Archive for February, 2010
‘Imelda Marcos, wife of late Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is mainly remembered for the 3,000-odd pairs of expensive shoes the angry mob found in her palace after she fled the country in 1986. But in Here Lies Love, a musical dramatisation of her life that David Byrne and Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook have been working on since 2004, the footwear isn’t mentioned. “The story I was interested in,” states Byrne, “was more universal, revealing and profound than that of the shoes.”‘. . .Ruff Manila in MOJO.
The David Byrne-Fatboy Slim Imelda Marcos disco musical Here Lies Love will be released on 6 April 2010 on Todomundo/Nonesuch Records.
“The story I am interested in is about asking what drives a powerful person—what makes them tick? How do they make and then remake themselves? I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if—as this piece would be principally composed of clubby dance music—one could experience it in a club setting? Could one bring a ‘story’ and a kind of theater to the disco? Was that possible? If so, wouldn’t that be amazing!” —DB, from the introduction
No mention at all of how hot it’s been and how much hotter it’s going to get now that summer is upon us.
Koosi considers herself the household goddess. Here she is surveying her territory. If she notices you’ve been staring at her too long, she will come over and slap you in the face. I don’t mean scratch, I mean slap. No claws.
In high school I listened to the radio constantly. I was more interested in pop music than I was in my lessons. In the 80s there were a couple of jazz stations and the classical music station was on all day, but the station I was glued to was the old 99.5RT. Its DJs sounded good, did not affect those fake American accents that now turn FM radio-listening into sonic torture (like attacking the eardrums with a dull cheese grater), and somehow resisted the urge to talk about themselves.
I stopped listening to the radio around 1997. That was the year I got an Internet connection; the two events may be related. Also I didn’t like the music and I especially didn’t enjoy being screeched at by fake American accents.
Every time I take a taxi I ask the driver to turn down the radio. This way I can tune out the unfunny jokes, puns, double-entendres and recycled pop strangled in the singer’s larynx (“Seees alwaaaysss a wooomannn to meeee”). If I need more sonic privacy I listen to my iPod. Lately I’ve been downloading a lot of podcasts: A History of the World in 100 Objects, readings of stories by Chekhov, philosophy lectures (One of my favorite things about the net is that I can get an MIT education for free), and the New Yorker fiction podcasts. I listen to them when I’m dining solo in restaurants, walking around the mall, doing laundry, doing groceries, or grooming the cats—activities that can be done on auto-pilot, because one must pay attention. (Don’t listen while crossing the street. I mean it.) Hearing the words right in your ears makes a favorite story sound more intimate even if you’ve read it dozens of times.
The New Yorker fiction podcasts feature well-known writers reading stories they chose from the magazine’s archive, then discussing them with the fiction editor. Three of my all-time favorite stories are in the selection: T. Coraghessan Boyle reads A Bullet In The Brain by Tobias Wolff, Thomas McGuane reads Last Night by James Salter, and Hilton Als covers Children Are Bored On Sunday by Jean Stafford (I have to thank Mrs. Helen Ladera at Pisay for putting Stafford on the reading list).
Today I listened to stories by Mavis Gallant, Harold Brodkey, Isaac Babel, and John Cheever read by Antonya Nelson, Jeffrey Eugenides, George Saunders, and Richard Ford respectively. The Cheever is a short, devastating piece called Reunion that I read more than 20 years ago when the fat red book came out; I remember wincing as I read it, and today I was wincing so hard the waiter must’ve thought I had indigestion.
Remember, take off the earbuds when crossing the street. Or using the ATM, you might forget your money. (This happened to me last month because I was distracted. By the time I remembered the cash the dispenser had shut, and it took 15 working days to get my money back.)
Lunch with Rene always includes a show and tell session with his latest discoveries. These are vintage Abel Iloko blankets produced by weavers in Ilocos Norte.
It’s dangerous to be around these things. I’m not even into fabrics but every time I see the stuff I end up getting more; I feel like I’m selling Manhattan. So now I have some fabulous table runners and I don’t even eat dinner at home.
From the Boston Globe: The sweet smell of morality.
Can a clean smell make you a better person?
That’s the provocative suggestion of a recent study in the journal Psychological Science. A team of researchers found that when people were in a room recently spritzed with a citrus-scented cleanser, they behaved more fairly when playing a classic trust game. In another experiment, the smell of cleanser made subjects more likely to volunteer for a charity.
The findings suggest that simply smelling something clean makes people clean up their behavior—that a smell can provoke a mental leap between cleanliness and morality, making people think differently about the world around them. The authors even suggested that clean smells could be employed as a tool to influence how people act.
The idea that a smell can affect something as complex as ethical behavior seems surprising, not least because smell has long been seen as a “lower” sense, playing on our emotions and instincts while our reason and judgment operate on another plane. But research increasingly shows that smell doesn’t just affect how we feel: It affects how we think, in ways that are just beginning to be understood…
Does it follow that a stench can cause you to do foul, wicked things? That would explain so much.
The easy description of British filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank would be “Insiang meets Flashdance” or “downmarket version of An Education”. Neither label summons up the pure, unarticulated rage of its protagonist Mia (Katie Jarvis in an electric performance), a 15-year-old who lives with her slovenly young mother and her foul-mouthed kid sister. She is Anger in a Hoodie: she hates her mother, her life, everybody; she drinks, gets into fights, steals, does stupid things. Filmmaker Arnold pulls us into Mia’s world of rundown tenements with boarded-up windows, trailer parks, vacant lots along the highway, young girls copying the dancers on music videos like whores in training. “At risk” doesn’t begin to describe this teenager.
The only good thing in her life is hip-hop dancing, which she practises ferociously, alone. One day her mother brings home a new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender of Hunger); his arrival hits the household like a testosterone bomb.
He’s sexy, charming, and actually seems nice; he draws Mia out of herself and encourages her dancing. She responds to him both as a fatherless child and as a hormonal teenager. It gets messy.
Fish Tank is too honest and tough-minded to offer a facile resolution. Our heroine—because even when we want to slap her, we can’t help rooting for her—does not get rescued from her squalid life. No, if anyone is going to rescue the girl, it’ll have to be the girl herself, but first she has to go to the brink. She has to realize the worst that can happen, and choose not to let it happen. What she finds is the closest thing to a happy ending this fierce little movie can offer: self-knowledge.