Issue 35, Final Fringe

Tagged: stereotypes

Letters From the Land of Charlie Hustle

by Joe Robb, Joe Robb 12.29.2009

Hello. My name is Joe Robb and I live on the south bank of Cincinnati.

Pete Rose

I don’t know what you know about Cincinnati.

When I used to live in Boston, I met people from the East Coast or the West Coast who thought my hometown–the mighty metropolis on the coast of the Ohio–coasted through a flat sea of corn, and that it was a town, small and rural, full of twang. They were surprised by my accent, and to learn that my city was big, and ugly sometimes, but beautiful at other times, so seeped in odd history that when you step on the pavement of Cincinnati, stories leak up through the cracks in the asphalt and the smells of malted barley and pigflesh flood your nose.

Was that too much?

Cincinnati is the Queen City, The ‘Nati, The City of Seven Hills, The Beer Capitol of the World, and Porkopolis. Cincinnati is the birthplace of Roy Rogers, Bootsy Collins, Doris Day, Stephen Spielberg, Sarah Jessica Parker, and King Records, but not Jerry Springer, although he served on our city council from 1971 until 1974 when he resigned, admitting he had hired a prostitute with a personal check . . . that bounced. The... more »

more »

I like jazz AND I wear heels


By now, you’ve probably seen this commercial. In case you haven’t, it’s part of a new campaign to McDonald’s new foray into serving espresso. It’s called “Intellectuals.” (Their quotation marks, not mine.)

(I’m sorry this is huge, and topped with a logo. It’s the only place I could find the video)

Sure, this commercial is all about the commodification of a lifestyle. If you buy your coffee from Starbucks, you’re one type of person, and if you buy your coffee from McDonald’s then you’re another, presumably more real, kind of person. While that’s always frustrating, it’s nothing new; it’s the basis of almost every commercial out there.

But before we go further, let me confess: I am a devoted coffee shop girl. I don’t even like coffee, but drinking tea & reading a book in a coffee shop is pretty high on my list of favorite-ways-to-pass-the-afternoon. So my initial reaction to this commercial is defensive; that’s me they are making fun of.

But ego aside, this is a messed up commercial! From the other side of the fence, Starbucks is pretentious. So in criticizing Starbuck’s, McDonald’s is suggesting that everyone at Starbuck’s would rather be some place more real, more down to earth. Some place... more »

more »

Ah Spring, buds on trees and feminists getting hitched


A lot of kids here at Fringe are doing the nupital dance this season, and I thought of them when I read this wonderful article by Christie Church (it’s been making the rounds: originally at girlistic magazine, here on alternet, but I first saw it on my truthout feed).

How familiar a script, and how refreshing a story! (but when they visit the jeweler, ooh: I read that, became physically angry, and spent a pent-up commute really, really hoping they took their business elsewhere).

So friends, headed to the altar in church or backyard or city hall, do it your own way and be proud.

more »

Persepolis: A Review


This weekend, I made the journey to the Kendall Square Theater to see Persepolis.
Since Kendall is the only theater in Boston showing the movie right now, it was packed, forcing me to the second row, where I slumped as down low in my seat as I could and craned my neck to watch. Luckily, it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Persepolis, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, tells the story of Marjane Satrapi, a young Iranian woman. Based on the graphic novel written by Satrapi, the film details Marji’s coming of age as her country dissolves into revolution and war with Iraq. Marji’s story doesn’t need lush color or flashy animation–the film is almost entirely in black and white stark graphics, true to the graphic novel format. Though Marji is forced to wear a veil and cannot be seen consorting with men, drinking alcohol, or listening to music, she somehow manages to remain fiercely independent. The film is charged with humor (watch out for the Marji’s rousing rendition of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”) and grace, even while people are executed and the country is bombed. I don’t know much... more »

more »

Great cause, bad taste


There is a fantastic benefit the dames at LUPEC Boston have created this September: a number of area bars and restaurants are donating the proceeds from a specific woman-themed cocktail to Jane Doe, Inc, the MA Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. So naturally, when Julia, Janell, Joanna and I met up after work last night, we went to participating restaurant No. 9 Park, to splurge on a fancy cocktail and know the proceeds were going to help a great organization.

We had a lovely time. And then at the end of the night, someone from the restaurant approached Julia and me to ask how our drinks were. There was some awkward banter, and then he asked why we were there. Well, we like the idea of cocktails for this cause. Our literary magazine, Julia pointed out, is run by all women.

“Hopefully not battered women!” he quipped.

Ha ha, it’s a safe joke, guys! Because everyone knows battered women don’t drink cocktails at No. 9 Park! It’s not their scene. Battered women don’t go out in public. In fact, I don’t know a single woman who’s been physically or psychologically abused by a partner or parent, or witnessed the abuse of... more »

more »

Confessions of a Girly Girl


I didn’t own a pair of jeans until fifth grade. But I had dresses aplenty. Dresses, lacy socks, even dolls with matching outfits. Maybe because when shopping with my Virginia-born grandmother, harsh denim fabric never seemed to catch her stylistic eye. That, and when placed next to my frilly wardrobe, jeans just seemed vulgar.

All of my friends wore jeans all the time. I was the only skirt-clad girl at my fifth birthday party at McDonald’s. As if sliding down the staticky plastic slide into a pile of sun-baked mulch weren’t tragic enough.

I would complain to my mom that I wanted to dress like the other girls—wear t-shirts, jeans, socks without lace, shoes without bows-on-the-toes. I hated being the only girl at a slumber party in a frilly nightgown while everyone else was in t-shirts and boxers.

But when I got my wish in those hellish teenage years, and pulled on the brand-regulated pair of stonewashed jeans, it was like a part of me was hiding. I finally looked like everyone else, but I still felt estranged.

This was the dawning of my love affair with fashion. Instead of copying what my friends wore, I decided to wear what I liked and thought... more »

more »

International Feminism?


In this Advice Goddess blog, Amy Alkon discusses a piece by Christina Hoff Sommers from the Weekly Standard. The Sommers piece beats the old horse, stating that American feminists have blinders on when it comes to helping out women in foreign countries. As the article points out and Alkon foregrounds, it is tempting for American feminists to draw sweeping and inaccurate parallels between the oppression of women in America and the oppression of women in other countries. For example, Eve Ensler compares optional vaginoplasties to female genital mutilation.

My take on this is that yes, American feminists often do have blinders on when it comes to international feminism, but also that engaging in international feminism is more ideologically complicated than it seems for two reasons:

1. Many non-American cultures feel (justly) threatened by globalization. Feminism is often equated with western/white culture. Therefore, adopting feminism can be perceived as abandoning one’s own culture. Many women chose to cling to the old (and often misogynist) ways because it is more important to them to preserve their culture than to gain freedom.

2. Given the above situation, what is a western feminist to do? Let’s say I want to free a community of women from the burka.... more »

more »

The Veil Has Been Lifted


I’m not sure when it first hit me: the moment my professor announced that she agreed that Muslim women in the UK should have to remove their veils, or later, when she looked directly at me and told me that postmodernism doesn’t exist—that my American education had essentially mislead me down a path of ignorance. Wait, no—maybe it was Tony Blair’s speech on the need to assimilate if you want to live in Britain. Ah, who can keep count… Regardless, it’s been hard to ignore the fact that perceptions on race and nationalism here in the UK are not nearly as advanced as many would like to believe.

As an American living abroad, I expect to become the effigy at times of all things evil. Bush has managed in the last six years to not only reduce the value of our dollar, but to create a stereotype of Americans that is deeply disturbing. And, to be honest, the anti-Americanism I’ve experienced thus far living in Scotland has not been too bad. They’re subtle things, like the gentleman that heard me speaking to a friend the other day and pointed, courteously enough, saying: “You—back home.” What I don’t expect is to see it in academia.... more »

more »

The Genre Question


Click on the image to play:

Once you stop laughing, consider this for a moment. Has it become the definition of “cool” to do something different, to refuse to conform to a certain genre? On Fringe, we have a genre called (de)Classified that was created to be a space for experimental work with no set genre. Most often, this is poetry mixed with prose or art, but what else could make something (de)Classified? This is a call to arms. Write something that pushes the boundaries out to the stratosphere, and submit it.

We’re listening.

more »

Geek? Dweeb? Dork? Nerd?


I’m a Geek. Now, don’t go judging me. I remember feeling like a Geek in high school, and loving it. And I love it still. I have spent years perfecting my definitions of those judgey words the popular kids always threw around. Warning: If you’re not a self-proclaimed Geek, stop reading now. You might not like how I’ve described you:

Dweeb: This is the kid who thinks he’s in with the popular crowd, but little does he know, no one likes him, and when he’s gone, they make fun of him. They invite him to their parties, and he always goes, but no one really wants him there.

Likely professions: Assistant high school football coach, middle manager, shoe salesperson, PTA chairperson

Nerd: This kid is really smart. She is so smart that she locks herself in her room on a Saturday night to read ancient Greek philosophy. In Greek. She cares not a tick about how she looks, and strives for perfection in her studies. She can be socially awkward at times, but spends little time with other people that would point it out.

Likely professions: Computer programmer, mathematician, engineer

Dork: This is the socially awkward kid. He makes people feel uncomfortable because he never talks about... more »

more »