Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stag Party! (Or, The Fiction Department)


Last night was my company's holiday party. Before I qualify that, since I'm a self-employed designer, I have a story to back up said party:

A few years ago, deep in the throes of working for myself, someone asked me if I ever wanted a staff to work for me. I chuckled at the thought and promptly made up three employees on the spot to avoid answering the question seriously:

Darcelle Dardelle - my slutty and non-effective personal assistant;

Naomi Klein - my bitter and angry accountant; and...

LaDawna Marie - my transsexual intern from F.I.T. (sometimes known as New York's Fashion Institute of Technology - most often known as its colloquial counterpart "Fags In Training").

So, anyway, last night was our Annual Holiday Party. Darcelle, citing a "like, so boffo bonus deal" she got from her weekend employer, booked us a bottle-service table at Manhattan's luxe super-strip-club SCORES. LaDawna was thrilled. I was hesitant. Naomi was mortified. "Good thing you can't afford a legal staff," Naomi sniffed. Needlesstosay, after six or seven bottles of vodka, we all dropped into the experience and had a blast.

Darcelle, whose lengthy, silicone wrapped fingernails are so long she can neither type or answer a telephone, got us all discounted lapdances from her girlfriends/weekend co-workers. Naomi's earlier mortification turned into a ribald bisexual persona; she left early with several of the strippers' trick cards stuffed into the elastic waistband of her poly-blend slacks.

Much to my dismay, LaDawna admitted she'd swing across the Kinsey scale for Darcelle. Before I could say "sexual harassment awareness training video", Darcelle and LaDawna were kissing feverishly. Darcelle admitted she'd never been with a post-op male-to-female (she's had several female-to-male lovers, evidently), so she wanted to give it a whirl. I left before I found out if Darcelle and LaDawna were going to fully consummate their lust/love.

Of course, none of them showed up to work today.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Screen Ablaze (Or, And Introducing...)

And I am telling you...I'm so onboard the hype train today. I saw Dreamgirls last night at the Ziegfeld (yes, I was among the early gay and/or black and/or female and/or theater freak urbans who paid $25 for a single ticket) and all of the talk and buzz is to be believed, wholeheartedly:

Jennifer Hudson sets the motherfucking screen onfire.

She's so good she got two standing ovations - one after the operatic "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and one during the end credits (where the audience is reminded again - this is her first film appearance). She even commanded applause breaks for single eye-rolled "shut-the-fuck-up" glances. Despite her American Idol past, she deserves every single honor heading her way.

Oh, yeah. The rest of the movie is pretty brilliant too.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Perils of High Fashion Modeling (Or, Dolores)

There's this story I often tell. It's about having a lot of grandmothers. It started when my maternal grandfather Fred got remarried about ten years ago. When I met my grandfather's new wife Grace for the first time, she sweetly asked me if I would call her "Grandma."

I had to refuse.

I didn't mean to be rude or jaded or anything, but my "No" answer, falling fast from my mouth, sounded harsh to her polite ears. I was laughing a little when I gave her my refusal, but I could tell from the astonished look on her face that I had to explain my stance.

The thing is, at that point I already had four "Grandmas". My parents divorced when I was around four years old. They have both been happily remarried for quite a long time (my mother and stepfather have been married almost 30 years; my dad and stepmother around 25) and in those new unions, I acquired more steps than a suburban split level home. I have step-everythings. I have step-relatives I don't even know about.

So, for the past 25 or so years, I have had four Grandmothers: Anna (maternal), Majel (a.k.a. "Mae", paternal), Pauline (step-paternal), and Dolores (step-maternal). They are a stalwart and whimsical set of ladies - as grandmothers are wont to be.

In my mind, there wasn't much room for Grace in this magic line-up. I tried to qualify my "No" response to her by adding - "Because you'll be number Five." This only added more confusion - since we had only just met and my Grandpa Fred wasn't exactly tuned in to the intricacies of my staircase of an extended family tree.

By the horrified look on Grace's face, it seemed she thought I was some kind of gigolo for the retired set - like I was a slutty grandson for hire out picking up wayward grandmothers at Interstate truck stops for cheap thrills, easy affection, and homemade baked goods.

I'm not sure how to transition here from the joke to the real reason I'm relating this story now - so I'll just blurt it out and back track a little:

This week, Dolores, my maternal step-grandmother, passed away in Florida after a long battle with emphysema.

She had been sick for a long time, but it was still a saddening shock to hear about her passing Wednesday night. Dolores was a sweet woman - she was something of a character. More than a decade ago, we forged a strong bond during my step-sister's wedding reception. We were both smoking cigarettes at the bar. At the time, smoking was really catching on as the worst of the worst sort of social offenses. Despite the fact that everyone at the reception was terribly drunk, Dolores and I were nearly the only people there who were smoking. So, naturally, we became each other's de facto dates for the evening.

Many months later, my stepmother told me that Dolores was always asking about me. "She thinks you're cool because you smoke." my stepmother said.

I visited Florida a few times after our bonding experience. When I saw Dolores each time, she would throw her arms around me and exclaim, "Oh, my smoking buddy's back!" and would then wisk me off to the screened in patio that she would use as a smoking lounge so we could light up.

One year, I was in Florida for Thanksgiving and Dolores' sister Nancy was visiting from Ohio. I had never met Nancy before - but immediately, I had a new Great Aunt Nancy. Nancy and Dolores were giddy as schoolgirls during Thanksgiving dinner. At one point, Nancy yelled to me across the table: "Trevor, you're so handsome. Why aren't you a high-fashion model?" Embarassed and flattered at the same time, I couldn't break it to Nancy that since the 1950s ended, there hasn't been much demand for models of my stout, stocky physique. I just nodded to her and snuck outside with Dolores for a cigarette.

Dolores was diagnosed with emphysema a number of years ago, which forced her to quit smoking. I only saw her once after her diagnosis. She had to use an oxygen tank and frequently asked rhetorically "Why can't I just smoke one more goddamn cigarette?"

I quit smoking (again) for good a few weeks ago. It was a sort of birthday present to myself. When I got the news of Dolores' death, I was out at dinner with my friend Robert. I was more than a little stunned. Since I was out in public, I couldn't really grieve fully. But, there was one thing I could do.

That night, Dolores, I smoked one last cigarette for you.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Surprising Sometimes (Or, A Turned Corner)


I went to a birthday party last Friday at Mo Pickens in the East Village. The party consisted of a large group for dinner (20 or so people) which was sort of complicated by the fact that we all had to pay a cover charge for a live band that was performing in the dining room.

I'll admit this now - whenever the phrases "live band" and "birthday dinner" mingle together, I get nervous. These two phrases, as delightfully loaded as they might be on their own, don't ever really need to get together for an impromptu shindig or hoedown or clambake unless, of course, you're in a band yourself...or your mother's an accordion teacher...or you happen to be named Courtney Love. As far as I'm concerned, "live band" and "birthday dinner" should stay singular individuals - loners and rebels - for good reason. They can be enjoyed separately in one evening or one day certainly, but both at once seems like a recipe for disaster.

Earlier that day, I was thinking about the evening ahead of me. My mind raced and looped into thoughts of dinner theaters and hammy performing and uncomfortable, required applause.

The all-day racing and looping was fortunately all for naught; the live bands (there were two) were intoxicatingly great. Their music was atmospheric and emotional and electric. As I sat there glued to the bands and their music, I was so drunk in song I could barely eat my dinner. I could only think about what an amazing act of courage it is - to get up in front of people (and their dinners, too) and create something. Performing is such a transient experience - it exists only at the moment it's being made and then it's gone. The thrill of it is in the watching and the being there. Recordings can hardly ever match the magic and the energy a performer can give a live audience.

Sometimes, despite my aging (and aged) notions about things, life can still throw surprises my way.

Links to the two bands are below...

Jamie Leonhart

Michael Leonhart

Friday, December 08, 2006

Is It Witch's Or Bitch's Tit? (Or, Heat)


Since it's now officially freezing - here are pictures I took this summer at Brooklyn's hot and famed Bastille Day block party on Smith Street.

I know it might be a bit too early to get bitchin' about the season shift (especially since the hell-on-earth known as January is coming fast), but still. It's colder than a bitch's tit or a witch's tit or a Beluga whale's teet outside today and, despite the allure of breaking in new winter accessories, I'm not feeling it one itty bitty bit - or one itty titty tit.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Some Things Are Like So Hard And Stuff (Or, Education)


I just had a birthday, so as I'm one year older, I feel more than a little entitled to bitch and moan and moan and bitch about today's youth...so here goes:

Certain antics of a certain former teen star make me wish for days when famous and talented child actors went from big Disney movies to Martin Scorsese films to French boarding schools to Yale.

Color me a snob - but what the world needs now is more Jodie Fosters. Or, at least, a Jodie Foster Clinic or a Jodie Foster Treatment Center or a Jodie Foster Talent Triage or a Jodie Foster Manage Your Stage Mother Emotionally Workshop. See, instead of muff flashing as a young adult, Jodie was quietly muff diving behind closed doors.

Yes, there's a difference.

OK, OK, OK. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking Leif Garrett. You're thinking Dana Plato. You're thinking Judy Garland (remember, I'm semi-officially old now). You're thinking - hey, for every single Jodie Foster, there's a million strung out, coked-up, pill-popped, time-serving, friend-killing, talent-wasting kid stars who grew up to be strung out, coked-up, pill-popped, time-serving, friend-killing, talent-wasted whores and thugs and who-were-they-anyways.

I suppose it's tougher to watch since it's all happening so quickly for poor you know who. Society's collective attention span is so short now, we can't even pay attention to car crashes or train wrecks for too long - they have to be wilder, bigger, badder than ever and done in five seconds flat so we can hurry up and watch the next one.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

From Russia With A Lot of Talking (Or, Our Testosterone, Ourselves)


I saw Casino Royale on Friday night. It was as joyously manly an experience as one could ever want from a James Bond film. In fact, Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, is nearly (dare I say...perfectly?) rough trade and makes Pierce Brosnan seem like a fading menopausal beauty cut from the same delicate cloth as Blanche DuBois. Casino Royale is so balls out masculine that I was even thinking at times (especially during a cock-and-ball torture scene in which Mr. Craig is stripped nude and strapped to a seatless chair) that all of the Brosnan-Bond movies (and of course, the Dalton- and the Moore-Bonds as well) were somehow sequels or prequels to Bridget Jones' Diary.

I was so caught up, I kind of didn't mind that the row behind me was littered with drunk Russians who were laughing and commenting full-voiced through every scene. Given Craig's badassedness and Eva Green's smoky eyes, there could have been a marching band practicing behind me and I wouldn't have noticed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

All Day Night (Or, Night All Day)

I know it's to be expected of this time of year, but it's been night all day today.

Well, not really night or midnight alley or midnight at the oasis or ball drops at midnight or midnight in the garden of good and evil or night of the living dead or night of the iguana or the freaks come out at night or boogie nights or it happened one night or in the heat of the night or fright night or night flight or opening night or mala noche or queen of the night or hell night or clash by night or silent night.

No, not that at all.

It's been a dusky shade of twilight all day.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Girls in Cars (Or, Cars in Girls)


Much has already been made of a certain newly divorced, fading pop-star's inability to wear panties and exit sportscars at the same time. I'm hoping and praying and praying some more that this is all part of some sort of oddly conceived master plan on her part. When you think about it, the world had to endure months of obnoxious party going on Lindsay Lohan's part before we saw her delicates (or rather, her lack of delicates), and yet we're seeing the former Mrs. Backup Dancer's party parts in just under a week.

Perhaps I'm old-fashioned. I miss the days when actresses feigned ignorance when their nether regions showed up naked and quivering on the silver screen. Nowadays (insert sound of a rocker creaking on a front porch here), it seems the making of movies or records or entertainment products are afterthoughts to the managed filth and spectacle of Hollywood "reality."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Wheeze, A Cough, A Matinee (Or, The Play's the Thing)

I just saw a matinee performance of the most excellent The Little Dog Laughed. I haven't been to a matinee Broadway performance in quite some time. Now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever been to a matinee on Broadway midweek. It was kind of a scene. Here comes the why:

I figured there'd be a lot of tourists (there were). I figured there would be a lot of self-employed single gay men (there were). I figured there would be the avid theater goers who've seen this show thrice already - not counting the previous off-Broadway run (right again).

What I hadn't counted on was the retired uptown lady factor - the serious mid-day gal dates that consist of taking in a show after a long lunch/shopping spree/manicure/gossip extravaganza.

One such four-person group lady-date was seated next to me. They were a bit agitated and loud - the loudest of the bunch was seated just next to me. She wheezed and coughed her sentences like she was out on a day-pass from internment in an iron lung. Here's a transcript of her pre-performance performance:

"Oh, my god. I didn't even look at the goddamn program yet. Here it is. Four people? There's only four goddamn people in this play? A four person play for two hours? It better be a good play if it's only four people. I mean, if it's only four people, what are they going to do? This is a Broadway show. They have to do something. What are they going to do that's so great if there's only four people? Four people..."

Every sentence ended with a coughing fit. I guess the playwright should have factored in a few extra characters, just for my new best friend Weezy McCoughalot since she belted out "This is God-awful. We're leaving at intermission." full-voiced about twenty mintues into Act One. Her three play-mates looked frightened - apparently too scared to offer a differing opinion.

After intermission, all four were gone - save one. She had an air of triumph about her, having stared down the devil in the shape of late-in-life peer pressure. As I stood to let her into our row, I have her the biggest smile of encouragement I could offer without looking completely insane.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wearing Mary Out (Or, Red Sheets of Rain)

I have some Thanksgiving stories to share, but before I can do that, there's something more pressing to address:

My winter jacket reeks of Bloody Marys.

Now, I know what you're thinking. I got heady at a Sunday brunch (it's happened before), had one or two or ten too many breakfast cocktails, and somehow expelled and then fell into a pool of my own freshly processed filth.

Sadly, such is not the case...this time.

I did have brunch on Sunday with two friends at an overcrowded, subpar French place in the Village. I won't mention where, but let's just say it's the type of New-York-in- training wheels place that newbies and fresh-off-the boats and tourists and grandmothers rave about not knowing that there are thousands of better, slightly less-subpar French places mere inches away from the yuppity hustle of lower 6th avenue.

Given the holiday weekend, we had to wait a while for seats to open up. We were finally sat at a precariously mashed up set of two two-tops that had the priviledge of being too close to the door. Within moments of being seated, one of my friends got into a faggoty uproar and demanded that we be reseated. "This is just unacceptable - this isn't even really a real table!" he welped at the hostess. After a set of exchanged eyerolls and further "This is horrible!" pleasantries, we were moved to a much more comfortable table near the back of the place. I was seated on the outside of the table and my two friends were seated safely on the inside.

(I know what you're thinking - "Safely?". Yes, that adverb is dangling there in a less-than subtle shade of foreshadowing.)

We ordered drinks - they asked for a Bloody Mary and glass of Champagne each and I ordered a simple Cafe Au Lait. The waitress disappeared for a bit longer than usual and appeared suddenly at my side. Before I could look up to watch the set of five drinks gently land on our table, I heard a crash, a gasp, and an French-accented "Oh Shit" - a demonic threesome of sounds you never want to hear in a crowded French restaurant. Slow-motion seconds later, I was covered in the always delightful combination of tomato juice, vodka, champagne, and au au laity coffee. My back and side were soaked and stinky - as was my jacket, which was thrown over the back of my chair.

I know these things happen. I know that, from time to time, one can only expect to be pelted with trays of brunch beverages in cafés you don't often frequent. It's the way the universe works. Someone was going to get drenched that day and that someone was me.

Before I had the chance to laugh it off and forgive the waitress, she nervously said "Oh - I'm so sorry. All of your drinks are on me." That statement set me down the slow burning road to fully-irate-ville. My two brunchmates - the orderers of the beverages that I was now bathing in, unscathed by the torrential downpour of tomato juice - were now beneficiaries of my misfortune. Suddenly, my soaked coat and sweater and pants were worth all of $3.50 - the cost of my singular coffee.

While the waitress fluttered away and a hoarde of busboys descended upon us to address the mess, my anger bubbled to the surface. "Just our fucking drinks?" I asked of my friends rhetorically. "They should pay for the whole fucking meal. There's dry cleaning involved." Given the near gay-armageddon my two friends invoked earlier at our seating placement, I thought they would be in full agreement with me. Oddly enough, their bitchery had evaporated. It must have been mopped up with the broken glass and booze at my feet:

"We can't ask her to comp the whole meal. She's paying for our drinks."

"Jesus, it was an accident - why are you so touchy?"

"Do you need the name of my dry cleaner?"

The lesson, I suppose, is this: when it comes to bitchery - it's acceptable to make a scene when there's no real reason to flip out. I mean, why not?

And conversely, it's completely inacceptable to make a scene when there's a real, bonafide reason dripping from your pockets, making little pools of booze on the floor while your friends are waiting desperately with the shakes for their morning drinks.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beauty In the Feast (Or, Poetry In Lotion)

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There, I've said it. It's my favorite due to one simple, glorious (yes, glorious) thing:

Food.

That's all there is with Thanksgiving, thankfully. No consumerist shams. No gifts. No Jesus. No G-d. No Allah. No Krishna. No Zeus. No Ganesha. No Madonna. No Baby Buddha unless you order in Chinese. No stress. No season change. No cards. No thank you notes. No costume. No looting. No bright colored baskets filled with bunnies and eggs and plastic grass. No disappointment. No romance. No shame. No dashing off to other events. No unnecessary inebriation. No amateur night. No passing out in a pizza parlor at 2 AM. No passing out in a pizza parlor at 2 AM without pants. No passing out in a pizza parlor at 2 AM without pants or underpants. No crying. No fuss, no muss. No need. No regrets.

Just food.

Before I get lost again in dreams of food, here's the poetry:

Today in my email in-box, I received a charming email promoting some sort of online pornography that I didn't need to see. Its subject line was:

evanston mediterranean bateau

I'm not sure what this has to do with "hot asian ladieez 100% for you!" since the title's absurdist charm has nothing to do with the subject matter (and all to do with getting past spam filters), conjuring up the image of a Greek flat bottomed boat harbored out of context on the shores of Lake Michigan somewhere near Northwestern University.

Authorship is attributed to one "Vonda Tabitha," but I have a feeling that's a pen name.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Brown Flower Power (Or, The Sweet Smell of Sexcess)

I came across this little ditty last week: Tom Ford No Fan of Soap.

Which made me do a sort of walk of fame/shame down memory lane...since I'm not really a fan of soap either: Blow Out (Or, Thighs and Whispers)

Leading to the need for this obvious and mildly inappropriate shout out:

Tom–as long as I have a face, you have a seat.

And, quite naturally: vice versa.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Dancer Upstairs (Or, I Feel the Earth Move)


Watch out, here comes Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman...

My upstairs neighbor has taken to playing music every Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 AM until midnight. This would be tolerable enough in a sort of forgiving I-live-in-New-York-on- top-of-beside-below-next-to-under-thousands-of-people kind of way, save for one detail: the music he plays is that gay culture wonder of wonders - the uh-uh-uh- dom-dom-dom- unts-unts-unts- thud-thud-thud brand of faceless, colorless club music.

Well, the thuds and thumps and diahrretic vibrations that make their way through my walls and ceiling are colorless anwyay. There might be words in these songs. There might be some sort of spoken word content (Carol Channing reading the collected works of Allen Ginsberg, for instance) over the heavy, droning beat. Hell, for all I know, there might be unicorn doing the merengue in lead soled cha-cha heels up there with him.

I do know the "music" starts early and ends late. I also know it's a seamless affair - no matter how long I'm gone from the apartment, the thuds and grunts and moans and deadened chortles of noise are still pumping when I return.

Of course, instead of bitching about it here, I should just go up and ask him to turn the volume down.

Unfortunately, I can't do that.

I'm karmically bound not to.

See, earlier this year, my next-door neighbor took issue with me for playing my music too loud and I, like a schmuck, brushed him off as being too sensitive.

"Move to Connecticut, " I thought. "This is New York and you have to deal with it."

Pure brilliance on my part. Clearly.

Once, we nearly got into an altercation when my music was too loud for him. He knocked on my door, I answered, and we exchanged heated (yet, entirely polite) words. I caved and agreed to turn the music down to a level that he could tolerate.

I went back into my apartment and turned down the offending music in question: Carole King's album Tapestry.

Yes, that's what was playing when I was "busted" by the neighbor. Go figure. (I nearly had an aneurysm when he said "I really don't like Carly Simon").

Now, whenever I hear "I Feel the Earth Move" I wish to Hell that's what was clobbering its way through my ceiling every Sunday morning.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ellen of Troy (Or, The Less Than Gay Divorcee)

I'm not quite sure why, but this recent item from Page Six (via Gawker.com) had me tickled pink:

Ellen Barkin threw a glass of water at her ex-husband, Revlon mogul Ron Perelman's face and called him a "wifebeater" at the Waverly Inn.

I'm a huge fan of Ellen Barkin - and I'm happy to see her back in her element, rightly where she belongs: being one hell of a broad.

Hopefully, all the cash she made from selling Perelman's jewelry will keep her comfortable enough to focus on her craft.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bring Home The Bacon (Or, The Second City Sex)

I live across the street from the offices of a group called NEW (Nontraditional Employment for Women). NEW provides training for women in a variety of industries - including the building trades.

Thank you for indulging that set-up...

Two summers ago, my friend Jessica stayed with me for a week. Jessica lives in Chicago and is as sapphic as they come on the girly end of the spectrum (wink, wink). Anyway, one day a bunch of women from NEW were taking a cigarette break outside their building - (Remember the set up? this means they're outside across the street from me so if you looked out of my window, you'd see them. Duh.) and Jessica got very excited. See, the NEW women are a sexy, rough and tough looking lot, with their tool belts and Carhartt work pants and Timberland boots and all. (Of course, I had to refrain from using any other term but "women" in that sentence. As catchy as saying "the NEW gals" or "the NEW ladies" or "the NEW broads" sounds, if I said anything close to that to any one of them, my ass would certainly be the greenest grass you ever did see).

Seeing all this butchdom got Jessica all hot and bothered.

She asked, "What's going on there across the street?"

I replied without much thought to word choice: "Oh, it's some getting women to work program."

"Like that's such a problem," Jessica snarled.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Hero Never Dies (Or, Sucker For It)


I'm a sucker for shitty movies. I'm a sucker for good ones, great ones, greater ones, greatest ones, etc. - but there's nothing like the predictable thrill of a shitty movie.

Of course, in this day and age, shitty movies tend to hide out. They've sought refuge from their B- and C- and D- movie parentage under the glossy sheen of high production values and masterful cinematography and action-sequence set pieces.

It's all drag, really.

I watched Transporter 2 (also known as Le Transporteur II) recently on a rainy weekend afternoon. Despite knowing exactly when and where things were going to happen (oh, she's the one he'll sleep with at the end of Act II, just before the shit hits the fan; oh, those three thugs are so dead in five seconds; oh, that car is going to stop an inch short of going over the edge), I was sucked in - entirely. A lot of it had to do with the gruff and rough and roguish allure of its star - Jason Statham, but more of my captivity had to do with the comfort of its features.

Sure, there were car explosions and ass-kickings and face blows.

Sure, there was canned dialogue, hammy performances, and a plot that was seated far to the left of implausible.

But, my mind was way out the window, down the street, and trying to concentrate - and the rest of me sat gleeful, occupied.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Redemption of One Ms. Cruz (Or, One Mo' Betta Blue)

In my blue state delirium last week, I forgot to add this to the list of the early Christmas gifts the universe has on offer this year:

• The Redemption of Penelope Cruz via Volver.

Of course, I already went on and on and on about seeing Volver in Berlin - but I didn't go on and on and on again after seeing it again in Spanish with English subtitles. As with all of Almodovar's films, Volver was better the second time around - the references to Mildred Pierce and Two Women and The Rose Tattoo cut in stronger relief. At one point, which I suredly missed the first time around when my mind was working over time in translation, The Rose Tattoo is even seen on a TV screen in passing. All that aside, Volver should be/will be credited for bringing Penelope Cruz back from the brink of oblivion.

Anyone who's had the misfortune of seeing Sahara knows exactly what I mean.

I've tried three times now to watch Sahara on cable - and all three attempts were aborted due to an unexpected feeling of frightened boredom. There's nothing redeemable about the film - nothing funny/bad to hang on to for dear life, no characters worth caring about, no plot to giggle at - just a swirling shitstorm of forcefully executed blandness. And, alas, Ms. Cruz is one of its stars.

I could go on and on...but I'd rather let my love of her in Volver blot out all of that instead.

There's also the matter of her becoming something of a go-to beard in Hollywood - dating the likes of Tom Cruise and (is-he-or-isn't-he-with-that-body) Matthew McConaughey, but I'll quit while I'm sort of ahead.

Luckily, Almovodar yanked her from absurdity back to what she does best: cooing the spanish language and v-v-vamping appropriately.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

D-I-V-O-R-C-E Y'all (Or, Mama's Panty Crickets)


Jesus H Christ y'all...when did Saturday Night Live get funny again?

Which Craft (Or, The Process)

ACTRESS: I just want all my fans to know that, like, I'm so not like the character I play in this movie. I mean, I am her age, and she does look like me, but we don't have that much in common personally.

INTERVIEWER: Interesting. How so?

ACTRESS: Gosh, there are so many: she's from L.A. and I grew up in New York...um, she likes dogs and I'm allergic.

INTERVIEWER: What about the character's lifestyle? Was that hard to relate to?

ACTRESS: Oh, yeah. Totally. She's so different from me.

INTERVIEWER: Really?

ACTRESS: She's, like, out all the time, like every single night. That's so not how I live.

INTERVIEWER: Oh?

ACTRESS: I only go out during the week.

INTERVIEWER: I see.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Trials of a Bachelor (Or, Keeping Track)


An exchange from some time ago with a former boss:

BOSS: How do you know Charlie?
ME: I met Charlie through my ex-wife.
BOSS: Oh, you mean [X]. I didn't know he knows Charlie.
ME: He doesn't.
BOSS: Oh?
ME: I should have clarified: I meant my first ex-wife knows Charlie.
BOSS: (laughs) I see.
ME: [X] is my latest ex-wife.

CUT TO: much later...

EX: Have you been to [blank] for dinner?
ME: Yes - on a date. Guess who with?
EX: Please, no.
ME: C'mon, guess.
EX: I don't know...[A]?
ME: No.
EX: [B]?
ME: No
EX: [C]?
ME: Are you kidding? It's so easy. Who would like that place?
EX: [D]?
ME: What? No way.
EX: (sighs) Enough already. This could go on all night.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Requiem for the Sears Portrait Studio (or, Come Back to the Five and Dime, L'Oreal Studio Line)


As much as I miss the intoxicating hair volume and the glorious layers of 1980s fashion, I miss the high-quality studio portrait in front of the dappled teal and taupe backdrop even more.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Misplaced Masterpiece (Or, Shaking the World)


Reds is finally out on DVD. I watched it over the weekend in its entirety - after years of seeing bits and pieces of it here and there on random cable channels. (Turner Classic Movies tends to show it late at night - which, given the film's three-hour plus run time, makes it next to impossible to see.)

I have to say: it's astounding. The details of the story are hard to relate without a sea of hyperlinks, footnotes, and references. I'll just say this: for an epic that spans the globe and chronicles the Russian Revolution and the real lives of Emma Goldman, John Reed, Louise Bryant, and Eugene O'Neill, it moves at a very brisk pace without ever sacrificing content or story.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

He-Brand (Or, Something in the Way He Removes)


Please excuse the needless and self-indulgent banality of this statement:

I am brand-loyal to Brawny Paper Towels.

I'm not sure why I am or when I became such a committed Brawny customer. I'm kind of a promiscuous shopper in regards to all other household products and sundries. I alternate between being a cheap john and cheap whore when it comes to shopping at Duane Reade or Rite Aid or Eckerd or CVS: if something's on sale, I'll buy it (cheap john) and if something's in an attractive package, I'll buy it (cheap whore).

But Mr. Brawny, I'm kind of married to.

If I need paper towels and he happens to be taking a sabbatical from the "paper products" aisle - I'll go without for a week. If other brands are on sale - even at ridiculous discounts or offered with alluring gift with purchase teases ("free case of beer with purchase of one roll of Viva!"), I refrain and pay extra for the broad-shouldered man in the flannel shirt.

I'll admit I was saddened by his recent "make-over" - especially since his former mustachioed hot-stud-in-the-Castro-circa-1978 look is now creeping up within striking distance of being a bonafide trend.

I guess it all comes down to this: I'm stuck on the absurdist and alluring appeal of the brand's tactics. Knowing that there's a team of MBAs tucked in a corporate campus somewhere obsessing over Mr. Brawny's image - dissecting his sex appeal, his target market, his perceived strength, his ongoing battles with Viva and Marcal and Scott and Bounty - just kills me.

I'll keep on buying as long as he's smiling and beefy and outdoorsy (three brand attributes I wouldn't ever associate with a paper towel), screenprinted as he is on that cellophane wrapper.

Certain Teutonic Scenes (Or, What the Kraut Saw in the Mothership)

Three random photographs from Berlin, August 2006.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blue Christmas (Or, Halle-Fucking-Lujah)


I have been giddy all day - like I was an 8 year old (gentile) on Christmas morning. After watching the world spin out of control for the last six years, the following got stuffed in our nation's stocking just last night:

• The Democrats take the House, a majority of Governorships, and 5 Senate seats (so far).

• Notorious scuzzball/dickhead Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania finally gets what he deserves:
unemployment.

• Rummy (a.k.a. the lost sociopathic love child of Goebbels and Eichmann) gets the boot, taking his clenched smirk and shitty squint to better pastures - most likely, to a bowel irregularity research facility.

• After finally putting down the Cheetos and washing her hair, Britney Jean Spears dumps her baby weight and baby daddy for good.

And, finally, the world rights itself.

Hallefuckinglujah.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Headstrong (Or, Getting Heady with the Waitstaff)


Sunday night I ate dinner with my friend Rob at a great Italian place that's just around the corner from my apartment. Rob's birthday was last Friday, and, due to the unfortunate side effects of, um, aging, we were still hungover from Friday's festivities on Sunday night.

I'm all for the benefits of getting older - of which there are too many to count. I like the process: the growing sense of wisdom and purpose. However, hangovers are quite another story. In my twenties, I could get drunk and be something resembling fine the very next morning. Now, hangovers linger. They move in for a day or two or three. They bitch and moan and don't want to leave, no matter what you do.

Anyway, back to dinner. There we sat, a little disoriented and wondering why we just didn't order in and veg out in front of bad T.V. instead (a surefire, albeit gradual, hangover killer). The older couple sitting at the table next to us were vaguely Russian - they were animated and lively, so we kind of paid too much attention to them because we didn't have the energy to drum up anything close to barely interesting conversation.

The couple had ordered Branzino - a large striped bass that's served whole. The waitress presented the fish to them, head and tail and all, covered in salt. The woman clasped her hands with glee and the waitress then took the fish away to be filleted in the kitchen. When the waitress returned with the newly dismantled fish, the woman yelled in two fast spurts:

"GIVE HEAD!"
"HE LOVE HEAD!"

She meant the fishhead, of course. The waitress apologized for her mistake (operating under the assumption that most people don't want the added stress and/or guilt of being looked at by their meals) and returned promptly with the head - which set off another spasm:

"THANK YOU MUCH! HE LOVE HEAD!"

I thought to myself: "Who doesn't?"

Friday, November 03, 2006

An Afternoon in August (Or, To Return)


Pedro Almodovar's new film Volver opens today in New York. I saw the film in Berlin in August, but I have to see it again today.

Walking through the streets of Berlin on a series of late September-like days, I saw posters for Volver everywhere. Penelope Cruz's gaze seemed to heat the city from all angles. Being the film junkie that I am, I had to go see it. I managed to find a times/theater listing in a local gay magazine, so I set out to see it one afternoon.

Volver was playing everywhere - but the theater I chose was in part of the city I hadn't yet ventured that far into. I chose a theater called the Kino International, located on an avenue called the Karl-Marx Allee, which fired associative connections I hadn't had to make since college (call it one of the sometimes fortunate side effects of the liberal arts education).

Walking to the theater, I passed through the more touristy sections of the former East Berlin into an area heavily dominated by Soviet architecture from the 1950s and 60s. I was mesmerized. The theater itself is a free standing early 1960s gem - its sides and front are covered in frescos depicting happy workers making films and happy socialist citizens enjoying them. I got to the theater early, so I was able to photograph the exterior of the building thoroughly.

The inside of the theater was even more intense - I had to walk through two giant, heavy wooden doors and up a dramatic staircase to a second-level lobby/café with massive windows that overlook the Karl-Marx Allee. Patrons weren't allowed to enter the theater until the film was about to start. I was awestruck by every detail of the place. The seats covered in a deep azure fabric, as were the walls and floor. The ceiling was a cascading series of ivory translucent panels that formed a massive wavy pattern. The screen had two separate curtains - one was the same deep blue of the seats, walls, and floor and the other was a glittery ivory sheath that matched the tone and effect of ceiling. The overall sensation was that of being underwater - in a deliriously stylized version of the sea.

After all that pomp and circumstance - the lusciousness of cinema as an experience that American movie goers have to take for granted in these days ofmultiplexess and teeny tiny screens - the film was a secondary but equal treat.

I have to say though, I can't review it even slightly.

Thing is, the version I saw was dubbed from Spanish into German - certainly an odd combination of sight and sound. Despite my occasional linguistic bravura, my German isn't nearly as good as I claim it to be. I was able to follow the film in most scenes where action was involved, where dialogue was contained to things like "let's go" and "can you dye my hair?" but longer scenes that involved a heavy amount of lush Almodovarian dialogue had me reeling. "Is that her mother, or her neighbor? Who is that? Why is she crying?" were just a few of the questions my limited German wouldn't grant me the answers to.

Long story short, I can't wait to see the film again.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lunch With Lange (Or, Is It a Crime to Look at Lange?)


I had lunch with Jessica Lange last week.

Of course, when I say "with" what I mean is: "nearby" or "in sort of close proximity to".

I ate lunch at a little place I'd never been to before in the Village. The lunch was uneventful enough until I got up to use the restroom. The restaurant only had a one-seater, and a passing waitress cautioned: "Oh, someone's in there" just as I was about to yank on the sole bathroom's door knob. I waited patiently and after a few brief moments, the door opened and a very attractive, and somehow familiar blonde woman exited. I looked up and awkwardly smiled at her in that "oh-hi-I'm-waiting-to-pee" bathroom ettiquette way. The woman looked at me, but didn't return the smile. As she passed me, I recognized her.

It was Jessica Lange.

My smile torqued into that blasé oh-whatever-blankness that New Yorkers don when seeing a celebrity and I went into the now vacant restroom.

When I returned to my table, I whispered to the friend I was lunching with: "Jessica Lange's here - I just saw her coming out of the bathroom." No sooner than I had done this, my friend whipped around to see her.

Just as he asked "where?" Ms. Lange walked by our table - now in long black coat and sunglasses - on her way out of the restaurant. As we sat there, trying to not gape, she lingered for a minute before walking out onto the street.

"Is she still with Sam Shepard?" my friend asked, still whispering.

Then, in a well-timed stage entrance, Shepard passed by our table too.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Note to Self (Or, the Uselessness of Memory)

It's important to take notes. I make notes to myself, jot things down, and scribble important messages endlessly on anything that will absorb ink.

Note taking is always beneficial - even the most important things have a habit of escaping my head or reconfiguring themselves in different, playfully misleading patterns when I'm not paying attention.

Sometimes my notes - however important, hilarious, scandalous, etc. they may be at the time I wrote them - don't make sense.

At all.

For instance, last winter I wrote down this on the back of an envelope:

Téa Leoni bitchslapped my baby.

At this point in time - nearly one year later - I have no idea what this might mean. Although it's got a catchy snap to it and it's got a proper noun followed by a very action-oriented verb, it's shockingly not grounded in truth. (I know, I can't believe it either.)

See, I don't know Téa Leoni, nor do I have a baby that she could have been in bitchslapping proximity to recently. Maybe I was going to write in to Star or US Weekly or Gawker.com and make a false claim for some useless, yet delightfully diverting attention ("Crazed gay fan claims Téa hurt his imaginary African orphan! Exclusive photos inside!") There is, of course, one pedestrian, anti-climactic answer - the bitchslap in question might have been a note on a scene in last year's Fun with Dick and Jane, but I'm not sure.

Regardless, this note to myself has become a semi-anthem to me. A note of empowerment, if you will. Whenever I happen to be angry or down or hungry, I say to myself:

Téa Leoni bitchslapped my baby.

Suddenly, there's an outlet for the anger/depression/craving for something creamy and fatty. Téa hurt my non-existent child, goddammit. That has to count for something.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The C-Word (Or, Druthering Heights)


At some point after college, I started answering the easy, getting to know you question "Where did you grow up?" with the one-word answer: Cleveland. It was an upgrade of sorts to my previous, more accurate response: Kent, Ohio.

Cleveland is only about 30 miles from Kent - less than an hour's drive - so it was only a slight stretch of the truth. The switch to the C-Word also eliminated the word "Ohio" from my answer. Despite the fact that Ohio is just to the left of Pennsylvania, a frightening number of Americans get confused when they hear the word spoken aloud. The multiple vowels throw some into a tizzy - reminding them of their geography quiz shortcomings ("is that Idaho? Indiana? Iowa?"), blending them into one long-I sound, cascading over one large corn field.

At the time I started using the C-Word, I was living in Boston - a place well known for being xenophobic, to say the least. Bostonians are native-born or nothing at all: they consider people from neighboring Connecticut freakish and rude (they're nearly New Yorkers, after all) and Rhode Islanders ethnic to an extreme. So, my saying "Cleveland" quickly and bluntly to the "Where'd you grow up...blah blah" question turned into a sort of defense strategy against Boston's offensive social "graces".

Say what you will about New York, but Boston is an intensely rude city. Natives don't mean to be rude, but they're frugal when it comes to the lighter emotions. They just don't throw them around, using them up for any old occasion. It's not in their nature to help themselves to the glorious, giddy buffet known to the rest of the world as politeness or G-d forbid, "being nice" for no reason at all.

For example, when I first moved to Boston, my ex and I went into the massive Lord & Taylor department store looking for furntiure. Considering the size of the store, it seemed like the kind of place that might have anywhere from several to thousands of bookcases lying around for sale.

Entering the store, I slid on my most midwestern nice-guy persona and approached the first saleswoman I encountered: a seemingly meek, sort of dusty looking gray-haired matron at one of the fragrance counters.

"Excuse me, does this store have a furniture department?" I asked. I smiled at her, giving her my best isn't-he-a-nice-boy routine.

The matron gave my ex and me the once over, rolled her eyes, and sighed heavily as if she could not be bothered. She then bellowed in a husky, whiskey-at-coffee-break voice:

"Lord and Taylor hasn't sold furniture since 1963."

She left me no choice - I had to drop the Midwestern act.

"I'm sorry to bother you," I replied. "But we weren't alive in 1963."

To prevent these sort of situations, I developed a chilly front. I learned to answer questions quickly with the least amount of detail. So, "I grew up in Kent, Ohio - where Kent State is" turned into: Cleveland.

Once I moved to New York, I still used the Cleveland answer - but something different started to happen. This started to happen:

"OMIGOD! Are you from SHAKER! I know lots of people from SHAKER!"

The "shaker" being referred to here is not a kitchen utensil or a sexy epileptic. "Shaker" is short for "Shaker Heights" arguably one of Cleveland's most affluent suburbs, which seemingly exports its entire young adult population to Manhattan every year. Even when I dropped the Cleveland routine and started just saying "Ohio", there would still be the unavoidable whelp of: "SHAKER! OMIGOD SHAKER!" on more occasions that I would have liked.

The best/worst of these six degrees of separation moments came a number of years ago at a business meeting. I worked for a small design firm at the time and a few colleagues and I were at a large publishing company for a series of design reviews. Before the largest of the meetings began, the topic of "where'd you grow up..." came up as one of those smells-of-corporate-horse shit moments as the perennially loathed "icebreaker".

Fearing an "OMIGOD SHAKER!" moment, when it was my turn to speak, I went for the most specific option: "I'm from Kent, Ohio."

Across the massive boardroom table somewhere in the sea of client faces, a demurely Midwestern voice wailed: "That means, you're a ROUGH RIDER!"

I'm sure I turned purple.

Everyone burst into laughter and suddenly I felt like everyone had a fully detailed, annotated account of my sexual history in front of them. Instead of the meeting's notes, they all had a triple-X rated booklet entitled They Call Him T-Bone: Mr. Messersmith is a Rough Rider!, complete with full-color photos and a fold-out centerfold detailing my rough ridin' technique.

"I totally grew up in Aurora, Ohio." the voice continued through giggles. I looked up to see a pert, Cameron Diazy blonde woman in her late 20s in a twin set and pearls. "We used to play your school in Field Hockey."

As soon as the room stopped spinning, I composed my embarrassed self well enough to explain that Kent's high school was named after Theodore Roosevelt and that our school mascot was the "Roosevelt Rough Rider" named in honor of the fighting crew he lead in the Spanish-American War.

The laughter in the room subsided, but I could still feel a sort of jokey hey, stud vibe in the room. Luckily, the blonde from Aurora left her job shortly after that, so I wouldn't have to bear the heat of the "get it, get it, rough rider" comment ever again.

I guess there is power in the C-word after all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Love Will Keep Us Together (Or, Love Will Tear Us Apart, Again)


John Cameron Mitchell's new film Shortbus is something of a revelation.

The movie received a lot of hype - even during its production phase - due to one thing: the actors perform live sex in the film. For this reason, I was a little wary of seeing it, since this use of XXX sex seemed like something of a stunt.

I realize now, after seeing Shortbus, that my initial reaction was born out of one thing: my own (lowered) expectations in terms of cinematic sex. Hollywood has commodified sexuality to the point of abstraction. We, as movie goers, see so much sex on screen, yet most of it is unreal and deeply unhuman. It has no relationship to us - it in fact has no relationship to anything at all (except for perhaps, a chase scene or a plot point that needs advancing).

Shortbus, while skirting around the darker sides of sex (obsession, jealousy, etc.) marches fully into the lightness, thrill, and (sorry) joy of sex. It focuses on sex's ability to bring humans together in ways that nothing else can. For that reason, watching sex in Shortbus isn't pornographic or even mildy titilating - it is wholly illuminating.

The sex isn't about sex; the sex is about salvation.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One Whole Ass (Or, Unnecessary Less-Than Pithy Witticisms)



Tuesday night I was at the end of my block, about to hail a cab. One was already pulled over at the curb at the corner, but I couldn't tell if someone had just entered it, so I looked for another to come down Seventh Avenue. The door of the waiting cab opened - a good sign, since I was about to be running late.

Two uppity, well heeled gays got out of the cab - one was screaming some rather embarassing, racially charged epithets, the other angrily stomping away. To end the tirade, the screamer grabbed his crotch and yelled: "Suck my dick and go back to India you cocksucking mother fucker!"

I wasn't sure if I should get in this newly vacant, cocksucking cab - but my lateness got the best of me.

I got in the cab and gave the driver a once over. After going through a quick mental diagnosis (was he foaming at the mouth? was he nude from the waist down? was he sitting in a pool of his own waste? was he listening to conservative talk radio?), I figured it was worth a shot.

"What was that about?" I asked.

The cab driver sighed heavily. "There was a little old lady waiting there at the corner and they pushed her out of the way to get this cab. I told them they were rude men."

My inner Midwesterner went into a wild panic: did I just double cabjack this poor little old lady?

"Um, was she still waiting there?"

"Oh, no. She got another cab. I don't like rude people, and I didn't want those assholes in my cab."

My inner Midwesterner, still cranking overtime, overtipped like an Upper East Side matron when the cab finally dropped me off at my destination.

I could only think of my sweetly altruistic cabbie: boy, do you ever have an uphill climb.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Best of Everything (Or, Giving Mildred Pierce Realness)

On exiting the gym yesterday morning, I was nearly knocked to the ground by an FBQ* doing her best attempt at the You-better-believe-I'm- beautiful-goddammit faux model stomp. Barrelling down Eighth Avenue like her ass was on fire, she was wearing a chunky grey wool sweater with huge shoulder pads belted at the waist, grey wool slacks, grey cowboy boots, and grey leather gloves. Rounding out the look was a Louis Vuitton-or-is-that-Coco-Canal portfolio clutch.

I could only imagine the inner voice driving this all-too ingenue-in-The Best of Everything attitude down the street:

"I'm going to get that job. Then, later today, I'm renting myself an affordable, furnished studio apartment. After that I'll hit the town - I'll snag an investment banker before 8. When that falls apart for the usual reasons, I'm going to have an illicit affair with my boss that I'll regret in Act Three. I am flawless. I am taking Manhattan by storm - and I just arrived this morning!"

Regaining a sense of balance after the near fall, I noticed that Miss FBQ was cutting quite the swath down the avenue, turning the heads of even the most jaded New Yorkers. Everyone from elderly ladies shuffling into the bagel shop to those waxy dudes that hand out the flyers for the newly arrived, yet highly mysterious art of eyebrow threading were dead in their tracks.

Miss FBQ stomped out of sight shortly after that. The shoulder pads and brisk sense of self were gone forever.

Now that I think about it, I should take back everything about The Best of Everything attitude.

That was all a lie.

I'm sure my dear friend Miss FBQ was really channeling something from the Mildred Pierce School of Mannered Womanhood - something a little more like this:

"I'm going to liquidate all of my assests for my bitch daughter. Later today, I'm going to turn the other cheek when she fucks my husband. After that, I'll buy her a new car because I'm afraid she won't love me otherwise. I am a successful business woman after all and I can afford these things until Act Three, when I realize my asshole husband - the one dicking my bitch daughter - has stolen all my money. Today, I am taking Manhattan by storm - if only I hadn't left my pistol in my other pocketbook."

*FBQ = Fierce Black Queen

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yes and No (Or, All Tomorrow's Parties Are, Like, History)

The first time I saw the teaser trailer for Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, I was beyond excited. The mad rush of beautiful imagery flowing over New Order's "Age of Consent" had me more than a little giddy. The combination of these elements screamed one great thing to me: someone has finally picked up where the great Derek Jarman left off.

I thought that someone had made a truly fantastic and modern mash up film about a historical figure everyone loves to hate.

A few weeks after seeing the trailer in the theater, I found it online, downloaded it, and would show it to just about everyone who came over to my apartment.

The film opened Friday - and I (insert your choice of adverb here: nerdily, retardedly, geekily) had to see it that afternoon. Twenty mintues into the film I realized my initial giddiness was all for naught.

It seems I was terribly wrong.

Marie Antoinette is a thoroughly flawed film - it amounts to a very detailed yet light account of the doomed Queen. While incredibly beautiful to watch, it lacks the kick I expected it to have (and the kick it needed to work effectively).

The film has hints of greatness (read: it has hints of Derek Jarman - but not enough of him), but it required a far more aggressive take than Coppola provides (or perhaps, was able to provide). I think that Coppola's gut instinct was right - to give Marie Antoinette a more identifiable, contemporary personality - but she lets it (and everything resembling narrative) fall short. A sort of Californian flatness (is Coppola judging her main character? is she envious? is she just into the shoes?) pervades here - as does the lack of a strong point of view.

Put another way, the insertion of one (much discussed) Converse sneaker and the use of a handful of great British pop songs from the 1980s does not equate anything close to radical cinema.

As the saying goes, if you choose to break rules, you should break them hard.

P.S. More than one reviewer has referred to the music used in Marie Antoinette as "Lots of Fun!" Gosh, now that you mention it, starvation, over-taxation, and rebellion are "Fun!" too. Too bad Coppola forgot to put those in the film...at all.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sympathy For the Devil, Part 2 (Or, That Unfortunate Business of Timing)


The "second" Truman Capote movie, Infamous, opened in theaters last week.

Much has been written about this film coming too close on the heels of last year's Capote - but the thing is this: it's much better and more accurate than the "first" Truman Capote film.

Infamous is much truer to the spirit of Capote - in all his fluttery, queeny, bitchy, hilarious, and - all too often - desperate and ill-tempered ways. The world of New York high society - in which Capote was willing court jester - is also shown here in full view - as is his deeper working relationship with Nelle Harper Lee (played - in an actual, embodied, truly character-acting Sandra Bullock).

What's most interesting about Infamous is that - despite the occasional monstrosity of Capote as an emotional extortionist and thief - it shows how deeply human he is (without judging his actions) and how he still had an alluring magnetism at his ugliest moments.

In hindsight, Capote now seems alarmingly mainstream in its stance - the artist/writer is cast and judged as the uncaring Monster, eventually devastated by achieving his goal of changing the face of non-fiction and the soulless (and gay) urbanite who only cared about himself in the end.

What that first film doesn't really show - is that artists - even at the basest level - are empathic by nature. While the intent of the artist can be called into question after the act of creation, the living, breathing process of making art - even when it involves using the lives of others as a source - is a distinctly humane experience.

Above: Hope Davis and Toby Jones as Slim Keith and Truman Capote in Infamous. Below: The real Babe Paley, photographed in Vogue in the 1960s.



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Last Tuesday (Or, Scenes from The Visitor)




I shot these photos of a film shoot from one of my apartment windows last Tuesday. After a little research on IMDB, the film in question appears to be The Visitor, starring character actor Richard Jenkins (seen in the last of the three photos here).

It was exciting to watch this - from four stories above - for about five minutes.

The amount of manpower that film shoots employ always bewilders me - there were no less than 20 crew members to shoot about 30 seconds of two people quietly talking on the street.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Languish Is The Word I Use to Describe (Or, Where's My Head At?)

So, I know.

I know this poor blog has been in "Languish" mode for quite some time.

Quite a long time, actually.

I dropped off writing regularly sometime in May, with occasional bursts of imagery here and there. The reason - mostly, is that I have been working overtime on some visual projects which are finally up and running:

www.80east.com [a new website for my graphic design business].

and

www.suited.com [a collection of artwork I've been making over the course of the last several years].

So, if you're so inclined, you can check these out when you can.

Oh, yeah.

One more thing...

I also promise to be funny again sometime very soon...

-T