Cheap and Pretty Trix has gotten a sense, trawling the internet, that what women are wearing to the office today is pretty much what women have been wearing from the 1930s through the 1970s.*
–’30s ditsy florals and midi length crepe dresses, an enduring body con/femme thread related to my ’60s granny dress and the ’90s rich Orange County surfer girl I saw decked out in prairie wench eyelet with slouchy boots.
–’40s jumpsuit/overalls/swing dance/zoot suit.
–’50s New Look full skirts, rockabilly jeans, and prep wear.
–’60s mod if not rocker minis, Italian cut suits and early ’60s prep wear via surf culture. I even glimpsed a version of Jackie Kennedy’s armored sleeveless two-piece on Old Navy the other day, Michele Obama’s sleeveless office sheath being the 21st century version.
–’70s, Saint Laurent’s pantsuit revolution and the long weird reign thereafter of dress-for-success ideas promulgated into the 21st century mainly by J Crew. Those suits always looked like Liverpudlian stalwart tailor Walter Smith‘s early Beatles suits to me — scrawny Italian cut pantsuits for chicks.
It’s creepy to think that what my girlfriends and I wore in the ’60s and ’70s, and my older sistacousin in the ’50s, are the silhouettes prized by millennials today. In one spasm of anachronistic fallacy cum youthful hypocrisy, a men’s wear blog tracking millennials’ fashion buying habits, says they eschew “labels” and prefer “indie or classic” clothing styles. It took me a moment to understand “labels” as wearing logos like JUICY written across the ass of your cashmere sweatpants. Or Louis Vuitton purses or bullshit rapper wear. The millennials are just snottier — how you say, more Anglo Saxon? — about their outlier labels. Spalwart, one of the athleisure wear brands preferred by millennials for its ’50s Swedish classicism, is selling a snappy $300 sneaker I wouldn’t wear out of the house.
They call them Rolexes for a reason.
You get rolled when you wear them.
What this means is 80 million millennials, the largest U.S. generation in history, made Birkenstocks the most Googled footwear for back to school last year, according to the industry rag, *Footwear*. (The piece says Birkenstock lust is the infuence of 1990s fashion. Head out ass, please.) This most influential generation prefers staying out of the stores and
— customizing their shoes, suits and dresses through online haberdashers, offering feedback to indie designers making a pant or input to bespoke mens’ tailors
— label-less and heritage fashion — Hanes underwear, Levis 501s
— socially responsible garment manufacture, sold directly to consumer on line without a store middleman, with factory/workshop worker conditions documented on the clothing sales website, for example, Everlane
— gender blur
— athleisure wear, including extortionate high tops from Jordan
We baby boomers, at 75 million, have reason to regard the tastes of this juggernaut with interest.
They’re wearing our daddy’s clothes.
Except for the asshole sneakers.
I wondered if the straight edge vibe was universal, and wondered what was happening in Paris street fashion. Adding to my deja vu, I cruised around trying to find out what millennial French girls are wearing these days. Street fashion is my God, and it’s harder than ever to find photographs passing for street fashion that are not fashion victims in haute couture heading into an haute couture fashion show.
For 60 years, I have read, every three years or so, some version of the story, 10 essentials every French girl owns.
I read one yesterday. They have bloggers doing this now, messaging Instagram French girls for their secrets.
It hasn’t changed in 60 years. Trench coat, ballet flats, scarf. I channelled this myself in a recent post on what to pack for a weekend in Morocco. Which also included the faux Jackie Kennedy two-piece, 50+ years later, ganked off Old Navy two weeks ago.
So it is with a sense of supreme confidence and creepy deja vu that Cheap and Pretty Cottons Tricked Out for the Office™ styles two outfits for millennial workadaddies.
The color palette, black and white, derives from a tour of their favored Everlane website, where sensitive zeitgeist antennae might could quiver with every click. Too Amish. Too Peter Pan. Too expensive. Puritannical. But super clean and classic, nearly iconic in its purist ’50s modernist, New Look/prep splendor.

Herewith, the Miles Standish Goes to Work Millennial collection. With just the tiniest bit of boomer street cred, And no blinkin’ irony.


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Boring basics all French girls have, 100% cotton poplin, $55, ethically sourced from Everlane, a millennial-preferred company. See the factory:


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with the white blouse, black pencil skirt, and bass weejuns, a farm to table ethically sourced scarf, with millennial provenance carefully spelled out. visit the rajasthan work shop.
$120, 75% cotton, hand printed, non-toxic dyes.

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a ring that looks like it hurts, again, farm to table from an earnest online artisan. with an earnest online statement.



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$6, pure poly, black lace footie with the bass weejuns


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Riffing on reporter Mike Schmidt’s athleisure wear jacket worn with starched shirt and tie. Athleisure a huge millennial trend.100% poly shell, $29


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$24 and 100% cotton chambray shirt, the blue version of which gave blue collar workers their name.

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Levis 501s button fly jeans. Mens’. Black. 100% cotton. Because the women’s jeans industry is exploitative and basically bullshit. And you can fit your millennial ass into these.





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A little pizzazz, for God’s sake. Please. $15 pearls woolworth’s doesn’t sell, to go with the chambray shirt and and the 501s.

*The ’80s shoulder pads and rectangular Louis XIV perm office look, vs. House of Xtravaganza club kid/Madonna/Lauper performance petticoats as outerwear/athleisure bball booty shorts deserves its own investigation. While there was a fashion revolution in the ’80s, it was definitely not about office wear for women.
Perhaps because dressing like a rockstar, who was herself dressing like bridge and tunnel club kids in downtown Manhattan, diverted, it seems, for the first time, universal rockstar youth fashions from employable youth fashion. Performance/spectacle street clothes styled by the club kids for themselves became haute couture.
You could dress like Elvis or Frank Sinatra or Fred Astaire or Louis Armstrong in the olden days and still get a job. Petticoats and plaids, not so much.

I think of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ wardrobe on *Seinfeld* (1989-98) as the hip fashion template for ’80s working girls. It was very vintagey — the ’30s dits midi, two-tone swing-dancing oxfords, a jean jacket. No Tammy Faye shoulder pads or claw bangs.




I worship those club kids of the ’70s and ’80s with their tiny tight satin basketball shorts, it was street fashion at its best.
But not for the office; performance/spectacle/rockstar wear became elided with functional work wear in the ’80s, not least as Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld spent all his time in the clubs chicken-hawking, oops, *sketching*, the kids.
There was a stylist of that era I consider the hippest chick of all time. I’ll see if I can remember her name. Not Suzanne Bartsch.
I have to downsize, purge and sell the Rancho Atomico.
Watched all eight eps of the joy through tidying guru Marie Kondo on Netflix.
I have NASFLTG™ for all the vendors of respectability and bullshit virtue through tidying, and am very suspicious of all the New Thought/New Age platitudes around freeing the chi to flow, or, a hand clenched on possessions is not open to receive them. There’s a strong connection in these platitudes to prosperity gospel and tithing — you have to give money away to make it come to you. I am super suspicious of this, given that amassing fortunes off the credulous poor — and the morally depraved rich — is traditionally what churches excel in. I am also spiritually suspicious of the conflation of economics with the operation of karma. Karma explains a whole lot, almost everything, but as my BFF New Thought guru Emmet Fox points out, Jesus [insert preferred name] is the lord of karma. Ie., Love is the only presence and the only power. Not karma is a bitch, eat shit and die.
So what is Marie Kondo and joy through tidying all about?
The Merry Mystics and I chewed it over yesterday.
Value neutrality.
The goal is *joy* for you, not a standard of Marie’s. There is no Mean Mommy System of Ethics here, and if you think there is, that’s the first thing you need to get rid of.
What joy actually means is what makes purging so extremely difficult for everyone who attempts it.
Marie also is aware of how guilty people feel letting things they think they “should” keep go. For this reason, she has them say thank you to every parting item.
I have noticed saying thank you to every dirty dish I wash gets them very clean in about 1/20th of the time. And fills me with gratitude for the splendid eating and cooking life I lead, and the bounty of the world. Classic brother Lawrence moment: Can you smoke a cigarette while praying? No, grasshopper, bad form. Can you pray while smoking a cigarette? Sure as shooting.
Presence in this eternal moment.
Not your 20-year-old skinny clothes, the remnants of your dead self.
Not your dead husband’s clothes. Or your adult children’s second grade papers.
Or the first edition books a cheating husband bought you 40 years ago on the way out the door.
Or your dead partner’s library of esoteric art history books she left to a university, not to you.
No other gods before me.
Emmet Splains this biggie here.
“….God is something that we have with us every day, in the most prosaic and ordinary things. God is not just an abstract idea up in the sky, having no meaning in everyday life. That concept is going. All kinds of people, all over the world, are beginning to get the sense of God as a present, dynamic, real power for harmony, for healing, and for freedom.”
Is it really your skinny clothes or your dead partner’s books which confer form on you, or her? God with skin on? God in the details? Is the ritual labor of chopping wood, carrying water that which actually makes you exist? Will you actually become the hole in the doughnut if you give all those soul-murdering inherited antiques away?
We really believe in the power of our things, and the aspirations they symbolize, to confer form upon our selves or the departed. One reason Philip Larkin’s famous poem, *Home Is So Sad* has so much power to floor us. It’s about the lacuna our things outline. Dang.
Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.
Joy, whatever that may be, fills the lacuna. It is our authentic being and self, co-created with God.
I suspect it has to do with something New Thought BFF Emma Curtis Hopkins writes about. The joy of walking through the created universe, the universe of thingness through which God’s abundance and agency for manifestation shine. I can’t find her precise quote right now, and this one has more engagement with the dogma of crucifixion than I can understand, but the idea that this universe of *stuff* is blessed is at its core.
“Let us acknowledge before God, that we walk through a redeemed, healed, unpunishable world, because of the vicarious suffering of Jesus of Nazareth. He, being all God-hood, was and is forever Christ Jesus – or God Jesus – the living manifestation of what humanity can do and be by recognition of their own son-ship to Omnipotence.”
One of the Merry Mystics has an immortal aphorism.
“When all else fails, face reality.”
Make your reality and your stuff coherent.
If they’re not, let your stuff tell you where you need to go.
Whenever some American Buddhist, high-hatting it in their scrupulosity, starts to sweat the Dalai Lama about eating meat, he says, I am a begging monk. I eat what you put into my bowl. SNAP.
Being at the cutting edge of my life instead of behind it, pushing this vast mass of *stuff* forward.
What if the mother God, the Shekhinah, the hurricane goddess of justice Oya, the Holy Spirit who comes down here and sits with us when miracles are required, was in charge of my stuff? She who only wants a cup which runneth over for me?
What makes one’s life worth living now is waterproofing hiking boots. Or, a grey scale printer instead a color one. Or vice versa. A good microplane. Pants that fit. Soft grey Forever21 Overcast nail polish instead of OPI Linkin Park After Dark. A file to sharpen the primo secateurs by hand. The $800 I phone with the entire works of Beethoven and Little Richard on it. Or the $12 AARP clam shell flip phone all the kids laugh at when you whip it out. Real crewel weight sewing yarn to mend invisibly the wool scarves the moths ate.
Having all-weather dog-walking clothes for the dog I now walk and the climate I now live in, including foot cream, footies, walking sneakers and sun hats which are not what an old boyfriend used to call “old fart hats”. You know the ones he meant.
Not including clip on, windproof fisherman’s hats, Wellies, raincoats, duck shoes, deck shoes. Including stick sun screen, lotion sunscreen, spray-your-left-arm-sizzling-in- the-desert-sun-like-carcinogenic-bacon-while-hurtling-down-the-interstate sun screen. Including the expensive dog car seat, so the 9-1/2-pounder can see out the window and not be thrown to the floor every time you step on the brakes.
Not having a fabric stash, but a yarn stash instead. Which means altering storage units and finding somebody who wants your fabric stash. (Hint: Hand loom people.) Not a yarn stash, but a fine cotton crochet string stash (different storage, who to unload the yarn on. Hint: Women’s rehabs, where knitting is taught as self-soothingly therapeutic. Or ask your local hip yarn shop.). Not crochet, but felt. Not felt but yeast-raised dough baking. Not dough, but colored pencil sketches of plankton. Etc..
Marie is an energy reader. Things have it too. Stuff has it. One reason stuff is aspirational and so hard to let go of when that aspiration is over. No Cartesian/Puritannical aversion to stuff here. The Japanese are not Puritannical. Own your stuff. It is your created world, and God’s.

Trying to save the neighborhood park, I started thinking about public space, which is basically the urban space in which democracy was, and is, formed. All the genders, races, classes, and creeds mix there and regard one another, in the great Hausmannesque urban renewal which creates sidewalk promenades, flaneurs, and the Frankfurt school of Marxist modernity. The male and female gazes are formed in the sidewalk encounters of Baudelaire with his passing dream girl.…/charles_baudelaire/a_une_passante
That was the insight of the great Marxist urbanist Marshall Berman (1940-2013), who felt personal amputations of his anatomy when Robert Moses’ Cross Bronx Expressway (1948-72) cut the beloved Bronx of Berman’s youth into two anaerobic slums, starving both of capital and community. The trench created the notorious South Bronx, which has been burning down since the ’60s, and from whose ashes both DJ Kool Herc and AOC arose.
Berman writes the eulogy for the vibrant Communist Jewish Bronx in which he grew up in his wonderful book, *All That Is Solid Melts Into Air*.…/…/0140109625
That Bronx — where Communist Jews in the garment trades built their Utopia in the famous Workers’ Coops, in 1925, with hammer and sickle over the doors and free libraries for all — the Edenic Bronx of the hardass vibrant working class Jewish body politic always struck me as the heart of Edenic New York City. The greatest city ever.…/finding-utopia-in-th…/
Probably because of my college boyfriend, law school Richie, Bronx High School of Science, ca. 1963. Probably because of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade survivor I interviewed there in the ’70s. Probably because of the hardass brilliant working class Jewish teachers I saw at Nick Monda’s high school graduation in Bushwick in the ’90s. Salt of the earth does not begin to describe the inspiration, the dedication, the belief in the power of literacy, and the nut-cutting street wisdom those grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, of Jewish immigrants brought to Nicky’s heroin and AIDs-ravaged Puerto Rican neighborhood. R. Kelly’s *I Believe I Can Fly* was the processional for Nicky’s graduation ceremony.
Berman, an Oxford and Harvard graduate, started teaching at City College in 1968, and was teaching there when he died. He wrote for the Village Voice. He was an upper West Side guy, a denizen of the Metro Diner ay 100th and Broadway, where he had his fatal heart attack.
He had a big fluffy Uncle Karl beard. His first book, *The Politics of Authenticity*, expressed his passion for romanticism.…/marshall-berman-1940-20…
The sinewy, urbane, steetfightin’ and modern reputation of City College penetrated even to me, and I longed to know more about the Bronx which engendered the metropolis as the organic entity the starry-eyed Jews of 1925 had built, with Marshall Berman and Jane Jacobs acting out their humane view of life on the sidewalks in turn in their generation.
Twenty-seven years after I first read Berman, I found the book which tells his autobiography, from Bronx Communism to City College to walking the sidewalks of New York as the central, organic, political and spiritual experience of a life.
It’s Vivian Gornick. A little older than Berman, and still pounding the pavements.
In the Bronx, in the ’30s, her mother was a party member and an organizer for the party-sponsored tenants’ councils. Every Saturday morning, Bess would go down to the party HQ in Union Square and get her instructions for the week. Her father, a presser in a dress factory, was also a party member. He read the New York Times and the Daily Worker every day, and died of a heart attack when she was 13. The women in her apartment building brought her up as her mother dissolved in an operatic performance of grief. This enactment of widowhood was the same romance which, Gornick later realized, every Communist she knew growing up held close. The plumber could be a poet, the seamstress a fiery political speaker; every Communist had, like a good Buddhist, a right livelihood and a right vocation. Bookeeper by day, rock star by night.
Gornick wrote an oral history book about the romance of the Communist Party members. And Jonathan Lethem, the other great writer about New York City as an organic body politic based on the dreams, and the long walks through the city, of its people, actually used Gornick’s characters to write his novel *Dissident Gardens*, about a Communist mother and her red diaper counterculture baby. He has become an acolyte as well, writing an introduction to a re-edition of *Fierce Attachments*.…/feminist_icon_vivian_gornick_still…/
And then the children of these passionate urban peasants, as she called them, made their way to City College, where as people of the word, they were electrified and transported by what their teachers gave them to read. The widowed Bess worked sadly at being a bookkeeper to help send Vivian for transubstantiation, and felt swindled when Vivian graduated without a teaching degree. This was what you went to college for, not talking all night with tongues of fire with other kids about books. The only other red diaper baby I know of is Carl Bernstein, whose parents lived in D.C., about whom he wrote his own memoir, *Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir*. It touches on some of the same passionate enmeshments Gornick struggled with all her life.…/B01…/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i8
And so I had this idea of the city as Eden. And Vivian Gornick’s book has filled it in for me. Of cultured artisanal blue collar workers tearing pumpernickel with their white teeth, dark eyes, dark curls, burly forearms, masters of the great promenade, diddlybopping like John Travolta staying alive down the Grand Concourse. The Grand Concourse, confected in 1890 to make the sidewalks of the Bronx seem more like the ones in Paris.…/history-of-nyc-streets-grand-…/
The red diaper kids like Vivian Gornick who came down to the Village and radicalized everybody from Dylan Thomas and the Cedar Bar denizens to the hippies of my generation. (I can still see redheaded Susan Kaplan lipsynching Janis Joplin in college. Rad.) Talking Faulkner all night long in the cafeteria at City College: Well, that would be America. My dream girl.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”…/history-of-nyc-streets-grand-…/…/…/0374529965

Met Home Mustard Fruits
Serves 10.
I melon, seeded, peeled and cut into bite-sized triangles
1 orange, seeded, peeled, quartered and cut into fan shapes
1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and cut into bite-sized wedges
1 cup grapes
1 red apple, cored and cut into bite-sized wedges
1 cup cherries
Mustard Sauce
1/2 c loosely packed dill sprigs
Combine fruit and Mustard Sauce in a large bowl, mix to coat all fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve (can be made 1 day ahead). Before serving, garnish with dill.
Mustard Sauce
1/4 c dry mustard
1/2 c water
Zest of one orange, finely julienned
1/2 c cider vinegar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t salt
Juice of one orange, strained
Mix mustard and water together in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Set aside for at least one hour (no lie, don’t fail to do this). Combine zest, vinegar, sugar, salt and orange juice in a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. Add mustard to the syrup and stir while cooking until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, cool and refrigerate.
The Corfu eggplant salad,* which I made to celebrate too-hot-to-cook salad week, was a gigantic success. It is nearly easy enough to qualify as Cuisine Dolce Far Niente — the dernier cri of which, as we have discussed, is fresh cherries in a crystal bowl full of ice cubes.
What’s so especially interesting is the addition of sweet almonds and meaty eggs, to develop the vegetarian umami aspect of eggplant, which I consider its more Greek Ottoman iteration.
Tomatoes do make their way into middle eastern eggplant dishes, but it’s more likely to be cooked with lamb and cinnamon, a la moussaka, which is super delicious.
So I started thinking about the permutations of eggplant, a non-gendered, chameleon kind of vegetarian-friendly stalwart. Claudia Roden, doyenne of middle eastern cookery writers, has 5 separate recipes for eggplant, of which the smokey charred ethos of baba ghanouj is one eggplant trope worth keeping in mind, along with the cinnamon/nutmeg-in-the-moussaka trope. She also emphasizes serving it with cream cheese or yoghurt, another iteration of its vegetarian umami aspect.
(The Guardian has these epic recipe geek columns reviewing 10 cooks’ different approaches to one dish, and concluding with the Platonic ideal of a recipe, awesome.)
The Italians do eggplant in Tomato Land as no one else does.
I realized I have never cooked or eaten eggplant Parm, which always looks so day-old-heart-attack-in-shitty-sauce in restaurants. Enough with your nasty tomato paste and softball gobs of mozzarella.
I turn to Marcella Hazan for the Ur recipe on eggplant in Tomato Land, and discover a few things. First, slim 3/8 inch slices of eggplant are PEELED, you fucking Visigoths, salted, drained, dried, and fried, according to exhaustive instructions. Laid in a dish. Covered with drained, canned, diced tomatoes and nothing the fuck else. Sprinkled lightly with grated mozzarella, Parm and oregano. Layer, finishing with eggplant lightly Parmed and dotted with butter. This actually sounds edible, and possibly related to Roden’s Ottoman dishes of eggplant with creamy white cheese or yoghurt.
The other thing the Italians do with eggplant is agrodolce — caponata. I think I read somewhere agrodolce is a conceit of Sephardic Jews? Whatever, the Cook’s magazine recipe for caponata is worth subscribing to the website in and of its own self. It has raisins in it, and the fruited aspect of eggplant — could we call this the North African or tagine trope? — comes to the fore.
The other superb thing about the Cooks’ magazine recipe is they solve the drainage problem eggplant has by nuking the finely cut cubes until they’re almost dessicated, before frying. Once upon a time I solved the mystery of the Shroud of Turin by laying salted eggplant slices to drain on cloth kitchen towels, resulting in photographically accurate prints of each slice in half an hour. |
The other place I found eggplant paired with cooked fruit is in this online recipe for Armenian Lentil Soup. I know nothing about Armenians and what they eat, but the recipe, with eggplant, dried apricots, vinegar and brown sugar is definitely in the agrodolce tradition. Also spice and tomatoes, which suggests many many armies marching through. I love the tagine thing of cooked fruit in a savory dish, and this soup is a favorite with me.
Alice Waters has an interesting non-tomato Italian take, of charcoal grilled slices with Italian parsley/caper/anchovy sauce which they call Salsa Verde, and I call Portofino Greeno™. As Portofino Greeno™ makes old inner tubes worth eating, I didn’t like Waters’ sort of American take as well as I might have. In other words, why kill myself to screw around endlessly with eggplant slices and a grill (see smoky baba ghanouj trope, above) when I could eat the sauce alone out of a bowl? (Check out Hazan’s whole barbecue of grilled vegetables, delicious and worth firing up for.)
Finally, for the base line of clean and yet sublimely well-cooked American recipes, Edna Lewis is the queen. I wish somebody would run her recipes through the forensic foodway detective software to discover their origins: I suspect French-educated slave cooks at Monticello are the font of the elegant food Lewis’ mother cooked in Orange County, VA.
For the Lewises, eggplant was a winter dish. It kept over winter, Lewis writes, whether on the vine or in the root cellar she doesn’t specify.
I was looking at recipes for roasted cauliflower the other day, there’s a million of them now due to sheet pan meal popularity and that Cauliflower, The Other White Meat, aspect it shares with eggplant. And I thought, who wants to eat it with any of that shit on it, when just caramelized is pretty near heaven? So with Miss Edna’s just plain fried eggplant. Here is her winter menu.
A Duck Dinner in Winter
Braised Muscovy Duck in Natural Sauce
Buttered Green Beans
Fried Eggplant or Puree of Chestnuts
Applesauce with Nutmeg
Slices of Yeast Bread
Lemon Meringue Pie
Please note eggplant affinities suggested above — with nuts, spice, lemon, and dark fat meat like lamb, its caramelized or smokey aspect complimenting those Ottoman or North African flavors. Maybe Mrs. Lewis just brought that palate with her from Africa, not Monticello.
With eggplant, anything is possible.
*Corfu eggplant salad is 1 lb. 10 oz. eggplants (three medium) baked in a 400 oven for 45 minutes, or until you can press their sides together. Flesh stripped into a colander to drain of brown juices (line your jelly roll pan with foil to avoid scrubbing said encrusted on your pan). A little over half a package of blanched almonds (3 1/2 oz.), blitzed. Half a cup of olive oil and juice of one lemon, beaten or blitzed together. Two hardboiled eggs, finely chopped. Salt. Parsley. Let it macerate overnight if possible and eat with pitas.

Liveblogging David Harvey’s lectures on Marx/Capital:
*Capital* is richly referential to Greeks, Shakespeare, Goethe, and the novels of Balzac. After several years of reading Capital yearly, Harvey read Balzac and said, Aha! This is where Marx gets his idea about that.
An English major of little brain, in other words, may possibly approach this Everest — my theory being the 20th century and its wars interrupted our study of Marx, fascist backlash being the 20th century’s perfect demo of Marx’ dialectic thesis/antithesis/synthesis — of world thought with, you know, some tiny vestigial bit of a crampon. Balzac as my crampons? Shit.

#fascistaesthetics #resist #TravelsWithUncleKarlie

Liveblogging Harvey on Marx: Marx invented a critical theory, here:…
The essence of which is revolutionary fire can be made only by rubbing together conceptual blocs of theory. The three conceptual blocs of theory in *Capital* are 18th and 19th century ideas of [mainly English] political economy [Theories of Surplus Value], German classical political philosophy [Kant, Hegel, Leibniz, Spinoza, deconstruction of political econ theory] extending back to the Greeks [Marx diss, on Epicurus!], Utopian socialist tradition [primarily French, 1830s Acarians, Proudhon, Saint Simon, Fourier, Cabet] — Marx wants to make this project scientific, and must reconfigure what scientific method is all about.
He was thinking about the revolution of 1848, and by critiquing Malthus and negating Fourier, pretty much without citing them, makes great use of thinkers he believed got revolution wrong, or unscientifically. Thus acknowledging the great principle, I would argue of polemic — negative example is a great teacher.
Rootless cosmopolitan indeed. This is what you call a Big Sexy Brain.
Liveblogging David Harvey’s lectures on Marx/Capital.
Marx says his method of inquiry is different from his method of presentation, which makes the first three chapters of *Capital* a notoriously difficult read. When a French publisher suggested serializing *Capital* chapter by chapter in a newspaper, Marx thought it was a great idea as the working class would have it more easily available to them. But he worried that the practical French, seeking application to current events immediately, would be put off by the dichotomy between inquiry and presentation. He starts with his conclusions, about the essential theory and nature of the commodity. How this works in the “real” world doesn’t become *actually* clear until the end of the book. Harvey makes the interesting point that Marx is thus a pioneer of the Freudian method of starting with the surface world of symptoms or appearances, penetrating to the heart of the onion to find out how and why it grows, and then returning the surface world in which you say, ah yes, here are the symptoms, but the real cause is something else. As the result of his deep dive method, Marx starts with the something else, which makes his first three chapters almost impenetrable.
#TravelsWithUncleKarlie #resist #fascistaesthetics
Liveblogging David Harvey’s lectures on *Capital*:
The three published volumes represent about one eighth of Marx’ planned project, as outlined by Marx in this preparatory essay:
People eager to get to the parts about class struggle or financial crises will have to wait, as volume one is about the mode of production from the standpoint of production (not the market, not global trade), volume two, from the perspective of exchange, volume three, crisis formation, rules of distribution, interest, rent, taxes.
Because the first chapters of *Capital* lay out the conceptual apparatus for the entire work, most of it unwritten, they can be difficult reading. Harvey suggests trying a little Hegel, even more difficult, to dull your pain.
Then comes the other part of the method, important both to method of presentation and method of inquiry: Marx’s dialectic.

#resist #fascistaesthetics #TravelsWithUncleKarlie

Liveblogging David Harveys lectures on Marx’ *Capital*, Volume 1, Lecture 1.
CAUTION: A great deal of this is direct quotes from David Harvey’s copyrighted lectures. Don’t cite it without attribution *for the words* to Harvey.
Marx’s use of dialectic — in dialectic we find a different concept of analysis. Harvey says there’s hardly any causal language in Marx — he doesn’t say this causes that. He says, rather, this is dialectically related to that. A dialectic relation is an inner relation, not a causal relation. Marx claims his dialectic is different from Hegel’s, and opposite to it. He had deconstructed Hegel previous to writing *Capital*, here:…/Marx_Critique_of_Hegels_Philosop…
Marx objects to what he calls the “mysticatory” aspect of Hegel’s philosophy, which had become fashionable in Germany. Marx not only opposed Hegel’s dialectic, he revolutionized the dialectical method. He had to reconfigure it so every historical event was seen to be in motion as well as transient — “all that is solid melts into air.” (I have always felt this to be what I think of as Marx’ raptus, the extraordinarily romantic and sensual Germanic gotterdamerung thing. That capitalism itself is seen to be the engine of this energy is remarkable and worth at least one lifetime’s thought and study.) What this new dialectic means is Marx will establish relations between things while maintaining his enormous respect for the fluidity and dynamics of capitalism.
Marx never wrote a treatise on his dialectic — to understand that it’s not static, as so many interpret “Marx” to be — you have to read *Capital*, in which he demonstrates his dialectic of fluidity.
Dialectic method is contradictory. Children do it naturally and we train them out of it, training them to be “rational”.
For Marx, everything is in motion [and this is a foundational definition of modernity, cloned with quantum physics, of which the former notion Marx is a founding father]. He doesn’t talk about labor, he talks about the labor process. Capital is not a thing. It is a process. It is in motion. Value does not exist unless it is in motion. So some of Marx’ concepts are about relations, transformative activity [raptus! rising to Valhalla from a ring of fire!]
This is like this at this moment, and like that the next moment. Another reason the first three chapters of *Capital* are very difficult. He wants us to understand how motion is instantiated within the capitalist mode of production.
Analytical Marxists, the no bullshit Marxists, as they call themselves, say all this dialectic is bullshit. Positivists ttry to turn it into a mathematical model. But if you’re to understand Marx on Marx’s terms, and not the billion reams of Talmudic dispute, you will grapple with his dialectic, and not theirs. (Good one, Harvey. Keep the amateurs out.)
David Harvey says he’s been teaching this class for 30 years, and every year he learns something new from the text. Marx said ideas have to change as circumstances do, and Harvey, who denies being a Marxist, has used Marx’ dialectic in his own work as idea in his own field of sociology have changed. (This is an idea of the utilitarian philosopher William James: our ideas of what God is change as our needs change.)
Says Harvey, “This text is a wonderful, wonderful exercise in seeking to understand that which is almost impossible to understand.” Thus each student must develop her own lifelong dialog with the text.
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Liveblogging David Harvey’s lectures on Marx’ *Capital*: Lecture 1.
These are lecture notes, often not paraphrased, a mix of direct quotes from Harvey’s copyrighted lectures, and the Penguin Classics trans of Capital. I have not put quotes or attributions around any direct quote. So if you want to cite these notes, you’d better listen to Harvey’s lecture and read the Penguin translation for correct and honest attribution.
Harvey emphasizes the extraordinary content of Capital as drawing on the canons of literature, political philosophy and political economy. He says its value, in 40 years of reading it annually, is in its power to say something new every year, and in its heroic method, an attempt to understand something which may be impossible to understand.
Commodity is the a priori beginning point of chapter 1, volume 1, Capital.
Marx begins by saying wealth in societies employing capital methods of production “appears” as a collection of commodities.
Harvey says always watch out when Marx says “appears”.
Let the games begin.
He also makes clear he’s interested only in capitalist modes of production, not ancient ones, or socialist ones.
It’s a genius beginning point because everybody has had an experience of a commodity. All genders, ethnicities, religions participate in this economic transaction.
A commodity is something which meets a human want or need.
He says he’s not interested in the motives behind the purchase of commodities, the systems invented to measure them or their diversity.
First big concept, use value: the usefulness of a thing.
As a social scientist, Marx says he can’t go into a lab, isolate things, and do an experiment. What he must do to isolate things is use the power of abstraction — and he cuts right to the chase, liberating commodity of history, sociology, political economy by abstracting it immediately.
In a capitalist society, commodities are also the material bearers of exchange value. Please note, a bearer is not the thing itself: commodities are not exchange value, but its bearers. What we see in the world of exchange processes, geogrpahically, temporally, there’s an enormous realm of market exchange, different ratios occuring between shirts and shoes, we see different quantitative relations between bushels of wheat and tons of steel and pairs of shoes and shirts — at first sight, what we see in the world of exchange are values which are incoherent, all over the place. Marx says exchange value appears to be accidental and purely relative (this I pondered age four or five, and I think many children do. Children, Harvey says, are natural dialecticians until we retrain them to be “rational”). Therefore instrinsic value — a value connected to something inherent in the commodity — seems a contradiction in terms.
Everything in this world of exchange is, in principle, exchangeable with everything else. The implication being that the commodity you just received in exchange for something else, can be exchanged for something else. A thing keeps moving, and can be exchanged for all the other commodities at some point.
It follows then, writes Marx, that the valid exchange values of a particular commodity express something equal, and secondly, exchange value cannot be anything other than the mode of expression, the form of appearance of a content distinguishable from it. When I look at a commodity, I cannot discern what gives it value. I can only ascertain its value when it is exchanged, or it motion. It only has value in motion. As it moves, its expressing something about exchangeability — a commensurability in exchange. It means that all things are commensurable in exchange. (Can you see the moral/ethical beginnings here of secular humanism, of which Marx is probably the main progenitor?)
Why are they commensurable and where does commensurability come from? The commodity is the bearer of that something.
#fascistaesthetics #resist #TravelsWithUncleKarlie

Liveblogging Harvey’s lecture 1 on Marx’ *Capital*.
CAUTION: Do not quote these lecture notes, which are basically direct quotes, unattributed, from either Marx or Harvey’s copyrighted lectures. Go to Marx or the lectures to find out where to put your quotation marks.

Commensurability — everything is in principle immediately exchangeable with everything else. A thing keeps on moving. As it moves, a commodity expresses something about exchangeability. Why, and what is this commensurability made up of? Where does it come from? How is it defined? The commodity is the bearer of that something, which is not inherent in the commodity itself, but borne by the commodity, a relation inside the commodity. Each commodity, as far as its exchange value, must be reducible to this third thing. It is not a physical quality. Here, says Harvey, we see the fallacy in calling Marx a grubby materialist.
As use values, Marx writes, commodities differ above all in quality. As exchange values, they can only differ in quantity, and therefore do not contain an atom of use value. Commensurability is not constituted out of the utility of something. If we disregard the use value of commodities, only one property remains — there are all properties of human labor. That is what commodities have in common. What exchange and use values commodities bear are the products of human labor.
What kind of labor is it? Human labor in the abstract, not variable rates of labor whereby you exchange more of your labor for the same shirt it took a lazy worker 15 days to make, than you exchange for a shirt a fast worker made in three days. Abstract.
In four pages (Penguin Classic) Marx has laid out three fundament values: Use value, exchange value, value. Value is what is passed on in the process of commodity exchange. Value is what makes all commodities in principle exchangeable with each other. Exchange value is a necessary form of expression, or form of appearance, of value. “Appearance”. There is something mysterious about the exchange of all those commodities, the way all those commodities could be commensurable with one another. The mystery is that they’re values, but they’re represented now by exchange values, what I can get for it in the market, is a representation of value, and a representation of labor.
At the supermarket, you can’t see the labor in a commodity even though it has an exchange value.
To say something is a representation of something is not to say it is something. Marx will spend a great deal of time talking about the gap between value and its representation. Something has use value only because abstract human labor is objectified, or materialized in it, says Marx. A process — a labor process — becomes objectified in a thing. This idea is very important in Marx. What is the relation between the process and the thing? Marx returns to this question many times.
The thing is a representation of the process.
Value is always in motion.
That means that a process is objectified in a thing. It’s the thing that’s sold in the market, and not the process — the pot is sold in the market, and not the potter’s process of making. The process must be objectified into a thing or commodity. (Incarnation! Yeah, baby.) Inside of that thing, the quantity is measured by the duration of the labor, which itself has measures — hours, days, etc. There’s a coded message here in which the capitalist mode of productions sets up a certain system of temporality. How does the capitalist mode of production structure time?

“They [values] can no longer be distinguished,” writes Marx, “but are all together reduced to the same kind of labor, human labor in the abstract….Let us now look at the residue of the products of labor. There is nothing left of them in each case but the same phantom-like objectivity.”
Here, Harvey points, out, we get the first hint of Marx’s love of Shelley, Frankenstein, werewolves and phantoms, who will reappear with great regilarity throughout the text.

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She goes by the name of “My Old Hell Freezes Over Friend” (MOHFOF) in my top sekrit online journal, to which a few of you are privy. The wench is dead now, and I am in another country. I feel I can put my real name to this story. If not hers. Call her Camille.

She was the debutante daughter of Oklahoma oil money. Big Daddy beat her practically every day of her life. She had a lip on her. He beat her the day her mother died. He beat her the day she was diagnosed with polio. Two or three survivor strategies: Lip. She sexualized herself fully. By age three, orgasm was a daily means of embodying herself. Cutting was to come later. Disembodying worked too. Dissociative identity disorder ended most of her friendships. As she put it, “I get mail addressed to other people.”

She married a physician and became a drug addict, not an uncommon career path for well-bred junkie girls. He’s the one who told her that in med school, the breasts of cadavers were cut off and thrown away as spurious tissue.

She got rid of him. She did have a lip on her. Toward the end of her run, some artistic Bohemian pimp boyfriend suggested she turn tricks to support her habit. How hip was that?

She got loaded and went out, somewhere around the Washington Monument, as I now picture it. She managed to hustle her way into a guy’s car. After a brief conversation, he said “You’re not really cut out for this, are you?”

It might have been the deep-set shadow of her eyes, the way the light gleamed through her pale blue irises, but she always looked as if her eyes were filling with tears. Princess Charlene of Monaco and her children have the same eyes.


I like to believe it was that which made him even a little gentle. Maybe her eyes were filled with tears.

It was her last failed job interview. She died 30 years clean.

Please don’t ever forget why people become prostitutes. Oppose the Amnesty International decriminalization campaign.

The paleo diet first came to my attention in the Tweet of Geoffrey Miller, the professor who says fat people are too lazy and fat to earn PhDs. I quickly found myself in an online pro paleo forum in which, as in many online mosh pits, young women (no old ones except me ventured where angels feared to tread) were being stomped, regularly, as the paleo diet was clearly the perquisite of digital oligarch males.
The cherry on that narrative arc was the controversy over a recent Craigslist want ad by San Francisco toolies for a paleo chef/slave/office serf.
I’ve always had lots of problems with it, aside from the fact it seems to be the new men’s rights movement diet. In the blue zones, where people today live to be 100 years old as a matter of course, meat is the one significant thing absent from their very diverse diets. Legumes, dairy or grains sustain the centenarians in Okinawa, Sardinia, Loma Linda CA, Costa Rica and Ikaria with the Loma Lindans being vegetarians by religious scruple. Each obviously adds regional specialties to the diet — cloudy red wine rich with anti-oxidants, green tea, lime-slaked tortillas, tomatoes, oranges, olive oil — but meat is mostly off the menu for the oldest healthy people on the planet.
The second big reason is that the paleo diet is for rich people, and grass fed beef is unsustainable. This new piece on the rise of paleo in the New Yorker reminds us of what major food sustainability research has been saying for 20 years — beef is not sustainable. Something the healthy, but significantly not wealthy, centenarians have known for millenia.
“Pound for pound, beef production demands at least ten times as much water as wheat production, and, calorie for calorie, it demands almost twenty times as much energy. Livestock are major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions, not just because of the fuel it takes to raise them but also because they do things like belch out methane and produce lots of shit, which in turn produces lots of nitrous oxide.”
My observation is that Peter Pan guys who grew up eating Slim Jims and cereal for dinner have found something to do with their money. Paleo.
Here is the classic piece by Candace Bushnell, one of her original Sex and the City pieces, about the most profoundly unsexy men of all. The paleo boys.

Okay, fashionistas and fatshionistas, here’s my dilemma. I’ve been looking for office clothes with difficulty for over 40 years. What it is now is almost what it was then: basically men’s wear cut for women. Jackets. I’ve had short sleeved batik ones over sundresses, I’ve had khaki jumpsuits, zippered flight type jackets in Prince of Wales plaid (with matching bell bottoms, to be sure), long-sleeved midi length washable poly velvet Jane Avril dress for those parties I had to cover, you name it. One of my favorites was a hip academic outfit confected for a conference in Ireland: widewale corduroy leggings in eau de Nil, gigantic white cashmere sweater, knee length Wellingtons, and pink pearls. No nipples. And, after 25, no minis.

What it is now is what all the serious girls at the uni around the corner from where I used to live wore and wear: techno fiber pants (black, black or black), $100+ V-necked t shirt (dark, dark, dark or jewel), jacket (“), Rolex and ankle boots. My t shirts cost $9, my big black face Timex $30, and I can’t get my freakishly high arches into boots. No jewelry. Although my discovery of $8 necklaces at Forever21 is a big monkey wrench in my Afro Pomo Homo minimalist femme costume. Don’t forget the hair *cut* not a hair *do*.

Coming up, because it’s 400 degrees outside, an LBD with a black linen moto and ballet flats.

(Wouldn’t this $6.80 gigantic faux pearl necklace look awesome with my moto?

(I think perhaps not. One of the secrets of dressing the ancient avoirdupois is to let your wrinkles and your hair cut be the jewels.)

I am very interested in fashion and the cutting edge of future fashion, which as everybody knows is coming out of art schools in Britain, headed up by the late Alexander McQueen, with punk and artisanal references. He had some other references in there, also sublime. Part of the punk thing is sustainable, locavore, dumpster-diving, upcycled fashion, in which I am extremely interested. As we all know, street fashion drives couture. One of the biggest influences in street fashion since, I think, the Pointer Sisters started raiding the Good Will Stores of ’60s San Francisco for ’40s suits and ’30s panne velvet, is the Good Will. Now monetized by bottom feeder Hollywood stylists into “vintage” clothes, Good Will outfits worn by chic club kids have been fashion’s — and couture’s — leading influence. (All those chicken hawks like Lagerfeld and Galliano circle, cawing, over kids’ nightclubs.)

Courtesy of Alabama Chanin, who is selling a book called <em>Refashioned: Cutting Edge Clothing From Upcycled Materials, I have just perused the very interesting straight edge DIY books on how to turn old clothes into new ones.

Without exception, the new clothes are all performance wear. Nothing for the office. Extraordinary that paupers should be fashioning ball gowns out of t shirts. Why is this? I ask you.

The only actual instructions, for example, I’ve found for turning a man’s overcoat into a lady’s jacket or a child’s coat are in ‘40s WW2 British sewing dictionaries, discovered in Kate Davies’ wonderful blog, along with instructions on how to make underwear out of worn nightgowns and other useful information. It’s called Odham’s Big Book of Needlecraft.

I think the tailored recycling of good old clothes is because there were no throwaway clothes in those days, and also because fabric was rationed. I was born close enough to those times to have worn clothes made by seamstresses. I miss them, and I am stunned by the Harajuku ho tutus all those straight edge designers are making out of shitty old concert t shirts. Where are the upcycled work clothes?

It may be part of the Art School Confidential syndrome that every upcycled garment looks like a circus poodle outfit. I’m on it. Watch this space.

I live for tea sandwiches. I troll the menus of fancy hotels for tea sandwich ideas, which are strangely few and far between. As mentioned, the best big honkin’ sammie ideas evar came from Chicago’s Cafe Lula, and Alice’s Tea Cup in NY (Lula’s Tineka sammie — peanut butter, sambal, sweet soy sauce, vine ripe tomato, red onion, cuke, whole grain; Alice’s Tea Cup — cumin-roasted carrots, tapenade, goat cheese on sesame semolina). The one takes a day’s shopping and the other a day’s cooking and another day to wash the dishes, but they are ROLL YOUR EYES BACK good. Alai Nna, who learned to cook in NOLA, with Vietnamese touches, is the best sandwich imagineer ever. I think she might find these a little heavy, both in concept and with the hippie dippie bread.
This one, from a five star British hotel I cannot now name, fits way more easily into the Dolce Far Niente summer cooking style: Pickled onion cream cheese, cukes, cress on — what have you. A nice challah toast, I’m thinking.
Slice a cup of red onion very thinly. Put it in a microwave bowl. Cover with red wine vinegar and pickling spice. Nuke. Cool. When they’re sufficiently pickled (I waited a couple days), take a well-drained handful (2/3 cup) and add to food processor with a bar of Neufchatel, some pepper and salt. Blend. It’s pink. It’s awesome. It’s ONION DIP, people. without the frightening sodium content of the Lipton’s kind. Total prep time, possibly five minutes, and five minutes to wash the processor. Lick first.

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