Monday, March 11, 2013

I can be smart when I have to be ... but men don't like it.

This from Lorelei Lee, Marilyn Monroe's character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  To my mind, the truth of the matter is less gender-based.  Nobody likes excessively smart people; men or women.  That's why I've adopted a kind of dullard-savant persona.  To shield the general public from what one might call the blazing reality of me.

Like Shakespeare's many fools.
You flatter me.

Actually, I just finished reading As You Like It.  Two fools in that one, but Touchstone feels most familiar.

You say nobody likes a smarty-pants and here you are, referencing the Bard.
I can't help it.  And besides, I'm going to see a production of AYLI on Wednesday and I thought  it would be a good idea to beef myself up on the play.

Before we move on, let me just say that there are a ton of free Shakespeare iPad apps, and reading an act a night is a pretty soothing way to step gently into sleep.  Assuming it's not MacBeth.  Figure five acts to a play, that's one play a week, no sweat.  A year from now, even with fifteen weeks off for good behavior, you'll have read the entire Canon.  Me?  I find that unless I'm really tired, when I've finished the 4th Act I usually just motor through the 5th as well.  Then I've got three days to chew on the play before beginning the next one.

All that by way of saying I've also watched two Marilyn Monroe movies in two nights.  How to Marry a Millionaire and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  And I'm here to tell you, Daddy-O, that everything everybody's been saying is true.

Do you shop on Amazon a lot?  Me?  Stuck in the wilderness, I not only shop there quite a bit, but I'm a Amazon Prime member.  Which I would recommend.

So here's how things sometimes go:  You're reading the New York Times and they mention, in a highly complimentary manner, the release of a boxed set of seven MM movies newly remastered on blu-ray.  You reflect on the fact that you don't have a full understanding of the woman's thespic accomplishments.  You go to Amazon and you see that the boxed set costs about a hundred bucks.  You realize that's way too much, but you click a button that puts the set on your wish list.  Three months later you get a lovely note from Amazon saying now it's available for seventy bucks.  You realize that's still way too much so you, like Hamlet, act by not acting.  Three months after that you get a lovely note from Amazon saying the boxed set is now on sale for something like 29 bucks.  And you click "buy".  Two-day shipping is free.  About six months after that you happen to look in a corner of your bookshelf and see the boxed set.  With nothing really to do and no Knicks game on you pop one in the player.  And you are blown away.

I love this photo ...

It's Warhol Muse Edie Sedgwick.  Shot by me, right off the TV screen, during a Warhol documentary.  Man, did he do a number on that girl.  But that's not the point.

Also this ...

Francoise Gilot, still lovely at 90 or so, also shot from the screen.

Anyway, some cold winter week I plan on painting both women very much in the manner in which the camera captures them from the TV.  I particularly love the bar across Edie's face.  I'd tell you that Bob Dylan, with whom she was either friends or more than friends, wrote Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands about her, but I'd just be making it up.  Like that guy who just had all his books removed from the shelves.

Jonah Lehrer?

Anyway, the idea behind buying the Monroe movies was that I could play the beautiful blu-ray images on my 1080p TV and shoot pictures of Marilyn with an eye towards painting her.  Because, in the end, contemporary painters only fight with a couple of people.  Picasso is one.  Likewise de Kooning.  Warhol is on the list too.

I'm a bit more ambivalent about wrassling with Warhol than the other two.  But if you have to do it, you have to do it.

This is a signed print titled Shot Red Marilyn ...

And it is indeed a mountain to climb.  I won't bore you with the Shot Marilyn business other than to say a woman intent on murdering Warhol stopped by the Factory one afternoon and started busting caps.  Missed him but shot five Marilyn paintings right through the forehead.

Wikipedia has this ...

Warhol actually painted five colored Marilyns in 1964 with different colored backgrounds: red, orange, light blue, sage blue, and turquoise and he stored them at The Factory, his studio on East 47th Street in ManhattanDorothy Podber (1932–2008), a friend of Factory photographer Billy Name, saw the recently completed paintings stacked against one another at the studio and asked Warhol if she could shoot them. Believing that she meant she wanted to photograph the paintings, Warhol agreed.[1] Podber doffed her pair of white gloves, withdrew a small revolver from her purse, and fired a shot into the stack of four "Marilyn" paintings, which became known as The Shot Marilyns. (The fifth painting with the turquoise background was not in the stack.)

Wow, look at that -- I was completely wrong.  Still, imagine owning one of those.

Anyway, I've always wanted to paint Monroe and there's something way more satisfying about grabbing your own screen caps than just nabbing a source photo off the web.  It's like having her pop by the studio for your own little shoot.  And who wouldn't like that?

Update:  This re. a woman named Valerie Solanas, also from Wikipedia ...  

She then went to The Factory, where she found Warhol. She shot at Warhol three times, with the first two shots missing and the final wounding Warhol. She also shot art critic Mario Amaya, and attempted to shoot Warhol's manager, Fred Hughes, point blank, but the gun jammed. Solanas then turned herself in to the police.

I knew somebody shot the son of a bitch.


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