A collection of thoughts ... from a[n exploding] boy in Toronto.
SOPHIE - BIPP
This song is ridiculous and weiiird, but I am endeared. It also just might make you feel better.
“a collection of deliberately inconvenient everyday objects, designed by Athens based architect Katerina Kamprani.”
Simultaneously frustrating and endearing.
“Why tiki, and why now? The culture is as much lifestyle as it is art, and its revival may be an antidote to the frantic pace of a wired generation seeking comfort from a primitive [sic?] haven at home. Perhaps the trend reflects a desire for a simpler time, tinged with a nostalgia that author Dennis Coupland, who coined the term Generation X, first described as a longing for experiences we never had, a hunger to be part of a previous generation." — from Tiki Drinks by Adam Rocke
And then there’s the catchy, ending credits song (sang by the main actress and actor!) that’s becoming all too familiar — “All Of Our Friends Are Getting Married”
A super fresh, more realistic rom-com on open relationships. Similar to ‘Medicine for Melancholy’ (also shot in San Francisco) I like how it shows representations not typically seen in other movies. Firstly, a predominately Asian-American cast, but also the somewhat smug, politically progressive main couple who shop at farmers markets and go to their local, independent bookstore and theatre; and they even reference the book “The Ethical Slut.” I think the movie is better than the trailer.
You can watch the full movie here:http://www.movshare.net/video/88f0448770bb0
I’m going to a tiki party on Saturday and feeling conflicted. I have always been really fond of the blissful, easy going, tropical vibes of “tiki”; perhaps also due to the movie Surf Ninjas that my alienated ~eight year old, Polynesian-looking self (I’m Chinese with a tan) thought was super inspiring and epic (I watched it again when I was ~nineteen and it was significantly less epic/significantly more goofy than I remember it being e.g. both Rob Shneider and Leslie Nielsen are in it). Anyways, going to this event and trying to find a tiki outfit led me to reflect on, is this … cultural appropriation? ’Don’t Mess Up When You Dress Up’(?)
I decided to do some reading…
I appreciated the critical finish to this otherwise fairly safe article that an organizer of the tiki event linked: Why America Was Full-On Obsessed With The Tiki
"Eventually, when the kids of Tiki lovers grew up (during the social revolutionary times of the mid-1960s), the lifeblood of Polynesian romanticism — capitalism, military presence, cultural appropriation — fell out of popularity and became things to protest. Postwar baby boomers found their parent’s Polynesian posturing somewhat ridiculous, their attitudes toward native cultures patronizing”
I then came to the à l’allure garçonnière's blogpost entitled “the critical fashion lover’s (basic) guide to cultural appropriation.” Admirably bold, garçonnière’s posts starts starts out with: “writing about cultural appropriation and racism in fashion is potentially the most controversial topic for fashion writers, with body politics (which isn’t completely divorced from these issues) following close behind.” I imagine garment manufacturing conditions would also be up there. Anyways, later garçonnière elaborates:
”cultural appropriation can be a very useful tool for critical fashion lovers to navigate these perilous waters of privilege, erasure and ignorance. … my favourite aspect of cultural appropriation is that it can help us begin to deconstruct our sartorial choices and acknowledges the power of clothing as a means of shaping (racial, national, sexual, gender) identity. the exact same piece of clothing can mean very different things to different people (take any politically charged piece of clothing: the hijab, high-heel shoes, doc martens, the keffiyeh, etc) and acknowledging this fact is a very important first step. the very basis of cultural appropriation gets people thinking about questions like, can one piece of clothing ‘belong’ to one culture? what do certain pieces of clothing signify? it moves us away from basic discussions of colour palettes and cuts and styles and trends and moves us towards a more complex theorizing of fashion.”
So what does tiki have to be do with “privilege, erasure, and ignorance”?
“the myth of a vainglorious downfall in Easter Island culture masked the history of enslavement of the population of Easter Island to Chilean mines; and the myth of Aloha spirit in Hawaii masked the takeover of the Hawaiian Kingdom, imprisonment of the Hawaiian Queen Lili’uokalani, and Native Hawaiian protests against American colonization and statehood. In the light of these major historical events for Pacific Islanders, Western historical consciousness substitutes the darkness of images … [for] tiki mugs and Hollywood movies."
I was also recently introduced to the Hawaiian ukulele musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole famous for his amazing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' cover, but who also had more politicized songs about Hawaiians rights and independence like 'E Ela E'. Supposedly he was outspoken on how the tourist industry relegated native Hawaiians to a second class status.
Mondo Revival! The Rebirth of Tiki Culture and How to Make It Yours
(the exchange between the writer and a commenter is pretty interesting. The author, Chad, also qualifies his intentions behind the questionable title.)
Being refreshingly self-critical and receptive to criticisms of cultural appropriation (even if I think he seems to lack a sufficient analysis on race and power), Chad makes the distinction between “Tiki Culture, and *not* the Polynesian societies from which it was drawn”. Tiki culture he says is “caricature culture” and was “first formed by the efforts of [American] entrepreneurs, before catching on with a not-too-small segment of the population who had returned home from their post World War II-era tropical vacations and honeymoons to adopt and, yes, appropriate the culture they had enjoyed by building in their basements tropically themed wet bars.”
So to conclude, If you know tiki culture is something ‘inauthentic’ (as opposed to accurate portrayals of Polynesia) and you know of some of its (colonial) history — essentially solving the concerns of erasure and ignorance — is it then a game changer … or is there still the reality of privilege (and very possibly, perhaps innocently, still perpetuating erasure and ignorance)? Is taking part in and enjoying tiki culture still, you know, cultural appropriation?
“My worry beforehand had been that Williams would be too wildly manic to make much sense. When he appeared on the Jonathan Ross show earlier this summer, he’d been vintage Williams – hyperactive to the point of deranged, ricocheting between voices, riffing off his internal dialogues. Off-camera, however, he is a different kettle of fish. His bearing is intensely Zen and almost mournful, and when he’s not putting on voices he speaks in a low, tremulous baritone – as if on the verge of tears … He seems gentle and kind – even tender – but the overwhelming impression is one of sadness." - from http://goo.gl/Cpyd8a
”He easily could have dominated the conversation; we all knew the difference between who he was and who we were. … He joked and laughed with us and went out of his way to not tower above us. He probably never knew how much we loved him for that." — Jim Norton speaking about Robin Williams among the other comedians hanging out at the ‘comedy table’ after shows.
“Dear Air France, sometimes I think the way we met happened too fast. … But, I, I’ll always think about you - when I’m drunk.”
Now graduated and doing the job searching thing. But what I would most ideally like to do for work doesn’t exist in Toronto. If geography and language were not a barrier, it would be epic to be part of the Mondragon enterprises (the giant network of mostly worker co-ops in the Basque Country); any organization that is in part based around “parecon” principles (ParIT in Winnipeg, South End Press, Z Mag); the Bolivarian University in Venezuela set up to experiment with balanced job complexes in an educational institution; an organization that does participatory planning really well (Porte Allegre in Brazil, or communal councils and municipalities in Venezuela, and I know Toronto Community Housing uses participatory budgeting but has not been greatly successful at it from what I’ve been told); work related to the solidarity economies in South America, or especially Greece where there are whole communities that supposedly function largely outside the capitalist economy; a “pay what you can” restaurant like Lentil As Anything in Australia or Der Wiener Deewan in Vienna.
… I meant to also add the Bauen Hotel — a worker taken over and now worker (co-op) ran hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I did, though, read some mixed to slightly discouraging reviews of the place; strictly in terms of it as a hotel (apparently it’s not for those expecting the swankiest and most comfortable of hotels). I guess it’s a reminder that even the most exciting of initiatives are not always perfectly thriving and are a work in progress, and will require struggle.
On the topic of parecon, my ‘friend’ wrote a paper called Parecon: In Possibility Space & IRL which can be found here.