paul simon's concert in central park

literally no one asked for this

hellO

I don’t have much of an intro for this one other than congrats to me for telling myself THIS would be the week, finally assignment-free, that I really sat down to make some headway on the book proposal I said I was going to finish months ago......and then promptly taking this unnecessary detour to write twenty-five hundred words about a Paul Simon concert simply because I felt like it. Some real clown shit happening right here, hope it was worth it!

Anyway, I’m starting a search party for my missing sense of focus; please help if you can!  

okay thanks sorry love u bye,
carrie


SOME THOUGHTS I HAVE BEEN THINKING
there is a girl in new york city who calls herself the human trampoline

It’s an August night in 1991 — by all accounts a perfect summer night, the sky clear after threatening rain all day, the temperature hovering at a classic all-American 82º that refuses the sticky inclinations of most New York summer days — and Paul Simon is singing about Memphis, Tennessee to thousands of New Yorkers when suddenly they erupt in cheers so loud they nearly drown him out. Reports of just how large the sea of people packed tightly into Central Park’s Great Lawn that night vary; some estimated it to be as large as 750,000, while others placed the number at a more conservative 48,500 (the Lawn’s capacity, apparently). In their review of the show, the New York Times likened the crowd to “some vast teeming ant colony.” Whatever the size, when Paul Simon sings “there is a girl in New York City who calls herself the human trampoline” and they explode with hometown pride, their individual shouts and whoops and applause converging together, I am almost certain that that number is closer to the former than the latter. I am almost certain that I have never heard a sound so joyous. Tears are not the appropriate reaction to have to sound this happy, but when I hear it lately, that’s all that seem to come out.

When Paul Simon took the stage in Central Park that evening, he was two months away from turning 50 and despite his two previous best-selling albums — 1986’s Graceland and 1990’s The Rhythm of the Saints — offering plenty of meditations on growing older disguised as pop songs, old was the furthest thing from how Paul Simon looked. To the thunderous swell of the Brazilian drum corps Olodum playing the electrifying opening moments of “Obvious Child” — never more urgent, booming, and bursting at the seams with life — Simon strolled out with his guitar, wearing a purple tee shirt and blue blazer with what looks like some sort of Flat Stanley pinned to the lapel; he gave a small, boyish wave, and got right into singing a decidedly danceable song about middle aged life. The show just kept rolling from there, the set list stacked with such a perfect combination of past favorites and then-new releases — nearly all of which now, with nearly thirty years hindsight, comprise his greatest hits — that there seems to be no low point in programming, no moment when something new prompted a tepid response from an audience there to hear classics from the Simon and Garfunkel catalog or early solo cuts and little else. If you could own only one Paul Simon album, the double record from this night — aptly titled Paul Simon’s Concert in Central Park — is the one to place on your shelf. Most reports agree that a good time was had by all; only four arrests were made the entire evening. It’s as if it were, if not the perfect concert experience, pretty damn close. 

I wasn’t present for any of this; I was only a few months old when it happened. (Early in all this, I had the seemingly-brilliant idea to ignore my quarantine birthday and use this glitch in the timeline to start slyly shaving years off my age. I seem to have failed this endeavor quite quickly.) Bemoaning the feeling I was born at the wrong time, all I have ever had to cling to is a grainy YouTube video of the event. A little faded and soft around the edges like the 78 year old man Simon has now become, it is the perhaps third or fourth transfer of a VHS recording of the original live broadcast on HBO; every performer’s features blur to a point of just on this side of tolerable. I’ve watched this video countless times over the past decade, always wishing I could be there, but now more so than ever. 

Remember crowds? Remember touching? Remember singing along to music at the top of your lungs in public without a piece of cloth across your face? Where in previous summers Simon’s Concert in Central Park was a gleeful way to keep post-concert blues at bay between an otherwise packed schedule of shows, now it’s all I can do to not cry while listening to it, overwhelmed by the sense memory of standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers in one big, effervescent crowd. I would give anything to stuff my office desk drawers with every pair of jean shorts I own, to build out a secondary closet meant to be hastily scrambled into within the confines of a cold, cramped stall in the office bathroom like a sort of Clark Kent, trading my workplace identity for my after-hours one. I would give anything for one more evening spent sweaty and with a two drink buzz and simultaneously thirsty and needing to pee for three hours but holding both for later because there are only two circumstances in which I’m leaving my spot near the front of the stage: if the show is over or I’m carried out on a stretcher. I would give anything to be surrounded by thousands of different people brought together by this one specific thing. I would give anything to check out of the real world for a few hours, let go of any self-consciousness, and revel in the carefree euphoria of listening to music I love.

When I rewatch videos of the concert now, I no longer find its aged quality endearing. It’s just sad. I want so badly to be able to make out the features on the faces in the front row, to be able to leech a bit of their joy out from behind the computer screen. I want what they have, even if I can barely see it. 

*

Simon frontloads the concert with some of the most depressing of his then-newest songs: “She Moves On”, “The Boy in the Bubble”, “Train in the Distance.” Lyrically speaking, they’re real bummers, songs about divorce and disappointment and global despair, but well-received when fed to the audience sugarcoated in danceable beats or mellow soft rock. It’s hard to digest the lyrics, hard to have a bad time listening to them, when the music is so right. 

Simon wrote “The Boy in the Bubble” — the track that immediately follows “The Obvious Child” — in 1986, depicting a fraught moment in humanity in which a Venn diagram of technology’s advancements intersection with technology’s harm was beginning to eek its way closer to just being a circle. “These are the days of miracle and wonder,” Simon sings, and when I was in my early twenties, I took those words too literally, with too much naive earnestness. Sure, I might be able to watch the world self destruct in real time on my iPhone, and sure, that same phone’s camera might share more things than it really should, but all I wanted to focus on was the miracle of being able to access information or document things with the tap of a finger in the first place. After all, I was young, and there was so much to know and so much fleeting youth to capture. Any time I listened to the song, it seemed to be on a steamy New York summer evening, always on the run to something, in that specific kind of mood where the possibilities for adventure felt infinite and awaiting me at my destination. It was easy to listen to Simon when he urged don’t cry, baby, don’t cry. Why would I want to?

But lately it’s been harder to find the miracle and wonder in all this. It’s hard to remember that those who once marveled at long distance calls are now in awe of Zoom’s ability to instantly connect us with anyone in the world via video when you’re staring back at the thumbnail of your reflection in the corner and willing the screen to not drain all your emotional energy. It’s hard to think medicine is magical when a vaccine seems not only so far away, but likely to end up at the mercy of monied interests, saved for the highest bidders rather than the most vulnerable. Has this generation thrown a hero up the pop charts who hasn’t been canceled yet? 

On the live version, Simon slows it down; the new pace blunts some of the recorded version’s cold, dance-y punch. The weight of the words seems to sink a little deeper, at least, it does when you just listen to the track on its own. On video, when the camera pans the audience, large chunks seem to be moving as one, rollicking back and forth in waves. They have what I once had, too, not long ago: the sort of disconnect from cynicism that makes it possible to dance so easily. 

*

The “Graceland” moment arrives a little over halfway through the show. By now, the early evening golden hour light has given way to darkness and I can imagine the air is thick with marijuana smoke and everyone is so in their groove that when the bassline begins to rip like a car engine revving, they are more than ready to hop in and go. “Graceland” is one Paul Simon’s most well-known songs, a track that, if not impossible to not like, then impossible to have gone through life never hearing. A post-breakup travelogue through the American south, it is at once a breakdown song and a breakthrough song. It is about the one thing we cannot seem to do right now, no matter how much we wish: running away from that which troubles us, hoping that, even if we don’t find enlightenment at the end of our pilgrimage, then at least some distraction will come our way on the open road.  

I can’t remember the first time I heard “Graceland.” A song so ubiquitous is bound to be heard for the first time over a tinny PA system in some fluorescent lit space like a grocery store or a CVS; I mean really heard and bowled over by it. I do remember, though, riding my bike home from the library one pre-teen summer afternoon with CD copies of Graceland and Concert in the Park, both of which I immediately took downstairs to my basement to rip on the family Dell. (Some of you were cool enough to pirate your music from Napster or Limewire; I was not allowed — and also not very cool — and thus spent many youthful afternoons manually flipping through CD racks at the public library as a form of music discovery.) A few summers later, when I upgraded my five speed for my mom’s minivan, “Graceland” was a stereo system staple. It stuck through the years, my understanding of its meaning evolving (all those allusions to Carrie Fisher!) but my love for it never wavering.

In recent years, though, I’ve revisited the song and the album often, always bracing myself to reckon with it (beyond the whole “yeah, breaking the boycott of Apartheid-era Africa was fucked up!” thing). I’ve braced myself to find Simon’s depiction of the women in his life problematic or his use of South African musicians more appropriation than appreciation. I’ve braced myself to be angry, or to be heartbroken, or to be confused over whether or not I had to reconsider my relationship with another musician’s work. So far, Graceland has managed to escape this fate, though I’m never so sure if it does so rightfully, or if I’m too attached to it by now to make the sacrifice.

*

I saw Paul Simon perform live for the first — and likely last — time in the summer of 2016 at Forest Hills Stadium, for what was to be both the Queens native’s triumphant homecoming after 46 years and his graceful final bow. (Like many artists before and likely many to come, Simon would play one more final final tour two years later.) The concert took place on the anniversary of the day I became a rent paying post-grad New York resident (a New York-versary I consider distinctly separate from the day I started at NYU) and here I was, celebrating the occasion alone in an old stone tennis stadium in Queens soaking wet under a cheap plastic poncho I had bought in a hurry at the Duane Reade in the Oculus that afternoon. Thunderstorms rattled through the area and a tornado watch was in effect, but even as the torrential downpours soaked the stage, the show refused to be canceled; they simply delayed the start time by an hour and waited for the sky to clear. Fifteen rows back, I passed time making small talk with an older couple sitting next to me; people love to talk to you when you’re one of the few lone millennials at any event targeted towards the senior demo. The woman was shocked to learn that I routinely went to concerts alone. “You don’t need to bring a friend to go to church,” I remember replying with a warm smile. The situation was nothing short of miserable; I was deliriously happy. 

Paul Simon didn’t play “Graceland” that night, the one gaping hole in an otherwise flawless setlist. And so as much as I like to think that night in Forest Hills was the closest I will ever get to my own Concert in Central Park, there’s still that crucial part left unfulfilled. I can know what it is like to see the electric shock of the opening notes of “You Can Call Me Al” force everyone who was sitting up until that moment to leap to their feet and start dancing — even the salty ones who had yelled at you for standing a few minutes before. I can know what it is like to watch as the sky suddenly cracks open the moment Simon leads the band into the chorus and the crowd simply dances even harder in the rain, their motions even bigger, rejoicing in the cosmic force of nature’s impeccable timing. I can know what it is like to pack in tightly with strangers at the foot of the stage, bruised and bleeding from falling while climbing over slippery metal folding chairs to get there, but anesthetized to the pain by the hymnal way our voices came together to fill in “The Boxer”’s lie la lies. I can know what it is like to stand in hushed reverence with 15,000 strangers making real “The Sound of Silence.”

But I will perhaps never know what it is like to capture that one glorious moment of recognition, of camaraderie, of hometown pride in a song that is not at all about our hometown, to feel like, in that moment, you or I or any one of us could be the human trampoline. And so I listen. And so I watch, again and again.


LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!

WATCH
Babyteeth hive, where y’all at? Truly was not expecting this film to slap so hard — that cast! that script! that cinematography! that soundtrack! — but I’m glad it did. I still have a lot to catch up on, but this might be my favorite film of the year? (An aside: Hollywood, please, I just want Eliza Scanlen to have a beach scene where she is happy and thriving and not, uh, on her deathbed. I feel like that’s not asking for much.)

LISTEN
This season of You Must Remember This is just…*chefs kiss.* Karina Longworth’s attempt to tell the complete story of Polly Platt’s life and career, which for too long existed in the shadow of her ex-husband Peter Bogdanovich, is not just expertly crafted; it’s a necessary corrective to the Easy Riders, Raging Bulls narrative, exposing the ways in which Hollywood’s new ~progressive~ era was still not! great! for! women!

ICYMI

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thoughts you have on big walks through manhattan while listening to the new phoebe bridgers album

sad girl summer said "hot girl summer WHO?"

hey hi hello. have you done your part to demand justice for breonna taylor today? (i will wait.)

okay. hi. how are we all doing on our, uh, 100something day of quar? are you all as skeptical of reopening plans as i am? does it also fill your little rule following body with hot rage whenever you see someone out without a face covering? are you also on the “orders novelty masks” stage of this yet? are you remembering the hot girl summer of yesteryear and laughing because hot girl summer feels both like it happened a decade ago and like it can never happen again? then this is for you!

yes, folks, you heard that right! here i am showing up in your inboxes again with some real sad girl nonsense:

i should note as a disclaimer that i’m not actually a sad girl, i just contain a lot of sad girl energy. i am sorry to say, though, that i currently do not have the mental bandwidth to explain the difference to those confused by this because i also have a lot of dumb bitch energy* and you can find the definitions of both on the internet pretty easily. (*but also because i am so very tired from being woken up every. single. hour. from 12 to 4 a.m. for the past week by illegal fireworks that sound like explosions and are ABSOLUTELY sus and likely being funded by the cops as psychological warfare do NOT @ me, just read this long thread.)

anyway. gonna go for another big walk now even though it’s like 90º and i have plenty of other things i should be doing.

thanks sorry love u bye,
carrie


thoughts you have on big walks through manhattan while listening to the new phoebe bridgers album and wanting to cry

This is a strange summer.

This is a strange summer in a strange city, I say out loud, accidentally, more to myself than anyone else. I am walking around the reservoir in Central Park and thinking about that Eve Babitz essay, “Weird August,” the one she opens by talking about how oppressive the weather is in Los Angeles that August. “Ratty,” she called it. Ratty. I can visualize the word printed on the page of the copy of Black Swans I borrowed from a friend last summer then kept for myself after it became too waterlogged and warped and overly underlined in my possession to return in good conscience. I wonder what word Eve would use to describe the way things are now. 

What a strange summer, indeed, in a weird limbo between past and present, normal and distinctly not, reality and something altered. The liminal space of summers. The windows of the regal old buildings on Central Park West still glisten with the reservoir’s reflection; the sky is still often so blue it hurts your eyes; sweat beads are still forming small constellations across my back as I walk. The city’s ever present seasonal perfume of hot garbage and urine is still here — it must be, it has to be — but now a little harder to detect through my mask. I hear the trains are still fucked, but I wouldn’t know; I have not been on the subway in three months. My job has never been more flexible but my work ethic and focus seem to have all but disappeared. The city always feels a little emptier in the summer but now it’s really empty. Leaving has become not just a choice afforded to only the wealthy but a decision forced upon those who can no longer afford to stay. White millennials brunch maskless in the park, scattered through the Great Lawn on blankets in clusters that from far away look kind of like the cells of the virus causing nearby Mount Sinai ambulance sirens to wail. A viral tweet went around calling this strange summer — with its absence of rich people, tourists, and 50 hour work weeks — the best New York summer only for someone else to quote tweet it and call it — with its ongoing pandemic, police brutality at peaceful protests, and rampant unemployment — the worst. Is it possible for it to be both?

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the years I spent feeling like I had been born in the wrong era and wishing I could time travel back to 1968 so I could live through something. Live through something, I say, and I think about Lady Bird complaining that the only thing interesting about 2002 is that it’s a palindrome. I’m a millennial; I’ve always been living through something: 9/11, Bush, the Iraq War, the Great Recession, Trump (a shortlist, of course). The only difference, I thought, was that back then living through something meant doing something about it, and all my generation seemed to do was sit back and watch the world collapse in front of us and shrug in resignation and maybe pop off a morbidly funny tweet or two. Live through something, I say, and I think about the time I told a much older friend that I wished I had a time machine and instead of the usual bullshit reply my other grown up friends usually give me about how wrong I was, about how I was born when I was supposed to be born, she said she wished I had one, too. Live through something, I say, and I think about my mom on the phone early on in the pandemic telling me that this would probably be the hardest thing I’d have to go through in my lifetime. The hardest thing I’d have to go through in my lifetime, as if my lifetime weren’t already stuffed full of hardest things, as if having to wear a mask and stay inside and wash my hands more often qualified as a hardest thing. God. I’m tired.

Earlier this month I spent a solid week clocking an average of four hours of sleep, scrolling through Twitter, watching my feed continuously refresh with videos of the NYPD beating people my age and charts of changing hospitalization rates and empty talking points from politicians until I’d glance at the clock and find myself shocked by the single digits signifying early morning staring back at me. 1968, with its morning papers and evening Cronkite broadcasts, feels quaint now. The news was bad, but at least they didn’t have to watch it all the time. 

These days I run less but run my mouth more, so I’ve taken up big walks: walks that hit double digit miles, walks that leave me just the right amount of sore and sweaty and sunburnt to feel like I’ve done something; walks that take my eyes away from my newsfeed; walks that air out my overactive brain; walks that keep me from calling an emotionally unavailable man in LA; walks that help me put off a bit longer starting the book proposal I told an agent I’d write in April; walks that keep me from self-destructively tweeting the slightest amount of criticism that has already gotten me in trouble twice about the very well-publicized ways in which my workplace is currently looking something like the Titanic after it snapped in half. I notice things I never noticed before: the specific spot on the Riverside Drive viaduct over 125th Street where you can smell the bacon cooking at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que below, the pair of Beaux-Arts mansions on 108th street, the brownstone backyards with clothes hanging out on a line to dry in the sun, the various homeless camps once active that now sit abandoned. I am very good at being by myself. I am even better at avoiding things.

It’s a Thursday in June and I am on one of those big walks snaking its way down Riverside Drive to wind up in Central Park. I have walked six miles already and will probably walk six more before the day is done and I am on my fifth consecutive hour of listening to the new Phoebe Bridgers album and when the title track, a tribute to Elliott Smith, starts to play again for the who knows what time, I want to cry. 

And it’s not that I want to cry because almost every Phoebe Bridgers song is guttingly sad and therefore almost always makes me want to cry, and it’s not because Phoebe Bridgers is singing about Elliott Smith, but because when she’s singing about her relationship with her dead idol, she’s singing about about me and and any one of my dead idols, too. Maybe she’s also singing about you and yours, the people who have made things that changed our lives, the people for whom our love is so great that it’s somehow become part of our identities — even if only as a dinner party conversation starter — despite the fact that we have never actually met and never will. 

When Phoebe ruminates on Smith’s life while walking through Los Angeles, I think about the younger version of myself who spent her earliest days in this city doing the same, chasing the ghosts of kindred spirits and personal deities. “I am trying to place myself in history,” Joan Didion once wrote. I underlined that sentence in South and West so many times I almost tore through the page. New York, to me, has always been a city of history in which to place myself, a city in which places are not just places, but containers of energy. Somehow, I thought, being in proximity to some tangible object was a way to conjure inspiration, a way to pay my respects. These structures — apartments lived in, bars frequented, studios worked at, organizations inspired, park benches dedicated to — are just tangentially related stand-ins for the real thing; they’re all we have, in some ways, to feel some sort of closeness with people we have never and will never be close to. 

I cannot lie and say I don’t still do this from time to time, that I don’t sometimes walk by certain buildings or sit on certain park benches and mentally say hello to whatever sliver of spirit of persons since gone might reside there. As if I could conduct telepathy through architecture, as if I’m communing with ghosts I’ve never known, much as it feels like I do. Only once have I let a small “thank you” slip out loud, a whisper barely loud enough for my own ears to discern, but still immediately countered with my brain’s surprised internal dialogue: Wow, I don’t know why I just did that. Wow, that was weird. Wow, how embarrassing. Wow, well, wherever you are, I guess I hope you heard it.

The dead can’t talk back, and who knows if they can even hear, but it sure is easier this way. There’s less pressure to get it right, to say that one thing you’d rehearse over and over in your mind while waiting in line for someone you care about to sign an album or a book before moving on to the next. Like Phoebe sings, if we ever had the chance to talk to the real deal, we’d probably blow it.

And the joke, of course, is that our personal sacred spaces often hold no importance to others. I think this as I continue to play “Punisher” on a loop, sitting on a bench that is not my favorite one, the one I visit sporadically, but the one next to it. My hallowed space is occupied by an insufferable millennial on an insufferably loud business call discussing the insufferable millennial cookware brand for which she works. I always said that all I want when I die is a plaque dedicated bench in the park. Now, I can’t help but think if anyone with a Central Park bench had even the tiniest bit of their dead soul lingering there, it must really suck. Having to spend most of your time in the company of clueless assholes sounds pretty close to a description of hell.

This is a strange summer, and I am thinking about that poem about New York City summers I read in a copy of the New Yorker a few years ago and have thought about every summer since. “There will never be more of summer than there is now,” it starts. June is nearly over, the remaining days left of Good Summer almost used up. Any other year, Bad Summer would be just around the corner, but I can’t help but think Bad Summer is already here.

This summer holds none of the usual novelty of the season, none of the false promises all the bildungsromans and teen comedies in the world seek to make us believe. This summer will not be one full of infinite possibilities, of transformations, of reckless abandon and long, sweaty nights with strangers and adventures to faraway places (or, at least, just Rockaway Beach) or road trips in rented cars with the AC and music turned up too high. This summer just is. The air hangs heavier, thick with the listlessness which consumes us. I am missing all the things I never even did when summer was good, when summer was normal.

And I don’t know, maybe I’m full of shit here, but maybe that’s the whole point of this summer that is strange, yes, but neither good nor bad in entirety: to remind us of the things and the people we miss, both known and not. And maybe summer will never be normal again. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it needs to be something new instead.

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madeline kahn would have said acab

i said what i said

HELLO! This newsletter is brief and probably grossly self-promotional but you know what! Fuck it! The world is falling apart and I did not spend an entire month of my life in the midst of the wreckage working on this essay to not pimp it out when it was finally published.

That said:

Early in quarantine, I stayed awake until 4 a.m. one night watching Madeline Kahn videos on YouTube — because time isn't real and because I desperately needed to laugh — and stumbled upon her final film, this relatively obscure black-and-white indie from 1999 called Judy Berlin. It is so remarkably unlike anything else she's done; I fell in love with it instantly.

I went long (the longest I’ve ever gone…that’s been published in its entirety and not hacked down to like 1200 words) on Madeline Kahn, her oft-unappreciated dramatic range and the deep insecurities underneath her public persona, and her criminally under-seen final performance in Judy Berlin for Bright Wall/Dark Room.

I know there’s *gestures wildly* so much happening right now and asking people to take 10 minutes away from it all to think about something else is a lot, but this is one of my top 5 most important and special pieces I’ve ever done and I’m proud of it and want to share it! For one thing, after this week of shitty media news (that’s all I can say without getting fired and/or sued lol), it was a nice reminder that there are truly good, reader-supported outlets that not only let me with pieces like this — which would be rejected anywhere like Vanity Fair or something because there’s no ~current~ peg — but encourage me to do so. For another, this is exactly the kind of work I want to do forever: writing about people I love and admire, shining a light on their nuances and the ways their legacies have been ignored, forgotten, or, in Madeline’s case, flattened.

p.s. — if you read this and you like it, or if you’re like “oh shit an obscure Madeline Kahn film sounds interesting!” and you want to watch, Judy Berlin is, unfortunately, only available on random used DVDs on Amazon or eBay. But lucky for you! You have a hookup! Contact me (info below) and I will send you my digital copy!

p.p.s. — i hope y’all are still wearing face masks and washing your hands because even though things are opening up again coronavirus is still very much a thing; literally nothing has changed except the fact that hospitals now have a bed for you to die in! and also i hope y’all are contacting your representatives to defund and abolish the police and reallocate those resources back into your communities!!! :)

p.p.p.s. (is that what the next one is is?) — don’t be like this tool; madeline kahn was very progressive and absolutely would have said acab (but probably make the b stand for “bad” instead of “bastards” because she was exceedingly polite)

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what i miss

sorry in advance this newsletter has a lot of dead women in it

Today would have been Nora Ephron’s 79th birthday. Nora, true Alpha Taurus and inventor of fall, was not shy about sharing her myriad opinions and the things in life that she found pleasurable and the things in life she disdained. (Sound like anyone we know?) Nora was not generally considered a private person — until, of course, she died unexpectedly in 2012 after a long, unpublicized battle with a rare form of leukemia, and we discovered that she was. In small ways, though, she managed to keep her illness a secret while simultaneously turning it, as was her way, into copy.

The final two essays of her last book, I Remember Nothing, aren’t actually essays at all. Rather, they’re lists, one of things she would miss, and one of the things she absolutely would not.

Today’s newsletter — the first in a very long time, I’m sorry! — isn’t really an essay either. Instead, partly inspired by others I’ve seen doing this and Nora, it’s my own spin on that list: things I miss and don’t miss — big and small — about life before all *gestures wildly* this.

nora, if you can hear me wherever you are……bitch, i miss u.

thanks sorry love you bye,
carrie


What I miss

Quiet late night subway rides home from being out · Dinners with friends when you say fuck it and go ahead and order that final glass of wine that puts you over into the one-too-many realm · Running in Central Park · Walking around downtown with nothing to do · Being able to go anywhere, whenever I want · Running in general — I don’t know how any of you do it with a mask, I simply cannot · Lucky Strike (RIP), Lupe’s, Little Prince, B Bar, Grey Dog, and every other downtown restaurant I’ve ever frequented · Concerts, but specifically summer concerts at Forest Hills Stadium (I pre-miss them) · My bootcamp class and my favorite elliptical at the gym · The shoes I left under my desk at work · Dressing up · My desk at work (!!??) · Meetings that weren’t Zoom · Stopping at Whole Foods on my way home from work approximately 4 nights a week · The cold bar at Whole Foods (I’m unwell) · Self serve fro-yo places · Going to a just-okay, relatively forgettable but enjoyable nonetheless movie at the Lincoln Square AMC early Saturday afternoons after the gym, whereupon my first meal of the day ends up being candy and movie theater popcorn, because I am Well · Going to the movies after work where my dinner is a glass of wine and movie theater popcorn, because I am Well · Coming over the bridge to Manhattan (okay this one I stole from Nora but oof it HITS) · MY FRIENDS! And being able to see them IN REAL LIFE (double for my older ones, double for the spontaneous hangs) · Kissing · Hugs

What I don’t miss

Tourists who walk slow · Tourists who walk slow, spread across the entire width of a sidewalk · Tourists who walk slow and stop at random on the sidewalk · Tourists, just, like, in general · Being on the same uptown A as the busker who only ever performs a bad karaoke version “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5 at least once a week · It’s showtime! · When the trains inexplicably run 20 minutes apart · When the express runs local after 11 p.m. (wow all of these are getting to be about the subway!) · The Oculus · The sub-zero temperatures and weird airplane-like air pressure of 1WTC · Open office chatter forcing me to travel to different floors and weird nooks to find quiet spaces to work · Sad desk salads from Pret · Leaving my apartment at 6:30 a.m. and coming home around 8 p.m. nearly every day · Going to the gym before work (and thus having to carry my gym bag with me anywhere I go) · Spending $127 a month for the MTA · Spending who knows how much a month on Ubers because the MTA sucks · Feeling like I needed to run or go to the gym every. single. day. · Nights where you have too many things planned across the city that are not easily accessible via subway so you’re doing a lot of running and/or cabbing · Meetings · FOMO


WATCH

While you’re here, pour one out for queen of queens Gilda Radner, who died this week in 1989. (Actually, on my birthday — although not the same year — which always makes me a little extra sad on top of the usual I’m sad on my birthday bullshit.) Below, the two videos I watch religiously each year. There are plenty of other clips of Gilda that are funnier or more iconic, but something about these two makes me laugh hysterically AND cry at the same time, every. single. time. She was so wonderful and she is so missed.

Honey (Touch Me With My Clothes On) | Gilda Live, 1980
Dancing In The Dark | SNL, 1978

LISTEN

Today I am also choosing to be upset that Madeline Kahn died before she could realize her longtime toyed-with idea of doing a one woman cabaret show called Kahn-cepts.

(oh god i’m sorry this has just turned into the dead funny ladies newsletter but, well, no one is forcing you to read this.)

Anyway. I just wrote a longass profile of Kahn and in doing so, tumbled down a research rabbit hole that reignited my teenage admiration and lady hero-worship. Bitch had the range (literally, as in she was operatically trained, but also, like, the emotional range!!!), and her lovely, nuanced take on “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” performed at a 1995 benefit concert is just further bittersweet proof.

THINGS I WROTE OR DID

ICYMI, I went long on Working Girl (1988) and class politics and New York City and ~belonging~ for Bright Wall/Dark Room

###

friendly reminder that if you missed any previous emails, you can read the archive here.

my dms / replies / emails / calls and textses are always open. say hi.

okay that's it that's the end thanks bye

things to boost your mood in the face of a global pandemic, vol. ii

nary a sourdough starter in sight

hey hi hello. greetings, once again, from my quarantine bunker.

It has been 84 years [*taps earpiece* i’m sorry, i’m getting reports that it’s actually only been 30 days] and the wild ping-ponging between feeling listless and unmotivated to do anything but play solitaire on my phone, scrolling through the Gothamist coronavirus updates, playing a fun game called “is it a sick headache or a regular one? allergies or asthma or the virus?”, and trying to work or write while dealing with a brain that’s like “lol what is this? we don’t know how???” ,,,,,,,,,,, is getting to me.

Things are very bad right now, worse than even I — someone who always, without fail, jumps immediately to the worst case scenario while yelling “parkour!” — thought they would be a few weeks ago when I sent the first list of feel-better distractions.

The people have been asking for more (no) so here we are, back at it again at Krispy Kreme with another (chaotic) list of things that have been pulling me away from my lizard brain for a bit. As always, take what you need and pass it on. (And wash your fucking hands and stay the fuck home — social distancing, as I screamed at a group of teens across the street from me the other day, is not an excuse to skateboard with your buddies — and please save the medical grade face masks for healthcare workers and at-risk people, I mean, fuck, how many times do we have to say it!!!)

woo, felt good to say all that. anyway thanks sorry love you bye,
carrie


Some choice films to stream that — and this is key right now — are feel-good type movies impossible to feel bad watching that don’t require a ton of heavy lifting from your brain:

  • Tootsie (a perfect movie) is on Netflix, as is The First Wives Club, along with the hands down best family film (this is a fact, not an opinion) that is actually enjoyable for adults, It Takes Two.

  • Moonstruck (perfect film) is on Amazon Prime, and so is Shampoo, another perfect film. (Can’t believe it was legal for Warren Beatty to be that hot and also that smart.)

  • And………Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is now available to rent or buy on your preferred streaming platform. Because we are all Marmee baking in the middle of the night now.

I have never worked out less in my life but I HAVE been watching a lot of vintage workouts and this one by Debbie Reynolds (in which Shelley Winters goes delightfully rogue) and this “unworkout” by Dixie Carter……… I simply cannot believe either are real.

This hypothetical 30 Rock coronavirus episode is so good I wish they could actually make it.

Patti Lupone’s chaotic tours of her basement on Twitter. Glenn Close’s near-daily uplifting Instagram videos (they are my Xanax). Jane Fonda’s increasingly off-the-rails social media presence. Diane Keaton’s always-left-of-center Instagram becoming even more unhinged. (Really, can’t say I had “Diane Keaton sharing an unboxing video that reveals a TOOTH she lost” on my quarantine bingo card.) Once again, folks, actresses 60+ are doing quarantine content better than literally anyone else right now.

Tiger King memes.

This Fran Lebowitz interview in the New Yorker is, quite simply, everything. (“Let me put it this way: when they compile a list of the heroes of this era, I will not be on it.” — I hope she lives forever.)

This 3-year-old’s daily walk greeting. (Honestly, any cute baby/toddler content. If you have some, send ‘em my way.)

I said nary a sourdough starter in sight but I did NOT say I wouldn’t drop the link to that New Yorker soup recipe.

Every day I watch the opening titles of Working Girl at least once.

I also regularly watch the final scene of Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and weep at how perfect it is and how much I STAN Alexandre Desplat’s “The Book” (and his score as a whole to the extent that, YES, I bought a vinyl copy of it) and how smart I find the “twist” no matter how many times I watch and I will NOT apologize for that!!!

You’re going nowhere, but, fuck it, get dressed. Seriously, dressing up like Diane Keaton for trips outside makes me feel alive again (albeit briefly). As did donning a vintage gown I’ve only worn once just to watch Reds for the second time in 24 hours. (Feel like we’re really devolving here into every sentence I write warranting another alarmed “jesus carrie how old ARE you”) Anyway. Costumes are great. Costumes are transformative. I highly encourage them.

Jenny Lewis has been going live on Instagram at 11:36 pm est many nights to play new songs or just dick around in her kitchen while listening to Serge Gainsbourg’s Aux Armes Et Caetera and it’s like hanging out with a pal!

Criterion Channel released a stylish ‘70s collection featuring What’s Up, Doc?, Shampoo, Klute, and more and it is COMFORTING to have a lot of time machine vibes right now.

Columbo (I’m just going to say that young Peter Falk was lowkey hot and leave that there) is free on Amazon Prime [ Many old men have approached me while I elliptical at the gym to ask if it’s Columbo I am watching on my iPhone,,,,,,,miss them :’( ]

The new Waxahatchee album is a masterpiece and a world to climb inside, and also the new(ish) Soccer Mommy album.

New Phoebe Bridgers! New Phoebe Bridgers!

The new Vulfpeck single, a return to their feel-good old school funk roots.

Carey O’Donnell’s Twitter is a joy, particularly the videos in which he recreates Sex and the City scenes.

Scooter around the house. Honestly, why the fuck not. The simulation is glitching. Do whatever you want. There are no rule anymore.

And, a flash of shameless self promotion: Elaine May’s Ishtar is on Amazon Prime and there is NO better time than now to watch it. (Since this all started, I have convinced four people to do so.) Tonight (Friday, 4/10) I’m hosting a livetweet watch party of it with Bright Wall/Dark Room at midnight est/9 pm pst. Join in; I can promise it will be hilarious and chaotic and a lot of — probably slightly intoxicated — fun.)

###

friendly reminder that if you missed any previous emails, you can read the archive here.

my dms / replies / emails / calls and textses are always open. say hi.

okay that's it that's the end thanks bye

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