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Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

One Female Soldier's Story, (With Thanks To All Soldiers), On Memorial Day

In the military, women on May 31, 2010 at 9:15 am
The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Expedient ...

Image via Wikipedia

From O magazine, a powerful story of Ashton Goodman, a young female soldier who served in Afghanistan, and who died there:

Under leaden winter skies, nine air force and army soldiers, bulky with gear and weapons, waited on rain-darkened gravel near tan, mud-splashed Humvees to begin the drive north to their small forward operating base (FOB) in Panjshir Province. The youngest, Air Force Sr. Airman Ashton Goodman, 21, stood beside me in camouflage uniform with pistol, carbine, knife, heavy boots, and helmet, explaining that as a vehicles “op” (short for vehicle operator dispatcher), she maintained and drove Humvees, Land Cruisers, “whatever has wheels.” She added that she couldn’t wait to drive one of the newer Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected all-terrain vehicles, a paleolithic-looking monster built to survive roadside bombs, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and ambushes. A former supply truck driver on mine-infested roads in Iraq, Goodman was about two months into her new deployment in this relatively peaceful, “model” province.

Established in 2005 by combined American military, civilian, and NATO forces, the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), working closely with the Afghan people, was responsible for diverse humanitarian efforts, from medical clinics and vaccination programs to schools and engineering and agricultural projects. Although at the time its 70-member team was the smallest of the 26 PRT sites throughout Afghanistan, FOB Lion was considered a showcase. I was going there to write about the five female soldiers on that team.

My initial impression of the diminutive, blue-eyed, athletic Sr. Airman Goodman that bleak afternoon at Bagram was of a wholesome G.I. Jane action figure come to life. She’d missed her dream of becoming a fighter pilot, she later told me, by being one inch under air force height requirement.

I wish I’d met Goodman. I’ve interviewed female — and male soldiers; Kayla Williams’ book “Love My Rifle More Than You” offers a searing look past the headlines to the gritty (no showers) life she lived. After she returned home, she and her husband, a fellow soldier, suffered from PTSD and TBI, traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts, caused by the explosions of IEDs. Coming home sometimes offers little peace.

I once interviewed the father of a soldier whose helicopter had toppled off a mountaintop, killing all aboard. When he answered my call, he offered to email his son’s eulogy, which he was in the middle of writing. Until you speak to a soldier or their loved ones, the personal cost of war can remain something distant and abstract, a photo or a story or something on TV.

Their collective sacrifice is invisible to most of us, and extraordinary.

Thanks to all who have served, and still do.

Hey, Rich Kids! Work Retail, Learn The Value Of A Dollar. Not.

In behavior, business, parenting on May 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm
A Range Rover car is pictured in central Londo...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife

This is the sort of story that makes me want to throw a chair. From today’s New York Times:

Steven D. Hayworth, chief executive of Gibraltar Private Bank and Trust, is thrilled that his daughter will be working this summer at a women’s clothing store before heading to college in the fall. It is not the particular job that pleases Mr. Hayworth. Rather, he is hoping his daughter will make the connection between how much she earns each day and what that will buy.

“As a parent who has worked his whole life and has had a little bit of success in my career, one of the huge life lessons I learned early on is the value of a dollar,” said Mr. Hayworth, whose bank is based in Coral Gables, Fla. “Particularly for children of upper-middle-class and affluent families, there’s no perspective on value. When the new Range Rover pulls into the driveway, there’s no concept of how many hours of hard work went into owning that vehicle.”]

Unlike many collegebound children today, Mr. Hayworth’s daughter would have had no worries if she had not been able to find a job. She could have spent the summer by the pool knowing her parents had the money to put her through college.

I’m finishing my book this month, a memoir of working retail in a national chain of stores for two years and three months, part-time, for $11/hour. However much little Miss Hayworth learns from slumming it for a while on the sales floor, I doubt she’s going to learn “the value of a dollar” from crossing over to the dark side of the cash wrap

She doesn’t need the money. She’s taking work away from someone — maybe one of the millions of workers over 40 or 50 or 55 who can’t even get a job interview in their field or industry, even with decades of experience — who does.

Yeah, a little rich kid showing up to please Daddy is going to fit in just great with a group of co-workers who know the value of a dollar because they count every single one they earn. They may have many kids or be single moms or be putting themselves through college or, as were three of my colleagues, be working retail despite a prior criminal record, making it really tough to get any job.

Rich kids think work is sorta cute. Something to do before they head off the Hamptons for the weekend or start Harvard med school or head off on Mummy’s yacht.

A Range Rover costs $78,425 to $94,275. At a median national retail wage of about $8, she’d be working full-time for five years if she didn’t, like people who really need her job, have pesky stuff like rent, food, car  payments, insurance or student debt.

In the world of investment banking, $78,425 is pocket money.

You want to teach kids what a Prada/Range Rover/pair of Manolos really costs? Send ‘em far away from home, so they’re paying the real cost of housing and commuting to that job. Make sure it’s the only job they can get. Make ‘em stay in it for a full year, including the holidays.

They’ll still have no idea — because they’ll be too tired to shop and too intimidated to go into a store full of expensive shit they can’t afford. Many of our customers drove Range Rovers. They were some of the most spoiled, nasty, entitled people you could imagine.

I worked retail with two kids, both in their early 20s, one of whom stayed barely  three months who was clearly from a well-off family. Not an unpleasant guy, but his sole raison ‘detre was scooping up as much of our product at the healthy employee discount as possible. The money, as anyone working retail knows, is low and the work both physically and emotionally grueling.

Playing poor is an insult to those who really are. Playing poor is no joke to those earning poverty-level wages selling overpriced crap to the rich.

She won’t last a month — because she won’t have to.

Mirdles? Men Discover The Joys Of Shapewear

In Fashion, men on May 30, 2010 at 10:12 am
girdle

Image via Wikipedia

It had to happen — men and Spandex have become best buds thanks to ‘shapewear’, a tidy euphemism for girdles, corsets, anything you wear beneath your clothing that sucks you in, holds you tight and makes you look sleek, trim and smooth.

Until the moment of truth when it all has to come off. Reports today’s New York Times:

“We are selling them as quickly as Spanx can make them,” said Nickelson Wooster, the men’s fashion director at Neiman Marcus, which was until recently the only department store carrying them. (This month Spanx for Men arrived in Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, and at Web sites like freshpair.com.) “Men may not be talking about it, but they’re buying it.”

Men’s “shapewear” is “the next big thing,” declared Michael Kleinmann, the president of Freshpair, which sells underwear to both sexes. Already, compression garments from brands like Equmen and Sculptees, to name two, have been selling briskly.

Eighteen months ago, when Freshpair got Equmen’s compression T-shirts, “we sold out,” Mr. Kleinmann said. Men’s torso-enhancing T-shirts are part of a revolution in men’s underwear that has been taking place over the last decade, he said. Another popular but hush-hush product is profile-enhancing underwear, which he called “the equivalent of a push-up bra” for men.

The success of Equmen, an Australian label, is one reason department stores and online retailers have been eagerly awaiting Spanx for Men. At Saks Fifth Avenue, Equmen has been sold for less than a year and has already become one of the store’s best-selling underwear, said Eric Jennings, vice president for men’s fashion at Saks.

Women who wear Spanx know the ins and outs of a garment that squooshes all the jiggly bits into a likeness of someone who actually hits the gym more than the remote. They do work magic, but try getting into one! Then…..try getting out again.

The dilemma, for those who are single and dating, is whether or not to wear Spanx on a date you think might end up with the removal of clothing for frisky purposes. A pretty bra, front-closing — cha-ching! A pretty bra, easily unhooked from the back with one hand, workable. Shapewear? Not so much. Even being seen in acres of flesh-colored nylon and its shimmering sausage effect — deeply unerotic.

It’s hard enough  to peel yourself out of this stuff, but someone else? Someone new, breathless at the very thought of the encounter to come….and now it’s wrestling with Lycra time.

Best to disappear for a few discreet minutes. Remember the moment when Bridget Jones is discovered wearing granny pants?

Manhattan — With A Cane

In cities, travel on May 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Bleecker Street, the old one — the bit that runs east-west is the place to be. Many benches, like every block. Two lovely little pocket parks right at 6th. Avenue. Whew!

Being able to sit down and rest is a blessing, and a rare one in Manhattan. It’s either that or fall to the pavement, not a good look.

Everyone was nice, wishing me the best, wondering why a relatively young-looking woman is clicking along with a cane; the arthritic hip is out of control, a knife twist almost every hour this week, so I finally said the hell with it and took it with me into the city today. Now carrying three kinds of pain relief in my bag: patches, cream and gelcaps of Advil. So fun.

The city is full of tourists for the holiday and lots of sailors in their gorgeous, crisp whites because it’s Fleet Week. Plenty of street parking as everyone flees — I waited for 10 minutes while some poor local wrestled a surfboard onto the top of his already-crammed minivan — to claim his West Village spot.

Distances, certainly in the Village, aren’t far so I managed to have lots of fun within a six-block radius: found a summer cologne for the sweetie at Avignone, a terrific old, privately-owned pharmacy; bread at Amy’s; coffee and tea from my favorite purveyor, Porto Rico; a haircut; lunch at Cafe Angelique and an Asian dinner at a sidewalk table.

Baby? What Baby? We Have A Baby?

In Crime, parenting on May 29, 2010 at 10:47 am
Sleep Like A Baby

Forgettable? Really? Image by peasap via Flickr

Maybe this is why I didn’t have kids.

Two stories from today’s New York Times on people who forget they have babies, one from South Korea, one from the U.S.. In South Korea, Internet gaming addiction is a national problem:

Neither had a job. They were shy and had never dated anyone until they met through an online chat site in 2008. They married, but they knew so little about childbearing that the 25-year-old woman did not know when her baby was due until her water broke.

But in the fantasy world of Internet gaming, they were masters of all they encountered, swashbuckling adventurers exploring mythical lands and slaying monsters. Every evening, the couple, Kim Yun-jeong and her husband, Kim Jae-beom, 41, left their one-room apartment for an all-night Internet cafe where they role-played, often until dawn. Each one raised a virtual daughter, who followed them everywhere, and was fed, dressed and cuddled — all with a few clicks of the mouse.

On the morning of Sept. 24 last year, they returned home after a 12-hour game session to find their actual daughter, a 3-month-old named Sa-rang — love in Korean — dead, shriveled with malnutrition.

In South Korea, one of the world’s most wired societies, addiction to online games has long been treated as a teenage affliction. But the Kims’ case has drawn attention to the growing problem here of Internet game addiction among adults.

And, from the Times’ automotive section:

INFANTS or young children left inside a vehicle can die of hyperthermia in a few hours, even when the temperature outside is not especially hot. It is a tragedy that kills about 30 children a year, according to the National Safety Council.

Making the deaths all the more tragic, perhaps, is that many are a result of forgetfulness rather than neglect, occurring when distracted but otherwise responsible parents or caretakers inadvertently leave a child in the car.

Newspaper articles and campaigns by safety advocates had brought some attention to the problem, but its visibility grew when a March 2009 article by Gene Weingarten in The Washington Post Magazine, “Fatal Distraction,” asked whether the mistake of forgetting a child in the back seat of a car was also a crime. The article won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing…

Janette Fennell is the founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, a safety advocacy group based in Leawood, Kan., that focuses on issues involving children and automobiles. In a telephone interview, Ms. Fennell made her view clear, saying she believed that carmakers must develop reminder devices to warn drivers if a child is left behind.

I’m not buying this. Now the car has to remind you you have kids? That’s the car’s responsibility?

You accidentally cook your baby — the Times‘, typically obliquely and too-politely calls this “hyperthermia”, — in the back of your vehicle on a hot summer’s day because….you forgot s/he was there?

Babies travel in carseats. Those carseats are heavy and bulky and demand your full attention as you buckle and strap your baby into them, and into your vehicle. When you exit the vehicle to do your urgent errands on a hot day, wear the baby in a sling or put the kid(s) in a stroller and remove them from the car. This is complicated? Yes, it takes time and energy. You chose to have kids, right?

If you’re so tired you forget you have a baby in your own vehicle, you’re in no shape to be driving. Nothing you need to get in a car with your kids and drive to obtain is that urgent — drugstores can deliver medicine and you can buy food and do your banking on-line.

How, exactly, do you forget you have a baby?

Road Trip! A Top Ten List, Plus Mine — And Yours?

In travel on May 28, 2010 at 5:18 pm
Life Is A Highway

Image by Matt McGee via Flickr

I love road trips!

Here’s a fun list of America’s top 10, three of which — Arizona, Maine and The Blue Ridge Parkway — I’ve done.

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30, growing up in Toronto and Montreal, where public transit was safe, cheap and plentiful and where the taxi drivers knew me by name I splurged so often. So I had some seriously pent-up consumer demand by the time I did get my license, after learning to drive in Montreal, en francais. It’s a city of aggressive drivers and many hills, so learning stick on a hill in the dark in French was good prep.

I didn’t have much of a jones to do road trips in my native Canada because the distances are so often exhaustingly enormous, certainly if you’re on your own. You can drive for 12 hours in Ontario and still be in…Ontario. After six or ten hours of pine trees, enough is enough.

Some of my favorite road trips have included:

Montreal to Charleston, S.C. with my then boyfriend, later husband, (then ex.) It’s a long, long way and I was still learning how to drive, so had an interesting moment trying to shift gears at 60 mph on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We camped some of the time, stayed in some hotels, ate a very good meal at Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, where I ended up covered in mosquito bites from eating on the (lovely) terrace. If you love architecture or design, Drayton Hall, near Charleston, is one of the nation’s most beautiful early homes, whose construction began in 1738.

Montreal to Savannah, Ga. with my Dad. We visited small coastal towns like New Bern and Oriental, N.C., winding down backroads fragrant with night jasmine and the Great Dismal Swamp. It is large and, on a rainy gray day when we drove across it, was dismal indeed. If you’ve never been to Savannah, it’s well worth a visit.

Santa Fe To Taos, aka The High Road, with the sweetie. We stopped in Truchas where the sweetie explored a Buddhist temple while I waited outside — where a dog bit me on the ass. Never before, never again. The drive is gorgeous.

New York to Charlottesville, Va. I did that trip in the spring of 1995 in my red convertible and spent a whole $500 for a week’s solo adventure. I loved historic spots like Harper’s Ferry and Shepherdstown, the oldest town in West Virginia, was intrigued by Monticello and often, as I drove through the hollows of West Virginia, felt as though I were lost in a Thomas Hart Benton painting.

Taxco to Acapulco, with my Dad. Driving in Mexico is its very own brand of adventure. We ran out of gas somewhere rural and my Dad, pointing to a hacienda down the dusty road, said “You speak Spanish. Ask where the nearest gas station is.” I remember getting a bad electrical shock in the pretty tiled bathroom in Taxco and loving the dirt-cheap pension in Acapulco Dad remembered from a trip 20 years earlier.

Perpignan, France to Istanbul, with Pierre, a professional truck driver I was writing about. Eight insane, amazing, scary, unforgettable days. Pierre didn’t speak a word of English and we slept in the truck in two narrow, tiny bunks. We didn’t shower once the whole time because hotels cost money and that was — then — the only place to get a shower. So we wore duty-free cologne and perfume we bought at truck stops in Bulgaria. Our gas was siphoned out of the truck while we slept in Yugoslavia, just as he had predicted it would be.

We were pulled over by an irate cop in Bulgaria who shouted at me inside the truck cab and demanded I roll out all my film to expose it. I was so grungy by the end I begged Pierre to let me wash my hair; on a windy day in a parking lot in Romania (maybe Bulgaria) he held a plastic jug full of water over my head while I lathered up. My skin still broke out from constant road dirt.

I’ve never seen a truck go by since without a thumbs-up of respect for their tough, important job. Best road trip ever.

What’s been your best — or worst — road trip?

Wanna Sell Lots Of Books? Hire Actors And Pay Them To Laugh Publicly At Your Wit

In business, Media on May 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm
Photo taken on April 29, 2010 in Paris shows 1...

I LOOOOOVE your book. Really!Image by AFP via @daylife

Seriously.

This just in:

she auditioned 100 actresses and hired 40 to fan out across the city and burst out laughing in public while reading her book. The actresses are being paid $8 an hour, a source said, and will hit high-traffic areas like the Red Steps above the TKTS booth in Times Square. Belle says it’s like in India where people hire professionals to cry at their loved ones’ funerals. “I’m hiring actors to laugh at my book.I’m hiring actors to laugh at my book,” Belle explains. “Publishing is no laughing matter these days.”

Hahahahahahaha.

I am leaving out her name because…I can. Give me a break.

As Book Expo America winds down this week, more things to think about for all you aspiring authors.

Here’s a recent story about book videos. Yup. Those, too. From The New York Times:

Literary publishers and writers tend to roll their eyes at book trailers, the short videos intended to promote new books. So much so, in fact, that one book blog, MobyLives, recently started a contest for the “Best and Worst Book Trailers,” to “spoof the fact that the book business too often looks to the movie business as a model,” said Dennis Johnson, the founder of MobyLives.

The winners of the Moby Awards were announced last week. Mr. Johnson said the organizers were surprised to find that there were some decent videos in the bunch.

Dennis Cass, the author of “Head Case,” won the award for best performance by an author, for a 3-minute, 20-second video featuring his end of a cellphone conversation about what he is — or is not — doing to promote the release of his paperback.

“I never did a Web site,” he says in the clip, trying to sound cheerful. “No, I know, I know, you need to have a Web site. I know, everything has a Web site. You’re right, and I don’t.”

Once my second book is published, (spring 2011), I’m going to: make a website, get a haircut, Tweet (I’ve been ordered to). You know, be normal. Yes, I’ll bug all my friends to help it and me get publicity and reviews. We all do. It’s the price of being friends with ambitious writers.

But this?

I am not going to hire and pay people to pretend to like my damn book.

Living In France — Ooh La La Or OMG?

In cities, travel on May 28, 2010 at 9:09 am
Map of official départements and régions of Fr...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a long-cherished dream of mine to move to France and live there again, now and/or in retirement, should that lovely day arrive. On one of our very first dates, being my usual reticent self, I told the sweetie — then not the sweetie but a new beau — that this was my plan and, should things work out, I hoped he’d come along. He, being as focused as I, told me he intends to visit Tibet.

Last night we took a baby step — un petit pas – as it were, towards this and sat for an hour at Alliance Francaise with about 200 others listening to two lawyers and two realtors tell us what it’s like to buy and own property in Paris or the provinces. The Manhattan realtor, bien sur, owns both.

Sobering little session that was!

I’m still trying to decide which part I found most French, the Napoleonic dictate that every child associated with a home’s owner (wedlock, schmedlock) can stake a legal claim on it after your demise or the fact that these said kids could force the surviving spouse from the marital residence. Thank God we don’t have kids!

As the lawyers droned on, usefully, I kept thinking of Balzac and Flaubert every time he mentioned the notaire, the government functionary necessary — in addition to the lawyers and the realtor and the person, who in Paris knows each arondissement (official neighborhood, 18 of them) well enough to find you something within them.

I first visited France the summer I was 17, with an impossibly glamorous month in a villa on the Cote d’Azur rented by my uncle, a well-known British entertainment figure. It’s all pretty much downhill from there! Kidding. I spent the happiest year of my life on a journalism fellowship, with 28 others from 19 countries, from Togo to Japan to New Zealand to Brazil, based in Paris. Years later, I could turn on RFI (Radio France International) and hear my friend Olivier da Lage.

We learned, then, that if you are having a bad day or a headache or cramps do not go to the post office or the bank, where blank-eyed officials will ignore you at their leisure or make you fill out many pieces of paper. The notion of “customer service” is an American idyll. The park? Don’t sit on the grass or someone wearing a whistle will toot at you to get off it. The stores have signs in the window entree libre — you are free to enter.

And what else would you do?

On a small monthly stipend, I lived in a teeny single dorm room in Cite Universitaire. Their website is pretty sexy, but sex? Hah! I was then in my mid-20s and had been living with my boyfriend in Toronto for years, but men in your rooms was interdit.

I was summoned one morning by a furious woman official demanding to know about the clandestins (snuck in) men I’d had in my cell, sorry, room. I had a number of lovely beaux that year, but never brought them upstairs. Nothing better than a false accusation, complete with that very French brand of official outrage, en francais.

I spent the best five days of my life tootling around Corsica on a mo-ped, which I wrote about for the Wall Street Journal. I was moving, in a blessed, once-in-a-lifetime ascent, from one job to another, with a serious raise, within two weeks of getting canned, so needed a fab five solo days. Corsica is it! I stayed in a hotel on the rocks and the sea, smelling the salt through the large, 19th. century windows. I got caught in a blinding rainstorm (eyeglasses don’t work in rain on a mo-ped), and wheedled a garbage bag to wear and prayed a lot — in the middle of a lightning patch, there I was surrounded by electricity pylons. A Corsican man with, of course, a huge boar’s head on his wall that he had shot (in the French dictionary, the word macho may be the same as Corsican), introduced me to the most spectacularly haunting music I’ve ever heard — the a capella polyphony of I Muvrini, a wildly popular Corsican group.

I feel bien dans ma peau — deeply at ease — in France in a way I never have in my native Canada nor in the U.S. Can’t explain it rationally. I value what they value: luxury, great food and wine, family, intellectuals, arguing (see: intellectuals), journalism, thinking, beauty, symmetry, elegance. You don’t gulp junk food at your desk in France. When we visit Paris and I eat croissants every morning and ice cream and dessert, I still lose weight because I walk 4-6 hours a day.

The sweetie fell in love with Normandy on our visit in November 2008. I loved Brittany, but it rains too much. The sweetie loves to golf. I dream of running some sort of antique-hunting tour for Americans who don’t speak French. Who knows when or if we’ll realize this dream — as we headed home, he said “I wish we worked in other industries”; journos even at their top of their (print-based) game, make less than first-year corporate lawyers. I said: ” I wish I had a real job with a real salary.”

Buying property almost anywhere costs serious coin. But, in the meantime, our kitchen is a shrine to Paris — filled with 18th. century engravings and my own photos and maps. As I type this, I look above my Mac at a poster of a drawing by Sempe, “Fin septembre, 6 heures du matin, Paris.” A cat crosses the street at dawn; the metal garden chairs are lined up neatly, the street lamps are still on. (I can’t find the accents on my keyboard, sorry.)

My American mother met my Canadian father in Eze, a hilltop village in the south of France. I think it might be genetic.

The Next Step — For T/S And Me

In Media on May 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm
Forbes building in NYC

Forbes building. Image via Wikipedia

Is not yet clear.

True/Slant will change for good after the end of June when Forbes takes over. We had two conference calls this week with Lewis Dvorkin, T/S founder who made the sale and is now going to run the next iteration of this site.

I want to keep writing as I have been here since July 1, 2009 — with a growing audience, terrifically smart and fun followers and the freedom to say whatever I think needs to be said.

We own our own content so if I move this site — and I will give you plenty of notice when and where to find me — archives are also accessible.

Frankly, it’s been a week of a blizzard of calls and emails: between me and fellow writers here; colleagues elsewhere concerned for my future; scrambling, now, to replace the steady income I earned here by accumulating 10,000+ unique visitors every month since January.

My focus right now is: 1) write for the next month, here, as always; 2) finish my retail memoir, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” (whose potential cover design I saw this week and loved!) 3) figure out what place, if any, my interests and skills may have with Forbes’ version of this site.

I have never been happier as I have writing here. Mostly, right now, I’m — as the British satirical magazine Private Eye loves to say — a little “tired and emotional.” (That’s their euphemism for drunk.) Nope.

Just….trying to make sense of what’s just happened. We (the T/S writers) simply don’t have a lot of information right now with which to make any sudden or definitive moves.

I hope you’ll stick around for a bit, and, if I do wander off, that we’ll continue the party elsewhere. It’s been an amazing experience.

This Kick-Ass Athlete Isn't Skinny (And Wears $1,000 Heels)

In sports, women on May 26, 2010 at 11:58 am
HAVRE DE GRACE, MD - JUNE 09: Christina Kim (U...

Image via Wikipedia

Love this profile of pro golfer Christina Kim, from The Wall Street Journal:

It’s worth noting, as always with Ms. Kim, what she was wearing Monday night: a low-cut black sheath dress, spectacular jewelry and lacy, high-strapped, 4-inch René Caovilla heels which must have cost at least $1,000 when she bought them in Dubai last December. “They’ve even got sparklies on the bottom,” she told an admiring cluster while demurely balancing on one shoe to show off the sole of the other. A few minutes earlier she had smashed a few 250-yard drives on the range at Chelsea Piers, just behind the party room, wearing said impossible shoes.

The title of Ms. Kim’s book, appropriately enough, is “Swinging From My Heels: Confessions of an LPGA Star.” Written with Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck and structured as an account of her 2009 season, it’s just the kind of saucy tell-all you’d expect from perhaps the Tour’s most flamboyant personality…”I’m loud, I’m not thin and I say what I think. I’ve got a bunch of good friends among the Koreans, but it’s complicated.”

She’d already earned her first million dollars by the age of 19. I love her ambition, talent and determination to be her own woman. In a world where some women start reaching for Botox and Restylane in their 20s, and spend more energy wrestling with body issues than actually doing sports, Kim’s not afraid to be herself, at any size.

(Doing anything athletic that requires accuracy well in high heels is tough; I once trained on a Glock 9mm at Quantico, FBI’s headquarters, in three-inch heels.)

A talented female athlete who’s loud, not thin, kicks ass both on the golf course and in rhinestone-studded four-inch heels? Bring it on!

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