Month: January 2018

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Wrong Creatures

Black Rebel Motorcycle Clu Wrong Creatures Vagrant Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are named for Marlon Brando’s gang in The Wild One.  It’s not their original name; forming in San Francisco in 1998, they were originally called The Elements.  But the discovery of another so-called band caused the name change.  BRMC were a trio, originally comprised of Peter Hayes (vocals/guitar), Robert Been (bass/vocals) and Nick Jago (drums).  Jago left in 2008 and was replaced by Leah Shapiro.  Hayes had been a member of the Brian Jonestown Massacre before forming BMRC, and maybe it’s for this reason, I have always associated the...

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Jewish Tourism, or, I never cared very much for the Holocaust – Part III

Ruta told me that people who had escaped the ghetto would come back. So would people who had been taken off to the nearby killing pit in Ponary forest, who had been shot along with thousands of others, buried in mass graves, but who were still alive, would claw their way out from under the dirt and return to the ghetto. So strong was the feeling that death with family was preferable to life alone and on the run. There comes a point where life has dwindled down to a series of resignations, and then the final one—which way...

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Let’s Have Sex: Pushing Up Against Today’s Narratives of Female Vulnerability

Although I’m loving the power of #MeToo to take down men with histories of sexual misconduct, one significant shortfall of the movement—or rather, of the society from which the movement emerged[1]—is how it’s almost impossible now for women to talk about our sexual experiences from positions of agency and desire. A few months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October 2017, a young writer named Amber A’Lee observed on Facebook that stories involving even fleeting scenes of consensual sex “don’t get clicks anymore.” Instead, our culture’s current obsession is with women’s accounts of coercion and trauma. Female employees describe fainting during unwanted intercourse with their media bosses in dungeon-like offices. Aspiring actresses recall being mauled in hotel rooms by bigwigs wearing bathrobes. The singer Halsey performed “A Story Like Mine” at the Women’s March in New York, hailed by news outlets as a “raw and vulnerable poem about sexual violence.” Halsey’s rapper-style piece detailing her own sexual abuse was quickly shared online and viewed by thousands. Meanwhile, The Washington Post published an editorial about the lack of attention paid to women’s broader sociopolitical agendas: “Why is the Media Mostly Ignoring the Women’s March?” “Forced Sex” has all but vanished from the menus of popular porn sites, yet the theme migrates steadily into America’s middle-brow venues. Even before #MeToo, narratives about men controlling women’s bodies were hot commodities on...

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Jewish Tourism, or, I never cared very much for the Holocaust – Part II

I meet Ruta, my tour guide, in the lobby of my hotel in Vilnius. She is in her early 40’s by my guess, still young, a commanding presence, tall like many of the Lithuanian women. She is wearing a green velvet jacket with a snazzy handkerchief in its chest pocket and she sports black leather pants. She is native of Lithuania, not Jewish, but she studies Jewish history. Ruta tells me what made her interested in that history was death. Some people, she says, want to contemplate the life of Jews in Lithuania—the details, how they lived, how they...

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The (Sort of) End of Chief Wahoo

The Cleveland baseball team took a positive step this week.  It announced on Monday that it was going to remove the deeply offensive Chief Wahoo from its caps and jerseys for the 2019 season.  This is an important start.  Chief Wahoo is an offensive caricature of an indigenous chief, drawn in a cartoonish, stereotypical manner. Note that not only is he grinning, he is actually red.  Like, you know, ‘redskin’.  (The Washington football team is a whole other problem, for another day). Chief Wahoo. Chief Wahoo has a long genesis.  The Cleveland baseball team was originally founded in Grand...

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