Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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Archive for the ‘Curio’ Category

Curio: 10/18/2012 (Rambling Media Criticism + Amateur Porn Edition)

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Last week at Blisstree, I posted about how birth control is once again making headlines for making women choose the “wrong” men—which is one of those strange media narrative perversions that happens so often and goes so unremarked on in general that it makes me hate being a journalist [the number of things in the media climate that make me hate being a journalist grow and grow …].

Scientific American blogger Scicurious, a biomedical researcher, is also sketched out by the way media, in general, cover studies relating to birth control: “There seems almost to be glee in the way people spread it.” Though the post seems to mis-peg Jezebel blogger Margaret Hartmann as totally earnest), what Scicurious gets at (and I also find most unfortunate) is that this type of melodramatic coverage is either taken as right on face, or taken as so absurd that the research it’s based on is also taken as absurd. Any valid, potentially interesting parts of the research get obscured. While I’m more inclined to think of this as an institutionally-encouraged problem, rather than rampant stupidity or laziness on the part of individual journalists, I’m not sure—nor of the extent to which this kind of coverage is exasperated by the nature of web media. IN other words, I get terribly existentialist about blogging. (Also: How is there any meaningful difference between blogging and daily web news journalism?)

[Why are we such a mess, that’s what I’m trying to say here, folks. In so much of what I write about, I’m tempted to conclude: We are all Doomed. Other commentary often fails me, but We are all Doomed applies so nicely to so much of the health, food and political news I read.)

Well anyway: Here’s a really terribly funny and also ENTIRELY ABSURD television news segment and accompanying article about a couple who turn to amateur web porn to provide for their young daughter. This is what the cognitive dissonance required to cover this couple’s porn as somehow titillating and deviant while simultaneously trying to frame them as average, upright American parents ends up looking like, I guess:

Hair pulling, biting and ordering each other around are just some of the strangest things the couple said people have asked them to do during their live sessions. It’s all filmed in their bedroom while their daughter sleeps in a different part of the house.

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Written by Elizabeth

October 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Blogger Crushes, Redux

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A long, long time ago,  in blog years, anyway, I wrote a post about two bloggers I was newly in word-crush with: Phoebe Maltz (now Bovy) of What Would Phoebe Do (at the time one of my fellow bloggers on the ill-fated Culture 11’s regrettably-named “Ladyblog”) and Freddie deBoer, of L’Hote .

Considering I’m now living with Mr. deBoer, one of these turned out to be a little more relevant to my life than the other—but, damn if Ms. Maltz-Bovy doesn’t still continually impress me and makes me laugh to this day. Here’s Phoebe on why she took her husband’s name when she got married recently:

What feminism hasn’t meant, for me, is wheel-reinvention. In other words, I do not lose sleep over the fact that I do not defy gender norms in all areas. I recognize that it’s convenient to say the least to identify as the gender you were born. I don’t think that my relationship with my husband is something so complex and unique and snowflake-ish that the word “marriage” fails to describe it. I’m lucky that the kind of relationship I wanted is the one society wanted me to have. So the fact that wife-takes-husband’s-name is how it generally goes was not in and of itself a reason, for me, to be suspicious of it.

This nicely captures one of my favorite habitual Phoebe peeves: Progressive/feminist/hipster writers who go to all sorts of elaborate rhetorical lengths to justify their utterly normal but—gasp!—utterly bourgeois wants (see: the Jessica Grose paragraph here). You can also always count on Phoebe to cut through the bullshit on media panics, as in here, on some recent controversy about a 10-year-old Vogue fashion model:

Like I’ve said about these scandals before, the issue is not – no matter how many times Jezebel or whichever other site tells us it should be – Think of the Children. (Somehow I doubt that even in France, pedophiles are buying let alone created by French Vogue.) It’s always fundamentally Think of the Grown Women, who will never measure up if an ideal is defined as preadolescent.

Yes yes yes yes yes.

Written by Elizabeth

August 19, 2011 at 7:26 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 Elizabeth

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 Elizabeth

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 Elizabeth

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 Elizabeth

February 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Curio: 1/31/11

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I think you should …

Written by Elizabeth

January 31, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Curio, Music

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As much as any neo-Marxist economic geographer can be, that is

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Oooh! I think I just found the messiah/villain figure for the urban-theory-heavy dystopian society novella I’m writing (yeah, I realize how many things are terrible about that last sentence): a professor and urban theorist named David Harvey:

Harvey is having a bit of a moment in America, as much as any neo-Marxist economic geographer can. Earlier this month, his lucid explanation of the “econopocalyspe” (accompanied by animated whiteboard doodles) was a modest hit on Boing Boing. Richard Florida borrowed his concept of the “spatial fix”–the idea that capitalism gets bigger and badder every time it’s wriggles out of a crisis–for his latest book, The Great Reset. And Harvey’s own book-length explanation of the crisis, The Enigma of Capital is set to be published on these shores in September.
On Tuesday night in Manhattan, Harvey discussed “experimental geography” and the role cities and suburbia played in the crisis. Starting from the idea of a “geographic unconscious”–“the way we think of space and time as ‘natural’ when they’re really constructed,”–Harvey blamed suburbia for brainwashing Americans into being good capitalists.

Written by Elizabeth

July 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm

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 Elizabeth

April 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

Posted in Asides, Curio

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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 Elizabeth

August 12, 2009 at 11:28 am

Posted in Asides, Curio

Curio: Girls, Cakes, Bikes, Beards

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• Those Darlins released their first album yesterday! These girls are just so adorable you will want to drink lots of cheap beer with them somewhere stiflingly hot, where you are all wearing summer clothes & there are free pretzels on the table, and also to listen to their new album a whole lot (go on. give ’em a listen).

• My friend Katie made the most beautiful cake I have ever seen (in-progress pic above).

• I was searching for this New York Times article on women & biking that ran last week, but instead I found this:

• In case you are on the fence: 10 Very Good Reasons Why You Should Grow a Giant Beard

Written by Elizabeth

July 8, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Asides, Curio

Curio: vanity & redemption

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“It’s clear that, besides the occasional small or large check, most writers—ourselves included—write out of vanity and compulsion. One believes in being a writer more, it seems, than in writing. What is it, again, you once had to say? And who, supposedly, wanted to hear it? Still, Bolano-like, you can’t conceive any redemption for you and your friends except through the production of masterpieces. Masterpieces, however, are always unlikely, and redemption impossible.”—from ‘the intellectual situation,’ n+1, issue 7

Written by Elizabeth

January 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Asides, Curio

Curio: What I am obsessed with at this very moment—

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—aside from drinking red wine in my very-comfortable parlor-esque living room and manically posting things on the Internet when I really should at this moment be doing more productive things:

Helen Dewitt—whose yet-unpublished novel, Your Name Here, is excerpted in the old n+1 I am also obsessed with right now and from which reading you will learn at least six letters in Arabic and fall down an evil spiral/rabbit hole of meta

Alyosha Het—who may or may not be a kid I briefly studied playwriting with circa 2003, who disappeared, and who regardless if he is or isn’t posts totally awesome elliott-smith/kinks-esque music-videos-esque things on MySpace

Written by Elizabeth

November 23, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Asides, Curio

Curio: Fabulous Posts I Have No Comment On

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• Ann Friedman: We eat brownies shaped like “traditional marriage.”

Megan McArdle: But whatever your feeling about government intervention in the economy, or the correct level of income inequality, I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: for the world to get better, things that don’t work have to fail.

• Kerry Howley on libertarianism and feminism again: We don’t call it “consciousness raising” when we explain why you ought to be able to shoot up while selling your kidney to a sex worker, but that’s what it is.

Written by Elizabeth

November 14, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Asides, Curio