Friday, May 22, 2015


Weekend Roundup / Open Thread

AaAaaaAAahHhhHhhhhhHh Friday. What a wild and crazy week this was!! I mean, I spent most of it in the office typing and occasionally quietly loling and then quickly looking up to see if anyone noticed, but it felt crazy. How was your week? What did you do? What did you wear? I wore sneakers one day!! It was liberating.

This week we ended by celebrating World Goth Day and the characters from Literotica stories who are "domes." Sofia spoke to the founders of Discwoman and Baba Yaga assuaged our money/work-related fears. If you're feeling lazy, Sulagna has the perfect Indian recipes for you; if you're feeling pathetic, Alex has the perfect playlist; if you're feeling like you want a bra, Denise knows just how to help you. Perhaps the most important thing we did this week was this list. Do you agree with our rankings? Disagree? TELL US.

Hairpin contributor Sarah Hagi had a really lovely essay on Buzzfeed Ideas this week. Here's a particularly good paragraph:

Growing up in Canada, we’re told we’re a part of a “cultural mosaic,” a group of cultures and languages that co-exist — distinct from America’s melting pot of cultural assimilation. The trouble with the mosaic approach is that being different is the last thing anyone wants growing up, no matter where you or your parents were born. I was Canadian enough to not be an outcast, but there were still constant reminders that I would never be seen as fully Canadian. Some things, like my skin color and headscarf, seemed to give others permission to ask where I was really from. As I grew older, remittance became one of the most subtle and most meaningful reminders of my heritage.

You can read the whole thing here.

And I know everyone has been posting this Jamie xx song all week, but I mean, why stop now? Let's listen to it a few more times before heading into our long weekend. We'll be back on Tuesday. What will you be doing? What will you wear?? May I suggest: sneakers. Ok let me know byeeeeee.

The Luxury Bag vs. the Unemployed Reporter

Financially, things have not been going well for me since July 17, 2014, when I was laid off by the newspaper where I worked for eighteen months. That's 10 months without full-time work, folks. Recently my unemployment ran out. In January my father died. I've had two sprained ankles for I don't know how long. It's kind of been a mess.

My mother was in town recently, and she significantly unburdened me for the next two months, giving me some cash for my rent (which, in Greenpoint, is to be paid in cash), COBRA, new glasses, etc. I wouldn't still be living in a tiny, cheap apartment in Brooklyn, plus roommate, if it weren't for her generosity.

We had fun during her stay: sleeping at the Waldorf, eating in great, expensive restaurants ($250 at Carbone, including two $15 Irish whiskeys for me and no wine for mom), going to plays, wandering around Saks. She bought me a cute, sporty dress by the Kooples that, after a 40% discount, cost $186.

Perhaps all this luxurious living on what felt like a vacation made me lustful. Like most broke people, I do not (cannot!) spend more than the bare minimum on the essentials, plus food or whatever. Any luxury I had when I had a job has long been cut down to the bone. It's fine; I’m not whining. READ MORE


Every Day Is World Goth Day (But Especially Today)

Wake up! Do you smell the pungent aroma of clove cigarettes in the air? Can you hear the opening strains of Ministry’s "(Every Day Is) Halloween" faintly tinkling in the distance? For today is not like other days. Today is World Goth Day. It’s time to crack out your finest black apparel—preferably floor-length and/or lace—and join in the celebration. There will be no parade or gaudy fireworks, only unsmiling nods to acknowledge the existence of other denizens of darkness you may pass on the street.

Much like World Sword Swallower’s Day, or World Cheese Doodle Day, World Goth Day was borne out of the idea that if you have an obscure interest meaningful enough to you, it deserves to have its own day. As it says on the World Goth Day website, “There are quite a few Goths who have fought damn hard to retain their identity despite peer pressure, family pressure and indeed, any pressure to conform. And if you've gone to all that trouble to preserve what you believe is the 'real you', don't you think you owe it to yourself to shine for a day?”

At age 15 I had a Vampirefreaks.com account, where I spent the majority of my time pining over a boy from a neighbouring high school who wore eyeliner and a lot of rings. I started the account as a way to talk to him but eventually got into the website on my own terms: posting competitively overexposed photos of myself, rating other members, and entertaining philosophical conversations with a mysterious 40-year-old stranger from Britain who celebrated Pagan holidays. While I did not manage to ensnare the man of my dreams on Vampirefreaks.com, I did end up meeting my first boyfriend there. He was a video game nerd and listened to In Flames. I think he’s a software engineer now.

To honor the teen goth that lives within us all, I interviewed one of the founders of World Goth Day, DJ Cruel Britannia—a middle-aged goth with long black hair and a cheeky sense of humour—over Skype from his home in Telford, UK. About a half hour before the interview I felt the compulsive urge to vomit. All things considered, social anxiety is a pretty goth thing to feel on the emotional spectrum.

We talked about the legitimacy of health goth, how much Latinos love Morrissey, and the completely sensible reasons for holding World Goth Day in spring, among other dark and dour subjects. READ MORE


Characters in Literotica Stories Who are Domes

you filthy bitch

offers to dome


Glass Candy, "Miss Broadway"

Cmon bb


How To Dress Like

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 1.29.44 PM
Sometimes I just want to be told what to do and how to do it. Thank you, Emily Spivak, for facilitating that desire with this absolutely perfect website.

Friedan's Village


Long before Betty Friedan gave voice to American women’s discontent in her groundbreaking classic, The Feminine Mystique, she was a young mother and wife living in Parkway Village, a tiny, planned garden apartment complex in Queens, New York. This vanguard utopian, international, and interracial community served as her incubator and muse, allowing Friedan to rethink the norm for post-war American families. I grew up there, and though Friedan departed eight years before my family moved in, she was so legendary that I was sure she lived across from me, her parties spilling onto her patio.

Built after World War II, Parkway Village was the brainchild of Robert Moses: a forty-acre enclave of garden apartments for foreign United Nations employees, many of whom could not find housing because of racial discrimination. Unlike other huge developments that explicitly forbid people of color, such as Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, Parkway Village was open to all races, because no housing for UN employees could violate the UN Charter, which required no "distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."

As a result, Parkway blossomed into an oasis of racial integration and international cooperation that was profiled in newspapers and magazines like the New York Times and Collier’s, which characterized it as “living proof” that the ideals of the UN “can work out on Main Street.” Ralph Bunche, the first man of color to win a Nobel Peace Prize lived there, as did Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP, as well as Babe Ruth’s widow, who was known to give nice tips and hot chocolate to the boys who shoveled her walk. Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Truman came to visit the cooperative nursery school; Paul Robeson’s wife used to show up for parties. The local children were gathered and photographed for the cover of a seminal jazz album, Evolution of the Blues. And Latin American author Ariel Dorfman would remember Parkway Village as an international paradise, before McCarthyism drove his leftist father out of the UN and the country.



Girls To The Front: An Interview With The Founders Of Discwoman

Dance music was once the music of outsiders. Before electronic music's influence seeped into mainstream Top 40 pop songs, it was created by and for members of the LGBTQA community. Dance parties are one of the few events where I can go solo and not have to worry about the anxiety that I often experience while being in a room full of strangers.

But I know dance music is neither a utopia nor an entirely safe haven; for one, there’s the lack of female-identified DJs who receive the same kind of equal representation that their male-identified counterparts receive. The numbers prove it. Female:Pressure, a group dedicated to bringing attention to female artists working in electronic music and the digital arts, released a report in 2013 that came to the conclusion that the average female representation at major music festivals was a dismal—but not shocking—8.4 per cent.

Enter Discwoman, a New York City-based collective dedicated to providing a platform for highlighting female-identified electronic dance DJs and artists. Emma Olson (also known as Umfang), Christine Tran, and Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson organized the first Discwoman music festival last September in Brooklyn and are quickly expanding, organizing a tour that brought their parties to cities like San Juan and Puerto Rico. Rather than wait for the big guys to increase the number of female-identified electronic artists play, they took matters into their own hands and provided a platform for female talent.

I spoke to Discwoman shortly after they held their Technofeminism event in New York, impressed and inspired by the success of their events. We discussed our own personal journey with dance music, how they would define the successes of Discwoman and female-identified DJs, and the seemingly gender-fluid nature of techno. Discwoman is one of the only group of individuals who are not just flirting with the idea of providing a platform for better female representation in dance music, they’re making things happen. READ MORE


Ask Baba Yaga: Can You Help Me With Work And Money?

Baba money
Transcript after the jump. READ MORE


Grimes, "Vanessa"

Oooooh I'm sleeeeeeeepyyyyyyyyy. Maybe I should be listening to something that will give me more energy, but that would be too logical; I'd rather listen to a song that gives the impression of being horizontal.

Read an Excerpt of Kirsty Logan's 'The Gracekeepers'



Presented by Penguin Random House. Purchase The Gracekeepers here.

The first Callanish knew of the Circus Excalibur was the striped silk of their sails against the gray sky. They approached her tiny island in convoy: the main boat with its bobbing trail of canvas-covered coracles following like ducklings, chained in an obedient line. Ships arrived a dozen a day in the archipelagos, and Callanish knew that the circus folk would have to fight for their place on her island. Tomorrow the dock would be needed for a messenger boat, or a crime crew, or a medic. In a world that is almost entirely sea, placing your feet on land was a privilege that must be earned.

As dusk fell, Callanish loitered at the blackshore, her slippered feet restless on the wooden slats. She watched as the circus crew spilled ashore: a red-faced barrel of a man, trailed by a bird-delicate boy; a trio of tattooed
ladies, hair bright as petals; two gleaming horses left to gum at the seaweed. To a chorus of shouts—hoist! hoist! hoist!—the crew pulled ropes in unison, their limbs slick with saltwater.

Callanish tugged at her white gloves as she watched the circus unfold. She saw how the boat’s sails would become the striped ceiling of the big top; how the wide, flat deck would be the stage. With each billow of sail or tightening of ropes, she inched further off the dock and on to the shore. It was only when the sun dipped below the horizon that she felt the damp chill in her toes and saw how her slippers had darkened with seawater. Oh, she would be in trouble now.

She ran home doing giant steps, leaping high into the air like a circus acrobat, hoping the wind would dry her slippers before her mother saw.



Informative! | May 20, 2015

The Quantified Baby

Last week, I was sitting on the couch at the end of a long day. I had an itch. I pulled out my phone. I opened my email, nothing new; Instagram, no baby photos to post; I didn't even bother opening Twitter. "Oh right, Baby Connect," I said to myself. I opened the app, which I have used to track Zelda's sleeping and eating since she was just a few months old, and saw its familiar home screen. No recent entries. For three days, I had entered nothing. A new phase of life, one where my daughter's sleep-wake cycles are quantified only our heads, had begun.

I didn't come to obsessively tracking her with an app purposefully: It happened, almost, by accident. But I am a controlling, note-taking kind of person, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that it happened. When I began consciously trying to put my daughter on a sleeping schedule, she was just four weeks old. In the first four weeks of her life, we had rolled with the punches, trying to pretend she was sleeping when we wanted to be asleep, and watching with wonder her capacity for daytime snoozing during all manner of racket. But by the time that month had passed we were exhausted, and having read a book called The Baby Whisperer in desperate moments of lucidity, I decided to try to nudge her toward a more human way of sleeping.

The Baby Whisperer (who is sadly RIP) suggested that the link between a baby's eating and sleeping were all-important, and that, therefore, the most important thing was to know precisely when they eat and sleep. Doesn't sound particularly revolutionary, but in the earliest days of parenting, I couldn't have told you how many times a day my baby ate: Ten? Five hundred? When she cried, we fed her. That often seemed to work but it made for a lot of confusion. The Baby Whisperer claimed that if I knew how often she ate, I would begin to see patterns, and patterns, she went on, were the key to knowing when your baby was tired.

So I did what she suggested: I got a notebook. I began writing down every feeding, every time she went to sleep, and every time she woke up. At the earliest point, based on her age—four or five weeks—the chart in the book said she would probably need to sleep after being awake for an hour and a half. On paper, doing the math was sort of complicated: She woke at eight, needed to sleep again ninety minutes later. But she actually went to sleep seventy-five minutes later. Then she should have slept for an hour-and-a-half, but she actually slept for twenty-six minutes, so... when should she sleep again? In an hour-and-a-half? I still have these notebooks. They are horrific enough that I try not to look at them. One day often took three full pages of calculations, and at times, my husband would say, "This is insane, what are you doing? Why are you trying to force her onto a schedule like this?" And he was right—it seemed nuts. But I wasn't REALLY forcing her. I was just observing, writing everything down.

Patterns did emerge, and her sleeping and eating started to look more like the chart in the book, until it eventually looked almost EXACTLY like the chart. I also noted that her moods seemed dramatically improved; she stopped crying so much. This was enough encouragement for me. READ MORE


How A Lazy Person Cooks Indian Food

Chai Tea
For the person who wants to cook Indian food but doesn’t have the patience, time, or wherewithal to learn all the spices and wait for the pot to boil, from an expert in lazy cooking.

Dried ginger (whole)
Tea bag (black)
Tablespoon of milk
Cup of water

Tea strainer

Lemme blow your minds: chai means tea. I KNOW!! So all this time you’ve been saying “chai tea latte,” you’ve actually been saying a “tea tea latte.” This is the world we live in. READ MORE


A Playlist For The Pathetic

hqdefaultVulnerability is hard to accept in ourselves and hard to observe in other women. I want to be strong, but I am often a puddle. I cry in public all the time, out of joy and sadness and irritation and probably boredom, and always completely out of proportion to whatever is happening, just like an old-timey hysteric. I crush hard for all kinds of stupid reasons and it's very humiliating. But I’d like to think of that excess feeling as, I dunno, a gift, and not as evidence of my inherent weakness. I don’t want to feel like my feelings are letting the team down. Feelings are powerful!

Jessica Hopper, in her essay on Lana Del Rey, wrote that she is “thrilled by the prospect of losing herself in this bad boy, finding form in his needs.” Lana radiates weakness—subordination is her strength. She sings as the girl sung about: the muse, the groupie, the wifey. Not so long ago these would have seemed like her only options, which is part of what makes the show so uncomfortable: too soon. But I think Lana is more about self-destruction than acquiescence. She validates the low emotions of many girls and women, people who are people before “the women they want to be." We need icons to make us feel powerful, but also ones to redeem us when we fall way short of composure.

With that in mind, here is a collection of music by deep-feeling women who make their emotions look powerful, women who can be models for us in our pathetic times. READ MORE