Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blue Hair

Vogue May 2016
Who wouldn't want blue hair that looks like this? Ever since I started seeing the Louis Vuitton model, who looks plastic and has pink hair, I've had the thought that maybe I should just do it. I was born with a good hair color. I am the age that I am, and it is still hanging in there. It doesn't look as red as it did when I was young, but in photographs and in the sun, it still likes to softly flame. 

In Style May 2016
Harper's Bazaar May 2016
I have put color in it twice. In college, my best friend Cory, who was Japanese, had crow black hair. We decided to put a little of each other's color in our own. She tried to put red in hers, which was really difficult because it was so black, and I put a couple of stripes of black in mine. Another time, years later, I had a hairstylist convince me to put highlights in my hair. She said that they would be 'golden.' Well, they were really blond. And I went along with it until I was sitting at a White Sox game, and my brother said out loud, 'where did my red headed sister go?' When a brother notices your hair ... something is wrong, really wrong.

I want the whole look. The blouse. The earrings. All

Maybe ... I should just stick to a blue dress. I may want blue hair tonight, but tomorrow? Who knows. I am packing a pretty blue dress to wear for my nephew's graduation. It's such a pretty color that can move through the seasons. It can be soft like cornflower or cold like ice. The Brie Larson number (middle of the "Harper Bazaar" piece) is my favorite of the bunch. with the pantsuit coming in second. I want to love Kirsten Durnst's Chanel ensemble because I love Chanel, but it is too much dress for her. The long of the tunic and the long of the skirt ... I don't know what's going on. Tunic itself may be too short. I think that I would shorten the skirt ... that would do it.

Okay, enough blue. I'm on to pink ... yeah, I really like the Louis Vuitton hue. Maybe that's what I'll do.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Taylor Swift

Vogue May 2016
As you've never seen her before? Okay! I read that Swift went to Anna Wintour, "Vogue's" editor, for advice on what to wear for this year's Met Gala, fashion's Oscars. Wintour told her to do grunge. Yes, that's just what you need to do Taylor Swift ... grunge it up. But she can't. There's no surprise in her look in this edition. She has the look of a soccer mom. She has the unfortunate hair. And ordinary face. Put her in a couture gown, and she looks like a hanger with an expensive dress hung on her.

I'm not hatin'. And I'm not saying that it's bad either. I don't love her, this is true. There is no sick in her beat even if she says that there is. I would like her music more if she didn't make broad statements such as that. She is not meant to be deep. She is pop.

And as this has been rolling around in my head, I finally realized that what Taylor Swift is is a good role model for young women. She is talented. She is hardworking. She is kind. She is close to her family. She is a good friend. Who better to admire?

I was in NYC a few years back on a very cold day. I may have told this story before. I wanted to go into a shop to warm up. I saw one, saw a crowd, but went up to the door and tried to walk in anyway. I was stopped. I looked at the line and saw many young faces excited to be there. I asked friends, 'what is this place?' The Dash store. What is that? Oh, the Kardashians. If I had a child and he/she looked up to one of those vampires, I just don't know what I would do with myself. It would become a critical point of intervention parenting.

Now, my child probably would be edgier and like someone different than Taylor Swift, which would be good. She/he would be safe because I would be a part of his/her life and help them to support their decision. But a lot of girls, especially, are left to their own devices (i.e. any fascination with a 'K' should be automatic grounds for a child endangerment charge) need someone who will be good to them and show them how to be ... a lady.

Taylor Swift is a lady. I just have to shake what I don't have nice to say about her off.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pretty, Fine Things

Harper's Bazaar April 2016
The mail carrier was delivering the mail yesterday when I got home from the shopping mall, so I was finally able to get all of the mail out of my broken key in lock mail box. The mail! Six magazines, 5 or 6 spring catalogues, and a lot of junk. I have a lot of magreading to catch up on; plus, I bought the UK editions of my favorites ("Vogue," "Elle," and "Tatler") as well. But it is easy work, especially when I run across pretty things such as these lovely whimsical earrings that if I could afford to buy expensive, whimsical pieces, I would definitely purchase these. They would go great with the jean jacket that I found on the clearance rack at Lord & Taylor (clearance + coupon = mine). The earrings are made by Rare Origin 'launched in 2016 by a New York City-based mother-daughter duo.' Wonderful. And since I am in charge of making sure that my mother's bird feeders are filled every Sunday, I'm growing an admiration for birds, which must be in my DNA as my mother is the original bird-lady.

The outdoor mall where I shopped was holding a sort-of arts and crafts fair. One of the booths sold embroidered portraits, landscapes, studies. I had to look really closely to see that they were in fact stitched and not painted. The artist was working on a canvas of beautifully realized blue birds. He was Chinese. He told me that his mother taught him how to embroider and explained that only a very few embroidery artists are left in China. The work is precise and takes many hours to create a single piece. He draws some of the pattern for each piece onto the canvas, but, for the most part, he lets the needle flow across the canvas as it will. Another woman standing there asked him how long it took him to create one of his works, and he answered that he didn't know. 'When I am finished, I am happy.' I would have loved to own one of his pieces. The bird piece that he was working on was particularly lovely, but they were dear: $4-5,000.  Actually, the value of his art was worth much more given the intricacy and time that it would take for him to complete one picture, but I was shopping with coupons ... the bird in the cage earrings at $1600 is getting a little closer to my budget.

When I saw this next piece featuring the Valentino Haute Couture Collection in "Bazaar," I thought of the China man with the needle. An hand sewn couture dress is a work of art, I would argue. The embroiderer may not know how long it takes him to finish a master piece, but for this, the hours have been clocked. The green dress: 1,800 hours; top white: 2,800 hours; to the right of it, the brocade: 2,100 hours; the flirty sheer'd black: 2,200; and the buterfly'd sheer: 1,300. 

Once when I was Italy, we visited a cameo workshop. The apprenticeship was many years before one could establish oneself as a master. It was fascinating to watch, and I wonder if the design houses ever open their sewing room doors to viewers. Wouldn't that be wonderful. I would love for that opportunity. I do understand, however, that the couture business is a competitive one, and a designer may not open up to display what is to come. A cameo, after all, is a cameo. There are variations, true, but not so much.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bella Hadid

Bella Hadid at Cannes  pagesix.com
Wowsa. Now this is a naked dress. Miss Bella has them all beat: Rhianna, Beyonce, old what's her name. It's spectacular. What a Cannes' treat. And I will leave it at that. If it's dissected too much, it may just seem creepy. And I don't really want to hate on the others who have come before showing a leg or wearing transparent.

I was struck when I pulled "Elle" out of my mailbox ... rather from up top. I'm having a bit of problem with my mailbox. I put my key in, and it broke off. I called the landlord, who is new and dismissive of the number of years that I have lived in building, to ask for assistance. He told me to call a locksmith. Call a locksmith? Isn't it your mailbox. I can tell that my box is chock full of mail as I see pages sneaking out at the edges. I imagine that there's a few magazines and lots of catalogues. Most of my bills are paperless, so I decided to just let it be. I left a note for the mail carrier to pull it all out, but no go. However, he/she has been politely leaving any new mail on top of the boxes so that I won't go forward without mail. I asked a friend who is more of a fixit type, and he said that the lock was easy enough to replace. I just have to catch the carrier. Yeah, right. There is no regularity in my zip code for mail, and sometimes, months could go by without any because they've lost the key for the building.

Back to "Elle." Bella is on the June cover, and I was struck by it. It is good ... strong. I'll let you know if anything is worth repeating. Until then, we'll have to settle for the lady in red.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Rolling Stone May 19, 2016

While my guitar gently weeps ... I was caught in a Prince reel on YouTube last night watching him blaze across the universe. When he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the same night at George Harrison, as a solo artist, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne joined Dhani, Harrison's son, in singing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Petty and Lynne were very close to Harrison and sang, as far as I'm concerned, a lackluster performance. They hammered the nails into the coffin. Prince, on the other hand, when he joined in at the end of the classic Harrison song, made his guitar weep. The emotion that he pulled off of his instrument was that of the Holy Spirit. Though I saw an interview with Harrison towards the end of his life where he explained that his questions about life were not it, but what happens next, I think that he would appreciate that Prince channeled the essence of the life that he left behind

Prince died just last month on my birthday. I was sitting in a doctor's office when the news flashed on my cell phone screen. I gasped. Someone asked, 'what's wrong?' Prince died. With no reaction from the answer, I wasn't in the right company to feel it. And I felt ... weirdly prophetic that I had just written about criticizing him for not, seemingly, taking advice about his music. He did everything ... played every instrument, produced, mixed. No one had a vote except Prince. I wonder why he was on my mind? And then he dies? Weird.

But Prince was an odd bird. In an interview from 2014 in  "Rolling Stone" this week, Prince had a lot to say. Some of it was wonderful, and other things made it seem entirely plausible that he was not long for this world. For one, he didn't eat much and explained how if one stops eating for 3 days, the need to eat is severely diminished. And his staffers would have to remind him to drink water. Because apparently one doesn't need much of that either. Toward the end of his life, he was celibate. He said that he used that energy creatively. So, let's see here ... he didn't eat, drink, or have sex. His music was his sustenance. But if that was the case, why did he die? He'd been denying himself of basic human needs and surviving on funk for who knows how many years ... why now did his body decide to give up on itself?

With Bowie, it made more sense. He had cancer. It ate his liver. And one cannot live without that. But nothing was eating Prince ... except, possibly, some Percocet. I hope that isn't the case, but it's hard to understand what else it could be. It bothers me that he was alone when he died. I don't know why as he seemed to do a lot by himself.

I tore these pictures because it shows his sexy self. That is the Prince that I am going to remember. Not someone who starved himself or died of dehydration or being lonely. I want to think of him funky  with nasty sweat dripping down into his zebra striped bikini briefs turning it up. Nothing compares to him.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Olympic Dreams

Real Simple June 2016
The magazines are filling up with inspiring Olympic backstories that I love to read. I picked up "Real Simple" in the grocery store because I have gotten used to reading the one delivered to a woman who no longer lives in my building. I think that the source has dried up. And I'm testing it to see if it's one that I will put in regular rotation. So far, it's looking promising.

But I digress.

This month, several female athletes are featured, and these are the two that I found most interesting. At left if Alysia Montano, her mother Yvonne, and daughter Lennea. The story begins: "Alysia Montano was a favorite in the 800-meter race during the 2012 London games. Then age 26, she has been competing against some of the world’s top runners for nearly half her life. But in the race Alysia came in fifth. She suspected something was up. Three years later, the World Anti-Doping Agency released a report revealing that many athletes had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs ..." Two of the athletes in front of her fifth were suspected of doping. Alysia thought to quit track, but she moved on. And in the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, she competed while EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT. Remarkable. Her mother, Yvonne, is lucky to help with young Lennea while Alysia trains for the 2016 Rio Olympics. I read the headline of a "Chicago Tribune" commentary today that recommended Russia be banned from the Rio Games because of doping. It's a nasty reality of competitive sports anymore, and I hope that the drug tests are such that an inspiring athlete such as Alysia will run against a clean field so that her hard work wins, not a performance enhancing drug.

Tatyana McFadden (right) "was born in Leningrad, Russia, in 1989, with a hole in her spine. Paralyzed from the waist down, she spent her first six years in an orphanage and taught herself to walk on her hands. Two decades later, she is the only athlete in the world- male, female, able or disabled- to win the grand slam of marathons, finishing first in Boston, London, Chicago, and New York in the same year, 2012, as well as in 2013 and 2014." How did she get here? Deborah McFadden was visiting an orphanage in Russia while on business and Tatyana kept coming up to her. Not able to get her off of her mind, she and her wife, Bridget, decided to adopt her. Deborah says, "There is this Russian phrase Ya, sama, which basically means "I can do it myself." And no matter what we exposed Tatyana to, she said, "Ya, sama." We were told she wasn't going to have a long life because she was so weak and had so many physical challenges." I don't think that is a problem now. And I'm thinking that I need to weave some "Ya, sama" into my students' thinking. They have a lot to overcome, but none so much at Tatyana.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cate Blanchett

In Style June 2016

Cate Blanchett is wearing Atelier Versace: 'fine black chain mail drapes so beautifully.' To me, it is liquid ink ready to tell me a story ....

Kim Band

What better way to spend a Saturday night watching a band at a bar! Kim performed after a decade or more hiatus for a single reunion show. And it was worth the wait. The blend of 2 guitars, a drum kit, and joy made me want to get up and dance. The crowd was in it, though rather tame, but my friends and I made the best of it by doing some serious stool-dancing.

Miss Mia, the band's drummer and vocalist, sends out a monthly newsletter to, among many things, name and date the many appearances/performances that she has at any given time as a gal about town. Miss Mia acts, cable access TV hosts, benefits, performs, and yoga-s. I don't know how she keeps up with everything ... she had mentioned the gig in the newsletter, and I suppose that I was low-key determined to go to show my support.

Miss Mia is the host of "Chi-ca-go-go," a cable access show that is super dance party and music show for children. As part of the show, she interviews visiting musicians with her sock puppet, Ratso. A few years back, I got the call that she was interviewing Glen Hansard during the time of his "Once" fame at the Hideout's annual Block Party. I went along and was happy to get the opportunity to be a degree separation from Bono! (Glen Hansard is Irish ... and all Irish people know each other, right? But he also busks with Bono every Christmas Eve on Grafton Street in Dublin). I have a picture of the two of us where I look to be Hansard's sister. In the sun, our hair glistens the same copper red, and one could not dismiss the similarity of our Irish mugs. Later in the evening after he had performed, another friend pushed me toward Hansard back stage for a chat. I am not meant to be that close to ... celebrity, for lack of a better descriptor because I was a mumbling idiot trying to talk to him. He was very kind and did his best to keep up with my ... awkwardness.

I'm much better at a bar and a band of local lore. I happily asked Mia over to meet my friends, who found her, and the band, to be quite spectacular.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Tatler March 2016

If I ever go to Glastonbury Music Festival, this is where I will be staying. Penard is the home of "the Dearden family. Harry and Georgina Deaden and their two-year-old son, Charlie, live in a big house village of East Pennard. The house, called Pennard, sits on one side of a grassy hill, and Glastonbury happens on the other side. The house was here first, having been build in 1600 by on of Harry's ancestors. But ever since Michael Eavis launched his festival in 1970 (when tickets cost £1 and the event was headlined by Tyranosaurus Rex, before they were known as T.Rex), the Dearden family have been closely linked with the annual shindig."

Sign me up!  I am one that doesn't necessarily find the romance of 'roughing it,' especially in the mud as 've heard that the Glastonbury Festival becomes knee deep in the stuff. When I decided to do the Camino de Santiago pilgrim's walk across northern Spain, I read that many pilgrims walk/run to chase beds at albergues (pilgrims' hostels) along the way. I am not what you would call the original fast walker, so the idea of having to hustle through a 10-15 mile walk through the hills and valleys of a country that I've never visited before to grab a cot to rest what would become my very tired bones? No, thank you. Not that I need to be fancy. I would probably wear the same pair of shorts every day and wear my hair in a pony tail. But I would want to take my time. Stop. Admire. Talk. Have a cup of cafe con leche. I found Spanish Steps, a company that specializes in the Camino. Run out of Aspen, Colorado, the woman who owns the company turned her passion for the walk into a business. She planned trips for people like me .... I didn't want to race the Camino, I wanted to enjoy it.

And that I did. I was lucky to end up with a tour of two: me and Claire, a teacher from Australia. Lorraine our guide, an original hippy, was so frustrated with us because we would want breakfast, do the entire walk in our good time, then eat, drink, and be merry. She kept trying to get us to stop for a gourmet luncheon that she prepared, but she was working with school teachers. Get up and go! Claire was a much faster walker than I; although, she said I only was ever 5 minutes behind her. So I had the trails to myself for the most part, which I was glad of. Until the end, most of the walk is through hill, forest, and country lane. I encountered little old farmers wearing raggedy old suit jackets, deer that flew across the lane into a dark pine forest as I passed, and kindly priests who were happy to have a chat when I would ask for my pilgrim's passport to be stamped.

A page from my pilgrim's passport
Along the way, Claire and I stayed in three different country inns, each one more delightful than the next. Each morning, we would have breakfast and Lorraine would drive us to our stopping place from the night before. She would give us an estimate of the number of miles that we would be expected to walk before we were picked up to go back to a hot shower, comfortable bed, and lots of vino with dinner. I think that we walked anywhere from 12-17 miles a day.

My favorite inn was an estate that had been in the proprietor's family for over 300 years. Two brothers and a sister changed the gentleman's home (the boys didn't have a profession) into an inn to refill the family's coffers. All three were well into their thirties near forty, and none were married. Our rooms were converted a cow barn, so stood separately from the main house. I loved that I slept where the cows had once done. After freshening up, we would spend time wandering in their many gardens in a golden late afternoon light. We'd meet up with our hosts to sit alfresco under flowering arbors on stone benches that must have been there for a century. We'd drink the local wine, talk, and work up an appetite for one of the brother's splendid meals. It was a truly lovely stay there. And a memory that I return to often.

Could I find the same romantic notions in a mud field sleeping in a tent that's not quite secure? Probably ... but why? I will be staying with the Dearden's when I go to Glastonbury. Hey, Chris Martin (a regular), here I come!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Prince Harry

Prince Harry.
I've been following the Invictus Games this week, Prince Harry's special project that began when he attended the Warrior Games here in 2013. According to the Invictus Games' web site, 'he saw how the power of sport could help physically, psychologically, and socially wounded veterans. His mind was made up. London would host the inaugural Invictus Games, an internal sporting event for wounded, ill, and injured Service men and women- both active duty and veteran.' I'm fairly certain that this all came on the heels of a highly successful 2012 London Olympic Games. I was in England during the 2012 Olympics, and it was a jolly good time. The whole country was into it. EVERYONE was all about the Olympics. It was like being in a small college town during Homecoming weekend when the football team is winning. And being a sports enthusiast, I fell right in with the party. What was awesome about the Olympic coverage there was for the fact that entire competitions were aired on BBC. After a day of touring the area, we would head back to a pub for dinner and a couple of hours of Olympic level competition. It was grand. I saw a lot of Harry during that summer because he, and other Royals, were everywhere enjoying the sport and promoting England.
I work with a vet who is an avid hockey player. His club sponsors a tournament of Wounded Warrior hockey clubs every year. Our school was asked to provide a Color Guard detail to open the competition a few years back. I went along to check it out. In the field house where I have played tennis, there is an ice rink. Many evenings as I've left the courts, I see the wounded strap on their cart-skates to play hockey. I am always super impressed with their athleticism and their joy in playing the sport that they love. The Wounded Warrior hockey game was as awesome to watch.
For the Invictus Games, my favorite sport, naturally, is watching Prince Harry. He's in it, real talk.
Diana fascinated me. Once, she visited Chicago and was invited to a luncheon at the Drake hotel on Michigan Avenue. I was drawn to the area to 'see if I could see,' but all I got was locked in traffic and the sighting of a view society ladies walking into the hotel in their Chanel suits. It was enough. Sometimes it is just the energy that is needed to feel a part of an event. When Diana died, I cried. When I read Tina Brown's book, "The Diana Chronicles," I wept. Maybe she wasn't meant long for this world, but her mark is apparent in the generous, natural spirit of her son, Harry. Prince Charles did not make him. He doesn't have the ease and grace that his son possesses. Plus, it seems that he has a good time behind a closed door (yeah, so someone took pictures, that's too bad) ... I'm not mad at him.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Eddie Redmayne

Elle April 2016

My sister loved "The Revenant." I had no interest in seeing it because I don't care for Leonardo DeCaprio. He is so ... American. He's like a blob of meaty flesh with puffy, small eyes and an arrogance of one who has spent too much time at the banquet table. I watched the movie because my sister was excited for me to see it. It was beautifully filmed and as a tree lover, I was in ecstasy at the endless shots of tall pines framed by moody skyscapes. Leonardo? oh, he was okay. For the bear scene alone, I suppose, he deserved the Oscar.

George Clooney is another one that I don't get. I was so excited to see Gwen Stefani in James Corden's "Car Pool Karaoke" until he showed up! What does George Clooney, or Julia Roberts for that matter, have to do with Gwen Stefani? It was a surprisingly brazen publicity stunt for a movie that I have no interest in seeing. I was disappointed in Corden ... I thought that he was above the cut. And Clooney, if Leo is spend too much time at the banquet, George is too long spent at his dressing table admiring his visage.

But give me an English … Irish … Scottish actor … classically trained, masculinely waifish, self-deprecating in an easy awareness of his own prowess, and a naughty sense of humor. That was pretty thick, eh?! But well deserved in my opinion.

I first saw Eddie Redmayne in “My Week with Marilyn.” It was a movie that I resisted beyond its Oscar season, but when I caved, I found Eddie. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him, his freckles and his being there while hanging back sort of persona. Americans actors are always so in your face … with bravado, prowess, athleticism, whatever. It’s the American way of living. The Brits are so much more reserved. I like that in a man. Often in my day to day, I find my own unreservedness overwhelming, and I’ve often thought that someone else’s reservedness would be a welcome temper. At the end of the day, I don’t want Leo or George in my face even if they are only on screen. I would rather have Eddie or Hugh or Colin or Rupert (Graves … my favorite) or Clive. They are like Vaseline Intensive Care in every crack and smoothing every flake.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Girls: Season 5

Shoshanna in Japan at the cat cafe
I missed the 'watch-a-thon' week on my cable network when I usually catch up in a super binge of "Girls." For the last couple of years, it's fallen during my spring break, but I had my spring break confused since it didn't fall around Easter as it usually does. Out of sorts, I missed it. Through the kindness of a good friend (actually, his Dad who has complete cable access to ALL of the channels), who gave me a user name/password so that I could unlock HBO and Season 5 of "Girls," the only show that I just absolutely have to see. Successfully logged in at 8 o'clock last night when my school night bedtime is usually somewhere around 9, I watched all ten, delicious episodes. Pity my students today as I look at them with tired, I can't take any bullshit today, eyes. Ah, I'm too easy on them most of the time anyway. They need a little kick-ass.

Back to "Girls." Man, that show just doesn't ever disappoint me. I am far away from 25 (Marni's age as told in one of the episodes), but it doesn't matter. The show is awkward, vulnerable, arrogant, and smart. Oh, Hannah is pain in the ass. I think that it would be very hard to keep up with her neurotic tendencies or jacked way of thinking. I thought that when she decided to blow Ray for having rescued her from upstate New York was a bit of a stretch, even for Hannah. Hannah is best when she realizes her own power, not as it is dependent on someone else. For this, the end of the season was so rewarding. She moved back to herself. I suppose that someone who is 25 doesn't know this yet ... that Hannah isn't any good for anyone else if she isn't herself. But that's what the show is all about. Millennials figuring out who they are and how they fit into the world. It isn't just a story for 25. I'm twice the age, and the reminding isn't wasted on me.

My favorite story line is Shoshanna's journey to Japan. Of course, she fits right in to the Japanese culture. Her look is phenomenal. And when her corporate job evaporates, she goes on to manage the cat cafe! I love it. Where else would she go? But like all good story lines, she's cooking with gas and the flame goes out. Her room fills with toxicity, and she has to wiggle her way out of what she thought was her essential self to start over again. Ah, but with the lessons from her experience, she doesn't go back to zero. Shoshanna re-starts, but she's ahead of the starting line.

Sometimes, I feel that I have to re-start, but it's good to recognize that I don't have to go all of the way back. I'm closer to knowing than ever before. That's where all of the girls hope to be.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Bono

U2 Instagram
It makes sense that Bono is a Taurean like me. I try really hard to not make everything about Bono because I could! He sneaks in, enough, from time to time. And I know how corny it may sound that I truly believe, wholly so in my heart of hearts, that he and I are on a same wave length. He may be riding around on a super star while I sputter around on some star dust, but he makes sense to me so much so that I can't imagine not hitting it right off if ever I would have the chance to spend some time with him. I think, mostly, that it is an Irish-thing. We've the same sensibility and can be easily as annoying as we can be charming. We'd be a pair ... once I got over the initial shock and awe of him actually being in my presence. I would not be ... cool. 

Vogue's Couture Forest Bathing

Vogue May 2016
Looking out of my classroom window, I see the fog roll in from the lake across the city, and I can nearly imagine that I'm in the photograph shown. I am not wearing a floral dress, but the colors that I wear, spring green and pink with a lovely scarf of similiar tone, brighten up the gray that the spring fog makes on the city streets outside.

The model is wearing Gucci and stands in the Las Pozas sanctuary in Mexico. I love the dress ... the white of it and how the red/blue/green fish and lily pads strike against its brightness.

I wonder if she's hearing quiet? As quiet as I would if I were on the street outside? Sometimes, when the fog falls on the city, it is eerily without sound. It muffles horns, trucks, and playground laughter. If only it would stay put until I can walk through it later today during lunch. I want to be the bright that passes through the quiet to bathe in its somber air.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


Vogue April 2016
My sister and I were hanging out last week drinking wine ... and we thought, let's watch "Lemonade," Beyonce's ... film? Music video? Promotion piece? Ah, but we are silly girls to think that we'd be able to find it without paying for it. Oh sure, we were on a television with HBO access, but, apparently, it was only shown on HBO twice. To see it, you've got to pay. We weren't that curious to see it and moved along.

Oh Beyonce, you know how to shake that money maker. But are you anything other than that? My students love her. I told them that I think that she's a puppet. Can she dance? hell, yeah. Can she sing? well ...  Is she really the one responsible for creating all of these 'events?' probably not. When she appeared on the cover of "Vogue" months back, she did not give an interview. Typically, when you're on the cover of the magazine, you say a few words. Not Bey. She doesn't give interviews anymore. Why? Because she doesn't have anything to say, and her people don't want her real self to be exposed. She's pretty to look at, but ... even in the infamous Met Ball elevator drama, was she bidding for herself? No, her sister did.

Bey is a hologram. And I worry because my students all love her, and the image that she projects even when she's being militant is too, sorry for this, Becky. Why does she need all of that blond weave and nude tights? What would happen if she lost the hair? In class, we are taking part of the National Endowment of the Arts' "Big Read" with "The Maltese Falcon." As part of the lesson, students are creating their own detective stories. The first step is to create a detective character, and one of the characterizations that I asked for was what crime their detective routinely solves. One student, a boy, created a character who solved cases of the missing weave. Something fake has become so much a part of the culture that it is normal. It's a fake-normal.

Rihanna sets her self apart from the other female pop stars as far as I'm concerned. What is that separates her from Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Selena, Taylor, Katie? She doesn't try, she is. We may have been distracted by her Chris Brown association as it clouded anything else that she was doing, but with that behind her, she's free to claim herself. She wears it fiercer. Growls it more convincingly. And works, works, works.

Another student that I had loved Rihanna. She was her style goddess. The student was a pretty girl, and I would see the stars in her eyes glisten every time that we talked about Rihanna. I would bring any pictures that came up in my magazines to her so that she could collage them in her locker. I brought in other pictures that featured models of color ... and she saw that beauty came in all kinds of natural. Fashion magazines take the hit a lot for supporting unrealistic beauty standards, but navigated responsibly, one can find diversity of taste, style, and color.

Like anything, one must plow through the weeds (or the weave), to find what's real.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Louis Vuitton's Barbie

Vogue May 2016
Every time that I see this Louis Vuitton ad, I'm a little freaked out by the model. Is she real? If she is, how did they make her look so ... not real? Naturally, photoshop played a role in creating this look. No one can look like this, or can they?

Several months ago, my students showed me pictures of 'real' Barbies. They got me ... I was distracted from whatever it was we were doing at the time, and we spent a minute looking into the Barbie girls. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that there's a YouTube video of how these women put together their 'look.'

My students are enthralled with the Barbie girl, boys and girls alike. As teenagers, I know, that they are drawn to looks of perfection. They want this hair, those nails, that gear. It is the nature of the beast that is uncomfortable within their own skin and look for anyone else's skin that is in their estimation ... flawless.

No, this is not a mannequin. It is a REAL girl.
Oh, what do we do to people, boys and girls alike again that puts so much pressure on them to want to achieve this? I understand the teenage angst, but with this Vuitton ad, it bleeds into the consciousness of those that should be beyond teenage awkwardness. I would be lying if I said that I never felt any pressure to look a certain way, and I'm thankful that I have the years under my belt to know that I don't have to be that in order to look my best. I live in magazines and see every month the carefully brushed  notion of how one is meant to look. I love the photographs. But I can also distinguish them from reality or from what my beauty is organically.

A few years ago now, a women colleague told me as we drank our happy Friday beers that I should really do something about some of the freckles on my face. She suggested that I have them lasered. Lasered? Dermatologists or cosmetologists or whomever can laser freckles? Why? I was born with freckles, and they have been my good friends for all of these years. Some have decided to spread out to be sure, but they are comfortable sitting on my face and turning toward the sun. Why would I ever ask them to leave? Or have them taken away from a bright, unnatural light held by someone wearing surgical gloves? It was her insecurity about her own looks to tell me to do that to be sure.

Oh Barbie, if I had your face, it would break as plastic does when it drops. Who could ever keep the look up? I suppose if I didn't have anything else to do. And this is what I would choose to do with my time? Oy!