Friday, May 28, 2010

Addicted To Love

Andrea Merkx's 2004 cover of Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Shit

Hooper Place
Lying, cheating, stealing, seduction, betrayal, jealousy, greed, murder... it's just another day at Hooper Place.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Good-Bye Bret

Have you read this interview with Bret Easton Ellis. I don't even know where to start. Maybe with this or this or this.? Oh well Bret, I guess this is good-bye. Can womankind make some sort of pact so that he never gets laid again?

Also, I just realized the only one of his books that's ever been made into an actually good movie is American Psycho directed by Mary Harron.
As for his male directed movies : The Rules of Attraction was an okay fun college movie but The Informers and Less Than Zero were sad butcherings of the books. So what is he even talking about?

here is the full article

What are your thoughts on women directors? After you saw Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, you tweeted that you might have to reevaluate your preconceived notions about them.
I did. And after I saw [Floria Sigismondi’s] The Runaways, too.

I loved it.

I wish I’d loved it.
Well, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I avoided it, and then I was with some people and they said, “It starts soon at the Arclight. Let’s go.” So yeah, I do have to reevaluate that, but for the most part I’m not totally convinced, [except for] Andrea Arnold, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola…

Not Mary Harron?
Mary Harron to a degree. There’s something about the medium of film itself that I think requires the male gaze.

What would that be?
We’re watching, and we’re aroused by looking, whereas I don’t think women respond that way to films, just because of how they’re built.

"Regardless of the business aspect of things, is there a reason that there isn’t a female Hitchcock or a female Scorsese or a female Spielberg?"

You don’t think they have an overt level of arousal?
[They have one] that’s not so stimulated by the visual. I think, to a degree, all the women I named aren’t particularly visual directors. You could argue that Lost in Translation is beautiful, but is that [cinematographer Lance Acord]? I don’t know. Regardless of the business aspect of things, is there a reason that there isn’t a female Hitchcock or a female Scorsese or a female Spielberg? I don’t know. I think it’s a medium that really is built for the male gaze and for a male sensibility. I mean, the best art is made under not an indifference to, but a neutrality [toward] the kind of emotionalism that I think can be a trap for women directors. But I have to get over it, you’re right, because so far this year, two of my favorite movies were made by women, Fish Tank and The Runaways. I’ve got to start rethinking that, although I have to say that a lot of the big studio movies I saw last year that were directed by women were far worse than the sh***y big-budget studio movies that were directed by men.

Which are we talking about?
I mean, do I want to say this on the record? Did you see The Proposal? Anyway, whatever.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Best of Lindsay Bluth

The best of Lindsay Bluth in Season 1 of Arrested Development as played by Portia De Rossi.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Seafaring Lass

Jessica Watson has just become the youngest person to sail around the world solo and unassisted. The 16 year old started out last October and just finished today, May 15th, in Sydney, Australia.

VIDEO: Jessica's final night

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Color of Beauty

This short documentary was posted on Racialicious and follows the hopeful path of model Rene Thompson. Through following Rene the documentary manages to out some of the institutionalized racism of the fashion industry.

A lot of times with topics like fashion and models I generally feel like talking about exclusion can be kind of obvious - i mean in the way that it doesn't just suck for plus sized models it also sucks for the girls whose teeth aren't all capped or whose shoulders or hips are 1.5 inches too narrow or too broad. Basically exclusion is the name of the game and its unproductive to hold models as the goal for girls because, well, how productive can you be in a career plan that ends in your 20s.
However, I think that when you exclude women of color to the extent that we do these days it sets a firm and extremely messed up standard for what beauty is. And that standard of beauty is impressed upon the zillions of little girls who don't see anyone like them being desired. As they say in the documentary, designers are interested in black models if they look like white models who are dipped in chocolate.

According to a 2008 survey about models in New York fashion week: 6% are Black 6% are Asian 1% are Latina 87% are White

These are just a few selections of the rockin' babes who are managing to make it happen.

The thing that's so odd about these standards is that I believe they'll find many of us really desire some consistent variety. As I wrote about in my post on Kristen McMenamy, seeing someone who looked different and who I could identify with was a really big thing for me as a teen. I sort of feel the same when I see black models and older models and models of different sizes and anyone with unconventional faces. Its the whole reason that "real women" Dove Soap Ad campaign was working- women don't always want to buy stuff from small featured 15 year olds who seem like someone that was mean to you at summer camp. I believe as designers try to branch out to wider markets they are going to be forced to deal with what we as consumers want - as well as consumers in other countries. As one magazine editor in the film says "When you look at the emerging markets in the fashion industry, it’s China, Brazil, India. If we keep sending all white models down the runway, that isn’t going to speak to the consumers in those markets. And any designer who continues to do that runs the risk of being irrelevant. "

You should really go read the post and comments at Racialicious cause they're all pretty much PhDs on this stuff. I do have one thing though that I've wondered from watching this and the occasional America's Next Top Model episode. Race and class are so incredibly tied together in our culture and there is definitely a right and wrong way to present yourself as a model. Along with having to be "flawless" as many of the models and agents here note, it seems that black models also probably have to work harder to appear to be upper class- even if they actually are. And yet, the odd thing is that so many models are 14 year old village girls from Poland. In that case being poor and clueless is clearly valued higher in fashion -because they are white - its in fact framed as being fairly romantic to many people. However, being poor and clueless is pretty much a kiss of death for many models of color.

Last Note: Here is a breakdown of which NY show had how many models of color for Fall '09.

Wake Up And Get Real

Just wanted to draw y'alls attention to the new internet tv show Wake Up and Get Real. The show is BFFs Kelly Cutrone and Justine Bateman on split screen just shooting the shit with each other - its sort of an alternative to The View kinda thing. I like watching them hang out cause its genuine and feels like when you're hanging with your best friend and you're all like "I feel really strongly about this thing blah, blah, blah.....oh wait that's a good point, disregard everything I just said". Its nice to watch these two cool women getting along since so much of female talk shows dwells on conflict and the whole crap of "Can you believe Rosie O'Donnell said that mean thing to Elizabeth Hasselbeck". Oh and by the way I'm totally on Rosie's side.
But anyhow, so Kelly and Justine cover such important issues as headbanging, 90's club life at Limelight, finding a mouse in your apartment, and the wonderful Mothers Day Fairy -who is kinda like the tooth fairy but comes to the house of single moms and leaves their kids money so they can take their mom out for brunch.

As a side note finding this show was cool cause coincidentally I just watched the episode of Arrested Development when Jason Bateman thinks Justine Bateman is his long lost sister but it turns out she's a prostitute. That show is amazing.

AND I want to recommend this movie she was in in 1988. Its called Satisfaction and I believe its on instant play on Netflix.

SATISFACTION: Movie Trailer - Watch more top selected videos about: Movie_Trailers, Satisfaction, Deborah_Harry, Julia_Roberts, Justine_Bateman, Liam_Neeson, Scott_Coffey, Trini_Alvarado, Joan_Freeman

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Daniel Dessario Eats Gold Wrapped Desert With Marina Abramovic

What will he do next? Release a never before heard track with 2Pac? Or perhaps start a Dalmation plantation? After he had the three way with Liz Lemon and an anime pillow I knew I had to give up predicting the next move.
In the below video the thinking woman's hottie James Franco learns some important lessons from performance artist Marina Abramovic. She's been really stirring shit up in NY lately. Here she dispenses such words of wisdom as "Studio is the trap" and "This is not food this is meditation". What a coincidence, I am currently meditating on some dark chocolate. Anyone remember that episode of Sex and the City where the show's metaphor plot line revolved around the Abramovic performance at Sean Kelly Gallery. Like isn't dating just like being trapped in a cube with a knife ladder as the only escape?
Anyhow, a million years ago in high school I was watching MTV cribs and they were touring this girl's place and she was dating James Franco at the time and had all these abstract paintings up that he'd done. So its nice that now that he's gone to UCLA, NYU, Columbia, and Yale he's getting back into his visual arts roots. I saw him outside my studio about a year ago and really wish I'd had the gumption to convince him to buy some paintings. Oh well here's some crazies! They should guest star as a couple on Cougar Town.

Today on Sick, Sad, World

You can now buy the Daria DVD box set!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

To My Awesome Mom!

And in celebration here are some of the highlights from last nights lady powered SNL.

This one is great for Mothers Day.

I really miss Molly Shannon. And I'm pretty much on board with everything she says in this skit. Who's up for cucumber face masks, a Demi Moorathon, and riding your bike on the carpet?

You can watch more here

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I've been working up to writing this post for a while. After reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's biography Infidel, I needed some time to really think the whole thing through. This also involved listening to a bunch of interviews with her and about her and doing some research on stuff I never thought I would, like the difference between Dutch political parties. I guess in some ways what attracted me to Hirsi Ali is that she completely bewilders liberals in our country. I was listening to an interview on NPR yesterday and one woman who called in said that Hirsi Ali was the new Ann Coulter while the guest on the program was saying that she's the new Salman Rushdie. While I can understand the Coulter comparison because she is known to make huge sweeping statements that piss people off I overall think that Ayaan Hirsi Ali might be one of the best thinkers and voices in our country due to the fact that by stating her own experiences and their outcomes she has been able to get many American liberals and democrats so in a tizzy that they out themselves as either naive or completely limited in their progressive tactics. While I also identify as a liberal I find it really upsetting that many who share my views won't accept the opinions or suggestions of a woman raised in the Islamic/ Arabic world. They instead would like to have their own ideas of how it works, without help from those who have been there.

Ayaan Hirsi Ai was born in Somalia. Her biography opens in the deserts in Somalia with her grandmother teaching her to recite her "bloodline" back 300 years. This bloodline can be called upon at many times- when her mother needs financial help, when Ayaan is mugged at gunpoint - reciting it is important because if you share a relative the person you are telling it to is obliged to lend you a hand- or stop mugging you. During Ayaan's childhood her family lives in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. During this time they spend time being devoutly religious in Saudi Arabia where the culture, at least at the time, has it so that her mother can not go outside without bringing her 10 year old son with her, so that she will be in the company of a man. Ayaan's father Hirsi Magan Isse is a scholar and leader in the Somalian Revolution. While he studied in the US, (where he married his first wife) he became opposed to the tradition of female genital mutilation. As an aside, for those of you who don't know, female genital mutilation or cutting can range from a cut to the clitoris to the cutting off of clitoris, labia majora, and minora and basically sewing you up so you are flat but for a small hole for pee and menstrual blood. Unfortunately, while her father was opposed to this practice he was away often and the grandmother made sure that five year old Ayaan and her younger sister were circumcised. Ayaan says that her sisters spirit was changed from that day on.
When the family eventually settled in Nairobi, Kenya, Ayaan attended the English speaking Muslim Girls Secondary School where she was became enamored as a teenager with a teacher who inspired her to follow the more devout Saudi Arabian following of Islam. Ayaan wore a hijab which was rare in Kenya at the time and followed the Qur'an living "by the Book, for the Book". She also agreed with the fatwa declared against Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. It was cool to read about the underground books that were popular among the girls at her school. Nancy Drew and romance novels created the seed of rebellion in the young Ayaan, filling her mind with the girl sleuth's independence and the romances' acceptance of female desire. Ayaan often wondered why it was so imperative that women completely cover themselves to quell the desires of Muslim men - shouldn't the men perhaps cover too so that the women were not aroused. The running theme of desire and literally cloaked sexuality was frightening. Girls taught from a young age that should they be raped it would be their fault. It didn't matter if you were covered from head to toe and ran with all your might it was surely your fault. You would be a disgrace to your family and were better off dead than un-pure. Ayaan comments on how even how you smelled or the sound of your heels under the hijab could be taken as a come on.

While many of her friends had been married off as pre-teens and teens, Ayaan continued on to secretarial school in Nairobi after finishing secondary school. She had a secret boyfriend for a while, a Kenyan friend of her brother. They kissed a little but eventually split up due to differing religions. Ayaan's father had left years ago and married a third wife, news that sort of had to go through the grapevine to get back to her mother. However, it was rude to show any thing other than politeness to your husband's wives who came before or after you and Ayaan actually lives for a time with his first wife and her two daughters. Her mother who had once been fairly independent when she decided to leave the country for the city as a young woman, but became what can only be read as severely depressed. She was reliant on extended family for money and turned to Ayaan as her oldest to do most of the chores and serve as a whipping post. At one point both her mother and her Qur'an teacher gave Ayaan such a beating that bones in her face are broken. These beating involve laying on the floor while you allow them to tie your wrists and feet together. The next day a family friend insists that Ayaan be taken to the hospital and treated. Its pretty amazing to me that Ayaan at this point is very understanding of her mothers situation and doesn't seem to hold the experience against her.

At some point after secretarial school Ayaan has a secret wedding to a good looking and flirtatious cousin. Her parents don't know about it and interestingly enough as a woman you don't have to attend your own wedding. If some male member of your family speaks for you it's good enough. The newlyweds have one terrible night at a hotel - the process of having sex after a female circumcision is obviously difficult. Then he leaves for a trip to Sweden where he ends up meeting and marrying a Swedish woman.
As the Somalian revolution picks up Ayaan travels back to help a group of relatives and friends get across the border to Kenya. Many of the refugees stay at her mothers house which while chaotic manages to give her mother a sense of purpose for a while.
Eventually Ayaan's father returns after having not seen her since childhood and one day decides that he met a really great guy at mosque that he wants her to marry. The guy lives in Canada but is visiting to find a wife. Ayaan's critiques of him are hilariously typical of any girl- he's balding and doesn't seem smart enough. However, her father won't listen and the arrangements are made for her to marry. Ayaan's secret previous marriage is exposed by the relative who posed as her witness but it is decided that it is invalid since her father or brother didn't give permission. Ayaan doesn't attend this new wedding but spends the day running errands and hanging out with her sister. The married couple has one week together before he returns to Canada. Ayaan is to follow on a later flight.
However, she is determined that the man is a "bigot" and an "idiot" and when the flight has a layover in Germany she makes her getaway move. She has a relative there that she stays with and the basics of running hot water and duvet covers are amazing to her. The women seem naked to her and its amazing that couples on the street actually hold hands and kiss. Although she wants to escape to England she decides that the Netherlands is easier. She quickly travels to the Netherlands and files for political asylum and after staying in a refugee camp receives a residence permit. She changes her last name from Magan to Ali, however her family and husband do eventually find out about her whereabouts. Ayaan is pretty far gone at this point though, she's lost the hijab and is riding a bicycle and the families efforts to bring her back fail over and over again. Ayaan also manages to buck what the Dutch system expects for her as well. She learns more and more of the Dutch language and insists on going to high quality schools and working as more than a secretary. She studied Political Science at the Leiden University and read everything she could. Freud opened her eyes to a sense of moral code that exists outside of religion which she counts as being revolutionary to her thinking. While working as a translator for the Rotterdam refugee center her views of the difference between the two cultures became even stronger. In Infidel she gives the example of explaining to Somalian parents that it was not appropriate for their kid to beat other kids up at school because being the first to throw a punch is not respected or admired in their new country. The concept of honor and its ties to violence were a large part of the conflicts she dealt with. Yet, this job also made her critical of elements of the refugee and immigration system in the Netherlands. The country's acceptance of all cultures lead to financial support of state funded religious schools and institutions which she saw as aiding in a continuation of the conflicts they were escaping.

After attaining her Masters degree at Leiden, Ayaan took a job at a think tank linked to the Dutch Labour Party. Yet, after 9-11 she began questioning the Qur'an and after reading The Atheist's Manifesto decided to renounce her faith. Her public appearances picked up and she began to speak publicly about her critique of Islamic culture. She spoke out for the rights of Muslim women which often times conflicted with the basics of traditional Muslim law. After publishing her book The Son Factory she began to receive death threats. Around this time Ayaan decided to leave the Labour Party and was elected to a Parliamentary seat as part of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. Wikipedia points out that although this was based on beliefs she was also about to loose her state funded protection. The People's Party is a more conservative party mainly in financial ways but they also believe "The principle of non-discrimination should be given more importance than the exercise of religion", which is something many conservative Americans might not be down with.

Around this time she collaborated with film director Theo Van Gogh to make the short movie Submission in which parts of the Qur'an were painted on a Muslim woman's body which is visible through a see through veil. Death threats were sent to both Ayan and Theo and in November 2004 a Dutch Morrocan citizen killed Theo Van Gogh. In the middle of the day on a busy street he was shot 8 times and one knife was used to slit his throat and another knife to stab a five page letter into his chest. The letter among other things threatened Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan immediately went into hiding both in her own country and for a time in the U.S. She returned to Parliament in 2005 but didn't quiet down about her opinions. In 2006 along with Salman Rushdie and 10 other intellectuals she signed Manifesto: Together facing the new Totalitarianism.

The movie sort of reminded me of this line by Hussein Chalayan from 1998.

Eventually Ayaan was evicted due to her neighbors complaining about the constant security measures. Around this time it also became evident that she had lied on her refugee papers - claiming she had escaped from the Somali revolution (instead of the fact that she aided in helping others) to attain political asylum status. In 2007 Ayaan Hirsi Ali moved to the U.S. and has become one of our most polarizing and complicated figures. She is working for the American Enterprise, a conservative think tank. I do disagree with some of her views - mostly some off handed comments that immigrants should pick themselves up by their own bootstraps. I think maybe some of this confusion is because Dutch politics are very different from US ones. Dutch society is vastly more giving to its poor and immigrated and set up in a way that provides more equal opportunities.

Although there are awesome liberals here who support her, such as Cornel West, and this guy who was on NPR the other day there are also tons who devalue her opinions because they aren't all accepting. I do believe that there are plenty of ways to keep the Muslim faith in a productive and progressive way but like almost all ancient religions there are incredibly repressive and dangerous elements to clinging to the "by the book" way of life. Imagine if our country tried to run its government off the old testament - can you even imagine one family living by that old testament code without being dragged into Child and Family services. In one interview I watched Ayaan try to explain this and the interviewer cited the killing of abortion provider Dr. Tiller as an example of how the U.S. is also a dangerously religious country. Ayaan pointed out the obvious difference - that is illegal in the U.S. - there are laws set up to provide the killer with a trial and when he is convicted sentence him to prison.

These days Ayaan Hirsi Ali is working incredibly hard for the rights and safety and freedom of all women, not just the upper middle class white ones. There are many gray zones to morality but protecting religious rights instead of the bodies and minds of women is in my opinion wrong no matter what the religion. I don't support priests abusing little boys so we shouldn't support the beatings, marriages, or genital mutilation of little girls for the sake of political correctness. Marx once stated that the origin of man's exploitation of man is man's exploitation of women. So perhaps if we follow this line of thinking and follow Ayaan Hirsi Ali's goals to emancipate women we can figure out some of the larger issues of our countries conflicts with the Muslim/Arabic world.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Few Good Men

Today I'm tipping my hat to these two gentlemen....

In this clip from the Rachel Maddow Show Bill Murray celebrates National Poetry Month (April) by reading "I Dwell In Possibility" by Emily Dickinson. His audience is a team of construction workers who had been working on The Poets House in lower Manhattan.

Paul Rudd has the coolest job in the world! Basically its just watching videos of himself dancing. From the Tim and Eric show.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The First Female Action Star

Pam Grier has just released her autobiography and I'm really hoping it comes out on audio so I can listen to it at work. She was on the Leonard Lopate show the other day and totally sold me on the book.

My favorite quote from the interview :

"I treated these wet t-shirt roles seriously, as if it was Chekhov".

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Witch Dance

Excerpt from Mary Wigman's Hexentanz (Witch Dance), originally choreographed in 1914, filmed in 1930.

A Simple Girl

Leslie Caron as Lise Bouvier in An American In Paris
Lise An American In Paris 1951