made of classes at the academy, country club summers, saddle shoes, shaved legs, nicks that bleed made of elite institutions, air-conditioned museums, art books, getting off (i’m sorry officer, i didn’t know i was speeding thank you, i won’t do it again) made of straight air, no freshener straight hair, or straightened, and cotton sheets made of fly there, drive’s too far thank you notes, magazines, fashion, diets, accessories made of never the checkout girl never the waitress, never the maid made of fine china, registry, engraved invitations botox, waxes, twins in the bugaboo made of cashmere, caffeine drinks, james taylor, l.l.bean made of gated villas, all inclusive pan asian takeout, never chinese
we need someone to be honest with us we need to learn how to be honest with ourselves we need to know that life has a purpose, that it’s well worth living we need to know we have value (love and support, love and support) we need to recognize beauty and to crave it to cry to feel sexy to laugh to have sex to touch to hold to be held to feel smart and think big thoughts to receive a lightning bolt to the heart and to really turn the lights on in there or ask someone else to flip the switch for us or at least show us where the hell it is …
“When I expect myself to be superhuman, I become anxious and depressed; when I expect you to be, I become hostile; when I expect the world to be superperfect, I become self-pitying and rebelliously inert. If I am truly human, and expect nothing but humanness from others, I shall practically never upset myself about anything.”
What is the worst kind of divorce? I used to think they were all bad. But now I know a few divorced people (as opposed to children of divorced people) and I see that divorce is not bad. People wouldn’t get divorced if it were a bad choice. It looks like a very good choice, even a fantastic thing, for the married people who choose it. It’s really an act of deep acceptance. This marriage isn’t working. Let’s get divorced.
“Madonna once would come in dreams to cheer My slumbers with angelical delight; But now she brings foreboding in the night, Nor can I drive away my grief and fear. And in her phantom-face I see appear Her own hurt mixed with pity for my plight, And I hear words that cry above my fright That the final term of joy and hope is near. “Does our last evening not return to you?” She says, “Your eyes were wet and shining when For the lateness of the hour I had to flee. I could not, nor I would not, tell you then, But now I tell you, it is proved and true; Never again on Earth you’ll look on me.”
It’s more than just the Japanese version of suicide, because it’s got the redemption of honor wrapped up in it. In Western culture, suicide is a kind of surrender, or giving up. To some it’s even a crime, bars you entrance to heaven. My impression of hara-kiri is that you are redeeming yourself by removing yourself from other people’s lives, getting rid of the “problem” (you). Also, in the West, suicide is certainly a ritual but not nearly as codified as hara-kiri, which is a kind of sword dance.
I was introduced to the concept of hara-kiri when I watched a biopic of Yukio Mishima (late eighties—would never get made here now). Mishima was a Japanese novelist who made a significant impression on American intellectual life. Again, hard to imagine today.
Mishima committed hara-kiri, or performed it. What is the verb for that action? An action verb I guess.
Madonna never came to me in a dream. But Joni Mitchell did, and in the dream, Joni encouraged me to stay on my path. That dream was about a hundred years ago and I suppose I am still on my path. I mean, whose path could I possibly be on but my own? That seems obvious, but when Joni said “stay on your path” I thought that meant get onto her path, and follow it straight to genius, greatness, fame. Follow the path that takes you to Madonna, that makes you Madonna. That path.
Years later, after dragging my guitar around the East Village for a while, I picked up a book about the best “female singer/songwriters” (this was circa 2000) and I was surprised to see Madonna featured alongside artists like Joni Mitchell and Carole King. I‘m a proud Madonna fan when it’s appropriate, but I never thought of her as a singer/songwriter. It just didn’t seem to be the right label for her. The book immediately convinced me that I was wrong, mostly because I have a hard time holding onto my opinions. Madonna’s songs may depend on synth sounds, samples, and mechanical drum beats, but they are still songs, so she is technically a songwriter, and she is also very much a singer. So she qualifies for the book, which is no doubt out of print, because who really wants to read a book about Sarah Mclachlan, etc? We still hear the songs on the radio, occasionally, so enough already.
"Tart rose hips and citrusy lemongrass woo the voluptuous blooms of hibiscus flowers. An infusion that’s bursting with life and tinged with the color of true love to make sure you never have to live a day without passion."
Say your repeat the same thing over and over again to yourself like a character in a play by Samuel Beckett. Then you wake up one day and you are in that play. Everything lumpen and gray. Over-coated. Circular.
No one in the cast has ever heard of a rainbow or a unicorn. In fact, the audience looks down on rainbows and unicorns.
Do you play your part? Cry backstage? Go on strike? Say your lines even though they don’t make sense?
Not everyone likes you. You can try to be as charming and gracious as possible, some folks still won’t like you. You can try to be funny, they won’t laugh, because they don’t think you are funny. You try to helpful, they think you are being condescending. You can avoid them, but when you see them, as you inevitably will, you will be reminded. Not everyone likes you.
You have a talent for overthinking things. You’re so hard on yourself, there are little welts on your heart from self-inflicted pinches. Pinch pinch pinch, all day long. You feel badly about everything you do or say. Everything is agony. You shall be a stay-at-home mom. Home is the only safe place for you. (Don’t screw up your children.)
“Sometimes, in Chichester, I had taken care of children in the evenings at a lonely house almost at the Point. An old, one-eyed Airedale kept me company, snoozing on the sofa. Abruptly he would waken and lift his head, pointing his nose toward the door, and then, assured that there was nothing outside after all, he would look at me with his one intelligent eye. This look, so companionable and preternaturally wise, frightened me more than his attention to the door, beyond which he had sensed the lurking of some unknown thing: I was afraid the dog would speak. This droll idea, of brief duration, was but the envelope for another fear: the fear of my own mind which had conceived so awful a possibility. Like the motorist through dense fog at night who has proof of only himself, his automobile, and the road, and must accept accept a priori the fact that the rest of the world has not been dematerialized, I could not demonstrate the external authorship of myself and the dog nor our independence of one another. What proof had I that the dog was not the creation of my own mind and being such might, if I willed it, speak to me; conversely, what proof was there that I was not the dog’s idea, evolved in those mysterious, perhaps Olympian, brains behind the obtuse snout? What broke my ghastly reverie was the registration of sound on my mind, the doorstep of some late walker, or the rustle of a bed above as one of the children turned in his sleep. I argued that since my mind had been altogether on the dog, it could not have produced a noise in the distance. My hearing re-established my spatial relation to the outer world’s complexities and immediately thereafter my judgments were restored.”
I used to listen to a cassette tape of Patti Smith’s Horses. When I walked around with it on my Walkman, the vibe of the music made me feel badass and special. For about two weeks. Then Patti and I ran out of steam. But I kept the tape around, if only to reinforce my position as a woman with hairy armpits. I shaved them, eventually. Had to. For a wedding. (Bridesmaid.)
What I didn’t get then, but I do get now, is that Patti Smith was actually a pop icon who belonged to an economy more than a philosophy. I was digging around in her music looking for some kind of truth to hang on to, while she was busy selling the surface of the thing. But her pull was wrapped up, ironically, in a longing for counter-culture.
I was up against the “barrage” of our media-saturated culture. (You’re soaking in it.) The “barrage” reminds me constantly what I don’t look like, who doesn’t love me, what I don’t have, what I can’t belong to. It keeps a person like me in his or her place. Buying things.
I read –I don’t know remember where—a nonfiction piece about Patti Smith’s personal life (no secret.) Someone—I don’t remember who—was sharing their memories of the sixties. And they were recalling how Patti Smith used to live in the Chelsea Hotel (icon alert) before she was famous. She was really skinny. She took up with Sam Shepard (icon alert), who was already famous. I don’t know where they met, maybe in the lobby of the hotel.
Sam Shepard gave Patti Smith a fake name, and she gave him a fake one, too, and they didn’t know each other’s true identity, and they had an affair. So they would meet and tryst, he was probably married at the time, and then one night he saw her on the street after not seeing her for a while. She was deathly pale and skeletal, so he said “let me buy you a steak.” He took her to Max’s Kansas City (where else?) and bought her dinner, and all her friends saw her there and they were like: “When did you hook up with Sam Shepard?” And she was like, “What? That’s not Sam Shepard! That’s _______. ” (Fake name.) She claimed she only knew him as his mysterious, anonymous identity.
I have it from a reliable source that Sam Shepard was a notorious, addictive womanizer who made it a habit to sleep with undergrads in the eighties at the University of Virginia, when he lived in Charlottesville. So he has been sleeping with young ladies for decades. Patti Smith was only one in a long line.
But what about the blonde bartender at the corner bar near UVA? Where’s her memoir?
For example, say Kate Moss starves herself. Maybe she has to, in order to stay skinny. Say all she eats every day is a big green salad for lunch. (Of course this isn’t true. It’s common knowledge that she is a natural rail. And she can eat whatever she wants.)
But let’s just say . . hypothetically … that she has to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee until she feels absolutely sick just to get through the day without eating. Maybe even other drugs are involved.
And let’s pretend that this lifestyle of food deprivation is exhausting.
Add to this the fact that the actual job of modeling is quite dull. Standing around, putting on clothes, taking them off. Makeup is slapped on your face. Backbiting people move you around, and stare at you, and much of it is deadening and eventually … you can’t help it … modeling kills a part of your soul. But all the world wants you. Or is jealous of you.
How that would feel.
But hey, she is Kate Moss. She is beautiful and famous and rich. Who are you?
And Kate Moss getting older now of course but who can stop that. No one. There’s a lot we can’t control.
For example, let’s say it’s true what I heard about China, specifically Hong Kong. That all their sewage gets pumped out into the ocean and it hovers a few miles off shore in this big sludgy mass, miles in diameter. And the Chinese public health guardians dump antibiotics onto this big sludgy sewage mass, because the fish get infected when they swim through it. So the antibiotics keep the fish from dying. And also the Chinese guardians sprinkle fish food onto this big sludgy mass. So here come the fish. Give them some medicine, some food, off they go.