Supermax Profit

Imagine a land where the capitalist ideal is stretched so far, prisoners sue for and win the right to choose which for-profit private prison they will go to.

Where penitentiary placement representatives do outreach marketing to convicted individuals while they wait between conviction and sentencing,  courting them with pamphlets and promises, going into broad generalities about their prison’s social environment, pod occupancy, commissary rates, work release programs, yard amenities, all in a push to get the highest-paying criminals for a larger cut of the state’s money.

Like a college admissions outreach team, but for criminal justice.

Wouldn’t that be something?

All the Ladies

So, in the renewed spirit of gender equality with the recent progresses made by the #metoo movement, I’m trying to figure out the most appropriate thing to say when addressing a group of women.

See, last week I was getting a haircut; the staff on shift was all women. My stylist laid a hot towel on my neck and instantly I caught myself before I blurted out, “Oh, I forgot you guys did that.” Instead, I edited myself to be more true, but what actually came out was “Oh, I forgot you folks did that.” She guffawed at my use of the word “folks” because who the hell actually uses that word non-ironically?

So my question: is it okay to use “gals” instead of “guys”? My problem is that “Guys” is masculine and not gender-neutral. “Gals” is condescending. “Y’all” or “Folks” or “You” is too provincial. Is it okay to use “ladies” or “gals” or “women” when addressing a group of women? Is that a safe thing to do? Or should I just buck up and say what I feel is right anyway and take my lumps?

I know the romance/latin languages use the masculine pronouns and conjugations even in gender-neutral or mixed-gender contexts. Is that still appropriate here in English? I just don’t feel right walking up to a counter and greeting the women there with “Hey guys, what’s up?” You know? What gives?

We All, Absentee Consumers

How do so many tenants of dead malls stay alive, and why are so many videos of dead malls so interesting? Why do I keep watching?

Why is so much of a physical place’s legitimacy so pinned to what we all agree about it? Why is it that one minor opinion of it can cause the whole house of cards to come crumbling down?

This is human behavior.

The same social forces that govern whether a social club is dead also govern whether a mall is dead. It’s a trumped-up need where previously there was none. Artifice. We have so many physical buildings where thriving clubs, thriving social gathering places, previously existed, Now they’re only worth the marginalized clientèle who need haven. Same thing with dead malls. If a dead mall wants to survive, it needs tailors, dreamers, delusionists who believe they can survive long enough to keep paying the rent.

Humans are a fickle bunch. What once had juice can easily be bone dry. City boards can easily be fooled, but not consumers. Fat chance trying to fool them.

We are a country whose sole resource is retail space.

Nobody’s buying.

Broad Strokes

It’s particularly vexing to me when I see a friend or family member say or post something that puts down “the gays”. It paints a broad brush stroke over a whole group of humans and robs a piece of their dignity.

I’m not gay…but I’m also not straight. I’m open-minded. The sort of talk above exasperates me to hear, because what if the love of my life isn’t some heteronormative female? What if I completely switch teams? What if I love lots of different kinds humans all at the same time? Then that brush would paint over me as well.

In my younger days, I used to make jokes about fat chicks, and it always confused me how many physically fit women within earshot would fire back their disapproval of my jokes. My thinking at the time was “well, you’re not fat, so why do you care?” The answer is that anyone can become fat, and then the jokes would cover them as well.

It’s just bad form to put down a group of people because of what they are and what they do. That’s weak sauce; lowest-common-denominator talk show monologue humor, even on its best day.

Please consider what you say and how it lifts up or puts down those who know you. We affect each other in ways we may yet understand.

Amen

Adverb for agreement and consent. Amen.
Statement of “so be it”. Amen.
Punctuation to a long prayer. Amen.
That is the past. These are our hopes. This is our intent. Amen.
Please let us move on, dream on, go forward into the dark night. Amen.
Pushing to the sunrise of our souls, of our world. Amen.
Leaving all our shadows behind. Amen.
It’s time to turn the page and love again. Amen.
Lifting up our prayers like a billion lights in the sky. Amen.
The past is gone for good. It’s time to say: Amen.
Amen. Amen.