Saturday, November 09, 2002

Oh my God. I don't usually make a habit of reading the National Review, for obvious reasons. But via Atrios I come across this quote:


IS JOHN MUHAMMED A THREEFER? [Jonah Goldberg]
We know the Sniper is a Nation of Islam Muslim (which is to say he belongs to a cult that uses Islamic jargon). We know he's black. But I've got this nagging feeling we might find out that he also practices an alternative lifestyle -- I mean besides from all of the murdering. There's just something about this Batman and Robin act -- Malvo is his "ward"? --- that strikes me as odd, in a specific way. Call it a hunch. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


I feel so ill. The National Review really is a cesspool. The absurd thing is that right-wing bloggers have siezed upon a theme of late: left-wing homophobia. I defy anyone to find a major left wing publication in which anything so vile and homophobic (not to mention racist) is uttered.
Rittenhouse Review is asking the immortal questions: Who would start and who would win a Britney v. Christina catfight?

My thoughts:

Christina would have to somehow initiate the verbal hostilities, because otherwise Britney would never be jolted out of her plastic "really, really sweet" mode (unless she were drunk, possibly). But once jolted, Britney would say something an order of magnitude more vicious than Christina did. As for the first swing, I think that has to be Christina too. Christina is more insecure, more desperate, smarter, and more talented than Britney. Britney was a cool kid; Christina was not.* Even though Christina has better long term prospects, it has to eat into her that despite her greater talent, Britney still has the crown of Princess of Teen Pop. She doesn't have the self possession even to trust those long term prospects. Privately, she looks at Britney and sees someone sexier, more popular, and more successful than her. She simultaneously feels robbed of her birthright yet suspects that she's being punished for the ways she's fundamentally lacking. That's the kind of despair that's going to make you hit.

Who would win? Christina has more scrap; Britney more physical strength. It's a tough call. The question is whether the greater anger and desperation Christina would bring to the catfight would really translate into more fighting skill. Okay, I'm going to give it to Christina, assuming Britney's never taken a martial art (which is a big assumption). Britney's never had to fight. She just had to smile and dance and watch the lustful boys and the wannabe girls trail after her. To the extent that she had to mark her territory or exercise power (i.e., the extent it wasn't just ceded to her), I'm sure she did it verbally, with the security of her entourage and her aura of desirability to give her words more force. So in a fight, Christina bites and scratches like she means it and Britney finally is no match for her.

That's my verdict.

*I saw this on E! True Hollywood Story, which I watched with my then-roommate Susan.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Last night I dreamt that I was hooking up with an ex-boyfriend and I said okay to sex without a condom, even though I would never do that in real life. Afterwards I didn't go take the morning after pill.

I think it was political.
Thank the goddess for very, very small favors.

"The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jebus, as Atrios likes to say. I didn't realize John Paul Stevens was 82. If we can't defeat Bush in 2004, I don't think Roe V. Wade has much future. At least I live in New York.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Last night I dreamt that I was waiting with some other people (identity unknown) in a bomb shelter for a nuclear attack that we knew was coming. It wasn't really a shelter, or rather it was in the way that thing in dreams can have assigned identities that don't square with any of the ways they're represented: it took the form of a big white sunny country house with lots of windows. It's inadequacy didn't matter though, since we knew there would be a nuclear attack, and there was nothing to be done. We just sat there, listening for the sounds of the planes that would deliver the bombs for what seemed in my dream like hours, and I asked the others if it would hurt, and they said no, we'd just be vaporized.

I think it was political.
Dear MoveOn member,

Yesterday's loss was devastating. We truly face dark times.

The light in this darkness is you, and the tens of millions of
people like you, across the nation and around the world, who
will stand for a vision of hope, and not be blinded by the
politics of fear.

With Paul Wellstone's recent death, we've all been thinking
a lot about heroes. What defines a hero? And when do you know
that someone is a hero?

To stand up when it's darkest and continue the fight. That's
heroism. To fight against the odds, for something that matters.
That's heroism. To step forward, when the rest of humanity
seems to be in retreat. That's heroism.

You are heroes.

And when you step forward, you will not be alone.

We will be there, with you.

Three weeks ago, we honored four heroes, who stepped forward when
much of Congress was in retreat -- Paul Wellstone, Rush
Holt, Jay Inslee, and Rick Larsen. You came forward for these
heroes with a tremendous outpouring of support -- thousands of
volunteers and more than one million dollars in contributions.
Holt, Inslee and Larsen all won their races yesterday. And
of course, we all know Paul Wellstone would have won.

In the end, we will win.

We will win by rebuilding a new political will founded on
vision that goes beyond the tactics of fund raising and
triangulation. We will win by projecting a vision of hope
for our country and the world that is too compelling to deny.
We will win by supporting exciting new leaders on a
political landscape filled with dinosaurs.

Bush will try to position our loss as his mandate. But
remember one thing: less than 20% of the American electorate
voted for GOP candidates. Nearly as many voted against, and
far more stayed home. There is no mandate.

With your help, we will fight the coming onslaught.

We will support heroes in the House, like Minority Whip
Nancy Pelosi, who led an overwhelming majority of House
Democrats to oppose the Iraq war resolution. We will support
heroes in the Senate, like Senator Robert Byrd, whose eloquence
brought us to tears in the Senate debate on Iraq.

It's time to make a fresh start. We will demand quality
leadership in these difficult times. The Democratic party must
find its voice, represent its members, and promote the broad
interests of the American public. We will accept no less.

Thanks for everything you've done.

We stand together, with you,

- Wes, Joan, Carrie, Peter, Doug, and Eli
MoveOn.org PAC
Wednesday, November 6th, 2002

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG PAC



I want to believe this (what the Move On folks wrote). I'm still so distraught. I went over to my aunt's house last night to live in the fantasy world in which an intellectual Democratic president was elected with a wide mandate, then the fantasy world in which New York cops always catch the bad guy rather than not noticing on a regular basis when he just walks out of the jail. Then I watched the news and there's a case of bubonic plague on the Upper East Side. The bubonic plague, Republicans...if any of you is a first born son I, as a vegan, give you permission to paint lamb's blood over your door...And then I watched Jay Leno, who really woke me up to reality, and here's how: We were all happy to hear that Dennis Miller would be on Leno. We figured, he's a smart guy, he'll have something funny to say. Maybe he'll mock the Democrats' spinelessness (they certainly deserve it) and the Republicans' war drums at the expense of any other kind of coherent policy (I mean, except the gut social security and every other existing entitlement and cut taxes drastically for the wealthiest members of society policy. There is that policy).

This is what he had to say: "All I can say is, I'm happy Bill Clinton isn't president. I mean, Bush is just such a good guy. He makes you feel good. When I compare Bush with the retarded kids on his lawn to Clinton playing air guitar I just feel so good. The left really lost me when they said Giuliani wasn't a good guy. New York is cleaner and safer. Look at 9-11. What do the Democrats have? Gray Davis? They're selling electricity in California at minibar prices. And they don't want us to preemptively defend ourselves when they attack us?" I swear, there was no indication of sarcasm in his voice or his demeanor. A minor note, if you're trying to laud Republicans and castigate Democrats, it's pretty absurd to pick CA's energy crisis as your example, even if Gray Davis is a bad governor, and even if he presided over it. Does he really think the Republican party is going to be the brake on PG&E, Edison, and the Enrons of tomorrow? A less minor note but still not my major point: Why can not people get it through their heads that the Arab world is not just one big They? If you want to make a case for invading Iraq, fine, but please, in the name of all that's holy, make it a rational one. But my major point: "He makes you feel good?" Could he have meant this seriously? I really think he did, unless his sarcasm was buried so deeply as to be undetectable. My vibrator makes me feel good; that doesn't mean I want it to run for public office (this is actually a rhetorical gesture rather than literal truth since the vibrator I have doesn't make me feel that good; that's why I want a Hitachi Magic Wand). I heard this, and I was just flabbergasted. He's not insufficiently educated to know that he's not supposed to make his decisions that way. But apparently he's choosing to. I know this sounds histrionic, but I couldn't help but think, "Hitler made people feel good to be German, too." This mindless pursuit of patriotism and exaltation of the President who "makes you feel good" is just...well...it's pleasure-seeking. Hedonism. Patriotism at the expense of any effort to think about the policies that make good government is a kind of hedonism of the mind, and these people would rather be happy pigs than unhappy, thinking human beings. (I think it’s perfectly possible to have patriotism accompanied by an effort to think about the policies that make good government; I just don’t think that a lot of these Bush followers are exhibiting that kind of patriotism.) These people must see the outside world as a glowering row of Arabs facing them down, which scares them, so they snuggle up in the red, white, and blue toasty blanket that Bush gives them.

My question is: How do you deal with these people? I can confront people with whom I have a genuine ideological disagreement, people who want to discuss policy. I can talk to them; I can hear and evaluate the strengths of their arguments and when I find their arguments compelling I can alter my own beliefs. But how to deal with these pleasure-seekers, who will just say over and over that Bush makes them feel good? I guess you have to take it to people who are a little less comfortable than Dennis Miller and try to make it clear through the thicket of lies perpetrated by politicians and our press that most Republican policies are just not in their interest. Like, say, the repeal of the estate tax. Sorry I’m harping on that, but it just boggles my mind that that’s really going to happen. If you can’t tax the children of millionaires who will never have to work a day in their lives, whom can you tax?

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Tapped makes the point Conason does.

I just tried to drown my sorrows in too much cake at Sacred Chow. Unwise, considering my stomach already hurt.

People I'm pissed at at work:

The president just saw me in the hallway and said, "Smile, the world didn't end." I was like, fuck you, don't you know it's anti-feminist to tell women to smile? If on this of all days I'm not allowed to look upset, then...then...then I don't know what. I should be allowed to look upset, that's my point.

This vacuous girl who sits diagonally from me who has complained about being "tokenized" by higher ups in the office (her word: she means being treated like a cute little thing you don't have to take seriously) yet behaves in a way that really invites it (greeting her boyfriend on the phone, "Hey baby," talking to him in the office in baby talk voice, talking about him very frequently, using the word "like" even more frequently than I do, calling everything, "soooo cute!," wearing these sort of high fashion pigtails), who I was beginning to warm to because we bonded during this conflict the support staff had with management (long story), and she talked to me about how she was unable to turn off acting "charming" even when she wanted to, has now totally lost my goodwill, by saying that she felt "soooo guilty" (and smiling a little apologetically) because she didn't send in her absentee ballot and she was registered in GEORGIA! I was like, you should feel guilty, you little twit. You should be lacerating yourself right now. I'll buy the whip. She works for a women's rights non-profit, for God's sake. It's not like she's apolitical or didn't understand what was at stake. I would have loved to have been registered in a state with a competitive senate race. I couldn't believe she even said that out loud in this office today. Then she said, "I just don't identify with the Democrats." Well, let's see how she identifies with THE REPEAL OF THE GODDAMNED ESTATE TAX. And gee, hope she never needs a late term abortion...no, actually, I hope she does. I hope her health is at risk and she needs one. She won't get it, and when she doesn't, I hope she remembers that she helped the Republicans retake the Senate.

It makes me mad that well-to-do shallow white girls who are too lazy to vote are much more insulated from the effects of "the government they deserve" than, well, less well-to-do shallow white girls, or less well-to-do people of any race, gender, and profundity. I want people who just don't give a shit to suffer.

I'm so ill. My head hurts; my stomach hurts. I want to cry about all of this.

Meyerson's saying something similar, although he doesn't make the point Conason does: that the minuscule need-an-electron-microscope-to-find-it silver lining in all of this is that it will be much more difficult for the Republicans to prevaricate about what they support, and what they support (massive tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, social security privatization, etc.) is essentially not popular. Of course, I should never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to prevaricate with the assistance of our lazy, uncritical, prevaricating press. The problem is that they can do so much damage in two years. When this tax cut (including the repeal of the estate tax) becomes permanent it will be very difficult to reinstate the taxes. There won't be any money for the old social programs, much less any new ones. I feel pretty absurd right now working on a campaign for massive national government support for child care and early education (a brand new social program) when the old entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare are going to be in serious jeopardy. Meanwhile, I can't even start to talk about what's going to happen to the federal judiciary...
Perhaps this would be a good time to start taking more drugs. Or become a really committed progressive activist. I can't decide.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Update on my efforts to become famous:

The producers of Strictly Personal called me today! The show is usually filmed in people's homes, to get a slice of their life, it seems. This presents a conundrum. I don't think my home really represents me. I'm a subletter, and most of the stuff here isn't mine. The bookshelf is stocked with social studies books like Backlash, Democracy in America, and The Fateful Triangle. Only a meager three feet of one shelf is home to books of mine like The Portrait of a Lady and The Magic Mountain. I don't have many pictures up, and the whole apartment is much more spare and earth-toned than any place I decorated would ever be. The other problem is that I'm an illegal subletter, and there's an off-chance that the landlord or, more problematically, the super, could catch this show, recognize me and the apartment, and say, wait a minute, she lives there by herself. So I don't know about this film at home thing.

They said you could film it somewhere you like to hang out. Trouble is, I never go anywhere. I could just arbitrarily pick the 47th St. Community Garden. I like to go there even though I don't go there that often. If it's outside, I could wear my furry coat and thereby not have to worry if I look thin. That's an advantage. Any thoughts on this issue?
I wonder what motivated Buzz Bernard as he wrote this:

Northeast
A powerful coastal storm, a pre-winter wake-up call, will whack the Northeast tonight and tomorrow. And it will be more of a thwack with a two-by-four than a soft slap with an open hand.

My coworker Mary seemed to think he was angry. My question is: at whom? Do you think he's angry at the approaching onslaught of winter, or do you think as a weatherman he has some variation of Stockholm Syndrome, he identifies with the weather, and he's angry at the non-weather-identified masses for not being as respectful of the weather as they should be?

Monday, November 04, 2002

So one of the things blogs are supposed to do is link to things they think are truly important, rather than rather frivolously linking to kale, as I've been doing. Here's something disgusting, via Atrios:

Cummings also held up a flier that Democratic campaign volunteers said they found posted in some Northwest Baltimore neighborhoods, including on the doors of Pimlico Middle School.

The unsigned flier read: "URGENT NOTICE. Come out to vote on November 6th. Before you come to vote make sure you pay your parking tickets, motor vehicle tickets, overdue rent and most important any warrants."

It's just another one of those times when you have to say to yourself, whoever did that is just a bad person. He or she is going to another circle in the Hell of my desiring.

Remember to vote tomorrow.

(And dear Lord, though I said below I don't belive in You, please let the Democrats keep the Senate. If that's not too much effort and you'd like to hear another of my prayers, please let McBride be the next governor of Florida.)

I have learned from blog posts like this one that it is conventional to include “100 Things About Me” posts in blogs. So here it goes.

100 Things About Me.


1. My birthday was [censored]. (I've been warned it's a bad idea to publish your birthdate.
2. Whenever people who should remember forget my birthday or remember and still don’t do anything for my birthday, it hurts my feelings. I am very sensitive to slights like this.
3. I am sensitive to slights (real and imagined) in general.
4. I am a Libra, Pisces rising.
5. I don’t believe in astrology.
6. I am an Enneagram 4, variously called "The Tragic Romantic,” “The Artist,” “The Individualist”...you get the idea.
7. I think the Enneagram is the most powerful and accurate personality typing system I’ve ever come across, though this might not be saying much.
8. I want to be a psychologist and a writer when I grow up, I think.
9. I am working on a novel right now.
10. It is 90 pages long.
11. I work on it very sporadically, and it has been 90 pages long for about a month.
12. It might not turn out to be very good. This pains me and often keeps me from working on it because I am a very harsh critic of writing, including my own.
13. This blog might not be a good idea, since it will only keep me from more productive and focused writing.
14. I want to be a psychologist for two reasons. The first is that the workings of the human mind are fascinating, and it would be easy to devote a lifetime of study to them. The second is that I know what it’s like to feel really fucking bad, and if I can help other people feel better, it would be a worthwhile use of my energies.
15. I think I have the potential to be very good at both of the things I want to be when I grow up.
16. I am not sure I will actualize this potential, and that scares me.
17. I am learning to play the cello (I just started).
18. I also like to draw.
19. I am a vegan.
20. I have lapses.
21. I would never lapse into flesh eating. That’s unimaginable. I lapse into ovo-lacto vegetarianism.
22. The fact that I have lapses led me to wonder whether I should downgrade to vegetarianism when I graduated from college.
23. I considered this, but ultimately decided that I should continue to be a vegan for several reasons. 1) It’s a major part of my identity at this point. (This is the most frivolous reason.) 2) Given the animal suffering and environmental degradation that’s involved in the production of the vast majority of egg and dairy products, I think it’s wrong to eat these things, and the fact that I sometimes have lapses doesn’t change this essential belief of mine. It’s better to strive to avoid doing something that I think is wrong and sometimes fail in my aspiration than to give up the aspiration entirely. 3) Years (eight and a half) of mostly avoiding animal products have made me lose my taste for them. I don’t really like most non-vegan food. It’s only its forbidden status that makes it so attractive.
24. I’ve forgiven myself for having lapses. I’ve decided that if everyone behaved as I did in this respect, the world would be a better place than it is now, and by that criterion, I can be satisfied that my behavior is ethical.
25. I think that there are no good reasons for not being a vegetarian, except for “I understand all the reasons to be a vegetarian, but I just like eating meat too much to give it up” or “My body doesn’t feel as good when I don’t eat meat.”
26. My favorite movie is Life is Beautiful.
27. My favorite book is The Brothers Karamazov.
28. I love to read, but I occasionally go through periods when I really don’t feel like finishing the book I’m currently reading, but I don’t want to admit that I’m not going to finish it, so I carry it around and pretend to myself that I’m reading it, and as a result I don’t read anything for months.
29. I’m in one of those periods now.
30. Those periods make me unhappy.
31. I don’t know whether to describe myself as a basically happy or basically unhappy person.
32. I think there are more important things in life than being happy, but being happy, or at least being able to keep a reign on the unhappiness, sometimes makes those things easier to accomplish.
33. I don’t know if reading will ever be quite the same for me as it was when I was a child.
34. I had an unhappy childhood.
35. My parents are divorced.
36. I recently started writing to my father again after a five-year silence between us.
37. I love Broadway musicals.
38. My favorite composer of musicals is Stephen Sondheim.
39. My five favorite musicals are Passion, Sweeney Todd, Man of La Mancha, Les Miserables, and Rent (or Flower Drum Song—I can never decide which should get that space.)
40. Mushrooms are my favorite food.
41. Chocolate soymilk is my favorite drink.
42. I also love opera.
43. Puccini is my favorite composer of operas.
44. Un bel di is my favorite aria.
45. I like Leontyne Price’s version the best.
46. My novel has the same skeletal plot as Madame Butterfly, which I didn’t realize until a few months after I conceived of it.
47. I have an idea for a science fiction retelling of Troilus and Cressida that would make a great opera.
48. I also love those sort of nouveau-folk (I just made up that term) singers from the sixties and seventies (like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and Joan Baez), and also good contemporary musicians who are in the same vein (like the Magnetic Fields).
49. Generally, the words of a song are more important to me than the music.
50. If I had to pick one favorite song, it would be the title song from Anyone Can Whistle. It’s the one song Sondheim ever wrote that he personally identified with.
51. I identify with it, too.
52. I have been known to laugh and cry really hard.
53. I am heterosexual.
53. Someday I wouldn’t mind tying my hair back, binding my breasts, wearing a strap on, and having sex with a girl as a boy.
55. I found the scene in Boys Don’t Cry depicting exactly that very sexy.
56. When considered for a moment, I don’t think this fantasy is that inconsistent with the statement “I am heterosexual.” I wonder if the fundamental thing that drives peoples sexual orientations is whether they are attracted to sameness or difference.
57. My love life so far has really sucked.
58. It is sometimes very hard for me to make myself believe that there’s a good chance that it will get better.
59. I recently got into a game with a misery poker contest with a visiting friend about whose love life had been worse.
60. In the end we conceded that we tied, but I secretly still believed I won.
61. I am married to Ewan McGregor.
62. We were married about the time I saw the video of Moulin Rouge.
63. Yes, I know he has another wife and a child.
64. Our love can overcome any obstacle. You’ll never understand.
65. I want it generally known that just because Ewan was incredibly hot in Moulin Rouge does not mean it was otherwise a good movie.
66. I loved A.I.
67. I have a very recognizable “type,” of which Ewan in that movie was the perfect exemplar: dark-haired, dark-eyed, long-eyelashed, sensitive, tragic.
68. I can be attracted to people who aren’t my type.
69. I bite my nails.
70. I chew on pens and miscellaneous available plastic objects (like the pull-off seal on a carton of Silk soymilk).
71. I will never start smoking.
72. I really like to give oral sex.
73. I felt pretty confident of my abilities in that last department until my most recent attempt, although it was only once with that person, so maybe it doesn’t have to count. (I should at least be able to get to know the person, right?)
74. I have had sex (defining sex as “vaginal intercourse”) with one person.
75. I once hooked up with someone who said, “One person? You’ve had sex with one person? You’re practically a virgin!”
76. I like yoga.
77. I should exercise more.
78. Sometimes exercising perversely negatively affects my body image, because I start getting into a mode of thinking wherein I believe that my body is more perfectable than in fact it is.
79. In this space I wrote several things that I then decided were too revealing, and I deleted them.
80. I used to speak Spanish and French a lot better than I do now.
81. I was born in Spain.
82. Except when I was too young to remember, I’ve never been out of the country.
83. Okay, technically I remember the camping trips I took with my mom to Baja California when I was seven and eight, but that doesn’t really count.
84. I keep intending to travel, and I keep chickening out.
85. I am an only child.
86. I am a registered Democrat.
87. I used to be a registered Green.
88. I then figured out that I hated the Greens.
89. I don’t know how to drive.
90. I wasn’t raised in any faith.
91. I don’t believe in god.
92. I cannot be sure that there is no god.
93. I often wish I had been raised Catholic, so I could have a faith I could sort of ambivalently belong to. You can’t ambivalently convert, unfortunately.
94. I like alcohol a lot better than pot.
95. I only really like pot for relieving insomnia and menstrual cramps.
96. Those are the only two drugs I’ve tried.
97. I had braces in Junior High and in the beginning of high school.
98. I was a terrible orthodontia patient.
99. As a result, my teeth are still crooked today.
100. This quote pretty much describes my quest: “For love is but the heart’s immortal desire to be completely known and all forgiven.”—H. Van Dyke

(I'll add more links to this post later.)

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Despite what some earlier posts might have led you to believe, I still have AOL. Inertia turned out to be too great for me to ever get rid of it. I can sort of justify it's uselfulness; I don't have a television, so AOL is one way I get access to the mass media mind and any interesting twitches therein. To wit: a few minutes ago the rotating headline in the AOL sign-in box was "It Comes Down to the Economy: jobs, terrorism top concerns," but it now reads "It Comes Down to the: jobs, terrorism top concerns." Not even an ellipsis to make it read a little better. I guess whoever wrote the original headline was superseded by some higher up who was either a Bush partisan or was at least wary of appearing to have "liberal bias" and so wanted to deemphasize the economy as an issue in this election.
I was reading over the post about AOL below (the permalink isn't working) and thinking about how absurd it is to have a woman take a quiz and then tell her, “You are insecure about your body and confused about conflicting messages society sends women about how sexual they should be.” Why did I click on radio buttons for five pages so it could tell me that? I wonder if fortune-tellers use that one. A woman comes in and the fortune-teller says, “I see that now or at some time in the past you have worried about your weight. You have wished to be thinner.” Then the woman gasps and says, “Wow! That’s exactly right! You should have your own 900 number.”

A friend of mine once went to the kind of old school fortune teller you might find in some dark sunken room, advertised by a neon sign at knee level when you're on the street, above your head when you're inside, the room heavily curtained, dimly lit, maybe even complete with a crystal ball, who knows? She was there to do historical research; she was an intern at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum which was doing an exhibit on Dora Meltzer and the other immigrant inhabitants of a tenement they were restoring. It was raining that day, and my friend was wearing a big purple poncho and her hair was plastered onto her face, so perhaps, as she tells the story, she wasn't looking her best. The fortune teller decided to exploit my friend's insecurity (as the fortune teller perceived it) and told my friend, "Although you have the body of a woman, you have the soul of a man." The fortune teller could flip the gender of her soul for a modest fee of $300 if she would be so kind as to come back next week. My friend, of course, declined. If there's a Hell, I think there should be a special circle in it for people who make money off of making people feel worse about themselves. It sort of reminds me of this time I got caught in a conversation with a man on the street who claimed to be French and a photographer for "L'Air Magazine" (I don't think it exists). He told me he would pay me $1000 if I came back to his studio with him so he could take my picture. When I politely declined, he asked me, "What's the matter? You don't like your body? Why don't you want your picture taken?" He asked me what my astrological sign was. I told him Libra, and he said, "I thought so. They're very insecure." I had not previously been aware of the positive correlation between self-esteem and willingness to be raped and murdered. As I mulled over that interaction later, I thought, what a bad person. Even if all he wanted was sex, and even if his strategy for getting it was so pitifully doomed, the fact that he would try to manipulate me into feeling bad about myself in order to get what he wanted just damns him to the Hell of my desiring, along with the fortune teller my friend visited.

About a week ago I actually saw a fortune telling, or a psychic reading as they're called nowadays. I was eating in Sacred Chow, a (highly recommended!) vegan restaurant in Greenwich Village, and an older white haired woman in a lumberjackish plaid shirt came up to the middle bank of tables and asked me and the girl sitting next to me if either of us would like a psychic reading. I declined, but the girl next to me (early twenties, blond, pony tail) forked over ten dollars. The girl said that she would prefer not to hear anything bad, and she asked about the psychics methods because she (the girl) sometimes "saw things" too. The psychic took the girl's palms and gazed into the back of her own head. I was watching all this, and the psychic (rather rudely I thought) told me to look over at the paintings on the wall. Now, there were no other tables available, and looking at the paintings would have meant looking away from my food as I was eating it and blindly navigating forkfuls of raw kale with Dijon vinaigrette into my mouth, a tricky enterprise. Anyway, Sacred Chow is a restaurant, not a tent at the carnival. I was performing the officially sanctioned activity. Harrumph. I negotiated the situation by staring steadily at my kale but listening intently to the reading. This was the caliber of the woman’s predictions:

You’re not from around here. You have family back home. They want you to come home. You have one parent who’s really behind you.

(To this the girl was mostly unresponsive.)

I see that you are involved in some emotional entanglement. You need to break free. You need advice on breaking free.

(The girl said she wasn’t in a relationship, nor had she been recently. That didn’t sound right to her. The psychic asked her if that could describe a friendship. The girl said no.)

Someone will come into your life. He will be tall and dark.

(Have I met him before? asked the girl. I don’t think so, said the psychic. Because there was this guy I met a few weeks ago, said the girl. Was he in film? Are you in film? asked the psychic. I think he was, said the girl. I’ve done some film work.)

Then the psychic and the girl had a long discussion about whether or not the girl had a game plan for leaving New York quickly in the event of a terrorist attack, which the psychic said would happen in April. At first the psychic said she should go to California, but then said the coasts weren’t safe, and then said you couldn’t really be safe anywhere.

When they were done I got up and left the restaurant as the girl was leaving. She turned out to be very nice, and we chatted. She told me that she was very skeptical about the whole thing; she never would have gone to a psychic reading before a little while ago, but then she started seeing things, so she wanted to know what others saw. But she hadn’t anticipated being very impressed with the psychic at the start of the reading. Then this was what amazed me: she said that the psychic had dramatically exceeded her expectations with her spot-on divinations. The girl’s whole basis for her positive appraisal was what the psychic had said about her family—that they wanted her to come home and that one parent was really supportive. The girl said that this was true: her family did want her to come home and her mom was much more supportive than her dad. The girl said she had been so unresponsive during that segment of the reading to make sure she didn’t unwittingly give the psychic any clues.

Of course, it hardly needs saying that “your family wants you to come home and you have one parent who is really behind you,” is not a prediction that requires any paranormal ability. If you encounter a young, well-kept, innocent-looking girl (she was all three) in the Big City, it’s not going way far out on a limb to imagine that she might have family who wants her back home. (Similarly, speculating that a young person in Greenwich Village eating in Sacred Chow has some kind of film connection is not exactly the riskiest conjecture.) The statement “one of your parents is behind you” doesn’t preclude the other parent being dead or absent or even the other parent being behind the child. And for that matter, when you take several vague shots in the dark, just by chance one will probably be accurate. It didn’t so much surprise me that the fortune telling was shitty as it did that the girl said she was skeptical at the beginning but then was converted. Obviously, she wasn’t ever skeptical. It’s so funny the way people want to cast themselves as skeptics but are in fact the most accepting of believers. I guess they choose the “I was a skeptic” stance for credibility, both in others’ eyes and in their own. It’s sort of like the way people try to claim convert status for credibility (“I was a liberal in my callow youth, but now I’ve seen the folly of my ways”), as if the mere fact of having changed their mind makes their views more valid. It seems skepticism, like sexual prowess, is one of those things you shouldn’t have to brag about. It should be obvious, and if it’s not, that’s a problem.

I thought it was funny that as we were chatting the girl asked me, "Are you young?" I told her I was 23. (She was 24). She said, "I thought so. You had to be either young or not from around here. You're so nice."


I’m famous! Alright, not quite, but a letter I wrote is published on a widely read blog! At least, widely read relative to other blogs…look, give me a break, I’m trying to savor the spotlight for a minute here.

I wrote this letter in response to Dan Savage’s offensively stupid (and stupidly offensive) Iraq editorial. If you don’t know me personally, you may not know of my history of animosity with Dan Savage. It will all become clear in a subsequent post, because I’m thinking of using this blog to launch a “Write to Dan Savage and Tell Him That as a Man of Honor He Must Send Katie a Hitachi Magic Wand (and All Three Attachments)” campaign. Details will follow.

The author of this blog, Jim Cappozzola, told me that he had to delete my reference to blowjobs and change my phrase "cross dressing poo-eaters" to cross dressing coprophiliacs because his mom read his blog. I found this very curious. I had to look up coprophiliac, and when I found out what it meant I couldn't understand why it would be more, uh, palatable to his mom, since it conveys basically the same idea of a sexual fascination with shit. Does his mom only object to the eating part? Caroline (my friend, who will probably be mentioned frequently), suggested that he might have assumed that his mom wouldn't know what it meant and wouldn't bother to look it up.

In addition to being famous, I also can’t sleep, as I’m sure you’ll be able to tell by the time stamp on this post. There is a beautiful woman in my bed right now. Tragically, I’m straight and so is she.

And speaking of being famous and of people in my bed, a month ago I got an email from Jen of Nerve.com, telling me I was selected to appear on a new television show, “Strictly Personal,” that airs on Channel 70 in New York City. I was visited with this honor because my Nerve.com personal ad fooled someone into believing I had “the look/personality/enthusiasm” they wanted for the show. I was somewhat taken aback, and I wondered whether appearing on television to pimp myself out was such a great idea, especially since one of the reasons I seem to have so much personality and enthusiasm on my ads is that print is easily my best medium, and I wasn’t sure I would translate into television, especially hyperedited reality TV. I always see those twentysomethings on reality shows and think, “Who are these stupid, shallow people? I don’t identify with my generation.” But then I have to wonder if I would sound just as stupid if I were on TV. Ultimately, though, I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity at 3-5 minutes of fame (I hear they’re airing each show five times though, so it would in fact be 15-25 minutes). I was so curious. Would I get my hair and makeup done while I sit in a little director's chair in front of a mirror bordered with light bulbs? Would some kind of stage manager hold up one of those black and white signs with the arm that falls to signal the beginning of the shoot? But so far the producers haven’t called me to schedule a shoot. I think it may be because of some confusion about my phone number; I thought my phone was broken for a while (it turned out I had just flipped some mysterious switch in my apartment that cut off the power). I may have to call up Jen from Nerve and pester her.