Hello Damespals near and far! It is such an honor to be returning to these hallowed email inboxes to take you on another journey with us. We are CT &KW, best friends and co-hosts of the Unfriendly Black Hotties, a podcast about higher ed, books, movies, TV, fashion, culinary arts… and whatever the hell else we feel like getting into.
And now, À LA CUISINE!
A Negresses' Guide to Nancy Meyers-Approved Fall Vibes
A glimpse into the Unfriendly Black Hotties’ creative process
As we’re certain you know, national treasure Nancy Meyers recently produced her daughter Hallie’s directorial debut, Home Again. The movie is ostensibly about the life transitions of a leggy soon-to-be divorcée (played by Reese Witherspoon, whose heart-shaped face continues to make mockeries of us all with its deeply unjust mathematical perfection. Really though, the movie is about a white woman with ancestral wealth and a beautiful kitchen, and how she tricks three PYTs into giving her free childcare. In other words, it is perhaps the Greatest Story of Our Time.
We thought it would be fitting to celebrate Nancy’s recent achievement -- and helpful to our continued denial re: her leaving the movie business -- by rounding up stories, cookware, and shawl/scarf/pashmina fashions essential to any aspiring NM heroine.
Are you in dire need of loose-fitting, expensive-feeling garb in neutral colors and jewel tones? Look no further than Eileen Fisher’s latest collection. This cashmere tunic sweater says, “Why yes, I am a creative spirit with crippling anxiety and a deep sink! Somebody (se)date me!” Are you a single mom with exquisite cabinetry and a newfound sense of self? Then you simply must have this mustard-yellow wool kimono. How else will people know that you own both a thriving jewelry design business and a lakefront property in Maine? If those options are a bit spendier than you’d like, you’ll be happy to know that Forever 21 is doing wonderful things with knits this fall. Honestly, we should all own this sweater cape dress and a person can never have too many billowy cardigans. There are chic, cozy options in plus-sizes too. If none of you buy this cape-sleeve maxi (perfect for the family wedding where you will see your feckless ex-husband for the first time in a year) we will be INCREDIBLY disappointed.
Look, we can’t argue that you need a spendy merino wool blanket, but if you are really trying to get your “This, like everything in my home, is white and I spend my spare time lounging on it and drinking goblets of red wine,” on, then you might as well get a stunning one and support a black woman making luxe goods, right?
“Oh me? I’m just taking some time away from my busy cookbook editing business to spend a whimsical fall in my gorgeous home on Martha’s Vineyard,” this scarf screams. “If I reconnect with an ex for whom I’ve always held a torch? Well, who could blame me!” *glides away, chuckling throatily*
Recommendations From KW, A Thoughtful Thot
Remember that time Tyrese went on MTV and said Rihanna wasn’t beautiful?
Hell, remember TYRESE?? LOL ME NEITHER
I know you don’t need me to remind you that This American Life is a great program, but I do need to shout about the most recent episode for justtttt a moment. “White Haze” explores the mental and rhetorical gymnastics of right-wing activists trying to disentangle themselves from racist, white supremacist groups. The entire episode is astonishing, but there is an extra-powerful moment in Act II when producer Robyn Semien considers disclosing her race (black) to Charlottesville “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler. She ultimately decides not to mention her background, but those few seconds of internal debate add a kind of dramatic irony to the rest of her conversations with Kessler. Kessler would later assert that while “white supremacy” is little more than a liberal buzzword, America is, in fact, a “white country.” Unbe-fucking-lievable. The episode is moving, instructive, and genuinely terrifying. Listen to it when you’re feeling strong and safe.
We prayed to the goddess and she heard our cry: Ibeyi’s new album is finally here. At just 39 minutes long, Ash is a strong and succinct artistic statement. In “No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms,” Michelle Obama speaks about the value of women and girls, on top of the twins’ typically fire beats and harmonies. “Deathless”, one of the pre-release singles, is inspired in-part by Lisa’s wrongful arrest, but leaves space for the rest of us too. I *think* my favorite song is “Numb,” but the whole album is so dope that it’s honestly difficult for me to choose. Ash’s clarity reminds me a lot of another album I love, Lady Gaga’s 2009 EP The Fame Monster. The styles are quite different of course, but I just love seeing musicians at work with that kind of focus. It makes albums feel more like a cohesive pieces of art, and less like haphazard collections of $1.29 money-grabs. (Gaga, please take this as a loving drag from one of your most dedicated Monsters. You can make shorter albums. Everyone would prefer it.)
In other exciting musical news, Yelle is back! Fam, I could not be happier about this. Yelle is a French electropop duo that I have loved since their feature in the Extremely Mid-Aughts music video for “Parle à Ma Main.” A few years ago, they gave us “Complètement fou”, a wonderful little earworm with a video that features extensive voguing (executed masterfully and appropriately by people of color) AND a giant ear of corn. Yelle’s new single “Romeo” is just as much of a #bop. I promise you’ll love it even if you can’t speak French.
Earlier this week, I went and saw the new Darren Aronofsky joint, mother! As troubling and confused as I found the film (so many mixed metaphors, mon dieu!), it did prompt me to do some deep thinking about ~*creation*~. The Establishment’s Writer of the Week column is one of my favorite ways to get inspired -- this week’s feature with Anne Theriault is no exception. The Longform podcast is another place I turn when I need creative insights; their recent double-header with Reply All’s Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt is an especially excellent exploration of their joint creative process. YouTube comedians Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin talked about their partnership on the Nancy podcast, and Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner interviewed each other about balancing their shared and solo hustles for their site, Lenny. Let us all go forth and Do The Thing!
On She Goes was founded earlier this year, and in the few months it’s been around, it has become a staple of my internet diet. The site was founded by a group of badass ladies that wanted to create space in the travel writing world for women of color. The site carries things like city guides for native Thai speakers, what to say when flight attendants touch your hair (yep, this really happens), and all kinds of stories about being a WOC around the world. I wrote a piece for On She Goes about a recent work trip to Johannesburg, and I am pleased to report that not only do they pay their writers, they pay their writers within days of hitting “publish.” Look. At. God.
CT’s Linky Corner
Happy Belated Birthday to Catherine Zeta Jones; who made me gay in this very moment.
I attempted to count the group text threads I have, and found myself giving up after about 10. Suffice it to say, these little communities that live in my phone have been a lifesaver many times, especially here in 2017. If you feel even remotely the same way, allow me to draw your eye and mind to Aaron Edwards beautiful piece on the group chat. Featuring truly gorgeous illustrations, the piece focuses on the refuge communities of color find in the group chats they carry with them. Interviews with perma faves like Tracy Clayton and Jazmine Hughes give some insight to how people create their group chats and, most importantly, what their chats are named. In the spirit of sharing, I will give you three of my favorite group chat names from my VERY own life: Madams Senator, Queermo Coven, and ValenTynes (yes, the name is based on Tyne Daly).
Beloved Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard has a new, all lady project Bermuda Triangle, with Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser, two well loved Nashville musicians. The trio’s first single “Rosey” is a cover from Lafser’s 2015 album, Raised on the Plains. I feel like I don’t need to say much more than like, “gorgeous, soaring harmonies” to get y’all to click, but it is also a sad cowboy breakup song sung by women, so that’s two great things. I do feel I need to apologize that this is so far their only song. NPR says they are in the studio now, so just listen to this on repeat until the album comes out, okay?
The Nod is podcast from Gimlet hosted by Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings. I was a huge fan of their old show, For Colored Nerds, and was so so happy to see them remerge with the power of Gimlet Media behind them. The show “explores the beautiful, complicated, dimensons of black life.” They’ve done episodes on the durag, purple drank, Afrocentric schools ...the list goes on. Every episode is thoughtful, fun and funny. The most recent episode features Michael Twitty, a chef who travels to plantations and dresses and cooks like his enslaved ancestors. Listening to him talk about pulling into those plantations and the sensations that creates, and the conversations he has with folks while cooking and eating gave me chills, truly. He’s written a bookabout his experiences, a book I want SO BADLY but I shouldn’t be buying books right now because *gestures expansively at filled bookshelves and worrisome checking account* but this book looks so interesting and informative and maybe just this once or maybe I’ll wait til it’s out in paperback, that is much more reasonable yes.
As I morph into my final, queerest form, (a slightly severe part time ceramics teacher, natch), I find myself craving some sort of artistic outlet. Lately, the best thing to calm these nerves of mine (thanks 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) has been doodling. I thought I was happy and content with my pen + notebook, until my beloved pal Amy came over with these watercolor pens, a palette and sketchbook. They are GENIUS! Fill the pen with water, give it a lil squeeze, and BOOM, you are basically a Hudson River School painter (though they worked primarily with oils). If you need more proof, my friend Alex uses them and he is like, a bonafide artist and editor at Saveur so he knows his stuff.
It is fall, and fall means two things. Hot Toddies and Romance novels. Ideally together, ideally while overlooking a gigantic, crashing ocean, but let’s just take what we can get for the moment. I love romance novels, and I am here to recommend two excellent ones I just finished, courtesy of my dear friend, Jasmine whose newsletter you should be subscribed to so you can also luxuriate in her glorious taste. The Devil in Winter and The Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. Now I must confess historicals are not usually my go to romance novels, they are typically too white and too straight for my liking. These books, however, are so charming that I sighed happily MULTIPLE times while reading them. Yes, they are still quite white, but some people are I guess. I was able to get over the heterosexuality of it all by pretending it was an outdated way of life, like women not voting or bleeding people with leeches. Read them, you won’t regret it.
The League of Extraordinary Melanin
This is an accurate representation of your hotties at all times.
This week, Cardi B became the first female solo rapper since Lauryn Hill to have a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. Fam, we know many of you are white and have no idea who Cardi B is, but please trust us when we tell you that this is wild beyond belief. Despite the years-long ascent of Nicki Minaj and the resurgence of Missy Elliott, the last solo chart topper from a female rapper was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998 -- almost twenty years ago. And the artist that finally brought lady-rap back to the top is an ardently feminist, Afro-Latinx, former stripper-cum-reality star. AND the person she ousted from the top spot is everyone’s least-favorite perpetual victim, one Taylor “Snake-In-The-Grass” Swift. (Obviously TS has produced some bops in her day, but she is also obviously insufferable. That’s just the truth.) Again we say unto you: this is fucking amazing. Plus, in a delightful twist, Cardi’s shoutout to her dentist on “Bodak Yellow” has TRIPLED her business #BlackGirlMagic indeed.
In 2016, then QB for the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick sat during the National Anthem. He sat to protest white supremacy and police brutality, after two years of hearing stories and watching video of black folks killed by officers of the law. Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Alton Sterling. Philando Castille. After discussing with his teammate Eric Reid and former player Nate Boyer, Colin and Eric decided kneel, rather than sit as a peaceful protest. On August 26th, 2016, a photo of Kaepernick kneeling went viral, and the backlash began.
More than a year later, y’all’s little president held a rally To Assuage His Ego and Rile White People Up and Ostensibly Stump for Another Nutjob Who Lost the Primary Anyway. During the rally, Trump asked the salivating crowd if they’d like to see NFL owners say “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired.” Their answer was yes. The next morning, Steph Curry said he would be declining the NBA championship celebration at the White House, and 45...lost it. He spent Saturday tweeting angrily at Curry and the NFL, causing owners and players alike to come out and say “Bruv, cool it. “ Even Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, issued a statement condemning the divisive language, though it didn’t call out 45 by name, shocking no one. Sunday’s games saw teams sitting, kneeling, locking arms with coaches and owners, and in some cases, staying in the locker room during the playing of the Anthem. Suddenly, kneeling has become tantamount with #Resistance or #NeverthelessShePersisted or a pussy hat. Jamil Smith puts it best, I think, for the Washington Post:
Because the NFL has treated Kaepernick badly from the start, and that didn’t change this weekend. When he first took a knee during the 2016 preseason, all the league had to say was that “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the National Anthem.” If football was a factory, this would be a notice pinned to the corkboard by the water cooler, notifying workers of a new office rule. Now that the irascible president has trained his fire on the league itself, including its commissioner and many of the same team owners who backed his candidacy, they snap to attention. But don’t let them get away with pretending to support their players who follow Kaepernick’s lead, targeted by Trump with vulgarities. Some owners have actively discouraged such protest in the past. Instead, they issued condemnations couched in flowery formalities about “unity” and whatnot.
Here’s what I ask of you- don’t let it turn into “flowery formalities about unity.” When you hear someone talking about kneeling, drive the conversation back to where it started, talk about it’s origins, the injustices that started it all. We can’t get Colin Kaepernick a job, but we can sure as hell keep his message alive. We owe him that, at least.
Earlier this month, notorious bad gyal Rihanna dropped the eponymous Fenty Beauty, the world’s most extensively *and deliberately* inclusive cosmetics line (stay ashy and mad, MakeUpForever). In the course of her career, Rihanna has sold more than 230 million records, received Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, has now created a beauty line, and, most importantly, ruined the lives of countless men. How does she do it? We have strong reason to believe that her astrological profile may provide the answers we seek. Rihanna is an Aquarius/Pisces cusp. Ruled by four different planets, Aquarius/Pisces cuspians contain MULTITUDES. RihRih is a prime example: an inherently opulent, eccentric visionary who can take people or leave them. She is at times both compassionately engaged and escapist. Her rising sign is Aries (just like KW), which means she is forthright AF and quick with a clapback. Honestly y’all, feels like we solved it.
You know what else it feels like we solved? This issue. Thanks again to the Dames for letting us take this space hostage once again, and thanks to you for reading! If you’ve enjoyed our vibe (you did), check out our podcast (right now) and come yell at us on Twitter about Nancy Meyers, Cardi, or anything your heart might desire. xoxo, GOSSIP GIRLS.
Reminder: Carol Livetweet on Sunday, October 15
Yes, friends, it’s time for another live-tweet of a splendid film. For October, we’ve chosen the very justly lauded romantic period pieceCarol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as women who fall in love in New York in the mid-1950s. Please do 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
Last Call: Third Anniversary Survey!
If you'd like to share your insights & deep thoughts about this here newsletter & its meaning to you over the last three years (or however long you've been subscribing, thank you so much for being here!), we're still taking responses to ourReader Survey. See you next week for our Anniversary Extravaganza/Dame Sophie's Lightly Expurgated Post-Harry Styles Concert Yellings!