Quote of the Day: Guy Trebay on the Significance of the Sequined Glove

It was impossible to look away from him  —  not when he was a dimpled child singer crowned with a pillowy Afro, not when he became a pop demigod uniformed in rhinestones and epaulets to command what were always referred to as his armies of fans, and not when his surgical transformations mirrored back to the culture the blurring of boundaries demarcarting adulthood, sex, and even race.

There was no way to know what was on Michael Jackson’s mind as he journeyed from boy to man and partway back, from a brown-skinned man to one so pale he required an umbrella when he went out in the sun, and from a pop star with a quirky but defined masculinity to one who seemed most comfortable in a more nebulous zones.  What seemed clear is that all of it was considered.  All of it was intentional.

More than almost any entertainer in memory, Michael Jackson was entirely of show business.

— Guy Trebay, The New York Times, Sunday 28 June 2009

Self Missed All Kinds of Hot-ness

While self was in the Village yesterday, getting all kinds of lost on the hunt for the Cornelia Street Café and witnessing all manner of ass-grabbing craziness (“Hey, buddy, it’s Gay Pride Day and you’re in the Village!”  This uttered after a young man, strolling along with his girlfriend, had his butt grabbed by a bunch of somewhat drunken revelers and protested, “I’m straight!”), self completely missed seeing the following celebrities:

  • Johnny Depp, who was creating mayhem in an Italian restaurant in the Village
  • Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford, who were filming “Morning Glory” in lower Manhattan

Self spent every day of this trip in the Village or lower Manhattan.  Couldn’t she have bumped into someone famous during one of her peregrinations?

Self thought she had a Mary Louise Parker sighting, but after she asked M if  the “Weeds” star had an apartment in the Upper West Side, M said she didn’t think so.  So that probably wasn’t Mary Louise Parker in a grey mini-dress self saw yesterday, rushing to the subway on 72nd and Broadway.  It sure looked like her, but it probably wasn’t.

M’s daughter Allegra did say that Mikhail Baryshnikov used to have an apartment nearby.  But no one has seen him around in ages.  He probably looks so different now that everyone thinks they haven’t seen him, even if they really are seeing him, if you take one’s meaning.

Oh well!  At least self had one certifiable celebrity sighting:  Anne Hathaway!  On her first night here!

And she saw Wells Tower, whose New Yorker stories self loves, in the flesh!  During his reading at Solas.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned

Things Self Knows For Sure

Bernie Madoff is going to be sentenced today.

Self is going home tomorrow.

Self needs to clear the jangl-y city from her head, to prepare for California’s expansive calm.  Self is sooo looking forward to the following:

  • watching movies (“The Proposal,” “Rudo y Curso”, “My Sister’s Keeper”)
  • watching her favorite TV shows (“Burn Notice,” “The Mentalist,” “View From the Bay”)
  • gardening
  • reading (The Economist, her literary journals)
  • cooking
  • laundry
  • getting tickets for CalShakes (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”)

Hubby got tickets to Chris Botti at Davies, mid-July.

There’s the Annual Foothill Writers Conference, in less than two weeks.

There’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” opening in July.

Summer is still here —  YAY!

New York is Hawwttt!!

Self is melting.  None of the places she visited today had a working air-conditioner.  Of course, this might result in loss of pounds (sort of like the effect of a steam sauna —  all that fat gets sweated out of your pores).  Self was just thinking today, as she waited on the platform for the No. 1 train heading downtown, that she couldn’t imagine having a job like that of the Indian guy manning the magazine stand on the platform.  Two women went up to him and asked for a soda.  When he handed it over, one of them squawked:  “Damn!  This is hot!  I don’t want no hot soda!  Gimme my money back!”

Can you imagine sitting in a sweltering dungeon for 12 hours (or however long his stand remains open) at a stretch?  Smelling all that foetid air?  People’s perspiration mixed with the puddles of stagnant water between the subway tracks?  La la la!  Self is so thankful she lives in California!  Where her only contact with other human beings is at the Safeway!  Or through e-mail!

On the other hand, she has not encountered a single rude person here in New York.  Not in one whole week.  Self has said it before:  New Yorkers have to be the most patient people on earth.  They never complain if someone’s taking too long at the check-out stand, and self can’t recall even hearing anyone leaning on the horn (Of course, she did see a sign on 72nd and Broadway that said:  DON’T HONK!  $350 PENALTY!).  They love their dogs, they oblige strangers by giving them directions, and they generally exude an air of patient resignation, something along the lines of: “We’re all in this together, so quit ‘cher beefing.”

Self saw that very clearly on her very first night in the City, where everyone huddled in the narrow awnings around the Delacorte Theatre to wait for word on whether or not “Twelfth Night” would actually be performed that night.  People were sipping wine, munching on sandwiches, all huddled together in a few inches of dry ground, and no one pushed or shoved or groaned or whined.  If this were California, you can be sure there would at least be plenty of the whining.  We Californians are so spoiled.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Slightly Crazed Again

. . .  but in a good way.

Self is getting ready to walk the divine Miss H.  Self is smitten.  Yes, self is smitten with dog love for Miss H.  For her absolutely fragrant paws, for her bright red harness, and her tiny little poops that are about one-tenth the size of a beagle’s poop.  No wonder the apartment is decorated with paintings of this wondrous creature.

In the meantime, self is also obssessed with finding a place to see “The Hurt Locker,” which just opened in Manhattan (Self remembers seeing the lead actor in “28 Weeks Later”!).  The Wall Street Journal reviewed it yesterday.  The title of the review was Shock, Awe, Brilliance


The movie is about a “man who has a special relationship with bombs.  He loves the circuits that must be decoded, the detonators that must be disconnected.  He loves the challenge presented by each bomb, the chance to taunt fate and come up a winner or go up in flames; it’s the ultimate form of a gambler’s high.”

Ah, so many movies to see, so little time.  The Wall Street Journal also happens to look kindly on the following:

  • Cameron Diaz’s latest, “My Sister’s Keeper,” based on the novel by Jodi Picoult and also starring Abigail Breslin in yet another tearjerker of a role
  • “The Stoning of Soraya M”, about “a blameless young wife in an Iranian village . . .  buried to her waist in the town square and stoned to death by her fellow villagers, who’ve been misled by an unprincipled mullah . . . “

Neither of these movies are showing yet, back in Redwood City.  Self really wishes she could locate a cinema nearby, but even after a few walks with Heloise she hasn’t noticed any.  But, she knows that in New York, unless one knows where to look, one misses things, even huge things like movie theaters.  It may turn out, for example, that there’s a theater a block away, but self would have passed it without giving it a second glance.

And, lest one think that Journal reviewer is becoming “soft,” scattering positive reviews right and left like so many bon-bons, here’s a quote from the review of Michael Bay’s “Transformers 2”  :

What words of wisdom can a movie critic offer in the face of an antimovie that will give its many fans the pleasure of watching machines battling machines without the distraction of coherence or humanity?  Then a word did come to me:  Max-Lite.  It’s the brand of ear plugs I’ve found best for defense against deafening movies, and the brand I used to protect my tympanic membranes against “Revenge of the Fallen.”  If only I’d had protection for my brain.

(Whoops!  M’s daughter Allegra just walked in.  What. a. gorgeous. gal.  Legs that go on forever.  We agree on a place to have dinner tonight:  a burger place on the East Side.)

Self misses home.  She is glad that Miss H slept curled up against her side last night.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

What a Day

Can you believe Michael Jackson died ???

Self heard the news on her way home from the Village.  She was with Drew.  He got a call from a friend, and in the middle of the call he suddenly turned to self and said, “Michael Jackson just died!”

And self said, No, that’s some kind of joke!

And Drew said, No joke.

His friend had gotten 10th row seats to Jackson’s upcoming concert in London.  The tickets were a thousand each.  Drew’s friend was pretty upset.

Then, just behind us, a group of people started talking about it.  We heard one man go, “Michael Jackson just died!”

“How?” self asked Drew.  “Was it suicide?”  (Why did that thought first occur to self?  She knows not the reason, dear blog reader)

Drew said, “No, some kind of heart attack.”

Then, we passed a group of tweens, somewhere on 3rd Avenue, and they were chanting, at everyone passing, “Michael Jackson just died!  He flat-lined in the hospital!  They couldn’t revive him!”  The girls were smiling, practically giddy with excitement.  How strange was that? Only in New York, etc etc

Self parted with Drew around Astor Place.  She was walking towards St. Marks Bookshop.  Then she remembered, she used to live here.  It was 30 years ago.  She sub-let an apartment from a New York City Opera singer.  The location was 8th and 1st.  Self somehow remembered the street as being somewhat “grunge,” she remembers stepping over the prostrate bodies of drunks passed out on the sidewalk.  There was a dentist who lived on the floor below hers, but she only saw him with a patient once.  The patient was seated in an ordinary wooden chair, and the dentist had tilted it back so that he could look straight into the patient’s mouth.  There were youths with green spikey hair and safety pins in their noses draped around the cube on Astor Place.

Now, 8th street is one sushi joint after another.  Self stepped into a beauty salon to inquire how much they charged for haircuts, and they said, $50.  How the street has changed!

Self was glad she went to the reading, for aside from the fact that Wells Tower has a real knack for describing gross-out scenes, she got to listen to a writer whose work she is unfamiliar with, Fiona Maazel.  And that writer just bowled her over.  Her piece was from a novel-in-progress, and the whole thing involved gerontophilia and even a mention of self’s beloved Spock (as in “Hello, I am Spock, I have no human feelings!” end quote.  Can you believe the coincidence, dear blog readers?  Spock is everywhere!  Self even expected Zach Quinto to pop up in the audience!)

After the reading, self hailed a cab and went directly home.  To prepare for yet another day of exciting and improbable occurrences.

Stay tuned.

9 p.m., Upper West Side

It rained — no, poured — this afternoon, and self got to watch the whole thing from the window of a friend’s place in the Village. Then, just as she headed out to go back home, it stopped (luck, and yet more luck). And the world was born anew. And everything smelled so fresh. And self saw the Angelika Movie Theater across the street begin to fill up, and she got a cab the minute she stuck an arm out, and she went to a restaurant called Fatty Crab to meet her nephew (he walked straight across Central Park and it only took him 20 minutes), and had “fatty duck” and beef rendang and something called “sliders” that turned out to be mini-hamburgers, and while self was walking home, somewhere on 73rd, her phone rang and it was Penny calling from Ohio, from the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and she told self that she was having a fabulous time, she was having to write a story a day but loving it.

And wasn’t that the darndest thing about the South Carolina governor, who said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail and ended up being in Argentina, and wouldn’t you think politicians would know by now, especially after witnessing Eliot Spitzer’s flame-out, but people will never learn, or maybe it’s just that he was really in love and it made him crazy, who knows.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

In a Tower

In a tower, self feels she is in a tower. The radio hums a meaningless drone, Heloise sleeps on her little pillow. Far below is the hum of traffic and the occasional siren. The schoolchildren in the classroom in the next building are silent today.

Yesterday, dinner with a cousin on East 40th street. The subway train from Bleecker to Grand Central had a functioning airconditioner, thank God. The crowds spilled out on 42nd Street, self’s feet ached from all the walking.

But it has not rained! Not since the night of her arrival. Everyone talks about it, though: they all say it rained terribly last week, or a few days ago, or even just before self arrived. Thunderstorms! Lightning! It all sounds terribly dramatic and exciting.

From California drift echoes: Son is always out! But that’s what young men do, isn’t it? They go out. Hubby is always at work. But we’re lucky, aren’t we? That he has work?

Self reads yesterday’s New York Times. Ex-tennis champion Yannick Noah apparently now has a thriving musical career (and, judging from the evidence of the accompanying picture, still looks good). M says that Read the rest of this entry »

Impressions of a City

Last night, there was the walk in Central Park in the rain, the man playing the bagpipes, and Anne Hathaway in the flesh, speaking in her gentlest voice and addressing the huddled audience to let them know she shared their disappointment that she would not be performing that night.

This morning, perusing the Wall Street Journal, self learns that there are exhibits of Giacometti, Cézanne, Delacroix, Lichtenstein, all within a few blocks of Mercer and Houston, where self is headed this morning. Somewhere is a dog named Heloise, making her silent presence felt throughout the apartment. Early this morning, self is almost sure Heloise crawled into bed next to her. When she awoke, at 10 a.m. (She’d fallen asleep at 3 or thereabouts) her right arm enclosed a hollow on the bed, which felt warm.

Her friend was already at yoga class. Children’s voices floated over from the next building, probably a school. The children recited in unison, and now and then a male voice, loud, would interrupt, give instruction. At one point, a whole chorus of dogs set to barking, and Heloise barked, too: bark, bark, bark. There is a whole world up here, on the 12th floor.

Friend showed self how to make coffee. The grounds were from a place called The Sensuous Bean. Self also had a scrumptious strawberry scone to go with the coffee. Her friend told her the scone came from a bakery on 73rd and Amsterdam.

How wonderful to live up so high, to be so removed from the busy, busy world below.

Luis Francia is reading at the Cornelia Street Café this Sunday, June 28:

29 Cornelia Street in the West Village
6 p.m. All are welcome.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Momentous, Stupendous

Oh dear blog readers, self has had a most momentous day, for this morning she was in Redwood City, and this evening she is on New York’s Upper West Side, and she has already spent several hours standing bedraggled in the rain in Central Park, awaiting a performance of “Twelfth Night.” Many many people were standing about, and there was a man in a kilt playing bagpipes at the last curve in the road just before the Delacorte Theatre (And — geez! It is just super-hot and muggy here in New York! And trash day is tomorrow so the sidewalks are real obstacle courses, with mountainous piles of garbage bags that totally dwarf passers-by!)

Even though the performance was rained out, self did get to see Anne Hathaway in the flesh, who came out to thank everyone for coming but who said that circumstances beyond her control actually prevented her from performing.

Self was with old high school chum Minette, who said that the guy standing next to Anne was cute. Unfortunately, self saw nothing of him except a rather shapely pair of legs in stockings or whatever you call those tight-fitting English pants that go into riding boots. Are those called leggings?

Anyhoo, it’s been a most stupendous, eventful day. Thank God self steeled herself from buying any fastfood in the airport in Minneapolis. That would have really made her feel awful. And all she had on the plane were three miniscule bags of roasted peanuts to go with the complimentary drinks. But self did get into an interesting conversation with the girl sitting next to her, who happened to be reading Ha Jin’s “War Trash,” and self was so nosy she actually leaned over and asked her, “Do you like that book?” Because, for the life of her, self couldn’t see the attraction of so many Amazon readers to this particular book, though it did have that by now almost de riguer detached, ironic, semi-documentary style of narration … OK, self, now you’ve totally lost yourself again in the thickets of a digression.

And the pilot, who perhaps was not as skilled as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, had to make two passes at the runway. First self felt the plane descend, and then she popped two squares of peppermint sugar-free gum into her mouth, and then, just as she had practically chewed all the flavor out of the gum, the plane gave a great groan and she felt it ascending again, and then the captain went on the speaker to apologize and say that there had been a plane lined up in front of them, and the traffic control tower had thought there should be more separation between them for the landing, or whatever. Oh, what a relief! Self thought a Canada goose had gotten into one of the engines. But then self had to keep chewing that gum for 15 more minutes, because she didn’t feel like spitting it out and wasting two new squares.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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