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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Harmony Parking Lot. Brattleboro, Vermont.

Brattleboro, Vermont.

A town where the word "freak" no longer exists.

(Cue music:  Radiohead.  Weird Fishes.)

A truly Neptunian depot.

There is a central parking lot, named "Harmony Lot," where everything, since 1968, when my parents moved there, always feels as if it's happening in a dream. 
I get out of my Boston car rental and hear random notes of music floating around me. I am jet lagged. 
As far as I can see from this block-sized parking lot, there are only coffee shops and art galleries. And suggestions of music.
And I say to my kid "Why do I keep hearing odd music?" She says "Because, there's wind chimes." I look up. Indeed, there are wind chimes. Huge ones. 
Duct taped way up in a tree in the middle of the parking lot someone has duct-taped a set of enormous low-toned wind chimes. Of course. 
Then an apparent hippie with a black turban wrapped around his head bikes by, shirtless on a rusty bike with great abs. 
He is carrying a power drill. No, he's not a hippie. He's Sikh. 
This is Brattleboro. 
I walk to the corner of the parking lot (I haven't gone 20 feet yet.) and step over the granite curb and look up to see a young man holding a ciggarette with a wobbly gait lurch toward me, but in a friendly sort-of way. In his left hand a cigarette, in his right a tiny tortoiseshell cat with a big dog leash wrapped around it's neck twice binding it to the man's left arm. 
I say "You have a kitten. On a leash." 
He corrects me. "No it's not a kitten. It's a service Tea Cup cat. It warns me about my seizures. I get them." 
"Oh," I say. Because, what else do you say? 
I look down. 
He has a 10 inch knife strapped to his belt in a leather sheath. 
"Oh." I say, again. Because what else does one say? 
"Yes," he cheerfully went on, "It's a tea cup service cat and this is as big as it gets."
He waves a tiny, bored, miserable kitten-sized cat at me in a circular motion, as if to demonstrate the cat will be his no matter "what," "what" meaning being tossed about wildly for no good reason.
The Service, blind, Tea Cup cat is strapped to his arm by leash clearly intended for a different breed of mammal. 
The cat bobs at the end of his arm like an elderly person strapped into a ride perpetually turned full blast at the Orange County Fair. 
I notice the service "cat" is winking blandly at me. A lot. 
He continues. 
"Yes, you see most tea cup cats are born no bigger than a matchbox, but this one is as big as it will ever get. Because they are so small very few survive. This one survived but is blind in one eye." 
We stare at the tiny cat. One eye indeed, quite welded shut.
"it'll have lung cancer, too." I think, but keep it to myself. 
Juliet is staring at this exchange with wordless wonder. 
I go on. "Well, thank you very much for sharing this with me. I never had any idea this... kind of thing...exists." 
He cheerfully bid me farewell, sucked on his cigarette and lurched on. 
"Another person enlighted," I could hear him think. 
We went on our way, too. As if this kind of exchange happens every day. As if in a dream. 
Harmony parking lot.

Eternally Neptunian.

I can't not stay.  My blood is here.   It is parked here.  In Harmony Lot.

Changed, yet unchanged.

The same, yet different.

But the forever the same.

Time is relative.

Monday, July 6, 2015

"The End Of The Tour," If you see nothing else all summer, see this one.

Just saw a screening of The End Of The Tour, a bio pic about writer, author/journalist David Lipsky, interviewing uber literary star, David Foster Wallace, during his 5 day book tour.  
The film stars Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg and is superbly written by playwright, Donald Margulies.  Not to mention it's also expertly directed by James Ponsoldt, who gets out of the way to allow the story to unfold as it does. This is the kind of film that transcends all the trappings of similar bio pics, or road-trip movies, to become something seamlessly much larger one ever suspects it will be.

I'm pretty sure Jason Segal will earn an Oscar nomination, even possibly one for both leading men. Not to mention one for best screenplay. End Of The Tour, is at it's heart, a gift to watch. It will stay with you, hopefully for a long, long time. You don't need to be a well-read pop-culture freak or literary aficionado to be touched by this film. You just need to care about keeping your heart open and not being seduced by the trappings of success. 

It's released 7/31/15. I am taking both my daughters to see it right away. I want them to each experience the message of End Of The Tour down in their bones and never forget why being a good person isn't about anything so mundane as avoiding being selfish or working hard to succeed: Being a decent person is simply what one does because not to is a life wasted. It's not a complicated message, but sometimes our society makes it so.
If you see nothing else this summer, make a point to see this one.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Down the rabbit hole via really strange Vines with Gary Baseman and "The Door Is Always Open."

I just found this collection of vines from a few years ago.   They were shot by Gary Baseman while he and Holly Andres were collaborating privately set up shot after shot in his parents, tomb-like, apartment off La Brea and 6th street on what was no doubt the hottest day of that summer.

The vines are so bizarre to look at today, first of all they're only a few years old but my girls have changed so much since they were shot.  And I remember the drama of trying to get young kids who have never once heard of Gary Baseman to want to wear smelly musty costumes in a closed up dusty apartment on a hot summer day.

The were working in his parents former apartment which had been shut up like a tomb since they died.  It was a dark, stuffy, dirty, messy ground floor apartment filled with odd costumes and dolls and, truthfully, nobody knew what was really going on, except Holly and Gary.  Which always meant everyone was sitting there wondering what one odd scene could possibly  have to do with the next.

Here's how Gary (self-described "Pervasive artist.) posted these vines on his feed:  "WildGirls is going to be a dark yet beautiful journey. I am collaborating with Holly Anders in my parents home."

The best thing about the day's collaboration was working with the super gifted, talented photographer, Holly Andres she was as lovely and warm as she is talented and visionary.  No matter how dusty and sweltering the day was, or how monosyllabic Gary Baseman is,  the shoot was a delight just to have the girls work with Holly.  Special thanks to photographer Carolyn Hampton for thinking of suggesting the girls when her beloved Natalie could not be there due to summer camp.  :)


 Cat fight one with Holly Andres

 Pre Wild Girl Fight with Holly Andres

 I love my WildGirls! With Holly Andres

Wild Girls photoshoot with Holly Andres

 My WildGirls in the hands of Holly Andres

It was really hot, sticky, dusty, stuffy, musty.  The big artist only really talked to the other big artist.  the girls got inconsistent, peculiar directives from the big artist. The other big one was kinder, more encouraging and nurturing.   The costumes smelled really bad  The antlers poked sharply into your head and almost always tottered off which angered the big artist...but everyone hung in there and did stellar acting and work for the entire suffocatingly hot day even well into the night.  Because they all believed in creativity and were excited to contribute to something which might become truly inspiring to others later even if it didn't all make sense at the time.  They were patient and hardworking.  I stood on the side and watch hoping the fun didn't slide into creepy and that didn't become too pervy.  Once or twice it did.  And I'd try to change the energy from heading down the pervy path too overly on camera with my kids.  Because I'm aware that once somethings out there, it takes on a life of it's own and if it has my kids in it, I wanted to be fully supportive but able to warmly re-direct thing if I felt it was getting too uncomfortable for minors who were not even getting paid, billing, or even a free lunch.  The pouring of the milk along with absurdly short hemlines were as far as anything went down any path and the end result is pretty engrossing.

All that having been said:  We are all so proud of having been part of the final portrait shot which was done of by the uber talented Holly Andres for Baseman's show "The Door Is Always Open."  It's stunning.

Worth all the day's twists and turns to make the final edits and to have been part of any creative process with Holly Andres was worth it.  And the girls were proud to have a part of it all. too.
Kuddos to Los Angeles Photographer Carolyn Hampton for calling us in to stand in for her own lovely daughter, "The Red Head" who was away at camp for this shoot.  The Red Head would have been fabulous in this, no doubt, too.

Juliet Larsen kicking up her (rainbow) heels in celebration of today's Supreme Court ruling: Equality For All!

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