Monday, February 28, 2005

Mermaid Dresses Make Big Splash at the Oscars!

Huh! Well, since this is my blog, I am entitled to be the ultimate arbiter of style and taste for this year's Oscars--with no need for censorship, as I am always polite. But after sitting through tonight's show in its entirety, nibbling on chips and sipping Diet Pepsi through a straw (well, up until the last four awards, anyway, when I tapped into the inevitable keg o' wine!), I have come to the conclusion that this show was less about the awards than it was about the incredible proliferation of mermaid dresses! Dog bless, Barbie and her Solo in the Spotlight!

For all of the scary advance who-ha about new host Chris Rock and could the censors cut him off in time if his commentary went off-the-rails, he seemed to have a bit of the freshman jitters about him. He began by being appropriately irreverant, with a nice boomeranging of an early Cuba Gooding joke coming right back at himself in the end, but there seemed to be a lot of weird technical glitches happening onstage and off which startled him somewhat (and rightfully so!). At least three times I saw what I assumed were human figures scampering rapidly on and/or offstage again as the program resumed after commercials (and, no, I ain't got no Tivo!). Then there was a crane shot of what appeared to be the middle section of the balcony, but it was entirely empty--where in the world were the "seat-fillers"?? And for some weird reason, before presenting the Oscar for Best Actress, Sean Penn got himself all righteously indignant over an early joke that Rock had made about Jude Law seemingly being in almost every picture for the past several years. I mean really. Earth to Sean: Get a grip! Didn't you hear those jokes twice the first time over the past few months? This has been a common bitch over the past several months, especially after that dog of a remake of Alfie! Penn aside, I think that Mr. Rock deserves a call-back next year.

Oh, well. There were still some real highlights left in the evening. One of my favorites had Al (Dog Day Afternoon) Pacino ("Attica! Attica!") introducing Sidney Lumet, winner of the "Lifetime Achievement Award"--meaning, man, did we screw up by never giving you the Oscar when you really deserved it so many times before (12 Angry Men; Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico; The Verdict; etc...)! Lumet, a still sprightly 80 years young, and never at a loss for ideas (see his innovative A & E series of a few years ago, 100 Centre Street), has a heart whose pulse encompasses New York City...and he's not afraid to show it on his sleeve.

A big controversy emerged earlier this month when it was decided that Latin heartthrobAntonio Banderas and legendary guitarist Carlos Santana would perform one of the nominated songs for Best Song instead of its original performer and writer, Jorge Drexler.

"Al otro lado del rio" (On the Other Side of the River), from "The Motorcycle Diaries" took best original song at the Oscars Sunday night, marking the first time a Spanish song has won the award.

In a classy and unexpected move, Uruguayan singer and songwriter Jorge Drexler eschewed the traditional acceptance speech and instead sang two verses of his song.

"Thank you, gracias, ciao!" he said before leaving the stage.

The move was seen as a symbolic gesture to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which refused to let Drexler perform the song he wrote and sang for the film, opting instead for the high wattage of Antonio Banderas and Carlos Santana.

After the ceremony, Drexler told reporters in Spanish that the selection of his song was a sign of "the expansion that the Spanish language is having in the world."

He added, "above all, I think it is due to the magnificent movie that my song in a way represented."

Asked why he chose to sing instead of giving a speech, Drexler responded, "I like to sing, it's what I do, and if you want I'll sing here too," before again breaking into song.

Drexler's most recent album, "Eco," has been a hit in South America, Mexico and Spain. The album will be released in the United States this year, with additional material, including his Oscar-winning song.

And, please! Stop Josh Groban and Beyonce before they do it again!

As the Academy announced earlier this month, pop star Beyonce performed the nominated songs "Look to Your Path" from "Les Choristes," accompanied by the American Boyschoir, and "Learn to Be Lonely" from "The Phantom of the Opera." She also dueted with Josh Groban for the nominated song "Believe" from "The Polar Express."

May we expect better money management next year when it comes to hiring the featured musicians? I mean, no offense, but Josh Groban sucks bigtime and really, how many times and in how many ways can we reasonably expect Beyonce to pursue this endless audition to star in "Dreamgirls"???? (As for Lloyd-Webber, jeez, doesn't he have enough gelt salted away to just fritter himself away at this point??)

Way Big Cheers to:

Jamie Foxx. A class act with a big heart and a huge future ahead of him.
Hilary Swank. A delicate instrument with a will of steel which when honed by a passionate director can bring forth a brilliant fire.
Thelma Schoonmaker. Marty's first, best, and most true collaborator. They see in double vision!

And now, the mermaids!

Hilary Swank (with ultra-low backal dress!)
Renee Zellweger (RED!)
Beyonce (BLACK)
Helen Mirren
Annette Bening
Virginia Madsen
Scarlett Johansson
Regina King
Salma Hayek

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Gérard Depardieu, Mon Amour!

He not only nurtures the grapes in his vineyards, he also supervises the ensuing vendange, along with its requisite marketing, an immeasurable plus when it comes to his name...

Along with his partner, Carole Bouquet, I cannot possibly think of another French film star who has such a strong influence in Paris today... goutons boire si le vin est bon!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

It's DEE-AHN-NA--NOT Donatella!

To our great chagrin, the New York Post's Liz Smith reports in her February 15, 2005 column:

"It's amazing to see Harper's Bazaar is now presenting none other than Donatella Versace as the person to "match wits" with the late formidable legend Diana Vreeland by re-creating the latter's famous Why don't you? column. One does wonder what Mrs. Vreeland, who didn't tolerate fools gladly and often remarked that a little vulgarity was good for us, would make of the woman Bazaar has dubbed her successor?

"Donatella, inheritor of her slain brother's empire, offers the following: 'Why don't you remember black is not the only basic? Flesh tones are not only fresh but flattering . . . create a collection of colored diamonds? Start small, the big ones will follow . . . ditch the terry-cloth pool towels and stock your pool house with hot-pink velvet towels instead? . . . remember that Mother always knows best?'

"Hmmmm . . . I can see Bazaar nominating Donatella as the successor to possibly Mae West, another woman with scads of philosophies, but Mrs. Vreeland?"

Reflections upon Valentine's Day

I hate to admit it, but my own particular Valentine unfortunately neglected my special chocolate "jones" last night.

I ended up sitting in the smoky environs of my favorite jazz club, with its TV remote in hand, watching as much as I could of the PBS "American Experience" documentary on Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey as the band tuned up. En route to the club, I'd realized that I had mistakenly erred in the channel selection on my VCR timer and wondered how I could remedy the situation. Although I couldn't hear the audio very well, I did manage to see my friend Tom, who wrote a very well-received novel about Kinsey titled The Inner Circle last year, a couple of times in what I assumed might be his lovely California Frank Lloyd Wright house (at least it seemed like there were some narrow windows behind him!).

A friendly stranger at the bar and I had a discussion about Kinsey and his methods and then he started quoting Keats to me: "drink to me only with thine eyes..." (I might have found the Keats more meaningful if he had at least offered to buy me a glass of wine! ;-)) Our conversation continued to include such things as Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Gates project in Central Park; the Stations of the Cross paintings by Mark Rothko; and the fact that David Mamet - oh, f*ck - writes in iambic pentameter! (Of course, these were all *my* opinions!)

My beloved, in addition to composing the charts and leading the band, also makes a really fine poached salmon. The complimentary buffet, which also included a broccoli-cheese soup and chocolate mousse cake, along with assorted butter cookies and chocolate heart candies, added just the right accent for the date-night evening.

It was a slightly odd, but wonderful, Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?

Chocolate has long been associated with love. At one time, nuns were forbidden to eat it because of its sexual reputation. Casanova is believed to have thought of hot chocolate as the "elixir of love". And in the 18th century, French doctors prescribed chocolate to women patients for a broken heart.

If thou wouldst be my Valentine, I pray you, ply me with chocolates. But not just any chocolates. They must be chocolates from Vosges Haut Chocolat. Chicago's exclusive candylovers' boutique, while expensive, is still less dear than the cost of a trip to Paris to visit Dalloyau. I mean just check out these little beauties in the Exotic Truffles Collection! Such intriguing flavors we have here: Naga (sweet Indian curry + coconut + milk chocolate); Chef Pascal (Kirsch + dried Michigan cherry + dark chocolate); Budapest (sweet Hungarian paprika + dark chocolate); Wink of the Rabbit (soft caramel + Georgian pecan + milk chocolate); Black Pearl (ginger + wasabi + sesame seeds + dark chocolate); Ambrosia (macadamia nut + Cointreau + white chocolate); Woolloomooloo (Australian macadamia nut + coconut + milk chocolate); Absinthe (Chinese star anise + fennel + Pastis + dark chocolate); Viola (candied violet flowers + milk chocolate); Gianduia (crunchy praline + milk chocolate); and Poivre (Telicherry peppercorns + dark chocolate). Flights of fancy realized, in sexy bites of chocolate. Ummmm. I await your arrival...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Memo to Paris

Bon anniversaire, mon ami!


Sunday, February 06, 2005

On Love, David Cale,...and the Long Line

How often we find ourselves separated from our friends and family and yet, thanks to the "Long Line" of the telephone, we can still connect.

I had the enormous pleasure tonight of making "love" connections with two of my most favorite men. The first called from an incredibly raucous-sounding bar in Europe. While it was very difficult to hear every little thing he was saying to me, it was ever so much more important just to hear the lovely and beautiful sound of his voice. I knew, kind of by osmosis, that he was in the throes of elation, but also, exhaustion. And yet, he still made that extra effort to reach out and share his happiness with me. He is an angel.

My second call came a few hours later. My best friend, Jim, from Pittsburgh, was calling. He informed me that he had just seen our favorite performance artist, David Cale, at the Warhol. The first time I ever saw David perform was in a Bette Midler HBO cable special called "Mondo Beyondo". According to the Rotten Tomatoes site: "In this spoof of a television talk show, Midler portrays the Italian bombshell hostess, Mondo Beyondo. Her guests include monologuist David Cale; Bill Irwin, mime, comedian and clown; and the bizarre Kipper Kids." Apparently the Rotten Tomatoes' writer was unaware of Bette's relationship to Martin von Haselberg, who plays Harry Kipper of the Kipper Kids. They met in 1983, but he lost her phone number. They met again and started dating in 1984, and were married by an Elvis impersonator at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas later that year. They're still happily married.

As a lyricist for The Jazz Passengers and composer Roy Nathanson, Cale's songs have been recorded by artists including Deborah Harry and performed in concert by Elvis Costello. His songs have been featured on the soundtracks of Suzan Pitt's animated film Joy Street and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. He wrote and narrated the text for the dance “Chickens,” performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project.

The Warhol's program was called David Cale presents A Likely Story. Acclaimed as one of the leading solo performers in America, OBIE-award winner Cale has written and performed over half a dozen solo shows, has acted in ensemble pieces on and off Broadway, and has appeared in feature films including Pollock and Woody Allen’s Radio Days. In his tragically funny new show, all hell breaks loose as a married woman considers making Viagra brownies to seduce her neighbor, a wife’s poodle obsession gets out of hand, and two straight actors who loathe each other are cast as gay lovers in a TV movie.

Jim said it was a sold out house. He also said that there's something that really touches him about Cale's work. I know what he means. Somehow, no matter how many characters Cale seems to inhabit, they all share a certain special quality. Unlike Eric Bogosian, another fascinating and strong monologuist, who seems to be ready to fall off the edge of sanity at times, Cale seems to transfer the dignity and human-ness to the audience in his performances. Where Bogosian is hard and brutal, Cale is soft and quiet. But still, the calm within the eye of the storm...

Baby It's You
by David Cale (from Smooch Music)

I woke up with a strange taste in my mouth.
It was you.
While you were asleep
I used your shampoo.
It made me smell just like you.
While you were asleep
I went through your clothes.
I stole your T-shirt.
Wore it to work.
The people there were saying,

"Where did you get that T-shirt?
It really isn't you."

And I said,

"Yes it is."

But that wasn't true.
It wasn't me.
It was you.
While you were asleep
I had breakfast with my friend.
We got into an argument
and he said,

"Where did you get that attitude?"

I said it was new.
It wasn't new.
It was you.
Baby, it's you.
Baby, it's you.
If I had back-up singers they'd be going,

"Baby, it's you.
Baby, it's you."

But I don't.
Baby, it's you.
"Here I go again.
I hear those trumpets blow.
I'm all aglow.
Taking a chance on love.
Taking a chance on love.
Taking a chance on love."

- listen to David Cale's 4th radioplay written for NPR's The Next Big Thing. Starring Steve Buscemi.

And click here to listen to an MP3 file of David reading an excerpt from his performance piece, Smooch Music from the CD, The Uproar Tapes, Volume 1, Antilles Records AN7084 (1986) . From UbuWeb Sound.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Simon Says: Tie me up -- Espadrilles are back!

You know me by now. Beret-wearer and confirmed francophile. And now comes the word that Simon Doonan, yes, he of Barney's fame—has declared from on high (well, OK. maybe not exactly from on high—but in his new column in the New York Observer!) that espadrilles are back for spring! Espadrilles! One of the few shoes that I can readily wear (and, which can be shaped to one's own foot with the help of a healthy dousing or two of water!). The be-ribboned shoe that makes me feel like a ballerina. Ooooo la la!

As Simon says: "This week, a new and contentious topic caused our little debating hall to vibrate with dissension. I suspect the same topic is raging around water coolers all over Manhattan. The burning issue du jour? No, not the Iraqi elections.


"The espadrille—the great white hope of the fashion industry for 2005—is about to hit stores. Last fall it clomped, in various styles and incarnations, down the spring runways of everyone from Marc Jacobs to Liz Lange. Here’s the burning question: Are they chic and bohemian and summery? Or are they ugly and retarded and orthopedic, and already so overhyped that you simply want to puke?

"The Barneys gals were firmly divided down the middle, the pros and cons raging with equal ferocity. I found myself unable to settle the issue. For once, I was genuinely at a loss for a bombastic opinion. My experience of espadrilles is quite limited: They are one of the few women’s shoe styles which I myself have never worn.

"In desperation I called an opinionated friend, actress and style sage Kelly Lynch, and asked her to weigh in. Kelly spoke to me from the set of Showtime’s The L Word. (If you haven’t experienced her smoldering and nuanced portrayal of Ivan the drag king, I suggest you rectify the situation immediately.) She took time out from her feverish thespian lesbianism and let rip.

" 'O.K., here’s the deal,' said Kelly, who still manages to look just as super-cool and sassy as she did in Drugstore Cowboy (1989). 'Espadrilles are fab for about a week and then they get all ratty, and then they stink like Bob Guccione’s waterbed.'

"Kelly feels, and rightly so, that the treacherous allure of the espadrille comes from the fact that not everyone can pull it off: 'That’s what makes ’em so damn chic. To look really good in espadrilles, you must possess elegant feet, trim ankles and a house in the South of France.' Voila!"

Simon Doonan is a very nice guy and the author of Confessions of a Window Dresser and Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women.

You can get your fill of espadrilles for women, men, AND children at much less than Barneys prices by visiting Espadrilles Etc.