The Bird

No Filter Life

It's right there, as long as you: leave the house, park the car, walk through the sand, move past the guys throwing fishing nets, turn your head, mentally pause while your feet keep moving, walk up the stairs, make your way down the path, and keep checking, yep, it's still there, and later, yes, it's still there, and, still again, it's all right there, hovering on the edge of the world, changing shape, until you realize, you are, too. 

What I'm Reading

Typically, I wouldn't read a book like Don Winslow's The Force, yet here I am. I read someone writing about it somewhere, and they described it as in some way Joycean, so there you go. It's about a dirty cop, and a city in disorder, and the blurry line between the supposed good guys and the purported bad guys. It's long and engrossing and a suitable summer read. 

Here's a snippet:

"A strong wind finds its way through every crack, into the project stairwells, the tenement heroin mills, the social club back rooms, the new-money condos, the old-money penthouses. From Columbus Circle to the Henry Hudson Bridge, Riverside Park to the Harlem River, up Broadway and Amsterdam, down Lenox and St. Nicholas, on the numbered streets that spanned the Upper West Side, Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, if there was a secret Da Force didn't know about, it was because it hadn't been whispered about or even thought of yet." 

Vegetarians Need Not Apply

The editor of this magazine and I talked about me writing something for the magazine, and while that didn't work out, I was excited to see it on the newsstand. I love the title -- CARNIVORE -- and I love the cover: the chef's coat, the rifle in hand, the slab of raw meat. It's all very visceral. This magazine is for you if you enjoy hunting, you enjoy eating what you hunt, and you want to join the call to arms of the FIELD TO TABLE REVOLUTION. Also: you can learn how to make a wild boar patty melt, and who hasn't been pining for a boar melt lately? 

Song to Song to Wait, What?

In the last few years, I've seen several Terrence Malick movies: "The Tree of Life," "To the Wonder," "Knight of Cups." In order to enjoy them, one must be open-minded or at least in a Terrence Malick kind of mood. What are Malick's movies about? Everything and nothing. What is the plot? Good luck. How is the dialogue? Um. These movies are collagist, impressionistic, dreamscapes in which love/pain/desire/rejection/rebirth/death/ecstasy all coexist, interweave, and pulse with a curious kind of life that makes, well, the act of living seem more alive on the screen than in reality. His latest, "Song to Song," could be said to be about the Austin music scene, or a study of several men and several women whose love lives intersect, or a fucking mess. It all depends on you. Manohla Dargis has it right: Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman deliver the standout performances while Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara sometimes appear to be engaging in acting exercises. What does that mean? It's hard to say. Malick likes to linger on Mara's hip bones, pour over vignettes in which lovers' bodies intertwine in unmet longing, open wide to bear witness to grand landscapes in which the awesome beauty of the universe consumes the smallness of us attempting to find one another in it. There's a brief and tragically lovely appearance by Cate Blanchett. The homes in which these beautiful people wander are striking glass boxes that attempt to contain the fragility of their occupants. There's some hot lesbian groping. What does it all mean? I have no idea. The alternative is one more phony plot with stilted dialogue that's supposed to capture the human experience but does little more than package it into something that feels like Spam. 

I Am Not Beguiled

"The Beguiled." I am not a fan. Admission: I loved "Somewhere." I have watched it many times and will watch it many times again. I liked "The Virgin Suicides" when it came out, but I suppose it was a bit too twee for me. "Marie Antoinette" was interesting and ravishing but a bit cringey and awkward. "Lost in Translation" I like a lot. So, I suppose you could say I like Sofia Coppola's "floaters" -- the movies where nothing's happening, nothing's supposed to happen, nothing's going to happen. Sofia: Stay away from plot. Perhaps that is the problem she encountered with "The Beguiled," a remake. She got preoccupied with diaphanous dresses, moody shots under Spanish moss-hung trees, the brooding despair of the South. She forgot that if you start with something happening, people are going to think something else is going to happen, and you can't just expect us to stare at a group of women staring at Colin Farrell for 94 minutes and leave feeling satisfied. I wanted a lot because I had Nicole Kidman, and Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst. Instead, I got a shrug-off of slavery, a couple gruesome scenes, and a third act that was entirely MIA. At the end, when the final shot was happening, I was like, this isn't the end, is it? I mean, the conclusion landed like a queef in yoga class. Anyway, watch it if you want. I can't stop you. I might have to go watch "Somewhere" again to get the taste of this misfire out of my mouth. 

Illicit Objects

I'm excited to report that I've got a short piece coming up as part of the Illicit Objects project. 

Keep an eye on that page for my forthcoming work.

PROJECT:OBJECT is a sequel to the much-discussed quasi-anthropological SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS experiment conducted in 2009–2010 by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker, culminating in a book lavishly published by Fantagraphics in 2012. PROJECT:OBJECT will publish 100 original nonfiction stories about objects in 2017 — right here on HILOBROW — in quarterly “volumes” inspired by distinct themes. This new endeavor further extends Rob and Josh’s pioneering exploration of narrative, objects, and meaning into the realm of (often unexpected) personal significance.

100 Porn Movies/100 Days: An Introduction

The other day, I was talking to a friend who recalled seeing "Deep Throat" in the Seventies. I had to admit that despite having written about porn for 20 years this year (!), I'd never seen that seminal 1972 film. (Because, you know, that's what adult movies were, in those days: not cheap, fuzzy video, but actual, vivid film.)

It occurred to me that I should watch it. Then it occurred to me that there are probably 99 other porn movies, some of which I've seen and some of which I haven't seen, that could stand up to close consideration. Then I wondered what would happen if I watched those 100 porn movies, and because I like undertaking projects that are constrained by time, I thought it would be interesting if I watched those 100 movies in 100 days.

Hence, "100 Porn Movies/100 Days" was born. Would watching 100 porn movies in 100 days simply be a waste of my time? Would watching porn daily reduce this viewer to her "bottom-most" self, as the New York Times' Worst Hire Ever would have you believe? Or would scrutinizing some of the most important, noteworthy, and, well, curious porn movies ever made shed some kind of light on, dare I suggest, the human condition? Having spent a significant portion of my life looking at pornography, writing about our culture's ever-changing relationship to it, and lingering on the periphery of the industry that produces it, I'd like to believe that this oeuvre-of-100 would reveal something significant about the collective state of us.

As for what that is, that remains to be seen.

So far, I've got the start of a list of movies to watch. It includes legendary films like "Deep Throat" (so timely in today's political climate!) and "The Devil in Miss Jones"; movies that captured an era, like "New Wave Hookers" and "Debbie Does Dallas"; and movies unlike anything that came before them, like "The Operation" and "American Bukkake." 

What would you add to the list? If you've got suggestions of movies that you think should make my must-watch list, you can email me at susannahbreslin at gmail dot com

[Eventually], I'll kick off with "Deep Throat." Did you know the cast of performers includes not only "American Beauty" star Thora Birch's mother, but her father, too? Do 1972 sex scenes differ from 21st century sex scenes? Did the film that kicked off "porno chic" change the game with its preoccupation with female desire or are viewers bearing witness to a visibly bruised actress being sexually exploited by her handlers? How much did "Deep Throat" make at the box office, anyway? Was it $50M ... or $600M? What about those money-laundering-by-the-mob rumors? And let's not forget that groovy soundtrack. 

Also, a special thanks to Dave Winer, who is taking no prisoners on his blog, as of late. Dave is the blogfather, and he always reminds me of why we blog. As he wrote today: "First, you do this because you love it, not because it pays well." Thanks for the kick in the pants, Dave.