Sunday, November 30, 2008

Toni Basil

Everyone knows Toni Basil for that one hit "Hey, Mickey" and yeah the cheerleader outfit and her crazy nose job. But did you know she was 39 when she made that video, and her life is totally long and crazy before and after that. I always thought that song was kind of annoying, but I started looking into her a few years ago when the Semina Culture: Wallace Berman And His Circle exhibition was making the rounds. Thats when I realized Tony Basil was once a beatnik which made me give her life a second look.
Antonia Christina Basilotta was born in Philadelphia in 1943 to a vaudvillian dancer mother and orchestra conductor father. She spent her teen years in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and got some work as a go-go dancer in 60s teen movies. She also worked as assistant choreographer on Shindig! a music variety show. She began her music career in 1966 with the hit Breakaway. Toni had been hanging out with the beatnik group often featured in the magazine Semina (created by Wallace Berman)and through them her love of dance and acting expanded in a more experimental and artistic direction. The artist Bruce Conner made this video to accompany Breakaway it features Toni Basil's dancing and choreography....

Uploaded by bufalo75

Toni Basil started making her own short films the first of which was Our Trip (1967) -an experimental movie featuring her as well as Teri Garr and Ann Marshall romping around in Europe hanging out with rock bands and going wild. I wish I could find a clip online but there isn't one. It was featured in the Semina Culture show in Santa Monica, Berkeley, or New York so maybe you've seen it. She made a few other shorts featuring Wallace Berman, Dean Stockwell, and Billy Gray hanging out in California. Then in 1968 she made "A Dance Film Inspired by Jim Morrison" which featured two dancers performing her choreography and some era appropriate strobe light effects.
Here are some stills from Our Trip and a book she made

For the next decade or so she acted in various films such as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, and The Last Movie. She also continued as a choreographer for American Graffiti and other movies. In the 1970s Toni joined the street dance group The Lockers, and though she wasn't one of the founding members, the group credits her with being one of the driving forces in bringing them and street dance to the attention of the American public. She also started making and choreographing music videos.
Here's one of hers that's a Devo song (they do the instrumentals in this version as well) and also features some of the gang from The Lockers...

Just to give you an idea of how busy she was she appeared multiple times on Saturday Night Live with The Lockers in the '70s, choreographed David Bowie's tours in 1974 and 1987, as well as most of the memorable stuff David Byrne is known for, like in the "Once in a Lifetime" video. At this point she's worked on so many videos and movies that you might as well IMDB it cause I can't list them all here.
Toni Basil is now 65 and still super busy. She's choreographing tours for Tina Turner and Bette Midler, working on shows with VH1 and movies with Adam Sandler. As an artist I like knowing about all the different stages of her career. Its nice to know that as long as you're following what makes you happy it can lead anywhere - whether that be beatniks or MTV or both. And to conclude I leave you with this totally ridiculous video.....

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I should probably write something again instead of just posting music videos...don't worry I'm working on it.
Here is the fabulous Bongwater. Ann Magnuson can we hang out?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Queen

Queen Latifah just makes so much sense.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Occupational Stylings

I found this great book at a flea market in CT. So, don't worry its going to solve all of your "what to wear to work" problems. You'll probably get a promotion and a raise too!

This is the look for doctors.......

The communicator.....umm for when you need to communicate things...

Maybe this is a gallerist, she's got those picture slide things..

Some details

For when you need to travel for work...

I guess this look works for a wide variety of you wanna look sexy for.

Yea, this is what I do at work. And with that smile.

This look is for creative jobs, hey its me on my way to studio.

Here are some looks for you other creative types.

Hey Kathleen, this one is totally you!

Okay ladies, start working on it.

For hair tips you can turn to these looks. I'm gonna go with the Nancy Reagan.

If you aren't sure who you are and what you want to do with your life....take this quiz and it'll help you figure out what outfit to wear.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Me Myself I

Joan Armatrading - Me Myself I
Sorry this is sort of a bad quality video. But I love this song and video. This ones dedicated to my mom, who also loves Joan Armatrading -are you reading this mom?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Isabelle Eberhardt

If I could make a movie about anything it would be a movie on the life of Isabelle Eberhardt. I sometimes fantasize about the sets and costuming, picturing it lavish and dark, kind of like the recent The Last Mistress . Isabelle Eberhardt was a woman who lived in the late 1800s and whose story spans many countries and convictions, in an overlapping way that is rarely taught or seen when we look back at history.
Her story begins even before her birth, in Russia, where her mother, Mme de Moerder was married to an elderly general and close advisor to Tsar Alexander II. They had three children together before her mother fell for the children's tutor, Alexandre Trophimowsky. The tutor was an Armenian anarchist, a friend of Tolstoy, and a believer in a new utopia. Mme de Moerder and the tutor soon took off for Geneva, Switzerland -supposedly because she was ill and needed to live in kinder weather. Another child was born four months later and the captain, back in Russia, died a few months after that. So with his money they bought a villa with plenty of land and greenhouses, where they lived never admitting that they were a couple. This was the family that, six years later, Isabelle Eberhardt(her mothers maiden name) was born into. Alexandre raised her on an extensive education of botany, chemistry, philosophy, and anarchy. She spoke French and Russian at home but easily picked up German, Latin, Arabic, Italian, and English. Alexandre insisted that all the children keep their hair cut short and dressed as boys so that as Bakunin said "every child of either sex should be prepared as much for a life of the mind as for a life of work, so that all may grow up equally into complete men". Unsurprisingly, the neighbors were not big fans of the family.

Isabelle grew into an incredibly educated young woman who at 19 began to have fiction published in various literary magazines in Paris. She also worked translating the works of Russian poets for publication. Isabelle enjoyed dressing in a sailor uniform and making out with older men at bars. She was also around this time involved in a group of 'Russian terrorists' as she put it.
However the sailor suit and Russian anarchy were soon replaced with an obsession with Algeria. In 1897, Isabelle and her mother moved to Bone, Algeria where they both converted to Islam. Isabelle continued to write for literary magazines and newspapers, sharing both news and short stories based on her new home. It was at this time that she wrote her first novel, The Vagabond, the story of an anarchist medical student. Her mother died shortly after and a few years later Alexandre also died. She returned to Switzerland for the funeral, next she visited her brother in Sardinia, and then she spent time in Paris socializing with other writers and working as a journalist.
In 1900, Isabelle, dressing as an Algerian man and going by the name Si Mahmoud, returned to Algeria. She bought a horse and traveled the Saharan desert, befriending the Bedouin tribes and learning more of their oppression under the French. She was known as an expert equestrian and no biography goes without mentioning the fact that she drank a great deal, smoke kif, and slept with a wide variety of men.
Around this time Isabelle joined the Qadiriyya, a radical Sufi brotherhood that opposed the French colonial rule of Algeria. She used her writing to expose the cruelty imposed by the French rule and the determined beauty of the Arab culture. The nomadic lifestyle called and even though she had fallen in love with Slimene Ehnni, a naturalized French Arab, Isabelle continued to wander to Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and further. She made friends and lovers and kept extensive journals. Eventually she returned and married Slimene.
At one point, around 1901, a fanatic, upset by her androgynous presence in the Qadiriyya, attempted to kill her with a sabre. He badly wounded her arm, an injury she never recovered from. Yet, Isabelle empathized with the man and defended him in court, pleading for his life.
At 27 years old Isabelle Eberhardt was killed in a flash flood in the Sahara desert. Her husband died a few years later. Her novels and diaries are still easy to find and many biographies have been published about her. This story of her life is incredible in comparison to the restrictions most women at this time lived with. We are generally taught that the girls in Little Women are rebels, and although I do have a soft spot for Jo and the mom, there is something really powerful about learning about the real existence of someone who even today would be a known wild child. Isabelle Eberhardt's life proves the possibilities in thinking outside of your own culture and of being something more than a product of your time.

Rachel Maddow on The Colbert Report

My Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow obsessions have actually reached such a level that I'm having dreams about them(I was a jilted lover stalking Colbert and dancing to hip hop wearing matching outfits with Maddow). So when she came on his show, well I had to put it up here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Tuesday night after Maja's birthday dinner Kathleen and I were walking to Union Square to take the subway home. We had plans to go home and probably watch the Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart election coverage or something along those lines. I figured it would take forever for the results to come in and that I'd probably wake up at 5am to check the Internet and find out that way. But about a block from Union Square we started hearing screams - at first I thought it was just kids at a bar.....but then it was like the whole city was screaming, it was coming from all the huge apartment buildings and delivery men and taxis started honking their horns. Kathleen and I sort of just stared at each other and wondered out loud if the Virgin Mega store or somewhere with a TV was open so we could figure out what was going on. Lucky for us, four NYU girls wearing pajama pants ran by and yelled at us that Obama had won. Of course we screamed and hugged and then blindly sort of followed the pajama pant gals over to Union Square. Within minutes it went from about 30 people to hundreds then thousands of people. As far as you could see people were coming to celebrate. A group of kids from Brooklyn had sewn the most massive American flag I've ever seen and we all hoisted it above our heads. The chanting and screaming went on and on and the flag covered the street lamps in the square to make this tented party effect. We were getting texts that McCain was giving his concession speech I called my parents who were so dead asleep that they hung up on me (and then turned on the TV so they could watch the speeches). It was a rare moment to see New York so happy and patriotic and to feel part of it. Like Michele Obama, it's been a long time since I've felt proud of my country and that night it felt like there was some sort of hope not just for the future but for right now, that people are believing in a different kind of America then they've been sold for, well as long as I could vote.
So now that I've been all mushy, what the hell on Prop 8. Lets hope we get some more equality in the upcoming years.

Here's a grainy video I took with my cellphone right after Obama was announced as the winner...

And here is a video I found on youtube of what it looked like 20 minutes later. Everyone under the flag

Yes I'm a Witch

Sadly, youtube is seriously lacking in actual old music videos by Yoko Ono. So here is a fan video of a song I really like. If you haven't listened to her stuff I really recommend it.

Monday, November 3, 2008


What became known as the "The Night of Terror" took place on November 14th 1917. 33 women protesting for the right to vote were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, pinched, kicked, and eventually arrested by 44 club wielding men in Occoquan, Virginia. They beat Lucy Burn and chained her hands above her head to her cell bars. They so badly hurt Dora Lewis that she passed out and her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Dora was dead and suffered a heart attack from panic. They were kept dehydrated for weeks and served worm infested food. One of their leaders, Alice Paul, went on a hunger strike and they tried for weeks to shove a feeding tube down her throat, only making her vomit.

Women in the United States finally got the right to vote in 1920. It wasn't until the 50s that Japanese Americans were granted citizenship and allowed to vote. All Mexican Americans didn't have the right to vote until 1971. 1971 was also the year that anyone eighteen years or older could vote... kids didn't want to fight in Vietnam if they couldn't vote. The history of Native Americans being able to vote is so disgustingly messed up that I can't even find a specific year that all states were finally allowing them to vote. Throughout history there have been all sorts of efforts to keep minorities, women, young people, those with disabilities from voting.
So don't get all lazy on me. In 2004 20 million unmarried women didn't vote. That makes a difference. If we don't vote, politicians won't care about our rights. So get out there and do it!

Sarah Haskins

Sarah Haskins rules. Though chances are you haven't heard of her cause she's on this show called Info Mania thats on one of those cable channels no one knows about (Current TV anyone?). I actually did catch it on real tv one time but you have better luck watching her online at their website.
Sarah does this segment called Target Women that exposes things that are aimed at women like commercials, chick flicks, and political tactics. She pinpoints things that I find myself wondering about why is yogurt just for women now, and why are birth control commercials all about periods and not about birth control. She has no shame when it comes to talking about laxatives or wearing unflattering workout clothes. Its kind of refreshing that she hasn't been scooped up by a bigger channel yet because it gets a little freaky the way female comedians are expected to get tans and hair extensions immediately. Yet, I and all her other internet fans are still holding out for Sarah getting her own stint on the Daily Show.

Here's the most recent Target Women

And here are a few more.....

You can see more Target Women at

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

Okay, so I know that Romy and Michele are not the classic role models. But there was just always something about them that I admired. I like that they congratulate each other on their all candy diet. They have a great friendship and a lot of freedom and I guess I kind of always identified with how in the flashbacks they aren't popular and they aren't geeks...they're just these two girls who are into looking like Madonna's Like A Virgin tour in a town that seems full of girls in those horrible Dillard prom dress ads from the 80s. Romy and Michele are pretty much doing what they want to do and having fun- well until they have to go to their high school reunion. Then they get all caught up in the classic crap of what people are going to think. They start working out like crazy and hunting down boyfriends and better jobs and when it doesn 't work out they start pigging out on junk food and have the following conversation.....

Michele(Looking at fashion magazine): Wow, the top female executives are all so pretty.

Romy: Those aren't the actual executives, Michele, they're models.

Michele: Oh I thought they looked familiar. God, they really look like executives don't they?

Romy: That's only because they're wearing those stupid suits and phony glasses and carrying briefcases.

Then Romy hits on the great idea that they can just dress up like business women and they'll wear business suits and she'll borrow someones fancy car and they'll get these huge early 90s cellphones and no one will know the difference.

You can watch the interaction here - its like at the 8 minute point

The thing about this whole concept is - since career women were such a hot topic in the 80s and 90s my generation grew up on this idea of the fast change career girl makeover. Who can really blame Romy and Michele for thinking it'll work. It worked for Melanie Griffith in Working Girl . She figures out how to dress for Manhattan instead of Staten Island and starts showing up for her boss's meetings, while the boss is away, and pretty soon she's a top exec. Or there's one of my favorites, Christina Applegate's makeover from high schooler to high powered designer in Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead. She dresses up in her mom's clothes and fakes an impressive resume and next thing ya know she's designing multiple fashion lines and orchestrating the runway shows. Both of these characters really master the art of delegation. So basically our blueprint for success is to look the part and fake a few things and you'll not only become the boss but you'll probably land the boss's boyfriend too. Note the fact that its a boyfriend because many of the times you'll overthrow another woman in your rise to the top.
The fact that Michele thinks that the models in the magazine are actually executives is because that is how high powered women are represented to us. They become fetish symbols centered around our desire to act out various power structures. Women's desire to play the career girl character is actually a desire to be noticed and taken seriously and to be an important part of the world. If women think the path to success leads through a montage type makeover scene they'll spend less time actually learning a skill and more time devoting their current wages to spurring the economy - gathering whatever the latest professional outfit and accessories are. Inconveniently, whats appropriate for professional women changes pretty much every season unlike the classic male suit which changes slightly maybe every decade.
So of course Romy and Michele's plan backfires because they haven't even thought about what their "business" is. But by the end of the movie they've realized that they are successful because they have each other and they get to have fun on their own terms. I won't give the rest away but I encourage everyone to watch the movie and to not be confused in life when models dress as executives. And I'd just like to point out that this movie relates to my last post because Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are hilarious and there are plenty of other funny women in the movie as well.

Here's another fun clip