This weekend was the Star Spangled Celebration, Baltimore’s party in honor of the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore near the end of the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner that night (or inspired by that night), and even though it didn’t become the national anthem until 1931, you’d think the way we’ve been acting these days that the country was founded that very night by this very song. I’ve been super interested in how we remember this unmemorable war since I started biking out to Chalmette National Battlefield, where they act like the war was the birth of a happy multiracial country just because Creole folks fought alongside Jean Lafitte (not just a pirate–a slave trader, but they always leave that part out) at the Battle of Orleans. Then I got to Baltimore, where the Battle of Orleans is a footnote and the whole war is about this one battle and the flag and the song. Continue reading
I didn’t do a lot of riding this week, just back and forth a little bit to dinner and an errand or two–sometimes that’s what happens. Hey, there’s always next week. Tonight’s short ride took me to Mt. Vernon to meet A. and R. for dinner and then to see R.’s boyfriend play bass in his band Osprey’s first show at the Charm City Art Space. Continue reading
I wasn’t in the mood for much yesterday, if I’m being completely honest (so tired!), but I had plans to meet A. and V. down in Little Italy for the San Gabriel festival, so there I was on my bike, rolling down the hill. And yep, that instantly lifted my mood. I stopped for a quick lunch to avoid the fried everything at the street fest and then rode over to the Flag House to lock up and meet A. for a wander. Continue reading
The weather report said it might rain, and a glance at the sky assured me that it would, so of course I put on a skirt and a light jacket and headed out for a long bike ride to campus–oh, the curse of aspirational dressing! I was cold all day. Regardless, it just felt good to be on my bike after three days off due to what I’ve decided was a pollen-induced multi-day headache. I zoomed down the hill and then took my right through Bolton Hill and Marble Hill over toward Upton. Continue reading
I spent the morning with reading and writing, lunchtime with work, the afternoon with S., and the evening with myself. That’s when I took the bike, and we rode down to Mt. Vernon for dinner before settling into my seat for some music I don’t understand. It’s a surprisingly lovely day, made so much the better by the bike ride to and fro.
I’m a joiner, so when I started planning to move to Baltimore way back in February, I signed up for all kinds of things. And they keep coming up, like tonight, when, after the longest and busiest day in recent memory, I had to inhale a sandwich, hop on the bike, and pedal as hard as I could to be on time for tonight’s usher assignment at the Hippodrome: South Pacific! I picked up my nametag, clipped on my bowtie, and headed to the big usher meeting, where I was subtly reminded to tuck my shirt in–it’s part of the uniform. Continue reading
So back when I got this new job in Baltimore in January but wasn’t moving until August, I got itchy about my new town, and that lead to some joining of historical societies and purchasing of season subscriptions to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. And now I live in Baltimore, and tonight it turned out I had a ticket to the orchestra. I put on a dress and some heels, strapped on a purse with my slow moving vehicle belt, and zipped down the hill to Meyerhoff Hall. Continue reading
Today’s bike ride took me Uptown for brunch with N. and the visitation with my cats, currently ensconced with former students/cat ladies. The weather was a typical New Orleans summertime thing: gray skies, then sun and coconut clouds, and finally a return of that steel blue and a total downpour. But the rain didn’t start falling until after I made it back down to the Marigny to meet S. for a ride to the Record Raid at Siberia, another place that could seriously use some nike racks. I don’t own a record player, nor do I ever really wish I did, except on afternoons like this, watching people sift through the boxes for music they didn’t know they wanted. It took me about two minutes of shuffling to find a copy of Bruce’s Born in the USA. My sister and I used to listen to that album at our dad’s place, on near-constant repeat when no one else was home, that and a Los Lobos album. I remember the day we scratched it, by accident, of course–probably resetting the needle for the title track. I was so scared I was in big trouble, but more than that, I was scared the fun was over. Thing’s have turned out better than expected. Still love that record so much. I sat on a stool, had a drink (Crown Royal, something else that reminds a kid of her pops), watched other people shop, and listened to another monsoon. What a nice way to end the day.
Warning: this blog will expose some of my latent angry lesbian feminist tendencies. I spent most of my day inside, cursing the vicious rains that are keeping me off my bike. Damn you, Nature! But it is what it is, and I managed to get quite a bit of work done, so, meh, good for me. I was working on my Introduction to Gender and Women’s syllabus for the fall semester, so that’s where my head was at when I headed out for the Britney Spears/Nicki Minag Femme Fatale 2011 tour at New Orleans Arena. I have liked Brtiney since she was a little girl. I wrote my master’s exams to her second album on repeat. I showed clips of Crossroads in my first Intro to Women’s Studies course in 2002; it really does offer a rare representation of class politics, plus, when Brit sings “I Love Rock and Roll,” well, um, I just really like that part. Every semester I talk to students about this quandary, where women’s sexual power and pleasure is an essential feminst right and fight, but also the way that the narrowing of women’s power to the sexual realm is dangerous, especially for women who have long been imagined as always already hypersexual. So, I ask my students, is Britney (or Nicki or Beyonce or Lady Gaga) a feminist figure, or is she just playing up to old damaging tropes of women’s sexual availabilty? Thing is, it’s both and neither and all of that. Nothing is either revolutionary or not, subversive or not. It depends on who’s doing the looking, what the one being looked at is putting on display, where it’s happening. It depends on the rhetorical situation. Tonight, watching so many women hobbling in heels they couldn’t trust and wearing skirts they couldn’t sit in, it just didn’t seem like the kind of feminism I want us to be fighting for, even if Britney’s show is all about her “power” as a femme fatale. It seemed like feminism as just another consumer choice, and it reminded me of this sign outside a Domino’s I passed as I pushed my bike through the rush hour crowds, America’s legends reduced to pizza with ham and pineapple on top, politics reduced to what you buy or wear. And that’s not even to touch the weird Orientalism, the “sexy” prisoner/guard motif, how we all know nobody’s actually making music but we don’t say anything, the endless dance fighting, white versus black, good versus evil, and so on. But that’s just how I read it tonight–we’ll see what I think about it in the morning. What I am sure of is that the bike is the way to get to a giant show. from the grossly underused rack and whizzing by all those suckers sitting in their cars in traffic. Ride a bike, people!
I had every plan to finish that article today, so I spent the morning to early afternoon at home, tapping away at the computer, type, type, type, delete, delete, delete. I was trying to write the introductory paragraph to this article I’m working on, and every time I got to the road map part, I just got stuck. Continue reading