My dear readers. Please excuse me for seemingly only doing Friday news round-ups these days. School seems to be soaking up all my other big ideas for its own nefarious purposes. By the end of the semester I’ll have written papers about film, artificial intelligence, space gnosis, and everything else you’ve grown to expect from me. But in the meantime, the news-world we live in continues to be fantastically insane.
I’m sure Islam really wants nothing more than to not be in the news for more than a week. It’s an unfortunate function of our violent news press that the only reason anyone in America even knows Islam exists is because they’re either the 9/11 Generation, the gulf war generation, or the Iranian revolution generation. There’s something like 1.5 Billion Muslims in the world I promise you they do more than blow stuff up, but alas. Anyways, at least last week Islam was in the news because we only thought a Muslim was going to blow something up.
This week Islam is in the news because there was a stampede at the Hajj. The Hajj is an Islamic pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, now in and ran by Saudi Arabia. The events of the Hajj last five days, plus however long it takes you to get there. You used to have to walk there, then the Ottoman empire built a train. Now I imagine you fly. Anyways, the Stampede took place at a leg of the Hajj where the pilgrims walk two miles from Mecca to Mina in order to symbolically stone Satan. An estimated 700 were trampled to death, another 900 injured according to figures I probably got from CNN.
The stampede is an horrific event that stands primarily to remind me that humans are, at the end of the day, only mammals. Even as we try and transcend our mammelness and reach towards the divine, our mammelness come even more to the fore. But here, I humbly suggest solutions to the over-congestion of the Hajj. 1. Instead of stoning the devil, get stoned with the devil. Then try and stampede, I dare you. 2. The Disneylandification of the Hajj. How does Disneyland keep people from stampeding? Well first, it charges tickets so there’s that. Secondly it has cast members diligently controlling who gets on each ride and when. At the same time, other cast members are gently shaping lines, making sure there’s rhyme and reason to how the line is shaped and where it’s going. I’m also told the instant something goes wrong at Disneyland a crowd of cast members are on it. Are you throwing up? That’s great, but Walt’s gonna make sure no one sees it. How does Saudi Arabia take this model and apply it to a much larger group of people without sullying this sacred pilgrimage with the mechanisms of capitalism? I have no idea, but as it is, it’s sullied by the accidental deaths of innocent believers.
Last week Lady Gaga was bit by a slow loris. Different from the lorAX, the lorIS is less concerned with protecting the planet and being Danny Devito, and more concerned with being really cute and poisoning you. If this had happened to, say, Condoleeza Rice I would have been really surprised. But it happened to Lady Gaga, so it just seems normal. PSA: Lorises (Lori?) cannot handle captivity, do not keep them as pets.
The Pope is in town and does not conform to your petty partisan politics. Sometimes he thinks capitalism is the root of all evil, and sometimes he thinks women’s proper place is being intuitive in the kitchen. I’ve said it before on my blog, but I really think this Pope is an empty PR Pope. While he doesn’t judge the gays, he just doesn’t lift church sanctions on homosexuality either. He’ll let priests forgive abortion, but it remains a sin. Laudato Si was great, but I’m at a loss as to how he hopes to implement change over his concerns. Anyways, after a quick stop in Cuba, he’s in the US now. For all of his beautiful thoughts on the environment, the death penalty, and the poor, I think his single most transgressive counter-cultural act is that he’s delivering most of his speeches in Spanish. Usually regarded as the language of servants, bad teleneuvos, and swarthy seductresses, Pope Francis is here to champion the language and hopefully by connections, those who speak it.
And finally, Kesha. Kesha was becoming popular just as I was becoming gayer. I remember when I was but a wee 19 year old, still in the closet. She came to perform at NAU, so for giggles my friend Bailey and I waited in line for free floor tickets. Little did I know, that it would ignite a love affair with Kesha and her particular faire of trailer park-chic pop. There was so much glitter, that the next day at Marching band practice I just rolled around in it. To this day, you can still find it on that astroturf if you look hard enough. It was amazing to see someone sincerely have that much fun on stage, especially as I was coming from a tradition of high school band concerts where really no one wants to be there. Along the way I also discovered that besides all of the fun raucous party anthems was an artist with some serious singer-songwriter cred, cred largely overshadowed by the evil Dr. Luke and her insistence that she just write variation upon variation of Tik-Tok. She’s been fighting a legal battle with Luke since her sophomore album Warrior, alleging sexual abuse. That court case is stuck in a limbo so this week she has filed an injunction to get the court process moving. In the meantime, let’s keep Kesha in our cultural consciousness.
OOOMMMMMMM MANI KESHA HUMMM