On “Girls”: Will The Real Hannah Please Stand Up?

I no longer can resist blogging about “Girls,” and I don’t even care if that’s a cliché, because I’m so similar to Hannah–only a few years older, East Coast instead of Midwestern, state school instead of liberal arts digs–that I’m really no longer concerned about clichés. Because apparently, I am one. Or at least an archetype.

But what I find most interesting is not comparing Hannah and myself, but rather Hannah and Lena Dunham. They are both writers, with gumption and moxie and lust for artsy boys and a flouncy “can’t-do-the-9-to-5” air about them. But whereas Hannah has to struggle through the internship and interview mills, her creator, Lena, never had to. She began making films and TV series in college, because she was raised by creative, supportive parents. Wealthy parents. Well-connected Manhattan parents. But Hannah’s got none of that. She’s gotta make it on her own–sort of, because her parents keep her funded (or did, for two years).

Was it too difficult for Dunham to portray the real lifeworld of a Brooklynite writer, whose parents can’t dole out cash, and who waits tables and writes blog posts for $50-a-pop in order to experience the thrill of having her words published? Hannah is a brave character who in many ways represents so many aspects of young womanhood (awkward sex with not-quite-men, financial struggles, disdain of one’s body, difficultly adjusting to post-college professional life). And in her core, Hannah is a feminist. She’s unafraid to go for what she wants, and believes in the power of her intellect. But she would be more of a feminist if she had to do what most twenty-something women in New York City–who aren’t from extremely wealthy families–have to do: hustle, often while working stupid jobs and doing dumbed-down work. Read more

My interview with Jacob Krupnick, producer of “epic dance music video” Girl Walk//All Day

You know how the guy in last night’s episode of “Girls” is making a “mash-up”? (Or “mash-in,” as Jessa insists on calling it, to the wannabe-cool-guy-but-hipster-hater’s dismay.) Well, his mash-up sucked, but Philly-based Girl Talk made a really bad-ass one, and then Brooklyn-based photographer Jacob Krupnick became really obsessed with it and used it as a soundtrack for a crazy movie where dancers boogie through the streets of New York, and then I saw that film at the Brooklyn Museum and became really obsessed with it, and then I interviewed Jacob Krupnick about making the film and now it’s up on BOMB magazine’s blog, so you can become obsessed with that.

Looking for a Kickstarter project to support? Try these ones!

Acquaintances of mine who run a kooky, experimental design project called spurse are trying to Kickstart a project called “Eat Your Sidewalk!” that will merge local food, public art, and urban revitalization. They plan to hold a 7-day challenge where people only eat what they find under their feet, on the sidewalk, in order to raise awareness about our immediate environments. This will happen in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and Detroit, over the summer.  Read more

Detroit Diary: show and tell

Last night, artist Alison Pebworth gave a talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit about her Beautiful Possibility project, an exploration of place-making, storytelling, and American history that led her all over the country. It began after years of painting, something she said she never really liked doing, but did anyway and was very good at. Painting seemed to hold her down and force her to be stationary; she wanted to be interacting with people, out in the world. But she had no idea what she wanted to be saying, or where, or how to begin.

She made a little booth, and set it up just off a highway in Death Valley, with a sign attempting to lure passersby by promising a “free” roadside attraction. But nobody came. Pebworth was glad, she said, because if someone had stopped she had no idea what she would have said to them. She had ventured out into “the world,” but almost unconsciously positioned herself in a no-place, where there was little hope of interaction with strangers. But it was a first step.

From there, Pebworth’s roadside attraction morphed and grew as she traveled from place to place, incorporating local elements into her efforts to make something she felt satisfied with, to find a way to “belong.” Much of this process was about Pebworth not feeling like she belonged anywhere. In each new place, she collaborated with local artists, asked people to bring in native plants to brew “elixers” to be drunk from a communal, blown-glass jug, and held “show and tell” sessions where people exchanged words, ideas, crafts. Sometimes Pebworth had trouble engaging people–or finding places to convene with them in public, particularly in places like North Dakota, which is apparently the “least visited state in the union,” Pebworth said. Read more

Detroit Diary: Initial Thoughts

I’ve been in Detroit since Thursday night. Overwhelmed by so many things to do. The people: friendly, candid, intelligent, and interested in everything. The landscape: like dwelling in an architectural depiction of everything America has been–skyscrapers and factories–and is–empty homes and racialized inequality–and seeing what it’s becoming–gardens and collaborations, tensions between old ways and new ways. Young people are making Detroit vibrate with their creativity. Projects are unfurling everywhere; writers and artists and critics are generally unrestricted by boundaries that exist in most cities, but not in Detroit.

Things that matter much more in other cities–image, seniority, and money–

Excuse the “ruin porn.”

don’t factor in here, where there is a smaller and more connected creative class (I sense that a review of Richard Florida’s argument will be necessary in one of my future blog posts). And people are taking advantage of Detroit’s unique offerings: the extra space, added leisure time, intimate network, and opportunity to make their marks. Twenty-somethings are leaders in scenarios where normally they would be in the background. But the new way of doing things–social enterprise and foodie pop-ups–is clashing with the established nonprofit approach to ameliorating inequality. People talk about an old guard who don’t quite get what the deal is with things like crowdfunding. Read more