One of the most popular contestants in the four-and-a-half-year run of 'America's Next Top Model' suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disorder considered a form of autism. There's a profile of her in today's New York Times.
The database at the modeling agency Ugly NY is worth a browse, both as a showcase of an array of unique faces and as an overview of the varied ways in which people who fall outside the normal idea of beauty represent themselves commercially.
The tumblelog Ugly has a brief but positive review of the film "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus" (2006), a highly fictionalized story of the photographer Arbus, known for her portraits of people on the fringes of society. This trailer is enough to entice me.
Tim Page, a classical music critic for the Washington Post and author of a recent New Yorker piece on growing up with Asperger's Syndrome, has been placed on leave by the Post for criticizing Marion Barry.
Must we hear about it every time this Crack Addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new -- and typically half-witted -- political grandstanding? I'd be grateful if you would take me off your mailing list. I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose. Sincerely, Tim Page.
Update: Page has apologized for his email outburst.
From the letters to the editor in the Sept 24 issue of the New Yorker, a letter from John Yohalem, New York City:
I enjoyed reading Tim Page's essay on living with Asperger's syndrome: the insomnia, the social puzzlement, the obsession with various subjects to the exclusion of more common ones -- all are very familiar to me. ("Parallel Play," August 20th). Then came this description: "In the late nineteen-seventies, I saw a ragged, haunted man who spent urgent hours dodging the New York transit police to trace the dates and lineage of the Hapsburg nobility on the walls of the subway stations." I was the gentleman in question; although I didn't care about clothes, I don't think I was that ragged. I want to assure Mr. Page that I was never homeless or institutionalized (as he guessed), and I got only one ticket. Mr. Page and I had other things in common; like him, I was at the première of Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians" at Town Hall. Unlike Mr. Page, I did not find this particular music's structure all-engrossing; I preferred to dance to it. At one performance of Reich's music at the U.S. Custom House, I danced alone around and around the central musicians. For someone as acutely self-conscious as I had been, this seemed a moment of glorious emergence, of living my own life in everyone else's world.
Here's Tim Page's piece on what it was like growing up with Asperger's syndrome.
So preoccupied are we with our inner imperatives that the outer world may overwhelm and confuse. What anguished pity I used to feel for pinatas at birthday parties, those papier-mache donkeys with their amiable smiles about to be shattered by little brutes with bats. On at least one occasion, I begged for a stay of execution and eventually had to be taken home, weeping, convinced that I had just witnessed the braining of a new and sympathetic acquaintance.
Of course Yohalem has a blog -- the 21st century equivalent to scribbling Hapsburg lineages on subway walls -- which has a more complete version of the above posted there.