I don’t want to be the only one here
Telling all the secrets -
Filling up all the bowls at this party,
Taking all the laughs.
I would like you
To start putting things on the table
That can also feed the soul
The way I do.
We can invite
A hell of a lot more
now that my mind is half cleared up and my body recovering from endless walks and dances and backyard barbeques and the weather has returned to its usual Cold July Fog, i can maybe say something in full sentences. or not; this blog post is turning into one of those soups that simmers for too long and i’ve thrown too many ingredients into and it becomes unrecognizable as one thing. there is obvi a lot of intersection among these topics in my life, so please forgive the impending ramble.
first, the party. does it need explanation again? this was the 6th year for Priceless, and the fact that we pack not only camping gear but also tuxedos and evening wear is now somehow de rigueur. like a matryoshka doll, there are parties within the parties within the party. we were there for 5 nights/5 days, and i managed to only miss a couple of things. i have become skilled at willed awakeness to the point that i didn’t even have to overdose on caffeine trying to stay up. i just decided i would. i got very very tired, but not cracked out. it was nice!
speaking of which, today Ariel is quoted in this piece on NPR: How the Internet Transformed the American Rave Scene:
“I worked so much overtime trying to talk about how the rave scene wasn’t all about drugs,” says Ariel Meadow Stallings, who published and edited the rave zine Lotus in Seattle during the late ’90s. “It was very noble of me, and I still do believe it wasn’t all about drugs. But it is a drug culture. Even if you’re not on drugs, the culture of the party is determined by the fact that there are people there who are.”
i was thinking a lot about that topic at the party. many of us have stopped doing drugs, but the mood and expectation of what happens/what music/what decor is still defined by when we WERE. is Rave now an aesthetic?
secondly, over the weekend i read this new yorker piece on internet dating, and while i have never internet dated, i have met many of my current BFFs (excepting jay) online before meeting in person. so it really spoke to me that the article posited that internet dating is not so weird, as many people might initially find it, but actually a return to how humans used to meet:
“In a way, the online persona, with its lists of favorite bands and books, its roster of essential values and tourist destinations, represents a cheaper and more direct way of signalling one’s worth and taste than the kinds of affect that people have relied on for centuries—headgear, jewelry, perfume, tattoos…
…Fisher contends that dating online is a reversion to an ancient, even primal approach to pairing off. She conjures millions of years of human prehistory: small groups of hunter-gatherers wandering the savanna, and then congregating a few times a year at this or that watering hole. Amid the merriment and the information exchange, the adolescents develop eyes for one another, in view of their elders and peers. The groups likely know each other, from earlier gatherings or hunting parties. “In the ever present gossip circles,” Fisher once wrote, “a young girl could easily collect data on a potential suitor’s hunting skills, even on whether he was amusing, kind, smart.”
It wasn’t until the twentieth century that it became normal for young people to pair up with strangers, in real or relative anonymity. “Walking into a bar is totally artificial,” Fisher told me. “We’ve come to believe that this is the way to court. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s natural is knowing a few fundamental things about someone before you meet.” Vetting has always occurred at many levels, ranging from the genealogical to the pheromonal. In her view, dating via the Internet enables, as she wrote, “the modern human brain to pursue more comfortably its ancestral mating dance.”
i couldn’t agree more. i started meeting people online not for dating, but for social connections, specifically phish and the Phunky Bitches, in 1997/1998, and some of them to this day remain my best friends. our online community provided information and context for our relationship before we committed to doing what could be considered somewhat dangerous things together (historically speaking): road trips into the wilderness, intoxicated rendezvous. how many of my friends are of the hundreds of people i’ve met randomly at parties and night clubs? so few, and the thought of going on a date with a totally unvetted person makes me wince. but people i’ve met online have invited me into their homes, picked me up from the airport, sent me goods, and vice versa and in my experience there has almost never been a problem.
one other choice quote from that article not directly relative to this point but slightly:
I had a talk-about-dating date with a freelance researcher named Julia Kamin, who, over twelve years as a dater on various sites, has boiled down all the competing compatibility criteria to the question of, as she put it, “Are we laughing at the same shit?”
when anyone asks me again in the future, i will quote that right there as the key to happy LTRs (romantic, platonic, communal, or otherwise).Filed in autobiographical, culture and random linkage | Tagged with new yorker, priceless | Comment (0)
i read this short bit in the new yorker about coming of age via Great Books and he reminded me so much of me and how i was and am (i think i even dreamed of going to St. John’s College in New Mexico) and it provoked this thought train:
the summer of 1996 was the first summer i did not spend at home with my family in the woods of Northern Michigan, the first summer i lived completely independent of my parents. i was 19 going on 20.
mentioned here, 1996-1997 were some of the most confusing years of my life. i was somehow totally unprepared for so many things, and on top of that felt a constant exclusion from much of my collegiate culture for reasons i couldn’t quite pin down. i had friends (much beloved, like sisters), but i don’t think they understood how i fit in to that time and place and scene, and neither did i. i know this is not uncommon, but that makes it no less significant to my personal history.
for the summer of 96, i had signed up to be an intern at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC as part of UofM’s Public Service Intern Program (PSIP). i remember getting off the train in Washington DC, and my roommate, who had corralled me into going into the Program with her, greeted me there. i was so confused/relieved. i had stayed up most of the night in the smoking car on the ride from Toledo, Ohio reading and talking to randoms and watching the streetlights of the midwest and appalachia roll by, and as i got off the Amtrak, exhausted, i realized, pulling my trunk through the massive, chaotic train station, that i had no idea where i was going. absolutely no idea. perhaps i had an address? i seem to remember panicking that i didn’t.
so when Aimee appeared out of the crowd all i could say was “how did you know to meet me here?!” because i had absolutely no recollection of telling her what train i was on. but she was (and still is) smarter than me. she figured it out. and if she hadn’t been there, in those days before internet and iPhones, i have no idea what i would have done. retrospectively, that was a bad start and an omen. and then on my first day at work i found out that my stipend was half what i thought it was, so i was also basically broke too. i remember Aimee saying she had budgeted a meager $20/day to live on, and when i did the math for 60 days, i realized i had nowhere near enough money and had to call my mom.
besides that, there were (at least) three things that contributed to that experience being depressive for me and not the rollicking good time it might have been for others. First, almost everyone else, including my roommates, were interning at large government orgs and legal firms and had to be at their jobs by 8am. so they all got up early and commuted early together and sort of traveled in packs. my job didn’t require that, and so i was usually alone by the time i got up and commuted. i didn’t have their jovial comraderie all day long. secondly, they would also then go out after work together, but me being only 19 and without fake ID meant that I couldn’t go out for beers after work or go out with them most of the time on the weekends either. so i spent a lot of time alone, wandering the Smithsonians or watching TV at night. third, my internship was kind of a bust in that i did little to no work and learned almost nothing, but i don’t know if that is because they weren’t really organized about their intern program or if when i showed up they were like “this girl can’t help us” and i basically sat the bench for 2 months. so i spent a lot of time alone, and my internship was mostly pointless except to teach me what i did not want to do and how woefully unprepared i was to venture out into the world alone to find something i did.
that following year, my Junior year at Michigan, i grew into myself a little bit more, and i signed up to do something totally different the next summer, the summer of 1997. i applied and was accepted to be a participant in the New England Literature Program, moved to the White Mountains for the spring semester, and like the author of that new yorker piece, that was where i learned to read. this changed my life in that i learned that being literate is one thing, being a good writer is another, and being a good reader is yet another, and a valuable skill. so while i think my writing is average, i do think that i am a very good reader, and i am starting to wonder now, at this juncture in my life and career, if i can do something more than entertain myself with it. i have been looking into (*gasp*) graduate programs in Critical Reading and Writing (example). it will probably take years before i can imagine actually committing myself to applying or enrolling (the money! ACK!), but at least i think i might have found a path to focus on.Filed in autobiographical | Tagged with NELP, new yorker | Comment (0)
the november 30th issue of the new yorker is the best one i’ve read in a while, with several articles i read all the way through. for anyone who wants some good reading, here’s 3:
1. Either/Or, by Ariel Levy, is a long but engaging article about Caster Semenya, the African track star who was recently in the news because people were questioning whether she was a woman. the article is great because it neatly braids several things: 1. the history of sex/gender testing in sports, and relative to testing for other things (drugs, hormones, etc) 2. sex/gender issues in both Western culture and in her native culture 3. basic civil rights regarding what is private information and what is public regarding such issues 4. how much international sports have changed Africa (Mandela credits sports for breaking the racial barriers of apartheid), and 5. what does it actually mean to be a man or a woman? is it hormones? chromosomes? genitalia? some people are born with confusions of all 3.
2. The Politics of Death by Jill Lepore uses the case of Karen Ann Quinlan, who went into a coma in 1975 and her parents had to sue the hospital for rights to “pull the plug”, to discuss the idea that “The more successfully medicine has staved off death, the less well anyone has accepted dying“. It goes into the history of the case, the complexities of what it means to be alive or not biologically, and, as the title states, the politics around dying. the whole thing is interesting, but the most interesting point to me was that basically, before the 1950s, there wasn’t really such a thing as “life support”, and when you got really sick, you died. usually at home. and no one fought too much about it. but as soon a there became “life support”, people were no longer allowed to just die natural deaths, and in fact, any family asking that their child/mother/father be allowed to do so has been villainized, and now today we even have people talking about “death panels”, as if believing in natural death is somehow now akin to believing genocide is ok.
3. A beautiful short fiction piece by Don DeLillo entitled “Midnight in Dostoevsky“. The writing is superb. Maybe i was partial to this because i also like to talk long meandering walks, talk subjectively a lot about nothing, speculate about other people’s lives, and had a philosophy professor who only talked with his eyes closed.Filed in culture and random linkage | Tagged with new yorker | Comment (0)
some articles and a little about the context:
Resigning in protest is not in the American grain. Robert McNamara stuck around as Secretary of Defense even after he decided that the Vietnam War was a disaster; Colin Powell did the same during the Bush Administration’s push for war with Iraq; and in the lead-up to the financial crisis, few high-profile executives stepped down over disagreements in philosophy or tactics. But resigning in protest has gained popularity of late among an unlikely group: big corporations. Last Monday, Apple announced that it would be quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the Chamber’s opposition to global-warming legislation. And that was just the latest in a series of defections: in the past few weeks, the public-utility companies Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, and Exelon all announced that they’d be leaving the Chamber, while Nike quit the organization’s board of directors…
…But it may reflect a calculation that global warming is simply too big an issue to get wrong, both economically—few companies are really going to benefit from the melting of the polar ice caps—and from a public-relations point of view. It’s also probably no coincidence that these resignations have come at a time when the Chamber’s anti-regulatory zeal looks not just outmoded but self-defeating. Had the Chamber supported tougher regulation of financial and housing markets, after all, the myriad small businesses it represents would undoubtedly be better off today. And it’s far from clear that across-the-board hostility to regulation is really in the best interests of the free-enterprise system. We assume that lobbies always recognize what’s best for their members. But they don’t, and, in the case of climate change, they may very well be missing what the companies that have resigned in protest have seen: global warming isn’t just bad for the planet; it’s bad for business.
for privacy reasons, i can’t say too much about my professional experience working with the Chamber of Commerce on environmental issues, but i can say that this made me very happy.
their current movie “The Yes Men Fix The World” is out now.Filed in environment, things you can do, tv, books and movies | Tagged with new yorker | Comment (0)
Filed in not poems | Tagged with new yorker | Comment (0)
Where what I see comes to rest,
at the edge of the lake,
against what I think I see
and, up on the bank, who I am
maintains an uneasy truce
with who I fear I am,
while in the cabin’s shade the gap between
the words I said
and those I remember saying
is just wide enough to contain
the remains that remain
of what I assumed I knew.
Out in the canoe, the person I thought you were
gingerly trades spots
with the person you are
and what I believe I believe
sits uncomfortably next to
what I believe.
When I promised I will always give you
what I want you to want,
you heard, or desired to hear,
something else. As, over and in the lake,
the cormorant and its image
traced paths through the sky.
i’ve noticed more and more recently how when you start looking for something, you see it all over the place.
anyway, as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, one of the things that’s been at the top of my mind for a while is greenwashing, and so now i see it everywhere. on the plus side, it’s great that so many companies are finally realizing that they need to be (or at least promote themselves as) environmentally conscious and hopefully that eventually leads to real change, but so much of it is just pure advertising spin and not actual corporate change, and when you see it, it makes you sort of ill. i was reading NPR news this morning, and saw a little ad for Fiji water on the righthand column, directing you to their website “Fiji Green”. bottled water is a huge no-no among environmentalists, and now that everyone is so carbon calculator obsessed, bottled water FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD is especially seen as overly decadent. so Fiji water has attempted to ‘green’ their image by claiming that the ‘food miles’ calculation is a myth, based on the recent New Yorker article that pointed out some of the unexpected results when you really tabulate all the factors from production to shipping to consumption.
We here at FIJI Water hear a lot of complaints about “food miles,” ours in particular. The concept is that the longer your food travels, the worse it is for the environment.
We think this is a load of hooey…and so do scientists who have studied lifecycle carbon footprints. The key word here is lifecycle – how a product is developed or packaged, what the transport mode is, and other factors can have a far greater impact for better or worse than the mere distance traveled.
this is the real kicker:
There are still people who are choosing to “buy/eat local” and thereby actually making their environmental impact worse than it otherwise would have been.
WTF – bashing the “buy/eat local” movement?! Fiji gets a tiny bit of credit for engaging this issue with open public comments on the blog and everything, but i think this one scores pretty high on the greenwashing index.Filed in environment | Tagged with greenwashing, new yorker | Comment (0)
Obama is a black candidate who can tell Americans of all races to move beyond race. As such, he is uniquely positioned to put an end to this era, and uniquely vulnerable to becoming its latest victim.
related: the speech Obama could have given.Filed in politics and news | Tagged with new yorker, obama | Comments (2)
an answer to the question what kind of music is this?, which i am often asked by people who aren’t entrenched in the scene:
Megasoid calls the music “psychedelic robo crunk remix action,” Rutledge has called it “future-blap,” Poirier uses the phrase “bastard bass” (click that link for an excellent forty minute mix Poirier put together for Pitchfork magazine) and the Glitch Mob’s edIT offered the phrase “digital crunk shit.” One of the scene’s widely acknowledged godfathers, the Los Angeles DJ and producer Daddy Kev, defined the connection this way: “The affinity comes down to bass. Ridiculous bass.”
–Lazer-Guided, Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker (!)
i’m going to be seeing some lazer bass tomorrow night – Modeselektor and the Glitch Mob @ MightySF.
(btw, we usually just call it “glitch”. lazers not included.)Filed in music | Tagged with new yorker | Comment (0)
Raj, Bohemian by Hari Kunzru (New Yorker):
We liked to do things casually. We called at the last minute. We messaged one another from our hand-held devices. Sometimes our names were on exclusive guest lists (though we were poor, we were beautiful, and people liked to have us around), but often we preferred to do something else—attend a friend’s opening, drink in after-hours clubs or the room above a pub, trek off to remote suburbs to see a band play in a warehouse. We went dancing whenever we felt like it (none of us had regular jobs), and when we didn’t we stayed in, watching movies and getting high. Someone always had something new or special—illegal pre-releases of Hollywood blockbusters, dubs of 8-mm. shorts from the nineteen-seventies. We watched next summer’s exploding airplanes, Viennese Actionists masturbating onto operating tables. Raw meat and Nick Cage. Whatever we watched was, by definition, good, because we’d watched it, because it had belonged—at least, temporarily—to us. By the time the wider world caught up—which always happened, sooner or later—we’d usually got bored and moved on. We had long since given up mourning the loss of our various enthusiasms. We’d learned to discard them lightly. It was the same with clubs and bars. Wherever we went would be written about in magazines three or four months later. A single mention on a blog, and a place that had been spangled with beautiful, interesting faces would be swamped by young bankers in button-down shirts, nervously analyzing the room to see if they were having fun.
I must make it clear that we didn’t plan for our lives to be this way. We despised trendies—fashion kids who tried too hard, perennially hoping to get hosed down by the paps or interviewed about their hair. With us, it wasn’t a neurotic thing. We put on public events—salons, gigs, parties, shows. But once in a while, in the midst of our hectic social gyrations, we liked to do something for one another, something that didn’t drain our energy, that made us feel private again…
a beautifully written peek into lives that i have lived and the weights – whether real or perceived – behind the things people like me do and how we value them, and how sometimes those values can overshadow what is real, or be revealed to be something altogether different than what we thought we had, and possibly even result in the realization that we are who we were trying so hard not to be. categorized as fiction, but it all rang true for me, even the dystopian twist.
thinking of all the things i have participated in that we so carefully construed as ‘underground’ and edgy that soon became popular, trendy, either by organic proliferation or purposeful profit-motivated marketing by some faction … raves, fashions, the ghetto gourmet, hooping, types of music – it seems to ring true for mostly the arts for me, not so much consumer products, but i’m sure for others that is the case. you had the coolest thing, no one else could find it anywhere, then suddenly one day you woke up and everyone had one. how did that happen? when did it become a trend, and why?
My taste had been central to my identity. I’d cultivated it, kept it fed and watered like an exotic flowering plant. Now I realized that what I thought had been an expression of my innermost humanity was nothing but a cloud of life-style signals, available to anyone at the click of a mouse. How had this happened?
(if you read to the end of the story, it explains a bit more about how i feel about Facebook and why i don’t think it’s the best thing ever (marketing gimmicks disguised as personal communication? gah!), although i know some who heartily agree with monetizing your social networks.)
definitely one of the best things i’ve read in quite some time, so thx to b2 for pointing it out.
(also file under: what is real v. what’s your damage?)Filed in culture and random linkage | Tagged with facebook, new yorker | Comment (1)
Many conservatives are anguished about the prospect of a McCain Presidency. Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, has summarized the right’s case against McCain. “He has opposed pro-growth tax cuts and supported limits on political speech,” Santorum wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “He has pushed amnesty when it came to illegal immigration and half-measures when it came to interrogating terrorists. He wants to close Guantánamo and allow the reimportation of prescription drugs into the United States. Not only does he part company with conservatives on these and other issues—climate change, drilling for oil in the Alaskan hinterland, federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, international criminal courts, gun-show background checks—he invariably adopts the rhetoric of the left and stridently leads the opposition.” Working with a Democratic Congress, a President McCain could well pass half the agenda that Republicans have been fighting against for the past decade.
–On the Bus: Can John McCain reinvent Republicanism?
by Ryan Lizza, New Yorker
interesting biographical piece on McCain that talks a lot about the evolution of the GOP and its current internal conflicts.Filed in politics and news | Tagged with new yorker | Comment (0)