Saturday, December 31, 2016

Don Paterson, "Wave"

For months I’d moved across the open water
like a wheel under its skin, a frictionless
and by then almost wholly abstract matter
with nothing in my head beyond the bliss
of my own breaking: how the long foreshore
would hear my full confession, and I’d drain
into the shale till I was filtered pure.
There was no way to tell on that bare plain
but I felt my power run down with the miles
and by the time I saw the scattered sails,
the painted front and children on the pier
I was no more than a fold in her blue gown
and knew I was already in the clear.
I hit the beach and swept away the town.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I love you, Ian.

Rest in peace.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Only built for internet linx

I had an pre-election post, and then the election happened, and here we are. I don’t have anything particularly profound to add to the conversation. I’m tired, just like everyone else I know - there’s an endless stream of bad news and hot takes and tweet threads and poor decisions and it’s exhausting. The good news is that the internet is vast - there are other things to read! Here are some of those other things.

1. "We're launching The Outline today, but that's not the end of our work. Actually, it's the start of it. We have ideas about how people will use this product and how an audience will respond to what we put into the world, but we won't really know until you start playing around with this crazy thing we've made. And since a lot of this is unexplored territory, we expect that you'll see some unexpected / unusual results depending on how and where you look. The future is scary and wonderful and weird. Embrace it."

2. Is it rude to recline your seat?

3. I'm not exactly a fan of "Instagram makeup" personally (gradient eyebrows????? hwhy), but I get so annoyed by articles like this one from the New York Times that seem to imply that social media alone is responsible for so much sameness in beauty, as if beauty trends haven't existed for fucking centuries. The article makes some good points, but criticizing social media for its popularization of certain styles seems lazy and maybe even deflective, considering some of the beauty industry's other problems.

4. Speaking of beauty, I enjoy reading critiques of Glossier’s vaguely Gallic “cool girl” ethos/marketing style for a number of reasons, one of which being that I always thought it was sus of them to elicit market research on their website in such a middle school slumber party “we’re all friends here!” kind of way with no compensation for those involved except, I guess, another fucking moisturizer to buy. It is no surprise to me, then, that Glossier seems to still be asking for shit for free, this time in the form of blog posts mentioning their products, the reward being that you get to signal to others that you, too, are part of the cool girl club, I guess. Marketing’s marketing and brands are going to try to hook you one way or another, but I do think it’s important to stay critical of the ways that they do, especially when they position themselves as some sort of BFF feminist empowerment cheerleader or whatever - remember Jia Tolentino’s NYT article from earlier this year? Commodified empowerment is tricky - even those selling it may not even be buying it, something made apparent with Lil Kim’s ever-changing face and body and the low self-esteem that seems to fuel it. I guess this is just a long-winded word of warning: BFF brands will not and can not do the work of making your body and/or the world a less horrifying thing to inhabit better than any other brand can which is, like, fine, I guess. Just so you know.

5. Other things I enjoy: dragging nerds!!! Here’s Om Malik on Silicon Valley’s empathy problem.

6. “Just across the bay from San Francisco, one of Alameda County's deputy public defenders, Jeff Chorney, says that since the county switched from a decades-old computer system to Odyssey in August, dozens of defendants have been wrongly arrested or jailed. Others have even been forced to register as sex offenders unnecessarily. “I understand that with every piece of technology, bugs have to be worked out,” he said, practically exasperated. “But we're not talking about whether people are getting their paychecks on time. We're talking about people being locked in cages, that's what jail is. It's taking a person and locking them in a cage.”

7. Social media and sex work.

8. The rise and fall of Ted Ngoy, the former doughnut king of Southern California, featuring photos by Stephanie Gonot, one of my favorite commercial photographers.

9. I’ve retired from being annoying about music but when I first got started as a teen I spent countless late-night hours trawling AllMusic - this site and long-defunct Pulse! (Tower Records’ in-store mag) introduced me to music criticism and the idea that there was more to say about music aside from “sounds alright.” Anyway! a short history of AllMusic.

10. "The conception of a lawn, its very idea, is, at least in Sontag’s terms, camp."

BONUS: I slang in my white tee, bang in my white tee, all up in the club spittin game in my white tee

Sunday, December 4, 2016


"I can never ever stop
thinking about Fred Hampton
and youth, and how it ends."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

From Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews by Nathaniel Mackey

Centrifugal work begins with good-bye, wants to bid all givens good­-bye. It begins with what words will not do, paint will not do, whatever medium we find ourselves working in will not do. Amenities and conso­lation accrue to a horizon it wants to get beyond, abandoning amenities and consolation or seeking new ones. It will, of course, suffer marginal­ization, temporary in some cases, unremitting in most.

Black centrifugal writing has been and continues to be multiply mar­ginalized. Why would it be otherwise? At a time when academic and crit­ical discourse battens on identity obsession (even as it “problematizes” identity), black centrifugal writing reorients identity in ways that defy prevailing divisions of labor. In the face of a widespread fetishization of collectivity, it dislocates collectivity, flies from collectivity, wants to make flight a condition of collectivity. It says that “we” was never a swifter fiction—not so much a war between family and flight as the familial song of one’s feeling for flight. It says that only such admitted fugitivity stands a ghost of a chance of apportioning prodigal truth. This is one of the lessons it has learned from black music. It remembers that Coleman Hawkins felt no identity crisis playing an instrument invented by a Belgian, that Lester Young referred to the keys of his horn as his people.

Black art, like any other, is innovative, demanding and/ or outside to the extent that it addresses the wings and resistances indigenous to its medium qua medium, address ranging from amorous touch to agonistic embrace, angelic rub. To don such wings and engage such resistances as though they were the stuff of identity and community is to have taken a step toward making them so.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"The wonder is not that so many are ruined but that so many survive."

Happy birthday, James Baldwin.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Carports

Photo by Paul Redmond.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Only built for internet linx

1. I recently watched a talk between Arthur Jafa and bell hooks wherein Jafa says that cameras, regardless of the race of their operators, function as surrogates for the white gaze. This was bumping around in the back of my mind as I read this week's Race/Related newsletter, which features a conversation between NYT photo editor Sandra Stevenson and Harvard professor and Aperture guest editor Sarah Lewis on black representation in photography. In light of Jafa's statement, is it any surprise that film photography is rife with racial bias on an operational level?

2. Try reading all of the quotes in this article about Pitti Uomo without throwing your computer out the window. It's really hard!

3. Must-reads on the state of education, discrimination, inequality, and the "surrendering of advantage" in America: Nikole Hannah-Jones' heartbreaking piece on school segregation in New York City and Jia Tolentino on the recently decided Abigail Fisher case.

4. Ludacris is having a concert at Guantanamo Bay on the 4th of July.

5. "Álgos (longing) is what we share, yet nóstos (the return home) is what divides us. It is the promise to rebuild the ideal home that lies at the core of many powerful ideologies of today, tempting us to relinquish critical thinking for emotional bonding. The danger of nostalgia is that it tends to confuse the actual home with an imaginary one. In extreme cases, it can create a phantom homeland, for the sake of which one is ready to die or kill. Unelected nostalgia breeds monsters."

6. Delete your account.

7. "Denouncing a view or person as racist is easy but trying to reestablish links between left wing parties, movements and white working class communities is the harder job": on Brexit and "when being racist doesn't matter." UPDATE 7/2: London Review of Books contributors looking back and looking forward on the Leave vote.

8. I don't have much to say about Fanta Sylla's Black Film Critic Syllabus except that it's perfect.

9. "What is required now of architecture, especially academic architecture, is not another retreading of the usual antagonisms. Resipsa loquitur: The boring and never-ending Facebook-adjacent arguments around this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale are primarily about mindless parametricist fundamentalism versus patronizing do-gooder fundamentalism. Who cares? Only the difficulty of real adversarial engagement, not fantasy critiques launched from the ivory tower at the profession, will further the conversation. Architecture will not advance one step as either a symbol of the one percent or as a tool of the other 99 percent; it must adapt and grow beyond its currently servile relationships with capital and/or community. What is required is nothing less than a wholesale attack on the discipline’s stagnating orthodoxies, left and right." Peter Zellner going all the way in on the failures of the traveling House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate exhibit (whose Los Angeles arrival I was [unfortunately?] out of town for) is everything. The housing crisis will not be solved with more "brutalist" event websites and intellectually lazy panel discussions.

10. Anyway! Craft beer sucks and Jon Taffer agrees with me, so.

Bonus: I'm always thinking about the mall and thinking about different ways to think about the mall which often leads me to find things like this, a long but worthwhile paper on programmed music in shopping centers, which of course means I also have to remind everyone of these K-Mart bangers from the early 90s.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mother's Little Helper

I'm not in New York right now, but if I were I'd check out Diamond Stingily at Queer Thoughts before it closed on the 19th.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Frank O'Hara, "At the Old Place"

Joe is restless and so am I, so restless.
Button’s buddy lips frame “L G T TH O P?”
across the bar.  “Yes!” I cry, for dancing’s
my soul delight.  (Feet! feet!) “Come on!”

Through the streets we skip like swallows.
Howard malingers.  (Come on, Howard.) Ashes
malingers.  (Come on, J.A.)  Dick malingers.
(Come on, Dick.)  Alvin darts ahead. (Wait up,
Alvin.)  Jack, Earl and Someone don’t come.

Down the dark stairs drifts the steaming cha-
cha-cha.  Through the urine and smoke we charge
to the floor.  Wrapped in Ashes’ arms I glide.

(It’s heaven!)  Button lindys with me. (It’s
heaven!) Joe’s two-steps, too, are incredible,
and then a fast rhumba with Alvin, like skipping
on toothpicks.  And the interminable intermissions,

we have them.  Jack, Earl and Someone drift
guiltily in. “I knew they were gay
the minute I laid eyes on them!” screams John.
How ashamed they are of us!   we hope.

Lifted from Andrew Epstein's post on the Orlando massacre, Frank O'Hara, and the legacy of gay nightclubs.

Friday, June 3, 2016


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Curly Myrick, "It Be's That Way"

It do.  (Shout out to Kenswil!)

(One day I'll post something on this blog aside from links and songs but honestly I don't even know what I'm doing with this thing. You know what, though? IT BE'S THAT WAY.)

Only built for internet linx

1. "Farming simulators placate a need for a collective and organized past as an alternative to contemporary chaos." WOW @ ME NEXT TIME. Speaking of black farmers: they (we tbh) out here.

2. In defense of cliques.

3. Nicholas Hume-Brown at Slate rolls up his sleeves and digs into AllRecipes - apparently the world's most popular English-language food website - and makes a condescension-free broccoli & cheese casserole.

4. While walking through a village on the east coast of England this past winter, I thought of Southern California. It wasn't a palm tree or a free-range chia seed pudding what done it, but rather a low-slung bungalow with a wide, green lawn. With California in the midst of a housing crisis (to say nothing of our water situation), what will become of one California's most enduring icons, the single-family bungalow?

5. "Those black people who make their way into the business are heavily concentrated in stereotypical roles. This has meant sport, entertainment and especially what is euphemistically called urban affairs, often meaning reporting on black people. By contrast, there are very few black journalists writing about politics and national security, international news, big business, culture (as opposed to entertainment) or science and technology – they are essentially absent from large swaths of coverage, and even more sparsely represented among the ranks of editors. This is not a trivial matter, or a subject of concern solely to journalists: the overwhelming whiteness of the media strongly but silently conditions how Americans understand their own country and the rest of the world."

6. Some fun media shade: Politico going in on Salon (featuring Glenn Greenwald doing what he does: tying every-fucking-thing back to Hillary Clinton and her intergalactic Eileen Fisher car coats or whatever).

7. I just discovered an excellent podcast called Racist Sandwich, wherein "chef Soleil Ho and journalist Zahir Janmohamed interview chefs and purveyors of color and tackle food's relationship to race, gender, and class." Their name comes from an incident which gave me one of my favorite images found on the internet (see above) and you can listen to their first episode - featuring Bertony Faustin, Oregon's first black winemaker - here.

8. Remnants of Los Angeles' Little Italy.

9. Vice Dean of the Committee on Strategic Alumni Technology, Estimated salary: $294,664

10. "'All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,' he said. 'Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.'"

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My tippet – only tulle –

The internet floated an oldish Claudia Rankine interview my way last week and in it she mentions that the first poem she ever learned was "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" and I'm feeling very YAS.gif about it

Friday, April 29, 2016

Had we our senses

In this short life / that only merely lasts an hour / How much - how / little - is / within our / power

There are those / who are shallow / intentionally / and only / profound / by / accident

As there are / apartments in our / own minds that / we never enter / without apology / we should respect / the seals of / others

If you can't tell by some of my recent posts, I've been slowly, tentatively revisiting writers I loved when I was younger. My mother had a book of Emily Dickinson's collected poetry and every now and again while snooping around her room I'd take the book from the shelf and read a randomly chosen poem. I didn't "get" any of it at the time, but later, in high school, I'd read her poems and feel the air rushing out of my lungs. To close out what I guess is National Poetry Month in the U.S., here's a few of her envelope flap poems which have been collected in The Gorgeous Nothings.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Only built for internet linx

1. To start, here’s a bunch of things that I would file under, “Food - it’s complicated”: Matt Hartman on consuming the “New South”; Serena Dai on food colonialism and when notions of food poisoning are racist; Food & Wine magazine has named its first Black Best New Chef, Seattle’s Edouardo Jordan; this First We Feast article on the problem with rap being played in restaurants (you already know how I feel) touches on some interesting points even though it largely misses the mark for me (Gee isn’t rap music LOUD?! Like, too loud for FINE DINING?!), but their roundtable on the state of soul food was great; you can now order Taco Bell via Slack; pomegranatesssssssssssss; I'm tired of explaining to people that it's highly, highly unlikely that they've eaten authentic Kobe beef in America (shout out to a former co-worker who tried to argue that Umami Burger's nine dollar ass burgers were made from a Kobe beef blend); I really enjoyed Pelin Keskin's Cooking in America episode on Uzbek food; Chinese culture without Chinese people; hierarchies of taste, hierarchies of interest, and how Americans pretend to be into "ethnic food"; and lastly, because I'm obsessed with what politicians eat, I enjoyed this Bernie Sanders profile. TRIGGER WARNING: contains the words "millennial-friendly blueberry smoothie" just sitting on the page together being annoying.

2. "Lumpen proletarian in the class society of appearances": Hito Stereyl on shitpics

3. I was too indie to shop at Kitson (even though I lived nearby and frequented the also-shuttered WESC store across the street from their Robertson Blvd location), but I appreciate it as a fixture of my Los Angeles girlhood, however removed from it I was ideologically. Philippa Snow offers a eulogy of sorts at Vestoj.

4. "I want to feel what I feel. What's mine. Even if it's not happiness, whatever that means. Because you're all you've got."

5. "Using [the sociologist Pierre] Bourdieu’s theory of distinction, I studied dogs as a new social marker. Dog ownership is a way of appropriating public space. Firstly, because you have to walk dogs and secondly, because they make you feel safe in the neighbourhood. Dog ownership is a way of inscribing very specific social norms onto public space. So I look at the way dog owners really use their dogs, not in a conscious way, to signal their socio-economic status. Like having a certain kind of dog, not those 'ghetto' dogs, but rather by owning poodles or Labradors. They buy accessories for their dogs and go to dog bakeries. These social activities are used to create a new lifestyle and new way of consolidating social bonds."

6. You've probably read David Remnick's home run Aretha Franklin profile already, right? Right???

7. "When vigilance becomes a game, the dangers posed by injustice begin to feel arbitrary. The Woke Olympics, in turn, operates both as sport and false consciousness, championed by the faulty belief that eradication is the natural result of recognizing hate’s existence."

8. This article on the "weird teens" of Tumblr exposed me to the world of One Direction-President Obama slashfic ("a love room with a love bed").

9. Why does L.A. insist on wasting time and money addressing non-issues? We don't have the man-spreading problem on public transportation that New York seems to have. You know who takes up extra seats on the bus? People who can't afford to transport their shit any other way. I'm pretty sure they won't have a spare $100 for this dumb ass ticket, either. As for the people who put their regular-sized purses and backpacks in adjoining seats, that's nothing a finger pointed at the seat coupled with "Can I sit here?" won't fix. Proposing a whole ass law because people don't know how to speak up is ridiculous to me, especially because I can guarantee a certain kind of person won't be getting these tickets.

10. "The formulation has been diluted to something representational and bloodless — an architectural rendering of a building that will never be built." Jia Tolentino on the commodification of "empowerment."

Bonus: automating emotional labor via Chrome extensions

But also: "Let’s get rid of the 'I' in fiction and memoir too. If that means no more fiction and memoir, well, it is a small price to pay to make all those people who think they are too highly refined and emotionally gifted stop talking about themselves for just a few minutes, and if you’re going to tell me that I’m using the personal pronoun an awful lot in this piece decrying it, well, oh my God, what an amazing point you raise, I never thought of that."

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Death-Ray

Revisiting Daniel Clowes' Eightball #23 while awaiting the arrival of Patience.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Becoming God in order to make art

Lorraine O'Grady on the "first and the last of the modernists," Charles Baudelaire and Michael Jackson.

I don't know anything about a god or creator, I do know about jazz:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Shots, a series: I'm retiring from the internet edition

Friday, February 5, 2016

Free your mind and your ass is free by default / Happy Black History Month

Theo Parrish with Craig Huckaby, "Black Music."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

William Blake, "London"

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets
I hear How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Colored people

Carrie Mae Weems, "Moody Blue Girl"

Monday, January 18, 2016

Only built for internet linx

1. This article from the New York Times’ T magazine, on the efforts of artists Mark Bradford, Theaster Gates, and Rick Lowe to create spaces for black art in black communities has been on my mind a lot lately, especially this quote from Mark Bradford: "You get on a bus. You go to a museum. You see art. And I felt it had little to do with my day to day, or anything that was going on in my head.” In Los Angeles at least the physical distance between black communities and art spaces can eventually become psychic distance - “I don’t feel like sitting on the bus for an hour” can easily be rationalized with, “What’s there for me anyway?” Considering how little most art instutitions do to engage with "the black community" - especially those of us belong to the lower middle and working classes - this isn’t exactly a leap of thought. But yeah, I love this and I love what these artists are doing.

2. The smallest parks in Los Angeles

3. "That’s why I hate these New Year’s that fall like fixed maturities, which turn life and human spirit into a commercial concern with its neat final balance, its outstanding amounts, its budget for the new management. They make us lose the continuity of life and spirit. You end up seriously thinking that between one year and the next there is a break, that a new history is beginning; you make resolutions, and you regret your irresolution, and so on, and so forth. This is generally what’s wrong with dates.” Antonino Gramsci being salty about New Year’s

5. This piece on Leslie Jones is excellent except for: "'S.N.L.' often hires good-looking young comics—Chevy Chase, Adam Sandler, Jason Sudeikis…”

7. I really love that this review of Cities: Skyline was written by an actual mayor (whose profile cover photo is a screenshot of Mayor Quimby l m a o)

8. "Her surveillance provides little in the way of edification and a lot in codifying uncomfortable catch 22’s for black women and privacy: visibility is part of achievement in media, but is it worth it when even at the pinnacle of your success the only thing made visible is the racism of those observing you?”

"What is the solution for being constantly watched, if no one sees you at all?"

9. On Pakistan’s “burger generation”

10. “What does it mean to be a landlord and to own property if your tenants can infinitely sublet it? What does it mean to be a tenant if you Airbnb your apartment half of the year? Who knows? But redefining private property rights: How ambitious!

Bonus: some things I like reading about (food, identity construction through consumerism, and shade towards Anthony Bourdain) all wrapped up nicely in one TNI article

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Public fiction

On the train the woman standing makes you understand there are no seats available. And, in fact, there is one. Is the woman getting off at the next stop? No, she would rather stand all the way to Union Station.

The space next to the man is the pause in a conversation you are suddenly rushing to fill. You step quickly over the woman's fear, a fear she shares. You let her have it. 

The man doesn't acknowledge you as you sit down because the man knows more about the unoccupied seat than you do. For him, you imagine, it is more like breath than wonder; he has had to think about it so much you wouldn't call it thought. 

When another passenger leaves his seat and the standing woman sits, you glance over at the man. He is gazing out the window into what looks like darkness. 

You sit next to the man on the train, bus, in the plane, waiting room, anywhere he could be forsaken. You put your body there in proximity to, adjacent to, alongside, within. 

You don't speak unless you are spoken to and your body speaks to the space you fill and you keep trying to fill it except the space belongs to the body of the man next to you, not to you. 

Where he goes the space follows him. If the man left his seat before Union Station you would simply be a person in a seat on the train. You would cease to struggle against the unoccupied seat when where why the space won't lose it's meaning. 

You imagine if the man spoke to you he would say, it's okay, I'm okay, you don't need to sit here. You don't need to sit and you sit and look past him into the darkness the train is moving through. A tunnel. 

All the while the darkness allows you to look at him. Does he feel you looking at him? You suspect so. What does suspicion mean? What does suspicion do? 

The soft gray-green of your cotton of your cotton coat touches the sleeve of him. You are shoulder to shoulder through standing you could feel shadowed. You sit to repair whom who? You erase that thought. And it might be too late for that. 

It might forever be too late or too early. The train moves too fast for your eyes to adjust to anything beyond the man, the window, the tiled tunnel, its slick darkness. Occasionally, a white light flickers by like a displaced sound. 

From across the aisle tracks room harbor world a woman asks a man in the rows ahead if he would mind switching seats. She wishes to sit with her daughter or son. You hear but you don't hear. You can't see. 

It's then the man next to you turns to you. And as if from inside your own head you agree that if anyone asks you to move, you'll tell them we are traveling as a family. 


"Making Room" by Claudia Rankine, from Citizen. Rankine reads this and discusses the making of Citizen here.
Maira Gall