On the bus to the city for meetings and my NYC Writers Group. Madonna just came up on shuffle—Ray of Light. Ooh boy it’s the juggernaut of the year. May, June and July and the busiest of all and all try this year, too. Still riding high from my week at OMEGA last week. Had a great group of 20 storytellers and writers and they KILLED IT! So courageous, candid, talented and generous. They delivered. The week infernal was a combo of being a blast and totally intense. People seem to go to Omega with great intention—open hearted and ready for the big challenges. Also, pal and co conspirator Amanda Palmer was there leading a workshop on compassion and she and I put on a SHOW during the week and Lordy that shot was some high octane, raucous and beautiful stuff. No rest really— as soon as the week ended it was time to turn attention fully to the Secret City Art Revival in Woodstock last weekend of July. Art! Art! More art! Life is exploding with it—grateful for all of the amazing opportunities and collaborations and beautiful people along the way. Lizzie just came on shuffle. Such a beautiful artist. An inspiration. Reminding me to be more loving—self and others. About to step off into the sweaty stinky magical city. And more of everything. .
Ooh, boy. Where have I been? And where has the time gone? I see here that the last time I wrote in this blog was APRIL!?! Does this happen to you? Step away from something for just a minute and when you come back, months have passed....
It’s one of the main reasons for structure around our writing projects. I never miss deadlines—and I show up for the important projects, but we all need support and structure. This port blog, it’s just been sitting here, neglected, because I’ve been finishing my book, and programming all over the place, and and and....
I do have a new RANDOM THOUGHTS post to share—some of it will be woefully passé, but that’s how it goes with popular culture: Don’t SLEEP!
I saw Devil Wears Prada on a plane recently and I stand by my conviction that it is her best performance of all time.
I also finally saw Three Billboards—also on a plane— and that is one sloppy script.
I love Neneh Cherry and am so happy she has made new music.
I’m concerned that the new Vanity Fair magazine is a disaster. Not everything needs to be remade.
Sharp Objects made me want to drink. A LOT.
I’m officially obsessed with ScandiNoir, which is also a great name for a drag queen.
I sometimes wonder what Frank Ocean is doing and if he might want to hang out.
Rickie Lee Jones still sings like no one else.
Beyoncé should get a Vogue cover at least once a year.
Like Water for Chocolate has aged well.
Crazy Rich Asians is pure confection.
I wore cologne out the other night and it made me feel at least 20 years younger, not necessarily in a good way.
A Star is Born is the greatest of our Hollywood Myths.
With her ASIB performance, Lady Gaga has ascended to the Pantheon.
Everyone on the Haunting of Hill House looks like they’re on a TV show. It’s a distraction.
Babylon Berlin is like a 16 hour Francis Ford Coppola movie—brilliant and beautiful.
Louis CK complained the other day that he lost $35 million overnight thanks to #Metoo—expensive bill to pay for jacking off. BTW—he needs to stay away for a longer time.
Overstory is an incredible novel and it’s all about trees.
Rihanna turning down the Super Bowl because of Colin Kaperninck is showing us how it’s done.
I just found out Colin K is vegan. What?? Goals.
Random, perhaps embarrassing thoughts, insights and opinions relating mostly to popular culture vol. 7
-It's true, A Quiet Place should be screened with no concessions whatsoever. Shhh.
-Brian Eno's Music for Airports is perfect.
-Ready Player One was surprisingly enjoyable, esp for someone who knows next to nothing about video games. Maybe that's part of it?
-I still am not certain whether Beyonce starts with a BEE or a BAY and I'm slightly ashamed.
-John Le Carre is still writing really good espionage books.
-The Low Road at the Public made me aware of the difference between satire and agitprop and how hard it is to achieve both successfully, esp at the same time.
-Trains are inherently more glamorous than buses.
-Emily Blunt should win all of the awards for everything ever.
-Broadchurch needs a season 4.
-Wild Wild Country is a brilliant look at how humans mess things up--greed, fear, defensiveness, more greed. Amazing.
-I remember when frozen yogurt first appeared and the world seemed new.
=Is frozen yogurt is still a thing?
-I hate the word athleisure but I love athleisure clothes.
-Though not a fan, the subtle (or not) fat-shaming of Ben Affleck (not to mention the mental illness shaming) is outrageous and offensive.
-Shangela wasn't robbed, she was saved for greater, more lucrative licensing opportunities.
-Why do albums drop? Is it related to how records used to 'drop' on a turntable?
-The soundtrack to Phantom Thread is sublime though I stand by my original critique of the film (DUMB.)
-I am reminded of some of my all-time favorite soundtracks: The Mission, Blade Runner, Risky Business.
-The whole Roseanne re-boot makes me sad and I haven't even seen it.
-Isle of Dogs suffers from several problems but the one I can't shake is this: Dogs aren't cool. They can't be played cool. Dogs are fools, clowns, lovers, asses, everything about a dog is passion and heart--to have them played by a list of 'cool' stars who are downspeaking and keeping it close to the vest, well, it misses what's at the core of DOG. Thus, the film suffers from a bad case of COOL. LOVED the visuals, the animation, some of the sequences--gah! But, give me dogs, real, full-hearted dogs--an entire Island of them, please.
Random, perhaps embarrassing thoughts, insights and opinions relating mostly to popular culture vol. 6
--When society achieves a certain level of absurdity, satire loses its power.
--Nan Goldin's art action at the Met Museum inspired the hell out of me.
--As did those teens walking out of school.
--We had a walkout when I was in high school-- think it was about Prop 13.
--Elton John has a radio station on Apple Music. It's funny to think of Elton John working.
--Sza makes music I (mostly) like, but I don't know how to pronounce her name.
--Erykah Badu continues to excite me--her mixtape is brilliant. (But You Can't Use My Phone.)
--Frank Ocean is a young, gay, black musical artist with broad appeal and that makes me really happy.
--The pervasiveness of sugar astonishes me.
--I shot an episode on a TV show and it streamed last week and I still haven't seen it.
--I also haven't seen Hamilton.
--RuPaul's statements about trans people and drag, are lame.
--I still struggle with the they/them/their convention, but it's coming to me.
--Love, Simon is being billed as the first gay romcom--what about My Beautiful Laundrette? Maurice? Others? Maybe they're too fraught with closet issues to be considered 'romantic.'
--Is Edie Brickell still making music? Or did Paul Simon silence her?
--And, what about Beverly D'Angelo?
--Remember when Linda Evangelista said she wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000? Remember how outraged people were?
--I listened to a great podcast on early Hollywood on a long drive south last week. Called You Must Remember This, we binged the Joan Crawford episodes. Fascinating.
--Is it true that Janine Garofolo is asexual?
--Someone last week wrote to me about my lists, telling me they thought of me when, as they sat in their car, worrying about Sinead O'Connor, they wondered who else would care about this? She realized: I WOULD CARE! And, I do. In fact, Sinead, in particular, is someone I think about a lot. Her music has made such a huge impact on my life, beginning with the Lion and the Cobra, through Universal Mother and beyond. What an extraordinary artist. What a suffering soul. I've been listening to a great meditation lately that begins by saying we must give thanks for our suffering so that we may know gratitude. I'm not sure about that but I try...I do give thanks, especially for those who've made my life richer. And to those who manage, with their suffering, to still make something extraordinary with their life--HUGE thanks. Here's to Sinead, wherever she might be today. May she know peace.
Random, perhaps embarrassing thoughts, insights and opinions relating mostly to popular culture vol. 5
--I suppose I'm late to the game but I love St. Vincent.
--I don't like the phrase 'late to the game.'
--I love games but am not a fan of organized sports, however this has nothing to do with my dislike of the phrase, 'late to the game.'
--If you discover the work of an artist at any time, and their work moves or inspires you, how can that ever be late?
--However, trends are real and tastes are, too.
--I love the word conundrum.
--St. Vincent's album with David Byrne is brilliant.
--David Byrne is a refreshing example of a popular artist with integrity and expansive creativity.
--I've been listening to a LOT of Sade.
--Back in the day, I would have said, "I worship Sade."
--Some people pronounce her name: Shar Day. This is incorrect and I judge whoever does this.
--I've been listening to meditations to be more compassionate. They work. However I'm still judgemental.
--Someone publicly wondered why Beyonce didn't seem to be able to use her own message of female empowerment in her own life and relationships with men.
--Solange certainly made her mark last year. I love that album.
--I read an article that Bruno Mars couldn't be appropriating Black culture because he's part Puerto Rican.
--The idea of appropriation gets all slippery when you think about art and popular culture.
--Broadchurch is a delicious TV show.
--Humans are fascinated with death stories.
--I enjoyed the parade of powerful women at the Oscars.
--Sherman Alexie has been accused of sexual harassment/misconduct and a friend of mine who's a huge fan says she's giving all of his books away because of this.
--I'm reading an old spy novel and one of the conceits is a character who's a known 'pansy'--therefore corruptible and morally suspect. It's odious. Reading this reminded me that there are new anti-gay marriage laws being introduced in the legislature. What does this mean for folks like my husband and me, who got married in September of last year and wore flowers in our hair, like real fairies? I suppose in another era we would have been called pansies and considered morally suspect. What we really want is beauty and truth and to live lives of meaning, like most people. What's so wrong with a pansy, anyway?
--With all of the advances in EVERYTHING, why does hair in film still pose such a problem? We can see the cheap dye, the bad wig--stop it.
--I haven't watched a soap opera in years but I wonder if it's still common practice for a VO to come on to announce a change in casting for a well known character? "The role of Angela will now be played by..."
--Is "Hack!" the worst insult you can fling at an artist?
--I'd kill for one of Judi Dench’s pieces of vulgar embroidery.
--Does Aretha Franklin work out?
--I'm enjoying the latest wave of pop musicians creating names/personae for themselves: St. Vincent, Sia.
--A friend turned me on to a Korean rapper/pop star named CL and I love her.
--I'm troubled by the number of commercials, and the details of them, I remember from my youth.
--What is Sheena Easton doing now?
--I get the impression that Hall and Oates barely tolerate each other.
--Do all country music stars long to go mainstream?
--When is the last time we had a dance craze, the Macarena?
--I think someone should start a non-profit called Piano in the Parlor, designed to bring the family piano back to prominence.
--I'd like to see a musical featuring the lesser known siblings of famous stars: Lorna Luft, Crystal Gayle, Stella Parton.,
--I'm just now realizing what a HUGE influence the B-52s have had on my life.
--I wonder about bands with no article before their name, do they know that people will mostly get it wrong for eternity?: Eurythmics, Smashing Pumpkins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Random, perhaps embarrassing, thoughts, updates and opinions relating mostly to popular culture. Volume 3.
--Will there be a Nancy Kerrigan movie? Will anyone care?
--The other day at the gym I heard the Isley Brothers’ Fight the Power and thought: Is this the best funk song ever?
--Chaka Kahn’s is one of my favorite voices.
--I also love Boz Scaggs.
--Remember years back when Mary J. Blige came out at the Grammys in that gold dress?
--I can't remember the last time I watched the Grammys.
--I used to be so snobby about Whitney Houston (that’s not soul music!) and now I pretty much love her.
--Why do so many women’s TV shows rely on an ensemble of 4? (Golden Girls, Girls, Sex in the City, Hot in Philly.)
--I like the idea that de Kooning’s later paintings were made and/or finished by his wife, Elaine de Kooning.
--Did Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner paint together?
--I saw Iman in our small local market once—she had bed head.
--I once ran into Uma Thurman at a gas station on the Palisades parkway; she was taller than me.
--Last fall, I stood with Susan Sarandon at MoMA, looking at a Louise Bourgoise sculpture. We chatted briefly, but I resisted telling her she saved my life once at a traffic light in the East Village.
--My husband saw Beyonce at ABC Carpet and Home one Christmas Eve, plopped down on an Indonesian bench, surrounded by dozens of shopping bags, while her mother negotiated with a salesperson.
--This may be limiting, but Angela Bassett should always play queens.
--I loved Black Panther, now wouldn’t it be great if there were a movie just about all of those women?
--Susan Somers refers to herself as an entrepreneur.
--I am out of the loop on Young People’s Music.
--I adore Janelle Monae.
--I have made one Snapchat post.
--I bought a cd from a musician whose work I didn’t know and it’s completely wonderful.*
--I think I want more people to paint their houses in bright colors but then, when I see a brightly colored house, it often looks wrong.
--Reading The Color Purple changed my life when I was 17.
--Is Steven Spielberg a good director?
--I really want Meryl Streep to take more risks.
--I regularly create potential new drag personae. My latest is: Divinity Fudge.
Why do people not finish things? So many reasons.
What I am making is no good.
It's too late. (That's a biggie.)
I haven't looked at it in too long.
It's a dumb idea.
Who cares what I think?
What do I have to say?
Does the world really need another [fill in the blank.]
I just had another weekend workshop, this time in Kingston, NY--first time teaching at Sari' Bottons' Kingston Writer's Studio. Really great group of people, wonderful writers. I am lucky in that I get really great people in my workshops. Anyway, over and over this idea comes up: I can't finish! It wears many guises (see above.) BUT, it all boils down to not being able to show up for ourselves and our creative work.
Look, there are so many reasons to not finish, hell, there are millions of reasons to not even start. BUT, here's the thing: there are TONS of reasons to begin, to endure and to see something through. Most of those involve focusing on our own needs and dreams and wants. This is why it's so hard to finish. The world demands our attention. It wants us to be nice. To play along. To say YES to things we may not really want to do but we feel obligated. We get told we shouldn't say certain things or want certain things. But, inside of each of us is another voice, perhaps quieter, saying DO IT, MAKE IT, RISK IT. It whispers over and over again, do the thing you want to do with your life. NO MATTER WHAT. It doesn't matter what becomes of it, or what people think of it-=-what matters is that you do it. No one else can. And, really do it--meaning, finish it.