High Winds on the Ravenel Bridge

Winds were blowing hard last night, and still at it when I woke up this morning. I got to Starbuck’s in North Charleston just before the storm blew in. One thing is for sure – storms in the south do not mess around. This thing was crazy. The doors to the building flew open and rain streamed inside as if the clouds were purposely tilting at an obscure angle to ensure proper water flow into the building.

The drive up to North Charleston was eerie enough, with high winds and random flashes of lightening in the darker than usual sky. I’m just glad I didn’t have to drive in that rain.

One thing that is good about southern storms though, that I’ve experienced to date, is that they don’t seem to last long. I mean – yes it is still rainy outside. But the vicious power of this morning’s downpour is long over. Not that I would mind a repeat now that I am safely inside. I love thunderstorms. Something about the rumbling and clashing of things you can’t control. Especially when you’re safe and cozy in your house. But things seem to have settled down for the time being. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes.

I began day one of new Emily yesterday – went running, ate a salad – all generally good things. Until I went to Fuel and had some PBR’s and Plantain Fritters…which are basically the most amazing things ever created. I’ve finally figured out how to work the Fuel system and not pay a thousand dollars every time I go. The answer is PBR and Plantain Fritters. Delicious. Satisfying. $4.75. What else could you ask for on a warm day with high winds?

So maybe it wasn’t an entirely successful day of new me. But it was a start. And plantain fritters are a new thing, a new thing which I have no intention of EVER giving up. So I guess the day was as successful as one could expect for a Monday.

Going to start cooking again soon – just need to figure out a good spring recipe!


Thought without Origin

Is the search for origins a search for ownership?

Consider Ovid / Genesis / the Qur'an / Rousseau et al, and the way that beginnings secure us to fixed futures (see Edelman, Butler, Stein / Ngai, Adorno, Foucault, Artaud: No More Masterpieces).

Recall Derrida: "we have already said everything" (65).

The writing of reading is the recognition that all thought is simultaneously original and copy.

The exception: It is only by proceeding with "methodological prudence" in order to "safeguard[] ... knowledge" that one ceases to think (64).

Thus, securing a thought to its origin, or tethering it to its 'original, correct use,' is the fastest way to kill a culture.

Best Practices in Fair Use

TWO: QUOTING COPYRIGHTED WORKS OF POPULAR CULTURE TO ILLUSTRATE AN ARGUMENT OR POINT DESCRIPTION: Here the concern is with material (again of whatever kind) that is quoted not because it is, in itself, the object of critique but because it aptly illustrates some argument or point that a filmmaker is developing—as clips from fiction films might be used (for example) to demonstrate changing American attitudes toward race.

PRINCIPLE: Once again, this sort of quotation should generally be considered as fair use. The possibility that the quotes might entertain and engage an audience as well as illustrate a filmmaker’s argument takes nothing away from the fair use claim. Works of popular culture typically have illustrative power, and in analogous situations, writers in print media do not hesitate to use illustrative quotations (both words and images). In documentary filmmaking, such a privileged use will be both subordinate to the larger intellectual or artistic purpose of the documentary and important to its realization. The filmmaker is not presenting the quoted material for its original purpose but harnessing it for a new one. This is an attempt to add significant new value, not a form of “free riding” —the mere exploitation of existing value.

LIMITATIONS: Documentarians will be best positioned to assert fair use claims if they assure that:
1) the material is properly attributed,either through an accompanying on-screen identification or a mention in the film’s final credits;
2) to the extent possible and appropriate,quotations are drawn from a range of different sources;
3) each quotation (however many may be employed to create an overall pattern of illustrations) is no longer than is necessary to achieve the intended effect;
4) the quoted material is not employedmerely in order to avoid the cost or inconvenience of shooting equivalent footage.

For the complete transcript of Best Practices, see:

See the complete version of "Bound By Law: Tales from the Public Domain" at


The estate of Margaret Mitchell sued Randall and her publishing company, Houghton Mifflin, on the grounds that The Wind Done Gone was too similar to Gone with the Wind, thus infringing its copyright. The case attracted numerous comments from leading scholars, authors, and activists, regarding what Mitchell's attitudes would have been, and how much The Wind Done Gone copies from its predecessor. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated an injunction against publishing the book in Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin (2001), the case was settled in 2002 when Houghton Mifflin agreed to make an unspecified donation to Morehouse College, a historically African American college in Atlanta, Georgia in exchange for Mitchell's estate dropping the litigation.

The cover of the book bears a seal identifying it as "The Unauthorized Parody." It is parody in the broad legal sense: a work that comments or criticizes a prior work. This characterization was important in the Suntrust case. However, the book is not a comedy, as the term "parody" would imply in its common usage.

From Wikipedia's entry on The Wind Done Gone (Alice Randall, 2001)

Imitation and the corporation

For centuries, our popular myths have enshrined the "romantic" or "heroic" author, conjuring new books out of nothing but his solitary genius. This image is popular with nonwriters, because many of them do not know how writing is done, and it is popular with writers, because it flatters us. It is, however, untrue. Every book, film, and song in the world draws on an existing cultural commons. Creativity rarely, if ever, means inventing something out of nothing. It means taking the scraps and shards of culture that surround us and recombining them into something new.

When the government tells us we can't use those scraps without permission from Disney, Fox, or the Sherwood Anderson Trust, it constrains our creativity, our communications, and our art. It tells us that we cannot draw on pop songs the way we once drew on folk songs, or on TV comedy the way we once drew on vaudeville; it says we cannot pluck pieces from Star Wars the way George Lucas plucked pieces from foreign films and ancient legends. The consequences are staggering. Imagine what would have happened if, 100 years ago, it had been possible to copyright a blues riff. Jazz, rock, and country music simply could not have evolved if their constituent parts had been subject to the same restraints now borne by techno and hip hop.

taken from
Copy Catfight
How intellectual property laws stifle popular culture.

Jesse Walker | March 2000



Word- Realness

Dictionary.com defines "realness"the state of being actual or real. They define "real" itself as:

1. true; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent: the real reason for an act.
2. existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious: a story taken from real life.
3. being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary: The events you will see in the film are real and not just made up.
4. being actually such; not merely so-called: a real victory.
5. genuine; not counterfeit, artificial, or imitation; authentic: a real antique; a real diamond; real silk.
6. unfeigned or sincere: real sympathy; a real friend.

Though used as a category in a Ball in the film, the concept of "realness" and "relaity" is recurring in "Paris is Burning." What is real? What is the real "you?" It is the identity that Ball attendees dress themselves up as, or is it the one they portray when they are among normal people? Answers given by interviewees often indicate the former, although many interpret it as "If I could be, that's who I would be." In that case, is the ideal the most real?


Judith Butler Presentation: The Gaze and To Wong Foo

Judith Butler makes numerous arguments in her chapter “Gender is Burning” from her book Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” One concept that she returns to multiple times is the idea of the gaze and how it affects our ability to read and understand performance, specifically drag. On page 132 she discusses it in relation to the audience:

"If a white homophobic hegemony considers the black drag ball queen to be a woman, that woman, constituted already by that hegemony, will become the occasion for the rearticulation of its terms; embodying the excess of that production, the queen will out-woman women, and in the process confuse and seduce an audience whose gaze must to some degree be structured through those hegemonies, an audience who, through the hyperbolic staging of the scene, will be drawn into the abjection it wants both to resist and to overcome." (132)

How do our ideas regarding what is normal, what makes a woman a woman, allow ourselves to be “confus[ed] and seduc[ed]?” If our gaze does not fall within these normative beliefs, what happens to our view of drag? Dressing in drag is not something that everyone does, but it does seem that each of us likens some aspect of our identity to something that we are not; everyone tries to imitate what is normal. For instance, heterosexual society has deemed that tall, thin, white woman are the ideal for beauty, yet the majority of us, one could say the “normal” part of society does not fall within these confines.

Butler also uses the gaze in regard to the film, Paris is Burning. She agrees with bell hooks that “within this culture the ethnographic conceit of the natural gaze will always be a white gaze, an unmarked white gaze, one which passes its own perspectives off as the omniscient, one with presumes upon and enacts its own perspective as if it were no perspective at all” (136). This notion of the “white gaze” along with the interaction of an audience’s understanding relating to its gaze brings us to the movie To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Sandy Newmar (1995). This movie pairs three drag queens, one white, one black, one Latina, as they attempt to move from one location to another only to end up stuck in a rural town. While the perspective of the film is not told directly from the viewpoint of the white character, everything she says is taken as truth while the others, especially the young Latina queen, are less significant. The clip I chose from the movie shows the characters interacting with each other within the confines of men dressing as women, and it also shows the complex racial undertones that affect their interactions and relationships.


Butler, Judith. “Gender is Burning.” Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” New York: Routledge, 1993. 121-140.