Monday, May 29, 2017

Bits n things

So I only ever blog when I am bored and stoned, and since those two things don't happen nearly often enough...yeah.

Anyoo just a running list of things I am/want/need lately:

1. Pretty much these pants:

These look like the Jessie Kamm sailor pants. I found these at Madewell but they were sold out so I bought these, these, and these. Haven't arrived yet. Guardedly optimistic that something will work. Considered the Everlane version but ended up passing because of the limited color selection and the fact that they sound stretchy, which is not optimal for containing my hips.

2. Nicole Guerriero's daily Vlogs
She got burned out on doing the makeup tutorials and has been uploading daily vlogs instead that mostly consist of her driving her massive Escalade through St. Petersburg, Florida while lip syncing the words to every song on the radio and eating way too many avocado egg rolls and playing with her cats. It sounds horrible but it's not because she's just real and funny and also seems like she gives really good hugs at her meet and greets.

3. LA 92 Documentary
There were like 6 documentaries that came out recently on the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots. This one is told entirely through news and eyewitness footage. No talking heads or voiceovers. It's really well done. And sadly, still timely.

4. Paris Hilton Nostalgia

Why not? We've already revisited other (W.) Bush-era fashions such as Juicy Couture, Adidas pool slides, and baby bags. Our early 2000s would be remiss if we didn't pay cultural homage to the original pointless celebrity and sex tape star. I hope she enjoys some kind of campy, ironic resurgence. She still fascinates me.

5. Summer Playlist
Drake or Bob Seger. There's no in between.

And that is all the dispatch we have from planet Joanna for today.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Things to do when you fear the impending demise of our Democracy



So...it's been an interesting past several months. Among the many, many bad things that have happened in the world, I am still living with my parents, I turned 34, and there's been some unwelcome death and sickness in my family. Which is all part of life, really, and for the most part I've been able to self-soothe so that the aforementioned setbacks don't totally derail my happiness (that's what 15 years of therapy will do for you...I'm practically a psychopharmacologist!!) but the one worry/fear that I cannot soothe away no matter what drugs I take or how many downward dogs I do is the fear that there's an evil orange man who has just been elected to the most powerful position on the planet, and that even if he somehow dies or get himself impeached, the one waiting in the wings to take his place is on a radical jesus crusade that may somehow be even more terrifying than being at the mercy of a legit autocrat with narcissistic personality disorder.

What are we to do? I post on Facebook incessantly. I keep track of all the fucked up shit that's been happening. I sign petitions, write letters to the White House, deleted my Uber app (which may or may not be helpful). But the fact remains that I firmly believe we are entering an era of unprecedented danger, that our country is being helmed by a madman, and, perhaps most worryingly, that there are hordes of Americans who believe my fears are unfounded and that the danger we face is exaggerated or manufactured by a bunch of sore losers. Never mind the fact that historians and political scientists could provide reams of evidence comparing our current state to what has happened in Venezuela, China, Russia, and yes, Germany, but the facts still fall on deaf ears. For anyone experiencing the same fears/impotent rage/frustration as me, I've compiled a list of things you can do besides scream into the abyss (or in addition to screaming into the abyss, because sometimes that just feels good).

1. Contact your member of congress
There are two approaches to this. If you live in an area where your MoC hasn't taken a stance against Trump and his policies, call his or her office to voice your displeasure. Attend town hall meetings with as many friends as you can organize (starting a Facebook group is a good idea). The important thing to remember is that MoCs are uniquely susceptible to changing their tune if they sense a sea change within their constituency because they're up for reelection every 2 years. So they're basically always in campaign mode. Remember, if enough people reach out to them personally, they will be incentivized to listen, or ignore at their own peril.

If you happen to live in an area where your MoC has already spoken out against Trump, lucky you. Consider taking the same actions as above, but letting them know that you are behind them and appreciate their dedication to fighting the Trump agenda. As you can imagine, they don't often receive kudos from happy citizens, so your praise will go a long way towards making sure they continue to fight the good fight.

If you don't know who your Representative in Congress is, visit www.callmycongress.com to find out. You can also visit www.govtrack.us to see their individual voting record on key issues.

2. Put your money where your mouth is
Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, The NAACP, and countless other organizations all need monetary help to mount expensive legal battles against the Trump administration. Donating money is actually pretty much the easiest thing you can do. It takes absolutely none of your time.  I don't recommend doing that alone, but if you have the means, do it. Jezebel has an excellent list of organizations that could use financial help here.

3. Volunteer for those organizations
Getting involved on a local level is something that makes a huge difference. Just ask the Tea Party. And listen, if you've thus far focused all of your philanthropic and volunteer time on puppies and kittens, please, I beg of you--spend at least as much time helping the minority groups that are being directly affected by Trumps xenophobic, homophobic, isolationist policies. I get it, dogs are cute but human beings need help too. Oh, here's another idea: if you work for a company that claims to espouse progressive ideals, encourage your HR department to support a work-sponsored day of action.

4. Fucking vote for chrissake. Make it a point to never miss an election, even the small ones. Now we know what can happen if we stay home. This isn't a joke. There are real consequences to our apathy and inaction. If you live in a true blue state (or red for that matter) and think your vote doesn't matter, maybe that's why we should look into supporting electoral reform so that every vote counts. Currently only 11 states have signed the National Popular Vote Interstate Contract, an agreement to award all of a state's votes in the electoral college to the candidate who wins the popular vote. Find out if your state is one of them here, and if it isn't, time to call up your MoC buddy on the phone again.

While the women's march was an uplifting powerful moment, ultimately it won't foment change in the system, and it won't serve as a deterrent to Trump or his policies. Real, lasting change has to come about through the existing systems of government and through broad action to fight Trump policy on a national scale. The time to hesitate is through.




Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Last 5 Things I bought (myself)

Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean I am not incessantly thinking about myself and the things I desire to purchase for the most important person in my life (me). Why would that drive cease just as the sales are beginning?!

Anyhoo, as an exercise in--I don't know what--here are the last 5 items I bought myself in this most wonderful, giving time of year:


1. Valentino Tango pumps on mega sale from Ssense. The two year wait has ended.

2. A vintage cardigan with a black fox-fur collar
3. Merino wool socks from Falke
4. Knockoff CastaƱer wedges for Mexico. Ordered from Bluefly with the black lace-up, came with a white one. May be too lazy to return.
5. Reformation Chemise dress

This was a total saga. I bought it when Ref had their 30% off sale right after Thanksgiving, dress ended up being too small through the hip (I don't know what possessed me to buy an XS). Tried to exchange after the dress was full-price again, found out that they don't "do" exchanges. They will refund you what you paid for the dress but then I would have had to buy it at full price. Needed it for a wedding so I bit the bullet and ordered it in a S at full price ($248). Got it home, decided it just wasn't super flattering on me, returned it again. It's now on sale for $99. If your shoulders and hips are the same width, go for it. The Velvet is gorgeous.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Laurel

She was in my dream last night. It was a dream in which I was clearly dwelling in the past--a past where I knew what the outcome would be. I was staying at her house. She asked if I could stop and...I can't quite remember this part...but basically stop somewhere and debug myself of all potential pathogens I had acquired traveling and being outside. It didn't seem like a strange request. I asked a cab driver if she knew anywhere I could go to do such a thing and she said no, so Laurel said 'forget it just come over.' Soon I was in her house, not her house but a house, with her again, bathed in her magic and whimsy like old times. And I knew she was going to die, that in fact she already HAD died, but it was nighttime and we went to bed and I slept on her couch for what seemed like minutes but then it was morning and she came in and said, "I slept so well!"

There were other details I can't remember. A distinctive feeling of having been there and knowing that all of it had happened before. But mostly I was happy. Happy to be with her again for a short time, even though I probably knew that I was dreaming. How else would the entire dream have been suffused with the knowledge that she would die?

It's been 1 year, 4 months, and 25 days. It's still just the very first chapter of my life without her. I think about her randomly and frequently, maybe when a picture of Blac Chyna comes out where her head size/thigh ratio seems impossible (must discuss) or when I'm trying to remember the name of a long-forgotten Rock of Love contestant (of course she would know, and probably interviewed her for 944 magazine back in the day). I was staying in Mendocino a few weeks ago and was so taken in by the striking beauty of the trees and ocean I think I whispered, "I miss you" out loud which felt stupid and satisfying at the same time. I have slowly lost the compulsion to send her a text message. I still have one of her voicemails saved on my phone.

Sometimes I flip through a Dropbox folder with her press clippings, writings, and photos compiled by friends and family called "Laurel's Archive." It is my chance to know her at times and stages I never really did. There she is in a cheerleading outfit, knee cocked, the same face I knew, the same dimples. At her high school prom, plump-cheeked and sporting an impressive 80's bang situation. They're all pictures I never saw when she was alive. The stories surrounding them likely lost to time and the people who were there and knew her then.

Her writing is profoundly good. It's one of the greatest mementos she left behind. In the archive are several poems she wrote. Usually reading other people's poetry is about as fun as sitting in on their therapy session (i.e. not nearly as interesting as you'd think) but of course her poems are devastatingly good. One of my favorites, untitled is simply:

My drowning pool is the loveliest shade of blue. Really, you should see it.
It's always just the right temperature and everything.
I climb right in with a big smile on my face.
I sink down and down
until the water covers my ears and I can't hear a word you say.



it.



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Too heavy to sustain only with your arms




Images from The Scientology Handbook (1994)
The above images (inexplicable without context and probably no less inexplicable with it) are from the 871-page Scientology Handbook, published in 1994 which is currently available for purchase on Amazon. Since reading Amazon reviews has become one of my favorite Internet past times, I've collected some of the more impassioned endorsements/condemnations here:
"Buy this book, use it, read it, live it! You do not have to be a Scientologist for this to work any more that you need to be a physicist for gravity to work!"
"A book easy to to read with beautiful and explaining images. I'm studying it yet.You must read it over a table because it's too heavy to sustain only with your arms."
"The entire educational system should adopt this, and it is so easy you could do it in under a week. The cause of suppression - since reading this I have never had a cold or illness since. There is much more, and this book would make the best gift to a son or daughter heading off to college, or for any adult that is not flourishing."
"In one sentence, my decesion to buy this book was the best decesion I ever made in my life and it helped me become very happy and successful. I am 33, and the Chairman of an Internet Company set to go public."
"Essentially, Scientology is like Candy Crush; the more levels you clear, the more you spend." 
Thanks for the time waster dangerousminds

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On Cultutal Appropriation


I don't remember when the term "cultural appropriation" first entered the vernacular, but it most certainly entered my vocabulary as a result of reading Jezebel and blogs on the Gawker network (RIP). In the earliest examples I can recall, it was used in response to (white) hipsters donning 'Native American' headdresses at festivals (use of air quotes to denote the headpieces in question were almost certainly not created by, nor for actual Native Americans). I am on board with hating this particular fashion statement as a matter of course, and agree that it is an unambiguously callous and tone deaf act given the wider European history of systematically wiping out the Native American population. Columbus, et al.

But then, as it inevitably tends to do in the insular and fart-soaked virtual chatrooms also known as the Gawker comment sections, the outrage expanded to include white people with cornrows, anyone getting butt injections, eating tacos, wearing big earrings, and taking yoga classes. And thus I increasingly find myself wracked by self-doubt when it comes to getting dressed. Can I get acrylic nails? Can I braid my hair? Can I wear that squash blossom necklace my boyfriend got me for my birthday? If I want to avoid being a cultural appropriator, the answer to all of the above is a resounding NO.

Now I myself am as over-educated and liberal-minded as the average Jezebel commenter, and I understand that donning the visual markers traditionally associated with a minority population if you are not part of said minority group can be problematic if you do not understand the deeper context of those visual markers. But the reality is also that we live in a global culture, and with the globalization of commerce and the Internet of Things taking over our cultural landscape, it is nearly impossible to shop or eat or merely exist without coming into contact with different nations and varying aesthetics. And besides, to not wear/eat/consume anything that doesn't directly correlate to your racial, ethnic, or national history is not only nearly impossible, it surely carries with it its own set of complexities and insensitivities. We all know (for history and Donald Trump tells us) what happens when cultural "otherness" is spurned in favor of jingoistic nationalism. And it's not pretty either.

So if it is both deeply offensive and impossible to avoid, what then? There has got to be a way to differentiate between "blind appropriation, cultural insensitivity, and outright racism" and genuine appreciation and intellectual curiosity about other cultures and other ways of being/dressing/thinking/and eating. I.e. there has to be some middle ground between Kardashian levels of black cultural theft and, I dunno, walking around looking like Georgina Bloomberg. Surely, right? But maybe not. Or maybe hyper-vigilance is a necessary first step to assuage the transgressions of the past several hundred years. 

Perhaps the key (besides avoiding blatant rip-offs of important religious and ethnic visual themes) is to simply be more conscious of what we (white people) wear and what it means to its culture of origin. I would liken this approach to knowing more about where your clothing is made (which I have written about previously). The only problem is, whether or not I take an academic approach to learning more about why, for instance, Oaxacan women wear the traditional huipil embroidered blouses, it will still be viewed as insensitive, myopic, tone-deaf, and ultimately exploitative to wear that pretty Mexican embroidered blouse I found at the thrift store because people will assume I'm just another white asshole. And I'm not going to lie, I don't want to be viewed that way any more than I want to wear Chinos and polo shirts.

I guess what I am (hypothetically asking) here is: is being aware and being educated a 'pass' for me to incorporate the visual cues of another culture? Because I have heard it both ways. Either the problem is that a white person would have dreads at all or the problem is they would refuse to acknowledge the unassailable black origins of that hairstyle.

Sorry if this all seems a little bit...petty given the number of black deaths at the hands of police officers in the past months and as recently as this past weekend, but I started this post ages ago because it is something I think about regularly, being a person who is predisposed to sartorial experimentation and adornment. By no means do I want to assert that I am pobrecita because now I can't wear whatever I want whenever I want to. I merely hope that it will someday be possible to incorporate the visual markers of other cultures as a celebration and exaltation of those cultures. In the words of the great Dodai Stewart: "You can steal from a culture, or you can be born of and truly appreciate that culture while recognizing you are not quite of it." And I will do my best to shun the former and embrace the latter.


Monday, August 15, 2016

If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world


In my near-constant and endless wanderings through the virtual world, I recently discovered (thanks to Flashbak) the work of Miroslav Tichy, a Czech photographer who remained largely unknown until his photos were finally exhibited in 2004. Known as the "perverted flaneur," Tichy roamed the streets of his hometown Kyjov in the Czech Republic with large, ungainly homemade cameras fashioned out of cardboard, wire, tin cans, and spools of thread. The homemade cameras let small amounts of light leak onto the negatives, giving his work a hazy, dreamlike quality.

His preferred subject matter was women, and all of his shots are candid, voyeuristic photos taken surreptitiously on the street. He was likely able to get away with this because his cameras looked so shoddy most people assumed they were incapable of taking actual photos (see below).

Tichy, with one of his homemade cameras
Tichy had a refreshingly postmodern take on art and technique. Of photography, he said:

First of all, you have to have a bad camera and if you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.

This philosophy could just as readily be applied to the type of talentless fame we've come to expect from reality TV and middling pop stars. Hey, it worked for Meghan Trainor. If you can't be good, be bad. But don't just be bad, be the worst.









All of his photographs are untitled and undated, but span a time frame from roughly the 1960s through the 1980s. He died in 2011.