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Okay, commenter DiosaNegra1967 went and mentioned the totally brilliant Philadelphia dance show “Dancin’ on Air” prompting me to engage in a spate of intense nostalgia-driving web searching, resulting in this wonderfulness:

Things I love: In Deep, female-fronted 80s R&B dance groups, white dudes lip syncing rap breakdowns, Wayfarers, mullets, those dresses.

Here’s another clip featuring a local Philly band called Press that I include not so much for the music, but to provide an accurate visual of white people in the Delaware Valley area in the mid-80s. Yes, I had black leather fingerless gloves. And a perm. But really, we ALL had perms. See?

How awesome is Debora Iyall, lead singer of 80s post-punk group Romeo Void? Pretty fucking awesome, if you ask me. But see for yourself:

I love Pandora’s blurb on Romeo Void:

Thanks to the reductive onslaught of the “’80s party weekend” radio format and the numbing similarity of most ’80s hits compilations, hearing the name Romeo Void instantly conjures up the phrase “I might like you better if we slept together” in most minds. The unforgettable chorus of their best-known song, 1981’s “Never Say Never,” the phrase on its own makes the song sound like some kind of shock-value novelty, and indeed, that’s probably how many people remember it. Yet a careful listen to the verses, with their intimations of incest, murder, homelessness, and other dark subjects, makes plain that singer/lyricist Debora Iyall has more on her mind than simple salaciousness. The combination of Iyall’s powerful vocals and searing imagery with the band’s muscular blend of Joy Division’s atmospherics and the Gang of Four’s rattling momentum, with Benjamin Bossi’s splattering free jazz saxophone coloring everything, made Romeo Void one of the strongest of the American post-punk bands.

I personally was so awed by Romeo Void the first time I saw this video on Video Rock (any Delaware Valley people remember this show? It came on at 11 or 11:30 on weeknights and used Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” as a theme, over which a woman breathlessly intoned “It’s wild! It’s hot! It’s Video Rock!” Because back in the early 80s, videos totally WERE wild and hot!) that I quickly formed a totally useless band with some of my junior high classmates called Vandals of the Void, after the Harlan Ellison short story that I am pretty sure I have to this day never read.

Update: Paul at Big Fat Blog has a link to the full PDF of the paper, with the photos and everything. And the crossword puzzle.

I am one of those horrible snobs who, as a point of pride, refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Chicago Tribune’s terrible free commuter paper The Red Eye, unless I want to bolster my feelings of intellectual superiority by finishing the world’s third easiest crossword puzzle during my 20 minute bus commute (the first and second easiest being People Magazine and any airline’s in-flight mag, respectively) or unless there is something really fucking compelling on the cover. So it was no surprise that I missed this morning’s really fucking compelling cover until J called me to inform me that I should probably pick of a Red Eye because it featured “[my] precious Kate Harding” on the cover, as well as (my also precious) Paul McAleer and Colleen James on the inside:

Welcome to the Fat-osphere: Bloggers stop counting calories and start spreading the message–there’s nothing wrong with being fat.

Considering the source, the article is pretty good. Sure, author Leonor Vivanco quotes monomaniacal insane person Meme Roth and cites a few statistics about how being fat has a 100% mortality rate, but the article avoids diet tips and quotes a doc from UC and a prof from Northwestern who both espouse, in so many words, Health at Every Size: “‘You can be overweight and healthy as long as you’re exercising, eating a nutritious diet. . . . I think people who are more comfortable in their own skin are more likely to exercise, to take care of their bodies,’ [Sarah Catanese, instructor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine] said.”

The piece ends on a high note, quoting Kate as saying:

“You’re spending mental energy on hating yourself and trying to become a body type you’re not meant to be. . . . You’re wasting so much time and losing opportunities to go out and do things you love.”

Now, put that on a fridge magnet and stick it!

Kate and Paul both come across quite intelligent, charming, and inspirational, and COFRA gets a mention. Pretty Pear Colleen rocks out with her own “Plus-size phat [sic] fashion” sidebar.

Well done and congratulations, awesome Chicagoans! I guess you actually can polish a turd.

My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Sure, our first year together I bought him a wall mounted can crusher and maybe three years ago we went out to dinner because our favorite brunch place was having a prix fixe dinner deal, but those were both matters of timing moreso than any need to honor the day. When people ask why we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I usually mumble something semi-nonconfrontational about blind consumerism, and not liking to be told what to do, and being so willing to celebrate our love to each other for the remaining 364 days out of each year that we don’t feel compelled to conform to some hyper-gendered heteronormative courtship ritual just because a greeting card company tries to insinuate that our love is false if we don’t obey the February 14 card-and-chocolate-mandate. From now on, though I’m just going to hand the curious a print-out of Twisty’s most recent post “How cheap is your love?

I think I’m going to start a new blog. It will be like an opposite day combination of The Pretty Pear and Things I’ve Bought that I Love that will serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who thinks they can get away with owning two pairs of jeans* without an in-unit washer/dryer and I will call it Things I’ve Worn to the Laundromat. After two years in my neighborhood, I’d like to think that the locals are accustomed to my braless runs to Jewel for some last-minute breakfast necessity or my penchant for publicly folding my laundry dressed in my pajamas. Still, as I politely held the courtyard gate open for an incoming resident, despite being burdened by a giant laundry bag, she actually stood ankle-deep in slush and stared at the gauzy folds of my gaily printed sundress puffing out from under my giant Chicago-style down coat, worn over boot cut yoga pants stuffed haphazzardly into filthy fake-fleece lined boots until I said, gently and encouragingly, “Go ahead!” at which point she snapped out of her stunned silence and skittered past me through the gate and into the safety of her own apartment.

Speaking of things I’ve bought that I love, for the first time in my 23-year history of wearing glasses, I am soon to be the owner of not one, not two, but THREE pairs of eye glasses. The first pair is covered through my insurance so I just picked them out from the optical shop connected with my DO’s office. The other two I bought from Zenni Optical, a magic place that sells frames and lenses for, in some cases, EIGHT AMERICAN DOLLARS. I printed off the order page for a pair I wanted and brought it to my eye doctor to ask whether $8USD glasses would blind me and he assured me that the lenses had to be ground to spec. He was unable to assure me that they would not promptly fall apart, but for $8 I’m willing to take the chance. Actually, I bought one pair for $8 and one pair for $12.95, plus another $4.95 to turn them into sunglasses, which thereby marks the second time in my 23-year history of wearing glasses that I officially own prescription sunglasses (the first pair were lost in a tragic river tubing accident). It’s going to be hard to let go of the “giant cheap plastic glasses worn over my regular glasses” look, but maybe I can just save that for laundry day.

*Okay, I lied. I actually own four pairs of jeans, but three of them feel hideously uncomfortable right now and I’m saving the other pair for a visit to a friend on Saturday. Actually, for reasons that I suspect are largely hormonal, almost all of my clothes feel hideously uncomfortable right now. The nadir of my clothes comfort (or the pinnacle of my discomfort, depending on whether you’re a nadir of comfort or pinnacle of discomfort kind of person) occurred yesterday when I wore a Thing That I’d Bought That I Did Not Love, namely a new bra from Lane Bryant. I ordered it, which was dumb, but I was trying to pad my order to take advantage of a coupon and I had tried on some bras in the store not long ago so I thought I’d be safe. Well! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that said bras contained not just underwires, some diabolical sidewires that seemed to serve the sole function of making me absolutely miserable. Once I got home, I had the fucking thing off in about 0.0003 seconds and went at it with a seam ripper, only to excise this:

The plastic thing in my bra.

No, that is not a dental implement or an intestinal parasite (it’s no testament to my photography skills either). That was the once straight, totally superfluous piece of plastic in my bra. Through a combination of body heat and unstoppable side fat, the plastic in my bra molded into an instrument of torture that put me in a really bad mood all god damn day. I’m better now though.

In the summer of 2006, seven young Black lesbians from New Jersey—Patreese Johnson, Renata Hill, Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Chenese Loyal, Lania Daniels, and Khamysha Coates—were hanging out on the pier in New York City’s West Village when Dwayne Buckle, a man selling DVDs on the street, sexually propositioned Patreese. Refusing to take no for an answer, he followed them down the street, insulting and threatening them: “I’ll **** you straight, sweetheart!”

It is important to understand that all seven women knew of another young woman named Sakia Gunn, who had been stabbed to death under very similar circumstances—by a pair of highly aggressive, verbally abusive male strangers. At least some of the seven had known Sakia personally.During the resulting confrontation, Buckle first spat in Renata’s face and threw his lit cigarette at her, then he yanked another’s hair, pulling her towards him, and then began strangling Renata. A fight broke out, during which Patreese Johnson, 4 feet 11 inches tall and 95 pounds, produced a small knife from her bag to stop Buckle from choking her friend—a knife she carried to protect herself when she came home alone from her late-night job.

Two male onlookers, one of whom had a knife, ran over to physically deal with Buckle in order to help the women. Buckle, who ended up hospitalized for five days with stomach and liver lacerations, initially reported on at least two occasions that the men—not the women—had attacked him. What’s more, Patreese’s knife was never tested for DNA, the men who beat Buckle were never questioned by police, and the whole incident was captured on surveillance video. Yet the women ended up on trial for attempted murder. Dwayne Buckle testified against them.

The media coverage was savage, calling the women such things as a “wolf pack of lesbians.” The pro bono lawyers for the young lesbians would later have to buy the public record of the case since the judge, Edward J. McLaughlin (who openly taunted and expressed contempt for the women in front of the jury all throughout the trial), would not release it. As of late August 2007, the defense team still didn’t have a copy of the security camera video footage. And after the better part of one year spent sitting in jail, four of the seven women were sentenced in June 2007—reportedly by an all-white jury of mostly women—to jail terms ranging from 3 1/2 to 11 years. The oldest of the women was 24, and two of them are mothers of small children.

I’ve blogged about the New Jersey 4 before, but I’m ashamed to say I’ve let them slip away from my awareness. Brownfemipower posted info about a new website, Justice 4 the New Jersey 4, that provides information about the women’s case, links to contact the women in jail, and information on how you can help.

Tomorrow being Super Tuesday and all, and me living in Chicago where politics is everybody’s favorite full contact sport, particularly since all of our real sports teams suck, I thought I might share some helpful Chicago-specific election day links.

First, the awkwardly named Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners for the City of Chicago. If you enter a partial address on this page the site will return your polling place, all of your various and sundry wards and districts and precincts and sub-circuits, and most awesomely, you can generate a sample ballot for your particular polling location that will list every candidate for whom you can vote. (And while you’re at it, once you know your ward, go to the City Clerk of Chicago’s website and find out who your alderperson is so you know who to call and holler at the next time it snows and nobody bothers to shovel the sidewalks.)

Next head over to Vote for Judges.  Judicial and retention elections are kind of a joke, I know, because you’re minding your business and doing your civic duty trying to vote for this that or the other thing and your ballot is ten feet long because there are 500,000 people you’ve never heard of who are up for judicial retention election so you either skip ’em or just vote to retain them all. While that’s understandable, we’ve got to do better. Judges have a considerable amount of power over your daily life, so you want to do your best to ensure that qualified and, as far as I’m concerned, bone-deep progressives are on the bench. At Vote for Judges, you can print a handy grid of the candidates and their judicial evaluations by local, regional, and minority bar associations. Consult the Grid to find out how your favorite bar associations evaluated the judges on your ballot and vote accordingly so that when you find yourself on the wrong end of a gavel, the person presiding over your trial isn’t some loony pants right-wing hate mongering legal ignoramus.

Then, you can also go to the Chicago Tribune’s Election Guide, put in your address, and faux-vote for all the candidates on your ballot. When you’re finished, you can print the completed ballot and take it in to the booth with you.

To help you decide, here are some endorsements and resources from local papers:

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Sun Times

Chicago Free Press

The Chicago Reader’s Clout City Blog

And here is my one endorsement: I think you should vote for Tommy Brewer as the Democratic candidate for State’s Attorney. Here’s the Chicago Defender’s endorsement of Brewer, and here’s a good article about him in the Reader.

And when it’s all over, if you think there’s been some shenanigans at your polling place, call the National Campaign for Fair Election’s Election Protection Hotline at  866-OUR-VOTE.