Emdashes. Modern Times Between the Lines.

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It’s spring in Emdashes’ tenth (!) year. These days, I’m working on grants and web content at The Center for Jewish History, right next door to the Margaret Sanger Clinic House. Sanger was a friend of my great-grandmother Dorothy Gordon, and I wish I’d known both of them and could have joined even one of their conversations. Here’s Dorothy (known as Ooma) on her ’50s and ’60s TV show, The New York Times Youth Forums, where a multicultural panel of brainy youth debated serious subjects of the day along with a distinguished guest.




Dorothy herself had a great sense of humor, I’m told, and had been a singer of folk songs on the radio and an opera singer before that. She put herself forward when host positions were scarce for women, to say the least, and refused to weave those cheesy ads into her shows (“Friends, do you have tired blood?”) because, she said, children can’t distinguish between the show and the advertising.

I don’t normally write about myself, and I don’t think I’ve ever written about any member of my family. But I have chutzpah and bravery on the brain as I work on grants with meaningful purpose; finish a book proposal; think about the new documentary about Vivian Maier, who never showed her city-capturing photographs; rewatch the classic (as far as I’m concerned) 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan.

No one can be Madonna except Madonna. Nobody can be Aidan Quinn except Aidan Quinn, either. (Those searching, uncertain blue eyes.) And most of all, no one can be Susan Seidelman, who directed a movie so celebratory, suspenseful, subtly feminist, and generally badass that it instantly, completely, dare I say desperately, made me decide to move to New York as soon as possible. And I did. And the movie is still wonderful. And Rosanna Arquette’s character has the courage not to be Madonna/Susan, but to make her own goofy way that’s just as cool. If not cooler. I’m certain Ooma would’ve liked her. (continued)

Emily Gordon writes:

Lately, when I’m not at work, cooking up a blog redesign, or buffaloing cartoonist and critic Pollux into coming up with a comic (drawn and debuting soon!) to herald the site’s new focus on images and symbols, I’ve been noting sentences that strike me in this Tumblr, The Beautiful Sentence. If you submit a sentence you like (from anywhere you like—a novel, a blog, an article, a cereal box) and I like it too, I’ll post it. A beautiful sentence can be funny, wise, intricately constructed, or just cool.

(continued)

We haven’t been posting much, you say? We know it. We’ve all been busy doing other things, including Martin Schneider’s stylish new project, Box Office Boffo. In his words, he’s “blogging every #1 movie in America from 1970 to the present day.” Even better: “Every week there’s a #1 movie at the box office, and I’m going to watch them all.” Not only do you get close inspections of movies like The Owl and the Pussycat and Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and whole years in review, you get the original posters, which will make you nostalgic in all kinds of ways.

Meanwhile, Pollux, our favorite painter/cartoonist/New Yorker cover critic/Renaissance man, just had a show at Artlife South Bay. Jonathan Taylor went back to grad school, proving once again that he’s both a gentleman and a scholar, and I’ve been working on a relaunch of The Washington Spectator’s website and writing theater reviews for Time Out Chicago.

So our collective focus has been elsewhere. But speaking for myself, I’m feeling emdashy again. There’s work to be done and punctuation marks to be shepherded, shorn, and protected from the elements.

—Emily Gordon

(continued)

Jonathan Taylor writes:

In other Egyptian news:

"With a budget of LE56 million, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), in collaboration with Egypt's Sound and Light organization and French lighting company Architecture Lumière, succeeded in installing 922 lighting units in different locations along the city's west bank mountains, offering a new service to Luxor's visitors, stated Culture Minister Farouk Hosni."

At night, the darkness was total.

Fields of tall, deep-green cornstalks ended abruptly, forming a clean border with the desert. Behind you, the river was just out of sight, behind distant groves of palms. Far beyond this band of green was a creased swelling of mountain. Ahead of you here, too, on the west bank: another sand mountain, dazzlingly white in the sun, like a scrubbed bone. At its foot—nestled? cowering?—a village, whose lights glowed

(continued)

Five years ago today, I sat in the appropriately named Williamsburg bar The Lucky Cat (now Bruar Falls), enjoying tea and free wifi, and began this blog. One was far from a lonely number; from the beginning, Emdashes had friends, commenters (though as a readership, dear readership, you tend to be shy, preferring to send me thoughtfully composed emails rather than shout to the public square), supporters, and exactly one member of the peanut gallery, whose small legumes haven’t scarred.

But Emdashes today is a lot more than a gal in a bar feeling warm toward a heartbreakingly flawless Donald Antrim essay. It’s an honest-to-Irvin team, a clan of kindred spirits, a gathering place for like-minded New Yorker-philes for whom a casual read and a quick look will never be enough. It’s the blog’s core group of friends and collaborators, Martin Schneider and Pollux and Jonathan Taylor and Benjamin Chambers, about whom I can’t say enough, and I hope they know how thoroughly I treasure their winsome and steady posts, essential ideas, and intercontinental companionship. It’s the many excellent guest writers and artists, and smart and generous interns, who’ve contributed to the blog over the past five years.

I’m almost too emotional to write this, and it’s almost New Year’s Eve, so, for once, I’m at a loss for words. What can I say but thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you? To Patric King and Su from House of Pretty, illustrators Jesse Ewing and (righteously lupine) Carolita Johnson, and the New Yorker librarians, Jon Michaud and Erin Overbey, whose clever minds are only outdone by their open hearts, and who have taken their fabulous Emdashes Ask the Librarians column all the way to The Big Show. To David Remnick and the New Yorker staff, from 1925 on out, for being there week in and week out, in the best and worst of times—proving that the life of the mind, the world of the page, and the shimmering pixels of the screen can be noble, beautiful, truthful, and funny causes to which to dedicate oneself. To you, reader. Stay with us; we’ll be here.

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree
Inkleaf Studio illustration