Hola a todos. In case you missed it, the holidays began a little over a month ago on el 3 de octubre de 2017/October 3, 2017. That was the day that The Q (the major television shopping network) rolled out their holiday trees and began decorating their twenty (20) studio sets. A little early, don’t you think? Three months early. Barely out of septiembre/September and their trees were out — all pre-decorated and stored in a large room somewhere I would guess; they just roll them out each year and plug them in — followed by other decorations. And they seem to keep adding more large trees as of this writing. They have two to three large trees per set so that there’s at least one tree (if not two) within camera view at all times, and I’ve seen a Menorah or two in the background of some of the sets. Even though as of this writing it’s not snowing in Pennsylvania where their studios and headquarters are located, one gets the impression it’s a “winter wonderland” there with the images of snow outside the faux-studio windows, most of which are real windows (I think) it’s just that they don’t face outside.
For the month of julio/July 2017, The Q featured holiday decorations for sale. They called it “Christmas in July.” After julio, they continued to sell some holiday lighting and other holiday items at times, and still are. They’ve really been working it. Around the middle of October, I think I heard them say “there’s (either) six or eight weeks before Christmas.” When I heard that in their promo, I thought: Well no, that’s Advent. Christmas doesn’t begin until December 25 and goes for twelve days until January 5. It will be interesting to see if all of their holiday decorations disappears on December 26 (the Second Day of Christmas) or on January 1 (the Eighth Day of Christmas) or somewhere in between.
When San Francisco was a Gay Mecca during the Bohemian Old City days, most people said “Happy Holidays.” But since The City has become quite conservative, the Breeder Mecca as well as utterly conformist and erased of its Bohemian character and charm, I mostly hear “Merry Christmas” from the baby-stroller traditionalist breeders and some Queers/GTQBLs. On The Q, they mostly refer to Christmas, rather than the holidays.
For those who don’t know, the reason some of us use Happy Holidays is because it does not assume that anyone is religious (as in Christmas, which means Christ’s Mass), or of any particular faith or that one celebrates anything. Some people don’t; I don’t celebrate anything at that time of year. I’m one that’s glad when it’s over. I loved it as a child and it was my favourite holiday and I felt depressed when it was over, but as an adult I find it all a bit much, too routine and predictable. And if I don’t hear that “warhorse” Händel’s Messiah again for the umpteenth time I’ll be just fine. “Happy Holidays” is also inclusive of all the holidays around that time of year. There are other holidays other than Navidad. (Related: Not Messiah again?!).
The Stress of the Holidays?
The other night I was listening to one of the programme hosts on The Q. The hosts and guests (representing the item they’re selling) routinely use the word “love” probably hundreds of times a day. They “love” everything they sell — it’s a marketing technique — and one can hear them often say, “I love that you just said that, because…” and their clothing lines are usually described as “so chic, expensive-looking, rich-looking and modern.” They are some of the retail marketing/buzzwords they use. On another occasion, I heard one programme host say, “We’re all dealing with such stress of the holidays during that time.” I thought: Did you hear what you just said? She didn’t question why there is such stress. But how ironic she would say that considering it’s her own network that encourages the stress of the holidays because they are in business to generate sales, especially during the holidays. And until the public says, “Enough of this greed fest. Didn’t we just do this a few months ago? That’s what it feels like” things will continue as they are. In reality, one of the holidays at that time of year, Christmas, has mostly become a secular holiday due to its over commercialisation. It’s become like most other holidays. It’s just a day off for most people. Oh I know that the (what I call) “Christmas and Easter Christians” go through the motions and go to church on Christmas, just because they think they must.
Kim Gravel (pronounced GraVEL, accent on the second syllable) is one of the clothing designers featured on The Q. She’s quite a character. You never know what she’s going to say (such as “Are you on crack?” she asked programme host Shawn one night when Shawn asked Kim if she were a first-time customer of The Q). Kim is probably the most entertaining and down-to-Earth guest they have in their studios. She’s often talking about boobs/”the girls” in reference to her clothing line and how she’s designed her clothes for women. Her message when she starts to “preach” (as she calls it) is that of “Empowering Women.” She also connects some of her stories about her clothing line specifically to her mother who has also been in their studios. In one of Kim’s latest appearances, Jayne Brown, the programme host at the time (and one of my favourites), said, “we’re only 7 minutes into this show and we’re already talking about boobs with Kim.” Kim can be very heteronormative. I wonder if she’s aware of that? For example, she assumes the sexuality of some of the models; she assumes they are breeders/straight when some of them may be la lesbiana. One never knows. Just because someone is a female and single it’s best not assume that someone is “looking for a husband” when one knows nothing about them and their sexuality. Kim Dear: El mundo/The world is not all breeders, even though I’m fully aware that’s the impression that nearly all media try to give. There are lots of Queer people in the world. For example, there are thousands of Queer guys still in the closet and married to females and have children – yes that’s true!. (Related: Going Backwards: More Gay Guys Getting Married To Females). And there are some Queers/GTQBLs working at The Q, and some of them may be models. Kim often has the models in stitches temporarily losing their “model composure” with laughter at something she has just said. I enjoy those segments. Kim will tell one of the models, “Look at Jackie, she’s getting all cocky strutting around here.” Jackie (always humble and modest) laughs. And most of their models seem to be very down to Earth and the nicest of people. Not at all like the snooty-looking models one often sees on moda/fashion runways where they look like lobotomised walking mannequins with no personality at all. Just empty vessels. No, The Q’s models are not like that at all. Two of my favourite models are Jackie and Maday (sp?) and they’re often scheduled together. And to be a model at The Q, one does not have to be anorexic-looking. Their models come in all sizes just like the public that they’re modeling for and selling to. This gives one a much more realistic view of how a clothing item will look on someone regardless of their body size. They all look lovely. The programme hosts also come in a variety of sizes. I think it was Carolyn who was praising The Q’s management, “Anybody can work here; they hired me when I was middle-aged” (I think she said). From what I’ve read, the programme hosts do have extensive training — I think it’s six months if I remember correctly — for being a programme host before being allowed to go on the air. All of their guest receive training as well before going on air to prevent any on-air “meltdowns” (due to nervousness).
Two of my favourite show hosts are “the Black Sistas” (as I affectionally call them): Jayne Brown and Leah Williams. I like their laid-back, sometimes “jive” style…”you go, girls!”). Put Kim Gravel and Jayne Brown together — they were together the other day in fact — and watch the “jive” flow at times. I enjoy listening to Jayne talk; she speaks extremely well. The same for another favourite host of mine: Alberti Popaj. He’s a lovely guy. He’s quite versatile as a programme host. He works with some of the guests brought into their studios that other guy hosts never work with.
I want to go back to Kim: Most recently she’s been pushing this marketing script of “class” and wealth. Does that turn off any viewers other than myself? She also heavily promotes one of the biggest data-mining and spy-machine on the internet: F***b**k. (Related: How F***b**k’s tentacles reach further than you think: “Vladan Joler says that all F***b**k users are effectively working on behalf of the company.”) And no, this is not “loony conspiracy theorists” stuff. It’s factual. Read that article, por favor. The host (egged on by Kim) said something to the effect that if you walk down a street in Manhattan in black and a bronze coloured clothing item, “you scream wealth.” And that’s important? Just a reminder that their studios are nowhere near Manhattan being out in “the wilds of Pennsylvania,” but they are trying to present this elitist, wealthy and bougi Manhattan image. Personally, I’m not at all impressed by wealth or one’s class. The people I hang with are not into wealth, class and are not impressed by such stuff. I’m not impressed by “sitting at the captain’s table” or by “being in the boardroom” which was part of the host’s script in her conversation with Kim. Some of these show hosts do enjoy putting on these airs of trying to impress based on wealth and materialistic stuff. I’ve been in enough corporate boardrooms in the corporate law firms I worked in to know that they are one boring, dull place. They were usually people sitting around a table droning on for hours with these big plans, where most of it never happens. Just a way of wasting time. Frankly, I’d be much more comfortable talking with the janitor than some captain at a table. I know there is a segment of the population who is into class stuff or an upper class mentality, and that is heavily shoved on the public these days with the US and its obsession with the British Royal Family and the every move made by William, Kate — no, she’s not pregnant with twin girls according to Kensington Palace so stop repeating that lie/rumour — Harry et al, as well as this fixation with US celebrity culture. (Related: The British Royal Baby Factory).
I’ve seen Kim paired with several different females hosts and in my opinion she works the best with the Black women hosts (“the sistas”). She seems to have a more natural and special rapport with them, as I would too. Kim has this “down home” jive to her which the Black women hosts more easily relate to. I can relate to that because when I lived in the District of Columbia, which at that time was known as “Chocolate City” because of the majority Black population, most of my female friends were the Black sistas who worked in the downtown offices around Connecticut Avenue and K Streets NW, and we got along real well. Went to lunch together. Some of las chicas looked like models right out of Georgetown, Dahling. But they weren’t like that at all. They were very friendly and down-to-Earth. My type of people. Some of the white female hosts seem to push this “class” and “screaming wealth” script more so than the Black hosts, from what I’ve noticed.
As I said earlier, some hosts and guests on The Q try to give the impression that their studios are near Manhattan. Their headquarters and studios are about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia in West Goshen Township (estimated population as of 2016: 23,000). As I said earlier, the image they’re trying to present is that of Manhattan “which screams wealth.” Of course they don’t say that Manhattan is where the middle class/working class and poor are quickly being pushed out, just like what’s happening in San Francisco (now a playground for the super-wealthy here in what’s known as Billionaire Bay) where the Tech Industrial ComplexTM owns/controls the mayor and his billionaire venture capitalist owner. Kim talked about flying in for her appearance on the network in some clothes they were selling and how she was “bumming around” in New York City in them. I thought: What were you doing in NYC/Manhattan? — assuming you were — when you needed to be in Philadelphia in order to go out to The Q’s studios? Or was that story about NYC/Manhattan pure fiction? She spoke of the 6 women she works with of her clothing line. Was she trying to give the impression they made all the clothes? I wasn’t clear on that. Yet when the camera showed an up-close shot of the Belle label on Kim’s clothes hanging on the rack, it said “Made in China” which, at least to me, doesn’t exactly “scream wealth,” bougi or elitist.
Along that same line, one of their designers who shall remain nameless (one clue: he’s nearly always wearing conservative all-black head-to-toe and looks ready to go to a traditional funeral) tries to give the impression that his line of clothes is similar to the other clothing lines on the network. The “screams wealth” script. But when you listen to him speak he’s often talking in US Pop Culture style using the word “like” over and over and ending his sentences with the word, “right?” as if needing affirmation. For example: “This is chic, right?” I’m thinking to myself: Well don’t you know if it’s chic or not? You designed it! There’s this new silly US Pop Culture fad I’ve noticed recently where people think they must end their sentences with the word “right?” It sounds really stupid. But admittedly, stupid is “in” and fashionable here in the US. Is this designer not aware that he has a clash in styles? My point: His speaking style does not match the “elegance,” “expensive-looking,” “rich-looking,” and “chic” bougi image he’s trying to present with his clothing line. That’s because the wealthier, the bougi, the elite don’t speak in US Pop Culture style. They don’t fill their sentences with the word “like” nor do they end sentences with “right?” That’s something he might want to examine. Does he want his clothing line to appeal to stupid US Pop Culture, or to the Manhattan “it screams wealth” crowd? They are two very different crowds, classes of people.
HANG UP AND DRIVE!!!
Even before the invention of these extremely addictive “smartphones” causing people to be slaves to their phones, there was the mobile phone. Years ago, I used to see bumper stickers around San Francisco that read, HANG UP AND DRIVE!!! Remember that? Other motorists were tired of dealing with distracted and inconsiderate motorists/drivers glued to their phones. I no longer see those bumper stickers now that most people have become completely addicted to (what I call) stupid phones. I call them stupid phones because these phones seem to have made the population more and more stupid and distracted judging by their behaviour, such as walking out into busy traffic without looking either direction and without looking up from one’s phone — an extremely stupid thing to do — where all responsibility is on the motorist not to hit the seemingly brain-dead phone-zombie. As I’m completing this article, I was very sorry to see The Q selling something to cause more and more motorists to become distracted while driving. It’s a magnetic item that attaches to the dashboard to hold one’s precious phone so that one never has to take one’s eyes off their phone screen. The unspoken message: Be a slave to your phone, even while driving! In the demonstration inside The Q’s grey SUV in the studio, the phone was roughly an inch away from the steering wheel. (I’ve also seen them hanging from the rear-view mirror — blocking part of the view — in vehicles in San Francisco). The guest showed the viewer how easy it would be to play with the phone while driving by poking the screen with his finger a few times. This will result in even more distracted drivers on our streets and freeways around the US. I see them in San Francisco. People distracted on their phones and they nearly rear-end other motorists even in slow-go traffic because they’re glued to their phone and not paying attention to where they’re going. That extremely important text message saying, “c u @ bar @ 6p 4 drinks” or “meet 4 sex @ noon” is more important to them than their safety. Or, such as those people who are stuck on their phone while the light turns green and multiple motorists have to try to wake them up out of their phone-zombie daze to try to get them to go, as the light turns yellow. There’s a name for people like that: Los Pendejos. Inconsiderate phone-zombies. That phone is their entire life, and their entire life is on that phone. Not very intelligent to have all of one’s information in one place. I had read some time ago that some states were going to outlaw motorists being on their phones while driving but apparently nothing has happened with that. With the insane drivers I see these days and their recklessness — and I’m mainly talking about the wealthy drivers in their status-symbol vehicles — one’s mind should be completely on driving if one wants to get where they’re going in one piece, and not distracted by a phone or anything else. There is no need for anyone to be on a phone while driving, unless one has an emergency, and even in that case one should pull over if possible. Being on a phone while driving is extremely irresponsible behaviour. But it appears that that’s exactly the type of behaviour that is “in” these days. This dashboard attachment will encourage more phone-zombie addiction. “Oh it won’t happen to me, I won’t get in an accident, I’m special, I won’t hurt or kill anybody such as a pedestrian or a cyclist. I can drive and be on a phone at the same time. I’m really super and good at ‘multi-tasking’.” (roll eyes) That’s what many people in Denial will likely say. I’ve seen many stories about people being killed — either killed themselves and/or others — because they thought they were so good at “multi-tasking” while driving: busy texting, taking a selfie or video recording themselves while driving. Sigh. What The Q should be selling are dashboard attachments that remind the driver to: “HANG UP AND DRIVE!!!” Chau.—el barrio rosa