Monday, July 6, 2020

Because I Love HAMILTON

            Here’s my unpopular opinion/stream-of-consciousness rant to you  . . .

and you . . .

and you . . .

(and for sure, you . . .)

but not Tim . . .

because (a) he gets enough at home and (b) it’s not that we agree, but I get him—and I don’t freakin’ get you, or maybe I do get you, but I think you’re screwing things up.

Man, YOU ARE SCREWING IT UP.


            So I’ll speak from my bookish pulpit, my place of moral superiority, my multiple Damn-Girl degrees, my white privilege (yes, I’m feeling all revolutionary about Hamilton). I already admitted to being a double agent—you can go here if you don’t know what I’m talking about—and I’ll probably be forced to retire early after this.

I didn’t even try to post this on a church blog, though I’ll attempt to hold back on my cussing nonetheless—resorting (unhappily) to freakin’—but I’m going to be rude, just you wait. As for the heathens or secular humanists or whatever-the-freak we’re calling people nowadays, I’m sure they’ll be mad at me too. I already said that this will force me into early retirement, by which I mean, I’ll retreat into fiction. I’m a freakin’ awesome fiction writer.

            Rant time. Basically, I’m, like, guys, girls, you’re blowing it, collectively blowing it, colossally blowing it. I’m floored and devastated and angry and I want, from my pedestal, my place on the couch before my dog and big screen TV, to tell you how so very wrong you all are. You may never read me again or blow me off or stop inviting me to your endless soirees and cocktail parties. But don’t take out the bad taste I leave in your mouth on members of my family who try and restrain me but fail miserably and love me still.

            MLK, first.

Like, you realize, Libs—that’s what I’ll call you (identifying myself as a moderate, but usually thought of as a lefty), you would’ve hated Martin Luther King, Jr.!

He was a freakin’ Christian!

His whole premise rested on a belief in Jesus!

You seriously think you guys would go for that?

            But before the Christians get all puffed up like they do, I sincerely doubt you’d all like him either.

Inevitably, you’d get hung up on one phrase he said. Like he’d say, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And you’d go, Is this All injustice or some injustice or anywhere or somewhere? Is this Marxist? Revisionist? And is he suggesting that we cut the drinking fountain industry in half? Like if we get rid of the Blacks Only drinking fountains, won’t the drinking fountain industry lose 50% of its business? I mean, I think that’s what he’s suggesting!

            What I’m saying is that, if I see one more freakin’ article or social media proclamation on the dangers of saying Black Lives Matter, I’ll probably sink to my knees and start wailing.

Okay, Boomer.

This is what the kids meant, after all.

Do you not understand that the mantra, the riot garden, the panic attack, the peaceful stuff too comes from pent-up, longstanding hurt, a hurt like a head wound you inexplicably survived, from pain so deep that our random heartbreaks that still make us comatose pale in comparison . . . and yet we have the gall to stop, to draw attention from the hurt, to question the verbiage?

            But, libs, not so fast.

Just because the Christian folk are stumbling over your slogans, don’t think for a minute that you’ve got this. Because you so obviously don’t. I mean, really. The Christians will, like, never, ever, not in a thousand years, stand behind the BLM movement. It’s that whiff of Marxism, the anti-family scent. Listen, I, Double-Agent, can work my way around your verbiage. I can do it, having been trained up in the secular humanism at major universities—but you’re gonna lose some good people. I also gotta tell you a dirty little secret that I will utter and then resort to silence because I HAVE CHOSEN MY BATTLES. I think it has done People of Color a disservice by combining systemic racism with sexual/gender politics. The enemies are not the same; the battles are different. I am NOT saying that one is more or less real than the other; I am saying that there is a distinction.

By the way, say it again, MLK was a pastor, a praying man, a Bible-thumper.

Nonetheless, I can and will say, Black Lives Matter.

If you’re not confused yet, let me carry on vigilantly, tirelessly, brazenly, before my husband—the saner one—tries to shut me down. Libs, guys, the systemic racism stuff? You’re so right, of course you’re right, but if that’s true—and it is—why are you going after the police?

The police are symptomatic, if racism is systemic.

I mean, yeah, I get the need for reform (I’m reading The New Jim Crow, I’ve read Just Mercy, and I just watched a week of TV on the Central Park Five—and I am utterly convinced that the legal system is MESSED UP, undoubtedly, mortifyingly, and I’m sure I couldn’t live with myself, like I really couldn’t live with myself, if I were involved in the prosecution of those five boys)—but this dismantling of police is so symptomatic, so short-sighted, so self-defeating. We freakin’ need the police!

And I just saw Hamilton for the second time, but this time I actually understood it—and I once tried to read Ron Chernow’s book, but I was, like, I don’t think so. But Hamilton! Surely, Lin-Manual Miranda is a genius. Are we going to hold him responsible for portraying history incorrectly? Libs, it’s going to get crazy.

Don’t ruin a good thing.

But I guess we’re being forced to consider history . . .

Mount Rushmore?

All of the freakin’ Confederates?

Ugh.

I get the sense that the Libs are trying to dismantle stuff they don’t really get and the Christians are backing off because they’re all into the Greatness of America and Such—and so we’re all going to end up, well, screwed. First blatant use of profanity.

Christians, come off the Make America Great Again Train.

I mean, seriously.

It’s like throwing salt in wounds. Who says that if one has actually read a book?

I mean, really!?!

But, Libs, do you get the idiocy of shredding history as if it’s somehow rectifying past wrongs—because it’s so not?

Besides that, I think there were some intriguing messages in that Hamilton knockout. I don’t really know the hearts of the Founding Father Dudes, but I’m tempted to believe because I get the writer-vibe that Hamilton and others gave off, that they might’ve felt the weight of history upon them, the unprecedented nature of their work . . . and they, flawed—so deeply and horribly flawed—still managed to create a nation founded on amazing principles.

Artists, I’m talking to you now, aren’t you sometimes stunned by your own work? Like you know you suck in your heart of hearts—but you just created this freakin’ Work Of Art—despite your own flawed humanity?????

I wonder if the Founding Father Dudes, while they were talking out of both sides of their mouths on slavery and cheating on their rich-ass (second blatant use of profanity) wives, were sometimes stunned by their own genius that led to the founding of the United States of America?

I mean, they were just lousy human beings who created something revolutionary!

Which leads me to the second-to-the-last point in my rant. I’m thinking, and I’m not really being cautious here, that SO MUCH OF ALL OF THIS is due to a failure in education, the decline of the Liberal Arts.

Now, before I carry on, I gotta acknowledge that Christians love to rail against liberal education immediately after they rail against Black Lives Matter.

I mean, when I brought this up with my pretty “woke” husband (I still don’t know if I’m allowed to say this or if I just committed a grave sin), he immediately wanted to deliver a tirade against liberal education. Christians love—and I mean, love—to rail against Higher Education. I know this intimately, being a product of its unruly agenda. Liberally educated, right here, folks.

I have problems with education. In the last two decades of teaching college kids, I’ve been positively heartbroken by their reading habits (which are nil), their artlessness (basic illiteracy in things like recognizing Renoir or Monet), and their disinterest in history. At this point, I’ve met eons of kids who never go to museums. Kids who aren’t sure about the difference between World War One and Two. Kids who really aren’t sure if Edgar Allen Poe or Alfred Hitchcock wrote “The Raven.” Lib kids and Christian kids alike.

Dire consequences, either way.

Monuments get destroyed.

People freak out about Hamilton. 

Artless people—people who have never stood before the quietude of a Van Gogh or people who have never felt their jaws drop open upon hearing Nina Simone or people who have never taken deep breaths after reading a passage written by Fitzgerald or people who have never been in awe of the epic nature of Lin-Manual Miranda’s work—cannot really empathize with struggles outside of their immediate experience. 

Read a freakin’ book.

Learn some history.

Would someone ask Donald Trump if he ever went to the Met for fun?

Oh, Trump. I just don’t get it.

It would be a bit easier if all of this wasn’t happening in the midst of a global pandemic (that only Trump could SUCCESSFULLY make partisan—good job on that!) and an election year. I mean, yeah, I’m, like, Biden is the best you can do?

Poor Biden! I don’t dislike him. I just think, well, he’s too old for this shit (I lost count of my profanities).

But Trump? Are you serious? Has the man ever said, I’m wrong? I was wrong? Forgive me? I made a mistake?  

No, rather, it’s this: Make America Great Again, which translates into this:

I DON’T SEE YOU.

I DON’T HEAR YOU.


Rant over. I loved Hamilton.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ya Basic





Say you’re basic.  It’s okay. I’m not really basic, but I’ve got issues. Right now, with the nation a big huge mess, I’ve seen this lovely anti-racist book bingo list going around:




I love this list, but say Ya Basic. Say this list looks a tad too intimidating. I hear you. I mean, I’m a reader—and that list looks, um, hard.

I’d like to humbly suggest that reading great novels (and listening to awesome music) by African-Americans and People of Color can seriously work to help defeat racism! I believe this. I believe in my not-really-basic-but-problematic-heart that reading diversely humanizes “the other.” So here’s my own literary bingo attempt if ya basic or just pretty white. (Some writers wrote two books on my list, and I just like them so much. This is very—like completely—subjective. Some are nonfiction. Some are very much about racism; others are just about people doing people-things. I’ve got movies and music for basic people too. Later.)


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah
James Baldwin: Another Country
Maya Angelou: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Ta-Nehisi Coates: We Were in Power Eight Years

Esi Edugyan: Washington Black

Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love


Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing
James Baldwin:  Go Tell it On the Mountain

Zora Neale Hurston:  Their Eyes Were Watching God

Spike Lee:  Do the Right Thing

Jamaica Kincaid: “Girl” (it’s a short story.)

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: March, Books 1-3

Toni Morrison:  Beloved

Malcolm X:  The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Bryan Stevenson: Just Mercy

Nelson Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom

Toni Morrison:  The Bluest Eye

James McBride:  The Color of Water

Alice Walker: The Color Purple

Trevor Noah: Born a Crime

Colson Whitehead: The Underground Railroad

Solomon Northup: Twelve Years A Slave

Jaqueline Woodson: Brown Girl Dreaming

James McBride:  The Good Lord Bird

Colson Whitehead: Zone One



Just read good books!