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The Kind of Right Angles and Hard Falls Our Kids Need to Gain Moral Fiber

[ 76 ] June 11, 2015 |


I think most of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, British or American, understand all too well the brutalist playground with its right angles, ugly architecture, and hard, hard surfaces. These examples are more extreme than our average playground but in the same universe as what we knew.


Out of Sight Book Talk in Washington, DC

[ 4 ] June 11, 2015 |


Hey DC people–I will be doing a book presentation for Out of Sight at Busboys and Poets Takoma Park store on Monday evening at 6:30. It will be a conversation between myself and Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Watch. You should come out. I’ll sign your book. It’s entirely possible beverages may be had after we are done. Not vodka though.

I am going to spew some serious Beltway wisdom, so watch out!

I even got a shout out from DCist for the event.

Occupy’s Influence

[ 88 ] June 11, 2015 |


I was hoping this Michael Levitin piece at the Atlantic about how Occupy has changed organizing communities throughout the country and around different issues would get at a question I’m genuinely interested in, which is what happened to the Occupiers, especially those who were not previously professional activists. In fact the piece doesn’t and is just assertion without evidence–I’m willing to believe that Occupy might have had a great influence on the anti-Keystone pipeline movement but arguments do need evidence. Levitin was deeply involved in Occupy and so this reads primarily as a justification of the actions he helped create and it could be so much more. I think the real impact of that movement has to be told in part by following trails of individuals who had their lives transformed by it and then worked to transform the world.

Ornette Coleman, RIP

[ 54 ] June 11, 2015 |

Ornette Coleman, one of the greatest jazz musicians to ever live and quite possibly the greatest jazz musician living in 2015, has died at the age of 85.

I guess I’d now give that greatest living jazz musician title to either Cecil Taylor or William Parker. Probably the latter.

….Also of course Sonny Rollins, who actually probably does take that title.

[SL]: The Coleman show I saw in 2008 was easily one of the 5 best musical experiences of my life. This a huge loss — he was a true giant of American art.

Fast Food Nation

[ 156 ] June 10, 2015 |


I find it fascinating that as the lower end fast food chains find their sales slipping, a solution is to create the most ridiculous and/or disgusting food possible. Such is the new Pizza Hut hot dog pizza. I never thought I would object to mustard on anything, but I guess I am wrong.


[ 64 ] June 10, 2015 |


Sadly, the New York Times Disunion series has come to an end. I was hoping it would continue into Reconstruction, as the union was not exactly reunited immediately when the war ended and in many ways Reconstruction is as important as the Civil War for understanding modern America.

Of course, the series was really at its peak in late 2010 and early 2011 as the paper chronicled the daily events of the union falling apart. Naturally enough, there weren’t enough stories and authors to really keep up at that pace for the next four years, but consistently solid articles continued to be published, many of which I have linked to here.

Pelosi and the TPP

[ 21 ] June 10, 2015 |

It’s becoming increasingly clear that fast track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is going to pass and it’s going to include the Trade Adjustment Assistance as a sop to American workers. That Nancy Pelosi is working hard to round up Democratic votes in the House to support Obama’s agenda here provides more evidence for this outcome.

The Historical Roots of McKinney

[ 79 ] June 9, 2015 |


A scene from the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, which started when whites stoned a young black man to death for swimming in white-only waters in Lake Michigan

Historian Victoria Wolcott:

“When pools have been opened on a nonsegregated basis,” noted one legal scholar in 1954, “either under legal compulsion or by voluntary action, disturbances have resulted more frequently than in any other instances of desegregation.” Whites threw nails at the bottom of pools, poured bleach on black bathers, or simply beat them up. In the late 1940s there were major swimming pool riots in St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

And despite civil rights statutes in many states the law did not come to African Americans’ aid. In Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, the chairman of the Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission in 1960 admitted that “all people have a right under law to use all public facilitates including swimming pools.” But he went on to point out that “of all public facilities, swimming pools put the tolerance of the white people to the test.” His conclusion was predictable: “Public order is more important than rights of Negroes to use public facilities and any admission of Negroes must be within the bounds of the willingness of white people to observe order or the ability of police to enforce it.” In practice black swimmers were not admitted to pools if the managers felt “disorder will result.” Disorder and order defined accessibility, not the law.

Only after decades of persistent activism did these barriers begin to fall. But instead of whites and blacks swimming and playing together recreational facilities in American cities have been defunded and apartheid continues to mark the recreational landscape. By the 1970s the virulent racism so common earlier in the century had been replaced by a colorblind discourse suggesting that choices about where to live, work, and play were individual decisions separate from the legacy of racism. But there are moments when one hears the direct echo of those earlier struggles. In 2009, for example, the owner of a private swim club in Philadelphia excluded black children attending a Philadelphia day care center, saying they would change the “complexion” of the club. And now in a wealthy subdivision outside of Dallas police target black teenagers and some in the surrounding community make it clear they – the black children – are not welcome.

Pools have long been fraught with racial tension, as have other swimming sites such as lakes and rivers, which led to the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Why access to water specifically creates such anxiety over race, I’m not really sure.

This is Hell

[ 0 ] June 9, 2015 |


I was on This is Hell! with Chuck Mertz on Saturday discussing Out of Sight. You can listen to it here. The interview was a solid 40 minutes which gave us time to talk about a lot of different issues.

Republican Lunch

[ 29 ] June 9, 2015 |


Above: How Jim Risch transports his Rocky Mountain oysters

What do Republican senators eat for lunch? Have you been dying to know this question? Well, lucky for you, the New York Times is on it! Does Dan Coats like pie? Oh yes! Does Jim Risch like to serve bull testicles to Susan Collins? You know he does and that it’s a really funny joke among Republican staffers!

Sad to say that this is actually improvement on the paper wondering if Hillary is going to appeal to the right kind of real American voters.

GOP Brilliance

[ 50 ] June 9, 2015 |

Boy, I wonder where these health care subsidies come from? Republican Jesus no doubt.

Idiocy Upon Idiocy

[ 103 ] June 8, 2015 |

Of course Ron Fournier would weigh in on the New York Times “the proper way for Democrats to win the presidency is to appeal to conservative white voters in Arkansas and West Virginia” article by not only saying that it was a good article but by saying that there’s a “right” way to win and a “wrong” way to win and of course appealing to your base, i.e., people who aren’t white, is the “wrong” way to win. He writes, “My problem with this approach is that it works only until Election Day, when a polarizing, opportunistic candidate assumes the presidency with no standing to convert campaign promises into results.”

Right, because if Hillary can somehow appeal to those Arkansas voters and 1996 comes back into existence in 2016, the Republicans will totally lower their guard. We all know how accommodating those Republicans were to Bill Clinton in his 2nd term after all. I mean really, what impeachment? I don’t remember that. I only remember a bipartisan love fest that would make David Broder hard from the grave.

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