This is the archive of a blog I kept from 2005-2009. I’m not writing much online at the moment but you can see what I’m up to on my website, www.arenaizura.com.
January 2, 2011
January 2, 2009
On November 21 2007 a person from the Philippines, Sally, or Salvator Kamatoy, was found dead behind a shopping mall in the United Arab Emirates. She was working as a hair dresser. No cause of death was found, but the Filipino Embassy apparently told her family that her head had been beaten in.
Sally was one of the Paper Dolls, someone in a documentary I’ve been writing about in my thesis. The Paper Dolls were a drag troupe of Filipino/a trans/gay/drag queens who lived in Israel from 2000-2005, mostly as aged care workers allowed in under really precarious guest worker conditions. The film Bubot Niyar is their story, although it’s also the story of this gay Israeli film-maker who is naive and repulsed by drag at the beginning of filming and becomes galvanised into political action of a kind by the end, trying to intervene when one of his subjects was deported. Sally is the only person featured in Bubot Niyar whose employer, Chaim, is fine with her dressing as a woman. He comes to regard her as his daughter, and she calls him Papa. She is a presence: well, they are all presences, these people who are not actors, in a film that depends for its drama on the fact that its subjects are consummate queens who joke, whoop, giggle, bitch and flirt in the limelight of the camera just as defiantly as in the real limelight on stage, no matter whether the film-maker is a bit of a jerk, or whether club promoters totally exploit them, or whether they are about to be deported.
Sally isn’t the only Paper Doll who is dead. Rika, too, died in Israel, during production. She is not named in the film, not featured as one of the "five drag queens" written about in the director’s statement. You don’t even know she died until the end credits, and next to her name are the letters "RIP". But she is in the film. She talks. At one point she attacks the director about his dumbass views on transness with a wary, annoyed yet sardonic intelligence.
This just makes me really sad. And angry. I have little time for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, it’s not my way of doing politics. To me, it feels like the appropriation of deaths whose causes are inextricably tied to a bunch of things that aren’t about gender identity: most of the people included in TDOR vigils are people of colour, most of them are poor, and most of them are sex-workers. Often the people most loudly commemorating TDOR are people who are trans, yet whose skin colour and class and privilege makes them pretty immune to violence, or at least protected in some way a lot of people just aren’t. And it’s geographically so specific: to the USA, mostly. So many deaths aren’t counted.
In the stupid fucking irony at which this world excels, Sally was killed just after the transgender day of remembrance. And she is not remembered. But because I’ve been watching the film a lot over the last two years, and it makes me cry even without knowing that at least two of its trans subjects are dead (probably murdered), I want to remember her now. And for others to remember her as well.
It’s yet another irony that the only way Sally can be remembered is through the film she was in, which makes it impossible not to view her through a lens in which her migration to Israel from the Philippines was figured as liberatory, freeing, as her and other’s search for a place where she could be herself. (In fact, in the film they all say how they expected Israel to be primitive and ultra-religious, and were surprised it had a Pride March.) But do watch the trailer. Her face is freeze-framed before you click play.
June 18, 2008
I’ve been weeding my links, and sorting them, and adding some more, because it’s about two years since I added any links to the list and there were some appalling lapses. At the moment I’ve categorised from A to T, and T to Z are still all in the ‘Random’ category. Hmmm. Blogrolls are weird.
May 24, 2008
Fangirl tagged me for this:
The rules are as follows: Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what you are most passionate for students to learn about. Give your picture a short title. Title your post “Meme: I can’t believe it’s not a passion quilt!”.* Link back to this blog entry. Include links to 5 (or more) educators.
In the archive of LTTR (which is perfect for a Saturday afternoon web browse and inspirational for all sorts of reasons, those homos know how to make art and shit) I found this piece by Boots, about an extremely awesome Pudding Tits Project, illegibility and language. Here’s an extract:
Right after I got surgery, I felt strange. I felt strange that I spent so much money on something so self-indulgent. And I felt really strange about my place in the world. I called a friend who, like me, is not taking testosterone, gets read as female fairly frequently, and who had chest reconstruction surgery. I tried to articulate the fact that all of a sudden, it felt as if I didn’t exist in the world, save for in the presence of a few people that understood my wonderfully freakish, spectacularly monstrous gender. He both reassured and disappointed me with his reply: “We’re illegible. But everyone is, it’s just that most people are never confronted with the situation of really realizing it.”
I know this experience of feeling as if I don’t exist. I’d articulate a little differently, though — in the sense that since I’ve begun to be read as unproblematically male, everyday life is a little ‘easier’, but I lose the power of making my own freakishness visible.
For example, I don’t think many of this year’s crop of gender studies students know that I’m trans. A couple of them expressed fairly transphobic sentiments earlier in the semester, along the lines of, “If someone wants to be called a woman, fine. I’d use female pronouns to their face. But to me they were born men and they’ll always be men.” I encouraged other students to deconstruct or challenge those sentiments, and was impressed when the other students in the class rose effortlessly to the challenge. But somehow I could not say, “So I guess that to you I would count as a woman?” Partially this is because being an educator (at least in gender studies) is about dismantling the reliability of students’ individual experiences of their worlds, and offering them a toolbox with which to read the abstract, the invisible. But it was also about protecting myself from surveillance, and not allowing the class to become a space in which my gender performances were scrutinised. I wanted to retain a space in which my identity was unimportant, and where I remained effective as a conduit for learning. Also, I couldn’t think of how to describe my gender, how to account for it, to them. Remaining illegible has its uses.
Perhaps my students would learn just as much if I were ‘open’ about being trans as not. But since I don’t know how to ‘come out’ to them, I’ve tried to teach them that none of us has a stable gender (or sexuality or ethnicity or identity), and that we are all being misrecognised, all the time. If I am passionate about anything, this is it.
Anyhow, since I’ve been back from North America, I’ve been experimenting with style. Long ago, I decided that tight jeans and tight-fitting sweaters would probably make it more difficult for me to pass as a guy. No, worse — because let’s not diminish the homophobia implicit in this arithmetic around tightness and bagginess — it seemed easier to pass as a straighter-looking white boy than a queer. The excuse I gave myself was that my bum was too big for tight jeans. I’ve always felt uneasy about it, but at Transsomatechnics my whole structure of passing anxiety crumbled into dust. No-one cared. Or, people did care, but in an encouraging and nourishing way. So why is it different in Melbourne? We are still operating in reactionary response to a medicalised system in which anyone who wants to modify their bodies surgically or hormonally must engage with the ‘true transsexual’ narrative. The stakes of not passing as a true transsexual at the clinic are high — people self-harm, destroy their relationships, kill themselves. Even in the spaces made to resist this poison, we are still so psychically alert to the prevailing pressures of passing as ‘trans enough’ everywhere else that we cannot entirely innoculate ourselves against it. Lately I have been wearing flamboyantly skinny jeans, pink-streaked 80s ties and cornflower blue sweaters. Eyeliner, too. The world needs more boys with eyeliner. For now, this will be my innoculation.
PS Today I had breakfast with a friend. After our Minor Place bagels turned out not to fill our stomachs, we went wandering through Brunswick on a mission to find baklava. On the way, we discussed what, if it were not for how the last month has been chock full of brain-shatteringly exciting things for me, would certainly be the most exciting project ever. It makes me shiver with barely repressed glee. Good things are going to happen, I just know it.
May 17, 2008
Spunk Mag is a new publication out of Sydney. The callout for submissions looks kinda exciting and awesome:
Into exploring masculinities and male genders?
We want to make a space were we can create our own visions of sexiness, fluid and diverse, reflecting, celebrating and reinventing our cultures and communities.
SPUNK is a new magazine for boys, men, trans men, butches, pansies, fellas, dandies, billy goats, blokes, arselickers, chaps, buddies, otters, gents, ravers, kings, gigolos, bois, puppies, bogans, lads, masters, banim, guys, bears, slaves, nerds, guerrillas, studs, bottoms, brothers, rascals, queers, rent boys, beefcakes, uncles, cock suckers, doofers, jocks, homos, tom cats, mugs, daddies, geeks, bisexuals, machos, fudge packers, westies, tigers, transsexuals, muscle marys, gaylords, philosophers, dicks, wolves, faeries, rogues, FTMs, cubs, buggers, labourers, alphas, waxheads, gender benders, intersex, queens, stallions, intellectuals, sons, thugs, poofters, males, bulls, gods, chubs, gvarim, fathers, home boys, transvestites, heroes, rams, crybabies, chasers, granddads, lions, bards, brutes, freaks, nancy boys, bulldogs, shamans, tops, bludgers, switches, cocks, poofters, bookworms, trade, sissies, badgers, faggots and other gender fuckers.
Who should submit: Sexy folk who want to contribute fantasies, art, erotica, verse, fiction, soul, thoughts, porn, dreams, photos, magic, ideas, desire, articles, music, lust, interviews, libido, performance, song, sex, poetry, multimedia, creativity, spirit, dance, graffiti, kundalini, words and films.
Show us your spunk! Contribution deadline for Issue 1: 1 August 2008.
May 10, 2008
So D. emails me a couple of addresses of people to look up when I’m in LA, and aside from how S. is driving me around on this mad wonderful tour of the city every day I don’t think I have the energy to meet more than one person so I pick W. Who I hear does amazing art and runs a queer performance night slash party somewhere and has long gorgeous hair and is a transboy and and. So I call W. He tells me to come by his place tonight at 9.30 so we can hang out with him and friends of his who just got in from Berlin. We go, and on the way we stop in Koreatown to eat. There’s a Korean sushi place that’s empty and white and black. The sushi train stretches for a good half mile up and down three long table rows. We want it to go, which here means to take away, but it’s so efficient. This ‘to go’. The waiter hands me a plastic container, a glove, a plastic bag and soy sauce and wasabi. He tells us to take plates off the sushi train and transfer them to the container using the glove. Later he produces polystyrene containers of miso soup, a huge portion of ginger, and a smaller container for the seaweed salad. S. and I watch for the arrival of pieces of interesting looking sushi, a roll with tuna, a roll with salmon, two serves of inari, something that maybe looks like sausage but turns out to be cooked tuna. We drive to W’s place. On his floor we talk with the Germans, who are making a film about a film called Salome. Then we follow their green PT Cruiser downtown to the club. We drive through a skyscraper forest, past old movies theatres that are now churches, featuring sessions with God.
At the door a crew of queens greets us. ‘Thankyou for coming.’ ‘Thankyou for having us!’ The club itself is an old theatre. Balconies above, screens with a textual narrative that reads like Judy Blume on Viagra. An innocent double date at a baseball game turns into a gay — shock! — orgy! — ohmygod. We position ourselves at the door and watch the hott faggots walking in. Someone takes our photo. A boy called Angel tells me I am gorgeous. He’s wrong, it’s him that’s gorgeous. I’m wearing a pin that says ‘I am yours from top to toe,’ and I truly am. Inside it’s hot, and we dance. Me and W. especially. Oh, someone to dance with. Someone to vogue with, someone to ‘ooh!’ and ‘ah’ and ‘oh my god honey!’ and ‘what WAS that?’ A faggy nelly queen in just a little more faggy nelly way than I am, but comparative and just so. Hot stepping, butt cranking. Beautiful. I’m thinking of the last person I danced dirty with and how he’s in this same state somewhere and how great that is, icing sugar on his sleeve, art in his skin. All of us scholars and gentlemen. I’m thanking the universe for making each part of this short North American adventure a step up to a higher level of power/joy/knowledge. Angel comes back and wants to know where I’m from. “Australia,” I say. “Where did they MAKE you?” he says. Yeah people have asked me that before. “Do you dance on the ceiling there? Is everything upside down?” We just dance at him. All these fags, we own them, our eyes are dazzling just a little bit more than theirs. Antony said so in Vancouver, and Antony is a hippie but he is right. We do dazzle. We are fearless and we dazzle.
On the way out W. decries the lack of girls. I am thinking of the so many hot boys, so many, too many. And how for once I don’t care how they read me. A gorgeous drag queen thanks me for coming again, and I say, “It’s been splendid,” and she blows kisses to S. and then me: “Goodbye ladies, goodbye!” Oh no. I walk up to her with big eyes. “I’m not a lady! I’m a boy.” “Oh honey,” she says, “I call all the boys here ladies!” My ‘but of course’ face. “I’m so sorry, I get nit-picky. Well, just for you tonight I’m a big girly faggy lady!” “You take care now, lady,” she says, kissing my cheek, and I will, I will, I will. On my last night in LA I will.
May 5, 2008
In a bar the other night someone was explaining how some Duke University psychologists in the 1930s developed this instrument for measuring how happy people were. The instrument was a Euphorimeter, and they called the units of potential happiness ‘euphors’. Apparently, when people with very low euphor levels were shown how lots of people had really high euphor levels, the low-euphor people suddenly stopped being as depressed.
Maybe this is not the best metaphor to describe the last week, but it does come close. Transsomatechnics was by far the best conference I’ve ever been to. So little of the usual competitiveness and depoliticised intellectual wankery; so many people humbly offering their ideas in the spirit of collaboration and shared resistance. It was especially refreshing for people not to have to do the ‘trans 101′ spiel at the start of papers; here was a space in which some things were already known, and critical conversations could begin right away (rather than question time being full of random people whose contribution is “OMG that is so INTERESTING!”). A lot of fruitful things will come out of this conference, I think.
And then there was the brilliant high school dorkiness of the after-party, which was just like Trans Prom, and hanging out in Vancouver parks and streets and this tiny slice of beach, and catching up with people I never ever see enough, and making a whole crew of new beautiful friends. Seriously, if someone could measure my euphors right now, I might break the machine.
April 30, 2008
Travel: the time when you reflect on what happens when you’re at home. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about what I want to do when this trip is over. About what’s important, politically. I had this feeling in Thailand in January — a sense of dissatisfaction, maybe some regret about not giving energy to the political practices that I feel are most important. But then I came home and everything resumed. A good example of this: last year I wanted to start an autonomously-run gender/trans drop-in centre, and so did other people. That vision was rejected by some of those who got involved, leading to a huge conflict (as yet unresolved) about the vision, but the project itself has kept running, even in the absence of a clear manifesto. What I originally envisaged was a shopfront with genderfucked banners everywhere, a zine library, skill shares on all sorts of crazy shit, art making, computers for people to use, a one-day-a-week counsellor and a space for ‘activism’ to incubate, initiated for and by the lumpen queers and trannies. A place where bodies can be temporarily free from gender regulation, but which acknowledges that gender regulation is all about other forms of regulation, too. A lot of the other people involved in this gender centre project envisage something really different, something far less politically confrontational. Most recently, it looks like the project will be moving into an office space rented out by one of Melbourne’s mainstream gay and lesbian charities. This is not a bad thing, but it may not be what I want to make.
Perhaps part of the issue is that within identity-based organising, it’s hard to have conversations about class, or race, or strategies for coalitional resistance, or gentrification, or how and why the state sucks and should be avoided if possible, or how we need to rethink the concepts we use to talk about healthcare itself. (This is so even within ‘trans*’ networks, despite making an effort not to police participation along identity-based lines.) But maybe I need to be working on a project that deals with those larger issues, as well. Maybe I need to work with more people who can challenge me, rather than me trying to challenge others.
This is all a bit vague, but I just know that I’m not sitting right with my current level of political engagement. It’s not a panic along the lines of ‘omg we’re not doing enough, we have to act or die!’ either. What I’m feeling doesn’t issue from that black, icy despair everyone expressed around 2002 when the War of Terror really got started, that sense of absolute hopelessness. The world is getting more fucked up by the day, it’s true. But there are already so many people working in the cracks of the glittering cold machine-edifice. I just want to make more cracks. Sex-positive, genderfucked, sequiny, ebullient, hard-edge marxian cracks.
Anyhow, here are some things I’ve been doing in North America so far: talking trash in fag metal bars with new friends; taking a tour of Mattilda’s beautiful 7th floor view and comparing our experiences of global gentrification and rent craziness; cooking up ideas for kink skillshares back home; getting my tarot read by a posse on a ridiculously expensive kitchen floor in the Mission; meeting people I’ve known online for years who tempt me into eating amazing icecream, and having great conversations; not writing conference paper much, but feeling like I have my shit together enough to wing it.
Finally, have an awesome May Day. When I arrived in Seattle this morning I noticed big signs on the airport bus — apparently on May 1st a large march will be disrupting downtown traffic. Yeah like that. Or maybe like this: hundreds of topless taxi drivers converging on the city, demanding an end to [often racially-motivated] violence:
April 18, 2008
April 9, 2008
Today felt a bit like this. Except no-one died. Just a something.
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me
I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly New World Writing to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the Golden Griffin I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness
and for Mike I just stroll into the Park Lane
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a New York Post with her face on it
and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 Spot
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing
March 21, 2008
It’s hard to know how the great Livejournal strike of 2008 is going, because, you know, all the information about the strike is on LJ itself. But there is a strike. Or more a boycott. No-one’s posting or browsing the site. It’s happening today from midnight to midnight, GMT. The boycott protests various dick-wittery by LJ management, including the deletion of interets relating to fan-fiction, and the removal of free accounts for new users. New users are being forced to choose livejournals with lots of google advertising, or pony up for paid accounts.
Anyhow, in her commentary on the Livejournal boycott, A. mentioned another kind of writing/reading boycott, and I was reminded that I haven’t made the one journal article I’ve so far published available for free download. Now it is. And while I’m at it, I also updated the writing page to reflect things I’ve published since creating this blog.
March 8, 2008
At the Chicks on Speed show at Roxanne last night I felt old. Worse, I felt nostalgic. Roxanne is on the top level of Charlton’s. It’s possible that Charlton’s was the first alleyway bar in Melbourne; but this was when ‘alleyway’ meant sordid, not hip. The clientele seems to consist solely of middle-aged men, who can be seen ferrying their dicks between the bar and the strip club across the way. Charlton’s has a karaoke level, too. In 2002, Charlton’s became the ’so-bad-it’s-good’ karaoke venue of choice for a bunch of my friends. I did Eminem’s “Without Me” there one time, surely the most difficult song in the history of English language karaoke.
That’s just random backstory, it’s not why I felt nostalgic. Anyhow, the tone for the night was set when we walked into Coverlid Place and a dude in an Armani suit wanted to give me a high five on the way past. “C’mon boy!” he said. “High five!” “Get fucked,” I said, not in an unfriendly way. We kept walking. “I used to run most of Melbourne,” he yelled at us from behind. Now I wanted to touch his hand even less than I had a moment before. (Confession: I don’t know if his suit was really Armani. But it looked expensive and had double butt flaps.)
In terms of art, Chicks on Speed are still doing what they’ve always done. They came onstage in postmodern kimonos with cardboard cutouts of various domestic items pinned to their hairdos, like stilettos and sewing machines. The whole show was built around domestic items. Possibly this is because they’re also playing the Melbourne Fashion Festival — odd, but in keeping with the whole idea of playing to different audiences. (Their other Melbourne engagement is some conference at Monash Uni.) A Husqvarna sewing machine in the middle of the stage literally set the beat. Alex was playing a stiletto with sensors, like electric guitar strings but shoe. They really don’t play guitars, and it’s a beautiful thing.
But something wasn’t right. The crowd was too young. And also too drunk. No respect. Some weirdo got up on stage after the first song and began to spout made-up poetry, calling them “girls” and telling them to get off. They weren’t taken aback at all. They just grabbed gigantic sewing scissors and started chopping off his hair. A woman next to me said something about how she’d only heard one Chicks on Speed song. “I like Le Tigre and Peaches more,” she said. It was too loud to give her a quick lesson on grrl electroclash history. Chicks on Speed actually predate Le Tigre; in fact, they released the first Le Tigre album. Peaches came later, was less into contemporary art and more into the sexxxing, and got more famous. Anyhow, shortly after this the woman smashed her hand through the UV tube stuck on the foldback amps and cut herself. She kept pointing at her hand, the blood running down onto her wrist, and at the shards of black plastic, in a kind of drunken wonder. Melissa from CoS ended up bandaging the cut with a piece of fabric she cut off her costume.
Aside from this, the Chicks seemed in their own world. They’ve toned down the boisterous Valleygirl irony of previous shows into a slightly guarded detachment. Who can blame them when people have been throwing bottles of piss at their heads and pulling the plug on their shows.
Mostly, though, it was weird because the moment of riot grrl electro really was in the early 00’s. For a split second, everyone and their dog loved Chicks on Speed. The space for specifically politicised, art-influenced electro sound of CoS and Le Tigre has been evacuated and in its place enter Justice and LCD Soundsystem: yet more rock boys with mixers. (Not that I don’t like Justice or LCD, but it’s not the same.) Perhaps The Knife has filled some of the gap left, but The Knife are all about the music, not the fucking with shit. And here are CoS, still doing their thing, but at a much smaller venue, with a crowd who like Peaches better. I wanted more for them. And I remembered their other Melbourne gigs, at Revolver and the Prince of Wales, when everyone was packed into the venue like sardines, and there was a serious appreciation for these crazy punk art makers.
Hence, serious nostalgia. The irony of this will not be lost on readers more familiar with the late 70s art punk band Malaria!, who wrote arguably CoS’ best song, “Kaltes Klares Wasser.” But in the encore, “Kaltes Klares Wasser” still rocked out. And here it is again:
February 29, 2008
On Wednesday night I received a number of curious emails. I received an email from Tracie O’Keefe telling me she intends to sue me for libel, because I wrote that I thought her comments at the Transdestinations forum were racist. The email I received pointed out that O’Keefe herself is non-white, and that therefore, my accusation was particularly offensive. I received an email from my thesis supervisor, who had been sent a copy of the same threat to sue. (Who knows why you would send a thesis supervisor such a thing; it’s not like an employer/employee relationship, where they can fire you for saying the wrong thing in public.) The last email was from someone at Blogsome, requesting me to remove the comment about racism within twelve hours, or my blog would be deleted. They are a small hosting company, the email said, and they can’t afford to be sued for defamation. From this I assume Blogsome was threatened with legal action, as well.
I’ve removed the word ‘racist’ from the post and put ‘offensive’ in its place. Obviously I’d rather that my blog isn’t deleted. But I stand by my original response to what happened. I don’t know anyone present at the Transdestinations Law and Politics panel who wasn’t either fuming, or made really uncomfortable, by O’Keefe’s comments.
Of course, ‘racist’ is a hot button word. People tend to get uptight when you tell them that they’re being racist. Precisely because of that, it often loses its efficacy to communicate anything. Maybe this is one of those times. But then again, why is it defamatory to point out that a person’s actions are questionable in this way? Most people are raised in a culture that reproduces ideologies of racial differentiation. We treat people differently on the basis of their skin colour, or difference from ourselves, as a matter of course. I’ve behaved in a racist manner before; I’ve had racist ‘thoughts’, and so have you, probably. (I mean you specifically, and generally.)
I can say this without offering a specific example from my own life, because before a certain point when I became aware of it, racism was probably intrinsic to the structure of my known universe. I had to become aware of it, and then I had to re-order the way I ‘knew’ just about everything about the world. This is partially because I’m white, and I’d never experienced the violence of racialised thinking personally. But this is not because I’m Anglo. Race and racism work differently in particular contexts, but there is racism everywhere. It’s not a get out of jail free card to claim one is of mixed race. Particularly not in this situation, where we’re talking about a really different distinction: that between indigneous and non-indigenous people. Racism also depends on a hierarchy, and indigenous people are usually at the bottom being picked on by everyone else.
If someone commented that I was being racist, I might take it as an indication that I should interrogate my actions more carefully. I would try not to react as if it were an insult, a mark of shame that needs to be wiped away, or the cause to go to war.
Tracie has commented on the post itself, and I’ve responded to her concerns on the comment thread as well. I hope that I don’t get sued, but I’m not willing to simply back off on this point.
February 25, 2008
This is not a meme, I just like ordered lists.
- Car alarms that sound the horn, blaring, never fail to remind me of the final scene in Chinatown. There’s one happening right now, down the street. That movie opens my whole being onto an abyss. The only thing improving matters any is Dunaway’s last exchange with Nicholson. “He owns the police!” At least the abyss knows its shit.
- Last night I went to bed very early and set the alarm for early, too. Woke up feeling very rested; checked my phone for the time. 11.45am. I have no memory of turning off the alarm. It could be because I started drinking mid-afternoon. Are hangovers before sleep worse or better than in the morning? Years ago an acupuncturist gave me this great Chinese medicine that made hangovers bearable; she said it balanced out the damp heat. Aspirin and loads of water take care of a lot, but not the damp heat.
- I’ve spent the last few weeks labouring under the impression that I was supposed to include intersex surgeries in an encyclopedia entry I’m writing on sex reassignment surgery. Had kittens over the weekend: the best book on history of intersex surgery was missing from three libraries, and I don’t know enough to wing it. Also, I was thinking, what kind of cultural encyclopedia is this, that conflates two such different topics? Reread the editor’s email just then, and phew, there is a separate entry on intersex. Now feeling like a fewl.
- A propos of the previous item, here is the best ‘historical fact’ I learnt this week. Apparently Nero accidentally killed one of his favourite wives in a fit of pique. When he realised his mistake, he called for a male slave, who was told to impersonate the dead wife. The imperial surgeons were asked to transform the slave’s peen into a vagina. I’m aware that some of you are more classically knowledgeable than I am; does anyone know if this is ‘true’? Any accounts exist of the success of the operation? Where would I find references?
- I have a new hobby: taking much younger people seriously as possible friends and confidantes. It’s awesome. Not that I didn’t already have friends who are younger, but there’s something really wrong about hitting one’s 30s and watching oneself begin to divide the world: ‘contemporaries’ versus ‘those who are younger, therefore probably want to know me so I can help them.’ The line is arbitrary, of course.
- Last night I realised what is wrong with my haircut. It’s too long at the sides. This fact occurred to me while I was watching the end of So You Think You Can Dance. Yes, I’ve been converted. It’s awful.
- …which leads me to the final point: this year I promised myself I’d take more care of my body. Back to the gym, therefore. I also want to take a dance class. The idea of taking classes fills me with terror. But what’s fear meant for except to conquer?
February 12, 2008
Tomorrow, K-Rudd says sorry. The full text has been released today, in fact, so that all the op-ed columnists can get moist-eyed in the morning newspapers. People on Facebook are already changing their status updates en masse to “X…. is sorry.” The new session of parliament opened with a traditional welcome to country by Indigenous elders. All very encouraging, to be sure, as far as public rituals go. The apology is rather vague about the specific form Rudd government accountability might take. Compensation payments? A free medallion for every member of the Stolen Generations? Who knows.
And so I watch Jackie Huggins and Marcia Langton on the 7.30 Report and get a bit teary, you know, as both of them admit that they never thought this day would come. Then I click to the National Indigenous Times. I remember that today was also the occasion of a protest in Canberra about the NT intervention. 1000 people gathered at the Tent Embassy and marched to Parliament. Some of them demanded the following:
1. Focus on protecting children and families using evidence-based, culturally appropriate programs;
2. Restore the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA);
3. Restore the integrity of the NT Land Rights Act and protect Native Title rights;
4. Negotiate genuinely with Aboriginal communities and support existing community efforts;
5. Develop a comprehensive plan to address Indigenous disadvantage in the NT.
The protest was met, unintentionally, by a wall of artillery guarding over the proceedings inside. And intentionally with hundreds of coppers.
Apologise for something that happened in the past, and that the government cannot really be held accountable for? Sure thing. Dismantle a racialised war on remote Aboriginal communities and the opening up of land for mining leases? Nah. Speak to the gun, cuz the eyes are getting teary with sentimentality and the ear is listening to this great new welcome to country we got our indigenous staffers to write, pretty neat huh?
I wonder what Lisa Bellear would say if she were around.
Filed under: No Name - Az @ 9:37 am