The Short Stack: May 2

Every Friday (every Friday I can manage it), I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and randomness that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy with a crusty bread and citrusy wine!

Let’s get this show on the road. Tomorrow, May 3, is my birthday, but I always start my birthday celebration the day before, at least in my mind.

So, happy birthday to me!

Happy Birthday cat and cupcake!

It’s been a rough warm-up to the birthday. It’s rained every day, often all day, for the past five days. It is dark, gloomy and wet. Luckily, I’ve had an enthralling book to take my mind off things. So far off things, in fact, that I realized tonight that all I’ve done since Sunday is read about flappers and go to work.

The book is Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell and it tells the stories of Lady Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, Tamara de Lempicka, Tallulah Bankhead and Josephine Baker.

painting by Tamara de Lempicka
Detail from painting by Tamara de Lempicka

I’ve learned so much! I’m bursting with so much information that I’ll periodically turn to Keith while I’m reading and announce, “Flapper fact!” before entertaining him with a factoid I’ve just read. Among the interesting flapper facts:

  • There was a lot of undiagnosed and misdiagnosed mental illness in the 20s and 30s. I know that we lament our mental health system today, but it looks like Candyland when compared to a world where one either had a “nervous breakdown,” and went away for a little while, or had a complete breakdown and when away for years, possibly forever.
  • Josephine Baker slept with whoever she had to sleep with to get ahead and get out of the slums of St. Louis and I don’t think she wasted any time feeling bad about it and ended up having a sweet life in Paris (at least as far as I’ve read so far) and that’s refreshing, in a way. I’m not saying fun or cool or deserved but she didn’t waste a lot of time dwelling on things.
  • It was very common and very unsafe and very illegal to have an abortion.
  • Hysterectomies were performed often and liberally.
  • The secret to being successful at something, or at least getting better at it, is to simply do it and keep doing it. You might not find fame and fortune but you’ll probably live a life you can feel good about. And you may find a sliver of fame, a dab of fortune.
  • Cocaine was considered a god-send by many women. Ditto morphine.
  • Being thin was important in the 1920s. Lots of crash diets. So don’t think that just sprang up out of nowhere in the 90s or something.
  • Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald had a horrible, truly depressing marriage, most of which was brought about, in my opinion, because Zelda wasn’t able to be the artist she truly was without the shadow of Scott hanging over her (alcoholism and mental illness also played a role). When she sold stories to magazines they often insisted on having it be in both their names or just his alone! That would be enough for me to go berserk as well.

New Haruki Murakami novel gets released in the U.S. this August! Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Did you know that before Murakami was one of the greatest writers ever he owned a jazz club in Tokyo? It was called Peter Cat Jazz. I’m hoping to make my own Peter Cat Jazz t-shirt with my own design but poking around on the Murakami fan blog I found an image of a coaster from the club with featuring its real “branding”:

Peter Cat Jazz club coaster from Murakami's jazz club in Tokyo

Fargo, Mad Men, Orphan Black.

Just found out that Sharknado is streaming on Netflix.

If you haven’t seen Purple Rose of Cairo it’s funny and  entertaining and reminded me of Midnight in Paris (which has a great soundtrack, btw, with a song by Josephine Baker on it). Jeff Daniels is young and fresh-faced and Mia Farrow manages not to annoy (but, as Keith pointed out, she’s basically a stand-in for Woody Allen in the movie – since there was no part for him he seems to have made Mia do an impersonation of him the entire time which, oddly enough, didn’t bug me).

Falling Asleep
I can’t get enough sleep. When I’m awake I’m wishing I was asleep. When I’m asleep I pop awake and worry about not sleeping. Tonight, while I was walking the dog, I wondered, “What would it take to really, fully relax?” What would it take to get a full night’s sleep and have oodles of energy? I decided I didn’t have that answer but it’s something I need to figure out in the next year. I suspect that it might involve vitamin D and meditation. And a hot tub.

Strange Book People
I was excited to go to a book sale at my neighborhood library. I love libraries! I’m a Friend of the Library. Once, at this very sale, I came across the entire Doonesbury collection for Keith.

But the sale was overrun by book collectors or sellers, maybe both. The kind of people who run around the sale throwing books into boxes and putting annoying tags on the full boxes that say “Sold,” even though they intend to sit down on the floor and sort through them at their leisure, basically holding a bunch of books hostage so no one else can even look at them.

There were women with those little gadgets attached to their smart phones that allowed them to scan book bar codes and instantly see what the book was worth and they just worked their way down the rows, scanning furiously. There were pasty women in visors and pastel sweatshirts with rolling suitcases stuffed to the gills with books.

And none of them want you to look at anything, lest you get to some prize before they can pile it into their box.

It made me sad. It was not something I wanted to be part of, even if all the money went to the library. Humans always find a way to take something basic and fun and make it suck. It’s not possible to have a book sale to benefit the library without some weirdos turning it into a hoarding spree, piling their cartons high with books.

“Relax,” I wanted to say to the hunched man wearing a sweatband around his head as he humped from table to table. “You don’t need all the books. Be a decent person.”

I can just hear them, “This is how we make our living. It’s a sale – everything is fair game.”

To that I say, I don’t care. This aggression will not stand, man.

Thing I’m Missing This Weekend (That I’m Going to Next Year)
Modern Vintage Chicago

Stuff I Want for My B-day
Dynasty: Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD
Gold shoes
Skinny black pantsBooks, books and more books… but I don’t need all of the books. I’m not going to snatch one out of your hand, for instance.
Cloisonné earrings, preferably of tiny fans or something with flowers. Because you can still find great cloisonné right now, but get it while you can…  Like these babies!

vintage cloisonne earrings of fans with cranes

4 thoughts on “The Short Stack: May 2

  1. First of all, happy birthday (although we don’t know each other but live in the same city, but it’s a big city)!

    Second, I dug the nugget that you took away from the book re: successful and it actually made me breathe a sigh of relief. Most of us have heard it before but it bears repeating since so many of us often forget (myself definitely included).

    And christ on a crutch, WTF is wrong with people at library sales?!? You can’t take this shit with you people.

    Although I have a thing about the Hennepin County Library system. For instance, when I’ve wanted to donate manga at the downtown location (yes, I love all types of reading and I’m not ashamed to admit it), I was told that I should just give it to the store so that they could sell it even though I know that kids in the teen section would probably read it and they’ve been letting that their manga collection languish. So yeah, our tax dollars hard at work. I’m sure this is the case with other genres of books, too. To say I’m peevish about that is an understatement.

    And finally, yes, I love that there’s someone else who loves cloisonne…I’m just too lazy to wear jewelry anymore :/

    Anywho, happy birthday 🙂

  2. Well, Kim, you seem like a lovely person even if you can’t muster the energy to put on some jewelry. Have you checked out the new Walker library? I noticed that they have a fairly large section of manga… I get what you mean about the donation though – you want someone to use those books without having to pay! Have you thought about leaving some in a couple of the Little Free Libraries all around the city? Maybe an enterprising manga-loving teen would scoop them up. You never know…

  3. Hah! Oh, jewelry 🙂

    I actually haven’t been to the new Walker yet since I’m disturbed by the industrial modern aesthetic that the city of Minneapolis seems to hang onto with the ferocity of a dog with a chewtoy. I much rather prefer brick, but that’s just me.

    I’ll pop into that library eventually, but I don’t read manga as much as I used to but definitely leave books and other goodies in the Little Free Libraries that I come across in the city 🙂

    How are you liking Orphan Black? I read a “review” of it on Forever Young Adult (I’m a straight-up YA fiend) but they said the reviewer said they couldn’t say much or it would give a decent amount of what happens away.

  4. The first half of season one of Orphan Black is one of those shows that you binge on… then it starts to feel soap opera-ish and way over the top but you keep going because you’ve invested the time… I’ve only just started Season 2 but am distracted by Mad Men, True Detective, new season of Louie, Fargo, etc. etc. Which makes it sound like all I ever do is watch TV…

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