Podcast You Should Be Listening To: Pod Save America

Four former Obama staffers walk into a podcast recording studio. Then Donald Trump wins the presidential election. That’s it. That’s the joke.

We live in an era in which podcasting is in a golden age – ever since Serial, it seems like the cool thing to do now is either start a podcast (LOL I HAVE ONE LISTEN TO IT PLS) or have a never ending queue of podcasts you listen to on the regular. Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite pods that get top priority in my app – here’s the DL on literal chart topper Pod Save America.

What’s It All About

A no-bullshit conversation about politics. This is a podcast for people not yet ready to give up or go insane.

If you’re a person who is frustrated with the way this current administration is handling the state of our nation, this podcast is for you. Twice a week, these White House alums discuss U.S. politics through a progressive, liberal lens, so if you have a problem with that, this podcast is probably not for you.

The Hosts

Jon Favreau (no, not that one) is the lead host/moderator of the pod. He was the Director of Speechwriting during President Obama’s first term, and worked for Barry dating back to his days in the Senate. Unrelatedly, he dated Rashida Jones back in the day, and that’s how I first heard of him. The hot Obama speechwriter who once dated Rashida Jones.

Jon Lovett also worked alongside Favreau as a speechwriter during the Obama era, and prior to that, wrote for John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. After he left the White House, he pursued a career as a screenwriter, and together with Josh Gad and Jason Winer, they created and wrote short-lived sitcom 1600 Penn, which was truly the best show you weren’t watching and got cancelled way before it should have been. He also wrote and served as an advisor on The Newsroom, and just kicked off his own spin-off podcast, Lovett or Leave It.

Tommy Vietor worked with Obama since the Senate, and in the White House, Tommy was his spokesperson, as well as the spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council. Like Lovett, he also has a spin-off pod called Pod Save the World, which focuses on global issues and policymaking decisions.

Dan Pfeiffer was a Senior Advisor to Obama for Strategy and Communications, rounding out this fraternity of Obama bros. Dan also worked on Gore’s presidential campaign, as well as various senators throughout the years.

They’re Not N00bs

Pod Save America is actually the result of the foursome’s very successful podcast, Keepin’ it 1600, which focused on the 2016 presidential election. It was praised as one of the best podcasts of 2016, and garnered a huge fan following. Because of their success, Favs, Lovett and Tommy started their own podcast network, Crooked Media, and Pod Save America became the first podcast under their new network. Needless to say, they’re not amateur podcasters.

And They’re Not Political N00bs, Either

Because these guys have had years of experience in Washington, it’s not like they’re randos who are just giving their POVs on the week’s current events after only having read one article on Vox.com. The know their shit. In fact, it’s what makes their podcast a bit better than the rest. They’re experts who are giving us insider information on how an administration worked, how it should work, and what the current one is doing “wrong”. As someone who follows politics, but not enough to know all the intricacies of it, it’s extremely informative, but not condescending or pretentious. They’re also funny, so don’t expect a straight up news podcast, either.

The Guests Are No Joke

Keepin’ It 1600 had been on my queue for months, but I just never got around to it. So when Barack Obama sat down for his final interview as president with these guys, I obviously had to tune in. BTW, that ep is a good starting point if you need a gateway drug! Every episode features a special guest in the second half (after the hosts talk about the overall current events in the first half), and every single person so far has been impressive and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. For example, when DT first laid down a whole bunch of Executive Orders (like the travel ban), former White House lawyer Danielle Gray came on the pod to discuss the legalities of his EOs, while Obama’s former Deputy Chief of Staff and Health Care Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle discussed Trumpcare. Other guests include former chief strategist David Axelrod, another chief speechwriter, Cody Keenan, and A Closer Look’s Seth Meyers.

They Promote Activism

Sure you can listen to the podcast and feel like you’re helping to fight the cause. And you are, just by learning about what’s happening in the WH shitshow, but obviously there’s more work to be done. The hosts of the pod make it a point to share resources and encourage listeners to be active in politics and local government, whether it be which Congressman/woman to call for the Issue of the Week, or when to attend town halls to give your reps a piece of your mind. They have a list of resources on their website but you should probably just listen to the pod to get all the details.

Listen to new episodes of Pod Save America every Monday and Thursday [subscribe here]

 

Sister Act 2 Is Our Aesthetic

Sister Act 2 is the closest thing I’ll get to a time machine to my childhood. I’m definitely not from San Francisco, but I grew up going to Catholic schools and living in the “inner city” in the 1990s — so, pretty damn close. It’s also pure proof that the ’90s fashion revival is warranted. Those fashionable teens are still cooler than me at 30, just like they were in 1993 when I was 7. Our previous aesthetic posts include The Holiday (winter), Matilda (Back To School) and The Witches (Halloween). It’s been a while, so let’s get back in the habit (SORRY).

Lauryn Hill At Full Lauryn Hill

Just had to discuss this right out the gate. Lauryn Hill will always be the ultimate teen vocal/rap/songwriter sensation, even though she’s a grandma now (yeah. I feel old too. Remember To Zion? He’s a dad!). Sister Act 2 marks the musical moment when His Eye Is On The Sparrow entered all our favorite hymn lists. Sister Mary Round-Brush Bangs is right. Please don’t stop.

Everyone’s Under-Choir Robe Outfits

When the instruction comes to take off the choir robes, my teen reaction would’ve been “oh, no.” That’s because if I was wearing a choir robe, underneath I’d have on either something boring and schlubby, or something that was guaranteed not to peek out from the gown. These kids are in their full 1993 mall-outfit best. The two young ladies at far left ALONE. They look like they crawled off of 2017 tumblr and onto the screen.

 Specifically Lauryn Hill’s Outfit

It’s not so much that it’s classic – those mom jeans would’ve been majorly out of style for a good decade plus – but that this outfit has completely circled back into looking current again.

How The Choir Room Is Some Sort Of Attic

You keep waiting for the scene where they paint it or at least knock down the cobwebs, but nope. It’s always just kind of an attic for some reason. It’s a look.

This Rooftop Situation

It always seemed so cool to have a rooftop at school to hang out in. Not sure why everything at this school is so high up, but not complaining either.

When Ahmal Gets Really Into It In Oh Happy Day

He might be crusty, but Ahmal’s got that joy down in his heart. Did you know that actor Ryan Toby went on to sing in City High, who did that song “What Would You Do” (if your son was at home, crying all alone… yeah, it’s in my head now, too)? It was totally new information to me.

Ahmal’s Cultural Appropriation Speech

Ahmal was the woke one. You can tell because he is wearing the Woke Kid Uniform of 1993 and because he delivers a speech on cultural appropriation, which, yes, was a thing in the ’90s as well.

Can’t you come up with your own thing? Why must you continually come behind my people and steal our expressions? First jazz, then rock n roll, now rap? What’s next?

The Way Fancy Hotels Looked In 1993

We touched on this in our discussion of Curly Sue: fancy looked different in the early 90s. I’d almost say the era was peak fancy. There was a lot of gold plating and dusty pastels. I don’t know. I just love how this was the epitome of a really good hotel in 1993.

Sister Mary Clarence’s Minimalist Nun Cell

In 1993 this was like a prison room to die in; in 2017 it’s a minimalist studio to die for. And in San Francisco? The Catholic Church could only afford it by selling some Vatican artwork.

Richard’s Outfits

I feel like when anyone talks about ‘classic style’ they mean, like, polo shirts or suits, but consider this: this movie turns 24 years old this year (?!) and in any point since it was released, this outfit would’ve looked current.

Bonus: Baby Jennifer Love Hewitt smearing her mascara (?) behind him.

Uniform Adaptations

Never would’ve been allowed in any of my schools, but lots of fun and very reflective of real-life 90s style. Round sunglasses, hat bills flipped up, backwards snapbacks.

The Credit Sequence

So iconic, it was spoofed on Broad City and we all instantly got the reference.

Everything

From my notes during my rewatch: “The best part of Sister Act is the montage where they fix things up. The best part of Sister Act 2 is EVERYTHING.”

Pantone Colors Of The Year, Ranked

All colors are good. But some colors are better than others, and that’s why Pantone selects a Color of the Year. According to Pantone, the Color of the Year is “a symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.” Since the Color of the Year was introduced in 2000, we’ve seen the palate swing wildly from Radiant Orchid to Tangerine Tango, and less wildly from Aqua to Blue Aqua. Do they represent our “global culture?” Maybe not, but it’s always fun to see what they come up with.  Not all symbolic color selections are created equal, so here is our ranking:

This Is A Boring Color
19. Sand Dollar – 2006

 

This color was only called Sand Dollar because Landlord Paint didn’t get past the Pantone Board of Directors.  I’m going to sell my house and someone boring might buy it? Boom. Sand Dollar. Also while sand dollars themselves are pretty, the color of them is just sand. And sand is just ocean dirt.

All Aboard The Arbitrary Dislike Train
18. Marsala – 2015

I arbitrarily dislike deep reds, but above that, I arbitrarily dislike colors that don’t know what they’re trying to be. Brown? Red? Tan? Rust? Mauve. Marsala is all of these and none of these at the same time.

17. Chili Pepper – 2007

If Sand Dollar is Landlord Paint, Chili Pepper is Dining Room Red. I even painted my parents’ dining room this color years ago. It’s perfectly nice, but plays into my arbitrary dislike of deep reds.

These Are The Same Color. Right? Pantone. These Are The Same Color.
14, 15, and 16, Aqua Sky – 2003, Blue Turquoise – 2005, Turquoise – 2010

Anyone who’s been to my house or seen my wardrobe knows that I love me some blues and greens. So does Pantone, or the universal zeitgeist as distilled into a color by Pantone, I guess. If there was just ONE turquoise-y color it might land near the top of my list, but I don’t know how to rank these so they’ll have to rank in the lower-middle. If you forced my hand I’d give the advantage to Blue Turquoise because it reminds me of the color they’d paint a water park in the ’90s …. or today, because every water park somehow lives within a 1993 time warp.

12 and 13, Tigerlily -2004 and Tangerine Tango – 2012

I love the peppy zip these colors bring to the Pantone family! I don’t love how they’re the same color. I’d have liked to see one orange with more pink to it, and one with more yellow, or something. I’m actually surprised that a true coral wasn’t chosen yet, as it’s been the accent color at every outdoor wedding since 2007.

I’m Pretty Sure This Is Cheating
10 and 11, Rose Quartz and Serenity – 2016

In 2016 Pantone really outdid itself by selecting two colors of the year: Rose Quartz and Serenity, better known as pink and blue. Pink and blue don’t really capture the essence of the global consciousness of 2016, although what COULD capture that year – puce? Baby poop green? If they capture the essence of anything, it’s a baby shower. Still, these two values are gorgeous. Serenity has a nice periwinkle hue and rose quartz is gentle but not babyish. But don’t think I didn’t notice that you picked two colors in one year, Pantone.

Lumpy Blue Sweater Color
9. Cerulean – 2000

This color would rank lower but it has the distinction of being the only Color of the Year that is the subject of a Meryl Streep monologue.

“You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”

Good Pink
8. Honeysuckle – 2011

This is a good shade of pink. While cloying if it’s the wall color for an entire room, it brightens up when paired with bright green or yellow and can look more understated with gray and cream.

‘Pop Of Color In Your Kitchen’ Color
7. True Red – 2002

Option 1: You redid your kitchen, everything’s all gray and subway tile, and you want to add a kitschy, cheerful, 1950s feel. You buy a vintage wall clock and fiestaware in True Red.

6. Greenery – 2017

Option 2: You redid your kitchen, everything’s all gray and subway tile, but you want a pop of color that says that you enjoy the outdoors and love to cook with local, seasonal ingredients. That’s when you add some glassware or a painted island in Greenery. Greenery is fresh, it’s lively, and it works best as an accent color when things are a bit too Home Depot Special.

Better Pink
5. Fuschia Rose – 2001

Fuschia Rose does what Honeysuckle was trying to do, but better. It’s poppy and fun, and it feels very 2001. We had only recently come out of the glittery, pop-infused late 90s and Carrie Bradshaw and all her friends were bringing playful feminine style to the forefront. I appreciate that Fuschia Rose knows what it is and really goes for it, pink-wise.

Normal Blue
4. Blue Iris – 2008

While Blue Iris sounds like a celebrity baby name or an independent film, it’s actually a very nice, normal shade of blue that pairs well with practically everything. Think of blue jeans: wear them with black or pastels or brights, they’ll always look good. Even though some of the punchier colors are fun, Blue Iris is the kind of color you could paint a whole room in or use as an accent throughout your house, and it would still look fine in ten years.

Normal Yellow
3. Mimosa – 2009

Mimosa is the only yellow Pantone has chosen (but sure, y’all needed THREE turquoises), and it’s nice and normal. That might sound like faint praise but it isn’t. It’s hard to find a yellow that’s not too bright or too soup-y. A perfect match for normal blue, normal yellows are optimistic and sunny. (I’m also biased because someone once said I have a great yellow aura. I don’t necessarily believe in that, but also that was years ago and now my aura’s probably … marsala.)

Now That Is A COLOR
2. Radiant Orchid – 2014

This was one of the only Pantone colors that actually surprised me. It’s a vibrant yet relaxing hue that looks amazing with all kinds of decor or style. I love a purple that’s not too grape-y or eggplant-y, but doesn’t delve into Easter Egg territory. I love you, Radiant Orchid.

A Totally Biased Top Pick
1. Emerald – 2013

I’ve always loved a true green. I was one of the only little girls I knew whose favorite color was green, not pink or purple (although I appreciate those too); relatives I seldom see still remember this and buy me things in this color. So this is totally ill-informed and arbitrary, but I loved when Pantone chose Emerald as their color of the year in 2013. Green can be as stately as shutters on an old mansion, or deep and lush like jungle plants, or crisp and classic paired with navy blue. When I studied abroad  I used to walk past a boutique with a storefront ‘living room’ painted in emerald green and swear I’d paint a room that color one day. I still haven’t done it, but that’s what is so great about colors. They tap into feelings and memories and, sure, Pantone, “what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”

 

20 Things I’ll Never Forget About Trading Spaces

Trading Spaces was a TLC decorating show that premiered in 2000 and ushered in the next 17 years of home and garden television, and if you’re an adult of a certain age there are probably some parts of the show that are branded onto your memory. That’s why when I heard that TLC is reviving Trading Spaces for its 2017-2018 season, I was that special mix of excited and dismayed that you get when one of your former favorite shows gets a reboot.

I haven’t seen an episode since the Trading Spaces was cancelled in 2008 — more accurately, since I graduated high school in 2004 — but somehow I remember those afterschool Trading Spaces episodes better than anything I learned sophomore year. The premise of Trading Spaces – neighbors and friends pair up with a designer to redo a room in each other’s houses in 24 hours, usually with a terrible design scheme and poor execution, because you need more than 24 hours to redo a room – was so high on drama that I can’t believe I didn’t realize it was straight-up reality TV more than it was a decorating show. Of course, the rooms were all VERY early 2000s, like the decorating version of empire waist tops, chunky highlights and flared jeans. In no particular order, these are the Trading Spaces quirks, designs, characters and moments that are still taking up my brain space in 2017:

Frank’s designs were always kind of barnyard-y. That country cute style (ahem… country geese!) had mostly gone out of fashion by the early 2000s, but Frank was always there with the stencils and gingham anyway.

Vern was very minimalist and if he was doing your house, you would probably get something kind of normal and livable.

Hildi knew what this was: reality TV. You can tell because she did things like glued straw to the walls of a house with children living in it and suspended furniture from the ceiling. This is extra silly when you remember that most of these homes were suburban tract houses that were otherwise pretty Pottery Barn-normal. At the time I thought she was nutso but now I think she was a crazy genius.

Doug did things people would hate, on purpose, just because they would hate it. I might love him for that.

Gen always painted barefoot.

When Paige Davis got married, her husband’s surname was Page.

Also her first name isn’t Paige, it’s Mindy. And her hair was SO FLICKY.

Every time a homeowner told a designer not to touch something – be it a fireplace or an antique credenza or a mural – the designers were contractually obligated to mess with it. Probably.

You know what got the biggest excited reaction from homeowners? Every time? When a designer would take their photos and blow them up and hang them on the walls. Things like Shutterfly and Flickr did exist, and you could even get your Kodak prints blown up at Wal-Mart during this era, but I guess it was big news to Trading Spaces homeowners. Last weekend I was at my brother’s neighbor’s house – a McMansion-y suburban cul-de-sac – and one whole wall was giant blown-up canvases of the family. I blame Trading Spaces.

Trading Spaces is also responsible for a lot of early 2000s dining rooms that were painted dark brown, which they told us was chocolate-y.

This lady’s really averse reaction to one of the least-bad rooms I remember seeing:

Theme rooms were so theme-y that they were the interior design equivalent of a Claudia Kishi outfit. If there was a desert theme, your floor was sand. Or if there was a dessert theme, your floor was hot fudge.

The theme rooms were also usually really really tenuously connected to an interest the family had. If a couple went to a Sandals resort in the Caribbean for their honeymoon, the room would be decorated as a giant papaya. That sort of thing.

It was that era when televisions couldn’t just be out in the open, so usually Ty or Amy Wynn (Remember Ty Pennington and Amy Wynn Pastor? If you’re reading this, of course you do) would have to build a giant armoire or false wall or something for it.

In a very 2000s crossover, Natalie of the Dixie Chicks participated. So did the Camden sisters (Jessica Biel and Beverley Mitchell) of Seventh Heaven fame.

They definitely designed a kitchen to look like a horror movie crime scene. Unlike the other list items, I had to look that one up for confirmation because it seemed too outlandish. Yup. Hildi.

Laurie painted everything yellow and had Grace Adler hair. Her rooms were normal.

They said you can spray paint upholstered furniture. To rip off Sondheim, can is different than should.

On day one, they’d get maybe 5% of the work done, then when the designer left they’d give the homeowners their “homework.” The homework was usually along the lines of “paint the entire room and all of the furniture.”

Trading Spaces is what taught a lot of us that you could tape off sections of wall to paint stripes, and I think that as a people, we got a little carried away with that idea for a while.

 

Spring Memes Make Me Feel Fine: Meryl Shouting Into The Void

Look, I know we just did a Spring Memes piece a couple weeks ago, but this is too good not to pass up.

Like with all great memes, we can’t be 100% sure where it originated, but what I can tell you that this photo of Meryl Streep that is the basis of the meme is from two years ago when she was whooping for Debbie Reynolds at the SAG Awards. So why is it popping up now? Who knows. Who cares. All I want is a two-line tweet of song lyrics with the second part in all caps lock. That’s all that’s gonna get us through this Friday. Enjoy.

The internet loves Mr. Brightside

Meryl loves Britney, you know it

Podcast lovers only

Are we sure those are the words?

I’m uncomfortable with the mouth but comfortable with this reference

Shoutout to my HSM lovers

Those are the correct lyrics

Real talk tho

Driver roll up the partition please

DAMN!

Natch

But let’s not forget: who slayed it first?

Mom?

A post shared by Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) on

squarespace

hamilton/andrew

Spring Memes Make Me Feel Fine: Obamacare vs. Trumpcare

On Monday, Republicans revealed their plans to replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, with a pile of papers called the American Health Care Act, aka Trumpcare. There are a number of controversial changes in the new act, including defunding Planned Parenthood, a complicated tax credit system, and a plan to roll back the expansion of Medicaid in three years’ time. The draft bill basically takes health coverage away from many Americans, most whom are low-income care recipients, while rich Americans would benefit.

In keeping tradition with this administration since November 8th, the draft bill is trash, and people against the AHCA obviously took to the internet to express their opposition, in the form of a Obamacare vs. Trumpcare meme that is making its rounds on the world wide web. Here are just a few faves to warm your resistance spirit.

Is that Bort?

#PinterestFail

That piece will never not be funny

TBH, didn’t even know there was another Mean Girls

Johnny Depp is always a downgrade

Unbreakable

He’ll be back (to take your health care away)

True Detective Season 3: Barack and Joe?

But if we’re talking IRL, OG Aunt Viv is definitely the crazier one.

Is that Jessica Walter??

I can’t stop laughing at this

BARRY.

Perhaps the most accurate one of them all:

Black History Spotlight #5: Alice Allison Dunnigan

All this month, we’ve been shining a spotlight on prominent black history makers. From Frederick Douglass to Marsha P. Johnson, we’ve learned a few things about Americans who helped make this country great, and hope you did too. We’re closing out the month with Alice Allison Dunnigan, a black female reporter, whose beat was politics – primarily in the White House. Read on to see what life was like for a female journalist of color back in the day.

alice-allison-dunnigan

/1/ Teen Prodigy

Alice first bit the journalism bug at age 13, when she started writing for the Owensboro Enterprise, the local paper in her home state of Kentucky. Although the extent of her contribution was only one-sentence news items, the experience left her knowing she wanted to be a reporter.

/2/ History Has Its Eyes On You

AT the time, black kids were only allowed 10 years of education, but Alice Allison decided to go further and attended Kentucky State University, where she completed a teaching course. She used her degree to become a history teacher in the Todd County School System, which was still segregated. While teaching her black kids, she noticed most of them had no idea of the contributions African-Americans had made to the state, so she made it her goal to educate them. Alice Allison then made “Kentucky Fact Sheets”, and gave them to her students as supplements to the required text in class. In 1939, the papers were collected for publication, but due to the political climate, no publisher was willing to print them. But in 1982, Associated Publishers Inc. finally took the papers to press and made the sheets into a publication called The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Tradition. Alice Allison was a teacher in Kentucky public schools from 1924 to 1942, but because she wasn’t exactly getting paid the big bucks, she still worked small jobs in the summer, like a housekeeper and washing tombstones in the white cemetery.

/3/ A Full Time Job

But when she ended her teaching tenure in 1942, it was because she took on a call for government workers in Washington, D.C. during World War II. While she worked in her federal government job, she took night classes at Howard University,and by 1946, she was offered a job writing for the Chicago Defender newspaper as a Washington correspondent. The black-owned publication never used “negro” or “black”, but rather used the phrase “The Race” in reference to African-Americans. However, the down side to this was that the editor of the Defender was unsure of her writing abilities strictly because she was a women, she he paid her much less than her male co-workers until she could prove her worth.

/4/ HBIC

In 1947, served as a writer for the Washington bureau of the Associated Negro Press. During her time there, she sought credentials to become a member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries, but it didn’t come without a fight. The government denied her requests, citing the fact she wasn’t writing for a daily newspaper (a requirement for reporters covering the Capitol), but rather a weekly publication. It took six months, but she was finally granted clearance and became the bureau chief of the Associated Negro Press for the next 14 years.

/5/ White House Correspondent Years

In addition to being the first black female member of the Senate and House press galleries, she made history yet again in 1948, when she was named a White House correspondent, and again was the first black female to ever hold that title. In fact, she was only one of three African-Americans, one of two women in the press corps, and the first black woman elected to the Women’s National Press Club.

Of course, Alice Allison’s milestones didn’t come without a price. Segregation was still instituted throughout most of her time in Washington – during President Eisenhower’s eight years in office, he went from not calling on her at all to asking her for her questions beforehand (something no one else had to do). She was barred from entering some venues to cover him, and even had to sit with servants to cover Senator Taft’s funeral. When John F. Kennedy took his place in the Oval Office, he was the exact opposite and welcomed questions from Alice Allison, who was known as a hard-hitting reporter.

/6/ Working With the President

Speaking of JFK, he named her the education consultant on the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity in 1961. In 1967, she became an associate editor with the President’s Commission on Youth Opportunity, but left in 1968 when Nixon and his Republican team took over the White House.

/7/ Back to the Books

Following her career in Washington, she decided to tell her story in an autobiography, and penned a book titled A Black Woman’s Experience: From Schoolhouse to White House, which was published in 1974. A detail not covered in her book – she received more than 50 journalism awards for her groundbreaking work.

Black History Spotlight #4: Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson, trans activist and all-around personality, was vibrant, generous, kind-hearted, hilarious and a wholly singular person. She was also a gay and trans advocate from the 1960s until her death in 1992. With some of the news that has come down this week, today we thought it was appropriate to shine our Black History Spotlight on Marsha P. Johnson, a person who greeted inequity with resilience, resistance, generosity and humor.

A Boy With Dancing Feet

Marsha P. Johnson was born Malcolm Michaels and began wearing dresses at age 5; young Malcolm stopped because of the neighbors’ reactions. Malcolm’s senior yearbook entry read “Willing to help others — a boy with dancing feet.” During the early 1960s, the teen began making the short trip into New York City to see other drag queens. “Malcolm” moved to Greenwich Village, living on the street when necessary, at age 18. By age 22 she had legally changed her name to Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha used to say that the “P” stood for “pay it no mind,” her response to people who would ask whether she was male or female (at times, Marsha would choose to identify as Malcolm, and as male and would describe herself both as a “drag queen,” a “transvestite” and as gay; Marsha also frequently used female pronouns and those seem to be the ones that her friends and contemporaries use for her, so that is what we will use here).

Serious Drag

Before long, Marsha became a sensation.  Marsha was frequently given leftover flowers by florists at the end of the day, wearing them in elaborate crowns on her head. Asked if she ever “did drag seriously,” Marsha laughed that she didn’t have money to be serious about it. She used trash and thrift items to create fantastic ensembles. Friends agreed: “she wasn’t a well-dressed, coordinated kind of a drag queen.” By all accounts, Marsha was beloved by most. However, she faced some discrimination within the gay for community for her gender presentation. For instance, there was an attempt to exclude trans women and drag queens from the Gay Liberation Parade. Marsha just marched in front of the parade so that it appeared she was leading the whole thing.

Stonewalled

The Stonewall Riots were an uprising against a discriminatory police raid that took place at the Greenwich Village bar The Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. The event served as the catalyst for the Gay Liberation movement that continued throughout the 20th century and into the present day. It is imperative to note that Marsha P. Johnson, a Black, trans person was a hero of the movement. Marsha announced “I got my civil rights” and thew a shotglass – “the shotglass heard ’round the world.” A rebellion began and a movement was born.

In the documentary Pay It No Mind: The Life And Times of Marsha P. Johnson, Marsha’s contemporaries emphasized just how important the Stonewall Riots were. “It was a horrible world before that,” and the changes that we have seen “didn’t just happen this way.” The world as we know it might look very different without that act of resistance at the Stonewall Inn.

 

Saint Marsha

One story involves Marsha sleeping in the flower district under the lilies during her early days in New York. An employee explained why they let her: “she’s holy.”

Numerous stories involve Marsha panhandling on the street, then giving the change she received to somebody who needed it more. Within the community, Marsha’s generosity and warmth led to the moniker Saint Marsha.

Marsha’s message of love wasn’t an act of respectability politics. Rather, she reached out and connected to other people’s humanity so that they could no longer deny hers. She was known for “converting people into fans and friends” simply by being friendly and polite.

Marsha  frequented all kind of churches and noted that “we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Rising STAR

Together with Slyvia Rey Rivera, Marsha founded STAR: Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries. The group reached out to homeless trans youth, the first group to specifically serve the vulnerable homeless trans community, particularly young people who were no longer welcome in their homes. Eventually STAR was able to establish a shelter, and the group also provided food to people living on the streets.

During this time, Marsha was photographed by Andy Warhol. This photograph didn’t make Marsha notable; instead, she was already a popular figure in her community. Still, the photo had the effect of making Marsha, in the words of Michael Musto, ” the transgender version of a Campbell’s soup can.”

 

The End

In 1992, Marsha’s body was found in the Hudson River. The death was ruled a suicide and wasn’t investigated. However, Marsha’s friends reported that she had been harassed by a group of people on the day of her death, and they did not believe that she was suicidal. In 2012, Marsha’s case was reopened. Although there are no leads, this is at least an acknowledgement that we cannot be sure what happened to her.

Black History Spotlight #3: Coretta Scott King

Our Black History Month spotlight series continues today with Coretta Scott King, a prominent activist for women and African-Americans, who just so happened to also be the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’ve always known her name, but not the story behind her impressive life, read on.

/1/ Angel of Music

When Coretta Scott was in high school, she played trumpet and piano, sang in the chorus and was a frequent player in the school musicals. Basically we would’ve been BFFs with her. After graduating as the valedictorian of her class, she went to Antioch College where she studied singing. She eventually transferred out of Antioch after winning a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she focused on building a career in the music industry.

/2/ The Man Who Changed Her Life

While studying at NECM, a friend gave her number to Martin Luther King, Jr., who had asked his pal about any single women on campus. While Coretta originally had no interest, she eventually caved and went out on a date with him. They fell in love and on Valentine’s Day 1953, they announced their engagement in the Atlanta Daily World newspaper, because that’s what folks did in the ’50s. The tied the knot four months later on the lawn of her mother’s house, where Martin’s father officiated the ceremony. What’s interesting about their vows is that Coretta decided to remove the bit about “obeying” her husband, which was not a common thing to do at the time. She will bow down to no man.

After Coretta graduated with a degree in voice and piano, they moved to Montgomery, where Martin became pastor of a local church. Before long, he was chosen to become leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, and the movement began.

/3/ Combining Her Passions

Although her main focus became civil rights, she used her passion of music to help get their message out. She performed at concerts to with the notion to give audiences “an emotional connection to the messages of social, economic, and spiritual transformation.”

/4/Get In Formation

While she rallied behind her husband for civil rights for blacks, she wasn’t blind to the fact that the movement had become sexist, with women’s interests not being put forth in their (aka her husband’s) agenda. Martin even limited Coretta’s role out on the trail, expecting her to stay at home and take care of their four children.

“Not enough attention has been focused on the roles played by women in the struggle. By and large, men have formed the leadership in the civil rights struggle but…women have been the backbone of the whole civil rights movement.”

In January 1968, Coretta took part in a Women Strike for Peace protest in D.C., along with over 5,000 women, and she also co-chaired the Congress of Women conference.

/5/ Equality For All

Continuing to fight for equality for all, Coretta was an early supporter of the gay rights movement. In 1983, she spoke out in D.C. to urge for the amendment of the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as Protected class.

/6/ Heal the World

Coretta was an advocate for non-violent action to achieve social change, and therefore an advocate for world peace. In 1957, she was on of the co-founders of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and while Martin was speaking at a major anti-Vietnam War march in 1967, Coretta was doing similar work by speaking out at a rally in San Francisco. In her later years, she even came out in oppposition of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

/7/ What is Legacy?

After Martin was assassinated, she established The King Center in 1968, dedicated to the advancement of the legacy and ideas of her husband.  Their son, Dexter Scott King, is currently the CEO and president of the center.

/8/ Nevertheless, She Persisted

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” (read Coretta’s whole letter here).

Things I’m Willing To Believe About Logan Everett, The Boy American Girl Doll

There’s something different about the newest American Girl doll. It’s a boy. Which is a fine thing to be, if you’re a human, but I have to admit that my knee-jerk reaction was more like:

As if white boys couldn’t already be EVERYTHING, now they’re an American Girl doll? Ugh. What would Felicity think? (Trick question, she’d just note whether they wore the same britches size in case she had to steal another pair under cover of darkness.) Okay, also the boy looks like this:

Of course he does.

Anyway, the Boy American Girl is named Logan Everett.

Of course he is.

Logan is apparently the drummer for the doll version of 2008-era Taylor Swift. As the latest addition to our series Things I’m Willing To Believe About, here are some things I am willing to believe about Logan Everett, Boy American Girl:


His working name was Logan Bruno because he was 100% based on Logan Bruno, boy associate member of the Baby-Sitters Club. He’s even Southern.

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Logan would like to invite you to a fun laser tag outing with his youth group.

His dad is in the worship band. Logan’s first performance was Lord I Lift Your Name On High.

 

The original plan was for Boy American Girl Doll Logan Everett to be a historical character from 1994. He would have had the requisite Cute Boy In The 90s Haircut (see: Rider Strong), a plaid flannel with a heather gray hood, and you could buy him a scaled-down, working Talkboy for $19.99.

Like this.

Like this.

In a frozen pioneer cemetery in Minnesota, Logan’s great-great-great-great grandmormor Kirsten is rolling over in her grave due to his coddled and simple lifestyle.

He calls his dog a rescue dog but it’s just a regular dog.

Logan rarely looks up from his Nintendo DS when he is forced to visit his great-grandma Molly. To be fair, all of her “harrowing war stories” are, like, “one time I curled my hair when it was wet and I got a cold” and “I ate turnips, once.”

Get a grip, Molls.

Get a grip, Molls.

I’m not saying Logan smirks mockingly at people, I’m just saying that doll is smirking mockingly at me, right? 

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he's not gonna laugh, he's just gonna stare at you.

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he’s not gonna laugh, he’s just gonna stare at you condescendingly.

His parents buy Lunchables.

And Sunny D.

And maybe Cheez Wiz?

Logan’s instagram is all skating pictures he stole off of other people’s instagrams (he doesn’t skate) and quotes.

Just really wants to bring hacky sack back.

Is the main character’s older brother who the best friend has a crush on on a Disney show.

If his name wasn’t Logan, it would have been Hunter. Or Kyler.

Was the first kid in his class whose parents didn’t care if he watched PG 13 movies.

Was in a commercial for a local amusement park 2 years ago and finds way more ways to bring it up than you’d think.

Boy band role: the one moms are OK with

Logan “thinks you look prettier without makeup,” but also thinks “no makeup” looks like concealer, light, well-blended foundation and bronzer, neutral eye shadow, lightly smudged dark brown liner, full mascara and lip gloss

Also “Tthinks you look prettier when you don’t do you hair;” hot rollers and highlights.

I understand this is supposed to be a country musician but I still kind of feel like on Myspace c. 2005 his favorite music would have been “anything but country lol.”

 

Always has to show you this hilarious video he found on YouTube.