Been & Going

[Citizen Filter]: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Ruined Everything Good Forever

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The things I do for you people. I mean, I do whatever I want whenever I want, and I make the deep sacrifices to do those things, and then I go the extra mile and write down the things I think about the stuff I wanted to do for you. Without you even asking. My god, I hope you’re all grateful.

The above pile of crap is more comprehensible and engaging than Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, and that’s including the several weeks I was busy with other things (I HAVE A LIFE, OKAY? YOU DON’T OWN ME) (by the way, go like my facebook page for my upcoming Fringe play) (oh god, I feel so dirty).

So here’s how it went down: I was watching the original Dirty Dancing, which is known as a classic teen romance movie, and also for how everyone forgets that it has a major abortion storyline. (In the abortion debate, DD’s opinion is that no one should ever go to a hack doctor, and if they do, Jerry Orbach is the physician of choice to heal a punctured and probably infected uterus. Hurray for Jerry Orbach!) For all of its bizarrely dark plotline and heavy-handed commentary on the divide between upper middle class and poor (DD’s opinion: rich people should not exploit poor people, and also poor people are better dancers because their hardship gives them passion or something), the movie remains a classic because of the unreal chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. Ho-ly Moses. If you’re ever in that place where you think you should keep going out with that person because they’re nice and stuff and maybe the attraction will grow (you fucking hipster), watch this movie. Watch this movie and realize that you should have at least one affair in your life where someone is so hot to you that they walk in the room and you forget your name. Or develop the courage to perform an awkward mambo in the hotel ballroom of a fading tourist town in the Catskills, one or the other. Doesn’t matter which.

Helloooooo, chemistry.

Helloooooo, chemistry.

Anyway. So there I was, wasting my weekend on Dirty Dancing, when it ends with an anachronistic song and Emily Gilmore dancing with some poor, and Netflix suggests Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. ‘Self,’ I think, because I’m an idiot, ‘self, you should watch this movie, because if it’s really that bad you’ll enjoy it and probably the dancing will be good, and you’re a sucker for dancing.’ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, laughs Fate. HAHAHA. HA. HA.

DD:HN follows the several months (maybe? the timeline is totally fucked in this) of an American girl’s life in Havana, just before the revolution ruined everything for American companies and the CIA started wasting its time trying to kill Fidel Castro in increasingly ridiculous ways. Young Blond Woman (I don’t even remember her character’s name anymore, it was that generic) is focused on her studies so she can get into some Seven Sisters School (BORED SO DON’T CARE) and is pissed that her father (John Slattery, in the longest audition for Mad Men ever) got promoted and transferred to Havana where she and her mother (Sela Ward, or House’s Ex-Wife from House) and little sister (that girl who always plays treacherous little sisters) will live in the absolute lap of luxury in a big hotel. Absolutely tragic.

Naturally, working at the hotel is Diego Luna, being totally wasted in a know-nothing role. Sample line: “What does looking have to do with it?” It being dancing. Because no one ever looks at themselves or others when learning to dance. Thinly veiled exoticism of a non-white culture, party of the executives who wrote this movie into the shitter! Naturally, they try to enter a dance contest for stupid reasons and fall in love, OR SO THIS MOVIE WOULD HAVE YOU THINK. You remember all the chemistry I was raving over in the original? This is that chemistry if it were beaten to death, thrown in a ditch, cryogenically frozen for a thousand years, and then brought back to life by a drunk chipmunk. They are the in ocean, dancing together, and nothing. My god, if you are in the ocean with Diego Luna and you have no desire to come together in the throes of passion, you are literally dead. And that’s keeping in mind that he can’t dance worth shit and apparently had a dance double. Mercy.

No chemistry. It's as innocuous as a cruiseline ad.

No chemistry. It’s as innocuous as a cruise line ad.

It’s also the kind of movie where you get the feeling that either they switched directors halfway through, or the director switch from heroin to cocaine, because the first two-thirds are nothing but racist January Jones (OH YES, she’s in it, playing Baby Betty Draper) and White Savior Young Blond Woman and Proto-Rapist Later To Be On Nashville Entitled Shit, and then we get six montages, a dance contest, and a revolution in the space of five minutes. And John Slattery and Sela Ward moving from disapproval of the relationship to approval overnight. On Christmas. BECAUSE WHY NOT. Possibly it’s the miracle of Baby Jeebus and/or finding a Christmas tree in Cuba. And then YBW and Diego Luna have sex and she leaves, but there’s also a dance party with her parents in their favorite club, because of course her parents were champion ballroom dancers. (If you could see me now, you’d see me gesticulating wildly and in total silence because this movie fucking floors me.)

I know, John. I know. This movie makes zero fucking sense.

I know, John. I know. This movie makes zero fucking sense.

The most unfortunate thing about the movie is that whenever we encounter characters speaking in Spanish–Diego Luna and his revolutionary brother, Diego Luna and his exceptionally accommodating mother, the revolutionary brother and the other revolutionaries, the community street dance that introduces YBW to Cuban dancing (so exotic! barf)–we see the last gasp of a really good movie. And then the frame turns to focus on white people again and I so don’t care.

Also, it speaks fucking volumes about this movie that as pretty as it is, as great as the supporting cast is, as well as Diego Luna does with the nothing he is given, the most interesting, most engaging person we encounter is Patrick Swayze in his cameo as the hotel dance instructor. When Patrick is onscreen, we believe that the world his character lives in is real. We believe that he teaches dancing with a true passion, and we even believe (god help us) that YBW has the potential to dance beautifully and well. Looking back, it’s clear he was quite ill, and even so, he’s the brightest light in the whole damn picture.

Patrick Swayze, being intense and acting like a champ.

Patrick Swayze, being intense and acting like a champ. I mean, look at him, seriously. Two minutes on screen and he makes us believe.

And that’s Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Oh, and now-faded pop star Mya shows up to sing an anachronistic song about…something, I don’t remember what. I was too busy googling Mya to figure out what the hell happened to her after making that ridiculous Moulin Rogue collaboration with Christina Aguilera, Pink (pre-P!nk) and Lil’ Kim (post-jail). (She has a kind of sad Instagram account filled with new age-y fashion selfies and pictures of flowers, and apparently has a new album coming out. You go, Mya!)

I’ve Storified the live-tweeting here, so please–drink several glasses of arsenic-filled cheap wine like I did and enjoy yourself.

[Citizen Filter]: Rainbow Chip, May Flights of Angels Lead You to Your Rest

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So how long does it really take to adjust to writing the new year in your dates? Because honest to god I expect to get fired in the next two days for dating everything as 2012. (Not really, my boss is chill like that and anyway, 2012 is so laughably anachronistic that he probably lets it slide because it’s funny. No, he’s actually just really great. Let us all hope he never reads this.)

So considering the new year has already been (globally) at huge levels of suck (“Sir! We’re now at Suck Level Orange!” “I know, soldier. Hold on to your ass!”), and my shrink has recommended I stay away from the news for my own sanity, today I’d like to introduce you to one of my permanent Chrome open tabs. Sort of like those Vogue features where they make some rich woman who is only famous to very rich people empty out her purse and talk about how awesome all her Totally Unsponsored products are. (“I couldn’t live without my $600 Undereye Fetus Bee Jelly Creme! It keeps me fresh even on stressful days!” Have you ever noticed how they never have fuzzy cough drops or shredded tissues or melted lip gloss in their handbags? Sure, a Birkin is worth more than my student loan debt, but even a Birkin has lint, right? Right? Is that why they’re so expensive? Are they really lint-free?!) Except not like that all, because I’m only showing you one and it’s not sponsored and I’m not making any money of this. (Only things that make money have value, right?)

Since my bag contains both a multi-tool that is mostly just knives and a truckload of lint, we’ll keep with the original tabs plan. I know, my personal internet usage is pretty fucking boring, and once my non-profit cuts funding for mental health insurance, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled rage.

My Favorite Tab: A Recipe For Homemade Rainbow Chip Icing

I grew up in the extremely forward-thinking kitchen of my mother, who was downright anti-American in her disdain of boxed mixes, preservatives, pre-made foods, artificial colors and flavors, and most of all, commercial baked goods. She was also an early adopter of bringing one’s own bag to the grocery store, organic produce, whole grains, and whole foods. (This was back in the day when you had to join a mail-order co-op to buy things like wheat germ and minimally processed rolled oats, which she did. Many an afternoon, my five year old self was in the backseat of our blue station wagon with fake wood panels on the doors, picking up dry goods from whoever was receiving the co-op order that week. In my memory, all those houses smell like patchouli or Nag Champa and everyone wears Birkenstocks. I thought my mother was out of her mind, baking us bread and cookies every week, making everything from scratch but jam and peanut butter. (And in a pinch, she’d make those too.)


So anyway, my childhood was very difficult with all its delicious homemade foods and I don’t think I even had rainbow chip icing until I was a teenager, secretly making Funfetti cake with my friends and hoping my mother didn’t smell the Blue Dye #40 on my breath. As we all know (unless you’re a dirty commie), funfetti cake is the superior boxed cake and must only be made with rainbow chip icing, unmodified, from the can. If you’re really wild, you can frost the cake while it’s still warm and get a beautiful sheer glaze of sweetness and slightly melted chips, but the real traditionalists know that the cake is properly made in a sheet pan, unleveled, unlayered, with one thick beautiful glorious swathe of Betty Crocker’s best on top, and thicker in the corners where the cake didn’t rise quite high enough.

I made and ate that beautiful cake many times over between high and college. After college, I didn’t have quite the stamina for the incredible sugar rush, and my beloved partner is fucking useless when it comes to cake because he doesn’t like frosting. (Clearly, a communist behavior. Communists are still bad, right? Um. What’s a group of people I can use as an insult with impunity now? Millennials. Goddamn millennials hate frosting.) Nevertheless, I knew it was there, waiting for me, on a dusty Von’s shelf just at my sightline. Funfetti cake and rainbow chip frosting is like Captain Planet–you don’t always need him, but he’s there when you call, if you use your heart.

And if you use your heart, you get a pet monkey.

And if you use your heart, you get a pet monkey.

I was shocked–SHOCKED, I tell you–when I found out a few days ago that last spring, in one of her many fits of pique, Betty fucking Crocker discontinued the much-beloved rainbow chip and replaced it with the far inferior Rainbow Sprinkle. What the hell, BC? What is your problem? Do you hate Jesus, Moses, AND Muhammad? How could you do this to us?

“But Sarah,” you’re saying, as you dial emergency services to place a 5150 hold on me, “What’s the big deal? It’s only frosting. How it can be so important if you haven’t even eaten it in four years?”

I’ll tell you, gentle reader. Because rainbow chips have a texture that is both tender and firm. A bite of springy, gentle cake with a little creamy frosting and–surprise! a nugget of colorful delight–is God’s way of saying, “You done good, kid. Have a textural epiphany.” The ideal balance of colors and flavors, the way to intrigue your mouth and enchant your palate, rainbow chip is what we should all aspire to be. Sweet, loving, gentle, and a little firm, they are the ultimate metaphor for humanity’s best hope. (Plus it’s damn delicious and both economically and perfect for both children’s parties and 90s-themed nostalgia orgies for today’s late-twenty-something.)

If you’d care to join the fight for the return of rainbow chip, you can read the deranged stylings of people who take themselves too seriously on the Rainbow Sprinkle webpage here, as I did when I first learned of the horror. Several moments later, after gaining control of sanity and laugh reflex, I trolled around online (read: googled homemade rainbow chip) and found, after years .086 seconds of searching, a wealth of recipes to make my own. It’s been up on my computer monitor for about a week and I expect it to remain there for another month or so, until I can recruit rainbow chip eaters to join me in a ceremonial making and eating of cake.

So if you’re out there, other worshippers of Our Frosting of Angels, drop me a line. Cake is our mission, cake is our guide, frosting is our reward.

[Citizen Filter] The Joy of Texts

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Well, here we are the new year and I don’t have anything to rage about yet. The jury is currently out on whether that is because 2015 is actually doing okay so far (five days whooooooo! two cops got murdered in the Bronx so nevermind) or because I was sick and stupid on the ‘quil most of last week and then drove to Santa Barbara and Solvang on a whim on Sunday and completely ignored all the news because depression. In that I have it and I’d like to keep it at bay as long as possible this year and know what’s going on in the world is the guaranteed number one way to want to die because everyone and everything is terrible forever.

The good news that going to Santa Barbara was on my list of things to do in 2015 so fuck it! I’m out for the next 299 days because I WIN AT LIFE.

Santa Barbara is a beautiful place, full of beach vistas, twee shops, and delicious eateries. It’s also known nationally as the birthplace of the bro: many a popped collar got its start on State Street, and where would we be as a nation if the frat guys from UCSB stopped buying our most noble national product, the impeccable aviator sunglass. We would be broke and in hell, that’s where, and we’d all have cataracts.

One of the overlooked wonders of the little city by the sea is the manuscript museum. Started by some fucking rich someone in some fucking place, it’s part of a network of manuscript museums to show off the private collection of some fucking dude, all over the country. We went because it was one, open, and two, free. Fun fact: manuscript museums are solely staffed by weeeeeeeeird people. Lovely people, but weird. Working in the arts as I do (she said, preening loftily and douchily), you meet all kinds of people, but manuscript people are a whole ‘nother set. They either talk a lot or not at all, and the lovely woman manning the desk yesterday was very interested in reading off the signs for exhibits closest to her.

Stop looking for ways to incorporate world events into pushing your political views onto children! That's my job, Evita. (This will make sense shortly.)

Stop looking for ways to incorporate world events into pushing your political views onto children! That’s my job, Evita. (This will make sense shortly.)

(Fun fact: there’s a manuscript museum in my hometown that I visited as a young and broke teenage nerd. Their display was focused on A. A. Milne of Winnie-the-Pooh.)

(Funner fact: they has a little room with a display of ancient Egyptian artifacts. The quiet person who was in charge that day was apparently so excited there were visitors that HE TOOK AN ARTIFACT OUT OF THE CASE AND PASSED IT AROUND TO US. We held a several centuries old object without gloves and without washing our hands. We actively contributed the deterioration of a valuable piece of history. I may have been a young, broke nerd but I was also a danger to society. YEAH I SAID IT.)

Santa Barbara had no such desecration of history, but there was a display of Eva Peron papers. Did you know that even rich and powerful people can have bad teeth? They can! I saw her dental records. There were comments and markings in Spanish that could neither comprehend nor understand (much like Madonna’s turn as Evita on screen!) I also saw lessons she wrote for her propaganda high school. Let’s be clear–if you want a decent grasp of world events, don’t go to a propaganda high school. With that in mind, most high school curriculum is the product of lobbyists anyway, so just skip school. It’s useless. (No, but really stay in school and then read some radical historians in college and you’ll be just fine.)


I seriously don’t get her as Evita, but that’s not dear Madge’s problem.

Other fun features: detailed models of warships through the ages with photocopied letters from their commanders…in glass display cases. (Why put a photocopied 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper in a display case? The world may never know. Also! A 300-year old Torah written on deer hide…in a glass display case that was not fully sealed against the elements. (Literally the glass top to the display case had the corners trimmed off, for easier transport, maybe? Strange and unknowable are the ways of the manuscript museum.) There were Egyptian artifacts without dates or a discernable theme! (Unless “Egypt is cool” is a theme, in which case, you can get it, manuscript museum!)

But strangest and coolest of all, in the same weird room as the Egyptian displays, were Soviet space shuttle pieces. You’ve never seen an old-timey shuttle control board until you’ve seen buttons with Cyrillic notation! Why was it where it was? Not a clue. But it was there and there i shall remain until Stalin rises from the dead to resurrect his space program! I know it can happen because I learned it in high school! (Drop out of school, children.)

It took me and my man about twenty minutes to go through the museum, which was blessedly free and well-worth driving an hour because we got to listen to podcasts. Then we went and tried to find a reasonable meal in a tourist trap on a Sunday afternoon, and things got weird, so there I will leave you, with the joy of manuscripts.

[Citizen Filter]: The Top Ten Reason I’m Fucking Angry This Year

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(Dear Mom, I’m sorry in advance for all the swears. Love, Sarah)

Well, here we are again at the fucking holidays and it’s been quite the year. America, I’m goddamn disappointed in you. You have fucked everything up and you didn’t even say you’re sorry. Say you’re sorry, right now, to all the women and minorities and undocumented immigrants. SAY IT. And mean it! Or I’ll make you hug until you do!

Here’s all the reasons we can bid a good goddamn riddance to 2014 as we wait for 2015 to let us down past the very low bar we set for it.


  1. All the fucking people murdered by cops and idiots for not being white.

Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice Adaisha Miller, Eleanor Bumpers, Miriam Carey, and on and on and on and on. Estimates are one black person a day is killed by law enforcement, but many of those deaths go unreported. The names of some of the black women killed are listed here, on Bougie Black Girl. Color of Change tweets out names on @KilledByCops. And check out this off the cuff video lecture on the intersection of society, history, racism, media and violence from Jesse Williams here. (For those of you going “but he’s just an actor!”, he also taught high school history for eight years, so listen up.)

  1. All the fucking people murdered, threatened, and driven from their homes and jobs by jackasses who are scared of women and people of color having a say in their corner of the world. #GAMERGATE, FUCK YOU.

Because apparently women are terrifying even when they leave your sandbox along and go create their own. It’s not about ethics in gaming journalism, it’s about controlling women and controlling the story you want to tell yourself about how women aren’t people. But Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Felicia Day, and Zoe Quinn should not be credibly threatened with violence and death for talking about and creating games and supporting gaming narratives that are different than the dominant stories today. Female gamers deserve games that treat women as people, not props. And (I can’t believe I even have to say this) the countless women and people of color who have been shoved out of their profession and avocations for having the gall to work or want to work in a growth industry that connects technology and art deserve to get hired, keep their fucking jobs, and not have to put up with a thousand layers of misogynistic bullshit to do it.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read this.

  1. All the children murdered by people who claim God is on their side. Pakistan, Palestine, Israel, and Nigeria in particular today.

Because to list all the countries would make me run into traffic. Are you in what you consider a holy war? A fight for your very identity? A war that justifies any means to your noble? Are some or many of the casualties children? Are you attacking children specifically? Are you proud of kidnapping and hurting these children?

Go to hell. You’re not helping your cause (unless your cause is hurting children), you’re not going to end your ward, and God is certainly not on your fucking side. Look and your choices and make different ones.

(And I hear you, too, pro-Israel Americans. But if you are defending the murder of over 500 children, it might just be time to question what your leaders are telling you right and true. Because of the 500 dead children. Who are dead.)

  1. And all the children (and people!) whose spirits and bodies have been broken by sex slavery, regular slavery, oppressive cultures and governments that do not accept their color, sexual identity, gender identity, desire for education and freedom.

I’M LOOKING AT YOU, UGANDA, SYRIA, PAKISTAN, MEXICO (#yamecanse), INDIA, and don’t think I don’t see your invisible slavery, North America and Europe. Slavery is more prevalent than ever and it’s everywhere. You can also got to hell. Oh, look, it’s the Global Slavery Index. Dear reader, educate yourself and then go develop an addiction (to something besides cocaine–that’s bad too) to numb yourself from all the shitty ways the world sucks.

  1. Donald Sterling and the hypocrisy of the NBA.

It’s only an outrage if he gets caught? Your business is run on the backs and bodies of black men! How fucking dare you? How dare you act as if it matters more because we know about it? How dare you act as if the fans who come from the very slums he owns are worth less than anyone else? How dare you act as if you are not culpable, as if you are righteous?

Donald Sterling was known to be racist, he was known to run slums, he was known to discriminate against minorities, and it took a recording sent to tabloid for any consequences to reach him.

  1. The nonprofit NFL, and its tacit agreement that hitting women is okay as long as it’s not on tape.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. Why do you consistently tolerate the abuse of women whom you have made an unpaid part of your business plan? How do you sleep at night? And furthermore, do you honestly think that destroying the bodies and minds of these young men one concussion at a time leaves you with no responsibility? Take your hit. Take care of your players. Take care of your community. Clean your fucking house, because trust me, NONPROFIT BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS, you do not want me to clean it for you.

  1. The utter insanity that is policing women’s bodies these days.

Wendy Davis spent 13 full hours standing on the Senate floor in Texas to ensure that, for one more freaking day, Texas women would have access to reproductive health care. And that’s not even that shocking, because…

…There were 694 legal provisions sought this year to directly legislate women’s bodies. Six hundred and ninety-four. The war on women is real, it’s here, and it’s winning. Who are the losers? (You ask, so innocently.) ALL OF US. When women don’t control their own bodies, when they lack access to birth control and abortion, poverty rates go up, education rates go down, hunger and homelessness go up, and we are all dragged down by the choices made for women by people who clearly have no idea what they’re talking about.

  1. Speaking of women, let’s talk about the heinous fucking way women and girls are still being treated when it comes to rape.

Here are some fun quotes to start you off. But let’s also talk about how at least three girls in an Oklahoma high school were raped by one awful guy who confessed to it ON VIDEO–I mean, really?!–and were bullied so badly for being sluts they all dropped out. Let’s talk about Rolling Stone fucking pulling its punches to protect a predatory group of young men who at the very least are widely known to overserve and manipulate young women into sexual encounters, and then blamed the victim for their suspect fact-checking. Let’s talk about how it took a second-string comedian making a joke about Bill Cosby’s serial rapes six months to bring attention to it and the (as of time of writing) 21 women who have come forward about their victimization received no attention in 14 fucking years. Let’s talk about how one percent of rapists is ever given any kind of punishment at all. Let’s talk about rape culture so distorts the perceptions of sex is and should be that getting a verbal ‘yes’ from your partner is seen as profoundly unsexy. Let’s talk about how that messaging and the internalization of women as objects turns good men into rapists. Let’s talk about how rape is seen as a women’s issue, so men are afraid to come forward about their own rapes and when they do, are dismissed as weak or lying. And this is just in the United States.

Let’s talk about a culture that so objectified women that a 22-year-old goes on a murderous rampage because he can’t get laid. And how it happened in Canada 25 years ago. And how it happened in Pennsylvania five years ago. And in Seattle this year.

Let’s talk about that.

  1. Ebola.

Why. Why. Why. Why did it take one American getting ebola to the international ball rolling on aid? Why was that person, a black male, sent home from the hospital? Why have we all forgotten it now? Why are we so goddamn blind to the plight of our fellow humans? Why. Why. Why.


  1. Fuck it, I’m exhausted.

Here’s picture of a kitten in some Christmas shit. Happy fucking Christmas, Happy goddamn New Year, and if you don’t get it the fuck together, 2015, there is going to be serious hell to pay.

christmas kitten

(One bright spot of the year: The Church of Satan has some nice religious equal access wins to counter the fucking ridiculous presence of Christianity in our government facilities. Bravo, Church of Satan. Also, Pope Francis did some good stuff. AGAIN. So boring, Pope, stop being so awesome.)

[Citizen Filter]: How To Make Mac And Cheese On November 24

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  1. Drive home with the radio on. Consider turning the radio off because you don’t want to crash. Be absurdly grateful that the cops are slowing traffic down right when the decision is read. Realize that it is because you are passing the exits to Crenshaw, Leimert Park, and West Adams. Get angrier and sadder all at once.

  2. Clutch the wheel until you realize your hands are going numb. Go to the grocery store. Hope irrationally that no one talks to you, because you don’t have anything to say today. Buy milk, cheese, wine, and a can of cinnamon rolls. Think about salad. Decide against salad. Salad is for easier times.

  3. Try to pay, think you lost your debit card. Freak out a little. Apologize a lot. Get home, park, realize your debit card was in your wallet the whole time, just in the wrong slot. Consider calling the store to apologize. Realize that doing that would be the mark of a crazy person.

  4. Put on water to boil. Wash the lid, but don’t dry it. Put the bottle of white wine in the freezer.

  5. Melt half a stick of butter in a pan on too-high heat. Turn down the heat. Realize it’s too much butter. Decide not to care.

  6. Pour the macaroni in the boiling water. Stir it a couple times.

  7. Throw a handful of flour into the butter. Stir it around. Think about Ezell Ford. Wonder what his family is feeling. Now you’ve got a roux.

    black lives matter

  8. Realize that you forgot to grate the cheese. Turn the heat off on the roux. Grate the cheese. Contemplate just eating the cheese and abandoning the mac. Grate more cheese.

  9. Turn the heat back on the roux. Stir it until it starts smelling good and not like flour anymore. Pour in milk, a little bit at a time. Stir it thoroughly, carefully, until you have a velvety pile of what looks like whipped goat cheese. Wonder if Mike Brown’s mom makes mac and cheese this way. Mutter “fuck it, none of this matters” and pour the rest of the milk in too quickly. Now your bechamel has all the heft of milk.

  10. Drain your pasta most of the way but not all the way because there are still dishes in the sink and you can’t be bothered to do them and pull out the colander.

  11. (Wonder ten minutes later why your pasta is overcooked and realize it is because you’ve basically been steaming it with the water left in the bottom of the pot.)

  12. Turn the heat up on the mostly-cold mostly-milk bechamel and stir in the cheese a little at a time. Remember Tamir Rice. Wonder if he liked mac and cheese. Throw in the rest of the cheese and a whole lot of black pepper and paprika and chili powder.

  13. Pull out a big bowl. Stir around the macaroni that is sticking to itself and breaking apart and start to pour it into the bowl. Pour in disgusting and starchy cooking water. Pour the water out of the bowl. Spoon the pasta into the bowl. Stir it again. Take the wine out of the freezer.

                                justice for

  14. Stare vacantly at the bowl for a while, thinking about Renisha McBride.

  15. Stir the cheese sauce. Ask it angrily why it won’t thicken. Turn the heat up.

  16. Repeat previously two steps, replacing Renisha McBride with Trayvon Martin, Danroy Henry, John Crawford III, the Scottsboro Boys, and on and on and on until you can’t stand to think anymore.

  17. Pour the sauce over the pasta. Struggle to open the bottle of wine. Find a bag of butter lettuce in the fridge and make a salad, because the sun will rise again tomorrow and you’ll need your vitamins. Pour a big glass of wine.

  18. Eat your food. Sift through Twitter. Message your friend about the links between poverty, violence, power, and racism. Tell her to get home safe. Pour more wine when she says “I will, I’m white.” Share messages about Ferguson. Look for updates on national protests. Wonder if making mac and cheese is racist at a time like this. Despair at your own internal racism. Hope you can be better than you are and listen more, do more.

  19. Don’t cry. You have no right to cry, because your sons, if you have them, will probably be white, and will live.

  20. Make your can of cinnamon rolls. Eat two. Go to bed. Wake up and do the work.

Use recipe whenever a person of color is gunned down by law enforcement. You may care to increase your exercise regime as more ad-hoc executions of people for the crime of living are expected this year. Side effects may include anger, frustration, rage, shame, and a sense of helplessness. If you are an educated white person with adequate financial resources, the sense of helplessness is psychosomatic and may be treated by checking yourself, donating to civil rights organizations, taking to the streets in solidarity, and shutting the hell up about how what people of color are saying is true is not in your experience and is therefore invalid. You might also read James Baldwin, bell hooks, James H. Cone, and Alice Walker.

baldwin sign

Mac and cheese will keep for 5-7 days in an airtight container in the fridge, and racial discrimination and criminalization of people of color apparently has no expiration date, because everything is terrible forever and America continues to be broken.

[Citizen Filter] Things to Scare You This Halloween and Halloween-Adjacent Days

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I was going to do another post of omphaloskepsing at my past, but it was too scary and awkward, and I couldn’t find any pictures of the Infamous Orange Hair. So instead, some fun thoughts to scare you (you being people are who are also in their mid-twenties and somehow got lost on their way to Buzzfeed to feel nostalgic about products that marketers told them were important) because thanks to Tim Burton and Henry Selick, Halloween doesn’t end until Christmas:

Yes, I know. I was such a tortured teenager I liked a movie that strictly adheres to the Hero Cycle. How innovative.

Yes, I know. I was such a tortured teenager I liked a movie that strictly adheres to the Hero Cycle. How innovative.

Street Harassment

That video that’s floating around is a) totally normal and b) kinda racist, because they edited all the white people out. How do I know white people catcall? Because they do it basically every time I’m outside and not with a man or group. Woman alone in public=property of men in public. That’s also secretly why women go to the bathroom in groups. It’s not to judge you and add our judgements to the Worldwide Women’s Conspiracy Database (although we do that too) it’s to avoid the men who may or may not talk at you, follow you, and/or grope you on your way in to the bathroom. Being a woman in public is fun!


Going to college is not going to get you a job, not even if you go for math and science. There is a lot of education out there, and if you want to do some post-high school training specifically for the purpose of getting a job, become a welder, plumber, electrician, cosmetologist, or septic tank specialist. Mike Rowe even has a scholarship for you. If you go to college, go because you feel that the learning and education you earn is worth upwards of 30 grand in debt, and make that debt fucking worth it by actually going to class and learning things. Your entry level office job that does not pay enough to cover all your bills is probably not going to be that interesting, if you are even lucky enough to get a single full-time job instead of many part-time jobs. A rich inner life keeps you from being bored and boring. And if you do end up avoiding a four-year degree, read a book for fun sometimes. I don’t care what book, just a book. On something that interests you.


They are never going to be as magical as you remember them being as a kid or as they are portrayed on ABC Family. You are now too worldly to really believe in your heart of hearts that Santa is real, oil lasts eight days, peace on earth is a possibility in our lifetime, and snow will look pretty for more than a couple of hours in a big city. Holidays now are for running up debt buying stuff no one wants, fighting with your family about who is bringing what for Thanksgiving, and drinking your sorrows away at the local watering hole with all the other drunks late into the night. And on that note…

Buying Stuff

Buying stuff will never be as fun as it was when you were poor. Or young. Buying stuff when you’re a child is amazing, because it seems so magical. Give money, get wanted thing. And you had to wait sooooo long to get something, because birthdays and gift-giving holidays were always far away, and when you finally got The Thing You Wanted it the culmination of so much want that you are essentially an addict getting a fix. Same thing happens when you’re poor, except you know exactly how long it took to earn enough money to get The Thing You Wanted and you feel super guilty about spending money at all. But for realsies, nothing will ever taste as good as that tiny wedge of medium-grade brie did when you were working seventeen jobs and still couldn’t afford three meals a day. Never was a $2.31 purchase so beloved and enjoyed.

Your Opinions on Pop Music and Fashion Are Irrelevant

If you’re reading this, you’re probably older than 19. If you’re older than 19, you have no idea who is popular in music, fashion, YouTube (the new Young Hollywood) and Tumblr. Yes, Tumblr is a big deal now and people make careers off of it. I know. We’re old. We might as well be dead. The good news is that marketing agencies and PR reps have no idea what’s going on anymore either, and the current generation of young uns are slightly less exploited than we were.

It's not his fault you didn't believe him. HOMER.

It’s not his fault you didn’t believe him. HOMER.

We’re All Doomed

Partisan politics, climate change, fracking, overpopulation, food waste, aliens, Game of Thrones enthusiasts, beloved arbiters of culture being outed as sexual abusers, street harassment murders, gaming culture, tech culture, One True Scotsman arguments, cable news, streaming television, internet monopolies, Net Neutrality, abortion rights restrictions, New Jim Crow voter ID laws, Ferguson, the Detroit Institute of Arts collection sell-off, gentrification, drugs cartels murdering their way through Central America and Mexico to supply Americans with cocaine, MRAs, shrinking middle class, growth economies, terrorist regimes, attempted genocides, the creep of nationalist aggression, ebola, AIDS (still), anti-vaxxers.

Happy Monday, everybody. We’re all going to die.

[Citizen Filter] Nostalgia, or, An Embarrassing Confessional From the Homefront

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It’s been a couple of weeks for nostalgia. Mostly since I left for New York in the fall of 2006, I’ve been on a breakneck run for Future, Next, More, Speed but through a conflux of events and influences I’ve been put on the slow train to Past, Reflection, Wander. I’m not a huge fan of that, as you’ve probably guessed. The past is flawed and embarrassing on a micro and macro level (Sailor Moon fanfiction, no discrimination protection for LGBT persons), and I’d like to run away from it as fast as I flip through photos of the time I had orange hair. (Orange hair plus yellow undertones in skin=not a good look, although the obliviousness that has served me well for the last 27 years was a lifesaver on that one.)

In the last six weeks, I was at the old homestead for altogether almost three weeks, and since the two visits were for three weddings, I was, for the first time in many years, in the bosom of family and old friends. I was in my old bedroom, which is no longer the incredible craphole I maintained of burned CDs, plastic jelly bracelets, and pages of handwritten notes and homework, but a lovely guest room with gauzy curtains and a wrought iron nightstand. Even so, my old books were there, and even though the dog is haunting us now (seriously–she’s dead but not gone), the weather is the same and the cars are parked in the same place they always were.

In the interest of habit, I started feeling that the life I was living in Los Angeles was a bizarre fever dream, and I had stepped into my rightful life, home and a child forever. I had no bills, no concerns beyond the days in front of me, no troubles but those that ripple the social pond and then disappear into the way things are. I had a dishwasher, a refrigerator that was purchased a decade or two ago and maintained, rather than discarded, and a basement filled with the odds and ends that preclude buying for projects.

A few days after I arrived, I found myself walking in the soft constant mist that feels like nothing and forms silver beads on your clothes and hair, and soaks you quietly and gently. I had a bag of clothes for the drycleaner, the same drycleaner that had been on the same corner for as long as I can remember, and the same smell when I stepped inside. An old classmate was there, of course, just like there would be an old classmate at restaurant we went to later in the week. I dropped off the clothes under my father’s and, and as I walked the four blocks back (four blocks being the long way around) I was arrested by the feeling of walking both in my life and in the shadow of what used to be my life. If I am walking by the library now, I am also walking by the library after getting my first library card, joining the summer reading club, or going to Girl Scout meetings. I contain multitudes, I am all, I am loose in time and I am anchored by the sound of my sneakers slapping the pavement, which smells cleaner and than it ever could in my other cities.

There are no homeless people in the neighborhood where I grew up, and there is only one cop on patrol at any one time. We are almost all white. We are almost all educated. We are almost all the second or third generation there. I come from a place where everyone has been there twenty years and they all know your grandmother, first grade teacher, and high school principal. I ran as far as I could, so no one would know who I was and I could start without a history. I did it twice, once all the way to New York, and once all the way to LA. What I didn’t understand at the time of running was that you are only unknown for a second, and then your life begins again, embedding you in history and relationships. What I have come to understand is how necessary it is for human nature to be embedded, to be known, to be seen and recognized. What I was looking for, at 18 and 22, was the chance create my own terms and my own society.

But just in the way it was comforting to smell the unique perfume of my mother’s spice cabinet, it was comforting to fall into the routine of being Chris and Elizabeth’s youngest daughter. It was comforting to once again be a known quantity–she’s a vegetarian, she’s an artist, she’s selfish but she’s smart and she was friends with our daughter/son/niece when they were in school. She’s a Petrich. She’s a Catholic. She’s the one who fell asleep at her own birthday party. She was in my English class in eighth grade. Los Angeles is all about the pitch (let me tell you about who I am and what I make and why you should hire me/recommend me/be my friend/go out with me). My hometown is about history. People who live there, stay. People who leave almost always return. Those of us who are permanent ex-pats meet in bars in Glendale and gather on holidays to shelter in our self-exile. We no longer belong but we are never excommunicated.
The sun came out in the seven minutes I took to meander past the elementary school, the old kindergarten building, that house that is always up for sale, and the massive evergreen that had been cut down. There’s a quality of light unique to the Pacific Northwest in the fall, that outlines the dark grey of the sky and fills up the space between sky and ground with gold tones, making the outside feel like a movie set, a room bounded by tall green-black trees and flat opaque clouds. Somehow, I’ve never quite left that room.

[Citizen Filter] Seriously, NFL, Seriously

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Guys, I have got to figure out a better way to navigate all the shitty news that demands our attention, because getting ragey this routinely is so not good for my blood pressure, and dropping dead of a heart attack is a great way to stymie your career.

So I’m going through the news stories about the NFL, because for serious, it is a non-profit organization that makes billions upon billions of dollars, the kind of money that would make even Scrooge McDuck blush with shame at his own greed, and it’s covering up horrific instances of domestic violence, along with some pretty spiffy drug use, and some run-of-the mill violence. But life’s too short for facts and figures, so let’s just agree on the following:

It’s taken how many years for a major moneyed organization to figure out that hitting your head a lot is bad for your brain? That’s crazy. That’s as crazy as taking 500 years to figure out that tobacco products are bad for you (except for people at-risk for colon cancer, because life is nothing if not full of fun little surprises). That’s as crazy as realizing that helping poor people not die is good for society. That’s as crazy as providing free education to everyone because someone figured out that an educated population makes other people a lot richer (and in Sweden, creates an army of pop songwriter magicians). That’s as crazy as something else really obvious and then experiencing the good effects of changing one’s ways. Something something, thank you Captain Obvious, etc.

Seriously, NFL, having employees that get the crap beaten out of them all the time and often results in major and minor head injuries AND those employees having much higher rates of substance abuse, domestic violence, and general criminal activity didn’t tip you off to some sort of connection? Correlation is not causation, but correlation is often worth looking at more closely. I mean, Christ, was it a racist thing? Did the people in charge look at their players, people of color, and just go, “Eh, they’re black. Black men are thugs”? Because that I would kind of believe, as that’s just the world we live in.

Please be distracted by this adorable child in adorably oversized but unsafe protective gear.

Please be distracted by this adorable child in adorably oversized but unsafe protective gear.

Really, I’m throwing stones (poorly, because I don’t sports), and I’m not a real football fan, so I’ve got nothing invested in this, but what the hell, guys. Why are we condoning the violence, the injury, the whole kit and caboodle of football? Isn’t there a better to watch people beat each other up? Isn’t there a more satisfying bonecrunch to be had? Why are we training children to go into a career that gives them no financial security and also mixes their brains up like a fruity drink at a sorority cocktail hour? No one wants that cocktail when it is raising its hand against a family member. That is not a delicious cocktail. That is a cocktail that will make you sad-drunk instead of happy-drunk.

I know, I know, there’s a feeling of camaraderie and kinship, there’s the sense that you’re part of the tribe, the us, I drank the blue and green vodka and yelled at the TV during the Superbowl last year.

This is that vodka. It's been dyed with Skittles, because class has no place in PNW fandom.

This is that vodka. It’s been dyed with Skittles, because class has no place in PNW fandom.

I was superexcited that the Seahawks were in it, let alone that they won. Football games are our national weekly thanksgiving, and I get that it makes you feel like you are more than the sum of your parts when you are rooting for a team. But what if your team is totally off the rails? What if your team allows some bad stuff to happen? How bad does your team have to get before you decide that you are disappointed with them and can no longer associate with them? At what point does your team become that friend who you think about often and care for but has continued to choose the exciting, transient life of self-destruction so you have to step back and care for yourself first? Where is your line?

My line is in the elevator where a woman got knocked out and then apologized for being in the way. My line got thicker when a child went home to his mother with bruised and scarred legs. My line became a pretty tall wall when a certain someone named Goodell put the good of the dollars above the good of the people. Newsflash: If your organization supposedly does so much good for society that it doesn’t pay taxes on its (say it with me) billions in income, you should really make an effort to at least make it look like people are your priority. For-profit companies are obligated to make as much money as possible–if they’re public, they are legally bound to do it. If you are not making society better, you should not be a non-profit.

This accurately sums up the levels of frustration and confusion Americans are feeling right now.

But seriously, does someone have any answers on this one? Seriously, anyone. Because seriously, I can’t even with the NFL right now. For serious.

[Citizen Filter] Is It The Apocalypse Yet, Because It’s Too Hot And There’d Better Be A Good Reason For It

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It’s been a hot summer here in lil ol’ Los Angeles, and like many Angelenos, I live in a crappy shoebox without air conditioning and surrounded by concrete that does nothing but soak up and reflect back the horrible, horrible heat.

For a couple of my summers here, one of my jobs was at a small business that didn’t have a/c, so the temperature relative to home was much hotter and made my place seem livable. The last summer I was there, we got a/c, and all hell broke loose. Last year I was unemployed and living on frozen slices of watermelon and not wearing pants. This year, employment means pants and pants mean uncomfortable transfer heat, not to mention laundry and assorted household chores done during the horrendous peaks of midday sun exposure. (At least I live on the Westside and not in Silverlake–it’s a well-known fact that hipsters raise temperatures by an average of 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit, because they are attracting the fires of hell.)

Her t-shirt is wrong. Hell is all around us now, if all around us refers to east of the 101, north of downtown and west of the ‘denas.

There a number of transplants to this area, like myself, who can’t cope with temperatures above 75F, and also like myself, refuse to buy a window a/c unit because the second you buy it the temperature will drop to 35 and we’ll all look like idiots, and you can’t return things to craigslist. I tried. It gets weird, and everyone you email ends up being a sex worker. Which is fine, but they don’t take returns either. Ba da da da dum! I’ll be here all week, try the veal.

So we cope, and we pray for rain because a) megadrout that will kill us all but also does not prevent bottled water companies from tapping into public reservoirs, and b) sweet, sweet relief for the thirty seconds it takes the rain to evaporate from the sidewalk. We also do stupid things, like make pancakes. “But why is that stupid, Sarah?” you ask, hungry for pancakes and angry that this is the internet and they are not available. Why, indeed, angry hungry stranger. Why indeed.

Like many Angelenos, my apartment came with a stove-oven combo. It is a gas stove-oven combo. So far, so good. Like many Angelenos, my stove-oven is white enameled metal with zero insulation and an overactive pilot light that makes the kitchen uncomfortably warm even when it’s off. When it’s on, it’s like you’ve got a hipster in the kitchen. So this morning, I’m sending off my friend after a lovely visit, and thinking, “hey, homemade pancakes are a wonderful way to end a trip and also walking is hard”. I make the batter, I heat up the pan (“oh, god, it’s so hot in here already”) and I start making my usual 2” pancakes. I like to stack them, like a tower of Babel, so high as to be an affront to the will of any god paying attention to breakfast food. By the time those little pancakes are done, I’m sweating bourbon from last Friday into them and I hate everything in the whole world, including my friend and breakfast. But I’m adaptable, I cope. “Why, self,” I say, “you just need to make bigger pancakes! that mean you can turn the stove off sooner and eat your own pancakes, too!”

This is how you make an enemy of the lord. A sweet, sweet enemy.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s not breakfast if you’re not building that pancake tower and offending the good and might lord with the lightning bolts and such, but this is Los Angeles. We get confused when we get nice things.

To this end, I developed a theory right now to fill out the word count of this piece and also explain traffic. You’d think after several decades of polluting our own corner of the world and torturing ourselves for a million hours a day in awful awful commutes, our rich and powerful corporate overlords would have come up with some sort of workable transit system, or hovercars. Traffic discriminates against no man, and if polled, would actually tell you it hates rich people. (Worst traffic in the city: West Side. Highest concentration of wealth in the city: West Side. Coincidence? Absolutely not, poor people have to get to and from there to provides services for the rich people.) But the reality is that we all remember or currently live in places that have no climate control, and so we prefer to run to our shiny shiny cars (how do they stay so shiny in a megadrought and none of us are washing our cars? OH WAIT) and bask in the unlimited whoosh of cool air that wastes all the gas we should be using on idling on the 110 as motorcyclists zoom by at terrifying speeds. Why would we want to speed up? I don’t want to be inside my house, or worse, outside my house on days like today. I also don’t want to be at work because I’m an American and work is for foreigners stealing our jobs. The car is our space to be free.

This a real picture of a reservoir in California. Seriously, stop washing your car.

This theory is also supported by the number of people who drive to the beach on holiday weekends and don’t leave the house until noon. How else can you spend $20 on parking, walk across miles of blistering sand to a crowded coastal spot, fight off a herd of mutant seagull-lions for blanket space, and then swim in waters guaranteed to give you some sort of flesh-eating disease? It’s absolutely worth living in the least affordable city in the country just for that privilege.

I would finish this off with a witty timeline, but it’s 8pm and I’m about two seconds away from mopping up the brains that have melted out of my ears, so I’ll leave you with this:

Winter is coming, and someday we’ll see a 60 degree day and complain about how cold it is. Take heart, and go drive around aimlessly somewhere.