Archives for posts with tag: candace bushnell

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.

Lena Dunham’s Girls has been on the tom toms for about a year, I think, with spreads on the actresses in the ladies’ magazines and Gen Y buzz based on Dunham’s indie film success with Tiny Furniture.*

Alessandra Stanley, who has had her own Carrie Bradshaw life in Manhattan, comments wonderfully on the differences and similarities between the Sex and the City generation and the Girls generation. Men haven’t changed since Haight Ashbury, she points out, which revolution was withered by Stokely’s observation that the only place for women in the movement was prone. Joan Didion, Stokely’s equally conservative sidekick, quoted somebody as saying the whole ’60s phenom was about Hippie chicks fuck. For Carrie Bradshaw’s generation, coming up just behind the boomers and before Gen X, one could still reasonably maintain expectations of a satisfying sexual encounter, a satisfying career, and summers in the Hamptons.

Author and star of Girls, the Gen Y Sex and the City, Lena Dunham.

She writes, “Sex and the City,” which began in 1998, when its heroines were already in their 30s, placed boy trouble in a satiny frame of glamour, cocktails and pricey real estate. On “Girls,” the women are in their 20s, and boy trouble comes with cramped apartments, S.T.D.’s and dead-end volunteer jobs.

I’d like to pause here briefly, and think about the thrill of subscribing to The Observer and reading Candace Bushnell’s original SATC columns in the 90s. The Observer, like the Financial Times, was a peachy pink color. It had all the news I wanted to know, including a wonderful column hitting the hi-lo, mandarin/Lawn Guyland realms that only Ron Rosenbaum, the last true downtown Village Voice flaneur, could discern. I mean who knows as much about the iambics of Horace, the incarnations of Hitler, J. D. Salinger, Sid Vicious and Joey Buttafuoco as Rosenbaum? What other beat is there?

Sex and the city is the other beat. The idea that people from St. Augustine to Gogol through Flaubert to Mishima go to the city to get some, and that sex — not the dark Satanic mills or storming the Bastille — is what makes life on the sidewalks the very center of revolution and modernity itself had kind of escaped me. And the anthropology that my friends, our mothers, our grandmothers had been discussing, as Bushnell’s girlfriends do, in the kitchen within the 100 years of living memory I can claim direct knowledge of, had finally hit the front page of a newspaper. Candace Bushnell and her girlfriends, like Seinfeld, worked the taxonomies out around the Formica tables of midtown coffee shops. She said it, based on her own experience and that of her clever and adventurous field workers, that there were modelizers and Peter Pan men and that men treated women ruthlessly as a matter of course. How the gay television auteur Darren Starr changed SATC into far more a feral cruising narrative (and, I believe, ripped off Bushnell in the process) would be, should be, just another anthropological field study of men for fans of the Bushnell column. She once said she strove to be Edith Wharton; while Wharton’s nearly Marxist critique of woman’s lot is a worthy and plausible aim, I think the only equivalent of her ’90s SATC columns,is Kingsley Amis’ misogynist masterpiece, Jake’s Thing. Certainly the phallic emphasis later limelighted by Darren Starr stripped Bushnell’s narrative of its more Whartonian affectional and social critique.

Candace Bushnell marries Charles Askegard, 2002.
Photograph by Jodi Hilton.

Now comes Lena Dunham. I am very interested in how it’s going for Gen Y, because it strikes me that’s how it’s going for the boomers, and how it started for the boomers. The point which struck me in Stanley’s review which made life easier for us boomers was that men — and women — were still grateful for, and not entitled to, sex in those days. Stanley writes:

Adam lets her visit his apartment for sexual gratification — his own — and ignores her desires; most of his sexual fantasies seem borrowed from video games and porn videos. He is just as callous about her feelings, grabbing her stomach rolls and asking why she doesn’t lose weight.

Those sex scenes are shocking not because they are graphic, though they are, but because the sex is so unsexy: they are as clinical and coldly funny as the seduction scene of Dottie in McCarthy’s novel “The Group.”

I am grateful that never happened to me. And I am grateful for the compliments I just remembered, reading this piece, and will not be writing down here or making a movie about, compliments that even the most worthless or chemistry-free boyfriends were dishing out to the body St. Francis (and I)  called Brother Ass. They liked him a lot and were grateful and said so. I married somebody because I was grateful, and because he could dance. For about six years I went nowhere without being spooned into that man. That’s the truth.

I also ended the war and invented rock and roll, civil rights, jobs for women, free love, Gandhi, pantyhose (those miniskirts were hell), and smoking marijuana. I feel it happening, as if Gen Y and the boomers are uniting against the truly joyless generation, Gen X. Irony, like Charles Manson and speed, kills.  Be grateful. And if you are, you will storm the Bastille and turn this bad time into a counterculture worth giving up heaven for.
*[This reminds me of nothing so much as what it felt like, graduating from college into a world which didn’t hire girls and sent your boyfriend to Vietnam, watching The Graduate.

[Not to be a boomer buzz kill, but that’s a different post. Someone on Jezebel has just been complaining about boomers bitching about not being able to retire. You try looking for work with an oxygen tank, little missie. And forget about a rent-free berth on this fucking ice floe. You want to bitch about boomers? You can do it on Medicaid. If you’re lucky. Note to self: post on the rise of intergenerational meal-ticket nut-cutting.]

(c) Jeannette Smyth, 2012-2017, all rights reserved

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