the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Friday, February 25, 2005

My Oscar Predictions

Well, it's time for the Oscars, which I never really even watch any more. When I was younger, I used to record them fanatically--post show, show, pre-show, clothing commentary. I was ALL ABOUT the red carpet. I think I started losing interest around the time that Joan Rivers and her infernal spawn got involved. And yet, when I daydream of winning an award, it's always the Oscar. Sure I'd rather have a Pulitzer, but I would be dressed SO WELL for the Oscars--Badgley Mischka, here I come. (I mean, why does everyone except for the actress nominees look so freaking boring?) Since all I know how to do is write, it should be for screenplays, but I hate writing screenplays. Besides, I know that I'll be the very first person in the history of the Oscars to stumble on stilletos and land splat on the stage.

Therefore, the closest I get to the Oscars is the Oscar pick, which, as my friends know, I always win. Or used to, until my Entertainment Weekly subscription ran out. So, consulting the internet to find out who's nominated, here are my picks--featuring pictures!

best picture: million dollar baby Posted by Hello

Best Picture
: Okay, they all sound like good pictures. But Sideways won't get it--too indie. Finding Neverland was too sentimental. The Aviator had Leonardo. And Ray--does anyone even know who directed Ray? No, it goes to Million Dollar Baby, because Clint Eastwood is one older actor dude who doesn't embarass us and does Serious Worthy Intelligent Pictures.

best director: marty Posted by Hello

Best Director
: They give it to famous directors, and it's best if the movie they directed has been nominated as well. Clint got one last year for Mystic River. Scorcese has never had one. Mike Leigh is one of those directors who critics and other directors Deeply Respect but no one sees his moves. Pick: Scorcese. Which he should have won for Goodfellas.

best actor: ray, er, jamie foxx Posted by Hello

Best Actor: Is it Clive Owen time yet? No? Who's here. A bunch of people and Jamie Foxx in Ray. Hmmm, let's ponder. The Academy likes all that singing and dancing stuff. It likes Ray Charles. Ray Charles died this year. What's his competition? Leo and Johnny are too damn good looking; if we give them an award too, their already swelled heads will grow monstrously. Clint's getting the director award already. That leaves Don Cheadle. We like Don Cheadle, but genocide pictures--especially where the U.S. could have done something and didn't--are such downers.

best supporting actor: clive owen, dammit! Posted by Hello

Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen. Clive Owen. Clive Owen. I don't want to hear anything about how Morgan Freeman is Beloved and has been nominated Four Times and Won Nothing. I just plain don't care. Look at Clive. He's hot, dammit AND talented. And British. That's a trifecta. And I don't want to hear any arguments.

best actress: dame annette bening Posted by Hello

Best Actress: Having seen none of these movies, I think this award should go to Annette Bening. I've never seen her give a bad performance, even when the movie (The American President, for example) sucked. More importantly, she has somehow managed to hold notorious playboy Warren Beatty's affections for years. If she acted more frequently, she would have gotten this by now and be bitch-slapping Nicole Kidman all over the red carpet.

Best Supporting Actress: Cate as Kate Posted by Hello

Best Supporting Actress: Always a tough category. Natalie Portman is too young and has been rewarded enough by appearing in dirty scenes with Clive Owen. Imelda Staunton--Academy voters know the name but not the face. Virginia Madsen: too many B-movies to her name. Sophie Okonedo: see Don Cheadle, above. That leaves us with the fabulous Cate Blanchett, who was ROBBED by Gwyneth Paltrow for Best Actress for her work in Elizabeth. Down with skinny blond nepotism!

Okay, no more pics. But wasn't that exciting?

Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Too odd to be ignored.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sideways. The screenplay award is the consolation prize for movies that are too indie to win best picture. See, for example, Pulp Fiction (beaten out by Forrest Gump for best picture) or The Usual Suspects.

Best Animated: Incredibles. Just Love Pixar!

Best Arty Stuff: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Didn't even approach the coolness of the books, but looked gorgeous.

Best Documentary: Anything about Nazis, or Super Size Me. Same difference.

Best Song/Score: Anything that is NOT Phantom of the Opera.

Everything Else: Clive Owen.

Crown Whore

To the surprise of no one who knows me, I have realized I am a crown-whore. (Mother--it's not what you think, and I told you not to read this blog!) Tiara's, crowns, hell, anything sparkly on my head--I'm there. Last night, at the Little Gray Book Lectures, a crown was given to the Queen of President's Day. This is precisely the kind of thing I look down upon, until the Queen decided she had to leave early and for some reason (I must have that "give me crown" kind of face) she gave me her crown. I pooh-poohed until it was on my head, and after that the world became my royal court. If they had crowns in law firms I'd still be there. They did give me a coffee mug and a glass paper weight at various points. I assume that these were to build moral, but I think a crown would have worked much better.

At the firm I was at, I knew I was very much a small cog in a large and complicated and very boring machine. From the very beginning, I knew I was extremely replaceable, and there were things that people were saying that I should have taken as warning signs. Like that five day training session which explained nothing about how to spot a "key document." (Which, coincidentally, is what I spent the next two years trying to figure out). Or the partner who advised junior associates to become the "go-to" associates when it comes to the minutae in documents. "You want to be able to find any piece of paper before the partner even thinks about it." Um....okay. That's worth the three years of law school. Or the fact that secretaries were considered their own little universe that no one seemed to care about. What do we ask secretaries to do? What if they say "That's not my job?" What if you know you can do it faster--do you still have to give it to them so the other associates don't gossip about how you can't delegate? And what about all those so-called senior associates who pretended that they knew EXACTLY what those bizarre financial papers meant--but wouldn't tell me? (presumably so I could have the thrill of discovery myself?)

Ah, the firm. All this would have been solved with a nice tiara. With a tiara, the secretary would do what I asked, whatever it was, and the partner would be forced to get his own documents. Or maybe I would have done it, but I would have felt better about it. I would have felt, sigh, special.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Lust for Trash

I have piles of work to do, mountainous piles, and yet I blog. I was consumed today by lust. It happened as I was out walking the dogs, and we were passing by Lincoln Center, or, at least, the back of it. Since there are so many productions at Lincoln Center, the back is filled with trash--not the ugly gross banana peel kind, but the ex-stage production kind. Odd shapes in plaster. Fake sets. Perfectly good mirros. Plywood as far as the eye can see. Oh, I lusted in my heart, the way that only an ex-theater major can lust, over the perfectly oval plywood that was just lying there, discarded, waiting to be turned into a perfect coffee table. One that has card-table like hinges and can fit smoothly under my couch when not in use. Decoupaged with Chinese newspaper advertisements and then varnished. I saw it all in my head, just as I saw those mirrors becoming the perfect Bright Lights Big City-esque side tables, the kind that they used to lines and lines of snow white coke on. Mine, of course, would only be used for spirited games of Risk, The Lord of the Rings edition, which I always lose because I keep conquering countries because they're pretty, or have nice beaches.

I lust after trash, I admit it. I walk by broken armchairs and think--just a little stuffing, a quick trip to P & S Upholstery Fabrics, and a glue gun...I long for those broken armoires, those stray bits of carpet, that odd chair that just needs some love and an extra leg. I am the girl to make it happen--well, if I had a mitre saw, I would.

I've always had a thrift-store gene in me--who wants to pay full price for faux-nostalgia when you can have the real stuff that we're nostalgic for? Why buy new? Breaking all the boundaries of good taste, I covered my ancient loveseat in white fur. I haven't bought a new coat in years. I use plumbing wire to make hair clips. But lumber--out of lumber could come the perfect litter box, one that would be high enough that the cats would shake their feet off in the box rather than out of it. Out of lumber could come the coffee table, that extra shelf, that magazine rack that I would attach to the walls like you see in offices, only mine would be bright red. And those fake stage trees. How I would love to live in a jungle of fake stage trees.

But alas, no mitre saw for the coffee table. And what can only be termed as extraordinarily limited space in my apartment. We have no room for glam 1980's side tables. My drill only has one bit. And I rent, which means that every nail-hole I don't spackle over will be deducted from my rent.

One day I will get enough money and renovate an old brownstone. Then I too can be one of those old lady New Yorkers, the kind that stand in front of me in the grocery store wearing a full-length brown mink and a hat to match and arguing that the cat food should be $1.29 rather than $1.59 per can. Oh, don't worry ladies, I have love for you too.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Paris in All of Us

Blogging has become so damn cool, but not all bloggers are hip. Take me, for instance. Rather than researching and exposing the White House's Jeff Gannon/James D. Guckert fiasco like some other johnny-on-the-spot bloggers, I took four days off to complete debilitate myself during my send-off to the Monkey (aka A. Sutcliffe) back to England. My only consolation is that he too was in pretty bad shape. For the last few days, I have actually embarked on a three day detox program involving (I kid you not) leek water, diluted orange juice and health drinks (Ensure, not Slimfast). No drinking, partying or spending money. I have pure as the driven slush, people, and I am bored out of my mind.

I like--make that need--to spend a certain part of my day by myself. Most writers do. The trouble is, to write something decent you always spend a little more time than you'd like alone. That's because, sometimes, when you're reading a sentence you just wrote, everything that makes you love literature and books and even literary criticism is the same thing that's making you hate that damn sentence. So sometimes you've spent just too much time alone revising that same damn sentence (or making excuses not to), and you have to go out. Sometimes, the world just demands it. That is the case at this moment.

As you must know by now, Paris Hilton's address book has been hacked. This is a cause of great distress to people other than Ms. Paris. The celebrities, like Christina Aguilera, Eminem, and Lindsey Lohan, whose phone numbers have now become public have reasons to be stressed. But normal folks--like me--are just as stressed as they are. Why? Because someone might be hacking into my cellphone? (Please. It's a tin can). Because the celebrities in her address book are lame and the T-Mobile commercial promised me I'd get cooking tips from Snoop Dogg? (No. I don't cook). No, I am upset because I've discovered that Paris and I way too much in common. I too, can't txt a sentence--or a properly spelled word--to save my life. I too make unfinished lists that no one understands. I too listen to Maroon 5. I too conspire with my girlfriends to leave a boring party early. I too daydream of a day when I can add the words "Entertainment, Inc" onto my last name. I too have even skipped out on a trip to Vegas to stay with an ungrateful beau. My God! (Click here and scroll down. you know you want to know....:)

Needless to say, this all has been quite disturbing. For that reason, I am getting out and going to the post-production party for VH1's series Race-O-Rama. Gabe, who's helping me with the Street Law TV Series proposal, produced the Blackaphobia segment. I remember TV's Illest Minority Moments--done by the same people--was pretty good and have high hopes for this as well. The party should be good and should bring a quiet, but firm end to the fast previously mentioned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Baseball and Crazy Men

Oh brother. Canseco claims he took steroids. Anyone who saw him bat for the A's knew this. The man looked like someone inflated him with a bicycle pump. And I don't care what anyone says, Mark McGuire looks a lot bigger than he used to, too. My only happiness is that Ricky Henderson didn't write a book. Frankly, I can't think of a member of the late 80's/early 90's Oakland A's who could read a book.

And I would like my audience to know that this is in no way related to the fact that the Oakland A's won the 1989 World Series against a much better and cooler team from across the bay. It was bad enough that I had to endure Canseco then, but do I have to have him make a fifty times my advance for informing the world that he did, indeed use steroids? Can we say....ghostwriter?

Well, two baseball strikes, and the trading of Will Clark and Brett Butler later, I am no longer a baseball fan, Giants or otherwise. I root half-heartedly for any team that doesn't allow DH, so that generally means Giants, Mets, Braves or Cubs. I will not consider any expansion team, even if they have won (i.e. "bought enough talent for") a World Series recently. When it comes to baseball, I am a crochety old-timer who longs for the good old days of the 1989 Giants lineup, which I can still recite (Butler, Thompson, Clark Mitchell, Williams, Uribe, Kennedy, whichever interchangeable player was in Right Field, Pitcher).

In the crochety old-timer theme, check out Redmond O'Hanlon's book Trawler, which a friend was telling me about. I was already a fan of the crazy O'Hanlon who is a pudgy, fifty-something Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society who takes ridiculously dangerous travel journeys that involve giant snakes, murderous tribes, and a fair amount of rampant indigenous-drug-induced-hallucination. I don't read enough travel literature--I always love it when I do--but O'Hanlon is a true wackjob. He's been accused of being "calculatedly eccentric" in his expeditions, but you still get the feeling that he's pushing himself as far as he can go--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually--to convey adventures that seem almost impossible to convey with mere words. (I should say that as a writer, I happen not to believe this, I think everything is conveyable with words, if you can find right ones in the right order). Anyway, I haven't read Trawler, and I'm uncertain because I like nice tropical seas better than ice-cold Atlantic ones, but my friend raves about it. So maybe I'll get to it someday.

(If you feel some necessity to find a unifying theme in this post--and many do--may I sugges this one: Canseco can do as many steroids as he wants, and he can blow up to twice his size until his muscles are the size of my waist, but put him on some grungy deep-fishing boat in the Atlantic Ocean for two weeks catching fish and facing death, and he'll be crying for mommy and his ghostwriter in a matter of hours).

Monday, February 14, 2005

A List

Well, it's late and I've decided to post the most self-indulgent of blog posts: The List. This is the What I'm Reading and What I'm Listening To List. This is because I have no better idea of what to write about.


Bohemian Outcasts by Elizabeth Wilson: reading very slowly for inspiration.

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton: the funnest book about anarchists ever.

Erica Jong on Henry Miller by E. Jong: she's a pretty self-centered writer, but it picks up when she starts talking about Henry's misogyny

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis: The long, deceptively formal sentences lead to pleasantly barbed endings. Great craft.

In the Shadow of the Law by Kermit Roosevelt: One of the few novels about big-firm life. Hoping to review it for...someone.


Love and Rockets: bad boy brits from a time when alternative music was actually alternative.

Tricky: the sexiest, sultriest makeout music ever.

Morphine: makes me think of dusty Chevys on open roads.

Edith Piaf: just when I feel French.

Marvin Gaye: making a groovin' party mix

Useless CourtTV Rescheduled


No CourtTV appearance today.

I have been bumped until next Wednesday because some
kid killed her grandparents and they are waiting for
the verdict.

I am grumpy. Although I suppose I am in better shape
than the grandparents...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Places of Worship

Since I don't really believe in organized religion, churches and temples aren't much used to me. There's only one place to go when I feel bad, and that's the bookstore.

It used to be the library, when I was young, but that's because we had a great community library within walking distance. Small but that was deceiving. I started like other kids--picture books and fairy tales, books on mythology, dinosaurs, astronomy, dogs, the sea. The biggest step was books without pictures--Dahl and Alcott and L'Engle. Some were quality (Agatha Christie, canon. Shakespeare. Fitzgerald. Poe). Some were contraband (Judith Krantz. Seventeen magazine. Period romance novels). Some were forgettable (Mass-market science fiction. Books on makeup and fashion. Silly teenage novels). Reading made me antisocial, and my parents put a cap on how many books I could get. This had the desired effect of turning me into a book thief. (I got caught and did my time). When I think of the books I read, I imagine the layout of the library, aisle by aisle. I knew where to find biographies of queens and travel guides and all the film books. I knew the mystery section by heart.

The biggest disappointment is that I haven't found a library like it since. People rave about the bloody New York Public Library system, but I couldn't find a single Wodehouse or Dickens in my local branch (it does, of course, have the collected works of Danielle Steel). Going to the big branch on 42nd street was equally disappointing--I liked the lions, but who wants to order a book like a sandwich at the deli? What ever happened to browsing? There's no magic in these libraries--you can't browse around and discover a new interest, a hidden treasure.

So now, it's bookstores. The ideal bookstore would be a forgotten, fusty old place somewhere on a side street, with a deceptively tiny entrance that lead to a labyrinth of well-organized aisles. (This automatically rules The Strand out--at least the one on 12th street). The old guy behind the counter would barely look up from his Lermontov, but if I asked him where I could find Steppenwolf, he would know that I was talking about Hesse, not "Born to Be Wild." Used books on esoteric subjects would be piled up in the front. It would be a place of worship.

Unfortunately, those little bookstores are never big enough to feed my appetite, and they never seem organized enough to find what I'm looking for. I try to buy books there, but twice a week I go to Barnes and Noble or Borders--crammed with tourists and books by hacks--just to wander around. Not a chapel, but possibly a sanctuary.

When I became a lawyer, I saw all those expensive, well-bound books, matching sets, lining even the most illiterate lawyers's bookshelves, I was excited. But opening them just lead to statute after statute, case after case, procedure after procedure. Good for law, terrible for reading. For a person who lived for books, it was brutally hard for me to do research in the library--they didn't even seem like books, but extended pamphlets or manuals. (Oh, hell, let's be dramatic (but accurate)--they were positively sacrilegious). I stuck with the computer; it seemed like that was where legal research belonged.

But you know what they say about old habits. When the job got bad, I always ran to the firm library to hide. The windows overlooked the Statue of Liberty, and when the sun hit the water, I was sure that there had to be better libraries than this one to spend my time in.

And there were.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Mad Brits

Well, when you come home at 4:00 AM unable to stand vertically, yet still manage to sit down and BLOG of all things...well, maybe the first step is admitting that you need help.

I've noticed that for a blog called "the lawyer writer" there's actually very little law involved. There is writing, though I worry that most of these posts are actually about the ridiculousness that is my life. I don't know if that is a good idea, as it feels a little self-indulgent and I worry that it isn't that interesting to...well, anyone. If you are reading this blog, then drop me a comment once in a while and give me your thoughts. I promise, though--there will be more law.

Anyway, for those curious about last night, just blame the Brits. I am generally pro-Brit, being raised in an relatively Anglophile household and exposed early to Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and P.G. Wodehouse. However, I am not sure that that being overly exposed to Brits is a good thing, since they are generally mad. Not mad like "mad at me," but more along the lines of "good god, how can you possibly still be drinking?!" mad.

This all began with the much awaited Hair Supply concert, which was just fantastic. (Please visit their site immediately, as I cannot do them justice here). Suffice it to say, I was so excited that I forgot to get drinks during the nearly sold-out concert. And if you have not yet experienced the melodramatic, overwhelming homoeroticism of a hair band playing "I'm All Out Of Love," then you will when the lead singer and the guitarist give into the feeling and engage in a passionate, messy French kiss. Hair Supply is made up members of the now-legendary mock-metal band Satanicide, also known in their more serious version as Heather. My friend Griff, from Satanicide, was amazing in his Tommy Lee, arms flailing drummer mode (though I was disappointed that the drum set didn't revolve in mid-air). His wife Ali rocked the house in a great striped spandex catsuit (she's of the trip-hop band Puracane, which I'm dying to hear since I have just rediscovered Tricky's Maxinquaye.)

Griff and Ali definitely qualify as "mad Brits" as they party in a way that I've only seen in Motley Crue videos. The last I saw them--after they generously crippled me with, er, contraband--was when they were waiting in line to get into Crobar at midnight. I can only assume that they have stopped partying since the Crobar party--complete with a guest, impromptu concert by P.Diddy--was scheduled only from midnight to noon. But you never know when this particular party will stop.

The other mad Brits I were with were less obviously "mad Brits," but looks are deceiving. The psuedo-respectable "Horse" (Ollie) and the visiting-from-London "Monkey" (Andrew) are actually in some pub right now, drinking, while I'm trying to figure out if my vital organs are still working. We did spend some time trying to figure out my animal nickname--I lobbied for the ever-sexy "Kitten" but Ollie lobbied for "Peacock" or "Some kind of small feral cat," while Andrew was uselessly coming up with things like "Dolphin" or "Spiny Anteater." As of last call at 4 AM, the issue had yet to be resolved. Considering that Monkey got off the plane and promptly started drinking ten minutes later, and doesn't seem to have stopped, I think I'm in for a hectic week.

So that's my explanation for my sad, late-night attempt at blogging. I hope that everyone has learned these valuable lessons: 1) Go see Hair Supply immediately, 2) Brits are mad, and 3) Don't Drink and Blog. Ever.


why, god why?

too much substance. too much abuse.

I must be a writer. To want to communicate at this hour. only a writer would be so presumptious.

I had forty dollars. it's gone now.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Art and The Devil Inside Her

Today I walked one of my dogs through Central Park as they were putting up Christo's Gates art exhibit. For those of you unfamiliar with the exhibit, it currently looks like cheerful, giant orange hurdles for a race of very tall people. Apparently they are going to hang "saffron colored curtains" from the hurdles and then we will be able to experience the exhibit fully. I have to admit that I don't get it, but I am a Luddite when it comes to visual art. (I'm good up to, oh, Jackson Pollack and then I get lost). Still, despite having no real meaning for me, it was very beautiful and I am somewhat pleased that the color clashes nicely with my hair. The little Westie I was walking was eager to stay in the park, although whether this was out of a deep, sincere appreciation for art or a deep, sincere desire to do a #1 on a Gate, I cannot say for sure.*

The art theme is a continuation from last night, which I spent at Art Bar with friends. I have always loved Art Bar as one of the few relatively grungy, unpretentious bars in the West Village/Meatpacking district, and because they serve good, greasy food until 3:30 AM. Unfortunately, they tend to ruin the mood by, well, putting up art in the back room. The Art of last night was an enormous painting of the Last Supper featuring Jim Morrison as Jesus Christ and assorted celebrities (Clark Gable, Elvis, Mick Jagger, Madonna, etc.) as disciples. It was difficult to ascertain who was Judas. It was clearly meant to be some kind of indictment of our deification of celebrity and consumer culture, as this Last Supper consisted mostly of Pepsi and fries with Heinz ketchup. However, much like the movie Natural Born Killers proved, if you try to do satire with a sledgehammer, you end up wallowing in the very themes that you're trying to mock. In other words, this Last Supper was the celebrity equivalent of Dogs Playing Poker (minus the cuteness factor) and I kept getting distracted by the fact that Frida Kahlo bore a striking resemblance to Little Richard.

All this is a long introduction to the announcement that, somehow, I have managed to convince yet another publisher (Seal/Avalon) to pay me to write books. This new book is entitled "The Devil Inside Her: The Truth Behind History's Wicked Women." It is essentially an anthology of biographies and cultural criticism of history's most infamous/notorious women. The 2-second premise is that historically, women have been as capable of doing bad shit as men are, but only some women--Mata Hari, Lizzie Borden, Bloody Mary, etc.--become notorious as "wicked." There was, of course, a heated competition to be included in the book. In choosing the finalists, it was more important that the women be actual historical figures, relatively well-recognizable names (to the point of being archetypes) and capable of being researched, rather than for the crimes to be truly heinous, or that the woman even be guilty of what she was accused of.

The final entries are as follows (in no particular order).

1. Lizzie Borden
2. Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans
3. Bloody Mary Tudor
4. Mata Hari
5. Cixi, Dragon Lady of China
6. Erzsebet Bathory, Countess Dracula
7. Anne Bonney, Pirate of the Caribbean
8. Belle Starr, Wild West Outlaw
9. Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie & Clyde fame)
10. Lucrezia Borgia
11. Phoolan Devi, Bandit Queen of India

If anyone has any suggestions--and most people do--I'm happy to hear them. Now I just have to write the damn thing. (It might sound ridiculous to be able to sell a book without having written it, but it's pretty common with the right proposal. I write long, overly inclusive proposals. Call it "The Lawyer Inside Her").

*(Note to Christo: She didn't soil any Gates, but I can't promise that will be the case in the future).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bohemian, New and Old

The lovely thing about the Internet is that even when you miss an interesting article, it still pops up days later when you search. Not like newspapers, which I love for the ink-stained physicality, but hate when they pile up in corners of my home.

The article I found was in, in the "well-traveled" department, by Inigo Thomas. It's entitled Bohemia in New York, two subjects close to my heart. Monsieur Inigo starts off well, talking about the history of the word "Bohemian," and what it means for New York and those who come to New York. Then it sort of become a travelogue--to be expected perhaps, since that's what he's supposed to be writing about--but still disappointing that's not really why I was reading.

I did alert my friend Laren Stover, author of the lovely, bubbly Bohemian Manifesto, that someone else was trampling on her beat. I can't help but wish she had written on the subject for instead, but I think that might be a matter of taste. I like Ms. Stover's take on "bohemian," and yes, I'm about to tell you why.

Two books came into my life at the same time: The Bohemian Manifesto, mentioned above, and Bohemian: Glamorous Outcasts, by Elizabeth Wilson. They cover the same subjects: the meaning of the word "Bohemian," and the artists--from the Belle Epoque to the Jazz Age to the Beat Generation--who embodied it. And yet, they are very different books. The Bohemian Manifesto is bubbly and beautifully illustrated, a light-hearted and colorful romp that reminded me of those books that bird-watchers by to identify rare hummingbirds. ("Want to spot a Bohemian? Here's how!") It's very also very much a girly book--which is no surprise as Ms. Laren also wrote The Bombshell Manual of Style. Bohemian: Glamorous Outcasts, is, on the other hand, serious, heavily academic and bursting with scholarly research. It digs way deep, and you'd better be okay with endnotes to read it through. I am, and I loved it.'

Both are excellent, and here is what they've taught me. "Bohemian" is a word that's used and misused, and it is generally assumed to mean someone outside of society with devoutly artistic leanings (also outside of society). It's a word that has acquired some tarnish--does the bohemian--the uncompromising, unconventional, deviant bohemian--actually exist anymore? No true bohemian wants to be labeled a bohemian...right?

But I do.

And I think that's the point. We're all classified. I've been categorized as "Indian" and "girl" and "nerdy" and "grad student" and "lawyer" and "blue-haired girl" and all sorts of other unprintable stuff. If I'm going to be classified as anything, I'd like to choose the antiquated, anachronistic, slightly pretentious title of "Bohemian." (At least, in being pretentious, "bohemian" doesn't aspire to mean "hangs out with P.Diddy." "Bohemian," even as a poseur, aspires to mean "great" and "alive").

I may not qualify. Can one be a bohemian while having cable television, living in a doorman building, aspiring to be on a best seller list? Can one be a bohemian while writing law profiles instead of doing the one thing that makes the blood sing--writing novels, making "art?" I don't know. It sounds like a compromise, but I think that's the new bohemian--searching for a bohemia in a world that is filled with compromise, dealing with our unease at being part of that compromised world. Like when you blog instead of--well, writing the novel that makes your blood sing. Like when you watch Seinfeld and read People magazine and like it even though you know you could be truly enriched if you just picked up your battered copy of Les Fleurs du Mal. I think the new bohemians are the ones who are uneasy and feel compromised and juggle our mundane wants and with our higher needs, and learn to write or paint or perform about that. And the great ones manage to tie our individual struggles to a common humanity.

Um....pompous? Don't look at me; it's not even my own idea (I'm never above using other people's material). Over a century ago, Baudelaire wrote that the artist in modernity could only survive if he saw the marvellous in the banal. Is there anything more marvellous and more banal than the world we live in now?

These posts are getting too long. Someone stop me.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Court TV Valentine

When I'm excited, I tend to do things with a flourish. Especially entrances. I am known for good entrances. Of course, this can easily backfire. For example, I was having drinks with the ex-publisher of High Times, Richard Stratton, who wanted to talk to me about the possibility of working on a television series. This was very exciting. So I came into the bar, very excited. I yanked my cap off my head with a flourish and threw it onto the bar. Think Robin Hood doffing his cap to the Saxon peasants. As Richard and I were talking, however, I began to smell smoke. This is strange, since bars in New York do not allow smoking. It began to get overpowering, and I turned around to find my cap quietly smouldering. I had, with a flourish, dropped it onto a candle. I started beating at it and the friendly bartender brought ice and put it out, but my favorite cap now has a quarter-sized hole in it. So much for entrances.

My point, tenuous as it is, is that sometimes I get excited and make grand gestures and, well, set my cap on fire. This is particularly worrying as I am going to be on Court TV on Valentine's Day. Namely, as a guest on the Catherine Crier Show. Now, I do a cable show every week, but I'm a little worried as this is a nationwide show. It doesn't help that Catherine Crier was a Texas prosecutor who became a state judge, before going into journalism. When you write a book that purports to tell people who to "survive sex, drugs and petty crime," you worry about appearing on television with, well, a Texas judge who, as someone noted, may not see eye-to-eye with my free-thinking left-wing rampant liberalism.

I admit it. Everytime I give an interview, I'm terrified that some federal prosecutor or state judge or U.S. Attorney General is going to say "Young Lady, on page 167, you say the penalty for such-and-such is this, when it is clearly thus-and-so. This book is rife with errors and is a serious danger to those who read it thinking it pertains to the actual laws of the United States. You must obviously be a great failure masquerading as an ex-lawyer. Both you and your parents must be ashamed of yourselves."

But I'm still excited. So maybe I can cover my usual sense of drama. Maybe I can say or do something outrageous that will distract her. Unfortunately, I only have one cap left

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My Fellow Bloggers

My kingdom for a hangover cure.

I should note that my kingdom largely consists of too many books, two loving hoodlum cats, a collection of fake fur coats, a decent laptop, and a now-broken mp3 player. But one person's trash is another person's treasure, so it's up for sale if someone can help me get rid of this headache and general sense of sluggish disenchantment.

It's always difficult, even on the best of days, when you wake up to make coffee and the cat vomits on your gorgeous Chinese silk duvet. Ozzy and his twin brother Rocco are my babies, and though they are filled with dog-like affection and almost spiritual playfulness, I wish they would be little my existence. Or, at least, act a little less like the dancing thugs in West Side Story.

Last night was fun, a bit of a comedy of errors given my cellphone, which is the AT&T equivalent of two tin cans attached by a highly dubious shoestring. And I got the date wrong for Hair Supply, the heavy metal Air Supply cover band. Nonetheless, a good night, from what I remember.

I did remember meeting a fellow blogger, a journalist who has recently started her own blog. We had an instant connection, the commonality of being part of a new writing endeavor. Blogging is such an odd activity, a kind of self-publishing that is always confessional, even when the subject isn't cat vomit. It's a place without edits, where you can write about yourself with absolutely no outward influence--if you like, that is. And yet, unlike a diary, it is still an act of communication, and, as all four of my lovely readers should know by know, I do believe the quality writing must take into account its audience.

Am now going to slap on one of those cooling blue gel masks. I do have plans to see a band tonight, and a business meeting with my former High Times editor, but mostly it will be a day of--yes, you guessed it: repentance and recovery.

(p.s. for those of you worried about the gorgeous Chinese silk duvet cover, it's fine. Just scrubbed it and dropped it into the wash and it's already good as new).

(p.p.s. for those of you worried about Ozzy, he has been given a crushed Pepcid in his food and seems to be doing fine)

(p.p.s.s. my fellow blogger's blog, which is sharply written and covers our fun-loving obsessions with fashion and shopping, can be accessed at the left, or here.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Decadent Poverty

I am not, in an empirical sense, poor. I don't have to worry about food or a place to live or clothing or feeding my cats. However, I am slipping into what I can only call a "Bohemian poverty," which has been romanticized everywhere, but which I never really wanted. It's transient, worrying, uneven, uncertain, and I like security and stability.

But, apparently, I didn't like them enough. Or, that is, I liked other things more. Because when I was a lawyer I had security and stability coming out of my ears. I was investing in a 401K (which I can't touch now) and pre-tax medical plans and a new computer and trips to Israel and Greece and London and the world's most expensive haircuts (pick any figure and multiply it buy three) and all the accoutrements that a Wall Street lifestyle demands. More than that, I had the instant respect of anyone once I told them I was a lawyer. It connoted respectability, intelligence and an earned place in society.

By those standards, I am now very poor. But in New York, being poor has a strangely decadent quality. So many in this city are living on the edge, (on a shoestring, with strings attached, hanging by a thread) and it all becomes impossibly spiky and tangled. If you sat at home like an ascetic, living on bread and water and trying to make sense of it...well, you don't get very far. You do, however, save money. Throw in some Simpsons reruns and an internet connection, and you have at least five evenings of my week.

The sixth night, however, is that kind of free-fall, where the night starts at sundown and ends at sun up. You meet rock stars and drug dealers and transsexual lounge singers and would-be screenwriters and artists whose medium is chalk on the sidewalks and graffiti on the walls. You say "I'll have one $7 drink," but then the spirit gets to you, of being out with fellow outsiders and miscreants, and it suddenly seems unbearably stingy not to buy a round, at least once. Your picture is taken, someone wants to work on a project with you, you meet an ex. You drink some more and flirt with the bartender (even if he's gay), and then you go to another bar where the music is too loud but the beat gets to you anyway and the bartender looks straight. You get drunker and friends tell you their secret sexual fantasies and every time you go to the bathroom it takes longer because you become fascinated by all the scribbling on the walls. You go to see a heavy metal band that only plays Air Supply songs, and then to a fashionista party where people stare at your cheap vintage fake furs from the Salvation Army, and everyone seems impossibly thin and bored. You get tired, you get a second wind, you kiss some guy who played bass in a band you once saw, you write his number on your hand but it's smeared before you leave the bar. Then the bars start closing and you look for one that will close its shutters but let you stay inside, and maybe they'll overlook the drugs your friends are doing and let you play some Duran Duran on the jukebox. And by the time you really, really have to go home, you're out of cash, maybe for the second time that night because you tried to be frugal the first time you got cash, but it's no problem because every deli, diner and newsstand has ATM's that are giving you come-hither looks like unbearably sexy hookers.

This is what I've got planned for tonight anyway. Money or no money, you don't move forward in life by shutting down, staying indoors, living in penitence because you are incapable of working a "real job." You go out there, you start some fireworks, you drink and maybe it's excessive and extravagant and impractical, but what can you do? This is the city you chose to live in.

(p.s. for those of who you are wondering, the seventh day is for recovery. And repentance)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Inside Inside Deep Throat

There seem to be an inordinate amount of horror movies out there, all featuring spooky kids. Greasy haired spooky white kids who like to sing nursery rhymes really slowly. This, of course, begs the question of why none of the dead Black or Asian kids get spooky. They must be in the pleasant afterlife. No--wait, The Grudge had dead spooky Japanese kids, but they looked less Japanese and more like Eddie Munster.

This isn't really what I want to write about, but actually, I've had a shitty day. A friend asked why I don't vent against my foes in this blog, but I'm not sure that makes interesting reading (which should be among the writer's top priorities, I think). If, for example, I were to describe the beautiful but evil book packager who has spent a year weaseling out of contracts with an animal-like cunning, then I would be seen only as vindictive. And, on the other hand, if I were to rail against the pampered, completely irresponsible so-called author who is using my words as his own, but "doesn't know when he can pay me,"--well, really, how much of that can one endure? (No, really, I'm asking you. At what point can I hire a hitman?)

The day started out fine but disintegrated into a mess and I should probably do you the courtesy of sparing you what I could not myself be spared.

So, instead, I would like to talk about Deep Throat. Not mine in particular, but Inside Deep Throat, the documentary on Deep Throat, the Porn Movie. (As opposed to Deep Throat, Chekov play upon which the film was based) (God, that isn't even my line. I'm actually borrowing material here.)

Anyway, the documentary is very sharply done, and a really cool commentary on my favorite subjects (sorry, mom) sex and law. What I didn't quite know was that before Deep Throat came out, it was virtually impossible to show a graphic sex scene on any movie theater. Of course, once it became "porno chic," everyone from Jack Nicholson to Dick Cavett was slumming down in Times Square to see it. (Actually Jack was already down there)

The off-screen stuff was just as interesting (if less limber) than the naked people on-screen: dozens of obscenity trials in various states to shut the movie theaters down, a federal prosecution of the leading man (he was found guilty, but never sent to jail), the argument that the film was immoral because it promoted the idea that a clitoral orgasm was actually equivalent to a vaginal one ( I can't even think of a joke here), and a somewhat light-in-the-head leading lady who went from nobody to sex symbol to porn-hating feminist to, well, fifty-year old porn queen. And of course, all this repression led to a monstrously successful, yet resolutely mediocre porn industry where the women now look like blow-up dolls and the men are like gay Chippendale dancers, and you just know that if the director yelled cut they'd climb off each other and rather coolly reapply their body glitter. Sure, in the old days they had those gross handlebar mustaches, but at least they all looked like they were having fun.

Okay, I've got to go. I'm starting to sound like a crochety old lady and my jokes are bitter and bad. And, well, since I spent most of the 70's being generally under the age of six, I may not actually know what I'm talking about. All I remember was the wood paneling on our station wagon, and that boys had cooties.

I think they still might, actually. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Celebrity Gossip

This is a long entry. But it's about celebrities, so maybe it won't matter

Living in New York, you see celebrities everywhere. There is really only one way to respond to a celebrity sighting, which is to roll your eyes and ignore the celebrity entirely. Sometimes this is easy, like when they're shooting a bad television show on your block and all those trailers and hangers-on means you have to go the long way with your groceries. That's just plain annoying. But in a bar, with the celebrity right there, it's important to keep your cool and ignore them as much as possible, unless, by some ridiculous fluke, they are actually talking directly to you.

Why? Because when you try to meet a celebrity, there are only three possible things that you really want to say:

1. "I really love your work," which is like commenting on elevator music.
2. "Please take an interest in me and my work, and make me famous/rich."
3. "Hang out with me so I can be cool and get into cool clubs and talk about you to my friends in the morning."

All these are tempting, but I resolutely stick to spotting celebrities like they are distant, colorful birds. ("Look, there's David Byrne with a motorcycle helmet" or "Look, there's Candice Bergen screaming into a cell phone.")

This lesson was hard won. Witness the following story.

I was invited to a small gathering for the birthday of professional magician JB Benn (of the A&E television show "Mondo Magic") Like most magicians, he planned on being the entertainment at his own party. The party included an absurdly famous and funny movie star we shall call "Mr. M," and his wife "Mrs. M." There was also a stunning Broadway actor who is not relevant to this story, except I kept fluttering my lashes at him and he paid no attention. And there was "Richard" another ridiculously famous celebrity known for left-wing politial causes, with his angelically pretty ladyfriend.

It is difficult to sit through 2 hours worth of magic, even when it is mind-boggling. It is even more difficult when your audience is made up of people who are used to being on center stage. The magic was constantly interupted by jokes and one-upmanship, and during the chaos, "Richard's" very cool ladyfriend and I hit it off and became friends.

I started hanging with the Ladyfriend and never really expected to see "Richard," but he showed up once. I was resolved never, ever to be some annoying fan around him, even though I was a huge fan. But when Ladyfriend went to the bathroom, "Richard" asked me what I did, and I told him about The Street Law Handbook. He thought it was a great idea, and said the magic words "Call me, I'd love to help."

When a celebrity says this, it could mean one of two things:
1. They are bored and looking for a new, hot project to work on.
2. They are being polite.

I assumed the former. I was on creative overdrive. I came up with plans and schemes and asked "Richard" for advice on all of them. I asked him about publicity. I gave him one of my galleys.

As I was doing this, two things started to happen. First, while "Richard" did write to tell me he loved the book, he never got more involved other than to send me the occasional monosyllabic email and to tell me to get a good publicist. Second, I started to feel like the worst kind of parasitic syncophant. I imagined him having a hunted look every time I walked into the room. I had become one of those people--who Wants Something From The Celebrity. I stopped writing. Eventually, the Ladyfriend and "Richard" cooled off, and I haven't seen him in a while.

I learned my lesson. A friend said that he never should have offered, but I think I should have been more cautious. The basic truth is that a celebrity sighting is just the sighting of a stranger. If you are meant to talk, you will, and the best thing to do is ask for nothing, not even their company, unless they are absolutely determined to give it to you, come hell or high water.

Now, there's only one question. Exactly how do I keep to this particular rule, and still lure celebrities to talk on my television show?