"Our most ancient metaphor says life is a journey. Memoir is travel writing, then, notes taken along the way, telling how things looked and what thoughts occurred. . . .This is the traveler who goes on foot, living the journey, taking on mountains, enduring deserts, marveling at the lush green places...as a pilgrim, seeking, wondering." -Patricia Hampl

March 15, 2006

I Heart Blondie: Why Debbie Still ROCKS

I recall the twinge of joy I felt last week upon hearing that my First Lady of Punk Rock, Deborah Harry, was, with her band--in true punk fashion-- inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I'm not one for such museums, and have yet to visit the site in Cleveland. I'm not even sure who really gets to vote musicians in and why they only allow a few in at a time. But I do wear my CBGB shirt with pride, and can tell you exactly where I was when I first discovered what made Blondie so great.

Before the advent of MTv, I was under the impression that Debbie Harry resembled my Barbie doll: you know, the long, blonde locks, impossible body, and perpetual toothy smile. In fact, I probably listened to the first album (see above) a gajillion times while dressing and redressing my barbie, alongside my other girlfriends enjoying the same (retrospectively) tedious activity. My barbie was definitely a lead singer in a rock band, and for all I knew, the Malibu outfit. . .fit the bill.

That was, until the technicolor rocketship burst into cable, and MTv's little cartoon astronaut landed: in my living room. Barbie took a backseat while I watched, with childish awe, the voices I'd only heard on the radio become faces. Faces with bodies that wore fashion with attitude: and they didn't look anything like Barb. How I'd wished, through most of the '70's and early '80's, for the goody-goody blonde, all-American look: until the moment I saw Harry rappin' out Rapture. Ah! What moxy! And the package was anything but goody-goody: it was goody's antithesis, and she wore it like she was born to be bad.

Today, of course, I listen to "Blondie's Greatest Hits" double CD in my car when I need a good pick-me-up. (That staccato, calyspo lead-in to the heart-pumping bass of "Heart of Glass" still makes me want to put on a pair of roller skates.) And heroically, Debbie Harry has not--in true, punk fashion--given in to the implants and botox of other women her age. For this, and her breakthrough from Village Underground to my living room in the 'burbs, I salute Blondie!

Below, a recent review of the band in NYC, from the Village Voice:

Dreaming Out Loud

It's been 17 years since Blondie disbanded, and we're still touched by their presence, dear: Luscious Jackson's street-smart rapture, Madonna's blond ambition, Shirley Manson's scowls, and most recently, Harvey Danger's "Call Me" riffs. WPLJ— the station that sponsored the ticket giveaway to last Tuesday's Blondie reunion show at Town Hall— would probably play "Flagpole Sitta" right next to Blondie's brilliant comeback single, "Maria," a '90s answer to "Dreaming."

"Dreaming" is how founding members Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke, and Jimmy Destri fittingly started the proceedings, with beauty and the beat. The Divine Miss H. was dressed in red and black, sunglasses, and the stare from the cover of Parallel Lines, while the boys (including newbies Paul Carbonara on guitar and Lee Fox on bass) were outfitted in leather. Dreaming, dreaming is free.

The band basically stuck to radio hits and some CBGB favorites, with "Shayla" and "Union City Blue" being the surprise selections. Harry's voice soared heavenly through both as if she were lifting the song's characters out of their blue- collar factory worlds and into power, passion. But where the New Wave Queen Bee really ruled was in songs like "Rip Her to Shreds" and "One Way or Another," where her deeper, wiser lower register added grit and sassiness. Her tenure with the Jazz Passengers paid off with "In the Flesh" and the new album No Exit's film noirish "Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room," which went from new wave to no wave when a gold lamé jacketed James Chance joined them on saxophone. In a bizarre colliding of worlds, imagine Chance on VH-1, which was taping the concert. ("James Chance never won a Grammy but he certainly stirred things up in the Village!")

This dynamic played itself out in the crowd as well. Headsets, clipboards, and laminates mingled with soccer moms, office clerks, pink-haired drag queens, New York dollbabies, and new wavers with old buttons: "Blondie is a band." One woman in the audience did a T-shirt striptease, starting with the "No Exit" shirt and ending with AbFab's Patsy, which proves that all things fabulous lead back to Blondie. — Sara Sherr

March 08, 2006

Don't Even Tell Me You Don't Watch This Show

pic_eps_rate_daniel_v_ep9Anyone who even remotely or subconsciously enjoys watching the window displays in Banana change multi-seasonally will appreciate, almost as much as I do, the infuriatingly-indulgent reality show Project Runway (on Bravo).

Judged on their creativity will impossible fabrics (such as plants), impossible time constraints (is it 12 hours?), and very little money, the indefatigable contestants vie for the kudos of fashion royalty, including Michael Kors. Heidi Klum, the executive producer and general host of the program, takes the designers on a rollercoaster runway ride of high seams, low lines, scoring their laudable creations with as little enthusiasm as a journalist--a smug, Euro journalist, that is. Good thing she is so damned pretty, or the snitty comments she makes wouldn't seem so cute. (Note here that most episodes of Project Runway were shot while Klum was in her last few months of pregnancy--and dammit, she STILL looked hot.)

Tonight is the finale, and there seems to be a lack of betting going on around the office--nary a fantasy "fashion designer" game on the net.

I want Daniel V. to stich, baste, weave, taper, and snip the competition away: I heart Chloe, and Santino's heartbreakingly fragile and talented, but I'm pulling for the kid. Any takers? You win: we go to a fabulous lunch and pretend we're svelte models; I win: new heels.