Tuesday, February 26, 2013

If I had to guess, I think I have listened to the Siamese Dream album by the Smashing Pumpkins more than any other album ever made. 


Probably 5 years ago, I came across Billy Corgan's myspace profile.  Ah, shut up.  He had used the opportunity to post a link to a Livejournal account to which he was semi-secretly posting huge chapters of autobiographical writing.  He started in early childhood and detailed year after year of strange, faltering, confusing experiences.  Some of them were profoundly sad.  He left off around the time that he was writing his first album.  They weren't famous yet, and he was sleeping on a couch in a storage unit or something.  He was still having his strange and sad experiences then, and I would guess that he still is now.

Also, Gish.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Plath drahms

1. Sylvia Plath's death date rolled around last week.  I know this because I in some fucking incomprehensible moment had recorded it in my phone's calendar, and so on the morning of Feb. 11 received an alert that said "Plath 1963".  What?  I don't even.  And secondly, I noticed multiple blurbs on the internet and in the news.  I found it a little strange that her death date was so widely marked.  What other celebrities are as well known for their deaths as they are for their lives?  I hate that she's handled as such a grisly specter.  Does anyone ever talk about Hemingway's suicide?  Even Hunter Thompson's death is just a little footnote, but it's a big old deal when talking about Plath or Woolf or Sexton or whatever.  Is it more shocking when women kill themselves?  Or are people just focusing on their biographical details instead of their bodies of work, as usual.

2. Certain persons of taste are pissed off at the generic and lame cover chosen for Faber & Faber's 50th anniversary edition of The Bell Jar, which would imply that the book is a kicky vintage adventure rather than a broody, complex masterpiece.  Apparently, the book should come in packaging that suggests the difference between it and lower tiers of fiction.  Clearly, the argument is kind of asinine and can't be made without making some unkind characterizations of other types of books.  Then again, perhaps silly mispackaging is just another way for the world to try to negate something it doesn't care to understand.  I've seen a lot of stupid and confusing covers on many classic books.  Sometimes publishers are just tasteless, right?  More here.

I went to google to view prior covers of The Bell Jar, and noticed that tons of past covers have been every bit as dumb and irrelevant as this one.  Perhaps I should speculate on what each cover is trying to suggest about the book:

Note the dead rose. This book must be hell of dark. Incidentally, my favorite cover.

The scandal-making cover. This book is about a glamorous girl having an affair or something. Also, the 60s.

Obviously, this book is about craziness, because circles.

This book is about an exciting trip to New York!

An early cover, still bearing the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas.  This one pretty much says it, right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Night Toure

The artificial newness of Phoenix does things to people.  They freak out about weird stuff.  I know because I'm one of them.  Last night I was taking pictures of a hidden doorway on the corner of 1st & Jefferson because...the doors are like soooo old!  Some routine-ass turn of the century doors flipped me out.  I feel this viscerally enough that I think I would probably vandalize/steal from properties because, well, those doors should belong to me, not Dan Majerle, or whatever.  I mean, only from commercial properties.  I'm not that bad.  Or abandoned houses.  Nevermind.

I enjoy observing the way people react to my museum.  It is pretty unusual here.  It's definitely the only restored Victorian house in Phoenix that you can actually tour, and that probably applies to the entire megalopolis as well.  The others are either private or derelict.  Locals are amazed and almost disbelieving that it is authentic and in its original location, while people from eastern cities glance around like bored teenagers before disappearing into their phones.  Also, locals ALWAYS ask if it is haunted.  Because old houses like this are only seen in movies about ghosts.

No, dudes.  This house isn't haunted by anything but bad taste and the living (you should see some of these volunteers, whaaaaat). 

Anyway.  Some people came through for a night tour after an event a couple of weeks ago and I decided to take some poor quality phone pics of the house looking darker than usual.

 Pocket doors.  My favorite.  The good thing about people being idiots is they inadvertently protect things sometimes.  Example: some time in the 40s, the pocket doors were sealed up and a wall was erected in their place, thus protecting them from generations of abusive renters until restorers came along in the 70s.  The original wood floor was also protected by layers of linoleum!  The tin ceilings were protected when dumbasses lowered the ceiling to cut down on heating costs.  Bad taste kept the best original features intact.

Light ghosts!

Looking down Monroe from the turret.  I definitely try to scare people when I have occasion to be in the attic.  I just stand in the windows and wait for someone to notice me.  This is basically genetic assholishness.  My dad used to stand quietly behind doors wearing a Hulk (Incredible, not Hogan) mask, waiting for my mom to walk into the room so that he could lunge at her.  My mom has the constitution of an epileptic chicken, so it's probably lucky that she didn't die.  It was a pretty scary mask, after all. He once hung it over the handle of a vacuum cleaner, parked it in front of my bedroom door, and knocked.  It's one of my earliest memories. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Frosty Berliners

I watched the documentary "Marlene" about Marlene Dietrich after my husband Dick Cavett mentioned it on some podcast, saying it was wonderful and illuminating.  Actually, it was terrible.  Not because it was poorly done, but because Marlene is irritating.

Is that allowed?  I feel like a terrifying gay harpy a la Angels in America is going to come shrieking through my wall like the Kool-Aid Man and make me take it back.  Two metaphors, one sentence, there are no laws here.

She's such a contrarian.  I definitely get that she's just old and bitchy, but she is so committed to letting us all know that no one has her figured out or knows anything about her life.  This is a predictable response to being famous for 40 years, but it's goddamned irritating to listen to her say NEIN NEIN NEIN NEIN!!!!! when her interviewer mentions some factual incident or totally neutral perception of her.  She then presents some contradictory revisionist perspective, and maybe she's right, but she absolutely exhausts herself in letting us all know that she is an enigma.  Great, MD.  You're about 10% as enigmatic as your mom Garbo, so get over it.

She also refuses to actually appear in this documentary.  I think this is because she was old, and too vain to allow her elderly visage to be committed to film.  That makes me angry.  The way people struggle against aging is the most unseemly, embarrassing shit to witness, and refusing to let anyone SEE YOU because you don't belong in some panty-party cabaret anymore is so simple and ridiculous.  I know that aging is rough and often traumatic, but I think we've figured out by now that to struggle against it is a hundred times more graceless than to just accept the inevitable ravage that is the passage of time.  Also, it does a disservice to all of the impressionable people watching you, Marlene.  Anyway.  I realize that I'm speaking in the present tense and she's been dead for twenty years, but...no, that's it.  I also think it's so vain when people are like, "I want them to remember me as I was, not as I am now."  They will.  Don't worry. 

Dick Cavett said that Marlene called him up at home once.  He thought it was a practical joke on behalf of one of his friends, and hung up on her.  They managed to reconnect, and had a series of enjoyable chats that you can read about somewhere in his current NYT column, which is full of topics that are probably considered dusty and obscure by most people under retirement age, and which contain his delightful brand of sass and old man ire.  Mostly the latter.