If Loving Willie Nelson Makes Me a Redneck, Then Pass The Canned Meat

Willie Nelson photographed for Rolling Stone, in his main building ... I think they call it the saloon, outside of Austin TX on November 4, 2013 Display or On Page credit: Photograph by LeAnn Mueller CAPITAL 'A' in LeAnn

Willie Nelson photographed for Rolling Stone, in his main building … I think they call it the saloon, outside of Austin TX on November 4, 2013
Display or On Page credit: Photograph by LeAnn Mueller
CAPITAL ‘A’ in LeAnn

Last month I was at a swanky luncheon for a birthday party.  Never very good at small talk, I leaned over to a virtual stranger and posed this question: “Does having an obsession with Willie Nelson make me white trash?”  To her credit, she blinked only once and gave me an emphatic, ” ‘Fraid so.” She wasn’t kidding.  She’s also ten years my junior and a thousand times hipper (like I’m pretty sure she doesn’t drive a mini-van or turn in at 9:30 at night), so I know she was telling the truth.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  My friend Robert has been referring for years to the “redneck Willie Nelson thing” I do.

At summer camp one year we had a white trash day (is that racist? tasteless?) and I remember lots of jokes about canned meat, like Vienna sausages, and marrying family members with no teeth.  If that’s what people think of when they think of Willie and his music, well, I can’t stop ’em.

But let me say this:

It’s not easy being a fan of an 82-year-old country music legend.

First, people assume I like country music.  For the record, I hate country music.  Hate. It.  I’m serious.  As a genre it ranks just after Gregorian chant and only slightly above Yo Gabba Gabba.  I really only like Willie.  I can tolerate Johnny Cash.  Waylon Jennings is alright.  I enjoy Kris Kristofferson, but he’s a Rhodes scholar who studied literature at Oxford, and he has a gorgeous head of hair to boot.  There’s nothing trash about that.

But contemporary country.  Yuck.  I have no opinion on Miranda Lambert and that tall guy she’s married to.  Or Eric Church.  I’ll cop to a soft spot for all Texas-born musicians, which is roughly 4/5 of them, but I don’t want to listen to them.  I will also declare my undying devotion to Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith, but they’re not country. They’re “singer songwriters.”

Wait. I know what you’re thinking.  Yes, I’m a Dolly Parton fan, but that’s technically blue grass, so fuck off.

My point is that 99% of country music can go have a cocktail with Bill Cosby for all I care.

Second, and way worse than being mistaken for a country music fan (*shudder*), is that octogenarians who tour sometimes have to cancel their shows.  Like last Friday, when Willie’s undisclosed health issue forced him to cancel a show in Hammon, Indiana.  I had second row (center) seats for that show at the Horseshoe Casino.  (Classy, thy name is Christie.)

I got the email about the cancellation in the middle of the work day.  I pounded on my desk so hard and let out a barbaric yawp so loud and pathetic that my next-door neighbor coworker ran into my office to check on me.

It’s pretty amazing to tell someone who thinks you just erased a day’s worth of work or blew a court-ordered deadline that, no, you’re just having a conniption fit because Willie Nelson canceled his show. (God, just writing that sentence makes me well up.)

“Hi, coworker who is still trying to decide if I’m cool, don’t mind me having a complete episode of decompensation over the status of Willie Nelson’s health.  Move along.”

I moped around all night, then crawled into bed to read his just-released memoir It’s A Long Story.  I find comfort where I can get it.

There is hope: the show’s been rescheduled to September.  I’m saying the rosary every night that Willie is healthy and strong enough to play that night.   In the meantime, I’m picking up the pieces and moving on the best I can, but not eating potted meats or listening to twangy, Nashville country “music.”

 

Cake Balls Make You Popular

I’m popular right now.   Here’s why:

Mommy! We've never loved you more! We forgive you for yelling all the damn time.

Mommy! We’ve never loved you more! We forgive you for yelling all the damn time.

Those are chocolate-covered strawberries, and they taste like a farmers’ market collided with an artisanal chocolate stand in some remote South American country.  But these are better because they weren’t procured under the corruption of a FARC-like guerilla group that terrorizes the countryside.  And because my “treat policy” at home is ever-shifting, in violation of the number one rule of parenting– BE CONSISTENT!– my kids were shocked I let them pick one and eat it.  They’re not stupid, they popped them in their mouths before I could flip-flop on them and start talking about the evils of sugar in the American childhood diet.

For a brief sixteen minute period, I was not only their favorite parent, but their favorite person in the world.  (Besides their beloved nanny, who Sadie wishes was her mom, but that’s another post I promise I’ll write when I get that dagger out of my aorta.)

Since I like feeling like the most loved person in the room, I decided to take some to work.  Funny, when you tell your co-workers you have specialty cake truffles in your office, suddenly they’re all, “hey, can I get you some paperclips?” Or “Want me to create a fax cover sheet for you?”

We gathered around my desk and popped those truffles in our maws and never looked back.  The soothing effects of delicious, bite-sized confections distracted us from the flurry of emails about the “roach problem” in the office.  “Roaches? Who cares? I have an almond joy truffle in my mouth.”

Not gonna lie, it felt really good.  Like Oprah, I was all, “There’s a cake truffle for you, Marcie from accounting! And you, Jim from procurement! And you, Big Bruce from…(well, none of us know what Bruce does) the cubicle by the bathroom.”

 

Cake balls. Delivered.

Cake balls. Delivered.

 

The packaging was super pretty.  Sadie’s going to take the insert into here classroom for show-and-tell.  Not the actual food, but the pretty pictures, so she may not win friends and influence her fellow kindergarteners with that.  Whatever. It’s not about her, it’s about me.

Back to me.

I’m grateful that Shari’s Berries offered to let me pick out some of their products.  These opinions are all my own, but they did send me these treats gratis– they arrived in boxes with fun cooling packs (ala Blue Apron).

I got my 15 minutes of fame and stardom in my little circle.  I’m must saying that if you want yours, you could get your own goodies and head to work.

 

Each bite was MOIST (my coworker said I had to stop saying that or she would stop letting me feed her cake pops) and delish.

Each bite was MOIST (my coworker said I had to stop saying that or she would stop letting me feed her cake pops) and delish.

 

Do you deserve this? Yes you do.

 

Not quite a little blue box, but not too shabby.

Not quite a little blue box, but not too shabby.

This Is Not a Tribute

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This is not a tribute post.

This is not a post about the string of glowy, happy memories we had together.  I have memories, sure, but do you really want to hear about the time I met her at Starbucks after her “bad” oncology visit? We sat outside. She drank one of those Naked fresh fruit juices and nibbled on melon slices. She told me how she rescued her dog and how she survived her childhood. I listened, hoping my presence helped her bear the outrage and indignity of the disease’s intrusion into her body and medical establishment’s constant misspelling of her last name.  “Those motherfuckers.”

Before I could claim her as my own, half my friends had already tagged her.  The stories I heard.  She strong-armed D. into on-line dating by getting her professional portraits and writing her profile.  Naturally, D met her husband in less than two weeks, whereupon she was assisted in planning a Hawaiian destination wedding with the help of none other.  You know who.  She of the Channel bags and the Four Seasons suites.  She played mother-of-the-bride, wedding coordinator, travel agent and matron of honor.

I didn’t know her then.

Not all the stories I heard were Mother Hen cum hero tales.  Some of them–  most?– included phantasmagorical viciousness.  She uninvited D. to her own wedding day-of because she didn’t want any “drama.”  She cut people out of her life, was known to accuse friend’s boyfriends of defrauding investors, and became famous in my circle for a steadfast refusal to take care of anyone’s feelings.

By the time I was face-to-face with her, she’d already been sick for two years.  She liked to joke that the cancer made her a shadow of her former “raging bitch self.”  Honestly, I wanted to see her slicing and dicing (so long as it wasn’t my flesh or vital organs).  I saw glimpses, mostly when she’d rail against the incompetence of the doctors involved in her early diagnosis or her mother’s shitty habit of hanging her every disappointment on her.

I guess when you’re fighting for your life and engaged in such tasks as “managing pain with morphine” there’s not much energy left over to get your bitch on.

This morning the texts were ominous.  We’re going to say our goodbyes.  By this afternoon, they were worse.  Putting her in twilight.  I comforted myself by assuring myself we were hardly more than acquaintances.  I was a blip on the radar of her life.  “She was really more of a friend of a friend,” I told a co-worker this morning as I tried to sort myself out for a day of productivity in the shadow of those texts.

I didn’t think about the time she came with me and Sadie to get a manicure, though I almost blurted out at dinner with my children, “Mommy’s friend– the one from the manicure, remember?– is dying tonight.”  I berated myself for borrowing someone else’s sorrows and claiming them as my own.

I decided it would be my job to console my friends who were closer to her.  Sending supportive texts like “Are you okay?” to shaken friends returning from hospital visits.   I sent one to B. who saw her this afternoon. His response betrayed his panic– run-on sentences, frantic fragments about her skeletal appearance, her joy that he’d come.

“Her cousin asked me if I was the writer,” B. reported.  “It appears she told her family about you.”

Me? B’s wrong. That can’t be right. She must know other writers, right?  I rack my brain.  I have no fucking idea what other writers she knows.  B. thought she was talking about me.

Maybe she was.

Maybe this is a tribute post.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Crying in Public

Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I’m in public when the urge strikes.  I’ve learned a lot from crying out in the big wide world, and because I’m a giver, I made a primer.

crying-at-work-001_0

These are my tips for the fine art of losing your shit in front of strangers.  Pass them along.

1. Do walk a few blocks away from your office. The only thing worse than avoiding strangers who might try to console you on the sidewalk is running into your co-workers who will be full of questions. It will be awkward if you have to lie and say, “Gram’s in hospice” or “I’m pregnant” because you don’t want them to know that the boss who just offered them the corner office by the good copier just offered you a free subscription to Monster.com.

2. Do bring your phone. You don’t have to call anyone. You don’t even need a charged battery. You really just need a phone case. When the urge to keen strikes, hold the phone case up to your ear and wail like it’s the day the music died. Strangers who see you weeping into a cell phone (case) will give you wide berth on the sidewalk. This prop is especially useful for people who like to scream when they cry. It’s much better to scream into your phone (case), “But what’s it all for? I gave them the best years of my life!” than to risk having shop owners trying to eject you from the premises.

3. Do get your brows waxed. This is good for when you’re on the verge of a big cry, but can’t get it out. Head over to a local nail salon. As a non-English-speaking Vietnamese woman named Tammi plucks your brows, the pain will trigger a flood of tears. Tammi will feel terrible, but explain, “It’s not your fault. It’s just that I gave them the best years of my life, and also? You’re tweezing the skin off my forehead.” Later if you have to explain why you are sobbing on the corner of LaSalle and Lake Street, you can point to your eyebrows. “Just got plucked. Hurts like a mother fucker.”

4. Do lean. The best public crying posture is to face a brick building, raise your arms above your head as if you are being frisked by an officer of the law, and let your salty tears drench the dirty city sidewalk. This stance allows you to avoid eye contact and also stretch your deltoids.

5. Do bring Kleenex. Humanity is generally a caring lot. People are going to offer you crumb-dusted tissues pulled from the bottom of their NPR tote bags. Unless you want to blow your nose into a tissue of unknown provenance, you should have your own. If you see someone reaching into her in her bag, or God forbid, into his trouser pocket to hand you a hanky, then wave your travel-size package of tissues and assure them, “I’m good. Thanks.”

6. Don’t compete with panhandlers. If you are public crying in a large urban city, be respectful of the people who are working and living on the streets. Don’t encroach on a homeless person’s turf or the turf of those who are advocating for the poor. This gets tricky during the holidays, a prime season for taking emotions to the streets, because you can’t ever cry in front of Target because SALVATION ARMY.

7. Don’t cry in an Ann Taylor Loft dressing room. You don’t want a twenty-something shop girl stopping by every three seconds to check on you, asking if you want to open an Ann Taylor Loft credit card in order to save extra 10% today. A better retail option for losing your shit is H&M because the music is so loud no one would hear you even if you were bludgeoned to death with a spiked bat.

8. Don’t duck into the foyer of a capital assessment management office building. The security guards tend to be skittish about full-grown women convulsing in spasms of grief. They tend to want to keep the business of mentally falling into shambles far away from the business of making billions of dollars for capital asset managers.

9. Don’t wander over by your therapist’s building, hoping you’ll catch him coming or going. If you “happen” to bump into him, he may charge you for his time, or, if he’s the nervous sort, he may file charges against you. Better to wander anonymously. Perhaps stroll by the local movie house so if you spot someone (say, Tom from accounting who was recently promoted to VP, Business Development), you can tell him you just saw a double feature, Terms of Endearment and Steele Magnolias.

Rosco P. Coltrane and Lessons From The Dukes of Hazzard

Childhood idol: Roscoe P. Coltrane

Childhood idol: Rosco P. Coltrane

 

In the late 70s and early 80s, I watched a lot of TV. Back then, parents were mere mortals (most of them smoking, drinking Tab and generally oblivious to things like seat belts and sun screen), not hovercrafts. It wasn’t easy to find overlapping television interests with my older-by-only-14-months brother. Where I favored Little House on the Prairie and Guiding Light, he liked the Six Million Dollar Man and Sanford & Son.

 

There was but one tiny patch of harmony from 1979-1985, a single show that we both embraced along with our Tang and Chips Ahoy. In The Dukes of Hazzard, we found characters we could both love– those rascally Duke boys and the zany cast of characters who chased, reviled, protected, guided and admired them.

 

Oh the Dukes of Hazzard.

 

There weren’t a lot of women on the show, except of course Daisy Duke, whose shorts eventually inspired a song by 69 Boyz (also of Tootsee Roll fame and indisputable national treasures, I think we can all agree). Dear old Daisy—she had long hair, tan legs, sparkly teeth, and men were always fawning all over her.

 

She wasn’t my favorite, though. She never got to do anything fun, except teeter around on those high heels trying to keep her vagina from falling out of her denim fig leaf. (This reminds me of another Dukes character, Cooter Davenport, who was the local mechanic.) I was nothing if not a budding feminist.

 

My favorite was Rosco P. Coltrane.  Now there was a character. Sure, he was the inept and crooked county sheriff who was buddies with the evil Boss Hogg, but I couldn’t get enough of him. He was better than the Duke boys because his car doors worked.  His dog was cute.  I liked his uniform.  But most of all, I distinctly remember thinking he had the greatest name of any television character I’d ever heard of. (At the time, I thought his name was actually “Rosco Peako Train,” but whatever.) When my brother and I played cops and robbers games down at my grandmother’s farm, I insisted on playing Rosco.

 

Here’s how it broke down: I wanted to marry Bo Duke, played by the fluffy-haired John Schneider; I wanted to be Rosco P. Coltrane; and I wanted Uncle Jesse to be my sage, next-door neighbor. (In a phenomenal twist of fate, the actor who played Uncle Jesse, Denver Pyle, ended up marrying a woman (Tippie Johnston) from a small town in Texas (Forreston) and lived a half mile from my grandmother’s farm.  I have an autographed picture.)

 

Having just seen that the actor who played in the indomitable Rosco P. Coltrane left this earth last week, I’m gripped with an urgent need to memorialize the lessons from Dukes of Hazzard. On the off chance that my children (1) learn to read, (2) find this blog, and (3) do not expire from mortification, I’d like them to know the following:

 

  1. Minor characters are often more interesting than the so-called main protagonists. See Rosco P. Coltrane, Enos Strate, Cooter Davenport, Cletus Hogg. (This is also true of Sanford & Son, whose minor characters include Grady Wilson, Rollo Lawson, Bubba Bexley, et al.)
  2. Always use your middle initial, so you can replicate the greatness of “ROSCO P. COLTRANE.”
  3. Never watch a show that glamorizes the Confederacy, which includes shows that slap the stars and bars on an old beater car that has doors that won’t open.
  4. If you become enamored with a bumble-fuck minor character who has no moral center, I will shuttle you straight to therapy, no matter how cute his hound is.
  5. When you get to therapy, show the good doctor this post as Ex. A, potential white trash roots.
  6. Do not make your name wearing scandalously short shorts because that’s all anyone will remember about you.
  7. Do not launch a country music career after you have made a “chase” show set in a fictional rural town in Kentucky. (Looking at you, John Schneider.)
  8. Don’t bother going back to watch any of the shows from the late 70s or early 80s.
  9. Exception: Go back and watch Sanford & Son.
  10. DO NOT tell Uncle Doug that I ever admitted that Sanford & Son was a seminal show or that Redd Foxx is a fucking genius.
  11. Don’t say “fucking.”
  12. You kids should find something better to do than watch TV.
  13. Don’t call a vagina a “cooter,” even though I was really tempted to do just that above.

 

Corporal Works of Mercy

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Achievement was my first drug, and I was freebasing by second grade. Actually first. Sister Lynn Michelle held the spoon. She favored quizzes, and the lucky pupils who answered all of her questions correctly won a sticker depicting a long-haired Jesus instructing a group of rapt children.

 

I always got a sticker.

 

In Catholic school there was so much to memorize: stations of the cross, beatitudes, Hail Mary, Our Father, the Act of Contrition. I memorized, metabolized, internalized, repeated back.

 

I excelled.

 

My pull was to the mysterious and nothing magnetized me more than the corporal works of mercy.   These ethereal actions sounded poetic, but they were more than words.  They were the underpinnings of good Catholicism, the root system for the sturdy tree on which I was a mere twig.

 

For full credit, you had to list them in order.

 

Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Harbor the harborless

Visit the sick

Ransom the captive

Bury the dead

 

Some of them I didn’t understand.  I wasn’t certain I was allowed to give my clothes away. The one about the harbors was confusing because I didn’t know anyone with a boat. “Visiting the sick” was tricky because I worried about germs.  What if I got sick and had to miss school or Sunday mass?

 

“Ransom the captive” vaguely reminded me of something I once saw on a Pippi Longstocking episode, or maybe it was the Three Stooges who lobbied to get their missing stooge back from a captor. It didn’t seem like something I should do at age six.  I’d wait until I was older. I hoped that was okay with God.  “Bury the dead” also didn’t seem like a job for a kid. We would bury my grandfather the next year and I would stand by the grave site in my monogrammed blue sweater. Would that count? I never touched a shovel.

 

“Feed the hungry” was the easy one.  Give people who didn’t have food the old cans of chili or creamed corn your family no longer wanted.

* * *

This morning on the bus I dreamed up an essay collection about eating disorders. Before I decided that was too over-played, bourgeois, and 90’s, I fleshed it out. The opening essay would be about Mother Theresa, anchored by that quote that feminists adore, which is attributed to Sarah Silverman: “Mother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs—she had shit to do.”

My thesis: We don’t know if Mother Teresa obsessed about her thighs. I got a bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and a J.D., all accompanied by bouts of obsession: my thighs, my breasts, my stomach. I had babies, won court cases, wrote a novel, breastfed, taught classes, and there was always a potent sliver of my consciousness devoted to attacking my corporeality. I couldn’t stop obsessing any more than an asthmatic could start breathing normally.  Achievement and obsession about my body have always co-existed, overlapping circles in a Venn diagram, from a time before I got that first sticker.

 

I don’t know jack shit about feeding my own hunger.  And I have no idea if a struggling family wants my dented can of Wolf brand chili.

 

I can imagine a Mother Teresa afflicted with self-hate so potent that throwing herself into a life devoted to serving those with leprosy, AIDS, and tuberculosis didn’t quell a quiet, secret war she waged against her body.

 

I can. I can imagine it.

 

I’m already bored with this idea.  Except for the title, The Corporal Works of Mercy.  The title I love.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Serial

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Since my 30-day reading ban, I’ve been casting about for ways to entertain myself on public transportation.  I’m all for spiritual enlightenment and walking through the valley of darkness, but riding a city bus without any distraction…no thank you very much.

Enter Serial. You know about Serial right? It’s the podcast spin-off of This American Life that explored the unanswered questions (like, WHO DID IT?) surrounding the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student, Hae Min Lee.  Twelve episodes cover everything from alternative suspects, the character of the ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed who’s imprisoned for life for the murder, the wacky defense lawyer whose shrill questioning of suspects made my ears bleed, the technology of cell phones in 1999, etc..

Riveting stuff.

I was going to quit after two episodes because I’ve done habeas corpus work and I find it ineffably depressing.  Digging into criminal trials post-conviction raises so many more questions than answers and casts such a long shadow over “justice” that my psyche shuts down, compelling me to turn away and pray no one I know or love ever has to face a criminal trial.

Serial was no different.  After roughly 11.5 hours of podcasting, there are only more questions, which is why there are whole internet sites devoted to discussing Jay or the cell phone discrepancies.  It’s probably why this murder was the perfect subject for a podcast.

The highlight for me was the University of Virginia professor, Deirdre Enright. Enright runs the Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law, and she was the only bright light in this whole dismal case.  Her energy, intelligence, and tenacity on behalf of those wrongly convicted infused much-needed hope into an area of law that desperately needs it.  I love people who talk fast, think fast and know their shit.  That’s Enright.  If I would have had her in law school, I’d be living in Virginia right now looking for DNA samples and filing postconviction motions.

Downside: There would be times when I was sitting on the bus, listening to host Sarah Koenig talking to Adnan from prison, and a dirty feeling would come over me.  For me, this was all “entertainment,” albeit of the public radio variety so there was also educational elements, but overall, I was using a tragic story about a murdered high school student as something to keep my misanthropy in check while riding the bus home in a snow storm.  Is there something unseemly about that?  I guess if that’s true, then none of us should be watching Dateline or Frontline or 60 Minutes or the news.  (Does anyone watch any of those programs?)

How about the portrayal of parents on this show?  Was anyone else thinking that maybe it’s a bad idea to be too controlling about who your kids date?  With all due respect to religious customs that prohibit premartial dating or opposite-sex relations, it sure seems like some of the tension swirling about stemmed from the children’s fears of disappointing their parents.  It seems pretty obvious that the second you forbid your child, especially a teenager, from doing something, that something will start to look pretty fucking tempting.  While I’m not saying I’ll fling my kids out into the dating scene with zero boundaries, but I’m going to be very careful before drawing any lines in the sand.  (Easy for me to say, of course.  Ask me in ten years how I feel about one of my kids dating someone who doesn’t read or who didn’t grow up on Costco hotdogs.)

And ohmygod did those kids smoke enough pot?  I couldn’t get over how important pot was to them or how much they smoked.  Maybe because I went to an all-girls high school where we smoked pot only on the weekends.  Well, not me, but the girls who did.  And definitely none of my boyfriends, especially never Kevin, who never smoked pot before his basketball tournaments.  That never happened.

Moving on.

The biggest problem I had from the beginning was with memory.  I have a wicked sharp memory. I remember what you were wearing when I first met you and when you got your hair cut and where we went for your birthday 11 years ago (and that you ordered that crappy cheesecake that we sent back, then the waiter brought us a chocolate box “on the house”).  I bet you I could tell you what I was doing on Wednesday, January 13, 1999.  (I went to my job-ette at a university, then went to Flat Top Grill for dinner with two friends, and spent the night at my boyfriend’s house.  I had a Harry Potter haircut.)  How do these kids not remember anything?  Was it the pot?  Unless you are lying, how do you not know whether you went shopping, or the library, or the mall or to the fucking Best Buy?

My favorite people interviewed were the ones who had no shame about their past derelictions.  The person who was able to describe Best Buy because she used to steal from it.  Loved that.  How about the porn store clerk who worked with Jay?  (Forget what I said earlier about letting my kids date whomever they want: No porn store clerks. Or stars. Definitely no porn stars.)

In addition to feeling bad for Lee’s family and friends and anyone wrongly accused in this saga, I also feel bad for defense attorney, Christina Guitierrez.  She’s dead now and can’t defend herself or her so-called strategic decisions.  And that unfortunate sing-song-y voice.  It makes me cringe and pray that none of my professional orations end up on a podcast downloaded by 5 million people.

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As I scrolled through websites discussing Serial and the murder, there was one other thing.  It was also mentioned by a friend on FB.  All of the producers and creators of the show are white: Sarah Koenig, Julie Snyder, Emily Condon, Dana Chivvas.  And Ira Glass, he’s involved, and he’s pretty white.  The story itself, however, is about people who aren’t. Adnan is the son of Muslim immigrants. Hae Min Lee is the Korean-American daughter of immigrants.   Jay is African-American. Koenig has been taken to task for getting things wrong with respect to the Muslim and Korean-American communities, for flattening the racial implications of Adnan’s conviction and for conflating two separate immigration cultures (Korean and Muslim).

This criticism of white privilege reminds me of an article about Jill Soloway, creator of the Amazon hit Transparent.  In her effort to get her fictional narrative on the transgender experience right, she has 2 full-time transgender consultants and enacted a “transfirmative action program” that favors hiring transgender candidates over nontransgendered ones.  Her cast and crew is upwards of 1/3 trans.   I know it’s public radio, but maybe an extra hour of pledge drive might create a budget to hire consultants to be sure that the nuances of the cultures that are unfamiliar to Koenig et al and her listeners would be a useful investment.  (Also: Everyone should watch Transgender.  10 episodes on Amazon.)

One more thing: Adnan did not take the stand, as criminal defendants are almost always advised not to take the stand because it opens them up for cross-examination which will potentially expose every bad deed the defendant has ever committed.  Then, jurors may conflate something like stealing money from the mosque’s till with first-degree murder.  Better to stay silent is the prevailing wisdom.  Juries are advised by the judge that they should not draw any adverse conclusions from the fact that the defendant opts not to testify.  One of Adnan’s jurors: “Oh sure, we were told it doesn’t mean anything bad if he doesn’t testify, but if he was innocent, why didn’t he get up and tell his story.” She clearly used his lack of testimony against him.  Doesn’t it make you nervous that these bedrock presumptions of our criminal justice system are routinely batted away by jurors?  IT’S SO DISTURBING.  What to know another one: Defendants are innocent until proven guilty.

I have to stop.

So what about you? What did you think? What bugged you? Are you joining the Enright fan club with me?

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on February 6, 2015. 8 Comments