Mid-Week Memo: Punk Rock and Feminist

Bored of your lodgings smelling like Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina? Worry not. There’s a new scented candle in town, and it smells like Gwyneth Paltrow’s orgasm, and is conveniently called thus. A snip at $75 on Goop website, it continues the “punk rock and feminist” (her words) tradition of Paltrow selling smelly wax in the name of female empowerment.

In case you must know what her climax smells like, well, it’s a combination of “tart grapefruit, neroli, and ripe cassis berries blended with gunpowder tea and Turkish rose”. If you don’t like the smell of your own orgasms or would just like to have them intensified with some tart grapefruit wafting around, This Smells Like My Orgasm could be an interesting lockdown treat.

Honestly, what would the world be without celebrities.

The last couple of days have seen an exodus of senior fashion-people leaving their own companies amidst racism accusations and their failure to ensure diversity and equal treatment of co-workers. Christene Barberich, co-founder and CEO of Refinery29 stepped down. Leandra Medine of Manrepeller she founded, left too. Audrey Gelman, co-founder and CEO of The Wing (super-hyped women’s coworking space concept) left. There are other big names at Elle and Condé Nast that had to go. Anna Wintour is, according to official statements, will continue at the helm of Vogue, her position seemingly cemented after 32 years.

At the same time, Harper’s Bazaar U.S. hired the first woman of colour as the Editor in Chief, Samira Nasr, who moves from Vanity Fair where she was the executive fashion director.
Suggestion: follow her Instagram account @samiranasr for great street style looks as well as pictures of her fabulous apartment.
Given the turmoil in media and publishing, there will hopefully be more inclusive and forward-looking appointments in the pipeline.

These news and changes are not unremarkable, because many were willing to dismiss the (first) U.S. demonstrations as something that always happens following police brutality, and that life would quickly resume to normal. It looks like nothing of the sort, which is an exciting prospect.

Year 2020 clearly is being a giant asshole, but might also act as a much needed reset/catharsis/catalyst to reassess many of our old ways and beliefs and a possibility to do better. Human rights and how our societies organise themselves to offer the most basic services from healthcare to education have been brought to the frontline like never before. While the shortcomings are being exposed in a brutally raw manner, there’s also a rather unprecedented amount of community and people’s willingness to help whichever way they can.

Someone to surely have worthy reflections about all of the above is Zadie Smith, whose new essay collection Intimations will be out in August. It contains 6 essays written in lockdown. (On personal level I cannot stand anybody who has managed to produce publishable material during lockdown. In my defence, I rather successfully introduced chopped capers into meatballs batter, so it’s not like I’ve accomplished nothing.)

Smith read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations in the beginning of the pandemic, as she felt she’s in need of practical assistance to weather through the weird unknown. (Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161-180 – the last emperor of Pax Romana, and a Stoic philosopher.) Another author who has been referencing Aurelius during the pandemic is Elizabeth Gilbert (her podcast appearance in Time Ferris -podcast a couple of weeks ago), so Meditations might be worthy a revisit. And especially all civil servant readers, take note: Aurelius’ Meditations are widely considered a literary monument to a government of service and duty.

Marcus Aurelius’s victory column finds itself in Piazza Colonna in Rome, easily observed also from afar as it’s a gigantic fallos symbol, atop of which rests a statue of Saint Paul, replacing the original Aurelius-statue which was nicked during the Middle Ages.

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