In My Own Words

By: RABBI RACHEL ESSERMAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Grace and Jane
Imagine a world where it’s considered funny to call women “Cute Chick” and “Fat Broad.” Those of us who grew up with the comic strip “B.C.” know that, while all the men in the strip were given names, the women were referenced only by their looks. Since this is ancient history, you may be wondering why I’m writing about it. Well, The Reporter received a publicity release stating that “Cute Chick” and “Fat Broad” have been renamed: they are now called Grace and Jane. 
Since Johnny Hart, the originator of the strip died, it’s been drawn and written by his grandsons. I like it much more than I did the original strip. (I also like his grandsons’ other strip, “Dogs of C-Kennel.”) My previous disinterest in the strip was not because of its periodic very Christian offering (it was Johnny Hart’s comic so I was OK with him expressing his values), but because the jokes didn’t always make sense. After learning from someone whose husband was friends with Hart that the strips contained in-jokes that only members of their men’s service group would get, I stopped bothering to try to figure them out.
I could be cynical and say that the only reason for the name change is because “B.C.” is being made into a movie. (They really can’t call women “Cute Chick” and “Fat Broad” on the big screen nowadays.) However, the strip has long stopped using those names for them. It just never picked new ones. The press release also noted that its current creators realized these names were pejorative. I, for one, am glad to see that, at least in the comic strip world, some women are being treated as human beings rather than objects.
LUMA
I’ve not attended the LUMA Projection Arts Festival. I’m not that fond of crowds and I can’t stand for long periods of time. I also worry about the noise: music can easily become too loud for me and even voices over loudspeakers are often unpleasant to hear. However, I know people who love the event and look forward to it every year. It’s also considered a big draw for downtown Binghamton. I imagine that restaurants and other businesses do well during the festival.
I had not considered the effect the festival might have on the people who live in the area. The Press And Sun-Bulletin recently published a column by a veteran with PTSD who lives in a nearby, low income apartment building. He told not only of the problems it causes due to his PTSD, but the tinnitus that some people who live in the building are still suffering from after last year’s festival.
I can’t talk about PTSD because I fortunately have not experienced that, but I can talk about tinnitus, which is also known as ringing in the ear. To be blunt: it’s awful. Just think of a horrible noise you can’t stand and then imagine hearing that 24/7 with no way to escape. When mine acts up, I often can hear two or three different sounds at the same time. It makes it hard to sleep and concentrate. It also sets your nerves on edge. There aren’t words to tell you how grateful I am that my cochlear implant and my hearing aids give me relief during the day from that terrible noise.
It’s too late to do anything this year, but I’m hoping that someone connected to the festival will take note of the problem and try to help those people who can’t afford to leave their apartments or are too disabled to find another place to stay. Perhaps the volume of the music can be turned down. That would save everyone’s ears since loud noise causes a great deal of damage to people’s hearing. There must be a way to keep the festival and provide relief for those who live nearby.