Saturday, July 5, 2008

We Never Run Out Of Stupid Videos

Like this one.

It's so long, too!

Also apparently the instrument is a "Banjo Kazooe."

-Josh

Motherfuckin B-L-O-G



Here are the lyrics for all you hardcore J&J fans:
I don’t know what you heard about me
But you gonna get some comments outta me
I’m gonna increase my page hits by three
I write a muthafuckin B.L.O.G.

I don’t know what your heard about me
We’re gonna post and blog about Dee (Snider!!!!)
You gon’ wanna Digg the shit out of me
I write a muthafuckin B.L.O.G.


Now shorty, she on the web, she makin’ some posts
She got a thing for that Gawker, that Perez, the most
That Huffington Post, Jess & Josh, & Jalopnik
She’s checking your RSS feed, gonna browse real quick
I spit some oversharing because I wanna
Emily Gould learned that shit from me cuz I’m smahta
If you gonna talk shit at least put your name on it
Why you wanna act outrageous when you tryin' to comment?
So Emily Gould and J.A. we know you are readin'
...Unless you’re Twittering about how you’re in Chicago with your family and your life sucks.


-Jess

And What I Don't Know


Oh, hey. Didn't see you there for a second. How are you? My name's Josh, and I'm the other half of this blog.

It's clear that Jess and I have different, um, posting schedules. And by that I mean, Jess will post 20 entries about feminism and sex and Important Ideas and then I'll come in with an entry about Cher and Phil Collins. So not only are our schedules different, but our content is too.

Obviously, we shouldn't be posting the same exact things. Our styles and senses of humor should be different. I shouldn't be focusing on feminism, nor should Jess be focusing on...well, what is it that I write about?

I've gotten that question, and I have not been deaf to the comments implying that I don't care about the blog, or asking why Jess posts way more than I do, or simply questioning my place in a largely, increasingly feminist body of work.

My answers to those three questions are: I do care, she does post more, and while I do not have such an interest in feminism, I do have ideas. I think. Let me explain.

When we started this blog, it was kind of a joke. Not like "ha ha we're on teh internetz," but it was really a reservoir for our thought and our jokes, a place for us to preserve the things we found funny as opposed to a public forum of discussion.. Over the past few months, though, it's clearly become more than that. We have a readership--a small but seemingly dedicated group of commenters and virtual passersby, to whom we are so grateful for the attention and the responsiveness--and we, Jess and (to a lesser extent) I, post our theories and reactions to events in the news, and a dialogue exists between the things we say and the things you respond with in the comments section.

But this all happened kind of quickly. As much as it did happen over time, it's kind of like we woke up one day and were being linked to and being interviewed for things. Jess has handled this very well, I think. But I've taken longer to adjust, mainly because I don't know how I feel about that.

It's great that our blog has achieved its modicum of popularity--again, I'm so grateful for that. But it's also kind of scary, you know? Like, people are reading this, and whether they comment or not, it's safe to say that these words now have a meaning I could never have foreseen. And now that our words matter, I find more than ever that I have embarrassingly little to say.

Jess has found her intellectual niche with feminism. I, on the other hand, have not found a field of study so enrapturing. You'd think it would be gay issues and things of that nature, but I think gay rights is more black-and-white than feminism; I doubt anyone reading this would disagree that gays should be treated fairly and equally in today's society, blah blah blah. And though there is surely more to say on the topic, at this point in my life I lack both the desire and the ability to study it and expound upon it with Jess's panache and thoroughness. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it boils down to the fact that at this point in time, Jess is far more academically motivated than I am, and where I'd spend a drunken night in the Lower East Side, she would spend it studying and honing her ideas. That's not a self-criticism, nor is it a critique on her lifestyle; we are simply different in that respect, and that difference makes itself apparent in our posting schedules for this blog. And then, you know, I still see this as more of a personal thing than an intellectual endeavor, and wouldn't think to post more than a couple times a day at most, because again, I just don't have that much to say.

So, yes, I do care about Jess and Josh Talk About Stuff. I care very much. That's what this boils down to. I am not asking for equal attention or lots of comments. I am simply clearing some things up. Both our names are on that header, but when one person is doing most of the work, I think the other should explain himself.

I can't promise that I'll post more here than I already do, and I say that because I don't want to mislead you: I cannot and will not be speaking of the Great Issues of Our Time. I think it's better to joke about what you do know than preach what you don't, and there are many, many more things I don't know than I do. And yes, Jess will continue more than I will, simply because I think we have different philosophies on the proper output for a personal blogger. Neither is correct, obviously, and equally obvious is the fact that the more efficient poster will have more verbal weight, and I fully accept that. I just want you all to know. I am so so happy for Jess. She gets emails from fans across the freaking country, and that's awesome. She is, ironically, in her own small way, becoming the very role model whose existence she questioned in the post below this one. And I understand that my views on posting and blogging will probably not yield such lucrative results for me, but that's okay, because as this blog's title suggests, we're talking about stuff. And I love posting in a place where one minute it's all about media and how it relates to our ever-changing society, and the next minute it's all about Dee Snider. For now, I am dee-lighted to be a part of it.

-Josh

P.S. I've been getting into photography lately--stupid, amateur photography, but whatever. When I upload pictures later, I'll show you how mine and Jess's Fourth of July went, and then you can expect more photos from me in the future, to show you what goes on when I go out, because I'm weird and want to share those things with you. Hooray for alternative media!

What I Know (For Now)

Last week I wrote an article that synthesized my most basic notions of feminism and reactions to a very intense event into one piece that somehow got catapulted across the blogosphere. Josh and I are the first people to admit that this blog is more personal than anything. A few weeks ago someone from The College Blog Network wanted me to do some platform work with him, and he asked me a set of questions, including who we consider our audience to be. The thing is, Josh and I write for ourselves, we don’t sit down and consciously type up articles that are targeted at a certain demographic. We don’t put that much forethought into it. I write what comes to me, and I post it, and some people just happen to read it.

But when your audience grows, maybe you have to make some mental shifts to incorporate them into your line of thinking. I don’t want to censor myself, but ever since the whole Jezebel fiasco I feel a much deeper need to explain myself: what do I mean when I say that Moe and Tracie are my “heroes?” What kind of feminism do I believe in? Does it stray from Jezebel philosophy at all? In some ways, I’m grateful for this opportunity, because this existential crisis has been a long time coming. I’ve written a ton of articles on sex and feminism on this blog, and for NYU Local, but ever since the whole Shoot the Messenger thing - and Lizz Winstead calling me out for “backpedaling” on my criticism on The Huffington Post - I’ve decided I really need to put some serious thought into these issues. And of course, since I’m a millennial, that process is going to unfurl in a public forum.

Here are the basic things I know I believe about feminism and sex:
  • Women should be equal to men in all aspects: in the workforce (including equal salaries), at home, in society.
  • Women should be able to enjoy sex in the same way a man does. We should be able to make our own decisions about who we sleep with, without the criticism of society.
  • Women should be allowed to talk about sex without being considered slutty. We should learn about our bodies so we know what we like and don’t like. This extends to comprehensive sex education.
  • Women should not be forced to conform to societal beauty standards, and instead should make choices about our character and appearance that stem from our own desires of how we should look.

But here is where it gets complicated...

Using sex to gain power: This is probably one of my more controversial beliefs as evidenced in this article. This is where I break away from traditional Old Guard feminism. I used to staunchly believe - though now I’m not so sure - that because women are at a disadvantage in society, we should be allowed to use our assets in order to gain entry into public spaces we may have previously been barred from. I borrowed this line of thinking from women in Iran who are against forced veiling laws, but instead of outright protesting, choose to wear the veil so that, as women in a society that inherently distrusts and hates women, they can at least achieve the best possible life that they’re allowed. If we have this thing - our bodies, our sex appeal - that we can use to wield control over the patriarchs in our life, then perhaps there’s nothing wrong with using that to our advantage. Nancy Pelosi knows what I’m talking about. The trouble comes when you become known more for your body than your mind. It’s a delicate balance. And maybe using sex appeal to manipulate men is societally acceptable, almost desired, dominance wears lipstick, etc. Maybe that’s why everyone hated Hillary so much - because she refused to conform to basic notions of female sexuality and use those to her advantage.

These are things I’ll need to think about, talk about in posts to come, and above all - read about. Jezebel, Feministing and random galleys Josh brings home from his job are no longer going to be my primary sources. I’ve read a couple books on feminist theory, but they mostly centered around sex and porn. If anyone has books on further feminist topics you think I should read, I’d be happy to hear your recommendations.

So the thing about this post is that I was too quick to deem Moe and Tracie my “feminist heroes.” I’ve been an avid Jezebel reader and commenter for awhile, and I certainly agree with much that they purport through their writing on the site, but perhaps I didn’t think about the repercussions of idolizing people who don’t want to be idolized. Because that’s the point, isn’t it? They don’t want to be role models, and so they just plain don’t act like them. Some of the commenters questioned my desire to “live like Moe and Tracie,” i.e. supposedly promiscuously and drunkenly. But that is in NO WAY why I look up to these women. I rarely drink, and though I’m pretty liberal about my sexual beliefs, I can count the number of people I’ve had sex with on one hand. I am not stupid. I am young, but I’m not stupid. I don’t see Moe and Tracie and immediately want to emulate them and thus go out to a bar, get hammered and hook up with some guy. I look up to them because they know themselves, because they do live this lifestyle, and they are proud instead of ashamed, and above all, they are so fucking honest about it. They make choices that women 100 years ago would have never even considered making, and then they write about them in a graphic and detailed way in a public forum so that we can all decide how to parse our notions of feminism, sex and women. That is why I respect them: because they are strong women writers unafraid to voice their opinions and histories so that other women can make their own decisions.

So I do look up to them, or I did, I’m not sure: Tracie wrote on her personal blog that she was “disappointing” 21 year old girls in the audience at Shoot the Messenger, like it came as some big shock that girls would look up to her. But she and Moe put themselves in the public eye with their writing, opening themselves up to criticism, but also to respect and admiration. I regret pumping them both up with false ideas about who they are and what they believe in, because of course I would be let down. But Moe and Tracie, if you’re reading this, you have to understand that girls do look up to you, whether you want them to or not. I’m 20 years old and I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who consider you two little short of their “feminist heroes.” And that’s what happens when you write for a massively popular blog; you have to be willing to take the admiration in stride - whether it comes at you through a positive lens or in the vein of “disappointment.”


Winstead did accuse me of “backpedaling” my criticism, which is totally true to some extent. Originally I was absolutely thrilled that Tracie and Moe took the time to comment on a piece of mine - I mean, I'm a 20 year old unknown NYU student who writes a blog almost no one reads. I fully admit that I did incorporate some of what they pointed out in the comments into my post, and while it did have to do with an element of starstruckedness, it was also mostly just to entertain this notion of fairness. Unlike many Gawker or Jezebel writers, I actually care about pissing people off, as in, I don't really want to do it. At all. But I guess that's the trouble with honesty.

It's mostly just that I am so fucking confused about who I agree with at this point: I don't mean it in terms of this one argument, but instead concerning Old Guard philosophies vs. New Wave ones in general. I think that my beliefs borrow from both ideologies instead of fully agreeing with a specific one, but this is obviously something I need to work on figuring out. I just hate that it has become this sided thing, women with feminism on the brain splintering off into different factions to squabble about the fine print.

When I boil this down to the simplest of facts, what I do know is that I have always been a strong-willed advocate of honesty. I appreciate Moe and Tracie and Lizz for being honest about their beliefs on the state of women today. I am attracted to Moe and Tracie’s writing because it is no holds barred, in your face, a big Fuck You to furtive secrecy. I grew up on secrets, and so I’ve always rebelled with honesty, even strangely so, even to the point where it might hurt. We might not agree with each other on various feminist premises, but at least we are being honest. And to me, that’s the most important thing.

-Jess

Here are the videos of the discussion Lizz posted:


Friday, July 4, 2008

What We Talk About When We Talk About Dee Snider

We were discussing some of the finer aspects of the My Immortal video...

Jess: the dee snider cameo is seriously like 10 secs long
Josh: its like a fade out
Jess: i put it at the end initially but then i wanted to have the mallet guy there
Josh: Life of Dee: The Dee Snider Story
Jess: lol
Jess: A B C Dee: The Dee Snider Story
Josh: Deel With It: Dee's Words and Dee's World
Jess: Dee in Headlights
Jess: get it?
Jess: like... deer in headlights
Jess: yeah
Josh: Dee in the Headlights: Get It?
Josh: Off the Deep End: A Memoir, by Dee Snider
Josh: *Dee End
Josh: ehh
Jess: LOL

We were both clearly born during a gas leak.

-Josh

A Holiday Treat: Jess Without Makeup, Josh Playing a Casio Keyboard

Josh and I recorded this while at our friend's mansion last weekend. We weren't even stoned. Keep a look out for the Dee Snider cameo. (Josh's note: It was my first time trying to play that song, so it's far from perfect.)

Independence Day

Important things always happen to me on 4th of July. I have no idea why this is, but I can trace revelations or crucial events in my life by summers, measuring each one by what was happening on or around Independence Day. Maybe the Founding Fathers are all like, “Yo, Jess is a history buff, let’s make her have existential crises on our nation’s birthday.” To which I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.”

July 4th, 2004
After much debate, my Dad and his new girlfriend decided to take my sister, best friend and I to see fireworks at Dorney Park in Allentown, PA. I was born just outside of Allentown and lived there until I was 12, so I have this intense connection to it. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I lie in bed and try to remember all of the rooms in my old house, how the walls were painted, the angle of the furniture, the way my bedroom smelled. I have such a nostalgic affection for it, and so in 2004, with my parents newly divorced and dating other people, it felt appropriate that we would go back to Allentown for the final time. We were seeing fireworks and celebrating our nation’s independence, but it also felt like I was starting this new chapter in my life where Allentown had no place. Parts of me would always be rooted there, but with my Dad’s engagement to his girlfriend in the weeks that would follow, and me starting to think about colleges and life beyond my quaint suburban existence, July 4, 2004 marked this strange departure from the line of thinking that incorporated only safe and fair thoughts. I was looking beyond my tiny world. I was getting closure on my parents’ divorce, and trying to accept the fact that though things would be different from then on, they wouldn’t necessarily be worse.

July 4th, 2005
The summer before senior year I took a class at UC Berkeley for six weeks; I won’t go into the particulars, because I have so many times before, but it was the single best experience of my life thus far. I was only 17 years old. I met my two best friends there and spent six weeks just fucking around in California, doing drugs, taking a college course, getting my nose pierced, hooking up with weird European guys. For a teenaged girl from Philadelphia, it was heaven. The 4th of July was the first day I met anyone from the program. We all ended up taking the BART to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to see fireworks over the San Francisco Bay. Almost all of the people I was with were from foreign countries, so we had a hard time communicating with each other, especially since we were drunk by 7pm. Though I spent a good chunk of my summers in San Francisco over the years, I wore a skirt and tanktop to the wharf, forgetting that it would become fucking freezing by nightfall. My soon-to-be best friend Ali offered me her sweatshirt, and I snidely turned it down. I am not good at meeting new people. I come off way bitchier than I intend to, or than I actually am. I’m just nervous and shy and guarded. Soon after we met again through our mutual friend Ana, who would become my other best friend, and bonded over our parents’ divorces in the movie theatre on Shattuck before seeing “Me & You & Everyone We Know.” But the 4th of July is the official anniversary of meeting my best friends.

July 4th, 2006
I didn’t get to celebrate in 2006, because I was on an airplane from Newark to Paris with my family and my friend Meg. Our flight left late at night on the 3rd and didn’t get into Paris until after the 4th was over. The beginning of the trip marked probably one of the most essential changes of my life. I was in Paris, and then at my faux-Grandparents’ villa in Tuscany, and I was miserable. I missed my boyfriend, I was sad for no reason, I couldn’t stop reading Bret Easton Ellis! Two weeks later in a Rome hotel room I drank a bottle of champagne and had a nervous breakdown. When I came home I had an anxiety attack that landed me in the hospital. And then I went on antidepressants. The rest is history, as they say, but the fucking Fourth of July keeps changing my life.

July 4, 2007
Last year was less existential and more just plain enjoyable. I was living in LA for the summer with Ana, and we took her car to Mulholland with our friend Kira, and got drunk and watched fireworks explode all over the valley. It was fucking beautiful. Then we saw that awful Kerri Russell movie “Waitress.” I hadn’t seen a movie drunk since I was in high school and it was bizarre. It was also one of the last weeks I spent in LA. I haven’t been back to California since.

And this year? Well, my pot dealer isn’t calling me back - he must be in the Hamptons for the holiday - so I am going to get drunk on a rooftop, and hopefully make out with someone. It will probably be Josh. Bring it on, Alexander Hamilton.

-Jess

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How to be THAT Guy at the Office


I work full time in an office. We have walls lined with file cabinets and computers with Windows ’98 and wicker baskets that hold extra staples and paper clips and old pen caps. We have signs on the toilet stall doors with bouquets of flowers on them and Lucinda Handwriting cheerily declaring, “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie!” The air is stale subway car air and the temperature hovers around subzero. The building is built to stymie the possibility of escape: there are few windows, the elevators take twenty years between floors, and the doors are password coded.

Still, there are some people who enjoy this environment, and in fact flourish from the stifling of creativity and the conformity that mirrors pre-20th century factory work. Send this fax! Go to this meeting! Check your Microsoft Outlook! I’m not trying to be a hater, I’m simply here to tell you how you might become one of these fascinating creatures. Below is a guide on how to become That Guy at the office:

1. Master the obligatory responses to the obligatory questions.
Question 1: How was your vacation?
Answer 1: Not long enough! Can’t believe it’s over! At least I got to rest my tennis elbow.

Question 2: How’s the week going?
Answer 2: Oh, you know, just truckin’. Gee, I can’t believe it’s not Friday yet! Does this week seem endless or what?

Question 3: Where did you get your lunch from? It smells delicious!
Answer 3: Oh, this (overpriced) gourmet sandwich? Au Bon Pain! Did you know that means “To the good bread” in French???

2. Master your weekly outfits so that you don’t get confused with the guy in HR who coincidentally looks just like you. Establish a personal style. J.Crew is a must.

Monday: Suit with paisley tie, loafers.
Tuesday: Suit with striped tie, loafers.
Wednesday: Suit with polka dotted tie that your wife got you last Christmas, loafers.
Thursday: Suit with plaid tie that your mistress got you last Christmas, loafers.
Friday: Casual day! Go all out! Lacoste polo, white khakis… maybe even some sandals. With socks of course.

3. Forward the chain emails your Mom-mom sends you, complete with the animated GIF of a puppy in a jewel-encrusted collar wagging its tail and pretending to lick the screen, to every single co-worker in the office. Starting at the first cubicle, snake through the aisles of the office, striking up a conversation with each of your co-workers by asking them if they received the email with the “cute puppy picture.” Continue until you have discussed the e-mail with every single person in the office.

4. Bring a Nalgene and fill it up at the water cooler three times a day. Then make two trips to the bathroom for every one time you fill up the water bottle. This means you should use the bathroom at least six times a day, giving you ample time to ogle the hot girl whose desk is conveniently next to both the water cooler and the bathroom.

5. Break the copy machine and then get someone else to fix it, claiming it was “already broken.”

6. Twitter about your work’s progress: Just sent that fax out to Eileen, now I’m off to The Soup Man to grab some lunch! On Fridays, contribute to the general positive vibe of the office by adding a little spice to your Twitter updates with witty commentary: Phew, Friday at last! Workin hard or hardly workin? ;)

7. Complain. This is essential. Tough day crammed with a tennis lesson and a dinner party and you have no idea how you’re going to do both? Spend the entire work day communicating this fact to anyone who passes by your cubicle. Make sure you vent your frustrations to your co-workers, who are there simply to bear the brunt of your tragic life’s tale.

8. When leaving the office, find hot water cooler girl and pretend you are taking the same subway home as her. Take the elevator down together while making small talk about your weekend’s plans. Keep a goofy grin on your face. When you get to the station, pretend that you forgot something at the office and have to run back to pick it up, then walk to your real subway station.

9. Keep a picture of your wife and kids on your desk, next to a Yankee's ticket stub.

10. Keep a naked picture of your mistress in a secret password protected folder on your desktop that not even the ITS people can hack into. The password to this folder should be the name of your childhood pet (RIP).


This post should also be titled: THANK GOD FOR THE UPCOMING 3 DAY WEEKEND.


-Jess

Ew

Don't order a fried rice entrée from this place. The Pad Thai, from my experience, is fine. Just not the fried rice. Trust me on this one.

In other news, this is why political correctness isn't a solution to discrimination. Seriously, if this isn't a sign of our culture's cure-the-symptom-not-the-problem mode of thinking, I don't know what is.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the word "gay" to describe a homosexual in a news article. If you take offense to that, think about what's been going on here and here, and then get your priorities in order.

Feeling pretty and witty and homosexual,
-Josh

From G's to Gents to GENIUS

I feel like I imagined this because it's just too good to be true. Last night, as I was stoned and falling asleep, I swear to god I saw a commercial on MTV for a new reality show called From G's to Gents. The basic premise is that you turn gangsters into gentlemen - I guess kind of like Charm School for guys. I don't know how funny this will actually end up being, since it was created and will be potentially hosted by Jamie Kennedy, but the name is genius to me. I even called my friend Marshall and started giggling uncontrollably about it. When I woke up sober this morning it was still hilarious to me, so I have hope. I couldn't find any listings for it on the MTV website, but I did find an old casting call from January on Reality Wanted:

Now I'm picturing sexy thugs in tophats aka I'm swooning.

-Jess

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

420 in the 415?


Another reason to move permanently to California.

California is set to potentially hold a referendum for a bill suggesting the legalization of marijuana for all citizens during the election in November. I have such fond memories of last summer spent in LA, getting my clinical weed from a sketchy go-between in an orange medicine bottle. So sticky!

The only complaint I have about this is a classic pothead one: if they legalize marijuana, it will be sufficiently taxed ($5 for every eighth, $50 for every plant grown) and prices will go up! But I guess it's worth not getting thrown in jail for participating in an activity that actually makes me less slutty and obnoxious than drinking.

-Jess

Pussy for Petrol

A woman was arrested in Kentucky last weekend for allegedly trading sex for gas. Thank God I don't drive a car or I may have defaulted to the same reasoning. I think this is important because it brings Americans to an ultimatum: either find a way to lower gas prices, or legalize prostitution. Clearly the two are at odds with each other. Who wants to print up Pussy for Petrol t-shirts?

-Jess

A Legend Lost


In this New Media World, it's a shame that I got to the party too late to enjoy the wisdom and exuberance of Mr. Clay Felker, founder of New York Magazine. The Observer has a great article chronicling his accomplishments - both personal and professional - that paint an impressive portrait of the media mogul, who passed away yesterday in Manhattan of natural causes. He leaves us with some important advice, as dictated by Peter Kaplan of The Observer:


1. Never hold your best stuff.
2. Put something shocking at the top of the page.
3. Women are the best reporters.
4. Point of view is everything.
5. Personal is better.
6. Never hold your best stuff.


Number 3 is obviously my favorite, though number 5 seems intensely resonant and relevant in this ocean of oversharing.

-Jess

Paranoia on the LES


Last night I went with my friend Duncan to Bluestockings Bookstore on the LES. I had never been there before but it reminded me of a New York version of Citylights. They sell a lot of gender and queer theory literature and books on marginal topics that conglomerate booksellers like Borders probably wouldn’t carry. There was a group of three self-proclaimed anarchists doing a Power Point presentation on self-reliance and protecting yourself without government intervention in the event of a natural disaster. Some of the things they said made sense – with FEMA’s horrendous response to Hurricane Katrina, and the tornadoes in Greensburg, KS and the flooding in Iowa, it’s pretty clear that the government is relatively unprepared in terms of coping with a large scale natural disaster. In some ways it does seem sensible to prepare yourself, but mostly the whole thing just struck me as profoundly paranoid. Natural disasters are increasing – earthquakes that aren’t on fault lines, massive flooding, food shortages – but I mean, call me a crazy capitalist, but I have relative faith that the government will protect me in the event that one of these happens and dramatically affects me. Is that naïve? Does it come from a place of white privilege? I’m not sure. Maybe. Maybe the concept of distrusting the government makes me so fucking afraid that I don’t want to admit that everything is kind of fucked up. I mean, I’m obviously a staunch liberal, I hate George Bush, I think the response to Katrina was embarrassing and horrible and did have a lot to do with the fact that it was a concentration of poor minorities that the government kind of just ignored – but the idea that the government would leave me to die in a natural disaster is something I don’t even want to think about. I mean, I don’t even want to think about natural disasters.

So I guess I can’t blame these folks for wanting to be prepared. One of the speakers had scars on his neck from what looked to be a recent tracheotomy, so of course my novelist mind jumped to the conclusion that he was just recently victimized by an earthquake or hurricane, and the government didn’t come to his aid, so he felt the need to take matters into his own hands. It seemed more human that way. Plus, two of the three were in the city for 9/11 (which I was not), so I imagine that would kind of fuel the necessity for planning your own relief efforts.

But one thing that really got to me was the hypocrisy of some of their statements. They started off the discussion with the fact that George Bush and the GOP completely manipulated 9/11 to their advantage, bolstering approval ratings and using it to preemptively start a gratuitous war. Admittedly this pisses me off as much as the next person, but then later the trio discussed how, in the wake of a natural disaster, their group could use that time to start from scratch and rebuild a society with sustainable resources that would function in a better way than the one that came before it. Okay, fine, but that means they’re essentially doing the same thing Bush did after 9/11: manipulating a situation that leaves people inherently vulnerable in order to further their own political agenda. How can they call themselves anarchists and then reconcile modeling themselves after something the government did that most people agree was downright wrong? So I asked them this at the end of the presentation, and the general consensus was: “Well, we’d be using the situation for good, while the government uses it for bad/profit.” But I mean – that’s just semantics. Personal opinion. Not everyone thinks the government is evil, so depending on how you look at it, your agenda could be construed as wrong, too.

It was an eye-opening experience nonetheless, even if the room was stiflingly hot and the presentation ran on for way too long. I talked to one of the presenters afterwards, Dave from Kansas, who was cute and nice and only smirked a little bit when I mentioned I worked for the man at the NYU Alumni office. Honestly, the whole thing made me think about that Yahoo article about the world blowing up, and then I had to step outside for a cigarette to keep myself from hyperventilating. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. If this city gets hit by something horrific, I guess I’ll just roll with the punches.

Below are scans of the pamphlets they handed out. Try to ignore my chicken scratch:





-Jess

Ghost Cats of the South


Josh gets to sift through and steal galleys from work; sometimes they're actually good books, but sometimes they're called Ghost Cats of the South and have a picture of a cat in the bottom right hand corner of every page. Self publishing has ruined literature.

-Jess

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Guilty Pleasures


So I don't know if it's just general urban malnutrition or a warning sign of future illness, but I definitely feel sick. I can't place my finger on what's wrong, but I just have that feeling, ya know? Or maybe you don't, if you're not a suburban whiny Jew with vitamin deficiencies.
Anyway, lots of drama in the world of feminism! And now for something completely different. Behold, this week's guilty pleasures.

1. Madonna, "4 Minutes." The way I see it, a guilty pleasure is a song whose volume you turn down when you get on the subway, lest anyone else find out what awful taste in music you have. That's how I feel about "4 Minutes," the kind of faux-hip hop dance number you feel cool listening to in your room but get nervous blasting when you're walking past people who listen to actual hip hop. Not that this happens often, but hey, I live by Alphabet City.
I know I said that I hated this song, but then, the lyrics are filled with contradictions. Like, is it a love song or a feel-good change-the-world number? In the beginning she says she's "waiting for somebody to pick up my stroll," which I can only assume is some sort of romantic metaphor from the fifties that Madge, in her ever-with-it wisdom, assumes the kids still listen to while, like, pushing hoops through the street and courting each other. Anyway, we get some JT-Madge back-and-forth for a while, and then the chorus comes in, and they're all like, "We've only got for minutes to save a world!" Which, presumably, is accomplished when you "grab a boy" and "get in line."
So...is their love going to save the world? Are they going to fall in love and then save the world? Didn't Madonna get into enough trouble when she saved that one kid from Africa? And does anyone still think Timbaland is edgy when he "uh"s and "yeah"s his way through the songs that he ripped from GarageBand diligently produced?
That's my main problem with this song--it tries so hard. So hard. Like, even in the video, Madge is trying to do her pilates moves all tough and gritty, and she keeps looking into the camera like she's pleading for it to take off ten years. When she repeats "tick tock, tick tock, tick tock," it's like she's aware of her age and is racing to beat the clock and remain relevant for a little bit longer--even for just four minutes.

2. Jack Johnson, "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing." Fuck you. I know what you're thinking, but you know what? This is a really really good song. It's short, it's catchy, and the lyrics aren't horrible. Sure, they're a bit cheesy ("The Lord knows that this world is cruel/I ain't the Lord, no I'm just a fool/Learning loving somebody don't make them love you"), but whatever. So what that he's a former surfer who now panders to the very frat boys who have invaded my dorm room for the summer? So what the he represents the general bland-ification of alternative rock that's plagued the genre since the decline of grunge? (Link to: Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, Puddle of Mudd, My Chemical Romance, etc.) So what if I would never ever ever admit to liking one of his songs in front of 99% of my friends? SO WHAT, HUH?
It's a good song. It's got a great hook, the guitar is chill, his voice is perfect for the melody; it's the kind of song I want to drive out to the beach and crack open a Corona to. Only Jack Johnson isn't invited. Let's be fair here; I have people to impress.

3. M.I.A., "Paper Planes." When it comes to music, I'm about six months behind the times. Seriously. I just got into Three 6 Mafia, didn't know what "Young Folks" was the first time I heard it at a club (Studio B, to be precise), and pretty soon I'll be telling people how great this band Vampire Weekend is.
Anyway, I was so so so late to get on the "Paper Planes" train (plane?). As in, last December I went to a best-songs-of-2007 listening party and this song was almost everyone's number one and I kept asking, "Who sings this? It's such a great summer song!" And everyone kept giving me the same how-am-I-friends-with-you expression that greeted me when I dared to ask what Misshapes was back at the start of freshman year. I am the hippity-hoppiest of hip.
So it comes to both my surprise and yours that M.I.A.'s now ubiquitous summer jam has made my list of guilty pleasures. It's just, well...it's just that, ubiquitous. Everyone's heard it. I see kids in the Central Jersey Facebook network add this song to their favorite music. It's the new "Young Folks," in that it's the new gateway song into the increasingly ambiguous world of indie and hipster music. I put this song on when I hosted a few friends the other night, and my God, you'd think I'd admitted to having HPV. Which I don't. Just saying.
So yeah, it's now officially uncool to listen to this song. But you know what? I still really like it. I love the guitar sample, I love the beat (thump-SNAP), I love the lyrics, I love the gunshots, I love it all. And if that makes me uncool and out of the loop, well, crack open a Natty Light and buy me a House of Holland tee, cuz I'm TOTES dressing hipster to the kegger next weekend.

-Josh

Why I Moved to New York

Since my Dad paid for the event, he asked me to send him the article I wrote about the Jezebel ladies' minor fiasco at The Green Room last night. I did, and this is his e-mail response:

If it's too small to read, the important part says:
"editor's note: could be even greater piece of writing without the F word."

Oh, Dad. You always were master of the backhanded compliment.

-Jess

Mustache of the Week

My faux-uncle lost some sort of bet that he won't give me the details of, but all I know is that he's a lawyer at some bigwig firm in DC and he has to walk around with a biker 'stache and matching soul patch. He sent me pictures for verification:
LOL

-Jess

Why I Hate The Article "Why Women Hate Porn"

Salon's Broadsheet pointed me to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald annoyingly titled, "Why Women Hate Porn." According to a survey conducted by Elle Magazine and MSNBC.com, 41% of women admitted to watching porn on the internet. Instead of, you know, giving in to the radical notion that women are sexual beings who can be just as stimulated and turned on by porn as men can, the author of the article automatically jumps to two ridiculous conclusions as to why women are watching more porn these days:

1. The fetishization and glamorization of the porn industry as the new "It" industry. I don't know what the fuck they're talking about here, because though our society is obviously consumed with porn and sex, it's not like porn stars - beyond Jenna Jameson - possess any kind of fame beyond what their racks hath wrought. Can you name a woman who is first and foremost a porn star, and is also considered a Hollywood A-Lister?


2. Women watch porn because they want to be able to tell guys they do so, since it will make them seem "sexier." This is fucking ridiculous, not to mention sexist. Not everything a woman does is so that she can be considered attractive by the opposite sex.


I don't understand why it's so difficult to wrap our heads around the fact that women watch porn because it turns them on and they like to be turned on. And it's not like this is a new phenomenon. Perhaps the sexualization of our culture is good, in some ways, because statistics like this that would have been dangerously underreported in earlier years (like Kinsey's findings) now reflect a more realistic picture of women and porn. I will fully admit that I watch porn practically every other day, and I see nothing wrong with it. It gets me off and it also teaches me a thing or two to try out in the bedroom. It makes me feel sexy. Why is everyone so goddamn afraid of recognizing that some women have the same animalistic sexual urges that men have? Why can't I simply watch porn because I like watching porn?


-Jess

Monday, June 30, 2008

Gloria Steinem is a Dinosaur

The shit hit the fan tonight at The Green Room on Bleecker, or at least it definitely seemed that way. I got there early and waited around in a group comprised of a strange combination of tourists, Jezebels and old guys. They had a ridiculously cheap special where you could get two beers and some pretzels for $5, which sounds awesome in theory but 1) I’m not 21 and I think they may have been carding and 2) Oh hi I’m BROKE. So I was sober, and also feeling like I’d reverted back to my old pro-ana ways because like I said I don’t have money and also don’t have food so like, I was dizzy and headachey the whole time. Anyway.

The first part was this comedy sketch that mocked the media, which was funny-ish, but seemed mildly forced. The second part was a little interview with the woman who hosts the show, Lizz Winstead (who is actually co-creator and ex-head writer of The Daily Show), with Moe and Tracie from Jezebel. What I expected to be a simultaneously light and enlightening conversation about sex and feminism turned into one of the most horrendous displays of girl-on-girl crime I’ve ever witnessed. Tracie and Moe were buzzed at the beginning but appeared to be fucking wasted by the end. Winstead kept hammering hard with questions about rape and promiscuity and abortion. It started out hilariously with the women discussing abortion, and upon Moe asking how many abortions Winstead had had in her life, she responded, “Oh, my sister calls me Terminator 3.” LOL.

After that things got intense. Like, really fucking intense, like I was shifting in my seat and people started heckling and it was in this bizarre little studio in the basement of this tiny theatre on Bleecker and Lafayette and some people were drunk and others (like me) were stone cold sober and some knew what Jezebel is and others didn’t and some didn’t even know anything about feminism while others appeared to be Gloria Steinem in costume. I feel like I can’t even really wrap my head around it yet because it was just so fucking intense.

What essentially happened is that the gloves came off and this idea, this basic idea that drives the notion of feminism - that women and men are equal - became so lost in the friction of fractionalized opinions, splintered conflicting ideas that became so convoluted that everyone lost sight of the fact that we can all be feminists - we can all be women - without thinking the same exact things. And instead of coming together to celebrate being women it completely became this Old Guard Feminism represented by Winstead vs. this New Wave Feminism represented by Moe and Tracie and Jezebel as a whole. It was as if all of the recent generational clashing in the feminist sphere came to a head and exacted its cruel, bloody revenge right in front of me at 10pm on a Monday night in SoHo.

There were three main arguments that stuck out.

First of all, there was the discussion of rape: I’ve always been relatively ambivalent concerning Tracie’s attitude about rape. She always takes a rather mocking tone, which is her nature as is evident in her posts, but sometimes it seems as if she just doesn’t get it. And it takes a lot for me to say that because this woman is essentially my Feminist Hero. Tonight, for example, she was talking about rape and arguing that free love means that you should be able to fuck anyone you want and not feel scared about it. And then Moe started talking about how rape happens more frequently in countries like Iraq and Iran where sexual desires are repressed. But rape is inherently a violent act, one about asserting power and aggression, and so why do societal attitudes about sex even play into it? If anything the rape rate is higher in these countries because of the negative attitudes towards women and the societally engrained notion that women are second-class citizens.

But the thing is that rape does happen in America, and Winstead was intent to drive this point home. One in four girls is sexually abused, and maybe women like Tracie don’t know anything about that because they just happen to be lucky. Perhaps they possess an intuition that helps them to ward off skeezy guys, but doesn’t it really essentially boil down to luck? Not being on the wrong street at the wrong time? Not knowing men who have it in them to rape you? Wearing a short skirt does not solicit rape. And so maybe luck does have something to do with it. I don’t think Tracie would argue against the concept that her flippancy concerning rape stems from the fact that she herself has never been raped. But it’s unfair to act like it doesn’t happen here just because men aren’t trying to rape you all the time. It does happen. All the fucking time. Edit: To be fair, as she pointed out in the comments of this post, Tracie was very skittish about discussing the topic of rape because she fully admitted she knows nothing about it. The whole discussion was just very awkward.

Branching off from that discussion about rape is the second argument: Moe wrote an article in the Washington Post a few weeks ago that basically served as a big Fuck You to upper-middle class white feminists (who say they’re going to vote for McCain because Clinton didn’t win the nomination) who are self-serving and selfish. After talking about this article, Moe got into this deeply poignant discussion about being date-raped when she was 19. It wasn’t poignant in that she was sentimentalizing it - just the opposite, it seemed like she wanted us to believe that it wasn’t this big deal, making jokes about it, swigging her beer between punch lines. It was bizarre to me, how flippantly she, too, treated the issue of rape. I can understand Tracie doing so to some extent since she has never been in that situation, but for someone who has had the experience of being sexually taken advantage of, you would think that might change your mind in a lot of ways. And so it was poignant because Moe seemed to be unable to recognize that rape is a big deal, and was obviously a big deal to her, no matter how much of a show she was putting on pretending that it wasn’t. Or - maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it isn’t a big deal to her - after all, she didn’t press charges because she claimed he didn’t “seem like the kind of guy who would rape again,” and in that case it’s even more poignant simply because rape is inherently a big deal, a life changing, massively big deal, and here is this girl who has been raped a bunch of times acting like it’s not.

And Winstead had a problem with that, too, because Moe was bitching about the Old Guard feminists being so self-serving but here was Moe refusing to press charges on her rapist in a totally selfish manner because according to her “it’d just be too much work,” and thus allowing this guy to roam free potentially preying on other drunk women.

And then when it came to talking about sexism in politics, particularly in regard to Hillary Clinton, Moe said something that I do really agree with: She said that she doesn’t feel oppressed in the same way that other people who experience prejudice do. Does sexism exist? Sure. Do we encounter it every day? Definitely. But it doesn’t affect our everyday lives in the nuanced and petulant ways that it did the Old Guard. And so picking out every instance of sexism that occurs in the election or in our lives is not only counterproductive, but also vaguely counterintuitive. And then Tracie called Gloria Steinem a dinosaur and that’s when the shit really hit the fan because someone hissed and people around me were groaning like, “What the fuck are these women doing?” and I became so alarmed I thought my throat was closing up because these are my heroes and they were fucking drunk on stage voicing opinions that I agree with, but voicing them poorly, voicing them so poorly that I wanted to run up and desperately clarify what they meant. Because I do know what they mean, because I do read Jezebel every day, and I know that they’re not these dumb drunk girls and that they do actually know what they’re talking about.

And so Winstead replied to Moe and Tracie and me and every girl in my generation who feels that we are not oppressed: You are not oppressed because women like Gloria Steinem changed the world so you would never have to feel that way!

And it’s true. And that’s the problem with feminism, is that there are so many offshoots and we just end up fucking arguing about the same dumb shit when really we should be coming together to fight the Man - quite literally - in order to curb all oppression, however subtle it may be. But instead we bicker drunkenly in dark, dank theatre spaces and the Old Guard feminists harbor such tremendous resentment at the lack of appreciation the New Wavers’ show, and the New Wavers are just so fucking sick of the Old Guard bitching that we have all but turned a blind eye to sexism and instead proclaim ourselves now equal, sexually free, powerful, beautiful women, all the while forgetting this sense of history that has driven us to coalesce in this moment as all-together Feminists. And that really fucking depresses me.

So I guess it's true what they say: never meet your heroes. At least not when they're drunk.

-Jess

Edit: I also wanted to clarify that this show was supposed to be a COMEDY show, which explains why all the intensity took me by surprise, and also kind of explains why Moe and Tracie weren't necessarily prepared. I don't think any of us were ready for the maelstrom of seriousness hurled at the panel/audience.

UPDATE: Due to all the recently linkage, specifically from The Huffington Post, please consider What I Know (For Now)

More on This Later

But for now:

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?

-Jess

Shoot the Messenger

Tonight I'm going to this event, which features Tracie and Moe from Jezebel. It's five blocks from my apartment and it's a talk show plus Q+A session about feminism, sex, politics and "oversharing." I'm going even though I had to charge the ticket to my Dad's credit card because I only have $10 until Thursday. And like... I'm going to spend that money on cigarettes. Today I had to eat a 99 cent thing of Trail Mix and a piece of cheese on a piece of bread that my friend Joe so kindly bestowed upon me. And all I have in my fridge are four Morningstar Farms veggie dogs and a half empty cannister of Chock Full O' Nuts coffee. So... this is what it's like to be young in New York. Young. And broke. And hungry.

Anyway, I'm assuming it will function much like the n+1 panel discussion I went to a few weeks ago, so I'll try to surreptitiously take notes and put a piece together about it. If any of you readers out there in Blogland are going, let me know, because I'm (of course) going alone as I have few close friends who are interested in things of this nature slash are willing to spend $17 on it. See you there?

-Jess

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Updates


Just a few housekeeping things:

1. My friend Duncan has a new blog. It's going to be incredible, and with three posts up it kind of already is. Do us all a favor and check it out. I also added it to our blogroll for easy access.

2. I know I never reviewed it, but Indecision was one of the best coming of age novels I've read since Catcher in the Rye. I highly recommend it.

3. As my trip to Paris inches ever closer, I continue to become more and more frantic in my fear of leaving New York. I haven't been away from the city for more than a few weeks in a very long time, and I'm terrified. I remember when I moved to Philadelphia when I was 12 the most crucial thing that kept me up at night was the idea that life would go on without me. I hate that feeling, and also things are seeming to coalesce in terms of writing and networking, and I'm afraid to cut that off for four months fucking around (quite literally) drunkenly in Paris. I'm sure it will end up being the experience of a lifetime, but I'm terrified for the same reason I refuse to entertain different walking routes to and from work every day: I suck at change. Like, really, really suck. As for the blog, I will try to obviously keep updating while I'm in Paris, but Josh has promised a more robust posting schedule on his part, so we will try to keep it afloat. These things shouldn't necessarily matter for a handful of months, but what can I say? Not only am I a worrier, but I'm also a preemptive worrier. OhmygodnowonderI'mboyfriendless.


-Jess

Generational Revelations While Stoned, and Other Thoughts

So Josh and I spent our weekend at our friend’s enormous mansion on Long Island. It was my first time in Long Island and I actually found it to be pleasantly relaxing compared to the rumble tumble of city life. There are a lot of annoying accents and a startling lack of good iced coffee places, but otherwise I can kind of understand why people want their kids to grow up there. It’s close enough to the city that they can feel somewhat cultured, but far enough away that you can feel safe in the confines of suburbia.

So on Friday night we rolled a joint and grabbed a bottle of wine and went out on the trampoline to hang out. I don’t know if it was the weed or just the feeling of freedom, with lots of open space and the heavy sky above us, but we started having this really deep conversation about - you guessed it - our generation, and of course, the internet. It started because Josh nervously admitted that he’s afraid he’ll never become a real adult who pays taxes and has drycleaning and knows what a W-4 form is. But I mean, he’s not alone: I’m also terrified that I’ll never be smacked into adulthood. I think that everyone feels this way at some point, especially in your early 20’s, but I think that our generation is in a precarious position that is much, much different than the generations that came before us. We are the first people to come of age having grown up with the internet. Perhaps we are lazier because of it, but overall we are also smarter. We are a generation whose knowledge is boundless as long as Google continues to be boundless. We can cure our illnesses and write our theses and meet our boyfriends with a few strokes of a keyboard. And we’ve essentially known how to do this our entire lives. It sounds great, but it actually puts us in a more difficult position than our predecessors.

The fact is that few of us will ever hold a steady job because - due to the internet - jobs have become so specialized, and so too, then, have majors and classes and programs of study. I am not a Journalism major, I am a Cultural Journalism major. We are a generation that has more opportunities and choices to make than any of the generations before us, and that has caused us to remain relatively stagnant in the face of potential success. Even the school at NYU I attend allows me to tailor my major to fit snugly within my exacting interests. Because of the internet, we have all been allowed to carve our specific niches that are highly specialized and cater only to things we are particularly interested in. Stumble Upon is a perfect example of that: check the boxes that correlate to topics you’re interested in, and all at once you only have to view webpages that correspond with those interests.

And it’s a good and bad thing, I think: I do believe that we are a generation that gets to know our inner selves at an earlier age and on a more sophisticated level than those before us, but I also think that we close ourselves off to a lot of things because we maintain such a strict grip on our interests at such a young age. And I think living in New York only amplifies this problem. New York is its own bubble, and I tend to fall prey to the line of thinking best characterized by the line, “If it didn’t happen in New York, it didn’t happen.” For example: Gawker is such a huge part of my life - it affects what I talk and write about, what I read and even how I read. And yet most people outside of New York probably don’t even know about Gawker, let alone what a galley is or who Julia Allison last slept with.

And so perhaps we can apply to ourselves, now, a criticism that many outsiders apply to the Gawker media world: because of the internet, have we all become too insidery? Too highly specialized to be able to relate to anyone who doesn’t understand us on a very specific level? I will never hold a steady job because the career path I’m looking towards - writing or publishing - is inherently unstable. A lot of us are in this same boat together, refusing to maintain an office job at the chagrin of our parents and grandparents who have slaved away in a cubicle for decades, now - because we know what we want and yes, we are spoiled - by celebrity gossip and reality television and Facebook narcissism - so that we will stop at nothing to get it. Like generations before us, we are at a point where we must choose between what we should do and what we want to do - but for us millennials, because of the way the internet gladly cracked open the world so it feels delicate like an egg in the palm of our hand - we are choosing to do what we want to do at shockingly higher rates than the preceding generations.

This might ultimately make us happier, but it also scares the shit out of older people who look at young people like we’re apt to destroy everything. The irony, of course, is that the world was made a shitty place long before we were ever born, and now it’s our job to make the best of it. And maybe making selfish choices that lead to personal happiness is just our way of coping.

-Jess