“Color or class do not define people or politics.” —Rosario Morales
What is Classism?
Stigmatizing poor and working class people and their cultures and assigning high status to the affluent and their culture solely because of their relative wealth.
(Race & Culture Text Book)
Cultural/Regional Uppercrust Savvy Test (CRUST)
1. When you are "posted" at the country club,
a. you ride horses with skill.
b. you are elected to the governance board.
c. you are publicly announced as not having paid your dues.
d. a table is reserved for you in the dining room whether you use it or not.
2. An arabesque in ballet is
a. an intricate leap.
b. a posture in which the dancer stands on one leg, the other extended backwards.
c. a series of step performed by a male and female dancer.
d. a bow similar to a curtsy.
3. The Blue Book is
a. the income tax guidelines.
b. a guide to pricing used cars.
c. a booklet used for writing essay exams.
d. a social register listing 400 prominent families.
4. Brookline is located
a. in suburban Boston.
b. on Cape Cod.
c. between Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
d. On the north shore of Chicago
5. Beef Wellington is
a. the king’s cut of roast beef.
b. beef tenderloin in a pasty crust lined with paste.
c. an hor d’oeurve flavored with sherry.
d. roast beef with Bearnaise suace.
6. Choate is
a. a gelded colt used in fox hunts.
b. a prep school.
c. an imported brandy
d. the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
7. The most formal dress for men is
a. white tie.
b. black tie.
8. The Stranger is
a. the black family who moves into the neighborhood.
b. Howard Hughes.
c. a book by Camus.
d. an elegant restaurant in San Francisco.
9. Waterford is
a. a health spa for the jet set.
b. a "fat farm".
c. hand-cut crystal from Ireland.
d. the Rockefeller family estate in upper New York.
10. Dining "alfresco" means
a. by candlelight.
b. a buffet supper.
c. at a sidewalk cafe.
Answer Key to the Cultural/Regional Uppercrust Savvy Test (CRUST) below.
is the radio station that doesn't air Howard Stern in my town.
The old cats called her Bluebird, and though I never exactly knew why, I didn’t not
know why either. What I knew was it wasn’t a derogatory reference. I think her birth name might’ve been Lacy, and that would figure. It fit.
When I met her they told me she had a cop boyfriend who treated her like most cops treat their women. ‘You know how they do,’ they said. I didn’t really know that, either, but I imagined it was pretty much how they treat everyone else.
She was luminous motion, and the old cats shook their heads and smiled when she passed. It was like they couldn’t believe their good fortune. Or they were ashamed about what they were thinking. All the ways to treat a lady like Bluebird.
Birds and hands and bushes.
Young fella, they told me, that’s the kinda bird you don’t try to cage, there. Ain’t a man around who’s gonna catch that one. Even Mr. Charlie don’t know what he have with that one, there.
It was a neat signature, they way they finished their observations with there
You know what I’m saying, there?
These guys used to watch the TV hanging off the wall, and they loved to sing out in their Calabama accents about the white man who had the blues because he had nothing to worry about. You could see the pain as their shoulders gently bounced with laughter.
Bluebird, Bluebird, Bluebird.
Chaos and fate and all that high-falutin’ theory seems out of this world until it happens to you, doesn’t it? Like deciding to stop by late to see if you could catch the end of the Padres-Diamondbacks game. And getting there and finding out the Padres left Arizona the day before. And Bluebird knowing that you didn’t need a Padres game to keep you there.
And after a couple she asked if you’d linger while she closed up. The old cats were long gone, and some kids were playing pool under the Budweiser lamp. You saw them at the jukebox, and you tried to remember if it’s government policy to issue that Steve Miller compilation when you turn 18.
That’s for looking out, Bluebird said as she left my third in front of me. Stronger than the rest, and it crossed my mind to not lose my edge.
She closed the door with a smile as the drunken kids piled into a car. ‘Night, boys, she said to herself.
It’d been years since I’d been in a place after hours, even though it wasn’t technically “after hours.” It was with another blue bird, an Irish girl named Sara who couldn’t forget fast enough. I tried to remember the last I heard of her.
Bluebird opened a bottle of beer and lit a cigarette.
Working at the till, she turned to face me. I wondered how she and I’d have done as kids, when we didn’t know any better, and I thought of all the stops we’d made on becoming ourselves.
You don’t say a whole hell of a lot, Joe, she told me.
It doesn’t mean I’m not thinkin’ it.
She considered that for a moment, drank out of the beer bottle and closed the register drawer. The neon light in the window poured over the darkened pool table. The smoke from her cigarette was like Aqua Velva.
No, I suppose you’re right, she answered. You know it gets in here, though. Men and their fishing tales.
It’s in our genes. We watch our fathers do it, and they model the behavior for us.
It wasn’t more than I’d said to her since I’d been going in there, but it was close. But she had me in there after kicking out the other folks, so I didn’t really think much of it at the time.
You realize things about women as you get older, and you think you understand them a little bit better. At a certain age you realize only red nail polish makes sense. You come around to the idea that maybe all pairs of jeans are not the same. You start to grasp the burden of what it is to be a woman, and you try not to add to it. When possible, you help alleviate it.
I think I have some wine at my place, I said. I could make you a little plate of food.
She closed her pursebag and slung it over her shoulder. She began to smile as she took her hair out of the ponytail and put it right back up.
Will you hold it against me if I snore? She asked.
For a moment I thought of a variety of responses, but I went with, Not at all.
Quite the gentleman, she said.
Housebroken, too, I said. I’ve known good women.
Is that so?
She moved around the edge of the bar, leaned in and asked me if I was ready for my close-up.
More than ever, I was.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"
Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd took their name from a high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner, who wasn't fond of longhaired male students.
In the shower of your home, you can hear the thudding bass from the wet street outside. It’s why you still live in the city, and why those who don’t’ll never get it. Your friend outside of town tells you that the bass from his neighbor’s stereo causes his coffee table to bounce off the floor.
But that’s just annoying, and they have that in the city, too.
The hot water keeps running like only a Saturday night shower can. The steams peels off as the water splashes into the drain. Your feet swell in the vapor. It’s at the point in the shower where you know it’s getting wasteful, and you think about the concept of conscience and accountability.
You think, screw it, I don’t have to pay the water bill – or do you.
She wouldn’t like it if she knew you gave one of the dogs a single pretzel, not because of any other reason than you always say how dog food is for dogs and people food is for people. You wanna feed the dog pretzels, then you shouldn’t make such pronunciamentos.
So you don’t anymore, and it’s not a big betrayal if one of the dogs gets a single little pretzel. You didn’t give one to both of them.
The bass goes by again outside, and you think about the trouble in the Caribbean.
They pronounce it 80. So close, yet so dark, it seems.
Remember how the African herbsman told you about how Duppy and the rest of them went about upsetting in Trenchtown. They took you to a library afterward, learned you all about the Caribbean, and that’s how you came to understand why know one wants talk about it now.
They’re upsetting in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Another one of those great wet lands “discovered” by Columbus. It’s said that the Spaniards who followed annihilated the natives. Manifest destiny or something. A port of call for the Black Star shipping line.
Hit me with music.
Forget that and enjoy the bliss of the shower. The dogs are asleep in front of the heater – well, the more delicate of the two is.
Turn off the water and towel off. The advertising machine prattles on about the new taxpayer-funded stadium in town. Unlike any other they say.
Your favorite Padres have come out of mothballs to shill for the billionaire owner. Winfield, Gwynn.
And now they have the big man from Ocean Beach, David Wells.
It’s been a while since your last big one, but you’d get drunk with him. Tell him anywhere but OB, and you got a deal.
After a one-and-one, you could tell him the time you covered the story of his drunken street fight after last call. Not the one in New York, you’d clarify, the one right there in OB.
He’d laugh, slap you on the back with the force of a 260-pound man and tell you that boys’ll be boys. He’d go to the jukebox and play all of Beggars Banquet
He’d tell you that’s him, a beggar at the banquet.
Then “Street Fighting Man” comes on and the upsetting in the streets starts all over again.
In Ocean Beach.
In Trenchtown and Cincinnati and Geelong
As one of the cops sorts things out, his partner looks at the scruffy Obceans gathered at the scene. It’s a high, high world.
You think, Does wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt constitute probable cause?
You never really figured out the taxonomy of brown liquor. When is it whisky, when is it bourbon? Can it be bourbon whisky, and is it ever spelled e-y?
It doesn’t matter, because it softens your bones as you drink it with your friend. He is a little older, a little more disheveled. As the older guys say, he knows where the bones are buried.
The bottle says it comes from Kentucky, and that’s good enough for you. Your friend says that his family came from the South, too, before they went north to the great metropolis of Chicago.
He talks of the death of the South Side, of all the good blues clubs have closed.
“I’m not talking about Buddy Guy’s place and all that,” he says. “The old joints.”
You wonder if the United States of America is waking from a sleep. The advertising machine says change is on the horizon, but you don’t really care about that anymore. The jazz and brown liquor is what has brought you two together, and the promise and hope from the advertising machine has long since proved illusory.
The psychologists call it the illusion of control, your friend says.
“It means you can’t do shit but still think you can,” he says.
You remember that course, too, the one about cognitive dissonance and your personal favorite, belief perseverance. When you continue to believe what you believe even though the goddamn facts right in front of your face tell a different story.
The jazz records you listen to suit the whisky or bourbon or bourbon whisky you drink.
The jazz tells a story the advertising machine fails to pick up on. It’s all there in the music of the Chicago tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons, the man Miles Davis claimed got him hooked on heroin.
It’s in the Detroit piano of Barry Harris. All you have to do is listen. Look up these cats, and you’ll learn the sweetest, most sorrowful language around.
Your friend puts on a Wardell Gray record, and you think about how that tenor man roared outta the Heartland and died in Vegas at 34. Still, the story is in there, and watching your friend move away from the player, you feel lucky to have learned how to read it.
One in every woman who is born in a large U.S. city tests positive for cocaine. That’s 25 percent of the babies. They talk of things with serious names like social ecology
He mixes the next two drinks, and now there’s hardly any Coke going in with them. But they don’t taste bad because you’re getting numbed up and liquored up. The music snakes through you like a fever.
Your friend asks you over the drinks, he actually chuckles when he says it:
“What was that like, when you first realized that white men have fucked everything up?”
He knows you too well to preface the question with “No offense, but ….”
“I mean, that had to kinda be some fucked up shit, huh?”
You try to remember when it was, and you think of your parents and their dreams. Your great-grandparents and the signs in Boston and New York: N.I.N.A – No Irish Need Apply.
You think of something to start to say, but you’re a little woozy, so you just smile at your friend. He chuckles again, and it is a bona fide chuckle: He’s a big man.
You just laugh with him and turn up the volume a litle bit.
Wardell plays on, and you tap your plastic cups together.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal prosecutor in a major terrorism case in Detroit has taken the rare step of suing Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging the Justice Department interfered with the case, compromised a confidential informant and exaggerated results in the war on terrorism.
"I've always liked AC/DC, all right?"
- Keith Richards, 1988
10 top purchaser influencers
1. Free sample 87.2%
2. Coupons 71.3%
3. Referral from friend 48.5%
4. Free premium 29.4%
5. Advertisements 27.2%
6. Chance to instantly win a major prize 16.7%
7. Packaging 10.2%
8. Direct Mail 5.0%
9. Presence around town 4.6%
10. Collateral 2.4%
Source: Promotion Marketing Association
Biter that I am, I saw that blog master Tony Pierce
had a song-by-song review of Courtney Love’s new record, America’s Sweetheart
, on his site and decided to do the same. I looked on the network of file-sharing friends that I have, and sure enough one of my friends posted the album so I could download it and listen.
In the interest of disclosure:
My girl is asleep, listening to Howard talk on E!
I’m drinking a clear liquor.
There is laundry spinning.
1) Love Mono – Our blanched heroine is a self-parody. She tosses off insults at wannabe punkers over chord inversions from that song on the last Hole album that had the line Oh, make me over
2) But Julian, I’m a Little Older – Julian the guy from The Strokes, maybe, as representation as the young indie lions after Cobain’s queen? Dunno, but Kurt woulda been embarrassed for The Strokes. Courtney spews a lot here, a la “It’s The End of the World,” and includes a Nada Surf rant at the end.
3) Hold On To Me – The widow’s former husband channeled again here, with the line In the dead of winter, dead of night, he’s all that I can see
. This is where it dawns on me that the ordeal
of Courtney Love will forever outweigh any artistic statement she makes, and I wonder if I can do this for two more songs. The laundry needs to go into the dryer.
4) Sunset Strip – Tony is right, her phrasing here recalls Westerberg, but it’s criminal to use The Mats leader’s name in a tune as vanilla as this.
I don’t care anymore.
It’s almost Friday.
And you’re not Courtney Love.
And she kinda borrowed the bad food, bad sex, bad TV line
from The Breeders’ song “When I Was A Painter” from Pod
Good idea, Tony. I let down the side.
Just like Courtney.
And "All the Drugs" sounds like a Morphine throwaway.
At work, you are paid while you sit at your disk and contemplate all the good band names that could be plucked from the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
The Silicon Sisters
Some Lucky Young Matador
The Jukebox Graduates
Springsteen continues on, and he was one of the few people who supported the Texas Dixie Chicks when they were critical of the Texas President of the United States of America. Springsteen said that the Texas women should be able to say what they want, that dissent is healthy.
Then the radio stations in the South refused to play their records because they colored outside the color-blind lines. Southern women are supposed to know their place. That’s what they say.
A Bastard’s Love
The Lonely Acrobats
Woman Enough For Kissin’
Born To Live To Die
Contacts Deep In Mexico
The Texas women stunned many by not capitulating and recanting their words. In fact, the advertising machine failed to observe was that it was only one of the Texas Dixie Chicks who spoke out against the Texas president. The other Chicks were forced to have an opinion, a sometimes difficult proposition for a woman of the South. You, too, hope Neil Young will remember. He, after all, started out Canadian.
White Skin Is Deceiving
Keep the Change
The Dope’s That There’s Still Hope
A Beautiful Thud
The Springsteen faithful fell out when he married the actress no one’d heard of until he married her. But he quickly remedied that by hooking up the backup singer from the Garden State and making babies. His fans tolerate her, and it’s almost acceptance. If anyone has to marry him, it might as well be the Jersey girl. That song Springsteen played, but Tom Waits wrote it.
Everybody’s Wrecked On Main Street
Lost In The Flood
Jimmy The Saint
That Cat From The Bronx
At work where you are paid while you consider all the great band names you could pull out of Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J
., there is the room with the time clock and vending machines. Where all the parents lay out their kids’ fundraising crap. It’s all garbage, gifts you’d be embarrassed to give, but you throw down a few dollars anyway.
The psychologists might call you an observer-participant.
In that room with the Girl Scout cookies and herbal teas and OSHA disclosure statements, there is a little black box with a golden lock on it. There is a white piece of paper above the box with an icon of a dove, some black-lettered writing beneath. You bend a little, and you see that the writing says GIVE YOUR IDEAS WINGS: SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS.
You think the box would be hard pressed to hold four business cards, but the idea of the idea-sharing strikes you. You wonder if the Texas Dixie Chicks thought they were giving their ideas wings, unaware of the rifle scopes trained on their feathers.
Doesn’t matter to you, you think, and there’s that freedom of not caring again. You close your eyes as you crawl into your ambulance.
Madison Avenue’s Claim To Fame
I Came For You
The pieces certainly fit, and you’ve put them together so many times it’s second nature.
Quickening your pace as you pass the workers in the orange vests, you become aware of the fit of your clothes, the bra on your breast. It is like heat, but the pieces fit, so you go by and ignore the hisses from under the hardhats.
The advertising machine says that women who know ‘breast for success,’ and during the big football spectacular, a breast nearly brought the world to its suckling knees.
You also know that breast worship does not hold up cross-culturally, that it is a curious Western phenomenon. It’s why European women go topless at the beech. You want to point out to them on the treadmill that the cosmetic obsession with the sex organs didn’t happen until humans began to walk.
When we were on all fours, the breasts were not a component of the coupling process. They use canine terms to refer to intercourse that places the man behind the woman – or man – but this is from where we come.
The workers in the orange vests see you walk by, and they don’t care that your friends laugh at their rough language and big trucks. They think it works for them, and they aren’t really interested in hearing otherwise. You don’t talk about their sunglasses or tell them about business in the front, party in the back.
If you are married you can grow a moustache, but single males can’t take the chance, you think. But this, too, does not hold up across the great cultural spectrum. And that’s important, to think about how other people do.
The advertising machine will take the opposite tack, thank you very much, and the content reinforces your worst fears about yourself: You are slovenly, self-serving and self-satisfied.
You ask how you grow a moustache anyway? Do you start with a beard, and then shave around it when you get a little hair? Like dragging the magnetic powder around the Italian face in the child’s toy?
Men have to shave their faces, you think, and you’d much rather do your underarms and legs than shave your face.
Would the men in the orange vests and hardhats have coronaries if they knew that they got you thinking about showering and soaping your legs? It’s funny how it all happens in the head, you think. It’s what they’ll never get, what the advertising machine and video girls can’t communicate.
The skin may be the largest of the human organs, but the most sexual organ is the one in your head.
You keep this to yourself as you order the sandwich, the guys in the orange vests outside through the deli window. Another woman passes them, and it’s like a tennis match all over again.
You can only wonder what she is thinking.
The cross-country airline ticket that got you on the flight cost nearly $400, and if you take home that much a week, you make about 30 grand a year. Four hundred dollars is a lot of money to you, and it should be to more folks, you think as you fasten your seatbelt.
This is American Airlines, headquartered in Dallas of the South. Where they killed JFK in 1963, more than four decades ago. The South moves in mysterious ways. You don’t mess with it too much.
You admit that events that happen between New York and San Francisco are pretty much rumors to you. Or they have asterisks next to them. Even Chicago, you think, is all the way in the middle, away from the coastal tidal pulls.
When the kids assassinated their classmates in Colorado, it was like TV carnage to you. Million-dollar schools with million-dollar problems. Bullies picking on kids, and kids saying, ‘Fuck this. I’ve had enough.’
That was way in there that it happened, in Colorado. A lot of white folks and religion up in them hills, where people talk about ZOG and Ruby Ridge and getting back to how it was meant to be.
Like Dixie in the mountains.
Big country, this old lady is, and there's a lot to do. Just look around, you think, and you’ll meet a million different people. Taste new foods, hear diverse tales. You even read a study about how South American and Japanese American mothers raise their children, the article full of the Woody Allen words like didactic
They say it’s a melting pot, but the studies also show that it’s really not. We live among our own, and that doesn’t mean our fellow citizens. It means we marry, live among and drink beer with people who tend to look like us, come from where we do, and have about the same amount of education.
Make sense now, don’t it? Now make dollars.
Up in the American Airlines flight from New York to California, the pilot rambles in his usual honeyed voice about altitude and winds to the south and all that other bullshit that makes not a damn bit of difference to you. You can’t hear it anyway, with all the background noise in the cockpit. Like a window’s open.
But a word catches your ear, at the same time the woman in the seat next to you puts up her hand along with a majority of other folks on the plane.
You ask her why she and they are raising their hands. You say to her, ‘you guys,’ when asking, even though she is not a male.
‘The pilot asked all the Christians on the flight to raise their hands.’
You … what … he …
The grandfatherly voice comes over the white noise again:
It advises the non-Christians on the flight to talk to the people with their arms in the air.
They are testifying, you think, and American Airlines is like the rest of America, relentlessly trying to turn us all into the same thing.
The headache is blistering and the stale whiskey is caked to your mouth when you wake up three hours later in Los Angeles.
You think it was a dream, that the pilot of your captive audience – you didn’t have the option of walking away, isn’t that illegal – was proselytizing, telling you about Eucharists and the like. God, what if he was taking them all to meet God.
That’s religious terrorism, whether the plane crashes into a building or not. You shuffle off the plane, catching a glimpse of the cockpit. Two white men in there.
You don’t know it at the time, but each successive time you board a flight, it’ll cross your mind that the white man in the cockpit may be ready to meet who he thinks is his maker.
Maybe try a different airline next time.
A cold beer sounds good to wash this crap taste out of your mouth. And then a shower and sleep. You still have your health, and you can think for yourself still.
It was a close one, but you made it.
The regrouping at the White House fits a pattern. When he's the target of criticism and his poll ratings decline, Bush tries to reframe the debate. He did it last fall, when polls showed growing doubts about the wisdom of the war. Bush began describing Iraq as the "central front" in the broader war on terrorism.
He did the same thing in December 2002, when his second round of tax cuts seemed to be in trouble in Congress and worries about the economy mounted. He fired his economic team and went on the road to promise that tax cuts would improve the economy.
Vlade Divac - Victim of a little-known genetic disorder in which the local gravity increases exponentially as he nears the basket, causing him to hit the floor rapidly when other players are nearby.
Vlade Divac - a terrorist.
Oh my God, Vlade Divac is flying a plane into the Arco Arena.
You try the windshield wipers, but it’s like one of those dreams where nothing works. It’s blurry, and the voice inside your head sounds the same.
Periodic pressure in your skull, and you wonder if it could be the aneurysm you’ve been expecting. Then you think it could be the other thing they talk about on the airplanes and advertising machine.
Symbolic of your way in the world, you think, waiting out the rain in the car. There aren’t any privately-owned radio stations anymore, so you don’t bother looking for a tune.
Another metaphor, it dawns on you.
Who isn’t looking for a tune?
The heat from the floor is roasting your ankles, and you think about going to sleep here on the side of the road. You’ve heard the stories about what happens to people who do that, but you chalk it up to the hate and fear running out of the advertising machine.
Why, just the other day, the United States was up in arms about a woman showing her boob on TV. One of the kids from one of those bands without instruments tore off here top during a football game, and the advertising machine nearly overheated trying to process what it means to you.
It’s T&A all day, and then they act like the real fake thing is a big deal.
No one wants to take credit for bumping up their Q rating.
The rain pisses on the roof of the car. You think of your friend from one of the white sections of the Bronx. It was white when he grew up there, and he used to say, Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.
Amen to that.
Just give me a washer and a little detergent, and I’ll make you feel like you’re on Savile Row.
Maybe drive up the road until one of the next in-between towns, sleep in the car in one of the bleach-white parking lots of the super-centers that have the local merchants losing their marbles. The city council wants the taxes, of course, but not a revolt.
The advertising machine says any business is good business, and if it is big business it must be great.
Then you hear a man in New York screaming over the airwaves that the nation is captivated by a tit, he calls it, and no one wants to talk about that company whose name relentlessly surfaces in the news. The one accused of overcharging the American public. The one profiting from war.
The one run by the vice president of the United States, he of the killing trips with the Supreme Court justice. The man in New York wants to know about these things, wants to know why no one else seems to care.
But quickly the advertising machine sets its sights on him.
And drowns him out.
Pushes that big tit right in to his un-American mouth.
Who loved who first?
The country was here before I was. (But not by much. The land was here, and there were people here, but that’s an entirely different matter. Don’t forget, it was a Mexican man – albeit a fair-skinned one – who said the pilgrims were the first wetbacks. To that, they sputter, LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.)
FACT: I came after the country.
On July 4, 1776, in a dark and steaming room in Philadelphia, 56 white men signed a piece of paper that would become known as the Declaration of Independence, informing Great Britain in no uncertain terms that the 13 American colonies were free and independent of the Union Jack.
Not the first, perhaps, but one of the earliest and most significant expressions that has come to epitomize this, the world’s lone superpower: