It's Been Good 2013

What a nice year. Actually. It wasn't that bad.

I'm even going to throw this out there: these past 6 months have been EXTRA RAD. 

TIME TO GET PERSONAL: I've probably changed the most this year. The beginning of 2013 was the first time that I actually liked someone! Aside from Aaron Carter and Gordo from Lizzie McGuire, I must admit I had never really liked a boy before. Wowie. 

I knew from the start that I was romanticizing him into someone he clearly wasn't...but it was nice having those feelings for the first time. Dopamine? Yeah, that. In fact, it was the most exciting thing ever. It was HOLY.

 The boy turned out to not be exactly how I pictured - but I will cherish him as my first school girl crush ever. 

 (God - I'm too old for this.)

 2013 was a year of self love. I remember being so anxious in the beginning, latching onto people who didn't necessarily have my best interests in mind. I felt like I became a friend to fill space, to get connections. Getting out of that situation was the best decision and feeling I ever had. It was pure EUPHORIA. Realizing that you can always opt out to do your own thing was brand new to me. 

Being able to be on your own is SO important. I began to learn how to deal with my anxiety, how to stop thinking negatively, and I finally reached out to those friends who were there for me the whole time. If I hadn't of taken that step - I wouldn't want to know the person I would have become. 

One of the best moments was seeing Crystal Castles with my friend Bonnie. You would think being squished against hippies and punk kids alike would be terrifying - but it was probably the best bonding experience I'd ever had. Something about the hue of the lights, the pounding bass. No one was trying to feel you up or buy you a drink, everyone was just there for the music.
 It was the best high of my life. What was even more euphoric was walking downtown in the chilled May air with my friends afterwards. Walking outside by the loner smokers, hugging old high school friends, catching the bus back - still buzzing. 

Then there was work, and all that comes with work. Meeting and befriending people you probably wouldn't have, watching how people react with each other, having the coworker bond of hatred against horrible customers whilst working retail, and really appreciating smoke/lunch breaks. It made me realize how good I have it, being able to have an education when I worked along people who deserved it way more but had to make a living instead. 

(DV stills)

Then fall. Fall 2013 was great. It was the first time that I felt like I belonged somewhere in a long time. I met up with old friends, made some new ones through activism, and generally had awesome weekends. I didn't act like my usual myself and I liked it. 

Then there were the random friends: the girl who was in my dorm last year.  We ended up getting late night coffee and talked about existentialism and how we have no idea what we are doing in school. It was the deepest conversation I've had to this date. 

There was the troublemaker in my French class who the teacher disliked (more than me, I might add). We bonded over our failures in the education system. She is like an older sister to me, but more crass. She's loud, not always P.C., and has the attention span of a goldfish. Yet, she is the most fiercely loyal person I've ever encountered and can go from making you laugh hysterically to making you spill your guts  in order to sort your shit out. 

I started making short films again, Mini DV/VHS/collage stuff. I used to detest everything I made in art - even the stuff that won awards, but this time it all just flowed out for some reason. I realized how important it is to have access to resources and technology  - and how comforting it can be to have them (shout out to Adobe and really nice Mac computers). 

Wrapping it up, I came in contact with someone who was really fresh. They had a passion like mine and seemed to have their life somewhat figured out, which let me breathe a little easier. They seemed driven and focused, but also childlike.  CHILDLIKE. I really admired that, I didn't think people could still have that when they "grew up". 

I admit - I can be really cynical of my own future. The economy, my barely-making-money "profession" path, my own issues - they all seem to hinder me from progressing. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to get through it all. To be honest, I still am.

But by just being in contact with this person I learned that everyone doesn't have it completely figured out, but making things work is do-able. Having the urgency to find yourself as soon as possible, make it big, get rid of all your debt - is keeping you paralyzed from actually living and creating things. 

This person made me feel like it'd all be okay, and I don't think they know that. 

So, cheers to 2013 - a turning point. 

Hopefully you all had a nice time this year, and if you didn't, I hope you keep optimism in you for this upcoming year.  My constant existential battle with human interaction proved fruitful this time around, even with the friendships I'd lost - the boys too. I would be lying if I said I didn't have major lows - they came and passed, but I wouldn't change a thing. 

You'd be amazed at how quickly you can change, or how quickly your environment can change. You have to be open to it. It's scary, but it's great.

Never be stagnant.
Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion 


Film Muse: Tropico

Hello Film Muse readers, today I'm going to be writing about Lana Del Rey's newly released short film Tropico directed by Anthony Mandler. I heard about this project back in the summer and was really pumped to see their vision. And it was sort of amazing. 

As many of you know, I'm a fan of Lana Del Rey. Although she is a frequent perpetrator of cultural appropriation (a different post), I couldn't help but being in awe of her work. When I first saw her come into the music scene, I was skeptical. I tried to find every excuse to discredit her work and her authenticity. Who does this woman think she is? Her use of stolen archive footage, making herself into seemingly docile characters and declaring her abusive relationship with Americana stunned me. She was everything I shouldn't of been and yet I couldn't ignore the passion I felt for her work. 

Then I realized that she was the first artist that embodied the same idea of nostalgia I and other millennia's fantasize about in our present era. The yearning to feel wanted, the lure of manic love, and the notion of cultural voidness that we desperately try escape in our mundane lives. Lana expressed all of the emotion I felt in a curated aesthetic that spoke to my soul. I've owned up to it, the good and the bad. Lana Del Rey is one of the greatest poets of our generation. 

(one of my favorite shots, Marilyn screaming as "Eve" bites into the apple)

In Tropico, the viewer goes on a musical narrative journey through three of Lana's interconnected songs ("Body Electric"| "Gods and Monsters' | "Bel-Air"). I was mostly excited about "Body Electric", a song in which Lana beautifully mentions her motifs/idols. Lana has no shame in glamorizing and molding her life after Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Jesus, and Monica Lewinsky (to name a few). I wonder if she read John Waters' novel "Role Models" for artistic inspiration.

I think the symbolic nature of Lana's character being cast out of the Garden of Eden into present day American hell is so powerful. This is the first time that I felt Lana really showed the pain of her character's oppression AS WELL as putting the spotlight on the perpetrators. This has been a motif of Lana's for a long time, but for some reason the transition of innocence packs more of a punch in Tropico.  

The two lovers bask in a beautiful paradise before sin slams them down to the lowest of American lows, podunk strip clubs and buzzing Kwik-E-Marts. Condemned Adam, wannabe masculine John Wayne cowboy, rings up junk food while Eve gets the worst of it (how fitting) by relying on her sexuality for a living. What did they (she) do to deserve such hell? The display of perversion on Earth is overwhelming in "Gods and Monsters"/the following businessmen scene. 

"Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from the woman. The womb, the tits, nipples, breast milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love looks, love perturbations and rising...Oh I say, these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul. Oh, I say now, these are the soul." - Whitman (?)* (Tropico)

I can't even touch the monologue above. It's too beautiful to break down.  

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz..." -Howl by Allen Ginsberg (excerpt in Tropico)

"And so, being created in his likeness, and being banished for being too much like him, we were cast out. And the Garden of Eden transformed into the Garden of Evil.  Los Angeles, the city of angels. The land of gods and monsters, the in between rehlm where only the choices made from your freewill will decide your soul's final fate. Some poets called it the entrance to the underworld, but on some summer nights it could feel like paradise. Paradise lost. " - Lana Del Rey (Tropico)

"Just remember, I'm always there for ya" - John Wayne (Tropico) 

The film comes together in the end by the sinners metaphorically being baptized after paying for their sins. John Wayne's "America: Why I Love Her" is the last monologue we hear:

"Have you seen a snowflake drifting in the Rockies, way up high?
 Have you seen the sun come blazing down from a bright Nevada sky? ...
You ask me why I love her? I've a million reasons why. 
My beautiful America, beneath God's wide, wide sky".

I personally see it in this way: with all of the perversions of America, of life, there is still so much beauty to experience. 

Nostalgia? Our glamorization of the past, of things that we want to make beautiful, things that we want to cherish, even if we haven't  experienced them ourselves. Maybe it's not such a bad thing - glamorizing nostalgia - if it helps you get through life. We are lost, we need guidance. We need to know that there is beauty, that it wont always be this way. 

Presently, my brain is trying to stop me from wrapping this post up. It's something I still have to think about and linger on. Either way, I wanted to share my thoughts with you all out there right away. Sorry for the weird abrupt ending. 

-Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion


Film Muse: Gummo

I can't quite remember when I first saw Gummo. All I know is that when I saw it I wasn't ready for it - and that in itself was a godsend. You can't be ready for it. Gummo (1997) directed by Harmony Korine changed me. It changed the way I saw and interpreted film. After being exposed, I was no longer a drone to traditional box office narratives (did that sound pretentious? oops). 

There's something in the way that Korine catches this catastrophic post tornado town. The dirt, the innocence, the simpleness, the corruptness. Maybe it's the DV video tape style that Korine is known to use. Voyeurism. Like you're watching someone else's home videos without their permission. It's invasive. You can't look away.  

* If you are reading this sentence and you have not seen Gummo, DO NOT READ THIS POST. I don't want to taint your eyes/mind by spoiling it. *

Once you get a taste of Gummo, it will make you want to throw up. 
In a good way, of course.

( Fact: Chloƫ Sevigny designed/made those bunny ears)

Gummo is about a classic USA town. No, not the Americana bullshit you think of. The real American heartland.  As much as you don't want to believe that this exists in real life, it does. The story focuses on the residents of a poor tornado stricken town and what they do in their spare time. Killing cats, huffing Reddi-wip, fighting, playing tennis on Ritalin, and pimping out their sister- to name a few activities. 

(Chloƫ Sevigny rocking Cherie Currie hair?)

This movie is fucking brash. When I first discovered it, I learned that it wasn't entirely fictional. Korine and his crew went into this dilapidated town and actually filmed the locals. Anything you see on the DV cam is probably real unscripted banter between town locals. The racism, the shameless talk of killing things - EVERYTHING is real. So disturbing, but so interesting. It didn't take me long to learn that filmmaking is about evoking emotion, especially the emotions and thoughts you try to keep out of your head. Korine blasts them in your face via metal music and you can't escape it. 

(^one of my favorite characters/scenes)

 There is something so pure about this film that it hurts. You wonder if the characters remember the tornado, if they have flashbacks, if they feel emotion over it. Even though some of the characters are so destructive, you can't help but see something deeper in their eyes. Experience, I'll say. Pain? Like they know so much more than you or I, even though you wouldn't expect it. I haven't figured it out completely.

("You're going to be a millionaire")

I think one of my favorite scenes was in the basement, the mother wearing her deceased husband's tap shoes, trying to make her kid smile. The camera work, how comically invasive it was. You see how much love she has for her kid, how she tries to amuse him, how she tries to amuse herself. She doesn't seem to feel bad about anything really, yet somehow you can just feel how importantly beautiful this scene is. 

Once you get into the world of Korine everything becomes beautiful with intent. I noticed a lot of people dismissing him for Spring Breakers (which I have so much respect for). Korine is one of those psychotic people who see more than you do. He will do crazy shit and doesn't try to justify it or even address it. Is that making sense? I wouldn't say he "comments" on things, at least not in the traditional explicit way that everyone likes. He just films what is. A reflection of OUR society, of OUR morals, of OUR appropriation, and OUR desensitization. I think that's a great way to go about it, by showing it instead of explicitly explaining it (either verbally himself, or by using dumbed down images/dialogue). I'm a fan of his style, clearly.

Sorry if this post didn't make the most sense. I sort of like it this way though, to be honest. Korine changed me (Gummo, Trash Humpers, Julien Donkey-Boy, Spring Breakers). The fact that I can't even fully comprehend the images and messages that he has planted in my brain means that he must be doing something right. Gummo is beautifully disgusting. I hope you liked it as much as I did.

-Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion

P.S. This is one of my favorite short segments of the town locals. I CAN'T EXPLAIN IT. The  MUSIC.