December 21, 2005

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

Aside from being engrossing and masterful, Good Night, and Good Luck is absolutely gorgeous, a visually sensual delight. Hopefully there will be nominations for cinematography (Robert Elswit) and art direction (Christa Munro) to go with all of Clooney’s deserved accolades.

One of Clooney’s greatest directorial accomplishments in this movie is Cigarette Continuity. There is nothing peskier than keeping the lengths of a burning cigarette consistent during take after take of a scene, and it’s the easiest blooper to spot in a film.
Good Night, and Good Luck has about a thousand smokes per frame a-blazin’, yet I spotted only one overt inconsistency (when Murrow and Friendly are being admonished in Paley’s office). I’m guessing that all the group scenes were shot as continuous takes with multiple cameras, which means this troupe had to rehearse that screenplay to within an inch of daylight before a single frame was shot. All because this film borders on cigarette pornography.

Speaking of:
I spent most of the evening contemplating the film, and also worrying that maybe Clooney spends too much time glorifying the past, and longing for the past is a psychological sign of regret.

With all of these sugarplums dancing in my head, I wound up dreaming about having sex with George Clooney.
Thumbs Up!
This dream also featured the very first time I ever flew. That’s a common dream theme, but I’d yet to do so until last night’s casual float through the nighttime sky. I’m not sure if the two R.E.M. events were related, but I did remember a curious fact.

The very first MELT entry was about how George Clooney watched over me while recovering from traumatically painful surgery. Now, he returns to “relieve stress” during this abominable holiday lunacy.

Odd...Clooney has become the Saint Bernard with the tiny barrel of whiskey under his neck, bounding across the tundra to rescue me. Now, I'm not certain that the barrel would be full... he's been known to have a nip or 3 or 7. And if he's looking to have kids, he can't bark up my tree.
But I do wish him good night, good luck, and sweet dreams.

December 15, 2005

All I Want For Christmas

Starring in an upcoming movie together, Matt and Owen hit the town last night.
It's exactly this type of thing that has me howling at the moon. In a parallel universe, Matt is my ideal husband, while Owen is runner up. And then the universe conspires to bring them together

If fate has gone through this much trouble just for me, shouldn't I be there with them? Am I letting the Powers That Be down by remaining immobile in the face of this divine intervention?
Probably.

If I weren't so freaked out by this Hormonal Convergence, I would have been at that party with them last night...

We would have arrived fashionably late, eyes all a-twinkle from fruity Smirnoff drinks during the drive over. Once there, we'd have a few rounds of scotch on the rocks before carousing with guests. Twisting here, rolls of the dice there, often laughing so hard we snort like Chrissie Snow. We'd sneak outside for illicit smokes, come inside to whoopee cushion Maria Shriver, and rank on Johnny Knoxville for gettin' busy with that Jessica Simpson transvestite.

After an hour of this merriment, We 3 leave to satisy our munchies with a round of Moon Pies and Yohoos from the nearby 7-11. After procurring some Schlitz from the QT, we do beer bongs while driving up to the Hollywood sign. Once there, with headlights shining, Matt climbs atop the "D" and bellows into the night: "I'm A Golden Globe God!"

Yes, congratulations to Matt Dillon for that well-earned Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe nomination. Many an actor would have killed for that part in
Crash, especially the pivotal scene which surely earned him the nomination. But it's all Matt's; no one could have done it better. Fingers crossed that he gets the award!

December 06, 2005

Marilyn Monroe Returns

On December 3rd, I got an e-mail from "abba-dabba," a business partner of the Marilyn Shrine artist Kabbaz.

I thought that art book had slammed shut, but with one small message, I knew more chapters were being written. Turns out "they" have heard of my interest in the work, gave me a link to the updated Kabbaz website, and wrote that if I liked what was done in the past, I'm really going to like what's coming up.

I was simply thrilled that they had made contact, and knew how much I loved the silent art gallery. But then with the promise of something new to come? Is this a holiday miracle?

Today, I drove by the store front and SHE'S BACK! And in fitting tribute to coming back from the dead, it's a replica of her LIFE magazine cover! Some faux marble painting was done to the display window, and when peeking in the front door, there's another painting! At the entrance there appears to be a mural of a squatting Marilyn from the remaining footage of her last (aborted) movie,
Something's Got To Give.

Will it be a Marilyn Shrine Coffee House in competition with the Starbucks across the street? A restaurant? A full-blown art gallery for an artist-in-residence?
I'll wait patiently for the answer. I'm just grateful that Kabbaz and Marilyn are back. Santa came to town a little early this year.

December 02, 2005

A Hickey From Kenicke

The big news about the Long Island bat mitzvah this past weekend is not the "let them eat cake" cake angle. And, oddly enough, it's not that Stevie Nicks is no longer all that fat while Don Henley is. The biggest news is that Steven Tyler & Joe Perry have both recently had some major plastic surgery, and now look like (above, left & right) Melissa Rivers and Maria Shriver!

But that's nothing compared to:

Aside from the thought of Matt Dillon and Owen Wilson frolicking together on the beach, what truly keeps me going from day to day is landing upon news like this.

First off, it includes a child of Cher chastising someone for being a stoned jackass. She had Greg ("Disneyland on acid") Allman as a stepfather, so don't go all "prescription Benadryl" to her face.

Secondly, the D-list star melting into a quivering pile of candied yams is Olivia Newton-John's ex-brother-in-law, Jeff "f**king" Conaway!!!

Summer of 1978,
Grease was most certainly the word when you were a 13-year old girl, and I loved me some Conaway. He was "hickey from" Kenicke, with fluffy, feathered-back hair. Even as I slapped up the pin-ups, I knew it was slightly inappropriate for someone that old to be in the teeny bopper magazines. Even though I adored seeing him weekly on Taxi, I knew his diet consisted of chewed scenery and hammy sandwiches.

After a putrid album (which I bought...and still own) and his divorce from Rona Newton-John, he went onto to star in the best TV movie ever, as "a bitter, emotionally crippled and washed up fellow model." He then began an illustrious career as King of B-Grade soft porn movies, then confessed his coke-whore ways before becoming a born-again Christian, then starred in a crappy syndicated sci-fi series. This is what D-list Dreams are made of!

As it stood, his resume was impressively flawless. But much like a Porsche as it winds into a dangerously sexy curve, or a swan gently gliding onto a crystal blue lake, Mr. Conaway is now perfection and grace personified.

I am now feverishly learning how to needlepoint, so I can inscribe the following onto a series of pillows:

A square, sage green velvet pillow: "I did a show called TAXI - one of the biggest shows ever!"

An oblong, lemon yellow pillow: "I supported a f**king family from the time I was 10-years-old. I went through a paedophile at seven-years-old. At three-years-old I slit my f**king wrist, so keep your f**king mouth shut."

A round, white linen pillow with sky blue tassles: "If they don't want me to be Jeff Conaway then go f**king find somebody else. I've walked off shows before and I will walk off shows again."


Walk on, Master Jeff, walk off.

November 29, 2005

The Walls Have Ears

This past Monday, after a 2-week recess, the Supreme Court re-opened for business. Just after a group of citizens made it inside to get seats for the show, a large chunk of marble fell off the building and crashed onto the stairs.

The full details of the incident are here. But what I love the most is AP's dry commentary in this paragraph:
"The piece that fell was over the figure of Authority, near the peak of the building's pediment, and to the right of the figure of Liberty, who has the scales of justice on her lap."

While the building stood relatively empty for 2 weeks, the administration faced implosion and shame. Talking heads to the left and the right filled up media space, going berserk over troubling lies and/or lame attempts to cover them up.

But nothing speaks louder than the "thud, thud" of fine Vermont marble long-bombing down onto concrete. There is something quite dramatic about that particular dentil in that exact position disengaging itself from the building at that precise moment.

This building felt it necessary to speak up, but was it commentary or prophecy? Either way, don a hard hat and listen up.


November 26, 2005

Truth Floats Away

Early Thanksgiving afternoon, I pick up a friend who tells me about seeing one of the floats crash into a light pole during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. We then riffed on how everyone is secretly waiting for something to go awry... In the very early 1970s, I remember watching the Underdog float fly headfirst into the side of a building. It both frightened and excited little kid me. I also remember waiting for more crashes in subsequent years, and being bored when all went as planned.

At Thanksgiving dinner, my mother brings up the wayward float that crashed into a light pole, and how 2 sisters broke the fall of the light fixture.

Early this Saturday morning, I learn the story of NBC not covering the biggest news at the very parade their network sponsors. That even though Couric, Lauer and Roker knew something was up when the M&M float didn't cross the finish line, they bantered over 2004 M&M float footage. "There was no further comment on air at that point in time because we did not have further information," said Cameron Blanchard, a spokeswoman for NBC's entertainment division, which is responsible for the parade broadcast.

These people are globally wired within an inch of the universe, yet can't convey information taking place within a quarter mile of where they were stationed? They have satellites in space but not a walkie-talkie?! Did they not have cell phones?

Richard Huff, of the New York Daily News writes:
"If it was possible for NBC's cable network, MSNBC, to report the accident - before NBC's own parade coverage ended - then someone should have gotten a word to Lauer and Couric."

Turns out my friend and my mother knew about the incident before Lauer and Couric did, and the friend doesn't even have cable TV.

This Parade Coverup reminds me of the White House somehow not knowing about the on-coming threat of Katrina, or the immediate devastation in its wake, while everyone else in America who even walked past a media outlet knew about it all in full detail. Yes, the White House is so primitive that they still have dial-up speed internet and an antennae on the roof that sometimes lets them pick up PBS...

The White House is currently inhabitated by a batch of unconcerned liars, so I'll just let go of my incredulity over their "Katrina? What Katrina?" response. But NBC?

Our American media is far too technologically advanced to ever play the dumb card. They are too deep into too many things that aren't their business to ever pretend they don't know about something that is their business. And trying to squirm out of this by implying that NBC's entertainment division just didn't think the injury-inducing incident was worth mentioning is a really bad move. It confirms that the tail is wagging the dog, that the line between news and entertainment has been utterly erased.

These types of lies reveal the truth, and when NBC - and the White House - don't even bother to pretend to be upset about it, the truth has horrifying consequences.



November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving


Maybe the reason Americans don’t heavily decorate for Thanksgiving is because it’s people-based. Inflatable pilgrims in the front yard would be creepy, inflatable Indians would be politically incorrect.

Plus, it’s a holiday about being grateful, giving thanks for what we have, what we cherish. As far as decorating for that, the 58-year old banking executive certainly can’t pose his 22-year old trophy wife in a spotlight on the front lawn. Similarly, the trophy wife can’t staple gun the deed to the Aspen ski house to the front door, or hang the fur coat from the birch tree.

Thanksgiving is not attuned to decorations and ornaments because it’s a
personal holiday. As you commune with family and friends, and before passing out from too much turkey and wine, make a mental list of the things you’re grateful for.

WHAT I’M THANKFUL FOR
Matt Dillon & Owen Wilson are starring in a movie together?! Sometimes the universe conspires just to please me.


The new (yes, all new) Dramarama album is not only better than it has a right to be, but it’s genuinely great. Or as a friend (and long-time fan) said after hearing the song “Physical Poetry” for the first time: “John Easdale is my new best friend.”

Possessing an out-of-print copy of Cher’s diet & exercise book Forever Fit. I can pig out mightily for the next month knowing that, when the smoke clears, she has my back, as always.

I’m thankful for all my family, family-of-choice and friends; they make for an adventure-filled, worthwhile life. May we all have a gluttonous and grateful day.

October 23, 2005

Goodbye, Norma Jean


On Tuesday, October 18th, Billy Idol disappeared from the window, and excitement brewed when I saw signs of renovation (above). I saw lamp shades; will Kabbaz add lighting to the Marilyn Gallery? I looked forward to the revamped unveiling of a new Marilyn.

Signs say the candle burned out long before the legend ever did...
This afternoon, the black curtain backdrop has fallen to reveal freshly painted red walls, light fixtures, tables, chairs and a man busy on a ladder. Someone has taken over the storefront.
That's not surprising. With major new retail across the street, these old storefronts are now desirable property. If I could sit in the Starbucks' drive-thru and stare at Marilyn paintings, it would make sense for a business to take advantage of that kind of visability.

I should have knocked on the door and peppered the Ladder Man with questions, but I was too sad and too shocked to do so. I walked away with a funeral dirge in my head and a heavy heart.
So was Billy Idol's rebel yell Kabbaz's comment on being evicted?
He didn't even have time to place one final Marilyn?
Will a new shrine/gallery spot be found?
How do I mend my broken heart?

October 11, 2005

Cosmopolitan & Me: 40 Years Old


Cosmopolitan magazine turned 40 in September, and I turn 40 in October, which makes me nostalgic for my 1970s Cosmopolitan Youth.

Whereas little boys had to sneak peaks of their father or older brother’s Playboy, little girls simply picked up the copies of Cosmo that were on the neighbor lady’s coffee table or in the grocery store magazine rack. It was right out there in the open for us Holly Hobby aficionados to thumb through while waiting for The Electric Company to come on. While it was an educational adventure for the newly liberated peers of Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern, for a curious Alice it was like falling down the rabbit hole.

Helen Gurley Brown (above left) was the Cheshire Cat that began every issue with an eternal grin molded on her face, all wide-eyed and breathless: “How long has it been since you heard from Cosmo about orgasm? Only about 15 minutes, you’re thinking? Actually, we’ve been quiet about it since May!” She was a Forever 21 purring exclamation point! The late Francesco Scavullo (above right) was her Queen of Hearts, the photographer responsible for 30 years of cover girl Glamazons. Eyeliner, lip gloss and cleavage was all he needed to transform anyone into a Cosmo Girl, and those iconic covers were the most sedate portion of the magazine.

Per page, there was probably more female nudity in 1970s Cosmo than in any era of Playboy. Real and illustrated T&A accompanied everything from shampoo ads to dessert recipes to exercise programs, and I could never figure out why there were so many naked chicks in a lady’s magazine. Even something as routine as income tax tips or manicure basics flaunted an exaggeratedly salacious tone, and the graphic nature of real-world Cosmo sex made Penthouse Forum read like silly boys playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Every issue featured the notoriously slutty quiz, the horny horoscopes, Lauren Hutton in some form and the same basic topics (open marriage, plastic surgery, how to achieve orgasm, how to decode men, etc.) with slightly different slants. And the guiding principal of the Cosmo Gurley World was crystal clear to even a 3rd grader: As an independent career girl, you must sleep around a lot so you can find the perfect husband.

Yes, being trampy was a prelude to being a wife; everything you do is to entice a man to be your husband. Once you land him you trade in Cosmopolitan for a Good Housekeeping subscription, and you need never douche again.

Ah, yes…douching. While Cosmo was relentless with its sex education, there were certain ads that I could never quite figure out. Lots of pages about liquids that conjured “intimate cleanliness ” as it “protects you inside so you can stay fresh outside.” They wanted you to use “internal deodorant” no more than twice a week and warned that “The world’s costliest perfumes are worthless unless you’re sure of your own natural fragrance.” Why aren’t these ads in any other magazines? Why does becoming a woman make you pig stinky? And where exactly is this embarrassing odor coming from? By 1974, Massengil dispensed with euphemisms and explained their product with a clinical bluntness that put me off my feed for days. Come the official sex education class in 5th grade, I found their curriculum lacking because they never addressed a randy career girl’s urgent freshness needs, as seen in the pages of Cosmopolitan.


SEPTEMBER 1971

Con-Tact self-adhesive paper inadvertently repulses any potential customers, but neatly summarizes the Cosmopolitan philosophy in its ad copy: “Show him how clever you are… Impress him with your do-it-yourself skill and good taste… It’s such an easy way to win a man. And such fun to live with while you’re waiting for him to come along.”

The JFK era was sexy, but Nixon’s administration was rather sensual, no? In a roundup of “Washington’s Most Eligible Bachelors,” Henry Kissinger was “dubbed ‘secret swinger’ of the administration.” When, a few years later, Watergate’s Deep Throat was named after a porno movie, the “secret swinger” label was not lost on me.

These are willfully promiscuous times and a girl has to be fresh. There are 4 douche/feminine spray ads.

NOVEMBER 1971

From Ms. Dickson’s personal experience, some important points include: If you won’t take off any clothing, leave the room; Wear underwear so you have an easily understood way to indicate your level of participation; Falling asleep is the only way to hide humiliation at being rejected. Wow, there must be an awful lot of this orgy thing going on if they have to offer up proper etiquette. The next time the babysitter comes over so my folks can go out, I’m worried for them…


Emily Post is of no use to the modern buccaneer girl, so Cosmo puts together an etiquette book for the “with it” generation. Featured chapters include: “Things To Do With Your Hands That Men Like,” “The Etiquette of Not Getting Pregnant,” “Why I Wear My False Eyelashes To Bed” and “Scorn Not the Street Compliment.”

Heading into the holidays, things are even more promiscuous than usual, so there are still 4 douche/feminine spray ads.


JANUARY 1972


“What’s A Nice Gal Like You Doing In Women’s Liberation,” asks an article. The answer amounts to “get your head together” so you’re truly free to screw around until you land a husband. For those with low self-esteem, landing a famous husband is a way to go.


These women aren’t common groupies, because they’re manipulating famous men with intent to marry, which is honorable. Even though these types of shallow marriages end badly, I learn that it’s worth it because you then have stories people are willing to pay good money for you to tell. And in that vein, we check back in with that sexy swinging Kraut, Henry Kissinger, who insists he’s not a womanizer, even though there’s a page of photos of him squiring Jill St. John and Marlo Thomas.

Since husband hunting is this month’s theme, we’re down to only 3 douche/feminine spray ads.

APRIL 1972



Burt Reynolds
as the Cosmopolitan centerfold, and somewhere a would-be publisher gets the idea for Playgirl


AUGUST 1972


This article appears right around the time the no-fault divorce laws gained in popularity. To summarize, (for anyone outside of show business) there is no such thing as an open marriage because there are too many rules necessary to make – and keep – it so. At this time, my parents break the news that they’re separating because one of them was practicing the more secretive aspects of open marriage and the other disagreed. Will Cosmo have an article that explains divorce to me?


Every issue features perfectly ghastly interior design suggestions save for the one above, which works because it’s a straight rip-off of the classic Billy Baldwin chocolate brown and white color scheme. Housekeeping Plus: sangria spills wipe up effortlessly because those couches are covered in vinyl.

You don’t have to be an airhead to be easy. Cosmo coaches the smart girl on “Brains As A Black-Lace Turn On.” That they find intelligence and sex a potentially awkward combination is worrisome to a girl who was just placed in the highest reading group.

High IQ Hotties on the sex scene don’t need as much hygiene coaching, so there are only 2 douche/feminine spray ads.

DECEMBER 1972



In a few years,
Randi Oakes would become a minor TV star, and by the 21st century would only be memorialized as Gregory Harrison’s wife, which is soooo Cosmo.



And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery from Madison Avenue…


Informative, do-it-yourself articles have to have a slutty headline and opening paragraph, or else they won’t read it? If this is what it takes to remind liberated gals to regularly change their oil, then so be it.

Since it’s a Christmas issue – and that’s holy and stuff – there’s only 1 douche/feminine spray ad.

NOVEMBER 1973



Gaudy chic accessories ferment in the brain of
Stevie Nicks, but tackiest of all is the “congenitally heavy, chunky legs” slam regarding that “vast wasteland” below the waist of all those big-legged women who’ve got no soul. Should I start starving myself now, or wait until puberty?


Mom's space helmet-like hair dryer was good for a few minutes of play, and in those last moments before hand-held blow dryers hit the market, it was also Kelly Harmon's last bit of print work before becoming TV’s Tic-Tac lady. Actually, this entire issue was a primer of Who Would Be Who for the rest of the decade; within 30 pages of each other are the following:
Jaclyn Smith as the Breck Girl; Cheryl Tiegs for Cover Girl; Christine Farrar for Max Factor; Meredith Baxter (not yet Birney) for Helena Rubenstein; Susan Blakely for Woolite; Jennifer O’Neil for Cover Girl.

A feature on Paul Newman highlights how his mesmerizing blue eyes get women all hot and bothered. This requires 3 douche/feminine spray ads.

DECEMBER 1973


From day one, movie critics have always trashed The Way We Were. Everyone except Liz Smith, who got it. Long before she became a New York Post gossip columnist with heart and scruples, she reviewed movies for Cosmo readers as if she was one of them, and it was a refreshing change from the film school snobbery that would piss all over such instant-classic Hollywood glamour as provided by Babs & Bob.

And this particular issue must have been in the subconscious of the Spelling-Goldberg offices whenever making casting choices for
Charlie’s Angels:



Farrah Fawcett-Majors as Jill Munroe (and stealing Kelly Harmon’s Lady Schick thunder because she had better hair)...



Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett…


…and Shelly Hack as the least favorite Angel of them all. She’s #11, 16, 26 & 33 in the above ad, but would soon trade up to being Revlon’s Charlie Girl.

Plus, there is a special photo spread on the famous women who personified “That Cosmopolitan Girl”:
Lauren Hutton (naturally), Raquel Welch, Dyan Cannon, Gina Lollabrigida (what?), Liza Minnelli and Candice Bergen. Since not a one of them is under the age of 25, it gives me hope about my Mom’s chances now that she's a dating divorcee.


For holiday shopping suggestions we have “Gifts You Wish He’d Give You.” Of course every sexually adventurous women’s libber wants “Au Naturel Dolls.” Her man takes time to carefully “specify hair/beard/eye color” of these sock puppets so that they will totally creep her out 3 hours after unwrapping them.

And since all that pink felt and Polaroid action gets the elves all stirred up, there are 4 douche/feminine spray ads.

JUNE 1974



Rene Russo is on the cover as well as in 2 ads inside because she is one of the most in-demand models of the '70s. She eventually has the distinction of being the only (kinda creepy) Aziza cosmetics girl to become a really cool actress.


And here’s where I started getting confused. I got a bottle of this same perfume for my 9th birthday, and it’s also in Cosmo?! Also, there’s an article (“Goddesses on Horseback”) that explores the sexual connotations of girls and their horses, and I have a horse! I’m just sneaking peeks at this magazine, but maybe I’m already a full fledged Cosmo Girl, whether I wanna be or not?


Holy Ernie & Bert! What the hell is a lesbian? And it’s something that some women do only half the time…what?! I am not wearing any of this Love’s Baby Soft. I’m pouring it down the drain, ‘cos I’m not about to give up David Cassidy for Susan Dey. Sorry, I’m just not. You’re confusing. Go away.

There are 3 douche/feminine spray ads. Just go away.

AUGUST 1974


She's on one of the coolest TV shows ever (All in the Family) and Sally Struthers likes to eat at McDonald’s as often as possible. Sure, having a red fake fur couch is pretty cool, but it's not as cool as…


…being the most famous groupie of all! Connie “was a Baptist until I was 15…then I became a groupie.” She’s only 19 and has already “taken care of 200-300 people in The Industry.” She only has relations with famous rock stars and the people who schlep their equipment (easily taking care of 5 to 10 people per show), and whenever she starts to gag during oral, she halts it by reminding herself what an important job this is. She’s very lucky that she’s only had VD once, and only been beaten up twice, which is not counting the one time she broke her own rules and told a rock star that she loved him and “he slapped me and everything.” She doesn’t feel the need to finish high school because she’s going to be the Xavier Hollander of groupies (you hear that, Miss Pamela DesBarres?), and even got offered a starring role in an X-rated movie! She has nothing but optimism for a bright future.


And though I’m far too young to be like Sweet Connie, I could certainly dress like her if they made these things in girls’ sizes. But the local Sears doesn’t have anything remotely similar to Las Vegas Elvis clothes, though they do have some platform shoes. I go to try a pair on, but the saleslady sadly informs me they don’t make platforms in girls’ sizes. I dream of a day in the distant future when a 9 year old girl will be able to buy groupie clothing at the local mall and wear it proudly.

The sexual revolution may have peaked a few issues back because there are only 2 douche/feminine spray ads.

JANUARY 1975



She’s appeared in Cover Girl and Virgina Slims ads in every issue for the past 2 years, and Cheryl Tiegs finally makes it to the cover. From this point on, magazine covers would be her specialty, and she'd eventually have a (very un-groupie) clothing line at Sears.


Ahh yes, I'd remember this article when several years later they couldn't write enough articles on sexual harassment in the work place.

Warren Beatty has Shampoo to promote, and “you have to get used to the almost arrogant perfection of his face and form as he is – or suffocate.” And “Should You Own A McDonald’s?” Back then, it was a $160,000 franchise fee for 20 years, and there was only one woman franchiser at the time, and it wasn’t Sally Struthers.

The gals have leveled off into a regularly scheduled maintenance routine because there are still only 2 douche/feminine spray ads.

AUGUST 1975


Things are starting to take on a noticeably conservative edge. There’s nowhere near as much nudity and how-to sex articles, and then there’s the completely unsexy, orthopedic Earth Shoe, which no self-respecting Cosmo Girl would be caught dead in!


Even the clothes are starting to get ugly, a full year before the absolutely hideous Bicentennial fashions melted our eyes. And the book excerpt is of the best-selling Looking For Mr. Goodbar, wherein an unrepentant, promiscuous woman finally winds up brutally murdered by one of the men she picks up in a bar. The whole vibe is starting to get ugly and messy; is it Cosmo, is it the stark reality of the Women's Liberation hangover, or is it just me bewildered in the Valley of the Dolls and wanting to get off the merry-go-round?

Talk about a buzz kill. They hold still at only 2 douche/feminine spray ads.

Come my 10th birthday, Mom thinks I’m now old enough to have subscriptions to Teen and Seventeen magazines! At first I found them anti-climactic, even a little dull. But it was important to balance a little girl's Cosmo habit with puberty articles and Clearasil ads. While it was helpful to get tips on how not to blush when you had a crush, I was fortified with optimism about the Cosmopolitan delights my post-puberty years promised. By the time I got to that point, it was the opening day bugle call of AIDS, with the everyone afraid to have sex with anyone, much less their mechanic. The Grade School Historian had gone beyond the valley of the dolls.

October 07, 2005

Paternity Issues


Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes: Interesting how Katie followed the rules of her former religion and supposedly did not have sex before marriage. Her new religion must have no thoughts on that.
Also, her new religion is against psychiatry and most drugs. But is there anything in the Scientology bylaws about natal surrogacy and/or fertility drugs and procedures?
Britney Spears & Kevin Federline: Taking into account the typical gestation period, Sean Preston’s baby daddy would be more Jason Alexander than Kevin. Could someone do the math on that and get back to me?

Unrelated P.S.
How could Rosemary Clooney be at Larry King's 20th Anniversary Party when she's dead?!
Poor Rose Marie...

September 25, 2005

Marilyn's Rebel Yell?


Present political problems and dire future trends for our country had me in a dour mood as I drove to work. Usually, a quick glance at the MM Gallery is good for a brief respite. But not on this parituclar morning...
...the sound of a needle dragging violently across the vinyl...
It's bloody Billy Idol in the Marilyn window?!?!?!

Previously, Kabbaz has put another in the sacred window shrine: Maria Callas.
And I know he paints portraits of other artists that mean something deep to him.
Maria Callas, Janis Joplin, Billy Idol...
To quote Sesame Street, "one of these things is not like the other/one of these things just doesn't belong..."

Not that I have anything against Billy Idol. He's always been GQ Punk, and I truly think there's a need for that. Plus, his guitarist Steve Stevens was always an entertaining glam pop guitar shredder. But what deeper meaning does he have for an artist like Kabbaz?
Is the sneer a social or political comentary (as it was for me that particular morning)?
But when a sneer is someone's trademark schtick, does it count?
Kabbaz has pulled me ever-deeper into his mystery.

September 06, 2005

D'Ya Think I'm Sexy?


A fictional imagining about THE decisive moment in the downturn of Rod Stewart’s career.

Early Summer 1978, a Los Angeles recording studio
Most of the band Rod Stewart had assembled for last year’s album and tour – Footloose & Fancy Free – is tuning and picking, awaiting the arrival of drummer Carmine Appice, and Rod himself.

The new album they’re working on, Blondes Have More Fun, is about 80% done, with Rod writing all the original tunes in partnership with either of his guitarists, Jim Cregan or Gary Grainger. Earlier in the week, Rod called all of them to say there was a brand new song to add to the list. They are now gathered for the purpose of hearing and learning the new song.

There are cheerful hellos as Rod and Carmine stroll in.
“So, what have you been up to this week?” bassist Phillip Chen asks Rod.
As he fiddles with a reel-to-reel tape, Rod says, “Well, we did the photo shoot for the album cover. Got Claude Mougin for the session, a Playboy photographer…”
“How’d you manage that?” asks guitarist Billy Peek, a little too excited.
Rod cues the tape and answers offhandedly, “Oh, Alana knows him. She set up the shoot, was one of the models.”

Grainger, Cregan and Chen exchange quick looks of concern. George Hamilton’s ex-wife, Alana, is Rod’s new “steady” gal. The fallout from his Britt Ekland years still dogs Rod, and while Britt was movie star glamour, Alana Stewart is garden variety Hollywood excess. While she was a good choice for social climbing in Beverly Hills, including her in musical doings was not a good idea.

Thinking of Ekland’s flawed palimony suit against Rod, Grainger clears his throat before cracking, “Putting a girlfriend on your record was kinda messy in the past.”
Rod crushes the empty Styrofoam cup in his hand and shoots back, “Yeah, well ‘Tonight’s the Night’ was Number bloody One for 8 fuckin’ weeks! Famous birds sell records, mate!”
He walks away to the engineering board in a slight snit, saying over his shoulder, “Plus, I’m only putting Alana on the cover. She’s not singing, you know. Think I’m mad or something?”

Rod fiddles with some knobs, and walks back to the band with an expectant smile on his face. He flings his arm about the shoulders of Appice and says, “OK, boys, we’ve got a new song. Carmine and me wrote it.”

There’s no hiding the spontaneous shock of this news. Appice had never written a song in his entire life! He's a drummer for hire, for chrissake. While Rod beams at Appice, everyone else stares at the drummer with their mouths agape.

Rod chuckles. “OK, boys, your eager anticipation is noted. Without further ado….”
And he clicks on the demo tape. A throbbing bass with a simple drum machine (what?) beat comes over the studio speakers.

“It sounds like the Stones ‘Miss You,’” says Cregan, 8 bars in.
“That’s exactly what I want,” says a beaming Stewart.
A keyboard swirl repeats twice, and Chen notes, “Wait. That’s the riff from ‘Taj Mahal!’ The Brazilian soul man’s song.”
Appice tries to hide his pride in having stolen such a cool riff. Songwriting is really fun.
Then comes Stewart’s scratch vocal, words sounding close to a typical Rod Stewart Story Song:
“She sits alone waiting for suggestions
He's so nervous avoiding all the questions
His lips are dry, her heart is gently pounding
Don't you just know exactly what they're thinking”

THEN comes the chorus.
Even though not a one of them is drinking any kind of beverage, Chen, Cregan, Grainger & Peek erupt into a spit take.

The rest of the demo plays out, punctuated by intermittent chuckles and head shakes. The last cheesy keyboard riff fades into the studio abyss. The silence is broken with a quick pick of the chorus to “I Was Only Joking,” on Grainger’s guitar.

Yes, it’s Grainger’s editorial comment on what they just heard, but it also happens to be a song he and Rod wrote together, a huge hit song currently in heavy rotation across the country, probably playing on the radio of cars passing by the studio, right now, at this moment.

Laughing heartily, Cregan points to Appice, “You wrote a disco tune? Hilarious “I Was Only Joking,” for sure!” Rod notes Carmine’s feeble attempt at hiding his hurt. He also notes the band’s failure to grasp the seriousness of the issue.
“OK, boys, there is sly commentary on disco life in there. A slight joke. But in the main, it’s the song we’re learning today, and if all goes as well as expected, it’ll be the first single.”

“But it’s a disco song!” blurts out guitarist Billy Peek.
Now, Peek is most grateful for the gravy train that is his gig with Rod, and would never say anything to rock the gravy boat. But this new song? It could be fine as a one-off joke album track, but a single?! The stink eye from Rod makes him instantly regret his outburst.

The plastic cup holding Rod’s gin & tonic is thrown across the room, and in a voice straining to conceal anger he says, “Everyone’s doing it – The Stones, Cher, Diana Ross, KISS. Know why they’re doin’ it? Because disco sells. Know why I’m doin’ it? Because disco sells. This song is going to move copies of the album, and when I sell albums, I make money. When I make money, you all make money, too. Right? And disco sells.”

Since he'd already tossed it across the room, Rod can’t take a pull off his drink, so he starts yanking at his rooster hair (which, the band curiously noted, had just been bleached full-on bombshell blonde). Chastened, the members of the band who aren’t Appice quickly try to make amends.
“So, what’s the song’s title?” asks Chen.
In unison, Stewart & Appice answer, “D’Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
Cregan averts any negative cracks with, “Well, if you’re looking for that ‘Miss You’ vibe, we can do that. Easy. It’s just gonna be a fine line to walk, ‘cos if it gets too cheesy, man, the music press will eat you alive.”

With an angry sigh and the tossing of his scarf, Rod says, “The music press, bah! They’ve been doggin’ me since Smiler. And the more they hate me records, the more my records sell. Why should I spend quality time writing tunes that please only rock writers and the people who read them? My bank manager pointed out something known as a financial glass ceiling, and if I bust my balls to try and come up with material that Woody would approve of, then there won’t be a pay raise.”

Just as the album’s producer, Tom Dowd, walks in the door, Rod finishes with, “I want butts in seats that buy records, and if playing to the cheap seats is how to make the monthly mansion house note, then that’s what I do. I’ve been poor, and I will not ever do that again. I’ll sing bloody Gershwin, if it comes to that!”

Rod stomps away to greet the man who has produced all of Rod’s albums since Atlantic Crossing. Dowd was now listening to the “Sexy” demo.
All members of the band stare at the floor, uncomfortable in the tirade’s aftermath.
Chen, Cregan and Granger listen in silent disgust as Dowd and Rod discuss the song’s arrangement… keyboards and congas and strings…
Peek wonders if there will be any guitars on the track.
Appice wonders if he just unwittingly sold his soul to the devil.

Aftermath
On Christmas Eve 1978, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” was released, and by late January 1979 was #1 for 4 weeks. The album sold 15 million copies worldwide.
Even before the album came out, Rod’s gal Alana was pregnant with his child, so they got married. Regular readers of People know how his career as a Hollywood Husband plays out.
Chen, Peek & Grainger recorded one more Stewart album, Foolish Behaviour. During that album’s tour, a disgruntled Rod fired all 3 of them at one time.
In the 21st century, he financially resorts to singing 4 volumes of “The Great American Songbook.” He doesn't do near as much Gershwin as you’d think, because it’s got a lot of sophisticated notes that require some effort to sing.

August 16, 2005

No Huffing, Please



I work in a camera store, and we sell lots of canned air, some with this charming “no huffing” symbol on the label. Then the store’s president posts this article, with the directive of carding anyone under 18 years old. The back-to-school rush is under way, and we’re saving junior college Photo 1 students from Dusting themselves to the worst headache they’ll ever experience.

I just came from Home Depot, where the self-checkout terminal asked for my ID because I was buying a can of spray paint. But wait, spray paint is for “huffing,” and I thought “dusting” was the new boogeyman. Confusing, yes, but we should be grateful that a major retail chain polices the newest teenage buzz trends so parents don’t have to.

It’s annoying that they’ve re-branded traditional “huffing” with a name that conveniently provides free advertising to the product it’s named for. Renaming “huffing” as “dusting” is just as absurd as asking for a Whopper at McDonald’s – a product name is sacrosanct (unless it’s Diddy) and we aren't supposed to mix and match monikers willy nilly.

Plus, “dusting” is already taken as a slang drug term. To dust is to smoke (or lace something else with) Angel Dust, a.k.a PCP. If “dusting” is so much more dangerous than last year’s pseudoephedrine rampage, it deserves it’s own slang term.

To save the rest of the children who would never have hit on the idea until it was plastered all over the media, canned air sits behind the counter with Sudafed and pints of Crown Royal. Meanwhile, that guy in Aisle 5 is buying a large quantity of Morning Glory seeds to sell to the 5th graders waiting for their banana peels to dry…

August 04, 2005

How Much Is That Marilyn in the Window?


The new Marilyn in the window is here! An ode to swimming pool weather, a still from Marilyn's last (uncompleted) film which also serves as commentary to the St. Louis heat wave: Something's Gotta Give.
The backstory is here.
The Marilyn previous to the above is here.

An extraordinarily gifted photographer friend of mine has been enthusiastically following the Marilyn Shrine since being introduced to it. Upon seeing this latest exhibit, she wondered how the artist could stand to work in such anonymity and solitude, for artists thrive on the experience of others viewing their work, commenting on it, and (hopefully) buying some of it.

While I do wish Kabbaz would come forward and answer a dozen questions, I'm in awe of the seeming integrity of his mystery. His love for Marilyn is shared in a consistent and heart-felt way, and because of the very public nature of his solitary art gallery, he has a potentially bigger audience than most any fine artist. His work is in a high traffic area, but it sits back quietly, waiting for the true believers to find it, ponder it, keep an eye out. All of this goes on without the artist ever knowing or caring. It's merely his expression of adoration, unsullied by any modern standards of artistic commerce and publicity. While alive, Marilyn let herself be bought and sold, but these paintings of her are not for sale because love is priceless.

August 02, 2005

Heroic Diane Lane


My mother and I went to see the movie Must Love Dogs, which is very well-written and well-played (though John Cusack could stand to lose a few pounds). Afterwards, my mother says, “Between the previews and the movie, we sure saw a lot of actresses letting their age show.” This was not said as a slam. It was actually refreshing.

We’re both rather sensitive about celebrity plastic surgery – who’s had it and who’s brave enough not to. A preview for Rumor Has It reveals slight lines on Jennifer Aniston’s (36) forehead and that Shirley McClaine (71) has had barely anything done all these decades on. A preview for In Her Shoes lets Toni Collette (32) look her age (but Cameron Diaz – who’s only a scootch older than Collette - really needs some work, or at least a healthier lifestyle) while the Prime preview finds Meryl Streep (56) made to look even slightly older than she is. Co-starring in the feature presentation is the relatively untouched Stockard Channing (61), and she has always been defiantly comfortable with her looks, no matter her age (think playing teenage Rizzo while in her early 30's).

But the biggest revelation was Diane Lane (40), all glowing and serene on the big screen, her wrinkles and slightly loosening skin not detracting from her fabulousness in any way. In fact, it was odd to see a woman so naturally beautiful, her features mobile and able to express the slightest nuance. But it was also odd to see Elizabeth Perkins (44) playing Lane’s older sister with the smoother face. While Miss Perkins couldn’t make nearly as many nuanced faces as Lane, she did have some deadly funny lines that completely halted my imaginings of Perkins trying to convince Lane to see her Botox Artist as they ate yogurt together at the craft service table.

With every extreme close-up, I mentally high-fived Diane for aging so naturally, so gracefully….and then it hit me:
She’s The Same Age As Me. Dammit!
Even though she’s stunning, I guess I shouldn’t fixate on her looking so "good for her age" because that’s what 40 looks like in the real world. OK, so Miss Lane – an actress since 13 – only lives in the real world part-time, but still, follow along with me.

What other actresses are 40-ish?
Brooke Shields has had some work done. Very tasteful, but still altered.
Sandra Bullock looks pretty darn good. It seems she lives a hearty lifestyle, but (unlike Diaz) she still looks fresh and lovely. So has she had some tasteful maintenance work done?
Courtney Cox has probably had some minor work done, because she seems the self-conscious sort.
Teri Hatcher has certainly been worked on, but like Miss Shields, it looks natural.
Rosie Perez appears to be untouched and still cute as a bug.

I can’t come up with any more actresses born between 1964 – 65; statistically, those were the years the post-WW2 baby boom came to a screeching halt, so the numbers are a little low. But of that group, they all look relatively – or completely – natural from top to bottom, which makes me proud. My female peers in Hollywood are not a bunch of plastic surgery junkie whores, and that helps me wrap my head around turning 40. If Miss Lane can proudly face the brutal honesty of the close-up lens, then I won’t max out my credit cards with a birthday Botox bash and brow lift. Thank you, Diane.

SIDE BAR
Diane Lane finally teams with John Cusack, and she's been in 3 movies with Matt Dillon, which leads to the obvious: Hollywood needs to cast Dillon & Cusack in a movie. Same age, same era, endless possibilities. In this era of Hollywood lacking original ideas, they could shortcut it by teaming them for a remake of Tequila Sunrise, and put Lane in the Michelle Pfeiffer role. To the casting agent smart enough to mull over this thought, consider the first ticket already bought.

July 26, 2005

Scott Weiland & Courtney Love


Scott Weiland is one of the finest rock singers we've got and he looks amazing. He’s going to turn 38 this year, and he’s now even thinner than when he was a junkie.

Courtney Love is sober, too. A judge ruled she’s been straight for a year, surely based solely on the evidence of how enormous she is. That’s what happens to most folks after kicking a full-time narcotics habit – food becomes a substitute, and they become huge.


A mystical moment of Rock Chick Pharmacology took place in 1997, as Courtney Love became a Sister of the Moon when she brilliantly interviewed Stevie Nicks, a conversation that always circled back to cocaine. Miss Nicks kicked coke in 1986 and then got so fat that it made her miserable (I saw her on the Street Angel tour in 1994, and she’s correct in noting that it was her saddest, lowest point). Currently, Stevie is sober and fabulous, while Courtney is sober and fat, and if there’s any baton a gal should hand off, it’s that Big As A House one.

But I’m glad Courtney is so obviously clean. She now has a real chance to make better decisions
and stay focused for minutes at a time. Considering how well things are going for Weiland, being heroine-free must be working for him, too. But how does he stay so enviably skinny?


Keith Richards is going to be 62 this year, and he’s still as skinny as Whitney Houston. Now, Keef only stopped shooting smack. He still does everything else, which is probably why he stays so thin (yeah, so’s Jagger, but he’s disciplined and works out). I’m not suggesting Scott is still “using” - just like Courtney, a judge determined he’s smack-free. What I am suggesting is that, between bouts with the Pamela Stairmaster, Courtney could get in on on some of Scott's dieting and lifestyle habits.