City Pulse

By Lauren Baccus

The thing about New York is that it can be as ugly or as beautiful as you want it to be. At any given moment, the city may be the most loved and most detested spot on the map all at once.

Gary J. Cooper, New York resident and photographer, chooses to see his Gotham as a constant source of fascination, awe and excitement. His current exhibition of images, dedicated to the dynamic city he calls home, is being shown at is Soho Studios throughout November and is fueled by the energy of our sweet and tart NYC.

A red skyline pierced by the Empire State Building, a pedestrian in the middle of a not-so-pedestrian stride, and a little musical interlude at a Chelsea subway stop are all caught through Cooper’s inspired lens.

“Fall into Gotham” is a reminder, set in autumnal tones of gold and orange, that this city is well worth falling for, or at least looking at through another’s eyes.

For more information about the “Fall into Gotham” Exhibit, log on to www.fallintogotham.net where you can even vote for your favorite image.

To visit, please make an appointment by calling 917-969-0203.

The studio is located at:
131 Varick St. (at Spring st.)
STUDIO 936
New York, NY 10013

Candyland For Some Real Sweet Cheeks: Monopoly, Sephora Edition
By Gillian Weeks

Have you ever thought life was just one big makeover Drab to fab from cradle to grave? That’s how Sephora sees it, and they’re giving you a chance to adjust your whole perspective. This Christmas, gather around the Monopoly board game – Sephora Edition. Earn beauty bucks, buy up properties like Blow Out Boulevard, Curl-de-Sac, and Gloss Gardens, and pay fines for streaky self-tanner. The way I see it, it’s just one big metaphor: for every case of split ends, there’s a deep conditioning treatment just around the corner. Play on, ladies, play on.

Motherhood 8,000 Miles Removed: Outsourcing Childbirth to India
By Gillian Weeks

There’s a story out of India that’s quickly becoming the political perfect storm. It combines elements of economic outsourcing and reproductive rights, two issues that alone have the power to draw whole counties to the polls and disrupt peaceful dinner parties. In villages across India, you see, American families are hiring young women to carry their unborn child to term – that is, America is now outsourcing childbirth.

This doesn’t sit well with everyone. Bioethicists, evangelicals, and feminists alike have been grappling with the implications of this practice. Some question the rights of the birth mothers. Others point to what they see as typical colonial exploitation. Still more express a concern that the new-found ease of surrogacy will encourage fertile couples to hand over their birthing duties. All in all, it’s a lot of hubbub.

But once you shake off all that indignation and try on a little cold hard rationality, it all starts to sound like a fuss over nothing.

Let’s start with the surrogacy part. This is old news in America, and not particularly controversial. We’re fine with it here, so why not on the sub-continent?

Now let’s think about the outsourcing element. We consume an enormous amount of foreign goods and services, including ones that are physically demanding on the workers. Isn’t childbirth just another labor-intensive product (no pun intended)?

Still, the fact of the matter is that the issue fails the smell test. In other words, there’s something about outsourcing childbirth that gives us the ethical heebie jeebies. You could chalk it up to our emotional reaction to anything related to female sexuality and reproduction. Or you could say that we’re uneasy using (or exploiting) the bodies of the poor and vulnerable as, bluntly, birthing machines.

But I believe the real objection comes from the fear that we’re putting a distance between mother and child. Traditional surrogacy – that which takes place in the United States – is expensive and fraught with legal complications. It will likely continue to be the rare exception, restricted to women unable to give birth the old fashioned way. If, by removing the barriers of cost and legal complexity, off-shore surrogacy becomes a more popular option for the hard-driving professional woman, are we stretching the cord of motherhood to a breaking point?

Originally published November 2006
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