“Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009” by Jeff Sheng
Another fascinating Los Angeles Times story yesterday was about photographer Jeff Sheng’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” project. (click that link if you’d like to participate in the project)
But in the case of L.A. photographer Jeff Sheng’s latest project, capturing his subjects’ faces would almost certainly put their careers in jeopardy. That’s because Sheng has set about to photograph U.S. military service personnel who are gay but closeted in their work lives. Titled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ongoing project consists of a series of stark, sometimes sad, portraits of U.S. soldiers who are forced to hide a part of who they are.
“I want to give an invisible community some visibility, but at the same time, to keep them invisible,” said Sheng on the phone from Vancouver, where he is working on another project.
“There’s already a lot of journalistic work on gay people in the military who have been discharged. My project is more about people who are still serving.”
To conceal the identities of current military personnel, the photographer has used lighting and shadow effects to mask part or all of their faces. Sometimes, the subject will conceal his or her face with a hand, as in the photo above, titled “Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009.” (The names and towns of the titles are fictional for the protection of identity.)
I can’t go because I’ll be talking to Julie Powell about meat and affairs, among other things.
From The Rumpus:
MONDAY 11/30: An Evening with n+1: The Unfinished Work of Feminism is Love. Join Slate culture critic Meghan O’Rourke, authors Carlene Bauer and Meghan Falvey, and documentarian Astra Taylor for a discussion centered around the question, “Why can’t feminists agree on love?” The discussion will be moderated by Allison Lorentzen, editor-at-large of n+1, the distinguished twice-yearly print publication that merges politics, pop culture, and literary theory. The Kitchen. 512 W. 19th St. Free. 7:00pm.
Also worth reading: Against Love by Laura Kipnis and A Vindication of Love by Cristina Nehring. From Meghan O’Rourke’s Slate review of the latter:
But her book is not just a defense of vulnerability. It is a critique of domesticity. After all, distance is a form of eros. In our embrace of the companionate marriage and our fear of anything that smacks of a power difference, Nehring argues, we dismiss the erotic, the mysterious, the mythical elements of love as never before. “We must transgress against our own fears,” she urges, “—against the narrowness of our vistas, the modesty of our wishes, the slightness of our altruism.” What looks like inequality is often more complex than we think: A professor may be “older” than a student, but a student has youth and beauty on her side. Emily Dickinson may submit to her Master, but in doing so, she claims all the imaginative power for herself, dictating the terms by which the relationship will be described and, even, experienced.
Just got off redeye, heading straight to work, then have short video/audio interview tonight. Any styling tips so my skin doesn’t look as haggard/I don’t sound as dreadfully nasally as I have all weekend are much appreciated! (rachelkb at gmail.com) Otherwise, I’ll just wing it - have a new plan which is to see an actual shrink because, well, I’m about a decade overdue. Week of madness lies ahead - I am looking forward to Saturday morning is all I can say about that.
I can go long stretches, days or weeks, without a major outburst. Then, without notice, I’ll grunt and thrash about, confounding those in my path. I wish I could think of these episodes as wild lovemaking with my stoned muse, but in the end, my body is left utterly depleted and spent on the floor, my throat raw, sheets of paper left blank and without a single idea.
Whether my body is twitching or calm, my mind is working full-steam, toying with words, repeating phrases. My muse is also capable of connecting two or three completely unrelated concepts, and combining the elements in unexpected ways. Usually, these efforts are time wasters. But it’s that diamond in the rough I count on, the cartoon or song that emerges from the nonsense.” —“In Praise of Tourette’s” by Inklings author Jeffrey Koterba at The Daily Beast
I’m all for supporting fellow writers but…$70? $84.95? Who can afford that? Dare I say especially for a book called Feminism, Inc.? Hello, New York Public Library, New Amsterdam branch (which has an amazing YA section, fyi). I’m torn because of course, equal pay for equal work, and I do think artists should be compensated fairly for their work. I just think any books priced that high are pricing out a lot of consumers who might be interested in the topic. I know those are probably average prices for hardcover university press books. Just saying.
Why Feminism Matters: Feminism Lost and Found by Kath Woodward and Sophie Woodward (Hardcover - Oct 27, 2009) Buy new: $84.95 13 new from $63.29 4 used from $80.56
Get it by Tuesday, Dec 1 if you order in the next 31 hours and choose one-day shipping.
Excerpt - page 50: “… to that of our peers
I had a bellini last night at Roger Room (which I keep wanting to call Romper Room). It’s this Speakeasy-style bar, and we were there for over an hour before I finally gave in. I cannot express how much I wished I were at home, where it’s easy to not drink in part because it’s easy to escape. I was surrounded by all these super glam, beautiful LA women and while since I’ve been here I’ve heard several men say something to the effect of, “I don’t like super skinny women, I like zaftig women” (not to or about me, just in general), I find it a mix of both envy and desire. There were some beautiful women around me and I won’t say I wasn’t attracted to some of them, from afar.
But because I didn’t have my nails done and have just been eating eating eating and am really stuffed up from something in the house where I’m staying, I felt really not glamorous. I had heels so at least wasn’t super short but I was just not having the best night. Frankly, I was sad. I can try to be all tough and stoic and moving on, and I kindof am, but I just had this wave of missing this person and I almost texted them and then maybe because I was thinking about them so hard - but probably not because I have other times - I got an email from them. And I didn’t read it because I sometimes do that, when I get emails that I’m not sure I’m going to like what they say, I don’t read them. Anyway I was with one friend and his friends, who I didn’t know, and worried that I was being really antisocial and finally finally got my bellini and it was delicious. Peach puree and champagne which, when the bartender opened the bottle, splashed onto a few of us, which made me laugh.
My point is…well, I’m not sure, but mostly that I was mainly drinking it to cheer myself up, which is why I tend not to drink. I wish I could be a normal drinker and just drink champagne because I’m having fun and in a good mood, but those aren’t really the times I want to drink. And all I wanted in that moment was to be tucked away somewhere, anywhere really, with this person. And that’s the thing that I miss - that sense that we had something that wasn’t about sitting around showing off to anyone else but turning inward.
I met this couple here, family friends, and two separate people let me in on the fact that the wife has asked the husband for a separation. It was so odd to me, that these strangers, whose kids I doted on at Thanksgiving, I was now privy to something that I see as rather personal. It struck me too that all the naysayers who go on and on about the evils of blogging and oversharing, well, we already overshare, about other people. We gossip, and maybe that word is too harsh, because it wasn’t said in a “omg, let me tell you this juicy tidbit of news,” but more like, “Isn’t it sad that, are they going to work it out?” But still, the fact was, I now had this information about these strangers and I kindof didn’t want it. It made me wonder at the way once you do have any kind of public relationship, it becomes very very public. People have no qualms about asking what is going on in my relationship and honestly, I don’t always know. It’s not like we check in every five minutes for a status update.
It’s not that I have no idea, but it’s not like I have some easy-to-round-up story fit for public consumption. Life is a little messier than that. Yet I appreciate that my family wants to know, that my uncle is the one who’s met more of the people I’ve dated than anyone else. I stayed at this house in 2003 with K. and will never forget us driving around (well, her driving around) to In-N-Out and being silly here. I came here last year with J., my own perhaps misguided idea to go to BEA. My boyfriend met my uncle in New York earlier this year and apparently my uncle’s been talking him up to the rest of the family, making my New York cousins jealous and asking me, “Why haven’t we met him yet?”
Anyway…the point is, my bellini. At least, that was my original point. It was good, but it hit me really fast. I of course drank it in part in the hope that I would suddenly not be clutching my iPhone like a lifeline and would instantly perk up and be magically as bubbly as my drink. It was more like hoping to make it home and not have to puke, and then I lay in bed and the ceiling swam around a little and I hunkered under the really plush covers and still had no more clue about anything than I did before.
And if you have a burning question you want me to ask Julie Powell tomorrow night, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. (rachelkb at gmail.com) As it stands, I have plenty of questions in my head already.
From USA Today, which I post to point out that I do recognize that it’s complicated to write about your personal life - that would be a giant understatement. Of course I do; the potential to hurt someone is sky high. I just think it’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out (there have been plenty of affair/infidelity memoirs out recently, from Julie Metz’s Perfection to Isabel Gillies Happens Every Day, etc.):
She blames the “dark void” in her marriage on marrying young and, in part, on the changes that Julie & Julia and surrounding publicity brought to her life.
“D,” she says, is completely out of the picture. The woman with whom Eric had an affair is history, too.
Since the Powells’ marital problems were happening during her apprenticeship, Powell felt she needed to include them in the book. She left the final decision to Eric.
“We talked about this long and hard,” Powell says, “and I would never have published the book if Eric hadn’t given his blessing. I’m so extraordinarily lucky to be married to a man who’s so courageous and so generous to let me write about our personal lives so frankly.”
That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard.
Eric, Powell says, has only “skimmed” Cleaving. “He knows what’s in it,” she says. “He knows there are relatively explicit passages in which I talk about sex. He’s choosing not to relive the experience. He lived years visualizing this kind of stuff to himself.” (Eric declined to be interviewed for this story.)
Although the book ends with a revived passion for her husband, the lewd details of her affair are difficult to read, especially for fans of the first book. In “Julie and Julia” (both the book and the movie), we fall in love with Powell’s husband, Eric, a fellow former Austinite, who is patient, witty and sensitive, the calm to her crazy. She went to such great detail to portray him as the near-perfect mate, it’s hard to have sympathy for her when she falls (back) in love with a fling — or at least his preference for S&M sex — from college.
Marriage isn’t perfect, and Lord knows we need more realistic looks at what and what does not constitute a modern marriage, but there’s something to be said about modesty when it comes to writing about extramarital sex, the painful details of which I’m too embarrassed for her to share, just in case her family or friends are reading this.” —
Is this what our sadly puritanical fanatically pro-marriage country has to look forward to in reviews of Julie Powell’s new memoir Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession? If so, UGH. I’m looking forward to interviewing her tomorrow night. But I will keep on saying that her essay “Lost in Space” in Paula Derrow’s anthology Behind the Bedroom Door is one of the best pieces about sex (and kink) I’ve ever read, and far and away my favorite piece in that anthology. That reviewer should stay far, far away lest the horror of kinky sex be too “realistic.” G-d forbid “realistic” be a way to describe a…MEMOIR. Madness, isn’t it?
Actually, there’s a lot to pity in this review. It’s pretty offensive to me not so much as a kinky person, but as a writer. “[T]he painful details of which I’m too embarrassed for her to share, just in case her family or friends are reading this?” Because they’d never read the book, of course, in which, let it be said, she thanks Eric and D. (her husband and the man she had said affair with) “for your generosity and grace in handling a situation difficult and not of your choosing.” I do not have room in my piece to get into other reviewers who are saying the most ridiculous things a la above, but no wonder we are so crazy about sex and monogamy when we cannot even handle someone deigning to discuss the reality that, um, hi, marriage isn’t always perfect.
Well…I had a moment of doubt about posting this because I just actually took a second to read the byline and it’s by someone I know and like, Addie Broyles. At the same time, I’m going to post this because I find it an offensive way to approach a memoir, any memoir, by basically saying that the topics discussed therein aren’t worthy of discussion. Lately I shy away from writing so many things lest person X or person Y be reading and take it the wrong way (I probably censor about 50% of the things that flit through my mind and perhaps that’s why I haven’t written anything of substance in weeks!), so I’m going to stand by my gut reaction to that review. I will still totally go for barbecue with Addie in Austin at SXSW, I just can’t at all agree with that take on writing about one’s personal life.
i love you
mmmmmmmmmndxnms,mahufhfuhfvufhvvhuvhjvuvjiufievmeirureooooooooo” —Email from my 4-year-old cousin. Aww…making up for not taking him to concert last weekend by taking him to Hannukah party next weekend.
I made the choice to dine at Cafe Sushi based soley on the fact that I once saw Lauren Conrad and Lo Bosworth eat here on an episode of “The Hills”.
I’m not just a loser. I’m THAT loser.
Dubious decision making skills aside, the sushi I had here was really quite good, and the service was friendly and attentive. Highlights included uni and mirugai nigiri so fresh and sweet, devouring their amazing tasty deliciousness almost made me want to throw on a little Natasha Bedingfield and dance about with joy. Almost.
I was, however, deeply underwhelmed by the shopworn decor. Thanks to the meticulous art direction of the television triumph that is “The Hills”, this place had WAY more atmosphere in hi-def Panasonic than it did in real-life PanaTsada. Tsigh.
And sadly, I didn’t see one reality TV nymphet upon my visit to Cafe Sushi.” —Yelp review of the restaurant where I’m having dinner tonight. They do have spicy lobster miso soup…I may have to try that. Photos TK. I doubt I would recognize most reality TV stars.