Thursday, March 6, 2014
One of my favorite books is Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer . I read it many years ago and can hardly remember either the entire plot or why I love it so. What I do remember are certain speeches that were appropriate then and now. I've kept them all these years and now I have a blog where I can share them.
The third quote is the most pertinent for me. The search is everything. The first two quotes are, sadly, true, true, true.
–Walker Percy, The Moviegoer “I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen. When it does at last dawn on a man that you really want to hear about his business, the look that comes over his face is something to see.”
“Ours is the only civilization in history which has enshrined mediocrity as its national ideal. Others have been corrupt, but leave it to us to invent the most undistinguished of corruptions. What is new is that in our time liars and thieves and whores and adulterers wish also to be congratulated by the great public, if their confession is sufficiently psychological or strikes a sufficiently heartfelt and authentic note of sincerity. Oh, we are sincere. I do not deny it. I don't know anybody nowadays who is not sincere.”
The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life…. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.
On a personal note: I fell last week and messed up my left arm. I discovered it's nice to act feeble and sit around and look dazed. This morning I said to myself, it's time to get up and act normal.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Clotted cream, crème fraiche
Last night a friend brought a dessert that was everything that I find delicious. First it had lemon in it and also cream and it was all real (home made) no funny stuff. I think the cream was what the British call clotted. If you want to sound smart and sophisticated in any conversation just use two phrases. Even if they make no conversational sense and you are eating a pork chop say, “clotted cream” or “crème fraiche.” Those around you will start re-computing your IQ and EQ. You can also throw in “chagrinned.”
As for my love of lemon, once I made rice with only lemon juice and no water. Don’t try this at home because you will get rice gum (it tastes fantastic to a lemon freak but your guests might pause or even leave). Lemon tends to gelatinize things I found out. Oh, and by the way, I finally learned something useful from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. She said that using mustard in salad dressing helps to emulsify the lemon and oil. I tried it and it is true. Previously, I couldn’t get the lemon and olive oil to end their stand-off however mustard does the trick.
And Andy Warhol
A person I would be happy to live with full time would be Andy Warhol. I was reading his diaries as I often do for inspiration and comfort. I realized that we share the same blurty, ADD, hard to follow thinking process that makes perfect sense to the speaker but annoys and confuses those around us. Here are a couple of examples from my favorite book The Andy Warhol Diaries. Andy dictated the diaries every morning to his assistant to keep a record of his activities and the expenses they generated. His assistant compiled all the entries into the Diaries.
The entry below is from May 22, 1984.
“Jean Michel came down to the office early. He was reading his big review in the Voice. They called him the most promising artist on the scene. And at least they didn’t mention me and say he shouldn’t be hanging around with me the way the New York Times did.
I opened up one of the boxes in the back that’s being moved and it had ……letters from Ray Johnson the artist and I think my bloodstained clothes from when I was shot.
I realized the reason Tony Shafrazi hasn’t gotten even one of the artists in his gallery into MOMA is because Tony’s the person who defaced Picasso’s Guernica. But that’s not fair. Keith Haring isn’t at MOMA. And they have just one thing of mine, the little Marilyn. I just hate that. That bothers me.
Then in the afternoon I went to Doc Cox’s (cab $7) and I protested over the thermometer that they used because it just sits there in water and everybody uses it, it’s not right. And Rosemary took my blood pressure but I have a feeling they just throw these tests out. And they have a new heart machine so now I don’t have to run up and down the stairs in the hallway to get my heart going – it’s a big improvement. And Freddy won’t take your blood if she doesn’t know you.
….After dinner ($120) at Hisae and drinks at Jezebel’s we went over to Stuart Pivar’s because he was having people over and I wanted to learn about art. I brought a small bronze and Stuart said it was a piece of junk, so tomorrow I’m returning it.”
An Amazon reviewer gave the book one star and commented “Incoherent ramblings for 1,000,000 pages. “
They are perfectly coherent to me.
Another one-star review called it “Boring and Self Indulgent.”
“Warhol's prose is horrible considering the creative mind he posseses (sic). I bought it used (thank God) and was bored to tears reading about taxi rides and what so-and-so was wearing. It was like reading a dreadfully boring gay man's blog. A bio on this character would be much more enlightening and a much less waste of time.”
A wise patient person commented on the bad review and said, “This isn't a bad book, you just weren't sure what to think of it: it confused you, so you don't like it.”
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
You know when something is so over stimulating that you can’t take it in from moment to moment? You take some of it in but so much of it spills over that you go into emotional Aspergers meaning your system sputters. My system was sputtering so much I could feel molecules rearranging while watching the tribute to the Beatles last Sunday night
Well heck, Yoko Ono, seated in the front row, was standing practically the whole time and I needed to stand up, too. Yoko Ono was dancing around and waving her arms so I started dancing around and waving my arms. Yoko Ono was doing some lame/cool moves. I pretended I could do some cool moves. Even Tom Hanks was grooving (ugh is that word even anything?) and so was Rita Wilson.
I tried to keep my eyes on Paul and Ringo to see their reactions to each group on stage. Paul kept mouthing the lyrics like a parent with a kid in the school musical. He clapped politely to a few songs but then Annie Lennox sang Fool On the Hill “The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still.” Then that cool porkpie hat wearing Dave Stewart (with whom Annie had some serious emotional baggage and estrangement) came sauntering downstage strumming his guitar. Paul was very happy. Paul and Ringo stood up and cheered for Annie and Dave. Paul stood up and sent kisses to a few. Can you imagine how that might feel? I’m sure I would fall down.
When some of the musicians were doing guitar solos (there was a lot of that) Paul and Ringo were sort of nodding as if to say, “yeah, that’s about right, keep going.”
Although their wives sat next to Paul and Ringo, there was no interaction between husbands and wives – not even a glance. There were no nudges, no sharing of this night. This was for them alone and their two dead colleagues. I kept wondering how Nancy Shevell (in print they still call her Nancy Shevell although legally she is Nancy McCartney. “Paul and wife, Nancy Shevell enjoy a splash in the sea.”) likes being married to Paul. Does he ever look at her? Does he? Huh? Does he? Yoko brought her son Sean who is all bearded and long-haired. Olivia Harrison, George’s widow was there with their son Dhani who performed with one of the acts. Olivia looked excited but she stayed in her seat.
The New York Times said some of the performances were tense and studious. I think Maroon 5 fit that category. Maroon 5 opened the show with All My Loving and Ticket to Ride. Adam Levine looked incredibly neat and contained with his hair all slick as he sang, “I think I’m gonna be sad I think it’s today, yeah.” But that was better than those that went all radical interpretation. Just sing the songs we know.
There were several misses. Katy Perry sounded awful. I don’t know if I can forgive her for ruining Yesterday and not because she changed the gender in the lyrics. Her rendition was strained and unmelodious. Alicia Keys over pronounced and over emoted Let It Be (a song that needs zero embellishment) facing John Legend over dual pianos. Stevie Wonder warned that he was going to fool around with We Can Work It Out but I liked his familiar Stevie Wonder style on “Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.”
John Mayer and Keith Urban stood out for awkwardness. The collaboration ended with a guitar jam that went on too long and made Keith contort himself in a human comma. For some reason that I can’t define, I want Keith Urban to succeed. Maybe it’s for Nicole and that whole crazy Tom Cruise phase with the adopted children and the Eyes Wide Shut movie of erotic gamesmanship directed by Stanley Kubrick who died a week after completing the edit. John Mayer did not help Nicole’s husband look good. John all but ignored Keith even though Keith was playing his heart out. The song they sang, one of my favorites, Don’t Let Me Down, was just okay. I remember seeing a u-tube video of a father and his two-year-old belting out the same song and it was wonderful. The baby screaming the line (with perfect diction) “don’t let me down,” after his dad and then trying to complete, “nobody ever loved me like she does.” I think it came out “bady lala she does. Yes, she does.”
When it was the boys’ turn, Paul and Ringo hit it out of the park. Ringo came out looking like a champ. He was gracious, relaxed and in good physical and musical form. Paul and Ringo each did a few songs alone and then came together for Hey Jude. Paul invited the audience to sing with him. We were happy to oblige. “Na na na na na na na.”
Monday, February 10, 2014
I would divide the world into two kinds of people. Those who think about food and three square meals as a bible of living.
Those who don’t consider food thoughts as a top three daily enterprise - like sleeping or breathing or watching “My teen is pregnant and so am I.”
People who are meal traditionalists parse their day into - breakfast, lunch and dinner. They ask food questions. “Have you had lunch yet?” “What are you going to do about dinner?”
For a non-foodie, they might as well ask, “What are you going to do about your pancreas?” that’s how improbable it is they would have an answer.
|Do you have a plan for me?|
The foodies make social interaction and eating an inseparable duo. “Let’s have lunch,” is the default for visiting with another.
The non-foodie likes to invoke the 19th century. People came over in the afternoon with a calling card. They sat in the parlor and had tea or lemonade. They snooped to see if the Mrs. had better stuff. On the bottom of wedding announcement it said, “at home, 1217 Park Avenue” (my first married address). That was a way of saying “Come on over with your crazy calling card and check it out.” You were served tea and maybe a cookie.
Some foodies live on the dark side. They don’t think about three meals a day because their day is one continuous snack. They have no time frame or they are done with the idea that because of some horrid societal trick they must have an interval between meals.
Non-foodies are worn down by the relentlessness of the food hunt. Yes, we’re still hunting only now it’s called Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or The Food Emporium instead of the frozen tundra.
|We just need a veggie and|
a complex carb and we're
good to go.
For non-foodies it is a burden, burden, burden.
|Anybody know a good chiropractor?|
What do they mean by burden? You know, something heavy tied around your neck and around your brain that you can’t put down.
The non-foodies are resentful because they are considered the odd ones. Are you in love with walking down that supermarket aisle and staring at the row of red meats some of which have bled through their wrappings? Or the frozen breaded nuggets? Or the packaged bread that promises 84 Grains but is only playing with you.
If you ever want to cry for humanity enter any supermarket and walk down the packaged pudding aisle.
No one starts out as a foodie. Most children dread the dinner table where they are exhorted to eat huge mounds of stuff that two crazy big people have put on their plates.
No one starts out as a foodie. Most children dread the dinner table where they are exhorted to eat huge mounds of stuff that two crazy big people have put on their plates.
|Help! Two giants are trying to kill me!|
Foodies will spend an entire Saturday making a Ginger Bread House out of (yes) ginger bread.
Let's not forget that Hansel and Gretel were fattened for the kill in just such a house.
An interesting new wrinkle for foodies are the relentless stream of cooking shows that are leaching the cooking need out of them while still maintaining the entertainment value. I watch an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, enjoy the visuals and I’m satisfied to lunch on a peanut butter sandwich.
It's been a long winter and this is the best I could come up with for now.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
(The quotes below are taken randomly from my favorite book. http://tinyurl.com/mh7xly8) Is this shameless marketing? Yes.
My life is like food I have purchased that clearly says, ‘refrigerate after opening,’ and I keep glancing at it on the shelf and think, ‘oh yeah, I really should refrigerate that.’
You have only to remember Willa Cather’s My Mortal Enemy where there’s a realization at the end of life that the person you’ve been living with is your mortal enemy. And suppose the person is you? Of course it’s you. Now that I think about it, it has to be you. That’s why you have to take care of these things while you still have a chance. You don’t want your dying words to be, “Oh, bummer! The murderer? It was me all along.”
I was no better than The Manchurian Candidate when I got married. I had a chip inside me that was like a homing missile.I think I had no sense of safety. Yes, I’m sure that’s it. Back then, women had no sense of safety unless they were married.
I looked for my old thought catalogue: this house is falling apart I can’t stop eating Katie Couric looked good on The View. I haven’t been outdoors in two days the lawn needs cutting the big tree in back is going to fall over and kill me where is my hairbrush I’m afraid of taking Tylenol p.m. because I might not wake up my feet still look good the gutters are filled and there’s no one stable enough to climb a ladder and get them out I can't stop looking at J.Lo I need a manicure and a pedicure my eyebrows need shaping the ground turkey that is a staple has been recalled but I already ate it I love Alec Baldwin why did I think I could manage my own brokerage account if I thought about the money I’ve lost, it would make me pass out and why did I sell the New York apartment so soon when now it’s worth five times more the rich guy next door has the loudest air conditioner I’ve ever heard and it runs 24/7 he waters his lawn so much there’s a perennial puddle in front of my house where mosquitoes are breeding by the millions but I am annoying the neighbor on the other side with my huge tree that sheds leaves and other debris all summer long and keeps his driveway filled with stuff and oh, the kids.
I have given up on too much. I have said “okay” to the absence of nurturing work and real intimacy and a reliance on love as a hub of life.
While I’m talking about scent assaults, I may as well call your attention to the soap Lever 2000. I went up to my second floor one day because I smelled the overpowering scent of cheap perfume mixed with stale sweat. I thought a cologne-crazed robber might be hiding up there. The smell was suffocating and it was coming from an unwrapped bar of Lever 2000. I began to feel nauseous and had to take it far out of the house and throw it away. I would vote for any candidate that would outlaw perfumed soaps, shampoos or anything else. Thank god for scent-free All.
At the check out, the woman in front of me had every item I would never buy and yet I wished I knew her.
What kind of person buys this at Walmart: individual packets of Whiskas, Shout Out, Pringles, Devil Dogs and miniature-sized lemon-scented S.O.S. pads. If you’re picturing overweight and slovenly, forget it. She was thin as a rail and neat as a pin. I knew this much about her: she doted on her cat, she could tolerate fake scents, she took her snacks seriously and she didn’t need Real Simple Magazine to give her any bs ‘aha’ ways to get stains out. This woman had chosen everything in her basket with a purpose and knew exactly what she was going to do with each item whereas my purchases were random and impulse driven. I wanted to ask her what was the worst stain she had dissolved with Shout Out and if the miniature S.O.S. pads were a better value. What came to mind as I waited for her to pay was how appropriate it was for Spiro Agnew to have called us “an effete corps of impudent snobs” to characterize the East Coast intellectual voting block. This woman (who might be a Harvard-educated neuroscientist for all I know) was exactly why people like my friend Delores seldom got their candidate elected. She represented the whole big other section of American life and it’s their America, too.
Friday, January 24, 2014
The other day I
was looking for a pair of shoes I hadn’t thought of in five years and stumbled
on a huge stack of fabric yardage that I hadn’t thought of in eleven
By stack I mean
a Kansas wheat silo tall column.
|only fabric inside|
Wow, I thought this good fabric could help me reinvent my house. When I say re-invent, I don’t mean it would turn my house into a thoroughbred horse but it would help my abode look almost as elegant and promising.
Dimly I remember that I had the very same thought when I stashed the fabric in this attic closet for safekeeping as if the huns were paying a visit to East Hampton to take it away from me.
|I'm coming for the fabric|
I chose a large roll of black and white plaid seersucker and decided to slipcover my yard sale one-and-a-half chair. Do I know how to sew a slipcover? Sort of if sort of means I’ve never done it but I saw some pictures in a book written in 1964 and put out by The Singer Sewing Machine company titled “How To Make A Slipcover.”
This is the place where I use the word counterintuitive which means something is exactly the opposite of what your good sense is telling you because as I read through this little book, no more than a pamphlet, I find that you have to pin everything on the furniture inside out and when you sew it inside out you also have to include something called piping that is made ahead of time out of yet another gazillion yards of fabric (cut on the bias and stitched together to make a mile or two of this piping.) When you invert the finished product this piping is acting as a sturdy border around every seam.
|you need about a mile of piping|
The next thing I learn about making a slipcover is that even if you only have a 12 inch footstool to cover it takes a gazillion yards to cut the pattern especially if the fabric also has a pattern and has to be matched.
This is the point in the project where my left brain is saying “Perhaps on your first try you should choose a solid color because matching the pattern on a curved back chair might be a tad beyond your ability.” My right brain is picturing a garden with everything in bloom and lots of ceramic lawn mushrooms sheltering bunnies and squirrels. My right brain is seeing childlike happiness.
Really, need I continue with this post? Will Jesus turn my ten yards of plaid seersucker into a well-fitting pattern-matched slipcover with perfect piping all around the way he turned water into superb wine at the wedding feast at Cana? What do you think? What Oscar Wilde said about marriage can apply to this project: the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
(Viking/Penguin offered me The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, an Oprah book club selection for review)
I grew up in Washington, D.C. still very much a southern town in my early childhood. I remember accompanying my beloved Corinne Griffith (who worked for my family) to her segregated part of the beach because I preferred her company. Even then as a tiny girl, I felt the risk of defying convention. I brought those memories with me to read this story of Sarah and Hetty - an heiress and her slave in the city of Charleston, South Carolina in the early 1800’s.
The book is an expertly researched fictionalized version of the life of Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina, who rebuffed their upbringing and religion to become notorious as the first female abolitionists speaking and writing in favor of liberty and equality not only for slaves but for women.
Where the novel diverges from the true story is, for me, it’s heart. Here the story is of two girls and two families. Sarah’s family, powerful and wealthy withdraw any support for her realization and ridicule her ambitions. Hetty’s mother, with neither power or funds to support her, instills a grim strength in Hetty to never succumb to captivity or part with one iota of herself.
This is an emotional book filled with symbols and spirits and outcomes that make the reader weep. Ms. Kidd shows us what has to be the truth of owning another human being - the fear of losing the power leaches all humanity out of the owners and allows them to rule with blind cruelty.