Jennie Yabroff

Stories by Jennie Yabroff

  • Is Now the Right Time for ERA?

    As the architects of the 1970s women's movement age, they wonder if anyone will march in their place.
  • How To Sell The Joke

    In a happy accident of geography, two shows in midtown Manhattan present work by three of the most iconic street photographers of the past century. Many photos are familiar, but considered as a group, the pictures appear fresh--and remarkably funny. The comedy is inherent in Elliott Erwitt's photographs at the Edwynn Houk Gallery (through Feb. 23); around the corner at Laurence Miller Gallery, the humor becomes apparent mainly in the juxtaposition of the works by Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt (through March 10).Levitt, who photographed New York street scenes in the 1930s and ' 40s, predated Arbus by a generation, yet anticipated many of Arbus's obsessions: children, couples, family life and solitude. The exhibit pairs 20 black-and-white Arbus images with similar-ly themed shots by Levitt. While Arbus is known for chronicling humanity at its most undefended, Levitt's gaze is tender, leavening the impact of Arbus's work. One of Arbus's best-known pictures, a 1970 shot of a dwarf...
  • Mothers To Blame

    Hysteria around moms suspected of murder can warp judgment and logic.
  • A Year Of Selling Books

    A rash of memoirs by people spending 12 months following rules shows self-deprivation is strangely hip.
  • Drag: Is It Misogynistic for Men to Play Women?

    Edna Turnblad has a weakness for pink-sequined dresses, a passion for her husband and a triple-E bra. Edna also has a secret. Edna is a man. To be precise, her character in "Hairspray" has always been played by a man: drag queen Divine in the original John Waters film, gruff-voiced Harvey Fierstein in the Broadway musical and, starting this week, John Travolta in the movie musical. Just as Peter Pan is almost always played by a woman, it's impossible to imagine a "Hairspray" in which Edna isn't hiding a stubble under her pancake makeup. The obvious reason is that more-is-more is part of the "Hairspray" ethos, from the hairstyles to the musical numbers. Having a man play the plus-size Edna makes her funnier, and adds a wink-wink knowingness to the depiction of an archetype of maternity.But what is that wink all about? Edna is hardly the only iconic female character who's really a he. Tyler Perry has made a career of playing the overweight, overbearing grandmother Madea, while both...
  • Girls Gone Mild? A New Modesty Movement

    Consider the following style tips for girls: skirts and dresses should fall no more than four fingers above the knee. No tank tops without a sweater or jacket over them. Choose a bra that has a little padding to help disguise when you are cold. These fashion hints may sound like the prim mandates of a 1950s "health" film. But they are from the Web site of Pure Fashion, a modeling and etiquette program for teen girls whose goal is "to show the public it is possible to be cute, stylish and modest." Pure Fashion has put on 13 shows in 2007 featuring 600 models. National director Brenda Sharman estimates there will be 25 shows in 2008. It is not the only newfangled outlet for old-school ideas about how girls should dress: ModestApparelUSA.com, ModestByDesign.com and DressModestly.com all advocate a return to styles that leave almost everything to the imagination. They cater to what writer Wendy Shalit claims is a growing movement of "girls gone mild"—teens and young women who are...
  • Behind the Secret Door

    Velvet ropes, burly doormen and screaming paparazzi are so passé. In New York City, the hottest bars and restaurants keep a low profile—so low, in fact, you may have a hard time finding them without a GPS. Discretion is the watchword when it comes to getting through the (unmarked) doors of these secret Manhattan nightspots, but once inside, you'll be rewarded with swank furnishings, lovingly crafted cocktails and the discreet thrill of having made it to the inner sanctum. ...
  • Essay: The Myth of Boyhood

    Picture a world where your father walks with you down a starlit road, pausing to point out Orion. He recites Robert Frost, knows how a battery works—and all the rules about girls. "The Dangerous Book for Boys," by brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden, is peaking on Amazon's best-seller list (No. 5 last week) by recalling just that world. The compendium of trivia, history and advice is geared toward preteen boys, but it's found a surprising audience in men in their 30s and 40s, too. The book's marbled endpapers, archival illustrations and dry, humorous tone ("excitable bouts of windbreaking will not endear you to a girl") offers a portal back to a time of "Sunday afternoons and long summer days."But did this world ever exist? The book's success suggests we'd like to think so. First published in Britain last year, it was conceived as a homage to the popular "Boy's Own" periodicals from the early 1900s. It's inspired a host of copycats, including "211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do," by Thomas...
  • $3 Gadget Produces Safe Drinking Water

    With his rimless eyeglasses and natty suit, 35-year-old Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen looks like the kind of CEO who enjoys a fine red. Less likely is the image of him slurping that Bordeaux through a bright blue straw the size of a fat kazoo. But slurp he has, and not just wine: he's also tasted soda, pond water, and water from a lake in Nairobi through the gizmo. "You have to suck pretty hard at first to get it moist, but after that it's easy," he says of the LifeStraw, the portable water filter manufactured by his Danish company.Most of the LifeStraw's users will never drink anything fancier than plain water through the device. But its impact on their lives can't be overstated. More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and 6,000 people die each day of waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera and dysentery. In regions like sub-Saharan Africa, half of most people's water consumption takes place outside the home—either while they're working, or walking...
  • In Hollywood, Beta Males Best Alpha Dogs

    Ben Stone isn't what you'd call a player. He lives with four buddies in a squalid slacker palace. He's chubby, furry and happily unemployed, unless you count a scheme to launch a Web site charting every female nude scene in Hollywood history. One night, Ben (Seth Rogen) and his C-list posse hit a neighborhood bar where, as luck would have it, they meet two A-list blondes. Ben is (typically) unshaven, wearing a rumpled, untucked shirt, and totally drunk. Still, he manages (miraculously) to persuade stunning Alison (Katherine Heigl) to dance, and proceeds to embarrass himself with his cheesy "throwing the dice" move. ("That's all he's got," one of his friends says sadly.) Alison, out celebrating a big job promotion, is drunk enough herself not to be scared off. In fact, she invites Ben to her house, where she elicits another geeky move when she strips. "You're so much prettier than I am!" Ben says. Considering the scene is from the upcoming film "Knocked Up," you can probably guess...
  • Richard Nixon Makes It to Broadway

    Near the end of the new play "Frost/Nixon," about the former president's 1977 post-Watergate interview with television journalist David Frost, the phone rings in Frost's hotel room. Thinking it's his girlfriend calling to ask what he wants for dinner, Frost picks up and barks: "I'll have a cheeseburger." But it's Nixon, and he's been drinking. "Mmm. Sounds good. I used to love cheeseburgers," the ex-president says. "But Doctor Lundgren made me give them up. And switched me to cottage cheese and pineapple instead. He calls them my Hawaiian burgers." Then Nixon—who had a habit of drunken dialing—remembers the real reason for his call. Frost has been interviewing him for two days and in the morning will conduct the final session on Watergate. Nixon wants to acknowledge that only one of the men can survive the next day's face-off with his image intact, but he relishes the prospect of the fight—and he's not above baiting his opponent. "Watergate. It's a small consolation to me that for...
  • 'Tropicália' Paradise

    In 1967, Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica put together an installation at Rio de Janeiro's "New Brazilian Objectivity" show featuring sand, trees, gravel, fabric panels and a cage holding two live parrots. Visitors were encouraged to take off their shoes and stroll through the exhibit, which Oiticica called "Tropicália." A year later, Brazilian musicians Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes and Caetano Veloso borrowed the name for a pop album, and the Tropicália movement was born.The music, art, theater, fashion and architecture of that movement is on glorious display in "Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture" at the Bronx Museum (through January 28, then possibly traveling to Brazil). Part cultural celebration and part political protest, Tropicália was a response by Brazil's counterculture to the country's increasingly repressive regime and the rise of favelas . Two of Oiticica's installations, which he termed "penetrables," are recreated in the show, and they epitomize the brief...
  • Art and a Cup of Joe

    Starbucks may have popularized the notion of café-as-living-room, but students, artists and self-styled bohemians have been lingering over cooling cups of joe in public spaces for centuries. A delightful new exhibit titled "More Than Coffee Was Served: Café Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and Weimar Germany," at the Galerie St. Etienne in New York (through Nov. 25), celebrates the role of the coffeehouse as both hangout and inspiration for George Grosz, Otto Dix, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Käthe Kollwitz and other artist habitués of the Starbucks of their day.As sociologist Ray Oldenburg has noted, cafés are prime examples of "third places": public gathering spaces outside the home and workplace that foster community and democracy. Whether low-ceilinged, dimly lit German beer halls or grand Viennese Kaffeehäuser, cafés provided the artists displayed in this exhibit a place to work, socialize and plot social revolution long into the night--all for the price of a cup...
  • The World's True Game

    With the world cup now underway, billions of fans around the globe are eating, breathing and sleeping football--all except the Americans. A new film, "Once in a Lifetime," documents the struggle to bring world-class football to the United States. British filmmaker Paul Crowder recounts the story of the 1970s New York Cosmos, who played on an uneven field spray-painted green. Even after enlisting the then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to woo Pelé to the team, the Cosmos floundered. (Pelé threatened to quit after his first game, believing that the green paint on his feet from the faux field was fungus.) As Germany and Costa Rica opened this year's World Cup, NEWSWEEK's Jennie Yabroff spoke with Crowder about the state of the game in the United States and the world. Excerpts: ...