Cheryl Pappas


Archive for May, 2010

Heckling For Hope

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Yesterday, Kip Williams, co-founder of the activist group GetEqual, interrupted Obama’s San Francisco fundraising speech for Senator Barbara Boxer.  He heckled the President on the progress of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  

Loosely calculated, it is said that one response to a published blog represents something like 2,000 readers of that blog.  Likewise, it might be possible that this one heckler represents all gays, shouting in a crowded auditorium to a resolutely—albeit transparently defensive– indifferent Obama on the issue of support for civil rights for gay people.


It’s upsetting to shout publicly.  Most of us would never stoop to that.  There is a desperation, a rage, that only the dismissed, disenfranchised, and the double-crossed would understand.  Something the Black community used to know about intimately, and many still do.


Putting aside my idiosyncratic belief that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is absurd, because:  #1. Turning away anyone willing to die for America is the essence of a hateful, stupid position; and #2.  It does nothing for the advancement of gay people to allow this moronic aphorism to die, at the same time that it would allow gay soldiers to die.  The overturning of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ only serves as an item  conservatives can point to to indicate a phony support for gay rights, in my opinion.  That aside.


Since many brilliant political advocates for civil rights believe in this as “advancement”, I rest their case and turn the focus back on Obama.


The overflowing “banquet” of urgencies Obama faces on his Presidential buffet I understand and have compassion for.  However, he may have too smugly assessed the rights of gay people as being not only a side dish, but a frivolous condiment.  He simply left their rights and quality of their lives on a strategically constructed menu of afterthoughts that never made it to the printers.


Obama still has it good with the gays.  However, his response to Mr. Williams could use more emotional intelligence and political acumen.  Even the gay voices who have patiently remained unheard will more and more be heckling for hope, Mr. President.  The understanding required while watching your defensive indifference and your outrage to an obviously ill- timed shout-out plea to you about a true broken promise, has a finished shelf life.    





Lighten Up And Let The Good Times Roll

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Recently, I received a piece of advice in response to my take on Obama, the comic, appearing at the Washington Correspondent’s Dinner.  Someone helpfully suggested that I dunk my head in a pool of cold water in the hope of a revival of my sense of humor.  Sounded like a great idea—the pool in my back yard was perfect for following that advice.

Alas, as refreshing as the experience proved to be, it did nothing to shift my opinion of Obama’s stand-up performance at the Correspondent’s Dinner a few nights ago.  I repeat, Not Funny.

Maybe I was missing a step, the way that one missing ingredient in a forwarded recipe can astonishingly alter a finished product.  For instance, maybe my head and my ass should have been simultaneously dipped into the pool?

I know for sure I’m missing something. Is it, after all, my sense of humor?  Has it dried totally up, like turd pellets crumbled and blown into microscopic dust in the desert air of my Los Angeles neighborhood?

Surely if Bill Maher thought Obama’s comic material was fantastic, as reported in other words by the brilliant Arianna Huffington, something in me is (seriously) amiss. I love Arianna, and she is optimistic and generous toward the President’s performance. Is loss of humor an underreported chemical side effect in my drinking water? Wherever my humor is, it is tragically N/A.

Instead, I am left to wonder, humorlessly, how we got to be in this American place of demanding the social defense of “lightening everything up” in our responses to reality. This defense is terrific news, by the way, for criminals everywhere and for corrupt politicians.  Americans can today be counted on to lighten up the bold and unbeautiful cable news-delivered nefarious deeds of just about anyone.  In fact, if there is a way to mock something or strip away any serious meaning from say, the upcoming oil drillings or spillage or middle class looting by another Goldman Sachs, for example, then “Yes, We Can”!   


We’ll always have Tiger Woods, or we can turn to Obama’s recent co-host Jay Leno who, coming off a devastating loss in popularity numbers to winner Conan O’Brien, is now losing in comedy polls to our own President.  The Hilarious Comedy Chops of Obama is the freshly insisted-upon remake of the Emperor’s New Clothes, brought   to us this time via the Red-Carpeted Correspondent’s Dinner.

In a time when show business pros and politicians are rated and reviewed side-by-side and perform inter-changeably, there’s only one thing to do, for heaven’s sake:

Lighten up!

The Phrases That Cancel Us Out

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

The first time someone said to me, “There you go”, I thought, damn, I must be getting old. Surely, the last time this was commonly expressed around me was when I was learning to ride a bicycle and my father stood watching with exactly that sentiment as I pedaled determinedly up the cul-de-sac. It seems like the phrase belongs in a ga-ga-goo-ga category. When first conversationally offered to me in recent times, I was stunned.  


I quickly searched for meaning, as if in a foreign land where primitive symbols were displayed in place of language. I thought about how “there you go” might connect to the precedent snippet of conversation and realized, this must be a new bonding phrase. As in, the encouraging, “Now you’ve put the thought together! There you go!”


Since I listen to how we use language to get a read on what’s up or down with society, I can be irritating to have a conversation with. 


Words are not just the sprinkling system of the human garden for me.

They reveal underlying feeling, motive, response.  Communication runs sweepingly by us.  We are susceptible to every new expression and the contagion of speaking a la minute with our fellows.

But what are we saying?


Today, “there you go” is seemingly the tag line in all conversation.  I hear it used to reset the theme and place a period at the end of subjects.  As in, “I’m not really listening.  I want to generically connect” or “I’m not paying much attention and don’t have anything to say” or “I want a glib moment of belonging, a quick ride of kinship without having to give anything of myself”.


Perhaps my take on current faux language strategies in social communication will be received like a slap in the face and will offend many people.  Unconsciousness always has fans. 


Words can either deliberately direct us to a more whole, present way of being alive, or words can degrade and delete the human chain of connection, entirely. 


Beware the phrases that cancel us out.  The events of language that remove us from who we are, like Facebook’s kidnapping of the word, “friend”.  When was the last time you thought about that word, as in, Who are my real friends?





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