all the fun of the FAIR!

darlings

lots of pictures ahead.

*peersworriedlythroughtheinterweb*

have you eaten?

you might need a snack or at least a cup of warm milk.

we’ll wait.

*taps_toe*

welcome back.

ready?

here we go….

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who-we-are-in-RL is writing another Piece of Journalism about the Future so the house has piles of strange tomes everywhere…

*looksworriedlytocamera*

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it doesn’t look a Bit like Nancy Mitford‘s works. Not in the Slightest. 125251b2227711e3ba1322000ae91369_7

but last night the books were set Aside and we headed out into the night and attended a lovely (packed) screening of the documentary “Los Angeles Plays Itself”, directed by Mr. Thom Andersen who was there at the event to give us a little overview of this new Cut of his film. Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 8.26.37 PMnow we are Totally (as they say in the Valley) in Love with Los Angeles so we were a Tiny bit surprised by the laconic, witty but rather disapproving VoiceOver that took issue with how Hollywood portrays its native city. 

we shall forgive Mr. Andersen because it was lovely to see so much of L.A as depicted by Hollywood and also because he is an august member of an Academic Establishment and so one must expect more ennui than enthusiasm. 
e44da50422ef11e3b6c622000a1f92d1_7then – early this morning – we had a frothy coffee with a Friend on the westside who has just had some rather delicious (nuptial-related) News so there was a small amount of Whooping (which is Rare on the Westside). 

do come to a party tonight!

she said.

oh! we can’t….

we replied.

we’re off to the FAIR!

and so we tidied up the tea spoons on the cafe table (we’re Awfully Neat) and drove for Ages towards the Easterly direction and ended up in Pomona at the Los Angeles County Fair.

together with a few Thousand Other People.

(which should not have surprised us, but it did – people for MILES – and cars parked for forever – we had to take a “Tram” to the Fair itself – the idea!)

was it great?

it REALLY was.

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as you can see there were Lots of Animals – some of which were in a “Petting Zoo” which is a phrase in England that one doesn’t use in relation to animals (unless one is incredibly liberal) but more of what the Teens were Getting Up To* in the fairground itself.

*we have a feeling that a few people were going to “wake up in a relationship” tomorrow and wonder What Happened.

just saying.

not that That’s ever happened to us (well, not for many years, darlings).

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there was also Horse Racing at the fair.

not a Cecil Beaton design in the Stands to be seen – but a horse race Does remind us of the Film.

can you see this Transmission in your Territory?

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fairgrounds always remind us of our (terribly mis-spent) Youth.

for the small town that we grew up in had a Fair each summer.

actually we *think* there were Two.

one was May Day (a smaller affair after the grand Parade with the Carnival Queen and Carnival Princess – we played neither role – in fact, we already sported a Vast Black Sweater and hung out with a Poetic Despair over the front wall as the Parade Went Past)

the other was late Summer – well, the one weekend where one is (almost) guaranteed to have hot and heavy sunshine late into the long night – so we’re assuming it was the last weekend in August.

the Fair people would arrive in town and everyone would get dressed up and then covered in candy floss (“cotton candy” for our American Friends) and Squeal as the boyz operating the bumper cars jumped on the back and took a turn around the dance floor on the back of one’s (usually yellow) “car”.

the mood turned Darker as soon as the small children had gone home and it became Rather Bacchanalian as we recall *coughs* – not that we can recall a Great Deal of those years.

then, the day after the fairground people had packed up and jumped into their huge lorries (trucks) wiping grease-stained hands on very well-worn Levi 501s the Town was a little bereft and certainly quieter.

until the bumps started to show on some of the “girls” who had forgotten to say no.

yes.

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and we had a feeling that Pomona was That Sort of Town today.

much squealing on the Rides was observed.

say. no. more.

and so we left before it got Dark/darker.

driving West on a late-late-late summer’s night means only one thing.
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divine skies. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

glorious sunsets. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and Very Sci-Fi moments on the I-60 freeway (the 1-10 was a nightmare, we had to ask the lovely GPS in the perfectly silver prius to take us down back roads and Alt. routes). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhich meant we arrived back in Los Angeles via downtown.

the lilac light settling between the skyscrapers was gently mystical.

just like a fairground before the twinkle lights are extinguished for another year.

 

through the lens of the muse @BertSternMadman by @shannahstar

darlings

it’s late = 22:36 (if one is familiar with the 24-hour clock as per the custom of europeans) in los angeles right now but we wanted to write before this evening fades in our head through dreams to come.

it’s been a Busy Day (and a very good one – our new life in los angeles is barely 3 months old but emerging from its chrysalis into something indeed beautiful, even if we don’t quite know as what, as yet).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe just got back from seeing the documentary about Bert Stern, directed by Shannah Laumeister, which was playing at the Nuart (take sunset boulevard the opposite way away from hollywood towards the ocean and cut down just after the I-405 to santa monica).

the screening was at 19:30 but we stayed for the director’s Q&A (because we adore a director’s Q&A)

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Bert Stern, as you may recall, took extraordinary photographs – and then disappeared into a hole of who-knows-what-demons (and the documentary does a good job of not-attempting-to-explain-the-inexplicable) – before re-emerging and re-building and re-establishing not just a Studio and a new body of work but a Life.

alas, not with any serenity or peace though, it seems.

full of dark questions and a troubled brow, Mr. Stern quotes Sartre’s famous line: “Hell is other people” and we know we’re not in for one of those 3rd act transformations into white linen flowing shirts with a house in Provence and chubby grandchildren squeezing fresh peach juice as the archivists keep the whole place afloat.

now to the creative force behind this documentary (brava, lady) – Shannah Laumeister – who is one of the only women we can think of (unless you know otherwise and do Tell so we can update this post) who is the Muse turned Director.

Shannah has appeared in front of Bert Stern’s camera (from a remarkably tender age) for more than twenty years and so it is extraordinary that she turned the tables on him for this, her first documentary.

may we introduce a little cultural theory (considering we did study it at London University – you may have guessed as much)?

in 1975, Laura Mulvey published an essay in Screen magazine which addressed the nature of the “male gaze” (the entire piece is here but we warn you it was 1975 and so mentions castration, patriarchy and Freud in the first page and is no less hard-hitting as it progresses).

our friends at wikipedia have pulled out a most useful precis here.

The “male gaze” in feminist theory

In her 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Laura Mulvey introduced the second-wave feminist concept of “male gaze” as a feature of gender power asymmetry in film. The concept was present in earlier studies of the gaze, but it was Mulvey who brought it to the forefront. Mulvey stated that women were objectified in film because heterosexual men were in control of the camera. Hollywood films played to the models of voyeurism and scopophilia.[3] The concept has subsequently been influential in feminist film theory and media studies.[citation needed]

The male gaze[4] occurs when the camera puts the audience into the perspective of a heterosexual man. It may linger over the curves of a woman’s body, for instance.[5] The woman is usually displayed on two different levels: as an erotic object for both the characters within the film, as well as the spectator who is watching the film. The man emerges as the dominant power within the created film fantasy. The woman is passive to the active gaze from the man. This adds an element of ‘patriarchal‘ order and it is often seen in “illusionistic narrative film”.[6] Mulvey argues that, in mainstream cinema, the male gaze typically takes precedence over the female gaze, reflecting an underlying power asymmetry

we wrote our thesis (alas, before the interweb and so not published anywhere for which we are Most grateful as we were Young, naive and Very Opinionated in those days) on what could be construed as the “female gaze”.

we posited a notion about fractured narrative, subjective and more personal camera work and so on using the work of first independent American film director, Maya Deren (most notably her 1943 work – Meshes of the Afternoon) to illustrate what might be involved in a most specifically “female gaze”.

it is not that women make women’s pictures (necessarily) but that a documentary about the so-called “original Mad Man” if directed by a man would have been a squaring-off or a comparison, a lingering look (jealousy?) at the women who surrounded Bert Stern – it would have been one man pitched against another – that’s how it is (or was?) – men measure out their lives against other men.

Laura Mulvey argues that there is an obsessive gaze (with the man behind the camera) towards the subject who has no voice, no recourse – in fact we could quote Mr. James Woods who was at the screening this evening and said (not just to us, to the whole auditorium of guests):

this was a chilling look, for me, as a man, at how Hollywood still destroys women after objectifying them on screen.

(Mr. James Woods was talking about contemporary female stars and the way they appear to be treated in much the same way as dear Marilyn).

here’s the point (you knew there was one, eventually, non?)

Shannah Laumeister has no need to compare herself to Bert Stern – she is deeply curious about who this man was – is – imagined himself to be – what happened – the devastating effect on those around him – in other words – she is free to tell the Story as She sees it (because she is the director – someone else would have made different choices but the delicious fact is – it’s Her Film).

her camera work is intrusive at times, at others almost misty-on-the-lens – she is In the movie because she is part of the Story – it is not a hagiography – she does not embalm or bestow sainthood – she does not lighten the dark load that Mr. Stern still struggles under.

what are we trying to say?

here goes: only a female director could have made this documentary, in this way.

and that is Truly Exciting to see.

there are many stories to be told – and many storytellers to tell them – and the interweb and lighter cameras and digital (expensive film stock was definitely a hindrance to learning one’s trade without a trust fund – and so few – if any trust fund babies made a good movie) have made it Possible for us all to do so now – across the world – instantly – sharing in multiple languages across time zones that divide us.

the other very Exciting piece (for us – as this is our blog – but we’re So glad you visit us here and leave delicious little notes) is that Shannah is not just turning the camera on the man who had her in his Lens – she is turning the camera on Herself.

Extraordinary.

we rarely see women turning the camera on themselves to examine their own role in a Story (there are notable exceptions)

will you indulge us if we insert ourselves into the Story too?

you see who-we-are-in-RL is going through something of a transformation after Leaving Manhattan and moving-to-this-Other-Coast and we’ve moved from the being Terribly Excited stage of getting-a-green-card (sing it, Etta) and have entered the more thoughtful stage.

and so today we turned the lens on ourselves and took a self-portrait which Rather sums up how we feel – more grounded – more grown-up – and, well, ready to direct.

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and Enormously inspired by Shannah Laumeister.

while very compassionate for Mr. Bert Stern who has had such an extraordinary impact on our culture but still lives tormented………..and yet with a deep abiding sense of mystery and mysticism that makes him almost magical and wistful.

as he says in the movie:

“I was just a kid who wanted to make out with Marilyn Monroe.” — Bert Stern

and Marilyn said no.

which is perhaps why he uses her image instead of his own on the place-where-the-tweets-go

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which is rather heart-breaking when you think about it.

here’s something which is Rather delicious – this just in!

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blimey.

*blush*

here’s the picture of which he (or his People) speak: Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 11.41.13 PMmultiple gazes on many souls.

a later update (isn’t the interweb the Best?!)

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