Thursday, April 29, 2010

Summer Reading

It's practically May, and you know what that means: it's practically summer. Time for long lazy afternoons in the park, reading in the sun. I've been running around (out of town) but I'm looking forward to the summer months when I can finally get some reading done. Here are a few books I'm excited about reading:

Miss Lonelyhearts (and The Day of the Locust) by Nathanael West
An Education, A Memoir by Lynn Barber (the basis for the film)
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (author of food blog Orangette)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Summer Cooking by Elizabeth David
Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
and, if I like that, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
and if I like both of those, the new biography of Madame Spark
Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin

I've been doing a lot of food writing and reading over the past month. I hope to have something up for you all to read about the genre very soon. I just finished Judith Moore's collection of personal essays on the intersection of life and food, Never Eat Your Heart Out. It was fantastic; I highly, highly recommend it. (It's out of print but you can find it without a problem on aLibris)

I also do a fair amount of re-reading in the summer. My favorites:

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Unabridged Diaries of Sylvia Plath
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Come to think of it, I pretty much re-read these books all year.

What are your summer reads and recommendations?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Emily Gould's "And the Heart Says Whatever"

Dear readers, you can find my review of Emily Gould's collection of essays And the Heart Says Whatever in this week's Time Out New York here, along with a few recommendations of my favorite memoirs and tell-alls. Thank you as always for reading. xoxoxo

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Songs of Sorrow: Lady Gaga

Paparazzi: Love and obsession. Facebook stalk-age. Anxiety to leave the communal space. Jealousy, rage, and the thin line between love and hate. The beauty of a lover can never be recreated outside of the relationship.

Poker Face: The mix of shame and excitement on being attracted to the same sex. "Bluffin" with your "muffin" because you only fall in love with men. Distraction. The need for orgasm. Ultimate power over the situation. Control.

Money Honey: Being your girl is all the money in the world. Of course, actual money would be nice, too.

I Like it Rough: Feeling insecure about your sexuality because you want to have sex more often and rougher than your boyfriend does. Men raised by women and only women. No rage, no play, the same, boring. You want the throw down. You get labeled as a slut. Little does he know you are the best thing, you are "shiny."

Bad Romance: I would rather have your resentment and anger than nothing at all.

Alejandro: Your jealousy makes me sick. Let me be free.

Monster: Your girlfriend tells you she slept with that guy, and he was an asshole. You sleep with him anyway because you are stupid. He totally consumes you, then dumps you on the side of the road. Ultimate pain.

Speechless: Daddy issues. Enough said.

Dance in the Dark: Your boyfriend thinks you're fat. You burn and seethe with rage and self-loathing. You are gorgeous, but he makes you feel like you're nothing. You dance in the dark with your friends. Depression and suicide loom. You hope and work back to self-confidence.

Telephone: I will ignore you because you refused to acknowledge me.

Teeth: There is no man who can equal your power. Torn between feeling wonderful about it, or awful. The overwhelming solitude.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

On Sunday I went to MoMa to see "The Artist is Present," a retrospective of Marina Abramovic's work. And Marina was present, sitting on the second floor of the museum in a brilliant, flowing red dress. At 62, Abramovic doesn't look at day over 38. I jumped to the conclusion that she must look healthy and young because she gets to live her passion every day. Even if that passion is sitting in MoMa, staring at strangers.

Or carving a pentagram onto her stomach using a razor blade.

Or cleaning hundreds of cow bones for the Venice Biennale.

Or handing 72 objects of pain and torture to an audience and telling them "do to me what you will."

Or screaming at the top of her lungs until she lost her voice.

Or standing in the center of a blazing star until she lost consciousness from the fumes.

Or breaking up with her partner and collaborator by each of them walking the Great Wall of China from opposite ends, only to say goodbye once they reach the center.

The list goes on.

Obviously Abramovic can't been in twenty places at one time, and I don't think the Great Wall will fit in MoMa, so most of these pieces are exhibited through video. A few of them, however, are performed by actual human beings. (No, sadly not the pentagram piece). As a patron you do have the option of entering the exhibit by walking in between two naked people (Marina and Ulay in the original below).

I walked in between two naked guys. At first I was nonchalant about it, but after squeezing through I felt a surge of euphoria closely followed by panic and shame. Both of them looked wildly uncomfortable, and hot. MoMa had the heat on, and everyone was sweating - even the naked performers. Squeezing past them with a bag, a purse, a heavy coat and my big military boots wasn't easy. After, I felt bad. It's strange to look at art and have it look back at you. One performer, naked, laying on a slab that came up about waist-high in another room was covered in a skeleton. He looked at me, I looked at him. I tried to focus on looking at his body as a whole, avoiding eye contact, but I couldn't. He seemed sad, in pain. I wanted to bring him some water.

After the exhibit I was so exhausted (mentally, physically, emotionally) that I collapsed on my living room couch and didn't move for nearly two hours. I was overwhelmed by Abramovic's body of work, both in its scope and its nature. There's no distinction between Abramovic and her canvas. She is her canvas. I can't think of any kind of living that's more alive and real. Surely there will be haters who think the exhibit useless, but to hell with them. This exhibit is an inspiration. I walked out of MoMa feeling violated in the best way possible, thinking to myself: how can I live and feel and work on this level? I want it. No matter how uncomfortable. I want that kind of work. Every day. So now: how to do it?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Adventures in Babysitting

Hi friends. I wrote this essay about babysitting for This Recording.

I hope you enjoy it, and as always, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Warning: Fashion Post

I feel somewhat (somewhat, okay?) vindicated by the fact that The New Yorker, tastemaker of snobs, recently published a piece about the website Polyvore. Alexandra Jacobs does a much more thorough job of explaining what Polyvore is in those five pages. If you care about clothes, and you are not familiar, I highly recommend you check this website out - it's essentially an outfit-builder and it tells you where you can find each piece. Whenever I'm looking for inspiration I search the collections others have built. You can search for any term you want. Since it's finally getting warmer here in New York, my current favorite search terms are "spring," "spring in New York," "Michelle Williams," "Chloe Sevigny" and "Jane Birkin."

Happy Spring!