October 13th, 2008

A new take on the immigration debate

Ok, maybe not that new, but, I’m quite happily gorged on tamales made by some folks who aren’t necessarily entirely documented, so…

I’m going to say that America is better place with taco trucks, run by Mexicans, intending to feed Mexican tastes. Whereas places like Chili’s and Azteca are a cancer on the American sense of taste (and barely qualify as food), it’s rather difficult to find a bad taco truck. And since Mexican food is clearly thousands of times better than any homegrown “American food”, America will be a better place to live with more people from Mexico here to feed us and teach us how to cook properly.

And true, it goes for most Latin American cultures. Papusas, arepas, ceviche, empandas, tamales…We’re better off with more, more, more influence from Latin America on our cuisine. And what is more important and vital to survival, community, and happiness than good food? I hereby call for an exemption for immigrants who can cook and save us from “American food” to better the country.

Ok, I admit, part of it is that I have only experienced “American meatloaf” and Kraft macaroni and cheese since meeting my husband, and I’m frankly nonplussed by what my mother called “white people food” when I was growing up (she’s Sicilian). Part of it is that what I’ve experienced of “American” food is bland and uninteresting and leaves most of any given animal as waste. Part of it is that a particular taco truck in NJ that makes transcendant sopes worth spending the money on the croos-country ticket home. But a lot of it is that, well, once you get some good cabeza or lengua tacos at a local taco truck, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would ever eat a KFC original recipe breast. Or, for that matter a really good mole pablano enchilada makes a corn dog seem like a sacrilege.

More Mexicans in the US equals better food for America.

P.S. Oh, and I’ve involved myself in a weirdand frustrating debate with some Microsofty who thinks that “Daddy’s Roommate” will undermine all the good in America. I’m feeling disillusioned. I thought Microsoft only hired people with “Intellectual Horsepower” not idiotic homophobia. Really, they hire people that stupid? That completely and unabashedly bigoted? I thought Microsoft had standards! So disheartening. Remind me that there are good people out here who care more about the basis of the constitution than trying to create a fundamentalist christian theocracy. Please. I’ll sleep better. And remind me that people who think that way are a minority, and won’t destroy what this country stands for.

And give me reason to believe that Sarah Palin isn’t trying to be this century’s George Wallace, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Oh and P.P.S–In addition to donating to Obama’s campaign, remember to contribute to the no on Prop 8 in California. And if you’re a California voter, god, if she exists, will likely smile on you for voting no.


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September 20th, 2006

Big boys and our toys

I have had a few interesting customer service interactions over the past week that have made me reflect on the kind of consumer I am. The short answer: a really good one.

First, I would offer what should be called the “gay male couple” corollary to the “the bigger the boy, the bigger the toy” rule. Pretty much all guys love gadgety stuff, from mobile phones to outdoor gear to expensive consumer electronics. Gay men (if I may generalize) are no different–but a gay male couple has to be every marketers dream because there is no wife to raise the issue of what’s commonly called WAF, or “wife acceptance factor.” Don’t get me wrong–I know lots of gadget-lovin’ gals, but women seem to retain their senses in the presence of silicon in a way that most men can’t. There was little negotiation involved when David and I decided it was time to buy a plasma. “A 42-inch screen, honey? Why not 50?” (As it turns out, 50 was too big for the room as we were both bummed to learn.)

I recently found myself in the Portland Apple store, lovingly contemplating a brand new 15″ MacBookPro when my traveling companion helpfully pointed out how much I’d save on sales tax if I bought one in Oregon. So–going out of my way to be a good partner and looking for a check on my technolust– I texted David a message so short and cryptic that I wasn’t even sure he’d know what I was talking about. He responded within seconds– “Sure– go for it!” I’m glad I asked, but it confirmed my diagnosis that we are gadget junkies. (It’s not a tough call as I’m embarrassed to admit that we have three TVs, three game consoles, two Nintendo DSs and five computers in the house. Clearly we need help.)

Sadly, all was not good in Mac-land… the MacBookPro had some mysterious issues that got worse over time, eventually leading David to declare it “crap” and make my impulse purchase seem foolish. So I dragged it off to the Seattle Apple Store and a Genius Bar appointment. After a 20 minute wait and maybe 30 minutes of tinkering, the geek-in-residence found and fixed a problem relating to file permissions. I decided to spring for another 512KMB of RAM ($100, which is cheap if you have any kind of historical perspective on memory prices) and went home with a machine as screamingly fast as all the ads promised. (Oh, and a laptop bag–another long story I’ll get to later this week). I’m now so happy with it that I don’t even mind the hiccup… it’s like getting a new Mac twice!

Which is a nice segue to a story about something else we are going to have to get for a second time. In a similar WAF-less fashion, pretty much as soon as we saw the Bose Sound Docks for the iPod that came out last year, we wanted one. It didn’t take long for us to get one, either– we just rushed out and plunked down the embarrasing sum. But it sounds amazing and we love it. Especially that tiny little remote.

But just as boys love toys, so do dogs. So imagine our chagrin when we came home last night to a panicked note from the new housekeeper, next to a little plastic tub full of thoroughly chewed up plastic and circuit board. She thought it was an iPod, which would have been… bad. Luckily it was just that lovable little Sound Dock remote. But we both expected a replacement to cost at least $50– it would have fit my preconception of Bose as good but damn expensive. David was irritated at the dogs, the housekeeper and (inexplicably) me. “If it’s more than 30 bucks, forget it!” So I popped open that super-speedy new laptop and Googled for a moment. Image my suprise when I landed here and learned that it was only $9.98 with free shipping!

I’m not sure what all that means, other than that we are hopelessly spoiled. But I suspect that realization lies smack in the middle of the carnival of . If you’re spoiled and you know it, isn’t it the same thing as being thankful? Here’s hoping.


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September 18th, 2006

The Man, politics, women and posing

All I wanted to do is write up some nice blog posts about man stuff, but dammit if politics didn’t interfere over the weekend. I stumbled across a catfight that got me thinking and the more I think about it the more it seems like part of the carnival of modern man.

So it’s like this. Bill Clinton (The All Singing All Dancing Carnival of Modern Man that he is) decided to invite some bloggers to Harlem for lunch to talk about how the netroots and the cheap suits can work together to save democracy, America and the world. Sounds reasonable. My friend mcjoan, Aravosis and a few others were more than happy to accept the invitation– as was Jessica at Feministing. If you follow that link, you’ll read about how things went south. Apparently, a conservative blogger decided that this picture proves something about not just Jessica’s character, but the character of anyone who would have lunch with Bill Clinton.

Granted, the blogger who first took issue with Jessica is a woman. But if you read the comments here, or Lindsay’s helpful recap here, you can get quite an insight into some of the stranger rides parked along the midway at the carnival. Not so pretty. (What is it about boobies that makes conservatives go publicly nuts?)

I’m wondering what the guys reading think of this? Do you think she’s dressed inappropriately, or posing in an obvious or ridiculous way? Does she look like Monica Lewinsky? And at a time when we are fighting and losing two wars–and spoiling for a third–could anything matter less?

I just don’t see it. But then again, brunettes and boobs are not my speciality. And that’s just the kind of I am.


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September 15th, 2006

Man cooks pig

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“Eclectician” at Off the Bone is doing the Carnival of Modern Man thing with a level of culinary dedication that is, well, manly. While good friends may recall a certain project that involved “ten pounds of salsa,” this guy cooked 15 pounds of pork for his wedding.

I’m making pork confit, then layering it with duck livers for terrine. Making confit takes 2 days if you’re rendering the fat yourself, the terrine takes another. And yes, doing this makes me feel manly.

It’s not merely the huge piles of meat and fat, nor even the sweetly animal smell that permeates my Brooklyn shoebox after rendering three gallons of lard. It’s that my fiancée thinks I’m crazy for doing this. It’s that I’m doing this at home, in a kitchen far too small for a project this size. It’s the sentiment of “damnit, I will feed the people who come to my wedding, with my own two hands.” But on some level, I’m doing it because I woke up one morning and said to myself, “I’m making terrines for the wedding,” and the thought made something in me growl contentedly. And it is, sad to say, at least partly the joy of being stupid that’s made this project so much fun.

Cooking seems to be one of those activities whose polarity seems to flip unpredictably between the masculine and the feminine. Perhaps it’s only when it’s a “mother feeding her family” scenario is it truly feminine, or perhaps it’s just sugar shock from the Era of Betty Crocker that makes me think that. Whatever gender we give it, I do know that there’s nothing more powerful than that primal maternal feeding instinct. Eclectician seems to hit on something I might label “Atlas Shrugged in the Kitchen”–the hypermasculine theater of culinary triumphalism that says “I must cook this pig today!” Or perhaps more aptly, “me fight pig me win.” I’m thrilled that this impulse has been translated, through the miracle of the democratization of haute cuisine, into “je dois faire les terrine pour le mariage.

Whatever the language, that’s butch. And as far as I’m concerned, hot. Mrs. Eclectrician is a lucky gal–if I’m allowed to make such comments at the Carnival.

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September 13th, 2006

The Carnival of Modern Man, My Dad, Walt Whitman and me

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All of you who have been chiding me about my recent lack of blogging will be happy to know I’ve been summoned from my slumber by the brand wizards and trend gurus at PSFK. They were looking for some guys to blog as part of their “Carnival of Modern Man” and, as a big fan of their blog, masculinity and, well, carnivals I guess, I said yes. Thus the logo. (Does this make me a carny of some sort?)

Anyway, I’ll be blogging on this topic frequently for the next couple of weeks and I really hope all of you–the nonfamous nonstrangers and our quiet lurkers alike!–will chime in. Feel free to give me tips on any man-related tidbits that you think would be good grist for the mill.

It’s an expansive topic, and one that I navigate with occasional perplexity. What’s a post-gay guy to do in a world where metrosexuals, ubersexuals, transsexuals, thugs, bears, bois, meatheads and Fake Cowboy Presidents fight over the scraps of meaning in our fallen republic? As Rufus Wainwright sings “Made me a man/ oh but who cares what that is?”

Actually, compared to a lot of gay guys I know, I don’t worry about it too much. I guess the main reason I can be completely comfortable in my skin as a man is my dad. Those of you who know him know that he’s a giant redwood of a man who has spent most of his life tearing down (and occasionally blowing up) buildings. For the past year, he has been in New Orleans helping dig the city out of its mucky neglect. In short, his butch bona fides are there for all to see and have never been questioned.

But he’s also an amazingly delicate man with a laugh that is prone to escalating into a high giggle, a propensity to cry at the movies and a steadfast commitment to doing his share (OK, more than his share) of the housework. He has never told a fart joke and no matter how filthy hours of work on a demolition site might make him, his nails are always fastidiously clean. I’m not sure which of my sisters started it, but we’ve called him a “sensitive new age redneck” for years–which I suppose means for him it’s no contradiction to listen to Rush Limbaugh and tell me how angry he gets when the GOP has another of its bad jags of gay-baiting. The “Big L” is an amazing guy and as different as our lives are, he’s an amazing father and role model for me. Here is my favorite recent picture of him, with me at David’s and my wedding in Vancouver:

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(That may well have been his pink cocktail by the way… he hardly ever drinks but when he does he kind of likes the girly drinks.)

And just for good measure, a shot of him and his Christmas present the previous year:

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The Quake being, of course, the gay rugby team David and I played on. Why not?

All that is to say that I always knew, on a deeply personal level, that real men aren’t troubled by our contradictions–we revel in them. Walt Whitman is, of course, the patron saint of this faith:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I conradict myself
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

But there’s very little Whitman left these days, which I guess is one reason Modern Man needs a carnival. Just don’t waste your money on the ring toss.

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