My deep thought while running this morning was that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people I thought were cool in college email me and are all, underminingly, “OMG it’s so cool you’re a writer! I totally wish that’s something I had time to do,” OR SOMETHING TO THAT EFFECT.
Dude, nobody had a…
I love this side of Doree. It sucks that people think writing is a hobby. “Oh, you wrote a book? I’m planning on writing a book next year, during my sabbatical from the corporate law firm!” Fuck you.
But the extent to which we confuse Internet Feminism with Feminism, or say that the growth of one ensures the transformative social impact of the other, worries me. I think we pat ourselves way too much on the back for our Internet feminisms, our various righteous comments and blog posts and blog wars, and forget to ask ourselves what impact our statements are having on anyone who doesn’t already read feminist blogs. At our worst, we create ever-narrowing circles of ideological purity, and waste valuable time and energy attacking each other for not being perfectly versed on or in accordance with the current Internet Feminist consensus. (Or, defending ourselves pissily, which: On both counts, as you well know, I am guilty.) We mistake the troubles and conflicts of Internet Feminists for the troubles and conflicts of women.
I met Sady by, I think, pissily defending myself in the comments of Tiger Beatdown about something we disagreed on. Then we had coffee and talked about it, and also talked about the other million things which we vehemently agree on. So that’s a story about how Internet Feminism, in a best case scenario involving people who are capable of productively disagreeing (or: at least one person, in that instance Sady) overlaps with and aids IRL Feminism. It needs to happen a lot more.
"After my first record came out, I read everything. I was so amazed that I was in the press. Now everyone’s like, “Oh, Guyville, it’s so wonderful, it’s so pure.” Well, I lived through it and at the time it was a shitstorm, of people being like ‘She can’t sing, she can’t play, who the fuck does she think she is, she’s a fraud, she dyes her hair blond, she’s playing up her sexuality which is why she sells.’ And then there’s other people saying ‘She’s the second coming of Jesus.’
And then it came time for me to write the next record, and I really couldn’t. Because I was so crippled. You know, you become an artist, you become an observer, of life, and you digest life by making art about it. What happened when I read all that stuff was: I felt their eyes—even as I was creating—I felt those voices saying, ‘Oh, let’s do that’ or ‘Let’s do this.’ And it. Just. Fucked. Me. Up.”
Oh god, I died. Anyone who has ever cooked anything from Epicurious etc knows that this taxonomy of horrible recipe-site commenters rings so true: “I hated this recipe! I followed the instructions to a ‘T’ but instead of white flour I used corn starch and I swapped the honey for chili powder. It was terrible!”
There’s a new School of Seven Bells album out today, “Disconnect from Desire,” and I am way into it. On Friday I get to take a train and I’m already excited to listen to this on it; a train seems like the natural habitat of this music.
Also yesterday Ruth, who is a lot more up on what the kids like than I am, was like “I know I’m a cliche but I really like Broken Bells” and I was like “Any relation of Sleigh Bells, School of Seven Bells?” and she was like “no, Broken Bells = guy from the Shins + Danger Mouse” and I was like “Oh” and then she sensed I was still confused and clarified “Danger Mouse = 1/2 of Gnarls Barkley” and then, later, “Other half of Gnarls Barkley = Cee-Lo.” This is probably all true, but it might also be her revenge for the time I tried to convince her I had seen a band at the Northside Festival called Panda Wolf.
I wrote something online about the unique pressures and responsibilities of writing online, and how sometimes women-focused blogs like Jezebel, Broadsheet, and XX — the lattermost of which published it — don’t live up to them. As usual some people agreed with me and some people didn’t. Because they were writing online the people who didn’t agree with me mostly resorted to a. misstating my argument based on half-reading the piece while b. calling me names. This is nothing new; what is new is my conviction that most of the people who make a big point of identifying themselves first and foremost online as feminists — in their Twitter bios or the “description” lines of their blogs — are actually about as “feminist” as Tucker Max. Also, that no one will ever let me forget that I worked at Gawker, no matter how many years pass, no matter how much other stuff I do and no matter how different that stuff is from what I did during 2006-7.
I don’t work at Gawker now; I don’t work at Slate now. I don’t work anywhere. The thing I read about myself during my bedtime narci-google yesterday that raised my hackles the most was being called “Slate’s Emily Gould.” I got paid $400 to write the piece I describe above, and that was after wheedling. For $400, I don’t get to be “Slate’s Emily Gould.” I am no one’s Emily Gould but my own, and I have the scary letters from the IRS and the unopened bills for medical specialists to prove it. I had zero incentive to “boost pageviews” or “uniques” with that piece. I wrote it because I felt like someone had to. This is maybe a bad or self-destructive impulse, but at this point it feels like even if I try, I can’t get out of what I’m into.
Oh also, I wrote an advice column about being a writer at The Faster Times, for free. Please click on it so that next month when rent is due I can pay my landlady in attention.
“Feminism has to be for all women. Even women you think are stupid, naive, or “tragically unfamiliar with the content of Playboy.” Even women who walk into the wrong room. Even women with bad publicists. Even women with no publicists. Even women who expect professional photographers and stylists to honor professional contracts without question. Even women who have lied. Even women who have bashed other women. Even women who you think have capitalized on their “female sexuality.” Even women who “flaunt [their] junk for money and fame.” Even women with cleavage on the cover of books. Even women who sometimes wear bikinis. Even women who don’t perform all of these feats of “female sexuality” naturally, even women from whom it’s all “an act.” Even women you think are bitches. Even women who talk about it.”—
i don’t think it’s that bad, really. also, it makes a lot of sense in context.
I couldn’t help myself and I got really hobbyistic about reading all the online responses to Funstyle and this is, so far, my favorite. Maura and Seth are fair and mostly positive. I have been listening to Funstyle in the context of every other Liz Phair album (except the last 2) all day and having a good time, FWIW. I still think she’s a genius, even though — and even a little bit because — she rhymed that word with penius (colada).
When I was a teenager I would do this thing with my dad, who is a musician, where I would play him whatever Helium or Superchunk or Tori Amos or Pavement song I was currently obsessed with, to see what he thought of it. Typically this took place in the car. I would push the tape or later CD into the car stereo and cue up my favorite song in the entire world at that moment and we’d listen, and then he would say something like “That sounds just like the Beatles, s/he really ripped that off from the Beatles [the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Van Morrison, etc].” These conversations always ended with my making a silent promise to myself that I would never stop listening to new music in favor of just listening to the albums that I loved when I was young over and over again.
Last night I went to see Tuscadero with Marisa and with Bennett, who has been my friend since before either of us had armpit hair. The last time we saw Tuscadero together Bennett and I were too young to drink legally. This time, we were almost twice as old as we were then. It was impossible to turn and look at B last night without thinking about our teen selves, how they would have felt about our adult selves. It’s hard to tell whether we feel more or less old than people in their late 20s have felt in previous eras. We keep hearing that we’ve lived through the profoundest cultural paradigm shift w/r/t how information and art are disseminated since the invention of the printing press, but also a lot of stuff is the same as it was when we were teenagers. This is my very brief and Internet-friendly explanation for the ongoing explosion of 90s nostalgia, and why people have such complicated responses to blog posts that seem, at first glance, to say nothing more than “remember when?”
The Information by Martin Amis, which I’m reading for the first time right now, was published in 1995. It’s about a writer in early middle age named Richard Tull who is kind of a failure and his friend Gwyn Barry who is a bestselling author of drivel, and all the inventive and sad things the former does in order to try and torment the latter (none of which, so far, work). Obviously the question of “isn’t it so unfair that people would much rather read cutesy-pootsy bullshit books than good books” is enduringly fascinating to me, but more than that I am fascinated by how many of the pranks Richard tries to pull on Gwyn have, in the last 15 years, become impossible to pull off because of technology. For example: Richard sends Gywn a copy of the enormous, many-sectioned Sunday LA Times with a typewritten note reading
Something in here to interest you. The price of fame!
Which is brilliant, right? Because it means Gywn will have to spend hours combing through every single page of this HUGE newspaper in search of some negative item that isn’t even there. (Of course what actually happens is that poor hapless Richard has overlooked the Classified ad someone has placed ISO a first edition of one of Gywn’s horrible, insanely popular books and Gywn’s eye happens to alight on it first thing, but still: genius.)
To recap: huge newspaper, classified ad, searching for hours, finding information quickly and having that seem like miraculous good fortune — none of these things are possible anymore.
At first I imagined that a great modern-day equivalent of this prank is to send someone an email that says “Hey man, I saw the post about you. :( Hope you’re ok! Fuck those bastards. Love, Me” but then Keith pointed out that the recipient of that email would just Google herself and think you were talking about whichever critical thing came up first, because inevitably there would be something, because there always is, about anyone.
It’s hard not to be nostalgic for the world as it was 15 years ago, especially because at first glance today’s world seems so similar, and because it is so different. Underneath, everything is different. The biggest difference is that everything underlying everything, — information itself — seems more available now. All veneers seem easily peel-back-able in a way they didn’t, in 1995. Are they, really, though? Or are we just more willing to accept the first result, the easiest answer?
The members of Tuscadero must be in their early 40s now. But in the red stage light last night, they looked just the same as they did in 1995, when I heard them sing this song live for the first time. This song is their biggest hit, I guess? It’s about being mad at parents who’ve cleaned out the attic (which is rhymed, hilariously, with “emphatic”). It is maybe even a little bit about feeling nostalgic and knowing it’s irrational but feeling that way anyway. “You threw out my Nancy Drew books, my model horses from Massachussetts, all my Barbies and all my Kens, my stuffed animals, my childhood friends … I feel so unsteady, oh Nancy, I miss you already.”