All the essays in this column (including the one you’re reading now) began, in my mind, as “book reviews.” Eventually, I came to think of them as “book-inspired essays.” In moments of honesty, though, I’ve called them “personal essays disguised as book reviews.” I view myself as a husband and father, a physician, and a writer, in that order; therefore, not surprisingly, these essays almost exclusively focus on my marriage, my children, my doctoring, and my struggles with the written word. I mean these essays as the highest compliment to the writers whose books inspired each piece. Again, borrowing from David Shields in defense of his own self-obsessed book reviews: “There’s always an implied love story between me and the writer – me loving the book, loving the writer.”
Do a deep conditioning keratin hair mask! Highlight your hair! Now lowlight your hair! No, don’t do that. Stop.
This 2016 re-edit comes from the following contributors (line by line): Michael M. Naydan, Chris Dorland, Nancy Kangas, Daniel Nester, Shane Kowalski, Nancy Kangas, Walter Robinson, Andrew Singer, Bogdan Suceavă, Matvei Yankelevich, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bomback, James Capozzi, Francis Waite, Erik Kennedy, Scott Navicky, Brianna Barnes, Andrew Bomback, Marcus Slease, Shane Kowalski, Morgan Leichter-Saxby, Jerry Saltz, Gilmore Tamny, Hobo Scumbag, Aaron Belz, Josh Lefkowitz, Nancy Kangas, Gilmore Tamny, Kevin Sampsell, Amy Fusselman, Sommer Browning, Brian Finke, Devin Kelly, Jerry Saltz, and Nate Logan. Thank you to all the contributors this year!!
Before that, my comedy had become increasingly feminist (I’ve been performing stand-up for about 7 years) – and I was beginning to try and see if I could center women and my POV as distinctly female by joking publicly about the types of things women laugh about when men aren’t around (Kill All Men, etc.). I found it very therapeutic. And also got to throw some of the sexist rhetoric we’re just supposed to swallow back in the faces of the men who told me I “didn’t have a sense of humor” just because I thought they were assholes.
I asked Scalise this question (over email) after finishing his book. He’d never heard the term “patient role” but championed the performance aspects of illness encounters. “Medical interactions are theater,” he wrote back. “They are, in so many cases, very rehearsed on the doctor’s side, but also on the patient’s side, too. The ‘medical crisis template’ is so widespread in popular culture as a genre, and has been for so long, that its influence on real life patient-hood is pretty deeply ingrained. In that sense, slipping into that ‘role’ of ‘Medical Patient’ can feel almost reflexive. The transfer of control to the hospital staff, the ‘strong face’ one is expected to put on, the opinions about the food, the long-form small talk with your patient ‘roommate’ – it can feel stagey or rote in the way that being a commercial airline passenger can, which is unsettling, because you’re typically at a hospital for a very vulnerable, intimate, and (to you) unique reason.” He followed up on that answer: “My instinct as a patient has always been to destabilize role expectations between my doctors and me – sometimes in good ways, sometimes in ways that definitely did not work at all – if only to try and get us to something a little more human.”
Matt Mullican’s two-part performance at The Kitchen this past Friday and Saturday, “That Person and That World,” was a powerhouse production in two major respects: its presentation of an alternate consciousness, i.e., the “he” who inhabits Mullican after hypnosis; and Mullican’s post-performance acknowledgment of how little this alternate consciousness is welcomed in the art (let alone “real”) world.
Fantasy. Dressing up. Toys. Sometimes, talking about play can sound a lot like talking about sex. Or rather, our adult vocabulary for sex is suffused by the language of childhood pleasures. People who have a lot of sex might be called players, while those who want more sex read "The Game."
There was so. much. crying.
I believe in unity; racism, sexism, religious differences, etc etc, those are all things used to divide us but if you take a step back and see that none of it is real, we're all just humans trying to survive, you'll start to feel this unity... I want people to know that we'll always be here for them, fighting for them and loving them and writing songs that they can scream with their friends to and if you ever come to our shows, we are your friends and so is that random person next to you.
But back to the mother’s astute observation: somewhere along the way we seem to have decided that to be a poet is to be a Poet, as in some sort of seer or like a wise prophet, someone who lives among us but is able to Feel Bigger or Live Better, and so I suppose in this case, at The Pulitzer Centennial Poetry Celebration, held on Thursday, October 27th, 2016, at Cooper Union in downtown Manhattan, a parade of eleven of the finest and best Livers and Feelers, if you believe all that, were being presented on a public stage before an audience, to be lauded and adored.
The truth is that I didn’t know what a damsel in distress looked like. I had to go out and find one. This is how committed I am to my fashion blog fans. I went to the park. I went to the grocery store. When two cars crashed at the intersection, I hurried over. But it was only a fender bender, and the women shook hands in the insurance exchange.
Someday I’ll purchase an interesting and cheap portion of land and probably live on it alone, I thought. I can’t say it’ll satisfy me because, pff, satisfaction is not in my future.
Even after his visit to Ivan the Ghostseer, Nicholas had more skepticism than any real belief in the legends and myths that so many shared with him (from scientists and scholars to street cleaners and check-out girls), though it was all in fun. There was a consistency in what they said with small variations, a kind of collective mass awareness of the subject. One incident shifted him a little closer toward belief – a visit to the Castle at Pidhirtsi with his friend Vira, his actress friend from the Zankovetsky Theater.
There’s a great flood happening so the prostitutes and drug dealers have come to seek shelter in the bookstore. Meanwhile as this is all going down it’s the last Tuesday night of the month, so we are reading. You can see all the employees running throughout strategically placing buckets on the carpet floor to catch the rain that’s coming in through the roof. They respect our time, our sharing. This is a safe place.
The biggest difference between this book and the original is my emphasis on stories. The original includes some stories, but that doesn’t seem to have been a requirement for contributors. For me, though, that was by far the most fascinating part of that book.
...in which Kendall had demanded that Man Repeller help her design the most perfect set of high heel clogs, a pair of shoes with wooden platform scaffolding designed to alleviate the discomfort of an elevated ankle, and make proper aesthetic use of faux wool and suede, but which was altogether offensive for Man Repeller’s brain to even think about, more offensive than having to leave New York to work from the Kardashian home in Calabasas, and which inspired Man Repeller to pissily challenge Kendall that if she could show her a clog, any clog in the entire motherfucking universe, that didn’t make everyone want to vomit, then she would give in and design this pair of clogs that Kendall wanted so much...
The separation of dance and theater- this is a life long irritant for me! In my personal and very subjective time line, the distrust in Western theater of dance all began post-18th c. Since then, we audience(s) have been increasingly subjected to mind-numbing, un-ironic, unambiguous “reality” on stage.
If you do it right and you do it long enough, eventually something tiny and great lands in one of your shitty, embarrassing drawings. It winks at you and says hey, remember me? And then you want to cry because you finally got your pieces back, but you don’t cry because now you can draw about it instead.
I can tell you that loafing in my studio is lots more fun than clocking into an office every day. Amy, you want a serious answer? It is interesting. Critics are the only honest people left in the art world, yet they're immersed in ontological doubt -- as my kid once said to me, "you get paid for looking at art?!" Artists labor under their own kind of contradiction, in that they embody creative freedom yet are all but required to produce the same kind of thing over and over.
For me all art is contemporary art. From Cave Painting to now; it's all in play everywhere at the same time. I think that our current teleological system of art history based on progress and art is mainly measured by formal moves "forward" via techniques, tools, etc. This system is already dead; it just doesn't know it.
The core of her book is less about tidying, in my view, than the power of imaginary play: to take an object, feel it, and then decide its fate, is to become the all-powerful parent who can disregard, or even “discard" a child—(for a newer model, perhaps)—or not. Kondo's brilliance is in creating a ritual in which the “parent” who has this terrible power—and mind you, this is every parent—is imbued, via her script, with only a loving consciousness.
According to book-collector lore, the publisher objected to the original author portrait that was used, saying it was “too erotic.”
I stand my ground. Even with just over a month to do in County, I can’t come off as a bitch. I know I might get pummeled but I don’t move. There are three of us newbies so I say, “Take someone else’s mat.”
All of the onions in the world suddenly come alive and have one thought – to kill the people of Earth. Whenever an onion cuts into a person though, the smell makes them cry.
Then Carolyn—Carolyn walked somehow she didn’t know how her head was still bursting and the lights above were going by overhead like white lines on a highway hung facing down above; my God the building is all upside down.
For a long time, people believed that the mysterious apparition may have been an escaped circus or zoo animal until, one evening, the blind old wife from the village of Evil Vale shared with the others what only she could see clearly: “It’s not about only one bear, there’s a lot of them. They haven’t accidentally drifted here, they are meant to bring life back to these mountains."
I applied lipstick, and took a step back to regard myself. I might never pass for one of Millicent’s set, but I had banished the wan, harried, dowdy Ramona forever. I took a solemn oath that morning that I have, in fact, kept: as long as I lived, whenever possible, I would have my clothes made in France.
On my feed recently, someone quoted @goftyler’s tweet – “The dog’s got a butt funk and he’s been shunned from the couch” – and commented, “most grotesque tweet I’ve seen in a long time….also a poem?” Yes, according to Lerner’s definition.
I think about my own modern dressing, about the overalls my mother gave me when I was the same age as the boy in the painting. The metal hook-and-closures were easy, accessible to my tiny hands and their limited fine motor skills. I handed them down to my brother, who is three years my junior. Much of what we wore couldn’t be categorized by gender. They were garments intended for transfer.
Being a woman in any industry is tough, especially one that is typically dominated by men, like comics. Last year the Angloueme Comics Festival in France made a list of 30 "lifetime achievement" cartoonists which didn't include a single woman. On the extreme end you have to worry if the male strangers who are super-involved in your social media are stalking you, on the low end you have to hear your work compared to that show "Girls."
Stuffed birds, small cat; Ramona waits for news of Millicent’s looming trial, Lucy (Helvstead housekeeper) comes to London, and the mystery of the body in the cellar and ignominious truth of the story behind it are revealed; illegal production of cheese; the mystery of the postcard writer is discussed and remain tantalizingly insoluble; Millicent and Ramona meet.
The furry trout is the scapegoat, the victim, the source of all mysterious disappearances in Panini Shop. If a six-months aged Manchego goes missing, if a prosciutto is misplaced, if a bottle of organic cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil discomfits, Julio tells Shanice it must have been the furry trout. It has magical powers, Shanice. Its fur can hypnotize you, Shanice. Stay away from the furry trout—cuidado señorita, el furry trout viene para comer te. And why do you think a girl wants to hear about a hairy fish? Lovely Shanice.
Humboldt was in awe of the city’s BIGness. No, its vastness. No, its peopleness. The city was a big, vast peoplefarm. Nooo, its pigeonness! The city was a big, vast pigeonfarm! New York City: the peoplepigeoncity. As Humboldt watched, the city transformed itself into a gigantic, concrete birdcage full of peoplepigeons. These strange creatures spent their days foraging for food and desirable reproductive qualities, while continually defecating on each other.
When my husband and I first reveal that we are booksellers, there are a few different responses that we may get. One of the most puzzling ones goes something like this: "It’s really too bad... "
Yet something has changed. I see love as the great leveller now.
I sleep well most nights because I’m worried most nights. Sometimes I worry about my marriage, sometimes I worry about my sickest patients, and sometimes I worry about the admittedly nebulous concept of “life.”
I'd known one other house that smelled like French vanilla coffee creamer. But this is the one that troubles me. Every house has a smell. But you can't smell your own house. You smell it, but it doesn't register. Garbage and roses and spoiled milk and curry and dirty diapers and bleach are smells in your house, but they aren't the house smell, which you don't know. If you think you know your house scent, you are mistaken.
It wasn't until the third of fourth day that I started to notice the change. No one told me that I was brave anymore. No one said I was bold. No one called me a whore, either, which was nice. In fact, no one really talked to me at all. People talked to Sam. They asked Sam where he was from and where he was going and then they smiled at me and made on their way. Now that I was traveling with a man everyone stopped making a fuss about me. It proved what I was only just beginning to grasp from my time on the road alone—a claimed woman was a safe woman.
“I’m lost,” I said. “I can’t even find the name of the road I’m on.”