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Crissle West on Sarah Silverman’s Blackface

I enjoyed Crissle’s Drunk History take on Harriet Tubman and started looking for more of her. Here she gives her take on Sarah Silverman’s use of blackface on her show.

“I can absolutely say that you’re racist for being a white woman to put on blackface and go on television. Yes, I can absolutely call you racist for that. You understand the history behind it and you did it anyway. That is racist.”

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Jack Skellington and Cultural Misappropriation

Explaining culture misappropriation with The Nightmare Before Christmas:

When I explain cultural misappropriation to children, I use the example of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s effective because especially for children, who don’t have enough historical context to understand much of the concept, you can still fully grasp the idea.

There was nothing wrong with Jack seeing the beauty and differences in Christmas town, it’s when he tried to take what is unique about Christmas town away from those it originally belonged to without understanding the full context of Christmas things is when everything went wrong.

When Jack tries to get the folk of Halloween town to make Christmas gifts for children, etc., children understand that the Halloween town folk do not have the full context for the objects they are making, and they are able to see that the direct repercussions and consequences are very harmful.

Full post.

Republican Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner speaks to reporters the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Springfield Ill. Rauner is visiting the statehouse as House Democrats push to gather votes for a statewide wage hike. Rauner is meeting with lawmakers and budget experts to get a better handle on the budget situation. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Inside Illinois’s Budget Collapse

A Metafilter member rants about the budget crisis in Illinois:

Would you like to know if I have opinions? I HAVE A LOT OF OPINIONS.

Actually I’m kind-of rage-choking on them. The basic situation is, the governor has now passed TWO constitutionally-mandated budget deadlines without bothering to present a budget for the legislature to vote on (which he is required to do). He will not present one until the Democratic supermajority legislature agrees to bust unions statewide. That won’t ever happen. Some commentators think we could just go four solid years with no budget.

It is dire. Several companies have already informed the state they won’t relocate here or open facilities here. Some downstate power co-ops have cut off the state for non-payment of bills, so there are rural traffic lights that are just TURNED OFF. The absolutely killer thing is, the last governor PASSED AN INCOME TAX HIKE THAT CLOSED OUR BUDGET HOLE and would slowly dig us out of our catastrophic pension crisis (which comes from 30 years of legislators and governors from both parties kicking the can down the road and not paying into the pension fund; there’s plenty of blame to go around but something like SIX lawsuits that have gone to the state supreme court have all come back as “no, you seriously still have to pay it”). The new Republican governor demanded the tax hike be allowed to expire — the Democratic legislature let it expire — and now we’re in almost-Puerto-Rico levels of debt and it’s getting worse every day.

And the TOTAL IGNORANCE of this governor’s administration is AMAZING. Like, he did not know — and apparently no one on his staff knew either (a lot of his people are imports from Indiana) — that it’s unconstitutional in Illinois to present multi-topic bills. One topic per bill. So the first thing he did was present illegal bills attempting to bundle union busting with other things. They are forfeiting federal funds and federal matching funds because either they think it “looks bad” if we can keep funding things that federal money is paying for and they’d rather shut it down to increase the pain, or they don’t realize that there’s a federal match. Millions of dollars here, millions of dollars there, down the drain. The Illinois State Museum was closed for the first time in history IT REMAINED OPEN THROUGH MULTIPLE FUCKING WARS, and CLOSING IT COST MORE MONEY THAN OPERATING IT COST. (Because it turns out it is a federal crime to fail to properly maintain custody of Native American artifacts, among other expensive issues that came with closure, but his people didn’t know that either because they have no idea about anything but GOP talking points and do not operate in a fact-based reality.) Didn’t matter, was a gesture for the governor about the wastefulness of government spending in running museums. The real numbers mean nothing to him or his people as long as he gets to make his grandstanding points.

“Now he’s trying to bankrupt and/or take over Chicago Public Schools, for no real apparent reason, certainly not one that benefits the state at large in any way.

“Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities have not been paid and run the vast bulk of the state’s foster care and elder care programs and are in danger of having to start shutting those down. The governor’s answer was that religious people should just donate more to avoid having to shut the down, not that the state should pay the $16 and $25 fucking million it owes them, respectively.

“My city is not plowing or salting 90% of city roads this winter because — I am not even kidding — state funding for roads is so spotty they have to save cash for spring pothole repairs so the roads can be fucking used as ROADS. If it’s less than two inches of snow they’re just not sending out plows or salting trucks, and when it’s more they’re only doing the biggest arterials. IT IS MADNESS.

“PLEASE RAISE MY STATE INCOME TAX BACK TO 5% KTHX.”

Discussions in context.

Donald Trump

LA Times on GOP vs Trump: The Only Guarantee is Chaos

Doyle McManus in the LA Times:

Sorry, GOP: You waited way too long to build an anti-Trump majority. Unless a miracle happens, you’re about to get knocked out by an anti-establishment wave — a wave you mistakenly encouraged in the first place.

By comparison, Trump’s strategy is pretty coherent. He’s already built a coalition of white working class voters, disgruntled moderates and “soft” evangelicals (the ones who don’t care how many times the candidate has been married). .. Establishment strategists figure the remaining primaries will be harder for Trump, since they’re open only to registered Republicans (unlike, say, New Hampshire, where independents can join in).

But even their best-case scenario concedes that Trump is likely to arrive in Cleveland with more delegates than anyone else. At that point, someone, somehow, will try to arrange a deal — among delegates pledged to candidates as varied as Cruz and Kasich, remember — to create a majority around a single anti-Trump figure. At which point that huge bloc of Trump delegates does what, exactly?

The only guarantee is chaos.

A divided GOP doesn’t have a prayer

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When CBS Humiliated Judy Garland

Even though I know my showtunes, I’m not particularly a Liza, Barbara, or Judy Gay. (I didn’t really get the affection for Liza until I saw Liza With a Z which whether you are gay or straight or whatever is a fucking stunning movie of her a musical revue written just for her where she stomps through one song after another like some sort of musical super soldier.)

In 1964, Judy taped the final episode of the first (and only) seasonof The Judy Garland Show. Browbeaten, humiliated, over-medicated, and defeated, she tore through a performance of “By Myself” so raw and dark, CBS cut it from the final episode. Here’s the video and the background:

“CBS execs.. sought to topple the #1 show on TV, NBC’s Bonanza, by treating audiences to Judy every week. … CBS exec James Aubrey, known as ‘the smiling cobra’ for his ability to flatter and wheedle to one’s face while at the same time ruthlessly manipulating situations behind the scenes, played on Judy’s desire for financial and familial stability and convinced her that a weekly TV series was the answer to all her problems. …

“Judy and the production team had been promised a relatively free-hand in creating the format for her variety show, but almost immediately CBS began interfering. … Their version of comedy relief was Jerry making jokes about Judy’s struggles with weight and self-image (Garland had been gotten quite heavy prior to slimming down for her show).

“The humiliation comes into play because, while CBS bought a sophisticated musical variety show for grown-ups, when it came to actually tape the episodes they used a heavy hand in attempting to channel Judy into something she wasn’t.

“Judy, for her part, was a phenomenally good sport for the first 13 episodes and gamely went along with skits and jokes she must have found hurtful and unfunny. The tide began to turn when she was called from taping to a CBS board room for notes.

“Judy was told that her frequent hugging and hand-holding of guests was making audiences uncomfortable – that CBS test audiences didn’t feel comfortable having Judy in their homes. With that, Judy requested a telephone and called her very good friend, President John F. Kennedy, in the presence of the board. After confirming that Kennedy had seen the previous week’s show, Judy asked how comfortable he and Jackie were with having her in their home every week. Kennedy replied he was very comfortable with Judy and looked forward to the next time they could get together. Judy’s power play backfired and William Paley, CBS head, began the process of gutting her show budget, which would hopefully lead to cancellation – his words “I don’t want that cunt bringing down my Sunday evening.” JFK’s death in November of that year saw the loss of one of Judy’s biggest supporters and the struggle she had over performing a tribute to Kennedy on the show sealed the deal. In the end, CBS, allowed Judy to sing ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ but not dedicate the performance to “Dear Jack.”

“As kind and supportive as CBS appeared to be when wooing Garland was as mean and vindictive as they became when it was clear Judy would never beat Bonanza. Instead of moving time-slots and giving the show a chance, as they did with many of Judy’s peers – particularly Danny Kaye – they unceremoniously cancelled the series – WHILE THE FIRST SEASON WAS STILL BEING TAPED!

“Judy Garland not only had to face the negativity of the CBS publicity machine working against her, she had to suffer the humiliation of finishing out her contract when she knew there would be no second season. Her dreams of stability shattered, and with only enough budget remaining for ‘concert-style’ shows, Judy kicked it up a notch and gave some of her finest, rawest performances in the final episodes.

“I’m sad for the circumstances surrounding The Judy Garland show, but it resulted in some of the best performances of Judy’s career and gives us and idea of how electric and amazing Judy was live.”

Full discussion in context.

Donald Trump

Chris Hedges on the Rise of American Fascism

This essay from Chris Hedges is searing. Nearly every sentence is a grenade.

“College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity—embodied in politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—succeeded for decades. These elites, many from East Coast Ivy League schools, spoke the language of values—civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class—while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters. This game has ended.

“These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate. … They want the freedom to ridicule and dismiss intellectuals, ideas, science and culture. They want the freedom to silence those who have been telling them how to behave. And they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the liberal state.

“The Democrats are playing a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate. She epitomizes the double-dealing of the college-educated elites, those who speak the feel-your-pain language of ordinary men and women, who hold up the bible of political correctness, while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power.”

Just read the whole thing: The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism

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Nocturnal and Alpha

Had a great afternoon nap on the floor (does anybody else do that?) and a pizza is on the way so I can take a little time to detail the dynamic duo of events we attended last night.

First up was the Alpha party.

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Alpha was produced by the Fog City Pups ‘pack’ at a seedy basement club in a deadend alley near Jessie and 6th. It would take a whole other essay to talk about the conventions of pups/alphas as an intentionally created culture (and I’d probably need to interview a few friends to get the full gist). Anyway, Alpha’s pedigree rests in a regular private party that outgrew it’s origins to becoming a public event. DJs Adam Kraft, Kevin O’Connor, and Jim Collins kept a sexy sensual spare beat bouncing and the club environment was darkly lit.

The occasion for the party was the birthday of pup Turbo and one year anniversary of the founding of the Fog City Pack. The party had promised “hot guys, low inhibitions” and certainly delivered with a clothes check encouraging minimal clothing (lots of leather and jockstraps) and a “red light room” outfitted with three sex slings and cushioned couches that most likely took a beating over the course of the night. We’re friends with a lot of the pups, so Ron and I stopped by as we headed out for the evening. And so did everybody else. Even though Alpha was targeted towards the pups and related sub-culture, the party had amazing buzz and everybody was there.

In all honesty, this kind of event isn’t really our cup of tea – and that is completely fine. But what Alpha was intended to be, what attracted people to it, and what it was were all perfectly aligned for a crowd ready to revel in it. The Fog City Pups did a fantastic job creating an event that was uniquely theirs but also brought in a broader crowd.

Can’t wait for the next one!

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I probably talk about DJ Jack Chang too much. I first discovered him on Tribe.net back around 2006 and found the hours upon hours of music he made available on his website, changmusic.com.

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Lucky enough to have brunch with DJ Jack Chang at Catch. Thanks, Jack!

Even before we ever went to circuit parties we always enjoyed Jack’s dark, harder edged mixes. And so when Ky Martinez told us he just got off the phone with Jack’s manager and that he was coming in at the end of February for the Nocturnal event, Ron immediately started moving his schedule around so we wouldn’t miss the evening.

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Gogo Thomas Julio Rodriguez commanding the box at Nocturnal.

Nocturnal was at BeatBox, a frequent venue for many of these types of events and so it can be a challenge to design the environment of the club to be different and fresh each time. Ky and the gang had moved some platforms around, added some stairs up to the gogo boxes and had some scenic elements that hung from the ceiling which gave the space more height. Expert lighting design from William Brown reinforced the space to keep it elastic and changing shape.

Local favorite Russ Rich opened. He is always spectacular whether it’s prime time circuit, Sunday Funday cocktails, tea dance, or afterhours-y. Always glad to see him at the helm.

Then around midnight Russ’s set ended and Jack came on with a breathless overture with William activating even more lasers and lights in the space and then launching into an expertly constructed four-hour set. The crowd went nuts and enjoyed every minute of it. At around 3:50 or so, Jack’s set eased off as the crowd made their way to coat check and out the door. Ron and I were literally the last two patrons to leave the club.

Ky, Juan, Mohammad, and Cecil put together an amazing evening with Nocturnal – the first of four events this year so stay tuned for the next one.

Update: Jack released the full four hour mix from Saturday.