Archive | Style Matters

Rest in Pleasure, Eve Babitz: 1943-2021

Just found out essayist Eve Babitz died yesterday. Her singular, obstinate sensuality formed me like no other. I’m beyond bereft.

To people in the know, Eve Babitz was the West Coast It Girl of the 1960s and ’70s. Born in May 1943, she marshaled Taurus’ practical magic from the start: Igor Stravinsky was her godfather and Greta Garbo, Bertrand Russell, and Charlie Chaplin, her family friends. A self-proclaimed “groupie-adventuress,” she designed album covers for Linda Ronstadt, the Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield, befriended everyone from Frank Zappa to Salvador Dali, and counted Steve Martin, Jim Morrison, Harrison Ford, and Annie Lebowitz among her many lovers. She was the nude girl in that famous photograph of Marcel DuChamp playing chess, and an extra in Godfather II because, well–why not? But it was as a writer that she shined brightest.

Babitz was living proof that muses could be the sharpest tacks in the room. Her writing was so lush and lean that she made us believe lush and lean were not mutually exclusive. Only Eve could inspire you to buy seven caftans and all the ingredients of a tequila sunrise after reading 10 pages of her book. The cocaine and caviar were optional.

I first discovered Babitz at age 9. Prowling a yard sale, I found a dog-eared copy of her Slow Days Fast Company, and devoured it without grasping a quarter of the references. (Poppers? Ménage à trois? It all sounded delicious.) Her well-read, half-bred, doggedly unwed perceptions imprinted on me, though. Like me, she had a gorgeous shiksa mother and a brainy Jewish dad and like me she rejected “niceness” on the grounds that it precluded too much pleasure and too many good points.

She was my kind of Eve.

Babitz’s languid self-enchantment and self-reckoning taught me to value my own delight. It’s not that she didn’t value beauty–she worshipped it–but she had no patience for arranging herself to satisfy another’s gaze. In recent years, she’d become more of a recluse but her stubborn magic continued to find self-proclaimed goddaughters like myself. Girls who didn’t want to be chicks so much as broads, girls who wanted to befriend the people they bedded, not wed them. Her words will forever evoke a paradise found, and her faith in authentic pleasure will endure as a treasure map to our own.

Please yourself today in the name of Lady Eve.

Red Is the Color of My Bloody, Bloody Heart

The last time I had sex, I lost my red glasses though I didn’t know it at the time. If I did, I doubt I would have lingered too long on the symbolism. It would have been too bald, too easy to pluck.

What aren’t you seeing? Everything you don’t want to see.

I did not realize the glasses were missing until three days after the sexual interlude. I rotate through many pairs depending on how I want to look as I look upon the world.

On the day I lost this pair, I was wearing all red. Not the dark, dried-blood shade that feels like a waste of a good thing, but the orange-inflected tomato that enlivens the Sioux and Semitic strains of my DNA. The red that makes my hair and skin glow.

I wear it when I wish to activate myself and everyone around me.

I have many, many tubes of lipstick in this color. I wear it even when I am wearing a mask. This red exudes a power not merely visual. An energy frequency that’s maybe even a microwave ray. Havana Syndrome: the lipstick edition. Continue Reading →

50 Is the Body Electric (Space Crone Jams)

Ready for the thing no one ever says? I like my body better at 50 than I did at 20. It’s not perfect now but it wasn’t perfect then. In general bodies aren’t perfect. Bodies are encasements, temples, tactics. Precious and purposeful. Us. At 20 I was sick, scared, anxious, angry–anorectic, with the colon and joints of a much older woman due to two decades of sustained and displaced trauma. Aka hysterical in the classic Freudian sense. (Fuck Freud, obviously.) I panicked over every extra calorie and drew what little self-esteem I had from being thinner than others–no one acknowledges what mean girls we anorexics can be. At 50 I am all curves and angles–fully inhabiting the Scottish-Sioux-Ashkenazi peasant body that is my birthright. Big hands, breasts, hips, belly, brain. Fierce look, limbs, will. Strong as a mother, o yes, and perfectly willing to flirt with whomever stares because at this point no one can topple me with their desire. I’m like a red oak that way (every way). Are my eyes going? For sure. Is my back worse? Doubly sure. But every day I feed this body beautiful useful things. I stretch it, walk it, water it, sun it, shower it. Lipstick it. Listen to it. Love it. In return it still holds me up and sometimes even lets me shine. At 50 I am old enough to be grateful for every day and every way I feel physically good–for every organ, muscle, inch that works well. For every ailment that heals. Even better, I have learned how to be grateful for change–even decay–because it means I’ve lived long enough for it to happen. At 50 you don’t look like anyone’s projection anymore, no one’s generic dream of a girl or a perfect lady. But you’re not really invisible. Instead, you look like the life you’ve led. What’s more beautiful than that?

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