Friday, April 18, 2014

#FridayReads: Greenwich Village Stories

A love letter to Greenwich Village, written by artists, writers, musicians, restaurateurs, and other neighborhood habitues who each share a favorite memory of this beloved place. The sixty stories in this collection of Village memories are exuberant, poignant, original, and vivid-perfectly capturing the essence of the Village. 

Every corner of the Village is represented in the book: recollections of jazz clubs and existentialism on Bleecker Street, rock music at St. Mark's Place, folk singers in Washington Square Park. There are stories of Hans Hofmann teaching modern art on 8th Street and Lotte Lenya performing in The Threepenny Opera on Christopher Street. Decades later, Brooke Shields muses on renovating a brownstone and finding history behind its walls; and Mario Batali lyrically describes a Sunday morning walk through the food markets of Bleecker Street. 

The stories are complemented by a wide range of photographs by iconic figures such as Allen Ginsberg, Rudy Burckhardt, Berenice Abbott, Saul Leiter, Ruth Orkin, and Weegee. Paintings depict elegant red-brick facades and raffish Hudson River piers, now restored; theater posters spotlight Karen Finley and John Leguizamo

This is a book for those who are already beguiled by the Village as well as those just discovering this fabled place.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Body, Myself

So like every other Bride-to-Be who's had to grapple with reality versus the crippling weight of pressure of a perfect wedding day and looking amazing in the most expensive dress she's ever owned, I have started dieting and working out in hopes of losing 25-30 lbs by the end of this summer when I have my first dress fitting.

A bride in an elaborate wedding dress from 1929.
Elaborate wedding dress from 1929.
(Photo: Wikipedia)
The initial 2-4.5 lbs came off pretty easily and felt amazing. You see, readers, I'm only 5'2." My frame is small and not meant to carry a heavy load. I lost only 4 lbs and already my Fiancee noticed a difference in my waist, my brother remarked on my cheekbones, my coworkers told me I looked skinnier and my suit's slacks felt roomy at the waist. My body felt amazing again. I felt at peace with this treacherous outer shell that been uncooperative so many times.

For those of you who don't know Roxanne Gay, she is an amazing writer whose Tumblr I follow weekly. She recently wrote an xoJane post about the Biggest Loser, "MY BODY IS WILDLY UNDISCIPLINED AND I DENY MYSELF NEARLY EVERYTHING I DESIRE," which Ta-Nehisi Coates commented on "Wow. It's so hard to get naked on the page. It's one of the hardest things to convey in my essay classes. You must be naked. You must understand that clothes are the illusion, and  your readers are naked too. Humans are at war with themselves. Once you can accept this, your own wars become less shameful. I don't mean exhibitionism. I mean honesty. The clothes are the illusion."

And here is what she exposes to world:
Part of disciplining the body is denial. We want but we dare not have. To lose weight or maintain our ideal bodies, we deny ourselves certain foods. We deny ourselves rest by working out. We deny ourselves peace of mind by remaining ever vigilant over our bodies. We withhold from ourselves until we achieve a goal and then we withhold from ourselves to maintain that goal.

My body is wildly undisciplined and I deny myself nearly everything I desire. I deny myself the right to space when I am public, trying to fold in on myself, to make my body invisible even though it is, in fact, grandly visible. I deny myself the right to a shared armrest because how dare I impose? I deny myself entry into certain spaces I have deemed inappropriate for a body like mine—most spaces inhabited by other people.

I deny myself bright colors in my clothing choices, sticking to a uniform of denim and dark shirts even though I have a far more diverse wardrobe. I deny myself certain trappings of femininity as if I do not have the right to such expression when my body does not follow society’s dictates for what a woman’s body should look like. I deny myself gentler kinds of affection—to touch or be kindly touched—as if that is a pleasure a body like mine does not deserve.

Punishment is, in fact, one of the few things I allow myself. 
This excellently written post goes into our fat shaming culture, where getting thin is equated with happiness, it goes into the discipline required to actually lose weight, self-entitlement and denial, and the fact that "there are so many rules for the body—often unspoken and ever shifting," and it seems like society is dictating them.

La fiancée du Nil (M. Moukhtar, IMA)
La fiancée du Nil (M. Moukhtar, IMA) (Photo: dalbera)
Most people are shocked when I tell them my weight loss goal, that's too much they say or they ask why, explaining they don't think I need to lose so much. But what they essentially misunderstand is that it's my assessment to make. I know my body best. Because of my small frame, according to the BMI scale, I am under the "overweight" category and no one would ever be any wiser. Sometimes I fit into a size "4." Buy I know, I know myself.

You will disappear, they warn, but what they don't understand is that when you put on weight the world no longer see you anyhow.

It's not your place to tell me how much I should weigh.

Friday, April 11, 2014

#FridayReads: With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst

Book list material:

A short, stunning book by a Brazilian master of the avant-garde.

Something has changed in Amos Keres, a university mathematics professor—his sentences trail off in class, he is disgusted by the sight of his wife and son, and he longs to flee the comfortable bourgeois life he finds himself a part of. Most difficult of all are his struggles to express what has happened to him, for a man more accustomed to numbers than words. He calls it "the clearcut unhoped-for," and it's a vision that will drive him to madness and, eventually, death. 

Written in a fragmented style that echoes the character's increasingly fragile hold on reality, With My Dog-Eyes is intensely vivid, summoning up Amos's childhood and young adulthood—when, like Richard Feynman, he used to bring his math books to brothels to study—and his life at the university, with its "meetings, asskissers, pointless rivalries, gratuitous resentments, jealous talk, meglomanias." 

Hilst, whose father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, has created a lacerating, and yet oddly hopeful, portrayal of a descent into hell--Amos never makes sense of the new way he sees things, but he does find an avenue of escape, retreating to his mother's house and, farther, towards the animal world. A deeply metaphysical, formally radical one-of-a-kind book from a great Brazilian writer.

HILDA HILST was born in 1930 in Jaú, Brazil. Hilst was a prolific author whose work spans many different genres, including poetry, fiction, drama and newspaper columns. Born the heiress to a coffee fortune, she abandoned Sao Paolo and promising law career in the 1960s, moved to the countryside, and built herself a house, Casa do Sol, where she lived until the end of her life with a rotating cast of friends, lovers, aspiring artists, bohemian poets, and dozens of dogs. She received many major literary prizes over the course of her career, including Brazil's highest honor, the Premio Jabuti. Her work has been translated into French, German, and Italian. She died in 2004, at the age of 73. 

ADAM MORRIS is a PhD candidate in Latin American literature at Stanford University.  An excerpt from his translation of With My Dog-Eyes won the 2012 Susan Sontag Foundation Prize for Literary Translation.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Swoon Exhibit: Submerged Motherlands

I've been a fan of Swoon for a while and I'm delighted to share the news of her upcoming show at the Brooklyn Museum opening on Friday. Those of you not familiar will note, she is a Brooklyn-based artist, who celebrates everyday people and explores social and environmental issues with her signature paper portraits and figurative installations. She is best known for her large, intricately-cut prints wheat pasted to industrial buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Show information


Swoon
Swoon (Photo credit: aur2899)
Swoon - Boy
Swoon - Boy (Photo credit: drbooks)
Swoon
Swoon (Photo credit: carnagenyc)
Swoon
Swoon (Photo credit: carnagenyc)
Swoon twin death
Swoon twin death (Photo credit: mercurialn)
Swoon Detail
Swoon Detail (Photo credit: Trois Têtes (TT))
Swoon
Swoon (Photo credit: C-Monster)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Sugar is the cocaine of the food world

"People are overfed but they are also starving to death. You could be eating 10,000 calories a day but if you're not getting specific nutrients your body needs in a way it can digest and assimilate than you are starving on a nutritional basis. As long as you are starving on a nutritional basis, your body is going to stay hungry in order to get those specific nutrients. Manmade foods like bread and sugar trick your body into thinking you're getting specific nutrients so your body stays hungry for it, but your cells don't get nourished. As long as your cells don't get nourished you're starving on a cellular level."

Monday, April 07, 2014

La Cura

“I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ― Rudyard Kipling
 
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