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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Taking care of a puppy is a full-time job and if I am not there for every moment in the first year of its life I have failed as a parent.  –  Trish Lemierre

There were lots and lots and LOTS of links this week, but only one video (the first, contributed by Aspasia); so, I decided to let Penn & Teller use doughnuts to illustrate the spectacular failure of the Drug War in only 88 seconds.  Everything above the first video was provided by Radley Balko, and the links between the videos came from Grace (“law” and “badge”), Michael Whiteacre  (“litigious”), Luscious Lani (“oh-oh”, “potato” and “population”), Dave Krueger  (“police state”), Cop Block (“colors” and “snow beat”), Dan Savage (“taser”),  Lucy Steigerwald (“cigarettes”), Scott Greenfield (“stolen car”), and Wikileaks  (“rude”).

From the Archives

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If that preacher man wants me to repent, he better pay me more money.  –  Minnie Rae Simpson

One of the recurring themes of these harlotographies is the difficulty of ascertaining the truth of almost any given detail about the life of any given whore who lived prior to the 20th-century advent of obsessive recordkeeping.  The farther back in history one delves, the harder it is to be sure of dates and other details, and the more biography merges into fiction, legend or even myth.  By the late 19th century we can be reasonably certain of things like birthdates and residences for whores of middle or upper-class birth, but solid facts about those of the working class – especially in the frontier regions of the young United States – can be just as obscure as those of a person born centuries earlier.  Add claims made by the lady herself to entice customers or inflate her reputation, and those made by reporters, biographers and other tall-tale-tellers during her life and after her death, and we have the recipe for a legend as misty as that of King Arthur even if its subject lived well into recent times.

One excellent example of this is the story of Minnie Rae (sometimes called Mary) Simpson, a young San Francisco streetwalker of the 1870s.  According to the popular narrative of her life, she was born in or near Philadelphia in 1860 to a woman known only as Lacey; her father is said to have been a shoe worker who participated in the Great New England Shoemakers’ Strike which began on February 22nd, 1860.  He is supposed to have died en route to California in 1862, either just before or just after the birth of Minnie’s younger brother, Adam.  Lacey claimed a land grant near San Francisco under the Homestead Act and managed to build up a small farm, relying on young Minnie for assistance with her baby brother; however, she died of scarlet fever in 1869, leaving the girl an orphan (it is unknown whether Adam survived).  Without family or even friends in the area, Minnie was forced to provide for herself and did so, as so many others have throughout history, by prostitution; she lived for a time with a Mr. Simpson (from whom she took her surname) and is supposed to have travelled with him the following year to England and Scotland.  There she is said to have met the young J.M. Barrie, who in later years wrote Peter Pan and patterned the character of Wendy after her.

Minnie Rae Simpson in 1871While on this tour she became pregnant, and the only known photograph of her was taken in 1871.  She gave birth to a son (whom she named Bartholomew) the following year; by this point she was no longer with Simpson and lived mostly on the street.  She was a close friend to the notable San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton, who proclaimed her “The Little Countess”, and the association almost certainly contributed heavily to her fame; during the same time period she gave a series of interviews to a journalist, who turned them into a book entitled My Life as a Child Prostitute: The Autobiography of Minnie Rae.  Given the subject matter, it seems likely that the reason the journalist remained anonymous was to avoid controversy or even accusations of being one of Minnie’s clients.  It was a wise precaution; though the Cult of the Child was not yet in full swing in the US, Minnie’s pragmatic view of prostitution (“I get paid to be a whore.  If I married some farmer, I’d have to do it for free”) and her statements that prostitutes do the work because it’s lucrative and gives them a high degree of freedom, were almost as incendiary then as they would be now.  Only a few copies were ever printed, and these were gathered together by a preacher and burned in 1880, soon after the Emperor Norton’s death.  One copy survived, and was passed down to her descendants by Bartholomew until it, too was lost sometime in the late 20th century; only a few photocopied pages remain.  Minnie herself left San Francisco in 1873 and vanished from history; how Bartholomew knew anything about his mother or gained his copy of her book is entirely unclear, considering he was an infant at the time.  The only other concrete evidence of her existence is Minna Street in San Francisco, named for her by a politician who was one of her clients.

Now, the skeptical reader will no doubt already see a few problems with this narrative; though there are exceptions to every rule, in the late 19th century the average age of menarche in the US was about 14, and conditions such as Minnie lived in would tend to raise the age due to poor nutrition; in other words, getting pregnant at the age of 11 was even less likely in 1871 than it is now, and delivering a healthy baby from such a pregnancy would be unlikelier still.  Furthermore, though she was undoubtedly precocious, her making the kind of splash that she did in the short time she managed it seems to me less like something a 10 or 11-year-old could accomplish, and more like the actions of a bright 14 or 15-year-old with a baby face who realized that lurid narratives sell.  The intelligent, outgoing Minnie was well-known among clients and acquaintances as a tale-teller, and she even boasted that Mark Twain had been inspired by some of her yarns; it seems very likely that she ratcheted her age down a few years for the sake of marketing, but whether she told her clients that age or whether it was something she came up with for a credulous journalist is unknown.  Given that her business is known to have gone up after she got pregnant (an obvious sign of more advanced physical maturity), and that underage whores still to this day exaggerate their back-stories for gullible members of the press, the latter seems far more likely.  One thing I find fascinating is that those who retell her story never find it odd that her birth year is known with such certainty despite the fact that her birthplace, her original surname and any event of her life after 1873 are not; I reckon the wanking fantasy of the pregnant 10-year-old streetwalker is just too juicy to pass up.

sacred chaoLarger-than-life characters tend to live on in the imaginations of others long after their deaths, and Minnie Rae is no exception.  Beside Peter Pan’s Wendy, she was also named a Discordian saint in 2006 (unsurprising, given that the Emperor Norton was a major influence on the philosophy); the Discordians seem to have started a rumor that the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train system was named after her son Bartholomew.  Minnie believed in reincarnation, and claimed to have been a Babylonian harlot who was mentioned in the Bible; whether she meant Revelation’s “Whore of Babylon” is unknown.  But it seems likely that her belief inspired two modern-day strippers to claim to be Minnie reincarnated; one of them, who went by Fannie Mae, worked in Los Angeles during the ‘90’s. The other, Kitty, worked on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during the ‘50s and ‘60s, knew Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst (one of the founders of Discordianism), and because of that connection (and a tentative one to Jack Ruby) was suspected by Jim Garrison as being connected to the Kennedy assassination conspiracy.  Confused yet?  Read some of the links, and it’ll probably get worse.  But it all goes to show that when dealing with the demimonde, appearances are often more important than reality, and adhering to conventional beliefs about women and girls is foolish at best.

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To believe that we can eliminate sex work…without…affecting other industries…operates on the assumption that sex work happens in isolation—that what happens on the back page doesn’t affect the front, when, in fact, it’s financing the whole operation.  –  Alexandra Kimball

Think of the Children!

The Telegraph‘s headline writer obviously doesn’t know the meaning of the term “graphic novel”:

A council worker who wrote a “raunchy” novel was sacked from her job at a children’s centre after complaints from parents who compared the book to Fifty Shades of Grey.  Bettina Bunte…was…told…that her book damaged the reputation of the…centre…

Five Women in Whitechapel Russell Edwards with supposed Ripper shawl

You’ve probably heard all the hubbub about Jack the Ripper being “definitely” identified by DNA testing of a shawl supposedly found next to the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes (cue Maggie’s goose pimples).  Unfortunately, we’ll still have to put up with the endless speculation for a while yet:

…Leaving aside…the claim that the shawl was never washed or cleaned at any time during the past 126 years, the biggest problem in carrying out such sensitive DNA analysis is the question of cross contamination…When other labs have worked on the ancient DNA of important samples…they have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid the possibility…They have also worked…“blind”…to ensure they do know which sample they are analysing in order to avoid unwitting prejudice…None of this, as far we know, has been done in this case.  Dr Louhelainen may be satisfied that he has found the culprit, but many other scientists are not, including Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the man who invented the DNA fingerprint technique…“An interesting but remarkable claim that needs to be subjected to peer review, with detailed analysis of the provenance of the shawl and the nature of the claimed DNA match with the perpetrator’s descendants”…Sir Alec [said, adding]…“Kosminski was long regarded as by far the most likely perpetrator.”

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

[Florida cop James Yacobellis, who was]…busted in a…sting of a Boca Raton Asian massage parlor…isn’t a stranger to trouble…in one instance…he…[threatened] a suspect by putting him in a bathtub, turning on the faucet, and pointing his taser…between October 2011 and February 2013, Yacobellis was on paid leave while [other] allegations were being investigated.  He was still drawing a $87,000 a year salary…In nine years, Yacobellis was involved in six …internal affairs investigations.

Perquisites

Funny how the truth doesn’t get as much press as silly lies about sports:

…So far there are about 13,000 delegates lined up to attend 18 events when the Nova Centre opens in 2016.  Local sex workers expect that will make business busier than usual.  “A lot of businessmen have an entertainment allowance”…said one Halifax-based sex worker.  “Out-of-town clients are about 60 percent of the business right now.”  Business travellers are why one local sex worker allows clients to pay by credit card—with the nature of the transaction concealed.  “A lot of them will use [their company credit card] or write it off as a business expense,” she says…

The Law of Averages 

It’s good to see this in as mainstream a publication as The Atlantic:

There is little basis for the claim that 13…is the age that most sex workers begin working in prostitution.  It’s hard to pin down where exactly the…claim originated, partly because it’s so often repeated without a citation or context…Most organizations, if they refer to a source at all, reference [the Estes & Weiner] study…Most current government and nonprofit policies on sex work define their goals as “rescue,” which makes perfect sense if the age-of-entry statistic is central to your understanding of the sex industry…But…in reality, many sex workers come into the industry as adults and without coercion…

StruwwelpeterAuthor Chris Hall does discuss the Silbert & Pines study, but does not mention Melissa Farley’s distortion of their data.

Presents, Presents, Presents! 

Daz sent two presents while I was on the road, so I only saw them after I got home last week!  One was Acolytes of Cthulhu, and the other Struwwelpeter (in English).  Thank you so much!

Confined and Controlled

Another idiot who doesn’t understand the bottleneck effect and thinks women are too stupid and weak to be allowed to manage our own sexuality:

A mayoral candidate says he wants Ottawa to be the “test city” for legalizing prostitution and is in favour of legalized bordellos.  Darren W. Wood…says he wants prostitution to be “tightly controlled and highly taxed” as a means of protecting sex workers and generating revenue…Under his proposal, sex workers would be…regularly checked for sexually transmitted infections, protected from pimps and johns via an onsite security system and fined or jailed if they are working without a license…

The Last Thirteen for Fourteen

Here’s another excellent column from Marijke Vonk; this one’s on how to be a good ally to sex workers:

…By vocally supporting sex workers we can challenge the  assumptions of the people around us…As professionals, academics, social workers, educators or people in a position of social power we can…even influence legislative reform…It can be scary to openly disagree with the current discourse of sex workers as either victims or dirty whores who were asking for it, but as a non-sex worker you have the privilege of staying relatively safe as you speak out about these injustices…

The Public Eye

Pop singer Lowell spent some time as a stripper in Canada…[but while] a lot of singers might cover up that past…it became immediately obvious that she has nothing to hide…She’s been [drawing on her stripping and bisexuality]…since her brilliant 2013 EP, I Killed Sarah V(Sarah Victoria was her name when she was a dancer).  She told Rolling Stone, “There can be something really empowering about [stripping]…by making it taboo, we alienate these girls and allow…victimization to happen.”  It’s important to bring those kinds of ideas into the mainstream…


Feminine Pragmatism (TW3 #133)

You’d almost think reporters were historical ignoramuses who didn’t know that up until a century ago, the professions of actress and whore were indistinguishable:

Shweta Prasad, one of India’s best known former Bollywood child stars, has been arrested for prostitution…she said…she and many other actresses had been lured into prostitution when Bollywood roles dried up and the money ran out.  She had not found a film role in eight years…Inspector P Murali Krishna…said…“We are treating her as a victim and she’s been sent to a rehabilitation home.  We have arrested the person who exploited her”…

A 23-year-old woman voluntarily doing productive work is an “exploited victim”, but she wasn’t at all exploited when others pimped her in movies at the age of 11.  But in India, unlike the US, some are willing to point out the truth:

…the law clearly says that the practice of selling…sexual service is…not a crime…the actress…had not been coerced, kidnapped or tricked…but had chosen this from among the options available to her…the media [should] refrain from gleefully jumping in with police stings that are unauthorised and illegal…it wasn’t the activities of the actress that were illegal but the actions of the police…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Canadians feminists prove themselves just as obsessed with trivia as their sisters in the mother country:

A Vancouver catering company that offers sushi served on women’s naked bodies is sparking controversy among feminists who call the practice disgusting and degrading…“We’re not hijacked into doing this,” [said] Vancouver model Jessica Perry…Naked Sushi…offers nyotaimori— the Japanese practice of serving sashimi or sushi on a naked female body adorned with strategically-placed flowers and leaves…women’s rights activists are asking health officials to shut [it] down…the health authority does not have jurisdiction over the catering company as it serves its sushi after the food is prepared in an approved kitchen…

My First Million (TW3 #343)

I reached a total of three million page views soon after 2:30 PM CDT Thursday.  Thanks so much to all the readers who have helped make this blog a success! 3,000,000

O, Canada! (TW3 #405) 

Cop gets in trouble for unofficially doing the same thing other cops do officially:

Six guilty verdicts…against an Ottawa [cop] who…repeatedly…[accessed] confidential police records for personal reasons could result in dismissal.  Sgt. Rohan Beebakhee…took it upon himself to book dates with escorts, showing up in full uniform and having what he called a “safety briefing” with sex trade workers…He would often bring along junior officers…An internal affairs investigator…ordered in 2011 that Beebakhee stop all contact with escorts.  He didn’t…Beebakhee…was charged with sexual assault…in 2007 [but the] charge was withdrawn in 2009…

Property of the State

Note that at 12 weeks abortion is totally legal:

A [Montana] woman…is now facing a felony criminal endangerment charge for putting her unborn child at risk by taking illegal drugs.  Casey Gloria Allen, 21…[tested] positive for the presence of benzodiazapines, THC, and opiates…Allen is 12 weeks pregnant…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) 

Excerpt from a press release by Terri-Jean Bedford:

This afternoon I testified before the Senate Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs.  I gave my speech and then was ejected from the question and answer session for failing to stop speaking when the Chair asked me to.  I apologize for losing my temper.  I was barely able to read my speech because I was so angry at the government for parading victims with repeated irrelevant information and then organizations who were shilling for government handouts on which they are dependent.  The shameful use of victims by the government in this process, and their disregard for life by ignoring court findings, refusing to listen to their own legal staff and refusing to answer questions from legitimate sources made me snap…

If Men Were Angels

So now joining a cult is “sex trafficking” too?

Four members of [an Israeli] messianic group have been arrested on charges of kidnapping young women and forcing them into prostitution …the group would control women with a combinations of drugs, alcohol and heavy brainwashing techniques and convince them to have sex in exchange for money…Police allege that the girls were taught that “lying with non-Jews would hasten the redemption” of the Jewish people and that by having sex with non-Jews, the girls would purify them and bring back their “holy sparks” to Israel…

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Another good call for Canadian queers to oppose criminalization:

The government…[has] a…history of criminalizing consensual sex to promote the majority’s sexual morality.  Think of the ban against gay sex, lifted in 1969.  Nobody suggests that ban really changed people’s desire to engage in gay sex or reduced its incidence.  Instead, it cast a stigma and criminal status over a class of individuals [and]…impaired their ability to participate as full and equal members of society.  It also made people who had gay sex vulnerable to blackmail and less able to seek police protection when threatened…If you are a trans person…many obstacles still face you in Canada.  But if you are gay or lesbian…it’s a good place to be…[because] of political and legal struggles over past decades.  The beneficiaries of these reforms have a responsibility to fight a law that flies in the face of our experience…the commitment to sexual justice that underlay our earlier struggles entails fully decriminalizing adult sex work.

Bait and Switch

You can bet that “minor child” in this context actually means “young woman above the age of consent but below 18″:

…Timothy S. Griesemer was found guilty of attempted sex trafficking of a minor and…faces up to life in prison…he sent a text message to a female acquaintance indicating he was looking for a minor child.  The woman contacted…police who…[called] the U.S. Secret Service…

Another Fine Mess

More about the long pre-internet history of sex work advertising:

…There is no question that online advertising has transformed the sex industry, but in fact, ads for sexual services are far from endangeredWhile most sex workers are online…many also use free dailies and weeklies to reach markets that aren’t as amenable to the Internet…online ad sites [are also more] vulnerable to government shutdowns…and…clients who are wary of online transactions are liable to see escorts with print ads as less likely to cheat or scam them…

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O sweet and noble lad, be not aggrieved!
Pray, lift thyself from off the cursed ground!
Thy travels long have left thee most deceived;
there is a sanctuary to be found.
 –  Pop Sonnets, “YMCA”

Police militarization has finally entered the sleepy consciousness of mainstream America due to the Ferguson, Missouri protests, but of course libertarians have been talking about it for decades; nobody has talked about it more, nor more eloquently, than Radley Balko.  Today’s first video is from a tiny town in Georgia and was, until Radley called attention to it, posted on the front page of the official police website; it’s a short, disturbing look at the modern police mindset and the image they want to project to the public.  Radley also provided the links above it.  The second video is a satire of out-of-control “sex offender” laws contributed by Robert King, and the links between the videos are from Scott Greenfield (“enough”), Michael Whiteacre (“RIP” and “hobby”), Rick Horowitz   (“koinkydink”),  Mark Draughn (“perspective”), Saladin Ahmed (“sonnets”),  Clarkhat (“Vikings”),  Lenore Skenazy (“farmers”), Popehat (“never call”), and Cop Block (“seriously”).

From the Archives

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To seek in the bright sky a place for freedom and unrestraint.  –  Liu Rushi, “On the Kite”

The gender roles of traditional Asian cultures were even more rigid and uncompromising than those of contemporary European cultures, but harlots have always stood outside of the limits their societies set for “good” women.  Where “good” women were expected to be chaste, whores were promiscuous; where “good” women were expected to be meek, whores were bold; where “good” women were expected to be ignorant, whores were well-educated; where “good” women were supposed to be submissive, whores accepted or rejected clients as we pleased; and where “good” women were prisoners of convention, whores flouted it.  And despite the feminist claims that men prefer women as ovine as possible, and that the patriarchal system is set up for men’s benefit at women’s expense, yet men have throughout history sought out the company of (and paid high prices for) women who were not only their equals, but often their superiors.  Like other courtesans, Liu Rushi ignored the rules her society set for “good” women, but unlike others she often ignored the rules it set for any women.

Liu RushiYang Ai was born in 1618 to a poor family of Zhejiang province, but her exceptional looks and intelligence allowed her family to sell her at the age of eight to the courtesan Xu Fo for training in the profession.  She learned so well that Xu was able to place her as a concubine to the prime minister, Zhou Daodeng, soon after she turned thirteen; however, Zhou died a year later and his widow threw her out of the household.  She sought out the famous poet Chen Zilong, whom she had met at Zhou’s house a few months before; he took her in as a concubine and the two fell in love and exchanged many poems.  Unfortunately, Madame Chen was just as jealous of her as Madame Zhou had been; when Chen went to take the Imperial Examination in 1635, she abused the poor girl so terribly that she fled back to Xu Fo, who now owned a brothel.  When Xu married in 1638, Yang Yin (as she now called herself) took over the management; she was already famous as a poet and painter by this time, and published three collections of poetry between 1638 and 1640.  But though she was doing well financially, she craved the stability of marriage; when a regular client named Song Yuanwen kept promising to marry her but never followed through, she is said to have thrown him out in a violent tantrum.

It was during her time as a madam that her androgyny began to assert itself; though her romantic poems were conventionally feminine, she also wrote in a masculine, “heroic” style and often left the narrator’s gender ambiguous.  In letters she favored gender-neutral terms for herself, and her calligraphy is distinctly masculine, using the “wild grass” style.  Her gender-bending behavior reached its zenith in 1640, when she decided to marry the famous scholar and poet Qian Qianyi.  She travelled to his home in her boat, dressed in men’s clothing, and asked Qian to give her his opinion on one of her poems.  He told her the poem was excellent and asked to see more, but before she left she made sure she let him see the small (bound) feet which left no doubt as to her sex even if he had been fooled at first.  The combination of her writing and her intriguing behavior captured his attention, and they were married in 1641.  Though she was only his concubine, they had a formal ceremony and he treated her as though she were a full wife, despite this being considered improper.  He gave her the nickname Hedong, which she often used in her writing thereafter; it was one of about twenty different names she used at different times and for different purposes.  The name by which she is best known, Liu Rushi, came from her continuing habit of cross-dressing; she would sometimes go on errands as her husband’s representative while dressed in his formal Confucian robes, for which people nicknamed her “rushi” (“gentleman”).

Rushi had finally found the stability she sought, but it was not to last long.  The Ming Dynasty her husband served collapsed in 1645, and she had become so deeply patriotic by that time she actually tried to persuade him to martyr himself by committing suicide; instead, he surrendered, served as an official to the new Qing regime for five months, then quit and joined the resistance.  Liu Rushi joined him and the two were active in the movement for over a decade thereafter; much of Qian’s poetry from the 1650s depicts her as a courageous Ming loyalist.  But in 1663, her life started to spin out of control.  First, the Qing finally crushed the last Ming resistance, burning her husband’s enormous library in the process; she was so aggrieved she took Buddhist vows.  Qian’s spirit was broken, and he died the following year; his creditors and enemies then began to hound Liu Rushi for money.  Alone again for the first time in decades, too old (at 46) to return to her former profession and deeply bereaved by the loss of both beloved husband and beloved cause, she was pushed over the edge by the legal persecution and hanged herself in 1664.  But though her life ended in despair and tragedy, her own poetry and that of her husband had already made her a legend; the historian Chen Yinke’s said she “embodies the independence of spirit and freedom of thought of our people”, and others have called her “the most respectable prostitute in Chinese history”.

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MEDION DIGITAL CAMERAOn Saturday, August 2nd I drove into the Boston area; hotels in the city itself were so outrageously expensive that I actually stayed a little west of Framingham and, other than on Monday, restricted myself to that area.  Everyone I talked to warned me that the traffic going into Boston would be bad even if I were going in the opposite direction of the commute, so on Monday morning I decided to drive up to Salem for the afternoon and then go into the city from there.  My motive was twofold:  first, the suburbs to the north of Boston are largely residential, so I figured the traffic wouldn’t be as bad inbound from that direction; second, it seemed a shame to come so close to the site of the definitive American witch hunt without visiting it.  Of course, it was very touristy, but that really didn’t bother me; in some ways it reminded me of the French Quarter in New Orleans (another mixture of serious history and tourist traps).  My plan was a success; it took me only half an hour to reach the neighborhood of my speaking venue from Salem, and had I not blundered into a traffic jam by taking the wrong exit I would’ve been an hour earlier than I had planned to be.  Even with the error I arrived an hour before showtime, found a parking place literally across the street and thus had plenty of time to prepare.  The presentation went extremely well; I think it was among the best yet, and the bartender (who had no idea who I was before I got up to speak) was so engaged by the discussion that he bought a book and asked about my website!

Since I had nothing in particular planned for Tuesday, I took that night’s hotel in Providence, Rhode Island and went on a walking tour of H.P. Lovecraft sites on College Hill (yes, this is my idea of fun; you may laugh if you like).  I then checked into my hotel and ate dinner at a little mom-and-pop counter-serve restaurant called Cosmic Pizza and Steak, which I discovered quite by accident.  I’m very glad I did; the prices were very reasonable, the portions large (and delicious) and the people were extremely friendly and welcoming.  The next day I drove over to Hartford, Connecticut, where I planned my approach to New York and had dinner with the blawger known as Gideon.  He and several others suggested I park outside the city and take a train in, and a little research showed me the ideal spot was Metropark in Iselin, New Jersey, which cost me only $9 a day and $20 round trip for the train (and best of all, was on the way to my next stop in Philadelphia).

Manhattan subwaysSome of you may be surprised to hear that this was actually my first trip on a full-scale train; there are no commuter trains in Louisiana, and I’ve never taken a trip on a long-distance passenger train, either.  But that situation was corrected while I was in the city, because I took subways every place I had to go unless it was close enough to walk.  One of Tracy Quan’s friends was kind enough to offer a spare room just off Broadway, and when I went to dinner with Tracy and Melissa Ditmore on Friday evening I decided to walk to the restaurant; it was a lovely day and Manhattan is pretty narrow, so it only took me an hour to get there.  On Saturday I read to a packed house at Bluestockings Books on the lower east side, and answered questions for hours; afterward, I went out with regular reader Susan and another reader who prefers to remain incognito, and didn’t get to bed until almost 3 AM.  Finally, on Sunday I spoke to a group of woman journalists at the home of Jillian Keenan; Tracy was there as well, and with her help I discussed the general awfulness of reporting on the topic of sex work.

I don’t mind admitting that I was very intimidated by New York; I was worried about its size, its population density and its expense.  But a little careful planning and a lot of help from good people negated most of the real issues, and as so often happens the others faded into insignificance once I got to experience the reality rather than focusing on my own preconceptions.  Now that I’m past the most expensive part of the tour I can breathe a bit more easily; however, I still haven’t quite reached my funding goal yet so if you haven’t yet contributed, please consider doing so this week!

Here’s my tour schedule, which is now pretty tight; if your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within a few hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have much more impact if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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There may be people who like centipedes.  I have seen people handling tarantulas and scorpions, but never a centipede handler.  Personally, I would regard such an individual with deep suspicion…If such a man exists, I say kill him without more ado.  He is a traitor to the human race.  –  William S. Burroughs

The first video this week was contributed by Angela Keaton; it’s really the only important comment on Arab-Israeli hostilities you’ll ever need.  The second video, and the links above the first, were provided by Jesse Walker, and the links between the videos by Korhomme (“buttocks”), Dave Barry (“recipe”),  Saladin Ahmed  (“Venn”), Michael Whiteacre (“accident”), Grace (“Nazca” and “dog”), Radley Balko  (“satire” and “ticket”), Luscious Lani (“employee”), Cop Block (“police state”), Nun Ya (“rescue”), and Police Misconduct (“medal”).

From the Archives

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