Saturday, January 12, 2008

The only people blowing in idiot wind are those who don't like I'm Not There

I finally got around to seeing I'm Not There tonight, and it was probably my favorite movie of 2007. It follows six different characters that all represent a different characteristic and life stage of Bob Dylan. I went in not knowing much about Bob Dylan, and I came out knowing even less. But that's not the point of the movie. Don't go expecting to see a biography of an artist. No one in the film is even named Bob Dylan. One of the actors meant to portray him is a 10 year old black person. For me, despite the obvious plot parallels and the fact that it was scored by mostly Dylan songs, the film was less about Dylan than it was about artistic expression and the evolution of music in a highly politicized era: then again, no one stands for that more than Bob Dylan. The irony, of course, being that he was the least complicit icon of that time: when someone called him folk he plugged in his guitar and played electric. He was a true rebel, refusing to conform in any way that might remotely cater to the media or his adoring public. And while the film captures this spirit, it was the cinematography that I was most taken with: drawing on influences from both Godard and Fellini, director Todd Haynes accomplishes something innovative and beautiful in both a traditional and nontraditional sense. By chopping scenes and using both black and white and color film, the movie seems more like a poem than anything else: it becomes a synthesis of words, images and music that strings together fact and fiction and six character portraits seamlessly to create a coherent picture of the life of an American music icon.

Also, Cate Blanchett is fucking awesome in it. She was more Dylan than Dylan himself.

I highly recommend this film. GO SEE IT.

-Jess

An Open Letter to All Gay Men


I posted this on Facebook but why the hell not.

Gentlemen:

I get hit on every so often. It's not like I walk down the street and get three phone numbers on my way to Whole Foods, but it's happened enough to the point where I sort of know what to expect.
For some reason, the gays in Chicago are a little more, er, forward about their crushes. Especially as Courtney and I went shopping along the Magnificent Mile, I noticed guy after guy taking notice of me. Some of these guys were cute; some were creepy. Of course, I wasn't going to make any plans for a date, since I was in town for just a week. But now that I'm back in the city, I mean...I'm available, is what I'm saying. Great, now this got awkward.
Back to my point. Wanna be cute and not creepy? Well, there are some things you should know. Guidelines to follow. A perfect excuse for a Facebook note!
Read and take notes, boys. The test is on Friday, and no, it's not open-book.

1. Work at a store? That's great, but your obligation to ask me for assistance does not give you the right to follow me around said store and stare at me as I pick out jeans. Seriously? It's weird. It's weird and it makes me uncomfortable, and the last thing on my mind when you do that is striking up conversation. Also, it's not good for business, because when I feel pressured by a sales associate, my first impulse is to just leave the store. So. Say hi, ask me how I'm doing, and let me know where the sales are. Other than that, keep your distance. If I need your help, I will ask you. If I want to talk to you more, I'll come up to you.
1a. The ONLY exception to this rule is if you actually have something interesting to say. Like, if I'm looking at a shirt and a celebrity just bought it the other day, or if you can see I'm struggling to find the price tag (because I'm a huge Jew), or if you catch me staring at you, which isn't nearly as creepy as you staring at me because as the laws of business teach us, the customer is always right.

2. Just because I'm at a club does not mean I'm looking to go home with somebody. Guys, don't sit next or dance next to me, say hi, and expect me to hang out with you the entire night. If I want you, I may be a little too shy to come up to you, but you'll know. I'll make it clear I enjoy your company. But listen, guy-who-only-wears-Diesel: it's great that you've got money and that you're friends with the people who run the party. I'm flattered that you think I'm cute and want to talk to me. But if you sit and start asking me how old I am or where I'm from or what my sexual fetishes are, I am under no obligation to answer you.
2a. Buying me a drink is a sweet gesture, especially because I don't like spending money. That said, again: buying me a drink does not equal me going home with you. If I'm into you, it's not because you have another seven bucks to spare. If I'm not into you and you buy me a drink, I mean...thanks. We can chat for a few minutes, but honestly, I'm just trying to be polite.
2b. Hey man, you're a player. I can see that. I can see you walking around the dance floor, hitting on everything with a penis. I can see guys feeling uncomfortable by your advances all over the place! And I can also see that you're just really horny, probably drunk, and definitely an idiot. You know what's not a turn-on? Being your third choice. If you want me but you're also into other guys, at least try to not make it so obvious that you're just looking to get some. I'm not some name your can check off your list.

3. So, okay, I accepted your friend request even though I don't know who you are or how you could possibly know me. In fact, you probably don't know me, and only found my page by browsing someone else's friends. You just seem like a nice and not-weird guy, so I don't wanna reject your request, even though I pretty much have every right to. My acceptance of your Facebook friendship, however, does not mean that it's okay for your to message me or IM me, because see that dark spot a few miles back? Yeah, that's the line, and you long since crossed it. Besides, if you're really that desperate for a date that you'll try to talk to people you've never even met, well...that's not exactly scoring you any points in my book, now is it?
3a. It's extra-creepy if you're out of college. I've gotten with older guys before, but seriously, Mr. Community-College-Alum-05, what are you doing trolling around the Internet looking for boys who can't legally drink? And that picture of you drunkenly smiling while your three fag buddies chug Stella in the background is hardly attractive. In fact, it's sad, and I kind of pity you. But not enough for a date. Sorry, chief.

4. (I can't believe I have to include this one.) I live a block away from The Cock. If you don't know, The Cock is the trashiest of all trashy gay clubs, open seven nights a week. When I am walking home from the Lower East Side at four in the morning, it is not uncommon for me to pass by the Cock on my way to my dorm. Cock-ers, I understand if you want to stare as I walk along; and yes, sometimes there's a really cute piece of eye candy smoking outside and I get my fill. But that's where this ends, got it? No, I do not want to talk to you. No, I do not need a cigarette. No, I do not want to come inside. I don't care how drunk you are--get it through your meth-addicted head that the reason I didn't go The Cock this evening is because I didn't want to deal with people like you. And now I'm being forced to. And no, I'm not turned on; I'm pissed off. Thanks.

5. Finally, if we're at a dorm party or other location where large groups of people my age can socialize, and you think I'm cute, well...come up to me. Say hi. I know I've just sounded kind of mean and antisocial throughout this note, but I mean, we go to the same school, so how bad can you be? I don't have the guts to approach guys I find cute, but I'll be impressed if you do. I can't tell you how many times I've kicked myself for not asking this boy for a light or that boy for the time; yes, those are tired tricks to start a conversation, but it's better than nothing, right? So come on. The worst I do is not be interested, but I'm not the type to shut you down right away, because again, I give you credit for even coming up to me, and the least I can do is give you a shot.

Ugh. Valentine's Day is in a month and two days. Bust out the wine and Prozac, kids; it's gonna be a cold season.

Love,
Josh

Attention all straight males with superiority complexes

This is me fellating a champagne flute. Don't get any ideas... or do.

So. The guy I was dating is leaving next week for London for four months. This means I need a new boyfriend. Here's my type:

1. Arrogant, but not fratty. Please no bros from brolando who want to talk about football and bitches they've boned and nothing else.

2. Treats me like shit but sometimes doesn't.

3. Is ok with me having strong opinions on the following topics:
-Women's rights, including sexual and reproductive health rights
-Anti-shitty writing
-Vegetarianism

4. Emotionally unavailable: knows the importance of give and take and take and take and take.

5. Wants to have sex a lot. Like, a lot.

6. Can appreciate an expensive restaurant but also is okay with the fact that 90% of the time we're going to end up ordering delivery and watching TV shows canceled at least a year ago or more.

7. Appreciate fashion without being a gay boi hottie. I have enough of those in my life.

8. An angry writer-type would be best. Don't be an alcoholic. Smoke lots of pot but don't put drugs above me, because I need to be able to have that option open. Write poetry about me but when I ask to see it get defensive and pretend it's not about me.

9. Pay me compliments and then pretend you were joking but do it in a way that I know you were serious.

10. Be in school. Be smarter than me. Be tall. Be able to have a conversation about Nas and Lindsay Lohan and Nietzche all at the same time. Be sexually adventurous. Keep me guessing. Don't wear baggy jeans. Pay for things without being misogynistic. Like my friends. Enjoy "Gossip Girl," or at least pretend to for my sake. And lastly: don't move to Europe.

If you or anyone you know fits any of these descriptions please contact me ASAP. I will be snuggling with Josh and secretly wishing he liked va-jay-jay until then.

Thank you,
Jess

PS: I can also do classy things with champagne flutes, okay???

Suburban Malaise Day 4


This is my fourth day in the suburbs and I am doing better than I thought. My sister and I have only gotten into one physical fight. My dog is still cute, and hasn't caused me too many allergic reactions. My dad has been giving me a lot of money and we have 4 different kinds of tea for me to indulge in.

So far I have read:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (awful, especially since The Kite Runner was so amazing)
Chuck Klosterman IV by Chuck Klosterman (not bad, asserts his opinions like the guy who replaced me with London)
The New York Times Magazine: January 10th Issue

So far I have seen:
Countless episodes of CSI Miami, Intervention, Law and Order: SVU, and The First 48
The entire 2nd season of Entourage
Paris, Je T'aime (disappointing)

So far I have consumed:

I am going back to New York tomorrow. I hope everyone is surviving. Expect more interesting posts by next week.

-Jess

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I am Legend: If 28 Days Later Met Jesus Camp... kinda

While visiting the (ex)boyfriend in Virginia, we decided to see a movie. I wanted to see The Kite Runner, and he wanted to see Sweeney Todd, so we compromised on I am Legend. The movie was filmed outside of my dorm freshman year, so I went to see if maybe I was in the background of any scenes bitching about how the flood lights shone directly into my room for two months straight (I wasn't).

But the movie was surprisingly good. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. I think Will Smith is a great actor, but the premise of the movie sounded way too much like 28 Days Later (which I loved) to take it all that seriously. But it did end up having a pretty profound effect on me. SPOILER ALERT: The dog dies. I won't say how or when or why, but basically I sat in the theatre sobbing for 15 minutes afterwards while Justin tried to pat my head affectionately. All of New York City had been wiped out and I weeped when the dog died. Does this make me crazy?

Anyway, there are a lot of religious undertones in the movie that made it a little unenjoyable for me.

First of all, just before Robert's (Will Smith) family evacuates New York City, they hold hands and pray. We're led to believe that the disease hasn't killed all hope yet, that God is not yet dead. By the end of the movie, however, Robert is heard screaming about how everyone he's ever known is dead and gone, and there is no God, because God wouldn't let something so tragic happen. It's the human condition that let this crippling disease rip across the world, not God. And so when Robert is on the brink of death, he is suddenly saved by a latina woman named Anna (Alice Braga). The first thing you see is a flash of light, and the rosary hanging from her rearview mirror. Anna is the Christ figure, flooding the darkness with light, trying to give some hope to Robert in a world that is ultimately hopeless. In order to cement this fact, she wears a cross around her neck, and talks incessantly about a survivor's colony in New Hampshire that can help them start the world over again. So when Robert sacrifices himself in order to save Anna and give her the cure to the disease, she represents the importance of maintaining hope and faith in God, despite the circumstances. The play on dark/light (the zombies cannot go into the light without getting burned) further solidifies the religiosity of the movie.

I can understand the religious symbolism; for a movie that so deeply resembles 28 Days Later, they needed something to keep it from becoming eerily similar. Despite the Christian shit, it was still an unexpectedly good film. Will Smith looks damn fine in it, too.

-Jess

Monday, January 7, 2008

Breaking news: Rich kids are assholes!


Today, New York Magazine released an article about the growing super-rich class, and the impact all those dolla dolla billz are having on the bourgeois youth.

Wow, NY Mag! You continue to shock and awe me with your brilliantly refreshing take on today's news. No one else has their fingers on the pulse of both culture and subculture quite like you, NY Mag. It never even occurred to me that money can birth bad people.

Oh, wait. Yes, it did. I can't help but have this strange distaste for the uber-wealthy. And it seems history is on my side. Here's a list of rich assholes off the top of my head, just from the 20th century:

1) Brandon Davis - remember when he called Lindsay Lohan poor?
2) Almost everyone in Igby Goes Down: I mean, his wealth is what took him down, hence the title of the film!
3) Speaking of Igby, how about the book that the film was loosely based off of? Anybody remember Catcher in the Rye? Holden Caulfield is the archetype for rich, fucked up asshole.
4) Lou Reed - I mean, I love him, but guy's a total dick.
5) Watch My Super Sweet Sixteen and glimpse the downfall of America's youth, bathed in glitter and wearing tiaras emblazoned with a diamond-encrusted number 16.

This is just random famous people, too. I can't tell you the amount of rich no-name people I've met who have been utter assholes. Of course, there are always those nice rich people who donate to charities and do good things, but in my experience (growing up in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, and now living in SoHo), a lot of rich people have a sense of entitlement that lends itself neatly to assholery. Not having to work for a living will do that to you. But maybe that's just my bitter-attend-school-full-time-while-working-25 hours-a-week self speaking.

At any rate, I maintain that New York Mag needs some new writers and some new ideas. I'm tired of reading about rich people and their rich problems. God, I can feel the rage of the creative underclass surging within me as I write this.

-Jess

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jobs before slobs

Good news from CNN:

Young women are choosing their careers over future husbands.

That means no more MRS degrees. I think I just heard a collective sigh of resignation from state schools everywhere.

-Jess