On Bald Women of the ’90s

I recently wrote about the preponderance of bald women in 90s pop culture for the website Neon Splatter. Here’s a brief blurb:

“The unisex and gender-neutral styles circa the ’90s…squashed gender into a singularity – a futuristic monogender made for an efficient tomorrow. It was an attempt at hurdling over gendered codes and modes by disregarding them. The consensus there could be read as: ‘We’re all basic in the future.'”

Head on over to Neon Splatter to check out the rest.

“Go Woke, Go Broke” and the Right’s Antipathy To Empathy

Conservatives have a long history of couching their cruel policies in bubbly branding. It was the right’s self-proclaimed “Moral Majority” that launched the war on drugs, ostracized AIDS patients, and demonized black women. It was “compassionate conservatism” that slashed food assistance, fought women’s rights, and banned same-sex marriage. (Actually, both did all of that and more.)

Branding aside, in all cases conservatives led by the GOP claimed they were enacting policies for the greater good, often leaving out “this will hurt you more than it will hurt me.” But those days are over. Today the right makes no secret of their exclusionary, ignorant ways. Now they loudly, proudly proclaim, “go woke, go broke,” a rhyme scheme that reveals the depths of their disdain for their fellow humans. They have no empathy and brag about it.

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We Need an “Era of Good Feelings” II

Remember the “Era of Good Feelings” from elementary history? The Era of Good Feelings was a period between 1815 and 1815, when James Monroe and Democratic-Republican Party trounced Rufus King in the 1816 election, thus ending The Federalist Party’s long run as top dog in American politics. It was the first time one political party took over for another.

Federalists and their allies were pissed, of course, but they let the transition happen, holding back their bitterness for the sake of the country. Everyone wanted the nation to expand. Thus, they were mature and put aside their egos for the greater good.

Americans of that era knew the peaceful transition of power was essential not just to good governance but to the entire American experiment. They knew partisan politics was beside the point.

They had to show the world that our revolution would be maintained. So, rather than peddle conspiracy theories or trying to rain on Monroe’s parade, the Federalists and loser Rufus King bottled up their feelings and went about the business of government. They didn’t criticize the other party; they put on a happy face and did their jobs like adults.

In this era of remakes and sequels, can we get another Era of Good Feelings? No one’s asking you to be happy, folks – please, just pretend, for the sake of the nation.

Microfiction: “The Light Endures”

Siobhan plodded barefoot across the dark cabin’s earthen floor.

Last night’s embers still blushed amid the stove ash. Siobhan placed dried hay atop the amber mounds and blew until the bundle ignited. Liam would expect breakfast when he returned.

Siobhan sighed as she mixed the biscuits. This isn’t what she envisioned when Liam implored her to America: a sod-walled, grease paper-windowed, one-room shanty plopped on a frayed Nebraska plain.

She hurried outside to watch for him. The night sky was dissolving into a blotted, bruise-like dawn but one solitary, tenacious star still lingered, burning bright.

Siobhan made a wish.

(Image by Carol Highsmith.)

A ‘Medium’ Experiment

Just a heads up: I’m currently transitioning In Case You’re Interested over to Medium.

It will have the same historic and political slant as this version of the site, plus the addition of interviews, more comic book coverage, and potentially some short fiction. We’ll see. We’ll also see how long this move to Medium lasts – could be brief or could be forever. Only time will tell!

That said, please visit my new page over at Medium. I’m still moving content over and hope to have it all together by the end of the week. Again, we’ll see.

Thank you for your support so far!

Times Square at Night, 1908-2018

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I avoided Times Square when I lived in New York. Most of the city’s residents do – the Square’s too crowded; it’s too loud and bright and far too commercial. That was my general opinion for years, and still is, more or less. But right now I’m missing it.

I didn’t come to appreciate that garish tangle of streets until last year. I returned to the city for a work trip and was put up at a hotel on 46th street and 8th avenue, not far from an AA meeting I enjoy and a few doors down from the Scientology HQ, which I didn’t even know existed. Mel Brooks was performing two buildings further east, closer to 7th avenue and the runoff of Times Square proper.

It was the perfect summer night for a stroll. The Square was as white hot bright as ever; it was chaotic and cacophonous. A replica Back to the Future DeLorean drove by and life-sized cartoon characters jostled for change as a light drizzle fell. It was past 11, but despite the hour and weather, people were still everywhere, strolling, hustling, and gawking – thousands upon thousands of the reasons I once bypassed the so-called Crossroad of the World at all costs.

Today those crossroads are quiet as the Big Apple continues battling the pandemic. As my own lockdown continues I find myself wishing I could be back in the time before, right there in Times Square’s throbbing center – and I’m sure other people do, too, even New Yorkers.

Until we can be there, here are 23 images of Times Square at night, all taken between 1908 and 2018. A lot happened in those 110 years – two world wars, a Great Depression, some recessions, HIV, 9/11, the Great Recession, a super storm, and a whole lot of other shit – and Times Square stood strong: a tinsel testament to humankind’s tenacity and audacity; a glittering epicenter for all people. It will be so again, and will be for decades to come, come hell or high water, for better and for worse. And I look forward to being in the thick of it.

Scrollable version of the slideshow below.

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The Cat and The Corn Dog: A True Fable

 

Impatience is my most persistent character flaw. When I was younger, fantasizing about future successes, or even just eager for the latest Uncanny X-Men, my grandmother, in her no-nonsense Massachusetts accent, would advise, “Slow down, baby boy; enjoy your time now.” Her advice made me more aware of my impatience, but it didn’t diminish it; restiveness remains within me, nagging when inconvenience, real or imagined, arises.

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What Would EM Forster Say About Anonymous’ Warning?

EM Forster’s best known for novels like A Room with a View and Howard’s End, but the English author also wrote extensively about politics and civil society, including an essay called “Anonymity: An Enquiry.” Originally published in November 1925’s The Calendar of Modern Letters, Forster’s piece seems relevant today, ahead of A Warning, the forthcoming tell-all by the anonymous White House staffer who wrote last year’s New York Times op-ed, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” I expected freedom of speech-loving Forster to support anonymity, full stop, but his take’s more nuanced, though perhaps not nuanced enough.

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Soldiers Writing Letters During Wartime

“Tommy writing home after battle, 1917.”

With Veterans Day on Monday, I thought it would be nice to share some images of soldiers writing home during war time. Most of the images are from World War I, with a few from the horrific sequel, and one from 1908, before anyone knew what lay ahead.

I can’t help but wonder what these guys are writing – are they easing worried mothers’ minds, regaling a lover with tales of heroism real or imagined, or are they admitting their terror to a confidant? Whatever the subject of their letters, these images highlight  the deep need humans have to communicate and connect, even as the world crumbles around them.

For other related imagery, check out this gallery of the iconic  Tuskegee Airmen.

All images are, of course, Found in the LOC.

 

“Red Cross Worker Helps British Soldier, 1942.”

 

Image Links:

  1. “Tommy Writing Home After Battle, 1917.”
  2. “American Soldiers, Chateauroux, Oct. 1918.”
  3. “Soldiers in Texas Writing Home, April 1914.”
  4. “Military Hospital Tent, France, August 1918.”
  5. “British Soldiers with Bug Nets, Egypt, 1940.”
  6. “At ease / Signal Corps U.S.A., 1917.”
  7. “Red Cross, Chateauroux, October 31, 1918.”
  8. “Theodor Horydczak writing at desk, 1920.”
  9. “Nurse Writing for a Soldier, Neuilly, June 1918.”
  10. “A Letter Home, June 1918.”
  11. “YMCA Writing Room, Nice, 1915.”
  12. “Writing Home, Fort Hamilton, 1908.”
  13. “Writing a Letter Home, Greenville, SC, 1943.”
  14. “Red Cross Worker Helps British Soldier, 1942.”