Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

Archive for the ‘Ephemera’ Category

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This is a personal blog I kept between January 2008 and early 2013. RIP.

For professional blogging I did during this period, see AARP.org and Blisstree.com. <><><> Visit my current home on the web here: http://elizabethnolanbrown.com/.

Cheers,

Liz

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Written by Elizabeth

July 16, 2013 at 12:08 am

Posted in Ephemera

More Mad Men wonkery

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Amanda M. on the latest episode of Mad Men:

The very thing that rescued the Midge interlude from being a “Forrest Gump” moment was that it not only genuinely rattled both Don and the audience, but it ended up having meaning.  As Heather at Salon noted, Don saw something in Midge’s situation that he also saw in himself, or at least in SCDP.  Midge didn’t care how much money that Don gave her, as long as it got her to the next fix and perhaps kept her from having to sell her body to strangers for a few days or so.  And so SCDP was willing to be with this new cigarette brand, which I’m assuming is Virginia Slims.  He saw desperation, and how deeply ugly it is.  And so he started to hand off those attachments that kept him desperate.

Somehow this whole analogy didn’t occur to me when I watched the show yesterday, but I think she’s spot on.

Not having watched the show’s first season, I have no particular attachments to Midge, but that scene in her apartment was creepy nonetheless. Though I really liked her outfit. And the fact that she described heroin as “like drinking 100 bottles of whiskey while having your tits licked.”  Do you think if I went as Midge for Halloween, anyone would know who I was (it’s between that and a disco bumble bee right now). And what am I supposed to watch after the Mad Men finale next week? Don’t you dare tell me Dexter

[P.S. That whole Land of Lakes girl business? I had that exact same conversation with friends when I was about Sally’s age, though we called it “The Slushie Dog theory.”]

Written by Elizabeth

October 13, 2010 at 10:06 am

Posted in Ephemera, Media

Tagged with , , ,

Why I haven’t been blogging

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This:

Also this, this, this, this, this and this:

____________________________

Photos courtesy of James Duque (sunset, 4, 5), Conor Friedersdorf (2), Charley Parden (3), and my now-dead first-gen iPhone.

Written by Elizabeth

September 22, 2010 at 11:07 am

Hipster Wizard Spotted Harassing Asian Girls at McKibben Rooftop Dance Party As Early As 2008

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I posted a photo of the ‘hipster wizard’ harassing an Asian girl before posting about the hipster wizard harassing Asian girls was cool

McKibben rooftop dance party circa 2008

I’m sorry; I just couldn’t resist.

Written by Elizabeth

July 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

Reputation Is Dead?

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Well, this could get interesting:

Next week a startup is launching that’s effectively Yelp for people … If someone has something good or bad to say about you, they’ll be able to do it anonymously and with very little potential legal or social fallout.

Are there really that many people, though, wanting to go on a random Web site and trash someone anonymously?*

[*Probably; I learned through several conversations with friends this weekend that I am hopelessly out of touch with what “most people,” including those in what I think Julian Sanchez called my “urban tribe,” think.]

But the author, Michael Arrington, seems to think this (the site specifically, or one like it, as well as the general culture/technology that’s brought us to this point) will ultimately be a good thing:

We’re going to be forced to adjust as a society. I firmly believe that we will simply become much more accepting of indiscretions over time. Employers just won’t care that ridiculous drunk college pictures pop up about you when they do a HR background search on you.

Anyone who rises quickly in a corporate environment will have people complaining about you all the way up, and it will be easily findable via search. Basically, if someone doesn’t like you, even just for a moment, they’ll have the chance to hit you with an ambiguous but damaging anonymous statement. And it will be vague enough to stop any lawyer dead in her tracks from trying to get it removed, or from even learning the identity of the person who left the comment.

So what will matter? Hard proof of being a bad person. Criminal records. Non-anonymous and clear statements of wrong doing that need to be addressed. Perhaps a picture of you actually committing a violent felony. That kind of thing.

But the nonsense we’re all worried about today? I just don’t think it will carry the same weight in a few years.

I think Arrington’s predictions are probably correct. But I don’t think it will have anything to do with a centralized, anonymous libel Web site.

Written by Elizabeth

April 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm

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 Ephemera, Sex/Love

Tagged with , ,

Desk Diary

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Spotted!: Currently scattered on my desk:  an Old Navy coupon; Brooklyn ‘Not for Tourists’ map; Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield; The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto by Mario Vargas Llosa; a Netflix dvd of “Once Upon a Time In the West;” several old issues of Poets & Writers magazine; a copy of the Communist Manifesto; a copy of The Report; notes on a western screenplay; 1 F. Scott Fitzgerald play, one novel and one book of correspondence; a Mises institute bookmark; an Olentangy John cd; mystery sunglasses.

Now let’s see yours …

Written by Elizabeth

March 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Ephemera

Tagged with , ,

The Internet is a Weird Place

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A few months ago, my friends made a tribute to this Brat Pack Mashup of Phoenix’s ‘Listomania’ that was posted on YouTube. Now, a group of Phillipino kids has made a tribute to their tribute, complete with footage from my friends’ video of the New York City skyline spliced in and re-creations of the Brooklyn kids’ mistakes (a hat falling off, one of the boys falling down).

Globalization at its strangest?

Written by Elizabeth

November 4, 2009 at 11:10 am

Bloggers & Boogeymen & Business, Etc.: Links

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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 Ephemera

I Think I Am Developing A Bike Fetish

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I love this Copenhagen blog, Cycle Chic, showcasing people looking good while riding bikes. Dresses, heels, suits … European bikers put the bikers in the U.S. to sartorial shame!

To do my small part, I have been riding to work in heels this week. It is really just as easy as riding in sneakers.

There’s also this blog on the same site, which features, amongst news & videos, gorgeous sans-people bike photography.

* Photo from Cycle Chic

Written by Elizabeth

July 10, 2009 at 11:04 am

Posted in City-Dwelling, Ephemera

Tagged with , ,

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:

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• 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 Ephemera, Food, Music

Tagged with ,

Mustard beer …

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PIC-0210… is delcious. Last weekend, I tried Belgian-beer Wostyntie, a “mustard ale,” and you should, too. It’s kind of like drinking a really awesome stadium pretzel.

Written by Elizabeth

July 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Ephemera, Food

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WaPo.com’s Nifty New Breaking News Treatment

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In lieu of a full article, just a top-of-the-page headline that drops down into a line or two of text on the same page: picture-3

picture-1

I don’t know, maybe it’s not new, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. I think it works well.

Written by Elizabeth

January 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

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 Ephemera, Media

Tagged with , , ,

Italians take categorizing flirting very seriously …

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From La Bella Lingua:

Flirting … translates into fare la civetta, or “make like an owl.” Only Italian distinguishes between a civettino, a precocious boy flattering a pretty woman; a civettone, a boorish lout doing the same; a civettina, an innocent coquette; and a civettuola, a brazen hussy. A giovanotto di prima barba (a boy who starts flirting even before growing a beard) may turn out to be a damerino (dandy), a zerbino (doormat), a zerbinetto (lady-killer) or a zerbinotto (a fop too old for such foolishness). If he becomes a cicisbeo, he joins a long line of Italian men who flagrantly courted married women.

Written by Elizabeth

January 14, 2009 at 1:05 am

Posted in Books, Ephemera

An Efficient Journalistic Machine …

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Via Tomorrow Museum, Momus on “a 1:1 ratio of experience to writing:”

Obviously I enjoy writing. If I’m not doing it for money, I’m doing it here for free. The kind of activities I’d be doing if I weren’t writing are also, in a sense, writing. I’d be making songs, books, performances which are really nothing more than writing in real time, or acting out bits of writing I’ve done beforehand. It’s not writing I’m getting sick of, but journalism.

Actually, it isn’t even journalism. I think it should be compulsory for aging rock stars to take up journalism, just to get them engaged with the world, keep them learning, wean them off drugs and booze, give them a bit of mental discipline. That or pottery. No, what I worry about is the ratio of experience to writing. It’s rapidly approaching one to one.

A 1:1 ratio of experience to writing means that you’ve become an efficient journalistic machine: nothing you do ever goes to waste. Every single thing you experience gets written about somewhere. It doesn’t have to be experience in the real world; it almost seems like I write, now, about every website I visit too.

I was going to add my own commentary here, but that’s just so perfect a description I’ll let it stand unmarred.

Written by Elizabeth

December 4, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Ephemera, Media

Tagged with , , ,

How old must we get before we stop worrying about ‘being pretentious?’

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‘Cause I’m not at that age yet, and apparently neither is Freddie:

I had this professor, a really great, friendly guy. In a class he was letting me sit in on as part of my credit, we were talking about negritude and dramatic self-presentation. We were discussing how, according to the proponents of negritude, living life with a sense of dramatic narrative and presenting yourself in that spirit could create a sense of purpose and dignity, particularly important for those facing racial discrimination. I asked my prof what, precisely, would prevent such behavior from becoming pretentious. He cocked his head and smiled a little bit, and said he didn’t think there was any difference– living with a sense of dramatic arc in one’s life was bound to be pretentious.

Let me say that I know that some of the elements of this blog are pretentious, even self-parodic; the French name taken from a classic short story, the Shakespeare quote, the earnest picture. At the risk of attempting to excuse through explanation, let me say that I’m aware of the silly-seeming seriousness of it all. I have two things to say in my defense. First, I think that it’s possible for something to be at once earnest and self-parodic. … My Shakespeare quote is in earnest, and that’s how I really feel. I also recognize that putting a quote from Titus Andronicus up on your weblog is very mockable.

Written by Elizabeth

November 24, 2008 at 9:13 am

Posted in Ephemera

Tagged with , ,

Little Helpers

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Seriously, who is handing out all this Adderall and Provigil? Every few months it seems some publication or other is running an in-depth expose on the “new” recreational/professional use of prescription “smart drugs.” Our intrepid reporters gloss over how exactly they or their subjects get a hold of these drugs: Black market? Laissez-faire doctors? Mail order from Mexico? These are the things inquiring minds want to know!

The latest, “Can a Pill Make You Smarter?,” is from December’s Marie Claire.

Smart Drugs, or more precisely, cognitive enhancers, include a variety of controlled substances, available — if you insist on being legal about it — only by prescription. They include stimulants such as dextroamphetamine (sold as Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By mimicking the brain neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, stimulants leave you utterly consumed with the task at hand until mission accomplished. Then you’re fired up to tackle something else, anything else, from organizing your sock drawer to grooming your cat. Smart Drugs also include a class known as eugeroics, meaning “good arousal” … The eugeroics modafinil and armodafinil (sold as Provigil and Nuvigil) treat narcolepsy and “excessive sleepiness” (ES) due to shift work and sleep apnea. But prescribed off-label, they’ve also been found effective for ES due to overbearing superiors, perfectionist tendencies, and not enough hours in the day.

After hearing from a lawyer who takes Focalin to manage 14- to 20-hour workdays, reporter Joanne Chen decides to try some “smart drugs” for herself. And guess what? She gets a lot of shit done!

Now in my younger years, I conducted—as Audrey Hepburn might say—“a comprehensive study of depravity,” which included no small amount of Adderall use. And I concur wholeheartedly with Chen’s description of the effects—it makes it easy to get done even the most mundane tasks, the ones you’ve been putting on your to-do list for weeks. What she doesn’t bring up is how much easier it also makes certain social situations. I can be quite shy (if you know me and think ha!, let’s just say I hide it well), and I’m absolutely horrid at the social nicety known as “small talk” (seriously, when I watch people do the small talk thing with ease I’m filled with confusion, jealousy and wonderment), but on Adderall, everything anyone says to you is fascinating!, and not only that, but you have the perfect reply, too. Office Christmas party? You’re a hit! Socializing with strangers? Done and done!

I know I’m beginning to sound like the alcoholics or potheads who insist they need a drink, or a joint, to take the edge off, but the beauty of cognitive enhancers is that it’s possible without any of the messy/embarrassing side effects—you remain lucid, coordinated, unchanged personality-wise, and sharp, and also devoid of the jitteriness or other weirdness that other stimulants (even caffeine) can bring. You are just … focused, be it on answering emails or writing a paper or cleaning your house or mingling at the office Christmas soiree.

Focused, and awake. It’s not as if you never need to sleep, you just need to sleep less. For those ‘there aren’t enough hours’ types, voila!

Of course, as a friend said the other day, “I really do need more hours in the day. Of course, what would I do with more hours? Probably just read more blogs.”

It’s funny, but, oh-so-sadly, also probably true. Keeping up with blog reading (and writing) is actually something that minorly stresses out me and a lot of people I know. That might sound silly at first blush, but it’s really just symptomatic of some of the many problems the Internet and self-publishing and the oft-maligned “24-hour-news-cycle” and all of that have created, isn’t it? There is so much that can be known, and there is no longer any excuse for not knowing it—it is all right there! There is so much to keep up with around the world, and there is no longer any excuse for not keeping up with it—it is all right there! There is so much to read, and you had better read it now, because by next week (or 3 hours from now) it will be passé. Even with music—earlier today, in saying that I was really enjoying Okkervil River’s album, “The Stand Ins,” I caught myself qualifying it with “I know I’m a big late to the game, but.” The album came out in September.

In Chen’s article—and every other I’ve read like it—the people using cognitive enhancement drugs aren’t doing it to tune in, turn on and drop out; they aren’t doing it to expand their consciousness, baby, or to escape, or even to have really awesome sex. They are doing it so they can get more done. Chen quotes a neurologist who asks, “Is this a dysfunctional way of living?”

Well, yes! Of course it is!

Now before you accuse me of having no historical perspective, I will state for the record that I realize people using productivity-enhancing drugs is not a new phenomenon. Benzedrine and mother’s little helpers and the cocaine 80s and all that. But I think there is something profoundly different about these cognitive enhancers, isn’t there? For one, they’re legal. And for another, they carry much less risk of addiction and side effects than their 1950s and 1960s counterparts. That’s not to say they’re harmless, but the risks are relatively minimal, and as Chen mentions in her article, a new class of cognitive enhancers already in the works contain even less downsides.

I’ve always been extremely ambivalent about the pathologizing and medicalizing of human nature. Phoebe sort of took up this question last week as it relates to Atzberger’s disease, and it was more or less a variation on the same discussion that has raged over ADD and depression for the past two decades or so, which is in itself just a variation on the age-old debate over how much variance we, as a society, allow in human behavior, temperament and relationships; how we decide on the outer-limits, beyond which it is not just unusual but unhealthy, sick, to be cured.

As it seems de rigueur to point out so as not to incur the wrath of those who take any discussion of the benefits of pharmaceutical cures as making light of this or that condition, I know there are many serious cases of serious conditions for which drugs are totally imperative, etc.

I also believe that in many, many cases the whole idea of medicating is silly; that it’s ill-advised that we’ve given up on human variance and ‘flaws’ so much. But if everyone else has given up on it, I don’t want to be left behind, the only poor sucker relying on my normal brain chemistry and energy levels and attention span.

So … I’d like to hear anyone’s thoughts on this. Do you think cognitive enhancing drugs will become more widely prescribed than they are now? Is there a not-too-distant future when we’re all going to be able to get this stuff as easily as aspirin? Or do you think there’s going to be a major governmental crackdown/backlash? Is more widespread use of these drugs something to be embraced, or feared? Are we getting too close to creating a weird society of super humans? And does anyone know a good doctor? 😉

Written by Elizabeth

November 23, 2008 at 9:54 pm

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 Ephemera

Tonight

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Going here:

To see them:

Very. Excited.

Written by Elizabeth

October 23, 2008 at 5:29 pm