I'm learning something about myself by listening to NPR this year: I have a strange affection for stories about abandoned places. Here's a link to a story about a grocery store in Montana that's being auctioned off, still stocked, after lying shuttered for a full year
(Click the link on the NPR page to hear the story in its entirety). And here's an episode of 'This American Life' from about 6 months ago, all about an abandoned house (and grocery store...) in New Hampshire and the narrator's search for the erstwhile owners
In the past month, I've been in Bilbao, San Sebastian, Raleigh, Oxford, London, and Rome. You might think that means that I've suddenly become a globetrotting bon vivant, eschewing all my real work for tourism. But thanks to WiFi and my laptop, this has been one of my more productive months.
Now I can worry instead about SARS. Not that I wasn't concerned before today, but just this morning, I found out that I've had a paper accepted to one of the more prestigious conferences in my field
. Good news, on its face, until you hear where the conference is happening... Toronto.
I hope that by October, this thing will have run its course; I'm desperate to do this presentation.
In general, the Brits seem to take a more relaxed attitude towards speech that might be considered to be defamatory or offensive. Mostly, this works out pretty well in the end. I don't know if it's simply a less incendiary culture or if there's less investment in identity politics, but the bottom line seems to be that unless it's egregious, people don't pay much attention to slurs or sexist speech. [I've heard more adult women refer to themselves as 'girls' than I did in the Southern US.]
That said, I just can't imagine that the Daily Mail (crap conservative tabloid read by brain-dead parochial folks) thinks nobody will mind seeing a front cover featuring a (clearly) English woman standing, hugging a traditionally-outfitted Native American (Navajo) underscored by the headline, 'Why I Married a Red Indian (And Didn't Have Any Reservations)
But it gets worse.
Inside, the story shows the same woman with the same man again, and in huge, 96 point font, it reads, 'My Heap Big Love Affair
What year is it again?
Since their first single was released in the UK yesterday, I can finally talk about the hush-hush new band, Client
I was sworn to secrecy for a long time about this project. In all fairness, I only told one person about it (Hello, Max
Half of client is Sarah Blackwood from Dubstar (or as the Brits might say it, 'Sarah Dubstar'). The other half is... well, I don't remember exactly. This is bad, since I met both of them at a dinner party last year, just as Client was starting to gestate.
Can you really blame me though, since Dubstar albums were the sole soundtrack to my late 1990s
? I was a little caught up talking with Sarah and having her scrawl the URL for their then-new website on my hand.
The new music is very lo-fi and electroclash, with delightful buzzes and clicks. It's about women and sex and power and representation, just enough of a balance to make it challenging and exciting in equal measure. Be sure to listen to a few of the online tracks, while you can.
[And our friend Dana did much of the photography for the site, so it's even better!]
I'm visiting the US this week and am finding it increasingly strange. I took a trip to a K-Mart (a surviving one) to look for a cheap bag for my tennis rackets and was completely floored to see a wall-to-wall display of CDs by some fat twit in desert camouflage, entitled 'Bomb IRAQ'. Underneath the display was a price label ($10.99) and a laser-printed sticker announcing "Fun!"
There's very little that's more depressing than stupidity, except seeing it labeled "fun".