Monday, July 27, 2009

That Moment You Don't Forget

We have these throughout our lives, don't we? They are periods of time where you feel suspended in another world and you think, "I will never forget this."

It sounds a tad melodramatic and cliche now because Hollywood movies and TV shows use it constantly as a crutch for characters to be "changed." But standing at the Hollywood Bowl last night watching Grace Jones on stage, I had nothing else to think but "I will never forget this."

Maybe it was because I never thought I'd see her perform live. Maybe it was seeing her sing "La Vie en Rose" like this:

Seriously, how many other performers do you know who could do this and succeed at it? I admit I had in the past thought that maybe Grace was more persona and cheekbones than anything else, but last night changed that perspective in a major way. Some people simply "have it." And she is one of them. Done.

From appearing under a drapery of silver lame to the red dress to dancing on stage with half a mannequin, there was no getting around her presence, and her voice was in just as phenomenal shape as her 60-year-old body:

By the time she donned a bustier and a cape with a headdress for closing the show with "Pull Up to the Bumper," everyone had already kind of lost their minds and was trying to pull it together again. How nice to see a woman perform who knows how to entertain, to be sweaty, ugly, funny, gorgeous, and genuine all at the same time. It was such an insane contrast to the pap that gets shoved down our throats by most music companies these days.

Not that she was any different 28 years ago:

It makes no difference. I and thousands of others got to see her last night and see proof that the word "icon" does, indeed, do her justice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Greeting Card Hell

I made an innocent enough stop at the local Rite Aid this afternoon just for a chance to try Diet Dr Pepper for the first time (oh, and to keep Jessica company, as well). While there, we decided to peruse the large selection of greeting cards. This is a favorite pastime of mine, as I like buying cuddly cat cards for people's birthdays. Irony isn't even present anymore. People nearly expect it. But that's not the point.

No, the point is really how overcome with annoyance I was and how much vitriol was percolating inside me from a simple perusal of a sad-sack, linoleum-floored card aisle in a drug store in Hollywood.

To be honest, the magazine section started it. There, I was confronted by an array of mostly magazines aimed at women (since they, you know, do all the shopping) that included a baffling number of headlines that revolved around either why "he cheats"; recipes to make "your busy day easier"; and shocking confessions about women who "can't stop eating junk food." All the wedding and bridal publications are another matter. There, you have it pounded into your eyes and brain with a sledgehammer that, unless you desperately WANT to get married, are ABOUT to get married, or getting married AGAIN, then you cannot possibly be a "real woman."

So you see, the card aisle was a way for me to laugh and unwind... but I guess my brain just can't see it that way today. No, instead, I was stuck in a "Beautiful Mind" moment in which words and images popped out at me from all across the rows of cards, nauseating me, and, frankly, making me feel like there is no hope to get away from the flood of stereotypical gender roles that apparently sell like hotcakes:

Mom's birthday coming up? Buy her this card that features a rose or a sunset or some other soothing pastoral scene coupled with heartfelt sentiment so she both knows she's appreciated but is subtly told that it REALLY is her job to clean, cook, and raise a family.

Grandpa's getting older? This card shows a boat/workbench/park/tools/fishing poles that accurately convey that he's earned some R&R for doing nothing the last year or so. That's hilarious!

Niece who's having a baby? This baby shower card shows a cute girl in makeup surrounded by TONS of STUFF that is ALL about babies and domesticity and refers to how she is in HEAVEN now that she's breeding and surrounded by STUFF.

Dad's retiring? Well, here's a kicky card that sports an active older man who is running.... straight to his Corvette! It's so funny and true how we should spend useless money on cars like this when we have to use Viagra. (Don't worry, plenty of other cards will vouch for Viagra without me needing to.)

I guess because I am looking at my 36th birthday right now I am bit sensitive to cards at the moment. Or I am just a cranky homo who shouldn't be so attuned to a system that just relentlessly reinforces the worst, most inane, stupid, vile, and deplorable stereotypes in the name of being "funny." Thankfully, I have friends who'd rather find the smart, sardonic, ironic, and skewering cards that I have thus far received.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to go to buy a fishing pole, a Corvette, and some miscellaneous sports equipment before I re-fill my Cialis prescription and then tell people about how it's funny I'm just like everyone else.