Madwomen in the Attic, Madmen in the Garage

Dearest Carla Fran,

I can’t help wondering if the “sensual pleasures” the ladies received as a result of their chocolate and eggs are the subject of the “grateful confidences” that gratify the Professor’s ears. It puts me in mind of the “traditional” cures for female hysteria in the 19th century, and the peculiar forms therapy took to cure the problem of the wandering womb in those days. (And these, I suppose—remember Peggy’s weight-loss Rejuvenator on Mad Men, which gives you that “flush and glow?”)

I’ve got more to say later about therapy then and now. But for now, here’s a question, spurred by the discussions everywhere of DFW’s death and whether or not one can read anything biographical into his corpus of psychotics, addicts, and sociopaths: if schizophrenia means madness, and the hysterics were the madwomen in the attic, are schizophrenics the madmen in the garage? Has “schizophrenia” become, not just a catch-all concept for mental illness, but a more nebulous, even poetic certification of unfitness for society? In Firecracker parlance specifically, is the schizophrenic the official figure of alienation and off-kilter genius, the Fool, the visionary truth-teller, the creature who’s ascended (or descended) a stage towards Hegel’s concrete reality and gets the joke the rest of us didn’t even hear?

And why does this prophetic dimension seem to strike down male Firecrackers in much higher numbers? And—I ask this with fear and trembling, and wish, again, that David Foster Wallace could answer—what’s their yellow wallpaper?


Armor, Spanx, and Stupid Codpieces

Good morning sleepyhead,

I might be the sleepyhead.  You might have already danced with veils and coined scarves.  I wonder what early morning belly dancing could do for a day?

Spanx! I love them because they make certain clothes possible–the things that sit in my closet and wait and wait to not worry about jiggle.  And then, voila, with Spanx everything is possible! I wear them when I need a little armor.  The bad news is, they do feel damn good to take off at the end of the day, and they remind me of my mother, or more, me turning into my mother.

I feel a bit daft, or maybe it’s because I’m just getting through my first cup of the best part of waking up, but why is the crush over?  Was the constant judging done by these men a turn off? Which did you take shelter in, their concrete opinions, or the lone voice of the person who disagreed?

So this actually doesn’t apply at all, but it reminds me again of Orwell’s frustration with Dali–that people leave taste to waves of morality or sophistication, and rely on both to carry them off as well-informed and smart. He doesn’t have the answer for his own dislike for Dali, but he just wants us to engage with our opinions instead of nonchalantly offering them as a distinction of intelligence of upright servitude.  I like to hate on things as much as anybody else (probably more so), and the work Orwell is requesting sounds tiring.  I admire that you are more involved with the examination than the group zing of instant judgment and glee at the weakness of taste in others.

Ooh! Your glower, and I do imagine you glowering, at the judgy-judginess of these fellows (if I have understood correctly) directly ties to my dilemma with that certain sample of the male population I was fuming at yesterday.  They hold out their opinions like codpieces.  You can’t have a conversation with a codpiece.

For an upcoming Netflix/Hulu escapade, should we try to stay in the sixties?  There is something delicious about looking at the products of the time, while chewing over Madmen and pretending that Draper and boys (and Peggy!), could have whipped the thing up to sell us candy pink stoves.

Also, I had a dream last night that I was back at the spa, in my towel, looking for the steam rooms and the cups of salt.  I didn’t actually find them, but I knew they were around there somewhere.

To the wonders of salt! Salut!



The Thrill of it All!

Dear tollbooth phantom,

It’s Friday. My cat has taken a nap in the sun, behind my laptop, and is very much enjoying stretching herself into the gap between desk and wall. She also just took a bite out of an inspirational quote (yes, I do that) that I had taped over the laptop, as, well, ahem, inspiration. So many things to tell you this fine end o’ the week!

1.) The lissome redhead you describe–she reminds me of Joan from Madmen, probably because of the control she carries in body and presentation. I find that I can’t stop optically groping Joan when I watch the show. Redheads are famous for this quality, but then I feel like quite the objectifying jerk to even say that. But the redheads will also be extinct in a hundred years. Or so they say.

2.) I found out today that LA has flocks of green parrots (or parrot-like birds)! They all came to the tree outside my office, and I realized that parrots are loud visually and aurally.

3.) I think we should start a bi-monthly segment in our chit-chats where we examine the treasures of Netflix instant. Last night, I was grumpy and unmotivated, and perusing through my Netflix options, I fell upon a wonderfully sloppy Doris Day movie called The Thrill of It All.

I thought it would be some great clothes, some snappy lines, a lot of blond–but instead it was an amazing trip to the sixties of Madmen, but with none of the modern winks at how very depressing (and well-dressed) it all was. Here are some of my scattered thoughts about the crazy thing, below:

  • In short–the movie is about a happy housewife (Day) who gets the chance to become a successful spokes-model for a soap called “Happy.” Her husband (James Garner) is an obstetrician (hello fertility!), and they have a bunch of marital troubles because she works.
  • All major plot points include babies or baby-making. Day gets the job because hubby successfully got the aging couple that owns “Happy Soap” preggers. The knocked up CEO’s wife at one point says “There is nothing more fulfilling in life than having a baby.” This refrain plays in Garner’s head throughout the movie as he tries to seduce his wife so that she too can be knocked up, and the soap career will be squashed.
  • When his sexual stealth attack fails, he tries to emotionally break his wife by tricking her into thinking he is having an affair and is now a drunkard, all because of her success. This is, again, all to hopefully end her career.
  • CEO soap baby is born–both Day and Garner help deliver, which leads her to realizing that he really does get to do the most important thing in the world, and that she wants to help and just be a doctor’s wife again!
  • When CEO soap baby is born, CEO daddy looks at CEO mommy and exclaims “you are a genius!” I love how this suggests that a woman’s intelligence is all about pushing the babies out.
  • At the end, Day and Garner go upstairs to do it. Animated fireworks shoot up and explode as the credits roll.
  • I could go on and on about the reproduction/production theme in this movie, but there are some other amazing moments. One is the terry-cloth turban Day wears in the shower. I want one. NOW. Speaking of wants, I want Doris Day hair, every day. It’s blond, fluffy, and somehow sexy, elegant, and casual without directly trying to be any of them directly. She bottles ketchup in that hair (well, not in the hair) and then goes to a grand party thrown in her honor, same hair. And apparently, she never washes it, because that turban is there for a reason.
  • It does make you realize how spot on Madmen’s costuming and set design is.
  • There is an entire scene about a backyard filled with foam.
  • In short, the movie seems to want to appear modern for addressing women’s rights, but also has the overall message of, you can have rights, as long as you don’t really want to use them, kay?
  • It’s delightful, for all of its nonsense. It is, afterally, Mizz Day.

Maybe we could arrange a NetFlix instant to fall upon every couple of weeks, and then discuss the joys to be had? It would be like we almost were watching them together, except miles apart, and not at the same time? And I think the world needs our help in navigating Netflix, and what could instantly be had.

Lastly, your thoughts on celebrity were exact, and I am realizing how nice it is to find your letters every day, and enjoy the well-stitched quality of your observations.