lipstick, strong perfume, and bonbons: an ode to femininity?

On the lovely holiday that celebrates all things green, tequila’d, and either frozen/on the rocks (dependent upon personal preference, I go for on the rocks), the unbearably elegant new Chanel No. 5 advertisement was released, starring an especially dewy, luminous looking Audrey Tautou and stunning (aren’t they always) male model Travis Davenport.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who directed Tautou in (surprise) Amelie, the roughly 2 minute, 22 second clip features Tautou riding an opulent Orient Express, only to wash up in Istanbul with a Billie Holiday soundtrack, a gorgeous black jumpsuit that I wish I had the body to pull off, and the same mysterious man.

Commercials like this make me want to dive into a pool of womanly delights (and invest in some serious couture).  However, the moment I’m about to spray myself with copious amounts of flowery, musky fragrance, I find myself cringing. I put down the perfume bottle and, instead, find a way to make myself more “like the guys.” Why am I so afraid to let my inner girl show?

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love in a pub

A few nights ago I headed over to Scandinavia House with my friend Emilia of Beyond Bedford fame for a night of new music videos from northern lands (for the record, Emilia is the one with the Scandinavian blood). Sandwiched somewhere between videos from indie-rock names like Peter Bjorn & John, El Perro Del Mar, and The Raveonettes was the following fine, fine example of awesome.

“Love Messages From Overseas”–LEONCIE

This is Leoncie. She is from Iceland. She is an Indian Princess. She plays all of her own instruments. She directs her own (fantastically cheesy) music videos. According to her YouTube page, her music is a “lovely range of Aggressive and yet Sensual Melodies that touch your soul.” Other fine titles in her repertoire include “Love in a Pub,” “Sex Crazy Cop,” and “Man! Let’s Have Fun.” The best part about all of this is that she is completely serious. No touch of irony whatsoever. She is who she is, tight sparkly spandex and all, and she celebrates it with gusto.

And what was the only video that got a thunderous round of applause at Scandinavia House? No, not the critically lauded indie darlings. Yes, it was Leoncie.

she's icy and spicy.

she's icy and spicy.

I recommend “Sex Crazy Cop” if only for its refrain of “ooooh, cheap sex.”

See more of Leoncie’s talent at her YouTube page.

The Fruit Fly

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Courtney Nichols would like you to know one thing: she is a fruit fly, not a fag hag. She’s felt a natural draw to the gay community since her childhood in Monterey, Calif., where her nanny virtually “raised her around drag queens.” About a year ago, she launched fruitflylife.com as a space to hash out her place between the gay and straight worlds. Now, her web site mixes gay pop culture with personal anecdotes, all told from a hip, honest, and exuberant point of view. This year, she was the first straight female ever hired by Out magazine. Now, the 20-year-old Lower East Sider is prepping to graduate from The New School with a degree in Arts in Context. Come fall, she’ll head out west to attend her own personal Harvard, the San Francisco Art Institute.

Okay, give me the Courtney Nichols bio in brief.

Essentially, I was raised with the notion to fuck the system up. That’s why I moved to New York.

What’s the difference between a “fag hag” and a “fruit fly”?

A fag hag follows her gays. A fruit fly leads her gays.

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This Is A Public Service Announcement

Approximately a week and a half ago, the most devastating thing that can happen to an Internet addict (like yours truly) happened: my three year old white Macbook (her given name was Lolita) died. Yes. My Lolita. Complete hard drive failure. There was nothing my good friend on the Apple Care line could do about it, no matter how I let my sobs ring through the phone line. I was going to have to surrender my lovely piece of technology to the fine folks of Apple Computer, where they’d perform the computer equivalent of a quadruple bypass on it, replacing the old hard drive with a shiny, spanking new one.

Now, this normally would not be a big deal if you are a reasonably intelligent person who takes the reasonably intelligent step of periodically backing up everything on your computer. Me? I am not reasonably intelligent. I barely had anything backed up, save my gazillions of photos I took when I was in Europe last semester. And I only stuck those on CDs because my mother naggingly insisted so. I tempted the Computer Gods, my silly immortal twentysomething voice taunting them with a “no way are you going to make MY lovely Macbook crash.” Looks like they had the last laugh.

So what did I lose? A lifetime’s worth of old “This American Life” episodes, a hell of a lot of music files, my extensive collection of photographs of the different angles of Chrissy Hynde’s haircut for reference when I eventually bob my hair, just about every document I’ve written in my three years at NYU, a French New Wave style film I made with some friends in Prague after a few too many Pilsner Urquells, a bootleg copy of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” and countless other digital wonders.

The lesson here is, please, back up your computer’s contents. Seriously. Do it. Do it for my sake. Do it for your sake. Do it for your unborn babies’ sake. Your computer can (and probably will) crash.

And now, to drown your sorrows, I present you with a fine clip from one of my favorite movie musicals, because nothing goes together like self-pity, whining, and Liza Minnelli:

I Love Empire Records

recordstoreday

Heads up: Tomorrow is Record Store Day, that glorious day on which we celebrate the joy of crate-digging at independently owned record stores across the nation (and around the world). The project was founded in 2007 to fete the unique cultural world that is the “record store” (and that is a culture that merits its own anthropological study).  The smell of must co-mingling with plastic wrapping, the sound of an obscure single by some proto-punk band you’ve never heard of blasting over the speakers, the chatter of audiophiles buzzing about the latest re-issues and re-releases–these are just a few of the reasons why I love a good record store.

But more importantly, Record Store Day means great limited-edition LPs and CDs and live performances at participating stores! I’m excited to get my paws on the New Order “Temptation/Hurt” 7″, the Smiths “Headmaster Ritual” 7″, and the reissue of The Talking Heads’ brilliant debut “Talking Heads: 77.” Needless to say, I will be subsisting off of ramen noodles for the rest of the month as I blow my money on these goodies. The complete list of these limited-edition releases is here.

Other Music at 15 East 4th St. (between Broadway and Lafayette Street) will be offering 10 percent off everything in the store from Friday all the way through Sunday, as well as an impressive lineup of in-store DJ sets on Saturday featuring artists like Grizzly Bear, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, and the Raveonettes. This culminates in a live performance by Bill Callahan (with drinks provided by that old faithful Pabst Blue Ribbon). You can check out all of the details of what Other Music’s got planned here.

rob

Rob Cameron and the rest of the crew at Championship Vinyl would definitely approve.

For more info on Record Store Day and to see which stores in your area are participating in the festivities, visit www.recordstoreday.com

The Lady and The Declan Patrick MacManus

I think I may just be in the small minority of people under the age of 35 who actually listen to Elvis Costello. A lot. It’s more than just a healthy appreciation for “This Year’s Model.” I find myself listening to him on my iPod or spinning one of his albums on vinyl at least seven or eight times a week.

This love of the bespectacled “angry young man” is virtually imprinted on my DNA. My father owns just about every single one of his albums that were released from approximately 1977 to 1987. As a precocious tween making the eight hour drive down to Santa Cruz for that hallowed tradition of the “family vacation,” my father would blast any number of Elvis Costello albums. I would sigh rather loudly, roll my eyes as an eleven year old is prone to do, put on my headphones, and turn up The Spice Girls on my Walkman. Nine years later, I see that my father was trying to actually infuse my youthful, defiant ears with an appreciation for one of the greatest musicians of later half of the 20th century.

costello1

I’ll admit that I’m biased. While I respect his later work, I’m almost always listening to that first trifecta–“My Aim Is True,” “This Year’s Model,” and “Armed Forces,” with an occasional dash of “Get Happy!!” or “Imperial Bedroom.”Yes, his tunes blend pop sensibilities like jangling guitar lines and whirling synthesizers with the snarling sneer of the jilted lover and ignored genius. Yes, he’s commendable for trying his hand at every single genre in the record store (with arguably mixed results): Jazz, pop-punk, roots-rock, bluegrass, hell, the man’s even classically scored a ballet adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (here’s to you, “Il Sogno”).

But the reason I keep listening when my peers don’t is his complete understanding of the female psyche like no other male singer-songwriter I know of.

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Pete Hamill

I recently read Pete Hamill’s “Downtown: My Manhattan,” his love letter to his Ozian land that extends from Battery Park City to Times Square, and attempted to exercise my criticism skills my writing out a brief review. I’ll spare you the entire piece and excerpt here the paragraph that hits exactly how I felt about the book right on the nose:

He often re-iterates that New York City is a city full of folks with a pre-eminent sense of “nostalgia.” Hamill, as the consummate New Yorker, especially suffers from this. While its easy for the reader to see and appreciate his deep knowledge of and love for the past through his painstaking use of detail, Hamill risks becoming one of those old curmudgeons who bemoans the current Disney-fication of New York and longs constantly for the “good old days.” This is especially apparent in his chapter on the already over-chronicled heyday of the cappuccino-sipping Greenwich Village “bohemians” (a term so overused that it’s now virtually meaningless). The historical passages in the book are fascinating in the first few chapters, but grow tiring and more confusing as the work goes on. Hamill, who clearly knows his stuff, simply tries to pack too much into 281 pages.

So I was a little tough on him. Mostly I was just annoyed with his pervading sense of “life was so much better back then” nostalgia. However, after the man himself visited my reporting class today, I’ve found that I relate to Hamill and his way of seeing the world much more than I initially thought.
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