Friday, July 31, 2015

TGIF


We spent yesterday in the Napa Valley.  A respite from the oppressive heat, great food and wine and good friends.  This rose cluster was at a winery next to Rutherford Grill.  RG is one of the most delish eateries I've ever been to.  Food so fresh and inventive and of course an excellent wine list.

Our friends recently traveled to France and we were surprised to hear, over lunch, that their food experience there was less than good.   #1, they went to tourist places.  Never a good idea in France, I hear.  #2, they live in one of the most spectacular food regions in the entire world.  It reminds me of my first trip to the Maine coast, where everyone kept telling me it would blow me away with its beauty.  Not so much.  I grew up just north of the Big Sur coast.  Hard to top that.  I know, we live in a rarefied world of riches here in California.

We went to the adorable little movie theater in St. Helena to see A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman.  S and I were utterly captivated by the story, the performances, the gardens at Versailles.  After the movie, our friends made us an amazing dinner with their homegrown tomatoes as the focal point.  You know, when you made a 'simple' pasta dish with fresh, fleshy, robust tomatoes and garlic, it is an explosion of summer in the mouth! Paired with a bottle of earthy Sangiovese from the Sierra foothills, it was a glorious meal.

A completely agreeable day; a moonlit drive home.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Bon weekend to  you!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Musings (Weary and Tired)

Perhaps as evidenced by my lack of postings, I am feeling weary and tired of all the strife in the world, and in our homeland particularly.  Sandra Bland's death kind of pushed me over the edge.  I also watched two interviews with author Ta-Nehisi Coates on his new book called Between the World and Me.  How discouraged he is by the state of race relations in our country.  And not without good reason.  I went to our public library and requested they order it.  They did, and I will get to be the first one to check in out.  Then.  Then.

I had to unplug.  I was feeling guilty for doing that, for taking care of myself.  There are many who don't have that luxury.  So imagine my relief when I read this column by a writer who is African American, Sesali B./Feministing .

When you’re weary and tired

I have to confess: I have tried my best to stay as far away as possible from the Sandra Bland story. I haven’t read any articles. I’ve refused to press play on the video footage of her traffic stop. I’ve even scrolled past tribute posts dedicated to her, not out of disrespect or apathy, but for self preservation. The snippets of information that I have seen on social media told me everything I needed to know. A routine traffic stop ended badly for a Black woman. The woman’s name is Sandra Bland. Bland was found dead in her jail cell. And today, her death was ruled a suicide. Unfortunately, I feel competent enough to fill in the blanks, despite wishing I wasn’t.
The media coverage of state violence and death against Black people since the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin has been overwhelming, to say the least. The sheer number of publicized incidents combined with the saturation of those stories across media outlets makes it inescapable. When news of Martin’s murder began to circulate in 2012, many people grieved the loss of a child, but another affect that seemed to be circulating was hope. We were relieved that the death of a Black teenager was finally being taken seriously. We rallied for the law and the media to go all the way with this story; to be honest about a flawed and racist justice system and the realities of anti-Blackness in this country. The mass coverage of Martin’s death and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman, and the affect of hope that followed, provided enough traction to launch what is being called today’s civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter.
The death of Sandra Bland, has been the latest in a string of stories about police brutality, neglect, violence, and mistreatment by police, against Black people. Mainstream news coverage of these events is certainly enough to trigger, and in many cases terrify, Black viewers. And I think this is only intensified for Black bloggers, activists, journalists, and other Black people who have to follow these stories more closely. We are constantly combing through different accounts, stories, profiles, documents, photos, and videos looking for new angles, figuring out what’s missing from certain narratives, and coming up with fresh takes. The pressure to have an opinion about everything that has made its way into the media circuit already requires a certain kind of emotional labor that is taxing on its own. But this burden is certainly exacerbated when the stories are so applicable to our own lives.
For many of us, the story of Sandra Bland isn’t a distant report out of Texas. It isn’t material for a casual conversations about the legal system. It’s not material for a murder mystery dinner. For us this is actually the same thing that happened to our cousin, our friend, our lover, our classmate, our sibling, our parent, our child, or someone else we know/knew. When a pre-teen Black girl is assaulted by a police officer at a pool party, or another officer shoots an unarmed man in the back and then lies about it, it is more than “news” to us. It’s something that some of us have experienced first hand in our communities. While the work requires some of us to immerse ourselves in the grisly details and pour all of ourselves into these horrifying stories in order to meet deadlines, they aren’t the kind of topics that go away when we close our laptops.
And following the release of today’s autopsy report in the Sandra Bland story, my timeline confirmed the affects that I have recognized for a while now as anti-Black terrorism continues to run rampant: fear and weariness. More than calls to rise up and fight, my friends are finding it hard to concentrate at work. They are consumed by the idea that things will never change for Black folks. We are all pissed. But more than anger, we are fucking tired and scared. We are worried. Case in point:
I was pulled over a couple of weeks ago for a moving violation I didn’t commit. I was in the car with three friends of mine – one of them Black in the passenger seat, the other two non-Black women of color in the back, while I drove. My friends in the back seat were obviously upset and angry that we were pulled over on a bogus violation. It angered them that the police officer flashed lights inside the car as if searching for some illegal contraband that he was sure we had. They were livid when when I received two tickets. But after awkwardly ‘yes, sir’ing the officer in a silent plea to not perceive me as threatening, my Black friend and I let out a simultaneous sigh of relief when we were able to drive away. Because from the moment we saw flashing lights, she and I knew how bad things could get. This was no teachable moment, nor was it an opportunity to resist the system. For the two us, it had become a matter of life and death. I knew that my work or school affiliations, publications, number of followers, awards, resumes, or networks would not have stopped that officer from harming me.
It is important to understand how anti-Black terrorism feels like an imminent threat more than a statistical possibility for Black people. It is a haunting threat that is rewritten into our consciousness as we read story after story or murder and assault. And for me at least, the burden of fear is enough of for me to bear without also having to succinctly articulate the gendered and racialized politics of anti-Black violence. So for those of you who can, I implore you to take care of yourself. Take advantage of any opportunities to unplug, detach, and hopefully heal.

Friday, July 17, 2015

TGIF

Seems as if money always wins. if you're in the way of somebody making money, you don't mean dick.

I was watching a video about gentrification in San Francisco's Mission District.  SF now has the highest rate of income inequality in the United States.  New tech boom, babies, and those people have got money.

I had my own run in recently with my bank, my ex and a collection agency.  I got the short end of the stick.  Despite all my efforts to protect myself legally.  Four years ago I did what I could, what the bank told me they could do and could not do.  I took their advice and this week it all came back to bite me in the ass.  Well, now it's done and taken care of.  The last vestige of a painful divorce.  Good bye, so long, farewell.  And I'm not going to be banking there anymore.  I wish I knew how to make an icon of a middle finger.  I'd place it here.

Money means somebody like Trump can run for freakin' President of these United States.  I wonder  how many people have been displaced by Trump building projects?  Don't matter.  They were in his way and there was money to be made.  Pffft.  Money means men like the Bush brothers are elevated well beyond their capabilities, and people actually pay attention to them.  Have you ever watched the film The One Percent?  Oh, the humanity.


 

Well, hope I've succeeded in brightening your weekend. 

Surly Bonds

My dad slipped the surly bonds of earth on January 13.  He'd had a massive stroke on the ninth and doctors were clear he was not going t...