by Elizabeth Hand
I HADN’T HEARD FROM Miles for several months when he wrote to ask if I wanted to get together for lunch. Of course I did, and several days later I met him at a noisy, cheerful restaurant at South Bank. It was early February, London still somewhat dazed by the heavy snowfall that had recently paralyzed the city. The Thames seemed a river of lead; a black skim of ice made the sidewalks treacherous—I’d seen another man fall as I’d walked from Waterloo Station—and I wished I’d worn something warmer than the old wool greatcoat I’d had since college.
But once settled into the seat across from Miles, all that fell away.
“You’re looking well, Robbie,” he said, smiling.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
BOMB 4/Fall 1982
The productive climate throughout Europe from about 1900 on, was based, more or less, on the promise of a new world that industry would provide. The political movements, and ensuing wars and revolutions, served both to destroy and calcify idealism in the arts. As we approach the 21st century, we can clearly see that our hopes have been dashed; we grope blindly for a new set of ideals upon which to base a new ideology. Our links to this glorious past are quickly disappearing. All us youngsters (anyone under 50), can only dream of Paris in the twenties, the luxury of sea travel, stately old hotels in undiscovered corners of paradise, and the efficient hush of servants. In a country where underwear is still ironed, and villages spring up overnight, Paul Bowles, one of those links to the past, has chosen to make his home. Despite television, one still has the sense of being isolated in Morocco.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
The Art of Fiction No. 67
THE PARIS REVIEW No. 81
Interviewed by Jeffrey Bailey
The Tangier that once greeted Bowles in 1931, promising “wisdom and ecstasy,” bears little resemblance to the Tangier of the 1970s. The frenetic medina, with its souks, its endless array of tourist boutiques, its perennial hawkers and hustlers is still there, of course, though fifty years ago it had already been dwarfed by the European city and its monuments to colonialism: the imperious French Consulate, the Café de Paris, luxury hotels in the grand style (the Minzah, the Velasquez, the Villa de France), the now forlornly abandoned Teatro Cervantes, and the English church with its cemetery filled with the remains of knight commanders, baronets, and the prodigal sons of former empires. The days of Tangier as the wide-open international city of intrigue are gone forever. Today it is simply one city of a third-world country in flux, slowly but steadily coming to grips with the twentieth century.
For those of a romantic bent, however, the power of Tangier to evoke images of the inscrutable East remains potent, despite the ravages of modernity. It still seems an appropriate place to find Paul Bowles. Any American who comes to Tangier bearing more than a casual curiosity about Morocco and a vague concern for music and literature considers a visit with Bowles an absolute must; for some, it even assumes the reverential character of a pilgrimage. In no way, however, does Bowles see himself as an object of special interest. Indeed, such an attitude strikes him as being amusingly naive, if not downright silly.
He lives in a three-room apartment in a quiet residential section of Tangier. His flat, located in a fifties-futuristic building in sight of the American consulate, is comfortably unimposing, though it does testify to his days as a world traveler: souvenirs from Asia, Mexico, black Africa; a bookcase lined with personally inscribed volumes by Burroughs, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Vidal; an entryway in which vintage trunks and suitcases are stacked shoulder high, as if a voyage of indefinite length were perpetually in the offing.
Our first meeting took place in the summer of 1976. I arrived at his door in the early afternoon. I found him newly awakened, his thick white hair tousled and pale blue eyes slightly bleary; he was obviously surprised that anyone would come to call at that hour of the day. As he finished his breakfast and lighted up his first cigarette, his thin, somewhat wiry frame relaxed noticeably. He became increasingly jovial.
Evidently, however, my timing hadn’t been particularly good. The tape recorder had just begun to roll when a series of visitors announced themselves with persistent rings of the doorbell: his chauffeur, his maid, a woman friend from New York, an American boy who’d taken the apartment downstairs, and, eventually, Mohammed Mrabet. Handsome in a rugged and brooding way, Mrabet asked me to bring him, on my return to Tangier, a pistol with nine chambers as there were apparently nine people upon whose elimination he was intent at that time.
As it turned out, I had reason to be grateful for his and the other interruptions. They enabled me to return and talk at length with Bowles that evening, the next day, and two more times over the following year and a half.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
A former advertising director who followed his brother Ridley (now Sir Ridley) to Hollywood, his glossy, commercial sensibility powered films such as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II and Days of Thunder – testosterone-filled movies described by one critic as “visual amphetamines”.
A director with little interest in ideas or morality, he created a visual sheen that lingered in the memory long after narrative and characters were forgotten. Although he was accused of vulgarity and excessive love of hardware, Scott instinctively understood the power of images and was obsessive in his quest for visual impact.
But for all the reviewing community’s artistic unease, Scott was that rarest of beasts: a British filmmaker with a blockbuster reputation. That he lived in Hollywood, collected Ferraris and Harleys and hustled through relationships, only further alienated the sensibilities of his European peers.
He had extraordinary energy, producing and directing movies, making advertisements and, with his brother “Rid”, buying and managing Shepperton studios. Often involved with 20 projects simultaneously, he relaxed by climbing mountains and running. If his films were often accused of having a shiny core where the insight or empathy might have been, no one disputed his contention that his interest lay with “people who live their life on the edge”.
Anthony David Scott was born in North Shields on July 21 1944, seven years after his brother Ridley, and educated at Stockton-on-Tees. He enjoyed painting and rugby, while the proximity of the moors encouraged a love of the wild he retained all his life. Each summer in his youth he hitchhiked to the Alps to climb.
While at grammar school, he appeared as the title character in his brother’s first short film, Boy On A Bicycle. He then studied painting at Sunderland Art School, Leeds College of Art and Design and finally, on a scholarship, the Royal College .
Realising that he was unlikely to sustain a career as a painter, he joined his brother’s fledgling television production company. Ridley recalled: “I knew he had a fondness for cars, so I told him, 'Come work with me and within a year you’ll have a Ferrari.’ And he did.”
Ridley also taught Tony the techniques of making lush, high-quality shorts and, when he left for Hollywood, passed on several gold-tinted franchises, including the Hovis advert, featuring another boy on a bicycle. While Ridley enjoyed early success with Alien and Blade Runner, Tony made thousands of commercials, evolving a singular visual style and winning awards for his work for Chanel, Marlboro and Levis.
After Ridley’s success, and that of fellow “out-of-advertising” British filmmakers such as Alan Parker, Adrian Lyne and David Puttnam, it was inevitable that Tony Scott would try his luck in Hollywood.
But his first feature – the dark, moody The Hunger (1983), starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve – was almost his last. A self-consciously arty, Gothic tale of a vampire forced to find a cure for her rapidly ageing lover, the film was a self-confessed “total knock-off of Nic Roeg’s Performance”, and most memorable for a lesbian love scene between Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.
Despite sumptuous cinematography (albeit compromised by Scott’s fatal attraction to the shorthand of advertising — coloured filters, exquisitely photographed smoke, fluttering curtains, shafts of light streaming through blinds), the film was mauled by the critics and Hollywood insiders. The director recalled that, after the first screening, “on my parking space my name was painted out. I couldn’t get anyone on the phone. Nobody had the balls to tell me I’d been fired.”
He returned to making commercials until the producer Jerry Bruckheimer hired him to direct Top Gun (1986). Initially he couldn’t “see” the movie. “I wanted to make Apocalypse Now on an aircraft carrier. Then I got it. It’s rock-and-roll, silver jets in a bright blue sky, good-looking guys.” Taking his “look” from a Bruce Weber photograph — Scott was a self-confessed magpie — he created the ultimate feelgood movie in which Tom Cruise’s air force recruit tried to pass out top of the flying academy and retain the love of Kelly McGillis.
The film, described by one critic as “a sleek, pulsating paean to testosterone”, took $350 million at the box office, propelled Cruise to superstar status and Scott on to the Hollywood A-list.
He was rewarded with Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), a hugely successful action sequel starring Eddie Murphy’s wisecracking, rule-busting policeman which confirmed Scott as a director capable of delivering high-energy drama loosely attached to a plot.
Both hits were made with Jerry Bruckheimer, who kept Scott’s less commercial instincts at bay, and when Scott made his next film without Bruckheimer, it showed. Revenge (1990) was a darker thriller, a story of adultery in Mexico starring Kevin Costner and Madeleine Stowe. It leaned towards a darker palette reminiscent of the paintings of Francis Bacon that had inspired Scott as a student – and was panned.
Back in the cockpit with his usual producer and a familiar star, Days of Thunder (1991) was Top Gun in a different machine. With fighter pilots replaced by racing drivers, Cruise reprised his role as the talented but reckless young buck who has to control his emotions as much as his motor. But the movie failed to repeat his earlier success, the public evidently taking the view that there was no point in watching the same film twice.
Scott was conscious that he was being typecast as a director of blockbusters, so when he was introduced to a video store employee, unknown scriptwriter and fledgling filmmaker called Quentin Tarantino, he tried to buy the rights to True Romance and Reservoir Dogs . Tarantino refused to sell Reservoir Dogs, using the money Scott paid for True Romance to fund filming it.
But his script for True Romance, a Bonnie and Clyde-themed tale of a hooker and her lover on the run from almost everyone, was sharp-edged and allowed Scott the opportunity to focus on individuals as much as action. Although it attracted a cast including Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Patricia Arquette, Christian Slater and, in a cameo, Samuel L Jackson, initial reactions were lukewarm — though it attained cult status after the by now ludicrously hip Tarantino blessed it.
Having established his ability to handle the egos of multiple stars in a single picture, the permanently pink baseball-capped, cigar-toting Scott had little trouble attracting Hollywood’s finest to his projects. Crimson Tide (1995) starred Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington as two submariners without radio contact to base who take opposing views over whether they should launch a nuclear attack on a Russian island.
The Fan (1996), which portrayed a baseball fan stalking his hero, starred Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin, Wesley Snipes and Benicio Del Toro, and was followed by Enemy of the State (1998), a hi-tech thriller in which Will Smith’s hapless lawyer was forced to take on the government machine. An opportunity for the director to pay homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s paranoid classic The Conversation, what Enemy of the State lacked in originality it made up in pace and in Gene Hackman’s beautifully understated portrayal of a tired, cynical investigator.
Spy Game (2001), which had to be cut after the September 11 terrorist attacks, again examined the not always beneficent power of the state. The film portrayed retiring spymaster Robert Redford’s attempts to spring his young partner (Brad Pitt) from a Chinese jail, where he faced execution for spying, despite the refusal of his bosses to help.
Scott’s technical skills and his obsession with cinematography at the expense of narrative were again visible in Man On Fire (2004). This starred Denzel Washington as a tortured ex-CIA agent hired to protect a child in Mexico City who was, to no one’s surprise, kidnapped. Displaying all Scott’s capacity for hi-tech mayhem with hand-held camera shots and jump-cut editing, the hackneyed story bounded along furiously towards its inevitable conclusion.
Domino (2005), which starred Keira Knightley as the heiress-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey, was universally panned, as much for its woeful miscasting as for the over-exuberant editing which elbowed what little plausible narrative there was aside.
Denzel Washington also starred in two of Scott’s more recent films, The Taking Of Pelham 123 (2009) and Unstoppable (2010). Latterly Scott had been producing for television as well as films.
For a director of such energy and success, Scott was a surprisingly soft-spoken man who retained his Geordie accent all his life. He indulged his love of fast cars, motorbikes and women, and his highly publicised affair with Sylvester Stallone’s ex-wife and the female lead of Beverly Hills Cop II, Brigitte Nielson, put paid to his own second marriage.
Reportedly a man who needed only three hours’ sleep a night, he awoke to three cups of black coffee and a large Monte Cristo – the first of 12 each day. He was a passionate mountaineer who claimed to be never happier than when “5,000ft up on a cliff face”. An art collector of catholic tastes, he acquired works by artists ranging from Robert Rauschenberg to Guido Reni.
The Scott brothers did not suffer from sibling rivalry; rather, they worked together over Shepperton, understood their respective strengths and rejoiced at each other’s success. “Ridley makes films for posterity,” Tony once observed. “My films are more rock ’n’ roll.”
Tony Scott, who apparently committed suicide by jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles, married three times and divorced twice. His second marriage was to the BBC producer Glynis Staunton. He is survived by his third wife, Donna, and their two children.
Tony Scott, born July 21 1944, died August 19 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Bear Who Let It Alone
By James Thurber
In the woods of the Far West there once lived a brown bear who could take it or let it alone. He would go into a bar where they sold mead, a fermented drink made of honey, and he would have just two drinks. Then he would put some money on the bar and say, "See what the bears in the back room will have," and he would go home. But finally he took to drinking by himself most of the day.
He would reel home at night, kick over the umbrella stand, knock down the bridge lamps, and ram his elbows through the windows. Then he would collapse on the floor and lie there until he went to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.
At length the bear saw the error of his ways and began to reform. In the end he became a famous teetotaler and a persistent temperance lecturer. He would tell everybody that came to his house about the awful effects of drink, and he would boast about how strong and well he had become since he gave up touching the stuff. To demonstrate this, he would stand on his head and on his hands and he would turn cartwheels in the house, kicking over the umbrella stand, knocking down the bridge lamps, and ramming his elbows through the windows.
Then he would lie down on the floor, tired by his healthful exercise, and go to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.
Moral: You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
THE LAST FLOWER
by James Thurber
These are pictures from James Thurber's "A Thurber Carnival", most specifically "The Last Flower". It is a very compelling story and has a very universal theme. I set it to the Summer Overture from the movie "Requiem for a Dream" movie soundtrack.
BIOGRAPHY OF JAMES THURBER
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Owl Who Was God
by James Thurber
Once upon a starless midnight there was an owl who sat on the branch of an oak tree. Two ground moles tried to slip quietly by, unnoticed. "You!" said the owl. "Who?" they quavered, in fear and astonishment, for they could not believe it was possible for anyone to see them in that thick darkness. "You two!" said the owl. The moles hurried away and told the other creatures of the field and forest that the owl was the greatest and wisest of all animals because he could see in the dark and because he could answer any question. "I’ll see about that, "said a secretary bird, and he called on the owl one night when it was again very dark. "How many claws am I holding up?" said the secretary bird. "Two," said the owl, and that was right. "Can you give me another expression for ‘that is to say’ or ‘namely’?" asked the secretary bird. "To wit," said the owl. "Why does the lover call on his love?" "To woo," said the owl.
The secretary bird hastened back to the other creatures and reported that the owl indeed was the greatest and wisest animal in the world because he could see in the dark and because he could answer any question. "Can he see in the daytime, too?" asked a red fox? "Yes," answered a dormouse and a French poodle. "Can he see in the daytime, too?" All the other creatures laughed loudly at this silly question, and they set upon the red fox and his friends and drove them out of the region. They sent a messenger to the owl and asked him to be their leader.
When the owl appeared among the animals it was high noon and the sun was shining brightly. He walked very slowly, which gave him an appearance of great dignity, and he peered about him with large, staring eyes, which gave him an air of tremendous importance. "He’s God!" screamed a Plymouth rock hen. And the others took up the cry "He’s God!" So they followed him wherever he went and when he bumped into things they began to bump into things, too. Finally he came to a concrete highway and he started up the middle of it and all the other creatures followed him. Presently a hawk, who was acting as outrider, observed a truck coming toward them at fifty miles an hour, and he reported to the secretary bird and the secretary bird reported to the owl. "There’s danger ahead," said the secretary bird. "To wit?" said the owl. The secretary bird told him. "Aren’t you afraid?" he asked. "Who?" said the owl calmly, for he could not see the truck. "He’s God!" cried all the creatures again, and they were still crying "He’s God" when the truck hit them and ran them down. Some of the animals were merely injured, but most of them, including the owl, were killed.
Moral: You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Miranda May Kerr (born 20 April 1983) is an Australian model. Kerr rose to prominence in 2007 as one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. She is the first Australian to participate in the Victoria's Secret campaign and also represents Australian fashion chain David Jones.
Kerr began modeling in the fashion industry when she was 13, starting at Chaay's Modelling Agency, and soon after winning a 1997 Australian nationwide model search hosted by Dolly magazine and Impulse fragrances. She is married to English actor Orlando Bloom.
|Photo by Willy Vanderperre|
In January 2011, Kerr became the first pregnant model for Vogue when featured in Vogue Australia, being six months pregnant at the time of the shoot. In March she hit the catwalk for Balenciaga's Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear collection as part of Paris Fashion Week, two months after giving birth. Kerr also posed nude for a 2011 Harper's Bazaar photo shoot. In October at Paris Fashion Week SS12 she walked the runway for Christian Dior, Lanvin, Chanel, John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf and Loewe. Kerr was chosen to present the $2.5 million Victoria's Secret Fantasy Treasure Bra for their fashion show in November 2011.In January 2012, she was named ambassador for Qantas.