Technical Cashmere

Let me first list all the reasons you shouldn’t buy this cashmere t-shirt.

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It is made by the brand Kit and Ace, the brand created by the wife of the guy who ran Lululemon and said we were all too fat for their pants. Not only is this guy a jerk, but if you read the NYT’s piece about the horrifying company culture of Lululemon (Ayn Rand, required self-transformation workshops for employees), you will also be particularly worried about the kind of spiritual capitalism associated with anything he touches.

Also this shirt costs about $60.

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Armed with this information, you should now consider purchasing a piece of technical cashmere from this company.

It drapes in that special way that makes you look rich.

It is THE SOFTEST.

It is machine washable.

It is warm when you are cold, cooling when you sweat.

I want everything they make.

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-D

My humble suggestions for a balanced tv diet

There is too much tv, but only if you are bad at watching it. Watch the best stuff, weed out the mediocre, and embrace the really fun stuff that balances out the “good” tv. A healthy tv diet cannot be all premium, sad, tension-filled drama. Nor can it be network crap (I’m looking at you, weird people who watch Madame Secretary). A list of what you should be watching right now (things that are actually airing, please refer to my list of all time favorites for not-airing shows).

  1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend–It plays fast and loose with mental illness. But a basic Gilmore Girls-esque weirdness anchors it. Also it is actively trying to entertain you (as opposed to impress you). More shows should do that.
  2. The Leftovers–This is your premium vegetables. Don’t watch the first season. It is too sad. The second season is totally comprehensible without the first season and is so much more interesting and dynamic.
  3. The Good Wife–It is better than ever. Even without two of my most beloved characters, this show is zinging.
  4. Scandal–It got good again! The fourth season was terrible. Let’s never speak of it again. But this season has all the energy and fun of the first season. And it makes for a delightful drunk popcorn-for-dinner night alongside . . .
  5. Grey’s Anatomy–I know, I know. This is not something you admit out loud. But this show, post Derek’s death, has achieved something singular. It is totally character driven (what a relief to be released from the plot adrenaline of your Homelands or the unbearable How to Get Away With Murder). It also performs Cheers-like emotional labor. It is a place where everybody knows your name, and you just want to see what your old friend Bailey has to say about the new intern’s hot hair. A good tv diet must include things that are not stressful, and this show has achieved the zen of complete catharsis without stress.

Feeling overwhelmed with all these options? Perhaps you should give up some bad habits. Homeland: I’m not there yet, but I realize I will have to give up this show. It is no longer about anything except stressing me out. Ditto Nashville. Omg, this show is the worst and I hope I will find the courage to give it up. Quantico: I thought we were going to be bffs. The pilot was cake. But boy does it not deliver in the subsequent episodes. Also, I am working on becoming a Jane the Virgin person (it is not an entirely natural fit), so I need to really weed out these weak links.

-D

The State of Tay Tay Studies

Ryan Adams’ cover album of Tay Tay is great fodder for armchair cultural studies, but I still want to promote the greatest piece ever written about Tay Tay: “Contemplating Taylor Swift’s Navel” by Carl Wilson. Is there a self at the origin of her current pop instantiation? Does her invisible navel prove her dislocation from real human processes?

The gender debate around Adams’ covers (did he mansplain her work?) is not the right framing. The only people ‘splaining are culture critics who feel shame about their Taylorphilia and now have proof that she is not all Swedish pop-gnomes via Nashville. But the genre question (is her work better de-popified?) is also a gender question because we no longer have famous lady singer songwriters (Jenny Lewis or Cat Power are really just 90s artists who have held on in the 2000s). Ryan Adams’ covers point to the absence of an entire genre of lady music.

But so what? We live in a lady-rich pop music culture, from Tay Tay, Beyonce, Haim, to Lorde. This is not the era of Britney Spears vs. Lilith Fair. Those two poles have disappeared. Indicatively, Haim wants to reboot Lilith Fair with Tay Tay headlining.

I want to argue that Tay Tay doesn’t need Ryan Adams’ work to remind us of her singer-songwriter cred. If we compare her to Ani DiFranco and Liz Phair, as opposed to Ryan Adams or Sufjan Stevens, it’s clear that Tay Tay is part of a tradition of highly rhythmic, catchy, and emotionally simple songwriting. Listen to the anthem of my youth, Ani DiFranco’s Both Hands. No, really do yourself a favor and listen to it while laying on your floor clutching a pillow to your chest. This could be a Tay Tay song.

Maybe we have forgotten how pop-ish our favorite authentic ladies were even at the height of the singer-songwriter craze.

But Tay Tay has let me down. The recent furor over the Ryan Adams’ cover album has almost overwhelmed the true evil at the heart of Taylor: the “squad.” As someone who actually attended Lilith Fair (with my mom, all my girlfriends and their moms came too), the presentation of Tay Tay’s squad during her tour is a gross parody of Lilith Fair’s already-questionable feminism, which itself was a parody of Riot Grrrl empowerment. Tay Tay’s “friends” demonstrate the worst version of girl power: hetero-lady friendship dressed up as empowerment, tacitly stealing energy from actual feminist activists. But Tay Tay adds the gut-wrenching twist of not actually being friends with anyone on her “squad.” If Tay Tay has ever eaten pizza and watched a movie with Mariska Hargitay, I’ll eat my hat. But I’m pretty sure my hats are safe.

Thus the Lilith Fair comparison is even more important. Tay Tay should headline a new Lilith Fair and claim her lineage in the pantheon of lady singer-song writers, mostly so she can learn the most important thing about women: you don’t have to be friends. I don’t remember any demonstrations of female friendship at Lilith Fair. Women were making out with women, singing about their ex in very solitary performances, and sometimes dueting. But nobody claimed to be buddies. Can you imagine Sarah McLachlan and Tracy Chapman being friends? Also just ’cause, let’s all take a moment and pay homage at the church of The Indigo Girls:

-D

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