Hangin’ with Kawika to Talk Tacoma Pride

Since I’ve been adding more to this blog lately, I thought I’d throw a few questions at my bar buddy downstairs Kawika. This guy has been a big part of organizing this year’s block party on St. Helens between 6th and 7th Avenue. Attendance last year was projected to be as much as 7,000… and Cazwell wasn’t even there!

Old Buddies with Cazwell

I heard Kawika was friends with Cazwell back in the day. When I asked him about it earlier he said he had spent time partying and being a club kid up in Seattle. There, he saw Cazwell perform as the opening act for a band called Fannypack at Neumos.

Place for Seattleites to Chill for a Day

Kawika sees Tacoma Pride as a relaxed party for Seattleites and suburbanites alike to attend. The plan is to serve Delegat’s wine. Kawika says half the proceeds are going to fight for marriage equality, “it’s not such a problem here anymore, but it’s still going on other places.”

Extra Queens

New queens have been added to the lineup–they’re not mentioned in the flyer: Olivia Lagarce and Donatella Howe. Kawika said they’re scheduled to be on from 5 to 6 p.m.

When talking about the queens, Kawika mentioned “Alexa Manila is an empress.” She’s spent a lot of time performing with contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race, especially last year’s winner from Seattle: Jinkx Monsoon.

There has been a crash pad/dressing room secured in the historic Webster building during the show.

Parking Tips

You’re probably wondering where you might put a car in Tacoma while you visit for Pride… besides the obvious taking a bus or train to Tacoma Dome Station which also offers free parking and light rail service. Broadway St. offers a lot of options, especially by party mansion David’s on Broadway. Kawika recommended parking on Market next to Tacoma Comedy Club. He also mentioned using the secured parking at Pacific Plaza by the IGA, which is near the light rail station.

If you need a cab it doesn’t get any better than the local Aloha Cab Company: (253) 428-9999, assuming you wouldn’t just take the light rail to the Best Western at the Tacoma Dome.

Google Maps directions from the Block Party to Tacoma Dome Station.

Favorite Cazwell Tune?

Haha! Kawika immediately names “It’s All Over Your Face.” Cazwell’s early hit featuring Amanda Lepore. He was surprised to see his old buddy’s track featured in Not Another Gay Movie–which was only the beginning.

For more info check out their website at: http://tacomapride.org/pride_block_party
For more of a family affair, check out Out in the Park.
Oh and guess where to find out more about other Tacoma Pride Events? It’s here: http://tacomapride.org/

Preview of Tinkertopia coming soon to Pacific Ave.

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I’m pretty excited about the opening of R.R. and Darcy Anderson’s Spaceworks project, Tinkertopia. It’s really nice to see things taking shape and coming together.

I saw RR tweeting about it earlier so I thought I’d hop on the light rail and check it out. RR had an errand to run at the recycling center and Darcy showed me around. The place looks very interesting and incredibly unique and fun. One can imagine all sorts of interesting projects springing forth from the supplies available at their shop.

Feminist-Queer-Postmodern Analysis of D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Fox’

Ahhh finals are over and summer can begin. I seriously plan on shuffling the deck and working on some projects this summer. In the meantime I’m going to further revise some of my papers I turned in this quarter for blog posts and perhaps more as I do summer reading and visits to book clubs.

The later chapters in literary criticism class were fun, and while the readings were dense they were only ten pages. I feel like all my classes have been like FEMINISM-PATRIARCHY-POSTMODERNISM but I feel like now that I’ve been put through a lot of it I can finally get a grasp on these movements, which all seem to lead to something like “oh wait nothing means anything lets start over.”

Like the feedback I got in one class, all my papers could use about two or three more revisions, but I hope you enjoy reading it after one! Click the referral link to the novel as I experiment with Amazon referral links! If you live in Tacoma, you can also probably find a copy at local independent bookseller King’s Books for a cost that’s close to nothing.

the fox

Some would say D.H. Lawrence’s “The Fox” was far ahead of its time of publication in 1923, but while it offers some radical foreshadowing to postmodern thought the novel is still very much an artifact of its time. The nature of the relationships between these three characters is a popular topic scholars have ruminated upon ever since the novel’s publication. As the novel progresses, Lawrence uses imagery comparing the characters to animals. First, there’s Henry, the titular fox, a young man returning from his self-imposed exile to his father’s house to find out that he had died. The house is now in possession of the Banford, the bird. She lives there and sleeps in the same bed with her companion, March, the rabbit. Henry abruptly asks March for her hand in marriage, from which the conflict of the novel extends. Feminists, gender and queer theorists, and postmodernists have a lot to say about roles of genders in relationships, the networks of power at work in them, and finally how contemporary thought might be situated in previous eras. This paper will use a combination of feminism, gender and queer theory, and postmodernism as outlined in the Routledge Companion to Critical Theory as a framework while also looking at what some outside sources associated with these movements might have to say.

Henry might represent the patriarchy that the women in the novel should rise against that comes from the school of feminist theory (92). These women are fearful because society’s gender roles see women as subordinate to men, but over time we’ve seen that foundation revealed as not something so solid. Just like their animal totems don’t necessarily translate outside of this culture, which offer new layers of meaning to those familiar with local English mythology.

These gender roles outlined by feminist thought feed into networks of power in relationships, according to queer theory (104). In the Routledge Companion, Susan Heckmen recalls an empirical study by Carol Gilligan the found that women approach things from a contextual perspective while men use universally applicable concrete thinking. So here we have a solid difference between men and women, even though postmodernism challenges the categories “men” and “women” as mere labels. Clearly March and Banford feel free, for the most part, in questioning traditional gender roles as they live together in solitude in the English countryside. Perhaps March is put off by this risk as shown by the scene in which she relents to Henry and confides to him that she doesn’t see her and Banford as “two old women together.” Psychiatrist Qazi Rahman has offered interesting data-based ideas that reveal “under patriarchy, men may tend to propagate attributions that ensure their control, such as viewing risk-taking as something aberrant to their sex” (4). This might be seen in Henry as he doesn’t seem to have much respect for the relationship between March and Banford. He views their relationship as a risk, a weakness he can exploit.

This might be why Henry thinks he can just swoop in. Michael Squires questions this in his essay titled “Modernism and the Contours of Violence in D. H. Lawrence’s Fiction”. In his analysis of “The Fox,” Squires identifies parallels in the relationships in the novel to “the sweeping dislocations of a world war that hastened the innovations of Modernism” and goes on to describe the war as one of “masked aggression” possibly to mirror the conflict of the relationships in “The Fox” (91). Henry is never quite overt in his pursuits as he skulks and slinks around. He tells March his desire for marriage only in private. It is clear that Henry has a goal in mind and is working hard to achieve it, but hard goals like these are shown to lead to violence according to the postmodernist thought outlined in the Routledge Companion (118).

Henry appears quite aggressive when he proposes marriage, after a long back and forth about the whys and why nots, March eventually agrees. When she does, Henry is described in the story as sitting “silent, unconscious, with all the blood burning in all his veins, like fire in all the branches and twigs of him.” He then asks March to go in, and she “rose without answering.” This bucks with tradition of a mutually beneficial marriage proposal. Henry doesn’t appear to know why he is compelled to marry March. It could have something to do with what Donald Hall says in the Routledge Companion about gender and queer theorist Judith Butler. Butler found traditional heterosexual marriages to be a form of scripted performance set to endlessly repeat but never fully accomplish a singular identity (108). So, a queer theorist would question the inevitability of their marriage, although March seems to take it for granted.

When Henry kills Banford, accidentally or not, no one really questions whether or not March will go with him. Even despite the fact that she resisted the idea in the letter she writes to him. In a review in the Journal of History of Sexuality, Charles Hatten notes that author David Seelow dismisses feminist claims that Lawrence holds “hostility to lesbianism if not to feminine autonomy generally” (168). The review notes that the book holds “The Fox” as a work of radical literature and the author is quoted as referring to Lawrence in “pursuit of a utopian community founded on individual emancipation” (167). Hatten’s review notes that this critique ignores counterevidence; especially considering the story ends with the heterosexual male prevailing and taking a wife in victory after a violent act. However, the fact that the novel depicts such a situation at all is certainly quite ahead of its time. One might wonder if with further research we could find out if this ending was merely something that had to take place considering the cultural norms of the time, which considered same sex relationships quite abhorrent. Perhaps someone of this time might even consider this somewhat of a victory—while someone else would be forced to ponder whether or not this is a tragedy in that March truly belonged to Banford.

This analysis sought to look at “The Fox” through a lens of three contemporary viewpoints: feminism, queer theory, and postmodernism. These views would have interesting thoughts on the ideas of patriarchy, gender roles in relationships as networks of power, and help to see how contemporary thought compares to the time the novel was written in. “The Fox” is before World War II, the characters are living in a modern society although they might not hold modern views. This novel highlights relationships that defy traditional heterosexual ones, and the reader is left wondering if the tale reveals them as good or bad. Which of these relationships was the most stable in the end? Would the characters in this novel act any differently in our own time? Like many of the ruminations that come about through postmodern thought, these are also questions we are unable to answer completely, but what’s important is that we are offered a window in which to see them.

Sources:

Hatten, Charles. “Radical Modernism and Sexuality: Freud, Reich, D. H. Lawrence & Beyond by David Seelow.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 17.1 (2008): 166-168. Web. 12 Jun. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/30114378&gt;.

Lawrence, D. H., and Dieter Mehl. The fox ; The captain’s doll ; The ladybird. London: Penguin, 2006.

Rahman, Qazi. “Gender Differences, ‘Risk-Taking’ And The Need For Empiricism.” Psychology, Evolution & Gender 2.2 (2000): 151-155. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 June 2013. <http://offcampus.lib.washington.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=4463848&site=ehost-live&gt;

Squires, Michael. ” Modernism and the Contours of Violence in D. H. Lawrence’s Fiction.” Studies in the Novel. 39.1 (2007): 84-104. Web. 12 Jun. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/29533801&gt;.

Psychoanalytic Perspective on Emily Dickinson’s “The Chariot”

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Varieties of Literary Criticism, but I love the last four chapters: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Gender and Queer Theory, and Postmodernism. It can be hard to wrestle with these topics when none have solid definitions, but I’d wager I can get some good future papers out of them anyway. Hooray lit-tra-cha!

In the class we’ve read lots of short fiction and poetry and then looong analyses of that short fiction and poetry. I hadn’t read too much Dickinson in the past, but she’s certainly fascinating especially for how much her works have resonated in culture. It’s great for high schoolers living in the suburbs that like to commiserate.

One example we used to discuss mythological analysis was The Chariot. It was one of my favorite reads of the module so I decided to do my third paper on it from the psychoanalytic point of view.

I was inspired by my literature columnist’s recent J.M. Barrie biography which starts out with a quote blasting anyone who would write about him, because I realize Dickinson would probably not be comfortable with people dissecting her work after her death. Alas, I probably am not the first and definitely will not be the last, I suppose. Enjoy!

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Emily Dickinson is one of the more celebrated American poets. Her life was spent mostly in seclusion and she had no intention of publishing her work, yet scholars pour over her writing looking for the meanings of her mysterious words. The school of psychoanalytic criticism discussed in Rob Lapsley’s essay in The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory might offer an interesting perspective on Dickenson’s poem, “The Chariot” (66). In this analysis we’ll apply the theory described in the essay to this poem that relies heavily on imagery discussed in psychoanalysis like an impending imaginary parental figure and the formation of repressed desires; then also consider who this message is meant for, and how the poem refers to Lacan’s concept of alienation/separation.

Psychoanalysis spends some time on the idea of parental figures seen from the viewpoint of the child. The figure of death is like that parental figure: domineering and almost mythic or god-like. Rob Lapsley says these figures populate the child’s imaginary (69). In this poem, Dickinson is helpless to this mythic personification of death. She can’t stop for him, he “kindly stops for” her. Perhaps Dickinson feels a yearning for death, yet at the same time there is also fear. At least when he does come, it’s kindly.

Is this the formation of some repressed desire? Why would Dickinson ruminate on this particular subject? Perhaps she is trying to answer the question of whether she seeks Death and his chariot to heaven.  Lapsley talks about how art and literature “can be viewed as compromise formations in which repressed desires find expression in a socially acceptable form” (70). Applying this theory to Dickinson can be problematic since she did not appear to seek social acceptance. Perhaps she was writing to understand herself better.

According to Lapsley, Lacan was very concerned with this question of “Who is speaking and to whom?” (73). Dickinson might be speaking to herself when she says that death will take its time and offer peace and timelessness when she writes “Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet/Feels shorter than the day” in her ruminations. The Chariot has mythological associations as the vehicle that takes a person down the road of life, and these words might show that life was seen as something tedious for Dickinson, and perhaps shows a longing for the endless ride of immortality.

Something can also be gleaned from the idea of alienation and separation in this Dickinson poem. Dickinson is said to have lived her life separated from the outside world. This poem’s narrator does as well when “The Carriage held but just/Ourselves/And Immortality” she spends the remainder of the poem on the inside of the carriage looking out. We also can wonder if putting away her labors and leisure means losing her old identity, what people labeled her as, like when Lacan notes that “subjects often protest at the identity assigned to them” (75).

Through this psychoanalytic point of view, we can understand a bit more about Dickinson’s mind as she wrote this poem. She refers to an imaginary god-like death figure, was possibly working out repressed desires, working out her own feelings about her life and the death that awaits, and possibly felt separated or looked forward to a full separation of herself and the living world.

Ripe for Analysis

Written and Visual Rhetoric has proven to be a good class to exercise gabbing about some of my favorite interests: comics and Reddit.

Here’s a couple of response papers I wrote. Each student has to present on one of the chapters and I chose “Typography” and picked out three comics from my bookshelf. Two of them had handmade titles and I felt since much of the class has talked about mainstream advertising I felt I should use perhaps a more “mainstream” example like the new Avengers spinoff featuring the character Hawkeye.

You can read my Hawkeye review at Post Defiance and the Tacoma Ledger.

Found Analysis – Typography: Comic Covers

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Summer Blonde, Fun with Milk & Cheese, and Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon are three paperback collections of comic books originally released in a serialized magazine format. We’ll look at the typographical elements in their covers to analyze how readers get meaning or a feeling just from the title text by using David Machin’s Introduction to Multimodal Analysis and its chapter on typography (p. 83). These disparate examples are chosen specifically to highlight a difference between hand-created text and computer fonts, and to show how each have flourishes that tell a little about the stories within.

Summer Blonde is a collection of stories from Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve, featuring a set of four slice-of-life human experiences. The cover uses a handwritten letterform for the title likely created by the artist, which fits right in with Machin’s description of the slope characteristic; it looks like script which can have a meaning of  “personal,” “handcrafted,” and that it shows “human touch and care” (p. 98). The human touch might be an interpersonal way to give a reader the idea of this book as a hand-created work of art. This text’s soft, handcrafted characteristics seem to reflect the softer elements of the stories and images in the panels.

Fun with Milk & Cheese is the first volume in paperback collections of Evan Dorkin’s Milk & Cheese comics. This comic features anthropomorphic “dairy products gone bad,” a milk carton and his cohort, a chunk of cheese, as they drink gin excessively and go on various rampages. This title also appears to be hand-created, which can evoke those same feelings of handcrafted care as in Summer Blonde, but we’re definitely getting different emotions since this text is not sloping like script. There is also a much lower sense of regularity here, which Machin says “can mean conformity, restraint, order” (p. 102). The message here exudes madness and chaos rather than the safety of high regularity. The text also has a drawn style with flourishes that can be identified with the shapes of the characters themselves.

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon is a recently released collection of a new monthly comic book series by Marvel Comics featuring the superpower-less archer hot off his movie appearance in “The Avengers.” Marvel comics tend to be a labor of industry, much like Hollywood movies, so unlike our other two examples it can be difficult identifying designers who create cover elements as the works get released in paperback. So in what appears to be computer-created text we might have the opposite of that personal touch, one of distance and aloofness. Someone might even say it’s less artistic. One of the featured categories Machin talks about is how flourishes can use iconographic imagery (p. 102). The designer here appears to have created the cover using a sans serif font, which Machin identifies with “cutting edge design” (p. 103). This may be used to make a character icon that was created in 1964 seem fresh. The creator has added flourishes to the letters like the arrow on the h and a dot to create a bull’s-eye in the a, strengthening associations with this character and archery, his main attribute as a superhero.

Through this variety of texts we can see a world of meaning existing in just the formation of letters in the titles.  In the realm of comics, titles are a big feature of the cover and have to be used in tandem with images to give the reader a sense of what the interior pages promise in order to sell the product to the reader. These examples show through their differences the warmth of hand-created elements and computer generated text forms. We can also see how text can give an iconic appearance and help tell a story.

Found Analysis – Social Actors: Watermelon Salesmen

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http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1ebc2a/my_villages_three_awesome_watermelon_merchants/

This photo was one of the top posts of the popular picture sharing section (known as “/r/pics”) of the hyperlink-sharing news website, Reddit, on the morning of May 14, 2013. This photo features three watermelon salesmen with the headline, “My village’s three awesome watermelon merchants” by submitter “fucdatsit” who reveals in comments that the picture likely was taken in Tulkarem, Palestine. By this writing it has amassed 2779 total “karma points,” the net total number of positive “upvotes” and negative “downvotes” the picture received from users (these are terms that are widely used in the Reddit community). The “/r/pics” community has over three million subscribers, about 11,000 of which are shown to be online as of this writing. The snapshot nature of this picture means that it likely did not go through editing or styling the way a marketing photo might, so this analysis will focus on what made the image appealing to the masses, and how it earned so much precious karma. We’ll use David Machin’s Introduction to Multimodal Analysis and it’s chapter featuring social actors to look at how the user submitting the image chose a proper headline and see how the watermelon salesmen are using gaze to sell their wares (p. 109).

Taking a closer look at the title posted with the image, “My village’s three awesome watermelon merchants” can certainly give insight into why this post became so popular. It says that the submitter created a personal photo, something unique that a regular user of a massive online pictures community might not have seen before. Just by going with the descriptive title, there’s the promise of “awesome,” had this just been a picture of three friendly watermelon distributors exchanging fruits for cash we might feel at least a little let down. Machin mentions early in the chapter that linguistics describing a scene are very important, and uses examples of verbal descriptions often throughout the chapter, and says something can be found about who has the power in the scene by looking at the verbs in the sentence describing the picture (p. 109). However, there is no verb in this title, it’s a fragment. Does this mean there is no power in this scene? Who would we ascribe it to? The salesmen? The photographer? The village? One could even say it’s the reader who has the true power over the image, or rather, the collective voting of all the readers of “/r/pics,” which ultimately determines whether the image will be seen.

This reader will have to meet with the watermelon salesman’s gaze in this photo. Machin describes gaze as, “to what extent we are encouraged to engage with the participants” (p. 110). Just as he hopes to gather customers from the village, the salesman is performing an “awesome” act that beckons the viewer to engage. In the same way they were able to generate huge interest on Reddit, hopefully they were able to stand out in a village market.

This picture shows the importance of the social actors in the photo that earned popularity on a large news site. The user was able to do this by creating a well chosen, if grammatically incorrect, title for the post and the salesmen was able to do this by performing interesting feats.

Hope everyone enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed my grade on them!

It’s good to be proud.

Tacoma Pride Festival is coming up, featuring almost two weeks of fun events put on by the community. I can’t think of anything else in Tacoma that goes on for that long at so many different and important spots in the city. Things are going on at City Hall, Wright Park, The Grand Cinema, King’s Books, and plenty more that you can find listed at tacomapridefestival.org.

The Mix Block Party 2011

The Mix Block Party 2011, taken by me.

The big day is Saturday, July 14. I plan on at least doing Out in the Park and The Mix Block Party as far as Pride is concerned. I’m not really sure what to expect at the park, there’s no alcohol/beer garden type of thing allowed in Wright Park. Benjii Bittle, a Pride organizer who works for the Broadway Center, said it was going to be family friendly plus drag queens. This I gotta see!

The Mix Block Party should be a blast. Road signs are already out warning motorists that St. Helens Ave. will be closed. I asked Randy and Adam at The Mix if they were ready, they sounded pretty confident and then turned it around to me and asked, “are YOU ready?” Now I’m not sure!

I’m excited that JD Elquist will be emceeing the event. I was kind of curious why a straight guy, although quite dapper, is hosting such a big Pride event. He told me it’s because he’s hosted events at The Mix before with his DJ buddies like DJ Broam that were quite successful. I also think being a part of such a big event in the city brings him one step closer to his plan of taking it over.

Poster designed by Travis Pranger.

Apparently members of RuPaul’s Drag Race will be there. My guesses are Shangela because she’s going to be performing at The Deltan Club and Shannel because she’ll be in town at her friend’s shop, London Couture. We’ll see!

The event at London Couture is recently announced and I’m pretty excited about it. Shannel will be officiating gay weddings with faux certificates. It’s ten bucks but that’ll get you cupcakes, champagne and other neat bonuses like tickets to a Deltan Club show.

Unfortunately those tickets won’t be eligible for use at their sold-out show later that night featuring Shangela, Seattle’s Mama Tits, and a long list of other amazing performers. If you already grabbed your tickets, know that I’m jealous of you.

I’m really excited that City Hall will be such a big part of the event, thanks to City Council member Ryan Mello. The raising of the rainbow flag on the Municipal Building is kind of a big deal. One better than the Space Needle! The gathering happening at B2 Fine Arts Gallery afterwards should be a hoot. Hopefully this will get the word out about Referendum 74 and WA can be the first state to establish marriage equality with a popular vote.

On the 19th, sweet pea flaherty and my librarian boyfriend, Matt, are hosting an event at King’s Books called “Queering Your Bookshelf”. Details are still being hammered out, when I heard they might include graphic novels like Love and Rockets, Wandering Son, and Batwoman: Elegy, I suggested they include Fantagraphics’ new anthology No Straight Lines (keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who volunteers for this publisher’s marketing department).

No Straight Lines comes out the day of the “Queering Your Bookshelf” discussion.

The Grand Cinema is also showing a trio of interesting films. I think the one I’m most excited about is “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same”. The way Philip Cowan (the Grand’s Executive Director) described it to me made it sound like an old Ed Wood film.

I know I’m leaving out details about some really awesome events, and I’m sure there’s some I haven’t even heard of and I’m totally missing out. Check out the festival’s website for more information and be sure to ask your friends what they’re doing!