An Inclusive Litany


An announcement from the Women's Center at the University of Virginia:
Friday, May 8

The Prague Experience: Gay Male Sex Tourism and the Neo-Colonial Invention of an Embodied Border

Based on ethnographic fieldwork among gay Austrian men, this paper explores "Western" chartings of post-transition "Eastern Europe." Bunzl is Aaron and Robin Fischer Professor of Jewish Culture and Society and Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and Studies in Women and Gender (formerly Women's Studies).

12:10 p.m., Minor Hall Room 225

In California, the Sacramento City Council voted to make Pepsi the official city soft drink. In exchange for about $2 million to be paid over the next decade by the local Pepsi bottlers, vending machines at city government facilities will only stock Pepsi products. A local Coca-Cola bottler complained about the arrangement, unsuccessfully. However, the company made a similar deal with the city of Huntington Beach, California. In return for $300,000 and an unspecified contribution to upgrade local parks, Coca-Cola received exclusive rights to sell its products on all city property and display its logo at public beaches.

After the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida, complied with a safety code inspector's order to remove several collections of automotive and construction debris from its grounds, artist-in-residence Marc Leviton, who created the "kinetic sculpture," sued the center under the federal Visual Artists' Rights Act for destroying his work. But since the law protects only the work of "recognized" artists, the center claims it does not cover the relatively unknown Leviton, and a jury is set to decide the validity of his artistic license.

[Ed.: Leviton received a settlement of $25,000, then moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he reported: "I am in the process of revamping my [artistic] ideas after a long healing period."]

"Some female Marines are complaining that they can't stand in formation at the six-month mark of their pregnancies because the Corps doesn't provide an ample maternity uniform," the Washington Times reports.


The Nation, April 5-12, 1999:
After a session [for Hollywood conservatives] featuring supply-side guru Arthur Laffer, Stanley K. Sheinbaum, a prominent L.A. liberal, chastised the attendees for flirting with Reaganism. "Sheinbaum pointed his finger and said, 'You are consorting with people who ran the Hollywood blacklist. I know who you are and I know where you work,' " [screenwriter Lionel] Chetwynd recalls. "It was chilling. No one came back."

The city of Santa Cruz is considering a ballot measure that would declare the city a "hate-free zone." David Silva, a spokesman for the campaign, told the San Jose Mercury News: "What I hope is that when people from out of town come here, that they just chill."

Bob Morris in the New Yorker, July 5, 1999:
On the night of the shower for Graciela Braslavsky, Andy Cohen was still working through some of the issues that gay men have when a woman they worship gets married.... Cohen, a thirty-year-old senior producer at CBS News, who was hosting the shower for gay men only in a friend's East Village duplex, ... was feeling other things, too: threatened, even by the bride's "incredibly tolerant" fiancé; concerned that the bride's downtown divadom would be dissolved by what he called her "unfathomable lunge into possible domestic bliss"; and alarmed that she had already moved to the Upper East Side. "This is such a mindblower on so many levels," Cohen said with a sigh. Although he was excited about the upcoming wedding in Vermont, Cohen doesn't normally like weddings. "They depress me," he said as his guests arrived. "I usually end up dancing with my mom." ...

The bride-to-be, an ebullient producer for VH1, arrived with a new Britt Ecklund hairdo.... The lights were dim, the drinks were stiff, the music was loud, and in the bathroom the toilet seat was up all night.... But in most respects it might have been any bridal shower. There were guests who love weddings and guests who hate them, guests in black and guests not in black.... The invitation had specified "no gifts bought above Eighteenth Street or having to do with kitchens or bathroom or china," but the admonishment hardly seemed necessary.....

The bride, who is registered at Bergdorf Goodman and Trash and Vaudeville, looked up and asked, "Hey, who's keeping a list for my thank-you notes?" Nobody, but by then it was too late to worry about anything, even two female gate crashers who had come in around midnight and were getting drinks at the bar. "Should I throw them out?" Cohen asked the guest of honor. "No, I'm open," Braslavsky told him....

Bob Morris, again, in the "Styles" section of the previous day's New York Times:
Marriage, of course—for Romeo and Juliet, Henry VIII and the Duke of Windsor to Dennis Rodman and Adam Sandler in "The Wedding Singer"—is a frequent source of trauma, and wedding anxiety is a nondiscriminatory phenomenon that crosses religious and sexual lines. But for gay men and women, the quintessential rite of homosexual life presents a unique set of anxieties....

"For gay people, weddings are always a reminder of being outsiders," said Charles Silverstein, an Upper West Side psychologist and the author of several books about homosexuality. "Even when people are welcoming, as they usually are these days, weddings can be extremely alienating experiences. They raise all sorts of ambivalence and take on a meaning far greater than any part ever should."

In modern society, in fact, from Oscar Wilde to Isaac Mizrahi, gay people have often developed senses of humor as defense mechanisms, making them particularly entertaining as hosts and guests. They are often called upon at weddings to serve as toastmasters, or to offer last-minute style tips about the bride's bouquet or the bridegroom's mother's shade of lipstick. "It always seems to be our job to loosen things up and provide a spark," said Ted Krukel, a press agent, who also believes that gay men buy the best presents.... "And of course, we're needed. I often find myself being asked to make a toast that will be a nice tonic to the tedium of the proceedings." ...

Ultimately, for all their resentment and paranoia (not always justified), many gay people know that weddings are a trial that everyone must bear, gay and straight....

California state Assemblywoman Nell Soto advanced a bill that would require gas stations to provide free air and water, even those that previously didn't provide such services even on a fee basis.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the state's Department of Children, Families, and Learning is forcing schools to drop the word "lady" from the nicknames of girls' sports teams.


The Internal Revenue Service ruled that money given to universities in exchange for a skybox at sports events is a charitable donation to a non-profit entity, and therefore deductible.


The New York Post, July 12, 1999:
Robin Hood preferred his "merrie men" to Maid Marian, a professor says.

Stephen Knight, who teaches English literature at Cardiff University, decided the possible mythical Robin Hood was gay after studying 14th-century ballads that are the earliest known accounts of his deeds.

From a joint resolution proposed in the Oregon Legislative Assembly in April by Republican State Senator John Lim:

WHEREAS the late Governor Tom McCall foresaw that overpopulation would decrease the quality of life in Oregon; and

WHEREAS overpopulation causes problems with infrastructure in this state; and

WHEREAS overpopulation harms the air, the water, and the other natural resources of this state; and

WHEREAS overpopulation has a negative economic effect on this state; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon that the Department of Transportation is directed to place a sign at each highway entrance to Oregon that states, "You are welcome to visit Oregon, but please don't stay."

Perhaps responding to decade-old criticism from a New York Times art critic that his work was too derivative, German neo-expressionist artist Anton Henning created his new Composition with Meatballs, Gherkins, Beetroot, Potatoes, Watermelon, Lemon Juice, Riesling, and Large Brownie, which features brown, egg-like shapes within an off-white border. On display at Frankfurt's Museum of Modern Art, the work was "painted" entirely with the artist's own excrement, then coated in resin to eliminate odor problems. The title refers to the meal he ate before beginning the work. It's been done.

Lance Morrow in Time magazine, July 12, 1999:
[W]e are in the middle of a primal American saga and the important part is yet to come. Bill Clinton may be merely the prequel, the President of lesser moment—except, so to speak, as the horse she rode in on.... I think I see a sort of Celtic mist forming around Hillary as a new archetype (somewhere between Eleanor and Evita, transcending both) at a moment when the civilization pivots, at last, decisively—perhaps for the first time since the advent of Christian patriarchy two millenniums ago—toward Woman.

Katie Couric of NBC's "Today" show questions Brandi Chastain of the World Cup-winning women's soccer team, July 12, 1999:
And we're back with a couple of members of the U.S. women's soccer team. You know I just had to ask you all this question because I'm sort of conflicted about it, and I know you all are too. Brandi and Julie. But I know Brandi, for example, you posed. It was a beautiful photograph. I mean you have an incredible body, may I say that on national television? [shot of Gear magazine's rather tame nude photo, from her side with vital parts hidden] But you know, I'm wondering about some of the mixed signals that little girls might be getting. I asked somebody earlier this morning. Sex sells. So in order to sell soccer, do you have to sell sex? But what about the whole concept of "booters with hooters" and not "soccer moms, soccer mommas!" And kind of making you all appealing on that level. Do you feel completely comfortable with that, or should you tell me to lighten up?
...and Ms. Couric questions team member Julie Foudy on the same show:
Is that how you feel, Julie? I know you were in Sports Illustrated in a bikini running with your husband, which is a completely innocent photo, but I'm sure some hard core feminists are gonna say, "Wait a second, what's going on here?"
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter displayed no such inhibitions when speaking on the next day's show:
Women's liberation in the early 1970s: The most visible sign of defiance against male oppression was burning your bra. Women's liberation in the late 1990s: The most visible sign of achievement is showing your bra, well, your sports bra anyway... Women's undergarments are still often about selling sex. That's Victoria's Secret. But for now on, thanks to Brandi Chastain's little gesture, they also represent strength, success and a new comfortable place for the women's movement, one of the great social movements of the 20th century.

After having difficulty finding local women willing to perform as exotic dancers, a Florida strip club owner petitioned the state to provide work visas for foreign women. But to fulfill the requirements of immigration law, the state first had to place ads for dancers in various newspapers to confirm that no Americans were available to fill the jobs.


A new title listed in Publisher's Weekly, May 3, 1999:
The Book of the Penis

Maggie Paley. Grove, $20 (272p) ISBN 0-8021-1648-5

With the claim that "the penis itself has come into fashion," the author embarks on a sprawling examination of the male organ in art, religion, American pop culture, ancient Greece, and, or course, the bedroom. An accomplished journalist, Paley ranges from a discussion of the art of Cynthia Plaster Caster, who molded the organs of famous rock musicians, to the Egyptian legend in which a god creates the world by swallowing his own semen and then spitting it out; and from the definition of a "Prince Albert" piercing ("through the urethra at the base of the glans on the underside") to the best masturbation Web sites.

A literal-minded Denver woman sued a Six Flags theme park, claiming she lost her memory as the result of a two-year-old injury sustained on the "Mind Eraser" roller coaster.

In Hollywood, plans are underway to make a film called The First Taboo, a biography of the brother/sister pair Allen and Patty Muth, who produced four children together and are currently incarcerated.

The city of Philadelphia is weighing the possibility it may file a lawsuit against the tobacco industry to recover the costs of fighting the approximately 25 percent of fires that are caused by cigarettes. Trial lawyers in several states are also exploring filing similar suits on behalf of burn victims. Several cities have likewise sued gun manufacturers, attempting to recover crime-fighting costs.

[Ed.: Governments, on the other hand, are immune to liability stemming from the actions of paroled felons.]


In California, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Microsoft because of an allegedly racist association made by a search engine. When someone performs a search for the word "monkey" in Microsoft Publisher 1998, a graphics database program, it yields several images of monkeys, along with a picture of a black couple sitting on what is labeled in the software as "monkey bars." The image also comes up when performing searches using key words such as "couples," "man," "woman," and "playground equipment."

From "The Buffy Files," by Tracie McMillan and Oscar Owens, in the Winter/Spring issue of The Activist, the magazine of the Young Democratic Socialists. McMillan, The Activist's editor, and Owen, co-chair of the YDS, argue that the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"—in which high school students meet during their lunch period to organize the defense of their town against vampires—could just as easily be about "a high school feminist or socialist club."

"Welcome to the Hellmouth"
Buffy moves to Sunnydale and accepts her duty fighting vampires who threaten the city. A master vampire trapped underground attempts to rise through the kills of other vampires.
Socialist Subtext:
Buffy faces her responsibility to be an activist and fight the secret elite who threaten the city. A capitalist restrained by regulation tries to rise through the use of subcontracting.

Vampires attempt to reassemble a demon whose body parts have been spread throughout the world. Once assembled, this demon will burn the humanity out of everyone on Earth.
Socialist Subtext:
The breakdown of trade barriers is exploited by economic bloodsuckers to assemble products in a way that dehumanizes people.

"Reptile Boy"
A rich white fraternity is actually a cult that sacrifices girls to a large snake-demon. After Buffy slays the reptile-demon, the frat's alumni start losing their privileges and the value of their stock portfolios plummets.
Socialist Subtext:
The "old boys' club" is based on the domination of women. Powerful old men owe their success to pathetic social networks.

Street kids are kidnapped into an underground dimension called Hell, where they are worked until old age and then spit out. Once Buffy stops resisting her duty to save people from evil, she fights off the slave drivers with a hammer and sickle.
Socialist Subtext:
Hell is a sweatshop; a sweatshop is Hell. It steals the young, strips them of their individuality, then spits them back out. It should be rebelled against and fought. Being an activist is a choice you make, but once you realize its importance, you can't ignore your responsibility to fight injustice.

"The Wish"
A goddess of scorned women grants a wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Suddenly, the world is a very different place, with the vampires triumphant, though a small band of rebels still tries to fight back. The ascendant vampires introduce "mass production," which they will use to put people into machines that will drain their blood.
Socialist Subtext:
Without activists, the world would be even s**ttier than it is. The idea that the world can't be any better serves as a manipulative tool for those who want to maintain the status quo. The triumph of free markets is seen as the only possibility, and in its ascendance, people are drained of life, working machines of mass production.