My nominee for worst art of the 21st. Century

Posted July 28th, 2010
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bedbathian #1

I went to UC Berkeley where I was an art major all the way through to a Masters degree. Why? Because in the words of the great Joe Strummer, “There’s only one answer to what you’re going to do after school and that is art school: the last resort of malingerers and people who don’t want to work.”  I admit that  I may have screwed around an awful lot in the name of academia. But  I also learned a few things. And I was thinking of those few things today when I was waiting to get out of  Bed, Bath and Beyond.  While I was trapped in a lengthy check out line,  I was stuck staring at the big wall full of the theoretical “art.” they sell.  It was directly in front of me. There is enough of it to  take up one whole side of the store.

So I started playing a game called ‘Which of these pieces of art would you buy if a terrorist had a gun to your head?” (And by the way,  it took something that melodramatic for me to motivate myself in this game because  the selection of framed pieces I was looking at each had the ability to ruin my mood in just a second. ) (Though even in the context of the game, I’m still not sure what would be motivating the terrorist to make such a threat . Except perhaps  gleeful sadistic thrills from punishing a western infidel floozy with the rotting fruits of her culture’s decline. )

Fortunately for me, it was time to hand over the credit card before I had to  finalize my difficult decision. Because there was no way I was able to pick a piece out.  But on the way to the car, I began wondering what one might call the ‘school’ of art this store is selling . Not Moderne. Not Cubist. Not Impressionist or Fauvism.  Not Abstract Expressionism. Not Pop. And then it came to me:

The works are Early Twenty First Century BedbathandBeyondian.bedbathian #2

Worse by half than Twenty First Century CostPlussian and twenty First Century PierOneian.


Daddy has bought an old Thunderbird

Posted July 28th, 2010
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Thunderbird: V-8 Wonder of the Western World

At long last: My Reality Show

Posted July 19th, 2010
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I think it is time for me to have a reality show. So I have made the important decisions.

My reality show is going to be about the highs and lows, the pitfalls and the triumphs of being a single woman. You will share in the heartaches and the struggles but you will also be there for the good times. My problems will turn out to be not so different from your problems because I will do the research necessary during pre-production to make sure that we are in sync.

I don’t think the fact that I am not actually single right now will get in the way of my reality show. The man I live with has a studio out in the front yard. You won’t ever see him. He will be restricted to using the back door to get to the bathroom or the bedroom while we are filming. Plus he gets up early. No one will know he’s around.

Once he is out of the house for the day, the cameras will come bursting into my bedroom. I see a great panoramic shot of me sprawled out on my pastel sheets, my hair splayed gently across the pillows as the dogs leap up to wake me, barking happily, on my beautiful four poster bed. (I am totally going to buy the antique chestnut carved king sized canopy bed with the genuine button tufted Italian leather headboard that is for sale on Ebay for $3569. the very minute I get my first paycheck from my reality show.) My four dogs will obviously play a big role in the show because everyone knows how much my dogs mean to me. But since my actual dogs are not particularly obedient, I will have some better dogs standing in for my dogs on my reality show. They will be nicer looking and will know how to make the kinds of faces on command that make everyone say “aww”.  I have been told I am too dead pan and needlessly esoteric so when something emotional happens, we will  cut to a shot of one of “my dogs,” making a sad or quizzical face.  That will underline how the dogs understand me better than people. And during these “cut-aways” the crew will be able to add a drop of glycerine to my cheeks so that, in the finished edit, a single tear rolls gently down my face.

I will try to make frequent use of a tender smile on my reality show.,

The way a typical episode of my show will work (as if any aspect of my life could be called typical!!) is that after I ‘wake up’ in the morning ‘my dogs’ will bound in to my bedroom and one of them will bring me the newspaper. (If newspapers have all gone under by the time my show starts to film, one of the dogs will bring me an IPAD instead.)  We have now embarked on the hilarious section of the show where you can expect the unexpected as I make astute comedic observations about the day’s’ current events’. Because I am alone in the room, it will seem like I am just adlibbing these remarks. But I will have “help” from as many ‘idea helpers’ as our budget will allow.  Was Brad happiest with Jennifer or Angelina?  Who is Snooki dating?  If anyone still knows who these people are when my show gets on the air, you can bet I will have some really great things to say about them!

There will also be plenty of funny reactions from the dogs in this segment that are certain to “go viral”.on You Tube the next day.  For instance, if I make a remark about swine flu, we will cut to one of the dogs wearing a pig snout!

But the fun is just starting. Probably about ten minutes in to this segment, we hear the door bell ring and uh oh! My best friend Felicity, the psychic/fashion designer that lives next door, will drop by. Since my real neighbors The McShanes have a 9 to 5 job in the restaurant business, the proper casting of my designer neighbor Felicity will be very important.  Fingers crossed that one of the Kardashians will be out of work by the time we get our air date.

As the segment gets rolling, cameras will follow us as we move “the party” in to my cozy state of the art kitchen where Felicity will hold the audience spellbound with celebrity predictions while I make us both a lo- calorie , budget conscious recipe that will appear simultaneously  on our website (and later be featured in a best selling book.)

As you can imagine, Felicity’s special powers always seem to propel us both in to some unpredictable fixes. For example: Imagine how I might react when  Felicity says, in that droll way of hers,  “Wear something nice today! The love of your life will be shopping at Trader Joe’s.”(Possible sponsor? If not check with Albertson’s, Kroeger’s, Ralph’s, Safeway etc.)  But then, before I can find out what time of day true love will occur,  Felicity runs off to give an emergency psychic fashion reading to  one of the Real Housewives of Somewhere !

So I go to all the trouble of getting dolled up and calling in sick at work (at my job as a fashion magazine assistant if we can find someone who will let me assist them) and then driving  all the way to ( market TK) where I have to figure out a way to remain in the store for many hours,  monitoring every man who comes in the front door, always wondering if he is ‘the one.”.  Naturally we will fill the store with our own ‘unlikely suspects’. One guy will be way too young! Another will be way too old or too heavy or else he’s just too ugly! I will shake my head and roll my eyes as we cut to the spinning hands of a clock.  Well! Needless to say I am pretty ticked off after wasting all day hanging around a damn super market and meeting no one except the attractive store manager, Keith, who is already engaged. Darn the luck.

By the time I am driving home,  I am hopping mad.  I think I’d better confront Felicity and let her know how her stupid predictions totally ruined my day. I figure she must be out at one of the many super hot Hollywood night spots where we are both regulars. (note: We will definitely know what a few of these are by pre- production.)

So I throw on one of my perfect little dressy outfits topped off with a pair of my many five inch sling backs.,( which will also be for sale on our website. And by this time I will not only have learned how to walk in stilettos but will also have taken enough dance lessons that I can cross promote the show with an appearance on Dancing with the Stars. ) Then I will pin my  blonde hair up on top of my head , ( I will be  blond on my new reality show. Also I will get breast implants and liposuction!) and to the throbbing rhythms of the hottest new hip hop song we can afford (or a song by John Mayer  or some other guy who will cut a deal in exchange for publicity)  I will get out my I Phone (possible sponsor?) and call a few of my friends.  Look out! We are ready for action!  (Since I know that my real friends are getting kind of old for my core demographic, on my reality show they will be replaced by some “new friends” who are recognizable “types.”  For example, my dear friend Sue will be played by a  mixed race twenty something girl who teaches stripper-polercizing classes . She and I hate each other. But we also love each other.  So every week who knows what will happen!)

Right after the last commercial break of episode one, we will go to a close up of me as I reapply my lip gloss. The tension builds. And then in a medium shot, set to  whatever power ballad we can afford,  I burst through the doors of the (name tk) club totally ready to give that so-called friend Felicity what for! Still, how could I ever be prepared for what I see?  There at a table in the center of everything is Felicity, in a low cut dress, pouring champagne and toasting my old boyfriend Gunther.  Gunther! Who I haven’t seen since he broke my heart six months ago! Gunther, who the audience knows all about because he is in the opening credits! I had no idea until right now that he and Felicity even knew each other!   My old boyfriend! My best friend!  I hate them. I love them.  Knife in my heart! Tears in my eyes.  End part one.

Of course everyone will be back next week to see what happens!  Set that tivo right now! Especially after they play the teaser for episode two, where we  see me outside another club searching for my valet parking ticket. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me right behind me in line is an impossibly attractive guy.  I am trying to ignore him because he is so not my type. Or so I think. But somehow I can not help but hear him talking on his cell phone complaining that all the girls he has met at this club are just too young and shallow.  And then, uh oh, when I am trying to pay the valet, I drop my purse. And  this gorgeous guy squats down to pick it up. We practically bump heads, then look in to each others eyes and :BOING . It is Keith! The store manager I met at Trader Joe’s! Was Felicity’s prediction right after all? Was I wrong to get mad at her? But if I hadn’t, then I would never have known about Gunther!!

Can it ever work out between me and Keith? We are from two different worlds! He is blue collar. I am from the arts. Oil and water.  Or so the tabloids will be buzzing.  The ladies on The View will all have something to say. The whole world will want to know what I am going to do.  But my viewers have a feeling that somehow it will work out because my viewers all know that on my reality show, I always put them first.  All my stories will be based on research about the kind of things my core demographic thinks might happen to them.

My reality show will definitely take the country by storm because,as my viewers all  know,: nothing is more compelling than real life.

Also, there will be vampires.


Celebrating the 4th with my Obit Collection

Posted July 3rd, 2010
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Its the 4th of July and I am still in the middle of a rewrite of this new book of essays.  I’ve been at it so long I am not sure if I am writing in English.

I was going through my notes and came to another piece that never made it out of the gate.  It was going to be about  my collection of obituaries.  I read them because I like seeing whole lives summed up in a couple of paragraphs.   Only about one in thirty has what it takes to get me to tear it out of the paper. But I just added one to the collection yesterday: Bill Aucoin, the one time manager of Kiss. In addition to his KISS legacy , he left behind this memorable  quote which he offered as advice to one of his other bands :”Well, you know you need to check what the wind is like if you’re gonna drop cereal from the helicopter because those Froot Loops could fly up into the propellers.” Seems like pretty good advice in general.

What I do, after I tear them out, is paste them in to a little book full of other obits I have saved. For instance: Thomas Soffron, the creator of Howard Johnson’s  ‘Clam Strips’ and James Jordan, the advertising man who coined the phrase “Zest-fully clean.” each have their own pages.  When I was in grade school, I used to contemplate that Zest commercial, which went “You’re not fully clean until you’re Zest-fully clean.” I spent a lot of time not feeling fully clean because of that guy.

Then there is the obituary of Joyce Carlson who wrote the song “It’s a small world after all” for the Disneyland ride of the same name. Her’s was a song that made me feverish, hysterical, afraid of being trapped forever in this motorized lagoon having to listen to those dolls clickety clacking up and down in place with their scary twilight zone dummy smiles for all eternity as I swam frantically from  my boat, searching for the exit but not finding it,  seeing only madness and agony ahead as I listened to yet another chorus of the song. .  But despite the effect her awful song had on me,  Joyce Carlson died artistically fulfilled. And I love that.

Then there’s  Wanda Toscanini Horowitz: daughter of world renown maestro Arturo Toscanini Horowitz and wife of legendary pianist Vladamir Horowitz.

Wanda T. had my favorite obit ever.  It opened as follows “Wanda Horowitz wore a permanent scowl and was famous for her fiery temper. Once she exploded at a reporter when he asked her about life with Toscanini and Horowitz, her legendary father and husband. She replied “Don’t talk to me about them.  My father made me neurotic and my husband made me crazy.”

Now that’s an obit to be reckoned with.

It goes on: “In an interview shortly before her husband’s death she said “ He was very difficult. For 12 years I heard ” I will never play again. I will never play again” but I kept my silence. I never said “Oh yes, you have to play.” I never prompted him to play.”

If that is what she says in her obituary, just imagine how it must have been in real life when she was probably thinking “So don’t play again. Just stop whining about it.” Oh, and also he was gay. But otherwise it was a perfect 55 year marriage. “Thank God he died before I went to prison for strangling him with my bare hands.”is what she forgot to tell the reporter .

But it gets more intense: “I have my own personality,” she is quoted as saying,” I wish I would have done something for me. I had a lovely small voice. I can act because I have a very severe face but I can be very funny. I have a great sense of humor. I was thinner then I am now and I used to dance very well. I was not bad looking. What more do you want? I could have done a little bit of dancing or singing to be, you know, an operetta singer.

If it hadn’t been for that damned legendary father of hers, Arturo Toscanini, who spooked her in to giving up hopes of being a performer even tho she was the most musically talented of the Toscanini family. “I remember I used to play an upright piano,” she recalls in her obituary, ” and on top of it there sat a photograph of my father. Young. Dark hair. Dark eyes. It made me so nervous I couldn’t look at him. I was afraid to practice when he was home. Every time I made a mistake it was like a stab in his stomach.”

Poor Wanda T.    I’m sorry she’s not around so I could go over to her house and film her performing her  operetta. Or at least  cheerlead her in to going to a few auditions. Talk about a cautionary tale.  I should write something about her. Although I guess I just did. Anyway, Happy Independence Day, whatever that means at this point.

love merrill