Well, Dames Nation. This has been a real BRUISER of a week.
From the ongoing ecological crises in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean to the new most deadly contemporary mass shooting in American history, the events are almost incapacitatingly grim, and our government’s response to them is shockingly, flagrantly, insultingly, devastatingly insufficient. Then there are the reminders, via Harvey Weinstein’s 30-year campaign of sexual harassment and intimidation and Buzzfeed’s expose on the role “progressive” men in the media played in mainstreaming Milo Yiannopoulos and neo-Nazism, of how much evil powerful men can do and how few consequences they suffer-- as if our sitting president were not a sufficient reminder of that every day. As Jenny Zhang put it in her highly necessary newsletter, reckoning with the connection between violence against women and violence against the world at large:
At some point society is going to have to reckon with the fact that women, particularly queer women and poor women and women of colour and Indigenous women and disabled women and trans women and sex workers, are canaries in the coal mine. Don't stand amid a mountain of dead birds and tell me no one could've seen this coming.
As much as this all made us feel like lying down, we don’t have that luxury. So instead we’re buying and blasting Lin and Beyoncé’s Puerto Rico-benefitting bops: “Almost Like Praying,” for which Lin “broke his Rolodex,” and “Mi Gente,” a remix of a J Balvin-Willy William hit to which Beyoncé added an ICONIC guest verse, both of which are donating all their proceeds to regions in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico affected by these tragedies. And, dancing ourselves back to resilience, we’re following Lin and Bey's lead anddonating half the money we earn from our Patreon donors this month to recovery efforts. Grab a friend, hug the shit out of them, and let’s keep working.
SMOULDERING GAZE REMINDER! We’re Live-tweeting CAROL on 10/15!
PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDARS, Gal Pals-- a livetweet’s a coming a week from Sunday! For October, we’ve chosen the very justly lauded romantic period piece Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as women who fall in love in New York in the mid-1950s. Join us!
When: Sunday, October 15, 7:30 pm ET
Where: each of our respective cozy pillow forts & on Twitter, using #carol(don’t worry, we’ll use #haroldtheyrelesbians, too)
How: Netflix or DVD
As The Patron Saint of October Would Ask: ANY QUESTIONS?
We’ll be recording our quarterly podcast* next Sunday, and this time around we’re taking Ask Two Bossy Dames and making it *~audible~*, so you know what that means! Now is the perfect time to pose your most burning questions to the Ask TBD Form! We’re particularly looking for your questions about the winter holidays - wardrobe, menu, gifts, social commitments, travel, emotional labor - and look forward to furnishing you with our usual blend of practical and piquant advice (which, to be clear, is not legal or medical in nature. We really are only friendly know-it-alls).
*We release this podcast to our $10 Patreon subscribers first, and then a month later to the public.
Happy Anniversary, Dames Nation!
Today marks three whole Earth-years since we launched this here newsletter! Can you believe it? We hardly can. When we think about the journey from the first issue to this one, we’re kind of flabbergasted on several axes: that any time has passed at all, that so much time has passed, that the TBD formula you all know & love was there from Issue 1, and honestly, that we remain as charming & critically sprightly & insightful now as we did then.
As we approached this momentous date, we did want to know a bit more about you, dear readers of Dames Nation, and we have some truly wonderful responses to share from our reader survey. It’s nearly impossible to articulate how much your kind words have meant to us, especially in these past few GLOBALLY HARD weeks. We feel our souls being replenished every time we read about how the newsletter has nourished you in some way. Thank you so, so much for your enthusiasm and participation in this weekly inbox experiment. Our survey received 372 responses, and many of you took extra time to give us an idea of just how much the newsletter means to you and how the community we’ve built impacted you.
Here’s the response that we think could give our time-honored motto of Paragraphic, Yet Breezy a run for its money:
every single week i learn something new and awesome
and then i annoy my friends with it.
That’s it, right there, in 17 words: our greatest dreams, realized. It was THRILLING to head through your replies and see how many of our favs-- young Harold Fashion! Still Processing! Bad Bad Hats! Witch, Please! A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night! Rose Lerner! eShakti! Lady Rage! Hamilton! -- have become cultural touchstones for you, too. It really does make us feel that the work we do IS, at least in a small way, making our world better. Here are a few more responses that really took our breath away:
I find your newsletter to be my weekly gift to myself - it makes me laugh, it gives me the warm cozy feeling of wearing a perfect sweater, it opens my mind to new ideas and art and life, and it continues to inspire me. I consider Dames Nation to be a major influence in my life and my favorite form of self-care.
October 20, 2016. I'm sitting in my basement sublet doing a phone interview for what seems like my dream internship (books, internet stuff, an Actual Paycheck) when the interviewer mentions Two Bossy Dames. Being the supremely un-chill person I am, I say "I love Sophie and Margaret!" and we talk about the newsletter, which she happened to be guest-editing that week, for a few minutes before going back to internship stuff. I check Twitter a little while later and see she's tweeted the following: “Changing my intern interview process to include just one question: Can you tell me the first name of at least one of the Bossy Dames?”. Now I have an Actual Full-time Job on her team and we text about Younger on the reg.
You've provided an amazing support system during a truly terrifying time in the US and helped me both reconcile my own privilege and be a better ally as well as better express my experience as a member of a less visually obvious minority group that is routinely targeted. Thank you!
I just finished reading Grace and the Fever, which is not a book I would have normally picked up (no lesbians!), but I did, and I LOVED it. I also try to check out all the music recommendations, and I have found some really wonderful music that, again, I never would have tried on my own: Bomba Estereo, Haim, One Direction (and solo acts), Kesha. An internet friend (I think?) linked to your newsletter when I was in the midst of miscarriage and infertility-fueled depression, and Two Bossy Dames was one of the few reliable bright spots during weeks that were a struggle to just survive. I love your unapologetic lady-ness and feminism and saying so many of the things that I have felt and not been able to articulate. I feel like we are kindred spirits, and I literally talk about this newsletter every chance I get, usually while recommending something awesome y'all turned me onto.
Since joining Dames Nation, my best friend (it was really more of a Boston marriage than just a friendship) moved across the country, I left my beloved Boston for Worcester, and, after investing two years making friends in central Massachusetts, found myself relocating to the North Shore with a new job and virtually no IRL social network. Through it all, you Dames have really filled the void that daily female companionship left in my life. There have been weeks of my life when you've been the only women I've thought, laughed, and cried with, and you hold a special place in my heart for it.
In closing, thank you to everyone who took a minute to share your story. As Lina Lamont says:
Tom Petty Was a Goddamn Treasure
(A grief link round-up by Dame S., presently sniffling)
I hope it does feel like Heaven right now, you deserve that, you brilliant good egg.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were everywhere when I was at my most sonically impressionable, ca. 1982-1990, and I’ve always been so happy -- in literally a triumphant, fist-pumping way -- to crank their songs as loud as I can stand it in my car every time I hear them on the radio, even now. I joined exactly two official band fan clubs in that time: U2 and The Heartbreakers. That man wrote across four decades, gave us at least a baker’s dozen of Truly Perfect Songs, and grew more beloved and respected by his peers with each passing year. He survived an abusive childhood, growing up to write songs about love and gentleness and steadfastness and generosity of spirit. His memory is truly a blessing. I wish he were still alive, because 66 is way too damn young, but in his absence, here’s a link round-up for everyone who loved him, and for those who don’t know know yet that they love him.
So the first thing you need to know about Tom Petty is that he wrote perfect first lines to songs. “Baby, don’t it feel like heaven right now?” “Well, she was an American Girl, raised on promises” “You think you’re gonna take her away with your money and your cocaine” “You know, sometimes, I don’t know why, but this whole town just seems so hopeless” “Honey, don’t walk out, I’m too drunk to follow” “Baby, you come knockin’ on my front door, same old line you used to use before” - there’s a zillion of them, all lines Raymond Carver would have given his eye teeth to write.
I’m convinced that there are great songwriters who just do their own thing, to hell with what anyone else thinks. There are also great songwriters who do a bit of wool-gathering and integrate musical trends that interest them into their own thing. As future Friend of the Newsletter Chris Molanphy convincingly argues, Tom Petty was one of the latter, and his consistent application of this skill helped ensure his career longevity. Even his digressions into what Pitchfork is calling “Heartland Synth Rock” have proven influential on younger acts like The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile.
You know how they tell you never to meet your idols? Tom Petty met his idols and made them his besties, and that’s how we have - and this is a strong compliment, I assure you - two perfect Dad Rock records in the form of Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 & Volume 3. Cherished Damespal Karen recently referred to Tom as the Baby Spice of the Traveling Wilburys and that is really true. Look at that little blondie hanging with his big brothers! Precious! The full constellation of records from this band of brothers era includes George Harrison’s Cloud Nine, Jeff Lynne’s Armchair Theatre (sadly not available on Spotify), the two Wilburys records, Roy Orbison’s swan song, Mystery Girl, Tom’s first solo album Full Moon Fever and his return to the Heartbreakers, Into The Great Wide Open. Please feel free to come yell with me about these iconic recordings on Twitter at any time, I was a very cool teen who owned them all on cassette.
Round out your Petty appreciation dive with:
This four-hour (!) Netflix documentary about his career, which is both good & will make you wish _once again_ for a feature-length documentary about Stevie Nicks
His direct, unambiguous repudiation of having used the Confederate flag on his 1985 tour (including the steps he took to make sure it wasn’t present in any contemporary official video of the tour)
The Spotify playlist of favorite songs from the good eggs at NPR Music is a great place to start listening
The story of his final interview with the LA Times -- recorded just over a week ago -- is all the more crushing for the optimism and energy it captures
This rebroadcast of his 2006 interview on Fresh Air is lovely & sardonic.
This feels horribly pointed.
Dame Margaret’s Fury, Dame Margaret’s Comfort
6 Years later, this is still the image that plays in my brain when I feel blackout levels of rage.
This week made me furious. It made me examine the ways that I, as an avid film goer, participate in a culture of violence and abuse against women. It made me think about what constitutes “luck” as a woman in America and how sexual harassment has impacted my life (even when I thought it hadn’t). And I don’t have any easy answers about this, or any less rage, but this thread from Helen Rosner (which my beloved newsletter co-editor brought to my attention) helped to remind me that the violence abusers do is not to their victims alone, but to their entire communities.
I was lucky enough this week to see Kesha live in concert and to get to witness first-hand that, even while the consequences for abusers remain woefully inadequate, the spirit of survivors cannot be dimmed. I sang along to “Rainbow”, the first song Kesha wrote when she was finally allowed access to a toy keyboard at the treatment center to which Dr. Luke’s abuse drove her, and found myself choked with tears me up halfway through the chorus. If somehow you have not tried this album yet, please give it a listen.
Another piece of art about our cruel world and the resilience of the people and artists within it is now available for you to-- at least partially-- experience: the original cast recording of Rachel Chavkin’s production of Anais Mitchell’s folk opera Hadestown at the New York Theater Workshop is now-- FINALLY!!!-- available. Try to listen to Nabiyah Be sing “All I’ve Ever Known”without crying. I dare you. And if you live in Edmonton or ANYWHERE that could pass as near it, please go see the pre-Broadway production at the Citadel Theater this winter. I am begging you.