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Archive for the ‘Celebrities’ Category

I very much doubt that, back in 1956, anyone congratulating Herbert Kubly — journalist-turned-university professor — on winning that year’s National Book Award could have imagined the life that would play out for a girl of ten at the time. If somehow a mid-1950s mind was able to wrap around what was later known as Punk, the idea of the woman eventually dubbed “Godmother of Punk” winning a National Book Award of her own might have brought on apoplexy.

It has happend. Yes, Patti Smith IS this year’s non-fiction winner for her book Just Kids.

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists’ ascent, a prelude to fame.

Patti came to music through poetry, a logical step that resonates on just about every level I have and made me a fan many years ago. Her lyrics have spoken , and with a generation I listened, absorbed and was absolved.

Her verse and voice still inspire:

Dancing Barefoot

she is benediction
she is addicted to thee
she is the root connection
she is connecting with he

here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly
could it be he’s taking over me…

I’m dancing barefoot
heading for a spin
some strange music draws me in
makes me come on like some heroin/e

she is sublimation
she is the essence of thee
she is concentrating on
he, who is chosen by she

here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly,
could it be he’s taking over me…

she is re-creation
she, intoxicated by thee
she has the slow sensation that
he is levitating with she …

here I go and I don’t know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
’til I lose my sense of gravity…

And now, what has been called a “beautifully crafted love letter to Robert Mapplethorpe” has been oh-so-appropriately honored.

My congratulations and gratitude to the National Book Foundation for their supreme good sense.

You can read an excerpt from the book here, but here’s a bit from that:

We used to laugh at our small selves, saying that I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad. Through the years these roles would reverse, then reverse again, until we came to accept our dual natures. We contained opposing principles, light and dark.

I was a dreamy somnambulant child. I vexed my teachers with my precocious reading ability paired with an inability to apply it to anything they deemed practical. One by one they noted in my reports that I daydreamed far too much, was always somewhere else. Where that somewhere was I cannot say, but it often landed me in the corner sitting on a high stool in full view of all in a conical paper hat.

I would later make large detailed drawings of these humorously humiliating moments for Robert. He delighted in them, seeming to appreciate all the qualities that repelled or alienated me from others. Through this visual dialogue my youthful memories became his.

Although it was far from fairy tale fodder and did not end up in happily-ever-after, the Smith/Mapplethorpe relationship … two dedicated artists sharing the path … stirs in my heart and mixes the sediment lodged there into the fluid of what it takes to create.

Ladies and gentlemen, Patti Smith … Dancing Barefoot …

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Nora Ephron has a new book out, I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections, and you can bet I’m ordering it.

In addition to the family connection … she and my brother have done a thing a couple of times … and starting long before that was made, the woman’s work has spoken to me … for me? … whatever … and very obviously, from what I’ve read so far, continues to do exactly that in this most recent work:

One good thing I’d like to say about divorce is that it sometimes makes it possible for you to be a much bet­ter wife to your next husband because you have a place for your anger; it’s not directed at the person you’re currently with.

Another good thing about divorce is that it makes clear something that marriage obscures, which is that you’re on your own. There’s no power struggle over which of you is going to get up in the middle of the night; you are.

But I can’t think of anything good about divorce as far as the children are concerned. You can’t kid yourself about that, although many people do. They say things like, “It’s better for children not to grow up with their parents in an unhappy marriage.” But unless the par­ents are beating each other up, or abusing the children, kids are better off if their parents are together. Chil­dren are much too young to shuttle between houses. They’re too young to handle the idea that the two peo­ple they love most in the world don’t love each other anymore, if they ever did. They’re too young to under­stand that all the wishful thinking in the world won’t bring their parents back together. And the newfangled rigmarole of joint custody doesn’t do anything to ease the cold reality: in order to see one parent, the divorced child must walk out on the other.

Yep.

Nora first spoke to me with Heartburn, hands down the BEST getback any betrayed wife has ever pulled, made even more appropriately brutal when it was made into a film. It lobbed key lime pie directly at the crotch of ex-husband Carl Bernstein, one half of the team that uncovered the Watergate scandal and wrote a book about it, and made it bloody hard for the man to get a date for a very long time.

It is said that revenge is a dish best served up cold, but Nora’s Heartburn warmed the cockles of damaged heart in very healing ways. I laughed … oh! how I laughed … as she got up the thumb-like nose of the bitch who’d aimed her sites on the married man and let the world know just what a prize he wasn’t, no matter the idolatry he fostered widely, and if I was the sort of woman who cooked, I’m sure I would have made good use of the recipes included in the story.

And speaking of stories … here’s a true one:

Once upon a time, I was in New York City on a night out with friends. We’d eaten well in a fabulous penthouse apartment, then danced to Brazilian music at a fabulous club … New York is all about ‘fabulous’ you see. Deciding eventually it was time for some great coffee and rich desserts, we headed for the West Side and the restaurant of another friend on Columbus Circle where we took up residence at one of the larger tables, cramming in chairs from left and right and setting up a right ruckus as we did what New Yorkers do at 3 am — discussing everything under the sun, arguing points and enjoying being one-upped by people whose knowledge is deeper.

Coffee doing what it does, a ladies trip to the ladys’ took up a good 20 minutes, what with all queueing and makeup touchups such ventures into basement toilets require when 9 girls all have to go at the same time and the geography of hip spots in Manhattan puts the bathroom down two floors.

Reentry created the desired effect, and most of the seats we’d vacated were relinquished to us previous tenants, but there were some new faces at the table.

One was a pleasant-looking gentleman seated to my left in the middle of an explanation to my friend sitting across from us on the ins and outs of dealing effectively with photographers from Architectural Digest invading a flat, his just having been featured, apparently.

Interesting enough a discussion, I suppose, but not one that grabbed my attention until some mention was made of the fact that he worked for the Washington Post.

At the time, I had a good friend working in the newsroom at the Post and the thought crossed my mind that perhaps this guy could fill me in a bit on how my buddy was fairing, so at a break in the conversation I asked, innocently enough: I’m sorry, but do you work for the Washington Post?

My friend on the other side of the table went apoplectic, perhaps embarrassed by what was apparently a blatant show of un-hipness causing my out-of-towner faux pas, and with barely an eye-blink passing … no time at all for the dude to respond to my question … she said:

Sandra … this is Carl Bernstein!

Light speed fast, the connections were made in my head: Woodward/Bernstein, Watergate, Washington Post, All the President’s Men … he’s shorter than I would have thought …

Yes. All that.

Now, it often happens that my mouth moves before my brain fully engages, and — blame it on the wine, the coffee, the hour, if you like — this was the case that night.

The very first thing I blurted out to this man who had just been impressing the shit out of the table with tales of fame and fortune and his apartment on the East Side was:

REALLY??? How cool. I LOVED your wife’s book!

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Dear Mr. Elmer,

Although you might consider this a bit disorthodox, I really, really, really appreciate you votin’ for me back when I was, ya know, gettin’ ready to run this great country (okay, almost run it unless the old guy kicked) so I could stop popping over the border into Canada with my family for health care. Please, please, please know that I don’t misunderestimate how much that meant to me, ya know, and that’s why I’m now personally thanking all my supporters, especially the athletic ones like you. I can’t refudiate the fact that having a wimp for a hubby did perspire me to go online and personally get naked for all the guys who slid one in the ballot box on my behind … oops, lol … behalf, but, ya know, I think I’ll really, really especially like you, so please add me to your skype, facebook and Bebo friend lists and fire up the webcam.

When I win the next erection, my promise is to redo a room in the White House just for chats with all you wonderful Americans who pushed and pushed and pushed really, really hard to get me through to the big finish. I think it’s important to keep my finger on the pulsings of all you voting guys, and since Todd will be busy with his new job as Secretary of the Interior Decorating, he won’t be able to do much, but he will probably watch since he’s right behind me in every move I make. My goal is to make history so good that I’ll get a monument like Washington’s, but rounder and maybe in pink.

Signed,
Your gal pal in the GOP,
Sarah Palin

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“I used to live in a room full of mirrors; all I could see was me. I take my spirit and I crash my mirrors, now the whole world is here for me to see.” ~ Jimi Hendrix

One of the great things about not being young is having a raft of experience that has pitched up in some interesting places during momentous occasions, so when a day like today comes along I don’t have only vague notions of pop culture-fed imaginings, but personal recollections that pull me along and surround me in a sea of memories I can touch, smell and taste.

I can cast my mind back to the day before today 40 years ago … September 17, 1970 … and conjure that world of long, flowing locks on everyone, Indian bedspread material curtains on widows of VW vans, the fragrance of brown rice bubbling with patchouli and weed undertones wafting just about everywhere, the tingly-tongue-taste about to bloom to bare feet from a dot of blotter.

Was there ever another such time? Has history ever gifted such a hopeful youth, one so committed and convinced it perched on the edge of greatness and could easily force feed a future on hope, dreams and hallelujah hallucinations of humanity humbled?

There was a war happening and we shook off our parents’ orchestrated baaing and sang back into their faces that we should all give peace a chance instead of playing dominos and watching our friends and brothers fall in organized lines … confident in the fact that if you want to end war and stuff, you gotta sing loud.

Much of mass media was kept well beyond our reach, but we had our music, and it took over the world. Any song had anthem potential and could become a rallying point, and those who made the music became heros … but everyday heros. The stars of those times inhabited the world we lived in, not some distant, exotic celestial body. They created music for the world, not at it, dissecting and reflecting common experience. (Even the most obscure themes were easily grasped when minds eagerly altered to span distance, ethnicity, exposure and any other differences that weren’t.)

Yes, it was a sanguine saga, a buoyant, confident and expectant generation, but by definition youth lacks experience and growing up had to happen.

Some of that growing up started today 40 years ago … September 18, 1970 … hence this post, today being the anniversary of the death of one of the best guitarist to ever pluck a string, Jimi Hendrix.

Sixteen days later, the world lost Janis. Nine months after that it was Morrison.

We had been accustom to death by war, by accident, by disease, but we’d rather missed the specter of death by life … by excess of passion, by a profligacy of youth, by presumption that power manifested assured immortality.

Or did we?

We grew up … for sure … grasped impermanence and assimilated the assumption of disillusionment into our core just like every generation before us. We’ve shifted gears and goals, darkened the rose tint on our shades, and some have developed a conservative shell to fend off what they once may have embraced.

But … and this is huge …

the music lives, and will outlive us.

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So, Larry King has announced that he’s giving up the desk job, saying that stepping away from his nightly show will result in:

” … giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids’ little league games”.

Being that the man has been doing this for more than twenty-five years, there are few in the CNN-soaked world who won’t have some opinion on his retirement, his career, his suspenders.

Being virtually CNNless for a long time, not having him on the air daily won’t impact my life one bit, but I’m sure there are those who will miss regular doses of the King and his lineup.

I would, however, like to take the announcement of his departure as a chance to write a bit about that particular brush with fame, or the time I met Larry King.

Yes, I’ve met many a celeb, and although some consider an encounter of the “This person is on TV a lot” variety an experience worth wetting themselves over, I tend not to get all that jazzed. In fact, the only person I’ve come in contact with who inspired stuttering star-struckness in me was Jane Goodall, and Larry King is so NOT Jane Goodall.

Anyway …

One night I’m at this celeb-filled fundraiser in L.A. hosted by Jay Leno with Sting as the entertainment and the Douglas clan at the next table … no, not Fred MacMurry and his Three Sons, but Kirk and Michael and wives … and a host of faces recognizable by a huge percentage of the global population.

Just behind me, Larry King and a bevy of blond beauties. They’d come in after I’d been seated, and I couldn’t help but notice that in motion Larry looks very much like a six-foot-something insect … a cross between a praying mantis and a daddy longlegs. (And, yes, I do know that a spider isn’t an insect … my brother is an entomologist, after all … but if crossed with a pm it might qualify as an arachnesect … close enough.) He moved almost predatorily as he made his way around the room, meeting and greeting, then folded his limbs much like a skinny spider settling as he eventually took his seat.

At some point in the evening, we had a brief conversation in which it came up that I live in Seychelles. He’d never heard of the place. When I explained enough geography to get the Indian Ocean placed in his head, then mentioned that we only have one TV channel here, he appeared to understand exactly why the country had never made it to his radar.

A few pleasantries, and was I moved along to Mrs. Michael Douglas who actually knew where Africa is …

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I am so completely awash with thoughts as I start this post that finding a jumping-of point is gluing my fingers to my keyboard as my brain attempts to sort out a beginning, a middle and an end.

Ah … screw it … Dive, dive …

First, an admission: I have never seen an “Idol” show. Not since Arthur Godfrey’s Amateur Hour have I watched hopeful performers set themselves up on television to take the hits that standing metaphorically naked in front of the world can bring. I know who Simon Cowell is only because I own the Shrek DVD that has him as a special feature, but have no idea who others are who sit in judgement.

So …

I’m confused.

Postings on facebook today included many people linking to a vid from a program called “Britains Got Talent” … is there supposed to be an apostrophe there somewhere? … that shows a woman singing.

The “hook” here seems to be that she’s not a babe. Susan Boyle is a 47-year-old rather plain looking person from Scotland who has obviously managed to avoid being styled. She has bushy eyebrows, a double chin and a bit of extra weight under her matronly dress. Her hair is thinning, her accent billboards her roots, and her manner, although confident enough considering the cameras and the crowd, hints of self-deprication.

Since this is a program featuring talent, not a beauty pageant, I am having a hard time understanding why eyes are rolling in the audience and judges barely cover smirks as she introduces herself … much less the stunned reaction when she opens her mouth and belts out a perfect version of the difficult “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables.

Since when did someone have to look pretty … in some canned-for-mass- consumption sort of way … to sing beautifully?

Since the advent of music vids, perhaps? Are we no longer able to hear the magic without seeing the performer, and the explanation of just exactly what it is we’re listening to?

Many are referring to this moment in British TV as inspirational. Why? Because a dowdy lass of some years can sing?

Sorry, but I just find the shock and awe of it all disturbing.

Congratulations, Susan Boyle. You were beautiful before you opened your mouth.

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Filed under the “If I were in the USA” list of events I would absolutely NOT miss …

The Adoption Institute’s annual “Taste of Spring” benefit, set for the 14th of May in New York City.

Not only does the Institute provide vital resources, research every aspect of the adoption world and experience, throw their mighty support behind valiant efforts for reform and education and work tirelessly for a better world for children and families therefore earning my eager support, I would give a whole heck of a lot to share space with their director, my personal hero and … dare I say it? … good friend, the amazing Adam Pertman.

Oh, yeah … and Hugh Jackman will be there, too.

The event itself will be a culinary delight, with some of the best restaurants in Manhattan participating.

So … make me jealous as hell and go!

You can download the invite here.

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