Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Girls at MAC Wear Black



I've finally decided to stop lying around and get a job in NYC. Albeit a temp job (ha! as if I could find anything else!). At any rate, my first temp job was/is at MAC, a cosmetics company, which I'd never previously heard of, but which is apparently very big world-wide. My job was to smear samples of cosmetics---eye shadow, lip gloss, lipstick, mascara, etc.---onto squares on sheets of paper. A bit tedious, but also flashing me back to kindergarten and coloring, which I always liked and got kudos for.

What was most interesting to me was being around the whole "fashion culture" for the first time. To start, my temp-agency agent told me to be sure and wear black---all black---when I showed up at MAC. I'd told my agent that I was from Texas, and I thought she was just messing with me, since Southerners are, I guess, known for wearing pastels or something. But no---when I went to MAC on my first day, I asked my boss: "For real, we have to wear all black?!" She was extremely nice---"Yeah, that's just what we kind of wear. But not on Fridays. On Fridays you can wear different colors. But not red. I've never seen anyone wear red." (Woooooo! I cut loose with a smoky blue shirt this past Friday.)

The second thing I noticed about said culture is that: The women are very nice-looking and extremely well-put-together. Living among the Dominicans in Washington Heights in north Manhattan, I feel very blonde and sexy. In SoHo (MAC's location), however, I feel, in comparison, like a big ol' non-famous frump. I guess there are two ways of dealing with that: One, I should "Just Be Me" and "Be Happy With Me." Two, I should get off my ass and exercise and get better makeup and clothes. Hmmmm... I think I'll get off my damn lazy ass and get some clothes! Seriously, the girls I've seen walking around in SoHo are, if not HOT, then at least interesting-looking! I half-expected to see Lindsay on my lunch-hour today.

Speaking of lunch-hour: A tourist shot photos of me today! I was sitting in front of a building scarfing down a slice of pizza during my lunch hour, and I looked up to see a guy across the street shooting me! I was puzzled: "Am I sitting in front of a historic building?" I wasn't. And then I wondered: "Is he shooting me 'cause I'm so New York or 'cause I'm so weird?" Whichever,look for my "slice of New York" photo on some freak's blog in the coming weeks!

I am absolutely in love with SoHo... what a pretty---nay, gorgeous!---part of town. Now...I'll just get to work on my best-selling novel so I can eventually afford to live there.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Big Pile o' Crap Alert

This just in from Neily, one of the creepy trio whose Joan Crawford book was supposed to be out already (the publisher nixed the book, but Neily's still pretending it's coming out "later"):

"I have been working hard on the upcoming Joan Crawford book with co-authors Michelle Vogel and Joan Crawford's own grandson, Casey Lalonde. This book will hopefully shed a new light on Joan. Casey, Michelle and I also have a huge project that we are so excited about because it will without a doubt shed some new light on Joan Crawford. We will most likely announce this “news” in a few months."

First of all, Michelle Vogel's writing skills are...amateurish. Don't look to me for critique, just look up her reviews on Amazon. She apparently puts out a book every 6 months, and they all...read as if they're put out every 6 months. Her reviews are terrible. Just as her last "Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters" was terrible.

Second of all, Joan Crawford's grandson Casey has been milking his 3 or 4 meetings as a toddler in the early '70s with his grandmother Joan for about 2 years now. And for some reason he's now the "expert" on all things Joan---??? The guy knows nothing about his grandmother other than what he reads on my website.

Third, I just have to laugh about Neily. What he usually does is copy items from my own Joan website, then back-date them a day or two on the "announcements" page and then proclaim "You heard it here first!" (And then e-mail me dramatically: "I have a son! I have a son! I'm family-oriented and you're not!" Not to be mean, but... Neily, your boyfriend fucked around on you while you were together and had a son...doh! I would say "Who cares," but since you've brought it up...your "happy family" isn't quite as happy as you've pretended it is. You're a complete, creepy hypocrite!)

UGH. Watching these 3 trying to make money from Joan's memory is repulsive.

"Stupid tourists!"



Thanks to my roommate for taking me on a car tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn Saturday. (I'm completely anal, so thanks to her patience with my "Um, could you crack your window when you smoke?" "Could you turn the heat down?" "Could you turn the radio down?" "Could you not flick ashes on me and not touch my boob when you gesture??" But that's just me. Despite me, she was a very patient guide.)

We saw bits of Brooklyn and Brighton Beach, stopping by the Atlantic for a brief whiff of East-coast ocean air. (I smelled it, she didn't.) To me, the Brighton Beach sea-bordering homes were depressing as hell. For one thing, they reminded me of San Francisco "suburban" homes, which I hated while I lived in that city. The main drag of Brighton Beach was Russian to the core---lots of shops and activity as we drove by there around 6pm on a Saturday night under a subway line, but... being around Russian immigrants depresses me. Call me shallow, but... When I lived in SF in the mid-90s, I was also in a Russian immigrant 'hood, which was also depressing, 'cause people always looked at me funny since I wasn't Russian! Though I took Russian for 2 semesters in college (the "glamour" of the 1917 Revolution inspiring me), and I enjoyed translating the Cyrillic of the store-fronts this past evening... No way would I want to live in this particular 'hood!

A friendly thing about our hours-long jaunt about town was the willingness of random folks on the street to give us directions when we got lost in Brooklyn. My roomie thought that was worth mentioning. I thought it seemed like normal behavior for New Yorkers---In the past 3 years, I've visited NYC 3 times and have been living here for 6 weeks now. Never once has anyone been rude to me when I asked them for help!

Which flashes me back to a couple of past-life experiences: One, as a kid, visiting St. Augustine, Florida, one of the oldest cities in the US... My mom, dad, brother, and I were out walking in the town and it started to rain. We all started to run for the car, and then a car-load of guys driving by yelled at us: "Stupid Yankees!" Jeez! I was 10 years old or something, but it made me feel creepy; even at that age, I was analyzing: "First of all, we're from Texas. Second of all, why on earth would we be 'Stupid Yankees'? Because we were caught in the rain??"

Another creepy tourist experience took place when I lived in San Francisco in the mid-90s: I'd been there as a grad student for about a year, and my Austin friend flew out to visit me. Her husband brewed beer for a brew-pub in Austin, and we were on the look-out for SF pubs, walking the streets, looking at a map as we walked... Sure enough, we got a carload of people yelling at us: "Stupid tourists!"

What the fuck?!

Which reminds me also of some snotty media comments I've read here and there regarding retirees who travel around the country sight-seeing... Why in the world would traveling the country to sight-see be a detrimental thing? Seriously, shouldn't the desire to see other places in the US be considered a GOOD thing? And not just as a retiree... shouldn't the fact that people come to your town to look around be a COMPLIMENT?

I think to New Yorkers (many of whom are new themselves) it IS indeed a compliment; an annoyance at times, yes, but also a compliment. I'd be mightily surprised if a New Yorker saw me studying my map on a street corner and yelled "Tourist!" at me. How provincial that would be. How dumb-ass.

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Why Do Straights Hate Gays?"

Larry Kramer in the LA Times.

Things go along just swimmingly in your everyday gay life (if you happen to be living in a big city, that is). And then you read bad shit like the above, which unfortunately reinforces what you've just been watching on the mainstream news channels, but haven't been wanting to believe, since you've been feeling so "safe"...

Why the fuck is saying "nigger" on the air verboten, but saying "faggot" still OK? And why the fuck are black men, of all people, so weirdly anti-faggot, when they themselves have long been the targets of irrational prejudice?

Think about it, all you once-and-current "oppressed people"---and let's just use the military for an example: At one point, black men weren't allowed in the military. Would cause too much disruption for the prejudiced white boys.

Later, women weren't allowed. Would cause too much disruption for the prejudiced boys.

And today, gays aren't officially allowed in the military...would cause too much disruption for the prejudiced straight boys.

Start to see a pattern that perhaps the prejudiced BOYS have the problem?? (Or that prejudiced-boy surrogates like Ann Coulter have the problem?) When WILL any public leader stand up and say OUT LOUD that the anti-gay rhetoric is downright wrong? A bunch of fucking cowards we have for "leaders."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dusty Springfield/Carole Pope




My roommate turned me on to the under-recognized Canadian singer Carole Pope... don't much like her music (Meat-Loaf-ish, very late-70s, though her bondage-image was cool and avant-garde at the time), but I was interested in her 6-month affair, according to her 2000 bio (courtesy of roomie), with Dusty Springfield. Dusty was apparently a big ol' mess (drinking heavily to the point of hospitalization and cutting herself), but there were also sexy/cute things like Dusty singing to Carole in bed when they were lying next to each other and Dusty's blow-by-blow accounting of the Charles/Di wedding... The bio itself was dull-ish, being that "Canadian stardom" is kind of dull (though Pope made forays into NYC and now lives in LA). Pope did appear on MTV in its early days and on "Solid Gold" (lead singer of "Rough Trade"), and did have several albums out, but the Springfield episode was pretty much the highlight of her public existence.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

FRISCO FRISCO FRISCO

Back when I was in grad school in San Francisco in '94-95, I had no urge to call the town "Frisco," yet I heard reiterated a hundred-snotty-times: "Don't call it 'Frisco.'" You know what, fuck you, "Frisco." That's what's so dumbly snotty about the city: "Frisco" should be a cool thing, a complimentary nickname. But noooooo...

In this week's "Village Voice" (out of NYC), a young writer trying to be cool followed the decades-old-line, trying to correct a "Frisco" mention by a local rapper: "It's NOT called 'Frisco'." My take on that would be: If a rapper mentions "Frisco"---then probably he's been to "Frisco" and it's "Frisco," ya dumb 20-year-old Columbia graduate!

Perhaps if we all started calling "San Francisco" "Frisco" then maybe they'd regenerate their lost art and music scene, ya think? There hasn't been anything going on there since the '60s.

Imagine if PC New Yorkers suddenly went on a snooty rampage: "Don't call us 'The Big Apple.'" Luckily there are 8 million or so New Yorkers, intellectuals as well as construction workers, who take pride in "The Big Apple" and wouldn't dream of being so stupid or obnoxious as to protest a friendly nickname.

It's the fuckin' Big Apple. And everyone here fuckin' knows it.

Chelsea Styles, AKA "The Canopy!"



I got a haircut in Austin from my regular stylist of 7 or 8 years just days before I left for New York City, trying to stave off the inevitable for as long as possible: having to get a new hair-dresser. This isn't a ladies' "Lifestyles" column, so I won't draw the whole dilemma out too much: In short, I'd been to the Chelsea area of New York to see some Joan Crawford movies; I'd seen a lot of hair salons in the area; I couldn't remember their names afterwards, so today when I decided I really needed my hair cut, I just looked in the Yellow Pages for names that started with "Chelsea."

Which led me to "Chelsea Styles," which is right across from the Chelsea Hotel (or, "Hotel Chelsea"---Please, don't get all "Frisco" on me). I called at 3:30, apologizing for the short notice, but did they have an opening...they did, for 4:30. When I arrived, I was expecting it to be a "hipper-than-thou" place---I'd put on extra makeup and dressed up a bit, in anticipation. Instead... there was one 75-year-old lady there getting her hair done in orange-vanilla who asked me about the weather; my own hairdresser was in her mid-60s and admired the bob I wanted, because she'd been seeing it since the '50s; the one (gay) male in the place looked like Robert Goulet, had worked there for 30 years, and had to go out and shovel snow after the store's canopy suddenly collapsed under the weight of yesterday's ice... I loved hearing the "CANOPY" conversations afterwards: SEVERAL OLD LADIES to PSEUDO-GOULET: "You really got your work-out for the day!" PSEUDO-GOULET: "For the DAY? You mean, for the YEAR!" [much laughter] Turns out, according to my own hairdresser, that just hours earlier on 23rd Street, yet ANOTHER CANOPY had collapsed from the snow, ALMOST injuring a young woman, who could not stop shaking afterwards! BEWARE OF THE SNOW-LADEN CANOPIES!!

OK, hair-story short: Once my wet hair was cut, the woman sent me to a big ol' hairdryer---the kind that comes down over your head and blows on you for 20 minutes! Yes, I was expecting a hand-held blow-dryer, per my past life 20th-century-experience... When I came out from under the Big Dryer, my hair looked like a fuzzy mushroom. Which my hairdresser insisted was instead "fluffy" and "natural." Upon my insistence, she did provide me with some mousse---a TON of mousse, sprayed directly into my own hand... "That's a lot of mousse..." "USE IT, QUICK!" OK, OK!!

You know, the cut wasn't horrible. It cost a mere $31, which is less than I paid for the exact cut I liked back in Austin, and is, I'm sure, way less than a more up-to-date (read: "hipper") Chelsea salon would charge. This first NYC cut wasn't particularly skillful or sexy, but... it's salvageable. And wearable for 5 or so weeks.

I didn't mind my venture into the world o' "Blue Velvet," but... if any female or gay male New Yorkers are out there reading, your hair salon recommendations would be GREATLY appreciated! :)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sinnataggen



Hey, lil' baby. You know you're cute and that I love you.

Mick Jagger/Rock 'n' Roll Circus



A couple of nights ago on the local PBS station I saw the Rolling Stones' 1968 TV special: "Rock and Roll Circus." What initially made me seek this out, aside from my general interest in '60s music, was the fact that I knew that John Lennon and Yoko had appeared on this special; it was John's first solo performance sans the Beatles. He performed "Yer Blues" (which would first appear on vinyl the next year on the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album "Live From Toronto"), under the band name "The Dirty Mac," which included Eric Clapton and Keith Richards on guitars...and Yoko in a black bag at the foot of the stage. (Luckily, the camera didn't show more than 2 seconds of her. I find that kind of thing pretentious as shit.) "The Dirty Mac"'s next song had the same backup band, but with a fiddle player (can't remember his name) and Yoko doing her now-"famous" caterwauling that did somehow manage to correspond with the squeaky fiddle.

That said... John and Yoko were interesting for historical purposes only. But what/who I was truly mesmerized by was Mick Jagger. Good lord, I've heard "androgyny" hyped out the wazoo ever since I was a teen, to the point where it had long become meaningless. But...this guy's eyes and face and body movements defied anything I'd ever read or seen before. Extremely erotic. Today, there's Prince and there are gay guys trying to act sexy (or provocative), but they're generic in comparison---Mick Jagger in 1968 was something truly, transcendently gorgeous. The censors couldn't touch him because they couldn't quite put their collective finger on what it was that was so odd and "scary"...

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y N-I-G-H-T!



I've written about the Bay City Rollers here before, but just wanted to reiterate... My very first favorite band. The very first two albums that I bought ("Dedication" and their debut album). The very first band I almost saw in concert. Which brings me to my current tale... Me and my Azle, Texas, friend Debbie (my best friend in junior high) ALMOST saw the Bay City Rollers in concert at the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, in something like 1978 or '79. My mom bought the tickets and was going to be our chaperone (since we were junior-high kids). Unfortunately, the group couldn't sell enough tickets, so had to cancel the show. The end. Debbie went on to become a groupie for KISS and Motley Crue and various death-metal bands (and has since become a regular professional businessperson), and I... went on to listen to the Beatles and Julie London.

Fast-forward 25 years: I checked out my high-school's website and got back in touch with Debbie. We e-mailed a couple of times, but one thing stood out: She said she's now living in Brooklyn, and if I ever needed help moving to NYC... At the time she mentioned that, I had no real plans, but when it came time for me to actually make the leap to the Big City, I got in touch with her. Turns out I didn't need to stay with her after all, but we still exchanged numbers and made indefinite plans to meet up in NYC at some point...

Long story short---the Bay City Rollers are playing in New Jersey on March 31! And Debbie and I are going together! I can't think of a better way for friends to hang out again after 25-odd years!

Love this town (and its surrounding, easily accessible areas)!

Snow snow snow snow snow snow SNOW!



Who needs 50 words? (Or however many the Eskimo allegedly have.) It's 4:30 am March 16, and the SNOW SNOW SNOW is coming down like mad. I'm absolutely enamored! I grew up in Texas, and every other year or so, there'd be one weather alert: "There might be an inch of snow"---which usually turned out to be, every 3 years, a tiny bit of ice, enough to completely shut down schools and work for a day.

For the past 3 days in NYC, it's been about 60. UGH. "Just like Austin," I thought. And I didn't WANT "just like Austin." I'd lived in Austin for 23 years, except for a 2-year stint in grad school in San Francisco in the mid-'90s, and like clockwork: come mid-March (i.e., "Spring Break" for the University of Texas and the SXSW music/film fest), all the trees bloomed and it was permanently spring. "Spring" lasting about a month, before 85-degree weather kicked in through June, then 90-to-100-degree weather through October.

I'm sure if I'd been in NYC since last November, I'd be dead sick of wintery-ness. But, a-ha, I HAVEN'T been here since November, only since February. I'm mean and selfish. I want some blizzards. The forecast for tomorrow and Saturday is: up to 6 inches of snow! Hurrah! Snow is magical. It's NEAT when it hits you in your face. I like trudging through it to buy a pack of cigs or some beer. Makes you feel challenged. And then cozy when you've finally made it to the "comfort" of the subway, or of your apartment. (But, really, check with me next year at this time, when I might perhaps be bitchin'..."goddamit, in Austin, it was never cold!" That will be the true test! ;p

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The city that never sleeps...hah!

A new city's not broken in 'til you've made a drunken food run in the wee small hours. Which I just did. At 5:40am, I trudged the 2 blocks to the McDonald's on Broadway, craving a McNuggets Happy Meal. Too bad for me, the store was closed. But with only 10 or so minutes to wait 'til the 6am store opening, I stood outside the store, feeling somewhat like a hooker for hanging around on the street in the dark. Only, I actually didn't feel like a hooker since there were plenty of people out and about. Though I did feel disgruntled---most hamburger joints in Austin are open 24/7, so what the hell happened to "the city that never sleeps," huh, huh?!

A couple of minutes before 6, another woman joined me in our short "line" outside the store. She said something in Spanish, which I didn't understand, and then she said, in English: "Are you German?" I laughed and gestured to my blonde hair, and she nodded. Now, I do happen to be HALF-German (mom), but it was funny to me that just being blonde would make someone think I was German! She didn't ask "Texan" or "Swedish" or any other stereotypical blonde thing... Anyway, it put me in a good mood for some reason. (The same way, back in the '80s, a guy at a bus-stop in Austin who asked me if I was from New Jersey---I guess 'cause I was wearing all black---made me feel good.)

When I got into the McDonald's though, I forgot about my joy-in-Germanity and was again disgruntled: At 6am they only served the breakfast menu, no McNuggets. Now, seriously---Austin, Texas, is small-town compared to NYC, yet Austin's McDonalds have the full dinner menu available 24 hours a day (not to mention side salads, which this McDonald's doesn't carry, ever).

Alright, the message for today is: This city sleeps. And Tiffany's has kids working at the counter.

Breakfast at Tiffany's



I went into Tiffany's today. Fifth Avenue in NYC has all the "big" stores: Tiffany's, Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf-Goodman, et al., and I went walking down "the row" today, checking stuff out. When I went into Tiffany's, it wasn't particularly glamorous: The salespeople looked like salespeople in an Austin mall's Zales Jeweler's store. Not a put-down, but just...that's how they looked---like young salespeople.

I was just reading a Capote bio (he's the author of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"), and he mentioned where he first heard the phrase: An older gay friend of his had just been with a young guy the night before. The next morning, the trick had been so good that the old guy was feeling generous and said, "Let's go eat breakfast---anywhere you want." The "richest" thing that the young guy could think of --- "I'd like breakfast at Tiffany's." The origin of the title of one of the most famous works of American literature: A dumb gay trick! Gotta love it!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mannahatta



MANNAHATTA (by Walt Whitman)

...I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.
Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient...


I see that I've got a lot of work to do. Born and raised in Texas, I was also simultaneously indoctrinated with Texas lore, in both school and my everyday life: the Alamo, et al. Now I'm looking out at the Hudson, not the Colorado, and there's a Revolutionary War heroes' cemetery two blocks down the street, with a plaque commemorating a battle on that very spot that we lost against the British. Of course I know, vaguely, about the Revolutionary War, but not specifically. It's also taken me a month to figure out what the hell "Long Island" is and where it is in relation to the island of Manhattan and Staten Island, et al. A whole other world. (Though I've enjoyed greatly walking around in 20-degree weather without complaining and having snow hit me in the face in Times Square, in awe of the blizzard against the neon billboards, and goose-bumpy at the tourists taking pictures of the blizzardy neon scene---"I'm in a place so beautiful that tourists take pictures of the scene.") The tugboats on the Hudson outside my window also remind me of the boats on the Rhine that I watched while visiting Germany as a young person 20 years ago, mesmerized by the strangeness of tugboats going by on a river.

I bought 4 books today in The Strand bookstore in Union Square: "The New York Chronology," "The Epic of New York City," "Literary Places: New York," and "Poems of New York." And then went and had some pizza while reading the new Village Voice and took a crowded subway home.


OBSERVATION (by Dorothy Parker)

If I don't drive around the park,
I'm pretty sure to make my mark.
If I'm in bed each night by ten,
I may get back my looks again.
If I abstain from fun and such,
I'll probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It Girl



Give her something serious to do onscreen, please.

Washington Heights






While I'm irritated at being called "Gringa" on the streets of my new north-Manhattan-Dominican-dominated NYC 'hood, I'm nonetheless damn happy to be here in this city! : ) My initial shopping excursions to nearby grocery stores were oh-so-difficult ("Where the HELL are the refried beans, and the Paul Mitchell products?!"), but I've since found other shops that come close to catering to my particular whims... which don't happen to include a yen for store-bought "Human Hair"! (Check out the marquee on that one store-front.)

That said, this Washington Heights 'hood is interesting (one block away is the site where George Washington lost a battle to the British in the Revolutionary War, now a cemetery; and then there's a house from the first Dutch settlement in the 1700s a few blocks further north). Plus the gorgeous view of the Hudson River outside my window... While I bitch about refried beans, I'm in the meantime mightily impressed by my beautiful, and historical, surroundings.

Not to mention already getting to see both "Flamingo Road" and "The Best of Everything" in my first 3 weeks here. (With "Sudden Fear" and "Johnny Guitar" upcoming in March.) Any place that looks this good AND offers up Joan films on a regular basis... I'm in love.