Sexism, sadly, is what comes through most strongly in Carlos Moore's Fela: This Bitch of a Life, the newly rereleased 1982 authorized biography of Africa's greatest musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Well, sexism and police brutality. The book, translated from the French, is essentially a well-organized and very long interview of Fela at his peak. For die-hard fans of the originalBlack President this may be a enticing read, but the average yuppie with an eclectic taste in music is probably better off checking out the Fela Project.
Fela is an natural topic for Moore, a scholar of race who's led a very interesting life in his own right. Fela's anticolonial message is a powerful one and there's a lot to like about his politics and worldview (see video).
Remember Emilio Gutiérrez Soto? He is the Mexican journalist Charles Bowden profiled in "We Bring Fear," the feature story in our July/August drug war issue. The short version is that Emilio was forced to flee the Mexican Army and seek asylum in the U.S., where he was separated from his son and detained by the ICE for 7 months. He literally escaped from the Army by sneaking out the back of a grocery store and hiding out on a friend's farm for 2 days before booking it to the border.
Needless to say, Emilio was unable to bring very much with him and lost nearly all of his possessions. After he was released from the El Paso Processing Center he joined his son in Las Cruces at the home of some kind friends. While he waits for his much-delayed asylum trial he has been unable to sell his home in northern Chihuahua, where the housing market has totally collapsed. To make matters worse he has still not been granted a work permit to legally make money here. This is a talented journalist, a regional bureau chief of the biggest newspaper in Juarez, and he can't even work a menial job to pay for basic necessities like school supplies for his son. He is caught in a limbo between the violence of Mexico and the bureaucratic inhumanity of the U.S.
Molly Molloy, who played a huge part in reporting and translating "We Bring Fear," and other good folks in the Las Cruces community are throwing a fundraising benefit for Emilio tonight. Please think about joining their efforts and sending a check to help alleviate the suffering while Emilio waits for his trial. If you believe in supporting journalism then there is no better way than supporting a journalist in his time of need.
SUGGESTED DONATION: $25
If you cannot attend, but would like to make a donation, please send in care of:
New Mexico State University Library
Box 30006 Dept 3475, NMSU
Las Cruces, NM 88003
The latest from my neck of the woods has Chicago realty group Horizon suing a former tenant $50,000 in damages over a tweet. On May 12, Amanda Bonnen tweeted the following:Seemingly innocuous right? It's the kind of content that a stream-of-consciousness oriented medium might be expected to produce. And hey, it could be a worse.
Apparently it can't be. Horizon released a statement yesterday that contained the following sentence:
As you can imagine, allegations of mold are taken very seriously by our organization.
And earlier in the week Jeff Michael, whose family owns the company, told the Chicago Sun-Times the Horizon Realty Group was "a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization." It doesn't matter that Bonnen had only 20 followers at the time of her tweet or that her account has since been deleted. (See the Google cached version here.)
This story reminds me of a lawsuit that came up in a recent Mother Jones investigation. In the July/August issue of Mother Jones, Adam Matthews writes about the evils of big property owners Stellar Management. When former residents of Stellar's San Francisco Parkmerced complex anonymously complained about the facilities and management on ApartmentRatings.com, Stellar subpoened the website for the identities of the commenters. Good thing they didn't check out Yelp!, where, coincidentally, many of the complaints focus on the apparently prohibitive mold situation.
Now obviously the only reason Amanda Bonnen's story has garnered so much attention is because Twitter was involved. Look past the Twitter craze, however, and there is something at stake about the way we live now. For young professionals and students, the internet is increasingly the beginning, middle, and end of the apartment search. Horizon Group Realty acknowledges as much with the online lease application and rent pay apps featured on their website. As with so many other things, the internet has shone a bright ray of information into a formerly dark corner. In this case, it found mold. Whether or not Bonnen ends up forking over the 50k, are you going to be more careful about what you tweet? I didn't think so...