Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Flowers


Flowers, Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I get email


At least you have breast cancer. Imagine having to deal with everyone who knows you, knowing that they know you have cancer of the asshole!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Diagnosis


I found out I have breast cancer. The good news is that it appears to be early stage and the most treatable kind. I guess this is what they call a best-case-worst-case scenario.

"The Business About My Breasts":
I’m at Costco when the call comes the next day. The call was supposed to come between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., but the call comes at 2 p.m., so as soon as I look at the phone, I know something’s wrong. The radiologist asks if this is a good time to talk. I look around. I’m in a Costco. What am I supposed to say? No, let’s talk when I’m at McDonald’s. Or, How about you call me back in a week? Or, If it’s possible to not have this call at all, that will be preferable. Instead, I tell her, Yes, now is a good time to talk.

Are you sitting down? the radiologist asks.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Letters


Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs is proving to be the most popular letters project thus far. I've posted several new letters. There are a total of 17 letters at this time.

A literary agent approached me about turning the project into a book, but I am dubious regarding an editor buying it. Editors don't seem to get the value of these sorts of projects. They come from another world.
She’s only been dancing for 2 weeks and confesses she’s still nervous. She won’t do all nude and says 'I don’t know if I’ll ever be that kind of girl.' I get a private dance with her and though I can’t touch her (others will let you) having her lissome body pressed against mine feels great. It’s the only touch I’ve had with a woman in a long time. And yes, the fact that I’m having to pay for it does come into play. It makes it feel less substantial, like I’m trying to embrace her form in front of me but keep closing my arms around empty air. It’s not backed up by the meaningfulness of intimacy with someone you love (or at least really like). Still, it starts to fill me up even as it awakens more unmet desires.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Salon


Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory interviewed me about Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs.

"Men's Strip Club Confessions": 
Getting back to the latest “Letters” project, what have you learned from it so far?

The “Letters” projects have been of varying success, but I love it as a genre because I find the letters very endearing. I’m always kind of surprised by how enamored men are by women. What I see as a sub-context in the latest project is how much power the stripper has. She’s the focus. It’s not about a guy manipulating some woman to get what he wants, it’s about, “I have to pay to get this girl to even pay attention to me and when she does, she gives me the thing that I want that I can’t get at work and I can’t get from my wife and can’t get by myself,” and I think they’re sort of awed by that.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Vegas, baby




The Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

Friday, November 18, 2011

Porn and misogyny


O, HAI, it's my good old friend porn.

A Slate blogger wrote an almost willfully stupid assessment of porn, which I saw fit to write about on my Forbes blog.

She said porn is misogynist. I say you are not the male sexual fantasy police, feminism.

"Why the Porn Business Isn't Misogynist":
Here’s the truth about porn: It’s an expression of male desire. Watch a porn movie, and you’re seeing male fantasies projected onto a screen, a facsimile or simulacrum of real fantasies that exist in real minds in real men. Unfortunately for Marcotte, she cannot control those desires and those desires are not always politically correct. What men want — in their dreams, in their masturbatory reveries, in their sex lives — doesn’t adhere to what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s sexist and what isn’t, what’s OK with Marcotte and her feminist sisterhood and what the truth is that a man thinks about when it comes to sex.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

I get comments


Okay. Just had to weigh in on this.

Anybody. ANYBODY who compares you to Andrea Dworkin is a psychopathic F**knuggit who should die screaming their last syllable as they burn in the storm of a thousand suns.

Yeah. I'm a big fan, but the whole Drowkin comparison is so wildly off-base.

It's like comparing you to Robert DeNiro or Agustus Flavius.

WTF??!! Seriously.

In what universe is there a molecule of comparison between Susanna Breslin and that bad-sh*t crazy old fat-basket?

Is this the adults' table, or are we eating ice cream and wearing a paper hat at Timmy's birthday party?
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meet Frances Bridges


My latest Forbes post is a profile of sorts, and it's a how-to. If you're a twenty-something woman looking for a job, you may be interested in reading about Frances Bridges.

"How to Get a Job If You're a Twentysomething Woman":
But Frances Bridges the person has something else going for her that is very important. She is very pretty. That’s one of the first things I noticed about her. Because I wanted to know who had written to me asking for help, and part of that was wondering what she looked like, so I googled her. Frances is very tall, and she has long, shiny brown hair, and she has big, soulful eyes. There is something about her that probably drives young men her age insane with wanting to get at whatever lies at the bottom of Frances Bridges.
I really like Frances. I think she is very dear.

Some people responded negatively to the post, and some people responded positively, but I think that is beside the point. I think the most important part of the post is the part where Frances gets what she wants.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Stripclubland


Not long ago, I created Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs. The first letters blog I created was Letters from Johns. The strip club one was born out of a series I'm doing on my Forbes blog.

So far, I've gotten 12 letters.

Email me HERE if you want to add your anonymous letter to this project.
Now we live in a suburb up the street from one. She is very serious when she says she would have been a stripper if she’d had the body for it. I have to be honest and admit the same. Even if that honesty is mostly me trying to be interesting. I also have to admit that I will probably visit the one down the street eventually. I’ll take the excuse as soon as it presents itself to tell myself that it’s research. I actually DO want to legalize brothels and popularize burlesque houses as a way to make strip clubs less a depressing lie for everyone. Even if I never go inside another one I’ll always be pretending I’m some kind of enlightened porn-cocoon butterfly rather than just another porn fly. That truth seems less depressing than a lie, and maybe a little more erotic.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

NYC


Hotel, New York City, New York

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm a train


If you're in Chicago, you can see me read tonight as part of The Encyclopedia Show. Tonight's theme is Railroad. I'll be reading a story about a Chinese man.

Here's the show info:
Date of Event: November 9, 2011

Time: 7:30PM

Location of Event: Vittum Theater. 1012 N Noble Street, Chicago

Tickets: $8 general admission. $5 students
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Doc


The only thing more horrifying than going to the doctor and getting bad news is going to the doctor and finding out you have to go back in a week to find out if you get good news or bad news.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Take my advice


Here's something new I wrote on my Forbes blog: "The Best and Worst Advice I've Ever Gotten."
1. Sometimes when you try to do something faster, it takes longer.

I learned this one from my father. It’s the only advice he gave me that I remember. Now he’s dead, so it’s all I got. Interestingly, I continue to make this mistake. I fail at this on a regular basis. So, maybe my father’s advice was really about being mindful, and how sometimes when you slow down, everything hurries up around you.
For the past couple months, I've been struggling with something at Forbes. Basically, when I signed the contract, without realizing what I was doing, I gave them permission to syndicate the content of my Forbes blog, Pink Slipped, and now my Forbes blog posts are republished on Yahoo.

There's been this whole back and forth thing over this for some time, about how it was a glitch, and supposedly it's ending soon, and it goes on and on, but mostly it's really frustrating. Depressing, actually. Because I am paid for how much traffic I get at my Forbes blog, and when your content is republished by another site -- in August, Yahoo Sites had over 177 million unique visitors -- you are fucked.

Here's an example.

A week ago, I published a post on Forbes: "How Not to Get a Job at Yahoo." Ironic, right? I'd been holding off on saying anything about any of this because I was up for this blogging job at Yahoo, but I didn't get it, and then I wrote a post about that, not getting the Yahoo job, a post in which I referred to Yahoo as a "dead, 12-armed octopus sprawled in the sand at your feet and trying to figure out which tentacled limb it fed itself with." And Yahoo republished it.

Look at how terrible the republished post looks here: Ugh. For a time, Yahoo appeared to be stripping out the links back to my Forbes blog that I put in at the end. Sigh.

One reason I find this so difficult is that Lewis DVorkin, who is the Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media, is very open and transparent about how blogging works at Forbes.com, and has written really interesting stuff about the new digital newsroom, and seems very pro-journalist. He has been supportive of my work, but how is republishing of the sort that I outlined above pro-journalist?

To be clear, as someone who likes to take responsibility for things, I signed the contract. I think everything they're doing is kosher. But is it smart?

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Hold that note


Probably the favorite moment of my trip to New York City is when I was standing in the back of the Beacon Theater filled with several thousand people, and before the show itself started, the band was playing, and Mark Pender, Conan's trumpet player, was doing this thing where he plays a note on the trumpet, non-stop, for this terrifically long time, like so long you can't believe it's real, and everyone shouts, over and over again, "Hold that note!" while he goes up and down the aisles and across the stage of this beautiful, packed gold theater, and he's still playing this note. It was really spectacular. To see something live that was so incomprehensible you almost couldn't believe it, but it was real, and it wasn't YouTube, and it wasn't Photoshopped. It seemed like a metaphor to me. For how to do things right. You just find your note, and you keep playing it, for as long as you can, and maybe there's an audience.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where the boys aren't

"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."
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Team Coco in NYC


I went to NYC to hang out with the Team Coco crew and see Conan tape his show live at the Beacon Theater. (I work with Team Coco.) It was a super great time. The best time I've had in a while. I loved being backstage, and being in the war room, and meeting Conan, and watching the writers perform at a comedy club, and meeting people I work with and hadn't met before. Great trip!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Letters from men who go to strip clubs


Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs. It's not the prettiest name, but it'll do.

For those of you who have been following for years, you'll remember in 2008, I created Letters from Johns, a year-long online project featuring email letters I received from men about why they paid for sex. That project became quite popular a few months after it was launched when Eliot Spitzer was busted for hiring call girls. Here's the piece I wrote about it in Newsweek.

Subsequently, I created Letters from Working Girls, which never really took off, I theorized because the women were too busy out there living the life. I also created Letters from Men Who Watch Pornography, which was a dud, probably because to think about porn analytically kills the desire one experiences in relationship to it.

Last week, I posted five more installments of my How Your Journalism Sausage Gets Made series on my Forbes blog, which focuses on the strip club economy, including one post where I asked readers why they go to strip clubs. The next day, I published three of the letters I received. A few days later, I'd received a half-dozen letters, so I created Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs.

I like doing The Letters Project for several reasons. Because it's self-directed. Because it gives me and others a window into a mindset that may not otherwise be revealed. Because I think confessions are a sort of fascinating, dynamic genre. Because with every year that passes for me as a journalist, I believe more and more that the only way someone can understand something is by listening to a cacophony of voices. This is that cacophony.

Why didn't I include why women go to strip clubs? Why women go to strip clubs isn't of particular interest to me. Most of the people that go to strip clubs are men. Why Men and Women Go to Strip Clubs was even more awkward than the title I already had. (And, no, I will not create another site called Why Women Go to Strip Clubs because a), as I mentioned before, I'm not really that interested, and b) there won't be very many letters.)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, probably to remind myself more than anything else: I've covered a lot of things as a journalist: movies, celebrities, technology, sex, fashion, war, and more, but I think the common thread that interests me is men. Why? I don't know. If I figured that out, I probably wouldn't be interested anymore.

Send me your letters about why you go to strip clubs: EMAIL. Or share the link with a friend who may be interested. All letters are anonymous.

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