Category Archives: New York

New Year, New Blood.

Tonight, the amazing Chris Bobel is reading from New Blood,  her book about 3rd wave feminism and menstrual activism, at Bluestockings Books in NYC! The event details are here.  If you can possibly get yourself there, I highly recommend it. I was one of the people she interviewed for the book, and she’s a funny, inspiring writer and researcher with some amazing insights.

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Stranded

“If there’s one thing my ol’ ma taught me, it’s that when life gives you volcanoes, make magazines.” -Andrew Losowsky.

So, as our families, most of our friends, and quite a few of our fans already know, Sarah and I were stranded by the ash cloud during what I have taken to calling ‘The Bad, Bad Volcano Time’ (which my mate Bruce originally thought was a menstrual euphemism). We spent an extra eight days in New York with little cash and diminishing good will radiating from my rather put-upon but extremely understanding family. 

My friend Parker looked after us – took us to karaoke bars, talked Doctor Who, watched the Barcelona match with us – and told us about this call for contributors to this magazine he’d heard about. You had to be a strandee to be involved, and the also-stranded editor, Andrew Losowsky, gave out real assignments suited to each writer or artist. It was great – it gave us something to do while we were on hold. The magazine’s out now – a very cool one-shot edition that we hope will never need to have a sequel.  We’re big fans of physics, though, and you never know what’s around the tectonic corner, so please don’t quote us on that.

We can vouch for the total awesomeness of Stranded Magazine, however.  It’s got an amazing layout, beautiful graphics, and talented contributors. If not for the volcano, we’d never have gotten to work with them, and we’re indebted to Andrew for having the idea in the first place, followed by the wherewithal to complete the project. Among lots of other stuff, Stranded contains an article about karaoke from me, cocktails Sarah and I invented on a volcanic theme (complete with paper airplane), and you even get to see a photo of my childhood bedroom and the massive mural my dad painted on my wall when I was five. 

It’s printed by magcloud, which is a print-on-demand service, it’s also got a zillion pages (official count), and $5 of each purchase goes to a refugee charity. That makes it pretty expensive,  particularly to us zine types who tend to spend £3 or less on self-published type things, but here’s why you should still get it:

It’s a very cool piece of recent history – it puts the art in artefact. Think of it as the coffee table book of the magazine world. It will last ages as long as you don’t read it in the bath or turn the pages with buttery and toast crumby fingers at the breakfast table. It’s a lot cheaper-sounding once you convert the price into pounds sterling. There are no profits – that’s literally the cost of production plus $5 to charity. And finally, you’ll have something to read in case you ever find yourself stranded.

You can order it here.

-Chella

Gigs!

Adventures in Menstruating #5: Here’s the Science Bit

7 pm Sunday April 11, 2010, FREE (donations to Bluestockings always welcome)

Bluestockings Books

Join us for our fifth annual Bluestockings foray into feminine hygiene fact and fiction. In performance lecture style (with slides and everything) we will theorise, analyse, and criticise the latest trends in the feminine hygiene industry armed only with white coats, clipboards and acerbic wit.

Expect this event to be well attended by The Menstruati.

As always, this performance is for menstruators and non-menstruators of all genders.

Oh yeah – no blue liquid – we promise. (What the heck IS that stuff, anyway?)

xChella

New Year, New Zine, New Distro…

Everything’s just new, new, new, I think. Except for the snow. That’s getting a little old, actually, even the new snow. Bleurgh. All our travel – local and international – has been messed up. Even walking to the shop. My fleece-lined wellies have seen far more action than my t-strap maryjanes in recent weeks, and I’m cross.

EXCEPT that everything else is NEW NEW NEW. I have to keep reminding myself (and you should too) that even though the weather is being pre-post-apocalyptic, there are some cool things afoot.

The new zine issue is out, and the New Yorkers liked it. Now, I’m sorry, England. You may say that people from the US have no irony, but you clearly have not spent enough time in NYC.  The Lower East Side could kick your ass with irony, and they liked the zine. So I stand by ‘the New Yorkers liked it’.  

The first distro to carry it (because there was no postal system or blizzard involved) is our good friend Erin’s new distro, Things You Say

The name’s from a Sleater-Kinney song, but also, handily, refers to the communicatey-ness (real word) of zines. Erin’s working on a new zine, and her blog, Bi-Coastal Gimps, is in the blogroll to your right, and you can read our zines blurbs on her catalogue page. Erin is also slightly addicted to Sarah’s cookies, which we discovered when we visited her over Christmas, and knows a Chinese restaurant where you can do your ordering like it’s an online catalogue. It was amazing.

We’ll post some pictures from our trip up on the facebook fanpage later in the week. You can become a fan by clicking that link on the right over there. Unless you’re reading this on your phone, in which case you’ll have to type ‘Adventures in Menstruating’ into the facebook search bar. Wow, I feel like one of those people in an infomertial or on Blues Clues where I’m referring to things on a screen that I know you know I really can’t see right now.

Stay tuned for more about our New York trip, some new work of ours, more details about upcoming events, and some new Second Place Awards we’re happy to bestow.

Happy New Year!

Chella

All I Want for Christmas: A twelve-day-long short story!

Hey guys – check this out if you dig old school kids’ books – I wrote it as part of my ‘putting periods back into pop culture’ series. It’s kind of a Judy Blume/Beverly Cleary/Paula Danziger/Lois Lowry homage, and it’s set in the 80s because this story didn’t happen to me, but it could have.

Please forward this link to anyone you think might be interested in reading it or showing it to their school-age kids, and check back here each day for the next part of the story.

All I Want for Christmas

Jodie’s more interested in the next snow day than she is about getting ready for middle school.   So when she writes ‘getting my period’ on her Christmas list, all heck breaks loose in her fifth grade classroom.  She’s growing up, she’s not sure she’s gonna like it, but she’s certainly willing to talk about it, no matter what.

Follow Jodie’s adventures over the next twelve days in “All I Want for Christmas”, a short story by Chella Quint.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy this quirky homage to YA fiction of yore. Check back here for each of twelve daily instalments.

Hope you guys like it.

Oh yeah – we’ll be reading extracts from Adventures in Menstruating #5 at Bluestockings Radical Books at 7pm on Tuesday, December 29th at the at the Women’s/Trans’ Poetry Jam and Open Mike.

Bluestockings is located at 172 Allen St., New York, NY 10012.

-Chella

Going with the Flow.

Welcome to my hundredth post! Not a lot for some, but plenty for me, and more to come. This review is primarily for people who already know our zine and our comedy, but welcome, Flow fans! Please check out the rest of the site for more period-related shenanigans.

Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation
By Elissa Stein and Susan Kim
St. Martin’s Press 2009

As we’ve seen on many occasions, stuff about menstruation can cause people to have quite a visceral reaction. Believe it or not, this happened to me with Flow, but it wasn’t in the style of the Bledbook scandal; it was envy. I wished I’d written this book.

It actually feels like it should be a zine. It’s very 50s kitsch, with a collage-reminiscent cover and retro font. A quick flick through reveals a heavily image-laden layout with vintage ads as a theme. It takes a very pro-feminist stance on periods. There are even some Etsy-style craft finds toward the back. But there’s one major difference – it’s huge, it’s hardcover, and it goes for $29.99.

The production values are outstanding – it’s stitched and bound, its cover is satiny smooth with a glossy, embossed feel to the images, and the flyleaf and endpapers are a vivid red. There is no pussyfooting around here – this book is about blood. Every page is illustrated and laid out magazine-style with subheadings, call-outs, and a red dot motif that is pleasing and consistent. It’s very designy, and I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that co-author Elissa Stein’s background is actually in graphic design.

It was really exciting holding a heavy, shiny book on the history of periods that was put out by a mainstream publisher. St. Martin’s Press was kind enough to send me a review copy. For the first day I had it, I just stroked the cover and flicked through it, admiring what professional publishing could do. I don’t mean to come over all publisher porn, but it seems pretty lush having the backing to print the old ads in high resolution and pay for all the rights to the images. This is not an average-looking book by any means – the money was well spent and the result is gorgeous. In the Flow universe, periods are glamorous.

Enough about style and on to substance – the tone of the book is very American, and, particularly, very New York. It’s jokey, with healthy levels of crude and rude. There is, though, a sensitive and thorough chapter about medical issues, and a quite frank one about how periods and religion (usually) don’t mix. Flow also includes an overview of menstruation in recorded history, a handy timeline, and the science bit.  I was quite surprised to read that Pliny the Elder thought menstruating women killed bees. That Pliny. What a loon. (Worries about current lack of bees worldwide…nah…) Most readers will find out stuff that’s quite shocking and definitely interesting. With stand-alone chapters and lots of facts, this would make a good bathroom or coffee table book that people can dip in and out of.

I have to admit I felt some déjà vu when reading the chapters about the history of feminine hygiene advertising, and my regular readers will as well. Spookily, it seems that when you give the same ads to New York Jews with high bullshit detectors and an eye for interpreting visual symbolism and subtext, their responses will be pretty similar. In fact, when Elissa Stein (who wrote that section) read my zines she and her family loved them. Elissa and I have exchanged several emails since the book came out, and it’s refreshing to have found another pro-period writer who’s on the same page as I am. I’d love to collaborate with her some time and I’m happy to call her a bloodsister.

If Flow had a manifesto based on a summary of the opinions expressed in the book, it would be largely pro-period-sex, anti-menstrual suppression, anti-femcare industry, anti-big pharmaceuticals, pro-masturbation, pro-sex worker…ideologically, it ticks all my box-related boxes. It even manages to be non-heterosexist in its language, showing that Elissa Stein and Susan Kim are straight but not narrow. Interestingly, they’re anti-euphemism, whereas I’ve said before on the blog that I’m ready to reclaim euphemisms and coin ‘newphemisms’ the way you’d give your best friend a nickname, rather than using them to keep periods hush-hush. Flow’s writers also support radical responses to menstruation, but ask why talking about menstruation is still a radical act. Their book helps bring period talk into the mainstream, without compromising beliefs and opinions that many would also consider radical.

Flow is a good primer. It sums up the whole shebang, it’s easy to read, looks good, and will catch the attention of people who’ve never really thought about these issues before. It arms armchair activists with rebuttals for less period-positive friends and relatives and helps deal with that other kind of visceral response. If you already have no qualms about the topic, you’ll find Flow (and its extensive bibliography) a refreshing jumping-off point for art, discussions, research and essays.

About the price tag – don’t let that put you off if you’re used to buying or trading zines. Wait for a sale or request it from your local library. But remember that it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of all those disposables…

This is one ‘feminine hygiene product’ you definitely won’t be throwing away.

Chella Quint

NYC – Bluestockings reading tonight!

So we’re doing a reading at 7 pm at a great venue on the lower east side where we’ve read twice before and been made to feel really welcome. Directions/info available here.

We’ve practically been in a different state for every day of our visit – four in one day on Tuesday…hoping to see some familiar faces at the show!

Oh yeah – check out the menopause episode of That 70s Show – it rocks.

Chella