Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bring It On New Year!

Apparently sales of Emergeny Contraception double the day after New Years Eve. This is a funny ad reminding you to back up your BC for the New Year.

Okay time to go party like its the age of Aquarius and we're an Army Of Lovers!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Female Sensibility

Lynda Benglis- Female Sensibility (1974)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy last day of Hanukkah. Here's the old Adam Sandler classic.

Its Kinda Like Ya Know, That Time Of Year

The Christmas Episode of My So Called Life

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Da Cherry Bomb

Finally! The trailer is out for The Runaways.

Although my expectations for the movie are just sort of lukewarm- I'm sure they're going to water it down a bit- I am excited to see a movie with some teen girls who rock - and also staring some teen girls who can act. I've really liked Kristen Stewart since Panic Room and I think its awesome that Dakota Fanning is coming into her more adult self with an awesome role like Cherie Currie. Also up and comers Alia Shawkat and Scout Taylor Compton have been pretty awesome so far so I'm glad they're getting some good parts.

The Runaways were sort of like the girl punk/pop version of the Modern Lovers in the way that almost everyone went on to have a killer career after the band.

There was Lita Ford the lead guitarist.

Then Lita went on to become the Godmother Of Metal. My favorite Goth Metal bar Lucky 13 has tons of Lita photos on the wall.

Of course there was also Cherie Currie, The Runaway's lead singer at 15!

Cherie went on to have a pretty cool acting career in Foxes, Parasite, Twilight Zone the movie, and This Is Spinal Tap. She also put out a solo album and an album with her twin sister.
These days she enjoys making wood sculptures with her chainsaw.

The Runaways also had a rotating bassist position that was filled with all sorts of gals, such as Mickie Steele who went on to be in The Bangles and Jackie Fox who went on to Harvard to become a lawyer.

But honestly, my heart has always belonged to Joan Jett

When I was a depressed teenager I hit a point where I'd completely given up on feeling good. Life involved the saddest of indie music and trying to sleep as much as possible so I wouldn't think about my shitty boyfriend and why he'd dumped me. Then I discovered Joan Jett and AC/DC and it was like having a total breakthrough. I believe Oprah refers to this as "your ah-ha moment". Anyhow, I realized that I didn't have to listen to sad music, and I didn't have to save the lost cause of a boyfriend. I'd always known about Joan Jett but hadn't ever considered it a thing to listen to on your own. I'd put on the Joan Jett and try on tight black jeans and practice what my "look" was going to be for college. It's totally embarrassing to think about that phase now, but having some bad-ass music and college to look forward to was the only thing that got me through those last few months of living at home. That summer I used to tape over old audio tapes by putting tape over this little indent on the top - so I could listen to them in my car. Anyhow, I ended up taping over my mom's autographed Livingston Taylor tape with the best of Joan Jett. This consequently got my cd player and all my music taken away until I could find her a new version. In a roundabout way it lead to her finding out that I'd been smoking pot and drunk driving so the car was taken away. I was working at a music store that summer and found her a copy of The Best of Livingston Taylor, the best I could do. However when I think back on that crappy summer, I think about the video to I Love Rock and Roll. Joan is singing about a 17 year old boy standing by the record machine and how she knows she's gonna make him hers. It felt really cool to have a song about a girl checking out a 17 year old guy. It felt like there was going to be some place for me that had cute guys my age who were into good music - but more importantly it felt like I could just do Joan's swagger and call the shots all on my own.

Joan Jett continues to rock even today.

Did you guys know she produced this Bikini Kill song Rebel Girl. You can totally tell. More proof that Joan Jett will continue to influence generations of future musicians.

I hope The Runaways movie is cool. Cause when you watch this video below you can just tell how bad girls probably wanted to be just like them. I don't think I'll ever stop wanting to be like them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vintage Fits Like A Fine Wine

Threadbared posted an awesome article the other day about the political ramifications or at least insinuation of what we wear - especially in reference to vintage. I was super into this since I think vintage stuff shaped who I am before I was even old enough to pick out my own clothes. My maternal grandmother has the most amazing attic and basement full of everything anyone in the family ever wore. Her house itself is totally crisp and modern in that Mad Men meets 1980s mirrors and fake plants way - but the attic and basement are so packed that only one narrow path leads through each. You might find her sister's prom dress from the 1930s or the boxes of 1960s floor length cocktail party dresses.
Or if you take another turn it'll be amazing shirts from the trips to Hawaii in the 70s or cruises in the 80s. And it isn't just my grandma's clothes...its all three of her children's from infancy until they left the house in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I've worn these clothes since I was a baby. I grew up not really thinking it was weird to wear pinafores over all my dresses at a time when everyone else was wearing neon. This probably was helped along by the fact that the only barbies I owned were from my paternal grandmother who'd discovered a box of 1960s and 70s Barbies and Skippers in her own attic. In Jr. High and early High School I was totally a snob about what was really "hippie clothes" since all of mine came from the actual era of hippie. I felt bad for girls who had to buy their paisley shirts at the mall. Next was the era of the hipster t-shirt when I found a stockpile of 1980 Summer Olymics shirts. Then I discovered the furthest section of the attic with my aunt's 1980s aerobics clothes and a new era was ushered in. Of course the elastic was shot in almost everything but it was a phase when I didn't mind replacing elastic or sewing things to be tighter or just layering them to work out. I think all my galpals in art school had an embarrassing 80s bathing suit -probably the one thing you shouldn't wear due to the disappearing elastic problem.
Above is me and Gram in the 80s. And me on my first day of first grade. Below is Gram and Pop in the 50s, and Mom and Dad in the 80s-dressed for a costume party. We still have at least one of the dresses I'm wearing, Gram's dress below, Dad's pants, and the shirt mom is wearing which was my great Aunt Gia's from the 30s.

In their post on vintage Threadbared mentions Gertie Lang's Blog and her post Vintage Sewing and Gender Politics. Gertie, who is really into 1950s fashion, received a comment that was concerned about the celebration of Fifties fashion being an un-feminist move. Gertie, who does consider herself a feminist, wrote the following questions as a way of thinking about this.
  • Is wearing a fashion from an oppressive time period indeed a symbol of that oppression?
  • Is there such a thing as "reclaiming" these fashions so that they are symbols of power rather than domination?
  • Should we only make patterns from the eras that were the least oppressive to women?
  • If wiggle skirts and the like are offensive to those with feminist sensibilities, what is the alternative? I mean, what could we possibly wear that would establish us as feminists to those who view us?
  • Are 50’s wiggle skirts really that different from modern pencil skirts?
  • What about current fashions that are restrictive? Stilettos, Spanx, etc? Skinny jeans? Are these symbols of oppression towards women?

Gertie responds by saying that she usually changes the patterns a little bit to be more contemporary and girdle free - and that she sees it as a way of honoring the lives of the women who came before her. On the blog Renegade Bean, they discuss how although they love this era of fashion it is at times hard to overlook the fact that as Asian Americans this would have been a doubly difficult time with the repercussions of the Japanese Internment Camps and Chinese Exclusion Act. However both Blog's writers admit that they will go on loving vintage -with all the good and bad baggage it entails.

I've also thought about this era of vintage a lot. I think its why I tend to like a mix of eras. I find that my generation tends to be a motley crew of appropriation, at this point we've run out of eras and we're back in the 90's - in a decade we're old enough to actually remember.

I guess I've had some phases of being skeptical of 1950s fashion - there were a few girls I remember who did a really uptight version of it and were strictly into gardening, cleaning, and baking pie's for their crushes. I think that's why as in and out and in again as the riot grrl vintage look is, I never really loose my love of it. In any city with a good music scene and a high unemployment rate you will always be able to find these girls. I think I love it because the look is more post modern and self aware. Its like if you took Betty Draper out for a burger and a Bikini Kill show and then threw her in the mosh pit. Its a look that's all tongue in cheek with the concept of femininity. I mean maybe its a little bit too much like those magnets with the sassy 50s housewives on them.

Nah, riot girls had more sass.

Babes in Toyland

Then when I think about it there was also a lot of 50s and 60s nostalgia in the 80s. Just look at the B-52s. Cindy Wilson and Katie Pierson rocked those beehives. It wasn't quite as roughed up but it was certainly self aware. They don't look too uncomfortable in those outfits either.

This is my favorite B-52's video Theme For a Future Generation. Does that mean they made it for us?

Its interesting though to think about what the eras that were great for women were. Like if you're gonna wear vintage....are the 30s really so progressive? Even the 70s were pretty rough. Wearing your hair long isn't really a sign of emancipation any more.

Well unless you're black. It seems that going natural with your hair is still fairly unusual. I bet people in the 70s thought it would be old hat by now.

People really went crazy when Solange Knowles cut her hair short and natural recently.

As far as the 70s go there are plenty of girls who tried to look punk and rebellious in a more dude rocker sense. Take this video where L7 looks like a mix between the Ramones and Nivana.

But then again all the boys probably wanted to be Patti Smith.

It seems that everyone was always looking to some other era. Kim Gordon had her ode to Karen Carpenter. John Waters helped us remember all the naughty bits of the 1950s. And Grace Jones was doing Don Draper way before GQ started declaring it the new look.

I think that in a lot of ways embracing vintage fashion has always been a feminist move. First of all one of the most powerful modes of oppression that we still deal with is economically. Women are expected to constantly be upping their wardrobe to stay more current and therefore appear relevant and worthy. By being creative with vintage (or your own patterns like Gertie) you can stay outside of the massive expense of trends that have been developed to keep you in a hamster wheel of desperation. Its also a good way of keeping your head clear to make your own decisions. While I totally recommend making your own better fitted vintage patterns or altering your vintage to fit ( we don't live in the age of girdles anymore), I do think that there can be positive aspects to walking a mile in someone else's high waisted pants. Sometimes older is better.

Your Holiday Wish List

So here are a few presents I'm pretty sure I don't need for Christmas. At least not this year.

Toilet Bowl Lip Gloss - For when you gotta go...

Miss Army Knife - Includes mirror, nail file, perfume bottle, etc.

Fetus Cookie Cutter - So you too can have a bun in the oven.

Kush Sleeping Bra- Latest in the category of "retarded shit to keep your tits perky". This thing is so phallic you know no woman could have invented it.

Paul Rudd Uggs - This is like when someone takes something really good and messes it up. Like raisins in chocolate chip cookies. Paul get off those uggs.

Instant Arm Lift - I'm sure no one will notice that huge piece of tape on your arm.

Around The Way Girl

Sorry the posting has been slow. I've been away at the Vermont Studio Center the last month and surprisingly didn't have that much time for posting. But I'll be back this weekend and should be back on schedule soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dangerous Women

This is one of my favorite parts from the movie D.O.A.
Jaime Pressly did all her own stunts.

Artist Marina Abramovic recreats the old Valie Export piece, Action Pants- Genital Panic.

The only girl on an all guy hockey team- sometimes ya just gotta kick some ass.

Even your grandma can do it!

Tarantino's take on the topic.

Chloe of Switzerland has some awesome martial arts moves. Gonna practice these for the next party. I settle my scores on the dance floor.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Time To Unwind

I'm up in Vermont for the month. Since VT is the most granola of all the states I thought I'd throw some leading ladies of reggae your way.

Althea And Donna - Upton Top Ranking

Judy Mowatt -Slave Queen

Sister Carol -Roots Natty Congo

aww shit , here's another by Judy Mowatt
Black Woman

Dawn Penn -You Don't Love Me (No No No)

Marcia Griffiths with Bob Marley - Young, Gifted, And Black
Marcia is best known for Electric Boogie which you might know as the Electric Slide

Diana King - Shy Guy

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Girlfriend

Just a fun little clip from comedian Jenny Slate and her video making partner Gabe.

The Girlfriend

"the Girlfriend" from Gabe & Jenny on Vimeo.

Lady Doctors : Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy, and a possibly controversial stance

Okay I'm just gonna say it, I like Grey's Anatomy, but these days I love Private Practice. If you read this blog, you're probably over the fact that I love crappy tv and b-grade movies so lets not deal with the topic of actual quality control. I'm more interested in the development of character and plot lines with these two shows. I got kinda into Grey's Anatomy a few years ago and when Kate Walsh's character Addison came along I really wasn't feeling her. Yet, Addison is kinda a slow burn, and when I started finally watching her spin-off show Private Practice I found it fun and faster paced than Grey's Anatomy. Then, by the end of season two, and definitely now in season three I am completely absorbed in the plot lines and well the totally bitchin' characters that drive along the story line of Private Practice. I find the women to be awesome role models, and in a way that you rarely see on TV. Many reviews of the show thought otherwise but I think if you stuck through the beginning episodes you'll find that the female characters are realistically flawed and yet powerful and remarkably unapologetic in their powerful positions. Better still, the male characters of Private Practice are actually substantial and more often than not wonderful guys. I generally found the guys in Grey's Anatomy to just be walking boners with great hair (McSteamy) or maybe just someone capable of walking and having great hair (McDreamy). While the guys in Private Practice have some flaws they tend more often to be awesome dads and really reliable friends to their female co-workers.
Now I don't want to shit all over Gray's Anatomy, its totally one of the best doctor shows out there. Maybe I'm partial cause Zack Braff of Scrubs is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me or cause I was a little to young to jump on the ER train.....but Grey's Anatomy, set at Seattle Grace Hospital, has awesome characters, plot lines, and is just an all around well made show. Their actresses are famous for their Emmy's and the writers don't shy from giving them great material to work with. Sandra Oh's character Christina Yang, is probably my favorite as the over achiever and dispenser of brass and sass. Miranda Bailey, played by Chandra Wilson, deserves all the acclaim thrown her way. She's a stellar actress and her character is totally the hard ass and yet the one who opens the free clinic at Seattle Grace and manages to hold everyone together. However, I've had a rough time with the way her character was always the angry mother hen and yet never seemed to get the positions she deserved. I think they've managed to finally make her an attending physician in season 6 -despite the fact she seemed to be running it all from day one. Grey's Anatomy has done some other awesome stuff, I liked the early episodes when Izzie (Katherine Heigl) got sick of being harassed for her good looks and gave everyone a good look at, what under hospital fluorescent lights, seemed to be a pretty realistic female body, cellulite and all. There was also some interesting plot lines with the also awesome Dr. Callie Torres falling in love with another woman doctor. This story was kind of awesome in that the women seemed fairly realistic and weren't the youngest or skinniest characters on the show, so at first it didn't seem to be so much designed for male viewers. Unfortunately, the way McSteamy wouldn't stop sniffing around them like the boner he is, well it made me lose some respect for that whole story line.

I guess my big problem with Grey's is Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo. In many tv shows, you're supposed to identify with this character.... she's the universal character, the Angela Chase (My So Called Life) only she would never have the balls to dye her hair red like Angela. Meredith drinks to have the guts to have sex, she is known for having low ambition and low talent, she doesn't believe she can be loved, and when she tries to leave her still married boyfriend he gets angry and calls her a whore and she goes back to him cause well he has really good hair. While we'll get to the irrational in a minute, Meredith is the classic case of unconscious. Aside from the fore-mentioned "oh how did i wake up in this guys bed" attitude toward drinking and sex, she also deals with her larger issues of family and relationship problems by letting go of control and finding herself unconscious. The most obvious example of this is the ferryboat accident in season 3 when she finds herself falling overboard and then for some reason just lets go, in an incredibly passive nod at suicide. Of course Derek/McDreamy, the knight with shining hair, shows up and plucks her from the waters. She remains unconscious for a while at the hospital and when resuscitated is confronted by Derrick about her repeated unconsciousness attempts. To see the irrational side of my unconscious and irrational Grey's Anatomy theory we have only to look to Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) who spends most of Season 5 being "visited" by her dead fiance. Her and the dead fiance ghost have a great sex life and he hangs out with her all the time, and eventually everyone begins to notice that she's crazy. This is sort of where I lost interest in Grey's. Izzie has some of her own unconscious moments when she develops cancer and eventually flatlines and spends a lot of time in that coma state Meredith is in....mostly in hopes of joining the dead fiance ghost in the afterworld. But don't worry, she pulls through, and then after some other hullaballoo is fired. While the women of Grey's Anatomy are complex and sometimes awesome characters its Derrick the Dreamy that plays the golden god, repeatedly saving the day in surgery and playing the pious moral character.
However, a long time ago, in a land far away. Derrick was married to Addison. Then Addison cheated on him with his best friend McSteamy. However, instead of ending up in a coma like the Grey's girls Addison gets her own spin off show. Private Practice is shot in a very different way from Grey's Anatomy. While Grey's is sort of the dreary indie movie look Private Practice is more like Clueless -sunny and fashionable. This might be the difference of their settings - Seattle versus Los Angeles. However, I think giving that gritty look to Grey's Anatomy can distract you from the fact that everyone is secretly having sex on the operating table when you're not looking. It makes me very nervous about going to the hospital. Private Practice is also similar to my other favorite spin off, Melrose Place. 90210 was cute but Melrose was where all the fun was. Its interesting that the only character to tie those shows together was Jake (Grant Show) who plays Addison's brother in Private Practice. Coincidence ? I like to think not.

Addison of Private Practice is not only a medical genetics fellow but a neonatal surgeon with board certifications in both Obstetrics/ Gynecology and Maternal and Fetal Medicine. Along with her friends Naomi and Sam (once married now divorced from each other) Addison opens up Pacific Wellcare Center. The practice also involves Pete(Tim Daly), the naturopathic doctor and licensed herbalist, Violet the shrink (the ever awesome Amy Brenneman), and Cooper (Paul Adelstein), the pediatrician. Since Private Practice is lead mainly by Addison and Naomi, the fertility specialist, the show deals with a whole lot of controversial issues surrounding reproductive health, abortion, stem cell research, designer babies, etc etc. I really appreciate the way the writers give fair play to both sides on most of these issues. While many feminists have taken issue with this I really liked that the whole practice could talk and disagree about issues like abortion and yet still remain friends and understanding of each other. Addison had an abortion when McSteamy knocked her up way back on Grey's Anatomy and she stands by the decision and supports choice and her best friend Naomi is a bit more conservative about the issue, which I find more understandable in the context of her being a fertility doctor who spends all day trying to get people pregnant. However, the show deals with the gray areas of that decision over and over again including topics like rape, women accidentally implanted with another's embryo, fetus's who develop tumors. Seeing specific cases makes it more understandable why reasonable discussion of the issue on both parts is important. Many feminists have been resistant to this aspect of Private Practice but I find it more true to the concept and practice of choice.

Another thing I love about Private Practice is that Naomi has risen out of the role of the Black Best Friend. Although she hasn't completely supplanted Addison as the main character, she has left Pacific Wellcare to head her own competitive practice that seems to be a bit more experimentally research based. Seeing a black female character that is so intelligent, classy, and powerful is rare on television and I'm glad that the creator of both Grey's and Private Practice, Shondra Rhimes, has finally gone there. Naomi remains very much in the story line since her practice is only one floor below Addison's.

While the show may be powered by the Amazonian figures of Addison and Naomi, the men of Private Practice are nothing to disregard. Taye Diggs, as Sam, .......well who couldn't watch Taye Diggs do anything for an hour a week. The man is aging very well. Also, his character Sam, a talented internist, is also a great Dad, a wonderful friend to Addison, and a supportive co-parent and friend to his ex-wife Naomi. My other favorite dude is Pete, who I love partially because he is a naturopath doctor and I'm into that shit. Yet, he also rides a motorcycle, remains mature while steaming up the screen, and he takes sole responsibility for his baby with Violet, after she faces an incredibly traumatizing event. Also sometimes off screen he wears big glasses and talks politics and I'm into that too. Although, I'm not totally into Dell, I like that he's a young midwife in training as well as a great single Dad. Dell represents all the great young guys out there that just need Addison and Naomi to knock a little sense into them. Lastly, is Cooper, the man boy of the bunch who seems to get away with acting like a 12 year old because he's cuddly and is a great pediatrician. He's admittedly the most faulty character, yet I still think he's awesome due to his wonderful friendship with Violet who he takes care of all through her pregnancy, even going to Lamaze classes. He also dates the new doctor Charlotte King who plays the southern belle with a heart of ice. Well its not really ice she's just missing some normal people skills. However I enjoy his ability to rise above his 12 year shit and date a woman who is sexual, powerful, and in control, or as she puts it "too much woman for him".

This past season Amy Brenneman, formerly of Judging Amy, has been doing an amazing job playing Violet. She deserves all sorts of Emmys. Last season's finale found her pregnant and attacked by a psychotic patient intent on taking her baby. If anyone has seen the french film Inside, you might have an idea what I mean. I think this episode, and maybe one Mad Men episode, were the only times I literally had to pause the show (I watch it on the internet), and walk around the house twice to chill out. It was incredibly frightening after recent news reports of real life similar situations. I had no idea how they would deal with the aftermath the next season, yet I've not been disappointed. The show has always been good at dealing with parenthood and the times when it may not come naturally to a woman, and it makes sense in Violet's case. Also, the trial of the psychotic patient was helpful in defining the difference between mental health problems and the old fashioned concept of female hysteria.

So I guess this post has turned into a grand opus on something very few people care about and even fewer people are going to agree with me on. That's fine, I'm sure there are a million different ways to look at these show. However I would like to point out that both Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors. In addition, creator of both shows Shondra Rhimes is truly a force to be reckoned with - she's had a couple busts such as ummm.... Crossroads, yet she's also kicked ass with The Princess Diaries and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. I think we have a lot to look forward to from her in the future.