Staunchly, vol. 91: Countess Olenska if she shopped at Claire’s


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As always, Rebecca Traister expertly communicates what I’ve done a shoddy job of articulating: why I find the prospect of a Joe Biden presidential campaign so repellent. And why you shouldn’t listen to anyone who thinks they know what’s winnable in 2020 because nobody knows and anyone who says they know is scamming you. I said it before I’ll say it again with feeling: Electability is an MLM scheme invented by white men to bolster and further consolidate power among the very people who have always had it.

Read Traister’s piece “Joe Biden Isn’t The Answer” all the way through and then again for good measure. It’ll give you a rage ulcer, remembering all the lousy stuff in his past, all the times he could have shown up for women and minorities and he didn’t even come close to doing the right thing.

“The irony is that so much of what is terrifying and dangerous about this time — the Trump administration, the ever more aggressive erosion of voting and reproductive rights, the crisis in criminal justice and yawning economic chasm between the rich and everyone else — are in fact problems that can in part be laid at the feet of Joe Biden himself, and the guys we’ve regularly been assured are Democrats’ only answer.”

The heart of Democratic party right now is young, diverse, and electric. It is not: paternalistic, “middle-of-the-road white men” with shady histories on reproductive rights and racial justice, but, oh yes, a smile that could charm the morning dew right off the honeysuckle. They are not the answer.


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All I was really in the mood for this week—Here’s a bunch of pieces about fascinating women:

1. Jacinda Ardern Has Rewritten the Script for How a Nation Grieves After a Terrorist Attack by Masha Gessen (New Yorker)

How the New Zealand prime minister chose healing over vengeance in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

2. She Survived a Slave Ship, the Civil War and the Depression. Her Name Was Redoshi. by Sandra E. Garcia (NY Times)

From the Middle Passage to the Great Depression and all the Americas in between, the remarkable story of the last living survivor of the Atlantic Slave Trade.

3. The Agnès Varda I Knew: Showing Women Their Real Place in Movies by Manohla Dargis (NY Times)

Such a lovely piece of Varda appreciation by Dargis.

“One sustaining pleasure of her films is that they don’t neatly fit into boxes, including feminist ones, even while being unmistakably feminist. She wasn’t creating ideals or role models, but specific women in specific places (villages, streets, beaches) who are navigating a world in which the very definitions of women, of the feminine and of femininity are in upheaval.”

4. The Case of the Perfect Girl Detective by Joanna Greenberg (LARB blog)

On the timeless allure and basic unfathomability of Nancy Drew.

“I do not want a Nancy Drew I can relate to. I want a Nancy Drew I can aspire to.”

5. The Equivocal Legacy of Charlotte Perkins Gilman by Kate Bolick (NY Review of Books)

Unpacking the life and legacy of the groundbreaking utopian feminist CPG (who, like many of her white contemporaries, really shit the bed when it came to race.)

“At seventeen, she confided to her diary that she would never marry, because doing so would thwart her plans to better humanity.”

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I just finished Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, the memoir by K Tira Madden that I mentioned a couple weeks ago. It’s stunning. Although, the ending is a bit tricky. The narrative unravels and knots in unexpected ways. I can’t tell if Madden loses the thread or if she lets the story make a mess of itself in the best, most necessary way, an allegory for the rich, endlessly gnarled tangle of a family.

Sidenote: this is now the second breathtaking, essential piece of Florida-centric work I’ve engaged with in the past five months. I’d much prefer to ignore the dangly state. I don’t like this trend of rich, gummy stories from the bleached, gator-fissured starfish of America demanding my attention!

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I don’t really watch horror films. When I was younger, everything already scared me. Now, I mostly just find them cheesy. But I saw Us last week and I really enjoyed it. Is enjoy the right word? I thought it was well-done and thought-provoking and scary enough. Have you seen it? What’s the best piece you’ve read on it? I liked this essay that interprets Us as a story of Native appropriation (careful, major spoilers).

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I’m not typically a fan of physical exfoliants for the face. One word: microtears. Also, nothing reminds me more of my older sisters than a tube of St. Ives apricot scrub in a hotel shower, its neck caked with ginger beads. I know I milk this story a lot, but anything even vaguely associated with the girls who tried to nurse their infant sister with bleach is just, psychologically, off-limits for me.

What was I talking about? Oh yes, exfoliation. There are two exceptions to my no-scrub rule: Tammy Fender’s wonderful epi-peel—gentle, natural, detoxifying—and, as of last month, the Joanna Vargas exfoliating mask. Its look and general vibe is upsetting (bilious pumpkin), but it’s a crackerjack scrub. Apply in soft circles, leave on for five minutes, and damn. Dead cells, gone! Dead soul, lifted! Pores tiny and clear like pavé diamonds. I got it for free because the JV spa at the Sunset Tower screwed up my appointment and I was acting kind of cunty, but I’ll happily buy it again.


This Vogue article on Victorian updos got me itching to try something new with my hair, besides the usual air-dry-and-pray-for-mercy. Inspired by Lauren’s hair clip round-up in the last Staunchly, I purchased this bundle on Amazon (the best price I’ve seen for five sets in the colorful mottled style). Now I want to teach myself some whimsical little updos to pair with them. Looks that say: Countess Olenska if she shopped at Claire’s.


Here are some YouTube tutorials I’ve found that I think will help me ( /us!)  get that special retro style, undone just a little to give the illusion of insouciance. As you’ll see, I’m not particular about era. Victorian, Edwardian, Gibson Girl, it’s all gravy. Also the production value of these videos ranges from hostage video to South Bay salon. Click with caution lol.

An Everyday Victorian Up-Do

EASY Edwardian Mr Selfridge Kitty hair tutorial (gibson girl Victorian updo style) -- VINTAGIOUS

Double Dutch Braid Upstyle in Minutes

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) | Tutorial | Beauty Beacons of Fiction

Evelyn Nesbit - Tutorial | Beauty Beacons

Lady Sybil (Downton Abbey) | Tutorial | Beauty Beacons of Fiction

Gibson Tuck (not a video but this blog has beautiful styles)