Sunday, November 27, 2022

Vital Viewing (Star Student Edition)



Irene Cara never attended the New York City magnet school she helped make famous, the High School of the Performing Arts (since renamed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art ) but instead a rival institution, the lesser known but equally well-regarded Professional Children's School. The education must have paid off, as the singer-actress-dancer was still in her teens when she was cast as the leading lady in two feature films, Aaron Loves Angela (1975) and Sparkle (1976). Neither one did all that well at the box office (though both now have cult followings), but a flick about that school she didn't attend did, and made her a star, getting her an interview with this one-time mainstay early Saturday afternoon personality:   

OK, now to that movie...

An ensemble film if there ever was one, 1980's Fame depicts all four years, freshman to senior, in the lives of seven teenagers attending the aforementioned High School of the Performing Arts, one student of which is the wildly ambitious Coco Hernandez, played by Cara. This wild ambition is wildly on display in the following promotional film (soon to be called a "music video".) Watch:

Ed Koch's Manhattan, back in the day.

Fame's title song won an Oscar. The movie had another Academy Award-nominated song. It didn't win, obviously, but it's still worth a listen:

Maybe two listens. Three listens. Four, five, six...

OK, I said Irene Cara was an actor as well as a singer. Even though Fame is a drama, I couldn't find any heavy-duty dramatic scenes on YouTube (except for maybe the above clip) but she shows a nice aptitude for comedy in the following segment:


This man begs to differ (watch the film if you don't know what I'm talking about.)


Remember this movie? Irene Cara pays homage in this scene from Fame:  

Upstaged by a distraught girl and a train. That never happened to Gene Kelly.

The success of Fame led to a whole era of urban-centric musicals, including the one above. Now, the plot of Flashdance, in which a full-time steelworker becomes a ballet dancer, has about as much credibility as Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, but Jennifer Beals is very good in the lead role, and, better yet, Irene Cara (not herself seen in the film) got another Top-40 Academy-Award Winning hit song out of it. In the following clip, she sings "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" in a venue not otherwise known for the latest musical offerings of Giorgio Moroder:

I think Jerry may have exceeded his fundraising goal that year.

It's old hat now, but nobody (at least nobody living in white suburbia) had seen anything like breakdancing in 1984 when Irene Cara helped popularize the fancy footwork (and fancy head-, back-, shoulder-, and asswork) with a song. Her last big hit, here's the computer-animated video:

She's a pixels-packing mama.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A Search for Truth and Meaning


Other than fanatically seizing upon whatever coincidence that occasionally comes my way, I'm not a religious person and attend no church. However, if I were to attend a church, I suppose the Unitarian Universalist Church would be as good as any. Actually, it would be better than any. Case in point: the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in downtown Colorado Springs held a vigil this past Sunday for the victims of another downtown Colorado Springs institution, Club Q, where the day before a gunman entered and opened fire on patrons, killing five and injuring 18. So many people showed up, including by virtual means Colorado's openly gay governor Jared Polis, that two more vigils were held the same day. Obviously, it's not every church that asks that tears be shed over a gay bar shooting, but then Unitarian Universalists are known for their inclusiveness, an inclusiveness that nowadays even extends to non-Christians, in the belief, if I got it right, that there's some all-faith encompassing spirituality out there that can only be grasped at.


So where did the Unitarian Universalist Church come from? Well, for starters, a 1961 merger between the American Universalist Church and the American Unitarianism Association. The first goes back to the late 18th century, the second to the early 19th (though the original European form of Unitarianism first emerged in the 16th century.) Universalists believe no soul is damned, not even an LGBTQ soul. Unitarians believe in rational spirituality. That might sound like a contradiction in terms, but one notable and still influential offshoot of early Unitarianism was New England Transcendentalism--you know, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Brooks Farm, etc. Speaking of New England, I found out an ancestorial strain of the Unitarian Universalist Church came to these shores aboard, of all things, the Mayflower! I'm having a bit of a hard time getting my head around that, but if it's true, that Club Q vigil may be puritanism in the best sense of the word.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Born to Run


The Beltway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive, but Nancy Pelosi ain't one of them. After a remarkable, sometimes dangerous (for her and her family) thirty-five years in Congress, which included two stints as Speaker of the House, this is one hero stepping down from power fully intact.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Quips and Quotations (A Whiz of a Wiz if Ever a Wiz There Was Edition)

The reason I felt very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing ‘Potter,’ I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter on that. And so seeing them hurt on that day I was like, I wanted them to know that not everybody in the franchise felt that way. And that was really important.

--Daniel Radcliffe, on distancing his views of the transgender community from those of J.K. Rowling.


Saturday, November 12, 2022

Graphic Grandeur (Lumpenproletariat Uprising Edition)


If the super-sophisticated, super-cosmopolitan, and super-intellectual New Yorker magazine ever needed an antidote to its own super-sophicosmointellectualism, the editors had to look no further than its own George Booth, the cartooning champion of (and occasional apologist for) the Forgotten Man, the Forgotten Woman, and Forgotten Man's and Forgotten Woman's Forgotten Pets (though the latter bunch could often be pretty damn unforgettable.) CBS Sunday Morning did a profile of Booth a few years back. He doesn't disappoint:

The phrase "Brooklyn hipster" caught my attention. Whatever happened to Greenwich Village? Excuse my ignorance, but I've never been to New York City so all I know about Brooklyn hipsters is what I've...


...seen on TV.

Eh...We better leave the rest of the artwork to George Booth. Delve into these delightfully dingy drawings:


The above cartoon reminds me that...

...he died too. But back to Booth:



Finally, here's a Booth cartoon that's been widely anthologized:

An obvious instance of heterosexual grooming. 












Sunday, November 6, 2022

Tell Her to Make Him a Cambric Shirt


Director Mike Nichols, cinematographer Robert Surtees, and a cameraman all look down upon a floating Dustin Hoffman while shooting this scene for 1967's The Graduate. Though it's not a word she would have used...

 ...Mrs. Robinson seems to have had a thing for twinks.