For the last month I've had to listen to nothing but Christmas music for 8 hours every weekday at my day job. This has done little but remind me that Christmas is in fact the worst.
I've lectured at length via social media about how Christmas celebrants need to recognize their holiday, and its titular deity, are in fact not the reason for the season. The New Testament itself tells us that "The Festival of Dedication then took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon's portico" in John 10:22-23. That means Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, a seasonal holiday that existed prior to his birth.
Nope, Jews didn't "invent" Hanukkah to compete with Christmas. It had a long history prior to that whole manger scene. Then there are old favorites like Saturnalia, the Winter Solstice, Yule, Diwali, and even Ramadan, which are celebrated during the Fall/Winter season. But if you celebrate one of these instead of Christmas you're basically a second class citizen as far as Christians are concerned. As soon as Thanksgiving is over America will turn into a veritable Santa Land. People will wish you a Merry Christmas whether you like or not. Christmas carols will assault you from every direction. As a Jew I find this, considering all the talk of the "King of Israel" and shout outs to various Judean landmarks going on in these songs, particularly frustrating.
This is Christian privilege (a very special, and very old, brand of White Privilege), plain and simple. It's not bad enough that you appropriated my culture, history, and literature to put together your shit-show of a faith? Now you've got to rub it my face by not allowing me to live in peace and pass my season as I see fit without shoving Christmas down my fucking throat? Fuck that, Kirk Cameron!
Which isn't to say that I haven't grown to appreciate certain seasonal elements of this, most goyish of holidays. Yes, there are actually a handful of things I like about Christmas.
Like what, you ask?
Like this guy!
How could I not love a goddamn stop-motion snow-monster?!?! The Bumble, also known as the Abominable Snow Monster, from the 1964 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' animated TV special has and always will be one of my favorite creatures of all time!
And this song!
Seriously, Vince Gauraldi's "Christmas Time is Here" may be one of the finest instrumental Jazz recordings of all time. And its use as the "sad music" on 'Arrested Development' has lent it an entirely non-Christmas association for me.
This song too!
When else am I going to hear this Hip-Hop classic courtesy of the Kings from Queens RUN-DMC, but at Christmas? One year I worked at Old Navy during the holidays and "Christmas in Hollis" was my only saving grace on their never-ending loop of terrible Christmas music. Saved my life it did!
Displays like this as well!
We really need to appropriate these fuckers for our own purposes more often. There was a house around the corner from me a few years back that had a giant light-up Disco cross a-la French Electro duo Justice's logo. They are forever to be referred to as "the Justice house". Can I get a crazy light-up Baphomet or something?
And finally, this brand new Christmas special!
When an e-mail hit my inbox a few short days before Christmas that my favorite new animated personality, BoJack Horseman, would be starring in his very own Christmas Special via the Netflix content streaming service I was elated! I immediately went home and watched the show, which is presented as a holiday episode of Bojack's '90s sitcom 'Horsin' Around', and laughed my face off at the inappropriateness!
Yesterday I received the sad news that Rich Nichols, longtime manager of The Roots, impresario of the Okayplayer media empire, and mentor/friend to a whole Noah's Ark of Hip-Hop, Soul, and Alternative acts, had passed away. As you may know, I was a part of the Okayplayer family for a handful of years, contributing content and assisting in my own way with the cultural makeover of the website which culminated in the Okayplayer group of sites as they exist today. That time was special to me for a lot of reasons, and Rich was instrumental in my taking part, so the news of his passing was like a gut punch.
In all seriousness, and without hyperbole, I can honestly say my three-ish years writing the Blogarhythms column for Okayplayer were some of the best times of my entire life, and I wouldn't have been there if it weren't for Mr. Nichols. When I, to my utter surprise, was asked to come on board at Okayplayer, I was told it was at the behest of the boss, Rich Nichols himself, who I was told was very familiar with my work as an amateur writer and wanted to bring me into the Okayplayer fold. Not only was this shocking and extremely flattering to hear, but it was life altering in a lot of ways. Here I was, formerly homeless, flat broke, spinning records on local community radio, and slinging syllables on the internets, being offered the opportunity to do what I loved, break new artists and tell people about music I dug, to a new and much larger audience, and to make a couple of bucks doing it! And I had Rich to thank.
Over the next few years I got to tell the Okayplayer audience about projects that I thought deserved their attention. And they paid attention! I saw first hand how plastering some of these largely unknown artists' faces on the Okayplayer front page impacted them, opened more ears to their music, and improved their sales. I was so grateful to be doing something that brought me joy, while also providing a helping hand to musicians who I believed in. And yes, it paid my rent too. On the real, while I've made a lot more money at "straight" jobs over the years, I've never felt as fulfilled by the money I was making and what I was able to do with it in my day to day life as when I was putting checks with Rich Nichols' signature on them in my bank account. They may not have always arrived on time, but when they did I felt like they meant something. Something more than a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my stomach. All that too! But it meant so much more. And I have Mr. Nichols to thank, both for that feeling, and for the memory.
And that's why I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me when I got the news that he was gone. I know his passing will be a huge loss for The Roots, and the Okayplayer organization, but receiving that text informing me that he'd departed this plane of existence made me feel like I'd lost something myself. He wasn't my mentor. We didn't chat or text. We may not have hung out, partied together, or had some kind of "industry" friendship. But Rich Nichols changed my life in a real, tangible way. He changed my life for the better. And all I can do is thank him for that.
So "thank you, Rich" and peace.
Thas mah gurl.
Lady Parts Justice
I feel like the last few years have seen certain sectors of our nation not just take a step backwards, but actually move several decades backwards.
I wish I knew what to do to stem the tide of this seeming regression and bring us all back to "good ol'" 2013.
But I don't.
And that makes me pretty fucking sad.
That's all I got right now.