HAPPY HOLIDAYS from 1969

I haven’t blogged in like months. Wow. Well, the holidays came and went and for the second year in a row, my family, bo and I visited the Bethel Woods Center, the museum and venue which now stands on the site of Woodstock in 1969.

It is a religious experience for my parents and for me in that you can feel the essence of those times still thumping and pumping through the veins in the earth there. The museum is gorgeous and well-done and included hundreds of quotes, artifacts, full-size period vehicles decked out in great flower power paint jobs and lots and lots of clips and films showcasing a lot of the concert. Two rooms have at least 18 ft. screens showing footage and actual performances. My favorite, Joe Cocker, the tie-dyed Brit with his blue leather starred beatle boots opens the film show, as I laugh continually at his idiomatic mannerisms and gestures when performing. As a young person, I became enamored with the music and styles of the 1960′s thanks to a pair of hippie parents equally enamored. Spouting every word when tapes and records were on, the second concert of my life was The Monkees at ten or eleven.

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I only wish that my generation and the one younger could react to the current climate in some way similar to that of the Sixties and Seventies. The music, art, literature, and ideologies that emerged from the time of Woodstock brought forth a fervent youth so potent, that change actually came about. These days technology is shielding us from each other and ourselves. We have grown into a “me” culture, hellbent on satisfying our own needs, mostly shallow and selfish. Technology is simultaneously bringing us together and pushing us far far apart. We have lost touch with spirit, sensation, honesty, purity, and singlemindedness in communication. Things claiming they want to bring us together are more so hoping we buy the products advertised in the same places we hope to share time. Life has lost it’s beauty, it’s simplicity, it’s depth, and it’s emotion. I only wish I didn’t have a phone glued to my side all day. I only wish people still called one another and spent time without looking at work emails. We used to connect so much harder and stronger without all of this stuff clogging the airwaves and our brains. Music wasn’t only about creating a complicated algorithm to sell a record in the Sixties. Many many many musicians expelled tunes that were directly in line to their political and social beliefs and dreams. Music was made to create peace, understanding, comradery, hope, anger, outrage. It wasn’t even made, it was often an artistic outlet or even almost regurgitation of feeling. It was pure emotion more oft than not with Richie Havens improvising “freedom” while onstage at Woodstock, a direct anthem for black America and youth in general. Jim Morrison sang of shamanism and death, exposing his need for escapism in music and in life. Janis Joplin’s lyrics might have been simpler, but her raging screams brought light to a fighting angry soul within. Simon and Garfunkel’s peaceful lullabies told us tales of proposed quiet and rest, narratives of the marijuana culture that so desperately searched for life to be a lovely journey. Music was an escape, a newspaper headline, a beating heart trying to get yours to beat along, a lullaby for political sleep, a draft-dodging credo, enlightenment, it was electric and transitory and completely changed what it had been before. There were top 40 songs and there were the DJ’s who gave others a chance, seeing merit in something other than money. Live concerts, like today were experiences together, feelings had in tandem. With hands linked, arms outstretched to the sun, voices raised, and fervor brewing, the children of the 1960′s rocked our world. Why can’t we do that again?

Nearly 43 Years Ago…

Woah, I had not blogged for three weeks and interestingly enough, I have been working every day for three weeks.  Second day off is today and my flu or whatever it is is narrowing.

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There are a lot of people in this world.

Some words from Woodstock’s 2nd day, August 16th 1969 addressing the problem that there were too many people and too little resources. Apply these words to us today and they still ring true and should be followed. This was said after The Who performed “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

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This is one thing that i was gonna wait awhile before we talked about, but maybe we will talk about it now so you can think about it because you all, we all have to make some kind of plans for ourselves.  It’s a free concert from now on. That doesn’t mean that anything goes, what that means is we’re going to put the music up here for free.  Now, lets face the situation we’ve had thousands and thousands of people come here today many many more than we knew or even dreamt or thought possible.  We’re going to need each other to help each other to work this out because we’re taxing the systems that we have set up. We’re going to be bringing the food in. 

… Now, the one major thing that you have to remember tonight,. when you go back up to the woods to go to sleep or if you stay here, is that the man next to you it your brother. And you damn well better treat each other that way because if you don’t then we blow the whole thing, but we’ve got it, right there.


I
 live in NYC and thus I get asked for money every day from men, women, & children. There are throngs of people who brave the summer heat, filthy and bearing signs with something of the likes of “Homeless, tired, and hungry, please help.” Sometimes these people get on the train and beg, sometimes, they sleep peacefully with a can. I’m not going to lie, it takes a very rare day for me to open my wallet to these people. Not because I am an ignorant selfish jerk, but because they have become part of the urban landscape, commonplace and much like anything else we see regularly, always with their tales of woe, often with the same tale.  I often see the same people I’ve seen over the years with their same script. It takes a standout to take notice. Last night, as I was waiting for the train home after work, dozens and dozens of people began to flood the platform, waiting. As I walked down the platform to find a spot to park and wait, I saw a clean middle-aged man with a striped shirt approach a young hipster. He asked something I couldn’t hear and then I passed them. The man made his way down weaving in and out of the people waiting, mostly 20-30 year old white hipsters and asked his question. There was something about this man that I couldn’t deflect. As new age as it sounds, he had an aura. He finally made his way to me and by this time, I had come to the realization that he was asking everyone for money. He asked, in the most mannerly and respectful way possible, “excuse me, but do you have something to eat?” I looked into my bag and said, “No.”, which was true. His eyes probed into mine. There was something about him. I felt like he was a soothsayer or something, testing the morals of the people on the platform. His eyes stared straight into every person he asked and he shook me. After he left me, I felt crappy. No, I didn’t have anything to eat, but I did have money in my purse, which would give him something. He was carrying a bag with coconut water and what looked like a salad, so maybe someone had given him their dinner. He made his down the platform, his probing eyes, asking everyone in no exact manner and he turned and made his way back. When he had made his way back to the young blond man standing next to me, I couldn’t take it anymore. I reached into my bag and grabbed some money and handed it to him. He then made direct eye contact and said, “Thank you miss, you have helped an Army Veteran.” Flustered, I said, “Thank you!”

There was something about that man…I wish I could have given him a $100.

Home is Where the Baggage is

If you celebrate Christmas, it’s almost time.  Last week, some of my theater friends and I visited the professionally lit Christmas lights of the wealthy Brooklyn neighborhood, Dyker Heights. Blocks were ablaze and aflutter with gargantuan displays of larger-than-life Santas, nutcrackers, reindeer, carolers, and other fine blow-ups and statues. We frolicked to and fro each house’s display, each more ridiculous and more successful than the last. It was midnight, yet houses were still doubling their electrical bills by the minute, gleaming, glowing, shooting primary colored lights into the atmosphere.

If you’ve been to Brooklyn, you know that each section of it, or neighborhood, looks drastically different from the next.  They range from breathtaking and regal (Brooklyn Heights) to eclectic and seafaring (Red Hook) to dystopian and ramshackle (Bushwick), yet one thing seems to tie them and the rest of NYC property together, houses are small and tightly woven.  With that said, Dyker Heights is an exception.  Reminiscent of the suburbs where I grew up in Pennsylvania, houses span 3,000-4,000 sq. ft., they measure at least 2 stories tall and unlike almost every building in NYC, they are single family.

I’ve lived in NYC for the last six years and so my expectations for and requirements of my living situations have changed drastically since leaving my parents three story home with yard ten years ago. I no longer want to take the tudor mansion when playing the game of LIFE. What would I put in it’s cavernous walls? What would I do with all of those closets, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, and multiple garages? I do not know.

LIFE! Who didn't love it.

I now crave the tiny intimate quarters of the bungalow offered, or even the hurricane hideaway. I no longer need three to four bathrooms nor a bedroom big enough to roller skate in with a walk-in closet (actually, I take that back, I will accept a walk-in in place of an office) Anyway, living in New York, as opposed to say, Texas, gives us a much greater appreciation for space and a much decreased need for a heck of a lot of it.

In Dyker Heights, or should I say, Metropolitan Mansion Heights, they sure have a lot [of space].  What would have seemed normal seeing ten years ago, I now was prompted to scream out things like, “Holy shit!”, “single family??!!”, or “whata-whata-whata is that!?” when driving by.

Big Ole Mess

Growing up, and unbeknownest to me because of the size of other local homes, my parents house was masssive. We had three floors to live on plus a basement and garage and yard and acres and acres of woods. With that, came a large collection and amassing of stuff.  We, like goldfish, grow within the confines of the space we have. I had chairs and tables I bought from antique stores, clothing, shoes, snowsuits, dance shoes, soccer/basketball/sporting good items, games, drawings, paintings, art supplies, sewing machines, fabric, many many blankets and bed linens for different seasons, tools, ephemera, dishes… stuff…extra stuff…and spare stuff… When I moved away for college and was presented with half of a normal sized room, which I had to share with another lass, I shed some excess baggage.  Over the years, I moved into a bigger dorm room, then a house with a massive bedroom, which I didn’t know what to do with. I pushed all of my furniture to the periphery, unsure of how to use the space.

The most life-altering move of all was studying abroad in Italy. I could only bring what would fit in a large suitcase and a backpacking pack.  Weeks before the trip, I packed. Over the remaining weeks, I would take everything out, reduce my load and pack again.  Right before the trip, I had done this ritual many more times, re-assessing how much I wanted to literally put on my back, weighing how much worth and need each item had. Ultimately, I had quite a small amount for going thousands of miles away and I thanked myself for my dedication to my back.  Every weekend my school had a trip for us, visiting various towns in Italy, some requiring an overnight stay. Each trip, I packed a tiny backpack with one change of clothing, toothbrush, and snacks, a very manageable amount.  I laughed at the girls, lugging GIANT suitcases on-board the bus for less than a twenty-four hour trip. How could they possibly need these?  For Fall break, I decided to go to England and Spain.  I also decided to test myself. I, for one whole week, allowed myself only a backpack. It was a breeze getting on and off the planes, as well as traveling by bus from the airport and then by subway or cab to the hostel or room. I could also hide my bag in the shared room that first night and store it safely in a locker during the day. From this travel all over Italy, as well as Spain & England and a one month stay on a farm in the very north of Italy in the Alps and back to the U.S., I realized that we don’t need a hell of a lot to live.

Back in New York state, I moved and moved and moved again and became more accustomed to living in both tiny places and big spaces interchangeably.  Needing to move at least once a year once in Brooklyn, I gained and lost and gained and gained stuff as each new home dictated it’s quota. At one point, while subletting, I had a room literally   5′ x 10′ and I didn’t bat an eye. I would have loved more legroom, but rent was cheap and my needs were small.

This past summer I stayed with my cousin in LA for two months. I had a hard time deciding how to present myself as a New Yorker in Southern California and like the Italy preparations, I dueled over what to go with. Ultimately, I brought a large suitcase and yet found myself wearing a lot of the same things over and over and over again.I shouldn’t even have brought as much as I had.

I’m not trying to pretend that I haven’t increased my load in recent years, especially because of my clothing business, but I have become more conscious of what is essential and what is not.  I still struggle with letting things go or with not buying things I like, yet I am much more brash when it’s purging time.  In the end, after all this moving and changing, I have realized that it isn’t my stuff that makes up who I am.  When we have less and limit ourselves, our needs diminish. Instead of filling every nook and crany of our blank spaces and square footage and consuming more and more of what this crazy world tells us we should have; we should focus on having the things that really count.

Dressing Up!


Glamour of the 50′s, A Lost Art

Last night, my friend Chiara and I gushed over how much we like clothes on our way home from a dinner party.  She and I both agreed that playing dress-up as a grown woman is one of our favorite things, yet it’s also hard to pull off sometimes.  She has several vintage Chanel suits that she would love to don with her vintage white gloves, (so popular in the 50′s and a necessity for any woman going to Manhattan for the day from Brooklyn, like her mother did), but she can’t quite bring herself to do it.  Perhaps it’s the somewhat extinct convention of dressing up for going out everyday that is no longer exactly embraced on say, the Manhattan-bound F train from Brooklyn.  With ample stares from her fellow travelers, I could imagine Chiara appearing to be a fish out of water in the seas of black peacoats from Macy’s and denim jeans.

I know that there are scores of brave men, women, and children who do go beyond the vernacular and have a really wonderful style (the Sartorialist has proven this), but it’s still, tough.

The Sartorialist Captures Some Grace

I am one of those people who tends to have lost her filter as to what looks normal versus kinda nutty, but even still, I would love to go bigger and more over-the-top when it comes to dressing.  I had an ex-boyfriend who once claimed that he was embarrassed by the way I dressed and that I was just doing it “for attention”.  This marked the end of my feelings for him because he obviously didn’t get me.  I don’t dress up for attention, I dress up because I freaking love clothes! I love costumes and color relationships and sculptural clothing and fantastic details and incredible fabrics and costumes and period clothing and architecture and “putting together a look”.  Like Chiara, I wish the times when all women took extreme pride in the way they dressed, when fashion wasn’t just for movie stars and the cultural elite, the art fringes or off-kilter subcultures were still here. Everyone participated.  People in 1940′s Upper East Side  might not mirror those of say, 1940′s Wisconsin stock car racers, but they all sure as hell avoided wearing pajamas to the mall (happens in my hometown in PA).

Wisconsin Stock Car Racers

Things fit better, clothing wasn’t manufactured for quick sale and even quicker disposal.  Clothing was often handmade, careworn, cherished, and flaunted.

Seriously.
We Love You, Lucy, All Dolled Up

Even on television shows like, I Love Lucy, the characters were always dressed, even when cleaning at home.  Culture has changed and I shouldn’t bash it, but leaving a cocktail dress for a fancy event instead of just cocktails, well that’s no fun.  I have SO MANY dresses and outfits in my clothing arsenal, but I can’t seem to find too many occasions to flaunt them. My roommate has spent thousands of dollars on beautiful independent designer pieces that she views as art, but they decorate her closet complete with original tags.  She never finds a reason to actually wear them and resorts to jeans and tshirts every day. What a shame! I always implore her to go for it and swathe herself in her beautiful things, but she feels too shy, they aren’t what everybody else wears. She should bite the bullet and showcase these wonderful and just slightly unconventional wares. I think she should. I think I should. I think we all should.

Happy Monday!

Here are some belts to bring you back to the days of corsets and fitted waists:

Belts on Etsy! Click for link.

Rainy Days & Mondays Always Get Me Down… Well It’s Both

Long weekend full of work despite it being week’s end. I’m exhausted! Even still, I am happy to be on set of Law & Order SVU in my third installment as
Court room sketch artist. I actually did my best court room drawing on Friday and wish I could share it, but can’t! (til after the episode airs)
I really like working on this show. Everyone is really nice and zany AND in September, they had me audition for a principal role! (it was between me and another lady and she got it, but sheesh, so awesome to be in that room!) Anyway, great peeps.

I’m incredibly overwhelmed by how much great work is out there right now, be it television, books, films, plays, gallery shows…

There are SO MANY movies I desperately want to see, but that gets so freaking expensive. In no particular order, they are:

Drive
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Melancholia
The Artist
The Skin I Live In
Ides of March
We Need to Talk About Kevin (missed a chance to see it and Tilda Swinton talk last week because of a play i performed :(::::; )
Hugo
….like 60 others.

I got free tickets to The Artist in December. Woohoo!

Speaking of theater, my theater company’s Los Angeles chapter, 68 Cent Crew Theater Company, just opened a show this weekend… link!

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If you’re in LA, go check it out. Theyre one of the top theaters in LA and are full of some really talented people. James Franco is going to guest direct soon!

Have a great day!

Xo d

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Women & Sex

Sally Hawkins as Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky

I started watching Happy-Go-Lucky the other day c/o Netflix and was surprised at how different my idea of the film prior to seeing it was from the actual thing.  I thought Poppy was going to be this swinging, smiley, acceptor of all, which she was, but I was elated to find her also seething in personal comfort and with a raunchy mouth to boot.

Sally Hawkins as Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky

I find women who are open and comfortable with sexuality very refreshing in this era still struggling with openness and candidness about bodily functions.  I know it’s getting better and better and more and more p.c. to talk about these things, but I still have a lot of conversations with women (and men) who do not feel comfortable discussing.

I suppose it has a lot to do with how one was brought up.  Even still, my sister and I, who readily talk about sex and sexuality and other… things like…. (geez see, I am even having a hard time right now writing)… masturbation …(alright, I said it)… grew up with parents who never ever mentioned the word sex throughout our youth.  They were not affectionate and the idea of sex in marriage and daily life was distant to us.  It existed, yet it wasn’t palpable.

OK, well Poppy in H-G-L loves talking about vaginas and sex and innuendos of this sort regularly come out of her.

She Loves It

She Loves It

I wasn’t expecting this from the film, as I said, and I enjoyed it, which I had not said.  Sex is such a part of life and every culture, every age, every ideology.  There are those who abstain from it and writhe over the notion that people do it without matrimony et al.  There are those who find it to be their own religion, those who live for it and love for it.  They are those who don’t do it, but would like to.  There are sexual problems, there are sex therapists, there are pills and books and tapes and websites and self-help groups.  People have a really hard time with it, as sociologically-produced anxiety (and ailments) get in the way of most feeling somewhat normal.  Body image, performance, smells, tastes -ugh I can go on forever -everything has play in sex.  It’s not simply carnal. There are so many things, cerebral, that really put a damper on a good time, on a great time, or on any time at all.

Pornography isn’t only for the greying truck-driver to view in the booth off the highway.   It’s a ubiquitous genre of entertainment of different calibers; and something people are growing more comfortable with allotting into their daily television, movie, book, and conversation diet.  Even still, it’s very much a difficult, controversial, and head-achey part of life.

Although I often stare at women in 7″ heels and skirts up to here, this change in women is something I relish in.  Being comfortable exposing one’s body in public may be risque, ostentatious, “disgusting” or in poor taste, yet it denotes a departure from a history of shame, oppression, and an allegiance to the idea of skin-showing as dirty, slovenly, promiscuous, or immoral.

Puritanical ways need to let up a bit.  We’re all alive and most of us do things. A friend recently told me that she read of a sexual study of men and women.  Test subjects, both male and female, were hooked up to devices that would test their sexual arousal.  The subjects were then exposed to sexy racy woman-on-woman and man-on-man and hetero images and film clips.  Thereafter, they were asked if they had been aroused upon viewing each image.  Despite the devices saying YES YES I WAS AROUSED, the women more oft than not said, NO I WAS NOT AROUSED.  Conversely, the men always admitted to being aroused and no discrepancies showed in the machinery or tests.  Case in point.  Women still be shamin’.

Do what you want.  I’m not bashing abstinence, nor addiction, yet I wish for those who enjoy things or want to enjoy things, it were a little less scandalous, closeted, or impossible. To say the least.

LGBT sex is a whole other essay.

YAY

the heavenly view

the heavenly view

I’m not leaving new york and I have a new lease on life.  I have never used the phrase, “lease on life” before.  I can’t help but think it relates to a car commercial.

Anyway, I am one to give a lot of advice and often go off, expelling long monologues about a topic the subject is having trouble with.  I wouldn’t mind writing a self-help book, yet I think my stance on life is a little harder to swallow than most.  I don’t believe in marriage, I condone the slight use of drinking and/or drugs for mind expansion as opposed to the tyrannical prohibition of these things (which I think leads people to problems)…. I actually think I will end here with this.  I might be digging myself a 160 page blog hole.

Anyway, this is my advice:

see above

see above

When the going gets tough, forge through terrain that’s even more challenging than your challenges to test new waters.  Okay, for example, I was having a tough time in New York and was going to leave.  Instead, I threw out the things preventing me from changing… I tried to reinvent myself a bit.  I bit the bullet and gave NY a few more tries… it has a lot of opportunities, so I started applying to casting calls and started meeting new people and got into an art show and threw myself into the things that interested me, scared me, and overall would change me.  It worked.  It was a short short time, but I needed that stun to punch me and reawaken me.  I think this is completely vague, but I kind of took a step forward and step back.  I realized that I have been wearing clothing that doesn’t make me feel like a million sexy bucks.  I threw it away. I bought a few things that do make me feel like AMSB.  I submitted art to a show.  I put up a craigslist ad to be a personal chef.  I hung out with a new crowd….three times.  I put on airs.  I opened myself up a bit.  I’m smiling a lot more now.  I climbed out of the weird shell I was in.  I had been living in old skin and yet new skin was growing with force and pulsating inside of the old skin.  I came out (not gay, I came out of that bunker I was keeping myself in).  New York is a beautiful place.  It hardens you and gives you balls.  It opens your eyes to the sad sad dychotomies that exist in this world.  It’s raw and trying and unabashed about how screwed up a lot of us are.  It’s dirty and grimy, yet constantly trying to fix itself.  It tries hard.  It’s shallow and deep.  It’s creative and conservative.  It’s rich and poor.  Old and young.  Ugly and gorgeous.  Deep inside we are all of these things.  Some qualities fight and win over others, but we’re all lacking in some respects, ugly in others, hard-headed and open-minded…. When you push and pull your strings and threads, you move things around.  You shake and jolt and feel and unnerve and numb.  Try New York.  It does wonders for those who take it solidly by the hips and dance with it.  Get in it. You can’t stick to one restaurant all your life or one food for that matter.  If you run around and try the pate and the french fries and the Spam and the Champagne.  Try the two day old cold pizza and the street cart coffee.  Alligator meat and fast food hot dog.  Wedding cake, bake sale scone.  Love all of it. New York lets us do all of these things if we open ourselves to new people and places.  Don’t keep your mouth shut.  Scream at the top of your lungs.  Throw yourself into this world and see what happens.

Today as I was chasing Daisy, my stepdog around the pier overlooking the ocean and the Statue of Liberty and being beaten by the sun, and thereafter feeling around the washed up garbage for a stick to throw her, I was the happiest I’ve been in months.  I’m glowing.