The Antidote

The Antidote: Healing America from the Poison of Hate Blame and Victimhood by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is right-on in terms of the issue the author tackles.

Yet on other more important issues the Republicans fall down if you ask me. I must confess that I don’t watch TV. At all. Except to check the weather before I go outside. One day I watched Hardball–was it on MSNBC–and I didn’t think the questions lobbed were hard. Not at all. My father watched FoxNews for two or three hours every day. He was deaf so turned the volume of the TV up as loud as a rock concert.

Now FoxNews is not my cup of tea yet CNN is marginally better if you ask me. I don’t think there’s a liberal bias to the news either. Getting your news at eleven o’clock before you go to bed is not the way to go either.

I read The Antidote in four hours in one day. The Reverend’s antidote is specific to how African American leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson promote yes hate blame and victimhood among their brothers and sisters. Al Sharpton is the only one who can take credit for his behavior–and his ugly suits and prevarications.

How anyone is easily swayed by any demagogue is beyond me yet I’ll concede for a moment that it’s possible a whole swath of people has been led down this path of crying victimhood. Let’s for now though forget this and tackle the real issue: the hate and violence in society.

The author of the book does state that trauma effects everyone. He critically assails the media for not caring about black-on-white violence that causes trauma.

Hate is ugly. Hate corrodes everyone living in society–black and white–and it harms the hater the most. In prior incarnations of my blog I alluded to how I was the victim of a racial attack in an Eddie Bauer store when I was in graduate school. It was hurtful; it was hateful–and I hadn’t gotten over it.

In this regard I say kudos to the Reverend for talking about the hate and violence in society.

Still I don’t think every African American buys hook line and sinker what questionable leaders are selling as to how to interact with other people.

The Antidote like other books I’ve read reduces itself to a screed against liberal and democratic political parties as the enablers of a welfare state. I find this hard to believe. His solution is to “read the Bible and attend church and don’t get an abortion.”

As a person who aligns as a Christian I confess I’m not keen to be told to read the Bible and go to church. This truth is stranger than fiction: I’m a Christian yet I don’t read the Bible and don’t attend church. I had attended a Catholic high school and went to church for a number of years as a young woman. I have memorized the only Bible verse that matters: Love Your Neighbor. I broke away from organized religion for good after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

The Reverend alludes to people living in Big Cities being liberals. If I had to align with a political party it would be the Green Party.

I admire the work the Reverend is doing–yes I admire it. Yet I don’t agree that thumping the Bible floats all boats.

Cheap-looking and ugly suits are the least of our concerns in America.

In the policies that I think count the most–climate change and stopping war and universal healthcare–we still have a way to go.

I will return in the next blog entry with my own antidote to The Antidote.


Between the World and Me

I read in two hours today the Ta-Nehisi Coates book Between the World and Me. He’s a brilliant writer and a beautiful person who foretells America’s demise because of how white institutions like the police and jails treat African Americans like subhumans.

In the book Coates laments climate change as I have done in my blogs for years now. He knows governments everywhere are hastening the end of our planet with their policies of destruction.

As a disc jockey on the FM radio in the 1980s I always thought the album titled Fear of a Black Planet should’ve been named instead Fear of a Black Penis. That’s exactly what I thought when I played those songs on the radio.

How African Americans are still treated is an ongoing tragedy in society. In 1999 I fled Staten Island–where Eric Garner was killed in a choke-hold recently–because I didn’t want to live there anymore.

A woman who also read the Coates books told me she was aware her skin color afforded her privilege others didn’t have.

I have a history of having had a breakdown–so I was aware early on through how I was treated that there wasn’t much the gatekeepers of my progress thought I could achieve. I have a history of being a creative oddball who lived her life Left of the Dial and continues to do so in a family of Republicans. I have a history of having been bullied when I was a kid–so I learned quickly early in life that not everyone was going to like me, accept me or care about me.

Yet even with this trio of factors that shut me out of the mainstream or threatened to do so I was always able to walk down any street without getting heckled, cat-called, raped or killed. It’s not for me to protest that I’ll be labeled a racist simply because I’m white. The harm that continues to be done to African Americans must be excoriated at every turn as the foolproof route to ending life on earth.

I can fully appreciate that one day maybe even Jesus–fed up with fake Christians intoning his name–will come back a second time not to save us but to whup our asses.

Season’s Readings

In three hours yesterday I read Linda Tirado’s book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America.

She talks of how after a series of unfortunate events she and her husband nosedived into living in poverty with two daughters.

Tirado’s original essay on the Internet went viral and she got a book deal to write about the soul-sucking despair she wound up in when she was forced to live hand to mouth.

Bootstrapping implies you lifted yourself up and out of a hard time by your own efforts.

That’s a false subtitle because as Tirado makes clear people who bust their asses working who live in poverty rarely see the pot of gold after a proverbial rainbow. Their efforts don’t equal a better outcome.

In the last chapter Tirado writes a letter titled Dear Rich People that is the perfect cap to her stand-up straight narrative.

Tirado tells it like it is: on the rocks with no dilution. There’s no sunny-side up cheer to her broken-down story yet she does have a sense of humor (and a beautiful smile on the author photo on the inside back flap.)

It’s not right the eternal judgment that goes on society. People judging other people has to stop.

Shaming women who have abortions because they can’t afford to raise a child (or who have a mental illness and can’t carry a baby to term for a number of reasons)–and then deriding them for needing government benefits or denying them benefits if they do have a kid–

this is a run-on sentence and you know where I’m heading with this.

Tirado rightly makes the case that every person living in America is one car accident one medical crisis or one other unfortunate fateful event away from becoming a victim of a cycle of poverty they can’t get out of.

Read this book. Better yet: buy a copy of this book. Give it as a gift. Support Linda Tirado. Support other authors who unlike James Patterson aren’t making hundreds of thousands of dollars just rolling out of bed by writing formula fiction.

Season’s Greetings to You. Thank you for reading my humble blog.

M Train

M Train is the literate reverie that Patti Smith has composed of her life.

I read pages here and there. I’m struck by how Smith has attained a level of income from doing her art that allows her travels and a life of leisure.

As a fitness buff, I’m no fan of her obsessive toast-eating for breakfast, which she details everywhere she goes.

Though I might be biased because I love Patti’s music and own her Land 2-CD retrospective. Yet I’m certain a casual reader will be jealous of Smith’s easy breezy life as retold in her latest M-emoir.

Where is the pain? Where is the hurt? Is it fair to review a book this way? I’ve hung on reading this book for two months now. I like it because I don’t do envy. So for me it’s something to aspire to: a look at how life could be when I retire.

I started reading this book on a train. I tell readers of this review: take it for what it is: an iconic artist’s paean to herself. For this we should be glad.

I say: readers: take up your pen, your camera, your paintbrush. Beauty lies in the act of creating beauty.

All our lives should be as thought-filled; as happy and peripatetic as the life limned in M Train.

We can all take a tip from Smith: a dose of the wonder of life will heal whatever ails us.


Brandwashed exposes the subliminal marketing tactics companies use to get us to become lifelong customers of their products.

It’s absolutely true that companies are marketing to babies in the womb who hear messages from the outside.

A woman who gains a ton of weight in pregnancy will have a kid that becomes overweight. A woman who eats certain foods when pregnant will have a kid that loves and eats the same food.

So too with product jingles that a baby hears in utero.

Marketing tactics include using preteen girls to stage sleepovers where they give products to other girls so the company can hook customers early.

I’m at the chapter in the book where the author talks about how companies use fear to sell products.

Now: I don’t watch TV at all. I was aghast when a Dove side-of-the-bus advertisement years ago asked “Do your armpits need a makeover?”

The author talks about how Dove instills fear of unsightly armpits in women with its Go Sleeveless product campaign.

I had no idea. I was looking for the Invisible Solid–even though invisible is false advertising because the Dove Invisible Solid left white stains all over my black shirt.

Never mind the stains. Clear gel deodorant also leaves a stain if you don’t wait five minutes before getting into your shirt.

That day I saw a Dove Go Sleeveless deodorant stick on the shelf. Mind you I saw no advertisement for it. I thought it must be the Invisible Solid renamed with a catchy name.

I bought it–not knowing until I read Brandwashed that Dove is allegedly instilling fear of unsightly armpits in American women everywhere.

Who knew? I didn’t.

The plot thickens: the author reveals that a lip balm company uses ingredients that are chemically addictive. I haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet. I wonder who does this.

I recommend that everyone reads Brandwashed.

My take on this is:

You want beautiful armpits? Shave–that’s all. Guys will forever be seduced by your tits not your armpits. As long as you don’t have hairy armpits it doesn’t matter how they look. That’s the truth. The average “pig in a suit” doesn’t care how fat a woman is or how her armpits look as long as he’s going to get laid. That kind of guy would hump a fire hydrant. And a guy who’s respectful of a woman and is looking beyond Saturday night won’t care about your armpits either.

So why should we care about our armpits? Dove has set the women’s movement back 200 years.

My only criteria is: when will a deodorant come along that DOESN’T leave white stains? I could totally be brandwashed by the claim:

NO white stains. EVER.

What Would Audrey Do?

The Pamela Keogh book What Would Audrey Do? is a nifty little guide to incorporating the elements of Audrey Hepburn’s style and life into our own.

It’s a short book that can be read in one or two days.I plan on installing it as an e-book. Audrey Hepburn was a bright light in the firmament of talent in the world.

Later in life she was an ambassador for UNICEF who traveled to Somalia to champion giving aid to that ravaged country. Hepburn was the first actress to do this kind of humanitarian work.

She survived living in Holland in WWII by eating tulip bulbs and making pesto with grass. Living in famine she got down to 90 pounds at one point.

What Would Audrey Do? is my new favorite reference book.

It’s said in the book that a lot of women describe themselves as “very Audrey” in homage to this style icon. I wouldn’t go so far. Why not be your own inimitable self not a copycat of another woman?

All women can be as remarkable as Audrey and as unforgettable. This involves sticking to the clothes that are in our style, wearing makeup that suits our coloring, and acting with grace towards others.

Audrey Hepburn was quoted elsewhere:

“You have two hands. One for helping yourself. One for helping others.”


Drew Barrymore is a class act. Her collection of stories about her life–Wildflower— is a touching, captivating look at a wild child turned Earth mother.

Instead of a typical street-drugs-and-demons kiss-and-tell memoir Barrymore has treated us to scenes in her life that convey her rebel spirit and DIY punk ethos that in the end were the traits that helped her recover and heal.

I related to the chapter where she flies off to Greece in a bohemian outfit with a backpack and mix tapes with her friend. Days later the vividness remains of her description of that outfit.

Barrymore is a little cool and warm at once in the good way of the word cool. She has two daughters: Olive and Frankie.

In more ways than one and in more ways than the average descent-into-hell and crawl-back-up story she gives us a real human first person account that most women can relate to.

There’s a wild child in all of us. There’s an Earth mother in all of us.

We can read Wildflower to see how Drew Barrymore did it: with style, sass, good humor.