Archive for October, 2013

A Glimpse Into My Twisted, Twisted Mind

October 31, 2013

Today, my intern came in wearing a short reddish wig, fake glasses, and a very short red skirt, and I internally panicked.  “Fuck,” I thought, “she’s having an Amanda Bynes-style nervous breakdown.  EVERYONE knows that wigs are the first step.  I’m going to have to call Bellevue and then get in touch with her parents and then maintain a mentor-type relationship with her for years to come, and she’ll show up at my doorstep when I’m 43 with 3 kids in the middle of the night wailing that everyone’s after her and I just am NOT in the mood for this.”

And then I realized: it’s Halloween.

Um, Ew?

October 31, 2013

M and I went to see the Balthus show at the Met on Sunday, and coincidentally, in the new issue of the NYRB I snagged from my office (man this sentence makes me sound pretentious) there was a review of the show by Ian Buruma.  Serendipity!  Here’s a gross fact I learned from the piece:
“His painting The Guitar Lesson shows a music teacher, modeled after Balthus’s own mother, maliciously pulling the hair and pawing the crotch of a half-naked girl in white knee socks sprawled helplessly across her lap. Robert Hughes called this picture of molestation “one of the few masterpieces among erotic paintings by Western artists in the last fifty years.”

The Guitar Lesson, not on view in the Met show, was once stored at the Museum of Modern Art, then sold to the filmmaker Mike Nichols, and now belongs to the Niarchos family—the old shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos had it in his palatial bedroom.”



Non-Catholics for the Pope

October 28, 2013

I would like to thank my fellow NCP members for helping us help Pope Francis reach his goal of 10 million Twitter followers! Below is a news article on the subject:

“Hallelujah! Pope Francis Rejoices After Reaching 10M Twitter followers (Mirror)

As leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, Pope Francis already has something in the region of 1.2 billion followers. But that didn’t stop the technologically-savvy pontiff rejoicing Sunday morning when he hit 10 million followers on Twitter – a relatively conservative figure in comparison. Times Live “Dear followers, I understand there are now over 10 million of you!” Francis wrote on his account, @Pontifex. “I thank you with all my heart and ask you to continue praying for me.” Reuters The first non-European pope in 1,300 years has tripled the number of followers of the @pontifex handles since succeeding Benedict XVI in March, according to the Vatican, which announced Francis had reached 10 million after adding together the followers of all his accounts. This would make the pontiff more popular than The New York Times and just behind rapper Kanye West, according to websites.

“The account was officially opened on Dec. 12, 2012 in times of Pope Benedict XVI, who at the end of his term had over 3 million followers. After the resignation of German Joseph Ratzinger to the chief office of the Catholic Church, the account @Pontifex was suspended until March 17 this year, after the assumption of Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio.”

The next meeting of the NCP membership committee will be on November 1st (All Saints Day). Time and location TBD. For information on joining the group or RSVPing on behalf of your immortal soul, please contact Siobhan, whose newest administrative tasks on behalf of this group will be compensated for after her death.

There Are Two Kinds of Writers in This World

October 22, 2013

“I will send you a note later about the specific difference between those writers who possess the natural confidence that is their birthright, and those fewer writers who are driven by the unnatural courage that comes from no alternative.  It is something like this––some walk on a tightrope, and some continue on the tightrope, and some continue on the tightrope, or continue to walk, even after they find out it is not there.”

~Note from Maeve Brennan to William Maxwell, 1965


October 21, 2013

I have some really good shit on the horizon, I SWEAR, but first, a book written by a fascinating woman named Carolyn Heilbrun, a former Columbia University English professor whose story was told on the Freakonomics podcast about suicide.

Add to wish list immediately

Add to wish list immediately

Oprah Haters, Unite!

October 16, 2013

“[Mr. Packer]  has a few complimentary things to say about Ms. Winfrey, but his section about her amounts to a comprehensive takedown. About her audience he maintains: ‘They had things that she didn’t — children, debts, spare time. They consumed the products that she advertised but would never buy — Maybelline, Jenny Craig, Little Caesars, Ikea. As their financial troubles grew, she would thrill them by selecting one of them and wiping out her debts on the air.

“He goes on: ‘Being instructed in Oprah’s magical thinking (vaccinations cause autism; positive thoughts lead to wealth, love, and success), and watching Oprah always doing more, owning more, not all her viewers began to live their best life.’ It gets harsher from there.”

From a review of George Packer’s NBA-nominated The Unwinding: An Inner HIstory of the New America

Craving, and Found

October 15, 2013

With a little ingenuity, you too can look like the Sartorialist’s photographic subjects!

Sheer white polka dot ankle socks, available at Free People.

Sheer white polka dot ankle socks, available at Free People.

The Asylum in Trude

October 15, 2013

“The Traumhaus was highly selective.  According to a Trumpet survey, one out of three Trudians felt that they could benefit from a stay there, but the ratio of admission was much lower than that––a far cry from the somewhat sluttish admissions policy at Trude U.  The whole process was shrouded in secrecy.  There is no clear science to it.  Sociopaths, schizophrenics, the baroquely mad, were not admitted.  Adolescents were not admitted.  Illiterates were not admitted.  Religious fanatics were not admitted, unless they had personalized their delusions in some compelling way.  The average old were not admitted.  Contented people were generally not admitted, though there were some exceptions.  Typically depressed middle-aged males were not admitted.  My own application to the Traumhaus, honed in the wake of Molly’s disappearance, had been classified in this last category.  It still stung.  I consoled myself by using my visiting privileges three times a week.  The Traumhaus seemed to be the only place where I could find peace.  In the autumn its birches turned yellow and burnt orange, complementing the dark green of the pines almost too well.

“To the charge that it was an ‘elitist institution,’ the Traumhaus responded with tranquil silence.  As the reflection of the building in its pond suggested a castle, an element of gentility clung to the place.  Though I might feel privileged each time I passed through the double doors, there was a sense in which I remained excluded, unselected.  Some who had been living at the Traumhaus for years continued to feel this way at times.  This largely had to do with the presence of the so-called Pinkies, a select caste within Traumhaus culture.  They were special beneficiaries of Bernhard’s will.  It was easy to recognize them by their distinctive shuffling step, their looks to devastation, and the pink bathrobes they wore at all times––markers of a twenty-four-hour suicide watch.  These pampered disconsolates wore clear plastic slippers and received their breakfasts on silver trays.  They occupied the best rooms, overlooking the pond: the Robert Walser Room, the Klaus Mann Chamber, and the Schreber Suite, where Bernhard had spent the last months of his life.  Pinkies were a rare sighting in the Wittgenstein Lounge or any of the other public areas.  When they passed, slippers squeaking on the linoleum, the other residents went silent and gawked at these suffering virtuosos––increasing, one can only imagine, the burden of disappointment and loneliness that had made them Pinkies in the first place.”

~Eric Lundgren, The Facades


October 14, 2013

So I’m totally intrigued by SPAM––where does it come from?  how does it work?  how many people fall for scams via email?––and today got one particularly interesting one that hooked me not because of its nonsensical aspects, but because it, in fact, was legible, coherent, and… well, perhaps a secret message from Allah?  Don’t feel pressured to read the whole thing, even though I did, in case a warning regarding the next big terror plot against America was encoded within.

From: badi

To: —

Sent: Mon, 14 Oct 2013 05:54:22 -0400

Subject: delivered a message to this year’s hajj pilgrims!!!

Supreme Leader’s Hajj Message

Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, delivered a message to this year’s hajj pilgrims. The following is the full text of this message issued on October 11, 2013.


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds and peace and greetings be upon the Master of Prophets and Messengers and upon his immaculate and pure household and chosen companions.


The arrival of the hajj season should be regarded as the great Eid of the Islamic Ummah. The great opportunity which these precious days provide for Muslims throughout the world is like a miraculous elixir. If the value of such days is appreciated and if we benefit from such days in an appropriate way, many of the maladies of the world of Islam will be cured.


Hajj is the bubbling spring of divine blessings. Each and every one of you happy pilgrims has gained the opportunity to cleanse your hearts and souls with these religious practices, which are full of warmth and spirituality, and to collect many blessings for your entire life by using this source of mercy, dignity and power.


In this divine arena of self-edification you can express your humility before Allah the Merciful, carry out the responsibilities which have fallen on the shoulders of Muslims, show enthusiasm and dynamism in the affairs of the world and in your religious duties, offer mercy and forgiveness when you interact with Muslim brothers, demonstrate your courage and determination in the face of difficult events, become hopeful about divine assistance in all arenas and, finally, build your human character the way Muslims should.


When you are ornamented with these precious resources and when you have benefitted from them, then you can offer yourselves as gifts to your country, your nation and the Islamic Ummah.


More than anything else, the Islamic Ummah needs individuals who can utilize thoughts and actions as well as faith, sincerity and purity, who can show resistance in the face of the spiteful enemies as well as exercising self-purification and piety. This is the only way for the liberation of the great Muslim community from the problems which have been created, either by the enemy, or as a result of the lack of determination, faith and foresight among Muslims. Muslims have suffered from these things for a very long time.


Without a doubt, the present era is an era of awakening, one in which Muslims can find their true identity. This truth can be easily discovered through the challenges which Muslims are faced with. It is exactly in such conditions that our determination- which is based on faith, reliance on God, foresight and wisdom- can help Muslim nations achieve victory against these challenges and bring about a dignified and honorable fate for Muslims.


The opposing camp which cannot tolerate Islamic Awakening and the dignity of Muslims has entered the arena with all its power and it is using all kinds of psychological, military, security, economic and propaganda tools to suppress Muslims, make them inactive and busy them with trivial things.


Taking a general look at the conditions of West Asian countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and countries surrounding  the Persian Gulf, and North African countries such as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan and a number of other countries- reveals many truths.



The existence of civil wars, religious and denominational prejudices and political instabilities, the prevalence of cruel terrorism, the emergence of extreme groups and orientations- which like savage tribes in history, cut open the chests of human beings and rip their hearts out with their teeth- the emergence of armed mercenaries who kill women and children, cut off the heads of men and rape women and who do such horrible and disgusting crimes in the name of religion are all the products of the satanic and arrogant plots of foreign intelligence services and their regional agents.


Such plots are implemented in countries in which the ground is prepared before-hand and as a result, they create a disastrous situation for these nations and peoples. In such conditions, it is clear that one cannot expect Muslim nations to remedy their material and spiritual shortcomings and to achieve security, welfare, scientific progress and international dignity which are the results of achieving awakening and finding one’s true identity.


These disastrous conditions can abort the progress of Islamic Awakening, destroy the mental awareness which has been created in the world of Islam, drag Muslims- once more- towards stagnation, isolation and decline and consign to oblivion important and fundamental issues such as the liberation of Palestine and other Muslim nations from the transgressions of the USA and Zionism.

The most important cure for this situation can be summarized in two key phrases, both of which are among the clearest lessons of hajj:


First: unity and brotherhood of Muslims under the flag of monotheism.


Second: knowing the enemy and confronting his plans and methods.


Strengthening the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation is a great lesson of hajj. During hajj, even quarrelling and arguing with others is forbidden. During hajj, wearing the same clothes, following the same practices, making the same moves and behaving in a kind way, all mean equality and brotherhood for all those who believe in and rely on monotheism.


This means that Islam strongly rejects any idea and belief which views a number of Muslims and believers in Ka’bah and monotheism as people who are outside the circle of Islam. These orientations which are based on takfirism, which have become playthings in the hands of the treacherous Zionist politicians and their western supporters- commit serious crimes and shed the blood of Muslims and innocent people, and the people who claim to be religious, who call themselves clerics and who fuel the fire of fitna between Shia and Sunni and other denominations- should know that the hajj pilgrimage will thwart their claims.


It is surprising that those who say it is forbidden to take part in the hajj in order to express one’s opposition to the polytheists – a practice based on the Holy Prophet’s (s.w.a.) Sunnah – are among the most significant elements in provoking bloody conflicts among Muslims.


I, like many Islamic scholars and sympathetic personalities in the Islamic Ummah, announce that any statement or action which fuels the fire of discord among Muslims, any insult to the sacred beliefs of each one of the Muslim denominations and any act of takfirism against Islamic denominations equals serving the camp of atheism and polytheism and betraying Islam. All of these things are haraam.


Knowing the enemy and its methods is the second important factor. First, we should not forget about the existence of a spiteful enemy. Performing the ritual of the stoning of the jamarat during hajj is a symbolic sign of this awareness. Second, we should not make a mistake in knowing the main enemy, who in the present time is global arrogance and the criminal Zionist network.


Third, we should properly identify the methods of this hostile enemy which is creating discord among Muslims, promoting moral and political corruption, threatening and tempting outstanding personalities, exerting economic pressures on all nations and arousing doubts about Islamic beliefs.  Moreover, we should identify their agents and those who are, knowingly or ignorantly, dependent on them.


Arrogant governments, headed by the USA, conceal their true character with the help of comprehensive and advanced propaganda tools. By claiming that they support human rights and democracy, they deceive public opinion in different countries. They speak about the rights of all nations while each day Muslim nations feel- with their bodies and souls- the fire of discord more than the past.


For decades, the oppressed Palestinian nation has been receiving strikes as a result of the crimes of the Zionist regime and its supporters. In the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, terrorism – which originates from the policies of global arrogance and its agents in the region – has ruined the lives of the people.


Syria has come under the attack of arrogant powers and their regional agents because of supporting anti-Zionist orientations and it has experienced a bloody civil war. In Bahrain and Myanmar, Muslims have been ignored and their enemies are supported. Other nations are threatened by the USA and its allies with military attacks, economic sanctions and different acts of sabotage. Taking a general look at all these countries can reveal to all people throughout the world the true face of these leaders of global arrogance.


Political, cultural and religious personalities throughout the world of Islam should consider it their responsibility to draw everyone’s attention to these facts. This is the moral and religious responsibility of all of us. North African countries, which are unfortunately suffering from deep domestic conflicts today, should pay attention to this responsibility more than other countries.  They should pay more attention to the issue of knowing the enemy and its plots and methods.


The continuation of these conflicts among nationalist orientations and Muslims’ negligence about the threat of domestic wars in such countries is a great danger. The loss that may be inflicted on the Islamic Ummah because of such events will not be quickly compensated for.


Of course, we have no doubts that the people who have risen against global arrogance and who have become the embodiment of Islamic Awakening in such countries will not, by Allah’s favor, allow time to go back so much so that the era of the corrupt, dependent and dictatorial rulers starts again. However, ignorance about the role of arrogant powers in creating discord and bringing about destructive interference will create a difficult situation for such countries and will cause a very long delay in achieving an era of dignity, security and welfare.


We believe, from the bottom of our hearts, in the capability of nations and in the power, faith, determination and foresight which Allah the Omniscient has offered to the masses of the people.


For more than three decades, we have seen this in the Islamic Republic with our own eyes and we have experienced it with all our hearts and souls. Our determination is an invitation for all Muslim nations, to this experience of their brothers in this dignified and indefatigable country.


I ask Allah the Exalted to bestow peace on Muslims and to foil the plots of the enemies. I ask Him to accept your hajj pilgrimage and bestow physical and spiritual health on you. I ask Him to provide you pilgrims of the House of God with an overflowing supply of spiritual blessings.


Greetings be upon you and Allah’s Mercy


Sayyid Ali Khamenei

File This Under: All My Obsessions

October 13, 2013

A few years ago, I got to see Amy Sillman’s hilarious “Seating Charts” at Art Basel in Miami, in which she diagrammed which art insiders would sit in which places at various faux dinner parties.  It reminded me of a project I had previously wanted to work on but never could manage (not a laziness but a logistical thing, a flaw in the plan itself.)  I saw it with my bro IS, who yesterday sent me this amazing blog post that compares Sillman to my absolute favorite, the Shulchan Aruch (and the Talmud)!




A brief excerpt of the post:

I am not the first to compare Jewish Law to dinnerware, in fact the preeminent code of Jewish law was called The Shulchan Aruch (Hebrew: שׁוּלחָן עָרוּך‎, literally: “Set Table”) authored in Safed by Sefardic scholar Yosef Karo in 1563.   Ashkenazi Jews follow rulings of Moses Isserles whose glosses to the Shulchan Aruch are widely referred to as the mappah (literally: the “tablecloth”).  Commentaries on the work include Peri Chadash (“New Fruit”) and Megadim (“Dainty Fruit”) culminating in the early 20th century work  Aruch HaShulchan (Hebrew: ערוך השולחן) (“the table is set”)  which attempts to remaster the original recipes of the overly processed rulings of the Shulchan Arukh and identify their sources.