Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It's Tribeca Film Fest time in New York (or at least it was when I began this post) and Alison scored a couple of tickets to a show of our choice. We looked at the list and lazily chose the one that 'opens with a shot of a five-year-old using a typewriter to describe in great detail how he became blind at birth. The next scene is Antoine receiving a phone call from Madame Rouski, who dissolved into the water while taking a shower.' Okay, then.

We stopped at Shake Shack before the film and, to be honest, were about 3 seconds away from ditching the fest altogether for a drink at that bar that gives you plush red robes to wear on the garden roof while you sip martinis and stare at the Empire State Building from a comparable height. But we didn't. We went to the film. And thank goodness.

Antoine is a gorgeous little French Canadian film about a five year old boy with a big imagination and a director that lets it run. While the film reads as a documentary, it is in fact a work of fiction as the director cuts a flawless seam between real life and Antoine's imagination. He gets up, goes to school, plays in the gym, then is suddenly driving a car and solving mysteries via cell phone.

The director was there for a question and answer session apres la film (as was Antoine via Skype!) and told the story of how the film came about. She met Antoine at the school at which she worked and knew at once that there was a story there. But instead of telling the story is it is (Antoine is blind and has learned to see with his hands and ears and mouth) she told it as he sees it.

Antoine, therefore, melds school time and pretend time on his cell phone as only a child understands. Yes it is make-believe but it is also his life. It's really quite darling and really quite prolific.

The film is small, so small that you may in fact never see it. And a great shame that will be because Antoine is a character that will touch you deeply. He will make you smile and giggle and clutch your chest with happiness as he pronounces French philosophy in whispers. It's simply enjoyable film making.

Je te trouverais, Madame Rouski.
N'as pas de peur, si'l te plait.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Oh, SWINTON. You have improved my life in so many ways. I have become so enamored by your bizarre sense of the avant-garde that the medium size blog pic wouldn't do, I actually chose large just now when every other post has gotten medium. Only for you, SWINTON.

Tilda Swinton, or SWINTON as she has been deemed worthy, entered my life via the Fug Girls a few weeks ago. Since then I have been slightly obsessed (quite obsessed) with reading up on her personal life and professional activity. As Annie would say, the girl is a Looney Toon. As Katie would say, she's total nuts. Nuts4Nuts, actually (which is Katie's favorite food. And if you live in New York you think that's really funny). And we love her.

For proof, enter seven reasons that SWINTON has improved humanity:

1. This outfit that she wore to the 2008 Oscars when she won for Best Supporting Actress. What at first glance is nothing but a garbage bag for an amputee is actually a statement of high fashion and well thought genuis. Lanvin commented that he made this gown specifically for Tilda Swinton because he knew she would win and therefore wanted to give the world nothing but an arm to hold that statue. Its my favorite Oscar gown to date.

2. She founded a film fest for which this is the Wikipedia description:

A while ago, on an impulse, a quixotic seizure, Tilda Swinton rented a ballroom in an old Victorian stone building in Nairn in the North East of Scotland, a seaside town where Charlie Chaplin used to holiday and which has a balmy microclimate.

After renting the Ballerina, Swinton took Mark Cousins to see the place – they were making a wee film about being 8 1/2 and falling in love with cinema – and he loved it and so, together, they dreamt up a festival of beanbags on the floor, that would run 8 1/2 days, that would be a 6 out of ten on the grunge scale, that would serve home-made cakes and fish finger sandwiches, whose tickets would be £3/£2,or free if you took a tray of home-baking, and that would transform the Ballerina into something like a ghost train.

She is SO FREAKING COOL. Also, did SWINTON herself write that paragraph for Wikipedia?! Sounds like it. And if not, can I PLEASE hire whomever did to write my life's story someday? At any rate, I want to go to this festival very, very badly.

3. She lives in Nairn, a small escapist town in the Scotish Highlands, far away from Hollywood and the British press. That is a good enough point on its own, but to top it, she lives with her Husband who is a very fabulous painter, and her twin son and daughter Xavier and Honor. (Aren't those just the most perfect SWINTON names you could think of!?). And if THAT weren't enough, she also spends much of her time with her husband-approved-lover, another painter named Sandro. Therefore, her marriage is polyamorous but platonic. When asked about the situation, SWINTON answers, "It’s the way we have been for nearly four years. I’m very fortunate. It takes some extraordinary men to make a situation like that work." Also note that she uses the word 'extraordinary' which is really cool.

4. The fore-mentioned Fug Girls once spoke of SWINTON like this:

I've often felt like SWINTON would be a welcome addition to the fictional team of celebrity life coaches I have assembled for myself. Like, Tim Gunn is clearly on that team, because he would give me kind yet constructive criticism whenever I did something that concerned him. And Kelly Clarkson would be there for when I decided I needed a super-catchy anthem about a boy I hate (or love to hate. Or hate to love). And SWINTON would be around in case I needed someone to grab me and say, "TREASURE THE AVANT-GARDE. I CAN PULL IT OFF AND SO CAN YOU!" (She would be wrong about my being able to pull it off, but it would be nice and supportive.)

I couldn't agree more, Fug Girls. I just couldn't agree more.

5. In addition to being an absolutely extraordinary (see, I can use the word too, SWINTON!) actor, SWINTON is also a performance artist. What type of performance artist, you ask? Well...

A few years ago she slept (or pretended to sleep) in a glass case for a few weeks for public viewing in London. That's right. SHE SLEPT IN A GLASS CASE FOR A FEW WEEKS FOR PUBLIC VIEWING IN LONDON. Can you see any other actor taking this leap into the deeper meaning of performance? Like, can you see Jennifer Aniston in this box? I love crazy art like this. And I love you, SWINTON, for being this crazy.

6. This photo spread in Another magazine. Thank you, fashion, for allowing this to happen. She looks coo-coo-crazy and LOVES fashion, but only super intense avant-garde fashion like Victor & Rolf and Lanvin. She likes wearable art and isn't afraid of looking a bit off. (Also, she kind of looks like a mix between Clay Aiken and a super pale alien but somehow manages to be jaw-droppingly beautiful and chic at the same time. Extraordinary.)

7. I recently had a conversation with my sister Laura in which I was a little down and confused about my life until I remembered SWINTON. We both decided that if Tilda Swinton had the same problem she would never waste precious brain power and emotional energy contimlating it. Move on, she would say. Walk proud and unashamed and embrace the avant-garde! (In my mind she is contastantly reminding us to embrace the avant-garde.) Laura was laughing so hard she was in tears that I found my strength in Tilda Swinton, but whatever. Everyone needs a muse.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Next to Normal

Next to Normal is a musical about a woman with bi-polar disorder. Yeah, I know. What?

I saw this stunning production on Broadway last Monday (my sincere apologies for my tardiness in blog posts, its been sunny in New York and blogging just can't be done in the sunlight.) with Carey and just fell into it. It is the best musical I've seen since Spring Awakening.

In fact, I wish that shows like Hedda Gabler, Becky Shaw, White Christmas, Speed the Plow, and West Side Story would come take a few notes from Next to Normal in terms of set design and artistic presentation. Next to Normal had the best set I've seen since Equus and the best artistic concept since, I don't know, London a few years ago.

Everything else on Broadway right now needs to come observe the BRILLIANCE of a set dreamt from an 'idea of a house' and not just 'a pretend house.' There is a difference, Becky Shaw. They all need to take a written exam on conceptual theater and the effects of 'thoughtful design' verses 'sets that look like houses.' We know its a house. Give us something else to look at.

The show itself was phenomenal and the story could not have been more resonant. I cried the entire time (really, I did. Ask Carey.) and am not even going to touch on the importance of this story. It is in essence about a family and about marriage and about mental illness. It was funny, it was sad, and it was just incredibly well done. The facial expressions coming from the mother were dead-on heartbreaking. Just so very realistic and biting in terms of mania.

Next to Normal gave me real hope for the future of theater and Broadway. I am sick of the cookie cutter musical song and dance, and Next to Normal proved that music and musical theater still have a very real place in storytelling. This show would have been nothing without the musical element and for that I am extremely grateful.

Go see it. Katie and Maria did so the next night and they will say the same thing. It's heartbreaking in the way we need our hearts to be broken.

Note: You are probably wondering how I afford all of these fabulous activities on my modest little art salary. Well, my friends, that's what friends are for. I have a friend who writes for a theater website who gets free press passes and then generously takes me as her plus one. I also have friends who get free dvds before they are released in theater. I also have friends who get free screening passes for new independent films. I also have free trade dinners in Chelsea from my work. So, you see, I paid $0 for Next to Normal. Just so you know.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Valentino: The Last Emperor

Allison, John, and I ran to Film Forum in the pouring rain on Movie Monday to catch the limited released documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor. It was another one of those films that generated applause at its closing and the three of us adored it.

We expected a film about fashion, but we got was a film about a man. A wonderful man! A lovely, stubborn, and important man. A man who cares about beauty above all else and has no idea the work behind the industry that he leads. An interesting man.

Valentino stepped into the world of fashion in the fifties when Rome and Paris still utilized those long avenues for prancing about in big hats and diamonds and evening wear. Remember that episode of I Love Lucy when Lucy and Ethel are in Paris (the European episodes were the best, weren't they?) and they make dresses out of trash bags and try to pull it off as high fashion? It was like that. The days where you could really sit in a cafe and see somewhat of a fashion show walking by... the days of the promenade, I suppose.

Valentino, however, never really left that world. The rest of us did (have you been to Fifth Avenue lately? The Champs Elysees? The Gap, Abercrombie, H&M, Ann Taylor!? They are promenades no more, people.) but Valentino was able to shield himself from seeing it change... he lives in an absolute fantasy and everyone knows it but him.

Giancarlo Giametti aids in this cause, as Valentino's longtime business partner, lover, and friend. The two of them are spectacular together and work brilliantly as an on screen duo. The best parts of film involve thier little interactions, the MOST brilliant being the topic of Valentino's tan.

V: How did i do?

G: Famously. It was perfect.

V: No, really, how did I do? Do I look okay?

G: Yes, everything was just fabulous.

V: Giametti, tell me, did I look okay?!

G: You are too tan.

V: No. No, no, no. Not too tan.

And lets all remember that Valentino looks like this. Too good.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brooklyn Public House

You know you've established yourself in a neighborhood when the waitstaff remembers what type of beer you ordered the day before. 'No, Sweetie, I think you liked the Jever yesterday.' Well, either established yourself or become a really sad variety of bar rat. I am going to go with the former because, well, this is my blog and I get to choose.

Brooklyn Public House opened about a month ago in Fort Greene and it has become a bit of a staple for weekend afternoons. We always arrive before anyone else and leave just before the dinner-and-drinks crowd arrives. I am usually wearing yoga pants, tennis shoes, and my hair back in a tight and unattractive headband, and often have bags of groceries or flea market purchases. Its that type of place... unfussy, warm, welcoming, and not at all in the daily plan.

We like the vintage wallpaper, the 'special' German beer... we like the old wooden bar and that the bartender looks like Jim Sturgess. Its weekends like this that I can feel my friends relax into themselves and realize that there is no place we'd rather be than surrounded by friends, 20-something, and living in Brooklyn.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama opened tonight at Gagosian to a crowd of beautiful people with wide, pleased eyes. The show was stunning. What I knew of Kusama prior to this show was her pink hair, love for polka dots, and clever self portrait from AiA's cover 4. Her works are great-- brilliant, even-- but somewhat done before. However, I had no idea that there would be two new installations (I love good installations) of this caliber.

The work above is a mirrored room reflecting hanging lights that expand into what appears to be eternity. Its smoke-and-mirrors, sure, but try and get past that. Katie, Aaron, Aaron's new gal Jo, and I took our 30 second turns stepping into this space as guided by the Louboutin-wearing-stick-insect-gallery-monitor with her stopwatch. Its titled Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity and it took my breath away.

The piece immediately helped explain Kusama's paintings and her idea of space. Its an expanse, its an arena. It's as if Kusama tried everything she could with paint and two dimensions, and finally decided to build the feeling out of drywall and paper and tiny lights. GORGEOUS.

The second installation feels much more 'Kusama' than the lights, as seen below. It faces the street outside in a diorama sort of format. It, too, reads as a painting in terms of space and depth, as if Kusama cracked open her painting and actually let our eyes travel through and around it like we think we can with oil and canvas. The entire show was an expression of her wanting us to get it. No tricks, no tomfoolery, just a passionate display of what she wanted us to know.
That said, the installations in no way discount her paintings. Her large scale work I WANT TO LIVE FOREVER (Annie and I have been talking about titles recently, and this one fits nicely into my 'recognizing the title as part of the piece' category and therefore works extremely well) resonates as a simple expression of desire and perhaps a slight panic.

Her thick brushstrokes draw us in very physically close to the canvas, a trait quite apparent as we gazed around the room at other guests. There were more nose-approaching-canvas than six-feet-away-head-tilts. Another example of Kusama's interest in drawing us into the work, isn't it?

See this show. It will lighten your mood, New Yorkers. And while you're there, stop into Goth+Rosenthal for some really exciting and extremely random free munchies. This is why I love you, Chelsea gallery scene. You're so damn weird. Thanks for a great night.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, With Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now

If I didn't owe a million dollars to the city of New York today (New York, why aren't you giving me money back this year!? I've been so loyal and lovely to you during our entire relationship.) I would buy this book. It's over $200 on Amazon and is chock full of Damien Hirst's ideas, words, drawings, photography, typography, pop-ups... his world. Yummy. I held it in my hands once and it made my mouth water.

Just sayin'. If New York had decided to give me some money I would have owned this book. That's all. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Neko Case

My love, I am the speed of sound
I left the motherless, fatherless
Their souls dangling inside out from their mouths
But it's never enough
I want you

The best part of the Neko concert on Monday night was the moment when Neko decided to set the scene for the her cover of Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget Me."

"Pretend its the morning time and you're drinking beer and smoking hash for breakfast," she said. "There are hanging ferns everywhere in those brass hanging planters. You're in a big wooden hot tub from the 70's and it smells like cedar."

Awesome, Neko. You get it.

Roomie and I bounced up to Times Square after work on Monday and stood front row, jumping around and singing our little hearts out like sixteen year olds. Neko falls easily into our taste in music... folky, lyrical, indie girl singers. We love Jenny Lewis/Rilo Kiley, Feist, Regina Spektor, Stars, Jewel (yes, Jewel.), Jem, Bird and the Bee, Martha Wainwright, Imogen Heap... people like that.

But there is something different about Neko... something Katie and I could only pinpoint as 'womanly'. 'She is such a... woman!' we kept saying as we walked from Times Square to Bryant Park at midnight-thirty. And she is. She stood center stage with crazy red hair, feet firmly planted, throat open to the sky, singing about tornadoes and magpies and killer whales.

She is Mother Earth, with vines and cornucopias and fruit stemming from her words, from her vigor. She makes us want to be stronger, makes us want to be more radiant women. We like people like that.

If you don't already, start reading Katie's blog. Then picture Katie and I, two other crazy redheads, singing to Neko Case at the top of our lungs as we brush our teeth each morning. Because as Katie says... 'She gets us.'

Thursday, April 9, 2009


New York has been a bit temperamental lately. We have bounced between my winter coats and tank tops about four times since springtime supposedly hit. In fact, we saw a few snowflakes dripping down onto Prince Street yesterday and my entire office groaned in unison. It's not summer yet, I guess. But this past Sunday was lovely.

Sunday found me in Long Island City, a destination I only dare to hit in good weather. Queens is a bit gloomy of a borough as is, and cold, rainy weather only dampens its persona. So the first sunny Sunday without any other obligations brought me to one of my favorite galleries in the whole entire world... PS1.

PS1 is MoMa's weirder, hipper, younger brother. The one who wears skinny jeans, reads Murakami, listens to vinyl, dons neon green sunglasses and totally pulls it off. The art is nothing if not weird, and the mood oddly electric. It's a bizarre place to show art, an old public school, but it obviously works. I still like Dia:Beacon better, in terms of transformed art spaces, but PS1 holds its own in a city where shock value is getting harder and harder to nail.

The art ranges from new kids like Yael Bartana (the swimming pool guy), Leonardo Erlich, and Lutz Bacher-- to the old masters (I say that with irony) William Kentridge, Cecily Brown, Sol LeWitt, Turrell, Weiner, etc.

The pieces in the stairwells are my favorite (I like that they are tucked away in hidden corners, drawn/painted/pasted on the original plaster)... the Kentridge above is one of the first pieces I fell in love with via slide from the great John Saurer, and Cecily Brown, below, is one of the first shows that stopped me in my tracks in Chelsea. I sadly, sadly, sadly missed her stairwell piece this time, but saw her name and an arrow pointing down as the super efficient security guards kicked me out at 6 on the dot. Next time we'll have a moment, Cecily, next time.

The work at PS1 all exists in installation form. Even the paintings and photographs serve to 'work the crowd' in terms of experience within the art. Each room is specifically installed to serve as an experience. 90% of the work makes us uncomfortable either in explicit material or in mounting insecurities from 'not getting it.'

I get extremely frustrated in galleries when I either a) don't know the artist or b) don't understand the work. I can usually pull some sort of point of reference, most often from something I learned in Janson's or Gardner's. But PS1 pulls the cloth from under me, which I like and which I oddly crave. I don't get it most of the time. For example, I found myself sitting on the floor in a dark, red room with headphones on listening to screaming violins and watching a silent film of a Louis XVI era damsel running down stairs and chasing fountains. What the hell?!

PS1 is like the school for alternative learning. For the kids who need a little extra attention due not to behavior, but to brilliant minds too bright for the normal schools to tame. It's weird, it's challenging, and it's fun. Especially during the trippy summer Warm Up parties. That's where you'll find me mid-summer--somewhere between intense thought and careless laughter. Right where I prefer to be.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Have you heard this song? (Don't watch the video, it's extremely unimportant. Just have it open in another window while you read this post. Wow. Bossy.) I hadn't heard it until tonight. It's the type of song that we feel like we know because it reminds us of music past. It's feels a bit prohibition, a bit heavy lounge. When I finally determined that it wasn't something in my slim repertoire I made my dance instructor repeat the title and the artist's name about three times before it finally stuck, then downloaded it immediately upon my midnight return home.

I danced to Glorybox tonight and can say with strict confidence that it was one of the greatest classes I've ever taken. The song is a bold glass of Cabernet. It's kissing under streetlamps, it's a slice of flourless chocolate cake. It's smooth, its passionate, its indulgent. And I, dear reader, learned a dance to it. And if the song sets the flourless-chocolate-tone, you can only imagine this dance's physical reenactment.

I have little else to say because some things are better felt... dance allows this exception to my standard droning wordage. It's why we get along, dance and I. Dance is a way of feeling without thinking. It's muscular memory, its comfort in motion. And nothing sets the tone for a Friday night better than enabling raw physical emotion, am I right? I did just that before starting an evening of good friends and affirming conversation. Listen to it. Again. It'll make your night, I swear.

Note: The photo above has little to nothing to do with this post. I just had a really difficult time finding a picture to illustrate a song/dance/random thought so I just chose a photo that I took a few years ago. I loved the mellow tackiness of this 'GYM' sign that I saw along side the road in art-town-Michigan on a roadtrip with my mom. 'Good enough!' said I. Although... the 'Glorybox' experience did take place in a gym, so I guess it fits in some ways. That's all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

America, meet Britian.

SO CUTE. Am I right!? The best things about this photo are as folllows:

1) The Queen looks SUPER excited to be there. She reminds me a little of this guy. It's almost as if SHE is getting a Red Ryder BB gun. If you're lucky, Elizabeth! (But don't get your hopes up too high... it might be an ipod.)

2) Michelle is clearly uncomfortable with her height in this photo. We RARELY see her with this posture, but I (a giant myself) know it well. It's a stance specifically reserved for occasions when you find yourself around really short people who are more important than you are. (Otherwise you of course would stand tall and proud!) I stood like this when I found myself standing next to Sandy Brant at a party once. So I understand, Michelle. You are doing the slump-and-lean out of respect.

3) The visit itself created quite a bit of stir due to an alleged side-hug. Ugh, I HATE the side hug. But good for you, Liz, for just going for it all the way.

4) No one knows who the guy is off to the right hand side of the photo. Notice how the Obamas are subtly yet clearly turned toward the more important member of the royal family? (Okay, fine, we know who he is. We just don't really care about him.)

5) Back to the smile... Helen Mirren would NEVER smile like that. Maybe its just me, but I do feel like The Queen should maybe be taking more cues from her more attractive doppelganger.

...Such a good news day.