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Archive for June, 2013

Friday links


  • If you think some of the clothes designers make models wear during the women’s collections are nuts, then be prepared to have your mind blown by what the guys have to contend with. (The Frisky)
  • Here’s an answer to the question on everyone’s mind: what happens when you have to pee during a filibuster? (Mother Jones)
  • This supercut of the most priceless moments in what is surely the worst film of all time, 2003’s The Room, is not be be missed. (Vulture)
  • A restaurant with nothing but tables for one. (PSFK)
  • Swag sluts gone wild. (WWD)



Posted on June 28th, 2013 2 Comments

How Exile in Guyville Changed Our Lives

It’s the 20th(!) anniversary of Liz Phair’s seminal album, and to mark the occasion, I thought it might be fun to ask a few very smart girls of a certain age to weigh in on what the record meant to them. The universal response: it meant quite a lot indeed. —KF


From the start Liz Phair demanded you deal with her. You couldn’t help but stare at the cover of Exile in Guyville. At first glance I wasn’t sure, was it a man or woman? The head and eyes were shadowed by a hoodie. The brashness of the pose—arms thrown open, exposing a chest bare but for some chains, with just the barest suggestion of areola at the bottom, this energy, this was the sort of bravado rockers like Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger displayed. It was the mouth that gave her away. Open, unapologetically sexy—ecstatic. Her message, I fuck, and you will fucking deal with me.

The album’s stripped down sound gave it a lo-fi authenticity. Her voice, detached, and cool, allowed us to project our own feeling onto these songs. Unlike the clever, self-serious indie boy rockers at the time, who might as well have been neutered, Phair was flaunting her female sexual energy, and doing so with great intelligence and a piercing wit. She gave us permission to celebrate our sexual conquests and libido, and made us feel less alone when she sang that she’d been doing the “Fuck and run, even when I was twelve.” By countering the traditional and accepted male experiences with the equally relevant but culturally unacceptable female experiences, she gave voice to the complexity of that female experience. Emotionally, and sexually—from wanting to be a guy’s “blow job queen” to confiding to us that she wants a boyfriend and “all that stupid all shit like letters and sodas.” There are few perfect records. This is one of them. It’s the whole deal and the real deal.
—Ellissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls and Use Me, and cofounder of the literary magazine Tin House

liz phair

Jeff Kravitz/Film Magic

I have probably played Exile more than any other album. It’s funny— I latched onto the bravery and strength and sarcasm in her lyrics to get me through difficult times and basically ignored the vulnerability and sadness in songs like “Canary.” I read later that Liz couldn’t listen to the album for years because all she could hear was how unhappy and insecure she was. Now when I listen to it, I can hear that too, in a way that I absolutely couldn’t when I was younger and needed her, for various reasons, to be stronger. 
—Jancee Dunn, contributor to such magazines as Vogue, GQ, and Rolling Stone, and author of  But Enough About Me: How a Small Town Girl Went From Shag Carpet To The Red Carpet

I don’t think about Liz Phair anymore. I remember I listened to Exile in Guyville many, many times. I really felt she clearly understood the concept of boy disease, and was a smart feminist woman talking about the plight of smart, feminist women who like to have sex with boys. I have a feeling I would not be too thrilled to have my daughter listen to this record at least until she is in college, just like I am trying to figure out how I can tell my son he is not allowed to listen to Eminem.  

I don’t know if there is anyone making the kind of music on Exile in Guyville now, because I don’t really keep up. I am betting that Liz Phair is flattered that people remember her for this iconic album, but at the same time, maybe it is kind of weird to be frozen in public consciousness as a 20-something hipster girl.
—Christina Kelly, writer and former editor of Sassy magazine

Maybe one day I’ll look back on my late twenties in New York with fondness, as a time of innocence and romance and sweet cocktails. But mostly I recall those endless, expensive nights out as something of a long protracted battle, requiring great efforts of cheer, and a hard-won endurance that allowed me to reject and be rejected over and over again. Before I went out, whenever I wanted more than anything to stay home, I put on Exile in Guyville. Most of my friends were marrying or on that path, and Liz Phair was the girlfriend who was in it with me, who got the grit of it; for me her songs were necessary anthems. They got me out the door, ready for battle; I felt confident wherever I ended up that night, there was someone out there who would not judge me, who could not just mock but make great music of a woman’s sometimes desperate chase for intimacy. If it was all bitter I couldn’t have taken it time after time; but no musician has ever convinced me more that sex and unsentimental romance were worth the fight.
—Susan Dominus, staff writer at the New York Times Sunday magazine

I aim to be scholarly about Exile in Guyville, to match each song on Liz Phair’s masterpiece with the Rolling Stones record it upended. But my ambitions make me sick: scholarship was my angle in 1993, in the Guyville I found myself in, among the stereo-dominators who chose the music there. They couldn’t have cared less about me—whether I tried to seem tough, or bracingly antifeminist, whether I pretended to care about labor or the Ramones or was slutty. I practice all my moves. I memorize their stupid rules. “I was yearning to be part of a scene. I was in a posing kind of mode, yearning to have things happen for me that weren’t happening.” That’s what Liz Phair said, when she made the ideologically tart and sly and hilarious and sublime Exile in Guyville.”She made this record and blew our hearts open and, finally, when we got it, our lives. Thank you, Liz Phair. Sodas and letters for all.
—Virginia Heffernan, national affairs correspondent for Yahoo! News and former New York Times columnist

I was as obsessed with Exile in Guyville as the next girl, and listened to it incessantly on my Walkman. But of course I secretly felt like I could never be as cool as Liz Phair. She was every indie rock guy’s fantasy—a real guy’s girl—and there was no way I would ever measure up. Then I went to Chicago to shoot her for the cover of Sassy with my photographer boyfriend and his assistants who were all beyond excited to meet her. I was sure she and the guys would all be hanging out in the corner making inside jokes and acting too cool while I was off steaming her jacket. Then she showed up. She was tiny and funny and wouldn’t stop talking to me about how all she wanted from her boyfriend was a diamond ring, and what the hell was he waiting for already. The guys’ faces dropped and I instantly loved her.
—Andrea Linett, creative director, cofounder of Lucky magazine and author of I Want to Be Her

Exile In Guyville heralded the end of male dominated indie rock. In 1993, Phair was the first woman to win the Village Voice Pazz and Jop album award since Joni Mitchell in 1974. It’s a big deal to win something that was created by men to celebrate the work of men. My girlfriends could be counted on to ditch their boyfriends and meet up for drinks and a Liz Phair show—which was the first step to leaving those boyfriends entirely, even if it meant spending another year alone. Sayonara, bad boyfriends of our twenties! We left them all to rock out with Liz Phair.
—Samantha Peale, author of The American Painter Emma Dial

Posted on June 27th, 2013 31 Comments

Thursday links

edith windsor

  • If you take issue with my lefty-loo politics,this would be a good day to skip the links, because: Victory! So much victory! I love Nancy Pelosi’s priceless response to Michelle Bachmann’s statement about DOMA being struck down. Also, this story about how various corporations reacted to the ruling was not uninteresting. In addition to which: this slide show, featuring pictures from the life that 84 year-old Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the case that challenged DOMA, shared with her late wife Thea Spyer, brings it all, quite touchingly, home. (PKM, Slate, New Yorker)
  • And good gracious, was that Texas filibuster led by state senator Wendy Davis—which killed what would have been a disastrous anti-abortion bill for the state—exciting or not? It did my expatriate soul good. (New Yorker)
  • Either Paula Deen needs to get herself a new crisis manager or fire her current one stat, because her non-apology apology on the Today show Wednesday was a crazy hot mess.  (Today)
  • This story, by an man who has written a book about how obsessive-compulsive personality disorder greatly contributed to the success of such legendary figures as Steve Jobs, Charles Lindbergh, and Thomas Jefferson, is full of amusing anecdotes. For instance, one time when Steve Jobs was in the ICU, he ripped off his oxygen mask to point out its design flaws and insist that they be remedied immediately. (Slate)
  • And finally: imagining Mad Men through the prism of  The OC.  (Vulture)


Posted on June 27th, 2013 12 Comments

Safety first


Daily News

The last time I got on a bike in this city, I was 23 and full of the happy stupid fearlessness that exists only in the minds of freshly minted New Yorkers. I rode my old college Schwinn without a helmet, the wrong way down one-way streets, right down the middle of the road if I felt like it, and even the thought of this—knowing everything I now know about New York drivers—chills and astonishes me. The recent Citibike-ing of New York City has brought these memories rushing back, largely because the streets are suddenly swamped with Sunday bikers oblivious to traffic laws and angry taxis. Absolutely none of them wear helmets, and a huge number are tourists unfamiliar with our streets. This all feels like a recipe for calamity. Still, the sight of those blue shiny bikes just waiting for a ride has ignited a desire in me—although at this stage in the game I’d be happy to confine my activities to riding the length of Hudson River Park.  And no way, no how am I doing it without a helmet.


Typically,  I might think a leopard print bike helmet a bit much, but this is an exceptionally good leopard print.


Yakkay helmets are genius: they come with nifty snap-on hats, and you can add to your collection as the seasons—and your mood—changes.


Can you even with this floral?

Posted on June 27th, 2013 7 Comments

Print of the week

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Why wear any old button-down shirt…

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When you can wear one with neato yellow lightning bolts?

Posted on June 26th, 2013 1 Comment

The office cardigan, considered


On particularly dark days during my last job, I’d look around my less-than-immaculate office and wonder: if I get fired, how long would it take to pack this all up? Could I get it done in one day? And then: should I take some of the non-essentials home now? You might consider this morbid of me, but I was just thinking pragmatically: most editors in chief end their tenures by getting fired, and if my number came up, I wanted my exit to be quiet and swift.

I never did that  preliminary sweep, and when the fateful day arrived, the big clean-up took five hours. We packed ten boxes, and one them contained nothing but cardigans. For eleven summers I’d dealt with my building’s air conditioning system, which was as chilly as the refrigerated foods section at Costco, and the sweaters had been my armor. We all had our arsenals—it was a fashion magazine, after all, and we viewed options as crucial—but mine had swollen to comic proportions. And I can’t say that if I ever return to an office environment, it wouldn’t happen all over again. The polar summer office is a universal blight, and the best one can hope to do is face it down with style. DKNY’s classic cozy is perhaps the ideal summer cardigan; it’s a nice, light silk and cashmere blend, comes in every color you could possibly desire, and can be worn in a multitude of ways for maximum versatility.

rachel cardi

The asymmetrical lace on this Rachel Comey sweater gives it just the right degree of interest; the fact that it’s black means it’ll look good with more of your stuff.

band of outsiders

And while we’re talking lace inserts: I want.

donovan jacket

This Tory Burch sweater has the great advantage of looking like an extremely pulled-together jacket, so you get both comfort and something perfect to slip on when the boss calls a surprise  meeting.

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There are more exciting options than the cotton jewel neck cardi, but few that are as affordable, or that you will reach for as often.


Posted on June 25th, 2013 7 Comments