Archive for the 'Ain't That America' Category

07
Aug
14

‘Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi’

The album cover of Klaus Nomi’s 1981 self-titled debut album.

Last week, a colleague posted the following to Facebook:

Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi by sharing this video.

She says “(the real) Klaus Nomi” because her cat is named Klaus Nomi. (Not, I quickly regretted asking, “Claws Nomi”?)

But that Facebook post is amazing for two reasons. First, Terry Gross has interviewed so many people, it seems impossible that, in all that studio time, not even a passing reference to Klaus Nomi came up. Not only that, but she’s from New York City, and she was like 30 years old when Klaus Nomi was at his peak.

Second — Klaus Nomi. I mean look at him. This is the video my colleague Christine shared:

Continue reading ‘‘Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi’’

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17
May
12

No plastic to go

My vegan wrap was something of a mess that day.

I’m not vegan. Nor am I remotely a vegetarian. I just occasionally take advantage of other people’s dietary principles to find something light and low-calorie, but filling and delicious, for lunch.

I would have taken it cold, but the girl at the cafe had thrown it on the panini grill so resolutely, so automatically and with no room for questioning or debate, that it seemed unthinkable to say anything against it. Anyway, once something has started heating, you don’t want it to take it half-heated. You might as well go all the way.

When I unwrapped it at my office and took the first bite, a dried-up chickpea fall onto my desk. It left behind an indentation in the tortilla, so I guessed it had been stuck to the outside and likely had cooked on the grill that way. Probably the order directly before mine had come undone or lost a few bits and pieces as it was removed.

I picked up the chickpea and ate it.

Then I was surprised by a dried cranberry. It was stuck to the tortilla like a jewel. I took it with a bite as if it belonged there. Could I really say it didn’t belong there? No big deal.

I don’t like to be particular, but I amused myself with fantasies of a different me — one who might be bothered by a stray chickpea in his lunch and an errant dried cranberry encrusted on his tortilla. Continue reading ‘No plastic to go’

05
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: the lights

[Part 8]

This is disgusting to me now, but it would have delighted me as a kid.

It wasn’t December if my family and I were not driving around looking at other people’s Christmas lights.

We started in our own neighborhood, admiring the wild and colorful houses, and the simple monochromatic houses in white, gold, red, blue. In my little kid’s logic, I always assumed the blue houses must be Jewish. Or something. Just a feeling. I wanted to say so, but it seemed rude. I never knew any Jews growing up—at least none that I knew of.

My mom and I especially loved the ones that looked like gingerbread houses with sidewalks lined, every angle of the roof highlighted, doorways and windows lit. Our house should be like that. I studied them carefully as we slowly passed, making mental notes between audible gasps every time a new extreme came into view.

I really appreciated the people who did their trees. Those were the ones who really cared. Random placements among the branches were popular one year. Then our neighbors began to include the trunks, too. A few years later, a tightly wrapped cluster of lights on the trunk with a contrasting color densely filling up the branches was en vogue. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: the lights’

02
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: Santa at the mall

[Part 6]

It took a black Santa to introduce me to White Guilt.

My parents were savvy enough to tell me that the man in the red suit and the white beard at the mall was not really Santa but one of his helpers. I mean, you can’t expect him to be everywhere, right?

It was just a proxy. A Santa of convenience.

So, I was fine with the charade, playing along with the stand-in pretender to make my parents happy—and hoping desperately that somehow my Christmas list (compiled mainly from the Sears Wishlist catalog, complete with page numbers and item numbers,  and my subscription to Nintendo Power magazine) would find its way to the real Santa’s fulfillment department.

I never much liked sitting in Santa’s lap, but I also don’t remember ever crying like some kids did. It was just strange to sit in a stranger’s lap. To smell his breath. To pose for a stranger taking my picture. (Little did I realize at the time how similar this would be to experiences later in life at the DMV.)

Let the record show, I was never fooled by the dark eyebrows of some of those impostors. They were much younger men pretending to be old men. And they probably weren’t properly jolly, either. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: Santa at the mall’

27
Oct
11

Hung up on rudeness

An old Asian man talking on a cell phone—I think he was speaking Chinese—entered the 23 bus heading north into Center City. He sat behind a black woman.

The second his cheeks hit the seat, she half-turned, never quite looking at him, and yelled to … I don’t know, the opposite wall, maybe, “I know you ain’t gonna sit behind me yapping into that thing at me!” Her eyes were wide, her lips stern.

Continue reading ‘Hung up on rudeness’

15
Sep
11

Can’t play by the rules? Change ’em.

I think it’s awesome that Republicans would rely on electoral chess to try to win an election rather than the merits of their ideas about how to help American citizens. And by “awesome” I mean “cynical, ugly and disappointing.”

Continue reading ‘Can’t play by the rules? Change ’em.’

09
Sep
11

Obama’s got game

I’m impressed with President Obama’s politicking in the last couple of weeks.

First he forces Republicans to deny a president a speech to a joint session of Congress, for the first time ever, drawing more attention to the speech. Then he has the grace to accept an alternate date, proposed by a Republican. (He also had no choice, but he still looks good.)

The pre-speech leaks did not convey the breadth of his proposals, so last night’s speech seemed even bigger in comparison.

Finally, so many of his proposals are Republican ideas, that they look even more obstructionist when they push back at the plan—especially in an environment where the public hates Congress even more than they hate the president.

The speech may have been a master stroke of election politics, but it also has the added benefit of being a helpful plan that might actually be passable—except that congressional Republicans are more intent on making Obama a one-term president than actually doing anything to serve their jobless constituents.




the untallied hours

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