Friday, May 23, 2008

The Day's "Crack Me Up" Moment #2

The best email spam I have ever received arrived today. It was totally blank, except for one line, which simply read:

Your life is crap.

The Day's "Crack Me Up" Moment #1

With regards to the announcement that the NFL was now going to make a concerted effort to fight the poor and unruly behavior of football fans at games, JS replied:

Well, that sounds like fighting the "war on terror."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vacation in Another Nation.

On Friday, J and I took off for the Twin Cities to partake in some much-needed R&R. I distributed the diss to my committee on Friday (oh yeah, forgot to mention that!), and she finished up her hellish teaching semester. Conveniently, one of our favorite sports teams, the good ole' Boston Red Sox, were in town for a four game series against the Minn Twins. Of course, if you follow sports at all, you know how the BoSox did. Not so much, but that's okay. It was just great to be in the actual ballpark with them, cheering them on, seeing all their preparation ticks live, shouting "Yoooouuuk!" in person, and seeing Manny hit home run #498! Besides, even though they didn't do so hot, they put up a great fight, and the games were anything but boring.

But I also experienced something else for the first time, in that I actually got a glimpse of what Red Sox Nation is all about. All weekend I kept having interactions (some very brief) with other individuals purely because I was visually a Red Sox fan (I wore my jersey and well-worn black Sox cap). And Sox fans were out in force in The Cities this weekend. In fact, I would estimate that there were almost an equal number of Sox and Twins fans in the Metrodome each night. This, of course, did not make the Twins fans happy, and they kept reminding us of it all weekend (booing our cheers of "Let's Go, Red Sox!," throwing Crisp's and Lowell's home run balls back on the field, taunting us anywhere they could find us, etc.).

But, this only seemed to make Red Sox Nation feel closer and more obligated to acknowledge each other in this hostile foreign "Twins Territory". For instance, there was the guy at the bus stop, who offered us help with navigating the public transit (he was wearing a Sox cap) and asked if we were in town for the games. Then there were all the other "visually Sox" fans at the games, who would either smile, nod, or even greet me as I passed them in the corridors. This happened at venues outside of the game as well, such as the mall, museums, and restaurants. Our hotel also appeared to be a common residence for many of the out-of-town fans, and we often would briefly greet each other in the hallways. And just to point out - I am not jumping to conclusions, this does NOT normally happen to me! People generally ignore (or are rude to) me.

It was a cool feeling to connect with others over our common interest, and of course, the academic in me was reminded of Henry Jenkins' theories on fandom and knowledge communities. In his most recent book, Convergence Culture, he talks about how popular culture fandom sometimes brings very different people together, who would otherwise have no reason to interact. He believes that if we could find other ways to do this over more serious social and political issues that we might harness a very powerful resource.

This weekend I more concretely visualized what Jenkins was talking about. Many of these people would never acknowledge me in my normal daily life, but suddenly in this moment, they found it important to not only greet me, but align themselves with me. Did it matter that I was a radical, lefty, queer academic? Nope - I was a Red Sox fan!

If only the rest of life was this simple...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Uh Huh Her Live at ... The Planet?

J and I went to see Leisha Hailey's (formerly The Murmurs and Gush and yes, Alice from The L Word) new band, Uh Huh Her, last night at a place called the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown, Minneapolis. It was pretty cool to see a live show again. We actually haven't been to one in quite a long time, which is quite strange for me. It was just nice being in a hip crowd of people, listening to trendy, indie music. There is so little of any of that here in SC. It also didn't hurt that the majority of the crowd appeared to be queer.

And here is where my moment of disorientation comes in. The Varsity Theater is an ambiance-filled place to see a show. It has lots of leather and velvet furniture lining its perimeter; the ceiling is complete with disco balls, holiday lights, and chandeliers; and there are two bars with a decent (and fairly reasonably-priced) selection of beverages. It was actually more like someone's living room, than a rock club. Now add to this the fact that almost the entire audience actually looked like the cast of The L Word. I'm not exaggerating, here. When we first walked in, I was speechless because I actually thought I had somehow been transported into the show's Planet or SheBar. It was incredibly surreal.

So, here lies the irony as I finish my dissertation: A significant number of the viewers I discuss talk about how no one looks like the women on the show and that "real" lesbian life is not like that. But apparently, when that "real" lesbian community wasn't looking, it suddenly did begin to look like that show and those women. Generally, the women at this gig were younger - probably coming to their identity through The L Word, and this type of image-construction is not unprecedented, by any means, within queer culture. (Women in the 50s modeled themselves after Radclyffe Hall and the 90s brought the Riot Grrrl/Alterna-chick image.)

But, it's still a bit strange for me and this project. It doesn't contradict my conclusions or anything, just adds a new element that I'll have to address at some point.

Perhaps we all want to live in The L Word so bad, that we now do. I guess there are worse least it should be an absurdly fun ride!