Palin comparison

A friend pointed me toward this Salon article comparing Sarah Palin’s simpering simulacrum of feminism with the powerful (and for some unpalatable) personal and professional presence of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

We began this history-making election with one kind of woman and have ended up being asked to accept her polar opposite. Clinton’s brand of femininity is the kind that remains slightly unpalatable in America. It is based on competence, political confidence and an assumption of authority that upends comfortable roles for men and women. It’s a kind of power that has nothing to do with the flirtatious or the girly, nothing to do with the traditionally feminine. It is authority that is threatening because it so closely and calmly resembles the kind of power that the rest of the guys on a presidential stage never question their right to wield.

I don’t think this article even begins to uncover the gender politics that have been lurking, half-submerged, in the rhetoric of this political season, but it’s a starting point.


Yes, I can

I’ve officially sent in my form for absentee voting. I even bought a cheap printer so I could print it out and send it in. The things I do for Obama…

Why local?

Bizarrely, I’ve been named commenter of the week for the local paper’s online youth culture section, written by Justin Ellis. (It’s about the Young Persons, with their crazy hair and their loud rock & roll combos and their persistence in walking on my lawn. Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!) The prize: a guest column. I’ve written my rant, and I’m testing it here.

Why Local?

If you hang around the Old Port, you’ve seen the BUY LOCAL stickers and signs and t-shirts, and probably heard the apparently endless ways BUY!ing LOCAL!ly bolsters the community. Yeah, keep income local and support our downtowns, stick it to the big box stores!

And it’s true. It’s all true! But let’s cut the pretense that we’re always (or, y’know, ever) so noble and community-centered. I’ll tell you a dirty little secret:

You should buy locally for your own selfish reasons.

When you buy locally, you develop a relationship with the business. (Not like that, you perv.) Respect yourself: support businesses that respect you and cater to your tastes, whether you’re shopping for shoes, movies, music, or just a cappuccino.

Mass-market retailers don’t have the luxury of tailoring themselves to a niche market. Their resources and research are too unwieldy to maneuver around local idiosyncrasies. This is bad news.

That’s a little-discussed (and deeply disgusting) effect of Big Box Business: the whittling away of individual tastes and serendipitous discoveries. Yeah, they’ll sell you the same food and pants and books and movies that you’ve already heard of, and that everyone else has already heard of — sometimes at a discount! They can afford to: they’ve got a truckload of ’em out back, loaded up to sell you and everyone else. And that’s all they’ve got; everywhere you go, it’s the same bland pap.

Locally operated businesses have personalities and quirks. They’re downright peculiar, just like you and me! (Mostly you.) The owners and staff spice the inventory with their own tastes (and, sometimes, obsessions), so they can recommend all kinds of offbeat things — bands and movies and shoes and coffees and beers and whatever — new stuff! Stuff you might like! Stuff you’ll never discover if you do all your errands at TGIBlockTopicBucks™.

Your results may vary

My prescription for tonight:

Hostess cupcakes and ice-cold milk for dinner.
Skip your homework for once in favor of two episodes of The Simpsons, during which the line “too late, mom, the mob has spoken!” will cause you to bark in sudden tearful laughter, and one episode of Jeopardy, and God help you if tonight is the night Ken Jennings loses.

Remember how grateful you are for your friends and family, and how pleased you are that they voted, no matter for whom. Be grateful for victory in local initiatives: the library will get badly needed repairs and refurbishments, and the mass transit budget will not be devastated this year.

Then early to bed, and up early in the morning to prepare for 2008, and a few of the causes that will need extra support between now and then.

You say potato, they say starchy edible tuber

This morning I was shocked to read on that Bush had won the election when no news service had declared as much. It’s now been changed to reflect the current limbo state we’re in. But then it’s not so much a state of limbo as it is a special circle of hell.
So I cried a bit, wrote Elsa a lot, watched CNN, ate cookies, watched the speeches, shouted an expletive at Dick, cried some more, called my father, listened to his wise, loving words, ended up laughing more than I had cried, and felt grateful for my friends and family.