Private parts | 5 years ago | March 16, 2001 | Katha Pollitt stood up forThe Vagina Monologues.
“The Vagina Monologues may not be great literature — on the page it’s a bit thin, and the different voices tend to run together into EveEnslerspeak about seashells and flowers and other lovely bits of nature. But as a performance piece it’s fantastic: a cabaret floor show by turns hilarious, brassy, lyrical, poignant, charming, romantic, tragic, vulgar, sentimental, raunchy, and exhilarating. In ‘The Flood,’ an old woman says she thinks of her ‘down there’ as a cellar full of dead animals, and tells the story of her one passionate kiss and her dream of Burt Reynolds swimming in her embarrassing ‘flood’ of sexual wetness. A prim, wryly clever woman in ‘The Vagina Workshop’ learns how to give herself orgasms at one of Betty Dodson’s famous masturbation classes. At the Garden, Ensler led the cast in a chorus of orgasmic moans, and [Glenn] Close got the braver members of the audience to chant ‘Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!’ at the climax of a poetic monologue meant to redeem and reclaim the dirtiest of all dirty words.
“How anyone could find The Vagina Monologues anti-male or pornographic is beyond me — it’s a veritable ode to warm, quirky, affectionate, friendly, passionate sex. The only enemies are misogyny, sexual shame, and sexual violence, where violence is construed fairly literally: a poor black child is raped by her father’s drunken friend; a Bosnian girl is sexually tortured by Serbian paramilitaries. None of your ambiguous ‘was it rape?’ scenarios here. Oprah performed a new monologue, ‘Under the Burqa,’ about the horrors of life for Afghan women under Taliban rule, followed by Zoya — a young representative of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) — who gave a heartbreaking, defiant speech. Three African women spoke against female genital mutilation and described ongoing efforts to replace cutting with new coming-of-age rituals, ‘circumcision by words.’ ”
‘Car’ trouble | 10 years ago | March 15, 1996 | Felix Khalatnikov reviewed the latest disc from UK indie rockers the Wedding Present.
“Obsession makes for fervent pop music. A tide of intensity keeps the blood boiling; when mixed with a little insanity it can result in passion. For a decade now, the Wedding Present have been the best around at writing obsessive, sometimes sardonic tongue-in-cheek, sometimes brittle realistic songs about relationships. This tunnel vision of popular music has been their bread and butter, and their classic retro drum beats, jangly guitars, and Phil Spector–influenced melodies have always been the perfect accompaniment to singer/songwriter David Gedge’s girl-and-boy musings.
“The Wedding Present have stuck to these themes with such dedication, you might be disconcerted to hear that their new Mini (Cooking Vinyl) is nine songs about cars. Be assured Gedge never truly abandons his favorite topics. He merely cloaks lust, love, and infidelity in automobile iconography, in the process taking his obsession to new heights and enabling the Wedding Present to make their most concise, focused album.