March 2, 2018
Los Angeles, CA
Getting to Santa Monica from Eagle Rock is always hell. The one good thing about going there is that my office usually has fun-sized Milky Ways. Also it gives me some much-needed time away from the puppy. We were having a rare day of rain in L.A., which meant that the puppy would go out, get his paws dirty, and come immediately back in to track it all over the bed.
The meeting went well. Our office is so close to the Santa Monica Whole Foods that I can never leave without buying at least one overpriced bar of volcanic clay soap and a candle. Make that two candles. Jesus Christ.
My friend and I hopped on the phone to talk about the logistics of making a podcast where we would bitch and moan about everything we hate, which is a lot. He’s already purchased microphones.
When I finally stumbled out of the car I felt that I had climbed and descended from Everest. I stopped by the library to pick up two books they have been holding for me: Logical Family by Armistead Maupin and Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz, whose writing skews on the pretentious side. In his defense, all his friends were dying of AIDS, and he was too.
I feel that I’m caught in the invisible arms of government in a country slowly dying beyond our grasp. . . . There’s no enlarged or glittering new view of the nature of things or existence. No god or angels brushing my eyelids with their wings. Hell is a place on earth. Heaven is a place in your head.
On this rainy day, it occurred to me that I’ve never watched Tootsie, which came out in 1982, six years before I was born. After listening to an entire episode (from 2011) of Julie Klausner’s beautiful podcast, How Was Your Week, dedicated to discussing Tootsie in detail, I decided that it was probably a crime I hadn’t seen the film yet. I set up a poll on Instagram to ask whether I should watch Tootsie. Then I fixed myself a cocktail of prickly-pear-and-orange-flavored San Pellegrino and vodka, and made minestrone soup with bacon. On returning to my Instagram poll, I found the response overwhelmingly in favor of Tootsie.
As a 29-year-old trans person, I imagined that Tootsie was going to feel like either required viewing or a transphobic mess. To my surprise, it was neither. My drunk observations of Tootsie are as follows:
- It’s amazing what passes as good drag in the ’80s.
- Bill Murray looks older in this film than he does now.
- I want to own Jessica Lange’s sweatpants.
- Why are Dustin Hoffman’s eyebrows so thin? Even before he decides to take on his drag persona, his eyebrows are these tiny Marlene Dietrich arches, and it makes no sense.
I also took note of Michael Dorsey’s use of “the woman inside me” decades before Tobias Funke’s book of nearly the same name.
Tootsie underwhelmed me. Am I a bad trans for preferring both The Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire as films about men putting on wigs and suddenly becoming feminists? I can’t answer that. What I do know is that Dustin Hoffman is not and never will be my favorite.
I often forget, in the mad, blind rush to ingest new seasons of shows I love and first seasons of promising-looking TV, how much I used to love movies. How a movie forces you to focus on one story from beginning to end. It is unsatisfying but also deeply satisfying to have everything tied up neatly. You get the pleasure of a full resolution with the depression that comes with knowing that the story and the characters end there without allowing you to follow them. I’m the kind of person who, once I love a character, would prefer to follow their story for the rest of their natural life.
But movies are beautiful in their succinctness. Last week I rewatched Jabberwocky, Terry Gilliam’s first directorial feature post-Python, which is not very good except for the first five minutes, which are fucking excellent, and part of Crumb. But Crumb made me too depressed, and I couldn’t finish.
Now that Tootsie was finished, I moved on to the main event: season 3 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was finally on Netflix. I started to watch it and thought about how I apparently went to school with Rachel Bloom (as I was told by someone else who was in our NYU class) but was too blacked out to notice. Perhaps if I hadn’t been blacked out I would now have a job writing on one of the best shows on TV. The thought no sooner occurred to me than I noticed my period had finally shown up, 10 days late. Perfect.
I ate some peanut butter cups and went to bed.