topamax 75

March, 2012

  1. Graffiti Nostalgia

    March 19, 2012 by Carley



    First of all, I think I should start out by saying that I had big dreams for this particular post.  During my first trip to New York City, when I was 18, I stayed with a guy who was living near Thompkins Square Park, I went to a Butthole Surfers concert, and I walked around marveling at what was on the street–the variety of people, that much noise, so much talk, and tons of graffiti.  I had never really experienced street culture before, and I was smitten.  Graffiti, in New York, is territorial, and I get that I’ll never understand the tags and what they mean.  A lot of graffiti is now totally corporate, selling something I can’t even figure out.  But even more of it is just beautiful or weird or messy in a way that I love because it clashes with all of the new condos going up in so many neighborhoods.

    I wanted to get some of the beauty and mess down for you in this post, but I learned a thing or two in my hunt to capture some of my favorite New York graffiti.  First off, it’s way more temporary than I thought.  I mean, I know most graffiti is not here to stay, but some stuff gets painted over in less than a day.  Often, when I went back to some little spot with my camera, it was gone.  I’m still sad about missing that beautiful orange jellyfish on the black door of a building on Great Jones.  I can hear my friend PG Kain yelling at me right now, “Would you just get an I Phone already!?”  All, I can say, is, someday, I promise I will, but for now, I’m old school.  I have a regular camera, which I often don’t have on my person, and a totally crappy phone.  Second, most graffiti, upon closer examination is not as cool as I remembered it to be.  That might be because I’m not around the really prime stuff (I think this is VERY likely), but it’s also because the medium is ephemeral, done with great speed, and not meant for lingering.

    A couple of things I will not entertain in this post:
    1.  Banksy.  He’s cool and all, but a tad overexposed, don’t you think?  Also, I’ve read a lot of essays from my students about Bansky and while many of these essays were illuminating, I’m maxed out.  The rat in Soho is cool.  Obey, totally.  But let’s move on.
    2.  Questions like: Is graffiti art?  I dislike all manner of “Is it Art?” questions.  People who ask this question remind me of Andy Rooney.  Not good.  It’s not a useful, interesting, or productive question.  The answer is always, Sure!  Maybe!  Depends on whose asking!  Why not?  I’d rather ask, “Does it make me think?  Can I stare at it?  Is it in a gallery/musuem?  Great!  Someone else decided it’s art so I don’t have to… Is it weird, challenging, beautiful, boring enough to piss me off, does it implicate me?  Ask me to do something?  Cause me to participate in some way?  Does it make me sick, queasy?  Does it turn me on?”

    I am also very partial to scratchiti, but my hunt for it proved even harder than my quest for graffiti (thanks to Madeleine and Alex for sharing their scratchiti with me!).  I love the random, terrible, sometimes sexist, often pleasingly feminist things I find on bathroom walls.  Please send me you favorite scratchiti and I will put it up!

    I dedicate this post to the Mars Bar, which recently closed after countless years of serving drunks, underage kids, and pretty much anyone who walked in the door.  I remember it as a landscape of scratchiti, a palimpsest of bad, good, crazy writing, a bar that became a notebook.  I walk by the site most mornings on my way to teach, and it’s now totally demolished.  It feels like a great loss to me, a final shifting away from the East Village I first saw when I was 18.

    Now on to my photo gallery of graffiti.  This is not exhaustive and it mostly follows my random walking paths which tend to place me around NYU (where I teach), in Windsor Terrace (where I live), and in Williamsburg (where I go out).

  2. Because There’s Always More to Say About Stalking

    March 4, 2012 by Carley

    My hilarious friend, Stephanie Hopkins, has a new on-line column called “Love Notes,” and last week she wrote my all-time favorite post about Facebook stalking.  You all know that anything involving stalking is of interest to me, but Stephanie really gets it all down in this one—the search, the shame, the discovery, the nausea, the joy!

    Anyway, Stephanie’s column inspired me to write about some of the kinds of stalking that didn’t make it into my first book The Stalker Chronicles.  Think of it as a handy (or scary) taxonomy.  Stephanie, this post is dedicated to you.

    Before I get to that though, it strikes me that being a teenager in the 80s left me with three stalker images:  Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (the Lady Stalker), John Cusack in Say Anything (the Romantic Boy Stalker), and Mark David Chapman (the Criminal Stalker).  So basically if someone says the word “stalker” I think of one of these people.  Who do you think of?

    1.  Dog Walking Stalking – For several years in my late twenties, I was lucky enough to live with the super agent, John Buzzetti (this was long before he was a super agent and just my friend).  Anyway, Johnny had a dog, Foxxy, and we (Foxxy and I) spent a lot of time walking around Williamsburg, pretending to bump into cute guys by total accident.  Oh my god, you live here?  My dog is obsessed with this fire hydrant.

    2.  Shopping and Stalking – This happens when you pretend to be addicted to a certain kind of coffee, undershirt, avant-garde poetry section just so that you can ogle, chat up, and otherwise annoy some underpaid clerk in a store.  This is highly effective method of stalking because unless they quit their job, these poor suckers can’t get away.  My husband reminded me of this one.  Hey, wait a minute.

    3.  The Swoon (aka I’m so tired, injured, confused, and/or sad I can’t leave your apartment, bed, arms, car).  I suppose the Bronte sisters came up with this one, but in truth I was doing this long before I knew who Jane Eyre was, what that meany did to her in the red room, and the clarifying powers of a brisk walk on the heath.  I think I first learned its true powers when I was at Environmental Camp in the summer between the 10th and 11th grade and I had a HUGE obsessive crush on one of our counselors, Mike.  We all did and he was pretty much all we talked about while pretending to be interested global warming (hey, it was 1987, global warming wasn’t THAT scary yet) and the healing powers of gorp and tiger balm.  But on the last night, I (mistress of grace that I am) managed to trip on a log during a skit about eagles and mice and break my arm.  I was in a lot of pain, and I somehow decided that I couldn’t walk even though it was arm that was broken not my leg, and this got Mike to CARRY ME back to the infirmary!!!  I will never forget the jealous stares of my fellow bunkmates as Mike whisked me away.  I was giddy from his touch.  I thought, “Hey this isn’t too bad.  My arms may be busted in five places, but Mike is carrying me!”  You see how my brain works?  Priorities, friends, that’s what it’s always been about with me.

    Warning:  there are dangers associated with this one, perhaps more than all the others.  You have to count on chivalry and I hear that’s dead.  You will be told by certain crushes in no-uncertain terms to Pick up your shit and hit the bricks.  I have been asked to leave apartments, houses, and various porches.  I have swooned and not been caught.  There’s also the injuries—how much pain can you take?  I was willing to break my own arm to get Mike to carry me, but maybe you’re not that dedicated. You will have to know your limits before you begin.  Finally, there’s trust.  I have tended not to swoon around frat houses, beer pong games, wrestling matches, and football stadiums.  Because the energy is not right in those places.  There’s way too much testosterone there and we don’t want things to get scary.  Besides my experiences with football players in high school showed me that they’d much rather trample me than catch me.

    4.  Smell Stalking (aka The Sneaky Sniff) – I know this will gross out many of you, and well, I’m sorry, but I’m an ethnographer here and my job is to report my findings not to judge them.  I have talked about this with a couple of ladies and many gay men and we have all copped to various attempts (most successful) to smell the clothing—shirt, jacket, underwear, socks, and pants—of crushes when given the opportunity.  For example, my lady friend’s crush decides she has to pee; so my friend sniffs the butt of her jeans while she’s in the bathroom.  Here’s another:  My friend’s therapist leaves the room to check on something, so my friend takes that free, supposedly reflective moment to sniff at the armpits of his jacket which is hanging on the back of the door.  She is not unrewarded.  She relays to me,  I smelled him!  He smelled good!  And then I thought, Oh my god, he’s coming back into the room and I’m going to get caught and we will have to talk about this forever!!  Transference is complicated people, and so are “friends.”

    5.  Creeping – My students use this word.  I confess I don’t know what it means.  I think it’s a subtle form of stalking, but I also think why bother?  Lurking around, not saying much, acting weird?  To me, that’s just living or maybe it’s being shy.  Also, don’t they have meds nowadays to kill shyness?  Maybe if I use it in a sentence, it will make more sense.  Oh my god, she’s such a creeper.  She’s just always standing there in the lobby of our dorm, staring at us, not saying anything.

    6.  Subway Eyes – This one is for experienced New Yorkers only.  You look, you look away, you look, you look away.  Don’t look for too long and don’t smile.  You don’t want to look like some wide-eyed, happy tourist from the Midwest.  You’re a busy person.  You’re on your way to something unfathomably cool, which definitely does not involve a preschool, a lunch box, or drafts of student essays.  You look, you look away, you look, you look away.