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For being the biggest city in the U. S., NYC is quite a lonely place.
I tell my friends back in Chicago that it’s really fun because you can truly wear whatever you want without people caring or noticing (if you’d like me to illustrate with pictures of other East Village locals wearing neon colors, animal prints, or an occasional live cat on the head let me know) – but you’re often invisible as well.
Maybe it’s because I’ve led a spoiled life – always had close family and friends, but NYC is a test. Not just because it’s ridiculously expensive w/less than optimal living space (I don’t allow pictures to be taken of my apartment; I insist upon visiting for the experience over a still image) but because you’re by yourself. A lot. And the crazy thing is, I think I’m starting to like it.
With the exception of my mom reprimanding me for drinking wine alone tonight (before you judge, I was trying to write and I now understand why real writers are notoriously heavy drinkers), I’ve learned I may not be quite as social or as talkative as I would have previously believed. I actually enjoy eating dinner out by myself (usually with a good book) and the solitude when my roommate leaves and is no longer constantly trying to speak to me.
I recently read Jen Lancaster’s memoir, BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG ASS. It resonated with me not only because she hails from my beloved Chicago and the bus lines she spoke of were so familiar, but when she talks about the fast and easy friendships of the past giving way to new living, and relationship, situations:
“Suddenly I found myself living around people very different from me. We were diverse not due to ethnicity, race, or age, but because we didn’t come from a shared past; our jobs, hometowns, educations, and experiences were all vastly different and we had no instant commonalities…” (pg. 178)
This I can commiserate with. Yes, I’ve made acquaintances here in this huge, vast city that sparkles in the night and grimy by day… Even some people I call friends. But it’s hard work when you don’t have the baseline from which to start.
Luckily, I have books to escape the real world and I find myself disappearing into them quite often. For the second “luckily”, this trait is advantageous to being in a job I love. So while I desperately miss my friends in Chicago (there’s nothing comparable to living with your two best friends in a downtown highrise boasting a pool on your rooftop with a view of Lake Michigan) I like to believe I made the best decision in transferring my life to the East Coast. While I admit I’m not exactly living an Into the Wild survival expedition, I think I have given up some basic luxuries.
This may be a pointless post, but thanks for indulging in my slightly-wine induced thoughts and joining me all the way out here in NYC. In fact, I think I officially belong in that annoying group of people that think “everyone should live, and thrive, in NYC at least once in their life.”
Update: Oprah (along with some kind words and admittances of solo and proud drinking from OUB & OAD) has made me realize that moving to NYC is a worthwhile adventure for a job I love. Recently, Oprah shared a list of “The Top 20 Things I Know for Sure” and I’m happy that I am totally in line with several, including #13: Let passion drive your profession.
My booklist has taken an R-rated twist
I consume books regularly and try to be open to all genres (except Twilight and Harry Potter; I refuse based on principle), but tend to stick with titles that offer some literary content or even just a thrill. Lately, my titles have been more suspect and less something I would proudly read while riding on public transportation (yet another reason I need an EReader!). Strippers and womanizers have dominated a few of my recent literary ingestions.
Drunkenness & Debauchery with Tucker Max: To some, Tucker Max is a hero: One to emulate, live vicariously through and high-five. To me, he is a cringe-worthy example of all that’s wrong in society today – a mediocre looking man who somehow has managed to find innumerable women who willingly exploit themselves and become a topic of Max’s only talent – writing. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is written as a memoir, filled with vignettes of stories, aka one-night stands.
For Max, sex is an activity akin to my shopping habit. He just walks out on the street, sees something he likes and takes it home – nothing personal or even especially friendly. I don’t even care enough to go on a tirade about this, because the strongly offensive nature is exactly why this exaggerated content is so popular. If everyone just ignored it, Max would hopefully disappear, and suffer from some STD, alone.
- Novelwhore’s Grade: C (Mediocre, like the author)
- Title: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
- Author: Tucker Max
- Publisher: Citadel Press (Kensington)
On-Stage with Juno’s Screenwriter, Naked: The blockbuster success of the Summer Movie of 2007, “Juno”, about the pregnant high-school giving her baby up for adoption, resulted in an umbrella effect of PR for the author, Diablo Cody. Not the typical glitzy Hollywood Screenwriter, Cody had already been around the block before achieving fame and there is no doubt many people who became fans experienced her naked at multiple strip clubs in Minnesota.
Yes, Minnesota. The cold state in which the taking off of clothes makes me shiver was the setting of Cody’s memoir Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper. College-educated with a normal childhood (if there is such a thing), she had a job in an advertising agency before wandering into an Amateur Stripping contest and becoming rather addicted to the thrill. This memoir reminds me of Chelsea Handler’s Confessions of My Horizontal Life, as both women managed to maintain a conversational, self-deprecating voice while describing intimate things. Entertaining throughout, this memoir offers a subversive thrill to a taboo subject and ends before getting overly disgusted from the vivid descriptions of what is done for cash.
- Novelwhore’s Grade: B+
- Title: Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper
- Author: Diablo Cody
- Publisher: Gotham (Penguin)
Expected Stripper-Tale, with Political Twists: From my experience, Carl Hiaasen takes a normal murder/suspense/power plot and adds tidbits of sex and humor to keep the reader engaged. Striptease (an old title, found at library sale for $1) stays to this obviously successful formula and follows a young mother, driven to strip by the piling up of legal bills as she fights her ex-husband for custody of their young daughter (typical stripper sob-story, right?).
Seedy tale with the emotional mother-daughter pull, Hiaasen weaves his web of politics, blackmail and murder through the sleazy Governor of Florida, who’s in love with the stripper (like that Akon song!) and in bed with $millions$ behind the illegal farming of sugar cane. The stripper is realistic and smart, the bouncer muscular and clever, the Congressman aging and not aware of all that’s happening for his behalf, this book is another look at the different cogs in society and what happens when they interact. Definitely entertaining, but without the introspective angle of Candy Girl or the disgust-worth content of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.
- Novelwhore’s Grade: B-
- Title: Striptease
- Author: Carl Hiaasen
- Publisher: Vision
As I finally got around to uploading photos from January to current on Facebook, I realized that 2009 has already been a year to remember (although I don’t look photogenic in any of the moments!).
Yes, it’s true I have joined the ranks of the unemployed, but I’ve also been motivated and inspired to follow my dreams of launching a career in book publishing, started this blog which has become quite an enjoyable hobby, begun to really appreciate Chicago and all it offers, been to my first Bulls game, Cocokey Resort with three of my best friends, had the #1 bracket in my pool as of NOW (sorry, MSU, I bet correctly that UNC would pull off the win), started a volunteer relationship with a worthwhile organization (<3 to you, Open Books), been blessed with a baby nephew, and been lucky enough to have the love, support and enjoyment of a wonderful family and system of friends.
Alright, fine, I may be a little tipsy from watching the pathetic game that MSU just played, but I am thankful for all this year has already brought (I cannot believe Easter is this Sunday – time has flown by) and all it promises in the future. I hope you all enjoyed my Miller Lite induced ramblings (potentially found some inspiration yourself?), but hopefully this little nugget will serve as a reminder for the important things next time I get frustrated when job searching or waiting for spring to come to Chicago.
Heading home on the train tomorrow, looking forward to some quality MI time with the family and good books, while curled up in my favorite chair! Hopefully book reviews to come shortly… Hitting the “publish” button before I can overthink and delete this…
The other night a group of 11 of us girls got together for a 25th birthday dinner for a friend. Quartino’s, the fun Gold Coast spot we chose for shared small-plates and affordable wine was smart enough to seat our loud-chattering and wine-induced crowd into our own private, window enclosed room. In which we could look through the glass at the other diners if we so chose, or had the option of pulling the shades, making out own secret room. Romantic? Maybe with a different crowd. Prestigious? Potentially, if we weren’t buying the cheapest liters of house wine from the menu. Secretive? Definitely. My mind immediately went to the “Mob-like” activities that could have, and most likely did, occur in similar rooms throughout Chicago in the 1990s.
“Most cities have one overriding claim to fame. Say Los Angeles and you think about the movies; say Paris, you think art; Detroit, cars. But when people the world over, say Chicago, they think of something less marketable: Organized Crime.” -Robert Cooley
Since I’ve been unemployed, I’ve had time to wander the city (please note my updated To Do: Chicago list) and really have begun to appreciate the history that’s apparent on every street. To delve into the past, I’ve decided to embark on a trip down the darker side of Chicago, that of the Mob, and Robert Cooley, cited above, is the rabble-rousing teenager -> policeman -> lawyer -> crooked lawyer -> government informant who is the source to take us behind the scenes of the once all-powerful Chicago Outfit.
Certain aspects of mob life are rather appealing… The glitz and glamour, bottles of champagne (as opposed to the house wine!) at all the hottest bars and clubs, the notoriety and special attention, almost like a modern day celebrity with an underlying aspect of danger (Chris Brown, anyone?!)… But of course, that’s ignoring the drugs, violence, total un-loyalty and the all too common occurrence of being unaware you’re being treated to your last supper before being violently disposed of in a very inhumane way, most likely by a trusted confidant.
This is a memoir/autobiography told from one immersed in the mob, and not always on the right side of the law – When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down.
Robert Cooley was the “Mechanic” for the Chicago Mafia – nothing to do with cars, he was the lawyer responsible for buying judges and guaranteeing a “Not Guilty” verdict for hitmen and gamblers alike. In return for his services, Cooley enjoyed protected as well as a steady influx of cash to feed any vice in which he chose to indulge, and there were many.
I tend to be naive, but I believe that even for those jaded, cynical people, the depth of corruption was shocking – from the police force to government officials, the Mob had ties, and typically high-ranking officials, in every office.
In an inexplicable attack of conscience, Cooley strolled into the office of the FBI’s Organized Crime Strike Force and turned the tables on the mob, wearing a wire from 1986-1989, eventually becoming responsible for more than 30 convictions.
An intense book about a piece of Chicago’s history many would rather was forgotten, this is a nail-biting tale that manages to drag the reader in even though Cooley isn’t always likable. I guess to put your life in danger with a notoriously violence group who will put a $1MM reward on your head takes a cocky man, and Cooley definitely fits the bill.
Read this if: You’re into gangster lore, crime stories, Chicago’s history, or are still upset The Sopranos went off-air.
Avoid this if: You believe justice is always served fair and equal, and want to remain believe so.
- NovelWhore’s Grade: B+
- Title: When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down
- Author: Robert Cooley with Hillel Levin
- Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers, an imprint of Avalon
NovelWhore rambling: Much of this book takes place in my Gold Coast neighborhood, and I have to admit my over-active imagination has been taking me places with every well-dressed man I see walking down the street, especially those with an entourage and a bulge (imagined? possibly…) beneath a suit jacket that could very likely be a gun… Could a group so in-charge and infamous as recent as the 1990s be really be made obsolete? I can’t help wondering what lucrative business deals the mob has a hold on now, though I like to believe they have refocused their sites on the less-popular prostitution and gambling rings and the courts are now clean… Thoughts?!
A half-century length career in book publishing is my dream, and Jason Epstein is the icon and achiever of this goal.
Epstein is kind enough to expel his knowledge and experience of the publishing industry in his professional memoir, Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future. While catered toward the niche group of people interested in book publishing, this is also a wonderful tale of history and the way relationships with books have evolved throughout the 1900s.
This iconic career began when Epstein stumbled across an editorial position
with Doubleday in his early 20s (and I do mean stumbled, he claims to have known nothing about publishing at the time when the opportunity was offered him), during which he repeatedly said he was ready to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice, though he ended up staying there a decade. Within that decade he was the man responsible for the invention of Anchor Books – the imprint responsible for the “quality paperback” book, which made literature more affordable for the masses as opposed to the superior quality, expensive hard cover novels.
After that success, Epstein moved over to Random House, now the world’s largest trade publisher. When Epstein first made the career transition Random House was a family-style business located within the wing of one New York mansion, in which he tells tales of famous authors delivering manuscripts in slippers and spending the night on couches (and not always alone!).
Epstein is a big-picture businessman. Able to look at book publishing from the editorial and quality of literature angle, as well as the ability to envision new venues for sales and marketing, he is a man I would trust to carry a book from conception to success.
Responsible for numerous advances in the publishing industry throughout his career, Epstein was among the first to embrace the online retail giant in its struggling years, Amazon (ironically he found fault with Amazon’s business model, which has boomed since the publication of this memoir in 2001). This enlightening book, surprisingly small in statue considering the wealth of information contained within, cites book publishing to be on the edge of a vast transformation, in which I see future opportunities without bounds.
Since this publication, Epstein has capitalized on some of his own visions mentioned.
In 2004, he launched “OnDemandBooks.” With yet another invention on his repertoire, the “Espresso Book Machine” is available at locations throughout the United States, Canada and England for on-demand, affordable printing of books
Read this if: You’re interested in hearing a behind the scenes tale from a publishing great, and how the industry has changed in a mere 50 years and the how the transformation may continue.
Avoid this if: You’re looking for a raucous tale filled with gossip and dirt on some of the most respected authors. This is not a tell-all, but a memoir of an accomplished career.
- Title: Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future
- Author: Jason Epstein
- Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
- NovelWhore’s Grade: A-
Don’t get excited now, no, this is not a tell-all admission of my love life (trust me, that would be really boring to read) but a glowing recommendation of Chelsea Handler’s over-active sex drive in her memoir “My Horizontal Life – A Collection of One-Night Stands.”
I abhor the term LOL, it’s out of style right? But, it’s totally appropriate as I describe what I was doing while reading this. Outrageous, hilarious and
totally entertaining, this book makes me giggle even as I think of it.
“My Vagina clammed up. I was scared for me and my little beaver’s life. I just hoped we would make it out of this okay.”
That’s a legitimate quote, and the fact that it’s referring to the, ah, genitalia of a male midget makes it even more humorous. While I don’t wish to live her life, I have no qualms about living vicariously through her stories, liberally soaked in alcohol, inappropriate situations and objectionable (often offensive) morals.
Of course you have to hope Handler is exaggerating as she describes her exploits, and it’s even rather sad at times as you wonder what actually is meaningful in her life… But get off that high-horse and just enjoy the ride!
Read this if: You’re open-minded, enjoy racy humor, aren’t offended by blatant smuttiness and alcohol-motivated decisions and aren’t embarrassed to laugh out loud while reading by yourself.
Avoid this is: You’re no fun, bland, easily offendable and can only think of sex as a sacred act no matter who is engaging in it.
- Title: My Horizontal Life
- Author: Chelsea Handler
- Publisher: Bloomsbury
- NovelWhore’s Grade: A (first blogging “A”!!!)