April 10, 2012
On June 6, 2012, Allegra La Viola will open The Invisible Line, the first New York City solo show by Ellen Jong. The exhibition, which is curated by mr. and mrs. Olu, will feature photographs from Jong’s self-published monograph, Getting to Know My Husband’s Cock. It features 25 framed works, a mixed media installation, and will be accompanied by a Happening, which invites participation from one and all to cross their own Invisible Line.
The Invisible Line is the demarcation between fear and fearlessness. It is that thing that holds us back, or thrusts us forth into the great, wild, unknown space where possibility that makes every life so perfectly unique. To cross or not to cross, that is the question. But who could be an artist if they allowed fear to dictate their creative process?
As Jong observes, “There is an invisible line that lies between my body and my mind. It withholds my deepest beliefs, fears, curiosities and desires. It is there to protect me. It is there to tell others where I stand, what is mine and why I am. In falling in love, I lost sight of my invisible line and I let it go. Love breaks down walls and sets you free.”
For Jong, the creation of her monograph echoes the process of falling in love. She had to face her deepest fears and release them into the universe. The result was not just the success of having her work well received, it was the commitment every artist must make to themselves—to persevere by every means….
March 26, 2012
Eddie Brannan introduced me to Ellen Jong back in 2005. He told me she had a book she wanted to publish and would I be interested? Ohmagosh. Yeaa! With that introduction a beautiful friendship began, and I must say, rare is the person with whom I have collaborated that I can say holds such a shining place in my heart.
I have long been a champion of Miss Jong, and she of me. As we drew closer, I could see so many parallels between our lives. We have taken different paths, but we are going in the same direction. And once again our paths align, as she brings The Invisible Line to life this June at Allegra La Viola Gallery in New York.
As we talked, The Invisible Line began to make itself felt. It is the same line I have been crossing, though I call it the fire I walk through. The premise is elegant and essential to life. It is that we must cross the line cast by fear in order to grow, to live, to thrive. Life need not be mere survival. Life can be more than you ever dreamed, because every moment we are here, we create possibility.
I know this to be true, having lived so many lives by this time it is hard to imagine that still, I am young. I know this to be true because things I never imagined possible have become. The people I have known, have connected with, the unexpected being the constant, the dream becoming reality. This could only happen by facing fear with a big golden smile upon my face. And I now know facing fear is to take it on wherever the invisible line appears.
A common fear among artists is the fear of creation. I have been thinking of this lately, about how so many people never allow themselves to express the divine energy that is their birthright. The reasons (excuses) for this are numerous, but they hold no weight. They are chimeras, illusions, shadows of the fake.
One common fear is money. Who has it? Where will it come from? How to finance? How how ask? How to manifest our purpose with or without it?
Amazing that a piece of paper could hold such sway, but we will empower it to disempower us, unless we learn a better way. Kickstarter is one such way. It shows how technology can be used for the greater good. It provides the platform upon which we can introduce our dreams to the world. And here we can ask, without the residue of shame. Because why should there be shame in creating community among those who love and support creative energy?
I believe one must always put their money where their mouth is. I have poured money into people into whom I believe, never asking in return for anything, because that would be cheap. I am hypersensitized to cheapness and greed. I have seen it in my own character and it was the first vice I sought to erase. And so I began, supporting artists. Because this is America, a capitalist society. I believe we vote with our money, and where we put it can help other people thrive. And there is nothing greater than to be among the flourishing, to feel the energy that comes from being a part of something bigger than yourself, of supporting the provocative, the beautiful, the compelling, all that which is original thought.
Those who say nothing is original are those who have quit their own lives. Everything is original. Every moment we are on this earth is unlike any other, and in these moments, we create ourselves anew. And in order to do this, we must cross The Invisible Line.
February 13, 2012
February 6, 2012
“Pity little girl. Why are you behaving like death will not come to you? Pity you… May God save you… Hmmmmmmmmmmm.”
This comment was submitted to my blog for approval after I posted a story on Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the twenty-year old communications major who gained worldwide attention when she posted a naked photograph of herself on Twitter with the hash tag #nuderevolutionaryphoto in October 2011.
In the black and white photograph, she stands facing the camera, the intensity of her gaze heightened by her thigh-high stockings, red shoes, and red bow. Elmahdy told CNN, “I am not shy of being a woman in a society where women are nothing but sex objects harassed on a daily basis by men who know nothing about sex or the importance of a woman. The photo is an expression of my being and I see the human body as the best artistic representation of that. I took the photo myself using a timer on my personal camera. The powerful colors black and red inspire me.” Red, black, and white, the colors of the Egyptian flag….
February 1, 2012
And You Can Bet Your Last Money, It’s Gonna Be A Stone Gas, Honey!
I figured as long as the music stayed hot and important and good,
that there would always be a reason for Soul Train.
We can’t make it important to anybody else. … But it’s important to us.
It’s always a pleasure to find something that matters.
We wish you love, peace, and soul!
January 29, 2012
The measure of the moral worth of a man is his happiness.
The better the man, the more happiness.
Happiness is the synonym of well-bring.
Do not have an attitude; open yourself and focus yourself and express yourself.
Reject external form that fails to express internal reality.
We can see through others only when we see through ourselves.
To understand your fear is the beginning of really seeing.
The question: I’m loved?
All quotes from Striking Thoughts by Bruce Lee
January 17, 2012
It was early 2000. Sometime in the spring. The phone rang and I answered it. “Hello, powerHouse,” I said. I used to be a receptionist, so I played my part. Besides, we only had one line. I was new and I realized the best way to find out what was going down was to pick up the phone. Find out who was talking to who.
A voice grizzled and growled on the other line. “Who’s this?” a man asked. Well, well now, I wasn’t expecting that.
“It’s Sara,” I said.
“Hello Sara,” the man said, now sweetness and light. “You’re new there. What are you, an intern?”
Aww hell no, I seethed to myself, full of pride. Ahem. “I am the Marketing Director,” I replied, though I really didn’t know what that meant at all.
“Just the person I want to speak to,” the man went on. “I am Nat Finkelstein. Author of The Factory Years.”
Yea, I knew who he was. I had written catalogue copy for his book. In fact, it was his book that I used for sample copy to request permission to write all entries for the catalogue. You see, I wanted to write. More than anything else. So on a Friday I asked, “Can I write the catalogue?” I was bold.
“Can you?” I was asked.
I considered that. “I’ll write an entry over the weekend and if you like it, I will do the rest.”
I was so excited. I can’t even tell you. It was my shot at the big time, to be the voice of the company. I looked at the list and I felt lost. Until I came across The Factory Years. Then I was home. I sat in my apartment and the first sentence came to me: New York City, the 1960s: Inside a ramshackle studio known as The Factory, the post-war art world encountered the industrial revolution.
I loved that line. That’s the kind of writer I wanted to be. I submitted the copy, and it had passed muster. I was given the assignment for writing all copy from there forward.
So it came to pass that the first author I had spoken to was the one who inspired me to go for what I wanted most. Ahh, Nat, he loved the ladies and he loved to talk. He could not or would not be stopped. He loved it so much he suggested we meet up. Sure, sounds great.
And so we met. I don’t remember what it is we did. All I remember was this one moment in a taxi cab. “So what was Warhol like,” I asked curiously, only to be met with a howl from hell that I did not expect.
“DON’T ASK ME ABOUT WARHOL!”
I know he said more but when his yelled, I went into shock. I didn’t understand at that time what I did wrong. But as I came to know Nat, as the years went by and we established a friendship that transcended the author/publisher vibe, I discovered that the issue was more complex. First, there was the way everyone had been feeding off The Factory.
It’s a strange thing, to have your life’s work defined by someone else’s success. I can imagine that for someone like Nat, there was absolutely no appeal—other than the cash—to that. Then there was the truth about The Factory, which Nat had written in the book, a dark place of vampirical energy, evidenced by the corpses it spit up. And lastly, there was Nat, his life so much greater than the time he spent with Warhol, though I always wondered about that—what was this Coney Island original doing in that vortex of gay males?
As I got to know Nat, I understood what it was. “You know why Warhol had you around?” I asked Nat one night, having that stoned revelation.
Nat looked at me with a mixture of doubt and curiosity, wanting to know what I would say, yet thinking, What the fuck is she talking about?
With the utmost confidence, I continued. “He had you around because you were that powerful, strong, heterosexual male energy. You were the straight guy, the No man, so to speak. You were the only one who would call him on his bullshit.”
Nat said nothing. I knew he liked this. Silence was agreement, that much I learned.
And so in honor of this, Nat’s 79th birthday, I want to send all of my love to the old man from the sea. There’s so much more I could say, ha, I could write a book. Nat is (I can’t say was, because even though he is dead, he is not gone) the real thing. He is strong, powerful, reliable. He is smart, funny, sensitive. He is deep, sophisticated, vulgar. He is the man I love. He is the man who taught me that life is for the fearless. He is the spirit that has taught me death is not the end but a new beginning. Nat Finkelstein is eternal. His magic lives forever.
oh yea, and you can thank Nat for the Fifteen Minutes line.
It was his.
Read the book and find out.
January 8, 2012
Stars are ageless, aren’t they?
No one ever leaves a star.
That’s what makes one a star.
We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!
~Norma is always on point
She was the greatest of them all. You wouldn’t know, you’re too young. In one week she received 17,000 fan letters. Men bribed her hairdresser to get a lock of her hair. There was a maharajah who came all the way from India to beg one of her silk stockings. Later he strangled himself with it! ~Max von Mayerling
I just got on the list for an advanced copy of
Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen
sooo excited, ya digg
i’ve been lovinn great dames since i first saw Sunset Boulevard
January 8, 2012
December 28, 2011
Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce,
but still only light and flickering.
The love of the older and disciplined heart
is as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.
Frankness and truthfulness to myself and to the one I love.
Truthful between two as one.
You are part of my life,
no pride, vanity, or anger involved.
December 27, 2011
An Egyptian administrative court issued an order Tuesday banning virginity tests for female detainees, months after several women alleged they were subjected to such examinations following a March protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The ruling comes in the case of Samira Ibrahim, a 25-year-old marketing manager who took the country’s military led-government to court in August, alleging she was among those subjected to the test after her arrest during the March 9 protest. She said she faced death threats after bringing the case….
Notice how the government spokesman said,
“Those tests are not considered a crime.”
Notice how the SCAF general said,
“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine.”
Sounds a lot like that funny little thing they say about rape victims:
“She was asking for it.”
This time, though, it’s got family connotations:
“She deserved it because she’s not one of us.”
I’d rather be one of them, then one with him.
Any day or night for the rest of my life.
December 26, 2011
Aliaa, what a nice name, good physical features, I mean young, fresh and blossoming only with a strong and probably negative heart and ego, surely there are many ways of expressing your feelings and motives than by showing your precious body to the whole world, what now remains for you is to start moving around NAKED. I wonder what religion you are practising, bcos NO religion promotes this sort of act neither do our (African) traditions and morals. Please find another decent way of expressing yourself, though I dont know you but I feel I like you to the level of giving you a sensible advise. Thanks and I pray for good things in your life.
Hassan Aliyu Shehu left this comment today on my post to Aliaa Magda Elmahdy. I’ve been thinking about what it means. To be choose to be nude before the whole world. As a New Yorker, the body is a commodity. Maybe that’s what freedom means. At least, here and now. In the twenty-first century. We as women are free to use our bodies for any purpose we wish, and no longer is it political because that moment in America has passed. From Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party to Kim Kardashian’s sex tape. And we talk about progress like it’s a good thing. But maybe it’s more complex than that.
But Egypt is not America, and Aliaa’s act is one that is so powerful I feel overwhelmed trying to understand what it must mean. To be a woman in Egypt today, fighting for freedom, subject to virginity tests. That’s the least of what she’s up against. Mind blowing hostility, hatred, social control. Freedoms we take for granted are subject to death threats in another part of this world.
When will the body—both male and female—be seen as a work of Nature, rather than a product of Society? Can we look with love, with admiration, with respect, or will our hearts always fill with lust, with anger, with disgust? Will we celebrate or condemn, will we wrap our fears in religion and groupthink? Will we support or fight her wish for freedom on her terms?
To be naked before the whole world is a political act when there is nothing to be sold. But once that ground has broken, something is lost and something is found. I live in a world where women use their bodies for profit, as though objectification at the hands of oneself is an honorable act. Is this the future of Aliaa’s mission? Self determination. Self exploitation. Where is the line?
I suppose it depends on where you stand.
From here I see Aliaa, a vanguard of the old school using new media to speak to the world. And by old school, I mean the cult of the goddess, a time when the woman’s body was worshiped and revered. A time when the female energy was honored for its power to bring life into the world. It was not superior, nor was it inferior, to masculine energy. It was complementary. It was yin to the yang. Two Equals One. Never tear us apart.
But we have been split, torn asunder, and the result is it takes a scream to be heard. It takes a twenty-year-old woman, a twenty-year-old girl. It takes an honest look at the nude form for us to ask What’s Going On? This is the oldest war in the world, the struggle for female self determination. Because she who controls life controls the future, and that’s a frightening prospect to many.
There is no right or wrong answer because the subject of nudity, sexuality, and the female body is a political game. Ideas are currency, currency is power. Perhaps the answer is not to be found in the examination of her ideology, but in the way she triggers us to answer for our own.
December 13, 2011
Yesterday, I walk by my spot, the best bookshop in all of New York. And there I see Pryor Convictions, the memoirs of an incredible man, and I open it up and read a couple of lines and feel this overwhelming sense of pain. I put it back down, I walk out of the shop, head down the block to have lunch with Mr. Hayes, and in the course of conversation I mention how I spotted this book.
Mr. Hayes talks about his father, about his father’s relation to Richard. And then I catch this vibe so I say, “Come on, I’m gonna take you to my spot so we can each get a copy.” Funny how Mr. Hayes got lost in the shop, told me he was gonna hang loose and check for other titles while I dashed back to BK for a meeting. And as I sat on the train, I opened the book. Couldn’t stop, I was hooked.
It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up something I can’t put down. Crazy ish is, I read Pam Grier’s memoirs not too long ago, and they have very different recollections of how that went, tho I am gonna give it up to Pam cause she as sober and… well, read Foxy and you’ll see what I’m talkin about.
I think it’s the nature of the memoir that holds me spellbound. It’s not that this is what actually happened so much as it’s what the person wants to tell, to believe, to leave as their legacy. This is their version of life, and reading conflicting accounts makes it all the more provocative. Not because I want someone to be right and someone to be wrong, but because it reminds me that the nature of the word is dubious from the start.
It is Plato’s theory of the Ideal in full effect. Or as Rene Magritte once said, C’est n’est pas un pipe.
by the way, the book must be out of print
cause it is selling online upwards of $50 a hit