Monday, February 28, 2011

I Hate My Neck, Too

To not want to be somewhere, really, and to have a neck that gets eaten up by suits, I felt for James Franco. I felt like we both should just stop all this nonsense and go take some yoga together.

We had a friend who was nominated tonight for an Oscar. It was really fun to have that and to see him interviewed on the red carpet, all of it. We cried.

But the Oscies felt forced tonight. And Ms. Hathaway leaves me wondering about a lot of things. I think I am getting older and crankier with each awards show. Or is it that I just don’t like clown makeup?

I wish everyone would just stop wearing clothes, makeup, everything. I can understand a little loin cloth or something if you are shy, but all this hiding behind things is not for me.

It’s just simpler or more understandable when the clothes are off.

But you can’t have awards shows in the buff, I guess.

You can have them without humor, it seems.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bon Oscars

What is it about the Oscars? It’s a holiday in Los Angeles. It’s a celebration in New York. It’s a T.V. event elsewhere. It’s a big red carpet deal.

I think it brings out the adolescent in all of us. We all have had times when we were quite popular, on top even (come on, admit it, even if only for a day) and at times when we have come in second (more often than the other) and then there are times when we are completely invisible (like I am, right now, thank goodness because it is 1:58 AM and I am naked and I had garlic for dinner).

And here come the contenders. And they will win for some weird adolescent concoction of looks, tone and vague ability. Lawsy! It’s popularity at its most public. And it does help careers. So why not?

I like the actors(esses) best. They are most suited to TV specials. They gleam, yes?

We all come very much alive when others witness us or at least (and even better) when others engage our better selves.

The Oscars are a celebration of some sort of people-hood, a way of being, a fullness of spirit, tits and cocksuredness, even. We are lucky to have them. They are big monkey mirrors. Pass me a banana and only talk during the commercials!

I have some vicarious aliveness, mixed with envy and a hopeful optimism that, yes, even I could be up there one day, receiving my Oscar in the special category of Writer-Director-Performer of one-man blogger movie musicals based on the life of Shelly Winters if she had been a cult leader.

You never know…


Discrimination is unconstitutional. Thank you.

Acknowledging this IS a great political move, the Social Conservatives are correct there.

Obama, keep evolving, baby.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just Flew in from the Coast

And Boy is my Nose Tired.

If you fly to Los Angeles in February, your immediate response is, "I have to live here immediately."

When I landed at JFK, I got on the Air Train and then took the E train into Manhattan. It was very cold so many homeless people are spending the night in their stink-sweat-urine, riding the rails.

Different experience than the pink jasmine of Los Angeles winter.

Pleasure is selfish and pleasurable. Painful stenches let you know that others are not having such a good time. We do nothing about it, so we might as well feel good.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Final Words

I am heading to LA for the LOOONG weekend. Apparently, four days of rain are in my near future.

Listening to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here on Pandora. I got the urge to start sending out emails… You know, those sentimental ones. I didn’t do it.

Don’t do those emails. You always feel sticky in the morning if you do.

Better to do something more tangible.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Perfect Vagina

So, there they are in Iran, trying to get the uprising going---but they are being taken down like dogs.

Whether a spoiled American like me is sitting comfortably in the Arclight Movie Theater in Hollywood watching kids diving into mountains of feces in some Indian epic or reading Google News at 2AM in my big box apartment in Manhattan about the horrendous government of Iran, it all comes down to the same thing: I picked my vagina wisely.

The vagina is the worm hole to your future. Any of us could have picked the wrong one. Most of us do. Though my particular worm hole was a bit nicotine laden, it was still, at the time, young, healthy and surrounded by law and order, banks filled with money and nearby was the guy who was about to invent the shopping mall.

How did I get so lucky? How did you?

I now take certain freedoms for granted. As a teenager and in my twenties, I was terrified of enslavement. Of course, this United States of America is a work camp and you better do SOMETHING or you will have a miserable experience here, but other than a little bit of work (and you can even have fun work here) you really are not so controlled.

I really have no intelligent way of talking about what it would be like to live in Iran. I have never been anywhere near the place. I have known some Persians in Los Angeles, good ones, bad ones, nice looking ones, scaryass ones. I cannot draw any conclusions from these encounters. After all, these are Persians in the USA, wearing clunky jewelry, putting up columns in front of their Beverly Hills ranch houses--nothing pejorative here. I come from a column building people, too—shopping at Trader Joe’s and having backyard BarneyBounce parties. So I have no idea.

But it does seem like The Middle East is having their SIXTIES. You can feel it. It is about time. And maybe the young people there are thinking, “I was born perfectly, at the right time, extruded onto earth through the correct vagina. Praise Allah and pass the ammunition.” Nicely, the ammunition is Ghandi stuff.

We’re behind you, kids. Welcome to your lives. Your perfect lives. Plus, there were only so many Western vaginas you could have chosen from and many of them, well, they were filled with Joshuas and Peppers, clever beasts who elbowed their way into an easy existence, so there was no room left in those inns.

Old Man

It happened. I got old.

While watching the Grammys tonight, all I could think to say was, “Why is this so loud and why are all these women dressed like whores?”

I guess there has always been a flesh component to music. And I am happy for the flesh. But after tonight, I just feel like my name should be AgnesRose and I should be sitting on some porch somewhere where I hope young women will come up to me and ask for advice and I will tell them things like, “If you are going to sing, do that. Don’t dance so much.” And, “If your ass is a little cottage cheesy, by all means, cover it up. Even big plastic costume pieces can’t save you.” And lastly, “You know, I always thought you were special and talented, but have you noticed that the guys are just doing music? They don’t strip down to their coochy, why must you?”

Not a great lover of percussion, or bass, or colorful floor shows, I have missed out on enjoying much of the new music over the past thirty years. But I keep trying. I listen. I understand the big bold appeal for people who want to feel their bodies quaking a bit. But it does nothing for my ears.

So I put on my flannel robe and turn gray.

Three more things:

Barbra Streisand must have practiced too hard for the event. Poor thing, croaking it out.

It all looks like cabbage wars from where I’m sitting.

A lot of God out there in Grammy land. I bet you’d need it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Just One More Day

Writing about the weather is right up there with what? Flossing poetry?

I don’t know.

But listen---it was so damn cold today. And tomorrow will be a little better but not much. BUT LOOK OUT FRIDAY!

Starting on Friday, we will be living in the high thirties, low forties and for that I am exceptionally grateful.

I had this thing this winter where I was never getting cold. But today, I felt it. And it is not enjoyable.

Bring on something easy. Something we can all deal with. Eventually, one needs it to be mild.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

My Little Egypt

All this talk.

You know, when I was in high school, I was in a play called MURDER ON THE NILE. It was a terrible Agatha Christie thing on a tourist craft on the Nile. I played the young angry communist. (Does anything ever change?)

But hear this. I am a nasty cynic and I am angry (and not really communist---just for health care and education) and I am saying, “Okay, guys, do what you will. I will not be interested until it really becomes something better.”

My whole life I have been inundated with horrible news from the Middle East. In elementary school, kids went on with their oral reports about the six day war, the Yom Kippur thing, all of it. And in such sad tones, what with their grandparents, many of them, destroyed in the Holocaust. It was all so horrible. And I get it.

I never got the Arab side of things, orally. I mean, I was living less than a mile from Monsey, NY.

But it was always, always, always in the paper, in the news, in people’s faces, always.

I am kind of selfish and I want the world to be nicer, better, easier, less strife-filled for my own pleasure. I want it to be pretty and lovely. I want, well, I want heaven.

So I do not read about wars. I do not read about Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan or, sorry, Israel very much. Though, I must read about Israel sometimes because my sympathies get piqued.

(I do read about North Korea, but in my life, that farce feels newish so I am not bored by it yet.)

In conclusion, in my tacky ignorant way, what I am saying is, “You frigging Middle Easterners get it together. Donny wants to read something new in the paper. And it needs to be really good.”

Monday, February 07, 2011

Proud and Shameless

This is what my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner does. He conceived of it, put it all together and edited it. Nice, right?


Go Now Quick Before Time Runs Out

As in Life, Timing Is Everything in the Movies

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Timepieces of all kinds are the stars of the Christian Marclay video “The Clock,” at the Paula Cooper Gallery.


Published: February 3, 2011 The New York Times

Christian Marclay, the wizardly visual artist, composer and appropriator has done it again, and then some. “The Clock,” his latest excursion into extreme editing and radical sampling, is a 24-hour timepiece that ticks off the minutes — and sometimes the seconds — of a full day, using thousands of brilliantly spliced-together film clips from all kinds of movies. All of them feature clocks or watches or people announcing the time, or more obliquely conjure up the passage of time.

Thus “The Clock” is also a 24-hour valentine to the movies. It samples film from around the world and throughout the last century, from silent movies to the present. It is like a history of film for our ADD times, or the greatest movie trailer ever made, as well as the ultimate work of appropriation art, a genre that owes so much to the movies.

It might horrify movie buffs. Watching it, I kept wondering what the late, great, film critic Pauline Kael would make of it — and also how many of the often-obscure scenes she would recognize. Yet it conveys an almost unbelievably visceral sense not only of the historic sweep of the medium — the most pervasive, avidly consumed of modern art forms — but also of the passions that making movies requires, not to mention those they express and inspire.

A labor of some two years, “The Clock” was hailed as a masterpiece when it made its debut at the White Cube gallery in London last fall. Now it is ensconced in a theaterlike installation at the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea, where it should not be missed.

That timepieces crop up everywhere in movies is no surprise: Film was the first visual art form to capture and package time, and every movie is an elaborate manipulation of time. Time is the form and content, and, above all, the material. Moviemakers have developed endless devices to make us aware of time’s passage in their films, and to hold us in thrall, or suspense, within that artificial time — while we forget about the real kind outside the theater.

Central to the power of “The Clock” is its strict adherence to real time and its manic compression of movie time. When a clock on the screen reads 11:15 in the morning, it does so at exactly 11:15 in the morning Eastern Standard Time. The same for 11:15 in the evening, as can be experienced on weekends, when the gallery stays open and runs the piece continuously from 10 a.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday. Otherwise it tells time during regular gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

But while “The Clock” is accurately parsing real time, movie time goes nuts, rushing past in an exhilarating, surprisingly addictive flood. A door opened in one movie leads into another movie. Questions asked in one will be answered in the next or the next after that.

And there are, of course, clocks galore. This includes clocks of the wall, mantel, grandfather and bedside-table variety; clocks on steeples, towers, dashboards and bombs; and clocks in train stations, shop windows and spaceships as well as the occasional hourglass and sundial. And then there are watches, which are smashed, pawned, handed down from father to son, and used as weapons. (All the James Bonds are here.) They slide down the wrists of murder victims, turn up at crime scenes and even provide forensic evidence.

It is hard to say why this panoply of timepieces and plot twists is so gripping, but it is. After watching “The Clock” from around 7:30 p.m. last Friday to past midnight, I dragged myself away, despite the desire to stay and see exactly how the time would be told, how different hours would be rung in.

In addition to asking the time in a full range of emotional tones, people check, wind or synchronize their watches, shake and listen to them to see if they are working. They argue about what time it is. With mounting tension, they mutter or shriek that time is running out. They pace, they fidget, they point furiously at clocks. Occasionally they pause to talk about the meaning of time with a capital T, segments that briefly slow the piece to a snail’s pace, seemingly on purpose. Live time. Don’t discuss it.

The hours usually arrive with crescendos of sound and image. High noon brings a bit of “High Noon.” At 4 in the afternoon, Robert Redford, as the sensitive baseball player in “The Natural,” shatters the face of the scoreboard clock with a home-run hit. Starting at 5 o’clock, multiple images of quitting time unfold. (Time clocks here.) At 8 in the evening a succession of orchestras start playing; theater curtains rise, or don’t. At midnight, Big Ben — of which we’ve already seen plenty — explodes, and Orson Welles is skewered on the sword of a life-size knight on a giant cuckoo clock in “The Stranger.” Amid all this, Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind” rushes to comfort his small daughter, wakened by a nightmare — signaling the advent of dream time.

There is also television time, specified by moments from “The Simpsons,” “The Office” (British version), “Sex and the City” and, most memorably, “The Twilight Zone.” Sorry Trekkies, but for me, William Shatner will forever be the guy on the airliner reduced to babbling by the gremlin that only he could see dancing on the wing. He’s here, but I left before discovering if the gremlin shows up in the wee hours.

Mr. Marclay frequently sprinkles in several clips from the same movie, for example, “The Time Machine.” (The 1960 version with Rod Taylor and Alan Young.) The key moments of “Laura,” with its Rococo hall clock and murderous newspaper columnist, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) are all here. Bit by bit, you’ll also see mini-retrospectives of actresses like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, aging in real time as they pass from role to role. Single scenes are interrupted by segments from other movies, intensifying their suspense and making us aware of the shot-by-shot approach to the time-related denouement.

It is fun to try to name the movies, the actors and the few TV shows as they flash past, but the piece is much more than a trivia contest. It conveys the oppressive weight of time and a cinematic version of life, encapsulated in an encyclopedic array of human interactions played out in snippets of emotion and plot — love affairs, crimes, hostage crises, death and destruction. The rapid-fire labor-intensiveness of Mr. Marclay’s effort also emphasizes the laborious, collaborative nature of films — that they are themselves elaborate clockworks of actors, directors, cinematographers, set and costume designers and makeup artists.

The presentation at the Paula Cooper gallery reiterates the synthetic nature of “The Clock.” The combination of carpeted floors, walls hung with velvet curtains and a dozen long couches lined up in four rows, with the screen high and large on the wall, evocatively conflates living room, screening room and movie theater, while even hinting at drive-in movies (the couches as parked cars).

Given that Mr. Marclay is known for artworks that incorporate music in numerous ways and often serve as musical scores, it is not surprising that “The Clock” is as much an intensely rhythmic aural compilation as a visual one, full of racing and swelling music, ticking sounds (of course) and rushing footsteps, hooves, trains and cars. And there are also recurring shots of records on turntables, unspooling linear time much the way a film reel does. Similar to the endless clock faces, these might almost be taken as portraits of the artist; they evoke especially his role as an early adapter of turntablism, the record-spinning, music-sampling technique that, starting with hip-hop, has become a staple of popular music.

Watching “The Clock,” I found myself wondering if Mr. Marclay has a computer for a brain. (He had six assistants culling movies for time-related sequences but apparently did all the editing himself.) The sense of his mind at work, piecing everything together — thinking endlessly of time and timing, of sight and sound — is one of the work’s constants. But so is a kind of anonymity: a diffuse, inclusive love of movies, the joy of movies, which he spreads before us in an immense, ceaselessly moving, pell-mell, two-timing feast.

“The Clock” by Christian Marclay is on view through Feb. 19 at the Paula Cooper Gallery, 534 West 21st Street, Chelsea; (212) 255-1105;

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Time, Six Things

My best friend from childhood, K., tagged this picture on Facebook today.

1. I have a hard time believing that was me.
2. I cannot believe that was me.
3. That was me.
4. It is tacky to blog about your youthful good looks. Whatever.
5. I am having a hard time with time. But time does what it does.
6. There are so many pictures of you out there that you don't know about.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Gork

Though it happened by chance, I ended up seeing Wicked tonight, a musical that takes place eight times a week just one and half blocks from my apartment.

Say what you will, it is quite something and of course, highly profitable.

Besides all the annoying tying in of the book-movie story, which does get cumbersome in Act II, I believe the play is pretty smart and extremely dark. It has a dystopian, in the oppression sense, view of society. The only honest person turns evil because of the callous rejection by her peers. The young green woman, Elphaba, is fully ridiculed based on something as shallow as her skin color. Kids are cruel. Conformity is essential. Beauty is everything. Plus, it isn’t so great to have a conscience or standards. Et al. When you do not conform to what society is doing, even if what society is doing is completely wrong and twisted, you basically end up having to die, or at least having to fake your death. Being different leads to expulsion from the mainstream and this is enough to get you killed.

Which reminds me of The Gork. The Gork’s real name shall be withheld but she had a very Italian last name, one you might run into on a “Vote for ______ for councilman” in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. She lived next door to the M’s, another Italian family. Both of these houses were blue collar and a hair rough for me. I am half Italian, from a basically lawful family, and I was amazed to learn that the M family had some sort of mob dealing at some point, small potatoes, but the father was spending weekends in jail. Strange.

When we first moved to our town, this young woman, The Gork, whom I hate to call such a name and it was not yet her name so let’s stop that for a second and let’s just call her Theresa for now, started to come around. You know what happens when you first move in somewhere. You make friends as quickly as possible because you have to and often the person already living in the neighborhood who needs friends the most is so happy there is a new person in town that she jumps in to be friends with you. Theresa did this very thing to my sister and was also curious about me.

Theresa was extremely tall for her age of twelve years old. She was also fat and had a face that could stop Greenwich Mean Time. Her eyes were very close together. She had no chin. Her teeth were not only buck, they were also in the shape of a V, the two front teeth practically at right angles to each other. She was, in a word, a bit of a monster. But she was so sweet. She was like Baby Huey. We had a patio area and she sat on the foot of a lounge lawn chair, one of those with the tubed plastic slats that would leave zebra impressions on bare skin. When she was finished drinking her iced tea and it was time for her to go home for dinner, she could barely get up. My mother was there, smiling kindly. We all pretended it was no big deal, this issue with gravity. But being from a thin family, we were all horrified. Theresa had the deepest impressions on her thighs that I had ever seen caused from our yard piece. She went home, her sweet high voice saying goodbye. She was desperate to return after we all had dinner. We were cautious to let her completely in so we did not say to come back right after everyone finished eating.

After she left, I asked my mother how someone so young could be so big. She said some people were like that and that she really is so sweet, don’t we think? She was. I felt so sorry for her I wanted to cry. But I hung tough. I was eleven after all. It was time.

Apparently, there was some sort of riff between Theresa’s family and the M family. A feud if you will. An Italian feud. Sometimes I think Theresa’s family ratted out the guy in the M family that was doing weekend time in jail. I don’t know. But it was basically 1970s bad blood and would have been interesting if I didn’t find it so repellant.

After a short while, my sister got in with the more dominant kids in the neighborhood, which included one of the M girls (and I got in with the younger M girl) and it became socially clear that if my sister and I wanted to join in reindeer games that Theresa would have to be dropped. Which she was. Plus, she was younger than my sister, older than me, so she was not a perfect fit anyway. We all let Theresa go with the excuse, Well, she’s not in my grade.

When I was in the Seventh grade and Theresa was in the Eighth, we took the same bus to Junior High. Junior High was set up so that everyone had their own locker but you went to different classes every forty-five or fifty minutes. Our bus would get in about fifteen to twenty minutes before homeroom. I had always been a horrific book worm and very shy. But by the time I got to Junior High I came out of my shell aided by having some obvious musical talent, a certain can-do spunkiness, a pack of cigarettes, a bag of weed and the willingness to party with the people who liked to party. We clanned up greatly.

Though the different groups did not mix much--and in those days there were really only three, the cool kids (smokers/stoners), the jocks (the jocks) and everyone else (smart kids, Jewish kids, kids who climb on rocks)—there was one thing that drew members of all stripes together, at least the boys. And this was what was known as “Going Gorking.”

Someone nicknamed Theresa The Gork. It was sort of brilliant in that it was an absolutely horrible name for someone who was not a pretty young girl, but a full blown, overweight, very tall, uniquely faced, towering monstrosity. The Gork’s locker was at the bottom of the stairs in “The new wing”. The stairwell was closed off by glass doors, the kind of glass with the crisscrossing wire in it in case someone punched it. Many of the Eighth grade guys, especially the potheads from Sloatsburg and certainly the mean lacrosse players and then a few others who just had to get out their aggression, would stand on the stairs during the first fifteen minutes of the day, at least forty of them, and as The Gork would open her locker they would start yelling GORK! GORK! GOOOOOOORRRRRK! as if baiting a wild dangerous creature. And Theresa, this being the only attention she ever got, really, would stand there and take it…then, she would make a game out of it, would run after the boys up the stairs (she was twice the size of any of them) and they would all go screaming, running away from her up to the second floor. She would go back to her locker and start opening it again and the boys would reposition themselves all up and down the stairs, leaning over the railings and The Gorking would recommence. I watched a few times, as I was friends with some of the cooler kids of the eighth grade. But I could not believe what was going on and all I could think of was how nice she was to my sister when we first moved in.

I also thought that if I was Theresa, The Gork, I would not survive. I did not know how anyone could survive that. She was a good sport, running up the stairs after those boys, ready to kick their asses, sort of. I noticed that she took extra long to open her locker. I think she liked the attention. But then it would get too much for her and she would throw things, breakdown and cry. Eventually, the assistant principal put an end to The Gorking but long after the damage was done, I imagined. In her teen years there was no way she could shake The Gorking that had happened to her so many mornings in a row. In high school, The Gork became a very heavy smoker, not unusual, grew heavier and developed (or always had?) some health issues. Everyone forgot about her. When she was in her early twenties she had a heart attack and died.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Give it Up!

A Big Kiss on the gay friendly lips of Barbara Bush, the twin daughter of W.

Thank you.

Homophobia is an old man’s game.