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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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« In Which We Retell The Story Of Men Against Themselves »

Empire State of Mind


Humble brag time! For the past couple weeks I have been busy traipsing around the city of New York with the Gossip Girl Historical Reenactment Society, meeting the whole internet IRL and literally reenacting several Gossip Girl plot points from this season. Which ones in particular? You'll never know, XOXO.

You may remember that I called John Mayer and Taylor Swift before it even happened, or maybe after it actually happened but before the information got out, because I am a gossip batman who calls everything in advance, running around the downtown of the mind incepting people's sexual fantasies while they are floating down to earth. It is also entirely true that I have access to an alternate world internet that you get to through a special web portal (Platform 9¾) shaped like John Malkovich's brain.

I brought a printed out copy of this particular essay to read at Refresh Refresh Refresh, the event organized by Leon Neyfakh that brought me out to New York. I realized while looking for something to read that I have written Mad Men recaps almost exclusively for the past year, although they have served the double function of acting as my diary. If you play them backwards, you can find out what I did that weekend. 

I decided halfway through the reading that I would feel like a tool reading this essay out loud, because I am not actually as blowsy in real life as I am when I blog. I am also not generally ever as serious as this essay makes it seem like I am. I am 2% pretentious literary intellectual, and 98% total fucking goof.

Instead I mostly talked about Steely Dan and Taylor Swift, which if you know me you know is not at all unusual. I identify with Steely Dan and Taylor Swift because I am squinty and have curly hair and sometimes like music that other people hate (whether because too jazzy or too countrypolitan). How much Steely Dan talk is too much Steely Dan talk? Is there even such a thing?

Since I wrote this essay, men and women have continued to be much more alike than they generally think, and I continue to feel like fostering transparency about it is the best possible idea. The brain is still not a sex organ. Women are often bigger Don Drapers than men, and dudes in their heart of hearts sometimes feel like the Little Mermaid posted up on that fucking sea rock.

For every Taylor Swift there is a Miley Cyrus, and for every John Mayer there is a Jonathan Richman. Gender, like everything else in this world, is not an oppositional binary. And that is also how despite the minorly world-shattering identity crisis it has caused me I can finally accept that while Los Angeles is my birthplace and general home, New York is pretty fucking cool too. And I DO like saxophones.

Thanks to everyone who came out, hung out, and let me sleep on their couches. I'll be back, and probably sooner than later. Spread love, it's the Brooklyn way.

Men In Revolt


This just in: according to the neurotic Jews and WASPs of the last decade's fiction, American men don't know how exactly they should be acting about sex. This is brand new information! Does masculinity focus on being too self-absorbed? Is femininity still too much about self-abnegation? Is literature self-absorbed? Did Warren Beatty tell Peter Biskind that Jane Fonda can unhinge her jaw like a python? Is Sol the cold sun?

Done are the days of Vice Magazine's tits and cocaine ethos, as are the nu-80s that were the 00s. Somebody tell John Mayer before he threatens to date rape us again. C'mon John, I'm a polymath too, there's no need to keep screaming out for approval constantly. You want to be respected as a comedian? Knock up Jennifer Aniston.

I kid, I kid. Everyone knows the problem with Jen An is that she's too submissive, and what John Mayer needs is a strong top. That's what Brad Pitt needed (also rimjobs). Maybe John Mayer should fuck Madonna? I like Madonna even more now that I know she taunted Warren Beatty at gay discos for not dancing with "hey pussy man!"

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Meanwhile the not-a-girl, not-yet-a-woman demographic is flooded with New Moon and Taylor Swift. Transgressive as their popularity alone may be, both Twilight and Taylor ascribe to a world view that too many fourteen year girls are already inoculated with. An entirely boy-centric romatic one, where nothing is interesting unless it involves crushes and the surrounding drama. Even fifth wave feminist Megan Fox admits there's no such thing as Megan Fox. No wonder Mahnola is fucking pissed.

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I read Michael Chabon's Manhood For Amateurs. The cover has a neat conceit, but it doesn't actually work, a metaphor for masculinity if ever there was one. There are essays about being a son and brother written in the kind of clean clipped front lawn style associated with Richard Ford and the dignity of restrained masculine emotions.

There are essays about fatherhood, married life, and courting his wife that seem overly tailored to the idea that his children might read them someday, which makes them read somewhat dishonestly. There are also a couple of essays about his first marriage and various youthful sexual indiscretions that are frank and detailed (which is not to say erotic) enough to give readers major secondhand embarrassment.

Maybe this is the worst kind of criticism to give these practitioners of the new earnest manhood, but god is it boring. Not that this validates the grand tradition of geniuses as tremendous bastards. One can be a tremendous bastard without being an author or a genius and vice versa. I'm not saying Chabon should go for a ride and never come back, but he should definitely at least stop over-supervising his children's playtime.

In another essay, Chabon admits his worst failing is an inability to write three dimensional female characters. Looking back, it's kinda true. While I commend his honesty, I never understand this, even though it's something I occasionally hear from men. I always say "write a male character, then give them a female name." 

As a girl you grow up seeing yourself in male characters, because (unfortunately) the cool ones are still mostly men. One of the reasons I picked Adventureland as my favorite movie of last year is that it had fully fleshed out and well written characters of both genders. Chabon recognizes that his tendency towards seeing women as mysterious is wrong, but finds it very hard to shake. There is no mystery to women. There is plenty of mystery to sex, but it's equally mysterious to everyone.

For my money, Wonder Boys is still Chabon's best book, and as much as he loves fantasy and genre, the farther away he gets from reality the less interested and invested I get in the characters. This is just a personal preference, I would rather read smaller scale character studies, but I also think that emotional observation is a core component of his talents as a writer. Besides, the genre fic thing is beyond played out. New novels by all writers starting now in 2010 are forbidden from involving the following things: comic books, detectives, baseball, magicians, the holocaust

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Anyway if Katie Roiphe is underwhelmed and unoffended by the sexually neutered males of Brooklyn fiction, she should check out this vast cultural wasteland called the internet. The best writing about sex is currently being done by the people who are smart/stupid enough to date and write about it. Dating wasn't even really invented until the 1950s, it's no wonder nobody knows how to do it.

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If I were a man, which is something I've obviously spent a great deal of time thinking about, I would feel as insulted by the bulk of male culture as I am by most things steered to women. The men I know are nothing like the caricatures of "men" I see advertised to me everywhere. They are not oafs or jerks or lazy misogynists. They have more feelings than they know what to do with. They are real people, and they deserve to be insulted by what masculinity has come to represent.

The best advice I have ever heard about sex, romance, and masculinity is from porn star/P.T. Anderson muse John Holmes in Exhausted: John Holmes The Real Story.

"You don’t have to be overly macho. You don’t have to be over-complimentary. Gain her respect. And that’s treating her as an equal. Don’t bullshit her. Treat her as a human being. Treat her as you would treat yourself. As soon as you have that respect from her, she’ll treat you with the same respect that you show. Then you fuck the shit out of her." - John Curtis Holmes 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is tricoastal like Julia Allison now. She tumbls and twitters.

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"Heart and Soul (Martin Hannett mix)" - Joy Division (mp3)

"From Safety to Where (Martin Hannett mix)" - Joy Division (mp3)

"Passover (Martin Hannett mix)" - Joy Division (mp3)

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Reader Comments (2)

welcome back.

December 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Genre fiction is not played out just because you don't really like what passes through your admittedly disinterested fingers. There's many vibrant and engaging works out there beneath the surface of pop culture. Anyway, I understand that it's a throwaway line in an otherwise excellent article. I just disagree with that shit, ya know?

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoland Z

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