Saturday, July 20, 2013

Indie Break-Up Songs for Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Loss and Grief

Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Loss and Grief are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
This sequence has been applied to the omnipresent break-up by Darci Gilbert, as referenced on Wikipedia via eHow (Gilbert, Darci. [ "How Do the Stages of Grief Apply to Breakups?"] . eHow. Retrieved 13 April 2013.). If it's alternative/indie rock that helps you through, then like an awful pun involving bananas, the following selection may have appeal.


“The person getting broken up with is unable to admit that the relationship is really over. They may try to continue to call the person when that person wants to be left alone.”

“Yeah! Oh, Yeah!” by The Magnetic Fields

“By Your Side,” by CocoRosie

"Start Again," by Teenage Fanclub

"When the reality sets in that the relationship is over, it is common to demand to know why they are being broken up with. This phase can make them feel like they are being treated unfairly and it may cause them to become angry at people close to them who want to help aid the situation."

“Waiting for the Winter,” by The Popguns

"The One I Love," by REM

“You Oughta Know," by Alanis Morrissette

"After the anger stage, one will try to plead with their former partner by promising that whatever caused the breakup will never happen again. Example: 'I can change. Please give me a chance'."

“I Apologize,” by Husker Du

“Please Do Not Go,” by Violent Femmes

“Good Woman,” by Cat Power

"Next the person might feel discouraged that their bargaining plea did not convince their former partner to change their mind. This will send the person into the depression stage and can cause a lack of sleep, eating and even disrupt daily life tasks such as bowel movements."

“I Know It’s Over,” by The Smiths

“It’s Okay,” by Land of Talk

“Katy Song,” by Red House Painters

"Moving on from the situation and person is the last stage. The person accepts that the relationship is over and begins to move forward with their life. The person might not be completely over the situation but they are done going back and forth to the point where they can accept the reality of the situation."

“Here’s Where the Story Ends,” by The Sundays

"Sheela-Na-Gig," by PJ Harvey

“This Time There's No Happy Ending," by Television Personalities

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thoughts From a Trayvon Martin Rally

It is difficult for words to express how disgusted I feel with the jury’s decision in the Trayvon Martin case. A vigilante with a history of paranoid behavior racially-profiled and stalked a black boy who did nothing wrong whatsoever, and when the boy confronted his stalker and tried to defend himself, the stalker pulled a gun and shot the boy to death. Those are the indisputable facts of the case. People who argue in George Zimmerman’s favor claim that Trayvon, a lanky teenager, must have been in an advantageous position over his one-hundred-pound-heavier assailant. Of course, we have heard the “who really had the advantageous position?” question before – from those who defended the police following the Rodney King beating.

I read the “acquittal” headline on Sunday morning. It took several minutes for the words to cohere, and when they did, a series of dreadful thoughts began running through my head. What if, instead of Trayvon, it was one of my friends of color who were stalked and killed because they “looked suspicious” and tried to defend themselves? What does this decision confer to these friends of mine about their value in “modern” American society? I made a simple sign – “Justice for Trayvon” – and headed for the Union Square protest.

It began with several hundred people holding a speak-in. Anyone who wanted to speak was encouraged to do so. Because we lacked a PA system, speakers were instructed to use short sentences, which were then repeated (and thus amplified) by the crowd, like affirmations to a prayer. This ”Mike Check” method had a unifying effect: upon echoing modest words such as “I have two black boys,” I can immediately empathize with each speaker and begin to understand the more nuanced implications of the jury’s decision on their lives. Local politicians, university professors, community activists and concerned citizens all took their turn to speak, as facilitated by a charismatic and expertly-competent organizer, bearing the scorching weather in a tie and vest.

We then marched around Union Square Park. Our numbers were not yet large enough to take to the streets, but I nevertheless felt grateful that those around me shared my anger and cared enough to voice it. I chanted at a conversational volume, preferring to internalize the imploring words: “our children matter, our children matter...”

A teach-in followed wherein crowd members offered a diversity of perspectives on the tragedy. None were particularly radical or vengeful, and all expressed a desire for solidarity. In fact, this desire to coalesce against the broad idea of injustice led more than one speaker to declare that Trayvon’s murder was “not a race issue”: a sentiment with which I completely disagree. A series of other speakers pointed the blame at problems in the black community, including drug use, late-night liquor stores, gang membership and gangsta rap. This also irked me, not only because these had nothing to do with the murder of Trayvon Martin, but also because it speaks to an inculcated sense of inferiority within African-American culture; it suggests that Trayvon was killed because black people don’t behave themselves. Such opinions are the painful result of centuries of white supremacy in our country. Fortunately, more than one speaker voiced an opinion with which I agreed; for instance, one woman argued that, although race is a social-construct with no biological basis, racism certainly exists and exerted its deadly-self on poor Trayvon Martin. I also agreed with those who spoke against the legal system. Laws such as “Stand Your Ground” and “Stop-and-Frisk” are designed and utilized to maintain racial hierarchies in America.

The afternoon progressed and our numbers swelled into the thousands. Feeling tired, I was just about to split – I had even handed-off my sign to a fellow demonstrator – when the protesters spilled into Broadway. I joined the march with renewed energy. This time, I chanted the chants at the same angry volume as those around me, shouting “Justice for Trayvon Martin” “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Stop-and-Frisk has got to go!” and a slew of others.

I looked around at my fellow protesters and noticed that a large proportion of them were white. Although thrilled by the number of white people showing camaraderie with the slain black child, certain fears occurred to me: do the majority of people of color feel so disenfranchised by their level of inequality that they think their voice does not matter? Does their voice, in fact, matter in America today? How at-risk do people of color feel at protests? Do they worry that a display of political dissidence could leave them suffering the same fate as Trayvon, perhaps at the hands of the NYPD – those paid to “protect” them? Let us be reminded that the name “Amadou Diallo” still holds a certain currency in New York City.

A fight almost broke out when some onlooker presumably said something calculated to incense a red-headed protester into a furious, threat-filled tirade. At first, the instigator walked away, but then, perhaps feeling the need to prove both himself and his own racialist views, he reversed towards the red-headed protester with all the foolish bravado of a rooster and the kind of smile Eichmann would smile if given a new red pen and a long list of names. Had it not been for a short, stocky black woman rushing towards the fast-escalating fight and risking her own well-being by standing between them, the instigator would have surely swallowed a few teeth. I wondered how the media would have reported the irony of two white men throwing punches, when they were so readily-expecting the “aggressive black male” stock character to explode into riot across urban America that night.

Incidentally, it was that same, culturally-ingrained stereotype that killed a teenage boy a year and a half ago.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Sociopolitical Anthropology of Office Behavior

Ah, the office: a place more awkward than a class reunion at Introvert High School. Prior to actually wearing the white collar, all I knew about offices was borrowed from Kids in the Hall, which, I daresay, was a grand introduction:

Because politics is off-limits, I fill my conversation with mock-shocked statements about the weather ("can you believe it's raining again?") or reminding my coworkers of the day ("ugh, Monday!"). If I'm feeling particularly adventurous, I’ll allude to some weekend debauchery, but as far as my coworkers are concerned, my Saturday consists of laundry, laundry, laundry.

During my first week, my coworkers took a marked interest in me: the youngest, newest inhabitant sharing their corridors and copy machines. They would constantly ask:

"What's your background?"

Which translates into a question about whether or not you're qualified for your position. For other tyros to the office habitat, and for those likewise lacking in actual job experience, ranting about academic accomplishments seems to have a neutralizing effect, thank the high holy heavens.

Determining the intonations of everyday office language could be paradise to the paranoid. Is "you're so nice" office lingo for "you're such a naive little boy"? Does "get home safely" suggest an inability to take care of oneself?

In addition to language, there's the whole, dire matter of politics, both the interpersonal and macro-level kind. How can we be honest with one another if we are advised not to speak about politics when "the personal is political"?

Veganism is a case in-point. At first, whenever a staff member offered a pastry, a fruitcake or somethings' leg, I'd turn-down the food without explanation. Human Resources identified that I was refusing every food offer. I was told that this could be taken as offensive - not accepting the gifts of others - and so I confessed to my deviant lifestyle. Admittedly, the whole point of veganism is to make a political or philosophical statement, so my initial reluctance to declare my morality sounds less logical than a spray-tan salon in the middle of Oompa-Loompa-land.

Then again, given my apathy towards isinglass and my wardrobe of more than few wool garments, any attempt to share my “reduce harm” mindset seems superficial. I’m not a particularly good vegan; why, I’m worse at veganism than Hitler was at making Jewish friends.

A greater sense of shame resulted from my not challenging the political discourse of others in my office. One coworker (“A ‘liberal,’ but not a “blame-America-first liberal’”) recently claimed that imperialism was a “mixed bag." I'm genuinely embarrassed for not shutting him down; yet, considering my newbie status, I wouldn't want any argument to explode and leave me scraping coins from the subway again. Thus the binds of capitalism.

Finally, being a man in a mostly-female office leads to its share of awkwardness, especially around the damned water cooler, which, I've discovered, forces us to retreat into medieval gender roles. Once I was asked to replace the water tank by an unsmiling, bird-like woman who communicates using automobile sounds. “Beep Beep,” she says, meaning “hi” or “excuse me” or “I am censoring a series of two swear words.” Intending to parody her stereotype of male strength, I said something along the lines of “let me know if you need help with anything else He-Man related,” which I followed quickly with, “I’M SORRY THAT SOUNDED INCREDIBLY SEXIST.” I shouted it across the hall. She didn’t care either way; she simply beeped along like a fussy Fiat in a jubilee traffic jam.

Another female co-worker “needed a man” for the same job, and when I happened to overhear her, I stepped-up to the proverbial, masculinized plate. She thanked me a little too profusely for “acting like a man,” "being a real gentleman" and emphasizing my general manliness in general. Did I offend her? Or were my chest hairs a little too visible? I approached her later on and asked whether she was insulted by my help. She was not; as it turns out, she was emphasizing manliness to emasculate the other male coworker in the room who did not help.

Thank goodness for this one person with whom I work - the other fellow leftist in my office. Whenever we talk, she launches a shameless rant about the importance of feminism, her hatred for her daughter’s hipster boyfriend (whom she impersonates with a hilarious, lackadaisical Californian accent) or her love of Ian MacKaye. I knew we were cut from the same cloth when she looked at my Doc Martens and said that, in her days on the New York City punk circuit, they used to call them “shitkickers."