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Since it first went to press in 1996, BlackBook has established itself as an arbiter of style, and a forum for new and dynamic writing. The Revolution Will Be Accessorized gathers many of the magazine's strongest pieces, and the result is a star-studded collection that addresses the intersection of pop culture, the arts, politics, and fashion, with provocative contributions ...
Since it first went to press in 1996, BlackBook has established itself as an arbiter of style, and a forum for new and dynamic writing. The Revolution Will Be Accessorized gathers many of the magazine's strongest pieces, and the result is a star-studded collection that addresses the intersection of pop culture, the arts, politics, and fashion, with provocative contributions from many of today's best writers, including:
Also included are pieces by Neal Pollack, Sam Lipsyte, Joan Didion, Naomi Klein, William T. Vollmann, DBC Pierre, Emma Forrest, and Douglas Coupland, among others. Raw, edgy, and always insightful, The Revolution Will Be Accessorized is a window on to what's happening outside the mainstream.
One recent morning I was sitting at my desk in my home in Los Angeles when the telephone rang. The display on the caller ID said Sandra Bernhard and indicated a number in the Greater L.A. Metro. I took in a minor gasp. The actress/comedienne Sandra Bernhard, who has always occupied a place on my altar of celebrity worship, was calling me. What could she want? Perhaps she had read something of mine, a book or an article, and wanted to work with me on a project. Maybe she was developing a cable television show or radio program or humor book about some cultural malady she thought I'd relate to, like chronic misanthropy or dry skin or dogs that shed. Perhaps she knew someone I knew -- how many degrees of separation could there be between Sandra Bernhard and me? -- and wanted to "touch base," "put a call in," issue forth some recognition of our shared sensibilities, invite me out for coffee to talk about the possibility of collaboration, or whatever, you know, just say hi. It was a Monday morning, the first day back to work after a long holiday weekend, and as theringing phone vibrated in my palm the promise of good fortune buzzed through me like caffeine.
The days had been unremarkable of late. A slow September had folded into a slower October and November, the lack of seasons erasing any sense of urgency or passage of time. But there I was, on the first day of December, receiving a call from Sandra Bernhard, who was possibly calling because she wanted to option an obscure article I'd written for an obscure magazine, who possibly suspected I was a person whom she should get to know, who possibly wanted to be my friend, possibly very soon. There was a rightness about it all, a karmic logic, proof, finally, that things really did turn around when one was patient. This entire sequence of thoughts passed through my mind in the time it took for the phone to ring two times. I waited through the third ring to answer, preparing an air of vocal insouciance that would conceal my euphoric anticipation.
It was Blanca Castillo, my cleaning lady. She was calling to ask if she could come on Saturday rather than Friday. In my shock, I barely listened to her. I wondered if Sandra Bernhard was right there, puttering around in leather pants and Manolos while Blanca stole away to the telephone. I wondered if Sandra Bernhard was neater than I was, if Blanca preferred her to me, if Blanca worked for celebrities throughout the week and saw me as a kind of charity case, a neophyte in the realm of domestic employment. Though she's been in this country for almost twenty years, Blanca's English is halting and uncertain, and as she stumbled through an apologetic explanation of why she couldn't come on Friday I felt a chemical shift inside myself; the euphoria vanished as quickly as it had appeared. The disappointment was almost overwhelming. Sandra Bernhard had not called me. It was another Monday, another month. Soon it would be another year. Still the sun shined.
I cannot take this anecdote any further without explaining that before moving to Los Angeles, nearly a year ago, I'd never employed outside help to clean my house. I grew up in a family whose liberal guilt collided with its midwestern origins with such thunderous intensity that I was thirty before I ever drove (unsure of what to do) into a car wash and thirty-three before I considered the possibility that paying someone twenty dollars an hour to perform services for which they actively advertise and/or take referrals is not necessarily on a par with running a sweatshop. Still, I can't help feeling that employing a cleaner represents some kind of foray into a phase of my life that might look something like adulthood but has more to do with the simu-lation of movie and magazine spread life that is at the root of the current American bourgeois construct. In recent years, I have come to own or lease a number of entities that would have been unthinkable during the prebourgeois years of my twenties. I have a house, a car, an eighty-pound collie-St. Bernard mix, and a sofa that I purchased at Crate and Barrel. And since I have reluctantly decided that the dog sheds more hair in the house than I can keep under control while fulfilling my own professional responsibilities, I enlist Blanca twice a month to perform duties that, prior to the Reagan era, the vast majority of Americans managed to do on their own quite nicely. This isn't anything I'm proud of; the fact that I cannot keep my own house clean strikes me as more than a minor character flaw. But if I've discovered anything since moving to Los Angeles it's that the assimilation process feels a lot like the aging process: We mellow out, we settle down, we accept, as a yoga teacher might say, "our possibilities and our limitations." Put another way, I could say we lose our edge, become resigned, learn not to flinch so visibly at the price of real estate. Which is to say, for better or worse, we let the tides of bourgeois culture crash over our rough spots until we're smooth as stones. Then we hire someone to clean up all the debris on the beach.
It feels not entirely accidental that my foray into the bourgeoisie coincides with my arrival in Los Angeles. This is a city that is bourgeois by necessity, less for its codependent relationship with the automobile than with its desperate love affair with the home. When you inhabit a geography that is at once so sprawling and so congested, when the prospect of going to a concert or a ball game or a dinner party often means an hour or more on crowded, menacing freeways, the home becomes the primary focus of leisure activity. If there's anything Angelenos enjoy more than going out, it's staying in.
Excerpted from The Revolution Will Be Accessorized by Aaron Hicklin Copyright © 2006 by Aaron Hicklin. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted October 8, 2009
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