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What the fuck is a “Door” ?

Well, I don’t really know where the name came from, hence why I’ve done some wikiresearch (I predict the credibility of my blog plummeting after this post). The name of the band comes from a line in the William Blake poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, “When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will appear to men as they truly are… infinite.” Now, exactly what that

Red Dragon by William Blake

mean, I do not know. But it sounds deep and poetic and philosophical and beyond my comprehension… or anybody’s really; unless you’re William Blake, or you’re on drugs, which pretty much sums up the cultural phenomenon known as the 60s. Out of context of the entire poem, no… the line itself doesn’t make any sense. I couldn’t find the actual poem online (which is more like a tome), but I did find this weird YouTube video and… I still don’t get it. But hey… William Blake… I know him, an entire trilogy was based on this epic poem (Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon)… and if I were tripping on LSD I could rap off the name alone, and the hidden connotations and how it is all an aphorism for life… like man, the doors… are… open… and they’ve been cleansed. You and me… we are the answer man, now is the time… do you see? Wow, the spirit of Ken Kesey was speaking through me for two seconds.. that whole intersubjectivity thing Tom Wolfe wrote about… um… yeah…

-M.BODDi

The Head Master

Young Edith Head by M.BODDi

The Head Master

Ever wonder who designed Audrey Hepburn’s safari-chic outfits in Roman Holiday? Or Bette Davis’ diva-gowns in All About Eve? Or that darling green number on Tipi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? The answer is renowned costume designer Edith Head. She has been nominated for and won more Oscars than any other woman… ever. Forget about Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank… and even Meryl Streep.

Edith Head received 35 Academy nominations; she was nominated every year from 1948 to 1966. She won 8 awards total [The Heiress starring Olivia de Havilland (1950), All About Eve (1951), Samson and Delilah starring Hedy Lamarr and Angela Lansbury (1951), A Place in the Sun starring Elizabeth Taylor (1952), Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn (1954), Sabrina also starring Hepburn (1955), The Facts of Life (1961), and The Sting (1974)]. Meryl Streep was only nominated for 11 or something… to which I have only one thing to say, “Step your game up.”

Edith Head worked with many celebrated female actresses in some of the most memorable movies in the history of American film: Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, Anne Baxter in The Ten Commandments, Kim Novak in Vertigo, and Patricia Neal in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to name a few. She spearheaded many fashionable trends such as the sarong dress a la Dorothy Lamour in The Hurricane, and she was called the queen of the “shirtdress” such as that on Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

It may seem weird that I am writing about a costume designer instead of an established fashion icon. the thing about movies is that they are not exclusive to a select few; most people can afford to go see a movie. Not everyone can afford an outfit straight off the runway in Milan. Movies, actresses, costume designers… that entire industry defines specific generations; think about what Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor mean to girls who grew up in that time period where sex appeal had nothing to do with skimpy clothing and everything to do with style and class. Movies defined and reflected generations; everyone is watching. And what would Grace Kelly be without her wardrobe? Would To Catch a Thief be as great a movie as it is? Can you imagine what these movies would be like had Edith Head not made her first sketch?

Edith “Poser”… I Mean “Posener”

Something you may not know about Edith Head… she is the biggest poser; not that it matters. She was born Edith Claire Posener in Searchlight, Nevada to parents Max Posener and Anna Levy. Both of her parents were obviously Jewish, yet she claimed to be Catholic. She had no formal training in fashion design. In fact, she only got hired to work as the costume sketch artist at Paramount Pictures because she used her friend’s sketches for her interview. Before breaking into the movie industry, she earned her BA in Spanish at the University of California, Berkeley, and her MA in Romance Languages at Stanford University. Afterwards she taught Spanish at Bishop’s School in La Jolla, and then taught Spanish and Art at the Hollywood School for Girls despite having no formal training in the subject. She took evening classes at the Chouinard Art College to improve her skills. She was hired by Paramount Pictures in 1924.

At that time, she was overshadowed by the preceding costume designers Howard Greer and Travis Banton. When they retired her reign began. Then, there’s the controversy of her work (or lack thereof) in Sabrina starring Audrey Hepburn. Everyone knew Hubert de Givenchy designed the dress that earned Head the Oscar nod. However, because the outfits were designed in her costume department, technically she is credited for the designs. Despite everyone’s knowledge that she is not the visionary behind Hepburn’s Parisian attire, head still accepted the Academy Award. Either way, Givenchy goes on to make his own legacy, and there will never be another costume designer quite like Head; her funky haircut and signature frames help out as well. The tint of her glasses helped her visualize how her designs would look in Black & White. Her haircut was inspired by Colleen Moore’s Dutch Boy cut, and then later on by Anna May Wong’s coiffure. Original is not a word I would use to describe Edith Head, but she certainly was one of a certain kind.

Costume Designer Howard Greer

Coast Guard Couture

Costume Designer Travis Banton

Head was commissioned to design the new uniforms for the women of the United States Coast Guard in 1967. Note the chic necktie and the flattering silhouette. And those wide-leg pants are so reminiscent of the late 60s, early 70s. Looking at this makes me proud of the women who were proud to be Americans. You go Glenn Coco!

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
Hubert de Givenchy
The Dutch Boy Mascot
Colleen Moore
Anna Mae Wong
Head worked at Paramount Pictures for 44 years before switching to Universal in 1967. Unlike her predecessors, she didn’t retire… she just died. She published three books: Edith Head’s Hollywood, the Dress Doctor, and How to Dress for Success. Aside from her influence on the movie and fashion industries, Head also inspired others to make music as well. The group They Might Be Giants created a song called She Thinks She’s Edith Head (which I believe is purposefully the most ridiculous song you will ever hear). Atomic 7 entitled an entire album Gowns by Edith Head, which I haven’t heard, and I’ve stopped searching in case they are as bad as They Might Be Giants.
-M.BODDi

Grace Kelly in a gown by Edith Head

Edith Head's Hollywood

How To Dress For Success

The Dress Doctor

The Sting starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman

Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck

Samson And Delilah

The Heiress

The Facts Of Life

Anne Baxter, The Ten Commandments

Grace Kelly. To Catch a Thief

Kim Novak, Vertigo

The Sarong Dress a la Dorothy Lamour in The Hurricane

Head with her Illustrations

The Master at Work

Breakfast At Tiffany's

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Steve Martin, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Vertigo

To Catch A Thief

The Hurricane

Ginger Rogers, Lady in the Dark

Lady In The Dark

The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock

The Ten Commandments

Hear Me Out

When talking about music, we tend to put things into neat little categories called “genres.” And every so often a really exceptional artist comes around who doesn’t fit in the box we’ve prepared for him or her. But this isn’t the case with this month’s music group: The Doors. They define a very specific type of rock star with a very specific sound during a very specific time period. And that’s great and all, but who’s to say I can’t listen to and like their music? I’m not a suburban white male coming of age during the late 60s. I don’t get shitfaced at tailgating parties. I don’t drive a Ford F-150 pickup. I’ve never tried LSD, amphetamines, cocaine, shrooms, peyote…

And who’s to say Kanye West won’t sample one of the greatest rock songs ever made (Five To One) to create one of the greatest diss records ever made (Take Over)? Exactly… no one. I think we all get the point: nothing is safe from Mr. West… Nothing.

Now, as a member of the African-American community, it’s technically wrong for me to like a group such as The Doors… it’s like I’m a walking oxymoron… like how, according to physics, bumble bees aren’t supposed to fly with such tiny little wings and robust bodies; it just doesn’t make sense. Well… I practically failed all of my Physics classes in High School, so I really don’t care about the limitations of science in general… but that’s another story for another blog. Anyway, back to my black angst… groups like The Doors have taken from my people; they stole our sound and turned it into off-beat pop music… in some cases… in most cases actually. The Blues’ influence is very clear in songs such as Roadhouse Blues. This isn’t my fave song by The Doors, but hey, good music is good music no matter where the influence stems. As always, this type of thinking somehow makes me a credit to my race, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

I’ll admit, other than that weird Oliver Stone movie starring Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan (what?!!), I had no idea who The Doors were. (Sidenote: Meg Ryan does as good a job as a rock star groupie as Jennifer Aniston did in Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg… I’m not a fan.) Among rummaging through my mother’s old CD’s, I found The Best of The Doors album. [This method of searching through my mother’s accumulated crap is how I discovered a lot of great artists that I now obsess over: Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Barrington Levy among many others. I mean, I knew who these people were and why they were generally important… but you don’t know an artist until you know their music.] And I didn’t like The Doors the first time I listened to both of the CD’s on that album… but then I heard Five to One, and… I… flipped… the… fuck… out… seriously; because you know I know every word of Jay-Z’s Take Over. I must’ve played that song alone for two days straight, and then I listened to the entire album for over two months straight. I… was… obsessed. I still am.

So, hear me out; sometimes it takes one song to really hit the spot and open up your Jim Morrison chakra. This story is basically just an aphorism for why you will grow to love my blog if you don’t love it already. I obsess about everything I love in music, fashion, and movies. I’m a freak like that. And I don’t care what’s going on in the “real” world; what you watch on MTV o BET or even what you listen to on your favorite radio station. I listen to everything. Although, most Country Music gives me a headache, which has been the case since I was very young, but if you give me a Country Music CD and say, “You know, this is something you need to listen to… this shit right herethis shit right here… this shit right here…” I’d give it a chance, so give me a chance. You may find that one song that really, really, like really gets into your skin and lo and behold, you’ve found your new favorite musician, or fashion designer, or movie director.

– M.BODDi

That is so Gay

Gael Garcia Bernal by M.BODDi

 

Is there something abhorrently sexy about a straight man who dresses in drag? Um… NO… and… uh… never. But it does make for an interesting movie, especially when Pedro Almodovar is behind the camera and Gael Garcia Bernal is in front of it. Bad Education is like a really bad Spanish soap opera gone wonderfully wrong. The plot is absolutely ridiculous, the characters are… entertaining. At times, it’s a little bitter-sweet… like the gay sex scenes for example; I think they are necessary because sex is a crucial part of any intimate relationship; therefore, it makes the more movie more realistic and elevates it from its trashy telanovela roots. However, they’re definitely hard to watch, for me at least.

Will The Real Ignacio Please Stand Up? (and Padre Manolo too, while you’re at it…)

In Bad Education, Almodovar explores the complexities of the dual-personalities between actors and the people they actually portray. In the beginning of the movie, filmmaker Enrique Goded gets a visit from a man claiming to be his old classmate Ignacio Rodriguez. He is looking for work, and Goded has no work to give because he is experiencing a creative block. Fortunately Ignacio has written a story based on their tormented childhood at catholic school entitled… The Visit. In The Visit, young Ignacio explains that after the first time Padre Manolo sexually harassed him, his head split into two parts. This image of having two parts to one person repeats itself throughout the entirety of the movie. And if you think about it, drag queens and transvestites perfectly represent this image: being two things at once; a woman trapped in a man’s body.

Each of the main characters [Padre Manolo, Enrique, and Ignacio] are portrayed by two people: the fictional character in The Visit and the real person. The characters in The Visit are completely one-dimensional and watered-down compared to the person they represent in real life. In The Visit, Padre Manolo is just a “regular” priest smitten by the voice of young Ignacio who sings like an angel… and who wouldn’t be… but I mean, this guy takes it a little too far. Enrique is just some drunk guy Ignacio bumps into after work at the local drag spot… he’s completely dismissible in The Visit. And Ignacio [or Zahara as is his stage name] is just a coke-snorting, blackmailing boy in girls’ clothes… and sky-high platform heels… because, you know, it’s 1977. And Almodovar implements some ingenious visual techniques that force you to smirk at even the most sexually explicit scenes. For example, he pixelates Ignacio orally pleasing a passed out Enrique… like how they do on TV when they don’t want to reveal someone’s identity. It’s not entirely ingenious… but I definitely appreciate the reserve and the humor.

The real Ignacio reveals himself later on in the film, and is in fact not the Ignacio who pays a visit to Goded at the beginning of the film. The real Ignacio makes you want to cry. He is a junkie, who does heroine and makes sniffing coke look like child’s play… and he’s an actual transvestite… fake tetas and all. And he does try to blackmail Padre Manolo, who is no longer a priest but married with three children and almost entirely bald. He goes by his real name, Sr. Manuel Berenguer, and upon seeing Ignacio, he loses any interest he previously had, and instead falls for his younger brother Juan who insists on being called Angel Andrade because, “Soy actor” he continuously reminds everyone in the movie.  And instead of blackmailing Padre Berenguer as a form of reparations for years of sexual abuse, Ignacio wants one million dollars for plastic surgery. He says, “Looking fabulous costs a lot of money Padre Manolo… I think a million would do it.” Berenguer stalls Ignacio by giving him small amounts of money at a time which Ignacio uses for drugs. Ignacio, Juan, and Berenguer form some sort of complex familial bond, because… well, let’s face it, they’re all completely fucked up.

In The Visit, Zahara spent her entire life plotting her revenge against Padre Manolo; he needed to confront Padre Manolo in order to get rid of his childhood demons; the money seems more like a side note than anything else. I mean, Zahara would never share kind words with Padre Manolo, let alone continuously invite Manolo into his house and even sit and play board games with him. Like many victims of sexual abuse, Ignacio more than tolerates his tormentor and internalizes his feelings of resentment, which almost makes Manolo’s actions acceptable. And being a junkie, he blackmails Manolo for his own selfish and self-destructive reasons.

Juan is probably the most multi-faceted character in the entire movie. He is absolutely mental, and his actions are completely unforgivable, and yet you somehow manage to feel sorry for him.  He is not so much gay as he is an opportunist. And when he says he’s an actor, he means it. Juan plays three different characters throughout the film. All at once he portrays a lonely, naïve, conniving, guarded, impatient, impulsive, and ambitious actor who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. But wait, he’s not as diabolical as I am making him seem, he is very much just a young man figuring his life out and happens to really fuck shit up. He is in no way an evil mastermind. Truthfully, I feel sad for him. Mostly because he is so adorable walking around the apartment in short shorts, and eagerly taking notes at a drag show to learn how to act like a man acting like a woman. He doesn’t live in the now, it’s as if this moment doesn’t exist for him… I guess his thought process is: if there is a problem, I’ll solve it now so I can move on to the next thing… it’s always what’s the next thing? And he almost never says the right thing at the right time, and completely disregards how other people feel… because he just doesn’t see it. It’s great in movies where you can see how incomplete a person is and how accurate a portrayal of human nature that represents. And then to not know why or how a person can grow to be like that… it’s… well… you don’t see that in your every day movie. The only thing this film lacks is a healthy heterosexual relationship; although Gael Garcia Bernal does a decent job playing a tranny, there is no gorgeous leading lady.

I think it is important to note that fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier designed the amazing costumes in this film, especially Zahara’s outfit while she performs onstage: a beaded gown complete with the essential parts of the female anatomy.

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier

With this film, Almodovar was a little self-congratulatory. The movie itself is a meta-movie; a film within a film. The main character is a filmmaker, like Almodovar. This makes the audience even more aware that they are watching a movie. It’s like Almodovar is saying, “hey look at me, I made this. And now you know how hard it is to make a good movie.” And I am not mad at him… at all. All literary greats film and legends do this, whether by acting in their own movies, making the main character a reproduction of himself, or even including visual or literary references to his previous masterpieces. Somewhere in Bad Education is a poster of one of Almodovar’s other movies . In the end of the movie, where Almodovar utilizes those cheesy “where are they now?” endings, the filmmaker Goded is “still making films with the same passion.” And Almodovar zooms in on the word passion until it fills up the entire screen. Okay, okay, we get it… you’re a talented and passionate director. Sheesh.

-M.BODDi

Here are some of Almodovar’s other titles:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

All About My Mother

Kika


Talk To Her

Volver