Saturday, June 25, 2005

School of Thought

I just read an op-ed piece written by a gay New York public middle school teacher. He told a story of finding a note two female students were writing which referred to him as a "faggot" and depicted him in crude sexual illustrations. He goes on to mention that another gay teacher at the school, a lesbian, had faced similar homophobia in her classroom. In his case, the school's solution was to have the students write an entended letter of apology. In the lesbian teacher's scenario, the students had to do a report on Matthew Shepard. The idea was to raise awareness about the consequences of homophobia.

Am I the only one who thinks that this was a complete waste of time? Does the school really think the kids are going to change their ways after copying an article off the Internet? As for the apology--well, I don't think there's anyone better at an insincere "I'm sorry" than a adolescent kid.

Here's my solution: The troublemakers should be put in the middle of the classroom, while the rest of the class is encouraged to hurl epithets at them. Whatever specific problem the kids have--acne, obesity, a lazy eye--should be targeted to cause the most emotional damage. That would shut those little pieces of shit up, right quick.

The bottom line is that we're obsessed with "raising awareness"--about homophobia, about drug abuse, about poverty in Africa (thank you, Live 8). Raising awarness is just code for feeling good about doing absolutely nothing. If your goal is something vague like raising awarness--rather than generating funds or stopping legislation--you cant really fail, can you? Everyone goes home happy.

The gay community is the worst offender of this: That drugged-out circuit party? Oh, it was a "AIDS Awareness" benefit. That sexy poster on the bus shelter? It's a crystal meth awarness ad. It's like we can't bring ourselves to accept that people just don't give a fuck, so we tell ourselves they're just not "aware" of the problem.

And on that note: Happy Pride, everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Creme Brule

Tyler Brule in his perfectly-appointed loft apartment in Hell.

As I'm writing this, I'm sort-of watching a documentary on Sunday about *wallpaper founder Tyler Brule. I'd been a fan of the magazine for a few years in the late '90s, when I was obsessed with living the glamorous life. This was the height of the cocktail nation scene and my roommate and I had done over our apartment as something like a space-age bachelor pad, complete with a fully stocked bar, coke mirror and Nina Simone posters. We had barely any money, but in the 90s in D.C., with a few connections and a lot of imagination, you could live pretty glamorously.

The point is, back then I would have totally worshipped Brule if I had known who he was. But watching Tyler Brule: My Life, my fantasy is totally ruined. The entire film is Brule speaking extemporaneously and revealing what an arrogant, deluded jackass he is.

Apparently, he had some sort of epiphany while covering the war in Afghanistan (the pre-9/11 one, that is) as a news reporter for the BBC. His convoy was shot at by rebels and Brule suffered serious injuries (translation: a bullet grazed his arm.)

"Ultimately, I think Afghanistan was a good thing," he says to the camera, "because it made me a better person." So, basically, it's "Screw the victims of this senseless feud, I just had a great idea for an overpriced bathroom read!"

It turns out 36-year-old Brule (which he pronounces Bru-LEY, but you just know everyone else in his family pronounces BROOL) is both Canadian AND gay-—and I can't help but think he's trying to overcompensate for these two strikes by being as effete and elitist as humanly possible. Its like Martha Stewart reincarnated as Addison DeWitt.

Now, don't get me wrong—I'm a lifestyle journalist myself and can be pretty damn shallow at times, but I don't run around belittling the 'little' people or acting like I'm following some higher calling. Brule is the kind of over-mannered, self-important hew-mo-seks-yew-al who uses phrases like "etcetera, etcetera," "if you will," and "one" instead of "you," (as in "one can never have enough hats, gloves and shoes").

Here's another Brulism I just overheard: "I would describe a simple experience as not having to drive around London when I can have someone do it for me, who is a professional, in a Mercedes S-Class sedan." Yes, I was just telling that to the Rothschilds yesterday over caipirinhas at Soho House.

Oh Jesus, he just pronounced Glamour magazine Gla-moooor. Somebody needs to put him down.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Hello Dolly

A few weeks ago, I blogged about "reborn" dolls--store-bought dolls modified to look more lifelike by a rather disturbed but growing number of "enthusiasts."

On a slightly related note, a friend recently e-mailed me a link to HEST of Europe, who are finally (yay!) bringing their line of popular Down Syndrome dolls to the U.S.

I'm not sure what is more disturbing, the fact that these dolls look like Cabbage Patch Kids with a little too much stuffing or the atrocious outfits they've been fitted with?

The whole thing just reeks of a bad joke: Nappy-headed Tatjana (see above) informs us "roller-blading & meeting new friends are the things to do in Eastern Europe" (second only to hoarding bread and avoiding organ thieves) while delighfully dowdy Francesca tells us that "flowers and animals is what I enjoy painting in Northern Europe." Are we to assume Frannie's poor grammar is a result of her disability or ignorance on the part of the website designer?

Now, I know some of you are thinking, "Dan, it's good that they make Down Syndrome dolls. Every kid should have toys that reflect who they are and that tell them they are normal." I don't neccessarily disagree, but doesn't having a "special" doll for "special" kids single them out even more?

Plus, consumer research has proven time and again that, given the choice, most minority kids want dolls that represent the mainstream. They want Barbie, not black Barbie or "ethnic" Barbie or differently-abled Barbie (not that most white, Christian able-bodied girls look like Barbie, either). We're talking about lifeless husks of plastic and synthetic hair, either way. At some point, the kids are going to have to use their imagination.

Should I even mention Benny, the Anatomical Teddy? He's been carefully eviscerated to allow you to demonstrate a variety of illnesses and procedures to your children or young patients--everything from urinary tract infections and tracheotomies to appendectomies and pancreatic cancer. Take that, Teddy Ruxpin!

*The less said about these, the better.

Isn't It Ironic...?

Last night on the F Train, a homeless guy came on and sang "Ain't too Proud to Beg."