Monday, November 30, 2009

bossa nova

I watched the HBO rock 'n' roll hall of fame special last night and it was a true blast from the past, as it should be. About half-way through I realized that I had seen almost all of the big namers live in concert at one time or another. Which must mean I'm almost as old as these geezers or I used to have a bit of fun. Let's stick with the second choice for now, shall we?

It was an HBO special in the way that the cable channel used to have specials when hardly anyone had cable and the channel was trying to sign people up with the lure of a once-in-a-lifetime event. Every time you thought that the big act on stage must be the finale, another bigger rock legend would hit the stage. I was wondering for a moment when they started talking about Roy Orbison if I should prepare myself for a Lynchian ghost moment, but it turned out to be another Springsteen duo/duet.

I'd like to watch it again and tape parts of it, not all—chacun à sont goût as they say en francais. No offense to Aretha, but her segment gave me time to take a bathroom break, and Annie Lennox, who I love on disc, has never thrilled me live, I'm afraid. In fact, it was when Annie was doing her less-than-amazing thing that it occured to me that I have seen a lot of these folks live.

I saw Annie open for Sting, who I've seen live many times, who played with Stevie Wonder, who I saw at the Obama concert, where I also saw U2, James Taylor, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne. Browne I also saw many years ago as a teenager at the No Nukes concert while on a class trip to D.C. Simon and Garfunkle I saw in Central Park and Lou Reed at The Bottom Line. Ray Davies I saw in the same venue, Madison Square Garden, and in much better voice and spirits fronting The Kinks. I saw Mick Jagger in an elevator once...

So not only was it fun to listen to, but I was enjoying my own six degrees of concert bacon, so to speak. I'm not sure if how the concert was edited for HBO was how it was actually performed, as it seemed a little clunky when they brought out Sting once, then again later, and then did the same thing with the Boss. Not everyone always hit the right note every time, but hell, it's rock 'n' roll. Highlights included Sting + Stevie reaching Higher Ground, Bono, Bruce and Patti Smith doing Because the Night, Bruce and Sam of Sam and Dave doing Soul Man and Bruce and Billy Joel having fun being bridge and tunnel doofuses. Hell, it was Bruce's night. I've never been a huge fan, mostly because he comes from my old stomping grounds the Jersey Shore (I was born in Neptune, N.J.) and it was assumed that you were automatically a Springsteen fan at birth. I can't remember a 7-11 wall from my childhood without "Springsteen Rules!" graffiti on it. I've never been much of a joiner, so I tried to avoid that particular fan club. But it's impossible to grow up in Jersey and not know the catalogue, or the names Clarence Clemons, Nils Lofgren, Little Steven, etc. I will admit to loving 10th Avenue Freeze-out. Who doesn't?

So all in all, a good musical time, the Boss included, although I more highly recommend my "director's cut."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

a hard habit to break: NaBloPoMo


November is NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting month. The month is rapidly winding to a close, so I thought I should write about writing. I first heard about NaBloPoMo last year, on my friend KellyO's blog. I took the challenge seriously, and started posting daily. I later extended the challenge to the blog I began to manage at work, Smithsonian Libraries.

Blogging and writing has become a big part of my life. Some days all I can summon up is the energy to post a snapshot. Other times I stay up late, full of ideas, writing posts to get me through the next few days or rest of the week. Sometimes I read something on a friend's or stranger's blog that inspires me. Sometimes I carry around a pet peeve or the germ of an idea for weeks before it gets translated into a post. A lot of the time I compose a post while taking a shower at night and then try to get it all down before I go to sleep.

Blogging keeps me busy, makes me think, makes me more open, more creative, hopefully makes a reader laugh or respond in some way from time to time. It keeps me in touch with far away friends and with what's going on in the world, or at least the internet. It's a brain dump, a sounding board, sometimes just a cry in the wilderness. It could be a springboard to longer pieces, or just a daily note to myself. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

day at the museum

Black Friday wasn't even on our post-Turkey Day horizon. We decided to visit the Smithsonian instead. First stop, a show at African Art by artist Yinka Shonibare MBE. I loved the headless sculptures, almost anti-tableaux vivants. The staged photographs, inexplicably not in his Dutch wax fabrics, seemed very late-80s, early-90s to me, and not in a good way. Ditto the films. I'm an artist, and I love movies, but I have to say, that artists should not do film. They invariably come out slow, boring and repetitive, all features that are antithetical to the forward motion of celluloid. No matter how many Turner prizes you receive, if someone suggests you should expand your already interesting oeuvre with a foray into film, please, just say "No."

On to the American Indian museum and another look at Brian Jungen. This is still one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. It's ingenious, of-the-moment, ambitious, and good to look at. With these two shows and the recent acquisition and installation of the Roxy Paine sculpture in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden, DC proves that there is definitely interesting art to be found in the nation's capital.

Friday, November 27, 2009

by heart

There are some movies that I find myself talking along with, the lines forever emblazoned upon my brain. Are they the greatest movies ever? Well in some cases they uncontestedly are (Singin' in the Rain, Young Frankenstein), and in some cases there are those who might argue the point (Wayne's World, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Clueless), but they are all precious to me.

Here's a mixed selection of great lines I'll never forget from some of the films listed above and a few other completely brilliant movies I purposely didn't mention, just to see if I can stump you.

Can you guess which film birthed which line?
And I cayn't stand'im.

So okay, I don't want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don't get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair - ew - and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we're expected to swoon? I don't think so.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

This is information retrieval not information dispersal.

Whatever I am, he made me! I was adorable once, young and full of hope. And now look at me! I'm this short, fat, insecure, middle-aged THING! I made you short?

"All we are is dust in the wind," dude.

You were having cheer-sex with him!
Can you get me off the hook, Tom? For old times' sake?

Parfait's gotta be the tastiest thing on the whole damn planet.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Does the word "duh" mean anything to you?

Go, and never darken my towels again.
Duke, let's go do some crimes. Yeah. Let's go get sushi and not pay.

I stick my neck out for *nobody*!

You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent!

Why don't you just kill him? I have an even better idea. I'm going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.
Chin up. Right, both of them.

If it's a concussion, you have to keep her conscious, okay? Ask her questions. What's seven times seven? Stuff she knows.

Then you and Victor were... YES. YES. Say it. He vas my... BOYFRIEND.

Come get your ice-cream! Come get your tootsie-frootsie ice cream!
Meet the greatest actor in the world! I'd rather kiss a tarantula. You don't mean that. I don't ?—Hey Joe, get me a tarantula.

Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

A wed wose. How womantic.

Good luck with your layoffs, all right? I hope your firings go really well.

Cindy, you know by tattling on your friends, you're really just tattling on yourself. By tattling on your friends, you're just telling them that you're a tattletale. Now, is that the tale you want to tell?

Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool!

Where ever you go, there you are.

Hello? There was a stop sign. I totally paused.

I once thought I had mono for an entire year. It turned out I was just really bored.

Bogus. Heinous. Most non-triumphant.

Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape.

Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her. So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive? No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.

Gosh, you've... really got some nice toys here.

Alright, we have a piper who's down. It's alright, he's just pissed. We have a piper down, I repeat, a piper is down!

I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

How's the Italian food in this restaurant? Good. Try the veal, it's the best in the city.

My! People come and go so quickly here!

It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever.

If I hold you any closer I'll be in back of you!
There is a name for you, ladies, but it isn't used in high society... outside of a kennel.

NO! Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!
Courtney, this is not a democracy, it's a cheerocracy. I'm sorry, but I'm overruling you.

Why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots?

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Oh. Where you going?... Oh, you men are all alike. Seven or eight quick ones and then you're out with the boys to boast and brag. YOU BETTER KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Oh . . . I think I love him.

But, you're *not* a girl! You're a *guy*, and, why would a guy wanna marry a guy? Security!


I'm very, very aware... that you are seeing other agents. And I think it's good that you are. Finally, I mean it's healthy. But, this is the thing. If you decide to sign with me, you're gonna get more than an agent. You're gonna get three people. [Holds up four fingers] You're gonna get an agent, a mother, a father, a shoulder to cry on, someone who knows this business inside and out. And if anyone ever tries to cross you, I'll grab them by the balls and squeeze 'til they're dead.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking. . . Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking. . . Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. . . Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.

You know how you said before, how your parents use you to get back at each other? Wouldn't I be outstanding in that capacity?

That was a pre-emptive "sh!" Now, I have a whole bag of "sh!" with your name on it.

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

How can I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?

All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported.

I don't know you. I don't know your work. But I think you are a genius. And I am never wrong about that.

Am I nuts? Something's wrong with his feet. I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but you're right. He's got two left feet.

Don't call me stupid. Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape? Apes don't read philosophy. Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it

Peanut butter, it just fills the cracks of the heart

Hans, Bubi, I'm your white knight!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

the devil wore Macy's

I recently shared an article on facebook about an owner of a New York restaurant who treated his employees like dogs. A typical restaurant boss, according to my friend Steven. Reading the short article where the guy actually tried to excuse his behavior reminded me of similar New York employment experiences, outside the restaurant field. I have also recently read The Devil Wears Prada, a roman à clef set in the fashion industry, which also brought back less-than-stellar New York employment experiences, which led me to wonder: is it the milieu or the geography that inspires such bad attitude? So Steven, here goes . . .

Every boss is an asshole, at one time or another. It goes with the territory. I've worked for my dad (who drove me nuts), I've even been a boss. There are unpleasant moments. You have to fire people sometimes. Sometimes you're not interested primarily in your employees—your needs come first. But there is something about the fast pace and higher stakes that is life in New York that causes some folks to take such asshole behavior to a whole other level. As if New York and their own ambitions justify—well, just about anything.

When I first got out of art school I purposely avoided jobs that had any artistic bent—I wanted to keep my art pure. A job was just for earning money, making friends, paying the rent. So I mostly worked retail, and in the 80s that meant fun and funky fashion like Canal Jean Co. or Reminiscence. In a job like that you mostly see the crazy boss behavior from afar—temper tantrums, buyers getting chewed out, elaborate lie detector set-ups to reveal a known thief who's part of the boss's family—pretty much Godfather-lite.

A few years later I was experimenting, making movies, so I thought maybe I should try working at a film company. I answered an ad and was immediately hired at Troma Films, home of the infamous Toxie, the Toxic Avenger, if you follow really bad independent film. Critics have always been affectionate to Troma, which I've never quite understood, but I guess it's due to Troma's wholesale embracing (at least on film) of their work's mediocrity. But behind the scenes they were deadly serious—about making money and expanding their empire. The bosses were always freaking out, but it was usually hard to figure out exactly why. It was the first job where a boss made me cry. I have no idea now why he yelled at me or even what he said. All I can remember was that I knew I would quit, because no one had yelled at me like that since I left my father's house, and if I would no longer put up with that from him I sure as hell wouldn't take it from someone who made films I wouldn't ever want to see. I do remember two highlights of that job. I actually was the representative of the company at a film screening of their latest release, Girl School Screamers. The fun part was watching real critics come in and watch the movie, shake their heads in disbelief, and laugh. The not fun part was having to sit through the movie. The other fun memory was a lunchtime screening of a reel of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World by a co-worker who collected 35mm reels of really great movies. I never could understand why he stayed, film geekdom aside, as he was at the frequent end of a tantrum. Maybe that sort of behavior doesn't bother some people as much. Maybe they think they have to take it.

The other nightmare boss that comes to mind was a part-time job I took many years later at a downtown legal temp agency. Not a good time. This brand of a-holishness was more indirect, but no less lethal. It became clear after a day or two that the entire staff was completely cowed by it's boss, a woman who was sole proprietor, built the business from scratch (or possibly a payout from a divorce?) I didn't stay long enough to hear too much gossip and she was rarely in the office. She owned an apartment a few doors down, and kept constant tabs on her employees, frequently harrassing and haranguing them on the phone to get more temps placed in more jobs. The girl who was training me one morning covertly wrote down on a company stationery pad that we were being listened to—the boss bugged the office. I was at first perplexed, and then amused by the situation. What purpose did that serve? I imagined her, in her fancy apartment, tied to her intercom system, waiting to hear somebody slack off. Sad. But the girl and apparently other employees were genuinely intimidated, so I guess her tactic was successful. The girl had figured it out one day when she got off the phone and the boss called immediately and ask her an "uncanny" question about the client who had just called. I also remember one of the agents, a jolly sort, who convinced me to rent Glengarry Glen Ross, insisting that I'd love it. I guess he felt he was living it. The end of this job came for me a few days before a Thanksgiving vacation I had planned (and the boss had approved). I was suddenly told the afternoon before I was supposed to leave that I would have to cancel my plans, she'd changed her mind, I would have to work. A display of extreme power. I said no, you already approved it, I have plane tickets, I'm going. She said if you go you're fired. I said fine. Happy Thanksgiving!

This was the job most like The Devil Wears Prada and why I never could have written it. I never would have taken that amount of crap from Miranda Priestly. I have always respected my employers, but will never be abused by one. There is nothing in New York or anywhere else, for that matter, that warrants that sort of behavior. The book had many, many flaws, but it's supreme one seems to me to be how far it falls short of the movie version. This of course has a great deal to do with Meryl Streep, who actually takes the character beyond the petulant, childish behavior I've outlined above and outlines a method to her madness. The movie isn't great, but it has one great scene which almost justifies Miranda's over-the-top behavior. Sadly, the folks mentioned above were neither Meryl Streeps nor even Miranda Priestlys. The devil is in the details.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

this is not an ad

I always take a late lunch and might spend it strolling 'round the Mall, grabbing tea at Starbucks, shopping or running an errand, doing a little reading (or blogging), maybe even viewing an exhibit.

I'm a creature of habit, but the habit can encompass more than one Starbucks location, reading spot, museum - you get the picture. It's aleays fun to add another option to the tea-time arsenal.

I'm surprised but happy to report that the McDonalds at Air & Space can provide just such an option in less-than-stellar weather. I'm not a coffee drinker, but their hot chocolate is hot and sweet (what more can one ask) and although this may or may not be the Smithsonian's most visited museum (Natural History claims the same distinction) there are still enough seats to go round.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

dangerous when wet

I can't believe the number of people (numbskulls?) walking around with no umbrella, wearing only hoodies or less. Does no one listen to the weather report? Or at least take a look at the sky? All you have to do is look up at the Hirshhorn or Air and Space and see that the buildings are soaked, too.

I can see getting caught in a surprise shower - it can happen to anyone. But it has been raining steadily, and these are folks visiting the National Mall, where its museums are happy to sell rain gear. Just one more thing I just don't get about crazy humans.

Monday, November 23, 2009

dressing and undressing Barbies all day

Grandma comes Tuesday for a Thanksgiving visit, so most of Sunday was spent trying to whip my daughter's room into shape, where she'll be staying. I tried to combine operation clean-up with a bit of junk-shedding and trash-throwing. We were moderately successful. A few toys and clothes are set aside for donation. But it seemed like the majority of my time was spent helping squeeze Barbie hands through very small arm openings in assorted gowns.

pix from last July's Barbie convention in D.C.

Putting things away, in a specific place, so that you might find them again, is definitely a new concept for my daughter. She was treating some of her dolls in what I felt was a distinctly shabby fashion, so we tried to clean them up and organize all the bits and pieces. Some have been relegated to "display only" until she can prove that she actually remembers to land things back into the drawer that's provided.

Sometimes I feel like a hard-ass, trying to push concepts of responsibility and organization on a kid a few months shy of turning six, but then I think back to my own childhood. My mother always cleaned my room. We were definitely spoiled in that regard. I wasn't a very messy kid, but you'd never have known one way or the other, as she pretty much straightened up after me. I don't have the time or the patience to do it all for my daughter. Plus, if she can learn this concept, I think she'll end up being much more self-sufficient when she ends up living on her own or with others someday. Yikes. Did I even type that?

No, I'm not that nutty - Barbie clothes for sale at last July's Barbie convention in D.C.

When I moved out of my parents' house to the dorm at Parsons the first semester was actually a shock. I quickly realized (as did the savviest and not-so-nicest of my roomates) how sheltered I had been from my very new experiences with basic stuff like sharing kitchen chores, etc. Luckily, I adapt quickly and have a strong inner core, so I was able to navigate my way through the perils of New York City as well as the even scarier aspects of sharing living space with five other young women.

So hopefully, keeping Barbie and her clothes together and separate from stray Legos, a packet of McDonald's apple dippers that were never eaten (ewww), and a thousand crayons and scraps of paper will be a lesson for the future. And not just Mommy saying those dreaded words, "Let's clean your room."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

525,600 minutes

Measure in love.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

happy birthday, pop

Joseph Francis Periale
Check out the tie. It doesn't get much spiffier than that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

sweet potato pie

The kindergarten class had a pre-holiday pie party this evening, with offerings ranging from sweet to savory. I'm happy to report that our offering (courtesy of Safeway) was a huge hit. Since I've moved below the Mason-Dixon line I have come to love sweet potato pie, more than pumpkin pie. Yes, I'm a Yankee. But you knew that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


In my unending search for alternate curse words (to employ mainly while behind the wheel) it recently occurred to me that twerp might be a good choice, as opposed to jerk, idiot, or worse. Twit is also a contender.

Any other suggestions?

I know I first hear it from my dad, who may also have been looking for less colorful language. Not sure I buy the Tolkien association offered by Wiktionary. That seems altogether too twerpy to believe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

fingerless gloves

Winter's coming. There's already a touch of brrr in the air. I've never really been a fan of fingerless gloves, as they always said "Bob Cratchit" or bad revival of Oliver! to me. But now with being out and about in the cold, but still wanting to tap and slide and do myriad things with my iPhone, I finally get why fingerless gloves might be a good idea...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

because we need a little Xmas, right this very minute

Yesterday the kid asked if we could put up the Xmas tree. I couldn't come up with any reason to refuse. Lately it has felt as if the world could use a bit more light.

By the way, sorry for the earworm. I actually loathe the referenced song, but like a genre I never listen to, country music, which sounds unbelievably profound when you are broken-hearted, the sentiment of this particular holiday ditty seems especially apt at present. As a friend opined earlier today, the world can always use a little more joy. So, joy to the world my friends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

jumpin' Jehosaphat

I'm still having fun going through the family genealogy. One of the most interesting aspects has been reading all the (exotic to us now) names. Thanks to the Internet Archive, Google Books and some enterprising 19th century genealogists who published books on a few branches of our tree, I have been able to, with confirmation, trace us back to circa 1589.

Not bad, huh? I'm more interested in the actual stories and personalities than the "how far back can she go" aspect to this hunt. From A history of the Starr family of New England, from the ancestor, Dr. Comfort Starr of Ashford, County of Kent, England, who emigrated to Boston, Mass., in 1635 ; ... (1879):
JEHOSAPHAT STARR, brother of Dr. Comfort, left a will, dated Feb. 2. 1659. recorded in Canterbury, Eng., in which he says: " I give my wife Mary all my lands, barns, etc., situate in the Parish of Willesburough in Kent, now in the occupation of Edward Watson, also 32 acres of land in Ashford in the occupation of John King, also 32 acres of land in the Parish of Ruckinge near Romney Marshes, and after her death to go to my dear brother Comfort Starr of Boston, and after his death to be equally divided between Samuel, Comfort, Elizabeth, Benjamin. Jehosaphat, John [probably Josiah], and William, children of Thomas Starr, and Elizabeth, Judith, and Liddia, children of John Starr." Also legacies " to John, Elizabeth Ferniside, Mary Maynard, and Comfort of Carlisle, Eng., sons and daugluers of Comfort Starr, and his grandchild Symon Eire &c." "To my brother Joyfull Starr all my land at Appledore." Also bequests "to my sister Constant, the wife of John Morley of New England, to my sister Suretrust, the wife of Faithfull Rouse of Charlestown in New England, to my three servants, &c."
Comfort Starr is a common name in this branch, dating from 16th century England through 19th century New England. I also find interesting the mixture of biblical names such as Jehosaphat, mixed with names that express virtues, such as Comfort, Constant, Faithfull and Suretrust. It is also not always immediately obvious whether the person is male of female. I also love the line in Jehosaphat Starr's legacy, "all my land at Appledore." Somehow modern legal documents are not quite so poetic.

Of all the biblical names that you could give a male child - Samuel, Joseph, Mark - why Jehosaphat? And what about that phrase, "jumping Jehosaphat"? World Wide Words has an explanation. King of Judah Jehosaphat has also turned up in art:

I'm on a personal and intellectual journey, one thing leading to another...I'll keep you posted on who or what next strikes my fancy...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

it may have stopped raining...

...but it doesn't really feel like it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

one after 909 - October

Last month's photo assignments from our photo club One After 909 were:
  1. the color orange (but nothing natural, like pumpkins)
  2. fall colors
There were some great photos taken by everyone in the group. Two of my favorites that I contributed were:

orange spurt

makes me think of Mary Poppins

It's nice to be thinking like a (visual) artist in my off-time, too. I guess you never really stop "looking," but structured looking helps.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

great-great grannie owned a pub!



She was a publican, sixth from the bottom, also apparently a Shropshire lass...Go Manchester!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

happy anniversary...

...happy anniversary, happy anniversary, HAPPY anniversary!

Besides being Veteran's Day, November 11 was also my parents' anniversary. Something about Armistice Day sharing a date with a wedding anniversary always struck me as humorous; ironic. Here is a photo of them celebrating a night out in New York City:

mom & dad

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

hello gorgeous

This is the most gorgeous fall in DC that I can recall since I've lived here. Sort of takes away the sting. Almost. Today's afternoon retreat - the Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden.

Now I finally get "ornamental" grasses

Leaf lady

A bit o' Balzac

Barry Flanagan, always a fave.

Monday, November 09, 2009

back to black

When I lived in New York, I had a very black-on-black wardrobe. In fact, there were few incursions of color, apart from the occasional gray—maybe some patterned blouses or dresses. Black was, and still is, the urban uniform. And some insist that it's slimming, but that optical illusion only exists for the few moments you are standing looking in the mirror, I believe.

After my daughter was born, one day as I was doing the laundry I noticed that one machine was full of happy bright colors and the other machine was, well, black. There was also quite a bit of brown, a color which I added when I moved to D.C. I wondered why I was letting such a boring palette rule my wardrobe. I wasn't thinking I should opt for the rainbow colors of my daughter's clothes, but the difference was visually jarring. So little by little, color invaded my closet—mostly blues of the cerulean variety, which really look good against my skin, but also some wine colors and some green. I was expanding my color horizons.

A few years later and every time I went shopping, what I seemed to find that appealed to me in design, also happened to be black in color. For a while I avoided the impulse, feeling that black might be bad luck, or should only be worn by an old Italian widow. But lately I have succumbed— and have indulged in a few new wardrobe items that I must admit, I really love.

I also have to admit, however, that there is something to the color/mood aspect of all this new black. There are things happening to people in my life right now that I am not so happy about, and wearing black seems to suit the tone and mood of my surroundings. I no longer fear the color, feeling that if I wear black I might jinx myself or someone—and I haven't shunned my peacock blue, either. But on a dark day, sometimes I just want to get a shade darker.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

is it strange to have a crush on...

...someone no longer alive?
“I got started dancing because I knew it was one way to meet girls”
Last night I was flipping channels and landed on An American in Paris. It has never been one of my favorite Gene Kelly movies, at least I have always told myself that, much preferring Singin' in the Rain. On the Town is always fun, too. But after the kid was long asleep I stuck with it, just past this part or that number that I remembered that I really loved—Embraceable You (just how Kelly holds his shoulders in that dance with Leslie Caron is amazing), Stairway to Paradise, etc. The cap to, and truly, excuse for the entire movie is the spectacular end piece by Gershwin. The concept, costumes and set design to bring to life paintings by Dufy, Rousseau and Van Gogh is wonderful, but my favorite section would have to be the one set in Toulouse Lautrec's Moulin Rouge. Not only has Kelly never looked sexier (except maybe in that fantasy scene from The Pirate), but the lighting and make-up of the extras in the scene are spot-on. Someone did their homework to create art from art. Wonderful.

No offense to his pal Sinatra, but I would have loved to see Gene Kelly in the movie version of Pal Joey, the role he originated on Broadway. Apparently MGM prevented him from appearing in the film due to contractual blah-blah-blah, so we wuz robbed.
“I wanted to invent some kind of American dance that was danced to the music that I grew up on: Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart and Irving Berlin. So I evolved a style that certainly didn't catch on right awaybut I had some good mentors in New York who encouraged me.”
There is always something a little dark to Kelly—a quality, besides his fantastic form and athleticism, which contributes to his sexiness. The character of Joey Evans in Pal Joey is basically a jerk. In American in Paris Jerry Mulligan is on his way to becoming a kept man, who finally chooses love over fame to run off to an uncertain future with Leslie Caron just in the last few moments of the film. In one of my favorites, It's Always Fair Weather, his character defines cynicism—and tap dances spectacularly on roller-skates. He was the Bogie of movie musicals. Or, according to Kelly:
If Fred Astaire is the Cary Grant of dance, I'm the Marlon Brando.
Musicals are an idealization of the world, and there is something that just brings a smile to one's face when watching someone sing and dance and express the big emotions with all the color, costumes and back-up dancers. Kelly did all that with style, muscularity and intelligence—and he could speak French! Sigh. At least we can still enjoy all that life and energy and dark emotion on film.
I never wanted to be a dancer. It's true! I wanted to be a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Apparently Kelly was also a big New York Yankees fan.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

saturday is my day

A "what I love about DC" shot:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

different era, different band

I was listening to a new Green Day song on the radio this afternoon, 21 Guns.
Do you know what's worth fighting for?
When it's not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away
And you feel yourself suffocating?
It's good. It's wistful, a word which doesn't immediately come to mind when trying to describe Green Day's music.

The song brought to mind another song , by another band (once called the only band that mattered), The Clash—The Guns of Brixton. That song is about as far from wistful as you can get.

When they kick out your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

Joe Strummer might sneer, but hearing 21 Guns made me wonder if the Clash's 80s were a more innocent time than Strummer or any of us thought. It was no walk in the park—we had to deal with Reaganomics and apartheid and were just beginning to really hear about AIDS
when Combat Rock was climbing the charts—but we still could rebel against a society which seemed to have a strong foundation, no matter how screwed up, or how much we disagreed with it. There was "the system" and we could fight it, make art about it.

The last decade brought in a political regime so twisted at its corewith its response to horrors like 9/11 and policies formed which resulted in military actions that risked lives and made little sense (declaring war on one nation and then forgetting about it to attack the "weapons of mass destruction" of another, Guantanamo Bay, for starters) that "the system" was revealed to be weaker than ever suspected; unsupportable. You can't make music like The Guns of Brixton in such an environment. It's redundant. It would only make everything more shaky, more tenuous. But maybe the fact that no one heeded The Guns of Brixton led to the last decade's politics.

I'm wondering if artists had to adapt a mellower approach, as a coping mechanism, to deal with their environment. There was no punk rock. And even the most critically acclaimed bands, like the White Stripes (a stripped-down duo), Coldplay (sometimes too laid-back) and Radiohead (this generation's Eno & Gabriel) were not in-your-face politically in content or persona. Did Bush kill punk? Just add that to the list of atrocities.

Green Day has always patterned itself after the most excellent Clash. At times the comparisons have seemed too forced, even annoying. But this song, with its different tone, different approach, has brought them closer to their idols than ever before. They are making music of the moment.


Hideki 2 + 2+2

Andy Pettite


It's Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez

Jeter, Damon, Posada (and the rest)


Time to bask in the glow