Barbulatory

January 26, 2017 § Leave a comment

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Thank you, WordPress.  I’d been hoping to snag that domain for a while.

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BOOK: Edie: American Girl

January 25, 2017 § Leave a comment

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This book is the story of Edie Sedgwick, the socialite turned Andy Warhol It Girl.  Told as montage of personal account of various people who were close to Edie and those in her circles, this book was a huge hit when it came out in the early 1980s and serves as an oral history of the pop art world of the 60s.

Going into this book I knew virtually nothing about Andy Warhol and that scene.  I read Just Kids when it first came out (so good, highly recommend), but that was it.

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Obviously the major draw of this book is the glamour.  Even with my limited knowledge I recognized a lot of names.

It’s an interesting period and super glamorous scene, and the story of a girl making her way from a wealthy, traditional, aristocratic family into Andy Warhol’s world in New York parallels ideologies that largely defined that generation.  The rebellion, the breaking of tradition, the exploration, the escape.

And of course in addition to that there is the ugly underbelly–family secrets, dysfunctional relationships, a beautiful girl’s descent into the world of addiction that ultimately leads to a fatal drug overdose at 28.

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A lot of people complained about the format of this book, how it was too disjointed, labor-intensive, and intentionally “Warhol-esque”.  It didn’t bother me.  In fact, in one of her books Gloria Steinem said, “No wonder oral history turns out to be more accurate than written history.  The first is handed down from the many who were present.  The second is written by the few who probably weren’t.”  For that reason alone I found the personal accounts to be more engaging than a straightforward narrative.

Plus the book has pictures, and they are great.

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The overarching narrative is the same tragic story we’ve heard a million times. Glittery celebrity on the outside, addiction, pain, self-destruction on the inside.

Actually, now that I think about it, in some ways this book is kind of like an extended, special edition 1960s issue of Us Weekly (which I love, despite the fact I firmly believe that this type of media contributes heavily to the degradation of society…now more than ever.  And yes, I realize I am part of the problem.)   The difference, of course, being that instead of stories about the Kardashians and Real Housewives, you have icons like William Boroughs, Patti Smith, Truman Capote, Lou Reed…she even dated Bob Dylan briefly.  Which makes it feel less trivial.

But the bare bones are still the same.  And even though the actual narrative can be shallow, even boring at times, for some reason watching that inevitable descent of these larger than life people in such a “fabulous” world makes for an addicting story.

…but doesn’t it always.

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“The tragedy was that along with their happiness, and their incredible appetite for life, the forces of darkness were always there, although you would never have known it: the surface looked so good.  So it was a life of extremes — paradise and paradise lost.”
~Saucie Sedgewick, Edie’s eldest sister

1.21.17

January 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

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photo via leilasadeghee

On Saturday, a consequence of being responsible and planning ahead and buying tickets in October, I was experiencing the early stages of a nasty flu at LAX with these two:

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…while apparently everyone else in the world was doing this.

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DTLA

Or at least 750,000 Angelenos were.

To say I was bummed to miss this would be an understatement.

All day long I was getting texts from friends all over the country.  And that night, after a long flight and drive through rural northern Kentucky, I scrolled through my IG feed…

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…and was overcome…

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….for the first time…

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…in a very long while…

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…with a sense of wonder…

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…and pride…

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…and love…

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…and optimism…

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…and hope for our country.

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Even though I had been lugging a 45 lb carseat through the airport instead of a sign down Hill Street.

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I spent Saturday night in a flu-induced haze and the next morning, after Paul fed me some night-time flu meds and I started to finally drift off into a drug-induced sleep, he said, “Top headline in my news feed today: ‘Zero Arrests at Historic LA Women’s March’.”

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I remember my father telling me, just before the election, when we all thought we knew how it would end, “You don’t even realize, your generation is standing on the shoulders of giants.”

In 2013 TIME Magazine had a cover story that labeled this generation lazy, narcissistic, and “informed but inactive”.  The article, which wasn’t entirely critical, concluded with this thought:

“So, yes, we have all that data about narcissism and laziness and entitlement. But a generation’s greatness isn’t determined by data; it’s determined by how they react to the challenges that befall them.”

Maybe this is the first major challenge to befall this generation, and maybe this is the first chance to see a collective reaction.  Maybe this generation will be the one to carry on the legacy of those giants.

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Thank you to everyone who marched and represented our country with such dignity and restraint.  It matters.

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…and with that, enough political posts…back to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s Today

January 20, 2017 § Leave a comment

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Our three-year-old’s favorite place mat.  Breakfast will never be quite the same again.

 

Weekend

January 15, 2017 § Leave a comment

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Filed under: things I did not do today.

Well I guess this is growing up

January 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

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A few weekends ago, on the way to sleep over at an old friend’s house, just like we did in the olden days, I stopped by the store to pick up some essentials.  The people behind me in line were apparently going on an organic kale, ginger, and lemon juice cleanse.  I got ice cream and two cakes.

I walked in the front door of the house, a house that had served as a second home in high school, to be greeted by the same friends, standing in the same kitchen, wearing (possibly the same) sweats, talking over each other. It could have been 1997.

We were so excited.  It was going to be just like before.

Except that since our last slumber party, Friend #1 (owner of the house) has graduated from college, gotten married, had babies, and bought the house from her parents.

And instead of ordering Dominos, Friend #2 made the pizza FROM SCRATCH (including the crust) and brought an incredible fancy appetizer of mussels with some sort of divine garlic dressing (marinade?) on it.

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And she made her own bread.

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A nice pairing to the gourmet dessert.

And this time, instead of gearing up to watch an ‘N Sync special for the 18th time that someone had taped off of MTV on VHS, we were prepping for Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids Concert on Netflix.

Oh, and there was this:

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Tearing around the house.

So instead of eating pizza in front of the TV with YM mags to warm up for the main event, we fed these four, bathed them, dressed them, and wrangled them into bed.

Then we settled in with our beverages and Netflix.  We were so ready.

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…only to be interrupted about 5 minutes later from squealing coming from one of the rooms.

Repeat every 5 minutes.  For the next hour.

After an hour we were about 15 minutes into the 2 hour concert because of all the pausing.

Then Friend #2 who was, in her day, one of the most die-hard boy band fans I have ever known, tilted her head at JT on the screen and, through a mild scowl, said, “Why would anyone pay hundreds of dollars to watch this live?  He’d be like a tiny speck.”

…and that was it.  Things just weren’t the same.

With a few sad, defeated glances around the room, we fast forwarded to the one song everyone wanted to hear and then turned it off.

Then we fell asleep at 10.

Thomas Moore wrote:

Ev’ry season has it’s pleasures;
Spring may boast her flow’ry prime,
Yet the vineyard’s ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn’s sob’rer time.
So life’s year begins and closes;
Days, though short’ning, still can shine;
What though youth gave love and roses,

Age still leaves us friends and wine.

A beautiful reflection on the passing of time, the relationship between what is and what was, and how beauty and value can evolve without being lost.

…plus we still know the choreography.  At least we’ll always have that.

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BOOK: Zorba the Greek

January 5, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“Once again I reassured myself that happiness is something simple and self-restrained — a glass of wine, a chestnut, a paltry brazier, the sea’s rumble, nothing else.  The only requirement for one to sense that all this is happiness is to possess a heart that is also simple and self-restrained.”

I read Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis for the first time in high school.  I remember it being a beautiful book, with lots of noteworthy passages.  I had a quote from it taped above my desk in college:

“As I watched the seagulls I thought: That is the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust.”

I loved that quote.  But it’s basically all I remember.

I had an old copy of it lying around, and the book has been called “one of the greatest life-affirming novels of our time.”  So I decided to give it another go.

Basic plot: the narrator, a 35 year old brooding intellectual is sitting in a cafe moping about a past relationship when he meets Alexis Zorba, a spirited, exuberant older man.  The narrator, enraptured by Zorba’s spirit, invites Zorba to join him as a business partner on the island of Crete where he is re-opening a lignite mine.  The book is the story of their time together living in a small, rural Greek town.

I didn’t remember much of the plot from my first go-round and to be honest, I now realize why.  The story was kind of strange.  Scenes felt contrived and choppy, inserted into the plot to expose certain philosophies as opposed to carry the storyline.  The narrator seemed whiny, and Zorba, the hero of the novel, came across as shallow, selfish, and outright crazy.  Everything seemed a little melodramatic.

Another thing I did not remember is the role of women in the story.  The way the men use them, and the way they refer to them (a few examples: brazen bitch, brood mare, slut, whore, hussy, wench, “having no brains”…)

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I thought maybe it was just me, that I was being a little hypersensitive because we were mid-election and there was all sorts of talk coming from our country’s leaders about grabbing body parts and blood coming out of wherever.  But really:

(Describing a Russian man dance):
“I watched his hands, feet, chest, eyes, and understood everything: how they had entered Novorossiysk, killed the bosses, looted the shops, entered homes and grabbed the women, who at first wept, scratched at their own faces, scratched the men’s faces, but grew tame over time, the hussies, shut their eyes, and squealed with pleasure. Women, after all!”

I understand that this was written in 1950s about rural Greek society.  Still.

I finished this book thinking, wtf.  Of all the books out there, THIS is consistently on the “Top 100 Books of All Time” list?

But I finished it.  And a few days later I sat there thinking about the fact that in spite of the above, I kept reading.  Because intertwined in this story of a twisted society with imperfect, ugly people and barbaric, unpalatable scenes, are beautiful, poetic prose about that same world:

“It had begun to grow dark.  The western sky had acquired great sweetness: somberly violet beneath small, scattered clouds with golden edges weaving gently in and out of hte evening light and incessantly changing form — sometimes boats, sometimes swans, sometimes fantastic wild beasts made of cotton and frayed silk.”

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And I thought: Maybe that’s the point.  That these passages, sprinkled amongst the disturbing plot twists and character interactions, were what kept me coming back to a world that, on the surface, turned me off in so many ways.

Maybe this book is way more meta then I initially thought.

Kafka said: “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”

People are cruel, the world is ugly, society is barbaric, and often times there isn’t much you can do to stop or change that.  This is as true today as it was then.  But mixed in with all of that is a beauty in the things we do and experience every day.  But to see it we have to get out, we have to engage, which means exposing ourselves to the not-so-beautiful as well.

So maybe Zorba’s heroism lies not the fact that he is callous or dismissive of the ugliness surrounding him, but that unlike the narrator he is able to move through the world without shouldering the burden of everything bad.  He may seem insensitive and irresponsible at times (because he is), but his strength is in that he manages to revel in the good, which keeps him young and alive.

This book is about contradictions.  It’s about how to live, and about humanity.   Zorba wasn’t a perfect person.  But his vigor and successful quest for happiness made him a hero nonetheless.

“God changes his appearance every second.  Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises.”

…or maybe that’s not it at all.  Maybe I just need more sleep.

As I was sitting there pondering these deep, deep thoughts (aka zoning out), my three year old came marching over to me, naked, with a gross old baby blanket draped around her neck like a cape:

“Mommy, can you play some music please?”
“Uh, sure I can…where are your clothes?”
“No, I’m wearing my dress because I need to dance.  Isn’t my dress sooooooooo beautiful?”

Yes, yes it is.

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“…there is only one life for all men…there is no other…all that can be enjoyed must be enjoyed here.”