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Updated: 40 min 44 sec ago

Gidge, “Lit”

2 hours 51 min ago
What are you like, outside?Photo: Roey Ahram

Have you been outside today? Don’t do that again. Have you not been outside yet? Stay where you are. If you would like an approximation of current climatic conditions please press play. Enjoy, particularly if you don’t need to step out again until tomorrow.

https://medium.com/media/96afb3dbf713cb07b30b85a06e6e782a/href

Gidge, “Lit” was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Gloria Allred’s Lovely October Roast

2 hours 51 min ago
A delicious burn you may have missed.Flickr

Civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred announced today that a client of hers will be filing suit against President-elect Donald Trump for sexually inappropriate conduct. Allred and her client revealed more specifics this afternoon during a press conference, but to get more background I’ve been reading about Allred’s work on this issue to date, and it seems I missed an incredibly good burn she delivered back in October.

See, after footage leaked from Access Hollywood of Trump bragging about how easy it is for him to force himself upon women sexually, nearly a dozen women came forward to corroborate that, yep, he has a history of being inappropriate. Trump replied cavalierly, accusing Allred of being in cahoots with the Clinton campaign, at which point she released a public statement:

Please understand that you will not intimidate me. Others who are smarter, richer and more famous than you have tried and failed.

:)

Good ’tude, Gloria.

Gloria Allred’s Lovely October Roast was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Best Parts of the “Property Brothers” Music Video

3 hours 55 min ago
(It is every part.)YouTube

Do you know the Property Brothers? They’re HGTV personalities whose schtick is that they’re twins and they’re tall. One Property Brother (you can look up his name) is more of a real estate guy, helping you buy your house for the best possible deal and making sure you’re getting great resale value. The other one (Google it) is more of a design guy, taking your new home and transforming it into a functional and stylish living space the whole family can enjoy. Moist? America sure is. The pair helms multiple shows for the network, and two of them are in their top four ratings-wise (Property Brothers raked in more than 2.2 million viewers in 2016, and Brother vs. Brother brought in over 2.6).

I’m not sure anyone anticipated them being on the air this long when they first launched in 2011—and it definitely seems like the boys are ready to explore some new projects. In an effort to stop making the same suburban West coast house over and over again, they recently did a miniseries in New Orleans restoring a historical building to code with Hoda as a guest judge, but they still had to be “themselves.” Brothers. Single identical twin brothers. Guys who roast each other because they’re bad at dating, or mis-measured the length of a beam and cut it too short—only now they’re 38 and designing their 45,000th man cave.

For all we know these guys have fulfilling personal lives, but they’re not allowed to share that with us. Their style of dress is not allowed to change. It can best be described as Vegas business-casual. They live together in a house they built and renovated together (on the air, as the Property Brothers) and it has a two-story spiral water slide that leads to their party pool, and you can access both from a balcony. They will be forty in two years, but have to continually scream, “I AM VERY FULFILLED BY A VERY SPECIFIC TYPE OF MASCULINITY I PROBABLY RELATED TO MORE WHEN I WAS 28 AND PITCHING A TV SHOW TO A NETWORK” all day for a living. That must be… complex to navigate.

Anyway, these two put out a music video this week and it’s a cover of Flo Rida’s “My House” featuring someone named Eric Paslay whom you are also free to Google. It is at once an extension of the pseudo-fratty, family-first lifestyle they’re always peddling and an odd, sweet peek into the things you can tell they wish they were able to do more of. For instance, “comedy” and “country music.”

https://medium.com/media/0e9fe836e3a33e9252e8702c50e7eda0/href

Here are my favorite parts of the video:

  • when the Property Brothers totally forgot the Architects Quarterly photoshoot
  • when the Property Brothers transition from casual day to formal day looks
  • when a bunch of squares show up at their door
  • when one square is named Muffy Winthorpe
  • when the Property Brothers are in the photo booth with their pals
  • when the one in the gray? deep olive? teeshirt does “country voice”
  • when both Property Brothers are very sexually tempted by hotties in bikinis
  • when the Property Brothers don’t let their horniness stop them from having this meeting, though
  • when we discover that Carrot Top is friends with the Property Brothers
  • when everyone hides from the squares under the water in the pool
  • when they are finally like “fuck it” and reveal their party boy nature to the squares
  • when Muffy Winthorpe yells “Cannonball!” and does a cannonball

Capitalism is weird. Dream big, little sweeties.

The Best Parts of the “Property Brothers” Music Video was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction

6 hours 42 min ago
Civil War-era medical instruments, a canine skeleton, and a famous club’s neon marqueeLot 1: Amputation ToolsCourtesy of Case Antiques

On offer in Knoxville, Tennessee, on January 21 is this “nineteenth-century American surgeon’s field amputation kit in fitted, brass mounted, mahogany and satinwood veneered case with velvet lining,” and ugh, it’s that murky red velvet that really delivers the gut punch, considering the splatters it could be concealing. Nestled inside are 35 grisly-looking medical instruments, including a bone saw, scalpels, probes, and a tourniquet.

The auctioneers date this set to “circa 1870s,” i.e., post-anesthesia, but pre-Germ Theory, which means the patient would be knocked out while the doctor sawed off his leg, but he’d still have a decent chance of dying from infection soon after. As Dr. Stanley Burns, historical advisor to PBS’s medical-historical drama, Mercy Street, has written, “Of the approximately 30,000 amputations performed in the Civil War there was a 26.3-percent mortality rate.”

A twentieth-century Nashville doctor previously owned this kit, and although it bears signs of use — “some blades retain dark stains” — we imagine he wasn’t actively operating with it. Bidding starts at $1,200.

Lot 2: Dog BonesCourtesy of Bonhams

This is pretty much exactly what it looks like: a dog’s skeleton mounted on a wooden base. To be slightly more specific, it’s an Irish wolfhound’s skeleton mounted on a wooden base.

If you’re thinking WTF, here’s the thing: large auction houses, in this case, Bonhams in London, occasionally hold sales under the rubric, “A Gentleman’s Library” or “Gentleman Collector,” where you’ll find an assortment of model ships, antique microscopes, and silver toast racks. Also, a dog skeleton. Was it a beloved pet? There is no mention. What we do know is that Wolfie stands 42” x 35” x 18” and is estimated to bring in the equivalent of $2,000 at auction on January 19.

If you happen to be in the possession of the Golden Tablet of Pharaoh Akhmenrah — which is totally the kind of object that would turn up at a “Gentleman’s” sale by the way — you might even get this carcass to play fetch à la “Rexy.”

Lot 3: Jim Morrison Played Here

Just last month, Sotheby’s sold the original hand-painted CBGB awning for $30,000, and in that light, neither the forthcoming sale on January 25 of this neon pink marquee for another legendary music club, nor its estimated price of $35,000–40,000, elicits much surprise.

Courtesy of Saco River Auction Co.

‘The Whisky,’ as it was known in the 1980s and 90s when this sign topped its entrance, is a Los Angeles rock club that has been open since 1964. So says the Maine-based auctioneer offering it: “Performing on its infamous stage is one of the true rites of passage in the world of rock ’n’ roll and it is credited with having launched the careers of countless bands including The Doors, Frank Zappa, Buffalo Springfield, Van Halen, Motley Crue, and Guns N’ Roses.” Now known as The Whisky a Go Go (its original name), the club remains a Sunset Strip attraction.

Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places.

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

It’s Not The End Of The World But You Might Wish It Were

6 hours 51 min ago
And other answers to unsolicited questions.Image: Steven Guzzardi“Friday is the end of the world and we’ll all be dead by the middle of next week, right?” — Worried Walt

Take it easy, snowflake. I hope I’m using that term correctly. I like snowflakes, but only when they’re falling and not when they’re all piled up and in my way. No one’s got time for belly-aching. We should cherish the time we have left on this earth and not use it to worry about things we cannot control. Like the next president of the United States. Or earthquakes. Or even the TV show ‘The Bachelor.’

It’s not going to be fun for however long Donald Trump is President. Thoughtful, sensitive people will have a hard time. People who read newspapers or magazines. Those who watch television. Or who think about things. Twitterers. Even the people that voted for him will probably soon turn on him. Because if there was a picture of what someone who shouldn’t be president in some book somewhere, that picture would be of Donald Trump.

But it’s the waiting that’s really driving you nuts. Friday still seems like a lifetime away and things are always worse when they are off in the fuzzy, near-future. Let’s just tear the seventh seal off and get this apocalypse started, am I right? Well, Friday will come soon enough. But your dread is really just your body telling you that the grapes are just a little too-far off for your little fox snout.

That we really have control over anything is an illusion, one that you should relieve yourself of. That’s what gives you ulcers. If three people in your car on your road trip decide to drive off a cliff, there’s nothing you can do, is there? You can make a protest sign in your back seat, or call your senator. But you’re still going over the cliff, Thelma and Louise. That’s why we live in a democracy. You’re only as smart as your dumbest majority.

You can’t really blame people for voting for Donald Trump. His way of approaching all of his problems is unimpeachable: tweet insults about it. That’s what I do when an airline loses my bags or there aren’t enough Ikes in my box of Mike and Ikes. It gets results. They will probably send you an envelope with some Mikes in it.

And I understand people don’t like Hillary Clinton. I can barely stand anybody, myself included.

But let’s not completely give into despair, sheeple. Let’s just let despair get to you naturally when it will, like the rising water in a bathtub. Sure, people of intelligence are going to have it rough for a while. Sometimes you’re on top of the wheel, sometimes the wheel grinds your face into the concrete. We will have to bounce back and forth between lilypads, like Frogger, waiting for the new president to tweet out his edicts. There’s worse way to get information. Flaming poo and pitch slung from a catapult, for starters. Or a voicemail message.

Make love like there’s no tomorrow. Some Republicans want to do away with pornography. So make sure to back up all your pornography. You can’t worry about death. You can worry about slowly fading away in a world in which lies are the truth and down is up. So refuse to be gaslamped. There’s more of us than there are of them. So find each other, be of comfort to one another. Fuck each other. Then make sure to back up that other person’s pornography.

Sarcasm, humor and snark: these are the last resorts of the pathetic and powerless. So break the glass and start using that stuff. Laughter may be the sound of an emotion inside you dying, but it also makes you feel a whole lot better. So why not go for it? Superior people are going to get to feel very superior for a while. Compared to Donald Trump the person sitting next to you on the subway is Thomas Merton. In both directions! We’re all in this together. We could be there for each other. In the small ways that mean something when added up. Being polite and thoughtful. Holding doors open. Not foisting a maniacal ego monster on people in the future.

It will probably take a while for us to get used to Trump and the new circle of Hell we are entering. Someday soon we will ignore his tweets. We won’t worry about him every second. And then we’ll know that we’ve truly died on the inside. Everyone’s dying, though. How bad could it be. It’s not the end of the world but you might wish it were. We survive even the Donald Trumps of the world. But it feels a little bit like dying.

Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.

It’s Not The End Of The World But You Might Wish It Were was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

For Love of the Unknown

7 hours 8 min ago
The Adventures of Liana Finck

Liana Finck is a New Yorker cartoonist. She is also on Instagram.

For Love of the Unknown was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

> Dr. Ruth Facts

7 hours 21 min ago
From Everything Changes, the Awl’s newsletter. Subscribe here.Image: Vimeo

Happy New Year. Here are some facts about human sexuality expert and radio personality Dr. Ruth.

Dr. Ruth was born Karola Ruth Siegel on June 4, 1929, in Wiesenfeld, Germany.

The SS took Ruth’s father away a week after Kristallnacht.

At age 10, her mother and grandmother sent her via Kindertransport to Switzerland.

She grew up in an orphanage in Switzerland and stopped receiving letters from her parents in September of 1941. Years later, she learned that they had been killed in the Holocaust.

As a teenager, Ruth decided to emigrate with some friends to Palestine. There, she changed her name to Ruth.

Her first boyfriend’s nickname was Putz.

She “first had sexual intercourse on a starry night, in a haystack without contraception” on a kibbutz.

She joined Haganah, an underground organization fighting to create a Jewish homeland, and was trained to be a sniper.

“As a four-foot-seven woman, I would have been turned away by any self-respecting army anywhere else in the world,” she says. “But I had other qualities that made me a valuable guerrilla.” One of them was “a knack for putting bullets exactly where I want them to go.”

In 1948, during the Israeli War of Independence, she was seriously injured when an exploding shell took off the top of one of her feet. (It happened on her birthday.)

She wasn’t able to walk again for several months. She had a “brief but intense love affair” with her nurse.

In 1950, a soldier from her kibbutz proposed marriage. Ruth accepted and the couple moved to Paris.

She studied and later taught psychology at the Sorbonne. “Everybody around me didn’t have money,” she said. “We went to cafes and had one cup of coffee all day long. Everybody.”

After five years, her marriage ended and her husband went back to Israel.

Ruth got a restitution check from the West German government for $1,500 and decided to immigrate to the United States with a French boyfriend.

In New York, Ruth gave birth to a baby girl called Miriam. She had married Miriam’s father, a Frenchman, to legalize the pregnancy but decided to divorce him.

She took English lessons and worked as a maid to support herself and her daughter. At the same time, she took evening classes for a master’s degree in sociology.

In 1961, Ruth was on a ski trip to the Catskills with a boyfriend (6'1") when she met Manfred Westheimer, also a Jewish refugee (and more her size: 5'9"). They got married nine months later.

Ruth became an American citizen. She and Manfred had a son called Joel.

In the late 1960s, Ruth took a job at a Planned Parenthood in Harlem. At first she didn’t know what to make of the frank discussions people at the office had about sex, but she soon became comfortable with it.

She became a project director at Planned Parenthood and in the evenings took classes toward a doctorate in family and sex counseling at Columbia University.

In 1980, Ruth gave a lecture to some New York broadcasters about the need for better (and more honest) sex ed programming.

An exec at a station called WYNY was so impressed she offered Ruth a 15-minute slot on the station at midnight on Sundays.

Those 15 minutes evolved into Ruth’s famous hour-long call-in show, Sexually Speaking. They built in a seven-second delay just in case.

The phone lines were jammed during every show. By 1983, Ruth had 250,000 listeners every week, more than many New York stations had during morning drive-time. The next year, the show was syndicated nationally.

Her catchphrase: “Get some.”

Ruth became a household name after appearing on Late Night With David Letterman frequently in the early 1980s and later making appearances on Hollywood Squares.

She has written several books about human sexuality, including Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex and Sex for Dummies.

She says she is old-fashioned about sex: “I don’t believe in hooking up. I don’t believe in sex on the first date. I want people to have a relationship before they have sex. I can’t say how long before. Also, you don’t have to share your fantasies. If you have sex with your partner, and the woman thinks about a whole football team in bed with her, that’s okay, but keep your mouth shut about it.”

Ruth once started a line of low-alcohol wine called “Vin d’amour.” “It wasn’t very successful. It was very sweet.”

An off-Broadway show about her life called Becoming Dr. Ruth opened in October of 2013.

Her husband died in 1997. She has four grandchildren.

In December of 2014, Ruth was a guest at a wedding in the Bronx. The groom, Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt, was the great-grandson of the woman who helped rescue her from Nazi Germany 75 years before.

Previously: Julia Child Facts and Dolly Parton Facts.

Want Everything Changes twice a month in your inbox? Subscribe here.

> Dr. Ruth Facts was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Botany, “Crowd Nothings”

8 hours 14 min ago
That was then. This is now.Photo: Jarod Carruthers

I bet you really appreciated that extra day off, huh? Like, more than you usually appreciate a three-day weekend? It’s because every weekday is a million years long now so by the time you make it to the end of them you are so beaten down that there’s no way two lousy days are going to get you anywhere ready to face down another week come Monday. You will still be feeling last week into next month from now on. If this coming year does nothing else for us — and the odds are that it won’t — it will at least teach us to finally appreciate those brief moments of nothing we are given (before all that we are given is one moment of nothing that extends out into forever). Anyway, welcome back. Here’s some controlled weirdness from Botany. Enjoy.

https://medium.com/media/a4c4ad7b6f910f26229c43519c7b3c62/href

Botany, “Crowd Nothings” was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

New York City, January 12, 2017

Fri, 2017-01-13 17:55

★ “This right here is a tiny bit disgusting weather,” the five-year-old said, trudging through the damp false spring. If it was still winter, he’d asked, why was it getting warm again? Later there would be big raindrops, falling from a sky of ever-increasing blue, landing with individual taps on a waterproof sleeve or coffee lid. The dripping sustained itself for blocks of walking, and then full sun arrived to match, if not to justify, the warmth.

New York City, January 12, 2017 was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dreams Deferred, Dreams Denied

Fri, 2017-01-13 17:02
What if the universe doesn’t even have an arc to bend?Photo: josef.stuefer

It will one day seem stunning that the right tried to turn Barack Obama into some sort of Stalin when he was in almost every sense — refusing to help labor unions improve their ability to organize, granting the insurance industry unprecedented federal gifts, allowing banks to remain as private institutions when there was a compelling case to nationalize them and bailing out Wall Street to such an extent that Republicans were able to profit from the resulting discontent — corporate capitalism’s greatest handmaiden during its darkest hour. Will the next Democratic president be so conciliatory to a system that will take everything offered and then actively campaign against its savior? Hahaha, there’s never going to be a Democratic president again, and even if one somehow slips through that person will be the same sort of conciliatory centrist who continues the cycle where the Republicans burn everything to the ground and the Democrats expend all their capital trying merely to restore things to the previous poor position the country was in.

But can democracy even work in a capitalist society, particularly one with deep racial divisions?

We are finding out that racism is not simply a product of ignorance, prejudice or arrogance; it endures, despite all our cautionary tales and resolves of “never again”, because its promise of social solidarity serves to assuage human fears and nurture hopes for the future…. Bill Clinton surpassed Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes in condemning African Americans to mass incarceration and poverty while deregulating financial markets for the benefit of his patrons on Wall Street. The rhetoric and actions of Trump’s cabinet, the wealthiest and most fanatical yet, will no doubt clarify further the inhuman practices that drive a politics and economy ostensibly devoted to human freedom. Those who oppose them should welcome this clarity. It has taken too long for the ellipses, omissions and subterfuges in the American — and now universal — promise of liberty to be widely noticed.

That’s Pankaj Mishra, whose forthcoming Age of Anger is on almost everyone’s must-read list for 2017. He is perhaps more optimistic about the benefits of clarity — there is a compelling counterargument to be made that most people will simply stare at their phones while the bad things happen in the background — than the situation merits, but it’s provocative reading, in the best sense of that word.

The Divided States: Trump's inauguration and how democracy has failed

Dreams Deferred, Dreams Denied was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

What’s The Name Of That Lady?

Fri, 2017-01-13 16:24
You know the oneYouTube

balk [4:08 PM]
what;s the name of that lady

[4:08]
who was a kid actress

[4:08]
and is now an adult actress

[4:08]
something with a g?

mikedang [4:08 PM]
Drew Barrymore

kelly [4:08 PM]
Anna Chlumsky

balk [4:09 PM]
ugh

christinefriar [4:09 PM]
geena davis

kelly [4:09 PM]
George Lopez

christinefriar [4:10 PM]
gina gershon

kelly [4:10 PM]
oh!

[4:10]
gg allin

christinefriar [4:10 PM]
gina rodriguez

mikedang [4:10 PM]
Gilmore Girls

balk [4:10 PM]
this is gonna drive me fucking crazy

christinefriar [4:11 PM]
gigi hadid

balk [4:11 PM]
AH HA

[4:11]
gaby hoffman

christinefriar [4:11 PM]
mmm

kelly [4:11 PM]
oh right

christinefriar [4:11 PM]
we would have gotten there

What’s The Name Of That Lady? was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Things I Read This Week and Liked

Fri, 2017-01-13 15:57
Friday reading roundupFlickrThe moment was so great in magnitude that it even made Beyoncé weak in the knees. As Barack Obama, donning a perfectly tailored white-tie tuxedo, shared his first dance as 44th President of the United States with his wife Michelle at the 2009 Inaugural Ball, the country’s most celebrated pop star stood feet away, serenading the First Couple with Etta James’ “At Last.” Over her career, Beyoncé had become famous for her bombastic, unrestrained exploration of the stage, but in this moment, Queen Bey was just a girl, standing in reverence, with the humility of a high school student who had won a contest to be there. In an interview afterwards, through tears, she described performing for the first black President as “the most important day” of her life. It was the type of moment Donald Trump desperately wishes he could capture for himself, but never will, because he is a fucking loser.

Donald Trump, a Tremendous Loser, Has No Famous Friends, Sad! - Noisey

Roman Catholic clergy have also worn them for roughly one billion years — their pom-pom hats are called birettas — and the colors of the hat and pom-pom tell you what type of guy they are: Cardinals wear red birettas; bishops wear violet; priests, deacons, and seminarians wear black. Oh, my god. Are you bored? Seamen from the 18th century also wore knit caps with pom-poms on them!What an incredible history that we have learned thoroughly.

Why do we all have balls on our hats?

There’s no way to succeed without having a team and all of the moving parts that help bring it into life. But I do have — and I’m unafraid to say it — a very distinctive, clear vision of how I want to present myself and my body and my voice and my perspective. And who better to really tell that story than yourself?

Solange

He is no longer what he started out as on the talk show, the kind of person who could ask the question we wanted answered (like: Jacqueline, why would you sit on that woman’s lap after she threatened to “rage on your ass”?). Now he’s one of the famous people.

Living in Andy Cohen's America

She had a McNugget in her hand, a gun to her head, and no fear in her heart.

Attempted McNugget thief busted for pulling gun on classmate

When I asked Kyle about the Rhoden Massacre, he said, “No one cares about white trash.” He said I was there to cover “old news,” and suggested I write about something important, like his deer farm — “a farm where I raise deer and guys pay me to come shoot them — what are you, fucking retarded? You don’t know what a deer farm is?”“Write about my dick,” he said.

Murder on Union Hill Road | Hazlitt

Mm, clicky: The iPhone was announced 10 years ago, here’s how people on Twitter (men) reacted (funnily) | Diet Coke is not killing you | There’s a documentary about WFMU on Netflix | How San Francisco’s drag scene is changing

Things I Read This Week and Liked was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Leif Vollebekk, “Into the Ether”

Fri, 2017-01-13 15:12
What are you smiling about?Photo: russellstreet

I’m still not all the way sold on this one — the lyrics can be a bit much (although I tend to feel that way about almost all lyrics; it is best to just hear them as valueless sounds) — but if you are looking for something to be sad about that is unrelated to all the obvious candidates on offer these days the vibe here is exactly what you’re looking for. Do with it as you will.

https://medium.com/media/d2fd56babd433c6491cd61f6f104e1e3/href

Leif Vollebekk, “Into the Ether” was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

What Your Voice Really Sounds Like

Fri, 2017-01-13 13:22
It’s different, right? But why?Photo: Steve Snodgrass

Here’s how your voice sounds in your head when you say something out loud:

“Brilliant! Genius! Smart smart smart! So important! No one would fail to be convinced by what I’m saying!”

Here’s how your voice sounds to other people when you say something out loud:

“Listen to how brilliant I am! I think I’m such a genius! Have I ever told you that I’m smart smart smart? You can really tell that I am sure I’m so important! Even though it’s pretty clear my opinions are no better than anyone else’s I am somehow under the impression that no one would fail to be convinced by what I’m saying!”

Why is that? Fuck if I know. Maybe this will help.

Why Do Our Recorded Voices Sound Weird to Us?

What Your Voice Really Sounds Like was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Best Forgotten: ‘Real Life’ by Marsha Hunt (1986)

Fri, 2017-01-13 12:18
Mick Jagger’s first and best baby mama

You’ve read about Mick Jagger’s most recent feat of paternity — in December he signed for baby number eight, with mother number five — so you’ve seen the name Marsha Hunt: a news story can’t inventory Jagger’s children without it. Hunt is the mother of Jagger’s first child, Karis, who was born in November of 1970, having gestated for a period roughly as long as her parents harbored affection for each other.

In articles I’ve read over the years, Hunt has always presented as self-possessed and disinterested in dwelling on her stratospherically famous onetime paramour. Still, because her name is forever reproductively linked with his, it’s been hard not to draw the conclusion that having Mick Jagger’s baby amounted to a career move. Recently, I tested this idea by tracking down and reading Hunt’s two out-of-print memoirs — 1986’s Real Life and 2005’s Undefeated — and I’ve reached a new conclusion: for Hunt, having Mick Jagger’s baby was probably a career dampener.

In 1966, the Philadelphia-born Hunt’s restless spirit lured her from her studies at Berkeley to London, then fully swinging; she never again called the United States home. “American politics and its class system, better known as racism, had shaped and limited my life and future in ways that I couldn’t know or fully comprehend until I was outside it,” she writes in Undefeated. “When I arrived in London…my nationality became my identity, and the Negro label took a back seat.”

Not that being an American black woman in London at that time didn’t have a certain cachet: “Motown was the sound of the day, and anybody looking and talking vaguely like a Supreme was considered gorgeous,” Hunt writes. In 1968 she landed a modest role in the London production of the Broadway smash Hair; six months later, she signed a record contract.

https://medium.com/media/d93d50435238150b251e007ec277f084/href

In Hair, Hunt sang a Supremes parody called “White Boys” backed by two West Indian women, and the white boys did come calling. Hunt briefly romanced Marc Bolan, when Tyrannosaurus Rex was just becoming T. Rex, and, nudged by her producer, recorded a couple of his songs. After scoring a minor hit with her debut single, Dr. John’s “Walk on Gilded Splinters,” she was contacted on Jagger’s behalf to find out if she would pose in a slutty getup for a publicity photo for the Rolling Stones’ forthcoming single, “Honky Tonk Women.”

Jagger had picked the wrong beautiful black woman. Hunt writes in Real Life, “The last thing we needed was for me to denigrate us by dressing up like a whore among a band of white renegades, which was an underlying element of the Stones’ image.” Hunt’s no to Jagger’s people inspired a phone call from Jagger, who paid her a visit that evening. She writes of their ensuing relationship in levelheaded terms — “We were not so much lovers as friends. There were no silly cat-and-mouse games” — and indicates that she wanted nothing in particular from him: “I needed my own independence and didn’t expect him to relinquish his.” She wasn’t even a Stones fan.

Meanwhile, Jagger was sufficiently besotted with Hunt to write “Brown Sugar” about her. She suspected he appreciated that she wasn’t into drugs, unlike his for-the-most-part girlfriend, the angelically opiated Marianne Faithfull. Hunt didn’t get too caught up in Jagger’s world: “I always feared that my association with him would crowd out my own identity. I never wanted to be known as Mick Jagger’s girlfriend.”

Well, she tried. But make no mistake: it was Jagger who proposed that they have a baby together. Hunt’s inkling concerning his motivation sounds just right, especially given subsequent media accounts of the long-standing Jagger-Richards rivalry: “Marianne had miscarried the baby that they would have had around the time that Keith Richard’s [sic] son Marlon was born. It was understandable that he considered having a second try.”

For Hunt, having a baby meshed with the day’s starry-eyed delusion that achieving happiness was a simple matter of letting the sunshine in: “I didn’t really expect it to change my life in any way. I was making money and had a lovely home. My prospects were excellent, and I was sure they’d continue to be so.” She and Jagger wouldn’t live together. As for his role in their child’s life: “We were supposed to be the sophisticated embodiment of an alternative social ideal — parenthood shared between loving friends living separate lives.” That’s hippiespeak for, “Mick and I made no financial arrangements regarding the support of our shared offspring.”

After Karis was born, Hunt scooped up pretty much any job that bounced her way, and not just music gigs: she modeled, acted in the dodgy English horror movie Dracula A.D. 1972, and did a soft drink commercial in Germany. The last was embarrassing, yes, but better than selling her story to the tabloids, and better than asking Jagger for a loan, as she had to do more than once.

Hunt made money on the road, and in 1972, while she and her backing band were on a German tour on which she had brought along Karis and a nanny, the toddler spilled hot tea all over herself. Hunt insisted on an immediate return to England, where she felt that Karis would get better medical care. This meant canceled gigs, which meant less income and less exposure to potential new fans. Hunt asked Jagger to spring for half of Karis’s hospital bill; the money never arrived. Despite the “sordid connotations” of a paternity suit, Hunt went for it: “After two years, I had to stop pretending that he would assume his duty.”

When the story went public, Hunt found herself something of a social pariah: “I went from being tagged ‘the girl from Hair’ to ‘the girl who sued Mick Jagger.’” She writes that she sensed a chill in the air when she interacted with shop people and the parents of Karis’s classmates. Hunt hadn’t tried to hitch a ride on a rock star, but if she had, her reputation would have scarcely emerged more sullied.

The paternity suit wasn’t resolved until 1979, when Jagger was told to provide Hunt with an annual settlement for Karis as well as a trust so that the girl wouldn’t be destitute if her mother suddenly dropped dead. Hunt personally received no money — fine by her — but everyone thought she had made off with a mint.

https://medium.com/media/5729a6e3fe39d378da47f6c438835902/href

At the time the suit was resolved, Hunt was staying in Los Angeles, trying to find a distributor for a record she had made in Germany; to keep financially afloat she did housekeeping for friends while Karis was at school. When nothing happened in L.A., Hunt quit the music business, having promised herself that this would be her last go, since, as she wrote in perhaps the least diva-ish sentence in the entire world, “Music was only acceptable as a career if it could provide us with an income.”

Hunt redirected her creative energies to acting and writing. She has since published well-received novels centered on the African-American experience and an absorbing book about rescuing her long-presumed-dead grandmother from a U.S. nursing home. But the standout is Real Life. It’s flawed — it loses its bearings toward the end — but it’s an uncommonly clear-sighted account of the music scene of the 1960s and 1970s as witnessed by an inside-outsider disinclined to do anything that was expected of her. The book also reinforces an idea that I’ve long found to be true: a story about almost making it is usually more interesting than a success story.

https://medium.com/media/fdf71b552bfd084479e615174aa29751/href

At the end of Real Life, Hunt refers to her “charmed life,” but a reader may reasonably wonder, How so? Among Hunt’s disappointments: she blew a couple of film auditions, including one for Sidney Poitier, maybe because she was holding the script in one hand and Karis in her other arm; record contracts came and went or were not quite signed (“Managers and record-company people that I spoke to weren’t at all prepared in 1980 to accept that a [black] woman could find a market doing rock, which was considered white music”); and Richard Branson yanked funding for a musical she wrote because the London press said mean things about the dress rehearsal.

The “charmed” part of Hunt’s life, then, is presumably having had Karis, who surely, like every kid, couldn’t help but divert her parent’s attention from her work, deprive her of sleep now and then, interrupt her creative bursts, and so on. What stymied Hunt’s musical ambitions may have been not just a tarnished reputation and the business’s assumptions about black female singers but the fact that Karis was never not the first thing on Hunt’s — and only Hunt’s — mind.

A pulsebeat in Undefeated, which chronicles Hunt’s experience with breast cancer, is her anxiety about completing a book she’s been writing about Jimi Hendrix, who had been, like her, a black American in Britain in the late 1960s. She tells the reader that she doesn’t have a publisher, and at this writing I can find no evidence online that she has found one. If her Hendrix book comes out, may it get more column inches than news of the next Jagger baby.

Nell Beram is coauthor of Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies and a former Atlantic Monthly staff editor. She writes occasional Best Forgotten columns for The Awl.

Best Forgotten: ‘Real Life’ by Marsha Hunt (1986) was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Which 2017 NFL Playoff Quarterback is Most Elite?

Fri, 2017-01-13 11:59
A thorough examination of football’s most auspicious players.Image: Ryan McDonoughAs an adjective, the word “elite” still conveys something positive, even aspirational: elite athlete, elite model, elite travel services. But as a noun, embodied by actual living people, it has become one of the nastiest epithets in American politics.” — The New York Times MagazineJoe Flacco is Not Elite. — The Washington PostNFCDak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys):

Dak Prescott is built like the heavy machinery working-class white people operate for a living, which is the opposite of elite. But maybe he’s so adept at what he does, he is one of those machines that requires skilled labor—labor that’s not readily available in counties that voted for Barack Obama twice but then flipped to Trump because let’s just blow up the system instead of change jobs.

Moreover, Dak’s name, Dak Prescott, makes him sound like old money, like someone who will eventually have access to, and conflicts because of, emoluments. If Dak hadn’t become an elite quarterback, he could’ve done whatever the hell he pleased. Maybe his grandfather, who probably worked for the first Bush or was the first Bush, could get him a job trading securities or at the Today show or maybe Dak would just bartend and fuck around while living comfortably off his blind trust.

Many people argue that Dak is successful because the Dallas Cowboys offensive line is so awesome. Slot any quarterback, minus Tony Romo, behind that line, and the Cowboys are still 14–2. That’s fine. That doesn’t mean Dak isn’t elite. Elites are always protected. They always have more time to make decisions, more time to recover from mistakes and more time to feed the ball to Ezekiel Elliot. Dak is elite.

Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks):

Russell Wilson thanks God too much to be a true elite. Elites only thank their agents or their lawyers or other people who they hire to make them more money.

Russell Wilson used to play baseball, and kind of implies he would go play again if anything ever happened to his absurdly successful football career. At one time baseball was elite but now it’s just for immigrants and professors at small liberal arts colleges and kids who are comfortable with distant dads. Russell Wilson is none of these things. And so he must play baseball because he actually loves it. Loving what you do is elite. (That’s counterintuitive because elites also love to complain about what they do.)

Russell Wilson never complains about anything. He and his coach Pete Carroll are so upbeat. All they do is talk about how they visualize success and then express gratitude after the success occurs. Once in a while they’ll discuss vaccines and how they probably cause autism? But then Richard Sherman will shout from across the field house, “Russell, if I hear you denying the scientific truth of immune theory one more time, I will consider you less smart.” Richard Sherman does not consider Russell Wilson smart, but as an elite himself, he knows that sometimes it’s better to let people think you think they’re smart. It’s called “the bubble.”

Russell Wilson is also average height and hangs out with the creator of Entourage. Neither is elite.

Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons):

Matt Ryan attended Boston College, a Catholic school. Catholics are obviously not elite. Catholics are civil servants. The one time a Catholic became president, that president was assassinated by a non-Catholic.

The reason Catholics are not elite is they always figure someone is watching them, and so they act accordingly. Because the world is theirs, elites do whatever they want, at all times, unless what they want to do is eat at a franchise restaurant.

It’s easy to imagine Matt Ryan tapping on the hand dryer before he enters a bathroom stall, because he is too ashamed to be heard. Can you imagine Morning Joe, who is an elite, ever doing that? No. He is using the bathroom, and possibly watching porn on his phone, with the sound on, and definitely unrolling toilet paper so raucously that anyone even passing by in the hallway can hear what he is doing. Elites do not care if anyone is listening or watching or hacking. It’s why Hillary hid a server that could be hacked in her Chappaqua basement. Just kidding! Bill advised her to do that and he is trash (but disguised as elite).

Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers):

Sometimes, during his Sunday Night Football introduction, Aaron Rodgers says that he graduated from Butte Community College. While this is true, it’s not the full story. Rodgers also attended Cal, an elite school, and you’d presume he’d be thrilled to always announce that, because elites love bragging about where they went to school. But don’t forget: the only thing elites love more than where they went to school is irony. Aaron Rodgers is extremely elite because he is willing to say he went to Butte instead of Cal, all for the sake of an ironic smirk.

Earlier this season the Green Bay Packers, and Aaron Rodgers specifically, were slumping. Some people, myself included, speculated that Rodgers was playing poorly because he was not speaking to his parents. Elites speak to their parents, basically, daily. Even distant dads who love baseball still speak to their elite children, even if it’s through the child’s mother or other primary caregiver.

Rodgers predicted to some reporter that his team would “run the table” on the rest of the season. How are you going to do that when you’re not speaking to your parents? Here’s the thing though. The Packers did frigging run the table. Making good on an insane prediction is very elite. Have you ever read or watched The Big Short? Elites worship counterintuitive prognosticators even at the expense of global financial systems.

Aaron Rodgers is also dating Olivia Munn, and they probably cried together when Hillary lost. Why couldn’t we run the table for Hillary, Olivia Munn asked Aaron Rodgers, as he texted his parents, I’m sorry I’ve been a dick.

AFCBrock Osweiler (Houston Texans):

Brock Osweiler, a terrible quarterback, convinced a professional football team to pay him a truckload of money to be good at quarterbacking, something they didn’t really have a ton of proof he could be good at. Convincing people to act against their self-interest is elite.

Brock Osweiler was born in Idaho and grew up in Montana, scenic but not elite. And he played college football for Arizona State. Also not elite but he probably had a fun time, more fun than he would’ve had at Stanford where he could’ve gone, on scholarship. Sasha Obama will eventually make the same decision Brock Osweiler did and only then will we recognize ASU over Stanford as elite decision making. Good for you, Brock Osweiler. Sasha Obama is going to have a blast.

Ben Rothliesberger (Pittsburgh Steelers):

Big Ben is trash like Bill Clinton. His teammate Antonio Brown, however, is a god. So much so that Russell Wilson should thank AB, and not his own God, every time the Seahawks score.

Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs):

Alex Smith was first in his draft class, picked ahead of even Aaron Rodgers, and being valedictorian, even when Aaron Rodgers is the salutatorian, is elite. The San Francisco 49ers, now trash, used to be an elite team, with multiple championship titles, but when they picked Alex Smith, they were rebuilding, which is what elites say they are doing when they are failing.

Alex Smith is a game manager, a professional. Insert him into your offensive scheme and he will perform competently. He led the 49ers as far as he could, until Jim Harbaugh benched him in favor of Colin Kaepernick. This was before Colin Kaepernick knelt during the playing of the National Anthem and alienated himself from some elites and most non-elites.

But Alex Smith joined the Kansas City Chiefs, and with Coach Andy Reid, they’ve regularly appeared in the early rounds of the playoffs. Resilience can be an elite quality assuming Alex Smith has learned to be resilient not through prayer but via Tim Ferris podcasts.

Tom Brady (New England Patriots):

Of course Tom Brady is elite. He attended Michigan, which is like if the 92nd Street Y also had a football stadium where Jim Harbaugh worked. Kids at Michigan walk around with t-shirts that say “Harvard: the Michigan of the East.” Can you imagine being so self-aware and so self-deprecating and simultaneously so arrogant? That’s the trifecta of elitism, and Tom Brady embodies it.

Trolls, especially in Buffalo where I live, like to mock Tom Brady for endorsing and wearing Uggs. But I’ve only ever seen him wear the Uggs slippers, and wearing slippers—particularly outside in the wintertime, like running to Latin class from your boarding school dorm in New England—is very elite. The boys from the Dead Poets Society, for instance, would absolutely wear slippers if the movie were set today. Instead of sucking the marrow out of life, and seizing the day, they’d ironically wear indoor shoes outside, in the middle of January, and stare at their phones, Venmoing each other money for the anxiety medicine they bum from each other. That’s because, as elites, they love irony as much as they hate anxiety. Besides, Tom Brady wears Uggs because Uggs pays him to do so, and making money is always elite.

It is possible Tom Brady voted for Donald Trump. He never really said, one way or the other, as far as I can tell. Gisele seemed to get pissed he wouldn’t deny voting for Donald Trump, and if you’re not vehemently denying you voted for Donald Trump, you’re basically a troll from Buffalo, or worse, an Iowa farmer who refuses to learn to operate a Dak Prescott. Neither is very elite. But he’s won four Super Bowls and unfortunately is about to win a fifth, now that Eli has been eliminated, and even if he couldn’t have done any of it without Bill Belichick, when have elites ever refused help from people smarter or more evil than they are?

Which 2017 NFL Playoff Quarterback is Most Elite? was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Telling The Bees

Fri, 2017-01-13 10:32
Talk to the hive before it’s gone.Flickr

This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the rusty patched bumblebee to the endangered species list. It marked the first time that both a bumblebee and any bee species at all has received that designation in the continental U.S.—in other words, the hive collapse mania you’ve been reading about these past few years is finally reaching a point where the government is intervening. “The bees,” they essentially said this week, “are dying way too fast.”

U.S. Puts Bumblebee On The Endangered Species List For 1st Time

Being listed as endangered grants the species “protected status,” which will go into effect February 10. That status includes requirements for actions like federal protection and the development of a recovery plan, and it also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funding.

Anyway, all of this sent me down a bee Wiki k-hole and delivered me to a custom called Telling the Bees that I just think is so nice. Historically, beekeepers give life updates to their bees and then read the behavior of the hive in the weeks afterward as a sort of omen. Neglecting to update your bees about your goings-on is said to potentially result in hive abandonment. So even if I don’t have anything as major as a wedding or a death to report on, whispering, “I have seen both episodes of The Bachelor this season,” might still be an extension of the custom. Had I not chatted with my bees, after all, they might get offended and stop waiting around for me to talk to them. Look:

The telling of the bees is a traditional European custom, in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper’s lives, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns in the household. If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not “put into mourning” then it was believed a penalty would be paid, such as the bees might leave their hive, stop producing honey, or die.[1] The custom has been most widely noted in England but also recorded in Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and the United States.[2][3][4][5][6]

So if you live in the rusty patched bumblebee’s remaining habitat, try talking to them every once in a while. They might just miss you.

Telling The Bees was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Anjou, “Soucouyant”

Fri, 2017-01-13 10:08
It will have to be the little things from now on.Photo: Moose Winans

It’s Friday, you made it, it’s a long weekend. We don’t need to belabor what comes after. It’s Friday. You made it. It’s a long weekend. Let that be enough.

Here’s eleven minutes of semi-ambient music with lightly menacing undertones. Will it help? Who knows? But lightly menacing is so much better than the level of menacing you are used to these days that it can’t hurt. Enjoy.

https://medium.com/media/1a1cbe33ecb7176fca9ebb4ec0203cd2/href

Anjou, “Soucouyant” was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

New York City, January 11, 2017

Thu, 2017-01-12 18:14

★★★ The rain had passed overnight, and the morning was well on its way to drying out. A greasy dampness still clung to the tiles of the subway station, though. Grabbing the parka had seemed easier than thinking about what else to grab, but it was a mistake. On a fresh-air break, it was possible to pull the supplemental hoodie out of it and use that alone. The people passing on Fifth Avenue had no clear consensus on what to do with their down or their furry ruffs.

New York City, January 11, 2017 was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Alienation and Freedom

Thu, 2017-01-12 16:40
The life and work of Frantz FanonImage: “The Healers: Frantz Fanon,” 2009, Rudy Shepherd

If you’re reading this there’s a decent chance you have read Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth or know that you should have done and feel bad about not getting around to it yet. Good news: An unread classic is an occasion for joy, not shame, since it represents a fresh opportunity to be moved by a work of profound genius. Anyway, this lengthy piece by Adam Shatz, pegged to a new assemblage of Fanon’s previously uncollected pieces, functions as both potted biography and intellectual introduction and is a good place to start if you are about to work your way up to Wretched and a great refresher course if the passage of time has somewhat dimmed your recollection.

LRB · Adam Shatz · Where Life Is Seized: Frantz Fanon's Revolution

Alienation and Freedom was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.