Author: Christopher Cocca

Christopher Cocca is a Pennsylvania-based writer and community organizer. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Brevity, elimae, Pindeldyboz, Geez Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, Generate, and elsewhere. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 2005 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing (fiction) from The New School in 2011. He helps lead the Air Quality Partnership of Lehigh Valley - Berks and is the Associate for Urban Mission at FPC Allentown. Opinions expressed on-line are solely his. Quotation does not equal endorsement, except for when it does.

The Columbus Day Thing

Remember when Kay lambasts Michael about “this Sicilian thing?”

My Southern Italian roots are Campanian, but you get the point.

I hate the nickname of the Washington, DC football team.  I think it’s a slur and shouldn’t be used.

I hate the Columbian Exchange.  I hate how Columbus himself thought of and treated indigenous people.  I hate how many of the actual founders of this country felt about the indigenous people of this continent and the indigenous people of Africa.

I want a progressive, literary Italian-American to tell me how to feel about October as Italian Heritage Month in light of Columbus Day as its impetus.

But I also want progressive WASPS, Italian-Americans, and everyone else to be honest about the degree to which Anti-Italian and Anti-Italian-American tropes are widespread and acceptable in everything from journalism to children’s television.

I get it.  We’re white. But we’re not named Smith or Jones or Rogers or some other thing from the Shire.  We are without a doubt privileged because of our whiteness, even if our whiteness has only been wholly accepted in the third or fourth generation. We’re not hated the way other non-WASP people are, but we’re still gangsters and clowns and cartoon plumbers.  As originally olive-skinned, non-Anglo whites, we benefit from the disassociation of “American” from white.  Columbus Day was meant to cast us in proud contrast to other whites, Anglo whites, the same ones casting us as idiots, wop-shaming us as a matter of practice and policy.  Columbus Day is full of these kinds of ethnically, racially charged ironies.  As human beings, Italian-Americans ought to despise the evils inherent to the Colombian Exchange. I’m sure most of us do.  We struggled as Other for over a century, a situation mitigated and frustrated by our fringe position within canonical whiteness. Here we share much with Irish-Americans, even if they had an easier time WASP-passing sooner because of language and hue.

How should we celebrate our historical struggle without becoming the locus of marginalizing power ourselves?  Should we get a pass on Columbus, or should we lead the charge in finding an alternative icon for ourselves, for the spirit that brought our ancestors here, and our shared belief in what American can be regardless of what it sometimes is?

One Side of This Street Has LED Lights

If we get rid of safety-orange highway nightlights, half the palette of my writing will be gone.  With that said, LED is starkly more beautiful.  Click through to see the picture of a street in Seoul that’s half LED-lit and half traditional interchange orange.

via Picture of the Day: One Side of this Street Has LED Lights «TwistedSifter.

Like It’s 1999

We’ve had a lot of good alternative and indie music come out in the last few years.  Today on alternative radio, though, I heard two novelty songs in a row which got me to thinking that we might be about ready to repeat 1999.  That means two things: 1) A new slew of The (Nouns) bands are on the horizon that will have either The Hives, The Vines, The Strokes, or The White Stripes as their first point of rock n roll reference, and 2) Jack White is about to put out a great album.  So that’s a good thing.

Why I Think Disney Will Buy Rovio

I said yesterday that I believe Disney will buy Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, sometime this quarter.  Today, Mashable reports that Rovio is cutting 130 jobs, having staffed up for faster growth then has been realized in the past year.

Through its LucasFilm properties, Disney is already in business with Rovio in the licensing of Angry Birds: Star Wars.  Now that Microsoft owns Mojang, Disney should solidify Rovio and leverage the Angry Birds characters across its content platforms.

photo by Marian Trinidad

Lars Ulrich and Felix White on Oasis

Ulrich and White hit the same vibe, because Oasis hit, cultivated, and empowered a certain nerve.  Like I’ve said before, they sneered the abyss all the way back to hell.  They changed my life, too.

via Oasis: the band that changed our lives – by Lars Ulrich and Felix White | Music | theguardian.com.

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The Delta Thermo Energy Deal in Allentown is No More, But We Must Stay Tuned In Case the Other Shoe, When It Drops, Is Dropped into Another Ill-Conceived Incinerator

The City of Allentown is pulling out of the contract with Delta Thermo Energy.
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-delta-thermo-termination-contract-20140930-story.html

This news surely spells the death of the experimental trash and sewage sludge incinerator that threatens Allentown.

HOWEVER, the company’s air and waste permits are still out there.  The air permit could be sold to other companies who want to develop that site.  Their waste permit could be used by anyone here or elsewhere in the state, if not challenged.

We also have an ongoing lawsuit to get the Allentown Clean Air Ordinance on the ballot, so that voters can adopt a law protecting the city against incinerator pollution from any company in the future.  It’s also critical, since the case will affect whether local governments anywhere in the state can adopt their own clean air laws.

Allentown can breathe easy for now, but let’s not go to sleep.  This isn’t over yet. See Allentown Residents for Clean Air or www.stoptheburn.org for more.

This victory couldn’t have happened without massive organizing and legal support from me, Traci and others at Energy Justice Network. It cost us close to $20K and three years of work (and some of the legal work will still continue).

If you can help give back, your donations are much needed and appreciated, and will help ensure that this victory is final and that other communities also get the support they need.
http://stoptheburn.org/donate