Judy Berman

Apr 22 2014

With a fifty-dollar-a-month rent-regulated East Village apartment, I could write one lucrative article for a mainstream magazine and support myself for weeks or even months while I did what I liked, whether that meant writing for countercultural publications that couldn’t pay or going to political meetings. When I did have jobs, I didn’t worry overmuch about losing them, and so felt no impulse, let alone need, to kiss anyone’s ass. There was always another job, or another assignment. At one point, while I was living with a group of people in Colorado, the money I made writing (sporadically) about rock for the New Yorker was supporting my entire household.

Since the early ’70s, however, the symbiosis has been working in reverse: a steady decline in Americans’ standard of living has fed political and cultural conservatism, and vice versa. Just as the widespread affluence of the post–World War II era was the product of deliberate social policy—an alliance of business, labor, and government aimed at stabilizing the economy and building a solid, patriotic middle class as a bulwark against Soviet Communism and domestic radicalism—the waning of affluence has reflected the resolve of capital to break away from this constraining alliance.

Scratch magazine excerpted one of the most frighteningly relevant essays in “The Essential Ellen Willis.” So happy it will be online forevermore! (via theothernwa)

How much time writers used to have to work on pieces has become a sort of obsession for me. I keep fantasizing about having a month to work on something — maybe only a 2000- or 3000-word thing. As an experiment (necessarily on my own time, fit into little holes between the very long days I tend to work), I’d love to write even one piece this way, committing myself to taking 160 or more hours on it, just to see how it would come out.

79 notes

Apr 21 2014
Apr 20 2014

Let men have their fun blabbering on and on about the Revolution—They’re free to do it! The nihilist women are tired of all this procrastination and are determined to act. Thinking about annihilating the bourgeoisie, they are ready to sacrifice everything to hasten the realization of this undertaking. In the inextinguishable hatred that is devouring us, they will call up whatever strength is necessary to overcome all obstacles.

But since this grandiose project cannot be carried out in one day, they will take their time, preferring for now to use poison and once in a while, to achieve their goal more easily, with a few bad seeds.

The nihilist women will make up for their lack of scientific knowledge and laboratory practice by mixing in the food of their exploiters small doses of deadly substances that are available to the poor and easy to handle for the most ignorant and inexperienced women.

From hundreds of ingredients with incontestable results, we can cite: lead acetate, which you can get in a few days if you leave lead shot sitting around or leave a piece of lead in vinegar; pieces of rotten meat; hemlock, which is so often mistaken for parsley and which grows everywhere on the side of the road and on the backsides of ditches.

At least we will give back to our despicable oppressors some of the evil that they give us every day. We will not smile and support the tyranny knowing that our enemies’ lives are at our mercy… They want to be the masters! Let them suffer the consequences.

In the three years that the league has been around, hundreds of bourgeois families have already paid the fatal price, gnawed away by a mysterious illness that medicine cannot explain or heal.

To work, then, all you women who are fed up with suffering and who are looking for a remedy to your misery. Imitate the nihilist women!

Manifesto of Nihilist Women, Le Drapeau Noir [The Black Flag], n. 4, September 2 1883, Lyon. (via persephon-y)

Whoa.

(via kre)

(Source: theanarchistlibrary.org, via kre)

60 notes

Apr 16 2014
Apr 15 2014

In Defense of the Basic Bitch

nicolesteinberg:

I go AWOL in the H&M,
French manicure moldy
and my hair a too-real rat
nest of corrugated truths.

I feel antipathy for your blog,
zine, podcast, band, parody
Twitter account. I’m like
the Sun Yat-sen of not caring.

I’m about to get virulent about
this kale salad. My horoscope says
I should avoid margarine, HPV,
and drama queens.

My heart is a blood moon pumped
full of peace on Earth and pop rocks.
I wanna eat Chick-fil-A as I drown
in the tub. I wanna cry about cute dogs.

[title via]

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At one point, Adam remarks that he hates the zombies because they are so afraid, and to me he sounds just as unfair as an aging New Yorker writer blaming the 22-year-olds at Upworthy for the death of journalism, even though they’re suffering far more from their limited prospects than he will ever have to.
— I wrote about Only Lovers Left Alive and the sadness of limited time in artistic lives and how we all just look like scared content creators to immortals.

9 notes

Apr 12 2014

So my school is trying to ban The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and I, being angry about this, emailed Junot Diaz about it. His response reads thusly:

thebloggerformerlyknownasellie:

Subject: Re: The Banning of the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao at West Essex Regional High School

Ellie
i just got this email. im in japan. sorry for the delay.

im troubled of course by any censorship. but im heartened by you and your peers strong defense of the book and of your right to read art, free from outside interference.

take one passage out of the bible in context and one could argue the book is all about promoting any sort of deviance.

part of the issue is the parents seem to misunderstand the role of art. this happens a lot in society where we have very little arts education. and the reason why this is beyond troubling is that arts education has dwindled every year in the US due to budget cuts and the instrumental market logic that rules education these days. and when there is art taught parents and outside groups are so threatened they attempt to disrupt it. which is a heartbreaker since art’s goal is never to corrupt or demean but to put people in touch with their human selves—being human is not about being perfect or pure—its about being vulnerable and weak and vulgar and yes it also involves sex. but for your argument never forget: art has among its many aspects a transgressive function. it says the thing that a society fears to say, hates to say and wishes no one will say. what people who push censorship are really pushing is to create a silence. they want no questioning of “the way things are” and the reveal a profound mistrust of their youth and of the people who teach them.

but to speak most specifically about the sexual content of the book.

this is a novel that charts that most nightmarish of American traumas: the trauma of rape inflicted on black female bodies as an outcome of the plantation and post-plantation logic of white supremacy. Yunior doesnt describe the DR as a plantation by accident; he’s pointing out to how the DR is not only the basis but the continuation of the forces that forged the Americas—the enslavement and sexual domination of black bodies. a history that so few of us like to touch. a history that exists mostly in silence.

this is a novel that charts the consequences of sexualized colonial violence (the rapeocracy of the plantation and post-plantation) on the colored bodies of entire communities: the women, the men and even children of the survivors. the titular character oscar is the child of a rape survivor but not just any rape survivor—his mother Belicia is explicitly raped inside the plantation regime of trujillo by his agents. flashforward twenty years and one immigration and you have oscar’s body and psyche, like lola’s body and psyche, impacted by this violence and its aftershocks even though neither of them lived it directly. this is called the intergenerational transfer of trauma. oscar and lola are prototypical americans, shaped by a violent history they know very little about. their history is our nation’s history. think about it: is oscar’s problem with girls and the sexual intimacy they represent an outcome of him being fat and a nerd or is it an outcome of the unprocessed history of rape in his family?

put most simply, if a reader cant deal with the book’s sexual content, a reader is definitely going to be unwilling to confront the central problem of colonial sexual violence in the novel. it’s the taboo around talking about sex that helps make the silence around rape so charged, so potent, whether its in our american context or a dominican one. the narrator of the novel yunior is attempting to break all these silences in the book with is language and his descriptions not simply because he wants to push button but because if those silences are left intact the stories of his people, of lola, oscar, belicia, abelard, of our American nations, will never be heard. and the rape power of the plantation will continue to live. to end it we must first speak the words. but to speak the words, to violate the ban against the silence that power demands—to speak Voldemort’s name if you will—requires courage and trust—which young people often have in greater quantities than adults.

i hope this helps. and good luck with this.
un abrazo
j

(via microphoneheartbeats)

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The joke is supposed to be: everyone’s wearing striped shirts these days! The joke is actually: you paid $128 for a white T-shirt with some faux-Sharpie writing on it.

The joke is supposed to be: everyone’s wearing striped shirts these days! The joke is actually: you paid $128 for a white T-shirt with some faux-Sharpie writing on it.

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In (further) celebration of Live Through This' 20th anniversary, a bonus track: the real “Rock Star,” replaced at the very last minute by “Olympia” because of certain lyrics about Nirvana. This has always been one of my favorite Hole songs. It's one of the most honest, unadorned lyrics Courtney Love has ever written, free of the flowers and milk and bodily fluids and pageant queens that ruled the rest of the album, seething with sarcasm about the jealousy-disguised-as-principled-superiority successful artists have to absorb from their less successful counterparts. Thematically, that puts it very much in line with the rest of the album, although its shiny, jangly, California guitars (also sarcastic, to my ears) make it a bridge to Celebrity Skin. Listening to it again this week, it’s the big sigh — audible for a reason, obviously — Love lets out before launching into the Nirvana verse that gets me. Like she knows she’s getting herself into trouble, saying something she shouldn’t, but she’s just got to unburden herself anyway.

8 notes

Apr 11 2014
kre:

flavorpill:

We tapped some of our favorite feminist-leaning musicians and music writers to dissect Hole’s “Live Through This” front to back on it’s 20th anniversary. Contributors included Flavorwire editors, Pitchfork writers and members of White Lung, Tacocat and the Coathangers. Each writer picked a track and took a grungy walk down memory lane with it. Read the full story on Flavorwire.
20 Years of Hole’s ‘Live Through This’: 12 Musicians and Writers Dissect It Track by Track

20th anniversary.

I wrote about “She Walks on Me” and Courtney Love’s uncomfortable (but sometimes refreshing!) willingness to go for other women’s throats. Jill Mapes did an amazing job putting this together, and it features fantastic pieces by some of my favorite musicians and writers (including some who I am lucky enough to work alongside).

kre:

flavorpill:

We tapped some of our favorite feminist-leaninmusicians and music writers to dissect Hole’s “Live Through This” front to back on it’s 20th anniversary. Contributors included Flavorwire editors, Pitchfork writers and members of White Lung, Tacocat and the Coathangers. Each writer picked a track and took a grungy walk down memory lane with it. Read the full story on Flavorwire.

20 Years of Hole’s ‘Live Through This’: 12 Musicians and Writers Dissect It Track by Track

20th anniversary.

I wrote about “She Walks on Me” and Courtney Love’s uncomfortable (but sometimes refreshing!) willingness to go for other women’s throats. Jill Mapes did an amazing job putting this together, and it features fantastic pieces by some of my favorite musicians and writers (including some who I am lucky enough to work alongside).

100 notes

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