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2666 by Roberto Bolaño. 

He gave up beatnik poetry to write novels so that he could support his family. Turns out he's an amazing writer and his novels weave seemingly simple story lines into a beautifully complex pattern. I'm entranced, and I'm in love. Yeah, me too. Get in line.

Dear Variety and Tim Gray, NO.

I woke up today, and on my Inbox sat an email titled "Oscar's Diversity Woes: Why Protesters Got It Wrong."

I've never known Variety to be too click-baity, but hook, line and sinker.

Written by Tim Gray, he begins a response to all those people whose misplaced anger are soiling the good standing and hardworking people at AMPAS. He argues that while yes, the Oscars are very white this year, it is not proof of AMPAS bigotry, but rather the hiring practices themselves. That this is not AMPAS fault, but the unions. After all, the cloak of secrecy under which the ballots are shrouded could never be quantified. (That's why people never campaign for these things like it's election season, right?)

"The nominations are a clue to something, but it isn’t AMPAS bigotry. The Academy reflects the industry and the AMPAS honchos have been working hard to diversify membership and to work on diversification within executive and creative ranks. It all starts with the hiring."

That's kind of the whole point, Tim Gray! I find this areticle's POV repulsive, the tone condescending, and the idea that the fury is unjust. 

I know the voting process, but I also know that people are more likely to vote for the stories of themselves they see represented on screen. 

The outrage is that the Oscar nominations are a symptom of a larger, systematic problem. The outrage is valid. Do NOT for one second take that away, do not belittle the well-placed right we have to demand change. You point at things that most of us already know, as if somehow it discredited the outrage when in fact, it is the very reason we are outraged.

No one is saying the people nominated are not worthy actors, but they can get by on a lot less thanks to a system that bows in their favor: patriarchy and racism.

The other thing Mr. Gray points at is the outrage over the average age of AMPAS being 62 white males. Stating that they cannot be bigoted since they voted for "12 Years a Slate" and Katherine Bigelow. Plus:

"In some cultures, age and experience are respected, as incredible as that sounds."

OH YEAH! Please, tell me more about other cultures (like mine) where age and experience are respected! Again, this is not that white 62 year old men are senile and ready to put out to pasture. It means that these examples you give are few and far between for the very reason you argue they exist: 62yo white men.

Also, Mr. Gray, you are a white man. So, you will have to excuse my scoff over here. Spare me the sermon, I know these things. I also know the other side, being a woman of color. Double whammy in the grand scale of hiring practices.

***

Link to the article read at your own outrage level.

Rhapsody in Traffic

Cars zoom by.

Cars slow down.

Cars stall. 

Cars stop.

Oh no no no nonononononono!

Stuck in traffic. No way out.

Fully committed. Of this, no doubt.

I look at the lanes.

Let there be a hint of a faster pace. 

Oh, the left one, blinkers on.

Damn you car for speeding up and not letting me switch!!

It's on now, jerk.

I see you looking smug in your blue Tercel.

That should've been me in that lane.

That should've been me a car ahead.

It's a race. This means war. 

I will reach you and make you pay!

But this lane is too damn slow.

I'm losing this battle, where can I go.

Stop.

I look at myself.

What have I become?

I don't recognize this person in the rearview mirror.

I may be closer, but I am no clearer.

I stop. There's no where to go.

Let this car go.

If so little made him happy, let him be happy.

Find your happy place.

Turn on the radio. 

Ah good ol' 80's pop station. Dependable.

Tiffany's seminal "I Think We're Alone Now" fills the air.

All is right. 

Go ahead car.

No, I don't mind.

Cut right in.

Oh, you want to change lanes with no blinkers on?

Sure.

See if I care?

I don't.

In the last 10 minutes I've become zen.

I cannot control you.

I cannot change this.

See? That's not so bad.

Oh the end is almost here.

Here is where we part.

Here, I bid you adieu.

Breathe deep, and

ARE YOU KIDDING ME YOU LITTLE PIECE OF TIN ON WHEELS?! THIS IS MY EXIT I NEED TO GET OFF THIS BLACK HOLE OF HUMANITY! WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE ALL THIS HORROR?! DANTE'S TRIP TO THE 7 CIRCLES OF HELL WASN'T SO PAINFUL! AND YOU, STOP IT ON YOUR PHONE!!! WHAT CAN IT BE THAT YOU MUST ANSWER IT RIGHT NOW?!?! I HOPE YOU CRASH YOUR FANCY MERCEDES AND HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE BUS SO YOU GAIN SOME HUMILITY YOU TRASH BUCKET!!! I HATE ALL OF YOU! GO FIND SOMETHING TO DO WITH YOUR MEANINGLESS LIVES!!!

I’m Tired of Racism Too, Screaming at Social Media

I’m done. I’m done fighting, trying to explain, and calmly put the facts in context for people who don’t want to listen. I want to be over racism like white people want to be over racism. I don’t want to hear about good intentions anymore, because like excuses, everyone has them.

The difference is, I’m not allowed to forget about racism. I can’t move beyond racism, because no matter how much you will it away, it is systematic, engrained in the very fiber of our society. I get the confusion. It used to be easier to recognize racism, but the days of “You have to use another entrance” are gone. We made the superficial racial disparity go away – mission accomplished! Unfortunately, now we have to deal with the aftermath of making the overt go covert. We stuffed those racist feelings deep in the bottom of our thoughts and only let them out in small bursts of extreme political contempt-ment. 

Now these bursts are difficult to ignore. In our age of immediate information it becomes more difficult to hide the subtle racial indiscretions. We are ever more in tune with the fact that racism is no longer black and white. Pardon the pun, but there are more races, more colors, and more differences that we cannot ignore. They were always there, but now they have an online profile. Now every color has a voice, and thus not so easily silenced.

A few days ago, Danièle Watts, an up-and-coming actress hot off the heels of Django Unchained success and quickly gaining a following as a public figure, was detained for a public display of affection toward her husband. Someone called in an act of lewd behavior in a car nearby. Allegedly, there was a couple engaging in a sexual act with the car doors open. Danièle and her husband were detained and believed to be the culprit. Both of them took to Facebook to tell their story. She claimed she was detained because the cops assumed she was a prostitute, and her husband the trick. He echoed her statements in his Facebook page. He’s white. She’s black. He gave the cops his ID when they asked for it. She didn’t, and she didn’t have to either. They were detained for fitting a description, and they talked about it openly on their Facebook pages. Raw with emotion and no barriers, they put out the information from their point of view.

Everyone agreed this was disgusting and ludicrous up until the bit about the ID. This is where the threads in my Facebook newsfeed divide. One group upset at the claim that she could have done this on purpose, that she did it to prove a point on principle, and instead should have just handed over her ID. The comments further blame the husband for taking pictures rather than looking for help. This is the wrong premise. Give up on your principles? Concede and hope for the best? Why should anyone do that when experience has taught you that’s not what happens! Why go against what you stand for and give in? Who was he supposed to call for help? Why is it that we are so quick to look at the afflicted and believe they could have done something different rather than expect more from the people that have taken an oath to “serve and protect?”

And for those of you who question the validity of arguing over ID, let me clarify. I was taught never to give the police anything if I believed I had done nothing wrong. If I were in the car and the police stopped me, my mother said, stop on the side of the road but don’t put the window all the way down when they come over to talk to you, just enough so that you can hear them and they can hear you. Then, ask them to follow you to our house or the nearest public area with a lot of people. 

This was my mother’s first request when I got my license.

As a woman, as a person of color, I was taught from a very early age that you couldn’t always trust authority. I was taught to fear it, but not necessarily trust that their intentions were in my best interest. Why? Because even when you are right, you are still somehow at fault. You can kiss that ID good bye. The police won’t return it. Sure you can file a complaint, but that means you have to spend the time on the phone and in person, at the police station, and the DMV. It falls on you to prove that the wrongdoing was on the very system entrusted to enforce the law.

But back to what happened a few days ago. So what if she used the platform she has as a recognizable figure to bring attention to authority figures overstepping rights. Authority figures treating people as guilty for living. In 1999, Danny Glover, well-known and beloved actor from “Lethal Weapon” went unrecognized and treated as any other black man by NYC cabbies, ignored. He claimed cab after cab passed him by as he was clearly trying to hail one. He claimed once they were able to find one stopped at a red light he and his daughter were surprised to find he locked his doors and wouldn’t let them in. He raised a flag, he was indignant. Granted, not a police situation, but an example of a public figure forcing us to look at how no matter your accomplishments the color of your skin will dictate how people treat you in this country.

Then a not even a month ago, Charles Belk was detained 6 hours on a curb in Los Angeles for “fitting the description” of a bank robber who also happened to be black while fully clothed. This man is a Harvard graduate who was on his way to an Emmy party, and a prominent producer. The problem is he doesn’t carry his diploma with him everywhere. If only! Instead, the racial profiling that we proclaim to eschew for fact and reason succeeded once again, and Mr. Belk was held on a $100,000 bail. His only crime was that he was in the same city as another black man. But this time around Mr. Belk had something on his side that previous generations hadn’t: photographic evidence and a social media platform. People were shocked and appalled. How could this happen? Police apologists came out from every corner, because they face such a difficult job. They are human after all; we should give them a pass. May I remind you, the victim is human as well. And at this point the rate of victims is far too high to ignore.

But my point is not a single person of color is surprised. This isn’t an isolated event. We’re tired of racism too. Believe us, we’d like to be treated equally. It’s a nice concept. This is just one more example of a systematic problem we wake up to every day. This is just one more on a long laundry list of why we’re not surprised when we see unchecked police behavior get out of control, or the arguments saying, “we weren’t there, we’ll never know exactly what happened” are used to excuse people in power. So when we take our message to social media because someone will hear us, and the mob mentality can actually work in our favor; only to see it broken down in broad terms, and the use of photography and the rapid spread of information is vilified as unreliable, I get upset. And I must respond. That’s the easiest angle, the umbrella excuse, because if we start the “what if” game, we can play forever, and displace blame for eternity. The problem is what if and intentions hold no argument against actions. And for those of us on the fringe, those of us that have faced the unchecked hand of justice, for us this finally allows us the upper hand in the conversation. At the very least, starts leveling the playing field. We’re talking. Please listen.

 

***I understand there could more to the Danièle Watts story has more to it, and that she may have blown this out of proportion to what happened. It's all alleged, because we weren't there.

I Feel Wrong

I feel judgy and dirty too, but oh no, it's bad. Richard Marx has a new album, and he just released the first video to the title song "Beautiful Goodbye." I think I lack the vocabulary prowess to describe my disappointment. It's cheesy at best, and lazy at worst. Honestly, I don't even know what I was expecting. I wasn't even expecting 80's ballad master Richard Marx to have a new album. I didn't even know he was still relevant! But then People Online covered it and I thought, hey, I love to belt out  "Right Here Waiting for You" and "Now and Forever" whenever they are on the radio, and "Hold on to the Night" is a classic, so why not expect great things? 

I was just going to read headlines and look at celebrity pictures, but this article said "Richard Marx Gets Steamy with Daisy Fuentes in New Video." 1) Damn you, click bait writers! 2) DAISY FUENTES?! THE SAME DAISY FUENTES FROM 90'S MTV SEMINAL SHOW "HOUSE OF STYLE" ALONGSIDE REBECCA ROMIJN (PRE-STAMOS) AND CINDY CRAWFORD? THAT DAISY FUENTES? 

Yes, now I was ready for this to be really good!

The article isn't long enough to question because it immediately lets you know, yes, THAT Daisy Fuentes. It also conveniently links you to their personal Instagram accounts. Genius, People, genius. 

Marx says Fuentes is the co-writer of this song, and is the reason she is in the video. He speaks glowingly of her sexiness and how this album, video, and everything is the sexiest thing he's ever done, written, and created. All I can hear is Donald Trump saying "luxurious." In my head, while reading this, Richard Marx morphed into Donald Trump's voice the whole time. It's upsetting. The more you tell me something is luxurious, or in this case sexy, the more I'm going to fight against it. If you have to tell me it is, it probably isn't.

My favorite quote from him is "... I wanted the video for the title track, which I think is the sexiest song on the album, to be not only sexy but elegant and classy." The song is called "Beautiful Goodbye." Nope. This is a painful PAIN-FULL goodbye. The whole thing is giving me Robin Thicke post-fallout album vibes. You know, where the guy thinks he's being romantic and cool, but it just reeks of impostor? It's not just because Richard Marx came out of a 26 year marriage to Penny from Dirty Dancing (LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO PENNY!!!) But The song is monotone, there's no hook, pop ballads need a hook. There's no poetry or subtlety in language. 

Once upon a time Richard Marx wrote:

Ocean's apart day after day
And I slowly go insane
I hear your voice on the line
But it doesn't stop the pain.

Now he writes:

Drops of sweat, dripping wet
The taste of you all over me
You will see, it's what you need
Shut your mouth just let it be

Ew.

And then he repeats:

Oooh, everything is meant to be a memory
Oooh, so one last time do anything you want with me

I want you out of my bed. Get out, and throw these trite lyrics at some one else who thinks this is romantic. Is this what people think of sexy? Just haphazard sex looks thrown in with words that rhyme. It's not suggestive, it just tells you point blank. The most offensive part is the lack of story in the video. Just a bunch of shots of come-hither stares at the camera. It's like a Paris Hilton sex tape with a budget. 

It's not steamy, it looks like an extended lingerie commercial. They both look great, and the styling is amazing. That's about it. Why are you saying goodbye? Why must it end? Is it just love run its course? At one point I couldn't even hate-watch it. It was upsetting. As if somehow I was looking at their homemade after-sex video. Granted, high production value, but I think the Pam Anderson video was more heartfelt. And it wasn't like "Wicked Games." Chris Isaac and Helena Christensen made that video HOT. The song, the video. I still get goose bumps thinking about that one! 

Listen to the song below and form your own opinions (go to the article to match the stares with the words.)