On the (Rest of the) Net.

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I’m writing about female friendship in For a Good Time, Call… [Bitch Flicks]

One of the things that struck me during my trip to New York was the abundance of women of colour caring for white children. The movies would have you believe that most nannies are white (The Nanny DiariesUptown GirlsMary Poppins) but I don’t recall seeing any. Ellen Jacobs’ photo series documents these women and their charges. [Slate]

I Kissed a Girl: Rihanna and Shakira’s faux, male gazey lesbianism. [Jezebel]

Meanwhile, Russian lesbians shouldn’t be seen. [Feminist Times]

Travel: Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple — My Guide to New York City.

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A month ago I returned from my first, three-week jaunt to New York, a city I’ve been dreaming about since childhood. Recently, a friend whose sister is traveling there soon asked me if I could recommend some sights to see in the city that never sleeps. What follows are my favourite neighbourhoods, shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Neighbourhoods.

I stayed on the Upper East Side on 82nd Street between 1st and York Avenues in what can also pass for Yorkville. I wanted to be in a safe, central location that I knew well from pop culture (Gossip Girl, I’m looking at you). It’s only five or so blocks from Central Park, where I jogged to most mornings.

I also loved Chelsea, and the East and Greenwich Villages. They’ve got much more of a European or even Melbournian vibe than some other parts of Manhattan and there are plenty of unique, vintage stores that won’t necessarily break the bank. Next time I visit the island I want to stay in one of those neighbourhoods.

View from the Highline.

One attraction that will take you through Chelsea, the Meatpacking District and drop you off in the West Village is the Highline park, a repurposed walking track on an old freight train line.

Broadway.

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You can’t go to the Big Apple and not see a Broadway show. I had my heart set on Wicked, Book of Mormon, Matilda, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark and Sleep No More, all of which I was lucky enough to see. Broadway lotteries are the way to go if you don’t want to spend exorbitant amounts of money for tickets to the hottest shows. And while hundreds of people can enter their name into the lottery on any given night (Broadway goes dark on Mondays and there are matinee performances in addition to evening ones on weekends), take it from me: it’s easier than it may initially seem. On our first try, my friend April and I won tickets to Matilda, followed by Wicked a few tries later, and Book of Mormon after four entries, the most amount of times we had to enter before we won tickets. You still have to pay if you win the lottery, but at $32 versus $200+, it’s a no brainer. Having spent three weeks in New York, we had ample nights to enter, but we managed to see everything within a week and a half! Our failsafe system saw April and I splitting up and putting one entry for each show we wanted to see; when we’d seen everything except Book of Mormon, we put two entries in the barrel to up our odds. Lotteries open two and a half hours before curtain, and are drawn two hours before curtain; that means you need to get to the theatre between 4:30 and 5pm for a 7pm show, for example, put your name in the barrel, and be present for the drawing from 5pm. Some theatres take credit cards for payment of lottery tickets, but it’s best to have cash just in case, along with photo ID. If you’re splitting up to enter multiple lotteries like us, it’s best to stay in contact via phone so you don’t end up winning multiple shows! Find out more about lotteries here.*

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Souvenirs from Sleep No More.

Sleep No More is not your typical Broadway fare. Instead of sitting down to watch a performance on a stage, Sleep No More takes place at the McKittrick Hotel, a fictional hotel spanning six floors of a warehouse in Chelsea. Attendees wear masks and are sworn to silence upon entering, while the cast members are differentiated by being maskless. The audience is encouraged to split up from their parties and explore, touching sets and props as they follow the actors around the hotel in an attempt to piece together the storyline, based on Macbeth and Hitchcock, amongst others. It is a very popular show not for the faint hearted but for theatre-goers interested in something different. Tickets aren’t always available, but my friend Marilyn and I managed to get tickets for about $80 a few days beforehand via the show’s website.

Food.

To be honest, my trip to New York wasn’t a gastronomical one. I have a pretty ordinary palate, so reliably Western chains were my eating-place of choice. I did find a wickedly good Mexican restaurant just near my apartment on the Upper East Side: Cascabel Taqueria. (They also have a venue on the Upper West Side.) If you ever have the pleasure of eating there, I recommend the chorizo burrito served with sweet potato fries. I can’t speak of anything else ’cause that was the only thing I ordered during the four times I ate there!

The Heavenly Rest Stop café at the Church of the Heavenly Rest on Fifth Avenue in the centre of Museum Mile does lovely cakes and sandwiches at a reasonable price.

In terms of coffee, I never really found anything of the calibre of Aussie caffeine but Starbucks is a fairly reliable source. I frequented a store on the Upper East Side on 81st Street and 2nd Avenue.

The Meatball Shop has locations all over Manhattan and one in Brooklyn that’re worth checking out.

Another chain for lunch or snacks is Au Bon Pain, which does really nice soups and salads.

Shops.

My main motivation in New York wasn’t to shop, but having said that I do have some recommendations. The Strand bookstore in the East Village is a book lovers’ heaven and somewhere I definitely wanted to visit. I managed to get $100 worth of rare and out of print books I’d been salivating over for years on my second day. This also meant I had to carry them around for the next four weeks… If you do have some hard-to-find titles on your list, I suggest you scout those first as many new releases you can purchase at home. Bluestockings Books is a feminist and intersectional bookstore on the Lower East Side where I got a book by Jessica Valenti and a “Feminist Killjoy” necklace that’s worth checking out, as is Housingworks Bookstore and Café in NoLiTa.

Bond No. 9 perfumery in NoHo is another place I spent up big. If you’re looking for a personalised perfume experience different from your typical celebrity and designer scents, Bond No. 9 is Mecca. I spent about an hour being catered to by the Bond Street store manager Jeanette, who hooked me up with three scents—Manhattan, Scent of Peace and Highline—after sampling possibly the whole collection! The cool thing about Bond No. 9 is that the scents are inspired by New York, they’re vegan and their bottles are like artwork.

Not too far away is Stella Dallas vintage, in Greenwich Village. I’d been to a few other vintage stores whose prices were astronomical, but Stella Dallas has a superb range of  items on the dressier side for under or around $100. I was umming and ahhing over a turquoise beaded top for around $50, a midnight blue, long-sleeved beaded dress that was reminiscent of something Nicole Richie would wear for about $80 or $90 and don’t even get me started on their ample selection of skirts and sweaters. They also have stores in Brooklyn if you’re in the area.

Museums.

I visited most museums in Manhattan, including the Museum of Natural History, the Jewish Museum and the Biblical Museum. The ones I recommend, however, are more on the artsy side of things. You could spend days in the Met and not see everything, and the Whitney and MoMA were standouts also. It’s worth checking out the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s website to see what’s on when you’re in town as the two that I saw, RetroSpective and the Queer History of Fashion, were some of the best exhibitions I’ve attended. The Museum of the City of New York was stellar and really gives you a taste of NYC life. The Superstorm Sandy photographic exhibition is particularly affecting.

What I Missed Out On But Will Be Ticking Off My List Next Time…

Two things I didn’t manage to fit in were New York City’s last remaining lighthouse, Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse in Fort Washington Park and the Elevator Shaft museum on Cortland Alley in Lower Manhattan. Both are free of charge, and the museum is open weekends but is available to view through windows at all other times.

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In Central Park on my birthday.

If you’ve been to NYC, what else do you think should be included on this list?

*Edited to reflect that Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has finished on Broadway as of Saturday 4th January, 2014.

Event: A Very Manhattan Halloween.

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orange is the new black costume

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We found Wally (or Waldo, as they are wont to call him over here).

ursula the little mermaid costume

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Pets on parade.

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Feminists in arms. (Norma Jean did work in the factories during World War II, after all, just like Rosie!)

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regina george halloween costume

On Wednesdays we wear pink.

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tonto halloween costume

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jellyfish halloween costume

the birds halloween costume

Unfortunately you can’t see The Birds, but this is Tippi Hedren.

In New York City’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade I was surprised to be the only Marilyn Monroe in attendance that I could see. There were some arguably culturally insensitive costumes (a Tonto and a plethora of “sexy” Native Americans), a Banksy, some political statements (anti-fracking, anti-spying) and a kick-ass version of Orange is the New Black, complete with whiteface, marching in one of New York City’s most revered institutions.

Revelers dressed as jellyfish with umbrellas ruled the night and came prepared for the rain that was forecast and appeared on schedule as the parade began around 7pm. 60,000 people were expected to show up to walk and, seeing as last years festivities were interrupted by superstorm Sandy, 2013’s Halloween was a long awaited one. New Yorkers have a knack for rising above adversity and Thursday night was no exception.

While the parade is certainly an event that adults relish the opportunity to participate in, being a non-alcohol and -drug-fuelled event there were plenty of children and pets dressed up and ready to march up 6th Avenue, between Spring and 16th Streets, where the parade ended. A few blocks away (thought that didn’t stop my party from getting lost in transit!) was the official parade after party at Webster Hall, transformed into Webster Hell for the festivities. Thousand-dollar prizes were given to the best dressed, which included a white Little Wayne, Regina George, several Rosie the Riveters (the best one I saw came replete with the posters’ yellow background festooned to her in cardboard, which we didn’t manage to catch on camera) and many a Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus. A virgin was sacrificed on an occult alter at midnight, which we unfortunately missed on one of the many floors of partying. Tickets to the after party don’t come cheap, though, starting at $40 and increasing as the event draws closer (I paid $75 for my ticket, while those who opted to buy on the door were looking at $100 a pop!). Webster Hall undoubtedly pulled in an exorbitant amount of cash in ticket and bar sales, but the actual parade relied on $50,000 of KickStarter donations to get up and running again this year, as they were uninsured for the effects of Sandy.

Halloween is certainly gaining traction in Australia, increasingly among adults as much as trick-or-treating children, but America goes all out. Part of the reason I’m in New York City at this time of year is specifically to attend the 40th anniversary of the parade and the after party, assembling my costume months in advance and carting it halfway across the world, while the friend I’m staying in the city with and I traipsed through the Upper East and West Side’s thrift stores in search of the finishing touches for her costume (a silent film star).

Halloween here is not for the faint-hearted; many residents and businesses adorn their facades in all manner of holiday paraphernalia, soccer mums ferry their kids to and from school in costume, and over $7 billion is spent on costumes, candy and general Halloween merriment. No matter how you feel about it, All Hallows Eve is an exercise in Americana that doesn’t look to be going anywhere any time soon, especially not in the heart of New York City.

Related: Quarter Century Costumes & Cocktails.

My Week in Pictures: Birthday Edition.

The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

Elsewhere: [DNAinfo.com New York] Village Halloween Parade Needs $50K to Recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Images via April Bonnick.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

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Why racial colour-blindness is a crock. [Daily Life]

Speaking of, Julianne Hough’s blackface Halloween costume totes wasn’t racist, says a white girl. [Thought Catalog]

Pregnancy: when your body is public property. [Daily Life]

Open dialogue about rape prevents rape, not tee totalling. [The Guardian]

48 hours in New York, in which I get a mention, you know, ’cause I’m there right now! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

How does Working Girls’ feminism hold up 25 years later? [Jezebel]

Image via ABC News.

Movies: (Men & Women Can’t Just Be) Friends with (Biological) Kids*.

I had high hopes for Friends with Kids. Not knowing much about the premise aside from the fact that the movie centred around two friends who decide to have a baby together without the romantic attachment, and the fact that Megan Fox and the cast of Bridesmaids was in it, I was looking forward to it.

But it failed to live up to the hype I’d created in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, ruminating on it, I thought the characters were real, gritty, likable and infuriating at the same time; much like Bridesmaids. I applaud Jennifer Westfeldt for writing such human characters (she also starred in, produced and directed the flick. Go girl!), but I just couldn’t get behind their motivations.

The story begins with Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason, two besties who see the affect children have on their friends’ marriages, and decide to have a baby together whilst still seeing other people, so they have the best of both worlds. What troubled me about this scenario was that alternative means of baby-having were never discussed. In America, it’s easy (in comparison to other countries, like Australia) to adopt a baby as a well-off, single woman. I can’t imagine it would be hard to add Jason’s name to the birth certificate as the father. Or how about surrogacy? Unbelievably, IVF isn’t discussed at all and Julie and Jason actually have intercourse to conceive their child. A woman of Julie’s age wouldn’t likely get pregnant on the first try, but low and behold, nine months later out pops baby Joe.

For what it’s worth, I think the whole idea of raising a baby with a friend is a great idea! It’s not for me, but who’s to say how they’ll feel when their biological clock is ticking and they’re without a partner? But—inevitably, as the trope goes—hormones and jealously over Megan Fox and Ed Burns, who play Jason and Julie’s lovers, respectively, get in the way, and Julie confesses her love for Jason about a year after Joe’s birth. Jason has just moved in with Fox’s Mary Jane and doesn’t feel the same way. Julie moves out of the apartment building she and Jason both live in (in different apartments) in Manhattan and relocates to Brooklyn, “two trains and a $70 cab fare away”, to escape the pain of seeing him. A year later, Jason comes to the same realisation Julie had—that they’d be perfect together—but Julie’s having none of it. Eventually, she succumbs and they live happily ever after, proving that men and women can’t be friends!

One other pet peeve I had with the movie was the sheer luxury the characters lived in. For a film set in New York, it’s highly unlikely that everyone in a friendship circle would have immaculate rent-controlled apartments they live in alone and dine at “$100 a plate” restaurants (sound like another Manhattan-set story you know…?), especially when Julie’s job is “deciding who to give [a rich man’s] money to”: charity work, essentially. When she laments that she can’t afford to send Joe to a $20,000 a year private school in Manhattan, it really doesn’t mesh with her characters’ story which has, up to then, been a yuppie existence of the abovementioned $70 taxi rides, ski trips and $1400 worth of baby blankets…

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: Bridesmaids Review.

Image via IMDb.

On the (Rest of the) Net Comes a Day Early—Easter Edition.

Happy Easter to all Early Bird readers. See you on the flipside (that’s Tuesday!).

On Megan Fox’s old nose. [Jezebel]

Gala Darling is going without TV for a month. Could you do it?

Kate Spencer responds to an insulting op-ed in the New York Post about women who move to New York City only being interested in an image-based, money-obsessed Sex & the City lifestyle. But it’s the Post, what do we expect? [The Frisky]

Still with SATC, five things Carrie Bradshaw failed to mention about NYC. [Bailey Powell]

Is the blowjob dead? [Jezebel]

Sharing your miscarriage on Facebook: do or don’t? [Jezebel]

The racist reactions to The Hunger Games. [Jezebel]

How to be a woman girl. [Jezebel]

Rachel Hills on asexuality. [The Atlantic]

Queensland’s new Premier, Campbell Newman, vetoes the state’s Literary Awards, in the Year of Reading and in a time when 1 in 5 Indigenous children are illiterate. This is why you don’t vote Liberal. [Courier Mail]

How an article about how hard it is to be a beautiful-looking woman written by an average-looking woman entices readers to hate troll. [Jezebel]

Fat-shaming Jessica Simpson for gaining weight during pregnancy. [Jezebel]

Clementine Ford unpacks the widespread need for other people to tell women what they should and shouldn’t be wearing. [Daily Life]

Image via Ask Men.

September 11, 10 Years On.

 

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 YEARS since two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre, the enduring image of the Twin Towers collapsing burned into our memories. Not to forget the additional two planes which crashed into the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

I was 13 at the time of the attacks. I’ve grown up in the “age of terror”, where conspiracy theories, airport security, racism and top-television-moments countdowns are influenced by the event.

At the time, I couldn’t really care less. I was a teenager, consumed with adolescent angst and lost interest about five minutes after I first saw the shocking footage on TV. A testament to the desensitivity and limited attention span of my generation, I suppose.

We weren’t allowed morning television in our house at the time, so I’m pretty sure my parents were none the wiser as to the attacks the following day. My mum was telling me something about some environmental issue in California (a Google search for news results around that time produced little enlightenment).

I got on the school bus and someone said, “Did you hear what happened in America?” I was like, “yeah, totes, something environmental in California”, or something to that effect (and yes, I know “totes” wasn’t a word then. Some would say it isn’t even a word now.). I was received by puzzled looks.

That’s really all I remember from that time. Oh, that and the thing that consumed my life at that time, World Wrestling Entertainment (then World Wrestling Federation), was the first live televised event after the attacks. WWE SmackDown! was originally scheduled to be taped the night of September 11, however was postponed til the 13th, and was seen as somewhat of a patriotic (ST)FU to the terrorists. Below is a tear jerking clip from the opening scene of the show.

The following year, however, I was fully immersed in my love for the USA, and considered donning full Uncle Sam garb to school that day! Since September 11, I’d been known to bust out an American flag item of clothing here and there, and even had one made for my birthday that year.

Again, it’s just so hard to believe it’s been 10 years since then. In some ways, we’ve come so far, but in others (the fact that 20% of Americans believe, wrongfully, that Barack Obama is a Muslim, the violent disapproval of a mosque being built near the Ground Zero monument, the niggling feeling we get when we see Muslims at airports)… not so much.

Where were you on September 11, 2001, and what do you think has changed since then?

Below, some links published in tribute to the almost 3,000 people who died on that fateful day 10 years ago.

Elsewhere: [Washington Post] Poll Shows More Americans Think Obama is a Muslim.

[New York Magazine] The Encyclopedia of 9/11.

[New York Magazine] Day’s End.

[Time Magazine] Timeline.

[The New Yorkers] Video: The Skyline Redrawn.

Image via Yahoo News.