Washington D.C.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sports-entertainment scholars unafraid to mix it up in the ring

Posted By on Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 1:44 PM

The conference program
  • The conference program
There's never just one thing happening in New Orleans. At the same time WrestleMania week is slowly, multifariously unfolding across the region, beautiful wrestle-blossoms of different sizes and pay scales blooming in every available metro auditorium or high-school gym, the Southern Sociological Society is holding its annual meeting and conference at the Marriott across from WWE Axxess.

This year's conference theme is "Racial Theory, Analysis, and Politics in Trump's America." Digging into the program, I was gratified to discover multiple panels about pro wrestling, one of which I attended Friday morning.

Dr. Jack Karlis of Georgia College opened, detailing his research into how media framed (or failed to cover) the longstanding connections between President Donald Trump and WWE's owners, the McMahon family. I knew Trump and the McMahons were chummy; I hadn't known that Linda and Vince McMahon were the largest single contributor to the Trump Foundation, a gift Karlis estimates to be around $5,000,000.

JH Roberts
  • JH Roberts
Next up, the University of Georgia's J.H. Roberts discussed activism in pro wrestling during the Trump presidency. Usefully, or perhaps crushingly for some, she defined activism as "not just saying things on Twitter, but doing things." Roberts provided a survey of some forms this has taken, both outward-facing (WWE Superstar Sami Zayn bankrolling a mobile medical clinic in Syria, indy star Zack Sabre Jr. donating merchandise profits to a transgender law center) and inward-facing, which is activism focused on improving pro wrestling itself.

The third panelist, Chris Maverick of Duquesne University, talked about models of performative masculinity in leadership, comparing Trump to Lincoln, an accomplished amateur wrestler, and then to various comic book villains and pro-wrestling characters. The highlight, for me, was the connection Maverick drew between Trump's compelling, crowd-pleasing yet contradictory or semantically incoherent rhetoric and the promos of Dusty Rhodes and the Ultimate Warrior.

Perhaps defying assumptions about those that do vs. those that teach, I discovered both Roberts and Maverick are or have been wrestlers themselves. Roberts is actively training as a pro wrestler, and is part of a collective she describes as "a pro wrestling promotion dedicated to exploring within the boundaries of pro wrestling what you can do with feminist and gender performance."

"For example," Roberts told me, "within pro wrestling there's Ultimo Dragon, Dragon Dragon, Super Dragon ... Drago, in Lucha Underground ... but [in our promotion] we have potentially the first-ever female dragon character. In her storylines she addresses things a female dragon would have to deal with that male dragons wouldn't — aspects of reproduction and female bodily autonomy."
Chris Maverick
  • Chris Maverick

Wrestling is brutal. "I'm in pain pretty much all the time," Roberts says of her training. "At the same time, it's nice to do something so purely physical because it lets me turn my brain off. It's also exciting to push myself in new ways and confront things I'm terrified of, like front flips— since if you don't do those you can't wrestle."

Chris Maverick is on the other side, having retired from in-ring competition. "I did it for six years," he told me. "My last match was maybe eight years ago. I wrestled exactly 50 matches in my career and mostly jobbed," meaning he lost to more prominent wrestlers.

Maverick, a lifelong wrestling fan, joined a wrestling school and started training at age 29. His overwhelmingly younger classmates all dreamed of getting to WWE. "My goal was a little different. I said to myself, 'I'm going to wrestle one match, maybe write a paper about it.' There were 15 of us in the class and only three of us finished because it was so grueling." Maverick's wrestling career did include a stint as a tag-team champ in a West Virginia promotion; it so happened I'd just seen his erstwhile tag-team partner, DJ Z, wrestle at Evolve 102 the night before.

"I wasn't great," Maverick said. "I was older and had bad knees when I started, so I knew my time was limited. I dislocated my shoulder four times... it's hard. It's a very rough sport."

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Editorial: The real 'fake news' is Sinclair Broadcast Group

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 7:38 PM


By now you’ve probably seen the video of dozens of local news anchors around the country robotically reciting the same canned script warning viewers against “fake news.” The script was a diktat from the stations’ owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair owns and/or operates nearly 200 local TV stations around the country, including affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, Telemundo and Univision. Soon, it likely will control even more.

Under President Donald Trump, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has loosened ownership laws that historically barred media companies from gaining monopolies in the markets they serve. Now, Sinclair is proposing a merger with Tribune Media, which would give it control of 233 local stations, according to a letter sent last month by U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas to the U.S. Department of Justice. The merger would give Sinclair even greater reach in new markets, including New Orleans, whose WGNO-TV (ABC) and WNOL-TV (CW) would become Sinclair stations.

Sinclair chairman David Smith has made his contempt for print journalism clear, telling New York magazine recently, “The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away. Just no credibility.”

OK. Let’s talk “credibility.”

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Editorial: Listen to the survivors

Posted By on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 2:41 PM

This demonstration was organized by Teens For Gun Reform, an organization created by students in the Washington DC area, in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. - PHOTO BY LORIE SHAULL/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • This demonstration was organized by Teens For Gun Reform, an organization created by students in the Washington DC area, in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The murder of 17 people during a school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14 has renewed America’s national debate over gun laws. After similar tragedies in recent years, that debate yielded nothing of substance, but this time things are different. This time, the surviving students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are giving us all a lesson in speaking truth to power. This is not a new phenomenon. Students also helped lead the civil rights movement several generations ago.

Let’s not lose this moment, because the forces behind the status quo are powerful, indeed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the National Rifle Association (NRA), which aggressively promotes the interests of gun manufacturers, spent $54.4 million on all political campaigns in the 2016 election cycle. That more than anything else explains why past mass shootings have not led to meaningful changes in America’s gun laws.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mayor Landrieu cancels meeting with White House after latest 'sanctuary' warnings

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 2:24 PM

  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Following another round of pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice on so-called “sanctuary” cities, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and mayors from cities across the U.S. have pulled out of an infrastructure meeting with the White House scheduled for Jan. 24.

In a statement as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Landrieu said President Donald Trump’s “decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again — and use cities as political props in the process — has made this meeting untenable.”

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors is proud to be a bipartisan organization,” Landrieu said in the statement. “But an attack on mayors who lead welcoming cities is an attack on everyone in our conference.”

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

WATCH: Cedric Richmond introduces resolution to censure Trump over 'shithole' characterization

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 4:42 PM

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.
  • U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, today introduced a resolution to censure President Donald Trump over Trump's widely reported remarks calling Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African countries as "shithole nations."

According to POLITICO, Richmond took special exception to House Majority Leader Paul Ryan's statement that the wording was "unfortunate":
“It’s unfortunate when I miss my bus. Or it’s unfortunate when the airlines lose my luggage,” he said. “But when the president of the United States decides to call Africa, Haiti and El Salvador the words he used, that’s not unfortunate. That is wrong. That is disgusting. That is hurtful. There are a number of words for it, but unfortunate’s not one of them.”
Ryan and House Republicans can block a vote on the resolution.


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Friday, January 12, 2018

Who's being protected by bowdlerizing Trump's 'shithole' comment?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 4:57 PM

No, the republic did not crumble when CNN actually quoted the President of the United States without dashes, asterisks or euphemisms.
  • No, the republic did not crumble when CNN actually quoted the President of the United States without dashes, asterisks or euphemisms.

The news that President Donald Trump had called El Salvador, Haiti and the continent of Africa "shitholes" in a meeting with legislators created a lot of migraines for the D.C. GOP, but it also seemed to induce headaches inside newsrooms. Do you print what the president said in a headline? How about in the body of a story?

The Associated Press stylebook (which Gambit and many other newspapers use as a baseline standard) is clear on the subject:
obscenities, profanities, vulgarities: Do not use them in stories unless they are part of direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them.
Trump's use of the word fulfills both criteria — so Gambit used it in an online headline, as did The New Orleans Advocate (though it later was changed to "s—-hole," the same choice made by NOLA.com). The Washington Post, which originally reported the story, had no problem with the word (though it didn't use it in today's print headline):
“When the president says it, we’ll use it verbatim,” says Post Executive Editor Marty Baron. “That’s our policy. We discussed it, quickly, but there was no debate.”

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

12 Clancy DuBos 'Politics' columns of 2017

Posted By on Sun, Dec 31, 2017 at 12:00 PM

In our annual Year in Review issue, Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos always composes his Top 10 political stories of the year. Here are 12 of his "Politics" columns from 2017.

• Counting coup, for now: DA Leon Cannizzaro and Mayor Mitch Landrieu exchange barbs over funding and crime

• All-out war in Jefferson Parish: Mike Yenni and Chris Roberts have accused each other of being unfit for office

• The target is truth itself: A National World War II exhibit on Nazi propaganda resonates today

• Our monumental challenge: Coming to grips with the past as the city takes down its monuments to the Confederacy

• Disarm all abusers: House Bill 223 prevents domestic abusers from possessing guns

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29 of the year's Gambit cover stories you may have missed

Posted By on Sun, Dec 31, 2017 at 9:00 AM

It's been a rough year for some alt-weeklies (as well as daily papers and news websites), but what continues to work for us — and seems to work for you — is locally written and produced stories about our city, potholes and all.

We get it. You're busy. But we've been busy too. Here are 29 of the cover stories from 2017 in the five areas in which we specialize: news, politics, city life, food and the arts. Maybe you missed a couple.

• The year in drugs: What lies ahead in drug policy for the U.S., and for Louisiana
• New Orleans protests: Inauguration Day marches, the Women's March and more
• Home sick — the rental registry: New Orleans housing stock in need of repair
• A-breasted development: How New Orleans tattoo artists help breast cancer survivors
• A blueprint for murder reduction: Criminologist Jeff Asher on the crime rate
• Beyond the wall: Local immigrants face an uncertain future under the Trump administration
• Young lives behind bars: Louisiana considers abolishing life without parole for some juvenile offenders
• The facts of life: The sorry state of sex education in Louisiana
• The Landrieu legacy on crime: What the mayor got right — and wrong
• Project Censored: The 10 most under-covered stories of the year
• Breaking the (hurricane) scale: After a destructive hurricane season, is the 1-to-5 Saffir-Simpson scale outdated?
• Shift change: How New Orleans hospitality workers are organizing their industry

Continue reading »

Thursday, December 28, 2017

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins posts a photo of United Nations headquarters with the Trump logo on it

Posted By on Thu, Dec 28, 2017 at 6:29 PM


President Donald Trump has been expressing his continued displeasure with the United Nations — and he's now got a Louisiana ally in his corner. U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, who represents Louisiana's 3rd District, made a Facebook post with a photo of the U.N. building in New York City ... with a Photoshopped TRUMP logo on the top.

“Damn straight, lets give this prime piece of American real estate to someone who actually loves America. Get the U.S. out of the U.N., and the U.N. out of the U.S.
The U.N. is filled with nations that hate us and yet we give them billions of American dollars. As far as I’m concerned.. they can hate us for free.
Meanwhile, the Chinese have been building islands in the Pacific. That’s a great spot for the left to hang out with their U.N. Comrades.”
Captain Clay Higgins
It's nothing new for Higgins; his campaign website expresses his belief that the United Nations has grown "too big for their britches" and, once again, refers to its New York location in terms of real estate value:

The UN has grown too powerful. Our sovereignty as a nation is constantly compromised, again and again, through UN operations. I’m not a supporter of disbanding the United Nations. I think it is good to have a designated arena for diplomatic endeavors and meetings. However, I would support measures to greatly scale back funding for and participation in UN operations. They’ve grown too big for their britches over there, and they’re sitting on super prime US real estate.
Higgins is no stranger to the social media limelight; he was forced to apologize in July after he recorded a five-minute quasi-political YouTube video inside a gas chamber at Poland's Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Editorial: Saving 'net neutrality' — what you can do

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 4:39 PM

A Sept. 2017 rally in San Francisco to preserve net neutrality. - CREATIVE COMMONS/CREDO ACTION
  • A Sept. 2017 rally in San Francisco to preserve net neutrality.

Next week, the U.S. government seems poised to roll back the Open Internet Order, a 2015 policy approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of a strategy to ensure what is broadly called “net neutrality.” Net neutrality requires internet service providers (ISPs) to be “neutral” pipelines, neither favoring one site over another nor getting in the way of what consumers want to see. They are not allowed, for instance, to create fast and slow loading speeds for particular websites, nor block any websites in general. Without net neutrality, an ISP could favor its own search engine or news page (Verizon, for instance, owns Yahoo, and may prefer you use Yahoo over Google, or Yahoo News over The New York Times).

Simply put, net neutrality is good public policy.

Without net neutrality, surfing the internet could become a lot like paying for cable TV. In ISP might decide to section off groups of popular websites and charge extra prices for that bundle, similar to the way cable TV companies bundle premium channels. It could also work in reverse, with an ISP demanding that streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu pay extra to prioritize their streaming traffic. ISPs would have to disclose this information, but with ISP monopolies operating in many areas of the country, it still would leave consumers little choice.

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