Pussy Riot, Hello Kitty Activism?

The reception of exPussy Riot members  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina after their release from jail has been the most bizarre event. First, it seems much of the public thought they were musicians and not political activists or performance art activists. Since they are both attractive women who embrace western cosmetics they have been treated like activists-lite or since they have been called girls, sexual, and such, Hello Kitty activists. Tolokonnikova was a philosophy major with work in theater and performance art.

Pussy Riot a radical feminist, separatist, anti capitalist, anarchist group is sufficiently strident that if two male members had rushed the church, been jailed, and released the public and news would have displayed them  differently. Masha Geeson contextualizes  them within prison activism.

Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, by Masha Geesen, is an instant classic, destined to take its place with Solzhenitsyn’s writings about the Gulag, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, and Jacobo Timerman’s Prisoner Without A Name, Cell Without A Number.

The most ludicrous moment in the book, however, occurs not in Russia but in the West, when musicians like Sting and Paul McCartney bestirred themselves for the few seconds it took them, or more likely their personal assistants, to tweet their disdain for Russia’s behavior.

How great the courage gap between Pussy Riot on the one hand and the fat and happy rockers who tweeted their moral outrage and then went back to their delightful lives.

The sexualization of  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina is wildly entertaining. What activist wouldn’t get thrills on multiple levels yet be dismayed. Do they need to growl and spit to look scary and real?

Tolokonnikova: Well, if I am a sex symbol, it’s certainly not in the classic sense. I’m opposed to the traditional image of a woman’s role. But if someone finds our Spartan and combative performances sexy, like the one in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, that’s just the way it is. No one can claim that our protest in the church coincides with the classic image of women.

SPIEGEL: You make a point of looking good. Even in the Plexiglas cage in the courtroom, you were always wearing makeup.

Tolokonnikova: So? Men should also pay attention to their appearance and occasionally use cosmetics. I support equality. Everyone should feel free to live out the parts of their personality that correspond to the classic male or female image.

Tolokonnikova protested in a church over religion but she is not an overt atheist.

SPIEGEL: Do you believe in God?

Tolokonnikova: I believe in fate. And in the depths of my soul, I am an Orthodox Christian. I think the New Testament is especially important. What Jesus and his disciples preached and did was a great thing.

They were protesting the collusion of church and state.

At the time, I was determined to do something against the alliance between the Kremlin and the church, and in our opinion the Cathedral of Christ the Savior seemed to be the best place for that.

Imagine a legal trial where you can’t mention a name.

Yet during the trial all mention of Putin was suppressed, making it clear whose name was really not to be taken in vain.

Colbert has the only decent interviews (part 1 & part 2 on Hulu) so far. It’s a better Colbert interview–he met his match.

Jim n

What’s a Selfie in East Baltimore?

Whether “selflies” are indulgent or the modern portrait is too distant in “Too Poor for Pop Culture” where D. Watkins shows money is access to popular culture. As the middle-class swoops down to new depths be prepared to return to radio, dumb phones, crap comfort food, and disinformation. You won’t know what you’re missing.

“A yo, Michelle was gonna beat on Barack for taking dat selfie with dat chick at the Mandela wake! Whateva da fuk a selfie is! What’s a selfie, some type of bailout?” yelled Dontay from the kitchen, dumping Utz chips into a cracked flowery bowl. I was placing cubes into all of our cups and equally distributing the vodka like, “Some for you and some for you …”

“What the fuck is a selfie?” said Miss Sheryl.

“When a stupid person with a smartphone flicks themselves and looks at it,” I said to the room. She replied with a raised eyebrow, “Oh?”

It’s amazing how the news seems so instant to most from my generation with our iPhones, Wi-Fi, tablets and iPads, but actually it isn’t. The idea of information being class-based as well became evident to me when I watched my friends talk about a weeks-old story as if it happened yesterday.

Money make the difference between participating in popular culture or not.

Dontay cleans nonstop. Roaches sleeping in the fridge, roaches relay racing out of the cabinets carrying cereal boxes, purchasing homes, building families, slipping through cracks for fun and weaving in and out of death — Dontay bleaches them all. Dontay doesn’t take handouts from us and won’t go on government assistance. He couldn’t contribute to the chips and vodka that week so he’s cleaned for Miss Sheryl and would clean for Miss Sheryl even if there were no chips and vodka.

“Chips and Vodka” Everybody just trying to get away. Better chips and vodka than a smartphone or iPad. If you wonder why…

Eventually the mass death of my close friends caused me to leave the drug game in search of a better life. Ten-plus years and three college degrees later, I’m back where I started, just like my card-playing friends: too poor to participate in pop culture. Too poor to give a fuck about a selfie or what Kanye said or Beyoncé’s new album and the 17 videos it came with.

I bought Beyonce for the sake of research and it weirdly rocked me for several days of indoor food preservation work while dealing with cold weather and holidays. First time I have bought an album within a week of its release–just hit “Buy” in iTunes. I didn’t even write about it, yet. That album is three days of chips and vodka. Listening to “Drunkin Love” or “Flawless”  doesn’t do the same thing

You can’t even comment on your own existence much less hear of others when chips and vodka poor. Urban Amish. Urban neoluddites  unable to break apart the machines taking their jobs away–or know what the hell a luddite is. I’ll send them a selfie of one.

Jim n

Checking Out Dudes in the Shower

Jonathan Vilma, is afraid a gay team mate would check him out in the showers? Are you freakin kidding me? This guy goes out and pounds people into rubble and is afraid he’ll be looked at for sexual reasons? This is why, this is the cataclysmic reason to bash and exclude?

Vilma represents that male population most likely to treat women like shit in sexual objectification and abuse–ok, that’s why. He knows what it is to give it and doesn’t want to get it.

It would be good for him to be in a team of boy-boy gay football players where he is only one of a couple of hetero’s, the other closeted.

Better yet maybe if he actually had male friends he’d get over the sex and nudity thing. If relationships create bridges then his best bet is a boy buddy. Once he’s trained, umm, had a relationship, he can stay or go back.

Jim n

I Can’t Watch the Debate

I just tried again to watch the debate… I got past Ham and got to Nye and that was it. It was either continue and throw up or stop.

I haven’t felt such a visceral effect since reading Nausea where Roquentin is overwhelmed by the portraits objectifying him and the world in their opressive stares.

It is a personal choice to engage in a debate.

We need communication on all levels.

This is really scary.

Jim n

German Bishops Pine for Obedience

In a Monty-Python inspired movie about a rabbit that kills people, the current pope puppy is most charmingly deferential, as if all can come to church. Well, yes but only come to church. The Eucharist, Heaven, Christ’s Presence? I don’t know, are you divorced? Have you had an abortion, use birth control, are gay, philander, or simply not willing to voice Christ is your savior?

German bishops are concerned too. The pope is sending the wrong message.

Since his election last March, Pope Francis has hinted at possible reform on divorce and at a more welcoming approach to homosexuals. But he has stressed he does not want to change core Church teachings such as the ban on women priests.

Hell, any of those are show stoppers for me but no women priests? Why would anyone care–rather women must be able to speak in this venue! Does this inanity of tradition have to be survived as Oprah says about racism in some?

The German bishops suggested the Church should move away from what it called its “prohibition ethics” of rules against certain acts or views and stress “advisory ethics” meant to help Catholics live better lives.

In a so-Catholic rhetoric the bishops say to advise not prohibit. I can almost hear William F Buckley softly hiss those words out as a pean to genteel and properly-educated charity, as hiding a really big stick.

The Trojan Horse was a beautiful sight. It inspired the eyes and hearts of those who knew not the wily ways of Greek warriors. Trojan leaders saw the hollow, wooden statue full of Greek soldiers as charity and recognition of superiority. Trojan people loved the beauty, grateful for peace…

Jim n