Archive for March, 2015


I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately, both because of the upcoming presidential election, and because of some bad luck I had recently with property crime. Detroit Today had a segment yesterday about criminal justice; host Steven Henderson pointed out this might be one of those rare issues on which things actually get done, as liberals’ and conservatives’ views align.  It’s like seeing a unicorn.

The BIG ISSUE with criminal justice is the purpose and the results.  Or at least, that’s what I take from the endless debates about costs and treatments and outcomes and recidivism.  We need to know what we’re putting people away TO ACHIEVE, and if we’re actually achieving our goals.


High heels break my heart.  High heels are always beyond beautiful to me, and all the shoes I see and like tend to have ridiculously high heels.  Iron Fist is my favorite guilty pleasure; they may be a bit Ed Hardy-ish, but MAN are they cute.

I mean…come on.

I am terrible at wearing high heels.  It takes lots of practice; there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of articles out there about how to walk properly in heels.  When I was friends with burlesque dancers, we used to practice walking around our city in high heels, and generally we’d be dead after about two blocks.  I have a vision of wearing heels to my high school graduation and being in tears by the end of the ceremony because the straps had bloodied my feet.

Heels have some nasty side effects, too.  They fucking hurt to wear – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Many women wear


heels so often their Achilles tendon shortens, and it becomes painful to wear flat shoes or go barefoot.   They change your gait, make you walk more slowly and move toe-heel rather than heel-toe.  It’s damaging to your knees, to your back, to your feet.  If you’re not sitting down for at least 5-10 minutes every hour in heels, you run the risk of nerve damage in your feet;  after a night out drinking in heels, my friend was forced to have surgery; the night ended in damage to the balls of her feet and almost necessitated the removal of two toes.

Still, I find myself hesitating every time I go to clean out my shoe collection.  Part of a professional presentation as a woman often includes high heel shoes.  I kid myself into thinking I might wear them out to dinner, or to a wedding (I won’t).  They’re sometimes the only way to fancy up a boring outfit. Plus…they’re so pretty.

While reading Bad Feminist, one of the lines that’s stuck in my mind is about high heels and purses.   To paraphrase author Roxane Gay, they’re pretty, but they were invented to slow women down.  I agree with it, and I hate it.

The high heel shoe has a long and storied history.  It’s been a symbol of societally enforced sexiness for hundreds of years.  After all, an impractical shoe ensures women are physically slower and mentally preoccupied (either with how great they look, finding a great pair of shoes, or with how much pain they’re in).

look at those boys!

I can’t think of many punk or hardcore bands where heels are present (with the fabulous exception of the New York Dolls).  It’s tough to skank around if you can hardly walk; it’s tough to keep your balance when you’re already balancing.  Punk, in my mind, after the 1970s, was mostly about function over fashion, rejecting societal norms and making that rejection a fundamental part of your presentation.  Viv Albertine talks in her autobiography about wearing boots with dresses after she and a friend were chased and assaulted by a gang.  It’s tough to run for your life in heels.

This morning I had a moment of sadness that I was opting for flats, after walking to my car at a snail’s pace in my favorite fancy pair of heels.  But for me, I’m reminding myself today I can walk quickly and function well.  That’s my tradeoff.  And my heel collection, well…maybe that will be a tradeoff soon too.

But not one without regrets.

My sister is amazing.  We’re the only two children in our extended family, and have 8 years between us.  As she gets older and wiser, we’re getting closer and building up our adult relationship.

We are about as different as two siblings can be.  In school, I was an enormous nerd; I wore glasses, had wavy, frizzy hair, was chubby and awkward (not like Zooey Deschanel awkward, like Amy Schumer awkward).

fuck you.

I played in marching band, and was on backstage crew in theater.  NERD.  College gave me punk rock, and I haven’t looked back since.

My sister was nominated for homecoming princess, captain of her soccer team, with naturally straight hair.  She played basketball, volleyball and powderpuff football.  She made t-shirts with her friends and took selfies that looked professional.  She’s also smart as shit and is studying to be an engineer now.

So it took me by surprise when she texted me to let me know she wants to be a punk now.

with this picture. it’s great, isn’t it?

After I recovered from my laughing fit, I started thinking about how one becomes a punk.  If you’re past the age of 15, it becomes more difficult to get into the culture, into the scene.  I still wince thinking about my naiveté calling garbage pop punk and post-hardcore records “punk.”  Oops.

this guy definitely knows how to be cool.

It’s the little things, you know?  Like the time a punker told me I had “all the right bands” on my computer.  I was 18, this was a big deal.  Or the party where my idol put on And Out Come the Wolves and I could sing along with everyone else.  Or a bouncer seeing my Black Flag tattoo and saying something about it.  Poser moments?  Maybe.  But they were a part of my punk evolution.

The best advice I ever got was from a friend of mine who we nicknamed “Scary Eyebrows.”  They were incredible, they stuck straight out like Einstein’s hair.  Anyway, he told me punk was all about doing whatever the fuck you wanted and not caring if anyone liked it.  That’s still the philosophy I try to live by.

So, if you want to be a punk, start with your education.  Read all the books you can about the birth of the musicWatch documentaries.  Talk about them with your friends.  Get comfortable with the politics and divides.

Go to shows.  Like, all the shows you can.  Especially local shows.  Punks support each other and support the local scene.  Try to avoid major label bands if at all possible.  Buy merch and music directly from the bands – that’s how they make their money, not by the cut from iTunes sales.

Listen to punk.  Obvious, but important.  Get familiar with the nuances, the different genres and styles.  Peruse the classics and figure out what you like and don’t like.  Are you a fan of gang vocals and rage?  Maybe hardcore punk is your shit.  Do you enjoy skanking around and bouncing with friends?  Try out some third wave ska.  Are bagpipes and fiddles your cue to party?  Perhaps some Celtic or eastern European  punk bands would tickle your fancy.  Do you hate the establishment?  Start with crust punk and crack rock steady, then work your way into 1990s hardcore.

Keep up on the news.  Read and Profane Existence.  Skim through Maximum Rockandroll.  Keep informed about your town’s scene.  Read some zines and stuff created by your peers and compatriots.

Do the jobs that fit with your values, that honor DIY ethic, that contribute to the community.  Be nice to people.  Pick people up that fall down.

Drink PBR, or don’t.  Eat hamburgers, or be a vegan.  Dye your hair, or never fuck with showers.  Be yourself.

Most importantly, dress however the fuck you want.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go shopping at Hot Topic.  You can’t buy your way into punk.  Do It Yourself is the guiding principle here.  Tear up your own t-shirts, sew your own patches, stud your own vests, paint your own leathers.

I guess that’s where my advice ends.  Any additional advice is more than welcome in the comments!

I was fist pumping wildly while listening to NPR on my drive to work this morning; not a daily occurance.

This, basically.

Twitter has finally stepped up against the hateful misogyny to which it has turned a blind eye since it’s inception.  A press release was issued today.

Any picture or video of an “intimate nature” (this is sexts/naked pictures, for those without patience for euphemisms) that is posted without the consent of the person in the picture is now off-limits.  Here are the action steps:

  1. If you see a picture of you, you submit a complaint to Twitter.
  2. A team confirms it’s you in the picture (they say you “verify it’s you” not sure what that really means)
  3. Picture is blocked from public view
  4. The person who posted it has their account locked
    1. They now have the opportunity to prove you consented to have your naked form plastered around the internet
  5. If no proof of consent is found, the picture is removed permanently, the account is suspended permanently

I was also yelling YES! because this applies not only to boobies pictures, but also personal information (birth certificates, addresses, driver’s licenses etc) posted without your consent.

Is this a perfect solution?  Absolutely not.  But it’s important for a couple reasons.

First, I count this as a victory of feminist activism.  Revenge porn (when someone, usually an ex, posts private, intimate content without consent, generally to punish and shame) and doxxing (when personal information about someone who disagrees with you is posted online, and/or other really, really scary shit is done to intimidate and harass) has been the subject of countless essays, thought pieces, book chapters and online fights.  I’m SO GLAD it’s had an impact!  A company is actually having to change it’s policies.  It doesn’t matter (well, it does, but keep positive) that Twitter was dragging its feet and that this is an imperfect solution.  Now Reddit looks to be following suit.  This is a good step.

Second, it acknowledges these posts as real harassment that has a real effect on the (usually women) people who have their information posted.  On the radio, a domestic violence activist reminded listeners how compromising pictures/information can be used as a form of power and control, intimidation, and emotional abuse.  Maybe those in power positions will think twice before attacking on all fronts.  Maybe it will encourage a bit of self-control.  We can dream, yes?

Third, this is a step toward encouraging respect online.  It’s super easy (and psychologically inevitable) to be an asshole when you’re anonymous.  Now, maybe we can see a bit more accountability, some more understanding that these are actual people, actual women (and men) who have real lives and see real effects from online abuse.  Empathy, anyone?

Okay, no policy or rule or law will ever stop hateful behavior; only speech, time, understanding and empathy can do that.  But it’s a start.

Fist pump!

As a wise band once said, breaking up is hard to do.

When you’re young, breaking up is the end of the world.  Your chest is always tight, your eyes always on the verge of tearing up, and every song you hear is either a repudiation or an anthem of your personal pain.

It doesn’t matter what side of the breakup you’re on, either.  It really sucks to be dumpee, but it also really sucks to be the dumper (and how gross does that term sound?).  Constantly questioning your values and your value as a person is exhausting, producing the kind of existential angst only matched by 00s emo (I’m looking at you, Taking Back Sunday).

these fuckin’ guys right here.

Breaking up is also super important.  It puts everything into sharp relief – what’s really important to you in another person, what valuable contributions a partner brings to the relationship.  I read once most relationships are broken apart by sex, money and childrearing.  I believe this only because those are three of the biggest issues dealing with personal values we can face, and that couples must face.  I doubt it’s actually money or sex or kids that are the problem; it’s our beliefs about how things should be done, how the world functions, and our place dealing with these things, that create relationship turmoil.  Our schema, if you will.

Rougher still for me personally is the uselessness of my old standby for decision making, the pros/cons chart (here’s a great one, if you’re into that sort of thing).  You can list good and bad all day, but a relationship has weighted grades.  One con may outweigh 10 pros, or vice versa.  It makes things very complicated.  I’ve never met anyone who thought the person they loved was all good or all bad, and even when things get shitty (like, really shitty), it’s tough to discard the non-shitty parts.

More recent narratives and articles don’t help (Mr. Right Now, anyone?), although lately it seems more women (and men) in feminist spaces are extolling the virtues of the single life.  In a world still obsessed with finding The One, ticking biological clocks, and stories of the sad, lonely misfits brought low by lack of relational prowess and partners, ending a lackluster or unfulfilling relationship seems like selfishness, like betrayal.  Shouldn’t we be grateful anyone exists to love us at all?  Shouldn’t we just keep trying because nothing and no one will ever be 100% perfect?

(see this quote from the Wedding Planner)

Jerry Seinfeld, the greatest philosopher of our time, compared breaking up to pushing over a vending machine, because it takes a couple tries to get it done.

Here’s to picking candy out of the broken glass.