Thursday, May 31, 2018

Raising the Barr



As a Contrarian by nature I do look at things often in the opposite of the mainstream but I am also a Libra so that may be something to do with it.

The last weekend I spent at what ostensibly is another example of White Privilege although I saw a handful of Black elderly women and a couple of black men, one Chinese man and a few young white people at the Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference. The bulk of the attendees, of which there were 200, were white people well over age 45 and largely women.   This is the biggest prospective writers be they former or current who are interested in publishing a memoir or some type of personal based essay or novel.  This is the large cohort funding the absurd MFA programs across the country.  And for quite some time are money makers for Universities and Colleges but serve few.

 The Conference was in Pittsburgh which was the second choice of my relocation plans as they have the same emphasis on medical industrial services as does Nashville.  I wish now I had chosen to move to Pittsburgh as frankly it is a far more superior gentrifying City.  Many residents are expressing frustration as with it comes rising costs and displacement but the city has a strong infrastructure that enables many to walk, ride, or just simply commute to work despite some complaints about transit and traffic.  They need to come to Nashville to see how bad that really is before commenting.  I also thought that Pittsburgh was a way more integrated and had more faces of color wandering about throughout the city during the long weekend I was there.  And I never heard the expression "The Pennsylvania Way" or the "Nashville Way" ever from the residents with whom I spoke and actually laughed when I asked them if that was an expression ever used in casual interactions.  They are a sports town, however, as the Stanley Cup and Super Bowl can attest and they can wax on about teams all day. Working class down to its roots they seem to embrace that ouvere in the same way Nashville believes it is the Paris of the South.  No that is just on the border of Tennessee, seriously there is a Paris Tennessee.

 I spoke with few participants as I am horrible at networking and I was also fighting my "black lung" disease, which living in Nashville is a common ailment given the bowl like nature of the geography; Asthma is a real issue here and again the countdown to leaving cannot come soon enough.  So being ill I simply just wanted as minimal conversation as possible as it was exhausting.  But I had as much success talking to the participants as I do here in Nashville and found them as one would find writers, self involved, utterly unaware of a larger picture and frankly boring as writing about one's self does do.  You can only talk about yourself so long and so much.  And in turn I found the conference lacking in actual real advice in self publishing, finding representation, promotion, marketing, working with Editors and legal and financial considerations when you elect to write and that generates conversation but nope they had writing prompts on tables to generate exchanges.   That bombed day one and I skipped the next morning breakfast to have room service.   I hope that next year that they enable one to have a day pass and sign up for the workshops you find beneficial as there were only two and I may have found another that might have been useful but it was at a conflicted time in which the one I chose was less so.  Again, information and disclosure is part of writing and funny how little was explained as to the content and subject of the talk.  Writing is a skill and funny how in some forms and types of writing not everyone excels.   My favorite statement was: There are more writers than readers.  Really?  Every writer should read so it should mathematically equal itself out and therefore telling a writer that you may never be read is not true.  One person will read at least one other persons writing and that could be a friend, a family member, a reader, a fellow writer and you should be happy that at least one did.  But to then follow it up with upbeat statements that Writers change the world then you better be one who is read.  Been to a Library?  I go every week and even I can't read all the books there let alone the ones that line my own personal collection.   I am an avid reader and hence I buy many books as I know I cannot get to them in a library time frame so I buy it so it can remind me daily that I need to read, more and often.  What most of these conferences do is not teach necessary skills but sell shit to those who fail to have them.   I am beginning to believe that those who do, do, those who can't teach.   Frankly just do it and I was impressed that one woman and her friend were electing to publish their own literary journal and were exhausted from the negative feedback which they felt was akin to ageism so there you go.  Little was truly addressed to this graying crowd about the reality of this and options in which to find ways to still be read by that one person.

So my goal was to write, to stop excusing and distracting myself from this order I need to fill my sole and raise the bar to be better.

Then to return home I found the usual Tennessee shit which I wrote about in the Daily Dump.  So I instead buckled down to catch up on the bad TV and get my health back on track after the past year of neglecting it with more excuses centered around my dental health.  I have since had my zirconium bridge placed before leaving for Pittsburgh so it was a joy to eat like a normal person and sit in a restaurant have a meal and not feel like shit.  Who knew it was possible?

Speaking of normal I see Roseanne Barr went off the deep end and tweeted utterly inappropriate and yes racist remarks about Valerie Jarret.  If anyone followed her over Twitter over the years you would know she is unstable emotionally, functionally illiterate and clearly exhibiting mental illness.  I had to quit following her in the same way one does with Trump as nothing good comes from it and to make yourself angry is one thing to laugh at another and frankly there are better things to do with my time.  I need to raise the bar when it comes to filling my time.

When I read Jimmy Kimmel's response to the Barr meltdown I respected his opinion.   And yes he reminds me a lot of Howard Stern, who Kimmel has openly admired and modeled himself after, as one who is utterly a hypocrite who has tried to evolve.   Stern back in the day I found hillarious and he used to eviscerate people daily, hourly on his show.  A show Trump used to do the same and yet Stern over the years has tried to grow and change but frankly the man is 60 plus years old that is what you do so it is not something in which to be proud but accept and move forward.  Stern has made apologies and is trying to reconcile and justify his rage and I respect it but I am no longer a member of the Stern nation and have long dumped Sirius as my radio is all Sonos and I get BBC America and that is all I need to get me through the day.  Anger? I just watch the Real Housewives of New York or well any of the franchises as those bitches hate each other.

Bill Maher who also has had is issues when he was on Politically Incorrect on ABC it was immediately cancelled and his HBO show has also come under fire for his use of the word "Nigger" in reference to himself as the type of slave he would be if said came to be today.  It was a bad joke but a joke as he did not refer to or call anyone a name even in inference.  Barr did not do this and it was not a joke unless you are a Trumptard then it's hilarious.  Maher apologized and at times I think his Islamaphobia is off putting but I choose to shut the show off at that point as I frankly find it appalling, that is the good thing about TV you can do that.  The same thing with Roseanne Barr as her reboot brought all kinds of  hysterics, but people watched.  If the angry raging machine had not watched the ratings I suspect would be lower and in turn this issue of her cancellation would be much different.  The show sucked, it was not funny and oddly out of touch.  Not surprising as Roseanne is a wealthy woman and for years lived on a Macadamia plantation which at one point she tried to have a reality show about that which failed.  No one wants to see the real Roseanne as she is nuts.  This is not something to watch unless paid to do so and are a medical professional.    And Maher too recently commented about Roseanne and thought this version was not the woman who he knew and loved so and there are many more that frankly have known her for years, throughout her earlier struggles with multiple marriages and problems during the first run, all which are indicative that perhaps it was less about here being a "strong woman" and more a disturbed one.   But as long as money comes in all the slights, bizarre antics and the rest are ignored.

Which brings me to to the last bullshit #MeToo story that I heard about Morgan Freeman.  Mr. Freeman is 80 years old.  He had health problems and it is clear from anyone who watched the Oscars where he spoke with some challenge and was clearly suffering the pangs of age he is no threat to anyone.  So when I read about a CNN reporter alleging he sexually harassed her I thought WTF?  Let me see you are not employed by him, he has no authority over your work or can affect your employment how is that harassing.  You mean you cannot get up walk out and call CNN and say send someone else that this old man is saying shit that makes you uncomfortable?  You cannot correct him in a dignified manner and ask him to stop with the inappropriate remarks and in turn remind him that you are the press and this kind of language is on the record?  Grow up and handle your shit. Raise the bar and step over it and own it.

 We are never going to handle any of this until we learn how to speak to each other face to face, fear offending someone, taking offense and working to resolve it.  I have tried too many times to talk to women of late and they are utterly off the chain with offense.  I suggested to a woman at the conference who teaches in a ESL school that since her programs are now cancelled and she is moving to a new job she feels for her students and is worried about them.  I suggested she write a flash fiction story about her school and her students telling their stories in their voices to let people know about what is happening in our society with our fear over Immigrants.  She said she could not do that as she is not of their race or country and cannot tell their story.  My response was, "Who will then?"  That ended the dialogue.  Unless you are overwhelmingly positive, glowing and constantly repeating the script you will be as isolated as I am living here.  But I know it is everywhere as we are fucking afraid.  Of what well that depends on you.  Grow up and live but live unafraid.   Raise the bar. 

Quit talking about her. Go out and find a park to walk in and pick up litter to make your world cleaner.  Go to your Library and find that book you have meant to read and read it.  Say hello to someone you pass on the street and buy a coffee for the person behind you in Starbucks, that will end the bullshit about bias. We all have it get over it. Raise the bar.


Jimmy Kimmel: ‘The Roseanne I know could probably use some compassion’
by Samantha Schmidt
The Washington Post
May 31 2018

Jimmy Kimmel has seen his late-night profile skyrocket through his emotional pleas for health-care legislation, his impassioned calls for gun control and his fierce criticism of President Trump. He has been referred to as “America’s conscience,” and, by all accounts, fits comfortably on the political left.

So it would seem unlikely that Kimmel would voice his support for Roseanne Barr the day after his own network, ABC, ousted her for posting what it called an “abhorrent, repugnant” tweet about former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. But on Wednesday, Kimmel did just that.

“What @TheRealRoseanne said is indefensible, but angrily attacking a woman who is obviously not well does no good for anyone,” Kimmel tweeted. “Please take a breath and remember that mental health issues are real. The Roseanne I know could probably use some compassion and help right now.”

Amid the fury at Barr’s racist comment, Kimmel’s contrarian tweet was a risk — and it immediately prompted a barrage of criticism. By asking his followers to “take a breath,” Kimmel managed to spur even more attacks.

Many critics, including some who professed to be his fans, accused Kimmel of being complicit, or of using mental illness to excuse racism.

“What she said is indefensible but you’re going to defend her anyway?” the writer Roxane Gay responded on Twitter. “Mental illness, if that’s what this is, does not excuse racism. It is not synonymous with racism. And critique is not attack.”

“I really like Jimmy Kimmel, so this is disappointing,” wrote Frederick Joseph. “Yes, mental health issues are real — as is racism. Roseanne didn’t call Valerie Jarrett an ape because of mental health issues, and she didn’t do a nazi holocaust parody photoshoot because of her mental issues.”

Mental illness does not give a person a “free pass” for bad behavior, tweeted Michael Fischer, “signed the rest of us with mental illnesses who aren’t lucky enough to have a celeb cape for us on twitter.”

“I am sure the people who suffer daily because of racism could use some compassion right now too,” tweeted Dani Bostick.

The comedian Livia Scott tweeted that while Kimmel might know Barr personally, “this is the time for a text to her, not a tweet to us. Stay in your lane Jimmy.”

By not staying in his “lane,” Kimmel showed the danger in sharing an unpopular, albeit nuanced, opinion in the midst of a national uproar.

Critics began picking apart the late-night host’s own checkered past involving issues of race. They once again resurfaced a clip from his Comedy Central series “The Man Show,” which ran from 1999 to 2003, branded as “a joyous celebration of chauvinism.” In at least one episode, Kimmel appeared in full-body brown makeup to portray Utah Jazz player Karl Malone.

One collage of memes read: “Remember kids, America’s Moral Authority used to make tv appearances in blackface to mock Oprah and black NBA players.”

“I guess if you’re Jimmy Kimmel it’s ok though even when you know for sure …” the tweet stated.

As Barr continued tweeting well into early Thursday morning, she retweeted a post that defended her, saying: “While Kimmel, Olbermann, Behar, Sykes & the list goes on, vehemently attack & lie about all of us & @POTUS daily, others like Rosie are destroyed for far less.”

Roseanne Barr’s offensive comments got her canceled

But Kimmel did receive his share of supporters. The actress Andie MacDowell agreed with his call for compassion, tweeting, “The cream rises to the top with empathy and compassion … two wrongs don’t make a right. I hear you. What had to happen happened. No need to be cruel.”

MacDowell followed up by saying she is glad ABC canceled Barr’s show, but at “the same time I don’t like to see the Joy people are having kicking her. I want us to be better than that …”

While some accused Kimmel of making assumptions about Barr’s mental health, Barr has been fairly open her battles with mental illness over the years. In an interview in Esquire magazine in 2001, she said she suffers from multiple personality disorder.

“It’s like living in a maze,” she told the writer, Mike Sager. “It’s like that old woman who keeps adding on to her house . … But the parts don’t get along and some of them have some real strange ideas about how to defend,” said the comedian. But after a decade of therapy, she said at the time, she managed to integrate the personalities and achieve “co-consciousness.”

In a 2012 interview with Piers Morgan, Barr said “the issue of mental health is very near and dear to me.” After many years, she said, “I’m more centered, I’m in the best place that I’ve ever been in. A lot of that is because I have done the work.”

But Barr has also been known for her unhinged, controversial tweets in recent years. In fact, Kimmel discussed her Twitter usage when he invited Barr onto his show in March to discuss the reboot of her show “Roseanne.”

When Barr mentioned her own campaign for president in 2012, Kimmel said, “you were kind of the original crazy tweeter running for president.”

Laughing, Barr seemed to agree. “Trump totally stole my act,” she said. “I ran my whole campaign on Twitter in 2012.”

Kimmel asked her about her attacks on Hillary Clinton, saying “I think you accused her of being a murderer on Twitter didn’t you.”

“I did not!” Barr insisted. Kimmel responded with a chuckle, ” Roseanne, you know I’m going to find that tweet in the next 40 seconds, right.”

Barr cursed at Kimmel, as they both continued laughing.

“I’m getting in so much trouble,” Barr also said.

“No you’re not getting in trouble,” Kimmel said. “Listen, you’re expressing your views, as crazy as they may be.”

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” aired a re-run on Thursday night. But on Wednesday night, Kimmel addressed the news that ABC was putting an end to “Roseanne.”

“You’re not going to believe this, but she tweeted something outrageous,” Kimmel said sarcastically. “I know, yeah, right, the president did it too, it’s crazy.”

He called the ABC show’s cancellation a “huge blow” to his network.

“We don’t have much on this network,” he said. “We’re hoping the NBA finals goes 11 games this year. We’re still airing ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ okay. ‘Roseanne’ was a very bigly hit for ABC, and we needed it.”

But, Kimmel joked, “the show must go on.”

“I have an idea that I think makes this work for everyone,” he said. In a sketch, he suggested a reboot of the show without Barr, focused on her co-star John Goodman, who plays Dan Conners. Its title? “Dan.”










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