Everything else

Saturday Links: Science Experiments With Björk Edition

Who wants to make music with lightning and gravity? Plus: Pen pals meet after seven decades, the “Camp Gyno” makes bunk calls, and Marlon Brando attempts to be a bagel.



Last weekend in the UK, Channel 4 premiered the documentary “When Björk Met Attenborough.” In other words, one of my favorite minds in the world of music (Björk) united with one of the most lovable broadcasters/naturalists (David Attenborough, who is also arguably a poet—he once memorably referred to a naked mole rat as a saber-toothed sausage). The show focused on the relationship between music and nature, as well as Björk’s quest to make music more intuitive through the use of science and technology, particularly in her latest project, Biophilia. There were cymatic experiments, which involved making music with lightning and gravity, plus previously unreleased behind-the-scenes footage of rehearsals for the Biophilia tour. It unwrapped just one tiny layer of the mystery behind the project, helping me appreciate and understand it even more than I thought I already did—while leaving just enough of the magic secret.


Usually “women’s hygiene” commercials for tampons and pads and the like give me the creeps (especially the ones where a hand pours blue liquid onto a maxipad, which also is done in diaper commercials, making it wrong on so many levels), but HelloFlo’s “Camp Gyno” ad totally made my week. It’s hilarious (I literally cried and almost peed while watching it), and it doesn’t involve any weird liquids, euphemisms, or girls acting like their period is this enormous, routine-ruining cross to bear. In fact, getting her period (“The red badge of courage!”) revolutionizes the Camp Gyno’s whole summer!

Richard Barone and "a" in 1978, playing the first show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Richard Barone and “a” in 1978, playing their first show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey.

I’ve been going to as many concerts as possible since high school, and I’ve geeked out over some classic venues (like Whiskey-a-go-go in L.A., First Avenue in Minneapolis, and CBGB in New York) as much as I have the bands. I was lucky enough to get to CBGB right before it closed in 2006. I was not so lucky with Maxwell’s, the historic Hoboken, New Jersey, club where many of punk and indie rock’s finest graced the stage over the past 30-plus years—and that closed its doors forever earlier this week. Richard Barone was a member of the Bongos and “a,” the first band to play at Maxwell’s in 1978, and on Monday he memorialized the venue in this piece for Spin.


Audrey Sims, from Perth, Australia, and Norma Frati from Portland, Texas, met IRL for the first time this week after writing letters to each other as pen pals for 74 years. SEVENTY-FOUR YEARS. That is some serious dedication to something that started out as a school project for Norma when she was 13 and Audrey was only nine. It’s fascinating to think about all the secrets they shared, the milestones they conquered, and the details they would have known about each other’s lives—all through the written word. I would love to see their correspondences, but I’ll just have to be content with this video, which choked me up a little bit in a good way.


Here at Rookie, we’re in it for the LOVE, not the money. There are people, however—actors, for instance—who sometimes do things just for moolah. On Wednesday, the folks at Grantland posted a YouTube-enhanced list of some of the parts actors have taken in “paycheck movies,” and it’s pretty funny. The part about Marlon Brando wanting to pretend to be a bagel in Superman is pretty amazing. The director, Richard Donner, explains it in the clip above; if I had been directing Brando, I would have let homeboy do whatever he wanted.



Are you all watching Orange is the New Black? If you aren’t, get to it! And if you are, then you already know about all of its amazing characters, including Sophia, the transwoman who works at the prison hair salon. In this lil’ Q&A with Gawker, we find out that Laverne Cox, the actress who plays Sophia, is just as rad in real life. I’m totally in love with her and her spirit, and her character will make you laugh AND cry. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK FOREVER!

This story at the Atlantic, about Arunachalam Muruganantham, an Indian man who tried—and succeeded—to make inexpensive maxipads for his wife, and, by extension, for women across India, is a million kinds of amazing! According to the piece, 70 percent of women in India can’t afford pads or other period-related products. Instead, they have to use things like rags and leaves each month, which not only leads to serious health risks but also to a lot of period-shame. I mean, imagine dropping out of school because you are too embarrassed about your period… NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO DO THAT! Muruganantham experimented with different materials and methods of making pads so that they could be manufactured inexpensively in India, and now he employs 7,000 people, including women, in pad-manufacturing facilities across the country. I love that this dude was so committed to R&D that he even figured out how to have his own fake period for 10 days to help himself understand what women go through (because women were too embarrassed to give him their opinions). Kudos to him for sticking to it, and for now being the source of employment and income for so many women in India!


A still from the video for "On Fraternity" by Dead Girlfriends.

A still from the video for “On Fraternity” by Dead Girlfriends.

Some of my favorite recent reading has been at Spin, which has been posting roundtable articles with a few of the smartest culture writers in the game, including Jessica and Julianne. The discussions have started with a pop-culture controversy and how it relates to women, which I could read about all day every day when I’m not listening to podcasts about basically the same thing. Yesterday’s chat—about the electro solo artist James Brooks (who recently started recording music as Dead Girlfriends and is the live boyfriend of Grimes) and his new song “On Fraternity (about the trauma of sexual violence, debatably from a woman’s perspective)—was the best one yet. On “male feminism” in general, the critic and writer Michelle Myers said this:

“I’m wary of male feminists who are trying to prove how much they ‘get it.’ I realize it’s frustrating to hear, but no amount of learning or empathy will let you know what it’s like to live every day as a woman. I think there is a very real space for men to speak their truth about how patriarchy hurts them. I am interested in how masculinity and gendered violence affects their lives, as opposed to than hearing men tell me what I already know about rape culture firsthand.”

And then later Julianne said this:

“I definitely think we can go hard on men who claim feminism or who try to put forth feminist work…because, well, FEMINISM IS THERE BECAUSE WOMEN ARE MARGINALIZED BY MEN. That’s the point, dogs! Please join us—we want you here with us—but don’t get salty if your art sets off some of our life-honed bullshit meters.”

YESSSS to all of that! But, seriously, practically everything in the piece is quotable, so just read the whole thing. ♦


  • suburban grrrl August 3rd, 2013 3:04 PM

    I’m happy to see some Maxwell’s love here on Rookie; that club meant a lot to me! My dad was actually in the Bongos, so we went on Wednesday to the last show there. I actually saw Amy Rose in the crowd outside but was too nervous to say anything!

    Maxwell’s was the best; I saw a lot of shows there and even played there twice. Most of all, though, I’ll miss it because of how me and all the other musician kids used to play in the front room when we were little. We used to hide under the windowsill and make faces at the people on the sidewalk.

    Sorry to get nostalgic, but I’m just really happy you guys wrote about it.

    Long live Maxwell’s!


  • KatGirl August 3rd, 2013 4:01 PM

    It’s like Santa for your vagina!

  • KatGirl August 3rd, 2013 4:03 PM

    Plus, like the Camp Gyno, I was also the first of my friends to get my period, so it’s pretty relatable ^^

  • Sophie ❤ August 3rd, 2013 5:06 PM

    This was really interesting- and relatable, as usual! Loved how it spoke of ‘something’ that girls aren’t so comfortable about, including me…


  • Tyknos93 August 3rd, 2013 5:39 PM

    Gah Orange is the new black is ruining my liiiiiiiiiife!
    I powered through most of the episodes, but I’m so reluctant to look at the final one because then I’ll have to wait a while for the new season.
    I even got my little brother hooked. Sophia’s storyline is just… I don’t even think I have words to adequately describe it. Taystee needs to come back because…EVERYTHING. Oh man just had to get that out.
    If you haven’t watched this show yet you need to.


  • rainingmay August 3rd, 2013 6:01 PM

    Minneapolis First Ave rules!!! I only wish that most of the shows weren’t 18+. Best Coast came there the other day and I missed them because I’m only 17!!!!


  • GlitterKitty August 3rd, 2013 7:13 PM

    Oh my god the camp gyno thing was great. It’s freaky how realistic it actually is. I remember this one girl I went to camp with and this was basically her. She doled out her extra tampons, taught one girl how to use them, and even gave a little demonstration using red paint. At my camp we have “girl talk” the first day of the session where they basically tell us to leave the boys alone and not to flush tampons down the toilet. There’s even a 30 second play, “The Tampon Play”, that explains the whole don’t flush them situation. Hilarious and relatable.

  • Abby August 3rd, 2013 9:31 PM

    “It’s like… I’m Joan… and their vag is the arc.”

  • Katherine August 3rd, 2013 10:18 PM

    Loved the Camp Gyno commercial! If you like the series Orange is the New Black, I would recommend you read the book too, because it is great.

  • Eileen August 4th, 2013 7:44 AM

    ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK!!! <3 <3 Plz someone tell me this is true

  • CM James August 4th, 2013 11:50 AM

    The Bjork/Attenborough doc won’t play outside of the UK. :(

  • caro nation August 4th, 2013 1:06 PM

    I LOVE Elite Gymnastics and RUIN, but everything about On Fraternity felt… misplaced. I am in no way denying James Brooks’ feminist ideals, but their delivery…. I don’t even like the song. I mean, does chasing a “feminine sound” (yick) now include taking on this whole persona, renaming your project “Default Genders” (it sounds sorta tumblr activist-y and keeps the DG!) and writing a song with really vague half-aphorisms about rape culture? Feminism is not a tumblr aesthetic, and considering the controversy of what he MAY or MAY NOT be trying to communicate with this project, the whole thing shouldn’t be so muddled.

    • caro nation August 4th, 2013 8:49 PM

      After reading James Brooks’ tumblr I regret most if not all of this comment. I’m a total hypocrite.

  • Princess Mononoke August 4th, 2013 3:56 PM

    Ok, so I’m probably way behind everyone else but, is anyone else furious about Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video?

    • Tyknos93 August 4th, 2013 5:01 PM

      I thought I should be, but I was very much indifferent. It sucks that he feels like the only way to promote his mediocre little song was gratuitous shots of topless girls just sorta bouncing around and making fish faces at the camera.
      I did love this spoof though and I made me see how truly ridiculous it all is… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKfwCjgiodg


      • Princess Mononoke August 6th, 2013 3:12 AM

        That is a really great parodie. Look at the comments though, there are such stupid bigoted people its unbelievable.
        I just feel that in the original he’s completely objectifying women, and ” Robin Thicke has a big dick” wtf?! People need to be educated that women are not objects for men.

        OK, rant over. Peace out everyone!

    • Erin. August 5th, 2013 3:53 PM

      I’m of the mind that, if the women in a guy’s music video are basically naked, the guy should also be naked. I’m sick of the weird double standard that the female body is hot/sexy, but the male body is funny in it’s nudity. It doesn’t make sense. So many male singers hide behind suits these days, ’cause a guy in a suit is “hot.” They should learn to channel that Red Hot Chili Pepper’s video where their naked and covered in silver spray paint or whatever it is. I’m serious.

      Ugh, I so hate that video, and the song. The beat is good, but the lyrics are god awful. “You’re a good girl, I know you want it, try to domesticate you.” Gross. It makes me physically gag.

  • thenoisythinker August 5th, 2013 9:03 AM

    Oh my my my, this made me whole day.


  • Erin. August 5th, 2013 3:45 PM

    I didn’t listen to the song by Dead Girlfriends, but I wanted to say that I both agree and disagree with what’s been written about it. On the one hand, yes, it’s impossible for men to really understand rape or sexual assault from the perspective of a girl/woman. It’s like that episode of South Park, where Stan is trying to prove to Token that he understands what it’s like to be black. By the end of the episode, he goes up to Token and says “I get it: I don’t get it.” And Token says “Now you’ve got it!” It’s a particular experience in/of the world that has so many complexities and exists in so many different forms that it is difficult/impossible for some people to really understand.

    At the same time, if we all only wrote songs or told stories directly from our own perspectives/experiences, then most of what we see in movies, on tv, in books, songs, etc., would be from the exact same perspective of a middle/upper class, white, male. I think looking outside of our direct experiences of the world is a good thing and should be encouraged. But the point is not to try to perfectly understand what it’s like to be raped, or to be black, or white, or poor, or whatever, but to learn how we all relate. To empathize subjectively, rather than objectively. Hopefully this makes sense.

    And, also, I don’t mean to make a joke of anything by mentioning South Park. For all it’s ridiculousness, there’s a lot of intelligent stuff in that show.

    • flapperhatgirl August 19th, 2013 7:30 PM

      I agree with you 100%! We should all try our best to understand what life is like for other people, while still knowing that it’s impossible to know completely.

  • sophiethewitch August 8th, 2013 2:23 AM

    “It’s like Santa! For your vagina!”

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha I’m dying