I love New Years. I love all of them – Jewish, pagan (which would be Halloween), Julian, Chinese, gay (now known as Pride Sunday – the newspaper I work on, UltraViolet, changes volumes in June) … haven’t been to a Nawrouz (Persian New Year) or Diwali (Indian New Year) celebration as yet but hope to soon. I love it because let’s face it, New Year = Hope, and I’m an optimist.
Rebecca Solnit, in her otherwise amazing piece in The Nation, claims, “Optimism says that everything will be fine…,” but she’s wrong. Optimism says, “Everything can be fine.” As I was discussing with friends last night, all activists are optimists (even the ones that are ceaselessly negative in meetings). That’s what enables us to keep going, despite the appearance of getting nowhere. Optimism says, “We can do it.” New Years is the Time of the Optimist.
Here are a few of the things I love:
- Wrap-up shows. Even though they’re mostly all the same, I love seeing the highlight reels, seeing what made people’s lists. Love hearing the best speeches and jeering at the worst.
- Best of lists, especially books. This year’s top entries were For Harriet’s 10 Books Released by Black Women in 2013 You Should Read and Jessica Valenti’s “My Top Ten Favorite Feminist Articles of 2013”.
- Smart people waxing reflective. See above-mentioned Rebecca Solnit and my girls on yesterday’s KPFA Women’s Magazine.
- Law & Order marathons.
- Hearing all the best music of the year at once.
Here’s what I don’t love:
- False cheer
- The emphasis on dating and being kissed at midnight
- Resolutions – especially since so many of them will have to do with dieting, like being thin or depriving yourself is what makes you a good person
- Fixations on elections and what the year will bring for politicians
- Hearing all the worst music of the year at once
Here are a few of my best ofs:
- WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler - can’t say enough good things about this one (thanks, Julie). Run don’t walk to your nearest indy bookstore.
- QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN’T STOP TALKING by Susan Cain - okay, it’s mainstream and promotes a false dichotomy between “extrovert” and “introvert”. I learned a lot about myself and others.
- SHAKE OFF by Mischa Hiller (thanks Radhika) – thriller by a Palestinian author with a Palestinian protagonist. Great characters, fast-moving plot. Just bought SABRA ZOO (his next), but making myself read some serious fiction first
- THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER by Lois Leveen - not perfect, but engrossing story of a freed slave who returns to Richmond (my hometown) to spy for the North. Great woman protagonist; good antidote to “12 Years a Slave” (the movie, not the book) with its lack of depiction of agency by the slaves.
Articles & blogs
Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science? (Eileen Pollack)
Happy to see feminists challenging some harmful dynamics within our movements, without lapsing into solipsism:
- On cynicism, calling out, and creating movements thatdon’t leave our people behind (Verónica Bayetti Flores)
- Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each OtherAccountable (Ngọc Loan Trần)
- What picketing taughtme about feminism (Julia Carrie Wong)
After seeing Henry A. Giroux on Bill Moyers, I became a devotee of Giroux and his Public Intellectual Project. This article rocked my world: The Spectacle of Illiteracy and the Crisis of Democracy
- Anti-Gentrification Activism in San Francisco – it’s been a long time coming, but the last year has seen an explosion of activism to halt displacement and reclaim the city for the people who made it. Hopefully not too late!
- San Francisco Google bus blockade (subset of above) - great new tactic, lots of positive energy, hopefully folks won’t overuse it.
- Anonymous queer art countering Islamophobia on San Francisco public transit
- Rising of the Fast Food Workers
- Free Bradley (Chelsea) Manning Contingent and other actions at SF Pride: Nothing like telling people they can’t do something to get people’s creative juices going.
- Boycott SodaStream Super Bowl Video Contesxt – in response to SodaStream’s Super Bowl commercial promoting its settlement-made product, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation sought spoof ads from far and wide. Check them out.
Wishing everyone a joyous, contemplative, creative and revolutionary New Year