Artist Spotlight: Isis Nicole Magazine!

The Isis Nicole Magazine (or IN Magazine for short, named after its founder) is unabashedly colorful, vibrant and glittery, often spotlighting women of color: think Tumblr come to life. The Chicago-based publication is the perfect blend of traditional print media and Internet age fervor. Isis and the other half of the magazine, Hannah Black, are not only creative partners but real life gal pals who always make sure to Snapchat each other about their days. The two tell ACRO what IN Magazine is all about and how they balance work and fun.

by B.C.

The Isis Nicole Magazine (or IN Magazine for short, named after its founder) is unabashedly colorful, vibrant and glittery, often spotlighting women of color: think Tumblr come to life. The Chicago-based publication is the perfect blend of traditional print media and Internet age fervor. Isis and the other half of the magazine, Hannah Black, are not only creative partners but real life gal pals who always make sure to Snapchat each other about their days. The two tell ACRO what IN Magazine is all about and how they balance work and fun: Continue reading “Artist Spotlight: Isis Nicole Magazine!”

Weekly Dance Break: All We Got (Isidro Rafael x Chance the Rapper)

 

This is my ultimate summer vibe: friends, dance, Chance the Rapper. What more could you want?

Artist Spotlight: Leggy

By B.C.

Leggy is a dreamy surf rock/lush punk trio from Cincinnati, Ohio, all about friendship, chill vibes and inclusive ‘posi’ rock ‘n’ roll with a little party sprinkled in. They are currently on tour in the UK with legendary all-female Japanese pop punk group Shonen Knife, whose 90s alt prowess is in the same ranks as Nirvana, The Ramones and Sonic Youth. Leggy is on the rise too, having been featured in publications such as Noisey and Stereogum, and quickly gaining a fan base far beyond its home circles. We spoke with the members while they are on tour: Continue reading “Artist Spotlight: Leggy”

Assemble the #GirlSquad: Finding My New Best Friend on BumbleBFF

tldr; I tried online friend-dating so you don’t have to.

A good friend of mine says she wishes her early and mid-20s would come with a guidebook, like those pamphlets on puberty from grade school. There are just things we don’t know to expect, despite our generally good educations and common sense. Examples?

Here are some weird things your not-yet-old, not-quite-young body will start doing. Ten things besides taxes you don’t yet know how to do, but should.

After I uprooted my life and moved to a new city with my boyfriend, I added something else to her list: it’s really f*cking hard to make adult friends.

To paraphrase the ladies of Another Round, it’s weird to try finding adult female friends if you don’t have a good reason. You can’t just lean over to that cool-looking lady on the bus and be like, hey bus friend. You wanna go to the movies sometime?

A good friend of mine says she wishes her early and mid-20s would come with a guidebook, like those pamphlets on puberty from grade school. There are things we don’t know to expect, despite our generally good educations and common sense. Examples? Here are some weird things your not-yet-old, not-quite-young body will start doing. Ten things besides taxes you don’t yet know how to do, but should. After I uprooted my life and moved to a new city with my boyfriend, I added something else to her list: it’s really f*cking hard to make adult friends. 

I don’t mean friendly acquaintances, like that girl you always see at the gym and often chat with. I don’t even mean surface friends, the ones you see once a month for drinks and some pleasant small-talk. I’m talking the dream of female friendship that, lately, has blossomed beautifully in our pop culture: the Broad City love, the tight-knit ride-or-die crew. The women whose lives are woven together deeply through late night giggle sessions, daily commiserating over nothing at all, and deep existential talks while drunk.

broad city
TV’s weirdest and best female friendship

To be clear, not everyone wants or needs this level of female friendship. Plenty of people do well without. But it was certainly something of a lonely shock for me to be plunged from many years of effortless community building (through school), into a work-from-home situation where I trudged from coffeeshop to coffeeshop and wasted time in insipid MeetUps. I still had the friends I had relied on to keep me sane throughout school, and I still loved them as much as ever. But there’s a difference between even the most fulfilling GroupMe chat, and the reassuring feeling of having a friend in the same city who can run over at a moment’s notice. I had been confident that I could build a strong friendship network in my new city. After all, I had met *soulmates* in unlikely places. I had made friends even under the crushing pressure of a graduate school program I grew to deeply resent. I had never failed to make connections before—and now I would have all this “free” time. I could be flexible! Instead, I found myself split between my new city and my yearning for my friends in other places. I traveled a lot of weekends, dropping in for an intense bout of fun and emotional connection before returning to my lonely weekdays of work. Without the support of a structure, like school or a workplace, I found myself floundering. To paraphrase the ladies of Another Round, it’s weird to try finding adult female friends if you don’t have a good reason. You can’t just lean over to that cool-looking lady on the bus and be like, hey bus friend. You wanna go to the movies sometime?


 

In the corner of the internet where my online friends live  (a secret facebook group that doubles as constant sleepover/oversharing extravaganza), a woman mentioned a new resource that I had been waiting for without realizing it: BumbleBFF. You may know of Bumble, the dating app that requires women to make the first move when meeting men. BFF is a new feature in this app, which lets you create a profile and swipe on potential female friends like you would in a dating app.

Once you download Bumble (or set it to the BFF option), you create a profile by linking your facebook, much like tinder. You write a blurb about yourself, which is one of the hardest and most awkward kinds of writing that exists. You can also play around with your photos by deleting, rearranging, or adding new ones from your camera roll. Crowdsourced word of advice: pictures of pets? Good convo starter. Five bathroom selfies from slightly different angles? Not so much.

 

Many of the women using the app referenced well-known TV friendships in their blurbs, noting that they aspired to find their beautiful-tropical-fish-Ann-Perkins, or that they were looking for the “Tina Fey to my Amy Poehler.” I must have seen that line about Tina and Amy at least ten times. Are women more conscious of the expectation that they have a #squad? Probably. TV has perhaps fueled the desire for this kind of friendship—which is not a bad thing in itself. Many, many of the women on this app were also quick to note that they were on BumbleBFF because they were new to the city, or were looking to expand their social circles beyond work and their boyfriends. I’m normal, I promise!
It’s weird in some ways and not others, of course. It makes perfect sense, in this moment, to try and make friends the same way we do so much else: through an app. What’s weird is the slight mismatch between this interface and its purpose. When you swipe, you decide based on a picture and a blurb…but a lot of women don’t fill out the blurb, or list only a series of cryptic emoji (burrito, wine glass, twin bunny girls dancing). It’s pretty visual, and that’s a strange sole criterion for friendship. After all, I have never made an IRL friend solely based on her cuteness. But for a lot of these women, who for some reason chose only a selfie and no other info, that was all I had to go on.

It’s kind of a distasteful process to confront your own visual prejudices so clearly. The game-like aspects of this app, like all dating and social-matching apps, winnow your preferences quickly and clearly. The act of swiping trains you to quickly assess a limited amount of information and make a decision. In all honesty, I hesitated, and often swiped left, on *basic* white girls with chevron print dresses or monogrammed wine glasses. I swiped left on people who listed alcohol as their main interest, because it felt like they were performing some kind of *bitter-but-cool-millenial* wine-guzzling act. (I also like wine, and drinking, and brunch, but GIRL everyone does! It’s not a lot to go on when meeting an individual). They are probably lovely people, and we could have had a fine time together. Regardless, I swiped left because some part of me instinctively recoiled, and there were a lot of other women to look through. I’m sure other people on the app did the same for me.

I have never actually used a dating app, since my current boyfriend and I have been dating since before tinder was a thing. It was fun to participate in this facet of culture. As a low-stakes way to specify the kind of friends I wanted to meet, it was great. But for my (squad-)goals, did it work?

IMG_8014
Aren’t these redaction stickers the cutest?

I had a few matches within the first couple hours, which was heartening! When you match with someone (meaning both of you swiped right on each other), your phone buzzes in celebration and a whole world of possibility opens up in front of you. At least, that’s how it felt the first time I matched. A new window comes up, letting you know that the hours are ticking down on your new #foreverfriend, and one of you will have to start talking. Members of the secret facebook group mentioned above agreed: it is awkward af to start small-talking someone you don’t know if you’re not face to face. Some girls sent a blank, “how are you?” which was about as inspiring online as it is in person (which is to say, not very). A couple people sent compliments: “I love your hair!” or “ooh, the donuts in your pic look so yummy!” As is the case when I make in-person small talk, I felt like I was lifting heavy weights. (Small talk is tedious, y’all. Why don’t we as a society just acknowledge this fact?) It felt easy to let conversations fall by the wayside. After all, these were still strangers to whom I owed nothing. But that also meant that moving forward to meeting up was hard. Usually one or both of us flaked, or the topic never came up at all.

While I’ve yet to meet up with any of my matches, I suspect that this app, like most dating apps, can only do so much. We will still have to wade through the slough of small talk and introduction together. We will meet, and leave that meeting, still basically strangers—and it will take some effort to keep any momentum going. One or both of us will have to be very proactive, in a way that I find most people of my generation rarely are—at least when it comes to making and keeping social engagements with people, especially people you don’t know well. It’s too easy to lie back in bed, log in to netflix, and lazily flick through the next 20 women waiting in your screen. BumbleBFF may help us take the first step, but the hard work is still up to us. I remain optimistic, though. If anyone wants to buzz me, I’ll be here.

 

Big Sound Saturdays: That’s My Best Friend!

As we all come down from our turkey and/or capitalism-induced hangovers, let’s take a moment to give thanks for two beautiful things: hip-hop and friendship. Our Big Sound Saturdays playlist this week brilliantly celebrates female friendship (and more) in this guest-curated playlist of hip-hop and R&B jams, put together by M.H.

cheetah girls

Most of you may know about the Bechdel test. If a movie does not feature two women on screen without a man present in either frame or conversation, we use the Bechdel test to declare it to be on the wrong side of feminism. Of course, this test is overly simplistic and often inaccurate. The famed lesbian feminist cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, after whom the test is named, recently admitted, “You can certainly have a feminist movie where there is only one woman–or no women.”[1] I agree. I think some episodes of the TV show Entourage are surprisingly feminist in how they bend expectations of masculinity. But I think it also useful to have a metric for measuring gender equality in something as hyper-masculine as the film industry. So it got me wondering: why is there no Bechdel test for music? Specifically, for hip-hop and R&B, two genres famous for being about either a) individual financial success, b) heterosexual prowess, c) defeating one’s enemies with hot rhymes or d) all of the above. One of the most famous movies to pass the Bechdel test is Thelma & Louise because it is all about female friendship. I thought the same might be true for rap songs about friends. So I went on a search for some smooth and/or hard jams about platonic love. Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: That’s My Best Friend!”

Weekly Link Roundup: 10/30/15

Editor’s Note: Did y’all hear we were mentioned on my favorite podcast, “The Read”? Check it out if you haven’t yet, Kid Fury and Crissle are hilarious and whip-smart. Now read on for some linky-spamspam! Continue reading “Weekly Link Roundup: 10/30/15”

Halloween Thank You Cards

From WOC to their white ally friends.

From WOC to their white ally friends!

Weekly Dance Break: Blue Horizon (Cokejazz and Hoody)

On tap this week: a korean track full of langurous, relaxing vocals and dreamy scenery. This is the song that would play at the end of that movie starring you and your friends, coming of age under the summer sun, as you drive off into the horizon.

Give it a listen, give it a watch, take a deep breath.  Continue reading “Weekly Dance Break: Blue Horizon (Cokejazz and Hoody)”

The Mindy Project Recap: Season 4 Episode 2 (“C is for Coward”)

In case you missed episode one’s recap: here ya go.

I guess Hulu is staking its claim closer to traditional TV formats than Netflix, because every time I pull up this Hulu Original, I’m surprised that it’s being released one episode at a time. Do you know how hard it is to be denied my episode binge, especially for something light and fluffy like TMP?

Some things to start us off:

  1. Mindy has so many cute pajama sets. Not surprising given her colorful wardrobe. But it is really amazing.
  2. Danny persistently swings between immensely likeable (see: Diamond Dan) and kind of terrible (see: this episode).

Here we go!

Mindy and Danny lie in bed, discussing potential baby names. Mindy muses that they’ll probably need a gender-neutral name, in case the baby’s trans—leading us to her use of the inventive pronoun “herm.” I get the sense that, true to character, Mindy’s interest in the baby’s potential trans identity is more of her trend-mongering than anything else. At least it came up on the show, if not in the most serious way.

Mindy leans over and says she’s horny, leading Danny to protest that he doesn’t want the baby to…feel his dick? I guess? I’m not a doctor and, ostensibly, Danny is an ob-gyn, so I suppose he knows what he’s talking about. But is that possible? Eh.

Screenshot (270)

Screenshot (273)

When Danny keeps resisting, Mindy huffs that she doesn’t need him and that she’ll just draw her own erotica. In a kind of endearing moment, Danny watches in amusement as she takes out a notebook and starts nodding and making appreciative noises. “You’re just drawing 69 over and over.”

In the office, the show continues a schtick that no one really cares about: unlikeable Dr. Jeremy Reed (I actually had to look up his name for a second). TMP has a kind of uneven time giving its secondary characters (ie. not Mindy or Danny) screentime/personalities/jokes. It often feels a little belabored (har har see what I did there? no? ok.) Anyway, Dr. Reed is dating some woman and wants to take the office to dinner to show her he has friends. Whatever.

Meanwhile, Mindy and Morgan prepare for the Fertility Expo, where they will be trying to convince young women in their 20s to freeze their eggs. When they try their spiel on “young, millenial” Tamra, she pulls up a video by the Deslaurier midwives, who have made a winky political-spot type ad against “big fertility” treatments like in vitro/egg freezing/pills. As they walk through a serene nature spot, the brothers advocate for natural birth, aka “Paleo birth.” It’s very tongue in cheek and pretty well done.

Screenshot (290) Screenshot (291) Screenshot (292)

Mindy, Danny, and Morgan tour the luxe birthing suite that Mindy has booked for a “5 Day Knockout Cesarean.” While there, Mindy and Danny argue about whether or not she should use drugs, or whether she should try for a more natural procedure. Danny seems invested in some kind of “magic of childbirth” idea, which….is kind of not surprising, but very annoying all the same. Mindy is a doctor, of all things. She knows what she’s doing. Also there’s a little thing called bodily autonomy, hello?

After this meeting, Danny goes to see the Deslaurier midwives (betrayal!!) and talks with Brendan about possible ways to induce childbirth naturally (and there are weird power plays embedded in their interaction, of course). When Mindy gets home that night, Danny’s done it up big: tons of candles, a verrrry spicy arrabiatta (mmm), a stimulating massage, and, of course, an attempt at sex that gets derailed when Mindy discovers the copy of Paleo Birth Danny’s stashed under a couch cushion.
Screenshot (304)

They have a fight as Danny insists that the pain of childbirth can be a beautiful thing (ugh). He seems very convinced that this ability to withstand the pain naturally will be an indicator of the kind of mother Mindy will be. Finally, Mindy reminds him that she, too, is an ob/gyn and she knows that childbirth is basically a nightmare.

Screenshot (312) Screenshot (313) Screenshot (316)

Back in the office, Mindy and Morgan get ready to head down to the expo. Morgan is alternately a good friend and kind of inexplicable, both reminding Mindy that no man should tell her what to do with the baby, and then offering to keep the baby in by yelling at her stomach: “sit, boy! stay!”

Dr. Reed stops by Danny’s office to chat, then catches him admitting that he isn’t going to the Expo…so he’s free to go to dinner with Jeremy and his girlfriend. “Now Whitney will see what great friends I have! Yes!” This is sad, without purpose, untempered by humor. Whatever, Dr. Reed.

On the train to the Expo, Mindy tries in vain to get a seat, but her coworkers refuse to offer theirs up. Morgan spots the Deslauriers down the car and invites them to stand with them, despite Mindy’s hissed protest. “No Morgan, we hate them!” Brendan makes rude comments (“when did you have the baby, Mindy?”), as expected. Aaaand then Mindy starts having contractions. My nightmare.

Morgan tries to tell a joke about a banana and silverware on a date, to cover up the fact that Mindy is having contractions.
Morgan tries to tell a joke about a banana and silverware on a date, to cover up the fact that Mindy is having contractions.

Of course, a man falls onto the tracks while filming a viral video, forcing the train to a stop. Mindy, in a panic, yells, “WELL RUN HIM OVER ALREADY!” Bless you, Mindy. Never change.

Brendan Deslaurier announces that she’s going to have the baby on the subway. Of course, he uses this as an opportunity to make a general announcement to the train that, though his methods are usually for “younger and more athletic women,” Mindy is going to use the Paleo method.

Danny meets Dr. Reed outside a fancy restaurant, where Dr. Reed nervously informs Danny that he’s hired some improv actors to play the part of his friends.  While they talk, Dr. Reed drops some surprising insight: that Mindy is terrified, and when she’s terrified, she tends to pretend that the scary thing isn’t happening. Finally, the show takes a moment to acknowledge that he’s a character who’s been around for four seasons (and even slept with Mindy in season one), not just a one-off sad sack. Danny gets a text from Morgan saying they’re trapped on the train, and rushes off to see Mindy.

Brendan coaches Mindy to recite her "mantra," which is, hilariously, "save my money and spend his."
Brendan coaches Mindy to recite her “mantra,” which will help focus and soothe her.

On the train, Mindy panics as her contractions continue. “I just want my birthing suite and my playlist!” she cries (valid complaint, Mindy.) Duncan offers to play her something, which temporarily gets her hopes up—and in a surreal TV moment, he starts to play “I’ve been working on the railroad” while everyone else joins in and Mindy starts to cry.

Screenshot (343)

Danny gets an intense running montage as he races from the restaurant, breaks through the police barrier, and finally appears in the subway car alongside Mindy, who screams for drugs and tries to get Tamra to slap her unconscious by insulting Beyonce (after the slap: “That did nothing and I’ve betrayed Beyonce!” Mindy sobs.) Danny finally pulls through and redeems himself for the fuckery of his episode, slightly. He knows Mindy well, I’ll give him that, because his words of comfort are that she’s a “stone cold bitch” and stronger than anyone he knows. You’ve gotta know that to Mindy, being called a cold, strong bitch is a great compliment. He even, after looking around nervously to see if Annette is behind him or something, concedes that she’s even stronger than his ma. Words of love from Danny.

Screenshot (362) Screenshot (361)

Finally, Mindy and Danny (and Morgan) share a tender moment at the hospital. Mindy says she’s exhausted and asks Danny to name the baby. After a short pause, he suggests the name Leo. “Like Leonardo DiCaprio,” Mindy says, satisfied. “No, like Leonardo Da Vinci!” Danny protests. Of course. Morgan chimes in that the baby is “too small to be a Tookers baby,” which…lol.

And finally, we end on a nice sweet shot of the hospital window as the rest of the team comes in to offer their congratulations and see the baby.

Artists and their Muses: “Mistress America” review

Mistress America is about many things. It is a screwball comedy refracted through the Woody Allen hall of mirrors.  It is a study in the dynamics of desire and exploitation in female friendship. It is a biography of a muse according to the object of her inspiration. It is an account of the early days of college life just as the imperative to “discover yourself” feels simultaneously, paradoxically, crucial and passé. It is a portrait of the artist as a young co-ed. Continue reading “Artists and their Muses: “Mistress America” review”