Friday, November 23, 2007

Hurry up and slow down!

Something that I think is important to be inculcating our young folks with are the ramifications of our actions as consumers. While certain of the baby-boomers have begun rolling their own balls, the problem of market share looms, and speaks to some fundamental historical forces that aren't necessarily in alignment.

Incidentally, at this very moment I have on "LA City View," a channel devoted to programming by and about the City of LA. The show just beginning is, "Women in Entertainment," moderated by City Controller Laura Chick. In her prolegomena, she mentioned that for the first time, in 2001 the City of LA appointed a woman to one of the top 3 City positions - that was her (Chick).

This is a succinct illustration of the odds of grabbing even a slice of the pie from the power mongers. Dolores Robinson, mother of Holly Robinson-Peete and an entertainment manager, just right now said that "things are pretty much the same." I couldn't agree more. Over the holidays I happened to see a ceremony that our Chicano Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, presided over. It celebrated "Native American History Month" by citing the usual; X number of NAs in LA, how "vital" (whatever that means) their culture is, how they were the first Americans, blah blah blah.

The young NA girls come out in tribal garb and proceed to dance for whitey. And so, whites are entertained, feel enlightened, progressive even, by looking at their brown mayor, their brown ceremonies... and yet remain blissfully ignorant of probably the largest concentration of Mexicans/Mexican Americans outside of Mexico, East LA, where, of course, the social barriers and challenges are long-entrenched. Despite all of the ceremonies.

Now, I am all in favor of civil disobedience as public communication display, but generally don't think it's a very practical tool for substantial change - it's a demonstrative tool, but here we are, forty years after the halcyon 60s & 70s, and Laura Chick was barely elected.

This also supports what I have experienced with the left, how they love the pomp of demonstrations, their Weberian charismatic leaders and mob-think. This of course applies in equal measure to the right, but oddly, leftist orgs are always embroiled in "the good fight" and strategy is this fuzzy cloud never to be broken down, deciphered and deployed in practical, concrete, logical, business-driven and grounded ways. Thus, unless you're the NAACP, ACLU or GLAAD, these orgs typically fall in to the "begging syndrome" where they are devoting large resources toward raising money, typically, fundraisers or grants.

Let's be straight: Begging.

And if begging is not one of the most embarrassing forms of infantilization, I don't know what is.

Back to the aside fork in the road I took... For NOW, one white woman in half a century isn't even tossing someone a bone. It's table scrap. Think about women of color, long-subjected to seeing the fight for "women's rights" in this country boiled down to white women's rights.

This aside is providential, because it supports what I feel and preach about indies; that the fight is indeed with the "powers that be," but that fight can only be meaningful if strategic ways are employed to gain market share. It's also as basic a principle as there is in this fight; after all, what is the definition of "conglomerate," and "consolidation"?

Take the mass-media congloms who've concentrated unprecedented media power; whose side is the FCC on now? Whose concerns will the FCC take lightly or not? More importantly, what are the hard realities for indie media practitioners?

So, to be utterly crass, I think it's silly to think that a local indie paper can fight a Rupert Murdoch or a Viacom. Yes, ultimately, that's where the problem lies, but the fight is not to be fought strategically by indies there - you don't even rate the attention of a pimple on Murdoch's ass. And even if you did, there's the FCC, there're the lobbyists with deep pockets, and ... well, you get it.

Now the segue,; because of Turkey Day yesterday, and our annual ceremony of stuffing birds and ourselves silly. So it's apropos that this turns to the Slow Movement.

There's plenty on the web about Slow, but one of the interesting manifestations of it is in food, and how it is proposing and practicing ways to combat agri-biz. One of the champions of the Slow Food movement is Alice Waters - there's a link to her in my sidebar, and her award-winning eatery, Chez Panisse. She also happens to be a big-wig of the Slow Food movement internationally, as I recall.

She really is something else, and an indie triumph of taking one's passion, plugging in where they can on the local level, and along the way, forming synergies and building out toward the bigger picture. Indies of any stripe, take note.

Btw, for those interested or who missed it, check out Nick Geyrhalter's, Our Daily Bread, a great documentary on food production that has the bonus of being very well made aesthetically.