I do like to talk. Still, when I lived in New York, after I stopped dancing, I worked as an editorial assistant for Science Textbooks at W.W. Norton & Co. It was a very depressing time for me. I had moved to New York to dance, and with my relationship from college, and had ended up working in an office, alone. My bosses were great, but the isolation and reality of New York were difficult.
The job was entirely administrative. As a large independent press Norton had editors (my bosses) to do the editing, and dedicated copy editors to do the copy editing. My job was keeping all of the pieces moving in the right direction, which was not a trick for me. Part of my work – in keeping things flowing – was handling the photo calls. Authors might note in a manuscript that they want a picture of such and such at a particular place in the text, and I/we would send out a photo call for such and such, select options from what was received, scan the slides (this was ’99), and email them to the author for selection. Days doing this, in my little internal office with no window. I remember vividly when one of the slides was an image of the Snow Monkeys in Japan.
Here are images similar to the one I remember:
I have since learned that “macaques invent and pass on new behaviours. Scientists have observed macaques learning how to wash potatoes and make snowballs and these skills have spread throughout Japan.” They believe that this band of monkeys went into the water to recover floating soy beans, and realized that hot springs are just lovely.
I’d be an irresponsible blogger if I didn’t log on about the recent Sprite Step Competition which crowned a WHITE women’s fraternity from Arkansas (ZTA) champion. The Washington Post article by Neely Tuck does a nice job summing up the issue:
When the team finished — to wild applause — emcee Ryan Cameron, a local radio personality, rushed onstage: “Whoa! Wow!” Then he playfully admonished the sold-out crowd of 4,600 fans, nearly all of them black, not to be so surprised that the evening’s only white contestants were that good.
“Close your mouth! Close your mouth!” he said with a laugh. “Stepping is for everybody. If you can step, you can step.”
But later, when it was announced that the Zetas won, the feel-good vibe evaporated. Large sections of the crowd starting booing. Then Internet and radio-call-in warfare broke out when the videos were posted on YouTube. There were allegations of cultural theft and reverse racism, not to mention race-based taunting and name-calling.
Late last week, Sprite officials said they discovered the scoring discrepancy. This was odd because the show’s host, rapper Ludacris, assured the crowd that the judges’ scores had been “double-checked.”
Here for your enjoyment – and I don’t know if it should have won but it is cool – are the ladies of ZTA:
The responses on this have been really interesting in the blogosphere I track, including backlash against Sprite for double-championing, and “reverse-racism” (on ESPN no less…) In a social media conversation I wrote, “I know white people who do indian dance, and play jazz music, and I know black people who dance ballet. In judging performance – do the apparent cultural roots of the performers matter? I think our perception and judgment of performance is closely tied who the “our” is in this sentence. Who owns our art forms? All successful (read:compelling) art forms evolve over time, as do the people who practice them. In this performance the audience and judges made a decision which reflects their mores as judges, and as audience.” That was within a conversation that was beautifully heart-felt and open… As a white person it is not my culture being assimilated (again.) There are real issues of cultural appropriation in the not-so-distant past within the originating Step community.
It seems like most people are really owning their issues in discussing this. Sprite just wanted some publicity from a Step competition to market toward hip urban consumers, not a boycott on charges of racism.. Who says there should be an easy answer? By the by — the last post I wrote titled This Land is Your Land is about Israel, and the Palestinian conflict.
My girlfriend is currently teaching poetry and character to her 7th grade DCPS students. This is not simple to do, given the wide range of comprehension and reading skills in the classes. In addition to giving them clips from existing poetry, tomorrow’s lesson has several haiku that she created this evening… Part of the humor is imagining her students studying these haiku - which have a distinctly Alvey Singer/Woody Allen feel. (She’s hidden her authorship under the name Cyd Ernst.)
“On Love,” by Cyd Ernst
She says she loves me
But she just ordered take-out
And I cooked dinner
“On Food,” by Cyd Ernst
But it tastes so good
Made from sugar and butter
It’s bad for me how?
“On Dogs,” by Cyd Ernst
He chewed a pillow
This is about the tenth time
But still I feed him.