I never fully claimed Louisiana or Baton Rouge as my home, and I never participated in the full spectrum of Baton Rouge Mardi Gras events. These past two weeks I’ve been homesick, missing the festival spirit that consumes the entire state, even the most reclusive among my friends. You’d think the weeks and weeks of Mardi Gras spirit – preparations, build up, multiple parades in every town – would be tiring, but it’s just part of the culture, something everyone looks forward to every year. Mardi Gras in New Orleans, pshaw, that’s for the tourists. Mardi Gras everwhere else – that’s a wonderful phenomenon thatRead More →

Sixty years ago the Supreme Court handed down the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Until around 2005 or so, give or take a year, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system operated under a federal desegregation order, one of the longest running orders in the country. Today, Baton Rouge Community College continues to receive entering freshmen educated under that order. Due to the cult of self esteem, the best of these students have been told throughout their education that they can succeed, that they are smart, that they have a future. In college classrooms over time, these students demonstrate facility with logic, organization, and critical thinking. Even though theyRead More →

Grocery stores are the intersections of life. They are sites of culture, commerce, and exchange where we traffic in power relations, interpersonal connections, and political commitments. They are stages for enacting liberal guilt and way stations for the study of food politics. I have become highly conscious of this complexity while trying to wean myself of my unhealthy addiction to Walmart. I am getting better. Months pass between my visits to that pernicious place. There are few alternatives, however.  Lately the Baton Rouge liberal community developed a deep interest in solving the “food desert” problem. The savings at Walmart are considerable. I force myself toRead More →

Forgetting to post gratitudes makes me forget to be grateful. 1. The BRCC community for fortitude in the face of uncertainty. 2. The Boomerangs of Baton Rouge for planting the seeds of cosmopolitan life in this city. 3. The LGBT activists for persistence and vision. 4. Dialogue on Race Louisiana for forging ahead. 5. The LSU Performance Studies folks for unwavering spirit and creativity. 6. BRPN for progressing in spite of it all. 7. The Unitarian Church for providing an early haven, however brief. 8. The women I worked with at the LSU Women’s Center. You built something wonderful and sustainable, and I am honoredRead More →

Since the summer, I have volunteered for a radio show called Third Place on WHYR 96.9 Baton Rouge Community Radio. A “third place” is a public, non-commerical place where people engage in civic discourse about important ideas and issues. The show is something like a local left-leaning NPR. Initially, everything on the show was pre-recorded and edited,  and now it’s all live. Everything is archived on MixCloud. Here is the link to the archive: 3dP on MixCloud Some fun shows: Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray, and female sexuality Beasts of the Southern Wild Our Walmart and the WalMarchRead More →

“Make it Do” is better than recycling, International Buy Nothing Day, and homemade Christmas presents all put together. Our daily infrastructure makes it so hard to recycle. It’s better not to buy in the first place. The Baton Rouge Recycling Office has an excellent link to the Center for a New American Dream. The Center promotes anti-consumption, with loads of resources about cutting down on trash. The actual link about “reducing junk mail” is buried on the site. Someone at the Recycling Office is very clever. The Center’s clear anti-capitalism message will turn folks away and their junk mail will continue to clog Baton Rouge’sRead More →

Teaching issues of race and other identity categories presents a challenge in a racially mixed classroom. Student responses to race-related topics are unpredictable, and can send irretrievably shut down classroom dynamics for the rest of the semester. Last semester, for instance,  as some intentionally provocative students claimed that black people really do like fried chicken, others genuinely bought into the stereotype, and the class deteriorated into a discussion about fried chicken, rather than the point of stereotypes. Reigning in these kinds of conversations get increasingly difficult, and conversations get more uncomfortable and tense as conservative rhetoric toward people of color gets more hostile. If theRead More →

Driving home to Baton Rouge from vacation in Tampa, and blogging from a wi-fi hotspot generated by a Palm Pre, we’re stuck in a traffic jam outside of Gainsville for almost an hour.  An 18-wheeler jack-knifed across two lanes.This makes me think about what I miss about Tampa,  a place I called home for ten years. In no particular order: 1. Disney – Grueling in August, when we usually go, but magical during the cooler weather. (Magical is cliche, but apt.) 2. Orange blossoms – Not only do they smell divine, they smell of divinity. 3. Cuban food – From the dive at the stripRead More →