Saturday, September 29, 2012

no line on the horizon II

Isle of Skye 2012 ... the sea is there
I know that I have written about this before, but I must return. No line on the horizon. If I were a photographer, I think that my life's work would be of such lines. I think that to best describe myself is to compare me to a line on the horizon ... the blend of elements, airy and powerful, of the sky and the sea. If I could live squint eyed, which gives the effect of this blend, I think that I would, but I am likely to bump into things more if I did ... I suppose it isn't practical. But conceptually, I can blend. Life is not black and white, at best it is gray, and more likely blurred, having the presence of all elements, and all colors.

So why again? I was singing to a friend and he said, 'oh! that's gross.' Oh, not my singing, but what I was singing ... 'I know a girl who's like a sea/ I watch her changing everyday for me, oh yeah/ One day she's still, the next she swells/ You can hear the universe in her sea shells, oh yeah.'

Oh Bono ... the Irish are pulled to the sea, captivated by it. As I've said before, when I first bought U2's last album,  No Line On The Horizon, I wore out this song, which is the first track on the album. The idea of it is so sensual ... I'm lucky that though I do not live near to a sea, I am able to travel to one. Every time that I am in the water, I feel its power ... its swell. The sea is as alive even when it is still. It constantly breathes. And to be in it, heavier than air, I can feel its pulse. Its rhythm.

Of the song, I love the line, 'you can hear the universe in her sea shells.' Any one who gathers shells along a shore knows to listen for the sound of the sea in its shells. Of course the shell is also representative of a woman, it's shell pink and pearly interior ... and in coupling, the union, the universe is heard. That blend, of man to woman, for him, is line-less, one. What's sexier than that?

The song goes on ... 'I know a girl with a hole in her heart/ She said infinity is a great place to start/
She said "Time is irrelevant, it's not linear"/ Then she put her tongue in my ear.' So we move on to the universe and its horizon ... infinite time. The idea that time is not linear is brilliant. How can time be a straight line? I know that when I am in time, it is not a minute or an hour, it's the absence of those constraints and it becomes ... living. The most tortuous device ever made by man is the clock. When the clock is there ... we're boxed. Tied in. Constrained. Shackled. Oh, I realize that the telling of time is necessary for day to day life, but I also think that it is essential to have moments when time is the horizon ... it is not one or the other, an hour or a second ... it is absorption.

And in a moment of absorption, what better thing than a tongue in one's ear ... or something like it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

an end

isle of skye 2012
flutters kick
against my insides,
yet the heart beats
the all's clear alert.

I was not in danger
of loving your heart.
the hugeness of mine
could not fill
your emptiness.

I longed 
to love you-
captured in your skin
inhaling your scent.
though dizzied,
I was not bowled over.

sometimes make believe
seems so real.
I could have pretended
for a moment longer as 
the play of the game
is the possibility
that life can be 
free and easy.

it isn't that.
I pay with hurt feelings
and a breech of 
what was thought to be
a shared impulse.

I'm left melancholy,
ego hidden.
looking to next.
not you.

fashioned classics

Vogue Sept. 2012
Two classics are being envisioned for the big screen this fall: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I have read both and it is safe to say that neither is one of my particular favorites. The Great Gatsby was introduced to me, as it was to many Americans in a high school English class. I didn't like it. The characters didn't live in a way that I imagined myself living. Be Daisy? No. Be Nick or Tom or Gatsby? No. And the scene set wasn't romantic for me. I didn't give up Fitzgerald. Not at all. I began reading some of his short stories ... an old copy of my grandmother's sat on the gold book shelves that my parents had inherited from her city apartment, and I had the good sense to pick it out and start to read. That lead me to what became an important novel for me to read ... Tender is the Night.

What I read in Tender is the Night in high school was a romantic notion of what life could be, especially if one had the opportunity to winter in the South of France. A great dreamer, I often spent time imagining the world that I would visit once I got off of the block that I grew up on. The world of the Divers was alien to me. It was just so different and seemed so elegantly paced. Time was not consumed by worries or demands. Yes, the novel is so much more than where it was set, but it is what captivated me at 17.
at the restaurant with Paula in Nice
the note that Paula left at our hotel
In my mind, the most romantic place in the world was the South of France. And that held me for many years. Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to visit. And my experiences there are exactly as I had imagined them to be. Lucky girl. One of the first times that I visited, my friend and I visited Nice to visit with his landlady, who co-shared a house in Baltimore and Nice with her sister. They would spend six-month periods in each home separately so that they could care for their ailing mother in France. Paula, the landlady, was a very interesting woman: petite, impeccably dressed, and sophisticated. She had been a ballerina in her day ... a Premiere Danseuse Etoile de l'Opera, and so was often invited to events at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. I was fortunate enough to attend several of these events as her guest when I was visiting my friend in Baltimore. Oh! those were grand events ... and the champagne always flowed. My kind of soiree. When we were in Nice, she was in town and invited us for drinks and then dinner. Her Nice apartment was what I imagined the Divers would live in... soaring ceilings, French windows, old furniture ... she served us caviar and scotch. My goodness, I couldn't have wished for any better. Me, little ole me, from State Street in Nice with a beautiful hostess eating caviar! She took us to a restaurant where we sat outside, naturally, and for the first time in my life I ate a flower on purpose! What a wonderfully tender night.

Years later, I heard that a friend of a friend read Tender is the Night every year. Hm, I had to re-read it and figure out why he read it so often. So I did. And what a surprise. The book had changed so much with the years. The setting was still charming for me, but the struggles of the characters became more apparent to me. Reading it at 17, I was naive and wasn't as concerned about the lives the characters led. I realized, for me, why the guy read it every year. I think that he connected to Dick Diver. He wasn't living up to his own expectation ... he fashioned a life rather than lived one, and discovered that life may have passed him by. I don't know if that makes sense; but Dick, he thought that he was the savior. He thought that he had it all figured out, but his mistake was to forget not only himself, but that he couldn't choose how others think and feel about living. I still love the novel, so much more so than The Great Gatsby. I think that they are similar, sure. F. Scott Fitzgerald, though, is more Dick Diver than any other character that he writes, in my opinion. 

Keira Knightly will play Anna/ Vogue Oct. 2012
I don't have any personal experience with Tolstoy. I read Anna Karenina because I thought that it would be good for me. A big Russian novel. Isn't it good for everyone? Oh dear, that was a hard one to drag myself through ... all that I got out of it was that Russian men are sort of whiny complainers. I understood, from the characters, why the revolution occurred. I didn't even find romance in the novel ... I am embarrassed to say, but none of the story really stuck. And I am at a loss for words in describing it now. So I won't pretend any longer, but what I will say ...

I am looking forward to both of these movies being delivered. As seen by the pages of Vogue, the fashion is going to be OUT OF THIS WORLD. They are going to be beautiful, luxurious films and I imagine they will have a life of their own. I think of what Martin Scorsese did for The Age of Innocence. Gorgeous! A produced visualization of a story can bring it to life. These films will become picture books, and sometimes a narrative needs a beautiful picture to tell a story.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

animal print

Vogue September 2012
I'll have one, please?!

Animal prints ... they are my thing, infused in me from years of knowing my grandmother. She was, in my childhood, the most glamorous thing I had known ... always pink nail polished, Chanel No. 5 dusted, and black mascara'd. She lived in an apartment in the city, and drove a red Mustang. Once, she was to take my brother and I on a weekend trip to the lake house that her family had owned for many years. We were so excited to go on this little adventure with grandma. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and after having stopped at her city apartment, we were forced to stay. The rain had fallen so fast and furious that most of the viaducts were flooded and she wasn't confident that we could get out. Of course we didn't mind, not at all. We got a chance to stay in the rooms that we had seldom visited in our young lives. Naturally, I thought that everything was exotic. The gold book shelves, the sofa that doubled as a bed when the pillows were removed, and the tiny kitchen made just for one were so novel. Little did I know that she lived in a studio apartment and one even at the very first years that I lived in the city, I wouldn't have dreamt to live in. But at 10, or however old I was, it was the Taj Mahal.

Two pieces of furniture of her's stuck out the most to me ... the director's chairs! Director's chairs? Yes! But the material was cow hide. Talk about totally cool ... I coveted those cow hide director's chairs and many years later, as we cleaned out the apartment after her death, I rediscovered them and claimed them as my own. I first used them in the house I rented with my brother when we were in college. I can remember having a lot of fun with those chairs. I had one friend in particular, who liked to come over, listen to records, and drink wine. Well, when enough wine got in his gullet, he would hop over the chairs as part of his dance moves. I was always amazed that he could just jump right over them. I, on the other hand, was more likely to fall backward out of one. The chairs followed me and in the first couple of apartments that I lived in in the city, one being only a block away from where my grandma had lived, until one of the hides split. Ah, it was time to buy more grown-up chairs anyway. No one was jumping over them, what was their use?

A couple of months ago in a mad clean, I found one of the seats ... intact. I'm sitting on it now! I just can't seem to part with it. And when my 8 year-old niece saw it this summer, she said, 'wow! that is so cool ... is it a cow?' Yes it is! And it is something that I won't ever part with as long as it holds together. I'll just keep repurposing it.

And so ... the purse. The chairs sparked my life-long love of animal print. Once, as a challenge, I dressed for work entirely in animal print ... dress, hose, shoes, necklace. And it didn't look bad ... oh, that was a good day. The Ralph Lauren bag would've made it even better.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


google images
The story of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor never captured me. And so it has taken me this long to sit down to watch Madonna's film, W.E. Madonna, who co-wrote the script with one of her own, Alex Keshishian, the director of Truth of Dare. The film tells two stories, one of a modern Wallie in the time of the 1987 Sothebey's sale of pieces from the Duke and Duchess's estate; and the historical report of Wallis Simpson's romance with the King of England, but from Wallis's perspective.

The parallel works for the most part ... I think that considering Wallie and her passion for the story of Wallis and Edward's romance is very real. Celebrity attracts attention because the non-celebrity looks to it to find pieces of relatable behaviors or fashion or beauty as evidence of self-value. Wallie is miserable in her life ... she's trapped in a love-less marriage and has given up anything that might have tied her to some thing that she could hold on to. Without any tether, she ties her self to the fantasy of celebrity. Ah, but that isn't a very strong rope ... as she discovers, looks can be deceiving. The part of the parallel that I thought was overdone ... when Wallie would see Wallis and even talk to her. That wasn't necessary, and it took away from any kind of magical element of connection by making it literal. The few people who have seen this film, or who will see it, will get it. We don't need a picture.
Andrea Riseborough
 google images

I don't know enough about the real-life story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, which were the titles settled on after Kind Edward abdicated, but I imagine Madonna did her homework. Wallis Simpson may have been an ambitiously social climbing girl, who bit off what appeared to be a life of wonder, and was in fact her prison. I don't know. But it isn't hard to imagine given what happens in many celebrities' lives if newspaper accounts and People magazine articles are accurate. Fortunately for Wallie, she can climb out of her fantasy and find a life, unlike Wallis who lived a life-sentence for her ambition.

I'm not sure why Madonna made this film. It's so pedestrian ... I would think that she would find a less worn subject. The only thing that I can come away with is that though she will have us to believe that she's above of it all ... she's still a girl from Michigan who gets a little misty even with her own celebrity with the idea of the gentry. She's kind of like ... oh, Mohamed Al-Fayed, who tried to buy up all of the Duchess's jewelry, and took the lease of their Parisian Mansion. He does make an appearance in the film. Apparently he has had in his possession letters that Wallis had written and exposed the notion that her life was less than fairy tale. Fayed seems to be obsessed with all things Crown, and since Madonna moved over there in her own less than successful marriage also caught the ... the Crown rage.

Of course another reason ... oh, and this is very Madonna! The jewelry! This piece figured prominently in the film, and wouldn't you agree ... she's probably dying to have it. Oh like a prayer!

google images

But the film is beautiful to watch. The settings- superb. And the actor, Andrea Riseborough, who plays Wallis Simpson is magnificent. Wallis Simpson was not, by the pictures that I've seem of her, a looker. Riseborough certainly transformed into the character. Abbie Cornish plays the modern Wallie ... ah, she was o.k. But the Russian security guard at Sotheby's, Oscar Isaac, ... hmmmm ... yeah, trust Madonna to know a good lookin' man.

Friday, September 14, 2012

le nom des gens

google images
It has been a contemplative, exhausting week, and I have been too far away from this .... fortunately a red envelope appeared in my mailbox, which supplied an antidote for the poison if only for a moment ... Le Nom Des Gens. A French movie! Nothing like it to chase away the blues and remind me that life can be sunlit.

One essential element of any French movie, and yes, I may be exaggerating, pops out of the movie poster, n'est-ce pas?! Yes, gratuitous, friendly, light hearted nudity. Someone always gets naked in a French movie. And that's fine by me. It's not ever graphic or demeaning or apologetic ... it's as it should be ... normal.

But I get ahead of myself. The premise of this movie is that Baya, the girl, is half French/ half Algerian. She 'looks' French, but does not use that to escape the issue that continues to face immigrants in Europe ... racism. And she uses her looks and a promiscuity born of a sexually abusive experience with the man hired to teach her how to play the piano to entice right-winger 'fascists' as she sees them to her bed. Give her a few days, and she flips them. She takes a tear-down and brings it up to her code of how one should lead their life.

Ah, then she encounters ... Arthur Martin. A quiet man. A veterinarian who studies dead birds for evidence of bird flu. On the surface, he is a fascist, and so Baya targets him. But Arthur is not the man of his name ... and the taboos that his family abhor are the stuff that Baya can really find comfort in ... Martin's mother is a Holocaust survivor and her parents, Greek, were deported and most of his family were murdered during the war. But his life has been such, that he shields himself from anything with a pulse. And Baya, well her pulse is very prominent and on constant display.

The story, oh sure, was interesting ... especially having just returned from Europe and encountering, again, that Europeans really struggle with immigration, so much more so than here in America. The Names of Love (the English title) really struggles with the issue of what makes one a real Frenchman? Baya can pass ... but her name gives away her heritage. Arthur is named and looks French, but isn't wholly. Can Baya and Arthur, both blended, be really French? Who determines that? And who questions this identity most? The government? Or each individual?

Ultimately, they discover each other. And that is most important. Along the way, and I go back to nudity, is farce. Baya is excitable and her ideas are a little ... shall I say, whack?! She muddles herself ... one of my favorite scenes of the movie is when she's in the grocer with Arthur ... they've finally found each other after their first encounter. She runs to the back of the store to get an item, receives a phone call, runs out of the store late for what she had forgotten and forgets to tell Arthur. Once home, she is bombarded by other's demands and runs out of the apartment to the Metro. She sits down on the train across from a Muslim and his burqa'd wife who looks at her incredulously. Only then does she realize that she's forgotten something ... her clothes. She is naked on the Metro.  And it is, dare I say, normal.

Farce. Frolic. Just plain Fun. Amidst all of the heavy thought of 'am I French, am I not,' sunlight.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

the boss

Laurie Metcalf in the Steppenwolf's Balm in Gilead
Photo from
I've never been a Bruce Springstein fan. The only album that I know well of his is Born to Run. A long time ago when I was very young, a friend had an extra ticket to a play. The play was Balm in Gilead at the Steppenwolf Theater. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and I had no idea the magnitude of what I was seeing, but saw it I did. I was mesmerized by the hugeness of it, and Bruce gave it a sound as a few of songs were played loudly throughout it. I will never forget that night. I'm not sure what the play was about any longer ... but the impression it made on me was huge. It took my heart from my chest, blew it up, wrung it out, and put it back in with sloppy stitches. I immediately bought Born to Run, and lived in the moment for many more. After the play was over, my friend, probably the only really cool person that I knew in high school, and I sat on the steps of the theater in a rain storm trying to figure out what the play was about, how we fit into it, and how we were going to get to the train station that would tuck us back into a world that wasn't anything like the one we had just experienced.

Bruce in Chicago
Photo from
So Bruce ... three hours, half in the rain. I expected ... having read so much about the time that Bruce is on stage, and how the people love him that I would be struck ... not by the lightening that threatened the ball park, but by the energy of the band. But it wasn't there. Now you may argue that not being a fan may have something to do with that, but I was totally ready for the experience of  Bruce. And I love huge! I can jump into the stream and fight along with everyone else upstream. I had high hopes ... the dude in front of me, mouthing every word and wildly pumping his fist, made me think ... yeah, this is going to be good. But the energy wasn't there last night.

Now let me say this ... Bruce is hot. Man, he is good looking! And he has an energy that makes me believe that he's got ... it. From the seats across the field, I could see his constant smile. He, no doubt it, loves to perform. But he never let it take him over. The delivery was very corporate. Songs came flying one after another ... very little transition. Just last note of one song, boom, 1-2-3 and the next began. Without pause, he kept everyone running, running, running. We didn't have a chance to catch our breathe. No pause for reflection. And if the music in and of itself was more driving that might have worked, but the 1-2-3 went into another ... not driving song. Bruce doesn't really rock. OOOHHHH, I know that will not be a popular statement, and I'm not sure that is how best to say it, but that's what it was.

When the rain took over, and everyone tried to run for cover, I had to admit to my friends that the Boss ... just didn't do it for me. I kept thinking of all of the U2 concerts that I've been to over the years ... when you're in that, you know it! You are picked up and carried away in walls of sound and a sense that our spirits were all connected and spilling out of the stadium to permeate the surrounding area with hope. I've taken a few naysayers to one of their concerts and they've all left feeling ... buoyant. I know that is a ... strong endorsement, but if you give yourself to Bono, he will lift you higher. He will push up to 'kiss the sky.'

Another of my favorite bands is Wilco. One of their songs talks to the point that when life gets you down, turn to your band because it will love you ... 'Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you baby ...' And when we go to a concert, I believe in some small way, we are looking for a little love. I didn't feel loved by Bruce ... he loves what he does, but it didn't move to blanket me with any of it. Bummer.