Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I Love Country Music

I wrote about my love for this Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song during our last election cycle, but back then, no one had uploaded videos of him singing the song. This is probably as much a function of these performances not having happened at that time as the technological advances which have turned us all into videographers and documentarians. Now that I have stumbled upon this, I felt the need to revisit the song and, yes,  the line, "What she needs, I don't have, that's not in the hand that I'm holding" packs the same quiet punch it did when I first heard it when I was fifteen. I can't help but wonder what was wrong with me that I identified with songs like this back before I had ever even kissed anyone and that I still identify with songs like this even though I have been happily coupled with the same person for close to two decades. Maybe it is a sort of payment I make for being happy. Maybe there is this other Alison out there who is living a life of sorrow for me and I have to listen to these songs or else she will come and take my place and I will be forced to take hers. Maybe I am just a memory and a YouTube video away from finding myself in an apartment somewhere playing Roy Orbison records till dawn. Or maybe I am reading to much into it and I just like it because it is really good and I have excellent taste.

Of course, it is impossible to watch this video without being struck by how Lloyd Cole has aged. he was always an attractive man, Lloyd Cole, and it is a bit unsettling to see how his aging has taken a similar path as another similarly attractive man from that era, Bruce Campbell. It is a bit uncanny. I am wondering if the two men google one another from time to time ("hey, what's that guy with my face doing these days?"). Also, looking at pictures of these men, I am having that weird sense of "how did these guys get so old when I haven't age one bit?" sense because, in my mind, I am still thirteen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ignore The Media Frenzy

As a stay at home mom, of course, I have thoughts about the current kerfuffle.

First things first. A liberal pundit and lobbyist, Hilary Rosen, said the following
What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, "Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and, When I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing."

Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of, how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we -- why we worry about their future.
Oh the horror. Or if you are a Republican Party strategist desperate to get everyone to stop noticing how misogynistic your policies are, "Thank you, Hilary Rosen. Unleash the hounds!"

The Romney campaign said that the "choice" to stay home is as valid as the "choice" to work. Ann Romney created a Twitter account so she could respond and go on about how she chose to stay home and raise her children. As someone who "chose" to stay home, I am so irritated that they are turning this into a discussion of "choice" because, for so many women, the decision to continue working after having children is not a choice, it is a financial necessity and for so many women who choose not to work, it is more of a response to financial realities than a desire to stay at home. But by making it about "choice, they get to frame the mommy wars in the stereotypical way sure to inflame the hearts of red state voters: the woman who realizes that she doesn't need a fancy career in order to be fulfilled, she has her kids vs. the feminist who is neglecting her children because she cares more about her career.

Unfortunately, some of my online friends have started to talk about how hard it is to work and raise a family and how much easier stay at home moms have it or have said that, ugh, staying home to raise kids is hard work in a different way, and by engaging in these conversations at all, we are missing the point. It isn't about who works harder or who has it worse. It isn't about whether Ann Romney's lack of work experience influences her ability to understand the issues important to American women. When we start to engage in discussions about whether working mothers or stays at home mothers have it worse or who works harder or whose opinion has more validity, we fall into the trap the Republicans want us to because it is inevitable that people will end up discussing "choice" and slamming someone else's. And we allow the Romney campaign to get us to avoid discussing his proposals and how they will effect women (all women-the ones who work and the ones who don't, the ones with kids and the ones without).

Some people have said that the real issue is that Ann Romney, like her husband, is out of touch with most Americans. While it is tempting to simply dismiss the Romneys as being the Mormon versions of the girl Jarvis Cocker sang about in Common People, we really should avoid the urge. The complete lack of awareness about how the vast majority of people live is not simply a function of Mitt having been born into wealth or Ann having never had a job, and I think it is dangerous to suggest it is. Because we all know wealthy people who were able to step outside the bubble their privilege afforded them and understand the plight of people with far less and did so for reasons other than wanting to get those people's votes. Some women who stay home to raise families volunteer at women's shelters and soup kitchens and tutor low income schoolchildren or spend a lot of their free time reading about injustice and trying to find ways to battle it (cough cough). So let's be honest here, the reason the Romneys don't understand what most of the voters in this country are feeling is because they are not interested in understanding except in so far as it might get us to vote for Mitt in November. In this respect, they are even more annoying and awful than the girl who came from Greece and had a thirst for knowledge.

So as a stay at home mom by choice, I want to know how Mitt Romney's policies help women. I want to know what choices women will have if they are not paid the same as men (and are denied the right to sue employers when this is the case-because that is what not supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act means), have no access to contraception (that is the reality of personhood amendments and allowing employers to have "religious freedom" in what health services they will cover), have no access to affordable health care if they do not receive it through their employers and/or have pre-existing conditions (though he once thought the Massachusetts law should be a model for the rest of the country, that was in another time and place. Mitt Romney says he will repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), and merely must hope that jobs and prosperity trickle down from the small number of people benefiting from the Bush Era tax breaks and the extremely low tax rate on capital gains? It just seems to me that in Mitt Romney's America, the "choice" to stay home may be one more American women will be forced to make, not because they want to, but because there won't be any others for them to make.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trailer Review: Blue Like Jazz

A friend of mine sent me a note asking if I had seen this trailer and how she thought of me because of the Reed connection.

I hadn't, but I went and watched it. So, my review of the movie based upon the trailer: FAIL. I mean, sure, it may be an awesome story and well made and all, but in terms of depicting the college I know, not so much.

So it is based on a book about an Evangelical Christian boy who goes to Reed. According to the Wikipedia page, the author, Donald Miller, audited classes at Reed around the same time I was there. However, the film looks chock full of false assumptions about Reed that many Portlanders have. I don't remember any "Here at REED college" sort of lectures by professors and while the student body is certainly liberal, overall, they are not on the whole so hostile to religion that someone suggesting someone else "get in the closet" with their religion would be a regular experience (I am not suggesting it never happened, just that, overall, people had more important things to worry about than other people's religious views)--sure, there were a few people who were hostile towards Christianity, but only a person with an axe to grind would look at those view and extrapolate that out to the entire community. For example, there was a girl in my Hum 110 conference freshman year who was, according to her roommates, an Evangelical Christian. One of her roommates said she would cry because she knew she would never meet the man she wanted to marry at Reed and why do you go to college if not to meet your spouse? I should mention that her roommate was not a nice person. However, yeah, someone espousing such a viewpoint wouldn't be shunned for being an Evangelical Christian, but for being a dupe of the Patriarchy and naive. I am sure she left thinking Reed was a hateful, evil place, but the reality was just that she had hateful, evil roommates ( an experience which, I can tell you from my own experience, she was not alone in having). So, yeah, I guess I can at least accept the fish out of water aspect of this story.


I guess the thing which bugs me the most is that Reed just isn't all that weird. Sure, Renn Fayre has crazy stuff like popes riding bicycles and naked people painting themselves blue, but that is ONE weekend out of the year. The rest of the time everyone is too busy studying to do that sort of thing. I feel like in their rush to make some modern day, Evangelical Christian Paper Chase*, they failed to include the real thing which makes Reed special, which is the intellectual rigor of the place (and, again, if someone wasn't overly familiar with the school they would just assume it was like every other "good" school in that regard and would focus on the, you would be weird too if you had to read 600 pages a day, but you wouldn't have time to express that weirdness)**. So while a few things, like the Cross Canyon Bridge, make an appearance, for the most part, the college depicted doesn't resemble the one I attended, either physically or intellectually or spiritually.

But those are my thoughts and I freely admit they are based ENTIRELY on 151 seconds of trailer. I could be entirely wrong. What do you think?

*I feel I should note that when I was in high school, I loved The Paper Chase (the movie and the tv show) and I think my sixteen year old self would be geeking out that her college was given such treatment. My sixteen year old self, however, was able to glamorize such things as staying up all night study and talking to people because she hadn't experienced such things for herself. Of course, even then I was a stickler for THE TRUTH (whatever that means) so maybe I would have been shaking my teenage fists at this trailer as well. I doubt it though (because, to be honest, the students in this film look a lot more real and familiar than the sort of college students that graced the films of the eighties).
**So, in this respect, it really was like The Paper Chase. Also, some of us did have our very own Professor Kingsfield, able to inspire terror and awe and intelligence, in the person of Gail Kelly. It never occurred to me before now, but I wonder if she intentionally modeled herself after John Houseman's performance or if that was just a bizarre coincidence.