Are you looking for something coherent? It is not here. This is just me, in a suburban mall burger joint, having a coke between orientation at Grad-ma mater (where I co-teach a class in Not My Field) and a faculty meeting. I should be reading the book we’ve assigned our students as summer reading, and maybe I will in a few minutes. It’s good, and full of the kind of history I emphatically did not get in any of my schooling. Here, have a recommendation.
We always have the students read a little of this at the end of the semester. I love the idea of giving it to them at the beginning, as a little heads up that this isn’t going to be the history class they are expecting. Plus there is just the greatest description of direct action in here, an eat-in, involving the welfare mothers bringing their kids to eat at the casinos (where they worked, whose owners made sure the state’s welfare laws were, to say the least, more favorable to the casinos than to their underpaid workers). Lemme see if I can find it….
I’m feeling too lazy to type it, so here’s a picture of my favorite part:
“Be sure not to jump on the craps tables!” That’s my favorite part. Can you even imagine being so brave, when the restaurant where you — and your children — have just eaten and tried to pay has called police in riot gear to arrest you?
I love this book. It’s the kind of thing I wish Malcolm Gladwell would read before writing half-baked tripe like his New Yorker Katrina piece. I’m tempted to assign that one to my undergrads just so I can hold forth for a good stretch on all the things wrong with it, starting with an apparent vacuum where his knowledge of history should be and a remarkable refusal to address, anywhere in the piece, black people’s right to agency. HARUMPH. You don’t want to get me started on the glossing over of everything problematic about firing the entire school system and replacing it with private charters, nor the casual conflation of black New Orleanians with drug dealers, white gentrifiers with “improved” neighborhoods.
Speaking of gentrification, dig this sign for an apartment broker in my neighborhood. Yeah, that’s a tepee.
I just don’t understand how that waste of space got published in the same issue as Jelani Cobb’s careful and convincing Comment piece on echoes of the 1927 flood in Katrina, how social structures transform natural events into disasters. Let alone Sarah Broom’s “The Yellow House,” about why her family still hasn’t been able to rebuild her mother’s house. Hint: it’s not because they are better off not doing so.
I am happy to report that This American Life’s Katrina episode is a whole lot better. I wish it suited my course (freshman comp, but with a focus this semester on how cities are made) better. I might give them the part about predatory loans designed to strip residents of the Lower Ninth of their property, though.
Doctor’s appointment yesterday was fine. I love that doctor, as I have said before. I don’t know how she always seems to have so much time to talk to me, but I’m glad. As several of you suggested, she thought it worthwhile to run a thyroid panel and, I think I saw over her shoulder, liver. I’m having a measles titre, too, because Park Slope. All my vitals were normal. She said she could order an EKG and give me a halter monitor to wear, but that if this is all panic, more information is often not reassuring. The old me would have found it reassuring, but this alien in my brain is a real asshole, it’s true. There’s a Vonnegut (?) line to the effect that even if our brains were incredibly simple, we would still be too stupid to understand them. The corollary here, it seems to me, is that even a very stupid brain is smart enough to scare the shit out of its person.
Meanwhile, I have more xanax and instructions to discuss SSRIs with the therapist and call back. I have not been impressed with what I have read about their use for anxiety, it’s true, but it is also true that this is no way to live. So I don’t know.
In lieu of a satisfying conclusion to this post, have a picture of be-toweled, tool-wielding Jackalope.