Gilding, on some intrinsic level, has always been disturbed by the advertising industries absurd fascination with posing women in scenes of demise, depicting the violent end during or there after. Think back to the last time you saw an ad with a male model dead. And now think back to an ad which depicts a female model dead. You’ll find you have more trouble remembering the former than the latter. For readers of Gilding the Lily, you’ll remember that one of Gilding’s favorite speakers on the media industry is Jean Kilbourne, who notably makes searing social commentaries on the advertisment industries subjugation and objectification of women in advertisement and its societal impact. And while Gilding has said if media is going to subject and objectify, at least make it equal amongst the genders, she’s never quite understood the “dead” look as being desirable let alone fashionable.
A professor Gilding once had made the statement that America is a death denying nation. He suggested that this is self-evident in the way we treat death; the nicknames and sayings to say “dead” without actually using the word and their oftentimes “rosy” sounding connotations, such as pushing up daisies, bought the farm, cured of everything, etc..
While perhaps there holds some psychological truth to it, how to explain our fascination with photographing death then. Take, for instance, death photos, in which a dead family member was dressed and then placed in position as if they were alive and then photographed. Sometimes the scenes were posed with other dead family members, such as when members died together or within days of one another, and even with other living family members in a macabre “one last hoorah” with dead brother Bernie.
There is always, of course, the question of necrophilia, disorder characterized by a sexual attraction to corpses. It is an expression of a subconcious need for complete control over another person.
But then how to explain the photographing of perfectly alive people as if they were dead. Never one to stifle artistic creation, Gilding still has wonder about the desire and motives behind this photography, and will always ponder their appropriateness in advertising. Art is one thing, and while advertising is an art form, it has a social responsibility that expressive personal art does not.
So now imagaine the conondrum that photographer Izima Kaoru poses for Gilding.
Since 1993, the Japanese photographer has been creating scenes of sophisticated violence and enchanting horror. Landscapes with a Corpse is the title of his project, if that’s any indication to the proposal he made to the models featured in the series in which he sought to reveal in photographic detail their fantasies about death. Above all he asked them which designer clothes they would like to wear when they died. Very Hollywood Bablyon esque, which you may remember is about a 1940′s starlet who is obsessed with her own death after her career goes south.
Kaoru’s purpose of the photos is not to allude to something fatal, as the death scene superficially demonstrates, but is a kind of elegant and highly aesthetic ceremony.
Photos by Izima Kaoru
Tormented novelist Sylvia Plath explored the themes of suicide in her 1963 novel “The Bell Jar,” which follows an ambitious college student who attempts to kill herself after suffering a nervous breakdown while interning at a New York City magazine. The novel is a refelction of Plath’s own experiences of suffering depression while working at Mademoiselle as a college student.
Plath went on to study poetry at Cambridge University, after a stay at a mental institution. It was at Cambrisge that she met Ted Hughes, famed poet laureate, and the two were married in 1956. The couple had two children — Nicholas and Freida — but separated in 1962 after Mr. Hughes began an affair with another woman, Assia Wevill. Wevill later married Hughes and helped raise Nicholas and Freida after Plath took her own life at the age of 30 by sticking her head in an oven in her London home on Feb. 11, 1963, as the young children slept nearby.
Some six years later, Wevill killed herself and her four year old daughter, Shura, styling the murder-suicide in the same manner as Plath’s own death, using a gas stove.
And now, nearly a half-century after his mother and stepmother took their own lives, Nicholas Hughes, an evolutionary biologist who studied stream fish and spent much of his time trekking across Alaska on field studies, hanged himself in his Alaskan home, March 16th 2009.
Sheilded from stories about his mother’s suicide till well into his teens, Hughes lived an academic life largely out of the public eye. Though, friends and family said he long struggled with depression.
A life darkened by the shadows depression and suicide, it leaves one to wonder if such is hereditary or a family curse. Can one inherit a gene bent for suicide? Is depression a catching symptom like the common cold? Though he remained in silence about the suicides, and had protected his children from the details of their mother’s death, in at least one poem, Ted Hughes indicates that Nicholas, only one at the time of her death, was pained even as a small child, recalling in one stanza how Nicholas’s eyes “Became wet jewels/ The hardest substance of the purest pain/ As I fed him in his high white chair.” Is this the ravings of a poet waxing romantic, or were these but the beginning signs that Nicholas’s mother’s depression had left her body and found her son?
On this, the anniversary of the passing of one of Life’s Joys, Gilding has decided to spend the occassion in celebration of her memory with some gloriously fun puddle stompers of unusual design (P.S.U.D’s — like R.O.U.S’s only not furry and life threatening.)
Smith and Hawken’s Red Wellies Soap & Dish feature their classic red wellies captured in a luxurious hand and body soap and come in a light, garden-inspired fragrance of citrus with a touch of mint.
Shuella — otherwise known as the “shoe umbrella” — was born of frustration for ruined designer shoes in inclement weather and were fashionably constructed to be worn over your high-heeled beauties with the slip of a clutch and velcro fasteners.
Feeding the need for a little Rainy Day Gardening, these colorful ceramic baby rain boot planters are packed with everything needed to start a garden — except the rain, of course.
Ah, Gilding sees some measuring a ‘boot…Ok, that was a tad too corney. The Regina Regis Rain Wellington Boot is not different in design than any other run of the mill Puddle Stomper except that it features a rain measuring scale imprinted on the boot’s side. Some have attributed the boot’s design as a demonstrative message to the rising sea levels and increased flooding that has become a threat to many, but there’s no accounting for crazy Brit’ thinking .^_~.
Some prefer the gold leaf gilding of ornate framed mirrors, but we prefer to stare at our reflection in a Puddle Stomper Mirror.
Ah, a Sterling Silver Wellington Boot Cufflinks. What could be classier than a puddle stomper on your sleeve.
Hmm…so many ways to puddle stomp, where to stop. For now we shall say ado, but not before mentioning the poshest puddle stompers around — the boots of Project Joy Boots. A non-profit organization, Project Joy Boots was established in the grief and joyous memory of Marisa Joy Williams, a young technical theater major tragically lost to family and friends this day last year. Rising from the ashes of hurt and the tears of love, Project Joy Boots set out to spread the love of puddle stompers — a personal favorite of Marisa’s and often used as a canvas for any given mood of artistry she was in at the moment — and raise enough money to establish a scholarship in Marisa’s name for other technical theater students of Gulf Coast Community College. A separate portion of funds raised from the auctioning off of these puddle stompers turned works of art is donated to the Humane Society. To make a contribution to Project Joy Boots or to donate your own pair of artistic made-over puddle stompers or to see the many boots that have been created and donated by family, friends, and artists far and wide alike, visit their facebook page, Project Joy Boots.
In 2003, archeologists in Italy unearthed two skeletons thought to be 5,000 to 6,000 years old. The discovery was made just outside of Mantua, about 25 miles south of Verona.
The pair, most certainly a man and a woman, are thought to have died young, as it indicative by the state of their teeth, most of which are intact.
What makes this discovery so unique — “something special” — is that never before had a double burial been found in the Neolithic period, much less two people held in an embrace — “…and they really are hugging,” said Elena Menotti, chief archeologist.
Link: BBC News
Studs Terkel, writer, social commentator, talk radio host, and hailed as “the most extraordinary social observer this country has produced,” died Friday, October 31st, at 96.
Terkel’s radio program was broadcast daily between 1952 and 1997. His books of oral history — including one that won him the Pulitzer Prize — maked him as the “quintessential American writer,” Dennis J. Kucinic wrote on The Nations’s Web site.
Terkel took on the social world of the 20th century — “Hard Times,” “The Good War” or “Working” — and spoke to a range of people who spoke with him about the Depression, the Second World War or the world of the workplace: the bookmaker and the stockbroker, the carpenter and the washroom attendant, the mayor and the supermarket cashier. Terkel was the Listener to Americans.
Sure, the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley, hotelier and real estate magnate, left $2 million in her will to her dog, Trouble. But that is nothing compared to what other dogs may receive from the charitable trust of Helmsley, who died last August.
According to two
sources, who remain
profess to having seen
the document, desribe
the conditions are
specified in a two page
The entire trust, valued
at $5-$8 billion and
amounting to virtually her entire estate, is to be used for the care and welfare of dogs. A provision of the mission statement allows Helmsley’s trustees to use their discretion in distributing the money. However, some lawyers say the statement may not mean much, given that its directions were not incorporated into Helmsley’s will or the trust documents.
Oh well, at least Trouble is set for puppy life.
Link: NYTimes– “Helmsley’s Fortune…”
“The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves,” he once said. “But for those who haven’t had the good fortune of finding this happiness, I am there.”
…~Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent
(August 1, 1936 — June 1, 2008 )
George Carlin was “beloved by the middle-aged, who had practically grown up with him, but also by the young people whose parents weren’t even alive when he began appearing on The Tonight Show in the 1960…” Gilding grew up in the era of in between, her parents being teenagers when Carlin’s reign began and the comedian transformed the notion of what stand-up could be. Gilding’s father was a perpetual quoter of Carlin, especially of the “Filthy Words” era. The word “Fuck” is like a household pet name in the Gilding Family and while Carlin isn’t to blame, he served as one funny ass justification to any and all who balked at our ‘indecent behanvior’.
Carlin was of the “era of bit comedy, of stories and one-liners” and routines that involved full-fledged characters, such as Al Sleet, the “hippy-dippy weatherman…whose forecasts had an existential edge.” And after the characters, Carlin’s slightly dazed-and-confused that developed became his trademark; “He didn’t seem stoned, exactly, but a lot of his humor appeared to come from that part of the brain that lesser people need drugs to activate.”
Gilding’s father, an artist and child of the 60′s wasn’t far removed from this part of his brain and as a child neither was Gilding. Gilding’s parents were shielders from harm, from those big bad things in the world that they could keep at bay while their child played blissfully in the gray shadow of their sentry, but they were not shielders of words. Rather, they were believers that if Gilding didn’t understand it on her own, then was the time, if she so inquired, that they imparted upon her what knowledge in explanation they deemed she need know. But if she did get it on her own, then her cognition was such as need not have it hidden from her. Learned morals and values from their parental tutelage would see to it the rest was taken care of. And as for Gilding’s father, he couldn’t deem a person who had more like-minded morals as his own than George Carlin. The rest is, as they say, history.
And history it has become as George Carlin died Sunday, June 22 at the age of 71. Carlin had gift for saying — and thinking — things that other people wouldn’t or couldn’t, and perhaps that is the legacy that growing up in a house where Carlin’s voice played in the background has left. “He hated religion, self-help movements, corporate and government doublespeak, shopping malls, fast food and trendy child-rearing practices…But what came through, even as he shook his head and used one more of the seven forbidden words to say how stupid we were, was his love of language itself and how various and evocative it was. Even the explitives — or perhaps especially the expletives.” Hard not to see the similarities. Not a bad legacy to leave behind if you ask Gilding.
Born George Karl Tanzler, the German born radiologist became Key West’s own necrophiliac Count Carl von Cosel.
As a child, von Cosel claimed to have been visited by visions of a dead ancestor, Countess Anna Constantia von Cosel, who revealed to him the face of his true love, an exotic dark-haired woman.
his way down to
Florida, where he took up residency at the Marine Hospital. It is there that von Cosel met reputed local beauty Maria Elena Milagro “Helen” de Hoyos, a Cuban-American woman who had been brought to the hospital by her mother. Von Cosel immediately recognized the ravishing young woman as the dark-haired beauty that had been revealed to him in his “visions.”
Hoyos married, though her husband left her after she miscarried their child. Eventually, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, the same disease her sister had succumbed to, and a typically fatal disease at the time. The disease claimed the lives of almost Hoyos’ entire family. Von Cosel, with his self-professed medical “knowledge,” attempted to treat and cure Hoyos with a variety of medicines, as well as with x-ray and electrical equipment that was brought to the Hoyos’ home, becoming obsessed with the young woman. Von Cosel showered her with gifts of jewelry and clothing, and he allegedly professed his love for her, but no evidence has ever surfaced that Hoyos reciprocated the feelings of affection.
Despite his best efforts, von Cosel was unable to save his visioned dark-haired beauty, and with the permission of the Hoyos family, von Cosel commissioned and paid for the construction of an above ground mausoleum for his beloved in the Key West City Cememtary, which he visited almost every night.
But nearly two years after her death, simply visiting his love was no longer enough and von Cosel carted her body to his home on a toy wagon after dark. Von Cosel attached the corpse’s bones together with wire and coat hangers and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse was decomposed, von Cosel replaced it with silk cloth (at least he chose the good stuff) soaked in wax and plaster of paris (hey it had to feel good and be long lasting for vigorous activity…yech). As the hair fell out of the decomposed scalp, von Cosel fashioned a wig from Hoyos hair that had been collected by her mother and given to him not long after her burial. He filled her abdominal and chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, and dressed her remains in stockings, jewelry, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Von Cosel also used copious amounts (not sure ‘copious amounts’ is still enough) of perfume, disinfectants, and pressing agents, to mask the odor and forestall the effects of decomposition.
In 1940, nearly seven years after his midnight traipse grave-robbing, the rumor mill made its way to Hoyos’ sister that von Cosel was sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister Elena. She confronted von Cosel at his home, discovering the body and notifying the police, whereupon von Cosel was arrested and detained. Found mentally competent enough to stand trial, von Cosel was charged with “wantonly and maliciously (is it malicious if you ‘copiously’ love the corpse within?) destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization (is that to say he could have asked permission to reassemble and boff the corpse?). The case was eventually dropped, though it did make it to a preliminary hearing, as the statute of limitations for the crime had…teehee, expired.
Link: Wikipedia–Carl Tanzler
The ramshackle wooden tower has loomed over Avenue B for more than 20 years, drawing curiosity–both the morbid and awed ilk.
The Toy Tower at Sixth Street and Avenue B was the 65-foot tall, toy draped wooden tower creation of Eddie Boros and the the garden’s quirky and controversial centerpiece. The creator of the monolithic sculpture? installation? disaster? was Eddie Boros–who lived in the same E. Fifth St. and Avenue B apartment in which he grew up in. He died recently at the age of 74 after receiving poor care at the V.A. Hospital in which he was recouperating from the double amputation of his legs.
“NYPD Blue” featured the tower in its opening credits and a half-size replica of it graces the stage of “RENT,” the East Village rock opera. “NYPD Blue” would occasionally return to the garden to get a fresh shot of the tower to stay current with its ever-changing appearance.
Born the middle child of Hungarian immigrants, Boros followed the family trade of house painter, but also had a consuming passion for art.
His tower came about after he joined the then-two-year-old garden — around the corner from his house — in 1985. He began carving big wood sculptures in the middle of the garden, but this was taking up space and the wood chips were flying everywhere. Founding member of the garden, Joanee Freedom explains that “each gardener only got one 4-foot-by-8-foot plot…We told him, ‘Put it on your plot.’”
So Boros picked a plot–and built up. In the end, the Tower’s base grew to engulf eight plots.
But while tourists loved it (a Japanese town wanted to purchase it), Boros found both his creation, and himself, the source of much chagrin and contention. This, of course, could be due to his penchant for climbing to the top of the Tower at two o’clock in the morning to beat on his drum or toot his horn. And some gardeners felt it was dangers–and bitched that the Tower blocked sunlight to several plots. Every year votes were taken on whether it should be torn down, but each time it narrowly survived.
“A forerunner of today’s recycling movement, Boros felt much of what was discarded as garbage had beauty and told the story of the neighborhood. Early on, he decided to decorate his tower with refuse that he found both on the streets of the East Village and sometimes farther abroad.
Many of the things he collected he gave to neighborhood children. He made bikes and airplanes for the kids. He never married or had children of his own, though it was as if the whole neighborhood was his family.”
He was also renowned for his attire — or lack of it. He walked around the neighborhood with his size-14 feet bare, without a shirt, wearing black cutoff jeans shorts and always a string of pearls around his neck.
But in the end, despite media coverage and narrow support, the Toy Tower was dismantled last Tuesday [May 20, 2008] after the city deemed it structurally unsound.
Cristal summed it up the best, though: ” I just liked how ugly the thing was. When you walked down Avenue B, it was like, “Ooh, have a delicious Kir Royale at Rue B! Try an organic, grass-fed burger at Back Forty! Eek! Shit-covered toys hanging from the sky!”
Links: NYTimes Week in Pictures | The Villager | New York magazine
Cornell Capa, who founded the International Center of Photography in New York after a long and distinguished career as a photojournalist, first on the staff of Life magazine and then as a member of Magnum Photos, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 90.
Capa had three important incarnations in the field of photography: successful photojournalist; champion of Robert Capa, his older brother, among the greatest war photographers; and founder and first director of the International Center of Photography, which, since it was established in 1974, has become one of the most influential photographic institutions for exhibition, collection and education in the world.
In Capa’s nearly 30 years as a photojournalist, he steadfastly adhered to a code of professionalism that is best summed up by the title of his 1968 book, “The Concerned Photographer.” He used the phrase often to describe any photographer who was passionately dedicated to doing work that contributed to the understanding and well-being of humanity and who produced “images in which genuine human feeling predominates over commercial cynicism or disinterested formalism,” he said.
Link: NYTimes–Cornell Capa
As you walk along Seventh Avenue, look for the black archway with the letters “B’nai Zion” [of Key West's historic 1847 Cemetery] marking the Jewish Cemetery entry. To the immediate left is a large white crypt with a facing tablet inscribed “I Told You I was Sick.”
This epitaph of a hypochondriac was quoted in by the American writer Paul Theroux on BBC Radio Quote…Unquote on December 22, 1981, though it had long remained a source of specualation and good old fashioned grapevine gossip as to where the epitaph or who the hypochondriac whose at expense humor was found actually was.
In 2004, Robert Deis of Cudjoe Key, Florida, confirmed what had become a local legend to Key Westeners. Inscribed on a facing tablet of a large white crypt in the Key West Cemeter reads:
I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK
May 17, 1929–June 18, 1979
B. Pearl Roberts was, in fact, a waitress who people viewed as a laughable hypochondriac. Apparently Roberts got the last laugh.
It has taken this entire month for Gilding to get through reading Vanity Fair’s article, The Golden Suicides. Written about the lifes’ and deaths’ of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, the article’s content is of a heart turning love, adoration, hopes and dreams, and tragic paranoia (founded? unfounded? The answers still remain elusive), and the long sleep goodnight that makes the joined soul weep.
Gilding had hoped the article would create some logic yellow brick road to the side of most likely, but what she got was a deeper look into two people that only made her mourn their loss–loss, seems like such a trite word that somehow only furthers perpetuate a pseudo-disrespectfulness of their brilliant lives in substitution of focusing on their deaths. But one can’t help but speak of their death even if to focus the whole of their conversation on the Golden Duos life because the inevitable end is that they are dead and that their deaths, in the morbid manner that it is, is just as intrinsic of the path they have left trodden on all who “knew” them as their life did–does.
Gilding thought about writing a searing commentary about the article, about all her ponderings, rationalizations, disputes—about what all of these things may have meant in the lives of the Golden Duo from her perspective. But none of that is what made Gilding’s heart weep. None of that–the hype, the conspiracy, the controversy–are the things that Gilding found important of these two Golden individuals.
No, what Gilding couldn’t shake from her mind, no matter the morbid connundrum of the conspiracy theories, hard, cold facts, or write-offs of paranoia, were an analagoy to Duncan as being Mimi Smartypants, star of Smarty, and Blake, a Hero of Chevy Chase in Caddyshack and Han Solo proportions.
“”At the quarry in July,” she wrote, “my cousins told me the water was ‘bottomless,’ and so I hugged the shore and learned to swim in the Lapeer library instead, suspecting already exactly what the limitless meant…Ever after I knew all the haunted shades of meaning that were captive in other people’s words. And for that they called me mad.”
She wanted to be famous. She wanted to be noticed.
Jeremy wanted to be a hero…he was just an artist, and funny and shy.
He made her laugh.
He thought she was lovely.
She was a little wild…and Jeremy loved wildness in people. “By wildness I’m not referring to some corny idea of rock n’ roll excess,” he said. “I’m talking about an internal turbulence and inventiveness that keeps the person and everyonw around him or her on their toes.”
He loved the way they lived…it was like a reflection of her intricate brain, stuffed will all her books and knicknacks…She was a packrat.
She made him feel free, and that made him feel loyal…all anyone could say with certainty was that Jeremy and Theresa loved eachother.
He had found her on the bed. Her face seemed almost smiling. Somehow, one of her hands had traveled up toward her cheek and was frozen there, as if she had just thought of something else she wanted to say.
Blake said that Theresa was “never a person to compromise,” and that he had a “clear understanding” that she had made the decision to end her life. He said that in doing so she had exhibited the same “strength” that she had shown when she was alive…that she was “beautiful, generous, and lived by a code all her own.”
…walking naked into the water. It was the last in a series of heroic gestures he made for the lovely Theresa.”
The article in and of itself is worthy of reading–fair to both sides of the arguements, the conspiracy theorists and the paranoiads. It expresses the evolution of their lives as best as can be done from the outside looking in, but the moral of the story is best said by Blake [of his request to friends regarding Duncan's passing]: “spread no more sadness in the world.”
The Golden Suicides by Nancy Jo Sales, Vanity Fair, No 569, January 2008
Last night my sister and I were sitting in the den and I said to her, “I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle to keep me alive. That would be no quality of life at all, If that ever happens, just pull the plug.”
So she got up, unplugged the computer, and threw out my wine.
She’s such a bitch.
Great Aunt Gilding
But Gilding Should like to close out the year with this rememberance of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake (a.k.a. Mr. & Mrs. Wit) instead:
“ Jeremy and Theresa often had small parties at their place in Venice and when I had the pleasure of attending, it felt like the best place to be in the world. They could throw together an after-dinner party in the blink of an eye with a bottle of champagne, a bag of potato chips, great conversation and a log for the fire. House arrest at their place would have been a treat. It was filled with curious things; books stacked everywhere, art, photographs, music, their dog Tuesday and much evidence of a loving and creative life together. “
~ Terri Phillips, In Memoriam