Gail Shust, Anthropologist

Gail Shust, Anthropologist

Through dinner conversation, summer board game play and my continued fascination with the useless nuances of life, I have recently made an important observation.  I haven’t quite honed it, so bear with me, but the general concept goes something like this–

People can be broadly divided into social groups based on which character they choose to be in the game, ‘Clue.’

As far as I can tell, most women (or girls really, how many grown women are playing Clue?) are immediately drawn to Miss Scarlet.  Oh sure, she has the superficial looks, but what can she bring to the game aside from that?  So, if you’re a little more creative, you might gravitate toward Professor Plum.  Sense of humor?  Colonel Mustard is your guy. On a whim maybe somebody will go for Miss Peacock.  Mr. Green?  Who are you?  And don’t even get me started on Misses White.

Monopoly‘ brings up a whole other set of issues, but we’ll save that for another day.

image c/o

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Book Club

Book Club

Summer reading.  Beach reading.  Whatever you call it, summer for me is a time where I really want to dig into a light, easy page turner.

While, the first book I’m going to recommend is certainly not light, for me it was a page turner. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’ examines race (in Africa, the US and Europe), relationships and the immigrant experience.  It really made me think about some of my own preconceived notions and beliefs on these same topics.

A book I read awhile ago that was on several “Best of Summer” lists last year, for me deserve mention because I really did not like it. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer was anything but.  It is the story of six teenagers who meet at sleep away camp in the 70s.  It follows the ebb and flow of their relationships throughout life.  I found the characters more like caricatures, and the main character was so unlikable I couldn’t understand why anyone befriended her in the first place.  I liked the idea of the novel, but not the execution.

Delancey  is an easy, breezy memoir by Molly Wizenberg who writes the blog, Orangette. Shortly after marrying her husband, he decides to open a pizza restaurant.  The book talks about the trials and tribulations of this undertaking and how it affected their relationship.  Bonus–it includes recipes.

What are your favorite summer reads?

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Technology Rant

Technology Rant

I f##*#ing hate smartphones.  More specifically, it’s a love/hate thing.
A camera at my fingertips.
The fact that I feel compelled to “document” and post everything I/my family/my friends do.
Google maps. This has helped me out numerous times because I have very little sense of direction. Also, it has saved Joe and me from fighting in the car
“I didn’t tell you to turn there.  Miss Google did.”
Absolutely nothing to hate about this.
Texting as a means of brief communication.
Texting as a replacement for actual human connection.
Probably my biggest pet peeve is the fact that people seem unable to engage in contact with others (see above) and/or are unable to sit alone with their thoughts.  Everyone on the subway is playing Candy Crush (or whatever the popular game is these days).  No one seems capable of riding an elevator without staring at their phone. Don’t even get me started about texting and driving.
I admit, I do some of these things too.  During The Whole Life Challenge, that Joe and I recently completed, one of our challenges was to not use screens during mealtimes.  We never do at dinner, but I always seem to be on my phone/computer during breakfast and lunch.  It was absolutely liberating to stop that habit, and I’m trying really hard to continue.  I’m also working hard to not reach for my phone every time I’m waiting for a subway, riding the elevator, waiting for a friend.  It’s surprisingly challenging, but I keep reminding myself that I used to have plenty of “downtime” without constant digital stimulation.
Louis CK seems to be of a similar mind, and he explains it way better than I ever could.
image c/o www.
I know you are shocked to see me back on L2S Slink. I too see the pitfalls of the smartphone in our society but my ranting is more when it comes to kids. I get frustrated when I see tiny little tots playing with their parents iPhones in places where plenty of other things could be amusing them. books, sand, trees, dirt, friends, crayons, etc. But let me follow your format:
Love: all the things you said
Hate: folks using it as a distraction for kids and don’t allow their kids to just “be”
Love: being able to check my email no matter where I am
Hate: people expecting me to respond to my email immediately even when it is not urgent
Love: being able to find my teenager when I need to
Hate: knowing my teenager will always have his phone at his fingertips even when he could be doing other things
Love: the camera
Hate: knowing I have a camera and feel I SHOULD be taking photos. I have been trying to sit with the moment and forget about pulling out my “devise”
Love: auto correct
Hate misspelling things and having the autocorrect mess it up
Love: it’s sleekness
Hate: it’s fragility
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I Heart NY

I Heart NY

We finally made it to see “A Subtlety,” Kara Walker’s installation inside the old Domino Sugar Factory.

The work itself was amazing.

And, as luck would have it, the artist was there.  She could not have been more gracious, answering question after question regarding this thought provoking piece.

I don’t know this for sure, but it appeared as though she was there to discuss the work with Mayor De Blasio and his family.  Our kids were pretty excited to see the Mayor and noted how tall he was.  We think he may be the tallest mayor of NY, but I have not spent the 30 seconds it would take to confirm this fact. We also guessed that former Mayor Bloomberg was the shortest.  Sara Rose added that Taft was the fattest.  We had to remind her that Taft was president not mayor, but nice attempt at random trivia for a six year old.

Oh, and did I mention Susan Sarandon was there as well? And yes, she’s still gorgeous.

Three things to say:

1. We love a good factory

2. Why does all the cool stuff happen when we are NOT visiting

3. I hope you are keeping a book of all the awesome comments that come out of Miss Sara Rose’s mouth!


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Photo Fun

Photo Fun

It’s been awhile…

A little something to browse on this rainy Friday:

60 amazing photos

Which one’s your favorite?

Also, this exhibit of Latin American Photography at ICP looks fantastic.

Maybe I’ll head over this weekend.

Those are fantastic! I love them all but especially Audrey Hepburn shopping with her pet dear and the building of the Golden Gate Bridge.

image from installation at Socrates Sculpture Park

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Book Club

Book Club

So many books, so much time on the subway.  Once again, a shout out to my kindle which is the perfect commuting reader.

And the Band Played On: Given my line of work, I find it unbelievable that I never read this incredible book which chronicles the early days of the AIDS epidemic.  An amazing work of journalism that reads like a novel.

Wave: I don’t think I’ve ever read such an honest book.  This is the true story of a woman who survives a tsunami off the coast of Sri Lanka, but loses her children, her husband and her parents.  It is a love letter to her family, but must have been gut wrenching to write.  I cannot imagine how many people grieving themselves benefitted from this truly astounding book.

The Sound of Things Falling: This is the first book I’ve read by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and I’m excited to read more.  This novel beautifully recounts a man’s childhood in Columbia and explains the modern day history of his country in the process.

Any recommendations?

Me Before You. Beautiful/tearful

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers. Shocking/life changing


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Stop the Insanity

Stop the Insanity

While I fully admit to dabbling in celebrity culture (the Oscars are my favorite night of the year), there are certain celebrities I refuse to read about.  I will NEVER read anything about Lindsey Lohan, for example.  I just feel sorry for her and whatever mental illness/drug problem/family issues have led to her sad path.  Rihanna and Chris Brown—no thank you. Kim Kardashian is also on that list because, well why?  She simply adds nothing to even remotely improve the world as far as I can tell. So when I saw Ms. Kardashian along with Kanye on the April cover of Vogue, I assumed I would ignore the story entirely.

But then, I started reading.  And just like a gruesome accident, I could not turn away. As I suspected, they are vapid, vacant and completely out of touch with reality.

Here are my favorite tidbits from the article, thus saving you from actually having to read the whole thing on your own. You’re welcome:

Small wonder that Kim idolizes Elizabeth Taylor, whom she first became aware of as a supportive friend of Michael Jackson. Taylor once lent Kim her Cleopatra cape for a photo shoot, and Kim conducted Taylor’s last interview (by phone and e-mail), about her legendary jewels. “Everything seemed so selfless for her,” Kim remembers. “We talked about the jewelry and how it ultimately didn’t belong to her; she just wanted to help people.” When Taylor’s estate was sold to benefit the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Kim even acquired some of those jewels herself. She also went to look at Taylor’s house. “It was just so enchanting,” she remembers, “with a garden with really pretty trellises and beautiful roses, but it wasn’t realistic for me to purchase. It only had a one-car garage.” 

North’s parents have already involved her in their creative lives. “I take pictures of her all the time and dress her up,” says Kim. “I put Kanye’s big chains around her, and I put a little Louis bag and some Jordans, and I was like, ‘What up, Daddy?’ ” Kanye, meanwhile, has made an adorable little stop-frame video of North caught in her natural movements that he’s edited to make it appear as if she’s break-dancing.

“I’m really into fantasy as you know. I’m obsessed with Walt Disney and Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki,” Kanye said. “Kim is like a fantasy, period. She’s like a dream girl and I think a dream girl should live in a dream world.”

Kim added, “I do live in a dream world, the fact that I’m waking up tomorrow, shooting for Vogue, I get to play dress-up every single day of my life, have my dream fiancé, my dream baby, you know?”

“It’s hard to be the first and yes, we want to be the first and the best — that might come off the wrong way, but it’s true,” Kanye said “You’re the one that runs into the woods for the first time and comes back with all the scratches on your face, but anytime they make a mockery of us, they are not looking at the ground we are breaking, but just making jokes out of the scratches we got on our face.”

“Once you get a wifey, your wife basically runs your life. Everything you do is based on wifey,” Kanye said. “It’s really interesting that we’re on the front lines of a few difference concepts at the same time. You’ve got the interracial thing; you have a mega-media and mega-art crash; you have, you know the Vogue and reality show combination. There’s a lot of new frontiers being broken in 2014.”

“She created something really powerful that the universe connected with, and I created something that people connect with, and then when we combine our information … we can help communicate and educate and just bring more dopeness in general,” Kanye said. “It’s really just about dopeness at the end of the day.”

image c/o Vogue


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I Heart NY

I Heart NY

Spring finally made it’s way to NY! Yesterday was sunny and warm and beautiful.

After rounding at the hospital, I met Joe and the girls at Streit’s Matzo Factory for the annual Passover Palooza on the Lower East Side. Kids and their families rock out to silly passover themed songs like “Mission Imatzoble.”  You know, Weird Al Yancovic style.  The best thing, though, is they open their doors for tours of the factory.  The matzo produced at Streit’s has been made with the same recipe on the same equipment since the 1920’s.  Amazing.

After brunch and the Palooza, the kids were playing in a park on Christie Street.  Samantha needed the bathroom.  We spotted a bar on the corner and walked over. It was 3 on a Sunday afternoon and the bar was hopping.  Music was blaring, there was an 80’s themed birthday party happening, everyone, including the bartender, was dancing and one grown women was being thrown over people’s shoulders and paraded around the bar.  Samantha took in the scene, and rather than being thrown by it, she danced her way to the bathroom line.  When she was finished, in the spirit of the room, we exited through the window.

I was wishing I was with you last year and now again this year. Sounds so fun and the window exit just goes to show, you are all growing up! Are you a committed Streit’s  customer? That is what I want to know.
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