Hello everybody, I'm back from San Francisco. You know, I am a deeply east coast girl, stewed in Chester County, Pennsylvania (for details of this place, check out Kate Walbert's Our Kind, which is set in my hometown) and a boarding school trial by fire, etc, but I lived in San Francisco for a long time, it was a really magical exploration for me in my twenties.

Not just the pretty precious parts of it, but the weird suburban outposts where some of the CA native artists (because let's be honest--half of San Francisco itself then and these days as well is just in from Wesleyan) had to live in their parents' in-law apartments to get by on their DJ gigs, to the BART going past West Oakland shipyards and Victorians in a line, to the uncannily green hills in winter, to the way peoples faces and hair are closer to the same color than they are here (my explanation: lack of pressure to get to the salon, plus sun). To the schools, so underfunded there was no chalk, on the fringes of the city you had to take three buses to get to. To the weird evergreen/dogpoop/laundry detergent smell of Duboce Park which I lived near in 1995. My house on Hayes was pink and my house on Duboce was aqua and now they are both as beige as can be. Although, I must say, the little restaurants I love, like Kate's Kitchen on lower Haight, for example, are still there, or the infamous Burma Super Star on Clement--these little places have remained, in large part, and I guess I kind of expected them to be gone, changed, gobbled up, as disappeared as the landscape in Chester County. Strange: it feels like California is changing much more slowly than we are here.

I got home to find a review copy of Tori Amos: Piece by Piece waiting for me, and it is in fact all that. I'm so glad Ann Powers is coming to read from this book for us on February 25. Am I allowed to quote from this book on here? Well I am sure some of our readers over at Random House will give me a snap if it's not cool. There's a whole chapter, of course, on Mary Magdalene, which was the first bit Tori submitted to the folks at Doubleday for review. In a conference room on Broadway, surrounded by DaVinci Code promotional material, they gave her the thumbs up to her great relief. Tori says:
And as I looked around at all The Da Vinci Code paraphernalia surrounding me, I glanced up at my publishers and asked, "So then why aren't you guys aggressively seeking to publish the Gospel of Mary Magdalene?"

They looked at me as if I were speaking an alien language and said, "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the Gospel of Mary Magdalene."

With shock they responded, "As in the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Gospels?"

I said, "That is exactly what I'm talking about--a real Gospel, from her perspective."

"Do you mean it was written by her?" they asked.

"Well, no one can prove who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or any of the Gospels. But yes, there is a Gospel attributed to the Magdalene."

"Well when did this happen? Why didn't we hear anything about it?"

"It was discovered in 1895."

My publisher looked over at one of his twelve disciples and said, "Get on the phone with the religion department."
Tori! What a Cupcake. She starts nosing around the publishing world and by her first meeting in the fortress she's boosting other women writers. What a Cupcake, this one.

Good morning cupcakes!

Not much for you here at the mo', I'm afraid. I had a few things in mind, but you'll have to console yourselves with the latest edition of the Smart Set for now, up at MaudNewton.com at 12:30pm. I'll try to post later on if I have time, but this week is going to be hella hectic for me -- although it fortunately features a sweet payoff at the end, with our own Elizabeth's first NYC reading at Bluestockings on Friday!

In the meantime, have you read Beatrice editor Ron's new review of book reviews for Artsjournal? So meta, I know, but ya gotta love it. It's called Beatrix, and it's fabulous. It sounds like the perfect place for some critical commentary on the fact that the New York Observer's Daniel Asa Rose has mentioned blow jobs in two separate reviews of work by women writers lately. Uh, no, I don't know why that is, either.

Definitely check Beatrix out. Also, bonus: Elegant Variation editor Mark is filling in there today, and his claws are sharp. I like that about him.

More later-



I am working on a longer piece about the use of cupcakes as metaphor in conceptual art, but I'll have to put that up later this weekend as I am too busy to devote the necessary time to that examination at the moment.

Today, I popped into Bluestockings, stopped by Lolita (best bar ever, as you know), hit The Mud Truck, and breezed by a few other places in the course of running errands.

One new favorite I discovered is the Sweet Things Cafe, Gallery and Gift Shop, operated by The Lower Eastside Girls Club, a marvelous community-service organization. I got to chatting, as is my way, and found out that they are in need of smart, fabulous women to volunteer time (around 12 hours a month -- like what you spend reading Gawker, right? Admit it.) for their mentoring program. I, of course, offered to put the word out to all you lovely gals.

And lest you darling boys feel left out, you can put that extra .$23 cents you make on a buck toward a donation or some tasty treats at the Sweet Things Bake Shop. Or even better, contact them about organizing a fundraiser.

Everybody, check it out today.

Happy weekend!




Witty, stylish, and beautiful, Maeve Brennan dazzled everyone who met her. Born in Dublin, she came to the U.S. with her father, Ireland's first Ambassador to America, and in her early thirties joined The New Yorker, where she was at the heart of the life of the magazine until she was nearly sixty. Under the pseudonym "The Long-Winded Lady," she wrote matchless urban postcards for the "Talk of the Town," and, under her own name, published fierce, intimate fiction. Today her forty-odd stories are anthology standards, prized by writers as different from one another as Alice Munro and Brennan's own nephew Roddy Doyle. But at the time of her death in 1993, she was obscure, indeed lost: She hadn't published a word since the 1970s, and she had slowly slipped into madness, ending as a bag lady in the streets of midtown Manhattan. It is Angela Bourke's achievement to trace this sad arc, and to bring her compelling personality to life. Thoroughly researched, beautifully written, and filled with a wealth of previously unpublished material, it will be welcomed by anyone interested in Ireland, The New Yorker, and a woman who remains one of the twentieth century's most distinctive prose stylists.
I've just added Angela Bourke's Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the New Yorker to my short list for future reading.

Defying the Hollywood-brand artificial sweetener that fuels Sundance dazzle and Oscar fever, Lisa Rosman lays it out for her readers at the Broad View:
Ladies and the men who attend to us, I have seen the future, and it's all about deleting every storyline and character development out of that novel called your face if you can afford it.
From her marvelously spot-on post, "Manohla Testifies and So Do I."



CAAF, of Tingle Alley, raises an elegant eyebrow at the National Book Critics Circle award nominations:
It’s a nice slate of fiction nominees: Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker; Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty; David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas; Marilynne Robinson, Gilead; and Philip Roth, The Plot Against America. But in discussing these nominees, can we have a moratorium on retroactive bashing of the National Book Award fiction nominees? Haven’t those five women from New York had enough bitter mixed in with their sweetness?

Hasn’t Rick Moody suffered enough?!?

The books in the nonfiction, criticism and biography categories were all written by men with the exception of De Kooning: An American Master, which was cowritten by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.

Just saying.
Read the rest right here.


Pitchaya Sudbanthud (whose excellent Konundrum Engine Literary Review is always looking for women writers to contribute stories, you know...) has a superlative article on local, indie, women-owned used bookseller Freebird Books (which has a stellar reading series of its own, where I first heard February Cupcake Maxine Swann read last summer). Noted:
Back in the summer of 2003, Rachel and Samantha were both working at restaurants in Red Hook, a desolate, working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn that’s catching the eyes of real-estate developers. Rachel had gotten her master’s in creative writing from the New School, and Samantha had come from Montana armed with a degree in literature. One day, while sunbathing on Samantha’s rooftop, they decided they needed to make a change in their careers. “Let’s open up a bookstore,” Samantha suggested.
My affection for this particular story -- and for The Morning News in general -- stems from how rare really good local reporting is in New York, and how easy to recognize and deeply satisfying it is when you finally come across some. Definitely make a beeline for the piece, and for Freebird, too.

Reader Joanna Goddard, who is an editor at Topic magazine, writes in to say:
i read your piece on the lack of female new yorker writers, which was great--and thankfully, i think the magazine is now finally getting a little more female representation.

however....i wanted to email you because i found one of the articles last week ("Funny Boys" by Rebecca Mead) to be sexist and offensive. the subject (four guys running a website, collegehumor.com) was totally out of synch with the rest of the magazine, and, although i think (and hope) the writer Rebecca Mead was trying to be somewhat satirical, she went on and on about their exploits: photographing girl-on-girl action and topless college women, political demonstrations a la Brazilians, braless women in the city, lifted skirts on Marti Gras the beauty of flings with foreign girls...

what do you girls think?  i wrote a salty letter to mail@newyorker.com, and i was wondering if you might also write a note to them, or possibly encourage other cupcake writers to do so...
I personally thought that article, and its subject matter, was some seriously moronic shit, and if I thought they actually had any money -- not like, "tribeca loft rent money" -- I would assume they were key advertisers getting a little love from editorial.

Nonetheless, as is the case with Trent Lott's speeches and Lawrence Summers' junk science, I prefer that stupid claims are made publicly so that at least they're on the record. Still, it must be hard to read that article and realize that's your New Yorker.

Maybe it's a cry for help. The New Yorker needs you. Yes, let's make this our official call to action for today. Write a letter and let the New Yorker know that it doesn't have to go home with the first guy that buys it a drink.

Thanks, Joanna!



Hey everybody. I'm on the west coast all week having myself a time, (did you forget I have that other little blog?). Folks here are very excited to hear about Cupcake and our big endeavors for spring, and the new indie venture I'm starting, Demimonde Books, but I'm almost too happy looking at the trees and breathing the clean air and NOT WEARING A JACKET to talk about it all unless pressed.

I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with Brangien Davis of the stunning Swivel magazine, and it was such a cupcake meeting of the minds. She is one to watch--what great stuff she's up to out here. I recommend ordering a copy now.

Mabel Segun (Surrender and Other Stories)has some interesting things to say about feminism and the literary scene in her native Nigeria:
He said, "why don't you approach one of the female writers to do an article on you," as if women writers have to be written on by women themselves. I told him that, he sounded unreasonable, whether that was how it is done abroad. "Men can not review a woman's work". That was what he told me but, eventually, it was a man who reviewed my works, Funsho Ayejina. That singular action showed you the attitude of most of our male writers towards their female counterparts. As if reviewing a woman's work is something far below his dignity.

By refusing to talk about a woman's work, it amounts also to holding her hands from writing what is the use of writing if nobody gets identified with your works. So, this has been the problem with women's writing and that is what affected me as a person.
There is also a dialogue, available online, between Ms. Segun and Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo that took place in July 2003, sponsored by International PEN, Nigeria Centre. Hot topics discussed include women writers, government suppression, free speech, and self-publishing and contemporary trends in Nigerian literature. Noted,
Mabel Segun: Women now have opportunities for employment. In those days they could only be teachers, or nurses, or what else? Some very few ones became doctors or lawyers. But they were very few.

Prof. Femi Osofisan (moderator): Some people say that, in fact, they were happier then. What's your view?

MS: (giggles) That's what they want to hear. Those must be men, I'm sure.

FO: Some people say that women then might not have reached the material success…

MS: In other words, ignorance is bliss. Is that what you're saying?
Definitely worth a read. Also good, the Guardian's recent piece on 20-year old Helen Oyeyemi (The Icarus Girl), born in Nigeria and raised in London, who seems poised to be the next breakout novelist in the UK. One of the perks of her newfound success? Being mistaken for Purple Hibiscus author - and Cupcake alum - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nov. '04) at parties.



Today I started reading What We Do Now - the Melville House post-election "instant book" that includes a contribution by Maud Newton (June '04) on tax code - and found myself absolutely transfixed. I read at least 80% of it on a single subway ride between 96th Street and SoHo, and each essay got me more fired up than the last.

Having worked for a number of labor unions and nonprofit organizations (in what feels like a previous lifetime now), I am used to feeling keenly aware of how often contemporary political outcomes fail to bode well for progressive causes. On November 4, I felt like everything was over, like so many people who are concerned with making the world a better place. Going to see I Heart Huckabees with Elizabeth that day really helped me to put things in perspective, but that was it.

Partly because I no longer report to a cubicle, partly because Cupcake consumes my free time, partly because I just don't want to pay attention to how bad things have gotten, I've been able to totally tune out politics since November. Even though my boyfriend works for a publication that specializes in covering political media. I just don't want to hear details on all of the myriad ways that my life is less free, less independent, less unfettered by bureacracy than it was four years ago. It's like watching television news briefly during the blizzard this weekend, only to hear the reporter say, "It's really coming down."

Yesterday, I was reading The Atlantic, and there was a piece by an editorial writer for the Washington Post, and he was saying that he felt like liberals needed to stop defending Roe vs. Wade; it's a waste of time blah blah blah. And one of the questions was, "Do you think you'd feel differently if you were a woman?" And he didn't really think so. It didn't even seem like that was a concept he had ever really entertained. I thought about Cupcake, and the whole feminism thang, and what exactly the point is, when someone like that is writing for major publications - opinion leaders in our culture - and you know, not really thinking about any perspective but the one informed by his own narrow experience as an individual among billions on this tiny planet.

An essay by Women In Media & News executive director Jennifer L. Pozner in What We Do Now fleshes out my disgust with some sobering statistics:
The institutional invisibility of women, people of color and other public interest voices further skews the news. According to one study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), of all U.S. sources interviews in the national nightly news broadcasts on ABC, NBC and CBS in the entire year of 2001, 92% were white, 85% were male, and, where party affiliation was identifiable, 75 percent were Republican; corporate representatives were regular guests, while public interest voices were absent. As for the powerbrokers behind the scenes, women are just fifteen percent of top executives and twelve percent of board members at Fortune 500 media companies, according to several Annenberg Public Policy Center reports. Worse yet, there are no women at all on the boards of Fox, Clear Channel Radio, Viacom, or The Washington Post.
Dudes: Buying Slate isn't the only way to get hip to the 21st century.

Further, Pozner slams her point home with the dead-on critique that,
If more women -- and in particular, feminists -- were writing, reporting, assigning, analyzing and framing the news, both Bush and Kerry would have been forced, more likely, to campaign on issues such as workplace discrimination, pay equity, reproductive rights, a functional financial safety net, guns, education and more. At the very least, post-election coverage would have focused on the impact of a second Bush term on these and other pressing social issues.

Instead, pundits, op-ed writers, news analysts and reporters responded to the election by telling Democrats to adopt a conservative stance on "moral values," abandon liberal politics and move to the right if they ever want to regain political power.
For a fine example of that response, casually flip though the current issue of the Atlantic [insert vomiting sound here] at a local bookstore whose bottom line you don't care about.

A better use of your time and money would be to pick up a copy of What We Do Now, because I am ready to bring it on and I could use company.

Oh yes, and one last tip for the Post: I'd rather read Black Eyed Peas lyrics than your newspaper; it bores me to tears. Here are some good ones.




Rick Moody notes the "stunning" example of Diary of a Teenage Girl by PHOEBE GLOECKNER (July '03) in his review of David B.'s new graphic memoir Epileptic in the New York Times Book Review.

ZOE HELLER's (July '04) Notes on a Scandal is being adapted for the stage by Patrick Marber.

SUSAN CHOI (February '04) and NELL FREUDENBERGER (December '04) discuss writers who have influenced them, as part of a query posed to "a group of fiction writers, age 40 or younger" by the New York Times Book Review.

JESSICA DULONG (November '03) is nominated for a 2005 GLAAD Media Award in the category of Outstanding Magazine Article for her piece, "Should Their Love Be Legal?" (cosmoGirl!). The Advocate notes that, " The GLAAD Media awards will be handed out March 28 in New York, April 30 in Los Angeles, and June 11 in San Francisco. Highlights will air on MTV Networks' new gay-themed cable channel Logo."

MAUD NEWTON (June '04) is a judge in The First Annual TMN Tournament of Books.

EMMA GARMAN (September '04) unmasks a Shakespearean scholar who moonlights as the pseudonymous historical-romance writer Eloisa James, in New York magazine.

And, of course, RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL (September '04) has a smart and sexy new column in the Village Voice every week.

Congratulations to all the darling Cupcakes - past, present and future - out there shaking things up! Do keep us posted on your many fabulous endeavors.


Amanda Stern (April '04) hosts the Happy Ending Reading Series every Wednesday.

Rachel Kramer Bussel (September '04) reads from Best Lesbian Erotica 2005 at Bluestockings on January 26th.

Jen Kirwin (January '04) performs her comedy at Chicks and Giggles on February 8th.

Hannah Tinti (October '03) reads from Animal Crackers and discusses writing, at Coliseum Books on March 9th.

Got a hot date? Tell us all about it.



As you know, Cupcake is not your father's reading series. For starters, one of our main influences and inspirations is Sleater-Kinney. To wit, here's an excerpt from a Bitch magazine article from a while back:
Using rock as both a means and a metaphor to explore questions of identity and take on the rock 'n' roll boys' club, the new album telegraphs its intentions from the very first track. "You don't own the situation, honey/You don't own the stage," declares Tucker on "Male Model," adding, "We're here to join the conversation, and we're here to raise the stakes.
The whole article is worth reading for about a million different reasons. It just totally reinvigorated my attitude towards today, and so I'm off to my neighborhood cafe, to do some work, writing and planning. I'm just starting to realize that 2005 is going to be the year for everything.

Brigid Hughes has left The Paris Review. The New York Times has the story, and notes:
Elizabeth Gaffney, a former managing editor of The Review, said the board has been "very unsupportive" of Ms. Hughes in recent months, although it voted unanimously a year ago to appoint her over John Jeremiah Sullivan, a writer and editor, who was the other finalist.

Ms. Gaffney said that after she left the Review's board last year, she "became extremely concerned" that they would not renew Ms. Hughes's contract.

Speaking of the board, she continued: "I don't think they really cared what she was publishing. I think they just wanted to take the magazine in a different direction."
As you may recall, our own Elizabeth was asked to comment on Ms. Hughes' appointment as The Paris Review's first female editor last year. That exchange, from Jane, can be found here, under "Cupcake in the news."

The fabulous Dan Wickett has another excellent round-up of interesting voices, in this case discussing the literary journals they edit. Some that I'm already fond of, including One Story, Land Grant College Review, and Small Spiral Notebook are in the mix, and I am sure there are some old favorites and new discoveries to be found for you, too.



Says Andrew Hultkrans, "A word about readings: Unless the author is a close friend, I avoid them like the Meatpacking district on Saturday night."

The same could be said for articles in Artforum.

In fact, I may just print out the article and toss it in my bag, to serve its useful purpose as a handy checklist of things to be avoided "like the Meatpacking district" any day of the week.

Having just read it myself, I can't in good conscience recommend the piece as interesting or a good way to give away five minutes of your life that you'll never get back. It's really not worth reading (just mocking, really), but the whole thing is here.

[via gawker]

Just announced:


Speakers include:

- Greg Palast, investigative journalist
- John R. MacArthur, Harper’s Magazine publisher
- Robin Morgan, bestselling feminist author
- Esther Kaplan, political journalist

All speakers are contributors to the book WHAT WE DO NOW

The Great Hall of The Cooper Union is located
30 Cooper Square, at 3rd avenue and 7th street

Info at Melville House Books

See you there!


The hilarious Wendy McClure, pop culture columnist for Bust, blogger extraordinaire at Pound, and author of the forthcoming memoir, I'm Not the New Me, comes up with a plan for "a book-touring femmebot" that combines the best aspects of Margaret Atwood's remote-book signing gadget and Curtis Sittenfeld's treatise on groupies for women writers:
Speaking of readings, did you see how Margaret Atwood went and invented this thing that signs books from a remote location? No, really: Margaret Atwood totally invented a robot arm that signs books. That's just surreal. Wouldn't it be great if writers just did that stuff all the time? Like if David Foster Wallace just came up with some crazy precision laser beam that can render legible footnotes in microscopic -15pt type, or Tom Wolfe devised an electromagnetic wand to detect irony in sex scenes? Personally I would improve on the book-signing invention by solving the women-writers-can't-get-male-groupies problem at the same time. That's right--I would build a Book-Touring Femmebot, with Realdoll parts and NPR personality. Among its many features it would adminster a stun-gun-like shock to anyone who says something like, "So your book, it's really just chick lit, right?" or "Why aren't you on Oprah?"
Noted first at two Cupcake faves: Tingle Alley, by way of Shaken & Stirred.

Related: Cupcake on Sittenfeld, and Kevin Smokler responds



Cupcake is twice as nice next month!

Novelists Maxine Swann and Samantha Hunt read from their work, with a post-reading discussion moderated by journalist Katherine Lanpher, on Wednesday, February 9.

Rock critic Ann Powers discusses her work and what's on her mind with Katherine Lanpher, on Friday, February 25.

Full details are just a click away.


This morning while listening to the Senate committee’s confirmation hearing of Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State, an n.p.r reporter hushed in with: “She’s one tough cookie.”

I nearly choked on my coffee. Did he just call the former national security advisor a tough cookie? Shut up! I think all of Bush’s theocrats should be nicknamed after baked goods. What a brilliant P.R move.

Rumsfeld: The unarmed nut puff.

Wolfowitz: Upside down sponge cake.

Alberto Gonzolez: Peach Napoleon.

Cheney: Devil food cake

George W: Pillsbury Dough Douche.

You’ve come a long way Condi. Even though you’re on your way to becoming one of the highest appointed female lackeys for one of the most corrupt administrations in the history of America, just remember at the end of the day….you’re still just one tough cookie.

Soo not Cupcake.

I think I feel some ranting coming on tonight.

- Jen (the quiet one.)


From today's Boston Globe:
The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. Summers also questioned how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering at elite universities.

Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, walked out on Summers' talk, saying later that if she hadn't left, ''I would've either blacked out or thrown up."...

...''Here was this economist lecturing pompously [to] this room full of the country's most accomplished scholars on women's issues in science and engineering, and he kept saying things we had refuted in the first half of the day," said [Denise D.] Denton, the outgoing dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. Next month, Denton will become the new head of UC Santa Cruz.
My two cents and a penny's worth of spare change? 1. Nancy and Denise: what Cupcakes these two are, and they don't even know it! 2. I would say that Summers can go to hell but I presume he already lives in Cambridge. 3. Parents of Harvard students, you really have to ask yourselves: WHAT is your children learning? Harvard students: What exactly are you paying for?

It certainly sounds like some junk science to me.

Yawn-inducingly sassy articles like this one (Imagined editor convo: Ohmigod, overweight/powerful/vapid/rich women can be sexy whores? That's almost too counter-intuitive! Stay on this one!) are the reason why I believe subscriptions to the New York Times should come bundled with prescriptions for Modafinil. A much more intriguing piece would be one on La Vida Cupcake, doncha think?

I saw Maud this weekend, and we compared notes on our respective Mississipi grandmothers, which reminded me in a long, loopy way of storySouth, one of my favorite publications.

It's already fabulous, but have you nominated a story yet for the magazine's Million Writers Award for Fiction? It recognizes the best in online writing, and it only takes a moment to give a shout-out to your personal favorite.

I nominated mine today: "Just Like Normal Girls," by Kati Bambrick, published at the also-excellent Identity Theory.



Jen hosts a monthly comedy show at Southpaw! The next one is Tuesday, 1.18 at 9pm, and will feature "short films, stand up comedy and a big fat and phat party afterwards." The line-up includes JEN + Amber Tozer, Todd Levin, Jon Friedman, Nick Stevens, Christian Finnegan. It's FREE, at Southpaw.

And, Jen will also be performing as part of Chicks and Giggles, the bi-monthly all-women comedy show hosted by Nichelle, on February 8!

Soapbox co-founders Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards read from Grassroots: A Field-Guide for Feminist Activism at 7pm on 1.25 at KGB [via nyc writers group].

For more hot dates, check out The Smart Set, my weekly round-up of local literary happenings, posted at MaudNewton.com on Mondays at 12:30pm.



Jessica Hopper is so smart and, today, pissed off. This is my favorite quote of the month from anywhere because I am often vaguely feeling like this but then to hear someone else say it so perfectly is such a relief:
I always try bringing justice and girl plight into the scope, and it always screws things up, there is never room for it.
She's talking about music criticism, and she's right: currently, there is not room for it, there or in similar places where the power to assign cultural value is held. The way there is no room for it is in a way that seems really subjective--people will say, oh the voice is off or throw some adjective around to describe your writing vs. what they are looking for, but really, on a very intuitive level they know when you are threatening the power balance, the current valuation of what is to be taken seriously, what is to be allowed, what not.

This calibration is precise, in miniscule degrees, and largely intuitive, but where the valuation of our stories and our songs gets decided.

This intuitive calibration is why there are so few women in the top echelon of American letters, in newsrooms, etc.: because women bring a perspective outside the status quo into the game. Their voices are not given authority: women's voices pointing out sexism, racism, sheer lame tighty-whitey-bullshit just don't fit into the serious literary/journalistic aesthetic any more easily than they fit into that Asperger's world of music criticism. (When they do bust through, though, my word do they shine: Ann Powers, who will be reading at a special Cupcake on Feb. 25, is a prime example). I am so sick of hearing myself say this stuff about literary gatekeepers and how it works so subjectively. I keep telling Lauren: I've got two more years of the explaining variety of activism in me, and them I'm just going to move out to the forest and write huge wild books and dress like Bjork and marry some guy who makes movies dressed up in a goat head.

My other favorite thing someone said to me this month: I brought up Louise Erdrich and this lovely person said, immediately: "I think Louise Erdrich should win the Nobel Prize." I run around thinking that all the time, but nobody has ever said that to me before. Louise Erdrich is never somehow in the New Yorky discussions of our current literary powerhouses. They do publish her in the New Yorker, but when was the last time you heard someone bring her up at a cocktail party? Start counting mentions of Erdrich vs. Franzen vs. Chabon right now, kay? And then start really thinking about which one of them has surpassed Faulkner, to start.

If I had a cup of coffee right now and weren't fantasizing about my elfin mega-creative woodland future I would come up with the literary equivalents of the following, but for now I will just leave you with a little more Jessica:
So, I'd like to have a toast: to four more years of a tender lapping of Cam'ron's cock n' balls, more fete'd jack-white saviours in the spotlight, more Jeff Tweedy Poco-tributes, more girls in corrective orthodontia hiking up their bra straps in the front row of Good Charlotte shows screaming for consumption, and to all those late night nights where we laboured, nay! toiled over - the articles and insightful sidebars about who the Beastie Boys were voting for . Cheers all around, kiddo - here's to a glorious 2005!
As promised, the funniest, best, and only submissions for The New Yorker's Lady Prize (I made that up, but you know, it might be a step in the right direction...). Enjoy -- if your week has been as long and crazy as mine has been, you've certainly earned it. The entries are listed in order of when they came in, or whatever order they were in in my inbox. Whatever. Drum roll, please:

Weighing in . . . I've had a subscription to The New Yorker since before Tina Brown added color and as much as I do depend on it--- its lack of female perspective is discouraging to say the least.

Also, I have three names for you because I believe the "one" (always has to be a "one") is very male-- very alpha male-- I prefer a circle of women and put forward this trio as I believe they could bring varied and balanced female perspective all with killer humor and exceptional intelligence...




I love me some Cupcake!


Touche! An innovative editorial circle of exceedingly sharp, feminist (e.g. in possession of a brain) women does sound appealing, and having a Cupcake (Eurotrash, September '04) on the inside would certainly be lovely. And bloggers - so 21st century! That inventive, creative arrangement could be very fabulous and very, very cool.

Dear Cupcake,

This doesn't count, because she's already a staff writer, but if there were to be one woman at the New Yorker, I nominate Katherine Boo, for her excellent writing and real reporting on real issues -- like how the indulgences of Caitlin Flanagan and her ilk fuck the poor.

Plus her last piece, on charter schools, provides the perfect little dollop of faux-contrarian frisson which Remnick seems to require.


Totally agreed. Katherine Boo is an absolute genius. This has been noted publicly, and accompanied by a large check, so I don't feel the need to dwell on it here. But...she works for The New Yorker, so I guess she would be disqualified if we had rules or anything like that, but we don't, so...perfect.

Next up:

If I were forced to pick a token woman to write for the New Yorker, I would ask that Meghan O'Rourke be snatched away from Slate.  However! -- if this business about the New Yorker is really as bad as it seems, I'd rather let Ms. O'Rourke remain comfortable among mixed company over at Slate.  Why Meghan?  Because she does exactly what a great critic and editor should do: say what the rest of us are fumbling around trying to say, except much, much better.  Plus, she has opinions -- not loud and show-offy ones, but arguments that are subtle and substantive.  She's also not afraid to let a feminist lens inform her views. In fact, she pulls out said eyepiece so frequently that we start to think that feminism might not be a movement at all, but a cultural mindset.  Hmm ...  who'da thought?

If the Guerrilla Girls were protesting this situation, they might pass out stickers with the image of a female sign-slash-magnifying glass and the names of the suggested female writers and critics plastered all over them.  That way, people could "accidentally" place the stickers on the cover of the New Yorker in their local bookstores.  Upload a .pdf file, encourage people to buy sticker paper, and it could be a world-wide uprising.  What do you say, Cupcake?

Becca Klaver
Milwaukee, WI

First up, Becca: we like your style. Why, clever people in every town could potentially find themselves rather accident-prone suddenly this spring... I know the slant towards male contributors in the magazine certainly could give one vertigo. It's like a disease. Anyway, I digress for the moment. Meghan O'Rourke is 100% superstar, but again with the technicalities: I believe she has already been on staff at The New Yorker, which might disqualify her if we had rules around here, which again, we don't.

In conclusion, thank you so much for your submissions! We are not going to vote any of the fine writers mentioned here who have worked for The New Yorker already off the island: This is Cupcake, not Survivor. Unless you're a sexist or an "anti-feminist," in which case the sharks can have you, dahhling.

We LOVE getting email from all you sweet Cupcakes, so please do keep it comin'. And, for the previously shy: Please consider adding your ideas to the comments section.

Everybody wins!



This afternoon, I was sitting in a cafe on Spring Street, reading galleys and looking over some materials for several freelance projects, and found it impossible to ignore the conversation at the next table (as is often the case).

A woman was loudly recounting her experience of having a guy follow her down the street for several blocks, creep her out by making the sort of comments used to appraise entries at a 4-H fair, and then pull out $2000 in a thick wad of cash and offer it to her in exchange for sex. Totally gross, I know.

But then, she went on to say how her friend had to swear not to tell anyone, blah blah blah, and how she was so embarassed or something or felt weird about the story, and how she had told it a million times. Obviously. Anyway, I guess that she was equating this experience with being hot, or something: so hot that perverts chase you down the street.

Personally, I would define that sense of slightly ephemeral satisfaction a little differently: like the gorgeous feeling of having 50 people show up every month for the reading series that you break your little heart to put together, daily; getting to hear your favorite authors read, like when Felicia Luna Lemus (Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties) and Kate Walbert (Our Kind) rocked the mic tonight and blew us all away; and totally having a blast.

Of course, a little love from Gawker is great, too.

So, taking all of the above into consideration, and reaching the obvious conclusion: getting chased by perverts? Not hot.

Cupcake tonight: like, Paris Hilton book party hot. Except we can read.


P.S. Action-packed plans for February include novelists Samantha Hunt (The Seas) and Maxine Swann (Serious Girls) reading on the 9th, and a special event featuring rock critic Ann Powers in conversation with journalist Katherine Lanpher on the 25th. Join the list to receive details by email.

P.P.S. Thank you, as always, to local feminist indie bookseller Bluestockings for having selected books available for sale at tonight's event.

P.P.P.S. Before I forget: Elizabeth teaches creative writing workshops, and they are at least as fabulous as she is, e.g. "Elizabeth's workshop taught me to get out of the way of my writing and just write. There's no amount of coffee that can make me do that. She's a truly gifted teacher." Email her for info.


Eurotrash calls bullshit on alleged prosti-blogger sensation, Belle du Jour:
Apparently she wanted to be a journalist, but no-one would hire her as editor of The Times, so prostitution was the only alternative. I know the feeling. I spent three years as a bar girl servicing American sailors in the Philippines after I was rejected as editor of Vogue, two weeks after I left university.
The whole thing is hysterical, natch, and her analysis is quite compelling.

Well worth a re-visit, or essential if you missed it the first time around: "A Voyage Round My Mother," which she read at Cupcake last September.



I love, love, love Bookslut - I love it! - but I have to respectfully disagree with Jessa Crispin. That giant sucking sound I hear when I open the New Yorker, is, in fact, Caitlin Flanagan.

Ms on Caitlin: "Back to the kitchen, circa 1950, with Caitlin Flanagan"
Alternet on Caitlin: "Stepford Wife: You've come the wrong way, baby"
Emma on Caitlin, and marriage
Maud & Friends on Caitlin, and historical rape laws
Earlier, Maud can't decide whether to cancel her New Yorker subscription or throw herself in front of a train

And, Elizabeth writes an open letter to the New Yorker on the subject, which inspires me:

If there can only be one woman writing for the New Yorker (this seems to be approaching a law of physics, as Elizabeth had to abandon her weekly counting or surrender herself to a lifetime of painful, self-destructive, eye-rolling while browsing the table of contents), who would you nominate?

Please send names and a sentence or two explaining why you would love to see YOUR WOMAN HERE write for the New Yorker to mail [at] cupcakeseries [dot] com by Friday afternoon. We'll post your submissions just before the weekend.

Hey New York Cupcakes -- The first Cupcake of the New Year, featuring 2004 National Book Award nominee KATE WALBERT (Our Kind) and debut novelist FELICIA LUNA LEMUS (Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties is tomorrow night - Wednesday! Details.

Mark Sarvas, of "The Elegant Variation" Sarvases, has a paired review (with Daniel Green) of The News From Paraguay:
And despite Tuck's fine, restrained prose style, that sensation never fully departs as Ella progresses from her poverty in Paris, to mistress of the heir apparent, to mother of the children of the president (bastard children though they may be), to her final poverty back in Paris. It's the familiar arc of many a bodice-ripper, in which the plucky, self-assured, stylish heroine faces the dangers of the wild.
He also comments on the National Book Awards. And, he is going to be on anti-corporate radio this afternoon at 4:30pm. It's an action-packed post.



Other writing, other places: The new edition of The Smart Set will be up at MaudNewton.com at 12:30pm. And, I wrote a profile of the painter Samm Cohen for the new issue of local indie upstart, Trigger magazine. I'll try to post an item or two here this afternoon, but if not, please allow Rachel Kramer Bussel's new cupcake-lovin' blog to console you in the meantime.



Jenny Davidson has a major Cupcake moment!



More essential reading on Sontag over at one of my favorite blogs, A Little More Life. (from an LA Times commentary by Patrick Moore):
The New York writer and activist Sarah Schulman has been, ironically, described as "the lesbian Susan Sontag." Schulman told me recently that Sontag "never applied her massive intellectual gifts toward understanding her own condition as a lesbian, because to do so publicly would have subjected her to marginalization and dismissal."
Would a discussion of her sexuality have foisted Sontag out of the intellectual boys' club, into the feminist realms? My hunch is probably, although not necessarily: if anyone could have pulled it off, she could have. But it would have been quite a feat.


I just finished Nobrow, subtitle: "The Culture of Marketing, The Marketing of Culture" by John Seabrook. It's partially a memoir of his days as a staff writer at Tina Brown's New Yorker, and also exactly what it sounds like.

My favorite line comes near the end, when he is thinking about how Conde Nast head Si Newhouse made the New Yorker move its offices from an old, appropriately shabby place to the shiny new Conde Nast corporate HQ, and how that seemed to him like a death knell for the New Yorker's identity.

The good part is in bold because I find it so satisfying:
Since the future New Yorker was likely to exist, if at all, as an act of Newhouse's patronage, its debts paid for by the profits from Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair, it was a little unrealistic to expect that the magazine or its writers should remain in their former glory. Independence was the price we paid for survival.
Sound familiar?



Today's essential reading: Back to the Kitchen, Circa 1950, with Caitlin Flanagan by Hillary Frey [Ms., Winter '04]

I worked with Artsy magazine when I was collaborating on a group exhibition/one-night party called MediaMix as the PR director for Emerging Arts a couple of years ago. Artsy is dedicated to "featuring women's art from a contemporary feminist perspective," and it's a wonderful endeavor with two excellent women founders, Jasmine Trabelsi and Julia Laricheva. They have a new calendar available online for less than twenty dollars, and it's a terrific way to personally make 2005 the year of the woman artist.



The Sontag hating gets much much worse: Richard Grayson was so appalled by this monstrous link that he sent it along for us to excise and stomp on with our pretty pretty shoe. The last line of this article:

"Susan Sontag's death at 71 was at least four decades overdue."

Do you remember what it was like after Reagan died. Reagan! Responsible for violence, poverty, discrimination on such a massive scale--even in face of the apocalyptic situation currently being created by his progeny's progeny at warp speed in 2004 the left was largely quiet, polite, respectful of the dead.

I am reminded of this quotation from Elfriede Jelinek:

"A woman who becomes famous through her work reduces her erotic value. A woman is permitted to chat or babble, but speaking in public with authority is still the greatest transgression."

Sontag didn't reduce her erotic value. But the hate released on her death from certain crusty intellectual corners would indicate that a woman public intellectual is still far more threatening to the boys of America than anything else. Yes, this most egregious article is from the fringe. But the ire is similiar to the vitriol Hillary Clinton seems to inspire. Hmm. Go figure.

The New Criterion's Sontag hating didn't go so far as this malfeasant, but check it out--Lauren found the New Criterion's little manifesto for you:
The New Criterion, founded in 1982 by the art critic Hilton Kramer and the pianist and music critic Samuel Lipman, is a monthly review of the arts and intellectual life. Written with great verve, clarity, and wit, The New Criterion has emerged as America's foremost voice of critical dissent in the culture wars now raging throughout the Western world. A staunch defender of the values of high culture, The New Criterion is also an articulate scourge of artistic mediocrity and intellectual mendacity wherever they are found: in the universities, the art galleries, the media, the concert halls, the theater, and elsewhere. Published monthly from September through June, The New Criterion brings together a wide range of young and established critics whose common aim is to bring you the most incisive criticism being written today.
Lauren says: "I love that good old school boys get to say things cloaked in the above, as opposed to some redneck harassing a waitress outside a truckstop, getting blown off, and saying 'I'd like to nail her tits to a tree.'"

Same essential concept as my favorite bell hooks essay:In the same way that rap often does, right-wing middle- and working-class white voices outside the Ivy League "give voice to the brutal raw anger and rage against women that it is taboo for 'civilized' adult men to speak."

But the New Criterion manages to speak it anyway. Now that's something.

Jeez. Somebody please tell me something good. Oh, thank you, Gawker, that helped.



Did you know that you can nominate this darling blog for a 2005 Bloggie Award? Yes, it's true, you can, right now. The process:
From now until 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) on Monday, January 10, 2005, anyone can nominate their favorite weblogs.

That Wednesday, January 12, three panels of 50 voters will receive an e-mail. It will list the weblogs that have receieved the most nominations in ten categories. They will have until 10:00 PM EST on Monday, January 17 to privately submit their five favorites (six for Weblog of the Year) for each category. The five (or six for Weblog of the Year) receiving the most votes will become finalists. I (Nikolai Nolan) will only vote for the panel in the case of a tie for fifth place. This panel is on an opt-in policy; there is a checkbox on this form for it.

On Thursday, January 20, the finalists will be announced and voting will be open again to choose the winners.

Voting will close at 10:00 PM EST on Sunday, January 31. The winners will be posted sometime between Sunday, March 13 and Tuesday, March 15.
If you enjoy reading the Cupcake blog, please consider taking a moment to nominate us in whatever categories you think are a good fit. It's easy, fun, and since we'll love you forever, you won't have to worry about finding a valentine next month -- ooh, timesaving, too!



We are feeling sad here at Cupcake for the same reasons you are feeling sad these days. This afternoon, I'm thinking about how much we miss Susan Sontag. For once, Chip McGrath didn't piss us off--he wrote a tribute to her that is the first time we've ever seen anything coming near appropriate levels of goddess worship from him.

But word on the street from one of our favorite guy fans is that not everyone has such sense or manners:
Yo Cupcake,

You guys should stop picking on the boys at N+1. They really want to publish women writers—they're just recluse grad students, which can make it hard to meet girls. [I can introduce them to plenty, btw. We'll have a party or something. --Eliz.]

Meanwhile there's some creepiness at the New Criterion. They took it upon themselves to post a (largely recycled) anti-Sontag tirade just hours after her death. For fancy boys, they're a little lacking in class. If they really knew any Latin they'd say "de mortuis nil nisi bonum," and then keep their mouths shut, at least for a day. And I catch a whiff of misogyny to boot:

"Norman Podhoretz has suggested that the "rapidity" of Sontag's rise was due partly to her filling the role of "Dark Lady of American Letters," vacated when Mary McCarthy was "promoted to the more dignified status of Grande Dame as a reward for her years of brilliant service. The next Dark Lady would have to be, like her, clever, learned, good-looking, capable of writing [New York-intellectual] family-type criticism as well as fiction with a strong trace of naughtiness." The "ante on naughtiness," Podhoretz notes, had gone up since McCarthy's day: "in an era of what Sherry Abel has called the `fishnet bluestocking,' hints of perversion and orgies had to be there."
More than a whiff. The article is really gross. It feels like the author, Roger Kimball, saved up every single mean jab he could possibly hoard and as soon as she was really out of the room started spewing. I mean, every defensive, small-minded accusation he can think of, including associating Sontag with the anal sex ballerina Toni Bentley. Can you imagine? Listen to the venom in this paragraph:
As a writer, Sontag is essentially a coiner of epigrams. At their best they are witty, well phrased, provocative. A few are even true: "Nietzsche was a histrionic thinker but not a lover of the histrionic." But Sontag's striving for effect (unlike Nietzsche, she is a lover of the histrionic) regularly leads her into muddle. What, for example, can it mean to say that "the AIDS epidemic serves as an ideal projection for First World political paranoia" or that "risk-free sexuality is an inevitable reinvention of the culture of capitalism"? Nothing, really, although such statements do communicate an unperturbable aura of left-wing contempt for common sense.
Or this one:

Sontag enjoyed an extraordinary career. But, pace Salman Rushdie [whose tribute posted after Sontag's death last week Kimball warns is only for "those with strong stomachs"], her celebrity was not the gratifying product of intellectual distinction but the tawdry coefficient of a lifelong devotion to the mendacious and disfiguring imperatives of radical chic.
Not a patriarchal, hierarchical organization, Cupcake has never had a formal Most Wanted list. But if we did, Chip McGrath would be bumped down by this bozo Roger Kimball. Nevermind his misguided, outdated analysis: Kimball's manners make him a one-man argument for finishing school for boys.

I am thinking in appreciation of Wayne Koestenbaum, whose Sontag lecture I still remember from the remarkable undergraduate American lit course I took with him a million years ago in the nineties. He started his lecture by mentioning a dream he'd just had of her, reclining on a chaise in a pink miniskirt, her light stripe of hair regal and commanding.

I see her reclining in such grandeur now, giving the finger, along with Cupcakes the world over, to Kimball's line: "her celebrity was not the gratifying product of intellectual distinction but the tawdry coefficient of a lifelong devotion to the mendacious and disfiguring imperatives of radical chic." Cupcake would not exist without her. I can't even imagine how dry and awful someone's life must be to assume that intellectual rigor requires a lack of pleasure, sensuality, humor, style, to call Sontag's insistence on transforming crusty genres "histrionic." Kimball is clinging desperately to that bone dry, outdated, pale-male-stale-Yale action and resenting, violently, a revolutionary who excelled in that world on its own terms while also transforming those terms into her own.

For now, may we suggest this tribute over at n+1 by perennial Cupcake favorite Ben Kunkel:
Susan Sontag was the first living intellectual who mattered to me. I discovered Against Interpretation early on in college, and its title essay at once confirmed and cast doubt upon what I sensed was my vocation. Here was a complaint against the relentless extraction of symbols and ideas from art, a call for a new “erotics of art” (I think was the phrase) in place of the old “hermeneutics.” I was 19, I feared my intellectual bent would forever deprive me of the sensual enjoyment of things, here was an essay thrillingly addressed to my very fear, one that undermined the value of the activity—interpretation—I was best at, at the same time that it provided, in the swift notations of Sontag’s headstrong prose, never mind her fetching dust-jacket photo, an idea of the glamour of the intellectual and his or her helpless urge to interpret.


Nichelle notices a "Men's Studies" sign in her local Barnes and Noble and gets a little freaked out. Honey, that's what we're talking about when we talk about the New Yorker.

Moorishgirl.com editor Laila Lalami has a piece in the new issue of Mizna, a literary journal that sports the tagline, "Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America," but it might as well be "Wow...That Cover is so Gorgeous...I've Never Had a Crush on a Magazine Before" [note: not true].

An anonymous correspondent files "MLA Convention Dispatch #1" at MaudNewton.com, detailing the happenings of a panel exploring "Feminist Activism inside and outside the Academy," featuring the divine Grace Paley.

Also worth a mention: from Black Leotard Front to East Side Oral, the news you can use is in this week's edition of The Smart Set.

A new FOC ("Friend Of Cupcake," natch) who doesn't like to see her name in print recommends West with the Night, Beryl Markham's memoir of her vigorously independent life and seemingly unquenchable thirst for adventure in 1920s and '30s Kenya.



I just had such a cool talk with one of my students about her not feeling entitled to write. Feeling like: why do I have the right to write a book? Am I smart enough? Interesting enough? Who do I think I am anyway? Most women battle this shit, it's so fierce. I know I did, and theoretically still do although I haven't written a word besides these blog posts in six months because I've been so committed to other stuff including Cupcake here.

I clawed through this girl-stuff, this feeling like what you have to say doesn't matter, all through MFA school, all through writing my first novel. I used every trick in the book to keep myself writing--little print-ups of Anne Lamott posted strategically around the office. Little writing rules about when I had to be at the desk. Treats. Retail therapy (well, this is relative on a grad student budget but you know).

And one thing I did obsessively was look to the women musicians who were creating their own worlds. I played Bjork, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey over and over and over and over. Other music as well, but these three proved to me that what I was trying to do, what I could just barely imagine happening in literature but had an inkling of and a strong desire to read even more than write, was something they had managed to accomplish musically.

I also read interviews with these three. Thank god that the internet and my grad school coincided--without interviews with Tori and Bjork specifically it would have been much, much harder to write the book I wanted to write.

(I probably would have written a much more traditional first novel with better chances of getting it published, but then, we wouldn't be here on the Cupcake blog together now, would we?)

I have been reading tons of Bjork interviews lately--whenever I need guidance on some new turf I'm mapping out in my life or my art that nobody has seemed to explain in the world yet, I go to her. Also to Toni Morrison but right now it's Bjork.

Today I'm all about this: Always keep an Iceland in your mind.

Anyway, I recommend reading as many of these interviews as possible. What is a day job for, anyway, hon? The Bjork website has a fabulous selection of quotes so very organized (how Scandinavian of her). Here's one that's inspiring me for what we might want to to with the Cupcake Liberation Front for 2005:
People think I did nothing in Iceland before The Sugarcubes, but me and my friends did everything! We'd make pirate radio, attack the government, run into the TV station and take control, hold film festivals of only X-rated films, attack policemen - we were like terrorists, you know? We were... terrible! The Sugarcubes was just a hobby we did at weekends, singing silly pop songs.
xo Elizabeth

I ran into an old pal of mine from college the other night while catching my favorite band Nervous Cabaret perform in DUMBO. We chatted about the usual stuff like jazz shoes, glitter, and what salon we like to get our hair permed (I lied and told him I go to bumble & bumble but the truth is...shhhh, it's just a Toni perm).

Later on we got really deep and he turned me onto
video fresh off the net. Here's the set up: The future is 2014. The New York Times is going off line. It's like TRON, but not. Seriously, click on this. It's freaky-deaky.

Bon anney



Hey everybody. We decided that top ten lists are so 2004, so we'll let you comb through our archives on your own as you avoid your to-do list back on planet earth this morning. How sweet of us, no? Anyway, I had a standard-issue Cupcake moment the very night I got back from my travels, here it is:

Dec. 30, 2004

I just got back to Brooklyn tonight. I had a lovely Alexander session with my talented practitioner (the best in New York, in fact) and then went for dinner and a drink with a friend.

So at the bar where we were eating, this gentleman in his late fifties makes a point of hovering. He is reading the New Yorker (we all know what that means at a bar, no?), the new one with the gray cat target thang thang on the cover. He makes a point of asking me about my pasta as he is leaving and I am sweet and ask to see the cover of the magazine.

"Oh and wait--let me just take a look at the table of contents," I say, just in from my Presbyterian refresher course over the holiday, re-brainwashed to be completely modest, polite and demure.

The two women writers with bylines in this issue are the neo-conservative, self-described "anti-feminist" Caitlin Flanagan and punk-rock OG cartoonist Aline Kominksy-Crumb. Well, half of Aline Kominsky-Crumb because she shares the byline with her more famous, ass-drawing (though genius, as is she) husband, Robert, as usual in the New Yorker.

(By the way, I love you Aline. LOVE YOU. How brilliant of you to insist on getting in there in the New Yorker pieces. That rocks.)

"Two women," I said, "One of them an anti-feminist, the other only there because sharing the byline with her husband."

The older gentleman, in scolding tone that was so hateful I went into immediate denial said:

"Is that how you look at the world? You count bylines?"

"Well, this is actually a bad week for the New Yorker," I said in my most young-pretty-girl-maintaining-pleasantness-cheery-voice, "Usually they're at about eighty percent men. This is really quite bad."

He grumbled something else with obvious scorn.

"And the only two women here are an anti-feminist and the wife of a famous cartoonist," I continued, sweetly, but not ironic sweetly. I was really trying here.

He stopped hovering, needless to say. He grumbled some more and scuttled home.

I felt terrible, like I just ruined everyone's party. This is so codependent of me. I just point the facts out and then certain people get pissed. But can you honestly tell me that it doesn't mean anything that those are the only two women represented?

Younger guy writers, when I point this out, usually feel bad and want to do better. They don't believe it's true, at first. They get a little defensive but then start doing a Sherlock Holmes in their brain for the women writers they remember in the publications they read.

Like the guys at n+1--they immediately improved their percentage by 200 percent after we teased them a little. I know I give them a bit of a hard time sometimes, but I do appreciate their work and their efforts to improve.

Older male writers--I mean, come on, this guy tonight almost certainly went to college when Yale wasn't even co-ed, during that era when the boys all swam so heterosexually naked at Payne Whitney--tend to get actively hostile fast without a smidge of concern to hide it. His scorn made me feel like shit. But I remained polite.

And I counted bylines.

And I'm going to keep it up as necessary.

"He'll never look at the bylines again without counting," my friend said.

"Just to prove me wrong," I said.

And I'm right on this one.


Top ten lists -- so last year, dahhling! But the best holiday moment ever will always be rubbing the sleep out of your eyes and looking again to make sure it's really your name on the Ms. blog, followed by the words "...are proving themselves a force to be reckoned with..." Glitter and confetti all around!


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