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“Azealia Banks’ career allegedly hangs in the balance and Perez Hilton’s remains firmly intact. She’s now regarded as the ratchet, violently homophobic black woman. …This isn’t two wrongs make a right, but rather, one wrong is minimized, and the other, pathologized.”

BOOM.

The Crunk Feminist Collective

Guest Post by Edward Ndopu

Recently, the media has exploded with news of a Twitter battle between rapper Azealia Banks and gossip blogger Perez Hilton. After Hilton inserted himself in an altercation between Banks and fellow female rapper Angel Haze, taking Haze’s side, Banks denounced him as a “messy faggot”. She then went on to say that she used the word to describe “any male who acts like a female”. Rumours have since abounded that Banks is being dropped from her record label as a result of her speaking out against Hilton. Rather than taking sides, I believe it is most important for us to examine the context within which this media escalation has happened. Instead of writing off Azealia Banks, herself a queer woman, as homophobic, we should instead be exploring the femmephobia and racialized sexism at play in the public’s response to this debacle.

The public spat between…

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I’ve been thinking about Y2K a lot lately. Thank goodness that we made it through 2000, so that we could greet 2011. In just one more year it very well might be the end of the world… drink up!  I made three liters of mulled wine a few weeks ago to store for the upcoming 2012 apocalypse. So, cheers to a good year ahead!

On that note, for the past month I’ve retreated from my work in order to play. Now that it’s January, I figure I should wrap up vacation in a few bullet points:

  • A new word:

Eidolon– In ancient Greek thought, which has influenced modern literature and Theosophy, an eidolon (Greek εἴδωλον: “image, idol, double, apparition, phantom, ghost”) is a spirit-image of a living or dead person; a shade or phantom look-alike of the human form. If of a dead person, the phantom can appear under certain conditions to survivors of the deceased.

  • Three of my best friends and I started a production company called the Lipschtick Collective. We have a website, but don’t look! There’s nothing on it yet.
  • A bunch of us (Julia, Becky, Gelly, Marcella and I) took a bus for $16 to New York. It was cute, everyone fell asleep at the same time and woke up at the same time. On the ride back this loud Bostonian woman woke the entire bus while talking on the effing phone. Embarrassing for her, annoying for those that were asleep, and entertaining for me:

You have to understand, my father only wants to feed his chickens. My mother wants to be alone, my father wants to be alone. It’s a compulsion. He’ll take his money and spend it all on his chickens before his kids. Duh!

  • I have only two resolutions for the next year: “To think and produce work more often” and to wear glitter as often as possible. The first I wrote when I was less than sober.
  • This Mary Oliver poem:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

  • Watched a truckload of movies. Black Swan, which is pretty damn predictable. Who knew violence against women could be so sexy?! Everyone. Everyone knows, Darren. Your movie is poop. But then I saw Nora’s Will which is a cute little film about an older Mexican Jewish couple and their family. The wife commits suicide and her bitter “ex” husband has to pick up the very neat mess she left for him. It was a touching film, really. And then I saw Sex and the City 2 because I hate myself. I wonder which film is worse for women, Black Swan or Sex and the City 2. It’s a toss-up for me. If sexual violence, eating disorders, suicide and exploitative lesbian sex scenes don’t trigger you, then maybe Islamophobia, classism and racism will! When having to choose between the two, I choose neither.
  • Melissa Harris-Perry on Rachel Maddow talking about the DADT repeal. I know it’s a little after the fact, but it’s worth your time if you haven’t seen it.
  • I went to a Gogol Bordello concert. My friends and I hung out near the middle of the crowd, bouncing off each other and jumping into the air the whole time. We were on the outskirts of the mosh pit.  Every time someone bent over to tie their shoes, crowd members circled around to protect whoever it was from being trampled. And Eugene was in full swing with his big bottle of red wine and 100% kicks-ass mustache. After the second encore he yelled to the audience, “We are here to party, after alllll!!!!!!” and he started singing and strumming again.

Anyway, you’re all perfect and don’t you forget it over the next twelve months!

Check it out!  Today was the Laique Pride March from Ain El Mraisse to the Parliament.

Read about it –>

“SECULAR WALK TOWARDS CITIZENSHIP

We are Lebanese citizens seeking to live in dignity, exercise our rights and duties with equality when dealing with co-citizens.

Empowered by rights, public and private liberties granted to us by the Lebanese Constitution, we demand:
– non intervention of religious institutions in state affairs as much as the non intervention of the state in citizens’ freedom of worship;
– independence of people’s representatives from any allegiance to religious leaders and the sectarian system;
– laws respecting human rights and absolute equality between women and men;
– a Lebanese civil code for personal status;
– reinforcement of public education to promote citizenship values among coming generations;
– securing equal opportunities in employment in the public sector based on qualifications rather than religion, race or gender;
– an independent judiciary in charge of protecting citizens’ rights in an attempt to circumvent the unhealthy predominant social habit of resorting to the power of kin-groups for backing.

On 25 April 2010, we will march for the first time for a ‘Secular Lebanon’. Let us prove our force on the ground and give a face to our demands.

During the march, the only flag raised will be the Lebanese flag.”

READ MORE
——–> BBC <———-
————–> CNN <—————-
———-> Nadine Moawad<———–
————-> Lebanese Laique Pride Blog <————

Arrived in Syria, sitting in Damascus at a café. About to have Turkish coffee.  And orange juice. Staying at a palace (Nassan) in Old Damascus, Bab Sharqi, with a load of tourists coming through to take pictures every morning while I’m walking across the courtyard brushing my teeth. Last night, sat on the border for only two hours (WASTA). Gorgeous, Damascus is cleaner than Beirut and more quiet. No mopeds, bikes instead. Staying in Christian center of the city for Good Friday.  Palace is from 1640, there’s a club attached to the back.  Walked through the palace’s garage last night to get a gin and tonic.

Meaningful lyrics –>Weird like a bearded lady. Get the funk out my face.

Remember this from last week, that your liberation is bound up with mine.

Sitting in a church, Notre Dame of Damascus.  Today we went through the Hamadiya Souk, I did not find my lingerie but I did find ice cream and Hezbollah posters/wallets/t-shirts. About to celebrate Easter Syrian style… with music and crucifixion. I like this church and want to sit here longer, but we have to keep running through the city.

Umayyad mosque, Iranians crying and singing over the death of Hussein.  Kids spread out across the mosque’s floor, making a star shape with their bodies. I went to the wrong side, and these men are laughing at me.  But the sky here is big and blue.

“Hey! Charlie!” “blah blah blah (some stuff about the navy),” from a guy at the Syrian bus stop.  “Chalas!” I say. But we made friends after he quit yelling at me. I need to get out and see more of what’s around Lebanon. On Nick’s roof this morning,   Saluah holding Hezbollah decoration she bought in Hamadiya, explaining her friends’ response, “They just don’t get the kitschy aspect of Hezbollah!” Hassan’s beard.  Eating eggs and bread and drinking tea on Nick’s roof before I leave for Beirut. So much sun, so much more I will write about later.

Far from home, Nina Simone and the Black Keys sound even better. And Raymond Carver seems even more incisive. Since I keep running into people here that really like him, I thought I might share a poem of his that I’m keen on:

Happiness

So early it’s still almost dark out.
I’m near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren’t saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other’s arm.
It’s early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn’t enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

1 Some sounds.

During both of my flights I listened to what sounded like a chorus of pissed off babies. Driving to Beirut from the airport, I listened to a milder form of that fitful car honking I would often hear in Cairo. A few minutes ago I was listening to an actual catfight, and moments before that I heard, from a distance, call to prayer.

I heard my favorite Nina Simone song playing in the background at a Beirut bar. As I was speaking with a woman I had just met, the lyrics “Do what you gotta do, come on back see me when you can” played from speakers. Oh, rejoice! I’d been listening to this song back to back for the past month; many people can vouch for this fact. Nina Simone? Do what you gotta do? Beirut? I’m in the right place.

2 No need for a cup of coffee, I had a full night sleep.

I’ve been apartment hunting all day. A woman named Leila brought me to the property she’s looking to rent out. We met outside the Starbucks on Hamra Street (a street full of cafes, clothing shops and booksellers). She is a French lit. professor, we had a nice conversation about her work and then the housing market in Beirut, not cheap. Anyway, I loved the space: big glass windows that slid open, washer, no carpets and cute furniture. And, to be vague, it had a good energy. But, surprise! I can’t afford Leila’s apartment (and thus am looking for a roommate to split the cost with). More significantly, many people who are actually from Beirut can no longer afford to live here. Few jobs, little money, no housing. In other words, I’m getting acquainted with the financial privileges I have being an American tourist in Lebanon.

3 Falling asleep after sunset, staying asleep after sunrise.

I woke up wishing I had a full night of sleep directly ahead of me, mostly because I had actually woken up six hours before my alarm.The culprit that kept me awake: a mix of jet lag and apartment obsessing. Once my alarm did go off, I pulled myself together, left Iman’s apartment (Iman is from Seeds of Peace, she’s letting me stay for a week), and shuffled down the street looking for the Chammas apartment building (to look at a studio). The owner told me that I would find the building “Right next to Socrates restaurant.” Alas, I did not. After asking many people for directions, in English and broken Arabic, I found a woman who knew exactly where to point me… three blocks away. I visited and concluded that the first apartment was better. Then off to another spot, “Residence Diane.” As I was walking, I kept seeing people on the street looking just the way I do, baggy eyed and irritable. We should have all known that the other couldn’t sleep last night, texting one another at 3am to provide encouragement…“Fall asleep before sunrise, you can do it! Yalla!”

Anyhow: The entrance to “Residence Diane” was marble. And inside, even more marble. It was too nice for my price range, so I smiled at the concierge and turned right back around to the street. While continuing my part of the insomniac shuffle, I found myself in good company as I passed a cute round kitten with a big furry head. I really wanted to scoop it up and take it with me.

OH WOW! The electricity just shut off. Not enough energy to run the entire city at once and so there are rotating three-hour power cuts 24/7. Maybe Obama should try that in the U.S., I’d really like to see people running out into the street shaking their Snuggie covered fists at the sky because their television sets/treadmills/microwaves suddenly became temporarily unavailable.

4 Oh! Hello great sea!

At some point this weekend I took a wrong turn walking around the neighborhood and ended up at the foot of the Mediterranean. Knocked out of my sleepless insensibility, a rush of thoughts like “OH! THIS IS INSANE,” “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M HERE,” “#@!#$^*#” came over me.

I’m wicked excited.

5 circadian blues

“While the body’s ‘master clock’ is centered in the hypothalamus, different parts of the body adjust to time-zone changes at different rates — with the kidneys, stomach and other organs lagging behind the brain.

‘Jet lag isn’t [merely] a lag between you and the outside world; instead, it’s a lag between different parts of your body,’ explains Thomas Wehr, chief of the biological rhythms section at the National Institute of Mental Health. ‘If you’re flying east to Europe, your brain could be in Ireland, and your liver could be in Iceland, so things are not cycling in sync with each other.'”