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27 May 11:47

Franz Kafka’s Kafkaesque Love Letters

by Josh Jones


It’s easy to think of Franz Kafka as a celibate, even asexual, writer. There is the notable lack of eroticism of any recognizable sort in so much of his work. There is the prominent biographical detail—integral to so many interpretations—of his outsized fear of his father, which serves to infantilize him in a way. There is the image, writes Spiked, of “a lonely seer too saintly for this rank, sunken world.” All of this, James Hawes writes in his Excavating Kafka, “is pure spin.” Against such idolatry, both literary and quasi-religious, Hawes describes “the real Kafka,” including the fact that he was “far from an infrequent visitor to Prague’s brothels.” Though “tortured”—as his friend, biographer, and executor Max Brod put it—by guilt over his sexuality, Kafka nonetheless did not deny himself the frequent company of prostitutes and a collection of outré pornography.

But a part of the myth, Kafka’s extreme diffidence in romantic relationships with two women in his life—onetime fiancé Felice Bauer and Czech journalist Milena Jesenská—is not far off the mark. These relationships were indeed “tortured,” with Kafka “demanding commitment while doing his best to evade it.” His courtship with Felice was conducted almost entirely through letters, and his personal correspondence to both women, published in separate volumes by Schocken Books, “has all the earmarks of his fiction: the same nervous attention to minute particulars; the same paranoid awareness of shifting balances of power; the same atmosphere of emotional suffocation—combined, surprisingly enough, with moments of boyish ardor and delight.” So writes the New York TimesMichiko Kakutani in her review of Letters to Felice in 1988.

A March 25, 1914 letter to Felice exemplifies these qualities, including Kafka’s tendency to “berate” his fiancé and to “backpedal” from the serious possibility of marriage. In answer to her seemingly unasked question of whether Bauer might find in him “the vital support you undoubtedly need,” Kafka writes,” there is nothing straightforward I can say to that”:

The exact information you want about me, dearest F., I cannot give you ; I can give it you, if at all, only when running along behind you in the Tiergarten, you always on the point of vanishing altogether, and I on the point of prostrating myself; only when thus humiliated, more deeply than any dog, am I able to do it. When you post that question now I can only say: I love you, F., to the limits of my strength, in this respect you can trust me entirely. But for the rest, F., I do not know myself completely. Surprises and disappointments about myself follow each other in endless succession.

The frustrated mystery, self-abasement, vague and fearful hints, and reference to dogs are all elements of the so oft-invoked Kafkaesque, though the frank proclamation of love is not. Not long after his 1917 diagnosis of tuberculosis, Kafka would break off the engagement. In 1920, he began his—also heavily scripted—affair with Jesenská, his side of which appears in the collected Letters to Milena. In these missives, the same set of personal and literary impulses alternate: tender expressions of devotion give way to dark and cryptic statements like “written kisses… are drunk on the way by the ghosts” and “I have spent all my life resisting the desire to end it.” One letter seems to have nothing at all to do with Milena and everything to do with Kafka’s project as a writer:

I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones. Basically it is nothing other than this fear we have so often talked about, but fear spread to everything, fear of the greatest as of the smallest, fear, paralyzing fear of pronouncing a word, although this fear may not only be fear but also a longing for something greater than all that is fearful.

Passages like these warrant the reduplication in Kakutani’s review title: “Kafka’s Kafkaesque Love Letters.” It is almost as if he used these letters as a testing ground for the tangled internal conflicts, doubts, and obsessions that would make their way into his fiction. Or that, in them, we see these Kafkaesque motifs distilled. It is during his engagement to Felice Bauer that Kafka produced “his most significant work, including The Metamorphoses,” and during his relationship with Milena Jesenská that my personal favorite, The Castle, took shape.

Although it has long been fashionable to resist the “biographical fallacy,” reading an author’s life into his or her work, the existence of hundreds of Kafka’s letters in publication makes this separation difficult. Elias Canetti described Kafka’s letters as a dialogue he was “conducting with himself,” one which “provide[s] an index of the emotional events that would inspire ‘The Trial’” and other works. Kafka’s unexpected bouts of romantic passion notwithstanding, these letters add a great deal of support to that critical assessment.

via Michiko Kakutani/New York Times

Related Content:

Vladimir Nabokov Makes Editorial Tweaks to Franz Kafka’s Novella The Metamorphosis

The Art of Franz Kafka: Drawings from 1907-1917

Four Franz Kafka Animations: Enjoy Creative Animated Shorts from Poland, Japan, Russia & Canada

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

28 May 22:44

Fear Kansas City Mystery Stonehenge

by Tony

kc street art

Local creativity or May sweeps letdown . . . Weird rock formations suddenly show up in Kansas City
28 May 21:07

Today’s Gender of the Day is: An empty blue picture frame...


because you don't get enough of it on tumblr

Today’s Gender of the Day is: An empty blue picture frame promoted by Tumblr

28 May 20:00

MOIROLOGIST[noun]a hired mourner.Etymology: from Greek moira,...



a hired mourner.

Etymology: from Greek moira, “fate, death” + logos, “word”.

[Stephen Mackey]

28 May 20:03

sixpenceee: 36-year-old Skeleton of Dead Baby Found Inside...


36-year-old Skeleton of Dead Baby Found Inside Indian Woman

Doctors in India have removed a baby’s skeleton from inside its mother, nearly four decades after the unborn infant died. Kantabai Thakre became pregnant in 1978, aged 24, but doctors warned the ectopic pregnancy had little chance of success.

Terrified of an operation, the young mother fled home and sought treatment for the pain in a small clinic near the village where she lived. After a few months the pain subsided and Mrs Thakre was convinced she had been cured.

However, last week the pains returned and Mrs Thakre, now 60, visited doctors in the central Indian city of Nagpur. Having found a lump on the lower right side of her abdomen, doctors at the NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences were concerned about cancer but an MRI scan revealed the hard mass was in fact the skeleton of her unborn child.

Doctors have now removed the skeleton. After searching medical records, the team of doctors believe this may be the longest ectopic pregnancy on record. (Source) 

28 May 19:47

constitutiveoutsider:It is a lie that women have been able to vote since 1920. White women have been...


It is a lie that women have been able to vote since 1920. 

White women have been able to vote since 1920. All Native American women couldn’t vote until 1924. All Asian women couldn’t vote until 1952. All Black women couldn’t vote until 1964.  

In five years there is probably going to be some big centennial celebration of women’s suffrage. But that will be a whitewashing of history. It will be an event that erases the struggles of non-white women. It will be an event that will try to hide the fact that white feminists heros like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton actively argued against the rights of people of color in order to advance their own goals. 

28 May 19:55


28 May 19:56

Hans Erni, Couple dancing with fruit in hair, 1952. Mixed...

Hans ErniCouple dancing with fruit in hair, 1952. Mixed media.

28 May 20:03


28 May 14:00

Meiji-era vision of Hell is not at all frightening, actually kind of cute

by Jessica


Depicting the horrors of hell through art is a tradition in Buddhism that goes back at least 1,000 years in Japan. By depicting the suffering in store for sinners, the artworks were supposed to scare people onto the straight and narrow.

But if that’s what this late 19th century scroll was for, it might have had the opposite effect. We’ve never seen such a cute hellscape!

This particular scroll is part of Waseda University’s collection and is a copy by an artist called Kanshou of an unknown earlier hell scroll. His style is simple and kind of spindly, making the humans and devils look cartoonish. The combination that doodling style and the sometimes nonsensical situations makes for a very cute package, in our opinion.

Check out these highlights.

▼The hell where you are only allowed to air swim, like this pug


▼ The hell where you can only communicate through interpretive dancebunko30_e0382_p0019

▼ The hell where you join pretend to be Totoro and join Cirque du Soleil bunko30_e0382_p0014

▼ The hell where you get weighed and a devil tells you you’re fatbunko30_e0382_p0004

▼The hell where a balding stranger invades your personal space and then you get poked with a stick bunko30_e0382_p0011

▼The hell where you have to play horsey with really ugly kids bunko30_e0382_p0013

▼The hell where you have to pretend to be a fan of kamishibai bunko30_e0382_p0017

▼The hell where you stick your head in a giant croissant bunko30_e0382_p0006

▼The hell where you are given unwanted spa treatments bunko30_e0382_p0015

▼The hell where you have to offer room service towels to a very grumpy guestbunko30_e0382_p0010

▼The hell where you get hot tea up your nose bunko30_e0382_p0009

Not exactly wailing and gnashing of teeth, right?

That last one did have an effect on me though. I could really go for a cup of tea now…

H/T Japaaan Magazine

Origin: Meiji-era vision of Hell is not at all frightening, actually kind of cute
Copyright© RocketNews24 / SOCIO CORPORATION. All rights reserved.

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28 May 15:27

Patti Smith’s Polaroids of Artifacts from Virginia Woolf, Arthur Rimbaud, Roberto Bolaño & More

by Colin Marshall


Polaroid photography has seen a new wave of interest over the past decade, in large part from young photographers looking to do something different from what they can with the digital technology on which they grew up. The other modern practitioners include no less a creator than Patti Smith, who have personally witnessed the format’s appearance, fade, and return. A few years ago, her Polaroid photography reached the galleries, becoming shows and installations in Connecticut and Paris.

These “black-and-white silver gelatin prints made from Polaroid negatives, small and square and in soft focus,” writes the New York Times’ A.O. Scott, “are culled from a collection that documents hundreds of encounters with worldly effects transformed into sacred relics. A fork and a spoon that belonged to Arthur Rimbaud, the French symbolist poet who has been one of Smith’s touchstones forever. [Robert] Mapplethorpe’s bedroom slippers and the tambourine he made for Smith. A chair that belonged to the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño. William S. Burroughs’s bandanna. A replica of a life mask cast from the features of William Blake.”

Virginia Woolf’s bed, writing desk, and gravestone

Smith’s “gorgeous, misty photographs are inspired by artifacts from some of Smith’s favorite artists, from museums she has visited around the world, and many are from her personal life,” writes Flavorwire‘s Emily Temple on “Camera Solo,” the Hartford exhibition which introduced these Polaroids to America in 2011. If you didn’t make it to the Wadsworth Atheneum for that show, you can still experience it through Patti Smith: Camera Solo, its companion book. Or have a look at her work on display at the BBC’s site, the gallery that offers the photos of Virginia Woolf’s bed, writing desk, and gravestone just above.


You can see even more at this post from Lens Culture on “Land 250,” the exhibition of Smith’s Polaroid photography at Paris’ Fondation Cartier.”I first took Polaroids in the early 1970s as components for collages,” it quotes Smith as saying. “In 1995, after the death of my husband, I was unable to center on the complex process of drawing, recording or writing a poem. The need for immediacy drew me again to the Polaroid. I chose a vintage Land 100.” In 2002, she settled on the Land 250, the venerable instant camera that gave the Paris show and its associated monograph their titles. It surely counts as one of the most important artifacts of Smith’s artistic life — and one with which she has captured the artifacts of so many other artistic lives important to her.

Related Content:

Watch Patti Smith Read from Virginia Woolf, and Hear the Only Surviving Recording of Woolf’s Voice

Patti Smith Reads Her Final Words to Robert Mapplethorpe

Patti Smith’s List of Favorite Books: From Rimbaud to Susan Sontag

Andy Warhol’s 85 Polaroid Portraits: Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, O.J. Simpson & Many Others (1970-1987)

The Masterful Polaroid Pictures Taken by Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky

Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

28 May 17:00

I Ordered Cat Hair Pills From A Mysterious Dealer in Bed-Stuy

by Liam Mathews

bezoar in a gel coating

I Ordered Cat Hair Pills From A Mysterious Dealer in Bed-Stuy

On Saturday, I saw a flyer taped to one of those green lamp post boxes outside of Scratch Bread in Bed-Stuy advertising “Cat Hair Pills.”

The poster’s body copy read:

“Cat hair pills available. Made from the finest hair of organic, free-range cats with only occasional antibiotic usage. Two cat choices available, please specify which cat you prefer.”

That was all there was by way of explanation. The poster raised a lot of questions for me, such as: Why would anyone want a capsule stuffed with cat hair? What does one do with a cat hair pill? Does it cost money? Is this a joke? Why am I having such a hard time understanding something as simple as “Cat Hair Pills?”

Photo: Cat Hair Pills

I tore off a slip of paper with a phone number and email address for ordering. On Monday morning, I emailed inquiring about the pills. A few hours later, I received a reply informing me that since I’m a member of the press, the cat hair dealer, who declined to identify him or herself, would provide me with a sample from both Cat A and Cat B. “Please reply with your preferred pick-up neighborhood and I will consult our distribution database for an ideal location,” the fuzzy pharmacist wrote.

I wrote back with my location. A little while after that, the fur-slinger wrote back with instructions on how to pick up my pills. I was to go to a cafe in Bed-Stuy and tell the barista I had lost my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cup. The cup would be green with “George W.” written on the lid in permanent marker. My samples would be inside. I was instructed not to discuss Cat Hair Pills with the staff of the cafe due to HIPAA regulations.


The retrieval of the pills went as planned. So I am now the owner of two large pills stuffed with cat hair. I asked the pharmacist what I should do with them, and he or she wrote back, “Tell your friends and family! God bless.” I tried a different angle, asking what’s my prescription. “Entirely up to you, fellow Cat Hair Pil-grim,” my new spiritual guide answered.

I don’t know what to do with them. My friends have suggested swallowing them, using them to assassinate an allergic enemy, feeding them to my own cat, or snorting the hair.

Choice  A and B

Photo: Cat Hair Pills

The creator won’t tell me why the pills exist or who he or she is. I asked “why are you doing this?” and he or she responded “I just knew there had to be a better way.” I suppose this is a situation where it’s better to just embrace the mystery. If you want cat hair pills of your own, email or call the Cat Hair Hotline at (724) 426-6691.

(Photo: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)

The post I Ordered Cat Hair Pills From A Mysterious Dealer in Bed-Stuy appeared first on ANIMAL.

27 May 05:00

The Polar Bear’s Lost Property

by Philippa Rice


27 May 16:30

Kylie Jenner Just Outed Herself as a ‘Chemtrail’ Truther

by majestic


I suspect that among disinfonauts there will be more people wondering who Kylie Jenner is than what a chemtrail might be, but here anyway is Fusion‘s explanation of chemtrails and the shocking news that one of the Karsdashian clan is into them: Even celebrities find time to get sucked into horrible Internet wormholes. At least that’s what seems to have happened to Kylie Jenner, who...

[This is a short summary; please click the story headline to read the full story on our site]
27 May 22:53

Queer/Non-Binary Business

I am on the hunt for any and all queer or non-binary businesses. Preferably clothing, but any that...
27 May 23:38

This Artist Experiences Sound As Colors And Paints What Music Looks Like


Melissa McCracken, a painter with synesthesia, explains what it’s like to see your favorite songs. [x]


“Karma Police”Radiohead


“Little Wing”Jimi Hendrix


“Gravity”John Mayer 


“Imagine”John Lennon


“Joy in Repetition” Prince


“Since I’ve Been Loving You” Led Zeppelin


“Life On Mars?”David Bowie


“Tonight, Tonight”The Smashing Pumpkins

27 May 16:01

Gawd the T-QueenBee is so fetch.

Gawd the T-QueenBee is so fetch.

26 May 21:56


26 May 07:01

Beats by Ray

by Dave Rappoccio


Ray McDonald had a job
On the bears a roster spot
But an arrest here and an arrest there
here arrest there arrest
everywhere an arrest
Ray McDonald lost his job
good riddance you piece of crap

Well then. So he was an asshole all along.

I didn’t touch the Ray McDonald situation when it first came up last year because I already had enough fodder for the NFL’s terrible policies and McDonald’s situation wasn’t very clear. Now it isn’t. Dude gets a zero guaranteed money contract with the Bears, was told to behave to retain a roster spot, and can’t even go a few months before he gets arrested for assault. On a woman holding a child, no less. What a prick. The Bears cut him within hours of the news dropping. I’d wager he’s done. It doesn’t even matter what Roger punishes him with (either a 6 game suspension or a ban) because McDonald isn’t sniffing the field again.

26 May 11:05

Out of the Frying Pan

by Dorothy


26 May 14:08

I Used An NYPD Firearms Training Simulator and Learned I Should Be A Cop

by Liam Mathews
I Used An NYPD Firearms Training Simulator and Learned I Should Be A Cop

Normally, community council meetings are intended to be opportunities for officers and civilians to meet face-to-face and discuss issues in the precinct, but on Wednesday May 20, the Lower East Side’s 7th Precinct hosted a special session, inviting the community to try out an NYPD firearms tactics training simulator. I was intrigued, because it seemed to be a rare opportunity for a civilian to see how the NYPD actually trains its officers in a time when the department’s firearms tactics are controversial. Going in, I didn’t know what to expect from the simulator: Would it be a mini-shooting range? Or a video game? If there were human-shaped targets, would I be allowed to put turbans on them?

The simulator is one part of firearms training that also includes actual time at the shooting range and in-person scenario role-playing. Basic firearms training for recruits is 13 days long, and some officers receive specialized training based on their assignment. Cops also have to get re-certified every other year. The NYPD does not heavily emphasize firearms training compared to other police departments, because its theory is that putting too much emphasis on guns will make officers more likely to shoot.

But NYPD firearms training is notoriously poor. A 2007 study by the high-level defense contractors at the RAND Corporation found that “training in complex policing skills” such as communication and decision-making “could be improved,” and that NYPD officers should carry tasers so that situations aren’t as likely to escalate to deadly force. In 2012, the Times investigated weapons training in the police academy and found that it’s “not taken seriously.” That same year, an officer took to Reddit and wrote, “any average CCW [concealed-carry weapon] citizen who practices more then [sic] twice a year pretty much has most of the department beat in terms of training.” Even Second Amendment advocates are critical of the NYPD: last year, after the accidental shooting death of Akai Gurley, gun blogger Bob Owens of Bearing Arms called the NYPD “poorly-trained” and “incompetent.”

Obviously, I was not expecting to learn “complex policing skills” from an hourlong demo, but I did expect to get a sense of how the NYPD views its guns, and under what conditions officers are meant to reach for them. Big surprise: I did not like what I saw.

The demo was led by Det. Joe Agosto, a firearms trainer from the police academy. He was very adamant about how the media misrepresents what being a cop is like, and how civilians don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen and you might have to shoot someone. The whole demonstration felt very defensive, like the NYPD was invoking preemptive blamelessness for the next time it killed an unarmed person. Agosto ran down a list of things cops experience during such a stressful, adrenaline-soaked interaction, such as tunnel vision and distortion of time, and while there’s truth to that, it almost sounded like he was making excuses for when mistakes are made. He showed some infographics about how the NYPD kills less people per capita than other police departments, and then showed the first group of people using the simulator how to hold the gun, which was pretty much the extent of the practical training.

The training simulation itself is an interactive video. The officer at the computer queues up a scenario like a cop might encounter in the field, and recruits react to it. The action in the video reacts to whatever tool is used (pepper spray, baton, gun). Basically, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure computer game with a gun for a mouse. Trainees are instructed to talk to the people onscreen, but it’s not fully interactive, because they don’t respond to verbal commands. So it’s designed for trainees to resort to violence.

My scenario was responding to a burglar alarm at a commercial space after business hours. I was the second trainee to use this scenario. In the video, shot from the cops’ point of view, a man comes out from behind a desk. He’s saying he works there. One of his hands is shielding his eyes from the cops’ flashlights, and the other is hidden behind the desk. He does not respond to commands to show his hand. One of the trainees before me attempted to pepper spray him, and in this choose-your-own-adventure option, the suspect pulled out a gun and started shooting. So he was killed.

The duo before me got super violent very quickly, so I came in after to demonstrate a different possible outcome. I didn’t have a partner. Det. Agosto showed me how to hold the gun, and then I was in the scenario. The guy was standing there, hiding his hand, telling me to get the light out of his face. “Show me your hand,” I commanded. He didn’t comply. Since I knew I was talking to recording that wasn’t listening, I ran out of stuff to say very quickly. “Do you want me to show you my ID?” he said. “Yeah, show me your ID,” I answered awkwardly to the screen. Suddenly, he whipped his hidden hand from out behind the desk. He was moving like he had a gun, and he did, kind of. But it wasn’t a firearm, it was a staple gun. He pretended like he was shooting me with the staple gun.

“That’s not funny,” I said. “Put the stapler down.” I didn’t shoot him.

“Wow, wait here, I’m going to get you an application,” Det. Agosto said, impressed. “No one doesn’t shoot him” when he pulls out the stapler in this scenario, he told me.

Perhaps because I was prepped, perhaps because my reaction was slow, or perhaps because I’m by nature not a violent person, I was able to restrain myself and not exert deadly force. In the NYPD training academy, I would be an anomaly, because I would rather talk than shoot. They are trained first and foremost to neutralize threats. Not doing this through violence is apparently novel. But I showed that it can be done.

There were a few more scenarios, and then the meeting ended before the community had a chance to speak. This was an unscheduled, unilateral, undemocratic decision by community council president Don West that royally pissed off people who had come to air grievances, but that’s a story for another time.

(Photo: NYPD 94th Precinct)

The post I Used An NYPD Firearms Training Simulator and Learned I Should Be A Cop appeared first on ANIMAL.

26 May 16:30

Atheists Make Americans Think of Death

by majestic

TW: atheists?
also i basically think about death all the time, soooo

What do you think of if/when you think of atheists? If you’re American there’s a good chance the thought of atheism inspires further thoughts about death, per Discovery News: Atheists consistently rank among the lowest of the low in the court of American public opinion. Now, research suggests one reason why: Thinking about atheists reminds people of death. Photo: Trish Steel...

[This is a short summary; please click the story headline to read the full story on our site]
26 May 17:20

Historian Says Don't 'Sanitize' How Our Government Created Ghettos

A helicopter flies over a section of Baltimore affected by riots. Richard Rothstein writes that recent unrest in Baltimore is the legacy of a century of federal, state and local policies designed to "quarantine Baltimore's black population in isolated slums." i

Fifty years after the repeal of Jim Crow, many African-Americans still live in segregated ghettos in the country's metropolitan areas. Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has spent years studying the history of residential segregation in America.

"We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls 'de-facto' — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight," Rothstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

"It was not the unintended effect of benign policies," he says. "It was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that's the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies."

Interview Highlights

On using the word "ghetto"

One of the ways in which we forget our history is by sanitizing our language and pretending that these problems don't exist. We have always recognized that these were "ghettos." A ghetto is, as I define it, a neighborhood which is homogeneous and from which there are serious barriers to exit. That's the technical definition of a ghetto.

Robert Weaver, the first African-American member of the Cabinet appointed by President Johnson as his secretary of Housing and Urban Development, described many of the policies that I've described today in a book he published in 1948 called The Negro Ghetto.

The Kerner Commission referred to the ghetto.

This is a term that we no longer use because we're embarrassed to talk about it, and we need to confront our history and stop sanitizing our language and talk openly about what we've done as a nation and what we need to do to undo it. And we can't talk openly if we're going to use euphemisms instead of being explicit about what the reality is.

On how the New Deal's Public Works Administration led to the creation of segregated ghettos

Its policy was that public housing could be used only to house people of the same race as the neighborhood in which it was located, but, in fact, most of the public housing that was built in the early years was built in integrated neighborhoods, which they razed and then built segregated public housing in those neighborhoods. So public housing created racial segregation where none existed before. That was one of the chief policies.

On the Federal Housing Administration's overtly racist policies in the 1930s, '40s and '50s

The second policy, which was probably even more effective in segregating metropolitan areas, was the Federal Housing Administration, which financed mass production builders of subdivisions starting in the '30s and then going on to the '40s and '50s in which those mass production builders, places like Levittown [New York] for example, and Nassau County in New York and in every metropolitan area in the country, the Federal Housing Administration gave builders like Levitt concessionary loans through banks because they guaranteed loans at lower interest rates for banks that the developers could use to build these subdivisions on the condition that no homes in those subdivisions be sold to African-Americans.

On real estate agents' practice of "blockbusting"

In the ghettos, government policy — municipal policy, for example — denied adequate services, garbage wasn't collected frequently. African-Americans were crowded into neighborhoods in the ghetto because so much other housing was closed to them and as a result, housing prices in ghettos were much higher than similar housing in white areas. Rents were much higher than similar housing in white areas ... because you had a smaller supply. It's the basic laws of supply and demand. ... So this created slum conditions.

So when African-Americans managed to break out of those slums and buy a home in a neighboring area, whites could be persuaded that slum conditions were going to be brought with them. So the real estate agents would go into these neighborhoods and try to panic white families into selling their homes cheap to the real estate agents.

They used techniques: They would recruit blacks from the ghetto to walk around the neighborhood pushing baby carriages. They would phone call families in the white area and ask for names that were stereotypically African-American. ... All intended to give the impression that this was rapidly turning into another black slum.

The white families who panicked would then sell their homes to the real estate agents or the speculators at prices far below what they were worth. The speculators would then turn around and resell the homes to African-Americans at far more than they were worth because of the restricted supply, and this policy was called "blockbusting" and it was a policy that was condoned by state licensing boards throughout the country.

25 May 22:54

The Incredible True Story Of The Christian Foot Fetishists Who Stole 10,000 Dirty Socks


via firehose. the best story.

“They were everywhere and anywhere,” a police officer later testified. “They were all over the furniture, hanging from lampshades and even in the microwave, frying pan and cooker. It was like there had been an explosion in a sock factory and socks had blown all over the place.”
25 May 18:05

Sudden Orgasm

Sudden Orgasm

21 Apr 14:00

victoriousvocabulary:VESCOR [verb] 1. to use as food, take for...




1. to use as food, take for food, feed upon, eat; I eat, feed upon.

2. to enjoy, make use of, use, have; I make use of, enjoy, use.

Etymology: Latin from ve- + esca (food).

[Adrian Borda]

22 May 15:00

Francisco Leite | Erotismo vulgar

by Cherry Catalán

NSFW. i've seen the cello one numerous times and never known who it was.


Francisco José de Souto Leite también conocido bajo el seudónimo de Derbyblue, es un ilustrador brasileño que trabaja con diferentes soportes, que van desde lo tradicional como papel y lienzo hasta las mismas calles de la ciudad. Esta mezcla del graffiti junto con remembranzas del cómic de los 60’s y 70’s le da un toque único y característico a su obra.


Llena de colores, la sensualidad y erotismo que alberga el trabajo de Leite pareciera que roza con la vulgaridad; sin embargo no es por pura coincidencia sino que es el mensaje de la misma: la transgresión de lo moral, permitiendo así la crítica social.








Si deseas saber más de Francisco Leite, te dejamos su flickr:

22 May 17:44

Herb Soop

by alyssaconnell

A few weeks ago, thanks to my old friend George Leader, I was lucky enough to visit an archaeological dig at an eighteenth-century farmhouse on The College of New Jersey’s campus. I’d never been to a dig site before, so the technical details alone were fascinating: the reasoning behind determining where to dig in the first place, the standing sieve to strain buckets of earth for artifacts, the practice of wrapping fragile artifacts in foil (who knew!), the technology used to date wooden architectural features. I really dug it. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Seeing the farmhouse, getting to hold some of the artifacts unearthed that day – a metal button, a shard of blue and white pottery, and a small clay sphere that we theorized might have been a marble – made me think about this project and what we can uncover. I’m used to engaging with the past through words on a page. The archives always feel a little bit magical to me: these texts still exist centuries later, and I get to touch them, smell them, read them. I felt a similar tug at the dig, seeing artifacts being unearthed and thinking about our access to the past through what happens to have been left behind. At a basic level, archaeological investigation and archival literary research give us physical access to fragments of past lives, preserved deliberately or accidentally. You figure out where to look, but you don’t always know what you’re going to find.

This project is one of reconstruction from a distance and with pieces missing: the recipes are vestiges of what did get recorded, leaving little behind of what didn’t. Cooking from the archives creates a powerful bridge between me and the past. I will never stand in a kitchen without refrigeration, without even the possibility of electric lights, without having spent my whole baking life reaching automatically for ingredients like vanilla extract and uniform sticks of butter, but I can still approximate how Naples biscuits would have tasted nearly three hundred years ago.

There’s always a gap, though, related to how just far that bridge can reach. Working on this project has brought me up short at this gap time and again: reading handwritten manuscripts begs to know more about the person who wrote them, but there’s often little headway to be made. We can decipher handwriting, but identities are harder. This impulse isn’t just personal – it’s a question that comes up often for me and Marissa, of who wrote these recipes down, of what we know about them. Usually, not much. But this recipe left a faint trace of one of the individuals behind it.

This Herb Soop comes from UPenn MS Codex 1038, home to some of my favorites, like the Maccarony Cheese and Desart Cakes. The volume contains at least three separate hands, and we still don’t know anything about these writers. This handwriting is the second in the volume, probably written down sometime in the 1790s or early 1800s. The end of the recipe attributes it to “Lady Laroche.” (She is probably the source and not the writer of this recipe, since several subsequent recipes in the same handwriting are attributed to other women.) It is nearly impossible to know anything about the other women whose names accompany their recipes – the Mrs. Baker who gave the writer her recipe for Curd Cheescakes, the Mrs. Fordham who told her how “To make Flumery,” or the Mrs. Turner who showed how “To Dress a real Turtle as the[y] do in the West Indies,” for instance. “Lady,” however, provides direction in a way that “Mrs.” often cannot.

It turns out that this “Lady Laroche” can be one of only two women. James Laroche, a Bristol politician and slave-trader, was created baronet in August 1776. Since the baronetcy became extinct when he died in 1804 without any male heirs, this Lady Laroche has to have been one of his two wives. The first Lady Laroche was born Elizabeth-Rachel-Anne Yeamans in Antigua. An heiress (she brought at least one plantation to the marriage) and widow, she married James Laroche in 1764 and moved to England with him. After Elizabeth-Rachel-Anne died in 1781, James remarried; his second wife may also have been named Elizabeth. We know nothing else of her except that she survived her husband and died in Wales in 1824. Can we know how or even if this recipe writer and either Lady Laroche knew each other? What else they might have talked about, why this particular recipe was the one shared? No. But sometimes, even this small glimpse into archival identities feels like uncovering something satisfying.

The Recipe

Herb soopHerb soop contd

To make Herb Soop

Take Parsley, Spinnach, Cabbage Lettice, Leaves of
White Beet, Sorrell, Cucumbers, Pease & small Onions
with the green ends to them, a little Mint, and a very
little Fennell. Wash them all clean, and Chop the
Herbs very small. Season them with Pepper & Salt,
Put them into a Pot to stew with a piece of Butter
according to your quantity, but no Water. Let
them stew quite tender. Have ready boiled some
Cream or Milk, with the Yolks of Eggs beat up in it,
Mix this gently with the Herbs and serve it up.
You must not let it boil, or be on the Fire after the
Eggs are put to it. You are to observe it is not to
be a thin liquid, but more herbs than Soop. that is,
thick of the Herbs. Less than half a pound of butter
will do unless the Terene is very large. There shoud
be Cellery chopped amongs the herbs if to be had &
other herbs you like but not strong of any one in particular.
Some leave out the Fennell, as it is apt to be too strong.
Lady Laroche.

Our Recipe

3 generous handfuls of spinach (about 1 1/2 c. chopped)
1/2 c. parsley, chopped
a few mint leaves, chopped
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, diced (I also seeded mine)
1-2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
1 c. chopped cabbage
3/4 c. green peas (fresh or frozen)
3 scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. salt
a few grinds of pepper
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. milk
1 egg yolk

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except for the milk and egg yolk. Cook them over low-medium heat, stirring often enough to prevent the greens from sticking. Cook until the greens are all wilted and the cucumbers are translucent; for me, this took about 20 minutes. (Though you could probably let them “stew” even longer.) Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove until quite hot. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and then, still whisking, add the hot milk in a steady stream. Remove the herb mixture from the heat and stir in the milk. Serve immediately.

chopping into the pot after 10 minutes after 20 minutes

The Results

The Soop tasted green: stewed together, the herbs and vegetables made a pleasantly flavorful whole. I’d never had cooked cucumbers before and was curious – they softened but held their shape, rather like zucchini, and provided nice texture in the soup. I liked the zip from the scallions and the chewiness of the cabbage (even if cooking it did make my kitchen rather … fragrant). In its piling together of many different herbs and vegetables, the Herb Soop felt like a precursor to some of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes. I found it satisfying that what I was tasting was probably pretty close to some of the results this recipe would have yielded for eighteenth-century cooks: all of the ingredients remain available, the cooking technique was easily duplicated in my kitchen (albeit with the ease of a gas stove), and the methodology was specific enough that I could follow the recipe’s instructions closely.

In fact, this Herb Soop recipe is quite detailed in its ingredient list and instructions – it’s very helpful to know, for instance, that the end result should be “more herbs than Soop” – more so than many of the other recipes we’ve engaged with, like Artificial Potatoes. But it provides few precise measurements. I guessed at these proportions, determining them largely based on what I had and what I liked. (I don’t love fennel, so I’m one of those “some” the recipe mentions who “leave [it] out.” And my little produce market doesn’t carry sorrel, so I didn’t use it.) And I imagine that’s what early cooks did as well, making the soup slightly differently each time based on what needed to be used or what was available.

What else could you toss in here? Leeks, zucchini, basil, cilantro, green bell peppers – really, anything green that happens to be lurking in your crisper could make its way into this soup. Some hot pepper flakes would liven things up. I see the appeal behind the milk-and-egg liquid choice: it’s a rich addition and adds some depth to the greens. However, I might substitute some vegetable broth or chicken stock for a lighter soup. Basically, this recipe provides a wonderful alternative idea for using up the leftover greens that I normally toss into a grain salad, a stir-fry, or baked eggs.


26 May 01:36


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