September 1, 2012

On Voting, Sex, and that Staten Island Summer

Dear Reader,

As I type this the summer is coming to a traditionally marked close: Labor Day Weekend. What started as an American holiday to celebrate the hard working contributions of the American workforce has grown to mean barbecues and that last, official "summer" swim. If you are living on the island of 
Staten, there are several things you can do this weekend to ring in the autumn, which is still a few weeks away but always unofficially starts with the beginning of the school year.

The first thing you can do is visit the Richmond County Fair! Having spent many years visiting the county fair in all different social contexts, I think this year is going to be a good one. There will be the traditional contests: hula hooping, potato sacking, and pie eating; you'll see the adorable farm animals and zoo animals sure to intrigue children and adults alike; there will be staples from the Decker's farmers market; and many demonstrations and workshops from the Historic Richmond Town staff and volunteers--- workshops in tin-making and other staples of early American life are dispersed throughout the museum grounds. There's also a lovely bookshop tucked away inside the old borough hall building that features naturalist and historical literature about and by Staten Islanders.

Isn't it fascinating to ponder how several hundred years ago, Richmond Town-- nestled in the middle of Staten Island, used to be the social/economical/and legal capital of Staten Island. Trading boats used to creep up the streams to do business there. Super cool, in my opinion! 

Anyway, get that pumpkin cider and come on down to the Richmond County Fair! This year there will be no pig races, they've been replaced with little Dachshunds, aptly called "wiener dogs". They will be racing. Let the best dog win?

In other news, tonight is a grand event at the Coyle Cavern, a gallery space in St. George founded and curated by Brendan Coyle. Tonight's event is an end-of-summer party that will feature visual art installations by several Staten Island and NYC-based artists and live music by local bands. Coyle Cavern is located at 194 Bay Street, so that is super convenient for you ferry goers and those taking the SIR. The doors open at 7pm and music begins closer to 730/8pm. 

There's a lot of activity from the band/bar circuit as well. I think you would be hard-pressed not to find something that appeals to your tastes this weekend. Go out and find something to do and, as always, support your local small-business owners!

On Sex
I have been reading a recently published book, Sex at Dawn (2010) by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. Mostly a book that attempts to debunk the "mainstream" narrative that humans are inherently monogamous primates that participate in longterm pair-bonding mating systems, the authors take us through an abbreviated history of 20th century primatology, evolutionary psychology, and the many platforms of anthropology. Mostly, so far, this book has piqued my interest in the history of sexual (and societal) suppression of females. There are a lot of counter-arguments for the "humans are naturally promiscuous" theory, but I think many of them are rooted in antiquated theories. I will be exploring more of this and giving more fleshed out thoughts when I have had time to digest what I am reading about. 

To put it simply, I do not believe we are naturally monogamous creatures. We are a species that loves  sex (albeit, we attempt to put conditional stigmas upon this love). We are a species that, after the advent of the agricultural and later industrial "revolutions", shifted into much different socio-cultural atmospheres than our hunter-gathering, foraging ancestors who (in my opinion) really loved good sex-- using it as a way to distill any brewing social incongruence as well as to support competition in male sperm. 

If you are interested (and I know you are), in why we mate with whom we mate, why we feel the pious martyrdom to commit solely to one person and deny the carnal urges to be with more than one person, if you are confused or curious about some of the alternate socio-sexual lifestyles that persist in different cultures around the globe, I would recommend reading this book. Also, Michel Foucault's History of Sexuality, which I have not read yet but it has been highly recommended by a dear colleague. 

Go read this book: Sex at Dawn 

There's an election this year?
Are you stressed out from watching the Republican National Convention? Are you perplexed by the simple and greedy mindlessness of the current day politician? Are you finding feelings of apathy and existential loneliness unfurling with this impending election?

Me too.

This is why, dear reader, I implore you to watch every debate, every speech; read about every issue and perspective you possibly can to formulate your own educated opinions and thoughts. You will know what you're talking about because you will have looked at the many angles. You will understand why you are casting a vote for one candidate over the other. And trust me, considering the issues floating around in this election (the health and control over women's bodies; health-care repeals, reforms and other r's; the still downtrodden economy; the hysterical fear that we can shift into apocalyptic doom at any given moment), you are going to want to make an informed, educated vote.

It is hard, with the over saturation of media, to stay focused. However, you will feel the rush of empowerment that crisp, autumn day this November when you go to your local voting center and step into that enclosed booth. Also, don't just think of politics on the national level. It starts in your community. Who are your local constituents? What are the issues surrounding your home-base and what are the candidates claiming they will do? Get to know your community and how you can make a difference through volunteering your time and efforts at local town-hall meetings, community watch-groups, and advocating for your local small-businesses.

And whatever you do:

vote! and vote ny!
Voter registration deadline in New York City is October 12!! That is a little over a month from today so make sure you're registered!!

Have a great, safe, and happy weekend with friends. Enjoy the winding down of summer.  I cannot wait for autumn!


Disclaimer: I realize this blog seems very pushy (Read this book! Vote in this election! Go to this fair!.... but if you think about it, you're smart and you will want to do these things because they will make you better informed. :) 

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