Staunchly, vol. 70: What Mazie Knows


Life is kind of a grind right now! But we shall keep on keeping on.

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It’s National Voter Registration Day today. But honestly, if you read Staunchly and are not already registered, what are you even doing here?
My friend Tanya Somanader and her team at Crooked Media created Vote Save America as a sort of one-stop shop for all your political activism goals this election. Check your registration, register (discreetly, far from my judging eyes) if you’re not already, and find literal infinite ways to get involved. It’s the best, easiest-to-navigate, most aesthetically-pleasing command center for grassroots action I’ve seen. There are no excuses. Do your part to save us this fall. All the good bunkers are already booked. 

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1. Why Senator Mazie Hirono Asked a Crucial Question at the Kavanaugh Hearing by Osita Nwanevu (New Yorker)
The most underrated senator is finally getting her due. Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, the only immigrant woman ever to serve in the US Senate, voted against the Obamacare repeal last year while battling stage 4 kidney cancer (the press was too busy focusing on McCain to really care). Since January, she has asked every man that has come before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation whether he has ever committed sexual assault or harassment as a legal adult. “I did not want the #MeToo movement to be swept under the rug,” she told Nwanevu. Last week she told the men of America to shut up and step up. Familiarize yourself with this remarkable women.
And a quick anecdote: An old coworker of mine in the Senate (he wasn’t even one of the obviously bad ones) once said he loved Senator Hirono because she seemed, “so sweet—like a mom.”
She isn’t sweet; she’s steel. 

2. What do we owe her now? by Elizabeth Bruenig (Washington Post)

The rot was always there — even in smaller and less remarkable places, where power takes mundane, suburban shapes. 

The story of a rape, a survivor, and what happens when we don’t believe women. 

3. Nike Donates Millions to Republicans While Making Billions From Kaepernick Endorsement by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. (The Root)
This is your weekly reminder that woke capitalism is an oxymoron. Corporations are corporations who care about corporations. Nike’s campaign with Colin Kaepernick was rousing and timely and important, but don’t mistake good marketing for good ethics. 

4. What Teenagers Think About the Allegations Against Brett Kavanaugh by Dan Levin (NY Times)
The teenagers interviewed in this article are all more thoughtful and sincere than any of the Republicans in the Senate and that both scares me and gives me hope.

Ms. Wieczorek said she sees in the controversy a double standard for men and women’s behavior that is already well entrenched in high school.
“A boy is figuring out how to be a man, but girls are told, ‘You better shape up in order to be respected,’” she said.

(Read about the latest allegations about Kavanaugh here.)
5. Joe Biden apologizes again about Anita Hill during the Kavanaugh firestorm by Dylan Scott (Vox)
I like Joe Biden. Dare I say, love. But as far as I’m concerned: he can’t apologize enough for his role in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings of 1991. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he oversaw the outrageous mistreatment of Anita Hill by his fellow senators and failed to call up additional witnesses that could have corroborated Hill’s claims re: Thomas’ character and history of harassment. Honestly, I’m not convinced that Biden’s actions during this crucial moment don’t expose a fatal failure in his judgment that should disqualify him from the presidency.
Bonus: Chuck Grassley Says the Real Victim of the Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Allegations Is … Chuck Grassley by Christina Cauterucci (Slate)
At the risk of sounding too much like a lady: Chuck Grassley can suck my dick.


In the 50th issue of Staunchly this spring (read here), I said this about the impact of color on my mood:

After Trump was elected, I started hoarding color. I always loved a bright, polychromatic physical space, but now I craved it. Suddenly I was acutely aware of color’s restorative impact on me. I realized how even the littlest hint—the spine of a book; a composed grouping of craggy, elliptic crystals—had the potential to bring me joy. Color seemed a cheap, infinitely accessible luxury in a world that was getting darker everyday.

That remains true for me today. I still find myself pursuing cheap, inexhaustible mood-enhancers in my attraction to color. So I was really, for lack of a better phrase, pumped as hell to see that you can now explore the richly mood-enhancing Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours online, thanks to designer Nicholas Rougeux. Werner’s is a 19th-century dictionary of colors and a guidebook to the colorful world (Darwin was known to travel with it to classify his findings) that names and categorizes each color by its corresponding faunal, floral and mineral elements. 

Some of my favorite examples:
#7: “Skimmed milk White” is the “White of the Human Eyeballs,” the color found at the “Back of the Petals of Blue Hepatica,” and the color of a “Common Opal.”
#25: “Prussian Blue” is the color of a “Beauty Spot on Wing of Mallard Drake,” a “[Stamen] of Bluish Purple Anemone,” and blue copper ore.
#96: “Veinous Blood Red” can be found on “Musk Flower, or dark Purple Scabious,” or in a slab of pyrope.

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For this week’s episode of Joint Didion, we’re reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the late Michelle McNamara’s book about her hunt for the Golden State Killer—who was caught two months after the book’s publication (and two years after her death). I’m loving it so far, as much as you can love a thing that gives you Klonopin-resistant, bite-to-the-cuticle anxiety. The descriptions of how the GSK stalked, tortured, and murdered his victims are almost too precise. Read along if you prefer your night terrors especially vivid and specific.
Also, Patti Smith’s essay in The Paris Review makes me want to reread Little Women. Should I assign that as Staunchly homework? 

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I saw Lizzie this Sunday, the latest film about the (likely, though acquitted) axe murderess Lizzie Borden starring Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart. I actually think it did a really good job of depicting the story as a sort of feminist allegory, a tale of subjugated women seeking justice and power, while grounding it firmly in Borden’s patrician privilege and the gruesome details of the case. It’s also such a chic film—in all the scenes that don’t involve an axe, I should say. All of Lizzie’s outfits are like Prairie-core meets New England Victorian and it’s a big-ass vibe! Zimmermann could do a whole Lizzie Borden-inspired collection and it would be completely canonical, if deeply inappropriate. 


My strange and sweet little home made it onto Apartment Therapy! Click through for gratuitous pictures of my space as well as some words about my building’s history and my approach to decorating. Please take all advice and wisdom with giant grains of (pink Himalayan) salt.