Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Fine Art of Connoisseurship

Lately my friends and I had been poring, aghast, over pictures of Donatella Versace, muse of the leathery tan skin, botox, relastyn, silicone, and glisteningly inauthentic platinum gold weaves. Allegedly, the wrinkly cadaverous blonde shown tanning on an unidentified Eurotrash beach was the iconic Italian designer. But no. Close observation of the horror rewarded someone with the certitude that in fact there is a lady that makes the real Donatella look healthy and almost natural. Below, the geniuses at Gawker describe in elegant and painstakingly nuanced terms the differences between these two muses of unnatural aesthetics. In the art history world, one learns about wealthy men who, thanks to their fortunes, travel(ed) widely, saw friends' collections, and studied at posh schools, allowing them to develop a finely tuned ability to distinguish a master's hand, color palette, handling of paint, or composition from that of an inferior interloper. A noted curator at a major museum used to collect shards of ancient Greek pots which he would place in front of hapless students and ask the author, location where it was made, what part of a mythological cycle the shard belonged to, all from one small bit. I envy such skills, which cannot be learned by looking at slides or power-points, let alone fleeting encounters with pictures while jostling for space with the iPhone wielding tourists in art museums world-wide. No, connoisseurship is a dying art. But the folks at Gawker know how to do it.

According to a recovering art historian friend of mine, the above article would merit the Gawker writer with the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize for best scholarly article published in the Art Bulletin magazine. (cue to eye rolls and muffled ironic laughter from my academentia suffering art historian colleagues out there, holla?)

I Just Can't Quit You

After about ten hours on editing on the computer, I caught most of one of my favorite movies, ever, Now, Voyager (1942) on PBS. They don't seem to have my favorite scene, which is when Charlotte's sister comes to meet her at the dock. The new, glamorous, charming Charlotte is not recognizable when compared to the dowdy, downtrodden, neurotic woman that fled her domineering mother. She comes out in a fabulous picture hat, crocodile purse, tailored suit, and divine pumps, saying good-bye to all of her new friends from the glamorous cruise. Here are two priceless moments.

Friday, January 29, 2010

In ICU with Academentia

I'm really busy trying to finish editing the first half of my book, so you won't be hearing from me in a while, as I'm in the throes of academentia.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Academentia can be fun!

Below is an article from the New York times discussing a recent panel held at Queens College on "Jersey Shore." Yes, we academics specialize in over-analyzing pop culture-- sometimes until it is no longer fun, but that's academentia. If only my job allowed me to bring my extracurricular interests into play when creating my scholarly production. If I am lucky enough to get tenure, then I can begin to write articles about royal portraiture as seen in HOLA magazine and things of that nature. For now, I let my colleagues at Queens Collegue deconstruct the self-proclaimed "guidos" and their performative or sartorial characteristics.

The New York Times
Discussing That Word That Prompts Either a Fist Pump or a Scowl

Published: January 22, 2010

For most followers of MTV’s reality series “Jersey Shore,” the big news on Thursday was the on-screen breakup of the summer sweethearts Ronnie Magro and Sammi Giancola during the cast’s late-night reunion show.

But the 100 or so people who showed up earlier that day at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute of Queens College, in Midtown Manhattan, were much more concerned about a different issue: the “Guido culture” that the show’s drinking, hot-tubbing and brawling stars proudly embrace.

Some Italian-Americans consider “Guido” a slur and have vehemently protested not only the show but also the use of the term. But others, mostly younger Italian-Americans, use it affectionately to refer to a particular life style, making it a label akin to preppy, punk, Deadhead and rapper. Or, as the show’s Pauly D put it: “I was born and raised a Guido. It’s just a lifestyle, it’s being Italian, it’s representing family, friends, tanning, gel, everything.”

The attendees were probably not among MTV’s usual demographic. There were scholars, elected officials, representatives from Italian-American organizations and the Consulate General of Italy, though there was a sprinkling of people who proudly called themselves Guidos and Guidettes.

The invitation announced that the main speakers would be Donald Tricarico, a sociologist from Queensborough Community College, and John DeCarlo, a freelance writer, caterer and self-professed Guido from New Jersey, initially raising the question of whether the Institute was presenting a version of Margaret Mead and one of the Samoans.

But the speakers and subject were handled with respect. Wearing wire-rimmed glasses, a sober gray suit and a tie, Professor Tricarico was the anti-MTV and visibly uncomfortable lecturing into a microphone before an audience.

His talk demonstrated, however, that just as Jersey Shore denizens have their own lingo, so do academics — a scholarly version of “Yo, bro” and a fist pump. This “urban youth subculture,” he said, is “associated with late capitalism,” a second generation that “consumes commodified leisure styles,” and has created “a bricolage of symbols.”

In other words, they are a result of the rising fortunes of young Italian-Americans. Having finally attained leisure time and money, a new generation has carved out a niche for itself in the popular culture.

As New York State Senator Diane J. Savino, a Democrat who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, explained, “Guido was never a pejorative.” It grew out of the 1950s greaser look, she said, and became a way for Italian-Americans who did not fit the larger culture’s definition of beauty to take pride in their own heritage and define “cool” for themselves.

When she was growing up, everybody listened to rock; girls were supposed to be skinny, with straight blond hair (like Marcia Brady on “The Brady Bunch”); guys had ripped jeans, sneakers and straggly hair.

Then in 1977 “Saturday Night Fever” was released. “It changed the image for all of us,” Ms. Savino said. As Tony Manero, John Travolta wore a white suit, had slicked-back short hair, liked disco music and was hot. “It was a way we could develop our own standard of beauty,” she added.

Indeed, Professor Tricarico calls “Saturday Night Fever” the “origin myth” for “Guidos.” Think of Tony Manero as their Adam.

Young Italian-Americans, he said, did what other immigrant groups before have done: take a symbol of derision, own it and redefine it their own way. Young African-Americans did that with the “n word,” he added, much to the consternation of their elders, and gay people did the same by proudly using the word “queer.”

He also noted that “Guido” had been used to sting previously, as when it surfaced in the mainstream press in a menacing way, in 1989, after a group of Italian-American youths murdered Yusuf Hawkins, a black 16-year-old, in their Bensonhurst neighborhood. As for “Jersey Shore,” what Ms. Savino — and pretty much everyone else who spoke — objected to is the way the subculture has “been exploited by MTV,” Professor Tricarico said. Joseph Sciame, the president of the Italian Heritage & Culture Committee, said the problem was that no matter how many other positive depictions of Italian-Americans there are, “one showing of a program like ‘Jersey Shore,’ and that’s what people think all Italian-Americans are like.” His group, as well as others including the New Jersey Italian American Legislative Caucus, Unico National, the Order of the Sons of Italy in America, the National Italian-American Foundation, the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Borough of Seaside Heights, N.J., (where the show was filmed) have protested to MTV. As another speaker said, “We have a responsibility to make sure people know that’s not us.”

Mr. DeCarlo, who turns 29 this year, auditioned for “Jersey Shore” and made it to the final tryouts. He wore a black leather jacket, large gold cross around his neck and a pinky ring. His hair was spiked with gel. As the audition process went along, he said it became clear that MTV was more interested in “shocking reality TV mayhem instead of a family culture.”

The controversy was briefly raised during the reunion show. All the cast members rejected the notion that there was anything shameful about being a Guido. “I don’t represent all Italians,” Pauly D (Paul Delvecchio) said. “I only represent myself.”

After the producers ambushed Mr. Magro and Ms. Giancola with embarrassing previously unseen footage that led to their breakup, however, the cast members, too, may be wondering how they had been manipulated by MTV.

To Mr. DeCarlo, Guido refers to a culture of family, food, wine, cigars, coffee, gold chains, Cadillacs and a dialect that gives “ fuhgeddaboudit” some panache. Neither his style nor his fondness for clubbing means that “I’m looking for a fight,” he said.

“A true Guido is someone with dreams, aspirations and goals,” he said. Tony Manero “was very flawed, but you rooted for him because you knew he wanted to do something with his life.”

The 1992 movie “My Cousin Vinny” is the perfect representation, Mr. DeCarlo said. In the film Joe Pesci as Vinny wears a black leather jacket and a big gold chain, and speaks in Brooklyn slang. But it turns out that he is very smart and a good lawyer.

During question-and-answer time, Mario Fratti, a playwright best known for writing the book for the musical “Nine” (currently a movie with Daniel Day Lewis), said he was truly puzzled. He pointed out that the protagonist of the Fellini film “8 1/2,” on which the musical “Nine” is based, is named Guido.

“I kept the name for the musical and for the movie,” he said. “Keeping the name Guido is a symbol of sophistication. It is a badge of honor in Italy.”

Later, Mr. Fratti confessed that he had not watched “Jersey Shore.” “MTV — what is that?” he said. “I’ve never seen it.”

Salsa Sensual

Lalo Rodriguez, Puerto Rican Salsero.

I have been relentlessly grim recently, but the three of you that read this should not assume that Petite Maoiste has lost her (my, I don't want to speak in the third person like Richard Nixon or Bob Dole) sense of humor. Last night at a party with a witty international group of fellow sufferers of academentia, talk about the latest foreign films, German philosophy and cuisine, opera, and politics, we got to the topic of salsa sensual. This is a truly rich musical genre, and one of its classics is Lalo Rodriguez's "Devorame otra vez." The smooth musical arrangements echo the nuanced subtlety of its romantically chivalrous lyrics. The 1988 album where this song appeared, "Un Nuevo Despertar" had the best cover. Ever. Rodriguez sat majestically spread eagled on one of those 1970s huge round back wicker throne chairs clad in a satin bathrobe open to expose his extremely hairy chest. On either side of him stood a scantily clad jeva (Puerto Rican for hot lady). The chair was, oddly, placed in the middle of an indeterminate grassy location (probably the producer's patio in Caguas). I could not find a copy of the album cover, but it's better that way. Let the beautiful picture come to you in your mind. I attended a lecture by a noted philosopher/aesthetic theorist recently where, when talking about an artist's work, he dramatically went out of his way to let the audience know that no images were necessary. He could describe Francis Alys' video just as well. So, why not?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

3 years.

January 14, 2007 @ 9:05 am — — / home / writing
Originally published in Art AsiaPacific 52, 2007, with Hou Hanru.

Jonathan Napack titled the essay that began his involvement with the contemporary art scene in Asia, written for the catalogue of the traveling exhibition Cities on the Move just around the time of his move to Hong Kong in 1997, “Death and Destruction in Bangkok.” In it he wrote of how “Bangkok stretches the line between life and death thinner than any modern city,” and how “this openness to death, its all-pervasiveness, marks Bangkok apart and makes it a kind of theater for the tensions of the day.”

These words have been on our minds in recent weeks, since the sudden and tragic news of Jonathan’s death in Hong Kong from a severe lung infection on January 20 curtailed the travel plans some of us were making to attend his 40th birthday party on February 13. The bash, ironically, was to be held in Bangkok, where Jonathan also made his final trip in the days surrounding New Year’s 2007.

Cities on the Move, more than any of the sweeping China surveys in Euro-American capitals or the Venice Biennales of the 1990s, brought artists from the Asian fringes into the mainstream, with full rights and privileges. In the art world, it marked the end of one modality of relating to the East as foreign and peripheral, and the onset of another, post-Orientalist moment. Jonathan, first as a pedigreed writer and critic who quite consciously left a successful Manhattan career with publications like Spy and the New York Observer to become a freelancer in Hong Kong, and later as “Advisor Asia” to Art Basel, was both a product and an agent of this same historical process. It is a process that would have happened, and will continue to happen, in his absence. And yet his interest, his contribution, his passion will stand as visionary rather than derivative, phenomenal rather than epiphenomenal. Jonathan’s work was about the making of these waves, not the riding of them.

One of Jonathan’s most beloved lines was not his, but Woody Allen’s. He believed ardently that “ninety-five percent of life is showing up,” and spent countless hours on Cathay Pacific jetliners to prove it. He reveled in calculations like how many hours one would need for a proper overnight at the best Ryokan in Niigata prefecture, or at what time one might clear customs and emerge onto the streets of Taipei if one caught the 5:00 flight from Chep Lap Kok. His conversational repertoire jumped flawlessly from Korean party politics to Viennese Modernism, from state formation on the Arabian Peninsula to the intricacies of Malaysian ethnic groups. He was a connoisseur of prosecco and huangjiu, schnitzel and sushi. He could converse with cab drivers in at least ten languages. Jonathan’s cosmopolitanism was effortless, his bright blue Samsonite carry-on always elegantly rolling a step behind him. His Chinese name, Jiangluosan, was a gloss on an entire life that he created for himself: It translates literally as “parachute.”

Jonathan’s wry spirit gelled perfectly with the exigencies of the cities and the region he came to call home. Anyone who saw him last summer surely heard his impression of the infamous Hong Kong “bus uncle,” a harried commuter whose tirade toward a fellow passenger was captured on a cell phone and circulated online. Among the last e-mails we would receive from him was a forwarded article from a Hong Kong newspaper detailing the prosecution of a scam whereby a local insurance agent enlisted three mainland Chinese nationals to voluntarily undergo surgical blinding in order to defraud an insurance company, stealing money by sacrificing their eyes. Jonathan’s subject line read simply, “saddest are the 2 losers who didn’t even get the payout.”

And yet Jonathan was more bon vivant than cynic, more expert than pundit, more internationalist than expatriate. He was a strategist and a conversationalist, a humorist and an information-monger. He was a brilliant writer whose biggest problem was that he was often too ensconced in the intrigues and pleasures and confusions of modern, globalized, urban life to sit down at the computer.

He has parachuted out of our lives at the same speed with which he would habitually leave his apartment in Central, hop on the Airport Express, and fly off to Bangkok or wherever else. But this time, he is not coming back.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

R.I.P. Teddy Pendrergrass

the joy of infatuation

and the pain of losing in the game of love......

Disaster Porn

No camp or irony for me today. I am riveted as usual by television shows, my training in post-modernism and advanced-stage academentia allows me to maintain the fiction that in watching I am engaging in cultural/political analysis. In fact, I am procrastinating, checking out, or participating in prurient fascination with the "Jersey Shore" house mates or whatever. Following the horrific earthquake in Haiti two days ago, I watched as CNN, the pioneer in this 24 hour cable news programming, put into play its disaster blanket coverage mode, otherwise known as "disaster porn." Feeding into voyeurism, genuine empathy, racist imagery or preconceptions, the need to escape one's own misery by gazing at another's, and more, this type of coverage has expanded to unimaginable scale thanks to the up to the millisecond participatory media nexus of Cable/Twitter/Flickr/cell phone camera uploads/texting/Skype, etc.

I remember when, right after 9/11 when our phones did not work, I sent out emails to everyone I knew for as long as I could until the laptop battery ran out. On the one hand we have incredible technological mastery while the entire world collapses around us. No water, but you can Twitter! I also know what it's like to be on the other side. Speaking with my family as they were in the eye of hurricane Charley and at the onset of another assault of wind, the phone was cut off. The last things I heard were my mother screaming, a sound like a train coming into a station, banging noises....then nothing. For 36 hours. All I did was redial redial redial not knowing if the house had collapsed on top of them or anything else. Anderson Cooper was a reassuring image on the TV because he was reporting from the town where I grew up, which was leveled, I did not recognize any landmarks. It was Ground Zero for Hurricane Charley, there was nothing to see and only rumors to hear. During my research for a book, I similarly looked for images and information about my grandfather and other relatives' activities during the Spanish Civil War. I got sketchy information from police documents or administrative files. I knew that my grandfather had fought in a particular battle. One day, I found a cache of press photographs from that city, Teruel. I remember poring over them searching for my grandfather's face in vain. This is what happens after a disaster. Incessantly repetitive despite the horrific particularities or source materials to follow the aftermath of each event. So CNN plays on these emotional traumas, knowing audiences will be drawn in for as long as they rehearse the horror.

First comes the logo - the seal of Haiti and now the flag and continuously re-booting BREAKING NEWS banner. Second the theme music, which is less and less necessary since the vast majority of the program is devoted solely to this story. Third Anderson Cooper and his grey blue t-shirt or epaulet button down grey blue (Jill Sander? Prada?) shirt are parachuted down to the disaster area. Depending on the number of dead, presumed interest on the part of US audiences, and desire to distract from domestic news, ie. the pending health care bill negotiation, or the appearance of a more compelling event (a white child being abducted, a celebrity dying under mysterious circumstances), the story will last more or less time. Once it starts to wane, we go into the meta commentary phase. Panels of talking heads are assembled to analyze the media's coverage of a story. Soon the question is asked: "Are we spending too much time on this story?" This is when you know that as an addict, they are about to pull the plug on your meds.

They mean well, they keep directing you to a page where you can find organizations to donate funds to aid Haiti. (Sidebar: the name of the CNN site "IMPACT YOUR WORLD" is grammatically incorrect. Using impact as a verb has been discredited. You need to write have an impact on your world. But I digress.) Last night there was an inadvertent moment of realness from Port-au-Prince. Anderson, Gary Tuchman and another reporter stood in glaring camera lighting as behind them you saw only darkness and heard inchoate sounds of screaming, singing, praying, people calling out to others invisible in the night. Tuchman said that the grim situation and lack of assistance to the victims reminded him of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. This too had come to my mind. The US wants to forget that within our own borders we have pockets of extreme poverty and our own government seems incapable or unwilling to assist certain populations. Look at our health care statistics, the homeless population numbers, the number of children in poverty, the child mortality rate.....and break it down by race.

There is a bespectacled white guy who is on at night and annoyingly points to an interactive board that alternatively shows: Google satellite maps of Port-au-Prince, layered over with roads, 3-D diagrams of population density, or locations of the sites of the quake and aftershocks' impact, as well as boxes with factoids such as "Haiti is 80% Catholic." He commented that 80% of Haiti's population lives below the poverty line. Then he said that 12% of the US population lives below the poverty line. As if that is a good thing. Do the math: if you compare the US total population to Haiti's the number is grim. (I do not of course mean to suggest that US poverty is comparable to poverty in Haiti, but I find it interesting to consider that poor people are not discussed in our own country, for example in the election, or even in the health care debate. The implication is that if you are poor it's your own fault and the focus of the appeals made by Democrats was "the middle class" or "working people." We fleetingly saw some of them during Katrina, and then went into denial again.)

I have been speaking with several of my very smart friends, who pointed out a couple more things. One is the relentless focus on people's dead bodies, abject lumps on the road, covered by ashes, baking in the sun. After 9/11 and Karina, and even during the tsunami, much hand-wringing in the media involved the ethics of letting us see corpses and the disrespect for the dead and/or their families. In the case of Haiti, no one seems to question it, and there has been a barrage of images of people's loved ones. Paradoxically, it seems to me, just as the victims are being dumped in mass graves without being photographed first as someone suggested in print (with what cameras? And are they even recognizable? Would you want to give that to a relative?), the media are capturing thousands of images of anonymous people. Another thing has to do with the relationships being made between this disaster and Katrina. At first I thought this a rather incisive parallel drawing attention as it does to the persisting racism and neglect of poor people in this country. But a friend said that he thinks it is a kind of do-over where some in the US want to self-congratulate about their life-saving humanitarian role abroad, extending a hand to our Pan-American neighbor. Rather than a country incapable of taking care of its own disaster, that wiped out a major city, now we are the magnanimous and efficient first world saviors.


On the voyeurism and poor taste (to use understatement) front, here is what I saw on CNN last night. A reporter recounted that she asked if she could put up a mic into a crevice to speak to a woman that civilians working with bare hands, were digging out from the rubble of a school. They agreed, and as we saw footage of the dust covered dehydrated woman being gingerly withdrawn from the crushed building, we hear the reporter say that she asked her "how do you feel?" Is this the most stupid question ever asked by a reporter? It has to be in the top ten. How do you think she feels? She has been trapped in a dark crevice for 50 hours without food or water, hearing screams of people who are now dead.

Update 2:

Inadvertent "moment of realness" number ? - Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré was on Anderson Cooper 360 commenting on the rumors of looting and violence. He compared coverage of Haiti's earthquake to media images of Katrina (he should know, he was appointed by Bush to run the military operation) and said that "people are afraid of the poor." He commented that outsiders come in and see crowds of people and assume a riot will break out. The General describes himself as "African-American Creole" (he's from Louisiana) so I think he is particularly equipped to see the analogy since he must have himself experienced racism first hand. We are already familiar with the criminalization of the poor in this country.

Update 3:
"Moment of realness" number ? A reporter exhausted, describes to Anderson Cooper the struggle a family undertook to dig an 11 year old girl out from under rubble, by Thurs. they had gotten her out, the girl seemed fine. Then she died. No doctor saw her. He described seeing "dozens" of aid workers excavating a "fancy hotel" but none in the neighborhoods where Haitians live. And die.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Carmen Lomana and the Majarana of Jaipur

Carmen Lomana

The underfed Spanish socialite Carmen Lomana, known for collecting haute couture, is becoming ubiquitous in Spanish magazines and TV. Although I have no idea what is driving her to appear in the media, certainly it's not financial need, her comments and way of being provide entertainment and depending on your outlook provoke outrage. I first noticed her in one of the classic HOLA! magazine spreads featuring a wealthy Euro-trash or Hollywood celebrity's tacky and ornate home. The mystery regarding her wealth, origins, and situation leading to her sudden celebrity only feed the myth surrounding her. Did she become fabulously wealthy thanks to her late husband's 1,000 patents? Is her allegedly limitless income drawn from her presumed aristocratic background? And just how old is she? She has skillfully mastered the art of modern Spanish celebrityhood- appear in a glossy, give a lot of interviews on TV gossip chat shows, at parties promoting products, anywhere they shove a mic in your face, offer provocative quotes, and, finally, pick a fight with a celeb that is more famous than yourself. Such is her popularity - ironic for most as she is a bit of a camp icon, that some claim that they "practico el lomanismo" (practice Lomanism), an obvious pun on another word.

Following the HOLA! spread, where she introduced the fact that she "collects" haute couture and does not have walk-in closets but rather rooms in her mansion devoted to a single designer, she later discussed her rivalry with frenemy Nati Abascal. The latter, an underfed and miraculously ageless fashion icon and international Eurotrash fixture, was the equivalent of a supermodel back in the day, posing for Avedon, modeling for couture greats, later becoming Valentino's muse (she makes hilarious cameos in the recent documentary). She also had a small part in Woody Allen's "Bananas," playing a nubile guerilla fighter with whom Allen's character hooks up in the jungle. Married to a Duque whose family was a pillar of Sevillian society, her marriage ended in scandal when her ex-husband was the subject of grave accusations. You cannot make this up. Now acting as a fashion stylist and jet set Eurotrash handler for HOLA!, Abascal is THE fashionista in Spain for a certain generation. Her two sons, who are gorgeous beyond belief, also model and run fashion companies.

The fabulous fashion icon Nati Abascal with Valentino

Lomana implied that Abascal is old and jealous of her, ensuring that the press would pursue her for further clarification. As part of her latest publicity blitz, she appeared in one of my favorite Spanish TV shows , Donde estas, corazon? (DEC) which I have written about before -- ( recounting her recent trip to Jaipur. Allegedly invited by the "Majarana of Jaipur," Lomana let viewers into her glamorous daily life, as she shopped, sight-saw, and enjoyed the dignitary's lavish hospitality. Her Spanish pija (upper class) lockjaw drawl and laissez faire attitude adds impact to her comments.

As usual, she made statements that will provoke ironic delight or plain outrage.

Some of Lomana's offensive/patronizing/ignorant/racist statements:

"Los indios hay que frotarlos y plancharlos." (Indians should be scrubbed and ironed.)

"Tienen que montar una campaña para que tengan mas higiene, que no hagan sus necesidades en la via publica, y hay demasiados mosquitos" (They need to establish a hygiene campaign so that they won't go to the bathroom in the street, and there are way too many mosquitoes)

"La gente es tan hospitalaria...sientes la espiritualidad del pais." (The people are so hospitable here...the country is suffused with spirituality)

"Esto es un lujo asiatico, como las Mil y una noches." (This is Asian luxury, like "The Thousand and One Nights")

literally taking a female guest's hand without asking (she constantly touched people she saw, on the street, in parties, etc. as if they were the bracelets, spices, or scarves she examined at shops or open air markets) at the Majarana's party, pointing out her jewelry "Miren que super fashion" (Look how super fashion)

"Soy muy humilde" (I am very humble)

Most entertaining (and less offensive) are her comments while going "shopping" - she uses the word in English:

she calls bisuteria - or costume jewelry - bisuta as she is seen loading up every available area of her body with gorgeous items she buys during her travels

while in a textile shop, we see her handling fabric and exclaiming "Esto es mejor que Dior!" (This is better than Dior!) [sidebar: originally, not being used to the posh cadences of her pija lockjaw Spanish, I heard DIOS (god) instead of Dior, until a friend corrected me, sadly this would have been even more amusing than what she actually said....]

'No tengo armarios, tengo cuartos" (I don't have closets, I have rooms)

during the on set interview, while looking at photos of her with her late husband and discussing how down to earth they were, despite their wealth and her aristocratic background: "Guillermo y yo nos prometimos siempre recordar como eramos cuando eramos novios - con nuestro punto bohemio.......ah, si esta foto es de cuando eramos novios, en Biarritz...." (Guillermo and I promised each other that we'd never forget our bohemianism from when we were dating....yes, here we are then, in Biarritz) - If Biarritz is what she considers slumming, I have no words

In the midst of Spain's worst economic depression in decades, Lomana's flagrant flaunting of her wealth, her contradictory statements claiming down-to-earthiness, and her mix of apparent intelligence mixed with complete offensive ignorance, offer sure entertainment for the millions of fans that escape their miserable fate by watching gossip shows and reading magazines about local and foreign Eurotrash, aristocrats, and other celebs.

Here are clips from her travels to Jaipur:

Saturday, January 2, 2010