Sunday, March 9, 2008


From the Archives. (September 2006) There’s nothing like sitting in the surgical oncology waiting room of a major medical center to remind yourself of just how inconsequential a little burgundy Civic puttering along in front of you in the left lane really is.

It’s 10:48 AM and my dear friend and mentor Louisville and her partner and I have been at the hospital since 7:55 AM. We're here for Louisville‘s biannual breast cancer follow-up exams.

Have spent the morning thinking about the importance of naming things—perhaps because I’ve been catching up with my former undergraduate advisor/English professor/mentor, who introduced me to Adrienne Rich's Diving into the Wreck.

Or maybe it’s because I just read that Safia Amajan, a women’s rights leader in Afghanistan, was gunned down in front of her house yesterday.

Or maybe it’s because it's so hard to ignore the fact that our discriminatory marriage laws look at one kind of couple and say you are legitimate, then look at another and insist that they see nothing.

Or maybe it's because this White House administration is so clearly manipulating the names of things.

Bush, for example, interrupted a reporter who began On both the eavesdropping program and the detainee issues ... to say We call it the terrorist surveillance program, Hutch, with his customary Richy Rich sneer.

To quote the ever-intelligent Molly Ivins
If we stop calling it eavesdropping plus torture with kangaroo trials, will it stop being eavesdropping, torture and kangaroo trials, and become “anti-terrorist activity”? Who gets to name things?

Maybe Sidney Blumenthal does, at least when he’s astute enough to refer to our petulant president as a Mayberry Machiavelli.

And let's all give a big hooray for those plane-spotters. Who knew that geek hobbyists fascinated with planes would corroborate the detainees’ stories?

Their amateur photographs and tracking skills were what first alerted journalists to the fact that the CIA was using commercial planes to transport prisoners to black houses, after all. And those commercials planes led journalists to identify the shell companies the CIA created to hide their apparent criminal activity. And the plane-spotters’ details, along with Google Earth, allowed journalists to identify the actual black house buildings where the detainees were held.

No wonder Big Brother want to put controls on the web.

And what has become of our democracy when our president follows the lead of Pinochet and gets himself and his goons retroactive amnesty for their crimes against humanity?

I am ashamed to be an American right now, ashamed to live in a land where people are too busy reading layering instructions for their fall wardrobes to register what we are condoning...

...yet I am complicit too.

For example, let me ask you a question: If women with big breasts work at Hooters, where do women with one leg work?

The answer? I-Hop, of course.

I learned that joke from watching a TV show called Two and a Half Men with Louisville and her partner last night because, after a long day of driving and worrying about whether or not her breast cancer has returned, we needed to veg.

And, before that, we watched Antique Roadshow.

That’s more TV than I’ve watched in the last several months (unless you count those L Word rentals), but my guests are TV watchers so, hey, when in my living room do as the paintings do, right?

LISTENING TO: Etta Baker, since she died at the age of 93 yesterday. Amazing that she didn't start performing until she was 60.

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