A couple things from Christian Lorentzen’s n+1 essay worth refuting atop Emily’s gorgeous point—
-Working at a celebrity magazine copy editor at 23 is not a relateable kind of “rock bottom.” Have you seen Intervention?
-Florence, from Greenberg, was perhaps “aimless,” but she was not a loser. She was responsible, and that is not nothing. Ivan, too, was the opposite of smug. He was a big, open, messy bear. That he loved his child only made him more appealing, “the agnostic nature of life in a market economy” notwithstanding. Also, nobody else thinks that Ben Stiller’s character’s brother was “the only character possibly more despicable than Greenberg ” because of his “conventionality.” We barely knew him! Christian Lorentzen must really hate mansions.
-The phrase “sick cult of pet worship,” used to describe the vet bills around the sick dog in “Greenberg,” is straight out of an Ed Anger column from WWN. “Career, spouse, spawn” as reference to the droll conceit of “having it all” could well be lifted from an eleventh grader’s live journal.
-Calling a girl who had an abortion “fertile” is creepy.
Your Daily ’90s with Julie Klausner and Tyler Coates
Denis Leary - “Asshole”
Julie: From Denis Leary’s “novelty” file, this is sort of a companion piece to Henry Rollins’s “Liar,” but closer in spirit to Eddie Murphy’s “Party all the Time” on a generous day, or Bruce Willis’s “I’m Playing Harmonica at the House of Blues” routine the rest of the week. This was, for Leary, after his MTV promo heyday - studded with Cindy Crawford references and B&W rooftop footage, and cigarette-suckings - but before his “firefighters are the only heroes” star turn. I hate it when he yodels.
Tyler: Denis Leary was really brave to be the first white person to make fun of other white people. He pretty much does the same thing for assholes, because Denis Leary is inarguably the World’s Biggest Asshole. Seriously, he spells his name with one N, which you could argue was not his choice, but ultimately it was because you can change the spelling of your fucking name. Also, this song is pretty much representative of the worst genre of music: comedy rock. The harmonies remind me a bit of Fleet Foxes, though. My thesis statement: Denis Leary influenced every musical improv group as well as indie-rock bands with affinities for CSN&Y.
The video is here, in case you need more heavy-fisted sham vitriol in a leather blazer. Caution: lots of “text art,” ironic Americana, priest outfits, and money shots of Leary exhaling cigarette smoke in B&W, “House of Style”-era MTV rapture.
Your Daily ’90s with Julie Klausner and Tyler Coates
Deana Carter - “Did I Shave My Legs For This?”
Tyler: Country music went through a mini-revolution in the ’90s; it became poppier and louder. This might be one of the last hokey, Hee Haw-lite country hits in the vein of Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and “One’s on the Way.” Deana Carter wasn’t a crossover hit (although, seriously people? “Strawberry Wine” is in the top five best songs EVER) like Faith and Shania because her songs were sweet and funny rather than sexy. Real country music isn’t about sex: it’s about first loves, parking in pick-up trucks, and unwanted pregnancies. Oh, and shotgun marriages. This is the Real America of country music!
Julie: OOOOOHHHHHH I love a song that is also a question with an answer that doesn’t matter. There has to be a better word for what those are besides “rhetorical” and one day I’ll create it. Okay, I just have but I won’t tell you what it is - FINE IT’S CARTERLICIOUS. Okay, this song is beautiful and existential and also: a hat tip is due to Tammy Faye Starlite, whose “Did I Shave My Vagina For This?” was an important ’90s spoof. <3 u, TFS.
Your Daily ’90s with Julie Klausner and Tyler Coates
Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston - “When You Believe”
Julie: Tonight is the first night of Passover! So here is a selection from The Prince of Egypt, which is the animated Passover movie Dreamworks made in order to compete with Disney’s wonderful A Purim Story feature (NOT REAL). The story of Exodus is so powerful it united divas Mariah and Whitney, who duet on this single that is basically about unleavened bread and other miracles.
Tyler: Julie had to explain to me what Passover is. When she told me it was the story of Moses leading the Jews out of Israel, I said, “Oh! The Ten Commandments!” Gentiles celebrate Easter by watching that movie on TV because movies about crucifixion can be such a bummer (unless Jesus is played by Ted Neely; then it’s super sexy.) The Book of Exodus is one of the two parts of the Old Testament that Christians really like (the other being Leviticus because they really hate gay people), and who better to celebrate that than the two titans of ’90s R&B? In the Bible Moses parted the Red Sea; in the ’90s his spirit brought together Whitney and Mariah. It’s almost enough to make me convert!
DITTO ON NEELY AS SUPER SEXY FOX and I think Tyler SHOULD convert to the 90’s. Watch this space for more 90’s jim-jams all week. And happy rainy Pesach to my fellow East Coast Jewz.
I feel like the most important part of this piece is how you can only make self-deprecating jokes about your character’s gluttony once you’re thin enough to be on camera. See Sadie’s Jezebel post: “The Skinny Glutton” (Thanks Hortense). Liz Lemon can joke about leaving a waffle in the DVD player because Tina Fey lost enough weight to play her.
This reminds me of Ariel Levy’s point in Female Chauvinist Pigs about how much America loves a sexy girl who doesn’t actually have sex. Like when Britney was still telling everybody she was still a virgin, and Paris Hilton only looked turned on when she was posing for cameras, not fucking in front of them. Didn’t she take a phone call in the middle of that sex tape? Who even takes a phone call anymore?!
My co-worker did me the favor of uploading my appearance on “The Joy Behar show,” so I could pitch a couple of morning show producers with visual evidence that I was an “eye-contacty” and “non-muttery” author who might do well on television.
So, yesterday, I sent out two grammatically correct, professionally friendly introductory emails along with links to the press I’ve gotten so far for the book. And it wasn’t until later in the day when I checked the “sent” folder for that Behar link when I realized I’d accidentally emailed them, under the preface of “Here’s an appearance I did on the Joy Behar Show with Lori Gottlieb,” a link to this YouTube video of four guinea pigs eating a slice of watermelon.
You know, if you pretend the guinea pigs are women in HD make-up discussing dating, it’s actually a better clip. I’m just kidding! It’s not capable of being better.
While everybody in my social network was loudly mourning the death of Alex Chilton online (no disrespect), last night brought a different crisis in the form of an unexpected Splenda shortage in the Klausner household.
Pictured: “NOOOO! Seal”
I got by with some Equal Granular, as I’m wont to do in a pinch, but I guess I’m just saying that God only gives us the terrible things we can handle.
Related: earlier in the week, I had the nerve to complain to friends about some moron on Tumblr (no link! UNEARNED) calling me “so high maintenance and stereotypically Jewish” in my writing that it “irriated [sic] the shit out of her.” Who’s JAP-ping now?
While Julie is a Jew with a thing for Easter candy, I am a gentile with a thing for Manischewitz coconut marshmallows. I propose a solution for us both: bunny shaped chocolate covered Manischewitz marshmallows.
JESSE:I really love Russia. I really think we need to talk about HEAD OF THE CLASS's trip to Russia more
ME:Nothing was more 80's than Russia. Do you know about FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME 2?
ME:It was the 80's SQUEAKWEL wherein Marlo just talked to elementary school kids in the US about how kids in Russia weren't different. And then the kids video-conferenced. And they asked each other questions like "Do you like blue jeans?" "I have a sister, do you have a sister?" It's like a Q&A for an hour and a half. No songs. No celebrities.
ME:OH WAIT--Penn & Teller are on it.
JESSE:I love finding common ground. Like on things like "do you like jeans"
ME:Denim is universal
JESSE:I think we should start wearing Hypercolor.
ME:Oh totally. Those were worth every penny
JESSE:If you breathed on them they changed color
ME:What happened if you washed them in the machine?
“The next six hours were a modern fairy tale, during which Lee called her mother twice with breathless updates. Joel treated her and her friend to a lavish dinner that included white truffles at one of his favorite Italian restaurants, then spirited them to a Broadway theater for the final minutes of “Movin’ Out,” the Twyla Tharp production based on his music. He even got up onstage to sing. Lee assumed it was a regular gig but learned much later that he was trying to impress her. “It’s a good bag of tricks to have,” she said.”—The Frank Bruni piece on Katie Lee Joel in today’s New York Times Magazine is worth pulling yourself away from the “Mommy Blogs and Branding” article for.
I’m back from Miami and home in NYC, which is having a big fat weather temper tantrum with tears and everything. It’s not as bad here as it is in Westchester. My mother told me that Scarsdale has declared itself in a state of emergency, and how that could be a good comedy routine for me to riff on. A Scarsdale state of emergency? That’s when the Starbucks near the train station runs out of skim, right? There, mom.
Also, I feel compelled to mention that even though the Jews have since left Miami for its outskirts, my skin is FLAWLESS when I’m down there. It’s one of those “I’m meant to live here” kind of cues by way of your pores, I guess. Though If you went by my hair, I’d be singing a different tune—maybe a spoof of Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy” called “Frizzy”? I’m just brainstorming.
So down In Florida, we drove an hour out of the city to Delray Beach just to visit the last authentic Jewish deli since Wolfie’s closed down. We were the youngest and least difficult patrons of 3G’s by far, and you could smell the soup from the parking lot. Next to our table were Ruth and Abe, who told us which flea market was a waste of time, and how Glick’s is the place for pre-made kugel you can throw in the fridge. They were from the Bronx, and agreed that 3G’s makes the best rye bread that is possible for humans to make.
3G’s, it’s important for you to know, is in a strip mall next to a women’s clothing boutique called “A Passion for Fashion.”
After lunch, we went down to Boca for Frozen Yogurt; Brendy’s still has all the Atkins stuff. We didn’t make it out to Sawgrass Mills, despite Doree’s glowing recommendation. Apparently, Sawgrass is the mall that makes you send Woodbury Commons a break-up text, with a plotz-worthy Neiman and a pretty remarkable sentence about the alligator statue from its Wiki:
"In 1991, one year after the mall opened, the mall was closed for a period of three weeks after three alligators attacked several shoppers. The alligator statue seen today in the mall area is in honor of those victims."
Maybe after people stopped making movies like Private Benjamin and Troop Beverly Hills and even Clueless (CHER HOROWITZ!), what was once perceived as JAPPY became a quality that became more Paris Hiltonian—insipid and vapid instead of educated and indulgent. When you remove from the zeitgeist the specificity and humor of what is distinctively Semitic—both in its inception and its performance—then girls who don’t feel like passing themselves off as lower-middle class and outdoorsy will be shrugged off as shallow Cosmo-slurpers hungry for the trappings of entitlement. See also, “women who write about sex.”
Yesterday we saw a manatee and today we snorkeled and there was pie after, and the hotel has huge tubs, so you know. I wonder what the poor people are doing; only “poor” in this case actually just means “not here” and “people” actually means “me, only five days ago, when I was still spasmed by stress and cold, and not nearly as full of pie.”
I named the manatee Meredith, btw. The male version of that name, like Wilson, or Burgess.
You know you’ve ordered too much sushi when the lady at the register asks you how many pairs of chopsticks you’ll be needing. Related: my extremely relatable “You know you’ve ordered too much sushi when…” comedy routine will eclipse Jeff Foxworthy’s career.