Sleeping With Your Hairdresser
The Cagney & Lacey of newsletters returns with true crime, trippy tales, and an ode to the Worm.
Alriiight, alriiight, alriiight. When we first heard that Matthew McConaughey had formally announced he will not be the savior of the currently not-so-great state of Texas, our first thought was: Seriously? That gubernatorial run was, at some point, close to being an actual thing? (Are we the only ones who remember the bongo drums and the fire circles?) Our second thought was: Fuuuudge. We’re Team Beto all the way but in these no-sense-making times, we worry that the only way to stop power-mad Greg Abbott from taking the state back to 1850 is something like a McConaughey triple threat: Sheer star power; ringletted, golden-chested beauty; and what the man himself describes as his “folksy and philosopher-poet statesman” vibe. Forget policy: What Texas needs is a Billion-Dollar Hollywood Man-Brand! Our third thought: Back to bed, immediately.
But then we remembered that this, friends, is a day. At 8:15 a.m., rallies kicked off outside of the Supreme Court in D.C. And at 10 a.m.—the moment this missive lands in your mailbox—opening arguments begin for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that will decide the future of reproductive rights in our country. Livestream it here. And stay strong: We need every ounce of spiritual ammunition for this one.
Goddess bless America,
Rachel & Maggie
PS: The Spread Awards noms are open for business through December 16. Weigh in while the gettin’s good!
A different kind of multi-hyphenate.
Christina Ricci has been top of mind lately, between my movies newsletter (tween Ricci was in a shocking number of ’90s family films, plus The Ice Storm) and her baby-bumpin’ press tour for Showtime’s new freaky-good series Yellowjackets: Ricci, love of my life Melanie Lynskey, and Juliette Lewis play grownup versions of high school soccer players who were once lost together, deep in the frigid forest of nowhere, for 18 months…and did the unspeakable in order to survive! (Ricci’s performance is strong; her wig, not so much.) Then, last week, boomshakalaka: Ricci became the face—and bod—of Marc Jacobs’s new fragrance campaign, showing off her round yon shape in ’60s-inspired styling that would make her Now & Then character, Roberta, proud. It’s all pretty groovy. But one detail in Riccipalooza, I cannot get over: Her new husband is Mark Hampton—a celebrity hairdresser!
Why does this excite me so? As someone with a complex relationship with her own hair, I’ve long had codependent relationships with my hairstylists (Jeffrey in Boston, Greg in New York, now Ashley in Charlottesville—thank you for all you’ve given me) and have also been accused, somewhat frequently, of having a codependent relationship with my husband, James. (I try not to let him see me with wet hair: Some boundaries must be upheld, even many years into marriage!) So the idea of having a husband who is also one’s hairstylist—or even just a hairstylist—makes my head explode. The intimacy! The boundary questions! The convenience! Attention TV producers: This is a setup for a show I’d watch.—Rachel
Rachel, As you well know, this thing with you and James and your wet hair has been a mystery to me for the entire decade-ish of our friendship, and has only intensified in the era of your work-from-home Covidtimes new motherhood. I’ve asked you before, and I’ll ask you again: What about beach vacations? Unexpected rain? Um, showers! And don’t you have a...pool?—Maggie
Maggie, Like all relationships, keeping my mane dry in front of my man requires hard work. It doesn’t hurt that I only wash my hair once a week.—Rachel
The long strange trip I never took.
For years, at dinner parties, I loved nothing more than to swish that last sip of Syrah around my wine glass and proclaim, to whomever was still listening, my willingness to dabble in hallucinogens—and then to go home and do nothing of the sort. I wasn’t (entirely) posturing: It’s true that I want to shake loose, shed my inhibitions, blow the cobwebs out of my subconscious, clear the decks for a burst of clarity and/or creativity. Mostly, I want to rewind back to a me who wasn’t deadline-strapped, cash-anxious, and in physical therapy for a rotator cuff injury caused by...excessive laptop use. A me who was, if memory serves, fun, funny. Breezy. And for a long time I’ve suspected that maybe drugs could help! But I’m also chickenshit. And I’m pretty sure that after “Power Trip,” the first season of New York magazine’s new investigative pod, Cover Story, I’ll be a psychedelics teetotaler for life. Produced under the aegis of Hanna Rosin, the ex-Slate, ex-Atlantic, ex-NPR End of Men author who last year was named New York’s first editorial director of audio (hot title alert!), the show examines the flip side of all the happy reports of microdosing breakthroughs, revealing a seamy underbelly of psychedelic therapy that takes place in a land far from Goop-sanctioned first class shroom trips.—Maggie
Find “I See a Shitshow: Inside the World of Psychedelic Therapy” here.
We’ll drink to this.
“Shame is heavier than a hundred bags of salt.”—Edwidge Danticat
In Harper’s, author Naomi Jackson (The Star Side of Bird Hill) paints a soul-shaking portrait of three generations of mental illness: Jackson’s Barbadian grandmother, her immigrant mother, and centrally, herself. Over 5,600 words, Jackson courageously lays bare her heartbreaking, sometimes surreal, psychiatric journey as she spirals and rebuilds and waits for the next nosedive. This is as carefully constructed and gripping a personal essay as you’ll find, with the startlingly self-aware Jackson examining the reverberations of her condition from every angle and also creating a searing sense of place (the South Bronx, Harlem, downtown Brooklyn) along the way. The writing is, as the kids say, one-hundred-percent. Take this bit: “The vestiges of an insidious self-doubt remain—the inability to fully trust my instincts and decisions; a constant wonderment about whether what I want is what is good for me; a persistent, draining interrogation of the lines between my highest self and my illness.”—Rachel
Read “Her Kind” here.
The scariest girl in Soho.
Nothing makes me feel older or less cool than when the Red Scare podcast comes up in conversation. (I will forever applaud journalist Noreen Malone, who is roughly my age, for valiantly entering the Red zone for New York in 2018 to explain the whole phenomenon to grolds1 like us; if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read Noreen’s story and circle back.) But try as I might to ignore the existence of that pod and its scary, dirtbag lefty Russian hosts altogether, one Dasha Nekrasova has recently started haunting my every Sunday night as Kendall Roy’s PR girl Comfry on Succession. Thankfully, the Cut’s Brock Colyar, who cranks out the fizzy nightlife newsletter “are u coming?” about the after-dark exploits of people much younger than me, walks straight up to Nekrasova to unpack this whole actress chapter—which also turns out to be an Epstein-horror-filmmaker chapter—for New York’s latest issue… and Dasha is even Minsk-temps cold to younger-than-thou Brock! I feel 23 again?—Rachel
Rachel, Everything about this terrifies me. You know this, yet you brought it here, into our happy place. I read it as a kind of exposure therapy: We must face our fears, even if we are on the cusp of Gen X, beginning to select furniture based on ergonomics rather than aesthetics, and therefore two full generations past understanding the meaning of either Dasha or the horrible girls on White Lotus, who were supposedly modeled on her...gestalt (which, far as I can tell, is just a potent cocktail of venom and ennui)2. If you really want to feel 23 again—or just need to just to soothe your nerves with a nice hot cuppa after this Dasha run-in/hit-and-run—I suggest some quality time with the life and oeuvre of that late, great friend-of-Meryl, Stephen Sondheim. You could just binge West Side Story and Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods, or read Mark Harris’s sweeping, excellent ode to Sondheim’s influence in Vulture. But I prefer to digest most cultural moments via personal essay, and in this one—penned fast and furious after Sondheim’s passing—Helena Fitzgerald, whose parents raised her on Sondheim, mourns the artist and explores an “overly personal” connection to his work.—Maggie
“Every single thing I’ve ever done or made is to some degree stolen from him. He taught me how the difference between one syllable and two can be the difference between grief the day after a loss and grief a year after it. His work showed me that puzzle-box virtuosity and formal experimentation are not at odds with raw, sweeping emotion, but are rather often the only containers that can hold it. I learned from his songs the power of a list when it builds and builds and builds, and how the shock of memory can be reproduced in the juxtaposition of a series of long lines with a sudden short one.”
Read “Who’s Afraid of Dasha Nekrasova? here.
Read Griefbacon here.
Everybody but Gwyneth was there.
What do you wear to a star-studded L.A. house party for a Brown-educated cognitive neuroscientist who claims to channel Jesus Christ or, as she calls him, Yeshua? This would have been a paralyzing question for me; it’s probably for the best that my invite got lost in the mail. Judging by the photos accompanying Irina Aleksander’s piece on Carissa Schumacher from this past weekend’s New York Times Sunday Styles, the answer is appropriately choose-your-own-adventure: Maybe you go with a bias-cut sliver of champagne-colored satin and a bold red lip. Maybe you’re more a leggings-and-boots type of believer (plus the kind of broad-brimmed fedora only Hollywood types keep on indoors—or, really, own in the first place.) What is it with famous people? So persnickety about their privacy, but when it comes to wackadoo spiritual practices, they really let it all hang out, don’t they? The ever wry and keenly observant Aleksander rubbed elbows with la Aniston (a devotee of Schumacher for years), Uma, Rooney, and Andie (who looks pleasingly like a mystic herself these days, no?) but also injected into this piece some history of the celebrity “medium” and Schumacher’s own surprising bio—all of which, IMHO, makes for a sort of ur-Styles story, the kind this section was put on earth to publish.—Maggie
Read “In Good Spirits” here.
The Menace at 60
Somehow, GQ’s Men of the Year franchise keeps on chuggin’, and this time around it has given us an excuse to talk about Dennis Rodman. For that I am grateful. (I’m also just a liiiiiittle salty that I wasn’t asked to profile the Worm—though I concede that Mychal Denzel Smith, who has written an actual book about Black manhood and has been called “the intellectual in Air Jordans” by the New York Times, was a more obvious choice.) Rodman’s camp seemingly agreed to the piece, which takes place at a bumpin’ South Florida club (night not country), in order to plug “ManTFup” male supplements3, though mercifully Smith only spends a paragraph or so on the endorsement. The treat here is a vicarious up-close with Rodman—the basketball icon the world was sure would die young—as he enters his seventh decade. The greatest rebounder of all time still stays out late, still grumble-mumbles, still dresses cuh-ray-zay, still hits up gay bars. MDS checks all the bio boxes, too. But I didn’t cry—stick with me!—until I finished reading and spent a few minutes reflecting on Rodman: At 60, a forever man-child, indeterminably rocked by his deep childhood trauma; a ferocious team player conjured from his own inner hunger and the love of a few kismet-assigned coaches and teammates; a flamboyant gender-flouter and fashion plate thirty years ahead of the curve; a flash-in-the-pan spouse of Carmen Electra. For all of these reasons—not to mention because he was Black, though that was more often coded as his “bad attitude”—Rodman was considered the devil where I grew up in Mississippi, which made me, a too-large, too-loud (blonde) eighth-grade post player whose only skill was using my size and aggression to rebound, love this character all the more. If you haven’t already, I implore you to watch the Rodman episode of last year’s Michael Jordan hagiography The Last Dance and also ESPN’s 30 for 30 episode on him, “Rodman: For Better or Worse,” in honor of our man’s big 6-0.—Rachel
Read “Dennis Rodman, Badboy for Life” in GQ here.
Watch “Episode III” on Netflix here.
Rent “Rodman: For Better or Worse” here.
RIP Virgil Abloh.
And finally…If there was one piece of good news last week, it was the conviction of the three killers of Ahmaud Arbery. We invite anyone who hasn’t already—and even those who already have—to spend some time with Mitchell S. Jackson’s remarkable 2020 story in Runner’s World, which both brings Arbery, the person, into focus, and also breaks his fateful final run down into 12 excruciating minutes. It deservedly took home a 2021 Pulitzer and the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.
Read “Twelve Minutes and a Life” here.
The Short Stack, aka, wait…there’s more!
Bougie v. Bougie: Peloton hauls Lululemon into court. (The Fashion Law) // How Natasha Rothwell (aka Kelli on Insecure) leapt from writer’s room to screen. (Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times) // Pulchritudinous camels! (New York Times) // Our best junior-high friends Anna and Maya are famous. (Rachel Syme, New Yorker) // A timeline of Spread booboo Tiffany Haddish’s ill-fated relationship with Common. (Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence) // Cool life: Writer/lingerie designer/actor/redhead Arlene Dahl dies at 96. (Mike Barnes and Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter) // If you missed Aimee Mann getting share-y with Atul Gawande at the New Yorker Festival. (New Yorker) // This woman is taking on Facebook, Google, Apple, Pinterest—all of ’em! (Erin Woo, New York Times)
Grold = gross + old.
No, I will not link to the site.