Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Charleston Today
I'm stuck in the final two episodes of Sex in the City, which are the best ones of the series as far as I'm concerned. I am a fan of Big, and every time that the Miranda character tells him to 'go get our girl,' I tear up. Silly, I know.  But I love how Big then barrels off to Paris to get his girl. It's romantic and sets the 'Sex' world right.

Not that I don't like watching Mikhail Baryshnikov. When I was a tender teen, he came to Chicago for a performance. I didn't see it naturally, I was a kid, but I did read the review of it in the newspaper. I must have seen him before, where or what I'm not sure, because I had written a poem for him. I was twelve and had a crush on Mikhail Baryshnikov. He seemed like such a romantic figure having defected from the USSR, a feared enemy of America in my early years ... and sort of now too come to think of it. I imagined that he had to get out of that mess. I must have seen him in the newspaper. And the picture here is one that makes me believe that I would have seen this one photograph in particular all of those years ago.

Now that poem that I wrote ... it went something like: His flying leaps/ his graceful bounds/ he is a man of art/ no comparison can be found. It's quite lovely. I would have to look too hard to find the whole poem, but you get the gist. After reading the article, I wrote a letter to include the poem to the journalist who wrote the feature. And believe it or not, she wrote back. In her letter, she describe what it was like to interview Misha. And she closed by saying that if she ever got the chance to interview him again that she would give him my poem. I still have her letter, somewhere. It was held close to my heart for a long time. The idea, and I believed it at the time, that the journalist would give the poem to him was more than I could ever hope for.

Curiosity has gotten the best of me as I write this, so I've done a little leg work to discover that the American Ballet Theater's Nutcracker was televised in 1977. Clara is danced by Gelsey Kirkland and that definitely rings a bell. My family must have seen it when it first aired as that is something that we would have watched. And we've continued to watch it over the years. It is the most often viewed version of the ballet. And when I went to YouTube, I found one of the dances and realized that yes, this is the Misha that I crushed on.

If I were Princess Diana, I think that I would have asked to dance with him, rather than John Travolta, at the Field Museum all of those years ago when she visited. But she would have towered over him anyway. He would do fine by me. Maybe I should find that poem and send it to him directly. That would be romantic. The dance ... not the poem. I was fifteen.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dior's Bag Goes to the Hedges

Vogue August 2014
Where is she going, this modern Goldilocks? What is beyond the hedge? A secret garden party? So many questions and scenarios to imagine.

This is the second that I've seen of Dior putting their bag on the page going somewhere. I rather like it as I showed last autumn when the girl was going into the white door with the dark coat and small patterned bag with golden chains. I like the red pop of this one. The girl is modern, looks structured as her boots and bag denote. Aha, but she is going into what looks to be an English garden. I haven't been to a French one that one could penetrate. The contrast is lovely. And for once, the white hair seems appropriate (aren't we all tired, or rather,  aren't we women tired of white, white hair?) for the color play. Her image moves from light to medium to dark. She's a reverse ombre. Imagine that.

Orange is the New Black

My niece turned me on the  Netflix series "Orange is the New Black." We spent the weekend together last month (during Spring Awakening), and in our typical down time, we like to watch movies. She saw that I had started Orange, but I explained that I pushed the button accidentally. I don't know ... women ... prison. Not the top of my list for viewing pleasure. She said, oh no! You need to watch it, and I will go through season one again so that you can see it. And so I was hooked. Each season has 13 episodes. Each episode is nearly an hour. In one week, I watched 26 hours of television, more than I had in ... months put together. Once it started, I just couldn't stop. And what do you mean season 2 isn't available? What will I do? I'm hooked NOW.

The show floated across pages that I had read some, but then I noticed at the beginning of season 2, just when I was getting into it, it exploded across the pages of all of the magazines that I read. The pictured pages are actually an advertisement. But it highlights some of the idiosyncrasies that make the show what it is. I tell you, the writing is smart, female-focused, and the ensemble of quirky, nervy, psychotic actors that the producers hired to play the roles is unbelievable. It's just good old fashioned story telling. The characters are flawed, doubt, love, and figure life out as it is available to them. Sometimes, you almost forget that they are prison. They could be working in the same office, standing around the water cooler, and wondering how they got to this point in their lives.

I tell you ... I don't ever want to go to prison. I couldn't take all of that female energy. Argh. And it causes a tension that is palpable. The lead character Piper is annoying. But I think that is the point. She's so entitled that she walks into it constantly. I don't see her as a person yet. It is the secondary characters that are interesting. Well, Red. She's awesome. Crazy Eyes- oh yeah, I've taught her in one of my classes. Actually, I had 2 or 3 Crazy Eyes this year that I had to get a holt of to get out of the classroom cause she was throwing pie. And Taystee, her too. She has so much potential, but has no options. Isn't that the case of so many young people growing up in the 'hood?! They don't have her counterpart pictured ... Poussay. I think that she has the truest heart in the place. And has the best chance of surviving, if she can get a hold of her heart. But my favorite is Pennsatucky, the meth-head, Jesus freak. I love that she goes to jail for shooting at an abortion clinic working who snarks at her about how many abortions that she's had. And because of her Jesus-ness, the religious right pays for her defense. She is real ig'nrt. But that's it, isn't it? She lives in a trailer, has a douche-bag boyfriend, and has absolutely NO opportunity to be anything else. Ah, but she's working it out. And with her new teeth ... she just may become a person. Every time that I put a hoodie on, which isn't often, I zip it up and down and pop the hood on and off. Pennsatucky knows how to rock a hoodie.

The season 2 finale was awesome. The last scene was brilliant. And I can't wait for the coming 13 hours of character-driven television that will soon hit my screen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Martha Beck's 5 Rules for Lasting Joy

Oprah Magazine May or June 2014
Martha Beck is the lifestyle coach that appears in Oprah monthly. She always gives no nonsense ... not advice, but common sense considerations. This here, sums up what she is all about. I appreciate it. I'm not one for lists or quotes or expressions, but these five do seem to come up in a day-to-day way. I consider it a touchstone.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vive L'Aperitif

All of these lovelies were pulled out of a fashion magazine. I can't resist a postcard. I love the period. And an aperitif? It is a summer habit that I have acquired after several visits to France. I've never had St. Germain, but I have been known to enjoy pastis (the most popular brand is Pernod).

One of the first times that I drank pastis was on a two week trip to France many years ago. First in Paris on a hot August afternoon after wandering around lord only knows where, my friend and I stopped at a cafe for something cool to drink. He had just spent the summer living in the south of France a few years earlier and suggested that we have a pastis. I'd never heard of it before and loved it at first sip. In France, the liquor is poured into a tall glass and is accompanied by a jug of cool water. When the water tumbles over the it, it turns a cloudy yellow and tastes of licorice. Delightful. As we moved from Paris down to the Mediterranean, we stayed with the family that he lived and worked with during his summer of France. Every evening when Papa came home from work, usually around 7 p.m., we'd first enjoy a pastis or two or three then move to dinner and rose wine. I loved those evenings that went long into the night. They spoke very little English and I very little French, but we managed to communicate just fine. Papa worked at the local grocery store. My friend's job when he lived there was to pick up all of the grocery carts from the neighborhood that customers were able to take home with them. What a job, right?

After we stayed with the family in Frejus, we moved on to Nice where my friend's Baltimore landlady lived for half of the  year caring for an ailing mother. She lived in a grand apartment, one that you would expect someone as chic as she would live in. She invited us over for cocktails before going out to dinner. She served scotch and caviar. Certainly, I had had scotch before, but never caviar. It was quite an experience. Paula was a wonderful woman. She had been a dancer for the Paris Opera when she was young, and she and her sister somehow,  I wasn't quite clear on this point, ended up in Baltimore. They would take turns living with mother and living in the States. While in the States because of her former life, Paula was often invited to 'French' gatherings in D.C., sometimes at the Embassy. I had the good fortune of attending one of these parties on a visit to D.C. French embassy parties from what I can remember are the best! The champagne! Ooh la la.

On a day trip from Nice, we visited Eze. It hangs over the Mediterranean atop a cliff not too far from Nice. Naturally, there is no car traffic. And not much is there except a very small luxury resort. We wandered around it and no one made a fuss of it. My friend suggested that we have a drink in the pool area. It was quite beautiful. The hotel was an old castle, perhaps, made of stone and lovely red roses climbed over its walls. The waiter arrived with, what else, pastis. After a while, my friend excused himself to go to the gents, and the next thing that I knew, a porter was asking to take my bag. My day bag. All I had was a swim suit, a book, and maybe some sun block. He escorted me to the room, which was all-white from what I remember with a huge bathtub and thick, cozy bath robes. We spent the afternoon on an overlook that was a ladder down the cliff from the eternity swimming pool drinking pastis. Only later did we switch to wine and bread spread with chunky, country pate. It was heaven.

Hmm, I'm thirsty. Perhaps I should find some lingerie and have a cocktail.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Track Pant Fashion

Vogue August 2014
I saw the track suit fashion editorial and remembered well the time when I too felt the need to wear a pair of track pants with a dress out on the town. Of course, I didn't do it for fashion's sake. I did it because I was bloated.

Just this last week, my friend gave me copies of a some photographs that he had from the last few years. A couple of years ago, he had a big blow out for his 50th birthday. His birthday is January 2nd. Yes, the week after Christmas. My tummy was full of turkey and dressing and cookies. Plus, I had the chance to see the Chicago Bears play against the Green Bay Packers when Brett Favre was still playing on a rowdy Chicago New Year's Eve football game! By New Year's Day, I was cashed. I think that he pulled the party to the 1st and the last place that I wanted to go to was another party that would require getting dressed, drinking more, eating more, and being ... festive. I wanted to stay on the coach watching the public television station's BBC murder mystery marathon in my pajamas. Under a blanket. Hair in a pony.

Me on the left ... dress on top/track pants on bottom.
I put on a black wrap dress that was comfortable. Okay. But then I pulled on some opaques and as soon as the panty hit the tummy, I knew that I wouldn't make it for an hour at the party. And then I saw the black track pants with white stripes. What could it hurt. I pulled those bad boys on and they felt fine. When I got to the party, someone that I hadn't seen for years said to me, 'oh, you're so dressed up!' Why thank you. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture from the waist down. It would confirm that I knew what Vogue was thinking about, oh, 7 or 8 years later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Spring Awakening

This guy was only out for maybe 5 minutes.
A couple weeks after I took my niece to Spring Awakening for her high school graduation, I still can't get the pulse out of my head. Being an elder statesman in a crowd that hovered around 25, I felt as much a part of it and probably appreciated it more than any of their frenzied inability to be in the moment. All of the kids were in such a rush to ... I'm not sure what they were motivated to do/be. I saw many altered states, but for the most part it seemed to be a toddling crowd of wait, wait - don't start without me. It was the first night, I suppose. And the wait for an event is always ... the hardest bit.

First Night
On the first evening into night, we were right up at the main stage. My niece is super chill, and though she lives and breathes EDM (Electric Dance Music), she wasn't in a rush to see it all. We hung out at home (drank a little wine), and then moved into Soldier Field just as it was really ramping up. We moved to the front of the main stage for two of the three nights. The first night was insane. The crowd was extremely aggressive. I had to bounce more than a handful of rowdies trying to encroach our space. I'm too weathered a concert goer, crowd surfer, to allow a few punks, albeit big, to push me off of my turf.

The DJs on the first night were good. Some were needed to come up with some new ... moves? I don't know; I'm still trying to figure out the magic of EDM. What are they doing up there on the platform? Mixing sound? Creating sound? Pushing sound? It's sound, that's for sure. And some do it really interestingly, but others get caught up in a circle that they don't ever seem to be able to get out of. The sound goes low, low, low ... then up, up, up ... and then low, low, low.

The light!
The top guy of the night was Tiesto. I loved him! But he was also working in pop music, so it was familiar. He wore his ubiquitous blue and white striped shirt and got into it right away. We bounced his whole set. Feeling pretty bruised, we had to fight even more to get out of the front. We were there for 4 or 5 hours, thirsty as anything, and feeling a little like we survived a tornado. It was time to go.

For the second night, we hung back and sat in the stands to watch a pretty lackluster night of DJs. One of the groups, Pretty Lights, did have a remarkable light show. The light coming off of the stage could light whole countries in other parts of the world that I have visited. I have to admit that the thought of this crossed my mind.

A horse in the crowd!
On the last night, we went all out again ... to the front! It was by far the best night of the festival. Steve Aoki was a riot! MK, my niece, told me that his thing is big cakes. And sure enough, at one point in his performance, and he was a performer, he hurled huge sheet cakes into the crowd. We were to the right of the platform, so luckily, and who would want to spend the next couple of hours covered in cake, we weren't hit. His vibe was electric. For as many people as there were that crowded onto Soldier Field, he made the space feel intimate. Not Bono intimate (that shows where my hat is usually hung), but like it.

The last DJ was my favorite: Kaskade. He lit it up. And his energy was extremely intense. I thought that he was going to bounce his head off, he rocked so hard to his beats. The crowd was as many, but the bullying had died down after three days of beats. The scene became so much more ... fun, rather than frenzied. It was the only way to come out it.