Tuesday, July 28, 2009

financial rune

tonight i consulted my rune cards to determine if making an offer on the beautiful tudor twin in east mt. airy is the right thing to do, given our financial situation. the card i pulled was ehwaz in reverse; in other words, movement reversed; in other words, don't move. hmmm. this card's counsel: be certain that what you are doing - or not doing - is timely. you have simply to recognize that not all opportunities are appropriate, that not all possibilities are open to you. the opportunity at hand may be precisely to avoid action. if you are feeling at a loss, unclear about the need to act, consider what is timely to your nature, and remember: what is yours will come to you. i really need to call katharina tomorrow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

her name is cleo and she dances on the sand

oh cleo cleo dance across the cleo grande... cleo is 19 today! happy birthday cleo!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

hypomanic moonday

my first menstrual cycle as a 30 year old has been a wild ride! instead of the usual lethargy, depression and irritability, i have experienced a marked increase of energy, a really fun inability to concentrate, a pleasant flight of ideas and associations (would you check out my sick punning?!), distinct feelings of euphoria and a general sense of exuberance. assuming that this is not the beginning of a debilitating bout of bipolar disorder, i'm quite pleased.

this evening i stayed late at work to see kirsten haglund, ms. america 2008, speak about her recovery from anorexia. she was amazing! i'm sad to say that i was carrying some sexist stereotypes about pageant contestants, but kirsten shattered them right and proper. she was a poised, eloquent and spirited spokesperson for eating disorder awareness. i loved hearing her talk about the dizzying, life-changing moments where she first experienced her own power and came to believe in her inherent worth. her mother also spoke about what it was like as a parent to come to terms with her daughter's illness. i think her presentation will help so many family members feel understood and reassured. kirsten is coming to observe my body image group tomorrow!

competing ambitions

zoe's "strange" reaction to the arrival of philadelphia brides magazine today brought out the freudian side of luca brasi. herr doktor's conclusions:

zoe's need for attention and praise is pathological
zoe's fragile ego cannot tolerate criticism
zoe cannot accept her own success
zoe undermines and devalues great things that happen to her
zoe works really hard for things and then dismisses the results of her work
zoe's very competitive self is hidden by "lack of interest"
zoe is concerned about some imaginary authority who is going to judge her

good work, dr. brasi - i'm cured! readers, i give you our spread (click on images to enlarge):

thanks, laurie! (we definitely chose the right photographer.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

the gates

danielle sent out photos from her trip to tokyo in may. among many fine shots of sumo wrestlers, geishas, warrior marches, monkeys and one of louise bourgeois' spiders, were several gorgeous pictures of the fushimi torii:

they reminded me instantly of christo and jeanne-claude's gates and sure enough, the torii inspired their project. apparently these gates are constructed at the entrance to shinto shrines, marking the transition from the profane to the sacred. one passes through the gates to be purified before entering the shrine. the fushimi torii honor inari, the god of business.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


i never thought much of keith haring, but this really endeared me to him:

" i talk about my respect for michael's attempts to take creation in his own hands and invent a non-black, non-white, non-male, non-female creature by utilizing plastic surgery and modern technology. he's totally walt-disneyed out! an interesting phenomenon at the least. a little scary, maybe, but nonetheless remarkable, and i think somehow a healthier example than rambo or ronald reagan. he's denied the finality of god's creation and taken it into his own hands, while all the time parading around in front of american pop culture. i think it would be much cooler if he would go all the way and get his ears pointed or add a tail or something, but give him time!"

he makes michael jackson sound like orlan!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ridley creek state park

i love green. it is the meeting place of melancholy and cheer.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


it's a good thing my to-do list today didn't say anything about finishing the harriet wadeson book, going grocery shopping, checking out the open house on ellet street, writing back to lauren, bryn, andrea and jordyn, planning our vacay or cleaning up my study. it's a good thing it said to read one chapter of the wadeson book, write on my blog, take a three hour nap, jump in the pool, go out to dinner with kim and then hang with lenya for a while. cause that's just what i did. and i listened to "bad" on the way to media. working my way through the jackson catalogue. i think "the way you make me feel" is my favorite song in the world. "hey pretty baby with the high heels on..."

qfest and the rest

some films i have seen recently:

herb and dorothy this was a really wonderful documentary about herb and dorothy vogel, a pair of unlikely art collectors who managed to amass one of the most esteemed collections of minimalist and conceptual art in the world. they stored everything in their tiny new york apartment before giving it to the national gallery, thus making room for more purchases. they did it purely for love of art, never even considering selling any of their pieces. the documentary shows them meeting with artists, attending openings and talking about their obsession with art collecting. definitely check this one out.

king kong just in case there are any feebleminded individuals out there, who, like myself, had been operating under the assumption that peter jackson's king kong couldn't possibly be a serious film, take this opportunity to get schooled. this film is a classic. and i mean a classic on the level of cocteau's la belle et la bete. i wish i could have watched this with katharina, although the violence probably would have bothered her. she could have told me all about how king kong was an embodiment of that which we fear in ourselves - the untamed, the sexual, the vital, the powerful. and how all the creature needed was to be loved. i feel like i'm going to cry just thinking about that last scene. definitely check this one out, preferably on a warm summer night. king kong has earned a place in our tele painting.

ghosted what is it with lame lesbian films? our first selection from this year's qfest, formerly the gay and lesbian film festival, was a bust, and i don't mean that in a good way. i thought monika treut was supposed to be some visionary pioneer of lesbian and transgendered cinema. this was just bad. bad script, bad acting, bad cinematography. definitely avoid this one.

bruno it was a strange experience going from the ritz east where we saw ghosted to the bridge, where we saw bruno. very different crowd at this one. interestingly, i didn't feel as unsafe waiting for bruno to start as i did at borat a couple years back. maybe because bruno has been so heavily advertised and sasha baron cohen's antics so well known at this point that a lot of the edginess has worn down. i have been looking forward to this film for so long now. on "da ali g show," bruno seemed an ingenious vehicle for drawing out the violent, insane underbelly of the fashion industry and celebrity machine. case in point:

then a while back the playlist saw a sneak preview of the film and posted this about it:
"'Brüno' was seriously uncontrollably funny, and with a dangerous subversive and transgressive bent that will smash the limits of UNPC-ness and will surely outrage people. We died laughing and everyone in the theater did as well. "Borat" the film doesn't have a lot of staying power, but it was riotously hilarious on the first viewing and "Brüno" looks like it will do the same only with an even more aggressive bent of social satire. One would assume that Cohen would try and one-up his wicked, near Machiavellian culture pranksterism, but one never assume he could never mount such a militaristic successful tet-offensive on his previous work."

omg, right? but then they saw the final cut and reported back that

"...Considering just how uproariously funny and excruciatingly outrageous the footage of "Brüno" that screened at SXSW was — not to mention how it went over with audiences; like a carpetbomb of positive blog buzz — it's almost shocking to discover just how tame and forgettable the laughs of the final film product are."

those guys are usually pretty reliable, too. in addition to this kind of critique, bruno has also received flak from glaad and other gay rights groups for "reinforcing negative stereotypes and "decreas[ing] the public's comfort with gay people."

so i wasn't sure what to expect. after having seen the film, i would in no way refer to it as "tame" or "forgettable." i laughed pretty much throughout, mostly just out of sheer delight for how far cohen takes his comedy - always miles beyond what you would expect. and this, i think, was the essence of his satire - locating and transgressing cultural boundaries around issues of sexuality, self-expression and "decency" that function much like those invisible fences that people use to keep their dogs within the perimeters of their property. we can't see the lines but we know exactly where they are and we know that if we cross them we will be shocked and disoriented. in truth, people walk across and outside those lines all the time, but they remain largely invisible in the dominant culture. and bruno's raison d'etre is visibility, celebrity, fame. when i think about it, aspects of cohen's work as bruno are not so dissimilar to sarah silverman's. they both inhabit personas that consume popular media without any critical filters, internalizing the judgments, the platitudes, the values and the tactics without any moral compass or center, then reflect the pieces back to us in frightening and revealing combinations. bruno does this especially well when he is critiquing hollywood, because he appears to embody the spectacle of that world, but lacks any awareness of those invisible boundaries, i.e. you can be gay but not sexual, sexualized but not naked, obsessed with appearances but not explicitly honest about how they are manufactured, etc. a classic scene shows him returning from a trip to africa in full african garb and collecting his belongings, including a tattered cardboard box containing a small child: "brangelina's got one, madonna's got one, now bruno's got one!" later he appears on a talk show where he incenses the african-american audience (though there were a few present who clearly got the joke) as he explained that he swapped his ipod for the baby, gave him the "traditional african name" o.j. and uses him as a "dick magnet." at the end of the segment, a child protective services representative takes the baby out of bruno's custody to the audience's applause. cue hilarious slow-motion montage of ridiculous scenes of bruno and the baby that we have just watched, set to a maudlin pop ballad and overlaid with bruno pleading for o.j.'s return. following this, bruno heads to a diner and "commits carbicide," in one of several great eating disorder gags (yes, pun intended). cohen also takes aim at male bonding rituals like hunting, the s&m elements of military training, martial arts and wrestling, highlighting the intensely homoerotic elements therein while exposing the absurdly acute fear of actual homosexuality. when bruno realizes that all of the biggest stars in america are straight, he undergoes conversion therapy and creates a new character called "straight dave." in the film's operatic finale, he nearly incites a riot in a wrestling arena when he starts passionately making out with his challenger. set to celine dion's "my heart will go on," the two men grope each other as hundreds of homophobic rednecks look on in horror and rage, throwing food, trash and furniture over the barbed wire fence enclosing them. part of what made this scene so effective, beyond the physical humor and fearless staging, was the way it underscored the terrifying violence that is at stake. and i think the film's general emphasis - with the exception of this scene - on people's "discomfort" with homosexuality as opposed to the truly dark, dangerous heart of american homophobia is what makes it much less subversive than borat and much less progressive for actual gay people, who were conspicuously absent from the film. glaad's concerns are clearly not unwarranted, considering that the vast majority of people who see bruno, a conglomeration of stereotypes about gay men, will probably never see another film where the central character is homosexual. but bruno is clearly not meant to be a role model, nor is sasha baron cohen. his visibility seems to function as a litmus test of sexual and cultural attitudes for anyone who sees it. kind of like the character himself who exists to elicit reactions from those he encounters, the film's relevance is likewise phenomenological.

oh, and i couldn't figure out a way of working a description of bruno's mimed blow-job into this review, but it's worth seeing for that scene alone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

the shadow of death

watching the michael jackson memorial this evening was incomparably moving. so many beautiful tributes to this gleaming man, so many invocations toward a different way of living... i found that when they spoke his name and looked at his coffin, my heart ached. when they looked toward the sky, i felt comforted. tonight is a full moon, called the "blessing moon." i kept thinking, how can i be a better person? how can i use my talents to heal the patients that i lead, to share the love that i feel, to be stronger, more compassionate, to serve in the spirit of what they call god, what i call art, spirit, passion... how can i when i'm not michael jackson, not anyone but myself - moody, socially awkward, slightly ocd... martin luther king iii spoke straight to these questions when he quoted his father: "if you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. be a bush if you can't be a tree. if you can't be a highway, just be a trail. if you can't be a sun, be a star. for it isn't by size that you win or fail. be the best of whatever you are."

today at work no one seemed interested in the memorial. at lunch we talked about a former patient who recently committed suicide. i worked with her regularly during her last treatment. i remember her drawing of a tree that she worked on and brought to session each week. every branch split in two with five dark clouds above. as the branches grew nearer to the clouds they turned downward, unable to continue growing up, toward the sun. it resembled a weeping willow to some extent, but the tree looked stunted, not naturally inclined to grow downward. she talked about feeling hopeless. couldn't figure any way that the tree would right itself and push past the clouds. anyway it was scared to - the clouds were so oppressive. such an uneasy feeling to look at that tree, such a frustrating feeling to sit with her stuckness. somewhere that picture exists in this world.

oh, lenya... why don't you come home so we can go night swimming?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

on michael jackson

margo jefferson, author of on michael jackson, appeared on democracy now! following jackson's death. i think it's time i dipped into the academic perspectives on his personae. jefferson was wonderful:

You know, he was this museum, this living museum of black performance styles, gestures, manners, with this white face makeup on and this play constantly of theatricalized, not real, in a sense, hyper-masculinity and strange infusions of femininity, both of them, you know, reading as black, as white, old Hollywood, old black Vaudeville. It’s fascinating what this body and self and voice could contain.

she was asked to comment on the allegations of child molestation made against michael:

Margo Jefferson, in your book, you make an interesting point. You talk about how Michael Jackson as a child star was in a way an object of sexual desire for adults, and it’s an interesting, ironic point where here’s this, you know, boy who becomes a star at the age of five, and then, now, many years later, he’s accused of pedophilia. I mean, how do you sort of square this together?

MARGO JEFFERSON: It’s a terrible irony, and it doesn’t really square up. He was—could be enchantingly sexual as a child. But, you know, it was all—it was all on stage. There is something predatory about all fan worship, particularly of children. There’s a Graham Greene piece about Shirley Temple and her sexuality that is amazingly telling, just the way she lifts her skirts, of course. Michael worshipped Shirley Temple. I don’t, you know, want to quite imagine how much predatory stuff must have just been going on, and goes on, in the actual world of show business. You know, as Mark says, there was a kind of withdrawal into asexuality or child, pre-adolescent sexuality. And at that time, that’s when the sexual abuse charges began to emerge. So it’s overwhelming.

Monday, July 6, 2009

those special times

samara has left us once again and sadness remains. luca is coping by drinking cognac and listening to schumann. i have returned to a structured regimen of reading and tearing out the remainder of the carpet. thinking about jumping in the pool. who could have anticipated that michael jackson's death would bring forth such an abundance of happiness at this time in our lives? i have spent the week in a jackson-inspired folie a deux with my step-daughter. we sang, we danced, we painted, we played, we listened, we dreamed, we watched, we laughed, we fell in love together. now it is quiet again. i miss her.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

i fell in love with melancholy

and by strange alchemy of brain
his pleasures always turned to pain,
his naivete to wild desire,
his wit to love, his wine to fire,
and so being young and dipt in folly
i fell in love with melancholy,
and used to throw my earthly rest
and quiet all away in jest;
i could not love except where Death
was mingling his with Beauty's breath -

~edgar allan poe

Saturday, July 4, 2009

welcome to your white house

i haven't posted much about obama since he was inaugurated, but i thought this was beautiful: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT LGBT PRIDE MONTH RECEPTION. watch the video version here. sometimes i just can't believe that this man is our president.

if corporations have hijacked cool to "transform alienation and despair into consent," obama has reclaimed its original subversive meaning.

niece and husband

sweet aly, with the sun in her eyes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

a gift from god

the michael jackson lovefest continues at the brasi residence. tonight luca wanted to download a live performance of billie jean so i could practice my dance moves and we wound up watching the entire "live in bucharest" concert on his computer. i get it now. i understand why people feel the way they feel about him. i have never seen anything like that. for two hours we sat entranced, in total disbelief of what we were seeing. first he literally popped out of the stage ("the toaster entrance") and stood motionless for 5 minutes while about half the crowd fainted and got carried off on stretchers. people continued to scream, sob and pass out as he delivered one impeccable, mind-bending performance after another. during "she's out of my life," one lucky fan got escorted onto the stage where she clung feverishly to mr. jackson, professing her love with tears streaming down her face. when the guards pulled her off, she went full-on writhing-mental-patient, desperate to stay in the arms of her god. he then sunk to the floor in tears as the 70,000+ audience went into hysterics. after that, he re-enacted scenes from his childhood, complete with empty spotlights where his brothers would have been, channeled the gentlest, most positive energy with epic stagings of "black or white," "heal the world" and "man in the mirror," and finally, at the end of the show, flew over the audience in full nasa space gear. wow, wow, wow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a tame bear

"life never remained entirely bleak for byron, however. in fall 1807, having been told that regulations would not allow him to keep his dog at cambridge, he acquired a tame bear - there being no rule forbidding bears - and housed it in the turret of his college rooms. his pleasure in the bear, which he walked through the streets of cambridge, was obvious: 'i have got a new friend, the finest in the world, a tame bear, when i brought him here, they asked me what i meant to do with him, and my reply was 'he should sit for a fellowship...' this answer delighted them not.' byron and the bear, when later reunited at newstead abbey, would occasionally swim together in a vault leading to the graves of the monks who had previously inhabited the byron ancestral home; along with other animals, the bear was kept in the family chapel, a thirteenth-century converted chapter house."

amorous hug

managed to spend the entire evening with samara, making michael jackson and prince play tag on the sims - which was way more amusing then having them date.

then we had a dance party.

here is the whole family, before launching into a synchronized number: