Archive | Past Matters

The Fast Company of Eve Babitz

There were many West Coast It Girls of the 60s and 70s, but Eve Babitz may have been the West Coast It Girl, at least among people in the know. Born in 1943 to a Jewish studio violinist and a gentile Texan rose, she counted Igor Stravinsky as her godfather and Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, and Bertrand Russell among her family friends. In the 1960s, she became a “groupie-adventuress” who designed album covers for Linda Ronstadt and Buffalo Springfield, and counted everyone from Frank Zappa to Salvador Dali among her friends, and Steve Martin, Jim Morrison, Harrison Ford, and both Ruscha brothers (photographer Paul and painter Ed) among her lovers. She also was the nude girl in the famous photograph of Marcel DuChamp playing chess.

But none of these biographical details are as compelling as Eve’s prose. In essay collections and autobiographical novels, she rhapsodized about booze, beauty, jacarandas, and, above all else, her native stomping grounds of Southern California. Whether describing a stunning angle of sunlight, the many sorts of SoCal winds, or a perfect crate of Chavez-approved grapes, she wrote with such extravagant style that you found yourself falling in love with Los Angeles even if you’d always considered it a cultural wasteland. Continue Reading →

The Language of Beauty

The other day I realized that it’d been more than a year since I dyed my hair. Though I don’t hate how the natural color complements my complexion, I’m going to streak the grey with a Kim Novack blond the minute I land a new commentating gig. (Notice I say when, not if; a positive step.) The whole business makes me think of my mom, Mary who renamed herself Sari. For decades, no matter how cross we were with each other, whenever my roots got too dark, she’d look at me contemplatively and say, “Maybe we should brighten your hair up.” And we would. Continue Reading →

(Stop) Policing the Black Man

Anyone who has read Freud knows that past is present when it comes to the traumas of our ancestors, especially when we do not consciously heal our family lines. This is also true of nations, which is why so many international wars stem from centuries-old conflicts. It is also why every person living in the United States, regardless of their race, religion, or where their ancestors lived 150 years ago, is impacted by slavery – its unmerited entitlements for whites; its dehumanizing exploitation and abuse of blacks. Nowhere is this legacy more evident than in the grave mistreatment of people of color – especially black males – in the U.S. criminal justice system. Policing the Black Man, an essay collection edited by activist and academic Angela Davis, lays out how African American men have remained endangered by our law enforcement system since “Juneteenth” – June 19, 1865 – when the slaves in the former Confederacy of the southern United States were officially emancipated. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy