Archive | City Matters

Cities of Lost Children

I’ve been thinking a lot about Nathan, my father’s father. I often do when pretty weather makes me regret my solitude.

Nathan was a survivor and he never let you forget it. He also didn’t like to think of himself that way.

He was born in Poland to a determined woman with a schnorrer of a husband. That Yiddish word isn’t in the kind of rotation that other ones are–schmuck, for one. But it should be because schnorrers are everywhere. They’re hustlers who aren’t very good at hustling, people (men mostly) who drain your resources without profiting from them. They’re what my grandmother Basha, my grandfather’s wife, called losahs without their mezuzahs.

She was a pissah, that one. Mean and judgmental and super clever.

Anyway when my grandfather was alive we didn’t exactly get on because he was funny about women, especially big blondes. When his mother arrived in America with him and his little sister, his father already had found himself a better-off wife and here was my great-grandmother not speaking English and not having anywhere to live or money in her pocket. But with two small children in tow she wasn’t about to fall on her face, not while she was still young and had some spring in her step. So she started going by Mary Banks and turning tricks and well–

My grandfather didn’t really understand shall-we-say normal sexual boundaries.

Any sexual boundaries. Continue Reading →

The Black and Blue Swans of Spring

Lately every time I want to write you I find myself writing my book instead. I need to finish it eventually, and why not now? is my basic thinking, and it’s solid, you can’t deny that. Especially since I feel like everyone and their sister is now involved in this process–that is, ever since I revealed my broke and broken underbelly and almost all of you were awfully nice about it.

Time is money, don’t you know. And more than that: money is time. Meaning when I have free time it doesn’t feel free at all. Now I really feel that I should be working.

When it was raining all the time and we New Yorkers felt like we were on some sort of dystopian Noah’s Ark–which, I’m sorry, the jury’s not out yet on whether we aren’t–it was easy to just keep working and working. But now that spring is actually behaving like spring again, I have to devise all sorts of tricks to keep myself on the straight and narrow.

Not that my book is especially narrow. Or straight. Continue Reading →

Interstellar Eve Babitz

Eve in her 50s.

Happy Eve Babitz Day! As a Gen Xer forced to spend hundreds of dollars I didn’t have in the 90s to track down Eve Babitz’s out-of-print books, there’s a part of me that’s irritated the millennial girls think they’ve discovered the brilliant writer, groupie-adventuress, and auto-muse. Just a tiny part, though, because everyone should have an Eve who gives Lilith a run for her money. Every female-identified person in particular should have a star-fucking, bridge-burning, convention-flouting, binary-busting, sexy and smart, lush and arch, totally mean and totally kind, self-identified-spinster role model like Evie. So I’m glad she is finally back in print and translated into billions of tongues. (She always was good with tongues.) Continue Reading →

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