This was supposed to be a post about Bad Winter, a most wonderful time of the year, but I got waylaid. First, the weather withheld its end of the bargain, maintaining a balmy 30s and 40s as we crossed into the new year, making it difficult to sink into the feeling. It didn’t help that I avoided as best I could the usual December hysteria, opting for a few measured doses of holiday cheer and pouring into bed (still finely drunk) within an hour of the newly born 2023; no regrets there, but no high to come down from either. And then I violated key tenets of Bad Winter—shadows and relative solitude—by weekending away from it just as the weather began to chill in earnest, sunning (among other indulgences) in a warmer climate down South.
So here I am attempting to reactivate the Bad, which is actually good, and if there’s a need to know what I mean, get thee to Katie McDonough’s christening of the name in Jezebel from 2019 and Jo Livingstone’s rebuttal published days later on the same site. The rebuttal is where the good comes in:
Consider winter differently. If the holidays are an annual event designed to glue the shredded remnants of the American nuclear family together through sheer force of convention, then of course you have to be bribed to participate in them. But after the holidays? Then, you can be alone.
During so-called “bad winter” you can spend as much time in total solitude as you like, and it is still the “correct” behavior for the season. What this means in practice is that the months of January through March are the only time of year you can be both misanthropic and live free from guilt. With the year’s greatest obligations to others behind you, the cold indoor months are a time to separate from society, to turn inwards, and to act selfishly.
…In solitude art is made, books are read, books are written, knitting is knit.Livingstone, “Bad Winter is Good”
reading: will save books ‘til the month ends; in the meantime,
- “In Search of the New York Happy Meal” by E. Alex Jung (Grub Street); Alex and gastronomy is a sublime pairing I didn’t know I needed.
- “The Critic in Time of War” by Margo Jefferson (New York Times); my students read an interview with Tobi Haslett in The Point, whose mention of this piece inspired my visit.
- “‘Babylon’ Is a Lame Hollywood Orgy of Sex, Drugs, and Margot Robbie” by K. Austin Collins (Rolling Stone); reviews of this film, mostly in agreement about its weaknesses, if delightfully diverse in expressing such, counterintuitively motivated me to go see it (they were right; go figure!)
- “Why Coverage Of Dana White Slapping His Wife Has Been So Disastrous“ by Patrick Redford (Defector); disappointed, but not surprised, but refusing to be jaded.
- “‘The Luckiest Bitch in NYC’”: Jeremy O. Harris and Zak Stone on Jen Shah’s Sentence” (Interview); I’ll admit to Housewives fatigue, especially regarding SLC, which needs to be put on ice like yesterday—and what an occasion to do so—but it can still be fun in doses like these.
- “An Evening With Parapraxis, a New Magazine for the New Freud Crowd” by Lila Shapiro (Vulture); psychoanalysis… is… back…?
- “Review: Lamb (2021) and Trad (ongoing)” by Ayesha Siddiqi; I don’t have time to stan Ayesha fully just right here but I am firstly glad that Lamb has not been forgotten and to read a thorough rumination on its themes.
- “William Eggleston’s Atmospheric Disturbances” by Jerry Saltz (Vulture); I adore criticism that reminds me that I don’t know anything about something: in this case photography.
- “Notes on ‘Political Capitalism’” by John Ganz (Unpopular Front); ditto, but with capitalism and Marxist theory.
teaching: Greg Tate, “Cult-Nats Meet Freaky-Deke” (1986); Hortense Spillers, “‘All the Things You Could Be by Now, If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother’: Psychoanalysis and Race” (1996)
watching: creed; charlie’s angels (2000); the last of us s1e2-ish; top chef s15e1-3
moving: been nearly a week since I hit pavement, just saved by a pious saturday morning workout along to lagoon (brag!); lot of spinning… or, who am I impressing, logging sessions on the peloton, which for some reason never feels like real fitness no matter how hard I’m working or how many call outs I’m missing (not for lack of trying). So, hoping to get back outside soon.
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