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June 29, 2006

Madonna: Clearly Not Over that Whole Horse Thing

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Last night I was subjected to the Madonna concert at Madison Square Garden, where temperatures in the stands hovered around 127 degrees.

Rumor has it that she asked to have the A/C turned off. I have NO IDEA WHY ANY NORMAL HUMAN BEING WOULD DO THAT, but then again, "normal" is not an adjective often associated with Madonna.

If I sound grumpy, it's because I am. When one - or one's Boyfriend, as the case may be - pays serious $$$ to see the Material Mom perform, one expects the following:

1) Rigorous dance sequences
2) Innumerable costume changes
3) Songs I know the lyrics to (JUST SING "VOGUE" DAMNIT!!)
4) Lots of flesh

I know, I know. It's blasphemy to suggest that she didn't have, like, the most AMAAAAAZZZZING concert ever, ohmigod!!! After all, the NY Times and the Post didn't complain.

I'm a much tougher critic.

Sure, there were rigorous dance sequences - but Madonna only participated in a small portion of them, pawning off the hard work on her ridiculously chiseled, racially diverse, cargo-pants-wearing backup dancers.

Furthermore, the only classics she sung were Like a Virgin and Lucky Star (inexplicably set to the Hung Up melody). That really didn't do it for me. I wanted the entire damn Immaculate Collection.

And yes, there were costume changes, but the majority of the time she was completely covered, head to toe, in black equestrian-cum-S&M, Elizabethian style turtlenecks, jackets and thigh-high boots. I could not for the life of me figure out what was going on. First, it's a billion degrees.

Second, WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING 0% BODY FAT IF YOU'RE GOING TO COVER IT ALL UP?

I cheered when she stripped down to a pink leotard in the very last song. FINALLY.

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All that having been said, the show may have been worth it just for the relentlessly flamboyant appreciative audience. The Stanford Blatch-esque guy behind me actually squealed: "Oh. My. God. I just CANNOT believe this. I am, like, sooooooo excited. OHMIGODDDDD. I LOVEEEEE HER. She's a LIVING LEGEND!!!!"

And - in my favorite moment of the entire evening - a lovely fellow in the front row held up a neon fuchsia sign that proclaimed in huge sparkly letters:

"MADONNA - You MADE me Gay!!!"

That. Is. Awesome.

June 28, 2006

A Star is Born Fired.

Today I'll be on Fox News doing a blink-and-you'll-miss-it segment about a subject on the hearts and minds of the American people:

STAR JONES IS LEAVING THE VIEW

According to People magazine, "After The View cohost Star Jones Reynolds announced on the air Tuesday that she would leave the show in July, her network had a response: Leave now. "

Translation: "Get the F--k Out, You Big-Boned Biatch!" Um ... does this mean they won't do a montage?

Look, I rarely watch the View. My only connection is that I once met Barbara Walters and she bamboozled me with a really flattering comment that in no way could ever be true (I still fell for it because I'm a gullible sucker. And most people don't say nice things to me. Damn her!). I also met Star Jones, for about 160 seconds, and she didn't make nearly as flattering or fictitious of a comment, so you can see where my allegiance falls. Walters, obvi.

But from what I can gather, thanks to intensive research on Page Six, various clips off of YouTube, and general intuition is that people don't really seem to like Ms. Jones - sorry - Mrs. Reynolds-Jones. So I guess I'll just say that.

Whatever. I'd rather talk about THIS video instead:

Thanks to my fellow former-DC Hussy Jessica Cutler for bringing it to my attention. She always manages to have procrastination worthy activities on her blog, like looking at her naked stomach and various readers' dicks. Good times.

June 27, 2006

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do - Especially if You Still Have to Use the Same Toilet

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As a rule, I don’t see many romantic comedies in the theatre. Manhattan cinemas tend to be rambunctious and claustrophobic and The Boyfriend prefers violent car-chase-gun-fight-gangster-drug-dealer movies, anyway.

But last week, when I was in Chicago for a faux vacation ("faux" because one cannot have a real vacation with one’s parents, in one’s childhood home), I thought it an appropriate place to catch a screening of “The Break Up.”

Set in the Windy City, “The Break Up,” – in case you’re one of 17 people in the world who haven’t yet heard – is Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn’s recent foray into the trippy world of art imitating life.

In my decidedly not-Roger-Ebert opinion, the movie was a little too much life and not enough art. If I wanted to watch a screaming fight about washing dishes, I would just go home and have one with The Boyfriend. Although he probably wouldn't scream back, as he tends towards the "excessively non-confrontational" end of the spectrum. That's why I like him.

Still, I felt that as a dating columnist, I couldn't ignore the biggest story of the year - and so I wrote this week's AM New York article about it, or more accurately, as a jumping off point for telling my own Break Up story.

I don't tend to get super personal in my column, preferring to analyize other people's lives, instead of my own (don't we all?). But given the overexposure of the Aniston-Vaughn-Pitt-Jolie love square, I just couldn't find anything new to say about it.

You would think, in a world with gazillions of news outlets, it would be difficult to reach an irritatingly level of hyper saturation. And yet, every time I pass an ubiquitous New York newsstand, there they are, week after week, the same three faces (with Vaughn thrown in occasionally to mix it up). Always looking consternated (“Jen Realizes That She’s No Longer Married to Brad!!”) or joyful (“Angie Ecstatic That Brad Is Still Cute, Despite Being Totally Whipped!”) or just confused (“Vince Just Not as Good Looking as Brad, Concludes Jen!”).

It's the Same. Damn. Story – relentlessly repackaged. Over. And Over. And Over.

You can’t blame people for being intrigued; human drama involving sex, betrayal and really, really good-looking actors is extremely compelling – especially if it’s unscripted. Certainly no soap writer could have written it better. But … um … even Days of Our Lives doesn’t fixate on the same story line for a year and a half.

Some selected clips from recent "Break Up" articles:
* “Aniston Savors Break Up Irony"
* “Aniston has acknowledged the irony of starring in a film about break ups"
* “The irony wasn’t lost on any of us when we were shooting a movie called The Break-Up"
* Or my personal favorite? “Actress Loves Irony.”

Hmm … I doubt “loves” is the right word. Perhaps she found the irony ironic, but most probably, she just found the irony felt like a year-long punch in the stomach.

It’s certainly no surprise that the movie – and the drama behind it – has gotten heaps of attention. But I’ve had it – I’m not interested in hearing anything more about ANY of them. I am totally, irrevocably, irredeemably over the whole thing.

Oh yeah, but first - read my article, after the jump. :)

THE BREAK UP
AM NEW YORK – “THE DATING LIFE”
JUNE 26, 2006
BY JULIA ALLISON

A journalist sent me an email a few weeks ago, looking for couples who had split up but continued to live together, a la “The Break Up.” I snorted and thought, “Who would be so stupid?? Good luck trying to find people like that, sucker!”

After sending her a dismissive reply, I forgot about it – until last week.

As a rule, I don’t see many romantic comedies in the theatre. Manhattan cinemas tend to be rambunctious and claustrophobic; besides, like most men, The Boyfriend prefers to drag me to violent car-chase-gun-fight-gangster-drug-dealer flicks.

But last week I was in Chicago, sans boyfriend, for a faux vacation ("faux" because one cannot have a real vacation with one’s parents, in one’s childhood home). What better place to catch a screening of Jennifer & Vince’s “art imitates life” enterprise, set in the windy city?

I felt like I had already seen it.

No, not because I’d been subjected to the trailer more than a dozen times, read at least 279 tabloid stories about it (a conservative estimate), and discussed the “horrible irony” of Jennifer’s life with my mother/boyfriend/friends on more occasions than I care to admit.

Halfway through one of actors’ all-too-realistic breaking-up screaming matches, I remembered why.

I did know of someone who had gone through that experience. Me!

Two years ago, I broke up with a significant other – and then lived with him for five agonizing weeks while I frantically searched for a new place to stay. Oops. Who knew I was so good at blocking out unpleasant memories?

I quickly emailed the poor journalist, confessing the whole story.

Would I give her the name of my ex? She wanted to know. Would he talk to her? “Or do you guys not speak?”

“Ummm … Yeah, ‘don’t speak’ is an enormous understatement,” I wrote back.

It was. We were nothing like Aniston & Vaughn’s characters, who fight like angry monkeys during the actual break up, but then run into each other six months post-split, gushing, “Wow, it’s really good to see you!!” “No, it’s really good to see you!” “Seriously, it’s sooo good to see you!!” (I swear that’s what they said. Barf.)

Our scene went more like this: “If you even THINK about throwing my clothing off the balcony again, I will call the police.” “Oh, yeah, just try calling them – I’m cutting off your cell phone because you were on my Friends & Family plan and now you’re NEITHER!” “Oh really? I’m glad, because your mom is ugly.”

I think you get the idea. (Although I never really said his mom was ugly. She’s not.)

Given, break ups never bring out the sunny side of people’s personalities, but living together during a break up is like dipping your toes into relationship hell.

My ex, ever the sweet Dr. Jekyll while we were dating, turned into Mr. Hyde quickly thereafter. Mr. Hyde liked to dump the contents of my closet outside the front door and engage in screaming matches over who would get the Kleenex box holder (I’m not making this up). Mr. Hyde also asked me on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis when I was moving out, and suggested oh-so-helpfully that I sleep on the couch.

“Yeah, about that,” I would attempt to explain to him. “I bought the bed, I’m sleeping on the bed. You like the couch so much, you go sleep there!”

We ended up both awkwardly sleeping on opposite edges of the mattress, very aware of the invisible line of demarcation drawn down the middle – our own mini 38th parallel.

Our conversations were a minefield of italics, expletives and exclamation marks. I slapped him across the cheek, Hollywood-leading-lady style, on more than one occasion. I thought it was very cathartic; alas, he didn’t agree.

We fought over groceries. We fought over rent. We fought over custody of our two shih-tzu puppies.

We fought like we had never fought before – or since. In the end, he kept the apartment, the furniture and the state of California. I kept the Kleenex box holder.

And my mother got the two dogs.

After that, we stopped speaking entirely. Complete radio silence. No cell calls, no “just saying hey” emails, certainly no “it’s sooo good to see you” run-ins (although that’s probably understandable given that I now live 3,000 miles away). In the two years since we split, I’ve often wondered: if I had just moved out the day after we broke up, would we still be friends today?

Probably. But I wouldn’t have that Kleenex box holder. And let me tell you, I needed it.

JULIA THINKS “GOOD BREAK UPS” ARE A MYTH, HAVING NEVER HAD ONE THAT WASN’T COMPLETELY HORRIFIC. EMAIL JULIA@JULIAALLISON.COM

June 25, 2006

Ooo Ooo Pick ME! Pick MEEEE!!!

I officially nominate myself, (see photo below, in Congressional office 5 years ago), for the Hill Intern Hotties Contest, sponsored by Wonkette, authority on Governmental Hotness (or lack thereof).

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Okay, soooo ... actually, I'm not an intern on the Hill. In fact, although the photo above was taken during the inauguration (2001) at the Congressional office where I worked, I've never been an intern on the Hill. Which, I suppose, pretty much rules me out of the running. hmmm ... or DOES IT?

... thinking ...

Yeah. It does.

Damn. I would have schooled these beyotches. (Um, is that how you spell "beyotch"?) Okay. Maybe not. But as a nubile 19-year-old, I could have at least poured beer water on them. Or better yet, given their boyfriends' head. (kidding, mom, I'm KIDDING.)

Back in the day (way back, you know, like five years ago), I had taken a year off during college to work for my hometown Congressman as a legislative correspondent. I realize that means absolutely nothing to (most) normal people. Let me translate: I wrote lots of banal form letters to really angry constituents in which the primary objective was to pacify them without actually saying anything of substance and/or mentioning the word "Republican." (Which, oddly enough, was perfect practice for being a dating columnist.)

The whole "not being an intern" thing was a big deal to me then - it was a HUGE point of pride. I would go around shoving my business card in people's faces like: "Oh yeah, sucker?? You think you can tell me to go get you coffee? I may not be allowed to legally imbibe alcoholic beverages - yet - but I'M NOT A MOTHERF--KING INTERN!!!"

Okay, I didn't really include the expletive. But I was THINKING it.

That having been said, now that I'm older (practically dead, really), I find myself becoming nostalgic about the concept. There is a certain hotness about being - or having once been - the proverbial political intern. After all, there are very few times in a young woman's life in which she can arguably become one of the quintessential male fantasies. ("Cheerleader? Check. Schoolgirl? Check. Intern? Check. Bisexual Asian Porn Star? Uhhh ...")

And PS - This pretty much sums up what I really learned on the Hill:
"Beer before Liquor, Never Sicker. Liquor Before Beer, As Long as the Chief of Staff is Drunker than You, You're in the Clear." Thanks Uncle Sam!

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Hawk & Dove, Washington DC, 2001.

June 20, 2006

You're Invited!! And You Have No Idea Why!

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Is it just me, or do you ever get Evites where you sit there stumped for 20 minutes thinking, "Do I know them??"

Last week I received one that invited me to "Heather & Suki's birthday" with this tempting offer: "it's our birthday. come get drunk."

Wow. Sounds like my kind of party. But - are we friends?

Today I got another one - along with 470 other invitees - to a Sagaponic clambake on the beach. I was confused.

The inviters' names looked familiar ("Mike and Chris and Ryan and Meg"), in the way that common names tend to. I felt like I SHOULD know them. But ... umm ... I didn't. Did they go to college with me? Were they random readers of my column? Guys I'd slept with? WHO WERE THIS PEOPLE AND WHY DO THEY WANT ME TO COME TO THEIR CLAMBAKE????

In the future, I think Evites should include photographs of the inviters and short bios so the innocent invitees won't have to waste their time typing names into Facebook and muttering, "I really hope I haven't had sex with this person so I don't have to buy a gift."

PS. What Bush would say on this subject: "Listen, I'm the Inviter. I Invite People. You're the Invitee. You Get Invited. He hehe he."

Well, it was funny in my head, okay?

June 19, 2006

13 Simple Rules for Dealing with My Dad

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Yes, that's my father and me, circa 1982. Proving that it's never too early to lay down the law. Er, laws.

In honor of Father's Day, I did a little law-laying of my own. This week's AM New York column, 13 Simple Rules for Dealing with My Dad, is a riff on the uber-successful column by W. Bruce Cameron, (and later, tv show, of similar name), 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Once again, Mondays leave me too exhausted to do much but post the actual column, so here it is ...

THIRTEEN SIMPLE RULES FOR DEALING WITH MY DAD
AM NEW YORK – “THE DATING LIFE”
JUNE 19, 2006
BY JULIA ALLISON

My father is not big or tall. He does not own shotguns. And he has never threatened to murder any of my boyfriends with his bare hands.

He doesn’t need bare hands – he’s a lawyer. He cross-examines them to death.

Most past beaus haven’t survived his withering interrogatives.

There was Greg, who often reeked of cannabis: “You do realize that pot is illegal in this country, correct?” There was Jeff, who didn’t believe in going to class: “Would you say failing out of college indicates you don’t take your studies very seriously?” There was James, who was superbly talented at drinking copious amounts of vodka: “How many alcoholic beverages, on average, do you consume in a given week?”

There was Dan, who nearly had a heart attack every time my father would interrupt one of our interminable high school make out sessions by pounding on my bedroom door and bellowing, “Are you studying physics? Just remember the first law: Bodies in Motion Stay in Motion!” I’m still mortified.

Even The Current Boyfriend had a rough start. After interrogating Boyfriend about his “intentions,” my dad pounced: “I understand you’re ‘divorced’ – would you happen to have a copy of the documentation? And exactly how old are you again?”

I’ve always told my boyfriends to “just be themselves” when they meet my dad. I’ve always been a moron.

My new plan is this: No more being yourselves, unless “yourselves” is perfect. Instead, all boyfriends who interact with my paternal unit will have to adhere to the following – let’s just call them Thirteen Simple Rules So My Dad Won’t Refuse to Pay for the Wedding. (Or have you arrested.)

1) My father will ask you many questions. You will look him in the eye when you answer, and you will ENUNCIATE. Under no circumstances will you check your Blackberry during the conversation.

2) You will not attempt to touch, kiss or partially disrobe me within three miles of my father. You will not slap any body part of mine unless it is my hand and I have initiated a high-five. Most importantly, you are not interested in cohabitation or sex until marriage, and even then, only to procreate. You love me only for my mind. My body? What body??

3) Whether or not you believe in God, you will not begin a debate on the merits of atheism or staunchly declare, “You know, Marx settled this question a long time ago.” You will go to church with my father and you will sing along with the hymns. If you’re Jewish, you will pretend that you considered your bar mitzvah a spiritual experience and not the most efficient way for a 13-year-old to separate his relatives from their cash.

4) Speaking of cash, upon seeing my father’s house/car/boat/lawn mower, you will not say “that is money.” You will refrain from ruminating aloud about your Kanye West-induced fear of golddiggers. And you will never, ever use the word “pimp,” or debate how hard it is to be one. Instead, you will set your car radio to NPR and hum Beethoven’s Fifth.

5) When my father asks you about your college education, you will not look confused and say “Huh?”

6) You will eschew all frivolous and/or hedonistic activities, preferring yard work, vigorous exercise and paying bills promptly and in full.

7) You will brag about working 167-hour weeks to save for the expensive college educations of your unborn children. You will find a way to work the terms “personal responsibility,” “family values” and “401k” into as many conversations as possible. You will name-check your health insurance provider ("Whoops, just broke my leg. Good thing I have a low deductible with Blue Cross!").

8) You will profess a great interest in attending law school, even if you are currently a he-model who (until five minutes ago) thought that the LSAT stood for “Last Saturday.”

9) You will not admit to any “youthful indiscretions.” You never had a youth, or if you did, it was spent reading ponderous books about Thomas Jefferson, working part-time jobs that taught you “the value of a dollar,” and discouraging girls from going wild.

10) You will bring my father a nice bottle of wine, but profess not to drink, “except for the occasional glass of red at dinner.” You have never heard of keg stands and you do not know what “boot and rally” means.

11) You will google David McCullough and reference him repeatedly. “According to David McCullough,” you’ll say, and then you’ll make something up. If you’re challenged, you’ll reply sagely, “Well, look at chapter 18 of ‘1776.’” No one will bother.

12) Under no circumstances will you admit to any of the following: pedicures, strip clubs, credit card debt, binge drinking, threesomes, comprehensive knowledge of unemployment benefits, comprehensive knowledge of drug trafficking laws, road rage, not voting, voting for a Democrat, and exceptional familiarity with internet porn.

13) You will not repeatedly mumble, “This is just like ‘Meet the Fockers.’”

If all else fails, think “What Would Colin Farrell Do?” … then make the opposite decision.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

June 16, 2006

Reader to Julia: Shut the Hell Up about Politics, You Dating Columnist Moron

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I awoke this morning to a sagacious comment about my last two (verging-on-political) entries:

"I came to get dating advice and read some witty, original commentary not hear another new yorker do the tired, cliched, whine about the damn conservatives. Even if Coulter is a vulgar, self-promoting bitch, which she is, I don't come to your site to hear about it. Stop pretending you have an important political opinion and get back to the dating foxholes." - Jenny

Crap ... I've been served!

Jenny's right - I don't have an important political opinion. I know this because I just looked up the word "important" and apparently it means: "of great significance or value, likely to have a profound effect on success, survival or well-being."

I think we can all agree that my opinions (political or otherwise) are neither significant nor will they have a profound effect on anyone's success, survival, or well-being - let alone Ann Coulter's.

In conclusion, thank you, Jenny, for putting me in my place. I'm just a lowly dating columnist and shall henceforth stick to topics appropriate to lowly dating columnists.

Like ... um ... do you think Ann likes it doggie style?

I bet she does.

June 15, 2006

Now THIS Is More Like It!

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MSNBC's Olbermann tells Ann Coulter to go shove it up her skeletal ass. (as if she can fit anything else up there ... Bill O'Reilly's books aren't small, you know.)

My favorite line: "divorce and posing in Playboy - two things Ann Coulter will never have to face in her lifetime." (I think he was trying to be sarcastic ... but since no one would be bat-shit crazy enough to marry Coulter, she probably WON'T have to face divorce anytime soon. As for Playboy, c'mon, she may be "blonde," but even Hef has standards.

Before I dispense with Coulter bashing (it's too easy, I need something more challenging - like ... um ... figuring out why Britney's still with Kevin), let's sum it up:

Ann Coulter is ...

The World's Most Unhinged Lunatic AND Not Very Bright.

June 13, 2006

Anne Coulter, Demon-Spawn Who Terrifies the Times

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I don't get it.

Instead of the ball-less, sorry-ass headline the NYT came up with June 12th: Anne Coulter, Word Warrior, why don't they stop being pussies and say what all rational people think already:

ANNE COULTER, EVIL BITCH WHO WILL ROT IN HELL.

The embarrassingly spineless article, by David Carr, begins: "Once again, Ann Coulter has a book that needs flogging." Hmm ... and once again, the NYT is more than happy to flog it for her, with (of course) an ironically high level of journalistic deference to the hate-spewing subject. Sure, Carr acknowledges that Coulter only says the shit she does to get attention, that most people find it distasteful, even - gasp - immoral, but he concludes that pretty much everyone is too afraid of her to do much about it. The Times used more vitriol on James Frey.

Carr then actually writes the following sentence: "seeing hate-speech pop out of a blonde who knows her way around a black cocktail dress makes for compelling viewing."

I want to kill myself. This is the wrist-slap Coulter gets for making our world a more miserable place every time she opens her vile, excrement-filled mouth?

The bitch actually said (referring to the 9/11 widows) that SHE'S NEVER SEEN WOMEN ENJOYING THEIR HUSBANDS' DEATHS SO MUCH. All Carr comes back with is that it's a "doozy of a sentence." Pardon me, Mr. Carr - do you HAVE ANY TESTICLES AT ALL??

The mealy-mouthed conclusion: "You can accuse her of cynicism all you want, but the fact that she is one of the leading political writers of our age says something about the rest of us."

CYNICISM? That's all we can accuse her of?? And the crap that comes out of Ann Coulter's mouth is our faults????

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE NEW YORK TIMES??

June 11, 2006

Bridget Harrison Awarded Last Exception to Offical Ban of the Phrase: "the Real Life Carrie Bradshaw"

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If Helen Fielding and Candace Bushnell ever had a love child, she would be Bridget Harrison, the subject of my AM New York column this week.

The erstwhile New York Post dating columnist just released her first book, Tabloid Love, which I greeted with all the enthusiasm of a bitchy 13-year-old girl. "Oh great, another dating-columnist chick-lit memoir," I thought snarkily. "Let me guess: Sexy journalist pens jeremiad about men while maxing out AmEx with Manolo sprees? Been there, own the DVDs."

Of course, no one knows better than I how dead the "Carrie Bradshaw Junior" trend is. It's very dead. So dead, in fact, that it needs its own overgrown gravestone: RIP Early Millennium Cliché.

But somehow, Bridget Harrison makes it work. For one, it's not made up. She can't really help it if her life just happens to merge two of the most successful pop-culture phenoms from the past decade. Secondly, she's adorable - you can't help but like her. I actually cried at several sections, which, for a book with the subtitle "Looking for Mr. Right in all the wrong places," was more than a little surprising. Third, she has a British accent.

I realize that has absolutely nothing to do with her book - I’ve just always thought life would be so much better if everyone had British accents. Harrison proves that while life isn’t necessarily better, everything she says sounds better, so really, that’s all that matters.

In fact, as I transcribed our interview, every time I heard my grating, nasal Chicago accent (thanks Mom & Dad!), I found myself muttering "shut up, shut up!" When Bridget spoke, I was lulled into a dreamlike reverie.

Of course, any interview that starts out on the topic of vodka is bound to be a good one.

Julia: "The drinks at your book party last night were very ... potent... I'm still feeling the one I had." (Okay, I had two.)

Bridget: "Really? My English friends thought they were quite weak!"

Julia: "That's so strange." (Did I have three and not realize it??)

Bridget: "Well, English girls have been known to go to a party with American girls and all be given a vodka and tonic. The Americans are like, 'oh my god, this is so strong!' while at the same time the English girls are going 'Is there any vodka in this?'"

I suppose it doesn't sound terribly humorous now, in print, but just try to visualize Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones saying "Is there any vodka in this?" and suddenly it becomes much more amusing. Thus my point about desiring a British accent. Perhaps then my idiotic comments at parties would sound slightly less idiotic.

Okay, okay, probably not ...

(Read the text of today's column after the jump)

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BRIDGET HARRISON: EX-DATING COLUMNIST DISHES ON HERSELF AND NYC
AM NEW YORK – “THE DATING LIFE”
JUNE 5, 2006
BY JULIA ALLISON

The world of dating columnists is a small one, made smaller still by a continual exodus from the field, due to marriage (Amy Sohn), fame (Candace Bushnell) or the inevitable burnout (too many to name).

Bridget Harrison left for the final reason, but she persevered longer than most. Her column in the Sunday New York Post ran for three and a half years, earning the English-born journalist doyenne-status in a profession filled with neophytes.

But New York newspapers – like New York men – have short memories. In the two years since Bridget’s reign ended, several other adventuresses have tried their hand at her former job. None lasted more than a few months, which says less about them and more about Bridget’s persistent charm – both on the page and off.

Indeed, meeting Bridget for the first time, I found her personality so likable and her British accent so soothing, I wanted to her to be my new best friend. I had it all planned – we could have sleepovers at my apartment where I would express outrage at how New York men had treated her, while simultaneously researching possible husbands on eHarmony. Occasionally I’d yell random English slang: “Blimey! Snogging your mate’s man is dodgy, but brilliant! You must be knackered!” and demand we open another bottle of Shiraz while she translated what I just said for my roommates.

Still, when a friend of mine recommended Bridget’s recently released memoir, “Tabloid Love: Looking for Mr. Right in all the wrong places,” I smelled BS. Looking for Mr. Right? Typical chick-lit banality – and the cover quote from an overexposed Bushnell, touting it as “A real-life Bridget Jones meets Sex and the City,” didn’t help.

372 pages later, I think Bushnell understated it.

Bridget Harrison really IS Bridget Jones, thrown into Carrie Bradshaw’s life. With the plucky British attitude (Jones), the New York newspaper column (Bradshaw) and the amusingly disastrous luck with men (both), it’s downright eerie.

While “Tabloid Love” covers her entire tenure as a recently transplanted London reporter, the juiciest bits concern the exasperating dating life that shaped her popular column. “That was when most readers responded to me,” she says. “They seemed to really enjoy it.”

Sure! New Yorkers love a little Schadenfreude on Sundays (something to offset the NYT Wedding Pages).

Or maybe they identified with her. After all, Bridget is the anti-Bergdorf Blonde, a bit disheveled, completely unpretentious and totally relatable. She’s the girl who was once greeted by a date with “Are you wearing THAT?” at which point he informed her that she could be “one hot chick” if she “made more of an effort.”

In a town where each woman seems more perfectly put-together than the next, you’ve gotta love a gal who writes something like that.

Of course, nothing interests voyeuristic New Yorkers like someone else’s love life (except possibly someone else’s bank statements). Still, it’s hard to maintain that interest without offering a little bit more – in Bridget’s case, an explanation for the perverse difficulty of finding love in New York.

Although some of it might seem obvious to longtime denizens, she makes a solid analysis: With 500,000 more unattached ladies, “even if a guy’s on a date with a smart, beautiful woman, he knows there are plenty more where she came from,” she writes. Being smart and beautiful, those women “feel they deserve to be treated a little bit special… To guys this can translate into ‘demanding.’” The result? A “cutthroat dating environment” leads to singles who are “jaded and defensive – making it even harder to have a relationship.”

Her final point is the most memorable. Ultimately, your crappy love life is due to compact geography, cheap taxis and efficient public transportation.

Huh?

“Back in London, the time [and expense] it takes to get anywhere means you have to make a plan and stick with it,” Bridget explains. “In New York, you can jump from party to party every night without even breaking into a sweat. So if you’re having a drink with someone and it’s not fun, then it’s easy to move to something better.”

In other words, it’s an OBO town. With limitless options only minutes away, “why commit to anything, least of all a relationship?”

“Bloody hell,” she concludes cheekily, “I’m an anthropological genius.”

Looks like Malcolm Gladwell has some competition. Wait – is he single?

June 08, 2006

Life is Like Prom. But Less Fun.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl in possession of a high school ID, must be in want of a prom dress.

(Oh, crap. I promised myself that I'd never bastardize that Austin line, just because half of the oh-so-clever-and-precious writing world, including 98% of the NYT Style section, already has. But this is a blog, so lower standards apply.)

In case you missed my first Prom Dress blog entry, here's a quick recap: I love the Prom. Many girls feel similarly. Some of those girls don't have enough $$ to buy dresses. Other girls want to relive prom forever. The latter girls decided to band together to help the former girls, thus: Prom Dress Charities.

Wow, I should always write in staccato sentences like that. Sort of empowering.

Anyway, below is the article I wrote for New York magazine on the subject. Click on the photo to enlarge, if you so choose.

The longer, unedited version is after the jump, and I highly recommend reading that. Okay, okay, only if you really have nothing else to do. But it just goes to show how much editors, well ... edit. And it will certainly bring back memories. Unless you never got a chance to, say, bury your alcohol under the school-sanctioned after-party tents in the football field. (Because it's not really prom without some good dirt smeared alcohol.)

New York mag Prom Dress Article.jpg

THE AFTERLIFE OF A PROM GOWN
NEW YORK MAGAZINE
MAY 15, 2006
BY JULIA ALLISON

Prom season is upon us, and a gown-donation service struggles to match girls to dresses previously worn for only one enchanted evening.

Years beyond high school, low on New York closet space, the women in these photos were ready to admit they’d never wear their cherished (if, in hindsight, tacky) pink toile prom gown again, but not quite ready to stuff it in a plastic bag and head down to the local Salvation Army.

Instead, they volunteered their dresses (and their time) to Operation Fairy Dust, a nascent charity which donates gowns to underprivileged New York girls for the paramount social event of their adolescence: The Prom.

“All girls should be able to attend their prom and look fabulous – regardless of cost,” says Chairwoman Megan Kerrigan, who has been involved in the organization since its start in 2002.

The charity doesn’t judge what constitutes financial need – their one-day Dress Giveaway is open to all girls in the five boroughs with a class of 2006 high school ID. “Depending on each girls situation, the economic impact of buying a prom dress may vary,” says Kerrigan, who works with the NYC Department of Education to get the word out. “But we would rather see these girls studying for the SATs then working a part time job to pay for their prom dress.”

Run solely by volunteers, more than 30 members make up the Planning Committee, and 50 more attend the actual Prom Dress Giveaway.

While they’ve had no trouble convincing space-desperate Manhattanites to give up their old gowns, Operation Fairy Dust has struggled financially since its inception, relying on money from founder Raisha Bell and chairwoman Kerrigan’s own pockets to pay for the cost of renting the space and storing the excess gowns.

Last year they were only able to outfit 300 girls, despite a surfeit of a thousand dresses. “There are only so many girls we can dress at a time – we don’t want it to be an assembly line,” says Kerrigan. The girls are ushered through the dress-choosing process with volunteer “Fairy Godmothers” as their guides – a process that takes a not-insignificant amount of time, as any teen girl who’s ever tried on formal wear knows.

This year Operation Fairy Dust had an inventory in excess of 2,500 gowns (in addition to purses, shoes, and cosmetics). According to Kerrigan, they planned to dress more than 1,000 girls at the annual dress giveaway last Saturday, May 6th at the Prince George Ballroom. “We would like to extend the event to a bigger space or increase the number of dates,” says Kerrigan, “but every fundraising event we’ve had this year has completely fallen through.”

“Still,” she adds, “we’ll keep trying, because it’s a night many girls anticipate as much as their wedding. We want to make ‘Oprah-style’ dreams come true,” says Kerrigan.

For more information visit www.operationfairydust.org

OPERATION FAIRY DUST VOLUNTEER Q & A

Name: Megan Kerrigan
Age: 26
Occupation: Chairwoman and Director of PR, Operation Fairy Dust
Lives: Brooklyn
Attended Prom: 1997 at Bishop Kearney High School in Brooklyn

1. Describe your prom dress. I’m wearing it in this photo - I had my strapless, navy blue satin gown and custom made by a dressmaker underneath the F train on McDonald Avenue in Bensonhurst. It cost about $300. My mom let me get a strapless dress on the condition that I would wear this detachable satin “top” that went over it. She’s still wondering why there are no actual pictures of me wearing the top.
2. Can you still fit into it? Yes, I actually try it on every couple of months just to make sure – old prom dresses fittings are great benchmarks of weight loss success!
3. How was your prom? I started the Prom countdown in the beginning of my Sophomore year, so I had looked forward to that night for a long, long time. It was everything I wanted it to be.
4. Do you still speak to your prom date? No, he was very annoying – he vomited. I remember trying to throw him in an in-ground pool that didn’t have water in it – right after I threw him out of my hotel room!
5. Did you get drunk that night? Actually, I was the designated ice bucket holder in my limo (my friends threw up in it).
6. Why did you decide to donate your dress today? Because my prom was a special experience I would like to share with another girl – and also because I’ve given up hope that I will ever be invited to a red carpet awards show.
7. If you could go to Prom again, what would you do differently? I would probably take at least one picture wearing that detachable top for my mom.


Name: Kate Lutkus
Age: 23
Occupation: Development Associate
Lives: Upper East Side
Attended Prom: 2000 at Penn High School Prom in Mishawaka, Indiana

1. Describe your prom dress. It had a purple satin top with a huge purple and pink tulle skirt. I got it at the mall for around $120, but I made my Mom take me to the mall in the next town over just to make sure no other girl at the prom would be wearing the same dress. Mom wasn’t crazy about the backless part but ended up letting me get it because she liked the big, puffy skirt. Looking back on it now it’s a little on the tacky side, but at the time I felt like rebellious princess in it.
2. How many times did you wear it? Just once! This dress does not belong anywhere else besides the high school prom.
3. How was your prom? I was so sure that the prom was going to be the best night of my life, so I was really stressed out, obsessing over the dress, the date, the flowers, and the dinner plans. It was nothing like I expected – and I didn’t fall in love like I hoped I would. But it ended up being a more fitting end to high school than actual graduation. The whole class made a big circle on the dance circle when Vitamin C's ‘Graduation Song’ came on and everybody started crying.
4. Did you get drunk at prom? Nope! My mom was a chaperone and I was too scared of her catching me to even try.
5. Did you make the phrase “off like a Prom Dress” ring true? Not even close. I couldn't even get my date to kiss me (even though he was 2 inches shorter)
6. Any advice for girls going to prom this year? Wear comfy shoes!


Name: Keisha Simpson
Age: 30
Occupation: Public Relations
Lives: Mount Vernon, New York
Attended Prom: 1993 Port Chester High School, New York

1. Describe your prom dress. A multi-spaghetti strap, red fitted dress with a split in the front, with rhinestone clips on the straps. It cost a little under $200.00. I loved the dress because it was fitted and I was so thin and I knew I looked sexy. Since prom, my dress has been living in a huge Tupperware container with other items that I can’t fit into.
2. How was your prom? I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember the horse and carriage ride afterwards. And the easy access my dress provided. Of course, my date wasn’t a dancer so he had to make up for it somehow.
3. Do you still speak to your date? My date was my high school boyfriend, who was a cheating liar. We don’t speak, but I do have a great little package to remember him by everyday. The package (my son) is 10 years old.
4. Why did you decide to donate your dress today? I love the cause and I think that it’s timeless dress (minus the rhinestone clips).
5. If you could go to Prom again, what would you do differently? I would not have worn that red lipstick.


Name: Kerri Kuchta
Age: 23
Occupation: Assistant at Props for Today
Lives: Sunnyside, New York
Attended Prom: 2001 Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Virginia

1. Describe your prom dress. It was like Cinderella on Crack – a huge pink poofy strapless two-piece. The top was pink sequins that were so rough that by the end of the evening my armpits were cut and bleeding. I looked like a pink Christmas tree.
2. Where has your dress been living since prom? I threw that bitch out! It had bloodstains on it from where it tried to kill me. I only wore it once and if someone tried to pay me to wear it again, I would tell them to f--k off.
3. What do you remember most about that night? Prom was my ‘first time’ getting arrested.
4. For drinking? You could say that. We took a limo to prom, Gatorade bottles filled with cheap vodka shoved in between our legs; we chased our Jager shots with screwdrivers. As we were sitting at a red light, someone opened the door to puke. Then there were blue lights, DC police, and backup cars. The cops put us in handcuffs, prom dresses and all, and took us downtown. Of course, the girls did an extremely good job of begging and pleading – one even offered the cops blowjobs to let us go. It would have been the best action they had gotten in awhile, but when they realized how long it would take them to charge each of us they re-thought their decision. Without having to provide sexual favors, we were let go.
5. So did you make it to the dance? Fashionably late – and only after we went to McDonalds.


Name: Sharon Newman
Age: 25
Occupation: Event planner
Lives: Brooklyn
Attended Prom: 1999 Edward R Murrow High School in Brooklyn

1. Describe your prom dress. It was a Jessica McClintock ivory corset top with puffy bottom. I loved Princess Diana and I always wanted to dance in elegant ballroom gowns like the scene from Cinderella. That’s how I felt in the dress, like I was royalty!
2. Can you still fit into it? I wish I could say I hit puberty late and my chest is now a size double D, but I can’t. So yes, my dress still fits. Which is great because I didn’t gain the freshmen fifteen. Still, a size D chest would have been nice.
3. How was your prom? A lot of us went to the same college so we weren’t saying goodbye, but it was the last time we were in pretty dresses together until this past November, when we were bridesmaids at a wedding. We took an identical photo with the bride and the bridesmaids lined up the same way we were at the pre-prom party.
4. What do you remember most about your Prom? The song that kept playing in the limo. I don’t remember the name but every time I hear these lyrics: “Beep beep. Who’s got the keys to my jeep? Vroom!” I think of the prom.
5. Why did you decide to donate your Prom dress? I felt so special in my dress that I wanted someone else to feel that way. I will never wear it again, and if I have a daughter I’m sure she wouldn’t want to wear her mother’s prom dress!
6. Who do you hope gets this dress? A girl who wouldn’t be able to go to the prom otherwise, I mean, I don’t think Lindsay Lohan would be going to Operation Fairy Dust but you never know.


Name: Lara Minch-Klass
Age: 24
Occupation: PR Coordinator
Lives: Upper East Side
Attended Prom: 2000 Freehold High School, Freehold NJ

1. Describe your prom dress. Pink and sparkly, with a strapless, tight gauzy bodice then flared out – very virginal. I was going through a time in my life where I needed to feel special, and that dress did it for me. I bought it with my mom and my aunt, who have been there for every major girly purchase since my first bra.
2. Can you still fit into it? It would be a tight squeeze, but I think I could manage through sheer willpower.
3. What do you remember most about your Prom? Dancing with a teacher that I had a MAJOR crush on – I think it was the happiest moment of my life at that point!
4. Did you get laid? Unfortunately, no. But I did get a backrub from the captain of the football team!
5. How did you feel about donating your dress? I couldn’t be happier – I want someone to feel as special as I did when it was my turn. I hope the girl who gets it will pass it on when she’s done.


Name: Lauren Savage
Age: 26
Occupation: Fashion designer / online boutique owner
Lives: Brooklyn
Attended Prom: 1997 Longmeadow High School in Longmeadow, Massachusetts

1. Describe your prom dress. It was a strapless pink Jessica McClintock, featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine that month. It had little rosettes hanging from the bottom. I actually made a necklace from grosgrain ribbon and vintage pearls to match the rosettes. I'm wearing the necklace in the picture you see here.
2. How was your prom? I remember a lot of couples making out on the dance floor, but I wasn’t one of those couples. My boyfriend was too embarrassed to make out in front of all his classmates. Lucky me. At least I didn't get any nasty hickeys – I laughed my ass off when I saw the most popular girl in school trying to cover one up in the bathroom. I guess she didn't realize what would happen when a guy sucks on your neck for all 8 minutes of “November Rain!”
3. What do you remember most about your Prom? The after party! Our school sponsored this event called “Tent City.” The whole class pitched tents on the football field before the prom and “slept over” after the prom ended. The idea was to make sure we didn't drink and drive. The irony is, people actually went to great lengths to bury their liquor underground under their tents so they wouldn't get caught on the way in by the chaperones!
4. Did you get drunk? Nope, I was a total prude. My boyfriend was too. He never drank in high school although I’m told he drinks a lot now.
5. Any advice for the next girl to wear your dress? Beware of hickeys. They don’t look pretty with strapless prom dresses.

June 05, 2006

How To Determine If Your Boyfriend's Really Whipped Dedicated

Wedding Alex Julia Small.jpg

Just tell him he has to wear a matching pink tie to the wedding of HIS cousin, where all HIS male family members will question his masculinity while you make him take photo after photo because you're "soooo cute with the little matching *pink* outfits!!!"

As if he doesn't have enough to put up with dating me.