Tuesday, 25 December 2012
I haven't blogged in 4 months. Niet, nada. Not that I haven't had any gibberish to express, god knows I've been pretty vocal, way too much according to some (bully? you rip my freakin' heart out and I'M the bully???). But a lot of things have come to pass in the past 120 and some days. This christmas isn't the prelude to the end of another year, it's the nail being, not so gently, hammered into a coffin. Am leaving the old continent, again, to start from scratch, again, and in a weird way to come home. When you have moved around as much as I have, whether it be geographically, emotionally, transcendentally or whatever, the concept of home becomes extremely abstract. But home, some semblance, some hope of it, seems to be across the ocean, still after all these years.
So here I go again, as Whitesnake would say, sailing 'cross the ocean, sailing stormy waters, as Rod would add, crashing a-headlong into the heartland like a cannon in the rain as Mike Scott would conclude. And yes, I am having a musical cheesefest this xmas.
So stuff is going to happen now.
Uninteresting blog posts will be written.
New business will be launched.
New brilliantly evil plan to take over the world will be executed.
New friendships will be made, hopefully, and old friendships will be rekindled, double hopefully.
A French invasion of dogs and horses.
Red-headed trouble is coming to town.
So Merry Xmas, Hanukah, or whatever you choose to call this mushy time of year. I always wish I had some kind of faith around this time, and I still don't, but there is still one prayer that I believe in (just remove the religious and AA context and add water, or vodka).
I wish Santa would give me the fucking tshirt.
Friday, 31 August 2012
I became a Blondie fan at age 6 when I bought my first ever 7 inch record: Heart of Glass. It's not that I was overly precocious or understood the lyrics (that same day I also bought a French single by Lio called Banana Split, which turns out is all about blow jobs). I was a tragic-looking fairy child at that age, skinny as hell with long straight hair and bangs that almost hid my haunted get-me-out-of-here eyes. But I already liked the music coming out of the radio (this is way before MTV, I am that old). That purchase was in Paris, in the Fnac music superstore in a neighborhood called Les Halles, which at the time was edgy and bordering on unsafe, although I was way too young to fool myself into believing that was cool. 1979 was a very bad year as they say, maybe Debbie helped a little as her voice erupted from my plastic record player. I thought she was beautiful anyway, a modern princess, more stunning and interesting than my mistreated Barbie dolls. Looking back with adult eyes I don't think it's insignificant that she is the same age as my mother.
The following year we followed my new and wonderful stepfather to the UK. I started the new decade in London's Chelsea and would spend the next 11 years reveling in all its excess, arrogance, and flamboyance. Being a reasonably pretty teenage girl in 80s London was ridiculously fun and self-indulgent. Although similar vibes were happening in all major cities I assume, all us kids probably thought that "our" thing was unique, and well brit was still cool back then (I have my doubts about today, despite the magazine articles). It wasn't until I got to London that I actually bought my Blondie albums, one after the other, worn to a needle-skipping thread. I wasn't entirely faithful, few teenagers are. My best friend in my mid and late teens lived a few blocks away in what I felt to be huge house that just rose into the clouds. His room was on the top floor and overlooked the Brompton Cemetery, a gothic movie set of a place, full of crumbling tombstones under overgrown drooping trees, and cruising gay men who delighted in the privacy given by these nooks and crannies. We used to spy on them, or imagine we were doing so because you couldn't really see in the dark from up there. Blondie would not have been an appropriate soundtrack to these voyeuristic evenings. Oddly enough Dylan and Prince were. But Debbie still kept me company in my teens, like an über-cool doppelgänger of my absent working mother, watching over my homework, discreet locked-bedroom drug intake and careful make-up applications. I hung on to the Blondie vibe long after they had broken up but it would be a lie to say I bypassed the solo albums. I bought Rockbird in '86 and scotchtaped the album sleeve above my bed next to my Bowie in a tux poster. And Def, Dumb and Blonde in '89. Debbie was 44 when the single I want that man was released, and it would have been embarrassing in other circumstances but we didn't know what embarrassment was in the late '80s and, well, it was Debbie.
A few years later when I was first living in New York and working at Squeezebox she would come by a lot. So much so really that it wasn't a thing anymore and maybe I feel a little guilty about that now, that the awe ebbed, replaced by blasé familiarity. But I still sing along to the songs whenever I hear them. I will put on the albums very loud in my big empty house just to hear her voice echo from wall to wall. And the other day, in an A/C blasted dark apartment in NYC, in the middle of the afternoon, I was kissing someone and Debbie whispered in my ear. Because Paris is definitely not calling, but embrasser c'est français.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
Sitting in my underwear by the A/C in the studio in Brooklyn. Adopted-till-Saturday cat Haystack staring at me condescendingly from his perch on the shelf above me. Every once and a while a strand of long cat hair floating down to my nostrils, daring my allergies. It's hot, I'm highly strung, stream of insecurity thumping back and forth in my heart. Jeeez as someone would say.
Was upstate for four days. Again that eerie feeling of being in the right place with the right people. Familiarity in the midst of new encounters and surroundings. It sounds so fucking new-agey I'm tempted to dive into a bout of nihilism just to rebel against the warm fuzzy, but been there done that. Maybe part of growing up is also accepting the good stuff with optimism rather than raised-eyebrow cynicism. But couldn't this be the most cosmic set-up for the one big fall? I mean being here is so obvious, so right (majorly overusing that word). The cogs and struts and whatever other mechanical metaphor keep clicking into place. People are being kind to me, smiling, wanting to insert themselves into my existence. These weird coincidences keep happening, strands of the past crossing over the present. There was a red-headed boy I apparently scared the shit out of in college who's turned into this absolutely brilliant man whose brain I want to pick for hours and who's made me forget I hate being a passenger in the car. Then there's a burst from Squeezebox days gone by in the form of Gio, beautiful Gio who's now this almost glowing zen well adult for want of a better word. And the enduring thread of my beating heart. Almost frayed and sensitive to every breeze but still solid, damn you to hell. Whoever said it is better to have loved and lost then not to have loved at all is an asshole. I don't want to lose. I will keep running forward with my annoying stubbornness. So if the fall comes, if the punchline turns out to be at my expense, then who knows what will happen. But now I am happy in my underwear in Brooklyn. I am home.
P.S on the Fleetwood Mac covers album, Dreams by The Kills. Soundtrack to my week.
Monday, 13 August 2012
Sunday, 12 August 2012
My mind feels like a vintage crystal chandelier. There's a breeze all around in my head, last night it was a gale, sometimes it builds up to a whirlwind. The prisms twirl and sway with the current, reflecting bright in the sun and dark as a black hole when the clouds build up. They make pretty sounds then crash together almost to breaking point, sudden like a door slamming because of the gush of air.
I kept humming Debussy's Clair de Lune and Satie's Gymnopédies but they broke down occasionally into the dissonant clangs of an angry child taking over the piano. I'm calm though, the tornadoes can't lift me up, the brutal change of melody doesn't make me jump out of my skin. But in the calm everything is vivid, the colors are brighter, burnt fields, acid sky, rusty metal of the Underwood blinking at me. The smells sharp, dog, ravintsara, cornbread. There's a longing there, a physical ache when my heart valves close and open close and open. I can feel the blood pumping through my body, going round and round, no final destination really, but with purpose.
There's a little voice, what is left of being sensible I guess (I have reason, too much of it perhaps, maybe that is instability in a way), the voice whispers "give up, give up, move on, run, run, run". But it isn't very loud and the chiming prisms of my head drown it out, almost. Maybe it's stubbornness to hang on to something when there seems no reason to, it is foolishness to be sure. But there is certainty too, pointless conviction maybe but a belief in magic. "But, said Alice, the world has absolutely no sense, who's stopping us from inventing one?" I would like to be right, I would like my sense to be the right sense. I would like to try. I would try hard.
In the meantime I am not in a bad place. Literally. The water's current is pulling at the river weeds underneath the clear surface, they undulate around the rocks. Is it a cliché when it is happening right in front of you? I could dip my toes in if I just reached another couple of inches but it would break up the picture. There's a few water hens on the other shore, napping. Even the dogs are quiet, maybe there is wind in their heads too, rocking them into a lull. There's real music drifting out from the house. It is quiet otherwise and I am almost alone. But my heart beats hard, open, close, open, close.
Monday, 6 August 2012
I like to watch men fight. With brute force but also with skill. If possible with some kind of dramatic stake at play. And preferably wearing minimal clothing. Sweat glistening on taut skin with just the right amount of blood and bruising.
Now to lessen your gasps of horror I must specify that I like men fighting in films. Real movies. Not your borderline snuff youtube fare. Real life fights aren't pleasurable in my opinion, nor esthetic. Rarely justified and if you stand too close things usually get messy. I have nothing against throwing the odd well-deserved punch or bitch slap (a certain Texan born again goth chick could attest to the skill of my left hook but I shouldn't brag). The aftermath of a real fight can have its allure. Nursing a broken face, especially when it is a handsome broken face, has its charm. But real fights have real consequences, broken lives in addition to broken cartilage and all that blah. I prefer celluloid violence, passionately cheering on the underdog for 6.8 minutes even though the outcome is obvious. Yelling at my TV screen like a moron. Pulse racing at the sheer homoerotic thrill of it all.
So let's talk about these boys. I'm no fight movie expert. I actually googled Best Fight Movies and didn't know half of the results nor particularly agreed with the ones I did know. Let's just say this is my own condensed gallery. I watched Warrior the other night. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. No offense to either of these chaps but if I could Frankenstein Tom's head onto Joel's body and have the result delivered to my doorstep I would be a happy camper, at least for a few days. Why the switcharoo? Watch the movie. Tom's overdeveloped Godzilla trapezoids are just too over the top, even for me. And Joel's lips are just too inexistent for any real use. But back to the fight scenes. The nice thing about the MMA and UFC stuff as opposed to straight boxing flicks is that it gets dirty real fast. I mean why settle for a clean uppercut when you can enjoy kicking, grappling, make Hogan proud wrestling moves and even artistic strangulation? All with shiny bodies, appropriate grunts and minus the smell. In this movie, true to form, all the bad guys have awful haircuts and ridiculous permanent glares but T and J throttle and get throttled with consistent pathos and the sheen of valor. Whether it's because the nasty bank is going to take away the house or the grief of losing your boyfriend (oops comrade) in arms in Irak, these boys give it all, with heart. The final fight, pitting brother against brother is true glistening Greek myth come to life. It manages to be both completely screamingly camp and incredibly hardcore masculine. And what could be more attractive than that?
Warrior does have a huge debt to pay though. Because let's face it, if it hadn't been for Jean-Claude Van Damme you wouldn't be seeing any Oscar-worthy white boys fighting on screen today. I'm serious. JCVD's Kickboxer and Bloodsport began the noble white boys quest for blood stained valor. Sure Rocky Balboa and LaMotta's broken noses are the holy grail. But those are boxing movies, not the same as fighting movies. And Bruce Lee and the Asian legacy are their own separate realm. JCVD introduced an entire skinny pimply faced generation to the epic power of the over-your-head-kick-motherfucker. I mean he made dancing badly in pleated pants while beating up bar patrons cool. I wouldn't recommend re-watching these movies sober, they have not aged well, but you should remember the mixture of brutality and dare I say ballet fondly. JC's characters fought for a reason more noble than mere financial gain, and paved the way for movies like The Wrestler, The Fighter and Warrior to be considered as more than just base entertainment.
Some good fight movies will never reach intellectual pseudo-respectability but still deserve recognition. In this category there is a shining star: Roadhouse, Patrick Swayze's god awful barroom brawl movie is genius in some moments. He almost rips the other guy's throat out and is still the hero! Wearing pastel sleeveless tshirts! Oh and did I mention his character is an NYU Philosophy graduate who becomes a nationally-famous bouncer? Yea Patrick!
In terms of fight valor I do have to say the prize goes to Viggo Mortensen for his naked Russian steam room beating. Now some of you may scream but what about Fight Club at this point? In my opinion a very good but even more so overrated movie. Because honestly, that film is more about angst and interior turmoil than real purposeful head bashing. And way too many annoying hipster boys are devout followers of it. Although I have to say that I always do enjoy watching Edward Norton beat the crap out of Jared Leto... But back to Eastern Promises and hubba bubba Viggo. There have actually been theses' written about that knife fight. And to be honest it isn't about hitting pause at the right moment to catch Viggo's naughty bits. Frankly they jangle around enough not to warrant a pause button. The scene is brutal with a capital B, lasts what seems to be hours but is actually only 3 and a half minutes (it took two days to film) and is.... absolutely beautiful. Am not saying that in a kinky way. Well not entirely. The beauty of it is the blatant manipulation that Cronenberg subjects us to. By having Viggo naked and his two attackers fully clothed, in black no less, he creates the perfect representation of man's vulnerability when faced with brutal fate. It's the fragility of the "I" matched to the overwhelming "we", the collective exerting revenge on the wayward individual. The metaphor is obvious but nonetheless effective. And, well, Viggo is naked.
But I should talk about the grail. Some people prefer Raging Bull over Rocky like others prefer Keith over Mick. Raging Bull is often considered cooler, more underground, rawer, same as Keith. But Rocky has weathered the years, spawned offspring, some malformed and some worthy of daddy-o. And please the resounding "Adriaaaaaaan!!!" is (almost) as worthy as the eponymous "Stellaaaaaaaaaa!!". Rocky Balboa was a working class hero, Sylvester Stallone keeps going with the Expendables 2 (5? 6?) but in a way that paradox makes it even better. The blood sweat and tears are worthy in all of the Rocky movies, even the worse ones (Rocky 4 anyone?). And for my generation Rocky is one of those movies where we remember exactly where we were when we first saw them. I shadow-boxed in front of my mirror after watching the first one on VHS in 1982 in London, and I performed the same moves 25 years later when Balboa came out. As a 9 year-old I remember thinking how cool those shiny guys looked in the ring. There was no disgust nor fear at the violence, just amazement at the nobility of it all. A child's naiveté of course but not an unpleasant one. The Wrestler is a gem too but I have to say that I prefer watching Mickey scrap it up in the early years and yes it is about physique here but come on who are we kidding? I won't lie, the main reason I enjoy watching all these boys fight is because they look hot doing so. In a way that is quasi-impossible in a real life fight. Getting punched and kicked hurts and pain is rarely pretty. But on screen the angles are artistic, the lighting purposeful, the music anthemic and grrr these are men, hear them roar. Just like modern guys are supposed to have feelings, and cry and change diapers, modern woman are supposed to go for the sensitive deep type. And we do. On the muscle scale most of my boyfriends have been on the never-swatted-more-than-a-fly end of the spectrum. And I have no negative remarks to make on their masculinity (well almost none). But buff must be nice. Not man-boobs bull-neck buff, but buff, bulgy and beautiful (the three Bs) made out of real strength and not just steroid air pumps. And well, while we're at it buff and an extra B for brainy. I guess that would just be greedy though....
Time to go watch another movie.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
Don't worry, you haven't missed an episode, I am not getting married. Or remarried. Actually my love life is still a train wreck that refuses to come to a halt. But that's another story. Matrimony has been a prevalent theme these past few days. Like a giant Where's Waldo painting with multiple, almost too easy, answers.
The week started off with one of my best friends from Bennington announcing her engagement to her long time boyfriend. The fact that the proposal was performed in front of her family and his kids is just perfect to me. No irony here, everyone please clap and cry. This beautiful woman deserves this and a million more movie moments. Of course if I do not get an invitation to the wedding I will start cursing her daily in ten different languages. Just kidding M. Well a little bit. I really really do want to come to your wedding. Please?
Then I got a phone call from another friend announcing her pregnancy and impending nuptials. The only hiccup was when I congratulated her and X's happiness and she mentioned casually that X was neither the daddy-o nor groom. Oh well, go with the flow right?
Driving through town the other day, oblivious to the rest of the world and singing delicately along to Jayne County, I had to stop for someone crossing the street while a wedding picture was taken on the town hall steps, overweight meringue girl at its center. It was hot, the windows were down, I was not popular.
I came across Jade Jagger's wedding photos in a gossip magazine. Of course the gossip magazine was thrown at my head from a passing car by a strange man wearing drag and I didn't buy it myself (no comment). I used to be very jealous of Jade Jagger when I was seventeen. My much older boyfriend at the time kept a photo of Jade in his bathtub on his bathroom wall. I declined having my own bubble moment immortalized but I was always furious to have this proof of previous bathtub usage thrown at me. Yes even back then I liked to delude myself that I was the only one that ever counted. Anyway, the main wedding pic is priceless. Jade still has that preternatural I'm a cheeky girl grin, her husband looks benign (a DJ, of course) but Bianca and Mick are...well... Bianca looks like she eats puppies for breakfast and currently has one painfully stuck in her esophagus and Mick is looking way way up and off to the left (probably towards his giantess of a girlfriend) grinning like the mad hatter whose suit he stole. Perfection really.
A couple of nights ago, after some therapy worthy texting, I was asked to be someone's date for a wedding in October. The words tuxedo and clinchy 30s dress were thrown about. Because I am a moron I of course said yes immediately like a giddy teenage idiot. If this ever actually happens though (me going, I think the wedding is pretty much set in steel, kryptonite, whatever) it will be a Lourdes type miracle. I will eat a dog treat if I'm wrong.
Then finally, last night over dinner with a friend and her kids I recounted my own skip down wedding lane. How the judge had asked us both to raise our right hands and swear that we weren't related to each other (gotta love Virginia), how during the actual ceremony I started crying and laughing hysterically (can anyone say "omen") and how finally we had been old enough to get married (I could say ancient by southern standards but that would be bitchy) but definitely not old enough to stay married. Of course only to realize that the lovely friend sitting next to me had gotten married younger than I was and is still happily married a few decades later.
I did manage to get my foot out of my mouth in time for dessert but anyway, that was a lot of wedding happenstance over just a few days. I'm not actually cynical about marriage. Every single person in my family has been divorced. At least once. But it's never stopped any of us of gleefully jumping into it. All the reasons not to get married are perfectly valid. But it's nice to make that promise to someone, I'm all for naive hope. And wedding presents are cool, especially if they're exchangeable. Now if only someone would magically turn my train wreck into a shiny locomotive. Choo choo baby.