Lucky 7

Luck*y sev*en (luk’ sev’ n) n. The renegade bunch of self-proclaimed party animals of south California; group of rapscallions that gained notoriety through reckless mischief and endless hype during the late 90’s.

Wizard, Stinky, and Drizzit

Founded by Drizzit, Ez, Noid, Doughboy, Stinky, and the Wizard, the Lucky 7 was a counterculture phenomenon. Countless recruits dogged the L7 to be included, to get a piece of the glory or at least share the peripheral benefits. Their code is to raise hell and increase mayhem by getting as messed up as possible, which was in demand for deaf social functions for the 20 something year olds … Continue reading Lucky 7

The Opium of the deaf community?

The other day I came across a clever title of a book by Raymond Aron: The Opium of the Intellectuals. It was a polemic directed at Marxism, and argued that it was the opiate of intellectuals. The reason it’s clever is because Karl Marx originally claimed that religion was the opiate of the masses.

I began to think in contemporary terms: what would pass as the opium of our times, as much religion did in mid-19th century, and Marxism for intellectuals in the 1930s & 40s? Ten years ago, my cousin Igor credited television as the ultimate drug of our consumer society. No doubt the Internet may have replaced it today.

Now, considering the subculture the deaf community, what would be our opiate – a drug that fails to fix our ailments but allows us to forget our sufferings? Continue reading The Opium of the deaf community?

Deafness & writing

Every community has its myths, but one in particular struck me. In the deaf community, your writing competence is supposedly related to how English you sign or mouth your signs. If you sign in pure ASL, then your writing competence in English or any other textual language may not be up to snuff. Now, if you mouth your signs, enunciate your words a little too clearly, you seem to be introducing an unnecessary element to your signing, as if you’re embarrassed of signing without appealing to another language. Continue reading Deafness & writing

The best of East & West

Last Friday at Deaf West Theater, I had the pleasure to watch two excellent performers in Jon Savage & Douglas Ridloff, and I also had the good fortune to work with them for their next performances on Saturday and Sunday. They hail from opposite sides of the US: San Diego for Savage, and New York City for Ridloff, and their material quite aptly represented their stomping grounds. Savage waxed on hilarious & poignant tales from his childhood, whereas Ridloff channeled Lenny Bruce in which he was spontaneous, frank, and improvisational. Continue reading The best of East & West

Fingersmiths “R” Us

Cast:

Bob – a short story author, published a novel

Erik – a screenplay writer


chez moi – a graphic novelist

Setting:
Fred 62 Diner in LA

Yesterday, at 2pm, I arrived at the diner mere moment before Erik did, despite the best efforts of the traffic gods and an unreliable GPS. We agreed to sit outside, and after we obtained refreshments, the conversation lurched immediately into a “whatcha done lately?” mode. Erik is a filmmaker who desires greater control over his craft, so he decided to break into script writing.

After taking turns in exchanging horror stories about grad school, and before we ran out of gas, Bob made his grand entrance. He’s a middle aged man with the wittiest sense of humor this side of George Carlin, or an American version of Lord Henry from the Picture of Dorian Gray. We spoke a bit about the goals of the club, what we expected from it, and what we hope to gain from each other, and so forth. Continue reading Fingersmiths “R” Us

Disability redefined

The very basic function of the concept called “disability” has perplexed me for decades. Why is it automatically given a negative connotation when thought or spoken out loud? Why do we teach our children that it’s inappropriate to look at a disabled person rather than encouraging them to inquire freely? It seems to further ingrain the lesson that disability is something to be avoided rather than approached as an opportunity for learning.

For the sake of brevity, I will focus solely on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of disability which states:
“Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.” 1

I propose a different definition for “disability”: “opportunities unrealized”. Continue reading Disability redefined

Decline and fall of a great club

Greetings, everyone. I bring you sad news. My book club, that unique mix of professionals and literati, has reached a crucial point in its 6 year history.

Let me give you a bit of background: the book club was founded by a couple of deaf bookworms who wanted to discuss books in their native sign language. Soon enough, my sister joined and I followed not long after. The membership stayed roughly at around 6 to 8 people. We struck a near-perfect balance between a linguist, a lawyer, a historian, an activist, a psychologist, and a heretic.  However, about a year ago, more and more members started to join. By last summer we had balooned to 14 and decided on a cap. Sure enough, by fall a couple of people stepped down (moved away or leave of absence) and that opened up roster spots.

Now, a middle aged man was recruited to join but to the general chagrin of the club. I won’t go into personal details – but suffice to say that his addition somewhat skewered the chemistry. Now, for the final spot, I proposed a great candidate (in my opinion but I’m sure she qualifies much better than the other guy) but she had one drawback. She wasn’t deaf by nature. However, she was born to deaf parents, and her first language was sign language. That should have been good enough of a counterargument in itself.

Not to several fundamentalists, unfortunately. They wanted an exclusive all-deaf club. That in itself isn’t a bad idea, given that there are thousands of book clubs out there in the greater metro area we can’t participate. But that bothered the hell out of me – we participated through the use of sign language, not because our audiogram passed a certain level of hearing loss.

After I submitted a petition for the coda (child of deaf adult(s)) citing her merits (she’s involved in the community, has a fantastic personality, well-read, etc) the members voted on her. Some were for, others were against (due to a dubious argument that her profession as an interpreter could lead to conflicts in the future). Battle lines were drawn, blustery emails were fired, ideologies were spouted, etc. The vote was suspended for the next meeting.

Now, my feeling is that the hardliners will dig in, ignore all charges of reverse audism, and with numbers, reject the coda’s application. My sister will then write a card that says “HYPOCRITE,” and then tell everyone that she doesn’t want to be one, and resign. Then some of us will follow her out of the door and set up our own inclusive club.

Not Deaf enough?

Deaf Power, by Paul Scearce

In February, I submitted the dialogue, None The Wiser, to a collection of Deaf American Prose, in the hopes of being published. However, the professors helming that project had decided that my dialogue was not “deaf” enough to make the cut – even though in their call for submissions, they specified that the topic did not have to be “explicitly about deaf, Deaf, or hard of hearing American lives, but … the author [must be] deaf, Deaf, or hard of hearing.”

As a deaf author, I thought this project was not necessarily a collection of writings about deafness by deaf authors. But, given the politics behind the rejection, it appears that, in order for me to be published as a deaf person, I must write about deaf issues. I was mistaken in the naïve belief that being a deaf man who could write like a philosopher would be sufficient, and that I need not be defined by my deafness, but this is not the case. Continue reading Not Deaf enough?