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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, February 11, 2008

From the Weekend

  • Political correctness goes awry my humble opinion: I realize that the minor children of prominent politicians should never be the targets of political opponents or media pundits. But grown people are fair game. That being said, I thought NBC reporter David Schuster was stupid and stuck his foot in his mouth late last week when he speculated on the air that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out," presumably by her parents, on behalf of Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign. My impression, all things considered, was that Schuster felt like Chelsea was being aggressively used to make her mother seem more attractive to the younger, hipper registered voters. And the truth is, she is being used for that purpose, and there's nothing wrong with that. If I had a powerhouse spouse who once held the job that I want, and an attractive young, hip, child, I'd have them both in front of as many crowds as possible cheerleading for me. Was Schuster suggesting that someone in the Clinton campaign is an actual pimp and Chelsea is that person's employee? No. Was his choice of words to describe Chelsea's role dumb? Yes. Should he have been suspended over those words? I don't think so. At the time he stuck both feet in his mouth he wasn't reporting a straight, plain, news story. He was participating in a broadcast segment in which he was expected to share his opinion. He tried to do it in a hip, snarky way. And it backfired on him.
  • The new face of irony: British singer Amy Winehouse. Winehouse, who won five Grammy Awards last night, got one trophy for her record "Rehab," a song whose chorus goes "They tried to make me to go to rehab and I said no, no, no!" But Winehouse did not attend the Grammys. She performed via satellite from the UK, where she is Seriously. But all kidding aside, good for her. Crack kills.

  • Absent bears: I watched "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" the other night for like the 15th time. And it finally clicked with me what about that movie has always bugged me. No pandas. During those fight scenes in the bamboo forests, I wanted to see pandas come darting out of the woods, putting the bear smack down on unsuspecting hikers and travelers, sort of the way grizzlies do in the wild in the U.S. Don't ask me why. I just wanted pandas in that film and never got 'em, and it bummed me out.

  • Karma sleeping on the job: I wish I had a photograph for you, but all I had on me was a cell phone camera with no flash when I encountered the following scenario on Saturday: Mrs. B, Cheko the Dog, and I were walking around the neighborhood and found ourselves next to a very well kept house several blocks from our own. We always compliment this place on our walks, 'cause the owners/residents make such an effort. Anyway, on their side fence the residents had posted a new sign to the effect of "You are responsible for your dog's waste....If he goes right here, please pick it up." So what do you think was lying in a tightly coiled pile right under the sign?

  • Being sympathetic vs. being a pushover: Mrs. B and I attended a very productive meeting of homeowners, landlords, neighborhood activists, and city officials the other night. At issue was the gentrification of the neighborhood. We live on the south end of the 'hood. Some of the residents on the north end of our neighborhood are located just blocks from what amounts to a giant soup kitchen. So at all times of the day and night they have homeless rifling through their trash cans, sleeping and relieveing themselves on lawns, leaving their empty food containers on lawns, and generally hanging around on lawns. Thankfully absent was the recent-former police chief who at a similar meeting a few months back suggested I was a mean person and accused me of trying to legislate homelessness into illegality, because I asked him if there was anything the police could do to help move people along. I'm glad the old chief was absent, because I didn't have to explain again that his argument was apples vs. oranges, sympathy vs. sucker-hood. Homelessness can't be legislated anymore than we can mandate that every human is required to keep a roof over his head. What can be legislated, however, is behavior to some extent. If you spend hours at a time hanging out in front of someone else's house, dropping trash everywhere, relieving yourself, and hollering at passing cars, you're not a problem because at the end of the day you don't have a roof over your head. You're a problem because you're loitering and being a nuisance - mostly on private property, and you need to move on. If the former chief really believed that nonsense about a cop crackdown being tantamount to treating homelessness like a crime then he's a pushover, 'cause if you're being a nuisance on other people's property and you have nowhere to go, then the the government agencies that snatch taxes need to move you somewhere where you can get appropriate help and care.

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  • I thought the Shuster "pimped out" comment was stupid, but not nearly as stupid as implying that it was in some way "sleazy" or "wrong" to allow the 27 year old Rhodes Scholar daughter of a candidate to be part of that candidate's campaign. Seriously, it's not like Chelsea is 4 years old and is being trotted out at press conferences to shield Hillary from tough or personal questions.

    By Blogger Jay, at 5:30 PM  

  • All bullseyes James.

    I think shuster was right and funny. If he had said it on Comedy central he would have gotten away with it.

    I used to have the same problem with bums in my yard. So I went out and mowed the lawn everytime they camped out.

    I had no grass left so they would be pelted with gravel and other flying debris.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 5:33 PM  

  • Ooh, pandas smaking down homeless dog poop. What?

    The panda smackdown would definitely have made that a better movie.

    By Anonymous og, at 10:01 PM  

  • what you said.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 1:39 AM  

  • I thought Crouching Tiger was Japanese. Are there pandas in Japan?

    Or am I wrong all the way around?

    By Blogger SWF42, at 10:23 AM  

  • Quite honestly the pimped comment was stupid because the mainstream media should never try to sound street.

    To be honest I have a huge problem with 'hip' slang becoming mainstream. To go completely radically anally narrowmindedly down this road, I am not raising my kids to communicate with 'hip' street slang because I am not raising them to live in the streets.

    However, I do agree with Hammer. That comment would have been audience appropriate from a Comedy Central program

    By Blogger dennis, at 6:02 PM  

  • A huge number of homeless are former mentally ill patients who were cared for in Federal Mental Health Hospitals such as St. Elizabeth's in Washington, D.C. until the Federal Funding was pulled in the early 80's. Some homeless have been created by loss of employment, and not finding anymore employment, and not having anyone to turn to for help.

    Don't think I have a solution, I just have a little experience with St. Elizabeth's, and I saw the problem first hand. It's almost unbearable.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 1:02 AM  

  • I struggle with Winehouse winning all of those grammy's, hate to say it. Not one other song from that album has really made it on the airwaves, and it bothers me that her most famous song is about refusing to seek treatment for addiction — she may be in rehab now, but she didn't go willingly. And the message we're left with from the song, catchy as it may be, doesn't imply the slightest bit of redemption.

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 10:08 AM  

  • [though I must admit to liking the song AND her voice]

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 10:09 AM  

  • Jay, we agree. It was a dumb thing to say. But Chelsea Clinton isn't helpless or being abused. The suspension was overkill.

    Hammer, I'm gonna recommend that debris on the lawn thing to my troubled neighbors to the north.

    Og, seriously, how much cooler would it have been if during a sword fight the combatants had to dodge panda claws too?

    Pamela you thought there should have been pandas in that movie too? Kidding. As always, thanks for the affirmation.

    SWF42, China.

    Dennis, I mostly agree with you. We diverge a little on the mainstream media thing. I personally think it's bigger than the media. No traditionally dorky people, period, should ever try to sound hip and street. That goes for unhip journalists - but not me, 'cause remember, I'm cooler than the other side of the pillow, preachers, cops, politicians, pharmacists, accountants, parents, and so on. Seriously, I think, depending on the type of journalism, it can't hurt for the journalist to speak and/or write in a conversational long as it comes across as natural and not contrived.

    Monty, you'll get no argument out of me on the origins of many of our homeless. I think though that my neighbors are more frustrated with how the homeless ended up on their lawns, rather than being properly aided by an appropriate agency (government or private). This soup kitchen they go to on the north end of my neighborhood? It gives them soup or some other meal, and then sends them on their way. They need to be examined by doctors, if necessary medicated, taken places where they can try to clean up and heal their minds, etc. Giving 'em a meal and then sending them off to wander a residential neighborhood and scare the crap out of residents isn't helping anyone.

    ThirdWorst, that bugged me too about Winehouse winning. Honoring that particular song was a slap in the face to all the people who maybe wanted to go to rehab but couldn't afford it and all the people who really did go, but didn't win a trophy for it.

    And I agree with you on the last part too: I'm a bit of a hypocrite, 'cause I love her singing voice.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:48 PM  

  • Third Worst: another hit from that album was "You Know I'm No Good". I prefer it to "Rehab". But really, the rest of the album is so much better than "Rehab". She has an amazing voice and lots of talent.

    Many talented singers have been self destructive in their use of drugs. Edith Piaf and Billie Holliday come to mind.

    By Blogger Alex, at 6:35 PM  

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