Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shortest Conversation Ever In Which Both Parties Knew What the Other Was Talking About

Me: Yeah.
Ben: Yeah.

Alright, admittedly there was a slight bit of context. We were driving up Division Street past where Leo's Lunchroom used to be, and we'd driven past it about a week earlier, when I commented that I wondered if it was now part of Bob San.

Nevertheless, it made us laugh for about five minutes straight, and we decided to communicate like this from herein.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

51 Birch Street

So, this mindblowing documentary is about a fifty-year marriage, and if you haven’t seen it, queue it up now, see it, and then come back and read this, cause I’m gonna spoil this too.

It’s a subject I have become really fascinated by ever since I got married – go figure – although you might think I’d have thought about it more deeply before, given that my folks were divorced, and I waited so long to get married. I mean, that wasn’t by accident. I knew I wanted to try to get it right if I was going to do it. But it wasn’t like I was mired in contemplation about my parents’ marriage, or either of their subsequent ones to any great extent. Probably just to the usual extent. Anyway. This guy starts out just by trying to document his parents and his family and then his mom dies, while he’s still making the film, and the father remarries very quickly (there should be an investigative documentary on this subject alone, I say) and slowly, more gets revealed about their history, and as he comes to think his father may have cheated with his new wife many years before, he discovers his mom’s extensive diaries, and it turns out she had been unfaithful, but that really, that was just one small thing, that she had profound feelings of unhappiness in her marriage, in her life, and all this stuff, and but, then in the end, it turns out that the father and his new wife are actually really in love, for the first time, and somehow all this ends up bringing the father and the son closer together, in letting all these secrets out.

For me, it just brings up, again, the central questions of – why do we do this marriage thing – when the odds are as low as they say they are – and how do we do this marriage thing, and what makes a marriage a good marriage or not a good marriage – are these questions all entirely individual? Or are there any universal truths? Are there cultural truths about it? You’d think I might write some fiction about this – and maybe I will – but I’m still figuring out what the questions are. Would love to hear what all y’all think about it, married, divorced, remarried, divorced parents, whatever. Maybe you can help me figure it out.

Bye, The Wire

Ben and I watched the last episode of The Wire last night. Oh, man. That was some good shit. Spoilers ahead, if you haven’t seen the whole series yet. Really amazing how they wove in all the storylines, and wrapped them up without it being all neat. And so perfect that in the end, they sort of show a sequence where it’s pretty clear that everything will more or less go on as always, in the form of different people and places maybe, but more or less the same. The whole last season, all I really wanted was that Bubbles would get clean, stay clean, and come up out of the basement, so needless to say I’m happy. And as much as I hoped Du’Quan would have a chance, I thought it was perfect that he sort of – took Bubbles place, if you will. I was totally bummed about Omar, and the worst part of that was that I actually saw that one episode out of order, before we’d started watching this season on DVD, at a friend’s house. I don’t know how any of you read this, but I actually thought the end for McNulty was kind of perfect, like, maybe if he weren’t a cop he and Beadie could have a chance. Anyway, goodbye, The Wire, it was great.


Bubbles before.

Bubbles after.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Awesomeness

So stoked that I figured out how to post this over here. This is my buddy Kacy Crowley (you need her record Cave) singing with the African Children's Choir the other night. We were there, and these kids were amazing, sparkling little lights. Try not to cry. I doubt it's possible.

Kacy with African Children's choir

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 4, 2008

I was not in Chicago for this, but Ben was in Grant Park that night, lucky! Anyway, you've seen a lot of the footage from the park that night, but he took this in the street, after everyone was leaving the park. Still cheering. Pretty rad. But actually, I'm still cheering now.

No Wonder Cardigans Are So Hard to Come By Lately

Okay, I am LOVING Mad Men for like sixteen different reasons, not the least of which is the wardrobe. Many of you know my obsession with vintage cardies, the truly special ones of which were increasingly hard to come by even before this show came on. I'll try not to cry too much, because the show is totally worth it. But if you see me repeating the same ones for a while, we can all blame Mad Men. Anyway, I have always loved the clothes of this era, although watching this show makes me really, really glad to be a woman in 2008 who can have the best of the clothes, without the foundation garments or the sexual harassment or the inequality.

NOTE: I have just finished watching Season One on DVD so if you lucky people have cable and you've seen Season Two, DO NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS or I will come out in my nightie and shoot you with a BB gun.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Greatest. Thing. Ever.

The words I saw on my tv screen last night: President Elect Barack Obama.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Another Crane Story on Selected Shorts!

I just found out my story "Ad" is airing on Selected Shorts this week, so check your local NPR listings. I haven't heard this yet (we were supposed to fly to NY for the live show last year, but got snowed in), but it's kind of one big long run-on sentence and I've only read it out loud once myself, so I am really looking forward to hearing what Jill Eikenberry did with it.


For the love of all that is good and holy, I implore you, Bert readers, to vote for Obama this Tuesday. As much as I remain optimistic, the race is still too close for my comfort, and what is it all about if it isn't about my comfort, really, and so if there is even one Bert reader who is on the fence in any way (which I can't imagine, seeing as how awesome and great Obama is and since I'm guessing I'm preaching to the choir here, but you never know), I beg of you to consider how dangerous it would be to have McCain and Palin running this country (and god forbid, just Palin). As Tina Fey said of her, she's as smart as me, and that's not good enough. And frankly, I think Tina Fey was being extremely generous in describing her this way, because I'm pretty sure Tina Fey is way smarter. I'm pretty sure I'm way smarter, and I've had some insecurities with my own smartness level over the years, which ought to tell you something.

Also - I've been making calls for MoveOn this weekend, and I urge anyone else who has any little bit of time between now and Tuesday, to volunteer for Obama in any way that suits you. It's actually exciting and energizing, as well as eye-opening. We're almost there - but we aren't there yet.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Listen Up, People of the Internets

Dear Bloggers Everywhere,

Okay, it has recently come to my attention that some of y’all are like, putting your whole sordid lives out into the blogosphere, and I really, I just, I um, I I I, it needs to stop. Just, just please, make it stop. It’s really not okay. Back in the day, us crazy kids who’ve been around since before the internets, we bought these little books, these little empty notebooks, sometimes they were very pretty on the outside, covered with lovely fabric, and on the inside, these notebooks, sometimes they had lines, I need lines, I can barely read my handwriting without lines, but some of you prefer a blank page, that’s fine too, some of them come with blank pages, maybe you have nice penmanship, maybe you like to draw, or paste in pictures or mementos or what have you, all fine, anyway, we bought these books, back in these pre-internet times we called diaries, nowadays they are sometimes called journals so as not to seem so fourteen-year-old girlish, although I would encourage those of you who prefer the term journal to refrain from using the term ‘journaling’, because as I have said before there is far too much turning of nouns into verbs these days, anyway, some of these blank books, these diaries, they even had locks! (flimsy, they were at best, agreed, but the point, if unclear, is that one was not to open something that had a lock on it, if you were not the keeper of the key) In fact, these books still exist, in greater numbers and greater varieties than ever before. Here are some pretty pictures, you can get most of these and many more just from Paper Source.

Here's one with a lock and a mermaid - what's not to love?

Who doesn't love an uglydoll? I know I do!

This one comes with it's own pencil!

Moleskine - very popular. I always carry one with me.

Simple With Cloud

Love Who You Are - a great suggestion - maybe you could start by using this book!

In these books we called diaries we wrote our private thoughts. Private. In these books we were free to ramble about how mad our moms made us, how that cute boy did not notice us, how drunk we got at the frat party, and whatever else. In my own, it would be repeated decades of: this boy this boy this boy this boy mom this boy this boy this boy this boy I’m depressed this boy this boy this boy what is wrong with me. Trust me when I tell you that that is all you need to know about that, that is all I will ever share with you about that, and if you want to know more about that you will have to pry those diaries out of my crypt.

I am both a writer and a blogger. It’s super great and fun to have a blog on which to throw out some random stuff that interests me, and I encourage anyone to do the same. There are plenty of blogs I follow on a regular basis, from personal ones to ones on various subjects that interest me. But for me, as much as some of my stuff, fiction and here, begins in autobiography, I choose to write fiction for any number of reasons ranging from I’m just better at it to I just like it better to what’s true and what isn’t is my own damn bidness. It’s not even that I wouldn’t consider writing a memoir someday, if I was moved to. I haven’t been, thus far. But maybe what I’m talking about here is a matter of boundaries. I feel very clear, for myself, about what I would and wouldn’t write about in my blog. Which brings me to another point I think is kind of interesting. It has been said about the writing on this blog, and of my writing in general, is that it’s honest. I really hope that’s true, and I take it as a great compliment. But to me, there’s a big difference between honesty and too much information.

Do I have to read what you write? Hell, no, and I generally don’t. But for your own good, and for the love of god, if you must write every last grisly detail online, take advantage of the privacy options, and keep your blogs private, or choose a program that allows you to be selective about your readers, say your two best friends, or whoever it is that you might actually talk to face to face about these private things. You understand that employers look at this stuff, right? Maybe you were born rich and don’t care about employers. Surely, then you understand that random creepy people look at this stuff, right?

I am now done with my rant/plea for the day. Thank you for your time.

Yours truly,

Elizabeth Crane

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Austin Events

Hey Y'all!

Come to some readings and stuff in Austin!

This Sunday, November 2, 8:00 pm at the Texas Book Festival:

Austin Bat Cave
1807 W. 11th St
Panel: The Worst Years of Your Life: Writing About Adolescence
with Owen Edgerton, ZZ Packer, Andrew Sean Greer, Robert Boswell, Amber Dermont, Mark Jude Poirier

Five Things Reading Series
Friday, November 14th, 7:00 pm
2208 S. Lamar
(more info to come)

Follett's Intellectual Property
Tuesday, November 18th, 5:30 pm
2402 Guadalupe St.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

These People Cannot Catch a Break

Oh man. Ben, Lisa (visiting from Los Angeles) and I watched Pelle the Conqueror last night - arguably, an excellent, excellent movie. But never have I had so much gratitude (fine, any) for not being a Swede trying to hack it in Denmark at the turn of the century, holy toledo. Jeebus. This movie is brutal, people, utterly relentless. You can't believe this many bad things could happen in one movie. Relentless. But you know, worth seeing. Just be sure to have your Kleenex handy, and maybe take an intermission halfway through to regroup or something.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why We Don't Have Cable

I do not speak one word of Spanish. Okay, well, crap. That’s a lie. Truly, I do not speak Spanish. I speak a few words of Spanish. I wanted a punchier first sentence. I usually write fiction. Cut me some slack. Here’s a list of Spanish words I know, off the top of my head:

1. maricon (sp?)
2. conio
3. mira

(this is the point in my list where you might be figuring out that I grew up in a neighborhood with a significant Spanish-speaking population) (and also where I might point out that I am fluent in swear words in several languages)

4. ola
5. abuela
6. supermercado

So I think it goes without saying at this point that for me to watch as much Telemundo as I do is curious at best. But I haven’t had cable in years, and the truth is, Telemundo can be a hell of a lot more entertaining than some shows in languages I do speak.

Occasionally I watch the telenovelas. Sometimes I watch the talk shows. On one, there is a very animated middle-aged lady with big curled blonde hair and a push-up bra. Actually, I’m pretty sure that being a guest on this show requires a push-up bra and if you do not come prepared, it’s like going to a fancy restaurant and getting a dinner jacket – they’ll provide one for you. Guests on this show include a lot of musical acts with, in addition to push-up bras, short skirts, and very bad choreography (which may be a function of the fact that the set seems to be the size of my bathroom). Sometimes if there’s some event going on they cut away to stars on red carpet. Not speaking the language, I like to try to figure out if they’re pop stars or soap stars and frankly sometimes it’s hard to tell. Sometimes I also watch the talk shows in the vein of Jerry Springer or Maury Povich where the people have very long titles underneath with only one or two words I can catch, like “papa,” enough to surmise that someone is trying to find out which of two “papas” someone’s baby belongs to.

Plus it’s just fun to say, “Sabado Gigante!”

Mostly, though, I love to watch American movies in Spanish. It works fairly well if it’s an action movie. There’s very little dialogue, none that you couldn’t figure out fairly easily, anyway, and lots of dramatic action and expression. I watched the entirety of Anaconda on Telemundo, a movie I would never have watched in English in spite of the presence of Owen Wilson. (Although he gets eaten by the snake fairly early on. Oh, sorry, did I give too much away? People getting eaten by the anaconda?) And let me say I am no friend to snakes, they skeeve me out, and I certainly don’t like big giant ass ones.

But as films to watch in a language you don’t speak go, this is a perfect example. You have a cast of characters on a rickety boat in a swamp somewhere. Jennifer Lopez is the sexy one, Kahri Wuhrer is the other sexy one who’ll probably get killed, which we know because she used to be on MTV. Ice Cube is the black one, Eric Stolz is the weird one. Some of them don’t get along. Jon Voight seems to be the egotistic leader, which you can tell by the determined look on his face. One is as skeevey as the snake itself. They fight. It’s probably about how to kill the snake, or a money issue. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the skeevey one eventually gets eaten by the snake.

What’s fun about watching movies in Spanish is that it forces you to actually pay attention. I’m inclined to be reading a book while watching TV, which you can’t do if you’re watching in languages you don’t understand. Granted, the very title of Anaconda in and of itself is probably as much attention as need be paid. Big snake, got it. Talky dramas, for obvious reasons, don’t work as well, although it can be interesting to watch a better movie in Spanish, to see if people really are good actors. I saw a bit of that vampire movie where Nicolas Cage eats a cockroach, in Spanish, and, you know, in any language this is not enjoyable, and makes me rethink Nicolas Cage, who I’ve liked in English.

Anyway, just to refer back to the title, imagine all the things I’d watch that I don’t need to watch if we had more channels. We had cable for three weeks when we first got to Austin and it was AWESOME – do you know there’s a whole show about throwing all the junk out of someone’s house? Think about it! There are enough people out there who have a house full of junk to warrant an entire TV show, not just a special two-part episode of Oprah. And who can resist reruns of 90210, or all-day marathons of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency or What Not to Wear, even when I want to yell at Clinton and Stacy not to just leave the tattoey hipster be! On cable I want to watch everything and nothing. The only shows I truly cannot watch are the ones that show surgeries, real or fake, and The Hills. Thoroughly unwatchable. I do not have any idea who’s watching this show. I tried. But the conversation is like, Are you going to the party? I guess. Is Lo going to the party? I don’t know. Okay, well, I guess I’ll go. But what if there’s drama? I don’t know. And then cut to the party and the drama is about as dramatic as the pre-party discussion about the drama. Even writing this is putting me to sleep.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My New Thing: Little Houses

Austin has a cool mix of houses, a lot of old little bungalowy houses, with some modern ones mixed in. Most of them aren't huge, and it seems that very often the new construction is considerate of the general scale of the surrounding area. The one we're in has one bathroom, one bigger bedroom, living room, sun room - but I'm realizing that any much more room than this and I wouldn't spend time in whatever extra rooms I happen to have. Our place in Chicago is bigger than this house, I'd say, especially including the storage we have in the attic - no complaints, mind you, I love that place - but sometimes when Ben's in the office and I'm in the bedroom - I don't want to have to yell, or, you know, get up and walk to the other end of the house to say the three words I feel he needs to know at any given moment. Here, everything's in easy reach. It's cozy, without feeling claustrophobic. The sun room makes a nice office for both of us to work in at the same time and Ben even has room to do a little painting.

Not that I have ever had any interest in moving into a McMansion - I'm staunchly anti-McMansion aesthetically and otherwise - but these smaller homes here have such character and modesty and charm. All I want one day, when we own a home, is a designated craft area that isn't in a part of the house I can only use when it's a perfect 70 degree day. (My sewing machine is in the attic, and winter/dead summer sewing - not enjoyable.) And I've never really had a proper crafts table with all my stuff in easy reach for - spontaneous crafting!

I think this one is especially cute, even though it doesn't have the traditional front porch.

This one is brand-new, and seems like it's trying to fit in, but is just a little too big, I think.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pink Flamingos

A classic, or so I'm told. Ben thought it was hilarious. I don't have a very strong stomach, so I couldn't watch the whole thing. But lucky me, I got to see how it ended...

Critters We've Seen In Austin So Far

A whole family of deer we saw as we were leaving a party. Two full-grown, five little ones.

A turtle in a parking lot. Ben picked him up and put him on the grass. This guy was about soup bowl-sized, but I saw one about twice as big the other day when I didn't have my camera.

A peacock. Or - peahen, I guess. We actually saw her boyfriend as well, but he was gone by the time we got the camera out.

Ben has seen an armadillo, but I have not.

9/11/08: UT Austin Campus

I thought this was a nice thing to see yesterday. Today it was gone.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Boasting Not Necessary Here

I saw an ad for some fancy face cream or something that promised "Five percent of every penny we earn will go to charity!"

All well and good. But the phrasing, not so much. I would suggest maybe just going with the five percent and leaving off the every penny. Otherwise, all I can think about is the other ninety five percent of every penny that's going in your pockets, fancy face cream company.

Notes from Austin: The Weather

Greetings from Austin!

Finally, internet service! As such, I will try to provide more frequent reportage, Austin-related and non.

Austin-weather related:

One: instead of saying 20 % 'chance of rain' down here, the weather folks say
20 % 'rain chance.' Which is a little bit poetic, I think.

Two: I also heard this on the weather the other day. 'It's about 86 degrees right now, but it'll warm up later.' This was said with absolutely no irony whatsoever.

More soon!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dream Chicago

Total bummer, I have to miss this, but if you're in Chicago, you don't!

Steppenwolf is putting on a show of Chicago-centric stories in Millenium Park at the Pritzker, September 8, at 8:00 pm for free! Martha Lavey will be performing my story, Jesse Jackson, He Lives in Chicago, and she's a superstar, and did such an amazing job with my story Football for Selected Shorts.

Here's a linky.

There's a very cool green beetle on my window who just flew in to insist you go see it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Last-minute crafts

'Cause, you know, I didn't have enough to do what with getting ready for Texas and all - but actually I saw these little rag bracelets on whipup.net and they take about three minutes to make and I have absurd amounts of scraps around.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Talk Show

When I was in college my friend Karen and I used to amuse ourselves by pretending we were on a talk show, usually David Susskind. I was usually Jordan Brooks, famous person.

That has nothing to do with this, really. Just something fun to check out.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

You Kill Me

Ben and I watched this the other night and I had low expectations mostly because as much as I think Ben Kingsley is a great actor, he tends to be in movies I don't like or want to see (one notable exception: House of Sand and Fog). Please don't hate on me for not loving Sexy Beast, 'cuz I know there's going to be a comment that says Did you see Sexy Beast? and the answer is yes I did see Sexy Beast and I didn't love it.

Anyway, this movie You Kill Me was a lovely surprise, as you might expect from a romantic comedy about an alcoholic hit man. But it was really funny and Kingsley was great and there you have it. I'll try not to judge a Ben Kingsley movie anymore before I see it.

Dark Movies and Lunch

So we went to see The Dark Knight the other night and I actually liked it just fine even though the four of us who went agreed that maybe the last half hour had a little more going on than was necessary in terms of hostage-holding and storylines and such, not to mention that the last half hour was maybe a half hour extra of Dark Knight than was really needed given it was getting near ten o clock and you know where I like to be at that hour. Anyhoo, I wasn't dying to see it except for wanting to see Heath Ledger, who totally lives up to the hype, I say, and I couldn't help feeling a little sad about not seeing what he'd have done with the rest of his career after this and Brokeback Mountain. But that's not why I'm here. I'm here because as a rule, I'm just not into movies that are dark. Dark themes, fine. Dark-ness, not so much. I like to be able to see what's in the picture. Also, me, I like a movie with a woman in it. That's a bit tangential, this movie has a woman in it, but as another rule, some of these big movies are very dude-heavy. I like a movie with a woman in it. Also, as a meal, I don't care much for dinner. I prefer lunch. I had two fantastic dinners at Lula in the last few days, but I'd just assume have had them earlier in the day. That's all I'm saying.

A rule

If you live in a city, or are in a city, you are not allowed to wear a shirt that bears the name of that city.

So, if you go visit a city, and you buy a t-shirt that bears the name of that city, you are only allowed to wear that shirt after you return to your own city.

Exception, sort of: You are allowed to wear t-shirts that bear the name of sports teams from your own city. I mean, I wouldn't. But you can.

Jeff Koons

Whoa. I can't do this painting justice here because it is billboard sized. And this is the tame one in the series. So you'll just have to go see it yourself.

Ben and I went to the Jeff Koons show at the MCA yesterday. Intense.

Make It Stop!

Do you ever just get the feeling like the world thinks there's only one thing going on, because it's so omnipresent that it just seems like an endless loop that will only stop when the next thing the world thinks is the only thing going on comes around? Because lately when I turn on the TV or the internets, this is all I see: Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus Miley Cyrus Miley Cyrus Miley Cyrus. Miley Miley Miley Cyrus Cyrus Cyrus. Miley Miley Miley Miley Hannah Montana Miley Cyrus Miley Cyrus Miley Cyrus. Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley Miley MileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMiley
MileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMiley Jonas Brothers. MileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyMileyJonas Brothers.
MileyMileyMileyMileyMiley Cyrus. Jonas Brothers. Miley Cyrus.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ben Brandt at Lula

Two great things in one:

Ben Brandt + Cafe Lula

2537 N. Kedzie
Closed Tuesday

The show will be up through November 4!

The paintings are for sale!

The food is yummy!

Join Me Tuesday Night for a Farewell Quickie

Quickies! The reading series! Started by one of my awesome students! Get your mind out of the gutter, what did you think I meant?

August 12
Innertown Pub
1935 W Thomas
Chicago, IL

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ta Da!

This is the rug I made. I made a rug. There is a dog on it. That is our dog. I did not make him.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Harvey Milk

Wow. Ben and I watched The Times of Harvey Milk last night - I highly recommend it. For anyone who doesn't know the story of Harvey Milk, it's a pretty amazing one. He was a the first openly gay city supervisor in San Francisco, assassinated along with the mayor, George Moscone, by a former supervisor, Dan White. One of the worst parts of the story is that White only served about five years, and got off easy because of the famously ridiculous "Twinkie" defense, stating that he had snapped because of too much sugar and junk food. (White committed suicide less than two years after his release.) In any case, it's a moving and thought-provoking story - this was thirty years ago, but it made me think about what's changed and what hasn't since then, and I feel like we still have a long way to go. He was quite an inspiring character, and it would have been nice to see what he could have done had he lived, since he was instrumental in getting a proposition vetoed to allow gay teachers to keep their jobs, among other things.

P.S. Looking for the photo, I discovered that there's a Milk biopic coming out later this year starring Sean Penn. I might have cast Adrien Brody... but either way I'll be eager to see it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Two Two Two Anthologies

Hey there good people of the internets! Right now I have stories in two, countem two anthologies that just came out:

Who Can Save Us Now? A superhero anthology, which features a brand-new (illustrated!) story called Nate Pinckney-Alderson, Superhero


Dzanc Books Best of the Web
, which features my story Promise from You Must Be This Happy to Enter.

Monday, July 07, 2008

What Would Courtney Do?

I have one record by Hole I may have listened to three times. That’s it.

But I’m obsessed with Courtney Love. I dream of Courtney Love.

I read articles about Courtney Love, I read interviews with Courtney Love, I study photos of Courtney Love.

(I don't know what it means, no.)

Probably, her music would also be a good place to look, but it’s not her music I’m interested in. I want to be Courtney’s friend.

It’s thoroughly transparent, my Courtney obsession, if you know me. Even if you’ve barely heard of me, to know nothing more than that I once loved the Carpenters is to know enough about why I am so fascinated by Courtney Love, why I love even just the sound of her name, but if you still don’t get it, I can spell it out, that’s fine.

(Oh, yes.)

I’m no Courtney Love.

Courtney Love says what she wants and does what she wants and does not seem to care what anyone thinks. I want me some of that.

In my dreams, Courtney is my best friend. She does not think I am uncool. I’m not just talking about daydreams. I have dreamt of her while sleeping. More than once.

I first became interested in Courtney Love by way of a certain hipster I was dating some years back.

(Just say no.)

Certain Hipster didn’t profess to being a fan of hers, in fact, I recall him mentioning he didn’t really even like music much at all, which is actually more mind-boggling to me than if he’d said he listened exclusively to yodeling or zither music or polka or something and which probably should have clued me in to our romantic incompatibility because What? No one doesn’t like music, that’s like saying you don’t like breathing, that’s like, I must have misheard you, you must have said something that rhymes with music, but wait, nothing rhymes with music, it’s like orange, so you must have said it and if you did say it there is something seriously wrong with you because that is not a preference so much as it can only be a disorder that probably warrants medication or perhaps an operation of some kind because the only explanation for someone not liking music would be if they didn’t have ears, maybe, although from what I’m told even hearing-impaired people like music, so it would be more like if you were just missing a critical element of, um, humanity, and as far as I can imagine must lead an utterly joyless, blank existence in which pierced eyebrows and tattoos and ironic t-shirts step in and somehow try to fill the musicless void of your world, either that or now that I think of it perhaps means that if it is not some sort of medical condition that he was an alien. Nobody doesn’t listen to music. Maybe he was just blaspheming, or maybe he was testing me, like I was supposed to say, Ha ha, that’s funny, no music, if so for sure I failed; it was back in the day when I was still more inclined toward polite nodding than openly declaring opinions, which personal era, as you can see, has passed. Sorry – this was a while ago now but apparently I’m still working it out. Anyway, I do remember him mentioning that he knew people who knew Courtney (in retrospect this information alone should have told me I wasn’t cool enough for him; at that time I wasn’t even hanging around people who’d ever heard of Courtney) and after we broke up (he loved me, but not loved me loved me) I got it into my head that if I could understand Courtney Love, then married to about the hippest hipster ever of all time, I could understand what had gone wrong in our relationship and perhaps be a little more Courtney next time.

Look, I’m trying to be honest here, you wanna mock me, that’s fine, but I’m giving you the truth. It’s what Courtney would want.

If Courtney Love has a feeling or an opinion or an impulse to flash a boob, she puts it out there, right, wrong, whatever.

Courtney Love code requires putting any and all thoughts, pretty much whatever comes into her head, however fleeting, out into the world for all of us to consider, with absolutely no regard for consequence and even less for what anyone thinks about it. Courtney Love thinks cheese is satanic. I am not making that up. Could I make up something better? No, I could not. It’s not that I haven’t occasionally said things before I thought them through. I once used the word “awesome” no less than three times at an academic luncheon. Unlike Courtney, I am a person whose day will be ruined by such a thing. I am a person who keeps her boobs safely harnessed inside her shirt. I am a person who writes rough drafts of letters. That may not even be a bad thing, necessarily, but it is very unCourtney-like. I imagine Courtney to be the kind of person who, if she writes letters at all, writes them on whatever happens to be closest, even if it is not a paper product, even if it’s a lampshade, and gives it to her assistant to figure out how to mail, or if she does actually have some sort of expensive stationery product, like nice letterpress notecards with CL running though a little ribbon on the top, would spill coffee on them and probably not even say “Shit” and give it to her assistant to mail out without thought of an apology. Probably with thought of, “This person is fucking lucky to be getting my coffee-stained note!” I began life as the kind of kid who, fearful of any possible controversy, answered questions like, “What kind of cookies do you like?” with “What kind of cookies do you like?” and then when you told me what kind of cookies you liked I would say that I liked those cookies too. Even if you said your favorite cookie was banana oatmeal honey walnut chocolate chip I would say banana oatmeal honey walnut chocolate chip was my favorite too, although I will tell you now without hesitation, after many years of therapy, that although these ingredients are all quite delightful individually, this is way too many ingredients for the good of one cookie and if you know one thing about me besides my Carpenter love you know that I do not mix nuts and sweets. I imagine little Courtney Love answering the question any number of ways involving the word “fuck,” possibilities including but not limited to, “What the fuck kind of cookies do you think I like?” or, “I don’t fucking eat cookies, bitch.”

Not to get too far off subject, but my interest in Elizabeth Wurtzel is similar, if not as epic.

(Note: also flashing boob.)

Wurtzel is probably the literary equivalent of Courtney Love, and I might feel bad about saying what I’m about to say if the entirety of her book Bitch weren’t so, well, bitchy, if it didn’t practically beg me to. In fact, Elizabeth W. has the hubris to describe Courtney’s entire existence as “calamitous” on page seven, and if I had the inner resources to comb the entire four hundred plus pages again for other Courtney references, I would, but I don’t. The fact that I withstood the reading of this book in its entirety even once, is a feat that should merit some sort of acknowledgment. Nevertheless. Although I don’t covet her approval in the same way, or – at all, I have read all of her books with a similar desire to understand – well, something about myself ultimately, via her unlike me-ness, and it’s a safe bet that I’ll read whatever she spits out next. What continues to fascinate me about her is how incredibly bright she is, how observant she can be both about herself and the world, and yet how thoroughly she is just not getting over herself enough to see the traffic accident that is so apparent from this side of the road. To be honest, I am sure that a great deal of what interests me about her is that I do see myself in there, if a few degrees less Cosmo cover goes to Harvard. I have always been a person who believes herself to have a good deal of self-awareness and yet sometimes not quite enough to keep me from making the same mistakes about fourteen times or however many more than once I need to in order not to do it again. But that Elizabeth seems inclined to make her mistakes about forty-eight times, and then to write about them with this compelling combination of charisma, ego, talent, brains and apparent lack of concern about what anyone will think of it. She’s just slightly less in-your-face than Courtney about it, undoubtedly only because she’s not a rock star, and I suspect, is the needy moat to Courtney’s fortress of pain. (It makes sense to me.) When I read Prozac Nation, my overwhelming thought was, Well, she may very well need Prozac but I think she also has a drug problem. When I read Bitch I realized how right I was about the drug problem. Never has there been a book that’s a better argument for an intervention than that one. I imagine relatives and friends and random people in her famously long acknowledgments sitting in a huge circle wordlessly holding up copes of her naked self on the cover of that book as E. walks in, forced to admit it’s time to book a suite at Hazelden. Naturally, when I read More, Now, Again, her book about her recovery from Ritalin addiction, I was hardly surprised, but this time I can’t quite guess what the next book will be. She has one book I haven’t read, called Radical Sanity, filed under “self-help”, I kid you not. There are undoubtedly limitless ways to go on the joke front here, but I’ll just say that I fear for any woman who chooses a book by Elizabeth Wurtzel as a guide to life over virtually anything else in the self-help section. A woman would do better to entrust herself to Chicken Soup for People Who Love Lindsay Lohan’s Soul or whatever random Soup title is on the table this week. Cripes. Do you realize what it takes to get me to use a word like cripes? I don’t say cripes. A peek inside this book reveals some tips from Elizabeth, including “eat dessert,” “be strong,” “have opinions,” “say your prayers,” “embrace fanaticism,” “enjoy your mistakes,” and “be gorgeous.” Cripes again. This is alarmingly close to my own life, but I wouldn’t offer most of it up as advice. I love my life now, but I’m much more inclined to say, “For the love of god, don’t do what I did.”
I’ve always wished Wurtzel would just use her superpowers to write fiction, because I really do think she’s quite talented and could translate that into a real knockout if she wanted to, plus it might actually be a positive step in her personal evolution to write about something besides herself. Ok fine, I’m no one to talk. I am to be sure, my own favorite subject. All I know is that I have known people like her, it is extremely easy for me to imagine being friends with her in that kind of too-close-for-anyone’s-good friendship where the person drives you absolutely crazy because they have everything going for them and yet just cannot get it together, and that in my mind, Elizabeth W. and I get together and I shake her shoulders (because as we know shoulder-shaking is always a surefire method for straightening people’s lives out), and say “Come on, lady! Cut it out!” But the truth is, the few times I’ve (metaphorically) shaken shoulders, it has come to naught, and I’m not really much of a shoulder-shaker anyway. I’m much more of a people-pleaser who would probably meet Elizabeth Wurtzel and tell her only what I really like about her work and ask her where she got her jeans and then try to have coffee with her.

It occurs to me only at this late date that my desire for a more Courtney mindset had everything to do with my unfortunate decision to drive across country with a man I barely knew, a man who was against electricity, a man who despised all things money including anyone who had any, a screenwriter who didn’t believe in scripts, a man whose waistband was hitched inexplicably high for someone under the age of sixty-four.

(In real life, not as bad as this from the waist up, but still...)

This was a guy you would never describe as “cool” unless perhaps you too were against electricity, which seems like a small group to me. Was he extremely bright? Yes. Was he sort of cute? I guess. Did I find him moderately amusing? Once in a rare while, he didn’t make me want to cry. But I think the more important questions are: Was I deeply in debt and looking to get out of town any way I could? Yes. Was he as creatively messed up as anyone I’d ever dated? Fo ‘shizzle. Did warning bells go off on or about the time of our first date? Warning gongs, more like. Warning steamships knocked me over as they cruised up the streets of the Upper West Side, sailors yelling off the side, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU OR ANYONE WITH THE LAST BIT OF MENTAL HEALTH IN THEM TRAVEL IN CLOSE QUARTERS WITH THIS MAN. I used to describe myself, often, as a person who made terrible decisions with her eyes wide open, particularly when it came to men. I was never part of the I Can Change Him school. I always know that’s out of my hands. For me it was more like, the But He’s So Cute school or the No One Else Is Banging Down My Door school or, most often, the Well, This Might Be An Interesting Ride school. There was nothing that wasn’t obviously filled with potential for disaster from my first date with… well, why don’t we call him “Mickey Rourke”… ew, no, let’s call him “What’s That Guy’s Name Who Played Buddy Holly?”… scratch that, too long, still not cute enough… what about “Robert Downey, Jr.”… no, that might actually have been fun… gee, maybe I’m in touch with my inner Courtney after all… how about let’s just call him “Bring On The Crazy #468”.

I doubt that the question of what Courtney would do is ever a conscious one, if it is, I invite anyone to admit it. Bizarro indeed would be the life modeled on Courney’s. One is probably enough. So this wasn’t at the forefront of my mind when I got the call from Bring On The Crazy inviting me to go. At the forefront of my mind was, I have no job, I have no money, my rent is late as usual, New York is making me want to beat myself over the head with a mace, and since I no longer drink, my options for distracting myself from all this seem limited. Cut to the telephone ringing and a conversation not unlike this:

BOTC #468: Hey, I just bought a car for forty bucks, do you want to come meet me in LA tomorrow and drive to Florida with me to meet my mom with whom I have a lifetime of unresolved issues?
Me: Why yes, I’d like that very much.
BOTC #468: Wait, this is probably a terrible idea. Forget I said it. I really need to concentrate on the “screenplay” I’m writing. (BOTC #468 makes air quotes even though he’s on the phone.)
Me: Yeah, you’re right. Just the same, I can’t really think of a better way of not dealing with my life right now.
BOTC #468: Alright then. I guess it would help to have someone share the driving. You can drive a stick, right?
Me: No.
BOTC #468: Oh well, that’s okay. I can teach you.
Me: (silent, thinking about the time my dad, who I do get along with, tried to teach me how to drive a stick, and I almost rolled backward down a hill while simultaneously being yelled at by a cop as though I ought to know how to propel the car in a forward motion)
BOTC #468: One of us can just take the bus home if it doesn’t go well.
Me: Okay, then, I’ll see you tomorrow!

Alright, the conversation was a little longer and considerably more fraught with mind-games. BOTC #468 was all but certified in coming up with the exact right thing to make me feel, well, whatever he felt like making me feel, one of which was never “happy.” Nevertheless, I was on a cheap flight to LA faster than you could say, “You may just have made the worst mistake of your life,” and I didn’t take it as a good sign that BOTC #468 was late picking me up when I got there.

Pummeling home the masochistic aspects of the trip (which I suppose implies there were some non-masochistic aspects of the trip, which there weren’t), it wasn’t as though I was even getting any sex out of it. BOTC #468 believed sex was something not to be entered into lightly, like say a trip across country after four dates in a vehicle that cost forty dollars. But as long as we’d made the decision, it wasn’t anything a little unlicensed psychoanalysis couldn’t make worse. Highlights of the trip included arguments about: why having babies was selfish, misguided and wrong, why marriage and monogamy were prehistoric, unnecessary conventions, why my wearing makeup was a mask and showering regularly was a cultural custom the purpose of which eluded him, why he planned to move to Costa Rica to live an alternative filmmaking lifestyle without running water, why I still, in my thirties, had unresolved issues with my mother, why he still, nearing forty, had unresolved issues with his mother, why mothers everywhere were more or less the root cause of everything that ever went wrong anywhere ever (but mostly in the United States, see sub-why, why the U.S. is second only to mothers as the leading cause of anything ever going wrong anywhere), why every single thought in our heads is unoriginal because it’s in some way sold to us by the man, and that advertisers are probably developing new ways to program our heads even as we sleep. And I’d like to say? This is a short list. Sightseeing on this trip was limited to an overnight in Joshua Tree, one hot spring at a quirky youth hostel in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, two hours in the French Quarter of New Orleans (by myself, while he went off to a cafĂ© to “write”), and souvenirs included whatever I could get at a gas station. I took about three photos during the entire two weeks, knowing this wasn’t a trip I cared to commemorate. Summing up: was this better than staying home? Actually it was, in that worse-before-it-gets-better sort of way. In the absolute most circuitous way possible, via this supremely calamitous road trip, I had come to understand that I had to get out of New York once and for all, which decision, if also made with no backup plan whatsoever, ended up being on my top five list of best decisions ever made, top two or three if you count decisions I made with little or no real consideration. Within months, I was living in Chicago, er, well, in the hipster’s building… but I’ve digressed enough. It all worked out.

I maintained, for some time, that this relationship ended because I wasn’t Courtney enough. BOTC had openly told me about any number of ex-girlfriends who sounded thoroughly out of their minds. What I was at the time was depressed. I correctly predicted that like many of my previous BOTCs, as soon as we broke up (because there was never any question that this would end, and not well – in spite of my poor decision making in this area, I never had it in me to stick with these people for too long) this one would soon be committed to someone else. What I didn’t anticipate was that he would marry rich and bear children. I’m running under the assumption that they have electricity, and frankly, I wonder how he can sleep at night with like, appliances and running water. No matter. I’m happily married now, and we are not ashamed to admit that we likes us some stuff.

Getting back to Courtney, yes, I know she has some issues. Don’t we all? She’s a bright chick, if you haven’t noticed. Plus I saw her on Rosie O’Donnell a long time ago talking about her eBay obsession with Little Kiddles which means we have at least one thing in common for sure even though I only have one and she’s probably missing one if any.

I had all of these:

This is what we had before Hello Kitty was born.

She had a helicopter!

Kiddle Kologne

Wouldn’t it be so much fun to hang out with Courtney and order pizza and smell all her pristinely plasticy-floral scented Little Kiddles and tell each other your life stories all in one day and ask her what she thinks about someone not listening to any kind of music and when she goes off for like forty minutes about how not listening to music is so thoroughly fucking nonsensical it makes listening to Mister Mister and Quarterflash

Take! These broken wings!

I'm gonna harden my heart... I'm gonna swallow these te-ars...

cool just by comparison which is freaky like she’s reading your mind’s record collection and you find a small opening to say “Right?” and feel totally validated when she describes the person your hipster said he knew as a “bitch-ass ho” and that she totally kicked that girl’s bony ass once and if you wanted she’d totally be into going out and kicking his ass right now, which you pass on because he’s actually become a friend and you’re not especially into ass-kicking even though you feel like it sometimes when people don’t use their turn signal. Also you try to think of any celebrities Courtney would care about that you even almost slept with which you can’t because there are none and so you skip the part about making out with a Baldwin because you know she wouldn’t care which one it was anyway, and totally become super codependent on each other instantly and ask her if she was always like how she is now and she says defensively Like what and you say Cool and unafraid to say whatever you think and show your boobs randomly and stuff and she actually admits to a bit of false bravado and even tells you a tiny bit of her private fears and insecurities which blows your mind both because she has any and because she’s bestowed this information to only you, and you become her new entourage maybe even and go shopping and gossip, ‘cuz you know she’s got some good gossip, and find out how big some movie star’s penises are or are not because she’ll for sure tell you and make something up if she has to and do each other’s hair and let her put red lipstick on you all messy-like and rock out a little bit and let her teach you how to scream-sing and maybe even fight because you let it slip that you used to love the Carpenters and she gets all pissy when you remind her she said any music was better than no music and she says well not the fucking Carpenters or because you lied and said you tried heroin once but didn’t really like it which Courtney and anyone else who’s ever done heroin once knows is a lie because they agree that there’s nothing not to like and she calls you on the lie and you get your feelings hurt because you both know that you’ll never be as cool as her especially when she asks you if you want to try the heroin now and you almost make up another lie before you realize it’s pointless at which time you make up and eat giant raw cookie dough slices with Courtney? Or better – just each have your own whole thing of cookie dough and eat it like it was an ice cream cone? And then get super sick to your stomach and have to sleep over? And stay in her totally fluffy guest room and call up your friends and tell them you’re at Courtney Love’s house and Courtney thinks you’re at least one whole percent of cool and that hipster made the biggest mistake of his life cause the guy you finally married is awesome and Courtney Love is your new best friend?

I so want Courtney Love to like me. There’s a small part of me that actually thinks Courtney Love would like me. Let’s see: What do you think Courtney would do if someone wrote an essay about wanting to be her best friend? Well, she’d probably a) have no idea about it, she gets written about way too much to keep track, or, being Courtney, to care. So I’m guessing that if she’s in the mood, she’d probably just b) show her boobs to someone.

Like I said, I’m no Courtney Love.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Have Learned Two New Tricks

Today I learned, all by myself, how to use both our scanner and photoshop. I'm not saying I'm an expert in either of these areas, just enough for you to reap the benefits very soon with all kinds of goodness from photo albums gone by.

This is going to be fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Dreamt of Danny WIth the Bright Red Hair

Watching reruns of the first season of The Partridge Family recently, I remembered why I loved that music so. In spite of almost completely thorough lyrical corniness, they had, um, you know – melodies. Kick-ass – no, outtasite melodies. Okay, one or two of the slower songs, er, don’t work as well. Somewhere along the line a couple of my records disappeared, so currently I only have two, but I’ve been listening to them and thank god for eBay because I will get the others. If anybody thinks they don’t rock, they do. I defy you to listen to a song like “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat” even one time and not be singing along by the end and not have it rock you for the rest of the day. Yes, it has a bit of a seventies-porn wocka-wocka groove, but here it’s a total plus. I can’t even give them grief on account of only two of them singing on their songs. There was a clearly readable note at the end of every show saying that some of the vocals were “enhanced” and my recollection is that it was openly talked about. (Not on the show, of course, but in the press – which here means publications like “Tiger Beat” – they may have been the Milli Vanilli of the seventies, but at least they didn’t pretend otherwise.) Yes, I was always a little troubled about the fade-out. At the end of most shows, the Partridges would perform “live” at one place or another, but most of their songs fade out on the record, and since they were unapologetically lip-synching, this would always result in the group sort of appearing to sing over the applause and then fading out (whereas at a real live show, a song would actually, you know, end). So I always wondered – how does the audience know to anticipate the exact point at which the song is about to fade out? Or – does the group just really start to sing more and more softly until the audience percieves the beginning of the fade-out begins to clap? I dunno, it just sort of always put me in the mind of, what if one time there was no clapping, and they were forced to audibly fade out? Wouldn’t they be super embarrassed? I shouldn’t have had to think about these things.

(Played 'til it scratched)

In general, there’s a lot to recommend about this show. It was one of the first shows featuring a single mom; granted there’s not a lot of discussion about her dead husband, but it was a comedy. And it was actually pretty funny. Unlike most sitcom families up to this time, they weren’t all happy-sunshiney. They were all kind of gently sarcastic with each other, which was the beginning of a more realistic tv-family model. There’s actually one episode where Keith’s “coach” (I don’t recall Keith being on any teams) overhears Keith and Danny insulting each other and takes Keith aside and tells him he needs to be more of a role model for his younger siblings, since they’ve lost their dad, and so Keith stops insulting Danny and starts taking the kids to classical concerts and art galleries (there’s actually one really great, still-relevant art joke in this scene) and sightseeing and then the kids start to get totally annoyed by it and at the end they’re in the kitchen talking about how annoyed they are by it and Keith overhears them and is hurt, but then after they apoligize he realizes he was taking himself too seriously and of course in the end they go back to being sarcastic and insulting. When I was a kid, I didn’t give a lot of conscious thought to why this show was so different, but looking at it now, almost everything about it was different than other sitcoms. One major difference was that it was all shot on film, so they had lots of exterior and location shots, resulting in a significantly better quality than other shows then or now; much more real, with you know, actual shadows n’ stuff. I’m sure now that they only stuck with the laugh track just to appease some higher-up muckety-muck somewhere. I have to say I was a bit disconcerted to discover, in the course of my research, not that the Partridge house itself was more or less only an exterior, but that it was on the Warner Brothers lot, and was later painted blue used as the house for the family from “Life Goes On.” (How I missed this, having watched LGO fairly regularly – oh for crying out loud, I’m already talking about my love for the Partridge Family, I’m gonna be embarrassed about “Life Goes On?” – shames me more than admitting I watched either of these shows.) Furthermore, the Partridges actually lived next door to Major Nelson and down the street from Darrin and Samantha Stevens, and at various times these and other TV houses could be clearly seen on The Partridge Family and yet curiously it was never addressed that both a genie and a witch lived on their block. Not to mention an astronaut. Plus, I just think the least the “Life Goes On” family could have done was to mention once or twice that the Partridge Family used to live in their house. I don’t think that would have undermined their credibility at all.

I’ve also been experiencing a bit of deja-vu in that the feelings I had for a certain Partridge are coming back to me with the added bonus of understanding what it was I once felt.

I loved Danny Partridge.

(C'mon. He's cute.)

That’s right. Danny Partridge (b. Dante Bonaduce). The funny, freckled, redheaded one. The very not-Keith one. Actually I loved Danny Bonaduce as I interpreted him through the character of Danny Partridge. I loved him so much that when I was in Japan for a month at the beginning of fifth grade, I watched reruns of The Partridge Family in Japanese. Only the songs remained in English, and despite my lack of fluency in Japanese, or okay, anything past “konichiwa”, forced to watch more closely, I was only made that much more aware that our love transcended not just words but entire languages. I read Tiger Beat and Flip and I’m pretty sure I subscribed to The Partridge Family Magazine and anything else that might have Partridge-related information so I was not confused. I knew Danny B. was his own person and he was the one I wanted.

I imagined our relationship. In spite of having no acting experience whatsoever, I would meet him by being cast on the Partridge Family as the new smart-alecky next-door neighbor girl who doesn’t get along with him at first but then shyly kisses him on the cheek and runs away at which time he turns beet-red and then punches her in the arm, pretending he doesn’t have a girlfriend because his troublemaking friend Punky Lazaar tells him it’s not cool to like girls but then they still meet in her treehouse for long soulful talks and then I don’t know what happens after that but probably Keith and Laurie find out and tease him really bad because that’s what always happens. Actually, I’m pretty sure some of this storyline is mentally cribbed from one of the Gloria Hickey episodes (she was Danny’s “girlfriend”), or maybe the one in which Jodie Foster appeared or maybe both; it’s fuzzy. There was one where this girl Danny’s age has a crush on Keith and Danny has a crush on her but then Keith breaks her heart and in the end she realizes Danny is more age-appropriate (and um, cuter). Anyway, after I get cast as a guest star in this one episode, I move to Hollywood because I am so dazzling in the part that I become a series regular, and Danny and I become best friends and hang out in my trailer and slam the Brady Bunch which we agree is so not as funny and real as The Partridge Family in spite of the them-not-all-singing thing and plus how totally lame it is of them to totally steal their idea of being a musical act and what a suck-ass song “Sunshine Day” is, not to mention how seriously retarded their choreography is and how lame their orange polyester outfits are (surmising that they if couldn’t afford Partridge-quality velvet and didn’t have the talent anyway, they might as well go bright?), and plus how the Partridges would never like, dance, and he openly calls me his girlfriend even though all we do is kiss with our mouths closed (well, he tries to stick his tongue in my mouth and his hands up my minidress but I’m not up for that just yet because I’m only eleven and he’s thirteen and super horny) and gives me presents all the time like a white rope bracelet and puka shells and for our four-week anniversary, purple suede hot pants with a matching fringed vest. Tiger Beat calls to interview me about our relationship which I describe as groovy and of course they want to know my favorites:

Color: Purple
Food: Macaroni and cheese
Drink: Grape soda
Candy: Lik-m-aid
Song: Anything by the Partridge Family, duh!

Here’s what it comes down to. I felt he understood me. Already. No, for real. Before my fictional TV-star discovery. Through the TV, Danny’s understanding of me was palpable. Being understood was, dating back sometime B.D. (before Danny), something I perpetually felt I wasn’t, and something I desperately craved until about ten years ago (at which time, amazingly, I moved into being at least slightly more interested in understanding others). I felt certain that Danny would understand me if we met, and I felt it was entirely possible that we would meet. (If I am to be 100% honest, I would subsequently have this feeling for quite a number of famous people over the years. A few I can think of: Tony deFranco – don’t even think of saying “Who?” [okay fine, maybe you’re twenty-five or whatever - TdF was the extremely foxy frontman-boy of The deFranco Family, who apparently were really related and all sang for real, on their one hit “Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat”] the Fonz, Billy Joel, Eric Roberts [I’m not lying – I saw him on Broadway in Burn This, having missed John Malkovich in the same part or his name might be here instead and realizing only now that it was probably Lanford Wilson who really understood me], Robert Downey, Jr., Steve Martin, James Taylor and of course, Owen Wilson. I did finally meet Henry Winkler [aka Arthur Fonzarelli] decades later, who was so nice, and quite married.)

(For those of you who have no idea about TdFF)

It was no surprise to me that Danny would have his issues over the years. This only served to prove to me that he really had understood me all along. One of the things I’m coming to understand now, which was in my childhood only something I felt as a psychic connection, is exactly why I felt this way about Danny. It wasn’t just that he was the funny one. It wasn’t that I thought he was so cute, although I did, think that. It was more that he was the obvious misfit in the family, and I swear, I could feel his pain. He was the one who got picked on, he was by far the least typically telegenic of the bunch, he was the one who was always trying. Yes, this was his character, but I am not confused. This was something that was utterly visible to me as being entirely distinct from his character. A lot of his storylines seemed like they were written with both of us in mind. I want to interject here that I sense you’re not believing me right now, but I want to tell you I am 100% serious. Judge me if you will, but I’ve worked through my Danny-loving issues and if you have something to say about it, I’m prepared to fight. It’s what Danny would want.

An episode guide to prove my point:

Episode 4: See Here, Private Partridge
Okay, and so, in this episode from the first season, ten-year-old Danny is drafted by mistake. At first he imagines himself a war hero, then believes he gets rejected for being too short, saying the experience has made him wise beyond his years. I knew I was wise beyond my years at age ten as well.

Episode 9: Did You Hear the one About Danny Partridge?
Here Danny becomes a comedian but doesn’t know the audience is laughing at him/not with him, and suffers embarrassment.

Episode 11: This Is My Song
In which Danny hears Keith writing a song while he’s asleep and then when he wakes up he writes the same song thinking he wrote it and his pride is hurt when he finds out the truth.


Episode 13: Star Quality
Wherein Danny decides to “go out as a single” (I guess this was in the days before people left groups to go “solo”, because this “going out as a single” concept comes up more than once in the series) after a columnist says he has personal magnetism and star quality but then it turns out she was mistaking Danny for Chris (with all due respect to Chris number one or two, um, this was a stretch obviously for the sake of a joke, because everyone knows that Chris and Tracy were kind of just the filler of the family – allowing for the fact that at no time in the entire four years did Danny, Chrisses #1 or 2, or Tracy actually play or sing, but Danny at least had you know, lines, and he really did have personal magnetism, just ask Vincent Gallo (scroll down for more on that). Well, guess what, I wanted to go out as a single myself, and I actually could sing, but see

Episode 1: What? And Get Out of Show Business?
in which the entire family suffers from stage fright for why it didn’t happen to me.

Episode 24: A Partridge by Any Other Name
So and also Danny’s birth certificate gets lost and he thinks he’s adopted and goes around looking super sad and looking for his birth parents and calling his mom Mrs. Partridge. I had a brief period where I thought I might be adopted too. Sure, my mom had mentioned the agonizing pain of her only childbirth more than a few times, and sure, I looked exactly like her and sure, there was that whole birth certificate thing, but I have felt like a misfit from day one, and in my ten-year-old mind, that was evidence enough.


Episode 30: Anatomy of a Tonsil
This is the one where Danny is supposed to get his tonsils out but Punky Lazaar (the Eddie Haskell of the 70s) tells him horror stories about surgery which freaks him out plus he also watches an episode of Marcus Welby and decides he will die from the operation and then when he doesn’t die he’s still afraid to sing. One more time: me = afraid to sing.

Episode 43: I Am Curious Partridge (a very risque choice for a g-rated sitcom, I might say, as this references a popular sexy book/movie of the era)
In which Danny writes slanderous pieces about Keith and Shirley for the school paper. I started writing slanderously about everyone I knew starting in third grade but had the good fortune that no one read it. (I took Danny’s experience as a cautionary tale, and ended up becoming a fiction writer.)

Episode 71: The Partridge Connection:
In this episode, Danny and Punky Lazaar get caught stealing. I stole a bracelet from a hotel drugstore in Ohio where my mother was performing, and didn’t have the good sense to consider that my mom might ask me where I got it, and had to go back, just like Danny, and repent.

Episode 84: A Day of Honesty
Not to forget the one where Danny gets brought home by the police for lying about sneaking into the movies and the day of honesty where he points out that everyone is somewhat dishonest so they all agree to tell the truth for an entire day until he learns at the end that a white lie is sometimes okay if it means not hurting Laurie’s feelings about a guy rejecting her.

And then there were all the episodes involving Danny’s love life, including:

Episode 46: Promise Her Anything But Give Her a Punch
Episode 55: You’re Only Young Twice
Episode 67: The Eleven Year Itch
Episode 91: Danny Converts

I’m not sure anything was illuminated in any of these so much as it was a place to live vicariously though Jodie Foster (who gives him a punch in the eye in episode 67 – clearly a recurring theme), or Gloria Hickey, his recurring steady, or that Jewish girl where he goes to her bat mitzvah pretending to be Jewish. (I would later have a long history of dating Jewish boys, and when they called me Craneberg in college, I would say “Ha ha ha!” but not go to any great lengths to deny it. I thought my decidedly Aryan looks would speak for itself in the end, but I had people ask me seriously if I was going home for Pesach.) In my school around this time, kids were playing Spin-the-Bottle after school (not me of course, since I was at this time waiting for Danny), and at no time would anyone be satisfied with a punch in the arm. I did of course relate to the tales of unrequited love. I’d had one or two real-life crushes by this time (proving that I had at least some grounding in reality), on boys who probably had little or no information about my existence. And there was one entire episode (#53: Each Dawn I Diet) about Danny being shall we say chubby, which I was, and could definitely relate to. I filled out my Danskin shorts a little too well. In episode 55, Danny acts out at school because he identifies more with older siblings Keith and Laurie. I watched Laugh-in at age six. Eventually they use reverse psychology on him, letting him stay up late to watch talk shows (I watched Johnny Carson beginning when I was around ten) and double date with Keith and his girlfriend at Muldoon’s point (the makeout spot) and in the end he decides he’s tired and not so much into making out and really only wants to play with Gloria Hickey. Which really was what I wanted, although I’m guessing Danny B. would just assume make out. (Let me also add that this is not even a comprehensive list of the Danny episodes. He was heavily relied on throughout the run of the show.)

So let’s review the character description: wise, embarrassed, prideful, going out as a single, possibly adopted, afraid, slanderous, thieving, lying, shall we say chubby, mature for his age. Check, check, check, check – if there were a universe in which this were someone’s personal ad, let’s just say I’d answer it and leave it at that.
I kept my secret love from everyone. I knew he wasn’t the one I was supposed to have a crush on. In a moment of weakness mentioned it to my dad without thinking to pinky swear him to secrecy, and when it came out in conversation extremely casually over dinner or something, I felt a shame I’m not sure I’ve felt since, and was teased by my stepbrothers, although I’m sure now that they would have teased me even if it had been Keith. That’s just part of the brother job description. I made the mistake of mentioning the subject of this essay (then in it’s incubation) over dinner one night and one friend’s reaction was so violent, so horrified, I fought the ancient temptation to pretend I really meant to say Keith, but instead found the courage to defend my Danny. I told him I had been in the closet about this for thirty-five years and I wasn’t about to go back in now.

Then something occurred to me. Although I have felt so alone in a million ways in my lifetime, I made the somewhat late discovery that everyone feels this way, at least at one time or another, and also, we now have the internet to search for kindred spirits on nine magillion topics, at least eight magillion of which I probably don’t want to think about. (I’ve posted on my blog about subjects like Girls Gone Wild and Winnie Cooper being in Stuff magazine, and have received a surprising number of hits on those pages even though the content was I’m sure not what those readers were looking for. I’ve also received numerous hits on my pages about hating to wash their hair – people actually typed this phrase into Google – and as many on Landon and Shavonda – and I still don’t know who they even are – so I’m just saying I’m aware now that people have interests in things I’ve never even heard of.)

So, I proceeded to Google, in various forms:

“Danny Partridge fans” - over 100,000 hits (quit after searching 20 or so Keith-or-entire-family-related pages)
“Danny Bonaduce fans” – same
“I Love Danny Partridge” – 0 results
“I Love Danny Bonaduce” – 0 results

The sole result of this unscientific search being a snippet from an interview with Vincent Gallo, he of Buffalo ’66, a great movie, as well as The Brown Bunny, a notorious movie in which if you sit through three hours of scenes of empty highways with no dialogue, you get to see Chloe Sevigny give Vincent Gallo a supposedly real blow job. If that’s something you in fact want to see. Now, if you know anything about Vincent Gallo, he seems like an interesting guy, interesting being a euphemism for complicated and weird and sexy in a creepy unclean kind of way, not to mention a staunch Republican, so I’m not sure what it says about me that Vincent Gallo was the only person I could find on the web who openly admitted to being a Danny Partridge fan. My husband expresses vague concern that the logical conclusion is that I am also soulmates with Vincent Gallo. I don’t know. All I know is, apparently I really am alone, but with Vincent Gallo.

Excerpted here, from “The Book, LA, Winter 2001,” for your edification:

The Book: Is it true you are a fan of Danny Bonaduce?
Gallo: I became an actor, because of Danny Bonaduce on the "Partridge Family". He's tremendous, so funny and brilliant, and we seemed around the same age, I felt I should be on a show with him. We could have done a good spin-off, "the Danny Bonaduce, Vinnie Gallo show", da-da-da-da- da di da da (sings theme show music)
The Book: Would you still like to work with him?
Gallo: I never lose my heart for anyone. Ever. I would do anything with Danny any day of the week.

You go, Gallo. I suppose if I am to be thoroughly honest, he does impress me as the kind of guy I would have felt understood by if I’d known who he was twenty years ago, and who we can probably all feel grateful that I never met. I was doing a little acting at that time and a lot of drinking and I might have thought it was a good idea to give him a blow job in a movie for the sake of art. And not even my art. If I really gave someone a blowjob for my art, at least no one would have to see it.
What’s weird is that I am now married to someone I am sure I understand, and who I am sure loves me like mad. I’m pretty sure he understands me too – but perhaps more interestingly, I’m inclined to mention that my ongoing prayers in more recent years “to understand than to be understood” have actually been answered, and it’s a relief. Trying to be understood is exhausting.

My best friend Nina claims she liked Danny too, which makes me question the Google search. When I mentioned that he bore a slight resemblance to someone I knew, I didn’t have to finish the sentence before she knew which ex I was talking about. An ex who any number of his exes and current wife would agree on as being empirically cute. Could it be that no one is willing to admit their Danny love, even now? Until very recently and for many years, Danny had a wife, and she’s actually pretty hot. And what about all those five hundred women he’s claimed to have slept with? Could they all have been on drugs? Don’t answer that.

It’s been a couple of decades since I’ve read a celebrity memoir, and having temporarily put down Francine du Plessix Gray’s elegant memoir of her parents, “Them,” reading Danny’s book, “Random Acts of Badness” left me feeling a bit like I’d been on a two-day drug binge myself. I’m obviously not going to recommend it unless you’re the only other person out there besides Vincent Gallo and me who has an interest in Danny Bonaduce. But know in advance that he’s no dummy, in spite of his odd use of exclamation points (one or two every couple of pages, including, “Pow!” “Hey!” “Groovy!” “Gasp!” “I just didn’t know!” “It’s not like my hair should be wet!” and “Thinking of one’s mother at a time like this is just wrong!” I feel compelled to mention that there are probably an equal number of question marks, but I think one will make my point well enough: “Do you see the dwarf?”), plus as many of you know, I’m hardly one to judge when it comes to creative punctuation. He also seems overly fond of the phrase “Don’t get me wrong,” nevertheless, there’s an interesting story here. He’s opinionated and totally self-deprecating, extremely willing to poke fun at himself all the way through. (I’m sure he knew someone else would do it if he didn’t. He claims to have lost count of how many times he made Letterman’s top ten list.) I’d also like to go on a minor tangent here about the fact that his given name is actually Dante, because one of my real-life crushes of my junior-high school days, post-Partridge, was on a family friend also of Italo-American descent and also named Dante who was a few years older than I and the second-cutest thing I’d ever seen, first if you count people I’d actually met. He actually got married pretty young, crushing my hopes for our future, while I was still in high school, but fortunately this particular Dante had two redheaded cousins around the same age named Adonisio and Vittorio (real names), who were extremely funny and paid attention to me when no one at my own school was looking (and they were in college! I was only sixteen!); I’m trying to point out that I’m sure that Danny had everything to do with the origins of my love for Italian guys, which would recur again for a period right after the Nice Jewish Boy years. Anyway, Danny seems to know that he wasn’t considered the cute Partidge and claims that even Brian Forster (Chris #2) had more female admirers than he did, which seems preposterous to me. He seems to have appropriate remorse for the way he’s treated his loved ones during druggier times. (He also admits to being a liar, so take that for what it’s worth.) He doesn’t blame show business for his problems, which I appreciate, because I’d personally hope to god my kid didn’t want to be a child actor, although contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe it’s show business that causes addiction. For every Danny, there’s also a Jodie Foster, for every Dana Plato, a Ron Howard. Okay well maybe there are also a few who are not drug-addicted or dead but just living happily in obscurity. He has a great overall attitude, considers himself the luckiest guy in world to have been on the PF and to have an ongoing career in radio, and does not overestimate his talents.

That said, I still kind of want to shake him. He doesn’t seem to think drinking heavily is a problem even though he’s entirely willing to admit he’s a big drug addict. And I admire him for essentially saying that that drug addict is very much alive in him (this was written four years ago, before his recent return to rehab, so I guess he was right) and that he didn’t know what would happen in the future. But mostly what endeared me to him, in the second half of the book, was his admiration for his wife. The end of the book is very bittersweet, made me really sad. He's describing a conversation where some people get sort of personal about who they really are and he doesn't know what to say because in some ways he doesn’t really know. The best answer he can come up with is, “I’m Gretchen’s husband.” This woman has obviously tolerated more than a wife should ever have to, clearly helped him in a million ways, and I pray to god she goes to Al-Anon. Of course, I don’t think there’s a single soul out there, including Danny, who can be summed up in one three-word sentence, especially one that defines you by your relationship to another person. But you know what? I thought it was really sweet, and you know, even if I didn’t know myself as well as I think I do, I’m happy to say that “I’m Ben’s wife” is way up on my top ten list of who I really am.

(Never saw this in my life, unbelievably)