Dear Huffington Post, Let’s Talk About Iowa

September 3rd, 2013

Hello from the cornfields of Iowa

“I’m happy wherever I go, whatever I do. I’m happy in Iowa, I’m happy here in California.”  Ashton Kutcher  (Some of us are happy here too, Ashton”).  Have you noticed he seems like kind of a nice guy?  Not surprised.

Dear Huffington Post,

I really like your site.  In fact, sometimes I even write for your site.  But, the other day I ran across a piece from your site on Twitter about a quest for style in Iowa.  Apparently, this was such a strange notion that the Onion had to do their own version, which was pretty good, and in some cases, pretty accurate.  http://www.theonion.com/articles/iowa-fashion-week-begins,31579.

I’m glad you visited, though.  I actually liked the video piece, full of charm and good characters, but your written piece left out some of that charm.  So, readers all  over the U.S. were left with just these photos as a representation of all of us here in the fields of dreams….  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/iowa-fashion-style_n_3831853.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

So, with your permission, (can I have permission?) I’ll use your photos but add a couple of my own.

Here’s your picture of where we shop….

You really should have shown Walmart. We have some good ones here.  Photo courtesy Huffington Post.

But sometimes I shop in places that aren’t in malls, with, like, cool brick walls and everything…

Like this place…called Studio 427, not in mall.  Courtesy Studio 427, Sioux City

or this place

Indigo Palette, also in Sioux City, Iowa.  Here, I’ll prove to you that this isn’t in a mall….

Not a mall.  So, there’s only two or three places that aren’t a mall, I still thought I’d show them to you.

Then we proceeded to the type of hair salon, we all frequent, from your story…

You kind of picture Aunt Bea here, don’t you? Photc courtesy Huffington Post.

Here’s my hair salon, if you’d like to add this to your follow up story…

This doesn’t suck too bad. Bliss salon, Sioux City. Not in mall. Have you noticed I’m trying to get you to come to Sioux City?  Photo courtesy Bliss Salon

Not done yet, but neither were you, so we’ll move onto the clothing styles, particularly our choice of denim… Here’s yours..

Here’s your Iowa denim fashion statement. I actually kind of like overalls, and they work on this guy. Photo courtesy Huffington Post again.  I would imagine that probably only about .001 percent of us wear these but thank you anyway…

 

I found one just about like this…so you were darn close here… Photo courtesy Huffington Post again

Ok, a bit different, but not bad…. Photo courtesy La Ventura and the Weekender, yes, Sioux City again.

Two young Sioux City kids wishing they had overalls… I think I’ll find them and buy them some. Photo courtesy La Ventura and The Weekender.

Here’s another jeans picture from Iowa, taken of my husband during a protest.

Oh, shit, are these dad jeans?

But wait there’s more….

I loved your beard picture of the guy that lived in Paris and moved back to Iowa.  I can’t find a damn thing even close in Sioux City, so you win big here….

This beard is awesome, great job. Photo courtesy Huffington Post again.  You guys are great and so is this beard..

Nothing remotely like it that I could find in Sioux City, so here’s two guys I know, with rather short beards.

Here’s two friends who apparently need to work on their beard length if they want to be a bit freakier than they are. Photo courtesy Garie Lewis and Mike Langley.

I do get it, though.  It’s easy to pigeonhole Iowa.   I was the executive producer of a documentary called “Bully”, partially filmed here in my home town.  My friend, Lee Hirsch, who I love, didn’t show much of Iowa.  In fact, Sioux City looked like one bus, one train track, and a school.    Here’s a shot…

Sioux City in “Bully”, footage courtesy of Lee Hirsch, and I think the Weinstein Company too. Thank you, Mr. Weinstein and thank you for buying our film too. 🙂  Will you please buy my next documentary? Call me….

Heck, we’ve got bridges and everything here in Sioux City, and cars too….

Sometimes, half the town gets together for a big party close to the fourth of July.  There’s usually about 30,000 of us and some good bands too, so I am inviting you to visit and get kind of a cross section of types, because, you’ll get the general idea that we are a bit more nuanced here in the heartland than people think.

Here’s the party….

Gosh, we can fit about half the town here…. and just the denim fashions alone will give you much to work with.  Photo above and below courtesy Saturday in the Park.

These folks aren’t from here, but we let people like this play here and no one has to pay to get in. So, join us next year, ok?  I like Melissa’s jeans.

I’ll close by saying that we come in all shapes and sizes here in flyover America, so do come visit again, particularly in Sioux City. We need you. Poor Sioux City is doubly not blessed by not only being in a flyover state, but for having the unfortunately airport designation SUX.  I’m not making that up.  So, on your purchase of a ticket from whatever coast on our one and only airline, you can see it yourself.  And, you’ll get a free gift basket, with items such as this…

All SUX photos courtesy Sioux City gifts….

and my personal favorite…

 

So, come visit and be nice, or as Glinda once said,  be gone, before I drop a Walmart on you. 🙂

Most Sincerely Yours,

Cindy Waitt

This is me and my family.  When we’re in California, we wear dark glasses, so we can pretend we are cool too.

 

And finally, can I still write for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Will History Judge the Anti-Gay Rights Movement?

August 12th, 2013

This was happening when I was in elementary school.

At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”  George Clooney

And this is still happening now….

Do you ever watch a documentary on the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s and cringe when it comes to scenes of furious white people hurling stones, taunting, and overall verbally and physically assaulting movement activists? In 2013, it seems ludicrous, shameful, and yes, embarrassing.  If you haven’t, do it.  And go ahead, cringe.  We should.

If footage from then seems like coverage of the Dark Ages, consider this.  If you are over 50, that outward display of hatred was happening in your lifetime.

Today’s children routinely study atrocities like the Holocaust, the Salem Witch trials, and the treatment of African Americans and Native Americans, as well as women, in our country. If they aren’t studying them, they should be, and often.   It’s simply history now, that discipline that takes us back to another time while we see the actions and decisions of our ancestors from modern sensibilities.    The behaviors seem almost insane from our point of view today, particular the behaviors of people living in our lifetime, in our country, and perhaps in our own cities.

Jump forward 50 years to 2013 to the marriage equality movement and the overall movement that started out of a bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York in 1969.  We’ve come a long way.  Just a few headlines from this year:

Supreme Court DOMA Decision Rules Federal Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

THE END OF “EX-GAY’ CONVERSION THERAPY.

Poll: Support for gay marriage hits high after ruling

As my friend and colleague Jackson Katz said years ago, “That train has left the station”.  And it has.  But, as a person who’s been involved in some movements, I know that for every push, there’s a “push back”. And oh, what a push back.

Let’s just take my beloved hometown, Sioux City, Iowa.  I sing it’s praises all the time, but not on this one.  In fact, Sioux City has a rather disturbing history of “the push back”.  Here’s a few highlights and a few stars of the anti equality bunch that our own children and grandchildren may be reading about 50 years from now…or sooner.

1950’s, Sioux City, Iowa:  As Neil Miller writes about in his classic “Sex Crime Panic”, described here.   “Following the brutal murders of two children in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1954, police, in an attempt to quell public hysteria, arrested 20 men whom the authorities never claimed had anything to do with the crimes. Labeled as sexual psychopaths under an Iowa law that lumped homosexuals together with child molesters and murderers, the men were sentenced to a mental institution until cured.”  If I wasn’t there in the mid 50’s, I was on the way…

2004, Sioux City, Iowa, from The Advocate    “The Sioux City, Iowa, city council has rejected a proposal to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation. The council voted 4-1 Monday against adding gays and lesbians to the current city law, which makes it illegal to discriminate against people in jobs, accommodations, and housing on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, religion, ancestry or disability.The Human Rights Commission asked the council to add sexual orientation to that group of protected classes. Mayor Dave Ferris and Councilmen Marty Dougherty and Jason Geary said they voted against the measure based on their religious beliefs involving homosexuals. Councilman Craig Berenstein said he voted no because he wanted more time to study the proposal.Councilwoman Karen Forneris cast the only vote in favor of adding sexual orientation to the law. Five Iowa cities have included sexual orientation in their ordinances—Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines and Iowa City.  That time I was there.  A group of us stood outside city hall to protest that one.  I should have done the same in the mid 1990’s when a religious group objected to my having an LGBT section in my store.  A new council finally went along with adding sexual orientation in 2008, as the state of Iowa had already added it.

2010,  Sioux City’s own Pastor Cary Gordon and the Cornerstone World Outreach  were leaders in the efflort to have Iowans oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices whose ruling was part of a 7-0 unanimous vote that legalized same sex marriage in the state of Iowa.  The three justices were ousted, but later received the “Profiles in Courage” awards from the Kennedy Center in 2012.

2011,  Sioux City’s own, Bob Vander Plaats and The Family Leader gained national recognition for its pledge, “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY”, which it asked 2012 presidential hopefuls to sign. Vander Plaats himself also gained recognition, being referred to in one news post as a “kingmaker.”

I hope as our descendants study the history of our nation, as well as our own home town, some of these things will be looked at with new eyes and looked at hard.  My sense is that the cringe factor is and will be strong, as it should.  Just recently there has been a controversy concerning the appointment of a gay man, Scott Raasch, to the Sioux City Human Rights Commission, following the uncovering of some unpleasant comments Raasch made to anti gay rights Pastor Cary Gordon three years ago.  Gordon has asked for Raasch’s removal.  http://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/cornerstone-pastor-calls-for-new-sioux-city-human-rights-commissioner/article_04263e87-485c-5697-921a-e0729251192e.html The city council has just yesterday stated that Raasch will stay on the commission.  That was the push,  I await breathlessly for the push back.

I also await the day when we, as a country, and as fellow humans recognize and learn from our own cringe worthy actions and behaviors, that gay rights and marriage equality are simply human rights, and deserve our full and unqualified support.

 

 

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An Apology To The Nation For the Stupidity Of Our Congressman Steve King

July 28th, 2013

 

By Eric Blumberg

Eric Blumberg is an award-winning radio talk show host who also has gained acclaim as a reporter and columnist for several radio stations and local weekly newspapers. Born in New York City in 1952, he received his B.A, in Media Studies at Hunter College and spent two years at the graduate school of journalism at the University of Texas in Austin.  He spent the majority of his broadcast journalism career in Austin, where he was recognized four times as the city’s best radio talk show host. Blumberg has taught journalism at Austin Community College as well as English as a second language and writing at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.  He now lives in Sioux City, Iowa with his wife, Cindy Waitt.  He has three daughters  and one stepson.

 

To U.S. Residents Living Outside Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District:

As a resident of Sioux City, Iowa and a member of the city’s Human Rights Commission, I want to offer all of you my sincerest apologies for the continued stupidity of my U.S. Congressman, Steve King.

His most recent hateful comments regarding those who would benefit from the Immigration Reform Bill are not necessarily those of his constituents.  Nonetheless, you might get the impression that those Iowans of King’s 5th district are mindless bigots in the fashion of our Congressman.

Iowans are fair people, who, by and large, do not condemn other people simply based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or, in this case, their current immigration status.

While I do understand what the Congressman is trying to say, I don’t understand why he chose to say it in the fashion he did.

Subsequent to his initial remarks from this July, he took the floor of the Congress to explain himself more thoroughly.  In that statement, he, once again, alluded to his belief that the overwhelming majority of those minors who would receive a path to U.S. citizenship are working for Mexican drug cartels in an effort to supply us with the illegal substances we crave.

King stood by his statement that for each valedictorian there are 100 drug mules, adding that there cannot be any doubt of his beliefs since they are backed by logic and scientifically empirical data.

To me, that means that for every 101 undocumented teens living in the U.S., 100 are criminals.  I find that hard to believe.  However, if this is so, I want statistical proof.  Not a guess or an assumption based on personal opinion, but mathematical certainty based on numbers derived from a credible source rather than out of his ass.

I’m well aware the 5th District voters spoke in 2012 and re-elected him by another large margin, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t speak up when faced with unrelenting ignorance and idiocy.

I’m also aware there is no recourse here in Iowa to recall King and am also aware he is too stupid to realize how wrong he is.  Thus, you will never receive an apology from him.

The best we can do here in Iowa’s 4th District is to apologize for him and trust the rest of the country does not look too harshly on us since we are not bigots, but simply a  group of inherently good people represented by one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s no place like home

November 18th, 2012

The Waitts....lots of them, 1925

 

DOESN’T ANY BODY STAY IN ONE PLACE ANYMORE?”  Carole King

I live in Sioux City, Iowa.  It’s a river city of about 100,000 souls, if you count the neighbors.  It doesn’t grow too much.  I don’t think it’s supposed to.  It’s heritage is incredibly rich, both in the histories of the Native Americans who were here before, and the settlers who landed here from elsewhere.  We’re not Mayberry, we’re just a mix of new and old, growing more diverse and sometimes more progressive, and sometimes stubbornly clinging to old ways.  To me, it’s home. Read the rest of this entry »

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