New Movie, Old Cover, Tweets, Slot Machines, Letterman and CHeritage

Cher_slot_machineThis is my last post before our U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday. I hope you get stuffed!

Gardel (2017)

Cher scholar Dishy notified me of a new Cher movie that has snuck into the IMDB. These pre-production rumors often tip-toe right out of IMDB as quietly as they once slipped in. But this looks promising subject-wise and a period piece would be sweet!

"I Got You Babe’s" Punk Pedigree

Last week I finally came across “The Ramones” version of “I Got You Babe.” Been looking for this for years; so why couldn’t I find it  sooner? Because The Ramones didn’t cover the song. D'oh! Joey Ramone covered it as a duet with Holly Beth Vincent, although the song isn’t on any of her albums or on iTunes or YouTube. You can catch the song on Vimeo.

CHeritage

A few weeks ago I wrote about American Indian appropriation in the outfit choices of Paris Hilton, members of The Flaming Lips and Cher. Thanks to Jack Nicholson scholar Coolia, we now have a new link about Cher’s heritage and possible controversies surrounding it: http://waitingtogetthere.blogspot.com/2013/09/chers-heritage-controversy.html

Tweetage

Cher’s comments about Ben Carson have attracted some attention.

Cher also talks about the US political response to last week's Paris attacks.

New Way to Hand Over Your Money to Cher

Slots! Thanks to Cher World for this news: there is a Cher slot machine coming to Las Vegas. Finally! Didn’t Barry Manilow get one of these like decades ago?

LettermanCher History

Decider did a somewhat scholarly piece on Cher’s last public reunion with Sonny on The David Letterman Show.

“Back in 1987, you had to work harder for your viral moments. (Obviously, they weren’t called viral moments then, but this was clearly a predecessor of the genre.) A TV moment had to be something truly once-in-a-lifetime to earn the kind of repeated-viewing immortality that Sonny and Cher on Letterman did with a simple song.”

 


Movies, Musicals and Music, Oh My!

BroadwayCher, The Musical...Still in Progress

Recently Cher met with Tony Nominee Rick Elice to pen the book for her biographical musical. Read more about it at Broadway.com, Contact Music, Out.com, Yahoo!

 

Witches of Eastwick

WitchesLogo TV just did a series of shorts on Witches of Eastwick for Halloween. (Thank you Cher scholar Tyler!)

Cher Scholarship

Dolls2If you loved volume 1, Tamara Lorenz Hampton’s book The Fabulous World of Cher Dolls Volume 2 is out just in time for Christmas.

Here's a great discography of Cher discovered by Cher scholar Dishy: http://www.45cat.com/artist/cher

Bob Mackie, Johnson Hartig Discuss Cher, Kim Kardashian at LACMA (Woman’s Wear Daily)

Here's some bad scholarship for you. Two weeks ago, I reported Cher had never been on X Factor. The scholarship gods had a laugh when I was walking on my treadmill and Cher's X Factor appearance from 2013 came up on YouTube. Who could forget that light show? Me apparently.

Lasershow

Cher-cnmBecause I work at a very cool place, the social media gurus at Central New Mexico Community College posted an alert about the time change this past Sunday with Cher's meme. Pulled through to our website, it looked something like this (see right).

Because I have Cher-radar, I can't help but notice it on there!

Turn Back Time: Don't forget to Cher with your friends. It's a daylight savings time tradition now.

Thanks CNM!

 


Cher's Most Copied Looks, X-Factor, American Indian Appropriation

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Cher Style

This week I found a beautiful article about Cher’s "most copied looks" from the website Racked. However, I don’t think they even scratch the surface. But it's always nice to see how influential those Norman Seeff sessions were. It confirms my love of them!

Dolly and Cher

There are new reports that Cher will be on X-Factor (along with Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart). I think this is the third rumor of its kind over tenure of X-Factor. None of the other rumors have panned out; so, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Cher-dolly-hell-heavenDoes this Cher/Dolly/Rod combination remind you of anything? It should. It's the same line up (minus The Tubes) of Cher Special. Rolling Stone magazine must have been thinking this too because they recently found Cher and Dolly’s performance in the "Heaven and Hell" segment on that very same 1978 special. They name the sketch “now-infamous” but I think that’s a pretty big overstatement. It's still pretty obscure as wacky celebrity 1970s variety mash-ups go. But it's still pretty awesome! Watch it for yourself.

Peripherals

Cher-look-alikeWhat’s Cher’s choreographer Doriana Sanchez up to now? 

Is Cher’s Sarkisian family related to Steve, the USC coach who just got fired?

This reminds me, I saw Cher’s doppelganger on my employer’s website a few weeks ago. Doesn’t this nursing student from a bygone era look like Cher?

An interesting story that broke last week about Randy and Evi Quaid being captured in Vermont while trying to enter back into the U.S. from Canada. They've been on the run from "star trackers," court appearances and unpaid hotel bills in no particular order. I never did understand this story so I located a 2011 Vanity Fair article that catalogs their descent into Canada.

Cher-Sandy GallinInterestingly, the story includes two peripheral Cher characters: Evi once modeled for Chrome Hearts back in the day and the Quaids once lived next door to Cher's one-time manager Sandy Gallin. Read the full story. See Cher and Sandy to the right.

Lesley Gore died earlier this year (in February). Did you know she wrote Fame’s “On My Own” which Cher sang at Celebration at Caesars?

American Indian Appropriation

I recently came upon this picture below in a magazine. It’s of Paris Hilton at a 2010 Playboy mansion Halloween party. She's dressed in skimpy American Indian clothing. In the magazine, the column is about offensive Halloween outfits worn by celebrities. One reviewer called Paris “gauche” and the magazine says Hilton never apologized. This is all very interesting to me in light of last years gaff involving The Flaming Lips and a similar American Indian headdress.

Paris-hilton-sexy-costume-halloween-2010So we have to ask the following questions as fans of Cher:

  • Why is there no similar cultural push-back when Cher wears Indian inspired clothing at appearances or as part of her shows?
  • When did the idea of the sexy Indian woman come into play? Was it from Hollywood? Cher has exploited various ethnic identities over the last 50 years, the sexy gypsy being the most famous but not the only one. One of the more interesting facets of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was its exploration of multicultural identities. But Cher had to be sexy within each iconic cultural role. Was that okay within the context of white, male-controlled TV of the 1970s? Is it okay now?
  • When did the male war bonnet suddenly get conflated with the sexy Indian woman?

I don't have the answer to any of these questions. My identification with the war bonnet is completely disconnected from American Indian cultural significance. This is one of the reasons why, I think, Anglos choose the label of "costume" or "outfit," because they're exposure to these clothes is limited to television and theater and "theatricals" involve "costumes." But many slurs aren't about ignorance and intention.

Which is why I'm interested in how it's perceived, and perceived coming from Cher particularly considering her ethnic look is Armenian and not fully Indian. At least not in the same way Sonny was fully Italian. Ideas of Armenian are confusing the issue.

      


Cher on the Cover of Ms. Magazine, 1976

ChermsA few years ago on a visit to NYC I met with Cher scholar Dishy at his house in Brooklyn. He showed me some thing in his Cher collection, including a 1976 Ms. Magazine with cartoon drawings of Cher on its cover: a contemporary Cher with her butterfly dress she wore to the 1974 Grammy awards, a teen Cher in a green t-shirt and a fat baby Cher swaddled in a blanket. Not only had I never seen this thing before, but I was intrigued by it. I finally found my own copy last week.

First let me catalog some interesting things I found in this Ms. Magazine. It’s always fun to look back through old magazines, page by page, to chuckle over the advertisements, the formats and the photos.

There was an interesting column bemoaning Heloise and her household hints with the call-out text noting that 50 years of cleaning convenience has given us, disturbingly, an increase in hours spent on housework. It’s hard to believe that we spend less time doing housework in total for the simple reason we no longer have to chop wood 365. But aside from this, I’m also inclined to believe this has as much to do with conspicuous American consumption (more stuff to clean) as it did with 1950s anti-feminist propaganda (and the idea of the super housewife). But the whole conversation is interesting to me in light of how Bust Magazine and 3rd-wave feminist writers redefined housework in the 1990s and 2000s, the resurgence of knitting and some of the kitchen arts. I think the 1970s feminists were very right to question the idea that women were made to do housework. However, the issue did evolve.

I also found a very interesting news item on the first female National Union head Grace Hartman. I looked her up and if you’re interested in her story, here it is: http://womensuffrage.org/?p=22379

I’m not too familiar with Ms. Magazine so I had never heard of their somewhat famous column in the back of the magazine called “No Comment” where readers send in disturbingly (and laughable) sexists ads and press clippings. Ms. is still doing the No Comment column. You can search their recent archive. The results are much more subtle but also more violent. The old-school no-comments are strictly jaw-dropping in their obviousness. It’s definitely worth your time to pick up old issues in order to read these.

Did you know you could buy a Rabbit car in 1976 for $3.500? There were also WAY lots of booze ads in this issue…like hard alcohol ads dominated the advertising. What’s up with that? I also spotted the beginnings of the Age of Narcissism advertising in the Ultra Ban Roll-on ad: “It’s right for me!” Or crazy promises of consumption in the “I Found It” ad for Happiness Foam-in hair color. Am I finding hair color or am I finding happiness? Because we know they’re not the same, right?

There’s an article in this issued titled, (I kid you not), “Can a 40 year old woman find happiness with 29 year-old man?” Uncanny.

But back to the Cher cover. What did it mean? The cover art was done by Melinda Bordelon (1949-1995) and it references a cover article on genetics by Caryl Rivers titled “Cloning: the New Virgin Birth.” It just bugged me, this cover. What the hell could genetics have to do with Cher? I mean culturally it bothered me. Because I felt certain it couldn’t be good. Although I had no desire to read a very dry article on genetics from 1976, I felt I needed to explicate this situation. I was an English Lit major…it’s what I do.

GrammydressFirst of all, the cover cartoon really captures Cher-face full of delight circa 1964, a somewhat child-like Cher. Interesting choice considering 1976 Cher was very different from both her deadpan, sophisticate face or the more accommodating yet hipster Cher-Show face. But Bordelon captured the big eyelashes, dark eye shadow, and thin eyebrows. Bordelon gave her straighter teeth. By the way, that butterfly dress from the 1974 is still having an impression. I found it in this fashions list of the best Grammy dresses (including the famous green Jennifer Lopez dress that launched Google Images.

The genetics article itself mostly describes nightmare scenarios about in vitro fertilization. You know, because this was back when everyone was alarmed by the idea of “test tube babies.” The author provides scenarios where the poor could be forced to sell their uteruses for food money: “It wouldn’t be the first time that poor women found that their bodies are their one salable commodity.” The author also talks about selective abortions from the results of amniocentesis testing for Down’s Syndrome; in other words, aborting due to sex-of-baby results.

Forty-years later we can see that none of this came to pass. You could argue in vitrio has even liberated some women who wanted children but were fed up with bad relationships. It’s also allowed same-sex couples to become parents and, over all these years, prove their parenting skills.

Nothing remotely in that article could be tied to Cher, but there’s a side panel story on issues surrounding cloning. Unlike the in vitro article, some of Rivers' points are still relevant for many people today. And here is where I found the connection to the cover art:

“The misuses on cloning aren’t hard to predict [and the author discusses dictators controlling their regimes after death through cloning]. “Would women and men project their egos into the future by producing their own ‘carbon copies?’ Would society choose to clone our most valued citizens? Artists…?”

There it is! Multiple Chers! Here I must stop the press and beg to differ! Because if the decades have shown us anything, it is that there can be only one Cher!

In these articles, Rivers is concerned that cloning and in vitrio progress concerns women but that women and minorities were not included in the high-level decisions being made about them, which was no doubt true.

So I don’t mean to fully dismiss the point of view in this article. It feels very patriarchy-obsessed looking back (I mean, the fear of cloned dictators?). But that was fully the point. Back then, the patriarchy did control everything. And it’s because of the good work of the 2nd-wave feminists that I had the more pleasant opportunity to work in a reality that incorporated more female leadership, female decision-making and female opinion-expressing, and I found all of it outside of Ms. Magazine.

   


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.

  


Impersonations and Tributes for Cher's Birthday Week

ChristinaImpersonations

This week another Christina Aguilera impersonation video came up online. She does impressions of Britney Spears, Cher, Shakira, Sia and Lady Gaga. I thought the Sia and Lady Gaga ones were very funny. The Cher impersonations are hard and usually miss the mark. This one is pretty typical in that way but the Adam Levine as an accountant is pretty funny.

Online Birthday Cards

Cher's 69th birthday was yesterday and tributes appeared from all over the entertainment Internet:

An Unforgettable Look At Cher Through The Years, In Honor Of The Star's 69th Birthday (Huffington Post)

Celebrate Cher's 69th Birthday with 69 GIFs Showcasing 69 Reasons Why She's the Greatest (People)

Turning back time and looking at Cher's most iconic moments! (Woman’s Day)

Happy Birthday, Cher! 9 Times the Diva Defied Age (ET Online)

10 Things Millennials Don’t Understand About Cher (VH1) - This one was my favorite!

Cher’s craziest outfits: 23 of the singer's most outrageous fashion over the years (British Telecommunications)

Notable Tweets

Cher's tweets about the Amtrak Crash got some ink alongside tweets by Donald Trump. But unlink Trump, Cher didn't assume her presidency would solve all the world's ills.

   


Mary Cheney's Comments About Drag and Blackface

RupaulCNN obtained a private Facebook post by Mary Cheney, the daughter of Dick Cheney where she equates drag queens with white people donning blackface. Read the story here.

She says, "If a man has all the right in the world to put on a high wig, sequined dress and a full face of makeup, why isn’t it socially acceptable for a white person to don blackface?"

Apparently, a commercial for the upcoming season of RuPaul's Drag Race sparked her question.

She continues, “Why is it socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for men to put on dresses, make up and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.) — but it is not socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans? Shouldn’t both be OK or neither?”

Cheney is not the first woman or feminist to raise the issue of drag being anti-feminist but I'd like to take this apart for a moment. I've been reading quite a large amount of academic essays on camp and drag lately.

I first became interested in drag (and gender theory) when I started reading academic pop culture essays in anthologies and periodicals with a particular interest in applying what I was reading to Cher. Pop culture academicians kept calling her a 'female drag queen.' They called Dolly Parton one too. I went in search of what that meant. Was it a negative slur, as in Cher is a poor imitation of a real woman? Turns out calling Cher and Dolly drag queens just meant that their style of feminine dress was so over-the-top and exaggerated, it served to expose the "put on" nature of femininity. The artificiality of it.

This coincided with recent theories of gender being performative, the idea being you have no core gender self. You take on a performance character by choice. Being butch, fey, girlie, tomboy are all cultural and not biological ideas and as such are roles that can be switched, roles that are culturally-defined and arbitrary.

Right off, I imagined Cheney didn't accept performative gender theory. And because of this she wouldn't accept that that one's gender is therefore more perforamative and fluid (even hetero expressions of it) than is one's ethnicity.

Speaking directly to the issue of blackface, part of the offensiveness of it was the racism that accompanied it and how disparaging it was to black culture. The same is not true for drag. To equate the two is based on a false premise of intent. I do not read drag as dismissive, as some feminists do.

In fact, Cheny's own commentary betrays her. She takes on the the male chauvinist view when she says, "[they] act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.)."  Gay men can be just as bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty.  So can straight men for that matter. Whose to say these are not just basic human diva traits? To assign them to women is sexist, sexist from men, lesbians or feminists. It's buying into the patriarchal view of women and refusing to see how powerful a glamazon character can be. It sends a message to both women and drag queens: tone it down; outrageousness  is not okay.

That is why is was so powerful to see a butch lesbian feel empowerment going thru Drag U. And for me, the show Drag U is what proves that not only do costumes drive feelings, (think a karate outfit, a policeman's uniform or a glamazon's couture), but that finding value in glamour isn't self-hating for women or anti-feminist for men. 

It's very different from blackface due to how women are being interpreted. This is not to say there aren't women-hatin drag queens. But they're rare. In any case, drag isn't really about "aping women." It's about finding your inner power. Its about taking on the character of the glamazon. No drag queen is performing an eek meek.

Considering RuPaul is the most prominent drag queen and a black man, I was particularly looking forward to his rebuttal. Unfortunately, he didn't address the drama of blackface directly. He just presented a history of the political history of drag: http://www.mediaite.com/online/rupaul-tells-mary-cheney-how-dressing-in-drag-is-different-from-blackface/

I was hoping for more but Betty Bowers had a good quote about it, one that assumes you know that Mary Cheney is a lesbian:

"Men in clothes traditionally worn by women is blackface, says Mary Cheney, wearing clothes traditionally worn by men."

More on performative gender theory

 


Cher Obsession in a New Novel by Darcey Steinke

Sister_Golden_Hair_cover-193x300I've just published a recent interview with the author of a new novel, Sister Golden Hair, about a pre-teen girl named Jesse growing up in the early-to-mid 1970s. I talk to author Darcey Steinke, the daughter of a minister and a beauty queen, about how a celebrity-obsession with Cher works in the narrative and what Cher's "text" means vis-à-vis our struggles with ideals of beauty, role models and holiness. We also talk about the construction of her novel and depicting the trials of a teenager navigating issues of identity.

Great, fun interview!

Interview with Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair


Cher Bric-a-Brac: Carly Simon, Britney’s Bad Show, Moms in the Movies

BioOver the summer I read the Carly Simon biography that came out a few years ago, written by Stephen Davis who was famous for writing Hammer of the Gods in the 1980s about Led Zepplin.

Considering the couple Carly Simon and James Taylor and their love-song decade, the sad pining and avoidance the book describes between Carly Simon and James Taylor makes the story of Sonny & Cher seem quite functional in retrospect.

True, Carly Simon seems a tad bonkers with her long list of of lifetime neurosis and insecurities but Taylor comes over like a self-concerned, (albeit depressed), ass in his own right. As a result, this is one of those biographies I wish I had never read. I came out of it thinking much less of both of them and somewhat better about the acknowledged dysfunctions of Sonny & Cher who, although they had their bouts of not speaking to each other and trash-talking, never devolved into the kind of pathetic heartache and shunning Carly and James still seem to be indulging in. Sonny & Cher could have dissolved into much more extended legal battles that they did, similar to what professional partners Porter Waggoner and Dolly Parton went through, or the old-age bickering and breakup of Captain and Tennille. Sonny & Cher did seem melodramatically dysfunctional back in the mid-1970s, but doesn't time always do a number on the smug?

HotcakesThere was, however, some Cherness in this book. Carly Simon was pregnant she made Hotcakes album (see cover) and I've always liked it. There's "Mockingbird" and "Forever My Love," (I really love this song, but  Sonny & Cher never went that far), and the Simon-classic "Haven’t Got Time" for the Pain." Her album label Elektra had just merged with David Geffen’s Asylum label:

“Hotcakes quickly sold nine hundred thousand copies, but it was hard to get attention amid all the hoopla for Carly’s label mates. David Geffen had assured Carly that she was going to have a solo release and it would be promoted individually, but it didn’t happen. (Geffen said later that he’d been distracted in this period by his torrid romance with Cher.)"

Darn that Cher!

TorchThe book also gives us a great definition of the torch song tradition, an explanation that sheds some light as to why Cher's fans love her torch songs so much:

"Torch songs were an enduring artistic legacy of the Roaring Twenties. 'Carrying a torch' for a lost lover was a “modernist” female thing, a romantic agony personified by singers such as Libby Holman (1904-1971) who famously married the heir to a Carolina tobacco fortune and then accidentally shot him to death as he was trying to break into his own house when he’d been locked out. Torch songs were retro-noir, semidesperate expressions of female disappointment and lust.”

The book also reminds us that Norman Seeff, who took the amazing shots of Cher for I'd Rather Believe in You, also took the amazing shots of Simon for her Playing Possum album.

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In detailing the production of her My Romance album:“Carly…gave the tapes to the legendary Marty Paich, who wrote the orchestrations.”

I did not know he was legendary.

The book also defined Film Noir as characterized by suspense leading to violence, shadowy, tense, forboding, populated by jaded femme fatales. Cher's dalliance with the ideas and characterizations of film noir happened mostly in skits from her television shows, consistently playing femme fetales who persevered which, I think, contributed in large part to her icon image today.

Like Cher, Carly Simon was also rejected from residence in Manhattan's Dakota building.

The book did peak my interest in Carly's early work with her sister, Lucy in The Simon Sisters back in the 1960s. Daughters of one of the co-founders of the corporate publishing house Simon & Schuester, these were privileged kids. And it shows. Their folk music is pleasant but lacks the street-saviness of their compadres.

For instance, they made a French version of "Blowin in the Wind," called "Encoute Dans le Vent" and it is actually a good version but you know they didn't learn French on the street. Their big hit was "Winkin Blinkin and Nod."

My friend Christopher sent me the LA Times review of the Britney Spears  "Piece of Me" show in Las Vegas:

“Whatever the scale of the number, the singer’s presence felt so diminished, her dancing a tentative shadow of what it used to be, her vocals apparently lip-synched for the majority of the show – as if to make the production’s title seem a taunt...[The show] neither revisits her old mode effectively nor presents a compelling new approach…Instead of looking forward, Spears (and her handlers) are playing a dangerously cynical short game, exploiting the interest her name still inspires without regard for how the act’s shoddiness may limit her options. Spear’s turn at the table needn’t be over, yet she’s cashing in all her chips.”

Contrast this to the reviews of Cher’s shows (From her Heart of Stone reinvention to the current show), how important a "compelling new approach" seems to be and how eternally authentic and human she seems to come across. She stands out even among young pop divas, maybe because even her foibles seem more authentic than theirs, less like publicity stunts or their staid and overly-produced attempts at life as performance art.

In doing research for my novel about New Mexico, I've been reading many New Mexico art books and art magazines. Santa Fe has a family of Sarkisian artists.

IncarnationIn a magazine, I also found a very funny pop surrealism spoof of Lady Gaga's meat dress done by artist Mark Ryden (see right).

Turner Classic Movies was also promoting a new book called Mom in the Movies, I don't know if any of Cher's moms are in there but Cher has played a special kind of flawed mom in two of her movies. In Mask she's a good mom but on drugs. In Mermaids she's quirky and self-involved, with a subtext of unavailability. She's mostly played single characters in Chastity, 5 & Dime (couldn't have kids), Silkwood, Suspect (works too hard), Moonstruck (probably over the hill), Tea with Mussolini, Stuck on You (we only see her at work), Burlesque (we only see her at work). Maybe we could say she was mom to the little dog Scoongie in Good Times.

Also of note, my boss at ICANN sent me this clip over the summer: a man doing 29 celebity imprssions in 1 song, including Cher.