It’s another Pleasant Valley Sunday, another day for you and me in paradise. Oh, look twice at this sloppy outburst of literary feminist navelgazing commissioned across the street from the Port Authority. Or, better yet, don’t look even once; it’s pretty dreadful. TL;DR: A chronic international student asks why it’s okay for men to wander vagrantly around the great (read: not totally dangerous) cities of the world when women are sometimes treated like common whores for doing likewise, and why the feminine version of the French masculine word for parasitical walkabout traditionally connotes sitting on ass like a proper lady, discovering in the course of her research that certain literary women before her did, in fact, partake of the Hemingway-on-the-loose shit, and incidentally some stuff about the existence of local working classes hidden in plain sight in the Beautiful Cookbook tableau of city life.
Alternate working title: Everybody’s Gone Swerfin’, Swerfin’ USA. Working girls, construed to also include laundresses and produce hawkers, were supposedly accorded the liberty to go out on the streets with whatever they were selling, while women who were evidently useless, but not their male counterparts, were not given the same street passes. The NYT being the NYT, there’s no ready way to tease the sexy sexual politics apart from the unsexy class politics, but this is no social science, it’s just another sticky day of literary horseshit for you. Yes, that was bad, but have you read the link yet? I still haven’t read it through, mainly because it sucks. Think about better uses of $27.00 plus applicable tax for ownership of a copy of this:
Following Elkin as she explores the city, we inch into memoir territory. Although she is a native of New York, she makes her first acquaintance with aimless urban walking in France. To her, the streets of Paris “seemed saturated with presence, even if there was no one there but me. These were places where something could happen, or had happened, or both, a feeling I could never have had at home in New York, where life is inflected with the future tense.”
Jesus Christ, Caulfield. At least she isn’t spending so much on cabfare. It’s fascinating to learn that New York City, whose history I’ve studied, doesn’t have one. 27 divided by 140/200/350/600/20/whatever=do your own damn math and you, too, can figure out how close the money you didn’t spend on that stupid book could get you to being able to hire your next honey. I decided not to exclude blow-and-go from thick, and I do mean thick, bitches in Over-the-Rhine, as portrayed on Police Women of Cincinnati. Maybe I should have, and by “maybe,” I mean “absolutely.” You’re welcome. Cincinnati is a famous city, too. Jerry Springer was once its mayor. Some redneck dipshits hollered vaguely aggressive abuse at me from their truck while I was walking around Newport (maybe Covington?), every bit as much on my own as these lit chicks. When school was dismissed, I got to hear a dirty white boy telling his eight-year-oldish daughter, “Daddy thought he was gonna have to go to jail today, but I told the judge, fuck that shit!” This was his response to hearing from the crossing guard, a kindly redneck lady growing old before her time, that his daughter had done really well on her most recent test and that he’d be proud of her for that. Should I write a book about any of this? No, that’s the wrong question. I could bang out something presentable and more or less coherent in a matter of days, but if I did, would I have a snowball’s chance on Diamond Head of getting it plugged in the NYT Book Review?
The most insightful take I’ve ever heard on The Catcher in the Rye was from some high school students in the South Bronx, who were floored that Holden Caulfield was so discontented when he had the privilege of being able to fuck around the nice parts of Manhattan in a taxi all day. Like, doesn’t that fool have to work? If he’s so privileged, why is he so unhappy? Aside from the litany of ways that the privileged sabotage their own psychic wellbeing and that of their dependents (let’s turn Big Ears Teddy around; he shouldn’t have to see that, either), these kids were right. If an overrated novel was going to inspire Mark David Chapman to off John Lennon, that was at least a fitting enough one. Mr. Lennon, most recently of New York, is certainly no longer inflected with the future tense.
I’ve bought day passes and gone joyriding on RTC to see if anything interesting was happening at the Reno Airport, largely because I couldn’t figure out what the hell else I was in a position to do with my week. Where’s my New York Times book review? More to the point, what’s the buy-in price on that scene? I have a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts from a regionally prestigious private college in the Northeast, and my network is fucking useless. What’s the source of the money that keeps these bitches wandering around Paris with no visible means of support? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s on an allowance. If I’m not mistaken, Reno is cheaper than Paris. I submit that these broads have access to capital. I personally know a woman who, for reasons not fully explained to me, has the means to frequently travel between the West Coast, expensive expat parts of Mexico, and Morocco, and, as far as I can tell, to do so without sleeping in doorways. She’s on the lit scene, too. I’m pretty sure JetBlue isn’t offering $84 specials to Casablanca.
According to the Emily Bailout story, the buy-in for a graduate sinecure at Alma Mater, Tried and True was Noble $50,000, payable upfront. My understanding is that Emily Bailout doesn’t even have a talent for writing overwrought Paris, Je T’aime bullshit. Whom am I failing to pay off for a damn job?
The most disgusting thing about this is the expectation that everyone agree with the proposition that the Times is a left-wing paper. It’s actually a mishmash of cultural limousine liberalism and reaction in crypsis that makes John Lindsay at his worst look like Richard Nixon at his best. There are reasons why Jacobin doesn’t have its own office tower on Eighth Avenue. Or, for that matter, its own postmodernist recreation of a Soviet secret police headquarters within walking distance of the White House. Democracy Dies in Darkness, after all, and the NYT and the WaPo, full as they are with spooks, know a thing or two about the dark side.