Friday, May 16, 2014


Friday Open Thread

We did it; we've been through nipple removal, revisited our early AOL Bette Midler fandom, figured out just how TMZ does it, placed ourselves firmly in the camp of idiots, talked to Nona Willis Aronowitz about her mother, talked to our mothers about what should go on a blog, decided to put on our seatbelts, moved to Montana to build ourselves a yurt, self-eulogized via Amazon order history, asked a Queer Chick, broke up with our kind but boring boyfriends, and learned to ask ourselves questions that we can answer, such as "Am I writing this right now? Yes." And you're welcome, Chipotle. Do you have grand weekend plans? I am, as is tradition, going to a wedding. Shouts to Michelle for her Tuesday takeover, and we'll see you back here next week.

Photo via Paul Townsend/Flickr


How to Live With Your Mother When You're 37, Childless and Unemployed

1. Try to wake up before your mother goes to her water aerobics class at 9. Even if you're hungover from polishing off that double bottle of Gato Negro, get the fuck up. Make the coffee so she thinks you're a productive member of the household. After she leaves, go back to bed. Masturbate for a while to visions of Clive Owen in a Forever Lazy. Don't bother finishing. You don't finish anything anymore.

2. Do your best to be awake and staring, with great purpose, at your computer screen when your mother comes back from the pool at 10:30. Yell at said screen as she walks by, even if it's stuck on something completely innocuous, like a bunch of smiling Pinterest giraffes or an inspirational poster of a kid riding a Great Dane. Then mumble about “technology” and “ghosts in the machine.” Use air quotes and cite Dante. This will signal to your mother that you are still the sweet overachiever she's always loved and not a barnacle in human form.

3. When it's time for lunch, offer to make your mother a sandwich, knowing that she never eats sandwiches. You don't either: what you really want is a bowl of potato chips and a handful of raw cookie dough. Eat both while flipping through a J. Crew catalog. Imagine how different your life would have turned out if 1) you looked good in skinny sailor-front pants and 2) you hadn't dumped your last boyfriend because he used baby talk in bed. Get on Facebook and cyber-stalk your ex-boyfriend for an hour. Tag yourself in the pictures of him and his naturally beautiful wife on vacation in Prague. Untag yourself. Update your status to say: “YOLO! Amiright?” Consider suicide. Consider updating your status to say: “Considering suicide.” Cry a little. Read an article about how the clay diet is the key to good skin. Study your large pores in your mother's magnifying mirror, the one she uses to spot chin hairs. Cry some more.  READ MORE


Cam'ron & A-Trak, "Dipshits"

This track is perfect and its all-star video (catch Chromeo and Cat Power with the cameo) is pure, unfiltered joy: Cam and A-Trak's Federal Reserve (their first single "Humphrey" was a jam, too) and the Royksopp-Robyn collaboration are making this such a strong year for the collaborative EP.

Elsewhere: the new Arcade Fire video for "We Exist" is adorable, featuring gender-bending stardom that begins in the spotlight of a country-western bar.


"By 1850, doctors were beginning to encourage men to wear beards as a means of warding off illness"

Via Smithsonian, here's medical historian Alun Withey on the health-based case for beards in the 19th century:

 In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, facial hair had been viewed as a form of bodily waste. It was regarded as resulting from heat in the liver and reins, and was partly a signifier of a man’s virility. Equally though, as a waste product, shaving it off might be seen as healthy as it was another way of ridding the body of something potentially harmful.

By 1850, however, doctors were beginning to encourage men to wear beards as a means of warding off illness. As Oldstone-Moore points out, the Victorian obsession with air quality saw the beard promoted as a sort of filter. A thick beard, it was reasoned, would capture the impurities before they could get inside the body. Others saw it as a means of relaxing the throat, especially for those whose work involved public speaking. Some doctors were even recommending that men grew beards to avoid sore throats.

For the unfortunate and patchy, there was always "Professor Modevi's success-guaranteed Beard Generator." [AW]


A Few Questions About Jill Abramson, From David Brooks For David Brooks By David Brooks

I find myself alternately fascinated, humbled, and engaged by the recent dismissal of Jill Abramson as the editor of this newspaper. Full disclosure: I am a columnist for the New York Times. Put another way: The words you are reading are appearing in the paper that Ms. Abramson, until around noon Wednesday, helmed.

Perhaps a quote from an outside source could help clarify this, and the outside source I choose to cite is me. I cite a column I wrote last Monday, which, I believe, qualifies because, according to the philosopher David Hume, we are merely an aggregate of our experiences, and the David Brooks who sat down to write that column is not the same David Brooks who now sits before you, writing this.

Here’s the lesson that Sunday David Brooks has for Friday David Brooks: “One of the hard things in life is learning to ask questions that you can actually answer.” (Thanks, Monday David Brooks.)

And so, because I can answer the question: Is this column about the New York Times appearing in the New York Times, I ask it. And I (Friday David Brooks) answer: Yes.

Throughout world history, people have been fired. Some of these people have been women. J.K Rowling was fired from her job as a secretary at the well-respected international organization, Amnesty International, and she went on to write the much-lauded Harry Potter books. Madonna was fired from the popular coffee and donut fast food establishment, Dunkin’ Donuts, and she went on to be one of the most powerful women in entertainment, and the singer of hits like “Holiday,” “Isla Bonita,” and “Take a Bow.”

When you have a society and a woman living in that society is fired—as Abramson was a woman, living in a society, and was fired—this often becomes an opportunity for the people in that society to ask themselves questions. One of those questions might be: "Did she get fired because she was a woman?" In the cases of both Rowling and Madonna, I think we can safely say no. READ MORE


Ask Baba Yaga: Was It a Bad Idea to Break Up With My Extremely Kind, Extremely Boring Boyfriend?

Transcript after the jump. READ MORE


Polls, Like Everything, Are Infected With Mansplaining

Women tend to speak up less on topics they aren’t well versed in, whereas men comfortably hold forth on topics they have little expertise on.

-The New York Times states the obvious/illuminates how a "don't know" option on a political poll will skew responses by gender.


The "Right to Be Forgotten"

In first sentences of Guardian articles that sound like George Saunders stories:

The top European court has backed the "right to be forgotten.”

The ruling comes in a case brought against Google Spain by a man who tried and failed to get a 1988 home auction notice removed from his personal search results. The matter, he said, “had been resolved and should no longer be linked to him,” and he told the Guardian he was “fighting for the elimination of data that adversely affects people’s honor, dignity and exposes their private lives.”

The judges said they had found that the inclusion of links in the Google results related to an individual who wanted them removed "on the grounds that he wishes the information appearing on those pages relating to him personally to be 'forgotten' after a certain time" was incompatible with the existing data protection law.

They said the data that had to be erased could "appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive … in the light of the time that had elapsed". They added that even accurate data that had been lawfully published initially could "in the course of time become incompatible with the directive".

This seems so beautiful and radical to me, which is disturbing. The Washington Post has more about the ruling's potential consequences ("U.S. technology companies are at best going to be very unhappy"). [Guardian]


Noosa, "Clocktower"

I always thought that Noosa’s 2012 track “Walk On By” was just about as good of a debut single as you'll ever find, and now she’s back with this new song “Clocktower,” which sounds (in a good way) like Dido meets Lana Del Rey meets Katy Perry, and rides on the strength of lush production and Noosa’s clouds-and-linen voice.


Being Maleficent

We were a motley band of homeschoolers, playing on a sunny back porch while our mothers had a Bible study inside. We had been warned against coming in and interrupting, so we scuffed our Keds against the floor boards and broke sticks into little logs. Most of the girls wore ankle-length skirts or jumpers. They all had long hair, except me. I had mine cut short because I wouldn’t let my mom brush it, and she wanted it out of my face.

One of the older girls, her hair pulled up in a large bow that matched the trimming on her socks, glanced over us. “Let’s put on a play.” There were squeals, even a “huzzah” from the 9-year-old boy who was obsessed with studying the American Revolutionary War. Amid the shouts and skirt pulling, the older girl decided we would act out “Sleeping Beauty.”

Immediately, my friend LeeLee whispered, “I want to be Aurora.” She was blonde, with fair skin and blue eyes. I knew she would get picked. The handful of little girls in our group widened their eyes with hope and quickly raised their hands. “Me, please,” they said. “I want to be Aurora.”

I chewed my fingernails and felt my glasses slip down my nose. I wanted to be Aurora too. I wanted to be the center of the play. I wanted the woodland creatures to dance around me and the whole room to talk about my beauty, even if it was just pretend. But at seven, I was already hyper-aware of my skinned knees, my knobby elbows and my boy haircut. I stood up. “I’ll be Maleficent.”

The older girl who’d assumed the role of director nodded, then turned back around to count out woodland creatures from the small mass of younger children shuffling around her. I had no competition. In our group of carefully raised, Evangelical youth, no one else wanted to be evil. READ MORE


"A Couple Chooses a Movie"

In "A Couple Chooses a Movie," Inside Amy Schumer delivers the couple-chooses-a-movie version of Portlandia's hallowed Battlestar Galactica sketch. In four minutes and 40 seconds of realness, though, somehow the realest moment is when Amy slips off her bra mid-selection without removing her shirt. Magic is real. [via]

The Song That Made The Pill OK


Loretta Lynn wrote and recorded “The Pill” in 1972. Her label didn’t release it until 1975, but three years wasn’t long enough to cool the controversy stoked by Lynn, one of the biggest names in country music, singing the praises of oral contraception to an audience of “unliberated, work-worn American females.” The Associated Press’s lede about the song in February of that year read, “To some, Loretta Lynn’s new song ‘The Pill’ might be too bitter to swallow. But to the country music star it has the sweet taste of success,” selling some 25,000 copies a day. The New York Times even gave it a few column inches under the headline “Unbuckling The Bible Belt.”

Despite the coy coverage, Lynn’s song is anything but bashful. Not once, but seven times a wife delights in reminding her husband that she’s “got the pill.” Angry that he’s running around town while “all [she’s] seen of this old world is a bed and a doctor bill,” she announces that her birth control is evening the score. “I’m tired of all your crowing how you and your hens play,” the wife says, and then threatens that she’s headed out on the town, too.  READ MORE


The Pushy Pie


Previously: The Stylish Housewife Pie

Ann Friedman is a humane editor with great ambitions.


John Wayne to Barbara Walters: "Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down"

There is plenty to read about Jill Abramson's departure at the New York Times (Amanda Hess's report on her influence on young female staffers at the paper is especially important, and Natalie Nougayrede's resignation piles on to an already dreadful week for women in management roles), and I'll add, tangentially, to the mix, this NPR interview with Barbara Walters, who's set to retire from ABC News this week. Here she is discussing her early days working in a predominantly male environment:

It was lonely and it was painful. At one point I was on the air with a male partner who really didn't want me on and made things quite difficult for me, but what saved me — two things that I think: one was letters from other women saying, "We're going through the same thing," in whatever field they were in, in whatever job they had, and "hang in there." And I knew I had their support.

Shine Theory has been in effect for many years—and letters from John Wayne don't hurt, either:

And the other thing was a telegram, believe it or not, that said, "Don't let the bastards get you down," and it was signed John Wayne. And I felt the cavalry was coming! So it was a difficult time, but if it helped other women — and maybe it did — then it's a legacy I'm extremely proud of.



Le1f, "Sup"

Le1f's debut EP, Hey, came out in March, and he brought down the Letterman stage not long after. "Sup," the EP's latest single, now has a music video featuring Le1f in nature, and some of the best and typically whimsical rapping we've seen from the New York native: "Earl Grey, all day, I'm real steeped like loose leaf." Hey is on Spotify; there are more goodies on his Soundcloud.