Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Top 50 Essential Non-Fiction Books for Weirdos

The Top 50 Essential Non-Fiction Books for Weirdos

I was looking for a nonfiction recommendation about rap/hip-hop online and stumbled on this. My library holds list / amazon wish list has exploded. It seems like this guy has great taste, I've loved the books he recommended that I've read.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!: Shrink Plastic Geometric Pendants Tutorial!

Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!: Shrink Plastic Geometric Pendants Tutorial!: I recently became obsessed with the idea of layered, geometric necklaces. I wanted to make some for myself, but I don't have the supplies an...

YES! this is awesome. My niece and I tried to make something similar recently and it went all wrong.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Unilever has your back ladies

I just read about these two videos in a book I just finished, "Feminism and Pop Culture" by Andi Zeisler. I guess they've been out a while (since 2007 or so?) but I had never seen them. I was aware of the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign, this is another opportunity to reflect on how I hate it when advertisers try to sell us back what was ours in the first place (our own bodies for example via this fucking stupid campaign).

I don't know, I guess this type of stuff is great for people who have never thought about it before, or people who are really vulnerable to images in ads or 'women's media'. That is not to say "all women", either. I'm very interested in style and beauty but also extremely critical and suspicious of any industry whose raison d'etre is to make me feel insecure, fat, old and ugly in order to separate me from my money.

But let's not forget this is not an act of empowerment or civic responsibility. It's not like fucking Unilever wants us all to reject advertising claims and embrace our naturalness. So I do actually get pissed off when something like this Dove campaign is meant to be brave or trailblazing or whatever. It's like, I guess by advertisers standards, the women of the Dove campaign were all fat hideous monsters, but the fact remains that by real life standards/cultural beauty norms they're all still fucking beautiful. And the public is supposed to get all excited because this company is brave enough to show us women that are STILL conforming more to cultural standards of beauty than most "real" women on the street; or that this ONE advertisement, or this ONE campaign is supposed to undo hundreds of years of straight up misogyny?

I mean, how naive/stupid do they think you are?

All that said, I liked the videos. Obviously I'm a mixed up hypocrite, and there are no surprises in the ads, but I guess it's good that people see this kind of stuff, regardless of who produces it.

I saw Jean Killbourne's "Killing Us Softly" at a time in my life when it made a big impression. The original one version came out in 1979 and it's been updated at least 4 times I think.

I still look at ads through a lens I first understood from that documentary which I probably saw around age 12 or so. To this day, I often look at ads on TV, the subway, and magazines and transpose the genders. It's always interesting and instructive, and usually depressing.

This is the idea.  It's funny but also kind of not funny at all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Literally the Best Thing Ever":

I bought the Rookie yearbook a while back from an independent retailer  (ok what). Reading it is terrific, it's kind of a time capsule of the website's first year.
I can't even be sheepish about reading it at my elderly age because truly it is 'literally the best thing ever'. And it got me ruminating on my own version of Rookie, namely, of course, Sassy magazine.

And, it has to be said (maybe by me alone) that the two don't compare at all. I know every woman my age who was into Sassy seems to think it's the holy grail of teen magazines, or a beacon of sanity in a wilderness of the commercialized teenaged girl experience. But for me, the thing that doesn't make sense to me is the fact that I didn't have a "Sassy magazine" adolescence. Nor did I have a "Seventeen", a "Teen" magazine, or a "Tiger Beat" adolescence. I had a typical angst ridden period between the ages of 12-17 or so, that wasn't neatly reflected in any media enterprise. Like everyone else.
So when I read stuff like this book: How Sassy Saved My Life, from 2007, I"m kind of like, rilly? And I know Tavi Gevinson has been vocal about giving tributes to the long shadow cast by Sassy, and has been really gracious about being seen as producing an online magazine that follows in Sassy's footsteps. But I don't feel like anyone really states the fucking obvious: Rookie is WAY better than Sassy ever was!

Don't get me wrong, I loved Sassy, I subscribed, pored over every issue and compared notes with my one other girlfriend in highschool who was a believer. But the thing about Sassy that made it good (not GREAT), was that it had some relationship to real youth culture. As I learned in the book "How Sassy Saved my Life", there was a real effort and a huge struggle to produce content by YOUNG writers who actually knew something about being young. It wasn't strictly about pushing advertising and editorial content, co-opting consumers early or anything overtly cynical like that. In the years I was obsessed with Sassy, I was obsessed with many magazines. I was a magazine junky. Even more than Sassy, I loved the old Details magazine when it was published in B+W and was basically a scandal sheet of New York nightlife, and Andy Warhol's Interview magazine--those were WAY more influential on me as a suburban teen dreaming of something beyond my backyard. The options weren't "Sassy" or "Seventeen"--there was a whole world of cool stuff to read about. I never read Seventeen, so to pit Sassy against another teen magazine like that is sort of an artificial comparison. It wasn't like you HAD to read one or the other.

In my mid-thirties, after reading so much rhapsodizing about Sassy, I bought a bunch of issues on Ebay and settled into the bathtub to try to reclaim the glory of the magazine. I didn't recall it in those glorious terms, it wasn't a life raft for me as a teen; but I knew it must have been completely bomb or people wouldn't still be going on about it, right? Man, what a letdown! It's just not that progressive, radical or interesting.

But Rookie now, Rookie is truly different. Maybe as a result of being an online magazine, maybe in part because stuff like Sassy came before; maybe this Tavi is here to save us all from mediocrity--it's fucking awesome. I keep trying to get my niece to read it, to no avail. She's too busy busting into swimming pools and the Riverdale Farm in the middle of the night to read a website. I understand. I was a (bookish, nerdy, yearbook editing, day-/night-dreaming) teenager myself once. If my aunt had recommended a website I would have ignored it on principle.

I still don't really understand how Tavi can idolize Dan Clowes and Enid Coleslaw, John Waters, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan; or the site can reference stuff like Strawberry Switchblade, Nancy Spungen, Advanced Style, JT Leroy, Heathers, Bruce Springsteen, the Golden Girls, Hollywood memoirs, Francesca Lia Block and Joan Didion. It's hard for my brain to process how this team of writers has distilled the coolest of the coolest of the coolest stuff and manages to take a feminist take on everything without even using the word....? It truly gives me hope for the future. I do not know what is in this water, but if teenagers are drinking it, it's literally the best thing ever.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Canzine 2012

I love Canzine. I've been going for a long time, since it was at the old Big Bop at Queen at Bathurst. I like Broken Pencil a lot too, and subscribe. This year was no different, I went with $70 doll hairs and came home with $10. In terms of alt press stuff and regular Toronto events, I like Canzine the best, then Toronto Comics Art Festival (both are amazing, both will empty your wallet), and I also like the OCAD small press book fair and have not yet been to the Toronto Anarchist Book Fair. I like the whole thing, the way you can find total gems and silly perzines that are still engaging somehow. It's sort of a gentle world where the most mundane observational or haphazard writings can share the spotlight with meticulously crafted literary art (like Liz Worth).
So....I picked up a bunch of stuff. And took a terrible picture of it all. Starting at the top left, there are two Detour guides--written accounts by Kelly Dessaint about being tour guide/tourist trade worker in NOLA. Having been to NOLA fairly recently, I am fascinated with these. The tour guides there are amazing, if you're there for a short time it's a great way to see a lot of stuff quickly, or in the case of the 'Ghost Tour' type things, a great way to be entertained for cheap. 
The next thing is an account of how to stop washing your hair, which still fascinates me. I tried it years ago with good results but just kind of missed the ritual of shampoo, or the smell or whatever. I like the idea of DIY health and hygiene products. I already read this and it's nothing new per se, but this woman's goal is to actually only wash her hair with water alone, which I never attempted. Most techniques use baking sode and apple cider vinegar. My issue is that if it wasn't for dirty hair I would stop showering altogether, because, meh, it's a lot of fuss and bother, right? Right? Anyway. 
The next one was an impulse purchase, Small Talk a compilation from a lecture series that the writer conducted. The topics are wide ranging and looked interesting. Next is '7 Sisters of the Storm, and 'Crooked Teeth' which I bought from a nice guy that seemed shocked that someone was buying their shit. Which brings me to the other thing I love/hate about Canzine--the wrenchingly awkward exchanges with writers/artists/zinesters/artstars that are even more socially stunted than me. It's the stuff of a hundred Portlandia-type sketches, the averted eyes, crossed arms, awkward exchanges, uncomfortable fumblings with that dirty money: Eeeeek. 
Every time I have occasion to interact with the producers of my stuff, to look into the eyes of the producers, I always find it excruciating. I have no idea why. I'm uncomfortable to pick someone's stuff up, I imagine they are very invested in how it's absorbed, enjoyed, consumed. Inevitably I am rejecting more stuff than I'm enjoying or consuming, I find that hopelessly awkward too. A friend of a friend today said "yeah, it's one of the few places where you can make someone's day for $10". It's true and funny but I understand the discomfort--the typical artist is not the typical sales(wo)man, de facto. And yet, these types of events thrust the producer and consumer into the same space, to confront each others taste and temperment, for better and worse. And it can be awkward as shit. There was one really nice, outgoing (which is unusual) girl, who explained the humour of her work to me. I was forced to engage, smile and nod, accept a business card, about work that hinges on a type of humour I don't give a fuck about. She explained to me that "It's funny"--clearly I was missing the point, possibly due to a total lack of good humour. And she was nice, adding another layer of painful. 
Terribly photographed below is "Licking the Beaters 2: Vegan Chocolate and Candy" by Siue (please let that be a diminuitive of 'Siouxie') Moffat. She wrote 'Licking the Beaters', a great compilation of low fat vegan desserts. She was super nice and gave me a free pumpkin chocolate truffle for buying her last zine (which seemed backwards to me, but hey). She wrote another great short piece my partner bought about how she left the punk/hardcore scene because of rampant sexism. I can't recall the title. 
'Misfit Matriarch" seems to be a perzine about being a young punk mom. The authors kid was there, and asked repeated if I "had 2 dollars" which was incredibly fucking cute and sold the zine. I love the idea that she was prescreening the browsers, basically if you didn't have the 2 bucks, move on Clyde. 
The last thing I'm stoked on is the Liz Worth Eleven: Eleven. I had bought her chapbook "Arik's Dream" last year, and it was awesome. I guess she's also a poet, she wrote "Treat Me Like Dirt", and oral history of TOronto punk and hardcore music. But Arik's Dream is sort of a horror story that truly creates a sense of dread, apprehension and fear in the reader. She is super talented. 

The last thing I got was stuff for my partner, the comic about '500 years of resistance', basically colonialism thru the ages, plus a couple of screen printed kerchiefs, a wolf for him and a beaver for me; then the free goat head/baphomet/pentagram/silly satanic mask. 

And that was Canzine. Another amazing year. It was even catered by a vegan company which I didn't realize was vegan until after I'd left. So, yeah. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Witches not bitches, and Hillbilly Roccoco

I love Dame Darcy so much, and have for a long time. It's so exciting to see her in person in this video.
And this book is fucking awesome!