Flashbacks: May 19, 2006

By EDITORIAL  |  May 17, 2006

“It would take more than blood and fire, crudely dispensed by agents of what Peter Tosh calls the ‘politrickal shitstem,’ to fell Robert Nesta Marley. Surely, the roots prophet and duppy conqueror, who had beaten down poverty, conniving record producers, the resistance of the West to Third World music, and the grousing of Rastafarian brethern who believed that Brother Bob was a little too willing to play Babylon’s Pet Dread, would not get beaten down himself by a few treacherous cells.”

Dressing the part | 30 years ago | May 18, 1976 | Dianne Dumanoski reflected on Deborah Heller Feinbloom’s fascinating new book, Transvestites and Transsexuals: Mixed Views.
“The strength of Feinbloom’s effort is its honesty, intelligence and, most of all, modesty. This is not a tract or a simplistic theory, but an ‘essay’ in Montaigne’s sense, an exploration not only of the behavior and feelings of transvestites and transsexuals, but also of questions facing many of us as stereotypical roles are challenged. What are the differences between maleness and femaleness, and where do they come from? What do the clothes we wear symbolize? Why is it considered bizarre for a man to wear a dress while a woman can wear pants without inviting comment?

“Many of our assumptions about sex and gender are so deeply rooted that it takes an extreme situation (like transvestism or transsexualism) to bring them to light. For instance, at a meeting for transsexuals, their friends and families, where it was often unclear who was what, Feinbloom discovered that making conversation was extremely difficult when the sexual identity of the other person was uncertain. Likewise, Feinbloom relates, parents accept congenital birth defects and retardation more easily than sexual ambiguity. (Babies are born who are not clearly male or female.)”

Wealth of information | 35 years ago | May 18, 1971 | Jane Goldberg thumbed through the People’s Yellow Pages, a socially conscious alternative to the old standard.
“These People’s Pages are so full of good feelings and places and people (that aren’t rip-offs) and recipes, and poetry and anti-profit, life-giving sources of information, you’ll probably want to spend a whole week just sitting by the telephone and talking to all the people that are listed.

“Why, I’ve already learned to cook French food, fix a car, compute a computer, make yogurt and crunchy granola, brew beer, fix my bike, make a shelf (a listing under ‘Carpentry for Women’), speak Chinese, crochet, and perform T’ai Chi Ch’un — all for practically nothing. And I’ve only had the People’s Pages a month....

“The People’s Pages began last November when hawkers on the streets ... started passing out ‘People’s Yellow Pages’ forms.

“On them you were asked ‘what service would you like to provide for the community?’ ‘How much, if anything, would you have to charge for your service?’ (many replied, ‘Just enough to survive’), ‘Is this, or would you like it to be the way you make your living?’ And finally, ‘How would your service be an alternative to the established system?’ You didn’t really have to make a long career outline or anything like that. The Vocations for Social Change people, whose immediate goal is to liberate Cambridge, could often tell just by phoning people and checking into places and groups, whether the request was solely to perpetuate the profit system, even in a hip way, rather than an attempt at providing an alternative to that system.”

Where are they now?
Michael Endelman is a critic for Entertainment Weekly. Ellen Barry writes for the LA Times. Owen Gleiberman is film critic for Entertainment Weekly. Dianne Dumanoski is a former environmental writer for the Boston Globe and a co-author of Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? — A Scientific Detective Story.

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