Saturday, February 28, 2009

An Obsession

Lately I've been obsessed with this book. As a New Yorker who watched the Twin Towers burn and collapse from the Brooklyn Promenade, I am sensitive and critical about the use of it in fiction. To my ear, many attempts fall flat, including my own. I was one of the writers commissioned by Brave New World to write a short piece for the first anniversary of 9/11. It premiered with many others at Town Hall in 2002. I sat in the audience, driven insane by anxiety, surrounded by hundreds of people, as the curtain rose. I was so sure I had gotten the right amount of anguish, of humor. But I didn't. The plays that were the most successful dealt tangentally with the tragedy. Those that dealt directly sounded melodramatic. There just wasn't enough distance.

Cut to six years later and Ms. Messud's story of five New Yorkers rings true and poignant, funny and profound. The narrative swirls around a well known journalist and his coterie of daughter, wife, friend and nephew. The time is late spring, early summer 2001. The characters are drawn sharply, incisively. This is Sex and the City, but with a vengeance. I know these people or variations of them. They are confident, ridiculous, and insecure. They are ambitious, brilliant conversationalists, and well educated. The town is its usual chaotic, gorgeous hot stinking mess. The characters are almost adolescent in their desire for renown, to have fun, to make their mark on the world, have great sex.

I've read this book five times in the last year (it was published in 2007), and I've finally figured out why---in the specificity of the characters' transformation after 9/11, Messud brilliantly illuminates the universal. Before and after: irreducible, trite, cliched, yet nonetheless, powerful. It's hard to put into words. It's very easy to map the singularity of my own neurosis from the days that immediately followed; the nightmares--- I dreamt that people were standing outside my bedroom window, discussing how they were going to poison the water supply. Or, simply, a plane crashing into my building. I wasn't the only person dreaming these dreams.

What wasn't so easy to catalogue or articulate was the inchoate sense that nothing would ever be the same again. That we, as individuals, would never be the same again. That New York City would never be the same again. And every time a film or a book would attempt to parse this, put it into words, it fell flat, sounded forced. Until I read The Emperor's Children. I know that people in other cities, other towns, other states were horrified and saddened. But this was outside my bedroom window. This was my backyard. Messud translates this and its mysterious repercussions into a story that is neither exploitative or mawkish, just very, very true and very, very wise.

Angelina Reviews the Movies

She's the go-to girl for all things cinematic. She is also my niece. And a very good writer. She joins her father, Mark Leon, my brother, in the blogosphere Soon, we shall rule over the digital world with our incisive writing, our perceptive analysis and our good looks.

Watch out!

Signed LA Slugocki

Friday, February 27, 2009

Woman Jumps Out of Burning Building

I love the profile I wrote about a photographic celebration of women at The Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Musuem of Art. This exhibit was curated by Donna Henes and Daile Kaplan, from their own collection. The presentation began with a speech by Ms. Sackler. It was a fantastic historical tour de force of not only the women but the art of photography as well.
In particular, I find this image very provocative. Its undated, and unattributed, but Ms. Kaplan, VP of Swann Galleries estimates the 1940's. She is forever suspended in the sky above black smoke, a look of sheer terror on her face. Why is she alone? My agent and friend, Deirdre Mullane, speculated, about the story beneath the story:
She's blonde, single, childless, she's jumping for her life alright, but will she be saved?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oh Bernie What Have You Done?

Oh Bernie. Bernie, Bernie. I'm sorry but he's a likable guy. I've been reading lots of profiles including one today in New York Magazine, and he's our very own version of P. T. Barnum. Smoke and mirrors. Dancing Girls. Grand gestures. He sold and we bought. He's the emblematic patron saint of all the base and greedy instincts in all of us. I have a designer bag on a credit card that now has a 25% APR. He's the macrocosm and I'm the microcosm. As above, so below.
Honestly, it's funny.
I support the President. I helped elect him into office. And the moment I heard the words bail out --- I knew it was fait accompli. Even though instinct told me that we were letting white collar criminals run the show and get away with murder. Part of me, would like to see the whole thing crash. From a strictly theoretical point of view, it would be interesting, no, fascinating, to watch how the "free market" would recreate itself. I bet even Allen Greenspan would learn a few things.
I fear that we have merely put an old financial model on life support. The other analogy that comes to mind is a kind of economic cannibalism--- taxpayers support failing businesses and banks so that taxpayers can reap the benefits (employment, annuities, real estate 401K's, etc.) of said institutions. Am I the only person in the room who thinks this is crazy? CEO's, CFO's and their ilk fucked up and fucked us. Bernie is just the show dog in a performance of major hitters. Bernie will probably go to jail, but there are many who won't.
Instead we are giving them money.
This is why I like Bernie. This is why, when I am feeling cynical and tough, I laugh with him and at him.
Illustration by Darrow for New York Magazine

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flying Hair

photo: Marc Travanti

Look. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a beautiful woman.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stories I'd Never Tell You

A friend of mine, CC, a woman, who wrote the original screenplay for Debbie Does Dallas--- agreed to let me interview her for a story. I thought it would make a great one. At the time, she was a young, Black, professional single mother, working at an ivy league university. A woman who hung with Nikki Giovanni, and other luminaries of the Black Arts Movement.

She was a nascent feminist who had gone to some of the meetings and marched in some of the marches. She had promised herself that one day she would tell her story. She would write about what it was like to have participated in the cultural pornographic zeitgeist of one of the highest grossing films ever. But thus far, 31 years later, she hasn't.

So I interviewed her and framed the narrative around the larger cultural issues of the day. One of the most significant is the democratization of pornography. Before the 1970's, porno existed in the shadows as stag films, and "French postcards." But movies like Deep Throat, DDD, Behind the Green Door, created porn for public consumption for the first time. Nothing has ever been the same. In addition, the 70's saw the first wave of feminism. Ironic, huh? Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and bra burning paved the way for ---- well, I think we're still arguing that. But yes improvements have been made.

Within that cultural historical framework, in 1978, CC not only wrote the screenplay but also served as AD on the set which included City Island and Pratt University. The shoot took place on the five day 4th of July weekend. I wrote this up and submitted it to I thought it would be a perfect home for the story. Initially, the editor said, we like it, but--- could you reframe it, our readers already know the political and cultural backstory. Still though I was elated. It's a great online publication, sophisticated, sexy and literate. I lusted after publication.

CC didn't share my feelings. She has never really revealed her "secret." She knew I was liberal, after all an image of my bare ass is in the permanent collection of MOMA. She knew that I've written extensively and frankly about my own sexuality. I am unabashed when it comes to this. But for her--- 31 years later, she still carries a great deal of shame about her participation in DDD. The depth of this shame came crashing in on her. She changed her mind and pulled her rights. Told me that I couldn't publish a story I'd been working on for almost a year. It was a sticky situation.

On the one hand, I feel that women have far too many "secrets" regarding their sexual history and I include myself in that category. I think its time that we step out of the shadows and start telling these stories. The shame is acculturated. It's not real. It's an illusion. But we won't change this by keeping our mouths shut. On the other hand, the fear in her eyes was real. And morally I couldn't ignore that. It's a great disappointment to me. It would've been a great story. I had to tell a very prominent editor, sorry, I can't do this. I watched a pay check float away.

We had a face to face today. It was not pleasant. It's tough to go up against another woman. I felt partly that I was betraying the "sisterhood." She was brutally honest about her feelings. And I was brutally honest. I hope our friendship is able to endure despite this. As far as the story goes, I envision a book called Stories I'd Never Tell You. And it would be a collection of women finally letting go of their secrets. I doubt that CC would participate, but surely other women would.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm part of a naked community of female bodies (and I like it)

I've become a connoisseur of buttocks at the gym. Some are round and juicy. Naked and dripping wet from the showers, they really do resemble fruit. They look like apples, prunes, raisins, and even grapes. Women's naked bodies look very different stripped of the sexual content, the male gaze. At first I was afraid to strip down, hating on my body, which so many women are taught to do. I didn't mind exposing my breasts, but not the whole package. No, no, no. So I always wrapped a towel around my waist. But now I don't give a shit who sees me. We are all women. We all have breasts, hips, hair. I'm part of a naked community of female bodies, and I like it.
Naked children run around, pregnant women, athletic women, thin, tall, short, round. Some stand on the scale, some are blow drying their hair, some have just come from the pool with a faint reek of chlorine. I stood naked and chatted with a woman, equally naked, who writes educational policy. She's a swimmer, long and lean. I sat across from a woman in the sauna doing strange breathing exercises. Her torso was convulsing. It looked painful, but she was blissful. I sat next to another woman and puzzled over the perfect spherical shape of her breasts. Then I realized--- the perfection was man-made.
Without the male gaze, our bodies are the instruments of our lives. This may be true of men as well, but I can only speak from my experience. Growing up my body was an object and I learned to treat it like one. In the past ten years, however, I've been working very hard to establish a different relationship: to fine tune the mind-body connection to a different signal.
Note: Unless otherwise stated--- images are public domain copyright

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sheena Goes Ape Over New Love Interest

In the category of monkey love, the story that has rocketed to the front page of every newspaper in creation, I come down solidly on the side of the monkey. Why? Sandy Herold, the owner, knew that her "boo", Travis, had gotten too big for her. She knew it was time, high time, to turn him over to an animal sanctuary. Never mind that she enjoyed taking a bath with him, sleeping with him and enjoying filet mignon with him. He wasn't a human being. He was always an animal with an animal nature.

This love story does not have a happy ending. Travis, the monkey, ripped off Charla Nash's face. Literally. He probably felt threatened. Annoyed. Whatever. He was an animal for God's sake, so maybe he wasn't thinking anything at all. Which is fine. He was never going to ascend the corporate ranks, write a book, fix a tire, or get drunk with the boys. If he dreamt at all, he dreamt about bananas, tall trees, and the call of the wild. When he proceeded to rip off Ms. Nash's face, he was just doing what wild animals do--- reacting instinctively, quickly, with no thought to the consequences.

Now he's dead and Ms. Nash has to have a face transplant. I sympathize with Ms. Herold and the losses she has suffered. But to transform an animal into a lover/husband/friend is sheer folly. I hope she gets a reality show or a deal with Life Time TV for women because she's going to need it. It's a love triangle that only Isaac Asimov could've dreamed up. Imagine the headlines, Sheena Goes Ape over New Love Interest, or Don't Leave Me Hanging or Slipped on a Banana Peel and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is my studio

This is my office, my studio. This is where I'm spending more and more time--- which is a really good thing. I started off with this blog, then moved to the Brooklyn Heights Blog where I've written about a celebrity cat, a pregnant woman who fell on the ice, the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, a concert/installation at Smack Mellon and a film premiere at Galapagos, also in DUMBO. Now I'm writing for the and working on a piece for I'm in negotiations to write for women's romance blog out of Los Angeles.

Because I sit here for seven or eight hours a day, I thought I would write about this beloved space of mine. My studio. I've been working here since the Spring of 2002. I love the rustic feel of the exposed brick. The light is reflected in a small mirror with gold tassels, tucked into that is a post card from Dirty Girls with my infamous short story, Truck Stop Cinderella. The books to the right are current faves, most of which are listed below--- under the caption: I'm a crack whore when it comes to books. They tend to be books I've just read, about to read, or read before and going to read again.

I love Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays. First, the title. I mean c'om. Ever read anything better? It just says it all. It's the most minimalistic, emotionally wrenching, cryptic, gorgeous story. I read it over and over again. Technically its genius. I also have the Bhagavad Gita. Its like a bible to me, as is Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment. The files on my desk contain all the notes for my thesis which I couldn't bear to throw away, and now I'm glad I didn't. All that work on the female narrative and here it is--- in operation on this blog. Yes!

The thick black books on my desk are the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. But I had to stop reading them because they were giving me nightmares. Srsly. Like I dreamt a vampire was out on my street, calling up to me in my third floor bedroom window. So I'm sure you can understand why it became impossible for me to continue. The wooden jewelry box on the bookshelf--- I found on the street at St. Mark's Place. It's Ukrainian, its from my people. I never kept jewelry in it; just my floppies. I've had it for 14 years.

And that is the story of my studio.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pregant Woman+In Labor=Good Luck

On Sunday I went to the corner store for my 10th (kidding) Red Bull of the day. It was two in the afternoon. I was feeling good, been to gym, worked out for an hour, took a sauna. The sun was shining. When I walked in, I saw a woman bent over the counter, her legs spread far apart. I thought, my God, is this woman in labor? Is she having a contraction? And yes, she was. I've never seen this before and it was kind of a magical moment.

My mother had five other children, but I either never saw her in labor or I don't remember. My sister has a baby, my brothers have babies. My friends have babies. Last winter, my sister was hugely pregnant and very beautiful. I love how pregnancy has come out of the shadows, how women wear body conscious clothes instead of flowered tents. And I've seen women in the movies in labor. But never up close and personal.

This woman was weeping. It was obvious she was in intense pain. But at the same time, she was joyous. Her sister or friend stood over her, rubbing her back, while talking on the cell phone to the new grandmother. She was relaying messages to the laboring woman, like "stay on your feet" or "don't eat anything" and this while the deli guy was frying up an egg sandwich. A young boy, part of entourage, stood by, trying very hard to be grown up about the whole thing.

Because I was carrying Molly, he engaged me in conversation about my dog. He was completely charming. He understood the import of what was happening to (I assume) his mother. When the contraction was over, I said, "that looked painful." And she laughed. I touched her shoulder and "God bless you."

The whole incident took about five minutes. I walked out of the store, sure that something good was about to come my way. And--- I was right! As of today, I've gotten three job offers. I'd been looking since last May. I've sent out about 700 applications, no exaggerating, and been on one interview.

Now, I am struggling to keep on top of all the offers. So yes god(dess) bless the woman in the deli on a bright Sunday afternoon. I'm sure by now her child is in the world. I hope she/he grows up to be wise and good, happy and healthy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Female Body+The Feminine Gaze

photo credit: Marc Travanti

This is a woman's definition of a woman's body. The photographer is a man, but the vision is female. This is my body, ten years ago. This is erotic, not pornographic. This is not demeaning. I am subject, not object. This is still sexual. I chose the stockings. I like the slightly fetishist image this creates. I chose to keep my face hidden. This is my portrait of my body. I chose what to conceal and what to reveal. This is my representation.

It's possible to build a new vocabulary that adheres more closely to the female narrative--- a lexicon that includes words, images and myths and fairy-tales that affirm the power of women, their sexuality, their beauty. A lexicon that includes the love of men, without the male gaze. A vision that is inclusive, not exclusive. I offer this image as proof positive that it can be done.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Please Don't Take My Porn Away

Please don't take my porn away just because I'm a feminist. Please don't take my porn away just because I am smart, beautiful and educated. A woman with a strong voice and an even stronger presence. I've been reading various feminist blogs on this topic and apparently there's a huge amount of dissent. A view that all porn is damaging to women. That's not 100% true anymore. Women like Jenna Jamison are not trampled upon. They are not drug addicts. They are not beaten or abused. They are in perfect control of their commodity, their sexuality, and nobody feels sorry for them.

I know Marilyn Chambers was trampled upon. I know she said she was raped. And this is a terrible thing. I am not downplaying the women who were raped, coerced or otherwise abused. Women with track marks and bad skin. But today is a new day. More and more, women are taking charge of their pornographic lives. Women like Candida Royalle. I'm a big fan of her films. There is an appreciable difference between porn created with the male gaze. And porn created from the female gaze.

There is more foreplay. LOTS more foreplay. There is dialogue. Tenderness. Mise en scene. It doesn't get too anatomical. Cum flies and pussies are penetrated. It's still hot. It's still about sex and getting off. But the women aren't objects, they are subjects. It is their story. Their illicit romances, their fantasies. There is nothing degrading about this. I've grown into this POV. I used to be far more hard core. I used to read Andrea Dworkin. That was 1980. In 1998, my friends bought me a slinky nightgown, a porno produced by Ms. Royalle, called Eyes of Desire (see photo above), and a vibrator. So I could take myself out on a date. Which I did, and often. Today, I like to think of myself as a sex positive feminist. I believe I can have my cake and eat it, too. BTW: here's a link to a post I wrote for the Bitch Blog. I responded to an open prompt: What influences you in feminism now?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Read This for Hot SEX

Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussell. My story, The St. George Hotel, 1890, is part of the collection. The cover is cool and classy; art house erotica. Published by Cleis Press. These are the lovely ladies from San Francisco who published The Erotica Project, co-authored with Erin Cressida Wilson. So I love them.

I like to re-tell fairy tales and myths with a new twist. I like to add sexuality and a strong dose of the female narrative. I like my women strong and intelligent. I don't like to see them punished for being smart and sexy. I want to redress the abundance of male narratives that contain this plot.

The St. George Hotel, 1890 re-tells the story of Blue Beard. A monstrous man who killed all his woman and kept their bodies in the basement of his castle. We all know this story. In my version, the protagonist meets her sexy monster, but lives to tell the story. And it's one hot romance, let me tell you.

So buy the book, check into a hotel, and have sex for God's sake.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't Call Me a Cougar

Don't call me a cougar or I'll kill you. Srsly. I don't know who cooked up this word--- but I hate it. It is a hatred that has flowered, grown, matured like a really fine wine. Cougar. MEEOW. I tried to own it, but secretly I didn't like it--- even though most of my lovers were at least ten years younger. Yet, little by little, the word gained momentum in popular culture.

Think of Samantha's character in Sex and the City. Oh you go girl, fucking all those young guys. Then, suddenly the cougar movement became a tsunami. People called me a cougar. I laughed uneasily. I know it was meant as a compliment. But it didn't feel that way. Here's what I now believe about it;

On the Surface, It's All Good
It signifies: I'm sexy, I'm older. I'm smart. See above. Furthermore, I'm autonomous. I don't need a man to complete me or pay my rent. I can buy my own diamonds, thank you. It means that I am schooled in all things erotic--- give a mean blowjob, perform a strip show, buy a vibrator, all without blushing.

But Many Things Lurk Beneath the Surface:
The subtext is offensive. The original meaning is a large powerful cat. They are hunters. They are carnivorous. They prowl, they corner, they pounce. They are dangerous. They have sharp teeth and claws. Hell they might even kill you. So now I'm a pussy with teeth?

Context: Complimentary

Subtext: Offensive

Don't Take My Word For It

From Urban Dictionary, I proffer their definition:

"The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, watching, waiting..."

Context: Offensive

Subtext: Still offensive

In Conclusion:
Words are powerful. Let's make sure we, women, write our own definitions for our own damn selves. Nobody said a word when Picasso fathered a child at 95. Nobody called him a cougar. Men have been dating younger women since the beginning of time. We have yet to coin a term for this phenomenon. But when women do it --- and it enters the zeitgeist, it becomes, in its subtext, a term of derision.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The glory of my long blonde hair

Hair. Women are defined by it. It's our part of our performance. We wear it long, short, feathered. We color it, curl it. If it looks good, we feel good. If it looks bad, we feel bad. Sometimes we wear a hat, pull it back in a pony, tie on a scarf. We want our lovers to run their fingers through it. We want it to be luxurious, thick. It is our crowning glory. Nothing else is as important. Not even our breasts. When we think of Cleopatra we think long dark hair, when we think of Theda Bara we think short dark hair, when we think of Marilyn Monroe we think of platinum hair, when we think of the Virgin Mary she has long hair. All of our feminine icons are identified by their hair. Women spend millions of dollars. I am one of them. My mother taught me to spend my money on my hair and my shoes--- words to live by. She said, "Even if you're wearing a pair of blue jeans and T-shirt from K-Mart, you'll still look good." I'm listening mom. This is a painting of my hair. Isn't it great?

This painting is by Marc Travanti from his series entitled, naturally, "Hair."

DUMBO Deluxe

photo credit: ACME at Smack Mellon. Courtesy of Smack Mellon.

I just love this picture. See how we are huddled in our winter coats? It was about ten below zero that night, and about thirty degrees inside the gallery. I am not exaggerating. I would tip toe to the ladies room b/c it had a small space heater, and go back out again. But the music was exhilarating. Somehow the cold, the chocolate lager, the art installation and the lights from the Manhattan Bridge created a kind of Buddhist moment for me.
Of course that quickly dissipated when I found myself out on the streets after the concert. DUMBO is still a frontier town but it has gotten better. After eight years, Peas and Pickles is still the only grocery store, but its hideously overpriced. There was one restaurant open on Water Street. I was too cold to explore. Frigid. Freezing. But, I was starving. The pizza place on Water Street had just closed. So I opted for two cookies. Then a miracle happened. A yellow cab appeared out of nowhere. Excellent. Smooth ride home along the river.
Want to give a shout out to my brother's blog, He is a conservative right wing rock and roller. If that sounds interesting to you, check it out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Women in Motion

Photo by Marc Travanti
My niece Angie and myself posing for the master artist in his studio in the East Village. He specializes in hair and bodies. I call these the "Fireball Series" but he calls them "One & Another". Either way, they are gorgeous images. To find out more about this artist, visit his website

I've said it; and I'm not sorry

I haven't seen these movies but I'm going to complain about them anyway--- first up: He's Just Not That Into You. Dear God, could anything be more sexist beside the term cougar? Spawned from a supercilious comment, which mushroomed into a totally unecessary book, and now an embarrssing film--- I have to ask, what is going on with smart women anyway? Why did we embrace The Rules a decade ago?

Why did I have to watch beautiful, smart, accomplished women eat up this slop like caviar? "Oh, no. He totally has to call me first." And now this movie. The trailer of Drew Barrymore is horrifying. She is appears to be one of the smartest, richest, most powerful woman in Hollywood, yet her character is a retro-clingy, ditsy , insecure girl.

And then the travesty of Bride Wars starring yet another smart, talented, classy actress, Anne Hathaway. Her performance in Rachel Getting Married is off the charts. I know, I know --- I haven't seen Bride Wars, but I've read the reviews, and seen the PR. I don't need to see it. I already know the story. Two girls duking it out. Catfight. I love it when women are portrayed as one dimensional shrieking harridans. This is yet another stereotype that I'd like to see smacked into the stratosphere.

Apparently, we (society) still have a compelling need to infantalize women. But I wish we would get over it. I wish women would stop inflating their breasts like bicycle tires I wish we would stop publishing books that perpetuate a worn out, out-dated image of us. I wish we could think of a better alternative to Playboy than Playgirl. I wish we would work harder on creating a new narrative of what it means to be women in the 21st century.

There, I've said it. And I'm not sorry.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Have 8 Kids, Get a Reality Show!

Yesterday's Daily News ran a story by Patrick Huguenin about the woman who just gave birth to octuplets. That's eight babies. Nadya Suleman, 33, from California, is according to the author, a woman with "with an irrational, seemingly pathological, need to conceive." That's putting it mildly--- she already has six children.

It might be medical miracle and God(dess) bless all the little babies, but the ethical implications are staggering. Nadya's mother said that all the babies have the same sperm donor. Uh. I think the proper term here is father. Father and mother now have 14 children.

I thought that families that size went the way of Bakelite telephones, pantyhose, Catholicism, corporal punishment, and frosted hair. Maybe the parents assume they will get a reality television show and make millions--- in other words, ka-ching! These children will start work immediately, skip the innocence, and go straight into the glare of world wide media attention.

I can't imagine how much fun that must be for a three year old! Mark my words, readers--- they will get a reality television show. They will make millions in endorsement deals. The mother has recently filed for bankruptcy, and the father who is listed as a sperm donor, will never have to work again. Excellent.

Why impregnate a woman with eight embryos? Because we can? She had already proven her fertility by giving birth to six other babies. It doesn't make sense. It's disturbing. We are producing children with no clear provenance. What will that do to them down the road? They'll be like the children who are "created" by another's women's egg but brought to term in another's women's womb.

Will we as a society begin to coin new terms to differentiate the children who are conceived naturally and the children who are created in test tubes? Will that create a hierarchy of natural born children versus unnatural born?

People who donate sperm and who donate their eggs are anonymously disseminating their DNA throughout the population. They assume they are anonymous, but they are not. I watched documentary about children who grow up and go looking for their test tube mommies and daddies. They may not be able to find them but they do find their siblings. It won't be long until a young woman who in her 20's made $8,000 for her eggs, hears a knock at the door 18 years later. Believe it.

I read NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro--- about children, people who are cloned. Ultimately they are "harvested" for surgeries. It's got to be one of the most poignant books ever written. I couldn't read it again. It broke my heart. They really believed they were real, human, flesh and blood. They fell in love. They dreamed dreams. They planned for the future. They had likes and dislikes, passions and pathos. Just like us. Except--- not.

The woman in California with eight brand spanking new babies is a signifier of a much larger issue. Have we all forgotten Aldous Huxley's Brave New World? Should everyone read this book again? Do we really have to be reminded of the perils of playing God?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Golden Johnny

Props to my brother Johnny for the epic meal and entertainments for Super Bowl Sunday. I'm talking about dry aged rib eye steaks, home made mashed potaotes, green beans, salad, pecan pie and ice cream. We settled in his upper east side apartment with a bottle of red, so rich and so spicy it was a dream to drink. Brother was the consummate host throughout the day and into the evening--- it's all good when Johnny is in the kitchen and when Johnny's at home. I listened to a new track of Estate Sale, an original song he's been working on with friend and partner Joe Nieves. They got themselves into a real recording studio and the harmonies are like straight out of CSNY, no shit.

This is my baby brother we're talking about and he's done alright with his life. It's good to know that in a city of like 90 million people, I got somebody to cook me a steak dinner and ply me with good wine. He's rescued my ass more times that I can count and for that I am publicly grateful. There was the time he took me to the doctor on Easter Sunday b/c I had been up all night running a high fever. I called him the next morning and off we went to Borough Park, the center of all thing Hasidim--- obviously we weren't going to find any Christian doctors. Then there was the famous I fell down on an escalator at the Jay Street stop and sliced my friggin knee open. Half hour later, there he was, ready to escort me home.

When he was a baby I thought of him as Golden Johnny because he had about the biggest heart you could find plus the fact that he liked to fly through the air on his skateboard and climb trees as well. All of my brothers are cool (I got like five of them), but I am glad that the baby of the family is here in NYC with me. I guess it paid to dress him up like David Bowie when he was five years old; put on make-up, rhinestone necklaces and take him to the Art Institute in Chicago and explain to him the wonder of Pointillism via Georges Seurat's The Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. Then when he grows up and is successful he cooks your middle aged ass an incredible Sunday dinner.