My man Michael Ross over at Culchavox put his foot in an essay yesterday that helped to pull me out of a hole I was in last night. I’d visited a buddy of mine earlier in the day, a buddy who shot me an email on Friday that said he was closing his business. We drank a couple of beers and smoked a couple of cigars in his soon to be closing cigar store, which ironically was a place I used to go to in order to lift my spirits.
It is both odd and painful to have to watch a man think about failure in such a very public way.
So I am glad Michael shot me an email AT THREE A.M. to tip me off about his new piece, The ‘black agenda’ and its discontents. I’m supposed to be reviewing his book, American Bandwidth, but a million things have conspired to keep me from getting to it so far. All I will say so far is that as a writer, you often need to read other writers in order to broaden the myopia we all get into as wordsmiths, to help you do a better job of constructing sentences, or using new words, or presenting things from a different point of view. Michael Ross is my new go to guy for this.
But back to his piece.
"The idea, advanced by Tavis Smiley and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, is that the degree of unquestionable misery that black Americans now experience requires special, singular, identity-based attention by the president; this thrusts the identity of the campaigner onto the shoulders of the president, and it’s not a good fit. It seeks to hold the president hostage to working for constituencies within this nation, rather than on behalf of the nation as a whole."
Micheal Ross, Culchavox
On Saturday, S. and I went from one end of the spectrum to the other – from an in-town gathering on the northside of Atlanta of mostly black, asian, latino gamers in their twenties and thirties, jeans sagging, boots and sneakers and hoodies galore, to a birthday party two counties away in a restaurant near Lake Lanier where we were the only black people in the house other than the singer on stage when we first got there, in a dinner crowd of white haired white people who seemed to stiffen up in spite of us putting on our best Obama date night imitation, all smiles and cordiality.
The thing is -- we had a great time at both places.
"Ironically, one of the things that hamstrings us as a people is an inconsistency about our own self-identity. We rightly insist on inclusion, but we find ways to reinforce a sense of apartness that contradicts that drive for inclusion. The name of the most celebrated black American advocacy organization continues to use in its name a phrase that is the antithesis of modern black American self-description."
Michael Ross, Culchavox
Then, after reading some insane bullshit by Paul Krugman in the New York Times, several hundred words that essentially said “Despite our trade imbalance, the amount of American debt China holds, and the fact that TWO THIRDS of the goods we consume are manufactured in China, America is not being held over a barrel by China – in fact, Krugman swears, the Chinese are at our mercy.” My eyes were so wide open by the time I finished this, I turned to my blogroll to see what sensible people were talking about, when I happened onto a rant by the normally cool as a cucumber PunditMom.
It just so happens that she is also mad at the New York Times today for the way they write about women bloggers. She wrote a BLISTERING piece today, one so tart it had me envious - where, oh where did Pundit Mom dig up the energy for this rant?
"Conferences like Netroots Nation are well-respected by the media. Ones like BlogHer, Bloggy Boot Camp, and others are written about in terms where the you can feel the virtual pat on the head that says, 'There, there dear. Why don’t you just write about your play dates and leave the important political writing to someone else!'"
Joanne Bamberger, Pundit Mom
Pundit Mom got me so fired up I am ready to take a two by four to the computers of the next columnist from the New York Times I run into - actually I'm kidding here, because I still think Frank Rich is smoking crack, and his laptop would be my first target, especually since he isn't using it to do much of anything except typing practice.
So tonight you've got two real essays by two REAL AMERICANS. Which means I can go smoke the last cigar my cigar shop owner friend gave me and take the edge off of the "my buddy is going out of business" blues.