Issue Nº 23: Designing cities for women and children, The Bronx via Bourdain, AND The Book Club for Kids podcast

“There are 500 times more female nudes in art history text books, Dick, as there are female artists,” says millennial performance artist Toby in Jill Solloway’s brilliant sleeper masterpiece I Love Dick, a cinematic interpretation of Chris Kraus’ 1995 genius book of the same name.

Shall we name them? The men?

There's Matisse, Rodin, Michelangelo, Rauschenberg, Picasso, Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright. There’s Jackson Pollock (but definitely not his wife, fellow painter Lee Krasner). Starchitect Robert Venturi, winner of the highest prize in architecture (but of course not his partner, fellow principal, and wife Denise Scott Brown). The men are the masters, the women are the footnote.

In Chelsea Clinton’s new book for children, She Persisted Around the World, we meet a handful of girls and women in all of their complex multitudes. At once, princess and savior. Victim and heroine. Awakened and acting. It might be the first biographical book that my six year old liked. In fact, she was absorbed from start to finish.

Terry Cook summarizes Jean Francois Lyotard's writings on postmodernism as "incredulity towards the grand myths of Western civilization—the metanarratives,” themselves.[*] When we accept these metanarratives — center them at story time and in the movie theatre and in school — our children of course do, too.

Instead, look here, says Ms. Clinton. Leymah Gbowee is a woman from Liberia who stopped an entire war. And another, Viola Desmond who was arrested for being a person of color at the theater.

She was arrested, mom! My daughter says. (With post-modern incredulity!)

Intellectual philosophical movements aside, we are quite simply noticing ourselves noticing. The ghosts of women who were in fact there, but haven't been included in our text books, or the historical record, or the collecting repository. For the wide open canyon [canon] of the unknown women who could have flourished had they had the chance and opportunity. 

[*] in Archivaria, the Canadian counterpart to our American journal, The American Archivist


For the Discerning & Literary Child

I love a good book without a single word. You Can't Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum is just that. (Thanks to our New York auntie, for this one!). Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos. Less this month, since our post-dinner routine has us in the back yard most evenings.

Not a book but genius: Queer Kid Stuff teachers preschoolers their LGBTQ's.


Asides, Ideas, Miscellany

The Runaways. I am adoring my new friend’s new novel. A buttoned up, predictable kind of worker bee mom veers off her expected course to a loose artistic existence on the edges and meets a rebellious, younger spirit along the way. Stash this one in your beach bag.

I haven’t been able to return this to the library because I actually just need to buy it. It's brimming with so many terrific ideas for playing and visiting and eating in New York City (with kids).

How to solve the local news crisis? Look it up at the library.

In my queue but haven’t yet tried it: The book club for kids podcast

When urbanism shakes hands with feminism: Alissa Walker on the Strong Towns podcast discusses the missing link in cities: women. “We need to be designing cities for women and children and put the women in charge." Amen.

Catching up on Parts Unknown in honor of the late, great Mr. Bourdain. Just this week I've followed him to Rome, Provincetown, the Scottish Highlands, and the Bronx. He was our very own Hemingway in spirit, yet exceedingly better at being a human. RIP.

Really, though, it’s been quite the month for foodie TV in this house. Maybe because I just can't watch the death and doom of Westworld and the like. Instead I’ve been catching an episode or two (they are only minutes long) of Alice in Paris. I also blew through The Chef’s Table after a neighbor’s recommendation. My dessert-obsessed kindergartener and I are slowly re-watching this episode on the rad baker who created Momofuku’s Milk Bar. I love her take on life: “I think the world is more often your oyster when you approach it with more of a childlike sensibility. The world is a more curious place. It’s a more beautiful place. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but within any given day in life, there should always be a moment where the weight of the world is just a little bit lighter on your shoulders.” 

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it is always June.
- L.M. Montgomery

Thoughts? Ideas? Recommendations? I love connecting with fellow readers, writers, parents, and humans. Please drop me a line!

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