Saturday, May 22, 2010

WHERE'S RIELLE HUNTER HEADING?

Everything about you -- the woman who had an affair with John Edwards, got pregnant and broke up his marriage -- the juicy, sexy scandal still gets attention. So, I'm focusing on you with my choreographer's eye, picturing what moves you can and should make.

Alas, this half-naked picture of you is a perfect example of how you are, I think, screwing yourself up. (Excuse the slang -- I'm not referring to your sex life. I mean you are tangling yourself, tying yourself in knots.)

"Rielle Hunter" whom you created, is achieving what I suspect you've been pursuing most of your life. But at 46 years old, I have to tell you, it's time for you to stop clutching the vision of yourself as a femme fatale.

Okay, I understand. Like me, and many other woman, you grew up wanting to be somebody.

I wrote a big, fat, truthful book titled -- "Somebody." In it, I dug into how we inherited that drive, that dream, the concept of being somebody, from our mother's, who inherited it from their mothers.

Okay, Rielle! You've managed to get the fame beam turned on. It's on you, and on your name. That you're a "wicked bitch" to some people who devour the scandalous stuff about you and John and his wife, is NOT important to me.

I sense that it doesn't bother you. It certainly made you a sort of celebrity.

I don't remember the name of the prostitute that was attached to Elliot Spitzer, or Tiger Wood's girl friends; I never did know the name of Governor Sanford's Brazilian lady that's still thrilling South Carolina scandal mongers. (Of course I know the names, the great stories of Sappho, Camille, and Madame Bovary, but that's art.)

Spitzer, Wood, Sanford and the other adulterous guys in the news are not art. And I was right there in the un-artistic, messy, sexy, midst of Sybil Burton versus Liz, Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, and Richard B's five other love affairs with ladies I met, whose names I can't recall.

Will people know who you are next year? Are you waiting for Elizabeth Edwards to die so you can be Mrs. John Edwards? I don't think so. You're practical. You know that you're too old to compete with the young beauties that John E's wandering eye may light upon.

My choreographer's eye says you can still be somebody by being YOU.

(I wanted to be a prima ballerina, but wasn't, couldn't' be, but made myself into somebody, by going beyond that dream, and that's what I'm suggesting to you.)

You have creative ideas. You inspired a novelist and he wrote about you; you appeared in films; you produced a comedy, formed R. Hunter Films, then Midline Grove Productions and made videos. Business Week says you were one of the first to establish online video for marketing purposes, the first to exploit that venue for a political campaign.

Why not do a video with Elizabeth Edwards? Write a script and send it to her. The subject -- "What we (as women) do wrong; what we do right." Suggest to Elizabeth that she "tell you off." In the script, show her your reply. "I hear you and I will change."

Find a way to say you're no longer the girl who latched onto a needy (probably horny) John Edwards, when he was vulnerable, and he and you got you pregnant.

Elizabeth Edwards and Rielle Hunter -- that'll get you an audience. And re-launch you, and her. And Elizabeth wants people to hear her -- her story is her legacy and helps her face death.

You can build from there -- maybe script and produce other videos with other "wicked" women who are coming to terms with who they really are.

USE this headlined love affair. Sell it. Put on an fashionable, chic, lady-like outfit and take control of your image; pass on what "Being Somebody" meant to you, and it will touch us, affect all of us.

Friday, May 21, 2010

FACEBOOKING

EEK, I cried on a video I called "Facing Facebook." It's a fun chat with my husband, in which I complained about Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the Website, and "eeked" about NOT wanting to waste my time with this silly stuff.

Maybe I should have cried "Whoo, wow -- where've I been?" (I've been aware for quite a while that everyone in the media is facebooking, or tweeting, linking in, and promoting themselves all day long.)

I have always thought of myself as a friendly, approachable, down-to-earth person who could communicate with just about anyone -- just by looking at a person, perceiving them. Hey, I've written 5 novels and 7 plays, and set up shows, performed in more than a 1000 different towns, been around the world a couple of times. Doing my work, I make intense contact with 10, 20, 50 people a day.

(It's real contact. Probably because of all the hats I've worn, still wear, as an employer, boss, stage manager, lighting designer, who's also an accountant, bookkeeper, teacher, chauffeur, janitor, seamstress, cook, mother, wife, and performer (with a capital P).

Two weeks ago I joined Facebook. Signing up, I found myself fumbling, not knowing how to navigate, while scolding myself about wasting time reading jabber from people I vaguely knew -- little paragraphs about humdrum daily adventures (mostly visiting, lunching, shopping, exercising).

Yes, I've definitely been grumbling about bumping into people I know, or used to know, or would have forgotten about if I hadn't come across their profiles, but bumping into them -- well, I can't help but be curious, and wonder why they're facebooking, and what they're accomplishing?

Let me be clear, about my reason for facebooking. (If this isn't a verb, it ought to be -- it's a use of yourself like doing push-ups, jogging, stretching.)

I need more readers for Em'sTalkery, my blog, so that I can keep writing about what's on my mind -- writing about what's real and important right now, instead of inventing plots and characters for another novel, that more than likely won't get sold.

I've found myself in a huge arena with how many? -- too many -- infinitely many others who are beckoning, needing to be seen, heard, supported, recognized in this towering arena of Babel, of people, talking, telling, sharing, reaching out ... words, words ...

I'm overflowing with words, words trying to describe what it feels like, in the two hours a day I've been working on getting more readers. It's getting to me. I'm feeling people in a way I haven't felt before. (Never before? NO! But when you perform on a stage,, you don't feel individuals. After a show, when you meet members of the audience, it's the glamorized you receiving compliments and comments about the performer, who is NOT the real you).

So here's what Facebook is doing to me.

The process -- reading brief posts that strangers or friends have written, figuring out what to say about me that'll interest them, has made me ponder ... gee, will that guy with the tough face pay attention to that sentence? Will the moon-faced goddess, the cook, the jogger, the actor, housewife, mystery writer, the trainer, the dog lover, impatient teenager, gamester?

All these different types of people ... I feel their sensibilities from just a glimpse -- suddenly all their friends, families, locales, professions and words they use -- whew -- it makes my grown-up, professional, organized writer self feel ... not naked, but uncovered, kind of raw.

They, those hundred new faces with whom I'm communicating, have made me want to be more accessible.

It's giving me a new sense of what's on mind, and how to say it, share it right away, directly.

A more accessible me? That's fun. That's a whee, whoopee!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WHY IS ROTHKO FAMOUS?

This is Mark Rothko's painting, "White Center."

It was bought by Southeby's, the global art auction house, for $72.8 million, a record price for a contemporary American painting. And right now, Rothko's life is being dramatized on Broadway, in a play called "Red."

I've stared at the "White Center" painting. I've looked at Rothko's other abstract paintings. I am an artist/writer/playwright choreographer (and paint as a hobby, but I don't paint boxes, stripes, or patterns, nor do I create abstract plays, novels, or choreography). Nothing that I've created relates to Mark Rothko.

He's been crowned by the art world as a master of abstract impressionism. People I know and admire, LOVE his work.

His paintings seem to be echoes of each other.
Here are three of them.

I have to say that I don't feel much of anything when I look at these pictures. But that's just me, Em the Artist, not in tune with popular opinion. My stuff has been praised by critics and also "bombed" by them. When I danced at the International Festival Du Cologne I was booed -- an experience that could have thoroughly discouraged me, but ... it didn't. Perhaps, because of those boos, I'm sort of fearless -- critics, reviews, award winners who get Grammy's, Oscars, Tony's, even Pulitzer Prizes don't impress me unless I am moved by what I see or feel.

Mark Rothko said, "The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions. The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point."

He sounds arrogant (but I don't think it's arrogance -- it's self belief). The years this man spent over each canvas, every single detail, every daub -- when you work on a canvas, (or a choreography, or book, for a year or two or ten) it is you -- heart, soul, bones, skin, blood.

Struggling with poverty all his life, Rothko, according to Art Critic Cathleen McGuigan, "... was the last in a line of angst-ridden soul-searching artists who had a love-hate relationship with success."

The last of the angst ridden? Let me name drop -- I've had friendly chats about this with Martha Graham, Alwin Nikolais, Hanya Holm, Valerie Bettis, Merce Cunningham, George Balanchine -- yes, and also Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharpe and writers and playwrights. For me, it's a fact -- every artist, young and just starting out, or old, over-the-hill, has a love-hate relationship with success.

When Rothko finally got his first big, money-making commission, he agonized over it, but painted a series of murals for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City. Hating the sight of them hanging in those glamorous surroundings, he gave back the money and removed his murals saying, "I hope to ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who eats there." These words, an actual quote, are in the play, "Red," at Broadway's Golden theater.

Actor Alfred Molina may win the Tony for his portrayal of Rothko in "Red." The playwright, John Logan, has also been nominated. Altogether the play has been nominated for 14 awards.

Is it because of the terrific actor, the well-written play, or the powerful story of an artist who worked all his life for recognition -- fame and fortune -- and threw it away?

Probably, and perhaps, even more importantly, the play conveys the process of acquiring a craft, learning to DO your art -- which is learning to face yourself, confront why am I alive, what purpose does my life serve? (Asking and trying to answer those unanswerable questions is what I've been doing most of my life.)

Here's a picture of Mark Rothko.
In 1970 he killed himself,
cut open his wrists,
when he was sixty-six.

No. I am not moved by his paintings. They are not my cup of tea. But I'm moved, thinking about Rothko the man, the artist working, struggling, evolving, and succeeding -- yet overwhelmed by his drive to succeed -- ending his life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

YAY LADY GAGA

Is this a dream come true for Lady Gaga?

What I see is a huge resurgence of slinky, sexy, seductive womankind, an essence of the way we were before "Women's Liberation."

This Lady Gaga on the cover of Time is yet another version of the creature, girl-child-lady who attacks us with her non-songs, her bewildering, fascinating array of subjects -- places, clothes, points of view, prosaic objects, phallic props, inappropriate, incompatible, old fashioned, ultra sci fi thing-ums that jar us, spook us -- make it almost impossible to turn away.

Gaga, doing whatever she's doing, transforms herself into a flickering jumble of recognizable elements that do not translate into logical thought. But it communicates -- it speaks to us.

In that slinky dress, the metal work on her breast makes you think what the hell is that? Is it a spoof on Madonna back in the days when M wore stiff, super pointed bras?

I don't think so.

A left breast from which a metal structure grows says just that -- it's from her heart. And the mish-mash of poetry, rhyme, tuneful phrases sung while she's on a phone, bumping and grinding, caressing herself, dancing-cavorting with girls and guys says just that, as does her TOO MUCH makeup, lace veils, wild hats, massive hairdo's.

Everything she does, says, sings, wears --it's all too much.

Chaos -- artificial beauty -- sex-sex sexuality -- no rules -- "I am whatever I want to be," says the lady.

I say Yay hurray, Lady Gaga -- you are telling women, young and old, to be what they want to be. You belong on the list of 100 most influential doers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

WAR PORN

Remember this picture? Someone took it, before the men in black cut off the head of the man sitting on the ground. It could be called "War Porn."

War Porn is pictures, films of carnage. And people are buying it, and watching it.

Is it just part of the "new freedom"-- people shouting, saying whatever they want to say, no matter how vile, no matter where they are and who is present? Nowadays, you can spit, hiss, fart, thumb your nose, or piss on it -- anything -- whatever makes you feel better.

Do War Porn lovers get kicks, goose-bumps, shivers, genital response from looking at death?

Yes.

Is it something beyond "dirty" pictures, visions of Abu Ghraib orgies?

Yes.

It is an illness, a fever in the mind, brought on by seeing, hearing, participating in killing?

When I was creating dramatic ballets for my Dance Drama Company, the theater of blood inspired me. So, I staged rape, lynching, murder, used fake blood, sexy acrobatics, realistic looking weapons. It shocked and excited our audience, but wow -- times have changed. The realities of now are overwhelming. Aside from the wars, we've got ravaging weather, and an incredibly huge, devastating oil spill.

What do you see in a War Porn film? Reality -- a soldier killing a group of enemies -- bang-bang -- blood exploding on a chest -- bang-bang-- a head exploding -- more bangs -- a guy's guts falling out as he falls to the ground.

There are Websites like GotWarPorn.com, and You Tube videos (thousands of them), made by soldiers who've uploaded their own film clips. With video-game knowledge and some inexpensive video equipment, soldiers can create fetish films, splicing together the most horrifying, brutal parts of what they've got on film, and even add sound tracks.

The videos have been viewed millions of times. You can see a building exploding, men killing the enemy in a battle, or watch an execution -- an Iraqi taking a bullet to the head, or the actual moment-- ax being wended, blood spurting, a still-living head without a torso, a torso without a head.

Professor Bryant Paul, Dept of Telecommunication, Indiana University, an expert on the psychological and sexual effects of media, commenting on a video of American soldiers making fun of a dog eating a dead Iraqi, said --"The behavior may be a coping mechanism for war because they (the soldiers) might have to normalize what is not normal in order to survive."

Watching Warn Porn is a way of coping, and perhaps it helps soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I think War Porn is addictive.

Is it in our DNA -- a need for violence? I'm thinking of the days when Christians were fed to the lions in the coliseum, and people cheered -- the days when popular entertainment was watching Gladiators bashing each other's brains out -- I'm remembering the pictures in books I've read, and gorgeous, gruesome, suspenseful scenes in the award-winning movies I've seen.

With war news, suicide bombers, our daily fare of shows, ads, blockbuster movie previews, Internet Websites glorifying horror -- our need for violence has intensified.

How do we stop it? Can we stop it? There's talk about prevention, but we haven't stopped it.

I don't think passing laws will stop War Porn. Stopping our wars -- wars we can't lose, but I THINK WE ARE LOSING, may help.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

PRISONS

The escalating violence, crime, and criminal behavior in our country worries me.

I was amazed when I read about the opening of Halden Prison in Norway last month. Norwegian officials are convinced that treating prisoners -- drug dealers, murderers, rapists -- humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society.

To avoid an institutional look, the prison's exterior is brick, wood, and galvanized steel. There's a 20-ft. concrete wall around it but the top edge is rounded and trees obscure the wall. The cells have flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges, no bars on the large vertical windows that let in sunlight. Every 12 cells share a living room and kitchen "laboratory" where prisoners learn to cook.

It took ten years and $252 million to build -- cells for 252 inmates, a sound studio, jogging trails, a cottage inmates can use for overnight visits with their families.

Norway claims rehabilitation works -- within two years of their release, just 20% of Norway's prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.S. (and the U.K.) the figure hovers between 50% and 60%.

"In our prison system, there's a focus on human rights and respect," says Halden Prison's Governor. "We don't see any of this as unusual. We want to build inmates up, give them confidence through education and work and have them leave as better people."

It sounds good, but Norway's prison population is 3,300 ( 69 criminals per 100,000 people compared with 2.3 million in the U.S., or 753 per 100,000 — the highest rate in the world).

My reaction to Halden is based on the MSNBC prison show that I've watched -- a disturbing view of crazy, often out of control, mostly uneducated, ignorant prisoners treated as if they're animals in cages by guards who try to clean up the fecal matter that's thrown at them, and feed and communicate with inmates.

It's not entertaining, this ever-larger world that we taxpayers are sustaining financially. The inmates ... Well, mostly I feel as if I'm viewing the underside of a ugly yard -- bugs, worms, repulsive creatures I don't want to look at -- of course I want the yard to be green grass and flowers.

Halden's attractive cells, "guards without guns," says its Governor, explaining that Guards eat and play sports with the inmates -- gee, if prison isn't punishment isn't it encouraging recidivism -- telling it's criminals "Go commit a crime -- if you're caught, you'll lead a better life, a good life in Halden?"

I'm scowling, shaking my head -- it's unreal, impractical -- it may work in a smaller country like Norway, but it won't work here.

Aside from building more jails, I doubt that there's anything we can do about our over-populated prisons, other than passing laws, and enforcing the cleanup of blockbuster movies, so-called "art" work, ads, promotions, theatrical events that promote violence and horror -- every day more, with bigger box office success, and fame rewarding the creators.

Is violence a price we have to pay for freedom of speech? I don't know. I hope not.