by_Joanne Leah_4

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Old Masterish photographs by the the astonishing Joanne Leah. I’ve never been beautiful but I’m kinda all there, even when beastly, there’s something really harmonious in the dissonance, I appreciate Joanne’s ability to offer proof.

I Don’t Need Anything but You[th]

I was at the vet with Spencer and Faunti (aka Fauntleroy, aka Homeslice) on Saturday (we were there for Faunti). Faunti was an absolute gem: took it up the ass like a champ, welcomed inspections of all other material orifices, lost one pound and an ounce since his previous vet called him rotund, like that. Neither the vet nor the vet tech seemed to admire his perfection, so I actually said, “Isn’t he such a patient patient?” Silence. “Isn’t he a great guy?” Crickets. “He’s awesome, right?” Nothin’. The vet grudgingly tells me he’s in fine health, but blasély mentions that he has Grade 2 dental decay and will require a $1040 cleaning. As she sticks the smelling salts in front of my nose and I come to, she says, “Don’t worry, it can wait until Dental Month.” “The fuck?” I ask. She says “February’s dental month and there’s a coupon for 10% off.” She adds: “I’ve been made to understand that your people respond favorably to coupons.” She didn’t say that, but she might as well have.

She could have at least buttered me up by telling me my cat was adorable before dropping this insanely expensive dental procedure on me. Spence and I are walking to the car with the cat and I say “Did you notice that they didn’t admire the cat once whereas in the past someone would always tell us how lovely he was, at least while he was being fingered?” Spence said that they saw so many animals, it was understandable. But it dawned on me that it’s ageism: He’s ten, and he supposedly has these English meth-head teeth now, and I just think that, no matter how many of his rusty “hoops” he lets them jump through (anal and otherwise), he’ll never again be treated like Orphan Annie at the end of Act I, when she gets to the mansion, and it just breaks my heart! If it isn’t clear, this obviously has less than nothing to do with Faunti.

This was a residual feeling of erasure, projected. It’s just that when you think you look really good as you leave the house, but then find yourself refracted at yourself by being bounced off your own erasure at a dance club, which forces you to remember that your own perspective was originally skewed and that this here with strangers is reflection and not refraction, and that the only reason you don’t render yourself hideous everyday when you look at yourself is that you’re being afforded the luxury of digestion of your erosion, day after day, in bite-sized increments, which spares you the cruelty of contrast.

faunti 2


The Cost of Intrusiveness

I thought of not telling you guys this but it’s too funny so I am. I just switched from Time Warner/Spectrum to Fios (cause Fios is cheaper, oddly) and the guy I instructed to cancel my service tries to retain me awkwardly even though I’d just told him that I already had Fios installed. I’m getting annoyed when he pries “what do you use your internet for?” so I say totally convincingly “just tons of child porn and the occasional fashion blog, see I’m not a gamer, so I don’t require speed, well not internet speed.” And then I tried to wait silently for a reaction and I was good for five seconds which was a really long five seconds, but then I burst out laughing and then he was laughing and we couldn’t stop laughing for like twelve minutes.

He said he’s been waiting for someone to fuck with him in reply to that question for three long years. We laughed through the rest of the conversation. He told me I was due a credit of $4.43 and he’d send a check, and I told him, see, one of the reasons I was leaving him was that he wasn’t generous and he had this habit of pretending that things I was entitled to were gifts. He laughed so hard, but then I said, “It would be really awful if in the midst of you laughing so hard, if now you heard in the background “Ms. can I put on my clothes now, it’s cold!'” and you had to worry about what that meant…” He didn’t find that funny and stopped laughing, and then I didn’t find any of it funny, and we hung up the phone.


Another photograph by Erin Albrecht.

Never Mind the Bolex

SMOOTH BULLDOG BALLS ARE NOT BETTER LOOKING OR WORSE LOOKING. I imagine it’s a total wash (totally even, in terms of numbers of partners who prefer smooth bulldog balls to, say, pruned rat terrior balls to, say, castrated balls). Speaking of a wash, clean balls ARE preferred according to peer reviewed studies.

This video reminded me of the time when I was 12, and i was watching Oprah and she had a makeup artist on the show, who declared that what is best is if your eyes are at least an eye length away from each other, and if they aren’t, you could delude people by only putting eyeliner on the outer edges of the waterline (which, btw, looks really fuckin weird, and is what my sister and i did for the next five years). I remember running to the bathroom mirror during the break, and measuring the width of my eye and then the distance between eyes, and just feeling shattered to realize that here again was another reason I was unfit. i had no idea that a narrow face was disgusting until that day, no specialist had yet broken the news. I think I said to my mom, “Why didn’t you tell me?” and she was like “It’s news to me, sorry that you’ve suddenly been pronounced heinous-looking.” Thank fuck it didn’t occur to me at the time that half of the kids at school were watching Oprah, and learning with me that day that I was even less atrractive than they’d thought.

Regarding the video, I think it’s interesting that we don’t get to see the before and after so we’re meant to dream up what “better” looks like and how gross he must have been to begin with. Give me a break! ARE PERFECTLY DISGUSTING BALLS NOT EVEN SACRED ANYMORE? NOBODY HAD A PROBLEM WITH THEM. How good are they supposed to look? It’s beside their point. It’s like trying to enter an unsuspecting manatee in a children’s beauty pageant. Jeeeesus. And, no, it’s not refreshing to me that men are subjected to this shit too. It’s just utter bollocks!

Speaking of which, the night Spencer and I first met in London, we’d all wound up back at his, and the two of us were playing pool, and chatting it up, and I told him I was in film school, and he rather abruptly asked if I wanted to go to his room to see his bollocks. What a nonsequitir! I got confused and a little creeped out, but i figured, he seemed like a nice guy, this must be just a cultural difference, it must just be how British people standardly start the courting, like that’s where the British initially focus their energies during a first light-petting session. Whereas in America, we might start by brushing a little hair over an ear and then progress to a light kiss, a nibble on the neck, and take it from there, in England, the couple would just dispense with such subtleties and go straight to exposing the balls (and somehow only the balls) for immediate appraisal and manipulation, I surmised. It wasn’t a dealbreaker, and I did go to his room, cause, come on, he was so cute and funny, so i was prepared to do as the Romans do, and be culturally sensitive…but I will admit that when he proudly pulled out his badly-broken Bolex 16mm film camera, I was slightly relieved. True story.


Piz Paz

Spencer and I are in a huge fight. At 1am, we went for a slice on Bedford at Anna Maria Pizza and Pasta (which we have always called PizPaz). As we started eating, Spence jumped up in typical frenetic Spence mode to grab a soda. I’m generally not a forker, having grown up in the heart of pizza territory, but PizPaz pizza can get unwieldy if you haven’t had it in a while. my inability to cope with my Pizpaz slice manually was definitely a reflection of my losing my edge, so I was a bit bummed to ask out loud for Spence to grab me a fork and knife while he was up and you could see Spence was appalled that I would require implements.

Spence grabs a fork contemptuously and on his way back to the table, he somehow manages to not only drop the fork but toss it behind him to the side of a massive, bald, rageful meathead. Spence starts to laugh at the absurdity of his fork toss and I’m laughing with him, only I see the guy is furious so I apologize at once for Spence’s behavior. Spence notices pretty late that the guy is furious at which point he also apologizes. The guy looks at Spence, and displays two fists. His knuckles have on them, get this, scabs, scars AND fresh blood. The guy starts smashing his fists together again and again. Spence apologizes again but this time, he’s a bit miffed by having to, and of course more fist smashing. I’ll admit I lost my fuckin shit at this point. I scream at the dude to punch me in the face in the shop, I cackle at the absurdity of his being willing to fight because of a dropped plastic fork, I dramatize the horror of a plastic fork in flight, I scream what I always scream, that is “So you think we’re fresh off the bus from Oklahoma?!?” I just lose it.

During my rant, I took the time to acknowledge that Spence hadn’t apologized fast enough (I know these people, I am these people, there’s a window, and it could have seemed like Spence was laughing at the dude when he was laughing at his own stupidity) but my main through-line was “I will process you into jerky if you try to hurt my husband.” The husband I was trying to protect was screaming at me to shut it while the customers were laughing. The guy tells Spence he’ll see him outside, Spence goes to take a shit, muttering to himself en route, seven people tell me how awesome I am and how awful the guy is, the dude stands outside waiting for us to leave, I call the cops, Spence tells me I am the worst person, some lovely woman who had left Pizpaz comes back from the subway to tell us the dude was in the station, having run off when he saw me making a call and pointing to my phone menacingly. Spence and I run out of the place and scream at each other for seven hours. You’re welcome.


Hideous and yet undeniable photograph by Joanne Leah.


Two Lips, That Freak

I haven’t exercised in months, so I went out running at 11pm in Propsect Park. It was freezing and the wind was thrashing at my labia. Was there a hole in my tights at my labia? How could that have happened, I thought?  I felt for a hole without at first noticing a cyclist pass. When he saw me groping my crotch so urgently, he seemed flummoxed and swerved, nearly falling. No hole [in the fabric], so I kept running. I punched my legs as I went, to kind of bully my blood into circulation. I felt victimized at this point by the cold and the exhaustion, and thanatos was shrieking in my ear “Stop, leave, YOU SUCK, DIE MOTHAFUCKA!!!”

I wondered if I wasn’t permanently damaging my labia or, conversely, whether this was going to benefit them in the long run, and if the latter, I could write about a new strategy for Teen Vogue and I’d finally impress everyone with my entrepeneurial spirit! Maybe I could patent the Cryogenic Labial Technique for rejeuvenation. In the press release, would I mention how cryogenic serves as a a double entendre since I was certainly in cry-level pain presently? Or would it be more prudent to hide this level of pain?

Halfway around the lake, the elastic around my waist decided to go on strike, and my tights starting sliding down. This was more of a blessing than a curse for it allowed me to reframe and worry about another matter, mainly humliating myself. It was one thing to sport gangrene labia and anticipate some doctor applying a labial tourniquet and then being labiumless moving forward, but quite another for my tights to fall off while I was running. I was holding my pants with one hand, and pumping and punching with the other. I was listening to the Can station on Pandora, and that must have improved things, but I worried that I’d associate this awful experience with Can and grow an aversion. I decided to look at this all as a first world issue of sorts. My mother is severely disabled and can’t walk across a room easily, let alone necrotize her labia while running miles in the frigid cold, for instance…this was an opportunity, gosh darn it. And you know what? I felt an inner peace grow…then worried that this peace was what death is.


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Photograph by Joanne Leah.

Traitor at Joe’s

I went to Trader Joe’s at the busiest time yesterday. Big mistake. Shopping passive aggressively was this muscular-faced bleach blonde woman with an exhibitionist-type nose that looked like it was smashed up against a pane glass window, the insides of her nostrils were happy to see me. She was wearing pilled Lululemon leggings and a tight tank with the words “Crossfit: I heart burpees!” on it. I noticed her first at canned fish. She spat “Excuse me!” to nobody and grabbed the albacore as I grabbed the smoked trout. She clearly hated my choice. We glared at each other to brush off the discomfort (though her open, come-hither nostrils offered inadvertant contrast to her snarl), then stormed off at the same pace in opposite directions down the aisle.

As we turned to stare back at each other, I caught the back of her shirt: “Your work-out is my warm-up.” I was affronted, but then I unwittingly conveyed my agreement in the form of my cardigan tied around my waist, curtaining my wilted, sulking, unmotivated ass. Moments later, I heard her shrill “Excuse me!!!” again as I was quickly grabbing some half & half. I’d taken the regular pint but admittedly felt guilty, and maybe it took a full three seconds for me to reverse my course and grab the organic…I wasn’t happy about spending two dollars more—who would be?—and I thought for a second that the rBST-free label could appease me on the factory-farmed, but the guilt was digging in its heels, and so I grabbed the organic resentfully and smugly, both… But I wasn’t loitering! Bitch was trying to worm her way to the fat-free half&half, WHATEVER THE FUCK THAT WAS?!? i thought about offering that she just go for the skipjack instead of the fattier albacore and indulge in some real half & half, but then I decided she deserved the mercury poisoning and I kept my mouth shut. But why all her scoffing,? I wasn’t even in her way, it almost seemed like she was begging to be impeded by my presence.

Again we parted ways, rage was escaping like a rash across my consciousness. We met for the third time at Avocados. She looked like the-bag-of-avocados type, so I thought I was safe at the single avocados crate, when I suddenly hear the familiar huffy “Excuse me!!!” one. last. time. You have gots to be kidding, I was merely fishing out fat ones and squeezing, just normal avocado-choosing behavior and plenty of room for her to the left. I needed to finish her: “Listen, sweetheart, I’m not loitering at the single avocado crate, trying to make new friends… I am choosing an avocado, and that requires that I station myself in close proximity to the avocados. What, should I be bringing a few at a time over to the goat yogurt section, and assess their viability over there, and then, when none meets my exacting standards, bring them back and take a few more to Goat Yogurt  for review?”  She was stunned and I heard her murmer: “Excuse me!” This was a slight change in emphasis, focusing on the me instead of the excuse… Her earlier excuse mees were all versions of a euphemistic “Permit me to occupy you seamlessly!” This new version was “Shit, she noticed, but the very fact that I exist is excuse enough for my incursions.” It’s  “I occupy, therefore I am.”

I was worried that this manifest destinarian would never stop saying excuse me, worried more for strangers than for myself. I inhaled deeply to calm myself and I whispered, almost sexually (reasoning that it would be harder for her to feel defensive if I sounded seductive: “Please stop saying “excuse me” for the next 72 hours, it’s a crutch, you have to short circuit your impatience. Just pause. You’re beautiful…We’re all beautiful… just breathe in the fact that I like smoked trout and supple avocadoes…..and it won’t kill you. Say it after me: YOU LIKE SMOKED TROUT, AND SUPPLE AVOCADOES, AND REAL HALF AND HALF…She didn’t say it, she looked frightened, I tried again “Ok, now both of us: YOU LIKE SMOKED TROUTH AND SUPPLE AVOCADOES…and…it…won’t….kill…me” She wasn’t repeating the words with me and I won’t pretend that wasn’t awkward, she was instead biting her lower lip, and she kept looking around the store, hoping someone would step in, but to her credit, she didn’t walk away and she didn’t say “Excuse Me.”  And so I said “Look, you can go at anytime…, I know you think you’re afraid, but I can sense that at least your nostrils are open to the totality…from here forward, I recommend that you are guided by those nostrils.” I put my avocadoes down and left her in exchange for the company  of turkey meatball and frozen enchiladas that have on occasion given me listeria.

Erin ear

Photograph by Erin Albrecht.



I feel like I’m getting overly notified by email at every turn of the shipping and handling experience. Recent Uniqlo notification: “Fulfillment associate swaddled sweater in tissue paper.” Two minutes later I get another one: “After finding an over-sized box, the massiveness of which in relation to the small sweater will serve to baffle you upon reception, fulfillment associate started to tuck sweater in, all the while anxious himself about his poor choice in box, when suddenly he felt like he was going to shit himself, and proceeded to the bathroom, kegeling for dear life. This might delay the shipment, depending on the extremity and duration of his situation.” Twelve minutes later. “Hands were sterilized, and your shipment has been packed with care, ready to be labeled lovingly.” The next day: “Six or seven handlers have had their way with your large package, but we are thrilled to report that one of these days we will release it to the authorities for shipping.”

Executive Orders

Executive order 321 as drafted by Mike Pence: “Clinical pelvic exams, out-of-wedlock, will be officially replaced by a less intimate procedure, the pelvic prediction. All so-called gynecologists will be deported to Ethiopia, and will be replaced by certified fortune tellers, renamed forunetologists, who will conduct thorough pelvic predictions from a safe distance followed by excessive apologies and a curative prayer session.

I'm sorry Trump
But seriously, I love this new executive order. So brave.

Executive order #7213: All clinically proven treatments of sexually transmitted diseases and sexually acquired infections and injuries are suspended for a period of 90 days for unmarried women. Gynecologists will be required to memorize Leviticus 20, and recite the passage to patients in loving monotony. Homosexual exchanges will be suspended except by evangelical pastors, contingent on their donations to pedophile candidates. Prospective masturbators are now eligible to apply for parole, the M-2 Visa, or temporary permission to masturbate, for a period of two years and, if granted, can apply to extend the temporary permission to continue masturbating for an additional three years. Sexual intercourse during menses is suspended until further whim. Women are to be surgically altered with a labial zipper that must be in the upright position during menses. Infection caused by a backflow of blood and other matter should be tolerated graciously.

Trump, short of killing myself


OMG, this is really crossing the line:  #666 The new executive order that requires that any citizen with one or more ancestors who originally came here in chains be deported by containership to the closest nation in which any or all said ancestors were originally sold. Beverages, doritos, and planters fiesta flavored nut mix will be provided onboard for a fee. To determine provenance, HHS will collect DNA samples at all federally funded schools, libraries and museums.

The Lox Club

I’m still going through my grandmother’s copious amount of paperwork a year and half after she died at age 105, and today I came across this magna carta of sorts: At 85, she ordained herself  the vice president of a lox club, or should I say “The Lox Club,” perhaps  the only lox club on earth. That adorable woman! The first meeting was help at her apartment in the East Village, and, significantly her name  was spelled wrong on the agenda, which would have infuriated her…and she would have insisted on copyediting the next agenda before it was printed…then she might have held a secret meeting to fire the secretary…followed by the meticulous fabrication, and then repetitive pin-stabbing of the former secretary’s voodoo doll. Baba Lox Club

My Baba honored the sanctity of a correctly pronounced and spelled name…except when it was anyone else’s name but hers. Rage notwithstanding, she knew how to live life and get her lox off!  I wonder if my Baba Liza took her job too seriously (she certainly took mothering too seriously for anyone’s good) and whether she affected a Louis Gossett Jr./Ed Norton-type  persona? Did the rare ingredient, the hickory smoked salt, burn her uvula, and make her even more dictatorial? Did she flip out when she realized Frieda neglected to bring capers, that Luba can’t slice red onions paper-thinly to save her life?  Did she try to re-frame after her tantrum, and pass out samples of hickory smoked salt in cocaine-like vials as party favors? These are all questions I can no longer ask her, but maybe she’d have never answered them. After all “Whatever Happens in Lox Club Stays in Lox Club.”