sam cooke's voice kills me every single time. "chain gang" must be one of the saddest, most beautiful songs in this great big universe- the way he sings "give me water, i'm thirsty" gives me shivers. his is the kind of voice which can transport you completely, in just seconds, and all of a sudden everything is sepia toned & bittersweet & you are wearing a circle skirt.
i've been taken with willa cather's concept of the prairie/land for some time, though i've never actually gotten to visit these places she describes. no one can write the land quite like cather (that i've yet some across- please make a suggestion if you have one); reading o pioneers! was the first book i ever read where i really felt like the land was a character in the novel, a presence so strong and consuming it made me all teary.
"As I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country, as the water is the sea. The red of the grass made all the great prairie the colour of wine-stains, or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed up. And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running." -from my antonia
"...because he felt that men were too weak to make any mark here, that the land wanted to be let alone, to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar, savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness." -from o pioneers!
"The heart, when it is too much alive, aches for that brown earth..." -from o pioneers!
"Do you think they've left a breath of 1860 here? This has become a thing of 1914."
"Don't you want to preserve old things?"
"But you can't, Anthony. Beautiful things grow to a certain height and then they fail and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay. And just as any period decays in our minds, the things of that period should decay too...Sleepy Hollow's gone; Washington Irving's dead and his books are rotting in our estimation year by year- then let the graveyard rot too, as it should, as all things should. Trying to preserve a century by keeping its relics up to date is like keeping a dying man alive by stimulants."
"So you think that just as time goes to pieces its houses ought to go too?"
"Of course!...It's because I love the past that I want this house to look back on its glamorous moment of youth and beauty, and I want its stairs to creak as if to the footsteps of women with hoop skirts and men in boots and spurs. But they've made it into a blondined, rouged-up old woman of sixty. It hasn't any right to look so prosperous...I want it to smell of magnolia instead od peanuts and I want my shoes to crunch on the same gravel that Lee's boots crunched on. There's no beauty without poignancy and there's no poignancy without the feeling that it's going, men, names, books, houses- bound for dust- mortal-"
-from f scott fitzgerald's the beautiful and the damned
"My best hypothesis is that Satan found some of God’s original DNA blueprint from the unicorn skeletons (original unicorns were pure and horselike, but drowned in the flood) buried deep in the terror regions, then used that DNA to genetically evolve sin right into the forehead of the unicorn people, to create a new magical master class of humans." -from christwire.org
last night i went to see alice walker speak as part of san francisco's city arts & lectures program. she said many interesting and wonderful things, but my favorite was when she spoke about supporting small presses. she mentioned that she'd already published with many big houses, but was currently looking into putting out books with smaller presses because she wanted to support that realm as well. this is something i'd love to see more big-name writers do- if you have the success and money to not have to sweat it, why not publish with a small press whose work you admire and wish to see furthered? heck yes!
another activity i did yesterday was read sarah silverman's the bedwetter, her just released memoir. i get that you are either are or aren't a fan of her comedy; i happen to find her not only hilarious, but also totally right on, smart and interesting in the way she creates discomfort in her audiences. here is a clip of sarah (from the film the aristocrats ) that i love; it's a good example of her humor, i think, and the way she uses performance to dismantle traditional comedy and lock her audience between a rock (laughter) and a hard place (sadness, fear, disgust):
tonight i re-watched one of my favorite movies, jennifer's body, as i'm writing a paper on it for a class. have you seen it yet? it is not actually the silly horror film it was marketed as. instead it is a smart, hilarious, feminist, brutally sad story about the intense/often parasitic relationships between teenage girls, survival (of trauma, high school, life). i've never met a movie that made me feel so happy and so, so sad all at once. anyhow, i also like the psa posted above, which comes on the unrated dvd of the film. and take note: this movie is a horrorcomedy written by (diablo cody), directed by (karyn kusama) and starring (megan fox & amanda seyfried) women. it is about women. men are on the periphery. this is one of our stories. ***
what i've been reading:
the relationship between patti smith and robert mapplethorpe is so sweet and encouraging. their love is constantly shifting in nature but never in intensity, and their artistic support of each other is the stuff dreams are made of. also, lots of good stories about the chelsea hotel and rock stars and poets and artists of all sorts.
this book is stuffed to the brim with very, very, VERY excellent poetry and visual art. do you like poems that feed on your drippy intestines and then work their way up to your heart with the same dirty teeth they used to dessicate your guts, getting it all infected and glowing and inspired? get this book.
becca can write the shit out of a poem, and is also one of the editors/co-founders of switchback books, who publish wonderful tomes of poems by women. it is not so often that i love an entire collection of poetry but this one is stellar.
i've actually not yet begun anne carson's nox but just looking at it makes me feel excited. it is an accordian book made of collages and text housed in a beautiful box. and it's anne carson.
this is the perfect outfit to dance in to bow wow wow. perfect outfit by jeremy scott.
things i've been reading, and so have been turning the cogs in my brain in pleasing ways: -pride & prejudice by jane austen -the redneck way of knowledge by blanche mccrary boyd -the new issue of lula -bellocq's ophelia by natasha trethewey
here is a poem from bellocq's ophelia that i really do love (the last lines gives me shivers down my spine):
-from a photograph by E.J. Bellocq, circa 1912
They pose the portrait outside the brothel- Bellocq's black scrim, a chair for her to sit on. She wears white, a rhinestone choker, fur, her dark crown of hair- an elegant image, one she might send to her mother. Perhaps the others crowd in behind Bellocq, awaiting their turns, tremors of laughter in their white throats. Maybe Bellocq chats, just a little, to put her at ease while he waits for the right moment, a look on her face to keep in a gilded frame, the ornate box he'll put her in. Suppose he tells her about a circus coming to town- monkeys and organ music, the high trapeze- but then
she's no longer listening; she's forgotten he's there. Instead she must be thinking of her childhood wonder at seeing the contortionist in a sideshow- how he could make himself small, fit into cramped spaces, his lungs barely expanding with each tiny breath. She thinks of her own shallow breath- her back straining the stays of a bustier, the weight of a body pressing her down. Picture her face now as she realizes that it must have been harder every year, that the contortionist, too, must have ached each night in his tent. This is how Bellocq takes her, her brow furrowed as she looks out to the left, past all of them. Imagine her a moment later- after the flash, blinded- stepping out of the frame, wide-eyed, into her life.
guess who's going to wiscon (the annual feminist scifi conference in madison, wi) to be part of a panel on lady gaga? me! in preparation i plan on watching (while taking notes) tons and tons of gaga interviews. thankfully there are quite a few on youtube; below i am posting one of my favorites. it's quite lengthy (5 parts) & interesting. i like when she describes her form of sexuality/sexiness as "bossy."
Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman is one of my favorite novels, never mind that it's a YA book! It's smart, funny, feminist and sweet; I re-read it about once a year. Opening excerpts below:
12TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say.
13TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER My father must suffer from ale head this day, for he cracked me twice before dinner instead of once. I hope his angry liver bursts.
14TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Tangled my spinning again. Corpus bones, what a torture.
15TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Today the sun shone and the villagers sowed hay, gathered apples, and pulled fish from the stream. 1, trapped inside, spent two hours embroidering a cloth for the church and three hours picking out my stitches after my mother saw it. I wish I were a villager.
16TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Spinning. Tangled.
17TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Untangled.
18TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER If my brother Edward thinks that writing this account of my days will help me grow less childish and more learned, he will have to write it. I will do this no longer. And I will not spin. And I will not eat. Less childish indeed.
19TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER I am delivered! My mother and I have made a bargain. I may forgo spinning as long as I write this account for Edward. My mother is not much for writing but has it in her heart to please Edward, especially now he is gone to be a monk, and I would do worse things to escape the foolish boredom of spinning. So I will write.
What follows will be my book-the book of Catherine, called Little Bird or Birdy, daughter of Rollo and the lady Aislinn, sister to Thomas, Edward, and the abominable Robert, of the village of Stonebridge in the shire of Lincoln, in the country of England, in the hands of God. Begun this 19th day of September in the year of Our Lord 1290, the fourteenth year of my life. The skins are my father's, left over from the household accounts, and the ink also. The writing I learned of my brother Edward, but the words are my own.
Picked off twenty-nine fleas today.
20TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Today I chased a rat about the hall with a broom and set the broom afire, ruined my embroidery, threw it in the privy, ate too much for dinner, hid in the barn and sulked, teased the littlest kitchen boy until he cried, turned the mattresses, took the linen outside for airing, hid from Morwenna and her endless chores, ate supper, brought in the forgotten linen now wet with dew, endured scolding and slapping from Morwenna, pinched Perkin, and went to bed. And having writ this, Edward, I feel no less childish or more learned than I was.
21ST DAY OF SEPTEMBER Something is astir. I can feel my father's eyes following me about the hall, regarding me as he would a new warhorse or a bull bought for breeding. I am surprised that he has not asked to examine my hooves.
* * *
Miu Miu has long been a favorite fashion line of mine- I often prefer it to its big sister line, Prada, because it's so much more playful. The past 2 collections have REALLY got my heart thrumming- I especially love how Spring '09 was styled, with the super thick, long Rapunzel braids. They seem to me the perfect literary-type lady outfits (for me):
whilst waiting for new website to unleash itself birds of lace has acquired an etsy shop. if you visit it you will see that you can now purchase the newest issue of finery (featuring Traci Brimhall, Becca Klaver, Juliet Cook, Robin Crane, Nicolle Elizabeth, Christine Emmert, Ashley Lunsford, Christine Vi-Van Nguyen, Sergio Oritz, Vanessa Query, Michelle Wolfie Rodriguez and Paige Taggart & a CD of music by Bangs of Hunger) as well as christine vi-van nguyen's chapbook blood and jasmine when i dreamed her. ta da!
You must let me go first, Sue, because I live in the Sea always and know the Road- I would have drowned twice to save you sinking, dear, If I could only have covered your Eyes so you would'nt have seen the Water-
Sweet Sue, There is no first, or last, in Forever- It is Centre, there, all the time- To believe- is enough, and the right of supposing- Take back that "Bee" and "Buttercup"- i have no Field for them, though for the Woman whom I prefer, Here is Festival- When my Hands are Cut, Her fingers will be found inside- Out beautiful Neigh- bor "moved" in May- It leaves an Unimportance. Take the Key to the Lily, now, and I will lock the Rose-
Title divine, is mine. The Wife without the Sign- Acute Degree Conferred on Me- Empress of Cavalry- Royal, all but the Crown- Betrothed, without the Swoon God gives us Women- When You hold Garnet to Garnet- Gold- to Gold- Born- Bridalled- Shrouded- In a Day- Tri Victory- "My Husband"- Women say Stroking the Melody- Is this the Way-
"I gathered something for you, because you were not there, an acorn, and some moss blossoms, and a little shell of a snail, so whitened by the snow you would think 'twas a cunning artist had carved it from alabaster- then i tied them all up in a leaf with some last summer's grass I found by the brookside, and I'm keeping them all for you...You speak to me of sorrow, of what you have 'lost and loved,' say rather, of what you have loved and won, for it is much, dear Susie; I can count the big, true hearts by clusters, full of bloom, and bloom amaranthine, because eternal!"
Jeremy Scott's new Flinstones-inspired collection:
This ultra-gay sweater by Sonia Rykel:
"You and Me, Bess" by Joanna Newsom:
Hips Lips Tits Power:
a genius snippet from the interview:
Björk: Are you being sued as well?
Polly: Yea, I’m being sued at the moment. It’s really horrible.
(this is the opening for her current tour, & also my favorite Gaga song to date. I remember being at her show in December & going TOTALLY BANANAS while all this was happening, dancing my hotpants off. i'm a free bitch baby. also of interest to those interested in gaga: gaga stigmata, a new online journal of critical/artistic responses to Gaga & her work.)