Friday, August 29, 2008

Every so often, about every 6 months or so, I look at my life, blink back the tears with my false eyelashes and say, "Brad, we can't go on like this."

Who wants to put up with indignity of it all? After all, I've got a gas stove, why not get on the Syliva Plath Express outta here? But luckily for me, I've been conditioned by a life of relentless disappointment and can eat this stuff for breakfast.

Today is my first 39th Birthday.

Now I rail against Ageism. I make no effort to hide my age, nay, I even flaunt it. I've got an untouched gray streak. I reference the Carter administration. I routinely say things like: I haven't ridden a bike in 25 years. Or: I've got shoes older than you. Still, even I am feeling a bit bummed out about the slippery slope to 40.

Of course, in the scheme of things, 39 is still young. Just ask my mother, Esmeralda, who's 78 and she'll tell you: 39, feh, just a baby. But by my age she had already had 2 children, 3 husbands, and a wild time in Cuba (details still remain undisclosed, but I hope they make it into her unexpurgated memoirs).

I was too busy producing and performing in off-off-off broadway flops to get an actual career. Is a smidgeon of success too much to ask for? I'd settle for a few drops of grease from the pan where success was cooked. Okay, just a sniff. No? Well, alrighty then. I am a fatalist. I mean, you can't drown if you are meant to hang. It is what it is, as the kids say. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.

After all, things aren't so bad (pfui! pfui! pfui!). I've got a handsome, sweet Akhenaten. I've got wonderful friends like Spartacus, Modesty Blaise, Rita Hayworth and Mrs. Diamond. My apartment no longer has a carbon monoxide leak. Things are looking up (pfui! kaynahora, keep the evil eye away).

I just need about 4 more years before I could say I was 40 without being embarassed. True, I have made great strides over the past couple of years. I learned to play the ukulele, bought a couch (my first piece of furniture not found in the garbage) and finally found a foundation that matches my skin tone. These are not accomplishments to be sneezed at.

In 4 years I think I could: 1) clean my apartment 2) get an actual job 3)pay off some debt 4)write a novel 5)visit Indonesia 6)waltz through a winter season in Vienna. I've got a list of things longer than my arm.

Can I have 3 more 39th birthdays, please? That's what I'd like as a birthday present. I've often said that I should be allowed to deduct the 4 years I spent in graduate school from my age (since those years were like being in a coma). I know this undermines my assault on Ageism, but am I not allowed to be a little contradictory?


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Well goslings, I'm off the the left coast for a week to see my parents, Esmeralda and Reginald.

I hope to be able to blog from there, and post photos of flea markets, ukulele duets, horse races and fish tacos but we'll just have to see how that goes. Esmeralda and Reggie are Luddites so their ancient computer might not be up to the task.

There's a reason for this Barbra Steisand photo. Here's an inspirational video from Color Me Barbra that I've been seriously enjoying. It's got a travel theme, and Babs wears a brilliant patchwork rainbow maxi dress as she performs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Don't miss the cocktail rings and glittery make-up. I wish that stylist could come over to my place right now to fix my hair and help me pack. When flying, I believe one should look as mod as possible. I always wear something Pucci-esque that makes flight attendants want to chat. It recalls the glamorous age of air travel, and who doesn't want to remember that?

There are many reasons to love Barbra. She's got some glorious pipes on her, that's for sure.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stick a fork in me because I'm done. I need an ebaycation. I need to get a hold of myself. I need to stop feeding my id lest it outgrow this tank. Limit my indiscretions to the flea market. That only happens on weekends. During daylight. I mean, how wrong can you really go during daylight? Or at least until 10 or so when the stores close. The bars are open until 4, but at least I can't shop there.

Yes, I was outbid by a mere 50 cents on this nature skirt. Sour grapes, I tell you, sour grapes.

And I love--really love--the bunnies, raccoons and frogs. Such cute 70s illustration style. Very Hedgehog in the Fog. I had already planned our life together, this skirt and I. Picked out the sweater I was gonna wear with this skirt. And the boots. And oh the adventures we could have had. But now...

But of course the irony is that I wasn't home to outbid the outbidder because I was shopping for other things. Oh yes I was. I got myself a thrillingly constructed late 60s dress that looks like wood grain, and a 70s polyester dress printed with broken chains. Both will be on high rotation as fall transitions into winter. And the two of them together cost me a mere 6 bucks. Of course I traded in choice items like 50s silk dresses to get them, but there you have it. I was at Beacon's Closet, where I had a voucher. And I'm always afraid to die with a Beacon's Closet voucher in my purse, I mean, what a waste that would be.

My month-long ebay binge has made me $89 lighter. I got three dresses, one skirt and four necklaces out of it, which isn't so bad. And in all honesty, one of those dresses, a glorious Vested Gentress number was, a whopping $37. And Akhenaten bought that one for me. He saw the terrible tragedy of one of my beloved vegetable print dresses being destroyed in the wash and stepped in with some humanitarian aid.

But now I'm done. I'm not bidding or watching anything.

I began this blog almost two years ago to curb my compulsive shopping problem. And I have fallen down a couple of times before, though never like this. You and I both know I've got plenty of things to wear. So what's going on? What gives?

Well, what I don't have, at the moment, is hair.

I had an acute telogen effluvium about 4 months ago. That means my hair fell out in handfuls for about 2 months. A rain of hair. It would get all over my desk at work. Piles of it. Very distracting, to say the least. I lost between 30 and 40% of my hair. My general practitioner sent me to a dermatologist who did expensive, painful lab work and concluded that my hair was falling out (no kidding), but that she didn't know why (gee, thanks). She told me to take Biotin and use Rogaine. I'd like to say I kept a stiff upper lip, but instead I wept bitter tears from my heart.

Rogaine is a hypertension medication whose side effect is hair growth. In creme form, new hair will grow wherever it touches, pretty much. Brittle hairs about 2 inches long, but no usually more than that. If I am supposed to put it on before I go to bed, won't it get on my pillow case? Won't it get on my face? I mean, the instructions are adamant about washing your hands afterward. And even Big Pharma itself says that Rogaine is a life style choice. That means you gotta use it continuously for it to work. And it ain't cheap. I decided against this route. Supposedly a telogen effluvium is a temporary situation. Some even say that the old hair that is resting is being pushed out by new growth.

Hair is divided into 3 parts: growing, resting and falling out. Hair also grows in 3 month cycles. If something happens to interrupt the cycle (a high fever, extreme stress, starvation, postpartum, and new medication all can be culprits) the hair that is resting will begin to fall out, along with the hair that is already falling out. And then you have a major bummer.

The part in my hair began to look like the Grand Canyon. I wore scarves on my head (what Akhenaten and I jokingly called "Hair Loss Hijab") for about 2 months. I don't mind rocking the Little Edie look, but summer set in and it began to get too warm.

So Biotin. I've been taking it from the get-go, and my part finally seems to be filling in with wiry short hairs. Most of them gray. But nonetheless, the Grand Canyon seems less wide. Of course that didn't help what's hanging down my back. And so I began to cut. First 2 inches. Then 4 inches. Then 6. My waist length hair is now somewhere around my shoulders and still looking paltry. Head scarves are still in high rotation. I think I'm still about a year away from having hair that I can stand. Maybe a year and a half. And possibly it won't quite recover to it's pre-shedding fullness. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut used to say. But I did not go bald, though the rain of hair was alarming, it slowed to a drizzle and stopped.

I did not use Shen Min, a Chinese herb reputed to keep hair from falling out and return grays to their original color. It hasn't been shown to work consistently.

I tell you all of this, goslings, because heaven forfend (pfui! pfui! pfui! kaynehora keep the evil eye away) it should happen to you or someone you know. But at least with this information you could be more reassuring to someone experiencing hair loss than the expensive dermatologist I saw.

So the question is: should I just cut it off and start all over again?

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Monday, August 11, 2008

"God will get you for that, Walter," Maude said often. There's a reason for this terrific Bea Arthur photo. Really. You'll see. They just don't make tv shows like this one any more.

There's an alarming story about 3 vintage clothes wearing gals attempting to live vintage lives. It's published in some kinda tabloidy Brit paper, so one can certainly question it's accuracy. (The few dealings I've had with the press I was misquoted and/or my name was mis-spelled, so I generally presume that the news has been tampered with.) But I must say I'm worried about these women. At any rate, you can read it hereand some commentary here. It references a tv show about them that is currently airing in the UK. You can find clips here. (In all honesty, the article makes the women sound crazy, but the clips seem a little more balanced.)

There's a dame devoted to each of these 3 decades: 50s, 40s, and 30s. Although our 50s gal seems a bit kitschy to me (I love not only the flowers in the hair, but also the strangely asymetrical placement of said flowers, very Dorothy Lamour), our 40s and 30s gals look a little more down to earth (though the 40s gal is more New Look than wartime rations). These ladies are serious. They live in homes from their eras, surround themselves with decade appropriate knick-knackery and use only the technology that was available during their time: cars, cake mixers and whatnot. This ironically means they spend a lot of time on the internet to find their historically accurate stuff, but nonetheless, they have created time capsules that they inhabit.

So why am I concerned about these ladies? After all, don't I lounge on an orange velvet couch and talk on a 1970s analog French Princess phone while wearing polyester palazzo jumpsuits? When I'm not busy seeing my analyst or eating fondue with my consciousness raising group, of course. Well, not quite. Just missing the fondue pot and the consciousness raising group (gotta work on that). And while I'd love to coat everything in faux fur and become a primal scream therapist, my style isn't strictly 1965-1972 though that's what I like the most these days. I think that vintage clothing should not be worn to create period authenticity. I caution all vintage neophytes to avoid this trap. Just wear what you like mixed with what you like. The more diverse the time periods the better. I ascribe to the Iris Barel Apfel school of surrealism: combine things that are thematically similar, but come from different places and times. Otherwise you can end up looking like an extra in a period movie.

So who am I to care what decade pops someone's rockets? After all, just like me, these ladies have cherry-picked the things they like most about their decades. Ms. 30s doesn't stand in bread lines, even if she could find one, and I'm not lamenting inflation, high gas prices and protesting an illegal foreign war. Oh wait, shoot, I am doing just that. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I tell ya.

What worries me about these ladies is that they have retreated to the past to avoid the messiness of today. All of them state that specifically. All avoid the newpapers and current affairs, while fetishing traditional gender roles. Not only that only that: all three claim to get the biggest bang out of doing housework and cooking for their husbands (though one couple is just shacked up). Gadzooks! Do I hear Stockholm Syndrome? Get them all copies of The Feminine Mystique. Didn't we already determine that being subsumed into the family unit and losing you own identity is bad for women's mental and physical health?

The other problem with settling all your happiness on another person is not just that they could up and leave you (though there is that), but also that they could (through no fault of their own) get sick (or run down by a trolley car) and die (pfui! kaynehora, keep the evil eye away). And then where's your raison d'etre? And, in these cases, where's your meal ticket? Ever tried re-entering the job market with gaps in your resume? How about a total lack of marketable skills? Plus what about pensions? They might get some kinky thrill out of being housewives now, but what about retirement? Women tend to have greater longevity after all. What will they do at 75? Can't draw a pension if you don't pay into it yourself.

Other people also have the uncanny ability to change at the precise moment when you need them not to. Like you find yourself going through major health problems (pfui! pfui! pfui!) or some other catastrophe (pfui! pfui! pfui!) and your lover man decides he needs to climb Mount Everest, go back to Law School, have an affair, or become a Scientologist. If I could reduce this to a slogan it would be this: "Other People: not always there for you".

Oh, dear, if only I did really have a consciousness raising group and could invite these ladies. However, it seems to me that all these women are really engaged in long-term performance art-installations. Though there is a creepy doll house quality to Ms. 50s set up, mixed with fetishism. Again with the Stockholm Syndrome. Do these men really want home-made jam? Or are these gals just obsessed with making time-consuming edibles, like as artists? There's so much false consciousness here, I need some smelling salts.

Plenty of people sure are compulsive about their environments. Watching Ms. 50s scrub her floor in the clip, I was reminded of the overwhelmingly clean-freak, detail-oriented, house-proud folks at I think that dusting the baseboards every night before going to bed is a textbook case of OCD, and there's medication for it. But on Apartment Therapy you'll find people who do just that. And think everyone else should too. I think it would be much worse to live with a minimalist than a 50s fetishist. After all, the 50s fetishist is happy when you bring home more 50s tchotches, but the minimalist comes unglued every time you buy a pair of earrings or fail to wipe down the shower curtain after bathing. (Trust me, I speak from experience: never live with a minimalist, it's just a more socially acceptable form of control-freak crazy.)

Finally, something that no one seems to mention is that historical re-enactment folks are always white. This is so obvious. Does anyone else really miss the good old days of segregation, violence and discrimination? Really now, how can one say that those were kinder, gentler times? Just because they didn't have reality tv? And, I might add, the 40s were not a particularly fun time to be a Jew.

An angry commenter on one of these sites that linked to the article (one of these dudes without the ability to understand statistics who feels discriminated against because shelters exist for battered women but not for men)unintentionally inspired me. He wrote something like: What about a 70s wife? One who won't cook, clean, or dress to please you but will complain about oppression. He wrote that like it was a bad thing. And I thought, where can I meet her? She's my new best friend. Or how about the 20s girl? She's got bootleg gin in a hip flask and she just loves to dance the charleston and vote. Hey, I just might have the makings of a consciousness raising group there.

Yes, full disclosure, I am nostalgic for the 70s. Ironically feminism was less derided in the 70s than it is now. People thought that peace and government spending on social programs were good ideas. And you had shows like Maude. Bea Arthur was a limosine liberal, it's true, but she wrestled with her issues, and held her salt-and pepper gray-streaked head high. We don't eve have gray-haired women in the mainstream media any more. Let alone a gray-haired woman who runs for public office. Not only was she outspoken, but Maude had an abortion (on demand and without apology) on prime time tv. Now we have movies with PG-13 ratings that can't even say the word abortion. What happened? There's only so much backlash a free-wheeling woman can stand.

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In all my fervor, I can't believe I let this one slip away.

Vintage Salvador Dalí scarf. Lurid colors. Armored Roman torsos on an endless vista. I just love the fissures drawn in, making the silk resemble crumbling stone.

As a kid I was a huge Dalí fan. I mean, what kid doesn't like melting clocks? And he was so prolific (that is, he would do anything for a buck) that there were plenty examples of his work to see and in different mediums. Cartoons, sculptures, even perfume and clothing. I loved the dream sequence he did in Hitchcock's Spellbound, which led me to explore more of his work. This was the image that stuck with me the most:

The moustache, the aphorisms, the giraffes on fire, all left an indeliable mark on my aesthetic. I saw photos of his house once and vowed to myself that I too would one day sleep in an enormous seashell. (This dream remains unrealized, though I do sleep in a loft bed, surrounded with Japanese carp windsocks and plastic bubbles and seahorses.) The Mae West Room, and the lobsterphone are also interior design aspirations for me. As a teenager I spent hours staring at reproductions of his paintings and tripping out on them. At that time he was still alive. And still churning it out.

Later, I began to view his work as a collection of rather obvious tricks and effects, mercilessly flogged by a PR machine. King of Kitsch, and never one to miss a merchandizing opportunity, Dalí's academic photo-realistic painting style easily appeals to a mass market. And he supported Franco, which seems crass, at best. However, reviewing Surreal Lives, by Ruth Brandon, which describes the arc of the movement and some breathless gossip, Lawrence Osbourne wrote:

"In a sense, communism was the grave that surrealism buried
itself in -- not only because it imposed a philistine realist
aesthetic at odds with surrealism's deepest instincts, but because
it also destroyed the primacy of the erotic interplays that made
surrealism's booming, narcissistic individuals tick. When Dalí
unveiled an armchair studded with glass vials containing milk,
[Luis] Aragon dourly declared that there were too many children
in the world who needed milk and that the armchair was politically

I guess in the context of continual Marxists bummers like that, maybe one would want to go against the grain. But Franco? No, that's too much. I'll still maintain that it's possible to make socially responsible art that isn't self-righteous or banal. Easy? No, but possible. Alas, even asserting socially responsible art sounds hopeless prim in our current cultural climate, doesn't it? But then Dalí's brand of surrealism is the one that prevailed in popular imagery and Marxism collapsed under the weight of it's own ugly concrete housing blocks. Sigh. Like the mother at the end of the film Goodbye, Lenin!, I awake from a coma to find a Coca Cola ad outside my window and statues of Lenin being taken away by helicopter. And I think: What was so wrong with thinking communally? Was there no other possibility besides the over-commercialization of every aspect of our lives? (But that's a whole 'nother post.)

Seeing the massive Dalí exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art a few years ago made me a fan again. I even enjoyed the optical illusion paintings that obsessed him in later life.

Of course there would be no Dalí without his wife Gala. Born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, Gala managed and harnessed Dalí's crazy gift. And apparently she was real good at negotiating contracts. Critics have speculated that she wrote the books published in his name. She certainly tidied up his bizarre French. He claimed that without her he would have faced only madness and an early death. He even signed many of his paintings with both their names. The story goes that Dalí met Gala while filming Le Chien Andalou. He was wearing girl's underwear over his clothes and liberally daubed with his own execrement. I wish I could remember where I read this because I'd love to credit the author. She wrote something like: It took real vision on Gala's part take this man by the hand, call him darling and make him an art star.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

I am hyperventilating over this one. Peter Max design on a mod raincoat (Raincheetahs, get it?) barren trees, lush psychedelic flowers and it's double breasted. Just look at that pert little stand up collar, those sturdy buttons. So amazing I almost want to bite it.

But it has soared out of my price range already. A helium balloon just beyond my grasp. But I'm reaching. Still reaching.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Today marks the 34th anniversary of Philippe Petit’s art caper. At 7:15 am on August 7, 1974, the French funambulist, juggler and street performer, only 24 years old at the time, did a 45 minute tight rope walk on a cable strung between the very tops of the two World Trade Center towers. Over 100 stories above the ground. Without a net. Without a harness. And, as one snarky commenter wrote: and in bell bottoms, for crying out loud.

Indeed, Mr. Petit was rocking a David Bowie as the Thin White Duke kind of look.

Rita Hayworth and I went to see Man On Wire the other night, an interesting documentary, by James Marsh about Mr. Petit’s legendary skywalk.

The footage of the walk itself, although as one of the policemen who arrested him said: “it was more like a dance”, is white-knuckling. Even if you don’t have vertigo. There is something elated and beautiful and terrible about the whole thing. My heart was in my throat watching it. Mr. Petit is obviously in ecstasy, or some heightened state of being. You can’t miss the joy that shines out of him.

The towers were still under construction at the time and Mr. Petit and his crew disguised themselves as construction workers and business men, complete with fake ids to infiltrate the building with over 500 lbs of gear to make it all happen. Mr. Marsh’s documentary focuses on the how rather than the why to show the 6 years of planning that made this stunt happen. Mr. Marsh frames the coup as a heist, which adds to the excitement.

Many of those involved in the initial planning backed out of working the event itself. As one puts it: I didn’t want to be responsible for something that could cause a friend’s death.

Possibly Mr. Petit was conscious of having a legacy to protect even then. (Or perhaps he was just lucky enough to have a devoted friend with a camera.) Man on Wire has a lot of footage from the planning stages of what Mr. Petit called “the coup”, as well as footage of his early street performances. There are a few black and white reconstructions with actors. I found these distracting, but mercifully they were few. Mr. Petit had done similar high wire walks before. One in Paris, between the towers of Notre Dame, and one in Australia, over a massive tension bridge. But nothing equivalent in height and difficulty as the Twin Towers.

Mr. Petit himself, who currently lives in upstate New York and is an artist in residence at Saint John the Divine, is a very lively interview subject. For the events that were not filmed or photographed, he acts them out. His energy is very intense. Like stand back or you’ll crack the lens on the camera intense. One of his collaborators says that when he first met Mr. Petit, he thought he was crazy, or a con man. And certainly, that’s how he comes off. But when you see him walking the wire, he is another person. Transformed by concentration, you see the artist in him. Clearly, he was born to do this. But there will be some fall out around him because of it.

Sneaking into the Twin Towers, shooting an arrow between the two to link them with a wire, and orchestrating this whole stunt was illegal. Not mean, or bad, Mr. Petit points out, but illegal. But because of massive public outcry, the charges against him were reduced to trespassing and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to perform a free show for children in Central Park, which became a major media event. Obviously a stunt like that would land him in Guantanamo today.

His friends were not so lucky. Some were fined. One was immediately and permanently deported from the U.S. He appears to have abandoned all of them. I’ve never had any experience of fame, nor have I been around anyone who blew up, but I think this is fairly standard.

His girlfriend at the time, Annie Allix, is the most philosophical about it. She says something like: Our relationship ended at that moment, and that’s how it should be. It’s beautiful that way. Ms. Allix was Mr. Petit’s constant support during the venture. She says that it was exhausting (I can only imagine). Her description of their relationship was telling. She said he was riveted by him. That he was so thrilling and courted her so sweetly, but that she became completely subsumed into his life to the point that he never even considered that she might have something of her own to do. I mean, there’s only so much of that a girl can take. Yeah, after getting him up there and down safely, and after 6 years of planning and sacrifices, I’d sure feel like that project was done too.

What Man on a Wire fails to mention is funding. Several transatlantic crossings for several people, a cable that cost $10,000 in 1974 (adjust that for inflation and that’s a whole lot of mango). Hard to finance all that as a street performer.

Rita Hayworth and I were discussing this after the film when a lovely French woman in fabulous glasses (and don’t French women always have the most amazing glasses?) interjected: these were children of privilege, you could tell by where they lived in Paris. But Rita Hayworth had an excellent point: what parents would give a kid thousands of clams to do some crazy thing that would probably get him killed? He must have had other income streams. Or other supporters. Perhaps since the whole thing was illegal, certain aspects remain secret to protect these supporters.

Thankfully, Mr. Marsh never mentions the destruction of the Twin Towers. I mean, you'd have to have been in a coma for the past 7 years not to know about that. In that sense the film could be seen as a tribute to the Towers but without any of jingoistic shlock that now surrounds almost any mention of these structures. The film importantly points out that the World Trade Center was not popular in the 70's. It was merely seen as a big behemoth in an already cash-strapped city. Mr. Petit's performance helped to raise public support for the buidlings.

I first heard of Mr. Petit in 1990. A distant cousin was visiting me from abroad. She was studying architecture and wanted to see the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Naturally we waited until the very last day of her visit, when she had to catch a plane that afternoon. It was also the morning after a particularly raucous party (though some of the guests were still in my apartment). Both of us were wearing beaded 1920s party frocks and admittedly still drunk when we took the hour long subway ride uptown. To see the cathedral at dawn was worth it.

But our appearance (and alcohol induced high spirits) attracted the attention of a pair of stonecutters who were working on the cathedral’s façade early to beat the summer heat. They insisted on giving us the grand tour of the place which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. No, that’s not a double entendre; the building is that amazing. It’s the largest Neo Gothic structure in the world and to this day it’s still unfinished. They led us through secret passageways, we met the peacocks in the garden, and finally we climbed pigeon-shit encrusted ladders (in high heels) to be on top of the dome. That was terrifying, and ecstatic. Heights, I tell you, they are something.

To get there, we went through Mr. Petit’s office, a little nook nestled right beneath the cathedral’s roof. They told us that he was a professional wire-walker and an artist in residence at Saint John the Divine. And I thought: nice work if you can get it. But it was hard to conceptualize what that would look like.

Indeed, I don’t think that the spectators on the ground could really see all that much on this morning 34 years ago. He was a very distant figure 100 stories up. The magic of the high wire then exists not so much in the seeing of it, but the feeling it produces in the spectator.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's International Clown Week. Who knew? Above are a few old clown prints from my One That Got Away file. All over the world, folks are donning red noses. According to clownlink, Richard Nixon was the person who signed the bill into effect, creating National Clown Week in 1971 and then the thing just took off from there. Again: who knew? (For some reason, just the name Richard Nixon always gets a laugh out of me. Maybe a conspiracy theorist could take this and run with it.)

I love the circus. Give me the sawdust, the big top, the sequins and the death-defying feats anytime. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Circus Amok, Circus Contraption, the Happy Hour Clowns. Oh, yes. I'm an enthusiastic Clown Festival theater-goer. I love French clowns, Russian clowns, and American buffoons. I'm even a fan of Canadian clowns.

No, I don't like circuses with animals. No Big Apple or Ringling Brothers for me. I think those belong to another era and are no longer appropriate. (Full disclosure: I come from a vaudeville family; a great uncle was a trick rider and snake charmer.) In general, animals don't like to perform*. And worse, no one knows how to direct them. I hate seeing animals overact, as they usually do in movies, but it is always the fault of the director who's coaching them to be cutesy. Animals are method actors, they want to live it.

I even love Marcel Marceau. That's right. I even go for mimes. I mean, has anything been more discredited? Is there anything more embarassing to admit? I don't care. I love mimes. I watched Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, just for Marcel Marceau's cameo. (He is the only person to speak in the film--hilarious!) And I love that mime bit at the end of Antonioni's 1966 film, Blow Up. You know, where there are a bunch mimes in full makeup playing mime tennis. And at the end the camera lingers on the invisible ball invisibly rolling through the grass. I mean, he's saying there's no there there. And yet it's still there, got it?

Okay, I know you'd probably rather eat your eyes than be subjected to mimes, goslings, and it's very true that there is so much bad miming these days, painfully bad, but still there's good stuff out there. I promise. Dark mime. Butohesque mime. Really.

But even I, shameless clown(and mime!)lover though I am, would find it a challenge to wear the more lurid clown prints pictured here. I mean, I'm already something of a flippertygibbet, why connect the dots for people? And the middle print in particular was a very creepy little blouse. Something macabre about that one. But perhaps it is for me to be bold and wear these anyway. What do you think? Would you wear a clown print?

Now young Akhenaten plays the accordion, which is one of my (many) fetishes, but if someone came along juggling flaming batons, riding a unicycle and wearing a red nose...well, I'd probably run off with a clown. Akhenaten knows this. He understands.

* Except otters, they love it. But they never know when to quit. Otter acts always go on way too long.

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