I ♥ NY

This is perfect. Yes, it’s funny – but also, in its way, rather moving. A great reminder that we are a nation of  immigrants – and that’s what makes New York and New Yorkers the best.

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J’aime les Gais

I posted this video on Facebook and was quite irked at the dearth of comments or likes. IT IS AMAZING! I mean really, it has everything – cute gays, Paris, fierce shoes, hot moves, Spice Girls music, a dog, a guy dressed as a dog. It’s fantastic!

Et aussi, le mec avec la barbe et le “high and tight” est mon nouveau petit ami imaginaire…

I think my favorite moment is this bit from 0:41

hotness
“Oui, nous sommes fierce.”

Yes, It’s Still About Race

unbalanced_scaleWhen I wake up in the morning, I turn on the local news, mainly for the weather forecast. The rest of the broadcast is predictably glib and annoying and focused largely on topics that are not newsworthy. And then at 7:00AM, the national morning programs come on – basically the same b.s. but with more polished newsreaders and higher production values. Why do I torment myself with this drivel?

This morning on CBS, they showed clips from Anderson Cooper’s interview with juror B37 from the George Zimmerman trial. This is the same gal who had inked a book deal within 36 hours of the conclusion of the trial. Granted, she backed out of the deal soon after, but I think this is a textbook example of my favorite Law & Order phrase – “you can’t unring the bell.”

One of the things that struck me in particular during the interview was her use of the passive voice when describing the case:

I feel sorry for Trayvon and the situation he was in.

The “situation” that Trayvon Martin was in was precipitated solely by George Zimmerman.  It didn’t “just happen” out of thin air – Mr. Zimmerman alone made a number of decisions and took actions that led directly to his confrontation with and subsequent shooting and killing of Mr. Martin.

And this:

It’s just hard. Thinking that somebody lost their life. And there’s nothing else that could be done about it.

This was just so bizarre to me. “Somebody lost their life.” No, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. That is a fact that has never been in question – yet this juror seems to view it as some sort of vague inevitability, something that could neither have been prevented nor for which the perpetrator could be held responsible. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to acknowledge that there is a perpetrator. It’s quite difficult to disagree with this TPM post stating that “juror B37 is not only ignorant but militantly ignorant.”

But what followed was even more distressing (I almost said “shocking” – though then I realized I’m about as shocked as Capt. Renault). The juror stated her view, in response to Mr. Cooper’s question, that she didn’t believe race played a role in what happened. This certainly seems in keeping with the juror’s narrow and insulated world view – but the part that I found so terrible was the news anchors’ grabbing onto this as evidence that this trial and the events leading up to it were not in fact about race. Rich white lady Norah O’Donnell seemed quite comfortable to close the whole racism chapter because one juror says it wasn’t about race. I mean, if one juror claims that the case wasn’t about race, well, then, I guess it can’t possibly be about race!

Now, I don’t think I have a particularly in-depth understanding of racism in America – I am white after all – but I feel quite confident in saying that when white people proclaim that the shooting and killing of an unarmed 17-year-old black youth is not about race, they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about.

The Magic Kingdom

Let me preface this by saying, yes, I totally get that Disney Corp is problematic on many levels – they are the world’s largest media conglomerate, thus giving them inordinate sway over what people see and hear in terms of both entertainment and news. They were a key backer of the recently passed law in Florida the makes it illegal for localities to enact mandatory paid sick leave. Disney films and the Disney Princesses – a nearly unavoidable juggernaut for children – teach some distressing gender and other stereotypes. I could go on. And like I said, I get this.

BUT. I have a love of Disney theme parks that is uncharacteristic of my typical left-coast, bleeding-heart-but-also-leaning-towards-classist, pretentious and judgey self – and that this affection is pretty much unwavering. I’d always been a fan of Disneyland – and all the more so after a very brief stint as a toy soldier in the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland (and I do mean brief – my fellow soldiers and I were cut from the parade after the final dress rehearsal. It remains one of the most crushing blows of my life, lo these three decades later…). Despite being cut, I remained a cast member for that summer – meaning I could visit the park whenever I liked. And I learned some of the back story of the park and the way Disney works.

And work it does. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Disney never does anything half-assed. Everything in the park, from the biggest and most elaborately themed rides to the paint scheme on the trash cans is exactly right, never just good enough. Anyone who’s been to one of the parks knows this. But it’s the cast members – be they performing as characters or sweeping up Main Street – who make the Disney experience so great. This is true in all the parks in my experience – though I still  have a hypothesis that it’s especially true in OG Disneyland in Anaheim. Those who work there do so largely because they’re into it. In Orlando, it’s a bit more of a company town and I suspect some locals wind up working there simply because it’s the biggest employer around. Thus, Anaheim, for me, always has an extra-special vibe.

Anyway, the whole reason this even crossed my mind was due to a recent Buzzfeed post 14 Reasons The Peter Pans At Disneyland Are The Most Adorable Thing Ever – which borrowed heavily from a charming Tumblr called Pan Fans. Seriously, check them out. Even put a smile on my grouchy ol’ mug.

It’s great seeing how Disney, which has a pretty rigid set of “guidelines” for their cast members in terms of behavior, appearance and how they interact with guests, also allows their cast members to be genuine in those interactions. That is, the guidelines may be strict, but cast members have a certain amount of freedom in their performances as long as they’re enhancing guests’ visit. It’s sort of like the difference between talking to a customer service rep on the phone who is required to read from a script versus one who is allowed to interact with you in a normal way and empowered to make decisions to bring about a satisfactory resolution. Basically, the impression I’ve always gotten is that Disney trusts their cast to act appropriately based on the situation.

Of course, Peter Pan is kind of a troublemaker (I mean that in the best way possible), so I’m sure he gets a bit of extra leeway…

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As long as I’m waxing rhapsodic about Disney, probably one of my favorite memories from Disneyland was one evening after the Main Street Electrical Parade. There was a charming little boy, probably around 5, along with his sister and parents, sitting next to me. He was a chatty little fellow and told me all about his adventures that day while we waited for the parade to begin.  We “oohed” and “ahhed” over the parade (it’s still my favorite, though SpectroMagic is a pretty close second). Then, as the parade ended and we waited for the fireworks, I asked if he knew who Tinkerbell was. Answer in the affirmative. “Well,” I said to him, “sometimes she actually flies over Disneyland right before the fireworks. I’ve seen her once or twice myself. Of course, she’ll only appear if everybody watching believes in fairies. And you have to really believe.” (For those of you unfamiliar with S.O.P. after the parade, Tinkerbell pops out of the side of the Matterhorn, spotlit, her wings aglow, and “flies” down a cable across the park.)

He took his belief duties very seriously, ensuring that his sis and parents were onboard. “OK, I think this might be the time she gets here. Are you sure you believe?” I asked. “Yes, I believe!” he assured me solmenly. And, lo and behold, from the top of the Matterhorn, Tinkerbell made her appearance and flew across the park. This little kid was saucer-eyed with both astonishment and glee – and I felt like a pretty cool storyteller.

And, on a semi-but-really-not-related note, I always thought this gal from The 49ers was singing, “Peter Pan, P-p-peter Pan…” – when in fact she’s singing “People can’t understand it.” But it’ll always be Peter Pan to me.

Signs of the Times

It’s quite amazing to me how stark the difference is between protesters from the left and right – at least when it comes to signs. The lefties and progressives consistently come up with slogans that are both trenchant and hilarious (as opposed to misspelled). Who says you can’t love liberty AND have a sense of humor?

To wit, three of my favorites from a Restore the Fourth rally in NYC on July 4.

stop

consuela

weird shit

All photos above by Jim Kiernan

And, just to prove my point, here is the best sign of all from outside the Supreme Court on the day DOMA was overturned.

divorce