The Mighty Hipster

June 24th, 2014

How to be a hipster

To paraphrase a quote misattributed to Mark Twain,  Rumors of the death of the hipster are greatly exaggerated.

How many times have you come across a snide appraisal of hipsters, whatever iteration hipster is current at the time, with the conclusion that the species has hit rock bottom. Hipsters are so over, just look at them.

The last time I read something like that, hipsters were kind of effete and emo, remember them? And they had to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon for some reason.

Chris Sanderson, a trend forcaster, explains:“The hipster died the minute we called him a hipster. The word no longer had the same meaning.” Oh please, Chris, as if.  Then there was  a report last month from researchers at the University of New South Wales who discovered that the hipster look was no longer “hip.”

I’m down with Chris’s notion that there are now two types of hipster: “Contemporary hipsters – the ones with the beards we love to hate – and proto-hipsters, the real deal.” So, okay, the Real Deal means ‘us’ and the faux hipsters are ‘them’. That’s cool with me, I guess.

Hipsters were once people who rejected societal norms. White people who liked black jazz, people who read William Burroughs or Iceberg Slim. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about a uniform that signaled you were cool and in-the-know.

I still like the definition of a hipster as someone who was into whatever you’re into, 5 years ago. He has moved on and you will never keep up with him. I can reliably turn to my Nephew Russell, who was riding a fixed bike years ago. He is too hip for Facebook, not to mention Twitter. Whatever browser he uses for the internet, you’ve never heard of it. Whatever coffee you drink, he knows a place to get better coffee and it’s not a chain, either. It’s a given that he despises hipsters.

This Sanderson guy, the hipster expert, predicts an ‘overhaul’ in hipsters as we now know them  He predicts “A more macho look, almost to the point of caricature, in a bid for men to reinforce their identity.”

Uh-oh, he’d better be wrong about this. The hipsters I’m seeing (whether proto, meta or crypto) are already bearded and scruffy enough to be woodsman and ax-murderers. Will they adopt an even more primitive look, like early cro-magnons? Whatever the next wave turns out to be, I’m confidant that the hipster will be here til the end, a survivor, like the mighty cockroach. Just more annoying.

Translate This Kanye Quote And Win a Buick!

June 17th, 2014

stupid wedding picture

Okay, you are all too young to know the reference to this title but I’m paraphrasing a joke by Lenny Bruce who was making fun of – oh never mind. The important element is Kanye, as he is all too eager to point out.

So, Kanye is mad, for a change, and he’s making a big fuss. Some crap about Annie Leibovitz and a wedding picture she didn’t take.

Okay, so Kanye rants,

“Can you imagine telling someone who wants to just Instagram a photo, who’s the No. 1 person on Instagram, ‘We need to work on the color of the flower wall,’ or the idea that it’s a Givenchy dress, and it’s not about the name Givenchy, it’s about the talent that is  Riccardo Tisci — and how important Kim is to the Internet.”

My god, it’s like heaven when that idiot opens his mouth.

But here’s the part that needs translating:

“And the fact the No. 1 most-liked photo [on Instagram] has a kind of aesthetic was a win for what the mission is, which is raising the palette.” [my italics]

For the Buick (i.e., the edification of mankind, in this instance) What does Kanye think he means by “raising the pallette?”

Beyonce Studies

June 15th, 2014

Professor Kevin Allred godammit

Kevin Allred, a professor in the women’s and gender studies department at Rutgers University, is stirring up controversy with his signature course: Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyonce.

In a recent interview with NPR, he discusses the genesis of the course. “I read an article a few years ago by Daphne Brooks, a professor at Princeton, and she was arguing that the ‘B’Day’ album should be looked – politically, in kind of line with black, female protest singing throughout history.”

It’s nice to know that Professors at Princeton are thinking about Beyonce too.

Allred continues, “And I wanted to continue that and, like, think about all of Beyonce’s work, post and pre ‘B’Day,’ and her career in general as a way to engage students around these conversations about race, gender, sexuality and the politics of those categories in the United States, especially.”

So I’m, like, how many units is this class and like, what is the cost per unit? Will it help the students to pay back their college loans or what?

If I were teaching Beyonce Studies, I’d start with her transformation from a pretty African American girl to a sleek blond bombshell.

Beyonce Knowles

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Does a Black woman have to look ‘whiter’ to achieve success with a mass audience? Why is the prevailing concept of female beauty still a busty blond? For all Beyonce’s talk about empowerment, I see a shrewd businesswoman selling herself as a non-threatening sex symbol. Where’s the power in that?

I have no idea what Beyonce means to our culture, but nothing about her piques my curiosity. I’m much more interested when something fresh or challenging manages to capture the public imagination, like Amy Winehouse or ‘Breaking Bad‘. Or when someone truly awful, like Taylor Swift, manages to make $1 million per show.

But that’s just me. I am obviously out of step with most of humanity.

If you’re thinking of taking Professor Allred’s course, you should familiarize yourself with his own dissertation project, for which he is now, ahem, ….

“interrogating U.S. black feminism through the sonic register, reframing debates over intersectionality versus assemblage through taking careful account of the sounds black women’s voices make, both live and recorded. He is particularly interested in the ways black female musicians – like Nina Simone, Odetta, Beyonce Knowles, Nicki Minaj, and Janelle Monae – manipulate their voices in order to resist racist and heteronormative power structures.”

Oh God. Like his hairstyle isn’t enough.

Fashion Steal Of The Week

June 11th, 2014

 

Dolce&Gabbana boots 1“A studded metallic heel elevates a beautifully embroidered silhouette in soft Italian fabric.”

At $3895.00, these Dolce & Gabanna boots are a great deal. They are made of spandex, nylon and virgin wool, but lined in leather! Oooooh, right?

Dolce&Gabbana boots 2Look at all that crap sewn onto the fabric! It must have taken some half-blind old Italian lady a long time to accomplish this. Or maybe it was a poor little bambina who has to support her large family of immigrants. Whatever.

At nearly $4,000, these boots might seem like an obscenity; but I once paid $900 at Barney’s for a pair of boots I have now worn exactly twice and may not wear again. So, for many women, even Sea of Shoes and her ilk, the price here is no big deal. And that makes me feel very fucking sad and remorseful, I can promise you.

The only thing left to say about these Statement boots (besides where would you war them and what if it rained) is that they are pull-on style, meaning no zipper.

No fucking zipper? What’s their problem?

Guest Post: The Fashionable Lady Gaga

June 10th, 2014

by Erin O’Brien

Before she had an audience, it was just Gaga and her mirror.  And for a while, it got weird.  Four years ago, she was living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, after leaving school and her parents’ financial support.  In her shitty little apartment, she would order a bag of cocaine from a delivery service, get high, and work on her hair and makeup for hours.  She’d get it perfect, and then come down from the coke and do it all over again.

—-Rolling Stone[1]

”The biggest misconception about me is that I’m a character or a persona.  That when the lights and cameras turn off, I turn into a pumpkin.  It’s simply not true.  I make music and art and design all day long.  Yes, I wash my face and go to sleep but when I wake up, I am always Lady Gaga.”

—-Sydney Morning Herald[2]

“Lady Gaga has been sent to Earth to infiltrate human culture one sequin at a time.”

—-“Transmission: Gagavision” from the weblog at LadyGaga.com

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Over the last two years, a small young woman has appeared in popular culture, asserting her riddling persona in ways that have nearly every critic engaged. I have scrutinized hundreds of photographs of her, and I am still not sure precisely what she looks like off-duty, as it were, such is the extremity of her disguises. Her plainness (she lives on the border of beauty and not) gives her viewers the satisfaction of serious feeling (since her appeal is not universal) and gives her an immediate passkey to the world of High Art (her appeal is exclusive). Her extraordinary costumes, so nutty and witheringly chic, so embarrassing and fascist, so meticulous and creative, transform a quick dash from the limo to the television studio into performance art. You never see her photographed in jeans and a tee-shirt, or bouncing through Central Park in a track suit. Only recently has she hired a permanent stylist. Instead, she has an obscure group of helpers and designers called the Haus of Gaga, a place where I imagine that Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno mans the phones.

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Lady Gaga is better than traditionally beautiful: she is genuinely riveting to look at. (As Karl Lagerfeld remarked about Anna Piaggi, elderly resident of the avant-garde and a revered editor at Vogue Italia: “She’s not pretty, she’s worse.”) It is a rare thing to get an unobstructed view of her face, which is covered in distracting makeup and decals, a collection of sunglasses of considerable antiquity or extraordinary construction, and scene-stealing hats and hairstyles (including hats made of hair). Appropriately, one of Gaga’s great heroes is the ultra-reclusive, ultra-fashionable Belgian designer Martin Margiela, a former assistant to Jean-Paul Gaultier, another Gaga icon. Maison Martin Margiela goes so far in its effacement of the perfect faces of its models that it often sends them down the runway veiled. Lately, the Maison has created the Islamic Revolution-esque censor bar sunglasses (“L’Incognito”), which cancel the eyes in a vaguely Star-Trekky way as much as they shield them. In the improbable setting of the 2009 Malta Music Week, Gaga met the press in a studded black dress, her face covered by a black S&M mask, which she called a “contemporary art piece”. Likewise, at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga sported a red Alexander McQueen crown with lace face mask.

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“There is certainly a performance art element to all of this,” says Gaga. “I get challenged in interviews all the time, people asking me whether the clothes distract from the music. They’re not separate; it’s not one or the other. I dress the way I do to demonstrate my commitment to show business.”

In public appearances, Gaga never wears the same outfit twice, and never borrows from the Armani-Prada vocabulary of pre-fab good taste beloved of most public figures. Every detail, from hat to hair to shoes, is unlikely. For a modern-day celebrity, Gaga must produce at least one new outfit per day, and the most astonishing feat is the relentless good quality of her constructions. Gaga’s loony, wonderful outfits have become one of life’s few constants, like death and taxes. Some of her most famous ensembles have been constructed on the fly, literally within an hour of a photo shoot. As a marketing device, it works brilliantly, guaranteeing weekly Gaga coverage in all the magazines, and daily coverage from the bloggers. Gaga has achieved in only two years a kind of global ubiquitousness that would have taken half a decade at least in the 1990s.

Like Marilyn Manson, Gwen Stefani and even Boy George, Gaga is a fashion designer before she is a singer. Where other singers fuss over the personnel of backup bands, Gaga has costumers. Each outfit has clean lines and is well-organized: constructed, high-concept, not expressionist. The hard-edged work of Thierry Mugler is an acknowledged, obvious influence; she has lifted his entire syntax, consisting of legless leotards, crystalline growths, and a massively shouldered silhouette. In fact, he is the Ur-influence. His vocabulary (mirrors everywhere, crystals everywhere, robots and aliens) is the foundation for Gaga’s fashion. Often, subsidiary details to an ensemble will turn out to be Mugler, while she wears a dress by another designer as the focus.

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Her importance is to fashion much more than to music: she transforms everything she touches. In her odd, riveting video for “Paparazzi”, directed by Jonas Akerlund, nearly every detail from a shoe to a ring (that conceals poison, like Lucrezia Borgia’s) is jarringly rare, engaging, special. This is the first work of Gaga’s sole official stylist, B. Akerlund (wife of the director), which results in an extraordinary Gaga Gesamtkunstwerk. Famously, she transforms herself into a sinister Minnie Mouse. The influence is surely Marilyn Manson’s “Golden Age of the Grotesque” images of 2003, made in collaboration with Viennese artist Gottfried Helnwein.

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The strong influence of Helmut Newton in “Paparazzi” could be described as a weirdly effective “cripple chic”. Gaga’s broken form rises, covered in metal Thierry Mugler plating, from a souped-up wheelchair and does a dance with a cane. Some of these images of crumpled and crushed women verge on copies of a disturbing but brilliant series that ran in American Vogue with model Nadja Auermann as invalid with a spectacularly broken leg.

Gaga’s sexuality is notional and unconvincing because it is more schizy than sleazy. (Though she is loudly bisexual: of course, of course.) For one, she is as friendly and kind as Madonna is not. Lady Gaga wears fetish gear but gives hugs. Also, her costumes are too cerebral, even studious. (She talks fluently, like a fashion historian, about the Mugler and Gaultier archives.) She is an agreeable lunatic not much more cravenly seductive than Vogue Italia’s Anna Piaggi, Boy George or even Cyndi Lauper. Gaga is comfortable in public appearing unappealing, incomprehensible, unsexy. A woman happy to sport a Jean-Charles de Castelbajac “Kermit” jacket on German television (as a comment on the evils of wearing fur, as she explained on Oprah) is not interested in the conventional stylings of seduction.

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Serious photographers flock to her, inspired by her commitment to self-effacement and her talent for unselfconsciousness. Considering that Gaga’s career is essentially only two years old, she has worked with a shocking number of top, even art photographers: Hedi Slimane did her “Fame Monster” (2009) album cover; Annie Leibovitz shot her in a montage for American Vogue (Gaga is the witch from the Hansel and Gretel story); and David LaChapelle shot the Rolling Stone cover (June 2009) on which she wore a copy of Hussein Chalayan’s celebrated bubble dress.

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She was, of course, briefly and ironically a go-go dancer, which was obviously an excellent career move, in the vein of Madonna’s loss of her virginity. There is nothing like public exhibitionism to teach an unsentimental, cold-eyed evaluation of one’s assets. Gaga’s weird poise is surely informed by her mastery of a limit-experience (dancing nearly naked in front of a crowd of strangers) which is about as unusual as murder. She has recently graduated to posing topless in genuinely artistic venues from Vogue Hommes Japan to V Magazine, shot variously by Nobuyoshi Araki, Mario Testino and Ellen von Unwerth. While she is clearly uninhibited, Gaga’s fashion manifesto would not have allowed her to opt out of nudity, as a response to fashion, a continuation of fashion, and a strategy of fashion. Whether wearing shredded dresses or the famous Orbit hat by London milliner Nasir Mazhar, Gaga covers and uncovers body parts like squares on a fashion chessboard.

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Gaga has no one resembling a Svengali in her career making either creative or business decisions. Even the identity of her ex-boyfriend is casually negated by reference to a dubious-sounding nickname: “Speedy”. She is certainly a knowledgeable collaborator in her own construction, a borrower of avant-garde fashion references that sometimes border on pedantic. A certain Matthew Williams, described as her best friend and Creative Director at the Haus of Gaga, is credited with overseeing the singer’s daily look, though he is not presented to the public. When Gaga calls him her Jean-Paul Goude, she is paying him extraordinary hipster tribute, for Goude, an exceptionally accomplished graphic designer, was once the lover and stylist of Grace Jones who transformed her into a disco-era living artwork. One might say that Goude had better material to work with in Jones with her awesome cheekbones, brutal beauty and perfect mannequin body. Jones was already Art just walking down the street, but Goude contributed the geometric frame that made her an essential magazine image of the 1970s and 80s. Jones consisted largely of a snarling mouth and an air of sexual menace, so much the better to turn her into a sculpture or even, in the remarkable “Slave to the Rhythm” video (1985), a piece of architecture (a garage).

Gaga is only 5’1”, usually a death sentence for a couture lover, and she is without a single show-stopping physical feature. What she lacks in external attributes, she makes up for in the kind of oblivious commitment to avant-gardism that seems to onlookers to be an obscure object lesson. In this, she is a spiritual sister of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Dada artist, provocateur, and loon. Silliness is freedom, and Gaga is able to expand the limits of her fashion repertoire by disdaining any commitment to elegance or sexiness. This is not a woman who dresses to get laid or to please Best Dressed list-makers.

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Gaga is a woman who travels in a bubble of her own making: it is Gaga all over the world. In television interviews, she has the vibrating, scattered air of a woman recovering from a shattering mental breakdown. Gaga mimics Warhol’s detached, alien habits of speech, sounding in recorded interviews often vague, confused, with a little bit of Marilyn Monroe dingbat thrown in for good measure. (In printed interviews, interestingly, her speech is much crisper and more complex.) The Gaga persona is fragile, even psychotic, a word she herself uses. (In her signature “Just Dance” song and first Number One hit, she calls herself “psychotic synch hypnotic”.) Her mid-Atlantic accent, a bit of self-improvement as phony as Madonna’s clipped Briticisms, is another bit of nuttiness.

In reality, No Drama Gaga is professional, stable, consistent. She seems much older than her 23 years. She is punctual and reliable, only getting criticism for the eminently sensible move of recently cancelling a concert (she cited illness) in order to perform on Oprah. Her Haus of Gaga parallels Warhol’s Factory, only apparently with less self-destruction and decidedly more efficiency.

For a time, Gaga appeared carrying an empty teacup and saucer everywhere she went. The gendered teacup (“She”) would be presented to Gaga by an underling on the sidewalk as she stepped out of a car and carried it into a television studio, as if by a mid-century English lady retreating to a drawing room. The whole mad production heightened Gaga’s air of fragility, and called to mind the British aristocrats in wild Gaga-esque hats who bubble to the surface every year at Royal Ascot. (Inevitably, the teacup also alludes to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.) Gaga claimed that she carried around her brilliant device, a sweet little vessel with an interior and matching saucer of peculiar acid purple, for comfort, like some pop stars did with their small dogs. Now the teacup has its own page on Facebook, and I received a greeting from it only yesterday. (In the ultimate meta-Gaga moment, the teacup liked this article and recommended it to others on her site.)

While Gaga’s fashion is strikingly well done, well fitting and well constructed, her attitude is not elitist. With a pretty teacup and a wacky wig, you too can be a Lady. You can recreate her preposterous outfits at a craft fair and fabric store, and Gaga your way through life. She still does her own hair and makeup. Even fame itself is democratic to Gaga: “the fame”, a quasi-mystical term, “comes from within” and is something that can be claimed or projected by anyone, despite actual obscurity. On Oprah and Barbara Walters, Gaga discusses her philosophy of individualism, feeling “like a freak” as a teenager, and hoping to “liberate” her audience. Madonna’s existence at the summit of the A-list, in a position of fame so privileged that she rightly sensed herself alone once Michael Jackson was dead, is something that the singer takes entirely seriously. Next to Gaga, her wardrobe of Versace-Prada is haute bourgeois. Tellingly, Madonna has been to see Gaga in concert not once but twice (in 2009 and 2010); Madonna’s anxiety of influence visits to trendy young artists have provided her own creative turning points.

Gaga is in excellent artistic shape if the point of comparison she unceasingly evokes, at age 23, is Madonna, even if she comes out shy of the mark on nearly every point. Madonna, at age 51, can be safely said to have reworked Western habits of mind regarding femininity and human sexuality, particularly for women. Madonna has spent over a quarter century consuming the finest, most exclusive cultural productions of humanity, usually at their source, from visual artists, fashion designers and film directors. Gaga only spent a semester at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, though she is significantly more learned than Madonna, veteran of a dance program at the University of Michigan, was at the same age. Gaga’s youthful frame of artistic reference is infinitely broader, showing a promising obsessive-compulsive, scholarly character. Madonna is every way an athlete (fitness, technique, crushing discipline). Gaga appears to be pure artist—a word she uses constantly along with terms like “art project” which are foreign to the music industry.

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A naked body, a pair of handcuffs, and a crucifix are the central elements in Madonna’s symbolic vocabulary. Western culture does the work in providing pre-existing narratives and meaning. More recently, she has added the Kabbalistic hocus pocus that doomed Guy Ritchie’s film “Revolver” to obscurantism and obscurity; Kabbalah may be enormously rich in symbolic value, but only a handful of people on earth are qualified to decode it. Madonna began her career with Catholic symbolism worked out over a lifetime of a pretty girl’s hostile provocations, all set in motion at birth by the name “Madonna” itself. Madonna represents tranches of the body politic (women, gays, blacks, Latinos). Gaga represents only the individual, millions at a time. It is easy to imagine the program to unfold from Madonna’s attempts at liberation (women’s, gay, racial): indeed, one could campaign on it. Gaga’s iconography, unlike Madonna’s, is largely empty. While her black-painted lips, for example, refer to Geishas and to German opera singer Klaus Nomi, what does this fact actually mean? The danger with inventing a language of symbols is that, for a while, you may be the only one who speaks it. What is Gaga actually communicating? Is there content or is style the only content? Has Gaga mastered modes of communication without anything to communicate?

A quarter century ago, Cyndi Lauper, her wild fashion sense, and her Yonkers honk first faced a marketing challenge. In 30 seconds of song, Lauper was capable of blowing out your speakers with her awesome imposition of a voice. In her heyday, a displacement of focus was encouraged onto her kooky outfits, at the expense of her musical accomplishment. (Boy George, also possessed of an exceptional voice, was her male counterpart.) Her deliberately mismatched clothes gave her an appealing, Raggedy Ann quality. The emphasis on style over very considerable substance produced heavy media coverage in the short term, but contributed to an unnecessary shortening of their careers. Today, Lauper is a maternal figure for Gaga: they posed together for a MAC Viva Glam campaign for Fall 2009, and Lauper takes a close, friendly interest in her career. Lauper’s promotion (and management) was a mistake; Gaga may be the corrective. She shows every sign of being able to stay a few steps ahead of the media for some time to come. As designers reach out to collaborate with her, her task of constant metamorphosis becomes easier, allowing the focus to shift more decisively to the music, where Gaga’s career will ultimately live or die.

[1] Brian Hiatt, “New York Doll” in Rolling Stone.  Issue 1080 (11 June 2009), 59.

[2] Andrew Murfett, “Lady Gaga” in Sydney Morning Herald (15 May 2009).

(c) Erin O’Brien 2010

Piggies!

June 5th, 2014

nice black piggies 2

It wasn’t until I had my second child that I discovered the joy of piggies.  He thought they were cute and longed for a pig as a pet.

I didn’t feel we could handle a pet pig, even though my research revealed that pigs enjoy watching TV and having pedicures. Some pigs grow to over 250 pounds and have bad tempers. We made do with our dog.

Meanwhile, I have come to love piggies. They are just so fucking cute! Few things are cuter than really cute pigs.

So I liked this photo of a gold pig on a matte black box-thing.

Extrem Iberico Ham smaller

Doesn’t it look beautiful? What great design, I thought.  Whatever the fuck it was. But then,

Extrem Iberico Ham improved

Oh no! It is sleek packaging for a EXTREM, a new brand of Iberian ham, launched by a company called Agriculturas Diversas.

Something about the shock of seeing ham while enjoying the silhouette of a nice golden piggie has really driven home to me what my vegan friends have known all along.

It’s disgusting to eat a pig. Not that I eat much bacon or ham, but I will never do it again, and I won’t cook it for anyone either. Bastards. How dare anyone hurt a nice piggie!

I’m not giving up burgers thought, because I love a good burger with fries, and I’ve already chosen a burger and fries as my last meal, should I end up being executed.

The Steinbeck Overalls

May 31st, 2014

Steinbeck Overalls APC

“Overalls are back this season.” (I’m just quoting net-a-porter, personally I hate them except on toddlers.)

The Steinbeck overalls in chambray, by A.P.C., are ‘a breathable cotton and linen blend.’  $365

I know this is exactly what Steinbeck had in mind when he wrote The Grapes of Wrath


Crazy Mother: A Tragedy in Torrance

May 22nd, 2014

Eugène Delacroix - Medea

Carol Coronado, 30, stabbed her three young children to death and then got into bed with them. The children ranged in age from 2 1/2 to 2 months old. That is red flag number one.

Earlier that morning, Carol had called her mother to say she was ‘going crazy.’ Red flag number two.

Carol’s mother was at work so she called Carol’s sister-in-law, Sandra, and asked her to give Carol a call. Sandra, whose brother Rudy Coronado is Carol’s husband, now reports that Carol denied anything was wrong, but did admit to being exhausted. Sandra could hear babies crying in the background, but that was not unusual. She quotes Carol as saying, “Just tell your brother to calm down.”  Red flags #3, #4, and #5.

Rudy’s mother arrived in the afternoon, while Rudy was outside working on his car. She emerged from the house screaming that the children were dead. She had called 911. Police came and led Carol out of the house, naked under a blanket and covered with blood. She was covered with stab wounds, most of them superficial.

Now, this next part is key:

Carol Coronado, who was taking classes on the Internet, stayed at home with the children while her husband went out early each day to sell car parts at the Alpine Village swap meets.

She kept a cluttered home, which triggered some discord with her husband.

“I believe that was their main issue,” the sister-in-law said. “My brother wanted the house clean for his girls. He wanted to come home to a home-cooked meal. ~ (my italics) Daily Breeze, Larry Altman

Here is the house, described as a former workshop or converted garage. I’ll take the liberty of calling it a shithole.

shithole in torrance

I’m thinking, Andrea Yates. I’m thinking too many babies, postpartum depression, trapped in a shithole, demanding husband, desperation,  no way out.

What are you thinking?

Again With the Awful New Words

May 19th, 2014

nonono

Just because people say it, is it a ‘word’? This is becoming complicated, thanks to the internet and all its attendant evils, which are now too astronomical to count.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has just added 150 new words, making official words out of shit like ‘gamification’ and ‘freegan.’ Remember how upset we were about ‘selfie’? It will never end. Soon, there will be no real words in use, just gibberish.

Every time I learn one of these new ‘words’ my world gets a little bleaker. I just recently learned ‘YOLO’ and ‘MLIF’ although one hopes that such acronyms aren’t considered words by the forces in charge. Oh god, is ‘snapchat’ a word? Here is some trending internet slang, by the way, if you’re not sufficiently discouraged.

Awful words are one thing, but awful usage can be even worse. For example, why have people started using the word ‘so’ to begin a sentence? I read that it was started by Mark Zucherberg, as if he doesn’t have enough to answer for.

How about the ‘because‘ thing. Because idiots.

It’s so hard to keep up.  By the time I find out about a horrible new word and object to it, it’s already in common usage and people will just shrug and defend its existence. (Most of these people are my husband but I assume he speaks for Everyman.)

Any words or word usage bothering you right now? Jump in.

James Freeman: What a Fucking Cunt™!

May 14th, 2014

James Freeman drinks coffee

Let me just say, I love coffee. And by ‘love,’ I mean love, crave, need, and adore. When I travel, I need coffee before I can go get coffee. You get what I’m saying.

And I like ‘good’ coffee. That means I don’t want to order coffee at McDonald’s and I buy Starbucks or Peet’s to make at home.

But there is only so much good to be had in a cup of coffee. That is my stance. It is at odds with a small number of my friends who enjoy paying $5 to watch a guy ceremonially prepare them a single cup of coffee.

Having just discovered Blue Bottle Coffee, founded by James Freeman and described to perfection here, I find my self enraged in the exact way I like to be enraged. Is there a word for that? Not schadenfreude. Wutfreude, maybe? I just tried to construct a German word for this feeling but it turned out to mean ‘sausage stand.’

Let’s let Mr. Freeman dig his own grave here:

Blue Bottle Coffee has grown to a small network of cafes, wholesale partners, an espresso cart, and some vintage German coffee roasters. We are still united by the simple purpose of getting great coffee to everyone who asks for it.

Please. He means, everyone who’ll plunk down the money. But wait. There is more joy to be had in the liner notes of the beans they sell. Try this:

“Every year, our producer partner Aida Batlle pulls together a selection of some of the most delicious peaberry coffees from her farms in El Salvador. Once her Grand Reserve is available, it tends to stir up the sort of frenzied obsession among coffee people that Pliny the Younger stirs up among beerophiles – or that a well-salted salami stirs up among puppies. This year, the coffee surges with violet, plum, citrus and cocoa.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoa, now we’re talking. This is bullshit of the highest order. It is bullshit beyond satire, almost. Trying to find out how much they charge for a cup of coffee is exhausting. I gather it is $7 for a siphon coffee, which equals 2 cups. I have scanned fifty-thousand yelp reviews, which miraculously never mention an actual price.  Perhaps James Freeman threatens to clobber them with a vintage German coffee roaster if they publish any prices.

Waiting in line seems to be a vital part of the Blue Bottle Coffee experience. They even show a nice long line on their website, as if it’s a good thing.

waiting for coffee

Blue Bottle’s investors include all the usual suspects from Silicon Valley. The company has tons of money but Freeman is really fastidious about everything. He won’t let supermarkets sell his coffee and explains his philosophy by quoting from the Myth of Sisyphus. God, what a Fucking Cunt™!

swirly pretentious coffee

I can quote Camus too, motherfucker!

There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn

He wasn’t talking about coffee but I am. People like James Freeman are responsible for everything I hate. The relentless obsession with quality, the pretense of being authentic, the microscopic attention to superfluous detail, the elitist celebration of purity, it’s all awful.

What could be more bourgeois than this much fuss about a cup of coffee?

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