Category Archives: Uncategorized

Party Down

Party Down: Navigating the Summer Social Scene Together

By Emily Johnson

A friend is in a six-month burgeoning relationship. She’s very independent, down-to-earth, and dating a sweet guy. He wants to spend all his time with her. For her part she’s trying to establish some boundaries.

They were going to a party one night and she was a bit dreading it. “I want to be free to have a good time, and not have to worry about him,” she continued. “I like to be able to do my own thing,” she said, “you know?”

“But sometimes I just get defensive and mean,” she said and then laughed. “It makes him keener, if anything!”

Separate Lives

I remembered instantly what it was like to negotiate a party with my ex, and finding it an unexpected minefield. “Festivals are for old friends and new lovers,” someone told me at a festival after he’d lost me (on purpose).

Now, listening to my friend on the other side of this equation I understood better my ex’s need to exert independence, even though he was being a jerk, and my counterproductive neediness in response.

As I relax through the long weekend of Memorial Day I’m happy to be going into summer sans partner.

Read more in the July 2016 issue of Industry Magazine.

Sticking Together

I was bartending at an after party for a play, and one of the actors was very young, obviously fresh to the scene, and excited. A few times he came over to shyly ask for wine. He checked in with his girlfriend, was very attentive, even as he had attention from all corners.

As the crowd thinned and the wine bottles emptied, he came over once more for a last cup. The girlfriend stopped him, saying, “Do you really wanna do that?”

He hung his head a bit, and she backed off right away. “Well it’s your night you do what you want.”

Couples, man.

I watched idly this little scene, he was overacting on stage but very real right now.

Off to the side the main actor, a studly Irish gent of middle age, stood with an older woman,  a member of the board. She’s impeccably turned out–I want her patent leather shoes–and she takes a gentle but firm hold of his arm as she leans in to whisper to him.

All 6’2 of him laughs and leans in and out. This one was better on stage, maybe too good off.

The house managers, suddenly off duty, invited me to scour the BBQ leftovers and to give them a beer. We chatted and bided our time til the hall was empty, or empty enough to gently nudge the remainders.

 

 

 

 

Road Rules: Traveling over the holidays

My latest for Industry’s Nov/Dec issue. Road Rules: Or, how to holiday travel together without driving each other crazy.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 3.15.09 PM

It’s the time of year when opportunities to travel together come up for both new and more seasoned couples. From Thanksgiving through December, Hannukkah, Ramadan, and Christmas come in fast succession. The whole yawning month of frenzied activity ramps up as the year comes to a close. For new couples this can be a trial by fire, as it can involve not just travel (a natural stressor for some) but also possibly meeting family, seeing childhood homes and friends, exes, etc. Here are a few things to think about when making your first trip as a couple.

Keep reading on Industry’s website here.

I had some real burnout this year writing about relationships, and, let’s be honest, even being involved in relationships. Is it a relief, a comfort, that we feel so perpetually renewed by the feeling of love, that we open our hearts again and again, that we build someone up, that we’re completely fascinated and want everything? I don’t know. I thought it was about time I just grew up and got over my romantic notions and got with reality. Relationships will disappoint you if you let them remain part of some watery province of melodrama. This year’s writing largely reflects my attempts to be more hard-nosed about it, but I can’t pretend I didn’t cross over into cynicism and bitterness occasionally. The more reality you let in, though, the more of a case is made for it, and the less it makes sense to cherry-pick experiences, feelings, people, moods. Suddenly it doesn’t matter what (or who) you do, but how you do it, how you respond.

See you in the new year, and thanks for everyone’s support. In 2014, I bought a house, started to feel truly autonomous and savvy, then got really busy, and now I’m back. I’m looking forward to much more content going up here, meaning more yoga, more publishing, and in general, more quirky, serious fun in 2015.

Happy holidays!

Turn around

Inside Game of Thrones

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 1.58.24 PM

Yes I know everyone’s obsessed with Breaking Bad right now, what can I say? Print waits for no show. In my latest article for Industry, I look at the themes of Game of Thrones, which offers a case study of personal politics and the rules of cause and effect, if we are paying attention. HBO shows do not kowtow to our hero myths, and one could argue that they’ve influenced mainstream entertainment away from the old watered down, picture-postcard universe of blockbuster fantasy (we won’t talk about Sex and the City right now). That’s why we love them (Sopranos, Enlightened, GoT) and why they are better than most TV, even most really good TV.  Plus, GoT has a lot of awesome female characters (looking at you, Breaking Bad, but I love you anyway!).

It is always interesting to think of why a certain trend happens at a certain time. And as little as I want to overstretch some tenuous pop cultural connection, it does seem strange that we are lapping up HBO’s Game of Thrones series’ political intrigue, lax morality, and wanton disregard for others’ personal freedom with an almost sociopathic appetite.

Read more here.

What Man Wants

“Pleasure, success, and duty are never man’s ultimate goals; at best they are means which we assume will take us in the direction of what we really want. What we really want are things which lie on a deeper level. First, we want being. . . , Second, we want to know, to be aware. . . , The third thing men seek is joy. . . Mention any good and man can always imagine a bit more of it and in doing so wish for that more. Medical science has doubled man’s life expectancy, but is man today more ready to die once that expectancy is reached? To state the full truth, then, we must say that what man would really like is infinite being, infinite knowledge, and infinite joy. Disregarding for the moment what he might have to settle for, these are what he would really like. To gather them together in a single word, what man really wants is liberation—complete release from the countless limitations that press so closely upon his present existence.”
The Religions of Man
– Huston Smith

What Are We Telling Ourselves Through Popular Love Songs?

My latest column for Industry Nov/Dec 2010

Tuning Out: Can love songs actually teach us something of value about that elusive state, or should we be making our own music?

When the relationship becomes a normal part of life, it becomes just another proof that outer circumstances do not really determine individual happiness. Most things disappear into the background, like a note I pin up to remind myself something, and which eventually fades into the wallpaper, beyond notice.

Life itself seems to teach that love is in so many ways more colorful and complex, but also harder and more scary, than most songs ever give testimony to. It takes guts to let down your guard and care for another, put yourself in the hands of another. There’s no guarantee you’ll be handled with care.

It takes a lot of days of negotiation, bad days as well as good, and of putting in the time to learn someone’s habits, of dealing with their ghosts, and not becoming haunted yourself,
to get to a few moments of Hollywood love. Transcendant, real, sometimes sad, heartbreaking moments of deep intimacy. But wait, am I just shoring up the mythology? It’s hard to talk about love without adding to the mystery.

Ryuichi Sakamoto at the Vic

I went to see Ryuichi in Chicago recently and wrote a review for Radio Free Chicago. His unobtrusive yet challenging melodic experiments sat alongside the more accessible, climactic soundtrack themes he has composed over the years. The highlights: zen-like glacial melt; the chunky chords and ballast of The Last Emperor; gentle loops.

Werner Herzog as Plastic Bag

Link: Werner Herzog as Plastic Bag

a 20-minute short featuring Werner Herzog’s poignant narration…

“They told me its out there, the Pacific Vortex, Paradise. You may be thinking, ‘Hey shut up and enjoy the sunset you idiot,’ well i don’t care what you think, no one needs me anymore—not even my maker. Do you know her, by chance? Have you seen her?”

and just gets better from there.