Entries Tagged as 'History'

Wake up and fight.

January 1, 2017

woody guthrie new years rulins

Singer Woody Guthrie wrote this list of “New Year’s Rulins” in his diary on Jan. 1, 1943. More than 70 years later, they’re still pretty relevant.

1. Work more and better

2. Work by a schedule

3. Wash teeth if any

4. Shave

5. Take bath

6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk

7. Drink very scant if any

8. Write a song a day

9. Wear clean clothes — look good

10. Shine shoes

11. Change socks

12. Change bed clothes often

13. Read lots good books

14. Listen to radio a lot

15. Learn people better

16. Keep rancho clean

17. Don’t get lonesome

18. Stay glad

19. Keep hoping machine running

20. Dream good

21. Bank all extra money

22. Save dough

23. Have company but don’t waste time

24. Send Mary and kids money

25. Play and sing good

26. Dance better

27. Help win war — beat fascism

28. Love mama

29. Love papa

30. Love Pete

31. Love everybody

32. Make up your mind

33. Wake up and fight

Your post-election reading list

November 13, 2016

Art by Penelope Dullaghan for A Cup of Jo

This week was my first experience with mass, shared grief. And, as tragedies are wont to do, it all just happened so fast.

On Monday night, I wrote in my journal: Today felt like the last day of “Before.” God help us tomorrow. But Tuesday morning was bright and brisk, a perfect fall day. It felt like a happy, fancy, special occasion. By 8:15 a.m., I had voted and also cried three times. I took a bunch of “I voted” selfies that I never got around to posting. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I just tried to stay focused at work — put my head down, stay off Facebook, try not to worry, etc. That night, I watched the results come in at the BuzzFeed office. They produced the live show on the 13th floor, but I was on 12 with a group of about 20 people.

Just before 9 p.m., we heard a coworker become upset. It took a second for it to become clear what had happened, but then we learned that she had just seen Hillary’s “Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything” tweet, and she felt like that meant she was giving up. Even though it was still early, a sense of dread rolled through the room like a wave and it never really left. A couple minutes later, Dallas texted me that she was worried. She hadn’t seen that tweet, but she was worried. And then, within a few minutes, I got texts from four other people. Every single one either said “I’m scared” or “I feel sick.” We weren’t all watching the same channel. No new states had been called. But within a five minute period, this shift happened and that was it.

Wednesday was awful for me, as I’m sure it was for most of you. One of the first things I saw when I woke up, after I saw that Trump had officially won, was the breakdown of the exit polls. And I just felt so betrayed. Getting out the door took so much effort. It was a cloudy day, but it also just seemed…dark. Like I wasn’t seeing the world in actual color. When I walked into the office, I saw my coworker Augusta first, and she hugged me for like five minutes and we just sobbed. We all cried pretty much all day. BuzzFeed had puppies brought in for us to play with, which was the nicest and BuzzFeediest thing they could have done.

And now it’s Sunday and the world is so different and I mostly feel numb and I don’t know what to say except I’m sorry and I hope you are all doing OK and starting to take steps to protect yourselves and those you love, and here are a lot of things for you to read.

Everyone should read…

Shattered, New York Magazine.

A Time for Refusal, The New York Times. “Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else.”

An American Tragedy, The New Yorker.

This thread on taking care of yourself.

If you want to cry…

Mourning Trump and the America We Could Have Been, The New Yorker. “As psychologists note, after a death we mourn not only the deceased but also the version of ourselves we got to be with that person. What makes Clinton’s defeat unique, I think, is that we’re grieving for the nation we could have been, a nation some of us feel we are: a nation that elected a female President and rejected the rhetoric of nativism and fear that Donald Trump so casually embraced.”

Hillary Clinton’s Grace Is Yours, Jezebel.

Her Loss, The New York Times. “We, as a culture, do not take women seriously on a profound level. We do not believe women. We do not trust women. We do not like women. I understand that many men cannot see it, and plenty more do not care. I know that many men will read this and laugh, or become defensive, or call me hysterical, or worse, and that’s fine. I am used to it. It doesn’t make me wrong.”

The Day After The Election, I Told My Daughter The Truth, BuzzFeed.

The Pride and Privilege of Symbolic Voting, Jezebel.

My Plan For Making Peace With President-Elect Trump, GQ.

‘What Do I Say?’: Stories From the Classroom After Election Day, Jezebel.

And SNL‘s cold open.

If you want to laugh (and then probably cry)…

Every Way Jezebel Described Donald Trump During the Presidential Election, Jezebel.

19 Totally Real Conversations Obama And Biden Have Had Since The Election, BuzzFeed. “Joe.”

This fantastic Tumblr post, followed immediately by Donald Trump Doesn’t Like This Any More Than You Do on Deadspin.

15 People Who Just Need To Get Over Losing Already, BuzzFeed.

This guy calling out his sexist father on Facebook. Seth Meyers on Wednesday morning. This hed. This tweet and this one. And this absolutely perfect mashup.

If you want smart people saying smart things…

I’m a Coastal Elite From the Midwest: The Real Bubble is Rural America, Roll Call. “We, as a culture, have to stop infantilizing and deifying rural and white working-class Americans. Their experience is not more of a real American experience than anyone else’s, but when we say that it is, we give people a pass from seeing and understanding more of their country.”

How Trump Made Hate Intersectional, NY Mag.

White Won, Slate.

Heather Havrilesky on the way Midwesterners talk (or don’t talk) about race and culture. This thread is spot on.

Blaming political correctness for Trump is like blaming the civil rights movement for Jim Crow, The Guardian. “This week, I had to listen to supposedly reasonable, leftist men – not trolls this time – insist that Trump’s victory was at least partially a result of ‘divisiveness’ and ‘incivility’ and ‘political correctness gone too far’. This is the consequence of ‘confrontational movements’, one man told me on Twitter. There’s always a backlash. ‘Learn from this,’ he admonished. As though any social-justice movement in history got anywhere by asking politely and taking a seat. As though there was some magical moment in the semi-recent past when we’d reached a perfect stasis – no racism, no sexism and white dudes could still have a chill time – but those greedy feminists just had to keep pushing.” Thank you, Lindy West.

Facebook, I’m Begging You, Please Make Yourself Better, The Intercept.

There is no “person at the top” to fix everything.

Please Stop Saying Poor People Did This, Jezebel.

Siyanda Mohutsiwa’s thread on how white men are radicalized online.

6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win, The New York Times. (I bought The Unwinding and am starting it tonight — click the link in the NYT article to read a full review of it.)

How Trump Conned America, Slate.

Is This the Second Redemption?, The Atlantic.

I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again, Very Smart Brothas.

America Elects a Bigot, The New York Times.

Emily Ellsworth on having your voice heard.

You have to watch Van Jones’ powerful message about the 2016 ‘whitelash’, Fusion. “We don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.”

President Trump’s First Term, The New Yorker. I read this a couple months ago…time for a re-read.

I’m Tired of Good White People, GQ.

The smug style in American liberalism, Vox. This is long and there is a LOT I disagree with (including the entire GWB section), but it has some good points and food for thought.

An Open Letter To Supposedly Pro-Choice, Pro-Same Sex Marriage, Non-Racist Trump Supporters, Wonkette.

27 Productive Things You Can Do If You’re Upset About The Election, BuzzFeed.

This thread on racism, this thread on “healing the divide,” this thread on the bullshit of the “real America” narrative, this reminder that “common ground” is a trap, this accurate summation of the Trump/Obama meeting, a reminder that it’s about men too, and #5 in this old post from Michael Moore, which perfectly sums up the politics so many straight white men I know.

Harry Reid’s statement. “We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.”

Why We Ignore the Obvious: The Psychology of Willful Blindness, Brain Pickings.

If you’re white…

What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era, The New York Times. “Conveniently, for most white Americans, being white has meant not having a racial identity. It means being and living and experiencing the world as an individual and not having to think about your race. It has meant being free of race. Some people are proud white nationalists, but probably not many of the millions who voted for Donald Trump. Thinking in terms of community would seem to be the job of black people. The Trump campaign has disrupted that easy freedom.”

Once Again, Black Women Did The Work White Women Refused To, Very Smart Brothas.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What it means to be black during a Trump administration, The Washington Post. “Let the other groups denigrated and threatened by Trump speak for themselves. The women, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, the LGBT community and others who now must walk through the streets of their country for the next four years in shame and fear, knowing that their value as human beings has been diminished by their neighbors. I only speak for myself as an African American and I speak with the rage of betrayal.”

Stop Telling Me to Fight, Sojourners. “All of you who are going home for Thanksgiving need to make this year’s dinner a NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People) meeting and decide that the ‘advancement’ portion of your organization’s name is finally going to mean that you are taking it upon yourselves to advance your beliefs and morals and, above all, your maturity. Because what we have in front of us — a Trump presidency — is ridiculous. It is so flat-out ridiculous and yet so real, and here’s an even bigger yet for you: You should have seen it coming.”

Hey White People: You Need To Start Doing The Ugly Work That Isn’t Safe For Us To, Feministing.

The Cinemax Theory of Racism, Whatever, Scalzi.

This reminder (from me) that if you’re white, and you’re silent, we really don’t actually know where you stand.

If you want a tiny bit of politics-free joy…

This tweet, this one, and this little baby fox.

If you’re pretty sure that this is how it all ends (and/or you want others to understand why you think that)…

Autocracy: Rules for Survival, The New York Review of Books. This takes a little while to get going, but keep reading.

Climate change may be escalating so fast it could be ‘game over’, scientists warn, Independent.

What to Expect Under a Trump Administration – Part One and Part Two, Leah McElrath.

Racist Messages Sent To Black UPenn Students Linked To Oklahoma Student, BuzzFeed.

A Running List Of Reported Racist Incidents After Donald Trump’s Victory, BuzzFeed.

One woman’s experience with the alt-right.

The forces that drove this election’s media failure are likely to get worse, Nieman Lab.

With Trump, Coal Wins, Planet Loses, The New Yorker.

Is this the end of the West as we know it?, The Washington Post.

The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assault On LGBTQ Equality Is Already Underway, The Huffington Post.

I’m a disabled American. Trump’s policies will be a disaster for people like me., Vox.

Trump’s conflicts of interest are without precedent in American presidential history, The Washington Post.

Trump’s Revenge, BuzzFeed.

Some extremely chill Breitbart heds, a GOP strategist reminding us to “stay vigilant,” actor Kumail Nanjiani being harassed in a bar, this fact, this reminder and this one what it’s like to be Jewish online right now, and a crash course in white nationalist symbols.

Oh, and this excerpt from The Handmaid’s Tale.

BuzzFeed: 25 Insanely Sexist Vintage Valentines

February 2, 2015

Let’s objectify, hunt, stalk, pressure, and threaten violence, all in the name of romance!

valentine

via

See them all on BuzzFeed.

Good mourning: The Met’s ‘Death Becomes Her’ exhibit

January 20, 2015

Among Dallas’s and my many fun activities last weekend, one of the things we did was go to The Met for the exhibit Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire. This exhibit was actually a big part of why Dallas scheduled her trip when she did. I find funeral history pretty fascinating, and the exhibit’s focus on women made it particularly appealing to both of us.

While the collection was beautiful, the exhibit’s execution left a lot to be desired. The space was really tight, so people were constantly backing into each other and Dallas and I both felt really rushed so we could get out of the way. The low lighting caused shadows to cover the text that explained each gown, making it nearly impossible to read. (What we did learn, we gleaned from speed-reading and from the photos we were able to snap of some of the explanations.) The lighting also caused people to cast shadows over the quotes about mourning attire that were being projected onto the walls throughout the exhibit, thus making them pretty much useless. It was really, really frustrating, and by the end we just wanted to get the hell out. I wish they had made people make reservations for the exhibit, which would have limited the amount of people in there, cut down on the shadow problem, and helped us feel less rushed.

That said, the dresses were great. There were day dresses, evening dresses, and a wedding dress, and every single one was in amazing condition; they definitely didn’t look like they were more than a century old. (If someone had told me they were just made as costumes for a historical drama, I would have believed them.) I would have loved to learn more about how the gowns were likely preserved. (Most were from the mid 19th century and were donated to museums in the 1950s, which left us wanting to know the stories of who was saving them, how, and why.) 

We also couldn’t get over how petite the mannequins were (and we heard other people talking about this as well). You always hear that people were smaller back in the day, but this was the first time I really understood how that would look. It wasn’t just that they were thinner or just that they were shorter; it was like everything had been reduced to 75 percent of the size we’re used to.

The mannequins’ silvery-white wigs were also really beautiful and added a haunting and elegant vibe to the whole exhibit.

And what we were able to read about the gowns was really interesting. One of the things I found most interesting was how mourning attire was an outer representation of grief that lasted for much longer than we really allow people to grieve today. I mean, can you imagine a woman who had lost a loved one wearing black every day (accessorized with a few pieces of hair jewelry) for more than a year in modern times? Like, HR would probably get involved at some point.

(All photos via The Met)

BuzzFeed: 20 Truly Horrifying Vintage Holiday Recipes

December 19, 2014

“Oh, bring us a figgy pudding”… with Jell-O, tuna, and mayo.

See the full house of horrors here.

On feminism & Christmas

December 9, 2014

I unapologetically love Christmas. I love the baking, the music, the gifts and the wrapping, the lights and decor, the cold weather, and the magic of it. A few days after Christmas in 2013, I started reading the book MERRY CHRISTMAS! Celebrating America’s Favorite Holiday by Karal Ann Marling, and (after a looooong break from it) I finished it a couple of weeks ago.

The book is about the history of the material aspects of Christmas: when and why we started wrapping gifts and sending Christmas cards, why Santa looks like he does, why people love miniature Christmas villages, etc. That alone makes it interesting to me…but Marling also lays out a really great case for why exploring this topic is downright feminist. Here’s an excerpt that sums it up nicely (emphasis added)…

“[This book is] about images and the feelings they arouse—the shining ribbons of hope and memory that connect people to themselves, their families, and their sense of nationhood through the ornament chest in the attic, a collection of Christmas village houses, or a green-frosted cookie shaped like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. And it’s about grandmothers and mothers. Several years ago, when I had just finished a book on the visual culture of the 1950s—a book that looked at the clothes, hairstyles, body language, and the preferred colors for household appliances—one reviewer allowed as how he didn’t think much of the project, but that his mom would probably like it. Well, this is another one for the moms! Although I have looked at a great deal of textual evidence, the material culture of Christmas (or what moms generally do while the rest of us watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’) is the heart and soul of this book and of the holiday it examines.

As a writer who prides herself on having no particular ideological axes to grind, I was startled to discover how few students of the phenomenon have openly acknowledged the creative role of women in inventing, sustaining, and ultimately changing Christmas. Studying Christmas would turn anyone into a card-carrying feminist! Popular culture—the movies, TV—is heavily invested in denying that women and Christmas have any special relationship at all. Jimmy Stewart and the Grinch are the Christmas heroes; Mrs. Santa is relegated to the photo booth in the department store Toyland. When the manipulation of ‘stuff’ takes precedence over the use of words and documents, when traditional women’s skills at shopping or cooking or home decorating take center stage, then the whole subject falls off the radar screen of ‘important’ scholarship. Christmas is OK in its way—the stuff of memoirs, but not of serious research. At best, it is politically incorrect, a pleasant diversion for the few remaining stay-at-home moms. At worst, it is mere trivia.

But Christmas is not just a moms’ festival. It is a domestic one. Christmas reminds everybody of home truths, of the particular sense of comfort and joy that Christmas cards represent with their pictures of ornaments and presents and snug little houses nestled in the snow, a curl of smoke arising from the chimney. It is the one occasion in the fitful progress of the year that calls upon us to consider domesticity and continuity seriously, to ponder the good in the goods arrayed beneath the Christmas tree. If home is less important than the workplace, then Christmas isn’t very interesting. If the items in the glossy holiday catalogs are viewed as so many examples of consumerism run amok, then Christmas is a pig’s feast of capitalist greed. To look seriously at Christmas is to embrace the possibility that quotidian realities, like pleasure and purchase, might be defensible aspects of the human condition.

Sociologists are just about unanimous in concluding that women do most of the grunt work involved in standard Christmas practices: they buy and wrap the presents, trim the tree, plan the gatherings, cook the food. Theodore Caplow, in his groundbreaking studies of Christmas gift exchange and other holiday observances in ‘Middletown,’ U.S.A., documents women’s hegemony as makers and shapers of celebratory rituals. In industrial societies, it is women who define and maintain the sorts of relationships within the family and between the family and the culture that Christmas effectively diagrams with presents and strings of lights. Who are our friends? Our social superiors? What are our obligations to the community? Yet, because Christmas is a family holiday the actual work of mothers and aunts and grandmothers is rarely differentiated from the lesser roles of others. Nor are acts performed for love and not for money commonly recognized as ‘work.’

…Mothers shop for toys and wrap the gifts—and Santa gets all the credit. The Grinch didn’t steal Christmas. Men did, beginning with Clement Moore’s Santa Claus! If the sociologists are right, the patriarchy always seizes positions of power and economic importance for itself. If men make the money and the suet for the pudding, then they, by rights, should be Santa Clauses…despite changes in American families, and in living-room observances of the holiday, the public face of Christmas still wears a big white beard.

Women were the primary custodians of tradition, firmly in charge of the American heritage in its tangible, material manifestations. Sarah Hale made the case for observing Thanksgiving and showed America how to trim a tree. Women saved the homes of the Founding Fathers for national shrines, beginning with Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, and so created the historic preservation movement. The mainstays of local historical societies, women saved grandma’s wedding dress alongside deeds and wills and documents…they packed away the family pictures, the report cards, the letters—and the Christmas ornaments. They remembered where they mistletoe was always hung, the family recipe for Christmas pudding, the words to all the carols, and what the little ones wanted Santa to bring them. The question is not whether Christmas has been women’s work, but why the modern media have taken such pains to deny the fact. Is it because we imagine women to have kept to their kitchens in the ‘good old days’? Or that we find no value in the work that transpires within the home? Or is it because Christmas is simply too important to have been wrestled from masculine hands?”

I LOVE this. While a lot of advertising seems to pander to moms at Christmas (we see lots of beleaguered moms doing All The Things at the holidays and lots of articles directed toward women about avoiding stress at the holidays) it doesn’t seem to do it in a way that really gives credit, or designates this work as important or significant. It’s more just…an expectation. But “women’s history” is history, and the way people celebrate is a worthwhile way to learn more about a culture.

(Christmas card images from ebay via BuzzFeed)

The National Museum of Funeral History

November 1, 2014

There aren’t very many things on my Houston bucket list, but I really, really wanted to go to the National Museum of Funeral History before we move. I know it sounds a little out there, but I find American funeral culture pretty fascinating. And after going to the museum today, I’m so glad we did, because it was completely legit.

National Museum of Funeral History

I mean, macabre, sure, but legit.

National Museum of Funeral History

The museum has a huge display of hearses, with some dating back as far as the 1860s. There were horse-drawn hearses, super-fancy hearses, sleigh hearses for the winter months, a lovely mint green and gold hearse (I was like Book that one for me, plz!), and celebrity hearses (the hearse that carried the body of Grace Kelly, and the hearse used for the last two presidential funerals). There was also a hearse party bus.

Hearse party bus | National Museum of Funeral History

Apparently, someone back in 1916 was like, “Hey, guys! Why not just have the casket and all the mourners all travel together in one huge vehicle?” (I’m kind of imagining him as the startup dudebrotrepreneur of the early 20th century. “Book a Hrse.co for up to 20 of your friends! Hrse is totally gonna disrupt the funeral industry!”) Anyway, the hearse bus was a perfectly fine idea until the bus tried to go up a hill and was too heavy in the back and…tipped, flinging all the mourners around, and causing the casket to overturn. No one was really injured, but it was retired from use.

It’s a shame that the hearses were so hard to photograph (it was hard to really capture their size, elegance, and ornate details, plus there was just a ton of glare throughout the museum) because they were all in fantastic condition and were just really cool, especially the older ones.

There was also history of embalming, complete with kinda spooky artifacts…like embalming makeup, chemicals, and equipment, handwritten instructions for embalming, and antique embalming tables.

Embalming instructions | National Museum of Funeral History

National Museum of Funeral History

National Museum of Funeral History

There was also a good amount of 19th century mourning ephemera, including hair wreaths and hair jewelry (gahhhhhh I KNOW), along with mourning attire and accessories.

National Museum of Funeral History

There were several caskets on display, including a huge casket built for three that was never actually used. Which is good, because I have no idea how one would lift or transport such a thing. (The story behind it was pretty interesting though. A man and a woman had it built after their child died; they planned to kill themselves and be buried in it with their child. But they changed their minds and it was never used. Years later, after her husband died, the woman tried to get her money back and the maker said no.)

There was also a section of the museum dedicated to the life and death of popes. To be honest, the first half of this was reallllllly boring, but the second part, which was all about the papal funeral and burial rites, was fascinating. (There was also an actual popemobile, which was neat!) This was followed by a section that focused on presidential funerals and included (among other things) a bunch of the final bills for them. The museum also had a bit of one Abraham Lincoln’s actual hairs…but sadly, not enough to make a hair wreath out of.

Other things of interest at NMFH…

– A large collection of memorial cards from celebrity funerals.

– A smaller exhibit on Día de Muertos.

– A collection of “fantasy caskets” from Ghana.

– Funeral home and casket advertisements and other funeral home artifacts. I was really into the small models of caskets that a funeral home might use to sell a particular model.

National Museum of Funeral History

National Museum of Funeral History

Despite the topic at hand, the museum wasn’t terribly sad or particularly gross. The only thing that kind of caught me off-guard was when I turned around and saw two children’s caskets in the back of one of the first hearses; that was…unsettling. But aside from that, the entire experience felt very…detached. It was more about the funeral business and the history of funerals, which felt appropriate. It was definitely one of the coolest museums I’ve been to!

For extra credit…

If you haven’t read it yet, Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is the best book on funeral/death culture. So fascinating and funny!

I’ve been wanting to read Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory ASAP, but I think it might be a good audiobook to listen to with Eric. I’m torn!

I will definitely be checking out this exhibit once we move to NYC!

BuzzFeed: 8 Historical Witches You Need To Know This Halloween

October 31, 2014

(Photo: Joseph Baker, c1892 via Library of Congress)

Because there’s more to witchcraft than ‘Hocus Pocus.’ Read more on BuzzFeed!

BuzzFeed: 19 Completely Terrifying Vintage Sex Toys

October 23, 2014

Good luck getting through this list without crossing your legs and clenching!

(Photo courtesy of the Antique Vibrator Museum)

Lover.ly: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Barack & Michelle Obama’s Love Story

October 3, 2014

Happy anniversary to the President and First Lady! Read the full story on Lover.ly.

(Photo via the White House)

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