From An Outopia for Pigeons by Justin Maxwell, Opening February 6th at the Shadowbox Theatre
Photo by Glenn Meche
I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to write about for a New Years Eve post for this blog. Several ideas came to mind while I was showering (where I do a lot of my creative thinking!), or changing the cat box or driving to the store but none of them hit the right chord with me since I didn’t really know exactly what it is I wanted to say. Then I saw a FaceBook status by an acquaintance, a fellow poet whom I interviewed for this blog a while ago, and I knew I’d found my post. Which is really her post that needs to be shared. It screams to be shared.
Sha’Condria Sibley (aka iCON the Artist) was sharing the fact that someone had left a racial slur, the N-word, on the YouTube video of her poem “To All The Little Black Girls With Big Names”. This pissed me off, of course. Another example of haters hating on people who are different than they, an avalanche that just won’t stop. But this post isn’t only about that despicable fact. It’s about Sha’Condria’s powerful, inspirational poem and about the kind of role models little girls need. Role models like Sha’Condria who has written this beautiful, empowering poem and performs it to perfection with grace and conviction. Role models who won’t stand for hate and name-calling, who use their talent for good and decent reasons, to share their experiences and their wisdom, to lift up, not tear down.
So, little girls and big girls, y’all listen up and make 2014 a shining year for girls with big names and big ideas. Don’t let the haters get ya down. And Happy New Year!
New Orleans is blessed with an abundance of culture from our artists, musicians, small businesses and many other venues. We have so many options to choose from at holiday time it can be mind-boggling! I contacted some local women and asked them what their go-to holiday gifts are and they were happy to share their NOLA inspired suggestions with us.
I recommend family membership to the zoo, aquarium or to a museum like CAC or NOMA! ~Mary Sonnier, Wife, Mother, Foodie, retired Chef/Restauranteur, proud member of the Who Dat Nation. Mary was recently selected by NBC Sports as its Sunday Night Football Fan of the Week to represent the Who Dat Nation via Twitter.
“Southern Love” comes to my mind first. I give love all year, but during the Christmas Holiday, I go all out in showing, giving Southern Love. It’s also a poem I’m working on. Next comes a tin can of New Orleans pralines. ~Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc, Actress, Author, Motivational Speaker. Currently starring in HBO’s Treme.
I love getting all the coffee drinkers on my list CC’s New Orleans Blend coffee with chicory. If someone likes dark coffee, they always love it. ~Helen Krieger, Writer/Producer – Credits include Flood Street and Least Favorite Love Songs.
My go to for gifts is my studio. Long before I worked as a journalist I was a textile artist. I work out of my Carrollton area studio. Every year I make different themed pillows for friends and family. ~ Karen Gadbois, Co-Founder of The Lens, Textile Artist, Award-winning Journalist, Activist
My go to NOLA gift for the holidays is those really cool coasters that have New Orleans landmarks on them. I love them because it’s a little piece of history, great conversation piece…and a wonderful way to support local artists and small businesses. I often buy them at festivals. There are different versions out there…but I love them all and the recipients love them too!! ~ Camille Whitworth, Award-winning Journalist, Anchor WDSU News
Great ideas! Thanks, Ladies!
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
Portland 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.
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.
Well, I was a little late to the Twitter-Wendy love fest last night but I certainly enjoyed it while I was there! The great thing about social media is the power it gives all of us to unite behind a cause and communicate when all of the so-called 24 hour cable news networks are snoozing. If you aren’t familiar with Wendy Davis, Texas State Senator representing Fort Worth, who stood for 11 hours filibustering Texas Senate Bill 537, go here for a little bit about her background and if you missed the live stream of her filibuster and the chaos that ensued, get the bullet points here. And if you’re completely in the dark on what all of this is about and exactly what Wendy’s filibuster defeated, go here.
This has been your lazy bloggers PSA of the day. Carry on.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for further details and to volunteer.
Cross-posted at Humid City
“You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her appearance — as opposed to her ideas or actions — isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman’s looks when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, an inability to engage in high-level thinking. You may think she’s ugly, but everyone else thinks you’re an idiot.” ~ Hillary Clinton
(H/T to Jarrod Broussard on FaceBook.)
I came across this photo of three women I admire, all together, and had to share it with you. Isn’t it fabulous? “On this day in 1959, Carson McCullers hosted a small luncheon party in order that Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke (Isak Dinesen) could meet Marilyn Monroe.” Read more here.
“Where the storyteller is loyal, eternally and unswervingly loyal to the story, there, in the end, silence will speak. Where the story has been betrayed, silence is but emptiness. But we, the faithful, when we have spoken our last word, will hear the voice of silence.” ~Isak Dinesen
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.
And then a tempest in an oven comes down the virtual pike with rocket scientist Yvonne Brill’s obituary in the New York Times:
A 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.
I cannot lie. I teared up Thursday evening during the “Good-bye” broadcast of Angela Hill’s last day on WWL TV. When I moved to New Orleans in 1978, Angela (and Garland Robinette) were THE faces of New Orleans for me. I was so excited to be beginning a new life in such an exciting and vibrant city – everything was brand new and watching the evening news on WWL was a big part of learning about life in my new city. It was all so big, so exciting, so different from anything I’d previously experienced.
Over the years I came to respect Angela more and more not only for her professional news delivery and reporting skills but also for the genuine and personable way she had of delivering the news to us. I admired her work with the local SPCA and her advocacy for abused and neglected animals. She was a champion for Good Will Industries and often wore clothing she bought there on air which I admired most of all. How many celebs take their activism to that level? Not many.
Yet Angela’s contributions to her community also extend way beyond the television cameras. Her profound love of animals and people alike has inspired her to give countless hours to diverse organizations ranging from the LASPCA to the United Way. Angela was named the first-ever “Animal Ambassador” by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine for her tireless work promoting the issues of animal welfare. For years, she has led the diabetes’ “Walk for the Cure,” and has also chaired dozens of fundraisers. While year after year, she proudly wears her “fashion bargains” on the anchor desk as part of her beloved “Goodwill Week” to support Goodwill Industries.
So many of her “special” reports coincided with my own interests and beliefs that I felt a kinship with her and I daresay many others felt the same.
Angela has been someone I’ve looked up to for many years as a strong, compassionate woman of the people and an excellent ambassador for New Orleans. A few years ago she was in the same jury pool as I and I took the opportunity to just watch her with her fellow prospective jurors. She was gracious and so down-to-earth, smiling and talking with everyone who approached her – not at all playing the diva part we see so often with celebrities. I regret not speaking with her myself but I was reluctant to impose when there were so many others seeking her attention.
While I will miss seeing her every evening, as I have for 34 years, I’m happy to know she will still be doing special reports from time to time. So I guess we’re not really losing her and seeing her less often will make the times we do see her so much sweeter.
Congratulations on this new phase in your life, Angela. New Orleans will be waiting in anticipation of what you’ll show us next!
(The title is paraphrased from a comment by Dennis Woltering during the Goodbye broadcast.)