Saturday, September 02, 2006

Dastardly Airport X-rays, 2Pac, "I am African" Adverts, and Pursuing an Icecream Truck

From the look of the title, we can assume that Carmen has not gotten very much work done on her thesis today.

But lets start from the beginning. Carmen broke her writers block in the morning and worked for about an hour. She now has about three or four good paragraphs. She rewarded herself by taking a bike ride to the East Side of town to go pick up her photos from Nigeria at Star Photo, a somewhat expensive but more-professional-than-Walgreens photo developer.

On the way there she ran into a couple of garage sales, and she is now the proud owner of a food weigher ($1), (which she will use to weigh mail); two big cooking spoons ($1); a cup and half cup measuring cup because the markings are wearing off of Sara's (50c); a jewelry box (50c), because she now has more than one pair of earrings; a VCR($8), because Sara's is broken; three shirts ($1.50); a green sweater ($1); A Writers Handbook 2003 ($1); 4 books which she will probably give away at a later date ($1): Plato: Gorgias; Victor Villasenor: Rain of Gold; Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; and best of all Personal Finance for Dummies....; 3 cds ($3) 2pac: best of, Fugees: The Score (which she already has, but...), and (shamefully) J-Lo: The Remixes.

The garage sales meant that she missed the farmer's market, since she always goes late because that is when people are trying to get rid of the produce and it is the cheapest. Since the only thing she really NEEDED to get was honey from the sour-faced honey guy, that was ok. Madison is lovely right now, the air is cool, the sun is warm, the grass is green, the lakes are blue, and families are out on the bridges and piers fishing. The bike paths for the most part keep her off of the big roads.

On to Star Photo, where she discovered to her horror that the airport X-rays for handluggage (at least she is assuming it is the airport X-ray) which are not supposed to affect film under 800 speed had fogged almost all of her 8 rolls (400 and 200 speed)--the photos are still visible but they all look grainy and washed out and in some instances one can see the direction of the fogging. The first photos on the rolls, which are in the inner part of the roll are much crisper. Carmen has not had very much luck with photography this summer. Just before she started going onto movie sets, she broke her digital camera. She was upset because it was expensive, but knew that her 35mm film camera would take better photos anyway. The only problem is that it is a huge pain to lug the thing around, so she didn't get quite as many photos as she would have otherwise, but the ones she did get, she thought were going to be good.... Kaico! At least, she hadn't taken anything that she thought was a masterpiece, so that this is more of an annoyance than a heart break. STILL... Today, she considered getting one of the lead film carriers, but her carry-on is already overweight with just a computer and a camera, so... instead she will take the advice of the woman behind the counter and put all of her film from now on into clear cannisters in a ziploc bag and demand hand inspection. The horrible thing is that there is a whole bunch of film not yet taken that she will have to now throw away, or at least reserve for not very important photos. Kash! Alas!

On the way back home, back through the afternoon sunlight, through park bikepaths, through sleepy Saturday neighborhoods, she hears the tinkling tune of a icecream truck. She hasn't heard that since the Mr. Softies that would wind through Brooklyn (and Manhattan) streets in the summer, and which she read in some local paper annoyed long-term Brooklyners. She had not lived in New York long enough to become irritable, and had loved those things that hardened New Yorkers are cynical about: the itinerate knife grinders, the Mr. Softies, the doo-woppers in the subway, the irritable Brooklyners. These are the things that make her nostalgic for New York, even as after three years she is finally starting to settle into a summery Madison (settling into a wintery Madison will take much longer). So, she followed the Icecream truck (feeling slightly foolish), taking each turn with him and plodding along behind on her bike, and wondering when he would stop. Finally she waves hands at his mirror and coasts over onto a sidewalk as he slows. As he speeds up again she calls over "Are you selling icecream?" and he stops and she buys a fudgecicle which is frozen solid and frosted over with ice. But it makes her happy.

Back at home she skims through the lastest issue of the New Yorker. Is anyone else offended by the new "I am an African" adverts starring various Western celebrities with paint slashed across their faces and jewelry that appears to be somewhat Zulu-ish? The Byline reads "I am African. Help us stop the Dying. Pay for Lifesaving AIDS Drugs that can keep a child, a mother, a father, a family alive. Visit KEEPACHILDALIVE.ORG to help." The impulse to help pay for AIDS drugs is admirable, but there is so much baggage on so many level in these adverts. The conflation of AIDS with AFRICA with images of polished-faced celebrities "primitivised" by the random slashes of paint. (Remniscient of the Helen Fielding satire _Cause Celeb_). Apparently the paint makes them African? You might as well just say, "I come from the Dark Continent. We are all dying. We need you, the beautiful celebrities to save us from ourselves." "I am African."???? Well, actually... no, you are not. Perhaps Carmen will devote a whole post or paper... to this at some point.

Ok in the process of looking for photos to post online, I found this blog with many comments on the issue: The pic of Paltrow comes from this blog. Here are some other relevant links:

Now, back to her room and her computer, to blast 2Pac while she continues to plow into the third chapter on the ambiguities between fiction and reality.

"Cry later, but for now lets enjoy the laughter. God bless the dead. thas right... God bless the dead."

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