So Boston's annual celebration of safe, middlebrow "literary" culture, now gearing up for its fourth installment, has decided to get a little freaky, hosting a "transgression"-themed reading and fundraiser. The folks that whined about getting punked last year now promise an event jam-packed with "law-breaking, rule-bending, convention-busting, [and] paradigm shifting." Funny, though, that the six perps in their line-up all have spotless records. I suppose transgression in this case means cute, titillating, "edgy." For a taboo-busting twenty-five bucks you'll be able to hear Holly LeCraw talk about the time she peed in The Swimming Pool.
This isn't to say, however, that the Boston Book Festival and its president, Deborah Z. Porter, don't know a thing or three about real transgression. While trumpeting the word "community" in every official utterance, the festival's organizers continue to take on corporate sponsors who are known offenders of the most community-shredding sort. Take a look at these love-tweets that the festival sent out last year to several of its corporate sponsors.
Yes, Bank of America, one of the nation's leaders in kicking families out of foreclosed homes, fattening itself on corporate welfare at the government trough, and funding mountaintop removal mining (which poisons children's drinking water in local . . . communities). Bank of America just loves that word, "community," as well.
Here's another little bouquet:
Verizon! In August 2011 almost 45,000 Verizon workers -- including 6000 in Massachusetts -- went out on strike for 2 weeks before having to return to work without a new contract. Verizon was trying to squeeze $1 billion in concessions out of its workforce, including cuts in health and retirement benefits, scheduled wage increases, and vacation and sick days. This same Verizon has received over $12 billion in tax subsidies since 2008, hasn't paid a thin dime in taxes over the same period, and continues to lavish multi-million dollar salaries on their top executives.
Yet Deborah Z. Porter and the other organizers of the Boston Book Festival welcomed Verizon and its ill-gotten dollars in to the 2011 BBF with open arms, allowing the company to burnish its slimy reputation and secure a little brand loyalty among future generations by hosting a children's "StoryPlace"!
Finally, there's this gem:
Target, the company that requires their employees to watch a 13-minute anti-union film and donated $150K to the campaign of a notoriously anti-gay politician in Minnesota. I guess "community" doesn't include unionized workers and the LGBT . . . community.
And so far it looks like all three sponsors will be back for this year's festival:
So, when it comes to the Boston Book Festival and the theme of "Transgressions," we might chuckle at their wildly misnamed reading event, but can't exactly accuse them of being hypocrites.
But when it comes to "community"?