Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Camille Paglia in Chicago

I saw her last night at a book signing in the Harold Washington Library. I first read Paglia in 1993 while skiing my brains out and working as a waitor in one of the ski resorts of Winter Park, Colorado. That winter was a template for my adult life since: filling every day with intense physical and mental exercise. Work, ski, read, repeat!

You can hear Paglia speak online at NPR.

There's a lot already said about Paglia, and she's not short of words to describe herself either. So I'll just relate this personal anecdote. Seeing her on stage, she unexpectedly reminded me of someone from my past, one of my mother's best friends of 30 years, and one of my first professors in college, Dr. Joan Ferrell. A forcefully creative woman and a raucous feminist in the farm and coal towns of Southern Illinois, Joan had wit and intelligence that she matched with an outspoken demeanor - very energetic - and theatrically expressive.

I'm glad I saw Paglia last night, and I'm glad to have been reminded that I know first hand that my small town had its great people.

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

Before she was the keeper of a dream, she was a young woman in love with a man who would share her life's work and change the world.

Coretta Scott King (d. January 30, 2006)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Happy Birthday Etta James!

MAGNIFICENT. "At last / my love has come along..."
IMPERIOUS. "Don't let the sun find you cryin / cryin at my front door / you done mama dirty / she don't want you no more ... oh baby you can wail / beat your head on the pavement / til the man come and throw you in jail / But don't let the sun find you crying at my front door."
AFFLICTED. "These foolish things remind me of you."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sister Clara Slain by the Spirit

To my friends Kurt, Dennis, Harry, and Michael: "It's not Sunday morning if Sister Clara's not slain by the spirit!"

Dialog from The Fighting Temptations (2003) with Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyonce Knowles, and the Reverend Shirley Ceasar.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Exit stage left, pursued by lobster

After experimenting with mescaline in his twenties, Jean-Paul Sartre believed for the rest of his life that he was being stalked by a lobster. Thanks to Johann Hari for this bit of reflection on JP's life to commemorate his centenary in 2005.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Nicholas Wind on the New York Times

Just wanted to give credit to Nicholas Wind for bringing me back to my senses. I've been blissed out - mostly - for five days since the New Year festivities - and beginning 2006 in a state of weird and eerie ease - like when the meds kick in - and you thought you buried the demons of 2005 - but they're back - and it's all becoming clear again. Nick's got a few rounds of hear-clearing ammunition. Thank you Nicholas.

"Don't mistake paradise for a pair of long legs"

I can't believe it, but I just saw Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) for the first time ever over this morning's coffee. This teen movie is like Sixteen Candles meets I Shot Andy Warhol. Mary Stuart Masterson plays (yet another) lesbian-inflected straight girl (love that). But she's got a crush on sensitive artist Eric Stoltz who plays Dante to Lea Thompson's Beatrice.

I wouldn't count this entertaining if she hadn't told Dante: "Don't mistake paradise for a pair of long legs!" I'm not going to say this teen philosopher nailed the crux of a Metaphysical Horror. But isn't it kinda true that instead of a vision of ideal femininity, what most men really get is lotsa gawky genderphuck and plucky little tomboys in men's boxers? OMG! Mary was so cayoot!!

Monday, January 02, 2006

"Live out your fantasy here with me"

Of course I begin my first post by quoting Madonna from her world number one hit single Into the Groove. In the eternal course of time, you can interrupt the present moment with very few statements that pose a lower risk of disturbing the universe. So yes, I use Madonna to interrupt your fantasy and invite you over to mine.

And she's good for more than that. If I had to account for my past up to this point of posting on a blog over coffee, then I suppose I should include some blurbage about "living the fantasy" and some more about "the groove." What could be a more apt summation of the goings on?

Last night I began my new year at Berlin dance club in Chicago. Berlin hosts Madonna Night the first Sunday of every month, and happily, the rites of Madonna coincided with the holiday. Shortly after midnight, my friend Mark won a copy of the new CD Confessions on a Dance Floor. When the DJ offered the CD as a prize to anyone who could answer his trivia question, Mark knew the answer, but he already had his, so I was the surprise beneficiary. "What Madonna single reached number one around the world but was never released in the US?" Into the Groove. Thanks Mark!