Liner Notes: A Departure

mensah demary’s previous Liner Notes columns for The Butter can be found here.

General feelings of uplift, of the future light beamed and burned against the cold historic slabs. Hands clasped together in Emoji prayers. Play Kendrick’s “Alright.” It is a reminder, like the thunderbolt, that change comes swiftly, but only after the painstaking patience of people peering over the precipice.

Hard times like God
Bad trips like: “God!”
Nazareth, I’m fucked up
Homie you fucked up
But if God got us we then gon’ be alright

It is an affirmation against the maelstrom; it is a call to endure. There are online arguments and debates and comments, and then there is justice piloted by grace. You see it coming, on the back of the starling, with a rainbow jet stream visible to everyone — even citizens living on the wrong side of history.

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Texts From Charles Bukowski

As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it.
what do you mean
like
going to work?
What do they do it for? Sex?
what
no
that’s not why people go to work and you know it
TV?
i mean that’s not the primary reason
An automobile on monthly payments? Or children?
yes
obviously
that is why most people go to their jobs
is to pay their bills and also feed their families
Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?
are you honestly asking me to explain the circle of life to you right now
“Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”
yes
we all realize that

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I Wanted to Hug Every Part of Him With My Mouth: A Magic Mike XXL Recap

This is a movie recap so it will be entirely composed of spoilers. If you’re thinking there’s a plot twist in Magic Mike XXL you don’t want to know about until you behold this movie’s glory on the silver screen, read no further.

Let’s get one thing out of the way–Magic Mike Vol. 1 was not a good movie. I loved it but it was terrible–no plot, terrible acting, and it was pretty dark and depressing unless there was male stripping going on.

Magic Mike XXL is an entirely different movie. Believe it or not, this is an actually good movie–thoroughly entertaining, charming, well-intentioned, and well produced, directed, and acted. Magic Mike XXL is Oscar worthy, especially for sound design and the shameless exposure of taut male abdominal muscles.

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News Roundup: Who Is Burning Black Churches?

Of the now-seven black churches that have burned in the week since the Charleston massacre, at least three are currently being investigated by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau as possible arsons. The latest church, Mount Zion AME in Greeleyville, was burned by KKK members already in 1995. (The WhoIsBurningBlackChurches tag on Twitter is a particularly helpful tool.)

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Abortion, or What We Want from Chickens

Chickens are contained, caged, squished, bred, anti-biotic’d, fed other chickens. They put the word “processed” right on the package. Chickens are turned-out, rendered, butterflied, quartered, fileted and tendered.

The genetic acrobatics it took to go from red guinea fowl from Peru to two legs and a breast in your KFC meal is a testament to the human capacity to transform the world to suit us. Chicken suits us all. It’s the number one meat cooked for dinner. Cooking Light magazine boasts one hundred easy recipes for chicken breasts. Eating chicken is what most people do. 110,000,000 chickens are eaten across the world every day. If normal is defined as “everyone does it,” then eating chicken is the most normal thing you can do.

When my grandmother was young, people raised their own chickens. Eating chicken was normal. The word “processed” when referring to chicken was less so. Somewhere in the late twentieth century, it became abnormal to raise your own chickens, around the same time it became weird to get married and have a baby before you were twenty.

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Remembering Loretta Saunders: A MMIW Story

The Toast will be running a few pieces on Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) this summer; this is the first.

My seven siblings and I grew up in a Christian household, which was strict in some sense. We didn’t own a television, and we sat around the table to read The Bible every night and recited scripture. My sisters and I couldn’t wear pants or cut our hair. It might sound a little extreme to some, but it gave us time to spend with family and friends. We interacted and connected with so many people. With Indigenous ancestry, this had its perils but also had its perks. My immediate and extended family are very tight knit. We spent our summers on road trips, frog catching, and basically anything you can imagine for family outings. We always took the neighbourhood kids along with us. My house was always bustling with energy, but that only lasted so long before we discovered drugs and alcohol. Soon, the abuses rolled in. I was molested by a couple of my cousins, and when confronted with that trauma my mother blocked it out. I know this isn’t her fault and I’ve since forgiven her and the two men who assaulted me.

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Loretta was much like a mother to me. I moved in with her when I was about 16 years old. Like myself, Loretta moved out at 15. We both received welfare through Choices in St. John’s and both struggled with addiction, sexual abuse and exploitation, physical abuse, and lack of education. I’m glad I had my sister who was able to pull me out of some scary situations and understand them. As my sister said in her thesis proposal, “My story isn’t unique, thousands of girls are exposed to the exact same experiences that I couldn’t even fathom wishing upon another human being, yet our very own government is responsible for orchestrating the events and developing the policies and practices that led to the marginalization of generations of my people.”

I think when she recognized this pattern, there was no stopping her. She was determined to change things for our people. Even in death, she has been a driving force for Indigenous issues. 

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Link Roundup!

We talked about Bree Newsome’s statement yesterday, but let’s do it again:

I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015, including the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic. I did it in solidarity with the South African students who toppled a statue of the white supremacist, colonialist Cecil Rhodes. I did it for all the fierce black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free.

To all those who might label me an “outside agitator,” I say to you that humanitarianism has no borders. I am a global citizen. My prayers are with the poor, the afflicted and the oppressed everywhere in the world, as Christ instructs. If this act of disobedience can also serve as a symbol to other peoples’ struggles against oppression or as a symbol of victory over fear and hate, then I know all the more that I did the right thing.

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Mallory has a special news roundup about the burning of black churches later this morning, so watch this space for more.

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King George I, Party Planning Visionary

Kathleen Cooper’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.

It’s a shame that we don’t often celebrate the creators of small pleasures. Creators of Big Things — like cars, light bulbs, and antibiotics — understandably receive a great deal of attention, but when it comes to the small events in history, we seem to suffer from collective amnesia. The origins of the first birthday party are lost in the mists of time. We don’t know exactly who invented the first picnic, or thought of the first New Year’s Eve party.

But I am happy to report that the story of King George I of England and his fabulous, fairy-tale Royal Floating Concert Supper Party, the justly celebrated event that featured the first-ever performance of Handel’s famous “Water Music,” has survived through the ages. King George’s musical event was the first party to combine an outdoor concert with entertaining and dining, and this innovation has evolved into our modern tradition of outdoor concert and tailgate parties.

I know you’re shaking your head right now. George I and tailgating? Did they even play football in England in July 1717? Not exactly. But it is my deeply held belief that our outdoor concert and picnic tradition started with his big idea. Next time you pack an elegant meal and head off to Wolf Trap, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Central Park, or any summer concert series that combines music and a picnic, remember King George I of England and Hanover: Party Planning Visionary.

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