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summer reading

on a recent train ride i read extremely loud and incredibly close by jonathan safran foer and white noise by don delillo.

i cracked open extremely loud and incredibly close around 10am and was finished around 5pm. the, loveliest book, ever. it’s narrated by a little boy whose dad died in 911, and it’s about a quest he goes on to find some shit out. i laughed, i cried, i felt like a huge weirdo for having such noisy reactions in the quiet car of the amtrak train. one of my favorite passages is from the very first page, here it is so you can read it:

what about little microphones? what if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? when you skateboard down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. one weird thing is, i wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which i know about, but don’t really want to know about. that would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. and at the finish line at the end of the new york city marathon it would sound like war.

another part i really really liked comes later, when oskar (the narrator) meets a sorta eccentric old man who lives in the apartment above him. the man has this fantastical card catalog with a card for every person he’s ever met or head of; each card has the person’s name and a one word description of who they are.

he slid out drawers from the cabinet and pulled cards from the drawers, one after another. “henry kissinger: war! ornette coleman: music! che guevara: war! jeff bezos: money! philip guston: art! mahatma gandhi: war!” “but he was a pacifist,” i said. “right! war! arthur ashe: tennis! tom cruise: money! elie wiesel: war! arnold shwarzenegger: war! martha stewart: money! rem koolhaas: architecture! ariel sharon: war! mick jagger: money! yasir arafat: war! susan sontag: though! wolfgang puck: money! pope john paul II: war!” i asked him if he had a card for stephen hawking. “of course!” he said, and slid out a drawer, and pulled out a card. “stephen hawking: astrophysics” “do you have a card for yourself?” he slid out a drawer. “a.r. black: war husband”

another thing i really liked is that whenever oskar is sad or upset he says he has heavy boots. sometimes he has very very heavy boots. you gotta read it.

and then there’s white noise, which i’ve been meaning to read for a billion years. am still in the process of reading it, but it’s really good, and a lot easier to get through and enjoy than, say, infinite jest and other well-known examples of post-modernist literature. while there are lots of books i read slowly and love anyway, usually the mark of a good book (for me, at least) is how quickly i finish it; that is, how loath i am to put it down. white noise is engaging enough to be a page turner, but still incorporates deeper meanings and scathing cultural commentaries like the best of ’em.

after a toxic chemical cloud descends over the narrator and his town, his family is forced to evacuate. while stopped at a gas station, he is briefly exposed, and a statistical computer program quickly assures him of his imminent death. this was a paragraph i liked reading:

i wanted them to pay attention to the toxic event. i wanted to be appreciated for my efforts in getting us to the parkway. i thought of telling them of the computer tally, the time-factored death i carried in my chromosomes and blood. self-pity oozed through my soul. i tried to relax and enjoy it.

 

let’s start a festo bookclub, like oprah’s but better.

[ stefanie ]

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here’s a nice article to make you feel intellectually superior to all the employed econ majors you know.

 

also let’s take a minute for louise bourgeois, who died last week after almost a century of creating art of all shapes and sizes, who was still creating oozing guttural imploring encompassing emotional sculptures and drawings well into her eighties, what a cool lady right?

 

(louise with her 1970 sculpture eye to eye, from le centre pompidou)

 

(legs, 1986, the hirshhorn)

 

(10am is when you come to me)

 

(donne ou prend, 2002, tate modern)

 

her art is about “consider[ing] the whole range of intimacy, desire, and the human need to connect or belong, to be part of the family”. she has a drawing from 2007 that reads,

 

it is not so much

where my motivation comes from

but rather

how it manages

to survive

 

it’s wild how much her childhood affected her; she had enough pent up emotion to fuel 70 or so years of prolific art making.

 

another melancholy but appealing line from a 1947 drawing, il disparut dans un silence total, that was hanging at her pompidou retrospective in 2008:

 

he was of a quiet nature and rather intelligent but he was not interested in being loved or protected because he was interested in something else

 

she was very special & let’s all love the pieces she’s left behind.

 

[ stefanie ]

is the question i hear the most often when i mention my quest for the perfect dry shampoo.

the answer, of course, is that i am often lazy, don’t always have the time or facilities to shower while spending weekends away, and, as my idol bea points out, washing hair every day is unecessary and also a waste of water.

dry shampoo is like baby powder and corn starch. it’s either a powder or a spray that doesn’t actually clean your hair but instead soaks up all the oil so you appear clean to passers-by. in fact, it’s GENIUS — the most perfect product for vain campers and backpackers (full disclosure: i am a vain backpacker), frequent roadtrippers, concerned hippies, lazy lucies, and people with bangs for whom grease becomes a problem rapidly after showering (full disclosure: my bangs get greasy like 5 hours after my hair has dried). i am convinced everyone should carry some around with them at all times in their purse, backpack, or fannypack.

so far my favorite is by oscar blandi, because it works really well and once you figure out how to work the nozzle it’s pretty easy to avoid dumping a pound of powder on your head. the only flaw is that it’s white — perfect for blondes and redheads but often gives those with darker hair the impression of grey roots. meh. i’d rather look old than greasy any day.

[ stefanie ]

vintage and hand crafted items to wear, look at, and serve on, at your fabulous memorial day bbq. hoorah

1. timebombvintage

VINTAGE 50s Red and White Checked=
STALKS IN BLUE - Original TtV Fine Art Photography Print - Signed and Dated --BUY 2 GET 1 FREE--
Yellow Metal Stars Garden Ornament
Crab salt and pepper shakers
Let's Kick It, Gocco Screen-Printed Card
Kitchen tea dish towel, Virgin of Guadalupe, Mary, free shipping
and what will you serve at this fabulously stylish bbq, you wonder?
this grilled tuna is really really delicious and super easy (make sure to marinate for at least an hour). this corn and tomato salad is perfect for the summertime — fresh and crisp and ideal for outdoor eating on a hot day. if grilling isn’t yo thang, this heirloom tomato pasta is one of the yummiest things ever (hopefully your farmer’s market is open for the summer and you can get some very very fresh tomatoes and basil). and also veggie kabobs (zucchini, onions, mushrooms, campari tomatoes, etc) and corn (shuck it, slather with butter, sprinkle on some cajun seasoning, put the leaves back up, wrap in aluminum foil, and grill baby grill) and applie pie of course and homemade popsicles and memorial day wouldn’t be memorial day without some delicious summery beers (we like anchor steam, harpoon ipa, and brooklyn summer ale) and maybe if you are lucky some delicious mojitos.
remember your sunscreen.
[ stefanie ]

babies pt. 2

to continue in my recent tradition of unfinished thoughts digsuised as blog posts (sorry babies but you were just too cute for me to intelligently and clearly explain why a yurt birth in namibia is so much more appealing to me than the drugged up hospital scenes of san francisco) i give to you, dear readers, some unfinished complaints.

who the f are you, elena kagan, and why is the only thing i know about you the fact that you are unmarried and childless?

i’ve been following news less than i used to, partly because i’ve been out of town and without computers pretty frequently recently and also because, what with my parents’ tv and cable options staring me in the face every time i walk downstairs, the newspaper isn’t as tempting as it used to be. my own fault. but but but even in the midst of this separation from current events and actual facts i still know that there is a woman out there named elena who omg has no children and wtf decided to embrace a career instead of a husband?!? choices that may have been compelling and new in i dunno the 70s are no longer the salacious news stories the media wants them to be — why are we still supposed to drop everything and discuss them when all i want to discuss is what kagan actually thinks about the law. some pseudo feminist has been quoted as saying that she wishes kagan was a mother, because her current marital status sends the wrong message. well, ms feminist, what message is her childless status sending and also seriously why does it matter so much to you? wouldn’t you rather know where she stands on reproductive rights and gay marriage and other important social issues currently facing the nation that will affect you, as a woman, so much more than whether or not she has kids and a husband?

and i know that if i took the time i would be able to find out exactly where elena kagan stands on all the important issues, and why obama sees her as a good choice for the supreme court, and why i should or should not be excited that this new individual is going to have an effect on my life. what bugs me i guess is that with no effort whatsoever i already know things about this woman that i don’t give a shit about. yeah yeah it’s fuckin fantastic that another woman has been nominated, and of course i know very well that there is a long way to go before women are truly equal to men in the us (not to mention other countries but this is obviously a complaint for another day) but the more we talk about how fabulous it is that there’ll be another woman on the bench the more we undermine the equality this nomination stands for.

so let’s suck it up friends and like or hate her views but please please stop running headlines on her marital choices because holy crap i don’t care.

thank you, for listening.

[ stefanie ]

today i saw babies and holy shit holy shit it was so good, me and my mom spent all 80 minutes of it saying “awww” and laughing and also worrying that the much-abused and ever-present cats and various farm animals would rebel against their baby abusers and i dunno scratch them or something. thank goodness, everyone was safe.

Ponijao

ponijao from namibia; she enjoys eating dirt and breastfeeding

Bayar Bundled Up

bayar from mongolia; my second favorite baby, he likes to pet goats and play with toilet paper

after the movie we agreed that ponijao and bayar, two babies raised in yurts in pretty isolated areas, were much more likeable than the two city babies, hattie (san francisco) and mari (tokyo), who both cried all the time and were constantly surrounded by brightly colored (and phthalate-ridden) plastic toys. there’s nothing like watching western excess consumption being thrust upon a baby to make you wish you lived in a yurt, too. largely self-sufficient, these yurt babies hardly ever cried, explored the world independently of their parents, and found their own toys in the rocks and dirts and buckets of water around them. by the end of the movie (at age 1)  ponijao was running around and balancing metal pots on her head, while hattie was subjected to the weirdest baby yoga class i’ve ever seen. western culture is so all-encompassing and over-stimulating, and while i pride myself on the lack of video games in my childhood it was still incredibly uncreative. while definitely the cutest movie you’ll ever see, babies is also a very fascinating look at cultural differences and similarities etc etc gooo see it you’ll love it i promise.

[ stefanie ]

future islands is a shimmery new wavey sorta group who used to play with dan deacon and wham city; on 12 june at 8pm they will be playing at the silent barn in ridgewood; you should come!

this is an especially pretty music video (in hd!!!) for their song tin man:

their music feels like pastel afternoons at a build-a-bear workshop, and also like wearing neon leggings while eating ice cream cake on cape cod, and maybe even a little bit like what it would’ve felt like if molly ringwald came to my bat mitzvah.

if you do come to the show and you see a short girl with brown hair dancing around like a huge dork you should come say hi; either it will be me or you will have just made a super cool new friend.

[ stefanie ]