Bob Dylan has a song called Positively Fourth Street and that is where I live. On positively Fourth Street in Manhattan on the corner above the Yemeni grocery. And today I went there to buy a cup of coffee. And turning the corner to the entrance of the grocery I saw on the newsrack the front page of the Sunday Daily News.
And there was this image of a very young woman perhaps a girl, very pretty perhaps not beautiful. and this headline saying she was a nineteen year old supermodel who had dived to her death from a ninth story window, an apparent suicide. And well me I care fuck all about supermodels so I haven’t the foggiest notion who she is or rather was, or whether she was in fact a supermodel or if that was just hype to sell papers, but she sure is a cover girl now.
And I couldn’t buy that Daily News because there’s something wrong with my ATM card and all I had was ninety five cents for a one dollar cup of coffee. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Although I'd really love a cigarette. So I bought my black coffee from the Yemenis while thinking of that girl, and of course when I left I looked at that front page again.
But what does one really think in such cases or more importantly what does one feel? They are not uncommon enough for one to feel all that much, these media “stars” sudden deaths. Nor are they quite common enough for one to become innured to them. So what one feels is a kind of numbness. Or at least that’s what I feel.
But I had many thoughts and they came to me like lightening because I’ve had them so many times before. About how humanly bankrupt the modeling industry is. And how young these girls are when they are spirited away to the glamourous world of drugs and rootlessness and bulimia. And how I always wonder if I’m just jealous until one of them takes the plunge.
And how the members of a society which worships images and things cannot but have a hollowness inside unfillable. And how skinny these girls are. And how the fashion photos got every day more revealing until they’re now a kind of soft core porn, or porne narm as Kouroush likes to say. And well me I care fuck all about porn, at times I rather like it. But there must be something wrong with this picture because every now and then one of them takes the plunge.
And as fate would have it as I was thinkng these thoughts.I saw a young woman in purdah. Or perhaps a girl, completely covered from head to toe in blackest of black purdah. A purdah far too thick for this hot and humid day, her wan face peeping out in stark contrast to her drapings, most of her face not all.
And what can one really think in such cases, or more importantly what does one feel? I confess I never think much at all because I always feel so taken aback and appalled, although these women are not uncommon in New York, one sees them here and there. And I always feel such pity for them and such anger at their men when they don’t even bother to cover their heads. One time I even saw full burqa.
But today I felt quite differently, it all just seemed so poignant. And walking up the stairs with my cup of black coffee I thought pf Hamid Dabashi. You know, the Iranian protégée of Said, the one who's so annoying. With his blustering like a bantam cock, and many say he’s a mediocre scholar but I don’t agree but that’s neither here nor there. I saw him once some time ago at one of the first activists’ meetings against an attack on Iran. And somehow the conversation turned to hijab and this is what he said:
He said the Middle East is obsessed with covering the female body and the West is obsessed with uncovering it and I wish they'd both just leave it alone.
And well me I care fuck all about porne narm and often I quite like it. But that is what Dabashi said.
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