Category Archives: Things That Interest Me That Do Not Interest You

No, Wikipedia, Your Bad

In a not so searing rant to a friend, I wanted to discuss the (likely Clueless-derived) etymology of the phrase “my bad.” Turns out there is no entry for it on Wikipedia – one of the few I’ve come across. Anyone know if “my bad” predates Clueless? Anyone want to help write the entry?

Related, I am struck by how non-existing Wikipedia entries are like the new Googlewhack. The last query I can recall turning up empty handed was about the fictitious show “It’s A Wise Child” that featured the Glass family – though, happily, it looks like this has been rectified.


“I mean, the urge to depict and the longing to see depictions is very strong and very deep within us. It’s a five-thousand-year-old longing – you see it all the way back to the cave paintings, this need to render the real world. We don’t create the world. It’s God’s world, he made it. We depict it, we try to understand it. And a longing like that doesn’t just disappear in one generation. Art is about correspondences – making connections with the world and to each other. It’s about love in that sense – that is the origin of the erotic quality of art. We love to study images of the world, and especially images of people, our fellow creatures. And the problem with abstraction, finally, is that is goes too far inwards and the links become tenuous, or dissolve, and it becomes too hard to make those connections.” – David Hockney

[Been reading art books in between all of the academic stuff. Finding they help shift the way I’ve been looking. I’m finding the intended dialogue between Hockney and Robert Irwin one that will play out as I start making decisions about classroom space in the next few weeks. Likewise, I’m thinking about the connections that the classroom may have with the work of Sarah Sze.]

Adam Lambert: Change We Can Believe In

[Note: this post is about pop music, network television and American Idol. I kept it rather short, but you’ve been warned.]

I realize this will only further fuel my friend Daye’s vitriol about that fact that I’m a “cultural dumpster.” However, I can’t say I’ve ever been excited about watching American Idol until this season. Adam Lambert and the falsetto that will destroy the world is the most interesting thing happening on prime time network television by a mile.

I’d also add that I’ve lately become Ann Powers’ number one fan as a result of her insightful Idol commentary (plus the fact that she was basically assigned to attended three Prince concerts on the same night seals her as one of the last great things left at the LAT). In any case, if you’re not going to take my word for the GLAMbert craze, at least read about “Why Adam Couldn’t Go Disco on Disco Night.” A great piece of writing that also sent me to the equally tremendous non-Idol performance of “Crazy” by Lambert.

I realize that a lot is being written (and not a whole lot being said by Adam) about his sexuality, but I find that way more refreshing than the typecasting of LGBT cast members on Survivor, the Amazing Race, and the Real World. While I realize there is a real election taking place in Los Angeles today, I will indeed be casting (numerous) votes toward change in pop music I can fully endorse.

[Here’s another take on the Idol showdown.]

Lastly, I kinda suspect that if Lambert pulls off the win after the votes are counted tomorrow (defeating the tween-backed Kris and his John Mayer-isms) there will be a not-so-select group of people wanting to dance and hug and celebrate in the streets like real change has come again and the voice of the people has spoken for the second time in about six months. I say that only half tongue in cheek.

More Complicated Than You Think

And not even in the published shooting script [a bit of cursing to be warned about, for you more puritanical of readers]:

Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make. You can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for twenty years! And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce .

And they say there’s no fate, but there is: it’s what you create.

And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead, or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain wasting years for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right, but it never comes—or it seems to, but it doesn’t, really.

So you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along, something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel cherished, something to make you feel whole, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is, I feel so angry! And the truth is, I feel so fucking sad! And the truth is, I’ve felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long, I’ve been pretending I’m okay, just to get along. I don’t know why. Maybe because … no one wants to hear about my misery—because they have their own.

Well, fuck everybody.


Interactive Build-Up and the Academic Spirit

“But shapes on a painting are just shapes on a canvas unless they start acting on each other and really, in a sense, multiplying. A good painting has a gathering, interactive build-up. And the good artists all knew it, too. That’s what a good Vermeer has, or a raku cup, or a Stonehenge. And when they’ve got it, they just jump off the goddamn wall at you. They just, bam!” – Robert Irwin

“Blackberry, Blackberry, Blackberry”

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about, lately: Lately, I’ve been thinking about the way that research papers and dissertations and just general academic papers are written. I’m talking genre here.

I get that there is a set and recognized form to what is written. That the dissertation and – to some extent – it’s lesser variants, the thesis, the report, the critique, the essay, the explication, et al., have very explicit routes of explanation; the need for a lit review, a methodology, an introduction and conclusion, an argument, a hefty collection of data, an analysis, a findings. I recognize this route and have been writing along this route for much of my academic career. Frankly, I feel confident in my ability to move along the multi-laned highway of standard expository reports. It’s a process I’ve been expected to develop since my primary education, just like most other products of the American education system. And, I’m not going to kid myself that I’m some sort of rebel to the education mode of discourse. As a doctoral student and as an English teacher I am in a very literal sense interested in maintaining the processes that be within academia.

However, I also wonder about the idea of changes within the genre of academic writing. As students, we’re encouraged to explore and elbow out space for new areas of research. In education, this means (I think) aligning oneself within specific theoretical constellations and finding the areas for expertise within which one can develop a burgeoning catalog of recognized work. For example, being a Critical Freirean theorist interested in issues of game design and literacy within a secondary school context could be just the little planet for someone like me to plant a flag upon (not that giant of a leap, actually). That’s kind of what we’re supposed to do. However, what we’re not supposed to questions is how we do this. We (the academy) aren’t going to accept the kind of work that isn’t in the dissertation-derived mode of writing.

Dissertation comes from dissertātiō, meaning “discourse.” However, while there is a dialogue across different articles, books, and essays, I’m not seeing a dialogue within the actual discourse method. And while I continue to ramble about a dissertation like all of you actually care about the actual document – I see it as a symbolic representation of the kinds of academic text recognized as “legitimate.”

I look at postmodernism and the way literature both informed and responded to it. I’m genuinely thrilled by the way authors and literary works filter through the lens that postmodernism either provided or complicated (depending on what side of the bed you woke up). I like the fact that postmodern literature occasionally makes me scratch my head in confusion. I like that sometimes I don’t know how to read a page of text or that orientations in the writing shift and words and meanings collide. I like that the text is unbound and that there is a sense if possibility within a postmodern work. Each bound gem, like Saritas, its own Temporary Autonomous Zone. Similarly, I like the fact that digital literature is so much more than, like, text that is on a screen instead of on a printed page. I also like the fact that, like, this kind of experimental literature would find a, like, receptacle within which I could expel a Brobdingnagian gushing of “likes” in the way that lexicographers and grammarians bemoan.

I’m sure a bit of simple digging will yield the occasional journal or book that is written in a way that challenges the norm as far as discursive writing. The Magic of the State comes to mind as the anthropological antecedent to what I am thinking about. However, sporadic journals and publications existing on the fringe aren’t the kind of theoretical corpus I want to purely subscribe to. I’m looking for something more. I want to find the dialogue within the discourse. I realize that this desire is devoid of any kind of research into the topic, but, frankly, I’m not even sure where to start. The dissertation model is so inherent within the academy – like, all of it – that I don’t know what kinds of journals to look for discussions on this. Of course, such thoughts could pretty much be deracinated by some philosophical study or constellation of which I’m not aware of. Right now, I don’t even know where to, “like”, point the telescope.

The Revolution Does Take Out

This is Sarita’s. If you can’t tell from the blurry picture, it’s a Mexican eatery down the street from where I grew up in Spring Valley. There are dozens of hole-in-the-wall places to grab a burrito, carne asada fries, or whatever else suits your fancy in the neighborhood. I happen to be partial to Sarita’s. My friends and I would often go two doors down to La Posta during our high school years. There was also Salazar’s, Santana’s, and several others whose names I can’t remember.

Sarita’s is the kind of comfort food I crave on a regular basis. It’s a required destination when I visit family in San Diego. However, this is about more than repping any kind of nostalgia. This is about the possibilities a place like Sarita’s can represent.

Each trip to Sarita’s is a parley of the masses. Every kind of denizen of the Spring Valley suburb will be seen at the eatery. The high school enfants terribles, the blue collar and white collar workers (I plan to talk about these labels sooner or later and similar coding of students at my school), the day laborers, the families, the well-to-do in their oversized houses on Mount Helix, the working class families that don’t actually buy drinks at Sarita’s but save a handful of change by going to the liquor store across the street, the black community, the white community, the Latino community (though, unlike Los Angeles, Latino and Mexican are almost synonymous in Spring Valley – chalk it up to being ten minutes from the border), the Armenian community, and whoever else I’m forgetting in this cross-section of the neighborhood.

This is common ground for all classes and races. It is a miasma of ages and colors  clamoring for greasy meats and cheeses in differently fried and served permutations. Sure, not everyone’s walking out with the Shamu-sized Styrofoam container of horchata, but we’re all in this together, man.

During the two year period that I manned a popular LA newsstand Friday and Saturday nights, I was amazed at the fact that all walks of life came to the location. It was class-less unhallowed ground. I thought it was unique in this distinction. Like the newsstand, Sarita’s just might be a building place towards considering, plotting out our Temporary Autonomous Zone.

I apologize for mapping my pedagogy of liberation … I was just waiting for my carne asada tacos. To go.