Friday, August 31, 2018

Ferguson: Movie: BlackkKlansman

OK, no, BlacKkKlansman isn't about Ferguson. But, of course, it is, too. So I'm putting it into my Ferguson group.

Many members of the Ferguson Readings on Race Book Club went to see the movie together or within several days of each other.

The movie trailer below:

As entertainment, the movie is a winner. It kept my attention throughout; the two-plus hours flew by. A mix of humor, action, sadness, romance, fear, anger, injustice, justice - all of the things that make up a life were there.

I also appreciated how the movie pressed some buttons on how we, as individuals, have so many intersections of being-ness, and how these sections can conflict. Two examples from the movie:
  1. Being a cop and a person of color
  2. Being a cultural member of a religion often discriminated against versus being a practicing member of that religion 
Two other angles that Mr. Lee finessed well:
  • The devaluation of women as co-actors by white supremacist groups; and
  • How particularly insidious racism is when the person who carries the disease is "nice," such as the wife of one of the KKK members

There was a big ol' Fuck You out loud to David Duke, arching back to the 1970s and into the present. This felt satisfying.

With all that I liked about the movie, there was a fluffiness to it that didn't set right. For example, the happy outcome regarding the bad cop was Disneyesque in its sugar-coated superficiality.

This doesn't take away from my strong recommendation to watch the movie.

Boots Riley (screenwriter and director of the movie Sorry to Bother You) wrote a critique of BlacKkKlansman via Twitter. Fortunately for our eyes, Monthly Review Online laid out the full text nicely for us here. I encourage you to read it; the essay is an appropriate companion for the movie, either before or after you watch it.

The trailer for Mr. Riley's movie:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

St. Louis: For the Senses: Seafood City

Seafood City, University City, Missouri. 2018.

Am I so far off from a dog? I'm beginning to think not.

Seafood City, University City, Missouri. 2018.

A dog of my childhood joyfully rolled in putrefying fish on a stony beach, the rot taking color in yellow and orange, to sing with the squishy stench.

Crawfish, Seafood City, University City, Missouri. 2018.

One of the joys of entering Rouse's Market in Lafayette was the smell of fish, both raw and cooked.

There was that not-quite-right blend of boiled, spiced crawfish with sticky sweet buns and a bottom note of crawfish etoufee at the Crawfish Etoufee Cookoff in Eunice. Here's what I wrote about that then:
It's extraordinary to smell the fragrances of  muddy bayou, spicy crawfish boil, and cinnamon buns all at once. I couldn't decide if I loved it or felt repelled by it. Attempts to come to a conclusion required many careful inhalations, to no avail.

So when I entered Seafood City on Olive Street in University City this summer, the intake of breath brought a sensory rush from the mixture of fresh and fishy, raw and cooked, the living and the dead, beauty and gore.

Seafood City, University City, Missouri. 2018.

There is pleasure in this as there is in approaching a terrifically pungent, soft cheese. The aroma is preposterous, but the flavor and texture are so fully sensual, and the combination of all is splendid. Which reminds me of this one anchovy I consumed recently. This small, floppy grayish-silvery thing, homely; but its oily, fishy, salty dimensions of flavor required deliberation of thought and closed eyes to extend the life of their chorus.

On my first visit to Seafood City, I saw my very first jackfruit. Until then, I'd only read about them. They are huge!

Jackfruit, Seafood City, University City, Missouri. 2018.

The idea of a Buddhist style chicken puzzled me as I guess I thought Buddhists were vegetarian.

Buddhist chicken, Seafood City, University City, Missouri. 2018.

I wonder how "fresh" is defined. Minutes? Hours? Days?

Fresh pork blood, Seafood City, University City, Missouri. 2018.

A slide show of my visits to Seafood City below:

Seafood City, St. Louis, MO

This isn't the first time I've been a "scentsual" tourist. There was a satisfying trip through the Celestial Seasonings plant outside Boulder, Colorado in 2016.

I will likely need another hit of Seafood City before I leave Missouri this year.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Ferguson: "Michael Brown Died Today."

Michael Brown
Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: Found at St. Louis Post Dispatch, attributed to a friend of Michael Brown's.

A few days before August 9, 2018, I created a reminder on my calendar for that date, which synced to my cell phone.

The reminder said: "Michael Brown died today."

On August 9, each time I accessed my phone, there it was:

Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.

When I think of Michael Brown, I think of:

.... an image burned into my brain, put there by a racist, hate-mongering individual in South Louisiana who is a minor celebrity. On his social media page, which he proudly affiliates with his employer, was a disgusting image of a "memorial" to Michael Brown, comprised of human excrement.

... the draconian military response to Ferguson protests by then-Governor Jay Nixon.

... people who are dear to me, who must always be ready for that surprise slap in the face, at any given moment, in any given place, by any unexpected person, that reminds them they can't move through their days with the same thoughtless presumption of emotional and physical safety as others can.