Crucial Minutia
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You are currently browsing the Crucial Minutiae weblog archives for September, 2007.

Felice Belle
What Lies Beneath
4 Comments | posted September 30th, 2007 at 12:21 pm by Felice Belle


It was a banner week for race in America.

Adrienne Curry, former America’s Next Top Model and reality TV star(?) explained why she’s boycotting BET and Black History Month.

Bill O’Reilly was amazed that black people behave just like white people when they go to dinner at a restaurant.

And Congress held a hearing on hip hop, entitled “From Imus to Industry: The business of stereotypes and degrading images.”

I have no problem dismissing Curry and O’Reilly as ignorant and/or attention-seeking — say something controversial and watch the hits on your MySpace page rise. Or your ratings, as the case may be.

But what is Congress doing?

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Cristina Pippa
If Jon Stewart Had 3 Presidents to Satirize
2 Comments | posted September 27th, 2007 at 10:06 pm by Cristina Pippa

Alma Mater My sister called the other day to ask what I thought of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at my alma mater, and I was all thumbs up for all sorts of reasons. I wondered, though, if this controversy has drawn the nation’s attention to the other world leaders Columbia has invited to speak. It was of special interest to me as I write this play about a Bosnian American, that Columbia invited Željko Komšić to give a keynote address today. He is one of the three rotating presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That’s right. Bosnia has three presidents. And you thought that one was a lot to worry about!

I was sitting in the Bosnian equivalent of Legal Aid in Sarajevo when I first heard about their post-war presidency. After I reset my dropped jaw, I imagined how this system would work in America. Would Jon Stewart have to extend his show to an hour, or even an hour and a half, to cover material on all three presidents? Would Congress accomplish anything? Would they perhaps accomplish more as, knowing when to send their bills through. And perhaps the most interesting question: Which three groups would Americans want represented?

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Kimberlee Auerbach
Stars Are Dead. Love Is Alive.
No Comments | posted September 27th, 2007 at 12:36 pm by Kimberlee Auerbach


I hadn’t eaten in a little over twenty hours. I was hungry. It was 2:15PM on Saturday, on Yom Kippur, and I was sitting on a fold-up chair in The Angel Oransanz Foundation as people passed the microphone around, crying out the names of loved ones who had died. A friend. A sister. A parent. Sometimes, an entire family. Gone. I had never experienced communal crying. Even if you weren’t mourning the loss of someone, it would be hard not to cry.

The Rabbi kept saying, “They are with you. In your heart. Here and now.”

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Joie Jager-Hyman
The Point Is…
No Comments | posted September 26th, 2007 at 11:16 am by Joie Jager-Hyman

For those of you who did the little exercise I posted in my last column, here are the answers…

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Jennifer Gandin Le
A Sea of Pink
2 Comments | posted September 26th, 2007 at 09:50 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

This news story out of Nova Scotia just warms my heart. In the small community of Cambridge, a Grade 9 boy wore a pink polo shirt on the first day of school, and a group of older students harassed him with homophobic slurs and threatened to assault him.

When David Shepherd and Travis Price, two Grade 12 students, heard about this, they bought at least 50 pink shirts to wear and bring to school the next day (including one for the boy who was bullied) — and, via e-mail, mobilized hundreds of their classmates to do the same. They estimate that about half of their 830 classmates joined in their protest.

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Kate Torgovnick
All hail the Geico ad execs.
3 Comments | posted September 25th, 2007 at 10:33 pm by Kate Torgovnick

geico.jpgTonight, ABC premiered a new sitcom—Cavemen a show based on the almost-funny Geico commercials where a caveman talks on his cell phone and whines to his shrink about the phrase, “So easy a caveman can do it.” No, I did not watch said show. I was busy getting stuck in an elevator with about four other Crucial Minutiaeteers. I didn’t DVR it either, because a) sitcoms and I generally do not get along and b) I always preferred the Geico Gecko commercials anyway. But I find it fascinating that an actual television show picked up by a major television network is based on a commercial. In fact, I would go as far as to call it an advertising coup. It’s on par with the 1988 release of Mac and Me, an alien buddy movie that’s pretty clearly a two-hour ad for McDonald’s.

Geico is a company that has mastered advertising. While most commercials make me want to throw my television against the wall, Geico continually pumps out ads that are funny. I have to admit, I get a little bit excited when their most recent commercial airs—a Hard Copy-like look at how Wilma Flintstone could afford her signature pearls (answer: Fred saved a lot on car insurance).

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Courtney E. Martin
Dear Unknown Yoga Friend
1 Comment | posted September 25th, 2007 at 03:34 pm by Courtney E. Martin

For over a year now we both arrive at U.’s class around 9:25 (we’re not the late ones, though I admit, sometimes, I am late). We lay out our mats and roll up our towels and sit on them, the way we’ve been taught. We close our eyes and rest our hands on our knees. U. tells us to chant om and we chant om.

Sometimes I imagine what your life must be like. You never wear make-up and have soft blonde hair—not the dyed kind, but the Swedish kind. You look comfortable in your body, strong, peaceful. Sometimes I fantasize that you are also a writer. That you also go home with your canvas bag and yoga mat and then sit in front of the computer and stare at a blank screen. That you also wonder if I am a writer. We live in Brooklyn, after all. That’s where all the writers live.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
“Let’s Be Friends”: The Holy Grail of Breakups
6 Comments | posted September 24th, 2007 at 11:35 am by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

“I hope we can still be friends.”

It is, perhaps, the second-most used line in a romantic breakup, right after “It’s not you; it’s me.” But unlike “It’s not you; it’s me,” most people mean it. A long-term boyfriend or girlfriend is more than just a lover; they very often become your best friend as well. It’s only natural to want to keep them in your life. But is it even possible?

Of course it is. If you just follow these few, simple Rules:

Mutuality and Proximity

The first major component to your chances of success, is, of course, how mutual the breakup is, and how close you live to each other. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be said, but “It’s sad that we have to go our separate ways and live on different coasts” gives you a significantly better chances of success than “I’m sorry you were holding a wedding ring when you walked in on me screwing your roommate.”

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Cristina Pippa
“I think I got a B in Econ 101″
2 Comments | posted September 20th, 2007 at 12:41 pm by Cristina Pippa

Bushy This quote, my friends, is from our fearless president. He uttered these words just a couple of hours ago in a press conference about his refusal to sign the new SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) bills. Michael Roston at the Huffington Post also made note of this quote, setting the record straight that George W. actually got a C- in Economics at good old Yale.

I never took Econ in high school or college and I certainly didn’t take it in grad school (although I did branch out and take an American Politics course). So, far be it for me to judge anyone who got an average grade in Economics (even if he is the President of the U.S. and I’m not fond of his message to students… Condi got her Ph.D. while I was a C student, but look who’s president!). In any case, my gut tells me that the SCHIP expansion (both sides explained very well at Marketplace) will not drive our economy to a halt. For those of you who did get a B or even an A! in Econ, isn’t it possible that this expansion would pressure private insurance companies to make health care options more affordable and beneficial? Or have I misunderstood Capitalism?

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Joie Jager-Hyman
Generation Jena Six, What’s In a Noose?
7 Comments | posted September 19th, 2007 at 11:26 am by Joie Jager-Hyman

At this very moment, hundreds of protesters are on buses making their way to Jena, Louisiana (pronounced GEE-nuh), a small town of about 3,000 residents. They, along with prominent Civil Rights Activists–Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III–will stand on the steps of the Jena courthouse tomorrow, September, 20, 2007, when 17-year-old Mychal Bell is scheduled to be sentenced. He faces up to 22 years in prison, even with the reduced charges that were eventually brought against him.

(For those of you who don’t know about it, you can read the time line of events leading up to what has become known as the “Jena Six” case by clicking here.)

Is the Jena Six case being trumped up by angry African Americans, who want to blame whites for their problems? Or, is it really a symbol of modern-day racism that continues to infect our society?

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Jennifer Gandin Le
Woodhull Goes Global
4 Comments | posted September 19th, 2007 at 11:00 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

In 2002, I attended a Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership young women’s retreat in upstate New York. I was a year out of college, I hated my job, and, like many friends, I felt lost, lonely, and powerless. That weekend, I met teachers who expected great things of me, who asked me to own my authentic voice and take responsibility for my power as an agent of change.

Right after I went through the program, I was adorably annoying to all my gal friends, bugging them to attend a retreat, too. (A public thanks to all of you for tolerating my fresh enthusiasm.) Some went, but some couldn’t afford the time or cost of a weekend away.

Now, there’s no excuse for those who haven’t attended. Last week, the Woodhull Institute and Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty launched a series of online training modules called Real Women, Real Success Stories.

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Kate Torgovnick
New Time of Orchids Record Out Today. Yay!
4 Comments | posted September 18th, 2007 at 10:06 pm by Kate Torgovnick

too.jpgTime of Orchid’s new album, Namesake Caution, is in stores today. And, I have to say, it’s my favorite album so far containing two of the best Orchids songs ever, “Darling Abandon” and “The Only Thing.” It runs the gamut from bizarro, “Um, what’s going on here” music to gorgeous parts that will stick in your head for days. As Time Out New York said, “”Dense and complex…haunted sonic cinematography and elliptical poetry.” Click here to see the video for “Darling Abandon.”

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Courtney E. Martin
Seeking Secret Techniques of Euphoria
7 Comments | posted September 18th, 2007 at 08:43 am by Courtney E. Martin

girl talkThe picture to your right is seriously what a Girl Talk show is like. If you don’t know, now you know.

A couple Crucials and I went to the show at Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night, and let me tell you, I haven’t jumped up and down so much since Kriss Kross at a North Junior High dance (by the way, seriously rewatch the video because you will be shocked out of your gourd at how young those kiddies look).

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Joie Jager-Hyman
September 11th Sucks
4 Comments | posted September 17th, 2007 at 11:29 am by Joie Jager-Hyman

I know, I know. Almost a week has past since the 6th anniversary of September 11th. Why write about it now?

Because I’m finally getting some distance from the emotional black hole that has become the “ceremony” and “event” of September 11th. I thought last year would be bad because it was the big fifth anniversary, but at least I was somewhat prepared for the memorial.

This year was way worse.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
6 Months of Crucial Minutiae–Looking Forward, Looking Back
1 Comment | posted September 16th, 2007 at 05:47 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

Crucial MinutiaeOn September 19th, Crucial Minutiae will be 6 months old. In honor of the milestone, I’m taking this week to look back–and forward.

To date, we’ve seen over 47,000 unique daily visits to CM, growing every month. Our most popular posts, like our mix, have been varied, from Felice’s entry on Flava Flav (popular with Google image searchers) to my controversial discussions of pornography and travel writing (popular with Ethan-bashers) to Joie’s spotlighting the violent crime in Chicago (popular with Bob Herbert) to Daniel’s Breakfast with Barack.

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Felice Belle
Won’t You Come See About Me?
3 Comments | posted September 16th, 2007 at 12:20 pm by Felice Belle

/breakfast_club2.jpgBest Week Ever is back. Awesome.

How else would I find out that Tommy Lee has a blog. And on that blog you can read a first person account of his battle royale with Kid Rock at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.

Sometimes I question why I blog. After watching Best Week Ever I wondered why celebrities blog. Sure they’re people too. But it seems gratuitous. Like reality TV shows starring people who are already famous.

Somewhat related tangent — I found myself feeling bad for Britney Spears this week. Not as bad as this guy. And not genocide in the Sudan bad. More like “Aww, look at the baby bird with the broken wing” bad.

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Theo Gangi
Fiction Fridays: Continued
No Comments | posted September 14th, 2007 at 02:24 pm by Theo Gangi

Click on Theo Gangi above for last week’s episode.

We have done this a couple of times: we go into the bathroom and pretend to be from the Youth Squad, I take the kid outside while Eddy talks the guy into giving him money, to avoid being arrested. Eddy has been making money like that all over the west side of Lower Manhattan for years. His biggest moneymaker is this kid. This is the first time I am working with the kid.
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Cristina Pippa
The honeymoon is over.
2 Comments | posted September 13th, 2007 at 08:21 pm by Cristina Pippa

Barbie Cake Not to be dramatic. It’s just a fact. The days of blueberry cocktails by Lake Superior (which, if you didn’t know, masquerades as a deep blue ocean) are over for now, and we are back to our separate worlds of dark, grim while-hopefully-still-comedic theatre. He’s directing Lieutenant of Inishmore, a play about Irish terrorists, and I’m finishing the first draft of my play about Bosnian refugees.

And yet, we found the time in our newly married bliss to determine one thing about the whole wedding business (besides the fact that if you register for theKnot, they charmingly assume that you plan to start birthin’ babes immediately after your nuptials and automatically register you for theNest). Here’s the wisdom: It is far better to start new traditions, such as allowing your friends to molest cake versions of the bride and groom on the night of your rehearsal dinner, than to follow through with old traditions, such as actually cutting your cake on the big day.

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Kimberlee Auerbach
L’Shana Tova! May It Be Good and Sweet!
8 Comments | posted September 13th, 2007 at 02:27 pm by Kimberlee Auerbach

/orensanz.jpg It’s the Jewish New Year, and I just got back from morning services at The Shul Of New York, a congregation that takes the concept of One God very seriously. Most synagogues are exclusive. You not only have to be Jewish, you have to be the right kind of Jewish. At The Shul of New York, everyone is welcome.

Rabbi Burt stood in the heart of The Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side, raised his arms in welcome, and rattled off a list, “Jewish, non-Jewish, spiritual, secular, black, white, gay, straight. We are all connected. We are all under One God.” Then the Shul band, led by Adam Feder, accompanied by one of the Villa-Lobos Brothers, three virtuoso violinists from Veracruz, Mexico, started to play. Soon, the oldest synagogue in New York was filled with the sweet sounds of guitar, violin and drums.

I started to cry. Normally, I would try to choke back my tears, wipe my face, dab the corners of my eyes to stop my mascara from running, but today, I let my face be wet.

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Kate Torgovnick
Everywhere a Chuck, Chuck.
No Comments | posted September 13th, 2007 at 08:06 am by Kate Torgovnick

My boyfriend’s name is Chuck. I like his name. Until recently, it’s been unusual, relegated to accountants over the age of 50, making it stand out for a 28-year-old. It’s one easy, precise syllable, much like my own name—Kate. But lately, Chuck’s name seems to be everywhere. It started with a Charles Scwab ad campaign, signs throughout the city saying, “Talk to Chuck,” in a comic-like bubble. Then came a new Converse campaign, “Get Chucked.” Earlier this summer, a fine piece of cinema (notice the sarcasm) made it’s way to theaters: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Anyone who’s watched TV lately has seen commercials for Good Luck Chuck. And that’s not all. Josh Schwartz, of O.C. fame, is taking the name to new levels. He’s not only behind the new show, Chuck, but a character in Gossip Girl also bears the name.

So what’s going on? Why is Chuck suddenly everywhere? To all the advertising execs and television and film producers out there—my boyfriend would like his name back.