I have not spent my time studying the problem of "race"-"race" itself is just a restatement and retrenchment of the problem. You see this from time to time when some dullard-usually believing himself white-proposes that the way forward is a grand orgy of black and white, ending only when we are all beige and thus the same "race." But a great number of "black" people already are beige. And the history of civilization is littered with dead "races" (Frankish, Italian, German, Irish) later abandoned because they no longer serve their purpose-the organization of people beneath, and beyond, the umbrella of rights.
As a little girl in the '50s, I couldn't wear a purple-and-white flowered skirt with a red blouse - those colors were too loud. My parents were not into that 'We are Negros that wear all beige,' but there was a line you could walk over that could signal vulgar, crass, rather than clever use of color. And that outfit crossed over the line.
I spent my childhood clad in 1970s hand-me-downs, primarily from male cousins, which mainly consisted of a selection of beige, brown and orange dungarees. That, combined with a perfectly round pudding-bowl haircut, made me look, on a good day, like a cross between Ann Widdecombe, one of the Flower Pot Men, and a monk.
Lipstick is iconic. It's the one product that marks out an era, and a certain lip colour can define a season. It makes me feel more 'done'. I wear a beige lip in the day, but red when I'm going somewhere - it makes that transition from day to night. I just slick it on; I don't bother with lipliner.
I think men get nervous when women start counting the number of female senators, and whites become edgy when they hear the next Supreme Court seat will probably go to a Latino. This isn't always because they object to sharing the spoils, by the way; it just reminds us that the melting pot may not be working, and we haven't yet achieved the ambiguous national dream of becoming a nation of indistinguishable beige atheists.
I realized that the way I approached architecture was with a somewhat fashion brain. That didn't get me very good marks in school, because everyone thought fashion was lightweight. In architecture they say, "Well, why is the door pink? Where does it go? What does the pink mean? What does it symbolize? All the other doors are beige, why is that one pink?" I was like, "Well, it's pink because it's pretty."
The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination. Most people spend their lives in dreary, grey-beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colours. By experimenting with lighting, colours, textiles and furniture and utilizing the latest technologies, I try to show new ways to encourage people to use their phantasy and make their surroundings more exciting.
Mum said earlier what a lovely dress you're wearing." Beryl's eyebrows wriggled like two tiny tapeworms. "This?" she said. "But I've had this for years." It was a beige dress that would have looked better on an eighty year-old. Any eighty-year-old, man or woman. "I think you've really grown into it," Valkyrie said. "I always thought it was a little shapeless." Valkyrie resisted the urge to say that was what she meant.
Momma was with the pony last night. Lily and me have him in the mornings, and we give him a wash with the shammy cloths and a soapy bucket so he's ready for Jade to look after him the next night. I think Momma must ride him too rough because he's always sweating and white-eyed when we get him, pulling tight at his rope and spreading his wide beige lips. He won't settle forever and ever, he just turns circles around the stake. Me and Lily get nervy watching him paw scoops out of the backyard soil.
I wrote a song called 'Red' and thinking about what that song means to me and all the different emotions on this album they're all pretty much about the tumultuous, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic relationships I've experienced in the last two years. All those emotions fanning from intense love, intense frustration, intense jealousy, confusion, all of that in my mind, all those emotions are red. There's nothing in between, there's nothing beige about those feelings and so I called my record that.
I was just as black as I had been the day that I was born. Therefore, when I faced a congregation, it began to take all the strength I had not to stammer, not to curse, not to tell them to throw away their Bibles and get off their knees and go home and organize, for example, a rent strike. When I watched all the children, their copper, brown, and beige faces staring up at me as I taught Sunday school, I felt that I was committing a crime in talking about the gentle Jesus, in telling them to reconcile themselves to their misery on earth in order to gain the crown of eternal life. Were only Negroes to gain this crown? Was Heaven, then, to be merely another ghetto?
Why is it there's no aisle in a grocery or department in a store or menu on a website for 'average stuff' or 'beige products'? FACT: People never got passionate about mediocre and average. While consumers and clients can find 'best deals' and 'natural foods' and 'artisan goods, ' one doesn't find an aisle or a website menu tab offering 'average stuff' without excelling in something (which might explain that while vanilla is necessary for the ice cream sundae, it's the hot fudge we all crave and talk about).
It is now very clear that techniques of machine-human interfacing, pharmacology of the synthetic variety, all kinds of manipulative techniques, all kinds of data storage, imaging and retrieval techniques- all of this is coalescing toward the potential of a truly demonic or angelic kind of self-imaging of our culture... And the people who are on the demonic side are fully aware of this and hurrying full-tilt forward with their plans to capture everyone as a 100% believing consumer inside some kind of a beige furnished fascism that won't even raise a ripple.
I go downstairs and the books blink at me from the shelves. Or stare. In a trick of the light, a row of them seems to shift very slightly, like a curtain blown by the breeze through an open window. Red is next to blue is next to cream is adjacent to beige. But when I look again, cream is next to green is next to black. A tall book shelters a small book, a huge Folio bullies a cowering line of Quartos. A child's nursery rhyme book does not have the language in which to speak to a Latin dictionary. Chaucer does not know the words in which Henry James communicates but here they are forced to live together, forever speechless.
Across from her, Hunter devoured her meal even more completely than she had. Sinclair watched her sink sharp teeth into the chicken bone, heard it snap, then the soft grunt of satisfaction. She made soft sucking sounds then emptied her mouth of the tiny ground up remains on a corner of her dish. Hunter ate with rabbit-like intensity, biting and sucking and spitting in an even rhythm until all that was left on the plate was a small brown and beige pile of ground bones. She finally looked up and caught Sinclair staring.
The woman with the cat complex is named Mrs. Alice Plesher, but she doesn't reveal her first name to him and Sai only finds out by accident, later. Mrs. Plesher calls the paper and is put through to Sai. He has no idea why although he could guess the new guy gets all of the reporter-on-the-beat drudgery assignments until proven worthy. Alice speaks haltingly as if hardened by age and her voice reveals a rasp. Sai pictures her in a long house dress from the fifties, wide pink and white stripes fading with age-a smock of beige over the dress, a multitude of cats clinging to the fabric like stick-ons.
There were fat cats and skinny cats. The long-tailed and the bobbed. The daring young leapers, and the old windowsill sleepers. Balls of waddling fluff, smooth-coated prowlers, and hairless ones that looked fragile and wise. The tiger-striped, the ring-tailed, and the ones with matching coloured socks and mittens. There were tabbies and calicos. Manx and Persians. Siamese and Bombay. Ragdolls and Birmans. Maine Coons and Russian Blues. There were Snowshoes and Somalis, Tonkinese and Turkish, and many, many more. Brown and beige and orange and grey and black and white and silver cats, each with gleaming eyes of emerald, or sapphire, or amber. A rainbow of precious stones.
The lounge of the private terminal in Delhi. A place of beige leather sofas and cappuccinos, set deep in that world where a seeling modernity has yet to close over the land, and where in the empty spaces that lie between the elevated roads and the coloured glass buildings there are still, like insects taking shelter under the veined roof of a leaf, the encampments of families who built them. Black pigs still thread their way through the weeds, there are still patient lorry-loads of labourers, waiting among the dazzle of the new cars, for the lights to change. One India, dwarfed and stunted, adheres like a watchful undergrowth to another India which, in very physical ways, as with the roads that fly up out of the pale land, or the chunks of monorail that rise up from the ground like the remnants of an ancient wall, or the blank closed faces of the glass buildings, wishes to shrug off its poorer opposite: to leave it behind; to shut it out; to soar over it. One man, above all, captures the mood of this time: the security guard. In him, this man of expectation - a man not rich himself, but standing guard at the doorway to a world of riches - it is possible to feel the boredom and restlessness of a world that inspires ambition, but cannot answer it. Skanda watches him watching the lounge, with eyes glazed and yellowing from undernourishment. A favourite phrase from college returns: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Hester Lipp had written Where the Sidewalk Starts, an inexplicably acclaimed book of memoir, recounting - in severe language and strange, striking imagery - Lipp's childhood and adolescence on a leafy suburban street in Burlington. Her house was large and well-kept, her schooling uneventful, her family - the members of which she described in scrupulous detail - uniformly decent and supportive. Sidewalk was blurbed as a devastatingly honest account of what it meant to grow up middle class in America. Amy, who forced herself to read the whole thing, thought the book devastatingly unnecessary. The New York Times had assigned it to her for a review, and she stomped on it with both feet. Amy's review of Sidewalk was the only mean-spirited review she ever wrote. She had allowed herself to do this, not because she was tired of memoirs, baffled by their popularity, resentful that somehow, in the past twenty years, fiction had taken a backseat to them, so that in order to sell clever, thoroughly imagined novels, writers had been browbeaten by their agents into marketing them as fact. All this annoyed her, but then Amy was annoyed by just about everything. She beat up on Hester Lipp because the woman could write up a storm and yet squandered her powers on the minutiae of a beige conflict-free life. In her review, Amy had begun by praising what there was to praise about Hester's sharp sentences and word-painting talents and then slipped, in three paragraphs, into a full-scale rant about the tyranny of fact and the great advantages, to both writer and reader, of making things up. She ended by saying that reading Where the Sidewalk Starts was like "being frog-marched through your own backyard.
The Loneliness of the Military Historian Confess: it's my profession that alarms you. This is why few people ask me to dinner, though Lord knows I don't go out of my way to be scary. I wear dresses of sensible cut and unalarming shades of beige, I smell of lavender and go to the hairdresser's: no prophetess mane of mine, complete with snakes, will frighten the youngsters. If I roll my eyes and mutter, if I clutch at my heart and scream in horror like a third-rate actress chewing up a mad scene, I do it in private and nobody sees but the bathroom mirror. In general I might agree with you: women should not contemplate war, should not weigh tactics impartially, or evade the word enemy, or view both sides and denounce nothing. Women should march for peace, or hand out white feathers to arouse bravery, spit themselves on bayonets to protect their babies, whose skulls will be split anyway, or, having been raped repeatedly, hang themselves with their own hair. There are the functions that inspire general comfort. That, and the knitting of socks for the troops and a sort of moral cheerleading. Also: mourning the dead. Sons, lovers and so forth. All the killed children. Instead of this, I tell what I hope will pass as truth. A blunt thing, not lovely. The truth is seldom welcome, especially at dinner, though I am good at what I do. My trade is courage and atrocities. I look at them and do not condemn. I write things down the way they happened, as near as can be remembered. I don't ask why, because it is mostly the same. Wars happen because the ones who start them think they can win. In my dreams there is glamour. The Vikings leave their fields each year for a few months of killing and plunder, much as the boys go hunting. In real life they were farmers. The come back loaded with splendour. The Arabs ride against Crusaders with scimitars that could sever silk in the air. A swift cut to the horse's neck and a hunk of armour crashes down like a tower. Fire against metal. A poet might say: romance against banality. When awake, I know better. Despite the propaganda, there are no monsters, or none that could be finally buried. Finish one off, and circumstances and the radio create another. Believe me: whole armies have prayed fervently to God all night and meant it, and been slaughtered anyway. Brutality wins frequently, and large outcomes have turned on the invention of a mechanical device, viz. radar. True, valour sometimes counts for something, as at Thermopylae. Sometimes being right - though ultimate virtue, by agreed tradition, is decided by the winner. Sometimes men throw themselves on grenades and burst like paper bags of guts to save their comrades. I can admire that. But rats and cholera have won many wars. Those, and potatoes, or the absence of them. It's no use pinning all those medals across the chests of the dead. Impressive, but I know too much. Grand exploits merely depress me. In the interests of research I have walked on many battlefields that once were liquid with pulped men's bodies and spangled with exploded shells and splayed bone. All of them have been green again by the time I got there. Each has inspired a few good quotes in its day. Sad marble angels brood like hens over the grassy nests where nothing hatches. (The angels could just as well be described as vulgar or pitiless, depending on camera angle.) The word glory figures a lot on gateways. Of course I pick a flower or two from each, and press it in the hotel Bible for a souvenir. I'm just as human as you. But it's no use asking me for a final statement. As I say, I deal in tactics. Also statistics: for every year of peace there have been four hundred years of war.