Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Memphis, you HAVE to stop breaking my heart.

via 365gay.com:

(Memphis, Tennessee) A public high school principal who posted the names of two boys on a list of students believed to be couples, revealing their relationship to their parents as well as other students and teachers, violated the students’ constitutional right to freedom of association, the American Civil Liberties Union charged Tuesday.

In a letter to school board officials in Memphis, the ACLU demanded that the school reprimand the principal and take steps to ensure such actions never happen again.

In September of 2007, the principal at Hollis F. Price Middle College High told teachers she wanted the names of all student couples, “hetero and homo,” because she wanted to monitor them personally to prevent students from engaging in public displays of affection.

The two students now represented by the ACLU, Andrew and Nicholas (who have asked that their last names not be revealed), were two A students who had been seeing each other for a short time and were attempting to keep their relationship quiet and private.

The principal heard about them through another student, then wrote their names on a list she posted next to her desk, in full view of anyone who entered her office.

One of the boys’ mothers personally witnessed the list when she met with the principal a few days later.

“I couldn’t believe it when I went to meet with the principal and that list was right there by her desk where anyone could see it,” said Andrea, Andrew’s mother.

“African American people face enough obstacles to succeeding in this world and I want my son to have every opportunity he’s worked so hard for. Our schools should be helping our children do well, not tearing them down for something like this.”

Although the boys had never been observed by any school staff engaging in any sort of display of affection, the principal called Nicholas’s mother Nichole.

According to Nichole, the principal said things like “Did you know your son is gay?” repeatedly and went on to say that she didn’t like gay people and wouldn’t tolerate homosexuality at her school.

Both students say they’ve had to deal with verbal harassment from both teachers and students since word got out around the school about their principal’s actions.

According to Nicholas, he also suffered another consequence of the principal’s discrimination. He had submitted extensive paperwork and several recommendations from teachers for a school trip to New Orleans to assist in rebuilding efforts.

Having a long history of community service, he was considered a shoo-in to be selected to go before the incident, but then a teacher told Nicholas some faculty were afraid he might “embarrass the school” or engage in “inappropriate behavior.”

A few days later, another student who hadn’t even applied to go on the trip was selected in his place.

“We never bothered anyone or did a single thing at school that broke any of the rules,” said Nicholas, a junior and honor student. “Every day I feel like they’re still punishing me, and I’m worried that this is going to hurt my chances to get into a good college.”

“The principal’s outing of these two students to their families, classmates, and teachers is unacceptable. Its only purpose was to intimidate not only these students but all gay students at Hollis Price,” said Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director at the ACLU of Tennessee.

“Educators should be focused on educating their students and not on harassing them because of their sexual orientation or the people with whom they associate.”

School officials have already confirmed the existence of the list to the ACLU in prior meetings held in an attempt to resolve the matter privately the union said.

In Tuesday’s letter to the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners, the ACLU points out that the principal ordered the boys not to even walk or study together at school.

“This is a public high school that runs on taxpayer dollars. As such, it is part of the government and must obey the Constitution in dealing with the students entrusted to its care each day,” said Bruce Kramer, a partner at Borod and Kramer in Memphis who also is working on the case.

“This school has no business singling these boys out and taking away educational opportunities against them simply because they were dating.”


It is important to note that the school where this took place, Hollis F. Price Middle College High, is a college preparatory high school on the campus of LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis' only historically black institution of higher learning. This high school is for students who thrive in an accelerated learning environment, and it's a privilege to be accepted for enrollment. There aren't many other public school options for students from the inner city of Memphis who want to have a guided path to higher learning. Simply transferring to another school isn't a fair or valid option for either of these teens- not that they should have to do this, anyway.

While I am currently unsure of the local plan of action (if there is one), here is where to go to voice your opinions about this horrible incident.

The Principal is:
Daphne Beasley
(901) 435-1765

The school's address is:
Hollis F. Price Middle College High
807 Walker Avenue
Memphis, TN 38126

The Memphis City Schools Superintendent is:
Dan Ward
2597 Avery St., Room 214
Memphis, TN 38112
Phone: (901) 416-5300
Fax: (901) 416-5578
e-mail: superintendentward@mcsk12.net

Memphis folks, please keep me abreast of the situation. This makes me totally sick.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So, So Sad.

Seriously, what gives?

It's absolutely awful. It happened yesterday on the basketball court behind the field where we all play kickball every Sunday afternoon; it is certainly not the type of thing people in this part of JP are used to, as it's one of the "nice" (read- middle/upper middle class) areas of the neighborhood. I walked by the basketball court today on my way home from work and all these kids were sitting there yelling and moping and drinking and piling up empties in the spot where this kid was killed. They had spraypainted graffiti all over the court and on the backboards- two words in Spanish (a name?) and "BANG BANG". A bunch of people were sitting around filming and/or gawking at them, which I found to be tacky at best, and one lady had the audacity to look at me, roll her eyes, and mutter something under her breath about "those kids in gangs", as though I would return her remarks with a knowing nod or a smirk. I just shook my head at her and walked away. It was so disrespectful. Gang members or not- some sources are reporting that was a gang-related shooting- it doesn't make those kids' pain any less real or traumatic.

I admire all those kids for being able to unite and return to the spot where their friend was murdered, to reclaim their space. Let's certainly hope it doesn't lead to more violence. Those kids are certainly in my thoughts tonight and I wish I wasn't so broke, otherwise I'd drop off a case of Heinekens.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coach Cal, CDR, and Antonio Anderson were in BOSTON TODAY!??!?!?


Who says you can’t go home again?

Former University of Massachusetts basketball coach John Calipari was back in the Bay State today with a pair of his Memphis Tigers basketball players — including Lynn native Antonio Anderson.

The former Lynn Tech standout played for Calipari in last week’s NCCA national basketball championship, which the Tigers lost in overtime to the Kansas Jayhawks.

Anderson visited all three Lynn high schools and City Hall with his roommate, Memphis star Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Calipari and the players also made a stop at the Statehouse, where the coach says he hasn’t been since he sought money for UMass.

Calipari coached the Minutemen from 1988-1996.

I am so freaking sad that I missed trying to find them at the State House today!!! What the eff, dude!!!

(Why in the world did they go to the State House?)

Tomorrow I have to go downtown to run some errands and you BEST BELIEVE I will be keepin' my eyes peeled for some extremely tall dudes with some very specific tats. Maybe Coach Cal will hit up a nice Italian spot in the North End.

Tyreke Evans

Tomorrow (today, really; it's 2 AM) at 3 PM Tyreke Evans (nice old school "Sesame Street" theme song sample in that link, btw) will announce his school of choice.

Sources are saying he's headed to Memphis. Columnists are saying he should pick Memphis. I've been trying to get my mind off of the hell of last Monday night by following these rumors all week, as well as the ones about Derrick Rose now officially heading out of Memphis and into the draft.

Tyreke Evans is no Derrick Rose- i.e. he's a shooting guard, not a point guard, and he doesn't have nearly the same hype that Derrick did at this time last year- but he won't be a bad replacement by any means. At this point it looks like it's gonna be us, Texas, or Villanova. At first people were saying he'd stay local and go to Villanova, because his brothers- i.e. the men who have shaped his career, much like Derrick Rose's brothers did- wanted him to stay local. Now it looks like they want him to get the hell outta Dodge.

So with Villanova seemingly out of the picture, that leaves Texas and Memphis. If you were Tyreke Evans, who would you pick? Texas, or the team that walloped them en route to within seconds of a championship title?

When the local press in Memphis and the national press are saying Tyreke is picking Memphis, it looks good. I am hella superstitious about counting my chickens when it comes to Memphis basketball- literally, EVERY TIME IN MY LIFE I've assumed they'd win a big game, they've lost it- but this looks good.

I, however, will not jinx my team and make any assumptions.

Maybe CDR will stay if he knows he's got good support in the back court. Here's hoping, anyway.

Either way, I'm throwing the hoodie back on right now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

mi amor

Dolly was wrong. Love is not like a butterfly. Love is like dis.

Only safe for work if you have the sound off.



You know, I was seriously thinking about trying to see them play on tour this summer. I was going to call up my sister, see if she can leave the kid with my bro-in-law for an evening, and whisk her away for an experience we never got to live out as children- seeing New Kids On The Block in person. She'd probably say no anyway- she is a much more pragmatic, mature Donnie Wahlberg-type of a girl, while I was in love with doe-eyed Joey McIntyre- but it was going to be worth a try. Obviously seeing them now is not gonna be nearly as awesome as it would have been when I was nine, but I can't lie- I still get these weird, pre-pubescent fluttery feelings in my tummy when I see Joey Mac and his stupid hat with no top in their "Hangin' Tough" fake concert footage.

Either way, I felt like it was worth a shot... until I heard there was new material. And then I realized it would be a serious waste of a lot of money once I heard the first song. Why, for the love of God, are they in the studio making new songs? Here's a big, obvious hint, New Kids: nobody wants to hear the new songs. For that matter, we never even cared all that much about the songs themselves in the first place. It was all about the unbuttoned vests over t-shirts, the rat tails and the floppy haircuts, the baggy pleated pants, the muscles (or, in my favorite New Kid's case, the severe lack thereof), the frenetic dancing and the choreographed finger-pointing. It was about impressing into my long-term memory that Joey's favorite female singer is Anita Baker, and that his favorite beverage is water with a twist of lemon. Basically, it was all about obsessing on something seriously idealized and, honestly, fucking bizarre. While this is certainly a reunion I've eagerly anticipated throughout my adult life, this isn't a freaking Smiths reunion we're talking about here. Former Blockheads are not going to this show to see where Danny Wood is at artistically these days. We're going so we can start squealing like we're eleven year olds again and feel no shame about it. And, honestly, we're going so we can gawk a little.

Maybe I'll go to their Boston concert, but probably not. There's something to be said for seeing them perform in their hometown, but eh. I mean, eventually I'll stop into some store on Centre Street and run into Joey picking up a carton of milk like everyone else in JP has, and that will be enough for me. I'll be sorry that I'm wearing frumpy clothes and look like a hot mess, but I'll get to fulfill a childhood dream come true. For now I'll just comfort myself by remembering the time that I pushed a stroller past Joey's childhood home on Orchard Street, and a man standing outside who looked a hell of a lot like an elderly version of Joey Mac started singing a Frank Sinatra song to my todder friend and me. The first thing I thought was, "Hey, I remember, Frank Sinatra is Joey's favorite musician of all time."

"Secret Lives Of Women"

My roommate and I are both pretty obsessed with the WE tv show "Secret Lives Of Women". The title is pretty self-explanatory; each episode has a different theme, usually of a socially deviant nature; during the episode we meet some women who identify with its theme, and we get some insight into what their lives are like. Past episodes have included cutters/self-mutilators, women with obsessive-compulsive disorder, polygamists, sex workers, and lipstick lesbians. This weekend we watched a new episode with Sean called "Fetishes And Fantasies". One of the women featured on the show is Kailey, a woman who lives her private life as a two-year-old adult baby named Baby Ella.

As with most "Secret Lives Of Women" episodes, Kailey gives a spiel at the beginning about how she's normal by day, but lives her "secret life" by night. When Kailey is Baby Ella she wears footie pajamas, sucks on a pacifier, plays with her dollies, and has a daddy who feeds her peanut butter ice cream when she's good, but spanks her when she colors on the walls.

I'm very open-minded about fetishes that don't hurt people, no matter how out there they may be. I say, more power to those wacky adult babies. I wouldn't wanna sit around all day in a dirty diaper with a pacifier in my mouth, but if somebody else does- dude, totally go for it. That is not my problem with Kailey. What I find disturbing is that during the day, Kailey works at a day care center.

It's not that I think she's a pedophile; I highly doubt it in fact, because she's wrapped up in the mentality of BEING a baby, not sexually objectifying them. But if someone identifies with babies, are they the best people to care for them? She seems to have a pretty warped idea of what babies are like. Two-year-olds aren't even babies, really- they are toddlers, and they are some of the most complicated, stressed-out human beings in the world. They don't just get to lay around in their cribs all day drinking out of bottles, receiving nonstop positive attention and playing fun games. They are constantly struggling to verbalize their feelings and be understood by adults. They tire and become frustrated very, very easily. Toddlers are delicate, complex little humans.

I spend four to five days a week working with toddlers, and it's the most physically and mentally challenging job I've ever had. Even though I get to do fun things like have dance parties with the kiddos, take them to the zoo, and color pictures all day long, it's not a cakewalk by any means. Every toddler has a different vocabulary, and every toddler becomes frustrated by different things. Every toddler has a different standard of cleanliness, which means that I have to remember that while one child will happily bury her hands in a bowl of potato soup, another may have a freak out if his face gets dirty. Some toddlers are terrified of strangers. Some are afraid of climbing too high on the jungle gym at the playground, or of climbing the stairs without feeling my hand firmly clasping theirs. And while I'm focusing on all of this, never turning my back for a second, trying to teach them about the world, indulging each kid in their favorite song, favorite animal, favorite crayon color, etc- I'm also making sure they don't come near the stove when it's hot, changing diapers all day long, and spending ten minutes putting on coats, hats, and mittens. I'm comforting them when they break down in tears because Mommy left, because they tripped over the toe of their shoe, or simply because they didn't have a long enough nap.

I started doing this job because I love kids and was specifically interested in toddlers. Now I do it because I fiercely love each of the kids I nanny for each week, and would do pretty much anything in the world for them. I don't do it because I want to live vicariously through toddlers. I'm not sure I can say the same for Baby Ella. In fact, I'm very curious to know if she still has her job after the airing of this episode.

See more of Kailey/Baby Ella here-

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

NBA Draft-talk time.

It's time to move forward.

After spending almost two whole days consoling myself with tears, memories, phone calls, two cans of Miller Hi-Life, photos of kittehs with funny captions, and a bag of goldfish crackers, I'm almost ready to move on. I'm not ready to turn on the news or, god forbid, ESPN quite yet, but I can start letting go. I think.

Seriously, the kitchen is a wreck and I can't tackle it. It's my turn to buy household essentials- coffee, cat litter- but I can't drag myself out of bed on my random day off, because I was up until 5 AM writing about the Tigers and fretting about the Tigers and, well, just being really, really sad. Also, I really wanted eggs this morning but my roommate eated them, and because I'm so sad about Our Tigers I would rather just mope about the eggs than go down to the corner store and buy more.

(I love eggs. Love them. If someone wants to win my affections, leave my mailbox full of eggs a la the Tic Tacs scene in Juno. Just package them very carefully, or hard boil them first, cos egg goo all over my magazines and Netflix might actually work to your disadvantage.)

So I'm gonna be all theraputic and write about the draft. Granted, I am 1. Not Yet Ready To Focus On Anything Sports-Related Other Than My Tigers, and 2. Not The Biggest NBA Fan In The World. If there weren't Tigers surely being drafted and if there weren't a possibility of at least one of them staying in Memphis via the Grizzlies, I wouldn't even be writing this. So this will be all about feelings, with a little strategy thrown in.

(I make no claims to be an NBA expert. Mostly, I've just cleaned their players' and coaches' bathrooms at my old job.)

For the first time since it happened, I am entirely overjoyed that Darius Washington Jr. decided to declare early for the draft in 2006.

Darius Washington will always be one of those Memphis characters who will be emblematic of how unlucky our program- hell, our city- has always been. He was (is) a talented kid who helped lead Memphis to the Elite Eight in 2006: but unfotunately, he will always be remembered for this moment, where his missed free throws cost Memphis our only shot of making it to the NCAA tournament that year. His decision to declare early for the draft ended sadly- he wasn't drafted in either round, nor was he picked up as a free agent. He ended up playing in Greece last year, then covered for Tony Parker of the Spurs for a few weeks earlier in the season, but that ended quickly and they didn't even send him back down to the D league. Now he's back in Greece, presumably trying again to get picked up by another NBA team.

Had he not left when he did- had he stayed with the Tigers and been a part of last year's team that made it to the Elite Eight, but may have gone even farther with him at point guard- he would have almost certainly been drafted by the NBA last year, maybe even in the first round. He wasn't patient, he got too cocky, and it blew up in his face.

There are a couple of reasons I'm glad he's gone. For one thing, I think that had they had D-Wash, as we called him, running the point during the 2006-2007, the hole we needed to fill at that position wouldn't have been as obvious and Cal probably wouldn't have been as desperate to find a perfect point guard: i.e. we may not have ended up with our magical missing piece of the puzzle, Derrick Rose (although D-Wash wasn't a true point guard in my opinion, but that's another story). Also, who wants to see a kid stay with a team when he doesn't want to be there? Nobody wants a half-assed point guard.

But mostly, I'm glad he left when he did because his story serves as a cautionary tale for our current Tigers who aren't ready for the draft but may be itching to declare early. Out of the Tigers' five starters, only two are likely to be back next year- juniors Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier. Neither are ready for the NBA, least of all Antonio, but either of them could get a little cocky and declare early. Fortunately, both of these kids played their freshman year with D-Wash at point. They remember.

On another note, did anyone watching the CSTV coverage of Memphis all year think it was extra creepy that they had Darius Washington's #35 jersey on display in the glass locker in the background all year long? Maybe they cursed us.

I shoulda been at the Deli.

(From my Yelp! page.)

Champion's Sports Bar & Restaurant

Categories: Sports Bars, Restaurants
Neighborhood: Back Bay

110 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 578-0658

So let's say you're trying to pick a sports bar to watch The Biggest Game Of Your Life in. Your team is playing in the NCAA championship game for the first time since 1973. They've never won before. It's huge for you, your family, your friends, your hometown. You have waited your whole life for this.

You randomly decide on this place.

So then let's say that upon getting there you find a bunch of other fans to buddy up with, which is a nice surprise considering that you're homesick as hell right now. Let's say that you ask if you can switch tables so you can sit with these people. Your current waiter, a very cool and understandable guy, is ok with it; the psychotic waiter in the section you want to sit in says no.

So finally after bribing him- first with guilt trips about how this is the moment you've waited for your whole life, which doesn't work and gets an eyeroll, and then with actual money- you sit down with your new friends. You're excited, because The Game Of Your Life is about to begin. You sit down at the one empty table in the area. Psycho Waiter says that nobody is allowed to sit in that table, ever. You say that, as a former waitress, you understand how seating assignments and table numbering goes, but you would really like to sit down and is that okay? Psycho Waiter says nobody is allowed to sit in at that table. It remains empty.

So you stand, and the place starts getting packed for the game; meanwhile, that fucking table remains empty and every time someone dares to sit in it, Psycho Waiter comes back and starts hollering again about how Nobody Is Allowed To At That Table Or In Those Chairs, Ever.

But you're not gonna let it dampen your spirits, because your team is gonna WIN! Everybody is so excited! This is our year, finally!

And let's say this group of fans happen to be from a city where we're born and raised with particularly strong accents, and people with the aforementioned accents are unfairly stereotyped as being moronic, lazy, slack-jawed, and inbred. Let's say this city is, oh, Memphis, Tennessee. Let's say that the large majority of people there are apparently in town for a conference for the children's cancer hospital and research center where they work and are staying in the hotel where the bar is located, but Psycho Waiter still treats them like they're idiots. No, better yet- Psycho Waiter treats them with contempt.

Let's say the game is finally starting, and the starters are running out onto the floor. Let's say that as they're galloping out with expressions of joy and glee on their faces that you want to impress upon your memory for the rest of your life, as soon as the most important player this year (Chris Douglas-Roberts! Memphis Tigers! #14! GO TIGERS GO!) runs out onto the court and you all start cheering, Psycho Waiter comes and stands in front of your tv set, blocks your view, starts waving his arms in the air, and says the following:


You miss it.

Let's say the game begins and you're watching every move like a hawk; Psycho Waiter keeps haranguing you every time you don't have a drink in your hand. Let's say he harasses you enough times that you finally switch from beers and order a Jack and Diet just to shut him up so you can watch this extremely close and intense game, and he asks you- "Will that be a double?" Hey, guess what Psycho Waiter? If I wanted a double, I'd ask for one.

Then he brings your drink, and it's the weakest Jack and Diet you've ever had in your life. But whatever, Psycho Waiter is off of your ass. Then your friend arrives and wants to order a drink, but Psycho Waiter is nowhere to be found. Lovely.

Then let's say your Tigers totally have the game locked up, but somehow let it slip between their fingers. Let's say that you're so devastated that you can barely hold yourself up and in a moment you'll basically have to be shuttled out the door by your friend and forced not to gape at the red and blue confetti raining down on the screen. Let's say that before this happens, despite the obvious horror and disbelief and pain that is emanating from your face and your lips, Psycho Waiter comes up, gives you that now familiar haughty look of contempt, and asks you one last time- "Jack and Diet?" Just to make you feel that much worse.

I could understand this behavior at a restaurant or even a regular bar, but this is THE BIGGEST COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAME OF THE YEAR, IN A SPORTS BAR, IN A HOTEL FULL OF TOURISTS WHO WANT TO WATCH NON-LOCAL GAMES. Thanks, Psycho Waiter, for making my miserable evening that much more miserable. If my Jack and Diets had actually had any alcohol in them, I probably would have just proven your redneck stereotyping of me to be abso-fucking-lutely correct and straight up smashed my weak-ass Jack and Diet over your head, then puked on your shoes.

Gangsta Boo knows the deal about the Tigers.

And she said it best in this blog entry:

Next year our remaining Tigers will come back a lot wiser, and they'll be hungrier than they were this year.

A lot hungrier.

Listen. I know what you're thinking- we're almost definitely gonna be without Derrick Rose. We're probably going to be without CDR.

We'll be without Joey.


Seeing all the pictures of Joey standing at the podium today thanking the city for loving him so much, with his head hung so low, looking everything other than huge and beastly for the first time ever: it fucking killed me. I had some teary moments before, some of those classic "one manly tear wiped away before the kids could see" seconds here and there throughout the night and today, but seeing Joey standing there like that gave me the sobs.

Even if we win a championship next year or in five years or in ten years, it won't be Joey's.

So yeah, notice my conflicting emotions here. I want to be positive. I want to be optimistic about the future. But it literally torments my soul to see My Boys standing there looking so miserable and guilty, like they did something wrong because the championship trophy they were holding onto during the last two minutes of regulation literally slipped through their enormous, nimble fingers.

As though they hadn't tried as hard as they could.

As though they hadn't done that all year long.

These thirteen college-age kids, most of whom aren't even Memphians, brought the entire city together despite our famously severe race and class divide. And they still felt like they owed us something, that they had let us down.

It just breaks my heart.

And I want to be positive, to tell my friends and my family to keep their chins up, but it's so hard when I can't even entirely do it myself.

I don't want to leave you with the words that douchebag frat boy dads and wannabe white G losers exchanged with me at the gym where I take the kid I sit for to playgroup.

So I will leave you with this, because it's all I have right now.

But it's something.

Yesterday I had time to burn before the game so I walked around downtown Boston beforehand, trying to use up some of this nervous energy that's been accumulating all weekend- hell, all year. I walked past one of the charter schools down there, and a bunch of teenage guys were standing outside of the school talking shit and holding basketballs. As I walked by, one of them went "Holy shit! Look at that girl!" I thought they were trying to holler at me, so I picked up the pace.

Then they all started screaming.

Turns out they were looking at my hat.


I turned around and threw my fists in the air, then ran back down the block to high five them. "YEAH! YEAH YEAH YEAH! GO TIGERS! YEAH YEAH!"


So these thuggin' ass basketball playing black kids, and me with my heavily-accented cracker ass: for about ten seconds we were jumping up and down together in the middle of a major street in downtown Boston cheering for our Tigers.

And when it was over and I walked the rest of the way down the block, I ran into some of their friends and it happened again.

This never would have happened two years ago, or last year. I suspect it never would have happened any year other than now.

The tide is turning. And while you'll definitely hear commentators and columnists and writers reverting back to their original racist, classist theory that our Tigers are a bunch of street ball playin' thugs who are too moronic or undisciplined to run plays, we have some new friends and allies; kids who play ball in the same streets of Boston where Antonio Anderson grew up know Memphis now. And they seem to love it.

Like it or not, the Tigers are no longer a local phenomenon. We're national, baby. Coach Cal recruits players who polarize the general public: playground ballers, kids who look like they single-handedly keep campus area tattoo shops in business, goofy boys who get in club brawls and- most famously of all- wind up in a heap of trouble for standing on bars and makin' it rain. Instead of calling for them to be disciplined or expelled, we fall head over heels in love with them- because wow, they sure are a lot like we Memphis kids are, aren't they?

So who would you rather have pulling for the Tigers? A bunch of yuppies who sit on their couch and root for the same boring Big Ten and Big 12 schools every year, or inner city kids all over the country who watch TV, see themselves in our Tigers and decide that it's better to play ball like them than to sling rocks on their corner?

I know whose side I'd rather be on.

Let's keep it up, Memphis.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

my body hurts so, so badly.

I can’t stand up straight. Part of it is physical, because all of this stress and tension and emotion has literally manifested itself as horrible muscular pain. And, of course, part of it is serious dejection.

I thought, in those last three minutes before we went into overtime, that we had it.

I counted my chickens.

Sometimes when I walk down the street streetlights flicker or go on and off when I think of certain things or get angry or sad. Tonight literally every second or third street light went off. One of them sizzled out with this loud pop and made sparks.

But you know what, Memphis? I know that electricity can’t be gone. The city can’t lose this unity and this fever over one loss. We are still 38 and 2. We are still a city of folks who united over the fact that the entire country was judging our basketball team for having tattoos, for talking in thug slang, for being from the inner city, for wearing their hats to the side.

Basically, the whole country thought we weren’t shit because our Tigers are black- and stereotypically so at that. And we stuck by them and we defended them and we pulled for them to win it all. And we didn’t do this because we wanted to win. We did it because we knew it was fucked up and wrong.

We did it because we fell in love, and because that love made us question everything we’ve ever had drilled into our heads. And if we were wrong about "these types of young men", we might just be wrong about everything else, too.

It might just be time to let some shit go and to move on.

Don’t forget about this, friends. Don’t forget about how far we have come in a handful of months.

Don’t drop the ball. Please.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My Tigers.

This was one of my favorite songs to listen to when I was the tiniest of little girls, twirling around on my dusty back porch in the blue sequined tutu that my grandma sewed for me. We had a jukebox that sat propped up against the yellow wood-paneled wall, underneath our bathroom window in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi. One of my first ways to show that I could read and write was to punch in my favorite songs on that jukebox. I quickly learned that A5 was "Hound Dog"; A7 was "Great Balls Of Fire". And somewhere in the Cs and Ds, baby Robin found the Stax.

I was raised on Carla, Al, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Johnny, and, above all, Otis. I'm pretty sure I spent every warm day before I turned four watching my mama and my daddy sass each other back and forth with "Tramp", indulge their sad side by hollering "Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)" while carefully turning over racks of ribs on the barbecue, and, my God, wailing the saddest of sad songs while the fireflies blinked out the rhythm and the cicadas chirped the bass. God bless 'em, I love my mama and my daddy, but neither of them are vocally brilliant. Nevertheless, they howled those songs like patriotic Memphians. Sober or partying, night or day, weekend or weekday, they sang their hearts out all summer long. When I was a choir kid I never had to be coaxed out of the cruel trap of getting stuck singing in the back of my throat or the inside of my sinuses. I never understood what that meant, because I just hollered. I hollered and I hollered and I hollered. I hollered until I passed out from feeling like my lungs were going to turn inside out and roll out of my mouth.

Reaching up on that jukebox and punching in an Otis song was a bit of an internal dare. Otis challenged me. I didn't understand love or loss yet, but I knew that just hearing the sound of his voice made me feel like somebody was punching me in the gut hard enough to knock the wind out of me and send me flying. I literally fell to my knees every time his voice emanated from that thing. I was naive, but I was studious. My tiny ears listened attentively, and I heard him hit about thirty different notes in one second. I tried to warble like Otis into my portable tape deck, but it never sounded right. I couldn't wrap my academic little brain around it. I smashed my face against the wasp nest-covered speaker of that jukebox, but I couldn't replicate what I was hearing no matter how hard I tried.

Twenty-plus years later, I totally get it. I completely understand how he made his throat do what it did. Otis was vulnerable enough to completely stop controlling his voice and to let it go where it needed to go. Otis was the co-pilot, and his heart and soul did the steering.

This performance is widely regarded as his most brilliant, and it was supposed to be what propelled him to fame and glory.

He died in a freak accident four months later.

This just seems to be how things go in Memphis.

Today it is time for that tide to turn. GO TIGERS.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Into The Wild" is lame.

I just finished watching last year's critically acclaimed "Into The Wild", directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch. I thought I'd like it a lot, because any movie about traveling tends to be at least vaguely magical to me, but I really, really do not.

This film is based on the story of a young man, Christopher McCandless, who grows up in an affluent household, graduates from Emory University in Atlanta and decides that he wants to drop out of society and travel around the country. He gives away $24,000 to OxFam in the form of a cashier's check and hits the road, neglecting to keep his family updated on his travails. The film skips around a bit, alternating between showing him on his various journeys, his frantic parents and sister wondering where the hell he is, and his final journey in the Alaskan bush where he eventually starves to death.

It's basically your typical story of a rich white boy who adopts a silly, inappropriate moniker (in his case, "Alexander Supertramp"), sets a pile of money on fire (literally) and bums off of people who are nice enough to take him under their wing along the way- and by virtue of his privileged and sheltered life he has no idea what the fuck he's doing. He gets a pretty brutal beatdown from a guy working security in a train yard because he doesn't know how to hop trains. He drives his car into a flash flood because he doesn't know how to drive around them. And finally, he starves to death in the Alaskan bush because he went out there with nothing but a field guide to edible plants.

I am tired of watching film after film about self-indulgent rich white boys who graduate prep school and/or college, decide they're bored with their position in society, and go on these ridiculous journeys toward self-enlightenment. Sean Penn basically puts this kid on a pedestal, romanticizing and slobbering all over him like he's Jesus or some shit. Meanwhile, as a working class woman who would pretty much kill for the pile of money he burned in the desert, I just rolled my eyes the entire time. What kind of moron goes into the freaking Alaskan bush in the dead of winter without a map or proper supplies? What kind of a cruel asshole just disappears off the face of the earth without telling his family where he's going, much less sending them postcards from time to time alerting them to the fact that he's still alive? The film tries to make a case through flashbacks that he had a traumatic childhood and was attempting to escape it, but it doesn't look too much worse than anybody else's I know.

The most painful part of the movie is watching Chris shoot a beautiful moose, hack it into pieces, then letting it rot because he has no idea how to cure the meat. What a waste of a life- two lives, really.

Justin Timberlake was a dork.

Everybody in Memphis who is between the ages of about 25-30 either has or has heard some crazy stories about the childhood of Justin Timberlake. For example, the security guard at the women's clinic I used to volunteer at went to elementary school with him in Millington and says that he had terrible acne, used to play basketball with the girls cos the boys didn't want him, and signed his name in big bubbly handwriting. That's funny stuff, considering how cool he allegedly is these days.

So it is with great pomp and circumstance that I present this video that my friend Sarah dug up at her mom's house awhile back. I think it's friggin' spectacular. Although I'm the hugest Justin Timberlake fan in the world, I find myself perpetually annoyed by how he tries to claim the musical heritage of Memphis as his own, or as something he's had some part in creating or nurturing. Not so! The boy is a Garth Brooks-loving, two-stepping hillbilly from Millington at heart.

The best part is at the end, when he receives his award and gets all flustered and drops his hat and doesn't know what to do. It's pretty adorable.

About Me

Jamaica Plain, MA, United States