Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For what?

Yesterday I passed by the Paul Smith store on Fifth Avenue and was stunned to see an entire window display based on Parisian May 1968 propaganda. This collapse between mercantilist nostalgia for revolutionary youth culture and global branding was not surprising and yet it still disgusted me. Though as I have written in the Collecting Schlock section of this blog, I am party to such decontextualized appropriation of revolutionary visual culture for its chicness -- as in my blog photo, so who am I to judge? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rocio Durcal and Barbara Rey

Since I am in the mood to showcase Spanish singers/entertainers in homoerotic situations that even Almodovar could not imagine - here is a classic landmark in Spanish cinema: the first ever Lesbian film "Me Siento Extraña" (I Feel Strange, 1977) starring singer Rocio Durcal and vedette Barbara Rey. This movie was made during the proliferation of soft-porn known as the Destape or unveiling that followed the long decades of repression, censorship and other miseries of the Franco regime. Unfortunately I have only seen fragments such as the one above but even this is not to be believed - the logs in the fireplace, the significant close ups of the champagne flutes to the moist lipsticked mouths, the observation that she "feels strange," followed by the abrupt jump cut to the two of them naked in bed having sex. Hot. It's hard to hear but the soundtrack is of a Spanish version of punk rock band singing "Soy Lesbiana!" among other things. Priceless.

Durcal went from child star to singer known for her versions of Mexican Rancheras and Rey from being a go-go dancer and vaudeville type actress to acting in a circus run by her drug addicted abusive husband Angel Cristo (you cannot make this stuff up - even the names are awesome), then later was involved in a scandal involving a video of her and her alleged lover, King Juan Carlos I. Hence, the irony that her last name is Rey. Durcal was known and loved as the opposite to the sexual and scandal-prone Rey - the family woman, wife and mother. She tragically died young of cancer, like her dear friends (see below) Rocio Jurado and Lola Flores.  

Lola Flores and Rocio Jurado

There's nothing better than this: Rocio Jurado, la mas grande, sings to her great friend, Lola Flores. The love-fest goes way beyond even Almodovar. You can't make this stuff up. As Lola herself said when asked about rumors of lesbianism in the flamenco world, "Who hasn't had a go at it with a friend now and then?" (my loose translation) Rocio sings part of her classic song "Se Nos Rompio El Amor (de tanto usarlo" - Our love broke, from over-use - a pretty erotic song but even better when sung to her colleague. Sadly, both great Divas died young of cancer- La Faraona, Lola Flores and La Mas Grande, Rocio Jurado.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Obama in Puerto Rico

Obama campaigns in Puerto Rico - note the catchy song and his attempts to salsa dance. Sorry, papi, I know it's hot out here & you are tired, but......a salsa dancer you ain't.

FOX news journalist calls for Obama Assasination

This is truly beyond the pale, we knew FOX news was completely reprehensible in every way, but to go as far as conflating Barack Obama with Osama Bin Laden, and then calling for his assassination leaves me speechless with outrage.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Love English"

One of the best paragraphs I have read in a while:

"So just what are Chinese people learning about the English-speaking world? For starters, we’re moody sluts. A book called “Love English” teaches that “Do you want to go to a movie?” really means “I’d eventually like to have sex with you,” while “I’m bored” really means “Do you want to have sex?” The final entry in “50 Selected Love Letters Between United States Presidents and Their Beloved” is from Monica to Bill, and introduces the adjectives “disposable,” “used” and “insignificant.”

To read the rest:

Learning to Speak Olympics
Published: May 25, 2008
With the Games approaching, a question: Can an irritating monkey help China become conversant in English?

"Pure" American

Yesterday I saw this at a CVS store and many associations crowded my mind: the recent arrests of almost 300 undocumented immigrants (or "illegal aliens" as the government and right wing would call them); the racist campaign being run by HRC and McCain against Barack Obama (the first, claiming working class whites are "her" supporters; the second, tacitly supporting his backers who lie about Obama being Muslim, as if this was a strike against him); the Jewish people-- Democrat and Republican --who also oppose Obama for allegedly being Muslim. 

I am also about to blow a fuse every time I hear or read about the upcoming Puerto Rican democratic primary June 1 -  ignorant US citizens are only now realizing that they have a colony in the Caribbean called Puerto Rico....even though this country invaded the Island in 1898! And I love HRC's demagoguery in telling the Puerto Ricans living on the Island that they will get money from the US and that they will be "allowed" to vote for President like their compatriots who live in one of the 50 states, rather than being second class citizens. A NY Times article the other day pointed out that it was under "her" Administration - actually, her husband's - that the tax breaks that gave incentives to US companies to establish themselves on the island (to get cheap labor) were repealed, thus dealing a death blow to the Island's economy. This, along with NAFTA, sealed the nail on the coffin, leaving Islanders with huge unemployment, soaring crime rates, the lowest per-capita income below any of the 50 states, among a host of other problems. 

And speaking of prejudice and ignorance: why is it OK for supporters of McCain to make racially-tinged or anti-religious comments against Muslims and Catholics but as soon as one makes an anti-Semitic comment, McCain drops said minister immediately? Not that I am a fan of the Catholic mafia in the Vatican or of most of the Church leadership, being a recovering Catholic myself, but shouldn't we be against all kinds of religious discrimination? 

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Special Moment

Get ready......

...this is a very special moment between Figo and Zidane which a friend shared with several other women and me last night - now she sent the hot hot hot visual evidence. A treat for my gays and my lady friends. Enjoy y'all! 

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Our Next President: Barack Obama

Obama now has the majority of pledeged delegates, and has just won Oregon.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Va-Jay-Jay Monologues (for F & AK)

Frida Kahlo in drag.

I finally made it to Courbet at the Met last night. 
I was fascinated by the parallels between the marketing of this show and the point of view about Frida Kahlo at the Philadelphia museum: biography, spectacle and scandal. 
The first room was all about biography and self-portraiture.
The artist is pathologized as a mad man and his life is defined in terms of "scandal." Of course the titles of some of the pictures themselves (including the branding image, above) promote this view of the romantic artist bucking tradition and shocking the Establishment, a pose emulated by artists since, notably by Dali. This is seen as a heroic, modernist, original gesture when enacted by a male artist. However, in the case of Kahlo, it leads many critics to view her as neurotic, narcissistic and pathological, a trivial and popularized superstar marginal to the grand narrative of modernism. 

A fantastic sight-line becomes visible that leads the eye to this painting -above- of two women in bed "Sleep." After years of looking at it in slides or books, the details finally came into focus. Of course the phallic surrogates on the night table - the two glass jars - and the lovely vagina stand-in - the glass, inscribe heterosexual sex into the frame. But I had never noticed the labial folds of the rumpled sheets, particularly the fabulously informe reddish-pink section that is revealed immediately below the dark-haired woman's hand. 

Surely others have made the comparison between Kahlo's two nudes and Courbet's iconic "lesbian" picture. Conversant with Freud, Kahlo cleverly parodied his view of homosexuality as pathological narcissism, punning on the view of women as self-involved by rendering what some view as a double self-portrait. 

And others have commented on the racial politics in play - these are also of course part of the tradition of images of lesbians, racialized as one dark, one light - brunette and blonde, butch and femme, sinister and pliant....and all those cliches. Which come down to us today in A Shot of Love With Tila Tequila, a reality TV show in which a "bisexual" bi-racial predatory femme tries to find "true love" among a group of men and women. (Even I cannot bring myself to watch this show.)

A fabulous room dominated by the sleepers is chock-a-block with precursors to pin-up girls, and centerfolds. Here, Courbet's loving attention to pert nipples and dimpled buttocks does not always apply to the women's faces -- these are not important, anyway. 

A large wall splits the room in two, behind is the picture that pops up if you type in Courbet into Google images, the most searched, the most iconic, the most unseen. Prudishly, the curators deem the vagina to end all vaginas as "indecent" while a festival of phalluses populates the Greek and Roman galleries, among other locations. Here, the veiling indicated by the sheets and the shadows in the slits between the sleepers' scissored legs goes up to the torso to give us the money shot. Almost like a murder victim shrouded and splayed. The fact that this was owned by Lacan is so over-determined that it is hilarious. We had never seen the fabulous Masson picture painted to conceal the "lack." That alone was worth visiting the show. 

I was told that one of the review of the exhibition WACK! was headlined "The Vagina Monologues" but I think the Courbet reviewers might have also used the same title.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Endorses Obama

Edwards just endorsed Obama. There was clearly foreshadowing in the past few days, but I still plotzed when I saw this. This is just fabulous on many counts but especially as it will de-rail HRC's hateful race-baiting. Pat Buchanan realizes this and so is having a panic attack on Chris Matthews. He is actually defending HRC on her racist and condescending remark that she is the candidate of "hard working White people," claiming that it was the press that posited that "stupid White people" were needed for a candidate to win. I am delighted that Buchanan has finally owned up to what he really thinks about some of his supporters, White men without college degrees. And people who won't vote for Obama "because he Muslim." 

And now Buchanan is claiming that Obama's being African-American is an asset, and that he is winning based on the African-American votes. Would it be that there was a majority of African-Americans in the US. Sadly, what we actually have is a majority of ignorant assholes like Pat Buchanan with gun racks, the collected works of Thucidydes and all the other Greeks beloved by the Neo-Cons (and I know of what I speak I trained with said neo-cons in the 1980s as a Poli Sci major), pornography under their beds, and a Klan hood pressed and ready in their bedroom closet. Do people not remember what this guy was saying during his apogee in the 1980s? Why is he suddenly a pundit? 

And last night's discussion of the role of Puerto Rico was also priceless - here, Matthews attempted to seem even-handed about us but again did not distinguish between those of us living on the Island or those of us here who may vote for President, nor did he explain that the plebiscites are non-binding, only the US Congress may grant us "permission" to be Independent, or decide to make us a State. One of those telling "those people" was heard. And finally, Matthews wittily (or so he thought) asked rhetorically why those in the Panama Canal may not vote if a US Territory is able to do so. (For me, this raises the question, if McCain, born in the Panama Canal zone, may run, then can a Puerto Rican?) 

This is the kind of scintillating political debate we get in US television.

Dali on "What's My Line?"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


One of my favorite local news anchors, Sue Simmons, pops off when she forgets to remove her mic as they cut to a commercial. As she does so, she utters the words I often wish I could shout out to many journalists when I am watching TV news. 

"Ethnically-correct" dolls

So this is actually more like "Things I love (hate) right now."

A while back I was chatting w/my goddaughter, who is half White & half Japanese & she made me aware of the American Girl dolls. She was telling me that she wanted Samantha because she "looks like me." I almost began to cry. Then I told her that when I was a girl, I had no dolls that looked like me. Her mom got on the phone & began to tell me about how expensive the dolls are, how little girls are obsessed with them, and how one can order a custom-made model to look like a sinister doppleganger of the girl. Yikes. A flurry of emails ensued between me and several lady friends deconstructing the dolls. Another friend told he she abhors the dolls but her husband spent a fortune on one for their daughter.

This is another American Girl doll that appears to be somewhat Asian. She is part of a series of historical dolls that come with stories. She dates back to SF in the 1970s. Now, if I was doing a 1970s SF doll, miss thing would have a nice Angela Davis Afro and come with a bong & a birth control packet as accessories.

My sister & I had hit a Toys-R-US, a place I rarely visit (though with the recent fertility boom among my friends I see myself as a frequent customer from now on) and I was mesmerized by the BRATZ. Another friend says they look like hookers, clearly problematic, to say the least. And she is right. But at least they are racialized to look Black or Latina. Below is "Yasmin" who looks a bit too much like J-Lo, but props anyway because she looks Latina.  

This is the American Girl that, were I to order a custom-made doppelganger, would be "me" - according to them: medium skin, dark brown hair, brown eyes. Disturbingly, they don't have an Asian girl. 

Many years ago, I was given this Puerto Rican Barbie. I was delighted although disturbed by the light skin and Creole outfit. There are also a series of "Teresa" dolls, including one that comes with a boom box that if you press the button spits out an old school rap. Hey, it's better than the White blonds! Recently a friend told me that Barbie was the macabre brain-child of a (clearly self-hating) Jewish woman! 

Meanwhile, this is the doppleganger of one of my "nieces" - half Puerto Rican/half Canadian. Love her!!!!! 

And, for the Grand Finale, another one of the American Girl "historical" dolls, a (sanitized) runaway slave!!!!!!!! Even I can't go there. 


Given my drag alias - LaShanda - one of my favorite people spotted this restaurant in Brazil and sent me a photo. Fabulous! 

SJP at The Sex Premiere, London

Please note that Philip Treacy attached BUTTERFLIES to the fake rose in this hat! Shandisimo!!!!!!!!!! Is there a means through which one may be disbarred from the International Milliner's Association for this offense? 

The day before yesterday was the Sex & the City premiere in London. First of all, I am already hostile since the show is all about (me, oops I mean) New York. And what did they think, that this is the time before the telephone and internet were invented, so when they ask Londoners to keep the story and the ending on the DL they'll be successful? 

Then there are the outfits. Cynthia Nixon can do no wrong in my eyes. Ever. I saw her on the bus once and she is exquisite. Milky white rosy pink perfect skin (she just turned 40 but zero wrinkles even though I was "consoled" by my female relatives for my tragically dark skin by being told that "las blancas" age poorly since their light skin wrinkles easily), petite, the red hair is amazing on her. Perfect in every way. I almost passed out. Love the Calvin Klein on her. 

But SJP is another matter altogether. Clearly Pat Fields had a (sinister) hand in this one.

And clearly they were trying to "fit in" with the Brits by having her rock those RIDICULOUS "hats" that are inexplicably attached to the side and not the crown of the head, usually by Philip Treacy. In my opinion, the ONLY person who looks good in those hats is my IDOL Isabella Blow (above), but she is dead. So no one.

I have been soliciting comments from my catty friends, and urge those six of you that read this blog to do the same.

Here is some inspiration to get you started:

Jocelyn Wildenstein meets Carmen Miranda. (submitted by my friend AK)

Hat looks like something thrown out by a florists' school in New Jersey. (submitted by J)

Doing her best for the environment by recycling her Mother's day arrangement tethered to an ashtray.

Ditto with the dress - she went to Canal street and recycled a "satin" (polyester) duvet. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

II Dia Internacional Rocio Jurado

  Rocio's widower, retired bullfighter Jose Ortega Cano, stands beside her grave. (source:

On June 1st will be the second anniversary of the tragic loss of La Mas Grande, Spanish singer Rocio Jurado, yesterday, family and fans met to mark the II Día Internacional Rocío Jurado.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fashion in 2000, as predicted in the 1930s

Puerto Ricans in the news - The Primary

My sister alerted me to McCauliffe's appearance on Face the Nation today (video above), amused by the mention of Puerto Rico's role in the nominating process. Clinton's campaign manager cruises down denial, bringing up the prospect of Puerto Ricans' votes for HRC in their democratic primary next month. Bob Schieffer reminds him that they have no vote in the Presidential election, and McCauliffe claims PR wants to become a US state. What, they will speed up approval of statehood (without regard for what Islanders think) just so they can get Puerto Rican votes for HRC in November? It's laughable and shows how desperate they have become.  

I love how suddenly the Island is in the news because of their scheduling in the primaries, and how we are getting more airplay than we have in years. Thus US citizens are hearing for the first time that we are US citizens, may vote in primaries, serve in the US military and yet if we reside on the Island rather than in the 50 states, we cannot vote for President. 

And given HRC's revelation that she is the candidate of "hard working White people" she will not be surprised to know that her alleged majority with Latinos does not seem to exist, at least among the Latinos I know, or randomly meet on the street, the supermarket, etc. all asking me where I got the "Latinos for Obama" pin or smiling and greeting me with comments about their support for our candidate!

Parque de la Memoria, Sartaguda, Navarra

Relative of a victim of Franco wrapped in a Spanish Republican flag searches for the name of a loved one.

Man points to the name of a family member.

A week ago, I was speaking to a colleague working on the Parque de la Memoria and the museum devoted to the memory of the Desaparecidos at the ESMA former torture site in Buenos Aires. I told her that I wasn't hopeful about such memorials in Spain, as there was a lack of consensus about the dictatorship, with a substantial number of Spaniards believing it was not a bad thing, survivors dying without leaving testimony of atrocity sites, concentration camp locations or mass graves. And the camps and prisons in many cases no longer exist. 

So yesterday I was overjoyed when I saw the news that in Navarra, a monument and memory park was inaugurated memorializing the over 3,000 murdered by Franco in the province of Navarra. The park is in a place known as the "town of widows" because the dictatorship killed 10% of the men. 

The fact that it is sited in Navarra means a lot to me, as part of my family originates from the area. In fact distant cousins still live there in a farm house where my family has resided for centuries, and they speak Euskera. I visited there in the early 1990s with my grandparents and met one cousin (now deceased) who was suffering from incipient Alzheimer's disease. As we traveled by bus from Pamplona to the tiny remote town high in the mountains where the rest of my relations are, she pointed in the direction of a hill and said "That is where they used to shoot people." I decided not to press the point. I am glad others did and I hope that such monuments are erected all over Spain. Perhaps one of my relatives is on this wall, someday I will have to go there and look for my Basque surnames. 

All photos EFE photo agency, Spain.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Mayra Andrade is a singer from Cabo Verde (born in Cuba) who is absolutely amazing! I saw her tonight at Carnegie Hall - it was her first show in NY. She got two standing ovations. Everyone should go get her new CD "Navega".

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Deja vous?

Maybe it's my obsession with history repeating itself, or with propaganda that claims that it does, to promote a certain political interpretation of past events. Maybe here I am falling into the latter category, but when I read the headline (see link to MSNBC article below) that the US government is "outraged" by the fact that the government of Myanmar has let days pass without providing life-saving assistance to its citizens, I immediately saw an irony. Although there are important differences: Myanmar is led by a military junta and is an actual dictatorship (in Spanish they have "dictadura" and "dictablanda" playing on the word for dictatorship which in Spanish is composed of "dict" root of to dictate and dura or hard. The second term is made up word with the "hard" substituted for "soft." So maybe one could use a bit of hyperbole to refer to Dubya's regime as a dictablanda? In any event, to see the Bush Administration commenting on Myanmar's horrific neglect of its citizens and obstruction of delivery of external aid, I can't help but think of another situation when people died and were left homeless, albeit on a much smaller scale, Katrina.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Queen Elizabeth in a Shmatta: Priceless

These photos, posted on the Times Style blog, are by "society photographer Milton Gendel." When my friend Falleeeysha forwarded this, in the midst of a very hectic day, it made my week. Note Andre Leon Talley and Lord Snowdon in their leopard skin coats - endangered road kill! And below Queen Elizabeth II in her kilt, blouse and shmatta / du-rag accompanied by her pack of Corgis. Is there anything camper than this, because if there is, and Lord knows I am a connoisseur of that genre, I don't know what is. But readers, do send any suggestions! 

Here is the link to the HILARIOUS post (and don't miss the festival of faggotry and cattiness that ensues in the coments!)