Put Me in Your Will, Mr. Waters

June 3, 2019

There’s a new article out about John Waters, which focuses on his art collection, one of my favorite topics.  You’ll recall, I’m sure, that many years ago I wrote him a note offering to be caretaker of his art collection when he dies.  I would probably strike a different tone now, but what’s done is done.

The new piece features a number of pictures of Waters’s pieces from my favorite “genre” of art, trompe l’oeil!  The toilet paper dispenser, light switch, olives, playing cards and pencil in these pictures are fake!  Basically my dream is to have an apartment riddled with fake things just to confuse my guests.

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You Don’t Need That, Either

May 20, 2019

In the past few years, I’ve read myriad lists of what you NEED to buy for a baby, many written by people who claim expertise for one reason or another (they have kids, they write about having kids, or both).  This latest, by writer Emily Gould, attempts to once again be the last word on what you need when you have a baby, and she does a good deed by naysaying some of the things people believe are essential but aren’t really (like baby monitors, particularly if you live in small dwellings) and yet it, too, includes a number of things that are not necessary.  I know no one will read this, but allow me to be, once and for all, the most minimalist of all minimalist parents and tell you what you really and truly need:

  1. Baby clothes.  Ideally kimono-style onesies.  ZERO pairs of infant socks.  They will inevitably fall off.  Burn all the infant socks you get on a tiny bonfire.  Zutano-style booties are only option for infants.
  2. A baby carrier.  It doesn’t really matter what kind.
  3. A carseat
  4. A bassinet or crib.
  5. ZERO SLEEP SACKS OR SWADDLES OF ANY KIND.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  You can swaddle your baby in little blankets until they start fighting them, and then you can wean them off swaddles as early as four months.  I actually think these swaddles are doubly egregious as a “must have” baby item, because so many basically guarantee they’ll put your children to sleep and of course, no product is magical like that.
  6. You don’t need a baby bathtub.  Use the sink until they can sit, then use a regular bathtub.
  7. Some kind of seat for the baby: we have a Bjorn bouncy chair, and it’s great.
  8. NO BREASTFEEDING PILLOW.  Use a regular fucking pillow, it is the same thing. 
  9. Bottles.
  10. For mom: at least one pair of shoes you don’t need to bend down to put on or lace up.

THAT IS LITERALLY IT.  Don’t even make a registry.  You’re welcome.

Rage!

May 10, 2019

A few years ago, I wrote about how Tennessee Williams’s brother refused to honor his last wish to be buried at sea.  This week, while reading Assia Wevill’s biography, I learned that Ted Hughes also refused to honor her wish to be buried in a small country cemetery in England, and for her epitaph to read, “Here lies a lover of unreason and an exile.”  But of course Hughes the SCOUNDREL had her cremated.  Okay, so he did apparently spread them in a churchyard in Kent somewhere, but that isn’t good enough!  Since there is no body to be recovered here, I suggest we erect a gravestone as a memorial.  If I were a conceptual artist I would do this.

I know it’s cliched to hate Ted Hughes but I do, I really do.

This post brought to you by someone who one night this week downed a glass of port and cried copiously about the untimely end of Shura Wevill-Hughes.

RIP

May 6, 2019

“War and violence, it has been said, are as old as mankind.  The vision of peace is perhaps as old as civilization.  Since the most ancient times, as techniques of mass killing have mounted from the sling and the spear to the cannon, Gatling gun and the supersonic missiles outfitted to kill whole cities, there have been voices counseling an alternative way.  These are the voices of the pacifist conscience––seldom heeded, yet perennially posing a choice for each generation.  Historically, it was usually in turbulent times that men’s thoughts turned most to peace, and such a time is the present.

“The terms in which the choice is set before us today are by no means simple and easy.  The use of violence in the resolution of differences has implications which were never more frightening.  Total destruction is now a practical possibility.  We have two objects: we must find adequate ways of making peace and we must learn to achieve social goals without resorting to violence.”

~The Pacifist Conscience by Peter Mayer

Additions to List

April 28, 2019

Back in this post, I said there should be names for films that use either regular people to play characters much like themselves/non-professional actors exclusively or a mix of professional and non-professional actors.  Kind of like, filmic auto-fiction?  Anyway, I named a few movies that fall into this category, but I have some more to add: La Pointe Court (Agnes Varda) and Man of Aran.  I’m sure there must be a name for this type of cinema, so please, by all means, can some snobby first year film MFA student school me on this?

Relate?

April 4, 2019

“If I had a dollar for every time I wish someone I loved dead, I’d be the richest woman in the world.”  ~Big Love

Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, Trans-Asians (Alternative Title: Ugh)

March 26, 2019

This just strikes me as the most entitled white male writer shit ever.  A TIBET OF THE MIND?!  If these guys were alive and tweeting in 2019 they’d be flayed alive.

“Thinking to have a horoscope of Durrell drawn up, [Miller] asked for details of his birth.  Told that he had lived on the borders of Tibet, close to the Forbidden Land, he was thrilled, he said, because he himself was a Chinese at heart.  Miller‘s interest soon took Durrell back to his childhood in Darjeeling, and, soon after, he discovered My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neal, who had gone on foot to Lhasa in 1923.  It confirmed his Tibetan ‘ancestry’ and he began to cultivate his ‘Tibetan’ side, claiming he lived in a sort of Tibet of the mind.  If Miller was a Chinaman, then he himself was a Tibetan.”

Through the Dark Labyrinth: A Biography of Lawrence Durrell, Gordon Bowers

True Crime

March 21, 2019

You know how true crime is big?  Of course you do!  And true crime podcasts are the BIGGEST!  You are definitely plugged in enough to know that.  Well, while researching an article about an Amish thing, I came across this old news story, and I’m convinced it’s the next big true crime podcast subject (it’s basically a solved murder, but they’ve made well-reviewed podcasts about Charles Manson, so I don’t think knowing who did it is that much of a deterrent).  I would love to do some of the work on this, but the thing is, only some of it: pitching it, organizing interviews and travel, arranging for advertising, etc., I’d prefer someone else do.  Do you think Sarah Koenig is free?

A trailer:

The break came in 1987, when Reader’s Digest published an article about Little Boy Blue. A woman in northern Ohio, a member of an Amish community, read the story and wondered whether the mystery boy was a relative who had not been seen for several years. She contacted authorities, who, in the days before forensic DNA testing, used a fingerprint to confirm the identification.

Little Boy Blue was Danny Stutzman, a 9-year-old from Dalton, Ohio. The sheriff and Nebraska State Patrol investigator Jack Wyant furiously searched for the boy’s father, Eli Stutzman. They found him in Azle, Texas, almost two years from the date of Danny’s discovery in Nebraska.

I mean, it’s a gay Amish murder story.  Gold, Jerry!

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Privilege-O-Meter

March 7, 2019

I’m having one of those days when I’m obsessing over the fact that everyone seems so careless and self-centered––and I have those days a lot, which says more about me than it does about people––so I keep trying to do the whole “this is water” thing.  You know, the David Foster Wallace speech?  Where he talks about how you shouldn’t assume people acting like dicks are dicks because they could be dealing with something way worse than you are?  Herewith, a (long) bit of the stuff I’m talking about:

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.

But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

So of course, today while I was trying to convince myself not to burn down the whole damn thing and doing my “this is water” TM mantra thing, all of a sudden it occurred to me: what if some of these people really are just dicks?  Or what if they’re not, they’re just normal people, but their lives are actually easier than mine and therefore they should be all “this is water”-ing me?  Am I still supposed to give everyone a pass for not holding the door of the bodega open for me while I try to wheel out my mammoth baby buggy with my toddler yelling inside MOMMY, MELON and my baby strapped to my chest starting to wake up and root around to suction on to me like a hungry barnacle?  Or is that millennial on her iPhone really just a lazy POS who didn’t see me struggling because she was texting about Kylie Kardashian’s lip balm?

I have an idea for the dystopic disruptors out there (I know there are a lot of you!): make some kind of program or app or something, that gives everyone a privilege rating, so that if you come into contact with someone who treats you poorly, you can just look up their number (or see it in your eyeballs or whatever Google is up to these days) and then you’ll know if you should forgive them or street fight them (or, let’s be real, just curse them in your mind).

In the words of Ken Jennings: BOOM, I just made a Black Mirror.

We Are Living in End Times Part a Million

March 3, 2019

This is sadly not fake news:

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And by “this is not fake news,” I mean these are actual things people have published and thought people would care about recently.