The Top 5 Wednesday prompt this week is to list quintessential summer reads, not what I’m actually planning on reading over the next few months. Which is good, because I’ve covered the latter list already (check it out here).
To me, a quintessential summer read must be sexy, accessible, packed with vivid detail and easily transportable. It should make me feel proud and strong, though tragic glamour is always acceptable. Bonus if it has a certain sun-baked quality.
Summer is also a poetry time for me. Some Sandburg in a warm patch of sun. Add gin, tonic and Frank O’Hara to taste. Perfect summer day.
This is a TFW! For more info, please see below.
5. Generation X
Genderation X is polarizing book. People who hate it seem to really, really hate it. I get it though: the term “Generation X” was in the 90’s what “Millennials” is today. Frankly, I would not readily pick up a book called Mellennials, even if (especially if?) it offered engaging, scabs-and-all character-driven stories with strong infusions of fantasy and drunken, sun-blasted ferocity.
I guess some people felt similarly about Generation X.
But I love it. The characters feel real to me, ravenous and textured and familiar. Pompous, sure. I don’t think they always smell fantastic or anything (after all, they’re a bunch of twenty-somethings living loose in the California desert). But I recognize the blended flavors of squandered potential, mistrust of society and over-education.
Pairs well with coffee and cigarettes or rum and cokes.
I first read these two diaries on a cruise. They were the perfect counterpoint to fancy drinks, sitting by the pool and ogling beautiful men. Ned Rorem is a charming, intelligent gay man and his scattered writings about his life are glamorous, funny and poetic. The Paris Diary is my favorite of the two. Shock to no one, it is set in Europe and contains a smorgasbord of cosmopolitan cocktail parties, pleasure travel, shameless name-dropping and deep, searching thought about the place of the artist in society.
Rorem is a composer, among other talents. I haven’t listened to any of his music, but I understand the rhythm of his life, I think. His diaries make me feel that anything is possible and that the world is full of interesting and beautiful people. Plus, he was quite, quite handsome when he wrote these words. Beautiful men are like celebrities: you don’t have to know them to have opinions about them.
Pairs extremely well with fruity drinks, champagne and cigarillos (though I don’t recommend all three at the same time).
First published in 1956, there are now over 900,000 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” in print. Probably you’ve read this (maybe in high school English). But have you ever read it ragingly drunk? Have you “bared your brains to the heavens under the El”? Have you taken the poem downtown and read it while “angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo” park their bikes and pat their dogs around you?
For a poem that is over sixty years old, “Howl” still resonates deeply. The anger and the childlike naivete still touch me. And I hope that, at least once this summer, I get drunk enough to let loose a howl of my own. Sometimes you just gotta.
Pairs well with shots of anything.
When you buy this, be sure to pick out an old, beat-up copy. Don’t bring a shiny new edition of All the King’s Men to Barton Springs unless you’re willing to endure the quiet contempt of the louche, thin, hipster boys. Oooohh quelle domage. I couldn’t live.
I first read this masterpiece while working as a summer groundskeeper at a golf course in rural Arkansas. To this day, that is the worst job I’ve ever had. I’d get up at 4:00 AM five days a week and work in the summer sun for eight hours. I was surrounded by conservative men all day long. I had to take out my piercings. I accidentally knocked down part of the fence while refueling the tractor.
However, there were some definite silver linings. I got very tan and very muscular. I slept soundly each night and learned how to do some very butch things. And, since it was so hot, I spent my lunch hour every day reading All the King’s Men instead of eating. I can’t imagine a more appropriate book to read throughout a sweaty Arkansas summer than Robert Penn Warren’s masterful tale of the rise and fall of Willie Stark, a charismatic Louisiana politician who begins his career as a genuine representative of the people and ends it as a murderous and corrupt demagogue.
I’m not normally one for books about power, politics and corruption. I read the New York Times every week, okay? I get my fill. But this book is much more than that. It’s a love letter to the rural South, to Southern families and to the waved hot-weather mirages that spring up above concrete roads. The whole book is saturated with heat and grit and Southern perspective.
Pairs beautifully with an Old-Fashioned or some spiked sweet tea.
I’m certain I’m not the only person who finds himself returning to The Catcher in the Rye once summer rolls around. Most of the book is set in winter, of course, but there’s something about the youthful madness and honesty of Holden Caulfield that makes me want to reread this classic while lying in the grass. And you know what? Every time I reread it, I feel something new or laugh at something I’d missed before or find myself laying the book down to inspect how I feel about Holden’s (often ridiculous) opinions.
I didn’t like the novel when I read it as a teenager. But the older I get, the more that I find it rings true. The world we live in allows, even necessitates, a certain amount of “phoniness.” We all wear masks. We all disassemble from time to time. But when you’re sunning pleasantly buzzed somewhere, you don’t have to fake anything. Especially if you’re half-naked and alone for the moment, you can luxuriate in the fantasy that you are exactly the kind of person Holden would have liked: aware, honest and willing to let other people live unmolested around you. The real challenge, of course, is bringing that certainty off the lawn and into your adult dealings.
Pairs well with: self-reflection.
By the way:
T5W (Top 5 Wednesday) is a weekly book meme created by gingerreadslainey and hosted by Sam @ThoughtsOnTomes. You find out more about T5W and the weekly topics on the Goodreads group here.
Has anyone ever said that to you? Have you ever thought it about yourself? That thing you’re doing, the way you’re spending your time, that job you’re working, your hobbies and passion: that’s a waste of time. Well, first of all, fuck those people who might tell you that. Second of all- I’m here to reaffirm to you (and me, honestly):
NO. IT’S. NOT.
Spreadsheets, and budgets, and color schemes, and costumes, and games, and tasty treats, and rearranging furniture, and perfect playlists, and PUNS galore: I am a party planner. More often than not I get overzealous about gathering my friends together because I need everything to be perfect. Though I am accustomed to just ‘hanging out,’ I find the idea of having an event that is lackluster and un-themed heinous. It’s practically a waste of time if some sort of dress code isn’t required (See: Merry X-Messick Annual Ugly Sweater Party). So, for me, I’ve been writing this blog post mentally for the last 10 years. I am constantly thinking about the next party I’m gonna throw and crafting the perfect elements to bring the event together. So, naturally, your preferred literary darlings are an obvious pairing for thematic parties. The only question is, which Picasso do you borrow from to complete your very own masterpiece? Here are my top 5 Literary Event ideas that are on deck for the future. Continue reading
“These androids aren’t real people!”
Have you been languishing in a television desert since the finale of Westworld? Have you been talking to toasters and seducing hand blenders while pining over Dolores and William’s tragic doomed love? Are you frankly not 100% certain what happened during the Season Finale?
Westworld is like Jurassic Park plus Blade Runner plus The Magnificent Seven plus soft core porn. Listen to our newest episode all about the HBO series and join us in throwing shade and reading each character to the floor. We let you in on all the rumors about Season 2 (premiering early in 2018) and fan theories about virtually every aspect of the show. We’re deeply guilty of not talking about Isaac Asimov or the Three Laws of Robotics, but the episode does include:
**ALL SHADE, ALL SPOILERS**
- an in-depth discussion of Episode 10, “The Bicameral Mind”
- android anatomy
- the path from Michael’s Crichton’s screenplay to book to movie to TV show
- Westworld vs. Romanworld vs. Futureworld vs. Medievalworld vs. Samuraiworld?
- Why Hector and Armistice will grow up to be Death Eaters
- The magnificent glory that is Maeve
- Yul Brynner (and his bulge)
- having sex with robots vs. killing robots
- “Is that what you’re doing now? Practicing?” How humans are like robots
- Reddit’s oracular power
- why The Man in Black’s wife is afraid of him
- Which One?
- Second Opinions
- and more!
And if you want to know more:
Discover Westworld and make a reservation today,
read Westworld, published in 1974,
watch Yul Brynner in the original Westworld movie that premiered in 1973,
sip a lavender cappuccino at Apanas Coffee and Beer, and
listen to Up and Vanished for your daily dose of true crime.
Thanks for listening bbs!!
The world of tomorrow is here.
This is a T5W. More information below.
Top 5 works of literature that will be considered “classics” in 50 years.
Obviously skewed by my interests.
They’re what you might call legendary children.
Just give them time.
This series spans 14 books and a prequel novel. Publication began with the Eye of the World in January 1990 and concluded with A Memory of Light, published January 2013. Over almost 23 years, 4.5 million words paint epic fantasy on a massive scale. The story of tragic Rand Al’Thor, The Dragon Reborn, and the machinations of the continent (!) around him is an intricate tapestry. There are many richly characterized women, some of who may be queer (depends on how you define a “pillow friend”). All three protagonists are straight white men and there’s only one afterthought of a gay male character, but Jordan’s writing is otherwise sensitive and inquisitive. After the author’s death in September of 2007, the last three books were finished by Brandon Sanderson, who breathed new life into the works and finished The Wheel of Time according to Jordan’s copious notes.
This series is incredible and especially notable for its sheer bulk and scope. Reading them all is the fantasy version of reading War and Peace. Yes, it’s good. But it’s also a challenge and a test.
“Are you a real fantasy fan? Have you finished The Wheel of Time?”
It’ll be that kind of classic.
People whisper about it at parties. Stutter over espressos about it. Their knuckles tremble and flex about it. It’s a work within a work within a work; House of Leaves. It’s about a family and about a hermit and about a drug addict who’s also a man and about a stripper named Bunny. Supposedly. It’s about a house that moves and grows, elongates madly down the space between atoms, becomes a labyrinth that should not be, a thing that is and can’t be but is still cold, cold. And it seems like there’s something in it.
House of Leaves is already a cult classic. Danielewski’s innovative use of typography and the tools of writing (footnotes, appendices, spacing, text size) to further the theme of the plot leads to a unique, intoxicating experience. You have to bend the book to read it. You have to search long pages of technical writing to find one asterisk that relates to a footnote that explains how she felt about him. But the main text you’re skimming is also connected to how she feels, maybe triangulated between a scientific theory and a scientific analogy. That sort of thing. It’s a powerful, affecting read.
As in: I was afraid, genuinely afraid, of the dark for two months while I read this book. I was afraid of the dark as a kid, but that’s because I was afraid there was some thing (a monster, a shark, my older brother) in it. When I read House of Leaves, I was 21. And I became afraid of the dark because of the very fact of its darkness. I became afraid that the two feet of carpet at the bottom of the stairs had actually disappeared and, instead of traveling on toward my bedroom, I would fall and fall forever. I would be swallowed up by the dark.
House of Leaves is number four because it will remain a cult classic with the weirdos and the horror freaks and the cool kids, the hipsters and the mad.
Okay, I love this series. The characters still feel alive to me and I finished the last book years ago. But I should admit that this series included as a minor classic, important critically but perhaps not popularly. The Magicians is an important novel because it marks the taking back by an adult audience of childhood heroes. The Magicians is to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as The Batman movies (or even Deadpool) are to the Batman cartoons. They prove that fantasy and superhero stories are popular with adult audiences and that we’ll pay to see them, even if the kids can’t come. After all, about fifty years of us have been raised on them. These characters don’t have to be scrubbed quite so clean any longer. We’re too old to fully believe that. They need to be chaotic, realistic, irreverent, violent. Adult heroes.
The TV version is doing well, by the way. Season two is good but it’s no Game of Thrones. And now the show has moved completely away from the plot of the books, which may be a good or a bad thing. 50 years from now, The Magicians could well be read by graduate level literature classes as indicative of a cultural current, a blip on the American zeitgeist. For more info on this series, listen to Episode 1 of Beauty and the Bitch!
Please do yourself a favor by reading this book immediately. It’s incredible. Neil Gaiman has talked about how The Lord of the Rings begat the whole genre of fantasy. Before Tolkien published his masterwork, books that contained magic were just that – books with magic. It was only after his trilogy became a phenomenon that fantasy became a genre. Which was all well and good, until fantasy became enmeshed in the public eye with pulp novels, published frequently and with little regard for innovation and quality.
The Name of the Wind is a standout book because it’s not fantasy. It’s a novel with magic in it. And poetry, too. Well of course it’s technically fantasy. But I’m saying that it would be at home next to other coming-of-age classics like Rabbit, Run, Catcher in the Rye or David Edding’s The Belgariad. Patrick Rothfuss has an eye for detail and realism that makes even the most outlandish location or character come to life and feel real. There are deep currents and still waters, both.
Assuming that the third book…is published…eventually, and is well received, I believe The Kingkiller Chronicles will become classic fantasy, read in progression after Lord of the Rings and The Belgariad. They are the continuation by Rothfuss down a path toward completely humanizing heroes, showing their scabs and therefore peopling his scenes with emotionally accurate and heart-wrenching action.
1. East of Eden
This last one (in fact, my #1), is a surprise, I know. For one thing, East of Eden is already a classic. About 50,000 copies are sold each year. For another thing, you probably thought, based on the picks above, that I was going to limit myself to fantasy. Well. I don’t just read fantasy. I read books with magic. And East of Eden has magic, but in the vein of Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides: ancestral magic and forces hidden underneath the surface. Biblical allusions and families out of myth interweave to add a similar magic/cursed glow to the Salinas Valley.
But I’m not here about East of Eden’s classic status. That’s a given. What I’m arguing is that East of Eden should be read more often and be more well-known than any other Steinbeck work. But because, I’m sure, of worries about dark sexuality and the whole demonic murderess that is Cathy Ames, I never even heard about East of Eden in school. Grapes of Wrath? Obviously. I think we read that in sixth or seventh grade. And watched the movie, too. Of Mice and Men I read twice, once in ninth grade English and once in eleventh grade drama.
Both of those are good. Great. Powerful. But East of Eden is Steinbeck’s magnum opus. It’s much longer than Grapes of Wrath but a quicker read. And it’s more than deep enough to power sustained discussion. Of course, it’s not specifically about an important historical event like Grapes of Wrath. And it’s not teeny and readable like Of Mice and Men. But it would be amazing summer reading between eleventh and twelfth grades. Or immediately before college.
And once you read the book, it’s time for the movie. It’s time for Jaaaames Deaaaaan. Did you say legendary? Did you say important? Did you say jawline of a generation?
I think we should trust young people more. Expect more of them. They’re capable of reading Steinbeck’s best work. It’s not fair to keep them in the waiting room with his shorter and earlier works until they graduate.
I get to visit many fandoms. It’s a privilege. Some people get stuck in one genre or one place, one rut or obsession or mistake and end up working at their hometown grocery store. I’m not saying that’s a bad life. The most important thing is that you’re happy. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t be happy walking the same pavement every Tuesday for the rest of my life. I don’t know which lifestyle is better. I just know what I want: to go and see.
I grew up in fantasy fandoms, of course, and I still spend my weekends there. It’s a big country. Up near the northwest corner is my small cabin. It is surrounded by trees and near the water. The couches smell like smoke. I am somewhat established, too, at coffee shops in the theatre fandoms and in comics, in queer literature and in Greco-Roman classics (a small espresso shop full of armor and poetry). I have summered in various kinds of TV shows. But my favorite fandom, and the one in which I most passionately participate, belongs to Rupaul’s Drag Race. It’s my happy place.
I’ve been watching Drag Race since Season One, Episode 2 (“Girl Groups”, which ended with Tammi Brown’s first deeply absurd, completely deserved elimination). I was in the second semester of my junior year of college, studying daily for my qualifying examinations and directing a play. It was a weird and beautiful time. I was infatuated with no fewer than five men, had only performed in drag a dozen or so times, and was living in a tiny attic room in an early twentieth-century mansion called Anna Mann. I didn’t really have to shave yet. I was a baby.
I liked Rupaul at the time but didn’t worship her. And though I was familiar with some ball and pageant queens like Victoria Porkchop Parker, Pepper LaBeija, and Alyssa Edwards (and was, of course, obsessed with Divine), I considered myself a performance artist more than a queen. Or, perhaps more accurately, I considered myself a young and glamorous gay man who enjoyed being brave and flouting rules. For boys like me, who came of age in Arkansas in the early 2000’s, life could be lonely. I knew there were collections of queer people in the cities and along the coasts, but I wasn’t sure how to get to them. I knew I had too much style for any one gender, but I didn’t yet know how to express myself. I literally did not have the words. Drag Race changed everything. Which reminds me – someone should put this on a plaque:
Hey, hey, hey HEYYYY! Put cha lighter’s up! Ganja’s in the house, owwwwww! As you can tell from my accent I am from Dallas, Tex-ass! And it was not very easy growing up looking like this! Whether I was playing in my grandma’s clothes or putting on a show for my well-organized alphabetically-ordered beanie babies, I was guh guh guh GAY! OKKKK! But it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I discovered Marijuana. I mean I like to smoke. Y’all I am just flying as high as your receding hairline! OK!
Marijuana really does help me calm down.
So y’all, I went to Valencia where they film the TV show “Weeds!” Now, y’all, it’s very dry, it’s almost kinda like your vagoina! Can I get an amen?!? Now y’all, I am a treehugger, because if it ain’t green? HUH! I’m not interested! OKCURRRRRRRR!
This insane “comedy routine” by Laganja Estranja sounds like random Dada drivel. I love it. I guess it shouldn’t really be a surprise – drag queens tend to be well versed in absurdism and existential despair. Wait, wait, wait: read this next series of quotes (Laganja and Adore) in the voices of Didi and Gogo from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
I think I’m being me when I do things. (Vladimir listens, bent double.) And when I say things in a different voice I have never noticed that I’m not being myself. (Vladimir pulls a carrot out of his front pocket and begins to polish it.) That’s why I’m saying this is the first time that you all have brought this to me. (Vladimir takes a bite of the carrot, makes a face and spits it out.) Well. Go ahead and make that face. (Vladimir rummages in his pockets.) I am annoying. I am fake. (Vladimir pulls a turnip out of his pocket.) I’m not who I’m being. (Vladimir pulls a handful of stunted summer squash out of his pocket and exclaims happily.)
(hysterically). I’m pretending to be somebody I’m not! (Vladimir jumps and drops all of his summer squash.
(reproachfully). No, that’s what I did not want to make it. (Vladimir reaches across the summer squash for Estragon’s hand. Estragon jerks away and crosses to extreme right.)
Well how am I supposed to feel in this moment? Vladimir begins to pick up the summer squash.
(sadly.) I didn’t want to make it that everyone was attacking you.
(suddenly furious.) I feel very attacked! (He crosses to Vladimir, knocks the squash out of his hands and begins to stomp on them.)
Each contestant on Drag Race (over 100 so far) is a unique artist. Each puts her process on display throughout the season. Most noticeably evolve. Some are creative powerhouses who have overcome extreme personal challenges. And yes, some of them are tempermental, neurotic, shady or just straight up batshit crazy (I’m looking at you, PhiPhi). But because they’re all outsiders, all weird sensitive hurt little souls, they all have textured and interesting characters. Drag queens are absolutely made for reality television. If I don’t scream, snap and cry during an episode of Drag Race, I consider it to be sub-par. Frankly, I don’t hold any other television show to such a high bar.
So yes, Drag Race manages to be massively entertaining. It is also deeply real. It speaks to timely issues and the experience of an often maligned and abused community. Before drag queens were popular, you know, and beloved by roving bands of preteen girls, we were made invisible by even some of our queer siblings. Drag queens, gender nonconformists and transfolks have been essential in the fight for LGBTQ rights. But we are often relegated to the sidelines once all the hard work has been done for fear that we might offend or scare the heterosexual majority that decides if we get rights. This by far the most mainstream that drag queens have ever been. This is why I say Rupaul’s Drag Race is an important historical milestone. It symbolizes seats at the table of popular culture for weirdo gender nonconformists and it is a long time coming.
So is this the crest of the wave or the beginning of a dynasty? Either way, you’ll want to be able to bond with your queer granddaughter about it some day, I promise. Episode One of Season 9 of Rupaul’s Drag Race airs March 24 on VH1 (which will be much easier to find, I think, than LOGO). You can also buy the season on iTunes as long as you don’t mind not watching in real time (I think the episode airs the next day).
-Mic (aka Legs and Dairy)
I used to buy the New York Times every Sunday (and randomly throughout the week) when I stopped for coffee before work. When I moved to a different work location in late 2016, that habit fell away, mostly because I don’t pass by any coffee shops that sell the paper. But because of all this hubbub about fake news and because Trump keeps saying that the New York Times is “failing,” I decided to take out a Sunday subscription. This past Sunday, 2/19/17, was the first day I received the paper at my apartment and, though I have a lot of work to do, I could not resist diving into its heft and rustle.
Taking time to read the paper, especially paired with coffee and cigarettes, strikes me as a romantic act. It reminds me of my grandparents and of a time when the majority of people weren’t getting their daily updates from Facebook. It makes me think of wood smoke and leather and herringbone. And there’s something to be said for getting your news from professionals who make it their job to produce well-written and well-researched stories. There’s something to be said for the way it thumps down on my coffee table and for the way it unfurls its wings.
So, riding this wave of enthusiasm that I’m feeling for my new subscription, I thought I’d share with you ten facts that I learned from reading the International, National and Sports sections (yes, I even read the sports news). I still have a lot more to read, but at this point I’m just procrastinating. After all, this blog post is written. If you like this kind of post, by the way, let us know! Little known fact: this list of little known (to me) facts gets made regardless, in my journal, so it’s really very little trouble for me to type it up and send it out to you.
- In South Korea, which is technically still at war with North Korea, the conservative parties traditionally use Red-baiting as a vote-gathering tool. Recently, with the impeachment of conservative president Park Geun-hye, some of her supporters have begun decrying the “fake-news media,” whose coverage of her presidency partially led to her downfall.
It completely makes sense that fear of Communism would be a powerful force in South Korea but I guess I’ve never thought through the fact that it is a current and viable political tool there today. When I think of Red-baiting, I generally think of America in the 50s and of “The Crucible” and of villains like Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn, which all seems like it happened a very long time ago.
- Austerity measures in Greece have led to some individuals paying 70 percent of their gross income back to the government in taxes. Because of this, a very large black market has emerged (including for very mundane businesses like bakeries and hair salons). Anyone working on the black market, and therefore not forced to pay austerity taxes, can charge much less for comparable work. Which of course makes it much harder for companies and individuals following legitimate business paths to get business or pay their taxes.
Jesus – 70 percent of gross income? Austere, indeed.
- All NATO allies have promised to reach the goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. Only five countries do so now. Trump has backtracked a bit on NATO – he says that he’s “a fan” but “they’re not paying their bills.”
Look, I hesitate to agree with Trump on anything (I mean really…I almost didn’t include this fact, but I think that would be dishonest), but I will admit that, if everyone wants defense, everyone should pay their part. I’m used to reading about America paying the lion’s share of…pretty much everything, but I didn’t realize the discrepancy, even in NATO, was so large.
- Mexico City is quickly and horrifyingly sinking into the ancient clay lake beds upon which the city is built (the term for this is “subsidence”). Some parts of the city are sinking at a rate of 9 inches per year, leading to sudden deep cracks and sinkholes that can claim lives. Climate change is exacerbating and intensifying this process. The Pentagon considers climate change to be a “threat multiplier” – where rainfall declines, “the risk of a low-level conflict escalating to a full-scale civil war approximately doubles the following year.” Climate change in Mexico City will likely lead to drought alternating with floods and to deadly heat waves (many of the poorer residents do not have air conditioning). These tensions are intensified by the large-scale development that has covered much of the volcanic soil in the area (volcanic soil is water-permeable and therefore allows rainfall to drain back into underground aquifers…unless you cover it in concrete). 20 percent (or more, depending on your source) of the residents of Mexico City already cannot count on water running from their tap each day.
I’ve heard about the Aztecs building their ancient city on floating baskets in the middle of a lake. I did not realize that this foundation was still having such a profound effect upon the architecture and upon the people that live in Mexico City. The plight of single parents in the city not being able to work because they have to wait on the water trucks to arrive is heartbreaking. I think it’s especially notable that, though Mexico City is nowhere near a coast, climate change will likely have disastrous effects. Simply put: no one is untouched by the changes we’ve wrought on our world.
- This is the “first urban century” in human history – the first time more people live in cities than don’t.
I love this fact because it mirrors so closely my own experience. It also leads me to think about the efficacy of the Electoral College in an age in which the constantly shrinking minority of rural residents have such an outsized effect upon the future of our country.
- In Bali, babies are considered to be reincarnations of deceased relatives, still close to the sacred realm from which they came. Because of this, their little feet are not allowed to touch the dirt for the first 105 (or 210, in some communities) days of their life.
All I can think of is the movie Baby Genuises, with which most of my family was obsessed for almost a full year. If you want to hear an interesting story, have my mom tell you about the weird prescience and uncanny wisdom I possessed as a child – maybe babies know more than we think they do. Also, what happened to all my prescience and wisdom, damnit?
- The drought is pretty much over in California due to one of the wettest winters in decades, but the effects of the drought are still obvious – more than 100 million trees have died in California since 2010.
I have nothing to say about this except tears and “FARRRROOOOOO” (which is me calling the Ents to war).
- A new restaurant dedicated to Rue McClanahan and “The Golden Girls” has opened up in Washington Heights in New York. They serve a cheesecake in honor of each of the four girls, custom beers, entrees and coffee blends inspired by the characters. As much a museum as a restaurant, it’s also home to the pumps Blanche wore in the pilot episode, mannequins draped in her gowns, hundreds of pictures and, underneath a sidewalk plaque at the entrance, some of Rue McClanahan’s ashes.
This sounds so fabulous – RuPaul, a huge “Golden Girls” fan, will definitely be making an appearance, if he hasn’t already. If any of our readers have attended, please comment below and let us know how it was! I’m extremely jealous.
- Norma McCorvey, the ‘Roe’ in ‘Roe vs. Wade’ has died at 69 years of age. After being an outspoken pro-choice activist, she became a born-again Christian and, later, a Roman Catholic. She then became an outspoken pro-life activist.
Jeez. I had no idea she lived such a tumultuous life. The flip-flopping she exhibited about abortion is indicative of the deeply confusing existential questions connected to the issue. Though I’ll judge you for many things, I won’t judge your opinion about abortion (though, for the record, I am pro-choice and pro-family planning). I’ve known too many wonderful, intelligent, socially-liberal people who disagree with me.
- For North American trophy hunters, the most expensive animal to hunt is the bighorn sheep. In 2013, a permit in Montana sold for $480,000.
Huh – who knew? I think that trophy hunting is gross, by the way. But I would never have imagined that the most sought-after animal in North America is…a sheep?
Just as a last thought: consider subscribing to a news source that you trust. Support legitimate reporting if you can. Trump has declared a war on facts and on the liberal media, so if you enjoy…facts…or the liberal media, now is another time to make your voice heard through support of organizations you value. Keep in mind, too, that virtually every paper offers an online-only subscription if you’re worried about that ole paper waste!
Darling, how do you feel about kiwis? Not the people or the birds. The fruit. They’re on sale this week at my local grocery store. I like to eat them whole – the weirdo hairy peel is my favorite part.
What about watermelons? It’ll be hot again soon here in Texas – attacking a ruby watermelon on a hot day, feeling the juice run down my chin and seeing how far I can spit the smooth black seeds is an essential memory of my childhood.
Are you a fan of berries? Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries? Snozzberries? I always buy them for smoothies and then just eat them by themselves. Sometimes I pour them into a bowl first, but usually not.
I’m over the whole pumpkin craze, but then, it’s a while before autumn hits. I bet that, by September, I’ll be craving all things pumpkin again (except Pumpkin Spice Lattes – I’m not that girl). One of the only impressive dishes I can make is a bread pudding in a roasted pumpkin. It always gets an appreciative “ooooh” at dinner parties.
And I’ll bet you enjoy at least one of the following: cherries, plums, peaches, zucchini, cucumbers, apples or mangoes. And if you live anywhere where tacos and guacamole are on the menu, you would grieve the end of avocados.
Look, this is not a food blog. I’m not really a foodie. But imagine all the recipes that contain these foods. Imagine what you could not make without them. Since I work at a natural cosmetics company, I’m struck by how many cosmetic products would be significantly less plumping, less brightening and all-around less effective without the benefit of these enzyme and vitamin-rich ingredients.
All of these fruits and vegetables have one thing in common: their main pollinator is bees. Many foods depend to some extent on insect pollinators, but the above examples are all intrinsically dependent upon them. If bees go extinct, all of these beautiful foods, packed with nutrients and brimming with flavor, will disappear from our produce aisles. We’ll be back to bread and cheese, boo. Medieval.
On September 30, 2016, seven species of Hawaiian bees were added to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list. This is the first time ever that any kind of bee has been added to the list. This doesn’t mean that all bees are now endangered. But it is a significant moment for the world’s food supply, 75% of which depends at least partially on pollination to flourish (including cotton, chocolate and, oh Jesus, COFFEE).
It isn’t just in Hawaii that bees are under threat. In February of 2016, a U.N.-sponsored report that drew on almost 3,000 scientific papers concluded that about 40% of the world’s invertebrate pollinator species (including bees and butterflies) are facing extinction. It’s not only chefs and gourmands who should be worried. These crops are big, big business: between $235 billion and $577 billion annual global value.
As is usually the case, the slow extinction of pollinator species is a complex problem. They are affected by changes in land use and intensive agricultural practices (aka monoculture farming in giant corporate fields), invasive species, diseases and pests, climate change and pesticide use.
The most widely used class of insecticides in both the United States and the world is one called neonicotinoids or neonics. These neuro-active insecticides are chemically similar to nicotine and, though they cause little toxicity in birds and mammals, they have been under increasing scrutiny since the 1990s for the effects that they have on bees and butterflies. Even low amounts of contact may impact bees’ ability to remember routes to and from food sources (aka pollination trails).
Neonicotinoid use has been linked in a range of studies to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD). Though neonics can poison bees, giving them convulsions, they more often confuse the bees so badly that they simply never return to the hive. Instead, they are doomed to wander until they finally die alone on the grass, separated from their colony and unable to feed their queen’s larvae or do any of the necessary tasks intrinsic to a healthy hive. Simply put, the use of these insecticides is toxic to bees and leads to their death and to the death of the hive, which will in time lead to the decline and loss of many of our favorite foods, flowers and herbs.
So, what can you do to help? First, buy organic whenever possible. Look, I know organic food is more expensive and sometimes hard to find. But foods treated with pesticides (and very likely with neonics, since they’re the world’s most popular class of insecticide) have very real effects on our environment. Little decisions sometimes lead to big changes. Support the big change away from neonicotinoids whenever you can. Raise your voice with your money, which is a form of communication that corporations and politicians understand.
Second, support organizations that are urging the EPA to ban neonics. My personal favorite is Environment Texas (www.environmenttexas.org), but there are various charities working toward this goal. And they’ve secured some very real results: several states have already taken action to limit the use of neonics, including Maryland and Minnesota. In 2013, the European Union restricted neonicotinoid use and a few non-EU counties followed suit. Change is happening – it’s not too late to reverse course.
Last, do some research on your own. There’s a lot to learn here but it’s not necessary to understand the chemical structure of these pesticides or to read every single paper that’s been published on them. It can be as simple as a google search. NPR, Mother Jones, the BBC and various other respected news organizations have reported widely on this topic (which, by the way, are the sources I used for this blog entry). Even the Wikipedia page on neonics is a good place to begin.
Good luck, and god save the bees.
Then, that one time, where you walked hand in hand with your dear friend, all the way to the end of the plank. Shuffling along, with your ragged breaths, sleeplessness hanging off your every eyelash- you walked together. Trying to recount the hours spent and the stress accumulated over the last couple of months. To be true, it was a lot more than you had anticipated. Nevertheless, you hold tighter- knowing you are not alone- and you continue along. The plank seems never ending- as if the very notion that you would come to the end is outrageous. As you see it draw near, it somehow gets longer. You’re in a fun house. You are in a fun house and you will never get out. Somehow new obstacles pop up along the way. Wedges try to erupt between you and your friends, and your collective destination. Persistence. This is what you remember with every sigh that escapes your mouth. You think of Sauron and his ever present eyeball- bloodshot, and searching. Always looking for the one thing to bring relief to his quest; even he found some resolution. You will too. So. You carry on. Step by step, you carry on.
Then, all but suddenly, it’s here. You stare out at it. A lot more anticlimactic than you had imagined. It’s simply an email that says “your content has been published, look for it in the next 48 hours.” OH. That’s it? All of that effort and research and time and emotion and laughter and…..fear; that’s how it comes to fruition?
So. You take that deep breath, hold a little tighter, smile, and you leap. You leap right off the edge, into the unknown. What’s next? Who cares. Below are the ever rocky seas of criticism, comment, failure, effort, and the rest of the unknown- but who the fuck cares? You did it.
So proud to say, that as of today you can find our first two episodes online now! Please subscribe in your podcast apps- rate us – and continue to follow our journey!
So. Much. Love.