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Improv Everywhere Transform a Subway Car Into a Late Night Talk Show


For their latest stunt, Improv Everywhere (they of the 'No Pants Subway Ride' and the boardroom meeting inside the Staples office chair department) hopped on a New York subway car at Court Street and converted the train into a talk show studio complete with posters, a table, curtains and, of course, a comfy chair for guests. They even nabbed College Humor's Pat Cassels as host and The Gregory Brothers' Evan Gregory as keytar-playing bandleader. Watch a clip above showing subway passengers becoming celebrity guest stars and sharing their advice on New York and its subway system. It's like the new cash cab!

Picture Day Director Kate Melville on High School and Awful Yearbook Photos

PICTURE-DAY-DIRECTOR-6_low-res.jpgPicture Day, a refreshing new film by writer-director Kate Melville, debunks the typical clichés of high school movies: that high school is a make-it-or-break-it teenage experience and a four-year quest for popularity. The story follows Claire, the school's resident "slut," who is forced to repeat her senior year of high school. Along the way Claire struggles to define friendship, intimacy, and sex as she hangs out with a freshman she used to babysit and an older man she meets at a concert. We interviewed Melville, who started writing the film when she was a teenager, about embarrassing picture day photos, the movie and what she was like as a teenager.

So I'm just going to preface this whole interview by saying I am both a senior in high school and I really love this movie. Were you worried about being able to capture an 'authentic' teen voice or perspective when you were making the movie?

That's so cool. I actually started writing Picture Day when I was in high school. I was a teen playwright. Then tons of time passed and suddenly I'm directing it, so it's kind of this coming-of-age story that I've grown up with. Now I am 39. High school is the great equalizer in that, everybody goes through it. But it was a real hope for me that I wouldn't undermine the authenticity by getting older myself.

I feel like it's really hard to come by nowadays -- a genuine teenage voice. Was it strange to make a movie you started writing as a teenager? How did your adult self relate to your teenage self while you were making the movie?

In order to make a movie or tell an artistic story of yourself as a teenager while being one, you kind of had to get old enough to get access to a platform -- and by that point you weren't in it anymore. You weren't, like, living it. There's a real temptation to kind of package yourself, even as you get older -- to be like, 'Well that's what it was like,' to smooth it over and to tell yourself it was the best years of your life or whatever. I just tried to make something where Claire doesn't have any knowledge beyond her years, you know?

What were you like in high school?

I was always falling in love with people who had no idea I existed. I found the whole experience of high school very overwhelming. The kind of visual metaphor I like to give for the high school in Picture Day is that it's like a prison. We tried to make it crowded and overwhelming and the sounds to match that. I was definitely a sort of dorky writer kid. I think I spent a lot of time watching and I think Claire probably is who I wish I could be or I guess she says a lot of the things I didn't have the guts to say out loud.

Friendship is really the thing that I got out of high school. I didn't date a whole lot, but I'm not really sure where the heck the people I did date are right now. I made some really dear friends. I think your friendships are huge.That's why I wanted to tell a story where friendship was really the important value at the end.

Did you have any role models or people you really looked up to or idolized in high school?

Hmmm....Not necessarily role models. Friendships ended up being really, really, important. I think particularly for kids who aren't getting all of their needs met at home you can kind of figure a bunch of stuff out with your friends. I think for Claire, sex and sexuality are just part of who she is. Tatiana Maslany [who plays Claire] said this really hilarious thing in rehearsal -- sex is a conversation and Claire just talks to lots of people. I wasn't really interested in shaming her for that or having there be a big lesson in that. But what she does need to figure out is intimacy. That your actions have effects on other people. At times she's a little deliberately careless or thoughtless at how her actions are affecting [Henry]. Part of intimacy and trust is that you can have a big terrible fight with your friends and it can end with "of course I'll come get you." That was a big part of high school for me -- learning that you could really count on people and open up your feelings to your friends and that they could reciprocate that. And together, you could build something that was really meaningful and give you a really good start in life. I'm not sure if I answered your question. I'm trying to think of something cool. I guess the answer is that I was not cool in high school. I was likely unbearably pretentious. I liked a lot of Chekhov. If I was authentically my teenage self now I'd say Chekhov is my role model. I also wore bowler hats [laughs]. I was a serious drama dork.

What was your own picture day like? At my own school we don't do the whole individual portrait thing. It's just a really informal grade photo that gets snapped and we don't think about it again.

Oh, you don't do the one by one?


I had this one -- I keep putting it up on Twitter. I'll put it up again just for you. I have a perm and I look a lot like Tina Yothers from Family Ties. I'm wearing a mock-turtleneck. And I was super embarrassed by the photo. And then just last summer I was like, 'I have to frame this photo if I am making a movie called Picture Day.' We're putting all of these picture day photos on our website and its so fun because everyone is owning theirs again. People are trying to find the worst one as a way to celebrate all that was embarrassing about high school and reclaim it.

I think picture day is one of those high school events that people make such a big deal out of like with prom. There's a whole crazy preparation for it.

Totally! For me, too, picture day is a metaphor. I'm really into the combination of awkward-funny. Picture day was like the perfect realization of the awkward-funny of high school. But in high school it's all about the surface -- what you look like on the outside. So picture day is particularly cruel to people who are changing drastically every year. Your grade 9 and your grade 12 pictures are going to look really different.

Picture Day will be released to DVD in the U.S. May 21st.

Is This the Worst Rendition of the National Anthem of All Time?


This will make you real squirmy: a Canadian singer was asked to sing America's National Anthem before a hockey game and she botched it. Big time. Where's Roseanne when you need her? [via Hyper Vocal]
Screen shot 2013-05-20 at 6.14.38 PM.pngtumblr_mn2s7ar1fo1rmv76to2_250.gifCan't lie: even though the Tweet is fake, this was our reaction when we heard Yahoo bought Tumblr. [via Yahoo Buyout Meltdowns]

ICYMI: Reggie Watts made the collective Internet proud by kicking off YouTube Comedy Week with an epic Rick Roll. [via Hyper Vocal]

Here's Larry David looking unrecognizable -- and like Rick Rubin -- in a teaser trailer for HBO's Clear History. Apparently the movie also stars Jon Hamm, Eva Mendes, Bill Hader, Danny McBride and a lotta other people and is about a marketing exec who walks away from his job -- and millions of dollars -- and ultimately winds up on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. [via Uproxx]

tumblr_mn42m6DGDl1qdnibfo1_500.jpgR.I.P. pizza. [via The Clearly Dope]

tumblr_mn33x8jzEH1r3itp1o1_500.jpgSt. Dog sighting. [via Coin Farts]

tumblr_mmi1sdG4W71qfrg5po1_500.jpg"Friendship, knitting, murder...create the perfect pattern. Great fun." [via Afternoon Snooze Button]

tumblr_mmz9mkzXOW1qg8t58o1_500.jpg"Nuthin' but a G thang." [via Bunny Food]

You've already relived 1997 and 1999 and now let's take a look back at those halcyon days known as the year 1986. It was a time with lots of fun toys, unironic 8-bit graphics and Alf! [via Laughing Squid]

Balthazar Getty On the 10 Music Acts That Have Influenced Him Most

Balt SOLARDRIVE (Nick Psinakis).pngBalthazar Getty has been acting since he was 13 (starting with a lead role in Lord of the Flies, he's gone on to produce ) but, perhaps more remarkably, he was making music since even before that. Over the last twenty five years, Getty's helped produce a number of different hip-hop and electronic projects, most notably his own indie rock band, Ringside. Most recently, the actor-cum-producer has embarked on a new project that's the culmination of three weeks in which he taught himself Pro Tools from scratch and recorded tracks with musician friends. The result, Solardrive, features a slew of styles ranging from funk to hip-hop and electronica, and guest vocals by folks like Ozomatli mutli-instrumentalist/lead vocalist Asru Sierra and Rain Phoenix. Taken as a whole, Getty considers the record to be a reflection of the albums and artists who most influenced his adolescence and musical "coming of age" -- reflections that bring to mind his love for acts as varied as Prince and Massive Attack. Along those lines, we asked Getty to reflect on the ten artists that have influenced him most. Read his answers below.

Wu-Tang Clan

"You had never seen anything like them before -- nine of the grimiest but coolest guys you had ever seen coming out onstage. It felt like punk or rock. They were breaking the rules. I went to their first show. I actually had a group at the time called Starship of Fools and we might've even opened up for them at this place called Glam Slam, which is downtown. They were completely uncompromising with their records. They didn't have hits the way artists chase after them now."


"When you think about their song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and the build-up, it's one of those timeless songs and so moody. The first two minutes are just this baseline and drums. Wherever you are when it comes on, it's just spell-binding."

Bob Marley

"I was even ridiculous enough to get a Bob Marley tattoo in my teen years. It was the cover of the Burnin' album, which is a reverse negative of Marley's face -- a sort of abstract version. For me, he was more than a singer or a songwriter: he transcended everything. I almost feel like he was a modern-day prophet -- we had him and then we lost him. It was almost biblical in a way. His charisma, his energy, his appeal -- he stands out as one of the greatest...hands down."

Nina Simone

"Those vocals. And the stories she told and her bravery and the haunting songs. When the songs come on, you feel it. That voice just pierces through you."

Massive Attack

"Those guys did in the '90s what people are doing now -- with disco, dance, electronic...[blending that with] rap, reggae, and soul songs. They were mixing genres very early on."


"I remember being a young teenager and getting their cassettes. I was 13 and in Jamaica shooting Lord of the Flies, which was my first movie, and these two twins from Texas had that first Eazy-E album. You had never heard those lyrics or anything like that before. They had this swagger and, obviously Dre, one of the best producers ever, who was producing a very West Coast sound. Being from L.A., they were kind of like the home team. They're still a huge part of the movement today. I mean, who doesn't love N.W.A.?"


"They always made their own records -- it was always unwavering. When they dropped "Bombs Over Baghdad," or when they did their double CD, the way they incorporated instrumentation and tempos and a production you had never heard [before], harmonies and their raps, it was so authentic. Still some of my favorite hip-hop stuff. When "Ms. Jackson" came out, they took it to a whole other level. People are still singing that song in, like, Dubai. It's a classic."


"As a kid, Purple Rain -- the movie and the soundtrack -- was gospel. He's one of the greats. There's not many like him. He's really a prodigy guitar player."


"Even her last album Soldier of Love -- she was gone forever and then she comes out with this bitchin' video and that song with the military drums on it and she's still as beautiful as ever and killing it. And then if you think of her older records, those were the makeout CDs when you were a teenager and shit. "No Ordinary Lover" and all those great, old songs. You'd light your candles, the breeze is blowing through the windows and you'd put on your Sade."

Curtis Mayfield

"That voice. He was singing for a generation. There still is lots of racism today but in his time, it was when America was supposedly coming out of it and he captured that. That voice and those feelings -- he's one of the greats. Fifty percent of the biggest hip-hop songs are samples of Curtis Mayfield. He spawned a generation of rappers -- any one of those '90s hip-hop albums is gonna have a Curtis song."

Solardrive is out now via Getty's own label, PurpleHaus

Photo by Nick Psinakis

Le1f Gets Steamy In New Video, "Spa Day"


Beautiful Person 2013 Le1f has a new video for "Spa Day" and, appropriately enough, it takes place during a raucous Night Spa party at Bed Stuy's Body By Brooklyn. For those uninitiated, the spa shenanigans (twerking in a steam room, cocktails in a sauna) might look like they're staged but, having attended one of these monthly parties ourselves, we can say with good authority that the vibes portrayed are completely accurate. Watch Le1f detox (and, uh, "re-tox"?) with friends like Heems (who's also his manager), Lakutis, Ian Isiah and more.

"Spa Day" appears on Fly Zone, out now via Greedhead

Note From Kim: Going Back to the Land -- and Posting About It

kimsnote.jpgIt fascinates me to no end as I watch the newest generation of digital native super-hipsters embracing what many are calling today's "new industrial revolution" -- an age filled with futuristic innovations like 3-D printers and assembly line-working robots -- with such a fast-spreading borderline obsession for low technology. Yes folks, the yin-yang cocktail of high-tech mixed with low-tech is trending with the first generation of kids to come of age never knowing life without computers. Theirs is a brave new world filled with Pinterest-ing food foragers, Etsy-centric craft-sourcing enthusiasts, DIY apps, tweeting urban farmers, folksy food sites like scanwiches.com and online micro-granting communities for meal-sharing. These are kids with their groovy-looking handmade slingshots and artisanal painted axes crammed into their rucksacks snugly next to their iPhones and MacBook Airs. Because of course they need to be able to Instagram those pale-blue and pink eggs from that backyard urban henhouse or photograph food porn from that 25-year-old Noma-trained chef who just served them locally collected fried moss sprinkled with fresh-picked baby nasturtium blossoms, salmon roe (from a freshly caught fish) and seaweed dust. The irony never ends.

kimsnote4.jpgRabbit Island (rabbit-island.org)

Recently I heard about a young Brooklynite who was cruising the real estate section of Craigslist and stumbled upon a listing for a remote never-been-touched island in the middle of Lake Superior. So he bought it. Why? Because he was inspired to turn the isle into a small utopian project: an off-the-grid sustainable solar-powered residency for art, architecture, science and even food. He named the new wild-forested island (which he snagged for a mere 140k) Rabbit Island, and, wouldn't you know, RI now has a Tumblr page, a Facebook page, Flickr page and a Twitter account (@rabbit_island). Oh, and don't forget their Kickstarter campaign, which, so far, has successfully raised enough dough to build the first sustainable structure on this undeveloped island. I love seeing this crazy connection between future and past. It's like The Flintstones meet The Jetsons.

I also love that in the midst of the skyrocketing growth of digital media and plummeting support for the printed page, there seem to be more young indie print magazines of all shapes and sizes popping up than ever before. These are thoughtful zines, covering low-tech topics from heritage farming to ice cream-making to artisanal product research with lovely names like Kinfolk, Inventory and Gather. Recently browsing in some of the cool shops that sell magazines like these, I noticed a lot of other low-tech stock, from the hand painted axes and folding wooden rulers for sale at New York's Best Made Company to a primitive hand-cranked coffee bean grinder at Foggy Notion in San Francisco to a hand-carved wooden slingshot from General Store in Los Angeles.

kimsnote3.jpg"Courage" American Felling Axe from Best Made Company

The future might be now. But you know what? Sometimes it doesn't look so different from the past. As an art student forty years ago, I worked for the futurist architect Paolo Soleri helping pour concrete slabs for Arcosanti, the utopian sustainable "city of the future" he was building in the middle of Arizona's pristine Sonoran desert. We lived off of the organic food we grew in our garden and every day I spent hours straightening bent nails so they could be reused. When I moved to New York in the late '70s, I remember meeting Wildman Steve Brill who was (and still is!) obsessed with foraging for edibles in New York's Central Park. He was actually arrested by the NYPD in 1986 for eating a dandelion in Central Park (I kid you not) and later ended up working for the city, leading tours and teaching the public about the abundant edible wildlife that grew in the middle of our own city. We started Paper in the mid-'80s to connect our rich local creative community together and extend it to other places. Decades later, new technology has enabled PAPERMAG.com and our social networks to reach much farther around the world to more creatives and like-minded enthusiasts than we ever thought possible. But the essence of what we do and stand for is still very much in line with what it was almost thirty years ago. In much the same way, Paolo Soleri's idealistic spirit is not so far away from the Rabbit Island kids, nor is Wildman Steve Brill's from the Foragers City Table that opened on West 22nd Street in Chelsea just last year.

kimsnote_edit.jpgLeft to right: Hand-carved slingshot from General Store; Hand-cranked Camano Coffee Mill from Foggy Notion.

I truly believe that human nature remains the same no matter how high- or low-tech our tools are. We will always yearn for a like-minded community to surround, comfort and inspire us and many of us will continue to long to return to the simplicity of life on our earth before we fucked it all up. What the next generation of kids is confirming to us loudly and clearly these days is that all this amazing and futuristic technology that surrounds us will never change the world without great creative and idealistic people who are dreaming big and figuring out how to utilize the potential of these amazing advances.

Johanna Fateman on the Riot Grrrl Movement + Images from "The Riot Grrrl Collection"


RiotGirl_cover.jpgNext month, The Feminist Press at CUNY will publish "The Riot Grrrl Collection," a new book of selected zines, posters, flyers, journals and letters housed in NYU's Fales Library Riot Grrrl Collection. And on May 29th, Lisa Darms (editor of "The Riot Grrrl Collection" and Senior Archivist at the Fales Library and Special Collections at NYU), Ramdasha Bikceem (GUNK Zine), Johanna Fateman (Le Tigre) and Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill/Le Tigre) will be discussing the book and their perspectives on the movement at the Fales Library. We've gathered some of our favorite ephemera pictured in the book, from zines like Hanna's Bikini Kill and Fateman's Artaud-Mania, to the flyers and prints of Bratmobile/PeeChees/Frumpies drummer Molly Neuman, artist Becca Albee of Excuse 17 and Heartless Martin, and artist/Mr. Lady Records founder Tammy Rae Carland. We've also posted Fateman's opening essay from "The Riot Grrrl Collection" below, with permission. Make sure to click on each image to see it full-size.

My Riot Grrrl
by Johanna Fateman

"The Sylvia Plath story is told to girls who write," Kathleen Hanna sings on "Bloody Ice Cream." It's a fast, noisy track on Reject All American, Bikini Kill's final album, released in 1996 -- the year the meteoric riot grrrl phenomenon seemed to have run its course, and the year used as the approximate end date for the Fales Riot Grrrl Collection. Kathleen and I had been friends for a few years then, and in a few more we would start the feminist band Le Tigre together, but to me, the burst of anguish on "Bloody Ice Cream" marked the end of an era. As riot grrrl chapters dispersed, and the militant youth movement receded in the public imagination, the short song reiterated the high stakes of girl revolution. Kathleen -- an iconic figure of riot grrrl from the beginning -- switches between enraged shout singing and talking, settling on a menacing, and maybe hopeful, singsong delivery for the final line. "We are turning cursive letters into knives," she proclaims, suggesting a radical alternative to Plath's grim fate.

By 1996, the use of girlish script as a subversive weapon was not just a feminist fantasy; Kathleen's lyric alluded to a literary and visual style that she had helped to innovate. Riot grrrl, in a conscious response to second-wave feminists' rejection of the word "girl," reclaimed it with pride -- and also in parody. Songs, performances, and fashion statements mocked the depictions of feminine innocence and compliance served to us in the face of discrimination, exploitation, and endemic sexual abuse. And in a new tradition of self-publishing, girls used loopy cursive, hearts, stars, photo-booth portraits, and kitsch images (of housewives, superheroes, schoolgirls, and cheerleaders) to set off type or handwritten communiqués, cultural criticism, fiction, and philosophy. The feminist punk zines of the '90s, with their DIY aesthetics, humor, and raw truth telling, were a crucial counterpart to the urgent and infectious music associated with riot grrrl. They were also instrumental to the pre-Internet formation of local scenes and an international network of angry-girl punks.

As I sifted through my personal collection of zines, flyers, videotapes, and correspondence to donate to the Fales Collection in 2009, I discovered a few gaps in my archive. Some of my own disavowed young work was missing, as were a couple of the zines that I recall vividly -- I must have given them to other girls -- but mostly I had carefully saved this stuff: my documentation of the secret art world that defined my late teens and early twenties. The consciously ephemeral material of riot grrrl, like the movement itself, was mythic in its day. Zines, photocopied in small batches and informally distributed, were made to address a moment or to build a scene -- not to stand the test of time. Mostly, their young authors let them fall out of circulation quickly. This book, as a sampling of riot grrrl's feverish output, demonstrates the difficulties that have accompanied attempts to define the movement since its heyday -- "riot grrrl" was a self-designation available to anyone, and a label shrugged off by some girls who appeared to be at the center of its activities. I've used the term loosely, to encompass a broad strain of third-wave feminism that took root in punk scenes. In retrospect, it's the best descriptor for the scene that radicalized me, and shaped my enduring attitudes toward collaboration, activism, and friendship.

Whatever riot grrrl became -- a political movement, an avant-garde, or an ethos -- it began as a zine. Titled in the blown-up type of a cursive typewriter, the collectively produced riot grrrl first appeared in July of 1991 in Washington, DC, where the Northwest-based bands Bikini Kill and Bratmobile had convened for the summer. With like-minded discontents in the male-dominated scene, band members tested the waters for feminist action with this weekly newsletter. The first issue establishes a signature mix of passionate and pragmatic content, capturing the frustration of the time, and the allure of a new feminist counterculture. A casually written but serious statement of intent bemoans "the general lack of girl power in society, and the punk rock underground specifically," promising the mini-zine will keep readers apprised of the nascent girl scene's coming events. "Maybe," it continues, "we'll spotlight 1 or 2 special girls who make our lives a little easier to stand." By the end of the month, a meeting at a nearby punk activist house heralded the start of the DC chapter of riot grrrl. And at the end of the summer, the bands brought their new strategies for grassroots organizing back to Olympia, Washington.

That fall, I was seventeen, and left my parents house in Berkeley, California for college in Portland, Oregon. As I shook off the sexist indignities of high school, I drifted into punk and found the women's center on a campus dotted with fluorescent Queer Nation stickers. I was unaware then of the waves feminists were making in the underground music scene just a two-hour drive away, but the emergence of feminism's third wave was palpable, and the events that set the stage for riot grrrl's ascendance quickly unfolded. In October, Anita Hill's testimony in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings galvanized students around the issue of sexual harassment (my college had no policy to address complaints). By Thanksgiving, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a hit, putting a spotlight on the band's Northwest punk origins; and for Christmas, I gave my mom Naomi Wolf's feminist best seller The Beauty Myth. Its argument -- that escalating standards of female beauty constitute an insidious cultural campaign to undermine women's political gains since the 1970's -- supported my growing conviction that the progressive establishment of my childhood had congratulated itself prematurely on the arrival of a post-feminist era.

The next summer, I got the lease for an off-campus house in Portland and waited for my friends to return for the fall semester. One of them excitedly brought with her a copy of a Seattle Weekly newspaper featuring a cover article about riot grrrl. I studied it with incredulous pleasure before cutting it up to make a flyer for our girls-only back-to-school dance party. That house, with its roomy basement, rose bushes, possum infestation, and view of the neighboring cemetery, came to be called the Curse.

We went to see girl bands play when they came to town, and ordered music from the Olympia-based labels Kill Rock Stars and K Records -- Mecca Normal LPs, the first Bikini Kill EP, a Heavens to Betsy cassette and their split seven inch with Bratmobile. Teen pixelvision filmmaker Sadie Benning (who would later also become my bandmate in Le Tigre) stayed with us after her screening at the Portland Art Museum, and so did her friends, the Toronto queercore band Fifth Column (who were then touring with musician and Chainsaw author Donna Dresch). Miranda July and I, best friends from high school, made a short zine called Snarla in Love during winter break back in Berkeley, and gave it to girls at a show at 924 Gilman, the local all-ages punk club.

I think at that time we had never seen a riot grrrl zine -- that is, one that identified itself with the movement -- and so Snarla, in the beginning (the zine became a six-issue collaboration) reacted to the zines, mostly by boys, that we did know about. It was punk-by-association and in style, but Miranda and I were determined to present our own content distinct from what we viewed as standard zine fodder. In the place of scene reports, records reviews, and travel diaries, we asserted a more abstract world of memory and self-reflection, filtered through our new, unforgiving feminist analyses. We'd soon learn, though, as we came into contact with the confessional writing associated with riot grrrl, that we weren't alone in our introspective approach.

When I met Kathleen, she was collecting zines for Riot Grrrl Press, an ambitious new girl-run distributor that carried a small catalogue of feminist zines. She made an announcement about it after a Bikini Kill show at the X-Ray Cafe in Portland, and I handed her a copy of Snarla. We became friends, and while Bikini Kill was on hiatus for a year, she moved into the attic of the Curse (the flyer on page 165 is for a party we threw in the basement). The zines in her collection -- like her band mate Tobi Vail's Jigsaw, and Girl Germs, made by Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman of Bratmobile -- included ardent, funny reportage on other girls' projects, and tackled serious issues in a conversational style.

Vail's essay in the first issue of Bikini Kill (the band's eponymous zine), which exposes the subtle sidelining of girls in the author's underground milieu (and debunks the popular parable of Yoko Ono and the Beatles's break-up), is exemplary of riot grrrl's social critique, while another trajectory of the movement's political thought was particularly self-reflexive: It emphasized the need to confront one's own participation -- material and psychic -- in the diseased parent culture. Grrrls put the colonized mind under the microscope, from the imperatives listed in Kathleen's handwriting on the early "Trust" flyer ("Resist the internalization of capitalism, the reducing of people + oneself to commodities meant to be consumed") to Nomy Lamm's unflinching analysis in her influential zine I'm So Fucking Beautiful. Lamm's acutely vulnerable critique of fatphobia in society extends to her punk feminist community, and most profoundly, to her own inner dialogue. Such challenges to cultural conditioning were a constant in riot grrrl's oeuvre, but their tone took a turn after the first years. In a flyer for the Seattle Girl Convention of 1996 the welcoming language of the early "Girl Talk" flyers (which publicized feminist discussion groups) is gone. It's replaced by a warning: During the convention there will be "no hiding under safety blankets and privilege," the text demands, "cos being safe = not having to recognize or take responsibility for yer/our own privilege and ways you/we oppress others."

The examination of privilege within riot grrrl grew out of a fundamental question that many of us would grapple with: How could girls -- drawn from punk's predominantly white demographic, who relied on that scene's resources and aesthetics -- forge a truly inclusive, revolutionary agenda? The movement was sharply critiqued in its day for failing in this regard. Riot grrrl was not, however, all white: punk girls of color were also in the scene, making art grounded in their experiences, and providing a crucial counter to white grrrl's often solipsistic discussions of race.

Frustration with the white-centered culture of riot grrrl was very apparent by 1995. Mimi Nguyen, in a call for submissions to her zine Evolution of a Race Riot, writes pointedly of the need for "taking back the conversation @ race & re-centering it around ourselves, not as voiceless victims or objects-to-be-rescued of white punk antiracist discourses." Some narratives attribute the dissolution of the movement to such rifts, and indeed, challenges to racism and class bias within riot grrrl did prompt existential crises for some local chapters. But these necessary growing pains were paired with fatigue: From early on, distorted portrayals of riot grrrl in the mainstream press drew converts as they narrowed its image -- showing the movement as both homogenous and hierarchical, always focusing on a few predictable "leaders." Complicated and seemingly intractable personal-political dynamics arose in part from this disconcerting attention. For many of the young women initially involved with riot grrrl, the result was their unsentimental shedding of the term "riot grrrl."

In 1994, I escaped the Northwest to attend art school in New York. My first friends in the city were Ramdasha Bikceem, author of the zine Gunk, and some of the women who had been active earlier in Riot Grrrl NYC. In this new circle of artist friends, I felt a post-riot grrrl sense of possibility -- a shared drive to make politically engaged work in a DIY spirit, but not only for an insular punk scene. From this came my zine Artaud-Mania...the diary of a fan, in 1997, a work indebted to Kathleen's My Life with Evan Dando Popstar for its conceptual confessional tone, and its use of ironic fandom as a vehicle for cultural critique. Artaud-Mania is evidence that, by this time, even if my commitment to radical feminism hadn't faded, I approached my riot grrrl past with a measure of self-parody.

Reading through this collection, though, I'm brought back to the time when each girl's photocopied missive was a revelation, and much of riot grrrl's meaning was derived from the simple fact of its existence. As a teen, it astounded me to discover that girls were organizing to fight their exclusion and silencing, and that they were doing it with intoxicating subcultural style. Two decades later, the imprisonment of members of the Russian feminist band Pussy Riot, who -- also astoundingly -- cite riot grrrl as an inspiration for their punk music and guerilla performances, drives home the breadth of the movement's influence. For those who love riot grrrl for its music, or know it only from journalistic accounts, this book will give its legend some missing detail: Here are some of our souvenirs from a bold experiment, the cursive letters we turned into knives in the '90s.

Print of Molly Neuman Drumming, Tinuviel Sampson, circa 1993. The Molly Neuman Riot Grrrl Collection.riot7.jpgBikini Kill no. 1, Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, and Kathi Wilcox, 1990. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot8.jpgriot47.jpg Thorn no. 2, Kelly Marie Martin, 1992. The Kelly Marie Martin Riot Grrrl Collection.
riot9.jpgI (heart) Amy Carter no. 1, Tammy Rae Carland, 1992. The Tammy Rae Carland I (heart) Amy Carter Collection.
Bikini Kill no. 2, circa 1991. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot18.jpgFlyer, author unknown, undated. The Becca Albee Riot Grrrl Collection.
riot19.jpgFlyer from the Riot Grrrl Convention, LA, 1995. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot20.jpgFlyer from Riot Grrrl Orange County, author unknown, undated. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot21.jpgFlyer with Bikini Kill tour dates, undated. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot22.jpgFlyer for Huggy Bear + Bikini Kill, Bill Karren, 1993. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot23.jpgWhat Is Riot Grrrl Anyway?, collectively authored, 1993. The Becca Albee Riot Grrrl Collection.
riot26.jpgMy Life with Evan Dando, Popstar, Kathleen Hanna, 1993. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot35.jpgHeavens to Betsy flyer, Tracy Sawyer and Corin Tucker, 1994. The Becca Albee Riot Grrrl Collection.
riot36.jpgDraft Record Liner Lyrics, "Rebel Girl," circa 1993. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot5.jpgArtaud-Mania: The Diary of a Fan, Johanna Fateman, January 1997. The Johanna Fateman Riot Grrrl Collection.
riot39.jpgThe Official Kathleen Hanna Newsletter, Kathleen Hanna, 1996. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot41.jpg Bikini Kill no. 2, circa 1991. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot4.jpgBikini Kill moshing tips flyer circa 1995. The Kathleen Hanna Papers.
riot44.jpgI'm So Fucking Beautiful no. 2, Nomy Lamm, 1994. The Tammy Rae Carland Zine Collection.

We've Been Listening to Beyoncé's New Track "Grown Woman" All Day


...Or at least I've been listening to it (and on repeat). After being teased in a Pepsi commercial (which spawned the Beyoncé GIF of all Beyoncé GIFs), having its official release be delayed, and being performed multiple times on the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, the full version of Beyoncé's new song "Grown Woman" has been leaked in full online. Thank god the Huffington Post got the full audio and we finally get to hear the entire track the way it's meant to be heard. And what a treat for an otherwise low-energy Tuesday afternoon. Produced by Timbaland and co-written by The-Dream, the beat of "Grown Woman" isn't like anything we've heard from Bey before (even though the lyrics most definitely are). Listen and get acquainted with the summertime jam.

Update: The Huffington Post took it down. Here it is on YouTube, embedded above.

Mr. Mickey's Top 10 Reasons to Love Paula Deen

Mr. Mickey just returned from Savannah where he attended the SCAD senior fashion show and, while he was there, he fell in love with Paula Deen all over again. Below, he shares ten reasons to love the Queen of Butter.

Paula Deen 1.jpg
1. Her signature dessert is Gooey Butter Cake. Anybody who leads with the word 'gooey' can't be all bad.

2. When I say 'Paula Deen' fast with a southern accent it sounds like Willadeene which is the name of my favorite of Dolly Parton's sisters.

3. She has an Uncle named Bubba.

pauladeen2.jpg4. Every meal at Deen's restaurant, the Lady & Sons, includes a garlic cheese biscuit and a hoe cake. We're not 100% sure what a hoe cake is but it's tastes yumzy.

5. She suffered from agoraphobia so it's a miracle she's even able to leave the house let alone make yummy, high-fat, Southern treats!

6. She was once the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses parade in 2011. That's something.

pauladeen3.jpg7. People tell my mother she looks like Paula.

8. The security lady at Savannah-Hilton Head airport told me Paula comes through there all the time and is just as sweet in person as she is on TV. I believe her.

9. She's a silver fox!

10. She sells Paula Deen butter-flavored lip balm in her gift shop.

The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas Talk Hot Pants and Booties In New Clip


Our friends over at Bib + Tuck, a new site that lets its members sell ("bib") and buy ("tuck") each other's clothes and accessories using virtual currency, spent an afternoon vintage browsing with the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas. For those unfamiliar, the IFs, Valerie and Jean, are two fashion bloggers who, as they put it, are "growing old with verve" with some killer style. In the short clip above, the two reminisce about punk-and-disco-era New York, wearing hot pants with, uh,  questionable embroidery work and "low booties." For any fans of Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style (which has featured the IF gals) or Iris Apfel, this clip's a fun little watch.

All of Arrested Development's Running Gags


A super-cut of all the recurring jokes on Arrested Development. Gene Parmesan better pop up in the new episodes. Ahhh! [PleatedJeans]

bachmanbook.gif Merry Christmas, Michele Bachmann is the inspiration behind the new erotic novel Fires of Siberia, about a red-state presidential candidate whose plane crashes in Siberia and is rescued in the wilderness by a sexy stranger named Steadman Bass. STEADMAN BASS. Here's a very real excerpt from publisher Badlands International. More over at the Atlantic

"Who are you? What's your name?"

"Steadman Bass," he answered flatly, yanking the glove from his hand and thrusting his paw toward her.

They shook hands, and Danielle felt the hot vitality of his blood. His hand was surging with warmth. His fingers were weathered like a workman's, but his touch betrayed a grace and kindness his face otherwise kept guarded. She wanted to stay fastened to him, so essential was the heat.

But she let go.

And the man walked hastily away.

tumblr_mn627kfxjS1rtu0xao1_1280.png360 boner alert. [LaughterKey]

tumblr_mn22l2dJTG1sn7lxto1_1280.jpgUpdate: Here's Bill Murray being perfect. We'll check in on what he's doing in a few more weeks, but it will probably be something perfect. [ReasonsMySonIsCrying via RatsOff]

Sweet Jesus. [Mlkshk]

tumblr_mn5unilob51qzmowao1_500.png Adam J. Kurtz's "What Is This Unknown Pleasure" t-shirts are now on pre-sale. Run, don't walk! [jkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjk]

tumblr_mn6rdwFBEg1qe7dlao1_1280.jpgLeave Britney alone. [AMajor7]

Tough morning? Let this cat massaging a snoring pug soothe your soul. (Just ignore that weird crackling sound in the background.) [TastefullyOffensive]

Watch Charli XCX Cover the Backstreet Boys'"I Want It That Way"


British songstress and master hair-flipper proved that she's just as obsessed with the Backstreet Boys' classic "I Want It That Way" as we are (and everyone else on the planet is) by performing her more ambient version of it at Borderline Music in Chicago yesterday. Check out the video of her masterful cover above. Your move Vivian Girls.

A Jordanian Writer Tells Us About Amman's Music and Nightlife Scenes


Roba Al-Assi



Where do you live?


What do you do there?


What Jordanian bands or DJs are you obsessed with that you think we should know about?

El Morabba3 are my favorite Jordanian band. To me, they specialize in 'uncomfortable comfort music.' I love them. I also love Jordanian rapper El Far3i, for his gorgeous energy.

How did you discover them?

I ended up going to [El Morabba3's] debut performance last year at a gorgeous theatre called Masrah IlBalad in the old part of town. The show was accompanied with kick-ass VJing. Here is footage from their debut performance.

What does their music sound like?

Their music is all in Arabic, but I guess it can be described as post-rock. Their music has intense melodies submerged in haunting sounds, making it truly different from most other sounds coming from the region. The bulk of their tracks [sound like] nightmares [and reflect] the tough realities of an Arab world that is corrupt, polluted, and seemingly hopeless. In a song called "Tarweej" ("Promotion"), the lyrics go: "Where am I supposed to revolt? Where am I supposed to revolt? / Who will change the scene when the one responsible is sitting like stone counting cash?"  With El Morabba3, every note is so tasty and rich that you can't possibly do anything else as you listen. Haunting melodies, meticulously arranged lyrics, and an overwhelming sense of epic-ness are emotionally draining to the listener. With El Morabba3, there's not much to do but sit back and enjoy it as you take it in. My favorite tracks are "Taht il Ard" ("Beneath the Ground"), "Hada Tani" ("Someone Else") and "Cigara Abel Manoom" ("A Cigarette Before We Move").

Where are the cool places to see live music in Amman?

The TBA Collective throws some of the best events in town. They aren't confined to one place, but most of their events happen in ancient discotheque-style bars in l'Weibdeh, one of the oldest parts of town. They book funk/soul/groove as far as the DJing is concerned, and their live music numbers are usually quite eclectic. Their last event included reggae, slam poetry, pop, and soul. The crowd is just as eclectic, but it's mostly the people who are out to have fun.

The Corner's Pub also has fantastic live performances, my favorite being the weekly Shadi and Firas gigs. They sing Arabized Western pop music, like ABBA hits in Arabic. They're awesome. Here's their Arabic version of [Leonard Cohen's] "Suzanne." I love them cause they can get ANYONE AND EVERYONE dancing.

Describe your perfect night out in Amman.

It's a lot of lazing around under the Mediterranean sun during the day in the summer, followed by a lot of drinking at night. When there's a show, a concert, a play, or any other cultural activity, it takes place between the sun and the drinking. I love starting my night at Negresco, an amazing old hole-in-the-wall pub with happy hour and a gorgeous garden. Anyone visiting Jordan must try a Mexican beer, a refreshing concoction of lemon, beer, and salt. I also love rooftop barbecues at friends' houses. Amman is very hilly, so we get gorgeous sunsets and beautiful weather. Nothing beats a good old Arabic lamb-chop barbecue combined with araq, our local alcoholic drink. It's similar to Greek ouzu, and gives you this lovely dreamy buzz. You can't end a long day without going to one of the old restaurants in downtown Amman, where you get cheap, good, late-night food. I also love driving outside the city for a quick picnic (even if it's just cold cuts). The beauty of Jordan is its wide geographical diversity in a confined area, so you can choose to spend the day in the desert of Wadi Rum, the forests of Ajloun, the water-filled valleys of Wadi Mujib, or the ancient ruins of Jerash.

What's your favorite night spot in Amman?

My favorite place in town is a tea bar called Turtle Green on Rainbow Street in Jabal Amman. I love that place, it's like home. It's where I go to read, celebrate New Year's, meet with friends, or recharge. They also make the best damn hibiscus drink in the world. Otherwise, I tend to prefer the small pubs, because they combine the occasional live gig with affordable drinks, the ability to carry on a good conversation, as well as the serendipity of random people in a place where you're a regular. I try my best to avoid clubs (unless it's the random party at non-club venues like the ones organized by the TBA Collective) because the Jordanian clubbing crowd is horribly pretentious. No one dances... everyone wears their nicest outfit and stands there looking pretty. In terms of cool neighborhoods, I hang out in what I call the "Golden Amman triangle" which is l'Weibdeh - Jabal Amman - Shmeisani. All my favorite places are in l'Weibdeh and Jabal Amman (and these two hills meet in downtown Amman), two of the oldest parts of town. They have lots of character, and the crowd is easy going. Shmeisani isn't really that cool but that's where I live so I literally never venture out of the triangle. l'Weibdeh is particularly awesome because it's very niche. It's the art district (sort of), so it's where all the galleries are at. There's also this little t-shirt store called Jo Bedu, which I love to bits.

What's a nightclub you would NEVER go to in Amman?

Every time I go to Flow, one of the most popular clubs in town, I always swear I will never go again. They manage to lure me with their live music though. I hate Flow because it's loud, obnoxious, and pretentious.

Check out Roba's band and DJ recs:

El Morabba3 -- "Taht il Ard" ("Beneath the Ground")

-- "MEEM"

Check out Roba's nightlife listings:

The Corner's Pub, 2nd Circle, Amman

Negresco, Al Ba'Ouniyah Street, 52, Jebel Webdeh, Amman,11191

Turtle Green, 46 Rainbow St., First Circle, Jabal Amman, Amman

More from our 'No Sleep Til...' series including nightlife and music in Paris, Mumbai, Seoul, Bogotá and more!

Every Runway Look Worn by RuPaul In Less Than 3 Minutes


If you've never watched an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, here's your chance to catch up on RuPaul's fabulous lewks. Our friends over at World of Wonder have strung together every single one of Ru's runway outfits from the show's first five seasons. That should be 71 looks as of May 6, so be sure to take notes. And congratulations on the show's renewal for a sixth season!

The Lonely Island's Top Ten Funny People to Follow on Twitter

LonelyIsland-twitter-people.jpgAfter appearing on our cover (and while rolling out hilarious new music every week from their upcoming record, The Wack Album) the Lonely Island guys -- a.k.a. Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone -- found time to add to our exhaustive coverage of the funniest people to follow on Twitter. So without further ado, here are the Lonely Island's picks for the top ten funny people to follow on Twitter:

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.21.59 PM.png1) Emily Heller (@MrEmilyHeller):
A hilarious stand-up with good "twitter-game."

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.24.44 PM.png2) Alex Baze (@bazecraze):
SNL "Weekend Update: head writer. One of the most clever and delicious "peeps" online.

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.29.17 PM.png3) Neal Brennan (@nealbrennan):
"Even when Neal gets dark, he's hilarious.  Scratch that, ESPECIALLY when he gets dark." - Jorma's mom.

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.31.18 PM.png4) Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman):
Just an all around "Cool Cat" (aka "Lady" aka "Cat Lady," PSYCH! Sarah's a dog person!)

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.30.21 PM.png5) E-40 (@E40):
Yay Area slang master extraordinaire. Underdig him. PS., he is a rapper.

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.20.11 PM.png6) Al Yankovic (@alyankovic):
The master of the comedy song/sweetest man on the planet.

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 3.40.04 PM.png7) Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman):
A comedy hero. Posts the weirdest/funniest photos.

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.50.38 PM.png8) Electric Guest (@ElectricGuest):
Great band, great dudes. Fun fact: One of them MIGHT be Jorma's brother! It's not the one you think! (It is.)

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.54.49 PM-different.png9) Colin Quinn (@iamcolinquinn):
One of the best in "da tweet game."  Also was great on HBO's Girls. You guys see him on there?  He was f-ing great!

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.59.40 PM-diff.png10) Hannibal Buress (@hanninbalburess):
A friend from SNL and one of the best stand-ups out there. Out there in America, we mean. (Let's be honest, his jokes are crap compared to the jokes they're doing in Belgium right now. But in America, he's aces.)

The Lonely Island and Solange Made a Song About Semicolons


The Lonely Island have had a busy day: not only did they tell us who makes them laugh out loud on Twitter, they released a song with Solange about our favorite punctuation mark: the semicolon. The rules of semicolon use are famously tricky, and "SEMICOLON (feat. Solange)" is not helping: the song is just one long, hilarious stream of (perfectly true) statements that -- spoiler alert -- should actually use colons. Sorry to ruin the ending, but really, it's the semicolon-filled journey that had us giggle. Watch above.

Conan O'Brien Made an Awesome Video Response to Taylor Swift's Video "22"


Conan made a video response to Taylor Swift's music video "22" in which he boards the Straight Talk Express and tells viewers what being 22 is really like. (Or...actually, what it was just like for him.) "You sit in your boxer shorts and learn guitar chords. By yourself." [via HuffPo Comedy]

This guy filmed himself in his underwear doing an interpretive dance to the Dixie Chicks' "Landslide" when he was 20-years-old and now, ten years later, he's revisited those hot, hot moves and synced the two videos together. Our takeaway? He spent the last ten years getting really cute. [Thanks Max!]

tumblr_mn63q4Or0Q1rd10xoo1_400.gifScoot, scoot, Hugh Jackman! [via Tall Whitney]

Here's your facepalm of the day, courtesy of CNN's Wolf Blitzer: in what we can only assume was Wolf's attempt to "connect to the Red State demographic," he asked a survivor of the Oklahoma tornado whether she "thanked the lord." The woman's response? "I'm actually an atheist." Ugh, Wolf, what are you doing? [via Hyper Vocal]

tumblr_mn7sed5YGq1r7gjrwo1_500.gifPlease forgive us. [via Coin Farts]

jgl_donjon.gifThe trailer for Joseph Gordon-Levitt's new movie, Don Jon, is out and it shows JGL playing a Jersey-accented musclehead with an addiction to porn. Scarlett Johansson plays a Jersey Shore-esque love interest and, awesomely, Tony Danza's cast as JGL's dad. Unfortunately embedding hasn't been enable yet but you can watch it HERE.

tumblr_mn2e6sE2rA1r3gb3zo3_400.gifCat-scratcher. [via Bunny Food]

Ai Weiwei made a heavy metal protest song called "Dumbass." Apparently he's coming out with an album on June 22, too. You can watch the music video above and head over to Death + Taxes for the lyrics translated in English. It's a lot of lyrics like "The field is full of fuckers, dumbasses are everywhere." So...there you go.

tumblr_mn3i0x636X1rn7bzro1_1280.jpgFrankie's a freeloader. [via Knusprig Titten Hitler]

One of our favorite comedians, Hannibal Buress, just signed a massive development deal with Comedy Central, which includes the production of his own pilot, a role on the show Broad City, a national tour and a one-hour stand-up special. If you've never seen it, watch his "apple juice" bit NOW. [via THR]

Jessie Ware and The xx Mash Up Two Classics


Though it's not the most professional recording (or video) ever made, we wish we'd been in Berlin last week for this epic collab between The xx and recent PAPER cover star Jessie Ware. Jessie came onstage during The xx's set at the Night + Day mini-festival and they performed a sort of mash-up of two classics: "Lady" by Modjo and "Music Sounds Better With You" by Stardust. While the show -- by two UK artists -- happened in Germany, both of the songs were by French artists and were originally released in the late '90s. Check out the original video of "Music Sounds Better..." below, directed by Michel Gondry.

Give These 5 Douche-Bags Another Chance

douche.gifWhen I first saw the preview for Mr. Selfridge on PBS' Masterpiece, I was torn. I love me some historical drama on PBS -- nobody whips up an addictive period drama like the British and Selfridges is still one of my favorite department stores in the universe -- but, insert sad trombone sound effect here, the show's lead is Jeremy Piven. I was going to have to deal with his smug mug being all up in my flat screen for weeks. The Entourage star, who made headlines for withdrawing from the Broadway show he starred in due to "Mercury poisoning" from tainted sushi, has always struck me as a bit of a douche-bag. And when I say 'a bit' of a douche-bag, I mean a complete and total douche-bag. (Obviously I'm not alone here, either.) Still, my love for historical dramas, shopping and the pseudointellectual thrill I get watching sophisticated programming like PBS made me give Mr. Piven a chance as Mr. Selfridge. And lo and behold, Mr. Piven actually captured Mr. Selfridge's larger-than-life magic! Although I'm not 100% sold on his acting genius, by the end of episode 3 I had decided that I might be wrong about him. Maybe I just thought he was a douche because he so convincingly played one in the past, or maybe he really was one and has quietly re-rehabilitated on a wellness ranch for douches in South Dakota. I can now admit that I was wrong to write him off as a an untalented gas bag. 

Proud of the realization that you can't judge a douche by its cover, I've decided to make a list of high-profile people I've previously written off as dastardly D-Bags and give them each another chance to prove me wrong.

john_galliano_hat_ponytail_mou.jpg1. John Galliano
Yes, going on an antisemitic rant was more evil than your typical douche-baggery, but he's met with top Jewish leaders and the Anti-Defamtion League's Abe Foxman says the fallen fashion star deserves a break. I agree.

Untitled_large_verge_medium_landscape.jpg2. George W. Bush
Anyone who does a self-portrait consisting of his feet poking out of the bathtub can't be all bad -- Iraq War notwithstanding.

naomi-campbell-bald.jpg3. Naomi Campbell
I know if you've ever worked as her assistant you won't agree with this, but I say we give the former super model another chance. The poor thing has no hair!

reese-mugshot-side-by-side.jpg4. Reese Witherspoon
Her outrageously entitled antics when her main squeeze was stopped for drunk driving were gross but amusing. Since it's her first foray into public douchery, I say we let it slide.

brody-jenner-bromance-10.jpg5. Brody Jenner
I know he hasn't done anything to make us reconsider his douchiness, but he's so hot. That must count for something.

Greta Gerwig's Rise as Hollywood's New Indie Queen Is Very, Very Real

To celebrate the opening weekend and amazing critical reception of her movie Frances Ha, we're re-posting our February 2011 cover story on Gerwig, written by Lena Dunham. Read below as the two indie film figures discuss rom-coms, anorexia and the difficulties of being an actress who goes against the grain.

GretaD10A023_f_mm.jpgI started out as a Greta Gerwig fan, awed by her lovely, loopy performance as the titular lost post-grad in 2007's Hannah Takes the Stairs. She was as refreshingly familiar as she was Aryan and unknowable, like Grace Kelly had allowed her eggs to be fused with Gilda Radner's in a genetics experiment dreamed up by an anxious hipster. Gerwig's comfort in her own skin and her discomfort with the pained social code of the 20s male made her an instant heroine to me and a fantasy friend. Cut to September 2008. I was taking my dog for an evening walk, and we stopped into the lower Broadway office space of Red Bucket Films. There was Greta: hangin' out, fresh-faced, gesticulating wildly. I was excited by her and she was excited by my dog, and I forced the conversation to go on and on. Later we shared a cramped office space for a while in that same building, where we made an audition tape for Greta that included the line "the pterodactyl retreats!" which she delivered with surprising subtlety. It's been a true thrill to witness what some might call "Greta's dizzying ascent" and what I call "Greta kicking ass." Her self-assuredly self-effacing performance in Greenberg made Ben Stiller look like he'd just taken a ride on a tilt-a-whirl (in a good way -- he was also great, she just threw him for a loop!), and she brings a third and fourth dimension to the sassy sidekick in No Strings Attached. Every time she's on a talk show, the host's eyes seem to ask, "There are girls like this!?" And soon everybody's going to get a double dose: Arthur (in which she takes on another dude -- comedy dynamo, Russell Brand) in April, and in Whit Stillman's deeply anticipated summer film, Damsels in Distress. We met for breakfast at Odeon so I could ask her probing questions and revel in the fact that she's finally my friend.

Lena Dunham: So I decided I am going to ask you things I want to know about you, even though we're friends. What actresses' careers do you admire?

Greta Gerwig: I love Sandra Bullock.

LD: I'm crazy about her. I was looking at a picture of her adopted son the other day and was like, "That kid knows things."

GG: I'm drawn to people who seem really happy about the choices they've made and don't seem like they wish they were somebody else. I don't feel like Sandra wishes she were, say, a Shakespearean thespian.

LD: And she's not like, "Fuck that Julia Roberts." What do you think about the fact that it's hard to have the career where you get to be in, like, Two Weeks Notice and you also get to be Tilda Swinton.

GG: Oh, I love Tilda Swinton.

GretaD11007_f_mm.jpgDress by Proenza Schouler, shoes by Manolo Blahnik, glasses by Claire Goldsmith, earrings by Jemma Wynne, necklace by Valerie Maccarthy, bracelets by Boynyc, Lui Morais, Jemma Wynne and Valerie Maccartty and rings by Jemma Wynne, Natalie Frigo, Valérie Maccartty and atelier Swarovski by Joseph Altuzarra.

LD: She's the shit. But you've been in, for example, No Strings Attached, a giant romantic comedy, and you were also in Greenberg, which is not a rom-com, and the first movies you were in were not rom-coms. Do you think there's an inherent challenge in making both kinds of movies?

GG: I don't think many people have done it, but... this sounds like a tautology, no one's done it until somebody's done it. And then someone's done it. I hope I get to do tiny weird things and big normal things.

LD: I always think that the tiny weird things you've done have lent this awesome air of slight weirdness to the big normal things you do.

GG: I also feel like they're both equally representative of who I am. I love weird filmmakers, but to be honest, I really loved When Harry Met Sally. I'm not more one thing than I am another, I think it's just that it's rare for people to honor both things in themselves -- to do something completely mainstream and then graphic, simulated sex scenes.

LD: Sometimes when I hang out with cineaste filmmakers, like our friends Josh and Benny Safdie, I'm afraid to be honest and say, "Nora Ephron movies are my shit." You almost have to treat those movies like guilty pleasures when in fact they're not; they're an art form you honor in the same ways you honor the interesting, amorphous movies the Safdies are making.

GG: I think a lot of people secretly have both parts to them, and they feel like they have to pick an identity. And I think that some of that has to do with being really attached to how you're perceived.

GretaA5014_f_mm.jpgDress by Marc Jacobs, underwear by Araks, earrings by Jemma Wynne, necklaces by Zoe Chicco and Gara Danielle Fine Jewelery, bracelets by Giles & Brother, BOYNYC, Luis Morais and Jemma Wynne. Rings by Valerie McCarthy, Jemma Wynne and Mawi.

LB: Which is in a weird way kind of antithetical to being an actor. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

GG: I wanted to be a ballet dancer for a while. But most practically, I thought I was going to be a lawyer. I secretly wanted to be an actor, but it didn't feel like something I'd actually do.

LD: And you were always writing?

GG: In high school I wasn't told I could write. All my friends who went to school in New York, they all had some teacher who said, "Why don't you write something of your own that's creative?" The only creative piece of writing I had ever done in high school was my college essay. It wasn't until college -- I had written a monologue in acting class, and someone was like, "That's really funny, you should take a playwriting class," and I was like, "Oh?"

LD: Had you done theater in high school?

GG: Yeah, I did musicals, the school plays, the whole things. Those were the majority of my high school memories.

GretaD11008_f_mm.jpgShirt and skirt by Prada, shoes by Roger Vivier. Bracelets by La Petite Princesse, Valerie Maccarthy, BOYNYC and Mawi. Rings by Atelier Swarovski by Joseph Altuzarra, Mawi and La Petite Princesse.

LD: That's interesting because even when I first met you, and you were already an actress, I would never have been like, "That girl is an actress." You never referred to yourself as one.

GG: I have always felt like I'm acting because I love it, but I don't particularly have any right to be doing it.

LD: I have two parents who do creative things, so it's easy for me to think that's an appropriate job. But there are a lot of people who don't think so, and so it feels masturbatory and like it's not a real profession.

GG: I think sometimes when you tell the narrative of who you are, you get attached to something that's not entirely true. On the one hand, I can say I didn't know any artists growing up, and nobody told me I could write, and it wasn't until college that I got exposed to things, but that wasn't totally true. There was another side to it; I didn't grow up in a cultural wasteland. My parents were taking me to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I knew about Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams when I was 12. We watched Monty Python and Woody Allen. It wasn't like I grew up in the sticks.

GretaD10022_f_mm.jpgShirt and skirt by Prada, shoes by Roger Vivier. Bracelets by La Petite Princesse, Valerie Maccarthy, BOYNYC and Mawi. Rings by Atelier Swarovski by Joseph Altuzarra, Mawi and La Petite Princesse.

LD: Was there a moment when you made a jump to being like, "I am an actress and this is what I do?"

GG: I still don't feel like I have committed myself to it. I love it and I'm super-grateful for it, but I still don't believe that it's really happening. I sounds so weird to say. I told my friend Sarah, I have a very real, constant fear that I'll wind up living on the street. She was like, "That is not an appropriate fear for someone in your position to have. And even if nothing works out, you won't be living on the street."

LD: It's not an appropriate fear, but it's a good motivating factor.

GG: I'm expecting someone to come up to me and say, "Party's over, kid. Pack it up. It was fun while it lasted."

LD: Do you think that the fact that you write informs your work as an actress?

GG: Yes, when I'm writing, it makes me less precious about my acting, which kind of makes my acting better. But it can inform it negatively. Because sometimes you need to turn off your brain that says, "Why would I say that?" and just say, "I'm saying it!"

LD: The sort of directors who have thus far been attracted to you have been very literate, with a kind of poetry to what they're doing. Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress, there's something almost Shakespearean about that movie. And Noah Baumbach, there is a really specific rhythm and poetry to his lines. So being a writer and feeling the cadence is important and almost essential. Do you feel like directors have allowed you to be a real architect of your characters because of the first movies you did, like Hannah Takes the Stairs and Nights and Weekends? You were a writer and, in the case of the latter, a co-director.

GG: I think people have given me more freedom, and I feel like I have gotten to participate in discussions in ways that maybe other actresses haven't been able to. I've had producers, executives, say things that I'm sure they don't say to other actresses, like "You don't look pretty in this scene. It's not testing well."

LD: They're probably like, "You're smart, you'll get it." They don't think it's gonna send you into a pit of anorexia and self-hatred.

GG: It makes me feel very honored in some ways, but then it also contributes to the feeling that I'm not really an actress, the fact that I'm doing this is fake and I really should be doing something else.

GretaC8020_f_mmShadow.jpgTrench coat by 3.1 Phillip Lim, dress by David Szeto, shoes by Miu Miu, sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith. Earrings by Luis Morais, necklaces by Giles & Brother and Valerie McCarthy, bracelets by Giles & Brother and Flutter by Jill Golden. Rings by Natalie Frigo, Valerie McCarthy and Paige Novick.

LD: I get some of that, too. If the first projects that people have ever seen you in involve a high level of apparent honesty or a low level of vanity, people somehow feel you're immune to that type of criticism.

GG: And I'm not immune. Nor am I crazy hung up on it. But I'm certainly not dispassionate about it.

LD: But being told you don't look pretty in a scene and it's not testing well, that could make a person crazed.

GG: Yeah, maybe you feel like this too, but I sometimes feel like I'm the only actress having the sort of experience I'm having.

LD: One of the girls in my show [HBO's Girls] told me, "You're my first friend who's also an actress," and I was like, "I'm not an actress." I had this weirdly intense response. The first thing I ever did, I looked totally like myself, I acted totally like myself, so the expectation of me isn't one of glamour or adult sexuality.

GG: Like my roommate Sam was telling me, I should just go on these talk shows as Greta -- in jeans, Vans, an army jacket. And I was like, "That's Greta at home. That's not how Greta would dress to be on Letterman or Fallon." But there's sort of this assumption that I don't care about that sort of stuff, and I'm like, "But I do, I do care about this stuff!"

LD: Maybe people feel like if you're a quote-unquote "smart girl," you don't need to be protected in the same way, and you're not concerned about the same issues. This all feeds into the resistance to calling yourself an actress.

GG: I used to wish that I'd wake up one day and know that acting would fulfill everything I ever wanted. Acting is such an important part of expression for me, but I also feel it is not "it" for me. And the other stuff is just as important, and I know maybe that sounds greedy, it's hard to be honest about it because...

LD: Because you feel there are so many people who it is "it" for? You don't want to take up that space?

GG: Exactly. I've not dedicated my life to theater or acting or solely to writing...

LD: And sometimes it feels like there's a stigma to that. I've gotten questions in interviews like, "Do you feel like you can do all those things at the same time, really?"

GG: Maybe it's because we're women and, as Lacan said, "We are all things." I took all this Lacanian theory in school, and I feel like it's a masculine trait to pick one thing and excel at it. Women have a lot of sides to them and are more likely to do different things at different times. Like in Julie & Julia, a movie I love, Julia Child didn't cook until she was 40.

LD: So what is the kind of project that you dream of doing that would be the most surprising to people?

GG: I want to do something where I carry a gun. I think I'd be great, almost in a Leslie Nielsen kind of way, because you don't expect it. You don't expect that I'd be the spy. You expect Angelina Jolie to be a spy, but you'd never expect "this guy" to be the spy.

GretaA6A016_f_mm.jpgTrench coat by 3.1 Phillip Lim, dress by David Szeto, shoes by Miu Miu, sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith. Earrings by Luis Morais, necklaces by Giles & Brother and Valerie McCarthy, bracelets by Giles & Brother and Flutter by Jill Golden. Rings by Natalie Frigo, Valerie McCarthy and Paige Novick.

LD: Like how I want to be in Playboy. You get photographed covered in oil and dirt. I would wear underwear but I'd take my top off. I just don't want to show my genitals. It's the same thing: you'd never expect "this guy" in Playboy.

GG: I know. It's like the equivalent of one of us joining the Army.

LD: Yeah, a real Private Benjamin moment.

GG: It's scary to say the stuff you really want to do and the people you really want to work with out loud sometimes. It's easier to say jokey things. But Woody Allen...

LD: How could you not?

GG: I grew up in Sacramento and I watched that guy's movies and wanted to move to New York because of him.

LD: I feel like Woody Allen has got to find out soon that there's this girl who can say a smart line, and you'll fucking believe that she really thought it.

GG: Woody Allen had an erotic renaissance with Scarlett. He can have a neurotic renaissance with me! But really, I want to write and direct my own movie that is all mine and I want to win awards for it. Is that wrong? It's way easier to say I want to be in a gun movie than to say...

LD: That you want to write and direct a movie and win an Oscar for it?

GG: Yeah, and I want it to mean something and be good. But I also want to be a cool Sandra Bullock person who is OK with shit. I am putting a lot on Sandra that may or may not be true.

LD: Don't you also think you'd be friends with her if you met her?

GG: I think probably everyone thinks that.

LD: Sandra, if you're listening, call us. I'd like for you, Greta and me to sit around and enjoy some ice cream.


Hair: Seiji at the Wall Group
Makeup: Daniel Martin using Nars at the Wall Group
Stylist assistant: Kelly Govekar
Photographer's assistant: Maxime Fauconnier
Coordinator: Diane Drennan-Lewis
Assisted by Brittaney Barbosa

Photographed at 632 on Hudson