the homes of the brave

I didn't do this photo - I wish I did - and while it's gone viral, I can't quite figure out who to credit for it. But all day and night and now, day again, I'm steeped in that image of a BBC reporter pointing to the mist in the sea and saying 'The Statue of Liberty is disappearing.'

But she didn't. She's still standing. And talking on the phone with my friends, in Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Jersey, Long Island.. the courage masked as humour.. and I keep playing this song in my head.

It has renewed meaning to me this morning: in the dawn's early light.

When I think of Katrina, the tsunamis that came without warning.. to think that this time, with such short notice, thanks to the calm authoritative voice of our President, and - by his example - Mayor Bloomberg, the governors of each state - all our elected leaders urging people to be responsible for themselves and also considerate of the 'first rescurers' safety, should they put themselves in harms way.. this is a disaster of biblical proportions, and yet the loss to human life is appearing small in proportion to other disasters. I can't think of a better example in the argument of Government vs The People, that it is the cooperation between the two, that matters most.

There's still a rough road ahead - and we will pitch in and help in any way we know how - but for now, I offer my thanks, at the courage, the dignity and grace, that I saw in my friends, and in people I don't know. People who have inspired me, if and when my time comes, to weather the next storm.


in the dawn's early light

As anyone who lives in a country not of their birth, when something happens back home.. okay, speaking for myself, I'm feeling a bit strange now that I'm not in NY. I'm loving the spirit of my friends, all the people I love, trying (and failing) to find DD batteries, going to dinner, making jokes, being brave, as one friend in Connecticut said: 'washing clothes now so at least my little pioneers will look presentable in the dark' to which another mother replied 'funny, I did the same thing.... clinging to what we can control, right?'

And here I sit: blithely going about my lovely weekend, not knowing until yesterday that Sandy was even that serious - not til the BBC, and Great Britain, decided it was news-worthy - and I'm wishing - sick as it sounds - that I were there. So instead, I call friends, and write on their facebook walls, and google Hurricane Sandy, and what should come up but the information that the Statue of Liberty - which I didn't know was closed for a year for repairs - had her debut opening yesterday, Sunday. For one day, Liberty received only a few guests - the Interior Secretary, and some U.S. Military cadets, and now she's closed again - with her thirty million dollar facelift - to stand tall, head held high, and bravely face the storm.

She is there: standing, beautiful and tall, watching over the city, a towering figurehead at the helm of the ship they call Manhattan, created to symbolise America's courage and strength, through the rockets' red glare.. a week before possibly the most divisive election in her history, it's taking Mother Nature to remind a nation that it's time to lay down their weapons, stand together, and weather the storm.

Sending prayers to all in Sandy's path: please be safe and warm.


off the road

Maybe it's because I was born out West, because I've always been drawn to the idea - and the aesthetic - of the open road.

Not the Wild West of black and white Westerns - that's for boys (although, that said, my husband recently practically forced me to sit down and watch a series of the early John Ford westerns with him, and the cinematography spoke to me: those landscapes, shot in and around Utah, where I spent the first year of my life, are so imprinted on my soul).

So I did get a slight frisson (okay, that's an oxymoron: frisson, pronounced "frēˈsôN", is defined as "a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill", but trust  me, this was only a slight frisson) when I heard they were making a film of Jack Kerouac's iconic novel, On the Road. The first thing that came to mind was an old song I knew from the 70s, from a band named Aztec Two Step that it seemed only a handful of friends - and my boyfriend - knew about. It took me forever to find you a version of the original song on YouTube, so I do hope someone out there plays it all the way through - if only to let me know if you like it half as much as I did - and still do. It's got an energy to it, a certain je ne sais quoi - a frisson.

But as a friend said recently, I, too, was greatly underwhelmed when I read the book in college. It was the late Seventies: all my friends' older brothers and sisters had already done everything there was to be done, and we were doing our best to hold our end of the team up - to be Bad - but come graduation, instead of living on communes and baking bread - another great Aztec Two Step song which I cannot find in its original version - my principled friends and peers were going for jobs on Wall Street, and soon after, it seems, the Reagan Thatcher years had kicked in, and it was all primary colours and red Armani suits with shoulder pads.

And Vivien Westwood, and the Sex Pistols, and in NY, the Mudd Club and CBGBs and Talking Heads and the Ramones.

You've probably heard the story behind the story of how On the Road finally became a film: how Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights in 1979 - right around the time I was playing the song and casting the cutest guys I knew - personally, or in the music world, because then, they were our Gods, not actors, or chefs - but watching the film last week was as much of a let down as reading the book.

And that made me so sad, because the footage - some of the scenery shots, especially - was gorgeous.

So what was the problem? I kept asking myself all through the film - it was easy enough to multi task, follow the plot while carrying on this internal conversation. Yes, the world has changed - yet again, as it always does - and we're at a stage, culturally, where because anything goes, it's hard to shock (a friend's daughter was going off to college and we were talking about what a good relationship she has with her - they can talk about anything - and I said 'well that's because there isn't anything she could do, really, that you guys haven't done' and she thought for a moment and said 'God, I hope not!). 

So there's that: it's hard to see that these people were living, thinking, being, in a way that was completely outside of what was normal to the times: to me, watching the film, they just looked like college students anywhere, perhaps poorer than the average median, playing at being bad. 

And I loved the idea that - after all these years and the long journey that the book has taken to finally be seen on the silver screen - that it went to the brilliant Brazilian director Walter Salles. Because Brazil is a place where the context of being 'counter culture' has more relevance. And he's a great director.

And STILL it didn't work.

So it comes down, for me, to the casting. The two Kristens - Stewart and Dunst - wonderful. Perfect. Sam Riley was good enough as Sal Paradise: that's the role of the Friend, which isn't easy to play in any film, but as long as you keep your mouth shut most of the time, and look either sad, outraged, pitying, or happy - depending on the mood of the moment - and don't draw too much attention to yourself, you'll do just fine. Especially if you can do Brood well, as Sam's nailed.

But the problem for me was Dean himself. 

I don't know who Garret Hedlund is, so no offence to him as a person, and I know he did his best, but all I kept thinking is, oh how I wish this was a young Brad Pitt - in his Thelma and Louise days. I just didn't believe that this guy would make the two Kristens so crazy: I was convinced that they were really pissed off at him for being a lyin' cheatin' bastard, but didn't get at all why they couldn't live without him. That power: that charm, charisma, animal magnetism.. just didn't get it. 

(Later - reading up on the history - it seems Coppola did try, many years ago, to do it with Ethan Hawk as Sal, and Brad Pitt as Dean Moriaty, and if only he did it then. Even later on, Billy Crudup and Colin Firth as Dean.. then, the colouring would match the original Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, the author's friend and the model for Moriaty. Apparently Kerouac originally wrote to Marlon Brando, asking HIM to play Dean in the film - and he wanted to play himself, as Sal, which I wish I could have seen: in the photos, Jack Kerouac, the writer, really looks like he'd make a great actor).

So I was watching the film, waiting for it to end, enjoying the ride because after all, my aesthetic, my photography, the way I dress, the fact that I'm obsessed with moving to California, my yearning for the open road, the self portraits I've taken all these years and take, still (altho the top one is by my friend Maryann Kissane, in Tranquility, nearly as long ago as Coppola started trying to get On the Road made.)

And I started thinking of who, if anyone, is alive, young enough to play opposite Kristen Stewart and Kristen Dunst, and has what it takes to make us believe that women - and men - would do anything, ANYTHING, to be within his orbit.

And I can think of only one actor: Robert Pattinson. 

Now THAT would have made a great film.



We were in the car - the UMS car, as we call him, he's old and sweet, like a good dog, and U-M-S is on his license place, hence the name - we were in our neighbourhood, in fact, exploring, on a lovely day. Something happened - some little thing about some car letting him in or not (my husband is always the driver - I'm Maps, the Navigator: we don't use GPS). And he said something about 'people don't let you in until you make eye contact.'

'Of course,' I replied. 'You're not human, until that point. You're your car.'

And we started chatting about how we all see cars - like dogs - as having personalities. A Porsche, for example, is a whole different kettle of fish than a Fiat, say, or a Ford.. or a Range Rover. Just then, a spot appeared, and he slid in. Right across from a shiny vintage Rolls. We left our UMS car - an Audi, more than a decade old, bashed and scratched and showing all the marks of a rich, full life - which we hope will continue - and went on an adventure.

I was thinking, while we were walking, about labels (my friend Sophia's phone chooses 'posh' for Soph on her predictive text). I think I don't buy into that stuff, I like to think I'm above it, but I found a Hermes scarf recently, on the sidewalk - abandoned - and instead of leaving it hanging from a post, in case its owner came back to claim it, I kept it. It's not my most beautiful scarf - it's shades of grey, not very pretty - but it's Hermes. Does that make it better? Does that make me a hypocrite? Do I like it any better because it's made by Hermes?

When we returned, I happened to have my camera, and I peeked inside the Rolls. There, on the back seat, was this ethereal snakeskin print scarf. I pictured its owner: Daisy Buchanan, as played by Mia Farrow. There was something.. lonely, I guess, that I felt, coming off from the scarf. It looked so quiet, in the back of the car.

'Come on Jill, stop farting around,' he said, and I got in the car. But as we pulled away, I sensed - and this is me, once again, anthropormorphising objects, as he says I always do - but I felt, as we left, that our little UMS car was resisting saying goodbye.

Like he hadn't even had a chance to get her license plate number.


all down the line

Even though I haven't gone for two seasons, last night I dreamt I was at Somerset House for London Fashion Week. Really bizarre dream: outlandish costumes, but no one was there to see them.

If you've been here before, you might have seen this shot before (by me, few seasons back) but I really like it - and I don't have a clue who the girl is, I've lost her name - and I just think she illustrates this song so well, which I LOVE, having just seen the documentary of the Stones in the South of France, filming Exile on Main Street, and I've been singing this song in my head all day. Great video, f****g genius, as someone said on the comments, and there was more I was going to do for this post, but my husband wants to watch Homeland On Demand, and when hubby demands.. what can I say, he's the boss.

But if you have a minute - really, you must play this! The editing is brilliant.

Really into black leather biker jackets at the moment - they're perfect for this time of year - and especially because I'm all smitten with a brand called Muubaa. I've just discovered them, but then again I'm slow - my friend Sophia's had hers for a few years now, and she loves it. I wonder if this girl's is Muubaa - I really should have asked her name. I just want everything in their fall line. If anyone can ID either the girl, or the jacket, please let me know.