The Daily

Author Archive

Pity the Fool

May 16, 2016 | by

From Paris à travers les siècles, 1879.

Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool. —William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

I feel sorry for people who don’t suffer fools. They’re missing out on so much! The quotidian, absurd human comedy; several of Shakespeare’s finest characters; TV. 

I can speak with total authority on this point, because I am a fool. I am also descended from a long line of fools. I don’t mean we’re given to gnomic utterances on the futility of existence: we’re just idiots who don’t know how to do practical stuff. We’re also very prone to prancing around and singing. True, some of us are also asses, a couple are gullible, and a few are jerks—and there are occasional exceptions that prove the rule, like my brother, for instance. But I think fool is our genus. Read More »

The Songs We’re Stuck With

May 13, 2016 | by

Real McCoy.

At a coffee shop, standing on line (because I’m a New Yorker, and for some reason that’s where we stand with lines—on them, never in them), I began to cry. This in itself was not so extraordinary—the mascara has not yet been invented that’s proof against my tears—but this jag happened to be music related. The José Gonzalez cover of “Heartbeats” had come on the sound system, and the time-machine jolt to 2006 was so sudden that my body didn’t know how to respond except with tears, although it wasn’t grief I felt. Read More »

Greenwich Village, 1971

May 12, 2016 | by

Djuna Barnes.

Although she died in 1982, at the age of ninety, Djuna Barnes seems to have recorded her voice on only a few occasions. The tape below was made in her Patchin Place home in 1971. Barnes is best known for Nightwood, her modernist classic, but she had a long and thriving career as a journalist and in the avant-garde literary scene. Her body of work, including The Book of Repulsive Women, Ryder, and The Ladies Almanack, spans aestheticism, Dada, and high modernism. Her books are deep, often challenging, and crucial. Read More »

Confessions of a Grubby-Footed Woman

May 11, 2016 | by

Adolph Menzel, 1876.

As a young woman, I went on a few highly improbable dates with a guy who did something in the realm of what, in my family, we call “beeswax.” After a few absurdly adult dinners at real restaurants, I told him we shouldn’t see each other any more. He said, “You’re probably right. I have a feeling you sometimes have dirty feet, and I can’t handle that.”

His “feeling” may have been based on certain clues—at this time in my life (the “pre-makeover Harlequin-heroine” phase) I dwelt exclusively in vintage heeled sandals, and these often proved so fragile or painful that, in the cases where my ever-present moleskin and tube of Crazy Glue didn’t work, I was forced to take them off and trudge around New York barefoot. So, yeah, maybe my feet were sometimes less than pristine. Read More »

In Defense of Moist

May 10, 2016 | by

Yum.

Many people hate the word moist. Indeed, it has become almost expected to hate the word moist, with its connotations of limp handshakes, cloying Uriah Heep types, and creeping damp. A recent study found that the aversion was real, reported the New York Times: “Data from the current studies point to semantic features of the word—namely, associations with disgusting bodily functions—as a more prominent source of peoples’ unpleasant experience.”

But here’s the thing: I like moist. And not just because of good associations with the groundbreaking Moistworks blog, either. I think moist just needs better PR. Read More »

Noisy Neighbors

May 9, 2016 | by

You heard the man.

As I write this, there are six workmen constructing a building within five feet of the window, as has been the case for the past eight months and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s not a quiet business at the best of times, and at the moment they’re blasting “Rockin’ Robin.” They start work at seven A.M., and they have one of those special permits from the mayor’s office that allows them to work on Saturdays, too. Along with the two preschools and the slew of amateur musicians who inhabit the surrounding buildings, it makes for a cacophony. 

I used to wear noise-canceling headphones and sometimes earplugs, and I’d fume like an angry cartoon character, but now it doesn’t bother me much. In balmy weather, it even feels sort of Rear Window–ish and picturesque. Or so you can tell yourself, especially when one amateur musician noodles on his sax for several hours at a time. I realize I have come to love it. Read More »