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Home: The Toast

Our perfect and beautiful Nikki Chung on her work/life balance:

I don’t think I was ever cut out for a life solely focused on family. It can be such a blessed relief to drop the kids at school, return home to my MacBook, and immerse myself in work. The pressures of managing a website often pale compared to the job of raising a neurodiverse kid in a neurotypical world, or finding ways to challenge a precocious and frequently bored second-grader. It’s not that my work prevents me from thinking and worrying about my kids; I am their mother, so it will be my privilege to do those things for the rest of my life. But work has always been my best distraction, as well as the thing that makes me feel most competent, in control. I love collaborating with the brilliant, funny women I work with*, editing and planning for the site, talking with writers all day long. I love everything about this job, and I know that I sometimes hide in it as well.

*like meeeeeeeee

On how the HSN works:

Last year, HSN (once called the Home Shopping Network, now known simply by its initials) sold $2.5 billion worth of merchandise — one steamer, one blender, one treadmill at a time. The 33-year-old company knows what sells and, more importantly, who it’s selling to. You’d be hard-pressed to find another company more loyal to, or obsessed with, its customer.

“We love her. We talk about her all the time. There’s not a minute of the day that goes by that we’re not thinking about her,” Katherine Rush explains at HSN’s St. Petersburg, Florida headquarters one morning in August. The VP of marketing is sitting across from me in one of the many green rooms usually reserved for on-air talent. “Everything we do and everything we curate is with her in mind.”

If you’re in the Bay Area tonight, maybe check out “Hella Asians On TV” at the Asian Art Museum!

On Robin Coste Lewis’ Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems:

Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems consists of three parts. The long title poem is bookended by two sections of more traditional lyric poems, and Lewis frames “Voyage of the Sable Venus” with a thorough prologue that details her methods of composition. She explains that “Voyage” is “a narrative poem comprised solely and entirely of the titles, catalog, or exhibit descriptions of Western art objects in which a black female figure is present, dating from 38,000 BCE to the present.” Lewis then goes on to catalog the rules by which she composed the piece. Here are some: though she altered grammar via changes to punctuation and spacing, “no title could be broken or changed in any way.” She interpreted “art” broadly, including not only paintings and sculptures and photographs, but also unexpected objects like table legs and combs. Where museums had quietly erased terms such as “slave” and “negro” from original titles and archives and replaced them with the “sanitized” term “African American,” Lewis changed them back. She also decided to include titles of artwork by black female and queer artists, whether or not they represented a black female figure in their work.

This is good advice but if I find out I’ve been cheated on, I’m gonna pull a this and then the world will explode and couples counseling will cease to be necessary for anyone. “Your Nicole is a jealous Nicole” – The Bible:


Janelle Monáe talking about fashion:

You don’t seem to be swayed by trends, though, so what do you look for when assessing the new styles on the runway?
I’m swayed by art. I, of course, am looking for iconic artistic black-and-white pieces but when something is striking outside of that palette, I allow myself to wear an honorary color. Red has been catching my eye as of late. I love to see an entire designer’s collection and appreciate each piece they create. I love listening to the music, taking in the platform where the show is taking place, the crowd. It’s all-encompassing. The experience as a whole is what makes attending shows so great.

This story is B A N A N A S (also, at least one of those horses they’re posing with is severely underweight, but they do not strike me as the type to ask questions about things like that):

Abe Zeines’s hilltop mansion in Puerto Rico looks like a frat house after a rager. A wrecked golf cart blocks the driveway. An SUV with a blown tire sits on the grass out front. A porch overlooking the Caribbean is littered with beer bottles and cigarette butts.

It’s a Monday morning in June, and Zeines is lounging in boxer shorts in his living room, drinking a Blue Moon. Two girls in bikinis are cooking breakfast for him and Meir Hurwitz, his best friend and business partner. The men, natives of Brooklyn, N.Y., are complaining about the restaurants on the island they’ve decided to call home. “There’s no item called eggs,” Zeines says. “You have to get the eggs with ham, hold the ham.”

My friend Carrie’s new puppy enjoys the classics:


James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson are prepping for a new play, and talking about their lives and work, and it’s GREAT (I saw Tyson star in the African-American Broadway revival of The Trip To Bountiful, which was incredible, and if you’ve never seen the 1985 movie with Geraldine Page, grab all your crying materials and do so. Something that happened during Tyson’s run, and not in previous stage productions, was that there were WAY more people of color in the audience, obviously, and so more people who knew the hymns Tyson was singing, so people SANG ALONG during the SHOW and it was magical and great and transformative to Foote’s play, and there we are, I’ll stop):

Tyson took a more overtly political approach — not by carrying a picket sign but by taking parts that articulated the cause. “I really could not afford the luxury of being an actress,” she says. “I had some issues that I really wanted to address, and I chose my career as a platform.” In the ’70s, her roles in Sounder and Roots made her a civil-rights icon. Only over the past decade or so has she been willing to take roles that are less message-driven, partly because she feels that the opportunities have expanded. “I don’t have to point out to you what’s happened on television as far as blacks are concerned, virtually taking over,” she says.

Beloved Friend of The Toast Lindsay King-Miller on what she hears when you say “a child deserves a mother and a father”:

I can’t help but notice that the people making the “children deserve a mother and father” argument are also the ones most frequently arguing and voting in favor of cutting welfare and other forms of support for struggling families, suggesting that they think children deserve a Leave It To Beaver two-parent family more than, say, food. They also tend to be anti-abortion and pro-adoption in the case of unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, overlooking the fact that both relinquishing parents and adopted children tend to have lasting emotional repercussions from the event.

Why don’t the family values crusaders insist that those children deserve to be raised by their parents of origin, and work to create more robust social support systems for low-income parents and families? It’s both inconsistent and telling that the same people who are anti-same-sex-parents and anti-abortion usually oppose increased welfare benefits, free child care, and other options that would make it easier for families to stay together.

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