Entries on Fridays
There are many things to enjoy and think about in Tamara Shopsin's Arbitrary Stupid Goal, a memoir of family and friendships and neighborhood characters and places in a not-so-long-ago New York City that sounds as if it mostly doesn't exist anymore or won't soon. I enjoyed it and perhaps you will too.
But I also want to say that something I especially liked about the copy I borrowed from the library was how whoever put the mylar jacket on it, played with the already cool duotone design to make it even more fun than it already was. Well done, Pima County.
Serena Joy, what a stupid name. It’s like something you’d put on your hair, in the other time, the time before, to straighten it. Serena Joy, it would say on the bottle, with a woman’s head in cut-paper silhouette on a pink oval background with scalloped gold edges. With everything to choose from in the way of names, why did she pick that one? Serena Joy was never her real name, not even then. Her real name was Pam. I read that in a profile on her, in a news magazine, long after I’d first watched her singing while my mother slept in on Sunday mornings. By that time she was worthy of a profile: Time or Newsweek it was, it must have been. She wasn’t singing any more by then, she was making speeches. She was good at it. Her speeches were about the sanctity of the home, about how women should stay home. Serena Joy didn’t do this herself, she made speeches instead, but she presented this failure of hers as a sacrifice she was making for the good of all.
Around that time, someone tried to shoot her and missed; her secretary, who was standing right behind her, was killed instead. Someone else planted a bomb in her car but it went off too early. Though some people said she’d put the bomb in her own car, for sympathy. That’s how hot things were getting.
Luke and I would watch her sometimes on the late-night news. Bathrobes, nightcaps. We’d watch her sprayed hair and her hysteria, and the tears she could still produce at will, and the mascara blackening her cheeks. By that time she was wearing more makeup. We thought she was funny. Or Luke thought she was funny. I only pretended to think so. Really she was a little frightening. She was in earnest.
She doesn’t make speeches any more. She has become speechless. She stays in her home, but it doesn’t seem to agree with her. How furious she must be, now that she’s been taken at her word.
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
The thing you’ve got to understand is that I grew up being marketed to, so there aren’t many advertising tricks that work on me. Seriously. Ever since I was a child, companies have been telling me to buy, buy, buy—making me think, on some subconscious level, that my needs are the only ones that matter. And I believed it all. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how lonely this had made me, and that mere accumulation doesn’t lead to happiness. I finally understood that no company or product or advertising slogan could provide the companionship I needed. But it was too late. Decades of being told what to buy—and what to feel, and how to think—had left me numb. I carry that numbness everywhere now; I fear that it will never leave me. So, anyway. Maybe write a funny jingle about that?
River Clegg: How to Market to Me
The Shape of Water. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. 2017
I can’t remember the last time I forgot everything else going on in the world at a movie. I loved this.
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography. Dir. Errol Morris. 2016
If you're a kind of a "Oh, this'll be the same forever" person... or if you're a photographer and you're always nailing down what's the now... when you realize it doesn't matter how much you try to nail down the now, the now is racing beyond you.
— Elsa Dorfman
On my way home from work last night I bought some of that new bread I am embarrassed about liking at the Co-Op on Fourth Avenue. The bread has about two dozen different grains and seeds in it, is a bit sweet, and the bag has a caricature of the long-haired, moustached company founder — who looks like he could be an ex-convict — playing guitar with his big muscles.
I think about how exciting this bag of bread would have been to me when I was experiencing puberty. Perhaps I would have made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with it to eat while watching Midnight Express.
It turns out the founder is an ex-convict who got out of prison, perfected his bread recipe, and began speaking motivationally. Afterward, he could buy all the guitars he wanted and cars to drive them around in.
What's my point? Oh, right. Since Tiny Town Gallery is a couple doors down from the Co-Op and I'd read on the internet that Issue 2 of the Tiny Town Times, the risograph quarterly the gallery publishes with Tanline Printing, is available — Hurrah! — I stopped in and picked up a copy, which is free. Full disclosure: I say so not because I know it's free, but only because they didn't try to stop me when I walked out of the store without paying for it.