According to my girl, journalist and editor Mandy Stadtmiller, xoJane died recently. At first I was kind of sad. I felt bad for Jane Pratt. But giving it some more thought, although I look forward to Pratt’s next venture as an editor, I’m glad I never sold my soul to xoJane for $50.
The reason why is right there in Mandy’s second paragraph:
The plot goes like this: Website monetizes oversharing. Website helps give rise to the derisive term “first-person industrial complex.” Website allows—and often even encourages—commenters to lambast, threaten and insult the writers and their associates, which they do so gleefully, along with producing the occasional false rape allegation against Conor Oberst.
I’d been exploring an essay about something I’m still going through as a full-fledged adult: Skinny Shaming. The need to judge my body type because I’ll never be fat. Check out these quotes:
“If I saw her walking down the street I’d shove a couple cheesesteaks in her hands.”
“And yes, she could use a bacon double cheeseburger at least twice a month :)”
“No Kellie. No skinny shaming at all. She’s just too damned scrawny.”
These are actual comments from folks on Facebook after George Clooney got married. What??
They weren’t ‘skinny shaming?’ Then, what exactly were they doing if they’re allowed to tell a grown woman to eat something (HINT: eating a lot doesn’t put weight on skinny girls, you fools!) or that her size isn’t acceptable?
I have a lifetime of experience with this and would’ve liked to write an essay about how frustrating it is to be skinny shamed because we’re now a culture that shames fat shamers. The first editor I pitched it to was Mandy Stadtmiller.
She was smart and kind. She understood exactly what my frustrations were. She told me it was a great look from the other side of an issue. She pitched it to her editors and said she’d get back to me that same day. She did, but not with an affirmative answer. None of the senior editors were interested in the idea. Then, something super weird happened. Mandy called me. Like, on the telephone. She wanted to explain what happened. This NEVER happens. Getting a personal phone call from an editor is like being invited to a celebrity’s wedding. It’s very special. So when she called I didn’t know what to expect. She explained to me, in no uncertain terms, why the other editors passed on my skinny shaming idea. It alludes to Mandy’s second paragraph above. I would’ve been mercilessly dragged and insulted in the comments, because if the editor’s first responses are jealous and unsympathetic, that’s exactly what they’ll encourage in the readers. We went on to exchange a few more pleasantries; she even suggested a couple of other outlets and editors to pitch my idea to — and I thanked her for calling me. We’ve been friendly via social media ever since. But it taught me more about xoJane and our new culture of overly branded journalism. I eventually got the idea accepted on spec for Cosmo.com, but that was back in September and I’m still not sure whether I’ll finish it.
I really loved Jane Pratt from the first time I ever read Sassy Magazine. I quickly became a subscriber although I was nearing the end of my teens when it first appeared. I was a journalism fan already and this young editor through her thought-provoking choices and edgier staff seemed to be speaking directly to me. I still remember the note that I sent her asking the ages of all the staff. They each wrote their ages (“Me? I’m 26” -Christina) on my note and it was promptly mailed back to me. This made my whole year. I don’t believe I knew the term “internship” at the time or I would’ve asked for one. When the magazine was bought out — I believe some time in the early 90s — I was hugely disappointed. I’d lost touch with it, as I was in my early 20s and in journalism school myself at this point, but little did I know that most of the iconic rags from back then and whether I personally liked them or not would go by the way of Sassy: cheap, homogenized and mass-branded crap that barely hints of the edge, smarts and creativity of its original version.
Then Jane Pratt had the eponymous daytime talk show, remember that? It was the place to go for more subculture-influenced content at first, but then there was the abortion episode. And that was the end. I can remember turning off the television after the first incidence of one guest going after another for simply stating a fact. I could see in that episode the same pro-ratings changes happening that I saw with Sassy. Then, it was Jane Magazine, which once criticized Mariah Carey for being so pliable by her then-husband Tommy Mottola because that wasn’t a “Jane Girl” and then a year or so later put her on the cover. So that was also over. And lastly the essay factory at xoJane. It’s the standard way of running a corporate media entity now, this purposeful homogenization to drive up the viewership after the original content stops bringing in large amounts of cash. I can just picture a great editor like Jane Pratt holding one side of the creative journalism rope by herself, really digging in and grimacing with determination while ten corporate investors hold the other end of the rope with one arm and huge smiles on their faces. You can’t win and I won’t have anything to do with it. Bless Jane Pratt for hanging in there. I’m sure her next idea will be brilliant. Perhaps I could pitch something. It probably won’t be a personal essay though.
I asked about The Golden Globes last night.
I asked if it was, in fact, Black night at The 74th Annual Golden Globes. It was a half-joke but a few folks recapped me. Some folks believe Fences got robbed, a complaint we’ll have to listen to for the next few months until after the Oscars. I have no intention of seeing it and was called “dismissive” by a Facebook friend for that. I understand that completely and because my experience with it is sort of unique I realized I’d love to explain why.
Thing is, I saw Fences on Broadway. In 1987. James Earl Jones. Full stop. The INCOMPARABLE Mary Alice. Full stop. An as-yet unknown Courtney B. Vance. Full stop. My family reunion was in NYC that year. Our family reunions are large pretentious affairs in a different American city every year, but my immediate family always detoured for one night to do something cultural on our own. This particular year we went to the theatre.
I didn’t want to go. Puh-lease. The Beastie Boys were opening for Madonna about 10 blocks due South at Madison Square Garden and of course being 16 years old I wanted to do that. I didn’t want to see some silly play sitting between my parents like a dork.
I’m 46 years old now and this night turned out to be one of the top ten best nights of my entire life. I went on to see another three August Wilson plays after that, including Joe Turner Come and Gone at a Rutgers arts festival one Summer with my mom while I was in college and bonding with her just after my parents split up.
I can tell you without a single solitary doubt that I am a professional writer right now partially because of that night during the Summer of 1987. So you’ll fully understand why I feel some type of (dismissive) way about Fences the movie. And why I feel a movie can’t improve upon stage perfection. I grew up on stage as a dancer. I wrote my 5th grade school play — a corny ass adaptation of The Wizard of Oz called “Somewhere Over The Blackboard.” I also played the lead and sang, but never cared about any of that. Even at ten years old I was a writer. And this tremendous piece of work — Fences — is etched deeply into my heart.
I enjoyed the clips and all the chatter about The Golden Globes this morning. I loved Meryl Streep’s Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech (I forgive her for that non-inclusive Suffragette nonsense last year). I loved that Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn (with his big head, non acting self) were mad. I love that my Hollywood twin Tracee Ellis Ross and Childish Gambino Donald Glover swept the comedy series awards. Yet I still have no incentive to see Fences. You’ll understand. It’s tainted anyway. When one of our preeminent actor/directors, Denzel Washington says that maybe dark skinned actresses, “Just aren’t good enough,” it’s tainted. Yuck.
For the past year I’ve been unable to sell a humor piece I wrote not long after “actress” and “host” Stacey Dash appeared at the Oscars. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny or a good read. Therefore, I’ll be posting to this site many of the ideas I can’t get published for money. I can’t let great shit like this go to waste. I wouldn’t be doing my job. Enjoy!
A rumor has taken root that we pro-Black folks need to be aware of in case there’s any merit to the claim: Ibogaine, the highly psychedelic drug extracted from the African Ibola plant — written extensively about by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson during the 1972 campaign trail — is once again sweeping through our political landscape and has now begun eating the brain of one of our more prominent and once quasi-talented actresses. I’m referring to none other than…Stacey Dash now of Fox News.
Journalist Geoff Edgars publicly asked whether The Cheeto had gotten hold of some Ibogaine recently in The Washington Post with no confirmation, but when last on the public radar Ibogaine addiction was rumored to have stricken democratic candidate Edmund Muskie from Maine. The rumor goes that Muskie succumbed to the powerful effects of the drug while campaigning for president. It’s never been proven to be anything other than rumor; the secretive nature of those refining and dealing the drug to unnamed underground sources and all.
Ms. Dash, most notable for her appearance at age 28 in the campy teen flick Clueless, became addicted during the filming of that movie, and other rumors have it that tree-hugging co- star Alicia Silverstone gave her her first hit. It’s been an obvious slippery slope because now she’s a crazy-ass, thrice-divorced, clueless Ann Coulter wannabe.
Ms. Dash has since been given a platform via Fox News to air her social and political views as a “contributor for cultural analysis and commentary.” What qualifies her for this position is unknown, but another rumored role she’s playing these days — one that for obvious reasons must be kept quiet — is that of official KKK mascot and white supremacist sex slave. Hard to believe I know, yet there are various anonymous sources backing this up.
As we know now, Dash has made various convoluted statements about racism and sexism during her show due to the side-effects of Ibogaine, including that there is no wage gap between the sexes in America, although she’s completely forgotten she’d been taken care of to the tune of $6,000 per month from an ex-fiancee (revealed recently in bankruptcy papers). Ibogaine can severely affect the memory and cognitive processes as well as cause severe psychedelic auditory and visual hallucinations. No confirmation yet about whether — given the known effects of ibogaine — Dash’s brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations at the time; that she looked out during taping and saw gila monsters instead of people, and that her mind snapped completely. Word of mouth also suggests that Ibogaine was being tested in homophobic communities in what’s known as “conversion therapy” exercises. But our powerful LGBTQ community shut that right down as this community is NOT to be challenged and has shown repeatedly that when there’s a need for organization and political action, such action occurs.. The Black community however, has yet to display the same type of unity and focus, and therefore is hugely susceptible to the epidemic Ibogaine can potentially cause. Ibogaine with the once again-popular carcinogenic skin bleaching creams can be a deadly combination. Nasty stuff. We now know what poisoned the set of VH-1’s Single Ladies.
Ibogaine comes from the Ibola plant, native to Africa and the Bwiti people, which Ms. Dash surely will not like to hear. Since her experience using the drug seems to distort her image of her own people, Black people, rehabilitating herself will be quite a challenge. Ibogaine has been studied by the CIA in the 1950s for its potentially useful medicinal properties but isn’t approved for use in the United States. It’s psychoactive, which makes it quite useful in hallucinogenic mind- bending cult rituals. Dash says she gets her stash from a Dutch variant that has nothing to do with Africa; she got the hookup from Roger Ailes. The experience while under the influence of Ibogaine can be described as a two-phase experience: There is a visionary phase where the subject sees the world as totally distorted and detached from reality, and the introspection phase where a subject reflects on his or her fears and other more powerful emotions in order to process them. Ibogaine reached an all-time high in use during the early 1970s and then went back underground again, sources say until now.
Please, no matter what you do, DO NOT alert or alarm Ms. Dash to the psychotropic affects of Ibogaine unless she’s threatened the safety of another. The shock could permanently affect her brain. She has children, however, and therefore needs immediately help. Also worth remembering: all this is rumor; a rumor I made up. Nonetheless, please keep your children safe and educate them on the terrible psychedelic effects of Ibogaine.
Assess for yourself:
Tweezing Police Brutality: A 13-year-old boy, Tyree King, was murdered on September 14, 2016 by police in Ohio (an open carry state), while playing with a toy gun. Sound familiar?
I’m thoroughly tired of this shit.
Therefore, there will be NO standing for an anthem, or putting my hand over my heart (PLEASE!) or recitation of any pledges of any allegiances until this nonsense racism and Black-phobia ends.
Go Colin Kaepernick.
Sniper fire rang out during an otherwise peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest last night in Dallas, TX. I thought at the time, and I believe now that the chickens that Malcolm X spoke about before his murder in 1965 are finally coming home to roost. Four police officers are dead. The 2016 death count for United States police officers shooting civilians: 115.
…and the day came that the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anain Nin
Listen to Ms. Davis. She knows what’s up…
I cannot write another post on a second day in a row about yet another young Black male killed on film by police for no reason (in front of his girl and child; reaching for his registration and insurance; licensed to carry). Therefore, I’ll leave this poem by the precursors (stewards) of Hip Hop, The Last Poets:
I saw numerous posts the other day about “respecting the flag.” None of those assholes will say a Goddamned thing about Alton Sterling.
Fuck your flag.
Until my people are treated equally to whites in this country, take your flag, rub it in dog shit, set it ablaze, and then stick it in your ass.
Alton Sterling was a hardworking family man with permission from a store’s owner to sell his CDs outside. He was shot and killed, in the coldest blood, because he was Black. NOT because he was carrying a gun as Louisiana is an open carry state.
Their names are Blane Salamoni, son of the heir apparent to the chief of police in Baton Rouge, and Howie Lake II, a 3-year veteran. And they’ll probably get a complete walk for shooting someone trying to earn a living. Yes Sterling had a gun. Did you see it? Was it drawn?? He was face down on the ground. Yet we now know more about his background and personal life than these “officers.” Someone close to the incident recorded the murder. The officer’s body cams were conveniently missing. When actor Jesse Williams gave a stirring acceptance speech pointing out these systemic issues, there were calls for him to be fired from his job (LOL) and accusations that he’s the racist.
Oh, and the police-triggered death count is now over 500 for the year, higher than last year’s toll at this time, which was the deadliest year ever. The death list just keeps on growing.
Therefore, if you posted anything the other day about “respecting the flag” and you say nothing about this case, kindly remove your ignorant, prejudiced, clueless ass from my social media pages. Ignore me in the streets. You’re not a good American.
Fuck the flag.
This is graphic. This is disgusting. This is America.
I have so many ideas now I don’t know where to start. Methinks I’ll just jump in and not worry about the mess or the confusion.
See that photo above? That’s my note case. And beside it are more than 20 years worth of research scraps, faded compositions, song lyrics, characters and short story and screenplay ideas that I’ve put on the back burner. Some I even forgot completely about.
I decided (powerful word, decide…different from a choice) to dedicate myself more not only to essays rather than continuing to exclusively swim in the cesspool of journalism — which isn’t getting me anywhere but neck deep in shit –but to my creative prose, including short stories and starting a screenplay.
It’s amazing when unlocking memories how all the emotion of an idea will come rushing back.
This is what I was supposed to do. When I was in college I believed journalism to be more “practical” than prose writing. I’d use both sides of my brain and combine my creativity with business. I’d always have a job. Man, is that now a hilarious joke! Its now become obvious that the more practical pursuit is my biggest, scariest dream. And that the reason for the lack of success is my playing it safe. It reminds me of my favorite quote from one of my favorite writers…
“…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin
Web therapy? Yes, girl. Web therapy.
When I quit in-office talk therapy, it was because I didn’t have the money to keep going. I knew I was at some sort of crossroads (I’d gotten the panic attacks to stop, but I still couldn’t actually lift myself off the couch to really do anything) and didn’t want my progress to slip. I’ve done so much reading and researching it’s ridiculous: both Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns and The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron changed my life and I learned I’m a high sensation seeking, highly sensitive (HSP) extrovert who’ll lean toward panic and borderline personality disorder when under great stress. Yikes! Through all the reading I’d done I learned about different techniques and came to the conclusion that Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT was best for me. I believed CBT would help me conquer the last of my anxiety issues that my therapist couldn’t help me with from her office: literally getting me back into the world I’d become so afraid of.
CBT puts therapy into action by first explaining how our brains go into overdrive to produce anxious thoughts and then breaking down into tiny steps what’s most frightening (while actually doing what you most fear). Picture someone afraid to fly getting step-by-step training to reduce anxiety leading up to being able to stand at the gate at the airport.
Joyable puts all this information online in a 12-week, $300 program. It’s designed to reduce anxiety significantly while working with a coach online, doing online exercises and planning outside challenges. After just a few exercises, I’m making incredible progress…significantly more progress than their averages show.
If you have trouble with anxiety too and can’t afford the fancy in-office cognitive therapist, please consider Joyable. It’s really helping me and at just the perfect time!