Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Interview - Mixed Multitudes

Francesca Lia Block changed the face of young adult publishing with her first novel, Weetzie Bat — a book that was mature (both in the “sophisticated” sense and the sense of mature themes) beyond francesca lia block anything else that was being published in the genre of children’s literature at the time, but never lost sight of its primary audience and never stopped being, at its heart, a book about a teenage girl. She’s influenced by imaginary realism writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jeanette Winterson, as well as early film (think Georges Méliès) and the golden age of Hollywood. Weetzie is the tale of a girl whose father (a Jewish immigrant) became an effects man in Hollywood, and whose life starts off surreal and blossoms into a fountain of weirdness.

Francesca Lia Block: Learning to Quake
(Matthue Roth is an excellent author in his own right. I very much enjoyed Never Mind the Goldbergs.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Art in the Heart, Dirt in the Skirt:It's So You edited by Michelle Tea

I like to let the city dress me up in its love. I know it's a good day when I leave my house and by the time I come back I'm wearing a completely different and more bizarre outfit.~Rhiannon Argo, "Art in the Heart, Dirt in the Skirt"

I'm not a very good book blogger. Sometimes, I don't want to writeitssoyou something meaningful--I just want to thrust It's So You: 35 Women Write About Personal Expression Through Fashion and Style in your hands and say "Read it! It's amazing! There's clothes and feminism and it's happy and soulful and incredibly queer friendly. There's a girl with bee shoes and a butch pinup paper doll and and grandmother with a marshmallow dress and Proustian memories of red lipstick and dressing to rock your own fucking world."

This is one of those times.

[My grandmother] loved every detail of dressing herself, and she instilled in me what she considered the important rules of fashion: Don't dress like everyone else; dress to make yourself happy; and once in a while enter your own fantastical world where it's perfectly normal to wear plastic and newspaper...I spent many days fashioning my own creations under her direction--a skirt made into a beehive, complete with beaded bees attached by coil springs, a pair of pants covered with little plastic rabbits and trees, and a long tube dress covered with fuzz to resemble a caterpillar. When I wasn't dressed as part of another world, I wore a sometimes-dizzying array of mismatched colors, prints, and textures.~Debbie Rasmussen, "My Grandma's Attic: Dressing Up and Acting Out"

I've noticed that Michelle Tea picks writers like herself: raw, experimental, but not without humor and quirks of personality. They have dizzying highs and heartbreaking lows and every experience in between, feverish to get the most out of life and living, to make sense of their pasts, to see beauty in ugly things and vice versa.  There are artists, models, many writers, witches, urban professionals, a psychic, a fashion designer, from every creed, color, social strata and gender expression. And the clothes! Oh, the clothes--pink Mode Merr girdles trimmed in rhinestone, a crushed velvet babydoll dress to wear to your first Ani DiFranco concert, a Hawaiian barkcloth dress, and it goes on, with a lot of love for thrift/vintage/DIY style. But more than just personal sartorial histories, each essay meditates on personal style as expression through a feminist lens. It's smart, incredibly readable, and wholly inspiring, just like Michelle Tea herself. So much love, so highly recommended.

Maybe fashion is our way of marking our evolution. I am wearing what I am wearing to help you know who I am and who you are looking at looking at, and most of all, who is looking back. ~Jill Soloway, "Look at Me"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Half-Twisted Twists of Trinity Place


Photo from DiscoverBlackHeritage

Have you ever had a writing project come out of nowhere?

My dear friend Callan and I have a running joke about how we were once a vaudeville act in a past life. (If you've seen us interact in person, you'll know why.) I told the jokes, and she rang the gong. Because sometimes I have whims to write in rhyming couplets, this bit of an inside joke became the start of an adult picture book about how we rose to fame as the Half-Twisted Twists of Trinity Place. Here's a sample!

The Village bohemes had the wildest tricks
In the year of Our Cod, ninteen hundred ought-six
I once heard the tale of exceptional girls,
Wit like a sledgehammer, bon mots like false pearls.
At the corner of Church Street, in a chill garrett loft
They'd fired their latest of agentish toffs.
Rie tired of penning their dreadfuls for dosh
And dreamed of careers with a bit more panache...
"We'll find us a job to which we can admit
And make names for ourselves, we'll be a sure hit!"
Callan pondered, "The name, I suppose is the thing,
Though Faffney Codswallop sure does have a ring."
"I see the bright lights," countered Rie with a sigh,
"There's more to living than paint and peach pie."
"You never complained bout the baking before,
Till you fell for the pie-hating poetess bore."
"Nevermind her, I've got us a plan,
We'll make our own fame,and find you a man!
Our names up in limelight, our act in the Times,
Fans throwing knickers and committing small crimes!"
Callan wondered and thought till her hair held a curl
And said, "What can we do, mere slips of a twirl?"
"That's it!" cried Rie with a hand to her face,
"We're the The Half-Twisted Twists of Trinity Place!"
(As it must be explained: the young twist-and-twirl
Is Cockney for ambitious, naive bohemme girl.)
Rie sobered and said, while grooming Cal's pup,
(Their curls would match before the night's up.)
"We'll need costumes, and sets, and connections, what's more
Everyone in the theatre's a bit of a whore."
"There's a whore in us all," quipped Callan with glee,
"None like fallen dames for unique joie de vive."
"From where do they fall?" asked Rie absently
"Do we have the bread for the booking fee?"
"Oh, fees," said Cal as she gathered her kit
"Let's work on our costumes and practice our bit."

They were models of virtue who'd fallen from grace
The Half-Twisted Twists of Trinity Place

There are two more verses, so far--if you'd like to read it, please toss me an email!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Leaving Shangri-L.A. Reader


Those of you that know me outside of cyberspace are familiar with my "paper livejournals"--the scrapbooks I carried around quite frequently during college, filled with daily ephemera and striking beauty from the hallowed archives of bloglandia and elsewhere.  Owing to my college's generous printout limit, if I found something I loved, I arranged it in an attractive manner and printed it to scrapbook in one of my bag-sized journals (5x7, unlined, preferably spiral bound, medium weight paper--I'm picky). I've fallen out of the habit, but have all sorts of good intentions to start up again; the fall season always inspires me to work on creative things of all sorts.

What went into a Paper Livejournal? Lists, stories, fanfiction, pretty bits, anecdotes, anything inspiring and colorful and a bit magic that caught my eye.  Friends have asked for favorite bits so they could make their own, and now I oblige.

*Inspirational Show Tunes: the story of the ukelele-playing, showtune singing subway protestor from a few years back

*Dance of the Sugar Plum Lesbians: this one speaks for itself. Awww.

*100 Surreal Things that have Happened to Me, by Seanan McGuire. This is famous for a reason: funny, creative, and yes, surreal. On a more serious note, her 50 Thoughts on Writing are incredibly useful.

*Revenge of the Librarians, originally published in The Mag, all about why my future colleagues are badass. Know it, read it, love it.

*Feeling Fae: Glamourbombing as Magical Acts of Revolution: Is it strange that I put academic papers about guerilla art in my journal? This is the best Glamourbombing 101 I've seen thus far.

*Combating Dailyness: an excerpt from my favorite book nobody's ever heard of, Milking the Moon by Eugene Walter.

*How to Transform Your City: by the proprietors of Newmindspace, a performance art troupe

*Becoming an Artist: a retrospective/how-to on how to give your own party inspired by SARK's How to Be an Artist poster.

What about you? What pieces would you add to your scrapbook? What photos, what writing? Inquiring minds would love to know!

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