Thank you, Dolores O’Riordan, for your days as a kickass musician, Irishwoman, and feminist icon. You will be missed. Godspeed. ❤
‘Nobody shoot anybody!’
‘Names not numbers!’
‘You matter! You matter!’
I won’t lie—This was an exceptionally violent year in Baltimore. As of 29 December, 343 persons were killed in the city, and a police officer scheduled to testify against the BPD’s Gun Trace Task Force was shot and killed (allegedly with his own weapon) the day before he was scheduled to testify in court.
But, this was also a year in which the unemployment rate dropped from 11% to 5%.This was the year Erricka Bridgeford was named Marylander of the Year 2017 for her activism, specifically, the ‘Baltimore Ceasefire’ of 4-6 August. A judge ruled that Black Lives Matter was not an organization in the traditional sense, and therefore could not be sued.
This was a year of terrors, horrors, and tragedy; it was also a year of bravery, activism, and the tenacious belief that Baltimore is a good city, and will improve. In short, 2017 was a year of contradictions.
I write this to pay my respects to the persons killed this year. I write this to reiterate that I believe Baltimore is a good, is a loving, city.
I do not write this to inflame, I do not write this to misinform, I do not write this to sound woke for the sake of sounding woke. The facts and stats I provide are linked to legitimate sources. Baltimore IS a good city, and it’s a far better place than is often portrayed in media.
I write this to say: 2017 was an especially rough year for the city, but 2018 will be better. We will make it so.
Alas, it’s winter again!
(At least there’s good music.)
- “The Sound of Silence”, Simon & Garfunkel
2. Wild is the Wind, Nina Simone
3. “Black Beauty (A Response to Lana Del Rey from Willis Earl Beal)”, Willis Earl Beal
4. “I’m So Tired”, Fugazi
5. “Breaking It Up”, Lykke Li
Happy winter, if you’re one of the crazy ones.
I’ve a friend who describes this time of year as liminal.
We’re both the superstitious sort, but there’s truth to the matter. There is something spooky about the winter, the last month of the year (in the Gregorian calendar, at least). The cold is coming and things are ending, and they won’t begin again for some time.
(Etymological side note: liminal comes from līmen, Latin for ‘threshold’; next month is January, which comes from Ianuarius—the month of Janus, a Roman god: the gatekeeper.)
It’s cold here, where we are, and it snowed over the weekend. We are almost over our heads in final papers (my humanities cohorts and I) and exams (my aforementioned friend, a STEM major…oxymoronic, huh?) but we are OK.
The cold and the dark do affect me, but I’ve pulled through for the past twenty winters and I’ll do so again. 2017 has been a bad year for so many people, for so many reasons (but also a good year! for the silence-breakers!) but we have pulled through. And anyway,
perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim
since I’ve seen you smile
(Beirut, The Flying Cup Club)
Here’s a secret dream of mine: there are few things I want more from this life than to have an entire holiday dedicated to a book I wrote, although, full disclosure, I’m no closer to finishing Ulysses than I was last year.
However, I did finish Dubliners and would 10/10 recommend!!
Each time I watch Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, I am obliged to find this draft and rewrite it.
The first time I rewatched it as an adult (or, a kind-of adult) (I use the term ‘adulting’ a lot) I realized that I must’ve been a pretty patient kid, as nothing happens for the first hour of the film.
The second rewatching, this past May, I was struck by the film’s dichotomous nature. The titular character, Aurora the sleeping beauty, is only on screen for about fifteen minutes of a total 78 minute running time, and she doesn’t do much while on screen. Nevertheless, the film passes the Bechdel test within the first quarter-hour, thanks to the back-and-forth bickering of the Good Fairies: Merryweather, Flora, Fauna.
Aurora is typically ranked as the least feminist of the Disney princesses (although she has stiff competition from Cinderella and Snow White) but, of the Disney princesses (up until Pocahontas), Aurora alone has female friends (the aforementioned Good Fairies). It’s not until the Disney Renaissance (1989-1999) that the princesses became more than glorified dolls; yet 1959’s Sleeping Beauty far surpasses every Disney princess movie in regards to the ratio of female-to-male dialogue until 2012’s Brave. But! the movie in no way breaks with the backwards gender ideals of mid-20th-century America. For all its visual beauty (courtesy the art direction of Eyvind Earle) the film is flawed, especially in regards to its lack of gender equality. The original fairy tales aren’t any better.
So. If you like to debate and critique gender roles in 20th century Disney films, I’d definitely recommend Sleeping Beauty; if you’d rather your heroines actually do something; you can never go wrong with Mulan (1998) or Pocahontas (1995)¹, or their 21st century counterparts, Tiana (Princess and the Frog, 2009) and Merida (Brave, 2012).
¹ Yes, I will defend Pocahontas, even if it is historically inaccurate. The movie depicts a strong female character, perhaps the first of Disney’s female leads. This is not to say I’m willing to disregard the apologist nature of the film’s creators towards the English colonists.