“Freedom Penis with Light Beams”
-Iris Vander Pluym, 2013
Inspired. And inspiring.
September 5th, 2013, Raleigh, NC – As Walmart workers petition managers to reinstate employees who have been unfairly treated, a flash mob breaks out.
I signed in just to recommend this. It is one of the most important diaries I have seen on dailyKos because it shows that individuals are beginning to understand and use the Internet for their own rights. It makes me much more confident about 2014.
Just a note about whether this is a flash mob or a step show. They are NOT mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact flash mobs almost always have a purpose whether a Michael Jackson dance or playing Beethoven’s 7th. What a flash mob is when people interconnect using the Internet to engage in some function at a specific place and time for a specific period. The people arrive confident they will be joined by other members of the event, but not knowing for sure who is going to be there. At the agree upon time the flash mob comes together in the chosen venue, it performs their event, and then it quickly disperses.
What this will do in protest if it is used like it was used here is completely take away the power of the militarized police. The mob quickly makes its point and then disperses into the air before the police can arrive and arrest anybody. The events need to be both entertaining and focused to be effective, but they can be more effective than long term occupations. I am hoping this is the direction Occupy Wall Street goes. When police arrive in all their regalia they are left staring at empty space.
This, my beloved Loyal Readers™, is civil disobedience of the most excellent kind.
New York City has a great tradition of flashmobs: often they are just for fun and entertainment, but flashmob protests of a political nature are not uncommon (e.g. Occupy deployed them). I would very much love to see the use of this tactic expanded. For one thing, I think if the phenomenon really took hold it could turn out to be something of a prophylactic against aggrieved mobs turning violent instead. It doesn’t need to be a tightly choreographed event like the Walmart protest: ordinary people can participate in something simpler that requires only showing up, and perhaps holding a sign or note. If (when?) people show up in big enough numbers, at the very least we can all enjoy the spectacle of watching America’s Owners and their goons in government and major media piss themselves. Maybe they’d even throw us a table scrap. Or, possibly, two!
May our revolution be remembered for its joyous dancing, clapping, singing, chanting and stepping. Otherwise, the terrorists win.
I take a lot of pictures with my iPhone, but I rarely end up doing anything with them. Taking a picture or five has become more of a ritual to mark a moment for myself, an acknowledgment of the here-and-now, than it is anything else. Once in a while, I will flip through them and be reminded of those moments and the reasons I wanted to capture them in the first place. Individually, they are scattershot, disjointed and unconnected. Taken as a whole, however, what comes across I think is not only a portrait of my life, but how I feel about it.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but just FYI I am still in love with New York City. It has changed over the years since I moved here; indeed it is in constant flux. It has also changed me (I would like to think for the better). Here are reasons 7,951 through 7,963 why I love my home.
Drinks with friends at Grand Central.
Waiting for a late train to take her upstate after dinner, we went for the rosé champagne because…OMFG rosé champagne.
No joke, people. It’s a beautiful building, inside and out. It makes me feel like I’ve time-traveled back to a century ago. (That’s the Chrysler Building on the right.)
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop.
Does your town have a Big Gay Ice Cream Shop? With a sparkepony unicorn licking a rainbow ice cream cone for its logo? NO I DON’T THINK SO.
Thrift shop finds.
As we are a full-service Palace, we are of course always on the lookout for exciting new thrones. This one is lovely, but doesn’t quite work with our color palette.
We ended up buying these shorts instead. As you can see, they are badass.
World class cocktails.
These vodka martinis were made by my friend Claiborne at Left Bank. Just tell him “Broken Shed, dry, up, with a twist.”
World class desserts.
Traditional Italian desserts at Gaetanas (from foreground to background): ricotta cheesecake made daily from the owner’s mom’s recipe, pistachio tartufo and canolli. The bartender is my friend Dick, a Shakespearean actor who is at least as sweet as anything he’s serving.
Hotties. ‘Swut I’m sayin’.
Lush, quiet sanctuaries abound, if you know where to look for them. This garden is at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, just off of Hudson Street. Plenty of benches, no cell phone chatter allowed.
This is Mian Ayyub, a cab driver. When *someone* left her iPhone in his cab, he brought it back to the West Village from the Upper East Side where his next fare had taken him—and would not accept money for his time and trouble.
Matilda the Musical.
I am not a big fan of Broadway generally, nor musical theatre particularly. But I have seen this show three times now—and I’d go again. It’s based on the brilliantly subversive book by Roald Dahl, with music and lyrics by Palace fave Tim Minchin.
I don’t know why I like them. They make for a rough ride in a cab, and at crosswalks they’re tough on your feet, especially in heels. (Cobblestone streets are a major reason why I do not even wear heels anymore, unless there is door-to-door round-trip transportation via car.) I just…I like ‘em, okay?
Sometimes natural beauty catches me unaware, and it’s all the more breathtaking for its juxtaposition with the city that frames it.
It’s been quiet on the posting front while the Palace has been entertaining family members: two teenage girls. They are, of course, amazing people and I am thoroughly enjoying my time with them. As we share significant DNA it should not be all that surprising that some of their interests and mine overlap, e.g. food, music, theatre, urban hiking, high-end pedicures, ignoring everyone while riveted to an iPhone, staying up late watching movies and sleeping in. It should be equally unsurprising that some of their interests and mine do not, in fact, overlap (see “teenage girls”). This manifests itself in numerous ways, the most egregious example of which can be summed up in one word: Macy’s.
This is my own (un)doing, really. On a previous visit, they had been looking for shoes (and other items that apparently pass for “clothing” among The Kids These Days™). As savvy New Yorkers know, whenever new women’s shoes are required, one proceeds directly to the main shoe floor at Macy’s 34th Street. However, and I cannot stress this enough, this proceeding MUST be undertaken under the most stringent of protocols:
1. Find out what time Macy’s opens tomorrow, and set your alarm accordingly.
2. Roll out of bed, dress, brush your teeth, eat a quick breakfast, gulp down some coffee and transport yourself to the vicinity of 34th Street and Broadway, timing your arrival — and this is key, people — to fifteen minutes after the doors open*. You will thereby be exposed to the smallest number of tourists, the shortest wait times for service and maximum available stock.
3. Go directly to the new shoe floor on 2. Do not be distracted by any objects on 1.
4. Select shoes. This may take significantly longer than anticipated, given that the new shoe floor on 2 is, like its esteemed predecessor on 5, a sprawling affair that takes up an entire floor of an entire building.
5. Interact with a helpful sales worker to determine the availability of selected shoes in the desired size and color(s). Repeat step 4 if necessary.
6. Pay at the register.
7. GTFO! ASAP! Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit!
7. Immediately celebrate your successful mission with a cocktail. You deserve it.
These strict protocols also apply to shopping for jeans, lingerie, dresses and other items that apparently pass for “clothing” among The Kids These Days™.
Now, when I had originally suggested to these teens that we hit Macy’s for shoes etc., they were disappointed. “Macy’s,” to them, represented a badly lit store in their local mall with a limited shoe department that catered to “old ladies.” (*ahem* I resemble that remark…) I insisted that they humor me, so off we went the next morning to Macy’s 34th Street and what would ultimately turn out to be the Greatest Ever Shopping Extravaganza Ever In History Ever. We were to attempt to repeat this legendary feat on Tuesday, and they were quite enthusiastic. QUITE. Until, of course, it came time to execute Step 2. When the doors open at 9:00 am, sleeping until 11:30am does not bode well for a successful mission. There were people ahead of us in the shoe department! No more size eights! Lines for fitting rooms! It was bloody awful. The entire ordeal lasted about three and a half hours, and required many, many cocktails afterward to recover.
But truth be told, I am enjoying this little break from following news events and social media so intensely, including yesterday’s FINAL SUPER IMPORTANT FEC FUNDRAISING DEADLINE! BOEHNER! PAUL RYAN! YOUR SUPPORTER RECORD: $0.00! OMFG!!!11!! Although I did flip a few bucks to Alan Grayson, because Alan Grayson is still awesome (“Eight months into the 113th Congress, Rep. Alan Grayson has passed more amendments than any other Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat or Republican.”)
And we could hardly fail to notice (a) the Bradley Manning verdict, (b) Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and has left Moscow airport, and (c) Glenn Greenwald & Co. at The Guardian revealed more classified information and documents about the NSA’s shenanigans yesterday morning, just before senior intelligence officials were about to
lie to testify before the Senate judiciary committee. Hahaha. Good one, Glenn. We are also relived to report that, with mostly minor exceptions, the PowerPoint slides released by The Guardian detailing an Orwellian program ripe for abuse called XKeyscore are not nearly as embarrassing as the PRISM slides.
Speaking of news: Patron Saint of the Palace PZ Myers ran our previous post, Casualties of War, as a guest post at Pharyngula, resulting in a serious uptick in our hit count this week. (Hello Horde! Meet my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™.) The comments on the thread are overwhelmingly complimentary, and led to some interesting discussions. Loyal Readers™ may recall that this is why we have a shrine to PZ Myers in the first place.
Finally, we have been busy with a major expansion of the Palace infrastructure, which I hope to reveal soon. But not soon enough, I’m afraid, for today we are off to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. In Times Square, fer chrissakes. Dawg help me.
*There are people who make it a point to arrive at Macy’s before the doors open, and cluster in unseemly throngs around said doors. Needless to say, you do not want to be anywhere near such people, and fifteen minutes usually gives them ample time to disperse.
The War on Drugs is not a war on drugs, at least not as that phrase is commonly understood in the English language. Assess the misery associated with the drug trade, and you would have to be on drugs yourself to believe the War on Drugs is anything other than a total, abject failure. From measures of public health, addiction rates, narco-terrorism, police corruption, gang violence, vast criminal networks spanning the globe to the inhumane prison-industrial complex here at home, the War on Drugs has made the world a far worse place.
Of course the U.S. government has long known that (a) military strategies do not work and may actually boost profits for drug traffickers, and (b) drug treatment is far cheaper and twenty-three times more effective than supply-side approaches. If the War on Drugs is such a spectacular failure in every respect, why would the feds continue to perpetrate it? The answer is that it is not a failure in every respect: the War on Drugs provides an excellent pretext for violent action by the U.S. and its client states in the Western hemisphere. Not in service to democracy, freedom and human rights, mind you—strictly for the benefit of elite U.S. business interests.
Since 1946, the U.S. Army has been training Latin American government and military officials at its School of the Americas (now WHINSEC) in “counterinsurgency,” for the purpose of suppressing leftist movements that might interfere with the unimpeded exploitation of natural resources by U.S.-based conglomerates. We helpfully trained these people in various torture techniques, civilian targeting, extrajudicial executions and extortion. We enthusiastically encouraged terrorism, sabotage, arresting people’s relatives and blackmail. We have engineered violent coups and murders to keep in power cooperative governments. We have deposed, assassinated and otherwise interfered with democratically elected officials and other leaders who exhibit the merest hint of socialism.
In recent decades in Colombia alone, the U.S.-trained army and its allied right-wing paramilitary groups have killed thousands upon thousands of union organizers, peasant and indigenous leaders, human rights workers, land reform activists, religious leaders, leftist politicians and their supporters. Some paramilitary leaders have attempted to “cleanse” Colombian society by murdering drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, petty criminals and the homeless. It’s true that some Colombian presidents have attempted to address the social, political and economic issues that the guerrillas claim are their grievances. But the United States government will not have any of that. With assistance from its allies in the Colombian political, economic and military elite, efforts at meaningful reform have all been thwarted. And so those pesky guerrillas—who have no love for the drug trade—will continue to strike back the only way they can: by blowing up oil pipelines. That is why there is a “War on Drugs” in Colombia.
Sound familiar? It should. The War on Terror works exactly the same way in the Middle East. That is, it doesn’t work, at least not for its stated purposes. No one seriously doubts that our policies create far more terrorists than we could ever capture or kill, or that we have long supported and armed some of the most brutal, tyrannical, anti-democratic and oppressive dictators in the region for the benefit of the world-warming, profit-pumping petroleum industry. Take a look at this nifty interactive map of Yemen, and then try to tell me with a straight face that we’re over there drone bombing Muslims to Keep Us Safe™ from terrorists, as opposed to, say, protecting a very cooperative Yemeni regime.
The War on Terror has led to profound changes in American society. The populace has meekly accepted the militarization of domestic police forces, the rise of a vast and insidious surveillance state and the erosion of constitutional rights and civil liberties, all in exchange for empty promises of safety. It’s long been clear that none of it works. Meanwhile, on the home front the War on Drugs has subjected generations of citizens to mass incarceration. More than two million people are behind bars in the U.S.: that is 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Prison populations have exploded since the 1980s, with the majority of the increase comprising low-level offenders, particularly drug offenders, and disproportionally black and Latino men who are no more likely to dabble in drugs than their white counterparts. What happened after the 1980s? The previous go-to excuse for invading, bombing and otherwise imposing our imperial will on other countries—the Cold War—had just collapsed, but the War on Drugs had already begun. Eventually, Osama bin Laden did America’s Owners a big favor, and the rest, as they say, is history. What could be a more perfect pretext than a “War on Terror”? Let’s invade Iraq for oil! We’ll just say Saddam’s in league with Al-Qaeda or something! The press?! Pfft. They’ll help us do it, bro.
This is not a Republican-Democrat thing. No matter which party is nominally in power, the U.S. government will use every tactic at its disposal keep the American left marginalized as effectively as the Colombians do. Obama saw to it that the Occupy movement was crushed. FBI, NYPD, State Police and other law enforcement agencies have long been infiltrating and monitoring groups opposed to U.S. economic policy, immigration policy, harmful trade agreements, union-busting and racial profiling. The feds are also interested in keeping tabs on anti-death penalty groups, labor organizers, those who support Palestinians or the Israel divestment campaign, and, unsurprisingly, anti-war groups. After all, how are we all going to be duped into the next War on Whatever if we have a formidable peace movement?
All of this is precisely what one would expect from a system of unbridled, imperialist capitalism constrained by neither law nor conscience. The System is the problem.
On Tuesday afternoon, I attended a rally at Union Square. It was the NYC kickoff for an “Abortion Rights Freedom Ride,” a cross country caravan organized by StopPatriarchy.org, with rallies planned along the route including places where some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws have been passed: Fargo, North Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; and Jackson, Mississippi. Take Mississippi, for example: since 2002 only a single clinic providing abortion services has been in operation. The state’s legislators and governors, who clearly have no other problems to attend to, have been very busy attempting to shut down that last remaining clinic by passing disingenuous laws purporting to protect women’s health. (As if anyone, anywhere, believes conservatives are concerned about anyone’s health. OMGLOL.) Not to be outdone, North Dakota—another state with only one remaining clinic—passed a ban on abortions after six weeks, a point at which many women have no idea they’re pregnant.
I had recently written a piece mentioning StopPatriarchy.org and their refreshingly plain language and savvy messaging: “Abortion on Demand Without Apology.” “Women are NOT incubators.” “Forced motherhood is female enslavement.” When their campaign started to gain attention, the liberal hand-wringing came right on cue. There were concerns, you see. This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be “too confrontational, too vociferous and may turn off people to the cause.” The activists will be viewed locally as “invading outsiders.” Mass political protest only “distracts from important court cases.” Besides, it’s better to “rely on officials channels of politics.”
Really. How’s that been working out? In the past three years, states have passed nearly 180 restrictions on abortion, and 2013 is already on track to record the second-highest number of abortion restrictions in a single year, ever.
And these concerns sounded familiar. Where had I heard this before? Oh, that’s right: from critics concerned about the Occupy movement, who in turn echoed nearly verbatim critics of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, and critics of the women’s suffrage movement before that. Quiet down, they said. Wait. Work with The System. Please. When has anything short of confrontational, vociferous, mass political protest ever yielded more than lip service or a few table scraps from The System?
America’s Owners do not care one whit about abortion rights, except insofar as the issue drives conservatives to the polls to elect their Republican servants or outrages liberals enough to elect their Democratic servants. Indeed, they have every reason to keep the War on Women raging.
This is why voting is not enough: the game is rigged. As Chris Hedges put it so succinctly, “There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.” Democrats have concern-trolled themselves right into irrelevance. They are The System. The System is the problem. The math is not hard.
I’ll leave you with something promising. There are people who get it. I met some of them at the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride rally.
Meet (L-R) Noche Diaz, Jamel Mims, and Carl Dix, members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and defendants in cases brought for nonviolent civil disobedience actions protesting the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk practices. To be honest, when they were first introduced I wondered why three d00ds would be speaking together at an abortion rights rally. It didn’t take long to find out: their explicit message was that if women, who make up half of humanity, are not free, then none of us are free. They spoke powerfully and eloquently about the oppression that they and their communities have faced—and linked it directly to the same source of oppression and exploitation that women, workers and millions of marginalized people face, here and abroad: The System.
The difficult part is predicting what will spark the revolution—and where we will end up after it’s all said and done. To have a shot a desirable outcome, we need more citizens to realize that we, too, are casualties of war.
I’ll see you in the streets.
The gay community has much to celebrate this year: the death of DOMA in the Supreme Court means that discrimination against gay citizens may no longer be codified in federal law. This single decision has many positive ripple effects, from immigration rights to inheritance benefits. A delicious side benefit, of course, is that it drives religious conservatives positively apoplectic. We approve of this very, very much.
Another effect seems to be the unusually raucous and jubilant crowd outside the Palace walls today at the annual pride parade. (The Palace is located near the very end of the parade route, where marchers disband and floats are dismantled and every bar stool in the vicinity becomes inaccessible to Palace denizens until some time tomorrow afternoon.) Before we could see or even hear the impending arrival of the Dykes on Bikes — the traditional lead off contingent — the enormous crowd was happily shouting, whistling, chanting and applauding. There hasn’t been a lull since, and it’s now going past three hours — and raining. Occasionally, the din is overwhelmed by house music blasting from a passing float, or by someone speaking over a very loud PA system. But overall, there is just the electrifying sound of joy ringing through the West Village, ringing in a new era of legal recognition for our gay brothers and sisters. Their hard work and that of their allies to bring this about should make us all proud as Americans.
The goal of equality is far from accomplished, but this country has just taken a big step in the right direction. I have to say, it brings a tear to my jaded eye.
HAPPY, HAPPY PRIDE.
Also: fuck you, conservatives. Every time you lose, this country gets a little bit better.
[TRIGGER WARNING: pictures of naked people on bicycles.]
Via email yesterday, longtime Loyal Reader™ born on the wrong continent gave the Palace a heads-up that it was World Naked Bike Ride day, which is apparently a Thing.
Ride is rain or shine!
No matter what the weather is WE RIDE
JUNE 8th SKIN RIDE a.k.a. HOT PANTS RIDE in SOLIDARITY with the WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE!
In solidarity with World Naked Bike Ride, wear your hottest, fiercest hot pants on this clothing optional extravaganza through the streets of New York.
Climate change is real (Thanks Obama!) and it ain’t getting any cooler out here. Get comfortable in our future climate and show some skin.
We love Short shorts! Mask up, pants down! As comfortable as you please.
Reclaim your body! Reclaim your streets! Reclaim your planet! Ride your bike! The Hot Pants Ride is a safer space for all bodies to ride free of harassment or pollutants in the physical or mental environment. To participate each rider is asked to respect that the liberation of bodies requires freedom, autonomy, and justice for all. This begins with joy and commitment to self-determination. And of course bikes!!!
What: An afternoon of fun, free community, and direct action, including a clothing-optional bike ride. We celebrate our bodies, celebrate cycling in NYC!
And all I can say is thank goodness for Mr. born’s alerting us. Otherwise we might have been puzzled, or possibly even perplexed, to catch a glimpse of this through the open air windows of a bar on Christopher Street:
NYPD escorts. I’m so glad they’re keeping a watchful eye on the naked bike terrorists.
Every year like clockwork Spring arrives, and the neighborhood trees bloom in floating clouds of white and pale pink blossoms. Hurricane Sandy knocked out a few prize specimens last fall, but for the most part young trees have already been planted to replace them.
The West Village is beautiful even in the dead of winter, mostly 19th century masonry and a few brick-&-glass monstrosities built before the neighborhood acquired official historic status. The zoning change made it exceedingly difficult to build anything out of character. But developers and architects with high-end pedigrees soon set their sights on the West Side Highway, along the Hudson River, heralding a new wave of modernism. The Richard Meier buildings were among the first to sprout; Barry Diller’s IAC building followed soon after. The new Whitney Museum by Renzo Piano is the latest: it is expected to be amazing, and also to send property values in West Chelsea rocketing from already astronomical orbits. I like modern architecture. I am especially enamored with Shigeru Ban’s Metal Shutter Houses. I just do not want to see all of the antique masonry, plaster walls, working fireplaces and tiny gardens buried under a blizzard of luxury condos.
But this post is not about that. It’s about Spring. In the West Village. And the extent to which its charms can be captured by Your Humble Monarch on her trusty iPhone.
Pics and pith below the fold.
The wind is howling, and this is the current view from the Palace windows:
Support for gay marriage hit a new high in a Washington Post-ABC poll:
The poll shows that 58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. Public attitudes toward gay marriage are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them.
YAY 4 GAY! That is remarkable progress in a decade. (Hey, maybe by 2023 women will be considered humans worthy of equality. A broad can dream, can’t she?) What is wrong with the 36 percent of holdouts? I’m guessing there’s a very big overlap with “religion,” but the report on the poll doesn’t say.
I am not posting about the Steubenville rape convictions. I’ve participated in other threads on this topic elsewhere: suffice it to say that the reaction to the verdict and the sentencing, particularly in the mainstream media but also among presumed allies, has been disappointing though alas, not surprising. (Also: triggering.) For example:
While reporting on the verdict and sentencing of the two Steubenville rapists, the CNN news personalities told us repeatedly how difficult it was to watch these boy’s lives being destroyed. How their crime will haunt them.
These criminals destroyed their own lives, when they decided to repeatedly rape an incapacitated girl. When they decided to film and share their horrific crime.
Not once did CNN mention the person whose life was most destroyed by their crime, who will also be haunted for life by their crime… their victim. The young girl who they violated and raped.
Not once while they discussed the pain and humiliation these vicious and cruel criminals now face, did they acknowledge that her life was also destroyed, by them. That she would have to carry around the pain, humiliation, self doubt and self loathing, the stigma of rape, for the rest of her life. Not once did the CNN pundits mention the pain and humiliation these criminals repeatedly inflicted on their victim.
While I emphatically disagree with the pronouncements that the victim’s life is “destroyed” and that she “would have to carry around the pain, humiliation, self doubt and self loathing, the stigma of rape, for the rest of her life” — those are assessments only she can make and they are by no means inevitable — I agree that CNN’s coverage of the verdict was inexcusable and deplorable. And CNN was hardly alone. Here’s a petition to CNN demanding an on-air apology if you are inclined to sign it.
***Before you comment here on this topic,
Shakesville’s Rape Culture 101 is required reading.***
This is one of the best online shops I’ve ever seen. I’ve ordered two hard copies of the catalog: one for myself, and one for longtime Loyal Reader™ nubs goodyear who will totally get it (and will hopefully never, ever send me anything from here). A small sampling of what’s on offer:
It turns out there are many emergency products for sale at this particular emporium, including items for emergencies I have never even thought of and would have preferred not to imagine, including Emergency Glow in the Dark Googly Eyes, Emergency Inflatable Rubber Chicken, Emergency Inflatable Toast, Emergency Meow Button, Emergency Santa Kit, Emergency Toilet Seat Covers (Okay, I totally get this. Where have you been all my life?!!), Emergency Underpants Dispenser, and — last but not least — Emergency Yodel Button.
There are also Pickle Gumballs and Pickle Lip Balm for all your pickle-flavor needs. Or, I don’t know, maybe you might consider just buying some actual fucking pickles?
I don’t watch American Idol, but someone posted this video from the show of contestant Candice Glover singing “I Who Have Nothing,” and I am in awe. Enjoy.
Via The Nation.
At least we have FREEDOM!!!11!!! Unlike those godless Communist Europeans.