Category Archives: American culture
Train of thought.
Listening to playlists built around travel themes – Texas, California, a Southern road trip – I realize I’ve never done an Australian music playlist. So many good bands I recall, popular, infamous and obscure. INXS, Paul Kelly, Divinyls, Eurogliders, Hoodoo Gurus, Models, The Church…
Now what was the name of the band that had the song in the cocktail party scene in Crocodile Dundee?
Hey there you with the sad face
Come up to my place
And live it up
I have to ask my husband, who answers immediately. Mental As Anything.
Remembrance of the party scene = recognition that the red dress Linda Koslowski (as journalist Sue Charlton) wore was so kick-ass*.
To have the confidence to wear that.
I did not, in the ‘80s. But if I had, that would be my ‘80s dress. Slinky and surprising.
What Google can do: ‘great dresses from 80s movies’.
All those Pinterest Halloween costume ideas make me feel old. When my kids want to dress up like the ‘80s they usually go with the RUN-DMC look. My Adidas! Then, now, forever.
Brain works back to ‘80s dresses. A Top Five forms:
- The downtown dress, Crocodile Dundee (Linda Koslowski)
- DIY prom dress, Pretty in Pink (Molly Ringwald)
- Like-a-virgin prom dress, Footloose (Lori Singer)
- The backless, spaghetti-strap numbers, Scarface (Michelle Pfeiffer)
- A-whore-at-the-opera red formal, Pretty Woman (Julia Roberts)
If I wrote for BuzzFeed, I’d tell you what your favorite dress says about the self-image you desire:
- Self-assured but desperate for a little artistic cool cred. Attracted to Australians 😉
- Strong, crafty and rebellious though drawn to moony, spineless men. Go figure.
- You really, really want to be loved for your brain not your body. Good luck with that.
- You, however, don’t mind being eye candy and you really don’t mind doing nose candy.
- Purely aspirational. You believe in fairy tales and the transformative power of money.
I soundtrack my thoughts with Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits and INXS’s The Swing.
And then I realize: Ah! I haven’t even gotten to Winona Ryder’s goth gown in Beetlejuice. Or Demi Moore’s trashy strapless pink postage stamp in St. Elmo’s Fire!!!
(Demi wore those attitude glasses so well.)
I send a message
Hope it gets through
The train continues on the tracks…
*To something random and related. A man named Mark Kalan, who crewed on Crocodile Dundee, bought the red dress at auction and started a photography project. Calling it The Red Dress Project, Kalan aimed to photograph at least 100 women – of all ages, size 6-8 or under – in the dress for a gallery show and book.
Now where was I when this went down (and I was still a size 6)???
“Oh, people are screaming, people are screaming
My baby, she’s dreaming
Oh, people are shouting, people are freaking
I’m staring at the ceiling, waiting for the feeling”
Songwriter: Ryan Adams
If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry. If we don’t hug, we’ll rage. If we don’t speak up, we will fall apart.
There’s no need for me to add to the infinite election postmortems. I mean, how can I say anything meaningful when The Pope and Coach Popovich have already weighed in? So HRC should have visited Wisconsin? Would that have made a difference?
I’m devastated. My children are crushed. They don’t want to talk about it, but I can see it on their faces. The shell-shocked realization that the bully won. That everything they’ve ever been taught to cherish – respect, kindness, empathy – doesn’t matter in America.
May you find solace in these dark days. May you find the strength to keep fighting. Question, challenge, call people out, protest, volunteer, lend a hand. Try to be better tomorrow than you are today.
It’s morning somewhere.
On the ’90s nostalgia train this week: trip hop & Ally McBeal, sundresses & biker boots. Sneaker Pimps’ 6 Underground launched me in to a Bond-esque orbit. It was really just the 405. Driving, driving, driving. Sunroof, Slurpee, Sunset. Imperial Highway, I-10, PCH, Santa Monica Bou-le-vard. K.C.R.W. The bubble of film school, where you could navel gaze, roller blade & delay, delay. I worked for a woman who Fed-Exed her Armani suit from Cannes to LA. Because she had vacation plans in Italy, after. I drove the box up through the Hollywood Hills & left it with her caretaker. Her pool was kidney-shaped.
AIDS was reality’s shadow. A friend of my cousin; he’d come to WeHo from Florida. He played me Mariah Carey for the first time. Vision of Love. And paid me well to sand & spackle the walls of a condo he bought, about a year before. The down payment came from money he’d embezzled from work. He never got caught. He just passed away.
Vision of Love is still my favorite Mariah song.
And 6 Underground is the business.
Where has the time gone? That’s my typical, yearly response when I realize my kids have only FIVE more weeks of school until summer vacation. So many plans, so much to do, so much undone. I guess you’ve noticed how I’ve neglected the blog these last two months, but I will try to rectify that situation, at least until the actual summer hols roll around.
In the meantime, here’s a so-simple-it’s-brilliant video from my current obsession: Andrew Bird. He’s an eclectic musician from Chicago, vocal-kin to Bill Withers, and this song – this song! – I’m playing it at least a dozen times a day.
Check it out, let me know what you think and enjoy the rest of your week!
“And meanwhile the man was falling from space
And everyday I wore your face
Like an atmosphere around me
A satellite inside me”
How is this song NOT about David Bowie? I wonder every time I listen to it – “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” – the title track from Florence + The Machine’s latest album. I imagine young Florence Welch discovering Bowie as a teenager, sometime in the late ’90s, painting her face with a glittery lightning bolt (everyday I wore your face) and dancing around her bedroom, entranced.
But no, apparently this song is an ode to the California sky, influenced by Florence’s time in the U.S. and her increasing fascination with American music (whether Motown or Laurel Canyon).
The song is stunning, no matter what or who inspired it, and it’s been on constant rotation in my ears. I’m still in a little mourning for the great Starman, and feeling lately like logging on to Twitter or FB is just the daily equivalent of asking: who’s dead now? So songs of comfort and beauty feel quite necessary now.
Here’s a video version of not-quite-the-whole song, filmed (unsurprisingly) under a bright blue sky. The short video was directed by Tabitha Denholm & Vincent Haycock.
Have a good week, x
This week, in a beautiful generational symmetry, EO and I went to Madonna’s Rebel Heart concert here in Hong Kong. My one and only Madonna show prior to this was a floor seat at Austin’s Frank Erwin Center on the Like a Virgin tour, May 1985, a few weeks before I graduated from high school. This spring, EO will attend her first formal dance and ‘graduate’ Y11 before beginning her school’s two-year IB program. Over thirty years between our rites of passage and yet here was Madonna – in fearsome form and wicked wit, middle-aged, twice-divorced, sex-obsessed, foul-mouthed – here was fucking Madonna.
The fourth best-selling musical act of all time. Superseded only by The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.
The most successful solo artist in the history of the American singles charts. Let that sink right in while I say her name one more time.
Screw the haters. To hell with the ageist TMZ brigade. Go home if her show starts too late for you. I don’t care how old she is or who shares her bed or even what kind of person she is behind the scenes. All that matters is what she brings to the stage, and in that arena Madonna reigns. Unrivaled. Matchless. Supreme.
She transported her full show to Hong Kong – not always the case with touring artists in Asia – and played for over two hours, joined by her band, back-up singers and about 20 dancers. The concert was a button-pushing visual feast of multimedia images, lights, poles, ramps, stairs, hydraulics and dance. Lots of dance. Throughout the show, Madonna moved seamlessly from one cultural theme to another: Samurais to start; Catholicism (of course) to heat things up; Matadors, Greasers and Flappers to express love and more sex, sex, sex; and then “Holiday” fun to finish. I expected the button-pushing and restless cultural curiosity; Madonna has always championed the unusual and the underground, the more provocative the better. She’s a human synthesizer, and I say that as a compliment. What surprised me, however, was the lightness and vulnerability she showed. She chatted, joked, queried and proclaimed to the audience: don’t ask questions, there is no answer. She wore the mantle of Queen both proudly and irreverently.
But if I could distill her performance, nay her entire artistic existence, down to one point, I would say very simply that Madonna is about the body. All shaking ass, thrusting bosom, beating heart. Her hand on a thigh and a head in her crotch. As a dancer first and foremost, she understands the visual power of motion, of open legs and intertwined limbs. Or as her concert showcased, the stunning impact of one shirtless, muscular man moving on an empty stage with only a billowing scarf for company.
Her raison d’être, if I dare to speculate, has always been about celebrating the amazing, ecstatic things we can do with our bodies, alone and in company. She made that statement with her very first single, “Everybody”, which was released in 1982. Every / Body / Come on / Dance and Sing. And she continued that manifesto by shining a light on how others try to stop us from said ecstasy, whether it’s an overbearing patriarchy, Catholic constraints on sexuality or our very own hang-ups. Every / Body / Get Up And / Do Your Thing. Madonna’s body electric is both personal and political, and she makes her stand not only with music and lyrics but movement as well. As if Martha Graham were a pop star…
After the show, EO and I speculated as to what Madonna would do between her two shows in Hong Kong. (If you see her hiking The Peak, tell her I said Hi!) I figured after 2+ hours on stage, in heels, she probably needed some serious physio, or at least a massage. The thought made me a little sad. Madonna’s getting older, her knees must be killing her.
I know a lot of people reckon she’s well past her prime, that the best she can do these days is hitch her wagon to Nicki Minaj or Drake. But I disagree. Though I hadn’t seen her in concert for decades, her Rebel Heart show was indisputable proof that her creative vigor and taste for provocation is alive and well. She still owns the stage, whether she’s alone and singing “La Vie En Rose” or leading her dancers down the catwalk in a fantastic rendition of “Deeper and Deeper”, everyone strutting and vogueing. Even EO said she didn’t think Madonna was trying to be a teenager. The Queen was dancing, singing, doing her thing, and we were lucky to be a part of it.
How many musical icons not only survive but prosper as they head gently in to that good night? How many still have something to say? The list is short. Prince, Jagger, McCartney, Aretha, Bruce? Maybe. Bowie we just lost, Streisand barely sings anymore, Diana Ross has been MIA for years. Sinatra got it right, but then who else? Who changed pop music forever? Who’s left?
*All Hong Kong concert photos courtesy of a lovely and talented friend who had way better seats than I did! 😉
Randy from Baton Rouge
Randy from Baton Rouge who was a great dancer not so great kisser took me to the Propaganda concert Fall semester which I thought was a date but asked me after to reimburse him for the ticket not that I would have minded if the evening had been prefaced by this request and if the band had blown my mind instead I resisted paying for weeks and was relieved we weren’t running in to each other on campus until I heard he’d taken medical leave before finals due to emotional issues which my roommate said was despair at being outed by a Classics major who’d broken his heart and he ended up transferring anyway so that I never did pay him back and we truly stopped running in to each other, Randy from Baton Rouge I’m sorry.
Consider seriously if I really wanted to get back together or did I say yes because he had sixth-row seats to David Lee Roth’s first solo tour and I was curious to see if Diamond Dave was going to be better or worse than the Sammy Hagar-led Van Halen which I’d seen less than two weeks prior with my best friends not that either of those bands were my absolute favorites not even top ten but it was almost summer and I missed having a boyfriend and I thought maybe just maybe those old feelings would return but in the end what I realized was obvious, nothing could ever be as good as Van Halen circa 1984.
That Velvet Jacket
You try going to a Bryan Ferry concert where the theater is Art Deco and the cocktails are strong and Bryan’s singing in a maroon velvet jacket and not feel something for your date who happens to be the consensus best-looking guy in the graduate film program what with his dark ponytail and the way he wears a tool belt and gloves when he’s gaffing though you know you shouldn’t even call him your date because he has a girlfriend and you’re practically engaged and you’re just going together because you both love Roxy Music and no one else can afford tickets or wants to skip that night’s seminar on Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, did I mention how strong the drinks were?
A little flash (absolutely) fiction on a Friday night.
© Jennifer S. Deayton
Thanks everyone for reading and participating in my quiz: Trending Baby Names or James Spader in the ’80s?
Here are Spader’s muy beloved characters from the ’80s. Do you have a favorite?
Let me know!
2. Fenwick – Diner (TV short), 1983
3. Lowell – Family Secrets, 1984
5. Morgan – Tuff Turf, 1985 (Kim Richards was the love interest, FYI)
7. Dutra – The New Kids, 1985
8. Richards – Mannequin, 1987
11. Digby (I inadvertently wrote Dutra twice, so changed this later. Sorry for the confusion!) – Greasy Lake, 1988
13. Steff – Pretty in Pink, 1986 (Those deconstructed linen suits and loafers, no socks)
17. Graham – Sex, Lies and Videotape, 1989 (his most normal name for arguably the weirdest guy in the bunch)
18. Deforrest – The Rachel Papers, 1989
20. Rip – Less Than Zero, 1987
As for those trending baby names, most of them came courtesy of The Huffington Post. But there are three baseball-loving boys in North Carolina who deserve a mention:
Price, Grey and Preston (future attorneys-at-law) – you rock!