Friday, April 27, 2012

Brooklyn's Muslim Bad Girls, M.I.A. Style

Muslim sisters are doing it for themselves in Brooklyn! I was walking to the subway earlier this week, and spotted a car driving verrrry slooooowly around a traffic circle on a quiet street, with the hazard lights blinking.

Hmm...I in distress? Mechanical difficulties? There was no "Student Driver" sign posted on top of the car, so what was going on? An impatient driver in a car behind the slow one nosed up to the bumper until it could sneak past and hurry along its way.

I kept walking closer until I could peek inside the vehicle, and I was rewarded with a delightful little scene: two ladies in head scarves, the younger one behind the wheel and peering over it cautiously, the older one in the passenger seat acting as instructor and lookout.

Yay! Had to have been a Muslim mom teaching her daughter to drive. I love Brooklyn!

Seeing these independent ladies in head scarves, driving along with no men to accompany them, made me think of that new M.I.A. video "Bad Girls." You know the one I'm talking about? "It's a great big middle finger to Saudi Arabia's inhumane laws about women," writes Lucy Jones in her blog for The Telegraph. "It's the only country in the world where women are banned from driving. Muslim academics warned in December that allowing women to drive would 'provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.' Please."

Sunday, April 01, 2012

UNTERZAKHN--Leela Corman's new graphic novel

Check out my friend Leela Corman's new graphic novel, UNTERZAKHN, about to be released from Schocken Books. Leela is one of my personal bad-girl superheros--she's smart, talented, a student of history and used to be my belly dance teacher and may one day be again if she ever moves back to NYC from Gainesville, Fla.
Leela's graphic novel tells a story of immigrant life on the Lower East Side at the turn of the last century, as seen through the eyes of twin sisters whose lives take radically different paths. (In case you didn't know, "unterzakhn" is Yiddish for "underthings.")

This spring, Leela's traveling all over America to promote her story of "bad girls making good, pogroms, and vaudevilian types." She'll be doing book events all over NYC as well as in Gainesville, Boston, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Toronto. You can find her at or Twitter: @LeelaOfNewYork.

Plus! Leela will also be dancing in some unrelated events, in New York City and in Toronto.
Here are the NYC listings for the UNTERZAKHN launch:

Tuesday, April 3, Brooklyn:
7 p.m., WORD bookstore book launch party, 126 Franklin St.
Thursday, April 6, Manhattan:
6:30 pm, Tenement Talks event at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, co-sponsored by the Center for Cultural Judaism. 103 Orchard Street (at Delancey). RSVP requested ( Event is free, but requires purchase of book.
Saturday, April 28-Sunday, April 29, Manhattan
MoCCA Fest 2012.