Sunday, February 24, 2008

There's Always the Oscars

Some years the Oscars have been really boring. Sometimes they're fantastic, when things like the above picture happen. And other years they're really masturbatory and annoying. But you know, no matter what, I watch them. I watch them because I love movies, movie-stars, spectacle, and tradition. I have been watching the Oscars since I was a kid, and I have never missed a broadcast.

Marion Cotillard just won for La Vie en Rose. I haven't even seen the goddamn film, and I'm crying like a baby. Part of the reason I'm crying, I suppose, is because she seems so sweet and very genuine and I'm always glad when good things happen to sweet and genuine people. But I think the main reason I'm crying is because I miss my mom: we always used to watch the Oscars together, and I would stay up real late and then get up and go to school the next morning and argue with people about the winners (and losers).

Sometimes I think that film might be the greatest art form ever created. Movies have this ability to capture and crystallize some of the most intense moments of our lives. I love the complete sensory spectacle of watching a film in the theater. I love the visual, the sound, the lives of the actors, the stories they tell, the directors, the editing . . . everything that goes into it.

When I was very young, I wanted to be an actor. It was a dream that continued well into my young-adult life: it is a dream I still have. But I left it on the backburner a few years ago. I'm not sure why, perhaps I'm lazy. It feels indulgent and silly to say "I want to be an actor." I feel that I didn't have the stamina to take on lame jobs to make money. I also felt that I'm not attractive or thin enough, and sadly, it seems that these are requirements.

Everytime I watch the Oscars, or go to see a fantastic play here in New York, I just weep. I weep like a sad little girl whose just skinned her knee. My face gets all red and squinched and it's incredibly unattractive.

Perhaps I just have an overactive imagination or maybe I expect too much out of life and out of people. My love of the movies comes from a love of those cinematic moments in our real lives. And on nights like this one when I'm watching the Oscars alone, I appreciate the movies for giving me what real life, sometimes, cannot.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Look (But Don't Touch) Book

Dearest friends,

As I've been posting SO MUCH about fashion recently, I've decided to create a fashion blog as well.

You can find it here, if you're interested.

The web address is leggings as pants dot com.

If not, no worries, I will still be posting to Dilettansia, of course!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Art versus Action: Richard Nelson's Conversations in Tusculum

Sunday night I was lucky enough to see the final dress rehearsal before previews for Richard Nelson's new play Conversations in Tusculum, at the Public Theater. Steve Buscemi was also in attendance and I had to resist the urge to grab him and kiss him on both cheeks.

The play takes place in 45 B.C. in the months before the assassination of Julius Caesar. The main characters are Cicero, played by the monolithic Brian Dennehy, Brutus, played by the elegant Aidan Quinn, and Cassius, played by the electric David Strathairn. (Talk about an all-star cast!) Now, before your ideas about togas and stilted dialogue chase you away from this post, give me a minute.

First of all, there are no togas (sorry, ladies), or awkward pseduo-Shakespearean dialogue. Nelson's greatest achievement here may be his ability to write dialogue that is completely modern and yet artfully archaic at the same time. None of the actors speak in accents or strange rhythms. They are three friends discussing a political situation: a tyrant has grown too big for his britches, and the question is now, what to do.

Cicero takes to his pen, avoiding Caesar's growing power and the recent death of his only beloved daughter by writing tracts on the nature of death and the unavoidable future. Brutus drinks himself silly and gets red in the face, and Cassius agressively ignores Servilia (Brutus' mother and Caesar's former lover) for sending his wife as a whore to the emperor.

In this play, the word "Caesar," could be easily exchanged with "Bush." In fact, the descriptions of Caesar's behavior (past alcoholism, government really run by his advisors, and PERPETUAL WAR) highlight the obvious similarities between the two leaders. But the emotions echoed in some of the monologues, in particular with Cassius, struck a chord with most members of the audience. (How could I tell? The "mmmm"s and "ha!"s were a good indication).

So, are the crimes of the Bush administration still important even with Obama moving full speed ahead into "change"? This play answers in a resounding "YES." The collective you have to ask yourself, how do we move on from these terrors without forgetting them? And how do we punish Bush for what he has done to our country?

More importantly, if one is not a soldier or a politician, how can we take a stand against injustice? Is art enough?

For Brutus, the answer is no. But Cicero's case is more complex. In the play, when Brutus first suggests that Caesar must die, Cicero refuses to listen and quits the room. But after Brutus and Cassius (and Cicero, too, by proxy) have been humiliated by Caesar's squirrely, manipulative ways, all Cicero can offer to Brutus' proclimation is a grimace.

I find myself making the same grimace as I watch Obama make his glowing speeches after his victories this week. Like Cicero, I am all for change, but the question that keeps nagging and me, sticking its little talons into my heart, is how?


Conversations in Tusculum opens at The Public Theater on March 11th. For tickets and more information, go here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thomas Bernhard

Dear readers,

I have wanted to write a post on Thomas Bernhard for such a long time. Instead I wrote one for More Intelligent Life. Read it here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

From yours truly . . .

And the new love of my life, MY SHIRT!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why New York and I are in a Relationship

We're kindred spirits. Look at today's Best Bet.

Hitchcock Tribute

Thank you, Vanity Fair, for classing it up with a tribute to the greatest director of all time.

James McAvoy is committing himself here. Emile Hirsch is not. Boo, Emile.

I am suddenly impressed with Renee Zellweger. (First and last time, most likely).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

90 Day Jane

This girl has created a blog, with one post a day in a countdown from ninety. At the end of ninety days, she claims she will commit suicide.

Obviously this is incredibly disturbing and I hesitated posting about it because I don't really want her to get any more attention than she already has. However, I think as a social experiment this whole thing is fascinating. In her posts she says she has "lived her life online." Her logic, then, must be: so why not die online? This is perhaps one of the most intense cries for help I have ever seen. Gawker wondered today if someone could find her to help her, or if blogger would shut her down. And then, of course, the legal questions arise.

What surprises me more than the disturbing nature of the blog are the horrendous comments. KKK syndrome abounds on this page. Shielded by the veil of "anonymous," these people are free to write whatever they want to 90 Day Jane. And I can't believe some of the things I'm reading. She's placed a query to her readers, for suggestions on "how to do the deed," in her "about me" section, and some of the responses are horrifying.

I've no doubt that there must be a large amount of information on how to commit suicide on the internet, but this is perhaps the most direct and unemotional offering I have ever read. "I'm not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision." Can it be real?

Blogging culture really frightens me sometimes. For instance, after her suicide, the artist Theresa Duncan's blog continues to post saved entries. The last one was on New Year's Eve, she died on July 10th. What's even stranger is that Theresa, and her boyfriend Jeremy Blake (who also committed suicide shortly after her death), claimed to have been terrorized by scientologists. For more on the couple and their story, read the January 2008 Vanity Fair piece by Nancy Jo Sales.

I want to thank everyone for their comments and words of support on my blog. I do my best to keep my personal life private, although I don't mind sharing every now and then. But stories like these make me wonder if the line between the private and the public has ceased to exist.


And here's the update from Gawker. 90 Day Jane lives! It was an "art" project . . . of course.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Murder Mystery

Congratulations to Murder Mystery, my new favorite band. You guys have inspired me to write my first music post on this blog. A music review seems so overdue, and I have you all to thank.

Friday night my friend C. and I ambled down to the Lower East Side to see Murder Mystery play at the Mercury Lounge. Made up of a brother and sister duo that couldn't be cuter (Jeremy Coleman on guitar and vocals, Laura Coleman on drums), all four members of the band are adorably talented. Adam Fels is a spectacular bassist, and Graham Roberts, the newest addition to the band, is easy on the eyes, hard on the heart. Oh, he's also pretty good at the guitar.

I suppose this is part where I tell you who they sound like. In the words of Jeremy and Laura's older brother, "sort of like The Strokes meets the Beach Boys." I tried to describe them as "doo-wop-y," but that wasn't quite right, either. Honestly, I don't think I can compare them to anyone directly, which is a good thing. Although I will say that Jeremy's voice reminds me of the guy's from Silver Jews.

The band just returned from a US tour; the show on friday was their homecoming show. In other words, this band is about to blow-up.

Here's the meaty part of my review:

Murder Mystery is a band that actually has a great time when they play. They smile. There are dimples involved. And the four of them actually seem to like each other, and their audience. Their lyrics, for the most part, are happy. And there's no moping involved in the more serious songs. Indie Rock is dead, as far as I'm concerned, and Murder Mystery has proven that four kids can still get together and play music and it doesn't have to be pretentious.

Do check them out at their official site or their myspace. New Yorkers: they have an upcoming show March 6th at Piano's. I will be in Spain, but be there, or be square.

Friday, February 08, 2008

They're Still Banning Books in Texas

Albeit in the prisons.

A man sent The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolaño, to his brother, an inmate at a Huntsville, Texas prison. The book was seized by the prison officials and the Criminal Justice Department ruled that the scene in which two women compete in a blow-job competition in a bar would "encourage homosexual or deviant sexual behavior" in the inmate. (Emphasis mine). Note on the BJs: in the scene, women are performing blow jobs on men.

And get this, the book was shipped to another of his relatives at the inmate's expense!

I'm sorry, but if you can't read sexy (and good) literature in prison, what else is there to do? I suppose this explains why inmates are so built. Shouldn't they discourage them from working out, as well? I mean, that might facilitate a mutiny!

Ah, Texas. You continue to do us proud, again and again.

The F Train Chronicles

I have seen this girl three times on the F Train with her Dad, and I said to myself, that girl is a model. She's grimacing here, modeling for Cynthia Rowley, but she is absolutely gorgeous in person and can't be more than eighteen. In fact, I'd put money on the fact that she's even younger, like 16. I think it's really sweet that her Dad accompanies her everywhere. They look like twins. On the train I just wanted to lean over to him and say "Good Job."


In further news, a boy, who looked about 17, was reading Woody Allen's Mere Anarchy on the train this morning and laughing out loud. It was adorable. I half expected Rhapsody in Blue to start playing in the background.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Birthday

To my fashion icon, Agyness Deyn.

P.S. I promise more substanial posts once Fashion Week is over. I will write about Heidegger, or something, okay?

Fashion Week

New York Magazine undoubtedly has the best coverage of fashion week. If you're unable to make it into the tents, I highly suggest checking out their slideshows.

Peter Som has an absolutely gorgeous collection. This dress made me die a little. Also, I love the model. Does anyone know who she is?

And I'm so happy Anna Sui didn't jump on the bandwagon with muted tones. Her colors are fantastic! This is like dandy meets peasant saucy witch, or something.

Can't. Breathe. Coat. Oh. Proenza Schouler.

Usually I can't stand Michael Kors, but this is fantastic. I don't even like fur. But, goodness. And those glasses are fierce.

And, drum roll please . . .

Oh, Marc.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Against Happiness

Recent events in my life and in this country's national stage have led me to believe that I am:

a) a realist and a pragmatist
b) a cynic
c) disgusted by "happy" people

It is my belief that one cannot learn anything worth learning in life by being content. (In fact, the few times in my life when I have been "content," were also defined by an unruly feeling of desperate anxiety. Case in point: I was in a relationship for three years and stopped writing completely).

We published a beautiful little book in which this argument is executed in a far more articulate manner: Against Happiness by Eric G. Wilson.

Mr. Wilson argues that creativity comes from feelings of melancholy and a desire for change, or a desire to understand humanity through its dark and oftentimes hateful actions. He asserts that great artists are not motivated by perfect jobs or houses, perfect partners or children. They are motivated by a struggle. REAL ARTISTS STRUGGLE. I can't imagine De Kooning thinking, "oh, what a lovely little life i have with a lovely little wife, let me sit down and paint THIS."

I am all for catharsis. I take my culture raw and disturbing. I like being terrified, I like weeping openly in the movie theater. Most of all, I enjoy reading a passage that tears through the paper, grabs me by the throat, and doesn't let go.

Now, that is not to say I am for psychosis, although I think sometimes it helps.

There's the good kind:

And then of course the useless, sad kind:

Of course even the "good" kind of psychosis can end badly. I realized a few months ago that almost every single artist I idolize was a suicide. (Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Thomas Bernhard, Elliott Smith . . . the list goes on, even my style icons, Jean Seberg and Edie Sedgwick were suicides). Yikes.

All said, I don't consider myself a depressive. I'm fairly happy-go-lucky, and I like to think myself a bit of a comedian. Overall, I'm pretty glad I'm alive. I figure, as long as I'm on this train I might as well enjoy the ride, yes? But I do appreciate the difficult times and trying lessons life has given me. I like to think there's a method to this madness.

I define myself as a cynic because I consistently expect the worst from people and I take pratically everything personally. In fact, I will go as far to say that I believe those who constantly talk about how happy they are really aren't happy at all if they feel the need to brag about their perfect lives. Because really, no one's life is perfect. I mean, Halle Berry's ex-husband was a sex-addict. If Halle Berry's husband can't to be faithful to her, I think it's pretty obvious we ain't livin' in a perfect world, sweetheart.

This morning while I was drinking my coffee I finished William Styron's Darkness Visible, his memoir about his struggle with depression. Thankfully Styron did not succumb to suicide, but he came very close. He discusses how depressed or "melancholy" people are dealing oftentimes with a sense of loss they may not even be aware of. Styron himself lost his mother at the age of nine, and during psychoanalysis realized that suicide, loss, and depression had been consistent themes in his work. He had never really come to terms with the loss of his mother. Abraham Lincoln lost his mother at a very young age and was prone to severe depression. It didn't stop him from becoming the President of the United States. Virginia Woolf lost her mother at age thirteen, and her half-sister a year later. It was a great blow to her, and while it no doubt contributed to her mental illness, her mother's death also contributed to the masterpiece that is To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Ramsay being a portrait of her mother.

From an artistic perspective, it's just a fact the complex emotions of melancholia are far more interesting than those of contentment and happiness. But I understand that not all people value art the way I do. For me, it is everything. I enjoy the darker emotions and facets of human nature because to me they work harder at discovering what it actually means to be human and to ask difficult, ugly questions about what the hell we're all doing here. We are all fascinated with the abomination (you know you stop to look at that car accident) because in the end, it tugs at our heartstrings, especially those attached to our mortality.

So, on Valentine's Day, you will find me grumpy, sardonic, having a few drinks with friends. Enjoy your happiness. I will go home, intent on writing the next great American novel. Instead I'll probably fall asleep.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Have a fashionable weekend.

From my girl, Aggy, in ETRO, Spring 2008.

Bande à part

Last night at my Criterion Collection film series, we watched Godard's Bande à Part, or Band of Outsiders.

I am really a dilettante when it comes to Godard. The only other film of his I've seen is Masculin Feminin, whose evil female leads really upset my feminist sensibilities. I had the same issue last night as I watched Franz and Albert beat up on poor Odile, played by the superb Anna Karina. My friend A., the movie buff, emphasized that all of Godard's characters are stereotypes, blown up and out of proportion to subvert and fragment assumed attitudes about human relationships and cinema in general. Well, Godard, I think it's working. The movie left me feeling unsettled and frankly, a little offended.

What do you think, readers? Is Godard a complete misogynist?

I haven't given up on him, of course. The scene in the subway when Anna Karina sings that song, and obviously the dance scene in the bar have redeemed him this time.