Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
to make life better, asbestos comes to mind.
As Hunter Oatman-Stanford suggests "while some fault campaigns were merely the victims of evolving scientific knowledge, many blatantly ignored facts in their race for the dollar, using so-called experts to promote products terrible for public health, like cigarettes. Revered professionals like doctors and scientists routinely told us precisely the wrong things to do, as they are likely still doing today." Not only are products constantly touted as the best thing since sliced bread, but our consumer culture wants to believe that everything can be solved by something new. We have an obsession with the new, and the next best thing, part of the fuel of capitalist/consumer culture.
While we look back and chuckle at the ads, imagine how our ads, culture and science will seem in 50 years.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
While it warmed up a little this weekend it has still been cold and grey. Yesterday Mr.T and I went out for a long walk down to Spadina and Front. We then walked along King Street picking up the underground PATH at King and John. It was a nice way to walk without being too cold. Lots of shoppers were out searching out Americanized Black Friday-type deals at all of the downtown stores. We walked then walked back home along College making a big circle.
For dinner we opted for some cheap take away from Flip, Toss and Thai. While the food is really nothing to write about, it is the perfect accompaniment to a cold winter night. On TVO I watched the documentary Farewell which looked at the experience of Lady Grace Hay who was the first woman to travel on the Graf Zeppelin as it made a round the world trip in 1929. I have always been fascinated by airships. There is something so beautiful and graceful about them, that harkens back to the heyday of transoceanic travel. For a brief time, like cruise ships plying the seas, airships were their lighter than air cousins offering a glamorous way to travel. This particular voyage began in New York crossing the Atlantic to touch down in Germany, then across Stalin's Soviet Russia to Japan. From there it made its way across the Pacific to Los Angeles, then across the United States returning to its starting point in New York.
The documentary featured amazing footage of the trip and was built around Hay's dispatches and her diary. This allowed the filmmaker to weave a narrative about the trip that focused on Hay. While a fascinating story the filmmaker focused on Hay's relationship with a married reporter who also traveled on the Zeppelin. Focusing on her romance and not the journey sadly gave the documentary a gendered feel without celebrating Hay's achievement.
Today is World AIDS Day. A day to remember, rally and publicize about those who came before, who are gone and those who continue to live with the disease. The disease continues to ravage populations and cultures across the globe. It still carries stigma for those who live with the disease. There are still surges among the poor and disenfranchised who have no access to protection or treatment. This needs to end. We need to encourage the dissemination of information and education.
Respect and Protect needs to spread like the virus from person to person changing the world as it grows. We need to remember all those affected by the disease, both with us and gone. The pain, anger and frustration that came with the disease is part of who we are and reminds us to reach out with love, compassion and most importantly hope that we can make a difference.
While it is important that there is recognition of the disease and how it ravages the world anger and frustration remain part of who I am. Anger about the politics of a disease that killed so many of my friends and lovers. Anger about a disease that culled an entire generation of young men and anger about people who stood by and said I'm sorry. Death and dying became normalized for a generation of gay men. It became part of our world. As AIDS activists write:
"I'm sick and tired of red ribbons and the Names Quilt. There's something 'nice' about a red ribbon for AIDS awareness. There's nothing 'nice' about AIDS. Leave it to some design queens to transform a plaque into a fashion statement. As for the Names Quilt, I don't want to end up a rectangular rag, however suitably decorated. The textile responses to the AIDS crisis leave me cold. I prefer to wear my ACT UP button that says 'ACT UP, FIGHT BACK, FIGHT AIDS' and have people on the subway cringe when they read the last word on it."
David Feinberg, Queer and Loathing: Rants and Raves of a Raging AIDS Clone (New York: Viking, 1994): 184.
"...I also understand why Steve, who'd sewn his share of panels over the years, would fly into a rage as the end approached: 'And don't put in that fucking quilt!' Being of a mind to have his body dumped instead on the White House lawn. The Quilt had begun to seem too passive, even too nice, letting the war criminals off the hook and providing the media with far too easy a wrapup. Much neater than trying to unravel the Gordian knot of AIDS activism, the Byzantine infighting and turf protection, the in-your-face bad manners of those who wouldn't go quietly. The quilted dead made for prettier sound bites, especially effective at zeroing in on the "innocent" victims, the kids and the hemophiliacs."
Paul Monette. Lat Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1994): 215