9.30.2004

Beatrice points out two good readings by women writers on Thursday evening (tonight) in New York.

-Lauren

9.29.2004

It's so hilarious when you first start a blog and you feel like everything is ripe for commentary, I mean - women writers and the literary world - honestly, one could go on for days and days... but that seems like it requires essays. And you know, that whole thing about women writers and the lack of critical coverage that we are always bitching about, well that generally lends itself to scarcity on ye olde google news.

So I am maybe coming up a little short this week. I had a horrible cold for most of it and was sick, but now I am feeling better but still not totally fired up as they say. I was doing a search for intriguing news to share with you, but that soon devolved: first "chick lit" - always blah and nothing more, good for annoying bits and little else, and then "women writers" slightly better but nothing made the earth move; likewise, "women" and "literature." So then I really started clicking around and generally feeling uninspired, and googling random things and not really coming up with anything worth mentioning here. And then I sort of half-absent-mindedly googled "feminist sex bomb."

And get this - it leads to absolutely nothing interesting! I was totally shocked. I mean, I'm not quite sure what I expected to find, but it's an intriguing enough turn of a phrase. And so after overcoming my disappointment that there weren't 4,000,000 fabulous hits to sift through, I was like, what exactly is a "feminist sex bomb"? At first I thought of '60s student-radical Bernardine Dohrn, since I just watched The Weather Underground the other day, but honestly, that's more of a literal expression in her case. Anyway, any ideas for a working definition of "feminist sex bomb"? Any nominations?

-Lauren

We here at Camp Cupcake welcome anything Ms. Martha can do for us. A little tidying, a little boost in the decor, a little strategic planning, a little empire-building, we're all for it. Just wanted to say.

--Elizabeth
I am doing that thing where I have sent 72 emails so far this morning and I know that I am banking my social, effective, normal-person working-time in-the-worldness because at some point, January? I don't know when--I am going to go hide in the woods and write dreamy wild unearthly fiction again and not talk to anyone but my mom and my two best friends for two or three weeks.

For now, everything is so busy trying to create our own little world here at Cupcake. We are working to create documentation of just how bad it is for women in the top echelon of literary publications. And we are going to start an activist effort in 2005. And we want to reach out to Women's Studies departments. And we are working on bringing you regular book reviews.

So if you want to become involved with any of this, please email me: ecm11@verizon.net. We have so much fun at Cupcake, let me tell you.

You know how you read, say, InStyle magazine or watch too much network television and feel like total crap? And then you pick up BUST or something, you watch a beautiful soulful movie, you just sit there and listen to the Clash for an hour, or you talk to your smart amazing funny friends, and you're back on planet earth and having a good time and not buying into the edge of consumer panic that's always kind of threatening? That's what it feels like to work on Cupcake! It's not even work, it's just a big party with a point to it.

xo
--Elizabeth

9.28.2004

I just finished Rent Girl, the new illustrated novel/memoir by Michelle Tea and Laurenn McCubbin, and honestly, I can't recommend highly enough. After hearing lots of favorable buzz, I picked the book up at Bluestockings on my way to Cupcake last Friday night.

Aside from being a fast, fun read, Rent Girl is a really amazing project, in that it's truly collaborative, with Tea and McCubbin both contributing indispensable elements of the story, which is an unflinching, very personal look at one woman's experience as a prostitute. Oh yeah, and it's totally hilarious, in a gritty, glamour-gone-awry sort of way.

Michelle Tea was recently interviewed by Bookslut, and named The Outsiders as one of her early influences: "Literally I slept with it and wondered if I could be in love with a book and was that weird, my feelings for it were so strong."

Both Tea and McCubbin were recently interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle.

If you're new to Michelle Tea's work (as I was), the article notes:
"Valencia" captured the 2000 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction, was selected by the Voice Literary Supplement as one of the top 25 books of the year, and earned an award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation for young female writers. Tea's third book, "The Chelsea Whistle," was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the autobiography category, and was selected by The Chronicle as one of the top 100 books of 2002.
She also edited Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class, an anthology that boats contributions from such luminaries as Dorothy Allison, Diane Di Prima, Eileen Myles, and more.

Also noted:
Tea says her biggest challenge in writing the stories in "Rent Girl" was to strike a balance of how to portray the tricking life. "I wanted to talk about the reality of it as an occupation, a job," she says, tapping long fingers on the table. "As opposed to the way it always gets portrayed in our culture as a pathology, or a fantasy. Or something that is completely tragic, or totally empowering, with no hint of sadness."
...
Tea laughs unexpectedly.

"When Laurenn and I were at Comic-Con [the international conference of comics] in San Diego in June -- which is really boys' town -- I noticed that all of these guys were buying the book. But I ran into some of them at this party and they told me that we had ruined their girl-on-girl fantasy forever. I guess they saw the pictures and read about the male behaviors and it made them sort of sick."

She pauses, and smiles. "So that was exciting."
The second interview notes that there are also more projects in the works for the duo:
"Rent Girl" is only the beginning for Tea and McCubbin. "We want to work on a more typical comic format, with panels and speech balloons," McCubbin says. They are shopping for a publisher for a work tentatively titled "Carrier."

Working in a more traditional format would be new to McCubbin, who didn't grow up as a comic book geek. Besides "shoplifting the odd issue of 'X-Men,' " her interest in cartoon art was piqued by the more literary work of the Hernandez brothers ("Love and Rockets") and other independent publications. It's not surprising that McCubbin would avoid mainstream works: The comic art world is dominated by teenage boys, and the men who draw for them. Both McCubbin and Robbins [Trina Robbins, author of the "Go Girl" comic series and feminist cartoon art historian] welcome the current graphic-novel craze. Robbins says, "Graphic novels are the hope of the future. More women are working in comics than ever, which is wonderful, and if graphic novels can be sold in bookstores, more women will be reading them. Really, I can't stress the importance of getting comics out of the comic book stores. They are like porn stores for juvies."

McCubbin is equally direct: "I hope that it means that we can get away from the garbage that most comic publishers put out. I am fully in support of any attempt to give good work the recognition it deserves, any attempt to raise cartoon art above juvenilia"
Women writers creating graphic novels and comics are a subject near and dear to us here at Cupcake, and we are blessed to have had Phoebe Gloeckner (Diary of a Teenage Girl, A Child's Life and Other Stories) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, Persepolis 2) as readers in the past. Elizabeth has also written on the topic.

Both SF Chronicle articles linked above are also worth reading for separate looks at how each contributor approached her work for the book. Apparently, McCubbin relied on hundreds of photographs to create composites for the sharp, punky illustrations, which are really impressive in how casually rendered they seem while conveying an uncanny naturalness to each scene.

New Yorkers take note, as Michelle and Laurenn will be appearing at Cheryl B.'s Atomic Reading Series on October 8, with Rachel Kramer Bussel and Melody Henry. It's billed as "A Special Atomic Presentation: Book Party for "Rent Girl" by Michelle Tea and Laurenn McCubbin." 8-10pm, $5. Definitely a must-do event.

Rachel has a few other stops on the Rent Girl tour listed here.

-Lauren

9.27.2004

There are lots of great readings by fabulous women authors, and of course, some talented men too, this week in New York.

-Lauren

This just in last Friday from Eleanor Smeal, publisher of Ms. Magazine:
In U.S. elections, women count - to be more precise, women count more. On Nov. 2, 2004, some 8 million more women than men will vote. Right now, women are the majority of undecided voters.

According to Zogby Interactive polls, released just last night, this presidential race is in a "virtual dead heat." Every vote counts. Neither Bush nor Kerry hold a clear cut lead in the electoral college. Zogby, as of September 21, places the electoral count at Kerry 264, Bush 241, with two states (Arkansas and Florida) too close to call. But several other battleground states also are razor-thin.

I know you have been seeing national polls with Bush having a far greater lead. But beware of the polls this year. Some national polls, including Gallup and Newsweek, have a larger percentage of Republicans in their sample than are believed to be the percentage in the electorate. Plus several polls are asking questions right before the presidential preference question that favor Bush. Are we to be surprised by the corporate media pollsters?

Ironically, I am using Zogby polls. Zogby is the Wall Street Journal pollster - certainly no liberal rag. But Zogby was one of the few pollsters to virtually predict the outcome in 2000 and Zogby is one of the few polls releasing publicly gender data with their state polls. Plus, Zogby's percentage of Democrats (39%), Republicans (35%), and Independents (26%) in its samples is consistent with the last two elections.

Here's the Zogby data by state. Everywhere Kerry is leading in the battleground states - it is with the women, young people, and Independents breaking his way. Everywhere Bush is leading, it is with men and Independents breaking with him. The gender gap in every key state is the decisive difference.

So beware of nationwide polls - look principally at statewide battleground polls - and watch the gender gap. Maybe finally with the race coming down to the wire both candidates will talk to women and women's issues. There are more of us - and remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said: "It's up to the women."


--Elizabeth

9.26.2004

As you no doubt know by now, we here at Cupcake wouldn't be satisfied unless we were fully occupied 24 hours a day. Elizabeth teaches writing, Jen does comedy shows and manages a chic bistro... And me? I'm looking for a job, so consider this a PSA.

-Lauren

9.24.2004

Wow! I just got back from post-Cupcake dinner at comfort-food sanctuary Starfoods with Elizabeth and Jen and #1 Cupcake fans Bryan and George. Tonight's Cupcake was so best. Marjane was amazing.

There were SO MANY things that she said that I wish now that I had written down. She talked about her childhood, leaving Iran and moving to Austria as a teenager, living in France, and her experiences traveling around the U.S. on her book tour. And lots more, including common misperceptions she hears about Iran and the importance of speaking your mind. She is very cool and fabulous and if you haven't read Persepolis and Persepolis 2, do get with the program.

Bryan and George both independently counted at least 150 people there -- it was madness, but in the best possible way. We were delighted that lots of new people discovered the hardest working reading series in show biz.

Elizabeth and Jen will have more eloquent accounts later, I am sure. If you were there tonight, we'd love to get your comments (although maybe not if all you focused on was that it was hot and that space ran out quickly -- baby, I got that memo, loud and clear).

xo,
Lauren

Probably the last post from me today - although Jen or Elizabeth may chime in at some point this afternoon - as we are busy getting ready for a special, bonus Cupcake this month, with Marjane Satrapi at 7pm at Lolita TONIGHT!

Marjane lives in Paris, and has been traveling the world over to promote her new book, Persepolis 2, and we are so thrilled that she will be joining us tonight to discuss her work and answer your questions. Bluestockings will have books available for sale at the event.

Visit HQ for details.

-Lauren

Maud notes an interesting perspective on the new wave of books by women who are writing unapologetic accounts of their ravenous sexual escapades, real and embellished.

I haven't read any of the books mentioned yet, although they have always looked intriguing from a distance in an empowering, at-least-I-wouldn't-be-disappointed-when-she-quits-her-job-to-get-married kind of way.

All I have to say is that the title of Maud's post - "Chick lit successors even make fucking tedious" - is reason enough to hop, skip, or jump over there right away.

-Lauren

Today I was on my way home when I passed by this nice old guy who I always see selling used books in my neighborhood, and I felt like I should stop to check it out, and no matter what, buy one book. Easier said then done, as he had, shall we say, a rather eclectic selection - not really eclectic titles like the booksellers on the streets near NYU often have, but more like mostly books that are lost, out-of-print, and totally forgotten for a reason.

Anyway, I looked at them all, and finally walked away with Normal Men, Desperate Women, a sort of parody answer to the Men Who Hate Women & The Women Who Love Them/Codependent No More megahits of the '80s self-help craze that forms the basis of Bridget Jones' Diary and its ilk.

While I would not suggest that you go out of your way to read this book, it does offer some amusement here and there, e.g. "Credo 9: 'I'm Not a Misogynist, You're a Male-Directed Misanthrope:'"
One little "Sorry, dear, I don't agree with you," or "Fuck you, bitch, what do you know?" and we're labeled misogynists or women-haters.
So true, boys. So true. I feel like I have actually heard those exact words before, and not in a satirical context -- they usually come out of the mouth of someone who still says "P.C" and describes a woman as a feminist like that's not the bomb.

-Lauren

9.23.2004

Sometimes I feel sorry for men who over-exert themselves while trying to sound like intellect-driven, self-motivated haters; I really do. Like this poor boy.

His "pro"-prostitution ranty thing is quite literally the least controversial editorial I've ever read. It's almost like chick lit -- that bad.

As I was reading it, I couldn't help but think that his writerly voice is that of a really, really annoying person from Tucson who sits next to you on a cross-country flight after you already thought you'd repaid your karmic debt in full by getting a middle seat in coach.

Noted, "Sex without betrayal I found meaningless." Riiiiiggght. I'm not entirely sure that this piece wasn't ghost-written by a teenage girl. They're so much more heartless than grown men, anyway.

[via Arts & Letters Daily]

-Lauren

9.22.2004

Nichelle aspires to publishing a book someday, but it won't be chick lit. Read her funny little not-to-do list here. Noted:
3. I don’t fool around with guys from work. I know the ABCs of dating at work. They are either assholes, boring or conservatives.
So true. I don't get why so much chick lit finds "the man" cardboard-cutout-as-character at work, either. Does that ever work out in real life?

I feel like a better take on the standard chick lit scenario would be an anthology of truly horrible workplace dating stories, entitled, of course, Work It, Girl. You read it here first.

-Lauren

"The real war is not between the West and the East. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people. There is much more in common between George Bush and the fanatics in my country than between me and the fanatics of my country."

Read more Marjane Satrapi interviewed at Powells.com.

--Elizabeth
WWJD?

--Elizabeth (as if I'm not sick enough with this cold)

P.S. Read this you right wing bitches . . .
Margaret Cho on Martha Stewart:

Pie crust was vitally important to the state of the pie, therefore the arduous labor put into the creation of one was nothing to complain about. The very thought of a rolling pin makes my carpal tunnel ache and pop. I couldn't ever do any of this. If I ever bought a gift for anyone in the first place, it generally comes in the bag it was purchased in, usually slightly wrinkled because it has been sitting in my car for three days. The receipt is always in there, as an accent piece, and in case you want to return it, the same reason why I leave the price tag on. I think if I ever made anything for one of my friends, like brought over jars of homemade grapefruit-cilantro sea salt body scrub or gooseberry-chanterelle mushroom marmalade, that I would be looked at with intense superstition and careful questioning about my use of crystal methamphetamine. . . .

If she was a bitch, who cares? If she was a mean boss, so what? There are a million and more mean bosses. Lots of people don't take to power very well, and yet if you imprisoned all those who abused their position, you would have more people in jail than out. If she was guilty of insider trading, why do we care? Her greed doesn't affect me in the least, besides being an example of a bad woman. Perhaps that was what was too expensive. If letting Martha off meant condoning capitalist greed for women, then of course she would have to serve time.
--Elizabeth


9.21.2004

Cupcake co-director JEN KIRWIN joins a fine line-up of some very funny people for a comedy show Wednesday night at Southpaw. Do check it out if you're in the neighborhood. 10:00pm, FREE.

-Lauren
I have such a cold today, oh my god. So it's all I can do to link you to Gawker, people: check out their Princess Superstar interview.

Princess Superstar is such a Cupcake, I must say. She started her own label and has taken responsibility for creating an economic model for her life and her art that leaves her integrity and her entire self intact: by doing her own thing she gets to be brilliant, sexual, entrepreneurial, bad-assed, girly (check the hilarious speed-dating article in New York magazine in which she pins a flower in her hair so as not to scare off the nice Jewish boys), political, and whatever the hell else she feels like, on account of because. She is anti-chick lit personified, complete with a potty mouth, just like us.

xo
--Elizabeth

[Here, check this one too, where she explains: "I always remained independent because I felt that was the way I was really going to be the most creative and most innovative, and have the most sticking power. I'm so grateful that I did because although I worked my ass off, it's paying off now."]

9.17.2004

Next Friday's Cupcake is spotlighted in the Fall Books issue of the Village Voice. Noted:
When Marjane Satrapi's first boyfriend invited her on a date to an Austrian "Revolutionary Anarchists' Party," she knew it was love. A child of the Iranian revolution, she gleefully imagined mobs of radicals roaring, "Long live Bakunin!" But when she got to the party, her feelings for her boyfriend "suffered a devastating blow." The so-called revolutionaries were playing tag, listening to Janis Joplin, and grilling sausages.
I know what she means, as I once had a friend who was passionate about playing in the local anarchist soccer league. Having always equated anarchists with being mostly occupied by smashing windows at starbucks/the machinery of capitalism, I didn't get the whole weekend soccer thing. Besides, it was never quite clear who was supposed to bring the ball.

-Lauren

9.16.2004

From the Guardian, one more reminder of how too much insipid content in one's literary diet, in a perhaps less dainty form here, gets us all in trouble:
But, as one of W's Yalie frat brothers tells Kelley, it's not the substance abuse in Bush's past that's disturbing, it's the "lack of substance ... Georgie, as we called him, had absolutely no intellectual curiosity about anything. He wasn't interested in ideas or in books or causes. He didn't travel; he didn't read the newspapers; he didn't watch the news; he didn't even go to the movies. How anyone got out of Yale without developing some interest in the world besides booze and sports stuns me." New Yorker writer Brendan Gill recalls roaming the Kennebunkport compound one night while staying there looking for a book to read - the only title he could find was The Fart Book.
--Elizabeth
People come to this site searching for all sorts of things, however, this particular snapshot is particularly fabulous:

best search terms ever.

Is there a Jane Campion pit bull site somewhere in the ether? An exciting new side project to her filmmaking, perhaps? Is this something we should start, if not?

-Lauren
Once again the astute and lyrical Jessica Hopper:
I really must switch books soon, I really must. All the books I am reading, the men heroes, as young boys, their fathers lie to them, imbue them with horrifyingly strange mythology about women and sex, abandon them - behaviour guised and written off as teaching them how to be a man - as in I will cheat you because the world will cheat you. From the men I love and know and the men whom I sit in doorstoops smoking and talking with, I know this is the truth, how it happens much of the time. These men in my life, really, they are good men, they are brothers in struggle, they are good feminists. But they are deep down afraid women will steal their souls, they cannot cry even when they are broken in two, they feel incredible silent social pressure to make more money because one day they will be expected to provide, they drink alone at home most nights with the TV on shrouded in sex-guilt and emptiness, they date down in order to preserve a power-paradigm and never have to commit. They are scared as the rest of us.
Read the rest here.

I somehow never thought of it as a phenomenon before, a trend, this thing where your guy friends "date down"--in my life, generally, with a couple exceptions, I don't do so well being friends with guys like that, the friendships just kind of evaporate. In retrospect, I think it's because they can feel me being super embarrassed for them. Pity is not an emotion I'm good at hiding, neither is disgust. Guys are so much more intuitive than they get credit for--most guys can feel it really strongly if you're cringing and thinking they're insecure and sad to need to date a blowup doll in hipster pants.

In 1998 I called a generally sweet California guy friend out on his vacation-update email from Paris in which the bulk of his enthusiasm was for the women being "thin, but with big tits!" He then went on to lay some philosophy on me about his most recent relationship back in SF, how great she was because while they didn't talk too much, she always had lots and lots of weed, and was therefore the ideal woman--he was not joking about this, but making an actual, straightforward point to this effect.

More. . .


9.15.2004

Other impressions:

Sacramento is the New New York senses a conspiracy!

Nichelle Newsletter had some fun! As did La Depressionada!

Eurotrash posted what she read last night! So did Blaise! And Maccers!

Maud has a hangover! L'emmerdeur has a cosmic moment! Cheryl B. can relate!

We love Beatrice, and Beatrice loves Cupcake!

-Lauren
Thanks to everyone who attended Cupcake last night. Our biggest turnout to date!

I am so excited for Marjane Satrapi's reading on Sept 24th. Here's an audio/interview where she talks about running away from her life in Iran and winding up on the streets in Vienna at age fourteen! And to think, at that age I was scribbling I 'heart' John Taylor in my social studies notebook.

xo
Jen
Last night's Cupcake reading was just dazzling, thanks to our amazing, fabulous line-up:

Maud did us the great favor of guest hosting, which was so best. In between, Maud and I talked some trash about some random people we both know, which made me think, wouldn't it be fun if there was a blogger gossip column where one could send blind items? You can send them here for now.

Jami is back from a summer of writing in Napa, and read a terrific new story about the travails of dating a boy that your mother adores.

Blaise asked the crowd to pretend that we were 22-year old Bennington grads at commencement, and then gave us lots of v. important life advice in a hilarious commencement address about how to stay thin and clever.

Emma read a finely wrought story about the dark side of love, that we're very much looking forward to reading more of sometime soon.

Rachel gave new meaning to cupcakes with an amazing story about getting some in a bakery. And she brought some to share, which was very sweet, as Elizabeth and Jen and I have become far too lazy to bake.

Maccers killed us with her disclosure of her (fictitious?) affair with Dick Cheney, and all of the uncomfortable situations that undisclosed locations entail. For instance, the nuisance of having to constantly revive your boyfriend while the two of you hide out in a cave.

Eurotrash, who we were warned was a tough act to follow, totally delivered with a scathingly funny story of her roots and the hell she inflicted on other people before giving up misery for good.

Elizabeth (Spiers) finished the night off brilliantly with tales of her early childhood exploits, and the hazards of not heeding your mother's warnings.

Poor Nathalie, her laptop died and she lost her story, so we're going to have her back for a reading this fall.

Again, a tremendous thank you to all of our ladies who blog, and thanks also to the huge crowd that turned out. Lots of familiar faces, and lots of new ones too, and of course, lots of people who are almost famous (on the internet).

In addition to the usual post-event emails, I also got one about a "missed connection," which I passed along, so I think I can safely say that our work is done, until the next Cupcake: September 24, featuring Marjane Satrapi.

xo,
Lauren

PS If you went, please post to the comments - Elizabeth (Merrick) had to go teach at NYU, and couldn't stay for the whole evening and she's terribly sad to have missed it. So she'd love to hear what you thought if you were in attendance.

Want some more Cupcake? Last night's eight lovely ladies not enough for you?

Go check out our own Jen Kirwin tonight at 8:30 at The Comedy Pro Shop, at Mod, 505 Columbus b/t 84th and 85th. Here's the scoop:

This week's lineup:

Leo Allen (writer for Saturday Night Live), Laurie Kilmartin (writer for Tough Crowd), Jonathan Corbett (Premium Blend, Chappelle's Show)
Bob Powers (How to Kick People, NY Press), Jen Kirwin(Last Comic Standing, Cupcake), and the host Rob P. (just back from an exclusive engagement in McMinnville, Oregon)

Wed 9.15.04 8:30 pm
The Comedy Pro Shop
@ Mod
505 Columbus Ave., between 84th & 85th
no cover, no minimum
212.989.3600

See you there

--Elizabeth

9.14.2004

I have a blinding headache right now (too many details to count + sugar + smoking at the break + booze = oooh), but I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who came out for a smashing, fabulous all-around good time at the first Cupcake of the new season. There's plenty more where that came from. More tomorrow.

xo
Lauren
Last night I attended the Bust Magazine party at Serena. I left feeling a little blue. Maybe it was from all of the pink, sugary Cosmos I had consumed or was it because I didn't win the pink vibrating dildo that was being raffled off?

Whatever the reason, I needed cheering up and so I read this. Jill Soloway is my idol!

see you tonight at cupcake!

Jen
Oh thank heavens, people are finally coming around...

Harvey Weinstein at Miramax passed (fourth item) on film rights to Kristin Gore's post-it note of a novel, which Ana Marie Cox reviewed in the tragically hip New York Times.

According to the Daily News:

"'We had the first option for the movie, but the truth is we're all chick-litted out. We have 'Nanny Diaries' coming up and 'I Don't Know How She Does It,' Weinstein told us."

I put my favorite part of that quote in bold because I love it! (Ignore the second part, re: the Nanny crap) Please let that be the new mantra for culture vultures everywhere.

-Lauren
Laugh out loud Cupcake favorite Dong Resin has written a wickedly droll new book, and it looks like more of the same.

-Lauren

9.13.2004

We're so excited about tomorrow night's reading, thrilling for so many reasons: it's the first Cupcake after our short summer break, we have 9 truly dazzling, fabulous ladies to present, and, if karma and the butterfly effect can be bastardized and appropriated to my uses here, I like to think that chick lit dies a little bit in some dark corner of the universe everytime a smart woman opens her mouth. Expect that in spades, lovelies.

Not much time for fresh content here today, but The Smart Set, my weekly column of things to do in the city, is up at MaudNewton.com.

Oooh, and so best, I just got word that one of Paris Hilton's book party attendees may post his or her comments under the cloak of anonymity, which will likely confirm the maxim of our media-saturated age, in that I suppose we get exactly what we deserve.

xo,
Lauren

9.10.2004

Speaking of the dire, dire need in this world for more books about clothes, cocktails, and shoes (there is, after all, so VERY much to learn about luxury goods!), you might want to check out Jeanette Winterson, who always manages to be both delightful and substantive. This month, she writes about giving the finger to trivial bullshit.

--Elizabeth
Oh jeez, this is the most hilarious ad copy I've seen in forever. When I lived in Philly I spent a weekend writing samples about picnic tables and ceramic mugs and floral tablecloths to apply for a catalog copy job at Anthropologie and they sort of strung me along then never let me know either way. During that time I went out on a date with a guy who was a freaking suburban slumlord but got all up in my grill about my trying to get such a job "selling people things they don't need." I think he would have been happier if I were weaving little Guatemalan-y purses and peddling them on South Street. This guy also kept referring to his previous stressful life as an engineer as a time when he was addled with emotionally rooted "dis-ease. You know: Dis. Ease. Dis-ease. Get it?"

I think Californians have a free pass on that one but anyone from Philly running around talking like Louise Hay gets the gas face, no?

Anyway, I think that Anthropologie could totally start its own viral strain of chick-lit. Meghan Daum has mentioned that her website designers went for such a vibe. Last time I was browsing there, Anthropologie only sold a few books--little unabashedly non-literary picture books about clothes and cocktails and, I'm sure, shoes. But keep an eye out--their customers are rich white women in their thirties and forties: the same demographic as the bookclub ladies who buy so very many books. This new trend, I'm thinking: not so much Barbie-pink covers with legs and dumb-ass purses and heels, but muted browns and mauves with ruffly chiffon curtains, antique iron bedframes, and (almost?) sexy granny coats. A new look for fluff. What will the books be about? Who cares. You heard it here first.

--Elizabeth
Supposedly Paris Hilton's book party was tonight -- did anyone cross over to the dark side and go? I'd really love to hear the details if she did a "reading," presuming that she can read, which is highly doubtful.

The best part is that I heard her publisher was being really stingy with the invites. I mean, hello, you're talking about someone who was seen buying her own porn tape. Shouldn't her party be at least as easy to get into as she is?

Speaking of her book, I think it's totally time for another sorority girl book review-- anyone know where I can find a Red Bull-addled, half-wit heiress who can actually string together her own sentences?

-Lauren

I just got back from the Regina Spektor show at the Knitting Factory. She's sort of hard to describe, but NME said that, "discovering Regina Spektor is a thrill akin to being electrocuted by fairy lights," which I think is pretty apt, unless you think that's sort of abstruse, in which case you can go with Interview's take, and "think Joni Mitchell meets Bjork."

(PS: Those are the kind of mind-boggling, nerve-jangling run-on sentences I regularly wrote until I took Elizabeth's writing workshop.)

She sang a lot of songs I was really digging, but the catchiest one had a chorus that went:
you haven't even got good credit
you can write, but you can't edit edit edit edit edit.
Seriously, she's superb, so check her out if you haven't already. She is so talented and funny and fabulously eclectic.

-Lauren

9.09.2004

Like many New Yorkers, I avoid midtown like the plague anyway, so I didn't witness much of the RNC ruckus or pay attention to the "coverage" of it on the "news." Fortunately, I have Low Culture to rely on for reliably funny reportage. This pretty little picture sums up about a thousand words.

-Lauren

This just in from the Feminist Majority Foundation:

"You won't believe what has just happened in Arizona. A local Arizona Fox News reporter said that the University of Arizona Network of Feminist Student Activists (an affiliate of the Feminist Majority Foundation) might be committing an 'unintentional felony' by registering out-of-state students to vote in Arizona. The feminist group was singled out at a student voter registration fair at the University of Arizona.

Even worse, the Fox reporter interviewed an official with the Pima County Recorder's office, Chris Rhodes, who was quoted on-camera as saying that if students are 'only here to attend school and their intention is to immediately return to where they came from when school is over then they are not residents of the state of Arizona for voting purposes and they cannot register to vote here.' He erroneously stated that students would be committing a 'felony offense' if they lied about their residency status.

No wonder college students are under-registered and under-voting! It's not apathy – it is erroneous and misleading information often designed to suppress student voting.

The Arizona County Recorder official could not be more wrong. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lowered the voting age to 18. Voting is a federal right, and the rights of students to register to vote where they attend college is guaranteed by federal law in federal elections. The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly ruled that college communities must allow students to register to vote there (US v Symm) and the Federal Voting Rights Act prohibits states from imposing 'durational residency requirements.'"

Help the Feminist Majority Foundation Get Out Her Vote.

--Elizabeth

9.08.2004

Slate has a pop-up review of MARJANE SATRAPI's Persepolis 2. [via Bookslut].

In case you forgot (which I know you didn't, since even our little venture capitalist friends have the date in their blackberrys), Marjane will be discussing her work at a special Cupcake on Friday, September 24!

So tell your assistant, write it on the back of your hand, scrawl it in lipstick on your bathroom mirror - whatever! We'll see you then. Rumor has it that fabulous, activist, independent bookseller Bluestockings will have books for sale at the event. I'll confirm here when we know for sure.

And as long as we're on the subject, have you signed up for the low-traffic Cupcake list? It's the best way to get the good news first.

-Lauren

JENNY DAVIDSON, the so fabulous author of HEREDITY, one of my absolutely favorite books ever, who read a great excerpt at our second ever Cupcake in July 2003, has a blog. Do check it out, post-haste. She discusses all things interesting and literary, and notes that she is working on another novel, which I am sure will be divine!

HEREDITY comes with one of the most amazing review blurbs ever: The New York Times Book Review asserts that "one of the novel's most refreshing aspects is Davidson's steadfast refusal to invest Elizabeth with the base-line likeability that American readers seem to demand in their fictional heroines."

Heredity is a great example about how you can write a book about a strong, smart young woman who likes to sleep around and do whatever the hell she wants, in a sexy, interesting setting, with a twisty plot, and not have it be anything even remotely resembling the rote "chick lit" that makes me want to vomit everytime I walk into Barnes & Noble. Poor Mary-Kate -- do you think that's her problem, too?

-Lauren

I know this may be all too 1992 of me, but this was just on Gawker Stalker today:
This morning I saw James "The Ragin' Cajun" Carville jogging up Fifth Avenue, likely taking advantage of the newly Republican-free streets. He was sporting grotty black shorts, a red t-shirt and white gym socks pulled up to his knees. I didn't notice his sneakers, but you couldn't miss the X-TREME sunglasses he was wearing.
What I want to know is why isn't the pitbull that lives inside Carville emanating through John Kerry's voice and features on my television right now, pointing out the fact that the Bush administration just massively cut overtime pay for millions of American workers?

Maybe Bryan can explain this to me.

--Elizabeth
Irresistible flash animation conspiracy video of the day, via Margaret Cho.

--Elizabeth
Amy Taubin over at Ms. has written a lovely article on women in documentary film, which investigates, among other things, one nook of the pattern of women rocking out in any field where there isn't a whole lot of money at stake.
The new visibility is a boon to women filmmakers who, for over three decades, have thrived in the documentary field as they still do not in Hollywood or the indie world. According to the Directors Guild of America statistics, female directors logged 7.4 percent of total member workdays on fiction features in 1999. Similarly, only three women — Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion and Lina Wertmüller — have been nominated for Oscars in the Best Director category, and none has won.

--Elizabeth




9.07.2004

Hey everybody. I'm really busy getting ready to teach my new fall writing workshops, so I'm a bad, bad blogger this week. But the workshops (for both fiction and nonfiction writers) are looking like a powerhouse this round--really wonderful students involved. I have a few spots left if anyone is interested: go check out this workshop information (thank you, Lauren!) and/or shoot me an email at ecm11@verizon.net.

--Elizabeth

9.06.2004

The Smart Set, my weekly column of "bookish" things to do in the city, is up at MaudNewton.com.

-Lauren

9.04.2004

Finally, a reason to watch the Late, Late Show, as the brilliant AMY SEDARIS is announced as one of a quartet of rotatating guest hosts that will start Sept. 20.

As The New York Post notes, "For the first time since Joan Rivers was touted as Johnny Carson's replacement in the late 1980s, a young female comic is the front-runner for a job behind the desk of a late night TV show."

-Lauren

9.03.2004

The truth is, I was so worried about all of our fates last night that I told my father that he could definitely forget grandchildren if that criminal gets "re-elected." I was feeling so grateful to Marjane Satrapi not just for her wonderful books but for giving the very timely heads up on how to survive a totalitarian regime with your soul intact.

But then Shana sent her extended posse this Michael Moore article and let me tell you, my inbox has rarely lifted my mood so quickly:
For some reason, all of this has scared the bejabbers out of the Democrats. I can hear the wailing and moaning from Berkeley, Calif., to Cambridge, Mass. The frightening scenes from the convention have sent John Kerry's supporters looking for the shovels so they can dig their underground bunkers in preparation for another four years of the Dark Force.

I can't believe all of this whimpering and whining. Kerry has been ahead in many polls all summer long, but the Republicans come to New York for one week off-Broadway and suddenly everyone is dressed in mourning black and sitting shivah?
Read the rest of today's USA Today article and get back in the fight.

--Elizabeth

9.01.2004

The fabulous Jessica Hopper, aka the reason I subscribed to Punk Planet, has me totally geeked-out with laughter as she recounts her recent experience DJ-ing a Veteran Feminists of America party:
My mind was broken, I loved it.

These "little old ladies" - with their white hair and pleated front slacks are invisble to the world. Like Stealth Bombers. They are everything we do not expect from the recently AARP'd: radical, mouthy, wild-eyed and libidinous after 2 glasses of white wine.

More singing along and a limmerick about a female Pope. The organizer comes over and asks me "Do you have Helen Reddy "I Am Woman"? - we'd like to do that next and would like accompaniment." - Duh, dude, of course. How could I not? That'd be like not having Off The Wall at the cocaine-fashion warehouse party.
Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

-Lauren

I think I just stumbled on our sister organization in the fashion world! You definitely want to check these superstars out at LadyLike WonderWear:
Fashion sluts that we are we do have discriminating taste, and we care about what we wear on our chests. Sick of those cute but dumb shirts that say princess or pornstar? We sure the hell are! So we decided to make our own--hot shirts with substance to them. Shirts that don't perpetuate played out stereotypes. LadyLike WonderWear is your alternative to the fashionable fluff that's driven by our mainstream media. We take the issues that affect women and put them in full frontal view, whether it is motorcycle mamas who have been under-represented in sports history or hard working waitresses who are over-represented in the service industry's work force.
Exactly.

--Elizabeth

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