Things got agressive in my kitchen tonight between 9-12. Out of it, however, came two recipes I highly suggest, paired with two outdated articles you should totally read while eating.
Recipe 1: Fried egg sandwich with turkey bacon & goat cheese (amended from “Fried egg sandwich with bacon and bleu cheese" via smitten kitchen)
We used white wine vinaigrette. Don’t do that. Use red. We also used arugula because TJ’s doesn’t have frisee, but that was ultimately a good decision. Just beware of the yolk. My couch now has what visitors will consider a faint unidentified stain. It’s easier to justify than the one I wore to school in ninth grade when my mother made me eat an egg sandwich in the car. Lethal yolk exploded onto the crotch of my light pink shorts, spent the rest of the day scraping it off in the bathroom between classes. I consider that an unidentified stain on my social life.
Article 1: Who Stole the Mona Lisa? by Simon Kupor for The Financial Times
This piece is about a maddeningly simple art heist from 100 years ago that happened to propel the Mona Lisa’s fame. It was stolen by a small Italian man who had it hidden under his bed. He claimed to have fallen in love with her, and his justification for stealing her was, “It seems to belong in Italy since its painter was an Italian.” Europeans have such wonky ideas of property rights. I don’t see anyone trying to steal Mount Rushmore, and its sculptor was fucking Danish (on a related note, he was the spawn of polygamists, quite interesting, read here). Once it was gone, public fascination erupted: people lined up to visit the empty space where it had hung, and her face was commodified for the first time & sold to consumers on lighters and postcards. One of my favorite things about this article is the images and clippings that go along with it, firsthand accounts from the time period that remind you the story is real.
Recipe 2: Jim Lahey’s Chocolate Chip Cookies via Shutterbean.
This recipe I followed exactly on my quest to find the perfect cookie. It’s damn near it. The dough is sticker than I’m used to, and when they’re baking they look like sad melted pancake batter but don’t freak out, or as my roommate says, “stop staring” because deformed baked goods often taste better and they do hold a shape. This cookie journey has also facilitated my first jaunt with an electric mixer. I come from a family of Armenian genocide survivors; apple corers and waffle makers (“single use appliances”) don’t hold the same weight when you wash your floors on hands & knees and wash your kids with Ajax. That said, the electric mixer is a heavy son of a bitch but I’m beginning to develop very tender feelings for it. It made cookies that matter, at least to my coworkers, who have since devoured them.
Article 2: Sweatpants in Paradise by Molly Young for The Believer
"I do not think I am alone in recounting my teenage years in terms of things bought and the hopes invested in them," Molly Young writes, continuing on to say what many of us know: that immersive retail experiences put together by megachains like Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch are trying to sell more than clothing. They’re selling an "aspirational lifestyle," encouraging kids to buy marked up clothes for brand above quality. The best thing this article does is provide a relatable articulation of how they do prey on kids and remind me of how they used to prey on me. I remember being at A&F one day with this girl every boy wanted to french kiss. We were trying on shredded khaki shorts. I was still using green Walgreens gel in my hair and losing my baby teeth, but she had silky hair and nice calves. A girl folding told her she was “really pretty” and that they “love the look” and asked her to fill out an application. I guess in some twisted way I bought clothes at A&F invested in the hope that the world would respond to me the way they did her. But was I just trying to fit into a world that A&F had created in the first place?
Young writes, “Immersion retail presents clothes in the environment in which they are putatively designed to be worn, telling customers exactly what a product is supposed to mean.” So a totally unauthentic company like Hollister, which is named after a town 40 miles from the ocean and only offers banal, scrubbed reinforcements of SoCal stereotypes, is giving us context for a fake world we’re supposed to be aspiring to in some way. It’s only reflecting their decision on, which has shaped our perception of, how authentic surf culture should be. And then through creating an immersive experience that’s meant to be aspirational, it’s capitalizing on and perpetuating preteen and teenage infatuation with this generic All-American aesthetic. The loop is constant until college hits, and this is the only time I will ever quote Modern Family, especially Mitchell from Modern Family, talking to Manny, “This is the funny thing about growing up. For years and years, everybody’s desperately afraid to be different, you know, in any way. And then suddenly, almost overnight, everybody wants to be different. And that is where we win.”
Bake those cookies!
Till next time.
Yesterday afternoon I received an email from David Clark ‘73, one of the 28 men in Connecticut College’s first coed class. He was responding most specifically to my thesis’ chapter on coeducation. In it, he confirms that the Camel mascot was chosen because it had humps, and men at Conn hump. He remembers seeing half the campus leave on weekend nights to visit their boyfriends at other schools, and tells me that among the first men, “There’s an astro-physicist, a Broadway mogul, an ornithologist, a jewelry handcrafter, a musician, a preacher, and at least two have been mayors.”
Please read for yourself below:
The very first four men to graduate - all return to college students - in 1971.
Three men dining in Harris. 1970s - exact date unknown. Photo by John Robbins.
Admissions slideshow, “Connecticut College: Now for Women and Men.” Caption reads, “Individuality is respected and encouraged.” Video File. 1971.
Admissions slideshow, “Connecticut College: Now for Women and Men.” Video File. 1971.
Three men moving in, 1984.
I came upon your honors thesis about CC on the internet. Spectacular job! You made so many great interviews. Your writing style was a delight to follow. You told me stuff I never knew, and reminded me of events that were hazy or forgotten.
I’m David Clark. I am one of the original co-eds that first came to Larrabee in September of 1969, and graduated in May of 1973.
While I could tell you lots more stories, my training as an editor confines me to offer one commentary and one update. Please enjoy and use them as you see fit.
First the comment. You cite the letter from an alumna criticizing the decision to go co-ed in 1969:
She continued, “But most important of all, what kind of men do you really think are going to be attracted to a formerly all girls school?…they will either be girl crazy or so strange no nice girl would care to associate with them. Then what will become of our fine image!”
My Comment: Jane Bredeson, who interviewed me on January 24, 1969, had it right when she said the admissions office scrambled. The initial yield after the college’s offers and the applicants acceptances deadline of May 1st was just seven men. Thanks to some fast telephoning to guidance counselors around New England (and even as far as Colorado) the admissions office found several good candidates who had been “shot down” by all their college choices and were looking for somewhere to go. By some demographics, 1969 was the height of the baby boomers going to college, and competition was tough. So some of the original coeds were (probably badly) counseled into just applying to the Ivies and nowhere else.
The result however, was that everyone was glad to be there, even if CC wasn’t their first choice. There was a strong feeling amongst us that while this was an experiment, it was an experiment that was going to work. Everyone seemed glad to be a pioneer. And all of us coeds had the experience to be in a small minority, which can be very good training for dealing with the larger world. As far as braininess went, the women were so much smarter than we were it wasn’t even close; so we learned much from our female classmates and all the upperclasswomen.
Girl crazy? I can think of only one of us who seemed preoccupied with dating as many women as possible. Strange? Well we were all peculiar in our own way, but we were probably not much of a different mix of young men as you would have found at any other college that year. While classifications aren’t always the nicest way to talk about people, I’ll offer up these descriptions that may help tell something about us. There were jocks, recluses, stoners, studybugs, anarchists, preppies, eco-freaks, and techies. Thankfully no one was a bore.
Maybe the worried alumna thought we would all be effeminate, or even worse gay. And some of our sister classmates whispered the same thoughts. Again, we turned out to be the usual cross-section of society. As they began to know us as individuals, the women of the student body began to respect us for who we were, enjoyed our company in the classroom and around campus, and as more than one alumnae has told me, “you have no idea how much you were worshipped for helping take the college on its next steps.”
Did we have accomplishments? Sure did. Some bright boys became Phi Beta Kappa. We started the first basketball team and gave it a name (and Carrie Kent is spot-on when she says it was sexual). We even beat Vassar. We became a force in student government. We joined clubs and wrote for the paper and re-started WCNI. We sat in wonderment in classes like Ruby Turner Morris’ lecture on money with the gold (chocolate) pieces, and Wayne Swanson explaining how small the pool of presidential candidates might be (Blacks? Women?) and Walter Brady and Ernie Schlesinger trying to teach us calculus.
Did we have disappointments and worries? You bet. A typical weekend saw more than half of our sisters leave the campus to visit boyfriends at other schools. Some of us buckled under the academic pressure. Immaturity manifested itself in kitchen raids that bordered on vandalism. We played Frisbee in the halls of Larrabee and scratched the paint on the walls. Some experiments with alcohol and drugs turned nasty. The Vietnam war and the draft and the lottery picks of December 1, 1969 made our plans for after college uncertain. The killings at Kent State and Jackson State were scary. The May 1970 strike made us all think about where the country was going and the relevance of our education.
But all in all we survived, even flourished. And so did CC. As good an image as the school had before coeducation, I think there’s universal acceptance that it became even better. Hopefully our scared alumna who worried about what kind of men we would turn out to be can feel better about us and the college now.
“Twenty-seven men moved into the first floor of Larrabee in September of 1969, while the others were put on one floor of Lambdin and in a few dorm basements.”
As you and Peggy note, the numbers were really small and there were some day students and exchange students on campus. I don’t recall any men being housed in Lambdin that year, in fact it was the running joke that Lambdin was the dorm least friendly to men. In its original configuration the Plex had five dorms made from tan bricks, but for Lambdin the exterior brickwork was white. Hence the joke: “Why is Lambdin made out of white bricks? Because every girl in there is a virgin.”
They were succeeded there by Tim and Terry Napier, and then in 1972-1973 by yours truly as it became acceptable to have single men as housefellows.
It’s worth noting that apart from any occasional “sleepovers” that may have occurred that three women also lived with us and eventually married their boyfriends, all three couples are still married as I write this. Bobby Chappell and Timmy Dahlgren, Barbara St John and Peter Vickery, Sarah Nash and Harvey Moseley.
You may ask “what are we doing now?” Well I am the youngest of the lot and I just turned sixty, so we are all preparing for semi-retirement. As far as professions go, here is my quick count for those I can identify with certainty. There are five lawyers, including a former state Attorney General. Three went into medicine. Three (at least) went into teaching. Two are magazine writers (National Geographic and Sports Illustrated). There’s an astro-physicist, a Broadway mogul, an ornithologist, a jewelry handcrafter, a musician, a preacher, and at least two have been mayors.
Again, many thanks for the great work. All the best wishes for the future. If I can be a source for future endeavors, please feel free to be in touch.
MR C. From ’73.
"When we talk about the process, then, we are talking, increasingly, not about “the democratic process,” or the general mechanism affording the citizens of a state a voice in its affairs, but the reverse: a mechanism seen as so specialized that access to it is correctly limited to its own professionals, to those who manage policy and those who report on it, to those who run the polls and those who quote them, to those who ask and those who answer the questions on the Sunday shows, to the media consultants, to the columnists, to the issues advisers, to those who give the off-the-record breakfasts and to those who attend them; to that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life."
Rosen’s premise: “The Iowa Caucuses are presented as a news event, a mini-election with an informational outcome, a winner. But what they really are is a ritual, the gathering of a tribe, which affirms itself and its place in our political system by staging this thing every four years.”
Both highly recommended!
This is the beginning of a weekly installment.
1. An article to love:
What Women Want: Porn and the Frontier of Female Sexuality by Amanda Hess
"Deen has carved out a niche in the porn industry by looking like the one guy who doesn’t belong there. Scroll through L.A.’s top porn agency sites and you’ll find hundreds of pouty women ready to drop to their knees, but just a few dozen men available to have sex with them. These guys all have a familiar look—neck chains, frosted tips, unreasonable biceps, tribal tattoos. Deen looks like he was plucked from a particularly intellectual frat house."
This is Good’s recent piece on James Deen, a porn star who could be any of my friends from high school, and his fan club. Turns out male porn stars are starting to become objects of affection and obsession for high school girls - this one has tumblrs and fan clubs to his name. Why? Because he’s not just a giant bald penis but a young skinny Jewish guy that looks like Seth Cohen from the OC: endearing. Nonthreatening. Less we forget he’s boning MILFs and bombshells and Jenna Jameson. Wonderfully written and researched, takes strokes on how a new tweeny female audience is becoming a vocal audience for online porn, and they’re looking for something different.
2. An article to poop on:
Penn State, my final loss of faith by Thomas L. Day
"Our parents’ generation has balked at the tough decisions required to preserve our country’s sacred entitlements, leaving us to clean up the mess. They let the infrastructure built with their fathers’ hands crumble like a stale cookie. They downgraded our nation’s credit rating. They seem content to hand us a debt exceeding the size of our entire economy, rather than brave a fight against the fortunate and entrenched interests on K Street and Wall Street."
I’m sick of articles like this, blaming our parents’ generation for all the thick headedness of today’s era - it’s so simplistic. Thomas Day, things weren’t better in the 70’s, they were just easier to understand. There was more overt racism and sexism and bigotry, there were wars, a draft, suburbanization. But you’re welcome to make a hundred generalizations: They caused skyrocketing unemployment and a deteriorating global economy. They are full of perverts (is that unique?). And poor us, looking bad in our riot at Penn State, because we didn’t have them to lead us (a typical case of reflecting responsibility outside of ourselves).
But it’s so easy to fall for that, and that’s the danger of this article. My sister sent it around to the family. My mother apologized.
If we’re going to generalize, let’s do it with less chagrin: I think extreme advances in technology have upended the present understanding of our world, and it’s led to a type of globalization that’s affected every industry in our economy in ways we’re not used to and didn’t know how to prepare for. If anything, our parents’ generation blame the media instead of the cause partially because new technology doesn’t come naturally to them. It’s threatening to have to ask a 22 year old to explain how to make a website, or how to download a document or videochat someone in Tehran when you come from an era where your elders were the ones completely in charge and doubtlessly in the know. My roommate’s CEO is 24. I don’t think my mother and father’s generation was better off than we are - they were forced to rebel. We’re given authority.
Occupy Wall Street was streaming past City Hall on Wednesday and everyone was holding a sign with a different message - but what’s disagreeable about their common theme?
Tax Billionaires - America Needs Jobs, Not Cuts - Save the Dream - We the 99% - NYPD, a CEO makes 200x more than you - We are Many, They are Few - Question Reality - Job Creators Should be Fired for Poor Performance - Standing Up for the Change We Voted For - People Over Profit - and: The Way to Close the Deficit is to Stop Feeding Chris Christie.
They remind me of the Indignants in Greece - not affiliated to a particular party or a set of beliefs, just tired, sometimes unemployed, often feeling powerless in the face of an inefficient government, not interested in writing down a list of demands or standing behind one of a hundred causes but looking each other in the eye and saying, ok good, you’re here too, and then looking the country in the eye and saying, fix it.
"Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. Whether we agree with them or not, we all know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher. What upsets banking’s defenders and politicians alike is the refusal of this movement to state its terms or set its goals in the traditional language of campaigns.
"That’s because, unlike a political campaign designed to get some person in office and then close up shop (as in the election of Obama), this is not a movement with a traditional narrative arc. As the product of the decentralized networked-era culture, it is less about victory than sustainability. It is not about one-pointedness, but inclusion and groping toward consensus. It is not like a book; it is like the Internet."
-Douglas Rushkoff, Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it