21 November 2010

Norris Church Mailer: The Purpose of Beauty, The Beauty of Purpose 1949-2010

Norris Church Mailer  has left us at 61.  The world is visibly dimmer today.

I hope it's okay to describe the arc of a comet...someone I only knew for three years, but who lit up the sky like a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

There are  no words to describe Norris Church Mailer .  Our language has superlatives, but they have been degraded by advertising, TV, our rackety culture. So when you meet someone who truly DOES "amaze" you, delight you, and whose achievements on the private AND public stages surpass (and subsequently expand)  your own ideas of what is possible..
.who inspires an adulation just short of worship in everyone she meets...
whose voice on the printed page, is just like her voice in real life-and is there a harder thing to do than that?---what words work here?

Some words to describe the Norris Church Mailer I knew, would be "radiant", "funny", "strong without seeming tough", "loving" and "self disciplined.". . If you met her once, you just adored her. Ever after.   -Oh and....Beauty. Her literally astonishing physical beauty was flatteringly backlit by her beauty of spirit, and her love of creating beauty and comfort for herself and everyone around her. 

She gave warmly, unstintingly, and with such grace, to her kids, her stepkids, her family, her friends, her fans....the last two categories numbered in the range of  "countless." Her love of beauty -and fun; her love of a family she found disparate and helped make whole; her love of painting.... Norris made  the people around her want to be their best real (and sometimes most mischievous) selves.
 The houses she decorated were both beautiful and delicious to stay in....the books she wrote were both hugely engaging AND beautifully written; it seems like everything I saw Norris do, I saw her bring her whole heart to. Is there anyone better to be around, than someone who brings their whole self to every minute? That quality also made her something as rare in New York city, as snow is in Arkansas: : a great listener.

I was a friend of her son John's: a man who, like his brother Matthew, shares his mother's astounding physical beauty, charm and tawny-eyed charisma.
The first time I met NCM, in Provincetown, she was supervising a house filled with her kids, her stepkids, the spouses, kids, and stepkids of her kids and her stepkids, their cousins, friends, wives..
and I remember thinking "how does she manage all of this and stay so damn gorgeous? It ain't fair."

(I also remember thinking "She's like: if Florence Henderson's character in "The Brady Bunch" was played by the goddess Athena.")

I never met her late, beyond-legendary husband, but I do have a love for his work, and I remember thinking "holy cats, ARE there people who, in their marriage, let themselves be THIS "matched" by a mate's charisma?  Guess so. But wow." Hard to imagine even meeting two such people in one lifetime. 

Even though one may know this act,  this passing, is really  just a passing from one room to the next,...even though the work I do has shown me this....still, just as a selfish ,regular person who was lucky enough to have known Norris, I want her back.
 Everyone who's \ met her, in life or in her books,  \will miss her .  We'll miss her emotional generosity, wry humor, complete unvarnished and sometimes blunt truthtelling; the " wicked-little-Soth'n-girl-" giggle, and the gloriously Technicolor movie-stah-presence that was NCM.

 She taught me to value qualities I had never valued before--as global as "femininity" and as specific as "neatness"--and I remember, every day, things she taught me without seeming to teach at all. 

For some reason, I  spent the last two weeks rereading all of her books: "Ticket to the Circus" (which is destined to be a classic memoir of its time); "Windchill Summer"; and "Cheap Diamonds."
( I remember my friend Ann saying she had proofread "Cheap Diamonds" and had stayed late -without overtime- at her copyediting job, in order to read it again-this time for sheer pleasure.)
Norris's  voice on the page has the same sideways melody as her real voice. Same quirky music and lightning flash insights.  Go read the books, now. -Please.

My deepest sympathy and condolences to John, Matthew, and her family and friends.

Norris Church Mailer was, to a dazzled young woman from a little town upstate, the definition of Glamour; the definition of Generosity, and most of all, the definition of what it is to be, well... a Lady.
To me, she will always be that gracious,  gogeous, dignified, and  just a bit rebellious  belle, who brought more than a roomful of light,  into every room she entered.

love. always.

05 November 2010

This is what happens when you stay up all night because you have to catalogue your song lyrics for publishing, while taking breaks to read Rudyard Kipling poems. While eating figs. You wind up rewriting a ten year old lyric of yours, in a very specific style: the internal rhymes,insistent rhythms and general showoffiness of the poems of Rudyard Kiplong.Then you ask yourself "And who exactly is going to sing this? Is Taylor Swift right now stomping her skinny-ass little feet and shouting "I WANT A CLASSIC COUNTRY SONG! YET WRITTEN IN A METRICAL STYLE REMINISCENT OF VICTORIAN WRITER RUDYARD KIPLING'S POEMS!! NOW, Dang it!"-Well, who knows. Maybe she is. And maybe i am a dish of eggplant parmesian.-You never know.
I also have a great lyric about the auction of the effects of a famous Cambridge-educated Englishman, who became a Russian Communist spy and wound up in alcoholic exile, in Moscow, in a tiny apartment filled, to the last, with the touchstone artifacts of his upper class ness: a silver martini shaker, a perfect Knox top hat, etc.
Yup. I bet Mariah carey is RIGHT NOW asking her people to find EXACTLY that song. For her. To sing. Yes!-Did I mention already that  the chances of that happening are roughly equal to the chance that I might actually be a delicious Italian dish with eggplant and tomato sauce? -Right. Okay then.
ALL LYRICS C 2010 PERI LYONS/Valley Cottage Music/Registered 2010 ASCAP

******************************************************************************************ThA Country Western Song, Written After Reading Too Much Rudyard Kipling Verse

When I first saw you I was nonplused
Your lips were wet and your hair was mussed
(Something about you my girl didn't trust-)
my mind said "something's missin'"
my heart said "I won't listen"
I tried to be dismissin you
Until it came to kissin you
I left my nuclear family and went straight to nuclear fission, you

And now my baby's bags are in the hall
The girl who really loves me's up and gone
You thought I thought I loved you
But I don’t return your call
And now my life's a country western song
You done me right- and then I done her wrong

when I first saw you I said to myself
she's whiskey walkin and she's top shelf
-sure she has looks, but I have my health-
-my baby said “You staying?”
I  didn’t think of straying
But five beers later on, it’s not my mind I was obeying

Well, I got home when dawn was in the sky
My baby said "You know this means goodbye"
I tried to bluff and bluster
I said she'd lost her luster;
She said "And you'll lose something,
 if you don't skedaddle, Buster...!"

My girl said “Bye, you’ll miss me when I’m gone-
You love her now but you won’t love her long”
Now I'm alone at night
Turns out my girl was right
I rue the day that I confused
True love, with  appetite

And now my baby's stuff is in the hall
The one who really loves me's up and gone
You thought I thought I loved you
But I don't return your call
And now my life's a country western song
You done me right and then I done her wrong
You did it right but baby it was  wrong
And now my life's a country western song.

03 November 2010

No Thank You, I Don't Want Some Dip. -Not Ever.

When you do a lot of yoga, live mainly on protein shakes, and work out two hours a day, three things happen:
1) You feel really really good;
2) You look a hell of a lot better;
3) You completely lose the ability to metabolize alcohol.

I haven't had anything in the nature of fun beverages for months, so last night's three glasses of Sancerre made me a very festive young lady indeed. (And a very somber and reflective young lady, when the alarm clock went off at 6 this morning. Eeep.)

After dinner at a pretentious yet overpriced restaurant staffed by waitresses who looked like they've just escaped from a Helmut Newton photograph, and decorated with taxidermy of animals that appear to be practicing yoga positions (the restaurant, that is, not the waitresses), headed off to go meet X and Y and go to a Posh Fancy Bash. The fashion alone was worth it:  Y and I spent hours walking around like freelance fashion critics, critiquing as we went. Here are some things we learned:

1) Extremely-and I mean EXTREMELY- short minidresses are in. This is a difficult thing to pull off: for one thing, you have to be VERY careful when wearing something crotchlength: one wrong move and the world is your gynecologist. Also, if you're over 19, it looks less like a mini, and more like you got drunk and forgot your pants. A problem. -One short, pretty girl was wearing a VERY short skirt, which, because she spent so much time essentially doing a very showy,wildly inappropriate, VERY territorial lapdance on top of her actor/hottie boyfriend, afforded onlookers rather more than they'd bargained for. Hey, it's only a black tie gala. Don't mind us. Make yourself at home. I bet you could use the dip as lube.-No no WAIT!-I was kidding!!! -Oh no...    (This might just be sour grapes on my part. That IS an absolutely surefire way to get a guy's attention. I wish I could do that sort of thing- it certainly Works- but alas, was brought up to be a Lady (in public) and alas,cannot. I am forced to rely on nonlapdance activities, some of which include: having really interesting conversations; listening intently to the people I'm with, and staying really,REALLY far away from that dip. )

2) The bubble skirt is back. And metallic silver is back. And the combination of "lots of pouffy fabric around your butt" AND "-the pouffy fabric is a light, shiny color", means that one's bottom looks preety much like the Goodyear Blimp, which I'm just going to say is not an optimum look for anybody. You very seldom hear a man saying "Yeah, she was so hot! She looked sort of like a dirigible." Bad. No. Put the pouffy skirt down and back away slowly.

3) Herve Legere bandage dresses. These are, essentially, dresses made of stretchy bandages sewn together. They take an hour to squeeze into. I saw one woman look fabulous in this dress, but unfortunately there were TEN women wearing it, and the other nine now owe me money for therapy, please. -And the only reason the other woman looked good in it was because she was Gisele Bundchen, whose face is, frankly, a little iffyy but no one notices because no one has ever actually LOOKED at her face. Her body is so fantastically good tha it's like God put her on earth to make the rest of feel bad. But man, did she rock that dress, although frankly Gisele does look a little horsey--sort of like a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Secretariat. [There will be a brief pause while the writer stops to lap from a bowl of milk and then sharpen her claws on some furniture.]

4) Sequins: No. Just don't. I don't care what your reasons are. Nothing justifies sequin use. Especially not a skin tight, iridescent sequin dress, unless you WANT to look like a rainbow trout. If the onlooker's first impulse upon seeing you is to think, "hey. I bet she'd fry up good with some almonds and butter," you have not really succeeded.

Me, i was wearing a black strapless cocktail dress. My friend was wearing something cute from France, bu not from the xpensive part of France.. The outfits we were criticizing probably started at upwards of two grand. But we looked sorta cute, in a minimalist wa, as opposed to the beautiful Asian woman who was wearing a ten thousand dollar dress that looked, quite literally, like a glazed chintz window treatment. I had to restrain the impulse to run up and put an expansion rod through her sleeves.

Wobbled home to write some illconsidered emails, the kind where you check your "sent" box the next day and say "Oh GOD no", and so, after work this afternoon, will then make arrangements to change my name and move to the forests of Borneo to work with the gentle indiginous peoples, who live in harmony with nature and also don't have any access to the Internet. Trust me-It's the only way.

Nice knowing you. Keep in touch. Simply write to me at: The Tall Blonde Broad,c/o  Gentle Tribal Peoples, Big Forest, Borneo, and I will get back to you by the next available post, which is only accessible by a 12 hour dugout canoe ride up the Amazon so, frankly-- don't hold your breath.