Friday, February 29, 2008

Not only murdered, but dismembered

... Sorry, that was the last line from the anchor on the new program my sister's watching.

I'm partly proud of myself, partly not. I've worked more hours this week than I think I ever have. I did my normal job, then I stayed til between midnight and 2 a.m. putting together lists of polling places for Tuesday's paper. But the week's over, and I'm through. Extra Metro freelance, bay-bee.

Speaking of, I'm about to take on one more police blotter, bringing my number of weekly freelance jobs to eight. Two Good Kid columns and five blotters. That will increase to 10 if two other ones come through. I'm excited about the money, but, honestly, wary about my life.

The family gathering at mom and dad's on Sunday was fun. Keena's 18 now. Me and Janiece the other night were lamenting that there are no "children" in our immediate family anymore. I was like "one of y'all better get busy!" Cause it sho ain't gon be me.

Nightline is about porn tonight. Martin Brashear moderated a debate at Yale with a topic of, essentially, porn-good vs. porn-bad. The two sides were a guy that started the XXX Church and some guy who used to be a porn producer vs. some porn star chick and Ron Jeremy. At first I thought, "What's the news peg here? It's not sweeps. How cheap." But it's great having this discussion. With hand-held phones and 24-hour accesible internet, you're just a couple of clicks to porn anywhere you are. No one hides it like their dirty little secret anymore. Porn is here, so discussions about it should be, too.

I'm hardly an objective viewer. But even though Ron Jeremy is a surprisingly articulate guy, there's nothing you can say in support of the porn industry that can't be shot down. The idea that porn doesn't exploit women and contribute to the already universal view that women exist in order to pleasure the other half of the world population is ludicrous at best. When Ron Jeremy was asked if he'd be happy for his daughter to star in some of the movies he's starred in, the stuttering commenced. Of course he wouldn't. Wherein lies the point.

I'll be the first to tell you that suppression of all things sexual is a problem. No, God never meant for us to turn sex into a shameful, hidden mistake that only dirty whores and male degenerates partook of. Trust me, I know of this harmful distortion, being raised in a well-meaning but bizarrely strict evangelical environment. But the strictest of Pentecostal traditions doesn't have anything on the distortion created by porn.

The sex industry (film, images, strip clubs, etc.) really does create smoke and mirrors about the most important, consequential activity two people can share. With sex comes facts. Whether we want it to be or not, sex is a big deal. It's huge. It makes babies, even when you don't mean for it to. It bonds you to another person, even when you don't mean for it to. It's personal. When regularly consuming media that turns sex into something it's not, something that purposefully strips it of its essential elements in order to create a deceitful fantasy, you're altering your perceptions of you.

Sure, Disney and others in the entertainment industry serve up the same fantasy-making. But when someone allows their reality to be altered by Disney, the worst that happens is that they turn into a annoyingly perky, suburban Stepford drone.

Never mind the feminist angle. The whole argument of "the women engaging in porn are making their own 'choice'" is insulting. I didn't exactly make the choice for her to help propagate and industry that makes bodily fluid receptacles out of women. We Americans, especially, like to think we live in an individualistic Wild West of a bubble, but the choices we make do in fact affect others.

It's along the same lines of the language revolution, where now it's not the norm to use the male pronoun ("him," "he," etc.) when referring to a population in general. "He or she" has become more commonplace, and why is that good? Because language matters. It forms how we perceive the world around us, whether we realize it or not. It helps shape what you believe to be important and what you believe to be irrelevant. It helps shape your values.

It's the same with media consumption. I'm totally on board with countries that are trying to severely restrict advertising (there are at least two that I read about in Adbusters magazine, but I can't remember offhand which), especially outdoor advertising. It completely retards growth of an independent intellect and forms a society of consumers, not thinkers. In the formation of you and your very essence, media consumption matters. That's why porn matters.

More disheartening is that the biggest stylization of porn is the whole fantasy of doing a 14-year-old, the "Barely Legal" brand of the trade. The question of, Would you want men undressing your 14-year-old daughter in their heads, is a no-brainer. If you don't have children and cannot therefore empathize (like me), ask yourself the same question about your nieces. It would be hard to regard the abstract masses as nameless faceless nobodies if we adopted the village approach and tried to view each other as family, as God intended. Porn would take a completely different shape, in which case.

Should basic porn be outlawed? Absolutely not. I stand by the First Amendment and will fight for it to the death. I'm a journalist. Is that in contradiction with me cheering countries trying to restrict outdoor advertising? Maybe, but that's another blog.

Is the world going to explode in a big ball of hell-fire if you've viewed porn? Um, no. I'm just challenging what's considered acceptable consumption. The discussion of sex? Let's have it. Celebration of sex? Let's have it — but of sex, not of the denigration of people.

The porn industry will always exist in one form or another. But choices can reshape it. We can at least relegate the industry and its consumption more toward where it used to reside — in whispers, on the fringe.

Huh, look at that. I didn't mean for this to turn into The Sex Episode, with Your Host, Christy Robinson. But that's what happens when you freestyle. Time go night-night.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hither and yon

Saw most of a DVD tonight w/ my sister called
Across the Universe. A musical set in the '60s to Beatles songs. So over the top, so musical, so angsty and dramatic. It's overwrought and they know it and rock it. Which I love. A little slow in parts, but other parts are fah-ree-ken TRIP-ay!!@#@ I was seriously like "WTF!" but in a good way. They got my favorite Beatles song in there, "Strawberry Fields," so that's all I cared about. Visuals were brash and yummy, too.

A gauge if you'll like it or not: You'll probably like Universe if you like Moulin Rouge ("Spectacular SpecTACular!!"). If you don't like Moulin Rouge ... stay far far away. Moulin Rouge is better, though.

You know ... my sister and my niece Janiece talked around the kitchen table tonight — me with a glass of boxed wine, them cracking me and each other up. It was a little on the magical side for me, since that's not a usual Friday night for us.

BLUH .... That full, week-old basket of clothes over there isn't going to fold its contents on its own. Then again, apparently I'm not going to, either.

I picked up extra-extra freelance at work, on top of the freelance I already do. It's just compilation kind of stuff for the primaries, but ugh, so time consuming. I refuse to do any of it this weekend, so next week's going to be busy.

Brian and I have one of our many here-and-there pre-marriage counseling sessions tomorrow afternoon. I keep meaning to take along an actual list of stuff that could use discussion. We usually just wing it, then it's over, then I'm lying in bed in the dark every night afterward like, "Gah! I forgot to bring up that!" Rull grrr.

My ::baby:: niece Keena turns 18 on Monday!! I can't believe it. The family will celebrate Sunday evening at mom and dad's by pigging out on tacos that mom and Brian make and smearing our faces with mom's chocolate birthday cake icing. That's what I'm talking about. GET THIS. Keena's turning the magic number that makes her all grown AND my other niece, Janiece, is the age of my favorite number .... ::drum roll please:: 23. Ka-pow.

Ugggghhhh. I'll be wallowing in self-hate tomorrow morning. I suppose them's the ugly, insomniac breaks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Now it's Hillary's turn, but good luck

Now Hillary's swinging through Oak Cliff, and I'm interested to see which candidate causes a bigger Dallas splash. Hillary's coming in on Barack's heels from his Wednesday rally, with his rockstar buzz still in the air. Good luck.

Hill's Dallas rally details

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Barack Obama's pit stop in Dallas

I drove into downtown around 10:30 a.m. and was retarded by the vehicular throngs. In other words, Obama traffic be makin' me late to work. He was rallying at Reunion Arena at noon, which is next door to my job. Reunion-ward pedestrians walking from Union Station, bus stops and downtown lots swarmed Houston and Young. (What appeared to be) Barack's suited heavies and their black SUVs were blocking our security entrance.

Even with these annoyances, the air was filled with that inevitable zing that comes from a bazillion people gathering in one place for one purpose. Wednesdays are grossly busy for me or else I might have stole away to join them. Instead, I watched the rally live online at Channel 8's

Entirely too many people spoke before Barack took the podium. Several local rally organizers said what could have been rounded up and delivered by just one of them: Early-vote today please, Y'all fire up out there?, This is a time of change y'all, Si se puede!, It's important that you vote for Barack Obama please, Si se puede!, Y'all fired up? I think the left side is more fired up than the right side — let's make some noise, y'all!, Si se puede!

On a stats level, the warm-up team seemed to adequately represent the faces in the crowd: A black woman, a white guy and a Hispanic man and woman. There was a bit of Spanish translation during the pre-speeches, which was great. But if there were rally-goers in the crowd who only speak Spanish and therefore need translation, then they only got moving lips from the people who mattered, like former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk and Obama himself. Maybe there was some sort of other translation that I didn't see; who knows.

You know how typical political rally music tends to lean toward, like, Sister Sledge's "We Are Fam-uh-LEE!" or whatever? Obama's was a mix of typical rally fare like that and some unexpected tracks, like Bruce Springsteen's ode ot immigrants "American Land," and a "wha?"-inducing tune by some British chick named Natasha Beddingfield. I wouldn't even have known who in the world she was if one of our music critics, Thor, hadn't made a blog post about today's rally music. But that's what I liked about it. Barack is working the fresh-face-on-the-block angle, putting himself forth as the candidate who's going to do things differently around here, and it's kinda hard to sell that if all his between-speech music is the same that Hillary's, McCain's, or heaven forbid, Huckabee's camps are using.

On to the point of the whole thing, Barack's speech. It was rousing and inspirational, just like you'd expect. He was badly under the weather and he seemed like he really needed a good, long night of sleep. But he hit all the important bullet points:

• He'll get us out of Iraq in 2009
• He'll roll back the tax cuts Bush gave to the rich while giving cuts to the middle class
• Health insurance needs a major overhaul (duh), and folks like his late mother shouldn't have to pore over insurance fine print while suffering from cancer and worrying if their treatment will be covered
• Kids need to be learning about music, art, poetry and science instead of being taught to pass a NCLB test
• People shouldn't be kept from going to college because of money
• He will, essentially, set aside college funds for each child in $4,000 increments, and in order to access those funds, students will complete the circle and pay society back through volunteer work in the Peace Corps, veterans homes, low-income school districts, etc.

(Somebody please tell me if my interp butchers reality on that last one).

Charismatic, believable, urgent, hopeful, straight-shooting. If he said anything that would make potential supporters fall off the fence toward the other side, I sure didn't hear it.

Don't get me wrong — It's all about HillClint for me. Is she coming to town at all? I need to check. It'd be a loss if she didn't. On our end and hers.

You hear that Hillary? Come to Dallas! Si se puede!!

Video: WFAA Channel 8's rally recap

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Getting too old for this

I'm home after a weekend of being in Austin and at Brian's grandmother's. That's nothing too terribly new, except this itinerant lifestyle got old like forever ago already. When I used to dream of vagabonding, I was thinking more Kerouac's On the Road than literally being on the road for this constant Waxhachie-to-Arlington-to-Dallas-to-Waxahachie-to-Arlington-to-Waxhahachie-to-Dallas-to-Arlington clownfest to which I've managed to chain myself. I live out of a shoulder bag, and I don't even bother to unpack that shoulder bag because it's just going to get packed again in 3-4 days. Most of my toiletries? They've been in a toiletry case for a year and a half. I can't rightly complain, however, because I'm actively choosing this. And the reasons I continue to choose it never seem to resolve.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

universal truth: loved ones will hurt you

A buddy just told me about his sister, how she just found out a couple of days ago that her husband had been sleeping with another woman for a whole year. She'd had no idea.

She's still, for lack of an adequate descriptor, reeling.

What do you do when this happens? What do you do when that bomb of nausea explodes inside your ribcage when you discover news like this?

Some of the responses that seem appropriate at the moment aren't real-world options, like murder, assault, arson. But all of the other responses you're left with feel so inappropriately passive — crying yourself to sleep, praying, confiding in a friend, Christian forgiveness, moving on.

She confronted him. Caught, he now wants to work things out.

What do you do.

I've always wondered if I'd see this during my lifetime

Thought of the day. If we're having to decide between a woman and a black man as the presidential nominee for a major political party ... we've made it, mayne.