“The next day, Tommy gave me a ride down the mountain to the hospital. I went to the reception desk and told the lady there that I’d come to see Hamper McBee. She got on the phone and had a little conversation with somebody, then gave me directions to a ward. Hamper was in one of the beds. He was so pale, so very, very pale, and looked so young and old at the same time. And he was wearing a straitjacket. I didn’t know what to do. “I’d hug you, baby,” he said. “But you can see I’m a little tied up here.” “May I hug you?” “You sure can.” So I gave him a hug, the kind you give someone you never want to lose. “Why are you wearing that thing?” “Because I’ve got the dt’s real bad, honey. And when the dark comes, I see things that ain’t there. But they look real. And I act like they’re real, and then I hurt myself and other people, too, ‘thout meaning to.” “What do you see?” I asked. “Spiders, elephants, shit like that.” He smiled. “You look pretty all dressed up. Where you headed?””
Mike Riggs writes: “My mom has kicked off her new blog with a really good, really sad essay”
Oh gosh I liked reading this. Really lovely. Really sad.
11:56 am • 18 September 2012 • 7 notes
A Poem I Wrote About a Groupon for Adult Ballet Classes
this is the kind of work i’m proud to be able to feature on our website. these discussions and explorations are vital for our generation is to succeed.
2:42 pm • 10 September 2012 • 5 notes
The exceptionalism that just won’t quit
I feel like there’s been a rich history of women and some men reporting tales of street harassment on tumblr. I started to search for some examples, but you know something that’s not that fun? Looking for examples of street harassment on tumblr. Instead I’ll just tell you mine, add to the broader narrative of people reporting this bullshit.
I live on a street where I feel safe, in a neighborhood where I feel safe. The safety mostly comes from numbers. The street is never empty. I am never walking down it alone. There is always someone a block ahead, a block behind, across the street.
Last night when I was walking, I walked past several people, lapped them, was on a block on my own. A man was walking toward me from the other direction. He was on his phone. We walked past each other. He was on one side of the sidewalk, I the other. As we passed he reached out and grabbed my wrist. He didn’t stop walking, just grabbed it, held it for a second, squeezed it, let it go, and kept walking. I paused, whipped around. He had turned his head back at me, too. Was smiling. I whipped right back around and kept walking forward.
Maybe he thought he knew me. Maybe he thought I was someone else. Maybe it was an accident and his hand really just brushed mine and when he tried to pull it away he accidentally put his fingers around my wrist and squeezed instead. Maybe I was swinging my arms more than I thought I was. Maybe I swung my arm out and at the exact right time his hand was cupped at the exact right angle and the squeezing motion I felt was totally involuntary, a phsyiological reaction, like a sphincter.
It took me maybe thirty seconds to get to the end of the block, to cross the street and enter the deli where I didn’t even know I was headed until I was in the back, opening the refrigerator door and picking up a bottle of water. It took that thirty seconds for me to get angry. That man grabbed my wrist on purpose and he did it because he wanted to and because he could.
This is the absolute most benign example of this kind of thing that I can think of, that I’ve heard of, that could happen. When I think of this kind of thing, I think of full on attack, of men in masks, stranger danger back alley rapists, subway ass grabbers. When I think of this kind of thing, I picture myself screaming, hitting, speaking very, very strongly. How many nights have I walked home on emptier streets, emboldened by a mantra that if anyone fucked with me, I would go primal.
I would say I’m glad my first time being touched by a stranger on the street was so uneventful, that it can be viewed as good training for being aware, even in situations where it doesn’t feel like you need to be aware, a lesson in being ready to go primal anywhere. But someone grabbed my wrist, and I was so shocked that I didn’t have the wherewithal to say anything, to even get angry right away. I didn’t go primal because I’m not sure it’s possible to go from enjoying the breeze to primal in one second flat.
Maybe I knew I wasn’t actually in danger. Maybe I knew this was not a time for being primal, but a time for delayed reactions and next-day blog posts. I knew I was fine, so I was fine. Yes, that’s it. If I’m ever ACTUALLY in danger, for sure I’ll scream, fight back, make it abundantly clear that you cannot touch another person’s body just because you want to. Because you cant. That’s not something you can do. Even if it’s just the wrist, even if it’s on a bright street, even if you smile afterwards.
3:27 pm • 5 September 2012 • 7 notes
CMJ: One time in college, I went home with a friend to this tony suburb in Connecticut. Full of the sort of gentried WASPs you’d expect. And it was fine and his family was very nice and all that. Then, the next week, he told me that his parents remarked to him how nice and kind I was. There were a few of us staying at his place, but they wanted to point out that it was me who was really nice. And I knew what that was all about.
LS: This is hard. It’s gross that they said that, I totally see that and feel that way now … but I can understand, and I’m sure—and cringe to think—that I have made similar comments in my life. You were probably the first black person in their house, which broke this stereotype they had in their head. But it’s sad that they—we—had those stereotypes to break in the first place.
CMJ: Oh, totally, I understand that a lot. My maternal grandfather was an outright racist who refused to ever meet me, and I don’t begrudge him that. He was raised in a different time, and it sucks that we never spoke, but I feel sad for him, not angry. I just suppose that a chip that’s easy to get on your shoulder if you’re a person of color moving about in these wealthy worlds is that sometimes you just want to be at a place and enjoy yourself.
You don’t want to be an ambassador. You want to be a house guest or a bar patron just like any white person. Y’know?
My father, when I was growing up, told me this a lot: “If you want to make it in America, which has a lot of racism in it, you’re going to have to do two for every white person’s one. That’s not fair, but that’s life.” And that’s something that’s stuck with me throughout my life and career. Playing the black ambassador is part of that. You’re not just a party guest like everyone else; you’re the BLACK party guest. That’s just how it is.
I talked to Logan at The Billfold about race and money and class and some other stuff that we stupidly use to divide ourselves like idiots.
Please read this thank you goodbye.
12:54 pm • 5 September 2012 • 16 notes
THE BACKLASH ERA ELECTIONEERING: WAS THE CLINT SPEECH A BRILLIANT PIECE OF BACKLASH JIU-JITSU?
The big hilarious joke on Twitter tonight is that the disaster of Clint Eastwood’s speech in fact a secret agent mission, sent on a kamakazie run by the Obama campaign to sink Romney’s big night.
Makes perfect sense….Because without Clint’s stumble…the masses of Twitter would have been spending the night high-fiving and celebrating what a wonderful speech Romney gave? How it completely changed their minds about the man and made them see him in a fresh new light?
Obviously not. The range of potential reaction to Romney’s speech ran from unrelenting scorn to apocalyptically negative. In the Backlash Era, it is not possible for Romney - or for any candidate - to receive a sustained positive response to a speech. The very worst thing they can do is deliver a speech that gets their supporters feeling great and all riled up and thinking it was terrific, as their enthusiasm would only engender an even bigger Backlash.
This blog has repeatedly made clear that the candidate whom people are thinking about the least on election day will win. We also previously suggested that in a more open world the best thing a candidate could do would be to skip their own conventions and if possible, steer clear of the debates as well.
This however, is not possible. So given that, how does a candidate manage to be the centerpiece of his own convention, speaking before thousands of adoring acolytes on live national television and avoid a backlash? The best way I can think of is by throwing the Twitterati something bigger to Backlash against then your own speech. Since Newsroom wasn’t airing this week, they had to figure, what could inspire a backlash that is not only bigger, but ultimately, more of an irrelevant sideshow than having an enormous Hollywood star take the stage and do something crazy. And then get up and give a solid but forgettable speech right after. The Backlash is all but certain to fly over your head right onto the crazy Hollywood star.
Tonight on Twitter, Clint Eastwood is the #1 trending topic. #thingsmittromneywilltakeaway is way down in fourth. By the laws of the Backlash Era, we predict a significant bounce, so long as he can stay out of the news all weekend and then go into hiding once the Democrats start meeting. Provided they don’t have an imploding celebrity of their own in the can….
7:00 am • 31 August 2012 • 12 notes
PRIZE AND WHISPERS: OSCAR DREAMS DIE YOUNG FOR THE MASTER
No film is more anticipated this year by film afficios than Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. If the movie turns out to be yet another 4 to 5 star work from the Gen X auteur it will put him in the elite ranks of only five contemporary directors who have created six consecutive great films without stumbling. (The others are Sam Peckinpah, Hal Ashby, David Cronenberg, Michael Ritchie and Pedro Almodovar).
The film may well rise to that level. I hope and believe that it will be another PTA great. But as the author of the Prize and Whispers Oscar column I have sworn a sacred oath to tell my readers the truth no matter how painful, and to be the one Oscar column that delivers 100 percent accurate predictions. So it is my terrible duty now to inform you that while The Master may turn out to be great, what it will not turn out to be is the Academy Award winner for Best Picture of 2012.
It has been curious to note that while a good number of critics and reporters have seen the film (not including myself) the reaction has been muted…In the brief glimpses that they have let out, you have to read between the lines to get a handle on how they feel about the film. No one has called it a disaster, but no one has called it “THE BEST FILM OF PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON’S CAREER OR ANYBODY’S CAREER EVER IN HISTORY” either, which is the baseline instant critical response to major films these days.
So it’s been puzzling.
Last night, David Poland took in a screening of the film and attempted to sort out the muddle:
And now, I feel like I understand the near-silence.
What is The Master?
Well, there is lights out acting, beautiful images, and raw, undeniable emotions.
But what is all of this in service of… what’s the point?
I think people are a little afraid to stick their noses out and find out In a few weeks that they were “wrong” or don’t match the inevitable consensus. I know that I am looking to a second screening for greater clarity.
Here is the list of the last ten winners of the Best Picture Oscar: The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men, The Departed, Crash, Million Dollar Baby, LOTR:Return of the King, Chicago.
That is outwardly a fairly diverse list of styles and genres. But they all have one thing in common: there is not the slightest hint of ambiguity in one frame of any single one of them. No one emerged from those films wondering what they were about or what the filmmakers’ intentions were. Any sentient adult who saw those films emerged from their very first viewing grasping every philosophical subtlety there was to grasp. No County comes closest to a nuanced vision, but even that is less complex than it might appear, being the clearest on the nose statement of the Coen’s nihilistic worldview of their career.
These films each in their own way took the audiences somewhere out of their immediate lives. All were “cinematic” in creating a bigger, more consuming experience than could have been achieved in any other medium. But no debates were sparked by the meaning of any of them. No one had to see any of these films twice to “get” them.
So sight unseen, just based on this early reaction, I am prepared to remove The Master from Oscar contention. If it sparked this ambiguous response from a single person, let alone the majority of critics who have seen it, it can not, under any circumstances, be the Oscar winner. That is certainly, not to say it can’t be great. And these critical responses may indeed herald a film that is so rich its potency will only grow over time. But that’s not where Oscar’s head is.
Which is good! The Academy is not a bunch of misshapen video clerks sitting around a coffee house. It is the booster branch for The Industry that is America’s largest export. In every Oscar race we have to cross this hurdle where we remind ourselves that the Academy award winner never goes to the best film of the year. It goes to the best film in a category of Emotionally Aspirational Upper Middlebrow works. Which is fine. The list above is not my top ten of the last decade, but if you were going to show a visitor from Mars the best of what Establishment Hollywood has been up to for the past ten years (as a producer and distributor) that list is a perfectly decent place to start. There’s only one or two movies I would call bad on there. So let Caesar render unto himself what is Caesar’s already and get out of his way.
Mr. Spielberg’s got a movie coming out that if every movie he has ever made is anything to judge by, will not have one frame of intellectual ambiguity about it. That should be where the conversation starts.
“In every Oscar race we have to cross this hurdle where we remind ourselves that the Academy award winner never goes to the best film of the year. It goes to the best film in a category of Emotionally Aspirational Upper Middlebrow works. Which is fine. ”
I never feel like a philistine when I read Richard Rushfield’s film and industry criticism. And I almost always feel like a philistine. SO THANKS, RICHARD.
12:48 pm • 22 August 2012 • 20 notes
Stoked as hell for this (Taken with Instagram)
"get some good bread. put every delicious thing within reach or out of reach on the good bread."
10:13 am • 20 August 2012 • 6 notes
A big, messy, fun dinner in honor of K, here from Seattle for BEA, that started with all the food in the world — Torrisi turkey breast (so good it was almost worth its labor-intensity), butter lettuce salad with April Bloomfield’s lemon-caper dressing, la vignarola, polenta, roasted radishes with blue cheese, sautéed radish tops, and one million bottles of white wine — and ended in dancing on broken wine glasses.
When I brought this lattice-top cherry pie out for dessert (we had it with salted caramel ice cream, a favorite of mine to make), one of the guests declined a slice. I gave him one anyway, because who declines pie? Not even fruit-pie-hating M declines pie. It turned out he had assumed it was store bought and wanted to pass; with that cleared up, he had a second slice.
June 8, 2012, 10:31pm
NOZLEE IS ON A BLOGGING SPREE/I’M ON A LIKING SPREE
7:47 pm • 18 August 2012 • 47 notes
The most frustrating part about this sign on a nondescript building near my workplace is that these words very much seem like they should make sense together. I keep focusing on them, and like a 3D Magic Eye picture, some sort of linguistic meaning will suddenly jump out at me, but when I look again it’s not there. And then I feel really stupid when I can’t see it again.
Ed note: Matt Powers received an English degree with honors from the Pennsylvania State University in 2011.
7:16 am • 17 August 2012 • 4 notes