineffective EPA. Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create – not to Washington." Oh, sure. I know I feel rock-solid sure that I could go up in court as an individual against a huge corporate polluter who has millions of dollars to spend on legal fees. Sure. That's how it works. Get real, Dr. Paul. The free market, when left completely uncontrolled, will see the powerful and corrupt maximize their profits by using their money to buy the legal system meant for all of us. The essential Libertarian fail is in this: that people when left to total freedom will be motivated to do the right things, and if they fail in that, they will be held accountable, suffer and change for the better. The world doesn't reliably work like that, and never has. Solving the energy crisis has nothing to do with removing the gas tax, drilling protected areas for oil, using more coal and nuclear power -- that's nothing but a very filthy, used band-aid on a massive problem which will not go away until we invest in clean energy sources.
So, in the end, Ron Paul offers up a very singular and consistent vision of what America should be, using a very personal, very biased definition of freedom. He's all for liberty...unless you are a pregnant woman, an atheist or non-Fundamentalist, a liberal, an illegal immigrant, union member, poor or sick, which when I last checked would make up many many many millions of American citizens. Hmm. And he's all for limited government...as long as you take on the burden of new, complicated tax codes and expect nothing from the federal government other than our military taking out Pedro if he sets a toe into Arizona. Hmm.
When this country is in such need of competent leadership and strength, it pains me that anyone would even consider backing someone like Dr. Paul, whose extreme ideas have zero chance of success. The America he so wishes for is the country of the fearful, the judgmental, the racist, the sexist, the paranoid, the religious zealot, the unchecked profiteer, and the bully.
Freedom, when offered to only to a select segment of the population, isn't freedom at all.
Please use a #2 pencil, and per GOP rules you are allowed to cheat but must make somewhat of an attempt not to be caught. OK? Begin!
1/5: You are either a Communist or a Socialist, and are a disgrace to the United States of America.
2/5: You are a Democrat, and should go join your liberal hippie friends who got 1/5 and go back to Africa or France or Vancouver.
3/5: You are a Libertarian, and might be a touch too kooky for voters, or not kooky enough. Keep trying.
4/5: You are a Moderate Republican, and are too boring to vote for.
5/5: Congratulations! You are ready to step up into the well-paid world of corporate, er, public service in the Republican Party! Now go play some golf with some "job creators," hee hee!
It’s a bit unnerving, the waiting room: a small square box
rimmed with chairs and a single wide opening to the hallway in the busy medical
clinic. Its tight quarters and lack of privacy are made worse by the fact that
I am naked from the waist up, save for a loose, untied-at-the-back, light blue
hospital gown. I’m not particularly uptight about this sort of thing, or about
doctors, hospitals, blood draws, peeing in cups, or having assorted strangers
in lab coats peer into and around and about my entire body. But let’s face it:
for me and the four other women sitting with me, to the world going by we might
as well all be holding big signs saying, “I AM OVER 40 YEARS OLD AND AM WAITING TO
HAVE MY BOOBS COMPRESSED INTO CREPES TO BE CHECKED FOR CANCER.” You know? TMI.
The two “youngest” waiting there, me and another woman, who
mentions to the air that this is her first mammogram, sit and read our iPhones,
sometimes glancing up to see if the nurse is finally going to call one of our
names to go back to the machine room. A very overweight black woman who smiles
a lot sits down with some effort, hauling a big purse, some magazines, and a
briefcase. She pulls out an iPad, and her name is called almost immediately
after. She laughs and huffs with her stuff down the hall, gown not covering her
back at all. Another woman looks to be in her late 50s, grayed-out – long, thin
grayed hair, gray skin, gray eyes, sort of thin and ghostly. She reads a book.
The fourth woman walks in with a cane and wears big clunky walking shoes. She’s
well into her 80s, a little shaky, but smiles at me when I catch her eye. She
sits and just waits.
A lone man walks in, tall, white-haired, in a brown bomber
jacket, and takes a seat. I feel slightly bad for him. Guys are guys, but it
would definitely be bizarre to check out any woman waiting to get a mammogram.
I think. Maybe he had a worse test to do.
When it’s my turn, I’m relieved to be getting it done with.
I go every year, like I should, and am grateful to have health insurance that
pays for it. I’m not afraid of the discomfort of the procedure – it’s not all
that bad, and it doesn’t last for more than a few seconds – but it’s not
exactly Happy Fun Time. The technicians always know how to make quiet small
talk while handling you, placing you awkwardly in the mam smasher, lifting your
breasts and arms here and there. For me, it just helps to chat back and
definitely not watch the vise action. The resulting films go into a reader
right there, and you can see the breast tissue, little white veiny rivers
spreading out over dark cyan. I don’t look more than a second there either, as
I don’t want to speculate that some little white speck is a problem. I leave it
to the radiologist, who will let me know the results in a couple of weeks.
The technician sunnily tells me I am free to go. She walks
out, I speedily ditch the gown in a basket, put on my bra and shirt and jacket,
done – with luck – for another year.
Today, I received the sad news that another dear friend was
diagnosed with breast cancer, at her first mammogram. As overwhelming and
shocking as it was to hear about, it of course plays out on a whole different
level for her and her family. There isn’t a person who can hear the word
“cancer” directed at them and not wonder if they are going to die from it, if
that will be the way it goes. But they caught it early; her prognosis is
excellent. She is a vibrant, joyous woman and a tough cookie, too, and will
fight like a champion, I am sure. Her mammogram brought her bad news, but also
gave her the chance to survive.
When I was little, “breast cancer” was never, ever, ever
mentioned. It was almost seen as shameful, a ruination of womanhood, a secret
to keep and never share. The first mammography machine wasn’t even produced
until 1966, and radical mastectomy was the standard treatment for all breast
cancer patients until the 1980s, when a better understanding of the nature of
how cancer works led to successful outcomes with less-disfiguring surgeries.
The first I ever heard of breast cancer at all was the game-changing event that
was former First Lady Betty Ford taking her breast cancer diagnosis public in
1974, and with the publication of journalist Betty Rollin’s book, “First, You
Cry,” in 1976. Think about that! In 1974 I was already 12 years old, and though
surely there must have been many women around me that had had breast cancer, no
one talked. The bravery of these two women in speaking up began to spark major
changes in how society and medical culture handled the disease, and funding for
breast cancer research has increased vastly over the last 30 years.
My friend faces some tough days ahead, but she will receive
excellent care, and I believe that in another 5 years we will be celebrating
her “all clear” notice. For me, all I can do is keep going in every year, hope
that the letter I get that says all is well keeps being sent, and if it ever
isn’t, that I can handle breast cancer with half the strength and grace I have
seen in others.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Please click here for more information and support.
Sorry to be late with the daily update! I was fortunate enough to be able to head down to Occupy Seattle late this afternoon, part of the larger Occupy Wall Street movement, which has now spread to cities throughout the world. My participation today was as an observer and documenter, and I have just a few things to tell you from my experience there:
-- At all times, it was an entirely peaceful protest. All discourse was held respectfully.
-- Westlake Park was cleaner than it usually is on an average, non-protest-gathering day. I saw several people cleaning the park of their own accord.
-- Police presence was minimal and very relaxed, mainly some cops on bikes hanging out in small groups around the edges of the gathering.
-- Food was available at all times at a central table for whomever needed it.
-- I witnessed the crowd's power harnessed for a "human mic," where one person calls out a message and the crowd repeats the message so all can hear, in this case for a lost child alert.
-- In making my way through the large, diverse crowd with my camera gear, I can't tell you how many times people smiled at me, made room for me, posed for me, or gave me a thumbs-up or peace sign just for being there. Polite, focused, determined, and good-humored folks are what I saw, of all ages and types.
It's up to you to figure out how you feel about the Occupy movement, the value of visible protest, civil disobedience, and how and why the world got in such a serious economic mess. That's YOUR job; don't leave it to anyone else. What I will add other than the above is that it is a great honor to live in a country where you can have a say in how your life is going to go. Seeing people leaving their homes to participate in their country's political processes is damn heartening.
You may view all the photos I took today on Flickr by clicking here. Thank you!
I'm Marianne Spellman. I am in Seattle-ish. I like and make music and words and photos and coffee and have crappy eyesight, like every other blogger. I do freelance thingies for cool people and places every so often. I post here often.