Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Quiet on the set

You know how TV shows are often set in NYC but actually shot elsewhere? Well, that's my theory about the RNC. So far this week I haven't seen any Republicans (or at least any wearing pro-Bush, pro-GOP paraphernalia--have seen some preppy types, but even Kerry's kinda preppy), and from what I can tell from watching the convention on TV, they used what appears to be a fake backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. To be fair, I have been avoiding the area around Madison Square Garden, so it could just be that the Republicans aren't making it uptown. Yeah, guess that's it...

In other news...just saw part of a Daily Show from the Democratic Convention. "Internet bloggers" were interviewed and referred to as "nerds." One of the female fake-newscasters put her hand on the shoulder of a nerdy man on a computer and asked if it was "wierd" for him. He said no. Good man!

Monday, August 30, 2004


MSNBC brings us something it calls "Hardblogging." Awful name choice, I'd say. Sounds like either a) they find blogging very difficult over at MSNBC, or b) a Viagra-fueled Bob Dole will be the one doing the blogging.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

"Transgendered Party--Ladies Free"

A sign in front of a nearly empty bar downtown read: "Transgendered Party--Ladies Free."

This is just confusing on so many levels. Who, exactly are the ladies? I saw plenty of women--those born that way and those who discovered their own femaleness later in life--near the place; which of those women could've gotten in free? Then there's the issue of why a bar open-minded enough to host a transgendered party would choose to have a policy that evokes bars where gender roles are far more rigid. "Ladies Free" suggests lots of post-frat-guys living in fear of a "sausage-fest" and trying to get as many tube-top-wearing women into the bar as possible.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

My day, in bullet-points

Today so far:

  • Watched part of documentary on fashion models. Why? "It's a lot of work," they say. I think I pity Baude more for his book addiction that I do the models for their strenuous lives.
  • Spotted a couple who just might have been visiting Republicans. The woman was eating some meat bought on the street that native NYers ought to know to avoid, and the man had a city map in his back pocket.
  • Did part of a practice LSAT in Starbucks.
  • Am attempting to steam an artichoke. Update--it worked!
  • Going to a party that will require taking public transportation and passing through "the zone." Still have to pick a good nonpartisan outfit so as not to provoke Republicans or anarchists.
  • Will try not to check sitemeter repeatedly when I get back.
  • Expect blogging to be light while I'm outside--if I'm blogging from the party, all is lost, and I'll have to face up to the Internet addition once and for all.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Patriots and not-so-girly-men

The Village Voice notes that many top Republicans in the government didn't serve in the army. Point taken, until Arnold Schwarzenegger's alleged lack of patriotism due to lack of army service comes up. The army he failed to serve in, according to the Voice, was the Austrian army. His reasons for not serving--he was competing in a body-building competition--is certainly dippy.

And that's supposed to prove what, exactly? That he's not especially loyal to Austria? Given that he's currently an American politician, one who apparently some people would like to see as U.S. president, would it be a point in his favor if he'd served in another nation's army? Let's say a person had been extremely patriotic...in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Would such a person make a more respectable American politician?

A woman being described by two others at the 81st and Broadway Starbucks

"She has a lot of anger. That's why she's so fat."

"She hates Jews."

"She hates her mother."

"She said something about 'black people.'"

"She always wears black. But not in a sophisticated way."

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Breaking news: The GOP knows about sample sales.

Myrna Blyth, at the National Review Online:

"Now I am not saying New Yorkers are perfect. Far from that. Yes, I admit, we can get a tad aggressive at a sample sale. And we can be a bit outspoken when someone else is trying to hail the same cab as the one we want. But I am sure all delegates will get a big New York welcome from those few New Yorkers, who are not leaving town next week. Just some final words of advice: Please, don't order pastrami on white bread. Girls, pack whatever you want, just make sure it is in black. And when you talk politics, to be on the safe side, only do it with someone who is wearing a button that says 'Bush-Cheney '04.'"

Hmm, wonder if the Barneys Warehouse Sale will still be going on during the RNC. If so, expect some men with "Bush-Cheney '04" buttons to appear among the usual crowd of leering, drooling men watching women try on the clothes.

It's a hard life: Charming American couple in Florence subjected to the "sexual encounters" of "sloppy" students

An American couple who spend part of each year in Florence have written a letter into the Times indicating that they find local students too "dirty:"

"Our condo is near the university. Students who get drunk or have sexual encounters are only part of the problem."

Are the students having these sexual encounters in this lovely couple's condo? In the condo next door? Or does this couple consider things like public hand-holding "sexual encounters"?

"Many are sloppy, dirty, loud and pushy. They seem incapable of assuming the lifestyle of the country, but choose to impose their own lifestyles on the Florentine culture."

Who are these students, who seem to be mistaking superior and wonderful Europe for the Fairway supermarket on the Upper West Side, where, if you aren't sloppy, dirty, loud and pushy, no one will take you seriously? Well, turns out these students are...you guessed it:

"Too often, to our embarrassment, a young person who creates a disturbance is American."

While I can't say for sure, I'd imagine this particular American couple does a fine job of embarassing themselves without the help of pushy, horny university students.

"Instruction in common good manners needs to be incorporated into classes before foreign study."

Why? So that students, some of whom are American, don't offend the sensibilities of cultivated, well-traveled American couples?

What really gets to me about this letter is this idea that "common good manners" are universal among non-Americans. Aren't there loud, pushy, dirty Florentines? Are "sexual encounters" more common among Americans than Italians?

Splat! [UPDATED]

Q. What should you do if you are one of the lucky few to have had Dave Matthews' excrement fall upon them?

A. Ebay.


Will Murray questions the legality of selling celebrity shit.

Ethnic pudding

Ended a long and strangely Internet-free evening with a friend at Veselka, where I mentioned to him that I'd always been curious about the "Ukranian pudding" but didn't feel like actually ordering it. My friend asked our waiter what he thought of this pudding, and he made a face that said "eww." When pressed for more information, he described the taste as "ethnic." Does that make the waiter a xenophobe? Are Ukranians, who are definitively white, considered "ethnic" these days? Or is it just their pudding that's ethnic?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Books, bagels, and classical music. What more do you need? Posted by Hello

The West Side remains firmly on the left. Posted by Hello

Look what happened to Hyde Park! Err, just kidding. Posted by Hello

Interesting PR move

Did I imagine this, or was there just a commercial featuring NJ Governor McGreevey urging his constituents to avoid telemarketers? Why?

"Old fashioned British walking shoes." Not.

As fashionisto Will Baude has already pointed out, pointed is, well, out.

The Business section of the Times urges women to "Forget ballet flats or sneakers or the old-fashioned British walking shoes."

While I have no idea what "old-fashioned British walking shoes" would look like (I'm guessing awful), I'm a fan of ballet flats and some sneakers, such as the silver Puma Mostro, which as those who know me well already know, I spent about a year trying to track down. But forget all this! If I want to be so very now (but, given that it's 2 a.m. and I'm blogging, that can't so easily be assumed), I should abandon comfort, abandon the one very cool pair of pointed, high-heeled shoes I can actually walk in, and go for some sort of retro-looking contraptions that look only slightly less painful than the stilettos featured on "Sex and the City."

"It's a round world," said Paul Wilmot, a public relations agent who represents Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta and other designers. "It's clearly a throwback, a retro feel." Mr. Wilmot said he regretted the demise of "the fabulous, low-vamped shoes, as pointed as a steeple top - they make women's legs look great." He called the new silhouette ungainly: "These things are clunkers; they're high-fashion, but they're clunkers."

This trend will be out in no time--these shoes are essentially the high-heeled version of Uggs.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Volokh's unintentional LSAT question

Eugene Volokh reports on the demographics of folks who graduated from law school in 2000, noting that "Jews are 2% of the full-time working population, but 7% of the survey respondents said they were Jewish (p. 20). Some stereotypes are indeed accurate. The survey also reported that 30% self-reported as Protestant, 27% as Catholic, and 23% as having no religious identity, which suggests that the irreligious are also overrepresented, though of course "no religious identity" can be defined very differently in different contexts, and it's thus hard to compare these numbers across surveys. (Note also that some of the 23% might be secular Jews, so the Jewish numbers might be higher than 7%.)"

Volokh has written a clever LSAT logical analysis question. You've got to find the flaw in his argument. The answer is: C) fails to distinguish between two different uses of a key term.

If religion is what's being measured, then who cares about "secular Jews"? Isn't it possible that the 23% with no religious identity is made up of secular people with all kinds of backgrounds? Or is it that Judaism is a race and thus Jews, unlike all other people, have "religious identity" whether they believe in anything or not? Had it been "cultural identity" or "community affiliation" being measured, then the secular Jews, lapsed Catholics, no-longer-born-again Baptists and others could come out in full force. Judaism can mean either the Jewish faith or some combination of cultural and ethnic traits that lead to formation of a Jewish identity, or a combination of all of the above. But if what's being looked at is Judaism as a religion, along with various other religions, then "secular Jews" should be lumped, with no special identification, in the 23% of irreligious people.

That said, I find the counting of people by group affiliation creepy. And going around counting Jews, then naming others who might be Jews...that strikes me as a waste of an afternoon, not to mention one with pretty sinister associations.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Study abroad prerequisites: Lose 50 pounds and lose the Abercrombie

I was amused by this article about American college students abroad, and about attempts to crack down on "boorish behavior that occasionally makes the ugly-American stereotype a reality." Amused, because while the behavior described in the article may be typical, my own study abroad experience involved a bunch of Americans (mostly girls; all from UChicago) doing their best to seem as French, or at least European, as possible. Sure, there were some rowdy kids, but mostly, no. Think skinny girls with scarves, dressed in muted colors and speaking in muted voices, who shower weekly at most, and, in the group's favor, who actually speak the language of the place. This more or less worked--Parisians took the Chicago bunch for Brits, not Americans, and given the lack of French enthusiasm for Americans last fall, this was probably for the best.

Or was it?

We were (and are) not at war with France, and it would have been nice if my group could have presented itself as distinctly American and yet not "boorish" or "ugly" in our behavior. I have absolutely no idea how this could have been accomplished, but I do think there should be some way for American college students to study abroad while neither drunkenly trashing their host countries nor going out of their way to look and seem something other than American.*

*Unless, of course, the motivation is something more serious than a desire to fit in, such as a desire to make it back to the States in one piece. The University of Chicago's study abroad safety guide urges students to "Be inconspicuous. One travels to see, not to be seen. Clothing or behavior that broadcasts "tourist" or "young American abroad" could bring trouble in your direction." Urging students to blend in style-wise makes a lot of sense if the students are going to, say, a country where women are required by law to wear veils; it is less crucial for students going to a place like France to leave behind any and all garments with the word "Abercrombie" on them.

Pretty fly (for Ancient Greece)

The most obvious objection to Amber Taylor's post on how looking at fine art will make women feel OK about those extra 5-500 pounds--that even back in the good old days, people did weird, unnatural things (corsets, toxic makeup, etc) to make themselves look prettier--has already been made. But the real problem with her argument isn't that she doesn't acknowledge that beautification procedures have been around since long before the current surgeries were invented. Instead, what she seems to miss is that, even if "natural beauty" had ever been in fashion, what good does it do the crowds waiting for buttery popcorn on Michigan Ave. to know that, living in an earlier age, they might have been heartthrobs?

Taylor concludes her post: "Here is an alternative to television and magazine imagery of bony actresses with pneumatic bosoms. Here you can find yourself, and be reassured."

How is it reassuring to know that, had you lived in a different time and place, you might have been considered attractive? Those dreaded media images are, as it so happens, what's considered ideal in this society, and you can choose how much to care about how well you fit that ideal. Or, you could build a time machine and summon a man from the era when your build was in fashion, but that would be a bit too "Weird Science," wouldn't it?

Also, in response to Heidi Bond, who says: "If the ads were believed, no woman would attract a man without smearing goop over her face, liberally. But I've met plenty of men who find that stuff completely baffling and unattractive. If the ads were believed, the girl in the $800 outfit would out-class the girl in the $10 outfit. But some men are oblivious enough that they'd never know the difference between the $10 outfit and the $800 one."

True, most of the time, (straight) men don't see the makeup or clothes, they see the woman. And careless slopping on of makeup, or just spending a lot on ugly clothing, isn't going to help anyone's appearance. But makeup and clothing can change a woman's appearance in ways that subtly bring her a notch up or down in attractiveness, and what a man may perceive as pure beauty is often in a large part a reaction to the way the woman has presented herself. As a straight woman, I'll see a another woman walk down the street and notice the makeup, clothing, hair styling, surgery, a lifelong avoidance of Pringles, etc., and then see a man checking her out. The man isn't aware of falling for makeup and expensive clothing. He is simply making that classic assessment of "hot or not" and moving on.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Single-sex sample sales?

Yesterday I went to the Barney's Warehouse Sale, which is a wonderful moment in the lives of those who are addicted not necessarily to books but to some of the most beautiful shoes, clothes, and did I mention shoes, in the land. The thing is with these sorts of sales, women (and, in some cases and elsewhere at this particular sale, men) strip down to just about nothing right smack in the middle of the place, not in any sort of dressing room since none exist, so as to make sure their bargain designer finds actually fit. As a small child first being introduced to this world by my mother, I was a bit unnerved, but I've long since trained myself to just try the stuff on, knowing full well that everyone else, presumably lesbians included but I can't say for sure, is there mostly for the great deals, not for the nude women.

Now, sometimes men infiltrate the part of the room that's functioning as a dressing room. These men fall into the following categories:

1) Gay or gay-seeming men who wear women's clothing. I have absolutely no problem with such men joining my fellow women and me in digging through bins of last season's Marc Jacobs.

2) Husbands, boyfriends, and friends of the women trying stuff on. These men should just plain not be there. Sometimes they're just there to leer at the other women, sometimes not, but in either case they take up much-needed space. The sale was very, very crowded yesterday, and I did not want to be any closer than I had to be to the interesting-smelling, hairy-pitted woman next to me.

3) Unaccompanied heteros: OK, they need to go. It's not even that they're creepy--which they are of course--but that they take up space without even providing any much-needed advice about whether the various outfits the women are trying on look good or not. They don't even notice the outfits.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Rich college kids and their "problems"

Chuck Klosterman's review of "Real College," a dippy-sounding guide to college life, makes some good points. Klosterman notes that the sort of people who read these guides are the sort of people who care about succeeding in college and who probably don't need the guide in the first place. But this is where he stops making sense:

"Of course, for those who actually paid for college themselves, the repayment of student loans was the only 'real challenge' higher education ever presented; everything else was just sort of fun and exciting and amazingly drunken."

I was always under the impression that college is most "fun and exciting and amazingly drunken" for well-off college students who can devote more time and money to partying.

Klosterman goes on: '''Real College' tends to cover topics like dating and coping with social alienation and the best way to tell your roommate it's time to vacuum, all of which feel like problems only to 'real' people who don't have to worry about declaring bankruptcy if they don't find a job six weeks after graduation."

This is just not true. Roommate problems, dating problems, social alienation--these are problems for many students, no matter who's paying their tuition. (And, for those living at home for college, "roommate problems" are another matter entirely). Even Anne Frank had some approximation of "dating problems" in her family's attic; an American college student in 2004 who's paying his or her own way is no more exempt from such problems. I have yet to meet a fellow college student (or, for that matter, a fellow human being) who always has his or her problems in perspective, both relative to global problems and the personal problems relative to one another.

The Harvard student without any "real" problems is just about the easiest straw man to build. No, the ups and downs of privileged college students are second only to the ups and downs of obnoxious junior high school students in their apparent silliness. But reminding well-off students that their problems aren't "real" is no way to address the legitimate problem of the costs of higher education and the very unequal effects of those costs on different students.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Welcome, new readers

Daniel Drezner has quoted me. This is cool.

If you just got here from Drezner, don't go! Stay a while, take off your coat. Or, if you're Michael Phelps, your bathing suit. Err, just kidding. See the post below.

"Uh, I like boobs"

Via Oxblog:

The Weekly Standard now has a blog, which, as David Adesnik points out, is both on "Blogger" and on some silly subjects. But what I was most struck by was the gratuitous "look, we're straight" babe-worship, both silly and strangely appropriate for the publication:

From Jonathan V. Last:

"Obsessing over Svetlana Khorkina tonight, I caught NBC's Very Special Package on the Russian gymnast. "I know that people look at me," she says to the camera. "They watch me.""I have been great for a long time," she says. Speaking of these Olympics, she tells the NBC crew: "I want to win as badly as I want to mother my own child. . . . I will go there and get what belongs to me." And no, I'm not going to find the Russian Playboy pictures for you. That's why God invented Fleshbot. Cubby Broccoli's on line one--there's a '70s Bond movie missing its villain."

If the "Substandard" were a personal blog and not one associated with a publication, there'd be nothing strange about Last or any of the others putting up pictures of their celeb crushes. When Drezner does the same, it just doesn't seem like he's trying to prove something. But the coming from the folks who bring us the Standard, with its frequent opposition to gay marriage and generally serious tone, hot-girl worship comes across as an attempt to, well, prove something.

Anarchists pose challenges to authorities

"Chief John Timoney of the Miami police, whose officers scuffled with anarchists during a World Trade Organization meeting last year and in 2000 during the Republican convention when he headed the Philadelphia police, said they pose a number of challenges to the authorities."

Isn't that, like, the point? What anarchist wouldn't pose a number of challenges to the authorities?*

*The answer: Those people are known as "libertarians".

(OK, I realize there's more to it, but if 10 angry libertarians want to comment, feel free.)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Stuyvies Jen and Frankie hold what appears to be a DVD about our high school's distinguished namesake. Posted by Hello

What women want. Posted by Hello

Fish! Posted by Hello

Eric and a soupy dumpling. Posted by Hello

Great Books for all

Allan Bloom would be proud.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Just like a pill

Will Baude defends book addiction. At least at Chicago, if not in some larger segments of the world, a person who reads books all the time is considered admirable, even if all that is gained by this reading is that the reader is entertained. Even if the same can be gained by another person through watching movies, eating rice cakes, or gossipping. And a person who exercises all the time might well end up looking like this:

Which is really a net gain for the world, when you think of it.

But...lost the thought...oh yes, talking about how "horrible" it is that you read too much, work out too much, study too much, win too many Nobel Prizes, etc., isn't going to elicit much sympathy. That's because, while as Baude points out, his relationship to books sure looks like an addiction, it just, well, isn't.

An activity should only be called an addiction if a person feels some degree of shame in admitting to it. An 8th grader proud of his pot "habit" is not an addict; a 40-year-old toking up in secret every day might be. That way, addiction can be defined as somewhere between "something a person enjoys doing frequently" and "substance abuse." Somehow I doubt this redefinition will catch on, though.

Enough about me...

That should do it for (visual) narcissism. I will now return to basking in the UV rays of my thoughts on, among other things, toilet paper on dowagers' heels and Jane Brody's delightful "Personal Health" column.

I'm afraid of my new camera. And my new bangs.  Posted by Hello

Keeping it real: graffiti on the Upper East Side Posted by Hello

Seen on Madison

A woman, maybe in her 60s but in this age of surgery who knows, with a bag sort of like this

and plenty of understated yet elegant accessories was walking down the street in high heels, trailing a nice piece of toilet paper. I think that's what started the French Revolution.

Waxing matrimonial

Via Wonkette: The Bush twins might be attending the gay wedding of...their eyebrow waxer. This, despite their father's fierce opposition to gay marriage. How can this intra-Bush discrepancy be resolved?

Here's an idea: Only allow gay marriages to take place among gays who provide valuable makeover-giving services to (hetero) society. That way, some gays get to marry, and closed-minded sorts who think gays merely exist to make things and people pretty can rest assured that only those gays who "fit the profile" will have civil rights. Under this system, Carson Kressley can marry; Andrew Sullivan cannot.

(Alright, that doesn't really solve any discrepancy. Gay marriage for all who want it, makeover-givers and makeover needers alike!)

Cutting edge [UPDATED]

I now (almost) understand how to post pictures on this blog. In upcoming months I expect to teach myself, among other things, how to operate CD players, television sets, and other highly complex technological devices.

(Just because I'm happy to share my political rants with the world--and by world I mean the 10-12 people who ever read this thing--doesn't mean I'm breaking gender stereotypes at every turn. I would like to, I really would, but in some cases, particularly those involving boring gadgets, I just can't be bothered.)

[Think I got it!]

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Having it both ways [UPDATED]

It's tough to be an RNC protestor:

"Unlike the delegates and journalists coming to New York, protesters are being offered no hotel rooms, no free Broadway shows and no massages. Still, they are receiving an outpouring of hospitality from scores of people who are opening their apartments, churches and improvised spaces as temporary shelter, free of charge."

But wait a second. If the protestors are being treated as second-class citizens by those less-than-compassionate conservatives, what does that say about how the GOP feels about its donors? Things may be sweet for delegates and journalists, but the Times just got through informing its readership that top Republican donors aren't getting freebees just for going to the convention; if they're not giving perks to their donors, why would the Republicans provide amenities for those who wish to protest their convention? The paper implies that the protesters are somehow being slighted by a Republican Party set out to stifle its opponents, when it knows full well that the Party is equally stingy with its friends and foes.

[UPDATE] This is certainly a relief.

From NRO, a weak case for Bush

Victor Davis Hanson accuses liberals of hating Bush for "who he is" and not "what he does". Hanson accepts that some might be against Bush for good reasons, "But what is not explicable in terms of rational disagreement is the Left's pathological hatred of George W. Bush. It transcends all contention over the issues, the Democratic hurt over the Florida elections, and even the animus once shown Bill Clinton by the activist Right. From where does this near-religious anger arise and what does it portend? Let's start with the admission that much of the invective is irrational, fueled by emotion rather than reason...."

Things would certainly move in Bush's favor if Bush-hatred nationwide died down. But then again, if those who hate Kerry in particular or the Democrats in general for being too cosmopolitan, too wimpy, too Francophilic, too "girly," became more enlightened and reasonable, things might well go in favor of Kerry. If everyone on both sides who'd picked their candidate on the basis of hatred for the other side were to focus instead on the issues, things might well remain 50-50.

Hanson sums up: "In short, the Left hates George W. Bush for who he is rather than what he does. Southern conservatism, evangelical Christianity, a black-and-white worldview, and a wealthy man's disdain for elite culture — none by itself earns hatred, of course, but each is a force multiplier of the other and so helps explain the evolution of disagreement into pathological venom."

He neglects to mention that the Right hates Kerry for who he is rather than what he does. Northern liberalism, sedately expressed Catholicism, a nuanced worldview, and a wealthy man's embrace of elite culture.

Does Hanson really believe that conservatives who hate Kerry hate him solely for reasonable reasons? Doesn't he know that all Bush's traits that he named as turning off liberals are precisely the same ones that make Bush's supporters enthusiastic about their candidate?

Monday, August 16, 2004

An accidental trip to the mall

"Ms. Crouch, an editor who lives in Park Slope, said she was shocked by the level of enthusiasm her contemporaries, whom she described as 'professionals in their 30's and 40's,' have shown toward Target and other stores. She said she had not intended to visit the mall on a recent Saturday, but could not resist stopping as she passed by on her way home from yoga class."

Of course she hadn't "intended" to go to the mall. If the Times is going to get a quote from you, and you're a "professional," you want to emphasize that you were coming from yoga class, not that you were going to the mall. No, she just stumbled upon it, the way people "accidentally" fall on their remote controls and end up watching 12 straight hours of "Roseanne" reruns.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Times reports that grunge is no longer in style...

...a full decade too late.

Urban clichés

The "City" section has a great article by Jennifer Steinhauer, "Caught in the Act of Being a New Yorker."

She begins: "It hits me occasionally, as I'm standing on a traffic island on the Upper West Side, trapped by my inability to get across Broadway before the light changes, that I have officially become a walking urban cliché."

This happened to me once. I was walking up (not across) Broadway on the Upper West Side, wearing all black, and eating a bagel. I all of a sudden became aware that I was...wearing all black and eating a bagel on the Upper West Side, but it was the fact that I hadn't self-consciously thought about doing either of these things that made my sudden realization of its implications--that I am, as Steinhauer would put it, an "urban cliché"--so jarring.

Steinhauer continues: "None of [my peers] would most likely appreciate being reduced to a cultural stereotype, the way Allison Portchnik, one of Woody Allen's wives in his film 'Annie Hall,' complained he was doing to her when he ticked off identifying markers of her life, like years spent at Socialist summer camps. And I, despising conformity, disdaining the notion of community and believing that the Gap was a conspiracy to create a national costume, had never wanted to be part of any world. Yet, just as you swear you'll never turn into your mother, here I am, yelling at the butcher and pushing the bangs out of my children's eyes."

So true. But Steinhauer neglects to mention one thing: comparing one's life to any scene from "Annie Hall" is a sign that one has, in fact, become an urban cliché. I am currently interning at a magazine that Woody Allen mentioned* in "Annie Hall"--does that make it any less clichéd for me to compare aspects of my life to scenes of that movie?

The best part of Steinhauer's article:

"Here is my own version of the urban cliché checklist, the markers that tell me that I've been nearly swallowed by the entire West 80's:

1. Spend a prodigious amount of time comparing the size of my apartment to that of everyone I know. Read Real Estate section. Throw out Real Estate section. Never move.

2. Stand in line at Harry's Shoes on Broadway and 83rd Street each fall, listening to conversations almost as inane as the one I have with my 5-year-old about the relative merits of metallic-colored sandals versus Keds. Remind 5-year-old not to lose the balloon doled out by salesman. Stop at small candy store on the way home to replace lost balloon with Gummi Bears. Repeat entire transaction each summer.

3. Lament that there is no place in the neighborhood to get a decent hamburger/salad/pastry, then eat in the same four places anyway."

"I've been nearly swallowed by the entire West 80's." Dude, so have I, and I don't even live there! OK, not the stuff about taking kids to Harry's Shoes, since I neither have kids nor babysit anyone else's, but I am fully aware that the Upper West Side culture, no less than the Upper East Side culture, has a way of sucking you in if you spend too much time in those parts. My family shops at the Fairway, the subway I took to school required me to go across town twice a day, and pretty much everyone I knew in high school who lived uptown lived West, not East. All these factors have combined to make me an Upper West Side cliché who lives, as Steinhauer put it, "on the exact same block on the other side of Central Park."

*"They move through the rooms, Robin holding a drink in one hand, her arm draped in Alvy's; the crowd mills around them.

ALVY (Taking Robin's hand) I'm so tired of spending evenings making fake insights with people who work for Dysentery.

ROBIN Commentary.

ALVY Oh, really, I heard that Commentary and Dissent had merged and formed Dysentery."

Job opportunity

A (faux-) internship is available with the Lincoln Park Trixie Society, Chicago's special brand of yuppie.

No exit

Ran into a total of 6 Stuyvesantians tonight, not counting the one I was hanging out with.

My friend Jen and I went to an empty but trendy-looking bar in Soho which for some inexplicable reason both had a tropical fish tank and served raw fish. We got amaretto sours that I thought tasted like a fruity Starbucks iced tea. They were cheap, which was something. By something, I mean that's how we ended up there.

On the offchance that my judgment was impaired by this (entirely legal--I am, in fact, 21) imbibing, blogging will be light from me for the next few minutes or so.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Went running today for the first time since winter. It was an opportunity to wear the University of Chicago shorts with the school's name on the, err, back, that I bought semi-ironically when they were being sold in the Bartlett dining hall earlier in the year. When shorts started appearing with college names on the butt, I told people that my school would never sell such things. And yet there they were, so I had to have them. They'd go well with my "lim u->u(c) S e^x=0" tee shirt.

Friday, August 13, 2004

In bad taste, but I couldn't resist

Israel's not the only one interested in pulling out of Golan.

It's not "gender bias"

Point taken. I also should have added that the Maroon now has at least one female columnist who focuses on politics.

But I wasn't trying to imply that there's "gender bias" at either publication--if the "Viewpoints" section of the Maroon had been biased at that time, it would have been my own fault, and I don't believe it was. I was just pointing out that the drive to make one's political opinions known in op-ed or article form seems more pronounced in men than in women. I picked TNR to discuss because, at the time I was writing the post, TNR Online has an article up that was the epitome of a "girl article" in a political publication. Now check out NRO: this and this are what women are writing at that publication, leaving serious matters such as "War" and "Election 2004" to the boys.

I just don't fully understand why often women, more than men, are inhibited when it comes to expressing loud, sometimes obnoxious, political opinions.

Funny, Dreyfus was from Alsace

Maybe Sharon was onto something after all.

Ultra-radical professors?

There was something on the news about "Sunni militants" and for some reason I figured the newscaster was referring to militants at the State University of New York. Which SUNY had the militants, Geneseo? Binghamton? New Paltz? Such a disappointment, or maybe such a relief, the 0.5 seconds later, when I realized the newscaster had said "Sunni."

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Girl talk

During my brief stint as editor of the Chicago Maroon's "Viewpoints" section, I was one of two female columnists. The other one wrote a dating column. This meant that my column, which was, like this blog, only sometimes about politics, was the closest thing to a political column written by a woman. Reading submissions, it often seemed as if every last male student had written a polemic on the war in Iraq that he wished to share with the rest of the University. Female students I knew who had strong political opinions just didn't seem to have that same drive to make those opinions known.

The front page of the New Republic online currently has 5 articles and the week's movie picks. Only one is written by a woman (unless my google research indicating "Chris Strohm" is male was incorrect). That article is a careful, nuanced analysis of...Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton.

I do not think that women should be forced to write on political subjects (nor do I think that men should be forced to write on, say, Ashton Kutcher). I'm not really advocating anything here, nor am I prepared to provide any sort of scientific analysis of this. I just wonder why politically-minded women seem less inclined to share their views than do politically-minded men.

More than metrosexual

The governor of New Jersey, James E. McGreevey, resigns, admitting to having had an affair with a man. While his wife might not be too thrilled, I don't see why this means McGreevey has to resign. President Clinton had affairs and didn't step down from office, though some would surely have liked it if he had. NYC's former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, had essentially two wives while in office--the official one and the one he was having an affair with, whom he took, I believe, to official events, and who is now his wife--and yet did not resign, although he did withdraw from the senate race. Is hetero adultery that much more forgivable than the gay variety?

A grainy issue of the Times

I wonder if Jane Brody feels threatened. Marian Burros has not one but two articles in the NYT online advocating the consumption of whole grains, one of Brody's favorite subjects.

I wonder if the two are friends, if they discuss matters of the day over bowls of oatmeal, or if they are both vying for some sort of Head Grains Editor position and therefore fiercely competitive with each other.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Virginity regained

David Adesnik of Oxblog, blogging live from the "Daily Show":

"11:12 PM: Stephen Colbert presents 'This Week in God'. Says Catholicism turns highs school girls into either virgins or whores. OxBlog's anecdotal experience confirms this fact."

Didn't know anyone, even a Catholic school girl, could be turned into a virgin. This must just be the result of Adesnik typing quickly.

Then again, from [the Daily Show's] Jon Stewart's commencement address at William and Mary:

"In 1981 I lost my virginity, only to gain it back again on appeal in 1983."

The question of the hour

Who is "this 'Phoebe Maltz'"? Spencer at Mediocrity's Co-Pilot investigates.

Proof that Stuy folk are an intelligent bunch

Drezner guest-blogger (and Stuyvesantian!) Reihan Salam approves of my suggestion that we as a society start cracking down on cosmetic surgery rather than illicit drugs.

A sestina with allusions to "The Nanny"

Disclaimer: I wrote this just now, in about 10 minutes, while kinda watching "Cheers," so I'm well aware that it's not, like, good. In fact, even with endless time and no "Nick at Nite," the results would be about the same, but I felt that a sestina alluding to "The Nanny" was in order. So no one is permitted to judge this blog unfavorably because of the poor quality of this "poem." The poor quality of the regular posts, that, on the other hand, is fair game.
So here goes:

I cut my own hair every night
Snip snip it looks better now
Takes time away from email-
Checking, time away from “Nanny”-
Watching, time away from playing
Snood. It’s time to go to sleep.

Before I go to sleep
Each night
With Rufus Wainwright playing
In my discman, every now
And then Anny
sends an e-mail.

This I must read. Reading Anny’s email,
So bitchy, so funny, is not conducive to sleep.
She’s 9. The moment her nanny
Leaves her alone for the night,
She does things her nanny couldn’t know,
Among them, playing

With Barbie and scissors, playing
Hairdresser, sending me email:
“Come here right now!”
She demands, but she should be asleep!
Seriously, at this time of night…
But I’ll leave such matters up to her nanny.

So it’s one of those nights, and I call her nanny,
Who, it seems, has been playing
Snood—or was it Tetris?—that whole night,
Stopping occasionally to check her email
From a computer in the den, assuming, for some reason, Anny was asleep.
“Well, now,”

I said, “I don’t know
Why you assumed that, of all children, Anny
Was asleep.”
The nanny stopped playing
Or so I guessed…the typing sounds had stopped…nor was she still checking email.
“I am employed solely during the hours of the day, let me be, it is now night.”

“Go to sleep, now,”
I said, wishing goodnight to Anny’s nanny,
Who wished me goodnight, hung up the phone, and resumed the game she was playing, stopping again to check email.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

My clone

There's a girl taking Hebrew at Stuyvesant who, it seems, looks exactly like me, or at least exactly how I looked at that age.

I guess it's not that strange--I went to Stuyvesant, and am also of the Hebrew-taking persuasion--but when I saw this picture, I did a double-take: When was this picture taken of me? I didn't take Hebrew in high school, to the best of my knowledge. If this resemblance isn't as striking as I think (and for this I defer to WWPD? readers who knew me in high school) by all means let me know.

Gratuitous picture of attractive man:

I'm sleepy, I've already posted a gratuitous picture of a nice dog, so, for tonight, a gratuitous picture of Rufus.


NYT headline: "The Claim: Drinking Milk Increases Mucus Production"
NYT conclusion:"Milk has not been shown to increase the production of mucus."

I'd never heard anything about milk and mucus before reading this, and frankly wish I'd never seen the two words in such close proximity.

Monday, August 09, 2004

A semi-serious proposal for vast changes in our legal system

What would it be like if cosmetic surgery were outlawed (or just very heavily taxed) and illicit drugs legalized or decriminalized? I can't walk down the street without seeing the evidence of countless rhinoplasties, face lifts, botox injections, breast enhancements, etc., each of which required a person to take time out of his or her productive activities (whatever those may be) to spend money on something potentially harmful, simply so he or she could feel better. It seems unfair that cosmetic surgery--which is purely for pleasure and yet can result in an individual harming or killing him- or herself--is celebrated on national TV and not condemned by the government, as all things harmful but fun surely must be.

If, say, pot were legalized, and the illicit and scary stuff that happens behind the scenes in the drug trade were removed from the pot, so to speak, how would the typical pot smoker do more harm to society than the typical high maintenance Upper East Sider who spends ages under anaesthetic in the hopes of looking young and thin? If you were an employer, whom would you prefer to hire, someone who gets a bit hazy occasionally on weekends, or someone who gets knocked out entirely every few years and gets shot up with botulism toxin every few months?

For the record, I have nothing against changing one's appearance in quick, cheap, and reversible ways. Everything from hairdye to lipstick is fine by me. I think, and this is where things get a bit more controversial, that there are even men who look exceptionally good in eyeliner.

But once things like anaesthesia and time off work are involved, once motivations become more self-hating (think nose jobs to look less stereotypically Jewish) and less self-enhancing (think Rufus Wainwright in eyeliner--funny, I often think of this...), that's when things get iffy and the government's gotta step in.


When receiving mailings from colleges my senior year of high school, I noticed that each school's student body had a distinctive style. Middlebury was preppy and clean-scrubbed, Cornell had a sort of no-style style, and, as for Chicago, a grungy, somewhat outdated look, from clothing to hairstyles, seemed to be what people were going for.

So it only makes sense, then, that college alumni magazines should merge with catalogues for clothing companies with corresponding images. Dartmouth's magazine, for example, could merge with the J. Crew catalogue. The University of Chicago Magazine could merge with whatever the catalogue is with all that Freud and Socrates paraphernalia. Princeton's could go for something a bit more upscale, but still preppy--perhaps the Princeton Alumni Weekly could be crossed with a mini-catalogue from Ralph Lauren.

Alumni magazines advertise as it is--why not do something to streamline the process?

"The deranging influence of blogs"

"About the deranging influence of blogs [novelist Nicholas] Baker makes a sterling point."-Leon Wieseltier, NYT book review.

Are blogs a "deranging" influence? Is it just the blog readers, like the character in Baker's novel that Wieseltier refers to, who are deranged, or are the bloggers themselves, the people producing the drivel that causes others to be deranged, also a bit off? I already know what my friends without a foot in the blogosphere think--a definitive "yes" to both--but are those with one or both feet in this world self-aware enough to realize that Wieseltier is onto something?

Being deranged, at least in the case of blogs, isn't necessarily a bad thing. (I wouldn't be surprised if Wieseltier would agree, as well he should, given that he's the literary editor of a publication that not only has multiple blogs but also employs blogger extraordinaire Will Baude.) Having a drive to put one's passions into writing doesn't necessarily produce good writing, but blogging is probably a nuttily wholesome activity. On the scale of eating whole grains to creating world peace, I'd say blogging falls between the two, albeit a whole lot closer to the former.

(The rest of Wieseltier's review, by the way, is good, provocative stuff--check it out.)

Sunday, August 08, 2004

It takes a Village

As long as Michael Musto stays, it is OK by me.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Meet my Friendster, the squirrel

The Slithery D (who seems to be known also as "Dylan") claims: "I don't believe I know anyone in the flesh who has a Friendster account."

I know very few people in the flesh who don't have Friendster accounts, and those hold-outs (who, to protect their cherished privacy, shall remain nameless) have been known to occasionally request invites from me on the offchance that they one day decide to succumb to peer pressure. I was skeptical of Friendster at first, then fascinated by the prospect of looking up everyone I've ever met (which, given my impeccable memory for names and faces, meant a whole lot of time on the "user search"), and now have come to terms with the fact that being virtually linked to everyone from current real-life friends to celebrity crushes (a certain Mr. Jason Schwartzman) to "Squirrel," a veritable University of Chicago squirrel, will have absolutely no significant impact on my life.

An apolitical, dog-related post

On my way to dinner tonight I encountered two fabulous, massive dogs. Turns out they were Tibetan Mastiffs, a breed I'm not aware of having seen before. How people living in New York could manage to own two of those is beyond me, but in any case, the picture below (not of the ones I saw, but of something along those lines) should give some indication of the massiveness and fabulousness of the dogs in question.

"Those people"

"I don't want to be here when those people are in town." --Nikki Lopez, 26, a real estate broker from TriBeCa. "Those people" are not gays, nor are they one of the many national or ethnic groups that hold large-scale events in the city, but are, in fact, Republicans. Funny how the reaction of many so-called progressive New Yorkers to those they disagree with politically so closely resembles that of white Upper East Siders who live in utter fear of the day Puerto Ricans claim 5th Avenue for their parade. But I digress...

The Times notes that "Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about five to one in the city," and that many New Yorkers don't look forward to the ratio changing, even temporarily, for the convention, and that some are fleeing the city to avoid possible confrontation with, err, those people.

"'The thought of Republicans storming Eighth and Ninth Aves - my walk to work - is enough to make me want to get as far out of town as possible,' Ms. Cosgrove, an editorial assistant at Time Out New York Kids, wrote in an e-mail message. She plans to spend the week on Martha's Vineyard. 'My blood started to boil last weekend when I saw a couple having brunch decked out in Bush-Cheney hats and pins, so I'm not sure how I would fare if I saw my neighborhood taken over by supporters.'"

Oh no, that would be awful, having to share a cafe, in her own neighborhood, with people who might have different political views. It's her walk to work, after all, not like it's public sidewalk or anything. Good thing she can escape for the week to Martha's Vineyard, otherwise that could've been devastating for her! I wonder if she's creating some sort of fresh-air-type fund for less fortunate, but equally anti-Republican, New Yorkers who also want to avoid the influx from the right.

Most disturbing is that "Some people in today's partisan times...even admit that they are leaving to avoid shouting matches with conservative visitors." It is perfectly reasonable--admirable, even--for liberal New Yorkers to stand up for what they believe in and make their opposition to the Republican party in general, or Bush in particular, known. Anything from voting for Kerry to wearing a Kerry button to protesting the convention would accomplish that. It is also completely understandable that some New Yorkers will choose the RNC as their vacation time, so as to avoid what will inevitably be a chaotic, if not dangerous, time in the city.

But are the two major parties soccer teams, and the people coming into the city hooligans for the away team? If the people who had the audacity to wear buttons for Bush-Cheney while eating brunch are any indication, shouting matches might not be necessary. If a New Yorker feels strongly about his or her political beliefs, so strongly that just letting people think what they want to think won't cut it, he or she should go up to people wearing the opposing side's buttons and talk, ask that person why he or she supports that candidate and offer a good reason to support the other.

Leaving the city out of disgust for Republicans (as opposed to out of the more legitimate fears of chaos or terrorism) isn't a political statement; it's passive, it's essentially taking a late-summer vacation, and it comes down to, more than anything else, xenophobia.

U of C myths debunked

The University of Chicago Magazine, where I used to work, has an article debunking a number of commonly-held beliefs about the school, but acknowledging that some aren't all wrong. Turns out:

1) Our sororities can't afford houses; it has nothing to do with any brothel law.
2) Only about 10% of Chicago alums marry fellow alums.
3) It is, as suspected, very rare for someone to graduate with a 4.0; no one did this past schoolyear.

I infer from this that:

1) There is now officially nothing racy about U of C's sororities.
2) I no longer have to take seriously a prediction my (non-Chicago, but familiar with Chicago myths) friend Will made senior year of high school, in his note in my yearbook, that I would marry a fellow U of Cer.
3) It is, as suspected, fully impossible to graduate from Chicago with a 4.0.

Low-carb Mojitos--beware of aftertaste

Having recently turned 21 I feel that I ought to take some interest in the NY nightlife scene. Reading up on new places to check out, I discovered that there are now low-carb cocktails. "NY Metro" (NY magazine online) reports:

"Good news for the carb-starved masses on Atkins and South Beach: Trump's ritzy World Bar has introduced low-carb cocktails ($12). The drink recipes aren't complicated—use a sugar substitute instead of the real thing (or mix it with water to make a low-carb simple syrup in the case of the mojito). Though the after-taste of the low-carb concoctions is reminiscent of Crystal Light, while you're drinking they taste like the real thing. In a not-so-scientific test (our eyes were closed, we swear), we could barely tell the difference."

Do people who order $12 low-carb cocktails do so out of some desire to be parodied five to ten years later as a relic of a moment in time when $12 cocktails and low-carb everything ruled the city? These drinks already sound a little silly, but will only sound sillier when everyone decides to cut, say, protein, and the city's a dump again and everyone's just drinking normal-carb liquor on streetcorners.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Further proof that the West Side is GOP country

Graffiti in the 72nd and Central Park West subway station included not just crude breasts drawn on women in an ad for a community college and fangs drawn on Bill O'Reilly in one for Fox News, but also, in large, proud lettering, "Vote Bush." Below this, someone had, to be fair, written "ha ha," but in far smaller and fainter lettering.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Andrew Sullivan on "The Teresa Problem," in reference to Mrs. Kerry: "It is not a feminist achievement to use your marriage as a device to gain political power. Hillary is now a respectable pol because she got elected. "

I have long been mystified by why Hilary Clinton, who is visible--and was thus electable--as a result of marrying a rather well-known and famously charismatic man, is considered a) a feminist icon, and b) any different from President Bush, at least with respect to the dynasty factor. A woman whose fame follows that of her husband can at best be highly flawed as a role model for feminists. The senator may well be smart, talented, ambitious, and hard-working... but so are a whole lot of people who didn't think to marry Bill Clinton. And, not to get too Naderesque here, but both major parties are guilty of loving their dynasties.

Sullivan's point, which he makes once again in The New Republic, just doesn't make sense--if, as he correctly asserts, "It is not a feminist achievement to use your marriage a device to gain political power," then how can Senator Clinton, whose very visibility and electability were a result of her marriage, not be faulted for the same thing as Teresa Heinz-Kerry? That Sen. Clinton is "a respectable pol" does not imply that she got to be one entirely through feminist achievements.

For the curious

It has come to my attention that the picture on my profile was, well, too small to see. This was not intentional but merely the result of my inability to figure out what exactly this thing called a jpeg is and how it works. I have replaced it with a picture of a dachshund that shares my first name, admittedly not much more helpful. So, for the curious...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Whom will vote for Kerry and who will vote for Bush?

Barbara Ehrenreich answers 10 questions from New York Times readers. The first question--and Ehrenreich's answer--demonstrates precisely why the Democrats might lose this time around:

"Q. 1. I have well-educated friends who are undecided as to whom they will vote for in this election which baffles, if not infuriates, me. Are you aware of a report documenting every step the Bush administration has taken that was either contrary to constitutional principles, the environment, ethics, or otherwise abominable? — Daphne Burns, Charleston, S.C."

While I'm tempted to just shudder, I will try to put into words why this bothers me. By equating "well-educated" with "anti-Bush," Ms. Burns here just feeds into the idea that Kerry is the candidate of the elite. It "baffles" this woman that a person could have, say, earned an advanced degree, and yet not share her political beliefs. This smug attitude, that the well-educated are somehow morally superior--and thus more likely to care about the enviroment, ethics, and avoidance of the "abominable"--is not going to make too many swing voters swing left. I mean, when voting, should we simply follow the advice of anyone capable of using "whom" correctly?
Does Ehrenreich make any of these points? If she wants to support the Kerry cause, she should be willing to set self-defeating Dems straight. No such luck:

"A. There are so many! Just go to your local bookstore and ask where the Bush-bashing section is. No kidding, there must be about 20 such books and they're usually right in the front of the store."

Opportunity lost.

"My three-month-old can't vote, but if he could, he'd vote for..."

Many people nationwide were born Democrat or Republican. This is a dangerous phenomenon.

From toddlers dressed in pro-Kerry or pro-Bush propaganda to politically apathetic adults who won't make friends or date across party lines, this nation is full of people whose party affiliation is more a part of who they are (and who their parents told them to be) than what they believe in. Now, not everyone with the same party affiliation as his or her parents is a born party member--there are plenty of people who, after examining their own beliefs and those of the two major parties, find themselves aligned with the one they'd have picked reflexively. A born party member is one who feels that, because his parents listen to NPR and his cousin sells natural-fibers clothing, he must vote Democrat; or, conversely, because her parents are God-fearing Christians and her cousin is in the NRA, she must vote Republican.

Born Democrats and Republicans are a lot like legacy admits to colleges. Neither major party wants to alienate its born members--they are, after all, likely to be a loyal and generous bunch. Yet just as legacy admits aren't necessarily the best suited to the schools they end up at, born Democrats and Republicans aren't always the best advocates for (or, for that matter, the most constructive critics of) their parties.

The greatest problem with the born party members is their tendency to be off-putting to moderates or undecideds they encounter. While they are adamant about being on the right side of the culture wars, that friends don't let friends vote whichever, they cannot provide any ideological reasoning that led to their own realization that Republican or Democrat is the way to go. All they can provide is a sort of cultural Democratness or Republicannity, a lifestyle in line with the Red or Blue State mentality. They assume people who are like themselves in other ways share their political views.

Both parties have a lot to offer those who culturally are more aligned with the other of the two, but in order to reach out to the potentially politically-mobile, the major parties need to take a close look at who exactly is speaking for them.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Six hours of Lucy!

I am happy to report that Will Baude has joined me in Brody-bashing. He makes a point of mentioning--twice--that he himself isn't much of a fan of TV. I, on the other hand...would finish this post, except I'm in the middle of watching "Seinfeld".

One of my favorite moments in "Seinfeld" occurs when Elaine, reading a TV Guide (all the reading material available at the Costanzas') on the subway back from Queens, encounters a man with a strange fixation on the Guide (and, subsequently, on Elaine). Looking at the Guide, he informs her: "On this particular Tuesday, you could have watched six hours of Lucy!" The man goes on to list all the Lucille Ball-centric programming that was on that particular Tuesday: "The Lucy Show", "I Love Lucy", etc.

(I'm tempted to write an email to Brody informing her that, on this particular Tuesday, she could be watching six hours of "Seinfeld.")

Monday, August 02, 2004

Jane Brody brings smug preachiness to the Times

I have never understood how smug, know-it-all Jane Brody manages to have a place made for her at the New York Times. Her "Personal Health" column is written in the most condescending tone; her latest, "TV's Toll on Young Minds and Bodies," is of course no exception.

She begins, as she always does, by pointing out that she and her family are exemplary and that it's everyone else in the country with the problem:

"With little TV, [my sons] were two lean, strong, athletic children who grew up in a home without junk food, did not pester their parents to buy things they saw advertised, never smoked or drank alcohol..."

First off, how exactly does Brody know that her sons never smoked or drank alcohol? How many teenagers who do these things haven't found clever ways keep that information from their parents? Imagine for a second that you are the teenaged child of Jane Brody, full-of-it writer of the "Personal Health" column, and you're stoned out of your mind, 40 in one hand and cigarette in the other...not to mention you've just consumed a full bag of Cheetos. Don't you think you'd come up with some way to hide the evidence? Also, everyone knows it's always the kids whose parents don't let them eat junk food or watch TV who are the biggest fiends whenever given the opportunity.

"Unfortunately, our experience with television is rarely duplicated these days."

Unfortunately, not everyone can be perfect like Jane Brody.

"Although controversy abounds about the precise ill effects of excessive television watching on children's well-being, there are undeniable facts, some documented through long-term studies."

We don't know that watching TV is bad for kids, but it seems like it must be, so let's just assume.

Best of all: "If a child watches commercial television, explain that commercials are designed to make people want things they may not need."

Here's a question: what if the commercial in question is for receiving home delivery of the New York Times?

Red Hairdye Alert

So far so good, nothing seems to have exploded today.

Onto a more serious dilemma:

The problem with having very dark hair and very pale skin is that an attempt (the third this summer) to dye my hair red has resulted in pink hands and...very dark, but definitively reddish, hair. My dream of looking like Shirley Manson goes unfufilled yet again.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Orangina Alert

I turned on NY1 to check the weather and turned it off as soon as I saw the temperature, choosing not to wait while the anchor finished explaining the massive terror alert for Manhattan, especially the important parts of the island, or something. I figured all I need to know is whether it will be chilly or warm when terrorists strike. Knowing that it's 79 degrees out is helpful; knowing that leaving my apartment (or, for that matter, remaining in it, given its proximity to midtown) might be fatal isn't helpful in the least.

A red state of mind

A while ago New York Magazine had an article on young NYC Republicans--they exist! One of them, a high school classmate of mine named Matt Baer, was "turning the Upper West Side into (gasp) GOP country", or at least trying.

Well, seems he's succeeded: Today I saw a young man wearing an "I Love Halliburton" shirt, plus an older man with one of those buttons with a letter crossed out, but rather than a "W" it was a "K." All on Broadway, between 72nd and 75th. The next thing you know, the Fairway will be selling red meat. Oh wait, it does! Aaaahhhhh!!!!

I wanted to find the person on the Upper West Side selling this pro-Bush paraphernalia, if such a person existed. Would he or she wear a bullet-proof vest, or would a device to protect him or her from wayward shopping carts be all the protection necessary? I passed a large table where someone was selling pro-Kerry pins, and saw down the street that a man was selling pins at a smaller table. Aha, this had to be the guy. He didn't look especially Republican, could have fit right in at Zabars or H&H, but things aren't always what they seem.

Actually, things are always what they seem. The guy, too, was selling pro-Kerry pins, albeit a smaller selection of them. No need to gasp--GOP country has failed to join Urban Outfitters, Sephora, and the soon-to-open Barneys Co-op on that particular stretch of Broadway.