a brief digression re: wallis windsor

wallis windsor by irving penn

you may remember the duchess of windsor from the king’s speech. she was wallis simpson then… the slutty vixen who wooed guy pierce with her american wiles, precipitating his abdication of the throne so colin firth could assume his rightful place as king.

confession: i was one of the eight people committed enough to the genre of royal bio-pics to venture out to see madonna’s much-maligned directorial debut during it’s six day chicago run. anticipating 90 minutes of luxe vapidity, i was pleasantly surprised.

the critical savaging of w.e. likely says more about the public’s relationship to madonna than it does about her film…

(would that i were in grad school and in need of doctoral thesis right.this.minute, i’d be all over the tonal difference in the reviews of madonna’s “glossy”, “sloppy”, “hubristic” w.e. versus those of ralph fiennes’s “outstanding”, “strong”, “purposeful”, “admireable”, “aptly fierce” coriolanus. similarly flawed yet bold directorial debuts, Shakespeare directed by an Actor is hailed for its ballsiness while the film written and directed by madonna is slagged as a “gluttenous feast of self-pity by women with a total lack of self-awareness.” grrrrrrrrrrrrrr that.) Continue reading

sir anthony

i’m sitting in row 38. sir anthony hopkins is to my left.

because if you’re sir anthony hopkins, that’s obviously where you’re going to be. in economy, in a middle seat on a continental flight out of orange county.

i’d seen sir anthony before. hollywood descended on hyde park for the filming of proof just as i arrived for graduate school and so my early days at the university of chicago were bizarrely studded with stars. gwyneth paltrow and jake gyllenhaal and sir anthony were all there. but sir anthony was the only celebrity i saw in the flesh.

one morning, as a friend and i walked to social sciences 122, sir anthony was traversing the quad. he was wearing a tan suit, drinking an orange smoothie and wearing orange makeup a solid inch thick. the overall effect was one of extreme technicolor, as though he had been shot through a tangerine filter while we were living in plain old black and white.

so i knew what sir anthony looked like. which is how i knew he was sitting next to me on continental flight #436.

after a multitude of furtive glances, i was absolutely convinced of it and began wracking my brain for a suitably obscure performance to compliment at the end of our flight- when he would have so enjoyed the 3 hours and 25 minutes of a privacy i had allowed him that my brief violation of it to acknowledge his contributions to film would simply make him appreciate, in retrospect, the spectacle of my in-flight discretion.

i’d just decided on bobby over proof when sir anthony stood up and said in the loudest, most american voice i’ve ever heard: excuse me, ma’am, i have to go to the bathroom.

so maybe i don’t know what sir anthony looks like after all.

some lessons learned

jackie - warhol

biography does not do wonders for your love life.
jackie loved parades.
the suburbs aren’t that far away.
neither is evanston.
don’t go to the dutch pancake place the day after halloween.
always follow-up.
UCLA is not USC.
pick your pen name before you publish.
know that it will be mispronounced 75% of the time.
checking out books doesn’t mean you’ll read them.
reading books doesn’t mean you’ll remember them.
accept paypal.
splurge on your business cards.
wear fake fuchsia bangs.
it’s good to have friends of friends in foreign lands.
don’t do anything stressful after giving blood.
god sleeps from 12 to 3 a.m.
don’t be intimidated by technology.
if you ask, people will give you columns.
bring extra batteries.
never ever drive to memphis.
try to remember toothpaste.
book reviews are where the money’s at.
wash your hair.
send flowers.
read the book.
say yes.
some people improve upon acquaintance.
a fortune can be built with $5 bills.

t-minus 597

Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses

the philosopher is in town. we’re standing, shivering, on the boardwalk looking out on lake michigan when he asks what exactly the end outcome of the 20.09.13 plan is supposed to be.

and i give some whole blah-bitty-blah-crap answer about how where i live isn’t going to matter and how i’m going to be as mobile as i want to be. which kind of sort of maybe is what this was about in the beginning, but is really not at all what it’s all about now.

it’s funny, how you can have such a sense of where you’re going and see so many pieces of the picture without being able to precisely articulate what it is you’re doing or what it is you see.

i see jackie. that is all. i don’t know where she’ll take me, but i’ll go wherever she leads. she’s my adventure. and, at the moment, all i want, all i crave, all i need is biography and adventure. nothing else. except maybe paris.

in light of this (uncertainty?), it’s tempting to resort to labels. to attach all hopes and dreams to a finalized manuscript or a published book or a freelance job. but that feels limiting. which feels wrong.

i don’t want to be limited. i’m too in love with possibility.

right now, the end outcome of the 20.09.13 plan is an unknown and the 20.09.13 plan itself is about suspending expectations. about seeing what may come from that. from that massive, incredibly daunting void of not knowing.

as is the case with everything, there’s a jackie anecdote for this: she’s wearing a bikini and sitting on a greek beach sipping champagne with an old friend. and she turns to the old friend and she says, “do you realize how lucky we are? to have gotten out of that world we came from. that narrow world of newport [… to] have taken such a big bite out of life.”

she says this and then she smiles.

the only thing that is certain about 20 september 2013 is that i will have taken one hell of a big bite out of life and twelve million small steps forward since 20 september 2010.

that is all i know. and it is enough.