Saturday, March 29, 2008
Are they kidding?
Look, slavery is an awful part of America's past. But nobody tries to deny it. Any eighth-grade social studies student will tell you that it's hardly been forgotten, and reparations are still given to this day to black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved. That said, I think it's a little late for a formal apology.
It almost seems insulting. It's certainly unnecessary. "Hey blacks, sorry about the whole slavery thing. We just passed this useless piece of legislation though, so the wounds should all be healed. Now we're going on vacation; have fun with the housing crisis." Nobody--at least, nobody in our government, or anywhere besides the most backwater regions of the South--thinks slavery was a good thing, but does the government really have to apologize to hammer home that message?
I'm not a fan of formal apologies anyway. When Germany apologized to the Jews about the Holocaust, I, well...didn't really care, and saw it as a little patronizing. Hitler was responsible, not the current German government. (And the Holocaust was a lot more recent than America's slavery, anyway.) Just like perhaps our ancestors were responsible for slavery, not us. Sending a formal apology is just a diplomatic gesture intended to appease a racial segment of our population; I think it would be much more fruitful to spend time addressing the current racism in our society and working to make that go away than to apologize for something that happened over a hundred years ago, something that we all recognize as shameful, something we have passed laws about to make sure it never happens again.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, heroine, fellow depressive, writer of my life story, penned an article last week for the L.A. Times lamenting the fact that even though a woman is running for president and magical vaginas abound, women today are still left to reconcile between the Madonna and the Whore.
Because it's true; even the brand of neo-feminism I champion has little to do with taking off your top for horny men sweating tequila. Where is the power in that? You're playing into exactly what they want from you, and depending on how many shots you chugged prior, you're probably not even making your own decisions.
If women truly do need to toe this imaginary line between the Madonna and the Whore, how is letting Girls Gone Wild film you making out with your sluttiest friend not just plain whorish?
We're squandering away what little power our breasts and our blowjobs bestow upon us. A neo-feminist wouldn't flash the camera and claim that's empowerment; she would, instead, flirt fearlessly with Joe Francis himself into getting her a PR or media contract. No nipples splayed across camera, no drunken finger banging sessions; just the knowledge that, like the Madonna, our body is our temple, and like the Whore, that body totally gets guys hard.
Because there's a difference between empowerment and being a drunken slut. Using your body as a tool to gain power requires that you're conscious of it; it doesn't mean flashing someone and then claiming afterwards that it was oh so feminist of you.
There's a kind of self-awareness that comes with female empowerment, a self-awareness that so many girls today lack. And whether that stems from the media or the deeply engraved inferiority complexes most women seem to possess is something not even my girl Wurtzel can figure out.
Friday, March 28, 2008
As I nurse this hangover and "look for a job," here are some questions that have been on my mind today:
1. Does anyone really care about American Idol anymore? I mean, at this point, isn't it just all the people who get rejected from earlier seasons? And besides Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (I refuse to acknowledge Clay Aiken), has there even been another truly successful Idol alumnus?
2. Why does Urban Outfitters seem to think that its male customers are just faux-frat-boy southerners who have nothing better to do than sit in their lawn and look sullen? Okay, I get the sullen thing, but seriously? Jersey tees? Am I in the closet again? Jeez.
3. Ugh. Sometimes I really don't know what century we're living in.
4. Am I the only one who gets a sudden, strong rush of nostalgia when watching this? My grandparents have this rug in their house that looks kind of like a world map, sort of, if you squint and kind of forget about Asia. Whenever I was there I would pretend that my grandma and grandpa were the hosts of the show and I'd run around the rug, identifying "countries" and winning "prizes." Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad stoner game now. Also, I wonder what my grandpa is like when he's high.
5. Can you tell that I had nothing better to write about today? What can I say, not every day is an inspiring one.
Besides the fact that they're really funny, they're actually probably not that much more detrimental to a child's psyche than regular Barbie. At least these dolls emulate some actual people in the world, unlike real Barbie, who kind of looks like a tranny anyway.
Fuck Astronaut and Style My Hair Barbie; I want Magical Vagina Barbie!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I just got back from a roundtable luncheon with NYU President John Sexton and business entrepreneur/NYU Trustee Ronald Blaylock. The primary thread running through the conversation was to recognize what you’re passionate about and seize those passions so you can lead a happy and fulfilling life like Mr. Blaylock; and then, of course, give back to NYU in every way possible (most importantly financially).
A lot of the other students asked questions about Mr. Blaylock’s successful business ventures and his time spent at NYU; but considering my quarterlife crisis, I wanted to get a straight answer out of him about my predicament concerning student loans.
So, I asked him:
I understand that following your passion is important, and I would love to pursue a career in something I love to do; I would also like to take advantage of the unpaid internship opportunities NYU offers its students. However, I’m forced to work 25 hours a week to be able to make enough money to support myself in the city, and the amount of debt I’m incurring continues to grow. What’s your suggestion for being able to follow your passion when financially it might not even be feasible?
Mr. Blaylock responded by saying that he worked as many as 3 jobs at a time to be able to get to where he is today. (Of course, he went to both Georgetown and NYU on full scholarships, so he really knows little about paying off college loans).
President Sexton looked befuddled. It was clearly something that plagued him, the horrible position NYU puts the middle class in. His answer to me was:
Well, for students in positions like yours (Ed. Note: 60% of the NYU student body!), I have to really wonder if you belong at NYU. Is the debt worth being here?
A cruel answer if you consider that most of his speech revolved around pursuing your passion. What if NYU is my passion? Are you telling me that because the university squanders its endowment on buying more NYC real estate and can’t afford to help me pay tuition that I don’t belong here?
I don’t think he meant it in such harsh terms, but it really twisted the knife. The truth is, he doesn’t have an answer, and for the 60% of NYU students whose parents make just enough to be ineligible for need based financial aid, and not enough that they are unable to pay tuition without taking out huge loans, President Sexton kind of just said… well fuck you.
I understand this is a difficult and tenuous issue. It’s true that NYU does not have the kind of endowment that the Ivies boast. But for a man who seems to relish in the idea of pursuing what you love (he put off law school until he was 30 in lieu of helping teach underprivileged students in Brooklyn), it was a highly troubling answer.
Not to mention it hurt my feelings.
At the end of the meeting, the Senior Director of Alumni Relations came up to me and offered I have a discussion with her about possibly using a recent gift made to the university to help pay for my study abroad experience. That would be an amazing opportunity that I would be unimaginably grateful for, but what about the other 60% of NYU students stuck in my same situation? Who have to work shitty work study jobs to pay for housing? Who can’t follow their dreams and nab those incredible internships because they have to make money to help pay for school?
What about them?
President Sexton did come up with two solutions, which may help some kids, but for students like me struggling right now they don't offer much alleviation:
1. They are opening up a campus in Abu Dhabi in 2010; the university secured a deal with the King that those students accepted to NYU whose parents make under $200,000 a year get to go for free, with tuition, room and board paid for, as well as a stipend for traveling; that's well and great, but it's not for another 2 years. Plus you have to go to school in Abu Dhabi.
2. He discussed a loan forgiveness program that he is working on in conjuction with newly appointed NY Governor Patterson that would forgive student loans if the student stays in New York for 10 years. This sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice, would it really work out? And what about the loans I have now?
I know that most of this is my fault. I didn't have the foresight to understand the nuances and reality that digging myself into so much debt would birth; but at the same time, what 17 year old high school student does? And for his solution to those kids who want to go to NYU desperately and have to borrow thousands of dollars to make it a reality to be: well, maybe you don't belong here... well, that's just a little bit discouraging.
The thing is, I really like President Sexton as a person. He is kind and honest and forthright, and I appreciated that he spoke so candidly about such a complicated issue. But it really just wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. And in truth, it didn't solve shit.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I'm thinking about picking up some extra cash this summer by being a phone sex operator. There are lots of benefits: you get to make your own hours and work from home and you get paid really well. It's obviously the furthest foray I would ever make into the sex industry (besides writing about sex, of course), but it seems like a feasible option. And no, it's not trashy. Some of the ladies at Jezebel even worked as operators. It might be a good way to make money on top of my typical 9-5 gig. And according to Josh, I'd be "good at it" because I'm "sexual."
So has anyone out there ever worked in the industry? Or have thoughts about how this might be a good/bad idea?
But when someone asked Chelsea Clinton if she feels her mother's credibility was damaged at all during Bill's sex scandal, she answered (quite rudely): I do not think that's any of your business. Clip below.
Of course it's our business! Your mother is running to become THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD. If a college student has a question about her credibility, you answer it. No one (except maybe Hillz) asked you to campaign for your mom; did her PR person not brief you that shit like this might come up? Another woman put your Dad's dick in her mouth! If that was our business, then how it impacted his wife certainly is too.
I have sympathy for Chelsea. Really, I do. That must have been an unimaginably awful question to have to answer; but campaigning is difficult, and Hillary is known for her dirty tactics. Buck up, Chels. Your mom's youth vote stats might even depend on it.
The truth is that college has become as superfluous as high school. It's just another stepping stone to get you to where you want to be in the dreaded Real World. But if you want to stand out you have to go to grad school, and then maybe even enter a PhD program. I tried to talk to my mom about this and of course it came back to one thing: student loans.
Yes, I'm going to be in debt for the rest of my life. Yes, NYU sucks when it comes to financial aid and I'm basically paying to learn nothing and be branded as an NYU graduate so I can enter the job market with this glowing stamp of collegiate approval on my breast. But considering how many alums call the NYU Alumni Office (where I schlep away day in and day out losing brain cells to envelopes and nametags) searching for help finding jobs, the idea that going to NYU will help me in any real way is kind of, um... not true.
Not to mention the fact that I completely feel like I'm not learning anything, much in the same way I did in high school; I go to lecture, I take notes like a robot, and I pore over them so I can perform well on tests and exams that don't measure shit in the end, because I'm going to forget everything I studied the second I hand the Blue Book in. I learn more by reading articles from the Gawker blogring(/dynasty) than I do by listening to my professor (who looks suspiciously like Larry David) drone on and on about the history of NYC's labor parties. I learn more by bitching on this blog and analyzing news stories and coming up with something important to say than I do spewing out useless facts about the American Revolution. And I'm paying $48,000/year to spew that shit! AND I'm in the most liberal program NYU offers!
So, to continue on with this week's theme started by Josh: New York, I love you, but fuck your lack of good media internships that resonate with me in any real way. And fuck how easy it is to project all my problems onto you. Now I'm going to get drunk off of $4 drinks at the only bar I can afford in Manhattan. Happy hump day!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The trouble with this is that I was really excited to call my Dad and tell him about my good news; he's great at being proud of me, and I'm great at accepting his pride, so it's kind of a win/win.
But see, now my Dad wants to read my blog. It's fine that my Mom reads it (and sometimes comments on it), because she's okay with the fact that I get high a lot and talk about how girls should have lots of sex and sometimes act like an outright bitch. But my Dad still has this vision of me as his perfect little girl, and if he reads Jess and Josh, this is what he'll see:
1. Lots of talk about my vagina. He likes to pretend I don't have a vagina. To him, my body cuts off at the neck until the ankles. Yes, to my father I am a head on a pair of feet.
2. Posts (playfully) mocking him for scarring me with Solzhenitsyn and being the principal of my high school.
3. He'll know that I just plain thought it was funny when he caught me smoking weed on Christmas, and all that remorse was a bunch of bullshit.
4. He'll know that I'm a harlot.
5. He'll know that that time I slept over at Kathryn Nestor's house in 8th grade I was actually getting drunk, not working on a school project.
Okay, so it's all out there. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Dad, if you're reading this, heheheh... you can't ground me anymore! And also, okay this is really hard for me.... umm... I'm sorry?
But really, what was she thinking? I know she's still into boho chic, and add a little leather in there and I'm all gung-ho, but really, Kate Moss? Really? It looks like Mary-Kate Olsen threw up on a bunch of scarves that Lauren Conrad then drunkenly sewed together. Kate: stick to what you know- drugs, not eating, and being hollow inside.
At least I'm not the only one. The newest L Magazine has an article that pretty much sums up what my life will be in five years. In case you don't want to read it because, I don't know, you don't like L Mag because Gawker makes fun of it, it says that the "middle class" of New York City have it a lot tougher than those making equal amounts of money in other parts of the country; between high rent and high prices for everything, it creates a difficult financial situation. The end of the article suggests that a lot of these struggling middle-class New Yorkers will eventually have to live the city.
Recently, my parents asked me what I want to do after college. I can't tell you what I'm getting for dinner tonight--let alone my life plan two years from now--but I've always seen myself staying in New York the rest of my life. Why would I leave this bustling city, filled with bars open until 4am and a welcoming gay community?
Money. Money is why I would leave. Things have gotten pretty tight in my family, and the fact that I still don't have a job certainly doesn't help things. I don't go out to dinner as much as I used to; I really don't have shopping money anymore; and even events like going to the movies require some degree of monetary compromise.
Is this the life I want? I'm an English major with a Creative Writing minor. Unless I magically write and publish a bestselling novel--or, you know, blow a governor--I can't see my financial status changing all that much. Even if/when I get a job, I'll be far from financially comfortable. And rent prices in New York are just going to keep climbing, and prices on food and drinks and clothes will of course always be astronomical. And last night, after reading that article, as I drifted off to sleep, I seriously gave thought to moving away.
Not during college, of course. I'm an NYU student, so it wouldn't make sense for me to live anywhere else. And of course, who knows where my life will be in two years (or even two weeks?) But would living in Hoboken be so bad? The PATH train runs to and from New York 24/7, so I could come to New York pretty much whenever I wanted. Rent would be lower. Grabbing an after-work drink at the bar would be cheaper. And far fewer obnoxious tourists, to boot.
Jess has told me that if I ever left New York she'd hate me for it; I wouldn't be a true "New Yorker." But what does that even mean? Do I want to be a New Yorker? Is this city really the be-all, end-all of culture and excitement? And if so, how much do I care about that? I hardly immerse myself in the culture of the town as it is--unless you count getting high and going to Olive Garden as cultural--and I don't know if I want to be a "New Yorker" because it's truly meant for me or just because it sounds cool.
What all this means is I need a fucking job. And for my money tree to start growing. I watered it twice yesterday--what's the holdup?
Are there any hot NYU girls who are turned on by an attractive, affluent man in his 50´s with a long, very thick cock? Not looking for pros, just very horny girls. Let me know
Who knew Elliot Spitzer posted on Juicy Campus?
P.S. I'm totally responding to this. I dig older men. I'm picturing George Clooney with Javier Bardem's dick.
Monday, March 24, 2008
So Jess has been writing eloquent and well-argued posts supporting Obama and criticizing Hillary Clinton. As you may or may not know, I am a Hillary fan. And here's why.
First, Jess mentioned that voting another Clinton into office would further the dynastic trend that has shaped American politics--most notably in the presidency--since 1988. But America is a dynastic nation, like it or not. We may have fought a war against Britain to throw off the shackles of monarchy, but we've never quite shed the notion that some families are simply destined and determined for greatness. When we had won the election, the people asked Washington if he would be America's king; fortunately, he said no, and explained to us how hypocritical that would be, but it's telling that our revolutionary people's first instinct was to find a new king. Our second president was John Adams...and our sixth was his son. FDR, one of the most celebrated presidents in American history, was related to Teddy Roosevelt, and it's surely no coincidence that Frank followed his fifth cousin in ascending to the White House. John F. Kennedy later became president, and various other Kennedys, to various degrees of success, have followed suit. Sure, electing the son doesn't always work out, but to argue that electing another Clinton for president goes against the nature of our country is an idealistic notion; if anything, it proves the maxim that history repeats itself.
Then there's the matter of experience. Hillary hasn't been a senator long, but then, neither has Obama. Hillary gains the upper hand in that she lived in the White House for eight years. On top of that, she actually took action; sure, her health care plan kind of blew up in her face, but at least she did something. She was not content to just be a president's wife; she decided she was going to play an important role in the governance of this nation. That instinct for leadership doesn't happen in many people. Also, well, Hillary knows how things in the White House work. Again, she lived there for a while. She knows how to grease the right wheels, what to say and who to say it to, and--especially being married to Bill--exactly what a president can and cannot get away with, politically and other wise. Does that sound shady? The presidency is rarely a squeaky-clean office. But it requires an understanding of political nuance with which Hillary has more experience than Obama. Look, I think Barack will make a great presidential candidate someday. Just not now. I'd rather see him stay on Capitol Hill for a little while longer, get a little more politically seasoned, get to know Washington a little more fully, and then run. I just don't think he's ready yet. I mean, what do I know about how much experience a person should have before he or she is presidential material? So maybe I'm wrong, and maybe he is ready. But that makes Clinton ready as well. Ready-er, if you will.
Finally, a lot of people have said that in a race against McCain, Obama would do better. It's true that he is less of a polarizing figure; plenty of people hate Hillary, but few hate Obama. That said, the Republicans have time and time again relied on brilliantly manipulative and harsh advertisements, attacks, and statements in debates to defeat their opponents (Swift Boat, anyone?) As the 3am-phone-call ad suggests, the Clinton camp is ready to take on the Republican spin machine. I think Clinton could throw barbs right back at McCain, with a woman's scorn to boot. Obama has not been able to attack Clinton as memorably as she has attacked him. Say what you will about the state of modern American politics, in which attacks get you ahead, but it's naive to think that playing nice will win you an election, especially against a Republican party more desperate than ever.
So. Go Hillary! They had you pinned for dead, but you won Ohio and Texas. You're far from out of this race. And when this Democratic nomination election gets decided by superdelegates--which it almost certainly will--I hope that you still have your superdelegate lead.
"Mike" had been bullied as a kid. We went to the same elementary school, and I still feel guilty today for standing by as other kids called him names and goaded him into fistfights he could never win. When someone found a condom wrapper on the soccer field during a fire drill, rumors swirled that he had been responsible. Even though the blatant bullying had died down by the time we were in high school, "Mike" was never well liked, and when I would give him rides home after Drama Club rehearsals, I secretly hoped nobody else was watching us get into my car.
I'm sure that makes me a bad person, but we all remember the social laws of middle and high schools: if you weren't the one being picked on, you stayed out of it and felt grateful that the victim wasn't you.
I guess you could call me lucky. There were other gay kids in my high school, and students with disabilities, and the occasional downright ugly person. Boys and girls alike were tormented by bullies and the popular set. Surprisingly, I was not one of the victims.
I never formally "came out" in high school; rather, by the time senior year rolled around, if someone were to ask me if I liked guys, I would answer truthfully. But nobody ever did. The two other outed fags were picked on, called names, and one time, one of them was beaten up, showing up to school the next day with makeup covering his black eye. Sure, everyone probably knew I was gay, and I'm sure people trashed me when I wasn't around. But for whatever reason, I was never outright picked on.
Some kids aren't so lucky. I read this story, shocked of course, but also somewhat surprised. Call me judgmental, but from the pictures, he looks more like one of the kids who would do the teasing in my hometown, instead of being teased. Billy Wolfe isn't gay, whatever "learning disability" he has doesn't seem to be that big a deal, and he isn't a minority. So it confuses me as to why he's bullied.
And then I see articles like this, and I get pissed off. Bullying is not natural. It's not an aid to the growing-up process, nor should it be ignored by parents and administrators. When a kid like Billy is punched to the point of unconsciousness, it's not a boys-will-be-boys situation. If anything, it's more like adolescent terrorism, only the goals are more social and ritualistic than political.
It becomes a ritual. Even though I was his friend, I made my share of "Mike" jokes back in elementary school. Often the jokes wouldn't even be about him; rather, he served as an easy punchline. He represented anything repulsive: "Would you rather have sex with your mother or with Mike"-type "jokes" were all too common.
So when administrators ignore blatant and violent bullying, like they have done in Billy's case, the problem won't go away on its own. If anything, with the advent of the Internet, it will be easier to collect gossip and trash-talk about people like Billy, providing further fodder and easier plans for his tormentors. If adult authorities don't put a stop to it now, it will never stop. Billy will go on to college, a damaged boy due to his harsh childhood treatment. Eventually he'll take out his frustrations and anger on someone else, someone who never did anything to him, someone who could be an easy target for his pent-up rage. And the bullying will continue, with lucky kids like me barely dodging my peers' fists.
UPDATE: Oh my god they just started kissing. No tongue, but it was still more than a peck on the cheek. Had I eaten breakfast this morning I'd be throwing it up right now.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
ANON: i'm in my room with the lights off and the window open and i have the mountain goats on a repeated loop
JESS: yes but are you crying?
ANON: i'm smoking
ANON: does that count?
JESS: you have to be at least feeling a little sad while you smoke
JESS: hopeless would be best
ANON: i'm thinking about the state of my life in a solemn way
JESS: that works
Last night after eating an entire pizza at our friend's apartment in the W. Village, Ashley and I came home and started having a stoned conversation about how we became friends. Our group of friends is so strange because there's no direct lineage tracing back to how we know each other. Well, there is one thing: Facebook.
Ashley and David lived on the same floor last year, but the rest of us knew each other simply through Facebook; it's how I met my current roommate Dhani, and it's how I knew who Josh was that fateful night at the rooftop party even though he didn't even live in my building. It's how I knew David was (unfortunately) gay and that Sam was rich and that Luvina's mom was the character from Diary of a Mad Black Woman. (Not really but they tricked me there for awhile)
But isn't that strange? How has Facebook changed the nature of friendship?
If this had been college 10 years ago, there would be no Facebook, and we'd all be forced to just befriend the people around us. Friendships would most likely be more based on convenience, and we wouldn't be so damn picky about who we're friends with. I probably wouldn't be friends with any of the people I am now simply because there would really be no way of meeting them and getting to know their interests. I'd stick to the people living on my floor, and maybe a few in my classes, and call it a day.
But the thing about Facebook is it has allowed people to be so much more discerning about who they're going to befriend. Don't like the music they list? Don't have to be their friend. Facebook has allowed us to not only perfectly tailor our own interests, but also make sure we choose people to be friends with who have interests that line up exactly with the kind of people we think we want to know.
And I think that's a little bit tragic. Friendship now is so much more robotic and so much less organic. Incoming freshman choose the people they want to know, and those they don't, based on a few little boxes on a ridiculously popular website, as opposed to getting to know them and seeing if they actually click or not. In some ways, Facebook also mandates social circle boundaries; people go with what they know, and Facebook allows you to avoid befriending anyone that you don't think fits into your archetype of a friend. Therefore cultural, linguistic and ethnic hurdles are less surmounted than before Facebook, simply because you can choose the most white-washed inoffensive person and decide to be bff with them.
So not only has Facebook changed the way friendships operate, but it has also completely retooled self-identity. Our friend Mike deleted his Facebook a few months ago and the running joke was that he now "didn't exist." If I meet a guy in a bar and he doesn't have a Facebook I consider that to be unquestionably shady. When did Facebook become a birth certificate, a driver's license and a passport, all at once?
It's true in some ways that if you don't have a Facebook you don't exist. You don't know about parties, you don't know about relationships and you can't see the most recent slutty pictures that trashy tanorexic girl from your high school who now goes to a shitty state school posted. But the deeper problem is not that others don't think you exist, but that possibly, without a Facebook, you don't think you exist!
I am probably one of those people and Josh is definitely one. We often joke about how he takes his Facebook "way too seriously." And in a way I think it's because it's become an integral part of how he views himself. To have ironic, silly jokes in each of the little boxes makes us feel like we're ironic, silly people and cuts through the pretension that our MisShapes default pictures conjure. With such painstaking concentration and somberness do people fill out their profile, because they know that they're going to be judged on it; not only by other people, but by themselves.
In this way Facebook has become this specter, an alternate life looming over everyone, filling in the gaps that our own personal pursuit for self-discovery can't patch together. And are we really okay with that?