Month: June 2009

Mourning the Loss of an Icon

The Oreo Experience laments the loss of a meaningful and important cultural icon: The Grammy for Best Polka Album.grammy_award-300x380

This week, the folks who bring you the Grammy Awards decided to eliminate the award for the best Polka album because the genre is no longer “pertinent in the current musical landscape.”

Hogwash!

PolkaCantDie2The sweet sounds of accordions and tubas in 6/8 time have comforted me on many and many a cold night. And my pilmgramges to The Great Allentown Fair to see 18-time Polka Grammy Winner Jimmy Sturr have been well worth the unpaid days off of work. And if it’s good enough for They Might Be Giants, Weird Al Yankovich and Frank Wojnarowsk, then by gosh, it’s good enough for the rest of us.

So a tip of the hat, a click of the heels and a slap of the thigh to my fellow Czech music enthusiasts. Know that just because the cultural change makers of the nation no longer acknowledges you, I will never forget.

OW Gets Behind the Gays

I would like to extend my sympathies to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community.

This week, President Obama declared June ’09 to be LGBT month.

I would feel less secure about posting this link from a blog of color which explains the situation further were the author not a Republican.

imagesI sympathize intensely with the LGBT community. How on earth can a group blend in if they are pointed out?

I remember the horrors of Black History Month. Every February in grade school, I sat and listened to stories of people who were nothing like me while all my classmates stared at me, waiting for a reaction.

Did they not see my Dead Kennedys Trapper Keeper? My Girl Scout merit badge for dressage? My legacy letter from Bryn Mawr?

My life was nothing like The Life of Frederick Douglass. I had never been firehosed or relegated to a specific water fountain, overjoyed at gospel music or in anything less than a top tier academic magnet school.

But these were the only bits of information our textbooks thought necessary to tell about black people. So my peers looked to me with pity and I looked back at them confused and began the journey that has led to this Oreo Experience. (oooh, titular sentence!)

Why was this the case? Because the month made it so.

And now gays will suffer the same. Dedicated months don’t make people understand the intricacies of another people. They make people annoyed and defensive. And they make it much harder to blend in and ultimately disappear into the warm void of acceptance.

Lets the months be seperate but equal and then maybe we can all just get along

Diary of a Mad White Black Woman – Dancing Lessons with WhitePal

Dear Diary,

The party invitation was terribly misleading.

When I saw the evite for “an engagement party at a castle in the Hills,” I thought:”Perfect! I’ll be in good company.” Why was I so confident? Three key words.

  1. Engagement Party – A social setting where guests are forced to stare at two 72317672people make awkwardly public announcements about their love while pretending that the divorce rate isn’t soaring well above 50%. That  screams Stepford.
  2. Castle – Who lives in castles? English lords, insane Bavarian royalty and the Pope, kind of. ie: White people.
  3. The Hills – Lauren Conrad. Spencer Pratt. Heidi Montag. Enough said.

Imagine my surprise then, when WhitePal and I were greeted with not only an engaged couple of color, but their 45 guests of color as well. From shades of light ethnic, to Southern Baptist, to extras on The Wire, we were surrounded.

I tried to take refuge behind WP, but then…the music started.

A note about WP: He is a great dancer. Amazing. “Ill” as I’m told the kids say. He took to the floor and was immediately the center of attention.

The concentration of so many ethnics made me want to run to the nearest Land Rover dealership and knit a cardigan while doing some hot yoga. But there was something to the scene that looked almost…fun?

Maybe it was the beautiful setting overlooking the Hollywood Hills. Maybe it was the free and happy expressions on the dancers’ faces. Maybe it was dram of gewurtrameiner I had been offered and found necessary to consume. Whatever it was, I wanted to try what I saw on the dance floor. I figured I had earned enough O-points to indulge this one infraction.

As indicated by WP, I have transcribed our conversations accurately to this point. Below is a record of our conversation, and its subtext.

INT. HOLLYWOOD HILLS CASTLE – DANCE FLOOR – NIGHT

OreoWriter hugs the wall while WhitePal finishes a dance battle. Under the sound of applause, OW begins to move timidly toward the dance floor.

OW: I kinda want to come out there (TRANSLATION: I am probably very drunk)

WP: Then do it! (You are probably very drunk.)

WP makes room on the floor and motions for OW to join.

OW: No, no. Don’t call attention to it. (I’m not THAT drunk)

WP: C’mon. Just move. (Because what you’re doing is certainly not “dancing.”)

OW: I don’t know what to do! (There really should have been a disclaimer on the invitation)

WP: Don’t worry about it, just have fun. (What is wrong with you?)

OW: How did you learn this? (Huh…maybe I don’t look totally dumb after all)

WP: You don’t “learn” it, you just…do it. (You definitely look totally dumb)

Another song started and suddenly, the room erupted into a unison chant of all the lonely_goatherdlyrics. How they all knew the words, I don’t know. Even at the best Sound of Music sing-a-longs, we still need the captioning for “The Lonely Goatherd,” and these songs had significantly more complicated verbiage than “laydee-o di laydee-o di lay hee hoo.”

As the guests all turned toward each other in the communion of JayZ, I decided to make my way off of the dance floor and out from under the shadow of shame.

I took a turn on the balcony to collect myself and checked my Blackberry. I saw a new email: an evite to a Pampered Chef Cotillion Ball at a beach house in Laguna. Hopefully that will go better.

Burn Baby, Burn

Slather on the aloe, kids, I did it!

As I type this, the skin on my decolletage is hot to the touch, feels like it is infested with a thousand fire ants and is beginning to blister and peel.

I. Have. Sunburned.

sol01Sunburning is one part of the Oreo lifestyle that cannot be learned. It must be experienced.  While all Oreo hopefuls are able to further their assimilation by taking a class in medieval dress pattern making, renting a kayak for the day or picking up some new tech stocks on eTrade. But a sunburn is a special step.

It’s like a fiery kiss from God saying: “Well done. You’re on your way.”

As a child of color, you are often told that you don’t need to worry about sunscreen because you simply will not burn. This is devastating when trying to blend in. Not only do you tan, which just seems cruel, but you are also left out of conversations about “laying out,” going to tanning salons and recurring freckles.

Thankfully, I defeated the odds.

You may think that the melanoma risk is a hefty price to pay for acceptance. But what’s worse? A relatively treatable medical condition or being considered part of a quota system?

My battle scar did not come easily. It took a drive out of unusually overcast Los Angeles and nearly 8 hours in uncomfortably warm sun to crack the surface. I was sweaty, dehydrated and seeing desert oases where there were none. I wanted to give up, but this lifestyle is a marathon, not a race, so I toughed it out and was rewarded this morning as I rolled over onto my chest and let out a scream of pain that woke my whole building.

When my neighbor came to see if everything was okay, she found me in tears. She tried to comfort me, but there was no need. These were tears of joy at my pain.

Sure it hurts to take a shower or wear shirts, but nothing worth winning was won without suffering.

Now excuse me as I log off. I have a dermatologist’s appointment to schedule and a sheet of peeled skin to hang on my wall next to my other trophies.