Friday, July 25, 2014


Weekend Roundup

me rnWe made it. We found love in a butt rock place and hate at the top of the charts; we fell in love in sickness and health but mostly in sickness, we played Knausgaard bingo, we took stock of our handbags, and we baked a Roman nut tart that called for... fish sauce. We had a personal revelation (although not the one I would have chosen) and celebrated Prince George turning one. We dated women in Paris and re-watched It Happened One Night and read Blake Lively's website for approximately five minutes. We were lonely, we refused to wiggle, we turned 40.

And now it's weekend time! Have a good one.

Photo via LC Nottaasen/Flickr


How Butt Rock Helped Me Find Love

MONSTER BALLADSI fell in love because of butt-rock.

Allow me to tell the tale of how I stopped giving a damn about everyone's beard-strokey, sophisticated tastes in music and found the man of my dreams thanks to Def Leppard and Skid Row and Poison and Mötley Crüe (superfluous umlauts and all); also, Guns-N-Roses, Great White, Damn Yankees, Warrant, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Slaughter, Queensrÿche (there's that umlaut again), Scorpions and Metallica.

I'm in love. On a glory night. Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams. With you and me. And nothing else matters.

To rewind a bit: I met my boyfriend on assignment for an alt-weekly Portland newspaper. The idea was to throw myself into the online dating scene and write about my adventures for the Valentine's Day issue. To rewind a bit more: I’d recently moved to the Pacific Northwest after a split with my partner of four years, and so I took the job with a shrug and a scowl. My breakup, while remarkably amicable, left me heart-sore and well past cynical. True love? A joke.

Anyway, in the past, love always had always hit me hardest on the funny bone. It was too mushy to be taken seriously. My previous partner rarely said he loved me without following up his declaration with a joke and a fart, or a joke about farts. I thought sentiment was for the stupid, for the dim bulbs who didn't know better; I thought romantic comedies were a lie, love songs just fluff radio filler at best and salt in a wound at worst. “Happy in love” spelled “borderline sex addict.”

And by this year I felt myself a jaded spinster and determined to stay that way. But I was also a journalist with an article to write, so, comforted by the fact that I could always cancel my account at a moment's notice, I created a Match.com profile. Like everyone else, I posted flattering pictures of myself. I wrote pithy captions underneath said photos. I hit a button and mumbled at the screen, “Here goes absolutely nothing.”

Cyberspace seemed eager to validate my preconceived notions. Soon my inbox was full of oddly worded missives from the land of the weird: long-haul truckers wanting a ride-along, bikers in search of a bitch, spiritual types who hoped we could “meld” together. I got a flurry of unsolicited dick pics from an HVAC repairman. One dude asked if I would like to meet his mother before I'd even met him. I started to shudder every time I logged on.

Then, a week into the experiment, Eric, a divorced father of three, sent me a polite message. His profile picture showed a handsome man with beautiful blue eyes and a sweet smile. He looked cute. He looked normal. Or, at the very least, not homicidal. With my deadline approaching, I agreed to meet him in a few days for bowling and beer.

It seems so ugly now that I thought about him only in terms of material. I’m cynical, but I don’t get much more cynical than that.

It's hard to say when he stopped being material and started being someone I wanted to know better. Maybe it was halfway through his second terrible bowling game. A former Marine with a great physique, he somehow couldn't throw a strike to save his life. Or it could have been when he talked about his kids, how he talked about them, with a mixture of pride and exasperation and unconditional love. Either way, we left the bowling alley behind for a local pool hall, where, much to my chagrin, the jukebox seemed stuck in a never ending cycle of butt-rock love ballads. READ MORE

The Cost of Breaking Up and Moving Out

One Day

Last month, my relationship of five-plus years ended. Emotionally, it was about 75 percent mutual and 25 percent devastating. Financially, it was 100 percent a huge setback to my savings.

My ex and I had been living together since the summer of 2011. Luckily, we had been careful to split every major bill and purchase over those years, and kept a regular IOU that we tallied up at the end of every month and paid each other back via our separate rent checks.

However, separating our lives and moving out has still been a huge hit to what little I had in savings. A tally of what I have spent so far:

$4.15: Cost of public transportation to take myself and three travel bags to stay with a friend the morning after the break-up

$62.40: Various toiletries and cleaning items I bought to use at my friend’s place that I couldn’t haul with me when I left

$350: Rent I paid my friend to stay in the guest bedroom of her apartment for most of June READ MORE


Why I Have To Be So "Rude"

FUCK YA BRO"Rude" is the #1 song in America; “Rude” is a strong contender for the worst song I have ever heard. For the lucky uninitiated, I can only explain “Rude” like this: it’s the aural equivalent of a man listening to reggae for the first time in his racecar bed, slowly fucking the hole in a Kidz Bop CD.

Here, take a dip, the water's absolutely disgusting!

Ostensibly, the success of Magic!’s “Rude” can at least partially be explained by the history of American top 40's irregular dabbles in reggae, which have tended to appear in the form of one-offs rather than any tangible wave: “I Can See Clearly Now” in 1973, “Red Red Wine” in 1984, Shaggy in 2000. But “Rude” is a reggae song the way a gas station taquito is a formal expression of Mexican cuisine, and I think, if we’re going to situate the song in some larger context, “Rude” is most interesting as an artifact in the realm of ideas. “Rude” is like a Dorito bag that got stuck on a spike of the crown of the Statue of Liberty: it’s a pop object with no content and only as much form as is necessary to deliver brief chemical gratification, which, through an unlikely ascension, becomes newly visible as a pure expression of tragedy, degradation and American garbage. “Rude” is utterly embarrassing and radically unselfconscious, a derpfaced college sophomore defensively grunting FML as he waddles to the closet for toilet paper because he ran out mid-wipe.

The first time I heard “Rude” I thought it was a 1-800-411-PAIN ad, because Detroit radio is currently running one that sounds sort of like a more palatable version of “Rude.” The next couple of times I had the sort of physical reaction I associate with suddenly coming in contact with bees; before my mind could process what was happening, I pawed at my radio dial quickly, ahhh, get it away!

Eventually, because I do spend a lot of time in my car listening to top 40, I let my guard down for long enough to consciously hear the end of the chorus: the “marry that girl” refrain, suggesting cartoon lobsters singing under the sea, and then the “marry her anyway” echo that follows, frenzied and palm-sweaty sentimental, like a sonic blend of Crazytown and Tal Bachman. MARRY DAT GURL, marry her anyway; MARRY DAT GURL, marry her anyway.

Thus was I swept under the horrible surface to briefly swim in the song’s tenuous claim to an idea: “Rude” is one of those songs with a “story.” A drunk second cousin to the “You don’t know you’re beautiful (babe, let me help you with that low self-esteem [WITH MY DICK])” mainstream pop banger, this song takes as its central conceit the retrograde plight of a young man requesting a title transfer. Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life, sings the singer to a dad, the melody wandering downwards to illuminate the fact that this is not a real question. Say yes say yes because I need to know. I am from the South and understand that some people enjoy this “tradition” but it’s also 2014 and the only true “need to know” situation I can imagine is if the daughter is under the age of consent, in which case: ask away. Otherwise, time to do a little less.

About a month ago, I was in Los Angeles and very stoned in the middle of the afternoon and taking an Uber across town. Stuck in traffic, the guy driving sent a string of emails from his Blackberry, pausing only to turn up the radio when “Rude” came on, and then, a few seconds later, turn the song up even more. I accepted this divine message: the light in me needed to salute and honor the light in “Rude.” So I listened closely, wanting to understand. READ MORE

Back in June, Slate published a piece about adults reading books meant for kids, making the case that we should read more sophisticated, age-appropriate material. Three days later, Medium published a response entitled “Why Criticizing Young Adult Fiction is Sexist.” If irritation were fatal, I’d have perished where I sat.

But my patience around other purportedly feminist issues had been tried in smaller ways. Like last year, when Sheryl Sandberg declared that the word “bossy” needed to be reclaimed. #BanBossy, the moms on my Facebook feed chorused, bragging about how they were going to teach their daughters that being bossy was actually great. Now, there is a reasonable conversation to be had about how women’s assertiveness is not valued, but #BanBossy was not my idea of a conversation. It was a cheap commodification of something more complicated.

#BanBossy was just one of the feminist flavors on Facebook that I tasted and immediately wanted to spit out. There is also the persistent complaint about airbrushing in magazines, as if fashion magazines have ever promised to be a woman’s friend, as if someone were forcing us to buy them.

Hot 44-year-old and known David Brooks impersonator Sarah Miller is on TIME today, advocating for messiness and ambiguity where messiness and ambiguity is deserved. | July 25, 2014

All the New Yorker Story Roundups You Should Read While the Stories Are Still Unlocked, As Well As All the New Yorker Stories They Link To

Featured Collection: Profiles, New Yorker

"Isadora," January 10, 1927

"Secrets of the Magus," April 5, 1993

"Covering the Cops," February 17, 1986

"Two Heads," February 12, 2007

"The Man Who Walks on Air," April 5, 1999

"Delta Nights," June 5, 2000

Love Stories, by Deborah Treisman, New Yorker

"What Is Remembered," Alice Munro, February 19, 2001

"The Love of My Life," T. C. Boyle, March 6, 2000

"Reverting to a Wild State," Justin Torres, August 1, 2011

"Jon," George Saunders, January 27, 2013

"The Surrogate," Tessa Hadley, September 15, 2003

"Clara," Roberto Bolaño, August 4, 2008

The New Yorker Opened Its Archive — Here's Where To Start, by the Digg Staff

Regrets Only by Louis Menand

A Pickpocket's Tale by Adam Green

The Apostate by Lawrence Wright

Life At The Top by Adam Higginbotham

Being A Times Square Elmo by Jonathan Blitzer

An S.O.S. In A Saks Bag by Emily Greenhouse

The Chameleon by David Grann



Send Your Message of Hope #VoicesHavePower


'Voices Have Power' is a campaign designed to elevate awareness of (and destroy the stigmas around) domestic violence. Its goal is to encourage a frank discussion about the deep cultural and societal factors that silence victims and perpetuate instances of abuse.

Women (AND men) are sharing their messages of hope via the hashtag #VoicesHavePower. And here's the kicker: For every message of hope Verizon is donating $3 to organizations committed to ending domestic abuse. Check out some of the inspirational messages below and post your own message of hope now.

Dating and domestic violence in the U.S. is an issue that’s largely undiscussed and heavily stigmatized. As a result, victims often feel ashamed or are fearful of speaking out, and would be advocates don't know how to step in and help those in need. In both examples, the challenges of dating and domestic violence in the US — silence and stigmas — are only further perpetuated.

You can help.  READ MORE


Russia Has Lost Control of Their Gecko Sex Satellite

The Foton-M4 research satellite launched on July 19 with five geckos on board. The plan: To observe their mating activities in the zero-gravity conditions of Earth orbit. [...] But shortly after the satellite made its first few orbits, it stopped responding to commands from mission control.

-The best-laid lizards, etc. [Washington Post]


Rustie ft. Danny Brown, "Attak"

This track is an immediate shot of adrenaline: though Scottish producer Rustie and known beast Danny Brown have apparently never met in person, they've got an insane, high-octane chemistry on "Attak," in which Brown's traditionally apeshit flow works deep and quick in the pockets of Rustie's switch and skitter, with the vaguely Yeah Yeah Yeahs-"Rich"-y sirens spiking in the back.


In Sickness and in Health, But Mostly in Sickness

| |I have been sick for most of my life. This is both incredibly simple and incredibly complicated. Here is the short version: my immune system does not know how to protect me. My body attacks itself and I become inflamed. I am always in some type of pain.

I was 14 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease with no known cure. Countless medications, several surgeries, a handful boyfriends, and a few periods of remission later, I was unexpectedly thrust into a new kind of sickness. At 27, without warning, I experienced crippling lower back and hip pain. After months of failed treatments and tests, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a type of autoimmune spinal arthritis common in people with bowel diseases. From then on, my fate as a very slow-moving person in constant need of a restroom was sealed. I cope with my disabilities by perpetuating two possibly false facts: one, that there is humor in illness; two, that one day I will no longer be ill. I have learned that while there is no appropriate time to tell someone that your spine would love nothing more than to fuse with your pelvis, there is definitely a joke in there somewhere.

Before I fell indefinitely ill, I experienced two blissful years of love as a healthy person. Derek kissed me in the music closet on Valentine’s Day in sixth grade. Marcus told me I was beautiful and held my hand at a winter dance. There was a sordid encounter during a matinee screening of Titanic with a boy from another school.

After nearly 15 years of practice, I can assure you that there is a specific look reserved for the moment someone realizes you are fragile. I used to prep prospective partners for this when first dating them. “I have this illness,” I’d explain. “I may look okay now. This is the fun part. We are drinking gin and laughing and my hair smells nice and we’re telling each other our greatest hits stories but one day I will inevitably drop off the radar or my medication will fail. I’ll find myself in need of a gastroenterologist, a rheumatologist, and a steady hand.” My hair does not smell nice at the hospital. They do not serve gin there, but most of the time there’s morphine.

Men my age, single men, have not mastered the art of concealing their reactions when faced with the prospect of a breakable me. It’s more delicate than horror, slight enough that I’ve had to see it again and again to notice. And even then only after looking backwards to figure out what went wrong.  READ MORE


Call 1-800-Adopt-A-Dude Today

Melissa Hunter, who you may remember from Adult Wednesday Addams, brings our attention to the tragic and ongoing social epidemic of men who fail to meet even their most basic human needs. Will you be an angel for a fully grown, yet utterly helpless man?

Expenses Relating to My Wedding That I Couldn’t Possibly Have Anticipated

just married

Eyebrow Wax, $9
"Hello," I said to the owner of the sewing shop. A beautiful tulle-and-satin creation hung from a hook by the cash register. "Here’s my dress! I love it so much!"

"This is your dress?" she asked from behind a wall, around the corner of which I could see a huge wooden table covered in lace and pins. "Oh, good. It’ll be ready tomorrow."

This was the Monday before my wedding.

I had intended to come to pick up the dress on Saturday, but had been told then by this very shop owner not to come. That day, I took a five-minute breather in my car alone (which would actually have been TLC gold) before arranging to leave work early to retrieve it on Monday afternoon.

"No it won’t," I said. "I already took off work today."

Giving orders this way was out of the ordinary for me. I am not an Assertive Person, but I am an impatient one who is running very low on PTO due to having a wedding this year. Twenty minutes later, I found myself wandering around the neighborhood where I had attended high school years before, waiting for the last touches to be put on my dress and feeling entirely too much like a Bruce Springsteen song. The nostalgia got to be too much so I ducked into an eyebrow place to numb it with searing pain. READ MORE


“What’s In Your Handbag?” Submission Rejects

What’s in your handbag, Freyja, Norse goddess of love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death?

Gold eyeliner that a friend gave me because she’s a mortal and she wasn’t sure she could pull it off, empty containers of skyr, that strained Icelandic yogurt that I’m super addicted to, an overdue Comcast bill, Garnier bb cream and SO many treats for the nine magical grey cats who pull my chariot, (gluten-free ones for Helga who has a sensitive tummy). I love these creatures, but they’re useless when they have low blood sugar.

What’s in your handbag, Louka, female Tapir recently relocated to a French wildlife park to pair up with male Tapir Thakeray?

Oof, way too much, I always overpack when I travel! I mean, the usual fruit, berries, and leaves, particularly young, tender growth, since I eat like 40 kg of vegetation a day and I wasn’t sure what they’d have on offer here in France. Plus, some calcium chewables which are super important to keep my chisel-shaped incisors healthy so they can process all the leaves I eat. Also, a little Pantene pro-V since I tend to get split ends in hot weather—I leave it on while I’m checking email over coffee and then hop back in the shower to rinse it off. Works like a charm!  READ MORE


The People at Eric Garner's Funeral

Yesterday, Amy K. Nelson went to the funeral of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old Staten Island father and grandfather killed by police chokehold, and asked the attendees why they had come. Their responses, and her photos of them in protest mourning, are worth some time. [Animal New York]


Jessie Ware, "Share It All"

Jessie Ware follows up her new album's sublime lead single "Tough Love" (and its two excellent remixes) with "Share It All," co-written with Romy Madley-Croft, the XX's female frontwoman; it's a lovely collaboration, with Romy's slight, iterative sense of melody and neatly picked guitar fuzzed over and opened up by Ware's eighties synth and generous, weightless voice.