Saturday, August 19, 2017

Call it what it really is: a Fetish

This no longer exists.

So this past week, Baltimore City government swooped in and removed four sculptures dedicated to the Confederacy.  Included is this one, Gloria Victis - Glory to Vanquished.

Now it is vanquished, hidden under a plastic tarp in some city owned lot.

Now if you live in the south, and you live near a city, there is probably one or more monuments to the Confederacy.

They do not honor a native son.  They do not mark a battle spot.  And they most likely were erected between 1880 and 1960.

They are, however not statues.

Let's get that clear, right now.

Rodin's Thinker is sculpture.  Lincoln has a Monument.  The statue of Jefferson stands in the Jefferson Monument.

But Glory to the Vanquished is not, I said NOT, a statue.

It is a FETISH.

Say what?

Fetish, but not a sexual thing, right?

Wrong!  Look in Webster's and you'll see that it means more than something prurient.

Fetish: "an object in which magical power is present or in which it believed to exist.  An object of worship imbued with trans-formative meaning, or luck." Etc.

This is why I call them Fetishes.  

They are Fetishes because they were designed, crafted and erected to honor the Confederate leaders, soldiers and people, and reform their reputations and their "cause" into something that was noble to fight for.  They were erected to change the shame of defeat for cause that sold, traded and abused human beings from something shameful into fight for "The Cause" of honor.

Organizations like the Daughters of Confederacy, etc., raised funds and paid for these Fetishes in order to redeem the actions of their fathers, grandfathers, husbands, sons and other family members, transforming them losers and traitors into the "glorious vanquished".  They became symbols that would, over time, rewrite the perception that the Confederate States of America could be forgotten and in place, "The South" became a code word for the CSA, and thus more dignified.  

These bronze Fetishes, were to reform those who committing treason, racism and murder, and perpetuated slavery and the slave trade.

And they did have that transformative power.  As the years passed, White America saw them as -oh, yes -  public art!

"Oh, look!  Sculpture!" I heard a tourist say one day in Wyman Park. Looking at the statue of Lee on a horse that didn't look like General Lee at all.

But these Fetishes had another meaning to Blacks.  And that message was "We may have lost the war, but we control the politics, the wealth, the business and you futures, here.  Don't even think of trying to better yourself."

And that message was clear.

And then Barack Obama was elected President and change couldn't come soon enough, and it didn't.  For as much as I loved President Obama, there was never the resolution of the race problem, there were never discussions that needed to happen.

Then a minority voters, in strategic states elected the current President.  And race erupted after a White woman was killed by a White Supremacist. And when the President failed to guide the nation on this matter, these Fetishes in the south became the focus of the national debate.

They are not great works of art.  They should not be on public lands.  They honor people who sought to tear the nation apart.  They need to go.

They need to go because we need to be free of their powers over some who see these fetishes as keys to their White domination of others.

Let me be clear - getting rid of these monuments is a small step.

Their removal will not make life for Black America easier.  They will not free White Americans from their duty to understand what it really is like to be Black in this nation.   And their removal will not end the segregation of society.

In fact if all that is done is to remove these Fetishes and things go back to "normal" then racism wins.

We will not be free of this burden that every American carries until we move beyond the fits and starts of moving this country forward.

We cannot be a united country until every man, woman and child is valued for who they are, their experiences are heard, validated, and we remove the prejudices we subconsciously commit everyday.

And to those who argue back that we are allowing our history to be rewritten, remind them that when these Fetishes were erected that was when history was rewritten.  And now we are correcting that record.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Calls, Cookie gets calls and SPAM emails...

We still have a landline into our house because the Husband's job (on call, 24/7), and because the cell reception in this house is pretty bad.  My friends who have abandoned landlines and know how to reach me.  And frankly, I don't like giving out my cell phone number, because I don't want any calls on it that aren't necessary, or from people who would bother me with calls like "Hello, this Rachel from Card Member Services," and "Hi, this Cindy, calling from the Car Warranty Center."

Call me old fashioned, but I don't mind being tethered to a desk for an old fashioned corded phone because it means that I can focus my attention on who is calling and what we are talking about.  We have cordless phones as well, but I like that feeling of being connected to the dying art of simply taking a phone call on a real, honest to gosh telephone.

One advantage to having a landline is that is that during hurricanes, and power outages, the copper lines seem to work while cell phoneaholics are desperate to save battery power, or running about looking for some place with power so they can charge up.

I still have my cell phone, and I carry it when I leave the house.  But if I am home, I don't answer it.

Technology is fine, and even great.  But it has its downside.  People think you are always accessible.  And there are sometimes when you are not accessible, or shouldn't be, like when you are in the bathroom.

A couple years ago, I had two feet of colon removed to end my life long suffering with diverticulitis.  This was the good type of technology, because before I met with the doctor, I was convinced it meant a colostomy.  But no.  Today they do it with a combination of laparoscopy and a two part tool, one piece goes into into your rectum and and the other piece is placed in the remaining colon and they staple and glue you back together.

In the old days, it would have a week in the hospital and weeks before food, losing pounds on liquid diets of consomme.

With this new procedure, you're eating a turkey sandwich the next day and home the day after.  Heck, the night of the surgery, I was walking the halls of the hospital, albeit like a ninty year old man.  But dammit, I was up and walking.

The surgery indeed worked like a charm. But it comes with one major side effect.

The problem is, I have two feet less colon than everyone else, which means that, in the doctors words "You may suffer front an immediate need to evacuate your bowels."  This brought up images in my mind of the evacuation of Saigon one moment, and then me in a diaper the next.  "But," he continued most patients are able to adjust to the new signals in their gut and take offensive measures.  No pun in tended, of course."

Of course.

I have figured out those signs, but still, wherever I go, I have to know where I can "go", every moment I am away from the house.  And there much of any warning.  Eating seems to set it off, so if I am out shopping in the morning, it has to be after my morning toilet, but before my lunch.  If I can't make it without food, because the world starts to spin about, I can eat, but again, you never know when a forceful act of nature is coming.

This, of course, means that I am often using a public toilet, and that means I am using a public toilet  in a place where some man is also using the facilities, and talking on their cell phone.

This is the bad end of technology.

I don't mean to listen in, because that would be rude.  But public bathrooms, made of tiled floors, walls and lacking anything that could absorb sound tend to echo and amplify sounds bouncing off of the glazed surfaces.  And being confirmed to a small booth, unable to see the world around you tends to amplify every sound as your eyes signal you ears as if to say "Hey, buddy, you are driving this car now that I can't see a thing but this graffiti."

Making matters worse is that people think that they have to SHOUT every word on a cell phone.  They can't hear the caller, but everyone in a 30 foot radius can hear what they are saying.

So you get drawn into the conversations if the guy is unaware that his VOICE IS A LOUD AS IT WOULD NEED TO BE IN A CROWDED BAR, and that EVERY WORD HE IS SAYING IS CARRYING ALL OVER THE ROOM FOR ALL TO HEAR.   And if you are going to BE THAT LOUD THAT I CANNOT AVOID YOU.

A couple weeks ago, I was the restroom of a local big box electronics store.  After I was settled in, some man came into the john, walked over to an area not by me, which is usually the urinals.  He was on his cell phone, and to convince his wife that he was in the car on his way home after not showing up when he said he would.

"Doreen, look honey, I am driving as fast as I can but the roads are really clogged.  I am so in the car.  What do you mean it sounds funny?  Maybe the connection is bad, but I am on my home.  No, I did not stop at the computer store to buy more junk."

He wasn't lying, if you want to get technical about it.  He wasn't in the computer store's sales floor, he was in the computer store men's room.  Being the son of a lawyer - and yes, I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say - but you learn to listen to what lengths most people try and get away with something based on what they say.

Technically, the man wasn't lying, but he wasn't being truthful.

This is when the conversation took an interesting turn.  The man forgot that the toilets had automatic flushers.  So when he stepped back, the urinal flushed with a loud WOOOSHHHHHH.

"Doreen, what did you say?  No, I am not at the computer store, honey.  No, I am not in bathroom talking to you while I am on the can.  That sound?  That was a semi blowing a recap tire, now look, I have to get going so I can concentrate on driving...." and he left the men's room.

In my mind I would call Doreen, and in an evil voice say "Yes, Doreen.  You man was lying to you and he was in the men's room with me.  I'm on your side Doreen.  That's right honey, men can be pigs."

Hopefully he had better luck on the sales floor of sounding like he was in the car.  He probably told her that sounds she heard were the radio.

Still, the idea of handling a cell phone in a bathroom - any bathroom - gives me the creeps.  Its bad enough having to use one for the intended purpose, but using your phone?  That's down right gross.

When I am home, Cookie is always amazed by the SPAM and Robo calls that we get here at Cookie Manor.  They interrupt my day while I am at work, either doing house-husbandly things, like the laundry or cleaning, or working on a project and sometimes, while sneaking an episode of the British show of the moment on ACORN TV.

Today I had three hang ups and and one piece of noteworthy SPAM emails.

The SPAM messages tat come through email are annoying.  Unlike the calls, you can easily train your email program to weed out the bad ones.   Usually, they are from people who want to sell you pills for erections that you don't need pills to get.  And even if you did, would you buy them from someone in Nigeria who would send you messages like this:

"Mr. Cookie, You know that you need V_I_A_G_R_A to obtain the hardness that you know she likes and demands.  Men like you, who rely on our quality product have comfort in knowing that the best price to be obtains is through our International buying power making womans wet around the world wide..."
You have to admire their staying power in promoting erection pills at "best competitive USD prices that no one can undercut..." unless you have a health plan that will pay for you to get a six hour erection, but refuses to pay for your colonoscopy.   Either way, you know you are going to get screwed.

Today's SPAM was different.

This was one of those SPAMessages that reads like it was run through a translator in Nairobi, Kenya, or some other far off nation where the "writer" is the wife or husband of a dead leader and "find my self with an amount of money equaling $1 million dollars in U.S. funds that I must find safe harbor for..."

This one was a bit more strangely worded:

Dear Mr. Cookie Husband:
Here is to inform you of this incident knowing me as Anthony Gomez a legal representative to a late client Mr. Harry Allan Husband, who had the same surname with yours. He died leaving a valuable amount in one of our local banks here. Please get back for more important details.
Mr. Anthony C. Gomez.
[Senior Attorney]

Normally I would toss this aside, but this one got to the side of me that can hear this being read, and because my father was an attorney.   The other thing is that I am genealogist, and since the Husband and I are married, I use his last name, not my birth surname.  So in addition to the poorly worded, it raised my ancestry hackles.

So I wrote back:

Dear Mr. Senior Attorney Anthony C. Gomez.,
This day, to you, I am writing, because of the email letter that you wrote to me in which you detail the death of Mr. Harry Allen Husband.  News of his passing has a certain finality to the story of life.  In order for me to to help you solve this matter, I will need the name of Mr. Husband's parents, for surly you understand that if they are the General Nassar Husband and his mother is Mrs. Lady Jane Husband, there can be no mistake. I would also like a family tree, for surly you understand that this must be a certaintude to be true.
Most respectfully,

Several hours later, around 11 am I received a reply.
Dear Mr. Cookie Husband,
This morning I am over-joyed to discover that in fact Mr. Harry Allen Husband, the gentleman about which you wrote is in fact the son of the people, with which you sent detailed correspondence with me earlier.  It is most urgent that I obtain your bank account authorization ensuring that the transfer of funds to you.
 Mr. Anthony C. Gomez.
[Senior Attorney]

 This of course that I needed to respond.

Dear Senior Attorney Mr. Anthony C. Gomez.,
Whilst awaiting your most recent missive, a most amazing event happened.  I went to the other room, and when I returned, who should be sitting on my guest chair, but my relative with the same name as mine, Mr. Harry Allen Husband!  Mr. Harry Allen Husband tells me that you "have done a fine job as agent for his holdings, and thanks be to you, Senior Attorney Mr. Anthony C. Gomez."  My relative with the same name as I has indeed brought a large suitcase full of USD and he would like to send you half. Therefore, he has asked me to obtain your most high valued account so that we can ensure the transfer of USD appears for transfer.  Please get back with me with the details.
 Yours truly,

Around noon, the email from Senior Attorney Mr. Anthony C. Gomez arrived.
Dear Mr. Cookie Husband, 
There can be no mistake on the finality of Mr. Harry Allen Husband.  Because you seem to show a great amount of uninterest in his funds, I must continue on to seek another living member of the Husband surname with which to shower these riches.  I thank you for corresponding with me and bid you farewell
Mr. Anthony C. Gomez.
[Senior Attorney]

I am sure that this account will get hit with many more SPAM emails, and that the phone will continue to ring with hang ups, clicks and calls from robo dialers wanting to sell me car warrenties for cars that we sold long ago.

We live in a world right now where nothing seems like it is, just as Harry Allen Husband sits in my living room, speaking in a form of pigeon English that my mind cannot escape from.  So I'll need therapy, or at least counting my USD and wait for the next message in which someone will seek my bank account numbers to so I can receive a fortune from a far away land.

But at this moment, now if you will excuse me, but I have to get the phone.  It's Rachel from Card Member Services and you know how insistent she can be.