Friday, January 05, 2007

Questions for the New Year

Happy New Year!

I’m happy. No, really, I am. I have a great husband, I got two As and a B for my first semester (I could be upset about the B but it was a hard-earned B, so I can’t complain), my folks have been totally supportive and I got to spend the holidays with them, and I even got to see Nova, my super-cool-awesome friend visiting from New York for New Year’s. Oh, and my pad is close to being pretty cool, too – we call it The Blue Boogie, ohhh yeeeeaaah.

And I bet you’re happy, too. You better be! My super-hot-awesome friend Jenny battled with cancer in 2006, beat it and finished off the year with a star-studded comic review benefitting cancer research. If someone can end a year battling cancer like that…I mean, honestly, none of us can complain, can we?

So, why is the news all bad? I’m here trying to read between the lines of this and that publication and in the end, the message is the same: death and corruption and misery. Wow. My life isn’t like that, my family’s life isn’t like that – and we got extended family in the places they call Third World, yo! – and my friends’ lives aren’t like that. Yes, I worked in the Bronx with District 75 kids who had sores and chibolos from head to toe and I had to teach them poetry when all I wanted to do was give them a bath and a decent place to live – there IS misery and I have been fortunate enough my whole life to be around people who work against that. My point is, there is a lot of stuff in the world that works against that misery so why don’t we hear about it more often? Is there a publication that I should be reading? Let me know!

In the end, all I am left with is questions. Do you know the answer to some of these?


Did Oprah have a master plan of luring suburban housewives to her show with silly topics like “becoming rich” and guests like Tom Cruise and Dr. Phil, only to end up using the big bucks market to promote reading and to create a school in South Africa that will counteract apartheid?

Or, did she just plan on making a lot of money with the housewife market and then realize she had to give a lot away to charity in order to avoid the tax man?

Did Bono have a similar master plan or is he a sell out, too?

Did David W. Hermance, 59, the inventor of the electric car/hybrid technology that is used in all hybrids today and an avid pilot, really die in a plane crash where he was the pilot or is someone benefitting from his “death?” (He was a big advocate for becoming less dependent on oil.)

Is there someone who is conducting extensive research on alternative Black and Latino music? (Probably my next blog.)

Are the Redwoods really being cut down and who on the planet thinks that is a good idea?

Don’t you find it creepy that the scholarship that is paying for my education is the result of a partnership with Texas A&M University and the most recent president of A&M just left the position in order to take over Rumsfeld’s job AND isn’t it disturbing that someone in EDUCATION is qualified for a Secretary of Defense?

Are people outside of New York aware that Giuliani was never considered a hero in New York and that most New Yorkers dread the possibility of his running for presidential office?

What might happen if the news reported no murders, great weather, schools and churches are loving environments and all our troops all over the world have come home (and they are getting a lifetime of healthcare, too)?

Were the officers who shot Sean Bell and his friends trying to beat the 41 shots record set by Diallo’s murderers? Why does anyone in the U.S. need any more convincing that there is something wrong with our armed forces in general?

Do sunsets and sand and grass and trees and stars have a positive effect (emotionally, health-wise, etc.) on humans and, if so, why don’t we build our towns to ensure that we have easy access to such things.

Why do we refer to everything that happens in “Africa” as something that happens in “Africa” instead of using the name of the specific country being referred to? We don’t say that there is an uprising in “Europe” when there is an uprising in France, nor do we say kids are going mad about the new X-Box in North America when the phenomenon is happening in the United States, so why do we continually refer to problems in Somalia as problems in Africa, for example?

Why are actors used as ambassadors? Shouldn’t ambassadors be people who read more than just scripts?

Did Bill Gates donate all his money the past few years in order to quiet the threat of an anti-trust lawsuit the U.S. Justice Department had against him in 1998 (apparently there is an 11-DVD set of the deposition that was auctioned on eBay in 2005)?

Are there uncharted waters and lands and how can someone get to them?

How is it that the Sugarhill Gang can be penniless but the dude who produced their classic tune is so rich that his kid is one of the brats on MTV’s “My Sweet Sixteen?”

Are U.S. citizens finally aware that world-wide we are seen not as the underdog we so love but as the annoying bully we’d like to see get a good spanking?

What are kids reading other than Harry Potter? Are graphic novels passe’ or has their glory only just begun?

Are The Mars Volta and TV on the Radio a couple of the best bands ever and are the new sound experiments going to require a multi-cultural perspective in order to be innovative?

Most visual art innovation seems to involve new programming and technology; what should someone who loves watercolor or acrylic be prepared for?

Will anonymity ever be popular again?

Can anyone clearly and simply answer where my taxes go?

That’s it for now.

And for those of you looking for Free Ph.D. information, here it is:

First of all, the teaching artist thing in New York has set a precedent. The rest of the country is cutting arts programs so expect there to be a need for supplemental teaching artists to bring the arts into schools all over the U.S. One company that has really worked on that in Texas is called Big Thought. I wrote about this in my Teaching Composition class.

Second, my final essay comparing Esmeralda Santiago’s America’s Dream and the new film “Babel” got me an “A.” Whew! I thought the prof. couldn’t stand me and maybe she couldn’t but she didn’t let it affect her grading policy. I strongly suggest you read the novel, see the film and compare. Both have a white couple visiting a “foreign” land and expecting certain kinds of service, both have a domestic worker whose work and livelihood are threatened when commitments to homeland and El Norte collide, both examine isolation within the urban environment, and both examine how our idea of masculinity ends up threatening men of color in the modern world. Deep stuff.