Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin's "family values" and "feminism"

Here is audio from a radio appearance in which Palin laughs as a broadcaster refers to a colleague and cancer survivor as a "cancer" on Alaska, among other choice insults. 

This link from will give you the full story

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Case Closed.

You Can't Make This Sh#$% Up

No, this is not a still from a John Waters film, a B-52's video, or a do-it-yourself You Tube freaky animal fetish video. This ladies and gentlemen, is the GOP pick for the office of Vice President of the USA. At one point, perhaps due to illness, I began to wonder if this was a big joke played on us by The Colber Report or The Onion. Because Dan Quayle is Churchill, and elder statesman, by comparison. 

However, to the Fox crowd, the people who fill the stands at the televised mega-prechers' stadiums, the small-town gun-toting hunters (I grew up in the small town South with kids who were given their first gun to go "hunnin'" at the age of 5), people who are cool with using the N-word and fly the Confederate flag, this woman plays really well. So let's not get too cocky. My own Wal-Mart shopping, rabidly anti-choice mother who prays the rosary in front of abortion clinics, thinks this woman is the bomb. And she was none too excited by McCain, I can tell you. 

I am glad people are starting to ask about her family life. Usually the "family values" pols that instrumentalize their family history for political points are the first ones to go down for alleged "scandals" involving cheating spouses, porn habits, cruising for gay sex in airport bathrooms,s stealing from the taxpayers, abusing their political power (and we know Palin is under investigation for trying to get her brother-in-law fired) and the like. 

Personally, I find it very distasteful that she is using the fact that her son has a disability as a political talking point. When the child is older, how will he feel when he learns that his parents are taking credit for "not having aborted him"? Perhaps with his level of disability, he will never know, but his siblings surely do. And is anyone asking how she is taking care of the little guy? Because I am close to people who have kids with DS and can tell you that this is a FULL TIME job. The kids require constant rehabilitation type exercises as soon as they are born to develop their muscle tone, verbal abilities, reflexes and the like. They don't just learn how to walk, or even hold up their head, or roll in their crib automatically. And you can't just drop them off with the physical/speech/whatever therapist you need to be there yourself so you can learn the drill and reinforce at home later. In any case, the GOP misses the fact that the decision to terminate is a PRIVATE issue that is up to a woman to make. 

UPDATE: There are allegations swirling on the web that her fifth child is actually her teen-aged daughters. These accusations originate from Alaska and have been investigated by local press after locals noted several bizarre aspects of the pregnancy (These include that she never looked pregnant, that she gave a speech after her water broke, going into premature labor, and then flew 8 hours to Alaska, to be driven 45 min. so she could deliver in her town's little hospital, coincidentally, her daughter was pulled out of school for months due to "mono" but when last photographed, looked pregnant. Palin's office pulled photos of the Governor dating from the period when she was supposed to be pregnant, but did not look it, from the official website.)

UPDATE 2 Sept. 1: 
Here is a link to photos an aide posted of the Gov., looking pregnant. So the missing bump is found (unless these are from a previous pregnancy, but that seems very far-fetched)

However, Bristol, the 17 y.o. is pregnant NOW - no mention of the identity or age of the man who is now her fiance. Of course, this scandal will play well with the fanatics because they will think it's great that Palin forced her daughter to breed and to marry, ie. right her wrong.

But of course they miss it because under their administration, if McCain gets elected, they will have the power to nominate Supreme Court justices and this is serious if you care about choice and many other issues. We saw in the election that Gore won, how the Court shut the process down. We saw under Bush how the checks and balances system can be thwarted to undermine our constitution and promote surveillance of law abiding citizens at home and torture abroad. So head's up Hillary supporters: this ticket does not support equal pay for equal work, either. Palin is the typical "minority" beloved by the GOP - they are brought in as a token as long as they stand for things that harm others of their own race/gender/ethnicity. And for women, if McCain wins, it's Taliban time - the GOP version. 

Here She Is.........

Source of photos: TMZ

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain's VP Choice: Miss Alaska????

My anonymous poster has a very good sense of humor, see the comment below, and here is a photo of the Alaskan politician to which s/he refers. LoL!

McCain's VP Choice: Miss Alaska????

Mc Cain's VP pick. It is almost parodic. This hot tranny mess is the Gov. of Alaska. 

A runner up in the Miss Alaska pageant (and you can see her pageantry hair to the left, worn with what looks like a North Face fleece and white pearls, naturally!), where she won Miss Congeniality. And we can see why, since they called her "barracuda" during her school days due to her competitive sports demeanor. She is apparently pretty butch, since besides basketball she is also a life-time NRA member who loves to hunt and fish (see above). Besides the NRA, she belonged to the "Felllowship for Christian Athletes" and is part of "Feminists for Life." She is also a Creationist!!!! There are many cynical aspects to this. 

I can only hope that this "Feminists for Life" membership , along with her pageantry background,  will hopefully insult disgruntled female HRC supporters, who will see through this ploy. She has five kids, one is in the Army and one is a baby with Down's Syndrome. The Governor says she kept her son because she is against abortion. That's a great way to instrumentalize the child for political PR purposes.

Clearly, McCain wants to siphon off disgruntled racist, working class gun toting males (the "hard working" people HRC referred to) who were supporting the Senator. But if he is saying Obama has no experience, then why is he picking a 44 year old woman with ZERO experience? Lest we forget, McCain is the second-oldest Presidential candidate (the oldest was Reagan, and we now know that he had the onset of Alzheimer's during this second term).

It also seemed an incredibly cynical choice to me, when I read that her husband is a Native Alaskan (Eskimo) and works for the BP oil company! Clearly McCain is doing a balancing act to try to appeal to the racist right winger groups who love guns, oil, and Jesus as well as hate choice. But at the same time, he is obviously trying to attract moderate HRC supporters with the illusion of "change" and "equality" that this choice might suggest. But I wonder, will those people support a woman? Likewise, would they accept a Native Alaskan, if they were too racist to accept a bi-racial man? Well, here is my answer, I just googled her again and found that her husband is 1/8th Native Alaskan, so it's a non-issue. Here is a photo of the Governor posing with her husband Todd, and her baby (who has Down's), Trig.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28, 1963

The End is Near

Besides the second Bush administration, the second 90210, or the Miss Puerto Rico reality TV show, other signs that the End is near include the odd monster sightings in the past few months, including the Chuapacabra-like being that washed up on the shore in Long Island, we also have quite a few apparitions of the Almighty in everyday objects or living things (including tree trunks, cheetos, Mexican tortillas and the like).

The Cheejus, as it was baptized by the Missouri woman who found it in her Cheetos bag. I am waiting for the Nativity Scene Funnyon.

The latest is Jesus' face on the wings of a moth. Usually regarded as an ugly nuisance, the moth has now been elevated to sublime and sacred. I am hoping that the next sighting will take place on a lady's long acrylic nail...If anyone else finds a case of miraculous apparitions, send them in and I will post them!

We Lost A Hero Today

Del Martin (right) who fought for lesbian human rights, worked to overturn the definition of lesbianism as a psychiatric disorder and for many other righteous causes. She was only married to her partner of over 50 years for two months.

Del Martin, Lesbian Activist, Dies at 87

Published: August 27, 2008
Del Martin, who married her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, on June 16 in the first legal gay union in California and who helped found the pioneering lesbian-rights group the Daughters of Bilitis, died Wednesday in San Francisco. She was 87.

The cause was a broken arm that exacerbated her existing health problems, Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told The Associated Press.

The June wedding was not the couple’s first effort at legalizing their union. In February 2004, Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco challenged California’s marriage laws by announcing that the city would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who requested them. Of the more than 4,000 couples who married before the California Supreme Court intervened a month later, Ms. Martin and Ms. Lyon may have been the oldest, and were certainly first and the most celebrated.

That summer, though, the California Supreme Court invalidated all licenses for same-sex marriages, arguing that the mayor had exceeded his legal authority. Ms. Martin and Ms. Lyon were among the original plaintiffs in a series of lawsuits that led to the court’s declaring same-sex marriages legal this year.

Mr. Newsom invited the couple to be the first couple to marry under the new ruling. This they did, in San Francisco’s City Hall, after living together as a couple for more than half a century.

On Wednesday, Ms. Lyon, 83, said in a statement, “I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”

Ms. Martin was born Dorothy L. Taliaferro on May 5, 1921, in San Francisco. She studied journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco State College. At 19 she married James Martin, but the marriage ended in divorce four years later. Their daughter, Kendra Mon, survives, as do two grandchildren and Ms. Lyon.

While working for a construction trade journal in Seattle, Ms. Martin met Ms. Lyon, an employee at the same firm, and the two became romantically involved and entered into a permanent relationship in 1953. In 1955, having moved to San Francisco, they joined with six other women to found the Daughters of Bilitis, the first social and political organization for lesbians in the United States, which soon established branches around the country. The name was taken from “Songs of Bilitis,” a collection of lesbian love poems by Pierre Louys.

Ms. Martin was the organization’s first president, and from 1960 to 1962 she edited its newsletter, The Ladder, which Ms. Lyon had edited from its inception in 1956. The organization disbanded in 1970 as more radical lesbian groups came to the fore.

In 1964 Ms. Martin helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, which lobbied city government to end police harassment of gay men and lesbians and change discriminatory laws.

Ms. Martin is believed to have been the first openly gay woman to be elected to the board of directors of the National Organization for Women, where she agitated to put lesbian issues on the table. She was also an active member of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, which was founded in 1972 to support gay candidates in San Francisco.

In her later years, she was a member of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. In 1987 she earned a degree from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.

She wrote a book, “Battered Wives” (1976), and two others with Ms. Lyon, “Lesbian/Woman” (1972) and “Lesbian Love and Liberation” (1973).

Source - The New York Times

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

La Leti's nosejob part 2

Andy Warhol Before and After

The spread below is from HOLA! magazine's web site. Now they have really taken this to a whole new level. Not only does the Casa Real let EVERYONE know that Princess Letizia had a nose job, but now HOLA! it's virtual mouthpiece, the doyenne of Spanish gossip magazines, the Pravda of royalty news world-wide, actually promotes an on-line vote on the before and after shots! And this is fabulous for many reasons. First, unlike the times of Velazquez and Goya, when the royal family's physiognomy (hideous as it may have been) was the standard of beauty, as they were destined by God to rule, now we commoners can have an opinion! And that is partly because la Leti is a commoner, just like we are. Second, by asking us which of the two looks better, they slyly imply that the "official" explanation of a medical motive as untrue! So insubordinate.

If HOLA! doesn't toe the line, this means someone in the royal family is out for blood - la Leti's blood. This is as good as the libels against Marie Antoinette. And you know what happened to her. I am just saying. But they got what they asked for, he refused to marry an insipid royal relation, he went for the outspoken former TV anchorwoman, with a mother who is a union organizer, a suicidal sister, a taxi driver grandfather, divorced parents, the divorcee with a past and an apparent eating disorder. And she doesn't give him a male heir to boot! 

None of this should be a problem except for the fact that their whole institution is based on medieval notions of absolutism, religion, a sense of divine entitlement, inevitability, racist superiority, and right to plunder. So even though now they are allegedly a democratic institution, someone like la Leti must really rub them the wrong way.

Start the countdown to the Third Spanish Republic. I will be there waving the tricolor!

Guess what I voted? ________________________________

Doña Letizia se ha sometido a una septorrinoplastia para corregir una desviación del tabique nasal

Gracias por su voto.

6778 votos
5710 votos

La Princesa de Asturias se sometió hace dos semanas a una operación, por recomendación del servicio médico de la Casa del Rey, para corregir una desviación en el tabique nasal y mejorar así sus problemas respiratorios. Aunque aún es pronto para evaluar el resultado final -todavía tiene la nariz hinchada y habrá que esperar seis u ocho meses para que todo vuelva a su ser-, lo cierto es que doña Letizia luce una nariz más armónica que le ha dulcificado el rostro.

En queremos saber su opinión, mostrándoles un antes y un después de la intervención quirúrgica para que pueda apreciar el cambio. ¿Le gusta más la nueva imagen de la Princesa de Asturias?

Noticias relacionadas
La princesa Letizia se opera la nariz por recomendación médica

Massiel Wins Eurovision

It doesn't get better than this: my obsessions with pageantry, nationalism, propaganda and camp all rolled into one.

This is a clip from Franco's NO DO propaganda newsreels commemorating Massiel's victory for Spain in the Eurovision song contest. I believe I have written about this contest before here. It's closely followed by Europeans and has been a landmark in my own upbringing. Massiel was an opportunistic singer who took over for Joan Manuel Serrat when he was not allowed to sing his own song in Catalan. Franco refused to allow Spain to be represented by the "subversive" region's language. 

Massiel is now a bloated alcoholic who makes a fool of herself in gossip chat shows. One of my favorite anecdotes is when she allegedly fell reaching for a book in her home, and then posed full of bruises and bandages in hospital. 

The NO DO shows how Massiel was the spokesmodel for the Spanish FIAT knock-off, the SEAT (we had one when I was a kid, those cars were the bomb) so she was promoting Franco's resurgent industrial production, and then you will see her on the government TV station TVE singing the song with a tuna accompaniment. The latter another tourist kitsch cliche - the tuna singers are strolling musicians associated with universities but they became a staple in restaurants aimed at tourists near the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, and other sites. 

Finally, the narrator proudly announces that the song was a backdrop in the Miss Germany Pageant. The best is when the announcer notes that an innovation that year was the requirement that the winner be "smart" as well as beautiful. Awesome. 

Watch for the cameo appearance by famous Spanish film and TV director Pilar Miro, as an Eurovision judge. This is particularly ironic since it's one of many cases where the NO DO or print media reveal that politically progressive icons from the Transition to Democracy and more recent years collaborated with the regime in one form or another. 

Riita Immonen - Marimekko designer

  Photo: Marimekko

New York Times
Riitta Immonen, a Founder of the Marimekko Textile Company, Dies at 90
Published: August 27, 2008
Ms. Immonen was a designer of uniforms and ready to wear with a couture touch.
For the full obituary, cut and paste this to your browser:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pant Suits

This is a first for me, I actually found myself really being convinced by a Hillary Rodham Clinton speech. She finally graciously accepted that Obama was selected by the majority of us, and she finally graciously and convincingly asked Democrats to vote for our candidate. Yes, she did go into a long discussion of her platform but then she explained that it is OUR platform, and that the option is to vote for McCain which equals more of the Bush policies. I have no idea if her most enthusiastic supporters will be swayed, but if that speech doesn't do it, nothing will. So with relief I think that we can win, because that speech was good enough to persuade most of the most ardent HRC backers to vote for Obama. 

It was a contrast to last night's speech by Michelle Obama. As my friend noted, Obama had to domesticate herself. And it's true, she framed herself as daughter, sister, mother, wife, never as just herself. Ironically, in my opinion, tonight was Hillary R. Clinton's most overtly feminist speech (and she even had a shout out to us queers). I liked the ways she made reference to the ways in which gender and race intersect in the struggle for social justice. But we all remember the times when HRC had to talk about baking cookies, or stand by her philandering husband, and shed some tears when she was tanking in the primaries. So did another very smart, strong and accomplished woman have to present herself as "non-threatening." 

A commentator on MSNBC used the telling term "rehabilitate" as in Michelle Obama needed to somehow defend herself and clear her record. Rehabilitate herself for what? She is not a criminal, is she? What exactly is her transgression? That she is a woman, her husband's senior when they started dating, strong and accomplished? Or is it that she is all of those things and also African American? Why is it a problem that she lives in a nice house but no one asks about the McCain or Bush family fortune? Because she is black? All of the sexist and racist stereotypes are implicitly deployed against her: the angry Black woman, uppity, shrill, domineering. Another friend commented on the Jackie Kennedy hair and the sleek dress (which was a bit Oleg Cassini-ish now that I think of it). And she even had the softer Jackie tone of voice and the bed time story refrain "See......" 

Yet another friend wondered why she did not use the repeated refrain rhetorical modality in the speech. I told her because that form is too strongly marked as "African American" and religious. So instead she used the self-effacing, halting and conspiratorial intimate story-telling style "You see....." Like Jackie giving the White House Tour on television. Anecdotal. And she herself, anecdotal to the primary story being told. Probably because of this strategic self-effacement, if they are sent to the White House, she might be better liked as First Lady than HRC. I have no doubt that like HRC, she is just as smart and capable as her husband, if not more so, and could just as easily have been running for political office herself. 

I found it fascinating given last night's Kennedy tribute, that it seemed like another political dynasty was being presented - the Clintons. Even if HRC didn't make it to the White House as President, the subtext seemed to read, Chelsea would run in the future. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

La Leti's Rhinoplasty

For the royal families of Europe, it's been a busy news week. Usually this is a slow time, because they are at beaches in Ibiza, Mallorca or Monte Carlo, or else in Kenya on safari. Sadly the horrific plane crash in Madrid cut the trips to Mallorca or the Beijing Olympics short. And the terrible car crash of the Bulgarian "prince" Kardam and his Spanish wife Miriam also has put a damper on things. The big news however is that Casa Real has sent out a statement announcing that Princess Royal Letizia had a nose job. Now they use some technical-sounding name to explain that it's a medical procedure only, but let's keep it real, that big bump is gone from her wizened anorexic-seeming face. I find it fascinating that again the Casa Real does not have her back. Because when Queen Sofia allegedly had work done (face lift), ditto Infanta Cristina (nose job), and the King looked rather "refreshed" nobody admitted anything. And when Queen Sofia's mother as it is rumored, died from complications related to plastic surgery, they sure did not cop to that, either. Why then are they doing this to Leti? Not that I am a fan. And frankly, the more these people become like vulgar celebs the better, perhaps then Spaniards will realize that they are not divinely endowed to rule and finally we'll have a republic!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Miss Puerto Rico Universe Reality TV Show

I was traveling so I somehow missed two major cultural events: first, that Puerto Rico's WAPA TV is now airing beyond the Island on cable, so I will be able to enjoy the bad taste and bootleg production value from my living room in the so-called Mainland. Second, the Miss Puerto Rico Universe organization had the brilliant idea of launching a reality TV series following the contestants "behind the scenes" (never was there a more apt phrase....) and allowing the viewers to vote for the Miss that will represent us. 

Given the fact that this is one of the few arenas of national sovereignty (along with the Olympic Games) this is a matter of utmost importance and international repercussions. Let's remember that we have five Miss Universe crowns (tied with Venezuela):

Zuleyka Rivera (2006), Marisol Maralet (1970), Deborah Carthy Deu (1985), Dayanara Torres (1993) and Denise Quiñones (2001).

For an article about this reality TV show, cut and paste this URL to your browser:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mass Festivals, the Miss Universe Paradigm, and more!

I have been thinking about the awe-inspiring Olympic Games Opening Ceremony for days, trying to process all of its spectacle and content, but a trip to our nation's Capital delayed my writing. I was there appropriately enough, for something called a Flag Ceremony, where new Foreign Service diplomats are told of their first post. A flag is held up, and then a name is called. Of course, I immediately thought of The Bachelor: Destiny, will you accept this rose? But Miss Universe is more apt, especially when they announced an award to the person his/her colleagues judged best embodied the spirit of service. Miss Congeniality, anyone? In fact, more and more I am believing that almost anything might be explained by drawing a parallel with the Miss Universe Pageant - the Miss Universe Paradigm. I was anxious about going to the inner sanctum of our nation's State Department, even more so when I saw the photo of Condi on the wall - that hair is more heavily reinforced than Baghdad. And fortunately, my dear friend got a nice post, where I intend to visit him. Although I was not strip-searched nor were my irises scanned, I did get a special badge that read "Escort Required." Indeed. It was as if they'd read my mind! The question is: after all my tax dollars, can they make it happen? 

A few days earlier, and keeping with the international relations topic, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the Opening Ceremony. Most of it was spectacularly beautiful. One of my favorite sections was about the origin of calligraphy and scroll painting, where dancers imprinted the page with their movements. (above). The very helpful commentator on NBC explained that Zhang Yimou intended to highlight key events in Chinese history, cultural and scientific innovations, and three great philosophies - Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. I wondered, where was Maoism? But that was, as the commentator himself explained, excised from this ideal "We are the World" version of international brotherhood, led by a resurgent China. 

However, despite my almost non-existent knowledge of Maoist culture, except that transmitted by a friend who is an expert on this period's propaganda, I immediately began to make comparisons, especially to Cultural Revolution period visual culture. (below)

Such mass spectacles, also of course were a modality employed by dictatorships in other countries. 

And there were certainly moments as below, where I could not help but see in my mind's eye frames from Leni Reifenstahl's propaganda film about the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, "Triumph of the Will."

2008 Olympics

2008 Olympics

1936 Nazi Olympics

And moments like this, when the man-savior-athlete-ideal Chinese worker held the boy-savior-future athlete-model student (the little boy who saved his schoolmates in the rubble of the Sichuan earthquake) made me think of New Year's posters' robust infants or of images of a smiling, benevolent Mao with his subjects, the future of Communist China. (below)

And the lovely Bollywood meets 1930s musicals scenes, such as the one below, also reminded me of something just as lovely and captivating but more sinister.......

Cultural Revolution Model Operas.

And for an up-to-date version of Communist mass spectacles, complete with the hand-made L-E-D-like imagery (people moving panels or their own bodies en masse to create moving imagery akin to film), see below, from North Korea (2007). Perhaps this most resembles the 2008 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bad Baby Names

I just found a gold mine of bad baby names on the MSNBC web site. They cite a new book, called "Bad Baby Names," and that clearly belongs on my bookshelf:

In “Bad Baby Names,” Michael Sherrod and Matthew Rayback, of the genealogy Web site, share thousands of shocking names given to real people, as recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Discover the funny names based around common themes, like diseases (Fever Bender, Cholera Peace), food (Bread White, Pomegranate Purple), pets (Good Dog), and if you thought Wednesday Addams was unfortunate—wait till you meet Monday Monday. (...) 

Then they have a section of reader submissions:
A cousin of a friend of mine named her daughter Tyranny. My uncle (a police officer) locked up a woman named Sh*thead, only without the asterisk- pronounced Shi-TAYd.--Anonymous, Baltimore, MI

Cut and paste the URL below to your browser to see more:

Recently I seem to be in need of such books since so many of my friends are having babies, which is thrilling for me since I love to see them happy, I get to dress the kids in cute outfits, but I don't have to change diapers. 

Now I am as usual when confronted with these campy monikers, considering legally changing my name to "Hysteria Johnson," or perhaps "Lust Garden," 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer Fashion Obsessions

Although I am not what one would call a sports fan, unless you count Miss Universe as a sport, I found plenty of interest at the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies. The ceremonies themselves require their own post, but I will have to leave time for that later. Although it pains me to say this, I think France was the most elegant country, along with Ghana, whose uniforms for some reason are impossible to find on the internet. Ditto Palestine, whose outfits were made of the same cloths they wear as scarves or head-dresses, fierce! Going for that retro Chariots of Fire, summer in Cannes look, the French kept cool in the humid miserable heat while looking fresh and stylish.

Turkmenistan gets my vote if only for their originanlity, I especially loved the olive/chartreuse-y color and the fact that the ruler of their country designed the outfits. As my friend put it, the people of the 'Stans are the Puerto Ricans of Europe- they love color!

The Russians looked like stewards/stewardesses at a used car convention in Iowa. 

I love my country and yet find it hard to defend the red and yellow uniforms they wore. Of course, we are hampered by the awkward colors of our flag, but given the amazing designers we have, such as Adolfo Dominguez, we could have come up with something better than a 1980s airline stewardess look. 

Canada, my favorite North American country, why did you fail us? Is it because for 3/4 of the year your citizens are clad in long underwear, shapeless wool garments, and coats that resemble down blankets? Thus, you have little experience in selecting actual clothes? I can forgive you. But just this once.

Team USA. Ralph Lauren fucks up yet again in his unstinting effort to pursue his WASP mimicry. As many have commented, these clothes look cheaply made. The fabrication appears to be polyester blend of some sort. The little caps look very old Puerto Rican man circa 1978, not that there's anything wrong with that, but it doesn't really match with the uber-Hamptons look I think he was trying to achieve. The Polo logo, which seems to be getting larger and larger, much like US citizens' waists, overshadows the Olympic logo. Apparently he was going for a "Chariots of Fire" retro look. France succeeded and Polo failed (see above). 

And now for something completely different (but related? since we are talking about "national uniforms"): a shop called Zachary's Smile has rolled out a series of dresses fabricated from Ivory Coast textiles. I first noticed them at Anthropologie, for 298$. Soon, I became obsessed by the 1960s tailoring with the colorful intricate designs, the girly flounces with the vibrant and strong patterns, the Europe meets Africa combination, the exquisite tailoring. Finally, I tried one on. Big mistake. Miraculously tailored to fit an hourglass figure, the dress looked like it was custom-made. I have been stalking Antrhopologie, calling each week to see if they are on sale. Finally, I found the store that makes them, Zachary's Smile. They were extremely friendly and told me that they do Lay-Away, a practice I associated with sectional sofas and flat-screen TV's, and that they have a whole shipment of Winter clothing also in the Cote d'Ivoire fabrics. 

Then I began reading blog posts critiquing the line for promoting Western appropriation of African looks, similarly to those of us that wear Mandarin collar shirts, Chinoiserie prints or Quipaos (guilty, guilty, and guilty as charged). Would I feel offended if I saw White people wearing guayaberas? Flamenco dresses? Manila shawls? I admit a certain smug disdain might rear its ugly head - so am I a hyppocrite? Is there room to admire another culture's aesthetics without being labeled an exoticizing appropriator? Is it OK for me to wear clothing made from African textiles since I am not quite White? Would it be OK if it was an African-descent designer selling these gorgeous things to us in the USA? What about the mark-up? How much of the profits are the amazing tailors getting? One of the joys of traveling is getting clothes from other countries, my Spanish friends come here and buy GAP jeans, I buy Adolfo Dominguez. On the creepy globalization front, I have heard that places like the Salvation Army sell the surplus donations we give here in the US to African countries, so you see people over there wearing tees that say "Naples High School Cheerleading Squad."

Political-angst aside, these are probably the loveliest dresses I have ever seen, and I may just go over there and sign up for my very first Lay-away transaction!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Groovin' pandas

If you go to international and then find the videos, you must search for the phrase "groovin' pandas." There you will find a video of children dressed as one of the Olympic mascots, the panda, doing a dance that is a hybrid of hip hop and Tai chi. Intended to be cute and impressive as a spectacle, as one friend noted the outfits are ill-fitting and appear to be made of cheap polyester. There is a sinister tinge to the zoomorphic dancers, something disturbingly grotesque along the lines of Matthew Barney, surely un-intended. 

I believe this footage was of a rehearsal for Friday's Opening Ceremonies, and all I can say is, I am counting the hours, minutes and seconds until they take place so that I can see the entire thing. 

Since I saw the video on CNN International a couple of days ago, I've watched this kitsch spectacle- over and over again. The night it was aired they ran it a couple of times and the news casters had some of the inflatable plastic versions of the mascots as well, of course they were laughing about this whole aspect of Olympics 2008 Visual Culture (as my genius friend calls it). And someone in the CNN editing booth must love the tape as much as me because they ran it again, tonight as the backdrop for the credits when the World News ended.

Hopefully, it's not just the pandas and at the Opening Ceremonies they will incorporate all of them.

According to one article in the Los Angeles Times blog, "The blue fuwa, Beibei, for example, is female, gentle and pure in personality. She was inspired by the traditional Chinese New Year depiction of lotus and fish and represents prosperity and the aquatic sports. Jingjing, a giant panda, is male, honest and optimistic, and represents happiness, weightlifting and judo -- though not necessarily in that order. The red fuwa Huanhuan, inspired by the Olympic flame, is a male extrovert whose ideal is passion and who represents the ball sports. Yingying, the yellow fuwa, is a male Tibetan antelope who is lively and vivacious and represents health and track and field." 

(article URL -

The Tibetan antelope mascot is also quite sinister, they enshrine a little animal symbol of the region as part of China, and the gendering of these mascots surely deserves much study. But I am not equipped to deconstruct the cultural symbolism of this manifestation of Olympic Visual Culture, I defer to my brilliant friends, who hopefully might comment on this post.

Who would have thought to create a hybrid choreography - part hip hop, part tai-chi, part cheer leading, and part Rockettes? I think I need say no more. Fabulous.

Here is the URL

Friday, August 1, 2008

Princess Chunk

It's a long hot summer in New York City. The news is focusing either on the Olympics or on the Campaign, two seemingly endless national competitions. Yet New York and all of the US is obsessed by the World's Largest Cat, a 44 lb. beauty abandoned and christened "Princess Chunk" by her keepers. No one can talk about anything else. There are two elements that make the story even more topical. In a Summer when citizens were perplexed by the story of the transman who bore a child, and outraged by the wave of foreclosures while the US government bailed out big banks, lenders, and corporations, this cat's gender was mis-identified and the abandonment was due to the owner's foreclosed home. 

This story has elicited a sense of shared neighborly commonality -- the NYPOST even has a photo gallery submitted by readers of their own zaftig felines. I have to say that is has made me laugh harder than anything in a LONG time. Do NOT miss these photo galleries, disturbing as they are. I know, I know, people are starving and in the USA, pets are obese like many North Americans. But for once, let's surrender to these adorable animals and their perverse owners' naming practices. Of course all 3 readers of this blog know about my obsession with "unusual" names, and here is new horizon: pets! 


For the link to the NYPOST story including links to video of local news coverage and the FABULOUS reader submitted fat cat galleries, copy this to your browser: