Thursday, January 31, 2008

I don't need love/for what good will love do me?/Diamonds never lie to me/For when love's gone/they luster on. A dress for the gold-digger in you.

Yes, I've been listening to a lot of Shirley Bassey lately, goslings. That's Dame Shirley Bassey to you. I had the priviledge of meeting her once and she complimented my hair. I was all of 10 years old at the time, but I knew that this was something to hold in my heart forevah.

Diamonds and emeralds on what this ebayer calls a "Finnish" print resemble all the diamond hoodies I've been seeing since last year. For some reason I'd be tempted to wear it with a sweater vest, probably because it is about 20 degrees outside. A teal or grey sweater vest with a snowflake print. And a cravat in a contrasting color. And fuzzy white boots.

I very much like the layers on this guy's outfit, posted on Sartorialist. Very inspirational. But I'm working this look using a novelty print shirtwaist dress as the foundation. And trying my darndest to evoke a 1980s Merchant and Ivory film about the 1930s.

I saw Aimée and Jaguar over the weekend. I had seen it in the theater when it came out, but I had the flu and I thought, there's nothing like a WWII Jewish lesbian story to make one feel better. (After all, I'm not being hunted down by Nazis, and most likely, neither are you. See, don't you feel better already?) Alas, I have not found any on-line photos of the costumes, but I am very taken with the main character's wardrobe choices. She has a tweedy, high-wasited, full-legged pant suit that she wears with a sleeveless high-necked brocade top. She also has a black and white snowflake patterned sweater that she wears over a long-sleeved blouse with a cravat. Plus everything she wears looks as though it actually fits into the suitcase she lugs around. I just hate it when I see a movie where someone is supposed to be living out of a suitcase and I never see them wear the same thing twice. Drives me nuts.

I've been wanting a snowflake pattern sweater for a couple of years now, but that cemented it. However, poppets, as of today, I have gone an entire month without adding to my already closet-busting, apartment-swallowingly copious wardrobe. Maybe a month and a half, what with that holiday for goyim that starts with an "X" that I never know how to pronounce, and everything being closed around the end of December. A new year indeed.

Aimée and Jaguar is the unlikely story of a romance between an SS officer's wife and a Jewish woman who works for the underground. It's also based on a true story. Felice Shragenheim was a Jewish resistance fighter with a job at a Nazi propaganda newspaper. She was resourceful enough to still be in Berlin in 1945. She must have been an amazing person. It certainly made sense to me that Lily Wurst, the soldier's wife and mother of 4 who fell for her, would spend the rest of her life devoted to her memory. But since the story is told by the survivors, namely those who knew the least about her underground activities, Felice remains a series of anecdotes and it's hard to get a sense of her personally. We are left at the end of the film with two of her former lovers and their contradictory stories about her.

I saw Last Year at Marienbad (1961) last night at Film Forum. I saw this movie when I was 15 and loved it. So naturally I had trepidations. I was a morose 15 year old with literary pretentions and suicidial aspirations, now I am a maiden aunt who endulges in self-parody. I must admit that an adult viewing makes the whole thing look portentous, the anachronistic organ music fueling this effect. But it is very funny in parts. The solemn game of pick-up-sticks that Delphine Seyrig's austere-looking husband is always winning, the overblown white plumed peignoir, the discussion of the statue, the shoe with the broken heel: all hilarious, though perhaps unintentionally. When Ms. Seyrig attends the music concert, we see two violinists sawing away, but for sound the organ music just gets louder. I guffawed (though I was alone in doing so). It was like a trick from silent films. If only Guy Madden would re-do this film! That would be a knee-slapper for sure. I think that stylistically it may have informed his Dracula:Pages from a Virgin's Diary.

I like repetition. I mean, I'll say it again: I like repetition. And everything gets repeated here. Alain Robbe-Grillet's flat narration is repeated throughout. Again and again, the man tells Ms. Seyrig that he met her last year, and again and again she denies it. Is it true or not? Is it merely the coersive force of narrative that the man represents? Is Ms. Seyrig's denial a feminist act? Or is this just one long come-on, one unending pick-up line from a man in a tuxedo? But even for me the repetition of the early scenes wears a bit thin.

There are fissures. My favorite is when the man describes going up to Ms. Seyrig's room. She, of course, denies that this ever happened. But in the film, as it is the convention of film itself, we are shown the story that he is telling. He keeps saying that she stays away from the large mirror on the wall, but Ms. Seyrig in a plumed peignoir walks the entire length of it, touching it, clouding it with her breath, resisting his narration at every turn.

Ms. Seyrig is so beautiful in this film. She also has a lovely walk. Her hips really move, yet somehow there is something etherial about it. And the Chanel gowns don't hurt her any either. I could watch her walk around the formal garden of the chateau until the cows come home. It's really that beautifully shot. But there is something about her performance that is camp. Perhaps it's because I saw her in this dreadful 1971 lesbian vampire movie Daughters of Darkness, where she lays it on thick as the Countess Bathory. She's a blonde here, but still dressed to kill and slinking around silent baroque European hotels during the off-season.

The other actors are also visually interesting. Images of people in evening dress, frozen in place, the light reflecting from the chokers of pearls the women wear with black dresses. I wonder what Mr. Sartorialist would say about the men's wear.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm not sure this planet is safe, Bobby, it's got active volcanos and a radio tower.
Vintage novelty print kid's handkercheif. It would be a shame to blow your nose on it, wouldn't it. I have a number of novelty print handkerchiefs and they languish in the drawer in favor of large white cotton handerkerchiefs from the 99 cent store. Not only can I blow my nose on 'em, they are big enough to serve as a white flag if I ever need to surrender in a shoot-out.
But I love the idea of having the perfect novelty print handkerchief in my purse. One that I could lend to a friend in tears, or dab my forehead, or some such.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

As you well know, goslings, I'm not much of a romantic. I'm a fighter not a lover.

I could say that my ill-starred relationships with arrogant foreigners have made me defensive, argumentative and wary. I could say that the violent examples of my friends' and family members' married lives have predjuiced me against matrimony entirely. Or I could merely state that I am a confirmed bachelor, content to pursue my Interests, including by not limited to: playing the ukulele, watching all the films made before 1970, wearing the most outré of vintage novelty prints, studying Butoh dance, penning doggerel, producing off-off-off Broadway theatricals, going to the opera, and most importantly, the pleasures of the bottle (because sometimes I can't be bothered to wash a glass).

Now and then, I have a wistful moment where I wonder if that's enough to Make A Life. But then I have to run off to rehearsal where I find myself dancing the role of a fetus (or an ocelot) and I get into it, you know, and before long it's midnight and I'm putting on cold cream and setting my alarm. And I think: It's not bad, this life, not bad at all.

But despite having devoted myself body and soul to my all-consuming (and completely unremunerative) Interests, I am now and again faced with an ardent young man intent upon making an honest woman of me.

Long ago I thought that, like my mother, I would marry, and marry often. But somewhere along the way, I began to find my own company compelling. And now I find myself spitting distance from 40, and still very caught up in, um, whatever it is that I'm doing. I rather enjoy eating alone. I like that there is no one to comment upon the fact that I've got 4 pairs of furry boots, I haven't paid the phone bill and that Pringles are not a good breakfast choice. I am content to wander museums and galleries toute seule comme une grande. See movies that no one else is interested in. If I am lonely, I usually think of something to make myself laugh.

Insensitive souls ask me if I want children. At my age, one would be the best I could do, but how I would take care of an infant and continue to pay rent is beyond me. Alas, an infant couldn't be left on the sofa during the day with some take-out menus and the remote while I work in the thrilling pink collar ghetto. And then there's college. N.Y.Jew, my dear alma mater, is now $47,000 a year. I still haven't finished paying for my own (useless) education.

There are times when I feel under-accomplished, to put it mildly. But that's just showbiz, kid. And so I strive to live for process and not product. And it's enough for me, most of the time. But it sure can be hard to explain to someone else. Especially someone else who has real world markers of success, at least the Darwinian kind, looking up at you in an expensive stroller. And then there are the men. These kind, optimistic men who for some strange reason want to yoke themselves to a complicated half-Jewess. These handsome foreigners, confident in their good looks and ability to work hard who want to saddle me with offspring. They want me to obsess over school districts, attachment theory and organic snacks while they work Jobs of Importance.

What is love anyway? And why does it usually demand a woman sacrifices herself on its pyre? Or at least clean up after everyone else? What's a woman to do if she just wants peace and quiet? The life of the mind? The time and space to do a crossword puzzle, smash the capitalist state, grow eggplants and eat them? What is a woman to do?
And so, goslings, this dress. I don't much care for these particular poems, but I do like the idea, and the blue daisies, as well as the execution. But I'd much rather this frock was covered in Dorothy Parker quips. Or maybe poems from Elizabeth Bishop, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Oh, yeah, Plath's "Daddy" written in a flowing feminine hand, that would be perfect. But as it is, I think this frock would make an excellent wedding dress. Shocking for me to write, I know. Best worn at City Hall for a civil ceremony, I'd pair this dress with blue daisies to be picked up along the way at a deli for $5. Don't spend any money on this nonesense. I can't believe how stupidly people bankrupt themselves over a day's event that is really just a party.
As for myself, goslings, please don't worry:I have no plans to marry. I've still got plenty of fight left in me and Interests to enjoy.

Blood red, white and French blue lanterns strung taut against this sundress with a triangular waist inset and a halter top. Nice medium size with a 40 inch bust.
This is the quintessential summer dress. Wear this one to garden parties, or to watch the fireflies. The full skirt means this dress would love to go out dancing. It's still cut beautifully enough to wear without a crinoline.
What are you waiting for? So there's freezing rain outside. In a mere 5 months you'll be able to wear it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wear it with a rose in your teeth.

Alas, this one isn't available anymore, and you'd really need to wear a crinoline to show this one off to its best advantage. I love the lines in the background. It's as if someone took a weathered old bullfight poster and blew up the image about 50 times until you can taste the grain of the paper and the wheatpaste on the wall. The lines also create a windy feeling of movement, and the light sprinkling of red rose petals really opens up the whole scene. I love that our matador is at the moment of the final kill.

This one, however, is available, and you can bid on it here. Lovely repeat print with different bullfight moments. Doesn't it look like batik? The ebayer says the outline is in metallic paint and really makes the scenes pop. Nice medium size.

I'd be tempted to wear this to go see Carmen next week at the Met. I have the absolute cheapest seat. I'll be sitting on the roof, so it doesn't really matter what I wear. But don't worry, goslings, lawsuit or not, cheap seats or not and the ever widening of my grey streak be damned, I'll still drag out my furs, and rustle up an evening gown that fits and drink champagne during intermission. Oiseau rebelle indeed, poppets, as soon as I finish this course of antibiotics that is seriously cutting into my drinking.

Housing court is a demoralizing place to be, especially with the flu. I managed to get an ajournment, despite the protestations of my slumlord's scumbag attorney. My new court date is February 8th. Now the building manager, and the slumlord's legal department have left me multiple voicemail messages that they are dropping the lawsuit, but I keep getting served with papers. And now I hear that voicemail messages are not admissible as evidence, they're just hearsay. Sigh.

Checkmate. You know I can't resist anything chess-themed, not even a felt circle skirt. Alas the diagram doesn't show the Queen's Gambit. I'm also worried that those rooks have plastic googley eyes, which would be entirely de trop. This skirt may be what Ms. Dress A Day calls a stunt dress, and it's true audience is perhaps a 3rd grade class.

But maybe you teach elementary school. So then it's all right, isn't it?

It's a shame the chess set isn't functional. If only the board were bigger, and the felt pieces could stick on by virtue of their feltiness. (What happened to the felt boards of my elementary school days? That was a solid low-tech teaching aid.) But I don't know that I'd want a chess game taking place on my left hip. Though I do like the idea of a fully operational felt chess dress, with this diagram and the late Bobby Fischer as inspiration.

I've gotten to the age where all my famous people are dying. I can no longer hope to run into Jacques Derrida or Yasser Arafat walking in Central Park. Nor to share a cab with Edward Said, or Susan Sontag. Find Julia Child or Kurt Vonnegut haggling over vegtables at the greenmarket. Nor to engage in a shouting match with Bobby Fischer.

I find it remarkable that none of the obituaries of Mr. Fischer use the words "paranoid schizophrenic". Why tip-toe around what was so obviously madness?

Perhaps the chess motif could serve as a pocket? And in that pocket you could have a handkerchief printed with actual chess diagrams.

The skirt currently weighs in at $35, with a tiny 24 inch waist.

I take comfort in the thought that I can still run into Sofia Loren or Peter O'Toole. Liza Minelli might drop into the Luigi's dance class, and I could possibly even play a hand of bridge with Omar Sharif.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Magic carpet ride. I've been looking for a Persian rug print in polyester for about 3 years now. These are Persian rugs, I think. Or are they Turkish? You tell me. And this one would fit a Stuffed Samsara. What do you think, Mom?

Not exactly appropriate for my day in court, though. That's right, my slumlord is now suing me for the rent for the days I was not able to live in my apartment, even though the building manager promised me a rent credit. They are dragging me to court to make me fight for it.

My landlord is not an individual, but a publically traded corporation. There is noone to reason with.

Sigh. But I do love a court room drama. You know, Witness for the Prosecution, that type of thing. I relish the idea of saying: "Your Honor,..." But unfortunately I don't have the money to hire an attorney. If I did, I wouldn't be in this mess to begin with.

I had my day in court once before. At 16 I got a traffic ticket for an offense I did not commit. A motorcycle cop said I turned left on a red light. Why praytell would anyone do such a thing? The truth was I was already in the intersection in my little rattletrap of a Nissan as the light turned yellow and I turned, as one does. I decided to fight it in court. Everyone told me the cop wouldn't show up. That they never do. And as the judge and I waited a few minutes before starting, it looked like they'd be right. But then I heard the sound of motorcycle boots in the hallway. That's right. My fascist motorcycle cop strutted on in a proceeded to lie. Lie through his teeth. There were cars ahead of hers, he said. There was a tan sedan and a red compact in front of her, he said. I had taken pictures of the intersection, and was at that tender young age actually considering a career in law. I had a lovely little speech prepared. Who did the Judge believe?

The lying traffic cop, of course.

I had to go to traffic school where I sat for 15 hours vowing never to enter a courtroom or trust the wheels of justice again. I studied Comparative Literature in college, for crying out loud, and wrote papers about unreliable narrators.

Goslings, wish me luck. My court date is January 25th.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Aloha from the Taj Mahal. The travel print skirt to end all travel prints? Perhaps. Hand-tinted postcard photos of world monuments cut to the shape of clouds. The kind of clouds you see out the window of an airplane.

Yes, goslings, I've got wanderlust again. Just like last winter.

If I could get into a 24" waist, I'd wear this one with a very light crinoline, a sky blue tank top beneath a zippered hoodie paired with some very sensible shoes and hop on a plane bound for Bali. I know, I know. A backpacker in a crinoline sounds overwhelmingly impractical, but since this is my fantasy, it doubles as a sleeping bag. Oh, why am I holding back? How about this: the crinoline folds out like a sofa bed in a way that defies physics into a queensize bed complete with a mosquito net.

In my backpack, you'd also find an A-line dress made of this material. There's 3 yards of it.

Just look at this adorable luggage tag print. I love the scribbles and handwritten claim numbers and all the now defunct airlines. But what I like best is that the background evokes brown butcher paper.

Of course I'd study Balinese dance along with Gamelon and absolutely gorge myself on durian and fish without gaining an ounce. I'd have an affair with a Wayang Kulit puppeteer (you know how I love puppets). Since this is the movie version of my life, our romance would look a lot like the 1953 Leslie Caron film, Lili, except that they'd be shadow puppets and the puppeteer would be a much nicer guy. With a wounded heart though, no easy conquest, no sir, not he. The shadow puppets would sing to me and we'd do musical numbers together and that's how we would fall in love. But there would still be a part for Zza Zza Gabor somehow, maybe as an older expat living at the dance school, or better yet, an unscrupulous anthropologist, academic or concert promoter. Though Ms. Gabor doesn't have much range and I don't want to tax her too much.

Perhaps the hotel where I'm staying that just coincidentally houses some Indonesian pop stars and soap opera stars from the 70s who come out of retirement to do this movie. And just by chance some fine actresses like, Joan Plowright, Judy Densch and Fran Drescher. We'd have lovely dinners together were we'd have snappy, yet profound dialogue.
Music? How about only songs from one-hit wonders from the 80s? Like, I dunno, Dexy's Midnight Runners? Kajagoogoo? All performed on Gamelon, of course. My puppeteer, who resembles Chartchai Ngamsan (from Wisit Sasanatieng’s Thai cowboy melodrama "Tears of the Black Tiger", if you know of an equally dreamy Indonesian actor, please let me know and I'll dust off my casting couch) would need to have a dance background.

In my bag, which is weightless no matter how many sarongs I buy, you'd also find this skirt. Thrilling, postcards from around the world. Essentially the same images as the first one, only illustrated with line drawings. A lovely medium size and currently weighing in at $44.00.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Happy New Year, goslings. We'll never mention 2007 again, okay? 2008 is officially The Year of Moving On (an elastic enough slogan), which ironically began back in my old apartment.
The slumlord actually replaced the broken chimney. Really. I was just as shocked as you are. I am again chez moi and sans carbon monoxide as of last Monday. Of course we are wrangling over back rent and my attorney still has a special ring tone, but nonetheless, Moving On.
A big thank you to all the kind souls who housed me (especially the indefatigably kind and thoughtful Spartacus) and all those who listened to me. Actually, I've had a lovely sojourn staying at friends' places. It's the closest I've come to a vacation in a long time. I got aquainted with liquor stores in other zip codes (a big hello to the boys at Liquorz on 128th Street), waited on different subway platforms for my morning commute to work, and got addicted to a Korean Soap Opera ("Princess Hours"). Who needs Clubmed?
Of course during this process I lost my mind. Or perhaps regained it. Who can tell? It was a blessing in disguise to be away from my cluttered apartment and all the memories of Rudolpho, not to mention Shmuck #2, and the Boy From Ipanema (aka "The Ambulance Chaser"). The universe was also kind enough to send someone tall, dark and handsome for the holidays to make sure this Old Maid wasn't alone. How's that for a Hollywood Ending?
Sword and Sorcery. Feast your eyes on this violently fabulous mid-fifties, post New Look frock. Can anyone read what's written in this print for me? I believe it is Chinese. But perhaps it is Japanese. You tell me.
This is the first dress I've ever seen that is armed to the teeth. I love how the swords are sheathed along the side of the bodice, as if the wearer could draw them at the slightest hint of danger. And unsheathed and deadly down the front of the dress, the swords glint like the weapons in comic books. The ornaments also have lovely details evoking laquer, bone and jade.
Wear this dress when you are pissed off. When you want everyone to take a step back. When you have a migraine. When you want to make mere mortals tremble.
In the movie version, one of those swords would be fully functional. I'd use the knife to open a letter, pop a balloon, or show that I mean business.
B40 ", W 32 " , H44 ", waist to hem, 28" a totally wearable medium that would even fit a stuffed Samsara.