Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Alaskan Lower-48 Producegasm

If you live in Alaska and you ever find yourself in “Real America,” a.k.a. “the Lower-48,” a.k.a. “Outside” in summer, prepare to experience what expert scienticians call “the full-body Alaskan producegasm.” 

Most Alaskans are familiar with this phenomenon, but I’m not sure folks down south understand what I mean:

Until relatively recently, you couldn’t get any fresh  produce at all in most parts of Alaska, and still can’t in many remote areas, as shipping is prohibitively expensive and lemons don’t grow on the tundra. In 2018, fresh produce is easier to come by in most of the state, but it’s still expensive AF, truck or barge-ripened, rots quickly, and tastes terrible. 

Up on the Last Frontier/the Great Land, it’s easy to forget that it’s possible to buy—for less than the price of a human kidney and the carbon footprint of a small West Virginia coal prospect—tomatoes, peaches, peppers, and cherries that don’t taste like props in a kitchen display at Crate & Barrel.

It’s easy to forget that the earth can produce something besides sour wild berries, potatoes, kale, giant cabbages, kohlrabi, radishes, and rhubarb. Sure you can grow some things in Alaska and grow them huge for a few midnight sun-drenched months a year, and lots of committed farmers and gardeners do exactly that. 

However, most produce that grows at our northern latitude shares one common feature: it must be drenched in sugar, fat, and/or salt to keep it from tasting like some sort of punishing famine-ration in an eighteenth century Eastern European Jewish ghetto. 

Every time some foodie tries to sell me on beets, for example, I’m just like, look son: my ancestors didn’t come through Ellis Island and escape genocide so I could choke down some gritty root they turned into a stew with a rock and a chicken neck. And then to add insult to injury, be 100% convinced I’m bleeding internally from my colon the next morning?

No fucking thank you! Hard pass!

All of this to say, going to the farmer’s market in Corolla, NC, where I am spending a week “family bonding” took the FOMO sting out of “WHY DID I LEAVE ALASKA IN SUMMER given that it’s raining and thunder storming all week and I live in a rainforest where it is now sunny.” 

Sometimes, all you need is a decent tomato.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

10 Reasons Why Juneau, Alaska is One of the Best Kept Secrets in America

1. We live in a postcard. I've lived in Juneau for twelve years, and I never get tired of looking at the scenery. Ever. Especially when the sun is out (which, okay, isn't often), there's no place on earth more spectacular. Sun-dappled ocean, salt-spray, mountains jutting out of glacial lakes, vast meadows of fireweed and nagoonberries, a bomber trail system. People save up their entire lives just to get a glimpse of the place I feel grateful every day to call home.

2. We try to take care of each other. No one can be nice to each other all the time, especially on the internet. But most folks don't realize how small Juneau is, both in geography and population. With under 33,000 locals, we can't afford to alienate our neighbors. You never know when you'll need a tow out of a snow berm in winter or a meal train for a birth or a death in the family. I've seen it over and over: Juneauites come through for each other in times of need.

3. We value diversity. Sadly, casual racism is the new normal under Trump. Juneau isn't immune to it, nor is my original hometown, New York City. But just as remarkable are all the voices who refuse to accept this bullshit and call it out when they see it. Juneau is socioeconomically and racially diverse for a town of its size. It's typically a safe community for LGBTQ folks and folks of all abilities. It's a welcoming place.

4. We have an unofficial official shoe. Xtratuffs. Enough said.

5. Orcas, humpbacks, eagles, and bears are our neighbors. Eagles are pigeons and bears are giant raccoons, but they're still magnificent. And I don't know a single Juneauite who doesn't thrill to see a humpback breaching or a pod of orcas. One of my favorite things to see on the internet is an ORCAS IN THE CHANNEL status update, and cars pulled over on Egan Drive to watch these majestic creatures literally cruising right past our homes.

6. We like to show off for tourists. Sure the cruise ship industry is kind of a dick, tourists ask silly questions, the ships disgorge plenty of smog and sewage, and no one likes any of that. But we take pride in our town and showing tourists a good time. From feeding them wild-caught Alaska seafood to letting celebrities like J.K. Rowling peruse Rainy Retreat (a local second-hand bookstore) unnoticed ("it was lovely," she said on Twitter), Juneau knows how to do hospitality.

7. Our arts, culture, and indy business scene rocks. There are so many young creatives doing amazing stuff in Juneau, from music to art to comedy to entrepreneurship. Some of my personal favorite haunts include (but are by NO means limited to): Alaska Robotics comic shop; Bustin' Out Boutique (great bras and expert fittings); Amalga Distillery (locally-made gin); Trickster (innovative indigenous design); Aurora Projekt (local threads); Shoefly (amazing shoes and clothes); the Narrows (craft cocktails); the Rookery and Coppa (both great coffee); Pucker Wilson's (yummy food-truck burgers and fries in two locations); KTOO public radio that brings such great news, arts programming, and musical acts to Juneau; Kindred Post (socially conscious post office); and Zerelda’s Bistro (pro tip: make a reservation). Also our great public works and facilities like the two pools, Eaglecrest Ski Area, parks and rec youth sports, and public libraries.

8. We are the only state capital unreachable by road. When you look at Juneau on Google Earth, it's amazing how in the middle of nowhere it really is. It's just a blip in the trees of the Tongass National Forest, and only reachable by boat or plane. In 2018, that's pretty incredible.

9. You can't get everything you want and we have real problems. If you want great weather, a good tomato, reliable operating hours, specialized medical care, or impeccable customer service, you're unlikely to find it in Juneau. That's life in Alaska. We also have very real problems typical of many American communities: opioids and opioid-related crime, domestic violence and sexual assault, lack of affordable housing and child care, homelessness, and a strained school system. But many of us acknowledge these problems and try to work on them as a community.

10. Southeast Alaska is Native Land. As long as I live in Juneau, I will be a guest on Native Land. For 10,000 years before it was colonized and stolen by white people, the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples existed in harmony with this place. Rich cultures were disrupted and families were broken. There is very real and living historical trauma associated with that shameful injustice, and much to be learned from indigenous cultures, art, and traditions. For me, this is the most important and humbling aspect of life in Juneau.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

This Movie Scared the Ever-Loving Shit Balls Out of Me in 1992

Maybe it was my age (12-15) or the era (1989-1992). I guess it could have been both, either, or neither. But something in my neural architecture during these specific five years made every movie I saw at the time occupy several acres of semi-permanent real estate in my brain, especially the psychological thrillers. 

I haven't done a film retrospective on here in awhile, but somehow today I was recalling the Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

Fam, when I tell you this movie scared the ever loving SHIT BALLS out of me in 1992! 

There was SO much trauma packed into 110 minutes of Rebecca De Mornay acting crazy (my 9th grade boy classmates creatively renamed her "Rebecca De Hornay,” although if this movie came out in 2018 she’d be Rebecca De Morecray); Annabella Sciorra (Law and Order/Sopranos) and Generic Hot Dad With a Beard™, a.k.a. Matt McCoy. Matt's only other film credits appear to be Police Academies 5 and 6. FIVE AND SIX, y’all. Not even two or three. Or four. 

Still, that's about three more movies than I've ever been in, so who am I to drag the man?

Anyway, to recap, per Wikipedia: "the tale follows a vengeful, psychopathic nanny out to destroy a naive woman and steal her family."

Annabella Sciorra plays a meek, mousy-yet-still-pretty asthmatic gardener and secular wearer of an Orthodox Jewish sheitel-chic hairstyle who, while preggers with kid number two, gets sexually assaulted by a dude gynecologist. 

Side note: what is up with dude gynos in 1992 much less 2018. Is that even a thing? Seriously, I kinda feel like vaginas are a medical specialty that MAYBE dudes can just sort of voluntarily opt out of from now on? Like where is the female peen doc? Nowhere, that's where.

But anyhoo, the dude gynecologist is married to an also-preggers Rebecca de Morecray. He kills himself after Annabella #MeToos him, and four other women come out saying he diddled them in the stirrups. Of course, instead of facing up to his Weinstein/Cosby conduct, he kills himself, and then Rebecca goes into early labor from the stress and bleeds so much she’s forced to have an emergency hysterectomy.

And THEN--here's the kicker: instead of being pissed at her dead husband for committing serial sexual felonies and then offing himself rather than face the consequences of his actions, Becky with the Crazy Eyes™ decides to commit the rest of her living days to ruining Annabella’s life by changing her name, applying for a job as a Annabella’s Nanny, seducing the star of Police Academies 5 and 6, wet-nursing Annabella’s infant son, turning Annabella’s young daughter against her, and trying to murder Annabella in her own greenhouse by rigging the glass to fall on top of her, but instead it falls on her BFF and Annabella has an asthma attack and turns blue because Crazy Becky™ secretly emptied all of her inhalers. 

Oh and btw Becky frames the family’s mentally disabled black handyman as a pedophile and gets him fired, because OF COURSE SHE DOES.

In the end, Annabella figures everything out, but there's of course a propulsive final scene in which Crazy Becky breaks Police Academy Husband's legs with a shovel and tries to kidnap both kids, but Annabella fakes an asthma attack and shoves Becky out of a window where she is OF COURSE impaled on a picket fence and dies before the sirens and blankets--which signal the "happily ever after" of all 90's psychological thrillers--arrive. 

Looking back on this movie, I'm struck mostly by the INSANE MISOGYNY of it, and how totally normal it felt and seemed at the time.

I mean, let's recall that the triggering event for the entire plot line of this movie was a gross man gynecologist who serially sexually assaulted his patients. And really the movie should have ended there. But it didn't, because, SHOCKER, Gross Felon With Zero Agency™ was married to a CRAZY LADY who got even MORE crazy when her uterus came out.

And then, once her uterus was gone, she couldn't do anything but try to steal another woman's motherhood and husband because her life was gonna be empty and meaningless without a hot husband who wanted to fuck her and give her a couple of shorties. 

It's no coincidence that this movie came out one year after Anita Hill. We've come a loooong way baby. 

Or have we?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Isaac Thinks a Public Park Bathroom in NYC is a Temple and He Is Not Wrong

My #AlaskaKid didn't know how right he was when he asked me to watch him scooter all around "this temple" without stopping. The "temple" to which he was referring was not a house of worship, but rather a public bathroom in a New York City playground a block from my parents' house.

And actually, Isaac wasn't entirely wrong to call this a temple, because as everyone knows, a reasonably clean, safe, public bathroom in the City of New York is a rare sanctuary, and here are its ten commandments: 

1. Thou shalt not bypass a free, clean, safe public restroom in New York City lest it be the last opportunity you have to relieve yourself for many, MANY hours without having to disgorge money from your person.

2. Thou shalt be leery of public bathrooms in Penn Station AND the Port Authority Bus Terminal. AND THE PORT AUTHORITY. Did I mention the Port Authority?

3. Thou shalt be leery of public bathrooms in Grand Central Station.

4. Thou shalt be leery of public bathrooms in City playgrounds.

5. Thou shalt check immediate surroundings for used needles and other biohazard detritus.

6. Thou shalt not wait at Starbucks for more than ten minutes, because you don't want to go in there next after that long, take it from me.

7. Ditto McDonalds.

8. Thou shalt not reveal the locations of the Best Bathrooms in the City.

9. Okay fine, they are usually in a hotel lobby.

10. Also Heckscher Playground at Columbus Circle is not horrible.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Fridge Inventory

Home economics is not my mother’s strong suit. Technically she knows how to sew and cook, although I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw her do either. I’ve seen her water house plants and shuffle piles of papers and other junk from one surface to the next, but that’s about it.

When she’s home, which isn’t often, my mom’s preferred position is sitting on the couch as pictured below, in various mismatched flowing house garments, “finishing one little work thing” or “working on a talk” or “responding to emails because I’m leaving for Rwanda on Monday.”

But the one realm in which my mom retains a stereotypical Jewish mom vibe is by informing me in excruciating detail of every single item that’s in the refrigerator and available for consumption. 

Some of this inventory, she typically warns, “might not be good anymore,” and indeed this week I discovered a hunk of strawberry cheesecake that was here the last time I visited from Alaska and had now developed a thick layer of penicillin on top of it. I am told to discard such things as I find them in the green compost baggies that are now “the law in New York City, if you can believe that!” 

But not before I am made to know the identity and origin of each item of food and drink, catalogued in excruciating detail:

There’s a fruit salad from the farmer’s market with little cut up apricots and currants, and also heirloom tomatoes that are too delicate to sell in a regular store because they can’t survive a ride in a truck. There’s a chicken cutlet procured on a “foraging” mission to a deli in Washington Heights. There is “delicious mozzarella” from Arthur Avenue. And spicy hummus from the farmer’s market too. There are also gluten free brownies and M&Ms in the freezer. Also Coffee Mate. Also Diet Peach Snapple. Also cheddar cheese from the farmer’s market. Do you know about farmer’s markets? They’re “all the rage.” But you can’t get strawberries there anymore. They’re out of season. It’s very interesting and old-fashioned! You can’t just get strawberries at the farmer’s market whenever you want! When you get older you need far fewer calories anyway.

And I’m just like, MOM. You actually don’t have to line-item every single thing that’s in this refrigerator and freezer. I’m perfectly capable of just looking inside of it and seeing what’s there. Can I make fun of you on my blog for this?

And she says “of course, you’re adorable.” No, you are. No you. No you. No you. Oh, there’s also this pepper jack cheese but it’s very spicy. I think I’m going to put out a few nuts. 

Want some nuts?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Fly Down Dilemma

I’m not sure “dilemma” is the right word, exactly, because “dilemma” implies something more serious than this, so maybe it’s more of a conundrum. Or a pickle. Yes, probably a pickle, for obvious reasons to be explained below. But whatever you call it, it sparked a brief conversation with the couple I was dining with in Philadelphia this past Friday night. 

Here it is:

Do you tell a front of house guy/manager at a restaurant that his fly is down? And not just like, part way down. I’m talking ALL the way down.

I was in Philly for a work conference and went to dinner with old friends who live there. The wife in the couple works in the food and beverage industry, and happened to know some of the people at the restaurant through her professional contacts. One of them came over to chat with us, and since we were sitting down and he was standing up, our eyeballs were exactly even with the wide-open fly of his designer jeans.

I tried to look at his eyes and concentrate on small talk, but I was extremely distracted. All I could think about is whether I should say something, because I knew: (a) this was not an intentional look; (b) he would want to know; and (c) he would also be mortified at this information. 

So somehere between (b) and (c) lies the pickle, so to speak. 

Because this isn’t some drunk slob at Fenway Park who doesn’t give a fuck if his dick is threatening to jump out of his pants. This is a very fit, well-dressed 30-something millennial with Good Hair™️, fancy jeans, and a crisp dress shirt who is at work and clearly cares about his appearance and probably wants the zipper of his pants to win a fight with the business end of gravity.

In the end I decided to take the opposite of the NYC Subway mantra of “see something, say something,” and just said nothing. The guy in the couple I was with said he might tap him on the shoulder in a sort of “dude-to-dude” way later to let him know, but I think we drank a bunch and it never ended up happening.

I still feel a little sorry for the subject of this pickle.

Friday, July 13, 2018

This Did Not Seem Particularly Ingenious and Yet it Kinda Was

Scene: Extremely crowded but deliciously air conditioned Apple Store in Downtown Philadelphia, where I'm about to attend a three-day work conference.

Me: Hey, so I lost this little piece of the plug to my MacBook Air in transit somehow, and I'm wondering if you sell it?

Apple Guy: Well, we sell the whole adapter here on the wall for $79.99 [Points to adapter on wall] What you're looking for is a little piece called a duck-head, which is only like, $8 or $9.

Me: Okay, well that sounds about 70x better than the rest of the thingie which I don't actually need, so can I buy like, just that little part I need?

Apple Guy: Well, yeah, but we actually don't sell it on the floor. You have to make an appointment at the Genius Bar to get it. [Gestures to said Genius Bar literally two feet away]

Me: M'kaaay . . . well . . .  can I do that?

Apple Guy: Sure, but it'll be a fifteen minute wait. 

Me: Seems worth it to me, I'll wait, thanks. [Waits less than four minutes, gets called over to Genius Bar]

Tattooed Genius Bar Tender: Hello, Elizabeth! I see you're looking for a duck head. It's coming right down.

Me: Wait. Wut? Down from where?

Tattooed Genius Bar Tender: [Taps a few things into iPad; produces envelope containing product out of thin air] Here you go! That'll be $10.00 with tax.

Me: I am seriously so confused. Why did I have to make a special appointment for five minutes from now at a desk three feet away from the display of plugs just to get this plug accessory from a secret stash of accessories instead of being able to just walk in here and buy it in under ten minutes which I actually just did anyway? Am I in a real-life Kafka novel? That was a rhetorical question by the way, cuz I'm not really interested in the answer but also I kind of am, but also I need to go back to my hotel room and eat this spicy tuna roll here that I bought from Walgreens and check email hence why I'm here. Anyway I just saved like $70 and your service was amazing so . . . I guess this is why Steve Jobs died a multi-billionaire and I'll be lucky if I die with $87 in my checking account?

Tattooed Genius Bar Tender: [Shrugs and smiles]

End Scene.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

America is Straight Trash RN But Bald Eagles Still Be Fucking Like Crazy

America is probably the least fuckable country in the world right now (cf: Canada). No one wants to get in our metaphorical pants. Like NO ONE. And really, can you blame them? I mean look at us. We’re a goddamned mess. 

We have babies (human ones) in cages. We spend 24/7 ragefully jamming our thumbs into our phones, pounding out screeds about how much we hate each other. Our President is a division-sowing, treasonous global embarrassment who has plunged his citizenry into a propaganda-fueled race war while generating policy with all the skill of a toddler making purple spaghetti in a Play Doh Fun Factory. 

Like this is actually something the man said at one of his white supremacy fundraising rallies this month:
I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look, I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.
I mean. WUT?! No one is making babies with this, even though three different women actually did make five babies with this. But you take my point.

Anyhoo: Trump’s involuntary civil-commitment level psychotic ramblings won’t stop ‘Merica’s official avian mascot—the bald eagle—from fucking and reproducing like crazy, a fact to which I can personally attest having recently seen about three dozen eagle teens drying their feathers along the light poles of the main highway here in Juneau. 

The bald eagle's supposed regal bearing is the delight of millions of Juneau cruise ship passengers each year, but to locals, they are giant, dirty, carnivorous pigeons who will eat small dogs and occasionally take out our power by dropping a deer head or salmon carcass on a piece of fiber-optic cable strung across a mountain somewhere between here and Ketchikan. 

And now they’re multiplying like bunnies. Or birds. Cuz they’re birds. Birds who lurk in close proximity to the fish hatchery and the garbage dump for easy pickings. They’re survivors, those eagles. And lucky AF too. I’m sure the Spectacled Eider is out here in these skies wondering why *it* couldn’t be the symbol for America’s big, strong, giant, 12-inch civic peen and thus granted federal protection from bulldozers? 

The bald eagle has no idea how lucky it is. To paraphrase Neil Young, keep on fuckin’, eagles. Keep on fuckin’ in the free world.

Photo Credit: Heather Hardcastle

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Bot/Incel Said I Look Like a Dude and I Have Never Been More Flattered in My Life!

Most of us know that Internetting While Female™ involves a certain degree of well-documented trolling abuse. But after I wrote this tweet about how I wished there had been more votes than Wikipedia clicks, I got one of the biggest compliments of my life. A bot and/or involuntary celibate with no profile picture and five followers, and going by the very original presumable pseudonym "Mike Jones," wrote a post-script to me that I "look[ed] like a dude."

Now I've been called fat, a cunt, and a fat cunt. I've been told that my face can't be saved by makeup, and also that it needs more makeup. But I've never been told that I look like a DUDE. 

And frankly I could not be more flattered. 

It seems this incel-bot was trying to insult me by using a tried-and-true tactic to make women run away and cry, which is to burn their looks. I'm not sure why Russia and/or incels would assume this would be effective at shutting women up. After all, society only drills into our brains from the minute we're born that our main value added to the world is our fuckability, and all endeavors we undertake must be in service of increasing our fuckability, and the second a man calls our fuckability into question—even if he's a complete stranger or a robot with no face—we must curl up into a ball and weep in mourning for the spinsters we're destined to be.

But dudebot’s play backfired, because little does HE/IT know that I WANT to look like a dude!

I want to look like someone who doesn't earn 13% less income just because of what's in my pants. I want to look like someone who wouldn't be human trafficked, or assaulted in a staircase or in a parking structure or in college or at work or or or orororororor. I want to look like someone who would easily default into positions of power like Congressional seats and judgeships and C-suite gigs instead of being the rare exception to the norm. I want to look like someone who wouldn't get kicked out of a public place for feeding their kid. 

As Larry David might say, all of that sounds pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, PRETTY good to me. I'll take the dude look any day. 

Thanks, “Mike Jones!"

Sunday, July 8, 2018

I Am a Mosquito and I Am Not Fucking Around!

That’s right, you little homo sapien bitches. I was here long before you came along, and I’ll be here long after you’re gone. I’ve sunk my teeth into DINOSAURS. As in T-fucking REX! All you’ve sunk your teeth into is the five dollar footling at Subway.

Because I am the mosquito, and I am not fucking around.

I’m the standard vector for one of the deadliest diseases known to man, and how do I spread malaria? Or if you’re lucky just irrritate you a bunch instead of kill you? I’ll tell you without even looking at Wikipedia, because I’m a fucking mosquito, m’kay? 

It all starts with my status as the biggest player in the animal kingdom.

See first, I make twenty zillion babies all at once in a warm puddle. My reproduction game is Wayne Gretzky level. In the time it takes you to smack and kill one of me, I’ve already reproduced myself 12 times over. I’m basically like the bug-fucking version of those brooms in Disney’s Fantasia, but more pestilent.

Next, I’m ready for a blood meal, if I’m a WOMAN, which I am. And I have this very sharp, straw-sucking protuberance thing and I land my six tiny weightless legs on the warm, supple flesh of my prey, pierce it with my straw, and engorge my entire body with as much of their blood as my abdomen will hold before leaving behind an oozing, scabrous welt that itches for days.

Do you even understand that? Do you get how successful I am? From an evolutionary standpoint? I’m an endlessly reproducing, weightless, real life FLYING VAMPIRE and I LITERALLY ATE YOU FOR BREAKFAST. 

And what are you? You’re a self-destructive blob of hair and donuts who’s gonna be gone before my 7,000th generation of great-grandbabies comes along. You can keep your glass skyscrapers and drive-through espresso stands and theme parks. Party while you can pal, cuz I’m playing the long game here. 

And if you don’t believe me, I’ve got some Charlie Darwin you should read.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Truck Nutz is the Most Accurate Embodiment of Independence Day

I was thinking about this yesterday. Halloween has the pumpkin, Christmas has the tree, Valentine’s Day has the heart, and July 4 has the American flag Truck Nutz.

That’s really what Independence Day is all about, folks. Giant, plastic, made-in-China, novelty testicles hanging from the rear bumper of an enormous, gas-guzzling, shipped-with-pride-from-Guangdong-Province-to-America tricked-out Ford pickup.

That says it all, in one perfect metaphor.

Because let’s talk some Real Talk: Those of us who routinely try to define patriotism in more academic and subtle terms like “dissent is patriotic,” and “actually the Constitution doesn’t let Trump say 'no more due process' or 'you have to stand up for a song,'” and “maybe taco trucks on every corner would be an excellent development, in fact,” have lost the marketing battle over what it means to be a proud American. 

Because judging by the tone of July 4 this year (and every year, really), there’s no such thing as patriotism without balls.

Balls, balls, dick and balls. Preferably snowy white, hairy-ass balls, jizzing out red, white, and blue fireworks in a cacophonous, explosive, money-shot of FREEDOM. That’s what America is really all about, folks. One big, giant, loud, exploding dick n’ balls. As a woman this might be a little hard to swallow (pun intended), since “Prius Ovaries” did poorly in focus groups.

But the time has come to accept that aggressive, loud, in-your-face performative masculinity is what July 4 is really all about. It owns the holiday.


Oh and also, the Truck Nutz website offers “hot chicks,” “bad-ass rides” and “free stuff.” But hang on. Wait just one cotton-pickin’minute. I thought “free stuff” was for socialist welfare queens. In America we don’t get “free stuff” from anyone! We work for every last penny we have! We don’t need no gubbmint HANDOUTS! Except for Medicaid. And public assistance. And the PFD. And roads without potholes. Or giant snow berms. And and and and and and and.

But anyway, July 4 is the one day a year we can pretend none of that matters, and that each and every God-fearing, white Christian American man is in charge of his own destiny (and everyone else’s), just like we were always taught in school. And we will express that with a phallic manifestation of loud aggression and Truck Nutz.

‘Til next year (or tomorrow), Nutz-Havers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jumping on the #SecondCivilWarLetters Meme Bandwagon With This Dispatch from the Trenches

Dearest Mother and Father:

It has been some time since I was able to text you, but I trust you are well. The free in-flight WiFi was spotty, my noise-canceling Bose headphones were failing to live up to their good name, and all my messages were green. So Divine Providence only knows if you are in receipt of my latest dispatch of 9 July.

When our regiment finally reached Starbucks, my iPhone was at a meager three percent and my MacBook Pro at zero. Fortunately, the barista did not summon law enforcement even though I waited 45 minutes to purchase with bitcoin a fair trade pumpkin spice macchiatto, because Whiteness.

MacKenzie suffered a torn sandal at Coachella, and we have used all our provisions. We’ve had no coconut water nor so much as a stick of Burt’s Bees grapefruit lip balm with SPF30 for a fortnight yet. I do have one 12 oz. bottle of Brooklyn Lager, a rasher of grass-fed non-GMO Applewood smoked bacon, and a small wedge of unpasteurized Asiago to sustain me before the Battle of Hobby Lobby in three weeks’ time.

At first light, our command will mount a stable of Citibikes and ride at top speed to the nearest WalMart, for there is destined to be staged a fierce battle for the Soul of This Great Nation. On offer there, we are made to understand, are “Impeach 45” tee shirts but also MAGA hats, and so truly we may know the Union army not by its jingoistic raiments but by its distinctive mullets and poor grammar.

I fear the Union soldiers will have us out-gunned with their sizable arsenal of background-check-free, open-carry semi-automatic rifles; and evade detection with their fashion camouflage. But a Rebel spy at the deli counter has sent word that a full chafing dish of potato salad with extra mayonnaise and free samples has drawn at least one platoon and so we may have them cornered.

The truth is, when my Instagram notifications are blowing up, the consuming passion is to distract myself briefly via a pics-or-it-didn’t-happen with Clarendon filter #revolution #resist #BattleOfWalmart #bestlife #journey #besties. But for now I fear the pings and pangs and dings and dongs of psychological information warfare will reveal to the enemy my most secreted location behind this pallet of cherry Jell-O.

Many of our company has been wounded; felled at Panera by a suspect quinoa and goat cheese salad. I might as yet be resigned to great solitude on the front lines, trying in vain to procure last minute tickets to Shakespeare in the Park as sweat beads upon my brow.

This from Your Loving Daughter,

E.M. Bakalar

Monday, July 2, 2018

Is This Really Worth Losing Friends Over? Yes, Absolutely.

When is it “worth it” to lose a friend over “politics?” This is a question that’s arisen, again and again, since Trump was elected. It’s a question that many of us—especially those of us in white skin—haven't really had to confront until recently (a privilege and a blInd spot unto itself).

This is by no means an original thought, of course. The strain and divisions in the American zeitgeist under Trump’s “leadership” have been the subject of one take after the other, with each day seemingly bringing a new test to the limits of our collective empathy and civic conscience.

On a microcosmic level, these divisions are playing out in our most intimate relationships. One argument goes that it’s just politics, and a stupid thing to feud about. The other argument, and the one I endorse, is that this is more than “politics,” or at least it’s more than “politics” as many of us have complacently defined it for ourselves until now.

This time is a test of character and values, and if character and values do not form the basis of human relationships, what does?

Everyone has a different definition of what makes a good friend, but there are some common qualities most of us can agree on: true friends love and support you for who you are; they listen with empathy; they “hold space” for you; they are dependable; they do not betray you; they are loyal and trustworthy; they don’t judge you; they share your values; they give and accept tough love. 

In short, friends have character.

Do not forget: the moment we are in is not a political moment but a test of character. It’s a rare moment in which the true nature of people’s characters is revealed. Are we lizard-brained animals who will strive at all costs to hoard resources and justify our dominance over each other? Or are we able to appeal to and meet the demands of our better natures, finding the empathy needed to actively defend our ideals when called upon to do so? And if we have people in our lives who insist on regressing to the former while we want to do the latter, is it okay to let those relationships go?

In my opinion, it is.

If your friends don’t understand why you are afraid; if they cannot listen without judgment; if they cannot cultivate empathy for you as a woman, a person of color, an immigrant, an LGBTQ person; if they refuse to listen and learn; if they betray you by voting against your life and liberty (yes, that is a betrayal); if they dismiss your concerns as petty when none of those concerns affect them personally; if they cannot be depended on to fight for your autonomy and needs when needed, then how are they a friend? How are they worth it?

The answer is they’re not. Let them go.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

I Put the Yak in Kayak

Don’t I look so happy here? Well let me tell you, that’s a fucking LIE. Because I have never—and I mean NEVER—paddled a kayak ANYWHERE ON EARTH and NOT vomited within 30 minutes of leaving shore. 

Was it the Outer Coast, you ask? No. Was it even the ocean? No, no it was not. It was a lake. And not a very big one, either. You see, no matter the body of water or the weather—and Mendenhall Lake was choppy today, the glacier smaller than ever, THANKS TRUMP—you can count on me like 1-2-3 to toss my cookies over the edge of our cumbersome, zillion-pound, precariously-bungeed-to-a-ski-rack beater Fulbot “canoeyak” within the hour.

Like hunting and fishing, kayaking is one of those Alaska things that I WANT to like. I WANT to be good at it, which I guess is why I keep trying it. Fresh glacial air, green mountains jutting up out of the water like a postcard, icebergs, nesting Arctic terns, yada yada yada.

Welp, all I can say is thankfully there’s hiking and skiing (although I’ve also been known to puke off the chairlift in windy white-out conditions). Otherwise, I’d just go back home to the Bronx where I belong, move back in with my parents like I’ve secretly fantasized about doing ever since I came to Alaska 13 years ago, and work for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or something. 

Problem is of course, I don’t belong in the Bronx anymore either, if I ever did.  Now that I’ve been living in Alaska for so long, my NYC game is rusty AF too!

I’m in a Catch-22 of geographic helplessness; a future weak-link for anyone’s Zombie Apocalypse team, unless cursing and self-hatred turn out to be necessary survival skills. But God help me if the Zombies have personal flotation devices, because they will outpaddle me and try to eat my brains, and literally my only defense will be to barf a turkey and avocado sandwich in their melting faces. 

It will be fun, they said. We have out of town guests, they said. Every ding-dong off a cruise ship does this tenderfoot nothing of a paddle, they said. And by “they” I mean “Geoff,” who loves kayaking and has never seen me in a kayak without barfing, because that has never happened even once. Indeed, we still talk about some of my most legendary performances, e.g., Maui 2007.

When Geoff got us back to Skater’s Cabin (I was slumped down in the front of the canoeyak at this point), there were about three dozen or so of the aforementioned ding-dongs and their guides getting ready to raft around in this giant glacial bathtub from which I was sure I’d never emerge.

“Do you want some water?” one of the 20-something boy guides asked me, trying to be helpful and kind. “Nope,” I demurred. “Just gotta grab my usual after-kayak reverse lunch by this stand of spruce trees over here.”

Poor Isaac. 

Ever the empath, he was picking up on the signal of his mother’s dire straits and offered to take over her paddling duties on the return voyage; but he was too small, and truth be told, only a half hour earlier he’d whined for someone to “leave [him] off on this iceberg to die” because he “might as well get it over with.” 

At least there are no sea lions in here. Those fuckers will chase you the fuck DOWN, I’m told.

Anyway, it was all a moot point now, because we were finally ashore where Geoff could re-rack the canoeyak and Isaac could whine some more about being cold. And I could sit in the passenger seat of our car and boot every few miles until we got home and I crawled into bed with disbelief that I’d made it back to my favorite place on earth, doing my favorite thing on earth besides sleeping, which is to go off on what an unmitigated fucking disaster I am.

I still have my winning streak of not having to be rescued by a professional though, so there’s that.