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
And sometimes you have nights like these: I got on my bike after the basketball game (I ❤ you, Kevin Durant) and headed down to the Marigny to meet S. and friends the check out The Stooges, a fantastic brass band with a standing Thursday night gig at the Hi-Ho Lounge. Continue reading
Summer school started today–sigh–and I’m teaching a night class, so I worked from home until the late afternoon when I hopped on my bike and headed to campus. Continue reading
S. and I have been talking about going to the second Friday at Jazz Fest since we saw Arcade Fire on the schedule. I don’t really know anything about music–I’m amenable, and if you say you like it I will listen to it and probably like it to. My sister sends me songs sometimes, and she sent me some Arcade Fire songs because she liked them, and of course I liked them too, and I keep them on my little ipod, along with other songs E. thinks I’d like by Metric and Snow Patrol and Cold War Kids (who are these bands, anyway?). Do I want to see them outside with S. on a perfect Friday in New Orleans? Oh, yes indeed. After picking up a ticket from I. and getting some grading done, I got on my bike and pedaled along in the sunshine, happy to have nothing in the rest of my day but festivaling. We locked our bikes up to a fence–Jazz Fest doesn’t provide anything like enough bike parking–and went inside. Crawfish enchiladas, seafood stuffed mushrooms, some rum punch, and a whole bunch of music later and we were waiting for Arcade Fire. They were great, with their playfulness and overwrought endings and stage banter that sounded like how I used to break the ice with my students as a very shy, very nervous teacher. S. and I split up, trading time to see Willie Nelson (“You Were Always on My Mind” is such a beautiful song) and Lupe Fiasco, and then I was back for the last couple songs, and they ended with that one that I like to pedal to when I’m taking the Wisner bike path–it fits my cadence perfectly. I have never listened to that song with anyone but me, and here we all were, dancing to it. What magic! And then it was over, but they brought a dulcimer on stage, which is a total give away that there’s going to be more–the dulcimer must be played. And then they were back, and Cyndi Lauper was with them, and they played “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” I literally started shaking and then burst into tears because I was just so happy. Then it was over, we were back to our bikes, and we headed to her place, got the dog, did a lap around the neighborhood, and settled in to sit on her stoop and split a beer having conversations, variations of which we have most certainly had before and will again. As I was leaving, she wished me nice bike ride home, said she was pretty sure I would enjoy it. I did. Oh, I will miss S. and I will miss festival days like this one when I move away.
Alright, alright, fine. It’s not summer anymore–all of the sudden New Orleans is back in the deep freeze. After a long morning waiting for the rain to stop, I left the house on the Surly to head down to the Treme to help J. pack for her move to NYC–a bittersweet task indeed. I was dressed all wrong. I mean, mesh tights let the air in, the thin layering t-shirt is alright, but only if you layer, and the rain jacket is good if it’s raining, but not so much when it’s going to drop below 45 degrees when it’s time to ride home. Biggest lesson learned, though? Wear gloves. Continue reading