Here and there, on VH1, say, or the web, I’ll come across a “Greatest One Hit Wonders” type show and chuckle along affectionately when the videos to “Safety Dance” or “Walking On Sunshine” or “In My House” are shown – yes, I grew up in the 80′s – but when Devo’s “Whip It” or Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” or the Go Go’s “We Got The Beat” are included, my eyes bulge, I start to foam at the mouth, capillaries burst, and anyone within earshot is forced to hear me rant about “incompetent list makers,” “musical know-nothings,” “unheralded bodies of fine work,” “short sightedness,” “band wagonneering,” “complete lack of vision,” “underrated genius,” “the cold and vindicating eye of history,” and reams of unprintable vitriol.
California state Senator Richard Pan is being hailed in the press as a hero for helping to pass Senate Bill 277, which tightens the state’s famously loose laws on vaccination rules for school children.
SB277 eliminates the “personal belief exemption” loop hole which had allowed parents to send kids to school potentially carrying, say, measles or the mumps, because some half-informed celebrity or left coast new age healer pronounced vaccinations inherently harmful, a government conspiracy, a big pharma money grab, or a combination of all three.
You’ve got a mere five years until the face of a prominent female figure adorns the $10 bill, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The Treasury Department is seeking input from the public via their website, Treasury.gov, and social media, #TheNew10. The department’s only requirements: that the candidates directly reflect the theme of democracy and that they no longer be living.
Last Tuesday night, after the Golden State Warriors won the NBA finals, I drove into downtown Oakland to see if anybody was celebrating. I didn’t expect much: the Warriors clinched in Cleveland, so I thought it would be relatively quiet out.
I was wrong.
(like this, but dark out)
There were dozens of police cars, hundreds of cops, streets were blocked off, helicopters hovered overhead…downtown was packed and loud and frenzied…and everyone was….happy, the cops included. On the city’s main thoroughfare, Broadway, which I could only glimpse from half a block away, people were jammed shoulder to shoulder, chanting “Warriors,” honking plastic horns, and dancing. Just to be able to leave the area I had to drive three blocks, backward, the wrong way, on a one way street, past cops. And no one cared: the cops just smiled when I gave them a “sorry, what can I do?!” glance.
And then I thought: this is a form of religion – a huge group of strangers coming together to celebrate something bigger than themselves and feel united. Read more...
Nine African Americans shot dead in a South Carolina church. Twenty kids and six adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary. The chokings, shootings and beatings of unarmed young black men this past year. The tiny notice buried in today’s paper, barely meriting coverage – the same one with a headline article on the South Carolina shootings – announcing “Man Pleads Guilty To Displaying Noose.” On and on.
There is no silver lining here. Only grief, outrage, despair. If 20 dead kids, most of them white, didn’t create enough momentum to change gun control laws, and didn’t motivate us to invest millions of dollars in mental health care, then this latest tragedy won’t get anyone to budge, either. Read more...
In “Cracking College Admissions,” the handbook written by SAT test-prep company Princeton Review, Asian-American students are given this advice: “If you’re given an option, don’t attach a photograph to your application and don’t answer the optional question about your ethnic background.”
Now why would this be the case?
Many centuries ago, when I was a high school student, the common wisdom was to do anything you could – short of flat out lying or wearing black face to your college interview – to identify yourself as anything but Caucasian. Had a twice-removed aunt from Korea? Good. An African-American grandmother? Even better. Could you describe yourself as 1/16th Cherokee? Perfect!
I watch pro sports for the same reason I watch shows like “Project Runway:” it’s just really impressive and inspiring to see people at the top of their game. As a kid, I “hated” jocks for being, well, jocks, and the most I could do in the sartorial department was sew on the odd button.
But now – it’s just a joy to watch people who are great at what they do.
The little odds and ends: how a competent pit crew can change four tires in less time than it takes me to dial AAA when I get a flat; the sculptural magic that can be pulled off with fondant; how gently and (seemingly) effortlessly 6’3” Warriors superstar Stephen Curry can toss up a rubber orange ball over the head of a 7’ defender and into a metal ring.
I have no intention of seeing the movie “Tomorrowland,” which Offender Anderson wrote about recently, but it does provide me the thinnest of pretexts to gush about the amusement park which inspired it.
I love Disneyland. Love it. It’s one of the few places where, without drinking alcohol or boarding a plane, I really feel like I can escape. Read more...
I’ve known Erik since seventh grade. That is to say, I’ve known him longer than I’ve not known him. Which is to say, when we first met, we were younger than our own children are today. In other words, he has been my best friend for 33 years.
And I just found out for the first time last week that he also happens to be a superhero.