Contact Boxes

December 3, 2017

If you have a contact form on your website, which I do, sometimes you get some really interesting and hilarious shit.  For example, a rabbi friend of mine received this inquiry recently:

Dear Rabbi: I’m an amateur wrestler, 59 years old, 6′-0″ tall, 155 pounds. I’m seeking Cantors & Rabbis as private opponents for pro style wrestling matches [sic] at [REDACTED], Utah. 25-69 years old, 5′-7″ to 6′-6″ tall, 160-330 pounds. My homne address is – [REDACTED]. Hope to hear from you soon.

Okay so I have many, many questions about this, first and foremost being: why would the potential opponents need his home address?  Is he just expecting said rabbis to show up at his house?  (I looked the emailer up, and confirmed that he is a real person and that he has recently put out similar opponent calls for “husky men,” referees and ring announcers, coaches, and truck drivers.)

Kind of want to make a documentary about him.  I like to think of this fellow as just a lovable super fan, and not some Tickled-type creep-o.  Just a man with a dream!

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A Prayer

November 28, 2017
Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work.  I have the feeling of discouragement that is.  I realize I don’t know what I realize.  Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted.  That is so far from what I deserve, of course, that I am naturally struck with the nerve of it.  Contrition in me is largely imperfect.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt You.  That kind of contrition is better than none but it is selfish.  To have the other kind, it is necessary to have knowledge, faith extraordinary.  All boils down to grace, I suppose.  Again asking God to help us be sorry for having hurt Him.  I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace.  Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace.  Oh, Lord.  Help me with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing.
— Flannery O’Connor, A Prayer Journal

Film Pervert Math

November 16, 2017

So I asked my husband the other day, “Considering how we’re no longer supposed to watch films sexual deviants worked on, what do you think the worst movie to watch would be?”

My first thought was Blue Jasmine: directed by Woody Allen, featuring Louis CK, and I assumed it would have been produced by Miramax as I had read somewhere that Weinstein gave Woody Allen his second chance after Allen was shunned post-Soon Yi scandal.  But no, Miramax didn’t fund Blue Jasmine, so that’s out.

However, I can’t seem to find many movies that involve more than two perverts, which is kind of amazing considering how many perverts there are.  I guess Good Will Hunting counts, because there have been allegations against Ben Affleck and also Harvey Weinstein produced it (and I guess Casey Affleck’s in it, too, which makes three!)  True Romance could work because it has Christian Slater (who was jailed for beating a girlfriend) AND Tom Sizemore (shudder) AND it was produced by Weinstein.  I can’t really find anything where Richard Dreyfuss, Dustin Hoffman, or Kevin Spacey intersect with Allen, Weinstein, or Louis CK, or with each other.  But I definitely feel like I’m mission something.  Help me, people!

The Art of Air B&B

November 7, 2017

AirBNB?  I don’t give a fuck.

Anyway, I am currently holed up in a fancy flat in a fancy neighborhood in London, and this place officially has the weirdest art of all time.  There is an home to the famous Sex Pistols album with Kate Middleton instead of the Queen, an autographed version of this famous photo of Jennifer Aniston from the cover of GQ, and my personal favorite, this:

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It is an approximately seven feet tall lacquered print of a model (no one I recognize) in Clockwork Orange cosplay, with two… tattoos of Mariah Carey on her arms, and the word  “DREAMLOVER” inked across her chest?  (Also I believe those are Mariah’s initials on her stomach and enormous fake tits.)  My friend AC put the image into Google and it came up with nothing, which means this is someone’s unique and as-of-yet undiscovered creation.  You’re welcome.

Also this made me think that there should be a Tumblr or Instagram devoted to the art of Air Bee and Bea, but my friend KM alerted me to one that already exists.  Sadly, it appears they stopped updating in May.  Missed opportunity!

 

Mechthild Van Magdeburg

November 4, 2017

GOD COMPARES THE SOUL TO FOUR THINGS

You taste like the grape; you are fragrant as balsam; you shine like the sun; you are an addition to my highest love.

THE SOUL PRAISES GOD IN FIVE THINGS

O you pouring God in your giving!  O you flowing God in your love!  O you burning God in your desire!  O you melting God in the union with your beloved!  O you resting God on my breasts, without whom I cannot be!

GOD SPEAKS ENDEARMENTS TO THE SOUL IN SIX THINGS

You are the pillow for my head, my bed of delight, my most secret rest, my deepest desire, my highest honor.  You are a pleasure of my divinity, a consolation of my humanity, a brook for my torch.

THE SOUL RETURNS GOD’S PRAISE IN SIX THINGS

You are my mountain of glass, the feast of my eyes, the loss of my self, the storm of my heart, the dissolution and ruin of my nature, my highest security.

~From Martin Buber’s Ecstatic Confessions, which is the long form version of the beloved meme #shitmysticssay

A Romantic Send-Off

October 18, 2017

Two days ago in London the sky was a burnt sienna-color; many outlets called it “Martian,” which is not inaccurate.

“What’s the weather like by you now?” my husband texted me from work.  “My colleague says the sky is yellow because it’s Saharan dust.”

“Apocalyptic,” wrote a friend from her houseboat in Tottenham Hale.  When I said it was allegedly Saharan dust, she responded, “Yes, and Iberian fire!”

Apparently Ophelia, that dark strumpet, had kicked up Saharan dust and Iberian fire and colored the skies here an eerie yellow-red haze.  Don’t you think “Ophelian Sky” is a good name for a musk-y perfume––or maybe “Saharan Dust” and “Iberian Fire” could be the latest in the Dior Homme range?

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Yet Another Comment on Harvey Weinstein

October 14, 2017

Trigger warning for my husband, who is so far past peak Weinstein he’s living in the future we all want to inhabit. Don’t read on, honey!

So obviously I followed the Weinstein horror story, like everyone else did.  I was going to write an essay much like the below, but then I got a little grossed out by all the op-eds and think pieces, some of which were obviously hastily conceived and outrageous (AHEM) while others benign but obvious attempts by journalists and pundits to get a piece of the pie, meaning clicks and then money, thereby benefiting from the pain and havoc.  (Like, did we really need Mayim Bialy’s take on the matter?  Which includes a weirdly self-critical note about how, because she’s not a conventional beauty, no producers ever invited her upstairs?)  But only a few––heroes every one!––read my blog, and I could never figure out how to opt-in on WordPress ads, so I don’t make any money from this, which means I can rant without feeling like a bottom-feeder.

I’ll be succinct, or attempt to be: Of course I wasn’t surprised to see that Weinstein immediately adopted the language of therapy––he talked of bringing therapists onto his “team,” of “issues” (others in his vicinity used “demons,” a peculiarly resilient holdout from the era of possession as mental illness), and of possibly going to a “facility somewhere.”  This was literally his only possible course of action––he’s calculating, and realized denial would have played way, way worse––but it galls, because it suggests that therapy––which I think of as essentially a luxury for most of what Freud might deem the “commonly unhappy” which is most of us––has officially reached the point at which it can be used in an attempt to downplay the severity of one’s crimes against others and relinquish responsibility for one’s actions.  (See also: Mel Gibson’s abhorrent anti-semitic rant and fucking WIFE BEATING, which now are mostly brushed off by the establishment as solely the result of alcoholism, in remission due to counseling––and yet strangely, I know many recovering alcoholics who managed, throughout the duration of their drinking, to never claim that Jews started all the world’s wars or hit their partners.  Curious!)

I am not saying that intensive therapeutic treatment isn’t ever useful or appropriate.  For one, anyone with an acute and recognized (sex addiction is not included in the DSM) mental illness that hasn’t committed a crime.  Also, if someone has committed a crime, but hasn’t, for socio-economic reasons, had access to quality counseling ever––say, an inner city drug addict, or a mentally ill person from a very insular religious enclave, like the Amish––a treatment program is probably a better first line of defense than prison.

But Harvey Weinstein comes from a rarefied world in which people go to therapy for all kinds of banal reasons.  There’s no stigma attached to seeing a shrink amongst Hollywood bigwigs and New York intellectuals.  The odds are good HW’s been to a psychologist himself before.  He’s a Woody Allen fan (see what I did there?) so at the very least he knows about the concept of psychoanalysis.  The fact that he failed to enact change in his life up until this point indicates that he either tried to make use of the no doubt abundant therapeutic resources he had access to and couldn’t (which doesn’t mean the therapy didn’t work for him, it means he didn’t work hard enough at the therapy) OR didn’t give enough of a fuck to even explore said resources for this “issue.”  I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume it’s the latter.

I could cite some recent events and studies––including the story about a sex offender treatment program at a prison here in England that actually made prisoners more likely to reoffend, because the constant discussion of sexual violence and deviance “normalized” the activity––or maybe the study about mindfulness (no doubt on menu at the Meadows) making criminals more likely to reoffend as well, because it encouraged them to “not judge themselves” HAHAHAHA––but I won’t, because I don’t think I need to.  I’m guessing that a lot of people are hearing that Harvey’s headed to a plush rehab facility and thinking, “Oh Gawd.”  (Except for maybe this sex addiction therapist interviewed by the The Cut, who claims that “I’ve never met people who suffer more than [sex addicts.]”  Gee, Deborah Schiller, I can think of at least thirty women who have suffered more than a certain sex addict has.)  I’m guessing a lot of people are feeling that talking about his childhood to a kindly Arizonan wearing jade earrings and elbowing the guy with the DTs out of the way to get to the make-your-own-omelet station is not the way to get back in our good graces.  I’m guessing the Meadows is even a step above Pine Grove, where the Cut lady works: “[The sex addicts] have a nice big gazebo out front, they have cookouts out there, ping-pong, and foosball, and they can sit around a picnic table under that gazebo.”  I have assaulted zero people in my life, and I don’t have a big gazebo.  Jussayin.

So how exactly should a man like Weinstein make good?  He should find a way to donate all his money to charity without having his name attached to it.  In so doing, he should steer clear of causes that are linked to entertainment or maybe even women’s groups.  Children’s cancer seems like a safe bet.  He should sell all his belongings, and give away that money, too.  He should then don the robes of a religious mendicant, and find a cave to live in, probably outside of North America.  Said cave should be as isolated as possible, so he is extremely unlikely to come into contact with other human beings (let alone a therapist––something tells me that for a man like HW, not talking about himself would be a more fitting fate, than being given a captive audience––or, G-d forbid, a woman.)  If he is found and––the horror!––photographed, he should move caves immediately.  He should survive on insects, leaves, and rainwater.  He should remain in the cave, while his executors handle the occasional cleansing of his coffers when they refill with Miramax dough, until he dies.  The end.

 

Essays That No One Would Publish (Again)

October 1, 2017

Bored With Dressing a Baby Boy? Try Elf-Core

When I was pregnant, and people found out I didn’t know the sex of the baby, they’d often say, “Well, either one is great of course, but girls are just much more fun to dress.” It sounds weirdly gendered, and it is, but it’s also totally true. First, there’s just a much larger variety out there for girls (they can also dip into the boys’ stuff more often than the reverse is true, because the patriarchy lives!) With girls, for example, you can play with both hats and the little bows people insist on strapping to their newborns’ bald heads. You can buy sweet onesies and tiny dresses, mini-jeans and bloomers. With boys, well, most often well-wishers will resort to gifting you those awful message vests, with weirdly racy phrases like “Lock up your daughters” emblazoned across the front.

Of course, if you happen to be a woman, which I am, and you even slightly enjoy clothing, which I do, there’s the added pleasure of being able to dress your little girl in the outfits you wish you came in adult sizes. Smocked floral dresses with thick woolen tights and pointelle galore: not an easy look to pull off in your early thirties, but lucky for you, you have a human doll to vicariously dress through.

So when I had a son, which I had predicted I would, I was at first a little sad about sartorial opportunities lost, before I hit upon the look that made it all worthwhile, and that is elf-core.

When you hear the word “elf,” you might think of Will Ferrell in the eponymous film, or indeed, of any of Santa’s minions. Not a bad place to start, but not the best fashion template for our purposes. Whatever you do, don’t go by Google alone––that will just lead you to lots of Orlando Bloom fan sites and pictures of young woman who’ve undergone body modification to make their ears pointy. Instead, when dressing your child in elf-core, you should conjure up images of Elizabethan-era elves, and their kin, the elben of German Romanticism: these little guys were often seen as like fairies, in that they were tiny and mischievous, but with stocking caps.

So what is elf-core, you ask? It is earth tones, although you can play with the palette a bit, as I’ve found myself more in the gray and navy realm as of late. It is brown faux-leather booties that look like they belong on a fawn, if a fawn wore booties. As far as material goes, it’s anything you might wear while mucking about in the garden: twill, corduroy, or just plain ole comfy cotton. No jeans––elves don’t do denim. Occasionally, elf-core can benefit from an injection of hippie, with the odd tie-dyed piece, a dose of Sherpa, as fur-lined shoes blend nicely with most ensembles, or even a little lumberjack flannel. Remember, elves are mostly forest dwellers, so any other being, mythical or real-life, that loves a romp in nature can serve as appropriate inspiration.  (On that note, feel free to indulge in the delightful trend of babies wearing hoods with animal ears on them: I feel like elves would totally wear such pieces when going to parties with their creature friends.)

But there is one element of the elf-core look that is absolutely non-negotiable, and that is the pointy hood. My son has a number of items with pointy hoods: a gray cable knit hooded cardigan (which has a pom-pom on its point), a full body, striped sweat suit, and a little navy button-up jacket. I plan to invest in more of these staples soon, because if you’re going for elf-core, \, it’s the fastest route there. In fact, you can often phone in the rest of the outfit if this one element is in place, much like how one can wear pajamas and heels and still be fancy enough for a nightclub.

The true icon of elf-core dressing is David the Gnome. Here you might ask yourself: are gnomes and elves related? Like, as species? Answer: only in Tolkien’s mythology. But, that’s neither here nor there. Instead, what truly matters is that both species of otherworldly creature can dress. David the Gnome, for example, has nailed the pointy hat thing. It is at least fifteen centimeters high, which is how tall David is, and fire engine red. It is a real signature statement piece. On top, he wears a big blue tunic bisected by a thick belt, which is not a necessary accessory for a baby, or at least hasn’t been for mine yet. On the bottom, he wears blowsy khaki trousers and shoes that are either repurposed potato sacks or Uggs. Truly the fashion role model of our time.

Still feeling a little confused as to how to nail elf-core? A bit more elf-spo: think Frodo Baggins, think shearling (it’s kind of an autumn-winter specific look), think the verdant hills of Ireland. Sometimes when I see my son in his best elf-core get-up, I think, “If only he had a giant gnarled piece of wood to use as a walking stick. And could, you know, walk.”

If that still doesn’t set your mind racing with ideas, check out my elf-core picks, below:

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Knit hat from Latvia

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Reversible striped CAPE

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Knitted jumper with feet

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Peruvian booties

 

 

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Chunky sweater

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Waffle knit body suit

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Korean mushroom hat

Gifts

September 27, 2017

A while back, I compiled a list of gifts that Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith gave to one another in Just Kids.  I often find myself gravitating towards the gift described in memoirs or books; authors, I’ve noticed, tend to include them as details when they are particularly special or poignant.  Case in point: Jeannie Vanasco’s upcoming memoir The Glass Eye.  It’s not as long as the Smith-Mapplethorpe one, but I still love it (and admittedly it might be longer, as I didn’t do an exhaustive search).

Gifts Received by Jeannie Vanasco in The Glass Eye (different givers)

A small doll from Sicily

colorful barettes

old coins

hangers with illustrated wooden cat heads

vials of sand from Jerusalem

a pair of earrings that looked like pale orange pearls

Twenty books (in one package)

 

Eek

September 19, 2017

This picture from one of my kid’s books looks a little too much like Slender Man for my comfort.

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