Monday, July 31, 2006

Ashlee Simpson appeared on the July cover of Marie Claire magazine extolling the virtues of appreciating one’s body as it is — then she had a nose job.

Marie Claire readers erupted in fury at what they said was Ms. Simpson’s hypocrisy and the magazine’s “cluelessness.” They wrote 1,000 letters in protest to the magazine, according to Joanna Coles, the new editor of the magazine. And she agreed with them.

In the first issue (due Aug. 15) over which she exercises full editorial control, Ms. Coles gives expanded space in the letters column to readers to vent against Ms. Simpson. Ms. Coles adds in a note: “We’re dazed and confused — and disappointed — by her choice, too!”

I don't think I've ever read Marie Claire, and it's not like I'm going to start, but this is kinda cool. The first issue under this new editor also has a really hot photo of Maggie Gyllenhaal on the cover. Nice selling point, at least to me...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

love for savage, again

In New York, the court ruled in effect that irresponsible heterosexuals often have children by accident — we gay couples, in contrast, cannot get drunk and adopt in one night — so the state can reserve marriage rights for heterosexuals in order to coerce them into taking care of their offspring. Without the promise of gift registries and rehearsal dinners, it seems, many more newborns in New York would be found in trash cans.

...A perverse cruelty characterizes both [the New York and Washington state] decisions. The courts ruled, essentially, that making my child’s life less secure somehow makes the life of a child with straight parents more secure. Both courts found that making heterosexual couples stable requires keeping homosexual couples vulnerable. And the courts seemed to agree that heterosexuals can hardly be bothered to have children at all — or once they’ve had them, can hardly be bothered to care for them — unless marriage rights are reserved exclusively for heterosexuals. And the religious right accuses gays and lesbians of seeking “special rights.”

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yet as consumers young and old tire of being marketed to, the skull appears to offer a kind of antidote: the ultimate unbrand, one that belongs to no one. Curiously, then, what began as an outlaw anti-logo may as well be viewed as the death rattle of an underground aesthetic.

...or something.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

The screenwriter Don Payne, a writer on “The Simpsons” here earning his first big-screen credit, may not have had [Glenn] Close, much less the Sonic Youth frontwoman Kim Gordon, in mind when he wrote this film. But he might as well have since, unwittingly or not, it perfectly expresses what Ms. Gordon once called the “fear of a female planet.” In “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” G-Girl rockets around saving the day in skirts and high heels like some nitro-fueled Carrie Bradshaw, outshining her dweeb of a boyfriend at every turn. So of course he dumps her.

Okay, so a female superhero is only allowed in a movie if she a) it's clear from the title that she is only important as she relates to a guy and b) only uses her powers to exact revenge on said guy. These are the lessons apparently learned from movies like Aeon Flux and Elektra, which no one saw not because a female superhero can't carry a movie, but because they were bad movies. I'm so tired of this shit.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

some fictional gossip

When Betsy moved back to Brooklyn last month - which, by the way, was one of the best things to happen ever - I went over to her new place and hung out while she unpacked. Randomly among her books was My So-Called Life Goes On, which is exactly what it sounds like: not a mere novelization of the TV show, but a "novel based on the characters from the award-winning television series!" (Not a mash up of My So-Called Life and Life Goes Onthat might be worth reading.) I started reading it mostly by accident, and was about 80 pages in before I knew what was happening – though this says very little about its quality, there are about eight words on each line. So now I know what happened to Angela and Rayanne and Jordan et al the summer after the show ended, at least according to the limp prose and lame imagination of one Catherine Clark. The answer? Not much, but what there is, is stupid. For example, Brian Krakow loses his virginity to Rayanne's mom (yes, he really does), Ricki Vasquez is still in love with ambiguously gay boy Corey Helfrick (he of the rainbow-painted shoes, see episode #17), and, OMG, for about 5 minutes Sharon Cherski thinks she's pregnant.

Inspired by this delicious badness, I started to write about punk rock YA novels (loosely defined) for last month's Bookslut column, but various things got in the way and what I'd written was too craptastic to do anything with. I read a bunch of newer books for that column though, including Frank Portman's King Dork and Rockstar Superstar by Blake Nelson.* I was thinking about how so many of the books I really connect with are punk rock-ish coming of age stories, and how you might expect less traditional gender roles or breakdowns in these semi-subcultural settings. Oh well. Many of the books with boy protagonists are populated by blow job-happy teenage girls, while the boys are obsessive music nerds and care mostly about their bands. In books with girl protagonists, the girls are more likely to be angry and bad ass (see Rose of No Man's Land and Manstealing for Fat Girls), the boys mostly sensitive and dorky (see Thumbsucker, the movie). Both are outcasts, but of different kinds. Maybe the girls have more to prove. And it seems like these books with boy protagonists are loved by kids and "adults" of both genders, but the stories that follow a girl's high school travails are much less likely to be picked up by boys. I'm totally generalizing here, obviously...

I read Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir by Joe Meno (of the amazing Hairstyles of the Damned) a couple of weeks ago, and it was one of the best short story collections I've read. I have a copy of his upcoming book from Akashic, The Boy Detective Fails, which I'm trying to save for my vacation. But its hard - the title alone kills me. Right now I'm reading Adverbs by Daniel Handler, and it is beautiful, a book about Christian rock called Body Piercing Saved My Life by Andrew Beaujon and Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine. On the back burner are The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret and Joan Didion's The White Album. Next up are the anthologies This Is Not Chick Lit and A Fictional History of the United States With Huge Chunks Missing. Yes - this is what it looks like when I try to "reduce" the amount of books in my apartment. I did give my parents two boxes to stash in their attic so I'd have room on my shelves for incoming school books, but somehow others have already taken their place. It's truly a sickness.

**a lil Blake Nelson footnote: his first book was 1994's Girl. It was written in the rambling first-person style that makes teenage girls sound kinda dumb, but its descriptions of music and sex and groupie-dom rang too true for me to take it for granted. It was later turned into a predictably terrible movie, but I still love the book. Nelson's second book - Exile - was about a guy being a writer-in-residence at some college, doing a lot of coke and fucking his students. It was dumb. Apparently he wrote a third one, called User, also about boys and drugs. When I looked him up online for column background purposes, I found out that more recently he's written several YA books, a couple with titles like Prom Anonymous and The New Rules of High School (and obviously Rockstar Superstar, which was basically a boy-centric Girl, but flatter and much less interesting).

The Sassy magazine mix: Sebadoh "On Fire," PJ Harvey "C'mon Billy," Joan Jett "Bad Reputation," Liz Phair "6'1"," Buffalo Tom "Soda Jerk," The Lemonheads "The Outdoor Type," Teenage Fanclub "Your Love is the Place That I Come From," American Music Club "American Music," Matthew Sweet "Sick of Myself," Juliana Hatfield "Choose Drugs," The Breeders "Cannonball," Cibo Matto "Beef Jerky," Lucious Jackson "Angel," REM "Try Not to Breathe," Ben Lee "How to Survive a Broken Heart," Portishead "It's a Fire," Daniel Johnston "Come See Me Tonight."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I know I've said it before, but I'm addicted to the The Stranger's blog, and you should be too. The whole staff blogs, which means you get constant updates, ranging from news to travelogues to random rants and videos. Dan Savage is on there all the time, obviously, but the rest of the staff is also awesome. And the comments on each post are more interesting and entertaining than they are anywhere else.

I'm a little obsessed with Seattle.

But this is my favorite story of the week.

Things suck for women and culture now, at least according to Carlene Bauer at Salon, who uses Sleater-Kinney's break-up to reflect on what she sees as "the end of an era."

I've been listening to music and going to shows for more than half a lifetime now, watching indie rock devolve into backward-looking, fashion-damaged pop, while the culture grows ever more unwilling to admit feminism did anything but give women delusion, heartbreak and resentment. In this blue moment for indie rock fans and feminists alike, I need to pay my respects to three women whose noise never sounded like anyone else's and kept getting louder and larger the older they got....I need to be reminded that my peers and friends are living correctives to those who believe that it's useless to free yourself from the bonds of biology, history and society, and that you can indeed live a life according to principles that pundits with nannies want to make you believe are quaint unworkable utopian relics of the '60s and '70s. I need to watch three women issue a billowing cloud of noise and in doing so defiantly redefine what it means to be female and an adult.

I know what she means, but is it really as bad as all that? The first time I saw Le Tigre play live, I was really struck by this feeling that we were in a great and shining moment for awesome feminist punk, that things were really happening. There's maybe less of this now, even a few short years later. But that doesn't mean there's nothing. Just because the world is falling to pieces - which it is - doesn't mean there isn't still amazing stuff going on. It's too easy to be mopey and nostagic about riot grrrl. And let's not heap all the burden of keeping this golden ideal of momentum alive on Sleater-Kinney. Seriously. They are one band - a brilliant, amazing band, and probably my most favorite - but they are not the only kick ass feminist rock band. The best, maybe, but not the only.

And just when we need to wage war against the right wing, we're also losing a soundtrack to that fight. Which means that the '90s are officially over, and it might be a while before there's another comparable surge of challenging, exhilarating female voices. Exit Sleater-Kinney.

Come on. Our fight still has a soundtrack, too long and too good to burn a representative song from each band onto a CD. Does the end of Sleater-Kinney suck? Hell yes. Is it the end of the world? No. Not even necessarily the end of an era (though people manage to claim that about pretty much everything).