Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Song of the Day - "New York" by St. Vincent

This morning on Sirius XMU, Julia Cunningham described St. Vincent's "New York" as a beautiful song.

I agree.

The opening line is a good one: "New York isn't New York without you, love".

A song about a place that isn't as good without one person in it. A song about a lover, a friend, who makes a place what you need it to be.

A place where "you're the only motherfucker in the city who can stand me".

Do you have a person in your life who can deal with your shit and handle your weirdness? Or handle your strength? And maybe even forgive you once in a while? Millions of people in New York, billions of people in the world, but you're lucky if you can find just one.

It's a beautiful song about yearning. A special person in a special place fills the void.

Monday, July 17, 2017

What I Would Have Posted on Social Media Yesterday, Probably

I have no presence on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, the place where many of my friends and relatives reside, posting memes and pictures of daily activities. I take pictures almost every day but for the most part they sit on my phone, seen by no one. They are not liked, except by me. I don't have any high-minded reason for not being in those social media spaces. I used to be on Twitter and enjoyed it for a while. I think I'd join Instagram but who cares about the 24 ounce can of beer I drank at the Buffalo Bisons game yesterday? And that's probably what I would have posted. It was a hot one at the ballgame. I usually buy a $6 craft beer in the first inning, and then one more later in the game. Yesterday was one stop shopping, an $8.25 big can of Labatt Blue. I liked my big can of cold beer on a hot summer day. I probably would have shown it to my social world, and tried to add a clever caption. That's a good enough reason to be on social media, or not to be. Either you want to show people what you're up to, or you don't. You want to express something publicly, or not. That I write on this blog is evidence that I care to share in some way, or at least keep a public diary of sorts.

Tell me, why are you in the social media spaces you prefer, and how do you operate?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inspired by Springsteen's Storytelling Genius

For a long time, I've been writing sociological stories. I keep trying to merge my loves of creative writing and sociology. Stories and poetry are some of the vehicles I've used for conveying sociological ideas. I'm enamored by those who tell good stories. I'm also a classic rock fanatic. So it's no surprise that I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan. Put on "Born to Run" or "Rosalita" and I'll run through a brick wall. The early Springsteen is so amazing. You hear the hunger in his voice. He's had an tremendous career but I'm especially drawn to 1970s Bruce. This week I'm inspired by a lesser known Springsteen tune, "Meeting Across the River". Loan me some money, Eddie, stay cool Eddie, don't blow it, "word's been passed, this is our last chance". The piano, the horn, the story, all outstanding. Around the 2:05 mark, it feels like the song is fading out, but there's still a minute to go. He rhymes "hocked it" with "pocket". The caper will work out, he's determined to keep his word, he's going to throw money on the bed so Cherry knows he isn't a bullshitter. Enjoy...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Leftover Observations and Experiences

On Saturday, my 9-year-old went to a birthday party in our neighborhood. That left 6-year-old pissed that he couldn't go, so my wife and I took him to a carnival for fun. In a surprising act of kindness, a stranger insisted we not pay for a $20 wristband because he had a voucher for a kid's wristband. We were both hesitant because people are so often terrible and we both possess the minimum level of street smarts, but this guy seemed legit and turned out he was. We had a nice time and felt better about wasting $20 on games and fried dough we had saved on the wristband. My dad makes better fried dough in his kitchen than what you can find at any carnival or county fair, by the way.

The main detail in the above paragraph is that once in while you encounter a kind stranger. My wife tried to give him some money but he declined. I asserted that our built up karma had boomeranged to good effect, and suggested we pay it forward soon.

Saturday night we partied. I'm never the life of the party and I'd rather be at a public library than a party, and I'd rather read than party. But every once in a while I shed my boring self and join in the fun. My wife happens to be Director of Fun in our relationship so occasionally I step my game up so she doesn't dump me for someone taller and more fun. That's like 88% of the population so it wouldn't be a difficult task. Anyhow, we met a bunch a couples out and tore through downtown Buffalo as if we weren't in our late 30s and early 40s. Once in a while I could see a younger side-eyeing us for our conduct but I couldn't care less. One of the benefits of growing old is caring less.

Fast forward to today. My wife is at a training for work so it's just me and the boys. It rained hard this morning so I took them to Sky Zone which is a fun indoor trampoline place. I didn't see a single kid in the place get hurt or cry which is a welcome relief from the usual crying and injuries you see whenever you go outside and find yourself in proximity to children.

I'm always up for a trip to Sky Zone. I find myself very relaxed there and like to observe people. Observing public space for a sociologist is like water for normal human beings. Observations keep me running. I found myself looking at my phone a lot because you can only observe so much without losing attention and plus the phone has information and I'm an information junkie so I can't go very long without looking at my phone. Suddenly I realized that contrary to what Sherry Turkle says not everybody is on their phones all the time. People are totally capable of social interaction and all the kids and adults (except for me) seemed to me getting along in life just fine without their devices. Granted, we were only in Sky Zone for an hour and it's a small sample of people I observed, but I'm not kidding you I was the only one looking into a phone. And good for me, because information. And good for them, because they were content.

So there you have it faithful readers, my leftover observations and experiences. Publishers, get at me if you want me to assemble an accessible book for the public called Leftover Observations and Experiences that should be priced right at $4.99.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Song of the Day - "Road Head" by Japanese Breakfast

Here at Creative Sociology we like artists who push boundaries and breach norms. This song caught our attention during an early afternoon drive. It's a perfect 79 degree day, nothing but sun, traffic flowing on the highway, head in the clouds, eyes on the road, and, wait a second, is the opening line "You gave road head on a turnpike exit"? Yes it is.

For analysis, see Kevin Lozano's review in Pitchfork. Here's a glimpse: "On "Road Head," [Michelle] Zauner does a great job of sifting through mortal concerns—specifically desire, shitty romances, and hooking up in cars."

A subject that interests me--and one I've written about--is that we live in a social world in which people usually avoid references to sex. Maybe it's a taboo topic, or it could be a polite omission of information. Whatever the case, this song stands out for the way it acknowledges desire and sexual activity. Also, the video is....well, you can watch and describe it yourself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

U2, Hailee Steinfeld, and Desire

Pumped up for the U2 concert in suburban Buffalo in September, I've been listening to The Joshua Tree quite a bit lately. The album has held up so well over the decades. I'd also say it's a great summer album. 70 degrees with a slight wind, chilling in the backyard, daydreaming, listening to "Trip Through Your Wires." Ooh, here's a steamy lyric: "I was thirsty, and you wet my lips." Granted, what I consider steamy is like PG 13 to the youngsters and in fact many oldsters, but I'm here to keep it honest. Well, this tremendous song doesn't leave much open to interpretation, it is fundamentally about desire, as we can see here: "You, I'm waiting for you...You, you set my desire, I trip through your wires." Here's the track in all it's seductiveness if you need it:

In listening to the song today, the maybe-steamy lyrics brought to mind the popular hit "Starving" by Hailee Steinfeld. This song has been on heavy rotation on Sirius Hits 1 for a long time. I'm more of a Sirius XMU guy, but the fam prefers Hits 1, so we listen to the station a lot in the car. I've taken a liking to this "Starving" tune. Anyhow, the lyric "I didn't know that I was starving till I tasted you" is rather close in effect to U2's "I was thirsty, and you wet my lips," if you ask me. Hailee (I dig that second E in her name, I must say) takes the desire up a notch in her song, though, especially with the lyric "you do things to my body." This is desire plus, I guess we could say.

One of the highlights of my recent semester teaching a Sexualities class for the first time was playing this song to see what students thought of it. I can't exactly remember the context. I like to mix popular culture into my courses. Maybe I was comparing then and now songs, and played Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" video and then Steinfeld's "Starving" video. They were like, "Yeah, professor, that's super mild, like 3 on a scale of 1-10" or something like that. Getting old works for me but stay young, everybody!!!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Articles and Videos for Teaching Race and Ethnicity

Links are in the titles.

Old Questions But No New Answers in the Philando Castile Verdict - Jelani Cobb

The Fight for Decent Pay and Racial Justice - Jesse Jackson

Munira Ahmed on Being the Face of the Women's March: 'It's about inclusion' - Edward Helmore

The Deplorable Basket: Declaiming Who Is and Isn't Racist Is a Parlor Game We Don't Have Time For - Ezekiel Kweku

The five things no one will tell you about why colleges don’t hire more faculty of color - Marybeth Gasman

Black in Middle America - Roxane Gay

Insulting Colin Kaepernick Says More about Our Patriotism Than His - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Dear Fellow White People - Kevin Van Valkenburg

Why Is Colored Person Hurtful and Person of Color OK? A Theory of Racial Euphemisms. - John McWhorter

Racial Politics After Obama - Brandon M. Terry

The Fine Line Between Safe Space and Segregation - Emily Deruy

Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever? - Adia Harvey Wingfield

Tamir Rice and the Color of Fear - Brit Bennett

All Hollowed Out: The Lonely Poverty of America’s White Working Class - Victor Tan Chen

The Seduction of Safety, on Campus and Beyond - Roxane Gay

South Carolina Sheriff's Deputy on Leave after Dragging Student from Her Desk - The Guardian

Blame the Police (Sandra Bland's Arrest and Death are a National Scandal. The Police are Responsible.) - Jamelle Bouie

Dylann Roof And The Stubborn Myth Of The Colorblind Millennial - Gene Demby

Shooters of Color are Called ‘Terrorists’ and ‘Thugs.’ Why are White Shooters Called ‘Mentally Ill’? - Anthea Butler

Black Like Who? Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade - Tamara Winfrey Harris

A Few Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal - Andrew Lindner

McKinney Pool Party Incident Has Everything to Do with Race - Dorothy Brown

Watch Texas Cop Point Gun at Unarmed Black Teens, Push 14-Year-Old to the Ground - Daniel Politi

In These Times of Racial Strife, A White Professor Explores The Prevalence of ‘White Fragility’ - Nick Chiles

Chapel Hill Shooting Victims Were 'Radiant,' Teacher Says - NPR

At Yale, the Police Detained My Son - Charles Blow

Why We Still Have to Say #BlackLivesMatter - Jenifer Bratter

Ferguson Must Force Us to Face Anti-Blackness - Michael P. Jeffries

Telling My Son About Ferguson - Michelle Alexander

Mike Brown's Shooting and Jim Crow Lynchings Have Too Much in Common. It's Time For America to Own Up - Isabel Wilkerson

Ferguson: The Fire This Time - Bob Herbert

The Death of Michael Brown and the Search for Justice in Black America - Mychal Denzel Smith

Chronicle of a Riot Foretold - Jelani Cobb

The Anger in Ferguson - Jelani Cobb

No, Your Ancestors Didn't Come Here Legally - Ben Railton

Why We Have So Many Terms for 'People of Color' - Gene Demby

The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans - Jack Linshi

We Interviewed the Filmmaker Behind 'The Whiteness Project' - Jordan Sowunmi
(Click here for direct link to The Whiteness Project.)

Kamau Bell interviews Henry Louis Gates (13 minutes)

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva -- in a 10 minute interview on Book TV, Bonilla-Silva talks about this book Racism without Racists.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Mark Anthony Neal: a thirty minute conversation.

Why Integrating America’s Neighborhoods and Cities is Harder Than We Think - Jamelle Bouie

Why I Am Optimistic About the Future of Race Relations in America - Jamelle Bouie

"Talking White" (Black people's disdain for "proper English" and academic achievement is a myth) - Jamelle Bouie

What Michael Sam's Kiss Means For The Most Invisible: Black AND Gay - Marcus Anthony Hunter

Whose Deviance Do We Notice? - Gwen Sharp

The Collateral Consequences of Mass Deportation - Tanya Golash-Boza

Scientific Racism Rears Its Ugly Head Once Again - Tanya Golash-Boza

The Problems with White Allies and White Privilege - Tanya Golash-Boza

Symbols of Control - Avi Goldberg

#DeChiefing Is the Anti-Racist Protest That Pro Sports Badly Needs - Zak Cheney-Rice

Donald Sterling: Slumlord Billionaire - Dave Zirin

Donald Sterling's Willing Enablers - Dave Zirin

Video: Ta-Nehisi Coates Talks White Supremacy and Reparations (Interview with Bill Moyers)

My President Was Black - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Color-Blind Policy, Color-Conscious Morality - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Myth of Police Reform - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Other People's Pathologies - Ta-Nehisi Coates

In Defense of a Loaded Word - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The N-Word On The Fourth of July - Brittney Cooper

This three minute video can be shown to accompany the readings by Coates and Cooper.

The Politics of Being Friends with White People - Brittney Cooper

Who're You Going To Believe on Immigration? Mark Krikorian or Your Lying Eyes? - Ezra Klein

Fix The Census' Archaic Racial Categories - Kenneth Prewitt

Hopes Frustrated, Many Latinos Reject the Ballot Box Altogether - Jackie Calmes

Racism With No Racists: The President Trump Conundrum - Tressie McMillan Cottom

When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland - Tressie McMillan Cottom

Whistling Vivaldi Won't Save You - Tressie McMillan Cottom

The Logic of Stupid Poor People - Tressie McMillan Cottom

The Truth about Asian Americans' Success (It's Not What You Think) - Jennifer Lee

From Unassimilable to Exceptional - Jennifer Lee

The "Asian F": Perils of a Model Minority - Jennifer Lee

The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans - Jack Linshi

I Am Not a Model Minority - Bernadette Lim

Desegregation and the Public Schools - Michael Winerip

Will a 'Black' Name Brand My Son With Mug Shots Before He's Even Born? - Nikisia Drayton

Affirmative Inaction - various authors

Sonia Sotomayor Is a National Treasure - David Fontana

Alabama Counties: No Marriage Licenses for Undocumented Residents - Ashley Cleek

'Young Lakota': Reproductive Justice and Coming of Age on the Rez - Aura Bogado

In a Small Missouri Town, Immigrants Turn to Schools for Help - Abbie Fentress Swanson

Suey Park: Asian American Women are #NotYourAsianSidekick - Casey Capachi

Who's Afraid of Suey Park? - Julia Carrie Wong

Dear White People: Film Tackles Racial Stereotypes on Campus & Being a "Black Face in a White Space" - Video includes interview with film's director and one of the actors -- very interesting discussion.

Racism on College Campuses - Peter Kaufman

The Black Bruins (Spoken Word) - five minute video - a powerful speech by a UCLA student.

Why Whites Support Capital Punishment - Jamelle Bouie

America’s racial double standard: White celebs are excused, but black stars are “thugs” - Beanie Barnes

Stop Saying These Things To Asians (3 minute video)

Colorblind (3 minute video about the lack of Asian-Americans in media)