Tuesday, April 17, 2012

it's a man's world

this week, a gentleman by the name of sacha heppel went head-to-head with more than 200 females, vying for a spot as a coveted denver bronco cheerleader. despite a lack of formal dance experience (though he reportedly performed as a sign-twirler for a local business), sacha shook what his momma's gave him, daring to achieve his dream to become the first male bronco cheerleader.

so, why does young sacha want to be a bronco cheerleader? "first, i strongly respect the broncos and am a huge fan. and second, i love to dance. i love expression. i lose myself in the music. i'm not as experienced as some of the girls -- i only started hip-hop lessons a couple months ago -- but I just love it." and audition he did!

according to the broncos' director of cheerleaders, the auditions are an open call that anyone can come out for, with all final decisions based solely on the applicants dance ability. what about the females auditioning? were they upset that sacha was there? to the contrary! the females applicants were supportive and encouraged him (atta girls!). sadly, sacha didn't make it this year, but he is hopeful for next year!

interestingly, this story of a male entering what has typically been viewed as a traditionally all-girls club, comes only a few weeks after the 2012 masters where gender was a topic of discussion.

augusta national, the exclusive golf club which hosts the masters each year, has traditionally given membership to the ceos of the tournament's three corporate sponsors. the problem? since opening its doors in 1933, this private club has never granted membership to a woman and now, ibm (one of the corporate sponsors) is now lead by female ceo, ginni rometty - who by the way, does play golf. (it's worth noting that this is not the first time the club has drawn attention because of its exclusivity; they refused to admit black members until 1990 and had a former policy requiring all caddies to be black.) needless to say, declining to offer a membership to the new ceo says loud and clear "no girls allowed."

my point, and i do have one is...isn't this some world we live in when men are allowed to audition to be nfl cheeleaders, but a female ceo still can't sit at the boys table at a golf club when her company is a corporate sponsor of the masters? it was said that in 2008 hillary clinton left 18 million cracks in the country's largest glass ceiling. maybe by the time a woman is elected the leader of free world, she will also be allowed to be a member of augusta national…just sayin’. what’s your point?

Monday, September 5, 2011

never forget

it's been nearly a decade since our country faced one of the worst events in modern history, 9/11. on that day ten years ago, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents and friends did not come home. the world was forever altered.

i was just telling my best friend, as we discussed this somber anniversary, that one of the things i remember most from the days and months that followed 9/11 was the sense of overwhelming humanity. while i can't speak to the rest of the country, in new york (and the tri-state region), there was an understood camaraderie...an unspoken feeling that we are all amercians and we have each other’s backs. i remember thinking, if this is the one good thing that comes from this horrible event, what a wonderful legacy that would be. then tonight, i watched the cnn special, "unwelcome: the muslims next door" and my heart and hopes dropped.

part of the nashville metropolitan area, murfreesboro has a population of approx. 108,755 (according to the 2010 u.s. census). cnn states that murfreesboro has had a healthy muslim community for quite some time. as a matter of fact, right after 9/11 those muslims interviewed in the special said they were approached by neighbors reassuring them that they know not all muslims were involved with terrorism. as the muslim community increased in this area, they slowly out grew their house of worship. they did some fund raising among their members and raised enough money to purchase land to build a new 52,000-square-foot structure with a mosque, gym, playground and cemetery. (i don't need to tell you what came next, do i?)

just as quickly as they prepared their plans, the backlash followed. this included lawsuits, a fire that, according to cnn, "destroyed construction equipment and damaged vehicles at the construction site for the mosque,” (the police declared it arson) and the defamation of a sign at the front of the property with the words "not welcome" sprayed across it. additionally, during the taping of one of the segments, gunfire was heard on the plot of land. throughout the special, the legitimacy of the islamic/muslim beliefs as a religion is called into play (hence waiving the first amendment). as the huffington post explains, the opposition's positions sounded reminiscent of claims made by people against desegregation, "you hear opponents make claims like, 'they want to disrupt our way of life. they want to kill us. they beat their women. they're not like us.'"

the judge in the case ultimately ruled in favor of the islamic center and recently upheld his ruling stating: “those who are adherents to islam are entitled to pursue their worship in the united states just as are those who are adherents to more universally established faiths (in our community)."

the very first amendment of the u.s. constitution reads in part: "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." why was this is the first one out of the box? because it was the one that our founding fathers believed the most in. yet here we are today with people going to extremes to "protect" their cities from neighbors who have differing beliefs from their own. it sometimes seems like 9/11 gave people with these types of stereotypes and excuse for their bigotry.

it's not that long ago a country murdered millions of jews because they had different religious beliefs and were therefore something that needed to be eradicated. additionally, in our own country, fears of the japanese during world war ii cause many (including japanese-americans) to be held in internment camps. (if put to a vote after 9/11 how many would have sadly said yes to muslim internment camps?) and it is already sneaking into our next presidential campaign. recently, chris wallace of fox news interviewed presidential candidate herman cain about the issue in murfreesboro. wallace asked cain if any community has the right to ban mosques? his answer was yes. he said: "yes, they have the right to do that. that’s not discriminating based upon religion – against their particular religion – there is an aspect of them building that mosque; and the people in the community know what it is and they’re talking about it." (cain went on to justify his statement that he would not hire a muslim for his cabinet, saying that is different from people discriminating against blacks during civil rights because he is erring on the side of caution. here are the clips from the interview).

my point, and i do have one is...who are we? ten year after 9/11 is the america we now live in a better place than before? can’t we be patriotic without being discriminatory? do we stand more firmly in our country's core beliefs? or are we using them because we are scared? i am humbled by the men and women of our military who put their lives on the line for not just our freedom, but the rights of all people who long to be free from oppression...yet right at home the oppression for some continues. while our military is fighting overseas, don't we owe it to them to be able to return to a country free of oppression for all?

next weekend, i will challenge myself to honor those taken too soon by re-finding the basic humanity i felt the days following the attack…as i still believe that would be the greatest legacy. what's your point?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

patriotically conflicted

on september 11, 2001, i was fortunate to not be downtown, but i vividly remember being in times square wondering if my location was the next area to be attacked? i remember watching fire trucks heading toward the towers on the west side highway to an uncertain future, while i waited on a two-hour line for a ferry to new jersey, to reunite with my brother and friends. i remember sitting with billy, stephanie and lou on sinatra drive in hoboken looking at what is now called ground zero, as it burned...our beautiful skyline became sad that day, never to be the same. i remember staying up all night watching the news while my brother slept on my couch because if the lincoln or holland tunnels were the next targets (as some were speculating at the time), their destruction would mean my first floor apartment would flood and we would need to get to higher ground immediately. i was profoundly sad, angry, scared and wished that that, in retaliation, as an act of war,we took out osama bin laden. now, nearly a decade later, bin laden's death, paired with the country's reaction has left me patriotically conflicted.

mark twain once wrote: "i've never wished a man dead, but i have read some obituaries with great pleasure." am i sorry bin laden is dead? no. will i mourn the death of a terrorist who murdered thousands of innocent people? absolutely not. after president obama gave his speech the other night, i found the coverage of the crowd outside the white house singing the national anthem very moving. for the first time since the days following september 11, the words took on more meaning than merely signaling the beginning of a baseball game. but quickly, it seemed to turn into a full on celebration of bin laden's death. it was sheer revelry...partying in the streets, toasting with liquor, applauding his death at national tv shows like the view.

i remember on september 11 and 12, 2001 watching news video of oversea "evil-doers" having similar celebrations in their streets over the tumbling of the twin towers, the destruction at the pentagon and the horror in pennsylvania and thinking, i can't believe those sons of bitches are celebrating! what kind of heartless people celebrate death? now, i can hear you saying: "but that's different, bin laden was evil and the people killed on 9/11 were innocent." that is true, i'm not arguing that point, but instead saying from a perception perspective...shouldn't we act better than them?

some of my friends have said that when they first heard bin laden was dead they felt exhilaration...not me. i felt a resurgence of fear. how long before they retaliate? where will that be? ny or dc again? maybe a smaller town? what about americans overseas? now, maybe it's the publicist in me, but in a time and age of instant communication, why would we want to taunt unstable terrorist type people with a celebration of their "leader's" death?

my point, and i do have one is...now more than ever, we should act like the civilized people we portray ourselves to be. is this how the supposed standard bearers of justice behave? according to jack cloonan, a former fbi special agent, my fears aren't unfounded. he told the huffington post "the reasons they hate us have not subsided and [these celebrations] could reinvigorate things."

nearly ten years later, the scars from september 11th still exist. some are public, like the gaping hole that to this day remains at ground zero…some less visible, like the continued pain felt by those who will forever mourn the loss of their fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends. many first responders are sick and dying from what they inhaled at the ground zero pile, fighting for health care they so desperately need. i personally think everyone lost a little bit of their innocence that day, i know i did.

as a proud native new yorker and american, i make no bones about hating bin laden as well as the people who fulfilled his vision. but celebrating nearly a decade later over our taking him out, just leaves me feeling uneasy. if we want to celebrate anything, how about instead we focus all our energy on celebrating and honoring our troop's heroism and bravery?

my friend marc posted a quote from dr. martin luther king jr. on his facebook wall that, i think expresses says what i feel more eloquently than i ever could: "i mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

what's your point?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"honk if i need an education"

ronda holder, a 33 year old mother of six, had it up to here with her 15-year old, whose grades have been less than stellar. after her son, james, brought home his 1.22 gpa, holder made him stand on a street corner for nearly four hours with a sign that said “my name is james w. mond iii. i did 4 questions on my f-cat and said I wasn't going to do it! gpa 1.22... honk if i need [an] education."

this wasn’t holder's first attempt to make james realize the importance of keeping his grades up. according to the associated press, both holder and james’ father “offered help, asked to see homework, grounded and lectured him and confiscated his cell phone.” frustrated when those measures didn't work, holder decided to try sheer embarrassment. she was quoted as saying, “until he straightens up his grades and gets his education on track, he’s going to work this corner...[embarrassment] is the best thing. [james] don’t like to get embarrassed.” tv crews caught many cars honking in support of james getting more education.

this whole experience has had a definite impact on young james. “i felt crazy,” he told the st. petersburg times, “it’s embarrassing....she was trying to teach me a lesson. i should have been working harder than i was in school.” since neither holder, nor james' father, graduated high school, this extreme act was her ultimate plea in defense of her child's education. she said, “i don’t want any of my kids to stand by the side of the road asking for change.”

but not everyone thinks this side-of-the-road antic is much better. a psychologist told fox 13 in florida that "embarrassment and shame is not really healthy for a young person's mind growing up." additionally, according to an article in forbes, psychologists typically think extreme parenting, like this, is not only “humiliating and ineffective,” but also mentally abusive. they went on to say that a representative from florida's department of children and families thinks that punishment like this "might legally be considered a form of maltreatment."

my point, and i do have one is....while humorous on the surface, i find this story quite sad. not because james was "humiliated" but because at the core of this story, in my opinion, is a parent crying out for help. so often we hear people say that parents who aren't engaged in their children’s education are a big part of why the system often fails. well, here you have a mother who, despite having a lot of kids at a very young age and limited education of her own, is trying to do right by her son...trying to compel him in every way she knows how, to achieve more educationally than she did. i would imagine it’s just as shameful and embarrassing for her to publicly announce that her child is failing school, yet she believed that this, non-traditional (and admittedly controversial) approach, was the price to pay for another attempt to reach her son. while i don't know that this was the best approach, i applaud her for her action in doing something and for staying engaged.

what’s your point?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

(girl scout) cookie monster

the mission of the girl scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. well, clearly, hersah howard, of florida, was never a scout. believing her roommate ate the last of her thin mint girl scout cookies, howard allegedly ravaged the apartment and attacked her.

according to police, howard, who was in a rage about the missing thin mints, woke roommate, jasmin wanke, in the middle of the night on sunday. after arguing a bit, wanke claims howard (who according to police weighs in at about 400 pounds) proceeded to jump on her and hit her in the face. wanke's husband pulled them apart, but that didn't stop howard, she proceeded to chase wanke with a pair of scissors, only to then pick up a board and hit her. according to the associated press, "the fight [then] moved into the kitchen, where howard allegedly hurled her heft at wanke again. as they fought, howard bit wanke's breast and struck her several times."

after being torn apart yet again by wanke's husband, the police arrived and charged howard with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. she was released monday on $10,000 bail. wanke claims that she didn't eat the yummy chocolate-coated mint wafers (the most popular of the girl scout cookies) but instead fed them to howard's kids at around 1 a.m. when the children said they were hungry. (really??)

my point and i do have one, is....let’s be honest, shall we? girl scout cookies are a little like crack that is allowed to be legally distributed in offices by pre-adolescent dealers. once a year our friends and colleagues allow their darling little dealers, i mean daughters, to come around and take orders. everyone tends to buy at least one box, not just because we want to support the young ladies in their efforts to raise money, but because we know it will be a whole year before we will get to purchase the good stuff again. and everyone's order process is similar, you get one box of thin mints ('cause that's just a given, right?) and then you add at least one other variety (my preference, the yummy peanut butter).

so, when you break it down to the basics, girlfriend realized her thin mint stash was gone, so like any good crack/cookie head does, she went a little charlie sheen and beat down the person she thought stole it. how has it taken this long for this to happen?? what's your point?

Friday, January 21, 2011

a very un-"happy ending" (in so many ways)

ahhh vegas, the city littered with so many broken hearts and dreams. think you have heard them all? let me introduce you to young hubert blackman, who has filed a $1.8 million lawsuit against an escort service in vegas because one of their girls didn't spend enough time making him happy.

according to the las vegas times, while on vacation, this new york college student hired an escort from exclusive personals to come to his hotel room for a "date." while he was apparently satisfied with the quality of this woman's work, the quantity quickly became a point of contention.

here are the undisputed facts: the woman performed a lap dance (for $155) and a sex act (for another $120). the issue became the length of her "performance." hubert claims while she was commissioned for a one-hour period, she left after just 30 minutes. dissatisfied, he called the escort service to demand his money back (he also supposedly told them he had been too drunk at the time of the services to make an informed agreement with the dancer). needless to say, they said no (i'm guessing they said no while laughing hysterically, but i digress.)

so what did he do next? hubert did whatever sane thinking person does when the prostitution service they paid for isn't up to snuff, he called the cops! the vegas police promptly informed him that prostitution is illegal and that he could be arrested. (fun fact: while prostitution is indeed illegal in sin city, certain counties have legalized it, hence places like the bunny ranch being able to offer legal brothel service - sharing is caring.)

now before you think this story is over, let me remind you that hubert is a new yorker and a couple of no's won't stop us from seeking justice so richly deserved! upon returning to new york, he promptly filed a suit in manhattan criminal court, claiming he needed medical treatment for the clearly traumatic event, stating: "an escort did an illegal sexual act on me during her paid service to me...i almost had gotten arrested...i would like the court to close the business. i also would like to get my $275 payment back and a $1.8 million verdict for the tragic event that happened."

my point, and i do have one is...wow, hubert, the "tragic event" that happened is that you have now become a national laughing stock! so young and so stupid...so sad. my wish for hubert is that he forgets manhattan criminal court and instead brings the case before judge judy or the people's court so the rest of us see this case through with him!

what’s your point?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


in a previous blog, i introduced you to peter and alisha arnold, the couple who wanted you to decide if they should keep or abort their pregnancy. since that post, they have confirmed the premise of the site was not real. according to a cnn article, they created the website as a way to "stimulate conversation about the politically charged subject" of abortion.

peter arnold claims he got the url birthornot.com before his wife got pregnant and this was actually something he had been mulling around for a while. in regards to the request for america to help choose the fate of their pregnancy, they said they "chose their words carefully because abortion was never [really] on the table."

in addition to the negative press and public outrage of their site, in a turn they didn't foresee (really?), alisha arnold lost her job due to all the brouhaha. according to kstp-tv, her bosses thought she was a threat to the company's reputation. they even asked employees to de-friend her on facebook.

my point, and i do have one is....in the tv special rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, we learned about the island of misfit toys, a sanctuary where defective and unwanted toys were sent. i think the time has come for an island of misfit parents, created specifically for those who use their children (or in this case unborn child) to help grab their 15-minutes of fame.

now, i'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill famous parents who are no doubt bad influences on their children like...say...courtney love or oj simpson. on my island of misfit parents, the arnolds would join residents such as dina and michael lohan, octomom, the parents of balloon boy and any maury guest who has been on more than two times (each time with two or more guys) to try and "figure out" who their baby-daddy is. ladies and gentlemen, meet your modern day mommie and daddy dearests. make no mistake about it, while they may not be beating their kids with wire hangers they are leaving marks on their children and society. when will the madness stop? what is your point?


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