Monday, January 23, 2017

This is What Democracy Looks Like

The Internet sucks today. Both sides are being combative. No one is listening. Men and women alike (on both sides of the issue) are being assholes that are turning Zuckerberg's brainchild into a virtual Real Housewives reunion. People are talking over each other and trying to shame left and right..and it's a shame because the event was the epitome of civility, love and solidarity.

This discordant noise is such a stark change of pace from my weekend, which included one of the most peaceful loving experiences of my life. On Saturday morning, I participated in one of many marches held to protest the views/promises given by the Trump administration. [Tangent: If you read my article over on Ravishly about my fears regarding our new president, do it.]

Over the weekend I lost count of how many posts I saw that said, "I don't get even why they are marching"...so I thought I would tell you why I was there, and what it was like. The internet is filled with armchair quarterbacking so I wanted to give an eyewitness account just in case you haven't talked in person to one of the 20,000+ people that attended in my city alone. [Tangent: Impressive for a red state, no?]
The Nashville walk was called Power Together Tennessee because it was not only women but really anyone that felt disenfranchised or who had things they wanted to bring to the forefront. It was a way of connecting in an uncertain time for many people. On a 70 degree January day [Tangent: In fact...appropriately enough, there were several signs about global warming and others saying "Science is real"...so it was being illustrated for sure in the atmosphere.] marching with me, over the river and through downtown were:  republicans (yes republicans!), democrats, veterans, churches, Muslim groups, people that identify as LGBTQA, rape victims, refugees, people from the Black Lives Matter movement, teachers [Tangent:One of my favorite signs was "Devos, DeFuck?"], healthcare professionals and lots of men and dogs [Tangent: AND CHRIS ROCK!]. Everyone had a reason to want their voices heard [Tangent: Maybe not the dogs...but who knows. I suspect my dogs votes canceled each other out. Don't you give your dogs political leanings and backstories?]
borrowed with permission from Chad McClarnon

borrowed with permission from Chad McClarnon

borrowed with permission from Chad McClarnon
Everyone was excited about the enveloping diversity and doling out high fives to other individuals bringing differing perspectives to the table. From 9 AM-2 PM, there were no instances of violence or destruction of property. That's crazy. Additionally, I had lots of friends that didn't go (for various reasons)...and that's cool, too.

Sure, people are mad at Trump, so were there anti-Trump signs? 100%!  Were there burning effagies or calls for his execution? Was it fueled by violence?  No. Not even close. [Tangent: I did see a bunch of people hugging a Bernie Sanders cutout though.] It was more like a love-in than a riot. [Tangent: In the 60s, my mom and her friend marched in a satellite march for Selma in Honolulu, and she said it sounded similar. That makes me incredibly proud.]

I had so many favorite unexpected moments that will forever be currency in my memory bank:
  •  When we rolled past the Hooters on second Avenue, the servers were clapping and and chanting and cheering us on from the sidewalk! 
  • Not one but two impressively crafted vagina costumes attended.
  • The police officers waving from the bridge and posing with the pussy hats [Tangent: Yeah the unofficial uniform was cat ears or pink knitted hats. Below I show one on Elvis that I borrowed from Instagram. I imagine some children didn't get the connection between Trump's now infamous "locker room talk" and their headgear, but I suppose explaining his use of "pussy" was more damaging.]  

 
via Instagram user


vagina on the right courtesy of Chad McClarnon


Even though I wore a killer shirt, I regretted not getting a sign together because there were so many brilliant ones, and I think I could have unearthed my semesters of advertising classes. In addition to "Jesus had two dads and he turned out okay" and "Taking away my birth control only makes more democrats", my favorites of course were the ones that blended in popular culture.  [Tangent: I felt like Princess Lea and the cast of Hamilton were practically in attendance via cardboard and sharpie marker.] Thankfully Rae caught two of my favorites in a single shot. Regina George/Rupaul 2020. 
No matter if you marched or didn't, please understand what actually went down before you turn feminism and protest into dirty words.  I know I was proud to be a part of the largest march in my city's history and to quote one of the chants we repeated over and over, I felt like "This is what democracy looks like!" Now we march on and use our voices for positivity and change. To see more, simply click here to search the hashtag #PowerTogetherTN on Instagram.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Netflix Documentary Hits & Misses Vol. 23 (January 2017 Edition)

 New year means new crop of documentaries popping up on Netflix. [Tangent: Seriously, when I got back from my new years trip to the mountains, checking what was new on Netflix was priority one...OK... maybe priority 2, because my mother just got a squatty potty...so trying that out was priority uno! Turns out it throws off my balance. Dreams can be shattered, turns out.] Am I watching the OA? No. Am I watching a film about the masking community, even though I've already seen it before when it appeared on TLC? 100%.

So what does that say about me as a person? Wait, don't answer that.  OK, lets just dig in. Shall we? This month was an embarrassment of riches.

Pervert Park- A-
This movie about a trailer park in Florida designed for recovering sex offenders will be a hard watch. You've been warned, but even still- it's deeply engrossing.  One by one you meet the residents and hear their stories, many of whom are victims of sexual assault themselves. Their stories are heartbreaking and will probably make you cringe or cry. Instead of making these men (and women) out to be monsters, it treats them respectively and helps you see how and why they got to the point of doing such unspeakable crimes. The woman's story especially will make you cringe and maybe cry. After getting this recommendation from several people, I'm glad I took them up on it.

Men in Rubber Masks- A
So you know when you watch something and you immediately have to send out a group text to make sure what you experienced was not a mirage or a fever dream. That's how I feel about this 47 minute documentary that will make you wish it was doubly long. Once I queued this up, I realized that I had seen it before on TLC under a different name, but quickly fell into its powerful vinyl grasp once again. The movie is about the masking community, grown men who transform living dolls, complete with vacant unmoving faces and skin that feels like a balloon. It also profiled a family who made their living making these weird anatomically correct bodysuits. It's a quick watch and will definitely open your eyes to something new. I rank it with Animism and My Monkey Baby, as far as short movies about weird subcultures that you wished would be much much longer. It's something you can't unsee...so take that into consideration.

Miss Sharon Jones!- A+
In a life I try to lead without regrets,  I deeply regret never seeing Sharon Jones perform live. My boyfriend is a huge fan and had been trying to make that happen for years. As I'm told (and as this movie suggests), its a transformative experience. [Tangent: He saw this doc at Belcourt by himself and sobbed.] If you know nothing about this wild force of nature (aka Miss Sharon Jones), prepare to fall deeply in obsessive love with her. Sharon Jones was a badass singer who didn't become famous until her mid to late 40's and made the oft dated-sounding soul and Motown-tinged music sound currently hip and extremely relevant. That, in itself, would make for a fascinating enough documentary, but this film has the added layer of her releasing her most successful album while trying to kick the ass of a cancer diagnosis. The film will take your face from silly grin to openly weeping...and you will want to dance the whole while. I sincerely couldn't recommend this one any more. Prepare to become a fan. 

Best and Most Beautiful Things- B+
I was super excited to see this movie after reading the very brief synopsis on one of those "Movies coming to Netflix in January" posts, then I realized it had only 2 stars on streaming. I felt a little like the air had been let out of my tires, but have learned that sometimes my tastes differ from the masses. The premise [Tangent:...and hell, even the cover...] of a it intrigued me because it was about a 20-year-old girl (Michell) with Asperger's who is blind and her struggle to become an adult and find herself. [Tangent: In the first 5 minutes you see her watching Daria and singing Kacey Musgraves in the shower...so I knew I would like this girl!] The whole movie is pretty successful in showing her in this weird transition between being a child and an adult and her struggle to get be independent and successful, and one I could have related to when I was in my early 20s. As much as I love seeing a small story examined and a life profiled, it meandered at times and there were parts I wanted to explore more [TANGENT: There is a big ol' scandalous twist thrown in pretty near the end that I was surprised wasn't the premise the whole movie hinged on!], but overall I thought it was a beautifully done study on several years in this woman's life.

Aspergers Are Us- A+
As you may have guessed by the prior review, if there if there is a disability doc showing up in my feed, I'm GOING to watch it post haste...so when I hear the premise is about a group of young men with Aspergers who form a comedy troupe- I'm all in.  I had heard about this doc before and it is produced by the Duplas brothers which I found intriguing. [Tangent: I am a big fan of The League and have seen several of their other projects like the weirdo horror movie Creep, so I was intrigued to see how a documentary would be tackled.] 10 minutes in and Jamie and I had already picked out favorite our favorite comedians of the bunch. Having known aspies in my real life, [Tangent: I lived with a girl with Aspergers in college] I am always fascinated with this diagnosis. It was commendable that the film was such that they were treated respectfully and realistically and not condescended to. THIS IS HUGE! Highly recommend. 

13th- A
I feel like everyone I know who is interested in social justice has posted on social media or told me about this movie. I've even seen events popping up around town where there is a Q and A or panel following it, so I figured it is a crucial must watch. As you've probably noticed from these reviews, I often opt for the lighter docs, but truthfully- this is an important one even though it will make you feel awful. The concept is basically what it means to be black in America today and how they were often set up for failure by society (whether it be through laws, the media and just culture in general) following the emancipation of slaves and the 13th amendment (hence the title). I try to stay really informed with sociology and have studied race in the media, so I thought I knew it all. I DID NOT. This movie is incredibly well put together and if you think racism is over or that we are all treated equally- watch this movie.

See! So many good ones! What should I watch next month? I already am destined to watch Deprogrammed, because well...CULTS! What else should I add to the docket!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gatlinburg: My first wax museum

Ever since my first trip to Gatlinburg earlier this year, the group of friends I went with have been itching to go back. After the fires devastated the area in November, we were uncertain how the touristy spot would be different, but knew we still wanted to go and put our dollars into the economy [Tangent: Mostly spending it on pizza and donuts from Donut Friar!]. Somehow the cabin we booked back in September was unscathed, which is completely crazy given within a mile there were several businesses and homes that were in ashes. [Tangent: There's a very dystopian feel to driving down a half-charred mountain and seeing one business completely burned to the bathroom tiles and then the cabin adjacent to it 100% intact. It's evident the high winds and wayward sparks were to blame for the haphazard and devastating spread of destruction. On the positive end, downtown was booming so the economy is bouncing back, which makes my heart happy.]

Because it was a holiday weekend and frigid outside, we tried to be strategic in finding a cheesy tourist activity that everyone could go for (Hitting a consensus with 9 people is tough). After much consternation, we settled on Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge, which was absolutely as amazing and terrible as we expected. [Tangent: We all thought $20 was a lot to spend for an attraction, but after researching the geotags on Instagram at lunch, we discovered that you could get really close to the wax figures and take photos...plus this group LOVES a photo op. SOLD! My friend Crystal had just gotten a brand new camera for Christmas, it seemed the perfect place to use it.] 
There have been other times when I have been near wax museums but passed up the opportunity because they sounded lame [Tangent: Or maybe even because whenever I think of them I think of that unforgettable scene in the classic movie Class Act. (I bet you thought I was gonna say House of Wax. Nope.) It took everything in my being not to imagine that in full 90s hip hop realness, that I was evading bullies by trying to blend in with the vignettes. Don't act like you didn't watch this Kid n' Play classic every time it came on cable when you were a kid. You are not above it.] But I couldn't recommend going to this place enough...especially in groups. I am so mad I have avoided them in the past, because they are ridiculous in the best way possible. 

Some of their vignettes were really confusing and dated. [Tangent: Like they had a whole setup for Seabiscuit and The Mummy (which I only loved because in 4th grade I had a raging crush on Brendan Fraser in School Ties and kind of Encino Man so a picture with him was a childhood dream realized.)..and they had a Daniel Craig figure...only it wasn't for his most iconic role, unless you think his iconic part was in Cowboys and Aliens. Womp. Womp.]  



 Some of the statues were creepy realistic and others were just  awful...and looked like wonky drag interpretations of what they were supposed to be, but that made it fun and hilarious. [Tangent: ...like that woman above is Salma Hayek, apparently! They should really change it to Sarah Paulson, but oh well. That is why I am not a wax figure designer.] Example: This Donald Trump is obviously Darryl Hammond as Donald Trump but was labeled (without a shred of irony) as Trump himself, which I kind of thought was the ultimate burn.
 They also had a prop wall next to nearly every statue, a luchador mask and cape in the Nacho Libre vignette [Tangent: see, I told you they were on the pulse of pop culture.] and a championship belt by the Hulk Hogan. That was potentially the best part because you really got into the posing...probably too much...much to the chagrin of the families who were behind us in the museum. My favorites was where you could wear a wedding dress and marry George Clooney. So ridiculous. And the bed with Hugh Hefner in it (complete with velvet robes). Unfortunately due to the posing of the statue and the lighting, it just looks like the dudes were hanging out trying to look sexy around a corpse at a wake.




I took about a zillion pictures, so many that my phone actually crapped out on me while I was inside, but now I think I have profile pictures for various things for the next 10 years. Within the exhibits,  I realized a lot of my childhood dreams, by getting to pose with many of my heroes






If you are in Gatlinburg and have gotten your fair share of rebel flag and/or bear emblazoned merch- I highly recommend the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge. It was much more fun than I could have imagined.

Has anyone else been to a wax museum? 
Does anyone else remember Class Act
SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sightseeing in DC

Today I was about to write about something travel related I did over New Years weekend and realized I never really wrote much about my trip to DC beyond the Newseum and being scared shitless/excited about exploring a city so reliant on public transit. For this reason I decided to squeeze out a post [Tangent:yes...I know 3 months later and it will be evident that the sky is sunny and bright and not all dreary and January-ish! I never said I was prompt or organized.]

Each day we were there, about a week, we logged walking roughly 9 miles. [Tangent: OK...clearly I wasn't doing any of that, so it was basically Jamie putting the miles on his Chucks. Or did you think I had some secret ambulatory life when I traveled? BUSTED!] DC is set up in such a way that it is very walker-friendly...in fact it was so nice to have 45 second crosswalks considering I am used to the 20 second crosswalks in Nashville. In those situations you are pretty much jettisoning yourself across the road and getting palpitations as you fear the little walking man will be replaced with the hand [Tangent: ...or you are slammed into someone in a lifted pickup who gives zero shits about you having the right of way.] I loved the ability that large groups could cross at their leisure and still have seconds left on the clock. Truly, it's the little things.

My old roomie, Andraea, showed us around the Capital, Supreme Court, Union Station and Chinatown and all those fun places and because it was Columbus Day, government buildings were closed. We really hoped that would mean we would run into Joe Biden in shortie running shorts, but it didn't happen. Damn. Some things are not meant to be.


In the following days, we made the rounds of all the outdoor monuments. Here are some of my favorite things I saw. They reminded me of some of my favorite things in life in general:
  • fighting for whats important
  • badasses in wheelchairs [Tangent: FDR..not Dr. Strangelove although it's hard to tell.] 
  • my dad [Tangent: Proudest Vietman vet you ever did see....and he took me to a replica of the Vietnam memorial in college, so I desperately wanted to see the real one.]
  • ...and MASH [Tangent: My favorite show as a toddler...yes really. (I had insomnia even then and my parents let me stay up and watch reruns with them nightly) To date, it's pretty much my only point of reference I have personally for the Korean War.]








Probably the memorial that I thought would be most ho-hum turned out to be the absolute best. [Tangent: Maybe because my art teachers always thought I was "too commercial" , but I've come to realize abstract sculptural doesnt always melt my butter. If you are in the Nashville area, you probably know that weird 'game of pick up sticks' looking sculpture in the roundabout on 8th. Well, I had no idea it was even a sculpture for months. I thought it was scaffolding of some kind or beams until someone pointed it out to me. Of course, I pretended like I knew it all along and appreciated the lines and artistry...but NEWSFLASH- I DIDN'T!]  I just went to the Washington Memorial because I was nearby and it seemed like something I had to see because I have seen it in many a viewing of Forrest Gump and Scandal.

When we got up close to it, though, I literally gasped and then immediately took a zillion pictures...even though it is essentially a giant pointy pole. I was in love. WHY IS IT SO GORGEOUS?  Here are some of those zillion pictures.



My favorite is the friendly homeless hippy who was making serious dough in a district that HATES Trump by allowing you to buy his vote. Of course I gave him a dollar. I can't turn down effective advertising...if only it had worked. Womp. Womp.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Bachelor is back, so welcome back shoulder shirts!

As I've written about before, you know I love some pretty POS reality shows. Somewhere in my personal pantheon (nestled probably between Rupaul's Drag race and 90 Day Fiancée) is the Bachelor [Tangent: ...and it's sister series (Bachelorette) and its drunker, more fun cousin (Bachelor in Paradise)]...and guess what?  It's back. You know what that means? Shoulders aplenty.

Confused? Let me explain.

Even though the producers of the series probably would like to think they are giving you a diverse pool of women [Tangent: Please stifle your laughing at the ridiculousness of my prior statement. This year there are actually MANY women of color which makes my heart happy. It's a step towards maybe even GASP! having a black Bachelor in seasons to come.], they all share a common look. Hair that looks casually tousled (meaning it probably took several hours with a wide barrel curling wand) and some form of blousy boho shirt which inexplicably has no shoulders. Shoulders are really the star of the show.

I'm no fashionista, but even I recognize that this is a very specific and confusing look that is rarely sighted in the wild, but that I see in every episode of the Bachelor franchise. [Tangent: In episode one of Nick's season I spotted 3.5 in the first 30 minutes. In fact one spunky Arkansas boutique owner had a whole store with racks and racks of them. Oh and the .5 that I am counting was a woman named Vanessa who wore a chunky cardigan sweater in her interview package, but it never touched her shoulders.]  I even have come to call them "Bachelor shirts" because they seem to look best when staring wistfully out a window or off a craggy cliff.
Sometimes it makes sense or even has an easy breezy quality, especially in "paradise" because I get they are OD'ing on "beach vibes", but other times it makes zero sense. Why would JoJo wear a turtleneck sweater with no shoulders? She looks stunning in white, so I get it- wear white all day/everyday...but I imagine they are making for some weird tan lines. Are they getting them for free. Is there some kind of exclusive promo code for Bachelor nation that is only redeemable on shirts missing shoulders.

 The first time I really took notice of this apparent trend, was when I saw single mom with the voice of a Disney heroine, Amanda, wear this look for a hometown visit. It stopped me in my tracks.  It immediately caused me to caucus with my fellow garbage TV watcher about it via group text for way longer than anyone should discuss an article of clothing.

It wasn't a "Let's rag on this outfit" kind of conversation; logistically we just couldn't wrap our minds around it.  

How was it staying up? 
Why sleeves? 
How were they attached? 
Were they attached? 
Can you wear a bra with this? 

 I was so distracted by the gravity defying top that I probably missed 90% of their date. It seemed cumbersome and way more work than a shirt should be...then I noticed she was wearing them in nearly every episode. I guess I must commend her for having a signature look.



One would think with this over abundance of off-the-shoulder blouses, it would be literally impossible to have one that stands out above the rest. Au contraire mon frere! There is one that goes in the hall of fame! I would give the shoulderless crown to Carly of Bachelor in Paradise [Tangent: Probably one of my all-time favorite contestants.] who wore this look, which combined 4 things which are so specific to the franchise but don't really go together in a conventional sense: The color red, lace, shoulders and a romper.



I'll end by apologizing because now I feel if you are a fan of the show and haven't already made this assessment that this is all you are going to see when you tune in. I'm sorry. Maybe turn it into a drinking game, a sip for a shoulder. Well, maybe not...you will get alcohol poisoning.
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