Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning the facts....(I'm back after 3 years)

After writing a sophistic entry about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker that was "tied up" with the kind of saccharine bits that usually make me cringe with discomfort- I dropped my blog THREE YEARS AGO. Upon reading a detailed book on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker that revealed just how perversely greedy they really were- I felt so ashamed I left my blog behind. So I'm back, not because at this point it will do any good (the people who followed me now probably have different email addresses) but because I want to write-So after being embarrassed into silence truly seeing the painful reality of my saccharine nature- I now am going to write an essay about the virtues of NBC's long running hit show.... TFOL (The Facts of Life) came into my head when I was going to create a parody of the opening credits in a script I am (not really) writing. But as part of my self-destructive creative process that keeps my writing painfully slow, I decided to begin watching the episodes (during my writing time, of course). But then, suddenly, like a drop of Jhirmack winding its' way through Blair's thick hair- I found myself woven into it. I was turning to the world of Eastland as a superior alternative narrative to the more sophisticated, but somehow more limited other options before me. The first time the urge hit to turn to TOFL was in the midst of Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" I was in the part of the story (not far in, of course, as prolific readers don't get TOFL binging problems- which by the way with 9 years of material, when you binge on TOFL it's not a a party too hard weekend- we're talking 'Leaving Las Vegas'- you may not make it out alive.) But anyway, I was in the part of The Corrections where Chip- the fallen cultural studies professor- flashes back to his affair with an intelligent but manipulative wealthy college girl that ruined him. When confronted with David Mamet-esque narratives of the 'seductive female' suddenly I needed a break from the misogynist bullshit hailed as "relevant cultural content." Unlike Franzen's coed, the sexuality of Blair Warner never became problematic or dangerous- as she lived her life on her own terms. Even when confronted with rape- when Blair's dream date attempts to date rape Jo- the show brings the women closer together. The show, simplifies the matter to fit into the neat little mold of the episode- but the choice to empower and bond Blair and Jo is still preferable to the other narrative choice presented to me by National Book Award winner, where a young woman goes on an extended mission to seduce her professor. In reality, TOFL would have been a more traditionally misogynist text- were it not for the conservative Christian values of the actress Whelchel. Whelchel refused to wear seductive clothing (additionally there was the issue of her "weight"- a problem the show tried to solve by sending her to "fat farms" so that she could be ratings gaining sex symbol.) Eventually when the "weight" wouldn't fall off- Blair was simply allowed to be on the show with a real body. Whelchel explains- Additionally, the episode about losing virginity was written for Blair but given to Natalie due to Whelchel's refusal to participate in the plot line. This allowed again the issue of sexuality to not be tied to the male gaze (as Blair was supposed to be the subject of that) but rather stand as emotional journey for a woman. While Whelchel's values made the show more empowering, Blair's total agency over her life didn't extend to Whelchel's off-camera. She divorced her husband after 25 years and went public that it was an "arranged marriage." I'm resisting a closing that plays off "you take the good, you take the bad"- I hope this raises your opinion of my writing, gentle reader. The show went on way too long, and if on the air today Jo would be the lesbian she always was- and an affair with Blair would have filled half of one season...but then again TOFL took on lesbianism in the first episode- and in the universe of TOFL- an issue only gets 30 minutes. But the show, despite being a total bomb in it's inception, endured for nearly a decade- long after the premise was relevant. But in that golden moment of about 2 seasons, before the painful elongation that gave us the ludicrous idea 4 girls from a fine boarding school would then hang out in upstate New York with their Housemother until age 30- the show's young women participated in that radical notion of feminism that women are people. So the more sophisticated television era and post-feminist world has brought us "Girls" where women learn no lessons and experience no real growth (I'm sure Dunham would disagree with this read). But I find myself more attached to the pat moments of the simplistic network show- where "Girls" grew up to be women- however canned it may be. So when sophisticated theater, film and television continue to disappoint- there's 9 years of an NBC spin-off to keep me inspired.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The argument for Jim and Tammy Faye...

The Following blog was inspired by a recent (re)viewing of the brilliant Documentary "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" via the ondemand feature on my cable box.


You don't have to be dowdy to be a Christian.

Tammy Faye Bakker





Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker had a televangelism empire (entitled PTL or "Praise the Lord") from 1974-1988. A show and a theme park (well it took four years to get the theme park started), and each supported the other in a marketing coup like no other.

Heritage USA, their theme park, was the third largest in the country after the Disney ones (yes that's right, Six Flags can eat it). Their Broadcast network PTL was running 24 hours a day.

All of this was religious, so it was tax-exempt. Heritage USA, the theme park, became the main reason to raise funds, but also a convenient way to hide massive amounts of money (or were they really that massive now that we have all our corporate scandals where people took so much more and got away with it, actually through those eyes 3 million dollars is so sadly, paltry...)

Now you may notice by my rationalizing away Jim and Tammy's big old steal (and that's what it was) that this entry may be slanted a bit positively towards the Bakkers...and well, we'll get to that, but first a bit of background for those who forgot. Jim and Tammy Faye had the show, which they had broadcast via satellite....they in the words of Tammy Faye kept "adding station after station" to their line up. They then hired Roe Messner (who also got to keep his earnings as contractor for the whole entire theme park tax free, because he was building a religious facility) to start this theme park. Well that's when the requests to give, give, give became more frequent.


And the funds came pouring in. And with it, they built and built. The theme park was popular, a Christian place to vacation. Thus with a real tangible product to sell, well they could bum more than just 5 dollars off some lonely old lady to their "ministry" they could now promise an "lifetime partnership/1100 club" for 1100 smackers that offered 3 nights stay in a luxury hotel per year for a lifetim. Well, for people who loved this theme park, it made sense. The contributions built the hotel. But then they were taking more contributions than necessary than it took to build the hotel (which was never fully completed)....Here it stands today.



Now some of this excess money went to pay Jessica Hahn $265,000 to keep quiet about her sexual affair with Jim and his friends (an interesting fact, Jim didn't have the cash money sitting around, he had to borrow it from Roe Messner, which lets us know the stockpiling of money from members didn't happen until right before the end). She probably would have taken that money, but Charles Shepard, a reporter with the _Charlotte Observer_, wouldn't quit trying to dig up the truth. His newspaper won a Pulitzer and he was given Harvard's Nieman Fellowship for journalists in the midst of their career. Thankfully, Jessica Hahn had Hugh Hefner, a long time supporter of women in need of that extra little scholarship (in exchange for some photo and video essays), to pay her money for valiantly speaking up for justice.


(Yale, Harvard, the Sundance Filmmakers lab...well none of them are as kind and supportive to their alumnus as Hefner, he just gives and gives...here's Ms. Hahn's second essay after a new nose and dental work and probably some other work too)


Well, all this came together as a perfect storm that threatened to blow over even the kings castle water slide


And Jerry Falwell became the rain cloud...



Jerry Falwell came to Jim Bakker, told him that Jessica Hahn was about to get leaked to the press, and agreed to help him. Jim just had to step away from his empire and Jerry would take it over and then give it back to him (now this is the Bakker's rendition of events, FYI). Well Jerry got there, worked with Jim and then proceeded to lambast him on air to raise money (most notably promising Bakker a generous stipend of salary and expenses and asked him to write . Well, people didn't really like all the negativity and shame and stopped visiting the park.

Here's where Jerry and PTL explain it all (and gets screamed at from the audience around the 7 minute mark).



Jerry begged viewers for way more money at one time than Bakker ever did to keep the park open- and got it (apparently legitimate park expenses, not just scandals, require money). However, Jim Bakker was in jail and fundi TV fun was out of fashion. The whole PTL world soon came crashing down. Heritage USA now sits abandoned. Ms. Hahn fared better, she had two children with co-creator of _Married.... with Children_ and probably lives in Sherman Oaks.

Jim and Tammy Faye were the laughing stock of the country. But in the end, was their demise such a good thing? Jim and Tammy Faye took advantage of an emerging market, people looking for a product which is religious guidance and chaos to fill empty time. Jim and Tammy provided it, their show had inspirational crap, long-winded off the cuff monologues about personal triumph and difficulty, and music. Of course, Tammy sang, sang, sang but so did other musicians, most notably Bebe and Cece Winans, who were on PTL for five years.

When Jim and Tammy Faye left in shame, sham televangelists were never quite what they were again. Thus instead of just preaching and singing and filling up space with empty positive Jesus talk, we now have serious religious conservatives doing more of what Jerry Falwell and his cronies were already doing, which was getting Christians politically galvanized. All they had to do was turn on the TV or the radio. And that 1100 dollars that Jim asked for to pay for miniature golf and roller skating facilities (and pay off Jessica Hahn and hide in secret accounts)..well, now no one is asking you for your money, because well, they've already taken it from you. Because, according to this Ny Times column from Kristof http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/opinion/18kristof.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LI_MST_FB
1% percent of the population now owns this country. Now you can't afford to leave the house, much less be scammed at Heritage USA. Yes that's right, new legitimate people helped keep Americans away from idling giving money away for half-sham/half-legit theme parks run by materialistic sham artists. Instead these same Americans are now "informed" of what is happening in this country by people who are not looking to get rich (though many of them got coincidentally richer than Tammy and Jim ever did, because they are on programs with paid advertising) and then they go and use that "information" to be politically galvanized. For after all, Jerry Falwell, who was always political (starting the Moral Majority in 1979) made sure that every person who enjoyed Jim and Tammy's more accepting style was made aware how terrible they were. And if their real sins were not enough, Falwell decided to accuse Jim of being a homosexual, which also allowed Falwell to spread homophobia (one of his favorite past times). Which of course, is always used for political purposes. Not long after the demise of PTL, the 13.5 million people who once watched Tammy and Jim were now given more people who were as angry and political as Falwell to watch.
In 1993, the GOP took over the House of Representatives for the first time since 1949. And then our conservatives spent millions of our tax dollars investigating every which way and how our sex lovin' president did it with some tramp princess from Beverly Hills. Then they went to work deregulating and law changin' until well, just read Kristof's column. Now obviously Jim and Tammy weren't giving a forum to those explaining why Reaganomics didn't work. But they did have an open stage that said Jesus loved gay men and black recovering drug addicts as much as he loved white conservatives. And that, I truly believe, is what Falwell hated.

Now I have been stammering on a bit inarticulately about this topic, which has only recently re-engaged my interest. But, the Christian documentarian outraged by years of televangelism had this to say about Jim Bakker (quote taken from the following http://www.slate.com/id/87122/)

Antony Thomas, the director of a revelatory documentary, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done (1988). Thomas' movie is a portrait of the right-wing fundamentalist movement from the perspective of a horrified Christian—a man appalled by the use of his cherished gospels to advance what seemed an antithetical message of intolerance and materialism and greed. In the film, Thomas cast a sardonic eye on the high-pressure sell tactics of the Bakkers' PTL network and their Heritage, U.S.A., theme park, but his assessment of the couple was ultimately more sympathetic. He told me in 1988:

Bakker's personality means something to me in a way that Falwell's doesn't. Falwell is an up and down brute, with no nuance except an ability to appear like everyone's favorite uncle when the cameras are rolling and a sort of SS Oberfuhrerwhen they're not. Have you ever seen him candid? A very frightening man—a bully, a thug. Bakker's message to his people was the opposite. It was, "I hate religiosity. Prostitutes, sinners, those were the people that Christ lived with and we must learn from them." It was a soft, accommodating message, quite different from the tub-thumping fundamentalists'. That fascinated me, as well as the warmth that flowed through this blue-collar audience for these people. Tammy made a speech: "I said to God, 'People accuse me of being a Jezebel with makeup,' and God said to me, 'Tammy, I want you to be pretty.' " They could touch buttons that nobody else could. How much of it was instinctive and how much of it was calculated I don't know.

Well singlehandedly the loss of Jim and Tammy on the airwaves did not end up in causing the change in this country, but what I lament is that they served directly the Christian Right and instead of serving up hate, in the midst of the constant selling, they served up a little love.

Now after looking at Jim and Tammy's extravagances and their thieving, honestly I was not that offended or horrified. Basically, Jim and Tammy got caught up in the power of their ministry and they liked stuff. Especially Tammy, Tammy loved stuff. And they had lots of what is in reality cheap tacky stuff. When it came to dollars in the end out of 159-180 million, they stole 3.4 million, now most 100 million dollar corporate buyouts and packages would allow payouts that big for around 30 crooked televangelists. They had a big house somewhere in the Charlotte area that they added onto six times with ridiculous features like a huge closet for Tammy and then moved into an upscale home in Palm Springs once their world started to come tumbling down, some argue there were other homes as well, and I don't doubt it. But again, I argue their materialism pales next to what is the norm today. So clearly taking down Jim and Tammy did very little to stop people's love of materialism. One of the ubiquitous images was the news media photographing them next to a black 1960s Rolls Royce with Tammy in a Pink Mumu. Today, thanks largely to the GOP, mortgage brokers and stock market players took people's whole life savings and unlike Jim and Tammy, GOT AWAY with it and KEPT way more money. In fact, the uber-materialism of today would make Jim and Tammy's big home in modest Charlotte look like nothing. Now everyone's appetite for materialism has far outphased their ability to keep up, most couture outfits on "Sex and the City" would pay for 10 of Tammy Faye's extravagant Nipon/Halston knockoffs. Tammy and Jim were greedy, but they weren't all that sophisticated. It's hard to get in the leagues of spending real money if you're a national joke to a person with almost any modicum of culture and education.

Thus the lifestyle that Nancy Reagan, Betsy Bloomingdale and Ivana Trump were living, with art and international travel and apartments/homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Beverly Hills and everywhere else a condo costs more than a mansion in Charlotte, well Jim and Tammy weren't in those circles. Now they were a mess, so busy selling and stealing that apparently their daughter Tammy Sue went galavanting around Heritage USA using drugs and flirting/screwing the cutest men of the 2500 people Heritage USA employed, but she when speeding around Heritage USA she apparently was in a Mazda RX7. One can buy many RX7s with just one Mercedes convertible or many more with a Bentley, like Sean Combs son drives.

Also, there was one part of Jim and Tammy's "budget" that was never used, their travel budget.
Why, because they on TV ALL THE TIME. I argue that Tammy and Jim just didn't have that much time to develop a materialistic lifestyle because they were too busy standing up in front of working class people begging them to help build this theme park, which was being badly managed.

At a Unitarian teenage conference in North Carolina, I once met a girl who claimed her dad was the reporter who brought down PTL and he "had a nervous breakdown and delivers mail now." I don't remember who this girl was or who her father was, but considering the stress of digging that hidden info up, I have always wondered who her dad was. Charles Shepard went on to work at the Washington Post for a time and teach a bit as well.

I was about 8 when the story broke. I was a liberal Unitarian in east Tennessee, in the midst of the world where Jim and Tammy were so popular. In fact, this girl who was friends with my sister, who's mother remarried an 80s local construction mogul even had dinner with Jim and Tammy Faye, when I asked what they were like she replied "totally fake."

I remember every liberal being in pure glee over Jim and Tammy's uncovering. I think people hoped in vain that this would make the 13.5 million people see that someone coming at you non-stop with messages that had no foundation were not worth listening to...but alas that lesson was never learned. Instead, the message just changed. Religion on TV did take a back seat. Jerry Falwell wanted his political propaganda on full time and well, Rupert Murdoch got on board too. There was also Rush Limbaugh. These men didn't lie about whether there was a hotel room in a theme park available for you, they just lie to you about the world around you to change your voting habits.

Considering the hate, and the political lies and the damage those listening to lies has caused, I wish we could go back and do the following. Take Jim and Tammy into a room, first tell Jim to just let the Jessica Hahn scandal play itself out. Second, tell them to clean up their books. Third, have an auditor fix the theme park and the finances. (if those 1100 club people wanted a hotel to stay in, well they could have built it and then everyone would have been happy). For God's sakes, Heritage USA was there and huge and people liked it. And fourth, put Tammy and Jim and their bad folksy inspirational stuff right back on stage where they wanted to be. Jim and Tammy didn't want to be wildly rich. They just wanted to be rich, allowed their tacky luxuries, while overseeing a tacky kingdom of Jesus's love and go-carts.

When Jim and Tammy Faye were turned into the whipping boys of the Christian Right...well those left in the media weren't stealing money. But they also weren't doing things like this...here's Tammy Faye in 1985.


And here's a bit more.


And here's who we have left now that we've taken down Jim and Tammy.





And here's the man who made it his mission to take Jim and Tammy down.



Kinda makes you want to get out that 1,100 dollars and call that 704 area code number today, but it's been disconnected.

Tammy Faye died after a second battle with colon cancer on July 20th 2007

Jim Bakker is alive and can be found here:


Jim and Tammy's son can be found here:





























Tuesday, November 2, 2010

If I ran for office...

My platform: success is possible in this country. Look at Flo. Yes, you know who I'm talking about.. .

So many people are suffering, but not improv actress Stephanie Courtney, who is on TV every second...nationally. If she can do it. Why can't you? All you need is a bump it.

Flo of course is not the only person who seems to be doing well while the rest of us are suffering.

Corporate Profits are up...


And here's why people believe it when our new Speaker discusses helping "small business"...



The other night I was in a terrible mood (in fact I have been in a terrible mood for months) and I went to CVS to pick up a DV tape. The cashier, a black woman in her 50s (or maybe 60s cuz black don't crack) was waiting on a customer. She doesn't get paid shit. And she was going the extra mile to help out the customer (a mother with a little girl buying lots of booze, not inspiring but the mother is not the subject of the story) and she was enthusiastic, talking about how she was going to be dressed up for her shift on Saturday night.

She then waited on me, pointed out my coupons and basically, cared. a lot. Here is a woman, in a rough neighborhood, with a minimum wage job, and she is full of enthusiasm. This country is full of great people, why don't the rich start paying their taxes (which are earned through the work of women like that) so this country can get the money it needs.




Good night. And God (or Buddha or Allah or Shirley MacClain "Moving Towards the Light") Bless...







Monday, October 11, 2010

Art House Films: aka reap the benefit of my suffering....


I do not have nearly the intellectual discipline nor the broad mind that I aspire to have, but I do have somewhat of a dedication to art cinema. Thus I have sat through many, many, many standards of the art house canon and thus, with the ease of a Ronco invention, reading this blog for 10 minutes can save you HOURS and HOURS of fighting to keep your eyes open in dusty art house theaters with bad popcorn...

First let's start with Werner Herzog, an egomaniac who has made some great films but also some real sucky ones (and then he defends the sucky ones as if their suckiness was an artistic choice, [I'm referring to his response to the horrid remake of Ferrera's "Bad Lieutenant" with Nic Cage, when most directors do an Avi Lerner film they get paid and shut their mouths, NOT Herzog] )

I haven't seen all his movies, but I have seen "Aguirre, The Wrath of God".
Now this movie has a Popol Vuh score that is so the quintessence of Euro 70s and an opening that is cinematically stirring. However, after the incredible opening...the film does not measure up.

But you watch the best part here and save yourself the trouble of seeing the rest which is Klaus Kinski on the side of the river or on a raft having temper tantrums (both on camera and off), when he should have been paying his daughter Nastassia so that she would have had to compromise herself at 14 and 13 to build a career.

(By the way, because everyone knows the beginning is the best part, it was banned off youtube and I had to search 45 minutes for it...hope you are impressed)



AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD -- Beginning
Uploaded by vincentyeo. - Watch feature films and entire TV shows.

Now let's move on to Bergman. More even than Herzog, mostly brilliant work. A genius. A wide range of films, _Persona_ and _Fanny and Alexander_ are masterpieces, however as for _Wild Strawberries_ go try and pick them by the road side, it's less tedious and painful then watching that film. Then there is his Oscar winner of Best Foreign film back in the day _The Virgin Spring_...Well, it is a difficult film about a farm family's loss of a beautiful young daughter, but mostly I did not find it that stirring, mostly because I found it to be a bit overdramatic in the way Bergman can sometimes be... (here is a French and Saunders parody to illustrate my point on Bergman)


Oh and watch this for good measure...


And this one....


Okay I'll stop now but French and Saunders are BRILLIANT....


Getting back to _The Virgin Spring_, though the there is one scene that was above and beyond the rest. In this scene, three wandering vagrants who happen to ask for the hospitality of a family who's daughter is missing...little do the family know the vagrants are the reason the daughter is missing. However, the vagrants are carrying with them their own little boy. Here is a scene between the Grandfather of the farm family and the abused little boy belonging to the vagrants... (starts around 4:30 in the clip)



Now let's get to Michelangelo Antonioni. I have watched all three parts of the "informal trilogy" which goes something like La Notte, L'Eclisse and L'Avventura. Or actually it's L'Avventura, La Notte and L'Eclisse. Now unlike say The Star Wars Trilogy which has a clear beginning middle and end, the Antonioni "informal" trilogy deals with such plot-driven themes as how rich italian people are effected now that they live in post ww2 condo complexes and not in town.

For instance, since they are far from center of town...they have to stay at home for fun and do this...(from L'Eclisse)


Also we see how disaffected she is by seeing her mother on the stock market floor (which Antonioni's argument is that the post war conditions made people more cold and greedy, but I would argue people have always been cold and greedy on the stock market floor....



But mostly Monica Vitti just gets overwhelmed by bad modern architecture....


And then there's the shots of the forebodingness of sprinklerheads watering things and streetlights...


Now apparently this is all supposed to all supposed to be comment on the austerity of modern life...and thanks to this film waiting for the bus will never be the same again.


In La Notte, Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni play a couple who aren't gonna make it...and they go to a party together, hence La Notte...

Here's Ms. Moreau at the party...playing chess with herself on a giant board while Marcello watches (not to be confused with the scene in "Big" where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play on the giant step-on Piano in FAO Schwartz).


What is wonderful about this movie is that you get to Ms. Moreau in her prime, because later on, Ms. Moreau (way before Betty White) loved to play very dirty old ladies... and here she is in the apex of dirty old lady-ness (Blanche Devereaux, just put your pink hibicus pattern mumu back on, because you ain't got nuttin on Jeanne....(by the way, I also endured _Querelle_ for you, where's my big f***ing "Thank You"?)


In my opinion, L'avventura has the most stirring plot, about a woman, Claudia, again Ms. Vitti, who loses her wealthy friend and searches for her with the friend's boyfriend (Sandro) finally falling for him (who is a spoiled failed architect, which with all the ugly buildings in Italy that Antonioni films apparently being a crappy architect in Italy is big business)...
Now Claudia and Sandro's search for the missing is the most focused, dedicated search I've seen since OJ went searching for the REAL killers of Ron and Nicole on Palm Beach golf courses.

Here are Ms. Vitti and Sandro getting a bit sidetracked during search day #....




Nobody does composition like Antonioni, there are moments where the films are so beautiful you will never see anything better...but then I spend half the time bored out of my gourd waiting for these moments...inner dialogue goes something like this. "I'll just shut this off...what's my check book balance?...I wonder if I talked less at practice if I would be more popular on my swim team, maybe if I smiled more, I'm too socially awkward...Maybe I should just reduce this window and watch 'Poker Face'....Oh my god, that's so beautiful!"

In the end, there are people I know who are genuinely entertained by these films. People like Jane who was in my UC junior year in Lyon, France, Jane, a brilliant student, was already fluent in French when she arrived and now has a PhD from Penn in comparative, comparative something or other literature, not sure, but requires knowing at least two languages and reading a lot of things...
Jane and I went to see _La Dolce Vita_, and while I was trying to stay awake during the chicken feather pillow fight, Jane was heartbroken by the larger implications. When we left the film she said "When he stared at the girl at the end, it was like, oh he'll probably fuck up her life too." I remember she said it with a mix of rage, sadness and sarcasm that I envied. I thought "Well I saw that, so now we can go and get steak frites."

Here is the ending...ask Jane if you have questions...



I did cry watching something in France, but that was during the series finale of _the Nanny_ on M6 (the trashy French TV station). I mean, I cried because also because it was so pathetic that I watched the Nanny every night and I was actually engaged by this, but that's another story.

Now another French film I tried to watch TWICE on the big screen was _Alphaville_ (not the band who sang "Forever Young") but both in France and at the Godard revival at the Cinematheque, J'ai dort....


The problem with _Alphaville, the strange adventure of Lemmy Caution_ was that it was supposed to be Paris far in the future but when he checked into the hotel, the hotel reminded me of this hotel where my mom and i stayed and the room was cramped and their was a parrot downstairs named johnnie and I still remember a tiny piece of hard boiled egg yolk in the corner of the lobby room next to Johnnie's cage and it just kinda still grosses me out. And then every parking garage and street scene reminded me of something else tired, dirty and ghetto in France. Thus, the problem with _Alphaville_ as far as set decor vis a vis suspension of disbelief is that since all those 60s buildings in Paris haven't changed, when you look at them in the movie it just takes your mind to bad Paris neighborhoods with all that bad socialist architecture like the kind Obama will put everywhere if Republicans don't save us in November.

Now, I have a Godard Gold Card and this is because I have attempted to sit through his "Histoires du Cinema" a totally incoherent thing he made for French TV. Now before you think this is just me talking to fill space on this page...Let me explain, the FRENCH walked out of "Histoires du Cinema" and you must understand the FRENCH don't walk out of ANYTHING.

I walked out when Godard was filming his teenage daughter doing a tribute to like Joan Crawford or Greta Garbo or Marlena Dietrich by performing a stupid monologue that I thin was supposed to an amalgamation of their legacy but was really her standing in regular clothes in front of their nonperishables shelf in the kitchen...I kid you not, it was her and behind her you could see a wooden Ikea shelf with jam and nutella and chicory and whathaveyou...

I couldn't find the pantry soliloquy but here is a clip that might explain why (and even the full-blooded Gauls) walked out (and watched _The Nanny_ instead)


In my final time saving lesson of films no one else should ever have to sit through (unless you are way smarter than moi) is "Celine and Julie Go Boating" now Anthony Lane, a _New Yorker_ film critic referenced "Celine and Julie Go Boating" when reviewing the film "Jack Goes Boating" and said the following...

Philip Seymour Hoffman has...turned to directing, his debut "Jack Goes Boating" no relation, sadly to "Celine and Julie Go Boating" Jacques Rivette's exhilaratingly tall tale of 1974...

When I read Anthony Lane's words, I was stunned, for it caused my pulse to rise way higher than during the entire 3 HOURS and 13 MINUTES of "Celine and Julie Go Boating"

"Celine and Julie Go Boating" is about two flighty French girls who are flighty in that way that the French cherish as a sort of unique annoyingness that makes them special. Celine and Julie have putative little cutsie poo performance jobs and meander around their apartment, and frankly watching them do nothing is probably what all those Tea Party people watched to get them so scared of socialism...because unemployment runs out on even the flakiest of people (I've seen it happen) but these two are past where the buses run. They need to stop living off our Taxed Enough Already Money and get a bloody real job.

The movie is about their silly little games, but also about the house they visit where they both see a past event that happened there and then de and re construct it. Now apparently watching them delve into their imaginations in this house via these cheesy recreations is a moment of cinema so "exhilarating" that Anthony Lane, a famous critic is spellbound, but I endured the whole thing and found nothing but some girls who thought they were too cute for their own good...


So here is a little insight into the evenings where I watched something to expand my mind and wished I had stayed home and listened to trash music...

So now you can read my blog and just go straight to the Stacey Q. Here she is as part of the not-so-informal trilogy of episodes where she played pop star "Cinnamon" on _The Facts of Life_. Monica Vitti just can't quite compare...



















Thursday, September 23, 2010

...The Prada Spring collection

Truly I was not influenced by 14-year-old Tavi...http://www.thestylerookie.com to write this blog entry, but rather I was just on nytimes.com and below the headlines of "the country is going to hell in a handcart" and "Everyone now hates Obama" was the innocuous little headline "Prada Spring Collection." So I decided to see what was going on with those not hurting in this economy, i.e. Miuccia Prada and the people who can (still) afford her overpriced clothes and bags.

What is saw was scarier that that Meg Whitman ad where she says welfare reform will save 1billion dollars to be used for the UCs. We're talking some super ugly clothes kids...

Let's look.

Now before we get into the clothes, let's talk about the models...
ll the models look like the love child of Charlotte Rampling and Walt Disney's rendering of Ichabod Crane...



Now let' s talk about the clothing.




Let's start with our 'foundation' of basic looks. We offer a choice of highway cone, fake xmas tree and hospital janitor.
Notice that despite this being a spring collection (different than resort collection, apparently there are clothes that can ONLY be worn while being in a hotel or on a cruise ship).
But anyway, despite the fact it is spring, most models carry a jacket that is lined with same keepwarm icky polyester fleece that swimmers wear over their wet bodies in between races.

Also the shoes put the C (and the K for that matter) in CLUNKY.

Now let's look at patterns (aka "I'm walkin' in the spider web, so leave a message and I'll call you back)

Yes. Web-like shiny vinyl rococo detailing makes ugly stripes even more unflattering.





And then there's the monkeys...

Oh look 60s Italian shower curtain made into dress, night vision goggles not included....


And then Bananas....arms straight from a polyester leisure shirt...and polyester banana skirt! It's Dollar General couture!


Just when you think it couldn't get any worse...



And a cute little outfit. If I saw this in Benetton for 350 smackers I would love it...But how about 1-2k at the Prada store, not so much....



View the full collection here:




Friday, September 10, 2010

The 405 expansion: Highway of Death.

California is broke, the United States is broke.

But yet, like poor Judy Garland, who (according to an old queen I once met at a dinner) had to be shot up with speed to get her on the stage, the show must go on...
Thus we have the lovely 405 expansion. LA needs public transportation, we need a real subway line, not that stupid thing that takes you from North Hollywood to Hollywood to Downtown and I think there's another couple of lines that do their best to connect low income areas to the city while carefully avoiding all the rich areas.

The SF BART is a fantastic system vis a vis LA's subway but when comparing a full map of the bay area with a full map of the BART you will notice that the Peninsula (an area where the house they used on Dynasty is located and other real, real richie things are) and Marin County...which I believe for many years was the highest income per capita area of the country....are both NOT accessible by BART...by the way it took 40 years or so for the BART to get to SFO...which is still many miles away from Krystle and Alexis in the fish pond.

(see maps below)

Anyway, I digress, but that is probably why the few and the proud follow my blog...So there will be no real transportation in those areas that house the rich. And the 405 goes right through so many of those areas.

Thus rather than building a Sepulveda Pass subway of some sort that could connect to the North Hollywood subway (but it would have maybe even go through BEVERLY HILLS to do so, as Aretha Franklin once said, "ain't no way"), they are widening the "4 or 5" to accomodate the millions of people who are stuck on it every day...

Here is the official list of the exciting improvements to the 405 from the metro website...

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project will add a 10-mile HOV lane and improve supporting infrastructure such as ramps, bridges and sound walls on the San Diego Fwy. (I-405); while widening lanes from the Santa Monica Fwy. (I-10) to the Ventura Fwy. (US-101).

This project will reduce existing and forecasted traffic congestion on the I-405 and enhance traffic operations by adding freeway capacity in an area that experiences heavy congestion. In addition to these modifications, the project will improve both existing and future mobility and enhance safety throughout the corridor.

Project benefits include a decrease in commuter time, reduction in air pollution, and promotion of ridesharing.

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project will:

  • Add a 10-mile HOV lane on the northbound I-405 between the I-10 and US-101 Freeways

  • Remove and replace the Skirball Center Dr, Sunset Bl and Mulholland Dr bridges

  • Realign 27 on and off-ramps

  • Widen 13 existing underpasses and structures

  • Construct approximately 18 miles of retaining wall and sound wall
If you read through what they are doing in this huge project, you can sum it up in two sentence fragments...adding some new walls and putting in a lane so Prius drivers can zip past everyone else in old cars.

For starters, an expansion of the 405 is a helpful remedy for LAs gianormous transportation problem on the part of the city/state government in the same way that handing an out of control teenager money to placate them is a helpful remedy of a bad parent. It's painful to watch and it really is only going to make things worse not better, and plus it's a sad waste of resources and money that could be much better spent building a subway.

As Jill Scott would ask "is it the way...?" well yes it is. And the way they are expanding the 405 really sucks. First off, the 405 is so impacted that there really is no good time for them to do the construction. I go northbound on the 405 at 6:45AM...so short of being there at 5:45AM, i'm really on it at a low traffic time going against the commute...of course it's still backed up in portions. Now part of the reason I believe it is backed up is because there is all this construction stuff hanging about along the side of the freeway like decorative accents on a Sandra Lee tablescape. But this is not the crux of the problem.

The crux of the problem is there is NO room to expand the 405. Thus to my eyes they have
devised all sorts of little "shortcuts" that allow for this room (it doesn't). The foremost shortcut is to eliminate the shoulder between the freeway divider and the lane. Well, I got into that shoulderless lane (the farthest/fastest lane) and it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. One is going 70 MPH and one side are the other cars speeding past you (in my opinion they have trimmed down the space between lanes as well) but then there is no wiggle room between you and the cement divider. Since people drive like idiots now more than ever...one needs wiggle room. Trust me, my Honda Civic is complements of the 22 year old who drove into my car while I was driving through a stale green light.

The whole project feels like some late 70s post apocalyptic film where James Caan or James Brolin stars, the production designer places futuristic fiberglass bodies on Datsun chassis and the tagline is Los Angeles, 2010: no police, no government, but justice is found on the DEATH PASS.

Also in addition to having NO space between the The 405 is now on the way to having NO PULL OFF LANE (or whatever it is called where you can pull your car over when it dies or there is a collision, etc)...Now if you want to CREATE traffic problems, make sure there is no side lane.
I was on the 101 between Hollywood and Downtown a few Saturdays ago at 11:00pm...traffic was at a standstill. Why? Because two cars were trapped ON THE FREEWAY as there was no where for them to pull over.
Now, I am probably wrong (hopefully) but it seems they getting rid of the pullover lane on the 405...so while they excavate the mountain away, they will have done it all for naught, because once a car stalls in the lane (or gets into an accident by running into the dividing rail due to lack of shoulder) traffic will be as bad as it had been 700 million dollars earlier.

So in conclusion, we learn that no real changes will be made, no trains, no monorails, no nuttin that we really need, but the Sepulveda pass will be bulldozed away in order to make room for another lane that we don't need. But remember if things get bad enough which they will , traffic will lighten up because people will move to Portland where they have light rail or they will just have their cars repossessed, then the 405 will as empty as an Edward Hopper painting.






And here is what is covered by BART:
Notice what is missing. Well The Peninsula (that would be the area a bit below SF where the rich people live)
oh and North Bay/Marin County (that's the area right above SF where other rich people live)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

...The "Oh so black" cooking shows on the Food Network

I was going to start this essay by describing the black people that I know, but then I realized that when straight people talk to me about the gay people they know I want to stick needles in my eyes...so let's assume that I am a person who is progressive about race issues because this essay is not about my personal thoughts on race.
This essay is a little observation that perhaps the Food Network could calm their black targeting.
The funny thing is that I started getting irritated with the title of Sunny Anderson's cooking show "Cooking for Real" (you see to me, this is just a coded way of saying "Cooking for Black People") as if the other shows weren't "for real," and honestly most of them are not, Barefoot Contessa and Bobby Flay's food= too expensive, Paula Deen = too much fat, tiny, tiny Giada clearly never eats the expensive fat laden italian food she makes (also too much fat), Rachel Ray = mediocre, Sandra Lee=A-whole-nother class of terrible. Sunny is pleasant, her food seems good, she offers alternatives that are readily available outside of Zabars/Dean and Deluca/Whole Foods, so really I think she should call her show: the only decent cooking show on this afternoon.
But, and maybe this is my racism talking, "Cooking for Real" is an implication that somehow the other shows weren't meant for you, that was fake cooking, cooking for other people. Again the ironic thing is that the other shows ARE fake cooking, but you don't have to be black to feel that way, you just have to a. not have tons of money to spend on food b. not want to be rolled out of your kitchen in a wheelbarrow c. actually want to perhaps consume vitamins and fiber.
The ironic thing (or thaaang) is that Sunny, who's status as the Hip Hop caterer is mentioned in her Food Network bio, is much less shall we say, marked in her soulfood orientation then the other black hosts on food network The Neelys "Down Home with the Neelys" and Aaron McCargo, Jr "Big Daddy's House."
"Soul Food" is part of a great culinary tradition and it is wonderful to celebrate African-American food culture and perspectives as part of the network, but I just feel that every time I see a promo for the Neelys sandwiched into the other programming on food network, I feel as if I am watching Hattie McDaniel in "Gone with the Wind."
I turn on the TV and see so many images of black people that seem targeted to very narrow perspective of black people, and the reason why I am over it is not because I have a problem with the culture or want to see it "toned down" but rather and please tell me if I am being racist, I simply think it is reductive to black people. Now perhaps I am saying that they should "act white" and don't realize it...but why the fuck can't it just be someone smart who knows how to cook who happens to be black. I know some black people who can cook, but in some crazy soul food only way, they are just good cooks.