The Party's Still Raging, But Now We've Got Tunes
We keep trying to be mad and #NormalizeLadyRage
But your responses to last week's Bossy Take on women and anger have us all likeYou guys are AMAZING. The thoughts you shared (and are still sharing!) over at the #NormalizeLadyRage hashtag on Twitter have been so great that Dame Sophie went ahead and Storify'd them-- go read how smart you all are!
In those replies, many of you mentioned the devastating open letter written by the Stanford Survivor in the Brock Turner case/the resulting sentencing, something we're calling out just in case there's anyone in our subscriber base who has yet to read the piece, or Joe Biden's deeply moving response. I (Dame Margaret) do not want to overpraise Biden for saying things that many, many women have said before him, but at the same time I cannot deny how meaningful to receive a message of such unambiguous support from a sitting vice president.
We are so proud of what we wrote, and so glad we had the time and wherewithal to write it. Thanks for that time and wherewithal are due directly to our 143 Patreon supporters. Their donations allow us to bring in guest editors which gives us the time and space we need to write long-form original pieces while also working full-time jobs and living full-time lives. Thanks, guys, for helping Dames Nation be all that it can be!
Bossy Spotlight: Music, Music, Music!
You'd be amazed how much time Dame Margaret can spend browsing Soul Train gifs...
Y’all know how much we love music. We text & tweet about it constantly, we’re always working on playlists & swapping recommendations with friends. SO it's hardly a surprise that it's a major facet of our rewards for our Patreon subscribers. We are currently working on personalized playlists as a reward for our $25 subscribers and, for in our $10 subscribers' quarterly email from April, we shared some great playlists, which we are now sharing with the whole class. We hope you enjoy them!!
Dame Sophie’s Duets Fascination
Longtime readers know I am (maybe unhealthily?) fascinated with mixtapes & playlists, and am always curious to see what kind of side-eyes and encouragements Spotify has queued up for me in its Discover Weekly feature. Recently, I’ve been enjoying a lot of duets and thought I’d share some of my all-time favorites with you. I love the interplay of voices together, and the way duets are a sometimes a conversation, sometimes a competition. I put together a playlist for your listening enjoyment over on Spotify, and want to share some thoughts on a few special highlights:
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: I only recently started going through their entire joint catalog, and no surprise here: it’s all so, so good. What a pair of voices! I don’t know anything about their real-life relationship, but they sure sound like they’re feeling every word, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pair of singers more well-matched than they are.
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin: yeah, this is the song where it sounds like they are straight-up boning in the studio. A song where one partner is having the orgasm of her life, while her partner casually spits out “physical love is a dead end. DEAD END.” is...special. (That English translation comes from a version by Nick Cave & Anita Lane on Mick Harvey’s Intoxicated Man/Pink Elephants double album of English-language Gainsbourg covers, which is a great entry point to Gainsbourg’s work. BUT It’s even better in French, because of all the hissy, derisive sibilance of “L’amour physique est sans issu.”)
The Cactus Blossoms: this band of brothers just released their debut album and I CANNOT get enough of their Everly Brothers stylings. Tight, lovelorn harmonizing is one of my favorite sounds of all time. Fellow sibling act Tegan & Sara are similarly sonically delicious. I just love not being able to tell at certain points whose voice is whose.
Betty Carter & Ray Charles: their version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, is the ONE rendition of this song that I enjoy. I mean, I relish it. It doesn’t sound date-rapey to me, it sounds like what it should be: a mid-20th century dance of seduction where both partners want each other real bad, and have to figure out what rationale the woman is going to use to avoid tarnishing her reputation the next day. The problem I have with so many versions of this song is that they’re too fast. You can’t rush these verses, because the charm is in the pair’s partnership! They’re working through this dumb problem together, flirting, advancing, retreating, and ultimately saying, “oh, what the HELL? Let’s do this!” together. (Their album of duets is long out of print & doesn’t seem to be available on Spotify, but do track down the individual tracks on YouTube - they’re another wonderful voice-pairing).
Do you, too, love duets? Tell me about your favorites & what makes them special to you.
Dame Margaret’s Bridesmaid Duties-Inspired Tunefest
For the first quarter of this year, my chief responsibility in the world was being a bridesmaid. I know, I know. Right now, you’re like “Ugh, Margaret, if I wanted to know about your LIFE, I would just read your TWITTER. Tell me about THINGS YOU LIKE not WHAT YOU’RE DOING.” And: Fair. Being a bridesmaid in and of itself is not my cultural recommendation (despite the fact that I love the bride for whom I am maiding with a deep, abiding, nearly obsessive intensity). But! We dedicated to said task produced two things of interest to you, our dear darling readers:
FIRST: A mix CD-length playlist of truly excellent, and ONLY HAPPY love songs. This was a very challenging thing for me to accomplish because it turns out all my favorite love songs are sad. And happy love songs, like happy families, can sometimes feel like they’re all alike, or that they lack specificity-- as Harvey Danger puts it (in one of the songs featured, natch), “happiness writes white.” So I am unreasonably proud of this 21-song playlist of only happy love songs, all of which I love. And I think you guys will like it, too.
SECOND: (and perhaps even more important): I put together an 8+ hour playlist of songs you’d sing gleefully into a hairbrush, especially if you were a teenager between 1996-2006. This was the official soundtrack on the Bachelorette Party’s Party Bus. This one is an ongoing project (I have added at least 10 more songs while writing this up), and is designed to be put on shuffle, and “WOOOOOOOO”’d over at all summer BBQs and picnics of distinction. So don’t say my friend Michelle (married now just over one month!!) never did anything for you, okay?
Dame Margaret Literally Cannot Stop Grooving
(In your case, Rob, DEFINITELY the misery. JKJKJK love youuuuu)
Continuing with our theme of music, CAN I JUST SAY that there is an OVERWHELMING bounty of excellence to be found in NPR’s First Listen series this week? First up, there’s case/lang/veirs, the collaboration between Neko Case, k.d. Lang, and Laura Veirs which Your Dames have now been DYING to hear for months. THEN, as if that alone weren’t enough, they also have Mitski’s brash, emotional, grunge-rocky sophomore album Puberty 2, ~*AND*~ Laura Mvula’s stunning electro-soul album The Dreaming Room. Go forth and feast your ears, friends.
Adding a little fashion to your music, and inspired by the viral success of Warning: Curves Ahead’s EXCELLENT post “24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear”, I wanted to call out one of my DNGAF fashion heroes: Kam Franklin, the lead singer of Houston-based soul band The Suffers, who says she’d describe her style as “Bright. Annoying to those that don’t like bright colors”, and did a whole photoshoot with Buzzfeed illustrating the absurdity of the shaming, restrictive fashion advice usually given to plus-size women. In addition to being FANTASTIC to look at always, she’s also a phenomenal musician. You can see as much in this live set she and The Suffers performed at Seattle Radio Station KEXP OR (and this is my STRONG recommendation) you can catch them in person at one of their shows this fall. This is one of those bands you will feel really blessed to see in an intimate setting.
While we here at Dames HQ are LEGITIMATELY THRILLED to see Hillary (presumptively) become OUR FIRST female presidential candidate from a mainstream political party, we are also mourning the loss of the Obamas, AKA the greatest first family OF ALL TIME. We’re coping with our grief by imagining totally plausible ways we could realistically befriend Michelle Obama with The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri ( link courtesy of #Damespal Willa) and praising America’s Coolest Teen, Malia Obama, who graduated from high school today, ahhhhh OMGGGG!!!!
Of course, it’s also dangerous to be too nostalgic, especially when you're a white person, as this great piece from The Awl about race and time travel demonstrates-- “Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Race.”
Finally, in light of the way we like to say certain historical figures “transcended race” when what we really mean is “were retroactively deemed safe by white people,” I wanted to point you to Code Switch’s great podcast episode on the legacy of Muhammad Ali (available in their feed if you subscribe!), and this great quote from Jamil Smith’s similarly excellent tribute to the late boxing legend: “Patience alone isn’t a virtue. That was an important thing for me to learn as a young black boy. Do not just endure abuse for the sake of appearing stoic and manly, but endure with a firm purpose in mind. Endure until a pathway to victory opens. Letting your opponent believe that you’ve lost, sometimes, can be to your advantage. Granted, it isn’t the most optimistic or triumphant way to think about winning. It isn’t the classic hero’s narrative. But I learned that vital lesson better from Muhammad Ali in that ring than I did from any civil rights leader or war hero.”
Dame Sophie is So Truly Madly Deeply Ready For Summer
I have a real love-hate relationship with cooking: I love food. I’m a competent enough cook (though baking is really my main thing). And I like cooking enough that reading a really great recipe is faintly thrilling. I also work full-time and manage painful chronic migraines. Add in the heat of summer and the appeal of the pool, and for the next 3 or 4 months I’ll be executing a ridiculous psychological tap-dance with myself where I pretend to want to make dinner, but just caaaaaan’t, when the truth is: I don’t want to! But also I feel like I need to! Even though actually, I don’t! My top priority for the day when I’m Wacky Dowager Countess Rich is to hire a cook. In the meantime, I’m beefing up my repertoire of tasty, low-effort dinner recipes, while working on jettisoning my June Cleaver guilt (UGH, come talk to me about #MidCenturyNotions, they are the worst). Some current favorite resources:
Everyday Food: Great Food Fast I picked up a copy five or six years ago as an impulse buy at Home Goods and it’s become one of the books I like to give friends who want to learn to cook but don’t know where to start. The recipes are easy and clear, and many of them are year-round dinner staples for me (shout-out to Zucchini & Chicken Salad, Greek-Style Mini Lamb Burgers & Thai-Style Steak Salad!)
This headline caught my eye a few weeks ago: What We Cook When We Don't Want to Cook Anything. There’s an accompanying episode of Burnt Toast to go along with it, and I recommend them both highly as being full of good ideas to help you get nice food onto a plate quickly.
Would you believe I own zero books by Mark Bittman? There’s no good reason for that, but something I am relying on a lot lately is a hefty 2008 feature from The Minimalist, 101 Picnic Dishes to Make in 20 Minutes. This week, we enjoyed #8, Cold Peanut Noodles, and #13, Guacasalsa.
If you have a digital subscription to Cook’s Country, do yourself a favor and search their recipe library using the terms “Quick” and “Easy”. This will yield a host of delicious, foolproof entrees that you can make in an hour. Your local library is also likely to have excellent books from America’s Test Kitchen, which owns & publishes both Cook’s Country & their sister publication, Cook’s Illustrated. Cook’s Country recipes are, in the main, simpler & quicker to produce.
And finally, when you’re feeling too defeated to even do the above, remember: your favorite ice cream truck treat TOTALLY counts as dinner as long as you pair it with the right wine. (h/t #Damespal Amy)
So this week I was reading Ashley Milne-Tyte’s newsletter, which shares a name with her excellent podcast & blog, The Broad Experience. [If you’re not already listening to this biweekly podcast, now 85 episodes strong, 1) it’s broadly (ha!) about women in the workplace and 2) please listen & subscribe immediately, it is gold.] She linked in both her newsletter & on Twitter to a piece on 99u about The Creative World’s Bullshit Industrial Complex, in which the author warns against the evils of claiming expertise where you have none. The THING ABOUT THAT IS that the correct audience for that piece, the one who needs to read and internalize those tough critiques -- that is to say, bullshitters who run their mouths at every opportunity without having done the work, the “um, ACTUALLY”-ers, the sea lions-- is not the audience who will read and internalize it. The audience that will read & internalize it is women and people of color, and I have had just about enough of finger-waggy pieces like this taking up space without being answered, so I wrote a little corrective Twitter rant (Storify-ed here on my friend Bryce’s advice). It’s just a start, and I’d love to hear what members of Dames Nation think about
If you live in, near, or can visit New York City, you can go on a walking tour of landmarks from All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor’s delightful series of books about Jewish life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. If you haven’t read these books, and you enjoy utterly delightful family stories, you owe it to yourself to read them all. Book 1 has been available forever, and thanks to Lizzie Skurnick Books, they’re all back in print after a very dire couple of decades where you could only buy most titles used. Snap up your copies today at your local bookshop or library!
I’m wrapping this week’s link buffet up with a one-two punch about fandom, courtesy of my current favorite weekly newsletter about a thing I’m interested but not super-involved with, The Rec Center. Each weekly issue includes a round-up of news in fan culture, plus curated fanfiction recommendations. The first is about why we, as a culture, are so afraid of fanfiction, even though it’s a wellspring of new culture, and the way lots of writers cut their teeth. The second is the work of some beautiful genius who’s woven together GIFs from a variety of Marvel and non-Marvel sources to create Peggy & Steve’s Modern Adventures, which you should hasten to binge-read immediately.
Seriously, they're so well done!