Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I've been thinking a lot recently about the latest blog post from yes! this is Nick Robinson about traffic:

There is a real horror in being forced to use deadly, destructive machines to get to work and back. After all, almost 43,000 people died in 2003 in accidents ... without reason, except for the routinization and acceptance of terror on our commute to work and leisure.

and how our automobile culture is related to the social division of labor — he quotes Andre Gorz:

it never occurs to you that work, culture, communication, pleasure, satisfaction of needs, and personal life can and should be one and the same thing: a unified life, sustained by the social fabric of the community.

* * *

Last week I read "Abandon the Old in Tokyo" by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, a series of short comic stories. In the interview at the end of the book, Tatsumi describes the era he was writing in, and about:

Japan was destitute after World War II, but by the late-'60s, it entered its period of high-growth economics. Economic development was considered more important than the way people actually lived their lives.

In the title story, a man lives with his aging and infirm mother in an apartment building where everyone still does their laundry (including his mothers' frequently peed-upon bedclothes) in a shared washtub. Meanwhile, the man works as a garbage collector, one of his coworkers finding a washing machine that just needs a simple repair. "Doesn't matter how handy it is. People get rid of anything old."

* * *

For the first time this year, there are actually more poor people living in America's suburbs than there are living in its cities (in absolute numbers; the percentage of people in poverty in urban areas is still higher).

Friday, December 08, 2006


The other night, I took E to see the modern dance company Pilobolus. She is very much into dance (ballet especially, of course, but with a healthy appreciation for other forms of dance as well).

I enjoy dance, but I can't say that I have ever before been completely entranced by an entire dance performance. The program talked about how Pilobolus uses collective improvisation to create a new "vocabulary" for dance — different than the "vocabularies" of ballet, or modern dance, or hip-hop — and the results are in fact strikingly original. "Memento Mori" wasn't so much dancers dancing the parts of a marriage, but dancers who had so closely observed the physical vocabulary of a marriage — the grimaces, grins, preening and poking, exasperations and expectations that our bodies develop for each other during long companionship — and used them to create a piece of art that was very classically structured (unlike most marriages).

* * *

I've started a new job, and a new blog. The new blog is at MySpace, and it's just about food. What I've cooked and how to cook it. I've moved a post or two over there from here, posts that were, for the most part, just recipes. I also deleted a few posts from this blog which were just notes about news or such — I'm trying to keep this to be just, ahem, writerly things.

My new job is primarily writing. My official title (officially conferred upon me on Wednesday) is "Assistant to the Director of International Affairs," but basically I am a grant-writer. Clear narrative, careful attention to crafting our proposals within the shade of political language preferred by each grantmaker in turn, and most importantly: meeting deadlines. I like being clear, ferreting out shades of politics and I'm pretty good at making deadlines.

But I do have issues about writing as work. Flipping burgers is work, running machines in a factory is work, serving customers is work, teaching is work. And really, writing is work, too, but it has been so tied up in my mind with privilege that, before starting a writing job, I've always tried to write (both the blog and writing leaflets, etc. for the movement) in the corners of my time — during down time at work at my customer-service job (I'm fine with using the boss's time), or if I wake up early because of my occasional insomnia, or on the weekends when the laundry is all done and the house is fairly clean and H has taken the kids off somewhere.

* * *

I first read blogs about two and a half years ago, mostly mommy blogs, primarily the excellent though long-defunct days of the week, but also dooce and fussy and some others (until they all blogged about proudly crossing picket lines at a mommy-blogger-convention in SF — I haven't looked at them since). Now that the kids are older, more person-like at 6 and 8, I suppose I don't feel like I need even the minimal validation of reading blogs about other parents who are also driven crazy by the mysteries of small-child-behavior, who form the online bad, but not so bad, parents club.

I never felt much kinship with other "stay-at-home dads," probably because most of them were still men, and they either retained too much manliness and wanted to talk about sports, or were too into renouncing their manliness and wanted to talk about feelings. I liked the mommy-blogs because they spoke the vocabulary of the Small and Daily and Material, not the Big and Important.