the lawyer writer

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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).


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