March Madness & the cinematic soul mate

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Film Festival recap time! No time like the present am I right my friends? Why, yes, thank you for noticing, it is April, and the film festival closed March…11th. Seriously though. What happened to the other half of March? Is this what everyone means by March Madness? Talk about a time warp. It’s like I came home that Saturday night, kicked off my shoes, took a jump to the left, step to the right, and then suddenly it’s April Fools Day. What is this, a joke?

Now that I look back, I really should have taken better notes in order to appropriately capture the immediate responses to the films and events. As per usual it’s a whirlwind of wine, films, cheese and conversation. And so, I present my disjointed, disordered recollection of events.

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Perhaps for you, the thrill of those ten days are long gone. Just dim memories of dark theatres. Or maybe you found a film or two or ten that was like a finding long-time friend or a cinematic soul mate.  Running the gamut of emotion. Feeling all the feels. Welcome to my happy place. Losing yourself in a story and finding your way back by  the film’s end. Witnessing stories unfold, watching characters develop. Love blossoming, bonds breaking. Reunions and departures. Sacrifices and losses. Successes and victories; all the things that lift us up and tear us down. Some films were based on true stories, and while others were works of fiction, the tales still tend to hold a mirror up to our faces. What a privilege to be a part of that shared experience;  to grateful and ashamed for the human condition in it’s entirety. All that empathy, community, catharsis and buttery popcorn…what else in life does anyone need? 

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Over ten days, I caught 15 movies. I ugly cried four times, napped three times, abandoned one movie (ahem, Toni Erdmann) and–more times than I could count–laughed until nearly crying and vice versa. I lost sleep, danced, drank wine. I wore sequins, high heels and red lipstick. Each night I’d nestle in my standard seat with my Frida Kahlo bag filled with blankets, tissues, and other goodies and necessities. Each night I’d feel like all was well with the world.  

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My dear friend and Events co-chair Tanya and I spent a little  quality time at Hotel 540’s Blue. We enjoyed a lot of Privato Pinot Noir, (doing our part for the Flavors & Flicks initiative). We had a glorious brunch and a multitude of mimosas on a snowy Sunday.  Champagne buzzed and hollandaise high, we watched Window Horses, a trippy little cartoon about a young Canadian poet who travels to Iran to perform at a poetry festival.

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That same day, before I, Daniel Blake, we wandered over to PDK café for lattes and donuts with Kirsten Carthew, the filmmaker of The Sun at Midnight. 

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Quick note: congratulations to I, Daniel Blake—for being the first movie of the #KFF2017 lineup to make me ugly cry. It was a real face contorting, heart breaking kind of film.  Following that film, we strolled over to the Noble Pig for ciders and comfort food.

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Though KFF 2017 was drama heavy, there were moments of levity; The Space Between was incredibly heartfelt and good-humored, as was The Grand Unified Theory.

Nothing made me squirm in my seat more than Mean Dreams.  In fact, the Mean Dreams/Land of Mine double feature was a rather intense evening all in all. The Brewing Discussion at Red Collar was cozy, and I was laughing hysterically with my friend Sam on the way back to the Paramount. Suddenly it was young men dismantling landmines in a post-World War II landscape. Within the first few minutes the Commander head-butts someone in the face, which really takes the edge off the hilarity from the walk over.

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After that double feature, the most emotionally impactful evening was Angry Indian Goddesses and Maudie. That was a back-to-back sob-fest. Goddesses‘ preview really leads you to believe that it’s a buddy comedy, and while it is….it really isn’t. Regardless, it was the kind of unexpectedly devastating movies that requires you to just hang out in your seat until the theatre clears up a little. Maudie was equally as dehydrating, a sweet little love story about a most unlikely couple. A despite-the-odds tale about artistic expression. (And the #KFF2017 Audience Favorite!) 

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Weirdos was very nostalgic and sweet. Paterson, while so lovely, it was also like a shot morphine.  Admittedly, I took a little snooze during that one. All those scenes of sleeping and beds only served to augment my exhaustion. I j’adored Ville-Marie. The film within a film was an emotional intersection of humanity at it’s most raw and vulnerable. Monica Belluci’s emotional undoing is a revelation.

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Note, all these years I’ve been said “Monica Bella-lucci” and when filming videos for the festival, Sam, friend and videographer, said “Um no. It’s Bell-uci.” “Oh. Really?” “Yes, really.”  “Well…I prefer Bellalucci.”

After the film ended, I wandered out into the streets, feeling like a chic yet maudlin Montrealer in my green peacoat. Over a solo lunch, sighing deeply while staring out the window of a sushi restaurant watching the snow fall, feeling beautifully blue.

Once the last film credits had rolled, I got a little lump in my throat. It was partly related to 20th Century Women, but as always, it’s that end of an era feeling. The closing of another festival year. There’s so much time spent preparing for it, and suddenly it’s just like popcorn  and discarded ticket stubs on the floor.

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Then, of course, is the party, so you just shirk off your sentimentally for the moment. Chatting all things films, events, and special guests with other partygoers; gin and red carpet photos and shaking it like a polaroid picture on the dance floor. What a way to celebrate another season with all the fabulous film festival folk that helped make such a magical time happen.

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For more information about Kamloops Film Festival refer to the website or follow the link for a detailed account of the #KFF2017 

Photos courtesy of Alicia Ashcroft, Jen Randall Dustin, Robin Phelan & Chris Warner.

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Pinot Noir, Popcorn & Piles of Laundry

The 2016 Kamloops Film Festival has come and gone. Le sigh. There’s so much work and momentum leading up to these all-consuming cluster of events–it’s a whirlwind of film, food and friends–full on red carpet and red wine. So. many. outfits.  Suddenly it’s two weeks later, and you’re alone in your office,  wearing a battered old pink bathrobe on Easter Monday, trying to remember every detail for the #KFF2016 review.

For me, the festival is such a fabulous time of year. I tend to immerse myself in all social aspects of the KFF. I clear my schedule, I rearrange my life, I forsake sleep.  I wind up at the Commodore at 1am, dancing like nobody is watching.  It’s like a holiday in my hometown; a fantastic social explosion. Drinking wine and grabbing meals with other committee members and festival goers. The awesome conversations that transpire in between all those film–the tears, the laughter, loads of red lipstick–pure bliss.

This year being my third, I was able to truly organize myself in a way that made the rest of my life seem perfectly manageable. I had learned a thing or two since the first year.  (See: White Girl Wasted– https://pinuppickspenup.com/2014/03/21/white-girl-wasted/). The morning of A Night with Oscar, I spent some quality time in my closet, selecting a variety of outfits to be worn throughout the entire festival. That’s a highly recommended KFF survival tip, put together ten to fifteen fabulous, and that’s one less thing to worry about. Time is tight, life is short, and you never want to be left wondering what to wear at the last minute.

In fact, I received a impromptu invitation to grab a quick Pinot before watching Holocaust drama Son of Saul. Fugitives running from the law have not moved as fast as I; out of my dog walking clothes, and into a preplanned ensemble, out the door, and drinking wine at Blue with my good buddy Tanya within twenty minutes. That was a real proud moment for me. Organization is key to drinking fabulously!

How those carefully selected pieces gathered height and momentum as they began to pile up over the edge of the bathtub as the festival progressed. Like fabric clockwork expressing the passing of time. Laundry can wait-life is happening right now! Although, the whole devil- may-care approach is super charming when you live alone, but if one has to be a considerate human being to spouses and flatmates. It’s nice to take a quick second to do something considerate and helpful before buggering off…again. Another fun life hack, do a whole bunch of nice things before the film festival begins, and then, make it up to them on the other side of those ten days. Better yet, bring them to a movie, and make it rain at the concession stand that’ll also do the trick.

The first order of business following the festival; besides sleeping, slothing and sorting through enormous piles of laundry–was to sit down for a lengthy lunch with Dušan Magdolen, the KFF Chair and long time friend. I adore Mr. Magdolen, we met a million years ago and our first conversation was about movies.  I saw him after years away overseas, and we talked about movies. His invitation to participate in the planning of the film festival was a total no-brainer. Naturally, it’s completely necessary to discuss all the films together over hot cups of tea.

In the end, I saw sixteen out of the twenty films. As promised, I ditched Darkfest, but did feel a teeny bit of frightful FOMO–especially The Witch, which is ridiculous, in no way do I cope well with scary films.  Due to such high numbers on opening night–they had to open another theatre!-members of the Events team skipped Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World to prepare for the Q&A and the Mingle & Jazz that followed the documentary.  This film was eventually voted ‘favorite’ out of the twenty;  it was a shame to have missed it. Ultimately, it was the best call for the committee members to check on everything one last time, before tucking into delicious appetizers and Pinot Noir at Hotel 540 with our lovely entertainer Cathi Marshall.

The first film I saw wound up being my favorite.  Mustang was a truly powerful story. The last twenty minutes was agonizing. Stressful, thrilling, and perfectly gripping. I sobbed out of sheer relief for the characters by the end.  In fact, I kind of had to lurk in my seat as the credits rolled and audience members milled out of the Paramount. Once feeling composed, I made an attempt to leave, and then wound up jabbering incoherently and tearfully in front of another committee member. Sheesh. Maybe just sit this one out–and avoid eye contact as you hustle off to the car.

I powered through all four films on the first Saturday; which wound up being a day of catharsis. Three out of four films made me cry–including the children’s film Snowtime, which wound up being a total anti-war film.  The child I brought leaned over, “I think something bad is going to happen”–I consoled her, “everything is going to be just fine”, and then something bad happens–to a dog no less. Introducing crying jag #1. Sushi at Sanbiki, and the next movie with my parents.  I love me some Maggie Smith, as did my folks and the rest of Kamloops.  The Lady in the Van had the most audience members, which was perfect, as it was also our Film for a Cause–with the Kamloops Food Bank collecting items at the door.

Following dinner at the Noble Pig; (one of my #KFF2016 haunts) I returned to the Paramount for James White and Youth.  James White was a truly devastating film–and won the Ugly Cry Award for me this year.

Other committee members were quite drained after that film, and decided to call it a night. I felt I had to cleanse the palate a wee bit, end the day on any other note. Youth was beautiful, sensual, life affirming, and quite touching. Jane Fonda shows up at the end and devours her scene. A main character commits suicide, and it’s completely unexpected,  and once again I blubber like a baby in the darkness.

Nothing like a Sunday matinee, except I found Victoria to be a bit of a challenge, and gave me motion sickness. It was a really fantastic production, nearly two and a half hours in one continuous shot, but all the jerky camera movements made me rather queasy.  I briefly entertained the thought of leaving, but managed to hang in there for the length of the movie.

No Men Beyond this Point was my favorite comedy of the season; the actors Patrick Gilmore, Kristine Cofsky and Tara Pratt were delightful during their Q&A. Gilmore and Pratt joined committee members at the Noble Pig, and more Pinot was enjoyed. Who needs sleep??

Born to be Blue and wine with my friend Trish, and My Good Man’s Gone with members of the KFF team. A Q&A with actor Robert Baker, and writer Nick Citton. More wine at the Noble Pig.

A Royal Night Out was another favorite; light, frothy, historically grounded. A simply delightful cinematic experience –Brewing Discussion at Red Collar to follow.

Before Macbeth, Mittz Kitchen with Benjamin for lamb and risotto. Met my brother and his girlfriend for the film.

Macbeth was a really beautiful yet severe picture. Made worse by the man sitting a row ahead of us, shaking a mammoth cup of ice before munching on it during the quietist parts of the movie. It was infuriating to the point of hilarious, and being overtired, it gave me the giggles, and I had to leave the cinema. I came back and Lady Macbeth was dead. Perhaps she died from all that infernal ice crunching, who’s to say?  Wine-ing Discussion at Hotel 540 afterwards, made the humbling mistake of approaching former TRU professor Connie Brim, and exposing just how long ago I studied Shakespeare. The table collectively exchanged notes about acts and scenes that were cut or altered, speeches that were shortened, changes to classic characterization. And me, like a deer in the headlights–totally not remembering much about the play, and thusly having little to contribute. When in doubt just say…”Does…everyone like…wine?”, and then back away slowly, and read the Macbeth synopsis on your phone.

(This is the actual moment being captured by photographer Jen Randall Dustin, this guy is on a hilarious rampage about the adaptation, and he is slaying Connie Brim–brilliant Shakespeare expert–with his witty repartee. And I’m all……”I like the Fassbender when he comes out of the water”.

Thursday Double Feature, Oscar winner Son of Saul, a grim and heartbreaking Holocaust drama and Ben’s At Home, a light independent comedy of little consequence. Donuts and warm beverages at PDK afterwards.

A note about the food: there was so much delectable numminess throughout the festival; and I was smack dab in the middle of a clean-eating, weight loss program.  Beyond the Pinot Noir, my official #KFF2016 beverage, I was not participating in the snacking at any of the events…with the exception of a partial sugar -coated donut that I had in my purse for my husband. Walking back to the car, I reached into my bag and took one big massive bite out of the pastry, a la a Black Widow chomping off the head of her mate. Without missing a step, the donut was out of my bag, chomped into a sugary horseshoe and was thrust back in my bag, my pace quickening as I licked sugar off my lips. No regrets!

Final Friday of the festival, Kamloops Art Gallery for samples of Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs, before seeing a film about his life. Followed Eadweard with Pinot Noir and Green curry at Mittz Kitchen and gin and Karaoke at the Central with special guest Meisha Lowe, photographer Jen Randall Dustin, and ladies of the Events Committee, Tanya and Nathalie. We took Bohemian Rhapsody to a whole other level, and it was glorious.

I came home at midnight and then proceeded to reorganize my whole life. Drunkenly cleaning one’s home is a highly recommended activity. It makes the act of cleaning popcorn kernels out of every purse you’ve ever owned a real hoot and a holler. Pump up some sweet jams, and take on at least a dozen tasks at the same time. It’s also an unbelievable delight to wake up to. This is a legitimate #KFF2016 life hack. #Cleanwhiledrunk.

I caught the first Saturday matinee, Anomalisa; the Charlie Kaufman penned animated feature. I didn’t love it as much as I expected to…and there was a very thorough sex scene that had some…ahem, audible qualities, that was cringe worthy at best.

I skipped Embrace the Serpent and the Painted Pony Steeping Discussion to spend some time with my dog Bluebear–(a shout out to my husband, who was in Vancouver for closing, who had taken care of so much during the festival).

Saturday night: sushi at Oriental Gardens and Forsaken with my mother and two aunts.

After the movie, I scuttled over to Hotel 540 for the Closing Night party. More Pinot to be had! The James Welsh Band was a seriously groovy musical group. All in all, a perfect celebration with the marvellous #KFF2016 committee.

Once all duties were over, and the crowd gave way to the late evening, I danced the rest of the night away; finishing the festival as I tend to do–at the Commodore.

Falling asleep at 4am, another festival finished;  a head full of cinematic stories, a belly full of wine, and a pile of laundry higher than the Himalayas.

For more information of the Kamloops Film Festival, check out the website: http://www.kamloopsfilmfest.ca/

 

Photos Courtesy of Jen Randall Dustin , Chris Warner & the  fine folks behind the Internet.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Comeback Kid

Kudos to Adele. That was one heck of a comeback. Cashmere smooth. The timing was perfect. Right as autumn settled in: nights are colder, days are shorter. Grey and rainy weather that makes you want to stare out the window longingly, arms crossed over your woolen cowl neck sweater while sighing audibly. Adele doesn’t make a big fuss, there’s not a flashy media blitz. Like an elegant ghost, appearing out of nowhere and singing ‘Hello’ over your shoulder. One minute you’re washing dishes or frying eggs, driving in the car or sitting in a waiting room and her fragrant crooning fills your senses; suddenly it’s goose bumps and tears and wondering if you’ve ever really loved enough.

She’s still banging on about her ex. Three albums about one relationship? That must have been quite a man.

Or it’s about many men and she can’t get over any of them. Apparently a former lover tried to take legal action against her, claiming she wouldn’t have her success without him being the subject of her sadness and scorn. What a spectacular ex-boyfriend knife twist–“remember when I cheated and lied, and all the rest of the daily disappointments and unyielding heartache magically transformed into all those Grammy’s? That was all me! You can just make the cheque out to ‘cash'”.

Um, if my arms weren’t teeming with awards I would properly deck you. Being a bad boyfriend should not be commission based. I mean, that’s the prize of the broken heart. Isn’t that the best kind of revenge? Living well without you? Adele releases ’21’, earns all the awards and accolades, sympathy and support (and an Oscar too!). After a spectacular run she then falls completely off the radar for nearly three years, living quietly with her partner and child until this recent return with this new single and epic music video.

Can we talk about the video? It’s a solid six minute mini movie. I’m not wild with all the ‘boyfriend acting at the camera bit’, but that’s just me. Have I been missing out on overly enthusiastic boyfriends all these years? If anyone ever tried to playfully force-feed me noodles like he does, I would karate chop the son of a bitch. I don’t care if this guy used to be on The Wire, he’s a little over-zealous for my liking.

When you get Adele alone in the English countryside in her furry overcoat with dramatic hand gestures and exposing her impeccable nails it’s ah-mazing.

Belting out a song like that would provide the truest sense of satisfaction. Throw in the false eyelashes, voluminous hair and a wind machine and you’ve got yourself a party. Seriously though, how fabulous would leaves swirling around look on me?

I’m not much of a singer. I sound adequate if the acoustics are generous and the pitch is low, but I’m never going to be able to do a Celine Dion style fist-to-chest pump and really mean it.

That catharsis does not belong to me–other than the shower or the car, I’m ill-equipped to hammer out all of my regret and remorse, longing and grief through the power of song. Which is such a shame. Nothing, and I mean nothing says I’m sorry quite like a powerhouse ballad.

Singing talents aside, I do feel Adele tapped into a concept I was working on for my twentieth high school reunion. I wasn’t actually going to attend, but I was going to send a video of a similar nature for the attending members of Grad ’99.

Hopefully, I look as young and fresh as Adele by then. Though odds are I will look something like this.

Still, after the short film faded to darkness, they’d stand in stunned silence before the slow clap began. “Say what you will about her, she looks outstanding when leaves swirl around her face like that”.

Images & GIF’s Courtesy of the Internet, Fans of Adele

 

 

Vintage Grudge Match

In honour of Joan Fontaine’s birthday. Olivia de Havilland must be rather pleased with herself. #anoldiebutagoodie

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

Earlier in December Oscar winning actress Joan Fontaine passed away at the age of 96.

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If you are not familiar with Fontaine, perhaps you remember her sister Olivia de Haviland, who is now 97.

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de Havilland is best known as stoic and sweet Melanie in “Gone with the Wind”.

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Why, you couldn’t ask for a more wholesome, more selfless woman than Miss Melanie in “GWTW“; which is understandably why Scarlett O’Hara wanted to steal her husband and see her destroyed.

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Olivia also starred in eight films with Errol Flynn–who was a swashbuckling seducer of the times. (The expression “in like Flynn” originated from the actor’s prowess.  In his later years he tried to write a memoir called “In Like Me”…which was rejected by publishers. A hard drinking gentleman with a penchant for morphine and and heroin, his career crumbled after a pesky statutory rape charge from…

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Faith Tones & the Freak Show Circuit

For anyone who’s keeping track–the original blogs have not been flooding in plentifully…it’s a trickle. It’s like the tap in the bathtub that occasionally releases a fat drop of water. We’re teetering on full out drought here. Once the very busy summer ended, my life continued to be a morning to night all-consuming marathon of activity and responsibility.

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The luxurious days of writing for hours are gone–for now.  Maybe I’ll have a baby just so I can have a year off–finally write the book that the world has been holding their breath for. In the meantime the only thing I have time for is re-editing and re-posting older posts. Let’s be honest, there’s well over 200 blogs, and not all have been read by everyone. Only a handful of people (that I know of), have read the entire catalogue. Once in a blue moon the pop culture gods release news that allows me to re-release a blog for another dozen or so new readers to relish.  My friend Dusan admonished me over tea one afternoon: “Too busy is not an excuse’, ‘editing and adding new ideas to an old post is not really the same thing as writing a new one’. Well…what can I say? Legitimate writers take collections of already published material and put a spine on it and call it a book–and I bet they tinker and retool their work just a little before it hits the printing press.  As an unpaid, non-legitimate writer, don’t I have the right to rotate the backlog?  Though I no longer write regularly, I still check in on my stats–see what people are reading. I get comments that are almost exclusively spam. For example, samsung 32 inch tv said: “Heyya i am foor the firest time here. I found this board and I tto find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I am hopng to present on thing bak and aid others like you aided me“.  The other day I reposted a piece about the end of summer, and got a very nice shout out from a former co-worker. Her compliment was a nice validation–that someone is reading and enjoying; that it is not unfounded to repost old pieces, as they are new to someone else. Yesterday I checked my email and received a notification about a comment. Wow, another  comment from someone not named ‘fur coats cheap for sale’. It was regarding Crossed Lines at the Cal Neva, a rather epic blog written over my Christmas holiday about Marilyn Monroe’s last weekend.

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“Hell, if your so great why don’t you put up pictures of yourself and have them judge you based on their lives?”

Whoa. That was harsh. As a knee jerk reaction I immediately deleted it. But it really made me stop and think.

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If the writer of this comment had only put an apostrophe and added an ‘e’ to ‘your’, that would have cut me to the quick.  It made me screw my face up in confusion. So…who have I offended here? Are Marilyn, Frank, Jackie and JFK up in heaven nursing wounds over what I wrote about them? Is the commenter offended on their behalf? I reread the piece and realize the issue. (Read along if you wish for the most heightened interactive experience https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/12/30/crossed-lines-at-the-cal-neva/). The blog was originally going to be about me spending my entire Christmas holiday drunk on spiked coffee, and whiling away many hours on Pinterest…and because I was still drunk I just combined what really should be two blogs into one Lawrence of Arabia length piece. So the blog does start off with me making remarks about vintage celebrity snapshots.Why wouldn’t I?How can you come across a picture like this an not crack a joke>

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Furthermore, Cher is an old friend of mine.  I met her at a Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves summit.  I even introduced her to Val Kilmer. Celebrities in general love when I gently roast their past lives.  What I want to know is how this commenter has deduced that I’m “so great”, and insinuating that my  knowledge of this greatness is bleeding into my comedic work. Does she think that I think I’m better than Cher? Better than Nancy Regan sitting on Mr T’s lap when he is dressed like Santa? Bitch please. Nothing in life will be that good again my friends.

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Clearly this woman has not read all the blogs. It’s a pretty rare day that I shine a light on my many many talents and positive attributes. Don’t I self depreciate enough? I’m an unpaid, unfamous blogger with a slim following and fat thighs, and I am not afraid to shout these facts from the rooftop…what more does she want from me? Maybe she wants to hear more about my life–learn more about my past through the majesty of photography. Allow her to judge me as I have judged others.  Please forgive me…I’ll do my best, but I’m feeling a little foggy–I was just at George’s wedding in Venice and it was a pretty magical weekend.  This is not the most flattering shot of me, I was being attacked by a bee, and was trying to deflect it with my many diamonds.

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Was I invited to Clooney’s wedding? I wasn’t not invited. I know Amal (if that’s her real name), is quite intimated by me, and hoped I would not show my face around Venice over the weekend. What a silly bitch. You don’t spend as much as I have on a face and not show it off.  George needed to see what he was losing for one last time. This is a classic shot–George took this on a particularly hot day in our tow-trailer in Arizona…I was going through a blonde phase, which was a huge mistake. In Clooney land–you better run a tight ship. No dishes in the sink, don’t leave the milk and generic cereal out–and do all that with class, dignity and chestnut hair.

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Of course, I wasn’t always the beauty I am today. In fact, when I was born, doctors told my parents that I would never be attractive. Not wanting to be known as the parents of an ugly baby, they did their best to distance themselves from me.

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Time moved along and I did not outgrow the ugly baby phase. Still, I got a pet and a pack of cigarettes, and suddenly my toddler days were looking up.

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I found a group of friends, and they tried to help me blend into the crowd by wearing masks that were scarier than my actual face.

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Things with the group got kind of out of hand. Egged on by my pet chicken Albert…who had really come to rule the roost, daily life got a little too Lord of the Flies circa Rob Zombie, so we scattered to the wind shortly after this photo was taken.

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From there, it was a ragtag life of menial crime. Knocking off drug stores, liquor stands and 24-hour dry cleaners, and getting short stints with freak shows as they toured throughout the Mid West.

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I made a good honest living for a while–thrilling audiences with my peculiar body and excessively ruffled collar.

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I made friends along the way…making one acquaintance in particular on the road. Now this is an exclusive, and you won’t hear about in the press. Sure Amal looks like this now.  When I had Clooney money I looked like a million bucks too.

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I remember Amal from the freak show circuit when she was known as Gertie the Goatee Faced Girl.

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George is not the first man we fought over either. We have loved the same man before–or, at least, we thought it was a man…the heaving breasts were often confusing.  But what can you say? It’s slim pickings on the fair grounds.

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As is the theme of my life, I loved and lost–and was forced in the opposite direction. I got a new hat and a second hand gun and didn’t take shit from anyone ever again.

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Eventually, the law caught up with me, and I was captured trying to cross the border into Mexico with counterfeit money, thirty aerosol cans of hairspray and a trunkful of mushroom colored pantyhose in a stolen Oldsmobile.

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Prison life was a time of growth and self reflection. It’s all detailed in the wildly exaggerated fictional account written about my life.

Don’t even get me started on Orrie Hitt–what a liar. Who gives someone “Sherry Jenkins” as a pseudonym? Why not Doreen Magilicutty? Esther Pinkerinko? Toots McTinkertits? Trade a little sex for money and suddenly you are a hooker–which is another lie–I’ve never even played rugby once in my life.  Nonetheless, prison changed my life, and made me the saint you know me as today.  With those dark days of incarceration behind me, I turned to a more spiritual life. I realized that I had a natural ear for music and a voice that could make the angels weep; naturally I walked straight into the record biz and dropped a rather successful album with some girls I met in a Halfway house. I’m the one with the big hair in this shot.

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Considered the Justin Timberlake of The Faith Tones, it was only natural that I went solo.  I named the album after my favorite place in the world.  This look is a little ‘Sherry Jenkins’, but my management team at the time was going for an elusive combination of bronzer, bleach and bulimia with just a healthy splash of vodka and a venereal infection.  I think that achieving that look became more successful than the actual album. Lesson learned. The album cover is not more important than the album.  The Faith Tones tried to warn me–but I was blinded by money, fame and the reflection in the looking glass–I called them a dime store Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, and laughed off into the sunset with Charlie Sheen…’s recently fired bodyguard Gary.

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Nobody looks like good all the time right? Wrong. I look that amazing all the time. I earned this beauty. I pay monthly installments for it. I lie to my husband and claim they are ‘student loan payments’ when everyone knows a university education is for suckers.  As of recently I’m paying off the butt implant surgery that will make me look more like Nicky Minaj. I look right in the mirror before I look down on Marilyn Monroe or criticize Sinatra’s ability to be a good friend.  I  pass judgement on Cher’s dating life and make off the cuff observations about celebrities in 30 year old snapshots. And I know I am right to do so.  Why not? After all, I  know as anyone else that I am ‘so great’. No one has ever used the internet to pass judgment, make ironic statements or snarky remarks before. No one has commented on a photograph before. No one has ever taken taken vintage imagery and added a modern twist. Marilyn--117784

Thank goodness I came along to shake things up. I pretty much invented irony along with the birth control pill and the friggin’ wheel. Apologies to whomever I’ve offended–especially to Ms Monroe, as I am the first and only individual to ever speculate about her spectacular yet unfortunate life.

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Bold & Beautiful

Reeling from the loss of the indomitable Joan Rivers, I turned to her comedy for comfort and renovated an old blog in the process.
#anoldiebutagoodie #canwetalk

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

Boy oh boy, Joan Rivers. Dead at 81. This one really hurts my heart.  Following the suicide of Robin Williams, which was a proper tragedy….but this is a differnt kind of tragedy.  If life is a party, Williams quietly slipped out the back door. He made a choice to leave early.  Rivers, on the other hand was still holding court in front of the crowd, and hadn’t even finished her drink.  Award season is just getting started.  That seems like a cruel joke from the universe. Her red carpet commentary is the very best.  I no longer have the E channel, but when I lived in New Zealand, that channel was my North American touchstone, and Joan Rivers my acid-tongued fairy Godmother.  Feeling homesick, lonely or blue? For my money, it doesn’t get better than Fashion Police.  

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I loved her fearless, searing, ruthless cracks. That kind of ‘axe to…

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Put a Ring on It: Collective Regrets from the George Clooney Women’s Guild

Winter has worn away at my soul.  I desire a luxurious getaway as one longs for a conjugal visit after years of imprisonment.  I am afraid of what I would do for a plane ticket to a hot far-off destination.  I would sprint towards a holiday like Whitney Houston did to Kevin Costner at the end The Bodyguard.  Mashing my face all over it’s face and while belting I Will Always Love You in the background.

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The later-years Beach Boys classic Kokomo recently came up in conversation, when I was expressing to a friend just how badly I wanted to be nursing a solid buzz on a beach with a trashy magazine in my hand.  One simply cannot discuss Kokomo, but must live it, sing it,  harmonize with it.  Hot skin and wet hair. Toes in the sand. Sounds of crashing waves. Salty kisses from island lovers.

{insert sensuous eye rolling here}

I proclaimed that the Beach Boys song said everything about my current state of mind. And I think a really good solution to all of my problems.

As follows: my personal top ten list of why I would like this song to be about my life.

  1. Now if you want to go and get away from it all (which I do, I really do)
  2. Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo. (There’s not apparently, but let’s move forward anyhow)
  3. That’s where you want to go to get away from it all
  4. We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
  5. We’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band (I usually fall in love to the sounds of banjos so this would be a welcomed change).
  6. Afternoon delight, cocktails and moonlit nights
  7. That dreamy look in your eye
  8. tropical contact high
  9. Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama, Key Largo, Montego, Jamaica
  10. Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand

When I Googled the lyrics of Kokomo, I realized that the line was be “tropical drink melting in your hand”…when all these years I thought that it was “tropical cake melting in your hand”.  I had even remarked that the other day: “I don’t even know what it is…but I want it”.  I imagine golden yellow slice, glistening with coconutty goodness, a thick slab in the palm of your sun-screened hand. Still…a gooey piece of cake is hardly beach food.  And why are they no plates at this resort? Could a sister get a wet-nap up in here?  Stand down guys.  It’s tropical drink, which when you come to think about it…that really does make more sense.  Perhaps this is because my first introduction to this super timeless track is when the Beach Boys appeared on Full House.  I would have been about six, and a stiff cocktail would have been no good to me.

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Wow. What kind of deal with the devil did these guys make in the 60’s to make an appearance on this saccharine-sweet sitcom in the 80’s? Look at the guy in the dead center wearing those ridiculous mom jeans…I really don’t know who was driving that style choice there.  His fly is longer than Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen’s leg. And ole pointy fingers on the end…leather jacket+ball hat+those sweatpants =my favorite person in this picture. Nonetheless.  The song grown had  with me, and now I would like to feel like the human equivalent to the saxophone solo in this sexy, ooey-gooey cheesy beach jam.  Haven’t heard it recently? Allow me to remind you.

 It’s one of my favorite things about YouTube: that some guy in Peru loved Kokomo, and the film in which it was written for (Cocktail) so much that he just plays full scenes of the movie. Not a montage in sight, just whole chunks of muted dialogue with the Beach Boys crooning away.  But what an ending to the video.  Ugh, when have you ever woken up and thought: “I really hope I don’t have sex in a waterfall today” or “Jeez I hope that a hunky bartender doesn’t try to get into my black one piece bathing suit”.  Cocktail is actually loosely based on a relationship I had.  Watching the footage actually makes me feel very emotional….in light of the current news.

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Whoa, looks like somebody’s gotten their priorities all out of whack at the Daily Express.  Hayfever hell? Boohoo.  My Georgey-Porgey is getting married–and I am having a difficult time coping.  When I first got word I…had a rather strong reaction.

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The Vicodin I took couldn’t touch my grief.  The three martinis I threw down my throat didn’t dull the ache. George, George, not you.  That’s when I starting smashing everything in sight.

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He said he never wanted to get married, only because I didn’t want to marry him.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be “Mrs George Clooney”. It’s just that he wanted to be “Mr Alicia Ashcroft” a bit too desperately.  George loved me so deeply, that it really was all-consuming.  We were young, met on holiday, and let’s just say he got ‘under the waterfall’.  He adored me.  Worshipped me.  Said I was perfect mix of Jackie Kennedy and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  I loved him in return. We were the Golden Couple.

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Some of the greatest moments in pop culture were inspired by George’s romantic gestures to me. John Cusack in Say Anything? That has George all over it.  He actually had Peter Gabriel write In Your Eyes about me.

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In later years, he had inspired Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), because he was trying to get a message to me.   I was hesitating and he was slipping through my fingers.  George actually said that to me one night, after a dinner party at our home in Lake Como.  He hissed it, so that the waitstaff couldn’t hear.  All the other couples were married and engaged, nannies holding gorgeous babies who are named after exotic locations and expensive cheese.  George was humiliated after Beyonce and Jay-Z pressed us about our single status.  Why couldn’t I give him those things? Why didn’t we have a little Camembert Dubai Clooney? Why couldn’t I put a ring on it?

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Not this again.  George, baby, things are so good why complicate it with things like marriage and children?  What if dating is like the first half of Cocktail, hot sex in a Jamaican waterfall and marriage is like the second half, when it gets all serious with unwanted pregnancies, angry parents and suicide notes?  A friend and I had both lamented that brief and glorious time when love is new and your lover doesn’t know you yet.  “Just dating” George Clooney was my life support.  Marriage was quicksand.  I pressed myself up against George, and swore my allegiance.  I knew his heart was breaking.

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Eventually we fell apart…around the”In your Eyes” era.  He needed to get married, and by the time I offered to throw him a bone and marry him just to shut him up…it was too late.  His heart had hardened to the whole institution of marriage.  I broke George Clooney. I regret everyday since that I couldn’t repair the damage I had caused.

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I don’t see him around much.  I hear things like the rest of the world does now….in the news, on the internet.  Do I get jealous? Well, sometimes I miss the Italian air, our housemaid Lupe, and the smell of George’s musk.  He had good musk.  When I see pictures of George trying to aptly describe just how enormous his Clooney is, and people like Sandra Bullock aren’t even paying attention to him, I get a little peeved.  That could have been me. 

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News of Clooney’s engagement has shaken the world through and through, inspiring bios on his new fiance Amal Alamuddin, and lists of “Clooney’s former flames”…or as I like to call it, “Clooney-Bear and the luckiest Bitches on Earth”.

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Don’t look for me, I’m not on the list.  I don’t know if this is TMZ’s mistake, or that George has worked so hard to forget me, that the press has forgotten me as well.  That’s fine…the paparazzi know me by name, but whatever leave me off the list.  I know what I had with George.  I don’t need to prove it with pictures of me on George’s yacht.

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Please…that’s obvi me…I would recognize those legs from anywhere.

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Oh this? Just George and I leaving after a nice meal out.  The photogs were really there to catch a glimpse of me, but snaps of George would do too.

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The other women knew about me as well. I was famous amongst the other Cloonists as having made his hair go salt and pepper from all the heart ache I caused him.  Many tried and failed to slay the dragon as only I and his ex wife Talia Balsam had done before.

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So…after all the replacements that George has tried to tried to fill the gap with…all the vivacious, intelligent brunettes he’s known–and all he could see was me.  And now…it seems that someone has finally ‘put a ring on it’ : Beirut born, London based human rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin.

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Well let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room.  That’s my doppelganger.  I’ve got piercing eyes and endless locks of shiny ravine hair.  The similarities do not end there. Amal Alamuddin? Alicia Ashcroft? Uh George, this is a little embarrassing for you, chasing the dream as you tend to do. At the last Clooney Guild meeting, the others offered scant details–just that George chases versions of me the same way a nerdy Asian teen tracks ever-evolving technology.  Amal Alamuddin is just a new i-Phone..a shiny distraction.  When news of the engagement spread, I caught a ride to the secret compound on Kelly Preston’s helicopter along with Stacey Keibler and the gal with the awful arm band tattoo circa Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire, who now dates the guy from Jack Ass.  We pooled together about what we knew of her:

  • She’s provided legal council to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
  • She served as council into the United Nations.
  • Legal advisor to the King of Bahrain…
  • She speaks fluent French and Arabic…
  • She’s a published author.  Apparently has written several  articles about international criminal law.
  • She was voted “hottest barrister in London” by a particularly sexist and ethically dubious legal blog called Your Barrister Boyfriend…for achieving “the seemingly unattainable ideal of contemporary femininity: she is both breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful.”

Breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful? That’s how most people describe me.  Frankly, it’s like looking in a mirror.  Although, according to this photo she’s like a little pocket-sized lawyer.  That’s never going to work. What is this? A bride for ants?

Amal Alamuddin dresses up on her way to dinner in New York City

Maybe watching Clooney up and marry my evil twin is my equivalent of The Beach Boys on Full House:  karmic payback for not appreciating the glory days.  I had him, and I lost him, and now I have to live with it.  All because of my foolish pride.  So there it is.  Goodbye George Clooney.  I will grieve this loss in only the most glamorous of ways.   One of the things he loved most about me.

charade-1963-720p-bluray-x264-cinefile01-13-28   Images Courtesy of Google

 

Rock n’ Roll Rabbit Holes

In the summer before I started university, before the Twin Towers fell in New York City, I slept in a room on Vancouver Island.  I shared it with my older brother’s ex-girlfriend (whom I referred to as my sister-in-law regardless of their romantic stare of affairs).  Her son, my nephew, was quite young and slept in a large enclosure around the corner with colorful sarongs tacked up in the doorway.  Above my sister-in-law’s bed was an enormous black-and-white poster of Kurt Cobain.  It was not uncommon to have a restless sleep, and to remedy the sleeplessness by staring up at the poster and wonder about this famous stranger.

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Now, this is going to come as a real shock, but if I were a Nirvana album I would be MTV Unplugged in New York.  I don’t rock hard in the slightest.  Maybe if you play something from Kylie Minogue’s Fever, I might let my hair down a little.  As would a middle-aged men’s choir after happy hour on Fire Island but it’s one of the most important albums of anyone’s generation, so who can blames them? This album was scientifically engineered to make even the dead dance.  It’s actually the same science behind Minogue’s eternal youth, and legs that I personally would participate in a Hunger Games style death-match to earn such tasty gams.

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My older brother was a music aficionado and was my source of knowledge before the internet existed.  The very first time I heard “Landslide”, was as a Smashing Pumpkins cover on a bootleg cassette tape.  He listened to a variety of genres, listened to a lot of hip hop and rap, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Blind Melon what have you. In the pre-grunge era, he was really into hair bands: Twisted Sister, Cinderella, Poison, Motley Crue.  He had a picture of Dee Snider on his wall that scared the hell out of me. Some of his musical choices made me feel like a forty-year old-square who said things like “This isn’t music, this is noise”.  I’d never admit it, I’d always attempt to play the part.  Thinking back, I was such a nerdy kid, I really wasn’t fooling anyone.  Anthony was a very popular guy, athletic, cool, fun; all the things I was not.  I could make him laugh, and a well-crafted wise crack was my currency.  He introduced me to Tori Amos, and I used to do an impression of her that made him bust a gut.  True, he was my brother, but he was also ‘Anthony Price’, and that meant something in our next of the woods.  Besides, I can’t be that much of a loser if I’m making the cool guy chuckle.

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We lived in a trailer, and our rooms were across a slight hallway.  Almost every night I would cross the hall, tap on the door lightly, and sit on the bed for a chat.  He regaled stories about parties, people, sport field trips, his new girlfriend (there was a real female fan base and the phone was always ringing).  He talked about the places he was going, what his future was going to look like.  We would always listen to music.  He had a pretty expansive audio tape collection.  He was always buying new music, and always had something new to show me.  I wanted desperately to impress him, so when he said things I didn’t really understand–which was often, I would try my best to just nod with the right kind of serious expression.  Perhaps in between watching black and white movies, playing with Barbie dolls for about a year too long, and listening to the Righteous Brothers, I was clocking long hours on the wild side of life.

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He played a wonderful game that went like this:

“Like this band?”

“Totally…love them”. (nodding seriously)

“It’s Bon Jovi”

“Oh yeah, I celebrate their entire catalogue”

“It’s not Bon Jovi”

“Haha, I know…I was just kidding”.

“It’s Guns and Roses”

“I knew that”.

“It’s not…it’s actually Whitesnake”.

And let’s be honest, I listened to tapes I pilfered from my parent’s collection: Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand and Belinda Carlisle.  I got a record player in my early teens and usurped my parent’s albums for my own use.  Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Blondie, ABBA, Billie Holiday–that was how I rolled.  There was a Bee Gee’s record I found when I was 13, and it rocked my world.  I was so out of touch, that even the most overplayed tracks slipped past my social-consciousness.  Around the time Ace of Base arrived on the scene with “The Sign”, I went on a school trip.  I was perfectly terrified that the excursion would be an alienating day, but I got by with my good-humor and over-compensating compliments.  All the cool girls were rocking out to that song pretty hard, singing acapella versions of the track.  I just kept a smile frozen on my face, trying to earn my keep.  That these girls were even tolerating my presence was a total coup. I was on social tenterhooks, I couldn’t afford to not know who Ace of Base was…or admit that I would have preferred ABBA anyway.

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I finally heard it…about six months later.  I saw the Queen Bee shortly afterwards and made the fatal mistake of mentioning that I had only recently heard and enjoyed a song that was now long dead to her.

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I remember the first time I met my now best friend–she was performing in school talent show.  I asked Evelyn what song she was doing.  She said “About a Girl” and I huffed sarcastically: “That’s specific”.  It shames me to admit just how long it took me to realize that it was an actual song title.  Not to compare Ace of Base to Nirvana–but suffice to say, I did not have my finger on the modern-day music pulse, other than what my brother had shown me.  Evelyn and her brother Rory were smart, funny, and musically talented,  both had a vast knowledge of punk and indie music. Their dad had a Master’s, was in a band, they didn’t have cable, they just sat around reading books at night.  They were this impossibly cool family that were the Royal Tenenbaums to my Eli Cash.

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Evelyn actually listened to Nirvana, as opposed to me only hearing of him only because I read about it him my mother’s People magazineI had heard the Weird Al Yankovic version of Smells like Teen Spirit, before I heard the original.  The prime of our high-school friendship was following Cobain’s death. After all, we were only twelve and thirteen years when Cobain died.  But he was very much alive in our world,despite the shotgun blast. Evelyn was Cobain obsessed; now recalls him as “her partner in teenage angst”, that he was “mysterious, talented, sexy, dysfunctional…and his music was really good…dark and awesome and grungy”.  Evelyn’s love for Nirvana and Kurt Cobain was something I personally did not understand.  I got that there was a mystique, but it wasn’t my kind of cologne if you know what I mean.  I faulted my own uncool DNA.  You know who did really rock my world? Courtney Love.  She was the coolest woman ever.  The baby doll dresses, barrettes dangling in messy locks, red lipstick and a mohair cardis, mixed with army boots–so effing cool.  Anthony bought me a copy of Live Through This and it was a revelation.  This was my kind of rock and roll.

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Anthony was seeing this girl, Jenne, who in my mind,  was just as-or if not cooler than Courtney  Love.  I remember seeing her sitting on the steps of the community hall, during an all ages show: short blonde hair tucked behind eyes, smoking a cigarette in a white tank top with a black bra.  I could never pull that look off.   This girl eventually became the sister-in-law I shared a room with.  She loved Kurt and Courtney in equal measure.  In that same town Love was there with Kevin Bacon and Charlize Theron filming a movie.  I met Love at a Blockbuster video store, she was in the independent film section, and was extremely rude when I approached her.  (I wouldn’t have it any other way).  I waited outside smoking a cigarette, hoping to score an autograph to give to Jenne.  Standing next to her as she scribbled on the back of the receipt, I thought about Kurt.  This was Kurt Cobain’s widow–this woman revolutionized by teen years.  I read about her in magazines, I knew things about her life.  I vividly remember how only a month before Cobain died, his “accidental overdose” in Rome and this shot in People magazine.

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On April 8, 1994, I was washing dishes during a commercial break on Oprah, when the news broke. Kurt Cobain found dead by shotgun in his Seattle home.  Obviously, it was a dominating news-story.  Suicide, drugs, celebrity, what a perfectly scandalous cocktail.  A large crowd had gathered to commemorate Cobain; Courtney Love read his suicide note aloud, (and allegedly gave his possessions away to strangers, who I imagine made a killing on e-Bay years later).  The news cameras were like flies to excrement, leaching every last ounce of marrow from the bone.  I vividly remember a young girl being interviewed; she had never heard of Nirvana or of Cobain, but that news of his death was deeply moving.  Her mother had driven her to the site, so they could drink in the mutual sorrow, though it wasn’t really their loss to share.  That is a metaphor for the six-o’clock news.  I couldn’t get enough of it. Even my mother was fascinated, more-so in a cautionary tale, tsk tsk, ‘this is the trouble with drugs’ kind of way.  Since I had first heard the parable of poor Elvis Presley, I’ve always had a morbid fascination about celebrity deaths.  Cobain’s suicide happened on an auspicious age, 27, and it drew a lot of focus on the artists that died before him at the same age.

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The first noted club member was Alexandre Levy,  Brazilian composer responsible for bringing a Latin flavor to classical music. He died mysteriously in 1892.  Ragtime musician Louis Chauvin died from syphilis in 1908. Chauvin was a ragtime musician from Missouri who made a name for himself in the early jazz haunts of St. Louis and Chicago. My personal favorite of “The 27 Club: The Early Years” was blues player Robert Johnson, who died in 1938. As the legend goes, Johnson met the devil at the crossroads one night and traded his soul to be a better blues player. His death still remains a mystery, many claim that he was poisoned by a revenge seeking, cuckolded husband, while others insist that the devil was making good on a hellish deal.  There’s Jimi, Joplin, Jim and Brian Jones, who drowned in his own pool in 1969.

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The autopsy report decreed “death by misadventure”, and  Jones was buried twelve feet deep in the ground (to prevent grave robbing) in a coffin that was paid for by Bob Dylan.  His death was a precursor for many tragedies to come.

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Jimi Hendrix dedicated a song to Jones on American television, and Jim Morrison of The Doors published a poem entitled “Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased”.  Both men would be dead within two years time.  Hendrix in September 1970, and Morrison in July of 1971.  Janis Joplin died only sixteen days after Hendrix.

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Yikes. Talk about a rule of threes.  All at 27.  That must have blown some minds. Though as far as a stigma, or pop-culture curiosity, it wasn’t really a phenomenon, it was more of a side note or point of reference until Cobain turned the lights out. Between Morrison and Cobain there were seventeen lesser known additions to the 27 Club. A member of The Grateful Dead, Inner Circle, The Stooges, The Gits–murder, car accidents, overdoses, suicides, diabetes, you name it.  There are ten additions between Cobain, and the next major player Amy Winehouse, also pronounced “death by misadventure”. She feared 27 as being a rock and roll expiration date.  Of course, while these deaths are accidental, they are not accidents.  Many of these people had participated in the unraveling in their own lives. Winehouse being a classic example. One does not go from this…

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…to this, over night.

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By the end, WInehouse didn’t know the words to the songs that made her famous–and she helped write many of them.  She was such a horror-show, and her antics overshadowed her unbelievable talent and once great stage presence.  Don’t get me wrong, Winehouse is actually my 27-club favorite, her death was very emotional for me.  It’s troubling to me that the very things that makes one great, is quite possibly the same thing that destroys them–it’s a kind of Ouroboros, that snake eating it’s tail, representing an eternal cycle of rebirth.  I hate to take Egyptian symbolism and bend it to my own will, but I’m going to do it anyway–it is an eternal cycle–talented individuals with this undefinable x-factor, that are plucked from obscurity and thrust into fame with the pressures, expectations–artistic promises made on your behalf by someone who cares only for the all-mighty dollar.  For someone with mental illness, propensity for addiction, or crippling self-doubt the limelight would be like an itchy wool sweater to skin that had only known silk.  Of course, narcotics and booze and excess have always been part in parcel of the rock and roll culture, but imagine the era when doctors recommended smoking and really strong pharmaceuticals were best washed down with a stiff drink. Sounds fun doesn’t it?  Of course, that’s like the first bit of Requiem for a Dream before the amputations and double ended dildos, before addiction begins to erode reason, rationale, relationships and brain cells.  I mean, it isn’t as if God Almighty is sitting up on his judgment cloud, striking down talented, healthy musicians at 27 just for shits-and-gigs, these artists were ceasing to function (it was maybe a bit personal with Jim Morrison because of all the whispers that he looked like a ‘Fat Jesus” ).

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Around my 32nd birthday, I made a discovery about my age that gets very little press. After watching Dreamgirls over Christmas holiday, I did a little post-film trivia recon.  I knew that the Broadway musical and subsequent film was based on The Supremes, but little else. The musical has a much better ending for all parties, Effie White gets her moment on the stage at the end.  Florence Ballard, the woman on whom White was based, had a short and tragic run.

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Born eighth of thirteen children in Detroit Michigan, Ballard was due for some hard living.  Financial constraints forced the family to move all over town.  Her father, who taught her about music,  died when she was sixteen. She had met Mary Wilson and Diane–not yet Diana Ross while still in high-school   She was lead vocalist in The Primettes, the first incarnation of The Supremes.  They auditioned for Berry Gordy, who told them to finish high-school first.  The others graduated, Ballard did not.  As their group crept towards fame, Ballard was brutally raped at knife-point in an empty parking lot.  In the aftermath, Ballard retreated inward, not leaving her house for a considerable time which worried her band-mates.  Ballard shared about the incident, and then never spoke about it again.  Obviously, it caused major psychological damage, and from the time on was distrustful, negative, and bitter (Um, who can blame her?).  She eventually returned to the group, personally selected the name “The Supremes” off of a list and signed a record contract with Motown Records. Between 1963-1967, “Ballard contributed vocals to ten number-one pop hits and 16 top forty hit singles”.

SUPREMES in Paris mid 1960s from l Diana Ross Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson

For those who’ve seen Dreamgirls, Effie White is a big girl with a big personality and an even bigger voice.  She also has a large ego, which prevents her from being a team player; which ultimately gets her kicked out of the band. Having always been the lead, she struggles to cope with playing second fiddle to beautiful Deena Jones.  As in the movie, Ballard had a better voice than Ross, but Ross was deemed more attractive.  Ross was being groomed as the star and Ballard drank excessively, gain weight, fighting with Gordy and Ross, and missing rehearsals and recording sessions.  Ballard once had a sore throat and asked Ross to sing her signature song; People.  After that night she never took the lead on the vocals again. The decline was becoming much steeper.  Ballard was disillusioned; their success only exacerbated her misery.  She lamented in an interview the loss of intimacy between the women now that they stayed in separate hotel rooms.  She suggested that it was a mistake for Gordy to highlight Diana Ross over the others, and resented that their romantic relationship,which skewed opportunities within the group.    In 1967, Ballard took a leave of absence, understanding it to be temporary.  Gordy renamed the group The Supremes with Diana Ross.  Shortly after her 24th birthday Ballard reported to work intoxicated–which was not uncommon.  Gordy sent her home, immediately terminating her position.  She was replaced by Cindy Birdsong, who had covered before in Ballard’s absence.  Ballard was released from her contract, was offered a one-time payment of $139,804.94, and was told she could not use “The Supremes” brand, a name that she had approved, to promote solo work.

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From there: spousal abuse, divorce, debt, foreclosure, poverty, welfare, rehab, all while raising three children. She tried to fight Motown Records for additional royalties, and lost. Meanwhile Diana Ross had gone solo in 1970 and was living large in fur coats and diamonds, with many accolades and film roles at her finger tips.  Ballard performed intermittently, (she once opened for Bill Cosby), and occasionally sang with other former Supremes, once playing tambourine at Six Flags in California.  She had lost her desire to sing.  Following rehab, she attempted to stage a comeback.  Ballard performed for the first time in five years, and was in talks to write an autobiography.

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None of that was to be, the two-hundred pound, 32-year-old Florence died of a heart attack.  Diana Ross made a splashy diva entrance, skipping the long, slow-moving line, bee-lining for the front row while surrounded by four burly bodyguards. She sat with the Ballard family in the front row.  She was booed by the crowd, and even Ross’ own mother felt as though she was deeply unwelcome.

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God love Diana Ross, what a bitch move.  Making a big production of her grief.  Although, at this point Diana Ross was not just a singer, she was an Oscar nominated movie star.  She had already done Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany.  Naturally she can’t just walk in by herself or stand in the back respectfullyIn truth, it had been nearly eight years since Ballard left the group, and Ross had been going strong after six years of solo success.  There was enough water under the bridge…but that still didn’t stop Ballard’s supporters to want to hold Ross’s head under said water.  Sheesh, That would have been a mighty tough crowd to face.  According to some sources Ross had donated $50,000 to Ballard before her death, and opened trust accounts for her daughters after her untimely demise.  Perhaps it was generosity, perhaps it was out of guilt.  It was her dream, and Ross helped blacklist her.  Ballard supports claimed that Florence had died of a broken heart.   A month or so after the funeral Ross said to People Magazine:

Did I cry? Yes, I cried. People tried to help Florence. I tried to help her. She had it all and she threw it away.  She quit The Supremes, we didn’t quit her. Don’t make too big a thing of this.  Florence was very important in my life, but I’m not dead. She did this to herself.”

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Shortly after Dreamgirls, I was listening to The Carpenters, (naturally, some things never change) it got me thinking about poor old Karen Carpenter.  During her 14-year career, she and her brother Richard recorded eleven albums, had thirty-one singles, five television specials, and a short-lived television series.

Karen_0009Carpenter lived with her mother until she was 26, dated Tony Danza and Steve Martin, and was also an accomplished drummer.

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Carpenter struggled with anorexia nervosa for years and weighed as little as eighty pounds at the height of her illness.  She spent most of 1982 undergoing treatments to gain weight (30 pounds in eight weeks).  She died at the age of 32, on the day her divorce was to be finalized. Her real-estate developer husband Thomas James Burris had failed to mention that he had a vasectomy to the family-minded Karen during their wedding vows, and their marriage crumbled almost instantly.  She collapsed in the bedroom her parents kept for her at their home; before a planned shopping trip.  Carpenter and her mother were off to buy her new clothes to accommodate the weight gain.

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 After reading all the depressing details, I couldn’t bear to listen to hear her velvety, melancholic voice. I changed the record and put on a Mamas & the Papas album…which then made me wonder about poor old Mama Cass.

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Cass Elliot died after a significant weight loss (80 pounds in eight months by fasting four days a week)…at 32 years of age. Whoa.  Scientists who discovered cures to diseases had nothing on me and my discovery.  This trifecta connection led to a long meandering jazz riff of internet research that lead me to discovery that there is a “32 Club”.  First things first–for Mama Cass it was not death by ham sandwich.  What an unfortunate urban legend to haunt your legacy.  During my research I came across the old joke “if only Mama Cass had given her ham sandwich to Karen Carpenter that they would both be alive today”.  That’s slightly clever, granted, but it’s undermining two paralleled deaths that connect to body images and societal expectations.  The circumstances surrounding her death have been made into a punchline in routines by Frank Zappa, Adam Sandler, Denis Leary, Mike Myers, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Robin Williams.  Aw, Mama Cass,  that rumor is unfortunate and unfair in the same way stripes don’t flatter certain figures.

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Mama Cass died in London, after a sold-out solo show.  She was staying on Curzon Street, in an apartment owned by singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson.  The young mother had a little champagne, called fellow Mama Michelle Philips, expressed gratitude about the packed houses and loving fans, that people were accepting her solo efforts–and then went to sleep and never woke up.

Geneviève Waite, Michelle Phillips and John Phillips at Mama Cass Elliot funeral, July 31 1974

In 1978, now four years later, Keith Moon, drummer of The Who rented the flat.  The 1970’s had not gone well for Keith, who habitually flushed explosives down public toilets and trashed hotel rooms–once was about to leave one location, claimed he had forgotten something in the room, and went back to hurl a television set into the pool.  His 21st birthday was spent in a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan and cost $24,000 in damages.

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On January 4, 1970 a wildly intoxicated Moon, caught in an onslaught of over-zealous fans, struck and killed his bodyguard/driver/friend Neil Boland with his Bentley.  Close friends claimed that he was forever haunted by the incident, but it didn’t really give him a new lease on life on the straight and narrow.  I apologize to any Keith Moon fans out there, but Christ Almighty this guy sounds like he was as bad at living as he was good at drumming.  Even then, percussion was a bit of a trial for him –during an incident in 1973, after a heaping portion of tranquilizers and brandy, he passed out behind his kit during “Won’t get Fooled Again”.  Eventually Moon was carried off stage, given a shower and a shot of cortisone.

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Thirty minutes later, he was back on track….or rather slumped behind the drums with damp hair.  After passing out once more during “Magic Bus”, Pete Townsend put a call out to the audience:  “Can anyone play the drums? – I mean somebody good?”  Scot Halpin, a drummer from Iowa came up and played the rest of the show.  In 1973 Halpin was recognized by  Rolling Stone magazine’s “Pick-Up Player of the Year Award” for his historic performance.  Moon sounded like a messy, monstrous man,  inconsiderate and unprofessional.  He alone was responsible for driving The Who into mountains of debt.  After calculating all of his losses following a 1975 UK tour, he was owed a whopping £47.35. By the late seventies, The Who could nary get through a show without major incident.  He was costing a fortune, whilst making a mess of their collective success. He had caused a death, ruined personal relationships–another thing he couldn’t recover from was his 1973 divorce, where his long-suffering wife left with their daughter Amanda.  She later spoke of Moon as being incapable of parenting because he was a child himself .

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While many of you like to start your morning with toast and coffee, or maybe a fruit smoothie, for Keith Moon he liked to blend champagne, Courvoisier and amphetamines before he started any day.

“I always get up about six in the morning. I have my bangers and eggs. And I drink a bottle of Dom Perignon and half a bottle of brandy. Then I take a couple of downers. Then it’s about 10 and I’ll have a nice nap until five. I get up, have a couple of black beauties [also known as Black Birds or Black Bombers and are a combination of Amphetamine (Speed) and Dextroamphetamine], some brandy, a little champagne and go out on the town. Then we boogie. We’ll wrap it up about four”.

How can one live like that? Short answer? You don’t.  Come late 1978, he’s off the booze, and has been prescribed sedatives, 100 Heminevrin as means to cope with alcohol withdrawal.  He and his girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax stepped out with Paul and Linda McCartney for the film preview of “The Buddy Holly Story”.

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Following the film, they returned home, where he asked for steak and eggs. She apparently declined the task, to which he uttered his last words: “If you don’t like it, you can fuck off”.  Real classy send off, Keith.

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He died in the same bed as Mama Cass, at the same age, with thirty-two pills in his system.

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Annette was heavily sedated for the funeral, and collapsed during the service. Jim Henson immortalized Moon by creating the drummer Animal. In 2012, thirty-four years after his death, some dumb-ass from The London Summer Olympics committee–contacted The Who’s manager about Moon performing at the games. In an interview Bill Curbishley said he replied: “I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to The Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old’.

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After Moon died Harry Nilsson immediately sold the house, for fear the house was truly haunted. Nilsson was no stranger to rock and roll excesses; once in a recording studio he opened his mouth to sing and blood poured out instead of lyrics.  The copious amounts of cocaine caused his throat to rupture, but Nilsson was so far-gone that he didn’t even notice.  If you were Harry, the house would be the last thing you’d worry about.  Two years after Moon’s death, another drummer met his demise.

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Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was found dead, having choked on his own vomit after consuming forty shots of vodka in twelve hours. Led Zeppelin had spent the day rehearsing, and were about kick of the first tour since 1977. The father of two was 32.  Bonham was in a bad place, thinking that his drumming abilities were sub-par, when really…in the spirit of Keith Moon and all the others who fell before him,  perhaps his addiction was getting in the way of his talent.

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Led Zeppelin, inventors and innovators of ‘cock rock’ were the kind of men you wouldn’t want to clean up after. Collectively, between cocaine, booze, tight pants, huge egos and extremely willing sexual conquests, Led Zeppelin were dangerously out of hand.  Writer Simon Hardeman examined the gritty underbelly of John Bonham.

The most unsettling member of the band itself was Bonham, whose other nickname was The Beast. The American journalist Ellen Sander describes how on the last night of Zep’s second America tour, band members, led by Bonham, ripped her clothes off, “shrieking and grabbing”. She goes on: “They were in a frenzy. I was absolutely terrified that I was going to be raped…” Zep’s former-nightclub-bouncer manager, Peter Grant, bodily pulled Bonham off her. She describes life with the band as like being inside cages at a zoo where “you get to smell the shit first-hand”.

Another terrifying Bonham incident occurred aboard the Starship, the Boeing 720 passenger aircraft that the band fitted with luxurious bedrooms for their 1973 and 1975 tours. Plant says his fondest memory of the craft is “oral sex in turbulence”, but one stewardess will have a different take. Stephen Davis describes how Bonham, after drinking a bottle of whisky, appeared in a robe, grabbed the attendant, bent her over forwards in an arm lock and announced that he was going to “have her from the rear”. He then threw open his robe. At the girl’s screams, Cole and Grant appeared and dragged him off.

Maddox said Bonham was the nicest guy in the world when sober, but a maniac when drunk. Once, in a Los Angeles bar, a woman looked at him and, apparently recognising him, smiled; he went over and punched her in the face. And in 1977 he, Cole, Grant and a former London gangster called John Bindon were arrested in San Francisco after a security man was beaten unconscious and left in a pool of blood. A $2m legal action ensued, and the night lives in Led Zep legend as “The Oakland Incident”.

And we shan’t forget the ‘mudshark’ incident, with Bonham once again at the helm. The band were fishing from their window–and had caught a mudshark–or a red snapper, depends on who you ask.  Either way, a pretty red head arrived on the scene, red snapper jokes ensued, and ultimately she was tied to the bed, and her cavities was then stuffed with bits of fish in a room filled with people.  I’ve heard this story before, and it’s rather hard to take.  Before I got the details I just thought it was your average one girl, ten guys, a motel room and a mudshark kind of situation.  The fact that it’s just bits of meat really drives me over the edge. Oh, those boys, they seem like they could gets their female fans to do just about anything–with dogs, octopuses, the mind reels.  Led Zeppelin were the Kings of excess, and were hardly gentlemen to a huge number of the female population.  They burned girls with cigarettes, cut their hair, and generally abused because they could. They were stars–Rock Gods, the rules of human decency don’t apply.  How degrading and unhygienic.  Just think of all those grandmother’s and pensioners out there with some unbelievably filthy stories.

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Phew! Let the record show that I have never spent so long researching a blog before.  And like a Led Zeppelin groupies, I could just go on all night. This entry is going to be longer than a Bonham drum solo, and some famous penises, if you ask Cynthia Plaster-Caster–a groupie who apparently never wanted to forget a phallus. She started on Jimi Hendrix…who was apparently flying at ‘half-mast’ and was not pleased with the final result.  Nonetheless, it became a fun hobby, great way to get into someone’s pants without looking slutty or over eager, just write it off as an art project, and see what you can get cooking on an extra curricular level.

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I’ve fallen down numerous rock n’ roll rabbit holes–each figure I’ve mentioned merits plenty of attention.  My intention was to spend more time with Kurt Cobain, who originally inspired the thesis of this piece. Of course, he is a part of a great cosmic web of excess, self-destruction and wasted life.  Like others before him, Cobain was someone’s husband and father.

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For Cobain, he felt the same way about music as Charlie Brown did about Christmas: things had gotten far too commercial.  Cobain’s suicide note references his lack of passion for the craft–he felt as though he needed to punch the time clock before stepping onstage.

kurt-cobain_sassy_courtney-love_magazineClearly, there are a whole host of issues at hand, addiction, crippling stomach pains, mental anguish, a tortured soul.  Why this man couldn’t just bow out of the limelight and leave the business is beyond me.  The pressures, contracts, obligations to band-members, who knows the what and the why.  A need to burn out than to fade away.   Which brings us back to April 8, 1994–twenty years ago, when I walked across the hall to my older brother’s room.  He was sitting at his desk, listening to Nirvana.  “Isn’t it weird to listen to this now?” I ask.  “It’s different…sad” he said.  We didn’t talk much, I didn’t really know what to say. Kurt Cobain didn’t belong to me.  I wondered if this was how people felt when Elvis died…he had been on his way out as well, shadow of his former self.  Yet people grieved as if he was “Love Me Tender” guy, not “Bloated, pill popping, awkward high kicks, and sequined jumpsuit” guy.  Cobain wanted to be the former, not the latter, and so he is forever 27, the tortured artist who never wanted to be a star.  When tragedy strikes, endless possibilities and speculation grows like a giant tree, each branch individual versions of what was, what could have been, what could have been different, if only.  Life ends, and the legend begins, but really it would have been nice to hear just one more song.

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Crossed Lines at the Cal-Neva

This has been the most delicious holiday of my life.  I’m rested, I’m relaxed, I’m at peace. If the time came that I was to supply a “How I spent my Christmas holiday” essay, I could boil it down rather easily.Eat. Sleep. Family. Gift Giving/Receiving. Drink. Walk. Cuddle. Research. Blog. Tidy. Organize. Putter. Pinterest

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It started innocently enough. I had a Pinterest account, but with very few pins.  My computer does happen to be teeming to various images. I search, click and save pictures in the hope that one day I might need them.  To this day, I can not find this adorable picture of a young Bill Murray with a scarf, so now I save everything.  Occasionally, I’d cast off an unused image to Pinterest, not yet understanding the wealth of imagery in store.

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My husband got a new video game for Christmas.  Once home from my parents place, Benjamin really wanted to clock some hours.  I was happily scouring the internet for the last blog entry, “Vintage Grudge Match”.  Between researching biographies, taking notes, writing and searching for photographs, afternoon passed into evening, which then passed into night, then into the darkest side of the following morning.  This may not sound productive, but it really was. Creating a palatable aesthetic for the blog takes time.  And in this recent period I have hit pay-dirt, finding some pretty exceptional snapshots.

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I received some nice compliments about the last post; people were into the rehashing of Old Hollywood feuds and dusty bits of gossip.  That thrills me to no end, because I had the most fun delving into these lives.  There are other lives I’d like to look into. If that suits the reader, that suits me.  After all, I’ve been lounging around in yoga pants, drinking coffee and Baileys and mucking around on Pinterest for the last week, nothing’s happening to me that’s worth mentioning.  Finding these vintage paparazzi shots, those wonderful glimpses into the personal lives of others, have led to endless fascination, too many hours of obsessive reading, which suits my husband just fine, there’s a war going on inside the television, and he’s busy fighting in it.

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Nancy Reagan and Mr T? ….what? How have I gone my whole life and not seen this picture? I like how Mr T takes on the Santa Claus look, but brings in his own flavor to the ensemble with the sleevelessness and the gold chains.  Feels perfectly normal for Nancy to cop a squat on your lap as you hand out action figures molded to your likeness.

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Jack Nicholson…meet The Monkees.  Got to wonder how this meeting came to be.  Did Jack burst in on The Monkees all like “Here’s Johnny!…but seriously, could you play “Last Train to Clarksville?”

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The Monkees look uncomfortable here.  And if you’ve ever seen the opening credits to their television program, you know that the boys could get downright wacky.  Micky gets into a bathtub on wheels for cripes sake! And then Jack Nicholson bursts into their green room for a little jam sesh and all the guys look like they just got caught masturbating by their wives.  It doesn’t get anymore uncomfortable than this…until two hours and approximately thirty years later.

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This looks like the waiting room in hell. Sure, Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson, totally conceivable to see them in a room together, the creepy clown entourage…that comes with the territory.  Just kicking back with Jon Stewart over a few beers? How does that even happen?  Speaking of how the hell do things happen…who talked Meryl Streep into this catty one piece?  But that’s the power of the Streep, give her a stool and a broken cigarette and she’ll still get Oscar buzz.

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Social activist Martin Luther King having a laugh with Rat Pack entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.  In 1960  Davis married May Britt, a white woman.  Interracial marriages were illegal in 31 states, but it was perfectly legal in the state of New York.  Regardless, Frank Sinatra (a major supporter of Kennedy) was concerned that it would the future presidents chances at the polls; he insisted that Davis hold his wedding after the election took place.  And even afterwards, he was stricken from the list of performers for Kennedy’s inaugural ball. He was also bombarded with hate mail for years to come.  Years later, Davis caught a lot of criticism for hugging President Nixon, startling him during a live television broadcast.  Yes you can, Sammy Davis Jr? No actually you can’t.

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I can’t decide what I like most about this picture: that Roy Orbison is being pampered and fed by the Beatles, or the little kid at the bottom of this photo who at that present time is having a stroke from all the awesome going around in his living room.

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What I love about this picture in that you just know Cher has told Val Kilmer is to keep his mullet long and his trap shut.   She’s looking so engaged with this unseen individual, and Kilmer looks like he’s just bursting with fruit flavour with something over there.  A carefully constructed comment, an intelligent insight,  but more likely “Cher and I had sex and now we are in love!”

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Marilyn and Frank.  While these two never officially dated, they were old-school ‘friends with benefits’.  After Monroe and DiMaggio split, she came to stay with Frank (around the same time Sinatra was breaking up with dancer Juliet Prowse).  According to biographers they were strictly platonic until one morning when Sinatra came into the kitchen where Monroe was standing naked in from of the fridge looking for juice.  She said something along the lines of “Frankie–I didn’t think you’d be up so early”, and he responded by giving her a good rogering up against said refrigerator.  (He doesn’t usually get up that early, but can be easily encouraged).

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Frank was a good friend, but he’d never commit to being her full-time partner.  Monroe had wanted him to marry her, in a way to keep her safe, but Sinatra had his limits.  Monroe was not a low-maintenance gal, and famously needy. Just a week before Monroe died, she spent a weekend at the Cal-Neva Lodge, a casino that Frank Sinatra allegedly co-owned with mobster Sam Giancana. Amongst historians, this time is often known as “The Lost Weekend”.

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Marilyn was in a bad place. She had been fired from “Something’s Got to Give”, and had been dumped by Bobby Kennedy after being cast aside by John F. Kennedy.  She had sung her infamous “Happy Birthday Mr President”, in May of that year, and it was such a blatant insult to Jackie Kennedy that she refused to attend her husband’s birthday celebration.   (Bonus fun fact: Audrey Hepburn, who dated him briefly in the early 1950’s sang to JFK the following year).  By that weekend in July of 1962, both men had stopped returning Marilyn’s calls.  She had legitimately believed that one of those fine Catholic husbands intended to leave their wives and children for her.  She saw herself as the first lady; as a political wife.

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Marilyn had allegedly called Jackie to confess to the affair, and of her intentions. Jackie replied “Marilyn, you’ll marry Jack, that’s great. And you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibility of the first lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems”.  Only Jackie could be that cool under those circumstances.  Then again, she was more than aware of JFK’s rampant infidelity, and of Marilyn’s reputation. But out of all the President’s lovers, his relationship with this famous sex symbol was nearly too much to bear.  Even though Jackie herself was unimpressed with JFK’s sexual bravado, telling a longtime confidant: “he goes too fast and falls asleep”.  There were rumors that Monroe had fallen pregnant, but didn’t know which brother was responsible.  According to FBI documents, she was encouraged by Bobby to have an abortion, which she did on July 20, 1962.  Monroe was unraveling, and those involved with the Kennedy’s were deeply concerned that a rejected and unhinged Monroe would hold a press conference and reveal all.

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On July 28, 1962, Monroe arrived at the Cal-Neva Lodge and Casino, a grand getaway that straddled the state lines of Nevada and California.

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She arrived with Peter Lawford, whom she was not speaking to due to his Kennedy affiliations (though ironically, he was one of the last people she ever spoke to, he called to invite her to a party the night she died). They used Sinatra’s private plane but by the end of the weekend she was sent home in the same fashion.  Though she started off in good spirits, Monroe was like a water main fixing to burst, especially as the champagne and prescription cocktail began its toxic tailspin.  She was getting sloppy, making scenes, spilling secrets, she even overdosed in her famed Cabin 3. Apparently Sinatra had given photographers strict instructions to not snap them together;  Marilyn kept trying to…well photo-bomb him, which really ticked off Old Blue Eyes. As the weekend went on, she became increasingly intoxicated, obnoxious and indiscreet. Sinatra had to get rid of her.

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Like her death, the details about this weekend is shrouded in mystery.  This was her last public appearance, these are the last pictures of Monroe alive.  Depending on who you ask, Marilyn died at the Cal-Neva, in the famous round bed that was tossed in a dumpster after Sinatra sold the establishment.   Conspiracy theorists think it would have been easy enough.  With the combined forces of Sinatra, the Mafia and the Kennedy’s, moving a body would be easier than a quick game of golf, or a scotch and a cig whilst crooning with Dean and the crew.

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The Cal-Neva had once burned down, and all that remained of the previous structure was tunnels that ran under the buildings.  Many secrets passed along those passageways, mistresses, booze…why not a body?  With Sinatra at the helm, with his heli-pad and mafia connections, anything was possible.  His lodge and casino was made to be a secret celebrity playground where the press would never get wind of the kinky hi-jinks.

What the agents couldn’t see was what went on inside the Cal-Neva’s secluded bungalows after the opening night party had ended. Momo Giancana reportedly told his brother that he had been present at a Kennedy brothers slumber party that night at the Cal-Neva Casino. “The men,” he said, “had sex with prostitutes, sometimes two or more at a time, in bath-tubs, hallways, closets, on floors,almost everywhere but the bed.”(Quoted from the FBI Frank Sinatra files).

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Wow, you could really count on Sinatra being the best-ever host. Except if Frank gets even a hint that you are going to die on his premises, in his presence, he will have you removed.  And apparently Frank had no tolerance for narcotics, which was a problem for Marilyn as she carried a pharmacy at the bottom of her purse.

According to an article in the Daily Mail:

The list of drugs she was using by 1961 was staggering. She was taking the antipsychotic Thorazine for the borderline paranoid schizophrenia diagnosed by Dr Greenson, as well as the narcotic painkiller Demerol and barbiturates Phenobarbital, HMC and Amytal, along with large quantities of Nembutal, to which she was addicted, to help her sleep.  There were 15 bottles of pills on Marilyn’s night table when she died. She’d also developed the alarming habit of giving herself injections. A source who was very close to her recalls the concoction was of Phenobarbital, Nembutal and Seconal. ‘Marilyn referred to it as a vitamin shot,’ said the source. ‘Afterwards she would be gone, no longer able to function.’

mm sinatraIt was these ‘vitamin shots’ that drove Sinatra over the edge.  The President taking on two prostitutes at a time in the hall closet, that’s one thing…to stick a pin in your pills so it will get into your blood stream faster–that’s worth firing up the chopper over.  But in fairness, Sinatra had his allies to protect, and at the end of her life Marilyn was a danger to herself and those around her.

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Of course, there’s many theories about Monroe’s death, the many powerhouse players: The Kennedy’s, the Mafia, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, right down to her housekeeper Eunice, her publicist Pat Newcomb, (who went on to work for the Kennedy’s), and Dr Ralph Greenson, her psychiatrist.  Eunice called Greenson before she called the police. Another detail to fuel the conspiracy fire; Eunice had been fired once by Monroe, and Dr Greenson told her to rehire her.  Eunice had asked for holiday time for that August, and Monroe paid her for her time and asked her not to return after that holiday.  Marilyn paid her for her time, and Eunice’s  last day of employment was the last day of Monroe’s life.  Eunice tried to cash this cheque, written the day of Monroe’s passing, days after the death, but to no avail.

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Greenson, arguably one of the last people to see Monroe alive, claimed to have broken a bedroom window in her Brentwood Hacienda because he saw her body through the glass.   Apparently Marilyn’s bedroom had  heavy curtains that were closed, and that the doctor couldn’t have possibly seen her past the thick fabric.  There were rumors that she died in hospital, but was brought back home by ambulance.  A former Monroe lover claimed to have spoken with her on the phone; but she put the phone down to check on a disturbance, and never came back.  This was around 9pm, and coroner’s reports claim that she died somewhere between 9 and 11pm.  On that night, there was a significant buzz of concern around Monroe; someone had called her lawyer, who then called Monroe’s house. He spoke with Eunice who claimed that Marilyn was fine without actually checking on her.

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Eunice was the keeper of information who couldn’t keep a story straight if her life depended on it.  She said the door was locked, and then later said there was no lock on the door, she said she saw a light on in the middle of the night, which was also impossible as the carpeting was thick and imposing.  She first said no one was there, then later said Bobby Kennedy arrived on the scene with two mysterious men.  Then when police did show up, Marilyn was face-down in the pillow, her body straight as an arrow, as if she had been placed there. And there’s Eunice, doing a load of laundry in the middle of the night, which is the queerest thing: (Hey lady, your boss is dead, you don’t have to clean anymore).  Over the years, she changed her story a number of times, wrote a book, was interviewed for a documentary and was overheard making a remark about ‘still having to cover things up’.  Nobody followed up on that, and she died in 1994, taking the truth to her grave.

mm bedroomThere are holes in stories, dangerous affiliates, an incorrectly done autopsy, sloppy police work…there’s reason to believe that Marilyn was murdered, or that there was a cover up.  Then again, this was a woman with a history of overdoses and suicide attempts who gave herself barbiturate enemas based on advice from Mae West.  Not to say she was suicidal either.  She had just signed a multi-million dollar contract, and was rehired to complete “Something’s Got to Give”–which was a rather appropriate title, given her condition.

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Joe DiMaggio claimed her body and took great pains to exclude Sinatra and the rest of Hollywood from the funeral services.  While Sinatra took equal measures to distance himself from Monroe, he arrived at the Westwood Village Mortuary Chapel on August 8 in an $800 black suit, but was turned away by security.  In the years that followed, Sinatra was heavily criticized, that he had the means to save her life but he turned her away, as had everyone else. But the thing about Marilyn is that girlfriend couldn’t even help herself. And you can’t help someone who can’t help themselves. She was doomed long before the Lost Weekend.  Said George Jacobs, valet at Cal-Neva:

Frank Sinatra didn’t know what to think about any of it. He was upset, though. He loved Marilyn, yes. But for her to maybe die at Cal-Neva while he was there? That would have been terrible. So he said: ‘Get her out of here and get her out of here now.’ And that was it. We had to do what he said. I mean, the woman was sick. But as compassionate as Sinatra was, he had a line and she crossed it.”

Marilyn-and-Frank-Sinatra-marilyn-monroe-15189170-875-700All Images Courtesy of Google

Musical Car Crashes & the Slutty Snooze Button

I’ve gotten into the habit of getting up early and…well, mostly I’ve been going to bed around 9:00pm, and waking up at 6:00am, because we are still sleeping on the air mattress in the living room, and Benjamin likes to watch breakfast television while he has his toast and coffee.  While I was sick, I would toodle off to the bedroom and flop down on the bed for another hour or so.  But then I was getting pretty slutty with the snooze button.

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Officially committing to physically abandoning the bed happened around 7:15am. Technically, I should be out the door around 7:45am, but I get pretty slutty with my E-T-D’s as well, so there’s a very solid chance that when the 8:00am news starts, I am still on the highway.  The good news is I am very up to date on my current affairs, which is altogether enlightening and depressing.  After this quick run-through of all the death, war, crime, injustice and corruption, I park the mini-van and head off to spent the day with children.

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And bless all these little ones, running around like drunk little midgets, in tiny little pants, crying for their mothers and calling their yoghurt “yogies”. You gotta wonder what the government, environment, the general state of humanity will be by the time these slobbering, sticky fingered, little yogie spillers are my age.  And then…there’s that crushing responsibility of having any part in molding young minds.  And you really wish you had not been so slutty with the snooze button, and had started the day on a brighter note.

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Lately, I’ve been up at 630am, and it’s pretty blissful to have time in the morning.  After a leisurely coffee, I putter about, listen to the radio, and do a few housekeeping duties, or answer a few emails.  But then I get Girls Gone Wild  with my spare time, and then I have to do an Olympic speed walk through the parking lot to the minivan, and am made to face the news again.  But, I’m far more relaxed, less rushed, and I can take things like, oh the collapse of the American government, with a bigger grain of salt.

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Things are achieved before work, and then I get home for a half-hour around lunchtime, and I also take care of a little business then as well.  So, come time when the work day is done, I can come home and have spare time on my hands.  Time well spent, I think, drinking a rather large glass of red wine while Googling Ryan Gosling memes.

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My husband is working late, and I am busy with “work”, which means getting increasingly drunk, while blogging and perving on Ryan Gosling photos.

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Oh Ryan.  It gives you a little faith in this dark world, seeing  things like this.

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Don’t worry Ryan, I’m not going anywhere…I’ll just bring the wine bottle into the office so I never have to leave you again.  Or…about ten seconds before my bladder bursts.  Finally Benjamin called.  He wasn’t coming home for a while as he was going to the pub with a workmate.  This is exciting news.  Now was I off the hook for making dinner, and was free to cyber stalker Mr Gosling and then do some drunk blogging.  It’s also nice that Benjamin is meeting people, and making friends.  I do wonder how men approach one another and make friends.  And I want for my husband what any woman does.  I want him to meet a nice young man.

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I was pleased to hear that he was going out.  But I hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be one of those “Hangover” type situation, where he calls me from a drunk tank in Tijuana. He had committed to staying up until 10:00pm to watch the very special of Glee, where Cory Monteith‘s “Finn” dies.

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I don’t really even watch “Glee”, this show is like that person you knew in high-school that you never talked to but always smiled at.  Yet I am so curious as to how they are going to handle this situation.  It will be like a train wreck of music and emotion. A musical car crash.  And I am going to be there with a box of tissues and whatever is in the bottom of the wine bottle.    So this can mean one of two things.  That Benjamin has met a nice man and is chatting about men stuff over a few pints at the pub, or that he made the story up to avoid watching “Glee” and is sitting alone at the bar while I sob myself into a Glee-induced Coma.

alonein-a-barHe’s since come home…and wondering where that delicious stir fry I promised I’d make, while I was commending his decision to go out for a pint.  When I was fresh from the grocery store and feeling like a productive wife.  Before the red wine and drunk blogging.  And now it’s nearly 8:00pm and I should have been to bed hours ago.  Damn you Ryan Gosling, you did this to me damn you!  I know I said I would stay here forever, but I’ve got a pressing stir-fry. But thanks for the dreamy eyes and positive affirmations.  They need to put these on the ceiling at the dentist and gynecologist offices.  Because sometimes, your spirits just need a lift.

ryan gosling glassesImages Courtesy of Google