Happy Birthday Me

Birthdays are a time of reflection — but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those sentimental personal pieces full of beauty and gratitude, a wistful and wise piece about aging, or even one of those sad yet triumphant stories of survival. While I have moments of deep gratitude, brief bits of wisdom, and small moments in which I feel triumph sits on the horizon like a ship I can see and might one day board, I’m still working on all those things.

Instead, this birthday is like most birthdays since I was to turn 16. That year I told my parents that I didn’t need or deserve a party; I had achieved nothing and they deserved the credit for having kept me alive. Today I feel rather the same — only with a much heavier sense of futility. For in 48 years, neither the world, my status in it, nor my feelings about it has changed much.

I was born on June 21, 1964; I joined this world, as Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney left it. My mother’s screams may have been dulled by the twilight sleep of that time’s hospital deliveries, but I passed through the same veil, entered the ether echoing with the agony, pain, and fear of those men, their families and friends, and all who possess any shred of humanity… And I have lived in a country filled with those sounds and the stink of racism ever since.

I was born white; but such privilege doesn’t preclude the ability to know how wrong racism is, to hate what separates and enslaves.  …To feel the futility of such efforts even to educate that we the privileged have an obligation to do what is right is a heavy rope around my own neck.

I was born a girl; I joined this world with my rights up for debate and my womb under the control of others men. Any progress towards equality and the right to my own person has been met with struggle, abated with state allowed terrorism, and, indeed, is being wrestled away as I sit here today. Such abuse, rape, and control by the state fills me with the same pain, indignity, helplessness, and shame as the abuse, rape, and control experienced at the hands of individuals. …And then there are the more subtle, less violent, means of control — disrespect, dismissing, muzzling, belittling, economic inequality, shaming — used to assert government control, which perpetuates the abuses by individuals.

I was born “straight”; but, like being white, I know that my privilege of heterosexuality obligates me behave as a human being towards my fellow human beings. Ostracization and inequality based on orientation &/or gender identity is still in practice, in vogue in some places. It sickens, saddens, and wearies me as if it were my own personal struggle. …Then again, since this is very much tied to male power, beliefs about sexuality, it really mirrors — nay, is, my personal struggle.

I was born without silver spoon in mouth, or nearby. My parents worked tirelessly to provide a better future for their children. It was achieved; but brief. Those born with silver services and gold flatware have worked just as tirelessly to ensure that the poor and middle class would assume their place at the feet of their economic masters. I now work tirelessly to ensure my children survive; “thrive” is a question which lies under the boot heels of social and economic masters — i.e. wealthy white men and their corrupt corporations which are allowed human status.

Survival isn’t as easy as it sounds.

So you’d think I could hang my proverbial birthday hat on that, give myself some credit for just having made it to 48.

But I am just too tired.

Too tired to even go, as is my birthday custom, and visit graveyards and cemeteries. For when I see how the nuns who gave their lives in service and faith are buried like paupers, adoringly facing the monuments of their male leaders — presumably to serve even in death, I cannot bear the energy such emotion evokes. Not even when I see that the little cement slabs which mark where the nuns lay are less lavish, less cared for, than the markers for the never-born, the aborted. Really? Are female lives given in such service worth so little that they must still be treated as less-than virtual beings, ideas of beings?! It’s all just too-too much.

A lifetime of so little progress is just too much.

Borders Bleed & Blow My Mind (Thoughts On Context)

Sometimes history is thought of as it is taught: In separate chunks. But history passes, weaves, and certainly is attached and connected to time — the time behind it, the time before it, and simultaneously to persons and events which, even in attempts to understand and reclaim, we have neatly severed into subjects and categories.

History and culture isn’t simply a matter of dates or compartmentalized periods. The subject of context isn’t merely one for writers, bloggers or content curationists, i.e. photo or image with research or text story, properly credited, for real readers. Context is even more than the object, person, or event in cultural context of what came before it, what came after it. Context must include what and who are contemporaries.

For example, do you think of opera legend Marian Anderson and artist Frida Kahlo as contemporaries? As friends even? Most probably do not.

[About the image: Marian Anderson and Frida Kahlo with Diego Rivera, Miguel Covarrubias, Rosa Covarrubias, Ernesto de Quesada and others in Mexico, 1943.
More astonishing than this photo which went wild on Tumblr is the video.

The video is silent home film footage of that same trip, from the Penn Libraries Marian Anderson collection, A Life In Song, use of and upload to YouTube approved by Nancy M. Shawcross, Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania on June 19, 2012.]

For in our (admirable) attempts to reclaim lost stories of Black Women and Hispanic Women (groups who have felt marginalized from Feminism and Women’s Studies), separate stories emerge. Separate stories may narrow focus, provide an ease for our brains (which many falsely claim are over-stimulated and bombarded with information; information overload is a myth) tasked with absorbing information, but so many separate stories not only lead to false notions of separate lives issues (which fosters a sense of competition, risks alienation, and further divides what is Us), but removes the full complex beauty of cultural context.

Oxford University historian Dr. Cliff Davies, in his discussion of the myth of the Tudor era, describes this compartmentalization of history as “seductive” and helping “to create the idea of a separate historical period, different from what came before and after.” I say this seduction also includes the temptation to remove the context of contemporaries. And that it ought to be avoided. Even in an age of working to create filtered focus.

Even when you have multiple blogs, collections, and curated topics — each with its own focus, there is likely to be some overlap between them. If you are aware of and include context with your collections, there will be, ought to be, some repeated content and objects across collections. Even those with the most dedicated focus.

I consider this to be not redundant overlap but more connections, yet another layer to your stories. Practically speaking from a marketing approach, it is another way to find more readers too.

And another way to blow their minds.

Facts & Questions on Blogging, Curating & Collecting

How Much Data In A Minute?

I’ve been getting a lot of “What the heck is curating?” questions, largely in response to my request for votes (“Likes”) on a topic I’m curating at Snip.It, but also because, despite what Forbes has to say about it going mainstream, content curation is a rather “new” thing. I had thought I’d done a rather good job of defining content curation here, but either I haven’t or people haven’t read that post. But that’s OK too, because it gives me a chance to go into a bit more detail.

Content curation is to magazine and newspaper publication what blogging has been to writing or journalism: A digital-age means of self-publishing which is primarily based on platforms (software or code) available to anyone with access to the Internet.

The big names in blogging platforms or publishing software are WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc. In content curation, you have Pinterest, Scoop.It, and, my favorite, Snip.It (RIP). These content curation platforms are not the first; but like Facebook, which improved (and capitalized) upon the early social networking sites which came before it, these three curation sites are emerging as the top dogs. (Also like Facebook, these content curation sites have social networking aspects — and they do connect to social media, including Facebook at Twitter.) And it’s merely a matter of time before you somehow become involved with content curation sites; be it by curating, subscribing/reading, or, as some forecast, using curated content topics as your search engine.

But what does that mean? How is that really different from blogging? And why on earth would we need another means of adding to information overload?

Firstly, information overload is a myth. Humans have always had far more information and media available then it can devour. (So as not to get too far astray, I’ll send you here for more details on that.) Even if the push of media makes it seem worse, such technological shifts in our relationships to information are, as James Gleick, author of The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, “part of the evolution of the species.” The true problem is, or remains, that of how an individual human can find what he wants or separate the good from the bad, i.e. a filter.

And that’s where content curation comes in.

Content curation is the process of sorting, arranging, and publishing information that already exists. Like any collector or museum curator, content curators identify and define their topics, select which items to include (and often how they are displayed), while providing the context, annotations, and proper credits which not only assist their readers but identify themselves as more than interested but invested; a leader or an authority.

Content curators are being dubbed “superheroes” (by Steve Rosenbaum, author of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators, and others) because content curators are saving humans everywhere from the skill and drudgery of finding and filtering themselves. Rosenbaum even says that people will pay “for clarity, authority, context, and speed” of finely calibrated filters.

If this all sounds a lot like what you (or others) do as a blogger, it just may be. Many bloggers spend their time selecting what they consider the best of what other people have created on the web and post it at their own sites, just like a magazine or newspaper. Or they provide a mix of this along with writing or otherwise creating their own content.  Not to split hairs, but curation involves less creation and more searching and sifting; curation’s more a matter of focused filtering than it is writing.

Because content curation is expected to be based on such focused filtering, it begins far more based on topic selection. This is much different from blogging, where bloggers are often advised to “just begin” and let their voice and interests accumulate over time to eventually reveal a primary theme. Perhaps the best way to ascertain the difference is to consider this in terms of collecting styles.

Some collectors just collect what they like as they stumble into it. In fact, many collectors, including myself, began this way; letting their collections evolve until a definition or purpose seems to reveal itself. …Sometimes, collectors just keep piling up stuff, no matter what it is. Even if this isn’t hoarding, it’s not-so-much of a purposeful pursuit. But professional curators, those who manage collections for museums or other organizations, and serious collectors, they maintain a specific focus.  And rather than stumbling into items, they continually seek for specific items. The definition dictates the curation — and everything from funding to their continued employment is based on how well their collection meets the collection’s definition.

While blogging success may be thought of in many different ways, the success of content curation lies in how well you define, search/research, and stick to your subject.

Image Credits: Data Never Sleeps infographic via Domo

Curating For You; Vote For Me

[This post has been sitting in “draft” format for so long, I’m actually embarrassed! Perhaps it sat so long because I’m too embarrassed to toot my own horn?]

If you follow some of my other blogs, you know that I’ve added “content curation” or online collecting to my blogging activities. My favorite site to do this is Snip.It — and not just because I earned an Honorable Mention for my Vintage Living Today For A Future Tormorrow collection in their Earth Day contest. *wink*

Now Snip.It has a History Contest:

Make a Snip.it collection all about your favorite period in history (anything from The Enlightenment to Pre-colonial America to Gen X) for the chance to win a new iPad loaded with goodies from Inkling. We’ll evaluate the collections based on depth and range of sources (dig deep!), your captions, and Facebook likes.

You can enter a collection and snip into it anytime between now and when we choose a winner on Tuesday, June 19th.

More details here.

Whether you enter or not, please visit my Herstory collection — and if you like it, please hit the Facebook “Like” button and even subscribe. Thanks!

What The Beck??!

Part of my job is to keep an eye on auction news, so believe-you-me, I was not looking to do a story on this, but…

Heritage is the auctioneer service for Mercury One & Glenn Beck Charity Auction.

Instantly the name Glenn Beck raised my eyebrows.

The twin arches of suspicion only grew as I read more.

Some of the items include a trip to Israel, a scholarship to Liberty University, unique art and backstage passes to a Ted Nugent concert, to name a few. Bid to help Mercury One improve the human condition with malice toward none and charity toward all.

Can Ted Nugent’s name even appear near the words “malice toward none”?! No, of course not.

Mission One: One Mission Under Absurdity, With Misery For All

Does anyone even want to win pay for a scholarship to Liberty University? Uh, I guess… It’s America, land of the free, so if folks want to pay to remain woefully ignorant, I guess that’s their right.

Perhaps most importantly, what the heck is Mission One?

Something-something about charity… Something about how NASA is now “nothing more than a public relations firm.” The obligatory Tea Party dig at the Occupy movement: “We must not occupy but organize; not revolt but rebuild. This is our unique moment in time, a calling for the ‘silent majority’ to rise up and stand.”

Umm, when have the evangelical conservatives been anything other than the loud minority?

But really the mission — the one mission — of Mission One is this:

Be prepared for anything, be prepared for all.

Our goal is that each and every like-minded citizen does everything they can to be prepared for whatever may come. Prepared for emergencies, both big and small, natural and man-made. Have the food storage, medicine and necessities available, not only for your family, but to share with others in your neighborhood, church and community. Mercury One will act as a guide to mobilize Americans to assist each other as well as first responders: physically, emotionally and spiritually. We must give a hand up and not a hand out, while caring for the elderly and nurturing the young.

If that doesn’t sound apocalyptic-scary, how about it being followed up with “Rebuild, rebound, rebirth…”

Of course, Mission One thanks its sponsor, the National Center For Constitutional Studies: “A study of the United States Constitution from a principle based approach.” Their principals are not the real principals. Reading all this propaganda has me thinking that never before have the words “Founding Fathers” sounded so tainted.

Please do not bid.

Thoughts On Gypsy Rose Lee

I recently, again, watched Natalie Wood’s Gypsy (1962). While the film is stunning — as rich & saturated in period color as it is fashion and sex appeal, I’m always moved by the story.

Yes, there’s the somewhat dated camp we now expect of a vintage musical movie, but along with the comedic moments of dancing cows and the suspended belief required for any drama to contain people breaking out into song (often with dance), there’s a story. What made me go back and watch the film again was what Peter Burton wrote in his review of Noralee Frankel’s Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee:

Like the musical, Stripping Gypsy is dominated by Rose Hovick, Gypsy Rose Lee’s overbearing mother. But whereas the Rose of the Broadway show is a larger-than-life and bullying archetype of the stage mother determined that first one daughter and then the other would become a star, the reality was grimly different.

“Rose’s mental illness, emotional brutality and overt bisexuality were not the stuff of a Fifties musical,” explains Frankel in the preface to the book, surprisingly the first ever biography of the star. Nor had Rose’s more glaring character defects been a part of Gypsy Rose Lee’s autobiography, from which the show had been loosely drawn. Frankly she was a monster, entirely without redeeming qualities.

A native of Seattle Gypsy came from a family of strong women who had little use for men. Her grandmother married young, believing that marriage would give her freedom. She spent much of her life as a travelling saleswoman, marketing hats and lingerie to women in far-flung logging and mining camps.

Rose also married young – she was 15 and used marriage to escape her convent school. Once intent on a stage career of her own she soon diverted her ambitions on to her daughters and created a musical act built around June, Gypsy’s younger sister.

When June defected also by way of an early marriage Rose turned her attention to her eldest daughter who soon became Gypsy Rose Lee. A legend (fostered and burnished by the star in press interviews and self-penned articles) was born.

Perhaps it’s not fair to compare the Broadway musical with the movie version. But then Burton isn’t the first to make such comparisons; his was merely the most recent I’d stumbled into. And what always strikes me most about these sorts of comments, that the telling of the story for entertainment purposes isn’t properly expressing the grim realities — of Gypsy Rose Lee (born Rose Louise Hovick in 1911), or anyone else’s — life.

Obviously, entertainment, be it film or live theatre has it’s own unique bumps and grinds translating the real story with what people will pay to see. (See this week’s episode of Smash, when the audience fails to enjoy the show because — shocker! — Marilyn dies at the end.) But for me, the real issue has to do with our current level of expectations with the storytelling in movies, television programs and other shows.

We (the collective cultural “we” that does not include me) can no longer handle subtle. We need to be hit over the head, we need to be spoon fed every little thing, and we need it to be as graphic as an explosion.

Maybe you have to have some personal experiences with mental illness, abuse, alcoholism and the like in order to feel the sharp “grim realities.” …But that can’t be true, for if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years is that no one can really be free of these sorts of situations. We have them. We feel them. But when it comes to films and storytelling as entertainment, so many of us can’t trust them on the screen unless they are worse than what we’ve felt or can imagine.

Not me.

I find many of the scenes in Gypsy difficult to watch. I feel the pain, the losses. I feel the embitterment, the waste, even in the triumph of success.

Gypsy Rose Lee may be, arguably, the most famous striptease artist; but for me the story is tainted. Not by the shame or dirt of sex; but by the shame and dirt of a mother’s cruelty — which is sad it it’s own way too.

In my opinion, no biography or even autobiography is ever capable of exposing the whole truth.

But for me, Gypsy, even as a musical, exposes enough of The Truth to be powerful. As a result, I cannot even look at these vintage black and white photos of Gypsy Rose Lee (take by George Skadding for Life) and not have them tinged with the color of the exhaustion of triumph over sadness. But sadness remains just the same.

My gawd, how does anyone ever form relationships, mother, after the sort of mothering Gypsy Rose Lee had? So much hard work. …But there are hints of this in Gypsy, if you care to look for the subtle signs.

I Can’t Decide If I’m A Nerd Or A Geek; Maybe It’s The Gender Bias

Click To Read

I don’t suppose it matters, really, if I am a “nerd” or a “geek.” But this “Geeks vs Nerds” infographic got me thinking…

First it was just the statements in the infographic itself. Like, does the “geeky” fact that I collect cancel-out my extreme “nerdy” interest in academics — does the volume of what I all collect tip the scales enough to outweigh the fact that I have a PC, not a Mac?

And what about the way they made each type look? I guess you could say the “nerd” dresses less fashionably. Heaven knows I’ve not only had my own style, but rather eschewed trends, and that’s only increased as I enter crone-dom. I suppose that nerd look could be seen as the look of a less social person… But when they go so far as to depict a “nerd” as having the need for orthodontic treatment — I mean a true need, because that guy looks like he can only roll round food against those teeth to get anything into his mouth — the whole effect is one of slovenly unattractiveness.  An ugliness that affects health even.

But all that self-identification stuff seems to take a backseat to the fact that this infographic (and the sites where they sought the information) talk about Geeks & Nerds in terms of their maleness. Not just depicting them as males, but using traditionally male characteristics as defining points or categories.

[This sort of gender bias is rampant in diagnosing autism too; such as topical obsessions which limit (or dominate) conversations — something far more pronounced in boys than in girls, leading to less girls diagnosed and identified as needing services. (This could also be due to the fact that dads are more involved in the parenting and lives of their sons than their daughters; and that too could partly explain higher divorce rates of parents of children with autism.) But I digress.]

For example, how this geek vs. nerd infographic uses science fiction film as a tell.  Sci-fi is more beloved and iconic for men — to the point where so many men fear the extinction of the true genre due to “liberalism” and feminism. Yes, a lot of women like sci-fi, fantasy genres, gaming, etc. — but it’s rampant with male privilege and sexism. Honestly, do the “strong women” really need to be limited to Fighting Fuck Toys (NWS)? And what’s up with marketing pandering to a male audience all the frickin’ time.

Meanwhile…

Where are the other options for more traditionally female genres of films? Just look at the (white) male-centered film section on the infographich and note the absence of female stars/characters.

Of course, you can argue that the movie industry is still struggling from the film code which damaged films. Especially those movies for and about strong or even interesting women. But that only makes this girl geek or girl nerd’s point. Include classic film, especially pre-code film (NWS), along with the sci-fi, because that’s a perfectly “specific niche interest” and/or “academic” thing to offer here.

Other examples would be to include cooking gadgets with computers and tech gadgets; knitting and ASCII art with screen printing; researchers, librarians, curators, museum and library sciences with the other careers — in fact, where did all the bookish things, once so nerdish and geeky, go? Nerds and geeks read, dammit. (The truth is, stressing gadgets, technology, omitting books, etc. not only precludes women, who earn less money then men, from making the grade — but is racist in application as well.)

We don’t want a “geekette” or “pink nerd” option; we want y’all to recognize that females are geeks and nerds too.

When I mentioned to hubby how this whole “gender biased infographic for geeks and nerds thing was sticking in my craw”, his response was to mock me and say, “I doubt that was their intention, Dee.”

I love you, hubby, but that was spoken like a true person of privilege, i.e. a man.

Because that’s my whole point about gender bias, sexism, racism, etc.: Privileged people so “naturally” dismiss other people.

In other words, geekdom and nerdiness are the white man’s world; women (and non-whites) need not apply to this boy’s club.

This seems to be exactly the problematic thinking behind the “brogrammers” problem, and why we shouldn’t be asking, “Why aren’t there more women in tech?” or science, but rather “How do we change the culture to be friendly to women?”

Obviously is starts with including women in the Geek Vs. Nerd debate, however silly, geeky, and nerdy that may seem.

The History Of Driving While Black

I’ve written before about why I don’t collect Black Americana; as a white chick, I don’t feel I have the right to document such history. (I’ll stick with documenting women’s lives with my collecting, thank you.) But since collecting the history of oppressed people intrigues me, I really enjoyed this article about David Pilgrim’s collection which will soon be on display at the grand opening of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia on April 26th at Michigan’s Ferris University.

I love a good story about collecting, and Pilgrim’s begins thus:

David Pilgrim was 12 years old when he bought his first racist object at a flea market: a saltshaker in the shape of a Mammy. As a young black boy growing up in Mobile, Alabama, he’d seen similar knick-knacks in the homes of friends and neighbors, and he instinctively hated them. As soon as he handed over his money, he threw his purchase to the ground and shattered it into pieces.

But it get’s really interesting when Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an Atlantic senior editor who wrote the piece and interviewed the collector, asked Pilgrim about his progression from destroying the objects to collecting them:

I went to a historically black college, Jarvis Christian College in Texas, and in addition to teaching the usual math and science, our professors would tell us stories of Jim Crow. One day, one of my professors came into the classroom with a chauffer’s cap. He set the hat down and asked what historical significance it had.

Now, the obvious answer was that blacks were denied many opportunities, and chauffeuring was one of the few jobs open to them. But that was not right answer. He told us that a lot of professional middle-class blacks in those days always traveled with a chauffer’s hat. The reason: If they were driving a nice new car through a small southern town, they didn’t want police officers, or any other whites, to know the car belonged to them.

I remember that story so vividly. No object has any meaning other than what we assign to it. But that was an incredible meaning to assign to an object that, on the surface, had little to do with racism.

This is not only proof of my theory about using collectibles to teach, but it shows just how old the problem of Driving While Black really is.

Seeing God In A Tree

[This is a repost from January 30, 2002; since that site’s no longer around, I thought I’d recycle it.]

This whole column started when I watched the news… I know, I know, the news never bodes well for me… But this story got me thinking…

A lady in my state of Wisconsin has the image of Jesus in her tree. This seemed an absurd news story to me — after all, just how does this affect my life? And the bigger question: So what? Doesn’t everyone see their version of God, or the beauty of spirit, in nature?

See God In A Tree

I don’t see God in this (poor) photo. But I am not a skeptic when it comes to spirituality; I see & believe in miracles on a personal level. I just don’t understand why some folks need to have such a literal message to be inspired.

 

I think this is a huge case of not being able to see the forest for the trees (or maybe I should say: not being able to see the beauty for God).

I guess that is my problem with folks in general. I know that true religious or spiritual growth is not of material things, they are of the soul. Therefore, I realize that I cannot buy my way into heaven, nor should I enjoy the physical world & ignore the needs of spirit. But, the physical world and spiritual enlightenment are not mutually exclusive.

In many religions, like Hinduism for example, the stages in a man’s life are dictated by age & experiences. First he must be a child, then be a husband/provider, and then, when his children are grown, he must leave all the trappings of home, including his family & wander, homeless, to find God. This seems perverse, but ultimately, one first conquers the world he lives in, then un-learns it all to master the enlightenment of the soul.

God or Spirit has sent us here to learn. Part of that involves the tools of the physical world. And, this maker or guide, has taken great pains to make sure our physical realm is full of beauty.

To ignore that beauty, to not drink it in & let it inspire & touch us, well that is a sin in my book. As Alice Walker wrote in ‘The Color Purple,’ and I paraphrase here, “it really pisses off God when you walk by the color purple and not notice it.”

I guess that is one reason why I try to fill my world with beauty. It is not simple vanity, or a materialistic need to own, but to really connect with, to have my senses filled with the beauty of spirit. In the many days of testing, growth, challenges I face in this world, I need to keep my connection with spirit alive. To be mindful of the glory that is here. To feel the joy of the wonder of spirit/nature/God/Goddess.

And in nature particularly, I see not just the raw beauty of the ‘object,’ but the essence of the spirit of the being, and the glory of the lessens in its own path or life.

So, in returning to the lady with Jesus in her tree, I guess I feel sad that this is the first time she has really seen her tree. And I realize, with a heavy heart, that there are so many like her…

Perhaps, the world today would be a more joyous one if people everywhere truly looked at every tree and saw their own image of God in it.

Driving Female Victims Crazy

Women, report rape, get labeled as having a mental illness. This isn’t only something that happens in the military, you know; it’s just easier to document this group of women and to hold an institution accountable. At least we hope it will be easier to hold the military accountable for this! However, the rest of us who are victimized aren’t officially given a psychiatric discharge to track.

If we live to tell of the abuses we suffered (and even a one-time assault has abusive consequences from the very persons, places, and institutions we are taught will protect us, provide justice, and support us), we are then treated to the same devices our abusers employed: Isolation.

We are silenced, ostracized, demonized, all but abandoned by a society which would rather believe (if they believe us at all) that we had somehow deserved or at least brought such atrocities — because to think otherwise is to believe that the boogeyman isn’t some stranger under our beds, but rather the man we lay with in our beds. The resulting isolation alone is enough to depress. Yet that isn’t they type of “crazy” they’ll be satisfied with either.

Women need to be put in their place with stronger, more pathological or violent diagnoses, so that we can be even less credible, dismissed completely. We are medicated (if we are white enough) and even institutionalized. There’s a long history of this, which Karen Essex shares:

I read the psychiatric journals of the period, which prescribed bizarre treatments for ladies who were “hysterical,” which usually turned out to mean that they were “excitable in the presence of men.” In many instances, the desire to read all day or engage in intellectual studies, were also regarded as symptoms of mental illness in the female. Young women were committed to asylums for doing cartwheels in mixed company, for desiring sex with someone other than one’s husband, or for staring seductively at a man. Most behavior that showed spunk, spirit, or sexual need, was pathologized.

All sorts of harrowing and torturous cures were developed to “settle” these women – restraints, forced housework (to help them remember their true natures), repeated plunges in ice water, and force-feeding, to name a few. As mental illness in females was thought to originate in the womb, doctors also were obsessed with menstrual cycles, figuring that if a patient’s cycle could be regulated to a strict 28-30 day cycle, the “illness” of wanting to have sex or read books all day, would disappear. Not coincidentally, an irregular cycle was also considered a sign of mental illness and required treatment.

If pure “spirit” or too much personality at odds with a man’s opinion is a problem, just imagine what daring to accuse a man will do to upset the apple cart.

(Absurd medical practices based on the thought that a woman’s menstrual cycle has any connection to her existence in utero, or manipulation of the former can correct the latter aside… If mental illness in women originates in the womb, just try to get insurance to cover that preexisting condition!)

But wait; there’s more.

You can be among the more fortunate of us and have escaped assaults, abuse and violence and still suffer. As I’ve asked before, in a social world of politics & legislation which tries to control us & our bodies, how do we keep perspective, how do we honestly keep our sanity in this mess?

Is simply being a woman in today’s society a reason why so many women, more than men, are medicated? I can feel a reason why more women in my age bracket of “over 45” are feeling crazy– as Angela Davis notes, 40 years later, and so many issues for women’s equality still have not been resolved.

Perhaps this why there’s something called feminist therapy.

Techniques that are used by therapists include helping the client understand the impact of gender roles in their lives, to provide clients with insight into ways social issues affect their problems, to emphasize power differences between men and women in society, to help clients recognize different kinds of power that they possess and how they and others exercise their power.

If your insurance will pay for it, of course.

Oiy, and before anyone whines or complains; I don’t hate men.

What’s Wrong With OWN, Why Rosie O’Donnell’s Cancelled, & Why That’s Bad

I once was an Oprah fan. I even went to a taping of her show once with a group of friends, one of whom had a cousin on the staff, so we saw a bit more than perhaps the regular guests do/did. I was then impressed with her not-on-camera persona, chit-chat with coworkers (when I’m certain she didn’t know we could hear her) and her professional and kind decision not to air that actual episode because one of the young girls broke down and became too upset to remain on stage. But my affections for Oprah, as well as some respect, left when I experienced domestic violence and, like other survivors such as Alessia, who has written about this herself, discovered how willfully ignorant Oprah wishes to remain on the real issues of domestic violence.

*heavy sigh*

But I should try not to get off task.

A few days ago, Oprah announced that her television network, OWN, would not be renewing Rosie O’Donnell‘s show. This made me feel sad. I don’t know Rosie, personally, but I’ve always enjoyed her shows. Even if I didn’t watch more than three episodes of this latest TV show of hers (put a pin in this; more on it in a bit), it felt nice knowing Rosie was on the air. But my sadness turned to anger when I heard the comments about Rosie and OWN struggling too. Not just the ones made by the namesake of Trump’s Syndrome; that trash talk is expected. No, I was more offended by statements like, “Oprah fires Rosie: Seems another liberal network is failing. Gotta be racism or bigotry against fat women,or fat lesbo’s or something.” (A screenshot here, just in case said thread disappears; and to document the “supportive” comments in agreement.)

Now, you ask, how can I complain about such attacks when I took a shot at Donald Trump myself? I sure can dish it out, but I can’t take it, right?

Wrong.

The Donald’s hair is something which could be managed, should be managed, but the man apparently loves it as much as the attention it gets him. And while I have poked fun at his appearance (and that of his ill-fated children), I didn’t use that dislike of his physicality to deride the man’s character, his ability to be successful, or devalue him as a person. (I really don’t have to do that; in my opinion, Trump does most of that himself every time he opens his mouth in front of the media — and he pushes his way to microphones a lot.) The man is not his bad hair; his bad hair does not equal his worth in terms of money or his value to society. This is normally how it goes for men. Excluding gay men, of course; they, whether they like it or not, are treated like women because they aren’t considered to be “real men”.

In addition to our labels of female &/or gay (quite often said with sneers if not using out-right slurs), we women, gays, lesbians, trans and bi folk are all judged on appearances. It’s more than just some male-gaze objectification reducing us to sex parts. We are our weight, our hair, our appearance and our non-male status — and those things are the reason why we are failures, things of little worth or value.

Now back to those things we put a pin in, beginning with my “Trump’s Syndrome” comment.

Yes, that statement at GetGlue is proof that I watch Celebrity Apprentice — even as I’ve admitted to not having watched much of Rosie’s. How might I reconcile that, at least to myself? Well this is where we pinned that first point.

While I do tell myself that Celebrity Apprentice is an exercise in studying human nature with the benefits to charity, it’s really a guilty pleasure — one that benefits from being a major network show; I am reminded often to see it while watching other shows on that channel. It’s not just that I’m some mindless sheep “the media” controls, but the fact is there are benefits to being part of a major network’s programming. For example, there are times when I “watch” a show because I’m busy researching or writing and not concerned enough to change the station, times when I just continue watching a channel because I like what comes on next and I don’t want to miss it, etc. These realities are the fundamental problems Rosie had with her show and why the whole OWN network is struggling.

There’s just not enough good programming on OWN. And I’m not the only one saying so. Here’s a screenshot of OWN’s main page with comments such as these:

archtop1
Posted: Thu 3/22/2012 10:14 PM
Like many others, I am so sorry to see the Rosie Show go. It was almost the only show I watched on OWN. I can’t believe the shows that Oprah has chosen to be on her network. This was supposed to be a channel that would lift us up, but it has shows like unfaithful. It was supposed to be fresh but it has endless reruns of Dr. Phil.
I have loved Oprah tor so long and I wanted her channel to succeed, but I’m so disappointed!
O, where are you?

balinda135
Posted: Thu 3/22/2012 9:44 PM
I’m a big fan of Oprah, and certainly want OWN to succeed, but there is almost nothing I want to watch on OWN at this time. It seems odd that Oprah, who is all about living your best life, has so many shows on her network about people in prison, people cheating on their spouses, murder, etc. None of that appeals to me. And to be quite honest, the Master Class series puts me to sleep, and Oprah’s new show where she goes and interviews people like Steven Tyler are a yawn as well. I think she needs a break from interviewing. Last year my favorite show was the “Behind the Scenes of the 25th season of the Oprah Show”, and I loved the Shania Twain series and Addicted to Food. Also the special Julia Roberts did where she interviewed interesting women. I attended the O Magazine conference in Atlanta in October and that was fantastic – inspirational and motivating. I know these are two completely different formats, but I don’t feel OWN is delivering the types of programs that appeal to your former viewers and magazine subscribers. Give us some Ali Wentworth, or Maria Shriver doing profiles on interesting women, like her interview in the magazine with the female poet. And mix in some new talent as well – not just your tried and true circle. You can do it, Oprah!

[I had no idea about some of those shows — sorry I missed a few of those. But then, since I’m not watching OWN, how would I know or remember?]

When I first heard Oprah Winfrey was going to start her own network, I may not have been the most excited person on the planet… But I was hopeful that it would have good shows. It’s own good shows. Negative comments on what it does air aside, the network lacks dynamic shows. I don’t mean the faux action and tension of “reality shows,” but good solid shows women want to watch about issues that matter. And Oprah needs to move past who she was in terms of her old show and those coaching shows like Lifeclass and Master Class — it feels more condescending than inspiring. Especially when sprinkled between such other “ick” pandering programming.Frankly, Oprah, your network’s shows run dangerously close to treating your stated target market like their physical and psychological attributes and “female” status — when you’re not feeding us crime shows or reruns of stuff we feel we could see anywhere, anytime. And that’s uber disappointing from a woman. Even if I’m not your number one fan, I want you to succeed, Oprah!

Listen, Oprah, a lot of your audience is older — we’ve been-there-done-that with you already. And younger women? Hell, thanks to you, Ms. Winfrey, they’re past what used to be too. It’s not (just) the Internet and new media that challenges you here for audience attention; it’s the old thinking.

If there’s one thing that the Internet should be teaching everyone in media today, it’s that, like the origins of newspapers, the productions of original thought — even if opinionated and “slanted” but with the integrity to disclose itself as such — gain followers. Why not focus on the one thing a woman’s network should never shy away from: Feminism. I don’t think I have to tell you that I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh’s idea of feminism; but what’s wrong with taking a stand for the equality of women and giving us intelligent programing rather than approaching us like we all need the tv equivalent of chocolate for our periods? (Lifetime annoyingly already covers that.)

Go get Joy Behar; her show was aces but suffered between mindless HLM fear-mongering-hype drones. (Oh, the agony I endured just to make sure I wouldn’t miss my Behar!)

Give Roseanne Barr another talk show; her’s was one of the best ever but ill-suited to daytime when so many of us worked then. (I still wish I had that Mary Daly interview on VHS — why did I tape over that??!).

And then reinstate Rosie O’Donnell, let her have the show we need from her, and you’ll have a trifecta!

(Dare I dream you get Rachel Maddow and I might give up MSNBC completely in favor of OWN!)

As for what you do with the other hours of the day, well, I’ve got long lists. Have your people contact me. I don’t have people. …Well, I have family, but please don’t leave messages with them. Just email me direct at Deanna.pop.tart@gmail.com and I promise I’ll reply asap.

Amber Tamblyn: Hero

Amber Tamblyn: Hero

I’m no celebrity stalker; I can rarely identify an eighth of the folks plastered on the publications which stare at me while I’m in the supermarket check-out line. But I rather like Amber Tamblyn. Even if, right now, I can’t name that one police drama show she had… I like it, it was with that guy… Oh, never mind; I need to get to the dish.

Up to this very moment, one of the things I’ve liked best about Amber Tamblyn is saying her name.

Amber Tamblyn.
Amber. Tamblyn.
AmberTamblyn.

It’s musically delicious, the way it rolls off the tongue.

Turns out girl’s got more than a musically delicious name and actress chops in a pretty package; Amber Tamblyn’s got a grand sense of humor — and more.

When actor-musician Tyrese Gibson confused Amber Rose Tamblyn’s email address with that of Kanye’s ex-girlfriend, model Amber Rose, resulting in Tyrese asking Tamblyn via email if she wanted to record an album with him, Amber Tamblyn ran with it. Not only in a series of email exchanges but Amber Tamblyn laid down some serious demo tracks.

Called The Tyrese Sessions, these are amazing hardcore feminist rap songs which I would happily pay for. Hint-Hint, Amber. (“Tamblyn,” she whispered like Brick Heck.)

For now, we will have to settle for this woman’s poetry.

The Power Of Shared Experience In Music

Trini Lopez

I’m no music aficionado. I like what I like. But I have to hear it first. Which means I’m not such a fan of music reviews.

Music reviews always seem so foreign to me… Using words to describe music? What’s next, writing a musical arrangement as a review of a book? Yeah, yeah, yeah, we use words to communicate; so even if music is communication in-and-of-itself, we use words to define it, explain it, sell it, share it. I myself trust what I hear.

So why, then, am I reading Simon Sweetman’s Blog On The Tracks — let alone adding “him” to the sidebar?

It’s not just our mutual love of Trini Lopez, or even vinyl. It’s because Sweetman makes me think thinky things.

In considering the value of music, records, and music collections — tangible objects which help keep music from being too temporal — there’s an elusive emotional component which is hard to put a price on… Yet it’s largely what makes music so important. It’s the power of the shared music experience.

The original joy of music was once a primarily shared experience. Folks gathered around fires, singing together — maybe a few slapping a thigh or smacking a rock or whatnot. But there was no level of “good enough to participate” in terms of pitch or talent or anything. And you can easily argue that even the lone hunter whistling or humming was recalling that tune from some earlier social feast when the group shared a melody.  There was no professional musician then. Those guys and gals would come later.

And when they did, music was still about a shared experience. Not just in the Sing Along With Mitch way either. If you don’t believe me, get thee to a concert sometime. Or even your local watering hole — it needn’t have a live band, just a jukebox will do — and you’ll hear people singing (somewhat) along with the song, or slapping their thigh or whatnot.  For that matter, how many times a week does your neighbor share their music selections with you via the unnecessarily loud volume? How about those cars which you hear approaching by the distorted vibrational boom of blasting base? In fact, folks today with their isolated musical experiences of earbuds will not be silent in their solos; they must share. Even if you cannot hear the song selection itself play, you are forced to hear your coworker scream-sing along. Or at least you think that’s what they are doing… You can’t actually identify the song, even if you can decipher the lyrics, but you’re pretty sure that’s “singing.”

The very fact that music with lyrics is the most popular type of music reinforces this notion of the power of shared musical experience; we want to participate by singing along.

The shared music experience is powerful. Congregations are built upon it. Relationships strengthened, and breakups survived, via those mixed tapes (which have not disappeared but merely moved to MP3 playlists). Even if the kids resist it at first, they come around to the power of shared musical experiences — even with their parents. That’s pretty compelling evidence.

I Read, I Write: The Kitsch Slapped Link Round-Up

A link round-up of what I’ve been reading and writing — not all of it, just the stuff I think you Kitsch Slapped readers might like.

What I’ve been writing:

What Girl Scout Cookies Fund

I wrote about the Girl Scouts celebrating 100 years, which reminds me of this graphic some anti-Girl-Scout, control-all-the-wombs, misogynistic self loathing person made. It’s supposed to make me not buy the cookies. But in fact, had me double my order this year. My hips can totally carry the extra weight; I can’t bear any more attacks on women and women’s rights.

I’m talking about celebrity deaths in terms of capitalism, collecting, and class.

Silent film fans, those who like to collect vintage beauty items, and those who like to consider beauty pageants and/or gender issues may be interested in Of Valentino, Mineralava Beauty Pageants & Pink Powder Puffs.

And I’m back at Collectors Quest, so check out my columns.

What I’ve been reading:

Big busted women talking about bra minimizers and breast reduction surgery; myth and bra busting with facts and insights.

Victorian sex tips, for men and women. It may or may not all be true; but it’s amusing in a twisted sort of a way.

Some facts and collecting tips on Rudi Gernreich’s No-Bra Bra (for Exquisite Form).

The strange and intriguing tale of the “tits tee” begins here, folks!

This I actually read in hard copy — belatedly. Having grabbed a copy in November when I was seeing family for the holiday, the paper remained tucked inside my suitcase until I got home and after unpacking it, plopped it onto the magazine pile. Anyway, it’s still a fabulous read: Daughter Thinks It’s Time To Have Sex Talk With Parents.

Cool Winter Events To Deal With Cabin Fever

Despite what the official website doesn’t say, Jay & Silent Bob Get Old will be here in Fargo on March 6th — I know, ‘cuz we got tickets!

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith will be at the Fargo Theatre to kick-off the 12th annual Fargo Film Festival. (Yes, we have a film festival here in Fargo; no, we don’t just watch Fargo.) If you can’t make the Jay and Silent Bob show, don’t worry; the duo will be recording a podcast during the Fargo appearance.

I don’t know where you live, but there’s something going on where you live too…

How about going to see Daughters Of Lot and making me green with envy?

Want to participate, more than just watch? The Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery is seeking female artist/creators and collectors of kitsch from the Mass and Boston area for a group showing March 8 through April 13, 2012, called Everything But The Kitchen Sink: Women Create and Collect KITSCH.

Work sought in varied media including 2-D works; photography, printmaking, drawings, painting, digital video, 3-D; sculpture, installations, etc. that would be considered within the category of kitsch. …Acceptance of work will be ongoing until Feb. 29. Notification will be immediate upon receipt. For consideration of artwork to be included in promotional material, please submit artwork ASAP!

Those interested should contact Ms. Laura L. Montgomery, M.F.A., Director of the BHCC Art Gallery at 617-228-2093; or email montgomery@bhcc.mass.edu &/or artgallery@bhcc.mass.edu.

If that’s not your thing, it’s not too late to catch the gallery’s THAT’S A FACT: Young, Gifted & Black, a group exhibition of Massachusetts/Boston area African American artists under 40. Another cool Black History Month idea.

Jessica Savitch (Part One?)

I watched Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story, starring Sela Ward, tonight. During commercial breaks, I Googled Jessica Savitch. To my surprise — and major disappointment — there’s not really any website devoted to this groundbreaking woman who earned four Emmys, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, and election to the board of trustees at Ithaca College.

If you start at Wikipedia (and I never trust Wiki completely, so please only let it be a starting place), the entry on the anchorwoman pretty much follows the made for TV movie. The Accuracy Project has basic bio info, but leaves a lot to be desired as it really only presents corrections, and a handful of them at that. And there’s this bio by Abigail Griffith (Spring 2008).

Reading all of those, there are odd discrepancies which mainly center on Donald Rollie Payne, a gynecologist in Washington, DC, who was Savitch’s last husband who committed suicide on August 1, 1981 by hanging himself in the basement of their home. Abigail Griffith says that Payne “committed suicide after becoming aware of a diagnosis of incurable cancer,” while Wiki says he was a “closet homosexual.” I don’t suppose that matters much to most of us, but I’m certain these things mattered to Savitch and possibly say a lot about her (continued) relationship choices.

For something that fills in more gaps, you can try this archived article from People magazine on Savitch’s death.

And in 1988, five years after her death, a Current Affair episode in which Savitch’s family calls Gwenda Blair’s book lies:

(Worth watching for so many reasons — we can discuss in the comments!)

But for my money, the most insightful piece about Jessica I found online was this article written by Maury Z. Levy when Savitch was still a broadcaster in Philadelphia.

Since her death, Jessica Savitch’s been inducted into The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame, and the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College hosts a Journalism Lecture Series in her honor as well as named an on-campus television studio in her honor. There should be some sort of official website in her honor.

I bet Jessica would have loved the Internet, even if it/we would have had a field day of speculation and fun at her expense with the gaffes (largely exaggerated in the movie and historical footnotes) made on her last broadcast — just 20 days before her death. So someone, give her her due.

No Newt Is Good Newt

I had these buttons / pinbacks made back in the day — the early days of the gross ineptitude, racism, and misogyny of the political money-grubbing beast that is Newt Gingrich. Sold quite a number of ’em too.

Who knew they’d come back into the necessity of fashion again in 2011?

Then again, we never did quite flush Rush, either.

Like those helium poops, they just keep rising to the surface.  Ugh. And *sigh*

Thankfully I collect political items, so I just resurrect them as needed. However depressing that is.  Since Newt is unfortunately back, up to his old crap and more anti gay rights than ever, I’m selling the No Newt buttons again.

I just can’t summon the energy to get up on my soapbox and effectively speak (though I am close to a tantrum!), so go read Newt Gingrich Is A Bigot. And then mosey on over to The Maddow Blog for info on Newt— which admittedly has a search fail, so you have to trust Google for help. At least look at Rachel’s interview with Newt’s sister, Candace Gingrich-Jones.

Of Research & Tinkle Troubles

Beautiful Sybil Tinkle As A Teen In Texas

Thanks to Twitter and my friend Cliff Aliperti of Immortal Ephemera (and occasionally blogging with me at Inherited Values — nudge, nudge, Cliff lol), I was alerted to a fabulous post by author Michael G. Ankerich (I now want every single one of his books!). Ankerich’s post is right up my alley — right down to the word “tinkle” lol

Olive Borden: The Sybil Tinkle Connection includes everything I love…

Beautiful female silent film stars, the joy and anguish of impeccable obsessive research, a case of mistaken (or misleading) identity which is only partially solved… For now.

Ankerich may have proved that Olive Borden was not Sybil Tinkle (despite the perpetuation of the story long after it was corrected), but so many questions remain…

Why does mythinformation continue to spread? What is it about this legend that keeps it going? Why the mix-up in the first place?  Accident or on purpose?

And, most importantly, whatever happened to Sybil Tinkle?

I want to know because I’ve fallen in love with her.

Young Sybil was said to be the first girl in Timpson, Texas, to smoke and “often painted outdoors, clad only in lingerie.” After a disastrous marriage in the early 1920s, Sybil ran away to California where she attempted to break into the movies. “Once in Hollywood, she wrote notes and sent portraits but, after a while, the family lost touch with her–forever!” (I say, has anyone ever looked at her husband?!)

From there, the Tinkle trail runs dry. A tasteless pun, perhaps; but it also captures the essence of things for me… Researching through old newspapers and other ephemera is rather like CSI work: you can only work off of the evidence left behind and, as time passes, it’s much harder.

Kudos to you, Mr. Ankerich, for the work you’ve done, for the women you’ve introduced me to — and for leaving just enough of a mystery for me to become obsessed with.

What?!

Now What?!
Normally I talk about things. Objects. I normally don’t blog about personal stuff. Observations, experiences, yes; but I like to think of them as part of a larger conversation. Maybe even making a point now and then. But today is one of those days…

The first six minutes of my day went like this:

* Wake up; walk to the bathroom. On the way, pass dog poop. Having nothing in my hands to pick it up and having to pee with urgency, I pass it.

* In the bathroom, I find the last person to shower, the teenage daughter, has not turned the water all the way off and so it had been dripping for hours.

* I walk to “my office,” which currently is my laptop on a TV tray in front of the couch. But hubby, who was home for lunch, left his tray out, making a wall of obstacles for me to move before I could even get there.

* Once seated, I find that hubby has left my portion of the day’s mail on top of my closed laptop. It consists of a Lane Bryant clothing catalog (OK, so I’m still fat), and a promotional piece in an envelope — from Beltone Hearing Aid Service. What?! I mean I can hear just fine; I’m not that old. I just can’t believe this is the start to my day.

It’s hard enough just being a woman in this country, what with all the limits, legislational and cultural, on my person. But how do you face them all when you literally wake up to crap and the day spirals away into annoyance after annoyance?

What I’ve Been Reading Link Round-Up

1910s Version Of A Little Girl Indiana Jones

Come explore with me!

Beware Pinkwashing at The Girlie Girl Army: All about how unhealthy and manipulative buying “pink” for breast cancer awareness &/or research can be.

At Sociological Images, Google Index of Poor Mothers’ Pain: Using Google to research what poor women with children really live like, what they are in search of, what they need. (See also: Why We Vilify Single Moms.)

Sex Tips For Husbands and Wives from 1894 at Writing Women’s History: A hoot, once you get past the notions of the past that haunt us still today.

Image via Lynnstudios.

Spotting Memories In Retro Radio Ads

Still nostalgic thinking about the old days in Milwaukee radio, I’ve been hanging out consuming The Halcyon Daze (I prefer using the “classic” interface for navigation, in case you visit here, Scott Beddome — aka rock’s Scott “The Kid”). I’m particularly smitten with this post of 1984 TV commercials for radio — especially this classic WKTI spot:

Not only does it feature Reitman & Mueller, and the Booze Brothers — but that’s Warren Wiegratz on the keyboards!

Having stalked Oceans for years, I’d know. My Oceans following began in 1984 or so, when my biological sister’s foreign exchange “French sister,” Christine (Oh, so tempted to talk trash about Christine and her visit; but I will behave.), came to stay with us and she wanted to hear a jazz band. So my parents took her to Sardino’s. After an early crush on Duane Stuermer (somewhere around here I have signed ticket stubs from Duane, and, possibly, his brother Daryl), I eventually forged a friendship with drummer Ernie Adams — who’s dad, it turned out, worked with my mom. Small world. It became even cozier when Ernie and and dated; but I don’t like to kiss and tell. *wink*

Of Tailgators, Radio & Retail

This is a vintage WKTI Tailgator pinback from 1983, featuring Old Style beer. It’s mere 1.75 inches, but oh the size of the memories it unleashes…

If you’re of a certain age — and from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area — you remember this era of WKTI, Reitman & Mueller — and the uncomfortably named Jim “Lips” LaBelle.

Thinking of WKTI reminds me of the days our family ventured into the retail business. We bought into the Just Pants franchise, running the Just Pants store at Southridge Mall, then a Taubman Mall (Taubman married and divorced from Christie Brinkley, a rather too present icon of my life, helping me date nearly anything).

Our biggest Just Pants competitor was the County Seat — and Kohl’s department store (which bled we specialty jean stores to death by using Levi’s and Lee denim loss leader sales). Anyone else remember the days of denim walls so high, sales staff used ladders to reach the goods? That’s the pun behind this sexy Just Pants ad — it predates when we had our store (and I doubt we would have ran the ad ourselves, even if it had been in the creative pool of franchisee options.)

Anyway, in that era we not only often played WKTI in the store but we special ordered and custom hemmed Bob Reitman‘s black boot-cut Levi’s. Yeah, we were that cool.

Back then, we not only played whatever radio we wanted in the store, on July 13, 1985, we played the Live Aid broadcast in the store. I called in from the store to donate, getting myself an official Live Aid t-shirt. (They were out of my size, so I received a size small which wouldn’t have covered The Girls and so it has remained safely packed away all these years.)

Now, WKTI is WLWK, “Lake FM.” (Reitman’s still kicking it on air with his weekly show, It’s Alright, Ma, It’s Only Music.) And, ironically, Lake FM sounds almost like an auditory time capsule of the Reitman & Mueller days. I know, I’ve listened to the station when I’ve traveled home. Old habits die hard and my fingers still “dial” to the stations I recalled. Not that any of them are there anymore.  Lazer 103, QFM, LPX… All long gone. Apparently, after I moved from Wisconsin, the radio station marketplace went to hell. I’m not the only one who’s more than nostalgic; check out 93QFM: The Halcyon Daze for Milwaukee Rock Radio DJ Stories.

This got me thinking about the other radio stations & DJs… And the connections to retail.

Marilynn Mee, aka Jackpot Girl, part of Bob And Brian’s morning show on Lazer 103 (Mee may still be on WKLH?), was someone I met quite often when I was working at the Estee Lauder counter at Gimbels. Mee was pals with Pam, who worked Lancome. I envied Mee her wardrobe of all things.  But then, if you’ve ever had to wear the cosmetic girl garb, well, you’d understand it. Hard to feel 80-‘s glam when you’re wearing a turquoise smock-tent, no matter how fab your face and hair look. (Despite the fact that Marilynn and Pam partied with rock stars, I was the good girl who found herself knocked up; an entirely different subject, and I’ve digressed too much already.)

Because I’m all nostalgic about radio…

My first radio love was WOKY — and AM station that then played top 40 pop stuff. It came in loud and clear on my red ball Panasonic R-70 transistor radio.

I would turn the volume up and dance madly in the back yard. My most vivid memory is of cranking up Billy Preston’s Go Round in Circles and dancing on top of the old wooden picnic table. So not safe, I’m sure, even if you weren’t dancing yourself dizzy goin’ round in circles. Ahh, those were the days, though.

Image Credits: Vintage 1970 Just Pants ad via Ads-Things4Less. Panasonic photo via ebyauctions.

This One’s For My Dad

The Spectacular Suzanne Pleshette

This photo of Suzanne Pleshette reminds me of my dad.

My dad had a thing for Suzanne. He also had a lusty crush on Susan Anton. We used to tease him maybe variations on “Sue” was his real “thing.” *wink*

As a young girl, and then a young woman, those two women were so disparate… And neither resembled my mother.

…Well, maybe my mother was a bustier Pleshette, with a more dulcet voice.

But anyway, my point is, my daddy taught me early on that men can be attracted, simultaneously, to many things about women — that there wasn’t necessarily a “type,” either for one man or mankind. That’s the sort of thing a woman needs to know. And it doesn’t hurt to know that such crushes or affections do nothing to demean or diminish the loving and lusty committed relationship one’s in, either.

I was reminded, again, just how important dads are to girls when hubby and I helped dad run his booths selling antiques at Cedarburg Maxwell Street Days this past weekend. Dad’s sort of got a carnival-barker-meets-stand-up-comic style to his manning of his booths. (Another thing I’ve picked up from Dad!) One woman, drawn in by Dad’s quick wit, was instantly charmed — not only by my dad, but by my relationship with him.

“It’s clear you love your dad,” she said. Tears formed in her eyes — and mine — when she said, “I lost my dad 26 years ago… Dads are so important in their daughters’ lives…”

Damn right they are.

So here’s to you, Dad. Enjoy Ms. Pleshette. Thanks for being you.

Forever indebted,
your daughter

Make Your Children Feel Pretty By Making Fun Of Presidents (Or I’m Giving Away Atomic Religous Beauty?)

Perhaps today’s right-win conservative evangelists are only following the advice of Dorothy C. Haskin in God In My Kitchen: Fifty-Two Thoughts For Homemakers (copyright 1958, Warner Press, Anderson, Indiana)…

In chapter three, Beauty, we find the following:

Sheer physical good looks do not necessarily go together with excelling character or outstanding achievement. Our most handsome presidents were perhaps Warren G. Harding, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Chester A. Arthur. None of these are rated by historians as among our top national leaders. The presidents most praised by historians were not handsome men. George Washington was pock-marked. Abraham Lincoln’s rugged features are well-known and Theodore Roosevelt was bristling in appearance. Parent will do well to mention these things, because many children worry about their looks.

So I guess, by the laws of logic one should be voting for “ugly” candidate?

But that depends upon your definition of beauty; thankfully, Haskin helps with that.

Beauty is something which every girl can have. A young girl was praised for her beauty. Privately her father told her, “People are not praising your beauty, but your youth. You can take no credit at all for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, you can be proud of it, for it will be your character which has made you beautiful.”

Way to connect with your daughter, dad. Yeah, there’s some truth in that, but talking about her future old crone status is sure to help her in high school — because you know every high school kid thinks they’ll be dead before they reach the old age of 30. Sixty? What the hell is that?!

But I’ve shown poor character and interrupted Haskin again.

True beauty shows when your face is in repose. The natural expression reflects character. It may be fretty, quarrelsome, or reveal a spirit at rest with God. Another time that true beauty may be seen is when you greet someone. If you are self-centered, your greeting is without feeling and does not light your face. But if you are genuinely friendly, your greeting of others will bring a radiance to your face.

A Quaker woman’s recipe for beauty was:

“Use for the lips, truth… for the voice, prayer… for the eyes, pity… for the hands, charity… for the figure, uprightness… and for the heart, love.”

Because everyone talks about how beautiful Quaker women were! Seriously, I’m not a religious person (shocker!), but most of that sounds pretty nice and pretty sane to me — get it, pretty nice? Pretty sane? lol

Anyway, because I’m not religious — and because I’ve had my fun’s worth of this book, I’m giving it away.

There are many ways to enter; options. But you need only do one, if that’s all the effort you wish to put into winning… And no, I don’t care if you want this vintage homemaker’s book for ugly or pretty reasons. Just enjoy it!

To Enter:

* Follow me on Twitter: @DPopTart. (Please leave your Twitter username in your comment so I can check.)

and/or

* Tweet the following:

I entered @DPopTart’s contest to win a FREE copy of God In My Kitchen http://bit.ly/n7fIhz

(Remember to come back here and leave a comment with your tweet for me to verify.)

You may tweet your entry once a day.

and/or

* Friend me on Face Book: Deanna Dahlsad. (When making the request, note that you are entering the contest.)

and/or

* Post about this contest at your blog or website — if you do this you must include in your post to this contest post or Kitsch Slapped in general.

(Please include the link to your blog post in the comments section so that I can find your post.)

and/or

* Post your entry as a comment — if you do this, please make sure I’ve got your email address, because if you’re the winner I’ll need your email address to contact you regarding your shipping information.

Here’s the giveaway fine print:

* Giveaway is open to US residents only
* Be sure that you leave your email so that I can contact you
* Contest ends October 10, 2011; entries must be made on or before midnight, central time, October 9, 2011. Winner will be contacted by October 11, 2011, and has 48 hours to respond; otherwise, I’ll draw another name.