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Oh, right Universe... You think I don't see you?
Ok, now you and the algorithm are just being performative.😂
“In the beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” — Douglas Adams
Hello, Lovelies, How the hell are you?
Ever have one of those weeks when everything just goes to sh*t?
When you’re already at a zero-f*cks threshold, and the f*ck-you phone just keeps ringing and ringing... and you’re all chipper like, “I’ll call you right back, I can only direct one Greek tragedy at a time here!”
Your Pops is just home from the hospital from heart surgery. And yes, his past mountaineering and Arctic adventures have held him in good stead. Everything on him is working. Sort of—maybe not his “brain-mouth” so much.
But then, the power goes out because of all the crazy-ass storms, and it turns out the generator only works on the refrigerator and the fly-tying magna-light in his study—because WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO DO IN THE DARK DURING THE APOCALYPSE???
And in the middle of that, as you field the tide of work rejections in the dark, and the We're-sorries-we-just-laid-off-our-entire-media staff (which was pretty much everywhere last week), you suddenly look at your bank account and see that our wonderful, marvelous free market U.S. healthcare system has refused to cover your meds and so it has billed them directly to your checking account leaving you high and dry. (YES! Staying seizure-free is spendy) Not even enough left to pay the Xfinity mafia.
You realize you’ve gotten yourself into a pickle. Well… more like a cornichon.
At that very same moment, there’s a knock at the door. You’d think your life was Neil Simon play, but no, it's just Amazon with the allergy meds you ordered last week because you can no longer breathe because you have a weird histamine thing going on post-COVID. However, instead of sending you ONE bottle, they sent you a whole case... yes, 1200 neon pink pills... Enough to KILL you. Huzzah!
And, oh look! There’s an AI-generated notice with bad grammar affixed to your door. The Tech Bros who bought your building are raising your rent. They can do that because some loophole some other AI hallucinated now says so.
You gaze out across the foggy San Francisco skyline and roll your eyes so hard both retinas practically detach with a cartoon “sproing” sound effect and say out loud, “Ok, I see what you’re doing here. Getting me back for all those times I've told boring people I was an Actuarialist.” It is a Turducken of absurdity.
But it's as if the Universe and the Algo were saying, “We've got your number Missy, and you are allergic to life.”
For a brief moment, you Kendall Roy the narrative:
You realize the algorithm will never have any moral lucidity. So, there you are, with this ridiculous box of pills and your AI eviction notice... ONE note away from your whole life turning into an Elton John song, complete with wacky statement glasses and a pink sparkle blazer, but then someone saves your life tonight.
Because your girlfriend texts you, “Hey, are you ok?” And you’re all... NO. I need serious help and she is THERE for you. Unfailingly. Which is priceless. She did not let the sun go down on you. And you could make so many other musical puns that you’d have earworms from now until the actual apocalypse, but you will refrain. For the moment, please hear this most important PSA brought to by gotham girl and anti-anxiety medication for all:
PSA: Friends don't let other friends become melodramatic Elton John songs. Text your girlfriend today. 😂
So, this past week’s Thursday Thread would have been: Who would you trust to save your life, to save you from the street, from death, from utter destruction?
My answer would be… my personal tribe of goddesses. With the exception of a few rarities, the members of the patriarchy have mostly been short-hitters in my life. So, I’ve stopped waiting to be pleasantly surprised by them. This is why God evicted Eve from the garden after all. Adam was really just collateral damage if you think about it. Who knew God was the original Tech Bro? Dramaturgically, it makes sense.
In any case, last week, pretty much every remaining media employer conducted mass layoffs, so my heart goes out to all the other writers. One thought though... I see people still loving paper and letters. And I predict PAPER will persist. Artful, well-designed, well-storied magazines are like candy bars for your brain. Perhaps i-D, which was acquired by Karlie Kloss this past week, will help kick off a small revival. I feel like it could. W, which she and a group of investors bought in 2020, publishes a glossy six times a year, so she already has a contract with a printer… Watch this space, writers who are also out of work. Just saying.
Now onto the doofuses, this week is no real surprise.
Doofus(es) of the Week
Now, for our regularly scheduled programming!
Doofus #1: Tough Love types who say, “I’m doing this for your own good.” I have this for you:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” — C.S. Lewis
Mostly, these are men. And we speak of men and their rage and ambition as if it is to be applauded. Men just get mad and push each other and it's over. Like the middle schoolers in Congress this week, telling each other to “Stand your butt up!” What does that even mean? When we do that kind of stuff, women are just bitches who can ‘never let it go.’ But that's because where would we actually put our collective rage, our stored ambition? What system? What faith? What institution has room? Has enough patience? Has the understanding for the ambitious, “I-see-what-you’re-doing” woman? There’s no room for women’s rage about any of what’s happening right now... We’re just being told—it’s for our own good. I think that’s what The Empress has evolved to... a space that empowers midlife women with love and fury. Because we are out of spaces. The meager newsletter certainly didn't start as that, but this is why we listen to the “And then...” and find the agreement and shift… because that is where the growth is. Not in the “I'm doing this for your own good.”
Doofus #2: OpenAI and Sam Altman. It’s getting kind of Julius Caesar-y over there. Again, Et tu, BrutAI?
Except the story seems to be giving itself a nice juicy sequel what with the 770 employees writing a letter today, stating that they're all going to quit ifisn’t brought back, which I say… Huzzah to the employees for standing up for a founder they believe in because a) that's kind of cool and b) what knowledge does he have that they want to share and keep working with, that could be really interesting to see what unfolds product-wise and c) who's to say that a small board, most likely bent on personal ideology, has more altruistic objectives than the workers? What’s really needed is more global social and ethical policy considerations around AI as it grows up. So, I’m curious to see what unfolds on this doofus front. Microsoft may be the ultimate winner in the end. Wouldn’t it be interesting to re-brand him Sam Alt.man? I’m sure someone’s thought of this ages ago.
Doofus #3: Eric Adams. (Summons my utmost Fred Sanford voice) “You dummeh!” How dare you cut the New York Public Library’s budget! Have you no soul? For it IS the soul of New York City, and it does so much more than just LIBRARY(verb)!
Libraries are whole ecosystems of care for the various neighborhoods in New York City. If anything you should cut money from the NYPD and give it straight to the libraries because they do so much more than the cops ever do to take care of the city at this point in time and they do it in a way that is humane and literate and progressive toward getting people on a path to jobs, literacy, citizenship, and all kinds of things like life-saving Narcan when it's needed.
This woman is the veritable sunshine enema you never knew you needed (Yes, I’m talking to you, Gwyneth)! And does she have pipes, or what?
I will be watching this on an autoloop into the New Year as I write as fast as I can because we FINALLY figured out the opening conundrum to our pilot that brings the recurring levity that’s needed throughout the whole of the series—and sometimes, that takes the time and walking the park in circles that it takes. I’m just so glad our EP had patience enough for me to figure it out.
Happy Birthday to Gene Tierney! Screen Goddess of the BEST Otto Preminger noir masterpiece ever… LAURA
“I have never been and I never will be bound by anything I don't do of my own free will.” - Gene Tierney as Laura Hunt in LAURA
She and Dana Andrews have SUCH chemistry and Laura is SO intrepid. You have to love that she never accepts NO for an answer—especially when it’s about fountain pens!
Last marvel… Regina Spektor!
I initially discovered Regina years ago when I was working on my very first show Gifted. This track is from 2006 but still beyond beautiful… and it spoke to the mind of our character with perfect Fidelity.
But this latest animation to her work is such a marvel that speaks to our theme… I couldn’t leave it out.
All this to say… Everything is Fine (which is a podcast you should most definitely listen to byand ), my dad’s new heart machinery is awesome… go science, and to the people helping him, we are so grateful. We will keep Teodora away from him with her smelly poultices. She means well.
This week is Thanksgiving. I hope you all spend this historically grim holiday (if you know anything about the Puritans) in ways that fill you with grace, warmth, and connection, and with the least amount of heartache. I am crazy thankful for your thoughtful, funny engagement and gift of presence in this world or plane or whatever the hell we think this strange experiment is 😂
Stay safe, Lovelies, and know that I’m thinking of you always – xoxo, gotham girl
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