Flaming Lips at the Pageant.

Hooray! I'm on the last stretch for my lit review. Tomorrow is the sprint to the finish line. Chris just got back from his tournament in Quincy, so we're just kicking it low-key on this Saturday night.

Spent last night at the Flaming Lips show at the Pageant. Have you been? Because I feel like it's one of those things everyone should do before they die. I went with Z-Taint, Rad Za, and K-Vav, and we hit up Blueberry Hill before the show. I've seen some insane shit in my life, but this was crazy. Wayne Coyne should either start a pyramid scheme, a cult, or run for President, because he's got some people on lock. What a crowd: you've got the thirty and forty-somethings who've been Lips fans since day one, you've got the dirty hippie crowd, dropping acid and dressing like Uncle Sam, you've got the hipsters who recognize the band's significance. The tour is sponsored by Camel, so shit was smoky as hell and neon Camel logos are everywhere, as are spin-art booths, photo booths where you can get your picture taken as a robot, the requisite free cigarette booths. We got some sweet spots to the left of the stage. I'm not a die-hard Flaming Lips fan, but I am going to get more of their CDs after seeing the show. Here are reasons why the show was awesome:

1) They gave every free laser pointers, which were put into use throughout the show. Obviously, we annoyed everyone else we saw that night with our barrage of red lasers on people. Sorry, dudes!
2) A veritable deluge of confetti throughout the show. Confetti everywhere! I felt like I was in a gay dance club.
3) Costumes. Aliens, robots, Santas, Uncle Sam.
4) Opened with a song I was surprised to know, "Race for the Prize" which was on a mixtape (yes, tape) made for me long ago by Mike Cannon, that I listened to pretty much non-stop one summer I lived in Kirksville because it was one of the bitchest mixtapes I've ever gotten. I have distinct memories of driving around in my old Jeep hearing this song. Said mixtape had The Smiths, Old 97's, Freedy Johnston, Teenage Fanclub, Ween...where is that tape?
5) Candid video appearances by Jon Stewart and Kelly Kapowski when she was on 90210.
6) They played "Do You Realize". Here's a good essay on the song from an old McSweeney's.
7) On our way back to the car, I stole a giant "I Love New York" season one DVD poster that was taped to a lightpole. Today I gave it to Laser. I hope she puts it up in her basement.

I loved how outrageous and interactive the show was, and it was well worth the $20 for the ticket. Fuck, I got a free laser pointer!

Hung out with friends afterwards. Went to kickball today, where we split but had fun, and have been writing my paper ever since. Joyous celebrations and a post-of-substance to follow, probably Tuesday, maybe Monday if I'm really on top of things.


Ramblings from Detention

Sorry for the lack of posting, but I've been working on school, for real, and that pretty much dominates my computer time, which I have realized I am addicted to, meaning I've got to get off the damn internet. But right now I'm supervising detention, so I've got some time to kill since I only have one kid and he's on his game.

Other than that, I've been doing some cool stuff. Chris and I and Banter and his old lady went down to Taste of St. Louis to see Lucero play and eat some french fries and risotto balls. While we were there, we saw a half-developmentally delayed, half-huffer guy pick up a lighter off the ground and huff it, then pick up a bunch of cigarette butts and smoke them. In broad daylight. Banter took pity on the dude and gave him a bunch of cigarettes. Then one of my kids parents saw me and took a picture of Chris and I, maybe for their fridge? Who knows? Then we went back to our friends' crib and listened to records and played arcade games and foosball. Then a bunch of Dudes and Awesomettes showed up and we drank and talked about kickball (Awesome destroyed earlier in the day). Pretty typical weekend.

I'm stoked because Chris and I are going to see the History Boys at the Rep on Thursday for his birthday and then I'm going to the Flaming Lips with my gal pals on Friday, thanks to Susan's kind offer of a ticket (how much do I owe you, by the way?), while Chris is out of town for soccer. Then I'm going to write up a storm and finish my paper so I can mail it Monday. Then sigh and pick up Mandela again. Too much knowledge, too little time. Maybe I should quit my day job.


Jena Six

For one of my graduate classes, we're doing a lit review, which is a major pain-in-the-ass, time-consuming paper that basically consists of picking a topic and reading all the research on said topic, and writing an extensive review of the research. When I write my dissertation, doing a lit reviews lets me examine where there are gaps in research so I can find where new research needs to be done. I've been working on mine since August and it's due October 1st. My topic is disproportionate minority contact in juvenile justice, specifically at the disposition (sentencing) phase. That is gibberish that means I'm examining why youth of color are confined to adult prison or secure juvenile facilities at higher rates than their white counterparts. This is a crazy problem, and I don't think I could find a better way to illustrate this phenomenon than the Jena 6.

For those of you who have been in your basements for the past two weeks (really, the past year or so), the Jena 6 are six high school students from tiny Jena, LA. Long story short: some white kids put nooses up in a tree after black students tried to sit under a tree that mostly white kids sat under. Principal tried to expel involved students, board of ed revoked expulsion. This escalates race relations in the school and community, culminating in six black kids jumping a white kid. White kid's injuries are not severe; he is released from hospital two hours later. Black students who beat him up are all charged, as adults (except for one 14-year-old), with attempted murder. All those tried as adults have bail set at $70,000 or more. The DA goes on record saying if convicted, he would seek the maximum penalty under law. You can read an extensive timeline here or here; it includes more incidents that happened during this time that provide insight into the climate of the community during this time.

I won't get into the legal details, but one kid has been in jail since December, and the others are about to go on trial for attempted second degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and two are about to go on trial for aggravated second degree battery and conspiracy. One student, Mychal Bell, was tried and convicted, but appealed on the grounds that he should have been tried as a juvenile, yet he is still in prison. Bottom line: these kids are facing years, years, and years in prison.

This is significant. This is huge. But this is not isolated. Shit like this happens everywhere, all over the country, and it goes unnoticed by major media outlets. The only reason Jena broke out is because the black blogosphere would not let it die and the black community rallied behind these kids. Disproportionate minority confinement (DMC) exists in all fifty states. African American youth with no priors were six times more likely to be incarcerated in public facilities than white youth with similar backgrounds. DMC was even found to increase in years when minority arrests decreased. African American youth are more likely to be recommended for formal processing, while white youth are more likely to be referred to diversionary programming. I have read too much research in the last month that proves to me that the Jena Six are not alone, but represent the widespread phenomenon of locking up our youth of color more often that white youth who commit the same crimes.

Some people argue that these kids did beat someone up and should be punished. I agree fully. However, the punishment should fit the crime. The injured student has no lasting injuries, was released from the hospital the same day, and even attended the ring ceremony at Jena High School that same night. You want to put six young men in prison for twenty-two years for that? These charges indicate the court's belief that for whatever reason, these young men are unable to be rehabilitated, effectively saying their lives are worthless. I don't believe any youth should be condemned for that long for this crime. If you look at it in that context, you see that this is a human issue, not a race issue.

But it is a race issue. It's a race issue because there are thousands of black (and Hispanic, and Asian, and American Indian) youth who lives are seen as disposable, who are pigeonholed as criminals, who are irrationally feared, because of the color of their skin. And we help them live up to our stereotypes through bias, through a lack of alternatives to incarceration, from driving while black, from irrational drug policy (despite the fact that more whites use drugs than any other race), from a myriad of other daily injustices that many white people don't think exist because they don't have to deal with them.

The silver lining of this is that the black community has rallied, and rallied in spectacular fashion. Paulo Friere, the seminal voice of critical pedagogy, says that the oppressed will not be freed by the oppressors, they will be freed due to their own efforts to overcome oppression, and the response to Jena seems like those kind of efforts the black community needs when faced with this total bullshit. It frustrates me to no end when I hear people say, "I thought we were past this," or "This isn't about race."


What I've been reading and listening to.


Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley's newest release, is a departure from their past discs, but lovable, danceable, and well worth twelve bucks or whatever it costs. I love every track, but especially "Breakin' Up", "Under the Blacklight" and "15". Good friend Meghan saw them last week and said their show was on point. They were actually in Minneapolis at First Avenue on Friday, but I would have had to get a hotel room and gone to the show by myself, so I decided not to go, which turned out to be a good thing in light of the cold. But the disc is hot and you should get it.

I've also been listening to Bob Dylan's Modern Times, which reaffirmed my faith in Dylan. I've always been a big Dylan fan, but in college, my friend Pogge saw him at Notre Dame and said he was ate up. This was when he was also playing the State Fair circuit so I believed him. But Pogge also voted for Bush twice, so I gave Modern Times a chance and wasn't disappointed. AND, Chris and I got tickets to see him and Elvis Costello at the Fox, which, while a pretty penny, we couldn't pass up. Dude is a legend of the highest order, and we'd better witness him in person before it's too late.


I haven't had a lot of time to read outside of school; articles and books about disproportionate minority confinement in juvenile justice, The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, and Doing Survey Research have occupied my time immensely. The autobiography is awesome, though.

That being said, there's a great magazine y'all should read called Good. There are days when I read the newspaper and the blogs and get really depressed about what's going on in the world, and Good is the remedy. Like its title suggests, it's all about good things: good news, good design, good art and good ideas. I read the latest issue in the airport, and read about green schools, Mormon missionaries and how they are trained, a retrospective on Buckminster Fuller, and great design through the ages. If you subscribe, 100% of your subscription costs (yes, 100%) goes to a charity you choose off the list that they support. It's one of those magazines that doesn't have a "green" issues, because they talk about and support sustainability in every issue. If you are into changing the world, you should read this magazine. There's a great editorial in here about why companies shouldn't do philanthropy.

Back From Minnesota

I had my first weekend trip to Minneapolis, and I must say it went rather well. I was most apprehensive about the traveling, but walking, the train, and the plane all went smoothly. My first flight was on time, and my second flight (wait for it) was actually 45 minutes early getting back to St. Louis. In this day and age? A flight get in EARLY? I, too, was shocked. The only snag was that while walking from school to the train in Minneapolis, I was stopped by two sheriffs (why the sheriffs were policing downtown Minneapolis, I'll never know) because I had the audacity to cross an empty street when the signal said don't walk. They ran my license and everything. That's how you know that crime is lower in the Twin Cities than in St Louis. In St. Louis, the cops would just be glad that you crossed the street safely without selling crack on your way. There was seriously a Twins game three blocks away, and they had the time to stop me for jaywalking. I mean, I know I looked homeless with my travel bag and all, but come the fuck on. Luckily, no ticket. Probably because they were afraid of me once they learned I was from St Louis.

The only bummer of the weekend was that what I thought were my fall allergies kicking in were actually not only my allergies but also a cold. Couple that with high altitude head pressure, and I wasn't feeling so hot when I got back. I must have looked a hot mess when Chris picked me up: forlornly wearing my Hawkeye sweatshirt, one runny nostril, crazy airplane hair, and mouth breathing. So basically I have been laying on the couch all day snorting snot and drinking orange juice.

My one regret: forgetting a camera so I could take a picture of the infamous Larry Craig bathroom at the MSP airport. STUPID! Oh well, all the wide-stance jokes have been made. But here's a great link from Grinder about a rather ironic submission made by Craig's wife to the Congress Cooks! cookbook.

I haven't been writing as much because school is kicking my ass, but once I get this lit review done on October 1, I should be good to go. If I'm sick enough to stay home tomorrow, maybe I'll live blog all day about daytime television.


Fake Football Widow

Being preoccupied with other things, I was mentally unprepared when Chris woke up giddy at the thought of watching football ALL DAY! For those of you who do not live with a fantasy football addict, Sunday is the biggest day of the week. There are usually three games televised, at around 12, 3, and 6. Commercials are punctuated by frantic dashes upstairs to the computer to check the statistics of Chris's fantasy teams, also known as his fake football teams, a trademark of the Sports Gal.

I will say this: usually, Chris refuses to leave the house on Sundays in the fall. Today, however, he did go to brunch at Mokabe's with me and our friends the Keeter family, walk Asher with me, and he did, at halftime of the Bears/Chargers game, go to the video store with me. This is extremely rare. The trip to the video store was actually an exercise in futility because we cannot possibly WATCH the videos we rented. We must watch football. I cannot watch the videos upstairs without Chris, because he likes to watch videos together.

We cannot pause the football game using handy Tivo, and then watch parts of, say, and episode from the second season of Weeds, and then return to the game. Although this way, you can fast-forward through the commercials, then we are not watching it "as it happens", even though he has no other outside influences (unless he uses the aforementioned computer) to spoil what happened during the four or five minutes he might be behind, it is unacceptable to delay the viewing any longer than the FCC delays it.

During said commercials, which are, for the most part, idiotic, they usually return to the game with an extended close-up of a cheerleader with gigantic cleavage. It's as if the production team just wants to really stick it to the wives and girlfriends of America. "Hey, we know we are monopolizing your Sunday time with your partner, time that could be spent doing something meaningful or productive, but you know what? We're going to put some titties in their face while we're doing it!" Fuck you, Fox Sports. I already hated your News division, now I hate your sports.



My post on Tuesday for Green Options, about easy steps to go green in college, was named by Treehugger as a favorite green blog post of the week. Treehugger is the biggest environmental website out there, so I was extremely surprised and happy, especially considering I had my biggest case of writer's block ever this week. So check it out.