Franzen is the Kanye West of Authors…Ramble

When Kayne West approached the Grammy stage to snatch Beck’s golden statue for Best Album of The Year, claiming it should have gone to Beyonce, he tried to make it a joke- at first. We all know the fall out, Kanye (for a completely different POV click on Kanye’s name) wasn’t kidding. He went on to say he doesn’t want to perform again at The Grammys until they change it to reflect popular sales. Hmm, then he went on to say it was an insult to artistry, but he hadn’t even listened to Beck’s album, Morning Phase, which had been hailed as a critical darling in indie circles. I also want to say his intro for Kanye’s own performance said it was his “most personal” and point out there is nothing less personal than using Autotune.

I’m not anti-Autotune, but let’s not kid ourselves. Here’s a link for Kanye and all the other people, who, instead of wanting to explore and make an informed rant, is Beck’s Morning Phase:

Well, now let’s turn to another accomplished, lauded artist, one who has graced the cover of TIME magazine for his work, won the Pulitzer Prize, Mr. Jonathan Franzen. Franzen has chosen to take many jabs at women’s fiction writer, Jennifer Weiner. While he hasn’t read her work, he says no one has told him it is a “must read” and she is using a real issue – the lack of review space given to female writers, as a platform to get attention when she doesn’t deserve it.

Dude. Come on, if you had read her work, I would think you had some valid points, but you are not A) her target demo B) too busy to take the take time to read it the way Kanye, who likes to call himself an arbiter of all things cultural, could have taken the time, pre-Grammys to listen to every album in the category of Best Albums that was nominated. If you never read or listen to music outside of what you like, how can you really know what is good and what is not?

As someone who has been paid to be a music programmer (Yahoo! Music & Vh1), and a writer, I have listened and read works I was not naturally drawn to, and found it not only expanded my knowledge, it expanded my own creativity. I don’t always agree with awards, mostly they are a broken thing, but they do help curate what is interesting.

I have read many award winning literary books which I found to lack a strong plot or interesting characters or deliver a good ending. How is Kanye’s lack of respect any different from Franzen’s? It negates their point, which might otherwise presented have been valid. If you are going to diss someone at least know what you are putting down and acknowledge that’s not going to be given to you as a suggestion because your crowd is caught up in one scene.

When you make statements, that have some merit, but no foundation of their own, it not only disrespects the other artist, it disrespects their fans. How likely am I to buy Kanye’s next album or his ridiculous Adidas lineKanye_3

How likely am I now to read another Jonathan Frazen book? The answer to all those questions, is highly unlikely, even if they have critical acclaim. Why should my cash line their pockets when they clearly value their own taste and are unwilling to leave room for anyone else’s? Fans who started the #whoisbeck Twitter campaign are also in need of some more cultural exposure. Why must we tweet about our own ignorance or make statements in the press about it? Why not show the courtesy to make an informed opinion and allow that while not your taste, it can be very important to other people.

My friend Courtney Smith’s book, Record Collecting For Girls, has a chapter on guilty pleasures. It was inspired by our conversations. I don’t believe in having musical guilty pleasures. If it speaks to you, if it helps you, touches you, makes you dance or feel good in any way, then go right ahead and enjoy it.

9780547502236_p0_v1_s260x420 However, Courtney calls bullshit on that in her book and says anyone who doesn’t say they have guilty pleasures is either boring or lying or an asshole. That was the chapter she read on a book panel we did during her book tour. I started with the question “did you call me an asshole?” We have lively debates to say the least, but during that panel people asked me the most questions because they wanted to know about the popular artists that I got to work with in pop music over obscure indie bands — yes, even in Brooklyn! Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.

Popular doesn’t mean bad. Jennifer Weiner is a fun, great writer who writes heartfelt stories about women that I can relate to, in fact, she is one of the reasons I got a dog. She wrote in her novel “Good in Bed,” every writer should have a dog. So, thank you, Jennifer Weiner for not only providing me and many other women with entertaining fiction we want to read. Thank you for standing up for female authors getting equal press coverage. Thank you for using the platform you EARNED for sticking up for everyone else who does not have it.

Happy Birthday Elle…Ramble

Four years ago today a tiny batpig was born. She has become my best friend, my canine kid, my little alpha at times, who has the sweetest soul. Elle changed my life completely. She made me look at the world differently, notice new things about human nature and connect with people in the neighborhood. She brought me back to life after an ongoing hardship.

I am so lucky to have this little batpig in my life. From the first day we met, she nibbled on furniture, fingers and toes. She retains that playful spirit but prefers to chase sticks and toys, much to the relief of my toes. Happy Birthday Elle!

ImageAnd today:

Birthday Baby

Birthday Baby

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5 Types of French Bulldogs I’m Obsessing Over on Instagram…Ramble

Hey – Buzzfeed isn’t the only one who likes Frenchies. I clearly LOVE them especially Elle! These are my wonderful Frenchie Brethren I just j’adore:

1. Breeders: while @sensationalbulldogs was the ultimate choice for Manny The Frenchie’s new bro Frank (really this name is terrible for a Frenchie. It’s neither French or clever and not cute enough for the adorable Blue baby! that’s why they don’t get a link!), my favorite breeder is @dakkydak‘s Bonsai Kennels. I like the vibe of Dak and his crew, who seem like they know how to enjoy San Diego and really, really care about the pups. Recently a 4 month old pup died and now Bonsai Kennels is doing a fundraiser for the couple’s hospital bills.

2. Frenchie + Cute Kid= @MiffySpiffy
Mom Celine has been on Instagram since she was first pregnant with now toddler Amber, documenting the adventures of fawn colored Plato. These two have so much fun and it’s amazing to see Amber grow and Plato’s patience as she tries to pull his ears off of his head!
3. Named after a food: Mr. Bobobear
Seriously? I just dare you to try not loving this little pied black and white batpig! Leader of the Frenchie In A Swing Movement (oh yeah, we Frenchie lovers are serious about fun!), I can’t get enough wondering what he’ll do next!
Tora & Meatball (see yes good names for Frenchies are things like Meatball & our little friend in DUMBO Gerkin, even Pickles down the street is our fave English bullie’s name but Frank? no. What a missed opportunity Manny’s parents. Seriously!) are patriotic, playful and they actually sit together while their humans dress them up.
Over in Finland (I love having Frenchie friends all over the globe!) Willem & Freek are an adorable pair of brindle black, brown and white Frenchies. Freek just turned one and, despite his young age, he has no fear when it comes to competing with Willem for toys!
Tofu and Shay (see, good names!) are more California Frenchies. They just posted their first “selfie” and it’s too cute. Of course, these Cali kids like to travel and have a daily website which offers great advice, recipes and you can buy cool stuff with proceeds going to charity.
There are so many others including @DumplingDuo and we love you all.
5. Joyful Japanese– okay, it’s really my dream to have a private jet full of Frenchies fly over to Japan on a Frenchie clothing shopping spree. So far I have Mr. Bobabear on board trying to use his powers wearing his Sorcerer Mickey hat…come on eclectic billionaire, decide this is a good thing and make it happen cause Kickstarter may not be supportive! Anyway I am inspired by many of the Japanese cuties so it’s hard to pick faves but kindly check out adorable @Potix who’s parents just had twins. How cute will it be see this little fawn Frenchie named Lotta with two kids? @Frangipaniwhite -just based on the name alone you have to follow her. And seriously @bull8 not only has multiple Frenchies, but also they seem to have their own clothing line and they dress up their Frenchies all the time. It’s wonderful.
BONUS:
You know I really can’t stop, but I also love some curators like @TheDailyFrenchie & @BatpigandMe so if you can’t get enough, they seek out the cutest Frenchies for you. xx
And, now you want one but you’re all sad thinking you can’t afford one, why not adopt from @FrenchBulldogRescueNetwork?
 Don’t lift this article Buzzfeed! Unless, of course you want to feature the amazing tiny butterball Elle! Here we are celebrating Bastille Day Frenchie Style in Brooklyn with Matt *human, Bruce Springsteen (look how long his torso is in comparison to Elle’s!), Liana *human and Luna!
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GIRLS: How They Pay The Rent…Ramble

I just read a tweet about the season finale of HBO’s Girls:

Last night’s #GIRLS episode made me upset because most of us don’t have the luxury of being complete wastes of life. #HowDoTheyPayRent

Hmm, well Sarah, I used to get infuriated and still do from time to time about the suspension of disbelief entertainment wants us to accept. ‘Friends’ at least got away with the huge apartment being their grandmother’s rent controlled legacy, same supposedly with ‘Sex & The City’ although I loved the temporary financial crisis Carrie had when she realized she couldn’t afford to rent anything after she broke Aiden’s heart. The moment I really thought was New York reality was when she realized over she’d spent $40K on shoes. Seriously. Meanwhile she decided to rip up a check from Mr. Big to buy the apartment and instead go off and guilt the money from Charlotte, who’s biggest crime was she married and divorced well. Carrie Bradshaw was just as much, if not more, a narcissist as Girl’s Hannah Horvath.

As for money, we know on Girls Marni has now resolved that issue. It looks like she will follow in the steps of Charlotte and marry well in order to resolve her Madison Avenue tastes and her downward spiral after she lost her also Charlotte-like art gallery job. I think Marni’s downward spiral this season was pretty realistic. She moved in with college girl Shoshanna, who’s parents pay for her apartment as did Shosh’s older and shiftless boyfriend Ray. Poor Shosh didn’t even realize Ray had moved in with her. That living situation seems pretty realistic to me. 

Jessa’s living situation started off in one of the high-rises in Williamsburg. She was blissful, a newlywed wrapped up in the comfort of new love. One dinner with her new in-laws was all it took for her insecure husband played by the wonderful Chris O’Dowd (how awesome was he as Kristin Whig’s policeman love interest in Bridesmaids?) to throw out their marriage. While she didn’t even bother to suggest they take a moment, even a night to calm down and talk about it in the morning, Jessa took only a few seconds to be insulted about the suggestion of how much cash it would take for her to walk away from the marriage. They settled on ten grand. Ok, it’s not enough to live off for a long time off, but Jessa was certainly a) not paying for the rent/lease/mortgage in the high rise b) didn’t seem to be paying rent when she crashed with her cousin Shoshanna initially in season one and not with Hannah in season two c) she doesn’t seem to have an even temporary new address and is probably using that ten grand to fund her restless wandering. 

That would lead us to Hannah Horvatz. She initially shared her rent with Marni in the first season and then with her ex-boyfriend-now-gay-but-tried-to-have-sex-with-Marni, Elijah. Elijah’s rich boyfriend was paying his half of the rent. I’m not sure why those two wouldn’t just live together but stranger things have happened. After Elijah’s failed attempt at amore with Marni finally came to light during a cocaine fueled experience for an online magazine (supposedly Hannah got paid $200 for this- how much did that net after the price of the drugs and alcohol and then the dinner she made for her friends to celebrate it? Probably negative fifty bucks)- Hannah had to carry the rent on the two bedroom herself. 

Ah dear friends, this is where Hannah picked up some more shifts at Cafe Grumpy but still that doesn’t seem like it would cover it. So then enter the book advance! Hallelujah! Yes, Hannah is having a melt-down of epic self-sabotage and the threat of the publisher suing her is on the line, but that does explain how she pays her rent for the time being.

As for the guys, Marni’s ex is now a mobile app mogul. Ray as previously mentioned was living in his car and technically homeless thus he moved in with Shoshanna. That leaves Adam. I have never understood how Adam pays the rent. His apartment is full of nails and wood and random unfinished products that seem to reflect his internal mind. It was amusing when his new love interest said he wasn’t as dark as his apartment. Aw shucks lady, you should just call a car service back to Manhattan. 

There’s also the small matter that this show has been hugely controversial from the very first episode it showed a young girl in her twenties getting cut off from her parent’s supporting her. We all know those people. To her credit Hannah went out and got various jobs to pay her share. Hope that helps resolve the question of how those GIRLS pay their rent, or don’t.

As for ‘being complete wastes of life’- fair enough! These characters seem not to have a moral compass very often or be ambitious. This season even the Mary Poppins-like ‘Sex In The City’ diehard, Shosh, cheated on her boyfriend in a closet off the lobby of a friend’s building with the doorman.  Suspension of disbelief is what entertainment asks from the viewer. If you can’t then change the channel or read a book like Sheryl Sandberg’s forthcoming Lean In about how women need to lean in to challenges in the work place, step up and be leaders, negotiate for salary and help each other which can certainly help real women in real life pay the rent. 

Crush of The Week: Michelle Williams…Ramble

The words Petite Abeille come to mind when I think about Michelle Williams. A little bee. She may be tiny, but wow does she make a lasting impression. I went to a screening of OZ: The Great & Powerful last week. It was a little slow until Ms. Williams entered the picture. 

I’m intrigued by my fellow Brooklynite. Fortunately I also have Showtime at the moment and they have been offering “My Week With Marilyn” solidifying to me just what a talented actress Michelle is and how I seem to like actors as they get older (i.e. Leonardo DiCaprio & Johnny Depp) as opposed to the initial white hot light of buzz reigns upon them on magazine covers in “the It Girl/Guy” type of hype. 

Oz is a showcase of how much Michelle can do as an actor amongst co-stars that were questionable casting (another Franco crush-killer & Mila Kunis what were they thinking?). 

Williams was also perfectly cast in “My Week With Marilyn” as the enigmatic troubled actress. It helps that Michelle Williams is an actress with a bit of mystery and edge around her as a person. She has the skills to from portraying a tramp in “Blue Valentine” (although I despised that film), as she seems playing the purer but more clever Glinda. Either way I’ll be keeping my eye on her and I say thank you Michelle for being the most enchanting part of OZ. 

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James Blake Shows Are Like Snowflakes…Ramble

I’ve been to see James Blake six times. Each show has been unique like a snowflake. It was exciting to hear and feel the music of his first US show at the Williamsburg Music Hall. I couldn’t see because of the jampacked crowd, but you could hear a pin drop. Bjork was part of the crowd and seeing the two of them chat afterwards was quite an amusing visual.

James had two shows in New York last week at the Bowery Ballroom and Le Poisson Rouge. He’ll be back in July at Webster Hall is y’all were lucky enough to snag tickets. Here are some photos of my time with JB. There’s no limit to how magical his shows can be. I realize in my photos I didn’t take photos of the Williamsburg show and the Pitchfork Church Show.

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