Archive for June, 2014

New Prison Reality

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

WELCOME_TO COMCAST_NBC_UNIVERSAL_PRISONHeart and humanity must now evolve into the new prison reality….

Just yesterday, a stranger told me he’d heard the words “prison rehabilitation” more times in the last two months than ever before in his life. My first reaction was that sentiments like his will only become more common as Americans adapt to new representations of incarceration and the incarcerated, and as the dialogue on prison reform becomes an increasingly pressing topic in Washington, at the state level, and in so many of our social and cultural realms.

At the same time, the implication that criminal offenders are (usually) people too causes friction as it rubs up against the manner in which we’ve been trained to recognize prison — narrowly, dismissively, and neglectfully.

I began this blog in 2010, when Where Excuses Go to Die was still a manuscript. I intended to blog about excuses made daily by celebrities, politicians, and whoever else was unlucky enough to publicly display poor coping skills. I’ve had a lot of fun with the sarcasm, not to mention with challenging people’s comfort zones and entitlements. (more…)

Defensive Architecture

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Anti-loitering architecture forces the homeless out into the shame

Dinner time for De-waged Americans_Where Excuses Go to DieKristin Hohenadel’s Slate.com piece on “managing” London’s homeless (“Are Anti-Homeless Sidewalk Spikes Immoral?”) points to a Change.org petition that insists we give a damn about vulnerable populations rather than ostracize them with defensive architecture. The “spikes” that sparked the outrage>petition>renewed UK debate>this blog entry were installed near the entrance of a luxury residential building in London on June 10, 2014.

The article’s example pictures of “anti-bum” devices, culled from artist Nils Norman’s international collection, show a callousness that is not, to me, the least bit surprising. For years, I’ve referred to nasty urban planning designs like these as “MAN-EATERS” since they frequently resemble shark teeth. Here in Los Angeles, in a world of caged trash bins and spatial confinement of the homeless, we have a disheartening array of them.

Pigeon Science on Human SubjectsWe’re not alone, though: across modern urban landscapes everywhere, commercial and residential developers are planning and designing “exclusionary” access ways and loading docks to discourage the poor from setting up shop in doorways and “gap sites,” those architectural nooks and crannies that most of us sinners have been grateful to find at one time or another – usually when drunk. But let’s face it: in every one of us lurks a little NIMBY contradiction, the sentiment otherwise known as, “not in my backyard.”

Partiers are grateful to find a place to pee, sure, but don’t want to work near or pass through one of these stink-holes on a daily basis. (By the way, if anyone is offended by the implication that you’d ever urinate in an alley or between two buildings, please discontinue reading now. I make no guarantee your head won’t explode when I start mocking those who feel a moral playing field has been leveled, now that anti-pigeon science is being used on humans.) (more…)

What I Saw in a Selfie

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

A friend’s daughter’s selfie stirs contempt for social distortion.

Notes from a Non-parent 9_Where Excuses Go to DieSomewhere around age 11, most kids stop thinking of themselves as children. In fact, with some, there might even be a first taste of contempt: an inaugural disdain for one’s own image in light of the year’s more celebrated models. That was my experience, and I’m guessing it might also be that way for Ray (short for Rayna), the 12 year-old daughter of my friend Ruby. One of Ray’s selfies, in which she’s wearing thick eyeliner and lipstick, took me by surprise this morning.

Now, I’m a non-parent by choice, so these remarks are made knowing that my own being caught off guard can’t compare to the urgency felt by Ruby and other moms. But the photo made me sad, nonetheless: sad for the marketing designed to strategically divide and conquer women that’s already being aimed at this kid, this baby held by me in a picture above my desk.

What I saw in this selfie took me by surprise, ‘cause I wasn’t prepared to equate Ray’s face with my anger for how dumb adults can be. (more…)

The Rationale of Racist Jokes

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

It’s not what you say privately that matters; it’s what you say…

Justin THE DUMB WORLD OF JUSTIN BIEBER__Where Excuses Go to DieBieber’s unsuccessful attempt to buy (and presumably squash) 2011 footage of himself using the N-word while telling a joke puts him right back in the Get Character or Become One hot seat.

The rationale of the racist joke always begins and ends with, “I’m not racist.” But there are other excuses widely used as well, like, “My grandfather was born during a time when…” To hell with your grandfather – now what? Every day is a day in which to get a clue.

Bieber and Paula Dean and Donald Sterling were born some 47 and 60 years apart, so to those who point to silliness like the “era” in which certain A-holes were born, I say, “Go sell that excuse someplace else.” Willful ignorance and insensitivity are learned behaviors, not vintage collectibles. Americans are just as aware that the narrow-minded walk among us as they were in 1963, but thankfully there are far more opportunities today to learn the difference between acceptance and tolerance, as well as bad character versus bad taste. (P.S. Only someone with a grapefruit for a brain would think it “bad taste” to get caught sharing racist thoughts or humor; when the perpetrator is old enough to know better, it’s no-less than treacherously immoral.) (more…)