A quick word about Gore

No, not as in Al, but as in "Tex, " as in Gore-Tex. Here's the deal--complete with asides and everything....

Last night i went to play a gig for a cement convention. Yes, a cement convention. When i was younger--as in...oh....18-26, 27--i used to fret about the idea of becoming one of those old musicians, dressed in spandex, with big ole poofy hair, playing 80's rock and roll in a hotel bar. I did not want to be that guy.

Well, i was spared. I didn't become that guy. Instead, i lost all my hair, i wear overalls or khakis and a blue oxford cloth shirt and i play bluegrass and 70's rock and roll in hotel bars (or, at cement conventions). And i don't care. I mean, i used to figure it was a little bit of a loser gig to do stuff like what i do now, but that's one of the advantages of getting older, isn't it? I don't have to give a shit what young people, including the younger version of me, thought was uncool.

Additionally, I'm not sure it's even uncool to get paid a thousand dollars for 4 nights "work." Play a few songs, shoot the breeze with the people milling around, play a few more songs, eat some good cheese off a cheese platter, etc. (Now, on the other hand, what is uncool is that guy with the shiny hair, next door at this same cement convention, doin' a single and using prerecorded tracks and a microphone headset. (No, just kidding, Dave. You're really pretty good).

Anyway, i don't do a whole lot of stuff like this cement convention. I chanced into it because of a friend. Oh....and here's another thing: who can i lobby to get the spelling of the word "friend" changed? I don't agree with how we spell it now. It looks like "fiend," only spelled with an "r" and i just don't think that's right. Although "freind" isn't as aesthetically pleasing with the round part up front like that, I think it works better than "Friend."


So the cement convention is a fluke gig, but i'd do more of them. The money's really good, and so's the cheese. Have you guys ever been to a convention like this? Like where you are a...well, where you're a person that uses a lot of cement, and then a bunch of people that provide you with things that help you use cement have a convention and then woo you with cheese and strong beverages? It's a strange world, this kind of convention. I was scheduled to play from 7:30 'til 10:30, and i didn't even have to start until like 9:30 because no one else was there. Most of the crowd, it turns out, had been stolen by one of the other vendors trying to sell their cement stuff to the cement people. The crowd that was supposed to be there had been loaded onto buses and all of them taken out to dinner here in Charleston.

It's evidently a dog-eat-dog world at cement conventions like this, what with each vendor trying to out-do all the other vendors with better drinks and more cheese. I'd say that the crowd-stealer guys won, but someone explained to me that that's cheating--you're not supposed to take anyone "off-site."

Alright. I'm getting to the point of the post. Which is funny because i started all this with the title "a quick word," but, hell, i knew i was gonna ramble. Anyway, so you understand that this is a cement convention now (at a "convention center"), with different vendors trying to woo cement industry executives into their particular suite through the use of alcohol and other things. In the case of my employer at this thing, which happened to be Gore (of Gore-Tex fame) , they used live musicians, drinks and poker tables. And now for the quick word about Gore:

While we were setting stuff up, the Gore rep was explaining what it was we were playing for (much like i have just now done for you) and one of my band mates said, jokingly, "well, man, why don't you just have some hot chicks in here?"

Well, you know what that Gore rep said? Without being condescending, or mean, or holier-than-thou, or even fake sounding and all the while acknowledging what my friend said as a joke, that guy said this:

Gore isn't that type of company. That isn't part of our ethic. We don't want to be the kind of company that treats women like objects. Besides, as a feminist, i just don't think that would be the right thing to do. We don't need the business that badly.

Wow! You go Gore!


Trey and Megan in Charleston

Trey and Megan are in Charleston this weekend, and we spent some time at a coffee shop, as we usually do. Here's an artsy picture Trey took.

Later we went to Folly Beach. It was a hot day, but the water was cold, cold.


The wisdom of repugnance

“This decision represents a small but definite move back toward what might be called the wisdom of repugnance, the instinctive recognition that there are still some things we cannot bring ourselves to do.”

--Paul Greenberg, “High court takes small step toward life” (4-25-07)

Repugnance is a very poor marker for what we ought to do culturally. You know what a lot of men in my classes find unbelievably repugnant? So repugnant that they can almost not bear to hear it spoken of? Menstrual blood. Mention menstruation, and most of the men in the room get a little sickish looking and don’t know where to put their eyes. This repugnance is so broadly prevalent that one of my students has a friend who uses it as a tool: when she’s at a bar and a guy comes on to her, she turns to him, smiling, and says, “Would you like a cup of my menstrual blood?” And then he leaves her alone.

Does this mean we should make menstruation illegal?

I wrote a short post about this some time ago--about how part of my interest as an academic is in examining common sense, something I find often to be a good marker for a particular cultural moment’s biases and stereotypes. Common sense is rarely to be trusted as a marker for “wisdom,” but it can certainly tell you about a given culture’s assumptions.

More soon about this, I promise, and about the Supreme Court decision. One of my students recently asked me to explain it to her, and I have been putting it off, partly because I don't want to think about the implications right now, and partly because it's finals time. But I do have things to say.


South Carolina

If, when you saw that title, you thought to yourself whup! here we go! i'm in for another Palmetto State bash-fest!...well...uhhh...that's why i'm posting this. See, i'd like to say something sweet about South Carolina, instead, so here it is:

My folks were in town over this past weekend. For one of our activities we went out to Guy and Tina's Pickin' Parlor, which has been blogged a bit about here before. (How's that for some alliteration?)

Now although my parents don't really consider playing a musical instrument an honest way to make a living--and i think this would hold true even if i were on the cover of Country Weekly (a magazine who's motto happens to be It's country, and it's weekly)-- you just wouldn't believe how proud it makes them to see me play. Since one of my gigs we were planning on going to got cancelled, we went out to Guy and Tina's instead.

Guy and Tina are a somewhat older couple that live way, way out in the woods. In a town called Bethera, to be exact, and a name that did not come up on my dad's ever-present Garmin GPS when we were drving out there. For 25 years, Guy and Tina have hosted a Saturday night bluegrass jam at their home, and legend has it they haven't missed a single Saturday in all that time.

When they first stared it just took place in the front yard. For the more extreme weather the jam was moved into a shack there on the property. As time went on, the shack became the permanent home for the jam and got more formalized: the shack grew larger, a PA system was installed, people started bringing covered dishes, old couches left on the side of the road were salvaged and used as seating for an audience, a stage was built, decorations and autographed pictures of bluegrass "stars" were hung on the walls.

Now i just showed up at this thing last year, but i feel as though i have been welcomed by family. They like me, and they tell me so: Oh, it's just great to see you out here. We sure hope you can make it out more often. We sure do love it when you sing Ole Slewfoot, etc.

Now, i'm sure they really do like me at Guy and Tina's. I may have a hard time accepting praise from anyone and just figure, most of the time, anyone that says something good about me is just lying in order to make me feel better, but i actually believe these guys. First off, they're so sincere about it. And next, i'm not a bad picker, and also, i figure they're happy to have some new blood around there. But, i mean, good picker/new blood aside, i ain't all that. I mean, these guys are just really nice.

When we got there i introduced my parents to everyone. Well, then they go and say--and from the stage no less--"we have special guests tonight from NASHvull" and make my parents stand up and stuff. And here's where it starts to get really sweet:

Bluegrass, as you may know, is a very traditional music. You just don't go messing around with it lightly. For instance, i imagine that there are some bluegrass fans out there who, to this day, still haven't forgiven Flatt and Scruggs for merely adding a Dobro player to their line-up way back in 1955. So, it goes without saying that you don't go adding extra breaks in a song when they weren't there in the original. (a "break" is the name for an instrumental solo in bluegrass lingo, and the part where the individual picker gets a chance to show off). No, when it comes to bluegrass, you don't go adding Dobro players and you certainly to go addin' stuff that isn't there...but that's what happened this past Saturday night.

As i stood there and played along with thin-as-a-rail old, old men who, with arthritic fingers and dusty vocal chords, can out-play and out-sing me any day of the week, i noticed the mandolin player lean over and whisper something to the band leader, Donald. After the chorus, when the song was supposed to end, Donald looked over at me and he gave me that significant bluegrass nod which means take another break. Well, i did, and then Donald came back in, sang a chorus, and we ended the song. Same thing happened the next tune. And the next.

They were letting me show off for my parents.

Mama and Daddy just clapped, and took pictures and enjoyed themselves all night long. It simply made their year. It sure was nice of the folks at Guy and Tina's to do that.


Indian Buffet

Long ago in Nashville--back when Alison and i used to live on Gale Lane, at the time a mostly working-class, black side of town--i would stop at a tiny, struggling local market which had recently opened and, if i had the money, pick up a pack of ready roll cigarettes. Camels. For the times when i didn't have money--which was most of the time--i would buy a can of Bugler down at the Kroger.

After a few weeks of occasionally stopping in like this and always getting a pack of Camel cigarettes, the guy behind the counter--who was of Mid-East origin and had almost no skill with English--would smile and ask helpfully "Cah-MEL?" And i would say "Yes." This small transaction made us friends of sorts.

During one particular monetary dry stretch, i probably didn't go in there for an entire month. I eventually made it back, though, and when i did found that he'd added to his language skills. He said, in almost perfect neighborhood vernacular, "Whas goin' Awn?" and then, same as it ever was, "Cah-mel?"

Ever since then, i've always enjoyed collecting little memories of how local and ethnic (and local, ethnic) accents get all tangled up.

Here's the most recent one:

Nigh on every Sunday afternoon Alison and i go and eat the buffet at a nearby Indian Restaurant. Yesterday we sat and hung out for a while after we'd finished our rice pudding (alas! no jamun yesterday!), and our server came over to clear the plates out of the way. Although i usually have a hangup about leaving any food on a plate--particularly at a restaurant in which the people serving me may know someone in another country going to bed hungry at night--i was not, this time, a member of the clean plate club.

The guy came to pick up the plate and he said (phonetically written):

Ahyout still wrearking ontis?

It took me a second--i think i may have even said "huh?"--and then I recognized he'd asked me:
Are you still working on this?

Now, i figure the phrase "working on this," as it pertains to eating a plate of food, is entirely a local thing to say--or at least southern. What d'ya think?



I want to introduce a term to you: Nashvilled. It is a multi-faceted one, full of nuance and fitting for many occasions, but to be sure, most all of these occasions will reek of cheapness and insincerity. Although the following examples all find their source actually in Nashville, i hope you'll see how this term is entirely ready for widespread use in current culture.

Let me start with a few benign uses of the word. I'll finish with the full-fledged, balls-to-the-wall, Nashvilling a friend of mine told me about this morning.

In Nashville, people in the music industry will hardly ever say anything even vaguely negative to each other. Although this penchant to never criticize most likely finds it's origins in genuine Southern politeness, it has devolved into a mode of self-preservation. For example, the guitar player may know Dixie Mae can't carry a tune in a bucket and that the only reason she got this gig is because the club owner wants in her britches, but is he gonna tell her? Hell no. Why would he want to lose himself a gig?

Sometimes the Nashvilling happens under duress and is only meant to let someone down slowly. Once, a mastering engineer was finishing up a terrible project for a rock and roll band while the lead singer stood behind him, vibrating with excitement, and pestered him for an opinion. Well, what'd'ya think? Huh? Huh? he kept asking like a demented ferret. The engineer finally judiciously responded "well, I think this project is gonna transfer to disc really well."

Sometimes being Nashvilled is done in an entirely unnecessary way. Unlike the two fairly universal situations above, in which one person is merely guilty of holding his silence and the other is forced into saying something, sometimes someone will go out of their way to offer a compliment that, upon closer examination, means "You Suck." The finest example i know of is when one guitar player says to another "Man, you've got great tone!" When someone says this to you, it's time to move back to Tulsa.

Another example, and maybe the original use of the word, is found in the following conversation between me and a friend of mine whom we'll call Sam. Sam and i were talking about another musician in town and i said:

"What do you think of that guy? He seems pretty cool."
"Well," says Sam, "i've seen him like 20 times now and he never can remember my name. Plus, when he talks to me it seems like he's always looking over my shoulder for someone more important."
"Yeah," i respond, "he's pretty Nashville."
"Yeah," Sam says back, "he was Nashvillin' me."
"Huh," i respond Beavis-style, "you got Nashvilled!"

This is where the use of Nashvilled really comes into its own as a viable member of current culture. In this day and age of high stakes, constant networking and self-promotion, what better way to describe that warm and entirely fake friendliness you experience at parties as someone has a conversation that seems directed about three inches to the right of your own head?

And here, finally, is probably the embodiment of the term in all its vile glory. This is the story Sam (in Nashville) told me about his girlfriend just this morning (names and precise details changed to protect the innocent):

Betty is upset. Sandra--you know her, she's one of our best friends--had invited Betty to do a few songs at the "WestEnd Coffee House Night" that Sandra was putting on at the Broadway Methodist church. She'd asked Betty to do it with her because Sandra was kind of nervous to do it by herself. Well, Betty was all excited about getting back out and everything and now Sandra has sorta uninvited her because a bunch of other more big name songwriters have started to express an interest in coming down. Man, Betty just feels so Nashvilled.

What are we to do when the stakes at the local church coffee house are so high that we're willing to sacrifice a friendship over it? I guess it's Nashville or be Nashvilled in this day an age.


Wrong! (and then wrong again!)

I had to wait for Alison's "snarky, political post" to marinate before i covered this--and, please, still go down there and read it, by all means--but i have somethin' needs covering.

Much to my chagrin, i did not run a mile in 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Big hands on a watch notwithstanding, i always figured i was averaging somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 minutes. I have consequently double checked my time, and have found that to be the case.

Here's the deal: I would never have reported the 4 minute time except that i went up to the park the other day to run the loop, set my foot on the start mark, hit the button on a very expensive (although antiquated, 70's model) stopwatch, and started running. When i came back around to that mark i hit the button again. I looked at the watch and it read 4:18 seconds. I couldn't believe it. Thinking that maybe i'd slightly hit the reset button on the old, analog watch, I did it again just to double check and still came in at a similar 4:28. Man, i think to myself, i am baddass.

Now, i've seen people running 4 minute miles and they don't look like what i imagine i looked like when i was running my two tests: Those folks are intense, focused. I, on the other hand, am saying "hi" to people, looking at birds in the trees, occasionally singing a snippet of a song. I knew something had to be wrong.

So yesterday morning i went out with the same stopwatch with the intent of checking this figure yet again. This time i did the loop that circles the city park, a circuit that i knew to be exactly one mile because i've driven the car around it. My running time, sadly, was not in the 4 minute range. Nor the 5 minute range. I ran a respectable--and much more understandable--6 minute 20 second mile.

So what was the problem? I'm sure you already know, but i'll hold the actual answer back just to create a sense of mystery, okay?

Okay. That's embarrassment number one. Here's number two, and it has the same source as number one. And before you say it, Yes, as we all know, i am a bastard. No need to rub it in.

These two loops i'm talking about here are both at a park very near our house. This is where i run and bike everyday. The outside loop is actually a one way city street that circles the park. It is upon this circuit that i ride my bike (and did my second running test). The other loop is a small asphalt walking path contained within the bigger loop. It's easy to believe, due to the twisty nature of this trail, that it, also, is one mile. Besides, there are even signs that mark a 1/2 mile, 3/4 mile, etc. Why would they lie?

Alright: here's where the bastard part starts. I get peeved at the people running on the city street part. Like i said, i ride my bike around this loop. The folks that run on the street require me to be very vigilant of their presence. Besides, it's very popular to run (and bike) city streets in Charleston going the wrong way on one way streets and this loop is no exception. After you live here long enough, you start to see why this is actually a safe option, but it's still pretty annoying for cars--and for me on my bicycle. It becomes very annoying, however, when you know there's a perfectly good trail not 40 feet away.

SO! A month ago I started to dislike these scofflaws. Why are they running, i grumble to myself, on this loud, unsafe, road when they could be enjoying the tranquil, safe, path afforded by the interior loop? Each day i became more obsessed with these people. Who are they? i soon started thinking as i sped around the corners.

After a week of that it became Who do they think they are?! Soon I started muttering under my breath freakin' mreepmher runnin' ontha mreeephreemer! I could hear their nasal, whiny retort in my head "but it's not a mile! fuh fuh fuh!" Two weeks ago i up-ed the ante again and started fussing out loud. "YOUKNOWTHATWALKINGPATHSAMILEDON'TYOU?" i said to one person as i sailed by them for the 12th time on my fancypants track bike. I began to consider posting signs.

For Your Safety
(and the safety of others)

There is a perfectly good walking trail on the interior of the park.
I promise not to ride on your walking trail the wrong way,
if you'll agree to not walk on the
Freakin' City Street the Wrong Way!

And don't tell me it's not a mile because it is!
If you need help figuring out how they get a mile trial inside
of a mile trail, i'll draw you a picture!

i sounded a lot like that sarahsurfs chick on craigslist, but in my zealotry, i hadn't yet noticed that. Anyway, it turns out, due to my running test, that, uhh...well, that inside track isn't a mile after all.



At long last, a political post (and very snarky)

As you all know, the ultrasound bill has been altered so that the woman will now be allowed rather than forced to view the ultrasound. This, of course, makes the bill utterly ridiculous since women were already allowed to view their ultrasounds before their abortions--I mean, the machine's right there beside you--but, whatever. At least it's no longer oppressive.

The same can't be said for the state's newest attempt at reigning in women's free-ranging sexuality: S. 126, the pharmacist refusal bill. This bill will allow pharmacists not to dispense any drugs that they have a moral objection to. Bills like this are being proposed around the country in an effort to reduce access to emergency contraception and birth control pills, but they would allow a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for anything at all. This should make everybody extremely nervous. When they start going after abortion and contraception, you've got to start wondering what their real agenda is. (Hmmm...control of women's bodies?) There's an article about this on the TellThem! blog. Word is that the Senate Medical Affairs Committee will be discussing this bill on Wednesday, April 18, so it's time to contact those senators again. We made them change the bill last time, and we can do it again.

And finally, I'd just like to weigh in briefly on the Duke lacrosse issue. Biffle took the high road in his post, but I'm going to be less hopeful here. What triggered this response was a recent op-ed by Kathleen Parker. In her piece, she disparages the faculty who spoke out against the lacrosse team and Duke's president for suspending the team. She notes, "It was not a pretty day for due process."

The thing I would like to remind readers is that Duke's president suspended the lacrosse players not based on the rape charges but based, instead, on a bunch of things that happened that were widely acknowledged to be true--indeed, to my knowledge, were never denied at all. Namely, the lacrosse team regularly had parties in which they hired strippers and drank themselves into oblivion, and one player sent an email to the team which read,

tommrow night, after tonights show, ive decided to have some strippers over...i plan to kill the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex
The coach should have resigned. He should have been ashamed, as should all the lacrosse players. The kind of racist, misogynist rape culture that would allow an email like this to be seen as a joke is appalling. Keep this email in mind while the papers declare the innocence of the boys accused of raping the woman at their party, and while Parker claims "Those who have performed most honorably throughout this disgraceful season of sexual spin and racial one-upmanship are the athletes."


Still not the political post I've been promising

Just to be oppositional, I'd like to weigh in by saying that I'm not impressed with Man vs. Wild. I think it's lame, and here's why: he has a camera crew with him! Yes, he squeezes water from elephant dung and wears urine-soaked pants and starts fire with the friction from his own bones rubbing together, but we all know that when things get really tough, the camera guy gives him a Snickers. Please.

The person who's really cool is Dick Proenneke of Alone in the Wilderness. He had no camera crew. He hauled himself into Alaska to live for a year, built his own house from scratch with nothing but hand tools, and stayed there for 30-something years, only leaving in his late 80's. Dick Proenneke could kick the ass of Man vs. Wild any day of the week.

Other ideas for shows:

  • Biffle has done lots of camping over the years with his friend Ken Warren, who was an Eagle Scout and apparently is as handy in the wilderness as Biffle is around the house. Ken is as sweet as can be, but not very entertaining, so a good show would be Ken Warren and Biffle vs. Wild. Biffle would be the Gleep-like comic relief.
  • Or my dad could star in a show. He doesn't really like to leave his blue recliner, so his show would be Piepmeier vs. Hampton Inn.



This is Alison, writing from Walter's account. My dad and Catherine have both insisted that it's time for another pupdate. It's hard raising puppies so far away from their grandparents and aunts, so it's important that we keep everybody abreast of Benya's development. So here you go: a non-political series of pictures that document how much bigger Benya is getting. (Just as a heads-up: I believe there will be a political post later today about the ultrasound bill, so enjoy this non-political interlude while you can.)

As you can see, Walter is in love, in love, with this puppy. He often looks at her and says, "She is so cute you could just stomp her." I admit, she is pretty damn cute.



Back earlier this year i had to quit running. I had given myself shin splints, something i'd heard of but never really known what it meant. Well, pain is what it meant. I went to the doctor and he said that i needed to quit running, at least for several months. I did. And hated it. To replace my running i took up bicycling, which is fine and i need to do it because of my nebulous plans to eventually do a mini-triathlon, but biking is no where near as gratifying in the endorphin category.

Anyway, i have laid off running since January. I have waited patiently until now to try it again and i'm back at it. It probably isn't going to work, however. I can feel that same old feeling in my right shin that i was feeling earlier this year, so it looks like i better keep it to a minimum.

That, however, is not the point of this post. Here's the point:

I usually carry a watch with me when i run or bike. It's not a sports watch, but a normal everyday kind of watch with big hands and stuff. I use it for the merest reference, i.e. hmmm...i've been at this now for twenty minutes. That's long enough.

Well, today i took an actual stopwatch. I wanted to find out exactly how fast my average running mile is. For a long time now i've been under the impression that it takes me about 7 to 8 minutes to run a mile. I've wondered, then, as i breathe heavily and only slowly improve, how in the world there are people out there that can run a freakin' mile in like 3 minutes and stuff! I'll never be able to do that, i think.

Well, lo and behold, today with the stopwatch, i found out that i ran a pretty average speed mile in 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Lawsymercy!


One Good Thing/Another Thing

One Good Thing

Well, the Duke boys were falsely accused, it appears. The justice system has pronounced that to be the case. It must be true.

One good thing has come of it, however, and that was a lesson learned by one of the players. He says in the paper today "This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice."

Wow. I just can't help but think about how amazing a place the world would be if only everyone could have that happen to them too.

Another Thing

Too often these days i see the public--lefties and righties both--hanging their hats on the landmark law case. All hopes, all theory, all levels of understanding bow to the big legislation. In short (and hyperbolically), i see a kind of mentality that makes pronouncements like "Well, the state has decided that "marriage" is between one man and one woman. Thank God the Lord has prevailed forever." Or conversely, "Well, the state has decided that "marriage" is between one man and one woman. I guess that means everyone is a cave-dwelling homophobic fart-knocker." We allow these cases, these decisions, to become huge...well, we allow them to become big ole effigies. We set up these giant, soft-sculpture compasses and then, whichever way they point while they burn there in the public square, is the way we let them point forever...or at least for a really long time.

Although, as individuals in the crowd, i'm sure we all see some of the subtleties at work in the big effigies of "Gay Marriage!" and "The Duke Lacrosse Case!" and "The Ultrasound Bill!," the "crowd" itself doesn't. I mean, that's just not how mobs work. Immediately we all want to divide up and start throwing stones at each other. Meanwhile, the mainstream media, with its dependence on big profit, does nothing but relish in this polarization. Informed discussion is a rarity. Case in point: My first reaction to reading the news this morning was to reach for this blog and throw out a big, old f**k you-rock at the folks on the other side of the square.

But I don't want to do that.

What i do want to do is this: I wanna ask, do you really think that Duke kid learned that?

Here. Instead of taking his inventory, allow me to talk about me for a second: I, like him, grew up a privileged white boy. I got to go to private school, too. I was raised to be a caring, conservative Christian, and between the ages of 13 and 21, i was what most folks might call "all boy," i.e. I raped and pillaged my way through as much of life as i possibly could. I threw beer bottles at road signs, hollered whoohoo! from open t-tops as i passed funerals, and stuck both hands down as many girl's pants as would let me without belting me across the face. If all had gone well (and i hadn't become a raging drug-addict), i would have married some sweet Christian girl, had a couple of sweet, white children and sent a small portion of the money i earned from my career as an attorney for mission work in Haiti.

In short, if i had continued on that path, i wouldn't have a clue. I would have thought I had gotten where i was because we live in a meritocracy. I know better than that now. Do you think that's what the Duke boy means? That for the first time in his life he's gotten to see that the world can be unfair to lots of folks?

Whatever the lesson that young man walked away with, i know that most of the rest of us are just gonna scurry to opposite corners of the public square and come out swinging. "The left's premature rush to condemnation has destroyed three innocent young men's lives!" says one side while the other side yells...well, exactly what i'm yelling here, i guess.

Listen, i hope that what happens (although i know it won't) is that folks come together and discuss the real issue here. This Duke case resonated with our entire nation. It was a 24 hour-a-day media sensation. There is a reason for that and it isn't just because a black woman might have been raped by some white men, or that white men might have been falsely accused of committing a heinous crime. It isn't even that "our country's 'liberal media' was too quick to judgement." No., the reason this event resonates, and the place to start the real conversation is found in that guy's observation:

We live in a world of tragic injustice.

How do we plan to fix this?


Being with Biffle

This is one of those posts that I periodically put here, posts that could--by an unsympathetic reader--be seen as an homage to living with someone who enables my workaholic habits. But let's assume, for a moment, that this is not the kind of reader you are.

Here's what Biffle did for me today:

  • Drove with me to the airport to pick up Kate Bornstein and then to school, so that he could take the truck and Kate and I wouldn't have to drive around forever looking for places to park.
  • Came to campus at a moment's notice when I called him at 6:30 saying that the technology guy who was scheduled to meet me and Kate at the venue at 6:00 hadn't shown and couldn't be found, and by the way do you have an XLR-1/4 inch mic cable? And by the way I might be about to cry?
  • Called all his musical friends, found the cable, and got to school within 10 minutes, at which point he made Kate's mic work so that I could run around and make sure everything else was in good shape for the talk.
  • Made me dinner, just now, at 11:02 p.m., after I shooed everyone out of the venue and got Kate back to her room.
He is a rock star. In the domestic, supportive, adorable, divested of male privilege, handy way.

Holy Xarkers, Batman!

And if that weren't enough (see post below) i also have found that Xark! (home of the one of my fa-vo-rite manifestos) listed Baxter Sez as one of their potential picks for--amongst some pretty happening company--a Thinking Blogger Award. Thanks, y'all!


I googled myself today. I found an artist's residency (way past a deadline) i might have been interested in. i wrote them anyway hoping that maybe, even after 20 days, they still hadn't found the person they were looking for.

Anyway, i typed my name into google right after i sent the email just to see what would crop up if the selecting artists were to do the same thing, right?

Lo and behold, here was one of the entires:

Need: Yakima roof rack - $100
Reply to: sale-308166311@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-04-08, 11:49AM EDT

Hi, I am in need of a yakima roof rack. I need: Four Q towers & 48-58inch cross bars. I would also like yakima arrow kayak stackers. I would like locks also but not a have to. I do not need Q clips unless they are Q69-70.

I need this tomorrow. I have to pic it up tomorrow (monday-9th. I have cash, make it cheap. Some people are stupid and over pricing this stuff and change there mind about it being thule and saying its a yakima (know yor stuff before emailing me and dont go back on your word like this Walter Biffle guy trying to sell me some junk and doesnt even know anythign about it. I would pay $100- for cross bars/towers..let me know ASAP no BS!

* Location: Charleston
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 308166311

Do ya think there might be a screenplay in this for me? Like "it's a southpark meets terminator II kind of thing, in which i'm picked up by the Iranian revolutionary guard in enemy waters, and one of my interrogators turns out to be this person from craigslist?"


My Weekend Craigslist Adventure

Over the weekend i answered a craigslist ad that said this:

WANTED: Kayakl rack/ Roof rack - $100

Below is the email extravaganza that followed.

WALTER: i have some old thule (?) roof racks in my garage i don't use any more. They use to be on my wife's saturn and i don't know why they couldn't be made to work for you. you can come by and see them if you want, i live downtown.

SARAH: hey..well are they Q clips or rain gutters? what length is the cross bars? also I live in columbia but come to charleston alot. So before I come pick them up..whaats the price for them?

WALTER: they are yakima, q-clip style, with 48" crossbars. I reckon i could get 100 bucks for them fairly easily. They were missing a pretty easily obtainable piece (the foot on one of them) when i went out to look at them this morning. If i can't find that i'd sell them to you for 75 (and then you'd have to buy the replacement part for $20).
alrighty. lemme know what you think. i can send you a picture if you like.

SARAH: hey..yea I doubt they will work..right now im planing on buying a huge package deal from someone else down in charleston for only $140..so if that changes ill let u know

WALTER: right on.

SARAH: hey!! I am stil very interested! So do you still have the yakima rack? Its the Qtowers with the 48inch cross bars..does this come with the Q-clips? Would you sell everything for $70? let me know and I can pick up everything with cash monday!!! thanks so much1!

SARAH: hey..yea also could you send me a pic..and you said the foot was missing? is that the q-clip..or part of the towers?..like I said I am VERY VERY interested and ready to buy!!

WALTER: i'll do the photo first thing in the morning. If you don't hear from me, write back and remind me--i'm liable to forget. listen, i'm not trying to be a snot, but i'd really like to try and get the whole hundred for them. i looked and found that foot that was missing (well...sans a piece of rubber on the bottom) so, they are all ready to roll. They only got used for a short while, are in great shape, and were originally like $250 or something. (i looked on the website and what i have is "four towers with q-clips, and 48" crossbars. I guess the only thing to worry about is are they going to fit on your car?)
I'll shoot you a picture in the morning and you can decide. later, gator.

SARAH: hey, yea well I will have to buy two sets of Q-clips to fit my car..I mean I can buy the towers and cross bars for about $60-$70 on ebay..so if you are still interested in say $80..I would do that or whatever, I just need them monday..how old are they? also monday is the only day I can do it, so will you be able to do it monday? thanks and let me know ASAP please!

SARAH: hey, forgot to ask does it have the sks locks and a key? If not I cant really afford to pay $100, I have to buy the lock which are $40 for 4 and the Qclips and feet which are $60 for 4 and kayak stackers for around $70..Im in highschool and realy need this..so I think if it doesnt have the locks even $60-70 is fair..but Im willing to pay $80..it also depends on how old it is, since you said in the first email it was an old used one..thanks

WALTER: couple of things:
yes, you can get them monday. the only time i'm not available is from
10:30 to maybe around 12. gotta take the dog to the vet. other than that, i'm free.
and you probably shouldn't have reminded me about ebay. i think you're wrong about that $60-70 amount. unless you're thinking i've got something else, the "completed auctions" shows what i've got averaging around $130. i'm just too lazy to ship that stuff.
still want the picture?

SARAH: Hey, Yea the buy it now, because they are brand new. I just passed up cross bars and towers for $70..Im not wrong, I know how to sell on ebay. I will pay $100 I just think your ripping me off since they are old. Yopu acted like you would sell them dirt cheap at first. Yea, I want the pic. Whats $20 to you? Im in highschool and have to buy my own car..geez..not trying to be rood or anything. Like I said I still need them so please send the pic asap. Thanks

SARAH: hey, you dident answer my ?'s about how old they are nor do they come with the sks locks? There is another guy I was talking to that had 78in crossbars, 1A raingutters, paddle holders, kayak stackers, Q towers and clips and it was 6 months old for only $110..too bad I cant se the 1a towers. They sounded pretty old since you said my wifes old roof rack laying in the garge..People who sale on ebay usally havent ever used there things and keep them in tip top shape. I buy and sell 24/7 on ebay/CL, thats how I make 75% of my money besides babysitting. Just let me know, I need to find a used rack at a good price down there by monday so I can carry two kayaks back home..let me know and thanks

WALTER: excuse me. they are two years old and were never used--other than spending a month on top of a car. they do not have locks.
They were my "wife's old roof racks, laying in the garage" because we sold the car two years ago, but kept the racks. I always thought i would need them again, but it turns out that hasn't been the case. I hadn't even considered getting rid of them until i saw your listing on craigslist.

SARAH: Well will you help out a teenager? You dident even know what brand they were at first "thule?"..Like I said, I just got outbidded on the same stuff, it sold for $72.93 with sks locks..so without locks, I doubt you could get $70 for them. My boyfriend just bought one for $120 brand new with sks locks on ebay. So will you just sell them for $80? Also, I need to know ASAP like now, I need a plan for tomorrow, I cant just keep emailing back and forth..whats your number and a address to pick them up? I have cash, like I said help someone help, I help people all the time and get nothing in return, your an adult so whats $20?..please email me back asap..thanks

SARAH: Look at it this way..the ones your seeing on buy it now ebay brand new have locks...locks and kays cost $40 brand new/yakimas site..So set your price at $120 like you said, and deduct $40 because they have no locks..im just gunna have to go buys locks$40, Q clips $60, and stackers $50-/+..Oh also, what model/make/year did you have the clips on?..Name a good time for tomorrow/address/meeting place/phone number..thanks

WALTER: I'm weary of emailing you. This is my last missive: i am offering (as i have been since the second email i sent you) a yakima roof rack, four towers without locks and a missing rubber foot, 4 q-clips, 48" crossbars. It is two years old, and other than the rubber pad, is in excellent shape. The price is 100 dollars.
If you are interested in that, then let me know in your next email. I will then send you my address so you can pick them up on monday.

SARAH: hey..I thought you said you found the rubber foot? You said you found it..if not then you said you would sale it for $75 without the foot..you said that, so thats that. $75 right? I have that email, no one would pay $100 for that.. You said $75 right? That roof rack is half there, it will take another $100 to replace everything. I will bring $75 cash like you said before..I save all my emails..How about giving me your wifes nubmer, since its hers, and letting me deal with her, she will prob give me it, and help me out on easter, any nice person would..let me know..I will pay $100 with the foot..without it $75 since u said that..let me know now..not another 2hours wait please..ur nubmer/address..thanks

SARAH: Also, seNd a pic..stop emailing back and forth..im ready to get an address..we will talk price tomorrow..thanks

SARAH: hey, give me the modle/make/year so I can resale the Q clips I cant use..

WALTER: forget it. Find your things somewhere else.

SARAH: no, I said I will buy it for $100. If the foot is still missing like you said at first $75..I need to know asap..

SARAH: hello? Im waiting for an address/number and the answer..does it not have a foot or NOT? please stop going back and forth...Here is the deal No foot=$75..FOOT=$100..what you ORG. said!! Since you are going back to the ORG!!! BE FAIR PLEASE..you want $75-$100 or not?? your u cant get it from anyone else at that price..I just need it now..asap please

SARAH: need to know asap..please thanks

SARAH: hey..so dSid u find the foot or what? thanks n let me know asap

SARAH: hey..just let me know asap. I need to plan..Like I said I will give you $100, it just not fair but god will take care of that later. If the foot is there $100. if not $75 like you said to BEGIN with..right? please email me back asap...I have your number and will give you a call later if no email..


World of gorgeous curls

I'm in DC right now visiting my friend Eliza, and she and I went to a ritzy suburban salon today to have our hair cut and styled by a Ouidad-certified stylist who shall remain nameless because Eliza is sure that he'll read this blog and then refuse us service in the future. He was wonderful--my haircut now is better than the first Ouidad cut I got back in the summer--but he actually embodied a kind of stereotype of a fancy salon stylist. He had an indeterminate accent--think Franck in Father of the Bride--and talked a great deal about the difficulties he's had with the actual Ouidad folks. At one point he explained to us, confidentially, that the husband of Ms. Ouidad herself is "pissing off of me" because he expects too large a commission. So now our nameless stylist--whom we love--is going off on his own without the Ouidad seal of approval.

Here we are, with our gorgeous curls.

Eliza points out that there is about a bottle of product on each of our heads, and we could hardly fit in the car on our way back to her house.


The tide turns on the ultrasound bill?

At yesterday's State Senate hearing about the ultrasound bill (a hearing that, again, was called with around 24 hours' notice so that those of us who have jobs couldn't possibly be there), Attorney General Henry McMaster told senators that he thinks the bill is illegal. He's changed his mind on this, by the way--last week he said it was legal. I hope that our emails and calls had something to do with that.

This is good news because his opinion gives senators an out. Apparently it's politically untenable to be pro-choice in this godforsaken state, so pro-choice senators who didn't want to vote for the bill can now go to their anti-abortion constituencies and say that the reason they didn't support the bill is because it would tie us up in needless lawsuits, which wouldn't be good for South Carolina. Which is true. It's sad that the "needless lawsuits" argument is probably much more compelling than the "women's reproductive rights" argument, but I'll take what I can get.


Letter to the editor from another Women's Studies type

Letter to the editor of The State, Mon, Apr. 02, 2007

Regarding the latest punitive monitoring of women in South Carolina, proposed mandatory ultrasounds for girls and women preparing to legally terminate a pregnancy, it is important to remember the following: Women have already examined their own hearts, minds, souls and total life circumstances before they decide to terminate a pregnancy or not. The S.C. Legislature, however, is only concerned with the contents of women's uteruses.

The cynical harassment of girls and women in South Carolina seeking to negotiate their reproductive decisions is now matched with this lurid, voyeuristic requirement to leer at women's insides. It is an astonishing violation of citizens' bodily integrity befitting a Big Brother-style government.

Remember that this same Legislature failed to use the historic tobacco settlement funds for public health, has not adequately raised cigarette taxes to help fund poor children's health care, does not fully fund Head Start or day care for poor families, leaves impoverished many of our schools in the K-12 system and does not protect our physical environment. It does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets, provide enough state troopers to keep our highways safe or provide enough money to ensure that domestic violence survivors, their children, and even possible fetuses, are not turned away from a safe harbor because the shelters are already full to capacity.

It is important to remember, in addition, that we all will pay for this violation of our privacy rights and diminution of human dignity.


Professor, Department of Political Science
Associate Director, Women's Studies Program
University of South Carolina