Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Giant Ashtray

This last Thursday afternoon my friends and I decided we were going to the beach. Like most beach plans the day was set aside in advance, and we were determined to make it to the ocean, rain or shine. Even though the sky was heavy and gray and the air was cool, we trooped on; sailing to Coney Island on the Q train, over the Manhattan bridge, underground and overground through the tree lined streets of south east brooklyn.

We lucked out. The rain turned out to be a few modest drizzles, and the gray skies frightened the tourists and locals who would've been competition for a spot in the sand. We relaxed, read, talked, watched the skies. I dipped my feet in the water, but it was cold and the sand was full of broken glass and cigarette butts. The mood was melancholy and contemplative, we simply existed in the face of the ocean and sky, vast and silent, except for the groups of screams and whistles from the far off park. After a few hours we packed up camp and made our way to the Wonder Wheel, where we packed ourselves into a red metal cage and swung around for a little while, pointing out the cityscape on the horizon line, the people below.

By the time we continued on our walk to Brighton Beach, I felt fully enraptured in the moment. It's not something I can easily articulate, but I felt a certain oneness with our walk, with the air, and the strange people we passed.

And then my eyes grazed across the skyline and I saw the thin beautiful brown arms of a woman adjusting her sari in the fluttering wind. When the scarf came down an emotional tide rippled within me. I knew those arms, that cornrowed head. It was Key.

Key used to work in a shop on the corner of Prince and Mulberry by the Young Designer's Market, where I stood on the corner and passed out cards my first year back in New York. I maintained a job during the week. We immediately became friends, I stopped in her shop on an almost hourly basis every Saturday and Sunday to gossip about the neighbors, our love lives or lack thereof, and our sadness and dissatisfaction with our careers. We were two artists, bound together by the prison of the paycheck. We fantasized, we sang, and we laughed. We waited for our husbands, we waited to be discovered, we waited for our lives.

And then one day, Key left. The shop owner refused to pay her, and she was gone. We had phone numbers, we texted, we talked, but it was mostly through the other locals in the neighborhood that I found out about Miss Key. She was working at the Mercer Hotel, I eventually left the market.

In the ensuing two years, despite facebook, myspace, emails, or telephones, we lost touch. Life caught up with us, and whirled us into different directions. We didn't see each other once. She called from a payphone in the rain one afternoon. I called on a walk to meet friends at Astor Place.

And then there she was. I called her name, and when she turned around I was consumed with emotion. I felt her sadness flood into me, and for a moment we didn't speak, we just cried and held each other. She was having a bad day/week/month, hiding out on the Coney Island boardwalk, eating a pile of deliciously greasy food. And I was one with the universe. So much has changed for me since those times I spent warming up in her shop during the cold winter Nolita mornings. My art has become my work, and I was surrounded by some of my closest friends- and had a beautiful boy on my arm. Life has been good. She kept saying how much she needed to see me at that moment, and I couldn't help but feel some greater force making it happen.

After we said our goodbyes, I couldn't explain the sudden outburst of emotion to my friends. How do you explain something that just is? A feeling. Rushing water at the bottom of our wells. Dark, and moving. Our souls know each other, our hurt knows each other.

I don't think it will be another two years before I see Miss Key again. Read her beautiful words at her blog, Lady Plum.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Purple Diaries

Many people who know of Mary Astor associate her with the infamous scandal of 1936: The Purple Diaries. It was a divorce case that involved both of my great-grandparents battling it out over a custody battle for my grammy Marylyn; and it was also one of the first tabloid divorce cases to hit front page newspaper.

Dr. Franklin Thorpe, my great-grandfather, alleged that Mary kept a diary whose pages were scrawled with purple ink, that noted all of her dubious affairs with many hollywood bigwigs, but mostly in relation to her affair with playwright George S. Kaufman.
While looking around on the internet for other things, i stumbled upon an article from the LA times blog, in their regular Movie Star Mystery Photo section. I posted a few things from the link below, fun read!!

Pages from the diary??

Ms Astor in court. Work the eyebrows!

Ms Astor on the far left, Her lawyer in the middle whispering to gossip queen Ruth Chatterton.

Fascinating article from the time--click for a larger read!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wednesday Matinee

NYC has blessed me with an insane amount of self motivated work lately. This means projects and deadlines that I am left to meet--enforced by myself; which is something I begged the universe for during the last three painful years I was working in the glamorous fashion industry. But, because I am my own worst enemy, this also means I have been spending waaaaay too much time taking advantage of my wonderful party promoter friends and their seemingly endless supply of SVEDKA and good music. Which means spending waaay too much time being hung over on the couch every day, not working, watching my young life flash before my eyes in a succession of television hours and facebook masturbation. It was one such morning that I caught a charming commercial on LOGO (the gay channel) for THE JEFFERY AND COLE CASSEROLE, a half hour long series of sketches written/edited/produced by Jeffery Self and Cole Escola, two very talented NYC based writers.

I was immediately intrigued by the lo-fi feel of the show, and after watching a few daytime reruns, I realized it had been a long time since I had laughed so hard during a hangover. I did a little internet stalking and found out these boys were somewhat major league youtube celebrities, which is what must have cinched the deal avec Logo. They are known on the internets as the VGL boys, aka Very Good Looking Boys- which is very fitting as they are both quite adorable.

But I have been missing out on my casserole lately because something in the universe snapped and I suddenly have managed to get my life moving again, which means more selective and career beneficial partying (happy hour 'business meetings' that send me to bed by eleven), as well as hours spent doing the work I need to be doing to get my career as an artist going. Making the bloody dolls, taking pictures, going to castings, drawing, writing writing writing.

So you can imagine my pleasure when I was in Hell's Kitchen, having a cig after my last go-see of the day, when I noticed two VGL boys walking down the street. First I dumbly yelled "I LOVE YOUR SHOW" and then I asked to take their picture for yangabang. We got in a conversation about my tattoos, which inevitably led to me bragging about Mary Astor. Cole mentioned he loved her in a movie where she was the 'other woman' (Dodsworth!!! It was Dodsworth!) and Jeffery sighed wistfully, saying his great-grandmother was probably knitting tea cozies. It is my hope that someday we'll all be besties and they'll invite me and Snejana over to discuss politics and butt plugs...but until then, here's a few of my fave videos as well as links to their (well worth reading) blogs.


Lords & Pirates

Summer Reading has been somewhat hampered by the recent influx of projects I've taken on, some of which I'm actually hoping I'll get paid for. But there is always the subway train, and Housing Works, whose trays of dollar books are tempting for the literate and poor artist like myself. Here are my two most recent trappings, followed by a book I am halfway through.

Richard Hughes

first edition cover art

Originally published in 1929, a high wind in Jamaica is a captivating tale of pirates, children, and the savagery that both genres of humanity represent. It tells the story of two groups of children, who are sent from the hurricane torn shores of post-colonial Jamaica back to their 'native' England, a place they only know about through tales of their parents. On the way the ship is seized by pirates, and eventually the reader is left to wonder who is really in control of the story-- the pirates or the children.

The premise sounds somewhat ridiculous, but the intimate narrative tone reels you right in---giving us thorough views into the insights of the children, who think and act as children do (immediately connecting us to their characters, we were all savage children at one time) which can definitely be disturbing. Even though the book itself is a short and 'easy' read, every sentence is so saturated with poignant truth, that I wanted to reread the whole thing after finishing the last page. This was a book that made me want to write.

Louis Crompton

Lord Byron the Sexy

We've all heard about Lord Byron-- the great romantic poet who invented the term/lifestyle of the dandy-- but only in the last twenty or so years has his personal life been able to be examined in a completely unbiased fashion in regards to his own sexuality. By examining the social climate of 19th Century England, Louis Crompton paints a thorough portrait of George Gordon Byron as a tormented bisexual who's celebrity was at odds with the vicious treatment of anyone suspected of sodomy.

England was far behind other nations in terms of its treatment of homosexuals- where to be caught more or less meant death or exile. As Lord Byron grew up, and courted lovers of all genders and backgrounds, he was constantly haunted and tormented by the possibility of society discovering his love for men. Particularly fascinating were his personal letters to another closeted friend, telling of his love triumphs in Greece, where every thing is alluded to in a lyrical code. Boys names changed to flowers, trysts changed to prayer meetings. A fascinating glimpse into a time where money and fame couldn't save you from society's prejudices-- an issue still too familiar with almost two hundred years later.

Michael Chabon

I read a few reviews of the highly anticipated movie remake of this book, and when every one was outraged at the film's blatant cover-up of the sexual aspects throughout the work; I had to see what I was missing out on. I love reading books/watching movie books, sometimes in either order, and after picking this one up, it doesn't surprise me that they got it wrong.

The prose is layered and intense, and the storyline is at once nostalgic and immediately meaningful. If you're in the mood for a little bit of smarter summer reading, pick this one up. However, I'm only halfway through it, so it could all go down from here and I should probably stop