Flare and Fade

Herpe Shner Myurrrrrr!

Rebecca Brink

Despite the fact that I've managed to only post twice in the last 3 months, Flare and Fade has increasing numbers of visitors per day over time.

What is wrong with you people? Is the Internet that barren?

But thank you, and I promise that 2015 will be much more eventful here.

I'm restructuring the site a little bit - my pictures are staying, of course, but the depression journal is gone (if you have it bookmarked, it's still viewable, but I'm not linking in the header anymore). The comments are still, and always will be, off, because while I'm not a pro-censorship fascist, I'm happy to keep the kind of vitriol that comment sections tend to inspire out of my life and let habitual commenters voice their opinions elsewhere on this vast and diverse Internet. The project I had been working on over the summer wound up being a little bit too much for me to handle, so that's gone. 

In its place is a submission form. The new Flare and Fade will have a lot more to do with the title of the blog, which is taken from a Doctor Who episode in which Eleven tells Amy: "I'm not running away from things, I'm running to them, before they flare and fade forever."

I want to have a blog where I can write about things that I love so much that I can't contain it, and where I can write about other weirdos who have pursued something with what seems like interest well out of proportion to the thing itself. I want to have a blog where I can experiment with language in a way that I can't at my day job. I want to have a blog where I can make mistakes in the process of pursuing the best parts of myself, my mind, and my life. 

And I want to host that for other people as well. So if you happen to have undue interest in something, and I think everyone does have undue interest in something, please pitch me. My interests are only so wide and I want to know why this weird thing is so important to you, and why it's important to the world at large, what it reflects about our reality - whatever that is.

So happy new year! New blog posts start on Monday. You can expect to hear from me every Monday, whether it's a written post, photography, art, or a video. I'm hoping to get 2 guest posts a month on Wednesdays.

I'll see you around, and your patronage will finally start paying off, I think.

It's just not that hard

Rhetoric, Feminism, justiceRebecca Brink

I was walking home with Michael this evening and I was telling him that my intuition was telling me that we're on the verge of a real revolutionary moment. It's been a bad year for women, it's been a bad year for people of color: Mike Brown, Marissa Alexander, Eric Garner, Janay Rice, Tamir Rice, Retaeh Parsons, Ezell Ford, Yvette Smith, Dante Parker, the Farr Road Victim, Jordan Baker, John Crawford. Isla Vista, Marysville-Pilchuck (yes, that's gender-based violence). Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi. And on, and on, and on.

It's gotten so bad that I don't think any of us buy the idea that the higher-ups are actually looking out for us, or actually have our best interests at heart. I can't imagine what measures it would take to make us feel like we're valued American citizens. Even an indictment for Darren Wilson - and everyone knew that wasn't going to happen - wouldn't have changed the impunity with which so many other people have been killed. And we're all just so tired of being told that there was something we could have done better to avoid being killed, profiled, harassed, raped. We're through with this culture. We're through with this government. We don't trust either. It has to change. 

I think we're on the verge of a revolution. 

And I say that having studied revolutions, specifically revolutions for independence in Africa, Socialist revolutions in Russia, and revolutions for democracy in Germany, Poland, and the rest of the Soviet Bloc. It's just - I know this is going to sound weird and very superficial, but, it's cold out and people are turning out in droves. That actually means something. That's a canary in a coal mine, in terms of activism. Our outrage is warming us.

I told Michael, "I'm afraid women are going to be left behind." I elaborated on that statement some: People seem to be more comfortable being vocally outraged with the complete disregard with which Black lives are treated in America than they are being outraged with the complete disregard with which women's lives and autonomy are and have been treated in America. It's not that I think one must be more important than the other, of course: to some extent, they're separate issues that require a different vocabulary altogether. To some other extent, to a greater extent, there's a lot of overlap. The overlap is horrifying. Yes, our culture feels entitled to women's bodies: Nowhere is that more evident than the way we treat the bodies of women of color.

But it occurred to me: "I might just be worried about my place in this moment, as a white woman." I might be clutching for representation, and if I am, I'm clutching for representation that I already have. The women of color who are organizing so many of the Ferguson-related actions and doing some of the best reportage are vocal feminists. Why should I feel afraid for my representation as a woman

My womanhood is represented. My whiteness isn't. I'm OK with that. The fact is that I've found this year that many, many white feminists are unreliable allies to women of color. I've found this year that feminists of color have more dynamic, less regressive ideas about how to move feminism forward. I'm thinking of Mikki Kendall, Mychal Denzel Smith, Tracy Clayton, Bhas, Luvvie Ajayi, Jamilah Lemieux, Aura Bogado, Soraya Chemaly, Franchesca Ramsey, Wagatwe Wanjuki, April Reign, Mia McKenzie, and, of course, Jesse Williams and Roxane Gay. Black Twitter - and every other representation of people of color on Twitter - has been more informative to listen to than the thinkpiece re-cycle of white feminist writing that constitutes the majority of feminist content on the Internet.

And yes, I'm part of that problem, and yes, I'm trying to do what I can, little by little, to fix it.

I said it on Twitter before: #YesAllWomen means we stand together. If we're in a cultural moment wherein marginalized groups are starting to rally together for real change, I have to sort of immolate my non-marginalized identity to be a part of it. My non-marginalized identity is my identity as white.

I say "immolate" for the sake of poetics. Of course, it's easier than that. All it means is being aware of the fact that I have been grasping my white privilege and saying things like "I'm afraid women are going to get left behind in this movement" when women have in fact been extraordinarily included in it, have been leading it, and the "women" I was referring to is really code for "white women." All it means is catching myself when I'm saying something questionable, recognizing that it might be arising from my privilege, talk it out, and do better next time. It's a dose of self-awareness and humility. It's a matter of not digging your heels in and defending your privilege because it makes you comfortable.

It's just not that hard.

My Marathon Playlist

About Me, FunsiesRebecca Brink

Somehow y'all keep visiting even when I'm not posting, which means YOU ARE THE BEST. Thank you. I've been having very, very, very bad insomnia for the last two weeks in addition to the stress that comes along with starting a new job and finishing training for a marathon (plus, I've taken TWO injuries in the last three weeks of training which has been JUST GREAT). That's why I haven't been around. I will be around more. Soon. I might start doing more personal posts, narrative nonfiction, and artwork, because those things flow out of my brain a little easier.

The Chicago Marathon is tomorrow! I'm running for Advocate Illinois Masonic Behavioral Health, which provides low-income patients with comprehensive mental healthcare. I've reached my fundraising REQUIREMENT but I would love love love it if I got more donations. I'm able to fundraise through the end of the year, so if you happen to have a few dollars and want to help provide mental healthcare for the people who need it most, please head over to my fundraising page. I'll probably mention it a lot, because I care about Masonic Behavioral Health a lot.

In the absence of more interesting things to say, I'm just going to post my running playlist in order of artists. My theory through training was to only put songs I really, really liked listening to on my playlist, and for the marathon, in order not to repeat any songs, I've had to add some in that are sort of Tier 2. Anyway, here you go. It clocks in a 6 hours and 5 minutes JUST IN CASE.

 

Alexander

  • Truth

Andrew W.K.

  • Party Hard
  • She Is Beautiful

April March

  • Chick Habit

Bell Biv Devoe

  • Poison

Beyoncé

  • Drunk In Love
  • Partition
  • XO
  • ***Flawless
  • Video Phone
  • Countdown

Bob Marley

  • Is This Love

Bon Jovi

  • Wanted Dead or Alive

Britney Spears

  • Work Bitch

Bush

  • Machinehead

Buzzcocks

  • I Don't Mind
  • Ever Fallen In Love?

Chuck Berry

  • You Never Can Tell

The Clash

  • Rock the Casbah
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go

Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • Up Around the Bend
  • Fortunate Son

David Bowie

  • Heroes
  • Queen Bitch
  • Starman
  • Ziggy Stardust

Dead Milkmen

  • Punk Rock Girl

Dengue Fever

  • Tiger Phone Card

Diamond Rings

  • Wait & See
  • You & Me
  • Something Else
  • All Yr Songs

Dion & The Belmonts

  • Runaround Sue (by the way, between The Wanderer and Runaround Sue, Dion was a total hypocrite)

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes

  • 40 Day Dream
  • Om Nashi Me
  • Home

Erasure

  • Chains of Love
  • A Little Respect

Future Islands

  • Spirit

eorge Harrison

  • What Is Life

Janelle Monae

  • Tightrope (which, by the way, is MY FAAAAAVE running song)

Jay-Z

  • Picasso Baby
  • Somewhere in America
  • 99 Problems
  • Takeover

Jimi Hendrix

  • Foxy Lady

Joan Jett

  • Bad Reputation

Kanye West

  • Gold Digger
  • Gone

The Knife

  • Heartbeats
  • Pass This On

Kriss Kross

  • Jump

Lady GaGa

  • Applause
  • Born This Way
  • Bad Romance
  • Telephone

Led Zeppelin

  • Whole Lotta Love

Lorde

  • Tennis Court
  • 400 Lux
  • Royals

Matt & Kim

  • Daylight
  • Let's Go
  • Now

Nicki Minaj

  • Anaconda (that song fell into my training like manna from heaven)

No Doubt

  • Just A Girl
  • Sunday Morning
  • You Can Do It

OK Go

  • WTF?
  • White Knuckles
  • End Love
  • Do What You Want
  • Here It Goes Again

Pixies

  • Debaser
  • Wave of Mutilation
  • Gigantic

Regina Spektor

  • Better
  • On The Radio
  • Us

Scissor Sisters

  • I Don't Feel Like Dancin'

Sleigh Bells

  • Crown on the Ground

St. Vincent

  • Bring Me Your Loves
  • Digital Witness

Streetlight Manifesto

  • Here's to Life
  • Dear Sergio
  • We Will Fall Together
  • Somewhere in the Between
  • Punk Rock Girl (yes, I have two versions of the same GREAT song on my playlist)
  • Such Great Heights

Sugarhill Gang

  • Apache (Jump On It)

The Toadies

  • Possum Kingdom
  • Away

Wilson Pickett

  • Land of 1000 Dances

Young Fathers (btw DEAD is my favorite album of the year, hands-down)

  • No Way
  • Low
  • Get Up

The Zombies

  • This Will Be Our Year
  • She's Not There

 

Great taste in music or GREATEST EVER TASTE IN MUSIC? Only time will tell.

I Don't Want to Work, I Just Want to Watch Zelda Walkthrough Videos All Day

Rhetoric, About Me, WritingRebecca Brink

Michael got me hooked on Ocarina of Time walkthrough videos, not because he plays Zelda, but because he plays other games and watches competitive gaming. He said it was fun, so I applied that logic to my favorite video game, and now I can't stop.

OMG

(Keep in mind that I write these posts the night beforehand, which is why I'm watching Zelda walkthroughs right now and not working. Amelia, I promise I am not a slacker.)

If I'm going to comment on any piece of rhetoric today, it's going to be the idea of "needing to." "You need to do this!" That's generally only applicable regarding breathing, eating, sleeping, eliminating, etc. I don't know what's more petulant - me saying "Um, no, I really don't need to do almost anything," or someone deigning to tell me what my life requires in the first place.

It's different, obviously, when we tell ourselves what we "need" to do - which is still, in reality, not much - because we're just trying to tick things off a list, most of the time. That being said, my therapist has been working on getting me to stop talking about what I "should" or "need to" be doing, because then my reaction to not doing those things is a low-level but compounding sense of shame for not accomplishing those things. It's anxiety-inducing, in other words, and it's bad enough when I tell myself what I need to do; it's outright offensive to me when someone else prescribes something for me, especially when either they don't know me tremendously well or that something else is a matter of their personal tastes, or both.

In some ways it's a critique. But it's not a very well-argued critique, because the fallacy lies in the idea of needing. Anyone you critique doesn't need to change, at all. You can suggest that changes might be beneficial, but no one ever needs to change, existentially speaking.

Yes, Of Course I'm Angry, and It Probably Won't Change For A While

Rebecca Brink

I occasionally get critiques for writing what some readers consider unfunny vitriol, or writing in a tone that's too angry or condescending. 

I don't care.

I care about my writing consistently improving, and I care if my anger gets in the way of that, but in the grand scheme of things, I write well. I write what I'm passionate about. I find vitriol funny when it's aimed at the right people or things, and that's a valid taste to have. And yes, I am angry. I'm angry about the horrible shit that has happened to me in my life. I'm angry about the horrible shit that happens to other women and to men. I'm angry about people who say that the homeless are lazy; I'm angry at the detective who had no right to grab my phone and start going through my unrelated, irrelevant text messages to come to the personal conclusion that I wasn't raped, I'm just a slut; I'm angry at my ex for the $400 loan payments I make every month for money we borrowed together, just one more way of extending his manipulation and control over my life; I'm angry at feminist media for ignoring stories about the horrific, ongoing physical and sexual violence against Black women and Latinas that is committed every day; I'm angry at the people who hate mail me to tell me I'm a cunt; I'm angry at the men on the street who reduce me to my body when all I want to do is go to the god damned bank and now every time I wear tight clothes I feel like I have to be prepared to respond to some bullshit someone thinks I "deserve" for wearing comfortable, flexible fabrics; I'm angry that my trans friends are being harassed not only by their peers, not only by their parents, not only by employers, not only by landlords, but now also by Facebook, a tool they're supposed to be able to use to connect to the communities who actually DO support them; I'm angry that I know now that my high school rapist became a drug addict and so now I have no reason to just brush it off by saying "I hope he fixed things and didn't do that again and I wish him well in life"; I'm angry at men who corner me and other women on the train and harass us until we're forced to leave and wait for the next train, which is a crapshoot anyway; I'm angry at all the hipster douchebags who hide their racism and misogyny and bad behavior under intellectualism and theory and excuses, excuses, excuses; I'm angry that I can't just watch a god damned comedy special without anticipating an unfunny, offensive "joke" about women that really just amounts to "women are a joke" and I'm angry that there are so few specials featuring women comics.

And I'm angry at the people who gaslight me, the people who say that my anger makes whatever argument I'm making invalid. I'm angry at the people who bother to read my work, which is frequently very personal, but can't puzzle out why I make vitriolic jokes.

I'm working on my anger. Not because I care how other people receive it, not because I think it makes me a bad writer, but because it eats away at me sometimes. And in the meantime, I try to cut through the frustration to get to the core of why I'm angry, and I try to share that with people. In the meantime, I try to be funny. Believe it or not, a lot of readers like it. A lot of readers can relate to my anger and frustration and heartbreak and desperation.

I can't just switch it off. It's the result of years of living with problems that I don't know how to solve, and it's the result of knowing, deep down inside, that some of them are not resolvable. And it's a result of the fact that at this particular point in my life, I am not capable of accepting that. So I host the anger, and I try to do the best work I can with it.

Why I Give Money To the Homeless, and You Should Too

Fact CheckRebecca Brink
  1. Because I have money to give. Even when I was “broke,” I was less broke than the homeless. I still had money that I spent on unnecessary shit. So I’d have to buy unnecessary shit one less time for every time that I gave money to the homeless, which, especially considering how much money it is to them, is not that big of a deal for me.

  2. Because I don’t give a shit if they spend it on drugs. Detoxing is a fucking nightmare. IF the person you’re giving money to happens to be addicted to drugs, it should not be up to you to determine when they detox. The best-case scenario is that they do it under the supervision of trained medical professionals, not while they’re starving on the street because so many people refused to give them money that they couldn’t afford food, shelter, OR a fix. So you’re concerned for their life? Well, theoretically, by not giving them money, you’re forcing them to die struggling on the street rather than slipping away in an overdose. Which death would you prefer? How on Earth do you think a poverty-induced street detox is going to end well? Help get them through until they can get help.

  3. Because they’re adults, and they can make their own decisions with their money. I’m not going to patronize other human adults - including the mentally ill, and yes, many of the homeless are mentally ill - by pretending that I know what’s best for them as regards the way they spend their money. It’s empowering to be able to make your own decisions. They have so little empowerment because they have so little money. I care for their dignity, I care for their empowerment, I want them to succeed, so I give them their money and I give them my trust as a fellow human adult.

  4. Because the money I give them is charity, not an investment. We talk about the money we give to the homeless as if we want to see results on the money we give, as if we expect them to use a few cents and make something of themselves with it, which is the most obnoxious buy-in to the “bootstraps” bullshit I can think of. All they can do is buy themselves a roof for the night or a little bit of food. Life is expensive. They’re not going to be able to get a permanent address, a haircut, a new wardrobe, and a job with your petty change. But at least they’ll be able to survive, and if you want to consider your charity an investment, consider the fact that they’re still alive and therefore still have a chance to be the return.

  5. Because the government isn’t going to help them. For one, the police SURE aren’t going to help them. But for another, funding for homeless assistance has been steadily decreasing in America. Homeless shelters are often full, there’s nowhere to get food, and community mental health clinics are closing with increasing frequency. They do not have the resources they need, and our politicians are entrenching them in homelessness. I do not believe in this form of governance. I believe the government should be investing in the welfare of its citizens, especially those who need the most help. But since that isn’t the case, I consider it my responsibility as a human being to help them in the government’s stead. I can donate to homeless assistance agencies, and I can give them money when they ask for it.


Stop being a patronizing dick and start giving your money to the homeless. There is no moral grey area on this issue.

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Rebecca Brink

Part 1

Feminism  is a form of radical authoritarian gender structure that came to prominence in the early 20th century. Influenced by gender syndicalism, feminism originated in America in the years leading up to World War I, combining more typically right-wing positions with elements of left-wing politics, in opposition to liberalism, Marxism, and traditional conservatism. Although feminism is usually placed on the far-right on the traditional left–right spectrum, a number of academics have said that the description is inadequate.

Feminists sought to unify their gender through an authoritarian state that promoted the mass mobilization of the female community and were characterized by having leadership that initiated a revolutionary political movement aiming to reorganize the gender along principles according to feminist ideology. Feminist movements shared certain common features, including the veneration of the gender, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultra-feminism and militarism. Feminism views political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve feminine rejuvenation, and it asserts that stronger genders have the right to expand their socio-political power by displacing weaker genders.

Feminist ideology consistently invokes the primacy of the female. Leaders such as Benito Mussolini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany embodied their gender and claimed immense power. Feminism borrowed theories and terminology from socialism but replaced socialism's focus on class conflict with a focus on conflict between nations and races. Feminists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky to secure female self-sufficiency and independence through protectionist and interventionist economic policies. Following World War II, few parties have openly described themselves as feminist, and the term is usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The terms neo-feminist or post-feminist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far right with ideological similarities to, or roots in, 20th century feminist movements.***

Part 2

We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” Angela Davis.

“The doctrine of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism, and ought to have no place among Republicans and Christians.” Angelina Grimke.

“Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

“I speak not for myself but for those without voice, those who have fought for their rights, their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” Malala Yousafzai.

“The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” Audre Lorde.

“I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.” Simone de Beauvoir.

“The authority of any governing institution must stop at its citizen's skin.” Gloria Steinem.

“Once you do away with the idea of people as fixed, static entities, then you see that people can change, and there is hope.” bell hooks.

“We too often bind ourselves by authorities rather than by the truth.” Lucretia Mott.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” Frederick Douglass.

“Gender is a straitjacket for the human soul. Gender works us all over, makes enemies of the people we’re supposed to love.” Laurie Penny.

 

Braindead

Rebecca Brink

Soooo this was my first week at The Frisky as Associate Editor which is great for about ten million different reasons but also I am more than a little bit braindead and haven't yet figured out how exactly to handle life as a responsible adult who writes her own blog posts ahead of time so that it doesn't get lost amongst work/marathon training/having a boyfriend. I also haven't picked up the phone when my mom has called in the last three days, the first time because I was still working and the second time because I was on the bus and all I wanted to do was get my ass home SORRY MOM. I didn't post yesterday and I'm copping out by writing this shit today.

Sorry for the placeholder. Hopefully over the weekend I'll be brilliant.

Forgive Me

Art, RhetoricRebecca Brink

Today was my first day working full-time in over a year, and I'm behind on backlogging posts for F&F. FORGIVE ME FOR MY LATENESS, DAMN IT

To make it up to you, here's a video to which I was directed from the eminent Bad at Sports which I promise will be worth your 7 minutes and 21 seconds:

I unironically love everything that's tacky or, you know, um, not so well-executed. I can't tell you how many bad movies I've watched. I'm sure this is a part of my brain that went haywire in high school, when I spent a more-than-decent chunk of my free time with a guy who intentionally sought out bad movies. I moved to my neighborhood partially because there's a record/cd/video store nearby that stocks ripped c-movies and cult stuff.

One of my friends on Facebook, a few weeks ago, posted that there was a very good-looking man in the café in which she was working who clearly knew that he was good-looking, and she knew this because whenever he caught someone staring at him, he would wink at them like "Yeah, I know, thanks." Also tacky; also love it. Why bother with faux-grace?

I also am a big big big big big big big big big big big big BIG fan of Lynda Benglis, and I'm sure that people who recreationally twist their underwear into knots, shove them up their own buttholes, and walk around like that all day will hate the fact that I'm going to call Lynda Benglis tacky, but what the fuck else is her Artforum ad?

Image via Daily Serving

Image via Daily Serving

What else are her Sparkle Knots?

Image via MOCA

Image via MOCA

Lynda Benglis saw a connection between what people call "tacky" and therefore unfit for the art world, and the arts and crafts materials that women and girls are encouraged to use, which seems simultaneously like an insult to femininity, a stereotyping of femininity, and a discouragement of girls and women to engage with "higher" forms of art. And why? Why is glitter tacky? Why is acrylic tacky? What makes it not sophisticated enough?

There's a sort of implication that to be forthright and obvious isn't elegant enough to qualify an object or a product or a mode of behavior as intelligent or engaging, but part of the problem with the contemporary art world is that a lot of art historians obscure their critiques with unintelligible language, and a lot of artists either obscure meaning behind excessive language about symbology that isn't that complicated. I mean, fuck, just listen to Jeff Koons, for god's sake. It's not that I agree with Morley Safer, it's that I understand why he's so fucking confused.

And lord knows, I appreciate a piece of art that's elegantly executed. But obfuscation isn't elegance; there's a line between them that I'd rather not cross, even if that means that the greater part of my time consuming art works (of various media) will be spent on products like "Maximum Wage" or Computer Beach Party. At least they're honest.