I Was Talking to Gloria Steinem
Yesterday About Nestle's
We were chided last month, as we are every so often, about
our use of the first person plural in these essays. We had
addressed why we do this, in an essay a couple of years ago
(Why We Are Not I : Grammatical
and Other Considerations APRIL,
In explaining the use of the "editorial
we," we then went on to say...
"There are exceptions
to this… in the writing of our poetry. And
of course in our journal, we do use I,
lest we wonder at our sanity."
We came across a recent New York
magazine article on the upcoming 40th anniversary this January,
of the founding of Ms. magazine. It spoke to how
Ms. was born as an outgrowth of the feminist movement,
with a particular emphasis on the critical role Gloria Steinem
played in both; the magazine and the movement.
And then we remembered something relating
to her that would enable us to use the first person "I"
with abandon. It comes from an entry we had made in our journal
eons ago. And though we were in our early thirties at the
time, we were reduced it seems, to acting like a school boy
in this encounter.
was talking to Gloria Steinem yesterday about Nestle's
Hot Cocoa. How's that for a cocktail party stopper. She was
shilling for Ms. magazine at Ayer. Trying
to drum up advertising revenue as it were.
her address, I approached her, and discussed if in fact Ms.
was a good media vehicle for such standard "women's products"—food
and Avon's. In retrospect, the situation is ironic. What happened
to the great social issues?
was Gloria Steinem, radical feminist, one of the architects
of the women's movement, outspoken against the war, social
injustice and so on, talking about cookie mix and hot cocoa.
And what about me? Whatever happened to the artist, the newly
discovered free thinker and all that? The 60's and its effect…and
I'm back in a jacket and tie. And I love it.
was actually nervous talking to her. I don't know what made
me approach her…and with such a stupid question. I felt
tight. Why? I mean I should be able to stand there and talk
to Gloria Steinem without my heart beating faster. Maybe it's
because I have a "crush" on her.
I think Gloria Steinem, now 77, is still beautiful.
And I still have a crush on her.
HBO ran a documentary on her this past August
as a precursor to this upcoming 40th anniversary. In promoting
that program, she had appeared on CBS' The Early Show,
among others. That five and a half minute segment can be viewed
in its entirety on: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/08/10/earlyshow/main20090574.shtml
I walk the dog down the godforsaken
She walks the man towards the dogforsaken bark.
And with the nearing of our respective parties—
Chihuahua and poet; comforter and patient—
The sick man lifts his cane
as if of stone.
Then from a slack-jawed mouth, a grunt and groan.
The reflex to greet the living is alive though pale.
A hello? A goodbye? Maybe a last ditch appeal.
He'll return to the earth
before end of fall.
His nurse from El Salvador negotiates his crawl—
Inch by inch, is the long journey to heaven.
I temper the short dog who is hell-bent on leaving.
Though at the old man he stops—ears
To pick up a scent from the scriptures on dust and ash.
We all cluster for a moment, an eclectic herd,
For reasons that none of us can put into words.
Melancholia: In Praise of
Has there ever been a movie in praise of depression?
If there never has, there is one now. It comes with the release
last month of Melancholia.
At least that's our take on it, supported
by what the film seems to say in the final analysis. And "final"
is the operative word here in this apocalyptic (not to be
confused with "apocalypstick," an inside nepotistical
film. It is also one that seems to straddle two genres, drama
and sci fi. And in so doing, offers a unique spin on both.
There is little about this movie, directed
by Lars von Trier, that isn't compelling, if not downright
disturbing. It begins with an opening sequence, that is at
once ominous yet beautiful. Shot in super slow motion, and
with stunning cinematography in every frame, it only heightens
a sense of foreboding. We had to go back to the prologue of
2001: A Space Odyssey to recall anything vaguely
resembling this. But then again, we are hardly versed in the
canon of recent film history.
Of the reviews that we did read after
seeing the movie, we think the bottom line assessment by A.O.
Scott, critic for The New York Times, most closely
resembles our own.
The world, Justine (Kirsten Dunst)
declares in her darkest moment of clarity, deserves its
awful fate. The perverse achievement of “Melancholia”
is how difficult it is to argue with her conclusion.
We wonder if "perverse" is the right
word, given how prevalent depression is in modern society.
The numbers we have seen from various sources indicate that
approximately 21 million Americans suffer from depression
each year. Gather around any large family holiday table, and
a couple of people asking for white meat only, might be about
to go off the deep end…albeit quietly.
As most of us have come to know, depression
is not about going through a period of sadness or having a
bout with the blues. One can't just "get over it."
It is something far more severe, as indicated in this definition
by Freud, that mirrors that of the World Health Organization
a profoundly painful dejection,
cessation of interest in the outside world,
loss of the capacity to love,
inhibition of all activity,
and a lowering of the self-regarding feelings to a degree
that finds utterance in self-reproaches and self-revilings,
and culminates in a delusional expectation of punishment.
One aspect of this disorder is specifically
known as anhedonia or…the inability to
experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable,
e.g. hobbies, exercise, social interaction or sexual activity.
(Wikipedia; referenced). It makes us recall the story
we had heard, that Anhedonia was what Woody Allen
was going to title his new 1977 movie, before he changed it
to Annie Hall.
Kirsten Dunst, in an Oscar nomination-worthy
performance, captures every aspect and nuance of depression,
underplaying it in a way that is so counter to the perception
of what often passes for "madness." Compare this...
...to say, Joan Crawford (in the person of
Faye Dunaway): "No more wire coat hangers. Ever!"
People who suffer from depression rarely pronounce
their despair from a mountain top, or at a holiday table,
or become unglued by coat hangers—wire or otherwise.
And in that quietness, WHO estimates that it results
in 850,000 suicides each year throughout the world.
Melancholia, in illustrating the
depths to which depression can go, also seems to suggest that
there is a nobility (warranting "praise?") in it.
A chilling thought. Which is why it stuck with us long after
leaving the theater. Which is why it wound up on these pages.
Quotes of the Month
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep
your balance you must keep moving.
A relationship, I think,
is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward
or it dies.
Are The Rockettes
This is the existential question that we ponder
as we place our bets at the box office for the Radio City
Christmas Spectacular. Equally spectacular, are the ticket
prices which can run as high as $347 for the best seats in
the house. That badly, we do not want to find out the answer
to our question. But exactly where to sit takes some time
to consider, as Radio City Music Hall has almost as many levels
as Dante's Paradiso (which interestingly, has the
word "radio" camouflaged within it).
In a reverse, our Beatrice—taking
the form of a friend in from out of town—will be the
one guided, and not the one guiding. For she has never entered
this realm before. We both will end up in the equivalent of
Paradiso's Seventh Sphere ("Saturn: The Contemplatives"),
from which we will be sitting close to heaven indeed.
We might have at one time
claimed, that it would take a court order to get us to see
this show again. But we have become more sentimental (or is
it senile?) over the years, and now can't wait to see that
almost "camp" sight of 72 gams kicking eye-high
in perfect unison. Or will we?
In a New York Times article last
month, "Rockettes, Rebooted for a New Era"
(appearing after we had bought the tickets), it noted that
Linda Haberman, the director and choreographer of the show,
was going in a new direction: “I wanted to show the
women’s strength and their athleticism because that’s
a side of them that never gets seen by the general public,”
Here's how that goes. The dancers are placed
inside of a video game entitled the "Rockettes to the
Rescue," in which "they help a mother and daughter
battle their way through four levels (here we go again with
levels) of obstacles, leading to the arch villain, the Humbug
King." Not exactly the narrative we would have selected,
ah, but there's 3-D technology included. And animation. The
kind that will be interspersed with live dancers. Everything
old is new again, as Ms. Haberman does own up to the fact
that the dance Gene Kelly did with Jerry the mouse in "Anchors
Aweigh" (1945), was in the back of her mind.
When we were young, the Rockettes,
the Christmas show, the venue itself, were all magic. Magic
is so easy to come by when you're a kid, because kids are
so willing and able to suspend disbelief. And everything is
so new and so wow! As adults, we become jaded. We've seen
it all; we've done it all. And what we haven't, gets put on
a "bucket list," which in itself is a somewhat dispiriting
But what promises to be new here for us, is
an appreciation of the Rockettes, not as a novelty,
but as professional dancers. As we are now beginning to take
an interest in ballet, this quote from the assistant choreographer
in particular, caught our eye:
starting to get out that being a Rockette is a serious dance
job. The perception is that we're changing and amazingly
talented technical dancers are now starting to audition.
Some of the new dancers have extensive backgrounds in serious,
professional ballet schools."
While perhaps moving far away from a formula
that has been successful for so long—though we are assured
there are still plenty of kick lines in the show—the
Rockettes are trying to make certain to keep in step
with the changing tastes in entertainment.
We look forward to seeing if these changes
can recapture "the wow." And while they're at it,
maybe it's time that Santa Claus got a new suit?
A Poem in Creative Spelling
We happened across this poem by Dylan Vazzano,
written at the age of five or six (he is now 23), that seems
apt for the season. We love how the limitations in spelling
ability at that age, are no hindrance to expressing oneself
on the page. What obstacle can't be overcome with a little
imagination? And after all, do we really need that "w"
in snowman? It is shown exactly as it was typed out by him
sad sad snoman
A boy biot a snoman
and then it was summr
and the snoman meldid
the boy starthit to crie
the boy was sad
the boy codo not
wat in tiw neckst wintro