Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I realize this is an ad for HBO but I still like it, for obvious reasons.
Speaking of which if you haven't checked out the Banksy beginning for the new simpsons...
click here to see it.
Is it recuperation? Is it detournment? Is it post modern irony? Is it all of the above?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I shrugged and opened my book as I waited for sign ups to begin. I'd been to Brainwash, the cafe/laundromat before with a friend. We'd come on thursday for the open mic comedy night. Hordes of aspiring comedians come to the laundromat to drink beer and tell bad jokes. Tonight I resolved to be one of them. I looked up from my book and saw a middle aged man in a trench coat. As he strode before me I noticed that he wore only bondage underwear. "Faggot," I cried.
"Oh my gawd, that was so inappropriate," the gay hipster cried in between shreiks of laughter. "I seriously want to suck a dick, seriously. What's your name?"
I went inside with him and we signed up. I would be number 24 which meant a long wait. Each comedian got roughly four minutes, plus or minus depending on the emcee, Tony Sparks, accounting of the clock. I sat at the front and watched a handful of comedians. Most of them told bad jokes. The funniest joke was; "Who gets full eating pussy? - Cannibals." I didn't laugh but I wrote it down.
I was a little nervous about my own bit. I'd been working on it for a week or so, honing it into perfection, but was worried about the racist comment in it about black people not tipping. I resolved to do the joke when a black woman, who had been sitting in the front of the audience heckling the comedians, bought a round of drinks. She didn't tip.
My bit went as follows.
I hate my job. I work as a server at a restaurant in Berkeley. You'll never notice my loathing as I'm so good at putting on a happy face. I'm a ray of sunshine when I greet my customers.
"Hi, My name is Matt, what can I get for you?"
This actually translates into: "You fucking terds! Stuff your shit pits as fast as you can til they burst then give me all your money cuz I'm here to get PAID!"
I hate even being there. I always take smoke breaks. I don't smoke but I like to stand outside, it makes me feel all tingly. I hate when people ask me for cigarettes though. I never give my smokes away cuz if I don't have any cigarettes I can't take smoke breaks.
Waiting has made me a terrible person. I've become a compulsive liar. When a customer asks me; "Oh would you recommend this salad?"
I reply, "Its delicious." Even if that salad tastes like ground up baby sauteed in pig shit. Its ridiculous, who asks that? Of course I'm going to say its good, its like asking a prostitute if her vagina is tight.
I've also become racist from waiting tables. I wasn't always like this. I used to be a nice guy with a nice smile, a real ray of sunshine.
Now when someone comes into the restaurant I look at them and see a pie chart over thie heads depicting their spending habits and if they're black, latino, asian, a foreigner, or under 21 that pie in teh sky says; "Fuck You Waiter!!"
I remember the tipping point. I was a liberal guy in Berkeley, the lefty paradise. There is no racism in Berkeley. I had a table of middle aged black ladies and I gave them excellent service.
"Extra napkins, no problem!" "Lemons? I've got them right here." "Tartar sauce for your pizza? My pleasure to serve."
They even got waters for their entire table, which they didn't drink. That's like going to the bathroom and not pissing, or wearing a condom and not fucking a bitch.
I gave them exquisite service. I drop the check and thank them. A few minutes later I pick it back up. I don't open it right away. I say to myself; "I don't believe in stereotypes, I don't believe in stereotypes, I don't believe in stereotypes." I open the book up... Fucking Black People!!!
They put $5 on a $60 check. Its like that 90s rap song chorus is going through their head all the time. "I got five on it!" $5 on a $20 check that's good but $5 on $60 that's less than 9%. Fuck I'm here to get paid.
---1---- I know, I know, its a cultural thing. Its not something you can blame anyone for. Its just not part of the culture to tip well, its like how being cool is not part of white culture.
Anyways this is my first time doing stand up and I thought I'd be really nervous, or embarrassed. I just did the sensible thing and pictured you all naked which is giving me an erection. I don't know if I should be nervous about my boner or embarrassed the my dick is so small you can't see it.
No one really laughed during the bit. I got off the stage and some bearded dude started talking to me while the emcee talked about how black people don't tip because waiters don't give good service, don't quote me on that though. I also forgot one of the last jokes, marked above with a 1. I probably came across as even more racist than I actually am. Oh well, the plight of being white.
It was a good experience if I did "bomb." It taught me a few things; 1) maybe I'm not funny 2) White dudes making fun of black people is probably just racist and not funny 3) no one thinks complaining about customers as a waiter when you're at a cafe is humorous.
I don't intend on doing another bit. I think I'm pretty happy with how I'll be known after doing this bit, as a racist with a small dick.
Monday, September 20, 2010
FOR much of April and May, Bangkok’s Rajprasong shopping district was taken over by a raucous protest movement that was eventually quashed by the army. On Sunday, four months after that episode ended in bloodshed, the “red shirts” were back. Several thousand showed up to chant anti-government slogans, release red balloons, tie ribbons on lampposts and call for justice and democracy. If you squinted, and ignored the charred shopping centre torched during the clashes, it was a vision of the April demonstrations. But Sunday’s influx of protesters did not linger. By evening, the crowd had drifted away, having made their point: the red shirts are back.
Thailand’s prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has tried to push the tragic events of April and May into the background. He has appointed various committees to investigate the violence and to address social and economic inequities in Thailand. Officials tried to frame the red-shirt revolt as a power play by Thailand’s former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been accused of bankrolling the protests and inciting violence. Thailand’s economy has picked up steam, defying predictions of a downturn in the second quarter. Mr Abhisit’s supporters hope that continued growth and a large dollop of welfare spending will save him from defeat when parliamentary elections are held, sometime next year.
Sunday’s gathering was a riposte to such glib optimism. Red shirts are still fuming over their rough treatment by the army, which stands squarely behind Mr Abhisit. A popular slogan at Rajprasong was "Stop Killing People". Others made the point that though 91 people were killed, most of them at the hands of heavily armed soldiers, the army has shown no remorse. “We want society to remember that people died here. Everything the government says is one-sided,” said a middle-aged woman. As if to confirm her view, Thailand’s state-run broadcast media largely ignored the protest in Bangkok, as well as a large rally held in Chiang Mai.
The red shirts are no angels. Armed militants emerged from the shadows during clashes with troops; some of the dead and injured were soldiers, including a decorated army colonel. Low-level thuggery has often marred red-shirt protests in Bangkok and elsewhere. The charred shopping centre is a reminder of the chaos they unleashed on the capital's downtown in May. Many Thais are turned off by both the pro-Thaksin red shirts and their arch-rivals, the royalist "yellow shirts", who occupied Bangkok’s international airports in December 2008.
Mr Abhisit rode to power on the back of the yellow-shirt protest movement. He has failed to bring them to task for their transgressions, even while hundreds of red shirts were rounded up and jailed in May. Much of the movement’s leadership is in prison or on the run. Mr Thaksin lives overseas, and flits between countries on various passports, thumbing his nose at Thai efforts to extradite him over a politically motivated corruption conviction. He is among the red-shirt figures facing terrorism charges, though few expect him to stand trial.
Bangkok has been under a state of emergency since April, but Sunday’s protest was allowed to go ahead. That it ended peacefully may give the government room to lift the emergency when it comes up for renewal in two weeks. But that does not mean that the capital is secure. A series of bombings and attempted bombings have been blamed on militants among the red shirts. Thailand’s southernmost provinces have been under emergency rule for five years as troops battle a shadowy Muslim-led insurgency. That conflict shows no sign of ending. The national politics is coming to bear an uncanny resemblance.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Winning four world titles is not enough to get noticed in India, just ask 27 year-old boxing champion Mary Kom. She could have been a household name by now if she had chosen to pursue a more “ladylike” sport like tennis or ﬁeld hockey. Instead, she is ﬁghting against centuries of tradition in a country that expects women to be sweet and docile. With cropped hair, deﬁned shoulders and a mean left hook, she is anything but your typical Indian girl.
With This Ring lets you step into the ring with members of the Indian Women’s National Boxing Team. From their villages to the podium, these girls quickly rise to the top of their game. At the 4th World Women’s Boxing Competition in 2006, the Indian team makes a clean sweep, winning eight medals and the Championship Team title. They ofﬁcially become the best women’s boxing team in the world. And the most under-appreciated.
Art Threat recently fired off a few questions to this dynamic duo. Their responses, with images, and a sneak peak video of the film are below.
Art Threat: What is this project about and how did you get the idea?
Anna Sarkissian: Since 2006, we’ve been on the trail of the Indian women’s senior national boxing team. They’re some of the top boxers in the world, with multiple world champions in their midst. Ameesha originally found out that there were women boxing in India after seeing their images at a World Press Photo Exhibit. With her Indian heritage (she’s Gujarati), she was really curious to find out how these women were able to pursue boxing when they are expected to marry and have kids by the age of 20. The social pressure to be a dutiful daughter, wife, and mother, is intense. When she found out they were some of the top boxers in the world, she knew there was a story to tell. We talked about going to India, and upon finding out that there would be a boxing world championship in New Delhi for the first and possibly last time, we knew we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. So in November, we booked last minute flights and headed to India. We had no funding, no equipment of our own. We basically begged and borrowed and did whatever was necessary to get ourselves there. It was well worth it and we were able to witness history in the making; India won four world championship titles and was crowned best team in the world.
Essentially, we’re looking at the women behind the gloves. We’re interested in their personal stories, finding out how they have overcome struggles in order to pursue boxing, which can be their ticket out of poverty. Successful athletes are often rewarded with a cushy government job, meaning they would be set for life. Many girls on the team are able to support their entire families with their earnings. As you can imagine, many of them come from small, conservative villages where boxing is misunderstood. Yet once they start winning medals internationally and earning their own money, their families become more accepting.
One of their parents’ primary concerns is that boxing will disfigure their faces, and they won’t be able to marry. It may sound trivial to us to have a cut or scar on your face, but marriage is a pivotal rite of passage in India. Some of the boxers are 25 or 26 years old and still haven’t married. Society views them as old maids. They’ve given up on some of them. You can imagine their relief to find out that Ameesha and I (we’re 37 and 27) aren’t married. We formed some common ground on that front.
People have a lot of preconceived notions about these boxers, who train to “hit other women in the head” three times a day, six days a week, 11 months a year. Even here, when we show our footage, people are startled by their appearance: short hair, defined shoulders, men’s jeans. People will come up to them on the street, asking, “Are you a boy or a girl?” just to rattle them. They laugh it off. They go about their business inside the walls of the training camp, focusing on boxing. They are marginalized by society, in many ways, but they keep training. They ignore the snide remarks and stares because they have their sights set on the next world championship, the Asian Games, and the Olympics.
Publicly, most people said they supported women’s boxing. We would ask people on the street, “what if your mother wanted to try boxing?” They told us they would encourage her to do so. But others were more candid, saying it was degrading for women to wear tracksuits and other cheap clothing when they should be in saris. Others said they would prefer for women to focus on “womanly pursuits” like weaving or pottery. One man said he wouldn’t let his wife box because she would put him in the hospital.
The site seems a little different than a standard doc film site, what is the plan for the website?
AS: We hope to make people part of the process as the film comes together. Since we’ve been sharing the production experience with an audience on our CitizenShift blog since 2006, we felt that we wanted to continue to have the same kind of relationship during the post-production. We’ve been very candid about the challenges and problems we’ve had in making this film. In a sense, we feel like we have nothing to hide. We would like our online presence to be a warts and all portrayal of the way that With This Ring was made. It feels strange to talk about ourselves in the third person while promoting our film, so we keep things intimate. It’s just the two of us working on this in our free time, there’s no huge bureaucratic production house shaping our words. We want it to feel genuine. Since this is a personal project for both of us, we wanted others to join us on the meandering journey, wherever it goes.
We hope to post more clips as we get deeper into the post-production process and of course we’ll save some nuggets for the actual film. Apparently, there’s this thing called social media that we’re supposed to be utilizing to promote our film. We don’t know the first thing about tweeting but we’re open to the idea.
What’s the best story/moment you have from filming? And the worst?
AS: We’ve been lucky in the sense that we’ve had many wonderful moments. Our film was made on a non-existent budget and we had unbelievable support from the families of the boxers, coaches, and even complete strangers. In India, they have a saying that the “guest is like a god.” You really feel that. We enjoyed more delicious meals at people’s homes than either of us could have imagined. It’s also not customary for two women to travel alone in India, so people were quite nervous about us gallivanting around the country by ourselves. They really went out of their way to ensure that we were taken care of and welcomed us wholeheartedly. That’s really what I’ll always remember about India.
The worst? Upon arriving in India back in 2006, the coaches told us we were welcome to shoot the team – for the day. Somehow, there was some miscommunication and the team didn’t understand that we were coming to India for two months expressly to document their lives. That was a minor roadblock, to say the least. We spent a few weeks waiting outside their training hall, hoping to speak to them. Eventually, we gained the trust of the coaches and the athletes and developed a good relationship with them. Since 2006, we have met up with them in Ontario when they came for a training camp in 2008, spent 10 weeks with them at the training camps in India in summer 2008, travelled to China with them for the world championships in November 2008, and returned to India in December 2008 for a final visit. At this point, we’ve finished shooting and we’re starting editing.
Ameesha Joshi: One of the best moments was the first day we arrived at the boxing camp in India in the summer of 2008, 2 years after our first visit. Since then Mary Kom, one of our main characters and currently the world`s best boxer, had left the boxing scene for two years after having twin boys. We had no idea if she planned on returning to the sport, so it was absolutely a surprise to discover she had and arrived at the boxing camp the exact same day we did to begin production. Mary was determined to win her 4th gold medal at the next Championships, which she did! But the best part of her returning was her arrival with a baby in each arm. We got to witness her juggling an extensive training workout while taking care of her two babies. She was often up all night from them crying, but always got up at the crack of dawn with all the other boxers for a grueling workout and their workouts occurred three times a day, 6 days a week. It was impressive to say the least.
There are many of the smaller moments I remember fondly, like getting caught in the rain during an outdoor boxing competition in monsoon season. Sometimes the rain would come down like a waterfall without any prior warning of a drizzle. The chaos that ensued was rather comical, everyone was screaming through the downpour, racing to get inside, many scrambled and crouched underneath the ring for cover. It was seconds before you got completely soaked so you had to move fast. Then there was us huddling under our ridiculously large golf umbrella Anna had brought from home, it ended up being one of the most valuable items we packed that summer, no question it saved our equipment. The boxers ended up continuing the competition indoors, with a makeshift ring, using their backpacks to mark the edges. They always made the best of any situation and there most common response to any hitch or hurdle were always the words ‘ no problem!’ One of the worst times was the whole process in getting special permission to visit the north eastern state of Manipur where Mary Kom lives in 2006. We bought our plane tickets before realizing that non-resident Indians need special permission to visit. The ordeal to get the paper work approved was long and arduous, involving long lineups over many days. We kept pushing back our plane ticket to Manipur without knowing if we would even receive permission in time. We had non-refundable plane tickets back to Canada, and with next to no budget, our schedule was fixed so it was quite stressful, but in the end we did managed to get the permission, and only because a kind Manipuri family we befriended in Delhi pulled some strings at the last minute. Then there was the moment we arrived in Manipur to find out Mary had just left for Mumbai for a last minute engagement. We were more than relieved to learn she would return three days before we would leave Manipur, and she did everything to shower us with incredible Manipuri hospitality during those precious days.
Your previous short (Anna’s) was an experimental documentary, will this one be as well? And what do you feel are the problems/limitations with more conventional documentary?
AS: It’s a tough business and I can appreciate how incredibly difficult it is to make a good film. I think documentaries are often lumped together as being “badly made” by other filmmakers, with shaky camera, choppy editing and so on. In some cases, people are so focused on the message that any trace of art disappears. Personally, I think Powerpoint is a great visual tool for conveying facts and information – but I don’t want to see pie-charts at the movies. I’m certainly not a master filmmaker, but looking back at some of the NFB box sets from the glory years, I think we’ve lost touch with the art of documentary. They were true technical masters who had a great sense of storytelling. My dream would to be able to combine those two elements in a film (or die trying).
I’m not sure that our finished product will be television-friendly. We’re wrestling with aesthetic decisions now, trying to maintain our vision without losing our audience. Ameesha and I certainly have a vision for the film that is not entirely conventional. We like long takes, wide shots, slow motion, slow pacing – letting your eye roam around the frame. At the same time, we want our film to be accessible because the stories are important to us.
AJ: In addition to Anna`s comment about our film being accessible is the consideration of audience reactions from different cultures. Although we can’t predict what the majority will think, we at least understand the audience in Canada better than in India, where we hope the film will be widely viewed. It’s very important for us to give these boxers the media attention they need. But in India, where Bollywood is the popular film format, I really do wonder whether the general population will enjoy our artistic approach. I can only hope.
Anything you’d like to add?
AS: A lot! Not sure what else you’d like to know that isn’t on our website…But here’s a description of our two main characters.
AJ: Women`s boxing will be featured as an Olympic sport for the first time at the 2012 Games in London. Having a chance to compete at the Olympics is the ultimate dream for most athletes. All hopes are on Mary Kom, but no question there are other boxers on their team that have the potential to strike gold and make history. We were in India during the last summer Olympics and witnessed how the three Indians who won a medal were splashed throughout the media. I can only imagine that this display of pride would make a significant difference in changing the social taboos surrounding women`s boxing in India.
I offer training in both philosophy and boxing. Over the years, some of my colleagues have groused that my work is a contradiction, building minds and cultivating rational discourse while teaching violence and helping to remove brain cells. Truth be told, I think philosophers with this gripe should give some thought to what really counts as violence. I would rather take a punch in the nose any day than be subjected to some of the attacks that I have witnessed in philosophy colloquia. However, I have a more positive case for including boxing in my curriculum for sentimental education.
The unmindful attitude towards the body so prevalent in the West blinkers us to profound truths that the skin, muscles and breath can deliver like a punch.
Western philosophy, even before Descartes’ influential case for a mind-body dualism, has been dismissive of the body. Plato — even though he competed as a wrestler — and most of the sages who followed him, taught us to think of our arms and legs as nothing but a poor carriage for the mind. In “Phaedo,” Plato presents his teacher Socrates on his deathbed as a sort of Mr. Spock yearning to be free from the shackles of the flesh so he can really begin thinking seriously. In this account, the body gives rise to desires that will not listen to reason and that becloud our ability to think clearly.
In much of Eastern philosophy, in contrast, the search for wisdom is more holistic. The body is considered inseparable from the mind, and is regarded as a vehicle, rather than an impediment, to enlightenment. The unmindful attitude towards the body so prevalent in the West blinkers us to profound truths that the skin, muscles and breath can deliver like a punch.
While different physical practices may open us to different truths, there is a lot of wisdom to be gained in the ring. Socrates, of course, maintained that the unexamined life was not worth living, that self-knowledge is of supreme importance. One thing is certain: boxing can compel a person to take a quick self-inventory and gut check about what he or she is willing to endure and risk. As Joyce Carol Oates observes in her minor classic, “On Boxing”:
Boxers are there to establish an absolute experience, a public accounting of the outermost limits of their beings; they will know, as few of us can know of ourselves, what physical and psychic power they possess — of how much, or how little, they are capable.
Though the German idealist philosopher G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) never slipped on the gloves, I think he would have at least supported the study of the sweet science. In his famous Lord and Bondsman allegory, Hegel suggests that it is in mortal combat with the other, and ultimately in our willingness to give up our lives, that we rise to a higher level of freedom and consciousness. If Hegel is correct, the lofty image that the warrior holds in our society has something to do with the fact that in her willingness to sacrifice her own life, she has escaped the otherwise universal choke hold of death anxiety. Boxing can be seen as a stylized version of Hegel’s proverbial trial by battle and as such affords new possibilities of freedom and selfhood.
Viewed purely psychologically, practice in what used to be termed the “manly art” makes people feel more at home in themselves, and so less defensive and perhaps less aggressive. The way we cope with the elemental feelings of anger and fear determines to no small extent what kind of person we will become. Enlisting Aristotle, I shall have more to say about fear in a moment, but I don’t think it takes a Freud to recognize that many people are mired in their own bottled up anger. In our society, expressions of anger are more taboo than libidinal impulses. Yet, as our entertainment industry so powerfully bears out, there is plenty of fury to go around. I have trained boxers, often women, who find it extremely liberating to learn that they can strike out, throw a punch, express some rage, and that no one is going to die as a result.
And let’s be clear, life is filled with blows. It requires toughness and resiliency. There are few better places than the squared circle to receive concentrated lessons in the dire need to be able to absorb punishment and carry on, “to get off the canvas” and “roll with the punches.” It is little wonder that boxing, more than any other sport, has functioned as a metaphor for life. Aside from the possibilities for self-fulfillment, boxing can also contribute to our moral lives.
Aristotle recognized that a person could know a great deal about the Good and not lead a good life.
In his “Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle argues that the final end for human beings is eudaimonia ─ the good life, or as it is most often translated, happiness. In an immortal sentence Aristotle announces, “The Good of man (eudaimonia) is the active exercise of his soul’s faculties in conformity with excellence or virtue, or if there be several human excellences or virtues, in conformity with the best and most perfect among them.”
A few pages later, Aristotle acknowledges that there are in fact two kinds of virtue or excellence, namely, intellectual and moral. Intellectual excellence is simple book learning, or theoretical smarts. Unlike his teacher Plato and his teacher’s teacher, Socrates, Aristotle recognized that a person could know a great deal about the Good and not lead a good life. “With regard to excellence,” says Aristotle, “it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it.” 
Aristotle offers a table of the moral virtues that includes, among other qualities, temperance, justice, pride, friendliness and truthfulness. Each semester when I teach ethics, I press my students to generate their own list of the moral virtues. “What,” I ask, “are the traits that you connect with having character?” Tolerance, kindness, self-respect, creativity, always make it on to the board, but it is usually only with prodding that courage gets a nod. And yet, courage seems absolutely essential to leading a moral life. After all, if you do not have mettle, you will not be able to abide by your moral judgments. Doing the right thing often demands going down the wrong side of the road of our immediate and long-range self-interests. It frequently involves sacrifices that we do not much care for, sometimes of friendships, or jobs; sometimes, as in the case with Socrates, even of our lives. Making these sacrifices is impossible without courage.
According to Aristotle, courage is a mean between rashness and cowardliness; that is, between having too little trepidation and too much. Aristotle reckoned that in order to be able to hit the mean, we need practice in dealing with the emotions and choices corresponding to that virtue. So far as developing grit is concerned, it helps to get some swings at dealing with manageable doses of fear. And yet, even in our approach to education, many of us tend to think of anything that causes a shiver as traumatic. Consider, for example, the demise of dodge ball in public schools. It was banned because of the terror that the flying red balls caused in some children and of the damage to self-esteem that might come with always being the first one knocked out of the game. But how are we supposed to learn to stand up to our fears if we never have any supervised practice in dealing with the jitters? Of course, our young people are very familiar with aggressive and often gruesome video games that simulate physical harm and self-defense, but without, of course, any of the consequences and risks that might come with putting on the gloves.
Boxing provides practice with fear and with the right, attentive supervision, in quite manageable increments. In their first sparring session, boxers usually erupt in “fight or flight” mode. When the bell rings, novices forget everything they have learned and simply flail away. If they stick with it for a few months, their fears diminish; they can begin to see things in the ring that their emotions blinded them to before. More importantly, they become more at home with feeling afraid. Fear is painful, but it can be faced, and in time a boxer learns not to panic about the blows that will be coming his way.
While Aristotle is able to define courage, the study and practice of boxing can enable us to not only comprehend courage, but “to have and use” it. By getting into the ring with our fears, we will be less likely to succumb to trepidation when doing the right thing demands taking a hit. To be sure, there is an important difference between physical and moral courage. After all, the world has seen many a brave monster. The willingness to endure physical risks is not enough to guarantee uprightness; nevertheless, it can, I think contribute in powerful ways to the development of moral virtue.
NOTES G.W.F. Hegel, “Phenomenology of Spirit,” Chapter 4.
 Aristotle, “Nicomachean Ethics,” Book I, Chapter 7.
 ibid., Book I, Chapter 13.
 ibid, Book X, Chapter 9.
 ibid, Book III, Chapter 7.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Worry seeps in about my body breaking down before I'm ready for it. I think that's been one of my concerns since my last bout, when I broke my face, I'm not afraid of being broken again; we age and thus we break. My anxiety is about breaking down too soon.
I remember a long time ago hearing older people talk about getting cuts. Come to think of it my grandma would become really vexed when she got cut. I used to think "What's the big deal, a day or two and its gone Grandma." Of course that day was more of a week, or two. Even seven years ago my body was different, I could gnash at myself with alcohol, dash my brains against the wall, engage in the nihilistic destruction of youth, now though my body seems more fragile, more likely to break. My hangovers are longer, my headaches more, and the self destruction seems more self sabotaging.
I don't really know what to do with this anxiety mainly because the worst of the worry is that it is real. What if I don't get to fight again? I knew from the start that I wouldn't be the world's best fighter, nor have the best record, nor be the strongest or bravest, maybe I defeated myself from the start by not having an invicible "winner's mind" by being all too human. I know, like all fighters know, that they have an expiration date. It can come at any time. Realizing that is hard. Any professional sports player must have to deal with that when they get injured. Sometimes there is no last hurrah, no final game, no walking out off the field on one's terms.
It really maddens me, this worry, no matter how real it can be. One of the reasons I got into fighting was because it was a way for me to control my fate. We live in a world we were are tracked. Increasingly every choice we make is a choice that buttresses the world of capital. I don't think that my choices are that important, but I'd like to believe that they are. It doesn't matter how much I study or the personal choices I make more likely than not I'll end up working class or worse with the same problems as my peers or worse. Its not just in what I've read, its in watching my peers.
So what do I do? Sneer at the worrying veneer that attempts to don my countenance? Try to rid myself of worry? No longer engage in dangerous activity and so try to prolong myself a little longer? They just don't seem like choices, at least not the kind I like to make.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Check it out here.
The second video is at first quite understandable, sexy secretary types groping on some milk shakes. The second part is unnerving. Who goes into orgasmic writhing at the dentist's? Maybe when the office has a disco ball and weird pink liquid is pouring down on your body.
Check that shit out here.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Depeche Mode's song "Wrong" reminded me of the experience. The video rules and is worth watching.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The plane had just landed, but he was ready to take off.
A JetBlue flight attendant blew his top, grabbed some beer and bolted out an emergency slide at Kennedy Airport Monday - then headed home to have sex with his boyfriend.
After he was bonked in the head by a bag, Steven Slater stunned passengers by spewing profanity and ranting about quitting as the flight from Pittsburgh pulled up to the gate about noon.
"To the f-----g a--hole who told me to f--k off, it's been a good 28 years," Slater, 38, purred, cops said. "I've had it. That's it," he added, a passenger said.
The mad-as-hell steward grabbed a couple of brewskis and popped one open before activating the emergency exit, witnesses told airport employees.
After tossing his two carry-on bags on the slide, he followed them to the tarmac.
Slater - who actually first started working for airlines 20 years ago, not 28 - then walked to the AirTrain, stripped off his company tie and flung it off as bemused passengers watched.
"I wish we could all quit our jobs like that," said passenger Phil Catelinet, 36, of Brooklyn, who was on the flight and the AirTrain.
"He seemed kind of happy about it. He was like, 'I just quit my job.' "
Port Authority police said it took jetBlue 25 minutes to report the incident, allowing Slater time to leave the scene.
Cops found him in bed with his boyfriend when they arrived to arrest him at a beachfront home in the Rockaways with a porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, sources said.
He boasted to skeptical cops that he really did escape by chute with his carry-on luggage.
"Oh, yes, I did! I threw them down first and I went down after," he told cops, sources said.
He was grinning as police walked him in handcuffs to a squad car. "He left with a big smile on his face," said neighbor Curt Karkowski.
Slater was wearing a sheepish smile when Port Authority detectives walked him to a waiting van a few hours later. He was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.
JetBlue would not say how long Slater had worked for the airline, but he wrote on his MySpace page that he was "enjoying being back in the skies" after a five-year break.
"I love to max it out with trips around the world, sometimes on a moment's notice!" he gushed.
Neighbors described Slater as a nice guy, but said he was under some stress. "Steven's mother is dying," said Judy Rochelle, whose son Kenny lives with Slater. "She has lung cancer. She's had two chemos and the prognosis is not good. They were on their way out to California this weekend to settle her affairs."
Rochelle added that Slater "watched his father die of Lou Gehrig's disease not long ago. Steven's under a lot of pressure."
Slater's MySpace page, packed with photos of him posing in his jetBlue uniform, says he beat "alcoholism and substance abuse."
He apparently reached his breaking point on Flight 1052 when a passenger tried to get a bag from the overhead compartment and it clocked Slater on the head, cops said. Words were exchanged, and the passenger cursed at Slater, they said.
After the plane arrived at the gate, he took over the intercom and began spewing abuse.
"We just looked at each other and said, 'What the heck was that about?' " said Catelinet. "I thought, 'Let me get off the plane before they stop us or something.' "
He said he was stunned when he ran into Slater on the AirTrain, bragging about his "take your plane and shove it" stunt.
"It's pretty much the craziest thing I've ever seen on a plane," Catelinet said.
The brother of Slater's partner said he was "dumbfounded" by the wacky incident.
"He's an everyday ordinary guy, a nice guy," said John Rochelle, 39.
Neighbor Janet Bavasso, an ex-flight attendant, said she couldn't imagine Slater going off.
"I just can't picture him running down the tarmac," she said.
A jetBlue co-worker who was on the flight called Slater a working-class hero.
"It's something we all fantasize about," she said. "But we have kids and a mortgage or are just too chicken - or sane - to go through with [it]."
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
On Monday, on the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport, a JetBlue attendant named Steven Slater decided he had had enough, the authorities said.
After a dispute with a passenger who stood to fetch luggage too soon on a full flight just in from Pittsburgh, Mr. Slater, 38 and a career flight attendant, got on the public-address intercom and let loose a string of invective.
Then, the authorities said, he pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and slid down, making a dramatic exit not only from the plane but, one imagines, also from his airline career.
On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart. Then he ran to the employee parking lot and drove off, the authorities said.
He was arrested at his home in Belle Harbor, Queens, a few miles from the airport, and charged with felony counts of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.
“When they hit that emergency chute, it drops down quickly within seconds,” a law enforcement official said. “If someone was on the ground and it came down without warning, someone could be injured or killed.”
In a statement, JetBlue said it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to investigate the episode. “At no time was the security or safety of our customers or crew members at risk,” the company said.
According to his online profiles, Mr. Slater has been the leader of JetBlue’s uniform redesign committee and a member of the airline’s in-flight values committee. Neighbors in California, where Mr. Slater grew up, said he had recently been caring for his dying mother, a retired flight attendant, and had done the same for his father, a pilot.
The contretemps on Monday unfolded as JetBlue Flight 1052, a regional Embraer 190 jet, landed at Kennedy around noon — on time — with 100 passengers aboard and pulled up to the gate, said another law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.
The official offered the following account:
One passenger stood up to retrieve belongings from the overhead compartment before the crew had given permission. Mr. Slater instructed the person to remain seated. The passenger defied him. Mr. Slater reached the passenger just as the person was pulling down the luggage, which struck Mr. Slater in the head.
Mr. Slater asked for an apology. The passenger instead cursed at him. Mr. Slater got on the plane’s public-address system and cursed out the passenger for all to hear. Then, after declaring that 20 years in the airline industry was enough, he blurted out, “It’s been great!” He activated the inflatable evacuation slide at a service exit and left the world of flight attending behind.
In short order, his brick two-story house on Beach 128th Street in the Rockaways, just off the ocean, was swarmed by detectives and uniformed officers from New York City and the Port Authority. “It was like there was a hostage in there,” said Curt Krakowski, who was working on the deck of a house across the street.
Mr. Slater, Mr. Krakowski said, “had a smile on his face when the cops brought him out, like, ‘Yeah, big deal.’ ” Mr. Slater was taken to a Port Authority police building at the airport and was expected to be held overnight.
One person familiar with the investigation said JetBlue took more than 20 minutes to notify the Port Authority police, allowing Mr. Slater time to get home. A spokesman for the airline declined to comment when asked about the delay, and a Port Authority spokesman said, “In matters of criminality, the Port Authority Police Department should be notified immediately.”
The episode is the latest round in what is seen as an increasingly hostile relationship between airlines and passengers.
A few weeks ago, an Air France flight attendant was arrested for stealing the wallets of first-class passengers. Last year, a Canadian singer parodied United Airlines on YouTube in a series of songs about how the airline broke his guitar.
A new study by the International Air Transport Association found an increase in instances of disgruntled passengers and violence on planes, with the chief cause being passengers who refuse to obey safety orders. By the same token, frequent-flier blogs echo with tales of “flight attendant rage.”
While JetBlue’s flight attendants are not unionized, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, Corey Caldwell, said anxieties were common on planes. “Anyone who has traveled since Sept. 11 understands that being in the cabin is stressful these days,” Ms. Caldwell said.
Photographs show him in the mountains of El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico and sitting behind the wheel of a convertible. “Steven Slater has visited 22 percent of the countries in the world!” the MySpace page announces.
Yes, and Pittsburgh, too. “Chances are I am flying 35,000 feet somewhere over the rainbow on my way to some semifabulous JetBlue Airways destination!” the MySpace page says. “Truly, some are better than others. But I am enjoying being back in the skies and seeing them all.”
A former roommate, John Rochelle, said Mr. Slater was seldom home. When Mr. Slater was not working, Mr. Rochelle said, he was usually in Thousand Oaks, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, caring for his sick mother.
A neighbor there, Ron Franz, said Mr. Slater also cared for his father as he was dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mr. Franz, 72, was hard-pressed to explain Mr. Slater’s actions on Monday. “It could be the pressure of his mother’s illness, because that’s not the type of behavior or conduct that Steve exhibits,” he said. “He’s a very conscientious, responsible individual.”
But a former flight attendant, Janet Bavasso, who lives next door to Mr. Slater in Queens, found nothing mysterious at all.
“Enough is enough — good for him,” Ms. Bavasso said. “If he would have called me, I would have picked him up.”
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
A week or so ago I went to Barnes and Noble. This is rather a banal store but that day I was excited because Bret Easton Ellis' new novel "Imperial Bedrooms," was out. I picked up a copy right away. I brought it to the cashier and told her I was excited about reading it.
"Cool," she replied. "Do you have a Barnes & Noble card?"
"No," I said.
"Would you like one? It save you 10% on your next purchase of $30 or more."
"Do you need your parking validated?"
"Nope. You're pretty good at the list of things you have to say to customers."
"Thanks," she replied in a dead pan voice. "I'm also good at dealing with the constant rejection."
The minimalistic novel is easy to read with its terse style. The bareness of the writing allows its salient yet unsaid emotions pour forth. The exuding feelings mainly deal with the lead character, Clay, a successful screenwriter's rampant narcissism. Ellis points to Clay's neuroticism with his opening quote of Raymond Chandler. "There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself."
Clay returns to L.A. just as Ellis returns to the same characters as he did previously in "Less than Zero." "Imperial Bedrooms" is a sequel to Ellis' first novel of glamorous vapidity of young rich kids in the 80s. The kids do coke, do each other, and listen to the Pyschedelic Furs. Its awesome. "Imperial Bedrooms" is set in modern times and in a the oh so modern world of Hollywood (not the town but the spectacular ambiance).
The novel is dark and empty. This is depicted early on when Ellis describes the view from the balcony of the main characters condo.
"The view is impressive without becoming a study in isolation; it's more intimate than the one a friend had who lived on Appian Way, which was so far above the city it seemed as if you were looking at a vast and abandoned world laid out in anonymous grids and quadrants, a view that confirmed you were much more alone than you thought you were, a view that inspired the flickering thoughts of suicide. (p12,13)"
The majority of the characters in Ellis' first novel abound and the feelings are the same. Clay moves around without a moral compass, and has a variety of ambiguous relationships. His primary relationship is with a young actress whom he has the hots for, but her agenda is unclear. She stays with him for a week but its unclear completely why. Clay has promised that he can get her a part in his upcoming film, in which he is the screenwriter, but the producers nix her due to her poor acting ability. He strings her along as he becomes not only fixated on her but also emotionally dependent.
Clay and the girl fall out eventually due to a variety of soap opera incidents, for example; she's revealed to be a former prostitute from a highly selective service and has slept with many of his vapid friends. His vapid friends have also fallen madly in love with her, coincidentally enough.
The novel also demonstrates Ellis growth as a writer. While retaining the minimalistic style of his first novel he also describes a vivid and surreal scene of violent debauchery reminiscent of the infamous "American Pyscho," made famous not for the movie adaptation, nor for the gratuitous violence but for the lengthy rants on Genesis and Phil Collins.
What is also interesting about this novel is the use of technology. The main characters repeatedly use email and text messaging as valid ways of communicating with each other. Most contemporary novelists seem hesitant to talk about the way in which modern tech has changed the way in which we talk to each other.
The end of the novel, this isn't a spoiler by the way, is much the same as the beginning. Nothing has happened, the compass still spins directionlessly mad, the vapid despair of life in modern society is retained and the main character still clings to the safety of narcissism. All too true.
Check out Details interview with Ellis here. I enjoyed the interview
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
More importantly than Marxist Geography is Devo. Today's offering is the excellent Devo hit "Girl you want." Those girls are babes!
Devo also makes awesome music for this one!
Friday, July 23, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
i totally let you have the shoes, by the way <3>
Monday, July 12, 2010
NASSAU, Bahamas – The alleged "Barefoot Bandit" will be charged with illegal weapons possession and other crimes in the Bahamas following his weeklong run from authorities in the island chain, the Bahamian police commissioner said Monday.
Possession of an unlicensed handgun is the most serious of a "litany" of charges that are expected to be presented Tuesday when Colton Harris-Moore makes his first appearance before a judge, said Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade.
He said Harris-Moore did not fire at officers during his capture Sunday just off the island of Eleuthera. The commissioner said the suspect spoke with police and understood his predicament but declined to say whether there was any kind of confession.
"He's very eloquent, obviously an intelligent young man," Greenslade said at a news conference.
Greenslade said earlier that charges filed in the Bahamas will take priority over those in the U.S. Monday is a holiday on the island chain, however, and Harris-Moore was not expected to make his initial court appearance until Tuesday at the earliest.
John Henry Browne, a lawyer asked by Harris-Moore's mother to represent her son, said the theft and burglary charges in the Bahamas are relatively minor but that alleged possession of a gun at the time of his capture could complicate the case. He told CBS' "Early Show" that the 19-year-old fugitive should waive any challenge to extradition and try to return to Seattle as soon as possible.
If the charges are consolidated in federal court Harris-Moore is looking at potentially four to 12 years in prison, he said.
"These are all property cases," said Browne, who hoped to speak with Harris-Moore by phone Monday. "There's never been any danger to any human being other than Colton himself."
Browne said he hoped to speak later Monday with the suspect, who as an adult will decide himself who represents him.
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle, said that her office would seek to extradite Harris-Moore to Washington state and coordinate with local jurisdictions about how his case would proceed.
"There are obviously many jurisdictions that would like to prosecute him," she said.
His mother, Pamela Kohler of Camano Island, Washington, issued a statement expressing relief that the manhunt for her son had ended.
"I am very relieved that Colt is now safe and that no one was hurt during his capture," Kohler said. "I have not yet been able to speak to him. It has been over two-and-a-half years since I have seen him, and I miss him terribly."
Harris-Moore had stayed a step ahead of the law — stealing cars, powerboats and even airplanes, police say — while building a reputation as a 21st-century folk hero. But his celebrity became his downfall.
Witnesses on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera recognized him and called police, who captured him Sunday after a high-speed boat chase, Greenslade said at a celebratory news conference in Nassau, the capital.
Greenslade said shots were fired during the water chase, but he did not say who fired them. He said Harris-Moore was carrying a handgun that he tried to throw away.
Another senior police official, however, said police fired shots to disable the motor on the suspect's stolen boat, and that Harris-Moore threw his gun in the water. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case, also said that police recovered a laptop and a GPS locator from the suspect.
Police flew Harris-Moore in shackles to Nassau. True to the nickname, the teen with close-shorn hair was shoeless as he walked off the plane wearing short camouflage cargo pants, a short-sleeved shirt and a bulletproof vest.
Harris-Moore is blamed for several thefts in the Bahamas in the week since allegedly crash-landing a stolen plane there.
The 6-foot-5-inch (1.9-meter) Harris-Moore had been on the run since escaping from a Washington state halfway house in 2008. He is accused of breaking into dozens of homes and committing burglaries across Washington, as well as in British Columbia and Idaho.
He is also suspected of stealing at least five planes — including the aircraft he allegedly lifted in Indiana and flew more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) to the Bahamas, despite a lack of formal flight training.
Some of the actions appeared intended to taunt police: In February, someone who broke into a grocery store in Washington's San Juan Islands drew cartoonish, chalk-outline feet all over the floor.
Through it all, his ranks of supporters grew. Some of his more than 60,000 Facebook fans posted disappointed messages Sunday, while others promoted T-shirts and tote bags with the words "Free Colton!" and "Let Colton Fly!"
Even some in the Bahamas had mixed feelings about his arrest.
"I feel like it would have been good if he got away because he never hurt anybody, but then he was running from the law," said Ruthie Key, who owns a market on Great Abaco Island and let Harris-Moore use her wireless Internet connection July 5.
"He seemed very innocent when I spoke with him at the store. I don't think he'd hurt anybody," Key said.
Island police had been searching for the teen since he allegedly crash-landed the plane on Abaco, where he was blamed for at least seven burglaries. The search expanded to Eleuthera after police there recovered a 44-foot (13-meter) powerboat reported stolen from Abaco.
Victims of the crimes Harris-Moore is accused of were happy to see him in custody.
"These people that support him, they've never been violated by having him break into their homes or businesses," said Joni Fowler, manager of a cafe on Orcas Island north of Seattle where Harris-Moore is accused of taking as much as $1,500. "Just knowing he has a huge network of supporters makes me really worry about the state of this country."
Fowler said she hopes Harris-Moore's arrest and upcoming court appearances will deflate his mystique and fame — "once everybody figures out he's no god."
Shauna Snyder, a private investigator on Whidbey Island near Camano, said she set up a legal defense fund for Harris-Moore at the request of his mother. She said that although she didn't know how much had been raised so far, the fund has been getting donations.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I had lunch today in berkeley at a downtown thai-vegetarian spot. The food was okay and as I was talking to my friend I remembered why I dislike Berkeley so much, it is boring without a night life and most of all it has pretensions to be a garden city (The sustainable city here)
The idea that you can green your city is a preposterous one and ignores what a city is; a vast landscape of concrete. The buildings, the roads, the infrastructure of modern cities are cemented into the ground. By introducing trees, plants play pyschosocial roles, as stand-ins for natures.
"Simultaneously evocative of the raw, dark power of forests and the generous perfection of the Garden of Eden, trees symbolize man's uncomfortable relationship to the natural world. But this is an inversion of the natural order. Wild nature, or what may be left of it, seems all but removed from collective experience. Instead our cities become dioramas, providing us with the safe experience of, and carefully pruned effects of, nature in episodic demonstrations and specimens."
The Infrastructural City (I'm part of an online reading group. The latest chapter on trees can be looked at here.)
The greenery of Berkeley gives the residents the illusion that nature is still with us. Obviously there are benefits to having trees in modern urban environments; "A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds/year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings. In one year an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven 8,700 miles, roughly the same number of miles that an average driver in California drives every year." (Infrastructural city)
Yet despite the pyschological, and environmental benefits of trees in urban landscapes I can't help but feel as if its a big facade. Cities are not environmentally sound, we look at any city and see the slow suck on nature; Vegas and LA's constant need for water are good examples. I don't think that you can have ecologically sound cities in the same way that you can't have working green capitalism.
Furthermore there is nothing "natural" left, the urban sphere of society now borders every wild preserve touching it with its civilization. The majority of earth's inhabitants now live in urbanized areas now. The city is everywhere.
That said I like the blight of industry, I realize that it is unsound, violent, not "sustainable" and creates ugly angry people. I think there is a raw honesty in the landscape of the city desert that is West Oakland. I'd rather the thugs of west oakland to the bland hippies of berkeley.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
As much as the portrayal of gender diversity has been provocatively acknowledged by Thai audiences, Teerawat Thongmitr of Shade of Divas ladyboy troupe still hope for changes for the better, and more doors of opportunity becoming available for transgenderists.
Shade of Divas PHOTO: YINGYONG UN-ANONGRAK
"While male and female actors are commonly cast as different characters in showbiz, when it comes to transgender or transvestite roles, not many producers care to cast the actors. They usually just take the same old actors, let alone adopt scripts that would break the stereotypes involved with the issue," said outspoken transgenderist Teerawat, who prefers to be addressed as Tina.
At the end of last year, while performing a small showcase with her friends in Udon Thani, Tina began to take such thoughts more seriously, and the result was the birth of talented ladyboy group Shade of Divas.
Comprised of members with different career backgrounds - emcee, fashion stylist, former ladyboy band member - as the leader of the group, Tina explained that the idea of the project was also ignited by the fact that she found great talent among her friends, and uniting as a group could possibly gain the attention of others and offer them a chance at success.
"Most people have had very little contact with transgenderists or transvestites, and they usually assume that katoey work only as make-up artists or cabaret performers," she said. "But, actually we exist in various corners of society. Every year, many of us graduate with good degrees or possess great talent, but there are only limited careers available to pursue," said Tina, who received a degree in Fine Art and works as a graphic designer.
Amatya ‘Lukpad’ Chaiyakam
"We hope to create a group or an agency for transvestites and transgender women. For those film or television producers out there, if you are looking for a 'unique' katoey character, you know where to go now," said Tina, laughing.
On top of their full-time responsibilities, members of Shade of Divas have continuously been bombarded with offers for gigs, from modelling to dance shows. According to Tina, for such a new and small project, the feedback has been beyond expectations. Earlier this month, Tina fulfilled her dream by impersonating her admired diva Christina Aguilera as part of a promotional campaign in Thailand for the star's new album. But her most coveted offer came when German theatre director Nir de Volff was in Thailand to stage his debut physical theatre at Patravadi theatre early this year.
"Together with some friends from Shade of Divas, I attended the auditions for the show," said Tina. "Luckily, I was offered the chance. The experience of being part of the show was amazing."
Entitled Ministry of Truth, the performance was inspired by the famous reality show Big Brother, and has gained rave reviews and filled audiences. Tina was allowed to be herself and offered her ideas in order to develop the script with the other performers.
"The show centred around a mixed group of Thais and foreigners who shared days and nights together in a house, with one to emerge as the winner. My role was to express my thoughts on being a transgender woman. I found it fascinating for a show to dig deeper in the issue of gender, going far beyond the usual portrayal of ladyboys. As my first professional acting role, it was a great challenge, but I was so glad to be part of it," said Tina.
Teerawat ‘Tina’ Thongmitr performs in the theatre production, ‘Ministry of Truth’.
"More importantly, while working on the show, I learned to appreciate foreigners in the way respect you for who you are, regardless of your gender. If you have good ideas to share, they will listen to you," she added, noting that although Thai society is amazingly open about issues of gender, there is still a gap in equality to be filled.
"Working as a graphic designer, there have been a few cases where clients seemed to have liked my ideas, only to change their minds when they learned of my sexuality," said Tina.
After the groundbreaking success of the performance in Bangkok, Tina and other cast members of the Ministry of Truth travelled to Berlin last week as the show was commissioned to stage under its new title, On Air, at Tape Pub and Gallery, with the premiere scheduled for Friday.
"I feel lucky to have been given the chance to go to Berlin, I will see if any opportunities arise out of the Shade of Diva performances," she said.
At the photoshoot, Tina introduced 'Outlook' to the magnetic members of the group. An owner of flawless skin, a petite body and a little voice, Amatya "Lukpad" Chaiyakam, who is rather hard to imagine as a boy, was the first to share her story.
"When Tina told me about the Shade of Divas project, I thought it was a great idea to be able to work with our friends and start a strong community among transgenderists and transvestites," said Amatya, who was crowned the first runner-up at Miss Alcazar in 2005 and the winner of Miss Alcazar Lip-sync Contest 2008, marking her name among the top transgenderists in showbiz today.
Tay ‘Taya’ Peeraya, known as Cool Venus during her days with Thailand’s first ladyboy group Venus Flytrap.
Born to a Chinese family with a father who once served as a soldier, Amatya has been through a tough time fighting for her identity.
"My family runs an elephant show in Pattaya and when I was a little boy I helped my family business by riding an elephant and being a tour guide for foreign tourists. I was really good at it and, at that time, my parents thought I was going to be the one to continue the business in the future," recalled Amatya.
"It was very difficult at first. I began wearing make-up during junior high school. My family, my father in particular, couldn't stand it. We would fight often," she said. "I was very obstinate, and he eventually realised there would be no turning back for me, and stopped fighting it."
After years of guilt, she finally made amends with her parents. While competing in the Miss Alcazar beauty pageant, she took to the stage and apologised to her parents for the past and thanked them both for their support and understanding.
"Now, my parents introduce me as their 'daughter'," she said, flashing her sweet smile.
Besides being a member of Shade of Divas, Amatya is among the top performers at the Alcazar, one of the leading cabaret shows in Pattaya.
On the other hand, another member Tay "Taya" Peeraya, has a different background story.
"I was blessed for never having to struggle to be who I am," said Tay. "My family has always been very supportive."
While completing her degree in Textile Design in Australia, Taya followed her friend to attend another renowned transgender beauty contest, Miss Tiffany, and ended up with the first runner-up title in 2005. Shortly after, Taya became a member of Thailand's first ladyboy group, Venus Flytrap.
"I have always love singing and dancing, so being part of the group has been a great experience," said Taya, who currently works as a presenter of an entertainment programme on cable network Live TV's Fame Channel.
This year, her contract with the group has reached the final chapter, however, with the emergence of Shade of Divas, and Taya hopes to be able to do more of what she loves doing with her dear friends.
While the group is waiting for the completion of its official website, Shade of Divas can now be reached at its temporary house, http://www.facebook.com/shadeofdivas. And, an opportunity for other transgender women and transvestites to become new divas is now open.
"Although, all our members have been through a beauty pageant, it is not a prerequisite to join the team. What we need most is talent," explained Tina.
"To make others understand and accept us, we must show them our capabilities," she added. "And one day, a change for the better will come. Who knows? In the future, a member might be the first transgender women to play a born-woman character."
Saturday, June 19, 2010
This is a recently found gem. Who taught you to torture!?
Pulling the wings off flies
When an old lady got hit by a truck
I saw the wicked gleam in your eyes
Your sadistic suits my masochistic
And there's a whip in my valise on yeah
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught ya?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you?
Describe the special punishment room
Over my garage,
There's a whipping post, a vertical beam
You have to be in charge*
I paid a packet
For a new straight jacket
There's a whip in my valise oh yeah
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught ya?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you?
You put my head into the stocks
And then you went to choose a cane
But hey, your cat has got nine tails
You like to leave me lame
I can't thank her, my Sunday Spanker
There's a whip in my valise oh yeah
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you the torture?
Who taught ya?
Who taught ya?
Who taught ya?
Who taught you?
I'm also a big fan of Iggy, especially when he was with the Stooges. Raw Power is a great thrashing garage album! I was thinking of this song the other day when I was looking at my young asian friend. She's naive, impressionable, and horribly moral. I'm pretty sure she's going to hell!