Thursday, November 20, 2014

Zib-Bop, Roofy Pops! & the Perils of StarF***ing

You what I LOVED when I was a kid? The Brown Hornet on the Fat Albert cartoon. You know what I HATE? Serial rapists who never saw justice and will not address allegations brought against him. Now imagine my conundrum: the creator of my favourite cartoon calendar is a possible multiple sex offender. Thus far, 15 people have come forward, claiming that Bill Cosby assaulted him. These are not new allegations. In 1997, Shawn Upshaw came forward as Cosby’s mistress back in the 1970s. She claimed that her daughter is his illegitimate Puddin’ Pop®. That was all settled out of court with a $100,000 worth of hush money.  In 1984, he said privately that he needed to stop his womanizing in advance of “The Cosby Show”. In 2005, Andrea Constand filed a suit against Bill Cosby, claiming that she was drugged and assaulted by America’s Dad. Another woman, Tamara Green came forward with the a similar allegation, but this happened back in the 1970s, nearly identical modus operandi. Then TWELVE MORE WOMEN CAME FORWARD as anonymous material witnesses for the Constand case. The Constand case was settled out of court 2006, and a few of the anonymous women were outed and interviewed.

Then everything died down, and everyone forgot, until in the middle of October 2014, when Hannibel Buress pointed out in a stand-up routine the hypocrisy of Bill Cosby telling black people to pull their pants up and act respectable when he raped 14 women. That is not a respectable thing to do at all. Now we are in the middle of what most meteorologists would categorise as a Class 5 shitstorm. Let’s call it Blizzurricane Cos™.

Blizzurricane Cos™ swept the nation. We’re still in the middle of it! It dumped 6 feet of drama all over parts of the internet, clogging routers and stopping traffic (Too soon, Buffalo?). Blogs were lit up for weeks! Cos aggravated the storm by going on interviews and not addressing the allegations! In a pathetic PR attempt, Blizzuricane Cos™ thought it would be a good idea to tell people to post #CosbyMemes, because apparently he didn’t learn from #AskRKelly and #AskThicke campaigns. 

Look, If you are a sexual predator or sing about sexual assault while ripping off a beloved R&B legend, then you were asking for it. You put it out there like that, you can't get upset. You are responsible for whatever those Twitterers gave to fitting…

Well, Blizzurricane Cos™ has reached the most dreaded level: black people claiming he was set up and “they” are trying to cut successful black men down. I hate this level, because there was a time when successful black men WERE actually being cut down by the “they”, and this is NOT it, and people saying it now are disgracing the honour of those who were actually targeted by the J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, or by Hollywood execs, or by the closeted KKK members who were policemen and judges by day who secreted black men away and tortured and murdered them in the name of their false god.

Someone actually said, “Leave that old man (Cos) alone!” Would you have said that same line to Emmitt Till’s surviving family after they found the men who lynched him, or a Holocaust survivor whose previous jailor lives up the street from him, or a victim of the Khmer Rouge while Pol Pot was still alive? If not, then shut the hell up.

The best is the conspiracy theory: The government is trying to cut down every single successful black man.


Yes. “They” are trying to cut down everyone successful and brown. Women are getting themselves assaulted by these powerful men who have a better opportunity to abuse said power than the women do to escape them. This was the plan all along. First Special Agent Rihanna jumped in front of Chris Brown's fist, and then Agent Janay Rice went unconscious in an elevator just as Ray Rice was very swiftly putting a brooch on her lapel. Agent Under Age GAVE R. Kelly a gallon of water and then dodged in front of him when he was innocently trying to release it. Then Agent [ANONYMOUS] had the nerve to get herself roofied in front of Cee-Lo and wake up naked next to him. Now they are going after the Cos. The FBI must hate all of a sudden hate Pudding Pops and Fat Albert. THAT must be it.

The only “They” who is trying to cut down these “men” are themselves and their own actions. Cee-Lo Green pled no contest to drugging a woman, and then went on a Twitter based mansplain campaign to give his definition of what consent and rape are, both of which show that he definitely drugged and raped someone. Ray Rice was CAUGHT ON CAMERA knocking out his wife, just as R. Kelly was on camera urinating on a minor. And Chris Brown...Well, fuck Chris Brown, so many ways until Sunday. In Blizzuricane Cos™, Hannibel Buress brought it up in his stand up routine, but these allegations were out the open for years. The public just glossed over them or wilfully ignored them for 8 years. The real conspiracy in this case is that the general public ignored this for so long in order to maintain Cosby's idol image, and that it took a man, not the victims, for this to finally be treated seriously.

People think these women came forward because they want money. Bullshit. The women who came forward, I surmise, because of there is strength in numbers. Women, just like brown kids and intersex individuals, are routinely blamed for the crimes committed against them. They are automatically accused of trying to "ruin" a man, or that they're only after money, or that they should not have worn something different. This would make it very difficult to muster courage to speak up, not to mention all the dirt people will bring up from their pasts. If a woman so much as kissed a boy on the cheek in kindergarten, she's labeled a whore. Who the hell would willingly put themselves through this type of verbal and social abuse alone? When more women come forward, it must be the affect of knowing that they are not alone. Again, just my theory.

Here’s a valid conspiracy theory: the American public is a giant herd of starfuckers. We see someone famous, and we turn them into messiahs and prophets. I’m surprised there isn’t a Church Of Cos already. We do it ALL THE TIME, whether black or white. Everyone famous is a deity in someone’s eyes, and as soon as we learn that they are nothing but humans with drug problems and gambling habits and porn stashes and aggressive power issues, we treat the people who bring us this information like the way the Church treated Copernicus or Joan of Arc. They’ll either be berated to the point that they recant the truth, or they’ll be socially silenced. Lance Armstrong actually got people FIRED for telling the truth about his indiscretions. Try saying in public Beyonce is just “okay”. You will be convicted of heresy and burned at the stake. The second a sex charge comes out against an athlete, no one can believe that their knight in shining Under Armour would EVER touch a woman that is not his wife. Name a celebrity, and there is a star being fucked by the public.

So, anyway, I still REALLY like The Brown Hornet. I just can’t stand the man who brought him about. I’m done starfucking my favourite celebrities. You should stop starfucking yours. They don’t give a damn about that goat you’re about to slaughter for them.

...Except Angela Bassett. You can sacrifice for Angela Bassett.

In Bassett’s name, we pray…

PS- If you’re on Cosby’s side for this, then you’re on Glenn Beck’s side as well. Do you really want that? Glenn. Beck.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On Gamers Who Gate, Cats Who Call, & Mans Who 'Splain

Imagine that you are in a kitchen making dinner, and your roommate comes in and says, “Hey, you’ve been doing the cooking for the last 30 years, and I kind of need a change from steak. How about I help you out with dinner from now on, so that we all enjoy a hearty meal?” Instead of taking this offer of help with grace, you say, “Fuck you, Trevor! Cooking dinner is MY thing! Say another word about this, and I’ll cut out your tongue and feed it to you! You’re already a corpse, motherfucker! I also leaked photos of you sleeping with a teddy bear to the internet!” When Trevor notes how much you overreacted, you say, “I’m always being criticised about EVERYTHING, and the kitchen is one of my only safe places! I’m being attacked! WAHHHH!!!!...I’m gonna shit on Trevor’s bed and set it on fire while he’s sleeping.”

That is pretty much #GamerGate.

We all know that gaming is a male-dominated hobby/job. Though there are a few female heroes in gaming, not many are wearing clothes. I see a lot more Dead or Alive Tina Armstrongs than there are Assassin’s Creed Aveline de Grandpr├ęs. Even on the side of designing, there are few women making decisions. This yields messed up things in games like that fact that you human traffic in Red Dead Redemption or that you can have sex with and kill prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto. Also, games can be more than just first person shooters and open world beat-em ups. Think Journey or Flower.

Saying all this will not garner me any animus from anyone. However, were I a woman, I would have a slew of death threats thrown at me before I hit the “publish” button. Just ask Anita Sarkeesian. She is not the first to bring up the need for more gender diversity in gaming, nor is she the latest person to receive of violent rape and death threats due to her willingness to speak up about it. I’m certain, though, that she is the first to have to cancel a speech because there was a viable threat to her life, and she genuinely feared that she might have been murdered while talking. Even Felicia Day, one of the most famous of female gamers, was the target of hate speech and had her personal contact information compromised because she spoke up about the controversy. All the while, gaming Mansplainers are claiming that they are once again being “nerd-bashed”, but this time in one of their sanctuaries.

Now, Imagine that you are eating a salad at a restaurant, and the server brings you a free olivewurst sandwich. You thank the server but tell him that you didn’t order olivewurst sandwich, and you’re just trying to eat the salad you ordered. The server gets indignant and says, “Stop being a bitch, Trevor. It’s a free sandwich. Eat it.” Just as you’re about to chew out the server for assuming you would just take an unordered sandwich, another two servers come and bring you second and third sandwiches. You just want to eat your salad; you don’t even like olivewurst! Another server waits for a thank you, and when you don’t say it, he tries to ram the sandwich into your mouth and says, “EAT THE FUCKING SANDWICH!” You are now very angry, but you still have to finish your salad. More servers come and put olivewurst sandwiches in front of you, each more pungent than the last. You’re numb to the growing pile of sandwiches in front of you. You try to ignore all the servers, but then one gets REALLY pissed that you won’t eat his sandwich, and he follows you through the restaurant, violently throwing salad dressing and rocks at you. That is street harassment. It’s a bunch of olivewurst sandwiches that you don’t want, but turning them down can be dangerous.

Trevor was not hurt in either of these scenarios, but sadly, a lot of women have been hurt or killed due to responding to both types of harassment.

We likely have all seen the catcalling video that was contracted by the Hollaback! group, a group that focuses on showing how the dignity of women is stripped away when men yell out to them and harass them on the street when they are going about their day. The video would have been poignant but for one problem. They basically made a talkie version of Birth of a Nation. In a video filmed in Manhattan, a population of 45% white people, the video showed 2% white perpetrators. The makers of the video claim that there was a diverse group of harassers, but somehow all the white harassing footage was edited out due to bad sound quality and video time constraints. That would be believable, but they SUBTITLED the whole thing. The Internet went crazy about the video, much less for the subject that really needs to be discussed, but because of the lack of racial diversity. Racists everywhere are using it to justify their hatred of brown people. Mansplainers, besides saying, “Just take the compliment”, are adding, “Well, look, these guys were brought up wrong, because they’re coloured! Now let my don my golden fedora and make some people with low self esteem weep! Douchebag, AWAAAAAYYY!”

In both #GamerGate and the catcalling video, People are trying to defend themselves by throwing others under the bus. This strategy never works. It just creates a new “other” that will be the next target for derision and hate. In the case of #GamerGate, the violent reaction to a few people pointing out that they’re not okay with a rape scene in a video game further proves the NEED for a more diverse workforce in game making. If you’re not scared of a little diversity, then why are you threatening people? The KKK did that to suppress blacks’ participation in society, and like cowards, they did it behind masks. If you are threatening a woman who is voicing her opinion, then your new mask is just a computer screen. You are still a coward.

In the case of the catcalling video, it’s a matter of perpetuating the same poor reasoning a few suffragists and women’s rights advocates of the late 19th and 20th Century by ostracising a group of people who know something about harassment and being treated like less than human: black people. The idea that the fight for equality for one group is not the fight for for the everyone’s rights is flawed. One cannot stovepipe human rights. We can’t say, “Well, all of our issues aren’t solved, so I can’t work on yours yet”, or worse, “We’re all created equal, except THOSE people”. All issues will never be resolved with that mindset. There is common ground, but not when one makes a short film that basically perpetuates the stereotype that brown people are horny mongrels that cannot/will not control themselves. Editing flaws is not a good excuse, especially since Jessica Williams of The Daily Show did a street harassment piece in New York City, and it showed assailants and victims from every hue of our constructed race spectrum. If she can do it and do it better, then why couldn’t the good people of Hollaback? Street harassment, and how women respond to it, can be dangerous.

Saddest thing is that most black teenagers know that sensation of feeling violated when a squad car pulls up on them to question them about nothing when they’re just trying to walk to work or school. Now imagine that sense of social violation, but from EVERYONE YOU PASS, and you essentially know how street harassment works. Dismissing one group or freaking out when someone wants to broaden your environment to make it more everyone-friendly is not a good way to go about things. We need to do better.

Mansplainers just need to shut the hell up, though. That’s all I have to say about that.

Friday, October 31, 2014

We're Getting ROC-Rolled by Wegmans

This post will make little sense to people outside of Rochester, but it should be said. I'm starting to think that the voting for City Newspaper's Best of Rochester is rigged, or that, or the people of Rochester just have low self esteem. The reason I ask is because I have lived here for six years, and for six years, Wegmans has won Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner.

It is a grocery store.

Rochester is the epicenter of pivotal events that helped shape this country, from the American Revolution to the Underground Railroad to Women's Suffrage to the Industrial Revolution. The main cemetery likely has the most iconic historical figures in American History buried in it than anywhere else in Upstate NY. There is a Great Lake less than 10 miles north of us. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is world renown. Rochester's International Jazz Festival draws in people from all corners of the earth. The Hungerford has some of the best and innovative artists and artisans rotating through it. University of Rochester has the nation's first educational program focusing exclusively on Optics. Both Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester are doing research on things and making innovations that cause not just ripples, but WAVES across the world of academia and science. That is just on Wednesday. Yet you expect me to believe that the readers of an independent newspaper, the residents who should have their fingers on the pulse of what makes Rochester great, think that the best they have to offer an expatriot from Baltimore is a grocery store?

Have you seen High Falls at dawn or dusk? Have you been on the roofs of any buildings on Water Street and been able to see BOTH the Brighton AND the City Independence Day fireworks simultaneously? Have you rode a bicycle up Arnold Park at the dawn of spring, right when all the trees are flowering and the wind is blowing the petals around the Zen Centre. I saw the best roots reggae show at Water Street Music Hall. It was a local(ish) band playing: Mosaic Foundation. Not once did I think, "Man these are all great! But you know what would be REALLY great? A place where I can buy a pound of chicken AND cheese!"

I have heard many defenses regarding my disappointment at Wegmans winning Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner.

"But it has so much food, and it's so fresh!"
It has lots of fresh food because it is a grocery store. It is probably the law that they sell fresh food. If it had lots of rotten food, then it would go out of business. 

"I have not seen anything like it! I moved away from Rochester, and I have been all over the country, and I must say I miss Wegmans."
I understand that moving from your home town will make you miss your local stores. That is just homesickness. I miss Superfresh in Baltimore. However, I don't yearn for it or take my out-of-town friends there claiming it it the best thing about Baltimore.

"There is a bulk food/sushi/sandwiich/pizza/prepared food bar in it. Where else do you see that?"
Yes. In Albertsons (CA), Meijer (MI), Whole Foods (Everywhere), Superfresh (MD), Giant (MD), Kroger (NC)...I could go on. That there are bulk bins and specialty food bars in a place whose business is selling food is not unique or amazing.

"Whenever I bring my friends from [INSERT COUNTRY HERE], they are amazed!"
Your [INSERT COUNTRY HERE] friends are likely either amazed at the grandeur of American extravagance and abundance. Western European countries may have a Tesco or something similar, but not on the scale of US stores. Our stores are more spread out, but they still sell food. In other parts of the world, there simply is not a venue where one can get all types of food in one place. they may have a specific meat market, fish market, produce market, but not all under one roof or run by one entity. They would be just as wowed at an American pharmacy, where one can get both carcinogenic high fructose sodas and cigarettes and the prescribed medicine that are used to treat the effects of those items.

If when I came to town on 2008, someone blindfolded me and said they were going to take me to the best place to take an out-of-towner in the city and they took me to a grocery store, I would likely take a swing at them, and then I would immediately pack my things and move far, far away. Wegmans is a very good place to get food. However, for all reasons stated, I am convinced that either the vote for this category and Best Place to Meet Singles are rigged, or the residents of Rochester have low self esteem, or they are astonishingly oblivious of amazing things are happening in this city.

If Wegmans wins Best Drag Show next Year, then I will KNOW that the contest is rigged.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dear White (and All Friends): Another Halloween Missive

Dear white (and black) friends,

Last year, I wrote a loving letter to my friends, imploring that they think hard about their choices of costumes on Halloween night to avoid any undue conflict, and for them to not have to repeat, “But I’m not racist! I know Tyrone!”

Though I hate to repeat myself, given the amount of new attention to unarmed brown teenagers dying and abusive NFL players getting defended for being abusive assholes and famous people passing away, I feel the need to reiterate some tips. Also, all the stores are running out of black shoe polish. If I see any on anyone’s face this year, no matter what version of Samuel L. Jackson I decide to be, I will immediately go medieval on your ass.

Poorest taste ever.
  • Ebola patient and/or hazmat clad doctor will never be cool. There is a xenophobic tinge to it that will never leave it, thanks to real and fake news. If Reagan paid as much attention to AIDS as EVERYONE did about Ebola, AIDS probably would be a footnote in history by now. If you really want to represent a disease that permeates throughout the States and kills thousands, go as a Texas flu victim.

  • Celebrities or flight victims who died this’s just too soon, and tasteless. No one should be running around as Zombie Robin Williams or the missing Nigerian girls or Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend, expect no respect. THe only “zombie” dead celebrity that may work is Michael Jackson, but only if you’re dressed as zombie Thriller Michael Jackson.

Your brown paint had better include tree bark.
  • Speaking of Michael Jackson, white friends: if you want to be Michael Jackson this year, you better damn well be 1987-2009 Michael Jackson, or we’re going to have problems. The beauty of Mr. Jackson is that ANYONE can be him. He has been many shades throughout his life. It truly doesn't matter if you’re black or white! For any other persons of colour, ask yourself if you need to get some brown face paint for your costume. Ask yourself if going to the hoodest part of town in your costume would get you beaten down. If you answer yes to either of these, and you are not going to be Groot, then you should not have that costume. go back to the drawing board.

  • All friends: can we put the kibosh on the ethnic people costumes that are just derisive stereotypes this year? Just as I’m sick of seeing watermelon rinds, fake 40s and gold chains, I’m sure my other friends are tired of seeing buck teeth and chopsticks or sombreros and tequila bottles or painted faces and inaccurate feather headdresses. It's 2014. We're not in a 1930s (or 1910s or 1920s or 1940s or 1950s) Looney Tunes (or Disney) cartoon! Try making a costume that ISN'T insulting to an entire nation (or nations) of people.

    It's just a lil' racist.

  • Women, No matter what you wear, you’ll be shamed for it, so wear what you like. Halloween is officially Hetero Pride Day. The “sexy” costumes are funny. If you have a little imagination, perhaps a "sexy" Marie Curie, or "sexy" Ada Lovelace, or "sexy" Mae Jemison! You know what's NOT sexy, though? “Sexy" Hitler.

What the unholy hell.
  • When costuming your kids, if it’s going to be offensive on an adult, it’s probably going to be offensive on your children. There is already a report of a kid dressed like Ray Rice, complete with a brown doll with a black eye and brown face paint. If you dress your child like an abusive husband and advocate using brown face paint, then you do not deserve to have children. Lil' Chucky is not funny. Nor is Lil’ Osama bin Laden. Sexy costumes on kids aren’t sexy. They’re just gross.

I believe that covers everything. Now I must go figure out which Samuel L. Jackson I will be. It’s getting iffy; I’m getting down to the crackhead and drug dealer characters.



Monday, October 20, 2014

EbolAAAAHHHHHH!!! II: The Texaning

Since my last post about Ebola, one person has died from the dreadful disease. Another two have been diagnosed with it. Those two were medical workers who tried to save the man’s life who died. They are being treated. Oh yeah, and about 16, 348 people died of heart disease. So please, everyone keep enjoying your deep fried bacon-wrapped bacon phalluses on an edible sugar stick while kvetching every time the one dude in the office from Morocco sneezes because he has hay fever allergies. You definitely have your priorities straight.

Keep in mind that Morocco does NOT have any Ebola cases, but it is in Africa, and I generalise that anyone who thinks that a bacon garnished bacon dong is a good idea to eat probably does not differentiate the many countries in Africa. They just round up to Ebola.

Just to be clear: Heart disease: 16,348. Ebola: 1.

AIDS has killed more people in this country than ebola ever will, and no one gave a damn when it reached our shores. I guess it’s a matter of who is affected by the disease. All of a sudden, people are treating ebola like it’s an unarmed black teenager in Florida.

Many lawmakers have raised cain about closing our borders and warning of immigrants sneaking over from Mexico carrying the virus. Some have suggested we quarantine African immigrants in their specific communities and severely inhibiting their movements until ebola has run its course. Believe me, they’ll do it. Texas has a long history of making life hard for people who came from Africa. Others suggest a travel ban and visa delays on West African countries, blocking anyone from going into or leaving West Africa. Forget that there aren’t any direct flights to Western Africa from the US. One college rejected applicants from Nigeria, the first country to contain and eliminate the ebola threat, based on the fact that their country had ebola cases. Don’t worry, though the lie the administration used when this was brought to the public eye sounds COMPLETELY legit and not racist at all: “We don’t need any more Africans; We’re focusing on getting some Asians in our school”.

Now we have an “ebola czar” to see to the “crisis”. Well, I know what the new ebola czar needs to do in order to contain the health threat in the US: We actually DO need to close the Texas.

The initial response to the first ebola case was that it was the patient’s fault for not giving enough information, even though he stated in his initial forms that he was in Africa and he had a 103 fever.  Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected any federal assistance for Medicaid expansion, and the uninsured in Texas are costing the rest of the US $9.2 billion because of it. He was very proud of his decision, that kept 25% of the population without health insurance, upholding his state’s right to have horrible, horrible medical care. There was a measles outbreak last year. MEASLES. Who the hell gets measles anymore? The United Health Foundation gives them a rank of 36 out of the 50 states in terms of healthiest places to live. Nearly 1 in 3 Texans is obese, and with that stat, a myriad of life threatening peripheral illnesses follow. Of the 50 hospitals with the most ER visits, 5 Texas hospitals are in the top 10. Don’t expect to get quick service when admitted, either. Let’s talk about spontaneous lead poisoning for a minute: Texas is second only to California in gun deaths. You may think that this is a crime issue, but from a health perspective, those deaths mean that there are at times efforts to help a victim survive who may or may not have insurance, which means that someone else is footing the bill, which means a family that may already be struggling will fall further into debt and poverty. If you are a woman in Texas, your uterus is pretty much a ward of the state. Birth control and abortion laws are some of the most restrictive in the nation. Let’s face it: Texas is just bad for our health.

It is almost certain that we will still hear panic in Congress and talking heads screaming bloody murder about ebola, all while another few thousand people die of the flu and heart disease. It is hard not to see the irony in American media calling for citizens to coil in fear of yet another thing that descended from Africa that probably will not harm them. A poll reported that 40% of Americans think that ebola is a real danger. Ironically, the people who took that poll had to put down their beef tallow grease pie a la mode in order to fill out the survey form. The real danger is right under our nose, though. It’s Texas. You don’t want to mess with it, but it’s because it’s probably got something...

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