Of Lemon Pies, Navy Mermaids and Bearded Eighth Grade Boys: Oscars 2005

Ah, the Oscars. As boring as ever, and I love them anyway.

I’ve never been in LA for las festivities before, and around these here parts a somberness more aptly befitting an inauguration takes hold starting the Friday before. By early Sunday morning, the city vibrates with a queasy anticipation; by midday, the traffic, shite already, crawls to a stop and everyone dutifully straps on their skinny jeans and late-90s clunky shoes to settle into wherever they are going to howl for the rest of the gloriously sunny day. I watched it all with a bunch of LA-NYC girls who, like me, occupy the frayed edges of the fellavision bidness — most spectacularly my girl CC, who’s out here shooting a pilot with Our Celluloid Lady of the Cellophane Tetas Grandes (who shalt remain unnamed).

Here’s my breakdown, shallow as it ever was.

Red Carpet

Navy, a neutral color that’s both less weighty and more conservative than black, rules the roost as chief metaphor.

Girls and boys alike have slathered themselves in the stuff — the ladies mostly in long mermaid-shaped dresses that shape them not one but two sets of hips (one of which sits squarely around their calves). And why why why why all the dyed black hair? If the attendees ain’t sporting that bracing buttery blond, it’s an equally bracing dyed black. I wish some NYC (hell, BK) stylists had been flown into shake out the TV hostess-stiff from these tarred and feathered, some of whom looked so much nicer when I caught them in other contexts over the looooong-ass holiday er Oscar weekend. Overall fashion trends include bad bell-shaped earrings, chandelier necklaces draping too-fussy necklines, siblings.

Small-minded specifics:
-Mike Meyer either a. has received a bad chemical peel b. has fallen asleep while the sun lamp technician gave him the rub and tug c. discovered bulimia, Heathers style d. is going for Scientologist-style puffiness to resuscitate his Korea.
-Cate Blanchett miraculously pulls off dressing up like Million Dollar Baby’s lemon pie with real filling.
-Scarlett Johannsson transcends the lousy fizz of her bangs and Halle Berry the debacle of Catwoman and Benet to channel otherwise apparently blacklisted glamour. Scarlett especially looks like a little cloud of red-lipped confectionary sugar.
- Say it ain’t so, Joe, but la hermosa mexicana Salma Hayek looks dumpy dora in Elvira bangs and a Tracey Turnblad dress.
-In her draped jersey dress, Hilary Swank has literally manifested herself as an Oscar. All rise for the power of suggestion.
-The new Hollywood vampires, all tiny, pointy teeth and waxy white: Renée Zellweger, tight and wincy; Johnny Depp and his French mew of a bride; Kirsten Dunst, that jagged little pill.
-Estimable Laura Linney brandishing a L Word mullet that makes her curiously reminiscent of Frank Purdue.
-Drew Barrymore as a soap actress in her 40s trying to dress like the kids.
-Al Pacino as a soap actress in her 50s trying to dress like the kids.
-Penelope Cruz channeling Audrey .-It’s official: Melanie Griffith now wears a labia on her face.

Aw, shit; you get the picture.

Rock Rolls It Up

Maybe it’s all the advance buzz, but I swear I’ve been privy to the whole of Christ Rocket’s Oscar schiticky already on the new borscht belt. Ears sticking out, slim jim in his fine, nonpleather suit, he keeps laughing at his own jokes, Billy Crystal style. Our eyes are fluttering even before he gleefully shouts “All period pieces should star Russell Crowe.” That said, I cannot believe people are up in arms that he questions the star quality of those present. Principesas, all of them, because save for Rock’s man on the streets later on, this is one of the most unabashedly undemocratic ceremonies in recent memory. All the working stiffs who actually toil for their money — makeup artists, art department, etc. — are relegated to the carpet to fetch their awards. And bewigged, bejeweled Beyonce rocks lesser known artists’ nominated songs as she sways inanely side to side in three different oufits, each more improbable than the next.

Scrapes and bows to Rock for busting out the “Next they’ll be getting their awards in the parking lot” halfway through. Even more for contriving to land Martin Lawrence in this ceremony by any means possible and for the series of man-on-the-streets at the mostly black multiplex; nice to be reminded most of us don’t even ever see the shite and shinola that gets nominated.

It’s nice too that Georgieboy gets lowered a peg, (and for meek Hollycould to applaud the Angry Black Man’s sentiments) but I’d be even more into it if Rock would bellow, “My bush would make a better president.” Where’s The L Word when you need it? And why the vanilla invocation of the f word at the end? It seems even the mighty Chris Rock gets stymied when hosting the Oscars. The cheesy earnestness of it all subsumes even the most sardonic of comedians.

Dubious Awards

With no exception, everyone wins who everyone anticipates will win. The upside is that a. no one is tossed a compensation Oscar (as Annette Bening would’ve had she won) b. all the awards are deserved. I have to shake off the Oscar mania to remember that, except for Million Dollar Baby, none of the pictures nominated even land in my personal top ten.

Highlights of awards and presenters:

-Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman is back to his Electric Company roots as the original '70s proud black man in his thick white brush cut, carved Indian cheekbones, gold hoops, African scarf. Nods judiciously after his clip and then bounds, unsurprised and o so pleased, when his best supporting actor award is announced. Short and sweet, his is a gracious speech, a harbinger of the night's speeches to come. At one point in the evening, when the camera flashes on him, he strokes his new boy suggestively and winks at the camera.

-I’m inclined to cut Robin Williams some slack because I’ve seen him the day before in a green pinstriped fedora and silver Adidas, graciously accomodating avid autograph hounds, but on stage he’s as much of a cokehead-without-the-coke as ever, zinging out the impressions that carefully tread the line. To wit: he does Scorsese in Shark Tale while Marty waggles his caterpillar brows helplessly beneath the big black glasses (that have apparently been passed the Philip Johnson torch). And always with the fake gay, Robin W. — Spongebob being his excuse this time. It occurs to me, when he dashes like a little Oscars leprechaun across the stage halfway through the ceremony, that he and Rock are experiencing a standup standoff of some kind. Eighth grade boys with their magic tricks, for sure.

-I forget that The Incredibles lives in my top five films of 2004 until it takes best animation. A feat, especially as Shrek 2 whupped its ass at the box office. The director looks like his animated characters, and his wife looks like the mom superhero. They say the imagination takes us but so far.

-With Scarlett hoisted into a balcony to announce the science/technology awards, it’s clear her girdle has been pulled so tight that she’s losing her circulation, causing one of her pudgy little arms to flop involunatarily like a dazzling beached jelly fish. With Natalie Portman parading as Padmé the whole night, the starlets formerly known as precocious seem to think “grownup” means “monotonic.” They’re so sophisticated!

-A quick rundown of what makes me happy about the “lesser” awards: that Born into Brothels beats the hubristic, character-driven Super Size Me; that Scorcese’s long-time editrex takes best editing (he weeps with the reality show hand flutter, so dear!); that pie-eyed Charlie Kaufman finally lands an award and backs away from the scene of the crime faster than you can say “my agent”;the cinematographer who devotes his award to his ailing mom and the hospital staff who've been attending to her.

-Best phrase of the night: “tabernacle of talent.”

-I have no idea that Counting Crows Adam wants to be Billy Joel until tonight. A bedreadlocked rube dressed like a Miami retiree is a thing to behold.

-I like, not love, Sidney Lumet, but I lovelovelove when he thanks the movies. I dare not question whether that is his mother, his daughter, or his nanny with the Hawaiian tittyfuckboobs. These are breasts that automatically reduce anyone foolish enough to attempt to describe them into an eighth grade boy.

-Other eighth grade boys: Alexander Payne (in a bad way), Charlie Kaufman, Jay Z (when he smiles). Add to this list, please.

-There is so much chemistry between copresenters Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayeck that I swear they are about to start making out. Speaking of which, I am now itching to switch over to episode 2 of The L Word.

-So pleasant for hamhock Pierce Brosnan to be helplessly overshadowed by a brassy-balled woman — and an animated one at that.

-Having seen Jamie Foxx deliver the exact same speech at the Golden Globes, his waterworks seem like they should land another Oscar of their own. Especially when, maybe not really realizing how close he's being shot, he stops mid-Grandma weep and glances up through his lashes to gauge how his show is landing. BURNT!

-Yo-Yo Ma’s accompaniment to the dearly departed is affecting without being affected. It’s ridiculous how many people chose this last year to go: Ossie Davis, Marlon Brando, Tony Randall, Christopher Reeve, to name just a few. I wonder if the changes this country is wreaking proved too much for them.

-Prince is a midget with long, lean legs and wondrous-wide Egyptian eyes. He is as hot as ever, smirking prettily and rolling his eyes in his patented Clara Bow homage when he messes up. He announces the nominations in a low-pitched, well-modulated tone that really says, “Lisa Rosman, I’ve been waiting to lick your pussy since you were 12 years old.” I knew it!!

-Check out puffy Sean Penn in his We’re No Angels haircut, clarifying who he-wuz-robbed (by Rock) Jude Law is. Ye Gods, who is writing this apologist drek?

-For the record, I’m so pleased that Hilary Swank takes best actress again. She accepts her award deliberately and clearly, with the same jaw-popping intensity with which she physically wrestles with the roles she (surprisingly selectively) chooses. I love Chad Lowe for so fully loving his wife as she shines more brightly in the sun. I truly hope their relationship is not a beard, because it ain’t a bad model for the strong straight girls.

The Morning After

A few liters of water and an Advil later, I’m still smarting over the undemocratic nature of the ceremony. It would’ve been lovely if Imelda Staunton, nominated for her performance as Vera Drake, could’ve taken best actress, because she certainly logged the finest moments in 2004 film. It would’ve been lovely if Julie Delpy, Richard Linklater, and Ethan Hawke’s valentine to growing up had scored a best adapted screenplay. But Hilary Swank was eminently deserving, and I suppose Sideways did shimmer with well-rendered dialogue, even if it lived but a step away from a buddy movie drinking Pinot rather than Bud.

And it was certainly the blackest Oscars I’ve ever seen, what with two black actors scoring Oscars, crazybird Chris Rock strutting about, and Jay-Z grinning maniacally at that lovely bird of his own, Miss I Dream of Jeannie and the billion-dollar deal, Beyonce. For sure it’s been amazing to hear everyone, and I mean everyone, discuss last night’s awards with the same rabidness that we discussed the 2000 elections back East.

Om shanthi indeed.

Dispatch from the Gold and Blacklisted

Here I lounge, here I soar, here I write in what’s dubiously known as the city of angels. I snuck westerly in retreat from the NYC weather last Wednesday, landing just as the California skies sealed themselves once again against their own private maelstroms. Which is to say: I missed both states’ inclimate weather — LA's uncharacteristically crazy rain and the blizzards savaging people’s suede boots back East. Which is to say: I scored. It’s been watermelon juice and fish tacos for this girl (no euphemism intended) for going on five days, and I’m sorry, o broads of both the girl and boy persuasion, but it’s hard to skulk indoors typing when the ocean is whispering in your ear from right outside your door. That said, much has been observed and much will be scribed but firstly firstly firstly there is business at hand to discuss.

That is, Oscar folly to post here shortly.


Reality Gladiators in the Atrium of the USA (The Contender, Newlyweds)

Here's a handy axiom: Reality shows are to television what stand-up comedy is to humor. Which is to say, the lowest of the low.

Until recently, I’d pretty much managed to steer clear of the entire genre. But Yancey is an enormous American Idol and America’s Next Top Model fan, and for my unnamed TV mag gig, I find myself writing about the genre all the time.

Officially I still hate all reality shows, and, truly, I do hate most of them. I never dug the Real Worlds or the myriad Bachelor mutations or any of big kahuna burger Mark Burnett’s pieces of nastiness. But my reasons are hardly lofty: I watch TV for escape, and ordinary people scrambling all over themselves hardly proffers much of a respite from mundanity. Plus, since the advent of reality programming, at least four pages of every issue of Us Weekly have been squandered on people who aren’t even nice to look at. Deeply ideological, profoundly well-developed objections, clearly.

So let me lay out my Bingo cards. Once, ostensibly for an article, I watched in one sitting the entire first season of Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. I got a little hooked. Another axiom: reality show viewing is to human folly what rubbernecking is to car accidents. And another benchmark in my spiritual growth: self-esteem elevation through an observed superiority to youngsters so much more moneyed and famous and primped than myself.

I pitied Nick, subject to Jessica’s whining and wining while he determinedly went about everday tasks like moving his furniture himself, doing laundry, taming renegade bees. I snickered at Jessica, shuffling with the gait of a far fatter woman in those shitty Juicy sweats and platform flipflops that they never stop wearing in LA. I relished the couple’s palpable if unacknowledged discontent in the face of all received culture had told them they’d need and want (a DIY Ken doll boasting an earring and a paternalistic air; an apparently dim, blond big-breasted Barbie doll; photos of both of them sucking up to the Bushes). For days I hissed her patented “Gawwwwd” into my sister’s ear to both of our great amusement.

Strictly for clinical reasons, I then moved on to the entire first season of Ashlee Simpson in an MTV marathon — in order to synthesize the pathology of the whole family, naturally. Oh, the joyous torching of the muse recording of her first album, the great dyeing of the witchy witch tresses, the stamping of the foot at Big Daddy — he who's bragged about his daughter’s (now plastic) D cup and long-maintained virginity to all across the land. And the revelation that Ashlee's throat resembles to a remarkable degree a misogynist’s worse nightmare of a pussy. Bingo!

But there exists yet another axiom: reality shows are to the US what gladiators were to Rome. It’s an obvious one, but painfully, abundantly apt. This week, Najai Turpin, an eliminated participant on the soon-to-premiere boxing reality show The Contender, committed suicide. Producers Sly Stallone and Mark Burnett have denied hotly any links between Turpin’s suicide and his participation and elimination from the show, but commemorations to Turpin have already appeared on The Contender’s site and the producers have established that Turpin’s, er, story arc will be included in the limited series. Translation: No culpability accepted, but we’ll gladly incorporate this wasted human life into our show. Now that’s good television.

I genuinely feel both sick and ashamed about Turpin’s death and how it has been seized upon. His demise is such a logical extension of the reality show format — personal humiliation on a grand scale, high drama screeching at (literally) life-and-death levels, rubbernecking at its most unforgivable — that we are all to blame. Boxing is a self-negating, bloodthirsty debacle that eclipses even how football caters to the human animal’s most sadistic and masochistic impulses. Exposing the personal protracted humiliations intrinsic to the sport in a reality format practically ensures a fatality or nearly fatal accident of some sort. So matter-of-factly airing Turpin's suicide as part of the show's storyline smacks of the same opportunistic “objectivity” mainstream journalists increasingly cower behind.

A man has died, perhaps not directly as a result of the TV show he was eliminated from, but certainly in a way that will be offered for public consumption. Most will reexperience it idly from the comfort of the same couches where we pass judgement on thousands of others' lives, too. Can you imagine how his friends and family will feel when Turpin's death airs as a footnote to a crap televised competition? The humane response would be to donate the show’s profits to them, but that’s a bit much to expect from a country as aggressively capitalistic as our own. Short of that, perhaps we should all reevaluate what it is that we’ve really been watching. The truest sign of an empire’s decline may be its members’ inurement to the humanity of others. So here we are. Gladiators and their listless, glassy-eyed public, reporting for death.


In Other L Words (This Lady Says It Better)

This Sunday heralds the dawning of The L Word's Season 2, and we lesbots and admirers are ready with astroglide, arcane adjectives beginning with "L," organic brown Mexican rice, and beer. A Slate piece by Ariel Levy spells out nice and easy just why the show is worth its sea salt. It also takes (another) peek at what cues it takes from Sex and the City.

Of course Levy touches on that postfeminist old saw: that it's OK that The L Word cast is comprised of mostly slick-rick lesbianicas with nary a mullet amongst them, because the girls singlehandedly dispense with lesbian bed-death through dental-dam sexual positivity. (Haven't dykes been compensating for the grim same-sex-by-default politico since at least the early '90s? And, at that, has anyone actually used a dental dam since the early '90s? Please advise.) But she's dead on when she writes that this may be the first TV show to make straight broads feel we merely lack the ingenuity to be gay; to make dyke life seem downright more glamorous. On L Word, the best slumber party of your girlhood never ends. It just ambles, sure-footed, to its natural conclusion — and lingers there. Hotness.


Cottonpicking American Apparel

Back in the '90s, I worked at what was then called the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. (These days, having gone the way of all unions, it's collapsed with Amalgamated Textile Workers' Union to become UNITE.) It was a smash-up first job, overall. Not only did I meet friend-for-life Amy and shake Bill Clinton's pretty hand, but I was able to say at the end of most days that I'd done something, however indirectly, to improve rather than further complicate the lives of a great deal of immigrant women.

One funny result of working there, however, was that I really did feel compelled to look for the union label. Even back then it was proving increasingly elusive. Truth told, it was impossible to spend all day scribing angry propaganda against Nike or the Gap, and then slap on a pair of swooshy trainers produced by sweatshop workers earning 2 cents a day. Shopping was a nightmare: For years, I could only either buy clothing at stores like Benetton, as I knew the Italians to be too prickly to use anything but organized labor, or fool helplessly with the sewing machine my grandmother left me. Over the years, as I befriended more and more Brooklyn and downtown girly designers, I started to look the other way when it came to pinpointing who exactly manufactured their too-cute-for-school gear. Only when the D train crossing the Manhattan bridge afforded me a fullscreen glimpse of the Chinatown sweatshops did I confront the women toiling at least in part on the little shifts my friends and I were sporting.

Which is why I've been clinging to American Apparel like an ideological life preserver. Sure, Dov Charney, the mustached man behind the screen, has proved himself (in the slick pages of feminist-lite mag Jane, no less) to be a chronic public masturmabator and all-round abject objectifier (in a bad way). But the ropa is clever, accessible, simple cotton, eminently affordable, and sweatshop-free. Facts impressive enough so that a church-state separation has seemed warranted in the case of Feminism Vs. Labor Politics.

A Behind the Label release, however, suggests that as usual the separation ain't possible. Dirty sexual politics and dirty labor practices is in fact the real name of the game. O ye wearing the sweet hoodies, polo shirts, and sexy camp counselor shorts, I must announce that Charney is as ugly an owner as he is a sexual prospect. Ugly, of course, in the most of spiritual of senses. What to do? Maybe we should start growing cotton ourselves.



To cheer myself up, to wrest myself from February's insidious grasp, herein lies a list. It is doggedly linkless, so consider yourself forewarned.

Word I Cannot Stop Using: Douchebag.

Favorite Misapplied Acronym: FTM.

Actresses I Wish to See More: Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Helen Mirren, Juliet Stevenson, Alfre Woodard, Regina King, Holly Hunter, Valerie Harper, Judy Davis.

Actors I Wish to See More: Donald Sutherland, Alan Arkin, Alan Alda, Tom Wilkinson; John Goodman, John Turturro, Charles Dutton, Pablo Schreiber (dang, the whole bleeping cast of The Wire).

DVDs I Cannot Stop Watching: All That Jazz; Singin’ in the Rain, the greatest metamovie ever made; Love Jones; The L Word Season 1.

TV Crying Shames: That Arrested Development has for all practical purposes been cancelled; that network TRIO is on life support since parting ways with DirecTV; that The Wire may get cancelled; that Desperate Housewives won't; that there aren't enough Prime Suspects.

Favorite Bad TV: Gilmore Girls.

Season 2 I Am Desperately Awaiting: The L Word. February 20!

Best 2004 Movie that Got Shanked by the Critics: Spanglish.

Worst 2004 Movie That Got Stroked by the Critics: Sideways — and who cares if A.O. Scott said it first? ‘Tis true, ain’t it?

2004 Movie I Will Not Forgive You for Disliking: I Heart Huckabees. Runners-up: Eternal Sunshine of the Mind, Before Sunset, Vera Drake.

Maybe They Should Stop Already: Wes Anderson, Jane Campion.

What Made Me Excited about Film Again: Last Life in the Universe.

Show That Made Me Stop Hating Going to Shows: M.I.A. at Knitting Factory last Saturday night. Even though Knitting Factory sucks, even though I could barely move to dance, even though for all practical purposes I could not take a piss, even though I currently dislike all boys who wear Seven jeans, even though I currently dislike all girls wearing bangs and a frown who only dance to look sexy to men, even though I felt old as the hills, it was still exciting to be that close to someone who is going to be a huge star in 20 minutes and actually bloody deserves it. I’d forgotten.

What Made Me See The Point of New(ish) White Music Again: Blonde Redhead, The Strokes, Karen O, Matthew Dear, The Blood Brothers (I've come around), DFA remixes.

Favorite Radio Station in a NYC Heartbeat: Hot 97.

Music That Will Always Make Me Dance Unless You Cut Off Me Legs and Then I Will Dance on My Arms Delightfully: All James Brown, cliches be damned (from here on in); Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me"; Etta James' "In the Basement"; DFA remix of Le Tigre's "Deceptatacon"; Hammer's "Can't Touch This"; Rolling Stones' "Little T and A"; Britney Spears' "Toxic"; almost the entirety of Michael Jackson's Thriller and Off the Wall; Little Richard's "Jennie, Jennie"; Madonna's "Get Into the Groove" — and every fast song on the Immaculate Collection; "Rapper's Delight"; pretty much anything by Booker T and the MGs; Beyonce's "Work It Out"; all things Fannypack; black marching bands; Andre Williams's "Jailbait"; LL Cool J's "Around the Way Girl"; Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back"; and for sure Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up". For stahtahs.

Singer Who Needs to Stop Smoking So Much Reefer and Record Already: Kate Bush, to remind everyone who was the original dreamy dream girl.

Singer Who Most Needs to Quit Smoking Period: Aretha Franklin. Runner-ups: Joni Mitchell, Yancey Strickler.

Singer Who Needs To Be At the Foot of the Bed While I Have Sex: Al Green, Blossom Dearie, Stevie Wonder.

Singer Who Needs To Be in My Bed While I Have Sex: Prince. I've been inviting him since I was 12, for heaven's sake.

Singer Who Needs To Stay Far Away From My Bed If I'm Ever Going to Orgasm Even Though I Like Her: Bjork.

Singers Who Need to Be Alive: Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke (so he could record something in the studio more closely approximating his live performances).

I Just Love Her: Etta James, Nico, Mary J. Blige, Bonnie Raitt (but her early stuff is mucho better), Aretha Franklin, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Carla Thomas, Dolly Parton.

Favorite Author who Needs to Come Back to Life to Make Me Dinner (her first order of business, naturally): MFK Fisher.

Favorite Living Author Who Needs to Publish More Already (and get back into print): Eve Babitz.

Most Surpisingly Wonderful Book I Read Recently: What I Loved by Siri Hustevdt.

Authors as Spiritual Mommies: The snappish, dual-continent ladies whose careers and lives spanned the 20th century and who discreetly wrote, lived, ate, and fucked exactly as they wished. May Sarton, MFK Fisher, The Mitford Sisters, Madeline L'Engle — to name just a few.

Short Story Authors who Make Me Remember Why I Used to Like Short Stories: Ellen Gilchrist, Amy Bloom, Alice Motherfucking Munroe.

Best Book I Keep Putting Off Reading: Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

Books I Now Accept I Will Never Finish: Middlemarch by George Eliot, 60 Stories by Donald Barthelme, Finnegan’s Wake. Obviously.

Book I Won’t Finish Until I’m 40: Anything by Proust.

Author I Will Never Like So Stop Asking Already: Don DeLillo, except for the first chapter of Underworld, which really may be perfect. Runner-up: Lorrie Moore.

The Only Remaining Author I Wish Were My Friend: Mostly I've learned it's best to admire your favorite authors from afar, but Edmund White is very endearing in person.

Favorite Literary Form: Collections of letters.

What I Miss Most About ‘90s NYC: Brooklyn. Union Square. Cheap yoga classes. Drag queens. Cheap designers on Ludlow Street. Independent bookstores. The (crappy) movie theater on Greenwich Avenue. The two-dollar theater. Clit Club (highlarious).

What I Love Most About NYC Right Now: Atlantic Avenue grocery stores. Astoria restaurants. Wireless everywhere. Diner brunches. That we can call Jon Stewart our own. Cheap designers in Williamsburg. The Landmark Theater on Houston. Brooklyn Writers' Space. The new Battery Park. Museum of the City of New York. The new dykes. Segregated dog runs. Al Sharpton.

Favorite Era of NYC: Early '50s.

Favorite Era of the '60s: Early '50s.

What Will Always Rule My School: Walking through an early NYC morning.

American City I Still Harbor Fantasies about Moving to: New Orleans (outskirts), Los Angeles (yes).

Living Friends I Miss Most: Umbe "The Creature" Consiglio, Michael Anderson.

Passed-on Friends I Miss Most: Nat Rosman, Alice May Edney.

Two Friends I Cannot Go a Week Without: Jocelyn K. Glei and Mary E. Murray.

Found Family: Yancey George, Max-a-million, Ruby Lynn — and my family of origin.

What I Cannot Lose: The 10 pounds I gained when I fell in love.

What I Cannot Find: The desire to be 25 again.


Gag Me with a Silver Spoon (Inside Deep Throat)

I've been trying to resist adding my two cents to the general hoopla about Inside Deep Throat. Like the blue movie that is its subject, the doc simply is not compelling in the slightest, and even its prurience doesn't excuse half the attention that it has quickly generated. (Disclosure: I fell asleep — twice — during the seemingly endless screening).

But I can keep mum no longer. Apparently it's been too long since feminists fell into the rabbit hole that is the Porn Debate. This film has created an excuse to once again ignite that classically polarizing, highly distracting fire and brimstone, catapulting humorectomized if well-intentioned feminist lawyer Catharine MacKinnon and enough-already First Amendment-upholding attorney Alan Dershoshits (sic, sic) into the spotlight, along with other increasingly irrelevantes (Erica Jong and her zipless fuck, anyone?). In a New York Times piece, the two pencil-pushers (pun intended, and can you blame me?) are reported to have held forth in a panel following the premiere, though they also acknowledged they'd not seen the dirtypic itself. Now that's funny.

Bottom line: People will always look at dirty pictures, and both men and women will always make them because they generate income. Supply-and-demand, baby. As a feminist, it's embarrassing to even have to field the porn question. My great-grandmother ran a brothel, for Christ's sake, so I know that people will always pay for sex in all shapes and forms. Why waste time whining about that shite when second-wave feminism's tenets (equal wages, abortion rights, to name just two) actually have a shot in hell of getting accomplished? (I know I am being very optimistic in stating this, given our neo-con 's "advances," detailed so thoroughly by the feministing goils.)

Yes, in the decades following Deep Throat's release, Linda Lovelace came forward, her grubby hands held tight by key members of the Official Feminist Movement (Gloria Seinem et al.) as she recounted the horrors inflicted upon her off- and on-set during the making of the movie. And, yes, I don't doubt her. Not exactly, anyway. But some questions always have surfaced for me, ones that I have to say out loud even though I fear sounding reactionary: Was there absolutely no moment when Lovelace couldn't have evaded her "captors" had she set her sights on doing so? And if the experience was as scarring as she has claimed it was, why did she return to the industry in the last years of her life?

The obvious answer is that she was broke, and that it was hard for her to land work in any straight industry after making her name swallowing so many inches of cock on celluloid. Lovelace's story speaks to the many shades of gray that comprise this seemingly black-and-white issue. Women may mostly go into the industry, more often than not, for cash, but what happens to them once they do is often probably more than they anticipated. Mary, my great-grandmother, was by all accounts enormously sour by the time she died. She also was a Polish immigrant who arrived in this country penniless and died a wealthy woman. There are few other industries in which a midcentury, indigent immigrant single mother could've achieved the same. Solving women's economic problems would probably be a more productive issue for all the porn-obsessed to focus upon.

What's complicated about Lovelace's story in particular is that she has always emerged as a woman born to be a victim: as fairly dim; as easily led, whether it be by porn filmmakers or the feminists (Gloria Steinem spoke for her as blatantly as did the boys in the doc's footage); as a tabula rasa upon which various pundits and social movements of the 70s scribbled their name. Finally, she seems to have become a victim of this bad movie, which isn't about any of the myriad cultural hotbuttons wired to Deep Throat, although it purports to be. Really, Inside Deep Throat is just another movie glorifying and rationalizing the '60s-'70s as a lost utopia. The arc of all these documentaries is always the same: Details the humble beginnings of a particular movement, its heyday, and then its inevitable fall from Eden.

As a younger girl, I bought into these tastemakers' propoganda, but these days I can't help but perceive those times as a natural harbinger of the detritus that we're living today. Yes, many people then lived with ideals that have faded from our country's blueprints. But many more were hedonists, opportunists, mere dullards. That said, let's face it: To suggest that Deep Throat harkens back to an era of true art, a golden era in which porn was more about social radicalism and art than the pneumatic plastic titty and dick factory that it is today, takes the mommyfucking cake. Rich, darling, it is so very, very rich.


Notes from a Broken Broad

I slipped a disc in my neck a week and a half ago and have been at best half mast since then. Slowly, slowly I am creeping back to a vaguely human state but in the interim wanted to peep that I am still alive. Peep. To soothe this savage beast there has been a great deal of L Word viewing (con Jostle and co.) and an almost complete inhalation of The Wire, Season 2 (con Yancey, naturally). Two episodes remain, and then I will be willing to more thoroughly chime in my praises on what is surely the finest show on fellavision (boy-friendly TV). Hell, TV in general. The show is seemingly impenetrable, distinctly unglamorous and typically visually unimpressive. It is also the single greatest explication of power theory ever to make it to the small screen. Michael Moore: If only.

Also I will write a real review of it later this week, but if you live in a city where The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is screening, go see it immediately. (I believe it’s just LA, SF and NY right now, in keeping with the ever-narrowing nation-wide release). The film is small-scale; is, improbably enough, about birds; and caused me to cry for a full hour after I saw it. To contextualize said tears, I only cried for about two minutes after Million Dollar Baby. Which, for the record, I hope sweeps la Oscars. It was, well, the way Eastwood looks these days — steely, taut, full of heart.

More gator, later.