Another shameless plea

You know what’s going to happen if you don’t vote for my friend Doug, right? If you don’t vote, a band that sounds like Nickleback might win instead. All those other bands sound like Nickleback. We can’t have another Nickleback. This is why. That’s funny, right? It’s also kind of sad. Vote for Doug.

Curves: the clean-up

Oh my God I loved writing that last entry, but now is where the smoke clears.

There’s been discussion elsewhere about what the hell we should do about this whole Curves/Gary Heavin business. Curves is a franchise, and from what little I know about franchises, I bet a boycott would mostly hurt franchise owners–at least some of whom probably don’t share the same views as Heavin. When I wrote this last night I hadn’t thought much about what I’d do if I was a Curves member; I just saw anti-choice lobbying and comfy little gym presented side by side and weighed against each other as if they were equally significant, and that pissed me off.

But then, consider that out of all the businesses, institutions, and mind-bogglingly rich individuals who give money to icky pro-life causes, it happens that one of them is Gary Heavin. Which is to say, nearly two million women might know who Gary Heavin is, if you just count the Curves members alone. That’s a lucky thing when you think about it: when it comes to knowing the enemy, this guy’s in our sights.

A pro-choice reader and new Curves member wrote me to point out the franchise factor in terms of profits going to anti-choice organizations, and she thinks it could be a neglible amount. That might be true, but I don�t know for sure, so I’ve edited the previous entry to be less specific about the numbers.

People’s feelings seem to vary on this sort of thing: some want to know exactly how much money goes where; others see it in more symbolic terms and think any amount is too much. I’d love to see a pro-choice organization to do the math and figure out a donation amount sufficient to buy a soul back from Curves, so to speak. Or better, put on a walk/run/bike athletic fundraiser in order to match some of the money Gary Heavin gives to Operation Screw Us Over, and offer special incentives for Curves members, especially if they train for the event at Curves. Hell, we could form a whole bitch army and send them to train at Curves if we really got our shit together, and now I’ll leave it at that.

On Curves & Choice

So whenever I check my referrals I notice I get at least one or two searches a day for Curves Gym, which I mentioned in this entry about a year ago. I didn’t join Curves for various reasons–the hours weren’t great and neither were the membership fees; the fact that it was in a storefront was unsettling to me. All kinds of bad theater, fringe religions, and pyramid scheme recruitments have happened in storefronts, and my impression was that Curves was just a little bit like all three of those. Mostly, though, it just looked kind of boring. It wasn’t for me, I thought, but I could have been making excuses, too.

But a lot of you wrote me and said Curves is a good place. From what I’ve heard, it is okay–in fact in a lot of ways, it’s great. I can’t possibly hate the concept: Curves loves the fat chicks, and our moms, and the whole sedentary sisterhood of North America; Curves wants us to be comfortable; Curves wants us all to work it because Curves knows we can! I’m being a little hammy here, I know, but hell, I’m all for it. Curves seemed to have the same philosophy I did in a different flavor–more flowery, maybe, and with a hint of Jesus, but close enough.

I don’t want to think any less of those values now, even as I read online and in Bitch magazine about how Curves entrepreneur Gary Heavin is an anti-choice activist. I mean, the guy funds “crisis pregnancy centers” with money from the Curves franchises. He’s “stepped up to the plate in a big way” by rounding up five million dollars to bring down Planned Parenthood in Texas. (And it seems like at one point in his life he was way too into the belief that God provides for unwanted children, because he sure as hell didn’t feel like paying child support.)

So, yeah, I think this guy is a total shitpig, but to be fair, there are other pro-life dickheads and companies out there. I get that some tool is always going to be backing up truckloads of money to the front doors of organizations who lie to women about their health care and say 9/11 is God’s punishment to our country and other really fucking endearing things. What I don’t get is the idea that this anti-choice bullshit is somehow an acceptable tradeoff for a goddamn gym.

No, really, think about it: A GYM. A gym that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. For fuck’s sake, it’s not even a fully equipped gym. Part of your membership fee goes to buy cuddly fetus puppets or some crap and you don’t even get showers? If my sweat pays for DVDs of The Silent Scream you can motherfucking bet I want towel service.

For those of you who are against abortion, this is not about arguing with you. This is also not about making anyone feel guilty about going to Curves, whatever your position. By the same token, I don’t think anyone should get off saying that Curves is just a cheesy gym for housewives and they’d never go there anyway. Instead we need to think about how nearly 200 of these places are opening a month and what that means in a country where it’s getting increasingly, depressingly common for a woman to have to drive for hours to get to a family planning clinic. If you find this stuff distasteful, can you really say “But Curves is empowering,” and have it be completely all right? The whole woman-friendly, fat-friendly, make-me-feel-like-a-natural-woman happy environment in Curves is a great idea, but I don’t know if that makes it a feminist phenomenon. Mostly it sounds like swell marketing to me.

If you go to Curves, I understand you had good reasons for joining; if you aren’t crazy about where your money ultimately goes, I honestly don’t know what you should do. I just don’t think the benefits of Curves in any way balance out what’s happening in places like Texas.

I mean, what the hell is worse: feeling all pudgy and intimidated at a Bally’s, or being poor and at the mercy of some nutty CPC clinic staff who will make you wait a fucking month before they tell you that you’re pregnant and, oops, sorry, you’re in your second trimester? Like I can’t stand Step Aerobics classes, but at least I know Suzanne the instructor won’t call me a fornicator and keep me from getting the Pill.

Do you get how I think there’s a little fucking disparity here?

This is sort of about abortion rights but it’s about other things, too. I’m getting a little tired of bicep curls passing for women’s power. I’m glad so many of you believe in your health and I’m glad that you feel good about yourselves. I’m glad that you know the feeling of taking control of your own bodies. It’s a great feeling, but consider who you’re paying to feel that. Maybe we should all be doing more to offset that very great cost.

(p.s.: I couldn’t find a way to fit in a link to the March for Women’s Lives that happened in D.C. weekend, but I thought I’d mention it, in the spirit of doing things.)


In case you’re ever walking around in my neighborhood and you’re wondering which building is mine, it’s the one with the handwritten apartment for rent sign specifying NO DOOGS ALOWED.

The same day I first noticed that sign, I went out for a walk, because the weather was nice and I needed to procrastinate about a lot of things, and on the parkway grass of this kind of tatty little house near the elementary school, I saw another sign. This was also handwritten and dog-related. It was very hastily scrawled. It said:

your   DOG   P
is   not here

I wondered what it meant. I thought it had something to do with a missing dog. Then I had this idea that somebody around here must own a flaky itinerant dog who roams around and crashes with neighbors, one of whom was just trying to be helpful. Or else this house ran some sort of strange dog tavern (maybe they play poker or pool there?) and wanted to let whoever else know, truthfully or otherwise, that the dog they call “P,” son of a bitch that he is, wasn’t there.

But then I kept walking and saw more signs, placed at 5′ intervals along the parkway (it’s a corner lot), all written in Sharpie in the same crazy lopisded script. I took out a notebook and very carefully wrote them down. I think they’re about cleaning up dog litter:

P  Your Dog   Bathroom

and then:

Pick up   ofer
Your dog
TANk you

and finally:

              Pick Up
Keep Dog
 P   P   P   P  

pick up

Eventually you can guess at what needs to be picked up, but jeez.

Of course, this is still the best dog-related sign ever.

Open letters and sandwiches

So has anyone seen this New City article yet? I don’t think it’s online and I wonder what I was quoted as saying. This reporter called on Monday and I babbled about Mimi being the reluctant queen of blogs. You people should have been at the Gaper’s Block reading, where she was just swell, and I had a fine time reading from this entry. Afterwards we got all soggy drunk at this place Carol’s, where there is country dancing and “hot sandwiches,” according to the sign. I suppose you could have stood between me and Mimi and been part of a nice warm blogger sandwich, although as bread slices go we aren’t terribly symmetrical in terms of size. I kept sloshily pointing at her and saying “sheezgotta book too.” If you were one of the chipper young men we were talking to you probably thought we were totally full of shit.

To the guy I met briefly a couple years ago on a really shitty personals date: How did you like my reading? I bet you were hoping I wouldn’t notice you sitting in the table right in front, looking all uncomfortable and stuff! I’m sorry you had to pay ten bucks at the door to see someone you’d hated on first sight! I bet THAT was a pisser! Also, I’m sorry I kept asking you questions about your rock opera on our date. I learned from that experience that when one mentions they’ve written a rock opera, the last thing they want to do is actually talk about it, or, for that matter, talk about anything at all, or even really do anything that involves occasional eye contact. Which is why I resisted shouting HEY HOW’S IT GOING WITH THE ROCK OPERA?! into my mic on Friday night. I hope you appreciated my restraint.