Archive for September, 2007

Sleazy Summer Stories

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

This week’s question:

‘Tis the season for everyone’s favorite essay question, but “what did you do on your summer vacation” that you could never have told Teach about?

Next week’s question:
On the possible verge of a national housing crisis, we wondered: What was your worst personal housing disaster?

We have seen the weirdos, and they R us

Friday, September 28th, 2007

cops.JPGApparently, even beautiful mom-of-the-year (and closet former popular girl) Rebecca Woolf has an inner oddball. She also has a crazy-talented inner photographer and a penchant for San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair. Check out her rumination on lost souls here, along with stunning pictures of trannies and leathermen. Me, I prefer to fly my freak flag like a five-year-old. T minus 33 days…

The power of storytelling in Myanmar

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Storytelling. That’s what SMITH is all about. So when I read this story from The Wall Street Journal, I knew I had to share it with my fellow SMITHs.

Citizen journalists in Myanmar are risking their own lives to give a play-by-play account of the deadly crackdown against thousands of peaceful protesters (including Buddhist monks) by transmitting messages via YouTube, text messages, blogs, or cell phone cameras, to news outlets around the world.

Another blog was updated at 3 p.m. Myanmar time yesterday with a few English lines: “Right now they’re using fire engines and hitting people and dragging them onto E2000 trucks and most of them are girls and people are shouting.” Below the post is a blurry photo of trucks with the caption, “This is how they come out and try to kill people.”

According the the article, the last time there was a protest of this scale, the world only heard about it from “diplomats and official media.” But this time around, in the information age, news is spreading fast. And despite concerns surrounding the validity of “Citizen Journalism,” it’s clear that in an environment where reporters have minimal or no access, it’s up to the people who are on the front lines, living it, to tell their story. What’s even more impressive, and speaks to their determination to have their voices heard, is the fact that it isn’t easy to do anything very technical (i.e. streaming video) in Myanmar: (more…)

Viral Video: Evil Kitty Rap

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Sometimes, YouTube is actually pretty frustrating—for example, when you’re trying to find a good Friday video and everyone on the site still seems to be stuck on parodies of Chris Crocker. So I’m in a YouTube-hating mood today, actually, and I figured I’d give another example of its propensity to sometimes, well, suck.

Take, for example, this video, which has somehow gotten more than 2.5 million views, which proves—like nothing since the multi-platinum sales success of Alanis Morissette—that people really are fundamentally silly creatures.

Lost and Found: The Libertines of Folsom Street

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

by Rebecca Woolf

Go to the photos

I have always been fascinated by outsiders, feeling quietly like one myself, hiding behind high fashion and well-manicured hair. Laughing out loud with friends, sometimes unaware of what we’re laughing about. What’s so funny?

I grew up in the suburbs where we all dressed like twins and drove matching cars with the same Fly Girls stickers on our bumpers. We lived in homes with the same floor plan and pools in the backyard and wore our hair identically: long and blond.

A group of kids at my high school called themselves “thespians,” but we referred to them as “Goths.” They were involved in theater and wore more makeup than allowed on the stage. Dressed in black, they looked like ghosts in trench coats. They thought of themselves as non-conformists but in reality they all looked the same: same blue and black hair, same Nine Inch Nails stickers on their car windows, same combat boots.

We weren’t that different from each other. We just hid behind different costumes.

Several years ago, I took a trip with some friends to the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, an annual gathering notorious for its exhibitionists: a parade of freaks and outsiders and misfits and the people who enjoy watching them expose themselves.

I was intrigued to learn that many of the Folsom libertines lead normal lives on the weekdays but enjoyed Folsom for its openness and community of similarly outfitted peers. Just like nudists might go to a nudist colony or Emo kids to a Morrissey convention, every year Folsom Street Fair opens its gum-stained arms to thousands of social pirates and their booty. One such married couple, donning head to toe leather, admitted they were a doctor and lawyer by day. They agreed to let me take their photo in exchange for a couple of cigarettes and told me they made the trek every year to hold hands, half naked, and watch other couples do the same.

“These are our people,” they said, puffing on my Parliaments.

It is a strange conundrum to go on a portrait safari in quest of misfits and outcasts in a place where they all look alike, fitted in disguises, faces covered, cocks on display. Or breasts. Their eyes hidden behind glasses and masks.

What I found more interesting than the groups of men and women who came to find camaraderie, were the people I found alone. The man dressed up like a nurse with a Barbie backpack and a leopard print suitcase, trying to find his way home. The boy who looked like an angel, crouching amidst the rush of the crowd, a human sundial—his shadow growing across the pavement as the sun moved across the sky. A man in the executioner’s mask, holding his own camera as he offered me his flaccid penis like some kind of sacrifice. And the boy with the spiky Mohawk who stopped to light a cigarette under the “No Stopping” sign.

“Take my picture,” moaned a transvestite in high-heeled shoes, her blond hair whipping about her face in the wind. She posed awkwardly like a queen on The Island of Misfit Toys. “Show the world how beautiful I am.”

I took her picture and she thanked me, kindly asking if I could mail her a copy of the photo. I agreed and took down her address. But after getting my film back and finding her frowning face amidst the dozens of Folsom characters on my proof sheets, I knew I wouldn’t be sending her the print. I was afraid she would see her sadness, that maybe without photographic proof she could maintain her place as queen of the costumed.

What is an outcast and when does one stop being one? Who are the lost boys and girls and what does it take to find them? A couple of cigarettes? A friend? A camera? A mob of people who dress the same? Twins and triplets in matching leather with the same cock rings and sexual deviancy?

And suddenly, the normal girl is the one on the outside, appearing lost amidst the found.

Maybe I should have sent the print to the transvestite in the black dress. Or maybe I saw something in her that I was able to identify in myself. Something private and freakish. Something that reminded me of my own two faces and an underbelly I was afraid to expose.

I do believe that there is a place for everyone in the parade: The performers and the clowns and the marching band and the crowd that loves to watch, searching for answers to questions we are still trying to find the guts to ask ourselves. Trying to find a way to tell our personal stories with the faces of strangers, or better understand our fetishes and oddities, all the while hiding behind cameras or pristine suburban lawns.

There is a story in every face and body piercing and stroke of makeup. There is joy and sadness in the collective lost and found, in the liberated smiles of people finding one another and the frowns of those who arrive at a party, only to feel even more isolated than before. And then there are the libertines, who, when gathered up in a large group, become ordinary. The same.

And maybe that’s the point. Maybe we’re all wandering around trying to find a place to belong, digging through the lost and found bins in search of missing pieces, marching to the beat of someone else’s drum if we haven’t the rhythm to pound our own set of bongos, finding people we can laugh with for all the right reasons—liberating our inner-freak while at the same time, trying to fit in.

Rebecca Woolf is the storied Girl’s Gone Child blogger and author of the forthcoming memoir, Rockabye.

Click on photos to enlarge; mouseover for previous and next.

Weird Sex Stories

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Slate calls the Year in Sex a few months early. Why wait, right? How weird’s your sex year so far?

What Makes A Good Wednesday Night

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

6_word.rev2.jpgWhen you stop in at your favorite bookstore, and the kind and adorable boys who work there let you sneak behind the counter and look up your forthcoming book. And there it is, in their special bookstore computer, and it’s real, and they’ve ordered twelve copies.

Andie, a Beautiful Pregnant Woman

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

LS_Andie_Pregger.jpgMeet Andie Grace, aka ActionGrl, the latest in our series of Beautiful Pregnant Women. Her partner, a great man who answers to the name Thumper, took this shot on AG’s birthday in the deep, dusty Nevada desert. I’ve watched Andie, often from afar, as she’s glided through various life stages, tribes, trials, and transformations with more grace and beauty than sometimes even I can bear. Bassist. Filmmaker. Media maven. The girl you wished was living next door. Girl of Action. Mom to Be. Virgo. Her six-word memoir? “Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that.” Catch her if you can.

Here’s a bonus shot. Don’t tell anyone.

You’re Probably Too Busy, Straightlaced To Like This Site

Monday, September 24th, 2007

passivenote.jpgMy headline plays off the mission of the deceptively simple, totally delicious site, Passive Aggressive Notes , which has been around a while but I just found via my peripheral web vision and a tip from any blogger’s BFF. PAN’s part FOUND Magazine, part Overheard in New York and as addictive as both. In a perfect bit of kismet, I found this note waiting for me when I got home the same day I discovered Passive Aggressive Notes. The gods have an excellent sense of humor. And timing.

Triple Trouble

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Because I’m in a particularly generous mood today, I have three videos. Try not to get too excited. You’re at work. It’ll be embarrassing.

First off is a video blog. Now, I don’t typically like video blogs (soon to be a very ironic statement), but I thought this one was really well done, though it does break down a bit towards the end.

After the jump, a video that features a dog. Who likes a waterslide. Really, it’s probably the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. And a video that has absolutely nothing to do with SMITH whatsoever, but I like it anyway.


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