Archives for Race
When I was a teenager in a predominately Jewish girls’ summer camp, we had a little joke: For your sweet sixteen, you got either a pearl ring or a nose job. Several friends opted for the nose. I didn’t, although my nose is no less prominent than theirs were. I like my nose just fine. I have a nose like my mother had and my father had and my brother has. And my grandfather had, for that matter, although I am glad I didn't get his ears. One might even say we have Jewish noses, if one says it with affection, as I do, though many people don’t. (I have a name for people like that. And here’s an interesting article about the term “Jewish nose” in the Journal of the American Medical Association.) I’ve always been grateful to Barbra Streisand for keeping her nose. It’s a proud nose, a trademark nose. Cher broke my heart a little when she had her nose shaved down to something more pert. She lost a lot of what made her look like her. I saw Dolly Parton perform the other night. It was an outstanding evening (here’s my review) but I was troubled through the entire show because Dolly no longer looks like Dolly. I kept waiting for her to take off her mask and be Dolly again. She jokes about her surgery, but when she said something about being a “show horse” and having to keep up her appearance, I felt sad. Joan Rivers also makes me sad. Meg Ryan makes me sad. Kenny Rogers makes me sad. Melanie Griffith makes me sad.
What an interesting few days I’ve had. I write about various topics in my work, including music. Last week, I wrote a blog post for a local newsweekly’s website in which I was critical of a local band. It had snarky moments—Dallas/Fort Worth, where I live, is a snarky media market. But it had a point, and I didn’t accuse anyone of kicking puppies or eating babies or anything. I expected a rough-and-tumble response. I thought I knew what I was getting into. Being called bitchy, perhaps. An F-bomb or two, since I threw one myself. But one of the members of the band is a delicate blossom who also happens to be on a hugely popular afternoon drive-time radio show. And although his show’s stock-in-trade is snarky, Delicate Blossom was devastated by my criticism. He was so upset that he ranted first on his Facebook page, and then on the air. I have avoided direct contact with both of his rants because I’m busy and a little neurotic and I don’t have time be thrown off my game any more than necessary. But I do know the gist of what he said, and the words “fat old bitch” are involved. Also “ugly.” Obviously, I have nothing but disdain for anyone with so little imagination that the only way he can argue is Neanderthal slurs. And I’m puzzled that anyone so thin-skinned is in show business. I tried to shrug this off as just the little crybaby hissyfit it is. Except it’s not.
Consider the dotty old aunt who comes to family reunions and blurts things others might think but would never say. Things like, “You don’t need that second piece of cake.” Or “You’ll never get a job dressed like a hoochie mama,” or “Is that a toupee or a dead squirrel on your head?” Usually, a beat of shocked silence is followed by nervous chatter about anything else while the person critiqued dies a thousand deaths and silently vows never to attend a family gathering again. But what if Aunt Dotty actually speaks useful truths? She might be dead on with both her assessment and subsequent advice, according to a charming study published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. We know that decline in the brain’s executive function (EF) often results in lowered inhibitions, generally not considered a good thing. But this research finds an upside to lowered inhibitions.