Friday, June 26, 2009

Barack Obama Killed Michael Jackson

Some of my earliest memories are of trying to moonwalk while lip syncing to Michael Jackson's Thriller album. The Indian community of Mobile, Alabama, where I grew up, was as obsessed with Jackson as Indians all over the globe were, which I think was demonstrably more obsessed than any other culture. (The countless, and I mean countless, variations on Jackson's choreagraphy seen in Bollywood movies is the irrefutable evidence.)

When Jackson's hair caught fire while filming a Pepsi commercial, it was a major event that had to be discussed, parsed out, mocked, and imitated for years. Then there was his conversion from being a black man to something akin to a white person in terms of physiognomy -- the look of face, the tint of his skin. And that video -- I'm black, I'm white -- with all those racially diverse people morphing into each other. And that other video where Jackson is some kind of Pharaoh, and Eddie Murphy shows up.

What I'm trying to say is that Michael Jackson's life -- and his body -- was a vessel for the contradictions within the collective, capital-driven racial psychology of the US. Our society's struggles with inequality and racism were enacted on his body. His whole childhood was turned into a national childhood -- this innocent high-pitched, non-threatening version of James Brown that everyone could consume. And he didn't get to have his own childhood and he was always in search of it in the weirdest and, at times, disturbing of ways. He suffered for us.

The election of Barack Obama, and the nearly magical way his life story resolves national contradictions while acknowledging the histories behind them, is the flip-side to Michael Jackson's being the king of pop. It's as if Obama released all the tension that made Jackson the national and international figure that we needed him to be. As if Jackson didn't have organs -- no heart or kidney or liver -- just this national-trauma-turned-pop music-genius-energy inside of him. And Obama has taken that magic, converted it from art-producing-pathos to open, straight-forward expression.

We mourn Jackson's death, and the beauty he created and the suffering he endured, because we were all along casting our votes for it, creating it, feeding off it, surviving because of him.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mission Completed

Well. I finished my novel's second draft and defend the PhD next Tuesday. Maybe I will have more time to write on Green Parenting. I miss the community and I miss having a record of our lives...

My green missions for the summer: getting tankless water heaters, rainwater barrels (you might notice that's been on the list since time immemorial), and getting an energy audit for the home.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Green Valentine's Day Gifts

I haven't been able to post to Green Parenting for a long time because I took a new and demanding job as the editor of a magazine called Cite: The Architecture and Design Review of Houston. I also launched a blog called that I think would be of interest to Green Parenting readers. Like Cite magazine, it covers urban planning, transit, preservation, environmentally responsible design, fine and decorative arts, neighborhoods, and community building.

MaGreen just wrote a fantastic post for OffCite on Green Valentine's Day Gifts. Some highlights: locally-made macaroons (well, local for Houstonians), flowers made from elephant poop, and a list of love poetry books put compiled by graduates of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

I have some posts up too. Among them is an article about the devastation of Hurricane Ike on Galveston Island and the disproportionate effect it has had poor people and minorities.

That's how we do it. Joy and solidarity.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chinese New Year

Grasshopper and MaGreen went to Chinese New Year today. Just as we hit the crowd with my friend Nicole and her kids, my little girl tensed up. She held my fingers as we all snaked through a gigantic crowd. It was hot, we ARE still in Houston, and so we found our way inside where there were a few dancers on a stage and a large audience, and more booths. By the time we were half-way into the second group of rooms, Grasshopper was screaming that she wanted to go back outside: she was scared, she said.

So went back outside, and the crowd still scared her. I found a patch of grass, and Nicole and her family graciously sat with us while Grasshopper could wind down. But when we tried to leave the grassy knoll she started screaming again, and I let Nicole go on. I sat her down and asked her to try to give walking around one more chance, and that we'd driven a long way and I really thought she'd enjoy the festival if she gave it a shot. She sat still a couple minutes, and decided to try again...but she couldn't last three minutes. She was just terrified, it seemed, of the crowd.

So we left. I was sad not learn more, but Grasshopper was almost immediately calmer, and pretty articulate about her fear of all the people. We stopped by and Indian Grocery, had a quick lunch at an Indian buffet, and came home, where we both passed out.

I'm glad we gave the day a shot, but no more festivals for this family for at least another six months!

See how I'm going to pretend like the last post wasn't in September.