Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pello ex Deo

My father has always hammered into my head: get a degree, get money, continue onto life and avoid poverty. When I was younger it made perfect sense. But the older I get, the more it settles uneasily with me. College is my goal, that's true. But it's not so I can get more money or settle myself into a capitalist world. It's so I can have a foot in the doorway of change. A chance to change my community. Maybe college will be a colossal waste of money, maybe I'll end up working minimum wage for the rest of my life. But at least I'll have checked off one of my goals in life. But aside from that, here's my rant:

I'm starving, I'm poor, my living situation is up in the air, but I'm not even going to get into that. My problem right now is with how all of us are forced into debt. By who? The government? Not really. Corporations? Yes they do have a part in it, but they are not the fundamental cause. The ugly truth is that: we force each other and ourselves into debt. The more I think about; the more I read about; the more I hear about the middle class, the more I become solid in thinking this. The middle class and the upper lower class are so concerned with status quo that we put ourselves into poverty trying to keep up. It's nothing new that we are a nation of debt. It's nothing new that the world of consumerism puts constant pressures on us to buy newer and better things through the medium of advertising.

But the ultimate evil is the one that we commit on our own: vanity.

It's not enough to have a working TV. We now have to get a flatscreen TV. Why? Because an office mate or friend was bragging about "how wonderful the picture is and how it just can't possibly be beat." (By the way, HD and regular television on a TV with a decent projection really is not that different, it's all in the mind). It's not enough to have a decent working car, we have to have the luxury model, the newest, the biggest, the meanest, etc.

To be honest (and yes this is speaking from experience--I lived with a boyfriend before he flipped shit and joined the army), if a couple who works minimum wage split a decently sized apartment (one bedroom or studio) that went for a $500+ a month, carpooled to work with the acquisition of a no-frills car with good gas mileage, invested in finances/stock markets/CD folders/etc (if that fits with your lifestyle), kept a minimum on their credit (maybe for that car they just bought or utilities) and focused on the bare minimums of necessity and frivolous luxuries--think how much better off they would be.
Instead women constantly redecorate their apartments and houses. Re-tile their kitchens, paint walls, buy Ethan Allen couches, designer brand trim, nag their husbands to buy espresso machines and new drapes every six months. Men buy Xbox360s, Playstation 3s, expensive televisions and electronics, power tools, and other gadgets. Most of these purchases are made beyond their means and/or on credit. Consumerism is to blame of course, but think about it: who are these people trying to impress? There is consumerism to meet personal satisfaction, and there is consumerism that is committed to meet the status quo.

The lower class are ashamed of looking lower class, so they go beyond their means to appear middle class. The middle class struggle to look a step above the middle class they are, so they go beyond their comfort limits to appear so. And of course the upper class sits there on their thumbs enjoying their wealth and oblivious to the rest of the world below them. Imagine how much more comfortably the middle class could live if they did not strive to achieve a status quo, or demonstrate to other members of their community just how affluent they are. Instead of buying a newer and better car, they could save that money to go to Spain or some other country. If they refrained from completely relandscaping their already green yard, they wouldn't be so hard pressed to pay for a dermatologist for the youngest daughter. The middle class indulge in extravagances that press their means in order to define themselves in the eyes of others.

I've been guilty of status quo consumerism in the past, and it has been something I have become increasingly aware of. Every time I pick something up I now ask myself:
1) Do I need it?
2) Can I steal it instead?
3) Who am I benefiting by buying this product? (corporation-wise and socially speaking)

I've now posed myself a challenge: to practice what I preach I consider myself an anarchist, and now is the chance for me to prove it. My challenge is: live with the basic necessities, and indulge myself in everything that is free. I realize it's a broad statement when I say this. And that's a dangerous thing to make. But I've narrowed down what I want my challenge to be:
1) Books and movies- My goal is to get all my reading materials from the library. But I aim to buy them second hand if I must buy them. I suspect the internet will be a useful tool in this. In both terms of pirating and purchase. I'd much rather give an individual money for an item than a corporation. My wonderful friend Marie who's a photographer in Chicago wrote on her site that "punks do not recognize the difference between corporate capitalism and personal capitalism, and therefore do not contribute to the communal good by learning the difference."
2) Clothing- second hand. I've actually found that clothes at thrift stores fit me WAY better than having to struggle with department store brands. Also, I've gotten better at tailoring my shirts to fit me. Sub-rant: Why....WHY IS IT SO FUCKING HARD TO FIND A SHIRT THAT FITS?! I have a modest bust, wide ribcage, triangular waist but HUUGE hips/love handles (depending on the fluctuation of my weight), so I invariably wind up with a shirt that makes me look like a raging clown. No more, my sewing machine is now my right hand. End sub-rant.
3) Food- I've boycotted fast food restaurants for coming up seven years now. It won't be ending any time soon. I'm now extending my boycott to all national chains. I'm instead focusing on local chains, family owned businesses or just downright fresh food. The more money that stays in a communal pool the better.
P.S. Boycott Tyson meats for the love of god, please?
4) Volunteering- I've recently become super-active in volunteering and I love it. I can't see myself stopping any time soon. My goal is to split my 'work' hours 50-50 between a paying job and volunteer work.
5) Work- I quit my job at my medium-town market chain store. And while I could live with that job economically speaking because it was a medium town marketed store with reasonable prices, the politics made me sick. It's nowhere near the par of Walmart which is why I'm going to refrain from bashing it too much. But the turnover rate was ridiculous. Why? Because of the lack of employee benefits (as well as respect) and the lack of decent store managers. I'm determined to make my next job one that contributes to the community instead of sapping away money from it as well as one that actually treats the employees like human beings.
6) Transportation- Now that it's spring/summer, I'm going to take full advantage of the bike my father's amazingly sweet girlfriend (and no it's not sarcasm, I really do love the woman) gave me (oh middle class that buys expensive sports machines and then leaves them to rust in the back yard....I love you, your loss is my gain). I want to see just exactly how much gas I save. Especially since both towns I live in on a rotating basis are relatively bike friendly.
6) Human interaction- I've been guilty of being short-tempered and standoffish towards others for a variety of reasons, many which I don't wish to get into now. I now realize how much I'm missing out on by doing this. I've got so much humanity in my heart that it kills me, and I think it's my responsibility to extend it towards others.

That's my sporadic, isolated, disjointed rant of the day/night. Enjoy.

Le Femme

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Short Things

Good News from Me:

1. Walking to work or the coffee shop if it's a mile or less away makes a huge difference in your mood.

2. Volunteering on a regular basis has introduced me to some amazing women and role models. I'm so happy I'm doing this, even if it's a crazy whirlwind of it all.

3. Belly dancing can make ANY woman feel sexy. I gave a performance with the lovely Al-Ahzar ladies at the UNM Women's hospital and it was absolutely beyond exhilarating. So many of the patients came out to watch all of us dance, it was nice to see a smile on their faces.

4. Just a little over 9 weeks until I start school again!

5. Time for me to start getting ready for another weekend of Food Not Bommmmmmbs! Yeehaw.

6. You find new friends in the most unlikely places (superlove)

The Bad News:

I'm currently having an apoplexy over this article.

You know....really? Come on. A 34 year old man with a camera sticks it up (the camera...mind you...) a 16-year-old girl's skirt and a panel rules that it's a-ok? Excuse me I'm going to let yet another lolcat picture express my upcoming heart attack from reading this.

Read the article and see for yourself.

Le Femme

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Where are your Heroes now?

I'm not a believer in heroes. It's an involuntary, knee-jerk reaction to cringe whenever I hear or read about someone talking about their 'heroes' or 'idols'. It's in my opinion that by placing certain people up on pedestals and giving them a token of immortality we rather demolish their humanity, which is a dangerous crime in all of it's unintentional evil. What do I mean by using the word 'dangerous?' I say dangerous because in making idols and/or heroes out of others, we forget to bring out the best in ourselves because we cannot recognize it when our attention is focused on others. This defies the entire point of humanity and the state of being a humanist. There is absolutely nothing wrong with recognizing other's good deeds and giving awards and calling attention to it. What is dangerous and wrong is making that person seem perfect, a statue of virtue. The person who is a public hero or an idol is just as human as the homeless man on the street. And conversely, the homeless man on the street is just as much a potential (or unsung) hero as the person who the public decries.

A good society would look at every single person on the same level, no matter what class, race, or creed. This is an incredibly radical concept called 'smashing divisions.' Free-thinkers, hippies and tree huggers have been attempting to introduce this concept for the past couple of centuries but it just doesn't seem to be getting into anyone's heads, much less the American society.

Another dangerous thing to do when it comes to heroes and idols is that we as as a population of human beings seem to give them our responsibility as individuals. We hear about particular persons doing good deeds, and we leave it to them to do good. Good deeds have nothing to do with religion, party lines or ideals. They have to do with the responsibility every human being fundamentally has to reach out to others.

Think about it. You're having a rotten day, nothing has gone right. The dog ate your underwear, you locked your keys in your car, the kids are sick and your spouse is indifferent. You go into the supermarket to pick something up, and in the checkout lane you come up exactly three dollars short of the amount to pay. It's the final straw. Then the person behind you hands you three dollar bills. It's that little something that stays with you, that leaves an indelible mark, where a complete stranger showed you kindness in a moment of need. If that's what it takes to be a 'hero,' then why don't more people do it?

Where are you when the person in front of you is short of change? Where are you when you see the elderly woman struggling with her bags. Where are you when you hear about a homeless feeding or a soup kitchen volunteer opportunity? That's a good question, where are you? I know the answer to this question. You're waiting for another hero to come along and do it for you.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 in jail for battling against apartheid. He spent almost three decades because he wanted to give people of all colors equal opportunity. He is considered a hero/idol because he brought the radical idea that no matter your skin color: you are equal. No matter your gender, your nationality, your creed, your race: we are all equal. Ask yourself, do you honestly practice what Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for? Do you treat anyone and everyone as an equal with each interaction? I leave the answer to you.

Why are you waiting for others to take up the arms? Why are you waiting for others to do your good deeds? You read that an environmentalist in the newspaper has devised a better method to reduce America's waste consumption, yet you decline to put the newspaper you just read in the recycle bin.

You read about how Germans ignored the Nazi's horrific regime and systematic execution of the Jews. Yet you turn a deaf ear when you hear a racist joke. Or even worse, you contribute to the same prejudice that the Nazi perpetrated.

You hear about a volunteer opportunity to help with homeless children and you reason to yourself: "well I'm just too busy, I'm sure someone else will pick it up." You're wrong. It's your responsibility as a human, ethical human being to help.

You see someone drop their papers/change/books and you don't stop to help. In doing that, you contribute to a person's humiliation and helplessness. Does that sound ethical? Does that sound right? Or are you just waiting for a 'hero' to come along and help that person?

We all have the equal opportunity to be a hero. By looking past gender, skin color, or nationality, you are being a hero. By offering a helping hand to another in a time of their need. Or just a single friendly hand for no particular reason, you are defying every single boundary that society and human nature by default has placed on you. So many people talk about the decline of Western civilization, and we're all looking for a savior, a hero. What we fail to realize is that we are the heroes. We just simply have not yet picked up our capes and jumped off the ledge.

In writing this, I have come to a conclusion. The reason we have such select few people that we consider 'heroes' is because we are all too afraid, too self centered in our own miserable existence with no intention of improving it, to be on the same level as them. It is those few, select heroes (note I took the quotations out of that) that have the pure strength and bravery to do something tremendously good. And they have the same circulatory system, arms, legs and brain that every single one of us do. They are as human as any of us.

We are all equal.

Where are you?

"Kill your idols become your own."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

An Ode to Texas

One of the bloggers that I subscribe to, HackLawyer, put up a post on February 29th that I believe hits home for everyone. And since I have critical issues with the judicial system overall, this infuriates me. Here is a quote from the post, and if you click on the quote itself, you'll be taken to the post in its entirety. The title of his post is 'One in 100 U.S. Adults are in jail,' this should say it all.
The nationwise prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing the grand total to 1.6 million behind bars. Another 723,000 are in local jails. The number of adult Americans is about 230,000,000, meaning that for the first time in history, one in every 99.1 adults is in prison.
And guess who's the leading state in incarcerations? Texas. My home state. Unbelievable.
Texas' school system is in underfunded and in shambles. The high school I attended and graduated from in 2006 went from being one of the best schools in the district to being classified as the worst school in two short years. Drop out rates are rising all across Texas, nothing relevant is being taught in the schools; I can't even remember being taught about Desert Storm in my American History class (because it was a government sanctioned massacre, no matter how you paint it, eh?)

Rapes, murder and violent crimes are on the rise in metropolitan areas, especially in my hometown: Amarillo. The economy is taking a swan dive akin to the one Rush Limbaugh takes every time he opens his mouth (and sweet Jesus in a handbasket of gardenias I hate Chris Matthews), the judicial system is clogged to high heaven. The police force is too busy stopping every vehicle for minor infractions to feed money into their county systems instead of actually providing public safety in the terms of catching rapists, murderers and violent criminals. And what's the solution to all these problems? Throw more people in jail. Yes, convicted criminals that the state of Texas' taxpayers feed, clothe and build more jails for.

To quote the report: in 2005, it cost $23,876 to house an inmate. $23,876?!?!?!! This is more than I make in a year. For the most part I am a law abiding citizen (meaning I follow a set of ethics that the state laws seem fit not to prosecute me for), I work 35 hours a week if I'm lucky and I'm about to try to put myself through college on a $12,000/year salary. That's a pretty steep price for punishment. Most people would say "then don't spend that much, cut back on their provisions." The problem with this is, no matter the criminal, they are still human beings--as violently as some may disagree. They deserve all rights of a human being: food, water, clothing and shelter. The fact that $23,876 on average is spent on an inmate a year is not quite the issue, it's the number of inmates that this money is spent on. It's common knowledge that most convicts in a prison are in for a nonviolent crime. This is $23,876 spent on a person who is not a physical menace to society. This is why people should be outraged. We basically pay $23,876 for a person convicted of insurance fraud. This alone should infuriate anyone who pays their taxes.

And not to mention that the prison system is inherently racist. There are higher imprisonment rates for blacks and Hispanic males as a whole. Read the article yourself for further facts. This common knowledge and common sense, but the bare bones facts, printed on paper in a federal report are revolting. The report shows as a whole how exploitative the judicial system has become, both financially and socially. It's a parasite, funneling money from taxpayers to support a burgeoning prison population, and it's a population in which at least 1/3 of the inmates are not violent and should in all actually not be in prison.

United States citizens as a population are fueling this problem. Why? Because they do not recognize this problem in its entirety. Prison has become a cultural norm. Why? Because everyone knows someone who is or has been in prison, or they have been in prison themselves. So they accept the fact that people are given lengthy jail terms for the most minor drug infractions (concerning marijuana, hash, etc.), credit card as well as other types of fraud, and other non-violent crimes. And in stark contrast, rapists are given probation. A man who physically and sexually assaults a woman can be set free back into society under the terms of a probation while the victim looks over her shoulder for the rest of her life. For ever rapist that is given probation, three third strike offenders for marijuana are given life sentences. Yet the average person does not address this issue. Or they protest, but shell out their tax money and keep their mouths shut when their opinion is called for in the legislative system. There is something vastly wrong with this situation.

For this, I call for civil disobedience.

Yes, it's a funny picture, but it's a serious situation. I recognized the situation of prison system overpopulation but now it's crucial that Americans do something. I have problems with the concept of prison and how it's supposed to keep society safe. But for the sake of the argument, I will concede to violent criminals being committed to the prison system. But that's the Anarchist in me, and like I said: the concepts of Anarchy are for the future. I do not believe drug offenders should be incarcerated, nor should any offender of a non-violent nature. We live in a democracy now, and we as citizens have the ability to change our system as a collective- and believe it or not that is a very Anarchistic concept.

I do plan on becoming active in movements to reduce the number of non-violent criminals put in the prison system. And I am toying with the idea of Civil Disobedience as demonstrated by Henry David Thoreau. If I'm paying taxes to Uncle Sam against my will, I sure as hell am not going to pay for someone who committed insurance fraud to sit in jail while a rapist is free on probation. There are many things wrong with today's world. But this is something that United States citizens can fix, if they can just put their voices out where the judicial, legislative and executive branches can hear them. With the sad state of today's economy, school systems and society as a whole, the last thing we should be doing is unjustly contributing to the social carnage that prison causes.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Oy gevalt

So now that the weather here in Albuquerque is beautiful again. I've started walking as much as I can these days. I never understood why people actually flat out refuse to walk anywhere that is less than a mile away from them. Just think about how many fewer obese people America would have if everybody decided to walk the half mile to the convenience store or (in my case) work. Today was one of the first days in about four months give or take where I could walk comfortably to the coffee shop. I had forgotten how much walking forces you to look around you and soak up your surroundings. It also gives me a good excuse to opt out of the daily jog that I usually force myself to do (yes I hate intentional exercise I'm not afraid to admit it, shut up).

Plus since $4/gallon gas is coming our way, I'd like to save as much gas as humanly possible.

Moment of reflection and observation over.

Yesterday I came home to my apartment and there was a packet on the clip outside (you know that thing that apartments (especially gated ones) do: the monthly newsletters and announcements). I didn't really pay attention to them, I was just thankful that it wasn't yet another notice to pay my water bill. But this morning I woke up and went into my living room to watch a movie in order to make myself wake up since I gave up caffeine (Darjeeling Limited is a great film by the way, very quirky and somewhat pretentious, but thoroughly enjoyable), and while clearing off my futon I found one of the pieces of paper that was part of the packet that made my jaw drop and go "OH MY GOD."

Background story: a lot of people in my apartment have small dogs. There's a strict rule about picking dog poopy. Most of the tenants do, but of course there's always the dipshits that don't and therefore ruin many a person's lawn walking adventure.

Anyway, the piece of paper that I'm talking about said:
"Tattle-tails! If you see a violator of our strict pick-up pet policy, please report it to us." Followed by little blanks for the violator's name, a description of the pet and the location where the offense took place.

1984 anybody? Jesus Christ in a handbasket of gardenias. I want to smack myself and the people who drew this ridiculous thing up. I wish I had a scanner so I could show this truly unbelievable piece of paper.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Day I Became an Anarchist

I used to think Anarchy was idle dreams, a lazy thinker's paradise. For the past six months I've been good friends with two men. Every weekend we get together and drink a few 40 ozs of Mickeys and drunkenly launch into intellectual discussions.

Most of these discussion inevitably veered towards today's society, government and the social infrastructure. In nearly all of these discussions my two friends have argued till they were blue in the face the benefits of Anarchy in place of the government we have today. And in all their efforts I stonewalled them and offered solutions for change in terms of today's government. I'm not going to lie, I am in love with the idea of the democracy the founding fathers gave us. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that today's democracy is not even a shadow of what our forefathers gave us.

For the past three years I have been pursuing the hope of fixing our failing democracy. I have tried to put my whole heart in the support of a democratic, restructured government. I have tried to 'rock the vote.' But every time a candidate comes on the television, all I can think of is how sick and tired I am. Sick and tired of what? Sick and tired of watching people I don't know run my country, my state, put laws on my body. And I am given a choice as to what to 'settle' for in terms of what kind of laws I want. And right now I am living in the ultimate fear that if anyone but Obama and Hillary get elected, I will lose every single right to my body. That is a godawful fear, and it angers me that my own government makes me feel this fear. I have spoken about my ideals and my beliefs in terms of the direction of government and society to a few individuals, and those individuals have said: "you are an Anarchist."

But still I hung on to the hope of a good, fully cooperative government in the future, and I fought to achieve it. But then it happened. I had my thunderbolt.

It happened on a trip through Texas. I got stopped in Kauffman county outside of Dallas, Texas. I was going the same speed as the other cars around me, but I was the one who got stopped. Was I driving over the speed limit? Yes. Was I driving recklessly? No. Four years of driving without a collision with another moving car shows I know how to handle a vehicle. As I was sitting there while the state trooper was writing my ticket, I sat there thinking about how fucked I was. I work a retail job at $7.15 an hour, I pay over half my income to rent, the other half to my bills. How was I supposed to pay a huge ticket? Then it hit me: this ticket is a product of the system of today.
That state trooper did not stop me because I was a risk to other drivers in terms of my speeding. He stopped me to meet the quota. He stopped me to hand me a ticket that I couldn't afford to pull more money out of me to feed the government. I was not given the trust that I deserve from my government to travel freely, in my eyes, the government has extorted money from me. I asked the state trooper how to handle this ticket in terms of court appearances since I lived in a different state. He had no answers.
What is this? I knew that if I voiced my dissent and displeasure, he would most likely ask me to step out of the car and search my vehicle (which was packed with clothes and my personal belongings). So I had to sit there and take it. That's what hundreds of people do every day in situations like these: they sit there and take it. Like a communal, government sanctioned financial rape. The people are supposed to have trust in our government, namely our police officials. This is akin to asking a victim to trust her assailant. Unless the Stockholm syndrome is rampant, this is depravity--pure and simple. Who can honestly sit here and say "I trust my police squad and my government and my city system. I trust them to treat me fairly and consider my situations."
My previous resistance to Anarchy was due to the fact that I did not believe it would fix the problems with today's world. But while sitting there in my car waiting for my ticket, I came to realize that it isn't supposed to be a solution for today's world. But tomorrow's world. I was thinking in the wrong terms. I am an anarchist because I believe in communal trust. I am an anarchist because I believe the police officer should have stopped me if I was a danger to others. But I also believe that society should raise their proteges so that they are NOT a danger to others. I believe in communities, trust, and communication. Do I believe that Anarchy is possible in today's world? No. The next generation? No. But through the generations, and how we build up our future with our children, it could be possible. And at least the collective out there can focus on providing an alternate view for others who are sick of the system. It took me this long to realize the true nature of my beliefs, and I still have a lot to learn. But it's a breath of fresh air to finally see clearly just what I believe and why I believe it. And it is something for which I shall fervently strive.

Thank you Chris, David and Brian for making me see the face of my dreams that I ignored for so long.

--Le Femme

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Found it!

My favorite things in the world are found objects. I'm not talking about the five dollar bill you find on the side of the street every once in a blue moon. That's inconsequential. I'm talking about the priceless pieces of paper or pictures that you randomly come across.

In my line of work I buy back books from customers. More often than not when I'm going through the books I come across old pictures, shopping lists, random notes, etc. It coincides with my fierce love of picking up hubcaps and random construction work objects (which I'm sure is moderately illegal in these parts). Maybe I'm a freak, maybe I'm a pack rat or perhaps eccentric--whatever, I make no apologies.

So it's the voyeur in me that is fascinated with other people's scraps of their lives. My most treasured 'find' is what I found in an old army jacket that I tried on in a thrift store. It was a note for a Marine to report to therapy at Camp Pendelton for 'neuropsychiatric analysis.' The date was July 9, 1974, which ties in with the end years of the Vietnam war. It was folded up into a neat little square half the length of my pinkie and it managed to stay in that camouflage jacket until it ended up in a thrift store in 2006. I ended up not getting the jacket, but I took the paper home and tucked it away with all my other strange found objects.

Human beings always have strange fascinations with voyeurism. It's amazing how other people's little remainders can make an impact or work their way into other's lives. There are a select number of websites and books dedicated to the documentation of these little scraps of anonymity. To name the ones with the largest cult followings: PostSecret (a personal favorite of mine), Found Magazine, and Milk Eggs Vodka.

A new habit that I've formed has been inspired by Post Secret. Every time I check out a library book (which is quite often.....), I try to leave a little piece of myself in it when I turn it back in. Little anonymous secrets in me that I'm terrified to tell anyone else. I do this in the hope that I can speak to someone the way the little found objects I've come across over the years have affected me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Oh my GOD

Thanks to a co-worker and friend of mine, I have find my new best friend on the web:

Library Thing

holy shit, I love this. I love this.

I'm a bibliophile at heart, an ex-library shelver and nothing can top this.

But anyway. Suharto died today. This seems to be the season of monumental bastards passing away. In someways when I read this article that was posted on bbc today I was reminded of Vladimir Putin. When Putin was named Time's person of the year, I initially almost shit my pants in disbelief. But once I read the introductory article explaining just why they named him person of the year, I began to understand, and now I agree. Putin has taken Russia from the dregs of global disarray and taken it to a whole new level. Suharto did that. Suharto was a dictator, and he was a bastard, but the economy thrived, and the country was stable. So maybe his firm hand did do some good. But that's not to equate Putin with Suharto. Putin is no dictator, and it's going to be interesting to see who can take Russia from the point that Putin is leaving it at. Here's to Russia, and here's to the death of a dictator.

In the tradition of posting LolCat pictures, here's my take on children:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Roll!

Quick update.

Yes, that is a terrible picture of me and a great picture of Duane fucking Peters from U.S. Bombs. They played in some western saloon next to the Launchpad here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There were about thirty people at the show, give or take. I smuggled in a bottle of peppermint schnapps (so that's what boobs are for.....) and was therefore sufficiently drunk for U.S. Bombs. Orange and The Johns opened up for USB. I had heard the Oranges before, but frankly they're not my cup of tea. Good music, just not my style, and their set was somewhat lacking--it probably would have been better with a bigger crowd. The Johns put on a great show, I was definitely impressed. They were more rock n' roll in music and straight up punk in style.

U.S. Bombs made me lose my shit, to put it frankly. I honestly never thought I'd be able to see them live. I'd been listening to them since I was 13 years old, six years, SIX YEARS! and now victory is mine. It felt so good to be able to represent Bomb City at a U.S. Bombs show. The only problem I had was when I got pulled up on stage, then Duane called the other girls in the audience onto the stage. The guitarist then said "Boys, all you have to do is get a hard on." Excuse me? I was about to step off the stage when an asshole pulled on my skirt and nearly pulled it all down. I kicked him in the face and stage dived off in order to put in a few punches. At least I made my exit. But that display of blatant misogyny almost ruined the whole show for me.

That's the aspect about punk that pisses me off. The fact that girls are still not taken seriously at a punk show. You want to pull the girls on stage? Fine with me. It's when someone in the band says "all you have to do is get a hard on." This happens to me every single time I go to a good punk show. It's seriously got to change. And I will be throwing punches and elbows and kicking whatever misogynist bastard is there in the face (like I did at U.S. Bombs) until it does.

But all in all, it was a great show, and I got to meet Duane Peters. The man is awesome. A champion skater, a great frontman and just an overall good person to see up on stage. And I walked away with a killer shirt and a nice 7". The night was not wasted.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Vinyl hearts.

In a string of events that I will not elaborate on....I acquired another record player this summer and I love it. Especially since I've been hitting the thrift stores and getting a bunch of new vinyls. I nearly shit my pants yesterday when I found the ska gods, Catch-22's Keasbey Nights in the $1 bin. I love you America. Another man's trash truly is another woman's treasure (just ask me about my strange fetish concerning hubcaps on the side of the road).

Bring it on vinyl. Bring it. long as nobody ridicules me for my love of Roberta Flack....fuck off.

So Bobby Fischer is dead.....

Boo-fucking hoo. I don't mean to harp on anyone's death, but you know what? What did this man really offer society? Sure, he put chess on the map, revolutionized it, etc., etc. I don't care. You can be a genius, but really, there's no point in it if you don't offer something positive to the world. I could look at Fischer in a more positive light but for one glaring thing: He was an anti-Semite.

Fischer positively lauded the incident of 9/11 and publicly proclaimed that he wished America to become a military state so that the synagogues would fall and the Jews would once again be swallowed up by a holocaust. Fuck you Fischer. Fuck you. If you didn't catch the New York Times feature they did on him, here's a link to a good 2002 article that highlights his genius and his depravity: click me bitch.

Am I glad he's dead? No. In fact I thought he died a long time ago. But come on, what's with the heaps of praise now when he's dead and gone when everyone else was busy raising eyebrows and scooting away from him when he was alive. It is a fear of mine that he will be remembered as a 'decent man' posthumously when in fact he was anything but. Bobby Fischer was a human tragedy in the matter that he was a genius. He could have given so much to the world in junction with chess. Instead he only spread the hatred and bias that fuels much of society's problems today.

Farewell Fischer.

This is for the ladies:

If your skin didn't already crawl at the thought of extra estrogen and testosterone pumped in you as birth should be. Why? Then read.

I hated birth control with a passion. Hated hated hated hated hated it. And that article only makes me fume a bit more. Science vs. Mother Nature is always a tricky thing. There's so many methods of birth control, and none are infallible. But let me tell you something, I don't trust the patch. I didn't trust it when it came out, and I sure as hell don't trust it after reading that article. It's unnatural I tell you. UNNATURAL.

I was on oral contraceptives (organon mircette) for about 3 1/2 years and let me tell you, that level of hormones pumped into my teenage (read...teenage angst) body paired with the mental problems I inherited from my maternal side of the family (thank you and FUCK you genetics) led to a bumpy ride for 3 1/2 years. I'll never forget when I went in for my IUD consultation this past October, when the doctor looked over my medical record and history along with my oral contraceptives she looked at me and said: "who the hell gave you extra hormones?" This copper thing that's sitting in my uterus, which was made possible only thanks to my insurance's last dying gasp, has been a godsend. I am mentally sane AND I am absolutely sterile. Thank you thank you thank you Blue Cross.

My rant is pointless, except for the point that most birth control that women take only lead to even more problems. Why? Because science honestly hasn't tackled the problem of making a better pill AND the medical industry has not done its best to aid women in acquiring more effective and AFFORDABLE methods of birth control. Health wise, women can face so many potential dangers of oral contraceptives, Depro Provera and the patch. Oral contraceptives depend heavily on exact times for taking dosages and if not taken correctly can lead to pregnancy. I'm not even going to list the effect it has on weight, and an already mentally unstable person's mindset.

Come on science, quit trying to make rats and cats glow in the dark and try to give women a 100% safe method of birth control. AAAGH.

In a nutshell, this is how I felt the entire time I was taking oral contraceptives:

Argh. It makes me angry.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Democracy in the U.A.E. and Retail anger

I hope you sang the title of that blog to the tune of the Sex Pistol's 'Anarchy in the U.K.'

Har har har.

Anyway. Democracy in the U.A.E. has one thing in common with 'Anarchy in the U.K.':
It ain't never going to happen. Simple as that.

Yet check out this article that I boosted from today.

How fitting that Bush makes his speech in a hotel that rents suites that have a nightly rate that is nearly three times the rent of my apartment. How fitting that he speaks of the values of Democracy in a monarchical society. Fitting that he says: ""You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government," Bush said. "And you cannot stand up a modern, confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms." while keeping a straight face. This is the man who values his alliance with Russia so highly.

Fuck you Bush. The only Bush I trust is my own. Ten more months with you then I can kiss the rights to my own body hello again.

But now to my rant.

You know what makes me angry?

Plastic bags and fast food.

A) Plastic bags. They're made of oil. The world is running out of oil. The world is vastly polluted by non-biodegradable objects. Plastic bags are not biodegradable. Wouldn't it therefore make sense to cut down our use on plastic bags.....just perhaps? I've been thinking about this for a quite a while now, and it was funny that I happened to come across's Chris in Paris' short snippet that you can read by clicking here.

It really is almost second nature these days to take the plastic bags that are given to us in retail. But as someone who works in retail, I can also say that some people get downright pissy if you do not serve them their plastic bags. I believe in personal activism. Proselytizing about saving the environment is not particularly the best way to go about actually making a difference--it only makes you look like the crazy tree hugger that nobody listens to. Action teamed with silence (unless asked) is a way to make a difference. So that's what I do. If an item can be easily carried out to a car with one hand, I usually hand it to the customer without a bag. Yet I am constantly shocked at the amount of people that, after I hand them their purchase, look at me with shocked eyed and say "can I have a bag, please?" and I swear to fucking god I hear a bit of indignant rage in their voice at times. Really? What's the difference between carrying a singular CD in your hand versus having it swing in a voluminous white plastic bag?

Here is a list of the regular purchases made by my customers:
1. Two rental movies.
2. One magazine and/or newspaper.
3. One CD and/or two used/new DVD.

These are items you can usually care out with your own hands. Or for women, tuck them in your purse and go. Putting one rental movie that's about 5"x5" in a bag of nearly a gallon's volume is ridiculous. It's common sense. The problem with prolific plastic bags is the OCD of Americans. They believe in compartmentalization, in dividing items up into places where they can be easily contained. And in other words, retail has given them so many plastic bags that--like a fat kid when his mother says 'no more cake, dear,'--they're shocked when they do not come with the package.

Here's a good website that can explain, better than I can, the benefits of using reusable bags in shopping and the havoc that plastic bags cause in the world today:

Phase two: Fast food

Fast food makes me want to vomit. I quit eating fast food and drinking soda when I was in 8th grade. I went from being a 200 pound 13-year-old girl to a run of the mill angry 14 year old of an average weight. That says a lot.

I was reminded today of how much I hate fast food when my co-worker brought Wendy's back to the break room. After auditing my drawer and stepping into the break room to put on my jacket and excavate my keys from my (admittedly) too big purse I heard a squeal from him. Yes. A squeal from a fully grown, plainly heterosexual male. I went over to the table and in front of him was his unwrapped Wendy's burger, and next to it was a most definitely was not ketchup. My co-worker is the kind of person who would--and has--picked up a sandwich off a floor and eaten it with out brushing the dirt off first. Yet this same man promptly dumped his entire hamburger into the trash and said "I wasted$1.50 on this!"


And I fully blame the cardboard taste and mass produced nature of fast food for the fat people in America. And fat people in turn gives us bad drivers. Yes, obese people make bad drivers. Why? Because they are obese and upset about it and they have heavy machinery to show it. Don't believe me? Then you ain't from the U.S.A. Think about it.

bowling ball? Nah. He got that hamburger that Bryan threw away.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

He said WHAT?!

I know I promised a blog on focused consumerism, and that's coming. But I had to make a post about this: I love the balls of Pervez Musharraf. I don't know how he's going to do with Pakistan now that he's graduated from General to President, but you gotta love the man for flipping off America's pushy bully attitude and saying "stay the HELL out of my country man or I'm going to bitch slap you another one!"

If America gets all snit-faced and grumbles about how Pakistan is hiding something, I'll be sitting in the wings waiting to make a "well didn't we tell the British not to invade us back in the 1700s, or have you forgotten already? A country is a country is a sove-fucking-reign country!"

the link: 'Fuck you, this is my country' so sayeth Musharraf.

--Le Femme

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The other day I picked up a book at the library the other day, Horseradish by Lemony Snickett.

I'm not a fan of his 'Series of Unfortunate Events' books, but this slim volume of anecdotes and quotations--each one laced with wry humor--did not fail to satisfy me. I have dogeared the pages of my favorite quotes, showed one of them to my friends and they all managed to read the entire book in one fell gulp. Snicket's advice is poignant, bitterly funny and very very true in every sense of the word. Even the back of his book states:

'Life is a turbulent journey, fraught with confusion heartbreak and inconvenience. This book will not help.'

Not entirely true. With each quote, a singular memory of my life comes to mind, and the lesson I learned is parallel with Snicket's advice. And it reminds me that I'm not completely hopeless and insane in my line of thinking.

'Perhaps if we saw what was ahead of us, and glimpsed the crimes, follies and misfortunes that would befall us later on, we would all stay in our mother's wombs, and then there would be nobody in the world but a great number of very fat, very irritated women.'

This is one reason I've decided against bearing children. Why in God's name would I bring a child into all the suffering in this world? I had a great childhood, but as an adult....pfft. Adulthood is all about screwing up and horrible misfortunes, it's the single, tiny moments in which everything finally goes right that makes life minimally bearable.

'Business cards, of course, are not proof of anything. Anyone can go to a print shop and have cards made that say anything they like. The king of Denmark can order business cards that say he sells golf balls. Your dentist can order business cards that say she is your grandmother. In order to escape from the castle of an enemy of mine, I once had cards printed that said I was an admiral in the French navy. Just because something is typed--whether it is typed on a business card or typed in a newspaper or book--this does not mean it is true.'

I think the moral of this is clear: question authority. Just because someone is your manager does not always make him right. Just because someone is your president, does not make him the most qualified person (hellooooooo George Bush). Just because it is written in the newspaper does not make it the most reliable and most honest account. Always always always question what is set before you.

"Love can change a person
the way a parent
change a baby--
awkwardly, and often

with a great deal of mess."

how very very violently true. What I think of in the past five years is how love has changed me. Romantic love, platonic love, and love of people in general. I think of the first boy I loved, and then the man with whom I spent two and a half turbulent years full of wild love and constant tribulations. I think of that beautiful Mexican boy whom I couldn't understand--except for the language of his skin and kiss. I think of all the boys in between, and how they sapped out of me, true emotion that I could have saved for another. I think of the blind trust I put in someone who never returned it. I think of the beautiful blonde haired boy that does a frenetic little dance in and out of my life: so full of love for me--but ruled by his indecisiveness and other obligations. I think of all the plays of human psychology and how the minds of all my lovers worked. I think about how I left each one different-- for better or for worse. It is never the failure or the pain I remember, but rather the sweet rapturous moments that have altered me forever. And there is no power on earth that can change it.

I think of all of my friends past and present. I remember the ones I haven't spoken to in years, and how I would still drop anything and take them under my arm with just one phone call, text message, myspace email, anything. I think of all the resilient bonds that I have created over the years. I think of the best friend I have now, and how our lives are consistently parallel but rarely cross paths--yet how innately connected I feel to her. I think of the long haired girl that was so different from me--so far detached even when she was close and yet I would go to the ends of the earth to soothe her pains. I think of the curly haired Jewish girl I met in North Carolina and how I haven't been in the same state as her for coming three years now, but yet her laugh, wit and intellect is fresh in my mind as daylight. Those kindred threads of friendship have stretched throughout my life-tiny spiderwebs that can be easily torn, or kept whole with careful mending.

But what's worse is the bad blood. The friends I have lost due to my mistakes or theirs. I hold no regrets, except that my love was wasted on them. But it still changed me. Changed me for the better, the stronger, never the worse. To quote Adam Sandler's brilliant character from 'Punch Drunk Love': 'The love I have makes me stronger than you can ever imagine.'

'Fate is like a strange,
unpopular restaurant,
filled with odd waiters who
bring you things you never
asked for and don't always like.'

That's life in a nutshell. Quite possibly the best allegory concerning the unpleasantness of life that I've ever heard. When you get lemons, you better pelt those damn lemons at someone else who's caused you shit, THEN make lemonade.

Now for the best quote of the book.

"If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, "Well this isn't too bad. I don't have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right handed or left handed," but most of us would say something more along the lines of 'AHHHH! My arm! My arm!"

the moral? Sometimes it's okay to throw a fit about something. Especially if it's about your chewed off arm. People who are constantly cheerful are most likely hiding something. They are the ones who end up blowing up the elementary school or killing the mailman. It's true, I promise. At least with angry people, you know what's coming.

Next blog: focused consumerism.

Till then

--Le Violent Femme

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Excuse me?

Does anybody else throw up a little bit in their mouth when they watch the presidential primaries and the media circus that's going along with it? If the last election gave me a headache (thank you Ohio...and fuck you), this one is a full out migraine.

Look at it this way: we have a biracial candidate, a female and two other stock white male candidates.

Honestly? If I was taken to the poll and had a gun held to my head, I would vote Hillary. Why? Because she's a stone cold bitch. Come on, her last teary eyed episode aside, she's a rock. AND she has eight years experience in the white house.

Until earlier last month, I did think that Obama could be a likely candidate until I saw an interview on a news channel where he blasted Hillary. He blasted Hillary on her experience in the white house. To sum up his words best as I can remember, he said: "I'm sure Hillary has experience in the white house as I'm sure she consulted Bill on some affairs of the state. But she's just as qualified as my wife to be president."


Hillary spent eight years right up there with Bill. And I think every American knows that she was involved, if not just as involved as Bill. Fuck you Obama, my vote is NOT for you. I don't want a misogynist president, thanks. Also, what's to stop anyone from shooting you? Hmm? It's great to have an avant garde election: a black man and a female as president. I should be shitting my liberal pants right now. But this is not an election, it's the media circus from hell. Society is not at a point where we can honestly and sincerely elect a woman OR a biracial candidate and take them seriously. It's an image to put on an ideal that we give lip service to. If you think that we can put a female president in cabinet while the pay rate is fucked; while the choice of abortion is taken out of the hands of the women it belongs to; while the rights of women to their bodies is a joke--you're dead wrong. A female president will not fix these problems. Small steps first. If we corner absolute equality without lip service or second thoughts, THEN we are ready to elect a female president.

Obama does not convince me. I do not trust him. While I think the problem with Hillary is that she can get the job done, the public won't take her seriously--I think Obama is a gimmick. I honestly do not think he will be able to manage a strong and united cabinet. I've listened to his campaign speeches, I have heard his platform, and to me it all rings with an air of canniness. I don't believe in him. And for me, as someone who is genuinely concerned about the state of America and its government--I can't possibly support a candidate who can't grasp me and seems to even thrive off of the gimmick of biracial. I do not think he cares about the youth of America. And the youth is what is important.

His Oprah factor makes me vomit. I hate Oprah. Well, hate is a strong word. Let me refine my statement. I respect her as a woman who came from nothing. She built an empire, my hands up atcha for that, big O.

BUT. This does not excuse her from being a corporate whore. There is such a thing as wanting to change the infrastructure, to assuage and improve the glitches of society and its caste. And then there is absolute exploitation. There's a difference between selling out and buying in. Oprah began by buying in, but in the end: she sold out. Her book club is a joke. Her talk show is no better than exploitation and yellow journalism. I'm sorry, but you cannot convince me otherwise on that. If I want to see a strong black woman who I know has something incredible to offer, I'll hit up Queen Latifah.

What am I looking for in today's elections? Someone who appeals to the youth. See, Bill and his sax went for it a few elections ago, and look what happened. The youth just poured right out of their family living rooms and into the poll booths. What I'm about to say may sound like the echoes of a dead horse being beaten, but it's true: The youth are the future of today.

We may be young, we may be angry, we may even be politically apathetic and insensitive. But that's because the majority of us have not been woken up. Most 18-year-olds that are registered to vote, vote in the tradition of their parents, which is how republicans and conservatives win the day. Another large percentage of us don't care enough to vote. We're focused on MTV, People magazine, looking beautiful and squandering our youth. But there's another valuable percentage of us for which the youth bestowed on us has not been wasted--I hope I can be considered part of this percentage. We are young, we are angry and constantly dissatisfied. We are punks, we are intellectuals, college students, high school dropouts, college dropouts, yuppies, retail bums, so on. But we've got an idea of how things should be run. We suffer from the pitfalls of having a part-time job with minimum wage
along with having health care rates taken out of our paychecks--health care we do not even have! We want college, but the tuition rates, lack of financial aid, and cutthroat competition with yuppie children of alumni thwart us. We feel the brunt of the middle class in the retail check-out lanes and coffee shops, and even in the street. We are considered wasteful, idle: not true. We were taken in by the generation that runs America today and thrown out on the streets like dogs. The baby boomers made us what we are. And now we are stuck in the dire straits of
wanting change.

There will always be dissatisfaction with the government among the youth. There will always be idealistic, angry twenty-somethings sitting in coffee shops and living rooms, drinking lattes and smoking pot (respectively) and arguing about change. But what all of the presidential candidates that I have seen in this election have done is ignore the amazing potential they could have by tapping into this industrious swell of youth. The youth are still angry enough to voice what they want in the world today, and we are loud enough to be heard. If we can get the baby boomer presidential candidates to turn towards us and hear us: we could change America into a better place.

All we have to do is disregard the media circus, and find candidates that are truly all inclusive to all demographics of America. Not biracial. Not Female. Not Democratic. Not Republican. A Presidential Candidate.

--Le Femme.