Habitus Jeans

I can’t in good conscience recommend these jeans to you.

  1. They cost $200.
  2. I could not sit or walk in them for the first month.
  3. You are not supposed to wash them

But . . . I think this is the best I’ve ever looked in a pair of pants.

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Marc Maron has a whole essay on these pants. And I understand why. When I bought them I had to lay down on the floor of the dressing room to get them on, which really made me face my darkest self.

But every time I wear them I feel an ascetic pleasure in the pain of “wearing them in.” Every second of pain will be rewarded with another quarter inch of give. Or who knows, maybe they are slowly reshaping me.

D.

Julie and I went to Barre3 to produce some content for you

We started out with a butternut squash smoothie. IMG_1398

The St. Louis suburbs are pretty good at being suburbs. They have barre3 after all. But they’re not the best suburbs. We had to get our pre-workout smoothies at a Schnucks, which is no Whole Foods.

I’m very excited to introduce the blog to barre3, which is my honest to god plan b if my current career doesn’t work out. As a franchise they know what they’re doing. Good body mechanics, child care, and most importantly, excellent branding. It feels like you are working out in a soothing Creamsicle.

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Also they anticipated our desire to take photos of ourselves bonding and working out! We were taking rookie photos with bad lighting when the instructor came over and said “would you like me take your photo? Also would you like some props?” This wall is actually lit for this purpose!

Apparently it was a challenging workout for Julie, because she declared “I need a martini” afterwards. Fortunately in the suburbs, they anticipate these needs.

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Why do mall restaurants cost as much as fancy Brooklyn restaurants? Well the good thing about this really expensive chain restaurant is that you can eat there in your sweaty workout gear.

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We went to Nordstrom afterwards to buy shoes, but we forgot to produce content for you there.

-D

Beauty in the Era of Trump

I recently asked my students to show me the Youtube videos they love, and . . . wow. We are living in a dark age of terrible observational comedy, pranks, and not very well thought out identity politics. But, glass houses. I’m not not proud of my Youtube consumption either. Recently, however, beauty Youtube for old ladies has made a turn towards the political. It happened because of Trump. Something feels particularly icky about “hauls” and sponsored videos when we have a snake-oil salesman in the White House.

Our beloved Anna and our strange friend Mercedes have been inspired to stop pushing products at us. And they are inspired by a genuinely delightful Youtuber: Kimberly Clark. Her videos are funny and genuinely woke.

Kimberly Clark is not radical because she is a drag queen. In fact her new videos have thrown into relief the key role drag queens, and appropriations of drag queen makeup, have played in the explosive growth of the beauty industry. She is radical because she wants to buy everything (so I can relate to her), but she is doing the valuable work of talking us and herself down from actually buying all the products.

Another valuable resource in this radical anti-buying stuff turn is Dr. Dray on Youtube. She is a dermatologist who, for reasons that are unclear to me, is giving away her expertise for free. She is willing to answer basically all questions in the comments. Her wisdom is timely: put your sunscreen on, use retinoids for heavy duty wrinkle/acne work, stop irritating your skin with serums, oils, and masks, and see a dermatologist for genuine skin problems. Amen.

-D

Let Us All Bend and Snap

 

Full Disclosure: I now spend eighty percent of my Youtube time on the millennium dance complex videos. There are about five different choreographer-specific Youtube channels that make videos at this dance studio. Mostly it is really accomplished LA dance video dancers. But they also teach classes to wannabees. Increasingly I love the videos of the not so great dancers. The first video is full of Big Deal dancers (Jade for instance is a genuine wholebrity for thirteen year old dance competition girls, and many of the other  dancers in this video tour with Beyonce, etc.). The second video is the not famous people. And, as they say on So You Think You Can Dance, they are dancing for their lives.

Happy Friday! I’ll be practicing my floor work all weekend.

-D

Julie and I went to lunch to produce some content for you

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. . . also the pants have arrived!

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and, I don’t know, I think they look great.

-D.

(oh also, the pants, t-shirt, and shoes are Everlane. Why aren’t these people paying me?)

More Light in the Darkness

So many good things to share:

1. The Good Fight–the bad news: there is no way to watch this without getting a bullshit CBS all access account, which after the one week free trial is $7 a month. This is extortion because the show is so good that I’m forced to download this dumb app and pay. The good news: this show feels like the people who made the Good Wife held a conference for educated fans and critics and used all the input. No terrible Alicia wigs, no ignoring excellent characters. All your favorite characters, formerly stuck in B plots, now have A plots. And Cush Jumbo (Luca) seems to have taken all the money wasted on Alicia’s bad wigs and invested in a new wardrobe of embossed prints.

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3. Big Little Lies on HBO, starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern is everything you ever wanted from a TV show about rich beautiful people fighting about parenting.

2. Did you enjoy that video of dancing I posted two weeks ago? Are you thinking a lot about how queer people are unsafe? Then I suggest the documentary Paris is Burning, now streaming on Netflix. Drag Balls in 1980s New York are fascinating, the dancing is exquisite, and it’s a useful reminder that making bathrooms (or marriage) the central issue of queer politics is a little odd. Let’s think bigger people!

3. I am a broken record: Who Weekly is the podcast-tonic for our times. But the interview with Spencer Pratt that aired last week is next level. Spencer Pratt should be awarded an honorary degree at the Cultural Studies Association for his visionary work and insightful analysis.

-D.

 

 

Adulthood is boring and dumb

A Guide to Oscar Prep

As a committed Oscar movie viewer, I’m happy to say that the chore of seeing every nominated movie this year has actually left me deeply satisfied. Most of my favorite movies of the last year (plus the last two months) have been nominated. I want to mention the one movie that has zero nominations and encourage you to go see it as part of this movie frenzy: Patterson (Adam Driver, bus driver, poetry, Jim Jarmusch).

The Oscars are going to break my heart and award La La Land everything, but the speeches will be great this year. A preview:

  1. Hidden Figures– it’s entertaining and political. I was surprised to find it is not secretly conservative on racial issues (it is not at all like The Help). It also presents you with the most vivid and counterintuitive encapsulation of racialized labor: the “colored computer.”
  2. Lion– I am shocked at how much I love this movie. Like Hidden Figures I thought it would be schlock designed to make old people feel uplifted. Instead it kind of breaks you open so far that you can’t ever fully repair the rupture. So even in the moment of resolution (that you know is coming, because this is a true story), I felt so raw and the aware of all the pain that led up to that moment, that I couldn’t neatly fold it away in my brain. Also INDIA. Any movie that makes you think about how big India is for two hours is doing important work.
  3. Manchester By the Sea–See this even if you are concerned about Casey Affleck’s crimes. For those of you who have read A Little Life, I think there is a very similar kind of aesthetic project going on here, and I want to talk to you about it. As with A Little Life, critics are concerned with the similarity to melodrama. I think there is something about our moment that is cultivating “excess emotion” masterpieces. It freaks people out because there is something unapologetically satisfying about the proxy-pain, but that’s the thing, it is deeply satisfying. It rejects the boring emotional minimalism associated with high art.
  4. Captain Fantastic–I also want to talk to you about this movie. Like the others it is fun and tragic, and Viggo is very worthy. But it is hitting on a fantasy we are all flirting with these days: retreating from the fascist dumbness of the world. Its reflections on the ethics of this kind of retreat are fascinating.
  5. Moonlight–JUST GO SEE IT ALREADY. If you feel like it is going to traumatize you, it won’t.
  6. I’ve already suggested it, so this is redundant, but I’m so excited that Hell or Highwater  was nominated because now people might see it!
  7. Arrival–Lucky you! This is on your homework list and it’s not homework. It has so many interesting things to say about communication and its soundscape of weird sounds deserves all the Oscars. I would happily see this movie again. I’m also really sad that Amy wasn’t nominated. I’d take her performance over Natalie Portman’s Jackie any day.
  8. Jackie–This is the exception to my general thesis about this year’s movies. Not just bad aesthetically, but potentially morally suspect.
  9. I’m pretending I’ve seen Fences–can I just keep pretending?
  10. I am also pretending that Hacksaw Ridge is not nominated.
  11. Nocturnal Animals, Elle, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Loving are left on my list. If you would like to coerce me into watching any of them, let me know!

-D

Blah Blah Land

What is great about a musical? La La Land seems to think that the most important thing to learn from Singing in the Rain is that things were better in the past. Please remember, however, that the whole point of Singing in the Rain was: “embrace innovation.” La La Land, a movie I’m practically alone in disliking, is about to win a bunch of awards and its director/writer Damien Chazelle will be congratulated for bringing back the movie musical. This is a shame and a misunderstanding of musicals. (I want to recognize Richard Brody’s perfect take down of the film, for which most of this will merely be an extended illustration, plus more references to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).

La La Land is a musical in form but not in spirit. The tragedy is that we are living in a moment when many excellent things are being made in the spirit of a musical, but not in its classical form.

Here are some things that are actually great about musicals:

  1. They allow the bravado of GREAT singing and dancing to overwhelm narrative. A superlative voice or body breaks up the momentum of a story and transports you through its sheer excellence.

  1. Musicals, made often by those outside the mainstream, perform a kind of pathos that is too much for the normal world. In their essence, musicals make space for difference through their weirdness.

 

  1. Musicals comment on the world around them (usually with stinging comedy). Singing and dancing are not trans-historical universal art forms, they are the perfect crystallization of what a particular moment feels like.

 

I’m reverent of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s commitment to the essence of musical theater and its bravery in getting rid of the all the stuff that old people feel nostalgic about when they think of musicals (or when they think they are thinking of musicals). Hey, what if everyone’s not white? What if the music is in the vernacular of the era? What if we use the ability to have fantasy set pieces to emphasize the actual mental illness and unhealthiness of romantic constructs? La La Land’s doubling down on the nostalgia of musicals is not only regressive, it’s not in the spirit of musicals.

-D

Top 7

These are not the best things (Moonlight, Fates and Furies, Better Call Saul). These are the things I enjoyed the most; the things that I had so much pleasure consuming I wish I could experience them again for the first time.

  1. Hands to Myself-Selena Gomez. This is probably the song I listened to the most, the song I secretly choreographed a dance to, the song that I wish every cardio dance class used. And for albums: it’s a close tie between Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert’s 2016 albums. Miranda Lambert’s album is almost too substantive for this list, inching towards “best” instead of most enjoyable.
  2. John Mulaney’s special The Comeback Kid.
  3. Keep in mind that I have not yet seen La La Land or Edge of Seventeen, but the movie that filled me with the most delight was Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Close second was Hell or High Water. Also this movie is not officially from 2o16, but 2016 is the year that it finally came to Netflix where you can STILL watch it (as an “indie” movie it’s release date might as well be the year it comes to streaming anyway). Lucky Them starring Toni Colette and Thomas Hayden Church was my favorite romantic comedy of the year. These two actors are currently being misused in a variety of movies and tv dramas so it is a great reminder of their charisma and smolder.
  4. Re-watching Working Girl, which I actually re-watched twice this year. Once in desolate Erie, PA then again after moving to a fancy new city where I have a fancy new job. Coincidence? Basically I started the year as Joan Cusack and ended as Melanie Griffith spinning in her swivel chair. Also Let the River Run is the official song of every professional success.

5. I really got back into romance novels this year, but realized that romance novels are universally terrible at plotting. You know who is great at plots? Young adult writers! Thus the perfect combination is romance + YA. I give you Sarah J. Maas’s second series A Court of Thorns and Roses. The other great thing about Maas is that she heralds the end of Hunger Games/Twilight mimicry in YA. Maas is not interested in metaphors that knock you over the head with their social relevancy or toying with our repressed desires. No, Maas trusts that you are a nerd who is deeply interested in elfish political systems that have no parallels to our own world. And she is a truly sex positive author who assumes you’ve already worked out your desire for elf ears.

6. The Everlane Street Shoe-best purchase I made this year. They make me feel fresh like Ellen.

7. It’s a tie! The Durrells of Corfu and Poldark. I have, as of now, still not convinced anyone to watch the Durrells. It is only six episodes people! Please get on it, I desperately need to discuss the finale with someone. I also have to apologize to friend of the blog Liz, who has been telling me to watch Poldark for the last six months. An eighteenth century mining operation, a love triangle, class intrigue: why did I resist this show?! This is also a reminder to you all to just give in and watch whatever people tell you to watch.

-D.

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