Friday, April 29, 2005

The Cabinet

Last weekend Ben and I went to see Redmoon’s production of The Cabinet, based on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and directed by our friend the wildly imaginative and talented Frank Maugeri. For those of you not lucky enough to live in Chicago, Redmoon is a local theater company – well, I feel like any words I could think of to describe it would fail to do it justice. I grew up on Bil Baird puppets in New York and loved them, and I even had a beautiful puppet theater of my own that my dad had built, but until I saw Redmoon I had no idea that I had such a limited idea of what a puppet was. I remember one of the first times I saw a Redmoon show, it was a production of Frankie and Johnny, and Frank did a little show before the show, using a small vintage suitcase for a set, and if I recall correctly, a baby doll for at least one of the puppets. And I remember being completely mesmerized by the fact Frank was able to manipulate this baby doll (which, you know, came with one face) to express profoundly deep levels of feeling. And afterward, thinking, “I wonder if Frank just sees every inanimate object as a possible puppet?” Over the years, I’ve never seen a Redmoon show that failed to delight (you just can’t forget a show that includes babies falling out of ironing boards and dresser drawers and kitchen cabinets), but The Cabinet was definitely one of my favorites. The ability to use these puppets to express real human feeling is as strong and complex as ever, and the level of detail in this production was simply incredible. My favorite was the sweater worn by Cesare (the somnambulist who gets manipulated into committing murder while he sleeps by the scientist) – you could say it was just one more example of the detail in the show, but to me it was almost like the sweater showed Cesare’s angst as much as his movements or his face. It was dark and small and bunched up and sweet and sad. And if you think you could not be moved by a tiny sweater, that is as good a reason as any I can think of to go see this show.
(The Cabinet is now playing through Sunday, June 5 at Redmoon Central, 1463 W. Hubbard Street. Call 312-850-8440 x112 for tickets or order online at www. redmoon.org.)

EC: How does a guy get into puppets?

FM: My training is in animation and sculpture, and my path to puppetry was simply an effort to combine these interests... Image, narrative, motion and objects. I had some interest in puppetry as a young man (Rankin Bass, Animatronics, Ray Harrehausen) but no interest in theater, or puppet theater. I was inspired by comics, and rough illustrators like Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Ted McKeever, Frank Miller, as well as giants like Dali, Botero, Bosch... you know, the maniacs and monsters of art. I was also grounded in Dadaism... Which for many artists meant the development of narrative and symbol by combining multiple mundane objects into new forms and new images... This would prove to be an attraction and interest that bleeds into puppetry later. In addition, I studied film in school, so I was always thinking about cinema, how images work, how composition works, how placement of things, people, space all work – I was inspired by more avant-garde makers, Bunuel, Kubrick, Welles, Wenders, Lynch and Lang.

I saw some puppetry by a group, Hystopolis, in Chicago... The Adding Machine, in the 90's, and that is when it hit me... You could actualize a dreamlike surreal object-based narrative that depended and used surprise, tricks, mechanics, wonder, motion, technology to create something moving, meaningful, and/or shocking. This work used all the technologies I was familiar with... mask making, object construction, graphic novel-like storytelling, narrative, symbol, etc... and I realized this could be a way for me to reach a greater audience with my ideas.

I did most of my initial work in toy theater (flat puppets, small theater) which allowed me to create spectacle in miniature. People liked the work, I made many small, dirty, cheap, fast shows, produced by myself, anywhere I could, to any audience possible, to get feedback, notes, and ideas. I saw a great deal of work, as much as I could and slowly built a library of knowledge and inspiration – William Kentridge, Janie Geiser, Green Ginger, Basil Twist, Figuren Theatre, Roman Paska, Faulty Optic, Great Small Works, Bread and Puppet, Sandglass, etc... as well as filmmakers working in a style I liked, that I could translate and use for inspiration, brothers Quay and Svenkmeyer.

I found that I had skill at helping actors learn to move objects in a symbolic way, to use gesture in a powerful manner, to bring a dead thing to life. Also, I found I could develop images of beauty and poetry through object composition, and this was interesting, and is what led me to Joseph Cornell’s work. I studied his sensibility of placing objects in space in a meticulous way to capture and develop mood, feeling, idea, and story.

EC: How much of a project like this is Frank’s vision vs. a collaboration? I’m thinking specifically about the fact that attention to detail seems extraordinary, as opposed to productions where it all seems to be about size – let’s make it bigger! Whereas I personally feel so much more impressed by the precision here – it seems that not one detail was left unconsidered.

FM: The detail comes from many areas.

I have always been meticulous in my making of worlds. I am careful, precise, attentive. I love aesthetic and continuity and small items which return people to view things many times.

Toy theater is all about detail, creating entire universes... down to the most minute detail.

It is also the result of film study, especially the early horror and sci-fi film works, so detailed in their completeness and reality.

And it is a Cornell influence, a sculptural rule... don’t use anything that does not mean something, but use as much as needed to mean something, and place it carefully... spiritually, I always tell actors.

Each show is a shrine. Every performance is a ritual. The placement of things, the motion of objects, and the study of environment are fundamental to the "religion."

In the creation of this work, one of the primary rules which drove the work was detail.

Now, of course, it was collective. The work was very collaborative. We would storyboard together, brainstorm, etc... We would look at images, add details, discuss symbol, argue about notions, and push the work together. It was very much a team effort.

And the performers are detail folks. They are attentive. They like things perfect. They all have dance background, which I think breeds such focus and quality of intention and attention. They want to make the world exact. I commend them for that.

EC: Who the hell made that tiny little sweater for Cesare? Does somebody knit a thing like that? Do you have one costumer for the people and the puppets, or are puppet makers and costumers two different things? (I suppose this relates back to the collaboration question to some extent...)

FM: They were 2 different folks in this case... someone made people costumes, someone made puppet costumes... I prefer to work this way. Yes, someone handmakes it all... everything we do is handmade... real art.

EC: What about this particular project spoke to you on a personal level?

FM: There is a three-part reason:

I am interested in madness. What happens to someone when they are overcome by delusion, pathology, terror, and evil. I worked for years in a group home, with many criminals who committed violent murders, to family members mainly. They were medicated, their rehabilitation was a powerful experience to observe. When they were mad, and when they were sane, was sometimes indistinguishable... and the reasons for the killings, the delusions, the voices, and the potential innocence simultaneous with a vicious crime is deeply fascinating. The film and subject matter of the film flirted with this.

The film itself is awesome, weak on narrative, great on style. I did a reimagining of Fritz Lang’s M which people loved (or hated). Grown men playing with dolls to tell the story of a child murderer. Very shocking, and important. This came from the same place... adults playing with dolls to present a story of a grotesque nature.

And the translation of film to puppetry, the challenge of capturing scale, movement, many scenes and images. Very exciting.

EC: I’m wondering how and when a director is able to divorce themselves from a piece like this enough to go home and watch a movie with his wife, without worrying that say, a candle won’t set fire to a curtain, or if a transparency will get stuck, etc. I’m curious for a few reasons, one, because writing is such a different art form than theater – aside from occasional readings, I don’t get to be there taking in people’s experiences of my work, but at least I know the words on the page are guaranteed to remain as I wanted them. The other reason is, it struck me that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flub at a Redmoon show, even though it seems like there would be opportunities at every turn. Is this because you rehearse and rehearse until there’s just no chance of failure? Or threaten your actors with bodily harm if they screw up?

FM: There is always concern... It is a fragile show. But you learn a lot in rehearsal. Safety is essential, and most mistakes and problems are discovered in that time. But stuff goes wrong. You have to have faith. It’s a technical work, we are a designer’s theater, there will be problems. The performers must be trained to enjoy these accidents, it is live, and they should be surprised by its route, the show, like life, has many paths. The questions are more important than the answers.

I get upset when something goes wrong, but usually only I know the problem. It’s par for the course. Yes I worry a lot. But I try to be where I am when I am there, just like in rehearsal.

Performing in puppet theater (and this is why I like it so much) is meditation... You must be totally focused and totally aware and totally conscious and totally submerged in a dream... you must be everywhere all the time... in your body, in the cabinet, in the space, in the universe... It is transcendental.

These guys are great performers. I trust them (and there have been ones I don't trust). I work hard in rehearsal to build community, dialogue, trust, usually through humor, love, acts of kindness, friendship. I build a bond with them, I hope through inspiration. I want people to understand the power of the work – I am not fucking around or wasting time, I am dealing with myth, and magic, and metaphor, and meaning, and power, and love and fear... humanity. And doing this through image, which is intense, for the mind of the viewer. These guys are reminded of this all the time. They get it. They like it.

I often cast based on many things, but one in particular, a secret, is I look for searchers... I am not interested in folks who have found the thing, their thing, I want spiritual people who are digging through life, exploring big questions with real heart, and mindfulness... they like ambiguity and trial and difficulty. They are searchers. Maybe I am full of it, but I can sense that in someone, and it’s invaluable, powerful, important. Their eyes are wide open. Like their hearts. They don’t want to miss anything, like a kid.

EC: Could you ever have imagined the success of Redmoon?

I am not the right one for that question. Because yes, I can. We are unique. We work hard. We are interested in celebrating the imagination. We are interested in universal material. We want folks to dig deep, and play. We care about the human spirit. And we are cool. We are wild. We are hip. We don’t fit in. We continue to surprise. We have all the right ingredients.

EC: What was it like to be on the cover of Time Out? (I only made the inside…)

FM: Funny. I look bloated. I was so tired. In the end, it did not mean that much. You think, wow, this will be hot, but then it’s like whatever, nothing changed, phones not ringing off the hook. It was good for ticket sales, that makes me happy. I started to drink less coffee, hoping the swelling in my eyes would decrease.

EC: Can you believe how dang lucky we are?

FM: Yes. I get to do the thing I wanted to do when I was boy, the thing I loved, as a dear friend always said... your dream career is the made up of the things you would love to do on Saturday afternoons as a child. I won.

EC: Right on! So did I!

Interviews

Occasionally, in addition to my random thoughts, insightful pop culture opinions and fascinating self-observations, I will step away from my own bad self long enough to interview people I am interested in interviewing who are willing to be interviewed by me. Sometimes I will know these people. I don't know now whether sometimes I will not know these people. I hope so. Forthcoming, my inaugural interview, with the director of Redmoon Theater’s The Cabinet, who I do know sometimes. I feel the need to make occasional disclaimers like this just in case my objectivity as a journalist is called into question. Reminder: I am not a journalist. I’m a Cranealist.

Correction

And the bonus points go to Lisa, who correctly identified, and thankfully corrected my errant Eleanor into what is actually Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman, a character from DFW's The Broom of the System. Hopefully the fact that I read it a dozen years ago will make up for my wayward memory.

Eleanor Stonecipher Beadsman

This name has been running around my head since yesterday. Sometimes a word or a name will just get stuck there for no particular reason.
Points to anyone who can tell me who she is, though.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Huckabees, hearting them

So Ben and I watched I Heart Huckabees last night (I'd insert a symbol for heart but my blogging skills are limited as of yet - I'm close to some success on formatting the blog to include links on the side... I just can't seem to get them on the side), and it was really great but here's my fascinating opinion of the day. I had originally had little interest in this film based on the preview - it presented it as sort of a wacky caper with over-the-top performances by some (albeit) really great actors and I just thought, not for me. I'm not a wacky-caper kind of gal. (What's Up Doc? being about the only exception I can think of right now.) So I blame the marketers or whoever the hell is sitting around thinking of how to advertise a movie like this - because although the wackiness of it is undeniably there (surreal might be slightly more accurate if you ask me), this is ultimately a movie that I found to have real, SO SORRY, heart. Several of the main characters are struggling with these sort of existential issues, and it's very funny, but you end up caring about them very quickly, and although Ben pointed out that there is a certain cynicism to the movie, I still think it's soul comes through more than anything. The writing is so smart and funny. Plus, Jason Schwartzman is awesome, Naomi Watts is great, and the surprise for me was Mark Wahlberg - he was sort of cast against type, but was hilariously earnest and brilliant.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Twenty-five Years

Whenever I see a sign that says something like, “Doing Business For Twenty-five Years,” I think, “Wow, they’ve been in business since before I was born.” Doing the math, most of you know that since I was not born in 1980, that in fact I was born several more than twenty-five years ago, nineteen to be exact, that they have actually been doing business since I was nineteen. I think I’ve just figured out the key to this sort of thinking. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that someone would start a sentence with “Twenty-five years ago,” and I would think, “Wow, that was before I was born,” and it would be true. 1980 seems like a while ago, to be sure, but not twenty-five years, and the truth is, it seems hard to believe I could have been doing anything for twenty-five or more years. Plus, I’m personally more inclined to start sentences with, “When I was nineteen,” or, “When I was in my twenties,” than I am with, “Twenty-five years ago,” or even, “Back in the (fill-in-the-decade),” and as such, I am not directly forced into thinking about how many years ago any given decade was. Not to get too far off track, but when I was in seventh grade (see: when I was thirteen), I was listening to a lot of “oldies,” which at the time were the greatest hits of the fifties and early sixties. Since this was around 1974, doing this math you will understand that these so-called “oldies” were only fifteen or so years old, but I posit that because they were made before I was born, that it was indeed a long time ago. Last night I heard a John Cougar Mellencamp song (John Cougar? John Mellencamp?) which, it was implied, was an “oldie,” but because that song does not remind me of either my early childhood or a time before I was born, it’s hard for me to think of it that way. (It doesn’t remind me of anything particularly good, it just doesn’t remind me of a time that is sort of vaguely not-today but definitely not way-back-when.) (Plus, and I think this complicates the matter some, although music styles do change decade to decade, songs from the fifties and early sixties have a considerably different sound than any music that came after, and thereby inherently do not sound like “oldies” to me. Nobody would ever play “God Save The Queen” on one of those oldies stations, am I right?) Bringing this back to my original point, I will now propose that something is only a long time ago if it took place “before I was born.” Me, Elizabeth Crane. Unless you are one of my ex-boyfriends. Then it really was a long time ago. ‘Kay?

Locusts and the Decalogue

Last night I had two choices and I chose Locusts over the Decalogue. The beauty of a TV-movie like Locusts is that you can watch it with the sound muted and not lose much at all, and read Seven Types of Ambiguity at the same time.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

One Per Customer

Last night Ben and I watched My Architect, which is a really great documentary about one of the illegitimate children of the architect Louis Kahn, searching for answers about his father's life and death. Kahn was married and had a daughter, had a secret girlfriend and another daughter, and then one more secret girlfriend and a son, and all of these relationships endured for some long time and even after they ended and Kahn died, the women spoke well of Kahn, you could tell that they missed him, that he was the one for each of them, and there were semi-convincing arguments from several different people as to why this may not have been such a terrible thing. Maybe. Not for me to say, really. But.

I told Ben, "You can't have any secret girlfriends or children."

Apparently this was strongly implied in those marriage vows we took last fall so Ben said, "Okay, I won't."

And I Should Add

That if it's not bad enough that I have to Google myself obsessively in a language I at least speak, now I have to Google myself in French?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Translations

Here are a few wonderful bits from French reviews for When The Messenger is Hot or Occult Fire as it is known in France, as translated by various internet translation servers:

Re my story Josie and Hyman Differ in Their Use of the Word Fuck (from Le Monde, for anyone who actually reads French):

The relation between Josie and turning Hyman runs, and the male having shown nevertheless that "the bottom with her that the boot", the girl replies for him, "And me, this is your bottom that I would like to put boots on." This review, apparently a good one, ends with, "Most of them have not this feather."

And from a bio of me on a book website:

"One knows of it that it grew in New York and that it lives in Chicago."

Yes it does.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Zeitgeist

I've been enjoying this new addition to my vocabulary lately. But I find I can only use it if I put a little extra zest into it, as if to say, "I don't usually use words like 'zeitgeist', but this one's so dang zippy I just have to!'" otherwise I feel I'm getting a little too deep into SATish waters for my own taste. Anyway, I have noticed any number of odd things in the zeitgeist lately, like the preponderance of Yetis in modern art. Even the word zeitgeist seems to suddenly be in the zeitgeist.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bringin' the chaos

The Henslies got us tickets to see David Sedaris in Kalamazoo this weekend so we took the train up and had yummy homemade gnocchi (sometimes pronounced "no-key") before the show and Ruby made up a great song about the universe and also some kick-ass rap - "I will bring the chaos to your a-oss." Sedaris was great but I'm trying to pinpoint exactly what his appeal is - so I can copy it and enjoy the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. He's so funny - maybe not as funny as the lady behind us seemed to think (who gave a loud "whoo-hoooo!" once a clause, just about), but very funny, and raunchy (he read one story about a trip that started with an older Ralph Lauren-looking couple on the plane whose every other word was fuck or shit, had a taxi driver of some unspecified foreign land who asked if David liked the "fucky-fuck" or if "his dick does not stand up", and ended at his sister's apartment looking at a magazine of Swedish women masturbating a horse. (About which he said, "It was just one of those great days.") Part of what makes him funny is that he has a certain innocence about him, like no matter how many times he comes across stuff like this, he's still amazed. Mostly though, I really think it's just because he's so damn cute. When we left the theater Ben and I were standing outside for a second and Ben said "Hey, there's David Sedaris," and I said, "Where?" looking all around me, pretty much everywhere except six inches in front of my face, where Sedaris was standing. But I didn't say anything, 'cause I would have felt like a total dork. He's that cute.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Paul Giamatti

Paul Giamatti is the kind of actor who can turn his head an inch to the left without seeming to change his facial expression even a little and you will know every thought in his head and you will feel a thousand things.

I met him once backstage at a play in New York, some years before he became known, and he was so heartbreakingly great that I am sure that whatever I said was embarrassing.

Two Reasons I Love My Husband

1. He says things like, "I feel like ass-fuggin'-shit-poop-an'-pee."

Before we met, I didn't know that ass was a way you could feel, but now I do.

2. This morning, the song he was mindlessly singing was "The Reflex" by Duran Duran.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

This Morning

This morning as I was washing my face I decided it might be time to become someone who has a radio in the bathroom. Ben agreed that it was true.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Truth and Beauty

This is another book I recently finished and also gave me much food for thought. It’s a memoir by Ann Patchett, of her friendship with Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face, which I will now have to read. The gist of it for the three of you who never heard of her, is that Lucy (who died at about age 40 a few years ago), who had lost her jaw to a childhood cancer, spent her entire adulthood having surgery after surgery to reconstruct her face, never succeeding long-term, was by all accounts a charming and dynamic character who had many friends, Ann Patchett among the closest. It’s an interesting book not just because of the compelling friendship between them, but for the questions it raises. It’s not that these aren’t things I’ve given quite a bit of thought to before but among these questions are: What are the boundaries of a friendship? Under what circumstances can those boundaries be stretched? How do I define beauty vs. how it’s defined for me, and what would I do if I were ever in Lucy’s situation? One of the most heartbreaking things about Lucy’s story is that although she had an active sex life, she never really found love, and was desperate for it and of course she had a hard time wondering if that was possible for her under the circumstances. It was especially interesting for me having come to love relatively late in the game, after 40 and thinking Lucy’s exact same thoughts until not long before Ben came into the picture, maybe I’m just not lovable, except in my case, minus the face issue – I have, and am grateful for, a fully operational face. I want to think Lucy would have found it eventually if she were still here, and that it had nothing to do with her face, in spite of how na├»ve that sounds – so many people obviously loved her, and no small number of men slept with her, and it seems to me like myself, that she just hadn’t met the right person yet. That sucks so hard, but it happens. My friend Anne had a really interesting post recently that is perhaps tangential to this but I think intersects well on the beauty angle (not to mention interesting on other fronts). More TK.

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

This lovely little book, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is exactly what it says it is, although I think it would be a mistake to read the word “ordinary” as, well, ordinary. It’s only ordinary in the sense that no doubt, many many people have lives such as this, which she chronicles in Encyclopedia form, and includes numerous details about what goes on in the life and the mind of an “ordinary” person like herself. I think she is being somewhat humble, in that her life is a little less than ordinary – she’s a wonderful observer of herself, of life, of the small details, but I think she has a great gift for engaging with her readers and the world – she left 150 numbered copies of her book around Chicago for people to find, asking them to report back to her on where they found it, and there are numerous points in the book where she invites the reader to respond in one way or another, at one point offering to Fedex a home-baked pie to the 100th person to write in, or to send samples of her favorite perfume to the first hundred readers. Anyway, I couldn’t put it down because it’s the kind of book that’s so easy to relate to, and even if you disagree with her, it makes you think about what your opinion is on all the things she writes about, and want to write them down yourself. (Look for this in posts to come, although my posts are already on the Krouse-Rosenthalish, if Cranesque, side, which is probably why I like her so much.) Plus, and getting back to the original point, her life isn’t all happy and shiny, it’s “ordinary” – she grows up, makes mistakes, has kids, has opinions and feelings, people die or get sick. Ordinary. Above all I think this is a book about joy – which is a subject I have been increasingly interested in and so am really glad to see it captured so well here – but it’s a lot about really small joys, what seem to some like the mundane details of life, and also about how it’s almost impossible to separate out the sadness from the joy and that’s fine, even when it doesn’t seem like it’s fine.

Super weird PS that is very AKR-like: When I put in the link to Powell's for her book, right under her book there's a suggestion from Powell's to check out my own book!

The Upside of Anger

So Nina and I go see this movie while I’m home, which is a welcome two hours free of the insanely crowded streets (walking out of her building, we have to wait for a few clumps of people to pass before we can enter the sidewalk and Nina says, “Sometimes it’s really hard to merge out of this building.”) of my former neighborhood. The movie is on the Lifetimeish side (albeit with a few swear words thrown in to throw us off scent), but the acting is good, Kevin Costner being the biggest surprise, in my opinion. It’s not like it’s a big stretch, he plays a washed-up baseball player, again, but he looks a little more washed up these days, and I liked his Michigan accent, and I dunno, he was just sort of lumpishly appealing. So he and Joan Allen are basically these older single drunks who hook up after her husband leaves her without a word. A perfectly acceptable story, and there’s one scene that actually makes me think about the value of anger (although, when I subsequently lost my temper with someone the following day, I can’t say I felt that there was anything of value about the moment), but here’s the thing – there’s a sort of twist, if you will, near the end, which is completely ludicrous for a film like this. It’s not a thriller. Nina said it ruined it for her, which I can understand. I just tried to pretend it wasn’t there, because it was the sort of twist whereby the entire preceding movie suddenly has an entirely different meaning, which they now have no time to address because it’s the end of the movie. But it amounts to, Huh, what I thought was true for three years, everything that affected everything in my life, was not true at all. Which is pretty annoying.

Discovery

Raisin Bran does not hold up after two plus years in a cabinet. Although the Bran part seems fine, the raisins are inedibly hard.
My sweet friend Nina is the kind of hostess who always likes to have things on hand that I like when I come to visit. I declined her offer to go out and buy Raisin Bran because I thought I could survive a two-day visit without it. Discovering an old box at the back of her cabinet from one of my previous visits, I poured the milk into the bowl thinking it seemed fine until further discovery revealed the ancient raisins. An attempt to remove the bad raisins and replace them with new fresh raisins was something of a failure, because as everyone knows, what makes the raisins in Raisin Bran so good is the sugar coating.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

All You Ever Wanted To Know About What’s Involved In Washing My Hair

Hair wash day is not my favorite day. Super grateful for the thick healthy head of hair passed down to me by my Grandpa, I am less grateful for the care and feeding of this hair, and although I have cut back from years of daily or every-other-day hairwashing (not to mention an average forty-five minutes of blowdrying per wash), there is still more time and effort involved than interests me. (Note: I am equally uninterested in makeup, however, I am even more uninterested in the way I look without it. My awesome husband seems to care less one way or the other, and thus has relieved me of the need to wear mascara on all but the dressiest occasions, the most time-intensive portion of the makeup process, so I’ve gotten the makeup down to five-six minutes max and sometimes I’ll even go as far as the Jewel without any at all. Gasp!). First I have to brush out my hair, tangled from three days of not washing. (I can’t brush my hair after I shampoo because it becomes huge and hideously triangular.) It takes a good bit of work to both lather and rinse all the shampoo out (and needless to day there’s no way I’d repeat). Then I have to find something to do while I wait for the conditioner to condition. Then, I comb it just enough to smooth it down a little, I heat up the flat iron to use on just a few bits in the front, and finish with some Aveda for further smoothing. After a half-hour or so of air-drying, a scrunchie becomes involved in the process for even further smoothing. Later in the day, the scrunchie is removed for the final drying process. (My hair has been known to stay damp for the better part of an entire day.) (And note: although I have been seen at the Jewel in it, sans makeup, the scrunchie is in no way utilized as fashion, it is strictly a processing device.) By this time, I am so hungry and so ready for coffee I can barely stand up, and this, as I said, is a process that is considerably shorter than it was back in the days when I blew out my whole head and also spent some time getting my bangs to fluff up, not unlike Melanie Griffith in the pre-corporate makeover part of Working Girl. Oh yes.
So. Most weeks, I wash my hair on Tuesdays and Fridays. I wash my hair on Tuesdays and Fridays because I figure if I wash it on Tuesday it’s clean for most of the week and if I wash it on Friday it’s clean for the weekend. Mondays I don’t tend to have a great need for clean hair. However, I am flexible, and if occasion calls for modifying my hair-washing schedule, I will do so. This week, for example, I had a photo shoot on Monday. For Chicago Social! Generally I consider myself much more Chicago than Social, but since this seemed to qualify for hair schedule modification, I washed my hair Monday morning this week. Unfortunately, I have several events this week and over the weekend, and I find myself mentally challenged as far as hair-washing goes. It tends to work out that day two or three after the hair-washing are best but that after that we move from sexy bedhead into unsexy badhead. So, this leaves me calculating things like if: level of importance of each event ÷ levels of possible flatness/dirt + traveling out of town + trying to avoid hair-washing while out of town > the fact that Nina’s showerhead is giant and superstrength and could provide a cleanliness level that might add one more day at the end.
Obsessive much?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Grey Gardens Part 2

So here’s the thing about this movie. There’s “big” Edie, the mother, and “little” Edie, her 54 year-old daughter. They’re cousins of Jackie O, and they live in three rooms of this totally decrepit mansion in the Hamptons, all but total recluses. The estate is wildly overgrown to the point where you can’t see out the windows. Little Edie wears elaborate turbans on her head made out of pretty much whatever, sweaters, scarves and towels, always with an ornate pin. She wears her skirts upside down. She says things like, “I think this is the best costume for the day.” Designers have been referencing her for thirty years, apparently. They had both once been incredibly beautiful, they are both immensely flamboyant and dramatic, they bicker constantly but also seem affectionate. Big Edie cooks all her meals on a hot plate next to her bed. Little Edie feeds the racoons in the attic who are also eating major portions of the wall, and she dreams of moving back to New York City. There’s obviously something quite wrong with both of them, and yet they are, at least in the barest way, functioning in the world. The whole movie is pretty much just them talking. It’s riveting. The next morning I couldn’t stop talking about it. Just when Ben thought I was done talking about it I’d have one more comment. I’d make promises that it was the last thing I was going to say about it that were promises I couldn’t keep. It’s just about so many things, I think. One of the things I took from it was just this extreme of what can happen if you have enough money to live in a mansion but seemingly have not enough ambition to even go out for dinner, like going too far from the house was just too complicated and hard. And yet, they both seem to have retained a certain spirit of life. They both sing, Little Edie performs these wild dances. I guess also for me it’s a really fascinating example of how people, in their infinite varieties, never cease to amaze. This is stuff I could never make up. Though I suppose I’ll keep trying. See it see it see it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Man + Plus

Just when you think Wigs and Plus is a trippy enough name for a store, along comes Man + Plus.

Tribute

New York lost a great, great guy in Dan C., sad news I got on my trip home this week. He had been sick for years, but this was a guy who touched hundreds and hundreds of people over the years and may never know how much he helped me at a particularly difficult time in my life. This was a person who brightened any room he was in, always had a way of making whatever he said funny and deep and real and spiritual all at the same time. He will be missed by an insane number of people.

We lost a real sweetie here too in Silent Bob (not from the movies), but it’s too sad for me to get into right now.

Life is intense, man. Not a news flash, but stuff like this invariably seems to be going on whenever some really great things are happening to me personally. It never fails to find a way to trip me out. I love my life, even when it’s scary and overwhelming.

Things I Have Worn Unironically

This was my “risk” at the Happy Ending reading series in NY, which was lots of fun. I don’t know if people were laughing because they related, or because they felt really bad for me, but the items I shared in this grown-up show and tell included:
1. One disco bag.
2. One well-worn embroidered workshirt from seventh grade that my stepmom made for me. This was the only item everyone thought was still cool.
3. One pair of LARGE “gold” and “pearl” earrings, for dressy occasions.
4. One pair of large and long “silver” and rhinestone star earrings (to be worn singly.)
5. One each: large blue and white rhinestone cross earrings.
6. One bandanna, twisted around forehead ala Olivia Newton-John circa “Let’s Get Physical.” Oh yes I did.


Thankfully for all concerned, any number of unironically unfortunate items no longer exist, such as the three or four seasons worth of tops that all had shoulder pads, all manner of printed leggings, and my gold pleather Members Only-style jacket.