Monthly Archives: May 2006

Media Fines Should Fund Media Justice

You know those anti-tobacco ads? The ones that are actually smart and funny and punchy? Those are collectively known as the Truth Campaign. They've been shown to be very, very effective – they're credited with up to 20% of the recent drop in teen smoking. And they're paid for by the tobacco industry.

Why would they do that? Because they had to, of course. As you may recall, in the late 90s, states Attorneys General filed a big class action lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Part of the settlement from those suits went to create the American Legacy Foundation, which basically works to stop smoking through consumer education, ad campaigns, grant-making, etc.

The whole Star/Power 105 has put the idea of FCC fines back in the spotlight, last up for discussion during the wardrobe malfunction debacle. Where do those fines go, you ask? Good question. They go straight into the Federal Treasury, to pay for things like war and the deficit (for a full breakdown of Federal spending, check out the good folks at the National Priorities Project).
I say the fines on companies like ClearChannel or ABC should go into a fund to support media literacy and media justice efforts.  The money could fund some existing groups like the Youth Media Council and Radio Rootz and Third World Majority, or it could start something new and amazing. 

New, amazing, and meaningfully independent, which I grant is not bloody likely under this administration.  But I think there's something to this idea.  And hey, if the Dems take at least one house, there's a slim chance of something good happening in DC.  I'm certainly not arguing in favor of FCC fines for ridiculous things like the Janet Jackson nipple, or bachelor party scenes in reality TV shows.  But for things like the recent Star comments on ClearChannel's Power 105 in New York, hell yes.  And those fines should pay to take ClearChannel down.


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Ravioli with Dandelion Greens and Goat Cheese

I like to eat, and I like to cook even more. Most of my friends only like to eat and have no idea how to cook. It's not hard. So I'm going to start posting some of my favorite recipes up on here, in the hopes that some of you will take action.

Raviolis with Dandelion Greens and Goat Cheese


– frozen raviolis (my personal favorite are the Rising Moon organic Butternut Squash raviolis with hazelnut, so good)

– dandelion greens (one bunch)
– onion (one, small)

– tomatoes (two medium plum is my preference)

– goat cheese

– olive oil

1) Put water on the boil for the pasta

2) Chop up the onion really small, maybe even half the onion, unless you really like it. Put some olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat (not too hot!), then when the oil is hot, toss in the onion. Cook that shit until the onion is translucent.

3) Chop the tomatoes up into small chunks. Toss them in with the onion, still on medium heat.

4) Rinse the dandelion greens, then chop them up small too. Don't cook the stems at the bottom, cause those are tough. Just chop the green bits. Then stick them in the pan with the tomato and onion.

5) Cook that for a couple minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon or something. Then add a bit of water, enough to swish the greens around in the bottom of the pan but not enough to submerge them. We're trying to steam them. Then stick a lid on the pan, to cook the greens down. Throw some salt in there too.

6) The water is now boiling. Throw the ravioli in there, *not* into rapidly boiling water! Let the water boil and then turn it down a little, cause the rapid boil will make the raviolis burst out their insides. Follow the cooking instructions on the package, but it'll be about 10 minutes or so til they're done. When they're done, they'll float to the top of the water (assuming they're not stuck to the bottom of the pan).

7) Drain the pasta, and check on your greens. The greens should have cooked down and be a very nice bright green color. Turn the heat off on that, and throw the drained raviolis in there with the greens and tomatoes.

8) Add some goat cheese. Just crumble it on top and stir it all around. The greens and pasta should get kind of creamy. I like it with still some unmelted chunks of creamy goat cheese.


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Adulthood in the Naughties

Some people call this moment the Oughts. I, for one, call this decade the Noughties, or rather, the naughties. Ought versus naughty seems appropriate for this day and age, that early twenty-first century mix of obligation and duty with decadence and something like depravity. Actually, that sounds awfully like the early twentieth century too, but that's another post.

Thirty is the new twenty, they say. We (and by we I mean mostly white, mostly some variant of middle class New Yorkers) are dressing in t-shirts and jeans and hoodies til we're old and grey, as chronicled in New York magazine. Lots of people in this thirty-something range don't have proper jobs, proper apartments, or proper furniture. People are still doing bumps in bar bathrooms and eating frozen dinners. 

But more and more under-employed t-shirt wearing folks my age are buying homes and having babies. For those of us who aren't settling down with children, this can make you feel a bit like you haven't grown up – that you're living in the naughties, and ignoring the oughts.

I was talking to a friend who also spends his life working in the social justice movement, and he was saying that he sometimes feels like he hasn't grown up – we are still working for low wages, adamantly doing the work for the love and not the money. We can't buy houses, we don't have savings, and a lot of us don't have health insurance.

First, obviously, being able to choose to earn low wages, have no health care and very little job security is an incredible privilege.  It's not just rich white kids who are making that choice though.  It's a lot of people who feel caught between taking care of the movement and taking care of their families – families who also don't have savings, health insurance, or own homes, and our parents aren't getting any younger.  But we are made to feel not adult if we choose to grow the movement rather than owning a home or having children.   

There are different ways to be an adult.  Some of us spend our twenties and thirties working to raise and build the movement.  Some us spend our twenties and thirties working to raise and build our families.  Some few of us manage to balance the two.  But none of those are invalid choices.  Raising a family can be movement-building.  Building the movement can build family.  

So take heart, my childless renters.  You live here in the oughts too.  It's not the prettiest place to be, since our obligations include shutting down the war, getting the Republicans out in the mid-terms and 08, protecting the eroding right to choose, the degrading environment, rebuilding New Orleans, and the oughts go on.  And to all my friends having children and wearing that adult mantle not bestowed on the likes of me, come visit in the naughties – I did quit smoking, but the drinking and dancing are still a damn good time.    

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New York Moment of the Moment

On uptown 2 train tonight, there was a very heavy teenage girl taking up-close pictures of her mouth with her camera phone, her tongue sticking out to one side. It looked louche and mostly repulsive. I don't think it's what the Times had in mind with their semi-recent article on teen self-portraits.  The scene was sweet, earnest, and depressing all at once.  

Then on the train home over the bridge I was looking out the window and wondering how many times I'll get to see that view. If I took that train every night for three years, it'd be about a thousand times, and that feels like a lot and a little. A thousand years is a lot. A thousand dollars is medium. A thousand pennies is a pain in the ass and not much at all. I know Paul Bowles wrote about that feeling about 60 years ago, in the Sheltering Sky, but as I get older, a lot of pleasure is tinged with the question – how many more times will I do this? Eat a grilled cheese and drink a shake at Friendly's? Skinnydip? Go to Fenway?

The other day I was talking to a friend who doesn't get out much; her health isn't too hot. It was one of the first warm days, spring and yellow-green. She said that on days like that, she wishes she had walked more when she had the chance, just gone out for a stroll in the sun. And a few nights later, I was down by Battery Park after watching my friend's great new movie. I was feeling fine, and decided to walk up to Canal. I was listening to music loud and had that great New York feeling where you own the city and nothing can stop you, not tonight and not ever. When I got to Canal Street I just kept walking, past the train and away from home.

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