Flare and Fade

The Train Leaves In Thirty Days: A Matt Fraction Comics Survey

James Hepplewhite

A note from Rebecca: Making good on my promise to publish posts from talented authors about the things they really love, I would like to introduce my very good friend James Hepplewhite, a much more elegant writer than myself, no matter the topic, to introduce you to the comics of Matt Fraction. If you want to write about something that drives you wild, please feel free to submit it to me. Without further ado, James.

Let me introduce you to the comics of Matt Fraction. Which is a misnomer, because comics, unless you're a one man band, is an intensely collaborative medium. They're not really "Matt Fraction comics," they're Matt "Fraction and Collaborators comics." With that in mind, I'll go through four of the comics that Fraction has his name on.

Two will sound vaguely familiar, two won't.

The four comics:

  • Satellite Sam
  • Casanova
  • Hawkeye
  • Sex Criminals 

Satellite Samis a comic about television in the 50s, and also the period's prejudices. Gay characters abound, but only behind closed doors, mixed race parentage is a shocker and the story kicks off when a son discovers his father (a television space hero) had a predilection for bad women in garters, one of whom is almost certainly his father's killer.

Penciller Howard Chaykin overshadows Fraction here. In Chaykin's illustrious career, he is known for three things:

1) A legendary comics artist who invented many storytelling tricks used today.

2) Drawing women in garters.

3) A vulgar, lively wit. My favorite one so far, and one of the most tame. Also: Googling "Howard Chaykin interview" will provide at least 30 minutes of entertainment.

Fraction, being a long time fan of Chaykin, gives the man what he's known for. Satellite Sam is denser than uranium, openly salacious and devastating in its critiques. It is the only comic I can think of that made its own Tijuana Bible. Both are printed in a carnal, id-electrifying black and white.

If Mad Men was more brazen, it'd approach Satellite Sam.

Next, my adored Casanova.

Describing Casanova's plot is like solving a Rubik's cube on hallucinogens. Summarized barbarously: Timeline hopping bisexual super spy Casanova Quinn gets into real trouble. He disappoints his many fathers, chases the many instances of the Big Bad throughout the multiverse, and well, there's more surprises. 

Casanova is berserk with ideas, and spits them at the reader at a clip almost too fast to handle. Some of that is due to the early limitations of the series (16 page issues) but most is Fraction's fear that it would be the only comic he'd ever get to write.

The people pencilling Casanova are as integral to the comic as Fraction, Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon. Gabriel's work is pricklier and more lively, whereas Fabio Moon draws everyone gorgeous. Case in point: Sasa Lisi (an 8 1/2 reference, naturally) looks like the bewitching alien girlfriend of a million lesser sci-fi stories, but articulated as a full character by both writer and penciller.

And now, the hits. Hawkeye.

It's a story fundamentally about Clint Barton's (Hawkeye) stubbornness. He sees injustice, moves to correct it and then discovers he's in over his own head. His response is to dig further. In doing so, he discovers new allies and challenges, between fellow Hawkeye Kate Bishop and Mr. Barton's disreputable older brother. 

It's Clint Barton as Jim Rockford, which plays to Mr. Barton's history, a felon who declared he deserved to be on the Avengers as Tim O'Neil put it, "based on nothing more than his facility with a bow and arrow and an absolutely enormous pair of brass balls." Clint Barton takes on malicious Eastern European landlords the same way.

There are other reasons, of course. The main one is that Matt Fraction and main penciller David Aja were born to work together. Whatever page Fraction turns in, Aja makes better. Whatever emotional beat Fraction puts down, Aja makes frictionless, even while slowing it down.

The other reason? Kate Bishop. The capable heroine is explicitly Mr. Barton's equal and never far from a felicitous quip.  Combine with an early emphasis on single issue stories and Hawkeye is easy to understand and difficult to resist.

Sex Criminals is great for reasons so obvious, it's  easy mode. Mainstream comics hasn't had a really good romantic comedy in a very long time. There are exceptions, but Sex Criminals is merely a well-executed romantic comedy. For a comic called Sex Criminals, it's a light, earnest R. It is hard to imagine anyone but the most clueless being concerned about a comic that includes an image called "the Dutch microwave."

Sex Criminals is about people who's ejaculation stops time. They put it to use to rob a bank, so they can raise money to keep a library open. (Awwwwwwww.) The first issue introduces Suzie and goes through her sexual awakening in painfully funny detail.

Zdarsky puts an indefensible amount of detail into the backgrounds. (See above.) There's never a page without a Sexual Gary poster, or a book title somewhere designed to get a laugh. Fraction feeds him with embarrassing moments from his own life, hurriedly veiled by a different character and lets the collaboration go. It is humane and kind.

Come back next time, true believers! (Is there going to be a next time? I legitimately don't know.) Maybe I'll write about ODY-C, a gender-swapped, psychedelic retelling of the Odyssey. Or perhaps Fraction's grueling Iron Man run that shipped two issues in a month for a year straight. Maybe I'll talk about his early work? The designs of the universe are unknown to me.

Looking At A Dress Looking At A Dress Looking At A Dress Looking At A Dress

poetryRebecca Brink

I looked into the dress and saw white and gold.

I looked into the dress and saw an ugly dress.

I looked into the dress and saw Jesus.

I looked into the dress and saw OUR REPTILIAN OVERLORDS. WAKE UP, SHEEPLE.

I looked into the dress and saw the apocalypse.

I looked into the dress and saw myself.

I looked into the dress and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

I looked into this one weird thing to lose weight fast and it was the dress.

I looked into the dress and it was looking at the dress, saying, “It looks white and gold to me.”
 

I looked into the dress and saw the face of God. Then my eyes melted out of their sockets; thanks for nothing, Internet.

I'm Leaving Social Media and Some People Seem Either Sad or Angry About It, So Here Are My 5 Reasons for Leaving Social Media, In Case You're Interested

Rebecca Brink

1. Details about Facebook’s privacy and data-mining policies that bother me. In short: I don’t see myself or the details of my personal or inner life as commodities. Facebook, especially, does. Everything I’ve ever written is marketing research for them. That means that after I was raped, my status updates about it were used as marketing data. It was used as information that could possibly help Facebook to target ads at me that I might want to see. Is that not disturbing? (Answer: That is disturbing.) It’s not really a universal evil; we all know that Facebook is doing it, some of us are comfortable with it and some of us aren’t; I fall in the latter category.

2. I realized that I could not give less of a shit about most of the things I’ve ever said on any social network. Like, I didn’t get sentimental about deleting 5,000+ tweets. I never said anything within those ~700,000 characters of any great import. I’m slightly more sentimental about Facebook because it contains interactions with friends and information about milestones, and serves as a journal of sorts. Even so, it’s not really a journal because it has an actual audience other than me. Status updates are meant to be read by other people and they are therefore written for other people, not for one’s own edification. So I never said anything that was so exceptionally authentic and truthful and insightful that it would be worth keeping, because the point of Facebook was to cultivate a persona, not to be authentic and truthful and insightful.

3. I do not like my social media persona. Everyone has to have a public persona, of course, and I certainly do, because I write - sometimes about myself - on The Frisky. The benefit of long-form writing (and by “long-form” I don’t mean in the traditional sense but in the sense of “not a tweet or Facebook update but rather a complete string of logic, usually in excess of 500 words”) is that the persona I cultivate therein is way, way closer to who I am/what I am like IRL. There are omissions for privacy and style, but if you read my work on The Frisky (or here, for that matter), you will be reading something that I thought was important to write about for one or another reason, and it will be written in something resembling the voice with which I actually speak, and I will explain my reasoning as fully as is necessary. Social media, rather, promotes sort of impulsive thought fragments, usually about frivolous shit, and because it’s impulsive it tends toward outrage (for me, anyway). So my social media persona was frivolous, impulsive, and outraged. That’s neither reflective of who I am IRL nor, in any event, how I wish to be perceived.

4. I am uncomfortable with addiction. I just finished David Foster Wallace’s maybe-seminal 1990 essay on TV, E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction”, toward the end of which he describes a book by “media futurologist” George Gilder, titled Life After Television: The Coming Transformation of Media and American Life. In it, Gilder basically called Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and social media, decades before they existed. It was a prescient piece of work. Gilder thought that “telecomputers” (I mean, what are our computers now if not that?) would increase choice, control, and quality of immersive experience for the consumer and therefore democratize entertainment (this was a super-Libertarian way of thinking), which could only be a good thing. What Wallace was after in the essay was a way out of the six-hour-a-day television consumption that had had alienating, isolating, generally very detrimental effects on the human psyche; and Wallace didn’t believe that an increase of choice or quality would help consumers out of their TV-dependent rut:

“The more enhancing the mediation - see for instance binoculars, amplifiers, graphic equalizers, or ‘moving pictures hardly distinguishable from real-life images’ - the more direct, vivid, and real the experience seems, which is to say the more direct, vivid, and real the fantasy and dependence are… Jacking the number of choices and options up with better tech will remedy exactly nothing so long as no sources of insight on comparative worth, no guides to why and how to choose among experiences, fantasies, beliefs, and predilections, are permitted serious consideration in U.S. culture” (From A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, p. 75).

Um, yeah, pretty much. We all know that the Internet has indeed democratized information and entertainment and “experiences” such as they are on the Internet, and has simultaneously made it almost impossible to tell what of those things is actually really good or not; the sheer volume of information available has actually become the problem. Nowhere is that more true than on social media, where we get an endless stream of tiny packets of information thrown at us literally all day and night in real time. We scroll through and read and it’s boring but we can’t tear ourselves away, and why? A lot of people think that it’s because of dopamine addiction, that the surge of dopamine that our brains receive when we learn something new is being repeated when we read tweets and updates, without us having to actually do a whole lot of work to learn anything, without the information being challenging. And so we become dopamine addicted, and it’s hard to give up the constant reading of and contribution to social media feeds.

But is it quality information? If I don’t care about anything I’ve ever written on social media, and I don’t remember any one particular thing anyone else has ever written on social media, how good could that information be? There’s a whole world of books out there that I could be reading that require way more effort and attention from me, but that will actually teach me something. There are artworks out there begging to be stared at, looked at hard, analyzed visually, for 20-minute sittings (this is a thing I do). There are movies, for that matter, that regardless of quality merit our dissection and discussion. There is writing to be done, food to be made. There are paper flowers to be crafted and paperwork to be filed. There are people to be talked-to. All of those things are higher-quality intellectual experiences than scrolling through social media because they simply require more application.

5. What exactly are we doing on social media, anyway? Maybe I’m just too preoccupied with my mortality, but I’m pretty sure that people who are successful and who do interesting things do not have time for bullshit like social media. Yeah, it’s bullshit. I’m not going to make the claim that like hashtag activism (there’s a trendy word for that that I can’t recall) isn’t effective or useful, or that social media personalities are necessarily vapid, but the social media-oriented lifestyle is not the lifestyle to which I aspire. I’m generally not regressive or conservative when it comes to technology and you won’t hear me saying that the world has gone to shit because of social media or gizmos or whatever. That’s demonstrably untrue if you bother to study history, like, at all. And certainly, to each their own - if social media is a part of your lifestyle that fulfills you and makes you happy, then tweet away, friend. But that’s not me, those aren’t the conditions in which I want to live. I want to make a lot of art and write a lot and be like jacked-up, muscley fit, and I want to think hard about a lot of things and continually develop my sense of focus and patience and dedication to a single task at a time. I don’t think that the world is going to move past me if I decide that the most current technology just isn’t my dig. It’s possible to engage in the world without paying more than glancing attention to social media.

In fact, my line of thinking is that when we (pop culture writers and the people who read our work) talk about The World, we tend to see it as a homogenous entity, the current version of it being globalized, super-connected, fairly instantaneous, saturated in information, tech-obsessed, and social (think of that monologue in the movie Birdman: “There's a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn't even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don't even have a Facebook page. You're the one who doesn't exist.”). The truth is that there are many, many worlds here on this planet. Many people are living many lives in worlds that are not like The World As Perceived By Pop Culture Writers. The irony is that we talk about the world that we live in as if it is really capital-letters The World, the one and only, and it must be engaged-in in order to be relevant; it’s a matter of assumption that you have to have a Facebook page “for work” and a Twitter profile “for work” and a Tumblr “for branding” and so on. But simultaneously, so many pop culture writers fall into outrage about a lack of sensitivity to other people, other cultures, other lives. Do you see the contradiction? We are not permitting, in our way of viewing The World, ways for other people, other cultures, and other lives to actually exist as real possibilities. No, really, a lot of people don’t have Facebook pages. A lot of people don’t Twitter. A lot of people think Tumblr is spelled with an “e” and is a type of cup. It’s not quaint, it’s not idealistic, it’s not naive, and it doesn’t make those people irrelevant.


And that’s not outrage, I promise, it’s just me trying to shake some of the people who might read this, and say, “IF YOU’RE UNHAPPY, I PROMISE YOU CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT THIS SHIT!” Other people do it every day! Other people are content without being saturated with constant connectivity. If you’re unhappy, just - we live in a universe that is full of things we don’t know, full of possibilities. Find those things out, follow those possibilities. Call it sentimental that I care this much about social media and what it does: Social media makes me very, very unhappy most of the time that I’m using it. I become mean and anxious. When I use social media on the reg, I feel like I’m dying. There’s an existential balance there: I am dying, technically. Everything that exists is in a constant state of both living and dying, and the question is really just, what do you feel like you’re doing? If I’m not doing something that makes me happy or fulfills me or improves me or is teaching me something, or if I’m not working toward or accomplishing a goal, I certainly do not feel like I’m living. I’m doing none of those things on social media. So it has no place in my life.

Herpe Shner Myurrrrrr!

Rebecca Brink

Despite the fact that I've managed to only post twice in the last 3 months, Flare and Fade has increasing numbers of visitors per day over time.

What is wrong with you people? Is the Internet that barren?

But thank you, and I promise that 2015 will be much more eventful here.

I'm restructuring the site a little bit - my pictures are staying, of course, but the depression journal is gone (if you have it bookmarked, it's still viewable, but I'm not linking in the header anymore). The comments are still, and always will be, off, because while I'm not a pro-censorship fascist, I'm happy to keep the kind of vitriol that comment sections tend to inspire out of my life and let habitual commenters voice their opinions elsewhere on this vast and diverse Internet. The project I had been working on over the summer wound up being a little bit too much for me to handle, so that's gone. 

In its place is a submission form. The new Flare and Fade will have a lot more to do with the title of the blog, which is taken from a Doctor Who episode in which Eleven tells Amy: "I'm not running away from things, I'm running to them, before they flare and fade forever."

I want to have a blog where I can write about things that I love so much that I can't contain it, and where I can write about other weirdos who have pursued something with what seems like interest well out of proportion to the thing itself. I want to have a blog where I can experiment with language in a way that I can't at my day job. I want to have a blog where I can make mistakes in the process of pursuing the best parts of myself, my mind, and my life. 

And I want to host that for other people as well. So if you happen to have undue interest in something, and I think everyone does have undue interest in something, please pitch me. My interests are only so wide and I want to know why this weird thing is so important to you, and why it's important to the world at large, what it reflects about our reality - whatever that is.

So happy new year! New blog posts start on Monday. You can expect to hear from me every Monday, whether it's a written post, photography, art, or a video. I'm hoping to get 2 guest posts a month on Wednesdays.

I'll see you around, and your patronage will finally start paying off, I think.

It's just not that hard

Rhetoric, Feminism, justiceRebecca Brink

I was walking home with Michael this evening and I was telling him that my intuition was telling me that we're on the verge of a real revolutionary moment. It's been a bad year for women, it's been a bad year for people of color: Mike Brown, Marissa Alexander, Eric Garner, Janay Rice, Tamir Rice, Retaeh Parsons, Ezell Ford, Yvette Smith, Dante Parker, the Farr Road Victim, Jordan Baker, John Crawford. Isla Vista, Marysville-Pilchuck (yes, that's gender-based violence). Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi. And on, and on, and on.

It's gotten so bad that I don't think any of us buy the idea that the higher-ups are actually looking out for us, or actually have our best interests at heart. I can't imagine what measures it would take to make us feel like we're valued American citizens. Even an indictment for Darren Wilson - and everyone knew that wasn't going to happen - wouldn't have changed the impunity with which so many other people have been killed. And we're all just so tired of being told that there was something we could have done better to avoid being killed, profiled, harassed, raped. We're through with this culture. We're through with this government. We don't trust either. It has to change. 

I think we're on the verge of a revolution. 

And I say that having studied revolutions, specifically revolutions for independence in Africa, Socialist revolutions in Russia, and revolutions for democracy in Germany, Poland, and the rest of the Soviet Bloc. It's just - I know this is going to sound weird and very superficial, but, it's cold out and people are turning out in droves. That actually means something. That's a canary in a coal mine, in terms of activism. Our outrage is warming us.

I told Michael, "I'm afraid women are going to be left behind." I elaborated on that statement some: People seem to be more comfortable being vocally outraged with the complete disregard with which Black lives are treated in America than they are being outraged with the complete disregard with which women's lives and autonomy are and have been treated in America. It's not that I think one must be more important than the other, of course: to some extent, they're separate issues that require a different vocabulary altogether. To some other extent, to a greater extent, there's a lot of overlap. The overlap is horrifying. Yes, our culture feels entitled to women's bodies: Nowhere is that more evident than the way we treat the bodies of women of color.

But it occurred to me: "I might just be worried about my place in this moment, as a white woman." I might be clutching for representation, and if I am, I'm clutching for representation that I already have. The women of color who are organizing so many of the Ferguson-related actions and doing some of the best reportage are vocal feminists. Why should I feel afraid for my representation as a woman

My womanhood is represented. My whiteness isn't. I'm OK with that. The fact is that I've found this year that many, many white feminists are unreliable allies to women of color. I've found this year that feminists of color have more dynamic, less regressive ideas about how to move feminism forward. I'm thinking of Mikki Kendall, Mychal Denzel Smith, Tracy Clayton, Bhas, Luvvie Ajayi, Jamilah Lemieux, Aura Bogado, Soraya Chemaly, Franchesca Ramsey, Wagatwe Wanjuki, April Reign, Mia McKenzie, and, of course, Jesse Williams and Roxane Gay. Black Twitter - and every other representation of people of color on Twitter - has been more informative to listen to than the thinkpiece re-cycle of white feminist writing that constitutes the majority of feminist content on the Internet.

And yes, I'm part of that problem, and yes, I'm trying to do what I can, little by little, to fix it.

I said it on Twitter before: #YesAllWomen means we stand together. If we're in a cultural moment wherein marginalized groups are starting to rally together for real change, I have to sort of immolate my non-marginalized identity to be a part of it. My non-marginalized identity is my identity as white.

I say "immolate" for the sake of poetics. Of course, it's easier than that. All it means is being aware of the fact that I have been grasping my white privilege and saying things like "I'm afraid women are going to get left behind in this movement" when women have in fact been extraordinarily included in it, have been leading it, and the "women" I was referring to is really code for "white women." All it means is catching myself when I'm saying something questionable, recognizing that it might be arising from my privilege, talk it out, and do better next time. It's a dose of self-awareness and humility. It's a matter of not digging your heels in and defending your privilege because it makes you comfortable.

It's just not that hard.

My Marathon Playlist

About Me, FunsiesRebecca Brink

Somehow y'all keep visiting even when I'm not posting, which means YOU ARE THE BEST. Thank you. I've been having very, very, very bad insomnia for the last two weeks in addition to the stress that comes along with starting a new job and finishing training for a marathon (plus, I've taken TWO injuries in the last three weeks of training which has been JUST GREAT). That's why I haven't been around. I will be around more. Soon. I might start doing more personal posts, narrative nonfiction, and artwork, because those things flow out of my brain a little easier.

The Chicago Marathon is tomorrow! I'm running for Advocate Illinois Masonic Behavioral Health, which provides low-income patients with comprehensive mental healthcare. I've reached my fundraising REQUIREMENT but I would love love love it if I got more donations. I'm able to fundraise through the end of the year, so if you happen to have a few dollars and want to help provide mental healthcare for the people who need it most, please head over to my fundraising page. I'll probably mention it a lot, because I care about Masonic Behavioral Health a lot.

In the absence of more interesting things to say, I'm just going to post my running playlist in order of artists. My theory through training was to only put songs I really, really liked listening to on my playlist, and for the marathon, in order not to repeat any songs, I've had to add some in that are sort of Tier 2. Anyway, here you go. It clocks in a 6 hours and 5 minutes JUST IN CASE.

 

Alexander

  • Truth

Andrew W.K.

  • Party Hard
  • She Is Beautiful

April March

  • Chick Habit

Bell Biv Devoe

  • Poison

Beyoncé

  • Drunk In Love
  • Partition
  • XO
  • ***Flawless
  • Video Phone
  • Countdown

Bob Marley

  • Is This Love

Bon Jovi

  • Wanted Dead or Alive

Britney Spears

  • Work Bitch

Bush

  • Machinehead

Buzzcocks

  • I Don't Mind
  • Ever Fallen In Love?

Chuck Berry

  • You Never Can Tell

The Clash

  • Rock the Casbah
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go

Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • Up Around the Bend
  • Fortunate Son

David Bowie

  • Heroes
  • Queen Bitch
  • Starman
  • Ziggy Stardust

Dead Milkmen

  • Punk Rock Girl

Dengue Fever

  • Tiger Phone Card

Diamond Rings

  • Wait & See
  • You & Me
  • Something Else
  • All Yr Songs

Dion & The Belmonts

  • Runaround Sue (by the way, between The Wanderer and Runaround Sue, Dion was a total hypocrite)

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes

  • 40 Day Dream
  • Om Nashi Me
  • Home

Erasure

  • Chains of Love
  • A Little Respect

Future Islands

  • Spirit

eorge Harrison

  • What Is Life

Janelle Monae

  • Tightrope (which, by the way, is MY FAAAAAVE running song)

Jay-Z

  • Picasso Baby
  • Somewhere in America
  • 99 Problems
  • Takeover

Jimi Hendrix

  • Foxy Lady

Joan Jett

  • Bad Reputation

Kanye West

  • Gold Digger
  • Gone

The Knife

  • Heartbeats
  • Pass This On

Kriss Kross

  • Jump

Lady GaGa

  • Applause
  • Born This Way
  • Bad Romance
  • Telephone

Led Zeppelin

  • Whole Lotta Love

Lorde

  • Tennis Court
  • 400 Lux
  • Royals

Matt & Kim

  • Daylight
  • Let's Go
  • Now

Nicki Minaj

  • Anaconda (that song fell into my training like manna from heaven)

No Doubt

  • Just A Girl
  • Sunday Morning
  • You Can Do It

OK Go

  • WTF?
  • White Knuckles
  • End Love
  • Do What You Want
  • Here It Goes Again

Pixies

  • Debaser
  • Wave of Mutilation
  • Gigantic

Regina Spektor

  • Better
  • On The Radio
  • Us

Scissor Sisters

  • I Don't Feel Like Dancin'

Sleigh Bells

  • Crown on the Ground

St. Vincent

  • Bring Me Your Loves
  • Digital Witness

Streetlight Manifesto

  • Here's to Life
  • Dear Sergio
  • We Will Fall Together
  • Somewhere in the Between
  • Punk Rock Girl (yes, I have two versions of the same GREAT song on my playlist)
  • Such Great Heights

Sugarhill Gang

  • Apache (Jump On It)

The Toadies

  • Possum Kingdom
  • Away

Wilson Pickett

  • Land of 1000 Dances

Young Fathers (btw DEAD is my favorite album of the year, hands-down)

  • No Way
  • Low
  • Get Up

The Zombies

  • This Will Be Our Year
  • She's Not There

 

Great taste in music or GREATEST EVER TASTE IN MUSIC? Only time will tell.

I Don't Want to Work, I Just Want to Watch Zelda Walkthrough Videos All Day

Rhetoric, About Me, WritingRebecca Brink

Michael got me hooked on Ocarina of Time walkthrough videos, not because he plays Zelda, but because he plays other games and watches competitive gaming. He said it was fun, so I applied that logic to my favorite video game, and now I can't stop.

OMG

(Keep in mind that I write these posts the night beforehand, which is why I'm watching Zelda walkthroughs right now and not working. Amelia, I promise I am not a slacker.)

If I'm going to comment on any piece of rhetoric today, it's going to be the idea of "needing to." "You need to do this!" That's generally only applicable regarding breathing, eating, sleeping, eliminating, etc. I don't know what's more petulant - me saying "Um, no, I really don't need to do almost anything," or someone deigning to tell me what my life requires in the first place.

It's different, obviously, when we tell ourselves what we "need" to do - which is still, in reality, not much - because we're just trying to tick things off a list, most of the time. That being said, my therapist has been working on getting me to stop talking about what I "should" or "need to" be doing, because then my reaction to not doing those things is a low-level but compounding sense of shame for not accomplishing those things. It's anxiety-inducing, in other words, and it's bad enough when I tell myself what I need to do; it's outright offensive to me when someone else prescribes something for me, especially when either they don't know me tremendously well or that something else is a matter of their personal tastes, or both.

In some ways it's a critique. But it's not a very well-argued critique, because the fallacy lies in the idea of needing. Anyone you critique doesn't need to change, at all. You can suggest that changes might be beneficial, but no one ever needs to change, existentially speaking.

Yes, Of Course I'm Angry, and It Probably Won't Change For A While

Rebecca Brink

I occasionally get critiques for writing what some readers consider unfunny vitriol, or writing in a tone that's too angry or condescending. 

I don't care.

I care about my writing consistently improving, and I care if my anger gets in the way of that, but in the grand scheme of things, I write well. I write what I'm passionate about. I find vitriol funny when it's aimed at the right people or things, and that's a valid taste to have. And yes, I am angry. I'm angry about the horrible shit that has happened to me in my life. I'm angry about the horrible shit that happens to other women and to men. I'm angry about people who say that the homeless are lazy; I'm angry at the detective who had no right to grab my phone and start going through my unrelated, irrelevant text messages to come to the personal conclusion that I wasn't raped, I'm just a slut; I'm angry at my ex for the $400 loan payments I make every month for money we borrowed together, just one more way of extending his manipulation and control over my life; I'm angry at feminist media for ignoring stories about the horrific, ongoing physical and sexual violence against Black women and Latinas that is committed every day; I'm angry at the people who hate mail me to tell me I'm a cunt; I'm angry at the men on the street who reduce me to my body when all I want to do is go to the god damned bank and now every time I wear tight clothes I feel like I have to be prepared to respond to some bullshit someone thinks I "deserve" for wearing comfortable, flexible fabrics; I'm angry that my trans friends are being harassed not only by their peers, not only by their parents, not only by employers, not only by landlords, but now also by Facebook, a tool they're supposed to be able to use to connect to the communities who actually DO support them; I'm angry that I know now that my high school rapist became a drug addict and so now I have no reason to just brush it off by saying "I hope he fixed things and didn't do that again and I wish him well in life"; I'm angry at men who corner me and other women on the train and harass us until we're forced to leave and wait for the next train, which is a crapshoot anyway; I'm angry at all the hipster douchebags who hide their racism and misogyny and bad behavior under intellectualism and theory and excuses, excuses, excuses; I'm angry that I can't just watch a god damned comedy special without anticipating an unfunny, offensive "joke" about women that really just amounts to "women are a joke" and I'm angry that there are so few specials featuring women comics.

And I'm angry at the people who gaslight me, the people who say that my anger makes whatever argument I'm making invalid. I'm angry at the people who bother to read my work, which is frequently very personal, but can't puzzle out why I make vitriolic jokes.

I'm working on my anger. Not because I care how other people receive it, not because I think it makes me a bad writer, but because it eats away at me sometimes. And in the meantime, I try to cut through the frustration to get to the core of why I'm angry, and I try to share that with people. In the meantime, I try to be funny. Believe it or not, a lot of readers like it. A lot of readers can relate to my anger and frustration and heartbreak and desperation.

I can't just switch it off. It's the result of years of living with problems that I don't know how to solve, and it's the result of knowing, deep down inside, that some of them are not resolvable. And it's a result of the fact that at this particular point in my life, I am not capable of accepting that. So I host the anger, and I try to do the best work I can with it.

Why I Give Money To the Homeless, and You Should Too

Fact CheckRebecca Brink
  1. Because I have money to give. Even when I was “broke,” I was less broke than the homeless. I still had money that I spent on unnecessary shit. So I’d have to buy unnecessary shit one less time for every time that I gave money to the homeless, which, especially considering how much money it is to them, is not that big of a deal for me.

  2. Because I don’t give a shit if they spend it on drugs. Detoxing is a fucking nightmare. IF the person you’re giving money to happens to be addicted to drugs, it should not be up to you to determine when they detox. The best-case scenario is that they do it under the supervision of trained medical professionals, not while they’re starving on the street because so many people refused to give them money that they couldn’t afford food, shelter, OR a fix. So you’re concerned for their life? Well, theoretically, by not giving them money, you’re forcing them to die struggling on the street rather than slipping away in an overdose. Which death would you prefer? How on Earth do you think a poverty-induced street detox is going to end well? Help get them through until they can get help.

  3. Because they’re adults, and they can make their own decisions with their money. I’m not going to patronize other human adults - including the mentally ill, and yes, many of the homeless are mentally ill - by pretending that I know what’s best for them as regards the way they spend their money. It’s empowering to be able to make your own decisions. They have so little empowerment because they have so little money. I care for their dignity, I care for their empowerment, I want them to succeed, so I give them their money and I give them my trust as a fellow human adult.

  4. Because the money I give them is charity, not an investment. We talk about the money we give to the homeless as if we want to see results on the money we give, as if we expect them to use a few cents and make something of themselves with it, which is the most obnoxious buy-in to the “bootstraps” bullshit I can think of. All they can do is buy themselves a roof for the night or a little bit of food. Life is expensive. They’re not going to be able to get a permanent address, a haircut, a new wardrobe, and a job with your petty change. But at least they’ll be able to survive, and if you want to consider your charity an investment, consider the fact that they’re still alive and therefore still have a chance to be the return.

  5. Because the government isn’t going to help them. For one, the police SURE aren’t going to help them. But for another, funding for homeless assistance has been steadily decreasing in America. Homeless shelters are often full, there’s nowhere to get food, and community mental health clinics are closing with increasing frequency. They do not have the resources they need, and our politicians are entrenching them in homelessness. I do not believe in this form of governance. I believe the government should be investing in the welfare of its citizens, especially those who need the most help. But since that isn’t the case, I consider it my responsibility as a human being to help them in the government’s stead. I can donate to homeless assistance agencies, and I can give them money when they ask for it.


Stop being a patronizing dick and start giving your money to the homeless. There is no moral grey area on this issue.

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Rebecca Brink

Part 1

Feminism  is a form of radical authoritarian gender structure that came to prominence in the early 20th century. Influenced by gender syndicalism, feminism originated in America in the years leading up to World War I, combining more typically right-wing positions with elements of left-wing politics, in opposition to liberalism, Marxism, and traditional conservatism. Although feminism is usually placed on the far-right on the traditional left–right spectrum, a number of academics have said that the description is inadequate.

Feminists sought to unify their gender through an authoritarian state that promoted the mass mobilization of the female community and were characterized by having leadership that initiated a revolutionary political movement aiming to reorganize the gender along principles according to feminist ideology. Feminist movements shared certain common features, including the veneration of the gender, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultra-feminism and militarism. Feminism views political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve feminine rejuvenation, and it asserts that stronger genders have the right to expand their socio-political power by displacing weaker genders.

Feminist ideology consistently invokes the primacy of the female. Leaders such as Benito Mussolini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany embodied their gender and claimed immense power. Feminism borrowed theories and terminology from socialism but replaced socialism's focus on class conflict with a focus on conflict between nations and races. Feminists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky to secure female self-sufficiency and independence through protectionist and interventionist economic policies. Following World War II, few parties have openly described themselves as feminist, and the term is usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The terms neo-feminist or post-feminist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far right with ideological similarities to, or roots in, 20th century feminist movements.***

Part 2

We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” Angela Davis.

“The doctrine of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism, and ought to have no place among Republicans and Christians.” Angelina Grimke.

“Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

“I speak not for myself but for those without voice, those who have fought for their rights, their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” Malala Yousafzai.

“The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” Audre Lorde.

“I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.” Simone de Beauvoir.

“The authority of any governing institution must stop at its citizen's skin.” Gloria Steinem.

“Once you do away with the idea of people as fixed, static entities, then you see that people can change, and there is hope.” bell hooks.

“We too often bind ourselves by authorities rather than by the truth.” Lucretia Mott.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” Frederick Douglass.

“Gender is a straitjacket for the human soul. Gender works us all over, makes enemies of the people we’re supposed to love.” Laurie Penny.