Saturday, April 29, 2006

10 ways I do and do not feel American

1) Diet Coke
2) Muffins
3) Lifetime, Television for Women
4) Iced coffee with skim milk
5) American English

Do not:
1) Driving
2) Christianity
3) The DaVinci Code
4) Professional sports
5) Partisan politics

Count me out

Today, on the train into lower Manhattan for an attempt at finding these men's sneakers (anyone with any ideas, please add to the comments) there were three high school-aged straight couples and a couple male stragglers on what appeared to be a group date to a protest. And what a protest it was--lower Broadway was filled with everyone from aging hippies to... somewhat younger hippie types. While most people I know, Republicans included, are at this point against the war and against Bush in particular, the protest--like nearly all protests--joined together so many causes that had nothing to do with one another. Feminism, hating Israel, and caring about immigrant workers may all fall under the broad category of things that protestor-types get in a huff about, but the causes themselves hardly overlap.

While I agreed with parts of what the march represented, I disagreed enough with other aspects to feel not the least bit guilty when protestors began chanting for shoppers to leave the stores and join the march. Of course, lower Broadway's substantial weekend foot-traffic only helps the protestors' cause, since anyone walking around (say, trying to get from one branch of David Z to the next in search of a perhaps no longer made pair of sneakers) presumably gets added into the police or media estimates of the event's turnout.

Friday, April 28, 2006

"The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob" (1973)

Imagine a cheesy farce featuring a French version of Archie Bunker, a network of Arab terrorists, a Shomer Shabbat but otherwise non-religious Jewish chauffeur, and a clan of French Hasids, and their imposters. The movie is largely set in a pre-hip Marais and in the French countryside, but begins with lingering shots of the World Trade Center, followed by a brief scene in what seems to be a pre-hip Lower East Side. There are many, many mishaps involving a tub of bubble gum at a bubble gum factory somewhere in France. Near the end, there is an oh so poignant, lingering shot on a handshake between the Jewish chauffeur and the Arab good guy (a Burt Reynolds clone with brown makeup) that follows their acknowledgement that they are, in a sense, cousins. Why can't we all just get along? Seems, gosh darn it, we can.

I cannot believe that this movie exists. All the issues of French citizenship and identity, of intergroup relations, but a Bugs Bunny-level comedy? The whole thing is surreal, and seems more like a dream I'd have had while writing my BA than like something that would have actually brought a 1970s French audience to the theaters. Regardless, even if you don't, like me, find yourself in the convenient position of getting all the Jewish jokes and all the French jokes, it's still worth seeing, if only because I think the movie could be classified as a psychedelic drug.

When I would think "French-Jewish film," my first thought used to be "Au revoir les enfants," or maybe "The Sorrow and the Pity." The more recent "La Petite Jérusalem," which I have yet to see, sounds like it fits in well enough with this cheery genre. Now, I will immediately think of this new (well, new-to-me) comedy, for better or worse.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The official singer of Francophilic Zionism

So I was at agnes b., drooling over clothes I will buy in my next life as a member of the top-25-socialite list, when I started to notice something strange about the store's background music. The singer kept repeating something about "hageshem," which I immediately recognized as "the rain," and which seemed like French until I thought about it for a second and remembered that geshem isn't "rain" in French, and, more obviously, that ha isn't "the" in French, either. I asked what the music was, and this was the answer. I guess this "Ishtar," an Israeli who lived (lives?) in France and who sings in French and Hebrew, is the official singer of Francophilic Zionism. Unfortunately, aside from the languages, it's not music I could stand for long stretches of time, but it's still cool to know it's out there. But between the Hebrew music and the beyond-perfect French fashion, agnes b. is making it very difficult for me not to kill off my bank account in one quick motion of what would probably amount to one and a half skirts. But what skirts!

In other news, I am aware that the format is... the way it is. Should be better soon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Two schools I attended are mentioned on Gawker today, the University of Chicago in a "Reading about Reading" post, and Spence in a post tagged "Socialites." Big surprises both. What was surprising, though, was seeing Arden Wohl as #25 of 25 in some new socialite rankings. We overlapped at Spence, but I don't remember her as being one of the pre-socialites, at least not on the celebrity-socialite level. It seems her presence on this list is baffling to others as well--see the snarky comments to the Gawker post. I'd be on it, too, if I hadn't transferred to Stuyvesant for high school, or maybe just if I hadn't started wearing hippie sandals.

High-profile plagarism scandals vs. coed naked homework

For those of us who didn't get into Harvard, or who, um, knew enough to not even try, time to put on a smug grin. Once more, as it happens. Sneaky bastards. Something like that would never happen at Chicago, where students are so diligent that they do their homework during porn shoots. Never have I been so proud of my decent but not outstanding high school career.

More on Chicago, Harvard, and "Vita" here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I "heart" Philip Roth

Mr. Roth declined to talk about what he was working on now except to say that he thought it would be about the same length as "Everyman." He explained: "The thing about this length that I've particularly come to like is that you can get the impact of a novel, which arises from its complexity and the thoroughness of detail, but you can also get the impact you get from a short story, because a good reader can keep the whole thing in mind. Motifs can be repeated, and they will be remembered."

He paused and added: "You know, I used to talk this way about the pleasure of writing long novels. If I go into the plumbing business next week, I suppose I'll be talking this way about toilets."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Superior suburban feta

Will Baude and I should have some kind of cheese-off, to see who can post the most about cheese in a 24-hour period. Of course, he also blogs about law, which might make it an easy win for me, as I've been known to think only about cheese for significant chunks (pun intended) of time. Will and a friend of his blog ("Friend of Crescat") discovered "Teleme," a cheese that sometimes is and sometimes isn't like feta. Well, yesterday, I first tasted this amazing feta that I was worried only exists in the cheese section of this one supermarket in Westchester, but at the advice of a "Friend of WWPD" I checked the package, and it's apparently made in Israel but distributed by a company in Woodside, NY, which I'm thinking is in Queens. Which suggests that this cheese may in fact be everywhere, like God and Yura muffins.

Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition

There is a new banner. The rest of the blog format will soon change as well, since the purple in the "PM" really clashes with the red accents in the current layout. Get excited!

How I spent my "spring break"

Just got back from the country. The country being Westchester, which is only the country if you've only ever lived in the city, and so, as I said, I just got back from the country. It's pretty there, and for somewhere so rural, it's remarkably near New York. I guess that's the point of suburbs. Yesterday, as part of my journey to worlds as-yet unknown, I went to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. It's like Little Italy, only better, sort of like Flushing's Chinatown versus Lower Manhattan's. The Arthur Avenue Market is fantastic, and the new blog header comes from there. From one of those massive wheels of parmesan which, for whatever reason, was already stamped with my initials, before I'd even had a chance to claim it, if only in my imagination.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Starting... now!

A while ago, I vowed to read books only in French, at least for a bit. And inevitably got sidetracked, because the Strand is big and the English goes down oh so easily. But I finished the Birnbaum books (which the Strand had, tragedy of tragedies, readily available in English translation but not in the original French) and decided that French it will be, from now until reading in French becomes as easy as reading in English.

Which sure explains my productivity today otherwise. I have accomplished the following:

1) Supervised the closing of the grand entry hall of The Mouse, which is surrounded (shudder) by a startling amount of fur and what appear to be wood scrapings, but is now filled with steel wool and covered with "powder." The exterminator examined the space around a wire behind the dishwasher and exclaimed, "Shit, that's a big hole!" Anyone want to come over for dinner?

2) Ran four miles. It felt effortless at the time, but now I cannot walk normally. I keep reminding myself that torn-up Puma Mostros are not and never were running shoes, but whatever, I have super-comfortable hippie sandals now, so I'll recover in no time.

3) Purchased a black strapless gown at Old Navy. By "strapless gown" I mean something that's technically a bathing suit cover-up, but is in essence no different from any number of hipster mini-dresses at American Apparel, or even this one I considered but opted against at the Barneys Warehouse Sale last summer. (See "Naot-as-Prada.") It looks very glamorous with heels, understatedly chic with flats, and god-awful with my new sandals. I sense that the thing will only be good for days over 95 degrees, when I'd have the courage to wear something like this. My roommate Anna, who's far more adventurous fashion-wise than I am, suggested a belt. Which does make the garment look more like a dress, but I have yet to find a way to make it look more like jeans and a sweatshirt.

4) And finally, read some French. Some France, as it happens--something by Anatole France. The going is slower than I'd like, so I think this may be it for exciting adventures in mouse-extermination, "long-distance" running, and Old Navy-scavenging for the time being.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Consider it done

These most fabulous hippie shoes--Israeli hippie shoes, no less--are now mine. My mother agrees that my shoes are great, and went on to say that not only would she consider borrowing them, but that they kind of look like Prada. Even I, despite my unfailing passion for these shoes, would not go that far. But they are surprisingly elegant with jeans, and are at once a more minimalist and more comfortable version of Birkenstocks.

No reason to believe even the most bored-at-work of my readers cares, but my sandals are really super.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

And Pierre's robes came from Scoop

Despite an increasingly significant knowledge of late-19th-century French history, anything before the mid-1800s is still more than a bit iffy. I remember that when I learned about the French Revolution in college, I was surprised to find that I wasn't so sure I'd have been in favor. Of course, I can't remember the specifics of why I thought this--something about my generally having a moderate impulse and being suspicious of radicalism, I think? maybe?--but if I were to actually go through old notebooks still taking up precious space in my parents' apartment, I might have some idea.

Till a form of speed strong enough to motivate me to go through all my old stuff is invented and FDA-approved, I will have to refresh my memory some other way, and John Kekes' City Journal piece, "Why Robespierre Chose Terror." That was it, yes--the revolutionaries seemed a bit too much like "Islamofacists." A thought that may well have crossed my mind in Paris in 2003, but who knows. In any case, Kekes writes:

The American attitude toward the French Revolution has been generally favorable—naturally enough for a nation itself born in revolution. But as revolutions go, the French one in 1789 was among the worst. True, in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity, it overthrew a corrupt regime. Yet what these fine ideals led to was, first, the Terror and mass murder in France, and then Napoleon and his wars, which took hundreds of thousands of lives in Europe and Russia. After this pointless slaughter came the restoration of the same corrupt regime that the Revolution overthrew. Aside from immense suffering, the upheaval achieved nothing.

The French Revolution "achieved nothing"? That's a bit strong. I mean, I guess the emancipation of the Jews was "nothing" when you consider Vichy, but the ideals of the Revolution sustained France and ultimately led to the good guys winning the Dreyfus Affair. This is not a defense of Robespierre, but it seems ridiculous to imagine what France might have been if the royalty and all-powerful Church remained. Kekes goes on to outline just how terror-filled the Reign of Terror was--point taken, but how exactly does that indict the pre-Terror Revolution? Even if it had not led to genocide, the Nazi platform was already more than a bit problematic.


Reading Pierre Birnbaum's book on Jewish identity and French citizenship, I learned that a meeting held at the end of the 1800s to unify the socialists was called the Japy Congress.

"Is this bluefish local?" UPDATED

This morning, I read in the Dining Section about "Edible Brooklyn," which describes itself as "a new quarterly magazine that celebrates the borough's diverse food and delicious culture." On my way home, I picked up a copy of the publication, which is apparently given out in all the expected frou-frou places in the borough, such as the one at which I'd just gotten an almond brioche. How convenient!

Since Park Slope is basically San Francisco with worse weather, it makes sense that the Alice Waters-led movement embracing local ingredients would have an audience in these parts. But what Brooklyn lacks in weather, it makes up for in authenticity--we may not have the freshest fish around, but our seltzer is spectacular. While there's an article about whether one should go with local or organic groceries and another about "the Politics of Strawberries," the magazine is not nearly as crunchy granola* as it might be. I'm intrigued by the idea of "starting your garden Brooklyn-style," and if the new Fairway supermarket really does have 350 kinds of cheese, this is a local-foods philosophy I could handle. And yet, unlike the customer before me at the fish store, I don't care where my fish lived, only that it lived recently....

Of course, my own passion for things local is far eclipsed by certain other interests. At the wine shop down the street, I just bought some kosher-for-Passover French wine. I do not keep kosher for Passover, but I felt an act of solidarity with the French Jews was in order. That, and it had the prettiest label.

*I've actually come around, and now like granola. If I were more patient, I might even try Will Baude's recipe, although whatever was labeled as plain and lowfat at Chelsea Market seems to do the trick. I'm also, after a painful day of platform espadrilles, considering gettting these, so maybe the neighborhood has made its mark.


French kosher-for-Passover white wine is essentially white Manishevitz. That said, the cork declaring that the wine was approved by the Grand Rabbinat de Paris makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Genetics UPDATED

Today I saw the following: a twelve-toed baby, a 20-plus-person platinum-blond Hasidic family, and a Scarlett Johansson. The Scarlett Johansson. What these three sightings have in common is that they are all examples of freaks of nature, of genes acting totally bizarre.

First was the baby. Good-looking parents of normal new-parent age (30, give or take), but their baby, they were saying, has six toes on each foot. They were not saying this to me, unfortunately, so I was not able to get a very good look. The parents were saying how they think they'll keep the extra toes, assuming they're no discomfort to their child. Would you want your parents to have kept your additional toes? Something to think about--not sure what I'd have wanted had this ever been an issue.

Next was the Hasidic family, who made up maybe half the people in my subway car. Yes, of course there are blond Jews, and no, Judaism isn't exactly a race, but there's something startling about seeing over a dozen children who look straight out of those annoying Ralph Lauren ads that pop up every time you read an article on NYT online, passing around Talmuds amongst themselves. At first I just noticed the women, who looked very Northern Europe via the Midwest, and assumed from their long skirts and modest dress in general that they were Amish, Mennonite, or similar. But then I saw three identical blond boys, with stubbornly non-curling pais and yarmulkes, reading books with Hebrew lettering, and it soon became clear that this was one group, as members of the group were going back and forth in the subway car to chat with the rest. These things happen.

And finally, sitting in Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village, which I was walking by but unfortunately not eating in at that moment, was she of the "sensual lips." I did a double, no, triple take, because, unlike the time I might have seen Keri Russell of "Felicity" but my friend said no, that's not who that was, this was an important enough celebrity sighting that I had to be sure. This time I'm totally sure. Scarlett Johansson is better-looking than any other woman around, with maybe one exception. Her hair was light brown and up in one of those things she does where it's a bit pouffed up in the front, and despite having kind of gigantic lips, she doesn't look at all trashy or ridiculous. It's hard to describe why she looks so much better than normal people, even normal attractive people, but in case you thought it was just that "Matchpoint" was well-shot, no, that's not all that was going on.


And then, Katherine and I saw the baby on the subway with the thickest eyebrows ever spotted on a baby. Not a good look for a baby.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Mommy Lobby

Oh, pity the mother torn between whether to be a top editor at a major magazine, or to pick her child up in person each day from an elite Manhattan day school. (Anna Wintour, I know first-hand, manages to do both, so there.) It's impossible, isn't it, when your child mistakes the caviar for jelly and--oops!--several hundred dollars down the drain. At which point you have to send your nanny alllll the way back to the store to pick up some more caviar, as well as some no-added-sugar jam, because no child of yours is eating Smuckers....

And yet... difficulty comes in all shapes and forms, and who's to say if misery as experienced by a wealthy housewife in a DC suburb is any less miserable than that which is experienced by a middle-class working mother in the Bronx? My impression has always been that, among people who are not in dire situations, who have a certain basic standard of living, who know that they will be able to eat and sleep, perhaps not eat or sleep anywhere spectacular, but whose lives are not continually in peril, happiness and misery both are evenly distributed between the super-rich and the too-poor-for-Prada-but-gosh-what-nice-stuff-they-have-at-the-GAP.

Which brings me to Sandra Tsing Loh's review of "Mommy Wars,"(via Arts and Letters Daily) a book about the struggles faced by wealthy, mostly-white women torn between high-powered yet luxurious careers and a very glamorous, well-staffed version of childrearing. Loh argues that these women have nothing to complain about, and ought to focus their energies on issues of class. The problem with this sort of argument is that every interest group is fighting for its own group's situation to improve. A person who chooses to fight for housewives, Arab-Americans, or the transgendered is not declaring that their particular cause is of more global importance than that of African-Americans, or of those outside America with still greater problems, but has simply picked a cause they, for whatever reason, care most about. It's not fair to expect a book about women choosing between careers and time with family to be one about racial segregation in America.

I agree with Loh that there's something wrong with conflating the problems of a very specific set of wealthy women in urban areas with those of American women in general. That is, I would imagine, the flaw of this book. Or perhaps the brilliance of it. Just as Philip Roth recasts anti-Semitism, rather than anti-black racism, as the major problem facing the US in the 20th century in The Plot Against America, these "mommies" pretend that their own, rather specific dilemmas affect half of the U.S. population. But all of Loh's cliched remarks, such as one about women with "iced mochaccino latte in hand," or her proud assertion that she'd have trouble even recognizing "Kate Spade bags or Ferragamo shoes," as if, say, drip coffee and Nine West are marks of moral superiority, don't do much to help her case. It's one thing to hate the rich for not doing enough for the poor. It's another to get all smug that you send your child to a diverse magnet school and not a majority-white private school (why not just a regular old public school?), or to look down on--or is it jealously at?--those who can afford everything, not just enough, and to assert that such people have it easy in every facet of their lives. Yes, I would be happy if presented with a West Village townhouse of my own, with room for several massive, fluffy dogs and several Israeli actors who may happen to be in town. But does that mean that a person living in such a house is happier than I am, in a very cramped three-bedroom in Prospect Heights? I'd have to say, I doubt it.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

1898 in France

According to Pierre Birnbaum's book, "The Anti-Semitic Moment," the riots that shook France during the Dreyfus Affair were essentially a violence-free anti-Jewish pogrom. Much like today's French riots, and those of earlier years, these brought out the students, from high school through to law and medical school. Also like today's riots, seemingly reasonable demands--better conditions for workers, better living standards for all--are in fact a cover for all manner of nonsense. In 1898, it was about the Jews, whereas today, it's possibly about the Muslims, possibly about all sorts of economic factors.

When the French riot, the question is always, what's behind it this time? Why the unrest? I took courses in college on the 1968 riots and the 1848 revolution, but could not explain, in one sentence, why either of those took place, which side was in the right, and how France was improved or worsened from either. But in 1898, it was the Jews. When I studied in Paris in 2003, I saw "Mort Aux Juifs" etched into a commuter train window, and overheard (almost certainly non-Arab) diners at an upscale restaurant discussing how this and that is "the fault of the Jews"--while I realized that during the Dreyfus Affair such ideas and slogans were prevalent, before reading Birnbaum's book I had no idea that they were ever quite so central, that "the Jews" was what that particular fuss was all about.

One thing I find interesting is the idea of "Jewish stores," stores that sell whatever but are called "Goldberg's" or similar. In Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and Damned," Anthony, late in his downfall, passes various Jewish stores in NYC, and notes how the Jews sure seem to be taking over. In what sounds not so different from Kristallnacht, Jewish stores were targetted by the 1898 French mobs, as were stores thought to be Jewish. Another I find interesting is Jewish self-defense in the pre-WWII Diaspora--in Fitzgerald's novel, near the end, a fallen Anthony gets his faced punched in by the progressively more successful Black (nee Bloeckman), after calling him a "goddamn Jew." Which I found fascinating when I first read the novel, because of the physicality of it--this was no meek declaration of the rights he (Black/Bloeckman) holds as an American, Jewish or otherwise, but a straightforward, manly reaction of the sort Max "Jewry of muscle" Nordau would surely have approved. Birnbaum seeks to disprove the myth of passivity among French Jews at the time of the Dreyfus Affair largely by offering examples of how this or that Jewish victim filed a report or tried to elicit the help of the police. Is it wrong that this still strikes me as passivity? Understandable passivity, and I would make no claim that I'd have been "better" and done otherwise, but still passivity. Not passivity from the perspective of today, now that we know about the Holocaust, and so forth, but passivity compared, well, to a pre-WWII fictional character. Is Black/Bloeckman's act a Zionist one, just because of the Nordau connection? Not exactly--he has changed his name to make it sound less Jewish, and it seems part of what is upsetting him is not the obscenity but that he has been revealed to be a Jew--not that anyone necessarily believed otherwise, but "Jew" on its own is clearly enough of an insult. And so on.

Mysteries of my block

First, there's the woman (or man?) who walks a cat on a leash. Then, there's the family across the street, an older couple and a daughter who's somewhere between 12 and 32, who all three of them look straight out of 1940s Britain. And of course, there's the construction man, the boss I think, always in a fur hat, always in front of a tiny television on the first floor of the building whose renovation he's overseeing. He basically never budges from his seat, morning till night, except just enough to make it clear he is a worker and not a resident at this location. And finally, there's an establishment that seems to do one thing and one thing only: provide women with red dreadlocks. Which is a good look for some women, particularly one who'd had hers done up into a sort of model-hipster fauxhauk. That she herself was of the model-hipster persuasion meant, of course, that she might have just looked good despite the red-dreadlocked fauxhauk. But in any case, sometimes I'm tempted to go that route, but I think I'd be better off with a cat on a leash or, better yet, a television.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"DNA, schmeeNA"

According to Menachem Brinker, a professor of mine at Chicago (speaking on what makes a person Jewish but I suppose this makes sense for other groups as well) identity is a mix between what you think you are and how others classify you. Now, however, a new variable has made things all the more confusing. Just as children can be artificially bred to need less sunblock or be more "Aryan," depending what you're looking for, already-existing humanoids can get tested to see what race they "really" are. While I'm certain that I am as Ashkenazi as the next person waiting for their number to be called out at the Zabar's cheese counter, it might well be that I'm a bit, or even a lot, of something else as well. I'm thinking 98% Ashkenazi, 2% camembert, but that does not have science backing it up. In any case...

Given the tests' speculative nature, it seems unlikely that colleges, governments and other institutions will embrace them. But that has not stopped many test-takers from adopting new DNA-based ethnicities — and a sense of entitlement to the privileges typically reserved for them. Prospective employees with white skin are using the tests to apply as minority candidates, while some with black skin are citing their European ancestry in claiming inheritance rights. One Christian is using the test to claim Jewish genetic ancestry and to demand Israeli citizenship, and Americans of every shade are staking a DNA claim to Indian scholarships, health services and casino money. (Emphasis mine.)

Why am I not surprised that while people are lining up for every other ethnicity, only one can be found who thinks being Jewish is the way to go? The rabbi's response--"DNA, schmeeNA"--is classic, but a better answer might have been what Estelle Costanza said to Susan Ross, when Susan told Estelle, re: George, "I love your son": "May I ask why?"

My guess as to why our friend John Haedrich, otherwise a gentile, feels such a pressing need to be a citizen of the land of hummus and zatar? I'm thinking someone watched Yossi and Jagger a few too many times and got carried away. OK, fine, that someone is me--statistically, it's likely that Haedrich prefers the ladies--but that movie is really the best argument for aliyah ever invented.

"Schmeena," for what it's worth, should be a word. Or perhaps, if nothing else, a brand of organic yogurt. Pronounced "schMEEna," not "schmeehnAY." Or, if the organic yogurt happens to be Israeli, "schmeeNAH."

Before this gets really incoherent, to sleep.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I recently wrote about Andrew Sullivan's all-out campaign to preserve the traditional, manly, institution that is... back hair. Turns out Sullivan's not the only right-leaning blogger put off by the waxed human form. Ross Douthat is "nostalgic for the Hippies," harkening back to a time when women left everything down there as is, when "Brazilian" was a nationality, not a bikini wax, when....right.

The conservative defense of untouched body hair makes perfect sense. Because when you think about it, increased hairlessness is the ultimate symbol for human progress. Not just in a Darwinian sense--both evolution and trends in waxing have brought us as a society to this near-hairless point. Revolutions topple massive, stale, powdered wigs. The undefinable-but-so-much-better past conservatives so frequently invoke (parodied here) was a simpler time, a more innocent time, and, gosh darn it, a hairier time.

Good books lately

Today, I hit up two of the places that make NYC impossible to leave: the Strand and Chelsea Market's Buon Italia. At the Strand, I got this and this--should keep me busy for a while. As always, the question of where exactly these books were when I was writing my BA came to mind. Pierre Birnbaum is basically who I want to be when I grow up, and until today I'd never even heard of him!

Monday, April 10, 2006


1) Some read Playboy for the articles. I read Andrew Sullivan's libertarian "political blog" for the, um, social commentary. He links to this, which "so true" wouldn't even begin to cover. But then, there is his ongoing obsession with "bears," a subset of the gay male population that is/prefers hairy, burly guys with beards. While plenty of otherwise serious bloggers make occasional mention of what they go for, the norm is celebrity crushes, not technicalities such as a preference for back hair. Not sure why Sullivan wants all back hair to stay put, not just that of whichever gentleman whose back hair he most frequently encounters. Regardless, I guess in a way Sullivan's frankness is refreshing because he is, at least according to maybe half his readership, a conservative, and how many conservatives discuss not only being gay, but which particular features they like which way on members of the same sex? How many drop these musings in along with super-serious posts on Iraq, Iran, and partisan politics? But at the same time, back hair? While I agree with Sullivan that men waxing is not the most appealing idea, back hair should be tolerated, not celebrated, and while two individuals (both men, hopefully) with back hair should be allowed to wed, for god's sake, don't allow those with back hair to be, like, open about it.

2) What does it say about me that my first thought, upon noting the return of the mouse, was quick, let me get to the Peeps before the mouse does! OK, my second thought, after where the hell are those sticky traps and might putting a little bit of feta onto a trap help the cause? On the bright side, I suppose this means the search for chometz is pretty much taken care of, or would be if I did that sort of thing.

3) Al di la, otherwise known as the best restaurant ever, does have a cheese option for dessert. In case you were concerned, as I was. Not an official possibility, but the waitress overheard me saying I wondered why there was no cheese as a dessert option, and pointed out that there's a cheese plate on the bar menu. Cheese plates are sort of ridiculous--you could just go to Zabar's and do it yourself, no preparation needed, and unlike sushi there's no issue of trusting a restaurant's product more than a store's--but sometimes you're not on 80th Street, and cheese just sounds that much better than sorbet. And relatedly, I'm going to have to agree with Will Baude that Humboldt Fog is some fantastic cheese--I tried it recently, and it is, in fact, enough better than Bucheron to justify several more dollars a pound. So much for Francophilia--the American version wins, hands down. But until J.Crew comes within so much as a mile (or kilometer?) of agnes b. the France obsession shall remain. (And yes, technically J.Crew and agnes b. are barely a block apart, in Soho, but you get the idea).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Oh, still here

I have a new job--not so new anymore, but in any case, it has a different schedule, and cuts into my blogging time. And emailing time--if I owe you an email, it's on its way. But, various updates:

1) Hair is back to baseline. Texture's a bit weird from having been dyed a billion times before returning to dark brown, but otherwise it's beautiful and I rock. Oh yeah! (thank you, Katherine, who finished that sentence for me while I was in the bathroom. And the turn from a "political" blog about France and Jews to a teenager's livejournal is hereby complete.)

2) I may be starting a magazine with someone who happens to be French and Jewish and interested in some of the same (non-hair-related) things as I am. It's likely to be online-only, since where exactly would we get paper? It may happen. It may not. Updates if it does.

3) Is there a way to (re)learn languages within a couple months, one that, at least initially, does not require actually going to another country? Or, for that matter, getting off the couch?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Roots in Park Slope

From Overheard:

Bag lady: Hey, you guys, can you help me out? I'm really hungry!...You need a dye job, you know! Your roots are showing.

--Park Slope

As far as I know, this was not directed at me, but it sure might have been. Today is the day to attempt to remedy the situation. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"All this great music"

Gawker has a "looking at the Look Book" feature on Tuesdays, but I'm looking at the Look Book right now, so I'll give it a go first. This week, New York Magazine (or is it the NYT?) features "Molly Carroll, singer/artist/writer," and here is the final question-and-answer:

Is there anything in New York you’re dying to see?

Isn’t there a Jewish part with lots of old jazz? Jewish New Yorkers make all this great music, I’ve heard.

Yeah we do!

But more importantly, which neighborhood could this artistic Londoner possibly mean? Jews... this could be Borough Park, Midwood, or the Upper West Side, but it's NYC, so really, where aren't there Jews? "Jazz"--is this a euphemism for "African-Americans"? Yeah, why not. Blacks can also be found all over the city, but are apparently harder to come by these days. So we've got her Jews and her blacks--jazz, along with blacks and Jews, makes me think she should try Chicago, but never mind. The only things I could suggest for her are Crown Heights (simultaneously black and Jewish, if not on the same streets) or Woody Allen at the Carlyle.

Monday, April 03, 2006

What am I reading?

The new New York Times website sure looks familiar. And with articles about yoga-as-synagogue-perk and Long Island girls dieting pre-Cancun, oh, and the blonde women of the Upper East Side, the Times starts to look an awful lot like New York Magazine content-wise as well. Which means that I'm having a lot of trouble telling which site I'm reading at any given time.

It's a hard life. I'm also concerned with dyeing my hair back to its natural color, now that it's approaching the dreaded halfway mark (half-roots, half-reddish). Or more accurately, getting it dyed back to something approaching dark brown, since I trust Duane Reade for most things, but not this. I'm bracing myself for spending something between $50 and $80 on this corrective procedure--it apparently costs $500 a month to remain blonde, so I suppose being a former-and-soon-to-be-once-more brunette is, alas, discount.

Despite its unforgivable New York Magazine-esque vibe, I really like this, from the NYT piece on UES blondes:

She may have made a career simply out of shopping, getting oxygen facials and taking classes in screenwriting. Without question, however, she has a weakness for cushion-cut diamonds and espresso macchiato at Sant Ambroeus on upper Madison Avenue.

I suppose "made a career out of" is an indirect way of saying, "found a man to pay for." With the part-red, part-brown thing I currently have going on, I'm thinking I'll have to stick with making a career out of espresso macchiato and not having any idea what "cushion-cut diamonds" is referring to.

Still here...

This blog still exists, I think. While I would like to say the lull was the result of a hard-partying four-day weekend, but along with some partay (if partay includes a blissfully mouse-free night of staying in and cooking pasta) there was some work and quite a bit of Zionism and the Fin de Siecle. Other reading has included this continuation of the cuddle-puddle theme--Stuyvesant debauchery revealed. Yes, Stuyvesant students smoke pot and get high, um, SATs, although I was a bit disappointing on both fronts. How this is worthy of a book is beyond me, but again, perhaps if I were a stoner and a better test-taker, I'd understand.