Big Stinky Apple

StinkyLulu joins you today from the road, or the circle, as the case may be. Columbus Circle, in fact, in the hot hazy humid glamor of New York City.
Presently, StinkyLulu's trying to be patient sitting in the cushy Special Collections Reading Room of the glamorously remodeled New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. (See: there are some boxes of "special manuscript materials" that StinkyLu asked for yesterday, which were to have arrived today, and they did actually arrive to the library facility; however, those "special manuscript materials" are presently sitting on the dock of the loading bay wayaysting time while someone's at lunch. Ah well. You know how those New Yorker's get about their food.)

So, StinkyLulu turns to you, lovely reader, to offer a brief account of NYC where MrStinky & Lu arrived this past weekend to join MrStinky's many brothers for a fantabulous Father's Day feast of lasagna & filial devotion. But that seems nearly a gazillion years ago... So here are some highlights of the last 4 days:

:: Saw Mad Hot Ballroom at a ghettoplex -- an urban subspecies of a googaplex -- in MrStinky's homeland (Staten Island). Amazing & sweet movie. Too bad the sound of the theatre disintegrating from within made it sometimes hard to hear the movie...

:: MrStinky took StinkyLu to Coney Island for the first time. Neato. Gritty grimy gorgeous -- just as a pubic beach should be. On the boardwalk, a mural of The Warriors was just down from an event/attraction that offered the chance to "Shoot the Freak!" (blast paintballs at a skinny young man dodging through a maze of broken refrigerators and other detritus). Just as it should be.

:: Played pictionary with a buncha MrStinky's nearest/dearest/oldest friends. The Stinkys won o'course.

:: Stayed for (thankfully) one night at a glamorous place on the upper west side: The Mount Royal Hotel, perhaps more appropriately appreciated as a hostel. One would certainly become hostel staying there more than one night. Badumdum. Complete with cold running water (it might warm up if you let it run long enough) and shared bathroom with cigarette butt accents/floor treatments. Niiiiiiiiiiiice. But try & beat that price!

:: And lotsa real good eatin'!
Breakfast at Cafe LuluC in Brooklyn.
Lunch at Nathan's on Coney Island -- best hot dog ever.
Thin crust pizza from pizzabolla on the upper west side.
Breakfast at SaraBeth's with a college friend of StinkyLulu's (& her twin seven year old sons) -- amazing french toast & brilliant preserves.
And that's just two days into the adventure...
Tonight promises the big fancy dinner of the trip at Blue Hill with afrofuturist, his partner & a friend of MrStinky's. Itsa hot time in food city tonite!

SO: The city's good.
The food's better.
And StinkyLu's "special manuscript materials" are still not here.
Gotta love NYC.


Mid School Girls Gone Wild

It's always fun (in an infuriating kind of way) to have a sexpanic unfold before one's eyes (or ears). Well, that happened today. See, on Wednesday, StinkyLulu drives around ABQ, delivering a local free rag to fine local establishments. This, of course, means that -- on Wednesdays -- StinkyLulu listens to a lot of talk radio. This Wednesday, the following story was burning up the local airwaves... (It's pasted in its entirety cuz it's not available yet for linkage.)

Police Say Porn Taped at Mid-High School

By Michael Davis
A trio of students are being investigated for making a pornographic videotape at Rio Rancho Mid-High School during their lunch hour last month. "We are conducting an investigation of a video that was made at the mid-high, allegedly made near the end of the school year," Department of Public Safety spokesman John Francis said. "The tape was allegedly made by students." He said he could not reveal more details because the case remains under investigation. According to a Sandoval County sheriff's supplemental narrative, two female students were caught kissing and engaging in other sexual acts during second lunch hour. They were being videotaped by a male student. The students' ages were not available; the mid-high serves eighth- and ninth-graders. "There weren't any adults involved, but it's still pornography," Sheriff John Paul Trujillo said Tuesday. Sheriff's deputy Joe Harris said he was called to assist Rio Rancho Mid-High's school resource officer Joe Chavez with a situation involving a very irate parent, the supplemental report says. The parent was upset because her daughter was caught participating in a lesbian sex video, the report says. When the woman asked her daughter how long she had been engaging in lesbian acts, the girl replied "since sixth grade" because her mother didn't let her go out with boys, the report says. Assistant principal Donna Stotts told the woman that some students had video cameras because they were doing a project for journalism class, according to the report. Stotts told the woman the tape and camera in question had been locked in a desk and would be turned over to Rio Rancho police as evidence. Rio Rancho Public Schools spokeswoman Kim Vesely confirmed Tuesday an incident involved students videotaping inappropriate behavior, and that it resulted in suspensions. Vesely said she could not comment further because it is a disciplinary incident. No charges have been filed at this time. But Sandoval County District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said the incident could result in felony charges for violations of New Mexico's Sexual Exploitation of Children statute, even though the students are minors. Rio Rancho Deputy Police Chief Steve Shaw said that once the investigation was complete, the file would be sent to the state Juvenile Probation Office to determine whether charges will be filed. (Copyright 2005 Albuquerque Journal)

So. The citizens of the greater Albuquerque area were all aflutter about this -- using this situation as a springboard for righteous pronouncements about all society's ills: public schools are a menace; whatsamatter with kids today; those hollywood degenerates; homosexuality is ruining this country; when did schoolgirls start offering hummers... The usual.

What astonished (& riled) the Lulu was that the girls were demonized as slutty perverted lesbos while the boy was either not mentioned at all or dismissed as 'just doing what boys do' (like your voice cracks & then you start filming sex acts). But as things went on, the whole fandango became an example of how this culture uses "sex acts" to describe identity without even being able to name what those "sex acts" are. Rather than interpreting this incident as an example of teenage girls using their sexuality to "act out" and gain the attention of boys, the moralistic handwringing emphasized how Paris Hilton & hip-hop culture has turned girls into sluts. Never mind that this sounds like a midschooler filming his own entry into the hugely successful "Girls Gone Wild" video ouevre. Never mind that one radio host spent his morning breathlessly grilling 13-14 year old callers on the details of sexual behavior they had witnessed at their school. Never mind that another whined for hours about how girls never hummed when he was in school. And the only local female host clucked squeamishly wondering when 14 year olds started being lesbians. (Like two babydykes in love would do anything in front of a teenboy's camera.)

Ironically, the last time this school was in the news it was when they suspended a kid for trying to stop his own farting. And when Dick Cheney spoke there the same week his daughter Mary's lesbianism became a campaign issue.

But now, it's the week of the Jackson verdict, and the continuing obsession with that missing Aruba girl, and stories like this continue to enthrall the masses. No harm, right? I mean, it's not like there's a war going on or anything...


Betty does it again...

Once again, StinkyLulu turns to Betty Bowers for the most useful & precise comment on the day's events.

Ain't It the Truth!

Perez Hilton on the answer to all life's problems: Pork & Cheese.


His Miss Bancroft & Her Mister Brooks

It's always risky to link to an article in Salon but Criticlasm sent this one earlier. It's a really sweet & poignant ode to the long lovely romance of Anne Bancroft & Mel Brooks, whose 4-decade hollywood marriage is legendary.

The other day, Inez shared that a customer at the bookstore went on a whole jag about how she couldn't believe that a great serious actress like Anne Bancroft would marry someone "like that" & that her career suffered it. Inez wuz all: "Whutevah!"

So, StinkyLulu's gonna post links about the great love story of Bancroft/Brooks. Should you spy any, bring 'em on! If you don't believe in big hollywood love stories, StinkyLulu'll be all: "Whutevah!"

Rosie on Miss Bancroft & Mr. Brooks



Meet MissDaisy*: The StinkyPuppy...

Yesterday, StinkyLulu picked up PapaStinky's new little buddy. A friend of StinkyLu needed to find a home for this Chihuahua/Dachschund cross & StinkyLulu knew right away how perfect she would be for PapaStinky.
But spending the night with MissDaisy has brought StinkyLu's doglust out hard &, for an extended series of moments, StinkyLulu strongly considered stealing this little snarfler. Perhaps another poochie will arrive in the Stinky midst sooner than anyone thought...
*"Daisy" is StinkyPuppy's given name, though she has also been called Isabella/Izzy. Another name might yet alight upon her soo cute noggin, but for now: MissDaisy.


Anne Bancroft: A BM Tribute

StinkyLulu was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Anne Bancroft, legendarily funny dramatic actress of stage and screen. Which got StinkyLu immediately to thinking: How can this blog give a shout out to those folks worth honoring on the occasion of their big exeunt? Don't wanna get all impassioned and righteous like with Ossie Davis testimonial on February 4th. Don't wanna praise the really obvious things. So...

How 'bout honoring one of Anne Bancroft's BMs?

One of her bad movies? A worthy but underappreciated BM? Like Stinkylulu's Favorite Anne Bancroft BM? It can be a new tradition -- honoring the BMs of dead celebrities!

So, StinkyLulu honors the memory of Anne Bancroft with this appreciation of her brilliant, scenery-chewing performance as the fauxminist senator in the excruciatingly good G.I. Jane. It's a sweaty, silly & all-too-serious picture with really surprising performances by Demi Moore, Viggo Mortenson, and the incredible Anne Bancroft. The smackdown in the limo is a scene rivaled only by the piazza slapfight in The Turning Point (a close second in Lulu's favorite list of Anne Bancroft's BMs). If you haven't seen these brilliant Bancroft BMs, do yourself the favor.

Blessings, Miss Bancroft. Thanks.

Lulu Luvs Da Links

Why StinkyLulu Loves Fug!


The Lords of the Traveling Palindromes

A certain brand of conventional wisdom says you will always be -- to some extent or another -- who you were at 13. Dunno 'bout that for you, lovely reader, but such often holds true for StinkyLulu, as this weekend's excellent summer movie fare definitely suggests. The Stinkys saw both The Lords of Dogtown and The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants this weekend. Along with Palindromes, it made for quite the triptych of "coming of age" sagas.

The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants was far and away the most satisfying -- not intellectually, not aesthetically, not politically -- just satisfying in a pint-of-ben&jerrys kind of way. StinkyLu loves the teengirl books it's based on, largely for the way the books introduce you to characters you sorta really like & want to see what happens to. The movie's nicely done, necessarily but kindly pared of lotsa details from the novel. Each of the 2 "young love" stories & 2 "young loss" narratives are engagingly told, effectively interwoven to sustain distinct emotional arcs while somehow converging (as in the book) in a single story. (Entertainment Weekly's often-prickly Lisa Schwarzbaum said that she "cried freely and with great feeling for more than half the movie, and grinned like a dork for the remainder." That'd be about right, though StinkyLulu likes the weepy bits best so the "young loss" stories of Carmen/America Ferrera and Tibby/Amber Tamblyn were Lulu's faves. ) Ann Brashares' Traveling Pants series is the only young adult lit StinkyLulu's found since the Weetzie Bat books that really catches that marvelous/mysterious emotional thrill of terror/delight that comes with incipient adulthood. And the movie does a delicious job in translating the whole thing to film.

America Ferrera -- brilliant as Carmen in Traveling Pants -- is also great playing a character named "Thunder Monkey" in The Lords of Dogtown. Ferrera's character name in itself should suggest just how brazenly Dogtown wields its Y-chromosome. Also an adaptation, Dogtown goes basically point by point through the story told in Stacy Peralta's 2002 documentary Dogtown & Z-Boys. (Peralta penned the screenplay this time out -- doing a kind of docudrama recreation of the "skater's hagiography" from the earlier doc, rather than dramatic elaboration of the characters & stories.) And for cinematic satisfaction, the earlier doc is probably as cool and more compelling than this version. The thing to recommend The Lords of Dogtown is the cast, led by Emile Hirsch, John Robinson, Victor Rasuk & Michael Angarano. Heath Ledger, Johnny Knoxville & -- especially -- Rebecca DeMornay offer excellent cameos (& are getting more of the press for them); Alexis Arquette's "terror tranny" cameo is less excellent.
But truly it's the younger actors who anchor and -- when the film's overdetermined narrative & cinematic stylings permit -- occasionally elevate this flick into something significant. (Emile Hirsch is especially dazzling, as he always is: this kid is so good it's scary.) Dogtown is as much a showcase of younger actors as is Traveling Pants. They're all really pretty & fun to watch; the sad part is the girls got to play characters while the boys were stuck portraying icons.

Safe to say, StinkyLu's already a fan of all of these movies -- to different degrees & for totally different reasons. And, in a movie season where even the movies targeting adults are hardly "grown up," these three movies about teenagers are rich with the reasons StinkyLu so loves the movies. Now, if only Mysterious Skin would open at a theater anywhere near StinkyLu...


Dawn Weiner is Dead! Long Live Dawn Weiner!

Spent the day with MrStinky in Fanta Se: good work, good food, good flicks, good day. Culminated with Todd Solondz' latest -- Palindromes -- which finally landed in the enchanted land this week.

Most folks seem to run real hot or real cold with Solondz. As with most cinematic provacateurs (Solondz, LaBute, VonTrier, Lee, Waters), StinkyLu runs more on the hot side; with Solondz, decidedly so, and increasingly so with each film. A brief tally of StinkyLu's response to Solondz' features: underwhelmed by Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995); enthralled by Happiness (1998); stunned by Storytelling (2001); enthralled, stunned & moved by Palindromes. Increasingly, Solondz seems really to be toying with core conventions of dramatic character & cinematic narrative. Most of the name-brand critics seem to really loathe the more recent films, typically voicing concerns that Solondz indulges an indie-film audience's sense of cultural/intellectual superiority at the expense of people in the 'burbs or the flyover states. Maybe that's a valid critique. Yet, it seems a defensive one. Perhaps the critics doth protest too much?

Palindromes follows Aviva, a miserably awkward 13 year old girl who is obsessively invested in conceiving and bearing a child, despite her disinterest in sex. Aviva's conception obsession situates her as the awkward but accomodating center of several kinds of attention: that of sexually interested males (both the adolescent & pedophilic variety) & that of adults concerned with the consequences of unplanned parenthood (whether to term or terminated).
So, clearly, a lot's going on. Adolescent sex. Pedophilia. Abortion. All with the character of Aviva at the center. Of every scene in the film.

And what Solondz does with this is pretty brilliant: Aviva is played by eight actors of divergent age, race, body type, gender, acting ability & celebrity status. This move -- possibly a stunt, possibly an experiment, who knows -- creates a compellingly cinematic version of the kind of distanciation or alienation effects so often toyed with by theater directors & actors. Most often movie artists (actors/directors/screenwriters) use cinematic bells & whistles to do the distanciation thing. Here, it's the fact of acting itself that instigates the simultaneity of intellectual AND emotional engagement: a rare thing in film. The succession of performers -- each a vivid Aviva -- prohibits either a simple mimetic identification with the char/actor OR a coherent moral/ethical assessment of the char/actor's choices.

In the event that you doubt, this ain't no schticky game. All of this is cued by Solondz's opening scene: the funeral of Dawn Weiner, the miserably awkward 13 year old girl protagonist of Welcome to the Dollhouse. Possibly the first question we hear Aviva ask is "Am I like Dawn?" And it is Dawn Weiner who haunts the film. YET -- the death of the character of Dawn, the absence of the original actor (Heather Matarazzo) who played Dawn, the return of other char/actors from Dollhouse, and the disorienting succession of Avivas -- all this creates a film where the experience of a miserably awkward 13 year old girl conveys the story but is neither a singular nor a universal experience. It's as though Solondz has found a cinematic way to let interesting (& occasionally great) actors collaborate on creating a character thus releasing that character/creation from naturalistic illusions of coherence or "superobjectives" or the like.
There is a lot to consider with this film &, even after all this, StinkyLulu ain't gonna recommend that you rush out & see this flick. It's the kind of film that'll piss most people off, especially those whose patience for incendiary experiment is thin. And there is so much here to get "politically" outraged about, but that seems oddly beside the point. Indeed, for StinkyLulu, this is the kind of movie that keeps hope alive for the intellectual future of narrative American film.
That said: tomorrow, it's time for The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants -- the summer movie StinkyLulu's been most excited about for the longest. Hey, a Lulu can't survive off intellect alone...