Month: January 2015

gossip tuenight bruce jenner

The Gold-Medalist Rule: The Problem With That Bruce Jenner Cover

When I was a women’s-magazine staffer, I was the very last person to hear or share office gossip. Quite literally, my cube wasn’t close enough to anyone else’s to exchange whispers; I called my little corner of the floor The Land of Wind and Ghosts. I also took The Devil Wears Prada, which was embedding itself in pop culture just as I entered publishing, way too seriously: If I wanted to avoid becoming a magazine-world grotesque, I figured, I should keep my personal and professional lives separate and my secrets to myself. No nicknaming mutual enemies at Happy Hour or gently toxic GChats for me. Keeping up with celebrity gossip, on the other hand, was a small but significant part of my professional responsibilities. I was the research chief, queen of the fact checkers, and I had to be dead sure everything we said about the beautiful people was demonstrably true. I once spent a dark afternoon of the soul trying to confirm the spelling of an actor’s dog’s name. I had to scour the …

gossip tuenight music

The Kids Are Alright (And So Is Their Music)

This piece is a response to Margit Detweiler’s essay about contemporary music, “The New Pop, Pop, Pop Music (And Why I Don’t Like It).” First, let me say that I don’t entirely disagree with Margit. I, too, am underwhelmed by a lot of what I hear on the radio, and my son went through a Psy phase that almost made me lose the will to live. But I’m more optimistic about the current state of music than she is, and even though my ears are old, I’m not ready to cover them just yet. Full disclosure: I was a Top 40’s kid in the 1970s and 80s. My only exposure to New Wave came from MTV, and the underground and alternative scene was completely alien to me and my suburban boom box. I owned a pair of Madonna-esque fingerless lace gloves, and I spent angst-filled hours listening to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” on my tape deck. Oh, and my favorite band? Chicago. Yeah. That all changed when I went to college. I got the musical …

Tales of T.M.I.: When Does Oversharing Become Overbearing?

T.M.I. Too much information. Ever shared more than you should? Ever gone out on a limb, to have no one join you there? You, too, could be a practitioner of T.M.I. You’re oversharing, of a very personal sort, to folks who may or may not want to hear it (but, let’s be honest, probably not). Like colleagues. Folks at church. Your not-well-curated social media networks. Unsure if you’ve ever done it? Let’s assess, via criteria I like to call “The 7 B’s”: Is it about bodily fluids? Is it regarding bedroom activity? Does it involve your boobs, your bump, your bum or your balls? And finally, not a B but an important question: Did you experience sharing regret — even a smidge? If yes, to any/all of these criteria, then you might be an oversharer. According to Urban Dictionary — esteemed and accurate source that it is — T.M.I. is, “information more personal than anyone wants, or needs, to know.” Word. Now, don’t get me wrong: There are some times when oversharing might be appropriate. In …

gossip tuenight margit detweiler

Margit’s Note: Whisper Down the Lane

Ah those juicy tidbits said in whispers, protected by a cupped hand — that are very rarely charitable. Honey, if you don’t have something nice to say… come sit next to me. We all gossip. Because it’s delicious, it’s naughty, it’s informative, it’s sometimes quite hurtful. A unique brand of storytelling, gossip doesn’t require us to know any more than the story that’s being told. Embellishments welcome. Is it always bad? Is gossip fundamental to being human? I don’t know, but did you hear the one about the historic blizzard that was supposed to shut down New York City? Gossip isn’t always accurate. (Ok that was more hyperbole than gossip.) And while we assume “the hens in the yard” are the chief chattering culprits, a few studies have suggested men are more likely to gossip. So there. Here’s this week’s hearsay: Former InTouch news editor Jo Piazza explains why celebrity gossip isn’t always bad. Helen Jane Hearn offers tips to avoid gossip altogether. Lauren Oster tells us why she can’t stand the sight of that Bruce Jenner cover. …

An Outsider on the Inside (Sometimes)

My first swear word was “shit.” I used it in a very specific and, I might add, sophisticated way. I was three years old, sitting in the back seat of a car. My grandmother and another adult were in the front. They were talking about my mom, clearly assuming that a toddler wouldn’t understand. Much to their shock and amusement, I cut off their gossiping with: “Don’t be talking about my momma! Sheeee-it.” Yes, reportedly I delivered it with that precise, very adult, multi-syllabic and sassy intonation: “Sheeee-it.” It was my first time witnessing a conversation that upset my sense of loyalty. It wasn’t my last. As a Mash-Up, I often get an up-close view of bigotry, because people don’t know their bigotry applies to the person standing right next to them — me. [pullquote]People can be completely reprehensible in their attitude towards “others” when they think no one outside the fold is listening.[/pullquote] I’m not alone. My mixed friends have heard their own family members say racially or ethnically derogatory things in front of …

The New Pop, Pop, Pop Music (And Why I Don’t Like It)

I’m so out of it. Even when I think I’m kind of into it, I’m so out of it. And I can’t believe I’ve become this person. Thumbing through the December 15 year-end wrap up edition of New York magazine, I flipped my way to “The 10 Best Pop Albums of The Year” and got excited by the list of names I didn’t know. A few, I did: Lana Del Rey, St. Vincent, Aphex Twin (Aphex Twin? Hello 1990) and Perfume Genius, whose sinister and sinewy “Queen” popped up on Pandora. No Swift, no Mars in the top 10 (they did make the longer online list), this was a more high-minded, artful interpretation of pop by critic Lindsay Zoladz. Fair enough. I decided to sample some of it on Spotify: Frankie Cosmos, Run the Jewels, Angel Olsen, Todd Terje, Jesse Ware and Perfect Pussy. [pullquote]We’re in a new zone, led by a generation waiting for the bass to drop as they dance themselves into a pleasant, sudsy lather.[/pullquote] Oof. Look, I’ve been out of the …

TueNight Labels Kathleen Warner

When Being “The Good One” Isn’t So Great

The good one. The smart one. The athlete. The artist. The drama queen. The baby. The rebel. The sensitive one. The brat. The loudmouth. The playwright. Being the eldest of five children, with only eight years between me and my youngest brother, my beleaguered and exhausted parents often used shortcuts to keep us all straight. As the “good” and “smart” one, I had it easy, at least for a while. I was diligent and studious, I got good grades and my teachers sang my praises. What could be bad about that? Seemingly nothing, when operating in the outside world of teachers, other adults and the like. [pullquote]The hardest part was to re-write the narrative of who I was based on what I had internalized from other people’s expectations. [/pullquote] But within my family, my sibling relationships suffered, particularly with my brothers. I was only one year apart from one of my brothers and, as little kids, we were inseparable. He was creative and smart, played soccer and the guitar, and had a broad and sophisticated …

TueNight Labels Wendy Goldman Scherer

I’m Sensitive about Labels. And Not The Kind You Think

I’m a sensitive person. Well, at least that’s what my mom always said. As a kid, I’d cry at the drop of a hat. And in college. And maybe even for a while longer than that. Though I’ve toughened up a bit, I still tear up at some of the oddest things, and admittedly, not that infrequently. I feel a lot. If I even think I might have hurt someone’s feelings, I get physically ill and find it nearly impossible to shake off. I am not saying this to impress you; it’s a horrific handicap. I just can’t help it. And when someone raises a voice to me – even if it’s not directed at me – I fall to pieces. It’s genetic. My mom is super sensitive, too. I remember watching her when I was little. If anyone had a harsh word, the tears would well up in her eyes. On the (very few) times that my father got angry and raised his voice, she and I both would shrink into ourselves. I truly …

TueNight Amy Barr Labels

Retiring the “R” Word

Once upon a time in a mid-sized accounting firm in suburban New Jersey, a teenage girl sat in a windowless conference room performing a mind-numbing task. This task entailed removing outdated pages from a massive set of tax code binders (about 40 volumes, each weighing five pounds) and replacing those pages with updated versions. The sheets were tissue-thin, impossible to separate without tearing and capable of inflicting the wickedest of paper cuts. That was my first paying job and the first time I could officially be labeled a “working person.” Now, nearly four decades and a few career changes later, a new label might better describe my status as a working person: Retired. [pullquote]If I’m not between projects and I’m not retired, what am I? [/pullquote] Ugh. I don’t like that word and I’m not the only one I know struggling with it. Several contemporaries have recently bid goodbye to long-term careers on their way to the unknown next chapter in their working life. They seem as confused as I am as to how to …

Margit’s Note: Get Your Label Off My Table

It’s hard to imagine a life without labels; it’s human nature’s lazy way to put our beautiful, complex and messy lives into a tidy box. Nerd, jock, punk, artsy, flirt, oldest, youngest, black, white, weirdo, asshole… Hey, “I’ve been called worse things by better people.” When we’re short on time, when our reflexes kick in, labels help us write our fables. But what happens when you know the backstory? When you know how the wicked witch became so wicked? Your label is no longer enough to tell a really juicy story. Whether we’re talking about the stereotyped kind or that little Polo character on your chest that represents a life of mint juleps and charity balls (it wishes), we’re looking at monikers and monograms this week. The ones we’re okay with and the ones you’d better not say unless you want a sock in the jaw. This week: Nancy Gonzalez won’t apologize for being a “soccer mom.” Amy Barr wonders if she’s “retired.” Sharda Sehkaran juggles dual ethnicities as an “inside outsider.” Wendy Goldman Scherer attacks her …

Letters from parents TueNight

Family Archivist: Why I’m the Only One Who Still Writes Letters

I come from one of those annoyingly functional intact families that make it hard for me to sell my memoir to publishers. Of course, the rosy vision I have of my family relations is helped by the fact that I live, by choice, three thousand miles away from them in the Bay Area, and have for 20 years. It’s easier to idolize my parents and siblings (and vice versa) when we’re not rubbing right up against each other every day. Even if the cross-country move was entirely my doing, once I became a parent the fact that I was the outer moon to their cozy hometown Family Planet became harder to bear. When Mom and Dad wanted to see my brother’s and sister’s kids perform in a school music showcase or volleyball game, it required a drive that ranged from five to thirty-five minutes (depending on the snow). To see my kids perform, it requires advanced airline reservations, a transfer in Chicago, and three days for them to get over jet lag. Seeing Grandma and …

Letters TueNight Margit Detweiler

People Used to Write Letters! And I Have a Box to Prove It

I have a green box. It is filled with dusty old letters, organized by names and folders. Ex beaus. Lost friends. Professors who kept in touch with me after college. Grandparents. I haven’t looked at this box in probably 20 years. I mean, I’ve seen it sitting way back in my closet, every time I shuffle shoes around. I’ve used it as a sticker repository it over the years (Black Flag! AOL! Obama! Biden ’08!). And it remains. I know it’s there. But I never open it. Too much old emotional artifact bound to swallow hours of my life. Who has time? For some reason, this year, I went excavating. I dared to have a peek. Inspired, perhaps, by my parents who have been downsizing and doling out old letters, photos, diaries, books, and matchbook collections to us kids. While going through that old stuff you unearth buried treasures, and, of course, a few rusty nails. [pullquote]I’d imagine my own shoeboxes of unorganized, dog-eared letters disintegrating, and that over a century their context could be …

Letters TueNight Amy Barr

Note Never Sent: To the Mother Whose Son Assaulted Mine

On a rainy Friday night not so long ago, my son Nick was assaulted by a fellow student in a bar near the college they both attended. They were strangers at the time. It seems that in a drunken state, the young man mistook Nick for someone else, someone who triggered an outburst of violence. The incident lasted about three seconds. No words were exchanged and only one punch was thrown, but it was enough to put my son in the hospital with a concussion and a broken eye socket. That weekend was awful. Nick looked terrible and felt worse. But just as disturbing as the worry and pain associated with the assault were the events that followed, which sent our family reeling. We were profoundly disappointed by the school’s disciplinary process, which let the assailant off the hook and left Nick feeling victimized all over again. It also taught us some harsh lessons about justice. As for me, I went from feeling anxious to being outraged, not only at the University but also at …

Help! I’ve Forgotten How to Say Thank You Without a Computer

Welcome to of our advice column where we try to answer all of your confounding “What The…?” questions. We’ll be getting advice from experts, but we may not always have the best answer. Feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. [dropcap]Q: [/dropcap] I send so many emails, I’ve lost all ability to create a hand-written thank you note — and I forget the protocol. Can you give me the modern manners on the thank you note so I can properly thank Aunt Louise for the gravy boat she gave me last Thanksgiving? Signed, Thankless in Iowa City [dropcap]A:[/dropcap] Ah, the thank you note. It’s either a charming throwback to a lost era of civility, or a guilt-inducing chore that has outlived its usefulness. But whether you love them or hate them, sooner or later you will have to write them. From birthday gifts to job interviews, there is a range of occasions for which thank you notes are appropriate. But while the reasons for writing them may vary, the guidelines for writing …

TueNight letter Jennifer Bensko Ha

A Friendship Kept Alive Through Letters

The first time I saw Jim, I immediately noticed his height. He was so tall that his head cleared the dark, dusty cabinets in the Schermerhorn building. Bright blue eyes, and long limbs, he had been an elite fencer and he moved quickly and energetically. We were both in a beginning Finnish class at Columbia in the mid ’80s. It was a morning class, and the five of us in it would wait outside with our to-go coffees and make small talk. After class, Jim and I walked to our dorms together, becoming friends slowly, but I really got to know him when he began writing me notes. He’d leave them under my door, or send them through campus mail. “Do you want to study later? Go for a walk? Get coffee?” Back then, there really was no other way to reach someone other than by phone or by note. No Internet, no cell phones, no email, no social media. Telephones were wall mounted in hallways, so privacy was limited. Sometimes I’d miss him, sometimes not, but we’d see …

Margit’s Note: Dear So-and-So

Dear You, Have we officially tossed “Dear” out the window? Nope. The last email I received that began with “Dear Margit” was today at 6:05am in my spam folder from “Swimsuits for All.” “Dear” has become a false sense of personalization and almost always a sales-y plea of some sort whether political, philanthropic or you’re missing out on some amazing swimsuit deal. Dear is no longer the necessary way to start a missive. Our abbreviated, abrupt electronic-mails are a far cry from the days of three-paged, ball-point stained beauties. They are their own form of communication. As tech reporter Farhad Manjoo once noted, “An email is both a letter and an instant message.” But not all of us have given up the hard copies. This week we explore letters in all their lick-and-stamp glory: Nancy Davis Kho is the only person in her family to write them. Amy Barr stopped herself from sending one. Jennifer Ha has kept a friendship alive through them. Kate Premo teaches how to write a proper thank-you. And I unearth a 25-year …

The TueDo List: New Year, Little Changes

We’re kicking off the year with an eye toward change — just one small thing, for 30 days, and yes, weekends count. You can go for it over the weekend and be super active in your fitness routine, relationship, or whatever other kinds of goals you’ve set, or kick back and make plans to kick butt come Monday. Whatever you decide, here are some ideas for your first weekend of 2015. Read It’s one of my 2015 plans to read more, and I’ll be participating in TueNight’s 30-day challenge by reading at least a book a week. I got some Amazon cash for Christmas, so I think I’m going to get an e-reader. The Kindle was chosen for me, but do I want a Voyage? Or a Paperwhite? I can’t decide. But I’ve held out with just paper for a long time, and since I’m so connected for work and for regular life, if I want to read more (and I do!), I think I have to put books in front of myself in as many forms as possible. Even if I never, ever give up the …