November 02, 2023
Sometimes it's hard to pay attention to how interesting the world is, and how fascinating people can be, and then you stumble upon a 1,000-pound pumpkin. One of our neighbors continues his long-standing tradition of hoisting the biggest pumpkin he can find onto his Brooklyn stoop every fall, just so people can come see it and get whatever joy a huge pumpkin brings them. It's magnificent! This year's giant gourd, which took ten people to roll it up his steps, is not even the record holder. The biggest pumpkin in the world, named Michael Jordan by the farmer who grew it, weighs almost three times as much! People go to great lengths just to spread joy. The trick (and treat) is to actually look around to see it.
In that spirit, I'm putting the finishing touches on Kazoo's 31st issue this week. I know I say this every time, but this might be our very best one yet. I can't wait to share it with you! Here's more of what I've been thinking about this month:
• File under Can't Win: It seems that there is a now consensus that we are harming our children by being so attentive. As New York mag reports, "Childhood Independence is a Mental Health Issue." But do you remember just a few years ago, when parents were straight-up being arrested for letting a 9-year-old child play at the playground solo? That story terrified me. "There is nothing more shameful than a careless mother—we all know this down to our toenails," says New York writer Kathryn Jezer-Morton. But but but ... now we are careless because we're too careful. Perhaps shame is meant to be our constant state?
• The Daily WHAT? Ultra-Conservatives have been saying for years that the very worst thing "The Left" does is "indoctrinate children" through woke entertainment, like, you know, Disney and Sesame Street. (Some critics might have even accused our sweet little magazine of doing the same.) So, in response, The Daily Wire, a company funded by Republican fracking billionaire Farris Wilkshave, just announced a $100 million commitment to develop "entertainment for kids that parents can trust." The "Bentkey" app will cost $99 per year and include shows like, "'Kid Fit Go," an original series about having fun while exercising." I suppose it's not "indoctrination" if it's coming from ultra-conservatives and backed by 100 million dollars. Anyway, sounds ... so fun. Watch out, Bluey!
• What's Up? Dolly Parton and Linda Perry TOGETHER, that's what. My kids have been indoctrinated with this song on many a long car ride and I plan to indoctrinate them with this new version, too. (Dolly switched a few of the lyrics, which I liked.)
• Let's All Make Noise: As you know, Kazoo's tagline is "A Magazine for Girls Who Aren't Afraid to Make Some Noise," and we've gotten criticism for it, over the years. I wonder if the author of this new book, The Noise Inside Boys (which I haven't read, but it looks really cute), has gotten the same sort of criticism?
• Woopsies. We were all taught that of course, "Boys will be boys," because boys will grow into men and men are the way they are, because they evolved to be the hunters, while women were made to primarily tend children. The problem, says Scientific American: “It’s wrong.” Scientists now say, "The fossil and archaeological records, as well as ethnographic studies of modern-day hunter-gatherers, indicate that women have a long history of hunting game.” Oh well. If the response to this article on former-Twitter is any indication (people were MAD and most of those people were men), I'm sure we'll all correct ourselves in a really reasonable way and quickly realize that there are acceptable ways for all people to be.
• Last call: Speaking of former-Twitter, in the early days you could bump into anyone, and it felt like a clever cocktail party, open all night. I first came across Roxane Gay on Twitter, and she became an early supporter of Kazoo (only because she heard about it, also on Twitter.) Now @rgay has a new book out: Opinions, featured in the Guardian here. “We don’t have to agree," she says. "But it would be great if you just listened.” That listening part of Twitter? Gone now. Increasingly, it seems gone from the entire internet, actually. Where are you all going to keep talking? I need to find you so I can keep listening, too.
Some of our favorite costumes over the years...
• Settle something for me: This "You don't need to pre-rinse your dishes!" story has been following me around the internet for years. I can't help but wonder if the people who wrote this *also* unload the dishwasher. Do they know it doesn't actually fill up with water? It just hoses the dishes off. Do youpre-rinse? I am the only fool?
• I can barely even watch the clips of what is happening Israel and Palestine, and I'm horrified that is has already spilled over into our politics in the US, as propaganda that continues to stoke divisions in our increasingly divided country. I know so little about this that I don’t have anything to add, but I did find this piece illuminating. Since so many of us don't understand the complex history of the whole situation it's curious that everyone feels they need to make a statement about it. Of them all, I think Sesame Street had the best social media response: "All children deserve a safe childhood free from violence and terror."
• Can you dig it? This summer, both kids spent two days building a "brick wall" out of clay from the beach cliffs and, though we went to amusement parks and on special hikes, I think it was among their happiest days of summer. They were so proud of their creation, which withstood several rain storms before finally washing away. This fellow digs his own clay and makes pots out of it, and though I complain about what "the algorithm" is doing to my kids' heads, this is the sort of thing I will watch on repeat until all my brain cells die.
• All the Single Ladies: While the new Speaker of the House (with his increasingly bizarre and hateful/creepy backstory) blames no-fault divorce for everything, I'm thinking more about Rebecca Traister's recent exploration of the current wave of marriage boosterism. As Traister concludes: "Those single women that Republicans rail against? They vote against Republicans. And Republicans know it. On Fox News, in the days after 2022’s midterm elections, Jesse Watters was explicit: 'Single women are breaking for Democrats by 30 points … So we need these ladies to get married. And it’s time to fall in love and just settle down. Guys, go put a ring on it.'”
• So, Get Married, Now: "Apparently, we have moved on from transphobia-for-clicks to shrieking at women for not giving birth," says Rolling Stone. Someone alert the "Tradwives," the self-described anti-feminists who promote a 1950's lifestyle. (Or maybe we don't need to inform them since they are probably trending on former-Twitter. Were #1950swomen also overly online?) But, you know, unrelated to anything, and just because it's fashion, Elle tells us that "full skirts are everywhere this season!" and The Wall Street Journal tells us Dressing Like a 1950s Housewife is just "in" right now. It just is.
• Speaking of Fashion: Even though he is yet another Republican politician who is actively working against my rights, I am a big enough person to be increasingly worried about how uncomfortable Ron Desantis must be, all the time. But, I'm also 6 feet tall, so ...
• When friends become friends: It's true that maybe I need more excitement in my life but it is ABSOLUTELY THRILLING TO ME when two people we've featured in Kazoo get together in real life. I scrolled across a picture of the @QueenofMantas Dr. Andrea Marshall (from Kazoo #25) with Dr. Sylvia Earle (Kazoo #6). I'm just sitting here smiling like, I LOVE BOTH OF YOU! (If you do too, donate to Mission Blue, like we did in honor of Kazoo's Ocean Issue. It's great.)
• Speaking of amazing Kazoo contributors: Artist Ashley Longshore, who you might remember from our Happiness Issue #11, just opened a shop in Soho, and it looks like such fun! I hope to drop by this weekend.
• Shake it Off!: My 12-year-old woke up the other day and said, "I'm so excited, because 1989!" When I looked at her confused, she explained through much exasperation: "Taylor Swift!" I got to interview Taylor Swift (and also hang out with her lovely mom) when I worked at Self, and though she was only 19 years old at the time and had a meager million online fans, she was already a force. I'm even more impressed with her now for a multitude of reasons. One big one is that she's begun to take a stand against Trump and for democracy, women, and the LGBT+ community. (Seriously, click that link. I can't watch her impassioned plea without tearing up a little.) I do remind myself of the lyrics to "Shake it Off" more than I'd like, these days.
• Related: Here's how an astronaut washes her hair, in space!
• What We're Reading: We still read bedtime stories to our 8-year-old every night, and we all JUST LOVED Dory Fantasmagory, who calls salami "floppy cookies." We read every book in the series and can't wait for more. The Teeny Editor's now taken to reading (and re-reading) graphic novels on her own too. We keep a copy of Smile in the car, which, even though we hardly drive anywhere because we live in NYC, she's probably read it a dozen times. She's doing the same with Be Prepared. The 12-year-old has timed reading for homework and since she can choose any book, she's started reading aloud to her little sister from a series about cats, who are also ... warriors? It turns out there are about a million of these Warrior Cats books. I can't speak on the quality but walking in on a big sister reading to her little sister is maybe the sweetest thing ever. Any new books your kids are really loving? Let me know.
• What we’re watching: Our 12-year-old is making her way through Friends, which isn't as funny as I remember it. Is anything? (And of course it's heartbreaking now too.) After the kids are in bed, we're loving Lessons in Chemistry and The Morning Show, both shows on Apple TV with excellent opening sequences. (Though I hope Herve Tullet got some credit from The Morning Show because its opener is basically Press Here animated.) So excited to check out All the Light We Cannot See on Netflix. It's one of my very favorite books ever, and I'm hoping the series somehow lives up to it.
• What we're doing: Though we all love to play sports—I even played soccer in college at Penn State—we rarely watch other people play them. But the Teeny Editor's soccer team got tickets to a women's professional soccer game, so we drove to New Jersey to watch Gotham FC, which was so much fun! Inspired by our new fandom, we decided to go to the WNBA championship game too. Even though our team, NY Liberty, lost by 1 point—at the buzzer!—it was a wildly exciting show, complete with an elephant hip-hop dancing at the half, which somehow really worked. Yay, women's sports! We can't wait to support both teams next year.
• Thank you for being here.
• I'm a little tired this morning from our epic trick-or-treating. (We walked 6 miles—and collected THIRTEEN POUNDS of candy!) But, it's honestly one of my very favorite days. I hope whatever you did, it was fun. I'll leave you with a very strange Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater craft to brighten your day!
If you come across anything interesting, please send it my way. You can always find me at email@example.com.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Kazoo is an award-winning, ad-free, indie magazine for girls, 5 to 12, that celebrates them for being strong, smart, fierce and true to themselves. It's published quarterly in Brooklyn, New York and is sold all around the world.
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