30 May 2006

1 "so...um...like...yeah...it's too hot to think"

(a rather shoddily written musing on toplessness, red shirts, and identity)

this weekend it got hot. crazy hot. what, in mississippi, would be called "HAWT." (though still approximately 20 degress away from those july memphis days where it hurts to even go outside.) it's the tail end of may so this shouldn't be shocking. but somehow it was. coming, as it were, after three weeks of 50 degree rainy days, on one of which i actually wore a winter coat. yes, a winter coat. in may. obscene.

on the 13th, as we sat shivering beside her radiator, the Bombshell put it best (i collect quotes and this was recorded on a conveniently dated page of pillbox notes, so it's not nearly as creepy as it looks):
"we are almost six months into the year and we've been freezing the whole time. it's like weather by sybil. like someone didn't give someone the memo that it's may."
i think someone got the memo. my walk on saturday night was pleasantly warm. by sunday morning, when it came time for the 2 1/2 mile hike to church, it was what my paw-paw would call "hot as blazes." i checked the weather and wore as little as possible considering my final destination. still the heat was like a slap in the face.

the streets were unusually dirty and deserted. i passed glittery bonnie bell chapsticks, discarded half-empty bottles of beer, countless plastic bags, a bruised interpol cd, four individual shoes, six gloves, and a single sunny yellow sock. the vestiges of a hipster pompeii.

the hipsters were nowhere to be seen at 10 a.m. however, there was plenty to see. there was a topless man with the inevitable shirt thrown over his shoulder. how does that happen? was he leaving the house topless, and then just had the afterthought. of! better grab a shirt! or was he wearing a shirt, got too hot, and decided to doff it? what of the people with him? i was hyper-aware that he was one pantsing away from nakedness. can't imagine how it must have felt to be the fully-clothed woman next to him. to have to tactfullly remind him, oh honey, let's do take a shirt along just in case we decide not to stay on the street in the boiling sun all day long and want to go inside somewhere, in which case your near-nakedness will be unacceptable.

at Jenny Fair's going away party last weekend, someone brought up the topless driving phenomenon, which is a chicagoland trend widespread enough to warrant mention on the radio. our big question was: where do they put the shirt? in their lap? the passenger seat? do men go topless to work then sit in the parking lot and struggle into a suit and tie? and is it really that hot? a heat to which air conditioning is impervious. is toplessness really the answer?

for women, it isn't. and the options are considerably more limited. the equivalent of male toplessness would be the t-shirt, bikini bottom route or the ever-popular cowboy hat, handkerchief shirt and/or bikini top, shortie shorts look.

i, however, did not walk to church in either of these. i wore a normal red button-down shirt, jeans, the green shoes and walked normally down the road. maybe it was just the anomoly of my being fully dressed but apparently, if you wear a red shirt and walk down north lincoln, 3 out of every 4 men will gawk. this doesn't quite make sense, because the same outfit paraded around downtown last tuesday without gaining a glance. i've subsequently washed and worn it for the past three days- 25 is looking to be a very red year but not knowing that i only own 2 red shirts- without experiencing similar gawkage. mid-walk i thought maybe it was the cinnamon-roll bun i'd thrown my hair into that was so mesmerizing. but then women would be more inclined toward wonderment over that than men. thus, the red shirt theory stands.

i'm a bit judgemental, which is kind of inevitable when you're a connissuer of absurdity and human folly. and i can't help but think maybe this was my comeuppance. i judge what people i don't know wear. because it's hard not to see what they wear as a little piece of who they are. my personality, for instance, can be best summarized as green, striped and mismatched. layers are often involved. i am most myself in green and i'm not quite sure who i was in the red shirt and ginormous white sunglasses. so i can't help but wonder what message is being sent by the girl who ventures onto the street barefoot and in a bikini bottom? what is that supposed to convey about her inner monologue? i can't begin to fathom it.

but then i think back to the maph cruise. where i wore that red bra with that blue dress and nothing stayed in its right place, as all the pictures prove (this is one among the many sober Undergarment Incidents that suggests some underlying streaker tendencies and justifies my not being a drinker). that was entirely accidental, but everyone thought it was A Daring Statement. that my quirkiness extended to visible, contrasting undergarments. so perhaps the bikini bottoms and the shortie shorts shouldn't be judged. i can't explain the topless guys- they seem well aware of their offense and appear to revel in it- but i have to think on some level the bikini bottom girl just wants to wear something comfortable and gets home and thinks heavens! where did my pants go??? because sometimes a girl just forgets.

29 May 2006

6 25 + 1 (to grow on)

25) walk on
24) mysterious ways (meximofo ver.)
23) one tree hill
22) pride
21) hawkmoon 269
20) into the heart/an cat dubh
19) where the streets have no name
18) yahweh
17) lemon
16) so cruel
15) "40"
14) love and peace or else
13) mofo
12) running to stand still
11) in a little while
10) the wanderer
9) new year's day (War ver.)
8) gone
7) wake up, dead man
6) all i want is you
5) please
4) with or without you (R&H ver.)
3) first time
2) exit
1) bad
*** ultraviolet ***

postscript: if you're wondering "WHERE ON EARTH IS 'ONE'???" check the comments. here's a rather hard to hear but nonetheless good version of the verse mentioned. here's a rather incredibly melodramatic albeit easier to hear version. neither quite captures it, but you get the idea.

27 May 2006

4 the latest love of my life

p. kitty
because there's just something about a six fingered man.

p. kitty's hard at work on his novel, clothing line, and recording career, as well as juggling both a bombshell and a jezabel. and, of course, i'm already in love with vieve (not to mention jezzy, pickle, barry white toes, silky in the bowl, gaylord, and callie- i do get around). so this relationship really can't go anywhere. but look how cute we are...

(and how we have eerily same sized eyes.)

25 May 2006

0 missing the wawah

slightly overwhelmed by Pillbox death monolgoue research, i stumbled across this at The Bombshelter, where Miss B recounted a story so familiar- of a massive battle in a small town where four dead confederate generals were laid on the front porch of a plantation whose mistress buried the boys in the country's largest private military cemetery. in my dorktastic adolescence, i had told that story. the name mcgavock surfaced, establishing this was, in fact, from my dear franklin. evidently, that old house down the road with the blood-stained floorboards was once a national icon. turns out, it also makes for RIVETING fiction.

24 May 2006

4 chicago rocks!

REASON #9,411: people who dress like this and go to the warhol show.

exhibit a. the man in mesh: the figure on the left is wearing skinny jeans; white high heeled cowboy boots; a red shirt, a white tunic-length shirt, and a black mesh tank top. he is carrying a rather large brown leather bag with considerable fringe (most likely containing bowie 8 tracks and velvet goldmine on laserdisc). a matching brown leather lanyard firmly secures his chestnut brown mullet.

exhibit b. the man who might have been a woman: the figure on the right makes the emaciated figure on the left look almost hefty. he is wearing super-skinny jeans; black low heeled boots; a peach colored t-shirt topped with a black leather vest; and carrying a large black bag. his mullet is a flaming orangy red. there's a 32% chance he is a woman.

and so, from on high, andy- angel of all kitschy glam fabulousness- smiled down on them (and us as we skipped in their wake, awed) on this, the first warm sunny spring day in far too long.

22 May 2006

6 born in a bottle-rocket

at Jenny Fair's going away party, during an ill-timed room-wide hush, i unwittingly initiated a conversation based on a book that only i knew existed, that none of us had read, and about a band few people had ever heard. needless to say, that went nowhere. but hey- here's the book. just imagine the convo that could have been.

21 May 2006

2 "i'm not ready. i have no makeup on... but things are getting better!"

three nights ago, after much hoopla and an unprecedented "very very long wait" on netflix, Bombshell and i made some fry rye, kept the diet cokes coming, curled up on the red couch and prepared to be dazzled. at long last we saw grey gardens. and now we know:

this is the film they show in hell.

it's a "cult classic." apparently people in artsy circles laugh over and love this movie. in the special features, there's todd oldham beaming as he joyously recalls his first 15 viewings. but beneath the camp, lie extremes of familial desperation and devotion on a tragic, alarmingly intimate scale that nearly sapped our will to live. as the mayles brothers' cameras follow little edie's fishnet clad legs up the darkened, trash-filled stairwell- the cats scattering out of her way- it's hard not to remember but for a twist of fate, this could be your grandmother, your aunt, you.

it's bridget jones gone all kinds of wrong. which is taxing to watch. i don't exactly relish stark portraits of explicitly female eccentricity- most especially in documentaries. we're supposed to laugh and be charmed but it's not particularly charming or funny. feminine regret is even worse. it's fatal. everything you live through makes you you, as you are today. even the accidents, the bad choices, the teddys, the things you did as well as the things you didn't. everything. it falls together into you.

grey gardens is an unflinching hour and a half of two women trapped alone together in regret. obsessive, oppressive, life-long, inescapable regret. a dramedy unfolding within a decaying mansion drenched in cat pee. fun times.

big edie was once a gorgeous singer. now her voice is scratchy, her glassy blue eyes are dulled by cataracts and her clothes keep falling off (forcing us to repeatedly avert our eyes from a very generous bare old lady bosom). little edie wanted to be an actress, a dancer, a star. now she's little more than a zany caretaker. big edie says little edie made the choice to return to her, while little edie makes it clear she'd rather be anywhere else: "in here i'm just, you know, mother's little daughter." out there, who knows what she might have become.

just tacking up a picture, little edie concludes: "i've got the saddest life." it's supposed to be evidence of her cutting wit, but in light of her childish self-consciousness- the constant tugging on her headcovering and checking of her cleopatra make-up and primping of her painted-on eyebrows- it isn't funny. we're watching a thwarted actress (who was only preserved on film because she was the freak relative of a national icon) acting her heart out. yet, because she looks incredibly uncomfortable in the camera's glare, it doesn't seem like acting. it seems real. which is terribly sad.

but the edies love one another and despite her fierce anger, little edie admits that the woman who just told her "everything is perfectly disgusting on account of you," is actually "a lot of fun." she says, "i hope she doesn't die." we know she died less than a year later. we know that edie would live on for 26 years. alone. and even with music, art, dance and famous relatives, in little edie's words, "raccoons and cats become a little bit boring. i mean for too long a time."

so just for a glimmer of a moment, grey gardens kind of scared me. i thought: i have a cat! i could easily have 27! i think raccoons are cute! i wear florals with plaids! i'm single! i love my mum! am i doomed? i know i'm not. but the next morning, just after stepping out of the shower and donning pink leopard-print houseshoes, a red kimono, and wrapping my hair in a lime green towel, a telemarketer called. he cheerily inquired, "ma'am, may i please speak with the male head of the household?" alarmed by this saturday morning singleton discrimination, i indignantly replied- a little too loudly and in an unexpectedly spitfire tone- "i'm the only head in this household!" and promptly hung up. i stood there, a staunch woman in a revolutionary outfit, laughing. vieve smiled. in the end, it's probably worth the very very long wait.

19 May 2006

18 May 2006

4 the lessons (TNOWCBRATT)

the lessons (the nature of which cannot be revealed at this time and yet, if you can read context clues was just revealed) have come to an end. and a big shout-out to Little Guy Who Takes Even Littler Steps. yes, he was little and his steps were even littler and there was that unfortunate lunge remark some weeks ago. but after dancing with the Instructor (who did the gayest thing ever and made us feel dull), Comfortable Guy (whose head fell most unfortunately at bosom level and whose constant inquires after our comfort made us decidedly uncomfortable), Black T-shirt Guy (who backed us into that damn wall every single time), Overly Critical Guy (who ignored the instructor and moved to his own beats, only to then criticize our inability to follow), Tall Guy (who, let's face it, was just never meant to dance), and Sex Faces Guy (whose unrelenting eye contact made us feel dirty and cheap)- bruised, wearied, and with wounded pride, we hobbled back to Little Guy Who Takes Even Littler Steps. he took us confidently in his rough, little hands, led us clear of all walls and took his little steps in time with the instructor while keeping a stoic, friendly face. "you are so good! you can dance!" he said. "you must have taken dance lessons! so talented! so lovely!" he said. and though he missed the final lesson, forcing us again back into the clammy hands of Tall Guy/Comfortable Guy/Sex Faces Guy, his praises echoed in our minds as we made our feet go one, two, three, four, we're so lovely, one, two, three, four. so to Little Guy Who Takes Even Littler Steps, who will admitedly never read this and who we'll probably never see again: bless you. we were awkward, criticized, run-down, sore-footed girls. you made us feel like dancing queens.

17 May 2006

3 uh... porn

really had no intention of writing about this, but since my parents are out of the country and (fingers crossed) not pining away for me and therefore checking my blog on a daily basis- now would be most propitious. last week (ironically on the same day as that "uh..." guy invaded the pillboxing), one of the magazine's photographers "accidentally" emailed me an article of pornography. at the time i was at the bakery, innocently eating a glorious 75 cent pretzel and savoring the unfolding "uh..." guy drama, so this was brought to my attention by a most uncomfortable voicemail (ironically, also dominated by uhness): "uh... caroline... xxxxx xxxxx here... i just accidentally sent you an email... uh... titled "a treat for you"... uh ... DON'T OPEN IT... uh... it was meant for a buddy of mine. it's... uh... this running joke we have... IT WAS JUST A JOKE... and i about DIED when i realized it went to you... UH... so... please... DON'T OPEN IT." that message alone was enough to indicate that porn was sitting in my email. this fact was only reenforced by the three other eerily similar voicemails and two post-porn emails received while we were at croft's birthday dinner. despite my breezy "it was unopened and deleted. no worries" friday morning email, there were an additional three "DON'T OPEN a treat for you"-related missives and two voicemails before 8 a.m. the following morning. though i'm up and working at 7 a.m., really have no desire for human contact and it's entirely too early to talk porn. but alas, because xxxxx xxxxx was rather obsessive in the phone calling, he eventually tracked me down and at 8.17 a.m. on a friday morning, we had an "i didn't look at the porn you accidentally sent and i'm going to try not to judge you for that even though you've always been a creepy little man and you wore that horrid mismatched floral thing the last time i saw you but i know the fact that you covered an event at my parents' church a month ago is probably torturing you so i'll be all smooth and continental about it" convo. his sigh of relief was deafening. the boss' laughter made it entirely worthwhile. of course, now everything we do is prefaced with "this is not porn." a treat for me indeed.

16 May 2006

5 That Party

an ESLA envoy went to That Party this weekend. if you spent any time in college or remotely near a college campus, you know That Party. think 150 people, hipster music, and red plastic cups. sound familiar? in college, i never realized That Party went on outside rural mississippi or that we would be going to That Party for the rest of our lives. evidently, we will- just not in trailers. though it was like all the others, That Party, ver. 5/13/06, might have been a bit of a turning point. for the first time i went into That Party with the awareness that most parties are That Party. the variations are limited, excepting halloween (That Party + costumery), cocktail parties (That Party + wine glasses) and birthday parties (That Party - 135 people + presents). and at long last i have fully embraced the fact that i will spend the entire night talking to one person on a couch covered in afghans. that's just how i party.

this That Party was wall-to-wall 21-year-old art and math majors who had just graduated and spent the night clutching cans of PBR while songs from 2003 played in the background, eliciting the wistful: remember when they played this at prom? as i sat on the couch looking at these effeminately beautiful boys, with their identical muffin-top hairdos and brandon boyd earrings, i couldn't help but wonder: are we getting a little old for That Party? after all, they didn't play electric six at my high school prom. but then the after-That Party comes along to redeem any of That Party's shortcomings. the highlight of this evening, the crucial difference between this That Party and the 12,004 others, was that at 2 a.m., we- who had to pee very badly- waited half an hour for a train on the wrong platform only to find ourselves running- one of us drunk and shouting into a cell phone, the other bogged down by a leopard print coat and caffinated to the brink- in heels to catch a subway car full of sleeping homeless people going in a direction we weren't entirely sure was the right one. we sang the books of the bible all the way home.

14 May 2006

4 the adventures of deafOline

“A deaf person is always more or less a tax upon the
kindness and forbearance of friends.”
— Hawksley Catalogue of Otacoustical Instruments, 1895

i'm going to go out on a limb here and admit that i probably haven't heard about 50% of what you* have said. so all apologies if ever there was a moment where you looked deep into my eyes with wonder as i responded in an entirely out-of-character, shockingly, sexily unexpected way- perhaps supporting your stance on communism or the fig eater or julia roberts with a girlish giggle or a vigorous nod of the head followed by an exclamation of "oh yeah! I KNOW!" i didn't exactly know. that was just my wry, hipster way of avoiding the question of grandmothers the world over: "honey, could you repeat that?"

the "i am a deafo" epiphany is a vivid memory. it was this sweltering memphis summer morning around the age of 6. mr. rogers was on in the background, my babysitter was scrambling eggs in the kitchen, and the collie of my childhood was rubbing against my bare legs. i was twisting the phone cord in my fingers and shouting at my grandfather over the line. i couldn't hear anything he said. he suggested switching ears. i did, and that other one- the right, the so-called "bad" ear- has been pretty much useless ever since.

we're a family with dysfunctional ears so this didn't come as an incredible shock. there were a bazillion ear infections, tubes were put in, tubes were taken out. one left a hole in my ear drum that would be patched up repeatedly, leaving a mess that prompts a sharp intake of breath in every doctor who has peered in ever after. in hushed tones they delicately inquire, "have you ever had an ear infection?" i always wonder if they've actually been to medical school.

school mandated hearing tests created similar awkwardness. i was the one kid who always failed. a concerned nurse with a furrowed brow and dusty white sneakers would usher me into a brightly lit room with wall-to-wall reading rainbow posters and break the news (always in the most booming of tones) that i couldn't hear. my lack of shock, no doubt, unnerved them.

for the sake of complete confession, there was occasional cheating on the very many audiology exams i took. particularly as i got older and particularly after surgery, when my family and the doctor would be so hopeful and excited and the nurses would lead me into the sound-proof booth with enthusiastic smiles. after all the hoopla, a poor performance just seemed like ingratitude. and there was a naive part of me that figured my cochlea just had low self-esteem. that a good showing would provide it with a much-needed jump-start.

so i cheated, casually observing the nurse's movements out of the corner of my eye and, based on that, pressing the button at appropriate intervals. there were entire ranges of tones i couldn't hear so this was by no means a fool-proof method and it never did lead to phantom full recoveries. but there was the occasional encouraging 3% increase that kept us all hanging in there. sometimes 3% seems miraculous.

the problems created by hearing loss are similar to the problems that arise from going by one's middle name. my mother tried to withhold my first name from the school system but they tracked her down and made her fess up. still, i didn't know i was "faith" until first grade, when my name was called over the intercom and the teacher said, "caroline, that's you." it so was not me. my official name would morph throughout my academic career, in an effort to eliminate the embarrassment of having a name that wasn't mine and having to speak up on the first day of every class and admit that. even in graduate school i was faith "caroline"- which made it seem artificial, as though i were a faith trying to pass as a caroline and doing a not very convincing job. as a deafo, you try to pass as someone who can hear what's going on. it's a tough act.

the goal is to blend in. but much as my mum's "f. caroline" request created bureacratic drama, so too did her dear discreet "caroline has a hard time hearing but please don't treat her differently" notes. though i needed to be at the front of the class with all the blind and smart kids, it was mortifying nonetheless. the supreme example being miss higgins, my 5th grade mathematics teacher, who interpreted the "caroline has a hard time hearing" note as "caroline is stone deaf and can only read lips." thus, my hatred of math was born after a year of unsettlingly intense eye contact and pointed, deafening repetition: "CARE-OOOO-LIIIIINE, WEEE ARE ON PAAAAGE TOOOO.....HUUUUN..DRED....AAAAND....THIRTEEEEE....TOOOO... DOOOOING LOOOONG DEEE-VISIOOON." there was nothing to do but turn to page 232 and laugh.

growing up, i learned ways to hide the deafo stuff: always walking/sitting to the right of people so they get the "good ear," avoiding games of "telephone" or whispering of any kind (it requires a tricky turn of the head that could easily result in an accidental kiss on the lips situation), perfecting interested facial expressions in loud environments, and nodding like i really meant it. deafoness is something that can be hidden from general acquaintances though i know, at times, i appear fantastically vapid as a result. but it's so temptingly easy to slide into conversations on the strength of a sentence's last three words and never have a clue what is being discussed. much easier than stopping the conversation, asking what was said, running the risk of missing it again and then being forced to actively participate because you thrust yourself into the conversation by asking in the first place.

my mum has always believed that my quietness and deafoness are inextricably linked. i'm the queen of one-on-one, and admittedly rather inept in groups. but still i've never known why people struggle to hear me because the truth is, i'm crazy loud in my head. perhaps the noise is insulated and bottled up so it's amplified. she wants me to try some sort of auditory assistance device (a fancy name for a plain old hearing aid). but after a childhood spent making fun of belltone commercials, i just can't quite do it. part of the problem is a fear of how truly loud the real world must be. i've had glimpses- the queens of the stone age concert, for one. i have enough irrational fears- birds, electrocution, etc. to add loud noises to the list just seems masochistic.

but despite the inconveniences of deafodom (chief among them, never being able to distinguish from what direction a sound is coming), it is comforting in a way. if you wear contacts or glasses and aren't completely blind, you have an idea of what i mean. without contacts, the world is a little scary but it's also softer, slower and everybody has perfect skin. bad hearing is like that in a way. it's not like i can't hear the wind or raindrops or my creaky floorboards. i can. it's more like my little everyday world has a pillow over its head. i live in mono sound. and it becomes easier to shut things out but also to feel more deeply the things you do let in.

yet, there are little moments when i hear what i'm missing. for months, i couldn't understand why miss vieve never purred. she would sleep in the sun, roll all over the bed, play with my hair, walk over my work and generally look like the happiest cat that ever lived. but she never purred and, because i'm a silly girl who's madly in love with my cat, that made me kind of sad. then the other day, when it was very quiet and she was napping in my lap, i leaned down to kiss her silly, clammy head. she was purring up a storm. she had been all along.

*PLEASE NOTE: you (yes, YOU) may ONLY reference this post in the most-lighthearted, mocking, "ha! ha! you can't hear!"/"belltonesoline!" way. any earnest blubbering of "you're so brave!," teasing of "can you hear me over here?" serious "oline you don't have to be a deafo" convos, sudden volume escalations, insinuations of lipreading, miracle ear interventions or anything vaguely of the sort will result in immediate banishment from movie night and termination of all witty oline correspondence. marlee matlin is not my hero. i didn't cry when the hearing impaired miss america won. i didn't consider that a triumph for "my people." i do not belong in the church's deaf congregation. and i will claw you if you suggest otherwise!

12 May 2006

1 uh...

the bombshell oh so succinctly captures the full jankness of what went down at ELSA h.q. yesterday afternoon. uh indeed.

11 May 2006

1 toe-sock solves it all

(for those of ya'll who wear fanny packs and don't read comments, here's an answer to the 1.800.3611 questions that more or less sums up why no one can be more like doug than... well... um... doug.)

1. Charlene(R) is a 1980's laundry detergent. The product was recalled in late 1987 by what its parent corporation GloboTek called "product inefficiency" and by what the purchasers of said product described as "horrible rashes."

2. Are YOU a bottle of laundry detergent? Were YOU recalled in late 1987? Silly CarO, No, you are not Charlene(R).

3. Yes and No. And by that I mean maybe. Confused yet? We're only getting started...

4. Perhaps. They may include: Am I entitled to a portion of the settlement of American Consumers v. Charlene(R)?

5. Normal people have their curiosity mildly piqued when mistaken for laundry detergent, so I wouldn't sweat it.

6. The best kind there is!

7. Not necessarily. Have you tried calling it? Have you then tried decoding the "I'm sorry but the number you have dialed [ ] is not a valid number. Please hang up and try again" for any hidden messages?

8. No, she has enough problems of her own what with calling random numbers in search of epidermically insensitive cleaning products. Numbers mean very little to these sorts of people, why she calls her own mother 17.

9. Did you use the product Charlene(R) in your formative years? Possible side effects did include hearing loss.

10. Go to enough Gogol Bordello shows and your hearing will be as extinct as the passenger pigeon to which you'd probably exclaim "good riddance birdie-beastie!"

11. 'Written' is a very nebulous term. Aren't we all in some way or shape 'scripted'? As to questions of authorship see McScribblerson, Andrew J., "Writing, Writing Everywhere but Not a Drop to Ink," Columbia Press, 1994.

12. Who is this 'they' you speak of? Getting a little paranoid aren't we? Once again I am required to ask: Did you use the product Charlene(R) in your youth? Possible side-effects include rampant paranoic fantasies (coupled with desires for world domination).

13. The workers of the world live in destitute conditions, my dear. It is the single biggest enigma in history why they are so reluctant to shake the yoke of oppression and rise up against their masters. GloboTek, the makers of Charlene(R), will be the first against the wall.

14. AaaaHaaaar! Me matey! Avast yee land-lubbers! Might yee have any fabric softener to which we might soothe our mutinous clothing into submission?

15. Don't you mean, "Who Ya Gonna Call?,"? [?] (?)^?

16. Two lithuanian ducats.

17. Marvy fabul linky est repo majorum. Can you read that rather Latinous gibberish? See what we have to work with?

18. Please repeat the question.

19. The fact that you seek to 'control' quality is your generation's biggest obstacle toward peace of mind. Why in my day we just let Quality run free, 'two sheets to the wind' we'd yell laughing at our convivial jouissance.

20. Please PLEASE, for your own well-being, if you had even mild association with the product Charlene(R) please call 1-800-3611. Bye."

10 May 2006

2 1.800.3611

2.19 p.m., may 10th, 2006: a most provocative telemarketer call.

the call:
"hello. may i speak with charlene? if you have any questions please call 1.800.3611. bye."

the questions:

1. who is charlene?
2. am i charlene?
3. is that the question i'm supposed to have?
4. should i have other questions?
5. am i fantastically incurious if i don't have questions?
6. what kind of phone number is 1.800.3611?
7. it's obviously bogus, right?
8. did she misread it?
9. did i mishear it?
10. am i a bigger deafo than i knew?
11. who wrote this phone script?
12. were they kidding?
13. were their working conditions dissatisfactory?
14. was this their mutiny?
15. who made the call?
16. how much was she paid?
17. is she illiterate?
18. did she deviate from the script?
19. was this recorded for quality control purposes?
20. do i even know a charlene?

08 May 2006

1 "female troubles"

[a crazily dorky english-head moment- with femi-nazi undertones- is about to break out so a bit of background, if you will: i've been a biography addict since 1994. in mid-2003, during a weirdish post-college, pre-chicago emotional crisis, i took to the jackie books- because that is what people who have people do- and have been on a biography binge ever since. therefore, when grappling with big, deepish thoughts- as i'm about to do- the grappling is usually grounded within a biographical, jackie-centric context because that's where i'm most at home.]

biography is the national enquirer of literature. when done badly, it's artificially revealing; when done well, it's intrusive. in reality, we will never know everything about any one particular person and in the modern age, with the glut of information and gossip, historical figures are fast becoming unrecoverable. thus, the central truth of biography is that each work is just as much about the biographer as the subject- if not more so. there are always gaps. the author fills them.

this becomes particularly problematic in biographies of women. the bombshell recently read the sisters: the saga of the mitford family, then went on to reread one of the misses mitford's madam de pompador. she was struck by a line that took it for granted that madam de pomp's happiness stemmed from her total deferrment to the king and his wishes. nancy mitford surmised that this was "as it is in any happy union"- a statement that makes perfect sense when aligned with nancy's own deferrment to gaston palewsi, with whom she was madly in love and whose great love she was not.

this set the bombshell and i off on an email tangent about whether, as a woman, happiness is really based on complete sublimation of oneself, which naturally led to one of our favorite convos- how difficult it is to approach a famous/historical female figure outside the convenient context of husbands. believe me. i've tried. it's tough.

so much of a woman's public identity is based on the man she's with or the drama that stems from that, a disconnect that is evident at the most superficial level of biography. check out titles the next time you're at powell's. for the men- a twilight struggle: the life of john f. kennedy; winchell: gossip, power, and the culture of celebrity; long live the king: a biography of clark gable; the survivor: bill clinton in the white house; the last czar: the life and death of nicholas II; andy warhol: the life of an artist; capote: a biography.

and now for the ladies- mistress to an age: a life of madame de stael; vera: mrs. vladimir nabokov; the silent woman: sylvia plath and ted hughes; the most beautiful woman in the world: the obsessions, passions, and courage of elizabeth taylor; the truth about hillary: what she knew, when she knew it, and how far she'll go to become president; and two of my personal favorites- painted shadow: the life of vivienne eliot, first wife of t.s. eliot, and the long supressed truth about her influence on his genius, and jacqueline kennedy: the warmly human life story of the woman all americans have taken to their hearts, including the latest events in the life of this magnificent woman.

titles devoted to male subjects are largely defined by chilly detatchment, while those pertaining to women are overheated and clunky. it's indicative of a difference in the way books about men are marketed and sold versus those about women. incidentally- five of the seven books listed in the paragraph above were penned by men, so this isn't a simple matter of feminine effusiveness.

currently, the starting point with any female biographical subject is as wife or lover. madam de stael is considered a key figure in the development of the novel and one of the leading french philosophes. her work is set on par with that of rousseau and voltaire. yes, she was sexually liberated, but the title mistress to an age suggests she methodically bedded the emperor's entire army, an exaggeration that undercuts the significance of her work.

at both the historic and iconic levels, jackie onassis' was arguably the most significant female life of the past century. and yet, how lazily biographers have wrestled with her. again, titles say it all: mrs. kennedy: the missing history of the white house; jack & jackie; jackie after jack; just jackie; jackie; jacqueline bouvier; a tour of the white house with mrs. john f. kennedy; jacqueline kennedy onassis; jackie and ari; the onassis women; and the ever-popular, jacqueline bouvier kennedy onassis (so fitting that it has been used on three occasions).

in biographies, JFK is summarized by his war experiences, one night stands, politics, or unfulfilled possibility. jackie is reduced to fashion, decorating and husbands. what are the odds that if JFK had outlived jackie, there would have been a book entitled jack after jackie? i'm thinking slim to none.

an argument grounded in book titles may seem superificial. particularly titles regarding jackie onassis, who has become more of a visual image than an idea or an actual once-living person. but it must say something about the genre and the culture that one of our greatest icons is almost exclusively approached through her names, one of which, ironically, is a feminized derrivative.

admittedly, in the case of most of the women discussed here (plath, jackie, vera, hillary), marriage was a ticket to fame- not that they consciously considered it such but that they married up-and-coming powerful men who were already accompanied by some degree of public exposure. but it isn't hard to imagine that hillary would have eventually become hillary with or without bill's help. that plath would have found her poetic voice with or without ted hughes.

jackie's is a different, more nuanced story. i think she would have married someone who wasn't JFK and perhaps not have been tremendously happy. but outside the apex of east coast society, she might have also had the freedom to write and paint and sculpt as she wanted, instead of simply being friends with those who did. the jackie i just described- the witty writer whose friends warned that she would be diminished by JFK; the frustrated artist who told photographer peter beard that she wished she could do what he did but she didn't have the guts- only surfaces in two biographies. and it is a fleeting appearance at that. though the jackie icon is a veritable mine of possibilities, the biographical subject has been cruely fenced in by wifely nomenclature.

my beloved wayne koestenbaum wrote, "'mrs.' seemed in jackie's case, always to be concealing half-truth." this then is the fundamental "female trouble" of biography. society/media/biographers/readers (us) are so hung up on the "mrs"- metaphorical or otherwise- that all the fascinating, characterizing concealed truths are flattened. thus, within the written record, our women truly are little more than beautiful, silent shadows. and that's not nearly enough.

07 May 2006

05 May 2006

3 the teddy?

this was the week in which all the older, dorky men i had a crush on in 1994 (the edge, PJK, tom cruise, etc.) did inexplicably wacked out things. scary. control yourself, matthew modine!

if i was going to marry a kennedy, this was the one. despite the cocaine addiction/bipolar disorder/anger management thing, he isn't too disgustingly older and hasn't raped anyone. he's ambitious (entering politics at 21), tenacious (surviving a spinal tumor), and family-oriented (taking custody of joan after her collapse). never a fan of letting it all hang out, i nonetheless admire PJK's openness. it's such a refutation of the family's tight-lipped stoicism and that takes guts. which is why the oversimplified conspiracy theories and chappaquiddick comparisons are infuriating. maybe PJK is a teddy, but he's also ill, has never hidden that fact, and has spent a decade trying to overcome it and furthering mental health parity policies. so he killed a road block. that's not nearly as ghetto as JFK.

as indicated by the teddy posts, the kennedy floodgates have opened. all apologies to my many, many red state readers.

04 May 2006

1 what the hamptons sweater hath wrought

from approximately 4.11 p.m. to 11.09 p.m. CST on may 4th, 2006 AD, esla was seriously kerfuffled. the end result is a pair of tattered feet (from the lessons the nature of which cannot be revealed at this time), a new disgust for the hamptons sweater, and a bevy of zany JBB outake photographs.* due to public demand, JB's darling editors will soon be posting their own masterworks, the scariness of which they hope to deflect by simultaneously posting winningly self-deprecating portraits, of which the following (and yes, we regularly read roget's) are but a glimmer. prepare yourselves, people. they're beyond your wildest dreams.

*if you're asking "can it be? is this right? what about the dictatorial JBB exclusivity clause that forbids all JBBers from blogging their JBB contributions?" to answer those questions: it is; it is right; and the darling JBB editors weild their exclusivity powers with the utmost fickleness- particularly toward anyone who will promote JBB and the JBB cause with reckless JB-like abandon.

03 May 2006

3 dear mr. the edge

we need to talk. i've loved you for years (though, yes- not as much as adam). i've loved you despite the cowboy hat, the vests, the chest hair and the tie-dyed pants. despite the all too frequent pairing of blacks and browns. despite the fact that you're famous, have millions and yet have forgone the use of rogaine. despite the horrifying live "stuck in a moment" falsetto of 3/30/01. even despite the fact that at 3 out of 4 award shows, you acknowledge the contributions of others with the line: "without (insert random band/artist name here), there would be no (insert random u2 hit here)." through all of this, i have loved you. and then you had to bring dave matthews into it. dave freaking matthews. mr. the edge, you have broken my heart.

02 May 2006

0 you can take the girl out of memphis

DISCLAIMER: if you do not know me, have never been to memphis, wouldn't cry at the candlelight vigil, and/or hate elvis, don't even bother reading this. if you do know me, don't judge. i'm not crazy, it's my heritage.

i'm very much a memphian and, as such, elvis is an integral part of my heritage. aside from select family traditions (namely, playing elvis carols and hymns during the opening of christmas presents and impromptu recitations of the soliloquy in "are you lonesome tonight?"), the king thing usually only explodes forth in its full crazy glory during Birth Week and Dead Week. fortunately, there's roughly six months for recovery in between. but i missed Birth Week this year, which is the only way i can rationalize this past weekend.

(in reading the following, don't think, "ah, that's what Dead Week is like." that's not what Dead Week is like. there were no elvis movies in the theaters, no laser and light show at the planetarium, and no impersonators in the grocery store. this was but a glimmer of the Dead Week euphoria without the ambiance.)

the kingly weekend was fueled by the birthday present bought for Lib on friday. all that night, it's gold cover cast a glow about the room that must have been intoxicating, because come saturday i bolted from the bed to throw on from elvis in memphis (if you're going to own one elvis album, this is the one!!!) and spent the morning cleaning the apartment to the sun sessions, which, in turn, led to the dvd of aloha from hawaii (highlight: the bead of nose sweat during the horn climax of "american trilogy"), which, naturally, put "american trilogy" in my head and sent me racing to hear it again. there was lunch, a walk, and a talk with L, and a few hours of writing to the '68 comeback special, followed by a late night viewing of change of habit- a groovy film where the climactic scene involves elvis (playing a groovy doctor) and mary tyler moore (playing a groovy nun) helping a groovy child overcome her autism by screaming "WE LOVE YOU, AMANDA!" (rent it. now.)

because this was admittedly a crazy amount of elvis for april, i had every intention of ending it there. but then sunday was so windy and rainy and overall gross. a perfect time to organize bills and paper junk with elvis: that's the way it is (if you're going to own an elvis dvd, this is the one!!!) as background noise. and then, of course, the dance class (the nature of which cannot yet be revealed) set the mood for some elvis in hawaii/mexico music (which is all-around fabulousness because there aren't nearly enough american songs with mariachis* singing "ey-yai-yai"). and then eating alone requires some form of watching and the jonathan rhys-myers (who was born to play elvis) elvis tape was right there. after an hour or so rocking the unfortunately titled burning love and hits from his movies, vol. 2, it seemed the best way to cap off the kingly weekend and exorcise the elvis crazies was to throw on the 70s masters and write about it. thank you. thank you very much.

*the bombshell's most profound quote to date: "mariachi music must be the worst to have sex to."