Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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Archive for the ‘Asides’ Category

What Is With Diana Athill?

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A search term that led someone to my blog yesterday.

What is with diana athill? did she have any friendships with women

I’m sorry, I just thought it was funny that someone seemed so passionately aggravated by the 94-year-old British editor and memoirist’s lack of female friends.

What is with it? I don’t know; I’ve read two of her books, Stet and Instead of a Letter, and haven’t noticed it (more pronouncedly, she had very few friends in general, just acquaintances and love affairs). I do think Athill had/has ADHD, and women with ADHD have more male friends, in my limited anecdotal experience. But maybe it’s just because Diana Athill is a badass who was too busy editing books (by Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Rhys and V.S. Naipaul, to name a few) and having love affairs. Geez.

(thank’s for asking, I guess)


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February 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm

In which I pretend like this blog is a diary

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So just as I was getting back in the swing of regularly posting here, my life kind of imploded. In a mostly-good way, I mean. In the manner of—

1. I am blogging on a daily basis now at Blisstree. Go. Subscribe. Read about food, and health, and sex and honey and hippie remedies and happiness.

2. I am project managing something at work called the “Fat to Fit” weight-loss challenge, which launched last week, and has provided me with ample anxiety attacks. Go. Sign up. Lose weight and learn how to cook carrots and stuff.

3. I am maid of honor in my little sis’ wedding, which is coming up in June. This means lots of going back and forth to and fro from Ohio. For showers and bachelorette parties and other bridal-y things that I am involved in planning and executing.

4. I am in love. With a boy who lives in a different state. This means lots of visits and pining. And making plans to spend the summer together. Here in Washington, D.C.

So between those four things, you see, I’m afraid I really have little time for anything else. There are posts I’ve written for here and elsewhere that I haven’t had time to post/send. There’s a symbiotic colony of bacterial yeast sitting atop my refrigerator that I haven’t had time to turn into kombucha yet. There’s a Living Social Pilates package I purchased, and I’ve yet to attend one class. My rosemary and thyme are dying, there are books I mean to read and magazines piling up, there’s sunshine I’ve been meaning to absorb, but… time!—well, you know. It gets away from you. It laughs in your face and all sorts of other really just not-nice things. One minute you’re on a train heading to California, then you’re in Chicago hanging out in the snow and shooting a documentary and throwing arabian nights parties with your best college friends and then it’s almost June and you’re turning 29 next week, and holy crap how did that happen? Or things like that…

Time. You know. I always want more of it, but at least the share of it I do have has been quite lovely as of late.

Written by ENB

May 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Asides, Memo

So Simple It’s Worth Repeating

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The right will succeed in reining in big government — a vital task! — only insofar as it’s able to provide alternatives to historic entitlements that succeed in making people secure enough that they don’t despair of relying on them alone, even during the economic downturns of tomorrow and decade after next.

From this great Atlantic article from Conor Friedersdorf on the history and myths of entitlement reform.


Written by ENB

May 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm

MV + Woodsist

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You are all aware how totally awesome* this is, right?

Matt Valentine What I Became LP

Matt Valentine – who’s usually putting out rambly, dreamy psych-folk ballads with his lady, Erica Elder, under the name MV & EE – is releasing a new solo LP this June on the Woodsist Records label. Woodsist is the label behind just about everything I want to listen to right now …Geez.

Preview songs up at Altered Zones and Stereogum.


* I say/write ‘awesome’ too much; need a new superlative. ‘Great’ just doesn’t cut it though, you know? And ‘rad’ sounds forced. ‘Fabulous’ is too theater-major, ‘lovely’ I reserve for a different kind of appreciation, I’m not from the right coast to use ‘wicked,’ ‘sweet’ reminds me too much of college stoner friends … Suggestions?

Written by ENB

May 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

Curio: Gender Myths Edition

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1. Timing, Meaning of ‘I Love You’ Differs by Gender … and it’s not us ladies getting all lovey first.

Men actually are more likely to utter those three loaded little words first, and men admit thinking about confessing love six weeks earlier than their female partners, according to an article to be published in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

This is obviously, however, only because men think it will help them get laid, the researchers conclude. Because, you know—what else?—ev-psych and stuff …

The researchers theorized that a pre-sex love confession may signal interest in advancing the relationship to include sexual activity — which is what men want, evolutionarily speaking, so as not to lose an opportunity to spread their genes. They want to “buy low,” as the article put it. Women, who have more to lose if they get pregnant, prefer a post-sex confession as a signal of long-term commitment. They prefer to “sell high.”

Despite birth control and egalitarian values in modern society, these primitive patterns persist in the subconscious, Ackerman said.

At least the researchers clearly have a sense of humor:

The researchers hope exposing the biological underpinnings of these behaviors can help people understand the hidden meanings and motivations behind professions of love, which are ripe for misinterpretation.

Which brings us to ..

2. Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine

… and this awesome, whiskey-fueled review of it from The Rejectionist:

Cordelia Fine is not just smarter than you, she is funny as shit. For every study John Gray drags around the playground, about Men and their Mars of warlike thrusting vs. the Planet Veeeeenus where ladies embrace their vacuums and emote gently across that moist and pinkly lit landscape, Cordelia Fine has thirty more studies that tell you what a bunch of shit that study is, also with jokes.

3. Betty White is totally down with men baking her cookies.

Written by ENB

May 5, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Curio: Photo Edition // USA, Pt. 2 // California, Chicago, Cincinnati, Covington, Columbus

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Today, Conor posted one of my photos on the Atlantic for his ‘What America Looks’ like series, which reminded me that I never got around to posting my second round of travel photos. Ahem. Well, here we are. And it’s even, unintentionally, alliterative. California. Chicago. Cincinnati. Covington, KY. And Columbus, OH. Drive-thru liquor & cigarettes, Covington, KY CVS, Venice Beach Isabel, Slake Magazine, Venice Beach You Are Loved by Creepy Children party, Echo Park Andersonville, Chicago // Indoor tent Hazardous Chemicals Chicago, Opening Day Liquor cabinet, Short North, Columbus, Ohio Bikes, Venice Beach, California Santa Monica, New Age Bible & Philosophy Center Bar Ladies Sharonville, Cincinnati, Ohio Wrigleyville

Written by ENB

April 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Curio: Photo Edition // USA, Pt. 1 // LA, CA & TX

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CurioPalm Trees, Santa Monica

'Read Up' Graffiti, New Orleans, Fauxbourg Marigny

Red VW Bug, New Orleans

Cocktail menu, Neighborhood Services Tavern, Dallas

New Orleans street

Dinner House M, Echo Park, Los Angeles

House in New OrleansHotel room, Parc St. Charles, New Orleans

Somewhere in Texas

Venice Beach Rocketbuster Boosts, El Paso, TexasVenice Beach

* Pardon the weird faux-thumbprints on these, please. I’m a geek and I love making photos look like polaroids, but the app I use insists on including these.

Written by ENB

March 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Curio: 2/11/11

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Everything this man posts, I want to be my life. Why am I not around this firepit? Why don’t I know this guy with the goggles? I own a buckskin hat, but why have I never placed a large feather in the side of it? Why don’t I own a VW Van? Or have a wolf tattoo? Why, my god, have I never visited the South?
[As a soundtrack while checking out Refueled’s blog, you may want to listen to the Woodsist ‘Welcome Home/Diggin’ the Universe’ LP, which I’m just first hearing this week. There are Cure and Grateful Dead covers! It’s amazing in that Chocolate Bobka ‘Sunday Morning Brunch’-y way. I’m also very much enjoying Woodsist’s newest, the White Fence ‘Is Growing Faith’ LP.]
There are, of course, times when this nearly becomes one’s life. These photos. I had a lot of moments like these this past August and September, ambling about California shooting a western and road-tripping with friends in and out of the goddamn cobras. I am telling you all of this about California mostly so I can link to a project just finished by my friend Jackie, documenting another goddamn cobras roadtrip, the summer before last (I was, somewhat regretfully, not on this trip, as I was between D.C. and Brooklyn that August with a month-long layover in Ohio),  when a group of these Brooklyn kids drove out to Boulder, Colorado, and back.

I’m in Chicago right now, where I spent last Friday night hanging out in a genuine igloo, so I’m a little bit daydreamy about the West again right now. Luckily I should be visiting California again soon …  And then, maybe, to find a home. Or a good VW van, at least …

Written by ENB

February 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm

New imprint from Melville House

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Indie publisher Melville House, who put out the wonderful ‘Art of the Novella’ series (I recommended Bonsai and Lucinella), has launched a new imprint, The Neversink Library. Neversink will publish “books from around the world that have been overlooked, underappreciated, looked askance at or foolishly ignored.” Its first collection, to be released this summer, features two books by one of my oh-so-favorite writers, Georges Simenon; off to a swell start if you ask me.

Offer your own suggestion for an out-of-print book Neversink should bring back here. And, for goddsake, read some Simenon. Although I’d start with one of his Inspector Maigret mysteries if I were you; might I suggest The Bar on the Seine?

Written by ENB

January 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Kale Recipe Recommendation

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Yesterday I made this kale, potato, tempeh and corn soup dreamed up by Craven Maven, and it was delicious. And super-easy to make. I forgot to buy vegetable broth at the store, so I used water instead, and it still turned out just fine.

Just thought I’d pass it on …

Written by ENB

January 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Asides, Food

Tagged with , , ,

‘Civilization is coming to an end…’

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Via CCK, this Canonball post, “The Art of Writing While Female,” in which the author compiles her favorite snippets of Paris Review interviews with female writers. Here’s my favorite:

Dorothy Parker,  1956

INTERVIEWER: What kind of work did you do at Vogue?

PARKER: I wrote captions. “This little pink dress will win you a beau,” that sort of thing. Funny, they were plain women working at Vogue, not chic. They were decent, nice women—the nicest women I ever met—but they had no business on such a magazine. They wore funny little bonnets and in the pages of their magazine they virginized the models from tough babes into exquisite little loves. Now the editors are what they should be: all chic and worldly; most of the models are out of the mind of a Bram Stoker, and as for the caption writers—my old job—they’re recommending mink covers at seventy-five dollars apiece for the wooden ends of golf clubs “—for the friend who has everything.” Civilization is coming to an end, you understand.

Written by ENB

January 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm


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Written by ENB

October 10, 2010 at 2:31 pm

For the cynics, the saviors and the self-absorbed

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The experience of reading these new volumes is akin to being taken into confidence by two writers who aren’t quite sure whether they like themselves very much, but are charmed and amused by the ways in which they don’t.

Interesting review of two new essay collections, Emily Gould’s And the Heart Says Whatever and Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number, from Boston Phoenix writer Sharon Steel. She suggests:

There’s only one thing more dangerous than being an ambitious, attractive twentysomething female stumbling through the publishing industry, attempting to secure quantifiable career success and, also, a fantastic boyfriend: the impulse to write about it. It’s understood yet unspoken that the publication of a memoir that generates some attention is likely to make a writer’s life, in a certain sense, unbearable; ultimately, though, her life will probably become worse in ways that are more interesting than it was before. Which is excellent fodder for a second book.

Um, writers … do you ever think maybe … and, shh!, look away if you’re not a writer, please, but … just occasionally, when you’re not busy being charmed by yourself or your friends or your political party or an exotic East Asian fishing village or something related to Marx, still— do you ever get the slightest suspicion that perhaps we, as a group, really are terrible people?

And yet!—… and yet, I suppose we have some qualities that redeem us. This, from Crawley, sounds commendable, and also (for creators of all kinds) like very sound advice:

I think of all the serious nonfiction about natural disasters or biographies of unsung artists being published. There’s a lot of 4 am why am I doing this again? That’s healthy in small doses. . . . Trust that you are not an asshole and you care about the big issues of the world. . . . and that if you’re lucky, you’ll actually get to them through the smaller ones.

“At this point in time, people’s real lives aren’t often trusted to be fascinating to others,” Steel editorializes. I think that is sometimes true & sometimes not. Regardless, I like Steels defense of the likes of Crosley and Gould, two current exemplars of this type who—no matter how you regard their literary merits or personal morals, individually—get a lot of projection heaped on them for representing this type so commendably. She concludes:

[…] if these two writers agree on anything, it’s this: it’s okay to be a woman who believes that she is the best subject matter for her work, and that her unreserved thoughts are interesting, valuable, strange, comical, and worth space on a shelf. It’s okay to be young and write as if you understand love and sadness, and to look back on stuff that just happened, instead of on properly faded memories. Because it leaves a reader free to try and see themselves, somewhere, in all that mess.

She has to go and end it on a rather corny note—”There’s something beautiful in being strong enough to say exactly what you wanted at the time, even if you’re led to believe no one is listening“—but I dig the drift.


Steel offers just about as good as any definition I’ve yet heard for Generation Y: … the one that hasn’t grown up cataloguing the glorious and terrible minutiae of their lives on the Internet, but has come into adulthood doing so.

Written by ENB

June 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Asides, The Best Things

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Curio: Earhart the Heartbreaker

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More amazingness from “Letters of Note” – a letter from Amelia Earhart to her fiancee, GP Putnam, on their wedding day in 1931:

On our life together I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any midaevil code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly. If we can be honest I think the difficulties which arise may best be avoided should you or I become interested deeply (or in passing) in anyone else.

Please let us not interfere with the others’ work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements.

I wikipedia’d it – Earhart and Putnam remained married until she disappeared six years later (no word on whether they stayed faithful).

Written by ENB

April 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

Posted in Asides, Curio

Tagged with ,

“Burroughs Has Gone Insane”

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Can’t help but love letters like this from Jack Kerouac, about his time visiting William S. Burroughs in Tangiers:

Dear Lucien & Cessa — Writing to you by candlelight from the mysterious Casbah — have a magnificent room overlooking the beach & the bay & the sea & can see Gibraltar — patio to sun on, room maid, $20 a month — feel great but Burroughs has gone insane e as, — he keeps saying he’s going to erupt into some unspeakable atrocity such as waving his dingdong at an Embassy part & such or slaughtering an Arab boy to see what his beautiful insides look like — Naturally I feel lonesome with this old familiar lunatic but lonesomer than ever with him as he’ll also mumble, or splurt, most of his conversation, in some kind of endless new British lord imitation, it all keeps pouring out of him in an absolutely brilliant horde of words & in fact his new book is best thing of its kind in the world (Genet, Celine, Miller, etc.) & we might call it WORD HOARD… More >>

Source: Columbia University’s new online exhibition, “Naked Lunch”: The First Fifty Years.

Written by ENB

March 25, 2010 at 10:21 am

Posted in Asides, The Best Things

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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For all those of you who are spending the holiday with those you love, even though you may not technically be “home” … Enjoy:

[cross-posted to my other blog, b/c everyone should see this lovely video]

Written by ENB

November 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

But I Draw the Line at Beaver-Fur Hats

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New York Times notes:

As with home design, where curio cases, taxidermy and other stylish clutter of the Victorian era have been taken up by young hipsters, many of today’s popular men’s styles have their roots in the late 19th century. There are the three-piece suits once favored by mustachioed Gilded Age bankers; the military greatcoats and boots of Union officers; and the henley undershirts, suspenders, plaid flannel shirts and stout drill trousers worn by plain, honest farmers.

This is just to say: I approve.

Written by ENB

November 12, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Asides, The Best Things

Tagged with ,

Loving You Is Easy …

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Phoebe tackles The Beautiful People, and why we find them so:

There are, I think, three kinds of beautiful. First is the subjective, the people you find physically attractive – to be clear, this is not about ‘good personalities’ or ‘stable incomes’ or what have you, but about looks. These people tend to fall within normal limits, but for all kinds of subjective and subconscious reasons, their looks strike you as exceptional. Next are those you realize would generally be recognized as beautiful – the symmetric, the chiseled, the blond-and-tanned, the George Clooneys, the Harrison Fords – who do nothing for you personally. You will nevertheless react to differently to the objectively beautiful because of the confidence this beauty inspires in them (in reality or in your imagination), but your changed behavior will not be due to any physical desire. Then, finally, are the hot-to-you-and-others. These are the people whose subjective beauty to you matches up with a beauty you recognize would be agreed-upon by all.

I’d add a fourth category—those that are subjectively beautiful to you, but in a way that can’t be separated from personality traits—but I pretty much agree. The question is: do relationships work best when one or the other kind of attraction is at work?

Written by ENB

October 24, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Asides, The Best Things

Tagged with ,

Malcolm Gladwell Impersonator Needed to Mingle and Coin Sociological Terms

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No STDs.

Picture 6

Seriously, what?

Written by ENB

August 28, 2009 at 9:53 am

Curio: Bloggers, Boogeymen and Business

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I’ve been on a really busy schedule of laying out in my backyard by my parent’s pool. Working from home. Visiting grandparents. Trying to read Proust (preliminary prognosis: not a fan). Exciting things like that. This gives me lots of time to Read The Internet, which one would think would be conducive to blogging—but every day, there is too much, too much!, of interest, and then I give up. Blog paralysis by abundance! And so, the necessity of the Dreaded Link List. Oh yes. Here goes:

Virginia blogger jailed for annoying the police.

• Conor in the Daily Beast on “boogeyman euthanasia counselors” and the downsides of “comprehensive” health care reform:

Is Social Security facing long-term insolvency problems? Is our immigration system broken? President George W. Bush responded to those widespread beliefs by advocating sweeping, “comprehensive” reforms that failed largely because they freaked out too many Americans. Even worse, the policy problems he failed to address still exist, but are unlikely to be readdressed for some time—among the many downsides to comprehensive reform is that its failure renders every facet of an issue politically radioactive.

[…] Congressional effort is best spent taking small, discrete steps to reform any system, even if incremental changes aren’t the stuff of presidential legacies or televised ceremonies where parchment is signed with a fancy pen.

Why not take the approach that works better—and that scares my grandmother less?

• Joanna Robinson started a business during the height of the recession, in an arena she had no experience in, without relying on any traditional advertising. And it’s worked. I profile her for Doublethink.

• Ben Adler at Next American City on (a subject that has recently become near and dear to my heart) leaving Washington, D.C. (he lasted a year and a half longer than me) and the awesomeness of the neighborhood where he lived, Mt. Pleasant:

D.C. is, compared to New York, even today, a wholly owned subsidiary of chain stores. CVS and Starbucks have outlets that are often separated by just a block from the next one. Lacking the strong history of foreign immigration that shaped other East Coast cities, the stores that defined my childhood are generally non-existent: the Korean greengrocer, the Arab newsstand, the Greek diner, the Italian pizzeria or bakery.

But not so in Mount Pleasant. Mount Pleasant is home to a large concentration of Latino immigrants, mainly from El Salvador. As a result it has the gold standard for urban ethnic business: the bodega. It’s such a neighborhood that it has micro-neighborhoods: a laundromat at the southern end of Mount Pleasant, and one at the northern end, a mere four blocks away. Same goes for the dry cleaners, liquor stores and take-out Chinese.

Also at NAC: “Newspapers aren’t that great at preventing corruption; they are good at transferring ideas between the government and the people, in developing a collective conscious and in creating a historical record of a city.”

Reburbia: A suburb re-design competition.

Written by ENB

August 12, 2009 at 11:28 am

Posted in Asides, Curio