All things on earth point home in old October: sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.
- Thomas Wolfe
Well, cats n’ kittens, here be mid-October and you know what that means; it’s those last few weeks before holiday madness descends upon the land. Be that as it may, I plan to be elucidating weekly on my pop culture discoveries of the moment from here on in, whether it be a new book or CD or a TV show or a museum or a restaurant, or, perhaps, a movie that I saw when I was 15 that it seems no one has heard of and that I really think you might dig. And without further ado…
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Cupcakes, because why not? So it seems some very twisted souls have come up with a collection of cupcakes inspired by the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which by the way is definitely worth a Netflix lookinto if you’ve never scoped it). Everything from crazy quotes from the book/film to Hunter’s glasses to a smashed cigarette to a drawing of Thompson to a demented clown face to lines of coke next to a rolled up dollar bill and a razor blade adorns these little confections. I think Mr. Thompson would have loved these.
Young Shorpy Higginbotham was a boy who worked the mines in Alabama in 1910. He died in a mine accident in 1928 and his name lives on through the Shorpy website, which does an incredible job of curating vintage photographs. The majority of these amazing images are black and white photographs from the turn of the century that are so amazingly crystal clear it’s really a window into the past. As in this incredible photograph of the Flatiron Building under construction circa 1902. You can also buy large-sized prints from the site suitable for framing, and be sure and get on their mailing list.
Are you crazy about your dog or just crazy? So asks best selling novelist and baby name expert Pamela Redmond Satran in her brand new book Rabid: Are You Crazy About Your Dog Or Just Crazy?, out this week from Bloomsbury Books. States Satran’s tumblr site: I like to think of Rabid as the Jon Stewart of dog books. Or maybe the Rin Tin Tin of people books. This book will amaze and amuse you, and perhaps even frighten you when you see the lengths many of us go to include our furry friends in our everyday lives. Canine vegans? Pet feng shui? Here. Humans who’ve married their pets? Aqui. Dogs and Art; Dog Weddings; Doggie Daycare; martini-shaped doggie treats; all here and more, much more, as well as a fabulous selection of photos of canines in all shapes and sizes.
Little Steven Van Zandt gets Big Man of the Year Award: Tuesday night October 16th the non-profit organization Little Kids Rock celebrates its 10th anniversary of transforming children’s lives by restoring and revitalizing music education in disadvantaged public schools. This year they honor Little Steven Van Zandt with the Big Man of the Year Award at a gala event taking place at the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom. Musicians including Dion, Elvis Costello, Tom Morello, Darlene Love, Southside Johnny, Gary US Bonds, Ruben Blades, and others will gather to tribute Steven’s prodigious musical legacy. Van Zandt also has his own non-profit organization, the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, which was formed in 2007 to provide a groundbreaking music-centered curriculum for middle and high school students.
Losers Lounge take on the Dusty Springfield catalogue at Joe’s Pub: Last weekend the fine, fine, superfine Joe McGinty, the Kustard Kings, and friends addressed the mighty archive of recorded work by one Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien – known to us all as Dusty Springfield. McGinty and psycho-cabaret singer Nick Danger started the LL back in 1993, originally as a piano singalong night in the East Village. Since then there have been over 300 shows honoring the canon of more than 50 different artists. The Dusty show was stellar as usual with a number of great guest singers as well as the formidable Connie Petruk, who brought the house down with the closing number “Son of A Preacher Man.” See them in December when they bring to life the storied career gems of Stevie Wonder.
Women’s Rights and Women’s Health: There’s been a lot of talk about these subjects this election year. This begs the age-old question of why the right wing always feels they have to push their beliefs on everyone else. Why can’t we trust women to know what’s best for their own bodies, their own families? Why does it always have to be this absurd absolutism – which seems to be more suited for a dictatorship or a monarchy, not a thriving democracy? Meanwhile, please read brilliant writer Marge Piercy’s poem Right to Life, which says it all. Here’s just a part of that: I will choose what enters me, what becomes / of my flesh. Without choice, no politics, / no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield, / not your uranium mine, not your calf / for fattening, not your cow for milking. / You may not use me as your factory. / Priests and legislators do not hold shares / in my womb or my mind. / This is my body. If I give it to you / I want it back. My life / is a non-negotiable demand.
The bravery of Malala Yousafzai: Last week the spotlight of the world fell on Pakistan and the shameful actions of the Taliban in attempting to assassinate 14-year-old Malala, a schoolgirl who tirelessly advocated on behalf of the right for girls to be educated in her country. Malala had been on the world stage for quite some time as the voice of Pakistani children, and girls in particular, for resistance against the dangerous extremism rampant in their society. The Taliban threatened her many times and finally made good their threat to try to kill her. She underwent surgery for shotgun wounds to the neck and head and has now been airlifted to a hospital in England. Millions of people all over the world rose up in outrage over the attack on this young girl, including in her home country Pakistan. The UN Special Envoy for Global Education took up the cry I Am Malala and created a website in support of her campaign to outlaw discrimination against girls. When she wakes up – and I say when, not if – young Malala will see how she has transformed the world by her bravery.
Project Runway Season Ten: Those of you who have followed my rants and raves through the years may realize that this is the first Project Runway season in a long time I haven’t blogged weekly about the show for the Huffington Post. Why, you ask? Well…there are a few reasons. One of which is that it’s a huge amount of work – hours and hours of work – for very little return. But more importantly, at least this season, is that the designers are a crashing bore. I don’t know if we’ve been spoiled with our Mondos and our Santinos in the past, but hella the pickings this year are slim. And now that the smoke has cleared and four of them (Fabio, Christopher, Dmitry, and Melissa) are left standing to show at Fashion Week, I have to admit there were whole episodes I just glossed over because of the snore factor. One episode left and we’ll know who the winner is, but based on their three representative looks for the judges this week, I don’t think any of them should make it. Catch the Season Finale this Thursday night October 18th on Lifetime.
The Sound of Cylons: Someone who is calling themselves Saul Tigh uploaded this gem a few days ago to Youtube. It’s a reworking of the Simon and Garfunkel classic to tell the story of Gaius Baltar and his, um, giant fuckup in inadvertently handing the soulless killing machines known as cylons the key to destroying the known world on the brilliant series Battlestar Galactica (I speak here of the remade version which premiered in 2003). It’s hilarious whether or not you’ve seen the series but if you have not, I urge you to check it out. I came to it late; it had been off the air for years when I finally succumbed to the advice of friends who assured me it was one of the best science fiction series of all time. They were right. You can see it on Netflix and rest assured, you will be just like these characters on Portlandia.
Hugh Howey’s series Wool: I fell down this rabbit hole a few months ago thanks to goodreads and I urge you to do the same. Writer Hugh Howey originally created a novelette about a dystopian society trapped inside of a huge silo buried in the ground. No one ever went outside, except the unlucky ones who were thrown out and died a miserable death in the poisoned atmosphere. As cream rises to the top, this self-published story became a massive bestseller, growing to several more novelettes, attracting global attention, and has now been optioned for a potential feature film by Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian. It’s available either in bite-sized chunks or in the Omnibus version. These characters continue to haunt me and the word cleaning will certainly never be the same.
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