Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm a rich white girl and it's plain to see

Last Friday, I wrote a post with a lot of music in it. I did that because someone was like, hey, what kind of music do you listen to? And that was my answer. Then this person read that post, or listened to it, and they said they were expecting more women singing. And because I view everything that presents itself in front of me as some kind of a personal challenge, I set about putting together another post that's all ladies.

"Living Proof," Cat Power

"I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By," Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige

"I Get Crazy," Nicki Minaj

"Wise Up," Aimee Mann

"Gloomy Sunday," Diamanda Galas

"Black Is the Color (Of My True Love's Hair)," Nina Simone

"A Sorta Fairytale," Tori Amos

"Love to Love You Baby," Donna Summer

"All the Drugs," Courtney Love

"Glory Box," Portishead

"Broken Homes," Tricky featuring PJ Harvey

"Don't Make Waves," The Gossip

"Stupid Girl," Garbage

"Money Can't Buy It," Annie Lennox

"What It Feels Like for a Girl," Madonna

"Thank You," Alanis Morissette

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I get email

Good Day Susannah,

I'm actually not very sure as for the reason I'm emailing you. Nevertheless, I have started so I think I should carry on.

Perhaps I should say one reason is that you triggered my curiosity in a very particular way. Let's see, you are a successful writer who in addition has an affair with photography, you travel a lot, you are intelligent, entrepreneur and very appealing... I can't help feeling true admiration for you.

It is not my intention to bug you with flattering comments, and to be honest, I'm not sure I have an intention at all. I just felt something moved inside me when I learned about you nearly 8 minutes ago (shame on me) and I immediately thought on sending you a message. To touch base. To make sure you're real. Maybe, hopelessly looking forward to a reply and moreover, a bond between us.

If you got this far reading, I feel lucky, and yet I ask you to please allow me to try to express what I think crossed my mind and excited my whole self. You could either be "THE kind of woman" I've always dreamed of, at the same time you represent all I've ever wanted to be and accomplish myself. Ha, I feel silly, I'm saying I have a crush on you and that I envy you all at the same time!

Anyways... I enjoy writing but never have been really good at it. I'd love to be a photographer as I like taking pictures a lot and I tend to look for good compositions, lots of drama or capturing emotions... I hardly accomplish that, but I refuse to give up. I have travelling around the world has been extremely poor, despite the fact I savor each and every trip. And, at last but not least, I have a really hard time expressing my self, my emotions, my thoughts, my insights, anything. I mostly have an internal storm of ideas, feelings, projects, opinions, deep in the dark and sometimes they never get to see light.

So, to make a long story short... I think you are great as you do get to speak Susannah's voice out of its silence.

Woman... you are the man!!!

[Image via This Isn't Happiness]

We will do, then we will understand

A few months ago, I wrote about Sparrow Songs, a year-long project in which filmmaker Alex Jablonski and cinematographer Michael Totten are making one short documenatry a month for a year. It's a terrific project -- beautifully shot, quietly profound -- and I think some of the best documentary film work being done on Los Angeles.

This month, they are halfway through their project. The most recent installment is "L'Arche," and I could tell you what it's about, but it's about everything; it's about life. "Learning Music" is about love. "Porn Star Karaoke" is about just that. And "The Donut Shop" -- well, it's not about doughnuts.

[Sparrow Songs]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Virginia rejected license plates exposed!

I called up the DMV. I wrote down a bunch of obscene acronyms. On the internet, they call this "original reporting."
"Surely, Virginia has a unique relationship to politics. Among the more provocative politically-themed plates rejected in ‘09: 'EFOBAMA,' 'OBMASX,' and 'FPALIN.' It was unclear if others were political or sexual: 'TBAG4U,' 'TBAGGER,' 'TBAGGNU.' In 2003, 'Choose Life' plates generated public debate. 2009 saw a lone 'ABORT.' Then, there was 'DEMOCRP.' But, without a doubt, the most enigmatic possible political plate message was 'H8KSM.' A reference to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or an all-girl teen rock band? We may never know."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Letters from men who watch pornography

If you've read this blog previously, you may be aware of two projects I've done involving letters. The first installment in The Letters Project was Letters from Johns, which featured letters from men about their experiences paying for sex. The second was Letters from Working Girls, which featured letters from working girls about their lives.

Both projects lasted one year. The johns project featured 51 letters. The working girls project featured 18 letters. I wrote about The Letters Project for when the Eliot Spitzer-call girl story broke. The project was mentioned on And Susie Bright proclaimed it "riveting reading."

In the last six months, I've been trying to decide which project I want to do next. I have a day job, I'm working on a novel, and I'm blogging at True/Slant. I have another project in the wings, but I'm not ready to launch it yet. Last weekend, I took a break from my novel, and I came across this post by Richard Galbraith. I'd read the post before, but for some reason it caused something to click in my head, and I realized that I wanted to do another installment of the letters project, this time focusing on men's relationship to porn.

I don't know why this idea hadn't occurred to me already. (Or maybe it had.) After all, I've been writing about the adult movie industry for 13 years. The idea of The Letters Project is simple. A call goes out. A letter comes in. A cacophony of voices tells a story that had remained untold until now.

The third installment of The Letters Project is Letters from Men Who Watch Pornography. I thought about calling it Letters from Porn Marks, which is a derogatory term used by adult industry insiders to describe men who consume copious amounts of porn, but I thought that might be too inside baseball, not to mention off-putting. I found this title amusing.

When I started the johns project, I posted a note on the site that warned something to the effect of: "These are not jerk-off stories." I was attempting to discourage anyone who was thinking about sending me a tale better suited for publication on The Erotic Review. Those types sent their letters anyway. They were also the types who wrote follow up letters, first wondering, and then complaining, when would their letters be published? They never were.

There is much known about pornography, or at least much of it to see, but less is known about the reasons why men consume porn, outside of scientific studies and biased pseudo-research. This project pretends to be neither a study nor scientific, but it may bear fruit that sheds interesting light on the intimate relationship between men and porn.

All letters remain anonymous. The best letters are unabashed in their honesty. (See: #30, #25, #21.) If you're interested in submitting a letter to Letters from Men Who Watch Pornography, you may do so here. (NB: The other two projects are closed and no longer accept submissions.)

And, no, I won't be creating a Letters from Women Who Watch Pornography companion project. Yes, women watch porn, too, but men are the primary consumers of pornography [link via Siege], and I don't expect that to change any time soon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Press rewind if I haven't blown your mind

The other day, someone was like, what kind of music do you listen to? And I was like, fuck if I know. I never buy CDs or download music, or whatever it is you people do. Don't mostly guys do that shit? Who knows. Anyway, I do listen to random music that I encounter on the interwebs, but I listen to it mostly on YouTube. Is that strange? Am I the only one? Probably. I'm so fucking singular it fucking blows my own mind. Anyhoo, enjoy your weekend music remix.

"Anenome," The Brian Jonestown Massacre

"The Homeless Wanderer," Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou

"Way Down," N.A.S.A.

"Heart of Stone," The Raveonettes

"Walk Don't Run," U900

"Go with the Flow," Queens of the Stone Age

"We Had Love," The Scientists

"Wood," The Dead Pirates

"Smokin' on da Dro [Alice in Wonderland Version]," Three 6 Mafia

"The Outsider [Typographic Animation Version]," DJ Shadow

"Head Get Mangled," Newham Generals

"Way Down in the Hole," M.I.A. featuring Blaqstarr

"Honkin' (On My Crack Pipe)," Paul Steel

"Honey Honey," Feist

"House of Cards," Radiohead

"She Is the New Thing," The Horrors

Obama and the case of obscenity

"If you get the impression from [US Attorney General Eric] Holder that the current administration has little interest in pursuing obscenity prosecutions, you’d probably be right. Whether you believe the reason is 'First Amendment considerations,' a limited budget, perceived lack of public interest, or all of the above, you’d probably be right about that, too."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I get email


Am Mr Percy smith and i would like to buy some meat ginders from your store. And what are the prices for the ones you have in stock? When would they be ready for pick up?And what type of payment do you gladly accept?Please Advise


Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't let nobody get you down

I took this photo, Mr. Nobody, in 2001 on the set of a bukkake movie that ended up being deemed obscene by the US government.

This is one of what is referred to as the "bukkake boys." The director, Jim Powers, found the guys by putting an ad in the local weekly with the number of a "bukkake hotline" where they would leave a message saying they were planning on attending. For their troubles, they were paid $35; although, I think eventually that went up to $50.

Usually, there was somewhere between 50 and 100 guys there. The shoot took place on a ratty sound stage in a quiet, suburban neighborhood in North Hollywood. NoHo is the epitome of the Other Hollywood and kind of a dump. The stage had cement floors, exposed ceilings, apricot-colored walls. Before it was about to begin, cars would start coming down the street and pull into the parking lot of the neighborhood park across the street.

A big black guy stood guard at the door. The men were funneled into the front holding room, where they formed two lines to show the two Latino women working behind a desk their paperwork. They were handed a black garbage bag and told to strip. Then they waited in their underpants, shoes and socks, bandanas tied over their faces and their hats pulled down low to hide their faces from the cameras.

Eventually, Jim would let all the guys on the stage, the girl would appear, and the bukkake would begin.

The men came from all walks of life. Jim would make jokes about how they had just gotten out of prison, which in some cases was true. There was a "real" filmmaker from Hollywood in a ski mask, a mentally-disabled redhead they called Corn who turned away from the action to focus on a dirty magazine balanced on a barrel, a guy who told me he was there because he didn't have a girlfriend.

I wandered around the periphery while the cameras rolled. After a while, the PA with one hand waved for me to come over, and I headed into the middle of the action. I stood behind Jim, looking over his shoulder. I squatted in front of the girl. The floor was a mess.

Years later, I had all these photos on a CD, and the disc stopped working. With a few exceptions, it appeared, all the photos were gone. I dug it up again this weekend, and lo' and behold, it worked. There they were again.

About 10 focus on the guys. A long-haired, shirtless guy in jeans coming onto the stage around a corner. An Asian guy in Groucho Marx glasses standing over the girl. A middle-aged guy with a potbelly looking lost in striped boxers.

This guy has always stuck in my head. I held up my camera like I was asking if I could take his picture, and he moved his head in such a way that indicated I could. Judging by his tattoos, he appears to have been affiliated at some point with an "SFV," aka San Fernando Valley, gang. (SFV Skins?) His tattoo reads: "Don't Let Nobody Get You Down."

A love song for Jeffrey Dahmer

Over on True/Slant, I interviewed singer-songwriter Dudley Saunders about his serial killer love track, "Love Song for Jeffrey Dahmer."
"The second thought is that, when I hit New York, I felt like a ghost to myself, like I could look in the mirror and not see anybody there. I had no idea who I was, and I knew I was forbidden to find out. But somehow I got this sense that the things that made me scared or uncomfortable or upset were like little signposts to who I really was, and if I could only go straight into those things, I might find out what was hiding in there."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hey, it's Friday

Well, this certainly was an interesting week. I haven't been called an "asshole" that many times since, well, last week. In case you missed any of the action, you can read my pièce de résistance post on trigger warnings and why they don't work here.

After a while, the whole thing got kind of depressing, not because of comments like, "She's not warm enough or deep enough to be a cunt," but because a) critiquing feminism is like shooting fish in a barrel, b) any purported counterargument amounted to "you're stupid," and c) it is too often the case on the internet that there is a profound lack of formidable opponents.

And who wants to be the Anderson Silva of the blogosphere?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where the girls aren't

"We'd ended up in the Korengal valley, a place of everglade beauty, screeching monkeys, and gruff mountain tribes. 'It's really not fit for women,' the media affairs guy had said. 'There's nowhere for you to sleep.' 'Then we'll go,' we'd said. That's where we wanted to be: the place not fit for women. By which I guess he meant male, smelly, rough. We were doing a story on air strikes and civilian casualties, and I wanted the point of view of the soldiers dropping the bombs."
-- Elizabeth Rubin, "Mother Courage: Being Pregnant on the Frontline"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I wrote a post on True/Slant about feminist blogger abuse of TRIGGER WARNINGS which are supposed to signal you that SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN because blog posts are SCARY and if you do not understand this you are a CERTIFIABLE ASSHOLE.
"After some in-depth research (like, half an hour, maybe?), I was able to conclude that, for whatever reason, the feminists are all over their TRIGGER WARNINGS, applying them like a Southern cook applies Pam cooking spray to an overused nonstick frying pan. It’s almost impressive, really. I guess the idea is that blog posts are TOTALLY SCARY, and if you are EASILY UPSET, if you see a TRIGGER WARNING coming, you can look away REALLY FAST, or click elsewhere, so you won’t, you know, FREAK THE FUCK OUT."
Since, I've been proclaimed a certifiable asshole, willfully ignorant, an invalidator, a non-friendly in the "cold, uncaring place" that is cyberspace, cruel, mocking, Glenn Beck-esque, an "Internet tough guy," "Teabaggerian," basely ignorant and lacking in empathy, simple, "a fucking tool," "an unsophisticated thinker," worse than moronic, "dangerous," a crappy journalist, a poor googler, lacking in analytical skills, someone who can use my "melon as a hat rack," a troll, "disgusting," a "supercilious asshole," "warped," incapable of empathy, intellectually dishonest, a "Sister F***er," "purposely obtuse and beyond help," and "the kind of person who’d take [my] Vietnam-veteran granddad to see The Deer Hunter without warning him that it’s not actually about hunting deer."

Those were only the comments from my True/Slant blog. I didn't bother reading the comments here, here, and here. Oh, and this guy compares me to a "a festering boil on [his] neck." And I'm not even getting into the hate mail.

On the other hand, writer and best friend Lydia showed up and weighed in, as well:
"Or what if we could just be honest, and admit that when the topic of the blog is feminism, the TRIGGER WARNING on every other post is like a flashing neon sign, attracting *more* attention to a particularly explicit post, even as it purports to deflect the attention of those to whom it might actually be relevant."
Additionally, remember when the guys at called me a "dumb cunt," etc.? Well, apparently, they've had a change of heart, as they showed up, too.

I wish someone had put a TRIGGER WARNING in front of the comments; then, I wouldn't have read them at all. Unfortunately, it seems the fact that I put a TRIGGER WARNING in the title of my post, "Trigger Warning: This Blog Post May Freak You the F*** Out," didn't dissuade TRIGGER WARNING advocates from reading it. Funny how those TRIGGER WARNINGS work, isn't it?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Let's all get politically incorrect

Last week I mentioned I was interviewed on KPCC radio.

I wrote about my experience on that show, "Politically Incorrect," and obtusely posited 21st century journalism as its own unique brand of prostitution on True/Slant here.

If you want to listen to me sound like a 14-year-old, get indignant, and talk about teachable moments, the show is online here.

I haz shower

A few weeks ago, when I was in NYC, photographer and friend Clayton Cubitt, aka Siege, took some photographs of me. We took them in the beautiful red bathroom of his bento box-esque apartment in Williamsburg.

We've known each other for years, but he hadn't taken photos of me previously, except for some B&W documentation of a group trek from Chinatown to "Avatar" on Christmas. As you can see, I am tall.

And this is me shooting him.

We did a few different ones, including these, me behind the shower curtain that looks like that stuff you drive through in a car wash, and several in which I was attempting to pull the skin off my face a la "Brazil."

Later, he had me stand in the living room and shake my head back and forth really fast, which he called "shaky-face." If I ever run for public office, he can use those to blackmail me. As I noted when I saw them, they look like I'm a recent arrival to a mental institution, and I won't sit still for my check-in pic.

I like this one the best because I look like I'm looking into the red-hot future of the internet, and I have no idea what I'm looking at, but I'm thinking it's pretty sexy.

Click here to see it bigger.

Thanks, Siege.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy birthday, me

Technically, tomorrow is my birthday, but whatever.

Please send male strippers, overpriced chocolates, and half-dead flowers, stat.

I can't believe I'm still alive.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Snuff is the HIV of the blogosphere

Over at True/Slant, I wrote about the Apache helicopter video: "An Appetite for Snuff." To be perfectly honest, I tune out a lot on the political front. Basically, it seems like political debate these days is just one pundit hollering at another, and I fail to understand the point.

That said, the general reaction to this video really churned me into a frenzy. Liberals screaming about how it was a MASSACRE of innocents (armed with RPGs and AK-47s, but, hey, who needs facts when you're blogging?), conservatives defending it by any means necessary, and nobody really stopping to think about what it all means that we are in total debating nothing, a lot of hot air signifying puffery, misdirecting our collective attention so we can avoid the fact that it's all a protracted excuse to ogle what amounts to a snuff video.
"So, it seems, 'Roller Ball Murder' has finally come to pass. In the 21st century, death is entertainment, and the only thing that can whet our appetite is watching people die. After all, where else could we go after we all watched '2 Girls 1 Cup'? Porn is so passe, and snuff is the new, new thing. In the olden days, you had to leave the house to rent 'Faces of Death.' These days, snuff is piped into your home 24/7, and if you feel any quiver of self-revulsion at your desire to watch other people dying, you can upload the video to your blog and weigh in with your own admittedly under-informed two-cents on it. That way, you can pretend you’re engaged in, you know, a conversation. It’s not like what you’re in the business of is trading in snuff, right? No. Not you."
Posts like these that I've written in the past tend to be unpopular. Nobody, it seems, wants to look in the mirror. They'd rather watch that video one more time.


My influential books

Around the internets, some folks, economists? or something? for some reason?, have been making lists of the books that have "influenced [their] view of the world." I thought I would weigh in, because I am of great influence, have read books, and have a view of the world. This may be more a list of books that have influenced my brain/writing/worldview. Whatever.

1. Ulysses by James Joyce. Probably the greatest book ever written. You can tell because it doesn't make any sense. Until you realize it makes so much sense that if you ever truly understood how much sense it makes, your head would explode. I've spent my life trying to recapture Molly's monologue. Good luck to me on that.

2. City of Glass by Paul Auster. I may have read this book more times than any book on the planet. It's exquisitely spare. "It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not." Sigh.

3. Porn: Myths for the Twentieth Century by Robert J. Stoller, MD. This book is the italics that emphasize porn is a legitimate subject. Stoller got hit by a bus. Infinite sadness.

4. The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch. He started writing this book when he was in a concentration camp, so stop fucking whining and write your novel already, you bunch of sniveling bitches.

5. Orlando by Virginia Woolf. A novel about a human that changes sex and lives forever. What you got? Nothing. That's what. Movie is pretty great, too. I heart Tilda Swinton. Slicing at the heads of Moors is awesome.

6. The Bible by God. This one is pretty spectacular. I like the Psalms, the Apocrypha, and Revelations the best. John is also very terrific. Don't overlook it, even if you aren't a True Believer. It's great literature. "And on her forehead was a name written: 'I am a symbol of great Babylon, the mother of the harlots and of the abominations of the earth.'" I prefer the King James version.

7. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. So wonderful. Took him 20 years after the war to be ready to write it. My favorites are "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" and "How to Tell a True War Story." The book is 20 years old this year. Happy birthday, The Things They Carried.

8. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I like to think of my novel as a 21st century American Psycho. Or "Boogie Nights" meets "The Bourne Identity." Or "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" meets "Terminator." It's not easy to write a book that speaks of its time in its time. I should know. As did Melville.

9. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. The Addie part where there's a space on the page? That's some écriture féminine right there. Leave it to the man from Mississippi to put Hélène Cixous to shame. If you liked Yoknapatawpha County, if you loved Caddy Compson, if you can't get enough of the great, sprawling, brawling Mississippi River, read this book.

10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. This was the book of my childhood. Writing is looking for portals to other worlds in the backs of wardrobes for the rest of your life. Don't end up hanging in one if you can't find Narnia. Being a writer isn't an easy job, but, dammit, somebody's got to do it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Things famous people have said to me

1. Bill Maher: "I'd have to go up on you."

2. Candice Bergen: "Well, duh."

3. Little Richard: "How can I get some?"

4. Mickey Rourke: "Do you know that girl, that German girl?"

5. Ron Jeremy: "I'm not talking to you anymore."

6. Angelina Jolie: "I'm wearing [?]."

7. Chuck D.: "I see what you're doing now."

8. Hugh Hefner: "Nice to meet you."

9. [Redacted]: "I don't really like to have sex."

10. Bishop Don Magic Juan: "I'm gonna call you Angel."

[Music via This Isn't Happiness]

Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm on the radio (updated)

Today, I'll be on 89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, talking about this blog post.

The issue at hand is The Entryway, a project two young Caucasian women journalists created that is based on their experiences self-embedding in MacArthur Park. Several have spoken out against the project, suggesting it's racist, while others have been more supportive. I'll be arguing the latter.

Check back here for details.

Update: This episode of "Off-Ramp" will air this Saturday. I'll post the details when I have them. I believe it will be available as a podcast, as well.

Friday, April 2, 2010

White people problems

Over at True/Slant, I blogged about two white girls who are taking heat because they decided to go live with a family from Mexico in MacArthur Park, which is in Los Angeles.

Basically, the complaint is that white people are chock full o' inherent privilege, only people of certain races or classes can write about other people in those races or classes, and if you don't follow these rules, you are not in the club.

This thinking is asinine, stupid, and also boring. Who is anyone to define journalism? Who dictates what is politically correct and what is not? At least the two broads at hand got off their asses and did something other than claim revomited content as reporting and bitch and whine because they got called gossip bloggers for spreading rumors or whatever it is they do over there.