Friday, May 9, 2008

An Interview with MTV's Amanda Lorber


Voila!

Jessica: I guess I just wanted to start out with some general questions. My first question would be, how did MTV first approach you about doing the series?

Amanda: Well we heard about a casting call that was online for an accomplished school newspaper. They wanted us to send in a video, so we sent in a mish-mosh weirdly put together video application thing and sent that in. And then they got back to us and told us we were one of the best they had seen, so a few of us went and talked to the principal and asked him if it would be ok if we could continue to be in the running. Then they narrowed it down to three and finally they picked us. And it was really surreal at first-- it was still kind of unrealistic because they were only going to be filming a pilot show which was going to have to compete against a bunch of other MTV pilots to see which one would get a TV show. But finally they chose us.

J: Okay, so given the bad rap a lot of people get on reality shows, what made you decide this would be a good choice for you and for your staff?

A: I know you’ve watched it and when they sold us the idea it’s a “docuseries”-- it’s not necessarily a reality show because most reality shows are scripted and in our case none of it is scripted. My big reason for doing it was it would be a really good opportunity to encourage other students to pick up journalism in high scool. Because if you pick it up then you’ll continue with it.

J: Did you get paid at all?

A: We got paid a lump sum but we’re not allowed to talk about how much.

J: Okay. One of my other favorite shows on MTV besides “The Paper” is “The Hills,” which is rampantly popular and your show comes on right afterwards. I don’t know if you watch “The Hills,” but how do you feel being led in by MTV’s most popular reality show?

A: When I first heard it was going to run after “The Hills” I was confused because I didn’t see how the same viewers would appreciate our show. I think it’s a great honor to be behind a show that does so well behind MTV. If we were behind “Tila Tequila” I would’ve been mad – I would be an angry little journalist right now. I didn’t realize what kinds of viewers we were going to have and now that the show has aired I see it’s a great honor to be following “The Hills” because it has the greatest population, but I think we have enough drama and passion to wrangle the same type of viewers. Because I’ve seen now from viewer comments and blogs like yours that you can appreciate our show without being a journalist. I mean, journalists watch it, professional journalists, high school students, adults, parents. I think we’ve gotten a pretty big audience from what I’ve seen. I think it’s got a little of everything for everybody.

J: What was the filming schedule like? Did they film 24/7?

A: It was more planned and scheduled, although it was kind of sporadic because I had a lot of important classes I was taking and I needed to make sure my schoolwork came first. They did film every day in school though.

J: Do you think that people joined the newspaper because they wanted to be on MTV?

A: No, because the ones that tried to were kicked out. If somebody tried to join without the prerequisite of Journalism 1, my teacher knew they were just trying to be on TV. So most people wouldn’t do it because they had to take the prerequisite so they knew they weren’t going to be on film.

J: So are they still filming now?

A: No, I don’t know if they’re going to do a reunion; they’re looking for another staffer for season 2 and I don’t know if that’s a complete go but I know that they’re looking right now.

J: Your family is noticeably absent from filming-- was that a conscious decision?

A: Do you know what it was? If they were filming after school both my parents work! So I was alone with my little brother, who wasn’t in the shots. But yeah, they do make me look like an emancipated minor. I’m not alone! My parents just both work. But you’ll see more of my family in the episodes to come. They’re my inspiration, and my dog Gabby - you get to see a lot of her.

J: Speaking of Alex, are you guys still on the rocks or have you mended up your friendship?

A: Um, we are merely acquaintances now. When it comes to working together, we do it and we’re a good team for putting the newspaper together.

J: Do you feel that they edited you in a way that misrepresented you or you felt wasn’t like your true self?

A: I think that I’m a little more normal than I come off in the show. I am a very spirited person and slightly eccentric-- I have my eccentric tendencies. But I’m a little more normal. I’m not quite as bossy. And I’m not a loner! I have a lot of best friends, most of them are in musical theatre, and then Cassia - who is on the show - is my best friend of all time. We have a band - Cassia and the Amandance kid. We’re writing another song about bad Florida drivers right now and it will be on Youtube.

J: The show is airing right now and you’re still in school, so how has that affected your friendships and how has the school reacted to its newfound fame?

A: People who aren’t even associated with the show get recognition wherever they go: “Oh you’re the school that’s on TV, you guys are Cypress Bay, wow.” And sometimes the response isn’t so good but it really depends on the type of viewer. For me and the other cast members we get a lot of recognition in public. I get recognition when I’m out in public now, at the movie theatre someone followed me into the theatre the other day - it’s a little freaky. I take pictures with people, I signed a t-shirt, I signed a tush.

J: Okay, so do you consider yourself a celebrity now? Do you feel like this status will positively affect you in the future when you come to NY?

A: I don’t see it as celebrity status because I think celebrity has to be more - I know that we’re nationally televised but I feel like you have to be more than that - I think we’ve received acclaim and recognition. And I do think that it could possibly help me. If my future employers decide to watch the show and they look at our newspaper at cypressbaycircuit.com, I think they’d be very impressed and perhaps it could open doors. This is what I want do with my life so having a TV show about something I want to pursue in the future is not half bad.

J: Okay, so what kind of journalism do you want to go into?

A: I’m really very fond of print, but depending on who you speak to it could be a dying breed. I know that you’ve transitioned into online as well--

J: Yeah, NYU Local is all online.

A: Right. And I think that I could, if I need to, I’ll definitely make the transition to whatever I need to to stay in the journalism industry - print, online, perhaps magazine. I’m really into serious news pieces, but I love in depth features and entertainment writing. I really like every kind of newspaper writing with the exception of sports writing. I love everything about newspapers, even the texture. I like getting that ink on my hands; it makes me feel like I’m doing something.

J: Now -- I have to ask this question. MTV made a big deal about the fact that you got a nose job, how did you feel about that being televised and did you do it because you were going to be on TV or was it something you had been considering prior?

A: My surgery was something I had been contemplating for years. This was not for TV. It wasn’t for a medical purpose and it was definitely to help enhance my appearance. And I have to say this was not something I did spontaneously-- this was something I put a lot of thought into. I don’t think it’s so far reaching to say that most high school students have insecurities -- everybody does. I think that some people can see surgery like that as vain, I see it as a method of self improvement that I could not have done naturally. People work at improving themselves all the time and this is just another way to do that. I didn’t love having it televised, I wasn’t too happy about it - that’s why there’s not all that much footage about it. I don’t want people to see it and think that I was this vain, uncomfortable person, because I’m quite confident in my abilities, like my writing abilities. I’m confident with what I do in school, theatre performances, there are a lot of things you can be confident about, but I had issues with my appearance like most girls do. And some girls choose to do something about it whether it’s a surgical procedure or wearing a lot of makeup or things like that. And I just want to say I’m not encouraging surgery for young girls or anybody watching. I contemplated a long time before I did it.

Me: OK so -- what made you decide to come to NYU?

A: It’s been my dream school for years. It started off as my dream school because I wanted to do theatre and it doesn’t explain on the show that the first thing I wanted to do with my life was be on Broadway. And I had always loved to write and it had always come kind of naturally to me, and I was always a really avid reader. I used to read at the dinner table when I was a little kid. But Broadway was kind of my first passion; and then I transitioned into something more realistic that would be more rewarding for a longer period of time. And it was kind of by accident; I fell into it in 9th grade and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into newspaper -- but I’m going to say it was the best mistake of my life. And NYU was just the place where they had it all, and it’s so prestigious and it’s such a prestigious school and I think I’ll be surrounded by people who are similar to myself for the most part -- people like you!

J: Awesome! So, are there any misconceptions you feel the show put forth that you wanted to clear up?

A: I think that I’m a very friendly and not bossy person! I’m mildly eccentric and more on the normal side. I am theatrical - they did pin that.

J: Yeah I’m surprised you haven’t broken out into song yet during this interview.

A: Yeah I thought about it but then I wanted to make sure this was a serious interview for you.

J: Okay well that’s all I have. Thank you so much-- I really appreciate it.

A: Thank you.

J: Hopefully I’ll see you around campus or at an NYU Local meeting.

A: I want to go meet you right when I get there-- I really do!

J: Okay awesome. Well good luck with everything!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Amanda is Awesome

I finished up my interview with Amanda Lorber a little while ago, and from what I could collect in 30 minutes, she is sweet, intelligent and overall a really great person. I feel really lucky to have been awarded the opportunity to interview her.

I recorded the interview in two ways. Firstly, I put her on speaker and used iMovie to record our conversation. Because it's about 30 minutes long, I have to upload the convo into three segments because Youtube only lets you do clips of 10 minutes or less. It's going to take all night :(

I also typed up the interview, which I will synthesize into an article for NYU Local, and also paste here. So get excited! This is probably one of the coolest things I've gotten to experience as a blogger and journalist.

-Jess

Why I Write

Jess just wrote a great essay about the therapy of her writing. In keeping with that theme, and as the other half of this blog, I want to talk about writing as well, or at least the driving forces behind my writing.

My online career started back in middle school. I think it was sixth grade, but it may have been seventh. I still hadn't started instant messaging, and when my friends would talk about their new screen names or how many people were on their buddy list (such were the conversation starters in my school at the time), I felt out of place and sadly out of touch, like a parent trying to understand this newfangled rap music or a historical figure who wound up traveling through time and landing in the present day. Writing, I thought, involved a pen (never a pencil) and paper. If I wanted to talk to someone, I had a phone and a bike. And if I wanted to talk about my feelings--because yes, I had feelings back then, complicated feelings that I didn't fully understand but still managed to affect me and keep me up at night--I had a psychologist for that.

But then my friend showed me her LiveJournal, and I was hooked. She's a great writer, and even then, her penchant for writing, for fantasy and metaphor, through her amateurish clauses dangling behind misplaced semicolons and allusions to bands I'd never heard of, I could tell she was talented. I read her LiveJournal every day, and created an account so I could comment on her entries. It wasn't long before I wanted one of my own. Actually, what I wanted was an almost religious following, hundreds of commenters poring over my every word, sympathizing with my sadness and chiding my enemies, arguing amongst themselves about what I really meant and how I really felt. But I was a seventh-grade nobody, so LiveJournal it was, and from the moment cooldude88's LiveJournal was born, I considered myself a Writer. I kept my LiveJournal for years.

My LiveJournal, looking back on it (or rather, thinking back on it; I have regrettably long since deleted the account), was perhaps too honest for a public forum. I'd talk about my day, my friends, the peeks at other boys in the gym locker room and the lazy sunset dropping in the sky, the fights I got into with my parents and the disconnect I felt with my younger brother. I talked about administrative atrocities and unfair grades, what I was wearing and why I liked the Shins, what made me feel different and the ways I could be exactly the same as everyone else, the latter of which is certainly every adolescent's deepest desire. But it was very honest and very public, and it got me into trouble more than once. One of my friends would read something I'd written about them and then ask (or yell at) me about it, and even though I was flattered by the attention, I was truly surprised that they'd actually read what I wrote, that people read my LiveJournal.

I don't know if it was ever therapy for me. I mean, I got my feelings out in the open, and it felt good, but I can't say that my LiveJournal got me through any specific problems. It's one thing to talk about your problems, and quite another to do something about them, and I fear that I too often assumed that those two actions were one and the same; by writing about how much it sucked to not be attracted to girls, I guess I thought my hormones would magically realign themselves and I would be normal. On the other hand, if therapy is nothing more than the release from private burden by sharing your insecurities, then my LiveJournal indeed became my surrogate psychologist, and we met with frequency.

Eventually one of my posts got out of hand and pissed a lot of people off, so I decided that with the end of my East Brunswick education would come the end of my LiveJournal, and the day I deleted the account was funereal. Yes, I copied and pasted the entries into a private Word document, but after numerous laptop crashes and a faulty flash drive, I'm not sure they are accessible anymore. I'm okay with that, thought. As nice as it would be to reread the words that more or less defined my adolescence, I'm not sure I need to get back to that place. Not that I've forgotten who I was or denied my past, but I've come to New York and changed in a lot of ways, and the important things from my childhood I've taken with me, and whatever didn't make it probably didn't make it for a reason.

Today I have two outlets. There's this blog, that has both personal and practical functions. I tend to view this blog for the most part as an exercise in blog-style journalism, commenting on the news stories that outrage or excite me, or maybe venting about college and how crowded Broadway gets on weekends (seriously, people with strollers, learn to walk.) Of course, it's also a personal venture, and sometimes I question the decision to write entires about certain things, because it should be obvious by now that I'm pretty neurotic, but I don't know if that's the best--or even, day I say, more honest--projection to give of myself. Like, some of the things I write about here and open up for comments are things it would take me months or years to share with real-life friends, and it's easier to write about things than talk about them, but the more I think about that, the more I wonder why that is.

And then there's my pseudo-journal, a locked Word document I update every so often when something horrible has happened. Whenever something goes really wrong with my life, I update it, and it does make me feel better to get those words on paper. I've been scared to write some of the sentences that appear in that document, knowing they contain truths I'm still not ready to admit. The secret crushes I've harbored, what bothers me about the people to whom I am closest at this school, aspects of my life of which I am ashamed, the time during orientation I cried alone in my room because I hadn't made any friends and thought and feared the next four years would be just like this, an extension of my ostracized adolescence, and I could hear kids drinking and laughing down the hall but all I could do was pity myself and call my parents every few hours pretending the reason I was upset was because I was sick--all these things make up that document, most of which I will never show anyone ever, even if I become a famous author and am offered a hundred million dollars to reveal my secrets to the world in a special-edition, leather-bound edition. The words in that document are my shadows, trailing my mistakes and lingering on the page like light dancing against a wall; those words feel alive, ever so distant yet freshly written, a verbal museum of all the shit that's hit the fan at NYU.

I still consider myself a Writer, because I think anyone who writes as a method of expression is a Writer. And that's what I do, I express myself. I articulate the fears that would otherwise stay inside me and poison my conscience, and I put into words the memories in my mind that organize themselves like a Rolodex, popping up whenever needed, each one perfectly tailored to fit almost any situation. I started writing not so I could better understand the world around me, but so I could be honest with myself, so I would know I had an outlet through which I could vent about all the things that piss me off, and so entry by entry, sentence by sentence, word by word, I could become a better writer. In other words, I started writing so that I could never stop.

-Josh

Therapy Through Blogging


This article on Jezebel touched upon some issues I've been thinking about for awhile. How has blogging affected the way we communicate with each other, and in turn, has it changed our desire to express ourselves from an entirely private matter to something necessarily public?

I’m not sure why I started writing. I don’t remember the specific day or even the year when I made the conscious decision to put a pen to paper. All I have are little clips of memories that sometimes have the semblance of logic and align themselves into the scenes of my life. I remember voraciously filling notebooks with stories of little girls going on vacation and winning Spelling Bees and playing hopscotch. On a patterned couch that served more as a decoration than a symbol for relaxation, I composed my first story, entitled “Caroline’s Chemistry Set.” The basic premise of the story included a little girl who saved a crashing plane with her chemistry set. The naivety of my first stories was endearing, and my parents quickly anointed me an exceptional little author.


But when high school hit, I became entrenched in the drama that the teenage years are known for, engaging in the constant fighting and belittling and lying. These were miserable years, oozing with deceit and self-hatred and lust. I faithfully kept a diary of my antics, because I knew somewhere deep down that I would want to remember that stage of my life.

In my diary I outlined every lie and illegal activity, so that I could always look back, whether it was with fondness or disgust, and still be able to connect with who I was at 15. I had the distinct desire to preserve every conversation, every turn of the head, every moment that would somehow connect me to my younger self when I turned old and grey and surely out of touch.

In 9th grade, this intrinsic drive to document my life turned sour. My mother, concerned about my recent rash behavior, paged through my diary and quickly learned not only of my bad behavior, but also every thought that had run through my meager brain since grade school. In turn, she unwittingly siphoned away my desire to write.

In retrospect, her concerns were of honest descent, but I still don’t feel even her motherhood justified her actions. Not only was I grounded for all of my misconduct, but the will to write and communicate all those feelings and events slowly drained out of me. Writing, for me, became rotten. For months I could not write because I could not trust my parents to award me the privacy I needed to do so. Even the most innocent of entries seemed dead and hung on the page with a dull sense of readability. I was censoring myself. Every word I put down appeared with the intent of someone else reading it. Knowing this inevitably changed my writing, and I lost myself in that.


But slowly, as the months passed, and my mother promised repeatedly to never snoop in my things again, I began to gain back what I’d lost. That honesty, that bluntness which made my writing so refreshing, began to unknowingly seep back into my words. And as I grew, the innocent life I had simultaneously cultivated and fought against was twisted and marred. My pen became my weapon against the world’s evils - my parents’ divorce, my father’s remarriage and the never-ending chain of meaningless relationships which came to symbolize my restlessness.


But ultimately, I was afraid of showing my writing to anyone. It became a gateway into places I was too afraid to broadcast: Look here. Touch here. Hurt me here. I was shy and afraid to admit that I had something I wanted to share, something I needed fucking desperately to share.


I cracked at the beginning of this year. Until my first poetry class, I refused to show any of my work to anyone I didn’t wholly trust. Even my best friends from high school have yet to see the things I’ve put together, because I am afraid of rejection. A writer afraid of rejection! Tough luck, huh?



But the feedback I got from my poetry workshop was positive, and eventually I began to gain confidence in my abilities. I began to realize that while writing what was inside was cathartic, so too was sharing it with people who could take things away from it. And so began this blog, Jess and Josh, a vanity project as we often times joke, but also an exercise in what it’s like to be human. In connecting with people. In laying it all bare for people to dissect, accept, reject. Jess and Josh has made it easier for me to talk about things that are important, things that I would typically shy away from because their intensity inherently births discomfort. The people around me have matured to the point where I don’t necessarily have to be wary of off-topic, mean-spirited comments as I may have been in high school, but I think what I am doing here is not as important for the people who read Jess and Josh as it is for me. This is like THERAPY for Josh and me, however fucked up that sounds.

And it even stretches to issues beyond those I’d be comfortable discussing on Jess and Josh, because yes, there are topics I do try to keep secret. I do not want to become Julia Allison by any means.

My father read the post I wrote about him, calling him weak, attacking him where it hurts most. I thought that would be the end of our relationship, but in fact it has made it stronger. I did not recoil the way I did when my mother read my diary when I was 14. Instead I acknowledged that I had written it, that I meant it, that we both deserved some long overdue honesty. And though it hasn’t necessarily produced immediate change, I do not regret him reading it. In a lot of ways, it was important for both of us that he did.

In a world where technology overrides everything, where my roommate IMs me from the six feet away, where my parents text message me instead of calling, where we are wholly connected in all ways all the time, blogs have become an important medium for cathartic self-work. They have replaced the afternoon teatimes and book clubs and social gatherings. We can whine and bitch about how the computer has connected us in many ways and disconnected us in larger ways, but we cannot fight against it. What’s done is done. So this is my way of remembering how to be human, even if it is through HTML.

-Jess

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Concerning Our New Header

12th grade

A friend of mine from high school, Mazi, was kind enough to Photoshop the gorgeous new header on display now at Jess and Josh. He also listens to me bitch about my family, boys and how bad Death Cab's new album is. So -- thank you, Mazi!

-Jess

Top 5 Things to Love About NYU

Disclaimer: I sent this to Ned to go in the Opinions section of NYU Local and he rejected it on the basis that it doesn't have a central argument. I'd say its central argument is why NYU sucks, and its supporting source is SNARK.

The administration and the school have been catching a lot of flack from this here website, so I thought it might be time for a list of the things that make NYU great. Below are the Top 5 Reasons to fucking love NYU.

1. Strawberry Fest: New York’s longest strawberry shortcake! Moonbounces! Marginally talented NYU students singing their little hearts out!
Disclaimer: With this strawberry flavored sno-cone, you acknowledge that all wounds inflicted by your growing debt, anger at the lack of knowledgeable professors and administration and a startling shortage of available straight guys shall be exonerated.

2. The Connectedness of the NYU Community: NYU is a large school, but students and NYU officials work hard to maintain school solidarity lost to our lack of a cheerleading squad. The best example of NYU’s attempt at bringing people together is no doubt symbolized by the Silver elevators. Hoarded in by security guards with plastic badges like cows to the slaughter, it’s the perfect time to comment on the flavor of iced coffee someone chose at Starbucks on the Square, or to remind someone that removing their backpack would really help you in the personal space department. It’s also perfect grounds for practicing the “strained smile,” a necessary technique needed when you awkwardly encounter people you talked to in a lecture or who lived on your floor freshman year and then never saw again.

3. Greek Life: As a freshman, there’s no better way to meet your fellow drunk freshmen than attending one of the rockin’ frat or sorority sponsored events held at the beginning of the year. It’s the only time you won’t have to show your freshly procured fake ID (especially if you stuff your ass into a pleather skirt) and you’ll be willing to spend $15 on a margarita. Hey! I think that junior over there is checking you out – be sure to cover your drink with your hand when he comes over to pretend to talk to you while looking down your shirt!

4. The Prominent Athletic Teams: Anyone up for a Bobst Diving Team match?

5. John Sexton’s Hugs: Melt into his open arms and smell the sweet scent of privilege and elitism. Hey! I think he wears the same cologne as John McCain!

-Jess

My New Hobby

Will be doing this. Only, you know, probably not so heterosexually minded.

It's kind of like newspaper blackout poetry, only instead of making poems I'll find lewd references.

-Josh

Very Exciting News

I just arranged a phone interview for tomorrow at 5:30pm with my current favorite MTV reality star, Amanda Lorber. I'm super excited to get the real scoop on "The Paper," and to talk to the lovely Amanda herself, who is actually also attending NYU next year. I'll post the interview here, as well as a link to the subsequent article I'm going to put together for NYU Local.

-Jess

The Shame of AIM

There are few things more shameful than previous screen names. They seem to capture the person you were at the time, and that person is almost always an asshole.

Prior screen names of mine include:

1. Actress151
2. GlittrSkies13 (as in the SKY, not SKIING, as embarrassingly pointed out by a high school crush)
3. PinkPlaidPunk13
4. rockin suburbia
5. avec nos coeurs (This was my emo stage, it means "With our hearts" in French. Ooh la la!)

My roommate Ashley's former screen names include:

1. Cream Puff eeeek
2. rawrsaidthewhore
3. rawrsaidyourmom
4. WatsThatBulgeMrG
5. TheOldestRebel
6. La Muchachaa
7. AshleyPocahontas
8. COTTONCANDY123
9. PepGirly14

Other past screen names belonging to various friends include:
1. CutiePye
2. Quicksilver4023
3. Ninerzguy18 (JOSH!)
4. EdibleBachelor
5. PrepSkoolBadGirl
6. PixieKitty16
7. Familyguy21888 (Josh's note: also mine, and whatever it's a funny show)

Who can top PinkPlaidPunk13?

-Jess

The Annals of the SATC Relationships

With the premiere of the Sex and the City movie quickly approaching, the press has been swept up in a Carrie Bradshaw frenzy, spitting out coy rumors about the potential cinematic death of Mr. Big (NOOOOO) and no doubt exaggerating the cat fights exhaustingly played out between SJP and Kim Cattrall. So this morning in the shower I got to thinking about relationships (get it?)– relationships on SATC, that is. Some of the relationships were achingly realistic, while others were so painfully forced and fake that I often found myself hurling the remote at the TV.

Carrie and Mr. Big: FAKE
SJP can shriek to high heaven that Carrie “wasn’t the kind of girl” who cared about Big’s money, but her addiction to Manolos and that one awkward time she had to borrow thousands of dollars from Charlotte reeks of a defensive need for gold diggerdom.

This relationship is fake, in that it is wholly idealized. Big would never choose Carrie over Natasha. These kind of big shot Manhattan blue bloods get off on parading their trophy wives around at gallery openings, and then fucking the poor, artsy writer in the dressing room at Barney’s. He would never desert Natasha, and Natasha would NEVER divorce him. They would maintain their sham of a marriage while they both took lovers on the side, and that would be that. In the real world, Carrie and Big would never end up together, because they are both too blindingly selfish to put aside societal norms and just be with each other.

Miranda and Steve: REAL

Steve is probably the most uncomplicated character on the show. He is sensitive and complements Miranda’s high power, intelligent lesbot game perfectly. And he has one ball for fuck’s sake! This relationship is totally believable because the hardcore businesswoman who pretends not to give a shit about anyone always falls for the puppy dog face. Miranda needs someone she can whip into shape, who will obey her every whim, who is sweet and caring and will make her feel like a woman, and not just a monster who eats cake out of the garbage.

I really want a Steve. :(

Charlotte and Trey: FAKE

Charlotte and Trey are fake in the same way Carrie and Big are. Remember when Charlotte fucked the gardener and Bunny laughed and said: Charlotte, you’re a MacDougal now! THAT is real. That’s exactly how it would happen! But it would stay like that. It doesn’t matter that Trey is impotent or Charlotte is attracted to Latin men who hold roses up to her pert, WASPy little nose; they would maintain the fa├žade of their marriage for the sake of money, a lack of a prenup, and that gorgeous 5th avenue pent house. Eventually The Post would cover a series of Charlotte’s tumultuous affairs, until she slit her wrists in the 24K gold claw foot bathtub, bleeding to death while dreaming of a life less Connecticutish. (Too morbid?)

Samantha and Smith Jarett: REAL

Okay this is probably fake – let’s be honest, a high powered female PR executive WOULD fall for a sexy, bottled blonde and built play actor from Brooklyn. She’d take him around town like the sweet piece of arm candy he is, but then she’d transition to the next one, especially after turning Smith into a brand a la his vodka ads.

But really, the sweetness Smith portrayed at the end, when Samantha was weak and ailing from cancer, gave me hope that there are hot guys out there with sympathy spilling from their six packs. And I can be a lot like Samantha, in some ways, running away when things get too serious. It’s nice to think there’s a guy who is patient enough to continue chasing you, even if it’s a smidge unrealistic.

What other relationships do you think are real or fake? I mean, besides Jack Berger, though him breaking up with Carrie on a post-it was startlingly realistic, and eerily reminiscent of relationships I’ve experienced ending via AIM.

-Jess

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No Explanation Necessary

Sex is for Fags -- and me and you and you and oh yeah! You.

My lovely friend/NYU Local publisher Cody just pointed me to this site.

Satire has never been so brutal.

"Sex is For Fags" synthesizes the ridiculous nature of abstinence-only sex ed programs and a tremendous amount of snark to give us pieces like "10 Things All the Cool Dudes Are Doing Instead of Being Lame and Queer and Having Sex."

It's hilarious but it's also sad because it's not really so far off from sites published by groups like the obnoxiously titled Concerned Women For America (I'm sorry, I refuse to link to them) or Town Hall that express the same notions but with a little less, um, irony.

-Jess

Sarah Jessica Parker Incredibly Likeable, Despite the Best Efforts of New York Magazine

This week's New York Magazine cover story is a shameless plug for Sex and the City: The Movie, and I 100% ate that shit up.
You can tell the author, Emily Nussbaum, has a love/hate relationship with SATC and its protagonist, Carrie Bradshaw, played by the luminous Sarah Jessica Parker. But we all do. I hate myself for loving the puns, the degredation of women's complicated emotions down to a love affair with Manolo's, the gratuitous sex scenes, the fact that they all end up happy in the end (ugh how fucking unrealistic WAS that? But god I could watch the series finale over and over again and still cry when Carrie and Big kiss in that park by the Louvre).

In the article, Sarah Jessica Parker laments the gentrification of a neighborhood that both she and her character had a dubious hand in ushering in. Jezebel calls it hypocritical, but I have a problem with the gentrification of The Bowery, and then I go visit Josh at his NYU dorm on The Bowery and 2nd street at least once a week.

She's also intelligent, and she "looks her age," two qualities that are buried beneath the droves of 40-something actresses like Terri Hatcher whose Botox treatments have gone straight to a brain that was never quite there to begin with. Her relationship with Matthew Broderick is enviable, at worst.

The one thing that did bother me, however, was her prudishness. It's endearing that she uses phrases like "a bee in my bonnet," but it's almost as if she's taken on this wholesome attitude and appearance because otherwise she would be exactly like Carrie Bradshaw. And there's nothing celebrities hate more than an inability to peel themselves away from the character they're best known for. If she did allow Carrie's sexual prowess to infiltrate her own notions of sex, then she and Carrie would be so indistinguishable that SJP would probably off herself, and Matthew Broderick would have to find someone else to play chess with in all his contrarian reclusiveness.

I don't agree with Maxim's declaration that Ms. Parker is the unsexiest woman alive, but I can certainly see where Carrie's sex appeal overshadows SJP's. SJP's mother hen schtick is endearing, sure, but a little bit of Carrie injected into her sex values wouldn't be such a bad thing.
-Jess

Amanda from MTV's "The Paper" Just As Awesome As I Thought

This morning, after some serious Facebook stalking, I stumbled upon the Facebook of Amanda Lorber, of MTV's The Paper fame. She's going to NYU next year! She's studying Journalism! I friended her, and she friended me back! She smartly changed her name to "Laughin' Lorber" to weed out all the fake fans. Below are screencaps of her FB profile, in case any of you are as creepy/in awe of her as I am:





Case and point: I MUST become friends with her next year. I will teach her how to be less Tisch, and she can teach me how to have self-confidence and bravado. I picture us editing articles for NYU Local together, drinking Starbucks, exchanging Urban Outfitters wardrobes. Okay I'm going to leave now before I make you all puke with my giddiness.

-Jess

Earlier:
An Open Letter to Amanda Lorber
High School Newspapers: Now Mildly Exciting

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de SUCKo

Is it me, or did today really suck? Not only did my physician keep me waiting for 40 minutes for my study abroad clearance physical to tell me I'm perfectly healthy (though, and I quote: "You should really stop smoking marijuana"), but my dad screamed "FUCK YOU! WHO DO YOU FUCKING THINK YOU ARE?" at me over the phone (TMI?) and I was so busy running from place to place (class, class, work, student health center, class, home, Think coffee) that my brain feels like a balloon, floating ever further into the atmosphere.

Some good things did happen, though. For one, I got to meet the illustrious Duncan, NYU Inc. operator, NYU Local contributer, and Village Voice intern extraordinaire. After he accosted me while stoned on Saturday and I reacted with a graceless mix of confusion and retardness, I decided I should rectify the situation and prove to him that yes, I can act like a normal person. We talked about the sorry state of NYU and the world in general over peppermint tea. I'm working on a piece about NYU Inc. for NYU Local in the coming days, and you guys should definitely have a look at their website, as well as join their Facebook group. Their mission statement is awe-inspiring.

Another thing: I did a watered down piece of this story for NYU Local, but you guys should check it out. It's gotten a lot of great responses so far. It's true what they say: sex sells!

For all of you celebrating Cinco De Mayo: um, cool. I'm just gonna sit here in my pajamas and check out some Law and Order: SVU reruns. =/

-Jess

Sometimes It's a Slow News Day


Diaries Show Saddam Feared Getting AIDS In Prison
. Yeah, I...I have nothing to add. Except, you know, wondering why this is news.

-Josh

The Old Man and the Electorate


I don't know why this wasn't a bigger story--that John McCain manipulated footage of himself walking through an Iraqi marketplace (in reality, he was flanked by 100 guards, and a few helicopters to boot.)

But watch the video. It's more than the fact that he's manipulative, because, well, he's a politician, and sadly that's still par-for-the-course behavior (Democrats and Republicans alike.) It's the press conference he held that struck me. He looks and sounds old; his voice is tired and monotonic; and he appears to not be speaking sincerely but rather reading prepared statements he obviously didn't browse beforehand.

Is this who we really want to lead our country in 2008? A bumbling, out-of-touch old man who has gone from criticizing Bush Jr. to embracing his endorsement? He probably couldn't cross the White House lawn without stopping a couple times times because "Goddammit I need to sit down." Later he'd watch CNN and complain about all the confusing text on the screen.

-Josh

Cheerleaders Punished For Being Sexy, Doing What Cheerleaders Do


What happens when the Arizona State school administration discovers racy photos of six of its cheerleaders? It cuts the entire squad, that's what.

The fact that the entire team was punished for a few members' indiscretions aside, this is absolutely ridiculous for a few reasons. First, there will apparently be no cheerleaders at all sporting events next year. What is that going to do for school morale? Cheerleading is a big part of the college sports experience (from, you know, what I hear), and without that presence, something will surely feel missing from the games. It's not fair to the student body that the administration has decided to be prudish and cut the entire squad, nor is it fair to the athletes who bust their asses to participate in collegiate athletics and who probably rely on the efforts of these cheerleaders, in conjunction with support from the fans, to get through the games (and, you know, drunken frat parties, but that's a different story.)

Also, the photos are two years old. Are you kidding me? Did the administration just stumble upon these photos now? Did some jealous freshman girl rejected from the squad send them in? Either way, this is a delayed reaction, to say the least, and something strikes me the wrong way about these girls being punished for a "crime" they committed two years ago.

Finally, um, are the photos really so racy? The above photo is one of the incriminating pictures; below is a shot of a few ASU cheerleaders in action:

Um, it looks like they're showing almost as much skin on the field as they were at their "cheer party." The only differences seem to be the context in which the photos were taken (appearing on a Web site called "The Dirty" probably didn't help) and the fact that at the party they were only wearing lingerie. Even though they reveal about as much skin as the average bikini. And even though...they're cheerleaders. It's their job to be sexually alluring, and again, those outfits they're wearing on the field aren't exactly modest. So the school is pretty much penalizing them for doing what they do for the school anyway.

Maybe they should have kept the pompoms for the party photo; that way, they would have been praised instead of punished.

-Josh

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finally Finals

Just some questions and thoughts I have as I immerse myself in the work I should have started a while ago:

1. I think the reason finals are so frustrating aren't because of the amount of work they entail in itself, but because of the timing. Of course they have to occur at the end of the semester, but it's like...the weather's getting nicer, classes are ending, and summer plans are being made. Who wants to sit around studying Tennyson when there's so much going on? I have my final Contemporary Art class tomorrow, but then a final for that class...a week later. Like, it's over, but it's not really over, and that just makes it all the more frustrating.

2. Whose idea was it to make finals so earlier? Why can't they just push everything back by, say, an hour? My art class usually meets at 11am. So why is the final at 10? The problem with these earlier exam times is that I don't get as much sleep as I'm used to on a weekday. Sure, I've (hopefully) studied enough beforehand, but the lost hour of sleep--coupled with staying up late the night before cramming for the exam, as I'm sure most of us do--means that I won't be at my mental peak when it's time to take the test, which strikes me as unfair and inhibitive. Why can't they just push everything back by an hour or two? I guarantee that such an action would make finals a little easier on everyone.

3. Hey, Modern American History professor, don't completely ignore the assigned readings in lecture (and, TAs, in recitation), but then make us use them on the final. Seriously? If they weren't important enough to be incorporated into the semester's lectures (of which, admittedly, I only went to a few), then why are they suddenly important enough to be cited on take-home essays? America's foreign policy failures in the twentieth century have been marked by, among other things, hypocrisy: don't adopt that as a teaching style yourself.

4. And listen, Creative Writing workshop. I like you, I really do. You help me become a better writer, and it's fun to read and critique other students' works. That said, you're a workshop. Don't meet on a Tuesday that's been designated "reading day"-- for the purposes of studying for classes that actually, you know, have finals--and expect me to show up. Sorry that by your very nature, you fall to the bottom of the academic totem pole during finals time, but you do, so deal with it gracefully and stop forcing yourself on me. Seriously, I'm not shlepping to a bar in midtown just so I can talk about half-asses stories written for the most part by seniors who are more worried about graduation than crafting a decent narrative.

5. I've said it before and I'll say it again--rote memorization doesn't do a damn thing. Me memorizing the names of a dozen obscure Latin American artists who haven't produced work since the 1980s doesn't prove that I've learned anything over the course of the semester except how to bullshit my way through undergraduate classes. All it does is detract from serious, beneficial study of major artistic trends, and, worst of all, makes me resent the entire Art History department. Plus, making 100 flashcards is a bitch.

6. To show you how ridiculous some of these assignments are: "Analyze the domestic political, economic and social impact of World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Compare these to the domestic impact of our current War on Terrorism." ...in 2-3 pages. I'm not kidding.

-Josh

Abstinence: It Doesn't Work

Me at 14

The problem is that sexual desire overrides everything.

Even if you learned in grade school that condoms protect you against pregnancy and STI's, even if you haven't had your partner tested, even if you swore to yourself you would never relive the scene of you taking a pregnancy test in a stall in the office bathroom while your co-worker coos words of encouragement: when it comes down to it, it still feels better without a condom. So you give in and he puts it in and you hope crossing your fingers will be enough to stave off impending babies and diseases.

Abstinence-only sex education doesn't work. It's a fact. They can have congressional hearing upon congressional hearing, but we all know the truth. We see it in Miley Cyrus' seductive gaze and the strip of skin exposed between tank top and low-slung jeans on Taylor Momsen. Teenagers fuck, and they fuck a lot, and they're not always responsible about it.

But who is? It's unfair to pin this beast on youth. I know women in their mid-twenties who continue to make the same mistakes they did when they were 16 and glassy-eyed in their boyfriend's moss-ridden basement.

All we can do is give them the tools they need to make their own decisions. Abstinence-only sex education refuses to acknowledge that not only are teenagers sexual creatures with enough hormones to drive anyone mad, but they are also mini-adults, growing and learning and fucking and fucking up. You wouldn't send a soldier to the front without training. You wouldn't take a test worth 75% of your grade without studying. So why should teenagers be forced to navigate their own desires alone, without an outreach mechanism, without the proper knowledge necessary to tackling this beast?

I have had my fair share of slip-ups and mistakes and scares, each encounter branded like a scar behind my eyes. The 17 year old who pinned my 14 year old body against my mother's paisley couch, his hands all rough and tumble, his breath reeking of garlic and turpentine. The field, the backseat of my father's car, the train ride home from New York. The boy with scruff and scarves, the chubby vegan waving tobacco fingers at me, the musician who thought more of his guitar than he ever did of me. The older Latin lover studying international politics at Berkeley, the boy who listened to Led Zeppelin with a straight face, the childish soccer player, the writer, the One Who Could Never Be. I do not regret any of them, though perhaps my liver does.

I am so against robbing teenagers of experiences necessary to their development as a person, a sexual being. It's ludicrous to pretend that girls at 14 don't think about boys and ulterior motives. I was flirting with thirty-somethings when I was 15, starved for attention in graying Philadelphia concert venues. I had my first make out session when I was 12 with a boy whose bed was swathed in snowman sheets. I lost my virginity in a field a few years later. Each one I thought I loved, but that's part of growing up, too, isn't it? Learning what love is by learning what it isn't.

Not everyone has to entertain the same notion of "right" and "wrong" sex. My Grandmother would think I'm a slut for even thinking about the state of teenager sexuality. My father would turn a blind eye. My friends have most likely come to expect it. But the thinking behind abstinence-only sex education honestly just doesn't make sense to me.

The world is complicated enough. I know about how dangerous STI's can be, and how ridiculous it is I'm not on birth control, and that when my ex-boyfriend begged to put it in bare just for a little while it was hypocritical for me to even consider obliging. The point is, I know about the dangers and I've dealt first hand with the anxieties. I've always been very safe, but it was no easy task. I could never expect teenagers to make the same difficult decisions I've made. I could never expect a girl to stop her boyfriend from entering her because he forgot a condom: there is insecurity involved (I don't want him to stop liking me), there is shame (why don't I just go on the Pill?), guilt (should I really be doing this?), but most of all, there is lust (fuck this feels good). If teens who know the consequences of their actions can't even necessarily make the decision to just use a condom, how do we expect those who know nothing about contraception to even attempt to protect themselves from diseases and pregnancy?

It's unfair to shove your kids into this hypersexualized society with little-to-no preparations about what they're going to encounter once they're out there. My parents gave me The Talk, but I know tons of my friends adopted their sexual vernacular from bathroom stalls and overhearing boys' conversations in the cafeteria. Women are ashamed of their bodies, mostly because they don't know how they work. I'd be wont to admit that half my girl friends probably don't even know how to make themselves come, let alone what would happen if they used the pull-out method (that shit does NOT work).

My point is that it's impossible to expect teenagers to forgo natural sexual experience in the name of respecting their parents, or even in the name of religious beliefs. All those girls with promise rings are just taking it in the back door instead.

It's hard enough for teenagers to make decisions when they are informed about the consequences. But we should at least give them the information they need to make the decision at all. Otherwise, the sexualization of teens is in small part our fault.

-Jess

An Open Letter to Wino

Dear Amy Winehouse,

What the fuck is wrong with you?

I don’t understand! You are a successful recording artist, you are rich, you are famous, you are (debatably) attractive when you try to be. But WHY, Amy, are you such a fucking mess? And why does nobody seem to care that you are a certifiable crackhead who answers the door in her bra?

Do your parents just not care? Do they simply not want to take responsibility for the fact that you will undoubtedly be dead within the next six months? Your husband’s in jail, you cheat on him with drug dealers, and from the looks of it, you probably smell like rotten eggs and B.O. Am I going to have to come to England myself and fix you up? You could be so incredible. Your voice is honeyed and soul expounding.

I am begging you: please go to rehab. Listen to your father. Gain some weight. Lay off the crack. Don’t break with your record company: they seem to be the only ones who care about you getting clean, even if it is in order to boost sales and popularity. Stop opening your front door and fucking with the paparazzi. Stay inside. Go to the gym. Buy a new belt and shoes. Fuck, maybe even brush your hair! You are so much more than this. Every time I see you in the news you look like you were just born, and then run over by a truck. It doesn’t make sense. You have the ability to be so wonderful.

Clean yourself up. We’ll talk again soon.

Sincerely,
Jess