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May 2015
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July 2015

New Cher Magazine Cover

LOVE_CHERMy family reunion is looming quickly so this will be my last blog postings until mid-July. Things for me to do:

- Clean the whole house before my mom gets here.

- Publish my Meet the Family booklets for the reunion. We Q&A’d over a hundred family members, many who lived through the dust bowl in Roy, New Mexico.

- Produce and purchase other materials for our gift bags, raffles and pinics.

- Shop for accessories for my kilt outfit. As a descendent of the Stewart family, this year I bought a kilt to wear at our banquet dinner. I need stockings, shoes, bedazzles…

- Get my hair and paws did.

Anyway, you can still connect with me on Twitter to get more urgent postings on urgent Cher happenings. I always slap something up there if amazing stories come out before I get a chance to blog, like the following happy news this week:

Cher will be on the July 27 issue of Love Magazine, a biannual fashion magazine!

Other fashion news

Mosman artist to transform US singer Cher’s jeans ahead of Jeans for Genes fundraiser (Daily Telegraph)

  


Nest of Tweets (Race and Donald Trump)

TwitterEvery week is an interesting Cher week. Many recent Cher tweets have hit the news feeds included this conservative freak out at Biz Pac Review. The tone screams masked bitterness.

Cher's initial tweet fights over Rachel Dolezal also appeared on Billboard.com.

I sympathized with Cher on these tweets because for a split second I did too sympathize with this lady. After all, I live with an archaeologist/anthropologist and I've read scores of essays about gender theory (in service to Cher scholarship and understanding why people call Cher a female drag queen).

Race and gender are constructs of our culture, albeit still very strong ones. There’s no genetic component to black and whiteness or liking Hello Kitty. Humans like to categorize much more than God did apparently. So the idea of fluid borders seems feasible in some humane future world. And the tradition of “passing” has a long history in our society. However, this is the first big story of passing to occur from white to black, from a privileged group to an oppressed group.

I’m not all that offended by white people appropriating black culture (from sampling to the all-out, so-called “wigger”) or by black people assimilating to white culture. Cross-culture happens. It's been happening since the dawn of man. You might ask why it's called appropriating one way and assimilating the other? This is the language of power structures. Assimilation goes to the power group. Appropriation happens from the minority group.

I’m not even so much offended by the lying part. Passing is, by definition, lying. And the real lie is the idea of race in the first place. However, I understand that is an intellectual idea not a living, breathing, bleeding reality.

TaylorListening to commentator/author Goldie Taylor on The Bill Press Show this morning, I can see this situation has clearly upset many people. Taylor admitted her response to the story was emotional and called these discussion about the anthropology of race aggravating and beside-the-point because what Dolezal was doing was really nothing more than “the long con.”

I would argue that’s what passing is. I would also argue that if Barak Obama, Mariah Carey, or Dwayne Johnson decided to identify as white one day and black another, that time is always a good opportunity to talk about the “social construct of race.” No matter what the good or bad intentions are of the individuals are. Taylor expressed anger that Dolezal was appropriating blackness without understanding what it was really like to be black in a historical context. This is entirely true. But it’s also true for transgendered women. You could argue there are shades of passing involved here, too. For transgendered women moving from a position of power to minority, they don’t know what it means to be a lifelong woman. And in their case, they are targets and victims of hate violence because of their passing.

However, once again the ability to engage in passing at all favors outward physical characteristics and this continues to stack the deck. Children of mixed race can pass more easily. They have more, forgive the silliness, pass-abilities.

But in Dolezal's case, there are many more complications to her passing:

  • There was money to be made. She used race as a competitive edge to gain a position of leadership. In doing so, she disenfranchised other black contenders.
  • She can’t have it both ways. She sued Brown College for discriminating against her because she was white.
  • As long as there is still white privilege,  maybe there should be black privilege, too.
  • The person in question is quite possibly a nutter and a narcissist.

This morning Goldie Taylor also expressed dismay that we’ll remember this woman’s name years to come but we wont remember the names of the victims of this week’s Church massacre in Charleston. She eloquently read the names of all the victims on The Bill Press Show. This is tragically the case for every American gun massacre of the last 20 years, black or white. And it brings up a point Mr. Cher Scholar made yesterday. This white kid killed more people than the Boston bombers did. And yet their crime was called an act of terrorism and a Muslim conspiracy. It was not called an act of “domestic terrorism” which it was, but terrorism outright. Everyone was outraged.

In Charleston, more people died but the story is being treated as the act of one crazy kid. Were the Boston bombers two crazy kids? Yes, they were. So let’s be clear, the massacre in Charleston was an act of terror and every bit a part of a conspiracy of hatred against American citizens by white supremacists, every bit as reprehensible as the Boston bombing.

In any case, I don’t fault Cher for saying what she did, speaking as a mother of someone who has culturally transitioned between one uncomfortable (and probably false) cultural idea to another. I had the same thoughts initially myself. Identities are shifting and we might not always understand why people don’t want to live inside their own skin. Dolezal is definitely not a good poster child for this phenomenon.

ChervtrumpMoving on...as election season in America is now in full swing, expect to see a lot of this: Cher and Donald Trump in a Bitch Fight

I don’t think you can become president if you engage in bitch fights with pop stars. You obviously can’t prioritize enemy urgencies.

Cher also tweeted about the Charleston shooting and learned hatred.

Learn more about the people who were gunned down at church this week.

     


Backgrounds of Cher

Tt HbI finally bit the bullet and purchased two autobiographies of the most prominent Wrecking Crew members, Hal Blaine and Tommy Tedesco:

Hal Blaine & The Wrecking Crew by Hal Blaine and David Goggin

Tommy Tedesco: Confessions of a Guitar Player by Tommy Tedesco

Tommy’s paperback book is out of print and price-prohibitive on Amazon. However, you can still get an eBook for $25, which is waaay too expensive for an eBook but I bought it anyway. The book is full (and I mean FULL) of typos. If you charge that much for a book an editor or proofreader should have been paid at some point. However, his haphazard recollections are still interesting and the big Italian Tedesco character comes through. “Whatever.” There’s only one Cher reference in the book, a line about Tedesco not realizing Sonny and Cher would be such huge superstars.

Hal Blaine’s book was better produced, better written and interesting as well but it was short and pretty sugar-coated. Well okay, it’s probably healthy to focus on the positive. Maybe it’s so short because they had to delete all the bitter parts. Anyway, he comes off much more cynical in The Wrecking Crew movie. There’s one line in the book about Sonny being Spector’s gopher in the 1960s and some gossip about how Cher was part of the celebrity and Wrecking Crew crowd who worked on the Phil Spector's album with Leonard Cohen. Did anyone else know about this???

DeathThis refers to the album The Death of a Ladies Man which came out in 1977 and was, like all Phil Spectorisms of the time, controversial. Joni Mitchell warned Leonard Cohen about working with Spector. The John Lennon gun-in-the-studio sessions had just happened. But Spector’s big personality lured Cohen into a short bromance and they ended up co-writing songs for an album at Spector's spook house. Trouble started in the studio where Cohen felt Spector took over the album creatively and continued his grand performance of intimidation by handing guns and bullying people in the studio. (Hal Blaine mentions none of this trouble and only lightly touches on Spector’s murder trial at the end of the latest edition of his book.) If Cher was indeed present for a track or two of this she must have witnessed some of the maniacal behavior.

Eventually, Spector hijacked the tapes themselves, before Cohen felt his vocals were complete even. Cohen has since said he felt he couldn’t take on the Spector “heavies.” Was everyone afraid of Spector’s heavies? Over the years Cohen has expressed various levels of dissatisfaction with the album. It was one of Cohen’s least successful albums critically and commercially, and hindsight has offered no argument to that. Rolling Stone Magazine called it a “doo-wop Nightmare” and said, “"Too much of the record sounds like the world's most flamboyant extrovert producing and arranging the world's most fatalist introvert."

Although both Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg are credited in the liner notes, Cher is not. I found a $5 copy and gave it a listen.

I have to agree with Wikipedia that the stripped-down style of Leonard Cohen jars when mashed up with the Wall of Sound noise, what Wikipedia calls “bombastic sprawl.” The lyrics are way below par for the exceptionally poetic Leonard Cohen. They’ve devolved to the creepy, girl-hating messages we’ve come to expect from Spector instead.

Like Spector’s mental state, the effect of the mess is unstable sonic blur. Which I just realized might be a good name for a band.

Add to that the fact that the vocals don’t even sound like Leonard Cohen or rather they sound like a sixties-ified version of him, a girl-group version of Cohen that is bizarre to listen to. The song “Iodine” sounds loud and screechy. “Paper Thin Hotel” sounds too precious despite its stalker-vibe. I wanted to get a restraining order after just hearing the song. Which brings us to the elephant in the room: the album sounds very dated for 1977. Spector was clearly stuck.

Interestingly, many of the sounds plod along in slow motion like the tracks Phil Spector did with Cher in the mid-1970s: “Baby, I Love You” and “A Woman’s Story”. Which reminds me to ask myself why in the hell I ever try to buy a Phil Spector-produced product attempting to hear Cher’s background vocals on it. I never freaking can! His backgrounds are always a big wall of crowd noise from which no personality could ever be extracted.

You can actually hear Bob Dylan (and maybe Allen Ginsberg) a bit in the backgrounds of “Don’t Go Home with a Hard-On” which is actually my favorite track on the album, the only track with some energy to it. The title song plods along for over nine minutes and the song seems to be the lovechild between the dirge of “A Woman’s Story” and Sonny’s opus of movements, “Mama Was a Rock and Roll Singer, Papa Used to Write All His Songs.”

Read more about the album on Wikipedia.

   


The Eye Has To Twitch

Poster227x227Cher Scholar Jimmy Dean notified me last week that the Diana Vreeland documentary The Eye Has to Travel is now on DVD. So I purchased it and watched it hoping (a) to for some Cherness (let’s be honest) and  (b) to learn something about something.

Disclosure: I recently watched the movie Monk with a Camera about Nicky Vreeland, Diana’s grandson, and loved it. And I’ve beginning to think these movies represent, for me, a dichotomy of meanings. I recommend watching them as a two-fer.

If you understand what I mean by that, you’ll probably agree that I’m not the target audience for this kind of thing. In fact, I have to admit I found Diana Vreeland pretty insufferable. It didn’t help that Mr. Cher Scholar was listening to the movie from the kitchen where he was making homemade dog food (long story) and making snide impersonations of her affectations. A bit distracting but could I have survived this movie without them? No I could not.

You might disagree with me completely. Especially if you love fashion. Here’s the thing. I actually love the Vogue spreads of 1970s. I agree they’re timeless and raise the level of fashion photographer to art. So I wanted this documentary to make an argument for the value of Diana Vreeland and her contributions. Not only did the movie fail to make a coherent, meaningful argument (I don’t even remember the title of the movie being explained), but I felt like one of Diana Vreeland’s sons: my lot in life is to make do with the measly morsels of substance Vreeland consents to provide.

I was put off by the whole thing. Vreelands “voiceovers,” (really interview footage with Paris Review editor George Plimpton), are a misleading attempt to give the documentary cohesion. Unfortunately she comes off as completely full of herself in the process. Sure, Cher could do the voice over on the story of her life. But wouldn’t it be better if someone else did it? You see what I mean? You can say you’re fabulous. But it’s really more effective if someone else says you’re fabulous.

A lot of the dialogue between Plimpton and Vreeland went as follows:

George: Were you still living in London then?

Diana: Nooooo!
(with a tone of “how can you even ask me that, you silly person!”)

And when I say affectations, one of hers was to talk like she was a character in a William Faulker novel or a Tennessee Williams play. Real people don’t talk that way. Oh, but Diana Vreeland wasn’t a real person. Ok, fashion-designer-person-who-must-talk-with-a-cigarette in your hand…"whatever."

Because the film is full of vapid statements from everyone, you start to notice the big black holes in the story. Like there’s no life here. It’s all work and no play. Plimpton makes a few attempts to draw Diana out about her mother and her children. Diana deflects all attempts to talk about her feelings and her family, with the exception of how she appreciated her handsome husband. Her own children interviewed mentioned how her disinterest in them hurt their feelings. Asked by Plimpton to tell a story about her kids, she instead told a fantastical story about Charles Lindberg. Ironically, her sons and grandsons all come across as infinitely more interesting than she does.

Maybe this is because, as one of the designers insisted, "Fashion is Boring." Is that even true? Fashion didn’t seem boring in the French movie about St. Laurent, Amour de Fou.

I think the wheel-spinning monologues from colleges, (the Anjelica Houston outtakes illustrate this well), reveal that it might have been a hard stretch for folks to talk about her. Every story is either too general or too specific. Granted, nobody in the fashion world ever really seems passionate about anything so it’s usually hard to tell if their lack of enthusiasm is just an affectation of the profession or they’re actually not that passionate about the Vreeland. They might be passionate about what she achieved or about her innovative ideas but very few of those ideas were actually described.

No cohesive life chronology evolves after an hour and a half and there are few lessons to be drawn from the “story” such as it was, although Diana would pause after anything she said as if she’d just dropped a profound turd on you.

Vreeland aggressively markets herself as style and artifice over content. I was never bowled over by this marketing strategy although people all the time accuse Cher of mastering it. And you can believe that if you don’t want to look very closely at Cher. Personally I couldn’t be a fan for 40 years if that was the case. I’d die of boredom, I would! Cher may not articulate a point of view about depth but she exists as a statement of some interesting complexity.

That all said there was one Vreeland idea I managed to untangle out of this mess of a movie, her appreciation of and focus on 'the flaw.' I agree with her on this. Your flaws make you lovable. Not your perfections. People go chasing perfections all the time (myself included) in a misguided attempt to gain  love (or attention). But even in Vreeland’s case, (a woman highly whose body is heavily flawed by high-fashion standards), the attraction to the flaw seems more about what this means about her. It’s as if she’s saying, “Flaws are good. Sure I happen to have them. Does that make be biased? Is that a coincidence? Maybe I’m not the ugly duckling my mother said I was. Now I boss pretty perfectly-faced, statuesque women around. Now I determine what’s beautiful and what’s not. In other words, my mother was wrong." That’s messed up!

But she did give us Cher in many pages of Vogue magazine.

Tumblr_nonzetgZkx1qlql3fo1_500 Original Stairs 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To add insult to my injuries of time lost watching this film, the Cher photos are in a paltry three scenes: a scarce few modeling shots, her famous appearance at the MET party in 1975 and one photo with Sonny as part of a scene suggesting Diana was hanging-out-buddies with many celebrities, including Jack Nicholson (who she had a crush on), Angelica Houston and Warren Beatty. Now that’s a dinner party.

The movie was self-important and boring. The translation fonts and descriptive text were affected and hard to read... and that pretty much describes the whole experience.

   


Cherrants, Dave Letterman Tributes and Cherbits

CherlettermanSocial Mediums

Recently I also made an effort to check out Cher’s Facebook page. Reportedly she’s been posting more there and happy to have more room to speak her mind. But she doesn't post there as often as she does on Twitter and her tweets continue to make news on an almost weekly basis:

Cher on Obama and the ISIS war: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/27/cher-is-not-impressed-with-obama-s-isis-war.html

Cher being frustrated with the black hole that is Pinterest: http://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/news/a28569/cher-pinterest-twitter/

Pure Gossip

Cher is allegedly giving advice to Bruce Jenner and Kim Kardashian vis a vis transtioning.

Peripherals

Chaz Bono is still helping out on the West Hollywood election of Heidi: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3096389/Chaz-Bono-campaigns-help-former-bandmate-try-win-local-council-election.html

Old Boyfriends: Gene Simmons talks about the Cher/Diana Ross transition: http://www.guelphmercury.com/whatson-story/5653999-gene-simmons-fell-for-diana-ross-while-dating-cher/

Music

Autotune appreciation: http://wgno.com/2015/05/26/the-invention-that-changed-music-forever/

Television

David Letterman exists late night. This was cause for many trips down memory lane for the press, including many instances of Cher on the show.

The article describes the taking of the photograph above: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/photo-cher-peeping-dave-offered-laugh-article-1.2230110

More Cher/Dave reminisence: http://decider.com/2015/05/22/today-in-tv-history-cher-made-her-first-letterman-appearance-called-dave-an-asshole/

Okay so I was not prepared for my melodramatic sobs during the final episode. For the past 20 years I’ve only watched the show if Cher was on it. I stopped watching back in the NBC days. But the exit of Letterman affected me very emotionally for many reasons, none of which have anything to do with Cher.

  • It was time for Letterman to retire. Just like Johnny Carson did. The new kids have taken Letterman’s comedic and talk-show achievements and are now building further on them. This is as it should be. And as the tributes of Letterman have shown, the new comics revered him as he revered Carson.But it makes me sad for Letterman anyway. There’s a melancholy rightness about it but you still want time to stand still and time to bring you new and shiny things at the same time.
  • Although I hadn't been watching Letterman anymore, he represented "cutting edge" during my high school and college years. He was the acceptable alternative to Johnny Carson who Gen Xers like me did not relate to. Talk about ass holes. Ask Cher to tell a Johnny Carson story. Hopefully, we’ll get a bigger and more dramatic expletive. In any case, Carson was “tired ole” and Letterman was brilliant. The end of his show marks the mortality of most of my early cool sites. These mementos of cultural significance are retiring faster and faster. To make matters worse, most of my co-workers are now too young to understand Letterman as a cultural significance for me or the idea of panic caused by losing something from your childhood and how the modern world is less emotionally significant because of it. I’ve never felt sentimental about aging before. I DO feel wiser, stronger and better able to understand the world’s dramas and political quagmires. So this feeling is new for me. And as a Gen Xer who was very emotionally attached to my television shows, this predicts rocky weather ahead for me.
  • Letterman is built like my dad. Same body, same big head. For years my Dad watched Letterman, back on NBC and CBS. Both are sarcastic masters. Letterman’s aging sadly reminds me of my dad’s mortality. Ugh!

StillermearaWhich reminds us, Anne Meara passed away last week. My earliest memory of her is on this mysterious talk or award show she appeared on with Jerry Stiller Sonny & Cher as a they joked together as a mirrored foursome. I’ve never seen that clip since. Did I imagine it? Was that a dream? Sad to see her go.

Cher Scholarship

Ca32f766dfc4439ca601e826ed479c2ePossible local location for the future Chersonian Institute

Speaking of the Institute, one of my plans was to hang my Cher tapestries. Remember the Cher throw with the praying hands? The Believe-era shot from the Farewell Tour. I know I had one of these because it seriously creeped me out unfolding it, especially the back side. Over the last 10 years of moving I’ve lost it. Mr. Cher Scholar just purchased another one for me for my birthday. He said having worked at the Georgia O'Keeffe museum M_pqF9On1_931d9DDW_RqWg, he understood a "major acquisition" when he saw one. We re-opened it yesterday and I was freaked out again! That's one scary rug! Mr. Cher Scholar agreed and said it reminded him of the Shroud of Turin.

  


New Century, New Cher Model

26693831a9cbdc92d41ac670f7932ede9dcf8928It's always something. The last few weeks I was tied up with a big office move over at CNM. This summer is going to be busy I can tell you. I have a family reunion in less than four weeks, a few trips and then hopefully some peace and quiet for much of the rest of the year. We’ll see if that turns out.

In the meantime, Cher debuts as the model for Marc Jacobs! How fun! She's part of the new Marc Jacobs fall line along with Willow Smith (announced so far). So that’s why she attended the MET gala with Jacobs. Sweet, sweet PR.

Anyway, Cher is not the first celebrity matron to grace the covers of mega-designers of late. Joan Didon (one of my favorite writers...especially about all things California) was recently featured on something as was Joni Mitchell.

The Cher news esssploded on the Internet when it was released at the end of May. Here are just a sampling of the news stories, which were all positive by the way, about her new one-picture spread:

Fashion rags are saying she looks "fierce" and "as glamorous as ever." Lego-tweet

Speaking of fashion statement,I forgot to post this last time but Cher herself posted a tweet pic someone sent of her Legolified. Her Lego version is wearing the famous duct-tape Bob Mackie fit.