Friday, April 17, 2015


Weekend Roundup / Open Thread

Yesterday I spent a half hour trying to fax paperwork to the Brooklyn Courthouse to prove that I'm self employed so I don't have to do jury duty next week, AND IT WORKED. And of course they refused to let me scan and email all the documents to them, but emailed me that I no longer have to serve. I see you, Brooklyn Federal Courthouse, and your insistence on fax machines even though an easier alternative is clearly available. You don't scare me. I actually wrote about the last time I had jury duty here, and yes I am all for doing my civic duty but right now my duty is to the Hairpin! Also unless the trial is an exact recreation of My Cousin Vinny I'm not interested.

OK what happened this week? Haley fixed our eyeliner and it was Selena's birthday. We talked about losing hair, and self-care, and made some nachos. We are all Team Grover, we are all Beach Witches, and we are all definitely spending this weekend learning to breed fancy pigeons. Also let's listen to "American Oxygen" one to fifty more times.

If you have not read "Empathy, In Excess" yet, please do so now, and then come back because THIS LINE, YOU GUYS: "His fragility was his weapon. His helplessness was his weapon. His attempts to mirror whatever I said about him back onto me were his weapons, and all of it worked." Just, that's it! That's these relationships, distilled! Also great is Beejoli on being told cultural appropriation isn't a big deal, Chris Offutt on the coded class judgments of "trash food," and I wrote a piece on the TLC show Four Weddings and my husband did Moneyball to the statistics and I have no idea why he indulges me so.

What are you up to this weekend? You got friends coming over? Am I invited?


What is the Very Last Thing a Woman Wants to See in Bed?


A disembodied horse head

A Juggalo

The following Pokémon: Psyduck, Jigglypuff, Wigglypuff, Snorlax, Charmander (Charizard ok)

A book called "The Best Practical Jokes to Play While She's Asleep"

Three kids in a trench coat

Pizza the Hutt (the Jabba the Hutt parody from Spaceballs)

A cursed amulet

Anything cursed, really

An improv troupe

A portal to another world that seems idyllic at first but is actually quite sinister

What the article was actually about: READ MORE

Patrolling the Queer Craigslist


Queer Exchange, a Facebook group that has been active since 2011, is an online market for NYC’s queer community. As the group has grown to more than seventeen thousand members, moderators Edgar Díaz and Ariel Speed Wagon have done their best to preserve the right balance between commerce and discourse—“Queer Exchange still wants you to trade coats and pots and pans and barbers…and isn’t really interested in talking it over”—and to stamp out the occasional thread that erupts in flames.

Though it was created to facilitate trades, not discussions, the group is queer and this is the internet, so arguments over racism, classism, ableism, and transphobia; how to pay library fees; what to charge for theater tickets; and whether it’s OK to re-home a cat are inevitable. The other day, we chatted about the demands of moderation, the limits of running a messaging board on Facebook, and how internet drama erupts in even in a group that rejects gender binaries, hierarchies, and heteronormativity.

How did you get involved with Queer Exchange?

Ariel: Robyn Overstreet started Queer Exchange. It was her baby. She’s this genius who wanted to make a space for her friends and her friends’ friends to exchange stuff and find queer-friendly housing and jobs. Little by little they needed more moderators. I had spent time on strapon.org, which was this legendary hard-ass, third-wave feminist message board that came out of the Chainsaw Records message boards. I wasn't a moderator there, but I spent a lot of time watching and fighting out incredibly heart-wrenching political things on the Internet. I was also a part of various BBSes and—this is embarrassing—on LiveJournal communities. So, at one point Robyn was like, you should just moderate Queer Exchange.

Edgar: Like Ariel, I'd moderated in contentious spaces online before too, mainly at r/Gaybros and r/Gaymers on reddit. I had a reputation for calling oppressive things out there. I'm pretty sure I joined Queer Exchange when it already had several thousand people in it and I would report posts to the mods. I wasn’t looking out for things that were oppressive, just posts that didn’t belong there. Because of my diligence flagging things, I was invited to moderate.



How To Breed Fancy Pigeons

White FrillbackSMALLYou don’t know it yet, but there is a Pigeon Fancier inside of you just cooing to get out. Sure, you think that your passion for books, roller derby, crafts, or S&M is what truly sets your heart ablaze, but that is only because you haven’t tried breeding your own Fancy Pigeons.

My passion for pigeons first ignited in New York City: while my college friends took in the breathtaking skyscrapers, bluegrass accordion acts, and breakdance battles in the cultural epicenter of the universe, I watched the city's pigeons do their funny pigeon dance and giggled like a woman in love. I was tickled by their little iridescent heads bobbing about on their chubby pigeon bodies as they casually weaved around frantic New Yorkers rushing to do all the important things important New Yorkers do. It brought me peace to know that while I was fretting about school, work and finding love, the pigeons were crapping at will, copulating on the Statue of Liberty, and eating leftover pizza.

When I finally found love with Sam, my now-husband, I kept room in my heart for my feathered friends. After a raucous night at Medieval Times, Sam and I had our first kiss at a bus stop on the side of the New Jersey highway as pigeons encircled us under the stars. When Sam and I moved in together, we awoke each morning to pigeons chortling their festive pigeon songs on the windowsill of our sixth floor walk-up. Sam was less than thrilled with this noisy start to the day, but I greeted the pigeons like a modern day Sleeping Beauty, trilling “Good morning Mildred! Good morning Edith!” as I made breakfast and dressed for work.

When Sam got a great job offer out in Los Angeles, we decided to take the plunge and make the move. Los Angeles was sunny, friendly, and full of kale, but I missed my friends, the seasons, the excitement, and of course, the pigeons. Seagulls are cool and all, but they’re not pigeons.

My pigeon nostalgia took on many whimsical and disturbing forms. I began painting pigeons and writing pigeon poetry. It was what I like to call my “Pigeon Renaissance.” This was a time of great creative flourishing where I painted pigeon masterpieces such as "Pigeon by Day" and "Starry Night Pigeon." The pigeons were all-consuming. I’d try to draw something else like a bowl of fruit or a self-portrait, but somehow it would still end up looking like a pigeon. Our apartment took on the aesthetic of John Nash’s office at the end of A Beautiful Mind—he too, was fascinated by pigeons. Sam was supportive of (and amused by) these creative endeavors, but also wanted to know what the fuck was going on and encouraged me to meet some new people, maybe join a club?

After some furious Googling, I discovered The Los Angeles Pigeon Club, a place for special pigeon lovers and their "fancy" pigeons. I met some of the kindest retired senior citizens in the world and learned about breeding fancy pigeons or what Leon Stephens, President of the Los Angeles Pigeon Club, likes to refer to as “bio-artistry”.

Unlike common city pigeons that mate for life, Fancy Pigeons are selectively bred by their owners to enhance desired traits such as enormous tails, unusual coloring, puffy chests, funny feet, or curly wings. For centuries, pigeon enthusiasts around the world have been breeding mutant pigeons to create exotic-looking birds for show. Thousands of pigeon breeders compete internationally to become the next Master Breeder.

I wanted to know more about Fancy Pigeons, so I reached out to LA Pigeon Club Master Breeders, Tally Mezzanatto and Frank Barrachina, for a tutorial. They took me under their wing and invited me to spend an afternoon in their backyard pigeon paradise learning the art of Fancy Pigeons. I have returned to share the wisdom of their experience. READ MORE


I am constantly thinking about how, were I to be tested now the way I was in school, there is no way I'd get into any college or honors classes because I have completely lost my capacity for being tested. My main accomplishment in life is that I will never have to take a test again. Praise hands emoji.

Arift in a sea of digital apps for every imaginable function, we often feel our needs are met better today than in any previous era. But consider the chatelaine, a device popularized in the 18th century that attached to the waist of a woman’s dress, bearing tiny useful accessories, from notebooks to knives.

| April 17, 2015


Rihanna, "American Oxygen"

"This is the new America/we are the new America."

Notes On Utterly Unsuitable Yet Nonetheless Appealing Financial Role Models

Well, let’s see.

There is Gertrude Stein, with her fabulous apartment and endless hosting. Lots of langoustines and literary discussions.

Dorothy Parker and her cocktails.

Dissolute gentlemen in Oscar Wilde plays. Men with good cravats. Dandies in general. Anyone named Beau. Anyone who walks around town all day and considers this an activity.

Counts who hold storytelling competitions in their castles. Counts who get gout. Anyone who gets gout.

The Fitzgeralds.

Heroines in Jane Austen novels. Everyone in Jane Austen novels. Patsy and Edina.

Pride and Prej

Bon vivants and gourmands who sit at cafes for hours while friends stop by to say hello. Anyone who reads and drinks all day and considers this an activity.

Gentlemen scholars. Lady detectives. Lady scholars with magnifying glasses and collections of cool things like bugs. Lady detectives with happy servant sidekicks.

Julia Child. Because she and Paul could afford more in France back then. Also: M.F.K. Fisher. Same reason. All that sole meuniere could make one jealous.

Anyone who owns a jewel-encrusted pet turtle. On a leash. Or a pet wombat, preferably a large one. READ MORE


“What would America be like if we loved Black people as much as we love Black culture?”


This video was posted a couple months ago but has been making the rounds recently, so that's sort of like being timely right? Anyway, this is Amandla Stenberg (you may know her as Rue from The Hunger Games) with a really intelligent explanation of what cultural appropriation is and why it hurts. She focuses on the culture of Black hair, but you can and should extrapolate that to other things. A few days ago I had to watch a friend explain to a guy that no, Indian people wearing jeans is not the same as white girls at Coachella wearing bindis, so yes, a few months late, but still relevant!

(h/t Dazed Digital)

Read the First Chapter of Hermione Eyre's 'Viper Wine'

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Presented by Penguin Random House. Purchase Viper Wine here.

Chapter 1

Venetia stayed late abed that morning.

This was uncharacteristic, but she found she could not rise.

Perhaps she was still angry about the spoiling of the apples. Mistress Elizabeth had not directed the farmhands to it and three barrels at least had been left to mulch. She shouted at her, and then she went to her room and cried. For what? For mouldered apples?

Yesterday she was in her knot garden at the front of the house, clipping the box-hedges using her dainty silver shears—play-gardening, as Kenelm called it — when a youth in the livery of the Earl of Dorset arrived. She put down her basket and smiled her famous smile at the livery boy, the smile Ben Jonson had written a sonnet about, and Peter Oliver painted; the smile that was so much in demand that a royal writ was put out to send any unlicensed copyist to prison, and still copies came. She stood there, her hip askew, so confident, the breeze in her flowing hair, her loose country dress full and soft. “Madam,” said the boy, bowing like a silly sapling, then looking her full in the face. “Could you tell me where to find her most gracious beauty Venetia, Lady Digby?”

He was holding a tall fair lily — a gallant reference, she supposed, to the single fleur-de-lis on Kenelm’s coat of arms—and aflame with nerves and excitement, he glanced back and forth at the house, as if he thought the great dame herself might at any moment appear in a cloud of golden light.

Venetia laughed it off and said, “Why, that lady is before you.” And as the youth looked at her with disbelief, and as his face turned from disappointment to, yes, repulsion, she remembered, as she had to keep remembering, that she was no longer herself. Her teeth were going, though they were always so good, and she had not yet learned to smile without showing them. She saw, in the mirror of his face, as the young boy’s pupils shrank, how much she had changed. And still he did not present her with the lily. Did he think she was a presuming and ironical chambermaid, testing him?


Happy Birthday, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez

When I was a child, my family had a Friday night tradition: my mother would make a big pasta, my dad would crack open a can of Faxe, and my brother and I would argue with them about what music we were going to listen to that evening. It sounds so earnest, so boring, but we really did fight. I’d hide my mom’s Boney M tapes in the laundry while she got into marital spats over my dad’s weird obsession with hammy Mexican singer-songwriters. My brother once snapped my Jewel CD in two.

There were only two albums met with minimal complaints. Both were by Selena Quintanilla-Pérez: Entre a Mi Mundo and Amor Prohibido, two early-nineties releases that propelled the Texas-born Tejano singer into international Latin pop stardom and almost into the English-language market before her death in 1995. Selena made everyone happy. My mom got her cumbia-inflected dance tracks, my dad his mariachi fix, I had my emo love ballads on repeat—and my brother didn’t have to listen to any more Boney M or Jewel.

Aside from being an inexpensive form of family counselling, listening to Selena as a kid filled gaps I’d learned not to see. Singing along in Spanish helped me keep my first language alive, the language I’ve since lost. For years, she was a just-at-home luxury; in part because she wasn’t reflected anywhere in the predominantly white Toronto suburban elementary school I attended, and because even to close family, she was more understood through her brief English-language crossover.

Selena, the 1997 biopic starring Jennifer Lopez , came out the same year our family first got Internet access. I’d seek out photo stills of la reina (the queen, as she’s often called) and show them to my older cousins. “I think Jennifer Lopez is prettier," they'd say.

I’m not so sure Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was a “Mexican Madonna”, as English-language news outlets referred to her in obituaries after her fan club president Yolanda Saldivar shot her in the back in March 1995. The handy nickname misses that as a Spanish0language artist with bourgeoning crossover appeal, she might have stepped into a pop culture status quite different from the one Madonna occupies. In some ways, she already has. READ MORE


Thinkin' 'Bout Consent And Alzheimer's

Can an Alzheimer’s patient with dementia so severe she can’t remember her daughters’ names or how to eat a hamburger consent to have sex with her husband?

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on the case of Henry Rayhons, who has been charged with third-degree felony sexual abuse for having sex with his wife, who suffered from Alzheimer's so severe that her clinicians claim she was incapable of consenting to sex. Science of Us picked up the conversation too, and oh boy, I can't tell if this is complicated or not? On one hand, if Mrs. Rayhons was giving repeated verbal and non-verbal cues that this is what she wanted, we should be trusting her. On the other, we have lots of parameters for who has the capacity to consent, and understand that even if, say, a minor is giving lots of positive verbal cues, it'd still be rape. On a third hand, we tend to infantilize the elderly and infirm. On a fourth, there's a lot we still don't understand about Alzheimer's. I am not the person to solve this but maybe you are.


Ask Baba Yaga: How Can I Get Over A Terrible Boss?

Baba terrible boss
Transcript after the jump. READ MORE


Diana, "New House"

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One of those days.


All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

DINOFUN1. Share everything
2. Play Fair
3. Girls rule, boys drool.
4. A donut made out of Play Doh isn't going to taste like a real donut, even if it has really realistic looking teeny tiny Play Doh sprinkles on it.
5. Play Doh tastes pretty good, though.
6. If you cry, other people will get uncomfortable and compensate by being really nice to you.
7. You can get out of almost anything you don't want to do by claiming you have diarrhea.
8. I promise you, nobody will question you if you say you have diarrhea. READ MORE