Wednesday Wonders From Around the Web

Strange-beautiful-cool things I’ve found on the internet.

Photos of girls and women, known as Ama, harvesting seaweed, oysters and abalone in 1950′s coastal Japan. They dove for up to 4 minutes on a single deep breath three times a day, warming themselves at beach fires in between dives. This 2000 year old tradition ceased in the 1960′s. Photos were taken by Iwase Yoshiyki.  Read more here

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P6 Ama with SeaweedPortland photographer LANAKILA MACNAUGHTON is the creator of The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition.  “The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition documents the new wave of modern female motorcyclists. The goal is to reveal the brave, courageous and beautiful women that live to ride.” I chose a few of the photos that I particularly liked – the ones that looked like real women really riding instead of just posing – but you can see more here.

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We all know many magazine covers and ads photoshop the models. I mean, c’mon, no one is that perfect. I came across this video time lapse of a model’s photo being photoshopped. She starts out looking like a normal woman and ends up an adolescent boy’s someone’s  idea of a fantasy Barbie.  She looks like If she moved, she’d crack.

Happy #NOLA Friday!

Leah Chase & Charlotte at Dooky Chase ~ Photo by Anita Mital

Leah Chase & Charlotte at Dooky Chase ~ Photo by Anita Mital

Last Holy Thursday I met up with a great group of friends (and met some new ones! ) at Dooky Chase for some delicious fried chicken and the traditional Gumbo Z’Herbs. It was a great time and the powdered sugar on the beignet was meeting Ms Leah, something I’d always wanted to do. What a gracious lady she is and one of New Orleans irreplaceable treasures!

Flags Over New Orleans Welcome HH The Dalai Lama

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Twelve various and sundry flags have flown over our beautiful city for a variety of reasons including governmental and social. The last two weeks have added yet another, prayer flags welcoming His Holiness The Dalai Lama to New Orleans May 16-18.

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Public talks by His Holiness have long been sold out but you can still enjoy the Tibetan culture by visiting the Tibetan Bazaar at the Morial Convention Center through Friday. The bazaar will feature a closing procession of the sand mandala that is currently being assembled by the Drepung Loseling Monks.

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You may also listen to the Dalai Lama’s public talks listed below via live stream here.

  • Friday, May 17, 1:30pm – 4:00pm
    Strength Through Compassion
  • Saturday, May 18, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
    Strength Through Connection

Community viewing locations include the following:

Friday Talk Only:

The above photos courtesy of Christopher Lorenzen.
For more photos of local homes flying Prayer Flags, visit The New Orleans Healing Center’s FaceBook Page.

Her James

Nearly four years ago, a young boy by the name of Jeremy Galmon was shot and killed after a second line had passed by, a casualty of people using bullets to settle arguments.

The fundraising for Jeremy’s family was held only a few blocks from my home, sponsored by members of the community and by Young Men of Olympia Social & Pleasure Club, who had sponsored the parade on the day that the boy was caught in the crossfire. The city was in an uproar over this latest victim of gun violence here, and the finger-pointing at the parade as a cause of the violence was happening in too much earnest. Casting blame on the second-line was far too easy to do at the time, but the bands were out in force, and people were driving by the Goodwork Network to give funding to the Galmon family and to deliver the message that second-lining was not a cause, but strove to be a solution in a number of ways. It was there that I met Deborah Cotton for the first time, working right alongside the organizers, enjoying the Baby Boyz Brass Band, the Roots of Music in one of its earliest incarnations, and assisting with style and grace.

I knew the name from her book Notes From New Orleans, which was one of the first post-8/29/2005 chronicles I’d read – I feel to this day that it is still unjustly overlooked as a smart, occasionally sassy, and heartfelt window into that time. I then found that she was contributing to Nola.com under the name Big Red Cotton via a blog there entitled Notes On New Orleans (I wonder where that title came from?), where her amazing voice and perspective jumped off the web browser and stood out among all that hot mess. She’d made it a point to immerse herself in the second line culture and invited me out to do so sometime.

I’ll tell everyone a secret: for quite a while, I wanted to write like Deb. Her frankness about how many people were on some sort of antidepressant to deal with the aftermath of the levee breaches helped make me bolder about admitting that I was on them and will most likely be on them for the rest of my life. There’s one post of mine that’s directly inspired by her examples: a multimedia account of a visit to another fundraiser, the Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund, filled with brass bands, love, laughter, and even some “Halftime,” anticipating the Saints’ Super Bowl win later that same month. I was happy to see her posting at the Gambit’s Blog of New Orleans, and touted her extensive online archive of second line YouTubes when I could.

Life gets crazy, and 2010 flew by, then 2011, 2012. I saw Deb again at a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities program, then at Rising Tide 6, but I wasn’t able to take advantage of that opportunity to dance with her as she took in another of the second lines she so loved. Once I heard she was among the 19 shot by someone lying in wait for the procession to come by this past Sunday, my heart was in my throat. She’d worked so hard for so many years to show that this was a welcoming part of New Orleans culture, and one kid with a gun had struck that down, taking her with it…

She and a few others are still recovering from their injuries. The suspect(s) in the shooting is(are) still at large. And, for whatever reason, I find myself thinking about James.

James is no one specific. In Notes From New Orleans, Deb wrote about wanting a James to come along, and referred to him in one of her most recent tweets. James isn’t someone who can come and take her away from it all completely, but he can certainly make it all bearable for quite a while. James will know just what makes Deb tick, and will respond to her in all the right ways when she’s low, bringing her out of whatever doldrums she’s in. James is a supportive, seductive dream of a black man who hasn’t arrived in her life…but I wonder…

New Orleans may not have been perfect, and it may have lashed out at her, but it has sustained her all these years. She’s believed in it for so long, worked so hard for it, that I couldn’t help but think that one of the greatest tributes to her toils was Ronal Serpas making the point that the second line was not to blame for the shootings – and most everyone agreeing with that assessment. Jeffrey the yaller blogger is correct in saying “no one has done more to cover and celebrate this generation of NOLA street culture.” Deb treated it so well that if it were a person, I’m sure it would be a James.

It’s now time for us all to do what a James would do – support Deb and those others hurt in the shootings.

The Gambit is working with the Tipitina’s Foundation on a fundraiser for them all. Go here and stay alert for further details.

Deb kick-started New Orleans Good Good shortly before Sunday’s parade. Sign up for updates on her condition and details on fundraising. It would also be great, if you are in a position to do so, to sponsor some advertising on the site and keep her work going.

A blood drive effort for shooting victims is being scheduled for May 22, from 2-7 PM. At least 25 donors are needed for the blood drive. Contact meglousteau@gmail.com for further details and to volunteer.

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Cross-posted at Humid City

Screw You, Times-Picayune Subscriber!

It comes to this for the “can’t get its act together digitally OR dead-tree-wise” New Orleans Times-Picayune. Something – perhaps a prodigious drop in subscriptions? – has compelled the management of the T-P to make this move:

After slashing its newspaper printing to three days a week in late 2012, the Times-Picayune is beefing up its printing, according to a post the paper’s website Nola.com.

Part of the new printing plan is a new publication, TPStreet, a three-day a week paper “focusing on breaking news, sports and entertainment,” which “will appear in a tab-size format, publishing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Jim Amoss, editor for the Times-Picayune, in the Nola.com article.

TPStreet will cost 75 cents and only be available for street sale in the metro area, as opposed to home delivery. The paper will continue to only offer home delivery on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Further details on this latest development say that the subscribers will get an e-edition of TPStreet rather than having the paper delivered to their door – which means Newhouse Publications/NOLA Media Group still only has to pay door-to-door delivery people for 3 days/week deliveries. From NOLA Media’s end, it’s giving the people what they want and only paper cutting themselves a little in the process. (Well, not everything T-P readers want. There’s still no Saturday edition…)

From the still-hanging-on-by-their-ink-stained-fingers subscribers, though? This is still a big “screw you.” The NOLA.com website is still no paragon of navigation. It remains to be seen how prominently the TPStreet e-edition will be featured on the NOLA.com page, or how easy it will be to find the news on it. And nothing has been done about the cesspools that are the NOLA.com comment sections.

If this is NOLA Media Group responding to the public and to pressure from the competition The Advocate has presented, I’d say they need to go back to the presses. This is not a move that inspires confidence in the robustness of their product – in fact, it smacks of desperation. And a huge middle finger pointed in the direction of the people who willingly give them funding for an inferior product.

It’s sad, and it’s no better than Scott Thompson of The Kids In The Hall in the above sketch declaring he wants the right to masturbate in public. Enough of this dicking us around, T-P.

Update, 9:59 PM: Seems that millionaire and wannabe Louisiana politician John Georges has finally bought The Advocate and has installed two former T-P editors as key staffers. Is it merely coincidental that NOLA Media Group announces TPStreet on the same day as this development is made public? All I know is that New Orleans’ newspaper wars are fast headed to 451°…

Operation Loki: Google Glass in NOLA

lokiGoogle recently announced some crazy new technology, a wearable computer called Google Glass. 8,000 people have been chosen to test drive a pre-final version of the technology. I have had the good luck to be one of the ones picked here in the New Orleans area. (For more about Glass including a video fo the interface in action check out my column for SixEstate, Exploring with Google Glass.)

I’ve been a pro blogger since 2006, as well as the founder of HumidCity back in the pre-K days. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to work in the social media and online content field since the days when Facebook was limited to Harvard students.

I want to use Glass primarily to share aspects of our unique culture here in New Orleans. Too many times have we seen ourselves in the fun house mirror of bad movies and poor reporting. As a native whose early years were split between the Garden District and the Bywater I have a foot in each end of the urban core, a background that should help me present a more organic view of the Crescent City.

Some of the groups I intend to work with and document include:  Skinz ‘n Bonez,  Krewe du Who, the Noisician Coalition, Chef Eric Mars of Louisiana Bistro, NOLA Wenches, WWOZ, WTUL, The New Orleans Musician’s Clinic, and  a wide variety of local bloggers (including the wonderful NOLA Femmes who asked me to do this guest post) and bands.

The rough part, and the reason why I am writing this today, is the cost. While I have been accepted as one of the 8,000 participating requires an outlay of $1,500 plus tax for the hardware and a run up the coast to New York city to pick it up (probably in the $400-$800 range depending on how far in advance Google gives us the dates). Like many New Orleanians right now I just don’t have the resources. That is where crowdfunding comes in.

I’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the money. While I hate to sit here holding my hand out I also refuse to pass up this chance without a fight. So here is the skinny.

This fundraiser is to help me sponsor those costs:

  • Google Glasses will cost me $1500 Dollars + Tax (est $105)
  • Travel costs to NY are between $500-$800
  • IndieGoGo’s fees  Approximately $175 (determined by level of fulfillment)

No amount is too small or too large, if a lot of you readers donated a single dollar that would take me over the top. Any surplus funds raised will be split evenly and donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the New Orleans Musican’s Clinic. This will also be the fate of the funds if I do not raise enough funds to actually participate in the Glass program.

As to the trip, I have already arranged to stay with friends in NYC up so the only travel expense you would be helping cover with is airfare/trainfare. I won’t be buying expensive Manhattan cappuchinos or drinking till dawn with your generous donation.

So, what do you say? Feel like supporting a New Orleans blogger in reaching for the cutting edge? If so stop by my IndieGoGo campaign. Every dollar helps (and I’ve got some pretty decent perks for donating as well)!!

Thanks for reading!

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Adventures In Sexism

Perhaps it may just be me and the particular people I follow via Twitter, but my obsessive tweeting has unearthed far too many misogynistic postings lately, stuff that we were supposed to have left behind us in this country but clearly haven’t yet. I’m having some trouble dating this particular spate of insanity over men’s and women’s roles in society…perhaps it goes back to this past bunch of national elections…or the Makers documentary on women in recent history, the third part of which I still can’t bring myself to watch…

…or all this talk about “leaning in,” which you, too, can do in a circle with the right materials, but only if you’ve socked away a lot of dough to get your own personal staff to help with things like child care:

How much do you have to spend on household help to replace a traditional at-home mom—someone to do the schlepping, cooking, cleaning, child care, and laundry? About $96,261, according to Investopedia.

In all of the voluminous ink that has been spilled on Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, and on women and the barriers they face in cracking the glass ceiling, no one is saying what is glaringly obvious to anyone thinking about how to have a big career and a family: start saving for the army of help you’ll need to pull it off. In other words, a nanny, a housekeeper, and a baby nurse.

This is no longer some bourgeois luxury; it’s a necessity given the lack of affordable child-care options and the reality that men have not picked up much of the slack at home (whether because they are burning the midnight oil at their own work, or because they prefer to watch football with the guys).

All of which, when one cannot afford to lean in despite the stunning amount of talent and hard work one has exhibited, results in the decision I and many of my fellow women have had to make out of necessity and NOT of true choice: to stay at home with the kids instead of essentially working to pay just enough for child care and little else. You’ll have to excuse me when I post the following links for your perusal; I’ve read only one of them all the way through. Guess which one and you’ll win a Twitter follow from lil’ ol’ me.

  • The Retro Wife, in which feminism is somehow still affirmed even when the woman goes right back into the place where patriarchy says she’s gotta go. Someone tell me please how that works – does said woman not go quietly? Is there a message of protest every day in the kids’ & husbands’ lunch boxes? I’m still trying to figure this out.
  • Turnabout is fair play, and Ruth Fowler’s The Retro Husband makes the most of it. So smarmy & darkly humorous, I wish I could really belly laugh over it. I must instead be content with a knowing, wistful guffaw.

And then a tempest in an oven comes down the virtual pike with rocket scientist Yvonne Brill’s obituary in the New York Times:

New York Times obituary for Yvonne Brill, a rocket scientist and inventor of a propulsion system that helped keep communication satellites in orbit, sparkedcontroversy over the weekend, as writer Douglas Martin led not with Brill’s notable scientific achievements but with the fact that she “made a mean beef stroganoff.”

After a number of complaints on Twitter — and the agreement of the Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan — the opening of Brill’s obituary was altered and the stroganoff line scrubbed. But the new opening sentence provides only the tiniest improvement — it rightly acknowledges Brill’s role as a brilliant rocket scientist up front, but it does so in the same breath and sentence in which she is commended for being a dutiful wife and dedicated, flexible mother: “She was a brilliant rocket scientist who followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said.”

In contrast, recently deceased film critic Roger Ebert did write a cookbook, but it is mentioned in passing in his many obituaries - and certainly not as a defining element of his life right off the bat, though he dearly loved his wife Chaz and his stepchildren and step-grandchildren and had himself described that love as a transformative force in his life. It just wasn’t deemed by the media to be as defining a role in Ebert’s life as it apparently was in Brill’s.

I wish I could say all of this was new and startling, but it’s the same ol’ same ol’ since well before my time. All of us, women AND men, keep juggling with sexism in our lives. In the movies. In who gets called first when there’s a family emergency. In who should be leaning in – or leaning out, as the case may be. In what we do or do NOT do to help when women start families.

April 9 is Equal Pay Day, calling attention to the fact that women still earn approximately 1/4 less than men do. Why April 9? It represents the time a woman has to work to earn what a man got in all 365 days of 2012 – a year and a little over three months. A suggestion by economics professor Anne York is that the household tasks be split more equitably than they have been to help achieve greater awareness for all and, through both the equal pay and household work time measurements, this will achieve the equality we all crave.

It takes far more than that. It takes our fully recognizing that men are just as capable as women as being child-rearers, nurturers, and caregivers, and that it is just as important as women being successful in traditionally-male roles. It takes all of us making conscious choices to not give in to the stereotypes and to act accordingly.

We’re not there yet…and at the rate we’re going, we may not get there in my lifetime. But I sure hope it’ll happen in this century. And I certainly wish I didn’t have to keep setting my expectations so damned low.

V-Day Pileup: On Silence and Violence

There are two links in this post I urge you to contribute to, one being the fund for the recovery of the Garden District robbery and rape victim, the other for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. Read on to see why.

More and more, I’m finding it cannot be avoided, no matter how hard women try. We are still surrounded by people who would put us in what they think is “our place,” a position that tends to be highly restrictive on any and all physical and mental levels.

Tell me I’m crazy. Go on and talk down to me, I dare you.

…the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about. Some men.

Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about al-Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to al-Qaeda and no WMDs, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)…

…Credibility is a basic survival tool. When I was very young and just beginning to get what feminism was about and why it was necessary, I had a boyfriend whose uncle was a nuclear physicist. One Christmas, he was telling–as though it were a light and amusing subject–how a neighbor’s wife in his suburban bomb-making community had come running out of her house naked in the middle of the night screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. How, I asked, did you know that he wasn’t trying to kill her? He explained, patiently, that they were respectable middle-class people. Therefore, her-husband-trying-to-kill-her was simply not a credible explanation for her fleeing the house yelling that her husband was trying to kill her. That she was crazy, on the other hand….

Even getting a restraining order–a fairly new legal tool–requires acquiring the credibility to convince the courts that some guy is a menace and then getting the cops to enforce it. Restraining orders often don’t work anyway. Violence is one way to silence people, to deny their voice and their credibility, to assert your right to control over their right to exist. About three women a day are murdered by spouses or ex-spouses in this country. It’s one of the main causes of death in pregnant women in the U.S. At the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible.

Events and discussions will occasionally converge that lead me to a boiling point on this subject…

Why it’s disgusting and ignorant of you to imply that a woman caught large Mardi Gras beads in a risque manner, for instance. Yeah, it’s one of the oldest, sexist, dumbest Carnival tropes, but it does get tiring after a while. I caught huge, LSU-emblazoned beads just from being at the start of the Thoth parade route. Next Carnival season, I’m gonna ask the next guy I see with giant beads on what he flashed for them.

A list of the 10 cities where women earn the highest salaries is always nifty, but women are still earning less than men.

The horrific news about the murder of paraplegic Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius‘ girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was an advocate for victims of sexual abuse.

Controversy over the Eve Ensler-organized One Billion Rising Campaign, which I only just heard about today, but I also wonder about its premise…as do many other women around the world.:

I recently listened to a Congolese woman talk in a speak-easy setting of radical grassroots feminists. She was radiantly and beautifully powerful in her unfiltered anger towards the One Billion Rising movement, as she used the words “insulting” and “neo-colonial”. She used the analogy of past crimes against humanity, asking us if we could imagine people turning up at the scenes of atrocities and taking pictures or filming for the purposes of “telling their story to the rest of the world”. Take it one step further and try to imagine a white, middle class, educated, American women turning up on the scene to tell survivors to ‘rise’ above the violence they have seen and experienced by…wait for it…dancing. “Imagine someone doing that to holocaust survivors”, she said.

I had occasion to speak with someone about the recent kidnapping, robbery, beating, and rape of a young woman in the Garden District, and large chunks of the conversation revolved around the same tropes that come up whenever something like this happens to any woman. It all came around to our living in a world where women are taught “not to be raped,” and the suspicion that comes up is generally directed first against the woman who is the victim rather than the perpetrators. When a victim’s first move is to tell her would-be comforters and shelterers “Don’t touch me. I’m evidence,” then we know who the burden of proof is on.

This hasn’t ended with the capture of the criminals and their upcoming trial. Though a large amount of funds has been raised thus far for the victim’s rehabilitation, she will need far more than that – keep contributing here. This friend of a friend of mine will be grateful.

I ask you to also consider that state budget cuts will likely destabilize what structures there are to assist women who have been victims of domestic violence as well – among them New Orleans’ own Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. They accept donations of time or money here.

Know of any other needy organizations in the city or state that help female victims of abuse, rape, or violence? Please contribute names and links in the comments. It’ll be the best Valentine’s Day gift you give. Honest.