2019.05.31 // DESK // BROOKLYN //
Today the New York Times cited an apparently non-existent group in a story about trans teens and chest binders, while not quoting anyone who uses a binder, and in another story, the New York Times neglected to cite the real sex workers’ rights group backing the decriminalization bill their story was about, in favor of running long quotes from several groups opposed to full decriminalization. Both are breezy, corny, skimming along like there’s nothing (it’s not like the federal and several state governments are putting any of these lives on the line) of consequence here! manner we all love to hate about the paper that too many people still comport themselves as if preparing for a future desk there.
These are deadly moves. As Noah Zazanis put it, “Seeing a pattern here? They're presenting marginalized people as ‘controversial issues’ rather than human beings with lives. The bigots who want to keep people criminalized and closeted? Just concerned feminists! But if we speak up in our defense, then we're silencing dissent.”
This is Friday Letters.
If you can, see The Garden, the film by Derek Jarman. It’s been restored, I think because this year is the 25th anniversary of Jarman’s death. We should all be staring at this sea.
If you can see it at Metrograph in New York over the next few days, you can also see it with Blue.
Blue was the first Jarman film I saw, my one day off on book tour years ago, drifting in and out of sleep on a bench at the Tate Modern where it was installed at the time. This is the film Jarman made in blindness, his last. There’s no moving picture. Maybe? Maybe the blue field moves? Half awake I think I thought it could be. You could close your eyes to the blue and just listen. Tilda Swinton. Miranda Sex Garden. His voice. It felt wrong, though.
Tilda Swinton made an appearance at Metrograph to introduce The Garden on Tuesday night. She said, to her, Jarman’s films are like family movies. It thundered out so loud the theater stopped for a moment and everyone thought it was just him.
I only want to work at my table now. (It’s not an internet “thing” about photographing the wood surface, I swear. I’ve had it almost as long as I’ve lived in New York; Meaghan and I walked it three blocks from a flea market into my old apartment.) I don’t have a window at my desk, like I did in New Orleans (a backyard in the Bywater with a fig tree) or Las Vegas (a view of the strip from far off in the Arts District, centered on the Stratosphere), the two cities where I’ve made the most progress on the next book. Now I can’t work without it, and the kitchen is the only place in this apartment where I can get just enough sky. I didn’t know how much I needed just to stare and be aimless that way.
The last few weeks since New Orleans have been a readjustment, which maybe I can say more about later, if it’s actually interesting. It’s just been 18 months non-stop writing about the dead and violence. Saying it like that, of course scheduling some staring out the window seems obvious.
COMING UP //
I’m going back to Las Vegas for a little bit, either to finish or revise the proposal for the next book, called WAYWARD (will I keep the title all-caps? I doubt it, but I go on styling it that way), mostly depending on how much progress I make this week, reading about girls’ reformatories, and a little depending on how long I underestimated it would take.
I finished my first story for The New Republic so watch for that in the next print issue, and more to come.
And if you love KLUTE something good is coming here in July, and it’s not just the Criterion release, but it’s connected…
BACK MATTER //
“Inside The New Movement To Decriminalize Sex Work In NY” / Gothamist, 2019.02.25
STATION IDENTIFICATION //
This is Friday Letters, by Melissa Gira Grant (me), the author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work and a journalist covering gender, sexuality, law, and power.
My back hurts, too. See you in June.