Hello, would you like to buy something weird? Hammer Time is our guide to things that are for sale at auction: fantastic, consequential and freakishly grotesque archival treasures that appear in public for just a brief moment, most likely never to be seen again.
"Stephen went down Bedford row, the handle of the ash clacking against his shoulderblade. In Clohissey’s window a faded 1860 print of Heenan boxing Sayers held his eye. Staring backers with square hats stood round the roped prizering. The heavyweights in tight loincloths proprosed gently each other his bulbous fists. And they are throbbing: heroes’ hearts." —James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 10, The Wandering Rocks
Tom Sayers’ right arm had been broken since the sixth round, but his bare-knuckled left fist still rendered John Camel Heenan’s face unrecognizable. During Round 29, Sayers’ only working fist finally managed to make contact with Heenan’s only working eye. But even with both eyes swollen shut, Heenan managed to end Round 37 with Sayers’ neck firmly placed between his hands and the rope. Exhausted, he leaned his 195-pound frame into his opponent, whose face turned purple under the pressure.
And that was before the rope was cut and the crowd rushed the ring. They still had five more rounds to go.
It had all begun months earlier. Bare-knuckle prize-fighting was illegal, but nearly every newspaper in the world had breathlessly speculated about the world’s first Heavyweight Championship. On April 17, 1860, thousands of men knew to show up at the London Bridge Station by 4 a.m. and purchase three-guinea tickets. The destination was marked "To Nowhere," and the trains were simply called "Southbound Specials."
Today in London, Bonhams auctioned off a color lithograph showing around 3,000 men— rumored to include Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and the Prince of Wales—crowded behind the Ship Inn in Farnborough. READ MORE
★★★ The shorts the kindergartener wanted were in the laundry, as were several other acceptable fallback shorts options. Lots of pairs of shorts were in the laundry. The morning warmth was nothing much till you stood still at a crosswalk and let the sun catch up with you. A woman was using a cheap black umbrella as a parasol. By late midday, it seemed as if umbrellas would need to be umbrellas. A stroll out for a sandwich, in the oncoming dimness and dampness, seemed doomed. But the rain held off, even as the sky's burden grew heavier and darker. Every trip outside felt like a narrow escape, a bit of unearned luck. The radar showed angry colored strokes all up the mid-Atlantic, with an arbitrary gap over New York, where the brush had lifted on a whim. The gap finally closed around leaving time, and the clouds yielded a gentle but unignorable rain. Or almost unignorable—the guy ahead in line at the bodega wanted to talk about umbrella price and quality, but in the end he bought only some tallboys ringed together, some snack chips, and a pack of cigarettes. Wet clothes steamed on the subway platform, and hair made ringlets. The clouds gave way to the sunset—first luminous rents in the western sky, then the full disc asserting itself, and finally an eerie upward wash of pink (orange, the kindergartner argued, watching it) while the river went orange and blue. Orange, blue, and pink, the kindergartener said.
While most professional comedians keep busy by involving themselves in many different projects, it seems like Jenny Slate has a lot going on even compared to her most diligent peers. In addition to recurring roles on Parks and Recreation, House of Lies, and Kroll Show, Slate is writing the new Looney Tunes movie for Warner Brothers and, as she reveals in the following interview, co-writing an independent movie based on her hit viral video, "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On." On top of all of that, she has a new web series, Catherine, which debuted on the YouTube comedy channel JASH last month. Slate stars in Catherine as the title character and also co-writes the series with her husband, Dean Fleischer-Camp, who directs. Three new episodes of Catherine are set to debut today, and I had the chance to talk to Slate about the series, why she's turning Marcel the Shell into a movie, and the sitcom pilot she starred in with Kristen Schaal and June Diane Raphael that ABC bafflingly didn't pick up. READ MORE
One of my fondest memories of my best friend is a fight that escalated with me hurling a bottle of Advil at her head, and her firing back by lobbing the TV remote at my torso. We loved each other, but living with your closest friend isn’t easy. As with siblings, you know each other too well to be on your best behavior; you know nothing permanent will be lost if you toss a salt shaker at her because she forgot to wash her dishes for the tenth day in a row. That’s the beauty of true friendship–you can express yourself, and chances are, you’ll apologize and head to happy hour once the dishes are washed and the saltshaker retrieved.
In film, fights between women are usually sexualized (bikini-clad girls mud wrestling and pretending to be mad at each other; boobalicious 1960s Russ Meyer babes pulling hair and rolling around in the desert), or viewed as negative expressions of female envy and pettiness. In her 2003 book Catfight, Leora Tanenbaum writes, “Competitiveness between women is a fact. It has a history and function in American society that does not benefit women.”
She’s right that sabotage benefits no one, but two women fighting with each other doesn’t have to be embarrassing or even negative. Sometimes catfights are cathartic and funny, and I’m not just talking about Kill Bill-style beat-downs. As fun as it is to watch women expertly kicking ass—each others’ asses, too—on screen, what I’m talking about are fights between women who aren’t wielding Hattori Hanzo swords, the ones that feel pleasurably, uncomfortably real. READ MORE
What do you do when a Facebook friend who you vaguely know dies suddenly? What's the most sanity-inducing route of dealing with the fact that you have weird online links to their internet presence? A childhood friend passed away this week at the age of 32. It was a surprise. I had not talked to her in about five years, after a fairly disastrous night at a bar that ended with her drinking too much and haranguing me for an hour. But we were childhood friends, and played sports together, and I played at her house, and I enjoyed talking to her when I knew her from ages 8 – 18, so hearing about her death inspires feelings, but I'm not particularly sure how to classify them. Is there new etiquette around death these days, considering the variety of spheres in which we have avatars? Is it rude to defriend her on Facebook, even though I've looked at her page probably about ten times in the past few days, and it's her life, frozen, forever? How do you grieve today?
I'm just thrown by this information. If you had anything to say about processing grief, I'd love to hear it.
FB Stands For Feeling Bad
Without a doubt, we are embarking on a strange new way of dealing with sickness, death and grieving. An old friend dies and you find out way too late, then end up reading backwards on Facebook, tracing the horrible path from early sickness to fundraising blogs to hopes of experimental treatments to a sudden death announcement by a spouse or friend. Or you do that with a friend of a friend, because you're morbid and you can't stop yourself. Thanks to the way the internet functions in our lives, sometimes it's tough to separate mourning from rubbernecking, supporting from procrastinating, mourning a loss from obsessing about our own eventual death.
I can understand why your old friend's death feels so disconcerting to you. You've been friends for years, lately you've been out of touch, and now she's gone. Maybe you need to track down a mutual friend and talk about it. But sometimes that's not possible, or it feels inappropriate, so you have to find a way to mourn on your own.
But processing these things on your own can also be seriously disconcerting. Two years ago, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. He and his wife (also a close friend) set up a Facebook page and shared regular updates on how his treatment was progressing. These two had an enormous group of friends, and posts to the page by that wide circle ranged from moving to hilarious to sweetly supportive to tone-deaf. There were a lot of thoughtful, smart people in the mix and they often made me cry. But there was so much updating and commenting that it often felt overwhelming. Even though I was in close touch with my friend's wife, she mostly disseminated info on the page because it was too exhausting to do otherwise, so I started to worry that I'd miss some crucial bit of news if I didn't check the page first thing in the morning and right before bed. READ MORE
"Country singer Slim Whitman, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy 'Mars Attacks!,' died Wednesday at a Florida hospital. He was 90."
Los Angeles Times reporter Jasmine Elist interviewed the author known as "Marie Calloway." (That is a pen name; if you don't know her, you could start here.) The Times published the interview as a Q&A on Monday. Calloway's response? "I was misquoted a lot tbf." (Old people: "tbf" stands for "to be fair." I know, it's just so many letters, thank God.) "To be fair" is a weird construction there: to be fair to whom? I asked the reporter about it, baitingly.
@Choire :) No, I don't. But I do think she'll always have a bone to pick with the people who interview her
— Jasmine Elist (@JasmineElist) June 18, 2013
This week, tennis star Serena Williams did the same thing over an interview she didn't like, with zero compunction about trashing a reporter. A bit of her forthcoming Rolling Stone profile went online yesterday, in which Serena uttered the unfortunate phrase "I'm not blaming the girl, but…" about the teenaged Steubenville rape victim, and then went on about responsible teenaged drinking. (Serena Williams, of all people, is in no position to talk about normal teenagehood!) How was the response? READ MORE
When I began taking out student loans for university, I had a fool-proof five-year plan for paying them off. I was going to go to graduate school, become an elementary school teacher, work in a high-needs public school for five years, and have the rest of my federal debt forgiven. Simple. If I stuck with the plan, I didn’t need to worry about those loans at all.
Of course, life didn’t go as smoothly as I had envisioned as an 18-year-old. This became glaringly apparent 10 years later, when I received an email from the HR department at my company:
Attached is a copy of a Wage Garnishment Order filed by the U.S. Department of Education.
We are commanded to immediately remit 15% of your disposable pay to the U.S. Department of Education each pay period. Deductions will begin on your next paycheck. We cannot reduce, amend or discontinue the deduction without written authorization from the U.S. Department of Education.
Please contact our office should you have questions or require additional information.
I have a confession to make. I’ve defaulted on my student loans. I know I’m not alone in this. But here we are. We all have our reasons for being in this situation. It’s not a shameful or embarrassing position to be in. It just is. And, as I’ve recently learned, we have options if we aren’t afraid to pursue them. READ MORE
There are events to do in New York City. Lunchtime fun at the Bryant Park Reading Room with Jami Attenberg and Fiona Maazel; dinnertime fun with Susan Orlean and Randy Cohen at the 92Y. Plus Will Leitch's chatfest at Housing Works about Jeremy Lin and Neil Gaiman at Symphony Space. And another free Laurie Anderson show down in Rockefeller Park. And more.
Nick Drake would have been 65 today. This seems as good a way as any to start things off.
Koh Masaki was Japan's foremost gay porn star when he died one month ago today. "It must have taken him a lot of courage to decide to live in Japan. I've realized that recently," Masaki said, about his partner, Tenten, a model and Chinese expatriate that he met on a train home from a Lady Gaga concert. They were talking to the photographer Keiichi Nitta for a recent video series profiling gay couples for Vice Japan. In the video, Masaki, soft-spoken and with a close-cropped beard circling his angular face, never talks explicitly about his work in adult film, but his many fans would have had no trouble recognizing him.
"It's my duty to take care of him," Masaki said, glancing over at Tenten.
By the time he died from peritonitis after an appendix operation, at just 29, Masaki had established a celebrity persona in a business where such a thing hadn't existed before. Japanese censorship laws require blurring genitalia, but social stigma leads many performers (regardless of gender) to obscure their faces, too. Dark sunglasses, hats and blacked-out swimming goggles are common accessories in an industry whose overall value has been estimated at around $20 billion.
As the Internet and social media continue to transform gay life, particularly in Southeast Asia, Masaki's career hints at one of its biggest contradictions: greater connectedness isn't necessarily driving a push for social progress—at least not in all the ways familiar in the West. By forgoing anonymity, Masaki didn't set out to remake society. Still, his decision gave many gay men more than just a recognizable face in the porn they watched. He created a role model who not only enjoyed gay sex but openly identified with it. What's more, Masaki seemed to have thought it his duty to look out for them, too. READ MORE