I don’t really know how to start this other than to say we live in actual hell and I’m just so tired.
I'm so tired of being so scared and sad all the time. I’m tired of going to sleep in the aftermath of one tragedy and waking up to news of another. I’m tired of our white supremacist piece of shit president and Senate majority leader. I’m tired of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” arguments. I’m tired of reading about children dying because we care more about an outdated piece of paper that was intended to evolve along with our times yet somehow hasn’t than we do about actual human beings.
I’m tired of being hyper-aware of my surroundings every time I go out, of passing heavily armed members of the Army and NYPD every time I buy groceries at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods or walk through the Oculus to go to work, of always choosing the aisle seat at the movies and tensing up any time the theater doors open, of standing on the side of the stage at shows, sacrificing viewing life clearly from the center in favor of the clearest path to an exit.
The kind of tired I am isn’t the kind of tired you get when you feel like you just don’t have it in you to keep your eyes open any longer. It’s the kind of belligerent, angry tired you get when you’ve been awake for far too long, where anyone standing in your way better watch out. I hope that’s the kind of tired you all are too.
I wrote this week’s newsletter last week, but held off on sending it because, I mean, how could I? There are more important things to read and focus on. Today, though, I’ve been trying to consume more of the things that make me feel better, or at least take my mind off just how fucked everything is for a moment or two. Maybe this can be that for you.
okay thanks sorry love u bye,
SOME THOUGHTS I HAVE BEEN THINKING
alexa, play “thinning” by snail mail
The heat finally broke this week. Heat makes your body hold onto things, anger and sadness mixing with the heaviness of retained water. This summer’s heat wave was a maddening kind of warmth, the kind that forced me to slow down in the kind of abruptly brutal way that I somehow spun into being a fault of my own. I wasn’t smart enough to think clearly through the heat. I wasn’t fit enough to run through it. I wasn’t friendly enough to keep social plans, even when I felt like my body was shutting down, with every step I took feeling like it was through quicksand while my vision's focus faded in and out. A bunch of “not ___ enough”s and “I never…”s tumbling and snowballing together, one right after the other. I don’t know how to slow down, only come to a juddering stop, and it never seems to work out for me.
It’s August already, the beginning of the long, slow exhale that is summer bleeding into fall and I’m thinking the same thing I always think this time of year: that I wasted summer, that I didn’t have any of the adventures or achievements I longed for, not even close. One of these days I’ll realize that that’s just not the kind of person I am or will ever be — impulsive and adventurous — but that day won’t be today. This summer, I’ve felt time differently than others, like I’m more than a year older than I was last summer, like I’m starting to speak about things more in the past tense than future, like my days of being the youngest one in the room are beginning to fade away.
I spent the first day of the month seeing Snail Mail at Webster Hall — an old relic of New York’s past that has been shut down and remodeled about 200 times but continues to persevere — with a friend who’s six years younger than me and living in New York for the first time. Hanging out with her often gives me a strange sense of deja vu. She reminds me so much of me when I was that age: green and eager, smarter than I gave myself credit for, trying to carve out my place in this glorious mess of a city and jump head first into shark-infested media world waters — and living in an overpriced Lower East Side apartment while doing so. This time of year always makes me nostalgic, and I’ve been thinking about the girl I was my first post-college year here a lot this summer, for reasons I don’t exactly know but am not fighting — trying to keep on nodding terms with who I used to be like Didion says and all.
Standing where we had wormed our way through the crowd to the side of the stage, I sipped a bottled water and watched 20-year-old Lindsey Jordan shred, a tiny package of energy bursting with DGAF attitude. The girl I was a few years ago used to go to every show sober. “I want to be able to remember every single detail,” I’d tell friends. I don’t remember when I started feeling like I had to nurse at least one drink throughout the night just to feel comfortable in a crowd, when I started to hyper-plan whether or not I’d cut out early to make it home before the trains ran local, when I started to wake up in the morning feeling like I was just too old to keep doing this on a weeknight.
A drink might have made me cry more at Snail Mail’s set, but I just didn't feel like it. Instead, I turned my sharp focus on the confident control with which Jordan commanded the entire set. Already building indie buzz for the past few years, Jordan exploded last summer with Lush, her full-length debut. When I both spoke to her about the album and saw her perform it live for the first time that fall, while confident and full of energy, there was something still nervous about her, like she was still playing catch-up with it all. Her answers to my questions were rapid and breathless and peppered with “like”s; on stage, her already-raspy voice was strained by overuse, to the point where some of the songs elicited disappointed internal cringes.
Nearly a year later, though, her voice whispered and wailed, the audience both wrapt, near-silently absorbing Jordan’s most painfully vulnerable lyrics coming out with the strength of a scream, and clamorous, shouting along in such cathartic release to her popular single “Pristine” so loudly that they nearly drowned her out.
The night before, Jordan had played to a sold-out audience at Brooklyn Steel. “I thought about changing around the setlist, but, uh, I decided this is the set I like to play, so fuck it,” she said with the kind of lol fuck you if you don’t like it assuredness most often reserved for road veterans while tuning her guitar for the final song of the night. A decidedly unironic cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ 90s power ballad “Iris”, it was the kind of thing that could only be done by someone born a year after the song’s ubiquitousness pushed it into the realm of cheese. I sang along with everyone else, feeling both older than I’ve ever been and younger than I’ll ever be again at the same time.
Rock supergroups aren’t exactly a new thing; the canon is one that dates back to the 1960s. For decades, though, it was one that was overwhelmingly male. (More about that here in a brief history of all-female supergroups I put together for Pitchfork last year.) But tides have begun to turn. No longer are female musicians allowing themselves to be pitted against each other; instead, they’re banding together in increasing frequency to make music that stands up to the bro-y standards.
The Highwomen are the latest in the women-led supergroup canon. Comprised of Nashville hitmakers Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby — all challenging the conventions (and misogynistic perspective) of country music on their own individual — the group are on a mission to dismantle the system from inside the house and open it up for more marginalized voices.
Of course, any band can be a vehicle for a movement, but it’ll do a lot better if the music is actually good. From the tracks they’ve officially released so far and their full debut at the Newport Folk Festival, it seems safe to say they are a force to be reckoned with. Their first singles, “Redesigning Women” and “Crowded Table”, are sneakily subversive in how traditional they seem upon first listen, their melodies recalling days before frat boy country overtook the airwaves, with voices that blend together in a seamless compliment we haven’t heard since Trio. But pay attention to the lyrics that offer a 21st century update on the feminist anthems Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton godmothered in the ‘70s. The titular crowded table isn’t full with a big family for the mother to serve; it’s an inclusive gathering place for a community of artists, collaborators, and friends all finding homes within each other. Meanwhile, “Redesigning Women” cheekily calls out all the expectations placed on women to juggle everything and look good while doing it and the ways they rise — or sometimes stumble — to the occasion. Both songs are infectious and ready to be played on repeat-one — revolutions are a hell of a lot more invigorating when they have a good soundtrack.
The Crane Wife - CJ Hauser
Few things make me happier than when Twitter blows up with a piece that isn’t a hot take du jour that everyone insists their followers simply must read (okay so maybe this is often mostly a media/writer Twitter thing, but still, it’s a lot of people on the internet) — and it’s as good as everyone says.
CJ Hauser’s personal essay about her trip to travel to the Gulf Coast to research endangered whooping cranes 10 days after calling off her engagement is so much more than that. It’s about the love (or, rather, lack thereof) we condition ourselves to think we deserve, the lengths women go to in an effort to not seem needy, and what happens when we confront these twisted ideas we’ve for so long accepted as true. If it doesn’t make you at least a little emotional, then, I don’t know, get your brain checked or have them replace the battery parts in your heart or something.
Orange is the New Black, Season 7 (2019)
Speaking of nostalgia for my first ~grownup~ year in New York… When Orange is the New Black premiered in the summer of 2013, I would walk home to my overpriced Lower East Side apartment from my first post-college job every night and sit and watch it on a laptop whose battery was on the verge of quitting (but not before swelling up and costing $450 to replace) sitting on my bed in my closet-sized, closet-less bedroom. I might as well have been right there in a cell with the characters. In fact, there were some mornings when I woke up post-binge thinking I actually was for a brief moment.
Like any show that’s been around for seven seasons, it has waned. I quit watching somewhere around season four or five, still invested enough to read episode recaps on Vulture but not so much that I’d dedicate hours of my life watching it. The final season, released last week on Netflix, turned things around just in time for the farewells. It’s a satisfying ending, if not a slightly sad one that leaves you longing for something none of these characters want — a little more time.
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okay that's it that's the end thanks bye