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Ahem, just following up…

…on my post from a few days ago.


nice moves.


thee satisfaction

Every March I pine for Austin because I know it’s warmer there than here and also because hundreds of journalists, critics, industry folks, and music appreciators from all over descend on the city for SXSW and sing its quirky praises. I read their blogs and miss the warmth and the tacos and the swimming holes and the dive bars. And yes, right: I also learn about new music.

People keep talking about Thee Satisfaction, a couple of Seattle-based lady rappers. They’re queer, feminist, political, super-good, have a nice Sun Ra extraterrestrial vibe, and like so many dude MCs they rhyme about stealing your girlfriend and seducing her. But it sounds so much better coming from them. As does the word “bitch.” I’m loving them right now.


Women of Troy

Here’s something for your ears (and eyes): a multi-media project that combines poetry, photography, and audio footage to create documentary poems. It’s a real collaborative media mishmash. And it’s more amazing to listen to than to read about. But a little background anyway: radio producer Lu Olkowski teamed up with poet Susan B.A. Somers-Willet and photographer Brenda Ann Keneally to chronicle the lives of working class mothers in Troy, NY. All three of them acted as reporters, including Susan, and Susan’s poems became the narrative backbone of the various radio stories and audio slide shows that resulted.

It’s some seriously amazing work. Sad, funny (okay, not this particular video), tough, unsentimental. A few of the poems were featured on Re:sound last week, along with an interview with Lu. Check it.


Girl-Drive: Badass Feminist Roadtrip!

I just stumbled across an article in The Reader about Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein, two young women who set off on a cross-country roadtrip to interview all kinds of women — old, young, conservative, liberal, rich, poor — about what feminism means to them.

They blogged about it and then they wrote a book about it and then maybe the Tigress book club will read that book after finishing up with the harrowing, ridiculous, un-put-downable “Valley of the Dolls”. Or maybe the Tigresses will just take off on a road trip of their own. Who’s with me?!



a fairytale

I’ve been reading “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde, which is all about gift economies and what it means to be an artist in today’s economic world. It’s pretty great, so far. And it includes a really niceĀ  fairy tale that I thought I’d re-post here. The morals are pretty clear, I think: share your gifts and don’t cross your mom. It’s a little long, but I think it’s worth it, for it’s funny fairytale language. And I will insert a picture part way through, so you can have a break.

Once upon a time there was an old woman and she had a leash of daughters. One day the eldest daughter said to her mother, “it is time for me to go out into the world and seek my fortune.” “I shall bake a loaf of bread for you to carry with you,” said the mother. When the bread came from the oven the mother asked her daughter, “would you rather have a small piece and my blessing or a large piece and my curse?” “I would rather have a large piece and your curse,” replied the daughter.

Off she went down the road and when the night came wreathing around her she sat at the foot of a wall to eat her bread. A ground quail and her twelve puppies gathered near, and the little birds of the air. “Wilt thou give us a part of thy bread?” they asked. “I won’t, you ugly brutes,” she replied. “I haven’t enough for myself”. “My curse on thee,” said the quail, “and thy mother’s curse which is the worst of all.” The girl arose and went on her way, and the piece of bread had not been half enough.

She had not traveled far before she saw a little house, and though it seemed a long way off she soon found herself before its door. She knocked and heard a voice cry out, “who is there?” “A good maid seeking a master.” “We need that,” said the voice, and the door swung open.

The girl’s task was to stay awake every night and watch over a dead man, the brother of the housewife, whose corpse was restless. As her reward she was to receive a peck of gold and a peck of silver. And while she stayed she was to have as many nuts as she broke, as many needles as she lost, as many thimbles as she pierced, as much thread as she used, as many candles as she burned, a bed of green silk over her and a bed of green silk under her, sleeping by day and watching by night.
Green-giftOn the very first night, however, she fell asleep in her chair. The housewife came in, struck her with a magic club, killed her dead, and threw her out back on the pile of kitchen garbage.

Soon thereafter the middle daughter said her mother, it is time for me to follow my sister and seek my fortune.” Her mother baked her a loaf of bread and she too chose the larger piece and her mother’s curse. And what had happened to her sister happened to her.

Soon thereafter the youngest daughter said to her mother, “it is time for me to follow my sisters and seek my fortune.” “I had better bake you a loaf of bread,” said her mother, “and which would you rather have, a small piece and my blessing or a large piece and my curse?” “I would rather,” said the daughter,” have the smaller piece and your blessing.”

And so she set off down the road and when the night came wreathing around her she sat at the foot of a wall to eat her bread. The ground quail and her twelve puppies and the little birds of the air gather about. “Wilt thou give us some of that?” they asked. “I will, you pretty creatures, if you will keep me company.” She shared her bread, all of them ate their fill, and the birds clapped their wings about her ’til she was snug with the warmth.

The next morning she saw a house a long way off… [here the task and wages are repeated.]

She sat up at night to watch the corpse, sewing to pass the time. About midnight the dead man sat up and screwed up a grin. “If you do not lie down properly I will give you a good leathering with a stick,” she cried. He lay down. After a while he rose up on one elbow and screwed up a grin; and a third time he sat and screwed up a grin.

When he rose the third time she walloped him with the stick. The stick stuck to the dead man and her hand stuck to the stick and off they went! He dragged her through the woods, and when it was high for him it was low for her, and when it was low for him it was high for her. The nuts were knocking their eyes and the wild plums beat at their ears until they both got through the wood. Then they returned home.

The girl was given the peck of gold, the peck of silver, and a vessel of cordial. She found her two sisters and rubbed them with the cordial and brought them back to life. And they left me sitting here, and if they were well, ’tis well; if they were not, let them be.

The End.


unfaithfully yours

Today at work, I picked up a Time magazine. The cover article was titled, “Unfaithfully Yours” and underneath the headline was a picture of a bride and groom sinking into a big white wedding cake. They were up to their heads, drowning in a quicksand of icing, and they looked nervous. I would too if I were about to suffocate on sugary goo. “Infidelity is eroding our most sacred institution,” it said on the cover. “How to make marriage matter again.”

I picked up the magazine partly because I’m always curious to read articles about marriage and divorce, coming from a family of many marriages, divorces, and re-marriages. But mostly I picked it up because I’ve read a lot of books and articles recently — Susan Sontag’s journals, an article by Sandra Tsing Loh about her recent divorce, parts of Ana Fel’s Necessary Dreams — that paint marriage in sad, dark, weary colors. I was hoping, a little bit, for some balance, to be reassured of marriage’s sacredness or importance. So my guards were down.

It was really disappointing. The article was by Caitlin Flanagan, a well-known (though I didn’t know her) and controversial essayist. A google search returned this extremely bizarre Colbert Report appearance, along with reviews of her books and various articles she’s written in support of traditional family values, whatever those are.

Her main point in “Unfaithfully Yours” seems to be that couples need to suck it up and stick together for the sake of the kids. I’m not outright opposed to that idea, of course, I just don’t think it’s very subtle or that it applies in all cases. In the end, her argument is too oversimplified, too heteronormative, too dependent on research by partisan think tanks and anecdotes from reality TV shows, and too dismissive of all the ways that American families are changing, evolving, and assuming new shapes and structures (often without messing up the kids too badly), to be worth breaking down point-by-point. But it is a good read if you want to get a little bit annoyed.

So what I’d really like to know is this: what are some good books you’ve read recently (fiction or non) about long-term relationships and what they mean, in all their complexity, good and bad? Could be marriage or could be something else entirely…