Or was the problem that, at that point in his career, even with an Oscar nomination and an appearance on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and a slew of magazine stories about the postmodern phenomenon of James Franco, the industry represented in the Kodak Theater still didn’t have a very strong impression of James Franco himself, hence no basis from which to find the idea of James Franco in drag funny? Or maybe the ghost of a dead, real movie star just kind of absorbed a present-tense virtual star the way a sponge absorbs water.
—“The Color of Beige”, A Short Story by James Franco (but really by Matt Zoller Seitz)
Well, one of them. I was thinking about it today in a petit bakery when I stood behind an octogenarian who could not decide what kind of croissant she wanted to order. (Sidenote: In 80 years if you cannot learn that the answer is always either plain or chocolate, I really doubt the nature of essential truths). Anyways, enjoy, the ballad of Milly and Ruth.
Picture it: 2007, two over-eighties in full-length fur coats are clogging Midtown foot traffic while one rifles through her enormous handbag for some odd thing. As people push by the two women, they decide to converse at full-volume. Upper West Side judaica accents. 92nd-St-Y-people. The type of women who might attend a mid-day screening of a Cary Grant film and set you up with a looker at a bris.
Milly: Ruth, you will not believe what Ira did yesterday. You will not believe it!
Ruth: Oh yeah? What did the old putz do?
Milly: We are sitting at our favorite coffee shop for breakfast, you know, like we do, and he says, let me get up and get you a muffin. And of course I’m busy doing one thing or another so I says, Ira, fine, get me a muffin if you are in such a hurry. Who knows why you are in such a hurry, you can barely walk. I could call over ten waiters in the time he gets to the counter. But who am I to stop him? So he gets up and asks me the kind of muffin I want.
Ruth: He doesn’t know?
Milly: I know, silly Milly, right? After all these years, my own husband has to ask! But I says, it’s fine Ira, you know what I like. And off he goes. And he brings back a CORN MUFFIN.
Ruth: A corn muffin?
Milly: A corn muffin! And I says, IRA. 50 years married and YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL!
End scene. I loved them.
- R: what should i do this week?
- A: rediscover oregano
- listen to porcelain raft
- eat a piece of crumb cake
- watch downton abbey
- start thinking about your summer look
- think of ways we could kill joyce carol oates
- i would like to put her in a burlap sack and toss her into the river
- or maybe dip her in caramel and roll her in candy and feed her to toni morrison
Is one of my favorite reviewers, for so many reasons. But these few paragraphs are one of them:
These things wouldn’t matter much, though, if her sentences didn’t make such a sensual, smart, wired-up sound on the page. Holding “Day of Honey” I was reminded of the way that, with a book of poems, you can very often flip through it for five minutes and know if you’re going to like it; you get something akin to a contact high. Let me skim through “Day of Honey” for you, plucking lines and snippets almost at random. A few I had underlined in my copy, many I hadn’t.
“Hatred was the force that determined where you lived”; “she was too kidnappable”; “What god leant down and whispered in what mortal ear to put walnuts inside an eggplant?”; “joyful, revolutionary mall rats”; “chain-smoking her Davidoffs and squeezing lemons into vodka”; “Beirut is a city of balconies”; “He whimpered the way men do when you wake them up”; “bombed into a concrete goulash”; “Hezbollah is known for many things, but grace under criticism is not one of them.”
I could fill the rest of this space with resonant lines from “Day of Honey,” and I’m pretty tempted to do so. (O.K., another one: the huge white Toyota Land Cruisers “were ‘Monicas,’ after the former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.”) But there is more to say about it. For one, don’t be put off by its feeble cover, a sentimental photograph of a cute and smiling Middle Eastern girl sitting beside a pile of cut pink flowers. It looks like the cover of some mediocre nonprofit group’s annual report, or of Guideposts magazine.
I would like to start a band called “No… But Yes.”
Someday I will make t-shirts for the debut “Gah” show.
From an email I just got:
From this: “But Jessica Simpson has never been about snob appeal. As her business manager, David Levin, explains, the original idea behind Simpson’s fashion brands was this: “A girl could go to the shopping mall with her mother and she’d have a great new outfit and still have some money left for lunch at McDonald’s. She can look like Jessica Simpson, smell like Jessica Simpson, and she can afford it.””
I know that I’m not the only one reading the parallel syntax implication that Jessica Simpson smells like McDonald’s.
Having a Coke With You, by Frank O’Hara
Having a Coke with You
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it.
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.
One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.”