26 December 2009

Jacob Marley And Me

Christmas is an odd day...it always feels like an anticlimax by about 5 pm, no matter what you're doing after. It IS a perfect day for watching movies on TV, though. So I watched "Christmas Carol" and "Marley and Me". (-By "Christmas Carol", I mean the PROPER one, the Alastair Sims version. The Jim Carrey version is unthinkable-about. ) I'm going to skip "Christmas Carol" in this entry  (except to observe that you could also call it "Jacob Marley And Me"), and talk a bit about the Dog Movie.

"Marley and Me" was a HUGE hit this year. It stars the perkily inhuman Jennifer Aniston, and the tiny and dreadfully lost-seeming Owen Wilson, whom I like and feel sorry for simultaneously.  Aniston makes a living out of doing chilly, businesslike impersonations of Wacky Free Spirits. In this film, she's doing an impression of a Perfect Wife 'N' Mom which is pretty good, as long as one knows lot of Wife 'N' Moms who only have very photogenic emotions. I keep expecting her face and body to entirely crack open one day, and a metallic cyborg to step out and announce that the world is now Theirs, and They Will Be Enslaving Humans to Do Their Bidding, but They are Still Keeping Bryan Lourds As Their Agent.Just In Case.-But I digress.
I missed the first part of the film. Apparently, from the flashbacks--and this is the kind of movie that has a movie's worth of flashbacks--the golden Aniston and the butterscotch Wilson got a suitably Aryan-colored puppy some years ago. {I was a bit surprised they didn't get a darker puppy, as well, to work as staff.]
He chewed a lot of stuff, and then they had children. Wilson works for a newspaper, although it's hard to see where either of them find time to do anything, because their matching perfect highlights must require CONSTANT touching up. -So: He is the kind of writer who gets fired for Pursuing His Vision No Matter What. -My feeling about that is, unless when you look in the mirror Edgar Allen Poe is staring back at you, getting fired from a newspaper for Pursuing Your Vision doesn't mean you're a genius. It actually sort of says to Me The Viewer that you might be kind of a selfrighteous pain in the ass. -By the time I tuned in, they were moving to a place in Pennsylvania that is actually, objectively, sort of a  mansion, but a mansion just eccentric and attainable enough to lure the hapless viewer into thinking she might actually own something like it some day.-Poor,deluded hapless viewer. -On a columnist's salary?
Maybe Aniston's character has a trust fund? -But I digress.
The dog gets older, and then one day it dies. That 's the plot.-No, really. That's the plot.

Now, I am no stranger to the "God Spelled Backwards Is Dog" school of  animal writing. As a kid, I LOVED Albert Payson Terhune books ("Lad:A Dog") , and Farley Mowat (who could also be Marley Fowat, now that I come to think of it...)...and Cleveland Amory's "I Am a Closeted Upper-Class Gay Man in Boston Who Writes A LOT-A LOT-- About His Cat" books, and loved them all. Because they were heartfelt. Albert Payson Terhune may have hated everyone in the world EXCEPT his dogs, to judge from his constant, randomly inserted, semi-Brechtian diatribes against "day trippers", "speed demons", and "indecently clad young people" (he wrote around 1912) , but man, he LOVED those dogs. Farley Mowat never met an animal he DIDN'T like enough to write about, and Cleve's books about his cats are very moving. The point here being:
They meant it.
"Marley And Me" is so patently phoned in, so "yeah, let;s give the rubes a dog movie, throw in some snow,we'll get the Christmas crowd" that it makes me mad. This is a movie in which everyone concerned seems beyond caring. Case in point: In one scene, Owen Wilson is outside in the snow with his three kids, giving them detailed instructions on how to make the BEST snow angels. Jennifer Aniston comes to the door and announces that her stand in has made lunch, everybody come in!-and the three kids get up from making labor-intensive snow angels, and run in...without ONE actually turning around to see what his/her angel actually looked like. This, to me, says that the director was having it off in his trailer with an ambitious extra and let a PA direct the scene.
I'm cool with the scenes of the dog miraculously always knowing when the kids schoolbus arrives,in order to meet it: anyone who's ever owned a cat can tell you, if you normally give your cat dinner at 5 pm, and one day you're a little forgetful, at 5:01 SHARP you will have a helpful reminder in the form of ten claws in your calfmuscle. So, yes. Animals and time? No problem. And I'm cool -sort of--with the wife calling the columnist at work that the dog isn't feeling good, and he rushes home, although I'm going to say he's got a rather more tolerant boss than one would expect in a newsroom.
But the Dog Death Scene was just...too much.
Owen Wilson takes Marley to the vet and they have to put him down. -Marley,that is, although Owen is so mopey in this movie that I bet it was touch and go for a minute there. ("Which one, Doc?" "The Blonde One.""O..kay..."  Ooops!)
What ensues is a death scene worthy of Lucia de Lammarmoor. I mean, this thing goes on for 7 minutes. -Now, I would like to say that I love animals. A LOT. When my cat Eddie Sebastian Private Eye died last year, I was really inconsolable...he'd been my friend, my amusement, and my enigma for 22 years. So, please,understand, this is not an anti-dog rant, or unsympathetic to ANYONE who's had to have this painful and sad experience.--HOWEVER. It's a dog, not the Hindenburg Dirigible Disaster. Some perspective here, please,people. But, um...no. Sooping camera work, close up of dog, close up of Owen Wilson,closeup of Owen Wilson AND dog, closeup of vet who finally Understands That This Is No Ordinary Dog, ethereal music, you name it. I mean, Abraham Lincoln died quietly in a boardinghouse room...I think we can let a dog go with rather less Drama than that.
Finally, the weirdest goddamn scene ever, where Owen digs a huge hole and puts the dog in there and his children are traumatized...I mean, his children are asked to recite poems and put drawings in the grave. (If they were Neanderthals, it would be flowers. I just like that, is all.) One child declines to read his poem for Marley, simply choosing to say, gnomically yet insufferably, "He knows."
-Well, no. He doesn't. He's a dog. A dead one. They can't read minds. So, no, he doesn't actually know.
But two points for getting out of writing a poem, creatively,kid.-Also, if Owen is so adept at digging backyard boneyards, does that mean he has PLANS for Jennifer Aniston's character? Is he going to be out there two weeks later, shoveling like mad while muttering "Highlights...perky...highlights...perky...MUST STOP...perky...Brad..."

I'm sorry I seem like such a grump about this. I love dogs, I love movies, I love kids, I have even, in the distant past, kinda sorta loved Owen Wilson. But I must raise my muzzle and howl against the corporate cynicism, the disingenuous dog appreciation, the condescension and carelessness that is "Marley And Me."

Aside from that, Christmas was awesome. I took Courtney Love to Norman Mailer's house for Christmas. But that, as they say, is another story.

08 December 2009

Moose Mania!! Or, Better Living Through Huge Ungainly Animals With Coatracks on Their Heads.

Note: Is it just me, or is there something sort of Christmassy about mooses?

Moose MANIA!

Here is the website that will solve all of your problems. 
-All of your problems that are moose-related, that is. And I believe that, until we find the courage to look inside ourselves with forthright honesty, we can't know how many moose related issues we really have.

If you go to the site and click on "English translations", you will find a plethora of humorous and/or alarming quotes. It reads like they took the original Russian text to a bargain basement version of "Google Translate": something offline, in St. Petersburg, where people in a dark basement crouch over their typewriters, translating madly. And I do mean "madly". "Vlad's 24 Hour Translation, Transcription and Pierogies". It's filled with smoke, the the sound of keys tap-tap-tapping, and a distinct smell of cabbage soup. 

Here are some quotes from this site:

On "Adopting Your Very Own Moose":

"The more contacts between people and [moose] calves, the more communicable and companionable will moose grow up."

(Note: This is important. You don't want a sullen and uncommunicative moose around the house. Trust me on this.)

Under "Moose In History":

"Swedish army had moose troops, but only until real battles. Moose turned out to be wiser then their knights, they left battlefield to hide in the nearest forest if danger occured."

Well, finally! At last, the shocking truth about Swedish Moose Cowardice can be revealed!

And this:

" Most moose spend their daytime in the forest, and their encounter with a tourist group is a happy chance." 

It doesn't say who would be "happy" about an accidental moose encounter in a brooding Russian forest: the tourists? The mooses? The onlookers, watching in happy schaedenfraude, from the bushes?

The next quote just sounds like a mother talking about her teenaged kids.

My opinion is: it is necessary to release  young animals in mid-summer. I believe they will return to eat oatmeal or to hide from gnats in a dark shed. Radio tags will help to control their movements.

-Or maybe that's more about my childhood than you need to know.

The thing about anyone being wildly- even irrationally- excited about ANYthing, is that it's catching. Five minutes on this site had me seriously thinking about how a baby moose (mooseling? mooselet?) would get on with my cat, Princess Love Supreme Superstar: a baby moose weighs about 85 pounds, while Princess clocks in at a ladylike,if hefty, 13 pounds.
The answer is, of course, my little Bed-Stuy Princess would totally kick her some baby-moose ass. Sad but true.

Still, I long to ride mooseback (as the site suggests) -perhaps through Prospect Park-....to use moose milk (as the site suggests) to miraculously restore my "flagging and weakly constitution" (how did they know?).. and, most of all, I wish for a weeklong stay in the site's vaunted. Moose Sanitarium! This is a real place, according to the site. I think they mean "saniTORium", which is a place you go to have your physical health restored, as opposed to a "saniTARium", which is a place where one puts either crazy people, or freeloading Japanese artists.

Perhaps they actually MEAN "Moose Sanitarium". Maybe this is where mooses go who think they are Napoleon, or Jesus Christ, or,a bit pathetically, gazelles. The mental picture of a moose dressed up as Napoleon, is kind of appealing, in a "Bullwinkle the Moose" cartoon sort of way.(And, with it's implied low throaty purr, and almost complete lack of possessive articles, the entire site sounds like it was dictated by "Bullwinkle"'s glamourous Russian Spy, Natasha.It says that fifty people can stay at one time, in the sanitorium, although it's quiet about how many moose are involved. The people have their health restored. By moose.
Worryingly, there are no specifics about how, exactly, this occurs.

So join me! We will canter merrily through Cantral Park on our noble moose steeds. We will all be dressed as Napoleon- you, me and the mooses. We will laugh merrily, to know that our flagging, weakly constitutions are being restored, that sullen teenaged mooses will be waiting for us in dark, gnat free barns,with oatmeal: and that possibly, just possibly, we will have chance encounters with tourists!! 

A happy day indeed.

Or, just another day in New York City.

07 December 2009

A Simple Life Philosophy

Note: My lovely Scottish friend Fiona introduced me to this magic phrase. When a Scot says "I can't be arsed", it means, roughly, "I just can't be bothered." Except in a more Scottish way than that. Thanks,Fiona!

I Can’t Be Arsed                 peri lyons c 2009

there's laundry in my living room
it's certainly not clean
it's starting to evolve into a life form never seen
There's dishes in my kitchen
The color of old litchen
Is this what they mean by going green?

But I am calm and half amused
Im almost never stressed
If I don't have clean clothes to wear, why bother getting dressed?
Tranquillity is mine at last
Those days of worrying are past
here's the philosophy I fin'ly feel is best

I can't be arsed
I can't be arsed
I can't be bothered shamed cajoled or even forced
I can't be arsed
I can't be bothered
In fact, I can't even be arsed enough to find a rhyme for bothered

When you give up
Then life is sweet
the world falls at your slightly stinky feet
I don't return men's calls
It drives them crazy
They think I'm hard to get but really Im just lazy

I just don't care about
The daily grind
It was either lose my standards or slowly lose my mind
I did try yoga
And chanting too
But here's what worked for me and it'll work for you

Just don't be arsed
I cant be arsed
I cant be shamed cajoled or ever ever forced
I can't be arsed!
What's worth the bother?
If you do one dish, there'll just be another

So don't clean your house or do the laundry, be a total roundheel
The first five years are tough but after that it's simply downhill
And when your friends stop coming by or visiting or calling
Because they love you but let's face it, the smell is just appalling
They will all keel over young of heartattacks and ulcers
But I'll live to one hundred two, because I just say "NO SIR--


04 December 2009

Some Random Observations

bits and pieces, hither and yon

"Some people say I cannot sing-but no one can say I DIDN'T sing."

-Florence Foster Jenkins, 19th/20th century eccentric: a relentlessly untalented vocalist, she used her inherited fortune to finance a vaudeville career that lasted 10 years on the strength of audiences being flabberghasted by her sheer awfulness.Good for you,Flo!


I was browsing old obits in the Times website, and came upon this mysterious yet true quote about legendary gangster Al Capone, the original "Scarface":
..."Head of the cruelest cutthroats in American history, he inspired gang wars in which more than 300 men died by the knife, the shotgun, the tommy gun and the pineapple."

Did I miss something here? The PINEAPPLE???
"Frisk him, Al. See if he's packin' pineapple."
"No, boss. Nothing but some loquats in syrup."

Paradox Poem

When it began,
I wanted you to be who you are;
When it ended,
I wanted you to be who you were.



The only time someone you have loved and lost in the past will contact you, is exactly 24 hours after you realize you might actually, really be over them.

The ride BACK in the taxi is always significantly less money than the ride TO. Physics has not adequately explained this. Nor has Science explained the other great Truth of Taxis: When you are late, and walking to the corner to flag one down, three available cabs will go by, just a bit too far away to hail.
When you get to the corner, there will be no cab. Not now, not soon....maybe not ever again.

The grass actually IS greener on the other side of the fence. Greener, lusher, nicer. It is the actual ACT of crossing the fence that-mysteriously--makes the grass wither and die.

In NYC, it has rained on St. Patrick's Day every year, without exception.No one knows why.

The amount of time it takes to lose your gloves is in exact inverse proportion to the amount of money you paid for them. $5 gloves will stay with you your entire adult life: $150 gloves will separate themselves and one willvanish, by the end of the same afternoon you purchased them.
$1 gloves will actually GET UP AND FOLLOW YOU if you leave them somewhere.
It would be interesting to see if gloves that cost, say, $1,000,000.00 would actually disappear one week before purchase.

Your mom was right: if you ignore a guy, he will get more interested. "Hard to get" actually works. "Impossible to get" only works with men who are a little nuts, and is therefore not recommended.

I stayed up till 2 am reading  "Eccentrics", a new book by a psychologist from Edinburgh. Here's how Davy Crockett was described by a nurse at the Alamo : "he had the strangest manner i ever saw: his face was exactly like a woman's, and his manner more like a girl's than any girl...I never saw him as a hero till the last day, when he faced down a whole line of mexicans, shouting like madman and braver than a bear..."
Who'd a thunk it? Davy Crockett gay???? -Well, having grown up in Greenwich Village, I am not surprised that a man known for wearing buckskin chaps and a fur hat, might turn out to be homosexual. 

And,finally, a Flashback: two years ago today....

Back when I was doing many gigs, I had my own sound system. It got swiped. I needed a new one. So,this morning, I was at Sam Ash Music Store, looking for a sound system and a mike. Vito, who was about twenty--or maybe eleven--was helping me. 
"This one's good", he said hopefully. "This one" was a godawful Yamaha piece of crap with big, candy colored pastel flat dials that looked like the buttons off a Japanese Anime Porn Schoolgirl's blouse.
"Vito" I said gently. "I don't do pastels.Do you have anything that actual musicians use?"
I finally found something good, solid, portable and workmanlike.-In a sound system,that is. 
Got a great mic, too. So I was paying for them, and I said "I have my ASCAP card here somewhere. You guys still do the 10% discount, right?"
Vito looked worried. "Um, no."
I sighed. "Okay." I though for a moment. I was wearing a plunging halter dress and pushup bra, to festive effect. In fact, Vito had not addressed one single remark to my actual face, if you know what I'm saying here. Suddenly, a lightbulb went on in my head.
"Vito! Can I get a Cleavage Discount?"
To say Vito looked a little stunned, would be an understatement. He looked like I'd just slapped him with a live Rhode Island Red.*
"Uh...wuhhh?" he managed?
" A Cleavage Discount! Look, I'm wearing a fabulous dress, it's a horrible rainy day, and I'm brightening up the store considerably! Don't you think i deserve it? I'm so cute! Someone should give me SOMETHING!!" I smiled convincingly at him.
Vito was now bright, bright red. "Um, I have to ask my amanager", he mumbled, and sped off.
A minute later, the manager, Bobby, came back with young Mr V.
"Did you actually say what Vito said you did?" He was grinning.
"Absolutely! I would like a Cleavage Discount, please." I smiled demurely.
He roared with laughter. "Absolutely! Ten percent okay?"
He pulled up a stool next to me, as Vito was ringing up the sale. "You married?"
"Separated. And still pining a bit."
"He's a fool!"
I smiled sweetly. "I think so."
The next 20 minutes was a delicate tango of having a great time while not giving my number out. And I managed it! Itwas great fun.
And I saved $82 dollars!

Thank you, and goodnight.
love per

28 November 2009

Eddie Sebastian,Private Eye: An Appreciation

Eddie Sebastian Private Eye is a twenty year old cat. He is the oddest animal I've ever known.

Ed is,in his mind, many things: a bon vivant, a devil with the ladies, a sculptor, the official greeter for my building, a Fighter of Dogs, and (as we shall see) a major player on the New York Real Estate Scene.
In real life, he is a skinny eunuch with white eyebrows: the rest of him is the exact color orange of the hip leatherette vinyl jackets worn by Starsky and Hutch-type private eyes in 1970's cop shows[hence his name]. But he has never let reality bother him: when a pretty lady walks into my apartment, he strolls over to her, his inner Barry White Love Soundtrack obviously playing a seductive disco beat, and then, when she is seated, he lies on his back across one of her feet, the better to show off his belly. "hey baby", he says,"betcha never seen nothin like THIS before, huh?"
The ladies go crazy over him, proving yet again that confidence is everything. One friend stitched him a heart shaped red pillow stuffed with catnip, with the word "I Love Ed" embroidered on the front in white cursive script. Sometimes he uses it as a pillow, but sometimes I find it under the bookcase, because he likes to prove that no woman can own him, baby. He is a free n easy swinger.

Many years ago, when I was dating some painter, he asked if he could borrow Ed to deal with a sudden mouse problem in the studio. I said "sure." So Ed lived there for a while,intently watching the guy paint and sculpt. Obviously,he took notes, because one night we walked into the studio to find that Ed has made his own site specific piece: he had surrounded the cat food tin on the floor with nine perfectly symmetrical piles of homogenous stuff: one pile of cat fur fluff, one pile of wood shavings, one pile of dry cat food...nine round piles surrounding the cat food can in a circle. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, the goddamndest thing I've ever seen. He trotted up to meet us as we entered, and led us to it, looking back every two seconds to make sure we were following, and then he stood there with an attitude that said, quite clearly, "ta-DAH!"
If I'd been thinking straight, i would have photographed it and then found him an art dealer. Oh well.

When we were living in Carroll gardens, we had an apartment with a landing that had an entrance to the apartment on either side: it was possible to go out through the kitchen door and go straight through to the bedroom door. One day, Ed scratched at the kitchen door, so he could go exploring. Finding himself on the landing, he went across and scratched on the bedroom door. We let him in. He stopped, and stiffened in astonishment. "Hey!" his attitude said. I have ANOTHER apartment, exactly like THIS one! Then he looked at us. "And you guys look just like those OTHER people! This is AMAZING!!" He walked around the entire apartment, his tail a quivering question mark of amazement. He couldn't believe it. Here he was, only three, and yet he owned TWO apartments in a pretty nice section of Brooklyn. AND servants. This was GREAT! He walked up to the kitchen door (which I'd closed) and scratched to be let out, then did the same drill: walked to the bedroom door and scratched to be let in, and once again was completely overcome with delight to find that he had...yes..THREE apartments! With servants! In a nice section of Brooklyn! God DAMN! Same inspection, same quivering tail....
Since it was a Sunday afternoon with not much on, I decided to see how many times he'd repeat his voyage of Amazing Real Estate discovery. the answer was...eighteen times. Each time he seemed progressively more chuffed. At the end of it all, he turned around three times in a circle, curled up, and went to sleep...for sixteen hours. Hey, real estate mogul hood is TIRING.

The day we moved into that place, I was piling up boxes and Ed was exploring the fireplace. Suddenly, I heard a "CLANG!" and a black cat I'd never seen before went scooting into the room and hid under the couch. I couldn't understand where the black cat had come from. And where was Ed? When I picked up the noir stranger and my hands turned pitch colored, i got suspicious, and put the intruder under the bathroom tap: as the water ran, he gradually revealed himself to be a ginger cat named Ed, who had figured out how to release the thing on the fireplace that held all the soot back, and got drenched in it. Weirdo.

For ten years, he had a ritual that was as ironclad as it was baffling: he did what we called "The Work." It all started one night not long after we were married: ay three a.m., a series of inexplicable, loud and bizarrely specific noises began issuing from the kitchen. I turned to my spouse. "hey, wake up. I hear something that sounds like someone is tipping over a series of small marble busts in the kitchen.
the then-spouse awoke, and listened for a moment. "My God, that IS what it sounds like. What the hell?"
I got up, and walking into the kitchen, switched on the light, to find Ed sitting there with a "who, me?" expression, he golden eyes wide with completely spurious innocence. "Nothing to see HERE," he intimated. "Certainly no small marble busts. Especially not of Napoleon."
Eyeing him suspiciously, I stood, irresolute, but his innocence convinced me, and I went back to bed.
The next night, 3 a.m., we were awakened by what sounded like someone teaching hamsters to pole dance.
"Psst! Wake up!" I nudged my fella.
He sat up, and rubbed his eyes, and listened for a moment. then a strange expression crossed his face. "Is there some sort of hamster strip club around here?" he asked.
'It's Ed!" I hissed. "What is he Doing!"
We listened intently for a moment. Then my husband's face relaxed.
"He is doing...The Work."
"Oh. I think you're right." I had to agree.
"And...the Work Must Continue," he said, and started snoring.
This went on for years. I thought it was just a folie a deux, that all married people had delusions about their pets, until a brother in law stayed overnight i the study. In the morning, Pete got up and I found him searching through he trash.
"What are you DOING, dude? I made you a nice breakfast, it's on the table, you don't actually forage for scraps, you know."
He muttered "yeah, yeah.." distractedly. the he straightened up and faced me squarely.
Listen," he said, "I could swear I heard someone building a small, dog-powered dirigible last night." He looked defiant." I know that sounds crazy.But it was an inexplicable yet very specific noise."
"Oh, THAT," I said, relieved. "That was just...The Work."
At that moment, Ed strolled by, tail in the air.
"And, "I continued, "the Work..Must Continue."
"Oh, okay, "said pete. "Then I want coffee."

Many years later, after Ed patrols the hallway here twice a day, and greets visitors by officiously showing them the many amenities of the building, such as the stairs, the floor, the stairs again and the place where I once dropped a platter of fried chicken (a day that will live forever as a golden memory for Ed), and after he challenges the two pitbulls who belong to the nice lesbian postal workers on the sixth floor to a duel (thank god Susan, their main walker, has very good leash control), he comes back in, and after checking to see if there are any ladies aside from me, he sits in his favorite place. the inside of a the base of a wicker stool. It's round and perfect for an old guy to curl up in, and he can also keep an eye on what's going on, in case pit bulls or Pretty ladies stop by and Action needs to be taken.
These days, he's not as spry as he used to be. I noticed recently that he doesn't hear me when I say "Ed man, I'm home, pal!" and he can't hear the celestial sound of a can opening. Sometimes he falls over, but I always act like I don't see, and he gets up again and starts nonchalantly cleaning the one area on his bod he cleans, a patch the size of a quarter near his right leg. Pointless, but apparently VERY important.
He has to take medicine, and his eye is a little cloudy, and I think he might be nearing his last days, but he's proved me wrong before. But just in case, some nights I sleep in the floor, because he can't make it up the ladder to the loft bed, and he cries when he feels he is not getting his fair share of attention. he retired from the Work some four ears ago. Except one night, when my friend Jennifer stayed over, a longtime Pretty Lady friend and admirer of Ed's.
As I was making coffee in the morning, she said, "Is it possible that someone was teaching mice carpentry here last night? I swear I thought I heard really tiny sawing."
I asked, carefully, "What time was this, Jenjen?"
She tought for a moment. "Oh...maybe 3 a.m?"

I smiled. The Master had come out of retirement. Like Sinatra, Like Streisand, like he great masters before him, he always had one last trick up his sleeve for his admirers.

Because..the Work Must Continue.

And so I wrap myself in a blanket on the carpet, solemnly hand Ed his red heartshaped pillow, and we both settle down for a cat nap, dreaming of catnip, fried chicken, and...The Work.


Author's note: Today would have been Ed's birthday. Sadly, he left us recently,at the ripe old age age of 23.
A week before he died, he was staying at my (now ex) husband's place. Ed asked to go into the backyard.There was a full moon,and Ed spent an hour gazing at the moon,strolling the perimeter of the garden,and taking time to look at and smell eaxh flower. It was as though he was saying "Thank you,World.It's all been beautiful. Goodbye."

In Honor Of Black Friday: Retail Stories

Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I took a Christmas job at a Big New York Department Store, as a “Perfume Model”. Every morning, the models would line up on the selling floor before opening, and a portly man who took both his job and his homosexuality VERY seriously, would give us our perfume for the day and the "magic words" (`which phrase still makes me feel sligtly ill)Our job was had to repeat these words -and never ever say ANYTHING else-to the customers, while attempting to spray them. Really and truly.

One fine morning,I was assigned a new fragrance by a film star to spray on unsuspecting passersby .The magic words I had to repeat ad nauseum were, "Hi! Have you heard about "Elizabeth Taylor's Passion For Women'?
One man stopped, gazed at me in surprise, and said "Oh, really? I thought she was straight!"
The next day, I had "Calvin Klein's Obsession." Can I tell you, it is extremely hard going through an entire day in which you are not allowed to say anything but "It lies somewhere between love and madness?" It provided some interesting challenges.
A flustered, overrouged older woman came running up and demanded "Where can I find men's dress shirts?"
I pointed to my left. "Um,that way...I mean, somewhere between love and madness".
She stared at me. "What are you, some kind of lunatic?"
I stoically repeated: "It lies between love and madness, madam." Then I whispered--"Just past the socks."

"Dominique? You spoke unauthorized words.You're out of here," said Portly Gay Boss Guy. (We all had glamourous perfume model fake names. I wanted to be called " Artemisia", but my boss said it sounded "too foreign". (This was the early 90's. You could still say stuff like that.)

I wasn't too sad to leave that job,although there was one perk I missed: because I reeked of perfume, I always got a seat to myself on the subway, on the way home.

Side note: Calvin Klein did so well with a perfume named after a psychological disorder, he might,in the future, want to branch out: "
Calvin Klein's Borderline Personality Disorder",
"Calvin Klein's Sociopathy",
"Calvin Klein's Severe Clinical Depression."
-There would be obvious problems with actually managing to SELL a perfume named "CK Kleptomania", and "CK Dementia" would only do well if anyone could ever remember the name.

If he really wanted to make a fortune, he'd market a scent called "Indifference." It is the one true aphrodisiac. There's nothing like just not being interested, to pique the interest of others.
So here's how you capture the object of your desire: break up with him right after being introduced. Here, try this as a template:

"Hi Peri, I'm Egbert."
"Hi, Egbert.Nice to meet you. But I'm sorry, I've met someone else."
"Oh, no! When?
"Ten seconds ago. He was on the bar mitzvah receiving line just ahead of you."
"Oh, Peri, no. I thought we had something special. Your handshake was so..firm. I thought what we had was real."
"Egbert, I am moving on."
"But WHY?"
"Because the buffet line is moving on too. I need some chopped liver. But I'll always remember you, and I'm so grateful for our time together."
"I am too. Maybe I'll see you...later."
"Egbert, I don't think that would be a good idea. Besides, the ice swan is melting. I have to go."

Monogram Memories

This time,last year,your humble correspondent was working at the Louis Vuitton Flagship Store. Here are some notes from that time: my Last Days Of Retail.
If you are a store, and you're French (which I'm going to assume you, dear reader, are not), here is how you assert your Frenchness during the Christmas retail season:

1) Leave your front doors open when it's 22 degrees out, ensuring that people shopping for $1600 handbags can see their own breath as they utter the words "I'll t-t-t-take it".
Expecting to be warm indoors during a luxury shopping experience is simply not chic. One must suffer for beauty. Also? We don't like you. Or care. And your hair is funny.

2) Refuse to play Christmas music. Instead, play depressing emo girls wailing about how their lovers have left them and it's probably their own fault, but if said lover doesn't return to make thm miserable again, they will probably either take pills or continue wailing. Or both. "Rudolph the RedNose Reindeer" is a bourgouis construct, and has been denounced by LeviStrauss in his famous tract "The Deconstruction of Rudolf de la Nez Rouge"., in which reindeer are proven to be a failed neo-Marxist syllogism.Parce-que: Christmas music at Christmas is so...predictable.

3) Refuse to have sales. Sneer openly at those customers who ask. Sneer openly at customers who don't ask, for their lack of courage. Sneer openly at anyone who happens to be walking by and within sneering distance. Nous sneerairons.

4) We spit on the concept of Christmas decorations. Instead, we have a conceptual artist who walks around the store before it's opn and murmurs the single word "holly". So spare. So simple. So chic.

5) Your hair is funny and your shoes are a laughable relic of the former life you have now outgrown. Your children are sad and your wife has a lover. Do not ask me what is the price of this purse. You can not purchase back the strayed affection of your spouse, who is sleeping with a german art student who moonlights as a garbage man in order to impress his marxist, much younger other girlfriend, with a $420 beach towel. Do not try, either to do the first thing I suggested or to understand the structure of this sentence. Pah- I spit on conventional sentence structure.

There ya go. If you ever want to be a huge, French, luxury retail store at Christmas, you now know everything you ned to be a huge success with people who would not want to belong to any club that would have them as a member. I.e., all of humanity.

23 November 2009

Bearly Legal

Bearly Legal c Peri Lyons

From the "Yahoo News" site:

"Hungry bears invade homes:
Driven from their habitat by drought, black bears are breaking into homes looking for food."

I live alone, so this evening when I pushed open the door of my small but cozy flat in the Village, I almost screamed, to see someone sitting in my large green velvet armchair.

"hello", he said. He was holding a bottle of Chilean wine in his paw, and scrutinizing it closely.

"Excuse me", I said,"but I think you're in the wrong apartment."

"You said it, sister", said the bear, for that's what he was. "What kind of person has filet mignon in the icebox and only a ten dollar Chilean red to serve with it?"

"Excuse me? How do you know about the filet I have?"

"Had, babycakes, HAD. Gone now. Along with the fishfingers, the yogurt and the frozen ravioli hidden in the freezer. Now, about this wine-"

"LOOK, pal," I said. I am an environmentalist and a strong believer in animal conservation, but I draw the line when the animal in question is criticizing my wine selection."I'm sorry my food choices disappoint you, but do you get so much vino in the wild that you can suddenly call yourslef an expert? And by the way, my landlord doesn't allow pets."

"Good thing I ate your cats, then," he said. "Save you getting evicted.And yes, Miss Conservationist Except When It Comes To Sharing, this wine is way too tannic to properly bring out the middle tones of the filet. Sheesh. Even I know that, and I am only a simple black bear from the forsts of the far Northwest." He crossed his legs and placed the wine on top of the radiator.

"You're a simple black bear who is a complete poser when it comes to oenology, Buster. If that radiator goes on, that wine's more delicate flavors will be destroyed in 30 seconds flat. And how did you get in here? "

He was studying a Chinese takeout menu now. "Does this place use MSG?", he asked in a concerned way. "It wreaks havoc with my sinuses. And I get puffy. I don't like getting puffy."

"Who let you in here?" I yelled.

He raised his eyebrows at this, as though I was committing a faux pas. "Your next door neighbor. I said if he didn't use his spare keys, I'd eat him."

"Oh my God."

"I ate him anyway. I'm a simple forest creature, I have pretty bad ethics. And all he had in the fridge were Tater Tots. He deserved to die. The man had a naugahyde palate." His paw kicked the now empty Haagen Dazs container near his foot. I was pretty steamed.

"Look, my new boyfriend is coming over in ten minutes, and I don't think he's going to take kindly to a 600 pound carnivore in my living room. He has a hard enough time with my exhusband. If I give you the address of a someone who always has a wellstocked fridge, will you scram, please? I feel I've done my part for conservation, if it's all the same to you."

He stood up and stretched. He yawned, to show me he didn't care and he was leaving anyway. "Fine, fine. Honestly, your place needs a little fixing up anyway. You call this an oriental rug? I don't THINK so."

"yeah, well, the blood stains don't improve it much, Mr Decorator Bear Guy."

"Are you kidding? They MAKE it! Neo sauvage! The red really ties the room together!"

I started pushing him out the door. "Okay" he said "I'm going, I'm going."

As he was leaving, I said "Wait, by the way...aren't you supposed to be hiberanting already?"

He shrugged. "What can I tell you? The Ambien wore off."

Tying my one Hermes scarf around his head, he ambled off down the hallway, off to invade another home.

With any luck, the next householder would have a tranquilizer gun...or failing that, a LOT of Chateau de St Emilion 1982.

21 November 2009

Cigarettes Are To Me What Nicky Arnstein was to Fanny Brice

Stopping smoking. It has NEVER EVER been this difficult. I have a free counselor at the NYC Stop Smoking program (dial 311) , and he was trying to help.
"Hi, this is Mark. What is the problem?"
"Mark", I said, "I love smoking. I just do. Smoking is great. And all the cool kids do it."
"Terry", he said, as everyone always has, and always will,.."It is very very unhealthy.Terry, smoking is bad for you. Smoking kills."
"Yes, Mark. I think I heard that somewhere. But what do you DO?When you feel you want a cigarettte more than you CARE about that remaining 40 years you'd have otheriwse?
Mark breathed in and out stentoriously. I suddenly thought, "Oh my God! He's smoking!!"
He wasn't though. He was thinking of new ways to make me unhappy.
"Kerry..." "Kerry, did you get the Help Booklet, that had all the drawings of cigaretts on it? The Quit Book. With the, like, the drawing of a pack on it."
"Yes Mark."
"Well, did it help?"
I paused. "Well, Mark, to be honest...not."
Mark: "Mary, why not?"
Peri: "Because, Mark. I smoked it."

He wasn't sure I was kidding. Frankly, neither was I. Mark sounded like, if he'd ever smoked, it was because all the other kids were doing it. Not becuse it was cool and made you look French and outrageous. He sounded like...well, he sounded like a quitter to me, pal. Nobody likes a quitter. "I don't CARE if these Newports are making you ill. You get in there and inhale, young man!"

Anyway, as my ol'Southern pal Cracka Jay used to say about this great aunt, a former burly-Q dancer and singer who always wore a beehive, a caftan and purple eyeliner: 

"My Aun' Selma, she dint smoke fa nicotine. She smoke fa ........styyyyyle."

Well, don't smoke, kids, and don't do drugs. You'll have a long, insanely boring life, which will seem TWICE as long because you're not drinking or doing drugs,and people will mock you behind your back because you're self-righteous and pompous, but it's worth it.-Offhand, I can't remember why, though.


The Lilies Of The Field Are Trying To Tell You Something

http://tinyurl.com/ycfw5grGot sent some anonymous flowers recently.-Well, the flowers weren't anonymous (they were roses, their actual names a mystery to me, although the one on the left did look like a bit like a Charlie)but the sender was. It was nice, in a slightly creepy way. So, because of this:
I have been researching the Victorian Language of Flowers. A Victorian suitor would send his beloved flowers, each of which had a very specific meaning, in order to communicate what his true feelings were.-Perhaps a wee bit passive-aggressive, but I'd rather get a bouquet of hollyhocks than an email ANY day, thank you.
So here's a selection of the Language of Flowers circa 1885, and afterwards, my own 2009 version.

Language Of The Flowers, 1885 version

1) Camellia: I live in gratitude of your perfected loveliness

2) Chrysanthemum: I admire your cheerfulness through adversity

3) Damask Rose: I worship your brilliant complexion

4) Fuschia: The ambition of my love thus plagues myself [Note:- What??]

5) Peach/or Peach Blossom: Your qualities, like your charms, are unequalled.

6) White Rosebud: You are too young to understand love [Note:I get that one a LOT.]

(Here is the website to learn more: http://www.victorianbazaar.com/meanings.html)

And...Here is The Language of the Flowers, 2009 Version:

1) Dandelions: You're okay, considering. I guess.

2) Poppies: I love you, but not more than I love prescription medications.

3) Carnations:My God, you're beautiful. My God, I'm cheap.

4) Rare Orchids: Aren't these exquisite? I'm sleeping with your sister.

5) Daffodils: Your optimism is touching. If delusional.

6)Asters: These are asters. -No, that's it, that's the message. Sorry.

7) Peach colored sunset roses: Your skin is like a flower petal at sunrise, and I think i might be gay.

8) Red roses: I think you're swell, I think you're aces, and I think it's 1947.

To sum up? Flowers are a beautiful means of communication, but I wouldn't try to leave a note for your cleaning woman with them. "Lobelias, canterbury bells and ferns...that means VERY CLEARLY to empty the dishwasher, Magda!! For pete's sake!"