If your week has been going anything like mine, then perhaps you’ve already found yourself a bucket of ice water and started Googling where to find a beach that is within driving distance and won’t be crowded.
This past weekend, my husband and I went on a quick mini-vacation to Colonial Williamsburg and while it was almost unbearably hot, it was also very empty. If you are local to the east coast and haven’t been, I would definitely recommend going to visit (and stopping at The Lazy Pig BBQ and/or Buz and Ned’s for BBQ because you know that we definitely went to both…)
Anyways, here were my top five from the week. As always, I’m interested in what you noticed this past week.
1. True Crime Podcasts.Whenever I travel, I like to listen to either a book on tape or I read aloud to my husband. While recent read-aloud favorites have included The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Program by Suzanna Young. We have also listened to Serial and S-Town. But, on our most recent adventure, we listened to Dirty John, an Award winning drama following the true story of Debra Newell, “a successful interior designer. She meets John Meehan, a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they get entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival. Reported and hosted by Christopher Goffard from the L.A. Times.” About 4-5hrs long, this story was riveting, disturbing and enthralling.
On the way home, we found ourselves listening to In the Dark Season 1, an award winning investigative report by APM Reports which follows the child abduction of Jacob Wetterling. An important and enlightening investigative documentary, this podcast has trigger warnings and reveals “how enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation’s sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving effectiveness and accountability.”
2. Old Spiritual Favorites. Do you ever have a song come back to you at exactly the right time and speak to you? Okay, melodramatic, sure, but I heard this old song, “We are Soldiers in the Army” this past weekend, and I was struck again by the phrase “holding up the blood stained banner.” While the linked out version of the song uses “hold up the freedom banner,” another version goes like this: we are soldiers in the army/we have to fight although we have to cry/ we have to hold up the blood stained banner/ we have to hold it up until we die. I was reminded yet again how bloody the banner is as I reflected on the march to end family separation.
3. The recent police tazing in Lancaster City has left me with a multitude of emotions, but not one of shock. If you haven’t seen the video, you can click hereto access. The Lancaster Police statement regarding the incident can be accessed here.
4. Fete en Blanc. Okay. So, time to unload my unpopular opinion. Fete en blanc & white privilege. I know, I know it’s just a party, right? And, it’s inclusive, right? And, what right do I have to comment because I’ve never attended, right? Sure, while all of those are, perhaps, valid arguments, I think it’s important to investigate the illusionary façade of inclusiveness. While some critics have donned the worldwide Dinner en Blanc sensation as pretentious snobbery and defenders of the event quoted oh, you know, the Poet Laureate Taylor Swift with some version of haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate….I think one of the more problematic elements of Dinner en Blanc is that it remains exclusive vis a vis the process of becoming ‘in the know’ about the event. Fete en Blanc and, arguably, most Dinner en Blanc’s remain exclusive because it’s an elitist event buoyed by timed entrances, high prices and bring your own white everything.
While the timing of this year’s Fete en Blanc was perhaps unfortunate in regard to the March to End Family Seperation and the tazing event in Lancaster, I also think it is important to consider socio-economic factors like gentrification, increased poverty and police brutality and juxtapose them with a very public, very white party.
Perhaps, I’m bitter. Perhaps other people are bitter which is why the Ce Soir Noir was created. Or perhaps it is important to question the let them eat cake parties. With a 29% poverty level, Lancaster City has a higher poverty level than Philadelphia (25% as reported 9/2017), and New York City (19.5% as reported 4/2018). And sure, whom are these parties hurting? Everyone’s going to have an opinion about everything, right? And, after all – maybe I would change my mind if I went…right? But, while parties are fun, and partying in large public spaces invites public commentary, I think it is also important to consider the very real power and privilege structures required to have access to such parties and what it would mean to consider rethinking whom has access.
What if instead of putting the event online with timed ticket slots, the event was publicly announced and scholarships were offered? What if ticket slots honored a varied work schedule? (ie – instead of only having ticket times at 9AM, 10AM, 11AM, 12PM and 1PM, ticket times were also offered in the evening and at a specific physical location?).Part of the “fun” of Fete en Blanc is not knowing when or where the event will be held until the day of, but this “totally fetch” piece of fun is, in itself, a function of privilege.
Consider: If you have a job that requires asking off ahead of time and if you have kids that would require a babysitter, etc., then the event is no longer inclusive but exclusive. If you require public transportation, then most likely – unless your bus driver allows a table, chairs, etc., on the bus, this event is exclusive.
And, the framework of the event is built on an exclusive model: limited capacity; timed entrances; public spectacle; grandeur for grandeur; and inaccessibility.
But that’s what makes it fun. Right? Okay, so that was all for #boniruinseverything. But really, Lancaster. Let’s get it together.
5. Home Fires (2015) by PBS Masterpiece has quickly become one of my favorite TV Shows. And, believe me – I loved Downton! Unfortunately, the series was cut after the second season so much of the plot remains unresolved. But quick, witty, heartbreaking and hilarious, Home Fires follows the “story of a rural English Village on the verge of WWII.” The show is available to watch on Amazon Prime.